On the evening of the last day's march an order had been received that the commander in chief would inspect the regiment on the march. Though the words of the order were not clear to the regimental commander, and the question arose whether the troops were to be in marching order or not, it was decided at a consultation between the battalion commanders to present the regiment in parade order, on the principle that it is always better to "bow too low than not bow low enough." So the soldiers, after a twenty-mile march, were kept mending and cleaning all night long without closing their eyes, while the adjutants and company commanders calculated and reckoned, and by morning the regiment—instead of the straggling, disorderly crowd it had been on its last march the day before—presented a well-ordered array of two thousand men each of whom knew his place and his duty, had every button and every strap in place, and shone with cleanliness. And not only externally was all in order, but had it pleased the commander in chief to look under the uniforms he would have found on every man a clean shirt, and in every knapsack the appointed number of articles, "awl, soap, and all," as the soldiers say. There was only one circumstance concerning which no one could be at ease. It was the state of the soldiers' boots. More than half the men's boots were in holes. But this defect was not due to any fault of the regimental commander, for in spite of repeated demands boots had not been issued by the Austrian commissariat, and the regiment had marched some seven hundred miles.
The commander of the regiment was an elderly, choleric, stout, and thick-set general with grizzled eyebrows and whiskers, and wider from chest to back than across the shoulders. He had on a brand-new uniform showing the creases where it had been folded and thick gold epaulettes which seemed to stand rather than lie down on his massive shoulders. He had the air of a man happily performing one of the most solemn duties of his life. He walked about in front of the line and at every step pulled himself up, slightly arching his back. It was plain that the commander admired his regiment, rejoiced in it, and that his whole mind was engrossed by it, yet his strut seemed to indicate that, besides military matters, social interests and the fair sex occupied no small part of his thoughts.
"Well, Michael Mitrich, sir?" he said, addressing one of the battalion commanders who smilingly pressed forward (it was plain that they both felt happy). "We had our hands full last night. However, I think the regiment is not a bad one, eh?"
The battalion commander perceived the jovial irony and laughed.
"It would not be turned off the field even on the Tsaritsin Meadow."
"What?" asked the commander.
At that moment, on the road from the town on which signalers had been posted, two men appeared on horse back. They were an aide-de-camp followed by a Cossack.
The aide-de-camp was sent to confirm the order which had not been clearly worded the day before, namely, that the commander in chief wished to see the regiment just in the state in which it had been on the march: in their greatcoats, and packs, and without any preparation whatever.
A member of the Hofkriegsrath from Vienna had come to Kutuzov the day before with proposals and demands for him to join up with the army of the Archduke Ferdinand and Mack, and Kutuzov, not considering this junction advisable, meant, among other arguments in support of his view, to show the Austrian general the wretched state in which the troops arrived from Russia. With this object he intended to meet the regiment; so the worse the condition it was in, the better pleased the commander in chief would be. Though the aide-de-camp did not know these circumstances, he nevertheless delivered the definite order that the men should be in their greatcoats and in marching order, and that the commander in chief would otherwise be dissatisfied. On hearing this the regimental commander hung his head, silently shrugged his shoulders, and spread out his arms with a choleric gesture.
"A fine mess we've made of it!" he remarked.
"There now! Didn't I tell you, Michael Mitrich, that if it was said 'on the march' it meant in greatcoats?" said he reproachfully to the battalion commander. "Oh, my God!" he added, stepping resolutely forward. "Company commanders!" he shouted in a voice accustomed to command. "Sergeants major!... How soon will he be here?" he asked the aide-de-camp with a respectful politeness evidently relating to the personage he was referring to.
"In an hour's time, I should say."
"Shall we have time to change clothes?"
"I don't know, General...."
The regimental commander, going up to the line himself, ordered the soldiers to change into their greatcoats. The company commanders ran off to their companies, the sergeants major began bustling (the greatcoats were not in very good condition), and instantly the squares that had up to then been in regular order and silent began to sway and stretch and hum with voices. On all sides soldiers were running to and fro, throwing up their knapsacks with a jerk of their shoulders and pulling the straps over their heads, unstrapping their overcoats and drawing the sleeves on with upraised arms.
In half an hour all was again in order, only the squares had become gray instead of black. The regimental commander walked with his jerky steps to the front of the regiment and examined it from a distance.
"Whatever is this? This!" he shouted and stood still. "Commander of the third company!"
"Commander of the third company wanted by the general!... commander to the general... third company to the commander." The words passed along the lines and an adjutant ran to look for the missing officer.
When the eager but misrepeated words had reached their destination in a cry of: "The general to the third company," the missing officer appeared from behind his company and, though he was a middle-aged man and not in the habit of running, trotted awkwardly stumbling on his toes toward the general. The captain's face showed the uneasiness of a schoolboy who is told to repeat a lesson he has not learned. Spots appeared on his nose, the redness of which was evidently due to intemperance, and his mouth twitched nervously. The general looked the captain up and down as he came up panting, slackening his pace as he approached.
"You will soon be dressing your men in petticoats! What is this?" shouted the regimental commander, thrusting forward his jaw and pointing at a soldier in the ranks of the third company in a greatcoat of bluish cloth, which contrasted with the others. "What have you been after? The commander in chief is expected and you leave your place? Eh? I'll teach you to dress the men in fancy coats for a parade.... Eh...?"
The commander of the company, with his eyes fixed on his superior, pressed two fingers more and more rigidly to his cap, as if in this pressure lay his only hope of salvation.
"Well, why don't you speak? Whom have you got there dressed up as a Hungarian?" said the commander with an austere gibe.
"Well, your excellency, what? Your excellency! But what about your excellency?... nobody knows."
"Your excellency, it's the officer Dolokhov, who has been reduced to the ranks," said the captain softly.
"Well? Has he been degraded into a field marshal, or into a soldier? If a soldier, he should be dressed in regulation uniform like the others."
"Your excellency, you gave him leave yourself, on the march."
"Gave him leave? Leave? That's just like you young men," said the regimental commander cooling down a little. "Leave indeed.... One says a word to you and you... What?" he added with renewed irritation, "I beg you to dress your men decently."
And the commander, turning to look at the adjutant, directed his jerky steps down the line. He was evidently pleased at his own display of anger and walking up to the regiment wished to find a further excuse for wrath. Having snapped at an officer for an unpolished badge, at another because his line was not straight, he reached the third company.
"H-o-o-w are you standing? Where's your leg? Your leg?" shouted the commander with a tone of suffering in his voice, while there were still five men between him and Dolokhov with his bluish-gray uniform.
Dolokhov slowly straightened his bent knee, looking straight with his clear, insolent eyes in the general's face.
"Why a blue coat? Off with it... Sergeant major! Change his coat... the ras..." he did not finish.
"General, I must obey orders, but I am not bound to endure..." Dolokhov hurriedly interrupted.
"No talking in the ranks!... No talking, no talking!"
"Not bound to endure insults," Dolokhov concluded in loud, ringing tones.
The eyes of the general and the soldier met. The general became silent, angrily pulling down his tight scarf.
"I request you to have the goodness to change your coat," he said as he turned away.
"He's coming!" shouted the signaler at that moment.
The regimental commander, flushing, ran to his horse, seized the stirrup with trembling hands, threw his body across the saddle, righted himself, drew his saber, and with a happy and resolute countenance, opening his mouth awry, prepared to shout. The regiment fluttered like a bird preening its plumage and became motionless.
"Att-ention!" shouted the regimental commander in a soul-shaking voice which expressed joy for himself, severity for the regiment, and welcome for the approaching chief.
Along the broad country road, edged on both sides by trees, came a high, light blue Viennese caleche, slightly creaking on its springs and drawn by six horses at a smart trot. Behind the caleche galloped the suite and a convoy of Croats. Beside Kutuzov sat an Austrian general, in a white uniform that looked strange among the Russian black ones. The caleche stopped in front of the regiment. Kutuzov and the Austrian general were talking in low voices and Kutuzov smiled slightly as treading heavily he stepped down from the carriage just as if those two thousand men breathlessly gazing at him and the regimental commander did not exist.
The word of command rang out, and again the regiment quivered, as with a jingling sound it presented arms. Then amidst a dead silence the feeble voice of the commander in chief was heard. The regiment roared, "Health to your ex... len... len... lency!" and again all became silent. At first Kutuzov stood still while the regiment moved; then he and the general in white, accompanied by the suite, walked between the ranks.
From the way the regimental commander saluted the commander in chief and devoured him with his eyes, drawing himself up obsequiously, and from the way he walked through the ranks behind the generals, bending forward and hardly able to restrain his jerky movements, and from the way he darted forward at every word or gesture of the commander in chief, it was evident that he performed his duty as a subordinate with even greater zeal than his duty as a commander. Thanks to the strictness and assiduity of its commander the regiment, in comparison with others that had reached Braunau at the same time, was in splendid condition. There were only 217 sick and stragglers. Everything was in good order except the boots.
Kutuzov walked through the ranks, sometimes stopping to say a few friendly words to officers he had known in the Turkish war, sometimes also to the soldiers. Looking at their boots he several times shook his head sadly, pointing them out to the Austrian general with an expression which seemed to say that he was not blaming anyone, but could not help noticing what a bad state of things it was. The regimental commander ran forward on each such occasion, fearing to miss a single word of the commander in chief's regarding the regiment. Behind Kutuzov, at a distance that allowed every softly spoken word to be heard, followed some twenty men of his suite. These gentlemen talked among themselves and sometimes laughed. Nearest of all to the commander in chief walked a handsome adjutant. This was Prince Bolkonski. Beside him was his comrade Nesvitski, a tall staff officer, extremely stout, with a kindly, smiling, handsome face and moist eyes. Nesvitski could hardly keep from laughter provoked by a swarthy hussar officer who walked beside him. This hussar, with a grave face and without a smile or a change in the expression of his fixed eyes, watched the regimental commander's back and mimicked his every movement. Each time the commander started and bent forward, the hussar started and bent forward in exactly the same manner. Nesvitski laughed and nudged the others to make them look at the wag.
Kutuzov walked slowly and languidly past thousands of eyes which were starting from their sockets to watch their chief. On reaching the third company he suddenly stopped. His suite, not having expected this, involuntarily came closer to him.
"Ah, Timokhin!" said he, recognizing the red-nosed captain who had been reprimanded on account of the blue greatcoat.
One would have thought it impossible for a man to stretch himself more than Timokhin had done when he was reprimanded by the regimental commander, but now that the commander in chief addressed him he drew himself up to such an extent that it seemed he could not have sustained it had the commander in chief continued to look at him, and so Kutuzov, who evidently understood his case and wished him nothing but good, quickly turned away, a scarcely perceptible smile flitting over his scarred and puffy face.
"Another Ismail comrade," said he. "A brave officer! Are you satisfied with him?" he asked the regimental commander.
And the latter—unconscious that he was being reflected in the hussar officer as in a looking glass—started, moved forward, and answered: "Highly satisfied, your excellency!"
"We all have our weaknesses," said Kutuzov smiling and walking away from him. "He used to have a predilection for Bacchus."
The regimental commander was afraid he might be blamed for this and did not answer. The hussar at that moment noticed the face of the red-nosed captain and his drawn-in stomach, and mimicked his expression and pose with such exactitude that Nesvitski could not help laughing. Kutuzov turned round. The officer evidently had complete control of his face, and while Kutuzov was turning managed to make a grimace and then assume a most serious, deferential, and innocent expression.
The third company was the last, and Kutuzov pondered, apparently trying to recollect something. Prince Andrew stepped forward from among the suite and said in French:
"You told me to remind you of the officer Dolokhov, reduced to the ranks in this regiment."
"Where is Dolokhov?" asked Kutuzov.
Dolokhov, who had already changed into a soldier's gray greatcoat, did not wait to be called. The shapely figure of the fair-haired soldier, with his clear blue eyes, stepped forward from the ranks, went up to the commander in chief, and presented arms.
"Have you a complaint to make?" Kutuzov asked with a slight frown.
"This is Dolokhov," said Prince Andrew.
"Ah!" said Kutuzov. "I hope this will be a lesson to you. Do your duty. The Emperor is gracious, and I shan't forget you if you deserve well."
The clear blue eyes looked at the commander in chief just as boldly as they had looked at the regimental commander, seeming by their expression to tear open the veil of convention that separates a commander in chief so widely from a private.
"One thing I ask of your excellency," Dolokhov said in his firm, ringing, deliberate voice. "I ask an opportunity to atone for my fault and prove my devotion to His Majesty the Emperor and to Russia!"
Kutuzov turned away. The same smile of the eyes with which he had turned from Captain Timokhin again flitted over his face. He turned away with a grimace as if to say that everything Dolokhov had said to him and everything he could say had long been known to him, that he was weary of it and it was not at all what he wanted. He turned away and went to the carriage.
The regiment broke up into companies, which went to their appointed quarters near Braunau, where they hoped to receive boots and clothes and to rest after their hard marches.
"You won't bear me a grudge, Prokhor Ignatych?" said the regimental commander, overtaking the third company on its way to its quarters and riding up to Captain Timokhin who was walking in front. (The regimental commander's face now that the inspection was happily over beamed with irrepressible delight.) "It's in the Emperor's service... it can't be helped... one is sometimes a bit hasty on parade... I am the first to apologize, you know me!... He was very pleased!" And he held out his hand to the captain.
"Don't mention it, General, as if I'd be so bold!" replied the captain, his nose growing redder as he gave a smile which showed where two front teeth were missing that had been knocked out by the butt end of a gun at Ismail.
"And tell Mr. Dolokhov that I won't forget him—he may be quite easy. And tell me, please—I've been meaning to ask—how is he behaving himself, and in general..."
"As far as the service goes he is quite punctilious, your excellency; but his character..." said Timokhin.
"And what about his character?" asked the regimental commander.
"It's different on different days," answered the captain. "One day he is sensible, well educated, and good-natured, and the next he's a wild beast.... In Poland, if you please, he nearly killed a Jew."
"Oh, well, well!" remarked the regimental commander. "Still, one must have pity on a young man in misfortune. You know he has important connections... Well, then, you just..."
"I will, your excellency," said Timokhin, showing by his smile that he understood his commander's wish.
"Well, of course, of course!"
The regimental commander sought out Dolokhov in the ranks and, reining in his horse, said to him:
"After the next affair... epaulettes."
Dolokhov looked round but did not say anything, nor did the mocking smile on his lips change.
"Well, that's all right," continued the regimental commander. "A cup of vodka for the men from me," he added so that the soldiers could hear. "I thank you all! God be praised!" and he rode past that company and overtook the next one.
"Well, he's really a good fellow, one can serve under him," said Timokhin to the subaltern beside him.
"In a word, a hearty one..." said the subaltern, laughing (the regimental commander was nicknamed King of Hearts).
The cheerful mood of their officers after the inspection infected the soldiers. The company marched on gaily. The soldiers' voices could be heard on every side.
"And they said Kutuzov was blind of one eye?"
"And so he is! Quite blind!"
"No, friend, he is sharper-eyed than you are. Boots and leg bands... he noticed everything..."
"When he looked at my feet, friend... well, thinks I..."
"And that other one with him, the Austrian, looked as if he were smeared with chalk—as white as flour! I suppose they polish him up as they do the guns."
"I say, Fedeshon!... Did he say when the battles are to begin? You were near him. Everybody said that Buonaparte himself was at Braunau."
"Buonaparte himself!... Just listen to the fool, what he doesn't know! The Prussians are up in arms now. The Austrians, you see, are putting them down. When they've been put down, the war with Buonaparte will begin. And he says Buonaparte is in Braunau! Shows you're a fool. You'd better listen more carefully!"
"What devils these quartermasters are! See, the fifth company is turning into the village already... they will have their buckwheat cooked before we reach our quarters."
"Give me a biscuit, you devil!"
"And did you give me tobacco yesterday? That's just it, friend! Ah, well, never mind, here you are."
"They might call a halt here or we'll have to do another four miles without eating."
"Wasn't it fine when those Germans gave us lifts! You just sit still and are drawn along."
"And here, friend, the people are quite beggarly. There they all seemed to be Poles—all under the Russian crown—but here they're all regular Germans."
"Singers to the front" came the captain's order.
And from the different ranks some twenty men ran to the front. A drummer, their leader, turned round facing the singers, and flourishing his arm, began a long-drawn-out soldiers' song, commencing with the words: "Morning dawned, the sun was rising," and concluding: "On then, brothers, on to glory, led by Father Kamenski." This song had been composed in the Turkish campaign and now being sung in Austria, the only change being that the words "Father Kamenski" were replaced by "Father Kutuzov."
Having jerked out these last words as soldiers do and waved his arms as if flinging something to the ground, the drummer—a lean, handsome soldier of forty—looked sternly at the singers and screwed up his eyes. Then having satisfied himself that all eyes were fixed on him, he raised both arms as if carefully lifting some invisible but precious object above his head and, holding it there for some seconds, suddenly flung it down and began:
"Oh, my bower, oh, my bower...!"
"Oh, my bower new...!" chimed in twenty voices, and the castanet player, in spite of the burden of his equipment, rushed out to the front and, walking backwards before the company, jerked his shoulders and flourished his castanets as if threatening someone. The soldiers, swinging their arms and keeping time spontaneously, marched with long steps. Behind the company the sound of wheels, the creaking of springs, and the tramp of horses' hoofs were heard. Kutuzov and his suite were returning to the town. The commander in chief made a sign that the men should continue to march at ease, and he and all his suite showed pleasure at the sound of the singing and the sight of the dancing soldier and the gay and smartly marching men. In the second file from the right flank, beside which the carriage passed the company, a blue-eyed soldier involuntarily attracted notice. It was Dolokhov marching with particular grace and boldness in time to the song and looking at those driving past as if he pitied all who were not at that moment marching with the company. The hussar cornet of Kutuzov's suite who had mimicked the regimental commander, fell back from the carriage and rode up to Dolokhov.
Hussar cornet Zherkov had at one time, in Petersburg, belonged to the wild set led by Dolokhov. Zherkov had met Dolokhov abroad as a private and had not seen fit to recognize him. But now that Kutuzov had spoken to the gentleman ranker, he addressed him with the cordiality of an old friend.
"My dear fellow, how are you?" said he through the singing, making his horse keep pace with the company.
"How am I?" Dolokhov answered coldly. "I am as you see."
The lively song gave a special flavor to the tone of free and easy gaiety with which Zherkov spoke, and to the intentional coldness of Dolokhov's reply.
"And how do you get on with the officers?" inquired Zherkov.
"All right. They are good fellows. And how have you wriggled onto the staff?"
"I was attached; I'm on duty."
Both were silent.
"She let the hawk fly upward from her wide right sleeve," went the song, arousing an involuntary sensation of courage and cheerfulness. Their conversation would probably have been different but for the effect of that song.
"Is it true that Austrians have been beaten?" asked Dolokhov.
"The devil only knows! They say so."
"I'm glad," answered Dolokhov briefly and clearly, as the song demanded.
"I say, come round some evening and we'll have a game of faro!" said Zherkov.
"Why, have you too much money?"
"I can't. I've sworn not to. I won't drink and won't play till I get reinstated."
"Well, that's only till the first engagement."
"We shall see."
They were again silent.
"Come if you need anything. One can at least be of use on the staff..."
Dolokhov smiled. "Don't trouble. If I want anything, I won't beg—I'll take it!"
"Well, never mind; I only..."
"And I only..."
"It's a long, long way. To my native land..."
Zherkov touched his horse with the spurs; it pranced excitedly from foot to foot uncertain with which to start, then settled down, galloped past the company, and overtook the carriage, still keeping time to the song.
On returning from the review, Kutuzov took the Austrian general into his private room and, calling his adjutant, asked for some papers relating to the condition of the troops on their arrival, and the letters that had come from the Archduke Ferdinand, who was in command of the advanced army. Prince Andrew Bolkonski came into the room with the required papers. Kutuzov and the Austrian member of the Hofkriegsrath were sitting at the table on which a plan was spread out.
"Ah!..." said Kutuzov glancing at Bolkonski as if by this exclamation he was asking the adjutant to wait, and he went on with the conversation in French.
"All I can say, General," said he with a pleasant elegance of expression and intonation that obliged one to listen to each deliberately spoken word. It was evident that Kutuzov himself listened with pleasure to his own voice. "All I can say, General, is that if the matter depended on my personal wishes, the will of His Majesty the Emperor Francis would have been fulfilled long ago. I should long ago have joined the archduke. And believe me on my honour that to me personally it would be a pleasure to hand over the supreme command of the army into the hands of a better informed and more skillful general—of whom Austria has so many—and to lay down all this heavy responsibility. But circumstances are sometimes too strong for us, General."
And Kutuzov smiled in a way that seemed to say, "You are quite at liberty not to believe me and I don't even care whether you do or not, but you have no grounds for telling me so. And that is the whole point."
The Austrian general looked dissatisfied, but had no option but to reply in the same tone.
"On the contrary," he said, in a querulous and angry tone that contrasted with his flattering words, "on the contrary, your excellency's participation in the common action is highly valued by His Majesty; but we think the present delay is depriving the splendid Russian troops and their commander of the laurels they have been accustomed to win in their battles," he concluded his evidently prearranged sentence.
Kutuzov bowed with the same smile.
"But that is my conviction, and judging by the last letter with which His Highness the Archduke Ferdinand has honored me, I imagine that the Austrian troops, under the direction of so skillful a leader as General Mack, have by now already gained a decisive victory and no longer need our aid," said Kutuzov.
The general frowned. Though there was no definite news of an Austrian defeat, there were many circumstances confirming the unfavorable rumors that were afloat, and so Kutuzov's suggestion of an Austrian victory sounded much like irony. But Kutuzov went on blandly smiling with the same expression, which seemed to say that he had a right to suppose so. And, in fact, the last letter he had received from Mack's army informed him of a victory and stated strategically the position of the army was very favorable.
"Give me that letter," said Kutuzov turning to Prince Andrew. "Please have a look at it"—and Kutuzov with an ironical smile about the corners of his mouth read to the Austrian general the following passage, in German, from the Archduke Ferdinand's letter:
We have fully concentrated forces of nearly seventy thousand men with which to attack and defeat the enemy should he cross the Lech. Also, as we are masters of Ulm, we cannot be deprived of the advantage of commanding both sides of the Danube, so that should the enemy not cross the Lech, we can cross the Danube, throw ourselves on his line of communications, recross the river lower down, and frustrate his intention should he try to direct his whole force against our faithful ally. We shall therefore confidently await the moment when the Imperial Russian army will be fully equipped, and shall then, in conjunction with it, easily find a way to prepare for the enemy the fate he deserves.
Kutuzov sighed deeply on finishing this paragraph and looked at the member of the Hofkriegsrath mildly and attentively.
"But you know the wise maxim your excellency, advising one to expect the worst," said the Austrian general, evidently wishing to have done with jests and to come to business. He involuntarily looked round at the aide-de-camp.
"Excuse me, General," interrupted Kutuzov, also turning to Prince Andrew. "Look here, my dear fellow, get from Kozlovski all the reports from our scouts. Here are two letters from Count Nostitz and here is one from His Highness the Archduke Ferdinand and here are these," he said, handing him several papers, "make a neat memorandum in French out of all this, showing all the news we have had of the movements of the Austrian army, and then give it to his excellency."
Prince Andrew bowed his head in token of having understood from the first not only what had been said but also what Kutuzov would have liked to tell him. He gathered up the papers and with a bow to both, stepped softly over the carpet and went out into the waiting room.
Though not much time had passed since Prince Andrew had left Russia, he had changed greatly during that period. In the expression of his face, in his movements, in his walk, scarcely a trace was left of his former affected languor and indolence. He now looked like a man who has time to think of the impression he makes on others, but is occupied with agreeable and interesting work. His face expressed more satisfaction with himself and those around him, his smile and glance were brighter and more attractive.
Kutuzov, whom he had overtaken in Poland, had received him very kindly, promised not to forget him, distinguished him above the other adjutants, and had taken him to Vienna and given him the more serious commissions. From Vienna Kutuzov wrote to his old comrade, Prince Andrew's father.
Your son bids fair to become an officer distinguished by his industry, firmness, and expedition. I consider myself fortunate to have such a subordinate by me.
On Kutuzov's staff, among his fellow officers and in the army generally, Prince Andrew had, as he had had in Petersburg society, two quite opposite reputations. Some, a minority, acknowledged him to be different from themselves and from everyone else, expected great things of him, listened to him, admired, and imitated him, and with them Prince Andrew was natural and pleasant. Others, the majority, disliked him and considered him conceited, cold, and disagreeable. But among these people Prince Andrew knew how to take his stand so that they respected and even feared him.
Coming out of Kutuzov's room into the waiting room with the papers in his hand Prince Andrew came up to his comrade, the aide-de-camp on duty, Kozlovski, who was sitting at the window with a book.
"Well, Prince?" asked Kozlovski.
"I am ordered to write a memorandum explaining why we are not advancing."
"And why is it?"
Prince Andrew shrugged his shoulders.
"Any news from Mack?"
"If it were true that he has been beaten, news would have come."
"Probably," said Prince Andrew moving toward the outer door.
But at that instant a tall Austrian general in a greatcoat, with the order of Maria Theresa on his neck and a black bandage round his head, who had evidently just arrived, entered quickly, slamming the door. Prince Andrew stopped short.
"Commander in Chief Kutuzov?" said the newly arrived general speaking quickly with a harsh German accent, looking to both sides and advancing straight toward the inner door.
"The commander in chief is engaged," said Kozlovski, going hurriedly up to the unknown general and blocking his way to the door. "Whom shall I announce?"
The unknown general looked disdainfully down at Kozlovski, who was rather short, as if surprised that anyone should not know him.
"The commander in chief is engaged," repeated Kozlovski calmly.
The general's face clouded, his lips quivered and trembled. He took out a notebook, hurriedly scribbled something in pencil, tore out the leaf, gave it to Kozlovski, stepped quickly to the window, and threw himself into a chair, gazing at those in the room as if asking, "Why do they look at me?" Then he lifted his head, stretched his neck as if he intended to say something, but immediately, with affected indifference, began to hum to himself, producing a queer sound which immediately broke off. The door of the private room opened and Kutuzov appeared in the doorway. The general with the bandaged head bent forward as though running away from some danger, and, making long, quick strides with his thin legs, went up to Kutuzov.
"Vous voyez le malheureux Mack," he uttered in a broken voice.
Kutuzov's face as he stood in the open doorway remained perfectly immobile for a few moments. Then wrinkles ran over his face like a wave and his forehead became smooth again, he bowed his head respectfully, closed his eyes, silently let Mack enter his room before him, and closed the door himself behind him.
The report which had been circulated that the Austrians had been beaten and that the whole army had surrendered at Ulm proved to be correct. Within half an hour adjutants had been sent in various directions with orders which showed that the Russian troops, who had hitherto been inactive, would also soon have to meet the enemy.
Prince Andrew was one of those rare staff officers whose chief interest lay in the general progress of the war. When he saw Mack and heard the details of his disaster he understood that half the campaign was lost, understood all the difficulties of the Russian army's position, and vividly imagined what awaited it and the part he would have to play. Involuntarily he felt a joyful agitation at the thought of the humiliation of arrogant Austria and that in a week's time he might, perhaps, see and take part in the first Russian encounter with the French since Suvorov met them. He feared that Bonaparte's genius might outweigh all the courage of the Russian troops, and at the same time could not admit the idea of his hero being disgraced.
Excited and irritated by these thoughts Prince Andrew went toward his room to write to his father, to whom he wrote every day. In the corridor he met Nesvitski, with whom he shared a room, and the wag Zherkov; they were as usual laughing.
"Why are you so glum?" asked Nesvitski noticing Prince Andrew's pale face and glittering eyes.
"There's nothing to be gay about," answered Bolkonski.
Just as Prince Andrew met Nesvitski and Zherkov, there came toward them from the other end of the corridor, Strauch, an Austrian general who on Kutuzov's staff in charge of the provisioning of the Russian army, and the member of the Hofkriegsrath who had arrived the previous evening. There was room enough in the wide corridor for the generals to pass the three officers quite easily, but Zherkov, pushing Nesvitski aside with his arm, said in a breathless voice,
"They're coming!... they're coming!... Stand aside, make way, please make way!"
The generals were passing by, looking as if they wished to avoid embarrassing attentions. On the face of the wag Zherkov there suddenly appeared a stupid smile of glee which he seemed unable to suppress.
"Your excellency," said he in German, stepping forward and addressing the Austrian general, "I have the honor to congratulate you."
He bowed his head and scraped first with one foot and then with the other, awkwardly, like a child at a dancing lesson.
The member of the Hofkriegsrath looked at him severely but, seeing the seriousness of his stupid smile, could not but give him a moment's attention. He screwed up his eyes showing that he was listening.
"I have the honor to congratulate you. General Mack has arrived, quite well, only a little bruised just here," he added, pointing with a beaming smile to his head.
The general frowned, turned away, and went on.
"Gott, wie naiv!" * said he angrily, after he had gone a few steps.
* "Good God, what simplicity!"
Nesvitski with a laugh threw his arms round Prince Andrew, but Bolkonski, turning still paler, pushed him away with an angry look and turned to Zherkov. The nervous irritation aroused by the appearance of Mack, the news of his defeat, and the thought of what lay before the Russian army found vent in anger at Zherkov's untimely jest.
"If you, sir, choose to make a buffoon of yourself," he said sharply, with a slight trembling of the lower jaw, "I can't prevent your doing so; but I warn you that if you dare to play the fool in my presence, I will teach you to behave yourself."
Nesvitski and Zherkov were so surprised by this outburst that they gazed at Bolkonski silently with wide-open eyes.
"What's the matter? I only congratulated them," said Zherkov.
"I am not jesting with you; please be silent!" cried Bolkonski, and taking Nesvitski's arm he left Zherkov, who did not know what to say.
"Come, what's the matter, old fellow?" said Nesvitski trying to soothe him.
"What's the matter?" exclaimed Prince Andrew standing still in his excitement. "Don't you understand that either we are officers serving our Tsar and our country, rejoicing in the successes and grieving at the misfortunes of our common cause, or we are merely lackeys who care nothing for their master's business. Quarante mille hommes massacres et l'armee de nos allies detruite, et vous trouvez la le mot pour rire," * he said, as if strengthening his views by this French sentence. "C'est bien pour un garcon de rien comme cet individu dont vous avez fait un ami, mais pas pour vous, pas pour vous. *(2) Only a hobbledehoy could amuse himself in this way," he added in Russian—but pronouncing the word with a French accent—having noticed that Zherkov could still hear him.
* "Forty thousand men massacred and the army of our allies destroyed, and you find that a cause for jesting!"
* (2) "It is all very well for that good-for-nothing fellow of whom you have made a friend, but not for you, not for you."
He waited a moment to see whether the cornet would answer, but he turned and went out of the corridor.
The Pavlograd Hussars were stationed two miles from Braunau. The squadron in which Nicholas Rostov served as a cadet was quartered in the German village of Salzeneck. The best quarters in the village were assigned to cavalry-captain Denisov, the squadron commander, known throughout the whole cavalry division as Vaska Denisov. Cadet Rostov, ever since he had overtaken the regiment in Poland, had lived with the squadron commander.
On October 11, the day when all was astir at headquarters over the news of Mack's defeat, the camp life of the officers of this squadron was proceeding as usual. Denisov, who had been losing at cards all night, had not yet come home when Rostov rode back early in the morning from a foraging expedition. Rostov in his cadet uniform, with a jerk to his horse, rode up to the porch, swung his leg over the saddle with a supple youthful movement, stood for a moment in the stirrup as if loathe to part from his horse, and at last sprang down and called to his orderly.
"Ah, Bondarenko, dear friend!" said he to the hussar who rushed up headlong to the horse. "Walk him up and down, my dear fellow," he continued, with that gay brotherly cordiality which goodhearted young people show to everyone when they are happy.
"Yes, your excellency," answered the Ukrainian gaily, tossing his head.
"Mind, walk him up and down well!"
Another hussar also rushed toward the horse, but Bondarenko had already thrown the reins of the snaffle bridle over the horse's head. It was evident that the cadet was liberal with his tips and that it paid to serve him. Rostov patted the horse's neck and then his flank, and lingered for a moment.
"Splendid! What a horse he will be!" he thought with a smile, and holding up his saber, his spurs jingling, he ran up the steps of the porch. His landlord, who in a waistcoat and a pointed cap, pitchfork in hand, was clearing manure from the cowhouse, looked out, and his face immediately brightened on seeing Rostov. "Schon gut Morgen! Schon gut Morgen!" * he said winking with a merry smile, evidently pleased to greet the young man.
* "A very good morning! A very good morning!"
"Schon fleissig?" * said Rostov with the same gay brotherly smile which did not leave his eager face. "Hoch Oestreicher! Hoch Russen! Kaiser Alexander hoch!" *(2) said he, quoting words often repeated by the German landlord.
* "Busy already?"
* (2) "Hurrah for the Austrians! Hurrah for the Russians! Hurrah for Emperor Alexander!"
The German laughed, came out of the cowshed, pulled off his cap, and waving it above his head cried:
"Und die ganze Welt hoch!" *
* "And hurrah for the whole world!"
Rostov waved his cap above his head like the German and cried laughing, "Und vivat die ganze Welt!" Though neither the German cleaning his cowshed nor Rostov back with his platoon from foraging for hay had any reason for rejoicing, they looked at each other with joyful delight and brotherly love, wagged their heads in token of their mutual affection, and parted smiling, the German returning to his cowshed and Rostov going to the cottage he occupied with Denisov.
"What about your master?" he asked Lavrushka, Denisov's orderly, whom all the regiment knew for a rogue.
"Hasn't been in since the evening. Must have been losing," answered Lavrushka. "I know by now, if he wins he comes back early to brag about it, but if he stays out till morning it means he's lost and will come back in a rage. Will you have coffee?"
"Yes, bring some."
Ten minutes later Lavrushka brought the coffee. "He's coming!" said he. "Now for trouble!" Rostov looked out of the window and saw Denisov coming home. Denisov was a small man with a red face, sparkling black eyes, and black tousled mustache and hair. He wore an unfastened cloak, wide breeches hanging down in creases, and a crumpled shako on the back of his head. He came up to the porch gloomily, hanging his head.
"Lavwuska!" he shouted loudly and angrily, "take it off, blockhead!"
"Well, I am taking it off," replied Lavrushka's voice.
"Ah, you're up already," said Denisov, entering the room.
"Long ago," answered Rostov, "I have already been for the hay, and have seen Fraulein Mathilde."
"Weally! And I've been losing, bwother. I lost yesterday like a damned fool!" cried Denisov, not pronouncing his r's. "Such ill luck! Such ill luck. As soon as you left, it began and went on. Hullo there! Tea!"
Puckering up his face though smiling, and showing his short strong teeth, he began with stubby fingers of both hands to ruffle up his thick tangled black hair.
"And what devil made me go to that wat?" (an officer nicknamed "the rat") he said, rubbing his forehead and whole face with both hands. "Just fancy, he didn't let me win a single cahd, not one cahd."
He took the lighted pipe that was offered to him, gripped it in his fist, and tapped it on the floor, making the sparks fly, while he continued to shout.
"He lets one win the singles and collahs it as soon as one doubles it; gives the singles and snatches the doubles!"
He scattered the burning tobacco, smashed the pipe, and threw it away. Then he remained silent for a while, and all at once looked cheerfully with his glittering, black eyes at Rostov.
"If at least we had some women here; but there's nothing foh one to do but dwink. If we could only get to fighting soon. Hullo, who's there?" he said, turning to the door as he heard a tread of heavy boots and the clinking of spurs that came to a stop, and a respectful cough.
"The squadron quartermaster!" said Lavrushka.
Denisov's face puckered still more.
"Wetched!" he muttered, throwing down a purse with some gold in it. "Wostov, deah fellow, just see how much there is left and shove the purse undah the pillow," he said, and went out to the quartermaster.
Rostov took the money and, mechanically arranging the old and new coins in separate piles, began counting them.
"Ah! Telyanin! How d'ye do? They plucked me last night," came Denisov's voice from the next room.
"Where? At Bykov's, at the rat's... I knew it," replied a piping voice, and Lieutenant Telyanin, a small officer of the same squadron, entered the room.
Rostov thrust the purse under the pillow and shook the damp little hand which was offered him. Telyanin for some reason had been transferred from the Guards just before this campaign. He behaved very well in the regiment but was not liked; Rostov especially detested him and was unable to overcome or conceal his groundless antipathy to the man.
"Well, young cavalryman, how is my Rook behaving?" he asked. (Rook was a young horse Telyanin had sold to Rostov.)
The lieutenant never looked the man he was speaking to straight in the face; his eyes continually wandered from one object to another.
"I saw you riding this morning..." he added.
"Oh, he's all right, a good horse," answered Rostov, though the horse for which he had paid seven hundred rubbles was not worth half that sum. "He's begun to go a little lame on the left foreleg," he added.
"The hoof's cracked! That's nothing. I'll teach you what to do and show you what kind of rivet to use."
"Yes, please do," said Rostov.
"I'll show you, I'll show you! It's not a secret. And it's a horse you'll thank me for."
"Then I'll have it brought round," said Rostov wishing to avoid Telyanin, and he went out to give the order.
In the passage Denisov, with a pipe, was squatting on the threshold facing the quartermaster who was reporting to him. On seeing Rostov, Denisov screwed up his face and pointing over his shoulder with his thumb to the room where Telyanin was sitting, he frowned and gave a shudder of disgust.
"Ugh! I don't like that fellow," he said, regardless of the quartermaster's presence.
Rostov shrugged his shoulders as much as to say: "Nor do I, but what's one to do?" and, having given his order, he returned to Telyanin.
Telyanin was sitting in the same indolent pose in which Rostov had left him, rubbing his small white hands.
"Well there certainly are disgusting people," thought Rostov as he entered.
"Have you told them to bring the horse?" asked Telyanin, getting up and looking carelessly about him.
"Let us go ourselves. I only came round to ask Denisov about yesterday's order. Have you got it, Denisov?"
"Not yet. But where are you off to?"
"I want to teach this young man how to shoe a horse," said Telyanin.
They went through the porch and into the stable. The lieutenant explained how to rivet the hoof and went away to his own quarters.
When Rostov went back there was a bottle of vodka and a sausage on the table. Denisov was sitting there scratching with his pen on a sheet of paper. He looked gloomily in Rostov's face and said: "I am witing to her."
He leaned his elbows on the table with his pen in his hand and, evidently glad of a chance to say quicker in words what he wanted to write, told Rostov the contents of his letter.
"You see, my fwiend," he said, "we sleep when we don't love. We are childwen of the dust... but one falls in love and one is a God, one is pua' as on the first day of cweation... Who's that now? Send him to the devil, I'm busy!" he shouted to Lavrushka, who went up to him not in the least abashed.
"Who should it be? You yourself told him to come. It's the quartermaster for the money."
Denisov frowned and was about to shout some reply but stopped.
"Wetched business," he muttered to himself. "How much is left in the puhse?" he asked, turning to Rostov.
"Seven new and three old imperials."
"Oh, it's wetched! Well, what are you standing there for, you sca'cwow? Call the quahtehmasteh," he shouted to Lavrushka.
"Please, Denisov, let me lend you some: I have some, you know," said Rostov, blushing.
"Don't like bowwowing from my own fellows, I don't," growled Denisov.
"But if you won't accept money from me like a comrade, you will offend me. Really I have some," Rostov repeated.
"No, I tell you."
And Denisov went to the bed to get the purse from under the pillow.
"Where have you put it, Wostov?"
"Under the lower pillow."
"It's not there."
Denisov threw both pillows on the floor. The purse was not there.
"That's a miwacle."
"Wait, haven't you dropped it?" said Rostov, picking up the pillows one at a time and shaking them.
He pulled off the quilt and shook it. The purse was not there.
"Dear me, can I have forgotten? No, I remember thinking that you kept it under your head like a treasure," said Rostov. "I put it just here. Where is it?" he asked, turning to Lavrushka.
"I haven't been in the room. It must be where you put it."
"But it isn't?..."
"You're always like that; you thwow a thing down anywhere and forget it. Feel in your pockets."
"No, if I hadn't thought of it being a treasure," said Rostov, "but I remember putting it there."
Lavrushka turned all the bedding over, looked under the bed and under the table, searched everywhere, and stood still in the middle of the room. Denisov silently watched Lavrushka's movements, and when the latter threw up his arms in surprise saying it was nowhere to be found Denisov glanced at Rostov.
"Wostov, you've not been playing schoolboy twicks..."
Rostov felt Denisov's gaze fixed on him, raised his eyes, and instantly dropped them again. All the blood which had seemed congested somewhere below his throat rushed to his face and eyes. He could not draw breath.
"And there hasn't been anyone in the room except the lieutenant and yourselves. It must be here somewhere," said Lavrushka.
"Now then, you devil's puppet, look alive and hunt for it!" shouted Denisov, suddenly, turning purple and rushing at the man with a threatening gesture. "If the purse isn't found I'll flog you, I'll flog you all."
Rostov, his eyes avoiding Denisov, began buttoning his coat, buckled on his saber, and put on his cap.
"I must have that purse, I tell you," shouted Denisov, shaking his orderly by the shoulders and knocking him against the wall.
"Denisov, let him alone, I know who has taken it," said Rostov, going toward the door without raising his eyes. Denisov paused, thought a moment, and, evidently understanding what Rostov hinted at, seized his arm.
"Nonsense!" he cried, and the veins on his forehead and neck stood out like cords. "You are mad, I tell you. I won't allow it. The purse is here! I'll flay this scoundwel alive, and it will be found."
"I know who has taken it," repeated Rostov in an unsteady voice, and went to the door.
"And I tell you, don't you dahe to do it!" shouted Denisov, rushing at the cadet to restrain him.
But Rostov pulled away his arm and, with as much anger as though Denisov were his worst enemy, firmly fixed his eyes directly on his face.
"Do you understand what you're saying?" he said in a trembling voice. "There was no one else in the room except myself. So that if it is not so, then..."
He could not finish, and ran out of the room.
"Ah, may the devil take you and evewybody," were the last words Rostov heard.
Rostov went to Telyanin's quarters.
"The master is not in, he's gone to headquarters," said Telyanin's orderly. "Has something happened?" he added, surprised at the cadet's troubled face.
"You've only just missed him," said the orderly.
The headquarters were situated two miles away from Salzeneck, and Rostov, without returning home, took a horse and rode there. There was an inn in the village which the officers frequented. Rostov rode up to it and saw Telyanin's horse at the porch.
In the second room of the inn the lieutenant was sitting over a dish of sausages and a bottle of wine.
"Ah, you've come here too, young man!" he said, smiling and raising his eyebrows.
"Yes," said Rostov as if it cost him a great deal to utter the word; and he sat down at the nearest table.
Both were silent. There were two Germans and a Russian officer in the room. No one spoke and the only sounds heard were the clatter of knives and the munching of the lieutenant.
When Telyanin had finished his lunch he took out of his pocket a double purse and, drawing its rings aside with his small, white, turned-up fingers, drew out a gold imperial, and lifting his eyebrows gave it to the waiter.
"Please be quick," he said.
The coin was a new one. Rostov rose and went up to Telyanin.
"Allow me to look at your purse," he said in a low, almost inaudible, voice.
With shifting eyes but eyebrows still raised, Telyanin handed him the purse.
"Yes, it's a nice purse. Yes, yes," he said, growing suddenly pale, and added, "Look at it, young man."
Rostov took the purse in his hand, examined it and the money in it, and looked at Telyanin. The lieutenant was looking about in his usual way and suddenly seemed to grow very merry.
"If we get to Vienna I'll get rid of it there but in these wretched little towns there's nowhere to spend it," said he. "Well, let me have it, young man, I'm going."
Rostov did not speak.
"And you? Are you going to have lunch too? They feed you quite decently here," continued Telyanin. "Now then, let me have it."
He stretched out his hand to take hold of the purse. Rostov let go of it. Telyanin took the purse and began carelessly slipping it into the pocket of his riding breeches, with his eyebrows lifted and his mouth slightly open, as if to say, "Yes, yes, I am putting my purse in my pocket and that's quite simple and is no one else's business."
"Well, young man?" he said with a sigh, and from under his lifted brows he glanced into Rostov's eyes.
Some flash as of an electric spark shot from Telyanin's eyes to Rostov's and back, and back again and again in an instant.
"Come here," said Rostov, catching hold of Telyanin's arm and almost dragging him to the window. "That money is Denisov's; you took it..." he whispered just above Telyanin's ear.
"What? What? How dare you? What?" said Telyanin.
But these words came like a piteous, despairing cry and an entreaty for pardon. As soon as Rostov heard them, an enormous load of doubt fell from him. He was glad, and at the same instant began to pity the miserable man who stood before him, but the task he had begun had to be completed.
"Heaven only knows what the people here may imagine," muttered Telyanin, taking up his cap and moving toward a small empty room. "We must have an explanation..."
"I know it and shall prove it," said Rostov.
Every muscle of Telyanin's pale, terrified face began to quiver, his eyes still shifted from side to side but with a downward look not rising to Rostov's face, and his sobs were audible.
"Count!... Don't ruin a young fellow... here is this wretched money, take it..." He threw it on the table. "I have an old father and mother!..."
Rostov took the money, avoiding Telyanin's eyes, and went out of the room without a word. But at the door he stopped and then retraced his steps. "O God," he said with tears in his eyes, "how could you do it?"
"Count..." said Telyanin drawing nearer to him.
"Don't touch me," said Rostov, drawing back. "If you need it, take the money," and he threw the purse to him and ran out of the inn.
That same evening there was an animated discussion among the squadron's officers in Denisov's quarters.
"And I tell you, Rostov, that you must apologize to the colonel!" said a tall, grizzly-haired staff captain, with enormous mustaches and many wrinkles on his large features, to Rostov who was crimson with excitement.
The staff captain, Kirsten, had twice been reduced to the ranks for affairs of honor and had twice regained his commission.
"I will allow no one to call me a liar!" cried Rostov. "He told me I lied, and I told him he lied. And there it rests. He may keep me on duty every day, or may place me under arrest, but no one can make me apologize, because if he, as commander of this regiment, thinks it beneath his dignity to give me satisfaction, then..."
"You just wait a moment, my dear fellow, and listen," interrupted the staff captain in his deep bass, calmly stroking his long mustache. "You tell the colonel in the presence of other officers that an officer has stolen..."
"I'm not to blame that the conversation began in the presence of other officers. Perhaps I ought not to have spoken before them, but I am not a diplomatist. That's why I joined the hussars, thinking that here one would not need finesse; and he tells me that I am lying—so let him give me satisfaction..."
"That's all right. No one thinks you a coward, but that's not the point. Ask Denisov whether it is not out of the question for a cadet to demand satisfaction of his regimental commander?"
Denisov sat gloomily biting his mustache and listening to the conversation, evidently with no wish to take part in it. He answered the staff captain's question by a disapproving shake of his head.
"You speak to the colonel about this nasty business before other officers," continued the staff captain, "and Bogdanich" (the colonel was called Bogdanich) "shuts you up."
"He did not shut me up, he said I was telling an untruth."
"Well, have it so, and you talked a lot of nonsense to him and must apologize."
"Not on any account!" exclaimed Rostov.
"I did not expect this of you," said the staff captain seriously and severely. "You don't wish to apologize, but, man, it's not only to him but to the whole regiment—all of us—you're to blame all round. The case is this: you ought to have thought the matter over and taken advice; but no, you go and blurt it all straight out before the officers. Now what was the colonel to do? Have the officer tried and disgrace the whole regiment? Disgrace the whole regiment because of one scoundrel? Is that how you look at it? We don't see it like that. And Bogdanich was a brick: he told you you were saying what was not true. It's not pleasant, but what's to be done, my dear fellow? You landed yourself in it. And now, when one wants to smooth the thing over, some conceit prevents your apologizing, and you wish to make the whole affair public. You are offended at being put on duty a bit, but why not apologize to an old and honorable officer? Whatever Bogdanich may be, anyway he is an honorable and brave old colonel! You're quick at taking offense, but you don't mind disgracing the whole regiment!" The staff captain's voice began to tremble. "You have been in the regiment next to no time, my lad, you're here today and tomorrow you'll be appointed adjutant somewhere and can snap your fingers when it is said 'There are thieves among the Pavlograd officers!' But it's not all the same to us! Am I not right, Denisov? It's not the same!"
Denisov remained silent and did not move, but occasionally looked with his glittering black eyes at Rostov.
"You value your own pride and don't wish to apologize," continued the staff captain, "but we old fellows, who have grown up in and, God willing, are going to die in the regiment, we prize the honor of the regiment, and Bogdanich knows it. Oh, we do prize it, old fellow! And all this is not right, it's not right! You may take offense or not but I always stick to mother truth. It's not right!"
And the staff captain rose and turned away from Rostov.
"That's twue, devil take it!" shouted Denisov, jumping up. "Now then, Wostov, now then!"
Rostov, growing red and pale alternately, looked first at one officer and then at the other.
"No, gentlemen, no... you mustn't think... I quite understand. You're wrong to think that of me... I... for me... for the honor of the regiment I'd... Ah well, I'll show that in action, and for me the honor of the flag... Well, never mind, it's true I'm to blame, to blame all round. Well, what else do you want?..."
"Come, that's right, Count!" cried the staff captain, turning round and clapping Rostov on the shoulder with his big hand.
"I tell you," shouted Denisov, "he's a fine fellow."
"That's better, Count," said the staff captain, beginning to address Rostov by his title, as if in recognition of his confession. "Go and apologize, your excellency. Yes, go!"
"Gentlemen, I'll do anything. No one shall hear a word from me," said Rostov in an imploring voice, "but I can't apologize, by God I can't, do what you will! How can I go and apologize like a little boy asking forgiveness?"
Denisov began to laugh.
"It'll be worse for you. Bogdanich is vindictive and you'll pay for your obstinacy," said Kirsten.
"No, on my word it's not obstinacy! I can't describe the feeling. I can't..."
"Well, it's as you like," said the staff captain. "And what has become of that scoundrel?" he asked Denisov.
"He has weported himself sick, he's to be stwuck off the list tomowwow," muttered Denisov.
"It is an illness, there's no other way of explaining it," said the staff captain.
"Illness or not, he'd better not cwoss my path. I'd kill him!" shouted Denisov in a bloodthirsty tone.
Just then Zherkov entered the room.
"What brings you here?" cried the officers turning to the newcomer.
"We're to go into action, gentlemen! Mack has surrendered with his whole army."
"It's not true!"
"I've seen him myself!"
"What? Saw the real Mack? With hands and feet?"
"Into action! Into action! Bring him a bottle for such news! But how did you come here?"
"I've been sent back to the regiment all on account of that devil, Mack. An Austrian general complained of me. I congratulated him on Mack's arrival... What's the matter, Rostov? You look as if you'd just come out of a hot bath."
"Oh, my dear fellow, we're in such a stew here these last two days."
The regimental adjutant came in and confirmed the news brought by Zherkov. They were under orders to advance next day.
"We're going into action, gentlemen!"
"Well, thank God! We've been sitting here too long!"
Kutuzov fell back toward Vienna, destroying behind him the bridges over the rivers Inn (at Braunau) and Traun (near Linz). On October 23 the Russian troops were crossing the river Enns. At midday the Russian baggage train, the artillery, and columns of troops were defiling through the town of Enns on both sides of the bridge.
It was a warm, rainy, autumnal day. The wide expanse that opened out before the heights on which the Russian batteries stood guarding the bridge was at times veiled by a diaphanous curtain of slanting rain, and then, suddenly spread out in the sunlight, far-distant objects could be clearly seen glittering as though freshly varnished. Down below, the little town could be seen with its white, red-roofed houses, its cathedral, and its bridge, on both sides of which streamed jostling masses of Russian troops. At the bend of the Danube, vessels, an island, and a castle with a park surrounded by the waters of the confluence of the Enns and the Danube became visible, and the rocky left bank of the Danube covered with pine forests, with a mystic background of green treetops and bluish gorges. The turrets of a convent stood out beyond a wild virgin pine forest, and far away on the other side of the Enns the enemy's horse patrols could be discerned.
Among the field guns on the brow of the hill the general in command of the rearguard stood with a staff officer, scanning the country through his fieldglass. A little behind them Nesvitski, who had been sent to the rearguard by the commander in chief, was sitting on the trail of a gun carriage. A Cossack who accompanied him had handed him a knapsack and a flask, and Nesvitski was treating some officers to pies and real doppelkummel. The officers gladly gathered round him, some on their knees, some squatting Turkish fashion on the wet grass.
"Yes, the Austrian prince who built that castle was no fool. It's a fine place! Why are you not eating anything, gentlemen?" Nesvitski was saying.
"Thank you very much, Prince," answered one of the officers, pleased to be talking to a staff officer of such importance. "It's a lovely place! We passed close to the park and saw two deer... and what a splendid house!"
"Look, Prince," said another, who would have dearly liked to take another pie but felt shy, and therefore pretended to be examining the countryside—"See, our infantrymen have already got there. Look there in the meadow behind the village, three of them are dragging something. They'll ransack that castle," he remarked with evident approval.
"So they will," said Nesvitski. "No, but what I should like," added he, munching a pie in his moist-lipped handsome mouth, "would be to slip in over there."
He pointed with a smile to a turreted nunnery, and his eyes narrowed and gleamed.
"That would be fine, gentlemen!"
The officers laughed.
"Just to flutter the nuns a bit. They say there are Italian girls among them. On my word I'd give five years of my life for it!"
"They must be feeling dull, too," said one of the bolder officers, laughing.
Meanwhile the staff officer standing in front pointed out something to the general, who looked through his field glass.
"Yes, so it is, so it is," said the general angrily, lowering the field glass and shrugging his shoulders, "so it is! They'll be fired on at the crossing. And why are they dawdling there?"
On the opposite side the enemy could be seen by the naked eye, and from their battery a milk-white cloud arose. Then came the distant report of a shot, and our troops could be seen hurrying to the crossing.
Nesvitski rose, puffing, and went up to the general, smiling.
"Would not your excellency like a little refreshment?" he said.
"It's a bad business," said the general without answering him, "our men have been wasting time."
"Hadn't I better ride over, your excellency?" asked Nesvitski.
"Yes, please do," answered the general, and he repeated the order that had already once been given in detail: "and tell the hussars that they are to cross last and to fire the bridge as I ordered; and the inflammable material on the bridge must be reinspected."
"Very good," answered Nesvitski.
He called the Cossack with his horse, told him to put away the knapsack and flask, and swung his heavy person easily into the saddle.
"I'll really call in on the nuns," he said to the officers who watched him smilingly, and he rode off by the winding path down the hill.
"Now then, let's see how far it will carry, Captain. Just try!" said the general, turning to an artillery officer. "Have a little fun to pass the time."
"Crew, to your guns!" commanded the officer.
In a moment the men came running gaily from their campfires and began loading.
"One!" came the command.
Number one jumped briskly aside. The gun rang out with a deafening metallic roar, and a whistling grenade flew above the heads of our troops below the hill and fell far short of the enemy, a little smoke showing the spot where it burst.
The faces of officers and men brightened up at the sound. Everyone got up and began watching the movements of our troops below, as plainly visible as if but a stone's throw away, and the movements of the approaching enemy farther off. At the same instant the sun came fully out from behind the clouds, and the clear sound of the solitary shot and the brilliance of the bright sunshine merged in a single joyous and spirited impression.
Two of the enemy's shots had already flown across the bridge, where there was a crush. Halfway across stood Prince Nesvitski, who had alighted from his horse and whose big body was jammed against the railings. He looked back laughing to the Cossack who stood a few steps behind him holding two horses by their bridles. Each time Prince Nesvitski tried to move on, soldiers and carts pushed him back again and pressed him against the railings, and all he could do was to smile.
"What a fine fellow you are, friend!" said the Cossack to a convoy soldier with a wagon, who was pressing onto the infantrymen who were crowded together close to his wheels and his horses. "What a fellow! You can't wait a moment! Don't you see the general wants to pass?"
But the convoyman took no notice of the word "general" and shouted at the soldiers who were blocking his way. "Hi there, boys! Keep to the left! Wait a bit." But the soldiers, crowded together shoulder to shoulder, their bayonets interlocking, moved over the bridge in a dense mass. Looking down over the rails Prince Nesvitski saw the rapid, noisy little waves of the Enns, which rippling and eddying round the piles of the bridge chased each other along. Looking on the bridge he saw equally uniform living waves of soldiers, shoulder straps, covered shakos, knapsacks, bayonets, long muskets, and, under the shakos, faces with broad cheekbones, sunken cheeks, and listless tired expressions, and feet that moved through the sticky mud that covered the planks of the bridge. Sometimes through the monotonous waves of men, like a fleck of white foam on the waves of the Enns, an officer, in a cloak and with a type of face different from that of the men, squeezed his way along; sometimes like a chip of wood whirling in the river, an hussar on foot, an orderly, or a townsman was carried through the waves of infantry; and sometimes like a log floating down the river, an officers' or company's baggage wagon, piled high, leather covered, and hemmed in on all sides, moved across the bridge.
"It's as if a dam had burst," said the Cossack hopelessly. "Are there many more of you to come?"
"A million all but one!" replied a waggish soldier in a torn coat, with a wink, and passed on followed by another, an old man.
"If he" (he meant the enemy) "begins popping at the bridge now," said the old soldier dismally to a comrade, "you'll forget to scratch yourself."
That soldier passed on, and after him came another sitting on a cart.
"Where the devil have the leg bands been shoved to?" said an orderly, running behind the cart and fumbling in the back of it.
And he also passed on with the wagon. Then came some merry soldiers who had evidently been drinking.
"And then, old fellow, he gives him one in the teeth with the butt end of his gun..." a soldier whose greatcoat was well tucked up said gaily, with a wide swing of his arm.
"Yes, the ham was just delicious..." answered another with a loud laugh. And they, too, passed on, so that Nesvitski did not learn who had been struck on the teeth, or what the ham had to do with it.
"Bah! How they scurry. He just sends a ball and they think they'll all be killed," a sergeant was saying angrily and reproachfully.
"As it flies past me, Daddy, the ball I mean," said a young soldier with an enormous mouth, hardly refraining from laughing, "I felt like dying of fright. I did, 'pon my word, I got that frightened!" said he, as if bragging of having been frightened.
That one also passed. Then followed a cart unlike any that had gone before. It was a German cart with a pair of horses led by a German, and seemed loaded with a whole houseful of effects. A fine brindled cow with a large udder was attached to the cart behind. A woman with an unweaned baby, an old woman, and a healthy German girl with bright red cheeks were sitting on some feather beds. Evidently these fugitives were allowed to pass by special permission. The eyes of all the soldiers turned toward the women, and while the vehicle was passing at foot pace all the soldiers' remarks related to the two young ones. Every face bore almost the same smile, expressing unseemly thoughts about the women.
"Just see, the German sausage is making tracks, too!"
"Sell me the missis," said another soldier, addressing the German, who, angry and frightened, strode energetically along with downcast eyes.
"See how smart she's made herself! Oh, the devils!"
"There, Fedotov, you should be quartered on them!"
"I have seen as much before now, mate!"
"Where are you going?" asked an infantry officer who was eating an apple, also half smiling as he looked at the handsome girl.
The German closed his eyes, signifying that he did not understand.
"Take it if you like," said the officer, giving the girl an apple.
The girl smiled and took it. Nesvitski like the rest of the men on the bridge did not take his eyes off the women till they had passed. When they had gone by, the same stream of soldiers followed, with the same kind of talk, and at last all stopped. As often happens, the horses of a convoy wagon became restive at the end of the bridge, and the whole crowd had to wait.
"And why are they stopping? There's no proper order!" said the soldiers. "Where are you shoving to? Devil take you! Can't you wait? It'll be worse if he fires the bridge. See, here's an officer jammed in too"—different voices were saying in the crowd, as the men looked at one another, and all pressed toward the exit from the bridge.
Looking down at the waters of the Enns under the bridge, Nesvitski suddenly heard a sound new to him, of something swiftly approaching... something big, that splashed into the water.
"Just see where it carries to!" a soldier near by said sternly, looking round at the sound.
"Encouraging us to get along quicker," said another uneasily.
The crowd moved on again. Nesvitski realized that it was a cannon ball.
"Hey, Cossack, my horse!" he said. "Now, then, you there! get out of the way! Make way!"
With great difficulty he managed to get to his horse, and shouting continually he moved on. The soldiers squeezed themselves to make way for him, but again pressed on him so that they jammed his leg, and those nearest him were not to blame for they were themselves pressed still harder from behind.
"Nesvitski, Nesvitski! you numskull!" came a hoarse voice from behind him.
Nesvitski looked round and saw, some fifteen paces away but separated by the living mass of moving infantry, Vaska Denisov, red and shaggy, with his cap on the back of his black head and a cloak hanging jauntily over his shoulder.
"Tell these devils, these fiends, to let me pass!" shouted Denisov evidently in a fit of rage, his coal-black eyes with their bloodshot whites glittering and rolling as he waved his sheathed saber in a small bare hand as red as his face.
"Ah, Vaska!" joyfully replied Nesvitski. "What's up with you?"
"The squadwon can't pass," shouted Vaska Denisov, showing his white teeth fiercely and spurring his black thoroughbred Arab, which twitched its ears as the bayonets touched it, and snorted, spurting white foam from his bit, tramping the planks of the bridge with his hoofs, and apparently ready to jump over the railings had his rider let him. "What is this? They're like sheep! Just like sheep! Out of the way!... Let us pass!... Stop there, you devil with the cart! I'll hack you with my saber!" he shouted, actually drawing his saber from its scabbard and flourishing it.
The soldiers crowded against one another with terrified faces, and Denisov joined Nesvitski.
"How's it you're not drunk today?" said Nesvitski when the other had ridden up to him.
"They don't even give one time to dwink!" answered Vaska Denisov. "They keep dwagging the wegiment to and fwo all day. If they mean to fight, let's fight. But the devil knows what this is."
"What a dandy you are today!" said Nesvitski, looking at Denisov's new cloak and saddlecloth.
Denisov smiled, took out of his sabretache a handkerchief that diffused a smell of perfume, and put it to Nesvitski's nose.
"Of course. I'm going into action! I've shaved, bwushed my teeth, and scented myself."
The imposing figure of Nesvitski followed by his Cossack, and the determination of Denisov who flourished his sword and shouted frantically, had such an effect that they managed to squeeze through to the farther side of the bridge and stopped the infantry. Beside the bridge Nesvitski found the colonel to whom he had to deliver the order, and having done this he rode back.
Having cleared the way Denisov stopped at the end of the bridge. Carelessly holding in his stallion that was neighing and pawing the ground, eager to rejoin its fellows, he watched his squadron draw nearer. Then the clang of hoofs, as of several horses galloping, resounded on the planks of the bridge, and the squadron, officers in front and men four abreast, spread across the bridge and began to emerge on his side of it.
The infantry who had been stopped crowded near the bridge in the trampled mud and gazed with that particular feeling of ill-will, estrangement, and ridicule with which troops of different arms usually encounter one another at the clean, smart hussars who moved past them in regular order.
"Smart lads! Only fit for a fair!" said one.
"What good are they? They're led about just for show!" remarked another.
"Don't kick up the dust, you infantry!" jested an hussar whose prancing horse had splashed mud over some foot soldiers.
"I'd like to put you on a two days' march with a knapsack! Your fine cords would soon get a bit rubbed," said an infantryman, wiping the mud off his face with his sleeve. "Perched up there, you're more like a bird than a man."
"There now, Zikin, they ought to put you on a horse. You'd look fine," said a corporal, chaffing a thin little soldier who bent under the weight of his knapsack.
"Take a stick between your legs, that'll suit you for a horse!" the hussar shouted back.
The last of the infantry hurriedly crossed the bridge, squeezing together as they approached it as if passing through a funnel. At last the baggage wagons had all crossed, the crush was less, and the last battalion came onto the bridge. Only Denisov's squadron of hussars remained on the farther side of the bridge facing the enemy, who could be seen from the hill on the opposite bank but was not yet visible from the bridge, for the horizon as seen from the valley through which the river flowed was formed by the rising ground only half a mile away. At the foot of the hill lay wasteland over which a few groups of our Cossack scouts were moving. Suddenly on the road at the top of the high ground, artillery and troops in blue uniform were seen. These were the French. A group of Cossack scouts retired down the hill at a trot. All the officers and men of Denisov's squadron, though they tried to talk of other things and to look in other directions, thought only of what was there on the hilltop, and kept constantly looking at the patches appearing on the skyline, which they knew to be the enemy's troops. The weather had cleared again since noon and the sun was descending brightly upon the Danube and the dark hills around it. It was calm, and at intervals the bugle calls and the shouts of the enemy could be heard from the hill. There was no one now between the squadron and the enemy except a few scattered skirmishers. An empty space of some seven hundred yards was all that separated them. The enemy ceased firing, and that stern, threatening, inaccessible, and intangible line which separates two hostile armies was all the more clearly felt.
"One step beyond that boundary line which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead lies uncertainty, suffering, and death. And what is there? Who is there?—there beyond that field, that tree, that roof lit up by the sun? No one knows, but one wants to know. You fear and yet long to cross that line, and know that sooner or later it must be crossed and you will have to find out what is there, just as you will inevitably have to learn what lies the other side of death. But you are strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and are surrounded by other such excitedly animated and healthy men." So thinks, or at any rate feels, anyone who comes in sight of the enemy, and that feeling gives a particular glamour and glad keenness of impression to everything that takes place at such moments.
On the high ground where the enemy was, the smoke of a cannon rose, and a ball flew whistling over the heads of the hussar squadron. The officers who had been standing together rode off to their places. The hussars began carefully aligning their horses. Silence fell on the whole squadron. All were looking at the enemy in front and at the squadron commander, awaiting the word of command. A second and a third cannon ball flew past. Evidently they were firing at the hussars, but the balls with rapid rhythmic whistle flew over the heads of the horsemen and fell somewhere beyond them. The hussars did not look round, but at the sound of each shot, as at the word of command, the whole squadron with its rows of faces so alike yet so different, holding its breath while the ball flew past, rose in the stirrups and sank back again. The soldiers without turning their heads glanced at one another, curious to see their comrades' impression. Every face, from Denisov's to that of the bugler, showed one common expression of conflict, irritation, and excitement, around chin and mouth. The quartermaster frowned, looking at the soldiers as if threatening to punish them. Cadet Mironov ducked every time a ball flew past. Rostov on the left flank, mounted on his Rook—a handsome horse despite its game leg—had the happy air of a schoolboy called up before a large audience for an examination in which he feels sure he will distinguish himself. He was glancing at everyone with a clear, bright expression, as if asking them to notice how calmly he sat under fire. But despite himself, on his face too that same indication of something new and stern showed round the mouth.
"Who's that curtseying there? Cadet Miwonov! That's not wight! Look at me," cried Denisov who, unable to keep still on one spot, kept turning his horse in front of the squadron.
The black, hairy, snub-nosed face of Vaska Denisov, and his whole short sturdy figure with the sinewy hairy hand and stumpy fingers in which he held the hilt of his naked saber, looked just as it usually did, especially toward evening when he had emptied his second bottle; he was only redder than usual. With his shaggy head thrown back like birds when they drink, pressing his spurs mercilessly into the sides of his good horse, Bedouin, and sitting as though falling backwards in the saddle, he galloped to the other flank of the squadron and shouted in a hoarse voice to the men to look to their pistols. He rode up to Kirsten. The staff captain on his broad-backed, steady mare came at a walk to meet him. His face with its long mustache was serious as always, only his eyes were brighter than usual.
"Well, what about it?" said he to Denisov. "It won't come to a fight. You'll see—we shall retire."
"The devil only knows what they're about!" muttered Denisov. "Ah, Wostov," he cried noticing the cadet's bright face, "you've got it at last."
And he smiled approvingly, evidently pleased with the cadet. Rostov felt perfectly happy. Just then the commander appeared on the bridge. Denisov galloped up to him.
"Your excellency! Let us attack them! I'll dwive them off."
"Attack indeed!" said the colonel in a bored voice, puckering up his face as if driving off a troublesome fly. "And why are you stopping here? Don't you see the skirmishers are retreating? Lead the squadron back."
The squadron crossed the bridge and drew out of range of fire without having lost a single man. The second squadron that had been in the front line followed them across and the last Cossacks quitted the farther side of the river.
The two Pavlograd squadrons, having crossed the bridge, retired up the hill one after the other. Their colonel, Karl Bogdanich Schubert, came up to Denisov's squadron and rode at a footpace not far from Rostov, without taking any notice of him although they were now meeting for the first time since their encounter concerning Telyanin. Rostov, feeling that he was at the front and in the power of a man toward whom he now admitted that he had been to blame, did not lift his eyes from the colonel's athletic back, his nape covered with light hair, and his red neck. It seemed to Rostov that Bogdanich was only pretending not to notice him, and that his whole aim now was to test the cadet's courage, so he drew himself up and looked around him merrily; then it seemed to him that Bogdanich rode so near in order to show him his courage. Next he thought that his enemy would send the squadron on a desperate attack just to punish him—Rostov. Then he imagined how, after the attack, Bogdanich would come up to him as he lay wounded and would magnanimously extend the hand of reconciliation.
The high-shouldered figure of Zherkov, familiar to the Pavlograds as he had but recently left their regiment, rode up to the colonel. After his dismissal from headquarters Zherkov had not remained in the regiment, saying he was not such a fool as to slave at the front when he could get more rewards by doing nothing on the staff, and had succeeded in attaching himself as an orderly officer to Prince Bagration. He now came to his former chief with an order from the commander of the rear guard.
"Colonel," he said, addressing Rostov's enemy with an air of gloomy gravity and glancing round at his comrades, "there is an order to stop and fire the bridge."
"An order to who?" asked the colonel morosely.
"I don't myself know 'to who,'" replied the cornet in a serious tone, "but the prince told me to 'go and tell the colonel that the hussars must return quickly and fire the bridge.'"
Zherkov was followed by an officer of the suite who rode up to the colonel of hussars with the same order. After him the stout Nesvitski came galloping up on a Cossack horse that could scarcely carry his weight.
"How's this, Colonel?" he shouted as he approached. "I told you to fire the bridge, and now someone has gone and blundered; they are all beside themselves over there and one can't make anything out."
The colonel deliberately stopped the regiment and turned to Nesvitski.
"You spoke to me of inflammable material," said he, "but you said nothing about firing it."
"But, my dear sir," said Nesvitski as he drew up, taking off his cap and smoothing his hair wet with perspiration with his plump hand, "wasn't I telling you to fire the bridge, when inflammable material had been put in position?"
"I am not your 'dear sir,' Mr. Staff Officer, and you did not tell me to burn the bridge! I know the service, and it is my habit orders strictly to obey. You said the bridge would be burned, but who would it burn, I could not know by the holy spirit!"
"Ah, that's always the way!" said Nesvitski with a wave of the hand. "How did you get here?" said he, turning to Zherkov.
"On the same business. But you are damp! Let me wring you out!"
"You were saying, Mr. Staff Officer..." continued the colonel in an offended tone.
"Colonel," interrupted the officer of the suite, "You must be quick or the enemy will bring up his guns to use grapeshot."
The colonel looked silently at the officer of the suite, at the stout staff officer, and at Zherkov, and he frowned.
"I will the bridge fire," he said in a solemn tone as if to announce that in spite of all the unpleasantness he had to endure he would still do the right thing.
Striking his horse with his long muscular legs as if it were to blame for everything, the colonel moved forward and ordered the second squadron, that in which Rostov was serving under Denisov, to return to the bridge.
"There, it's just as I thought," said Rostov to himself. "He wishes to test me!" His heart contracted and the blood rushed to his face. "Let him see whether I am a coward!" he thought.
Again on all the bright faces of the squadron the serious expression appeared that they had worn when under fire. Rostov watched his enemy, the colonel, closely—to find in his face confirmation of his own conjecture, but the colonel did not once glance at Rostov, and looked as he always did when at the front, solemn and stern. Then came the word of command.
"Look sharp! Look sharp!" several voices repeated around him.
Their sabers catching in the bridles and their spurs jingling, the hussars hastily dismounted, not knowing what they were to do. The men were crossing themselves. Rostov no longer looked at the colonel, he had no time. He was afraid of falling behind the hussars, so much afraid that his heart stood still. His hand trembled as he gave his horse into an orderly's charge, and he felt the blood rush to his heart with a thud. Denisov rode past him, leaning back and shouting something. Rostov saw nothing but the hussars running all around him, their spurs catching and their sabers clattering.
"Stretchers!" shouted someone behind him.
Rostov did not think what this call for stretchers meant; he ran on, trying only to be ahead of the others; but just at the bridge, not looking at the ground, he came on some sticky, trodden mud, stumbled, and fell on his hands. The others outstripped him.
"At boss zides, Captain," he heard the voice of the colonel, who, having ridden ahead, had pulled up his horse near the bridge, with a triumphant, cheerful face.
Rostov wiping his muddy hands on his breeches looked at his enemy and was about to run on, thinking that the farther he went to the front the better. But Bogdanich, without looking at or recognizing Rostov, shouted to him:
"Who's that running on the middle of the bridge? To the right! Come back, Cadet!" he cried angrily; and turning to Denisov, who, showing off his courage, had ridden on to the planks of the bridge:
"Why run risks, Captain? You should dismount," he said.
"Oh, every bullet has its billet," answered Vaska Denisov, turning in his saddle.
Meanwhile Nesvitski, Zherkov, and the officer of the suite were standing together out of range of the shots, watching, now the small group of men with yellow shakos, dark-green jackets braided with cord, and blue riding breeches, who were swarming near the bridge, and then at what was approaching in the distance from the opposite side—the blue uniforms and groups with horses, easily recognizable as artillery.
"Will they burn the bridge or not? Who'll get there first? Will they get there and fire the bridge or will the French get within grapeshot range and wipe them out?" These were the questions each man of the troops on the high ground above the bridge involuntarily asked himself with a sinking heart—watching the bridge and the hussars in the bright evening light and the blue tunics advancing from the other side with their bayonets and guns.
"Ugh. The hussars will get it hot!" said Nesvitski; "they are within grapeshot range now."
"He shouldn't have taken so many men," said the officer of the suite.
"True enough," answered Nesvitski; "two smart fellows could have done the job just as well."
"Ah, your excellency," put in Zherkov, his eyes fixed on the hussars, but still with that naive air that made it impossible to know whether he was speaking in jest or in earnest. "Ah, your excellency! How you look at things! Send two men? And who then would give us the Vladimir medal and ribbon? But now, even if they do get peppered, the squadron may be recommended for honors and he may get a ribbon. Our Bogdanich knows how things are done."
"There now!" said the officer of the suite, "that's grapeshot."
He pointed to the French guns, the limbers of which were being detached and hurriedly removed.
On the French side, amid the groups with cannon, a cloud of smoke appeared, then a second and a third almost simultaneously, and at the moment when the first report was heard a fourth was seen. Then two reports one after another, and a third.
"Oh! Oh!" groaned Nesvitski as if in fierce pain, seizing the officer of the suite by the arm. "Look! A man has fallen! Fallen, fallen!"
"Two, I think."
"If I were Tsar I would never go to war," said Nesvitski, turning away.
The French guns were hastily reloaded. The infantry in their blue uniforms advanced toward the bridge at a run. Smoke appeared again but at irregular intervals, and grapeshot cracked and rattled onto the bridge. But this time Nesvitski could not see what was happening there, as a dense cloud of smoke arose from it. The hussars had succeeded in setting it on fire and the French batteries were now firing at them, no longer to hinder them but because the guns were trained and there was someone to fire at.
The French had time to fire three rounds of grapeshot before the hussars got back to their horses. Two were misdirected and the shot went too high, but the last round fell in the midst of a group of hussars and knocked three of them over.
Rostov, absorbed by his relations with Bogdanich, had paused on the bridge not knowing what to do. There was no one to hew down (as he had always imagined battles to himself), nor could he help to fire the bridge because he had not brought any burning straw with him like the other soldiers. He stood looking about him, when suddenly he heard a rattle on the bridge as if nuts were being spilt, and the hussar nearest to him fell against the rails with a groan. Rostov ran up to him with the others. Again someone shouted, "Stretchers!" Four men seized the hussar and began lifting him.
"Oooh! For Christ's sake let me alone!" cried the wounded man, but still he was lifted and laid on the stretcher.
Nicholas Rostov turned away and, as if searching for something, gazed into the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, and at the sun. How beautiful the sky looked; how blue, how calm, and how deep! How bright and glorious was the setting sun! With what soft glitter the waters of the distant Danube shone. And fairer still were the faraway blue mountains beyond the river, the nunnery, the mysterious gorges, and the pine forests veiled in the mist of their summits... There was peace and happiness... "I should wish for nothing else, nothing, if only I were there," thought Rostov. "In myself alone and in that sunshine there is so much happiness; but here... groans, suffering, fear, and this uncertainty and hurry... There—they are shouting again, and again are all running back somewhere, and I shall run with them, and it, death, is here above me and around... Another instant and I shall never again see the sun, this water, that gorge!..."
At that instant the sun began to hide behind the clouds, and other stretchers came into view before Rostov. And the fear of death and of the stretchers, and love of the sun and of life, all merged into one feeling of sickening agitation.
"O Lord God! Thou who art in that heaven, save, forgive, and protect me!" Rostov whispered.
The hussars ran back to the men who held their horses; their voices sounded louder and calmer, the stretchers disappeared from sight.
"Well, fwiend? So you've smelt powdah!" shouted Vaska Denisov just above his ear.
"It's all over; but I am a coward—yes, a coward!" thought Rostov, and sighing deeply he took Rook, his horse, which stood resting one foot, from the orderly and began to mount.
"Was that grapeshot?" he asked Denisov.
"Yes and no mistake!" cried Denisov. "You worked like wegular bwicks and it's nasty work! An attack's pleasant work! Hacking away at the dogs! But this sort of thing is the very devil, with them shooting at you like a target."
And Denisov rode up to a group that had stopped near Rostov, composed of the colonel, Nesvitski, Zherkov, and the officer from the suite.
"Well, it seems that no one has noticed," thought Rostov. And this was true. No one had taken any notice, for everyone knew the sensation which the cadet under fire for the first time had experienced.
"Here's something for you to report," said Zherkov. "See if I don't get promoted to a sublieutenancy."