The squadron overtook and passed the infantry and the battery, who were also quickening their pace. Then the hussars raced downhill, passed through an empty and deserted village, and trotted uphill again. The horses were beginning to get in a lather and the men looked flushed.

“Halt! in line!” said the officer in command of the division. “Left about face, walking pace!” sounded the command in advance.

And the hussars passed along the lines of the other troops to the left flank of the position, and halted behind our Uhlans, who formed the front line. On the right was a dense column of our infantry—they formed the reserves; on the hill above them, in the pure, clear air, in the brilliant, slanting, morning sunshine, could be seen our cannons on the very horizon line. In front, beyond a hollow dale, could be seen the enemy’s columns and cannons. In the dale could be heard our advance pickets, already keeping up a lively interchange of shots with the enemy.

Rostov felt his spirits rise at those sounds, so long unheard, as though they had been the liveliest music. Trap-ta-ta-tap! rang out several shots, first together, then in rapid succession. All sank into silence again, and again there was a sound as of popping squibs.

The hussars remained for about an hour in the same spot. The cannons began firing. Count Osterman, with his suite behind the squadron, rode up; he stopped to say a word to the colonel of the regiment, and rode off to the cannons on the hill.

After Osterman had ridden away, the command rang out among the Uhlans, “Form in column; make ready to charge!” The infantry in front parted in two to let the cavalry pass through. The Uhlans galloped off, the streamers on their lances waving, and trotted downhill towards the French cavalry, who came into sight below on the left.

As soon as the Uhlans had started downhill, the hussars received the order to ride off uphill to cover the battery. Just as the hussars were moving into the place of the Uhlans, there came flying from the out- posts some cannon-balls, hissing and whistling out of the distance, and hitting nothing.

This sound, which he had not heard for so long, had an even more inspiriting and cheering effect on Rostov than the report of the muskets. Drawing himself up, he surveyed the field of battle, as it opened out before him riding uphill, and his whole heart went with the movements of the Uhlans. They were swooping down close upon the French dragoons; there was some confusion yonder in the smoke, and five minutes later the Uhlans were dashing back, not towards the spot where they had been posted, but more to the left. Between the ranks of Uhlans on the chestnut horses, and in a great mass behind them, could be seen blue French dragoons on grey horses.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.