Sir Roger Bloxam at Cambridge, Amsterdam, and Birmingham. An Adventure of Porphyria Poppoea. This Time We Mean Business.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Sir Roger Bloxam at Cambridge, Amsterdam, and Birmingham. An Adventure of Porphyria Poppoea. This Time We Mean Business.

(CHAPTER CCCXXXIII. How Sir Roger Bloxam put to shame the vulgarity of a famous Wit. It was on the good ship Campania that the darling of our dreams returned from Jew York. See him upon the poop (yes, poop! poop! poop!) his eyes flooded with tears of joy as the city fell away on the horizon. In this most religious exercise he was joined by the world-famous wit Aleister Crowley. They sobbed with gladness in each others' arms. A Yank approached them. “Waal, boys, what do you think of God's country?” Crowley looked at him with a tinge of sadness in his glance, and smiled softly “Pox et preterea nihil.” But Sir Roger liked it not; his mother had taught him to avoid the obvious. He made a darling little mone at the Nooyarker. “Oh, sir, your national motto nearly serves us; why not Et pluribus prunum?”)

I would I were Philomena for this one hour, to wound my breast upon this thorn, or Hyacinth to stain this one flowerpage from my heart's heart. Pray, think not so ill of my Porphyria Poppoea; for in all her loves she had one love, and that for all her life. He was a man with golden hair so fine and pale, yet, glowing, that one thought of Sun-rays incarnate in gossamer; and his face was like the harvest moon. He came up to his University every year; and there he met Sir Roger Bloxam at a club called the Knights of the Round Table. I must not tell his name: besides, would it sound sweet in your ears also? When he divined the presence of Porphyria Poppoea, he fell instant in love with her, and dared not speak, because he feared to offend Sir Roger Bloxam! 'Twas in a week of revelry, and this man played and danced for a dramatic club. Will God not give me a name for him? Some name of angel strength and sweetness? Surely Porphyria yearned for him as Phoedra for Hippolytus — let that, then, serve! Well, the week parted and we did not see Sir Roger again. But when he left, he left a book, the Legendes des Sexes of Edouard d'Haraucourt, the Sieur de Chamblay, and in it he wrote five words. These words mean nothing: a chess-player might have used them in the beginning to enumerate his pieces; but when Sir Roger Bloxam read them, Porphyria Poppoea divined that Hippolytus loved her. She was a nymph of excellent modesty, and impudence unmatched — o paradox sublime of God's invention! She lusted nobly for all love, and gave herself utterly and shamelessly; yet, despite herself, she acted in true Panic fear at the approach of her god. Thus, urgently desiring Sir Roger to take her to the Lake where Hippolytus had his palace, she forced the good knight to fly with her to Amsterdam; thence only she dictated letters so fiercely burning that her whole soul was lost in them. Safe, she became bold. Yet, by his letters, mocking and provoking, yet eager as hers, he drew her to him. Oh but she must turn to him, heliotrope! Thus she came back to England. And Sir Roger must perforce meet Hippolytus at the Queen's Hotel in Birmingham. “What a place for a romance! You jest!” Oh love knows not of time and space — Always the time and place and the loved one all together! Sir Roger registered in the hotel book; at that moment Hippolytus walked in.

“Hullo, monkey tricks!” cried he; and Porphyria Poppoea's soul went into shuddering blackness; for in his manner was no hint of all he had written. She was not loved! And after dinner he sat talking in his room with Sir Roger — endlessly! Ot was the last day of the Old Year — the last hour — Heaven and Hell in her heart. Sir Roger went to bed early, thank the Gods. And she — she could not sleep. But ere the midnight car of Helios crossed the nadir Hippolytus had come into the room where she was, and possessed her.

Of all her happiness I am quite unable to write; but pray you, weep with me, for now cometh an end. Alas! Alas! I will not speak of their joy by English lakes, of their passionate delight among the fells, of the terms they spent in Cambridge; for 'tis one monotone of honied music. But may Sir Roger Bloxam be forgiven that he slew this loveliness! When he came of age, he wished to be rid of guardian and of handmaid; he thought them tyrants — and then Porphyria Poppoea — eternally chaste even in her wildest wantonness, resigned her lover. She made Sir Roger carry her to Switzerland. Yet in the Gare de Lyon she bade him write “Did I say 'Always'?” thinking that Hippolytus would understand that she still loved him, and — may be — follow her. Did he ever get the letter? Did he interpret it amiss? False friends had crept into their intimacy — and also fear. I do not know how it was; but Porphyria Poppoea never renewed those hours — that love — that infinite passion of Hippolytus. Sir Roger Bloxam learned later that he, musing deeply as was his wont when walking, had passed Hippolytus in Bond Street, and that Hippolytus through that he had cut him purposely. Also, Porphyria Poppoea, fearful of a repulse, never followed up on her letter from the Gare de Lyon. Seven times the Father of all Light whirled Earth about him through the Zodiac — and she knew surely that he was her true lover for all time and all eternity. So, weeping, she caused a great monument to be set up, with an inscription in the Persian language. And now and again she sent him messages; but his great heart was broken — even as hers. Many a lover has possessed her since Hippolytus; but she has scorned them even while she abandons herself to their caresses. She loves Hippolytus. Hippolytus!

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