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War And Peace 456


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how come you to be here?" asked the doctor. "Well, you know, I wanted to see..." "Yes, yes, there will be something to see...." Pierre got out and talked to the doctor, explaining his intention of taking part in a battle. The doctor advised him to apply direct to Kutuzov. "Why should you be God knows where out of sight, during the battle?" he said, exchanging glances with his young companion. "Anyhow his Serene Highness knows you and will receive you graciously. Thats what you must do." The doctor seemed tired and in a hurry. "You think so?... Ah, I also wanted to ask you where our position is exactly?" said Pierre. "The position?" repeated the doctor. "Well, thats not my line. Drive past Tatarinova, a lot of digging is going on there. Go up the hillock and youll see." "Can one see from there?... If you would..." But the doctor interrupted him and moved toward his gig. "I would go with you but on my honor Im up to here"--and he pointed to his throat. "Im galloping to the commander of the corps. How do matters stand?... You know, Count, therell be a battle tomorrow. Out of an army of a hundred thousand we must expect at least twenty thousand wounded, and we havent stretchers, or bunks, or dressers, or doctors enough for six thousand. We have ten thousand carts, but we need other things as well--we must manage as best we can!" The strange thought that of the thousands of men, young and old, who had stared with merry surprise at his hat (perhaps the very men he had noticed), twenty thousand were inevitably doomed to wounds and death amazed Pierre. "They may die tomorrow; why are they thinking of anything but death?" And by some latent sequence of thought the descent of the Mozhaysk hill, the carts with the wounded, the ringing bells, the slanting rays of the sun, and the songs of the cavalrymen vividly recurred to his mind. "The cavalry ride to battle and meet the wounded and do not for a moment think of what awaits them, but pass by, winking at the wounded. Yet from among these men twenty thousand are doomed to die, and they wonder at my hat! Strange!" thought Pierre, continuing his way to Tatarinova. In front of a landowners house to the left of the road stood carriages, wagons, and crowds of orderlies and sentinels. The commander in chief was putting up there, but just when Pierre arrived he was not in and hardly any of the staff were there--they had gone to the church service. Pierre drove on toward Gorki. When he had ascended the hill and reached the little village street, he saw for the first time peasant militiamen in their white shirts and with crosses on their caps, who, talking and laughing loudly, animated and perspiring, were at work on a huge knoll overgrown with grass to the right of the road. Some of them were digging, others were wheeling barrowloads of earth along planks, while others stood about doing nothing. Two officers were standing on the knoll, directing the men. On seeing these peasants, who were evidently still amused by the novelty of their position as soldiers, Pierre once more thought of the wounded men at Mozhaysk and understood what the soldier had meant when he said: "They want the whole nation to fall on them." The sight of these bearded peasants at work on the battlefield, with their queer, clumsy boots and perspiring necks, and their shirts opening from the left toward the middle, unfastened, exposing their sunburned collarbones, impressed Pierre more strongly with the solemnity and importance of the moment than anything he had yet seen or heard. CHAPTER XXI Pierre stepped out of his carriage and, passing the toiling militiamen, ascended the knoll from which, according to the doctor, the battlefield could be seen. It was about eleven oclock. The sun shone somewhat to the left and behind him and brightly lit up the enormous panorama which, rising like an amphitheater, extended before him in the clear rarefied atmosphere. From above on the left, bisecting that amphitheater, wound the Smolensk highroad, passing through a village with a white church some five hundred paces in front of the knoll and below it. This was Borodino. Below the village the road crossed the river by a bridge and, winding down and up, rose higher and higher to the village of Valuevo visible about four miles away, where Napoleon was then stationed. Beyond Valuevo the road disappeared into a yellowing forest on the horizon. Far in the distance in that birch

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