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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Awakening by Kate Chopin

At the approach of night they had all vanished away with their
din and smoke. Then the old bird plumed his feathers. At last he
had understood! With a flap of his great, black wings he shot
downward, circling toward the plain.

A man was picking his way across the plain. He was dressed in
the garb of a clergyman. His mission was to administer the
consolations of religion to any of the prostrate figures in whom
there might yet linger a spark of life. A negro accompanied him,
bearing a bucket of water and a flask of wine.

There were no wounded here; they had been borne away. But the
retreat had been hurried and the vultures and the good Samaritans
would have to look to the dead.

There was a soldier--a mere boy--lying with his face to the
sky. His hands were clutching the sward on either side and his
finger nails were stuffed with earth and bits of grass that he had
gathered in his despairing grasp upon life. His musket was gone;
he was hatless and his face and clothing were begrimed. Around his
neck hung a gold chain and locket. The priest, bending over him,
unclasped the chain and removed it from the dead soldier's neck.

He had grown used to the terrors of war and could face them
unflinchingly; but its pathos, someway, always brought the tears
to his old, dim eyes.

The angelus was ringing half a mile away. The priest and the
negro knelt and murmured together the evening benediction and a
prayer for the dead.


The peace and beauty of a spring day had descended upon the
earth like a benediction. Along the leafy road which skirted a
narrow, tortuous stream in central Louisiana, rumbled an old
fashioned cabriolet, much the worse for hard and rough usage over
country roads and lanes. The fat, black horses went in a slow,
measured trot, notwithstanding constant urging on the part of the
fat, black coachman. Within the vehicle were seated the fair
Octavie and her old friend and neighbor, Judge Pillier, who had
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