Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Part 1, Chapter 29 (view annotations)

In mid-July, 1886, while Van was winning the table-tennis
tournament on board a "luxury" liner (that now took a whole
week to reach in white dignity Manhattan from Dover!), Ma-
rina, both her daughters, their governess, and two maids were
178.05 shivering in more or less simultaneous stages of Russian in-
fluentsa at various stops on their way by train from Los Angeles
to Ladore. A hydrogram from Chicago awaiting Van at his
father's house on July 21 (her dear birthday!) said: "dadaist
impatient patient arriving between twenty-fourth and seventh
178.10 call doris can meet regards vicinity."
"Which reminds me painfully of the golubyanki (petits
bleus) Aqua used to send me," remarked Demon with a sigh
(having mechanically opened the message). "Is tender Vicinity
some girl I know? Because you may glare as much as you like,
178.15 but this is not a wire from doctor to doctor."
Van raised his eyes to the Boucher plafond of the breakfast
room and, shaking his head in derisive admiration, commented
on Demon's acumen. Yes, that was right. He had to travel
incontinently to Garders (anagram of 'regards,' see?) to a
178.20 hamlet the opposite way from Letham (see?) to see a mad

[ 178 ]

girl artist called Doris or Odris who drew only gee-gees and
sugar daddies.
Van rented a room under a false name (Boucher) at the
only inn of Malahar, a miserable village on Ladore River, some
179.05 twenty miles from Ardis. He spent the night fighting the
celebrated mosquito, or its cousin, that liked him more than the
Ardis beast had. The toilet on the landing was a black hole,
with the traces of a fecal explosion, between a squatter's two
giant soles. At 7 A.M. on July 25 he called Ardis Hall from
179.10 the Malahar post office and got connected with Bout who was
connected with Blanche and mistook Van's voice for the but-
"Dammit, Pa," he said into his bedside dorophone, "I'm
179.15 "I want Blanche, you idiot," growled Van.
"Oh, pardon," cried Bout, "un moment, Monsieur."
A bottle was audibly uncorked (drinking hock at seven in
the morning!) and Blanche took over, but scarcely had Van
begun to deliver a carefully worded message to be transmitted
179.20 to Ada, when Ada herself who had been on the qui vive all
night answered from the nursery, where the clearest instrument
in the house quivered and bubbled under a dead barometer.
"Forest Fork in Forty-Five minutes. Sorry to spit."
"Tower!" replied her sweet ringing voice, as an airman in
179.25 heaven blue might say "Roger."
He rented a motorcycle, a venerable machine, with a saddle
upholstered in billiard cloth and pretentious false mother-of-
pearl handlebars, and drove, bouncing on tree roots along a
narrow "forest ride." The first thing he saw was the star gleam
179.30 of her dismissed bike: she stood by it, arms akimbo, the black-
haired white angel, looking away in a daze of shyness, wearing
a terrycloth robe and bedroom slippers. As he carried her into
the nearest thicket he felt the fever of her body, but only
realized how ill she was when after two passionate spasms she

[ 179 ]

got up full of tiny brown ants and tottered, and almost col-
lapsed, muttering about gipsies stealing their jeeps.
It was a beastly, but beautiful, tryst. He could not remem-
180.05 (That's right, I can't either. Ada.)
—one word they said, one question, one answer; he rushed
her back as close to the house as he dared (having kicked her
bike into the bracken)—and that evening when he rang up
Blanche, she dramatically whispered that Mademoiselle had
180.10 une belle pneumonie, mon pauvre Monsieur.
Ada was much better three days later, but he had to return
to Man to catch the same boat back to England—and join a
circus tour which involved people he could not let down.
His father saw him off. Demon had dyed his hair a blacker
180.15 black. He wore a diamond ring blazing like a Caucasian ridge.
His long, black, blue-ocellated wings trailed and quivered in
the ocean breeze. Lyudi oglyadïvalis' (people turned to look).
A temporary Tamara, all kohl, kasbek rouge, and flamingo-boa,
could not decide what would please her daemon lover more—
180.20 just moaning and ignoring his handsome son or acknowledging
bluebeard's virility as reflected in morose Van, who could not
stand her Caucasian perfume, Granial Maza, seven dollars a
(You know, that's my favorite chapter up to now, Van, I
180.25 don't know why, but I love it. And you can keep your Blanche
in her young man's embrace, even that does not matter. In
Ada's fondest hand.)

[ 180 ]

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