War and Peace Volume 2, Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary
Emperor Alexander rides up to a nearby square, where he meets Napoleon, who is also riding up.
Nikolai notices that Napoleon is not so great on horseback.
Also, he gets offended that Napoleon pretty much treats Alexander as an equal. To Nikolai, it seems like Napoleon’s smile and everything he says is phony.
Anyway, Napoleon asks for Alexander to name the bravest Russian soldier so he can give him the highest French medal.
Alexander asks the colonel in charge of the guards standing at attention nearby, and that guy picks out one of them, Lazarev, clearly at random.
Napoleon awards Lazarev the Legion of Honor.
Later that day, Lazarev is the toast of the town. There is a huge feast, and everyone is congratulating him.
Nikolai meanwhile is starting to hallucinate about the hospital he just saw and the smell of the dead people.
After eating a little and drinking a lot, he almost picks a fight with a guy who starts arguing about the peace, saying that Napoleon could have been beaten if only they’d waited longer. Nikolai starts yelling that no one has the right to question the emperor, because the next step is questioning God. Um, settle down.
The other guy chalks it up to drunkenness and orders another round.