Chapter 29 Summary
In the middle of the day, the caravan of ambulances is stuck in a muddy road about ten kilometers from Udine. The rain has stopped, and sounds of airplanes can be heard overhead, bombing the main highway. Taking many deserted secondary roads, Henry has led the ambulances closer to Udine. Aymo’s car, however, has become trapped in the mud. The men put brush under the wheels but are unable to drive it out. The two sergeants who hitched a ride get out and look at the wheels, then start walking away down the road. When Henry commands them to come and cut brush to put under the wheels, they say that they have to go. When Henry repeats his order, they tell him that he is not their officer and cannot order them to do anything. They continue walking, this time a little faster. Henry removes his pistol and fires at them, and he eventually hits one. The other takes off running. Bonello, another driver, says he will go finish him. Henry hands him the pistol, and Bonello kills the sergeant.
The brush under the tires does not seem to help, nor does a rope tied to another car. Henry sees the two young girls sitting on a stone wall up ahead, waiting. The men try putting brush and even some clothing under the wheels one more time, then they give up trying.
The men discuss what to do with the two girls. Piani suggests that they get in the back of one of the ambulances. Henry tells them to go into the town where they will find friends and family. He gives them some money and the girls walk down the road. The other drivers laugh, asking how much Henry will give them to start walking. Bonello wishes that they had bicycles, which he says would be easier than walking. He asks Henry if people ride bicycles in America. Henry replies that they used to.
The men hear gunfire in the distance. Bonello fears that they might be cavalry. Piani points out that Bonello shot the sergeant, so he must not be too cowardly. Bonello says that he always wanted to kill a sergeant. Aymo asks what he will say about it in confession. Bonello says he will say, “Bless me, father, I killed a sergeant.” Piani says that Bonello is an anarchist, and Bonello replies that Piani is one as well. Henry asks if they are really anarchists, but they tell him that they are socialists, as is everyone in Imola, their hometown. The men cease talking and begin walking faster down the road.