“Ah! that’s he again!” said the officer. (It was the redoubt of Shevardino.) “Yesterday that was ours, but now it’s his.”

“So what is our position, then?”

“Our position?” said the officer, with a smile of satisfaction. “I can describe it very clearly, because I have had to do with the making of almost all our fortifications. There, our centre, do you see, is here at Borodino.” He pointed to the village with the white church, in front of them. “There’s the ford across the Kolotcha. Here, do you see, where the rows of mown hay are still lying in the low ground, there’s the bridge. That’s our centre. Our right flank is away yonder” (he pointed to the right, far away to the hollows among the hills), “there is the river Moskva, and there we have thrown up three very strong redoubts. The left flank …” there the officer paused. “It’s hard to explain, you see. … Yesterday our left flank was over there, at Shevardino, do you see, where the oak is. But now we have drawn back our left wing, now it’s over there,—you see the village and the smoke—that’s Semyonovskoye, and here—look,” he pointed to Raevsky’s redoubt. “Only the battle won’t be there, most likely. He has moved his troops here, but that’s a blind; he will probably try to get round on the right. Well, but however it may be, there’ll be a lot of men missing at roll-call to-morrow!” said the officer.

The old sergeant, who came up during the officer’s speech, had waited in silence for his superior officer to finish speaking. But at this point he interrupted him in undisguised annoyance at his last words.

“We have to send for gabions,” he said severely.

The officer seemed abashed, as though he were fully aware that though he might think how many men would be missing next day, he ought not to talk about it.

“Well, send the third company again,” he said hurriedly. “And who are you, not one of the doctors?”

“No, I am nothing in particular,” answered Pierre. And he went downhill again, passing the peasant militiamen.

“Ah, the damned beasts!” said the officer, pinching his nose, and hurrying by them with Pierre.

“Here they come! … They are bringing her, they are coming. … Here she is … they’ll be here in a minute,” cried voices suddenly, and officers, soldiers, and peasants ran forward along the road.

A church procession was coming up the hill from Borodino. In front of it a regiment of infantry marched smartly along the dusty road, with their shakoes off and their muskets lowered. Behind the infantry came the sounds of church singing.

Soldiers and peasants came running down bareheaded to meet it, overtaking Pierre.

“They are bringing the Holy Mother! Our defender … the Holy Mother of Iversky! …”

“The Holy Mother of Smolensk …” another corrected.

The militiamen who had been in the village and those who had been working at the battery, flinging down their spades, ran to meet the procession. The battalion marching along the dusty road was followed by priests in church robes, a little old man in a hood with attendant deacons and choristers. Behind them came soldiers and officers bearing a huge holy picture, with tarnished face in a setting of silver. This was the holy ikon that had been brought away from Smolensk, and had accompanied the army ever since. Behind, before, and all around it, walked or ran crowds of soldiers with bared heads, bowing to the earth.

On the top of the hill the procession stopped; the men bearing the holy picture on a linen cloth were relieved by others; the deacons relighted their censers, and the service began. The burning rays of the sun beat vertically down on the crowds; a faint, fresh breeze played with the hair of their bare heads,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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