After their honeymoon at Talboys, they finished their honeymoon in Spain after all.
Spain was beautiful, although Harriet thought sometimes that she was not entirely sure she could rely on her own impressions on the matter; surely utter happiness must affect one's view of the surrounding world just as surely as abject depression would. Perhaps Spain was only mildly pleasant, and the shimmering perfection with which she was tempted to endow it should more properly be assigned to the long form and soft smile of her new husband, sleeping peacefully by her side.
They had come away from England without any fuss of their own, although all the papers had been full of the Crutchley case. With enough money, anything can be arranged, Harriet was finding. Enough money, and a Bunter. She had been married not even a month, and already she had become nearly as fond of Bunter as she was of his master. He was never obsequious, never ingratiating, and yet they seemed to understand each other perfectly.
“Oranges again,” Peter said.
Harriet sat back in her chair on the terrace, enjoying the feeling of the breeze in her hair. “There seems to be something about oranges in Spain that makes them taste better than anywhere else in the world. We could do worse than become devoted to them.”
“Perhaps it's the context, not the oranges themselves.”
Harriet could think of only one context that applied. She raised an eyebrow at him.
“But Peter – Bunter will be here with the breakfast things.”
“Bunter is the most intelligent man I know. He'll go away again. And if a man can't kiss his bride in bed before breakfast, the world is truly entering its twilight years.”
“Peter, that isn't kissing – oh!”
Peter did not blush. Peter never blushed. The laughter in his eyes was reward enough, however. “I meant the sea breeze, m'dear. Bracing, isn't it, Bunter?”
“I have found a walk on the beach at dawn to be a satisfactory constitutional, my lord.”
“There,” Peter said. “Bunter agrees with me. The oranges are particularly splendid because of the sea air.”
Harriet nodded gravely. “That must be it.”
“I say,” Peter remarked thoughtfully, from his position down at her thighs, “have you noticed Bunter behaving oddly?”
Harriet held her place in her book with a finger while she considered the question. She had never realised how pleasant it could be to curl up in bed with one's husband and spend a reading hour in quiet harmony. A harmony her husband had just dared to break – but perhaps marriage was about making allowances. “Oddly?” she repeated. “No. But you know him better than I do.”
“Dashed uncommon for him to go on morning constitutionals. In Bloomsbury, yes. But in a foreign country, with newlyweds apt to take sudden whims at any moment?”
“You can hardly expect him to anticipate our every whim, Peter. Certainly if yours include dawn constitutionals of your own sort.”
“There was a reason we found a hotel with thick walls,” Peter said, complacently, and closed his own book in favor of kneeling up on the bed and kissing her. He hadn't yet shaken off all of the wonder of it; his kisses in passing still had that frisson of intensity that stirred Harriet's blood and reminded her that this, however interrupted by the murder at Talboys, was still technically their honeymoon.
“Thick walls or not,” she said, when they broke apart, “I imagine Bunter is glad to escape us for the seashore.”
The next time they came to Spain, Harriet asked for an orange at dinner.
“It's not as good as I remembered,” she said, disappointed.
“Consider the context.”
She smiled at him. Some people said pregnancy sapped the passion in a marriage, but she had not found that to be the case thus far. “We're inside away from the sea breezes?”
“Yes, but it's also a different year. The oranges may simply be inferior to the ones you remember. Or perhaps it is their inclusion at breakfast that makes them so irresistible.”
“And their juxtaposition to auroral activities?”
Bunter, when consulted later that night, allowed that the quality of the orange crop might vary upon any number of distinct variables. “I will investigate the matter, my lady,” he assured Harriet, before leaving them to enjoy their evening.
“Does this hotel have as walls as thick as the ones on our honeymoon?” Harriet asked.
Peter, on his knees on the hearthrug, kissed the swell of her body that was their child. “Darling,” he said, looking up at her through that well-loved fringe, “I don't give a damn.”
The oranges at breakfast were as superb as ever.
“An unsolved mystery,” Peter said. “Have you located any clues on your morning constitutional, Bunter?”
“I am glad the oranges give satisfaction, my lady.”
Harriet, watching Bunter's face, smiled. Peter, watching Harriet's face, exclaimed, “And lo! The curse is come upon me, cried the Lady of Shalott. What have you discovered, Watson?”
“I think,” Harriet said, “that Bunter knows more about the oranges than he's telling us.”
Peter turned in his chair, all attention. “Bunter?”
Bunter did not do anything as undignified as clear his throat, but he drew himself up slightly. “It is quite simple, my lord. I have a connection in the marketplace. I am not convinced that he pays the full taxes on his fruit, but he has undoubted talent for their cultivation, and the oranges the hotel provides are of inferior quality.”
“You go for your morning constitutional to procure illicit oranges?” Peter asked, delighted.
“Thank you, Bunter,” Harriet said, smiling at him and taking a second orange from the basket. “They are superb.”
“Peter,” Harriet said the next morning, endeavouring with difficulty to find her voice of reason, “we must go out on the terrace for breakfast. Bunter's oranges await.”
Peter's fingers did not stop their merry work. “I don't care if Bunter walked all the way to China for them. Not this morning. Not if all the fruit should vanish from the face of the earth, shall I leave my lover's bed this bright morn.”
“Incorrigible,” Harriet said, and kissed him.
Later, meeting the eyes of her husband over the breakfast table – so late it was nearly lunch, but surely time in Spain could not be counted in the same way as time in England – Harriet thought that she was quite possibly the happiest person in the world.
“Have an orange,” Peter said, and shared it with her.