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Episode 7: Washing of the Body

Comparing English Review with The Prussian Officer

Compare Uncorrected proofs with English Review

English Review (1911)

The Prussian Officer (1914)

430:24

When Elizabeth came down she found her mother alone on the parlour floor, with the face of her son between her hands, the tears dropping on him.

430:27

"We must lay him out," the wife whispered softly. She put on the kettle, then returning knelt at the feet, and began to unfasten the knotted leather laces. The room was very dim with only one candle, so that she had to bend her face almost to the floor. At last she got off the heavy boots and put them away. She pulled off his stockings, vexed by the knot of the dirty tape garter. Like most miners, he was fairly clean in his person, so that she was not ashamed for him. Elizabeth unfastened the leathern belt from round his waist.

305:5

When Elizabeth came down she found her mother alone on the parlour floor, leaning over the dead man, the tears dropping on him.

305:8

" We must lay him out," the wife said. She put on the kettle, then returning knelt at the feet, and began to unfasten the knotted leather laces. The room was clammy and dim with only one candle, so that she had to bend her face almost to the floor. At last she got off the heavy boots and put them away.

430:36

"You must help me now," she whispered reverently to the old woman. Together they stripped the man.

430:38

When they arose, saw him lying in the reckless dignity of death, both women bowed in primeval awe, while the tears of motherhood rose in each. For a few moments they stood religiously silent. Then the mother-feeling prevailed. Elizabeth knelt down, put her arms round him, laid her cheek on his breast. He was still warm, for the mine was hot where he had died. His mother had his face between her hands, and was murmuring incoherently. The old tears fell in succession as drops from wet leaves; the woman was not weeping, merely her tears flowed. Elizabeth embraced the body of her husband, with cheek and lips. Suddenly she felt jealous that the mother held his head.

305:15

" You must help me now," she whispered to the old woman. Together they stripped the man.

305:17

When they arose, saw him lying in the na´ve dignity of death, the women stood arrested in fear and respect. For a few moments they remained still, looking down, the old mother whimpering. Elizabeth felt countermanded. She saw him, how utterly inviolable he lay in himself. She had nothing to do with him. She could not accept it. Stooping, she laid her hand on him, in claim. He was still warm, for the mine was hot where he had died. His mother had his face between her hands, and was murmuring incoherently. The old tears fell in succession as drops from wet leaves ; the mother was not weeping, merely her tears flowed. Elizabeth embraced the body of her husband, with cheek and lips. She seemed to be listening, inquiring, trying to get some connection. But she could not. She was driven away. He was impregnable.

431:6

She rose, went into the kitchen, where she poured warm water into a bowl, brought soap and flannel and a soft towel.

431:8

"I must wash him," she said decisively.

431:9

Then the old mother rose stiffly, and watched Elizabeth as she gently washed his face, tenderly, as if he were a child, brushing the big blonde moustache from his mouth with the flannel. The old woman, jealous, said :

306:1

She rose, went into the kitchen, where she poured warm water into a bowl, brought soap and flannel and a soft towel.

306:4

" I must wash him," she said.

306:5

Then the old mother rose stiffly, and watched Elizabeth as she carefully washed his face, carefully brushing the big blonde moustache from his mouth with the flannel. She was afraid with a bottomless fear, so she ministered to him. The old woman, jealous, said:

431:13

"Let me wipe him !" -- and she kneeled on the other side drying slowly as Elizabeth washed, her big black bonnet sometimes brushing the dark head of her daughter. They worked thus in silence for a long time. Sometimes they forgot it was death, and the touch of the man's body gave them strange thrills, different in each of the women; secret thrills that made them turn one from the other, and left them with a keen sadness.

306:11

" Let me wipe him ! " -- and she kneeled on the other side drying slowly as Elizabeth washed, her big black bonnet sometimes brushing the dark head of her daughter. They worked thus in silence for a long time. They never forgot it was death, and the touch of the man's dead body gave them strange emotions, different in each of the women ; a great dread possessed them both, the mother felt the lie was given to her womb, she was denied; the wife felt the utter isolation of the human soul, the child within her was a weight apart from her.

431:21

At last it was finished. He was a man of handsome figure and genial face, which showed no traces of the disfigurement of drink. He was blonde, full-fleshed, with fine round limbs.

306:22

At last it was finished. He was a man of handsome body, and his face showed no traces of drink. He was blonde, full-fleshed, with fine limbs. But he was dead.

431:24

"Bless him," whispered his mother, looking always at his face, "he looks as if he was just waking up. Dear lad -- bless him!" She spoke in a faint, sibilant rapture.

43127

Elizabeth sank down again to the floor, and put her face against his neck, and trembled and shuddered till she was tired. The old woman wept slow, noiseless tears, touching him, regarding him with endless fondness and unwearying interest.

306:26

" Bless him," whispered his mother, looking always at his face, and speaking out of sheer terror. " Dear lad -- bless him! " She spoke in a faint, sibilant ecstasy of fear and mother love.

306:30

Elizabeth sank down again to the floor, and put her face against his neck, and trembled and shuddered. But she had to draw away again. He was dead, and her living flesh had no place against his.

307:1

A great dread and weariness held her : she was so unavailing. Her life was gone like this.

431:31

"White as milk he is, clear as a twelve-month baby, bless him, the darling !" she whispered to herself. "Not a mark on him, clear and clean and white, beautiful as ever a child was made," she murmured with pride. Elizabeth kept her face hidden.

431:36

"He went peaceful, Lizzie -- peaceful as sleep. Isn't it wonderful ? You'd think he was smiling a bit. 'Appen he made it all right, Lizzie, shut in there. He'd have time. He wouldn't look like this if he hadn't made his peace. He's smiling a bit. Eh, but he used to have a hearty laugh. I loved to hear it. He's like he was when I had him, Lizzie. The heartiest laugh he had ---- "

307:3

" White as milk he is, clear as a twelve-month baby, bless him, the darling ! " the old mother murmured to herself. " Not a mark on him, clear and clean and white, beautiful as ever a child was made," she murmured with pride. Elizabeth kept her face hidden.

307:9

" He went peaceful, Lizzie -- peaceful as sleep. Isn't he beautiful, the lamb ? Ay -- he must ha' made his peace, Lizzie. 'Appen he made it all right, Lizzie, shut in there. He'd have time. He wouldn't look like this if he hadn't made his peace. The lamb, the dear lamb. Eh, but he had a hearty laugh. I loved to hear it. He had the heartiest laugh, Lizzie, as a lad ---- "

 

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