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Shinshin and a feisty German man are starting to get into it about the war. Shinshin is all, Russia should really stay out of this European nonsense and mind its own business. Meanwhile, the German is really gung-ho about kicking some Napoleonic hiney.
Shinshin suddenly turns to Nikolai and asks for his opinion.
Nikolai is fired up all of a sudden and busts out with this gem: “I’m convinced that the Russians must either die or conquer” (1.16.9). Um, OK, you’re like 17 or something. Maybe your judgment about the deaths of thousands of Russians is suspect?
But no, everyone is psyched for Nikolai.
Meanwhile, at the children’s end of the table, Natasha’s little brother double dog dares her to do something, and she agrees.
Natasha yells across the whole table of 80 guests, asking her mom what’s for dessert.
At first, everyone is totally OMG, she did not just do that! But she is so winning and charming that the guests just laugh at her impudence. (Natasha gets away with this stunt because she’s still more of a child than a young woman. If she were a little older, this would be a horrifying bad-manners move, kind of like the type of thing Pierre is always doing.)