What was the young Kathleen's clearest memory about saying goodbye to her soldier?

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Arguably, Kathleen's strongest memory about saying goodbye to the soldier is the one in which she cut her hand on the breast button of his uniform. We see just how strong and clear this memory was through the following line:

That cut of the button on the palm of her hand was, principally, what she was to carry away.

However, the memory of the words spoken between Kathleen and the soldier is also very clear, clear enough to be remembered many years later, as she is revisiting her house during the Second World War. Perhaps she remembers this conversation so clearly because of the soldier's words. On the subject of his return, for example, the soldier's words are almost menacing in nature. They appear more like a threat than a heartfelt goodbye:

“I shall be with you,” he said, “sooner or later. You won’t forget that. You need do nothing but wait.”

Together, these are the memories which spring to Kathleen's mind when she reads the letter, and they set the tone for the rest of the story.

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Most of Kathleen's memories about her soldier fiancé were vague. She could not even remember his face. Even when she looked at his photograph, which had been ruined by an acid mark, "under no conditions could she remember his face." As time passed, Kathleen remembered less and less about her former fiancé, who "was reported missing, [and] presumed killed."

One memory did stand out to Kathleen. On the night that she said good-bye to her soldier, she reached out her hand toward him. He took her hand and pressed it, "without very much kindness, and painfully, onto one of the breast buttons of his uniform." He pressed her hand so hard against his sharp buttons that they cut her skin. Even after he had gone, "that cut of the button on the palm of her hand was... what she was to carry away." She wore the scar from that cut even twenty-five years later. It was a reminder of that mysterious and sinister man. Even though much time had passed, Kathleen "remembered with such dreadful acuteness that the twenty-five years since then dissolved like smoke and she instinctively looked for the weal left by the button on the palm of her hand."

Most of the details about Kathleen and the soldier were vague in the story. The most vivid description was of Kathleen's hand being cut on the soldier's buttons.

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