Laurent decides that he will stop working at his regular office job, and instead rent a studio and return to painting.
(Can we do that, please? Um… Okay…)
The very next morning, Laurent finds a studio and rents it.
While there, he spends many restful hours away from Thérèse and the ghost of Camille. Good for you, buddy.
On one of his morning walks, Laurent even runs into an old school friend, who is now a painter.
Laurent takes his friend to his studio, and the painter is amazed by Laurent's artwork.
The narrator then gives us a careful explanation of what has happened to Laurent's disposition: due to his interactions with Thérèse's "nervous" personality, Laurent has developed a "woman's sensibility."
His greater sensitivity has, in fact, transformed him into an artistic genius.
We're not going to touch the sexism here with a ten-foot stick. But this is the author's version of an "empirical study" of the human disposition. He was a man of his times, it seems.
Interestingly, Laurent's artist friend has only one criticism of his paintings: they all look alike.
After his friend leaves, Laurent realizes with horror that all the paintings look like Camille's drowned face.
And we thought something nice was happening to dear Laurent for a change.
But no. He tries desperately to paint other things: angels, warriors, children, even cats and dogs. But every single sketch ends up looking like Camille's contorted head.
Laurent stares at his hand in fear: it's as if the hand has memorized every single line of Camille's face. Dun dun dun.