exactly in the order in which it had arrived—wearing their overcoats, and carrying their baggage, and without any sort of preparation.

A member of the Hofkriegsrath from Vienna had been with Kutuzov the previous day, proposing and demanding that he should move on as quickly as possible to effect a junction with the army of Archduke Ferdinand and Mack; and Kutuzov, not considering this combination advisable, had intended, among other arguments in support of his view, to point out to the Austrian general the pitiable condition in which were the troops that had arrived from Russia. It was with this object, indeed, that he had meant to meet the regiment, so that the worse the condition of the regiment, the better pleased the commander-in-chief would be with it. Though the adjutant did not know these details, he gave the general in command of the regiment the message that the commander-in-chief absolutely insisted on the men being in their overcoats and marching order, and that, if the contrary were the case, the commander-in-chief would be displeased.

On hearing this the general’s head sank; he shrugged his shoulders, and flung up his hands with a choleric gesture.

“Here’s a mess we’ve made of it,” he said. “Why, didn’t I tell you, Mihail Mitritch, that on the march meant in their overcoats,” he said reproachfully to the major. “Ah, my God!” he added, and stepped resolutely forward. “Captains of the companies!” he shouted in a voice used to command. “Sergeants!… Will his excellency be coming soon?” he said, turning to the adjutant with an expression of respectful deference, that related obviously only to the person he was speaking of.

“In an hour’s time, I believe.”

“Have we time to change clothes?”

“I can’t say, general.…”

The general, going himself among the ranks, gave orders for the men to change back to their overcoats. The captains ran about among the companies, the sergeants bustled to and fro (the overcoats were not quite up to the mark), and instantaneously the squadrons, that had been in regular order and silent, were heaving to and fro, straggling apart and humming with talk. The soldiers ran backwards and forwards in all directions, stooping with their shoulders thrown back, drawing their knapsacks off over their heads, taking out their overcoats and lifting their arms up to thrust them into the sleeves.

Half an hour later everything was in its former good order again, only the squadrons were now grey instead of black. The general walked in front of the regiment again with his quivering strut, and scanned it from some distance.

“What next? what’s this!” he shouted, stopping short. “Captain of the third company!”

“The captain of the third company to the general! The captain to the general of the third company to the captain!” … voices were heard along the ranks, and an adjutant ran to look for the tardy officer. When the sound of the officious voices, varying the command, and, by now, crying, “the general to the third company,” reached their destination, the officer called for emerged from behind his company, and, though he was an elderly man and not accustomed to running, he moved at a quick trot towards the general, stumbling awkwardly over the toes of his boots. The captain’s face showed the uneasiness of a schoolboy who is called up to repeat an unlearnt lesson. Patches came out on his red nose (unmistakably due to intemperance), and he did not know how to keep his mouth steady. The general looked the captain up and down as he ran panting up, slackening his pace as he drew nearer.

“You’ll soon be dressing your men in petticoats! What’s the meaning of it?” shouted the general, thrusting out his lower jaw and pointing in the ranks of the third division to a soldier in an overcoat of a colour

  By PanEris using Melati.

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