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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/197

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THE EFFECT OF SNOW.

after her last sigh. But the lips of the infant had been unable to find the breast where the drop of milk had frozen, while under the snow the child, more accustomed to the cradle than the tomb, had wailed despairingly. The deserted child had heard the cry of the dying child. He disinterred it. He took it in his arms.

When the infant found herself in his arms she ceased crying. The faces of the two children touched each other, and the purple lips of the infant sought the cheek of the boy, as it had been a breast. The little girl had nearly reached the moment when the congealed blood stops the action of the heart. Her mother had touched her with the chill of death, for a corpse communicates death; its numbness is infectious. The infant's feet, hands, arms, knees, seemed paralyzed by cold. The boy felt the terrible chill. He had on him one garment dry and warm,—his pilot jacket. He placed the infant on the breast of the corpse, took off his jacket, wrapped the infant in it, which he took up again in his arms; and then, almost naked, under the blast of the north wind which covered him with eddies of snow-flakes, carrying the infant, he continued his journey. The little one having succeeded in again finding the boy's cheek, again applied her lips to it; and, soothed by the warmth, she fell asleep. First kiss of those two souls in the darkness!

The mother lay there on her back upon the snow, her face turned up to the night; but perhaps at the moment when the boy stripped himself to clothe the little girl, the mother saw him from the depths of infinity.