Their burly guardians paid little attention to them; in short sentences which the wind seemed to rend, they were talking to their only young companion who stood leaning on his gun as in summer shepherds lean upon their staffs.
Quite a boy he was, eighteen or nineteen perhaps. He was staring into the night with a dreamy expression in his large green eyes. The snowflakes whirled about him, settling in layers upon the fur of his cap, catching even on to his eyelashes that were long and extraordinarily strong; this made him pass his hand occasionally over his face.
“Vasile, the fire is going out!” growled one of the elder men. “Before this damned night is over, we shall all die of cold!”
“We ought not to have lost our way,” grumbled one of the others.
“We did not do so on purpose,” said the first again, a certain Andrei Scurtu, leader of the small detachment in charge of the prisoners. His temper was as short as his name and the ot