The Lamb (L'Agneau)

The Lamb (L'Agneau)

The Lamb (L'Agneau)

The Lamb (L'Agneau)

Excerpt

XAVIER need not have reserved a seat: only the one immediately facing his own was similarly labelled. A brown felt hat, a shabby raincoat and a pair of gloves had already been deposited upon it by its future occupant. The suitcase in the rack above looked old. Xavier hoped that it would turn out to be the bare-headed young man on the platform who was standing with his back to him, talking to a young woman. Perhaps she had come to see him off? Yes, from the way in which she was devouring her companion's face with her eyes, Xavier felt sure that she would not be travelling with him. Obviously she was in love, and was taking advantage of these last few minutes to fix in her memory the look of a face which, in a few moments, would be there no longer. "I, on the other hand," thought Xavier, "can read it at my leisure. For all of the seven hours between here and Paris he will be at my mercy."

The thought of this pleasure to come, for all its innocence, made him feel ashamed. There was no such thing as an innocent pleasure. He sat back in his corner, and set about cutting the pages of La Vie Spirituelle , a periodical which he read from a sense of duty, though he derived from the exercise no more profit than he gained from any act accomplished without enjoyment, and performed only as the result of an effort of will.

But, in spite of himself, he found his attention continually reverting to the couple whose speechlessness seemed to be . . .

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