"I will, your excellency," said Timokhin, showing by his smile that he understood his commander's wish.
"Well, of course, of course!"
The regimental commander sought out Dolokhov in the ranks and, reining in his horse, said to him:
"After the next affair . . . epaulettes."
Dolokhov looked round but did not say anything, nor did the mocking smile on his lips change.
"Well, that's all right," continued the regimental commander."A cup of vodka for the men from me," he added so that the soldiers could hear."I thank you all! God be praised!" and he rode past that company and overtook the next one.
"Well, he's really a good fellow, one can serve under him," said Timokhin to the subaltern beside him.
"In a word, a hearty one . . ." said the subaltern, laughing (the regimental commander was nicknamed King of Hearts).
The cheerful mood of their officers after the inspection infected the soldiers. The company marched on gaily. The soldiers' voices could be heard on every side.
"And they said Kutuzov was blind of one eye?"
"And so he is! Quite blind!"
"No, friend, he is sharper-eyed than you are. Boots and leg bands . . . he noticed everything . . ."
"When he looked at my feet, friend . . . well, thinks I . . ."
"And that other one with him, the Austrian, looked as if he were smeared with chalk — as white as flour! I suppose they polish him up as they do the guns."
"I say, Fedeshon! . . . Did he say when the battles are to begin? You were near him. Everybody said that Buonaparte himself was at Braunau."
"Buonaparte himself! . . . Just listen to the fool, what he doesn't know! The Prussians are up in arms now. The Austrians, you see, are putting them down. When they've been put down, the war with Buonaparte will begin. And he says Buonaparte is in Braunau! Shows you're a fool. You'd better listen more carefully!"
"What devils these quartermasters are! See, the fifth company is turning into the village already . . . they will have their buckwheat cooked before we reach our quarters."
"Give me a biscuit, you devil!"
"And did you give me tobacco yesterday? That's just it, friend! Ah, well, never mind, here you are."
"They might call a halt here or we'll have to do another four miles without eating."
"Wasn't it fine when those Germans gave us lifts! You just sit still and are drawn along."
"And here, friend, the people are quite beggarly. There they all seemed to be Poles — all under the Russian crown — but here they're all regular Germans."
"Singers to the front" came the captain's order.
And from the different ranks some twenty men ran to the front. A drummer, their leader, turned round facing the singers, and flourishing his arm, began a long-drawn-out soldiers' song, commencing with the words:"Morning dawned, the sun was rising," and concluding:"On then, brothers, on to glory, led by Father Kamenski." This song had been composed in the Turkish campaign and now being sung in Austria, the only change being that the words"Father Kamenski" were replaced by"Father Kutuzov."
Having jerked out these last words as soldiers do and waved his arms as if flinging something to the ground, the drummer — a lean, handsome soldier of forty — looked sternly at the singers and screwed up his eyes. Then having satisfied himself that all eyes were fixed on him, he raised both arms as if carefully lifting some invisible but precious object above his head and, holding it there for some seconds, suddenly flung it down and began:
"Oh, my bower, oh, my bower . . . !"
"Oh, my bower new . . . !" chimed in twenty voices, and the castanet player, in spite of the burden of his equipment, rushed out to the front and, walking backwards before the company, jerked his shoulders and flourished his castanets as if threatening someone. The soldiers, swinging their arms and keeping time spontaneously, marched with long steps. Behind the company the sound of wheels, the creaking of springs, and the tramp of horses' hoofs were heard. Kutuzov and his suite were returning to the town. The commander in chief made a sign that the men should continue to march at ease, and he and all his suite showed pleasure at the sound of the singing and the sight of the dancing soldier and the gay and smartly marching men. In the second file from the right flank, beside which the carriage passed the company, a blue-eyed soldier involuntarily attracted notice. It was Dolokhov marching with particular grace and boldness in time to the song and looking at those driving past as if he pitied all who were not at that moment marching with the company. The hussar cornet of Kutuzov's suite who had mimicked the regimental commander, fell back from the carriage and rode up to Dolokhov.
Hussar cornet Zherkov had at one time, in Petersburg, belonged to the wild set led by Dolokhov. Zherkov had met Dolokhov abroad as a private and had not seen fit to recognize him. But now that Kutuzov had spoken to the gentleman ranker, he addressed him with the cordiality of an old friend.
"My dear fellow, how are you?" said he through the singing, making his horse keep pace with the company.
"How am I?" Dolokhov answered coldly."I am as you see."
The lively song gave a special flavor to the tone of free and easy gaiety with which Zherkov spoke, and to the intentional coldness of Dolokhov's reply.
"And how do you get on with the officers?" inquired Zherkov.
"All right. They are good fellows. And how have you wriggled onto the staff?"
"I was attached; I'm on duty."
Both were silent.
"She let the hawk fly upward from her wide right sleeve," went the song, arousing an involuntary sensation of courage and cheerfulness. Their conversation would probably have been different but for the effect of that song.
"Is it true that Austrians have been beaten?" asked Dolokhov.
"The devil only knows! They say so."
"I'm glad," answered Dolokhov briefly and clearly, as the song demanded.
"I say, come round some evening and we'll have a game of faro!" said Zherkov.
"Why, have you too much money?"
"I can't. I've sworn not to. I won't drink and won't play till I get reinstated."
"Well, that's only till the first engagement."
"We shall see."
They were again silent.
"Come if you need anything. One can at least be of use on the staff . . ."
Dolokhov smiled."Don't trouble. If I want anything, I won't beg- I'll take it!"
"Well, never mind; I only . . ."
"And I only . . ."
"Good health . . ."
"It's a long, long way. To my native land . . ."
Zherkov touched his horse with the spurs; it pranced excitedly from foot to foot uncertain with which to start, then settled down, galloped past the company, and overtook the carriage, still keeping time to the song.