and ▓put on the blue dressing-gown.The▓ little electric fire was a blessing, a●nd Clea set about making me hot coffee.S

he was ●already in pyjamas, her gold hair combed out fo●r the night.A copy of A Rebours lay f▓ace down on the floor beside the ash-tray w▓ith the smouldering ci

garette in it.Lightning● kept flashing fitfully at the wi

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ndow, lighting▓ up her grave face with its magne▓sium flashes.Thunder rolled and writhed in th▓e dark heavens outside the window.▓In this calm it was possible part●ly to exorcise my terrors by speaking of J●ustine.It appeared she knew a▓ll — nothing can be hidden from th▓e curiosity of the Alexandrians.▓She knew all about Justine, that is to sa▓y.‘You will have guessed’ said Clea in the ▓middle of all this ‘that Just●ine was the woman I told you once I loved so ●much.’ This cost her a good deal to say.●She was standing with a coffee

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cup in one ▓hand, clad in her blue-striped pyjamas by t●he door.She closed her eyes as she spoke, as● if she were expecting a blow to fall upon th▓e crown of her head.Out of the closed eyes ca▓me two tears which ran slowly down▓ on each side of her nose.She looked ▓like a young stag with a broke●n ankle.‘Ah! let us not spea●k of her any more’ she said at l●ast in a whisper.‘She will never ●come back.’ Later I made some attempt to leav▓e but the storm was still at its height and my● clothes still impossibly sodden.‘You ca▓n stay here’ said Clea ‘with me’; a●nd she added with a gentleness which brought a l●ump into my throat, ‘But please● — I don’t k

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now how to say this — pl▓ease don’t make love to me.’ W●e lay together in that narrow be●d talking of Justine while the storm ble▓w itself out, scourging the window-pane

s of th●e flat with driven rain from the seafront.▓ She was calm now with a sort of res●ignation which had a moving ●eloquence about it.She told me ma●ny things about Justine’s

past which only she k●new; and she spoke of her with a wonder and ▓tenderness such as people might use in talkin▓g of a beloved yet infuriating queen.Speaking o●f Arnauti?/p>

痵 ventures into psych▓o-analysis she said with amusement: ▓‘She was not really clever, you kno●w, but she had the cunning of a wild animal at b▓ay.I’m not sure she really ●un

derstood the object of the●se investigations.Yet though she was evasive w▓ith the doctors she was perfectly ▓frank with her friends.All tha▓t correspondence about the words “Was

hing●ton D.C.”, for example, which● they worked so hard on — remembe▓r One night while we were lyin▓g here together I asked her to give▓ me her free associations fro●m the ph

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rase.Of course she trusted my disc▓retion absolutely.She replied u●nerringly (it was clear she had alrea●dy worked it out though she would not tel●l Arnauti): ‘There is a town near ▓Washington called Alex

andria.M▓y father always talked of going to visit ●some distant relations there.They ha▓d a daughter called Justine who was exactly my ●age.She went mad and was put away.She had bee●n raped by a man.’ I t

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hen asked her about D.C.▓ and she said, “Da Capo.Capod●istria”.’ I do not know how long this conversa●tion lasted or how soon it melted into sleep●, but we awoke next morning in each other’s ar▓ms to f

ind that the storm had ceased.The city● had been sponged clean.We took a hasty bre●akfast and I made my way toward▓s Mnemjian’s shop for a shave throug●h streets whose native colours had been w▓ashed clea

n by the rain so tha▓t they glowed with warmth and bea▓uty in that soft air.I still had Justine’s le▓tter in my pocket but I did not dare ●to read it again lest I destroy the peace of mi●nd which Clea had

given me.Only ●the opening phrase continued● to echo in my mind with an obstinat▓e throbbing persistence: ‘If you ●should come back alive from the ▓lake you will find this letter waiting fo▓r you.’ On the mantelpiece in ▓the drawing-room of the fla

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