In the end, the fellow with esophageal cancer was discharged. The fellow with stomach cancer, saying he'd made his peace and was ready to die, passed away with utmost grace. The fellow with ulcers grew worse over time. On some nights, as I lay awake, I could hear his attendant crushing ice at the east end of the hall. The patient died, and the sound of the ice was heard no more. I entered the following in my diary. -- "Of the three of us, two are now gone. With respect to the two who have passed, to live on seems, in some sense, an affront. The one had been nauseous and wretched continually. The sound had carried from one end of the hall to the other. These last several days he'd gone silent, and I'd imagined perhaps his nausea had subsided. In fact, as it turned out, he was simply too weak to produce any sound."
Thereafter, various patients came and went in turn. With the passing of days, my own condition improved. By and by, I began to stroll the wide hallways in slippered feet. As it happened, I came to be on speaking terms with a certain attendant nurse. One warm afternoon, to take some exercise after lunch, I took a potted daffodil to the sink to freshen its water. As I ran the spigot, the nurse approached, carrying teacups from her rooms that she'd come to wash. She greeted me in the usual manner, looked for a moment at the pot in my hands and the large bulb root that crowded its center, then lifted her gaze to view my face in profile. "Your complexion looks much better now than the last time." She was contrasting my appearance of three months ago with my appearance at present.