And, indeed, to confirm Jaffery’s last statement, here is a bit of a scrawl from Liosha—her complete account of the incident:
“We’ve just had the most awful storm I ever did see. The cargo go loose in the hold and we had to fix it up. I got a cut on the head and had to stay in bed till the storm finished. I must say it gave me an awful headache, but there I guess I’m better now.”
Well, that seems to be the most exciting thing that happened to them. Afterwards, in the mind of each, it loomed as the great event in the amazing voyage. A man does not forget having his life saved by a woman at the risk of her own; and a woman, no matter how heroic in action and how magnanimous in after modesty, does not forget it either. Although he had been credited (to his ingenuous delight) by reviewers of “The Greater Glory” with uncanny knowledge of the complexities of a woman’s nature, I have never met a more dunder-headed blunderer in his dealings with women. He perceived the symptoms of this unforgetfulness on Liosha’s part, but seems to have been absolutely fogged in diagnosis.
“Liosha flourishes,” he writes in one of his last Vesta letters, “like a virgin forest of green bay trees. Gosh! She’s splendid. I take back and swallow every presumptuous word I’ve said about her. And, I suppose, owing to our knockabout sort of intimacy, she has adopted a protective, motherly attitude towards me. In her great, spacious, kind way, she gives you the impression that she owns Jaffery Chayne, and knows exactly what is for his good. Women’s ways are wonderful but weird.”
He must have thought himself vastly clever with his alliterative epigram. But he hadn’t the faintest idea of the fount of Liosha’s motherliness.
“Owing to our knockabout sort of intimacy”! Oh, the silly ass!
It was not until the end of October that Doria completed her round of country-house visits and returned to the flat in St. John’s Wood. The morning after her arrival in town she took my satirical counsel and called at Wittekind’s office, and, I am afraid, tried to bite that very pleasant, well-intentioned gentleman. She went out to do battle, arraying herself in subtle panoply of war. This I gather from Barbara’s account of the matter. She informs me that when a woman goes to see her solicitor,