“I think I’ll come with you as far as Paris,” said he. “I’ll get into a smoker somewhere or the other.”
“But, my dear sir”—exclaimed Mr. Jornicroft in some amazement—“it’s awfully kind, but why should you?”
“Mrs. Boldero has got to be carried. I didn’t realise it. She can’t put her feet to the ground. Some one has got to lift her at every stage of the journey. And I’m not going to let any damned clumsy fellow handle her. I’ll see her into the Nice train to-morrow night—perhaps I’ll go on to Nice with you and fix her up in the hotel. As a matter of fact, I will. I shan’t worry you. You won’t see me, except at the right time. Don’t be afraid.”
Mr. Jornicroft, most methodical of Britons, gasped. So, I must confess, did Barbara and I. When Jaffery met us at the station he had no more intention of escorting Doria to Nice than we had ourselves.
“I can’t permit it—it’s too kind—there’s no necessity—we’ll get on all right!” spluttered Mr. Jornicroft.
“You won’t. She has got to be carried. You’re not going to take any risks.”
“But, my dear fellow—it’s absurd—you haven’t any luggage.”
“Luggage?” He looked at Mr. Jornicroft as if he had suggested the impossibility of going abroad without a motor veil or the Encyclopaedia Britannica. “What the blazes has luggage got to do with it?” His roar could be heard above the din of the hurrying station. “I don’t want luggage.” The humour of the proposition appealed to him so mightily that he went off into one of his reverberating explosions of mirth.
“Ho! ho! ho!” Then recovering—“Don’t you worry about that.”
“But have you enough on you—it’s an expensive journey—of course I should be most happy—”
Jaffery stepped back and scanned the length of the platform and beckoned to an official, who came hurrying towards him. It was the station master.
“Have you ever seen me before, Mr. Winter?”
The official laughed. “Pretty often, Mr. Chayne.”
“Do you think I could get from here to Nice without buying a ticket now?”
“Why, of course, our agent at Boulogne will arrange it if I send him a wire.”
“Right,” said Jaffery. “Please do so, Mr. Winter. I’m crossing now and going to Nice by the Cote d’Azur Express to-morrow night. And see after a seat for me, will you?”
“I’ll reserve a compartment if possible, Mr. Chayne.”
The station master raised his hat and departed. Jaffery, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets, beamed upon us like a mountainous child. We were all impressed by his lordly command of the railway systems of Europe. It was a question of credit, of course, but neither Mr. Jornicroft, solid man that he was, nor myself could have undertaken that journey with a few loose shillings in his possession. For the first time since Adrian’s death I saw Jaffery really enjoying himself.