And at last it all comes up against something, a door opening under the pressure of the first members of the group to reach it. The black boots laced up the calf have gradually, over the space of several seconds, come to a halt; the jodhpurs in turn are still. A residue of movement continues to affect the mass above the patent-leather belts, the chests buttoned up in the straight tunics with little stand-up collars, the arms with their oblique braid stripe, the hands in black-leather gloves that appear to be driving out some foreign body located in the middle of the party, disturbing the surface--at the level of the stiff-looking flat caps--with an eddy whose centre moves forward in irregular meanderings, eventually expelling the intruder all of a sudden, like a pip being spat out or a cork being blown by too much pressure in the bottle. This too is a man, though very different from the others (he is wearing white pajamas), and the door shuts behind him with a dull thud. Once again the dangerous stir has ceased completely; but for how long?

Yet nothing more occurs. The soldiers, however many there were of them, their faces empty, their loose-fitting garments lacking any distinguishing shape or markings, have vanished for good. Who said they were soldiers, even?

The man is alone in the silence, standing in the middle of the cell. And bit by bit, almost cautiously, I ascertain that it is probably myself. That apart, there is nothing to report except two small windows, too high up and fitted with strong grilles, a wooden chair painted white, a broken mirror, nothing else. On reflection, the presence of the looking-glass is unusual in this type of locality. I go over to the wall and lean forward towards its clouded, greenish surface, which is roughly trapezoidal in shape: bounded on the top by two right angles with ground edges and by a slightly curved oblique line with a sharp edge forming the bottom. I have some trouble recognizing myself in the image framed there. My hair must have been shaved off, but several days ago already, and a uniform dark shadow covers my skull, cheeks, and chin.