to sob; he threw himself down at the soldiers' feet and wept bitterly,
as though he would weep out his soul and the marrow of his bones.
him up, almost
unconscious, and took him along the high road, under escort with fixed
bayonets. His tears fell fast upon the snow, and thus he came into his
own village, among his own people, pale
as a corpse,
in his heart.
dully at the blazing
wooden church-spire where it stood enveloped in flames as though
in an inflated glittering cloak. Dully he let his eyes wander over the
hedges and fences; everything seemed unreal, as things seen across a
wave or a downpour of rain, out of reach and strange.
standing where the
field-path joined the high road. The soldiers sat down on a heap of
and lighted their cigarettes.
over, looked at his own black shadow; fugitives arrived from the
village and swarmed past him; the rifle fire now sounded from the
of the mountains.
burst into flames. A blood-red glow inflated the clouds of smoke,
on the snow and ran over the pine-trees like gold.
were arriving from
that direction, streaming with blood, supported by their comrades.
looking at his shadow; fear was burning within him. He looked at the
above the awful chaos on the earth, and became calmer. He tried to
how it had all happened.
come, had given
him food. His wife and children were probably safe in the manor-house.
Blinking his swollen eyelids, he tried to deceive himself, crouched
near the guard who was smoking, and asked him for fire. His fear
He began to
to the soldier: 'I was sitting...the wind was moaning...' he told him
how he was sitting, what he had been thinking, how the shots had struck
put his rifle
between his knees, crossed his hands over his sleeves, spat out and
have had underhand
dealings with the Russians.'
showed them the
them the way
over here? Or did they find it on the map?'
the map,' assented
Yakob, as though he were quite convinced.
did?' said the
soldier, wagging his head.
repeated Yakob like
it wasn't I?'
said the soldier.
approached inquisitively to where Yakob was crouching.
mess you've made,'
one of them said, pointing to the wounded who were arriving across the
fields. 'Do you understand?'
his eyes on the
soldiers' boots, and would not look in that, direction. But he could
understand what it all meant...all this noise, and the firing that ran
from hill to hill.
this you've made,
looked up at them,
and had the sensation of being deep down at the bottom of a well
of crouching at their feet.