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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Incident In London

By James Baldwin

The Magpie, Spring 1941, v. 25, n. 2, p. 33.

The small chapel stood on the white, still street, and seemed, in the darkness, to be a thing eternal, a bulwark and a refuge from strife and from fear. And the man hurried towards it.

The man was no longer young, and he stooped a little as he hurried. His hands were large and rough, and he carried shrapnel in one deg. His face was scarred with the scars of many battles. and his eyes were bleak and hard.

And the chapel beckoned in the dim, frosty moonlight, and he hurried towards it.

Long before, when the man was young, and before he had gone off to the many wars that were always being fought, he had believed implicitly in the faith he had been taught. He had believed in God, in peace, in righteousness, and the dignity and decency of man. But after he had fought, and had seen how strife degraded and destroyed humanity, his faith had lost its glory and had disappeared.

But now, still another war had come, and his family and his loved ones had perished, and he was alone and lost without them, and being lost, knew not what to turn to.

And the chapel beckoned in the cold moonlight, and he hurried towards it. . . .

And as he hurried, the stars winked and trembled in the heavens, and as he entered, they, for an instant, hid themselves, and the man knelt before the rough, heavy crucifix and closed his eyes.

And suddenly the skies blazed fire, and the stars were blotted out, and a roar of fury filled the universe. And slowly the chapel crumbled to the white, still earth.

And the street was as it had been before, save that the chapel had been destroyed, and the snow was no longer pure, but filthy, and the man was dead.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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