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War And Peace 477

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War And Peace

approached. "Not this way! To the infantry!" added another with loud laughter, seeing the shell fly past and fall into the ranks of the supports. "Are you bowing to a friend, eh?" remarked another, chaffing a peasant who ducked low as a cannon ball flew over. Several soldiers gathered by the wall of the trench, looking out to see what was happening in front. "Theyve withdrawn the front line, it has retired," said they, pointing over the earthwork. "Mind your own business," an old sergeant shouted at them. "If theyve retired its because theres work for them to do farther back." And the sergeant, taking one of the men by the shoulders, gave him a shove with his knee. This was followed by a burst of laughter. "To the fifth gun, wheel it up!" came shouts from one side. "Now then, all together, like bargees!" rose the merry voices of those who were moving the gun. "Oh, she nearly knocked our gentlemans hat off!" cried the red-faced humorist, showing his teeth chaffing Pierre. "Awkward baggage!" he added reproachfully to a cannon ball that struck a cannon wheel and a mans leg. "Now then, you foxes!" said another, laughing at some militiamen who, stooping low, entered the battery to carry away the wounded man. "So this gruel isnt to your taste? Oh, you crows! Youre scared!" they shouted at the militiamen who stood hesitating before the man whose leg had been torn off. "There, lads... oh, oh!" they mimicked the peasants, "they dont like it at all!" Pierre noticed that after every ball that hit the redoubt, and after every loss, the liveliness increased more and more. As the flames of the fire hidden within come more and more vividly and rapidly from an approaching thundercloud, so, as if in opposition to what was taking place, the lightning of hidden fire growing more and more intense glowed in the faces of these men. Pierre did not look out at the battlefield and was not concerned to know what was happening there; he was entirely absorbed in watching this fire which burned ever more brightly and which he felt was flaming up in the same way in his own soul. At ten oclock the infantry that had been among the bushes in front of the battery and along the Kamenka streamlet retreated. From the battery they could be seen running back past it carrying their wounded on their muskets. A general with his suite came to the battery, and after speaking to the colonel gave Pierre an angry look and went away again having ordered the infantry supports behind the battery to lie down, so as to be less exposed to fire. After this from amid the ranks of infantry to the right of the battery came the sound of a drum and shouts of command, and from the battery one saw how those ranks of infantry moved forward. Pierre looked over the wall of the trench and was particularly struck by a pale young officer who, letting his sword hang down, was walking backwards and kept glancing uneasily around. The ranks of the infantry disappeared amid the smoke but their long-drawn shout and rapid musketry firing could still be heard. A few minutes later crowds of wounded men and stretcher-bearers came back from that direction. Projectiles began to fall still more frequently in the battery. Several men were lying about who had not been removed. Around the cannon the men moved still more briskly and busily. No one any longer took notice of Pierre. Once or twice he was shouted at for being in the way. The senior officer moved with big, rapid strides from one gun to another with a frowning face. The young officer, with his face still more flushed, commanded the men more scrupulously than ever. The soldiers handed up the charges, turned, loaded, and did their business with strained smartness. They gave little jumps as they walked, as though they were on springs. The stormcloud had come upon them, and in every face the fire which Pierre had watched kindle burned up brightly. Pierre standing beside the commanding officer. The young officer, his hand to his shako, ran up to his superior. "I have the honor to report, sir, that only eight rounds are left. Are we to continue firing?" he asked. "Grapeshot!" the senior shouted, without answering the question, looking over the wall of the trench. Suddenly something happened: the young officer gave a gasp and bending double sat down on the ground like a bird shot on the wing. Everything became strange, confused, and misty in Pierres eyes. One cannon

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