"Nan," he said, taking care not to wake her, but to insert himself, rather, into her dream. "Where are we going?"
"Hellfire," she answered naturally, as if they were holding a conversation or a catechism. But her eyes remained closed and her body supine.
"Yes," he said, used to this by now. "But where in England, Nan? We were heading south until today. Now we seem to have turned west."
"They won't look for us there." He thought he saw her smile, still hunched on her side like a newborn babe. Something stirred in him and he laid his fingertips, a scouting party, on her undefended flank.
"Look for us where?" he persisted.
...the peaks and valleys of the Dark Continent. Never been to Africa, myself. Referring to Woman, old boy. No more dangerous game than the hunt for Amour. Lucky to escape with your hide, much less your heart. He found that delightful crook where the waist plunges before the sturdy rise of the hip. We'll camp here tonight.
"The Devil," she said. "The Devil has laid his paw on me. But there is a man who may be able to cure me."
"And where does he live?" the Colonel asked, leaning closer. The stolen notice crackled as he shifted his weight. His fingers burrowed fruitlessly for some seam or rift in the by-now soiled dress she wore. Even by the armorial standards of the time she was remarkably well-defended."Little Dipping," she murmured.
"Little Dipping? Is that where we are going, Nan?"
Her hands, hitherto clasped together in an attitude of prayer, now took the opportunity to push him back with surprising force, a sudden repulsion on her way to curling even tighter, into an inaccessible ball. The Colonel, rubbing his head, did not resume his assault.
"Little Dipping," he repeated.
He was not foolish enough to answer the handbill directly, betraying his whereabouts before knowing the lay of the land. Rather, he would telegraph from the next town. There was a fellow ex-officer, a chap who kept his ear to the ground. He would know, if anyone did, what lay behind this inquiry. I have a nose for the main chance, he congratulated himself, managing to create out of two cliches a garbled truth. Things were at last looking up.