By Julien Gracq, Richard Howard

Reprint. initially released: ny ; Braziller, 1959

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Obviously something was being simulated here, but what? In the moments of silence, the guests looked out the window at the catechism class lining up in the square for vespers. " drawled Captain Magnard's affected, slightly drunk voice. " Sometimes, after lunch, Grange accompanied a fellow officer through the dozing Sunday streets to the Charle-ville train, then stopped at the Company office to settle some service details. Captain Varin was always there, smoking his cigarette behind stacks of papers.

Half a mile from the blockhouse, the tiny white road came to an end in a fresh upland meadow where a dozen cottages basked in the solitude of high stubble and the encircling firs. Grange turned left at the Bihoreau farm, a rest home whose shutters were closed now, and sat down at the •22- Cafe des Platanes, which lodged whatever improbable guests might appear out of this wilderness. In front of the one-story house, on a tidy little paved terrace overlooking the road, were a table, two red-and-white-striped iron chairs, and even—a surprising touch of modernity— an orange parasol folded around its pole; not long past noon, the shadow of a huge chestnut tree fell across the terrace.

At each hairpin turn, the valley grew deeper, a wisp of fog appeared above the river which drained faster toward the delta now, quickened by eddies like water emptying from a bath. The morning was gay with sunlight, fresh and transparent, but Grange was amazed by the silence of these woods where no birds sang. Leaning out of the window, he —8— half turned his back to the captain and raised himself on his arms to look down to the valley floor: no matter where he was, perspectives had always fascinated him to the point of rudeness.

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