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A Dead Woman's Secret

  • Narrator

    The woman had died without pain, quietly, as a woman should whose life had been blameless.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in A Dead Woman's Secret
  • Now she was resting in her bed, lying on her back,

  • her eyes closed, her features calm, her long white hair carefully arranged as though she had done it up ten minutes before dying.

  • The whole pale countenance of the dead woman was so collected, so calm, so resigned that one could feel what a sweet soul had lived in that body,

  • what a quiet existence this old soul had led, how easy and pure the death of this parent had been.

  • Kneeling beside the bed, her son, a magistrate with inflexible principles, and her daughter, Marguerite, known as Sister Eulalie, were weeping as though their hearts would break.

  • Narrator

    She had, from childhood up,

    Profile Picture of Narrator in A Dead Woman's Secret
  • armed them with a strict moral code, teaching them religion, without weakness, and duty, without compromise.

  • He, the man, had become a judge and handled the law as a weapon with which he smote the weak ones without pity.

  • Narrator

    She, the girl, influenced by the virtue which had bathed her in this austere family, had become the bride of the Church through her loathing for man.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in A Dead Woman's Secret
  • They had hardly known their father, knowing only that he had made their mother most unhappy, without being told any other details.

  • The nun was wildly-kissing the dead woman's hand, an ivory hand as white as the large crucifix lying across the bed.

  • On the other side of the long body the other hand seemed still to be holding the sheet in the death grasp;

  • and the sheet had preserved the little creases as a memory of those last movements which precede eternal immobility.

  • Narrator

    A few light taps on the door caused the two sobbing heads to look up,

    Profile Picture of Narrator in A Dead Woman's Secret
  • and the priest, who had just come from dinner, returned.

  • He was red and out of breath from his interrupted digestion, for he had made himself a strong mixture of coffee and brandy in order to combat the fatigue of the last few nights and of the wake which was beginning.

  • Narrator

    He looked sad, with that assumed sadness of the priest for whom death is a bread winner.

    Profile Picture of Narrator in A Dead Woman's Secret
  • He crossed himself and approaching with his professional gesture:

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