“So much the better! I shall see it close,” he thought.

He was riding almost along the front line. A body of horsemen came galloping towards him. They were a troop of our Uhlans returning in disorder from the attack. Rostov, as he passed them, could not help noticing one of them covered with blood, but he galloped on.

“That’s no affair of mine!” he thought.

He had not ridden on many hundred paces further when there came into sight, on his left, across the whole extent of the field, an immense mass of cavalry on black horses, in dazzling white uniforms, trotting straight towards him, cutting off his advance. Rostov put his horse to his utmost speed to get out of the way of these cavalrymen, and he would have cleared them had they been advancing at the same rate, but they kept increasing their pace, so that several horses broke into a gallop. More and more loudly Rostov could hear the thud of their horses’ hoofs, and the jingle of their weapons, and more and more distinctly he could see their horses, their figures, and even their faces. These were our horse-guards, charging to attack the French cavalry, who were advancing to meet them.

The cavalry guards were galloping, though still holding in their horses. Rostov could see their faces now, and hear the word of command, “Charge!” uttered by an officer, as he let his thoroughbred go at full speed. Rostov, in danger of being trampled underfoot or carried away to attack the French, galloped along before their line as fast as his horse could go, and still he was not in time to escape them.

The last of the line of cavalry, a pock-marked man of immense stature, scowled viciously on seeing Rostov just in front of him, where he must inevitably come into collision with him. This horse-guard would infallibly have overturned Rostov and his Bedouin (Rostov felt himself so little and feeble beside these gigantic men and horses) if he had not bethought himself of striking the horse-guard’s horse in the face with his riding-whip. The heavy, black, high horse twitched its ears and reared, but its pock-marked rider brought it down with a violent thrust of the spurs into its huge sides, and the horse, lashing its tail and dragging its neck, flew on faster than ever. The horse-guard had hardly passed Rostov when he heard their shout, “Hurrah!” and looking round saw their foremost ranks mixed up with some strange cavalry, in red epaulettes, probably French. He could see nothing more, for immediately after cannons were fired from somewhere, and everything was lost in the smoke.

At the moment when the horse-guards passing him vanished into the smoke, Rostov hesitated whether to gallop after them or to go on where he had to go. This was the brilliant charge of the horse-guards of which the French themselves expressed their admiration. Rostov was appalled to hear afterwards that of all that mass of huge, fine men, of all those brilliant, rich young officers and ensigns who had galloped by him on horses worth thousands of roubles. only eighteen were left after the charge.

“I have no need to envy them, my share won’t be taken from me, and may be I shall see the Emperor in a minute!” thought Rostov, and he galloped on.

When he reached the infantry of the guards, he noticed that cannon balls were flying over and about them, not so much from the sound of the cannon balls, as from the uneasiness he saw in the faces of the soldiers and the unnatural, martial solemnity on the faces of the officers.

As he rode behind one of the lines of the regiments of footguards, he heard a voice calling him by name: “Rostov!”

“Eh?” he called back, not recognising Boris.

“I say, we’ve been in the front line! Our regiment marched to the attack!” said Boris, smiling that happy smile that is seen in young men who have been for the first time under fire. Rostov stopped.

“Really!” he said. “Well, how was it?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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