led by a German, and behind was fastened a handsome, brindled cow with an immense udder. On piled-up feather-beds sat a woman with a small baby, an old woman, and a good-looking, rosy-cheeked German girl. They were evidently country people, moving, who had been allowed through by special permit. The eyes of all the soldiers were turned upon the women, and, while the waggon moved by, a step at a time, all the soldiers remarks related to the two women. Every face wore almost the same smile, reflecting indecent ideas about the women.
Hey, the sausage, hes moving away!
Sell us your missis, said another soldier, addressing the German, who strode along with downcast eyes, looking wrathful and alarmed.
See how shes dressed herself up! Ah, you devils!
I say, wouldnt you like to be billeted on them, Fedotov!
I know a thing or two, mate!
Where are you going? asked the infantry officer, who was eating an apple. He too was half smiling and staring at the handsome girl. The German, shutting his eyes, signified that he did not understand.
Take it, if you like, said the officer, giving the girl an apple. The girl smiled and took it. Nesvitsky, like all the men on the bridge, never took his eyes off the women till they had passed by. When they had passed by, again there moved by the same soldiers, with the same talk, and at last all came to a standstill. As often happens, the horses in a convoy-waggon became unmanageable at the end of the bridge, and the whole crowd had to wait.
What are they standing still for? Theres no order kept! said the soldiers. Where are you shoving? Damn it! Cant you wait a little? Itll be a bad look-out if he sets light to the bridge.
Look, theres an officer jammed in too, the soldiers said in different parts of the stationary crowd, as they looked about them and kept pressing forward to the end of the bridge. Looking round at the waters of the Enns under the bridge, Nesvitsky suddenly heard a sound new to him, the sound of something rapidly coming nearer something big, and then a splash in the water.
Look where it reaches to! a soldier standing near said sternly, looking round at the sound.
Hes encouraging us to get on quicker, said another uneasily. The crowd moved again. Nesvitsky grasped that it was a cannon ball.
Hey, Cossack, give me my horse! he said. Now then, stand aside! stand aside! make way!
With a mighty effort he succeeded in getting to his horse. Shouting continually, he moved forward. The soldiers pressed together to make way for him, but jammed upon him again, so that they squeezed his leg, and those nearest him were not to blame, for they were pressed forward even more violently from behind.
Nesvitsky! Nesvitsky! You, old chap! he heard a husky voice shouting from behind at that instant.
Nesvitsky looked round and saw, fifteen paces away, separated from him by a living mass of moving infantry, the red and black and tousled face of Vaska Denisov with a forage-cap on the back of his head, and a pelisse swung jauntily over his shoulder.
Tell them to make way, the damned devils! roared Denisov, who was evidently in a great state of excitement. He rolled his flashing, coal-black eyes, showing the bloodshot whites, and waved a sheathed sword, which he held in a bare hand as red as his face.
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