Chapter 6

The Glitter on the Snow

I woke to find Lou fully dressed. She was sitting on the edge of my bed. She had taken hold of my hand, and her face was bending over mine like a pallid flower. She saw that I was awake, and her mouth descended upon mine with exquisite tenderness. Her lips were soft and firm; their kiss revived me into life.

She was extraordinarily pale, and her gestures were limp and languid. I realised that I was utterly exhausted.

“I couldn’t sleep at all,” she said, after what seemed a very long time in which I tried to pull myself together. “My mind went running on like mad — I’ve had a perfectly ripping time — perfectly top-hole! I simply couldn’t get up till I remembered what that man Feccles said about a hair of the dog. So I rolled out of bed and crawled across to the H. and took one little sniff, and sat on the floor till it worked. It’s great stuff when you know the ropes. It picked me up in a minute. So I had a bath, and got these things on. I’m still a bit all in. You know we did overdo it, didn’t we, Cockie?”

“You bet,” I said feebly. “I’m glad I’ve got a nurse.”

“Right-o,” she said, with a queer grin. “It’s time for your majesty’s medicine.”

She went over to the bureau, and brought me a dose of heroin. The effect was surprising! I had felt as if I couldn’t move a muscle, as if all the springs of my nerves had given way. Yet, in two minutes, one small sniff restored me to complete activity.

There was in this, however, hardly any element of joy. I was back to my normal self, but not to what you might call good form. I was perfectly able to do anything required, but the idea of doing it didn’t appeal. I thought a bath and a shower would put me right; and I certainly felt a very different man by the time I had got my clothes on.

When I came back into the sitting-room, I found Lou dancing daintily round the table. She went for me like a bull at a gate; swept me away to the couch and knelt at my side as I lay, while she overwhelmed me with passionate kisses.

She divined that I was not in any condition to respond.
“You still need your nurse,” she laughed merrily, with sparkling eyes and flashing teeth and nostrils twitching with excitement. I saw on the tip of one delicious little curling hair a crystal glimmer that I knew.

She had been out in the snowstorm!

My cunning twisted smile told her that I was wise to the game.

“Yes,” she said excitedly, “I see how it’s done now. You pull yourself together with H. and then you start the buzz-wagon with C. Come along, put in the clutch.”

Her hand was trembling with excitement. But on the back of it there shimmered a tiny heap of glistening snow.

I sniffed it with suppressed ecstasy. I knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I caught the contagion of her crazy and sublime intoxication.

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