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War And Peace 390


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he had righted himself in his saddle he saw that he would immediately overtake the enemy he had selected. That Frenchman, by his uniform an officer, was going at a gallop, crouching on his gray horse and urging it on with his saber. In another moment Rostovs horse dashed its breast against the hindquarters of the officers horse, almost knocking it over, and at the same instant Rostov, without knowing why, raised his saber and struck the Frenchman with it. The instant he had done this, all Rostovs animation vanished. The officer fell, not so much from the blow--which had but slightly cut his arm above the elbow--as from the shock to his horse and from fright. Rostov reined in his horse, and his eyes sought his foe to see whom he had vanquished. The French dragoon officer was hopping with one foot on the ground, the other being caught in the stirrup. His eyes, screwed up with fear as if he every moment expected another blow, gazed up at Rostov with shrinking terror. His pale and mud-stained face--fair and young, with a dimple in the chin and light-blue eyes--was not an enemys face at all suited to a battlefield, but a most ordinary, homelike face. Before Rostov had decided what to do with him, the officer cried, "I surrender!" He hurriedly but vainly tried to get his foot out of the stirrup and did not remove his frightened blue eyes from Rostovs face. Some hussars who galloped up disengaged his foot and helped him into the saddle. On all sides, the hussars were busy with the dragoons; one was wounded, but though his face was bleeding, he would not give up his horse; another was perched up behind an hussar with his arms round him; a third was being helped by an hussar to mount his horse. In front, the French infantry were firing as they ran. The hussars galloped hastily back with their prisoners. Rostov galloped back with the rest, aware of an unpleasant feeling of depression in his heart. Something vague and confused, which he could not at all account for, had come over him with the capture of that officer and the blow he had dealt him. Count Ostermann-Tolstoy met the returning hussars, sent for Rostov, thanked him, and said he would report his gallant deed to the Emperor and would recommend him for a St. Georges Cross. When sent for by Count Ostermann, Rostov, remembering that he had charged without orders, felt sure his commander was sending for him to punish him for breach of discipline. Ostermanns flattering words and promise of a reward should therefore have struck him all the more pleasantly, but he still felt that same vaguely disagreeable feeling of moral nausea. "But what on earth is worrying me?" he asked himself as he rode back from the general. "Ilyin? No, hes safe. Have I disgraced myself in any way? No, thats not it." Something else, resembling remorse, tormented him. "Yes, oh yes, that French officer with the dimple. And I remember how my arm paused when I raised it." Rostov saw the prisoners being led away and galloped after them to have a look at his Frenchman with the dimple on his chin. He was sitting in his foreign uniform on an hussar packhorse and looked anxiously about him; The sword cut on his arm could scarcely be called a wound. He glanced at Rostov with a feigned smile and waved his hand in greeting. Rostov still had the same indefinite feeling, as of shame. All that day and the next his friends and comrades noticed that Rostov, without being dull or angry, was silent, thoughtful, and preoccupied. He drank reluctantly, tried to remain alone, and kept turning something over in his mind. Rostov was always thinking about that brilliant exploit of his, which to his amazement had gained him the St. Georges Cross and even given him a reputation for bravery, and there was something he could not at all understand. "So others are even more afraid than I am!" he thought. "So thats all there is in what is called heroism! And did I do it for my countrys sake? And how was he to blame, with his dimple and blue eyes? And how frightened he was! He thought that I should kill him. Why should I kill him? My hand trembled. And they have given me a St. Georges Cross.... I cant make it out at all." But while Nicholas was considering these questions and still could reach no clear solution of what puzzled him so,

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