Here he poked a little table through the window, and put a bottle and two glasses, one a tooth-glass, upon it. Then he withdrew again to finish shaving. The waiter presently hobbled up with the syphon and third glass. Argyle pushed his head through the window, that was only a little higher than the balcony. He was soon neatly shaved, and was brushing his hair.
“Go ahead, my boys, go ahead with that whiskey!” he said.
“We’ll wait for you,” said Lilly.
“No, no, don’t think of it. However, if you will, I shall be one minute only—one minute only. I’ll put on the water for the tea now. Oh, damned bad methylated spirit they sell now! And six francs a litre! Six francs a litre! I don’t know what I’m going to do, the air I breathe costs money nowadays—Just one moment and I’ll be with you! Just one moment—”
In a very little while he came from the tiny attic bedroom, through the tiniest cupboard of a sitting-room under the eaves, where his books were, and where he had hung his old red India tapestries—or silk embroideries—and he emerged there up above the world on the loggia.
“Now then—siamo nel paradiso, eh? Paradisal enough for you, is it?”
“The devil looking over Lincoln,” said Lilly laughing, glancing up into Argyle’s face.
“The devil looking over Florence would feel sad,” said Argyle. “The place is fast growing respectable—Oh, piety makes the devil chuckle. But respectability, my boy, argues a serious diminution of spunk. And when the spunk diminishes we-ell—it’s enough to make the most sturdy devil look sick. What? No doubt about it, no doubt whatever—There —!” he had just finished settling his tie and buttoning his waistcoat. “How do I look, eh? Presentable?—I’ve just had this suit turned. Clever little tailor across the way there. But he charged me a hundred and twenty francs.” Argyle pulled a face, and made the little trumping noise with his lips. “However—not bad, is it?—He had to let in a bit at the back of the waistcoat, and a gusset, my boy, a gusset—in the trousers back. Seems I’ve grown in the arsal region. Well, well, might do worse.—Is it all right?”
Lilly eyed the suit.
“Very nice. Very nice indeed. Such a good cloth! That makes all the difference.”
“Oh, my dear fellow, all the difference! This suit is eleven years old—eleven years old. But beautiful English cloth—before the war, before the war!”
“It looks quite wonderfully expensive and smart now,” said Lilly.
“Expensive and smart, eh! Ha-ha-ha! Well, it cost me a hundred and twenty francs to have it turned, and I found that expensive enough. Well, now, come—” here Argyle’s voice took on a new gay cheer. “A whiskey and soda, Lilly? Say when! Oh, nonsense, nonsense! You’re going to have double that. You’re no lily of the valley here, remember. Not with me. Not likely. Siamo nel paradiso, remember.”