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War And Peace 362

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War And Peace

him, and when they caught sight of a figure in an overcoat and a cocked hat standing apart from his suite in front of his tent on the hill, they threw up their caps and shouted: "Vive lEmpereur!" and one after another poured in a ceaseless stream out of the vast forest that had concealed them and, separating, flowed on and on by the three bridges to the other side. "Now well go into action. Oh, when he takes it in hand himself, things get hot... by heaven!... There he is!... Vive lEmpereur! So these are the steppes of Asia! Its a nasty country all the same. Au revoir, Beauche; Ill keep the best palace in Moscow for you! Au revoir. Good luck!... Did you see the Emperor? Vive lEmpereur!... preur!--If they make me Governor of India, Gerard, Ill make you Minister of Kashmir--thats settled. Vive lEmpereur! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! The Cossacks--those rascals--see how they run! Vive lEmpereur! There he is, do you see him? Ive seen him twice, as I see you now. The little corporal... I saw him give the cross to one of the veterans.... Vive lEmpereur!" came the voices of men, old and young, of most diverse characters and social positions. On the faces of all was one common expression of joy at the commencement of the long-expected campaign and of rapture and devotion to the man in the gray coat who was standing on the hill. On the thirteenth of June a rather small, thoroughbred Arab horse was brought to Napoleon. He mounted it and rode at a gallop to one of the bridges over the Niemen, deafened continually by incessant and rapturous acclamations which he evidently endured only because it was impossible to forbid the soldiers to express their love of him by such shouting, but the shouting which accompanied him everywhere disturbed him and distracted him from the military cares that had occupied him from the time he joined the army. He rode across one of the swaying pontoon bridges to the farther side, turned sharply to the left, and galloped in the direction of Kovno, preceded by enraptured, mounted chasseurs of the Guard who, breathless with delight, galloped ahead to clear a path for him through the troops. On reaching the broad river Viliya, he stopped near a regiment of Polish Uhlans stationed by the river. "Vivat!" shouted the Poles, ecstatically, breaking their ranks and pressing against one another to see him. Napoleon looked up and down the river, dismounted, and sat down on a log that lay on the bank. At a mute sign from him, a telescope was handed him which he rested on the back of a happy page who had run up to him, and he gazed at the opposite bank. Then he became absorbed in a map laid out on the logs. Without lifting his head he said something, and two of his aides-de-camp galloped off to the Polish Uhlans. "What? What did he say?" was heard in the ranks of the Polish Uhlans when one of the aides-de-camp rode up to them. The order was to find a ford and to cross the river. The colonel of the Polish Uhlans, a handsome old man, flushed and, fumbling in his speech from excitement, asked the aide-de-camp whether he would be permitted to swim the river with his Uhlans instead of seeking a ford. In evident fear of refusal, like a boy asking for permission to get on a horse, he begged to be allowed to swim across the river before the Emperors eyes. The aide-de-camp replied that probably the Emperor would not be displeased at this excess of zeal. As soon as the aide-de-camp had said this, the old mustached officer, with happy face and sparkling eyes, raised his saber, shouted "Vivat!" and, commanding the Uhlans to follow him, spurred his horse and galloped into the river. He gave an angry thrust to his horse, which had grown restive under him, and plunged into the water, heading for the deepest part where the current was swift. Hundreds of Uhlans galloped in after him. It was cold and uncanny in the rapid current in the middle of the stream, and the Uhlans caught hold of one another as they fell off their horses. Some of the horses were drowned and some of the men; the others tried to swim on, some in the saddle and some clinging to their horses manes. They tried to make their way forward to the opposite bank and, though there was a ford one third of a mile away,

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