“Who have you been talking to?” she yawned.
“The eyeglass johnny.”
“Oh! Really,” Nellie murmured, interested and impressed. “With him, have you? I could hear voices. What sort of a man is he?”
“He seems to be an ass,” said Denry. “Fearfully haw-haw. Couldn’t stand him for long. I’ve made him believe we’ve been married for two years.”
They stood on the balcony of the Hotel Beau-Site of Mont Pridoux. A little below, to the right, was the other hotel, the Metropole, with the red-and-white Swiss flag waving over its central tower. A little below that was the terminal station of the funicular railway from Montreux. The railway ran down the sheer of the mountain into the roofs of Montreux, like a wire. On it, two toy trains crawled towards each other, like flies climbing and descending a wall. Beyond the fringe of hotels that constituted Montreux was a strip of water, and beyond the water a range of hills white at the top.
“So these are the Alps!” Nellie exclaimed.
She was disappointed; he also. But when Denry learnt from the guide-book and by inquiry that the strip of lake was seven miles across, and the highest notched peaks ten thousand feet above the sea and twenty-five miles off, Nellie gasped and was content.
They liked the Hotel Beau-Site. It had been recommended to Denry, by a man who knew what was what, as the best hotel in Switzerland. “Don’t you be misled by prices,” the man had said. And Denry was not. He paid sixteen francs a day for the two of them at the Beau-Site, and was rather relieved than otherwise by the absence of finger-bowls. Everything was very good, except sometimes the hot water. The hot-water cans bore the legend “hot water,” but these two words were occasionally the only evidence of heat in the water. On the other hand, the bedrooms could be made sultry by merely turning a handle; and the windows were double. Nellie was wondrously inventive. They breakfasted in bed, and she would save butter and honey from the breakfast to furnish forth afternoon tea, which was not included in the terms. She served the butter freshly with ice by the simple expedient of leaving it outside the window of a night. And Denry was struck by this house-wifery.
The other guests appeared to be of a comfortable, companionable class, with, as Denry said, “no frills.” They were amazed to learn that a chattering little woman of thirty-five, who gossiped with everybody, and soon invited Denry and Nellie to have tea in her room, was an authentic Russian Countess, inscribed in the visitors’ lists as “Comtesse Ruhl (with maid), Moscow.” Her room was the untidiest that Nellie had ever seen, and the tea a picnic. Still, it was thrilling to have had tea with a Russian Countess.... (Plots! Nihilism! Secret police! Marble palaces!).... Those visitors’ lists were breath-taking. Pages and pages of them; scores of hotels, thousands of names, nearly all English—and all people who came to Switzerland in winter, having naught else to do. Denry and Nellie bathed in correctness as in a bath.