“Does this sort of thing appeal to you?” she asked the young Russian, nodding towards the gay scrimmage of masqueraders and rather prepared to hear an amused negative.”
“But yes, of course,” he answered; “costume balls, fancy fairs, cafe chantant, casino, anything that is not real life appeals to us Russians. Real life with us is the sort of thing that Maxim Gorki deals in. It interests us immensely, but we like to get away from it sometimes.”
Madame Kelnicort came up with another prospective partner, and Elaine delivered her ukase: one more dance and then back to the hotel. Without any special regret she made her retreat from the revel which Courtenay was enjoying under the impression that it was life and the young Russian under the firm conviction that it was not.
Elaine breakfasted at her aunts’ table the next morning at much her usual hour. Courtenay was sleeping the sleep of a happy tired animal. He had given instructions to be called at eleven o’clock, from which time onward the Neue Freie Presse, the Zeit, and his toilet would occupy his attention till he appeared at the luncheon table. There were not many people breakfasting when Elaine arrived on the scene, but the room seemed to be fuller than it really was by reason of a penetrating voice that was engaged in recounting how far the standard of Viennese breakfast fare fell below the expectations and desires of little Jerome and the girls.
“If ever little Jerome becomes President of the United States,” said Elaine, “I shall be able to contribute quite an informing article on his gastronomic likes and dislikes to the papers.”
The aunts were discreetly inquisitive as to the previous evening’s entertainment.
“If Elaine would flirt mildly with somebody it would be such a good thing,” said Mrs. Goldbrook; “it would remind Courtenay that he’s not the only attractive young man in the world.”
Elaine, however, did not gratify their hopes; she referred to the ball with the detachment she would have shown in describing a drawing-room show of cottage industries. It was not difficult to discern in her description of the affair the confession that she had been slightly bored. From Courtenay, later in the day, the aunts received a much livelier impression of the festivities, from which it was abundantly clear that he at any rate had managed to amuse himself. Neither did it appear that his good opinion of his own attractions had suffered any serious shock. He was distinctly in a very good temper.
“The secret of enjoying a honeymoon,” said Mrs. Goldbrook afterwards to her sister, “is not to attempt too much.”
“Courtenay is content to try and keep one person amused and happy, and he thoroughly succeeds.”
“I certainly don’t think Elaine is going to be very happy,” said her sister, “but at least Courtenay saved her from making the greatest mistake she could have made—marrying that young Bassington.”