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datatime: 2022-11-27 03:07:34 Author:qnlMHkZf

"I'm trying to get this off," she said. "I'm having a problem with the zipper."

"Then if you want to get your money's worth, you'd better let me get on with my work." Jeff moved on to the next stanchion.

One of the carnies had been a professor of archaeology until he was thrown out of college for stealing and selling valuable relics. He and Jeff had had long talks, and the professor had imbued Jeff with an enthusiasm for archaeology. "You can read the whole future of mankind in the past," the professor would say. "Think of it, son. Thousands of years ago there were people just like you and me dreaming dreams, spinning tales, living out their lives, giving birth to our ancestors." His eyes had taken on a faraway look. "Carthage--- that's where I'd like to go on a dig. Long before Christ was born, it was a great city, the Paris of ancient Africa. The people had their games, and baths, and chariot racing. The Circus Maximus was as large as five football fields." He had noted the interest in the boy's eyes. "Do you know how Cato the Elder used to end his speeches in the Roman Senate? He'd say, 'Delenda est cartaga'; 'Carthage must be destroyed.' His wish finally came true. The Romans reduced the place to rubble and came back twenty-five years later to build a great city on its ashes. I wish I could take you there on a dig one day, my boy."

"Then if you want to get your money's worth, you'd better let me get on with my work." Jeff moved on to the next stanchion.

They made love on the deck, where the soft tropical air caressed their bodies like a blessing. Afterward, they lay on their sides, facing each other. Jeff propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at Louise. "Your daddy's not the sheriff, is he?" Jeff asked.

She gave him a slow smile. "That's right."

They were together every night after that. At first Louise's friends were amused. He's another one of Louise's playthings, they thought. But when she informed them that she intended to marry Jeff, they were frantic.

"For Christ's sake, Louise, he's a nothing. He worked in a carnival. My God, you might as well be marrying a stable hand. He's handsome--- granted. And he has a fab bod. But outside of sex, you have absolutely nothing in common, darling."

One of the carnies had been a professor of archaeology until he was thrown out of college for stealing and selling valuable relics. He and Jeff had had long talks, and the professor had imbued Jeff with an enthusiasm for archaeology. "You can read the whole future of mankind in the past," the professor would say. "Think of it, son. Thousands of years ago there were people just like you and me dreaming dreams, spinning tales, living out their lives, giving birth to our ancestors." His eyes had taken on a faraway look. "Carthage--- that's where I'd like to go on a dig. Long before Christ was born, it was a great city, the Paris of ancient Africa. The people had their games, and baths, and chariot racing. The Circus Maximus was as large as five football fields." He had noted the interest in the boy's eyes. "Do you know how Cato the Elder used to end his speeches in the Roman Senate? He'd say, 'Delenda est cartaga'; 'Carthage must be destroyed.' His wish finally came true. The Romans reduced the place to rubble and came back twenty-five years later to build a great city on its ashes. I wish I could take you there on a dig one day, my boy."

She gave him a slow smile. "That's right."

"I'm trying to get this off," she said. "I'm having a problem with the zipper."

"I don't believe it's any of your business, Miss Hollander, but the answer is no. What I am is choosy."

A year later the professor had died of alcoholism, but Jeff had promised himself that one day he would go on a dig. Carthage, first, for the professor.

She sat up in surprise. "What?"

Louise Hollander's mouth tightened. "What kind of women do you like? Whores, I suppose."

Jeff looked at the woman for a long moment before he answered. "Why not?"

"For Christ's sake, Louise, he's a nothing. He worked in a carnival. My God, you might as well be marrying a stable hand. He's handsome--- granted. And he has a fab bod. But outside of sex, you have absolutely nothing in common, darling."

"You wanted to see me, ma'am?"

Jeff walked over and examined the costume. "It doesn't have a Zipper."

On the last night before the schooner was to dock in Tahiti, Jeff was summoned to Louise Hollander's stateroom. She was wearing a sheer silk robe.

They made love on the deck, where the soft tropical air caressed their bodies like a blessing. Afterward, they lay on their sides, facing each other. Jeff propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at Louise. "Your daddy's not the sheriff, is he?" Jeff asked.

"I see. I'm working for you."

In their quarters at night, the crew members disparaged the passengers and made jokes about them. But Jeff admitted to himself that he was envious of them--- their backgrounds, their educations, and their easy manners. They had come from monied families and had attended the best schools. His school had been Uncle Willie and the carnival.

"I don't believe it's any of your business, Miss Hollander, but the answer is no. What I am is choosy."

"You wanted to see me, ma'am?"

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