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War And Peace 84

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knowing what to do. There was no one to hew down (as he had always imagined battles to himself), nor could he help to fire the bridge because he had not brought any burning straw with him like the other soldiers. He stood looking about him, when suddenly he heard a rattle on the bridge as if nuts were being spilt, and the hussar nearest to him fell against the rails with a groan. Rostov ran up to him with the others. Again someone shouted, "Stretchers!" Four men seized the hussar and began lifting him. "Oooh! For Christs sake let me alone!" cried the wounded man, but still he was lifted and laid on the stretcher. Nicholas Rostov turned away and, as if searching for something, gazed into the distance, at the waters of the Danube, at the sky, and at the sun. How beautiful the sky looked; how blue, how calm, and how deep! How bright and glorious was the setting sun! With what soft glitter the waters of the distant Danube shone. And fairer still were the faraway blue mountains beyond the river, the nunnery, the mysterious gorges, and the pine forests veiled in the mist of their summits... There was peace and happiness... "I should wish for nothing else, nothing, if only I were there," thought Rostov. "In myself alone and in that sunshine there is so much happiness; but here... groans, suffering, fear, and this uncertainty and hurry... There--they are shouting again, and again are all running back somewhere, and I shall run with them, and it, death, is here above me and around... Another instant and I shall never again see the sun, this water, that gorge!..." At that instant the sun began to hide behind the clouds, and other stretchers came into view before Rostov. And the fear of death and of the stretchers, and love of the sun and of life, all merged into one feeling of sickening agitation. "O Lord God! Thou who art in that heaven, save, forgive, and protect me!" Rostov whispered. The hussars ran back to the men who held their horses; their voices sounded louder and calmer, the stretchers disappeared from sight. "Well, fwiend? So youve smelt powdah!" shouted Vaska Denisov just above his ear. "Its all over; but I am a coward--yes, a coward!" thought Rostov, and sighing deeply he took Rook, his horse, which stood resting one foot, from the orderly and began to mount. "Was that grapeshot?" he asked Denisov. "Yes and no mistake!" cried Denisov. "You worked like wegular bwicks and its nasty work! An attacks pleasant work! Hacking away at the dogs! But this sort of thing is the very devil, with them shooting at you like a target." And Denisov rode up to a group that had stopped near Rostov, composed of the colonel, Nesvitski, Zherkov, and the officer from the suite. "Well, it seems that no one has noticed," thought Rostov. And this was true. No one had taken any notice, for everyone knew the sensation which the cadet under fire for the first time had experienced. "Heres something for you to report," said Zherkov. "See if I dont get promoted to a sublieutenancy." "Inform the prince that I the bridge fired!" said the colonel triumphantly and gaily. "And if he asks about the losses?" "A trifle," said the colonel in his bass voice: "two hussars wounded, and one knocked out," he added, unable to restrain a happy smile, and pronouncing the phrase "knocked out" with ringing distinctness. CHAPTER IX Pursued by the French army of a hundred thousand men under the command of Bonaparte, encountering a population that was unfriendly to it, losing confidence in its allies, suffering from shortness of supplies, and compelled to act under conditions of war unlike anything that had been foreseen, the Russian army of thirty-five thousand men commanded by Kutuzov was hurriedly retreating along the Danube, stopping where overtaken by the enemy and fighting rearguard actions only as far as necessary to enable it to retreat without losing its heavy equipment. There had been actions at Lambach, Amstetten, and Melk; but despite the courage and endurance--acknowledged even by the enemy--with which the Russians fought, the only consequence of these actions was a yet more rapid retreat. Austrian troops that had escaped capture at Ulm and had joined Kutuzov at Braunau now separated from the Russian army, and Kutuzov was left with only his own weak and exhausted forces. The defense of Vienna was no longer to be thought of. Instead of an offensive, the plan of which, carefully prepared in accord with the modern science of strategics, had been handed

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