“Just you listen to me.”
Here he launched into an amazing farrago of scientific terms, in which the names of great thinkers and scientists were mingled at random. There was nothing connected in his talk; he seemed to be repeating, parrot fashion, words and formulas that he had chanced upon in his dipping into the works that he had boasted of comprehending.
Mavis looked at him in astonishment. He mistook her surprise for admiration.
“I’m afraid you haven’t understood much of what I’ve been saying,” he remarked.
“Not very much.”
“You’ve paid me a great compliment,” he said, looking highly pleased with himself.
Then he spoke of Miss Meakin.
“You’ll tell her what I’ve done for you?”
“Last night, at the ‘light fantastic’ I told you of, we had a bit of a tiff, when I spoke my mind. Would you believe it, she only danced twenty hops with me out of the twenty-three set down?”
“What bad taste!”
“I’m glad you think that. Her sending you to me shows she isn’t offended at what I said. I did give it her hot. I threw in plenty of scientific terms and all that.”
“Poor girl!” remarked Mavis.
“Yes, she was to be pitied. But here we are at the station.”
Mavis went inside with Mr Napper, where she proved her title to her stolen property by minutely describing the contents of her bag, from which she was rejoiced to find nothing had been taken. Her unposted letter to Perigal was with her other possessions.
As they were leaving the station, Mr Napper remarked:
“The day before yesterday I had the greatest compliment of my life paid me.”
“And what was that?” asked Mavis.
“A lady told me that she’d known me three years, and that all that time she never understood what my scientific conversation was about.”
If Mavis had believed that the recovery of her property would give her peace of mind, she soon discovered how grievously she was mistaken.
Directly she left the police station with Mr Napper, all her old fears and forebodings for the future resumed sway over her thoughts. As before, she sought to allay them by undiminished faith in her lover. She accepted Mr Napper’s hospitality in the form of tea and toast at a branch of the Aerated Bread Company, where she asked him how much she was in his debt for his services. To her surprise, he replied, “Nothing at all,” and added that he was only too glad to assist her, not only for Miss Meakin’s sake, but because he felt that Mavis dimly appreciated his intellectuality. Upon Mavis untruthfully replying that she did, Mr Napper gave a further effort to impress, not only her, but others seated about them; he talked his jargon of scientific and philosophical phrases at the top of his voice. She was relieved