But what was it that the Son of God was bearing on his shoulders— something dark and heavy and enormously large.
His Cross! Christ too was carrying His Cross, why? oh! why..
So lightly did He come over the snow, the Cross seemed no weight for His shoulders, yet Vasile’s shoulders still remembered the weight they had borne.
The luminous Figure did not pause before the young soldier, but Vasile had a fleeting glimpse of the angelic compassion in his eyes. … Slowly the Holy One passed the spot where Vasile knelt, and going straight up to the circle of sleeping soldiers, he stepped amongst them and Vasile saw—saw with his own eyes how the Son of God cast his Cross upon the cinders and how a glorious flame shot up from them, licking the sides of the Cross till the Cross itself was as a great torch of light!
Christ had brought his own Cross, had brought it to make a fire, so that the country’s brave defenders should not die of cold!
After that Vasile remembered but dimly what had happened; on his knees he had dragged himself towards the holy flame, upon his knees … and then in a swoon he had fallen beside the saving flame.
Day had come.
One after another the sleepers awoke, and, oh! marvel! the cinders that had been cold and dead so early in the night were now red-hot and a blessed glow irradiated from them, a glow so intense and life- giving that winter-cold seemed but the specter of a terror that had passed.
Overflowing with a gladness
Each man came gradually back from the realm of dreams with the sensation that something marvelous had happened, his body warmed and his soul overflowing with a gladness he could not explain. Even the pale prisoners had in their eyes a strange reflection of something resembling joy.
With a loud voice he tried to make menacing, Scurtu called upon Vasile—had he disobeyed orders? had he burnt the cross whilst his chief had been asleep?
But, no! Over there lay the cross, like a dead man with arms out-stretched, and beside the heavy wood on the snow knelt Vasile, with hands clasped, staring into the rising sun.
Scurtu crossed himself.
“Vasile!” he called. “Vasile! What seest thou in the face of the rising sun?”
Vasile turned towards him—there was a wondrous light in his eyes, but he did not answer—and Scurtu never knew what vision Vasile was following as he stared into the face of the rising sun.