Prince Bagratión, having reached the highest point of our right flank, began riding downhill to where the roll of musketry was heard but where on account of the smoke nothing could be seen. The nearer they got to the hollow the less they could see but the more they felt the nearness of the actual battlefield. They began to meet wounded men. One with a bleeding head and no cap was being dragged along by two soldiers who supported him under the arms. There was a gurgle in his throat and he was spitting blood. A bullet had evidently hit him in the throat or mouth. Another was walking sturdily by himself but without his musket, groaning aloud and swinging his arm which had just been hurt, while blood from it was streaming over his greatcoat as from a bottle. He had that moment been wounded and his face showed fear rather than suffering. Crossing a road they descended a steep incline and saw several men lying on the ground; they also met a crowd of soldiers some of whom were unwounded. The soldiers were ascending the hill breathing heavily, and despite the general’s presence were talking loudly and gesticulating. In front of them rows of gray cloaks were already visible through the smoke, and an officer catching sight of Bagratión rushed shouting after the crowd of retreating soldiers, ordering them back. Bagratión rode up to the ranks along which shots crackled now here and now there, drowning the sound of voices and the shouts of command. The whole air reeked with smoke. The excited faces of the soldiers were blackened with it. Some were using their ramrods, others putting powder on the touchpans or taking charges from their pouches, while others were firing, though who they were firing at could not be seen for the smoke which there was no wind to carry away. A pleasant humming and whistling of bullets were often heard. “What is this?” thought Prince Andrew approaching the crowd of soldiers. “It can’t be an attack, for they are not moving; it can’t be a square—for they are not drawn up for that.”
The commander of the regiment, a thin, feeble-looking old man with a pleasant smile—his eyelids drooping more than half over his old eyes, giving him a mild expression, rode up to Bagratión and welcomed him as a host welcomes an honored guest. He reported that his regiment had been attacked by French cavalry and that, though the attack had been repulsed, he had lost more than half his men. He said the attack had been repulsed, employing this military term to describe what had occurred to his regiment, but in reality he did not himself know what had happened during that half-hour to the troops entrusted to him, and could not say with certainty whether the attack had been repulsed or his regiment had been broken up. All he knew was that at the commencement of the action balls and shells began flying all over his regiment and hitting men and that afterwards someone had shouted “Cavalry!” and our men had begun firing. They were still firing, not at the cavalry which had disappeared, but at French infantry who had come into the hollow and were firing at our men. Prince Bagratión bowed his head as a sign that this was exactly what he had desired and expected. Turning to his adjutant he ordered him to bring down the two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs whom they had just passed. Prince Andrew was struck by the changed expression on Prince Bagratión’s face at this moment. It expressed the concentrated and happy resolution you see on the face of a man who on a hot day takes a final run before plunging into the water. The dull, sleepy expression was no longer there, nor the affectation of profound thought. The round, steady, hawk’s eyes looked before him eagerly and rather disdainfully, not resting on anything although his movements were still slow and measured.
The commander of the regiment turned to Prince Bagratión, entreating him to go back as it was too dangerous to remain where they were. “Please, your excellency, for God’s sake!” he kept saying, glancing for support at an officer of the suite who turned away from him. “There, you see!” and he drew attention to the bullets whistling, singing, and hissing continually around them. He spoke in the tone of entreaty and reproach that a carpenter uses to a gentleman who has picked up an ax: “We are used to it, but you, sir, will blister your hands.” He spoke as if those bullets could not kill him, and his half-closed eyes gave still more persuasiveness to his words. The staff officer joined in the colonel’s appeals, but Bagratión did not reply; he only gave an order to cease firing and re-form, so as to give room for the two approaching battalions. While he was speaking, the curtain of smoke that had concealed the hollow, driven by a rising wind, began to move from right to left as if drawn by an invisible hand, and the hill opposite, with the French moving about on it, opened out before them. All eyes fastened involuntarily on this French column advancing against them and winding down over the uneven ground. One could already see the soldiers’ shaggy caps, distinguish the officers from the men, and see the standard flapping against its staff.
“They march splendidly,” remarked someone in Bagratión’s suite.
The head of the column had already descended into the hollow. The clash would take place on this side of it...
The remains of our regiment which had been in action rapidly formed up and moved to the right; from behind it, dispersing the laggards, came two battalions of the Sixth Chasseurs in fine order. Before they had reached Bagratión, the weighty tread of the mass of men marching in step could be heard. On their left flank, nearest to Bagratión, marched a company commander, a fine round-faced man, with a stupid and happy expression—the same man who had rushed out of the wattle shed. At that moment he was clearly thinking of nothing but how dashing a fellow he would appear as he passed the commander.
With the self-satisfaction of a man on parade, he stepped lightly with his muscular legs as if sailing along, stretching himself to his full height without the smallest effort, his ease contrasting with the heavy tread of the soldiers who were keeping step with him. He carried close to his leg a narrow unsheathed sword (small, curved, and not like a real weapon) and looked now at the superior officers and now back at the men without losing step, his whole powerful body turning flexibly. It was as if all the powers of his soul were concentrated on passing the commander in the best possible manner, and feeling that he was doing it well he was happy. “Left... left... left...” he seemed to repeat to himself at each alternate step; and in time to this, with stern but varied faces, the wall of soldiers burdened with knapsacks and muskets marched in step, and each one of these hundreds of soldiers seemed to be repeating to himself at each alternate step, “Left... left... left...” A fat major skirted a bush, puffing and falling out of step; a soldier who had fallen behind, his face showing alarm at his defection, ran at a trot, panting to catch up with his company. A cannon ball, cleaving the air, flew over the heads of Bagratión and his suite, and fell into the column to the measure of “Left... left!” “Close up!” came the company commander’s voice in jaunty tones. The soldiers passed in a semicircle round something where the ball had fallen, and an old trooper on the flank, a noncommissioned officer who had stopped beside the dead men, ran to catch up his line and, falling into step with a hop, looked back angrily, and through the ominous silence and the regular tramp of feet beating the ground in unison, one seemed to hear left... left... left.
“Well done, lads!” said Prince Bagratión.
“Glad to do our best, your ex’len-lency!” came a confused shout from the ranks. A morose soldier marching on the left turned his eyes on Bagratión as he shouted, with an expression that seemed to say: “We know that ourselves!” Another, without looking round, as though fearing to relax, shouted with his mouth wide open and passed on.
The order was given to halt and down knapsacks.
Bagratión rode round the ranks that had marched past him and dismounted. He gave the reins to a Cossack, took off and handed over his felt coat, stretched his legs, and set his cap straight. The head of the French column, with its officers leading, appeared from below the hill.
“Forward, with God!” said Bagratión, in a resolute, sonorous voice, turning for a moment to the front line, and slightly swinging his arms, he went forward uneasily over the rough field with the awkward gait of a cavalryman. Prince Andrew felt that an invisible power was leading him forward, and experienced great happiness.
The French were already near. Prince Andrew, walking beside Bagratión, could clearly distinguish their bandoliers, red epaulets, and even their faces. (He distinctly saw an old French officer who, with gaitered legs and turned-out toes, climbed the hill with difficulty.) Prince Bagratión gave no further orders and silently continued to walk on in front of the ranks. Suddenly one shot after another rang out from the French, smoke appeared all along their uneven ranks, and musket shots sounded. Several of our men fell, among them the round-faced officer who had marched so gaily and complacently. But at the moment the first report was heard, Bagratión looked round and shouted, “Hurrah!”
“Hurrah—ah!—ah!” rang a long-drawn shout from our ranks, and passing Bagratión and racing one another they rushed in an irregular but joyous and eager crowd down the hill at their disordered foe.
The attack of the Sixth Chasseurs secured the retreat of our right flank. In the center Túshin’s forgotten battery, which had managed to set fire to the Schön Grabern village, delayed the French advance. The French were putting out the fire which the wind was spreading, and thus gave us time to retreat. The retirement of the center to the other side of the dip in the ground at the rear was hurried and noisy, but the different companies did not get mixed. But our left—which consisted of the Azóv and Podólsk infantry and the Pávlograd hussars—was simultaneously attacked and outflanked by superior French forces under Lannes and was thrown into confusion. Bagratión had sent Zherkóv to the general commanding that left flank with orders to retreat immediately.
Zherkóv, not removing his hand from his cap, turned his horse about and galloped off. But no sooner had he left Bagratión than his courage failed him. He was seized by panic and could not go where it was dangerous.
Having reached the left flank, instead of going to the front where the firing was, he began to look for the general and his staff where they could not possibly be, and so did not deliver the order.
The command of the left flank belonged by seniority to the commander of the regiment Kutúzov had reviewed at Braunau and in which Dólokhov was serving as a private. But the command of the extreme left flank had been assigned to the commander of the Pávlograd regiment in which Rostóv was serving, and a misunderstanding arose. The two commanders were much exasperated with one another and, long after the action had begun on the right flank and the French were already advancing, were engaged in discussion with the sole object of offending one another. But the regiments, both cavalry and infantry, were by no means ready for the impending action. From privates to general they were not expecting a battle and were engaged in peaceful occupations, the cavalry feeding the horses and the infantry collecting wood.
“He higher iss dan I in rank,” said the German colonel of the hussars, flushing and addressing an adjutant who had ridden up, “so let him do what he vill, but I cannot sacrifice my hussars... Bugler, sount ze retreat!”
But haste was becoming imperative. Cannon and musketry, mingling together, thundered on the right and in the center, while the capotes of Lannes’ sharpshooters were already seen crossing the milldam and forming up within twice the range of a musket shot. The general in command of the infantry went toward his horse with jerky steps, and having mounted drew himself up very straight and tall and rode to the Pávlograd commander. The commanders met with polite bows but with secret malevolence in their hearts.
“Once again, Colonel,” said the general, “I can’t leave half my men in the wood. I beg of you, I beg of you,” he repeated, “to occupy the position and prepare for an attack.”
“I peg of you yourself not to mix in vot is not your business!” suddenly replied the irate colonel. “If you vere in the cavalry...”
“I am not in the cavalry, Colonel, but I am a Russian general and if you are not aware of the fact...”
“Quite avare, your excellency,” suddenly shouted the colonel, touching his horse and turning purple in the face. “Vill you be so goot to come to ze front and see dat zis position iss no goot? I don’t vish to destroy my men for your pleasure!”
“You forget yourself, Colonel. I am not considering my own pleasure and I won’t allow it to be said!”
Taking the colonel’s outburst as a challenge to his courage, the general expanded his chest and rode, frowning, beside him to the front line, as if their differences would be settled there amongst the bullets. They reached the front, several bullets sped over them, and they halted in silence. There was nothing fresh to be seen from the line, for from where they had been before it had been evident that it was impossible for cavalry to act among the bushes and broken ground, as well as that the French were outflanking our left. The general and colonel looked sternly and significantly at one another like two fighting cocks preparing for battle, each vainly trying to detect signs of cowardice in the other. Both passed the examination successfully. As there was nothing to be said, and neither wished to give occasion for it to be alleged that he had been the first to leave the range of fire, they would have remained there for a long time testing each other’s courage had it not been that just then they heard the rattle of musketry and a muffled shout almost behind them in the wood. The French had attacked the men collecting wood in the copse. It was no longer possible for the hussars to retreat with the infantry. They were cut off from the line of retreat on the left by the French. However inconvenient the position, it was now necessary to attack in order to cut a way through for themselves.
The squadron in which Rostóv was serving had scarcely time to mount before it was halted facing the enemy. Again, as at the Enns bridge, there was nothing between the squadron and the enemy, and again that terrible dividing line of uncertainty and fear—resembling the line separating the living from the dead—lay between them. All were conscious of this unseen line, and the question whether they would cross it or not, and how they would cross it, agitated them all.
The colonel rode to the front, angrily gave some reply to questions put to him by the officers, and, like a man desperately insisting on having his own way, gave an order. No one said anything definite, but the rumor of an attack spread through the squadron. The command to form up rang out and the sabers whizzed as they were drawn from their scabbards. Still no one moved. The troops of the left flank, infantry and hussars alike, felt that the commander did not himself know what to do, and this irresolution communicated itself to the men.
“If only they would be quick!” thought Rostóv, feeling that at last the time had come to experience the joy of an attack of which he had so often heard from his fellow hussars.
“Fo’ward, with God, lads!” rang out Denísov’s voice. “At a twot fo’ward!”
The horses’ croups began to sway in the front line. Rook pulled at the reins and started of his own accord.
Before him, on the right, Rostóv saw the front lines of his hussars and still farther ahead a dark line which he could not see distinctly but took to be the enemy. Shots could be heard, but some way off.
“Faster!” came the word of command, and Rostóv felt Rook’s flanks drooping as he broke into a gallop.
Rostóv anticipated his horse’s movements and became more and more elated. He had noticed a solitary tree ahead of him. This tree had been in the middle of the line that had seemed so terrible—and now he had crossed that line and not only was there nothing terrible, but everything was becoming more and more happy and animated. “Oh, how I will slash at him!” thought Rostóv, gripping the hilt of his saber.
“Hur-a-a-a-ah!” came a roar of voices. “Let anyone come my way now,” thought Rostóv driving his spurs into Rook and letting him go at a full gallop so that he outstripped the others. Ahead, the enemy was already visible. Suddenly something like a birch broom seemed to sweep over the squadron. Rostóv raised his saber, ready to strike, but at that instant the trooper Nikítenko, who was galloping ahead, shot away from him, and Rostóv felt as in a dream that he continued to be carried forward with unnatural speed but yet stayed on the same spot. From behind him Bondarchúk, an hussar he knew, jolted against him and looked angrily at him. Bondarchúk’s horse swerved and galloped past.
“How is it I am not moving? I have fallen, I am killed!” Rostóv asked and answered at the same instant. He was alone in the middle of a field. Instead of the moving horses and hussars’ backs, he saw nothing before him but the motionless earth and the stubble around him. There was warm blood under his arm. “No, I am wounded and the horse is killed.” Rook tried to rise on his forelegs but fell back, pinning his rider’s leg. Blood was flowing from his head; he struggled but could not rise. Rostóv also tried to rise but fell back, his sabretache having become entangled in the saddle. Where our men were, and where the French, he did not know. There was no one near.
Having disentangled his leg, he rose. “Where, on which side, was now the line that had so sharply divided the two armies?” he asked himself and could not answer. “Can something bad have happened to me?” he wondered as he got up: and at that moment he felt that something superfluous was hanging on his benumbed left arm. The wrist felt as if it were not his. He examined his hand carefully, vainly trying to find blood on it. “Ah, here are people coming,” he thought joyfully, seeing some men running toward him. “They will help me!” In front came a man wearing a strange shako and a blue cloak, swarthy, sunburned, and with a hooked nose. Then came two more, and many more running behind. One of them said something strange, not in Russian. In among the hindmost of these men wearing similar shakos was a Russian hussar. He was being held by the arms and his horse was being led behind him.
“It must be one of ours, a prisoner. Yes. Can it be that they will take me too? Who are these men?” thought Rostóv, scarcely believing his eyes. “Can they be French?” He looked at the approaching Frenchmen, and though but a moment before he had been galloping to get at them and hack them to pieces, their proximity now seemed so awful that he could not believe his eyes. “Who are they? Why are they running? Can they be coming at me? And why? To kill me? Me whom everyone is so fond of?” He remembered his mother’s love for him, and his family’s, and his friends’, and the enemy’s intention to kill him seemed impossible. “But perhaps they may do it!” For more than ten seconds he stood not moving from the spot or realizing the situation. The foremost Frenchman, the one with the hooked nose, was already so close that the expression of his face could be seen. And the excited, alien face of that man, his bayonet hanging down, holding his breath, and running so lightly, frightened Rostóv. He seized his pistol and, instead of firing it, flung it at the Frenchman and ran with all his might toward the bushes. He did not now run with the feeling of doubt and conflict with which he had trodden the Enns bridge, but with the feeling of a hare fleeing from the hounds. One single sentiment, that of fear for his young and happy life, possessed his whole being. Rapidly leaping the furrows, he fled across the field with the impetuosity he used to show at catchplay, now and then turning his good-natured, pale, young face to look back. A shudder of terror went through him: “No, better not look,” he thought, but having reached the bushes he glanced round once more. The French had fallen behind, and just as he looked round the first man changed his run to a walk and, turning, shouted something loudly to a comrade farther back. Rostóv paused. “No, there’s some mistake,” thought he. “They can’t have wanted to kill me.” But at the same time, his left arm felt as heavy as if a seventy-pound weight were tied to it. He could run no more. The Frenchman also stopped and took aim. Rostóv closed his eyes and stooped down. One bullet and then another whistled past him. He mustered his last remaining strength, took hold of his left hand with his right, and reached the bushes. Behind these were some Russian sharpshooters.
The infantry regiments that had been caught unawares in the outskirts of the wood ran out of it, the different companies getting mixed, and retreated as a disorderly crowd. One soldier, in his fear, uttered the senseless cry, “Cut off!” that is so terrible in battle, and that word infected the whole crowd with a feeling of panic.
“Surrounded! Cut off? We’re lost!” shouted the fugitives.
The moment he heard the firing and the cry from behind, the general realized that something dreadful had happened to his regiment, and the thought that he, an exemplary officer of many years’ service who had never been to blame, might be held responsible at headquarters for negligence or inefficiency so staggered him that, forgetting the recalcitrant cavalry colonel, his own dignity as a general, and above all quite forgetting the danger and all regard for self-preservation, he clutched the crupper of his saddle and, spurring his horse, galloped to the regiment under a hail of bullets which fell around, but fortunately missed him. His one desire was to know what was happening and at any cost correct, or remedy, the mistake if he had made one, so that he, an exemplary officer of twenty-two years’ service, who had never been censured, should not be held to blame.
Having galloped safely through the French, he reached a field behind the copse across which our men, regardless of orders, were running and descending the valley. That moment of moral hesitation which decides the fate of battles had arrived. Would this disorderly crowd of soldiers attend to the voice of their commander, or would they, disregarding him, continue their flight? Despite his desperate shouts that used to seem so terrible to the soldiers, despite his furious purple countenance distorted out of all likeness to his former self, and the flourishing of his saber, the soldiers all continued to run, talking, firing into the air, and disobeying orders. The moral hesitation which decided the fate of battles was evidently culminating in a panic.
The general had a fit of coughing as a result of shouting and of the powder smoke and stopped in despair. Everything seemed lost. But at that moment the French who were attacking, suddenly and without any apparent reason, ran back and disappeared from the outskirts, and Russian sharpshooters showed themselves in the copse. It was Timókhin’s company, which alone had maintained its order in the wood and, having lain in ambush in a ditch, now attacked the French unexpectedly. Timókhin, armed only with a sword, had rushed at the enemy with such a desperate cry and such mad, drunken determination that, taken by surprise, the French had thrown down their muskets and run. Dólokhov, running beside Timókhin, killed a Frenchman at close quarters and was the first to seize the surrendering French officer by his collar. Our fugitives returned, the battalions re-formed, and the French who had nearly cut our left flank in half were for the moment repulsed. Our reserve units were able to join up, and the fight was at an end. The regimental commander and Major Ekonómov had stopped beside a bridge, letting the retreating companies pass by them, when a soldier came up and took hold of the commander’s stirrup, almost leaning against him. The man was wearing a bluish coat of broadcloth, he had no knapsack or cap, his head was bandaged, and over his shoulder a French munition pouch was slung. He had an officer’s sword in his hand. The soldier was pale, his blue eyes looked impudently into the commander’s face, and his lips were smiling. Though the commander was occupied in giving instructions to Major Ekonómov, he could not help taking notice of the soldier.
“Your excellency, here are two trophies,” said Dólokhov, pointing to the French sword and pouch. “I have taken an officer prisoner. I stopped the company.” Dólokhov breathed heavily from weariness and spoke in abrupt sentences. “The whole company can bear witness. I beg you will remember this, your excellency!”
“All right, all right,” replied the commander, and turned to Major Ekonómov.
But Dólokhov did not go away; he untied the handkerchief around his head, pulled it off, and showed the blood congealed on his hair.
“A bayonet wound. I remained at the front. Remember, your excellency!”
Túshin’s battery had been forgotten and only at the very end of the action did Prince Bagratión, still hearing the cannonade in the center, send his orderly staff officer, and later Prince Andrew also, to order the battery to retire as quickly as possible. When the supports attached to Túshin’s battery had been moved away in the middle of the action by someone’s order, the battery had continued firing and was only not captured by the French because the enemy could not surmise that anyone could have the effrontery to continue firing from four quite undefended guns. On the contrary, the energetic action of that battery led the French to suppose that here—in the center—the main Russian forces were concentrated. Twice they had attempted to attack this point, but on each occasion had been driven back by grapeshot from the four isolated guns on the hillock.
Soon after Prince Bagratión had left him, Túshin had succeeded in setting fire to Schön Grabern.
“Look at them scurrying! It’s burning! Just see the smoke! Fine! Grand! Look at the smoke, the smoke!” exclaimed the artillerymen, brightening up.
All the guns, without waiting for orders, were being fired in the direction of the conflagration. As if urging each other on, the soldiers cried at each shot: “Fine! That’s good! Look at it... Grand!” The fire, fanned by the breeze, was rapidly spreading. The French columns that had advanced beyond the village went back; but as though in revenge for this failure, the enemy placed ten guns to the right of the village and began firing them at Túshin’s battery.
In their childlike glee, aroused by the fire and their luck in successfully cannonading the French, our artillerymen only noticed this battery when two balls, and then four more, fell among our guns, one knocking over two horses and another tearing off a munition-wagon driver’s leg. Their spirits once roused were, however, not diminished, but only changed character. The horses were replaced by others from a reserve gun carriage, the wounded were carried away, and the four guns were turned against the ten-gun battery. Túshin’s companion officer had been killed at the beginning of the engagement and within an hour seventeen of the forty men of the guns’ crews had been disabled, but the artillerymen were still as merry and lively as ever. Twice they noticed the French appearing below them, and then they fired grapeshot at them.
Little Túshin, moving feebly and awkwardly, kept telling his orderly to “refill my pipe for that one!” and then, scattering sparks from it, ran forward shading his eyes with his small hand to look at the French.
“Smack at ‘em, lads!” he kept saying, seizing the guns by the wheels and working the screws himself.
Amid the smoke, deafened by the incessant reports which always made him jump, Túshin not taking his pipe from his mouth ran from gun to gun, now aiming, now counting the charges, now giving orders about replacing dead or wounded horses and harnessing fresh ones, and shouting in his feeble voice, so high pitched and irresolute. His face grew more and more animated. Only when a man was killed or wounded did he frown and turn away from the sight, shouting angrily at the men who, as is always the case, hesitated about lifting the injured or dead. The soldiers, for the most part handsome fellows and, as is always the case in an artillery company, a head and shoulders taller and twice as broad as their officer—all looked at their commander like children in an embarrassing situation, and the expression on his face was invariably reflected on theirs.
Owing to the terrible uproar and the necessity for concentration and activity, Túshin did not experience the slightest unpleasant sense of fear, and the thought that he might be killed or badly wounded never occurred to him. On the contrary, he became more and more elated. It seemed to him that it was a very long time ago, almost a day, since he had first seen the enemy and fired the first shot, and that the corner of the field he stood on was well-known and familiar ground. Though he thought of everything, considered everything, and did everything the best of officers could do in his position, he was in a state akin to feverish delirium or drunkenness.
From the deafening sounds of his own guns around him, the whistle and thud of the enemy’s cannon balls, from the flushed and perspiring faces of the crew bustling round the guns, from the sight of the blood of men and horses, from the little puffs of smoke on the enemy’s side (always followed by a ball flying past and striking the earth, a man, a gun, a horse), from the sight of all these things a fantastic world of his own had taken possession of his brain and at that moment afforded him pleasure. The enemy’s guns were in his fancy not guns but pipes from which occasional puffs were blown by an invisible smoker.
“There... he’s puffing again,” muttered Túshin to himself, as a small cloud rose from the hill and was borne in a streak to the left by the wind.
“Now look out for the ball... we’ll throw it back.”
“What do you want, your honor?” asked an artilleryman, standing close by, who heard him muttering.
“Nothing... only a shell...” he answered.
“Come along, our Matvévna!” he said to himself. “Matvévna” * was the name his fancy gave to the farthest gun of the battery, which was large and of an old pattern. The French swarming round their guns seemed to him like ants. In that world, the handsome drunkard Number One of the second gun’s crew was “uncle”; Túshin looked at him more often than at anyone else and took delight in his every movement. The sound of musketry at the foot of the hill, now diminishing, now increasing, seemed like someone’s breathing. He listened intently to the ebb and flow of these sounds.
“Ah! Breathing again, breathing!” he muttered to himself.
He imagined himself as an enormously tall, powerful man who was throwing cannon balls at the French with both hands.
“Now then, Matvévna, dear old lady, don’t let me down!” he was saying as he moved from the gun, when a strange, unfamiliar voice called above his head: “Captain Túshin! Captain!”
Túshin turned round in dismay. It was the staff officer who had turned him out of the booth at Grunth. He was shouting in a gasping voice:
“Are you mad? You have twice been ordered to retreat, and you...”
“Why are they down on me?” thought Túshin, looking in alarm at his superior.
“I... don’t...” he muttered, holding up two fingers to his cap. “I...”
But the staff officer did not finish what he wanted to say. A cannon ball, flying close to him, caused him to duck and bend over his horse. He paused, and just as he was about to say something more, another ball stopped him. He turned his horse and galloped off.
“Retire! All to retire!” he shouted from a distance.
The soldiers laughed. A moment later, an adjutant arrived with the same order.
It was Prince Andrew. The first thing he saw on riding up to the space where Túshin’s guns were stationed was an unharnessed horse with a broken leg, that lay screaming piteously beside the harnessed horses. Blood was gushing from its leg as from a spring. Among the limbers lay several dead men. One ball after another passed over as he approached and he felt a nervous shudder run down his spine. But the mere thought of being afraid roused him again. “I cannot be afraid,” thought he, and dismounted slowly among the guns. He delivered the order and did not leave the battery. He decided to have the guns removed from their positions and withdrawn in his presence. Together with Túshin, stepping across the bodies and under a terrible fire from the French, he attended to the removal of the guns.
“A staff officer was here a minute ago, but skipped off,” said an artilleryman to Prince Andrew. “Not like your honor!”
Prince Andrew said nothing to Túshin. They were both so busy as to seem not to notice one another. When having limbered up the only two cannon that remained uninjured out of the four, they began moving down the hill (one shattered gun and one unicorn were left behind), Prince Andrew rode up to Túshin.
“Well, till we meet again...” he said, holding out his hand to Túshin.
“Good-by, my dear fellow,” said Túshin. “Dear soul! Good-by, my dear fellow!” and for some unknown reason tears suddenly filled his eyes.
The wind had fallen and black clouds, merging with the powder smoke, hung low over the field of battle on the horizon. It was growing dark and the glow of two conflagrations was the more conspicuous. The cannonade was dying down, but the rattle of musketry behind and on the right sounded oftener and nearer. As soon as Túshin with his guns, continually driving round or coming upon wounded men, was out of range of fire and had descended into the dip, he was met by some of the staff, among them the staff officer and Zherkóv, who had been twice sent to Túshin’s battery but had never reached it. Interrupting one another, they all gave, and transmitted, orders as to how to proceed, reprimanding and reproaching him. Túshin gave no orders, and, silently—fearing to speak because at every word he felt ready to weep without knowing why—rode behind on his artillery nag. Though the orders were to abandon the wounded, many of them dragged themselves after troops and begged for seats on the gun carriages. The jaunty infantry officer who just before the battle had rushed out of Túshin’s wattle shed was laid, with a bullet in his stomach, on “Matvévna’s” carriage. At the foot of the hill, a pale hussar cadet, supporting one hand with the other, came up to Túshin and asked for a seat.
“Captain, for God’s sake! I’ve hurt my arm,” he said timidly. “For God’s sake... I can’t walk. For God’s sake!”
It was plain that this cadet had already repeatedly asked for a lift and been refused. He asked in a hesitating, piteous voice.
“Tell them to give me a seat, for God’s sake!”
“Give him a seat,” said Túshin. “Lay a cloak for him to sit on, lad,” he said, addressing his favorite soldier. “And where is the wounded officer?”
“He has been set down. He died,” replied someone.
“Help him up. Sit down, dear fellow, sit down! Spread out the cloak, Antónov.”
The cadet was Rostóv. With one hand he supported the other; he was pale and his jaw trembled, shivering feverishly. He was placed on “Matvévna,” the gun from which they had removed the dead officer. The cloak they spread under him was wet with blood which stained his breeches and arm.
“What, are you wounded, my lad?” said Túshin, approaching the gun on which Rostóv sat.
“No, it’s a sprain.”
“Then what is this blood on the gun carriage?” inquired Túshin.
“It was the officer, your honor, stained it,” answered the artilleryman, wiping away the blood with his coat sleeve, as if apologizing for the state of his gun.
It was all that they could do to get the guns up the rise aided by the infantry, and having reached the village of Gruntersdorf they halted. It had grown so dark that one could not distinguish the uniforms ten paces off, and the firing had begun to subside. Suddenly, near by on the right, shouting and firing were again heard. Flashes of shot gleamed in the darkness. This was the last French attack and was met by soldiers who had sheltered in the village houses. They all rushed out of the village again, but Túshin’s guns could not move, and the artillerymen, Túshin, and the cadet exchanged silent glances as they awaited their fate. The firing died down and soldiers, talking eagerly, streamed out of a side street.
“Not hurt, Petróv?” asked one.
“We’ve given it ‘em hot, mate! They won’t make another push now,” said another.
“You couldn’t see a thing. How they shot at their own fellows! Nothing could be seen. Pitch-dark, brother! Isn’t there something to drink?”
The French had been repulsed for the last time. And again and again in the complete darkness Túshin’s guns moved forward, surrounded by the humming infantry as by a frame.
In the darkness, it seemed as though a gloomy unseen river was flowing always in one direction, humming with whispers and talk and the sound of hoofs and wheels. Amid the general rumble, the groans and voices of the wounded were more distinctly heard than any other sound in the darkness of the night. The gloom that enveloped the army was filled with their groans, which seemed to melt into one with the darkness of the night. After a while the moving mass became agitated, someone rode past on a white horse followed by his suite, and said something in passing: “What did he say? Where to, now? Halt, is it? Did he thank us?” came eager questions from all sides. The whole moving mass began pressing closer together and a report spread that they were ordered to halt: evidently those in front had halted. All remained where they were in the middle of the muddy road.
Fires were lighted and the talk became more audible. Captain Túshin, having given orders to his company, sent a soldier to find a dressing station or a doctor for the cadet, and sat down by a bonfire the soldiers had kindled on the road. Rostóv, too, dragged himself to the fire. From pain, cold, and damp, a feverish shivering shook his whole body. Drowsiness was irresistibly mastering him, but he kept awake by an excruciating pain in his arm, for which he could find no satisfactory position. He kept closing his eyes and then again looking at the fire, which seemed to him dazzlingly red, and at the feeble, round-shouldered figure of Túshin who was sitting cross-legged like a Turk beside him. Túshin’s large, kind, intelligent eyes were fixed with sympathy and commiseration on Rostóv, who saw that Túshin with his whole heart wished to help him but could not.
From all sides were heard the footsteps and talk of the infantry, who were walking, driving past, and settling down all around. The sound of voices, the tramping feet, the horses’ hoofs moving in mud, the crackling of wood fires near and afar, merged into one tremulous rumble.
It was no longer, as before, a dark, unseen river flowing through the gloom, but a dark sea swelling and gradually subsiding after a storm. Rostóv looked at and listened listlessly to what passed before and around him. An infantryman came to the fire, squatted on his heels, held his hands to the blaze, and turned away his face.
“You don’t mind your honor?” he asked Túshin. “I’ve lost my company, your honor. I don’t know where... such bad luck!”
With the soldier, an infantry officer with a bandaged cheek came up to the bonfire, and addressing Túshin asked him to have the guns moved a trifle to let a wagon go past. After he had gone, two soldiers rushed to the campfire. They were quarreling and fighting desperately, each trying to snatch from the other a boot they were both holding on to.
“You picked it up?... I dare say! You’re very smart!” one of them shouted hoarsely.
Then a thin, pale soldier, his neck bandaged with a bloodstained leg band, came up and in angry tones asked the artillerymen for water.
“Must one die like a dog?” said he.
Túshin told them to give the man some water. Then a cheerful soldier ran up, begging a little fire for the infantry.
“A nice little hot torch for the infantry! Good luck to you, fellow countrymen. Thanks for the fire—we’ll return it with interest,” said he, carrying away into the darkness a glowing stick.
Next came four soldiers, carrying something heavy on a cloak, and passed by the fire. One of them stumbled.
“Who the devil has put the logs on the road?” snarled he.
“He’s dead—why carry him?” said another.
And they disappeared into the darkness with their load.
“Still aching?” Túshin asked Rostóv in a whisper.
“Your honor, you’re wanted by the general. He is in the hut here,” said a gunner, coming up to Túshin.
Túshin rose and, buttoning his greatcoat and pulling it straight, walked away from the fire.
Not far from the artillery campfire, in a hut that had been prepared for him, Prince Bagratión sat at dinner, talking with some commanding officers who had gathered at his quarters. The little old man with the half-closed eyes was there greedily gnawing a mutton bone, and the general who had served blamelessly for twenty-two years, flushed by a glass of vodka and the dinner; and the staff officer with the signet ring, and Zherkóv, uneasily glancing at them all, and Prince Andrew, pale, with compressed lips and feverishly glittering eyes.
In a corner of the hut stood a standard captured from the French, and the accountant with the naïve face was feeling its texture, shaking his head in perplexity—perhaps because the banner really interested him, perhaps because it was hard for him, hungry as he was, to look on at a dinner where there was no place for him. In the next hut there was a French colonel who had been taken prisoner by our dragoons. Our officers were flocking in to look at him. Prince Bagratión was thanking the individual commanders and inquiring into details of the action and our losses. The general whose regiment had been inspected at Braunau was informing the prince that as soon as the action began he had withdrawn from the wood, mustered the men who were woodcutting, and, allowing the French to pass him, had made a bayonet charge with two battalions and had broken up the French troops.
“When I saw, your excellency, that their first battalion was disorganized, I stopped in the road and thought: ‘I’ll let them come on and will meet them with the fire of the whole battalion’—and that’s what I did.”
The general had so wished to do this and was so sorry he had not managed to do it that it seemed to him as if it had really happened. Perhaps it might really have been so? Could one possibly make out amid all that confusion what did or did not happen?
“By the way, your excellency, I should inform you,” he continued—remembering Dólokhov’s conversation with Kutúzov and his last interview with the gentleman-ranker—“that Private Dólokhov, who was reduced to the ranks, took a French officer prisoner in my presence and particularly distinguished himself.”
“I saw the Pávlograd hussars attack there, your excellency,” chimed in Zherkóv, looking uneasily around. He had not seen the hussars all that day, but had heard about them from an infantry officer. “They broke up two squares, your excellency.”
Several of those present smiled at Zherkóv’s words, expecting one of his usual jokes, but noticing that what he was saying redounded to the glory of our arms and of the day’s work, they assumed a serious expression, though many of them knew that what he was saying was a lie devoid of any foundation. Prince Bagratión turned to the old colonel:
“Gentlemen, I thank you all; all arms have behaved heroically: infantry, cavalry, and artillery. How was it that two guns were abandoned in the center?” he inquired, searching with his eyes for someone. (Prince Bagratión did not ask about the guns on the left flank; he knew that all the guns there had been abandoned at the very beginning of the action.) “I think I sent you?” he added, turning to the staff officer on duty.
“One was damaged,” answered the staff officer, “and the other I can’t understand. I was there all the time giving orders and had only just left.... It is true that it was hot there,” he added, modestly.
Someone mentioned that Captain Túshin was bivouacking close to the village and had already been sent for.
“Oh, but you were there?” said Prince Bagratión, addressing Prince Andrew.
“Of course, we only just missed one another,” said the staff officer, with a smile to Bolkónski.
“I had not the pleasure of seeing you,” said Prince Andrew, coldly and abruptly.
All were silent. Túshin appeared at the threshold and made his way timidly from behind the backs of the generals. As he stepped past the generals in the crowded hut, feeling embarrassed as he always was by the sight of his superiors, he did not notice the staff of the banner and stumbled over it. Several of those present laughed.
“How was it a gun was abandoned?” asked Bagratión, frowning, not so much at the captain as at those who were laughing, among whom Zherkóv laughed loudest.
Only now, when he was confronted by the stern authorities, did his guilt and the disgrace of having lost two guns and yet remaining alive present themselves to Túshin in all their horror. He had been so excited that he had not thought about it until that moment. The officers’ laughter confused him still more. He stood before Bagratión with his lower jaw trembling and was hardly able to mutter: “I don’t know... your excellency... I had no men... your excellency.”
“You might have taken some from the covering troops.”
Túshin did not say that there were no covering troops, though that was perfectly true. He was afraid of getting some other officer into trouble, and silently fixed his eyes on Bagratión as a schoolboy who has blundered looks at an examiner.
The silence lasted some time. Prince Bagratión, apparently not wishing to be severe, found nothing to say; the others did not venture to intervene. Prince Andrew looked at Túshin from under his brows and his fingers twitched nervously.
“Your excellency!” Prince Andrew broke the silence with his abrupt voice, “you were pleased to send me to Captain Túshin’s battery. I went there and found two thirds of the men and horses knocked out, two guns smashed, and no supports at all.”
Prince Bagratión and Túshin looked with equal intentness at Bolkónski, who spoke with suppressed agitation.
“And, if your excellency will allow me to express my opinion,” he continued, “we owe today’s success chiefly to the action of that battery and the heroic endurance of Captain Túshin and his company,” and without awaiting a reply, Prince Andrew rose and left the table.
Prince Bagratión looked at Túshin, evidently reluctant to show distrust in Bolkónski’s emphatic opinion yet not feeling able fully to credit it, bent his head, and told Túshin that he could go. Prince Andrew went out with him.
“Thank you; you saved me, my dear fellow!” said Túshin.
Prince Andrew gave him a look, but said nothing and went away. He felt sad and depressed. It was all so strange, so unlike what he had hoped.
“Who are they? Why are they here? What do they want? And when will all this end?” thought Rostóv, looking at the changing shadows before him. The pain in his arm became more and more intense. Irresistible drowsiness overpowered him, red rings danced before his eyes, and the impression of those voices and faces and a sense of loneliness merged with the physical pain. It was they, these soldiers—wounded and unwounded—it was they who were crushing, weighing down, and twisting the sinews and scorching the flesh of his sprained arm and shoulder. To rid himself of them he closed his eyes.
For a moment he dozed, but in that short interval innumerable things appeared to him in a dream: his mother and her large white hand, Sónya’s thin little shoulders, Natásha’s eyes and laughter, Denísov with his voice and mustache, and Telyánin and all that affair with Telyánin and Bogdánich. That affair was the same thing as this soldier with the harsh voice, and it was that affair and this soldier that were so agonizingly, incessantly pulling and pressing his arm and always dragging it in one direction. He tried to get away from them, but they would not for an instant let his shoulder move a hair’s breadth. It would not ache—it would be well—if only they did not pull it, but it was impossible to get rid of them.
He opened his eyes and looked up. The black canopy of night hung less than a yard above the glow of the charcoal. Flakes of falling snow were fluttering in that light. Túshin had not returned, the doctor had not come. He was alone now, except for a soldier who was sitting naked at the other side of the fire, warming his thin yellow body.
“Nobody wants me!” thought Rostóv. “There is no one to help me or pity me. Yet I was once at home, strong, happy, and loved.” He sighed and, doing so, groaned involuntarily.
“Eh, is anything hurting you?” asked the soldier, shaking his shirt out over the fire, and not waiting for an answer he gave a grunt and added: “What a lot of men have been crippled today—frightful!”
Rostóv did not listen to the soldier. He looked at the snowflakes fluttering above the fire and remembered a Russian winter at his warm, bright home, his fluffy fur coat, his quickly gliding sleigh, his healthy body, and all the affection and care of his family. “And why did I come here?” he wondered.
Next day the French army did not renew their attack, and the remnant of Bagratión’s detachment was reunited to Kutúzov’s army.