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War And Peace 388


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was visible and her sleepy breathing audible. "She really is a dear little thing," said Rostov to Ilyin, who was following him. "A charming woman!" said Ilyin, with all the gravity of a boy of sixteen. Half an hour later the squadron was lined up on the road. The command was heard to "mount" and the soldiers crossed themselves and mounted. Rostov riding in front gave the order "Forward!" and the hussars, with clanking sabers and subdued talk, their horses hoofs splashing in the mud, defiled in fours and moved along the broad road planted with birch trees on each side, following the infantry and a battery that had gone on in front. Tattered, blue-purple clouds, reddening in the east, were scudding before the wind. It was growing lighter and lighter. That curly grass which always grows by country roadsides became clearly visible, still wet with the nights rain; the drooping branches of the birches, also wet, swayed in the wind and flung down bright drops of water to one side. The soldiers faces were more and more clearly visible. Rostov, always closely followed by Ilyin, rode along the side of the road between two rows of birch trees. When campaigning, Rostov allowed himself the indulgence of riding not a regimental but a Cossack horse. A judge of horses and a sportsman, he had lately procured himself a large, fine, mettlesome, Donets horse, dun-colored, with light mane and tail, and when he rode it no one could outgallop him. To ride this horse was a pleasure to him, and he thought of the horse, of the morning, of the doctors wife, but not once of the impending danger. Formerly, when going into action, Rostov had felt afraid; now he had not the least feeling of fear. He was fearless, not because he had grown used to being under fire (one cannot grow used to danger), but because he had learned how to manage his thoughts when in danger. He had grown accustomed when going into action to think about anything but what would seem most likely to interest him--the impending danger. During the first period of his service, hard as he tried and much as he reproached himself with cowardice, he had not been able to do this, but with time it had come of itself. Now he rode beside Ilyin under the birch trees, occasionally plucking leaves from a branch that met his hand, sometimes touching his horses side with his foot, or, without turning round, handing a pipe he had finished to an hussar riding behind him, with as calm and careless an air as though he were merely out for a ride. He glanced with pity at the excited face of Ilyin, who talked much and in great agitation. He knew from experience the tormenting expectation of terror and death the cornet was suffering and knew that only time could help him. As soon as the sun appeared in a clear strip of sky beneath the clouds, the wind fell, as if it dared not spoil the beauty of the summer morning after the storm; drops still continued to fall, but vertically now, and all was still. The whole sun appeared on the horizon and disappeared behind a long narrow cloud that hung above it. A few minutes later it reappeared brighter still from behind the top of the cloud, tearing its edge. Everything grew bright and glittered. And with that light, and as if in reply to it, came the sound of guns ahead of them. Before Rostov had had time to consider and determine the distance of that firing, Count Ostermann-Tolstoys adjutant came galloping from Vitebsk with orders to advance at a trot along the road. The squadron overtook and passed the infantry and the battery--which had also quickened their pace--rode down a hill, and passing through an empty and deserted village again ascended. The horses began to lather and the men to flush. "Halt! Dress your ranks!" the order of the regimental commander was heard ahead. "Forward by the left. Walk, march!" came the order from in front. And the hussars, passing along the line of troops on the left flank of our position, halted behind our Uhlans who were in the front line. To the right stood our infantry in a dense column: they were the reserve. Higher up the hill, on the very horizon, our guns were visible through the wonderfully clear air, brightly illuminated by slanting morning sunbeams. In front, beyond a hollow dale, could be seen the enemys columns and guns. Our advanced line, already in action, could be heard briskly

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