When they reached the hotel she had dropped to the ground, heavily, and heavily had ascended the steps of the verandah, followed by Androvsky. Without turning to him or bidding him good-night she had gone to her room. She had not acted with intentional rudeness or indifference—indeed, she had felt incapable of an intention. Simply, she had forgotten, for the first time perhaps in her life, an ordinary act of courtesy, as an old person sometimes forgets you are there and withdraws into himself. Androvsky had said nothing, had not tried to attract her attention to himself. She had heard his steps die away on the verandah. Then, mechanically, she had undressed and got into bed, where she was now mechanically counting the passing moments.
Presently she became aware of her own stillness and connected it with the stillness of the dead woman, by the tent. She lay, as it were, watching her own corpse as a Catholic keeps vigil beside a body that has not yet been put into the grave. But in this chamber of death there were no flowers, no lighted candles, no lips that moved in prayer. She had gone to bed without praying. She remembered that now, but with indifference. Dead people do not pray. The living pray for them. But even the watcher could not pray. Another hour struck in the belfry of the church. She listened to the chime and left off counting the moments, and this act of cessation made more perfect the peace of the dead woman.
When the sun rose her sensation of death passed away, leaving behind it, however, a lethargy of mind and body such as she had never known before the previous night. Suzanne, coming in to call her, exclaimed:
“Mam’selle is ill?”
“No. Why should I be ill?”
“Mam’selle looks so strange,” the maid said, regarding her with round and curious eyes. “As if—”
“Give me my tea,” Domini said.
When she was drinking it she asked:
“Do you know at what time the train leaves Beni-Mora—the passenger train?”
“Yes, Mam’selle. There is only one in the day. It goes soon after twelve. Monsieur Helmuth told me.”
“What gown will—?”
“Any gown—the white linen one I had on yesterday.”
“No, not that. Any other gown. Is it to be hot?”
“Very hot, Mam’selle. There is not a cloud in the sky.”
“How strange!” Domini said, in a low voice that Suzanne did not hear. When she was up and dressed she said:
“I am going out to Count Anteoni’s garden. I think I’ll—yes, I’ll take a book with me.”
She went into her little salon and looked at the volumes scattered about there, some books of devotion, travel, books on sport, Rossetti’s and Newman’s poems, some French novels, and the novels of Jane Austen, of which, oddly, considering her nature, she was very fond. For the first time in her life they struck her as shrivelled, petty chronicles of shrivelled, bloodless, artificial lives. She turned back into her bedroom, took up the little white volume of the Imitation, which lay always near her bed, and went out into the verandah. She looked neither to right nor left, but at once descended the staircase and took her way along the arcade.