War and Peace Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary
At his audience with the emperor, Andrei immediately sees that the emperor really doesn’t give a fig about him or his intel. The emperor asks a series of totally random, disconnected questions and doesn’t even listen to the answers.
But as soon as the interview is over, everyone else at court starts to kiss Andrei’s posterior, hardcore. He immediately gets invitations to the houses of some fancy people, and the Russian ambassador tells him that he’s awesome.
Andrei comes back to Bilibin’s house after an afternoon with some archduchess, only to find that everyone is packing up and leaving town. It seems that Napoleon has crossed the bridge out of Vienna and is now making his way towards Brunn.
How on earth? That bridge was supposed to be mined with explosives and there was a huge army battalion guarding the other side.
Bilibin tells him this crazy story (which is historically true, by the way):
Three French generals wave a white flag and walk across the bridge to their Austrian counterparts.
The French generals pretend they have important information – that the war is over, a truce has been declared, and Napoleon really wants to meet with the general in charge of this battalion. He’s on his way over as they speak.
The Austrian guys totally buy it and are really pleased to immediately be pals with the French generals.
Meanwhile, some French soldiers sneak onto the bridge, untie the explosives, and throw them into the river.
And then the French army follows. Very nice.
Andrei is all, wait, what? But also, he immediately starts daydreaming about how this could be his lucky break. He could become the savior of the army and win the war single-handedly. OK Rambo, maybe settle down a bit.
Andrei gets all his stuff together. Bilibin argues that Andrei should come with him to the next little town and get as far away from the army as possible. But Andrei isn’t having it.