I asked the
clerk, who was sitting across from me, if he had seen the man with the
deerstalker. "Oh, him," he replied. He groped for the name.
"Trench-Jones. He's been here every Christmas I can remember. Strange sort
of bod. Rarely comes to table. Sometimes the boys tell me his bed hasn't been
slept in. They seem to think he spends the night in the forest. They say he is
favors the morels," said the Frenchman.
clerk answered mulishly. "He takes a pack lunch."
A rather tepid
English couple sat kitty-corner to the clerk. The place card read
"Galsworthy." They ate like marionettes, matching each other mouthful
by mouthful. I recalled they were among the croquet players we had seen when we
arrived. Occasionally Mrs. Galsworthy broke the rhythm to turn and pass a
morsel of pig to a large Alsatian bitch. I asked if the animal belonged to the
her," said Galsworthy. "You're looking at 50 quid of dog there. More, I
expect, if you count the six-month quarantine when we shipped her here." He
claimed he never let her out of his sight. He was terrified of interbreeding
with the village pye-dogs. "They gang rape, you know," he said.
"I've seen them."
Everyone put on
party hats for dessert, a sherbet served with a cannonball of a plum pudding
flamed with brandy. With his magician's hat, Dowle looked like a beardless
Merlin. Suddenly, the Frenchman said, "I believe your American politicians
are ponces and poseurs."
The comment was
so startling, so out of place, that those within earshot stopped eating. But it
was not an insult. It was simply a Frenchman's way of announcing he wishes to
change the subject to politics. Besides, he was right.
�go�stes and in constant need of massaging," he added. "They are
incompetent and order wars that we must die in. They spend your money and touch
your flesh. They are d�go�tant, you understand. And in my language that is
worse than in yours."
Down the table
someone lifted a horn and blew a Bronx cheer.
I asked him about
DeGaulle, who was said to be restoring the honor of France.