Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 14

By M.T. Anderson

Part 3, Chapter 14

  • We're still reading the same letter from Goring to his sis (it's a long one):
  • Goring's describing their march to Noddle's Island; everyone's silent and a little tense. No wonder—they keep expecting shots fired at them (it is a war after all).
  • Other companies are moving in the same direction too.
  • Then there's stampede of sheep—Parliament sheep that another company flushed out—that rushes by them. The sheep completely break the tension in the group. (Who can keep a straight face when you have fluffy white cuteness flying by you?)
  • But once the sheep pass, it's silent again… and then there's a popping sound.
  • The Captain tells Shem to survey the area, and Shem says the Redcoats are on the move.
  • The company continues moving in the direction of the Redcoats, but the horses are going crazy after all the popping sounds from earlier.
  • The men don't have a halter to control the horses, so the Captain says they have to shoot the horses since they can't not complete their mission.
  • The whole thing is pretty gory, and once the men start shooting, horses starting running everywhere, breaking their legs and smashing their skulls.
  • Foals get blasted and mares cry for their babies.
  • The men are then ordered to retreat and run around a hill.
  • The Corporal isn't happy; he thinks it was a waste of gunpowder to shoot the horses, but Captain Draper isn't taking the Corporal's backtalk—he says the Corporal will be another, as in another waste of a shot too.
  • They pass over a valley and some fields when they see smoke ahead of them; patriots have burned a barn full of hay down.
  • The men keep going to the edge of the island.
  • Fires are everywhere and livestock is streaming out of the hills toward Hog Island, and people are guiding the livestock across the Channel.
  • The men get into the water too, with the sheep.
  • Patriots from behind yell at them to keep running because Marines are behind them.
  • The men are freaked out and try to wade through the water is fast they can.
  • Ships start firing at the shoreline.
  • The men make it to the shoreline of Hog Island, where they throw themselves into a ditch and just lie there silently.
  • Goring tells Shun that while he was lying in that ditch, all he could think of was her and their mother and being home, working together in the garden, joking around—being at home, alive.

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