“I don’t know where he is.”
“Angus! Didn’t we hear that Lilly was in Germany?”
“Yes, in Munich, being psychoanalysed, I believe it was.”
Aaron looked rather blank.
“But have you anything to take you to Venice? It’s such a bad climate in the winter. Why not come with us to Florence?” said Francis.
Aaron wavered. He really did not know what to do.
“Think about it,” said Francis, laying his hand on Aaron’s arm. “Think about it tonight. And we’ll meet in the morning. At what time?”
“Any time,” said Aaron.
“Well, say eleven. We’ll meet in the lounge here at eleven. Will that suit you? All right, then. It’s so awfully nice meeting you. That marvellous flute.—And think about Florence. But do come. Don’t disappoint us.”
The two young men went elegantly upstairs.
A RAILWAY JOURNEY
The next day but one, the three set off for Florence. Aaron had made an excursion from Milan with the two young heroes, and dined with them subsequently at the most expensive restaurant in the town. Then they had all gone home—and had sat in the young men’s bedroom drinking tea, whilst Aaron played the flute. Francis was really musical, and enchanted. Angus enjoyed the novelty, and the moderate patronage he was able to confer. And Aaron felt amused and pleased, and hoped he was paying for his treat.
So behold them setting off for Florence in the early morning. Angus and Francis had first-class tickets: Aaron took a third-class.
“Come and have lunch with us on the train,” said Angus. “I’ll order three places, and we can lunch together.”
“Oh, I can buy a bit of food at the station,” said Aaron.
“No, come and lunch with us. It will be much nicer. And we shall enjoy it as well,” said Angus.
“Of course! Ever so much nicer! Of course!” cried Francis. “Yes, why not, indeed! Why should you hesitate?”
“All right, then,” said Aaron, not without some feeling of constraint.
So they separated. The young men settled themselves amidst the red plush and crochet-work, looking, with their hair plastered smoothly back, quite as first class as you could wish, creating quite the right impression on the porters and the travelling Italians. Aaron went to his third-class, further up the train.
“Well, then, au revoir, till luncheon,” cried Francis.
The train was fairly full in the third and second classes. However, Aaron got his seat, and the porter brought on his bags, after disposing of the young men’s luggage. Aaron gave the tip uneasily. He always hated tipping—it seemed humiliating both ways. And the airy aplomb of the two young cavaliers, as they settled down among the red plush and the obsequiousness, and said “Well, then, au revoir till luncheon,” was peculiarly unsettling: though they did not intend it so.