"Yes, please. There won't be anything to look at now."
"Why, Claude, you are getting to be quite a ladies' man!"
Something in the way Enid said this made him wince a little. He felt his burning face grow a shade warmer. Even after she went downstairs he kept wishing she had not said that.
His mother came to give him his medicine. She stood beside him while he swallowed it. "Enid Royce is a real sensible girl--" she said as she took the glass. Her upward inflection expressed not conviction but bewilderment.
Enid came every afternoon, and Claude looked forward to her visits restlessly; they were the only pleasant things that happened to him, and made him forget the humiliation of his poisoned and disfigured face. He was disgusting to himself; when he touched the welts on his forehead and under his hair, he felt unclean and abject. At night, when his fever ran high, and the pain began to tighten in his head and neck, it wrought him to a distressing pitch of excitement. He fought with it as one bulldog fights with another. His mind prowled about among dark legends of torture,--everything he had ever read about the Inquisition, the rack and the wheel.
When Enid entered his room, cool and fresh in her pretty summer clothes, his mind leaped to meet her. He could not talk much, but he lay looking at her and breathing in a sweet contentment. After awhile he was well enough to sit up half-dressed in a steamer chair and play chess with her.
One afternoon they were by the west window in the sitting-room with the chess board between them, and Claude had to admit that he was beaten again.
"It must be dull for you, playing with me," he murmured, brushing the beads of sweat from his forehead. His face was clean now, so white that even his freckles had disappeared, and his hands were the soft, languid hands of a sick man.