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War And Peace 101


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by echelons." So he reasoned.... All the time he had been beside the gun, he had heard the voices of the officers distinctly, but as often happens had not understood a word of what they were saying. Suddenly, however, he was struck by a voice coming from the shed, and its tone was so sincere that he could not but listen. "No, friend," said a pleasant and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, a familiar voice, "what I say is that if it were possible to know what is beyond death, none of us would be afraid of it. Thats so, friend." Another, a younger voice, interrupted him: "Afraid or not, you cant escape it anyhow." "All the same, one is afraid! Oh, you clever people," said a third manly voice interrupting them both. "Of course you artillery men are very wise, because you can take everything along with you--vodka and snacks." And the owner of the manly voice, evidently an infantry officer, laughed. "Yes, one is afraid," continued the first speaker, he of the familiar voice. "One is afraid of the unknown, thats what it is. Whatever we may say about the soul going to the sky... we know there is no sky but only an atmosphere." The manly voice again interrupted the artillery officer. "Well, stand us some of your herb vodka, Tushin," it said. "Why," thought Prince Andrew, "thats the captain who stood up in the sutlers hut without his boots." He recognized the agreeable, philosophizing voice with pleasure. "Some herb vodka? Certainly!" said Tushin. "But still, to conceive a future life..." He did not finish. Just then there was a whistle in the air; nearer and nearer, faster and louder, louder and faster, a cannon ball, as if it had not finished saying what was necessary, thudded into the ground near the shed with super human force, throwing up a mass of earth. The ground seemed to groan at the terrible impact. And immediately Tushin, with a short pipe in the corner of his mouth and his kind, intelligent face rather pale, rushed out of the shed followed by the owner of the manly voice, a dashing infantry officer who hurried off to his company, buttoning up his coat as he ran. CHAPTER XVII Mounting his horse again Prince Andrew lingered with the battery, looking at the puff from the gun that had sent the ball. His eyes ran rapidly over the wide space, but he only saw that the hitherto motionless masses of the French now swayed and that there really was a battery to their left. The smoke above it had not yet dispersed. Two mounted Frenchmen, probably adjutants, were galloping up the hill. A small but distinctly visible enemy column was moving down the hill, probably to strengthen the front line. The smoke of the first shot had not yet dispersed before another puff appeared, followed by a report. The battle had begun! Prince Andrew turned his horse and galloped back to Grunth to find Prince Bagration. He heard the cannonade behind him growing louder and more frequent. Evidently our guns had begun to reply. From the bottom of the slope, where the parleys had taken place, came the report of musketry. Lemarrois had just arrived at a gallop with Bonapartes stern letter, and Murat, humiliated and anxious to expiate his fault, had at once moved his forces to attack the center and outflank both the Russian wings, hoping before evening and before the arrival of the Emperor to crush the contemptible detachment that stood before him. "It has begun. Here it is!" thought Prince Andrew, feeling the blood rush to his heart. "But where and how will my Toulon present itself?" Passing between the companies that had been eating porridge and drinking vodka a quarter of an hour before, he saw everywhere the same rapid movement of soldiers forming ranks and getting their muskets ready, and on all their faces he recognized the same eagerness that filled his heart. "It has begun! Here it is, dreadful but enjoyable!" was what the face of each soldier and each officer seemed to say. Before he had reached the embankments that were being thrown up, he saw, in the light of the dull autumn evening, mounted men coming toward him. The foremost, wearing a Cossack cloak and lambskin cap and riding a white horse, was Prince Bagration. Prince Andrew stopped, waiting for him to come up; Prince Bagration reined in his horse and recognizing Prince Andrew nodded to him. He still looked ahead while Prince Andrew told him what he had seen. The feeling, "It has begun!

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