Vasile shrugged his shoulders. “As you will,” he said, slinging his gun upon his back and without further protest set out, wading with stiff movements through the deep uneven snow, little caring which way he went, for verily where could he find fuel?… it was night… the plain was bare… there were no huts anywhere, no trees, no enclosures, nothing… not even an old wooden well… what could he find?… Stumbling and resigned, Vasile tramped into the night’s immensity.
As he trudged along in the dark Vasile had many thoughts, confused thoughts, but thoughts nevertheless, and even visions, happy visions that had nothing to do with either winter or war.
He saw a fruitful valley through which ran a long, long dusty road leading to a village half hidden amongst fruit-trees. It was the hour of sunset and a herd of oxen was returning along the road guarded by a youth who sauntered behind them, a green switch in his hand. The youth was whistling a melancholy peace-filled “doi’na,” whistling it over and over again—always the same doi’na.
Unconsciously Vasile’s lips tried to whistle the tune, but they were cracked by the frost and only a few weird notes rang out into the night.
But the youth was still sauntering along the road at sunset; the dust raised by the oxen powdered his hands and his face.
The road was long, but there was no hurry; neither the youth nor the creatures cared much about time.
On reaching the village the solemn gray oxen turned each one to his stable… the herd diminishing as the youth went along.
He flourished his switch in the air as he advanced still whistling his song.
Some little children with a family of earth-colored pigs that had been grubbing in the road scurried away on all sides as they passed. The pigs had curly little tails and ridiculous stiff, skipping movements, the children were noisy and half naked, scarcely covered by their ragged shirts.
In front of nearly each house large pyramids of pumpkins had been heaped up and long strings of scarlet “ardei” hung from the porches like giant necklaces of barbaric beads. A haze of dust and lazy content lay fiver the entire village; it was all full of peace… peace… peace… and the youth was striding back to his love.
Vasile stumbled over something in the dark and came heavily down on his knees. The fall was soft, as the snow was deep, but the warm visions vanished. He was once more alone and shivering in the night, whilst out of the far distance the cannon’s voice forced reality back upon him.