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The Exile of Capri by Roger Peyrefitte

Author:Roger Peyrefitte [Peyrefitte, Roger]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Published: 1959-05-22T01:34:20+00:00

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The Exile of Capri by Roger Peyrefitte

Chapter Thirteen

SOME weeks before his sister’s wedding he embarked for China. Having taken his mother literally at her word, he thought it amusing to go to the other end of the world to avoid spoiling a honeymoon within sight of his villa.

He repeated the stages of his Eastern journey: Suez, Aden, Colombo, where the “boys” at the Grand Oriental Hôtel had different faces but the same age. Whenever they spent a night ashore, Nino made sure that the hotel label had been gummed to their luggage. At Singapore the Raffles Hôtel label bore the arms of England’s kings with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense—without prejudice to the “boys”. At Haiphong it was the Grand Hôtel du Commerce label, depicting an arcaded façade; at Hanoi the Hôtel Metropole; at Hong Kong, the enormous Hong-Kong Hôtel whose telegraphic address was, inexplicably, “Kremlin”. At Tien-Tsin, finally, they stayed at the Astor House Ltd., almost as huge as the Hong-Kong Hôtel, with its three floors all with wooden galleries and its great square tower.

 

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The Exile of Capri by Roger Peyrefitte

Author:Roger Peyrefitte [Peyrefitte, Roger] , Date: July 11, 2019

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Author:Roger Peyrefitte [Peyrefitte, Roger]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Published: 1959-05-22T01:34:20+00:00
Chapter Thirteen

SOME weeks before his sister’s wedding he embarked for China. Having taken his mother literally at her word, he thought it amusing to go to the other end of the world to avoid spoiling a honeymoon within sight of his villa.

He repeated the stages of his Eastern journey: Suez, Aden, Colombo, where the “boys” at the Grand Oriental Hôtel had different faces but the same age. Whenever they spent a night ashore, Nino made sure that the hotel label had been gummed to their luggage. At Singapore the Raffles Hôtel label bore the arms of England’s kings with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense—without prejudice to the “boys”. At Haiphong it was the Grand Hôtel du Commerce label, depicting an arcaded façade; at Hanoi the Hôtel Metropole; at Hong Kong, the enormous Hong-Kong Hôtel whose telegraphic address was, inexplicably, “Kremlin”. At Tien-Tsin, finally, they stayed at the Astor House Ltd., almost as huge as the Hong-Kong Hôtel, with its three floors all with wooden galleries and its great square tower.

In this city a curio-dealer offered Jacques a collection of opium pipes which had belonged to an emperor of China and was said to be the finest in the world. Three hundred pipes, some of which were of gold, others of silver, ivory, rock crystal or hard stone. Jacques was all the more tempted in that Nino had acquired a taste for the “Immense” and “Subtil” during their journey. The price being considerable, he applied to the French Consul for an expert adviser.

This was only his second call on the French authorities since his exile: he had made himself known at the consulate in Naples and received a cold handshake from the consul, Millon de Peillon. The principal of the French Consulate in Tien-Tsin was one Paul Claudel, and Jacques expected a warmer welcome: this consul was a poet, essayist and playwright, highly praised by Le Mercure de France. Among his diverse visiting cards Jacques had chosen “Baron d’Adelsward-Fersen” and he had left Nino at the hotel.

The man who received him was red-faced and wore a heavy moustache, and displayed an eager respect which made Jacques suspect that the rumour of certain “rose-pink masses” had never reached China. He explained the object of his visit and made a note of the required information. Claudel seemed full of naïve wonder on learning that his visitor, himself a poet, was one of his readers. He offered Jacques tea, which was served by a “boy” of canonical age.

“We must have friends in common,” he said, “for your name is not unfamiliar. Would you remind me of the titles of your published works?”

Jacques recited them carelessly, and noted that they did not sound like the mysteries of the rosary.

“Why, my dear sir, you are a pagan!” Claudel exclaimed. Upon hearing the words Le Danseur aux caresses he had put his tea-cup down so sharply that he broke the saucer.

“A Protestant to begin with, Monsieur le Consul.”

“Then, sir, you stand in need of two conversions, whereas I had to undergo but one.

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