After six days of desperately making his way across the mountains, not sleeping, with only the sun and the stars to guide him, six days of scavenging for food above the tree line, six days of drinking melted snow and ice – he finally spotted another human being.
It was a peasant, driving a cart filled with baskets and chests, pulled by an aging horse. There was no point in trying to make conversation; ragged clothes and a bleeding lip were the universal calling card of trouble. With one last burst of energy, the battered man hurled himself onto the back of the horse-cart, and hoped that the peasant would not mind such an imposition on his generosity. Within seconds, the darkness took him.
The trap wheeled sharply around the bend, and both driver and his companion let out growls of frustration. It had begun to pour down, the kind of driving rain only springtime brings. In front of them, a farmer's cart rattled along slowly, sinking its heavy wooden wheels into the mud. The trap slowed, and both passengers shrugged into their overcoats in anticipation of a good soaking.
The convoy thus continued, past an avenue of trees, and down a hill. The horses picked their way through the mud with disdain.
Suddenly, as though the driver had forgotten his way, the cart swerved into a lane leading through the fields. His cart lurched, and a heavy object fell into a spreading puddle in the middle of the main road. The trap, which had been following stopped abruptly to avoid the object. The driver and his female companion hopped out. The driver tried to run after the cart, which had now picked up speed, as though the old mare knew it was the way home. The woman bent down over the object. The object suddenly moved, and she understood it was a man, wrapped in old blankets.
Clucking in frustration, she bent over to unwrap the man. His face was bruised and swollen. From his dry lips emerged a hoarse sound, partially drowned by a loud crack of thunder. Straightening up, she looked at her driver, now returned from his futile chase, and grimaced. "He's alive. And he's English. We'll have to take him."