The Arrow of Gold HTML version
The windows of that room gave out on the street of the Consuls which as usual was
silent. And the house itself below me and above me was soundless, perfectly still. In
general the house was quiet, dumbly quiet, without resonances of any sort, something like
what one would imagine the interior of a convent would be. I suppose it was very solidly
built. Yet that morning I missed in the stillness that feeling of security and peace which
ought to have been associated with it. It is, I believe, generally admitted that the dead are
glad to be at rest. But I wasn't at rest. What was wrong with that silence? There was
something incongruous in that peace. What was it that had got into that stillness?
Suddenly I remembered: the mother of Captain Blunt.
Why had she come all the way from Paris? And why should I bother my head about it?
H'm - the Blunt atmosphere, the reinforced Blunt vibration stealing through the walls,
through the thick walls and the almost more solid stillness. Nothing to me, of course - the
movements of Mme. Blunt, mere. It was maternal affection which had brought her south
by either the evening or morning Rapide, to take anxious stock of the ravages of that
insomnia. Very good thing, insomnia, for a cavalry officer perpetually on outpost duty, a
real godsend, so to speak; but on leave a truly devilish condition to be in.
The above sequence of thoughts was entirely unsympathetic and it was followed by a
feeling of satisfaction that I, at any rate, was not suffering from insomnia. I could always
sleep in the end. In the end. Escape into a nightmare. Wouldn't he revel in that if he
could! But that wasn't for him. He had to toss about open-eyed all night and get up weary,
weary. But oh, wasn't I weary, too, waiting for a sleep without dreams.
I heard the door behind me open. I had been standing with my face to the window and, I
declare, not knowing what I was looking at across the road - the Desert of Sahara or a
wall of bricks, a landscape of rivers and forests or only the Consulate of Paraguay. But I
had been thinking, apparently, of Mr. Blunt with such intensity that when I saw him enter
the room it didn't really make much difference. When I turned about the door behind him
was already shut. He advanced towards me, correct, supple, hollow- eyed, and smiling;
and as to his costume ready to go out except for the old shooting jacket which he must
have affectioned particularly, for he never lost any time in getting into it at every
opportunity. Its material was some tweed mixture; it had gone inconceivably shabby, it
was shrunk from old age, it was ragged at the elbows; but any one could see at a glance
that it had been made in London by a celebrated tailor, by a distinguished specialist.
Blunt came towards me in all the elegance of his slimness and affirming in every line of
his face and body, in the correct set of his shoulders and the careless freedom of his
movements, the superiority, the inexpressible superiority, the unconscious, the unmarked,
the not-to-be-described, and even not- to-be-caught, superiority of the naturally born and
the perfectly finished man of the world, over the simple young man. He was smiling,
easy, correct, perfectly delightful, fit to kill