No shabby tigers

"Peter!"

"My dear?"

"I was just wondering whether I should recognize your voice—your face seems to have got rather remote, somehow."

She saw the comer of his long mouth twitch.

"Not quite the same person?"

"No."

"Don't worry," he said, imperturbably, "it'll be all right on the night."

Too much experience to be surprised, and too much honesty to pretend not to understand. She remembered what had happened four days earlier. He had brought her home after the theater, and they were standing before the fire, when she had said something—quite casually, laughing at him. He had turned and said, suddenly and huskily:

"Tu m'enivres!"

Language and voice together had been like a lightning flash, showing up past and future in a single crack of fire that hurt your eyes and was followed by a darkness like thick, black velvet . . . . When his lips had reluctantly freed themselves, he had said:

"I'm sorry. I didn' mean to wake the whole zoo. But I'm glad, my God! to know it's there—and no shabby tigers either."

"Did you think mine would be a shabby tiger?"

"I thought it might, perhaps, be a little daunted."

"Well, it isn'. It seems to be an entirely new tiger. I never had one before—only kindness to animals."

"My lady gave me a tiger, A sleek and splendid tiger, A striped and shining tiger, All under the leaves of life."

Nobody else, thought Harriet, had apparently suspected the tiger—except of course, old Paul Delagardie, whose ironic eyes saw everything.

Peter's final comment had been:

"I have now completely given myself away. No English vocabulary. No other Englishwoman. And that is the most I can say for myself."

— Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman's Honeymoon