The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about The Patrician.
He resolved that he would not be ill, a ridiculous log for women to hang over.  But the moments of sickness grew longer and more frequent; and to drive them away he rose from his knees, and for some time again walked up and down; then, seized with vertigo, he was obliged to sit on the bed to save himself from falling.  From being burning hot he had become deadly cold, glad to cover himself with the bedclothes.  The heat soon flamed up in him again; but with a sick man’s instinct he did not throw off the clothes, and stayed quite still.  The room seemed to have turned to a thick white substance like a cloud, in which he lay enwrapped, unable to move hand or foot.  His sense of smell and hearing had become unnaturally acute; he smelled the distant streets, flowers, dust, and the leather of his books, even the scent left by Barbara’s clothes, and a curious odour of river mud.  A clock struck six, he counted each stroke; and instantly the whole world seemed full of striking clocks, the sound of horses’ hoofs, bicycle bells, people’s footfalls.  His sense of vision, on the contrary, was absorbed in consciousness of this white blanket of cloud wherein he was lifted above the earth, in the midst of a dull incessant hammering.  On the surface of the cloud there seemed to be forming a number of little golden spots; these spots were moving, and he saw that they were toads.  Then, beyond them, a huge face shaped itself, very dark, as if of bronze, with eyes burning into his brain.  The more he struggled to get away from these eyes, the more they bored and burned into him.  His voice was gone, so that he was unable to cry out, and suddenly the face marched over him.

When he recovered consciousness his head was damp with moisture trickling from something held to his forehead by a figure leaning above him.  Lifting his hand he touched a cheek; and hearing a sob instantly suppressed, he sighed.  His hand was gently taken; he felt kisses on it.

The room was so dark, that he could scarcely see her face—­his sight too was dim; but he could hear her breathing and the least sound of her dress and movements—­the scent too of her hands and hair seemed to envelop him, and in the midst of all the acute discomfort of his fever, he felt the band round his brain relax.  He did not ask how long she had been there, but lay quite still, trying to keep his eyes on her, for fear of that face, which seemed lurking behind the air, ready to march on him again.  Then feeling suddenly that he could not hold it back, he beckoned, and clutched at her, trying to cover himself with the protection of her breast.  This time his swoon was not so deep; it gave way to delirium, with intervals when he knew that she was there, and by the shaded candle light could see her in a white garment, floating close to him, or sitting still with her hand on his; he could even feel the faint comfort of the ice cap, and of the scent of eau de Cologne.  Then he would lose all consciousness

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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