“The gentleman has expressed a wish to go to Montreux.”
“What is luge-ing?” I asked.
“You see he has never even heard of luge-ing!”
That meant a great deal to the second official. He was pleased by that.
“Luge-ing,” said the first official, “is tobogganing.”
“I beg to differ,” the other official shook his head. “I must differ again. The toboggan is very different from the luge. The toboggan is constructed in Canada of flat laths. The luge is a common sled with runners. Accuracy means something.”
“Couldn’t we toboggan?” I asked.
“Of course you could toboggan,” the first official said. “You could toboggan very well. Excellent Canadian toboggans are sold in Montreux. Ochs Brothers sell toboggans. They import their own toboggans.”
The second official turned away. “Tobogganing,” he said, “requires a special piste. You could not toboggan into the streets of Montreux. Where are you stopping here?”
“We don’t know,” I said. “We just drove in from Brissago. The carriage is outside.”
“You make no mistake in going to Montreux,” the first official said. “You will find the climate delightful and beautiful. You will have no distance to go for winter sport.”
“If you really want winter sport,” the second official said, “you will go to the Engadine or to Mürren. I must protest against your being advised to go to Montreux for the winter sport.”
“At Les Avants above Montreux there is excellent winter sport of every sort.” The champion of Montreux glared at his colleague.
“Gentlemen,” I said, “I am afraid we must go. My cousin is very tired. We will go tentatively to Montreux.”
“I congratulate you,” the first official shook my hand.
“I believe that you will regret leaving Locarno,” the second official said. “At any rate you will report to the police at Montreux.”
“There will be no unpleasantness with the police,” the first official assured me. “You will find all the inhabitants extremely courteous and friendly.”
“Thank you both very much,” I said. “We appreciate your advice very much.”
“Good-by,” Catherine said. “Thank you both very much.”
They bowed us to the dooi the champion of Locarno a little coldly. We went down the steps and into the carriage.
“My God, darling,” Catherine said. “Couldn’t we have gotten away any sooner?” I gave the name of a hotel one of the officials had recommended to the driver. He picked up the reins.
“You’ve forgotten the army,” Catherine said. The soldier was standing by the carriage. I gave him a ten-lira note. “I have no Swiss money yet,” I said. He thanked me, saluted and went off. The carriage started and we drove to the hotel.
“How did you happen to pick out Montreux?” I asked Catherine. “Do you really want to go there?”
“It was the first place I could think of,” she said. “It’s not a bad place. We can find some place up in the mountains.”
“Are you sleepy?”
“I’m asleep right now.”
“We’ll get a good sleep. Poor Cat, you had a long bad night.”
“I had a lovely time,” Catherine said. “Especially when you sailed with the umbrella.”
“Can you realize we’re in Switzerland?”
“No, I’m afraid I’ll wake up and it won’t be true.”
“I am too.”
“It is true, isn’t it, darling? I’m not just driving down to the stazione in Milan to see you off.”
“I hope not.”
“Don’t say that. It frightens me. Maybe that’s where we’re going.”
“I’m so groggy I don’t know,” I said.
“Let me see your hands.”
I put them out. They were both blistered raw.
“There’s no hole in my side,” I said.
“Don’t be sacrilegious.”
I felt very tired and vague in the head. The exhilaration was all gone. The carriage was going along the Street.
“Poor hands,” Catherine said.
“Don’t touch them,” I said. “By God I don’t know where we are. Where are we going, driver?” The driver stopped his horse.
“To the Hotel Metropole. Don’t you want to go there?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s all right, Cat.”
“It’s all right, darling. Don’t be upset. We’ll get a good sleep and you won’t feel groggy to-morrow.”
“I get pretty groggy,” I said. “It’s like a comic opera to-day. Maybe I’m hungry.”