Paul looked in the glass and laughed hopelessly. He heard his mother's footsteps going drearily down the stairs; a door slammed in the distance, and all was silent again. He stayed very still, and was half mesmerized by the sound of the gas just above his head. It made a monotonous noise that was hoarse and sickly, but perhaps it was better to have that than no noise at all. Paul felt he wanted noise; he wanted to scream, but his tongue was tied and his throat was choked. The window blind flapped out sullenly into the room and relapsed back against the wall, and only the weary sound of the gas broke the silence.
This was his last day at home. It was rather hard to realize - this day that he had been dreading for years was here at last, and he had only a few more hours of freedom. With all his soul-Paul had fought against going to school, but it had been no good. "You must go; you'll love it when you get there," his relations had said.