“And we’ll dance the tangerine,” said Myra.
But now observe us approaching Monte Carlo. For an hour past Simpson has been collecting his belongings. Two bags, two coats, a camera, a rug, Thomas, golf-clubs, books—his compartment is full of things which have to be kept under his eye lest they should evade him at the last moment. As the train leaves Monaco his excitement is intense.
“I think, old chap,” he says to Thomas, “I’ll wear the coats after all.”
“And the bags,” says Thomas, “and then you’ll have a suit.”
Simpson puts on the two coats and appears very big and hot.
“I’d better have my hands free,” he says, and straps the camera and the golf-clubs on to himself. “Then if you nip out and get a porter I can hand the bags out to him through the window.”
“All right,” says Thomas. He is deep in his book and looks as if he were settled in his corner of the carriage for the day.
The train stops. There is bustle, noise, confusion. Thomas in some magical way has disappeared. A porter appears at the open window and speaks voluble French to Simpson. Simpson looks round wildly for Thomas. “Thomas!” he cries. “Un moment,” he says to the porter. “Thomas! Mon ami, it n’est pas—I say, Thomas, old chap, where are you? Attendez un moment. Mon ami—er—reviendra—” He is very hot. He is wearing, in addition to what one doesn’t mention, an ordinary waistcoat, a woolly waistcoat for steamer use, a tweed coat, an aquascutum, an ulster, a camera and a bag of golfclubs. The porter, with many gesticulations, is still hurling French at him.
It is too much for Simpson. He puts his head out of the window and, observing in the distance a figure of such immense dignity that it can only belong to the station-master, utters to him across the hurly-burly a wild call for help.
“Ou est Cooks’s homme?” he cries.
The villa was high up on the hill, having (as Simpson was to point out several times later) Mentone on its left hand and Monte Carlo on its right. A long winding path led up through its garden of olives to the front door, and through the mimosa trees which flanked this door we could see already a flutter of white aprons. The staff was on the loggia waiting to greet us.
We halted a moment out of sight of the ladies above and considered ourselves. It came to us with a sudden shock that we were a very large party.
“I suppose,” said Archie to Simpson, “they do expect all of us and not only you? You told them that about half London was coming?”
“We’re only six,” said Myra, “because I’ve just counted again, but we seem about twenty.”
“It’s quite all right,” said Simpson cheerfully. “I said we’d be six.”
“But six in a letter is much smaller than six of us like this; and when they see our luggage—”