Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book I, Volume III, Chapter XIII

More time before battle. Nikolai is on his horse with the hussars, in a mist, unable to tell where he is going. Furthermore, he’s falling asleep, so there is an ongoing accounting of his fantasy of pleasing the sovereign and other flashes from his life.

Suddenly, there are noises and fires that are confusing. Bagration tells him to ride up, when he volunteers, to see if there are still sentries posted where they were. They’re still there, and shoot at him. Dolgorukov keeps saying they’re in retreat, with just a small group making noise in the rear to cover it up. Rostov asks to be put in the front line for the battle tomorrow, hopefully to serve the Sovereign. Dolgorukov asks when told his name if he is Ilya Andreich’s son. He does not answer.

Then we’re given the text of a letter from Napoleon, who tells his troops he will lead them himself. The noise is the troops lighting things on fire and celebrating his walking among them (as fired up as Nikolai is – I wonder if that’s where “fired up” comes from). Napoleon knows that they are going attack, and will expose their flank. I do not have high hopes for this battle.

I love one point in this chapter when Nikolai is saying how he would love to kill for the sovereign, but not only kill, but bring the prisoner before the sovereign and slap him in the face. It seems almost comical now, but was obviously quite the shaming. How times have changed.

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