Act 5, Scenes 1-3

SCENE 1: The Hill of Three Crosses over Vilna

Vasalisa, Albina, Vitaly, Valentina, Angelina & Natasha are looking down on Vilna

Look how they stream like rats into Smolensk
A flailing army wedded to its fate
This settlement of luxuries foresworn
Is nothing but the tombstone of thousands

When reaching Europa’s icy regions
Napoleon could not nature subdue
Was precipitated from the summit
By forceful instigation of our arms –
Irresistible, invulnerable
& wonderful Russia, we love you so!



He is proud as Ceasar
Accidental Ceasar, Bonaparte
Abandoning his army
He heard his Guards say please Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Don’t ever forget us

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran off

He slips away from Russia
As swiftly as the wind, Bonaparte
His freezing royal highness
Disguis’d upon a sled Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Will never forget Rus

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran away

We were surprised to hear
He did not make decrees, Bonaparte
Abolishing the winter
Banishing the snow, Bonaparte
Titi Bonparte
Toto Bonaparte
Will never forget us

Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon, ran off


My grandfather spoke of a prophecy
Conjuring a time when the Tartar host
Would surge to the banks of the Gallic Seine
Behold first steps here taken to its truth
Set steadily at liberty to pass
These overthrown French forces, as they drag
On their startling, debacling parade.

Mistress Vasalisa, what is this cross
Among the other wooden ones, atop
This hill, arot with worms & badly aged

A gloomy legend fixes to this place
Seven Franciscan friars were beheaded
For badmouthing Lithuanian idols
& by the city walls, commutual,
Another seven crucified or toss’d
Into the river clad in chains

Sounds of gunfire

Shots! Shots!

Enter Vladamir

Mistress Vasalisa

Is it the French

Soldiers in dozens ascending the hill

We had better move off

{more gun shots, louder}

That sounds closer

Quickly to the treeline

All except Vitaly make a dash for the trees – Vitaly stands looking down the hill with a scythe

Vitaly run!

A shot rings out that fells Vitaly – he is wounded


{trying to holding him back}
Vladamir, no

He needs help

Vladamir breaks free & runs to Vitaly but is felled dead from a shot by Picard – the rest of the partisans flee

That’s right, flee ye pathetic partisans
Cowardly chickens, too afraid to fight
{To Vitaly}
Well, it looks like you’re abandon’d, young man,
Bleeding to death to boot, at least I can
Release ye from your mortal agonies
{Picart shoots Vitaly dead}
Frighten’d canaries come back here & fight
Ye raggedy crew of peasants & hinds
Ye craven, dastard, recreant poltroons!
{Picard turns to look on the army retreating from Vilna}
See how they go again into the snow
Better to see it softening the blow
Of horrors seeing in that sad city,
It is impossible to show pity,
Insensible to our own sufferings,
Let alone the miseries of others –
I saw formaldehyde-soaked specimens
From university laboratories
Funell’d into starving maws like mutton
Five months before, on our march east, we sang
Songs of pure rejoicing, now just silence
Accompanies our fugitive retreat
Blinded by snowfall, ice-crusted by sleet
Footdragging thro’ a universe congeal’d
By dismal Death’s murmourless murderfield
As out of air beside drop dead-frozen birds
Men fall down still without complaint or words
& breathe their last with calm resignation
Releas’d from this pain’s peregrination
The blood now freezing in their seizing veins
Oblivion, at last, each man obtains.

Exit Picart


SCENE 2: An inn between Leipzig & Erfut

An Innkeeper is showing Napoleon & Caulaincourt their room

Here you are, make yourselves comfortable
This might not be Paris, but in Leipzig
We like to think our guests will come again
My wife’s already cooking for that cause

How long before the sledge is fixed

An hour
Maybe two, but there lies not enough snow
For such a mode of travel, better swap
Your sled for a carriage down in Erfut

We shall, & thank-you


Yes, sir

What think you of the war & Bonaparte

Well… Bonaparte, the Emperor, is good
In constant service to this modern world
With more common sense than many a man
At the head of affairs, he is no mere

& the war

A waste of life
There’s not so many paying customers
Since half of Europe march’d towards the East

Enter Innkeeper’s Wife

Innkeeper’s Wife
Good morning… here are fried & eggs & white bread
Freshly baked this morning, a little game

I caught the rabbit yesterday myself

A hearty breakfast, & is that coffee

Innkeeper’s wife


We shall leave you to it

Innkeeper’s Wife
Eat & drink, & if you like, be merry

Exit Innkeeper & his Wife – Napoleon & Caulaincourt begin to eat their breakfast

I am much taken by that warm couple
Their kindness & sincerity delights

The closer that we are to France, the less
Preoccupied & careworn do you seem

Perhaps, but I cannot, will not relax
Until we reach our borders – do you think
I was recognized by the innkeeper

Napoleon has never grown a beard
You are quite safe

I fear an ambuscade
Secret assassination in the night

Sire, if Eighteen Twelve was your year to die
It should have happen’d by now, you will reach
Paris, alive

Yes, & see the Empress
My cherub offspring hold aloft & smile
At words he tries to mumble with sweet sounds
How is the meat?

Balanced & peppery

I was most dissapointed by Poland

What do you mean?

Why they refused to rise
& thwart the Russian’s behemoth’s advance

I suspect it is the uncertain vale
Of future spread, they supplied the campaign
More than any other nation, even
The richest have but pennies to their name
While gossips spreading danger, scatter doubts
Of economy far too exhausted
To contemplate a war against the Tsar

But for the winter they would have risen
Who wants to war in cold, grey drudgery
But come the spring we’ll need their buffer’s edge
& Poland must be made more powerful
It must have Danzig & a coastal strip
To outlet the markets of its produce
&, also, it must have a foreign king
A Pole would conjure many jealousies
Murat would suit, but has so little sense
Jerome too vain, a blundersom buffoon
Whom would you have made king

I, your highness,
Who never before has laurell’d a brow
With crowns, am unqualified to answer
But there is one caution I might advise
The establishment of your dynasty
Across the thrones of Europe undermines
A cordial respect for your embrace
When nations are transform’d to prefectures
& kings only proconsuls, who might be
Removed at any whim by your highness.

Hmm – I think you you would make a better king
Than any of my brothers ever will

A knock on the door

{drawing sword & pistol}
Who is it

Innkeeper’s Wife
The lady of the house, sir

Enter Innkeeper’s Wife & Stella

Innkeeper’s Wife
Sorry to disturb, but this is my niece
She sells beads, you see, & was wondering
If your lady folk would like their allure

Let us see

Innkeeper’s Wife
I shall leave you three to it
With God’s peace, which passeth understanding

Exit Innkeeper’s Wife

Hello men of France, welcome to Leipzig
I have fine beads of glass, necklaces, rings
All locally crafted with expertise
Come look…

Yes, there are many pretty things
I will take them all as a souvenir
Of this journey for my wife

All of them?

Yes, all, in return take these golden coins,
That must be seven times your trinkets worth

You are too kind, a gracious traveller
God bless you on your journies to your wives

Exit Stella

We should divide them between us, take half
For the lady of your heart

I shall, sire

Caulaincourt begins to divide the jewels – there is a knock on the door – enter Innkeeper

That is the runner fix’d, your sled renew’d

You are a legendary engineer
Do take these gold napoleons, each one
Worth twenty francs, & add to them our thanks
For such a pleasant stay, however short

It is my duty sirs, to humble serve
God’s children if they ever step inside
My humble home

& a dear godfather
You are to us all

Exit Napoleon

Your companion…
An interesting fellow, magnetic,

Indeed he is, indeed he is, goodbye

Exit Caulanicourt – The Innkeeper collects the plates & exits

SCENE 3: The Russian Wastes

Bourgogne is resting on a tree stumpa French soldier is suffering nearby

French Soldier
If only my mother had not bore me
I curse my parents for giving me life!

What a dream we are all wander’d into
A stream of shadows under leaden sky
Enwrapp’d in snow, tight-sewn in silent shroud
Absorb’d in private thoughts & lonely fears
Watch’d on by those foggy & frozen ghosts
Of buglers, sat bolt upright in saddles,
Still as lizards, quarelling with blizzards
To mouths of stone their copper lips glued fast
While, above, driving snow & writhing wind
Leave the hearts of warriors well broken

Enter Rossi – he is in a bad way & walking painfully crutch’d by a musket – there are sheepskins hung over his shoulders & wrapping his feet – he is leaning on musket

Rossi, is that really you

How flush am I to see your face old friend
But to my fibres wholly astonish’d
To witness your liberty warms me, sir
Our friends were growing very uneasy
There’ll be unbound gladnesses when they know

You are alone


Where are the others

Well, both my feet are frozen to the bone
Unable thus to walk as well & swift
As the poor remnant of our regiment
I am become the seperated slice
But gain coactivity each fresh night
When fire spreads heat & horseflesh boils oer blaze
{Rossi collapses}
But this day I shall not make it I fear,
My strength the weakest it has clearly been
Upon this dreary hike, each step saps more
My poor mother, if you could see me now
I shall never leave this devil country
Nor again see beautiful Montauban

I, too, am exhausted quartermaster
But look how far we’ve come, full eighty leagues
Since Berezina, now only fifteen
More to Kowno, fifteen of three hundred,
We are so close, we can help each other

Maybe today we can go together
But these will be the last stretch of my legs
I sense it well, my end has all but come
I am undone, there is no living, none
But I would rather transpass in some warmth
Than on this spot of untranspeciate earth
Entering frozen sleep that never wakes
So easy just to sleep the peace of dreams

To dream of peaceful sleeping is to die
Salvation does not hide behind the eyes
Rossi, Rossi, wake up,

Wait, what, what is it

The one thing it is not, sir, is your time
Can you stand


Let us march my friend
Or shuffle rather, one last time abreast
& ward away the sting of death alike

I would not feel it anyway, Bourgogne,
My brains are frozen, there’s no feeling left

Exit Bourgogne & Rossi in some discomfort

French Soldier
I am sorry mother, please forgive me
Father, I promise to be a good boy
Mother, are you there… is that you… father

The soldier dies


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