If music be the food of love...
Yesterday I saw the truest, finest example of why this fight must be won - why this country, this world, this race of men, must be purified.
I was headed for l'Université - I was hurrying, because I was already somewhat late for an examination. It had rained the night before, and the streets were thick with mud. I had to avoid splashing through puddles, and I kept my eyes down. Nonetheless, I hardly even noticed when I stepped on a tiny, cold-blued hand, outstretched along the pavement.
If it wasn't for the crunch of bones under my boot, I wouldn't have noticed the child at all, and would have gone on to my examination, been late, taken the lowered mark, and never thought a second longer. But I snapped the girl's hand under my foot, and I did stop.
She was a wretched little thing, big-eyed and stick-ribbed with hunger, and clad in the filthiest rags imaginable. She didn't even cry out when I stepped on her hand, but merely whimpered a little, as an animal might, and rolled over somewhat in the mud-filled gutter.
I stammered the best apology I could muster - what can one say, when one has been so blind to the presence of a fellow human being as to step on her? - and her only response was to blink her eyes up at me and clutch her twig of an arm against her breast.
I gave her my coat, and I carried her to a doctor's, and I convinced M. le Docteur's housekeeper to give her hot tea and food. Before I left, her hand was splinted and bound, and she had confessed, in a hoarse whisper, to the housekeeper - good, worthy woman, who found clean, dry clothes for the child - that she was called Laure.
Needless to say, I was hopelessly beyond the point of going to my examination. I found myself wandering aimlessly through the streets, noticing the miserables, the poor, the hungry - beggars, children, sick and crippled and cold - either silent in their frozen fates or else crying out, wheedling, shaking tin cups for coins.
How could I have walked down that street without seeing a child, to crush her underfoot as heedlessly as if I were some king of the land? How could I have been so blind to my fellow human? I can't condone that in anyone, least of all my own damned self. No insignificant examination is worth such a travesty.