War and Peace Volume 3, Part 3, Chapter 25 Summary
On the morning of September 2, the French troops are coming into the city. Rastopchin has his carriage all ready to go when he sees a huge crowd of people outside his window.
This is the crowd we saw forming earlier on. They've kind of morphed into a freedom militia and have come to get orders from the governor.
Rastopchin freaks out at the sight of them.
He goes out on the porch and starts talking to the crowd, telling them that soon he’ll punish the villain who brought the French to Moscow.
Vereshchagin, the political prisoner, is led up to the porch. He’s a skinny young guy, all bedraggled and dirty.
Rastopchin starts screaming that this is the man who is responsible for the downfall of Moscow. The situation is crazily tense. It’s obvious some horrible thing is about to happen.
Suddenly Rastopchin yells for the crowd to kill Vereshchagin.
Vereshchagin starts to plead to the crowd that they all share the same God. But after another order to kill him, one of the officers who brought him in hits Vereshchagin on the head with the flat of his sword.
In a nightmarish, horrific, terrifying scene, the crowd rushes forward and kills this young man. It takes a long time. He lives through beating after beating, until finally he dies.
It’s totally nuts.
Rastopchin has a panic attack, but still manages to make it to his carriage and drive off.
In his head he immediately figures out a way to justify all of his behavior to himself.
Driving across a field to get out of the city, Rastopchin sees one of the people from the mental asylum running toward him. The man is clearly delusional, yelling about dying and being brought back to life three times over. For Rastopchin, this is all chilling, creepy and very apropos. He realizes that he will be scarred by Vereshchagin’s death for the rest of his life.