Winnie Verloc, the widow of Mr Verloc, the sister of the late
faithful Stevie (blown to fragments in a state of innocence and
in the conviction of being engaged in a humanitarian enterprise),
did not run beyond the door of the parlour. She had indeed
run away so far from a mere trickle of blood, but that was a
movement of instinctive repulsion. And there she had
paused, with staring eyes and lowered head. As though she
had run through long years in her flight across the small
parlour, Mrs Verloc by the door was quite a different person from
the woman who had been leaning over the sofa, a little swimmy in
her head, but otherwise free to enjoy the profound calm of
idleness and irresponsibility. Mrs Verloc was no longer
giddy. Her head was steady. On the other hand, she
was no longer calm. She was afraid.
If she avoided looking in the direction of her reposing
husband it was not because she was afraid of him. Mr Verloc
was not frightful to behold. He looked comfortable.
Moreover, he was dead. Mrs Verloc entertained no vain
delusions on the subject of the dead. Nothing brings them
back, neither love nor hate. They can do nothing to
you. They are as nothing. Her mental state was tinged
by a sort of austere contempt for that man who had let himself be
killed so easily. He had been the master of a house, the
husband of a woman, and the murderer of her Stevie. And now
he was of no account in every respect. He was of less
practical account than the clothing on his body, than his
overcoat, than his boots—than that hat lying on the
floor. He was nothing. He was not worth looking
at. He was even no longer the murderer of poor
Stevie. The only murderer that would be found in the room
when people came to look for Mr Verloc would
Her hands shook so that she failed twice in the task of
refastening her veil. Mrs Verloc was no longer a person of
leisure and responsibility. She was afraid. The
stabbing of Mr Verloc had been only a blow. It had relieved
the pent-up agony of shrieks strangled in her throat, of tears
dried up in her hot eyes, of the maddening and indignant rage at
the atrocious part played by that man, who was less than nothing
now, in robbing her of the boy.
It had been an obscurely prompted blow. The blood
trickling on the floor off the handle of the knife had turned it
into an extremely plain case of murder. Mrs Verloc, who
always refrained from looking deep into things, was compelled to
look into the very bottom of this thing. She saw there no
haunting face, no reproachful shade, no vision of remorse, no
sort of ideal conception. She saw there an object.
That object was the gallows. Mrs Verloc was afraid of the
She was terrified of them ideally. Having never set eyes
on that last argument of men’s justice except in
illustrative woodcuts to a certain type of tales, she first saw
them erect against a black and stormy background, festooned with
chains and human bones, circled about by birds that peck at dead
men’s eyes. This was frightful enough, but Mrs
Verloc, though not a well-informed woman, had a sufficient
knowledge of the institutions of her country to know that gallows
are no longer erected romantically on the banks of dismal rivers
or on wind-swept headlands, but in the yards of jails.
There within four high walls, as if into a pit, at dawn of day,
the murderer was brought out to be executed, with a horrible
quietness and, as the reports in the newspapers always said,
“in the presence of the authorities.” With her
eyes staring on the floor, her nostrils quivering with anguish
and shame, she imagined herself all alone amongst a lot of
strange gentlemen in silk hats who were calmly proceeding about
the business of hanging her by the neck.
That—never! Never! And how was it done?
The impossibility of imagining the details of such quiet
execution added something maddening to her abstract terror.
The newspapers never gave any details except one, but that one
with some affectation was always there at the end of a meagre
report. Mrs Verloc remembered its nature. It came
with a cruel burning pain into her head, as if the words
“The drop given was fourteen feet” had been scratched
on her brain with a hot needle. “The drop given was
These words affected her physically too. Her throat
became convulsed in waves to resist strangulation; and the
apprehension of the jerk was so vivid that she seized her head in
both hands as if to save it from being torn off her
shoulders. “The drop given was fourteen
feet.” No! that must never be. She could not
stand that. The thought of it even was not
bearable. She could not stand thinking of it.
Therefore Mrs Verloc formed the resolution to go at once and
throw herself into the river off one of the bridges.
This time she managed to refasten her veil. With her
face as if masked, all black from head to foot except for some
flowers in her hat, she looked up mechanically at the
clock. She thought it must have stopped. She could
not believe that only two minutes had passed since she had looked
at it last. Of course not. It had been stopped all
the time. As a matter of fact, only three minutes had
elapsed from the moment she had drawn the first deep, easy breath
after the blow, to this moment when Mrs Verloc formed the
resolution to drown herself in the Thames. But Mrs Verloc
could not believe that. She seemed to have heard or read
that clocks and watches always stopped at the moment of murder
for the undoing of the murderer. She did not care.
“To the bridge—and over I go.” . . . But her
movements were slow.
She dragged herself painfully across the shop, and had to hold
on to the handle of the door before she found the necessary
fortitude to open it. The street frightened her, since it
led either to the gallows or to the river. She floundered
over the doorstep head forward, arms thrown out, like a person
falling over the parapet of a bridge. This entrance into
the open air had a foretaste of drowning; a slimy dampness
enveloped her, entered her nostrils, clung to her hair. It
was not actually raining, but each gas lamp had a rusty little
halo of mist. The van and horses were gone, and in the
black street the curtained window of the carters’
eating-house made a square patch of soiled blood-red light
glowing faintly very near the level of the pavement. Mrs
Verloc, dragging herself slowly towards it, thought that she was
a very friendless woman. It was true. It was so true
that, in a sudden longing to see some friendly face, she could
think of no one else but of Mrs Neale, the charwoman. She
had no acquaintances of her own. Nobody would miss her in a
social way. It must not be imagined that the Widow Verloc
had forgotten her mother. This was not so. Winnie had
been a good daughter because she had been a devoted sister.
Her mother had always leaned on her for support. No
consolation or advice could be expected there. Now that
Stevie was dead the bond seemed to be broken. She could not
face the old woman with the horrible tale. Moreover, it was
too far. The river was her present destination. Mrs
Verloc tried to forget her mother.
Each step cost her an effort of will which seemed the last
possible. Mrs Verloc had dragged herself past the red glow
of the eating-house window. “To the bridge—and
over I go,” she repeated to herself with fierce
obstinacy. She put out her hand just in time to steady
herself against a lamp-post. “I’ll never get
there before morning,” she thought. The fear of death
paralysed her efforts to escape the gallows. It seemed to
her she had been staggering in that street for hours.
“I’ll never get there,” she thought.
“They’ll find me knocking about the streets.
It’s too far.” She held on, panting under her
“The drop given was fourteen feet.”
She pushed the lamp-post away from her violently, and found
herself walking. But another wave of faintness overtook her
like a great sea, washing away her heart clean out of her
breast. “I will never get there,” she muttered,
suddenly arrested, swaying lightly where she stood.
And perceiving the utter impossibility of walking as far as
the nearest bridge, Mrs Verloc thought of a flight abroad.
It came to her suddenly. Murderers escaped. They
escaped abroad. Spain or California. Mere
names. The vast world created for the glory of man was only
a vast blank to Mrs Verloc. She did not know which way to
turn. Murderers had friends, relations, helpers—they
had knowledge. She had nothing. She was the most
lonely of murderers that ever struck a mortal blow. She was
alone in London: and the whole town of marvels and mud, with its
maze of streets and its mass of lights, was sunk in a hopeless
night, rested at the bottom of a black abyss from which no
unaided woman could hope to scramble out.
She swayed forward, and made a fresh start blindly, with an
awful dread of falling down; but at the end of a few steps,
unexpectedly, she found a sensation of support, of
security. Raising her head, she saw a man’s face
peering closely at her veil. Comrade Ossipon was not afraid
of strange women, and no feeling of false delicacy could prevent
him from striking an acquaintance with a woman apparently very
much intoxicated. Comrade Ossipon was interested in
women. He held up this one between his two large palms,
peering at her in a business-like way till he heard her say
faintly “Mr Ossipon!” and then he very nearly let her
drop to the ground.
“Mrs Verloc!” he exclaimed. “You
It seemed impossible to him that she should have been
drinking. But one never knows. He did not go into
that question, but attentive not to discourage kind fate
surrendering to him the widow of Comrade Verloc, he tried to draw
her to his breast. To his astonishment she came quite
easily, and even rested on his arm for a moment before she
attempted to disengage herself. Comrade Ossipon would not
be brusque with kind fate. He withdrew his arm in a natural
“You recognised me,” she faltered out, standing
before him, fairly steady on her legs.
“Of course I did,” said Ossipon with perfect
readiness. “I was afraid you were going to
fall. I’ve thought of you too often lately not to
recognise you anywhere, at any time. I’ve always
thought of you—ever since I first set eyes on
Mrs Verloc seemed not to hear. “You were coming to
the shop?” she said nervously.
“Yes; at once,” answered Ossipon.
“Directly I read the paper.”
In fact, Comrade Ossipon had been skulking for a good two
hours in the neighbourhood of Brett Street, unable to make up his
mind for a bold move. The robust anarchist was not exactly
a bold conqueror. He remembered that Mrs Verloc had never
responded to his glances by the slightest sign of
encouragement. Besides, he thought the shop might be
watched by the police, and Comrade Ossipon did not wish the
police to form an exaggerated notion of his revolutionary
sympathies. Even now he did not know precisely what to
do. In comparison with his usual amatory speculations this
was a big and serious undertaking. He ignored how much
there was in it and how far he would have to go in order to get
hold of what there was to get—supposing there was a chance
at all. These perplexities checking his elation imparted to
his tone a soberness well in keeping with the circumstances.
“May I ask you where you were going?” he inquired
in a subdued voice.
“Don’t ask me!” cried Mrs Verloc with a
shuddering, repressed violence. All her strong vitality
recoiled from the idea of death. “Never mind where I
was going. . . .”
Ossipon concluded that she was very much excited but perfectly
sober. She remained silent by his side for moment, then all
at once she did something which he did not expect. She
slipped her hand under his arm. He was startled by the act
itself certainly, and quite as much too by the palpably resolute
character of this movement. But this being a delicate
affair, Comrade Ossipon behaved with delicacy. He contented
himself by pressing the hand slightly against his robust
ribs. At the same time he felt himself being impelled
forward, and yielded to the impulse. At the end of Brett
Street he became aware of being directed to the left. He
The fruiterer at the corner had put out the blazing glory of
his oranges and lemons, and Brett Place was all darkness,
interspersed with the misty halos of the few lamps defining its
triangular shape, with a cluster of three lights on one stand in
the middle. The dark forms of the man and woman glided
slowly arm in arm along the walls with a loverlike and homeless
aspect in the miserable night.
“What would you say if I were to tell you that I was
going to find you?” Mrs Verloc asked, gripping his arm with
“I would say that you couldn’t find anyone more
ready to help you in your trouble,” answered Ossipon, with
a notion of making tremendous headway. In fact, the
progress of this delicate affair was almost taking his breath
“In my trouble!” Mrs Verloc repeated slowly.
“And do you know what my trouble is?” she
whispered with strange intensity.
“Ten minutes after seeing the evening paper,”
explained Ossipon with ardour, “I met a fellow whom you may
have seen once or twice at the shop perhaps, and I had a talk
with him which left no doubt whatever in my mind. Then I
started for here, wondering whether you—I’ve been
fond of you beyond words ever since I set eyes on your
face,” he cried, as if unable to command his feelings.
Comrade Ossipon assumed correctly that no woman was capable of
wholly disbelieving such a statement. But he did not know
that Mrs Verloc accepted it with all the fierceness the instinct
of self-preservation puts into the grip of a drowning
person. To the widow of Mr Verloc the robust anarchist was
like a radiant messenger of life.
They walked slowly, in step. “I thought so,”
Mrs Verloc murmured faintly.
“You’ve read it in my eyes,” suggested
Ossipon with great assurance.
“Yes,” she breathed out into his inclined ear.
“A love like mine could not be concealed from a woman
like you,” he went on, trying to detach his mind from
material considerations such as the business value of the shop,
and the amount of money Mr Verloc might have left in the
bank. He applied himself to the sentimental side of the
affair. In his heart of hearts he was a little shocked at
his success. Verloc had been a good fellow, and certainly a
very decent husband as far as one could see. However,
Comrade Ossipon was not going to quarrel with his luck for the
sake of a dead man. Resolutely he suppressed his sympathy
for the ghost of Comrade Verloc, and went on.
“I could not conceal it. I was too full of
you. I daresay you could not help seeing it in my
eyes. But I could not guess it. You were always so
distant. . . .”
“What else did you expect?” burst out Mrs
Verloc. “I was a respectable woman—”
She paused, then added, as if speaking to herself, in sinister
resentment: “Till he made me what I am.”
Ossipon let that pass, and took up his running.
“He never did seem to me to be quite worthy of you,”
he began, throwing loyalty to the winds. “You were
worthy of a better fate.”
Mrs Verloc interrupted bitterly:
“Better fate! He cheated me out of seven years of
“You seemed to live so happily with him.”
Ossipon tried to exculpate the lukewarmness of his past
conduct. “It’s that what’s made me
timid. You seemed to love him. I was
surprised—and jealous,” he added.
“Love him!” Mrs Verloc cried out in a whisper,
full of scorn and rage. “Love him! I was a good
wife to him. I am a respectable woman. You thought I
loved him! You did! Look here, Tom—”
The sound of this name thrilled Comrade Ossipon with
pride. For his name was Alexander, and he was called Tom by
arrangement with the most familiar of his intimates. It was
a name of friendship—of moments of expansion. He had
no idea that she had ever heard it used by anybody. It was
apparent that she had not only caught it, but had treasured it in
her memory—perhaps in her heart.
“Look here, Tom! I was a young girl. I was
done up. I was tired. I had two people depending on
what I could do, and it did seem as if I couldn’t do any
more. Two people—mother and the boy. He was
much more mine than mother’s. I sat up nights and
nights with him on my lap, all alone upstairs, when I
wasn’t more than eight years old myself. And
then—He was mine, I tell you. . . . You can’t
understand that. No man can understand it. What was I
to do? There was a young fellow—”
The memory of the early romance with the young butcher
survived, tenacious, like the image of a glimpsed ideal in that
heart quailing before the fear of the gallows and full of revolt
“That was the man I loved then,” went on the widow
of Mr Verloc. “I suppose he could see it in my eyes
too. Five and twenty shillings a week, and his father
threatened to kick him out of the business if he made such a fool
of himself as to marry a girl with a crippled mother and a crazy
idiot of a boy on her hands. But he would hang about me,
till one evening I found the courage to slam the door in his
face. I had to do it. I loved him dearly. Five
and twenty shillings a week! There was that other
man—a good lodger. What is a girl to do? Could
I’ve gone on the streets? He seemed kind. He
wanted me, anyhow. What was I to do with mother and that
poor boy? Eh? I said yes. He seemed
good-natured, he was freehanded, he had money, he never said
anything. Seven years—seven years a good wife to him,
the kind, the good, the generous, the—And he loved
me. Oh yes. He loved me till I sometimes wished
myself—Seven years. Seven years a wife to him.
And do you know what he was, that dear friend of yours? Do
you know what he was? He was a devil!”
The superhuman vehemence of that whispered statement
completely stunned Comrade Ossipon. Winnie Verloc turning
about held him by both arms, facing him under the falling mist in
the darkness and solitude of Brett Place, in which all sounds of
life seemed lost as if in a triangular well of asphalt and
bricks, of blind houses and unfeeling stones.
“No; I didn’t know,” he declared, with a
sort of flabby stupidity, whose comical aspect was lost upon a
woman haunted by the fear of the gallows, “but I do
now. I—I understand,” he floundered on, his
mind speculating as to what sort of atrocities Verloc could have
practised under the sleepy, placid appearances of his married
estate. It was positively awful. “I
understand,” he repeated, and then by a sudden inspiration
uttered an—“Unhappy woman!” of lofty
commiseration instead of the more familiar “Poor
darling!” of his usual practice. This was no usual
case. He felt conscious of something abnormal going on,
while he never lost sight of the greatness of the stake.
“Unhappy, brave woman!”
He was glad to have discovered that variation; but he could
discover nothing else.
“Ah, but he is dead now,” was the best he could
do. And he put a remarkable amount of animosity into his
guarded exclamation. Mrs Verloc caught at his arm with a
sort of frenzy.
“You guessed then he was dead,” she murmured, as
if beside herself. “You! You guessed what I had
to do. Had to!”
There were suggestions of triumph, relief, gratitude in the
indefinable tone of these words. It engrossed the whole
attention of Ossipon to the detriment of mere literal
sense. He wondered what was up with her, why she had worked
herself into this state of wild excitement. He even began
to wonder whether the hidden causes of that Greenwich Park affair
did not lie deep in the unhappy circumstances of the
Verlocs’ married life. He went so far as to suspect
Mr Verloc of having selected that extraordinary manner of
committing suicide. By Jove! that would account for the
utter inanity and wrong-headedness of the thing. No
anarchist manifestation was required by the circumstances.
Quite the contrary; and Verloc was as well aware of that as any
other revolutionist of his standing. What an immense joke
if Verloc had simply made fools of the whole of Europe, of the
revolutionary world, of the police, of the press, and of the
cocksure Professor as well. Indeed, thought Ossipon, in
astonishment, it seemed almost certain that he did! Poor
beggar! It struck him as very possible that of that
household of two it wasn’t precisely the man who was the
Alexander Ossipon, nicknamed the Doctor, was naturally
inclined to think indulgently of his men friends. He eyed
Mrs Verloc hanging on his arm. Of his women friends he
thought in a specially practical way. Why Mrs Verloc should
exclaim at his knowledge of Mr Verloc’s death, which was no
guess at all, did not disturb him beyond measure. They
often talked like lunatics. But he was curious to know how
she had been informed. The papers could tell her nothing
beyond the mere fact: the man blown to pieces in Greenwich Park
not having been identified. It was inconceivable on any
theory that Verloc should have given her an inkling of his
intention—whatever it was. This problem interested
Comrade Ossipon immensely. He stopped short. They had
gone then along the three sides of Brett Place, and were near the
end of Brett Street again.
“How did you first come to hear of it?” he asked
in a tone he tried to render appropriate to the character of the
revelations which had been made to him by the woman at his
She shook violently for a while before she answered in a
“From the police. A chief inspector came, Chief
Inspector Heat he said he was. He showed
Mrs Verloc choked. “Oh, Tom, they had to gather
him up with a shovel.”
Her breast heaved with dry sobs. In a moment Ossipon
found his tongue.
“The police! Do you mean to say the police came
already? That Chief Inspector Heat himself actually came to
“Yes,” she confirmed in the same listless
tone. “He came just like this. He came. I
didn’t know. He showed me a piece of overcoat,
and—just like that. Do you know this? he
“Heat! Heat! And what did he do?”
Mrs Verloc’s head dropped. “Nothing.
He did nothing. He went away. The police were on that
man’s side,” she murmured tragically.
“Another one came too.”
“Another—another inspector, do you mean?”
asked Ossipon, in great excitement, and very much in the tone of
a scared child.
“I don’t know. He came. He looked like
a foreigner. He may have been one of them Embassy
Comrade Ossipon nearly collapsed under this new shock.
“Embassy! Are you aware what you are saying?
What Embassy? What on earth do you mean by
“It’s that place in Chesham Square. The
people he cursed so. I don’t know. What does it
“And that fellow, what did he do or say to
“I don’t remember. . . . Nothing . . . . I
don’t care. Don’t ask me,” she pleaded in
a weary voice.
“All right. I won’t,” assented Ossipon
tenderly. And he meant it too, not because he was touched
by the pathos of the pleading voice, but because he felt himself
losing his footing in the depths of this tenebrous affair.
Police! Embassy! Phew! For fear of adventuring
his intelligence into ways where its natural lights might fail to
guide it safely he dismissed resolutely all suppositions,
surmises, and theories out of his mind. He had the woman
there, absolutely flinging herself at him, and that was the
principal consideration. But after what he had heard
nothing could astonish him any more. And when Mrs Verloc,
as if startled suddenly out of a dream of safety, began to urge
upon him wildly the necessity of an immediate flight on the
Continent, he did not exclaim in the least. He simply said
with unaffected regret that there was no train till the morning,
and stood looking thoughtfully at her face, veiled in black net,
in the light of a gas lamp veiled in a gauze of mist.
Near him, her black form merged in the night, like a figure
half chiselled out of a block of black stone. It was
impossible to say what she knew, how deep she was involved with
policemen and Embassies. But if she wanted to get away, it
was not for him to object. He was anxious to be off
himself. He felt that the business, the shop so strangely
familiar to chief inspectors and members of foreign Embassies,
was not the place for him. That must be dropped. But
there was the rest. These savings. The money!
“You must hide me till the morning somewhere,” she
said in a dismayed voice.
“Fact is, my dear, I can’t take you where I
live. I share the room with a friend.”
He was somewhat dismayed himself. In the morning the
blessed ’tecs will be out in all the stations, no
doubt. And if they once got hold of her, for one reason or
another she would be lost to him indeed.
“But you must. Don’t you care for me at
all—at all? What are you thinking of?”
She said this violently, but she let her clasped hands fall in
discouragement. There was a silence, while the mist fell,
and darkness reigned undisturbed over Brett Place. Not a
soul, not even the vagabond, lawless, and amorous soul of a cat,
came near the man and the woman facing each other.
“It would be possible perhaps to find a safe lodging
somewhere,” Ossipon spoke at last. “But the
truth is, my dear, I have not enough money to go and try
with—only a few pence. We revolutionists are not
He had fifteen shillings in his pocket. He added:
“And there’s the journey before us,
too—first thing in the morning at that.”
She did not move, made no sound, and Comrade Ossipon’s
heart sank a little. Apparently she had no suggestion to
offer. Suddenly she clutched at her breast, as if she had
felt a sharp pain there.
“But I have,” she gasped. “I have the
money. I have enough money. Tom! Let us go from
“How much have you got?” he inquired, without
stirring to her tug; for he was a cautious man.
“I have the money, I tell you. All the
“What do you mean by it? All the money there was
in the bank, or what?” he asked incredulously, but ready
not to be surprised at anything in the way of luck.
“Yes, yes!” she said nervously. “All
there was. I’ve it all.”
“How on earth did you manage to get hold of it
already?” he marvelled.
“He gave it to me,” she murmured, suddenly subdued
and trembling. Comrade Ossipon put down his rising surprise
with a firm hand.
“Why, then—we are saved,” he uttered
She leaned forward, and sank against his breast. He
welcomed her there. She had all the money. Her hat
was in the way of very marked effusion; her veil too. He
was adequate in his manifestations, but no more. She
received them without resistance and without abandonment,
passively, as if only half-sensible. She freed herself from
his lax embraces without difficulty.
“You will save me, Tom,” she broke out, recoiling,
but still keeping her hold on him by the two lapels of his damp
coat. “Save me. Hide me. Don’t let
them have me. You must kill me first. I
couldn’t do it myself—I couldn’t, I
couldn’t—not even for what I am afraid of.”
She was confoundedly bizarre, he thought. She was
beginning to inspire him with an indefinite uneasiness. He
said surlily, for he was busy with important thoughts:
“What the devil are you afraid of?”
“Haven’t you guessed what I was driven to
do!” cried the woman. Distracted by the vividness of
her dreadful apprehensions, her head ringing with forceful words,
that kept the horror of her position before her mind, she had
imagined her incoherence to be clearness itself. She had no
conscience of how little she had audibly said in the disjointed
phrases completed only in her thought. She had felt the
relief of a full confession, and she gave a special meaning to
every sentence spoken by Comrade Ossipon, whose knowledge did not
in the least resemble her own. “Haven’t you
guessed what I was driven to do!” Her voice
fell. “You needn’t be long in guessing then
what I am afraid of,” she continued, in a bitter and sombre
murmur. “I won’t have it. I
won’t. I won’t. I won’t. You
must promise to kill me first!” She shook the lapels
of his coat. “It must never be!”
He assured her curtly that no promises on his part were
necessary, but he took good care not to contradict her in set
terms, because he had had much to do with excited women, and he
was inclined in general to let his experience guide his conduct
in preference to applying his sagacity to each special
case. His sagacity in this case was busy in other
directions. Women’s words fell into water, but the
shortcomings of time-tables remained. The insular nature of
Great Britain obtruded itself upon his notice in an odious
form. “Might just as well be put under lock and key
every night,” he thought irritably, as nonplussed as though
he had a wall to scale with the woman on his back. Suddenly
he slapped his forehead. He had by dint of cudgelling his
brains just thought of the Southampton—St Malo
service. The boat left about midnight. There was a
train at 10.30. He became cheery and ready to act.
“From Waterloo. Plenty of time. We are all
right after all. . . . What’s the matter now? This
isn’t the way,” he protested.
Mrs Verloc, having hooked her arm into his, was trying to drag
him into Brett Street again.
“I’ve forgotten to shut the shop door as I went
out,” she whispered, terribly agitated.
The shop and all that was in it had ceased to interest Comrade
Ossipon. He knew how to limit his desires. He was on
the point of saying “What of that? Let it be,”
but he refrained. He disliked argument about trifles.
He even mended his pace considerably on the thought that she
might have left the money in the drawer. But his
willingness lagged behind her feverish impatience.
The shop seemed to be quite dark at first. The door
stood ajar. Mrs Verloc, leaning against the front, gasped
“Nobody has been in. Look! The
light—the light in the parlour.”
Ossipon, stretching his head forward, saw a faint gleam in the
darkness of the shop.
“There is,” he said.
“I forgot it.” Mrs Verloc’s voice came from
behind her veil faintly. And as he stood waiting for her to
enter first, she said louder: “Go in and put it
out—or I’ll go mad.”
He made no immediate objection to this proposal, so strangely
motived. “Where’s all that money?” he
“On me! Go, Tom. Quick! Put it out. .
. . Go in!” she cried, seizing him by both shoulders from
Not prepared for a display of physical force, Comrade Ossipon
stumbled far into the shop before her push. He was
astonished at the strength of the woman and scandalised by her
proceedings. But he did not retrace his steps in order to
remonstrate with her severely in the street. He was
beginning to be disagreeably impressed by her fantastic
behaviour. Moreover, this or never was the time to humour
the woman. Comrade Ossipon avoided easily the end of the
counter, and approached calmly the glazed door of the
parlour. The curtain over the panes being drawn back a
little he, by a very natural impulse, looked in, just as he made
ready to turn the handle. He looked in without a thought,
without intention, without curiosity of any sort. He looked
in because he could not help looking in. He looked in, and
discovered Mr Verloc reposing quietly on the sofa.
A yell coming from the innermost depths of his chest died out
unheard and transformed into a sort of greasy, sickly taste on
his lips. At the same time the mental personality of
Comrade Ossipon executed a frantic leap backward. But his
body, left thus without intellectual guidance, held on to the
door handle with the unthinking force of an instinct. The
robust anarchist did not even totter. And he stared, his
face close to the glass, his eyes protruding out of his
head. He would have given anything to get away, but his
returning reason informed him that it would not do to let go the
door handle. What was it—madness, a nightmare, or a
trap into which he had been decoyed with fiendish
artfulness? Why—what for? He did not
know. Without any sense of guilt in his breast, in the full
peace of his conscience as far as these people were concerned,
the idea that he would be murdered for mysterious reasons by the
couple Verloc passed not so much across his mind as across the
pit of his stomach, and went out, leaving behind a trail of
sickly faintness—an indisposition. Comrade Ossipon
did not feel very well in a very special way for a moment—a
long moment. And he stared. Mr Verloc lay very still
meanwhile, simulating sleep for reasons of his own, while that
savage woman of his was guarding the door—invisible and
silent in the dark and deserted street. Was all this a some
sort of terrifying arrangement invented by the police for his
especial benefit? His modesty shrank from that
But the true sense of the scene he was beholding came to
Ossipon through the contemplation of the hat. It seemed an
extraordinary thing, an ominous object, a sign. Black, and
rim upward, it lay on the floor before the couch as if prepared
to receive the contributions of pence from people who would come
presently to behold Mr Verloc in the fullness of his domestic
ease reposing on a sofa. From the hat the eyes of the
robust anarchist wandered to the displaced table, gazed at the
broken dish for a time, received a kind of optical shock from
observing a white gleam under the imperfectly closed eyelids of
the man on the couch. Mr Verloc did not seem so much asleep
now as lying down with a bent head and looking insistently at his
left breast. And when Comrade Ossipon had made out the
handle of the knife he turned away from the glazed door, and
The crash of the street door flung to made his very soul leap
in a panic. This house with its harmless tenant could still
be made a trap of—a trap of a terrible kind. Comrade
Ossipon had no settled conception now of what was happening to
him. Catching his thigh against the end of the counter, he
spun round, staggered with a cry of pain, felt in the distracting
clatter of the bell his arms pinned to his side by a convulsive
hug, while the cold lips of a woman moved creepily on his very
ear to form the words:
“Policeman! He has seen me!”
He ceased to struggle; she never let him go. Her hands
had locked themselves with an inseparable twist of fingers on his
robust back. While the footsteps approached, they breathed
quickly, breast to breast, with hard, laboured breaths, as if
theirs had been the attitude of a deadly struggle, while, in
fact, it was the attitude of deadly fear. And the time was
The constable on the beat had in truth seen something of Mrs
Verloc; only coming from the lighted thoroughfare at the other
end of Brett Street, she had been no more to him than a flutter
in the darkness. And he was not even quite sure that there
had been a flutter. He had no reason to hurry up. On
coming abreast of the shop he observed that it had been closed
early. There was nothing very unusual in that. The
men on duty had special instructions about that shop: what went
on about there was not to be meddled with unless absolutely
disorderly, but any observations made were to be reported.
There were no observations to make; but from a sense of duty and
for the peace of his conscience, owing also to that doubtful
flutter of the darkness, the constable crossed the road, and
tried the door. The spring latch, whose key was reposing
for ever off duty in the late Mr Verloc’s waistcoat pocket,
held as well as usual. While the conscientious officer was
shaking the handle, Ossipon felt the cold lips of the woman
stirring again creepily against his very ear:
“If he comes in kill me—kill me, Tom.”
The constable moved away, flashing as he passed the light of
his dark lantern, merely for form’s sake, at the shop
window. For a moment longer the man and the woman inside
stood motionless, panting, breast to breast; then her fingers
came unlocked, her arms fell by her side slowly. Ossipon
leaned against the counter. The robust anarchist wanted
support badly. This was awful. He was almost too
disgusted for speech. Yet he managed to utter a plaintive
thought, showing at least that he realised his position.
“Only a couple of minutes later and you’d have
made me blunder against the fellow poking about here with his
damned dark lantern.”
The widow of Mr Verloc, motionless in the middle of the shop,
“Go in and put that light out, Tom. It will drive
She saw vaguely his vehement gesture of refusal. Nothing
in the world would have induced Ossipon to go into the
parlour. He was not superstitious, but there was too much
blood on the floor; a beastly pool of it all round the hat.
He judged he had been already far too near that corpse for his
peace of mind—for the safety of his neck, perhaps!
“At the meter then! There. Look. In
The robust form of Comrade Ossipon, striding brusque and
shadowy across the shop, squatted in a corner obediently; but
this obedience was without grace. He fumbled
nervously—and suddenly in the sound of a muttered curse the
light behind the glazed door flicked out to a gasping, hysterical
sigh of a woman. Night, the inevitable reward of
men’s faithful labours on this earth, night had fallen on
Mr Verloc, the tried revolutionist—“one of the old
lot”—the humble guardian of society; the invaluable
Secret Agent [delta] of Baron Stott-Wartenheim’s
despatches; a servant of law and order, faithful, trusted,
accurate, admirable, with perhaps one single amiable weakness:
the idealistic belief in being loved for himself.
Ossipon groped his way back through the stuffy atmosphere, as
black as ink now, to the counter. The voice of Mrs Verloc,
standing in the middle of the shop, vibrated after him in that
blackness with a desperate protest.
“I will not be hanged, Tom. I will
She broke off. Ossipon from the counter issued a
warning: “Don’t shout like this,” then seemed
to reflect profoundly. “You did this thing quite by
yourself?” he inquired in a hollow voice, but with an
appearance of masterful calmness which filled Mrs Verloc’s
heart with grateful confidence in his protecting strength.
“Yes,” she whispered, invisible.
“I wouldn’t have believed it possible,” he
muttered. “Nobody would.” She heard him
move about and the snapping of a lock in the parlour door.
Comrade Ossipon had turned the key on Mr Verloc’s repose;
and this he did not from reverence for its eternal nature or any
other obscurely sentimental consideration, but for the precise
reason that he was not at all sure that there was not someone
else hiding somewhere in the house. He did not believe the
woman, or rather he was incapable by now of judging what could be
true, possible, or even probable in this astounding
universe. He was terrified out of all capacity for belief
or disbelief in regard of this extraordinary affair, which began
with police inspectors and Embassies and would end goodness knows
where—on the scaffold for someone. He was terrified
at the thought that he could not prove the use he made of his
time ever since seven o’clock, for he had been skulking
about Brett Street. He was terrified at this savage woman
who had brought him in there, and would probably saddle him with
complicity, at least if he were not careful. He was
terrified at the rapidity with which he had been involved in such
dangers—decoyed into it. It was some twenty minutes
since he had met her—not more.
The voice of Mrs Verloc rose subdued, pleading piteously:
“Don’t let them hang me, Tom! Take me out of
the country. I’ll work for you. I’ll
slave for you. I’ll love you. I’ve no one
in the world. . . . Who would look at me if you
don’t!” She ceased for a moment; then in the
depths of the loneliness made round her by an insignificant
thread of blood trickling off the handle of a knife, she found a
dreadful inspiration to her—who had been the respectable
girl of the Belgravian mansion, the loyal, respectable wife of Mr
Verloc. “I won’t ask you to marry me,”
she breathed out in shame-faced accents.
She moved a step forward in the darkness. He was
terrified at her. He would not have been surprised if she
had suddenly produced another knife destined for his
breast. He certainly would have made no resistance.
He had really not enough fortitude in him just then to tell her
to keep back. But he inquired in a cavernous, strange tone:
“Was he asleep?”
“No,” she cried, and went on rapidly.
“He wasn’t. Not he. He had been telling
me that nothing could touch him. After taking the boy away
from under my very eyes to kill him—the loving, innocent,
harmless lad. My own, I tell you. He was lying on the
couch quite easy—after killing the boy—my boy.
I would have gone on the streets to get out of his sight.
And he says to me like this: ‘Come here,’ after
telling me I had helped to kill the boy. You hear,
Tom? He says like this: ‘Come here,’ after
taking my very heart out of me along with the boy to smash in the
She ceased, then dreamily repeated twice: “Blood and
dirt. Blood and dirt.” A great light broke upon
Comrade Ossipon. It was that half-witted lad then who had
perished in the park. And the fooling of everybody all
round appeared more complete than ever—colossal. He
exclaimed scientifically, in the extremity of his astonishment:
“The degenerate—by heavens!”
“Come here.” The voice of Mrs Verloc rose
again. “What did he think I was made of? Tell
me, Tom. Come here! Me! Like this! I had
been looking at the knife, and I thought I would come then if he
wanted me so much. Oh yes! I came—for the last
time. . . . With the knife.”
He was excessively terrified at her—the sister of the
degenerate—a degenerate herself of a murdering type . . .
or else of the lying type. Comrade Ossipon might have been
said to be terrified scientifically in addition to all other
kinds of fear. It was an immeasurable and composite funk,
which from its very excess gave him in the dark a false
appearance of calm and thoughtful deliberation. For he
moved and spoke with difficulty, being as if half frozen in his
will and mind—and no one could see his ghastly face.
He felt half dead.
He leaped a foot high. Unexpectedly Mrs Verloc had
desecrated the unbroken reserved decency of her home by a shrill
and terrible shriek.
“Help, Tom! Save me. I won’t be
He rushed forward, groping for her mouth with a silencing
hand, and the shriek died out. But in his rush he had
knocked her over. He felt her now clinging round his legs,
and his terror reached its culminating point, became a sort of
intoxication, entertained delusions, acquired the characteristics
of delirium tremens. He positively saw snakes now. He
saw the woman twined round him like a snake, not to be shaken
off. She was not deadly. She was death
itself—the companion of life.
Mrs Verloc, as if relieved by the outburst, was very far from
behaving noisily now. She was pitiful.
“Tom, you can’t throw me off now,” she
murmured from the floor. “Not unless you crush my
head under your heel. I won’t leave you.”
“Get up,” said Ossipon.
His face was so pale as to be quite visible in the profound
black darkness of the shop; while Mrs Verloc, veiled, had no
face, almost no discernible form. The trembling of
something small and white, a flower in her hat, marked her place,
It rose in the blackness. She had got up from the floor,
and Ossipon regretted not having run out at once into the
street. But he perceived easily that it would not do.
It would not do. She would run after him. She would
pursue him shrieking till she sent every policeman within hearing
in chase. And then goodness only knew what she would say of
him. He was so frightened that for a moment the insane
notion of strangling her in the dark passed through his
mind. And he became more frightened than ever! She
had him! He saw himself living in abject terror in some
obscure hamlet in Spain or Italy; till some fine morning they
found him dead too, with a knife in his breast—like Mr
Verloc. He sighed deeply. He dared not move.
And Mrs Verloc waited in silence the good pleasure of her
saviour, deriving comfort from his reflective silence.
Suddenly he spoke up in an almost natural voice. His
reflections had come to an end.
“Let’s get out, or we will lose the
“Where are we going to, Tom?” she asked
timidly. Mrs Verloc was no longer a free woman.
“Let’s get to Paris first, the best way we can. .
. . Go out first, and see if the way’s clear.”
She obeyed. Her voice came subdued through the
cautiously opened door.
“It’s all right.”
Ossipon came out. Notwithstanding his endeavours to be
gentle, the cracked bell clattered behind the closed door in the
empty shop, as if trying in vain to warn the reposing Mr Verloc
of the final departure of his wife—accompanied by his
In the hansom they presently picked up, the robust anarchist
became explanatory. He was still awfully pale, with eyes
that seemed to have sunk a whole half-inch into his tense
face. But he seemed to have thought of everything with
“When we arrive,” he discoursed in a queer,
monotonous tone, “you must go into the station ahead of me,
as if we did not know each other. I will take the tickets,
and slip in yours into your hand as I pass you. Then you
will go into the first-class ladies’ waiting-room, and sit
there till ten minutes before the train starts. Then you
come out. I will be outside. You go in first on the
platform, as if you did not know me. There may be eyes
watching there that know what’s what. Alone you are
only a woman going off by train. I am known. With me,
you may be guessed at as Mrs Verloc running away. Do you
understand, my dear?” he added, with an effort.
“Yes,” said Mrs Verloc, sitting there against him
in the hansom all rigid with the dread of the gallows and the
fear of death. “Yes, Tom.” And she added
to herself, like an awful refrain: “The drop given was
Ossipon, not looking at her, and with a face like a fresh
plaster cast of himself after a wasting illness, said:
“By-the-by, I ought to have the money for the tickets
Mrs Verloc, undoing some hooks of her bodice, while she went
on staring ahead beyond the splashboard, handed over to him the
new pigskin pocket-book. He received it without a word, and
seemed to plunge it deep somewhere into his very breast.
Then he slapped his coat on the outside.
All this was done without the exchange of a single glance;
they were like two people looking out for the first sight of a
desired goal. It was not till the hansom swung round a
corner and towards the bridge that Ossipon opened his lips
“Do you know how much money there is in that
thing?” he asked, as if addressing slowly some hobgoblin
sitting between the ears of the horse.
“No,” said Mrs Verloc. “He gave it to
me. I didn’t count. I thought nothing of it at
the time. Afterwards—”
She moved her right hand a little. It was so expressive
that little movement of that right hand which had struck the
deadly blow into a man’s heart less than an hour before
that Ossipon could not repress a shudder. He exaggerated it
then purposely, and muttered:
“I am cold. I got chilled through.”
Mrs Verloc looked straight ahead at the perspective of her
escape. Now and then, like a sable streamer blown across a
road, the words “The drop given was fourteen feet”
got in the way of her tense stare. Through her black veil
the whites of her big eyes gleamed lustrously like the eyes of a
Ossipon’s rigidity had something business-like, a queer
official expression. He was heard again all of a sudden, as
though he had released a catch in order to speak.
“Look here! Do you know whether your—whether
he kept his account at the bank in his own name or in some other
Mrs Verloc turned upon him her masked face and the big white
gleam of her eyes.
“Other name?” she said thoughtfully.
“Be exact in what you say,” Ossipon lectured in
the swift motion of the hansom. “It’s extremely
important. I will explain to you. The bank has the
numbers of these notes. If they were paid to him in his own
name, then when his—his death becomes known, the notes may
serve to track us since we have no other money. You have no
other money on you?”
She shook her head negatively.
“None whatever?” he insisted.
“A few coppers.”
“It would be dangerous in that case. The money
would have then to be dealt specially with. Very
specially. We’d have perhaps to lose more than half
the amount in order to get these notes changed in a certain safe
place I know of in Paris. In the other case I mean if he
had his account and got paid out under some other name—say
Smith, for instance—the money is perfectly safe to
use. You understand? The bank has no means of knowing
that Mr Verloc and, say, Smith are one and the same person.
Do you see how important it is that you should make no mistake in
answering me? Can you answer that query at all?
Perhaps not. Eh?”
She said composedly:
“I remember now! He didn’t bank in his own
name. He told me once that it was on deposit in the name of
“You are sure?”
“You don’t think the bank had any knowledge of his
real name? Or anybody in the bank or—”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“How can I know? Is it likely, Tom?
“No. I suppose it’s not likely. It
would have been more comfortable to know. . . . Here we
are. Get out first, and walk straight in. Move
He remained behind, and paid the cabman out of his own loose
silver. The programme traced by his minute foresight was
carried out. When Mrs Verloc, with her ticket for St Malo
in her hand, entered the ladies’ waiting-room, Comrade
Ossipon walked into the bar, and in seven minutes absorbed three
goes of hot brandy and water.
“Trying to drive out a cold,” he explained to the
barmaid, with a friendly nod and a grimacing smile. Then he
came out, bringing out from that festive interlude the face of a
man who had drunk at the very Fountain of Sorrow. He raised
his eyes to the clock. It was time. He waited.
Punctual, Mrs Verloc came out, with her veil down, and all
black—black as commonplace death itself, crowned with a few
cheap and pale flowers. She passed close to a little group
of men who were laughing, but whose laughter could have been
struck dead by a single word. Her walk was indolent, but
her back was straight, and Comrade Ossipon looked after it in
terror before making a start himself.
The train was drawn up, with hardly anybody about its row of
open doors. Owing to the time of the year and to the
abominable weather there were hardly any passengers. Mrs
Verloc walked slowly along the line of empty compartments till
Ossipon touched her elbow from behind.
She got in, and he remained on the platform looking
about. She bent forward, and in a whisper:
“What is it, Tom? Is there any danger? Wait
a moment. There’s the guard.”
She saw him accost the man in uniform. They talked for a
while. She heard the guard say “Very well,
sir,” and saw him touch his cap. Then Ossipon came
back, saying: “I told him not to let anybody get into our
She was leaning forward on her seat. “You think of
everything. . . . You’ll get me off, Tom?” she asked
in a gust of anguish, lifting her veil brusquely to look at her
She had uncovered a face like adamant. And out of this
face the eyes looked on, big, dry, enlarged, lightless, burnt out
like two black holes in the white, shining globes.
“There is no danger,” he said, gazing into them
with an earnestness almost rapt, which to Mrs Verloc, flying from
the gallows, seemed to be full of force and tenderness.
This devotion deeply moved her—and the adamantine face lost
the stern rigidity of its terror. Comrade Ossipon gazed at
it as no lover ever gazed at his mistress’s face.
Alexander Ossipon, anarchist, nicknamed the Doctor, author of a
medical (and improper) pamphlet, late lecturer on the social
aspects of hygiene to working men’s clubs, was free from
the trammels of conventional morality—but he submitted to
the rule of science. He was scientific, and he gazed
scientifically at that woman, the sister of a degenerate, a
degenerate herself—of a murdering type. He gazed at
her, and invoked Lombroso, as an Italian peasant recommends
himself to his favourite saint. He gazed
scientifically. He gazed at her cheeks, at her nose, at her
eyes, at her ears. . . . Bad! . . . Fatal! Mrs
Verloc’s pale lips parting, slightly relaxed under his
passionately attentive gaze, he gazed also at her teeth. . . .
Not a doubt remained . . . a murdering type. . . . If Comrade
Ossipon did not recommend his terrified soul to Lombroso, it was
only because on scientific grounds he could not believe that he
carried about him such a thing as a soul. But he had in him
the scientific spirit, which moved him to testify on the platform
of a railway station in nervous jerky phrases.
“He was an extraordinary lad, that brother of
yours. Most interesting to study. A perfect type in a
He spoke scientifically in his secret fear. And Mrs
Verloc, hearing these words of commendation vouchsafed to her
beloved dead, swayed forward with a flicker of light in her
sombre eyes, like a ray of sunshine heralding a tempest of
“He was that indeed,” she whispered softly, with
quivering lips. “You took a lot of notice of him,
Tom. I loved you for it.”
“It’s almost incredible the resemblance there was
between you two,” pursued Ossipon, giving a voice to his
abiding dread, and trying to conceal his nervous, sickening
impatience for the train to start. “Yes; he resembled
These words were not especially touching or sympathetic.
But the fact of that resemblance insisted upon was enough in
itself to act upon her emotions powerfully. With a little
faint cry, and throwing her arms out, Mrs Verloc burst into tears
Ossipon entered the carriage, hastily closed the door and
looked out to see the time by the station clock. Eight
minutes more. For the first three of these Mrs Verloc wept
violently and helplessly without pause or interruption.
Then she recovered somewhat, and sobbed gently in an abundant
fall of tears. She tried to talk to her saviour, to the man
who was the messenger of life.
“Oh, Tom! How could I fear to die after he was
taken away from me so cruelly! How could I! How could
I be such a coward!”
She lamented aloud her love of life, that life without grace
or charm, and almost without decency, but of an exalted
faithfulness of purpose, even unto murder. And, as often
happens in the lament of poor humanity, rich in suffering but
indigent in words, the truth—the very cry of
truth—was found in a worn and artificial shape picked up
somewhere among the phrases of sham sentiment.
“How could I be so afraid of death! Tom, I
tried. But I am afraid. I tried to do away with
myself. And I couldn’t. Am I hard? I
suppose the cup of horrors was not full enough for such as
me. Then when you came. . . . ”
She paused. Then in a gust of confidence and gratitude,
“I will live all my days for you, Tom!” she sobbed
“Go over into the other corner of the carriage, away
from the platform,” said Ossipon solicitously. She
let her saviour settle her comfortably, and he watched the coming
on of another crisis of weeping, still more violent than the
first. He watched the symptoms with a sort of medical air,
as if counting seconds. He heard the guard’s whistle
at last. An involuntary contraction of the upper lip bared
his teeth with all the aspect of savage resolution as he felt the
train beginning to move. Mrs Verloc heard and felt nothing,
and Ossipon, her saviour, stood still. He felt the train
roll quicker, rumbling heavily to the sound of the woman’s
loud sobs, and then crossing the carriage in two long strides he
opened the door deliberately, and leaped out.
He had leaped out at the very end of the platform; and such
was his determination in sticking to his desperate plan that he
managed by a sort of miracle, performed almost in the air, to
slam to the door of the carriage. Only then did he find
himself rolling head over heels like a shot rabbit. He was
bruised, shaken, pale as death, and out of breath when he got
up. But he was calm, and perfectly able to meet the excited
crowd of railway men who had gathered round him in a
moment. He explained, in gentle and convincing tones, that
his wife had started at a moment’s notice for Brittany to
her dying mother; that, of course, she was greatly up-set, and he
considerably concerned at her state; that he was trying to cheer
her up, and had absolutely failed to notice at first that the
train was moving out. To the general exclamation,
“Why didn’t you go on to Southampton, then,
sir?” he objected the inexperience of a young sister-in-law
left alone in the house with three small children, and her alarm
at his absence, the telegraph offices being closed. He had
acted on impulse. “But I don’t think I’ll
ever try that again,” he concluded; smiled all round;
distributed some small change, and marched without a limp out of
Outside, Comrade Ossipon, flush of safe banknotes as never
before in his life, refused the offer of a cab.
“I can walk,” he said, with a little friendly
laugh to the civil driver.
He could walk. He walked. He crossed the
bridge. Later on the towers of the Abbey saw in their
massive immobility the yellow bush of his hair passing under the
lamps. The lights of Victoria saw him too, and Sloane
Square, and the railings of the park. And Comrade Ossipon
once more found himself on a bridge. The river, a sinister
marvel of still shadows and flowing gleams mingling below in a
black silence, arrested his attention. He stood looking
over the parapet for a long time. The clock tower boomed a
brazen blast above his drooping head. He looked up at the
dial. . . . Half-past twelve of a wild night in the Channel.
And again Comrade Ossipon walked. His robust form was
seen that night in distant parts of the enormous town slumbering
monstrously on a carpet of mud under a veil of raw mist. It
was seen crossing the streets without life and sound, or
diminishing in the interminable straight perspectives of shadowy
houses bordering empty roadways lined by strings of gas
lamps. He walked through Squares, Places, Ovals, Commons,
through monotonous streets with unknown names where the dust of
humanity settles inert and hopeless out of the stream of
life. He walked. And suddenly turning into a strip of
a front garden with a mangy grass plot, he let himself into a
small grimy house with a latch-key he took out of his pocket.
He threw himself down on his bed all dressed, and lay still
for a whole quarter of an hour. Then he sat up suddenly,
drawing up his knees, and clasping his legs. The first dawn
found him open-eyed, in that same posture. This man who
could walk so long, so far, so aimlessly, without showing a sign
of fatigue, could also remain sitting still for hours without
stirring a limb or an eyelid. But when the late sun sent
its rays into the room he unclasped his hands, and fell back on
the pillow. His eyes stared at the ceiling. And
suddenly they closed. Comrade Ossipon slept in the