Word, that the man in the linen suit would not
rise to his feet and continue to walk on over the hills, as he
apparently had started to do, to his home; that there was not a
mistake somewhere, or that at least some one would be sorry or say
something or run to pick him up.
But, fortunately, he did not need help, and the priests returned - the
younger one with the tears running down his face - and donned their
vestments and read a brief requiem for his soul, while the squad
stood uncovered, and the men in hollow square shook their
accoutrements into place, and shifted their pieces and got ready for
the order to march, and the band began again with the same quickstep
which the fusillade had interrupted.
The figure still lay on the grass untouched, and no one seemed to
remember that it had walked there of itself, or noticed that the
cigarette still burned, a tiny ring of living fire, at the place
where the figure had first stood.
The figure was a thing of the past, and the squad shook itself like a
great snake, and then broke into little pieces and started off
jauntily, stumbling in the high grass and striving to keep step to