Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
quarters for the staff officers, carrying out the French corpses
that were in the huts, and dragging away boards, dry wood, and
thatch from the roofs, for the campfires, or wattle fences to serve
Some fifteen men with merry shouts were shaking down the high wattle
wall of a shed, the roof of which had already been removed.
"Now then, all together--shove!" cried the voices, and the huge
surface of the wall, sprinkled with snow and creaking with frost,
was seen swaying in the gloom of the night. The lower stakes cracked
more and more and at last the wall fell, and with it the men who had
been pushing it. Loud, coarse laughter and joyous shouts ensued.
"Now then, catch hold in twos! Hand up the lever! Thats it... Where
are you shoving to?"
"Now, all together! But wait a moment, boys... With a song!"
All stood silent, and a soft, pleasant velvety voice began to
sing. At the end of the third verse as the last note died away, twenty
voices roared out at once: "Oo-oo-oo-oo! Thats it. All together!
Heave away, boys!..." but despite their united efforts the wattle
hardly moved, and in the silence that followed the heavy breathing
of the men was audible.
"Here, you of the Sixth Company! Devils that you are! Lend a hand...
will you? You may want us one of these days."
Some twenty men of the Sixth Company who were on their way into
the village joined the haulers, and the wattle wall, which was about
thirty-five feet long and seven feet high, moved forward along the
village street, swaying, pressing upon and cutting the shoulders of
the gasping men.
"Get along... Falling? What are you stopping for? There now..."
Merry senseless words of abuse flowed freely.
"What are you up to?" suddenly came the authoritative voice of a
sergeant major who came upon the men who were hauling their burden.
"There are gentry here; the general himself is in that hut, and you
foul-mouthed devils, you brutes, Ill give it to you!" shouted he,
hitting the first man who came in his way a swinging blow on the back.
"Cant you make less noise?"
The men became silent. The soldier who had been struck groaned and
wiped his face, which had been scratched till it bled by his falling
against the wattle.
"There, how that devil hits out! Hes made my face all bloody," said
he in a frightened whisper when the sergeant major had passed on.
"Dont you like it?" said a laughing voice, and moderating their
tones the men moved forward.
When they were out of the village they began talking again as loud
as before, interlarding their talk with the same aimless expletives.
In the hut which the men had passed, the chief officers had gathered
and were in animated talk over their tea about the events of the day
and the maneuvers suggested for tomorrow. It was proposed to make a
flank march to the left, cut off the Vice-King (Murat) and capture
By the time the soldiers had dragged the wattle fence to its place
the campfires were blazing on all sides ready for cooking, the wood
crackled, the snow was melting, and black shadows of soldiers
flitted to and fro all over the occupied space where the snow had been
Axes and choppers were plied all around. Everything was done without
any orders being given. Stores of wood were brought for the night,
shelters were rigged up for the officers, caldrons were being
boiled, and muskets and accouterments put in order.
The wattle wall the men had brought was set up in a semicircle by
the Eighth Company as a shelter from the north, propped up by musket
rests, and a campfire was built before it. They beat the tattoo,
called the roll, had supper, and settled down round the fires for
the night--some repairing their footgear, some smoking pipes, and some
stripping themselves naked to steam the lice out of their shirts.
One would have thought that under the almost incredibly wretched
conditions the Russian soldiers were in at that time--lacking warm
boots and sheepskin coats, without a roof over their heads, in the
snow with eighteen degrees of frost, and without even full rations
(the commissariat did not always keep up with the troops)--they
would have presented a very sad and depressing spectacle.
On the contrary, the army had never under the best material
conditions presented a more cheerful and animated aspect. This was
because all who began to grow depressed or who lost strength were
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