The esaul looked in the direction Denisov was pointing to.

“There are two men coming—an officer and a Cossack. Only I wouldn’t be prepositive that is the colonel himself,” said the esaul, who loved to use words that were unfamiliar to the Cossacks. The two figures, riding downhill, disappeared from sight, and came into view again a few minutes later. The foremost was an officer, dishevelled looking, and soaked through, with his trousers tucked up above his knees; he was lashing his horse into a weary gallop. Behind him a Cossack trotted along, standing up in his stirrups. This officer, a quite young boy, with a broad, rosy face and keen, merry eyes, galloped up to Denisov, and handed him a sopping packet.

“From the general,” he said. “I must apologise for its not being quite dry.…”

Denisov, frowning, took the packet and broke it open.

“Why, they kept telling us it was so dangerous,” said the officer, turning to the esaul while Denisov was reading the letter. “But Komarov”— and he indicated the Cossack—“and I were prepared. We have both two pisto … But what’s this?” he asked, seeing the French drummer-boy. “A prisoner? You have had a battle already? May I talk to him?”

“Rostov! Petya!” Denisov cried at that moment, running through the packet that had been given him. “Why, how was it you didn’t say who you were?” and Denisov, turning with a smile, held out his hand to the officer. This officer was Petya Rostov.

Petya had been all the way preparing himself to behave with Denisov as a grown-up person and an officer should do, making no reference to their previous acquaintance. But as soon as Denisov smiled at him, Petya beamed at once, blushed with delight, and forgetting all the formal demeanour he had been intending to preserve, he began telling him how he had ridden by the French, and how glad he was he had been given this commission, and how he had already been in a battle at Vyazma, and how a certain hussar had distinguished himself in it.

“Well, I am glad to see you,” Denisov interrupted him, and his face looked anxious again.

“Mihail Feoklititch,” he said to the esaul, “this is from the German again, you know. He” (Petya) “is in his suite.” And Denisov told the esaul that the letter, which had just been brought, repeated the German general’s request that they would join him in attacking the transport. “If we don’t catch them by to-morrow, he’ll snatch them from under our noses,” he concluded.

While Denisov was talking to the esaul, Petya, disconcerted by Denisov’s cold tone, and imagining that that tone might be due to the condition of his trousers, furtively pulled them down under his cloak, trying to do so unobserved, and to maintain as martial an air as possible.

“Will your honour have any instructions to give me?” he said to Denisov, putting his hand to the peak of his cap, and going back to the comedy of adjutant and general, which he had prepared himself to perform, “or should I remain with your honour?”

“Instructions? …” said Denisov absently. “Well, can you stay till tomorrow?”

“Oh, please … May I stay with you?” cried Petya.

“Well, what were your instructions from your general—to go back at once?” asked Denisov.

Petya blushed.

“Oh, he gave me no instructions. I think I may?” he said interrogatively.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
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.