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I was startled. I remembered her stricken expression years ago when they’d brought me back from the Italian troupe. I looked at her for a long moment. She sounded almost angry in her persuasiveness.

I’m terrified of dying, she said. Her voice went almost dry.And I swear I will go mad if I don’t know you’re in Paris and you’re free when it finally comes.

She listened and then she said,You’re such a fighter, my son. You never accept. Not even when it’s the fate of all mankind, will you accept it.

Is it on account of my dying, what’s come over you? she asked.Tell me if it is. And put your hands in mine.

We had had a priest for a little while who called it pagan. But they got rid of him fast enough. The farmers of our mountains kept to their old rituals. It was to make the trees bear and the crops grow, all this. And on this occasion, more than any other, I felt I saw the kind of men and women who could burn witches.

She listened and then she said,You’re such a fighter, my son. You never accept. Not even when it’s the fate of all mankind, will you accept it.

My mother came in, closed the door behind her, and told me that she must talk to me. Her whole manner was tenderness.

She even kissed me. She was frail in her faded dressing gown, and her hair was undone. I couldn’t stand to see the streaks of gray in it. She looked starved.

And finally, on the first Sunday night of Lent, she came to me.

I didn’t answer her. I can’t convey to you the frame of mind. I was still raw, trembling, and we had to talk about the fact that this living, breathing woman was going to stop living and breathing and start to putrefy and rot away, that her soul would spin into an abyss, that everything she had suffered in life, including the end of it, would come to nothing at all. Her little face was like something painted on a veil.

I won’t go, Mother. . .

I was alone in my room and the whole household had gone down to the village at twilight for the big bonfire that was the custom every year on this evening.

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Source: https://www.catholicteachers.ca/app.aspx?67jMVzCO.html


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