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Chapter 16

  • Having ridden round the whole line from right flank to left, Prince Andre_ade his way up to the battery from which the staff officer had told him th_hole field could be seen. Here he dismounted, and stopped beside the farthes_f the four unlimbered cannon. Before the guns an artillery sentry was pacin_p and down; he stood at attention when the officer arrived, but at a sig_esumed his measured, monotonous pacing. Behind the guns were their limber_nd still farther back picket ropes and artillerymen's bonfires. To the left,
  • not far from the farthest cannon, was a small, newly constructed wattle she_rom which came the sound of officers' voices in eager conversation.
  • It was true that a view over nearly the whole Russian position and the greate_art of the enemy's opened out from this battery. Just facing it, on the cres_f the opposite hill, the village of Schon Grabern could be seen, and in thre_laces to left and right the French troops amid the smoke of their campfires,
  • the greater part of whom were evidently in the village itself and behind th_ill. To the left from that village, amid the smoke, was something resemblin_ battery, but it was impossible to see it clearly with the naked eye. Ou_ight flank was posted on a rather steep incline which dominated the Frenc_osition. Our infantry were stationed there, and at the farthest point th_ragoons. In the center, where Tushin's battery stood and from which Princ_ndrew was surveying the position, was the easiest and most direct descent an_scent to the brook separating us from Schon Grabern. On the left our troop_ere close to a copse, in which smoked the bonfires of our infantry who wer_elling wood. The French line was wider than ours, and it was plain that the_ould easily outflank us on both sides. Behind our position was a steep an_eep dip, making it difficult for artillery and cavalry to retire. Princ_ndrew took out his notebook and, leaning on the cannon, sketched a plan o_he position. He made some notes on two points, intending to mention them t_agration. His idea was, first, to concentrate all the artillery in th_enter, and secondly, to withdraw the cavalry to the other side of the dip.
  • Prince Andrew, being always near the commander in chief, closely following th_ass movements and general orders, and constantly studying historical account_f battles, involuntarily pictured to himself the course of events in th_orthcoming action in broad outline. He imagined only important possibilities:
  • "If the enemy attacks the right flank," he said to himself, "the Kie_renadiers and the Podolsk chasseurs must hold their position till reserve_rom the center come up. In that case the dragoons could successfully make _lank counterattack. If they attack our center we, having the center batter_n this high ground, shall withdraw the left flank under its cover, an_etreat to the dip by echelons." So he reasoned… . All the time he had bee_eside the gun, he had heard the voices of the officers distinctly, but a_ften happens had not understood a word of what they were saying. Suddenly,
  • however, he was struck by a voice coming from the shed, and its tone was s_incere that he could not but listen.
  • "No, friend," said a pleasant and, as it seemed to Prince Andrew, a familia_oice, "what I say is that if it were possible to know what is beyond death,
  • none of us would be afraid of it. That's so, friend."
  • Another, a younger voice, interrupted him: "Afraid or not, you can't escape i_nyhow."
  • "All the same, one is afraid! Oh, you clever people," said a third manly voic_nterrupting them both. "Of course you artillery men are very wise, becaus_ou can take everything along with you—vodka and snacks."
  • And the owner of the manly voice, evidently an infantry officer, laughed.
  • "Yes, one is afraid," continued the first speaker, he of the familiar voice.
  • "One is afraid of the unknown, that's what it is. Whatever we may say abou_he soul going to the sky… we know there is no sky but only an atmosphere."
  • The manly voice again interrupted the artillery officer.
  • "Well, stand us some of your herb vodka, Tushin," it said.
  • "Why," thought Prince Andrew, "that's the captain who stood up in the sutler'_ut without his boots." He recognized the agreeable, philosophizing voice wit_leasure.
  • "Some herb vodka? Certainly!" said Tushin. "But still, to conceive a futur_ife… "
  • He did not finish. Just then there was a whistle in the air; nearer an_earer, faster and louder, louder and faster, a cannon ball, as if it had no_inished saying what was necessary, thudded into the ground near the shed wit_uper human force, throwing up a mass of earth. The ground seemed to groan a_he terrible impact.
  • And immediately Tushin, with a short pipe in the corner of his mouth and hi_ind, intelligent face rather pale, rushed out of the shed followed by th_wner of the manly voice, a dashing infantry officer who hurried off to hi_ompany, buttoning up his coat as he ran.