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The Crystal Stopper

9. In The Dark
An hotel bedroom at Amiens.
Lupin was recovering a little consciousness for the first time. Clarisse and the Masher
were seated by his bedside.
Both were talking; and Lupin listened to them, without opening his eyes. He learned that
they had feared for his life, but that all danger was now removed. Next, in the course of
the conversation, he caught certain words that revealed to him what had happened in the
tragic night at Mortepierre: Daubrecq's descent; the dismay of the accomplices, when
they saw that it was not the governor; then the short struggle: Clarisse flinging herself on
Daubrecq and receiving a wound in the shoulder; Daubrecq leaping to the bank; the
Growler firing two revolver-shots and darting off in pursuit of him; the Masher
clambering up the ladder and finding the governor in a swoon:
"True as I live," said the Masher, "I can't make out even now how he did not roll over.
There was a sort of hollow at that place, but it was a sloping hollow; and, half dead as he
was, he must have hung on with his ten fingers. Crikey, it was time I came!"
Lupin listened, listened in despair. He collected his strength to grasp and understand the
words. But suddenly a terrible sentence was uttered: Clarisse, weeping, spoke of the
eighteen days that had elapsed, eighteen more days lost to Gilbert's safety.
Eighteen days! The figure terrified Lupin. He felt that all was over, that he would never
be able to recover his strength and resume the struggle and that Gilbert and Vaucheray
were doomed... His brain slipped away from him. The fever returned and the delirium.
And more days came and went. It was perhaps the time of his life of which Lupin speaks
with the greatest horror. He retained just enough consciousness and had sufficiently lucid
moments to realize the position exactly. But he was not able to coordinate his ideas, to
follow a line of argument nor to instruct or forbid his friends to adopt this or that line of
conduct.
Often, when he emerged from his torpor, he found his hand in Clarisse's and, in that half-
slumbering condition in which a fever keeps you, he would address strange words to her,
words of love and passion, imploring her and thanking her and blessing her for all the
light and joy which she had brought into his darkness.
Then, growing calmer and not fully understanding what he had said, he tried to jest:
"I have been delirious, have I not? What a heap of nonsense I must have talked!"
 
 
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