"I'd like it well enough if we were."
Victor shrugged. "I should hope so!" He turned his chin in Claude's direction. "See here, if you like, I'll show you London! It's a promise. Americans never see it, you know. They sit in a Y . hut and write to their Pollyannas, or they go round hunting for the Tower. I'll show you a city that's alive; that is, unless you've a preference for museums."
His listener laughed. "No, I want to see life, as they say."
"Umph ! I'd like to set you down in some places I can think of. Very well, I invite you to dine with me at the Savoy, the first night we're in London. The curtain will rise on this world for you. Nobody admitted who isn't in evening dress. The jewels will dazzle you. Actresses, duchesses, all the handsomest women in Europe."
"But I thought London was dark and gloomy since the war."
Victor smiled and teased his small straw-coloured moustache with his thumb and middle finger. "There are a few bright spots left, thank you!" He began to explain to a novice what life at the front was really like. Nobody who had seen service talked about the war, or thought about it; it was merely a condition under which they lived. Men talked about the particular regiment they were jealous of, or the favoured division that was put in for all the show fighting. Everybody thought about his own game, his personal life that he managed to keep going in spite of discipline; his next leave, how to get champagne without paying for it, dodging the guard, getting into scrapes with women and getting out again. "Are you quick with your French?" he asked.
Claude grinned. "Not especially."
"You'd better brush up on it if you want to do anything with French girls. I hear your M.P.'s are very strict. You must be able to toss the word the minute you see a skirt, and make your date before the guard gets onto you."