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War And Peace 64


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the condition it was in, the better pleased the commander in chief would be. Though the aide-de-camp did not know these circumstances, he nevertheless delivered the definite order that the men should be in their greatcoats and in marching order, and that the commander in chief would otherwise be dissatisfied. On hearing this the regimental commander hung his head, silently shrugged his shoulders, and spread out his arms with a choleric gesture. "A fine mess weve made of it!" he remarked. "There now! Didnt I tell you, Michael Mitrich, that if it was said on the march it meant in greatcoats?" said he reproachfully to the battalion commander. "Oh, my God!" he added, stepping resolutely forward. "Company commanders!" he shouted in a voice accustomed to command. "Sergeants major!... How soon will he be here?" he asked the aide-de-camp with a respectful politeness evidently relating to the personage he was referring to. "In an hours time, I should say." "Shall we have time to change clothes?" "I dont know, General...." The regimental commander, going up to the line himself, ordered the soldiers to change into their greatcoats. The company commanders ran off to their companies, the sergeants major began bustling (the greatcoats were not in very good condition), and instantly the squares that had up to then been in regular order and silent began to sway and stretch and hum with voices. On all sides soldiers were running to and fro, throwing up their knapsacks with a jerk of their shoulders and pulling the straps over their heads, unstrapping their overcoats and drawing the sleeves on with upraised arms. In half an hour all was again in order, only the squares had become gray instead of black. The regimental commander walked with his jerky steps to the front of the regiment and examined it from a distance. "Whatever is this? This!" he shouted and stood still. "Commander of the third company!" "Commander of the third company wanted by the general!... commander to the general... third company to the commander." The words passed along the lines and an adjutant ran to look for the missing officer. When the eager but misrepeated words had reached their destination in a cry of: "The general to the third company," the missing officer appeared from behind his company and, though he was a middle-aged man and not in the habit of running, trotted awkwardly stumbling on his toes toward the general. The captains face showed the uneasiness of a schoolboy who is told to repeat a lesson he has not learned. Spots appeared on his nose, the redness of which was evidently due to intemperance, and his mouth twitched nervously. The general looked the captain up and down as he came up panting, slackening his pace as he approached. "You will soon be dressing your men in petticoats! What is this?" shouted the regimental commander, thrusting forward his jaw and pointing at a soldier in the ranks of the third company in a greatcoat of bluish cloth, which contrasted with the others. "What have you been after? The commander in chief is expected and you leave your place? Eh? Ill teach you to dress the men in fancy coats for a parade.... Eh...?" The commander of the company, with his eyes fixed on his superior, pressed two fingers more and more rigidly to his cap, as if in this pressure lay his only hope of salvation. "Well, why dont you speak? Whom have you got there dressed up as a Hungarian?" said the commander with an austere gibe. "Your excellency..." "Well, your excellency, what? Your excellency! But what about your excellency?... nobody knows." "Your excellency, its the officer Dolokhov, who has been reduced to the ranks," said the captain softly. "Well? Has he been degraded into a field marshal, or into a soldier? If a soldier, he should be dressed in regulation uniform like the others." "Your excellency, you gave him leave yourself, on the march." "Gave him leave? Leave? Thats just like you young men," said the regimental commander cooling down a little. "Leave indeed.... One says a word to you and you... What?" he added with renewed irritation, "I beg you to dress your men decently." And the commander, turning to look at the adjutant, directed his jerky steps down the line. He was evidently pleased at his own display of anger and walking up to the regiment wished to find a further excuse for wrath. Having snapped at an officer for an unpolished badge, at another because his line was not straight, he reached the third company. "H-o-o-w are you standing? Wheres your leg? Your leg?" shouted the commander with a tone

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