P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories


His stock of French was small, but it ran to that, and for his purpose it was ample. The French temperament is not stolid. When the French temperament sees a man running rapidly and pointing into the middle distance and hears him shouting, 'La! La! Vite! Vite!' it does not stop to make formal inquiries. It sprints like a mustang. It did so now, with the happy result that a moment later George was racing down the road, the centre and recognized leader of an enthusiastic band of six, which, in the next twenty yards, swelled to eleven.

Five minutes later, in a wine-shop near the harbour, he was sipping the first glass of a bottle of cheap but comforting vin ordinaire while he explained to the interested proprietor, by means of a mixture of English, broken French, and gestures that he had been helping to chase a thief, but had been forced by fatigue to retire prematurely for refreshment. The proprietor gathered, however, that he had every confidence in the zeal of his still active colleagues.

It is convincing evidence of the extent to which love had triumphed over prudence in George's soul that the advisability of lying hid in his hotel on the following day did not even cross his mind. Immediately after breakfast, or what passed for it at Roville, he set out for the Hotel Cercle de la Mediterranee to hand over the two louis to their owner.

Lady Julia, he was informed on arrival, was out. The porter, politely genial, advised monsieur to seek her on the Promenade des Etrangers.

She was there, on the same seat where she had left the book.

'Good morning,' he said.

She had not seen him coming, and she started at his voice. The flush was back on her face as she turned to him. There was a look of astonishment in the grey eyes.

He held out the two louis.

'I couldn't give them to you last night,' he said.

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