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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XX Too Late
|Page 2 of 4||
"Oh!" said Tommy, amazed.
Julius uncrossed his legs brusquely and continued:
"Just shows what an almighty fool a man can make of himself! One look at the girl in the flesh, and I was cured!"
Feeling more tongue-tied than ever, Tommy ejaculated "Oh!" again.
"No disparagement to Jane, mind you," continued the other. "She's a real nice girl, and some fellow will fall in love with her right away."
"I thought her a very good-looking girl," said Tommy, finding his tongue.
"Sure she is. But she's not like her photo one bit. At least I suppose she is in a way--must be--because I recognized her right off. If I'd seen her in a crowd I'd have said 'There's a girl whose face I know' right away without any hesitation. But there was something about that photo"--Julius shook his head, and heaved a sigh--"I guess romance is a mighty queer thing!"
"It must be," said Tommy coldly, "if you can come over here in love with one girl, and propose to another within a fortnight."
Julius had the grace to look discomposed.
"Well, you see, I'd got a sort of tired feeling that I'd never find Jane--and that it was all plumb foolishness anyway. And then--oh, well, the French, for instance, are much more sensible in the way they look at things. They keep romance and marriage apart----"
"Well, I'm damned! If that's----"
Julius hastened to interrupt.
"Say now, don't be hasty. I don't mean what you mean. I take it Americans have a higher opinion of morality than you have even. What I meant was that the French set about marriage in a businesslike way--find two people who are suited to one another, look after the money affairs, and see the whole thing practically, and in a businesslike spirit."
"If you ask me," said Tommy, "we're all too damned businesslike nowadays. We're always saying, 'Will it pay?' The men are bad enough, and the girls are worse!"
"Cool down, son. Don't get so heated."
"I feel heated," said Tommy.
Julius looked at him and judged it wise to say no more.
However, Tommy had plenty of time to cool down before they reached Holyhead, and the cheerful grin had returned to his countenance as they alighted at their destination.
After consultation, and with the aid of a road map, they were fairly well agreed as to direction, so were able to hire a taxi without more ado and drive out on the road leading to Treaddur Bay. They instructed the man to go slowly, and watched narrowly so as not to miss the path. They came to it not long after leaving the town, and Tommy stopped the car promptly, asked in a casual tone whether the path led down to the sea, and hearing it did paid off the man in handsome style.
A moment later the taxi was slowly chugging back to Holyhead. Tommy and Julius watched it out of sight, and then turned to the narrow path.
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