Someone was taking him from her, though he had bent down her head so much,Or the last chapter of Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, some of the most exquisite pages ever written in American fiction. Father Latour has returned to die in Santa Fe, near his cathedral: "In New Mexico he always awoke a young man; not until he rose and began to shave did he realize that he was growing older. His first consciousness was a sense of the light dry wind blowing in through the windows, with the fragrance of hot sun and sage-brush and sweet clover; a wind that made one's body feel light and one's heart cry 'To-day, to'day,' like a child's." Lying in his bed he thinks about his old life in France, about his new life in the New World, about the architect, Molny, who built his Romanesque cathedral in Sante Fe, and about death. He is lucid and calm:
that his little sturdy hands were unfastened from around her neck, and he was
resolutely borne away, before she knew that Captain Wentworth had done it.
Her sensations on the discovery made her perfectly speechless. She could
not even thank him. She could only hang over little Charles, with most
He observed also that there was no longer any perspective in his memories.
He remembered his winters with his cousins on the Mediterranean when he was a
little boy, his student days in the Holy City, as clearly as he remembered the
arrival of M. Molny and the building of his Cathedral. He was soon to have done
with calendared time, and it had already ceased to count for him. He sat in the
middle of his own consciousness; none of his former states of mind were lost or
outgrown. They were all within reach of his hand, and all comprehensible.
Sometimes, when Magdalena or Bernard came in and asked him a question, it
took him several seconds to bring himself back to the present. He could see they
thought his mind was failing; but it was only extraordinarily active in some
other part of the great picture of his life--some part of which they knew
--James Wood, How Fiction Works