The old man leaned forward again smiling.
“Do not be impatient and critical,” he said. “It is enough that you and I are going. That should occupy us. Come, let us look through these papers again.”
It was an hour later that they swept down into the French plains. The glass cleared again as they reached the warmer levels, and Monsignor became conscious of an overpowering weariness. He yawned uncontrollably once or twice. His companion laughed.
“Lie down a little, Monsignor. You have had a hard day of it. I must have some sleep too. We must be as fresh as we can for our interview.”
Monsignor said nothing. He stepped across to the other couch, and slipped off his shoes, took off his cincture, and lay down without a word. Almost before he had finished wondering at the marvellous steadiness of this flying arrow of a ship, he had sunk down into complete unconsciousness.
He awoke with a start, coming up, as is common after the deep sleep of exhaustion, into a state in which, although the senses are awake, the intellect is still in a kind of paralysis of slumber. He threw his feet off the couch and sat up, staring about him.
The first thing which he noticed was that the cabin was full of a pale morning light, cold and cheerless, although the shaded lights still burned in the roof. Then he saw that the Cardinal was sitting at the farther end of the opposite couch, looking intently out; that one of the glass shutters was slid back, and that a cold, foggy air was visibly pouring in past the old man’s head. Then he saw the head of the driver through the glass panes in the door; his hand rested on the grip of some apparatus connected with the steering, he believed.
But beyond this there was nothing to be seen through the windows opposite, of which the curtains had been drawn back; he saw nothing but white driving mist. He tore back the curtains behind him, and there also was the mist. It was plain then that they were not at rest at any stage; and yet the slight humming vibration, of which he had been conscious before he fell asleep, and even during one or two moments of semi-wakefulness during the night, this had ceased. The car hung here, like a floating balloon, motionless, purposeless—far up out of sight of land, and an absolute silence hung round it.
He moved a little as these things began to arrange themselves in his mind, and at the movement the Cardinal turned round. He looked old and worn in this chilly light, and his unshaven chin sparkled like frost. But he spoke in his ordinary voice, without any sign of discomposure.
“So you are awake, Monsignor? I thought I would let you have your sleep out.”
“What has happened? Where are we?”
“We arrived half an hour ago. They signalled to us to remain where we were until they came up.”
“We have arrived!”