‘No,’ he answered. ‘But I have heard of them.’
‘Really!’ I said, keeping my tone free from irony. ’Well, I will not bring you one of my books.’
I looked hard at the door in front of me.
‘For you I will be nothing but a woman,’ I said.
And I fled down the stairs and past the concierge swiftly into the street, as anxious as a thief to escape notice. I got a fiacre at once, and drove away. I would not analyze my heart. I could not. I could but savour the joy, sweet and fresh, that welled up in it as from some secret source. I was so excited that I observed nothing outside myself, and when the cab stopped in front of my hotel, it seemed to me that the journey had occupied scarcely a few seconds. Do you imagine I was saddened by the painful spectacle of Diaz’ collapse in life? No! I only knew that he needed sympathy, and that I could give it to him with both hands. I could give, give! And the last thing that the egotist in me told me before it expired was that I was worthy to give. My longing to assuage the lot of Diaz became almost an anguish.
I returned at about half-past five, bright and eager, with vague anticipations. I seemed to have become used to the house. It no longer offended me, and I had no shame in entering it. I put the key into the door of Diaz’ flat with a clear, high sense of pleasure. He had entrusted me with his key; I could go in as I pleased; I need have no fear of inconveniencing him, of coming at the wrong moment. It seemed wonderful! And as I turned the key and pushed open the door my sole wish was to be of service to him, to comfort him, to render his life less forlorn.
‘Here I am!’ I cried, shutting the door.
There was no answer.
In the smaller of the two tiny sitting-rooms the piano, which had been closed, was open, and I saw that it was a Pleyel. But both rooms were empty.
‘Are you still in bed, then?’ I said.
There was still no answer.
I went cautiously into the bedroom. It, too, was empty. The bed was made, and the flat generally had a superficial air of tidiness. Evidently the charwoman had been and departed; and doubtless Diaz had gone out, to return immediately. I sat down in the chair in which I had spent most of the night. I took off my hat and put it by the side of a tiny satchel which I had brought, and began to wait for him. How delicious it would be to open the door to him! He would notice that I had taken off my hat, and he would be glad. What did the future, the immediate future, hold for me?
A long time I waited, and then I yawned heavily, and remembered that for several days I had had scarcely any sleep. I shut my eyes to relieve the tedium of waiting. When I reopened them, dazed, and startled into sudden activity by mysterious angry noises, it was quite dark. I tried to recall where I was, and to decide what the noises could be. I regained my faculties with an effort. The noises were a beating on the door.