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Chapter 24

Shortly before Christmas Dirk Stroeve came to ask me to spend the holiday with him. He had a characteristic sentimentality about the day and wanted to pass it among his friends with suitable ceremonies. Neither of us had seen Strickland for two or three weeks -- I because I had been busy with friends who were spending a little while in Paris, and Stroeve because, having quarreled with him more violently than usual, he had made up his mind to have nothing more to do with him. Strickland was impossible, and he swore never to speak to him again. But the season touched him with gentle feeling, and he hated the thought of Strickland spending Christmas Day by himself; he ascribed his own emotions to him, and could not bear that on an occasion given up to good-fellowship the lonely painter should be abandoned to his own melancholy1. Stroeve had set up a Christmas-tree in his studio, and I suspected that we should both find absurd little presents hanging on its festive2 branches; but he was shy about seeing Strickland again; it was a little humiliating to forgive so easily insults so outrageous3, and he wished me to be present at the reconciliation4 on which he was determined5.

We walked together down the Avenue de Clichy, but Strickland was not in the cafe. It was too cold to sit outside, and we took our places on leather benches within. It was hot and stuffy6, and the air was gray with smoke. Strickland did not come, but presently we saw the French painter who occasionally played chess with him. I had formed a casual acquaintance with him, and he sat down at our table. Stroeve asked him if he had seen Strickland.

"He's ill, " he said. "Didn't you know?"


"Very, I understand. "

Stroeve's face grew white.

"Why didn't he write and tell me? How stupid of me to quarrel with him. We must go to him at once. He can have no one to look after him. Where does he live?"

"I have no idea, " said the Frenchman.

We discovered that none of us knew how to find him. Stroeve grew more and more distressed7.

"He might die, and not a soul would know anything about it. It's dreadful. I can't bear the thought. We must find him at once. "

I tried to make Stroeve understand that it was absurd to hunt vaguely8 about Paris. We must first think of some plan.

"Yes; but all this time he may be dying, and when we get there it may be too late to do anything. "

"Sit still and let us think, " I said impatiently.

The only address I knew was the Hotel des Belges, but Strickland had long left that, and they would have no recollection of him. With that queer idea of his to keep his whereabouts secret, it was unlikely that, on leaving, he had said where he was going. Besides, it was more than five years ago. I felt pretty sure that he had not moved far. If he continued to frequent the same cafe as when he had stayed at the hotel, it was probably because it was the most convenient. Suddenly I remembered that he had got his commission to paint a portrait through the baker9 from whom he bought his bread, and it struck me that there one might find his address. I called for a directory and looked out the bakers10. There were five in the immediate11 neighbourhood, and the only thing was to go to all of them. Stroeve accompanied me unwillingly12. His own plan was to run up and down the streets that led out of the Avenue de Clichy and ask at every house if Strickland lived there. My commonplace scheme was, after all, effective, for in the second shop we asked at the woman behind the counter acknowledged that she knew him. She was not certain where he lived, but it was in one of the three houses opposite. Luck favoured us, and in the first we tried the concierge13 told us that we should find him on the top floor.

"It appears that he's ill, " said Stroeve.

"It may be, " answered the concierge indifferently. " En effet, I have not seen him for several days. "

Stroeve ran up the stairs ahead of me, and when I reached the top floor I found him talking to a workman in his shirt-sleeves who had opened a door at which Stroeve had knocked. He pointed14 to another door. He believed that the person who lived there was a painter. He had not seen him for a week. Stroeve made as though he were about to knock, and then turned to me with a gesture of helplessness. I saw that he was panic-stricken.

"Supposing he's dead?"

"Not he, " I said.

I knocked. There was no answer. I tried the handle, and found the door unlocked. I walked in, and Stroeve followed me. The room was in darkness. I could only see that it was an attic15, with a sloping roof; and a faint glimmer16, no more than a less profound obscurity, came from a skylight.

"Strickland, " I called.

There was no answer. It was really rather mysterious, and it seemed to me that Stroeve, standing17 just behind, was trembling in his shoes. For a moment I hesitated to strike a light. I dimly perceived a bed in the corner, and I wondered whether the light would disclose lying on it a dead body.

"Haven't you got a match, you fool?"

Strickland's voice, coming out of the darkness, harshly, made me start.

Stroeve cried out.

"Oh, my God, I thought you were dead. "

I struck a match, and looked about for a candle. I had a rapid glimpse of a tiny apartment, half room, half studio, in which was nothing but a bed, canvases with their faces to the wall, an easel, a table, and a chair. There was no carpet on the floor. There was no fire-place. On the table, crowded with paints, palette-knives, and litter of all kinds, was the end of a candle. I lit it. Strickland was lying in the bed, uncomfortably because it was too small for him, and he had put all his clothes over him for warmth. It was obvious at a glance that he was in a high fever. Stroeve, his voice cracking with emotion, went up to him.

"Oh, my poor friend, what is the matter with you? I had no idea you were ill. Why didn't you let me know? You must know I'd have done anything in the world for you. Were you thinking of what I said? I didn't mean it. I was wrong. It was stupid of me to take offence. "

"Go to hell, " said Strickland.

"Now, be reasonable. Let me make you comfortable. Haven't you anyone to look after you?"

He looked round the squalid attic in dismay. He tried to arrange the bed-clothes. Strickland, breathing laboriously18, kept an angry silence. He gave me a resentful glance. I stood quite quietly, looking at him.

"If you want to do something for me, you can get me some milk, " he said at last. "I haven't been able to get out for two days. " There was an empty bottle by the side of the bed, which had contained milk, and in a piece of newspaper a few crumbs19.

"What have you been having?" I asked.

"Nothing. "

"For how long?" cried Stroeve. "Do you mean to say you've had nothing to eat or drink for two days? It's horrible. "

"I've had water. "

His eyes dwelt for a moment on a large can within reach of an outstretched arm.

"I'll go immediately, " said Stroeve. "Is there anything you fancy?"

I suggested that he should get a thermometer, and a few grapes, and some bread. Stroeve, glad to make himself useful, clattered20 down the stairs.

"Damned fool, " muttered Strickland.

I felt his pulse. It was beating quickly and feebly. I asked him one or two questions, but he would not answer, and when I pressed him he turned his face irritably21 to the wall. The only thing was to wait in silence. In ten minutes Stroeve, panting, came back. Besides what I had suggested, he brought candles, and meat-juice, and a spirit-lamp. He was a practical little fellow, and without delay set about making bread-and-milk. I took Strickland's temperature. It was a hundred and four. He was obviously very ill.














































1 melancholy t7rz8     
  • All at once he fell into a state of profound melancholy.他立即陷入无尽的忧思之中。
  • He felt melancholy after he failed the exam.这次考试没通过,他感到很郁闷。
2 festive mkBx5     
  • It was Christmas and everyone was in festive mood.当时是圣诞节,每个人都沉浸在节日的欢乐中。
  • We all wore festive costumes to the ball.我们都穿着节日的盛装前去参加舞会。
3 outrageous MvFyH     
  • Her outrageous behaviour at the party offended everyone.她在聚会上的无礼行为触怒了每一个人。
  • Charges for local telephone calls are particularly outrageous.本地电话资费贵得出奇。
4 reconciliation DUhxh     
  • He was taken up with the reconciliation of husband and wife.他忙于做夫妻间的调解工作。
  • Their handshake appeared to be a gesture of reconciliation.他们的握手似乎是和解的表示。
5 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
6 stuffy BtZw0     
  • It's really hot and stuffy in here.这里实在太热太闷了。
  • It was so stuffy in the tent that we could sense the air was heavy with moisture.帐篷里很闷热,我们感到空气都是潮的。
7 distressed du1z3y     
  • He was too distressed and confused to answer their questions. 他非常苦恼而困惑,无法回答他们的问题。
  • The news of his death distressed us greatly. 他逝世的消息使我们极为悲痛。
8 vaguely BfuzOy     
  • He had talked vaguely of going to work abroad.他含糊其词地说了到国外工作的事。
  • He looked vaguely before him with unseeing eyes.他迷迷糊糊的望着前面,对一切都视而不见。
9 baker wyTz62     
  • The baker bakes his bread in the bakery.面包师在面包房内烤面包。
  • The baker frosted the cake with a mixture of sugar and whites of eggs.面包师在蛋糕上撒了一层白糖和蛋清的混合料。
10 bakers 1c4217f2cc6c8afa6532f13475e17ed2     
n.面包师( baker的名词复数 );面包店;面包店店主;十三
  • The Bakers have invited us out for a meal tonight. 贝克一家今晚请我们到外面去吃饭。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The bakers specialize in catering for large parties. 那些面包师专门负责为大型宴会提供食品。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 immediate aapxh     
  • His immediate neighbours felt it their duty to call.他的近邻认为他们有责任去拜访。
  • We declared ourselves for the immediate convocation of the meeting.我们主张立即召开这个会议。
12 unwillingly wjjwC     
  • He submitted unwillingly to his mother. 他不情愿地屈服于他母亲。
  • Even when I call, he receives unwillingly. 即使我登门拜访,他也是很不情愿地接待我。
13 concierge gppzr     
  • This time the concierge was surprised to the point of bewilderment.这时候看门人惊奇到了困惑不解的地步。
  • As I went into the dining-room the concierge brought me a police bulletin to fill out.我走进餐厅的时候,看门人拿来一张警察局发的表格要我填。
14 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
15 attic Hv4zZ     
  • Leakiness in the roof caused a damp attic.屋漏使顶楼潮湿。
  • What's to be done with all this stuff in the attic?顶楼上的材料怎么处理?
16 glimmer 5gTxU     
  • I looked at her and felt a glimmer of hope.我注视她,感到了一线希望。
  • A glimmer of amusement showed in her eyes.她的眼中露出一丝笑意。
17 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
18 laboriously xpjz8l     
  • She is tracing laboriously now. 她正在费力地写。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She is laboriously copying out an old manuscript. 她正在费劲地抄出一份旧的手稿。 来自辞典例句
19 crumbs crumbs     
int. (表示惊讶)哎呀 n. 碎屑 名词crumb的复数形式
  • She stood up and brushed the crumbs from her sweater. 她站起身掸掉了毛衣上的面包屑。
  • Oh crumbs! Is that the time? 啊,天哪!都这会儿啦?
20 clattered 84556c54ff175194afe62f5473519d5a     
  • He dropped the knife and it clattered on the stone floor. 他一失手,刀子当啷一声掉到石头地面上。
  • His hand went limp and the knife clattered to the ground. 他的手一软,刀子当啷一声掉到地上。
21 irritably e3uxw     
  • He lost his temper and snapped irritably at the children. 他发火了,暴躁地斥责孩子们。
  • On this account the silence was irritably broken by a reproof. 为了这件事,他妻子大声斥责,令人恼火地打破了宁静。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹


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