Suddenly I was better. I quite recovered from my fever and only lay still on my bed, weak, and very hungry. I was happy, happy as I had not been since I came to Petrograd. I felt all the luxury of convalescence creeping into my bones. All that I need do was to lie there and let people feed me and read a little if it did not make my head ache. I had a water-colour painted by Alexander Benois on the wall opposite me, a night in the Caucasus, with a heavy sweep of black hill, a deep blue steady sky, and a thin grey road running into endless distance. A pleasing picture, with no finality in its appeal—intimate too, so that it was one’s own road and one’s own hill. I had bought it extravagantly, at last year’s “Mir Eskoustva,” and now I was pleased at my extravagance.
Marfa was very good to me, feeding me, and being cross with me to make me take an interest in things, and acting with wonderful judgement about my visitors. Numbers of people, English and Russian, came to see me—I had not known that I had so many friends. I felt amiable to all the world, and hopeful about it, too. I looked back on the period before my illness as a bad dream.
People told me I was foolish to live out in this wretched place of mine, where it was cold and wild and lonely. And then when they came again they were not so sure, and they looked out on the ice that shone in waves and shadows of light under the sun, and thought that perhaps they too would try. But of course, I knew well that they would not....
As I grew stronger I felt an intense and burning interest in the history that had been developing when I fell ill. I heard that Vera Michailovna and Nina had called many times. Markovitch had been, and Henry Bohun and Lawrence.
Then, one sunny afternoon, Henry Bohun came in and I was surprised at my pleasure at the sight of him. He was shocked at the change in me, and was too young to conceal it.
“Oh, you do look bad!” were his first words as he sat down by my bed. “I say, are you comfortable here? Wouldn’t you rather be somewhere with conveniences—telephone and lifts and things?”
“Not at all!” I answered. “I’ve got a telephone. I’m very happy where I am.”
“It is a queer place,” he said. “Isn’t it awfully unhealthy?”
“Quite the reverse—with the sea in front of it! About the healthiest spot in Petrograd!”
“But I should get the blues here. So lonely and quiet. Petrograd is a strange town! Most people don’t dream there’s a queer place like this.”
“That’s why I like it,” I said. “I expect there are lots of queer places in Petrograd if you only knew.”
He wandered about the room, looking at my few pictures and my books and my writing-table. At last he sat down again by my bed.
“Now tell me all the news,” I said.
“News?” he asked. He looked uncomfortable, and I saw at once that he had come to confide something in me. “What sort of news? Political?”