Call it frenzy if you like—I don’t much mind what people call it. But I was as sure as I have ever been of anything in this life, or ever expect to be, that the sufferings of my poor martyred darling were at an end, and that within an hour I should be holding her in my arms.
[END OF MARTIN CONRAD’S MEMORANDUM]
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTH CHAPTER
There must be a physical power in fierce emotion to deprive us of the use of our senses of hearing and even of sight, for my memory of what happened after I left the Jew’s has blank places in it.
Trying to recall the incidents of that night is like travelling on a moorland road under a flying moon, with sometimes the whitest light in which everything is clearly seen, and then the blackest darkness.
I remember taking the electric car going west, and seeing the Whitechapel Road shooting by me, with its surging crowds of pedestrians, its public-houses, its Cinema shows, and its Jewish theatres.
I remember getting down at Aldgate Pump, and walking through that dead belt of the City, which, lying between east and west, is alive like a beehive by day and silent and deserted by night.
I remember seeing an old man, with a face like a rat’s, picking up cigar-ends from the gutters before the dark Banks, and then a flock of sheep bleating before a barking dog as they were driven through the echoing streets from the river-side towards the slaughter-houses near Smithfield Market.
I remember that when I came to St. Paul’s the precincts of the cathedral were very quiet and the big clock was striking nine. But on Ludgate Hill the traffic was thick, and when I reached Fleet Street crowds of people were standing in front of the newspaper offices, reading large placards in written characters which were pasted on the windows.
I remember that I did not look at these placards, thinking their news was nothing to me, who had not seen a newspaper for months and for whom the world was now eclipsed, but that as I stepped round one of the crowds, which extended to the middle of the street, somebody said:
“He has landed at Southampton, it seems.”
I remember that when I reached Charing Cross I found myself on the fringe of another and much larger crowd, and that the people, who seemed to be waiting for somebody and were chatting with a noise like the crackling of thorns under a pot, were saying:
“His train is fifty minutes late, so we’ve half an hour to wait yet.”
Then I remember that walking at random round St Martin’s Church into Leicester Square I came upon three “public women” who were swinging along with a high step and laughing loudly, and that one of them was Angela, and that she stopped on seeing me and cried:
“Hello! Here I am again, you see! Giovanni’s dead, and I don’t care a damn!”