Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

BOOK TEN: 1812
21. CHAPTER XXI (continued)

"Our position?" replied the officer with a smile of satisfaction. "I can tell you quite clearly, because I constructed nearly all our entrenchments. There, you see? There's our center, at Borodino, just there," and he pointed to the village in front of them with the white church. "That's where one crosses the Kolocha. You see down there where the rows of hay are lying in the hollow, there's the bridge. That's our center. Our right flank is over there"- he pointed sharply to the right, far away in the broken ground- "That's where the Moskva River is, and we have thrown up three redoubts there, very strong ones. The left flank..." here the officer paused. "Well, you see, that's difficult to explain.... Yesterday our left flank was there at Shevardino, you see, where the oak is, but now we have withdrawn our left wing- now it is over there, do you see that village and the smoke? That's Semenovsk, yes, there," he pointed to Raevski's knoll. "But the battle will hardly be there. His having moved his troops there is only a ruse; he will probably pass round to the right of the Moskva. But wherever it may be, many a man will be missing tomorrow!" he remarked.

An elderly sergeant who had approached the officer while he was giving these explanations had waited in silence for him to finish speaking, but at this point, evidently not liking the officer's remark, interrupted him.

"Gabions must be sent for," said he sternly.

The officer appeared abashed, as though he understood that one might think of how many men would be missing tomorrow but ought not to speak to speak of it.

"Well, send number three company again," the officer replied hurriedly.

"And you, are you one of the doctors?"

"No, I've come on my own," answered Pierre, and he went down the hill again, passing the militiamen.

"Oh, those damned fellows!" muttered the officer who followed him, holding his nose as he ran past the men at work.

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