And then Dampier turned and caught her, this time unresisting, yielding joyfully, to his breast. "Nancy?" he murmured thickly. "Nancy? I'm afraid!"
"Afraid?" she repeated wonderingly.
"Yes, horribly afraid! Pray, my pure angel, pray that the gods may indulge their cruel sport elsewhere. I haven't always been happy, Nancy."
And she clung to him, full of vague, unsubstantial fears. "Don't talk like that," she murmured. "It--it isn't right to make fun of such things."
"Make fun? Good God!" was all he said.
Nancy Dampier is in a happy frame of mind when she enters Paris on the last night of her honeymoon. The next day, she and her husband, the artist Jack Dampier, will move into Jack's house and begin a new chapter in their lives. Jack, an Englishman, long settled in Paris, had crossed the channel to paint a portrait. A chance meeting with Nancy led to a whirlwind romance and marriage. Both Nancy and Jack being orphans, there was no one to oppose the match; in fact, Nancy's friends were more than happy for her to have finally found herself a lover.
Man and wife, but in some ways strangers to each other still, the happy couple walks into the Hotel Saint Ange, a hotel made famous because Edgar Allan Poe stayed there during his sojourn in Paris. Unfortunately, for them, it being an exhibition year, the rooms are all full and the best that the Poulains, the owners of the hotel, can do is to give them separate rooms.
After promising his wife that he'll rise early in the morning and go and set his studio for her welcome, Jack retires to his room. The next day, Nancy wakes up with a disagreeable feeling. There is no one to attend to her and when she rings the bell to summon somebody that too is ignored. Irritable and hungry, she ventures out of the room and is startled when Mrs. Poulain, the proprietress, addresses her as mademoiselle rather than madame. When Nancy asks her (in her halting French) about her husband, the woman shocks her by saying that she knows not of any such man and that the previous night Nancy had arrived alone to the hotel.
Feeling that there has been some miscommunication (after all her knowledge of French is zilch), Nancy enlists the help of Senator Burton, an American staying at the hotel along with his son and daughter. The Senator, questions the Poulains but they are adamant that Nancy had arrived alone at the hotel without any escort. The Senator is perplexed as he has known them for a considerable time and they have always been honest and truthful He has his misgivings about Nancy's version of the event but despite this he helps her in every way as his children are convinced that Nancy is telling the truth.
From then on it is running to and fro in search for the missing man: Jack's studio, the Police stations, the British embassy, even the morgue...but everywhere they run up against a wall... and days turn into weeks, months...
Conspiracy theories mount: Jack must have been a scoundrel to leave his wife thus; Nancy is suffering from some memory-loss; Jack must have met with an accident... So what really happened? Who is telling the truth and who is not and if so to what purpose?
This book had been on my wishlist since last year and I'd have enjoyed it more had I not read Ethel Lina White's The Wheel Spins (The Lady Vanishes) in the meantime. Through that book I became acquainted with the urban legend of the man who disappeared during the World Fair in Paris and thus this book lost some of its element of suspense. However, it is to the credit of the author Belloc Lowndes (and what a find she has been!) that despite reading about Nancy and Jack checking in, I really did wonder at times.
Somehow the character of Nancy too got on my nerves. My sympathies, in fact, were with Senator Burton who often feels that this problem had become a load round his neck especially since his children seemed to be so enamoured of Nancy.
First Line: "Cocher? l'Hôtel Saint Ange, Rue Saint Ange!"
Title: The End of Her Honeymoon
Author: Marie Belloc Lowndes
First Published: 1913
Other Books read of the Same Author: The Story of Ivy
The book is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free. I downloaded it from manybooks.net.
The rest of the post contains SPOLIERS so please don't read any further unless you've read the book. But please do scroll down and leave a comment.:)
To me this book was the tragedy of Jack Dampier. How many dreams that young man had of setting up a home with Nancy. How keen he was that Nancy enjoy Paris in its beauty. How considerate he was that Nancy not be disturbed. And how lonesome his last hours must have been when he'd have felt himself abandoned by everyone in that hospital. And even if he had survived and come back he'd have found his wife in love with another man and no longer desiring him... I simply can't get him out of my head.
Submitted for the following challenges: British Books, Death by Gaslight, E Book, Mystery and Suspense, Vintage Mystery, and Wishlist.
Entry for Friday's Forgotten Books