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War And Peace 474

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War And Peace

and there the roofs of huts in Borodino as well as dense masses of soldiers, or green ammunition chests and ordnance. And all this moved, or seemed to move, as the smoke and mist spread out over the whole space. Just as in the mist-enveloped hollow near Borodino, so along the entire line outside and above it and especially in the woods and fields to the left, in the valleys and on the summits of the high ground, clouds of powder smoke seemed continually to spring up out of nothing, now singly, now several at a time, some translucent, others dense, which, swelling, growing, rolling, and blending, extended over the whole expanse. These puffs of smoke and (strange to say) the sound of the firing produced the chief beauty of the spectacle. "Puff!"--suddenly a round compact cloud of smoke was seen merging from violet into gray and milky white, and "boom!" came the report a second later. "Puff! puff!"--and two clouds arose pushing one another and blending together; and "boom, boom!" came the sounds confirming what the eye had seen. Pierre glanced round at the first cloud, which he had seen as a round compact ball, and in its place already were balloons of smoke floating to one side, and--"puff" (with a pause)--"puff, puff!" three and then four more appeared and then from each, with the same interval--"boom--boom, boom!" came the fine, firm, precise sounds in reply. It seemed as if those smoke clouds sometimes ran and sometimes stood still while woods, fields, and glittering bayonets ran past them. From the left, over fields and bushes, those large balls of smoke were continually appearing followed by their solemn reports, while nearer still, in the hollows and woods, there burst from the muskets small cloudlets that had no time to become balls, but had their little echoes in just the same way. "Trakh-ta-ta-takh!" came the frequent crackle of musketry, but it was irregular and feeble in comparison with the reports of the cannon. Pierre wished to be there with that smoke, those shining bayonets, that movement, and those sounds. He turned to look at Kutuzov and his suite, to compare his impressions with those of others. They were all looking at the field of battle as he was, and, as it seemed to him, with the same feelings. All their faces were now shining with that latent warmth of feeling Pierre had noticed the day before and had fully understood after his talk with Prince Andrew. "Go, my dear fellow, go... and Christ be with you!" Kutuzov was saying to a general who stood beside him, not taking his eye from the battlefield. Having received this order the general passed by Pierre on his way down the knoll. "To the crossing!" said the general coldly and sternly in reply to one of the staff who asked where he was going. "Ill go there too, I too!" thought Pierre, and followed the general. The general mounted a horse a Cossack had brought him. Pierre went to his groom who was holding his horses and, asking which was the quietest, clambered onto it, seized it by the mane, and turning out his toes pressed his heels against its sides and, feeling that his spectacles were slipping off but unable to let go of the mane and reins, he galloped after the general, causing the staff officers to smile as they watched him from the knoll. CHAPTER XXXI Having descended the hill the general after whom Pierre was galloping turned sharply to the left, and Pierre, losing sight of him, galloped in among some ranks of infantry marching ahead of him. He tried to pass either in front of them or to the right or left, but there were soldiers everywhere, all with the same preoccupied expression and busy with some unseen but evidently important task. They all gazed with the same dissatisfied and inquiring expression at this stout man in a white hat, who for some unknown reason threatened to trample them under his horses hoofs. "Why ride into the middle of the battalion?" one of them shouted at him. Another prodded his horse with the butt end of a musket, and Pierre, bending over his saddlebow and hardly able to control his shying horse, galloped ahead of the soldiers where there was a free space. There was a bridge ahead of him, where other soldiers stood firing. Pierre rode up to them. Without being aware of it he had come to the bridge across the Kolocha between Gorki and Borodino, which the French (having occupied Borodino) were attacking in the first phase of the battle. Pierre saw

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