passed on into a brilliantly
lighted room. The staff was quartered there. The general took a few
across the room, murmured something and stood still in front of Yakob.
is the man?' he
turned and looked at Yakob with his blue eyes that shot glances quick
lightning from under bushy grey eyebrows.
'It was I,'
'It was you
who showed them
became calmer. He felt
he would be able to make himself more quickly understood here. 'It was.'
brought them here?'
his hand over his
hair and shrank into himself again. He looked at the brilliant lights.
know what is the
punishment for that?'
came a step nearer;
Yakob felt overawed by the feeling of strength and power that emanated
from him. He was choking. Yes, he understood and yet did not
you got to say
he began, but stopped, for the general frowned and eyed him coldly.
looked towards the window and listened to hear the sound of wind and
The general was still looking at him, and so they stood for a moment
seemed an eternity to Yakob, the man in the field-grey uniform who
as if he had been sculptured in stone, and the quailing, shrunken,
form, covered with dirt and rags. Yakob felt as though a heavy weight
resting on him. Then both silently looked down.
back to the battalion.'
sound of the command
moved something in the souls of the soldiers, and took the enjoyment of
their sleep from them.
returned to the school-house.
The crowd, as though following a thief caught in the act, ran by their
room for the old
man in a shed, some one threw him a blanket. Soldiers were sleeping in
serried ranks. Their heavy breathing mixed with the sound of wind and
and the cold blue light of the moon embraced everything.
buried himself in the
straw, looked out through a hole in the boarding and wept bitterly.
you crying for?'
asked the sentry outside, and tapped his shoulder with his gun.
of your wife?'
the soldier gossiped, walking up and down outside the shed. 'You're
what good is your wife to you?' The soldier stopped and stretched his
till the joints cracked.
mind, they'll get on in the world without a helpless old man like you.'
silent, and the
soldier crouched down near him.
from the inside.
the soldier paced
up and down again, 'you are thinking of your cottage. I can understand
that. But do you think the cottage will be any the worse off for your
soldier's simple and
dour words outside in the blue night, his talk of Yakob's death, of his
own death which might come at any moment, slowly brought sleep to Yakob.