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War And Peace 82


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did not lift his eyes from the colonels athletic back, his nape covered with light hair, and his red neck. It seemed to Rostov that Bogdanich was only pretending not to notice him, and that his whole aim now was to test the cadets courage, so he drew himself up and looked around him merrily; then it seemed to him that Bogdanich rode so near in order to show him his courage. Next he thought that his enemy would send the squadron on a desperate attack just to punish him--Rostov. Then he imagined how, after the attack, Bogdanich would come up to him as he lay wounded and would magnanimously extend the hand of reconciliation. The high-shouldered figure of Zherkov, familiar to the Pavlograds as he had but recently left their regiment, rode up to the colonel. After his dismissal from headquarters Zherkov had not remained in the regiment, saying he was not such a fool as to slave at the front when he could get more rewards by doing nothing on the staff, and had succeeded in attaching himself as an orderly officer to Prince Bagration. He now came to his former chief with an order from the commander of the rear guard. "Colonel," he said, addressing Rostovs enemy with an air of gloomy gravity and glancing round at his comrades, "there is an order to stop and fire the bridge." "An order to who?" asked the colonel morosely. "I dont myself know to who," replied the cornet in a serious tone, "but the prince told me to go and tell the colonel that the hussars must return quickly and fire the bridge." Zherkov was followed by an officer of the suite who rode up to the colonel of hussars with the same order. After him the stout Nesvitski came galloping up on a Cossack horse that could scarcely carry his weight. "Hows this, Colonel?" he shouted as he approached. "I told you to fire the bridge, and now someone has gone and blundered; they are all beside themselves over there and one cant make anything out." The colonel deliberately stopped the regiment and turned to Nesvitski. "You spoke to me of inflammable material," said he, "but you said nothing about firing it." "But, my dear sir," said Nesvitski as he drew up, taking off his cap and smoothing his hair wet with perspiration with his plump hand, "wasnt I telling you to fire the bridge, when inflammable material had been put in position?" "I am not your dear sir, Mr. Staff Officer, and you did not tell me to burn the bridge! I know the service, and it is my habit orders strictly to obey. You said the bridge would be burned, but who would it burn, I could not know by the holy spirit!" "Ah, thats always the way!" said Nesvitski with a wave of the hand. "How did you get here?" said he, turning to Zherkov. "On the same business. But you are damp! Let me wring you out!" "You were saying, Mr. Staff Officer..." continued the colonel in an offended tone. "Colonel," interrupted the officer of the suite, "You must be quick or the enemy will bring up his guns to use grapeshot." The colonel looked silently at the officer of the suite, at the stout staff officer, and at Zherkov, and he frowned. "I will the bridge fire," he said in a solemn tone as if to announce that in spite of all the unpleasantness he had to endure he would still do the right thing. Striking his horse with his long muscular legs as if it were to blame for everything, the colonel moved forward and ordered the second squadron, that in which Rostov was serving under Denisov, to return to the bridge. "There, its just as I thought," said Rostov to himself. "He wishes to test me!" His heart contracted and the blood rushed to his face. "Let him see whether I am a coward!" he thought. Again on all the bright faces of the squadron the serious expression appeared that they had worn when under fire. Rostov watched his enemy, the colonel, closely--to find in his face confirmation of his own conjecture, but the colonel did not once glance at Rostov, and looked as he always did when at the front, solemn and stern. Then came the word of command. "Look sharp! Look sharp!" several voices repeated around him. Their sabers catching in the bridles and their spurs jingling, the hussars hastily dismounted, not knowing what they were to do. The men were crossing themselves. Rostov no longer looked at the colonel, he had no

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