“From the direction it must be the enemy,” Rostov said again.

“May be ’tis, and may be not,” said the hussar; “it’s dark. Now! steady,” he shouted to his horse, who fidgeted. Rostov’s horse too was restless, and pawed the frozen ground as it listened to the shouts and looked at the lights. The shouting grew louder and passed into a mingled roar that could only be produced by an army of several thousands. The lights stretched further and further probably along the line of the French camp. Rostov was not sleepy now. The gay, triumphant shouts in the enemy’s army had a rousing effect on him. “Vive l’Empereur! l’Empereur!” Rostov could hear distinctly now.

“Not far off, beyond the stream it must be,” he said to the hussar near him.

The hussar merely sighed without replying, and cleared his throat angrily. They heard the thud of a horse trotting along the line of hussars, and there suddenly sprang up out of the night mist, looking huge as an elephant, the figure of a sergeant of hussars.

“Your honour, the generals!” said the sergeant, riding up to Rostov. Rostov, still looking away towards the lights and shouts, rode with the sergeant to meet several men galloping along the line. One was on a white horse. Prince Bagration with Prince Dolgorukov and his adjutant had ridden out to look at the strange demonstration of lights and shouts in the enemy’s army. Rostov, going up to Bagration, reported what he had heard and seen to him, and joined the adjutants, listening to what the generals were saying.

“Take my word for it,” Prince Dolgorukov was saying to Bagration, “it’s nothing but a trick; they have retreated and ordered the rearguard to light fires and make a noise to deceive us.”

“I doubt it,” said Bagration; “since evening I have seen them on that knoll; if they had retreated, they would have withdrawn from there too. Monsieur l’officier,” Prince Bagration turned to Rostov, “are the enemy’s pickets still there?”

“They were there this evening, but now I can’t be sure, your excellency. Shall I go with some hussars and see?” said Rostov.

Bagration stood still, and before answering, tried to make out Rostov’s face in the mist.

“Well, go and see,” he said after a brief pause.

“Yes, sir.”

Rostov put spurs to his horse, called up the sergeant Fedtchenko, and two other hussars, told them to ride after him, and trotted off downhill in the direction of the shouting, which still continued. Rostov felt both dread and joy in riding alone with three hussars into that mysterious and dangerous, misty distance, where no one had been before him. Bagration shouted to him from the hill not to go beyond the stream, but Rostov made as though he had not heard his words, and rode on without stopping, further and further, continually mistaking bushes for trees and ravines for men, and continually discovering his mistakes. As he galloped downhill he lost sight both of our men and the enemy, but more loudly and distinctly he heard the shouts of the French. In the valley he saw ahead of him something that looked like a river, but when he had ridden up to it, he found out it was a road. As he got out on the road he pulled up his horse, hesitating whether to go along it or to cut across it, and ride over the black field up the hillside. To follow the road, which showed lighter in the mist, was more dangerous, because figures could be more easily descried upon it. “Follow me,” he said, “cut across the road,” and began galloping up the hill towards the point where the French picket had been in the evening.

“Your honour, here he is!” said one of the hussars behind; and before Rostov had time to make out something that rose up suddenly black in the mist, there was a flash of light, the crack of a shot and a bullet, that seemed whining a complaint, whizzed high in the air and flew away out of hearing. Another shot missed fire, but there was a flash in the pan. Rostov turned his horse’s head and galloped back. He heard

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