The Tartar Steppe is both a scathing critique of military life and a meditation on the human thirst for glory. It tells of young Giovanni Drogo, who. PQU83 D - The Tartar Steppe - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf ), Text File .txt) or read book online. Deserto dei tartari by Dino Buzzati, , Carcanet edition, in English.
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The Tartar Steppe [Dino Buzzati, Stuart C. Hood] on medical-site.info *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Often likened to Kafka's The Castle, The Tartar Steppe is. By Dino Buzzati, Stuart C. Hood. Usually likened to Kafka's The citadel, The Tartar Steppe is either a scathing critique of army lifestyles and a meditation at the. Chapter 7 Beyond the Tartar steppe: EUROSUR and the ethics of European border control practices. Julien Jeandesboz Introduction This chapter interrogates.
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Kemudahan Website Builder Jaminan Uptime Penawaran Terbatas! Mulai dari. In this respect, one key question is the marking of the border, a stake exemplified by the race between a squad of the northern kingdom and a patrol of Fort Bastiani led by captain Monti and lieutenant Angustina to place a boundary marker on a mountaintop, which leads to the tragic death of the latter. It is, on the other, the verticality of hierarchical relations within this horizontal pattern.
This verticality resonates in the relations amongst the military inhabitants of Fort Bastiani. It is a land that extends beyond the horizon, without any visible boundary and definitive shape. The steppe is a horizon, a limit to the vigil of the inhabitants of Fort Bastiani, from which anything can be expected. While there is a degree of certainty as to the objective of border control and surveillance in the spatial context of sovereignty prevent an invasion , the steppe embodies uncertainty.
The second noteworthy dimension of the relationship to the border in The Tartar Steppe, therefore, involves the question of time. The passing of time is a fundamental theme of the novel, as Antonio Candido notes: Uncertainty is a source of unease, but also of excitement: Again, an adequate discussion of how these two notions can be put to work for the purpose of studying contemporary developments would take us way beyond the purpose and scope of this piece.
They are divided into two categories. The first one consists of the populations whose belonging is encompassed by another sovereign entity — here, the northern kingdom. While considered hostile, their difference does not amount to radical otherness, insofar as they abide by the same ethical principles of sovereign ordering. Their presence is evanescent, unexplained and ultimately unknowable: These two categories, again, reflect some of the constitutive ethics of modern political life and of the modern international system Walker, The Tartar Steppe offers a parable of the classical problematisation of border control and its ethics.
From a spatial perspective, these ethics relate to demarcation on the horizontal and vertical planes: As such, the demarcation is simultaneously vertical, insofar as life within is shown as superior to life outside where all that can be expected is either adversity or barbarian existence. From a temporal perspective, the ethics involved converge towards the notion of vigilance: This watch is so anchored in the present that they appear to remain immobile as time passes by, the only relationship to the future lying in the expectation of future glory in confronting the enemies from the northern kingdom or the barbarians from the steppe.
Confrontation, then, is the third dimension of the classical ethics of border control: Narratives framing borders as lines of control and demarcation, of vigilance and confrontation, as the protective envelope of state territory and population in a context of globalisation remain a staple in the standpoints of a number of professionals of politics and of security Bigo, EUROSUR, insofar as it is concerned primarily with geographical surveillance, also appears to participate from this logic.
Over the past decade, however, what is actually meant by border control has significantly evolved in the European context. Here is not the place to reconstruct the full genesis of this notion see inter alia Hobbing, ; Jeandesboz, The tabling of this document echoed the debates unravelling within the European governmental arenas in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in New York and participated in the general hardening of EU security policies in this regard.
Council in December and the looming distrust among Member States ministries of Interior and police services regarding their capacity to control their borders with third countries. The first one has to do with where controls occur. The second displacement is temporal and intimately connected with the notion of risk. In the meantime, the insistence that IBM should be based on risk assessments and the incorporation of measures reaching beyond the point and moment where persons cross the border imply that border surveillance, rather than border checks as such, becomes the driving procedure underpinning European border control practices.
In the classical problematisation of border control outlined previously, border checks and border surveillance are spatially and temporally coterminous. IBM was not immediately and unanimously embraced within the European governmental arenas. President George W. Der Derian, ; Mattelart, In the EU context, these orientations have developed in a more discreet fashion, possibly giving the impression that European practices in the contemporary management of in security are somewhat more lenient than those of the United States.
With regard to border control and surveillance, however, one can note that the establishment of pan-European databases for the purpose of controlling and watching movements across borders was foreseen as early as the late s in the context of the Schengen agreement.
Eurodac, the first EU-wide automated fingerprint identification system — used for collecting fingerprints of asylum seekers and migrants crossing the external borders of EU member states — was 6 The BORTEC study is not publicly available.
The EU version would concern all travellers, including those who do not face a visa requirement for short-term stays of less than 90 days. Of course, the technological imperative in itself is not limited to the management of in security, and whether it is a characteristic of the contemporary period remains open to discussion e. Mattelart, An important point to stress, however, is that this imperative is more a reflection of the struggles among governmental agents than of the achievements of the technical systems themselves, although it shadows these struggles.
In the case of contemporary European border control practices, the technological imperative veils the transformations that these practices are undertaking. What is at stake, however, is not a mere technical upgrading: Expanding on the prescriptions tied to the IBM concept, on the other hand, EUROSUR would further accelerate the displacement of border control practices in both space and time, in two ways. It is grounded in the capacities of different kinds of technologies and particularly sensors.
One should of course treat this assertion of a shift in border control practices carefully. Elements can also be found in the work conducted by Amicelle et al. See Amicelle et al. This remark operates as a caveat to the points that will be developed in the next section. Since the argument so far has been that contemporary European border control practices reflect a shift from the traditional ethics sketched out in the first section, the remaining paragraphs will place the emphasis on three components that illustrate most strikingly this shift, namely proactivity, instantaneity and risk and the way in which they reflect specific problematisation of space, time and identity.
As suggested previously, proactivity comprises both a spatial and a temporal component. Spatially, it relates to the idea that border control cannot be limited to the checking of effective crossings.
Control is redeployed through practices of surveillance both within the EU e.
Faure Atger, and beyond the border-line as such, in third countries but also in spaces that are not delineated through the practices of sovereign territoriality e. Basaran, Proactivity simultaneously incorporates a temporal component. To relate it to the parable developed previously, the immobile vigilance that characterised the service of Giovanni Drogo on the walls of Fort Bastiani is here placed in tension with an imperative to move beyond the spatial horizon of the border, and beyond the temporal horizon of the moment when the crossing by an enemy, by a traveller, or a barbarian occurs.
In its spatial and temporal dimension, proactivity is authorised by a two-pronged claim. Three elements, of course, are underplayed here. The first one is that this humanitarian deed is to be achieved by generalising the surveillance of all movements at sea, and through the confusion between questions of maritime safety and questions of policing, interception and interdiction.
The second, in this regard, is that the practices of surveillance that are called upon to save lives are simultaneously putting the persons in question at risk. Risky journeys cannot be reduced to the individual actions of the persons seeking entry in the EU.
To mention but the best documented case, it is the initial deployment of the Spanish maritime surveillance system SIVE in the strait of Gibraltar that led the persons who were using this itinerary to seek longer and more perilous routes — for instance through the Canary islands, which subsequently triggered the launching of the first major Frontex operation and the extension of SIVE to this area Thirdly, the authorization of proactivity through humanitarian claims shadows the fact that the targeted persons are not only bodies to be saved, but subjects of rights.
These considerations, however, need to be further refined by examining the second ethical component highlighted by EUROSUR, namely instantaneity. Instantaneity appears as a central issue in the ultimate objectives of the programme. Going back, again, to The Tartar Steppe, contemporary border control practices do away with the perpetual present of vigilance on the border-line and the excruciatingly slow passing of time.
The key ethical premise, here, is speed, and the possibility of projecting controls as quickly as possible at any given point that is considered problematic. Speed is also important heuristically, because it offers the possibility to avoid a certain sense of radical change with regard to contemporary practices: It was true that his heart was full with the bitterness of leaving the old house for the first time- the old house where he had been born and being born had learned to hope-full with the fears which every change brings with it, with emotion at saying goodbye to his mother; but on top of all this there came.
His friend Francesco V escovi accompanied him on horseback on the first stage of his road. Dawn was breaking, the city was still sunk in sleep; here and there on a top floor a shutter opened, tired faces appeared and listless eyes looked for a moment on the miraculous birth of the sun.
The two friends did not talk. Drogo was wondering what Fort Bastiani would belike but could not imagine it. He did not even know exactly where it was, nor how far he had to go to reach it. Some people had said a 'day's ride, others less; no one whom he had asked had ever really been there. At the gates of the city Vescovi began to chat about the usualthings as if Drogo were going for a ride in the country.
Then suddenly he said: Yes, that one. Do you see a building on top of it? The fields of maize had begun, the pastures, the red autumnal woods. The pair rode on, side by side, along the white, sun-beaten road.
Giovanni and Francesco were old friends, having lived together for years on end, with the same enthusiasms, the same friendships ; they had seen each other every day, then Vescovi had got fat but Drogo had become an officer and now he saw how far apart they were. All that easy elegant life was his no longer; what lay in wait for him was serious and unknown. It seemed to him that his horse and Francesco's had already a different gait, that the hoof-beats of his own were less light, less lively, with a suggestion of anxiety and fat!
They had reached the brow of a hill. Drogo turned to see the city against the light; the morning smoke rose from the roofs. He picked out the window of his room. Probably it was open. The women were tidying up. They would unmake the bed, shut everything up in a cupboard and then bar the shutters. For months and months no one would enter except the patient dust and, on sunny days, thin streaks of light. His mother would keep it like that so that on his return he could find himself again there, still be a boy within its walls even after his long absence-but of course she was wrong in thinking that she could keep intact a state of happiness which was gone for ever or hold back the flight of time, wrong in imagining that when her son came back and the doors and windows were reopened everything would be as before.
At this point his friend Vescovi took an affectionate farewell and Drogo went on alone, drawing nearer to the The sun stood overhead when he 3 reached the mouth of the valley leading to the Fbrt.
On the right he could, see on a mountain top the re- doubt Vescovi had pointed out. It couldn't be very much further. In his anxiety to come to the end of his journey Drogo did not stop to eat, but pushed his already tired horse on up the road, which was becoming steeper and was walled in between precipitous banks.
Fewer and fewer people were to be met on the way. Giovanni asked a carter how long it took to reach the Fort. Drogo set off again and as the afternoon advanced became aware of a subtle uneasiness. He searched the topmost rims of the valley to discover the Fort. He imagined a sort of ancient castle with giddy ramparts. As the hours passed he became more and more convinced that Francesco had misinformed him; the redoubt he had pointed out must already be far behind. And evening was coming on. Look how small they are-Giovanni Drogo and his horse-how small against the side of the mountains which are growing higher and wilder.
He goes on climbing so as to reach the Fort before the end of the day, but the shadows rising from the depths where the torrent rushes are quicker than he is. At a certain moment they are level with Drogo on the opposite side of the ravine, seem to slacken pace for a minute as if not to discourage him, then glide up the hillside and over the boulders and the horseman is left lJthind. All the valley was already brimful of violet shadows --only the bare grassy crests, incredibly high up, were lit by the sun when suddenly Drogo found himself in front of what seemed-it was black and gigantic against 4 the intense purity ofthe evening sky-a military build- ing with an ancient arrd deserted look.
Giovanni felt his heart beat, for that must be the Fort; but everything, the ramparts, the very landscape, breathed an in- hospitable and sinister air. He circled it without finding the entrance. Although it was already dark there was no light in any window nor were there any watch-lights on the line of the ram- parts.
There was only a bat swinging to and fro against the white cloud. At last Drago tried a shout. In the half-light it was difficult to make him out; only the white of his eyes glinted. Drago looked at him with gratitude. Is this it? Is that it? In a gap in the nearby crags they were already deep in darkness , behind a disorderly range of crests and incredibly far off, Giovanni Drago saw a bare hill which was still bathed in the red light of the sunset-a hill which seemed to have sprung from an enchanted land; on its crest there was a regular, geometric band of a peculiar yellowish colour-the silhouette of the Fort.
But how far off it was still! Hours and hours yet on the road and his horse was spent. Drago gazed with fascination and wondered what attraction there could be in that solitary and almost inaccessible keep, 5 I ' so cut off from the world. What secrets did it hide? But time was running short. The valley had narrowed and the Fort had disappeared behind the overhanging mountains.
There were no lights, not even the voices of night birds-only from time to time the noise of distant water. He tried to call, but the echoes threw back his voice with a hostile note. He tied his horse to a tree trunk on the roadside where it might find some grass.
Here he sat down, his back to the bank, waiting for sleep to come, and thought meanwhile of the journey ahead, of the people he would find at the Fort, of his future life; but he could see no cause for joy. From time to time the horse pawed the ground with its hooves in a strange, disturbing manner.
The sun had not yet reached so far down and the shadows lay heavily in the angles of the road, making it difficuit to see clearly. But by quickening his pace Drogo contrived to draw abreast and saw that it was a man-an officer on horseback. A man like himself at last-a friendly being with whom he could laugh andjoke, talk of the life they were going to share, ofhunting expeditions, ofwomen, of the city; of the city which to Drago now seemed-to have become part of a distant world.
Meanwhile the valley grew narrower and the two roads drew closer, so that Giovanni Drago saw that the other was a captain. At first he did not dare to shout- it would have seemed silly and disrespectful.
Instead he saluted several times, raising his right hand to his cap, but the other did not respond. Evidently he had not noticed Drogo. The captain had halted and saluted correctly and now asked Drago to explain his cry.
There was no severity in the question, but it was evident that the officer was surprised.
Giovanni stopped, used his hands as a megaphone and replied with all his breath: Drago repented of it at once. He had got himself into a ridiculous situation simply because he was bored with himself. It was the question Drago had feared. This strange conversation across the valley was beginning to sound like an official interrogation. It was an unpleasant beginning, since it was probable, if not certain, that the captain was from the Fort.
However, he had to reply. The captain did not know him-in all probability could not catch the name at that distance; however, he seemed to become less ruffled, for he moved forward again making an affirmative gesture as if to say that they would meet shortly.
In fact, half an hour later a bridge appeared at a point where the ravine narrowed. The two roads became one. At the bridge the two men met. The captain, without dismounting, came up to Drago and held out his hand. He was a man getting on for forty or perhaps older with a thin, aristocratic face. His uniform was clumsily cut 8 but correct. He introduced himself: This was the first link, to be followed by all sorts of others which would shut him in. Without more ado the captain set off again and Drago followed at his side, keeping a little behind out of respect for his rank and awaiting some unpleasant reference to the embarrassing conversation of a few minutes before.
Instead the captain kept silence-per- haps he did not want to speak, perhaps he was shy and did not know how to begin. Since the road was steep and the sun hot, the two horses walked on slowly. At last Captain Ortiz said: Droso, wasn't it? But really, sir, you must excuse me if I shouted back there. You see," he added with confusion, "I didn't see your rank across the valley.
They rode on thus a while, both a little embarrassed. Then Ortiz said: Isn't this the road? It was hot; on all sides there were still mountains, huge wild grass-covered mountains. I have been posted there. Good, good.
May I congratulate you? Giovanni had a tremendous thirst; there was a wooden water-bottle hanging by the captain's saddle and you could hear the glug-glug of the water in it.
I don't know. They didn't tell me for how long. That's the impQrtant thing. Otherivise no one would apply for the post. Well, if it means a quick rise I suppose you can get used to the Fort, what d'you say? But now that the ice was broken, Giovanni hazarded a question: That's good. Only the sub- alterns, of course, otherwise who would ask to be posted to it?
The end of the road was still not in sight. They would reach that spot, look up and there the road was still in front of them, still climbing higher. I don't think so. I don't know hi " rn. Every now and again dark: So high did they seem, that you would have said two or three days were not time enough to reach the summit.
Does he still run the musketry course? There's Zimmermann-. Major Zimmermann. The point is that it is a good many years since my titne. They will all be different now. It seemed immense to me. No, no, it is one of the smallest-a very old building. It is only from the distance that it looks a little impressive. But isn't it one of the principal ones? He seemed to enjoy belittling it but with a special tone of voice-in the same way as one amuses oneself by re- marking on the defects of a son, certain that they will always seem trifling when set against his unlimited virtues.
It has always remained as it was a century ago. Stones and parched earth But it is a legend more than anything else. No one cari have come across it- not even in the last wars. As the road rose more and more the trees came to an end ; only a scattered bush remained here and there. For the rest-parched grass, rocks, falls of red earth. There's San Rocco, but it win be twenty miles away. No, that's wrong, I've completed my eighteenth. A flight of ravens passed, skimming the two officers, and plunging into the funnel of the valley.
Now , , they all want to go to a crack garrison. Once it was an honour, Fort Bastiani, now it almost seems to be a punishment. Speaking by and large there are some first class fellows there. A frontier post is still a frontier post after all.
The horizon had widened; in the extreme distance appeared the strange silhouettes of rocky mountains, sharp peaks rising in confusion into the sky. Now they say the frontier is dead-they forget that the frontier is always the frontier and one never knows.
They stopped to water their horses and, having dismounted, walked up and down a little to stretch themselves. And that explains the number of inspections. A general every fortnight. He could not make out whether Ortiz was a fool, whether he was hiding something or whether he simply talked like that with- out meaning it. Do you see that hillock with the patch of gravel? Well, it is just behind it.
It did indeed seem small compared with the vision of the previous evening. From the central fort, which was like nothing so much as a barrack with a few windows, two low turreted walls ran out to connect it with the lateral redoubts, two on each side. Thus the walls formed a weak barrier across the whole width of the gap-some five hundred yards-which was shut in on the: To the right, at the very foot of the mountain, the plateau fell away into a sort of saddle; there the old road ran through the pass and came to an end against the ramparts.
The Fort was silent, sunk in the full noonday sun, shadowless. Its walls-the front could not be seen since it faced north-stretched out yellow and bare. A chim- ney gave out pale smoke. All along the ramparts of the central building, of the curtain walls and of the re- doubts, dozens of sentries could be seen, with rifles at the slope, walking up and down methodically, each on his own little beat.
Like the motion of a pendulum they marked off the passage of time without breaking the enchantment of the immense silence. To right and left the mountains stretched out as far as the eye could see in precipitous and apparently in- accessible ranges. They too-at least at that time of day -had a parched, yellow colour. Instinctively Giovanni Drogo stopped his horse. Looking slowly round, he fixed his gaze on the dark walls without being able to read their true meaning.
He thought of a prison, he thought of an abandoned palace. A slight breath of wind made a: There was the indistinct echo of a trumpet. The sentries walked slowly to and fro. But over everything there lay a mysterious torpor. Captain Ortiz, too, had halted to look at the building. Drogo thought: But instead the captain said nothing. Yet as on the previous evening at the foot of the defile Drogo looked at it as if hypnotised and an inexplicable feeling of excitement entered his heart.
And beyond it, on the other side, what was there? What world opened up beyond that inhospitable build- ing, beyond the dmparts, casemates and magazines which shut off the view? What did the northern king- dom look like, the stony desert no one had ever crossed? The map, Drogo recalled vaguely, showed beyond the frontier a vast zone with scanty names-but from the eminence of the Fort one would see some village, pas- tures, a house; or was there only the desolation of an uninhabited waste?
He felt himself suddenly alone, and his soldier's high spirits, which had come so easily till now-as long as the uneventful garrison life lasted, the comforts of home, the constant company of gay friends, at night the little adventures in the gardens-all his self-assurance were suddenly gone. The Fort seemed to him one of those unknown worlds to which he had never seriously thought he might belong-not that they seemed un- pleasant, but rather because they appeared infinitely remote from his own life.
A world which would make 16 much greater demands of him, a world without splen- dour unless it were that of its rigid laws. If only he could turn back, not even cross the threshold of the Fort but ride back down to the plain, to his own city, to his old habits. Such was Drogo's first thought; and, however shameful such weakness in a soldier, he was ready to confess to it, if necessary, pro- vided they let him go at once.
But from the invisible north a thick cloud was rising over the glacis and im- perturbably the sentries walked up and down under the high sun.
Drogo's horse whinnied. Then the great silence fell once more. Giovanni at last looked away from the Fort and glanced to the side, at the captain, hoping for a friendly word. Ortiz too had remained quite still and was gazing intently at the yellow walls. It seemed he could not tire of looking upon them once again, and a vague smile, half joyful, half sad, slowly lit his face.
The orderly officer, an easy- going, friendly young man called Carlo Morel, accom- panied him through the heart of the fortress. Leaving the entrance hall, from which one caught a glimpse of a great empty courtyard, the two went down a long corridor whose end was lost to sight. The ceiling was hidden in shadow; at intervals a little beam of light came in through a narrow window.
It was not until they had climbed to the next floor that they. From the damp and naked walls, the silence, the dim lighting, it seemed as if the inmates had forgotten that somewhere in the world there existed flowers, laughing women, gay and hospitable houses. Here everything spoke of renunciation, but for whom, to what mysterious end? Now they were traversing the second floor along a corridor exactly similar to the first. From somewhere behind the walls there came the distant echo of a laugh; to Drago it seemed unreal.
Major Matti was plump and smiled with an excess of good nature. His office was huge, the desk big in pro- portion and covered with orderly heaps of paper. There was a coloured print of the king, and the major's sword hung on a wooden peg driven in for the purpose.
He produced his personal documents and began to explain that he had not made any request to be posted to the fortress- he was determined to have himself transferred as soon as possible-but Major Matti interrupted him. A very fine gentle- man. I am sure you will wish to live up to his memory. A President of the High Court, if I remember rightly? Don't you agree? I have my family in the city and should prefer if possible to stay I must say I'm sorry, very sorry. I would not dream of arguing.
I mean that I You had thought the Fort would be different and now you are a bit frightened. But tell me honestly-how can you form an opinion of it if you have only arrived a few minutes ago? You understand? I am talking to you in confidence, because I see you understand these things. I put myself in your hands. We don't want anyone here against his will-not even the least im- portant sentry.
Still, I'm sorry. You seem a good lad to me. It was at this point, as he turned his head a littl-e to the left, that Drogo's glance fell on the 'Yindow' opening on to the inner courtyard. He could see the northern wall, yellowish like the others and sun- beaten like them, with here and there the black rec- tangle of a window.
There was a clock as well, pointing to two o'clock, and on the topmost terrace a sentry walking to and fro with his rifle at the slope. But over the ramparts, far, far away, in the glare of noon, there rose a rocky crest. Only its extreme tip could be seen and in itself it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Yet for Giovanni Drogo that fragment of rock represented th,e first visible lure of the northern territory, the legendary kingdom whose existence hung heavily over the Fort. What was the iest like? From it there came a drowsy light shining through slow-moving smoky wisps of mist. Then the major began to speak again. For us, I repeat, it is all the same-from the point ofview, that is," he added so as not to sound discourteous.
Iite right, quite right," saiq the major soothingly. Way the best thing is for you to go sick. You go into the sick bay under observation for a day or two and the doctor gives you a certificate. There are a lot of people in any case who can't stand upto the altitude.
Otherwise you would have to make a written request for a posting. That has to be sent to High Command, 20 the High Command has to reply-that means at least a fortnight. Above all, the colonel has to go into the matter, and that I would prefer to avoid. Because he does find these things unpleasant-they hurt him, that's it, they hurt him just as if you were doing an injury to his Fort.
Well then, if I were you, ifyou want me to be frank, I would try to avoid it. If my going away might cause me trouble then it's another matter. In neither case will your career suffer. It is only a case of a--of a shade of meaning.
Of course, and I told you this right away, the colonel will not be pleased. But if you have really made up your mind I'll explain to you direct. Twice a year there is a medical inspection--it is laid down.
The next will be in four months' time. That seems to me to be your best opportunity. I give you my word that, ifyou like, your report will be adverse. You can set your mind absolutely at rest.
You can be certain that the colonel will do one on you. And you know how important that can be for your career. But let us get this quite, quite clear-you are perfectly free. And the New Redoubt, whiCh demands more of-one, will certainly not be en- trusted to you to begin with. There will be no hard tasks, don't be afraid-you won't ever be bored.
A vaguejfeeling to which he did not have the key was gradually penetrating into his inmost being-a stupid and absurd feeling, a base- less fancy. At the same time he felt somewhat calmer. He was still anxious to go, but not so desperately as before. He was almost ashamed , at the fears he had had on his arrival.
He could not believe that he was not as good a man as all the others. Thus his own conceit ofhimselffought with his longing for the old familiar existence. Do you want to meet the cplonel in the mess or would you prefer to leave. You will see what nice people they are, all first class officers.
But first of all he asked: I didn't know you were interested in views," -answered the major. I've heard there is a desert and I've never seen one. A monotonous landscape-no beauty in it. Take my advice-don't think about it. Only personnel on duty may go on to the ramparts or into the guard rooms; you need to know the password.
Oh, I know-for you people from the city all these petty rules seem ridiculous. Besides down there the password is no great secret.
But here it is different. Only one in the colonel's office. Unfor- tunately no one thought of a belvedere for the inquisi- tive. But it isn't worth it, I repeat, a landscape with nothing to recommend it. You will have plenty of that view ifyou decide to stay.
Matti made a friendly gesture with his hand. Forget about it-a worthless landscape, I assure you, an extremely stupid landscape. An immensely long corridor, lit by infrequent lamps, 23 ran all the length of the walls from one side of the pass to the other.
Every so often there was a door-store- rooms, workshops, guard rooms. They walked for about a hundred and fifty yards to the entrance of the third redoubt.
An armed sentry stood before the door. Morel asked to speak to Lieutenant Grotta, who was com- mander ofthe guard. Thus they were able to enter in defiance of the regu- lations. Giovanni found himself in the entrance to a narrow passageway; on one wall there was a board wi'th the names of the soldiers on duty.
To the sentry who paced to and fro Lieutenant Morel made a sign as if to say there was. A kind of pallor came over Drago's face as he looked; he was as rigid as stone. The nearby sentry had halted and an unbroken silence seemed to have descended through the diffus,ed half-light.
Then without shifting his gaze Drogo asked: Does it go on and on like this? From there you see all the plain beyond. They say. But dght over-in the north they must see some- thing. But some people say they have seen things. What sort of things? You go and hear what the soldiers have to say. One says one thing, one another. Some say they have seen white towers, or else they say there is a smoking volcano and that is where the mists come from.
Even Ortiz, Captain Ortiz, main-. According to him there is a long black patch-forests probably. Where, Drago asked himself, had he seen this world before? Had he lived there in his dreams or created it as he read some ancient tale. He seemed to make some things out-the low crumbling rocks, the winding valley in which there were neither trees nor verdure, those precipitous slopes and finally that triangle of desolate plain which the rocks before him could not conceal.
Responses had been awakened in the very depth of his being and he could not grasp them. At this moment Drago was looking at the northern world-the uninhabited land across which, or so they said, no man had ever come. No enemy had ever come out of it; there had been no battles; nothing had ever happened.
Within he was a whirl of confused desires and foolish fears. But Gio- vanni did not seem to hear, intent as he was on search- ing his thoughts. The evening light was failing and the wind, re-awakened by the shadows, slid along the geo- metrical architecture of the F art. In order to keep warm the sentry had begun to walk up and down again, gazing every now and then at Giovanni Drago, whom he did not know. IV H E had often been alone; sometimes even as a child, lost in the countryside; on other occasions it had been in the city at night, in streets where crime was commonplace ; then there was the night before when he had slept by the wayside.
Now he really understood what solitude meant- quite a nice room, all panelled with wood, with a big bed, a table, an uncomfortable divan and a wardrobe. Everyone had been nice to him; in the mess they had opened a bottle of wine in his honour, but now he did not care, had already completely forgotten them -above the bed there was a wooden crucifix, opposite it an old print with a text of which the first words could be read: Humanissimi Viri Francesci Angloisi virtutibus.
During the whole night no one would come in to greet him; in all the Fort no one was thinking of him and not only in the Fort, probably in the whole world, there was not a soul who had a thought for Drago; everyone has his own worries, can barely cope with himself- perhaps even his mother at that moment had other things on her mind, for he was not her only child and she had thought about Giovanni all day; now it was the' others' turn.
That was more than fair, Drago admitted to himself without the shadow of reproof, but mean- time he was sitting on the edge of his bed in his room in the Fort there was, he now saw, cut into the panel- ling and coloured with extraordinary patience a full scale sabre, which at first glance almost seemed real -the painstaking work of some officer years before , he was sitting on the edge of his bed, with his head bent forward a little, his back bowed, his eyes heavy 27 and dull,.
Suddenly he rose with an effort, opened the window and looked out. The window gave on to the courtyard and there was nothing else to be seen. Since it looked towards the south Drogo sought in vain to distinguish in the darkness the mountains which he had crossed to reach the Fort; but they were lower than he thought and hidden by the wall. He had forgotten to bring anything to read but that did not matter, he felt so sleepy.
He put out the lamp; little by little the pale rectang! He Wt as if a sudden drowsiness were dragging him down into sleep. But he was too conscious of it. A con- fusion of images, almost like the figures of a dream, passed before his eyes and even began to form a story; then a few seconds later he found that he was still awake. More awake than before, because the vastness of the silence suddenly struck him.
From far, far away-or had he imagined it? Then close by a soft drip of water sounded in the wall. If he lay still he could see that a small green star, whiCh in the course of its journey through the night had reached the top of his window, was on the point of dis- appearing; it twinkled fur a moment on the very edge of the dark window frame and then finally disappeared.
Drogo wanted to follow it a little further by leaning his At that moment there was another "plop" as if something had fallen into the water. Would it be repeated again? He lay waiting for the noise, such a sound as went with underground passages, marshes and deserted houses.
The minutes appeared to stand still; complete silence seemed at last to be undisputed master of the Fort. And once more wild images of the life he had left so far behind crowded round Drogo. There it was again, the sound he hated. Drogo sat up. So it. How could he sleep? Drogo remembered that there was a cord hanging by the side of the bed, perhaps a bell-cord. He tried pulling it; the cord answered his pull and in some remote and winding corridor of the building a brief tinkling answered almost imperceptibly.
But how stupid it was, thought Drogo, to call someone for such a trifle. And who would come in any case? Soon after there was the sound of feet in the corridor outside; they drew closer and someone knocked at the door.