我 不晓得在河上究竟漂流了多久，因为河流湍急。时间好像很长，又可能很短。河水很冷，在泛滥，水上漂过许多东西，都是河水上涨时从岸上卷来的。我幸而抱住一 根沉重的木头，身子躺在冰冷的水里，下巴靠在木头上，双手尽量轻松地抱着木头。我怕的是抽筋，只盼着会漂到岸边去。我漂下河去，划出一条长长的曲线。天开 始亮了，我看得见河岸上的灌木丛。前头有一座矮树丛生的小岛，流水带着我朝岸上漂去。我不晓得该不该脱下靴子和衣服，游上岸去，终而决定不这么做。我当时 总觉得我一定能上岸的，不管怎样上岸法。如果上岸时光着脚，那就糟了。我总得想法子赶到美斯特列。
我看着河岸在靠近，接着我又漂开去，接着又靠近了一点。我和木头现在漂流得慢一些了。河岸已很近。我看得见柳树丛的嫩枝了。木头慢慢地转动，河岸转 到了我的后边，我这才知道我们到了一个漩涡中。我们慢慢地转着。我再看见河岸时，已离得很近，我一手抱住木头，抽出一支胳膊来划水，加上用脚踩水，希望靠 拢岸边，但是结果还在老地方。我担心会给漩涡卷出去，还是一手抱住木头，抬起两脚来推木头的边沿，用力往岸边死推。岸上的灌木丛我看得见了，但是尽管有我 的动力，并且拼命划水，水流可又把我卷走了。这时我才想起自己可能淹死，因为我的靴子太笨重了，但是我还是划水，死命挣扎，等我抬起头来时，岸正在渐渐靠 近，于是我继续拼命划水，双脚笨重，惊慌失措，我终于奋力游到了岸边。我抓住了柳枝，吊在那儿，可是没有气力往上攀，不过心里明白，现在已不至于溺死了。 我人在木头上时，始终没想到会淹死。刚才使尽了气力，胸口和胃里都觉得又空又想吐，只好攀住柳枝等待着。恶心过去后，我才爬进树丛，又休息了一下，双臂抱 住一棵柳树，双手紧紧地抓住树枝。后来我爬出树丛，穿过树与树之间，爬到了岸上。那时天已半亮，我看不见一个人影。我平躺在河岸上，听着流水声和雨声。
过了一会，我站起身，顺着河岸走。我知道河上这一带没有桥梁，非得到拉蒂沙那不可。我推想我也许正在圣维多的对岸。我开始思量该怎么办。前头有条通 河道的水沟。我朝那条沟走去。我至今没见人影，就在水沟边几棵灌木边坐下，脱掉靴子，倒出水来。我脱下军装上衣，从里边口袋里掏出皮夹子，皮夹子里放着我 的证件和钞票，全给浸湿了。我拧干军装上衣。我把裤子也脱下来拧干，接着脱衬衫和内衣裤。我用手拍打身体，摩擦一番，再把衣服穿起来。我的军帽可掉了。
我穿上衣之前，先把袖管上的星章割下来，放在里边口袋里，和我的钱放在一起。我的钱虽则湿了，还可以用。我数了一下。一共有三千多里拉。我的衣服又 湿又沾，我拍打着臂膀，叫血流通。我穿的是羊毛内衣，只要我人在走动，就不至于受凉。我的手枪已被宪兵在路边夺去了，现在我把手枪套塞进上衣内。我没有披 肩，现在雨中很冷。我开始顺着运河的河岸走。已是白天了，乡野又湿又低，好不凄凉。田野光秃濡湿，我看见前面远处有一座钟塔屹立在平原上。我走上一条公 路。我看见前头路上有些部队正在走过来。我在路边一拐一拐地往前走，他们走过我身边，没有理睬我。这是开到河边去的一个机枪支队。我顺着公路继续走。
边去的，我要横穿乡野，只好走运河边那些小径。我从北往南走，跨过两条铁路线和许多道路，终于从一条小径的尽头处走上一片沼泽地边的一条铁路线。这 是从威尼斯到的里雅斯德去的干线，有坚固的高堤，有坚固的路基，还铺着双轨。铁轨过去不远的地方有个招呼站，我看得见有士兵在防守。铁轨那一端有一座桥， 桥下是一条小河，流到一片沼泽地。我看见桥上也有一名守卫。刚才我跨过北边的乡野时，看到一列火车在这条线上走，因为地势平，远远就望得见，于是我想，可 能有列火车从波多格鲁罗开来。我眼睛注意着那些守卫，身子趴在路堤上，以便看得见铁轨的两头。桥上的守卫顺着路线向我趴的地方走过来了一点，随即回转身又 朝桥走。我饿着肚皮伏在那儿等火车来。我在平原上所望见的那列火车非常长，机车开得非常慢，这样速度的火车我准跳得上去。我等了半天，几乎等得绝望了，终 于有一列火车开来了。车头直开过来，慢慢地越来越大。我看看桥上的守卫。他正在桥的这一头走，不过是在路轨的另一边。这样火车开过时，正好能把他遮住。我 看着车头开近来。它开得很吃力。原来挂的车皮很多。我知道火车上一定也有守卫，我想看看守卫在什么地方，但是因为我人躲着，还是看不见。车头快开到我趴着 的地方了。车头到我面前了——它虽然在平地上开，还是又吃力又喘气——我看见司机过去了，于是站起来，挨近一节节开过去的车厢。万一守卫看见，由于我站在 车轨边，嫌疑性反而少一点。几节封闭的货车开过了。随后我看见一节没有遮盖的、车身很低的车厢，他们叫它为平底船，上边罩着帆布。我等它快要过去时，纵身 一跃，抓住车后的把手，攀了上去。我爬到“平底船“和后边一节高高的货车的车檐间。大概没有人看见我吧。我抓着把手，蹲着身子，双脚踏在两节车厢间的联轴 节上。火车快到桥上了。我想起桥上那个守卫。火车过去时，他望望我。他还是个孩子，他的帽盔太大了。我轻藐地瞪了他一眼，他赶快掉开头去。他以为我是列车 上的什么人员哩。
我们过去了。我看见他还是怪不舒服地瞅着后面的那几节车厢，这时我俯下身去看看帆布是怎么绑牢的。帆布边沿上有扣眼，用绳子穿过绑着。我拿出刀子 来，割断了绳子，伸出一条胳臂探进去。帆布下有些硬的东西突出着，那帆布因为给雨打湿了，绷得紧紧的。我抬头望望前面。前头货车上有一名守卫，幸亏他是在 往前看。我放开把手，往帆布底下一钻。我的前额碰上一件东西，狠狠地一撞，我觉得脸上出血了，但是我还是爬进去，笔直地躺着。我随后转过身把帆布绑好。
帆布底下原来是大炮。大炮涂抹过润滑油和油脂，闻起来觉得很清新。我躺着倾听帆布上的雨声和列车在路轨上开的轧轧声。有些光线漏了进来，我躺着看看 那些炮。炮身还罩着帆布套。我想一定是第三军送来的。我额上那一撞，肿起来了，我躺着不动弹，让伤口止血凝结，随后把伤口四周的干血块一一剥掉。这算不了 什么。我没有手帕，只能用手指摸摸，然后蘸着帆布上滴下来的雨水，用袖子揩干净那些血迹。我不想让自己的样子惹人注意。我知道在列车到美斯特列以前，我非 下车不可，因为到了那地方，一定有人来接收这些大炮。他们现在正需要大炮，损失不起，准不会忘记。我感到非常饿。
You do not know how long you are in a river when the current moves swiftly. It seems a long time and it may be very short. The water was cold and in flood and many things passed that had been floated off the banks when the river rose. I was lucky to have a heavy timber to hold on to, and I lay in the icy water with my chin on the wood, holding as easily as I could with both hands. I was afraid of cramps and I hoped we would move toward the shore. We went down the river in a long curve. It was beginning to be light enough so I could see the bushes along the shore-line. There was a brush island ahead and the current moved toward the shore. I wondered if I should take off my boots and clothes and try to swim ashore, but decided not to. I had never thought of anything but that I would reach the shore some way, and I would be in a bad position if I landed barefoot. I had to get to Mestre some way.
I watched the shore come close, then swing away, then come closer again. We were floating more slowly. The shore was very close now. I could see twigs on the willow bush. The timber swung slowly so that the bank was behind me and I knew we were in an eddy. We went slowly around. As I saw the bank again, very close now, I tried holding with one arm and kicking and swimming the timber toward the bank with the other, but I did not bring it any closer. I was afraid we would move out of the eddy and, holding with one hand, I drew up my feet so they were against the side of the timber and shoved hard toward the bank. I could see the brush, but even with my momentum and swimming as hard as I could, the current was taking me away. I thought then I would drown because of my boots, but I thrashed and fought through the water, and when I looked up the bank was coming toward me, and I kept thrashing and swimming in a heavy-footed panic until I reached it. I hung to the willow branch and did not have strength to pull myself up but I knew I would not drown now. It had never occurred to me on the timber that I might drown. I felt hollow and sick in my stomach and chest from the effort, and I held to the branches and waited. When the sick feeling was gone I pulled into the willow bushes and rested again, my arms around some brush, holding tight with my hands to the branches. Then I crawled out, pushed on through the willows and onto the bank. It was halfdaylight and I saw no one. I lay flat on the bank and heard the river and the rain.
After a while I got up and started along the bank. I knew there was no bridge across the river until Latisana. I thought I might be opposite San Vito. I began to think out what I should do. Ahead there was a ditch running into the river. I went toward it. So far I had seen no one and I sat down by some bushes along the bank of the ditch and took off my shoes and emptied them of water. I took off my coat, took my wallet with my papers and my money all wet in it out of the inside pocket and then wrung the coat out. I took off my trousers and wrung them too, then my shirt and under clothing. I slapped and rubbed myself and then dressed again. I had lost my cap.
Before I put on my coat I cut the cloth stars off my sleeves and put them in the inside pocket with my money. My money was wet but was all right. I counted it. There were three thousand and some lire. My clothes felt wet and clammy and I slapped my arms to keep the circulation going. I had woven underwear and I did not think I would catch cold if I kept moving. They had taken my pistol at the road and I put the holster under my coat. I had no cape and it was cold in the rain. I started up the bank of the canal. It was daylight and the country was wet, low and dismal looking. The fields were bare and wet; a long way away I could see a campanile rising out of the plain. I came up onto a road. Ahead I saw some troops coming down the road. I limped along the side of the road and they passed me and paid no attention to me. They were a machine-gun detachment going up toward the river. I went on down the road.
That day I crossed the Venetian plain. It is a low level country and under the rain it is even flatter. Toward the sea there are salt marshes and very few roads. The roads all go along the river mouths to the sea and to cross the country you must go along the paths beside the canals. I was working across the country from the north to the south and had crossed two railway lines and many roads and finally I came out at the end of a path onto a railway line where it ran beside a marsh. It was the main line from Venice to Trieste, with a high solid embankment, a solid roadbed and double track. Down the tracks a way was a flag-station and I could see soldiers on guard. Up the line there was a bridge over a stream that flowed into the marsh. I could see a guard too at the bridge. Crossing the fields to the north I had seen a train pass on this railroad, visible a long way across the flat plain, and I thought a train might come from Portogruaro. I watched the guards and lay down on the embankment so that I could see both ways along the track. The guard at the bridge walked a way up the line toward where flay, then turned and went back toward the bridge. I lay, and was hungry, and waited for the train. The one I had seen was so long that the engine moved it very slowly and I was sure I could get aboard it. After I had almost given up hoping for one I saw a train coming. The engine, coming straight on, grew larger slowly. I looked at the guard at the bridge. He was walking on the near side of the bridge but on the other side of the tracks. That would put him out of sight when the train passed. I watched the engine come nearer. It was working hard. I could see there were many cars. I knew there would be guards on the train, and I tried to see where they were, but, keeping out of sight, I could not. The engine was almost to where I was lying. When it came opposite, working and puffing even on the level, and I saw the engineer pass, I stood up and stepped up close to the passing cars. If the guards were watching I was a less suspicious object standing beside the track. Several closed freight-cars passed. Then I saw a low open car of the sort they call gondolas coming, covered with canvas. I stood until it had almost passed, then jumped and caught the rear hand-rods and pulled up. I crawled down between the gondola and the shelter of the high freight-car behind. I did not think any one had seen me. I was holding to the hand-rods and crouching low, my feet on the coupling. We were almost opposite the bridge. I remembered the guard. As we passed him he looked at me. He was a boy and his helmet was too big for him. I stared at him contemptuously and he looked away. He thought I had something to do with the train.
We were past. I saw him still looking uncomfortable, watching the other cars pass and I stooped to see how the canvas was fastened. It had grummets and was laced down at the edge with cord. I took out my knife, cut the cord and put my arm under. There were hard bulges under the canvas that tightened in the rain. I looked up and ahead. There was a guard on the freight-car ahead but he was looking forward. I let go of the hand-rails and ducked under the canvas. My forehead hit something that gave me a violent bump and I felt blood on my face but I crawled on in and lay flat. Then I turned around and fastened down the canvas.
I was in under the canvas with guns. They smelled cleanly of oil and grease. I lay and listened to the rain on the canvas and the clicking of the car over the rails. There was a little light came through and I lay and looked at the guns. They had their canvas jackets on. I thought they must have been sent ahead from the third army. The bump on my forehead was swollen and I stopped the bleeding by lying still and letting it coagulate, then picked away the dried blood except over the cut. It was nothing. I had no handkerchief, but feeling with my fingers I washed away where the dried blood had been, with rainwater that dripped from the canvas, and wiped it clean with the sleeve of my coat. I did not want to look conspicuous. I knew I would have to get out before they got to Mestre because they would be taking care of these guns. They had no guns to lose or forget about. I was terrifically hungry.