The Highlanders, drawn up in uneven, frozen ranksnabove the plain, merely looked at him.n”With God’s help then, let us avenge our shame! Christnis Born!” cried the Serdar.n”Indeed He is Born!” shouted the Montenegrins andnheld up their long, Russian rifles.n^ ‘^ ^nVukota watched the Austro-Hungarians advance throughnthe drifts, shouting. Their skirmishers lay in the snow, thennrose up again, as other lines of blue-clad soldiers took theirnplace.nThe Montenegrins waited in silence until the Brigadierncommanded, “Knives only!” and unsheathed his yataghan.nBlue steel in hand, the Highlanders plunged upon thenenemy.nFour years after the Battle of Mojkovac, gaunt fromnHungarian captivity, Vukota stroked his son’s head.nThe boy looked down, as did Vukota’s mother, andnCatherine.n”Your sister’s gone,” said Vukota’s mother. “A Serb fromnBosnia, an Austrian soldier, took her with him.”nPulling out the large, blunt bullets, Vukota handed hisnCasser to Markan. “Were they married?” he said.n”Yes,” said the boy. “Otherwise, we would’ve starved.”n”Better that we did!” said Vukota’s mother.n* * *n”Nobody smiles like Vukota Vlahovic,” said the Highlanders.nDressed in a dark suit, gold watch chain glinting from hisnwaistcoat, Vukota strolled in the market, gently greeting thenpassersby.n”Oh Vukota,” cried a peasant, “can memories keepnanyone, or anything alive?”n* * *nIn the fall of 1919, a platoon of gendarmes of the newnKingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes rode into Kolasin,nfive of their horses draped with bundles.nWith the rest of the townsmen, Vukota came to thenmarket, keeping his distance from the mounted policemen.nIn the drizzle he could see blood trickle down the hem of antent cloth. The dead gendarmes’ pewter sabers hung downntheir horses’ flanks.nThe gendarmerie sergeant came up to Vukota, saluted,nand said, “Sir, this will have to be reported to the Division innWhite Plains. If you have any kin in the mountains, betterntell them now.”nVukota shook the sergeant’s hand and slowly walkednhome.nMountain guns rumbled across the wooden bridge overnthe Tara. The infantry creaked in solid gray columns,nbayonets on their rifles, their mustaches drooping wet.nRovca villages were razed, young and old beaten, andnsome of the men shot.nVukota sat in his room, silent.nThen he dressed himself in his dark suit, put on his darknhat, stuck the Gasser in his belt and went to the Town Hall.n”Please accept my resignation,” he said to the TownnCommandant. “You can have the medals too; and this!”nFrom under his jacket, Vukota took out a large, slightly bentnphotograph, of rows of Montenegrins staring into thencamera. “In Memory of the Great Popular Assembly ofn1918,” the calligraphed caption read. “To All the DelegatesnWho Voted for the Union of All Serbs, to the GreaternGlory of God!”n”You shall have your pension,” the Commandant said,nafter a while. “Do you think my hopes were lesser thannyours?”n”To hell with the pension,” said Vukota and walked out.n* * *nThen came the Uprising in 1941.n”Joy to you, Vukota son of Mirko,” Risto Toskov said. “Anfiner Montenegrin than Markan seldom mounted ancharger!”nVukota smiled at his neighbor, and tweaked his rich,nlong, silver mustache.nOutside the Radovic cafe, the Highlanders thronged thenmarket, shouting and singing, brandishing their weapons. Anlarge, dark circle of townspeople and peasants danced thenoro. Inside the ring, a man and a woman leapt high, theirnarms spread.n^ * *nThe young man’s eyes shone, as did his face, the girlnsmiled.nThe young man cried out like an eagle and the girlnshowed her teeth.nBedraggled Italian bersaglieri were herded by, while thencrowd jeered at them. The flies in the Radovic cafe buzzed,nbut no one could hear that.n* * *n”To hell with you,” Risto Toskov said to a Communistnsoldier, “I am going home and nobody’s ever stopped menon my way!”n”Comrade Commander,” shouted the patrolman, “somenpeople here won’t show respect. Shall I shoot?!”n”You will shoot your mother!” screamed Risto Toskov.n”I know this man,” Vukota said to the Commander.n”He’s an honest Serb. Let him go!”n”Yes Sir,” said the Commander and saluted. “But ordernmust be kept! Your son’s orders, Sir!”n”To talk of order is insulting, after all that idiocy andncommotion,” said Risto Toskov to Vukota.n”They’re young,” said Vukota. “Give them time.”n* * *nTwo weeks later the Italians came back, bringing thenShqipetars along. Their army, and the war cries ofnShqipetars, could be heard long before the trucks drove intonKolasin.nIn the market, lined up under the old Montenegrin flag,nthe bemedaled veterans of Djakovica, Scutari, andnMojkovac watched the Blackshirts.nLjubo Minic, the leader of the townsmen, said to thenItalian Colonel, “The Communists are our only enemy.”n”But, our blood has been shed!” said the Blackshirt. Hisngray eyes went over the mustered veterans. “Not evennQueen Helen can condone rebellion!”nLooking him in the eye, Minic said, “Colonel, the guiltynnnAPRIL 19881 25n