War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy Book II: Chapters 9–21

Since early morning — despite an injunction not to approach the picket line — the officers had been unable to keep sight-seers away. The soldiers forming the picket line, like showmen exhibiting a curiosity, no longer looked at the French but paid attention to the sight-seers and grew weary waiting to be relieved. Prince Andrew halted to have a look at the French.

"Look! Look there!" one soldier was saying to another, pointing to a Russian musketeer who had gone up to the picket line with an officer and was rapidly and excitedly talking to a French grenadier."Hark to him jabbering! Fine, isn't it? It's all the Frenchy can do to keep up with him. There now, Sidorov!"

"Wait a bit and listen. It's fine!" answered Sidorov, who was considered an adept at French.

The soldier to whom the laughers referred was Dolokhov. Prince Andrew recognized him and stopped to listen to what he was saying. Dolokhov had come from the left flank where their regiment was stationed, with his captain.

"Now then, go on, go on!" incited the officer, bending forward and trying not to lose a word of the speech which was incomprehensible to him."More, please: more! What's he saying?"

Dolokhov did not answer the captain; he had been drawn into a hot dispute with the French grenadier. They were naturally talking about the campaign. The Frenchman, confusing the Austrians with the Russians, was trying to prove that the Russians had surrendered and had fled all the way from Ulm, while Dolokhov maintained that the Russians had not surrendered but had beaten the French.

"We have orders to drive you off here, and we shall drive you off," said Dolokhov.

"Only take care you and your Cossacks are not all captured!" said the French grenadier.

The French onlookers and listeners laughed.

"We'll make you dance as we did under Suvorov . . . ,"* said Dolokhov.

*"On vous fera danser."

"Qu' est-ce qu'il chante?"* asked a Frenchman.

*"What's he singing about?"

"It's ancient history," said another, guessing that it referred to a former war."The Emperor will teach your Suvara as he has taught the others . . ."

"Bonaparte . . ." began Dolokhov, but the Frenchman interrupted him.

"Not Bonaparte. He is the Emperor! Sacre nom . . . !" cried he angrily.

"The devil skin your Emperor."

And Dolokhov swore at him in coarse soldier's Russian and shouldering his musket walked away.

"Let us go, Ivan Lukich," he said to the captain.

"Ah, that's the way to talk French," said the picket soldiers."Now, Sidorov, you have a try!"

Sidorov, turning to the French, winked, and began to jabber meaningless sounds very fast:"Kari, mala, tafa, safi, muter, Kaska," he said, trying to give an expressive intonation to his voice.

"Ho! ho! ho! Ha! ha! ha! ha! Ouh! ouh!" came peals of such healthy and good-humored laughter from the soldiers that it infected the French involuntarily, so much so that the only thing left to do seemed to be to unload the muskets, muskets, explode the ammunition, and all return home as quickly as possible.

But the guns remained loaded, the loopholes in blockhouses and entrenchments looked out just as menacingly, and the unlimbered cannon confronted one another as before.

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