Chapter 2

“COMING!” the sentinel shouted at that moment. The general, turning red, ran to his horse, with trembling hands caught at the stirrup, swung himself up, settled himself in the saddle, drew out his sword, and with a pleased and resolute face opened his mouth on one side, in readiness to shout. The regiment fluttered all over, like a bird preening its wings, and subsided into stillness.

“Silence!” roared the general, in a soul-quaking voice, expressing at once gladness on his own account, severity as regards the regiment, and welcome as regards the approaching commander-in-chief.

A high, blue Vienna coach with several horses was driving at a smart trot, rumbling on its springs, along the broad unpaved high-road, with trees planted on each side of it. The general’s suite and an escort of Croats galloped after the coach. Beside Kutuzov sat an Austrian general in a white uniform, that looked strange among the black Russian ones. The coach drew up on reaching the regiment. Kutuzov and the Austrian general were talking of something in low voices, and Kutuzov smiled slightly as, treading heavily, he put his foot on the carriage step, exactly as though those two thousand men gazing breathlessly at him and at their general, did not exist at all.

The word of command rang out, again the regiment quivered with a clanking sound as it presented arms. In the deathly silence the weak voice of the commander-in-chief was audible. The regiment roared: “Good health to your Ex .. lency .. lency .. lency!” And again all was still. At first Kutuzov stood in one spot, while the regiment moved; then Kutuzov began walking on foot among the ranks, the white general beside him, followed by his suite.

From the way that the general in command of the regiment saluted the commander-in-chief, fixing his eyes intently on him, rigidly respectful and obsequious, from the way in which, craning forward, he followed the generals through the ranks, with an effort restraining his quivering strut, and darted up at every word and every gesture of the commander-in-chief,—it was evident that he performed his duties as a subordinate with even greater zest than his duties as a commanding officer. Thanks to the strictness and assiduity of its commander, the regiment was in excellent form as compared with the others that had arrived at Braunau at the same time. The sick and the stragglers left behind only numbered two hundred and seventeen, and everything was in good order except the soldiers’ boots.

Kutuzov walked through the ranks, stopping now and then, and saying a few friendly words to officers he had known in the Turkish war, and sometimes to the soldiers. Looking at their boots, he several times shook his head dejectedly, and pointed them out to the Austrian general with an expression as much as to say that he blamed no one for it, but he could not help seeing what a bad state of things it was. The general in command of the regiment, on every occasion such as this, ran forward, afraid of missing a single word the commander-in-chief might utter regarding the regiment. Behind Kutuzov, at such a distance that every word, even feebly articulated, could be heard, followed his suite, consisting of some twenty persons. These gentlemen were talking among themselves, and sometimes laughed. Nearest of all to the commander-in-chief walked a handsome adjutant. It was Prince Bolkonsky. Beside him was his comrade Nesvitsky, a tall staff-officer, excessively stout, with a good-natured, smiling, handsome face, and moist eyes. Nesvitsky could hardly suppress his mirth, which was excited by a swarthy officer of hussars walking near him. This officer, without a smile or a change in the expression of his fixed eyes, was staring with a serious face at the commanding officer’s back, and mimicking every movement he made. Every time the commanding officer quivered and darted forward, the officer of hussars quivered and darted forward in precisely the same way. Nesvitsky laughed, and poked the others to make them look at the mimic.

Kutuzov walked slowly and listlessly by the thousands of eyes which were almost rolling out of their sockets in the effort to watch him. On reaching the third company, he suddenly stopped. The suite, not foreseeing this halt, could not help pressing up closer to him.

“Ah, Timohin!” said the commander-in-chief, recognising the captain with the red nose who had got into trouble over the blue overcoat.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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