H’m,—like me, yes.
—and that assured me that we had crossed the frontier—that we were really at home. For the train stopped at all the little stations— although there was nothing doing at all.
Then why did it stop—though there was nothing to be done?
Can’t say. No one got out or in; but all the same the train stopped a long, endless time. And at every station I could make out that there were two railway men walking up and down the platform—one with a lantern in his hand—and they said things to each other in the night, low, and toneless, and meaningless.
Yes, that is quite true. There are always two men walking up and down, and talking—–
—of nothing. [Changing to a livelier tone.] But just wait till to-morrow. Then we shall have the great luxurious steamer lying in the harbour. We’ll go on board her, and sail all round the coast— northward ho!—right to the polar sea.
Yes, but then you will see nothing of the country—and of the people. And that was what you particularly wanted.
[Shortly and snappishly.] I have seen more than enough.
Do you think a sea voyage will be better for you?
It is always a change.
Well, well, if only it is the right thing for you—–
For me? The right thing? There is nothing in the world the matter with me.
[Rises and goes to him.] Yes, there is, Rubek. I am sure you must feel it yourself.
Why my dearest Maia—what should be amiss with me?
[Behind him, bending over the back of his chair.] That you must tell me. You have begun to wander about without a moment’s peace. You cannot rest anywhere—neither at home nor abroad. You have become quite misanthropic of late.
[With a touch of sarcasm.] Dear me—have you noticed that?