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War And Peace 99


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to the French lines the more confident was the appearance of our troops. The soldiers in their greatcoats were ranged in lines, the sergeants major and company officers were counting the men, poking the last man in each section in the ribs and telling him to hold his hand up. Soldiers scattered over the whole place were dragging logs and brushwood and were building shelters with merry chatter and laughter; around the fires sat others, dressed and undressed, drying their shirts and leg bands or mending boots or overcoats and crowding round the boilers and porridge cookers. In one company dinner was ready, and the soldiers were gazing eagerly at the steaming boiler, waiting till the sample, which a quartermaster sergeant was carrying in a wooden bowl to an officer who sat on a log before his shelter, had been tasted. Another company, a lucky one for not all the companies had vodka, crowded round a pockmarked, broad-shouldered sergeant major who, tilting a keg, filled one after another the canteen lids held out to him. The soldiers lifted the canteen lids to their lips with reverential faces, emptied them, rolling the vodka in their mouths, and walked away from the sergeant major with brightened expressions, licking their lips and wiping them on the sleeves of their greatcoats. All their faces were as serene as if all this were happening at home awaiting peaceful encampment, and not within sight of the enemy before an action in which at least half of them would be left on the field. After passing a chasseur regiment and in the lines of the Kiev grenadiers--fine fellows busy with similar peaceful affairs--near the shelter of the regimental commander, higher than and different from the others, Prince Andrew came out in front of a platoon of grenadiers before whom lay a naked man. Two soldiers held him while two others were flourishing their switches and striking him regularly on his bare back. The man shrieked unnaturally. A stout major was pacing up and down the line, and regardless of the screams kept repeating: "Its a shame for a soldier to steal; a soldier must be honest, honorable, and brave, but if he robs his fellows there is no honor in him, hes a scoundrel. Go on! Go on!" So the swishing sound of the strokes, and the desperate but unnatural screams, continued. "Go on, go on!" said the major. A young officer with a bewildered and pained expression on his face stepped away from the man and looked round inquiringly at the adjutant as he rode by. Prince Andrew, having reached the front line, rode along it. Our front line and that of the enemy were far apart on the right and left flanks, but in the center where the men with a flag of truce had passed that morning, the lines were so near together that the men could see one anothers faces and speak to one another. Besides the soldiers who formed the picket line on either side, there were many curious onlookers who, jesting and laughing, stared at their strange foreign enemies. Since early morning--despite an injunction not to approach the picket line--the officers had been unable to keep sight-seers away. The soldiers forming the picket line, like showmen exhibiting a curiosity, no longer looked at the French but paid attention to the sight-seers and grew weary waiting to be relieved. Prince Andrew halted to have a look at the French. "Look! Look there!" one soldier was saying to another, pointing to a Russian musketeer who had gone up to the picket line with an officer and was rapidly and excitedly talking to a French grenadier. "Hark to him jabbering! Fine, isnt it? Its all the Frenchy can do to keep up with him. There now, Sidorov!" "Wait a bit and listen. Its fine!" answered Sidorov, who was considered an adept at French. The soldier to whom the laughers referred was Dolokhov. Prince Andrew recognized him and stopped to listen to what he was saying. Dolokhov had come from the left flank where their regiment was stationed, with his captain. "Now then, go on, go on!" incited the officer, bending forward and trying not to lose a word of the speech which was incomprehensible to him. "More, please: more! Whats he saying?" Dolokhov did not answer the captain; he had been drawn into a hot dispute with the French grenadier. They were naturally talking about the campaign. The Frenchman, confusing the Austrians with the Russians, was trying to prove that the Russians had surrendered and had fled all the way from Ulm, while Dolokhov maintained that the Russians

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