Translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
“That they not kill me!” the condemned man hurried to reply.
The chief of the firing squad, a captain who was neither young nor old, smiled confused. A breeze came from the nearby lake, bringing the sounds of water, of birds. When the captain spoke, incredulity still danced in his mouth.
“Such a digression,” he says at last, “has only one way of justifying itself: let it be so, but you can’t wish for anything more in the rest of your life. This was your last wish, and we have fulfilled it for you.”
And returning to the soldiers, he said, “Men, withdraw.”
The man who had saved his life watched them draw away along the path that bordered the lake.