Suddenly I saw, right before my eyes, the inn where we were staying. Trembling, I put the key in the lock. What awaited me behind the door? My friend had so completely vanished from my thoughts that I did not even ask myself whether he might have returned yet.
I searched all the crannies of our suite, one after the other; looked under the armchairs, sofas, and beds with a lighted candle, opened and quickly closed the cubbies, locked the door and carefully rearranged the furniture, and was frightened by my very eagerness to allay my fear. I loaded my revolver. In my bedroom I took the most elaborate precautions. To what end?
Somebody stopped on my floor
I certainly did not mean to try to go to sleep. I began to read, my eyes glued to the pages, but my attention really occupied with what might be lurking behind the door, outside the window. I could hear the, steps of a fellow-lodger coming up the stair, moving to the rhythm of my anxiety. Somebody stopped on my floor. I jumped up- out of bed, thinking of burglars.
A dazzling idea came to me: to notify the police. I half dressed myself, but the moment I got to the street all my fever laid hold of me again. Should I jostle those beggars who stood like figures on a monument, and lose myself once more in the labyrinth of night from which I had emerged by miracle? Should I renew my former unrest? And work myself up to madness? I reascended the stairs, and when I stood in front of my lodging, I trembled to think what might have happened in my absence.
I remember I sank down on the threshold with my arms hanging limp and weary, while at the same time I seemed to be raised and thrust away by a thousand unfeeling hands. I heard the noisy speech of other lodgers who were coming up the stairs.
Nearer they came. Leaning over the landing I thought to make them a sign, to appeal to them, to say something at least, and then involuntarily I huddled back against the wall, mute, with bated breath, and as I hid myself I thought that all my blood had gone out of me, that I was collapsing. They filed past without seeing me, then vanished into their several lodgings.
was enraged at myself for not having addressed them. I even climbed one flight
to knock at the end of a passage when the last comer had disappeared. When I
got there I fled hastily down again.
at once I sprang downstairs four steps at a time and came out into the street,
not knowing what I was doing.