Matthew was introduced to her. He explained that love was so important that it could only be discussed lightly. He said that her hair reminded him ... he wished he could think of what, but he had such a bad memory for metaphors. It took him all his time to remember that a harp was like water and Carpentier like a Greek god. It was funny, wasn’t it, to have such a weak head. He thought it came from hay fever—he always had hay fever during the third week of May. It came entirely from honeysuckle.
Estelle said that she would like to sit in the library. Grace was in a corner pulling monosyllables out of her mouth like teeth.
Virginia was still in the middle of the sofa, a dissolving mass of orange mist. Edgar was talking away all risk of his suiting the action to the word. Estelle was dimpling.
“Do you remember,” she said to Matthew, “that orange is flame-colour?”
“By Jove, yes,” he said, “oriflammes and hell fire.”
A low murmur came from the sofa.
“Will you introduce me to your husband?” Matthew asked.
They all talked together.
“By the way, Virginia,” Matthew said, “the young man does love you.”
“Dear me, how very nice.”
“It only required me to point it out to him.”
“Was he pleased?”
“Delighted. By the way, Mr. Wilmot,”—Matthew turned to Edgar—“do you ever wear spectacles?”
[To MARCEL PROUST]
What a fool he had been to come. These wooden walls creaking at a touch, and the floors responding like an animal in pain to the lightest footstep. Not that Marie Aimee had light footsteps—far from it. She clattered about with the happy noisiness of a good conscience and perfect health. In her hands the opening of a door became an air-raid and yet what could you do, confronted with her rosy face beaming with a child-like confidence in giving pleasure and satisfaction.
No, it was entirely his own fault. Everything was what he might have expected. The sea was just where he had been told it would be, the air was relentlessly bracing, the cleanliness of the Hotel Bungalow reminded you of a shiny soaped face which had never known powder. It was all, he reflected, quite horrible. The salt-laden wind blowing the sand up from the dunes, the hard bright sunshine, the effect everything gave you of having been painted with the six colours of a child’s rather cheap paint-box.
“A different man,” she had said he would feel. Well he felt it already—the lassitude of his body feebly revolting against the impending bracing, his eyes watering at the glare. Health and inspiration, Marthe had said, dreamless sleep, an insatiable appetite and perfect peace in which to finish his novel. “Think how quiet it will be,” she had said. As if the country were ever quiet, crowded as it was with locos and dogs and sabots. Surely peace meant Paris in August, with every one away, thick carpets and a noiseless valet.