A... tries talking a little more. She nevertheless does not describe the room where she spent the night, an uninteresting subject, she says, turning away her head: everyone knows that hotel, its discomfornt and its patched mosquito-netting.

It is at this moment that she notices the Scutigera on the bare wall in front of her. In an even tone of voice, as if in order not to frighten the creature, she says:

"A centipede!"

Franck looks up again. Following the direction of A...'s motionless gaze, he turns his head to the other side.

The animal is motionless in the center of the panel, easily seen against the light-colored paint, despite the dim light. Franck, who has said nothing, looks at A... again. Then he stands up, noiselessly. A... moves no more than the centipede while Franck approaches the wall, his napkin wadded up in his hand.

The hand with the tapering fingers has clenched into a fist on the white cloth.

Franck lifts the napkin away from the wall and with his foot continues to squash something on the tiles, against the baseboard. And he sits down in his place again, to the right of the lamp lit behind him, on the sideboard.

When he passes in front of the lamp, his shadow swept over the table top, which it covered entirely for an instant. Then the boy comes in through the open door; he begins to clear the table in silence. A... asks him to serve the coffee on the veranda, as usual.

She and Franck, sitting in their chairs, continue a desultory discussion of which day would be most convenient for this little trip to town they have been planning since the evening before.

The subject is soon exhausted. Its interest does not diminish, but they find no new element to nourish it. The sentences become shorter and limit themselves, for the most part, to repeating fragments of those spoken during these last two days, or even before.

After some final monosyllables, separated by increasingly longer pauses and ultimately no longer intelligible, they let the night triumph altogether.