life was as satisfactory as the sky was blue, the young marquis of whitethane thought absently as he sipped his coffee on the small terrace outside jacques' cafe. and the sky above was very blue.
the marquis - actually the son of a duke, with the courtesy title of marquis - was the very portrait and embodiment of an englishman. nothing could disturb his tranquility when he did not wish it disturbed. and he almost never wished it disturbed. of a naturally indolent, though easy disposition, he enjoyed, and sought, the company of those who liked to talk, and who would spare him the burden of speaking much himself.
he also enjoyed the company of those who could tell a story, and never concerned himself as to whether the stories were "true" or not. to exercise your mind to decide whether a story was "true" - what a bother! and how was one to decide in any case?
toquette's assertion to the policeman that she was from "the sovereign kingdom of asmodea", of which the young man had never heard - although he considered himself a dab hand at world traveling - had piqued his curiosity to the extent of offering her his worthy company, which is how it came about that they were now sitting across from each other outside the cafe, sipping jacques' excellent coffee.
"so, mademoiselle, do you have skies as blue as this in the sovereign kingdom of asmodea?"
"but, monsieur, i am no longer in the sovereign kingdom of asmodea. i am sitting here with you on a sidewalk in paris."
"to be sure." the young man smiled with his impenetrable imperturbability. he had already noted this quality of literal-mindedness in his companion, on their walk over from the street where he had encountered her, in front of m. hobart's establishment .
"when i was in asmodea the sun never shone for more than a few hours a day and it rained all the time, " toquette continued. "it has probably not changed all that much since i left."
"it must be mountain country."
"very much so. there is always an excellent view of the sky and clouds."
"and did mademoiselle leave the kingdom to get a better view of the sun?"
"monsieur is pleased to be droll. i left because the kingdom of asmodea, after thousands of years of existence, finally succumbed to the implacable forces of the new mechanized society which is engulfing the earth (400), and threatens to overwhelm heaven and hell themselves."