第二年打了好几场胜 仗。山谷后边那座高山和那个有栗树树林的山坡，已经给拿了下来，而南边平原外的高原上也打了胜仗，于是我们八月渡河，驻扎在哥里察②一幢房子里。这房屋有 喷水池，有个砌有围墙的花园，园中栽种了好多茂盛多荫的树木，屋子旁边还有一棵紫藤，一片紫色。现在战争在好几道高山外进行，而不是近在一英里外了。小镇 很好，我们的屋子也挺好。小镇后边是河，前边是些高山，高山还由奥军占据着。这小镇打下来时打得漂亮，奥军大概希望战后再回小镇来住，所以现在从山顶上开 起炮来，除了小规模的军事例行行动以外，并不乱轰，这情况叫我心情愉快。镇上照常有人居住，有医院和咖啡店，有炮队驻扎在小街上，有两家妓院，一家招待士 兵，一家招待军官，加上夏季已过，夜凉如水，战争又在镇外的丛山间进行。这儿有一座弹痕累累的铁路桥，有河边炸毁的地道——从前这儿争战过——有绕着广场 周围的树木，而通向广场的路上，又有一长排一长排的树木；此外，镇上又有姑娘，而国王乘车经过时，有时可以看到他的脸，他那长脖子的小身体，和他那一簇好 像山羊髯一般的灰须；这一切，再加上镇上有些房屋，因被炮弹炸去一道墙壁，内部突然暴露，倒塌下来的泥灰碎石，堆积在花园里，有时还倒塌在街上，还有卡索 ①前线，一切顺利，凡此种种，使得今年秋天比起去年困居乡下的秋天，大不相同。况且战局也好转了。
小镇外高山上的橡树林，现在没有了。我们初到小镇时，正在夏日，树林青翠，但是现在已只剩有断桩残干，地面上则给炮弹炸得四分五裂。这一年秋末的一 天，我正在原来有树林的地点徘徊，看见一块云朝山顶飞来。云块飞得好快，太阳转眼成为晦暗的黄色，祥样东西都变成灰的，天空已被乌云遮蔽住，接着云块落在 山上，突然间落到我们身上，那时候才知道原来是雪。雪在风中横飞斜落，掩盖了赤裸的大地，只有树木的残干突了出来。大炮上也盖上了雪，而战壕后边通向便所 去的雪地上，已有人走出了几条雪径。
后来我回到小镇。我跟一个朋友坐在军官妓院里，两只酒杯，一瓶阿斯蒂②，望着窗外下得又迟缓又沉重的大雪，我们知道今年战事是结束了。河上游那些高 山，并没有攻打下来；河对面的峻岭，一座也没有打下来。那都得等到明年再说。我的朋友看见我们同饭堂的那个教士③小心地踏着半融的雪，打街上走过，于是便 敲敲窗子，引起教士的注意，教士抬起头来。他看见是我们，笑了一笑。我的朋友招手叫他进来。他摇摇头，走了。那天夜晚，在饭堂里吃到实心面这一道菜，人人 吃得又快又认真，用叉子高高卷起面条，等到零星的面条都离开了盘子才朝下往嘴里送，不然便是不住地叉起面条用嘴巴吮，吃面的时候，我们还从用干草盖好的加 仑大酒瓶里斟酒喝；酒瓶就挂在一个铁架子上，你用食指一扳下酒瓶的脖子，又清又红的带单宁酸味的美酒便流进你用同一只手所拿的杯子里。大家吃完面后，上尉 便找教士开玩笑取乐。
② 哥里察在意奥边境上，大战前原属奥匈帝国，1916 年8 月被意军攻克。
① 卡索高原在意大利东北部，1917 年发生重要战役。哥里察就在卡索高原上。
“他应当玩玩好姐儿。我给你开一些那不勒斯的地址。美丽年轻的姐儿——由做母亲的陪着。哈！哈！哈！“上尉摊开全部手指，拇指向上，其他手指展开 着，好像是在灯光下在墙上演手影戏似的。现在墙上有了他的手影。他又用不纯粹的意大利语讲话了。“你去的时候像这个，“他指着拇指，“回来时像这个，“他 指着小指，人人大笑。
“看啊，“上尉说。他又摊开手。烛光又把他的手影打在墙上。他开始从拇指数起，按着指头，逐一喊出它们的名字，“‘索多—田兰’（拇指），‘田兰’ （食指），‘甲必丹诺’（中指），‘马佐’（无名指），‘田兰—科涅罗’（小指）。②你去的时候索多—田兰！回来时田兰—科涅罗！“大家大笑。上尉的指戏 很成功。他看着教士嚷道：“每天晚上教士五对一！“大家又是一场大笑。
The next year there were many victories. The mountain that was beyond the valley and the hillside where the chestnut forest grew was captured and there were victories beyond the plain on the plateau to the south and we crossed the river in August and lived in a house in Gorizia that had a fountain and many thick shady trees in a walled garden and a wistaria vine purple on the side of the house. Now the fighting was in the next mountains beyond and was not a mile away. The town was very nice and our house was very fine. The river ran behind us and the town had been captured very handsomely but the mountains beyond it could not be taken and I was very glad the Austrians seemed to want to come back to the town some time, if the war should end, because they did not bombard it to destroy it but only a little in a military way. People lived on in it and there were hospitals and cafe and artillery up side streets and two bawdy houses, one for troops and one for officers, and with the end of the summer, the cool nights, the fighting in the mountains beyond the town, the shell-marked iron of the railway bridge, the smashed tunnel by the river where the fighting had been, the trees around the square and the long avenue of trees that led to the square; these with there being girls in the town, the King passing in his motor car, sometimes now seeing his face and little long necked body and gray beard like a goat's chin tuft; all these with the sudden interiors of houses that had lost a wall through shelling, with plaster and rubble in their gardens and sometimes in the street, and the whole thing going well on the Carso made the fall very different from the last fall when we had been in the country. The war was changed too.
The forest of oak trees on the mountain beyond the town was gone. The forest had been green in the summer when we had come into the town but now there were the stumps and the broken trunks and the ground torn up, and one day at the end of the fall when I was out where the oak forest had been I saw a cloud coming over the mountain. It came very fast and the sun went a dull yellow and then everything was gray and the sky was covered and the cloud came on down the mountain and suddenly we were in it and it was snow. The snow slanted across the wind, the bare ground was covered, the stumps of trees projected, there was snow on the guns and there were paths in the snow going back to the latrines behind trenches.
Later, below in the town, I watched the snow falling, looking out of the window of the bawdy house, the house for officers, where I sat with a friend and two glasses drinking a bottle of Asti, and, looking out at the snow falling slowly and heavily, we knew it was all over for that year. Up the river the mountains had not been taken; none of the mountains beyond the river had been taken. That was all left for next year. My friend saw the priest from our mess going by in the street, walking carefully in the slush, and pounded on the window to attract his attention. The priest looked up. He saw us and smiled. My friend motioned for him to come in. The priest shook his head and went on. That night in the mess after the spaghetti course, which every one ate very quickly and seriously, lifting the spaghetti on the fork until the loose strands hung clear then lowering it into the mouth, or else using a continuous lift and sucking into the mouth, helping ourselves to wine from the grass-covered gallon flask; it swung in a metal cradle and you pulled the neck of the flask down with the forefinger and the wine, clear red, tannic and lovely, poured out into the glass held with the same hand; after this course, the captain commenced picking on the priest.
The priest was young and blushed easily and wore a uniform like the rest of us but with a cross in dark red velvet above the left breast pocket of his gray tunic. The captain spoke pidgin Italian for my doubtful benefit, in order that I might understand perfectly, that nothing should be lost.
"Priest to-day with girls," the captain said looking at the priest and at me. The priest smiled and blushed and shook his head. This captain baited him often.
"Not true?" asked the captain. "To-day I see priest with girls."
"No," said the priest. The other officers were amused at the baiting.
"Priest not with girls," went on the captain. "Priest never with girls," he explained to me. He took my glass and filled it, looking at my eyes all the time, but not losing sight of the priest.
"Priest every night five against one." Every one at the table laughed. "You understand? Priest every night five against one." He made a gesture and laughed loudly. The priest accepted it as a joke.
"The Pope wants the Austrians to win the war," the major said. "He loves Franz Joseph. That's where the money comes from. I am an atheist."
"Did you ever read the 'Black Pig'?" asked the lieutenant. "I will get you a copy. It was that which shook my faith."
"It is a filthy and vile book," said the priest. "You do not really like it."
"It is very valuable," said the lieutenant. "It tells you about those priests. You will like it," he said to me. I smiled at the priest and he smiled back across the candle-light. "Don't you read it," he said.
"I will get it for you," said the lieutenant.
"All thinking men are atheists," the major said. "I do not believe in the Free Masons however."
"I believe in the Free Masons," the lieutenant said. "It is a noble organization." Some one came in and as the door opened I could see the snow falling.
"There will be no more offensive now that the snow has come," I said.
"Certainly not," said the major. "You should go on leave. You should go to Rome, Naples, Sicily--"
"He should visit Amalfi," said the lieutenant. "I will write you cards to my family in Amalfi. They will love you like a son."
"He should go to Palermo."
"He ought to go to Capri."
"I would like you to see Abruzzi and visit my family at Capracotta," said the priest.
"Listen to him talk about the Abruzzi. There's more snow there than here. He doesn't want to see peasants. Let him go to centres of culture and civilization."
"He should have fine girls. I will give you the addresses of places in Naples. Beautiful young girls--accompanied by their mothers. Ha! Ha! Ha!" The captain spread his hand open, the thumb up and fingers outspread as when you make shadow pictures. There was a shadow from his hand on the wall. He spoke again in pidgin Italian. "You go away like this," he pointed to the thumb, "and come back like this," he touched the little finger. Every one laughed.
"Look," said the captain. He spread the hand again. Again the candle-light made its shadows on the wall. He started with the upright thumb and named in their order the thumb and four fingers, "soto-tenente (the thumb), tenente (first finger), capitano (next finger), maggiore (next to the little finger), and tenentecolonello (the little finger). You go away soto-tenente! You come back soto-colonello!" They all laughed. The captain was having a great success with finger games. He looked at the priest and shouted, "Every night priest five against one!" They all laughed again.
"You must go on leave at once," the major said.
"I would like to go with you and show you things," the lieutenant said.
"When you come back bring a phonograph."
"Bring good opera disks."
"Don't bring Caruso. He bellows."
"Don't you wish you could bellow like him?"
"He bellows. I say he bellows!"
"I would like you to go to Abruzzi," the priest said. The others were shouting. "There is good hunting. You would like the people and though it is cold it is clear and dry. You could stay with my family. My father is a famous hunter."
"Come on," said the captain. "We go whorehouse before it shuts."
"Good-night," I said to the priest.
"Good-night," he said.