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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 15
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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 15 Post by :alltraff Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :739

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 15

Rostov, with his keen sportsman's eye, was one of the first to catch
sight of these blue French dragoons pursuing our Uhlans. Nearer and
nearer in disorderly crowds came the Uhlans and the French dragoons
pursuing them. He could already see how these men, who looked so small
at the foot of the hill, jostled and overtook one another, waving
their arms and their sabers in the air.

Rostov gazed at what was happening before him as at a hunt. He
felt instinctively that if the hussars struck at the French dragoons
now, the latter could not withstand them, but if a charge was to be
made it must be done now, at that very moment, or it would be too
late. He looked around. A captain, standing beside him, was gazing
like himself with eyes fixed on the cavalry below them.

"Andrew Sevastyanych!" said Rostov. "You know, we could crush

"A fine thing too!" replied the captain, "and really..."

Rostov, without waiting to hear him out, touched his horse, galloped
to the front of his squadron, and before he had time to finish
giving the word of command, the whole squadron, sharing his feeling,
was following him. Rostov himself did not know how or why he did it.
He acted as he did when hunting, without reflecting or considering. He
saw the dragoons near and that they were galloping in disorder; he
knew they could not withstand an attack- knew there was only that
moment and that if he let it slip it would not return. The bullets
were whining and whistling so stimulatingly around him and his horse
was so eager to go that he could not restrain himself. He touched
his horse, gave the word of command, and immediately, hearing behind
him the tramp of the horses of his deployed squadron, rode at full
trot downhill toward the dragoons. Hardly had they reached the
bottom of the hill before their pace instinctively changed to a
gallop, which grew faster and faster as they drew nearer to our Uhlans
and the French dragoons who galloped after them. The dragoons were now
close at hand. On seeing the hussars, the foremost began to turn,
while those behind began to halt. With the same feeling with which
he had galloped across the path of a wolf, Rostov gave rein to his
Donets horse and galloped to intersect the path of the dragoons'
disordered lines. One Uhlan stopped, another who was on foot flung
himself to the ground to avoid being knocked over, and a riderless
horse fell in among the hussars. Nearly all the French dragoons were
galloping back. Rostov, picking out one on a gray horse, dashed
after him. On the way he came upon a bush, his gallant horse cleared
it, and almost before he had righted himself in his saddle he saw that
he would immediately overtake the enemy he had selected. That
Frenchman, by his uniform an officer, was going at a gallop, crouching
on his gray horse and urging it on with his saber. In another moment
Rostov's horse dashed its breast against the hindquarters of the
officer's horse, almost knocking it over, and at the same instant
Rostov, without knowing why, raised his saber and struck the Frenchman
with it.

The instant he had done this, all Rostov's animation vanished. The
officer fell, not so much from the blow- which had but slightly cut
his arm above the elbow- as from the shock to his horse and from
fright. Rostov reined in his horse, and his eyes sought his foe to see
whom he had vanquished. The French dragoon officer was hopping with
one foot on the ground, the other being caught in the stirrup. His
eyes, screwed up with fear as if he every moment expected another
blow, gazed up at Rostov with shrinking terror. His pale and
mud-stained face- fair and young, with a dimple in the chin and
light-blue eyes- was not an enemy's face at all suited to a
battlefield, but a most ordinary, homelike face. Before Rostov had
decided what to do with him, the officer cried, "I surrender!" He
hurriedly but vainly tried to get his foot out of the stirrup and
did not remove his frightened blue eyes from Rostov's face. Some
hussars who galloped up disengaged his foot and helped him into the
saddle. On all sides, the hussars were busy with the dragoons; one was
wounded, but though his face was bleeding, he would not give up his
horse; another was perched up behind an hussar with his arms round
him; a third was being helped by an hussar to mount his horse. In
front, the French infantry were firing as they ran. The hussars
galloped hastily back with their prisoners. Rostov galloped back
with the rest, aware of an unpleasant feeling of depression in his
heart. Something vague and confused, which he could not at all account
for, had come over him with the capture of that officer and the blow
he had dealt him.

Count Ostermann-Tolstoy met the returning hussars, sent for
Rostov, thanked him, and said he would report his gallant deed to
the Emperor and would recommend him for a St. George's Cross. When
sent for by Count Ostermann, Rostov, remembering that he had charged
without orders, felt sure his commander was sending for him to
punish him for breach of discipline. Ostermann's flattering words
and promise of a reward should therefore have struck him all the
more pleasantly, but he still felt that same vaguely disagreeable
feeling of moral nausea. "But what on earth is worrying me?" he
asked himself as he rode back from the general. "Ilyin? No, he's safe.
Have I disgraced myself in any way? No, that's not it." Something
else, resembling remorse, tormented him. "Yes, oh yes, that French
officer with the dimple. And I remember how my arm paused when I
raised it."

Rostov saw the prisoners being led away and galloped after them to
have a look at his Frenchman with the dimple on his chin. He was
sitting in his foreign uniform on an hussar packhorse and looked
anxiously about him; The sword cut on his arm could scarcely be called
a wound. He glanced at Rostov with a feigned smile and waved his
hand in greeting. Rostov still had the same indefinite feeling, as
of shame.

All that day and the next his friends and comrades noticed that
Rostov, without being dull or angry, was silent, thoughtful, and
preoccupied. He drank reluctantly, tried to remain alone, and kept
turning something over in his mind.

Rostov was always thinking about that brilliant exploit of his,
which to his amazement had gained him the St. George's Cross and
even given him a reputation for bravery, and there was something he
could not at all understand. "So others are even more afraid than I
am!" he thought. "So that's all there is in what is called heroism!
And heroism! And did I do it for my country's sake? And how was he
to blame, with his dimple and blue eyes? And how frightened he was! He
thought that I should kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand
trembled. And they have given me a St. George's Cross.... I can't make
it out at all."

But while Nicholas was considering these questions and still could
reach no clear solution of what puzzled him so, the wheel of fortune
in the service, as often happens, turned in his favor. After the
affair at Ostrovna he was brought into notice, received command of
an hussar battalion, and when a brave officer was needed he was

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War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 16
On receiving news of Natasha's illness, the countess, though notquite well yet and still weak, went to Moscow with Petya and therest of the household, and the whole family moved from MaryaDmitrievna's house to their own and settled down in town.Natasha's illness was so serious that, fortunately for her and forher parents, the consideration of all that had caused the illness, herconduct and the breaking off of her engagement, receded into thebackground. She was so ill that it was impossible for them to considerin how far she was to blame for what had happened. She could not eator sleep, grew visibly

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14 War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14

War And Peace - Book Nine: 1812 - Chapter 14
It was nearly three o'clock but no one was yet asleep, when thequartermaster appeared with an order to move on to the little townof Ostrovna. Still laughing and talking, the officers beganhurriedly getting ready and again boiled again boiled some muddy waterin the samovar. But Rostov went off to his squadron without waitingfor tea. Day was breaking, the rain had ceased, and the clouds weredispersing. It felt damp and cold, especially in clothes that werestill moist. As they left the tavern in the twilight of the dawn,Rostov and Ilyin both glanced under the wet and glistening leatherhood of the doctor's cart,