ACT SIXTH SCENE I
THE FIELD OF AUSTERLITZ. THE FRENCH POSITION
The night is the ist of December following, and the eve of the battle. The view is from the elevated position of the Emperor's bivouac. The air cuts keen and the sky glistens with stars, but the lower levels are covered with a white fog stretching like a sea, from which the heights protrude as dusky rocks.
To the left are discernible high and wooded hills. In the front mid-distance the plateau of Pratzen outstands, declining suddenly on the right to a low flat country covered with marshes and pools now mostly obscured. On the plateau itself are seen innumerable and varying lights, marking the bivouac of the centre divisions of the Austro-Russian army. Close to the foreground the fires of the French are burning, surrounded by soldiery. The invisible presence of the countless thousands of massed humanity that compose the two armies makes itself felt indefinably.
The tent of NAPOLEON rises nearest at hand, with sentinel and other military figures looming around, and saddled horses held by attendants. The accents of the Emperor are audible, through the canvas from inside, dictating a proclamation.
VOICE OF NAPOLEON
" Soldiers, the hordes of Muscovy now face you, To mend the Austrian overthrow at Ulm ! But how so ? Are not these the self-same bands You met and swept aside at Hollabriinn, And whose retreating forms, dismayed to flight, Your feet pursued along the trackways here ? "Our own position, massed and menacing, Is rich in chance for opportune attack ;