Puslapio vaizdai


accounted for her asking me read-for we were hurried from somewhat petulantly why I room to room, our landlord always called Captain - er — glancing casually at the book Mif-er-Pardi by such a silly of the words, and giving us no name. I did not point out time to verify anything; as her own effort was not much for examining the china, to better, but meekly explained see what was broken or cracked that the Chocolate Soldier was such a proceeding would have the hero in Bernard Shaw's been unthinkable with the noble ' Arms and the Man.' Octavia, owner's eye upon us, and in I was sure, had never read the face of his cheery generalisaplay, but I was equally sure tions. she would not admit it, for to “Everything very

A1 – have some knowledge of Shaw china, all the best-no house is quite admissible even meri- could you find with more damtorious. Had I explained that good furnishing—no need to the Chocolate Soldier was only count-I have it here and the the money-catching name for inventory says all correct—shall a musical comedy based on we say, like your Navy boys, the play, Octavia would have ‘Make it so, God? scorned me for knowing any. I never heard Navy-boying about it, and unctuously Bobbie ask the Deity's help in announced her own ignorance. that matter, but our arrogant

As we talked, up dashed a British way is to be so indecarrozza, and as it came to pendent. the door pulled up with violence in answer to a prod in There seemed no very obvious the driver's back. It is ap- rooms for our domestics, and parently the only way to stop we were wondering where to a carrozza-driver-no use giv- bestow them, when Dolores ing the number of the house, explained that they would sleep or any little thing like that,- at home, and seemed amazed just give the general direction, at our expecting anything else and prod him when you reach Maltese girls they never the right spot, otherwise I sleep in house." We asked think he would drive till the how we were to manage about works ran down.

dinner at night, and breakfast Captain Mifsud Samut Azzo- in the morning-but exact hours pardi rushed up the steps, and seemed no part of the arrangeinvoked God to tell us how ment, and they said, with hurried he had been. The obvious surprise, that they explanation was not vouch- would not go at night till we safed, but we forgave him were ready. without it.

“ Ten o'clock suit ? HalfGoing over the inventory past ! It is no matter, our was the merest farce. We home quite near.” And as for practically had to take it as breakfast, we would give them


the key and “We come six that would have been vastly o'clock ! Go to market for depressing had one not been you

pretty sure the excitable little Evidently the servant prob- Italian was herself a contrilem was not yet acute in this butory cause in the household Isle of the Blessed ! One might crises. have expected that fact at “The Maltese, they are all least to have reached England, thiefs and liars—the low-class but as Octavia said, “No doubt ones, of course, I mean.” This there's a catch in it some- added, no doubt, at the sudden where."

remembrance that she had marAs we had expected to get a ried one of the despised race. flat or a house, we had brought “And lazy!She threw up out linen with us, and had there her hands and eyes in wordbeen more of us we should have less horror, and from association wished we had brought blankets of ideas I piously ejaculated likewise, for the dam-fine house “My God!" to Octavia's utter was after all a dam-fine summer- horror. To Madame Patapouffe house, and only possessed one it demonstrated that I was inthin blanket to each bed! But deed "simpatica," for she put there were six beds, and only her hand on mine and protwo of us, so that was arranged nounced tragically, “Yes, you all right.

say it-my God!” While we were unpacking Before she left she told us and arranging the rest of our with pride that she was having belongings, Carmela came up her little boy brought up quite and announced that Mrs Frendo- in the English fashion, and Falzon was in the drawing- had "a so excellent English room.

governess for him.” We asked We went down and found a the lady's name and were told small, dark, most vivacious “Meesmaizon." little lady—plump and brown “ That does not sound very and downy-I always thought English," said Octavia judiof her as Madame Patapouffe. cially. Unlike her brother, she talked Ah, but yez-Meesmaizon's English with a ceaseless stac- father is English Church gentlecato ease, like a motor-bicycle man." with the silencer cut out, and By which we gathered the gesticulated with such empha- lady's name was Miss Mason, sis that the most ordinary but for the rest were uncerremark became dramatic. tain whether “English Church

We thanked her for pro- gentleman” indicated her viding us so kindly with ser- father's profession or merely vants—and this launched her his social standing. into a diatribe about Maltese servants, and how to circum- That night we had our first vent their nefarious devices, experience of the bath-after

[ocr errors]

the Knight of Malta one at to its source, the bath! The the hotel, we felt tremendously geyser was blameless, but the proud of our beautiful geyser bath was cracked! We spent contraption-and rather in need a hectic time, mopping up from of it !

the stair and bath-room the The bath itself was made of beautiful flow of hot water a material I have never seen previously destined for myself. used for that purpose before Of course I got a good deal of apparently chips of the ubiqui- it, one way and another, but tous marble held together with not in that calm and contemcement, and looking like a sort plative fashion suitable to hot of nougat. Of course Octavia baths. understands geysers and lighted Next day we bought some it. I felt more like commend- putty and made a beautiful ing myself specially to Provi- mend, looking like a laidlydence, and indeed Carmela, who worm crawling in the bath. assisted, at least in the French The putty proved very passing sense, did cross herself. How- in its action-in fact, it passed ever, nothing untoward hap- away after every bath, so we pened—then! As usual the had to keep a supply in the trouble came from the unsus- bathroom, and anoint the bath pected source. We left the with it every time. bath to fill, and in about half We would have been well an hour I went upstairs again advised to consult our landlord to see how it was getting on. at once, but he had been so It met me half-way ! Down friendly we did not like to our marble staircase flowed a seem exigent. We undergentle stream of still warm stood the Maltese character water, which with squeals for better before we left! But of help to Octavia I waded through that more anon !


Having successfully settled escape the winter, and seemed ourselves so literally at the to have left it behind very seaside, it was obvious that successfully, for it was delighta morning bathe was the first fully warm, although generally thing to try. Octavia objected windy, and the sea could not that it was the close-season have quite recovered from its for bathing—she would not summer holiday heat yet. How associate any such ongoings Octavia went on remembering with the end of October, “and, the real date, in face of the after all, we came to winter in obviously unautumnal weather, Malta, not to pretend it was is to me one of the mysteries the summer holidays !” I of her kind of mind. She also pointed out that we came to lays extraordinary stress on

the points of the compass, is a perpetual swell, even on whereas I only realised we calm days, and the rise and faced east when the rising sun fall of the surface ten feet or woke me.

more. All the time we were All my eloquence failed to there Octavia never could time make Octavia budge from her her exits with the top of the calendar and try bathing, so swell, but was always left I went by myself, and then sprawling half on and half off, and there the two maids de- while the sea receded under cided that I was not quite her. Of course, agility is not responsible, and Octavia my a quality one expects to find not very effective keeper. I among Octavia's physical atsympathised with their views tractions, but the lack of it easily enough-having just had was all the more deplorable : if unlimited hot weather for bath- a skinamalink like me is thrown ing, they would have been as about like seaweed or a stranded senseless as the Serpentine bri- star-fish, it hardly matters, but gade to continue when it was Octavia's stately bulk spread over. But Octaviano, she out flat on its face in a wet had no excuse but stiff-necked bathing-gown is a woeful deconventionality !

basement. Till I set about bathing, I We soon made the acquainthad not noticed what the sea

ance of

Mees Maison.” She was doing about tides—it al- was not strictly a "countryways seemed “in” when I man-woman of ours, although looked at it, but that was no so described, for she was Scotch, doubt coincidence (that pun and her father neither a clergywas accidental, so Bobbie need man nor an Episcopalian, but not have howled like a dog in merely a Protestant, which, of pain when I told him); but course, from an ignorant Italian when it comes to bathing in point of view, might be conthe early morning, experience sidered the Church of Eng. has taught me the tide is land. Octavia is better at seealways down to the very quick. ing nuances in religious matters But at Sliema this depressing than I am, and she treated habit is never indulged in by Miss Mason as belonging to the sea, and it lapped away, or something queerer, and much roared over, our immediate less respectable, than even shore, conscientiously, day in, Roman Catholicism. For Maday out.

son père was not merely a It is not the sort of bathing Protestant - but a Presbyto encourage the nervous or terian ! Catholics may be lost non-swimmers, for the visible in eternity, but Dissenters are shore is just the top-ledge of lost even now-socially. That a precipice, and the sea any- a Presbyterian is not a Disthing in depth-to the eye, senter in

senter in Scotland Octavia bottomless. Besides this there brushed aside as a mere quibble; that an Episcopalian is she self into himself in profound refused to believe as an obvious meditation—not to call it slumheresy. Still there was some ber. As we rounded St Julian's bond between them, as Miss Bay, a motor overtook and Mason scorned the supersti- passed us. There are not very tions of the benighted Maltese many of those infernal machines as much as Octavia.

But as

on the island, and our animal one might watch any pagan was not yet blasé about them. rites for the interest of it, and He awoke from his somnamas there was no denying the bulism, cocked his ears, and picturesqueness of many of with a look of determination, them, Octavia and Miss Mason visible even on the back of arranged to go together to see his head, he spread out his the next big religious festa legs and tore after the motor, which was to be held at Musta. determined to show that he I meant to go too, but just could do quite as well as it if the day before, Bobbie an- he chose. Bobbie was driving nounced he had a whole day -not that he knew anything off, and he and some other about horses or driving, but a emancipated ones wanted to little detail like that is no go over to Ghain Tuffeha to deterrent to the naval mind. bathe. From a Maltese point At first Bobbie cheered the of view, to bathe in November beast on with joyous whoops, is sheer imbecility-like our till it dawned on him that my ice-breaking heroes on the Ser- prayers and groans had some pentine, who shudder through- justification, as St Julian's is out the year, that they may a village, and, like all villages, appear in the illustrated penny very full of children. papers at Christmas or New “This shall now stop," quoth Year. But as far as real cold Bobbie, and taking two round is concerned, bathing in Malta turns of the reins in either hand, in November is preferable to and putting his massive feet England in June, so, of course, on the dash-board, he proceeded I said yes. It sounds a more to pull at the racing steed. No frivolous choice than it was, effect whatever-except to bend because religious processions in the dash-board outwards in a Malta are really more frequent perilous manner. “This," said than naval leave.

Bobbie through his clenched So when the day came, beau- teeth, “ is another Soul's tifully bright as usual, and as Awakening.” windy as ever, I set off before “Then it's a soul going to lunch with Bobbie in a dog. perdition if you can't stop it," cart he had hired for the day. I gasped. * And oh, Bobbie, The horse was a high angular take your great feet down, or beast, with a drooping melan- we'll go straight out if that choly nose, and the moment thing breaks. Why did you he stood still, withdrew him- let him get his head like that?

« AnkstesnisTęsti »