“The Tartar Steppe” – The death of Angustina

When the wind fell off for a moment, Angustina again raised his head a little and moved his lips slowly as if to speak; there emerged only these three words: “Tomorrow we should …” Then nothing more. Only three words and these so weak that not even Captain Monti noticed that he had spoken.

Three words and Angustina’s head fell forward, for there was no longer anything to support it. One of his hands lay white and stiff in the fold of his cloak, his mouth managed to close. Once more a thin smile began to form on his lips. (As the litter bore him off he took his eyes off his friend and turned his head to the front, in the direction of the procession, with a sort of curiosity which was at once amused and distrustful.
Thus he went off into the night with almost inhuman nobility. The procession wound slowly through the sky, rising higher and higher, then a confused streak, then a little wisp of mist, then nothing.)

What were you trying to say, Angustina? What should we do tomorrow? Captain Monti had at last left his shelter and shook the lieutenant roughly by the shoulder to bring him to life; but the pity is he succeeds only in disarranging, the noble folds of his soldier’s, shroud. As yet none of the men has noticed what has happened.

Monti swears and the only answer is the voice of the wind from the black precipice. What were you trying to say, Angustina? You went off without finishing the sentence-perhaps it was something quite trite and stupid, perhaps an absurd hope, perhaps nothing at all.

Dino Buzzati – “The Tartar Steppe”

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