“The Height of the season,” said Bonamy.
The sun had already blistered the paint on the backs of the green chairs in Hyde Park; peeled the bark off the plane trees; and turned the earth to powder and to smooth yellow pebbles. Hyde Park was circled, incessantly, by turning wheels.
“The height of the season,” said Bonamy sarcastically.
He was sarcastic because of Clara Durrant; because Jacob had come back from Greece very brown and lean, with his pockets full of Greek notes, which he pulled out when the chair man came for pence; because Jacob was silent.
“He has not said a word to show that he is glad to see me,” thought Bonamy bitterly.
The motor cars passed incessantly over the bridge of the Serpentine; the upper classes walked upright, or bent themselves gracefully over the palings; the lower classes lay with their knees cocked up, flat on their backs; the sheep grazed on pointed wooden legs; small children ran down the sloping grass, stretched their arms, and fell.
“Very urbane,” Jacob brought out.
“Urbane” on the lips of Jacob had mysteriously all the shapeliness of a character which Bonamy thought daily more sublime, devastating, terrific than ever, though he was still, and perhaps would be for ever, barbaric, obscure.
What superlatives! What adjectives! How acquit Bonamy of sentimentality of the grossest sort; of being tossed like a cork on the waves; of having no steady insight into character; of being unsupported by reason, and of drawing no comfort whatever from the works of the classics?
“The height of civilization,” said Jacob.
He was fond of using Latin words.
Magnanimity, virtue—such words when Jacob used them in talk with Bonamy meant that he took control of the situation; that Bonamy would play round him like an affectionate spaniel; and that (as likely as not) they would end by rolling on the floor.
“And Greece?” said Bonamy. “The Parthenon and all that?”
“There’s none of this European mysticism,” said Jacob.
“It’s the atmosphere. I suppose,” said Bonamy. “And you went to Constantinople?”
“Yes,” said Jacob.
Bonamy paused, moved a pebble; then darted in with the rapidity and certainty of a lizard’s tongue.
“You are in love!” he exclaimed.
The sharpest of knives never cut so deep.
As for responding, or taking the least account of it, Jacob stared straight ahead of him, fixed, monolithic—oh, very beautiful!—like a British Admiral, exclaimed Bonamy in a rage, rising from his seat and walking off; waiting for some sound; none came; too proud to look back; walking quicker and quicker until he found himself gazing into motor cars and cursing women. Where was the pretty woman’s face? Clara’s— Fanny’s—Florinda’s? Who was the pretty little creature?