So, the wolf-hunting scene was… fairly horrifying. I can’t tell if Tolstoy meant us to go, “ugh, animal cruelty” or “yay, sport in the countryside.” Maybe the latter, because it starts off several chapters in which the Rostovs Do Traditional Stuff and Are Folksy and Russian Instead of Sophisticated and French.
Interestingly, their traditions include both Christmas mumming and trying to fortell one’s future husband by looking in a mirror in a dark room, both of which I knew in western variants.
While they’re both cross-dressed as part of the mumming, Nicholai suddenly remembers he’s in love with Sonya and proposes. Never let it be said this book goes for the obvious romantic cliché.
While the girls are fortune-telling with the mirror (still with mustaches drawn on their faces from earlier) Natasha asks Sonya to look on her behalf:
“Of course she will!” whispered Natasha, but did not finish… suddenly Sonya pushed away the glass she was holding and covered her eyes with her hand.
“Oh, Natasha!” she cried.
“Did you see? Did you? What was it?” exclaimed Natasha, holding up the looking glass.
Sonya had not seen anything, she was just wanting to blink and to get up when she heard Natasha say, “Of course she will!” She did not wish to disappoint either Dunyasha or Natasha, but it was hard to sit still. She did not herself know how or why the exclamation escaped her when she covered her eyes.
“You saw him?” urged Natasha, seizing her hand.
“Yes. Wait a bit… I… saw him,” Sonya could not help saying, not yet knowing whom Natasha meant by him, Nicholas or Prince Andrew.
“But why shouldn’t I say I saw something? Others do see! Besides who can tell whether I saw anything or not?” flashed through Sonya’s mind.
“Yes, I saw him,” she said.
“How? Standing or lying?”
“No, I saw… At first there was nothing, then I saw him lying down.”
“Andrew lying? Is he ill?” asked Natasha, her frightened eyes fixed on her friend.
“No, on the contrary, on the contrary! His face was cheerful, and he turned to me.” And when saying this she herself fancied she had really seen what she described.
“Well, and then, Sonya?…”
“After that, I could not make out what there was; something blue and red…”
This is kind of interesting, because if it does later turn out to be prophetic in some way, it would seem that the prophesy lies not in consciously seeing anything, but in what one’s mind prompts one to say about it afterward.
Oh, also Natasha is presently engaged to Prince Andrei, which is… either they’re perfect for one another or a hot mess, and no one (including themselves) seems to know which.