hissed the captain
so venomously in his ear that he marched forward without delay; they
A dull fear
mixed with resentment
gripped him with terrible force. He now ran at the head like a sheep
stopped in front of
the cottage, silent, breathless, expectant.
looked at his companions
with boundless astonishment. Their faces under their fur-caps had a
cruel look, their brows were wrinkled, their eyes glittered.
sides other Cossacks
only now that
there were some lying concealed behind the fence on the straw in a
shuddered; thick drops
of perspiration stood on his forehead. The beating of his heart filled
his head like the noise of a hammer, it seemed to fill everything. In
of the feeling that he was being forced to do this thing, he again
the voice calling: 'Yakob, Yakob!'
hillock where Gregor's
cottage stood, they advanced on all fours.
clambered upwards, thinking
of his wife, and of the cow he had loosed. Fear veiled his eyes, he saw
black spots dancing.
cottage was empty
as a graveyard. It had been abandoned; the open doors creaked on their
hinges. Under the window stood a cradle, covered with snow.
the soldiers surrounded
the cottage, and Yakob went with them, as though mesmerized by terror,
mute and miserable.
hardly got round,
when a red glow shot up from the other side of the village. The
threw themselves down in the snow.
thundering of guns began
on all sides; blood-red lights came flying overhead. An appalling noise
broke out, reinforced by the echo from the mountains, as though the
world were going to perish. The Cossacks advanced, trembling.
advanced with them,
for the captain had hit him across the head. He saw stars when he
the blow, gesticulated wildly, and staggered along the road.
road running out from the forest like a silver thread. As they
they came under a diabolically heavy rifle fire; bullets were raining
them from all sides.
there he heard moans
already, when one of the soldiers fell bleeding on the snow. Close to
fell the young Cossack who had given him the muffler and breeches. He
out his hand, groaning. Yakob
stop, but the
captain would not let him, but rapped him over the head again with his
soldiers lay in heaps.
The rest wavered, fell back, hid in the ditch or threw themselves down.
The rifle-fire came nearer, the outlines and faces of the advancing
could already be distinguished. Another blow on the head stretched
to the ground, and he feigned death. The Cossacks retreated, the others
advanced, and he understood that they belonged to his friends.
When he got
up, he was immediately
surrounded by them, taken by the scruff of the neck and so violently
that he tumbled on his knees. Gunfire was roaring from the mountains,
of soldiers flitted past him, the wounded Cossacks groaned in the snow.
Young, well-nourished looking men were bending over him.
into their faces,
he crossed his hands over his chest and laughed joyfully.
Russians...the villains!' he croaked, 'aho, aho, ho hurlai!' He rolled
his tear-filled eyes.
and fast. From where the chimney stood close to the water, near the
the village was burning. He could feel the heat and soot and hear the
of the crowd through the noise of the gunfire. Now he would see his
and children again, the friendly soldiers surely had saved them. The
Cossack was still struggling on the ground; now he stretched himself
villains!' Yakob repeated; the great happiness which filled his heart
to his lips in incoherent babblings. 'The villains, they have served me
He felt his
crouched on his heels and got up. The fleshy red faces were still
close to him, breathing harder and harder. Fear rose and fell in him
the flames of the burning village; again
up in indescribable noise.