BOOK TWO: 1805
17. CHAPTER XVII
Mounting his horse again Prince Andrew lingered with the battery,
looking at the puff from the gun that had sent the ball. His eyes
ran rapidly over the wide space, but he only saw that the hitherto
motionless masses of the French now swayed and that there really was a
battery to their left. The smoke above it had not yet dispersed. Two
mounted Frenchmen, probably adjutants, were galloping up the hill. A
small but distinctly visible enemy column was moving down the hill,
probably to strengthen the front line. The smoke of the first shot had
not yet dispersed before another puff appeared, followed by a
report. The battle had begun! Prince Andrew turned his horse and
galloped back to Grunth to find Prince Bagration. He heard the
cannonade behind him growing louder and more frequent. Evidently our
guns had begun to reply. From the bottom of the slope, where the
parleys had taken place, came the report of musketry.
Lemarrois had just arrived at a gallop with Bonaparte's stern
letter, and Murat, humiliated and anxious to expiate his fault, had at
once moved his forces to attack the center and outflank both the
Russian wings, hoping before evening and before the arrival of the
Emperor to crush the contemptible detachment that stood before him.
"It has begun. Here it is!" thought Prince Andrew, feeling the blood
rush to his heart. "But where and how will my Toulon present itself?"
Passing between the companies that had been eating porridge and
drinking vodka a quarter of an hour before, he saw everywhere the same
rapid movement of soldiers forming ranks and getting their muskets
ready, and on all their faces he recognized the same eagerness that
filled his heart. "It has begun! Here it is, dreadful but
enjoyable!" was what the face of each soldier and each officer
seemed to say.
Before he had reached the embankments that were being thrown up,
he saw, in the light of the dull autumn evening, mounted men coming
toward him. The foremost, wearing a Cossack cloak and lambskin cap and
riding a white horse, was Prince Bagration. Prince Andrew stopped,
waiting for him to come up; Prince Bagration reined in his horse and
recognizing Prince Andrew nodded to him. He still looked ahead while
Prince Andrew told him what he had seen.