The box remained empty until the end of the performance. Nevertheless, there was reasonable hope that, having been unable to attend the concert, for reasons she would explain, she’ll be waiting for him outside, at the stage door. She wasn’t there. And since the fate of hopes is always to breed more hopes, which is why, despite so many disappointments, they have not died out in the world, she might be waiting for him outside his building with a smile on her lips and the letter in her hand, Here you are, as promised. She wasn’t there either. The cellist went into his apartment like an old-fashioned, first-generation automaton, the sort that had to ask one leg to move in order to move the other one. He pushed away the dog who had come to greet him, put his cello down in the first convenient place and went and lay on his bed. Now will you learn your lesson, you idiot, you’ve behaved like a complete imbecile, you gave the meanings you wanted to words which, in the end, meant something else entirely, meanings that you don’t know and never will know, you believed in smiles that were nothing but deliberate muscular contractions, you forgot that you’re really five hundred years old, even though the years very kindly reminded you of this, and now here you are, washed up, lying on the bed where you were hoping to welcome her, while she’s laughing at the foolish figure you cut and at your ineradicable stupidity. His master’s rebuff forgotten, the dog came over to the bed to console him. He put his front paws on the mattress and pulled himself up to the height of his master’s left hand, which lay there like something futile and vain, and gently rested his head on it. He could have licked it and licked it again, as is the way with ordinary dogs, but nature had, for once, revealed her benevolent side and reserved for him a very special sensitivity, one that allowed him even to invent different gestures to express emotions that are always the same and always unique. The cellist turned toward the dog, and adjusted his position so that his head was only a few inches from the dog’s head, and there they stayed, looking at each other, saying, with no need for words, When I think about it, I have no idea who you are, but that’s not important, what matters is that we care about each other.