BOOK TEN: 1812
20. CHAPTER XX
"I would go with you but on my honor I'm up to here"- and he pointed
to his throat. "I'm galloping to the commander of the corps. How do
matters stand?... You know, Count, there'll be a battle tomorrow.
Out of an army of a hundred thousand we must expect at least twenty
thousand wounded, and we haven't stretchers, or bunks, or dressers, or
doctors enough for six thousand. We have ten thousand carts, but we
need other things as well- we must manage as best we can!"
The strange thought that of the thousands of men, young and old, who
had stared with merry surprise at his hat (perhaps the very men he had
noticed), twenty thousand were inevitably doomed to wounds and death
"They may die tomorrow; why are they thinking of anything but
death?" And by some latent sequence of thought the descent of the
Mozhaysk hill, the carts with the wounded, the ringing bells, the
slanting rays of the sun, and the songs of the cavalrymen vividly
recurred to his mind.
"The cavalry ride to battle and meet the wounded and do not for a
moment think of what awaits them, but pass by, winking at the wounded.
Yet from among these men twenty thousand are doomed to die, and they
wonder at my hat! Strange!" thought Pierre, continuing his way to
In front of a landowner's house to the left of the road stood
carriages, wagons, and crowds of orderlies and sentinels. The
commander in chief was putting up there, but just when Pierre
arrived he was not in and hardly any of the staff were there- they had
gone to the church service. Pierre drove on toward Gorki.
When he had ascended the hill and reached the little village street,
he saw for the first time peasant militiamen in their white shirts and
with crosses on their caps, who, talking and laughing loudly, animated
and perspiring, were at work on a huge knoll overgrown with grass to
the right of the road.
Some of them were digging, others were wheeling barrowloads of earth
along planks, while others stood about doing nothing.