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On the other side of the cemetery path was a concrete basin

with a tap. He ran some water into a bowl, screwed the lid

off the container of stone cleaner, and poured in the strong

stuff. He did not immediately notice when some of it

splashed onto his coat sleeve; when he finally saw the spot,

it did not make much of an impression. Truthfully, it fit his

overall appearance. He had not washed or shaved in several

days, and his bright brown eyes sought the source of every

small sound, be it a rustle in the newly fallen leaves or a

bird suddenly bursting into song. Compared to his body, his

head was strikingly small; he was quite large, and the grimy

coat made him look even more massive.

Eigil’s original plan had been to clean the entire stone, and

also to scrape off the moss and the lichen, but that would

only make the stone dirtier. Indeed, the patina would

certainly vanish. He knelt down before the gravestone and,

with a small screwdriver, began cleaning the engraved

lettering of the accumulated debris. And there were 132

letters in total. Eigil had plenty of time, however, and when

he finished his cleaning, he took a paint brush from his bag

and began to brush and wash each individual letter with

stone cleaner.

Just like a scoured corpse, Eigil thought, and a giggle broke

through his lips. Exactly – a scoured corpse. Like a skeleton

preserved in dry skins, or as Eliot wrote of the whispering