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– Son, stop shouting, and let’s get this guy dug up, Ludvigs

said, lifting the till from the furrow. Pēteris tossed the reins

to Toņa and went to find a shovel.

It was less by shovel and more by hand that they worked

until sunset to unearth the body. It was a slender, tall

young man in a military coat and breeches. He had a

leather belt around his hips, a gaping rifle wound in his

stomach. A bronze star pinned to his chest. A soldier’s tunic

wrapped around his head. They were scared to check his


– A hero, Ludvigs said, and removed his hat in respect. All

their neighbours were peering over at them from a safe

distance. Only Toņa stood right next to the dead man,

referring to him in her mind as her hero.

The soldier had the most beautiful hands she had ever seen

on a man – delicate and with long fingers. His white, linen-

coloured hair was matted with red clay. She couldn’t see his

face, it was covered in dirt, but Toņa decided that even it

was beautiful.

There had been terrible battles near Zvanki back in July.

Most likely, in their hurry to retreat, the Red Army had

buried their comrade in the shallow furrow, only to forget

about him later. Now the hero was wrapped in one of the

blankets knitted by Rasulīte, and he was buried under a

lovely young oak.