“Oh no, it’s all right; but it does seem to be hopping along somehow,” said Pierre, with a puzzled look.

“Ay! … but he’s wounded,” said the adjutant, “the right fore-leg above the knee. A bullet, it must have been. I congratulate you, count,” he said, “you have had your baptism of fire now.”

After passing in the smoke through the sixth corps behind the artillery, which had been moved forward and was keeping up a deafening cannonade, they rode into a small copse. There it was cool and still and full of the scents of autumn. Pierre and the adjutant got off their horses and walked on foot up the hill.

“Is the general here?” asked the adjutant on reaching the redoubt.

“He was here just now; he went this way,” some one answered, pointing to the right.

The adjutant looked round at Pierre, as though he did not know what to do with him.

“Don’t trouble about me,” said Pierre. “I’ll go up on to the mound; may I?”

“Yes, do; you can see everything from there, and it’s not so dangerous, and I will come to fetch you.”

Pierre went up to the battery, and the adjutant rode away. They did not see each other again, and only much later Pierre learned that that adjutant had lost an arm on that day.

The mound—afterwards known among the Russians as the battery mound, or Raevsky’s battery, and among the French as “the great redoubt,” “fatal redoubt,” and “central redoubt”—was the celebrated spot at which tens of thousands of men were killed, and upon which the French looked as the key of the position.

The redoubt consisted of a mound, with trenches dug out on three sides of it. In the entrenchments stood ten cannons, firing through the gaps left in the earthworks.

In a line with the redoubt on both sides stood cannons, and these too kept up an incessant fire. A little behind the line of cannons were troops of infantry. When Pierre ascended this mound, he had no notion that this place, encircled by small trenches and protected by a few cannons, was the most important spot in the field.

He fancied, indeed (simply because he happened to be there), that it was a place of no importance whatever.

Pierre sat down on the end of the earthwork surrounding the battery and gazed at what was passing around him with an unconscious smile of pleasure. At intervals Pierre got up, and with the same smile on his face walked about the battery, trying not to get in the way of the soldiers, who were loading and discharging the cannons and were continually running by him with bags and ammunition. The cannons were firing continually, one after another, with deafening uproar, enveloping all the country round in clouds of smoke.

In contrast to the painful look of dread in the infantry soldiers who were guarding the battery, here in the battery itself, where a limited number of men were busily engaged in their work, and shut off from the rest of the trench, there was a general feeling of eager excitement, a sort of family feeling shared by all alike.

The appearance of Pierre’s unmartial figure and his white hat at first impressed this little group unfavourably. The soldiers cast sidelong glances of surprise and even alarm at him, as they ran by. The senior artillery officer, a tall, long-legged, pock-marked man, approached Pierre, as though he wanted to examine the action of the cannon at the end, and stared inquisitively at him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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