那年晚夏，我们住在乡 村一幢房子里，望得见隔着河流和平原的那些高山。河床里有鹅卵石和大圆石头，在阳光下又干又白，河水清澈，河流湍急，深处一泓蔚蓝。部队打从房子边走上大 路，激起尘土，洒落在树叶上，连树干上也积满了尘埃。那年树叶早落，我们看着部队在路上开着走，尘土飞扬，树叶给微风吹得往下纷纷掉坠，士兵们开过之后， 路上白晃晃，空空荡荡，只剩下一片落叶。
有时在黑暗中，我们听得见部队从窗下走过的声响，还有摩托牵引车拖着大炮经过的响声。夜里交通频繁，路上有许多驮着弹药箱的驴子，运送士兵的灰色卡 车，还有一种卡车，装的东西用帆布盖住，开起来缓慢一点。白天也有用牵引车拖着走的重炮，长炮管用青翠的树枝遮住，牵引车本身也盖上青翠多叶的树枝和葡萄 藤。朝北我们望得见山谷后边有一座栗树树林，林子后边，在河的这一边，另有一道高山。那座山峰也有争夺战，不过不顺手，而当秋天一到，秋雨连绵，栗树上的 叶子都掉了下来，就只剩下赤裸裸的树枝和被雨打成黑黝黝的树干。葡萄园中的枝叶也很稀疏光秃；乡间样样东西都是湿漉漉的，都是褐色的，触目秋意萧索。河上 罩雾，山间盘云，卡车在路上溅泥浆，士兵披肩淋湿，身上尽是烂泥；他们的来福枪也是湿的，每人身前的皮带上挂有两个灰皮子弹盒，里面满装着一排排又长又窄 的六点五毫米口径的子弹，在披肩下高高突出，当他们在路上走过时，乍一看，好像是些怀孕六月的妇人。
路上时有灰色小汽车疾驰而过，驾驶员座位边每每有一位军官，车子的后座上还坐着几位军官。这些小汽车溅泥泼水，比军用大卡车还要厉害。如果车子后座 上有一个小个子，坐在两位将军中间，矮小得连脸都看不见，只看得见他的军帽顶和他那细窄的背影，而且车子又开得特别快的话，那么那小个子可能就是国王。他 住在乌迪内①，几乎天天这样子来视察战况，无奈战况不佳。
In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.
The plain was rich with crops; there were many orchards of fruit trees and beyond the plain the mountains were brown and bare. There was fighting in the mountains and at night we could see the flashes from the artillery. In the dark it was like summer lightning, but the nights were cool and there was not the feeling of a storm coming.
Sometimes in the dark we heard the troops marching under the window and guns going past pulled by motor-tractors. There was much traffic at night and many mules on the roads with boxes of ammunition on each side of their pack-saddles and gray motor trucks that carried men, and other trucks with loads covered with canvas that moved slower in the traffic. There were big guns too that passed in the day drawn by tractors, the long barrels of the guns covered with green branches and green leafy branches and vines laid over the tractors. To the north we could look across a valley and see a forest of chestnut trees and behind it another mountain on this side of the river. There was fighting for that mountain too, but it was not successful, and in the fall when the rains came the leaves all fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain. The vineyards were thin and bare-branched too and all the country wet and brown and dead with the autumn. There were mists over the river and clouds on the mountain and the trucks splashed mud on the road and the troops were muddy and wet in their capes; their rifles were wet and under their capes the two leather cartridge-boxes on the front of the belts, gray leather boxes heavy with the packs of clips of thin, long 6.5 mm. cartridges, bulged forward under the capes so that the men, passing on the road, marched as though they were six months gone with child.
There were small gray motor cars that passed going very fast; usually there was an officer on the seat with the driver and more officers in the back seat. They splashed more mud than the camions even and if one of the officers in the back was very small and sitting between two generals, he himself so small that you could not see his face but only the top of his cap and his narrow back, and if the car went especially fast it was probably the King. He lived in Udine and came out in this way nearly every day to see how things were going, and things went very badly.
At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army.