The Way of the Cross/VIII
|←VII. At the Cross-Roads||The Way of the Cross by , translated by Stephen Graham
|IX. Along the Kief Road→|
AND behold, we are in the province of Minsk.
Look, over there is where it began.
We go along the high-road at a footpace, as if in a town amid heavy traffic.
They are driving cattle along the road.
They drive the cattle here also, and sell them at the "points" to make soup for refugees.
The hungry cows blunder among the carts, and put up their forefeet on to the backs of them in order to pull out hay.
Cattle, relief cars, stray horses wandering about by themselves, peasant women, road menders, police, soldiers,—all in one great mass.
And dust, dust like a wall.
Dust in which nothing is seen.
In which you travel as in smoke, as in a dense fog.
And when we drove out at last on the shore of the River Berezina, tortured, overwhelmed by all that we had seen, suffocating with dust, from the heat of the road,—I for the first time since Rogachef, took a full breath.
And down below, on the lower shore, look where you would, there burned in the setting twilight and kindled redder and more red—bonfires.
And a multitude of carts over the extent of which you could not throw the eyes.
Bobruisk—that is the first stopping-place where the oncoming crowds of people stumble under the burden of the Cross.
Here for the first time on the road, the first of the exhausted:
—Deprive themselves of the last thing.
Cease to be "muzhiks."
Give up their horses.
And take their seats:
—Na mashinu, on the train.
They carry them away.
And in their place come on like a continuous wall, newer and ever newer hordes.
And overwhelmed Bobruisk trembles in terror.
—They suffocate us.
—What will happen to us?
Whatever will become of these people?