. . . He read the label on my bottle and asked whether I would not drink some wine. When I declined his offer and said that I never drank it, the old helpless expression came over his face.
“You’re quite right there,” he said. “I have practised abstinence myself for years, and had my time of fasting, too, but now I find myself once more beneath the sign of Aquarius, a dark and humid constellation.”
On one other occasion I saw him in this lady’s company. It was in one of the streets of the town. They were arm in arm and he looked very happy; and again I wondered to see how much charm—what an even childlike expression—his care-ridden face had sometimes. It explained the young lady to me, also the predilection my aunt had for him. That day, too, however, he came back in the evening, sad, and wretched as usual. I met him at the door and under his cloak, as many times before, he had the bottle of Italian wine, and he sat with it half the night in his hell upstairs. It grieved me. What a comfortless, what a forlorn and shiftless life he led!