By Eva Hoffman
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She waits for him to continue, but he gives a small shrug, as if conscious he is not going to be given more time. “I hope sometime I will be able to tell you,” he says, sounding almost offended. ” “Thank you,” she says, because she doesn’t know what else to say. He gives a small bow again and turns abruptly to leave. ” There are a few more people who’ve been waiting to speak to her, and whom Rougement discreetly hurries along. Then he brings her coat, and helps her put it on quite gently. “Wonderful,” he says.
She sees pleasure and expectation in people’s faces. Strange, she thinks, this returning of vision, this alteration of mood on which so much depends. She walks over to the Champs-Elysées, responds to the nod of recognition from the doorman at the artists’ entrance and makes her way through the familiar maze of corridors and cubicles, into Rougement’s office. He comes out from behind his desk to give her a peck on both cheeks and a careful squeeze of her elbow. Mustn’t damage the pianist’s hand.
Peter … He never seemed to suffer such transitions; he was equally himself whatever he was doing, moving at an even pace, somehow evenly distributed in his packed, solid body. It wouldn’t have occurred to him that he should speed up or slow down, or otherwise modify himself for anyone, or anything. Her blinking became a running joke between them for a while; then he started ignoring it altogether. If he found her in her border state on coming in, he simply went over to the liquor cabinet to pour them both a drink.