BOOK TEN: 1812
31. CHAPTER XXXI
"All with grapeshot!" shouted the officer.
The sergeant ran up to the officer and in a frightened whisper
informed him (as a butler at dinner informs his master that there is
no more of some wine asked for) that there were no more charges.
"The scoundrels! What are they doing?" shouted the officer,
turning to Pierre.
The officer's face was red and perspiring and his eyes glittered
under his frowning brow.
"Run to the reserves and bring up the ammunition boxes!" he
yelled, angrily avoiding Pierre with his eyes and speaking to his men.
"I'll go," said Pierre.
The officer, without answering him, strode across to the opposite
"Don't fire.... Wait!" he shouted.
The man who had been ordered to go for ammunition stumbled against
"Eh, sir, this is no place for you," said he, and ran down the
Pierre ran after him, avoiding the spot where the young officer
One cannon ball, another, and a third flew over him, falling in
front, beside, and behind him. Pierre ran down the slope. "Where am
I going?" he suddenly asked himself when he was already near the green
ammunition wagons. He halted irresolutely, not knowing whether to
return or go on. Suddenly a terrible concussion threw him backwards to
the ground. At the same instant he was dazzled by a great flash of
flame, and immediately a deafening roar, crackling, and whistling made
his ears tingle.
When he came to himself he was sitting on the ground leaning on
his hands; the ammunition wagons he had been approaching no longer
existed, only charred green boards and rags littered the scorched
grass, and a horse, dangling fragments of its shaft behind it,
galloped past, while another horse lay, like Pierre, on the ground,
uttering prolonged and piercing cries.