This is the moment that Tadzio began to understand that Aschenbach's
In my new-found confidence, I prepared to approach the old man and apologise if I had offended. I entered the breakfast-room; he looked up and saw me. As I approached his table, no longer averting my eyes, I saw for the first time that the old man’s expression was not disapproval or anger, hostility or contempt. It was if my presence both amazed him and made him afraid. Suddenly he looked down and I found myself, all resolve forgotten, passing him and greeting my family. "Did you sleep well?" Mother asked as I sat down. I nodded, the night's attack as far from my mind as if it had never occurred. Coffee was poured into my cup, a roll set on my plate, my sisters prattled but I was lost in my own world.
What had I seen in the old man’s eyes? Whatever it was, I was no longer afraid of him. Instead, I was sure, I had something to gain. From that moment on I no longer avoided him or turned away when his eyes fell on mine. Wherever I was he seemed to be there, or I sensed him the moment before he appeared. He seldom looked directly at me, usually focusing on something nearby, one of the children playing beside me, flowers at an adjacent table or the dessert tray a waiter offered us. But when our eyes did meet, his gaze was strong, hypnotic. Between us, it said, there is a mystery, a secret that only we share. Occasionally, it softened and there were times he almost smiled at me, a slight movement of the mouth, a twinkle in the eye that dissolved as soon as I noticed it. Under that gaze I often shivered, a sensation as keen and as delicate as when I was naked and alone.
Foreman, Martin. Tadzio Speaks . . . (Death in Venice Revisited), Arbery Publications, 2014, pp 19-21.
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