Chapter Twenty

LONDON IN SPRINGTIME: could anything be more fascinating, more enchanting for two people who had never before been there in that delicious season? Against the azure sky the outline of the city -- shops, houses, churches, towers, and temples alike, crowned majestically by the dome of St. Paul's -- stood clear and glittering in the balmy air. The Thames, sparkling in the sunshine, glided beneath its graceful bridges. In Kensington Gardens, where well-dressed children trotted beside proud, bestreamered nannies, the lilacs and pink chestnuts were blooming around the statue of Peter Pan. On the Serpentine, pleasure boats splashed and circled. Throughout the West End, in Piccadilly, Bond Street, and Mayfair, overstuffed with the loot of cities, with gold and silver, jewels and precious ornaments, with silks and costly stuffs, exotic fruits and flowers, the fashionable throng paraded elegantly. The windows of the most exclusive clubs, fronting St. James's were filled with loungers, ogling the pretty women, toying with the finest coronas, betting thousands of pounds on Goodwood, Ascot, and the turn of a card -- egad! The King, God bless him, was in residence; they were changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, changing money in the Bank of England, changing their winter underwear for fabric of a finer weave. Soon, in the warm dusk, open landaulettes would purr softly toward the smart restaurants, bearing to the ballet, to the opera, to all the theatres, dark handsome gentlemen in evening dress, with lustrous ladies in low-cut gowns. And we, yes, we were part of all this gorgeous, this glittering parade. . . . Was it not truly wonderful!

-183-

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