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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14 Post by :mohausa Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :782

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14

It was nearly three o'clock but no one was yet asleep, when the
quartermaster appeared with an order to move on to the little town
of Ostrovna. Still laughing and talking, the officers began
hurriedly getting ready and again boiled again boiled some muddy water
in the samovar. But Rostov went off to his squadron without waiting
for tea. Day was breaking, the rain had ceased, and the clouds were
dispersing. It felt damp and cold, especially in clothes that were
still moist. As they left the tavern in the twilight of the dawn,
Rostov and Ilyin both glanced under the wet and glistening leather
hood of the doctor's cart, from under the apron of which his feet were
sticking out, and in the middle of which his wife's nightcap was
visible and her sleepy breathing audible.

"She really is a dear little thing," said Rostov to Ilyin, who was
following him.

"A charming woman!" said Ilyin, with all the gravity of a boy of
sixteen.

Half an hour later the squadron was lined up on the road. The
command was heard to "mount" and the soldiers crossed themselves and
mounted. Rostov riding in front gave the order "Forward!" and the
hussars, with clanking sabers and subdued talk, their horses' hoofs
splashing in the mud, defiled in fours and moved along the broad
road planted with birch trees on each side, following the infantry and
a battery that had gone on in front.

Tattered, blue-purple clouds, reddening in the east, were scudding
before the wind. It was growing lighter and lighter. That curly
grass which always grows by country roadsides became clearly
visible, still wet with the night's rain; the drooping branches of the
birches, also wet, swayed in the wind and flung down bright drops of
water to one side. The soldiers' faces were more and more clearly
visible. Rostov, always closely followed by Ilyin, rode along the side
of the road between two rows of birch trees.

When campaigning, Rostov allowed himself the indulgence of riding
not a regimental but a Cossack horse. A judge of horses and a
sportsman, he had lately procured himself a large, fine, mettlesome,
Donets horse, dun-colored, with light mane and tail, and when he
rode it no one could outgallop him. To ride this horse was a
pleasure to him, and he thought of the horse, of the morning, of the
doctor's wife, but not once of the impending danger.

Formerly, when going into action, Rostov had felt afraid; now he had
not the least feeling of fear. He was fearless, not because he had
grown used to being under fire (one cannot grow used to danger), but
because he had learned how to manage his thoughts when in danger. He
had grown accustomed when going into action to think about anything
but what would seem most likely to interest him- the impending danger.
During the first period of his service, hard as he tried and much as
he reproached himself with cowardice, he had not been able to do this,
but with time it had come of itself. Now he rode beside Ilyin under
the birch trees, occasionally plucking leaves from a branch that met
his hand, sometimes touching his horse's side with his foot, or,
without turning round, handing a pipe he had finished to an hussar
riding behind him, with as calm and careless an air as though he
were merely out for a ride. He glanced with pity at the excited face
of Ilyin, who talked much and in great agitation. He knew from
experience the tormenting expectation of terror and death the cornet
was suffering and knew that only time could help him.

As soon as the sun appeared in a clear strip of sky beneath the
clouds, the wind fell, as if it dared not spoil the beauty of the
summer morning after the storm; drops still continued to fall, but
vertically now, and all was still. The whole sun appeared on the
horizon and disappeared behind a long narrow cloud that hung above it.
A few minutes later it reappeared brighter still from behind the top
of the cloud, tearing its edge. Everything grew bright and
glittered. And with that light, and as if in reply to it, came the
sound of guns ahead of them.

Before Rostov had had time to consider and determine the distance of
that firing, Count Ostermann-Tolstoy's adjutant came galloping from
Vitebsk with orders to advance at a trot along the road.

The squadron overtook and passed the infantry and the battery- which
had also quickened their pace- rode down a hill, and passing through
an empty and deserted village again ascended. The horses began to
lather and the men to flush.

"Halt! Dress your ranks!" the order of the regimental commander
was heard ahead. "Forward by the left. Walk, march!" came the order
from in front.

And the hussars, passing along the line of troops on the left
flank of our position, halted behind our Uhlans who were in the
front line. To the right stood our infantry in a dense column: they
were the reserve. Higher up the hill, on the very horizon, our guns
were visible through the wonderfully clear air, brightly illuminated
by slanting morning sunbeams. In front, beyond a hollow dale, could be
seen the enemy's columns and guns. Our advanced line, already in
action, could be heard briskly exchanging shots with the enemy in
the dale.

At these sounds, long unheard, Rostov's spirits rose, as at the
strains of the merriest music. Trap-ta-ta-tap! cracked the shots,
now together, now several quickly one after another. Again all was
silent and then again it sounded as if someone were walking on
detonators and exploding them.

The hussars remained in the same place for about an hour. A
cannonade began. Count Ostermann with his suite rode up behind the
squadron, halted, spoke to the commander of the regiment, and rode
up the hill to the guns.

After Ostermann had gone, a command rang out to the Uhlans.

"Form column! Prepare to charge!"

The infantry in front of them parted into platoons to allow the
cavalry to pass. The Uhlans started, the streamers on their spears
fluttering, and trotted downhill toward the French cavalry which was
seen below to the left.

As soon as the Uhlans descended the hill, the hussars were ordered
up the hill to support the battery. As they took the places vacated by
the Uhlans, bullets came from the front, whining and whistling, but
fell spent without taking effect.

The sounds, which he had not heard for so long, had an even more
pleasurable and exhilarating effect on Rostov than the previous sounds
of firing. Drawing himself up, he viewed the field of battle opening
out before him from the hill, and with his whole soul followed the
movement of the Uhlans. They swooped down close to the French
dragoons, something confused happened there amid the smoke, and five
minutes later our Uhlans were galloping back, not to the place they
had occupied but more to the left, and among the orange-colored Uhlans
on chestnut horses and behind them, in a large group, blue French
dragoons on gray horses could be seen.

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Rostov, with his keen sportsman's eye, was one of the first to catchsight of these blue French dragoons pursuing our Uhlans. Nearer andnearer in disorderly crowds came the Uhlans and the French dragoonspursuing them. He could already see how these men, who looked so smallat the foot of the hill, jostled and overtook one another, wavingtheir arms and their sabers in the air.Rostov gazed at what was happening before him as at a hunt. Hefelt instinctively that if the hussars struck at the French dragoonsnow, the latter could not withstand them, but if a charge was to bemade it must be
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In the tavern, before which stood the doctor's covered cart, therewere already some five officers. Mary Hendrikhovna, a plump littleblonde German, in a dressing jacket and nightcap, was sitting on abroad bench in the front corner. Her husband, the doctor, lay asleepbehind her. Rostov and Ilyin, on entering the room, were welcomed withmerry shouts and laughter."Dear me, how jolly we are!" said Rostov laughing."And why do you stand there gaping?""What swells they are! Why, the water streams from them! Don'tmake our drawing room so wet.""Don't mess Mary Hendrikhovna's dress!" cried other voices.Rostov and Ilyin hastened to find a corner where they
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