“I should not know how to thank you,” he said, accepting the notes. “Truly—”
His joy was unmistakably eager. He had had a shock and a fright, and he now saw the danger past. He could return to the cashier of his newspaper, and fling down the money with a lordly and careless air, as if to say: “When it is a question of these English, one can always be sure!” But first he would escort her to the hotel. She declined—she did not know why, for he was her sole point of moral support in all France. He insisted. She yielded. So she turned her back, with regret, on that little English oasis in the Sahara of Paris, and staggered to the fiacre.
And now that she had done what she had to do, she lost control of her body, and reclined flaccid and inert. Chirac was evidently alarmed. He did not speak, but glanced at her from time to time with eyes full of fear. The carriage appeared to her to be swimming amid waves over great depths. Then she was aware of a heavy weight against her shoulder; she had slipped down upon Chirac, unconscious.
Then she was lying in bed in a small room, obscure because it was heavily curtained; the light came through the inner pair of curtains of ecru lace, with a beautiful soft silvery quality. A man was standing by the side of the bed—not Chirac.
“Now, madame,” he said to her, with kind firmness, and speaking with a charming exaggerated purity of the vowels. “You have the mucous fever. I have had it myself. You will be forced to take baths, very frequently. I must ask you to reconcile yourself to that, to be good.”
She did not reply. It did not occur to her to reply. But she certainly thought that this doctor—he was probably a doctor—was overestimating her case. She felt better than she had felt for two days. Still, she did not desire to move, nor was she in the least anxious as to her surroundings. She lay quiet.
A woman in a rather coquettish deshabille watched over her with expert skill.
Later, Sophia seemed to be revisiting the sea on whose waves the cab had swum; but now she was under the sea, in a watery gulf, terribly deep; and the sounds of the world came to her through the water, sudden and strange. Hands seized her and forced her from the subaqueous grotto where she had hidden into new alarms. And she briefly perceived that there was a large bath by the side of the bed, and that she was being pushed into it. The water was icy cold. After that her outlook upon things was for a time clearer and more precise. She knew from fragments of talk which she heard that she was put into the cold bath by her bed every three hours, night and day, and that she remained in it for ten minutes. Always, before the bath, she had to drink a glass of wine, and sometimes another glass while she was in