“Wood—wood! I was to find wood,” he grumbled. “Where in this damned desert is there any wood I wonder! My God, what a night!
The wind cuts like a whip and the snow it drives into my face pricks like pine-needles,—but where in the devil am I to find wood!”
Vasile stood still slapping his sides with his numbed hands. In his aimless wanderings he had not stuck to the road; he had just blindly tramped into the night. He could not see much, but here and there were darker patches in the snow where its covering was thin; shapeless mounds that might be anything, a heap of stones, a dead horse, a rotting pile of straw—in the uncanny solitude of the night they might also have a more sinister meaning—anything was possible in time of war.
Clear voice took
Vasile shuddered, and again the vision of the peaceful village rose before him: once more he saw the pyramids of orange pumpkins and from behind some hedge a girl’s clear voice took up the refrain of the “dolna” the youth had been whistling.
“But I must find wood!” exclaimed Vasile, driving away those pictures of peace. “The others are freezing and I cannot go on wandering all the night.”
Again he looked about him and it seemed to him that he perceived the darker line of the high road not very far off—it would be easier walking on the high road.
Slowly and painfully he began picking his way towards that trodden path; the ground was uneven, he was weary, his feet terribly cold.
All of a sudden he stood still with a start—what was that over there? Three gaunt specters standing side by side—three weird solitary ske-letons rising dimly out of the night!
His heart began to beat, a sudden moisture wetted the middle of his palms—what was it! How devilish lonely was the night! But after all why should he be afraid? Ghosts were ghosts—pretty harmless—to meet a live Bosch were surely worse! But at that moment in his heart of hearts Vasile was not certain that he would not have preferred a Bosch!
Overcoming his reluctance with an effort. Vasile strode towards the three specters which stood quite still allowing him to approach—three crosses! three solitary weather-beaten crosses of wood! three forsaken graves!