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Chapter 7

  • Two of the enemy's shots had already flown across the bridge, where there wa_ crush. Halfway across stood Prince Nesvitski, who had alighted from hi_orse and whose big body was jammed against the railings. He looked bac_aughing to the Cossack who stood a few steps behind him holding two horses b_heir bridles. Each time Prince Nesvitski tried to move on, soldiers and cart_ushed him back again and pressed him against the railings, and all he coul_o was to smile.
  • "What a fine fellow you are, friend!" said the Cossack to a convoy soldie_ith a wagon, who was pressing onto the infantrymen who were crowded togethe_lose to his wheels and his horses. "What a fellow! You can't wait a moment!
  • Don't you see the general wants to pass?"
  • But the convoyman took no notice of the word "general" and shouted at th_oldiers who were blocking his way. "Hi there, boys! Keep to the left! Wait _it." But the soldiers, crowded together shoulder to shoulder, their bayonet_nterlocking, moved over the bridge in a dense mass. Looking down over th_ails Prince Nesvitski saw the rapid, noisy little waves of the Enns, whic_ippling and eddying round the piles of the bridge chased each other along.
  • Looking on the bridge he saw equally uniform living waves of soldiers, shoulder straps, covered shakos, knapsacks, bayonets, long muskets, and, unde_he shakos, faces with broad cheekbones, sunken cheeks, and listless tire_xpressions, and feet that moved through the sticky mud that covered th_lanks of the bridge. Sometimes through the monotonous waves of men, like _leck of white foam on the waves of the Enns, an officer, in a cloak and wit_ type of face different from that of the men, squeezed his way along; sometimes like a chip of wood whirling in the river, an hussar on foot, a_rderly, or a townsman was carried through the waves of infantry; an_ometimes like a log floating down the river, an officers' or company'_aggage wagon, piled high, leather covered, and hemmed in on all sides, move_cross the bridge.
  • "It's as if a dam had burst," said the Cossack hopelessly. "Are there man_ore of you to come?"
  • "A million all but one!" replied a waggish soldier in a torn coat, with _ink, and passed on followed by another, an old man.
  • "If he" (he meant the enemy) "begins popping at the bridge now," said the ol_oldier dismally to a comrade, "you'll forget to scratch yourself."
  • That soldier passed on, and after him came another sitting on a cart.
  • "Where the devil have the leg bands been shoved to?" said an orderly, runnin_ehind the cart and fumbling in the back of it.
  • And he also passed on with the wagon. Then came some merry soldiers who ha_vidently been drinking.
  • "And then, old fellow, he gives him one in the teeth with the butt end of hi_un… " a soldier whose greatcoat was well tucked up said gaily, with a wid_wing of his arm.
  • "Yes, the ham was just delicious… " answered another with a loud laugh. An_hey, too, passed on, so that Nesvitski did not learn who had been struck o_he teeth, or what the ham had to do with it.
  • "Bah! How they scurry. He just sends a ball and they think they'll all b_illed," a sergeant was saying angrily and reproachfully.
  • "As it flies past me, Daddy, the ball I mean," said a young soldier with a_normous mouth, hardly refraining from laughing, "I felt like dying of fright.
  • I did, 'pon my word, I got that frightened!" said he, as if bragging of havin_een frightened.
  • That one also passed. Then followed a cart unlike any that had gone before. I_as a German cart with a pair of horses led by a German, and seemed loade_ith a whole houseful of effects. A fine brindled cow with a large udder wa_ttached to the cart behind. A woman with an unweaned baby, an old woman, an_ healthy German girl with bright red cheeks were sitting on some feathe_eds. Evidently these fugitives were allowed to pass by special permission.
  • The eyes of all the soldiers turned toward the women, and while the vehicl_as passing at foot pace all the soldiers' remarks related to the two youn_nes. Every face bore almost the same smile, expressing unseemly thought_bout the women.
  • "Just see, the German sausage is making tracks, too!"
  • "Sell me the missis," said another soldier, addressing the German, who, angr_nd frightened, strode energetically along with downcast eyes.
  • "See how smart she's made herself! Oh, the devils!"
  • "There, Fedotov, you should be quartered on them!"
  • "I have seen as much before now, mate!"
  • "Where are you going?" asked an infantry officer who was eating an apple, als_alf smiling as he looked at the handsome girl.
  • The German closed his eyes, signifying that he did not understand.
  • "Take it if you like," said the officer, giving the girl an apple.
  • The girl smiled and took it. Nesvitski like the rest of the men on the bridg_id not take his eyes off the women till they had passed. When they had gon_y, the same stream of soldiers followed, with the same kind of talk, and a_ast all stopped. As often happens, the horses of a convoy wagon becam_estive at the end of the bridge, and the whole crowd had to wait.
  • "And why are they stopping? There's no proper order!" said the soldiers.
  • "Where are you shoving to? Devil take you! Can't you wait? It'll be worse i_e fires the bridge. See, here's an officer jammed in too"—different voice_ere saying in the crowd, as the men looked at one another, and all presse_oward the exit from the bridge.
  • Looking down at the waters of the Enns under the bridge, Nesvitski suddenl_eard a sound new to him, of something swiftly approaching… something big, that splashed into the water.
  • "Just see where it carries to!" a soldier near by said sternly, looking roun_t the sound.
  • "Encouraging us to get along quicker," said another uneasily.
  • The crowd moved on again. Nesvitski realized that it was a cannon ball.
  • "Hey, Cossack, my horse!" he said. "Now, then, you there! get out of the way!
  • Make way!"
  • With great difficulty he managed to get to his horse, and shouting continuall_e moved on. The soldiers squeezed themselves to make way for him, but agai_ressed on him so that they jammed his leg, and those nearest him were not t_lame for they were themselves pressed still harder from behind.
  • "Nesvitski, Nesvitski! you numskull!" came a hoarse voice from behind him.
  • Nesvitski looked round and saw, some fifteen paces away but separated by th_iving mass of moving infantry, Vaska Denisov, red and shaggy, with his cap o_he back of his black head and a cloak hanging jauntily over his shoulder.
  • "Tell these devils, these fiends, to let me pass!" shouted Denisov evidentl_n a fit of rage, his coal-black eyes with their bloodshot whites glitterin_nd rolling as he waved his sheathed saber in a small bare hand as red as hi_ace.
  • "Ah, Vaska!" joyfully replied Nesvitski. "What's up with you?"
  • "The squadwon can't pass," shouted Vaska Denisov, showing his white teet_iercely and spurring his black thoroughbred Arab, which twitched its ears a_he bayonets touched it, and snorted, spurting white foam from his bit, tramping the planks of the bridge with his hoofs, and apparently ready to jum_ver the railings had his rider let him. "What is this? They're like sheep!
  • Just like sheep! Out of the way!… Let us pass!… Stop there, you devil with th_art! I'll hack you with my saber!" he shouted, actually drawing his sabe_rom its scabbard and flourishing it.
  • The soldiers crowded against one another with terrified faces, and Deniso_oined Nesvitski.
  • "How's it you're not drunk today?" said Nesvitski when the other had ridden u_o him.
  • "They don't even give one time to dwink!" answered Vaska Denisov. "They kee_wagging the wegiment to and fwo all day. If they mean to fight, let's fight.
  • But the devil knows what this is."
  • "What a dandy you are today!" said Nesvitski, looking at Denisov's new cloa_nd saddlecloth.
  • Denisov smiled, took out of his sabretache a handkerchief that diffused _mell of perfume, and put it to Nesvitski's nose.
  • "Of course. I'm going into action! I've shaved, bwushed my teeth, and scente_yself."
  • The imposing figure of Nesvitski followed by his Cossack, and th_etermination of Denisov who flourished his sword and shouted frantically, ha_uch an effect that they managed to squeeze through to the farther side of th_ridge and stopped the infantry. Beside the bridge Nesvitski found the colone_o whom he had to deliver the order, and having done this he rode back.
  • Having cleared the way Denisov stopped at the end of the bridge. Carelessl_olding in his stallion that was neighing and pawing the ground, eager t_ejoin its fellows, he watched his squadron draw nearer. Then the clang o_oofs, as of several horses galloping, resounded on the planks of the bridge, and the squadron, officers in front and men four abreast, spread across th_ridge and began to emerge on his side of it.
  • The infantry who had been stopped crowded near the bridge in the trampled mu_nd gazed with that particular feeling of ill-will, estrangement, and ridicul_ith which troops of different arms usually encounter one another at th_lean, smart hussars who moved past them in regular order.
  • "Smart lads! Only fit for a fair!" said one.
  • "What good are they? They're led about just for show!" remarked another.
  • "Don't kick up the dust, you infantry!" jested an hussar whose prancing hors_ad splashed mud over some foot soldiers.
  • "I'd like to put you on a two days' march with a knapsack! Your fine cord_ould soon get a bit rubbed," said an infantryman, wiping the mud off his fac_ith his sleeve. "Perched up there, you're more like a bird than a man."
  • "There now, Zikin, they ought to put you on a horse. You'd look fine," said _orporal, chaffing a thin little soldier who bent under the weight of hi_napsack.
  • "Take a stick between your legs, that'll suit you for a horse!" the hussa_houted back.