Rostov, with his keen sportsman's eye, was one of the first to catch sight o_hese blue French dragoons pursuing our Uhlans. Nearer and nearer i_isorderly crowds came the Uhlans and the French dragoons pursuing them. H_ould already see how these men, who looked so small at the foot of the hill,
jostled and overtook one another, waving their arms and their sabers in th_ir.
Rostov gazed at what was happening before him as at a hunt. He fel_nstinctively that if the hussars struck at the French dragoons now, th_atter could not withstand them, but if a charge was to be made it must b_one now, at that very moment, or it would be too late. He looked around. _aptain, standing beside him, was gazing like himself with eyes fixed on th_avalry below them.
"Andrew Sevastyanych!" said Rostov. "You know, we could crush them… ."
"A fine thing too!" replied the captain, "and really… "
Rostov, without waiting to hear him out, touched his horse, galloped to th_ront of his squadron, and before he had time to finish giving the word o_ommand, the whole squadron, sharing his feeling, was following him. Rosto_imself did not know how or why he did it. He acted as he did when hunting,
without reflecting or considering. He saw the dragoons near and that they wer_alloping in disorder; he knew they could not withstand an attack—knew ther_as only that moment and that if he let it slip it would not return. Th_ullets were whining and whistling so stimulatingly around him and his hors_as so eager to go that he could not restrain himself. He touched his horse,
gave the word of command, and immediately, hearing behind him the tramp of th_orses of his deployed squadron, rode at full trot downhill toward th_ragoons. Hardly had they reached the bottom of the hill before their pac_nstinctively changed to a gallop, which grew faster and faster as they dre_earer to our Uhlans and the French dragoons who galloped after them. Th_ragoons were now close at hand. On seeing the hussars, the foremost began t_urn, while those behind began to halt. With the same feeling with which h_ad galloped across the path of a wolf, Rostov gave rein to his Donets hors_nd galloped to intersect the path of the dragoons' disordered lines. On_hlan stopped, another who was on foot flung himself to the ground to avoi_eing knocked over, and a riderless horse fell in among the hussars. Nearl_ll the French dragoons were galloping back. Rostov, picking out one on a gra_orse, dashed after him. On the way he came upon a bush, his gallant hors_leared it, and almost before he had righted himself in his saddle he saw tha_e would immediately overtake the enemy he had selected. That Frenchman, b_is uniform an officer, was going at a gallop, crouching on his gray horse an_rging it on with his saber. In another moment Rostov's horse dashed it_reast against the hindquarters of the officer's horse, almost knocking i_ver, and at the same instant Rostov, without knowing why, raised his sabe_nd struck the Frenchman with it.
The instant he had done this, all Rostov's animation vanished. The office_ell, not so much from the blow—which had but slightly cut his arm above th_lbow—as from the shock to his horse and from fright. Rostov reined in hi_orse, and his eyes sought his foe to see whom he had vanquished. The Frenc_ragoon officer was hopping with one foot on the ground, the other bein_aught in the stirrup. His eyes, screwed up with fear as if he every momen_xpected another blow, gazed up at Rostov with shrinking terror. His pale an_ud-stained face—fair and young, with a dimple in the chin and light-blu_yes—was not an enemy's face at all suited to a battlefield, but a mos_rdinary, homelike face. Before Rostov had decided what to do with him, th_fficer cried, "I surrender!" He hurriedly but vainly tried to get his foo_ut of the stirrup and did not remove his frightened blue eyes from Rostov'_ace. Some hussars who galloped up disengaged his foot and helped him into th_addle. On all sides, the hussars were busy with the dragoons; one wa_ounded, but though his face was bleeding, he would not give up his horse;
another was perched up behind an hussar with his arms round him; a third wa_eing helped by an hussar to mount his horse. In front, the French infantr_ere firing as they ran. The hussars galloped hastily back with thei_risoners. Rostov galloped back with the rest, aware of an unpleasant feelin_f depression in his heart. Something vague and confused, which he could no_t all account for, had come over him with the capture of that officer and th_low he had dealt him.
Count Ostermann-Tolstoy met the returning hussars, sent for Rostov, thanke_im, and said he would report his gallant deed to the Emperor and woul_ecommend him for a St. George's Cross. When sent for by Count Ostermann,
Rostov, remembering that he had charged without orders, felt sure hi_ommander was sending for him to punish him for breach of discipline.
Ostermann's flattering words and promise of a reward should therefore hav_truck him all the more pleasantly, but he still felt that same vaguel_isagreeable feeling of moral nausea. "But what on earth is worrying me?" h_sked himself as he rode back from the general. "Ilyin? No, he's safe. Have _isgraced myself in any way? No, that's not it." Something else, resemblin_emorse, tormented him. "Yes, oh yes, that French officer with the dimple. An_ remember how my arm paused when I raised it."
Rostov saw the prisoners being led away and galloped after them to have a loo_t his Frenchman with the dimple on his chin. He was sitting in his foreig_niform on an hussar packhorse and looked anxiously about him; The sword cu_n his arm could scarcely be called a wound. He glanced at Rostov with _eigned smile and waved his hand in greeting. Rostov still had the sam_ndefinite feeling, as of shame.
All that day and the next his friends and comrades noticed that Rostov,
without being dull or angry, was silent, thoughtful, and preoccupied. He dran_eluctantly, tried to remain alone, and kept turning something over in hi_ind.
Rostov was always thinking about that brilliant exploit of his, which to hi_mazement had gained him the St. George's Cross and even given him _eputation for bravery, and there was something he could not at al_nderstand. "So others are even more afraid than I am!" he thought. "So that'_ll there is in what is called heroism! And heroism! And did I do it for m_ountry's sake? And how was he to blame, with his dimple and blue eyes? An_ow frightened he was! He thought that I should kill him. Why should I kil_im? My hand trembled. And they have given me a St. George's Cross… . I can'_ake it out at all."
But while Nicholas was considering these questions and still could reach n_lear solution of what puzzled him so, the wheel of fortune in the service, a_ften happens, turned in his favor. After the affair at Ostrovna he wa_rought into notice, received command of an hussar battalion, and when a brav_fficer was needed he was chosen.