[Walpole] : Sleep
Lafcadio Walpole sat in his seat at the table, as still as he could manage.
His palms were lying on the tops of his legs; both his favorite jacket and trousers recently cleaned and richly pressed. He kept his eyes near the center of the table, tracing the fine lines and nodes of the woven mesh tablecloth across the nearly hexine pattern.
In the stillness he held his breath and at that moment he believed himself to be the richest man alive.
The singing started, softly at first, from somewhere behind him and to his left. His eyes didn't leave the tablecloth; didn't look around the parlour walls washed clean in white that cast the sunlight around the room like a dancing carousel. The singing swelled closer and Lady Walpole came into the room holding a tray, and upon it was a thick cake and a blade like a mirror.
His gaze traced the patterns in the cloth faster now, and unable to bear even his own inhibition he looked to her.
Her face was cheery and blush; her brown eyes full of light and love. A instinctual smile spread across his face, and embarrassed by her overwhelming gesture his eyes returned to the cloth upon the table.
As her song came around the bend toward the close, he continued to trace the patterns in the weave. He felt a fullness in his heart like he might burst.
--- - ---
An irresistible shroud of drowsiness fell upon him and he sank helpless to the table; his eyelids closed with a slow singular motion as his thoughts drained into oblivion.