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Nikolai goes back to his regiment and is happy to realize that it’s his home away from home.
He’s living in relative poverty, since he’s trying to pay his parents back for the money he lost to Dolokhov.
Meanwhile, speaking of relative poverty – guess what? There’s no food at all for the soldiers. Like, to the point that they are digging up random plants from the ground and feeding their horses hay from the village roofs.
And still, morale is reasonably high, even though it’s the cold early spring. The regiment has lost half – HALF – of its soldiers to famine and disease. Hey, maybe that’s why the war isn’t going so well.
On one of his missions, Nikolai finds an old Polish man, his daughter, and the daughter’s baby. The old man is so sick that they can’t leave the area, but they are so destitute that they are about to die of hunger.
Nikolai takes them back to his hut and lets them stay there until the old man gets better. He has strong words with another officer who suggests they get better acquainted with the young woman. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.) Nikolai almost has a duel with this guy because to him the young woman feels like a sister that he has to protect.