KIKI-THE-DEMURE, (irritably, in a low tone)
What? You’re listening to some noise?
No! Heavens, no! Don’t mention noise. The mere sound of your voice makes the skin on my back go in waves like the sea. TOBY-DOG, (frightened)
Are you going to die?
I hope not. I’ve a sick headache. Can’t you see the arteries throbbing under the almost hairless skin of my temples—the transparent, bluish skin that denotes a thoroughbred? It’s atrocious! The veins on my forehead are like writhing vipers, and I don’t know what gnome forges in my brain! Oh, be quiet! Or at least speak so low that the coursing of my agitated blood may drown the sound of your voice....
But it’s this very silence that oppresses me. I tremble and don’t know why. I long for the familiar voice of the wind in the chimney, the slamming of doors, the whispering of the garden, the poplars’ ceaseless rustle—it always sounds like a trickling spring—
The uproar will come, soon enough.
TOBY-DOG Do you think so? I wish He’d scratch paper. It’s an idle habit but an honored one. And see how listless She is, there in her wicker chair. Their silence frightens me more than anything. She seems asleep, but I can see her eyelashes move and the tips of her fingers, too. She’s forgetting to play with the little balls of thread and doesn’t sing, or whistle. She suffers just as we do.... Do you think this can be the end of the world, Cat?
No. It’s a storm. Heavens! how uncomfortable I am! If I could only get out of my skin, cast off this fleece which is smothering me, fling myself naked as a skinned mouse into a fresher atmosphere! Oh Dog, you cannot see the sparks that make every separate hair on my body crackle, but I feel them. Don’t come near! A blue flame is going to shoot out of me....
Things are coming to an awful pass! (He drags himself to the porch.) What have they done to the out-of-doors? Look! the trees are all blue and the grass glistens like a sheet of water. What mournful sunlight! It shines white on the slate roofs, and the little houses over there on the hill look like brand new tombstones. A heavy odor, like bitter almond, creeps from the white bell-shaped blossoms of the daturas, and makes me feel sick and faint. Far away, some smoke, heavy as the perfume of the daturas, goes slowly up in a straight line and falls again—like a broken aigrette.... But come and see for yourself!