“I am not strong enough for all this,” she thought, in the Mont Cenis tunnel.
Rushing out of it into Italy, she thought, “Last time I was here was in ’99, with Richard. If Richard were here now he would help me.” He would face the customs at Modane, find and get the tickets, deal with uncivil Germans—(Germans were often uncivil to Mrs. Hilary and she to them, and though she had not met any yet on this journey, owing doubtless to their state of collapse and depression consequent on the Great Peace, one might get in at any moment, Germans being naturally buoyant). Richard would have got hold of pillows, seen that she was comfortable at night, told her when there was time to get out for coffee and when there wasn’t (Mrs. Hilary was no hand at this; she would try no runs and get run out, or all but run out). And Richard would have helped to save Nan. Nan and her father had got on pretty well, for a naughty girl and an elderly parent. They had appreciated one another’s brains, which is not a bad basis. They had not accepted or even liked one another’s ideas on life, but this is not necessary or indeed usual in families. Mrs. Hilary certainly did not go so far as to suppose that Nan would have obeyed her father had he appeared before her in Rome and bidden her change her way of life, but she might have thought it over. And to make Nan think over anything which she bade her do would be a phenomenal task. What had Mr. Cradock said—make her remember her first disobedience, find the cause of it, talk it out with her, get it into the open—and then she would be cured of her present lawlessness. Why? That was the connection that always puzzled Mrs. Hilary a little. Why should remembering that you had done, and why you had done, the same kind of thing thirty years ago cure you of doing it now? Similarly, why should remembering that a nurse had scared you as an infant cure you of your present fear of burglars? In point of fact, it didn’t. Mr. Cradock had tried this particular cure on Mrs. Hilary. It must be her own fault, of course, but somehow she had not felt much less nervous about noises in the house at night since Mr. Cradock had brought up into the light, as he called it, that old fright in the nursery. After all, why should one? However, hers not to reason why; and perhaps the workings of Nan’s mind might be more orthodox.
At Turin Germans got in. Of course. They were all over Italy. Italy was welcoming them with both hands, establishing again the economic entente. These were a mother and a backfisch, and they looked shyly and sullenly at Mrs. Hilary and the other English-woman in the compartment. They were thin, and Mrs. Hilary noted it with satisfaction. She didn’t believe for one moment in starving Germans, but these certainly did not look so prosperous and buxom as a pre-war German mother and backfisch would have looked. They were equally uncivil, though. They pulled both windows up to the top. The two English ladies promptly pulled them down half-way. English ladies are the only beings in the world who like open windows in winter. English lower-class women do not, nor do English gentlemen. If you want to keep warm while travelling (to frowst, as the open air school calls it) do not get in with well-bred Englishwomen.