captain touched his
arm and asked the way.
far, not at all
group stood in
front of him by the side of their wolf-like ponies. He drew back into
his mind: 'After all, we did sit
two and two, like friends.'
to the left at the crossroads, then across the fields as far as
made a sign that
he did not understand.
will lose their way and make a fuss; then they will come back to the
and eat the meat. I will go with them as far as the cross-roads.'
down the road,
passed the clump of pine-trees which came out in a point beside the
and went along the valley on the slippery stones. A large block of ice
lay across the brook, shaped like a silver
it as with golden crescents. The snow creaked under the soldiers' feet.
Yakób walked beside them on his sandals, like a silent ghost.
straight on as
far as the cross,' he said, pointing to a dark object with a long
'I can't see anything,' said the captain. He accompanied them as far as
the cross, by the side of which stood a little shrine; the wan saint
wearing a crown of icicles.
point the village
could be seen across the fields. Yakób discovered that the chain
of lights which he had observed earlier in the evening, had come down
the mountains, for it now seemed to be close to the village.
reigned in the sleeping
world, every step could be heard.
silence filled Yakób's
heart with a wild fear; he turned round with a feeling of helplessness
and looked back at his cottage. Probably the fire was now going out; a
red glow appeared and disappeared on the
cross the road
lay through low-lying ground, and was crossed by another road which led
abruptly downwards into fields. Yakob hesitated.
old man, come on,'
they called to him, and walked on without waiting for his answer. The
dug their heels into the rugged ice of the road, and tumbled about in
directions. They had left
at the cross-roads.
Each one kept a close hold on his gun, so that there should be no
They were whispering to each other; it sounded as if a congregation
murmuring their prayers. Yakób led
mentally he held
fast to every bush, every lump of ice, saying to himself at every step
that now he was going to leave them, they could not miss the road now.
But he was afraid.
they had become taciturn as they pushed onwards, stumbling, breathing
'As far as
and then no more!'
of the drink was
passing off. He rubbed his eyes, drew his rags across his chest. 'What
was he doing, leading these people about on this night?'
the field-road crossed theirs; the soldiers in front and behind threw
down. It was as if the ground had swallowed them.
horse was standing
in the middle of the road, with extended nostrils. Its black mane,
with hoar-frost, was tossed about its head; the saddle-bags, which were
fur-lined, swung in the breeze; large
from its leg to the ground.
cursed the captain.
looked meekly at
them, and stretched its head forward submissively. Yakób was
for the creature; perhaps one could do something for it. He stood still
beside it, and again pointed out the road.
done enough, I shan't
go any further!' He scratched his head and smiled, thinking that this
a good opportunity for escape.