“Wouldn’t your excellency take some lunch?” he said.

“It’s a bad business,” said the general, without answering him; “our men have been too slow.”

“Shouldn’t I ride over, your excellency?” said Nesvitsky.

“Yes, ride over, please,” said the general, repeating an order that had already once before been given in detail; “and tell the hussars that they are to cross last and to burn the bridge, as I sent orders, and that they’re to overhaul the burning materials on the bridge.”

“Very good,” answered Nesvitsky. He called the Cossack with his horse, told him to pick up the knapsack and flask, and lightly swung his heavy person into the saddle.

“Upon my word, I am going to pay a visit to the nuns,” he said to the officers who were watching him, smiling, and he rode along the winding path down the mountain.

“Now then, captain, try how far it’ll carry,” said the general, turning to the artillery officer. “Have a little fun to pass the time.”

“Men, to the guns!” commanded the officer, and in a moment the gunners ran gaily from the camp fires and loaded the big guns.

“One!” they heard the word of command. Number one bounded back nimbly. The cannon boomed with a deafening metallic sound, and whistling over the heads of our men under the mountainside, the grenade flew across, and falling a long way short of the enemy showed by the rising smoke where it had fallen and burst.

The faces of the soldiers and officers lightened up at the sound. Every one got up and busily watched the movements of our troops below, which could be seen as in the hollow of a hand, and the movements of the advancing enemy. At the same instant, the sun came out fully from behind the clouds, and the full note of the solitary shot and the brilliance of the bright sunshine melted into a single inspiriting impression of light-hearted gaiety.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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