The agitation which had seized upon me at the beginning of our conversation had gradually subsided; I thought our intimacy rather strange—that was all. I did not like the smile with which the baron questioned me; neither did I like the expression of his eyes when he fairly stabbed them into me.... There was about them something rapacious and condescending ... something which inspired dread. I had not seen those eyes in my dream. The baron had a strange face! It was pallid, fatigued, and, at the same time, youthful in appearance, but with a disagreeable youthfulness! Neither had my “nocturnal” father that deep scar, which intersected his whole forehead in a slanting direction, and which I did not notice until I moved closer to him.
Before I had had time to impart to the baron the name of the street and the number of the house where we lived, a tall negro, wrapped up in a cloak to his very eyes, approached him from behind and tapped him softly on the shoulder. The baron turned round, said: “Aha! At last!” and nodding lightly to me, entered the coffee-house with the negro. I remained under the awning. I wished to wait until the baron should come out again, not so much for the sake of entering again into conversation with him (I really did not know what topic I could start with), as for the purpose of again verifying my first impression.—But half an hour passed; an hour passed.... The baron did not make his appearance. I entered the coffee-house, I made the circuit of all the rooms—but nowhere did I see either the baron or the negro.... Both of them must have taken their departure through the back door.
My head had begun to ache a little, and with the object of refreshing myself I set out along the seashore to the extensive park outside the town, which had been laid out ten years previously. After having strolled for a couple of hours in the shade of the huge oaks and plaintain-trees, I returned home.
Our maid-servant flew to meet me, all tremulous with agitation, as soon as I made my appearance in the anteroom. I immediately divined, from the expression of her face, that something unpleasant had occurred in our house during my absence.—And, in fact, I learned that half an hour before a frightful shriek had rung out from my mother’s bedroom. When the maid rushed in she found her on the floor in a swoon which lasted for several minutes. My mother had recovered consciousness at last, but had been obliged to go to bed, and wore a strange, frightened aspect; she had not uttered a word, she had not replied to questions—she had done nothing but glance around her and tremble. The servant had sent the gardener for a doctor. The doctor had come and had prescribed a soothing potion, but my mother had refused to say anything to him either. The gardener asserted that a few moments after the