The goulashes made him think of being coerced to trudge around with his brothers along the edges of creeks and canals where they, guffawing sadists and martinets, made him abduct and mutilate crawdads to recognize that he was no better than any other creature of the natural order that gloated at itself as one individual in a species of myriad predators.

But if that leaden sleep is one of the known phases of ordinary vampirism, if Gilles de Rais was merely a sexual pervert, we must admit that he distinguished himself from the most delirious sadists, the most exquisite virtuosi in pain and murder, by a detail which seems extrahuman, it is so horrible.

The thought was circuitous but stalking, and whenever it reached that pentacle of the brain that was the true self which judged the merits of his own thoughts and actions as well as the intentions of the extraneous beings whom he interacted with, he almost believed that he was still with that creature the dog with its small clusters of ochre fur, he with his ochre wisps of obsessive thought, both cognate in that sense; the emaciated dog, an innocent that from its starvation was prey to disease, he having been the prey of four sadists and one sodomite in a family which decimated if not entirely obliterated the joy of his youth, and would have a reverberating effect throughout his life, both cognate in that sense as well.

'Sadists' of Mlle. Vinteuil's sort are creatures so purely sentimental, so virtuous by nature, that even sensual pleasure appears to them as something bad, a privilege reserved for the wicked.

Twenty-three years ago she imagined all children as the good and the innocent as she believed herself to be back then. That was before she went to school and learned what egocentric sadists they really were. For they, the masses, enjoyed the ruthlessness of the name callers whose arrows and vitriol of "Four eyes! Four eyes!" and "Piggy! Piggy!" toward two of her classmates was inexorable.

In unblocked corridors memories could come to blast him with their spells and he would once again become a straggling boy fighting the pull of sadists on thin, stilted sidewalks along a canal. It was all very alarming and intriguing, and it prompted him to smile at the ironies of being human which totally confounded him in a most pleasant way.