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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 36
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War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 36 Post by :vinnycr2 Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :2468

Click below to download : War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 36 (Format : PDF)

War And Peace - Book Ten: 1812 - Chapter 36

Prince Andrew's regiment was among the reserves which till after one
o'clock were stationed inactive behind Semenovsk, under heavy
artillery fire. Toward two o'clock the regiment, having already lost
more than two hundred men, was moved forward into a trampled
oatfield in the gap between Semenovsk and the Knoll Battery, where
thousands of men perished that day and on which an intense,
concentrated fire from several hundred enemy guns was directed between
one and two o'clock.

Without moving from that spot or firing a single shot the regiment
here lost another third of its men. From in front and especially
from the right, in the unlifting smoke the guns boomed, and out of the
mysterious domain of smoke that overlay the whole space in front,
quick hissing cannon balls and slow whistling shells flew unceasingly.
At times, as if to allow them a respite, a quarter of an hour passed
during which the cannon balls and shells all flew overhead, but
sometimes several men were torn from the regiment in a minute and
the slain were continually being dragged away and the wounded
carried off.

With each fresh blow less and less chance of life remained for those
not yet killed. The regiment stood in columns of battalion, three
hundred paces apart, but nevertheless the men were always in one and
the same mood. All alike were taciturn and morose. Talk was rarely
heard in the ranks, and it ceased altogether every time the thud of
a successful shot and the cry of "stretchers!" was heard. Most of
the time, by their officers' order, the men sat on the ground. One,
having taken off his shako, carefully loosened the gathers of its
lining and drew them tight again; another, rubbing some dry clay
between his palms, polished his bayonet; another fingered the strap
and pulled the buckle of his bandolier, while another smoothed and
refolded his leg bands and put his boots on again. Some built little
houses of the tufts in the plowed ground, or plaited baskets from
the straw in the cornfield. All seemed fully absorbed in these
pursuits. When men were killed or wounded, when rows of stretchers
went past, when some troops retreated, and when great masses of the
enemy came into view through the smoke, no one paid any attention to
these things. But when our artillery or cavalry advanced or some of
our infantry were seen to move forward, words of approval were heard
on all sides. But the liveliest attention was attracted by occurrences
quite apart from, and unconnected with, the battle. It was as if the
minds of these morally exhausted men found relief in everyday,
commonplace occurrences. A battery of artillery was passing in front
of the regiment. The horse of an ammunition cart put its leg over a
trace. "Hey, look at the trace horse!... Get her leg out! She'll
fall.... Ah, they don't see it!" came identical shouts from the
ranks all along the regiment. Another time, general attention was
attracted by a small brown dog, coming heaven knows whence, which
trotted in a preoccupied manner in front of the ranks with tail
stiffly erect till suddenly a shell fell close by, when it yelped,
tucked its tail between its legs, and darted aside. Yells and
shrieks of laughter rose from the whole regiment. But such
distractions lasted only a moment, and for eight hours the men had
been inactive, without food, in constant fear of death, and their pale
and gloomy faces grew ever paler and gloomier.

Prince Andrew, pale and gloomy like everyone in the regiment,
paced up and down from the border of one patch to another, at the edge
of the meadow beside an oatfield, with head bowed and arms behind
his back. There was nothing for him to do and no orders to be given.
Everything went on of itself. The killed were dragged from the
front, the wounded carried away, and the ranks closed up. If any
soldiers ran to the rear they returned immediately and hastily. At
first Prince Andrew, considering it his duty to rouse the courage of
the men and to set them an example, walked about among the ranks,
but he soon became convinced that this was unnecessary and that
there was nothing he could teach them. All the powers of his soul,
as of every soldier there, were unconsciously bent on avoiding the
contemplation of the horrors of their situation. He walked along the
meadow, dragging his feet, rustling the grass, and gazing at the
dust that covered his boots; now he took big strides trying to keep to
the footprints left on the meadow by the mowers, then he counted his
steps, calculating how often he must walk from one strip to another to
walk a mile, then he stripped the flowers from the wormwood that
grew along a boundary rut, rubbed them in his palms, and smelled their
pungent, sweetly bitter scent. Nothing remained of the previous
day's thoughts. He thought of nothing. He listened with weary ears
to the ever-recurring sounds, distinguishing the whistle of flying
projectiles from the booming of the reports, glanced at the tiresomely
familiar faces of the men of the first battalion, and waited. "Here it
comes... this one is coming our way again!" he thought, listening to
an approaching whistle in the hidden region of smoke. "One, another!
Again! It has hit...." He stopped and looked at the ranks. "No, it has
gone over. But this one has hit!" And again he started trying to reach
the boundary strip in sixteen paces. A whizz and a thud! Five paces
from him, a cannon ball tore up the dry earth and disappeared. A chill
ran down his back. Again he glanced at the ranks. Probably many had
been hit- a large crowd had gathered near the second battalion.

"Adjutant!" he shouted. "Order them not to crowd together."

The adjutant, having obeyed this instruction, approached Prince
Andrew. From the other side a battalion commander rode up.

"Look out!" came a frightened cry from a soldier and, like a bird
whirring in rapid flight and alighting on the ground, a shell
dropped with little noise within two steps of Prince Andrew and
close to the battalion commander's horse. The horse first,
regardless of whether it was right or wrong to show fear, snorted,
reared almost throwing the major, and galloped aside. The horse's
terror infected the men.

"Lie down!" cried the adjutant, throwing himself flat on the ground.

Prince Andrew hesitated. The smoking shell spun like a top between
him and the prostrate adjutant, near a wormwood plant between the
field and the meadow.

"Can this be death?" thought Prince Andrew, looking with a quite
new, envious glance at the grass, the wormwood, and the streamlet of
smoke that curled up from the rotating black ball. "I cannot, I do not
wish to die. I love life- I love this grass, this earth, this air...."
He thought this, and at the same time remembered that people were
looking at him.

"It's shameful, sir!" he said to the adjutant. "What..."

He did not finish speaking. At one and the same moment came the
sound of an explosion, a whistle of splinters as from a breaking
window frame, a suffocating smell of powder, and Prince Andrew started
to one side, raising his arm, and fell on his chest. Several
officers ran up to him. From the right side of his abdomen, blood
was welling out making a large stain on the grass.

The militiamen with stretchers who were called up stood behind the
officers. Prince Andrew lay on his chest with his face in the grass,
breathing heavily and noisily.

"What are you waiting for? Come along!"

The peasants went up and took him by his shoulders and legs, but
he moaned piteously and, exchanging looks, they set him down again.

"Pick him up, lift him, it's all the same!" cried someone.

They again took him by the shoulders and laid him on the stretcher.

"Ah, God! My God! What is it? The stomach? That means death! My
God!"- voices among the officers were heard saying.

"It flew a hair's breadth past my ear," said the adjutant.

The peasants, adjusting the stretcher to their shoulders, started
hurriedly along the path they had trodden down, to the dressing
station.

"Keep in step! Ah... those peasants!" shouted an officer, seizing by
their shoulders and checking the peasants, who were walking unevenly
and jolting the stretcher.

"Get into step, Fedor... I say, Fedor!" said the foremost peasant.

"Now that's right!" said the one behind joyfully, when he had got
into step.

"Your excellency! Eh, Prince!" said the trembling voice of Timokhin,
who had run up and was looking down on the stretcher.

Prince Andrew opened his eyes and looked up at the speaker from
the stretcher into which his head had sunk deep and again his
eyelids drooped.


The militiamen carried Prince Andrew to dressing station by the
wood, where wagons were stationed. The dressing station consisted of
three tents with flaps turned back, pitched at the edge of a birch
wood. In the wood, wagons and horses were standing. The horses were
eating oats from their movable troughs and sparrows flew down and
pecked the grains that fell. Some crows, scenting blood, flew among
the birch trees cawing impatiently. Around the tents, over more than
five acres, bloodstained men in various garbs stood, sat, or lay.
Around the wounded stood crowds of soldier stretcher-bearers with
dismal and attentive faces, whom the officers keeping order tried in
vain to drive from the spot. Disregarding the officers' orders, the
soldiers stood leaning against their stretchers and gazing intently,
as if trying to comprehend the difficult problem of what was taking
place before them. From the tents came now loud angry cries and now
plaintive groans. Occasionally dressers ran out to fetch water, or
to point out those who were to be brought in next. The wounded men
awaiting their turn outside the tents groaned, sighed, wept, screamed,
swore, or asked for vodka. Some were delirious. Prince Andrew's
bearers, stepping over the wounded who had not yet been bandaged, took
him, as a regimental commander, close up to one of the tents and there
stopped, awaiting instructions. Prince Andrew opened his eyes and
for a long time could not make out what was going on around him. He
remembered the meadow, the wormwood, the field, the whirling black
ball, and his sudden rush of passionate love of life. Two steps from
him, leaning against a branch and talking loudly and attracting
general attention, stood a tall, handsome, black-haired
noncommissioned officer with a bandaged head. He had been wounded in
the head and leg by bullets. Around him, eagerly listening to his
talk, a crowd of wounded and stretcher-bearers was gathered.

"We kicked him out from there so that he chucked everything, we
grabbed the King himself!" cried he, looking around him with eyes that
glittered with fever. "If only reserves had come up just then, lads,
there wouldn't have been nothing left of him! I tell you surely..."

Like all the others near the speaker, Prince Andrew looked at him
with shining eyes and experienced a sense of comfort. "But isn't it
all the same now?" thought he. "And what will be there, and what has
there been here? Why was I so reluctant to part with life? There was
something in this life I did not and do not understand."

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One of the doctors came out of the tent in a bloodstained apron,holding a cigar between the thumb and little finger of one of hissmall bloodstained hands, so as not to smear it. He raised his headand looked about him, but above the level of the wounded men. Heevidently wanted a little respite. After turning his head from rightto left for some time, he sighed and looked down."All right, immediately," he replied to a dresser who pointed PrinceAndrew out to him, and he told them to carry him into the tent.Murmurs arose among the wounded who were waiting."It seems that even
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On the rug-covered bench where Pierre had seen him in the morningsat Kutuzov, his gray head hanging, his heavy body relaxed. He gave noorders, but only assented to or dissented from what others suggested."Yes, yes, do that," he replied to various proposals. "Yes, yes: go,dear boy, and have a look," he would say to one or another of thoseabout him; or, "No, don't, we'd better wait!" He listened to thereports that were brought him and gave directions when hissubordinates demanded that of him; but when listening to the reportsit seemed as if he were not interested in the import of the
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