The merest sliver of edgy Simenon-style psychological domestic brooding--as Dr. Edouard Malempin watches over his ill son (diphtheria) and remembers his own farm childhood when he was ill (impetigo) and witnessed his mother telling a lie about the never-explained disappearance of her Uncle Tesson. ""Did my parents decide to get rid of Tesaon?""--he was rich and had lent money to his ambitious niece and her husband. And little Edouard later found a button from Uncle Tesson's coat, further food for suspicion. In any case, Edouard was sent to live with Tesson's youngish widow--to keep her company and to gain a good education--and became an unwilling outcast from his own family. Other sore points: his aunt's lovers, her eventual madness (""Was it my fault? What did I know about her?""), his ne'er-do-well brother, his own attitude toward his wife (""I chose my wife as if from a catalogue""), and his summing-up self-analysis: ""for twenty, thirty years, I've been walking on tiptoe, scarcely daring to breathe!"" Sketchily evocative and undeniably depressing, but inconclusive as to both facts and psychology: too little substance to justify such relieved moodiness.