The battle. 1812, August 24th
The early morning was light, pink and wonderfully quiet. A field near the Kolotscky monastery seemed to be good for herds.
But now commands were heard instead of cowherds' horns, and the soldiers could be seen instead of cows or goats. The Lithuanian uhlans had just repelled the French attack, and now had time to catch their breath.
The idyllic landscape made Vera to reflect. Exhausting heat or icy wind, bullets whistling and roar of canons, permanent tire and fear -- once it all will stop.
The only thing Vera wanted -- to go home and never think about theses horrors. No doubt, many of her companions wanted that, too.
It was, however, impossible. "Cowardly soldier must not leave... It's a real sin to go back with such great people," -- she remembered what the war chiefs were saying.
Moreover, she supposed the country to need any, even the smallest, help.
A shtandard-bearer was killed in the battle of Smolensk. "Do not fail," -- he whispered, giving Vera, who was beside him, the flag. Once she helped a wounded officer of another regiment, having lent him her horse. "That's not enough," -- she thought, "I have to do more."
The dreams about rest and warmth were much more realistic. To be in heated hut, to lie on a bench and have a good sleep would be a delight after staying awake for many nights.
For a pity, these dreams did not become truth. "Squadron! March!" -- and her thoughts were interrupted, and everybody rushed.
She saw faces of Russians and Frenchmen, distorted by fear and anger; swords and pikes just in front of her eyes; their commander, having had gone behind the lines; and a dozen of injured and killed.
The attack ended, but there would be no break: the counteroffensive started.
And again there were shouts, moans, shots and commands. That was several times this morning, that is almost every day, -- but Vera could not get used to it.
Noise suddenly was changed with the tinnitus, and the billions of colored moving dots covered everything as a fog.
A cannonball had blown up, and Vera felt only a dull paint a bit lower than her knee.
Somewhere far canons still were roaring, but Vera was not up to them. She reached the aid point with a great difficulty and was waiting till any doctor stops his deals with seriously wounded and is able to help her.
She had no idea how much time she spent here -- an hour, two or maybe ten.
She lost consciousness and then regained it, and in such moments she was looking on the sky, covered by clouds, and on branches of a birch.
Yellowish-green leaves sometimes fell, rounding like butterflies; Vera was followed them blankly with her eyes, trying take her mind off pain.
Colored annoying numerous dots started their dance again. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds and seemed to be a candle. The fire went out, and Vera fainted once more.
"Nowhere were as many killed as today are amputated legs and arms," -- heard she, having came to herself. The doctor was staying not far and talking with an officer.
"Sure, I'm still delirious," -- she thought. A second ago she saw her sister Eugenia playing on the piano a song about king Heinrich. Now she saw Alexandr Ilyich.
He bowed to the officer and, having turned, noticed Vera. For a minute he was looking at her and then ran to Vera, took her fingers with his big warm palm and said: "Vera Andreevna! What are you doing here?!"
To be continued...