“I have only paddled,” said Asako, “when I was a little girl.”
Geoffrey could not resist the temptation of the blue water and the lazy curling waves. In a few minutes the two men were walking down to the sea’s edge, Geoffrey laughing at Reggie’s chatter. His arms were akimbo, with hands on the hips, hips which looked like the boles of a mighty oak-tree. He touched the ground with the elasticity of Mercury; he pushed through the air with the shoulders of Hercules. The line of his back was pliant as a steel blade. In his hair the sun’s reflection shone like wires of gold. The Gods were come down in the semblance of men.
Yae did not repress a sharp intake of her breath; and she squeezed the hand of the gipsy girl as if pain had gripped her.
“How big your husband is!” she said to Asako. “What a splendid man!”
Asako thought of her husband as “dear old Geoffrey.” She never criticized his points; nor did she think that Yae’s admiration was in very good taste. However, she accepted it as a clumsy compliment from an uneducated girl who knew no better. The gipsy companion watched with a peculiar smile. She understood the range of Yae’s admiration.
“Isn’t it a pity they have to wear bathing dress?” Miss Smith went on. “It’s so ugly. Look at the Japanese.”
Farther along the beach some Japanese men were bathing. They threw their clothes down on the sand and ran into the water with nothing on their bodies except a strip of white cotton knotted round the loins. They dashed into the sea with their arms lifted above their head, shouting wildly like savage devotees calling upon their gods. The sea sparkled like silver round their tawny skin. Their torsos were well formed and hardy; their dwarfed and ill-shaped legs were hidden by the waves. Certainly they presented an artistic contrast with the sodden blue of the foreigners’ bathing suits. But Asako, brought up to the strict ideals of convent modesty, said:
“I think it’s disgusting; the police ought to stop those people bathing with no clothes on.”
The dust and sun of the motor ride, the constant anxiety lest they might run over some doddering old woman or some heedless child, had given her a headache. As soon as Geoffrey returned from his dip, she announced that she would go back to her room.
As the headache continued, she abandoned the idea of dancing. She would go to bed, and listen to the music in the distance. Geoffrey wished to stay with her, but she would not hear of it. She knew that her husband was fond of dancing; she thought that the change and the brightness would be good for him.
“Don’t flirt with Yae Smith,” she smiled, as he gave her the last kiss, “or Reggie will be jealous.”