War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Volume 2, Part 4, Chapter 10 Summary
- Natasha sits down with her brother and cousin to talk about deep thoughts.
- The deep thoughts of the day? The feeling that everything good has already happened. (Um, guys, remember, she’s 17 years old – this might be kind of making fun of teen angst just a little bit.)
- That conversation peters out pretty fast and they start to talk about memories from childhood. The piano tutor joins them and the conversation turns to the idea of universal memory – that if you try hard enough you’ll be able to remember your ancestors’ memories. (Shmoop aside: that’s unlikely.)
- Suddenly Countess Rostov demands that Natasha sing her a song, so the little talk is over. Natasha is an amazing, alluring singer. Everyone is captivated until Petya runs into the room and interrupts them to announce that the mummers are here.
- Natasha startles and starts sobbing for no apparent reason. She's just moody.
- But here come the mummers, and the fun begins.
- Mummers? Like in Philadelphia? OK, time for a Shmoop scoop. One of the folk traditions for the winter solstice celebrations called Svyatki, which happens for the twelve days after Christmas, is mumming. Basically this involves putting on a silly costume and going around to neighbors’ houses to sing songs, dance, and generally be entertaining. It’s like a mix of Halloween and Christmas caroling. Mumming is still a big thing some places, mostly in England, but in Russia it was outlawed in 1917 when the communists took over and decided no more fun for anyone.
- The Rostov kids decide to get dressed up, join the mummers, and go to town. Natasha and Sonya dress like military men, and Nikolai puts on ladies’ clothing. Ooh, naughty, naughty.
- Sonya looks way hot with a mustache and dark eyebrows. There’s something in the air, and she feels like the night is going to be special in some way.
- They get into two troikas (sleighs pulled by three horses), with Nikolai behind the reins of one and Count Rostov’s coachman driving the other.
- They start to race each other across the snow, and everyone is having a great time. Nikolai keeps checking Sonya out and falling more and more in love with her under her male drag.
- He then has kind of an out-of-body moment where he’s amazed at the snow and the countryside.
- Finally, they get to Melyukovka, a nearby estate.
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