"No, no, Fritz Kober," said Charles Henry, in a voice so soft and sweet, that Fritz was confused and bewildered by it. "No, Fritz, I understand you fully. You have the heart of an angel; you only pretend that this coat is too narrow for you that you may induce me to take the one you have already warmed."
It was well that Fritz had his back turned to the moon, otherwise his friend would have seen that his face was crimson; he blushed as if detected in some wicked act. However, he tore the uniform away from Charles Henry rather roughly, and hastened to put it on.
"Folly," said he, "the coat squeezes me, that is all! Besides, it is not wise to fool away our time in silly talking. Let us go onward."
"Directly over the battle-field?" said Charles Henry, shuddering.
"Directly over the battle-field," said Kober, "because that is the nearest way."
"Come, then," said Charles, giving him his hand.
It was indeed a fearful path through which they must walk. They passed by troops of corpses--by thousands of groaning, rattling, dying men--by many severely wounded, who cried out to them piteously for mercy and help! Often Charles Henry hesitated and stood still to offer consolation to the unhappy wretches, but Fritz Kober drew him on. "We cannot help them, and we have far to go!" Often the swarming Cossacks, dashing around on their agile little ponies, called to them from afar off in their barbarous speech, but when they drew near and saw the Austrian uniforms, they passed them quietly, and were not surprised they had not given the pass-word.
At last they passed the battle-field, and came on the open plain, at the end of which they perceived the camp-fires of the Russians and Austrians. The nearer they approached, the more lively was the scene. Shouts, laughter, loud calls, and outcries--from time to time a word of command. And in the midst of this mad confusion, here and there soldiers were running, market-women offering them wares cheap, and exulting soldiers assembling around the camp-fires. From time to time the regular step of the patrouille was heard, who surrounded the camp, and kept a watchful eye in every direction.