Sicilian Carousel

Sicilian Carousel by Lawrence Durrell Page B

Book: Sicilian Carousel by Lawrence Durrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Durrell
parted his hair in the middle and combed down his thatch of wet ringlets with energy and science. He came up to me as I stood on the terrace with my coffee, watching Mario growling at the porters and feeling the fine morning sun on my fingers and forehead—omens of a good day to come. Miss Lobb was alreadyaboard the bus, and remarking this Beddoes said: “If you asked me why one felt compelled to like Miss Lobb I should reply that it was because she was so completely herself. She has grown on me. Or perhaps it is the heat.” It was not the heat, for Miss Lobb had grown on us all. Gradually the outlines of her splendid personality had flowered in the Sicilian summer, her robust but handsome figure had emerged now clad in those rather expensive summer prints from Liberty’s or Horrocks with becoming style. There was a touch of cretonne-covered sofa about her which was somehow suitable to her general style of mind. She introduced herself with simplicity as Miss Lobb but always added the phrase “Of London” as if it were a lucky charm. She was indeed the spirit of London—the “best-foot-forward” of that rainy but warm-hearted town.
    Miss Lobb was a barmaid and she worked in the Strand in what she described as a “good house”; once again adding an explanatory phrase in the words “a tied house,” whatever that was. Her warmth and good humor were infectious, and she talked English loudly but with grace to everyone, even when she fully realized that they did not understand what she was saying. “I think what I like about her,” said Beddoes, “is her way of saying ‘OOPS!’ when she trips over a bush, and then flicking up her skirts in a skittish manner.” Yes, but that was not all. She also had a way of crying “Righty ho!” which brought all hands running on deck to reef sail. Beddoes watched her fondly as she sat;reading a novel by Marie Corelli which she had stolen from the last hotel. Perhaps it was the association with bars? Though Miss Lobb did not herself drink, or so she said. Yet her frame was broad and buxom and her face large and red with a strongly arched nose and large sound white teeth. Later she was to explain to Deeds that even if one did not drink the mere fact of working near the stuff made one breathe it in through the pores—the reason why barmaids were always on the stout side. I forgot what he answered to this; but he too like the rest of us was a willing captive of her charms. And when she began a sentence with the phrase “Lord love yer now” he winced with pleasure; it was the very soul of London speaking. “I think I am deeply in love with little Lobbie; in love for the first time in my life,” said Beddoes and I gazed at him anxiously, wondering if perhaps he had been drinking before breakfast. Little Lobbie!
    Such was the prevailing good humor—and I am disposed to attribute this to Syracuse itself, for the whole place radiated good humor and mildness—that even the Bishop unbent and became almost expansive; he strolled over to us and asked Beddoes what he did for a living. “At the moment I am on the run from the police,” said Beddoes unexpectedly, and after a moment’s pained surprise we all laughed heartily at the supposed witticism. “I got flung out of Dunge-ness Junior for setting an exam paper which they said was far above the heads of the children.” The Bishoplooked perplexed and concerned. “But there were other reasons too,” said Beddoes and gave his yellow smile. “For instance, my paper said ‘Enumerate all the uses of adversity and explain why the hell they are sweet.’” The Bishop’s wife beckoned him, and he left us with obvious relief. It was time to crawl aboard the little bus. Today there was no problem with our gear as we were staying in Syracuse for a couple of nights or so. There was simply the organization of the

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