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By A. H Keane

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The lieutenant’s age, it should be noted, was thirty-one, his wife’s twenty-three; and it was not half a year since the celebration of their marriage. 2 Those who saw the bride and bridegroom in the commemorative photograph—perhaps no less than those actually present at the lieutenant’s wedding—had exclaimed in wonder at the bearing of this handsome couple. The lieutenant, majestic in military uniform, stood protectively beside his bride, his right hand resting upon his sword, his officer’s cap held at his left side.

But I want you as a witness, first, for my own suicide. ” When this was said a sudden release of abundant happiness welled up in both their hearts. Reiko was. deeply affected by the greatness of her husband’s trust in her. It was vital for the lieutenant, whatever else might happen, that there should be no irregularity in his death. For that reason there had to be a witness. The fact that he had chosen his wife for this was the first mark of his trust. The second, and even greater mark, was that though he had pledged that they should die together he did 4 not intend to kill his wife first—he had deferred her death to a time when he would no longer be there to verify it.

Just as it looked now, this would become his death face! Already, in fact, it had half departed from the lieutenant’s personal possession and had become the bust above a dead soldier’s memorial. As an experiment he closed his eyes tight. Everything was wrapped in blackness, and he was no longer a living, seeing creature. Returning from the bath, the traces of the shave glowing faintly blue beneath his smooth cheeks, he seated himself beside the now well-kindled charcoal brazier. Busy though Reiko was, he noticed, she had found time lightly to touch up her face.

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