At Cottard’s request the doctor stopped his car beside one of the groups of children. They were playing hopscotch and making a great deal of noise. One of them, a boy with sleek, neatly parted hair and a grubby face, stared hard at Rieux with bright, bold eyes. The doctor looked away. Standing on the sidewalk Cottard shook his head. He then said in a hoarse, rather labored voice, casting uneasy glances over his shoulder:
"Everybody’s talking about an epidemic. Is there anything in it, doctor?"
"People always talk," Rieux replied. "That’s only to be expected." (1.8.59-61)