Thursday, October 27, 2011

MM 4 : Thermometer

This is the last chapter of part 4 and a terrible chapter it is.

Hans is three days into his third and last week. He just received his bill for the second week. Hans is making some doubtful arithmetic, he calculates that a stay would not cost more than 1000 Swiss Francs a month, a 12000 Francs a year. In his calculation he even adds cigars and a new suit.

Joachim doesn’t smoke and is in no need of a new coat. That means that Hans has made this calculation to check if with his ample annual income of 18000 SF he could stay longer on the mountain. At least a year longer that means. That sneaky fellow…

Hans has nothing to keep him on the mountain, or so he says to himself except that he feels sorry for his cousin who has to stay behind. Hans thinks he has acclimatized by now, the taste of his Maria’s confirm it and Hans rather likes this laidback life on the mountain.

He has adapted to the strict regime of the Sanatorium too: the five meals, the rest cures, the short walks. The only thing he does not do is take his temperature but that is soon to change.

Hans has caught a cold and has the sniffles. Joachim advices to consult the head nurse Mecklenburg, who visits him on her next round. Hans buys a thermometer from her and soon measures nervously his temperature and yes… you guessed it, Hans has a fever.

At his table in the restaurant, people seem to be happy with his fever. They now feel he is one of them and his fever has taken away this superiority healthy people have over ill ones. Joachim proposes to ask Behrens to control Hans too, when on Friday at 2o’clock he goes for his check-up. In an eerie moment, Clawdia who sits with her back towards Hans turns around and over the tables looks straight in Hans eyes. Obviously the grave pine has told her about Hans condition. Is she worried about him, or expecting him to stay longer…?  

The outcome of the check-up is dramatic. Not only has Joachim’s health not improved, but Hans it seems has TB too. At least there is a moist spot in his lungs which could indicate or deteriorate in TBC. Behrens advices Hans too stay longer.

Krokowski, who is also present, advances too Hans and shakes his hand, either out of compassion or as a welcome to the world of the Moribundi.