“Hurrah-rah-rah!” thousands of voices roared.

While the soldiers were shouting, Kutuzov, bending forward in his saddle, bowed his head, and his eyes gleamed with a mild and, as it were, ironical light.

“And now, brothers …” he said, when the shouts had died away.

And all at once his face and expression changed: it was not the commander-in-chief speaking now, but a simple, aged man, who plainly wanted to say something most important now to his comrades.

“And now, brothers. I know it’s hard for you, but there’s no help for it! Have a little patience; it won’t last much longer. We will see our visitors off, and then we will rest. The Tsar won’t forget your services. It’s hard for you, but still you are at home; while they—you see what they have come to,” he said, pointing to the prisoners. “Worse than the lowest beggars. While they were strong, we did not spare ourselves, but now we can even spare them. They too are men. Eh, lads?”

He looked about him. And in the unflinching, respectfully wondering eyes staring persistently at him, he read sympathy with his words. His face grew brighter and brighter with the gentle smile of old age, that brought clusters of wrinkles at the corners of his mouth and his eyes. He paused and dropped his head, as though in doubt.

“But after all is said and done, who asked them to come here? It serves them right, the b— b—” he said suddenly, lifting his head. And swinging his riding-whip, he rode off at a gallop, accompanied for the first time during the whole campaign by gleeful guffaws and roars of hurrah from the men as they moved out of rank.

The words uttered by Kutuzov were hardly understood by the soldiers. No one could have repeated the field-marshal’s speech at first of such solemnity, and towards the end of such homely simplicity. But the meaning at the bottom of his words, they understood very well, and the same feeling of solemn triumph in their victory, together with pity for the enemy and the sense of the justice of their cause—expressed, too, with precisely the same homely coarseness—lay at the bottom of every soldier’s heart, and found a vent in delighted shouts, that did not cease for a long while. When one of the generals addressed the commander-in-chief after this, asking whether he desired his carriage, Kutuzov broke into a sudden sob in replying. He was evidently deeply moved.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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