Aspley turned slowly. He had been washed ashore on the island, and in a daze, a delirium, had stumbled from the beach and into this building. He had no idea where he was or how he had come to be there. No explanations to soothe the rushing of his frantic mind. But then his intellect cut in. Reason, lovely, lovely reason, told him, in all its wisdom, that wherever he was it was preferable to where he had been, preferable, dear god, yes, to the horror of sucking seawater into his lungs.
I saw my men, who had been the cream of the III Corps, gladly charge well-fed, well-shod Cossacks with nothing but the bayonet and stock of the musket frozen in their hands, barefoot and starving. I admired them for their courage. I envied it. Because I had lost what I most cared for: the calculus of risk, and in its disregard, of bravery. That month of frimaire, I learned that nothing could end my life. I was no longer human.
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