Our Friend Manso

By Benito Pérez Galdós; Robert Russell | Go to book overview

XIX
THE DINING-ROOM CLOCK STRUCK EIGHT

AND PERFORMING the computations necessary, given the disordered state of the clocks in the house, I concluded that eight strokes meant three. Terribly late! For me to be going home at that hour seemed absurd, a joke, as if my time had been cruelly kidnapped from me. I saw myself as a figure in a nightmare, or as if I were another man I was dreaming of from the placid calm of my bed. I left the room. Drowsiness was giving me the symptoms of drunkenness. When I went to the dining room for a glass of water I was astounded to see that there was still light in Irene's room. The rectangle of brightness above the door drew my glance and for a brief time I was brought to a halt half-way down the corridor. "But didn't you tell me two hours ago that you were very sleepy and you were going to bed at once?" I didn't say this out loud. I asked the question from spirit to spirit, for it seemed unsuitable to cry aloud at such an hour. Was she praying? What was she doing? Reading novels? Devouring my philosophical works?

As I drank the water I calmed down. For really I was an intruder demanding an impossible regularity in Irene's behavior. What was so remarkable about her putting out the fight two hours later than she said she would? It might be that she was mending her clothes, or preparing the next day's lessons . . . Three-thirty! How many hours' sleep did the child get, rising as she did at seven?! Quite a deplorable habit, working your brain at late night hours! Oh! In my family I would have all rules of hygiene most strictly observed.

At the street door young Peña joined me. Capes over our faces, we advanced against the street's icy cold.

"On your way home, maestro?"

-96-

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