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قراءة كتاب The Deluge: An Historical Novel of Poland, Sweden, and Russia. Vol. 2 (of 2)

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‏اللغة: English
The Deluge: An Historical Novel of Poland, Sweden, and Russia. Vol. 2 (of 2)

The Deluge: An Historical Novel of Poland, Sweden, and Russia. Vol. 2 (of 2)

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

know not whether guns would rouse them."

"Oh," said Charnyetski, raising his head, "of what are you thinking?"

"I am thinking of Zbaraj, how the besieged inflicted with sorties more than one great defeat on the ruffians."

"You are thinking of blood, like a wolf in the night."

"By the living God and his wounds, let us make a sortie! We will cut down men, spike guns! They expect no attack."

Charnyetski sprang to his feet.

"And in the morning they will go wild. They imagine, perhaps, that they have frightened us enough and we are thinking of surrender; they will get their answer. As I love God, 'tis a splendid idea, a real knightly deed! That should have come to my head too. But it is needful to tell all to Kordetski, for he is commander."

They went.

Kordetski was taking counsel in the chamber with Zamoyski. When he heard steps, he raised his voice and pushing a candle to one side, inquired,—

"Who is coming? Is there anything new?"

"It is I, Charnyetski," replied Pan Pyotr, "with me is Babinich; neither of us can sleep. We have a terrible odor of the Swedes. This Babinich, father, has a restless head and cannot stay in one place. He is boring me, boring; for he wants terribly to go to the Swedes beyond the walls to ask them if they will fire to-morrow also, or give us and themselves time to breathe."

"How is that?" inquired the prior, not concealing his astonishment "Babinich wants to make a sortie from the fortress?"

"In company, in company," answered Charnyetski, hurriedly, "with me and some others. They, it seems, are sleeping like dead men at the trenches; there is no fire visible, no sentries to be seen. They trust over much in our weakness."

"We will spike the guns," said Kmita.

"Give that Babinich this way!" exclaimed Zamoyski; "let me embrace him! The sting is itching, O hornet! thou wouldst gladly sting even at night. This is a great undertaking, which may have the finest results. God gave us only one Lithuanian, but that one an enraged and biting beast. I applaud the design; no one here will find fault with it. I am ready to go myself."

Kordetski at first was alarmed, for he feared bloodshed, especially when his own life was not exposed; after he had examined the idea more closely, he recognized it as worthy of the defenders.

"Let me pray," said he. And kneeling before the image of the Mother of God, he prayed a while, with outspread arms, and then rose with serene face.

"Pray you as well," said he; "and then go."

A quarter of an hour later the four went out and repaired to the walls. The trenches in the distance were sleeping. The night was very dark.

"How many men will you take?" asked Kordetski of Kmita.

"I?" answered Pan Andrei, in surprise. "I am not leader, and I do not know the place so well as Pan Charnyetski. I will go with my sabre, but let Charnyetski lead the men, and me with the others; I only wish to have my Soroka go, for he can hew terribly."

This answer pleased both Charnyetski and the prior, for they saw in it clear proof of submission. They set about the affair briskly. Men were selected, the greatest silence was enjoined, and they began to remove the beams, stones, and brick from the passage in the wall.

This labor lasted about an hour. At length the opening was ready, and the men began to dive into the narrow jaws. They had sabres, pistols, guns, and some, namely peasants, had scythes with points downward,—a weapon with which they were best acquainted.

When outside the wall they organized; Charnyetski stood at the head of the party, Kmita at the flank; and they moved along the ditch silently, restraining the breath in their breasts, like wolves stealing up to a sheepfold.

Still, at times a scythe struck a scythe, at times a stone gritted under a foot, and by those noises it was possible to know that they were pushing forward unceasingly. When they had come down to the plain, Charnyetski halted, and, not far from the enemy's trenches, left some of his men, under command of Yanich, a Hungarian, an old, experienced soldier; these men he commanded to lie on the ground. Charnyetski himself advanced somewhat to the right, and having now under foot soft earth which gave out no echo, began to lead forward his party more swiftly. His plan was to pass around the intrenchment, strike on the sleeping Swedes from the rear, and push them toward the cloister against Yanich's men. This idea was suggested by Kmita, who now marching near him with sabre in hand, whispered,—

"The intrenchment is extended in such fashion that between it and the main camp there is open ground. Sentries, if there are any, are before the trenches and not on this side of it, so that we can go behind freely, and attack them on the side from which they least expect attack."

"That is well," said Charnyetski; "not a foot of those men should escape."

"If any one speaks when we enter," continued Pan Andrei, "let me answer; I can speak German as well as Polish; they will think that some one is coming from Miller, from the camp."

"If only there are no sentries behind the intrenchments."

"Even if there are, we shall spring on in a moment; before they can understand who and what, we shall have them down."

"It is time to turn, the end of the trench can be seen," said Charnyetski; and turning he called softly, "To the right, to the right!"

The silent line began to bend. That moment the moon lighted a bank of clouds somewhat, and it grew clearer. The advancing men saw an empty space in the rear of the trench.

As Kmita had foreseen, there were no sentries whatever on that space; for why should the Swedes station sentries between their trenches and their own army, stationed in the rear of the trenches. The most sharp-sighted leader could not suspect danger from that side.

At that moment Charnyetski said in the lowest whisper; "Tents are now visible. And in two of them are lights. People are still awake there,—surely officers. Entrance from the rear must be easy."

"Evidently," answered Kmita. "Over that road they draw cannon, and by it troops enter. The bank is already at hand. Have a care now that arms do not clatter."

They had reached the elevation raised carefully with earth dug from so many trenches. A whole line of wagons was standing there, in which powder and balls had been brought.

But at the wagons, no man was watching; passing them, therefore, they began to climb the embankment without trouble, as they had justly foreseen, for it was gradual and well raised.

In this manner they went right to the tents, and with drawn weapons stood straight in front of them. In two of the tents lights were actually burning; therefore Kmita said to Charnyetski,—

"I will go in advance to those who are not sleeping. Wait for my pistol, and then on the enemy!" When he had said this, he went forward.

The success of the sortie was already assured; therefore he did not try to go in very great silence. He passed a few tents buried in darkness; no one woke, no one inquired, "Who is there?"

The soldiers of Yasna Gora heard the squeak of his daring steps and the beating of their own hearts. He reached the lighted tent, raised the curtain and entered, halted at the entrance with pistol in hand and sabre down on its strap.

He halted because the light dazzled him somewhat, for on the camp