In the parlour was a huge camera on wheels like the ones used in public parks, and the backdrop of a marine twilight, painted with homemade paints, and the walls papered with picturesof children at memorable moments: the first Communion dermes
, the bunny costume, the happy birthday.
Year after year, during contemplative pauses on afternoons of chess, Dr. Urbino had seen thegradual covering over of the walls, and he had often thought with a shudder of sorrow that in thegallery of casual portraits lay the germ of the future city, governed and corrupted by thoseunknown children, where not even the ashes of his glory would remain.
On the desk, next to a jar that held several old sea dog's pipes, was the chessboard with anunfinished game. Despite his haste and his sombre mood, Dr. Urbino could not resist thetemptation to study it. He knew it was the previous night's game, for Jeremiah de Saint-Amourplayed at dusk every day of the week with at least three different opponents, but he alwaysfinished every game and then placed the board and chessmen in their box and stored the box in adesk drawer. The Doctor knew he played with the white pieces and that this time it was evident hewas going to be defeated without mercy in four moves. "If there had been a crime, this would be agood clue," Urbino said to himself. "I know only one man capable of devising this masterful trap."If his life depended on it, he had to find out later why that indomitable soldier, accustomed tofighting to the last drop of blood, had left the final battle of his life unfinished hk seo
At six that morning, as he was making his last rounds, the night watchman had seen the notenailed to the street door: Come in without knocking and inform the police. A short while later theinspector arrived with the intern, and the two of them had searched the house for some evidencethat might contradict the unmistakable breath of bitter almonds. But in the brief minutes theDoctor needed to study the unfinished game, the inspector discovered an envelope among thepapers on the desk, addressed to Dr. Juvenal Urbino and sealed with so much sealing wax that ithad to be ripped to pieces to get the letter out. The Doctor opened the black curtain over thewindow to have more light, gave a quick glance at the eleven sheets covered on both sides by adiligent handwriting, and when he had read the first paragraph he knew that he would missPentecost Communion. He read with agitated breath, turning back on several pages to find thethread he had lost, and when he finished he seemed to return from very far away and very longago. His despondency was obvious despite his effort to control it: his lips were as blue as thecorpse and he could not stop the trembling of his fingers as he refolded the letter and placed it inhis vest pocket. Then he remembered the inspector and the young doctor, and he smiled at themthrough the mists of grief dermes vs medilase