“Why didn’t you tell me all this long ago?” asked Jaffery.
“I tried to be good to please you—you and Barbara and Hilary, who’ve been so kind to me.”
“It’s all this infernal civilisation,” he declared. “My dear girl, I’m as much fed up with it as you are; I want to go somewhere and wear beads.”
“So do I,” said Liosha.
I thought of Barbara’s lecture on the whole duty of woman and I chuckled. The attitude in which I was, my hands clasped round my knees, consorted with sardonic merriment. I was checked, however, a moment afterwards, by the sight of my barbarians in the perfect agreement of babyhood calmly walking away from me along the cliff road. I jumped to my feet and pursued them.
“At any rate while you’re with me,” I panted, “you’ll observe the decencies of civilised life.”
“Arretez! ’Arretez!” roared Jaffery all of a sudden.
We had just passed the Havre Casino on our way back from Etretat. The chauffeur pulled up. Jaffery flung open the door, leaped out and disappeared. In a few seconds we heard his voice reverberating from side to side of the Boulevard Maritime.
“Hullo! hullo! hullo!”
I raised myself and, looking over the back of the car, saw Jaffery in characteristic attitude, shaking a strange man by the shoulders and laughing in delighted welcome. He was a squat, broad, powerful-looking fellow, with a heavy black beard trimmed to a point, and wearing a curiously ill-fitting suit of tweeds and a bowler-hat. I noticed that he carried neither stick nor gloves. The ecstasies of encounter having subsided, Jaffery dragged him to the car.
“This is my good old friend, Captain Maturin,” he shouted, opening the door. “Mrs. Prescott. Mr. Freeth. Get in. We’ll have a drink at Tortoni’s.”
Captain Maturin, unconfused by Jaffery’s unceremonious whirling, took off his hat very politely and entered the car in a grave, self-possessed manner. He had clear, unblinking, grey-green eyes, the colour of a stormy sea before the dawn. I was for surrendering him my seat next Liosha, but with a courteous “Pray don’t,” he quickly established himself on the small seat facing us, hitherto occupied by Jaffery. Jaffery jumped up in front next the chauffeur and leaned over the partition. The car started.
“Captain and I are old shipmates.” All Havre must have heard him. “From Christiania to Odessa, with all the Baltic and Mediterranean ports thrown in. In the depth of winter. Remember?”
“It was five years ago,” said Captain Maturin, twisting his head round. “We sailed from the port of Leith on the 27th of December.”
“And by gosh! Didn’t it blow? Gales the whole time, there and back.”
“It was as dirty a voyage as ever I made,” said Captain Maturin.
“A ripping time, anyhow,” said Jaffery.