“Kindly let this cart get through. Don’t you see that it is a woman?” said Prince Andrey, riding up to the officer.

The officer glanced at him, and without making any reply turned again to the soldier. “I’ll teach you how to push in. … Back! …”

“Let it pass, I tell you,” repeated Prince Andrey, setting his lips tightly.

“And who are you?” cried the officer, turning upon him suddenly with drunken fury. “Who are you? Are you” (he put a peculiarly offensive intonation into the word) “in command, pray? I’m commanding officer here, not you. Back you go,” he repeated, “or I’ll lash you into mincemeat.” The expression evidently pleased the officer.

“A nice snub he gave the little adjutant,” said a voice in the background.

Prince Andrey saw that the officer was in that stage of drunken unreasoning fury, when men do not remember what they say. He saw that his championship of the doctor’s wife in the queer conveyance was exposing him to what he dreaded more than anything else in the world, what is called in French ridicule, but his instinct said something else. The officer had hardly uttered the last words when Prince Andrey rode up to him with a face distorted by frenzied anger, and raised his riding-whip: “Let—them—pass!”

The officer flourished his arm and hurriedly rode away.

“It’s all their doing, these staff-officers, all the disorder,” he grumbled. “Do as you like.”

Prince Andrey, without lifting his eyes, made haste to escape from the doctor’s wife, who called him her deliverer. And dwelling on the minutest detail of this humiliating scene with loathing, he galloped on towards the village, where he was told that the commander-in-chief was.

On reaching the village, he got off his horse, and went into the first house with the intention of resting for a moment at least, eating something, and getting all the mortifying impressions that were torturing him into some clear shape. “This is a mob of scoundrels, not an army,” he thought, going up to the window of the first house, when a familiar voice called him by his name.

He looked round. Out of a little window was thrust the handsome face of Nesvitsky. Nesvitsky, munching something in his moist mouth and beckoning to him, called him in.

“Bolkonsky! Bolkonsky! Don’t you hear, eh? Make haste,” he shouted.

Going into the house, Prince Andrey found Nesvitsky and another adjutant having a meal. They hastily turned to Bolkonsky with the inquiry, had he any news? On their familiar faces Prince Andrey read alarm and uneasiness. That expression was particularly noticeable in Nesvitsky’s face, usually so full of laughter.

“Where is the commander-in-chief?” asked Bolkonsky.

“Here in this house,” answered the adjutant.

“Well, is it true, about the peace and capitulation?” asked Nesvitsky.

“I ask you. I know nothing except that I have had great difficulty in getting through to you.”

“And the things that have been going on, my boy! Awful! I was wrong to laugh at Mack; there’s worse in store for us,” said Nesvitsky. “But sit down, have something to eat.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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