My method of travel has always been to arrange everything beforehand with meticulous foresight. In the most crowded trains and boats I have thus secured luxurious accommodation. To hear therefore that there were no berths free and that we should have to pass the night either on the windy deck or in the red-plush discomfort of the open saloon caused me not unreasonable dismay. I had to choose and I chose the saloon. Jaffery, of course, chose the raw winds of heaven. All night I did not get a wink of sleep. There was a gross fellow in the next section of red-plush whose snoring drowned the throb of the engines. Stewards long after they had cleared away the remains of supper from the long central table chinked money at the desk and discussed the racing stables of the world with a loudly dressed, red-faced man who, judging from the popping of corks, absorbed whiskies and sodas at the rate of three a minute. I understood then how thoughts of murder arose in the human brain. I devised exquisite means of removing him from a nauseated world. Then there was a lamp which swung backwards and forwards and searched my eyeballs relentlessly, no matter how I covered them.
What was I doing in this awful galley? Why had I left my wife and child and tranquil home? The wind freshened as soon as we got out to sea. There were horrible noises and rattling of tins and swift scurrying of stewards. The ship rolled, which I particularly hate a ship to do. And I was fully dressed and it seemed as if all the tender parts of my body were tied up with twine. What was I doing in this galley?
When I awoke it was broad daylight, and Jaffery was grinning over me and all was deathly still.
“Good God!” I cried, sitting up. “Why has the ship stopped? Is there a fog?”
“Fog?” he boomed. “What are you talking of? We’re alongside of Havre.”
“What time is it?” I asked.
“A Christian gentleman’s hour of rising is nine o’clock,” said I, lying down again.
He shook me rudely. “Get up,” said he.
The sleepless, unshaven, unkempt, twine-bound, self-hating wreck of Hilary Freeth rose to his feet with a groan.
“What a ghastly night!”
“Splendid,” said Jaffery, ruddy and fresh. “I must have tramped over twenty miles.”
There was an onrush of blue-bloused porters, with metal plate numbers on their arms. One took our baggage. We followed him up the companion onto the deck, and joined the crowd that awaited the releasing gangway. I stood resentful in the sardine pack of humans. The sky was overcast. It was very cold. The universe had an uncared-for, unswept appearance, like a house surprised at dawn, before the housemaids are up. The forced appearance of a well-to-do philosopher at such an hour was nothing less than an outrage. I glared at the immature day. The day glared at me, and turned down its temperature about twenty degrees. From fool thoughtlessness I had not put on my overcoat, which was now far away in charge of the blue-bloused porter. I shivered. Jaffery was behind me. I glanced over my shoulder.