‘We’ll leave each other now, Frank,’ I said, ’before the people begin to come back from dinner. Go and eat something.’
’I shall be all right. Yvonne will get me some fruit. I shall stay in our compartment till we arrive.’
’Yes. And when we do arrive—what then? What are your wishes? You see, I can’t leave the train before we get to Mentone because of my registered luggage.’
He spoke appealingly.
The dear thing, with his transparent pretexts!
’You can ignore us at the station, and then leave Mentone again during the day.’
‘As you wish,’ he said.
‘Good-night!’ I whispered. ‘Good-bye!’ And I turned to my compartment.
‘Carlotta!’ he cried despairingly.
But I shut the door and drew the blinds.
Yvonne was discretion itself when she returned.
She had surely seen
Frank. No doubt she anticipated piquant developments at Mentone.
All night I lay on my narrow bed, with Yvonne faintly snoring above me, and the harsh, metallic rattle of the swinging train beneath. I could catch the faint ticking of my watch under the thin pillow. The lamp burnt delicately within its green shade. I lay almost moveless, almost dead, shifting only at long intervals from side to side. Sometimes my brain would arouse itself, and I would live again through each scene of my relationship with Frank and Mary. I often thought of the engine-driver, outside, watching over us and unflinchingly dragging us on. I hoped that his existence had compensations.
Early on the second morning after that interview in the train I sat on my balcony in the Hotel d’Ecosse, full in the tremendous sun that had ascended over the Mediterranean. The shore road wound along beneath me by the blue water that never receded nor advanced, lopping always the same stones. A vivid yellow electric tram, like a toy, crept forward on my left from the direction of Vintimille and Italy, as it were swimming noiselessly on the smooth surface of the road among the palms of an intense green, against the bright blue background of the sea; and another tram advanced, a spot of orange, to meet it out of the variegated tangle of tinted houses composing the Old Town. High upon the summit of the Old Town rose the slim, rose-coloured cupola of the church in a sapphire sky. The regular smiting sound of a cracked bell, viciously rung, came from it. The eastern prospect was shut in by the last olive-clad spurs of the Alps, that tread violently and gigantically into the sea. The pathways of the hotel garden were being gently swept by a child of the sun, who could not have sacrificed his graceful dignity to haste; and many peaceful morning activities proceeded on the road, on the shore, and on the jetty. A procession of tawny fishing-boats passed from the harbour one after another straight into the eye of