The last night

Some wrote tit sobbing passion, some with punctilious care, as though their safety, or at least the way in which they were remembered, depended upon their choice of words. A woman came with a sandwich for each child to take on the Journey. She also had a pail of water, round which they clustered, holding out sardine scans they passed from one to another. One of the older boys embraced her in his gratitude, but the bucket was soon empty. 10 When she was gone, there were only the small hours of the night to go through.

AndГ© was lying on the straw, the soft bloom of his cheek aid, uncaring, in the dung 1 . Jacobs limbs were intertwined with his for warmth. The adults in the room sat slumped against the walls, wakeful and talking in lowered voices 3. Somehow, the children were spared the last hours of the wait by their ability to fall asleep where they lay, to dream of other places. It was still the low part of the night when Hartmann and the head of another staircase came into the room with coffee. Many of the adults refused to drink because they knew it meant breakfast, and therefore the departure 5.

The children were at the deepest moments f their sleep. Those who drank from the half dozen cups that circulated drank in silence. Then there went through the room a sudden ripple, a quickening of muscle and nerves as a sound came to them from below: it was the noise of an engine � a familiar sound to many of them, the homely thudding of a Parisian buses. . Five white-and-green municipal buses had come in through the main entrance, and now stood tremblingly in the wired-off corner of the yard.

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Ata long table , the commandant of the camp himself sat with a list of names that another policeman as calling out in alphabetical ordered. In the place where its suburban destination was normally signaled, each bus carried the number of a wagon on the eastbound trainer. Many of the children were too deeply asleep to be roused, and those who were awake refused to come down when the gendarmes were sent up to fetch themed. In the filthy straw they dug in their heels and screamed. AndГ© heard his name and moved with Jacob towards the bus.

From the other side of the courtyard, from windows open on the dawn, a shower of food was thrown towards hem by women wailing and calling out their names, though none of the scraps reached as far as the enclosure’s. AndГ© looked up, and in a chance angle of light he saw a woman’s face in which the eyes were fixed with terrible ferocity on a child beside him. Why did she stare as though she hated him? 29 Then it came to AndГ©30 that she was not looking in hatred, but had kept her eyes so intensely open in order to fix the picture of her child in her mind. She was looking to remember, for ever.

He held on hard to Jacob as they mounted the platform of the bus. Some of gendarmes, or pulled in by grown-ups already on boarded. AndГ©g’s bus was given the signal to depart, but was delayed. A baby of a few weeks was being lifted on to the back, and the gendarme needed time to work the wooden crib over the passenger arrear and into the crammed interior. Eventually, the bus roared as the driver engaged the gear and bumped slowly out through the entrance, the headlights for a moment lighting up the cafeГ© opposite before the driver turned the wheel and headed for the station.