George Orwell, "A Hanging," The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell
, I: An Age Like This, 1920-1940
(New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1968), pp. 44-48 (at 45-46):
And once, in spite of the
men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to
avoid a puddle on the path.
It is curious, but till that moment I had never realised what
means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner
step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable
wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was
not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his
body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing
nails growing, tissues forming — all toiling away in solemn foolery.
His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he
was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes
saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned — reasoned even about puddles. He and we
were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap,
one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.