“No, no,” the Countess protested. “As for me, I hate your mountains. I was born in the steppe where it is all level—level! Your mountains close me in. I am only here by order of my doctor. Your mountains get on my nerves.” She shrugged her shoulders.
Captain Deverax smiled.
“It is the same with you, isn’t it?” he said turning to Nellie.
“Oh, no,” said Nellie, simply.
“But your husband told me the other day that when you and he were in Geneva a couple of years ago, the view of Mont Blanc used to—er—upset you.”
“View of Mont Blanc?” Nellie stammered.
Everybody was aware that she and Denry had never been in Switzerland before, and that their marriage was indeed less than a month old.
“You misunderstood me,” said Denry, gruffly. “My wife hasn’t been to Geneva.”
“Oh!” drawled Captain Deverax.
His “Oh!” contained so much of insinuation, disdain, and lofty amusement that Denry blushed, and when Nellie saw her husband’s cheek she blushed in competition and defeated him easily. It was felt that either Denry had been romancing to the Captain, or that he had been married before, unknown to his Nellie, and had been “carrying on” at Geneva. The situation, though it dissolved of itself in a brief space, was awkward. It discredited the Hotel Beau-Site. It was in the nature of a repulse for the Hotel Beau-Site (franc a day cheaper than the Metropole) and of a triumph for the popinjay. The fault was utterly Denry’s. Yet he said to himself:
“I’ll be even with that chap.”
On the drive home he was silent. The theme of conversation in the sleighs which did not contain the Countess was that the Captain had flirted tremendously with the Countess, and that it amounted to an affair.
Captain Deverax was equally salient in the department of sports. There was a fair sheet of ice, obtained by cutting into the side of the mountain, and a very good tobogganing track, about half a mile in length and full of fine curves, common to the two hotels. Denry’s predilection was for the track. He would lie on his stomach on the little contrivance which the Swiss call a luge, and which consists of naught but three bits of wood and two steel-clad runners, and would course down the perilous curves at twenty miles an hour. Until the Captain came, this was regarded as dashing, because most people were content to sit on the luge and travel legs-foremost instead of head-foremost. But the Captain, after a few eights on the ice, intimated that for the rest no sport was true sport save the sport of ski-running. He allowed it to be understood that luges were for infants. He had brought his skis, and these instruments of locomotion, some six feet in length, made a sensation among the inexperienced. For when he had strapped them to his feet the Captain, while stating candidly