Spice of Life
She pretended to gaze at the paprika fields ripening to a red no match for her hair--or lips for that matter (it was occurring now to Kit). . .
Instead of shopping Dally to a seraglio in the newly prudish, and renamed, Istanbul, Clive Crouchmas decides to sell her into white slavery in Hungary instead, and commissions two dopes from light opera central casting, Imi and Ernö, yet another of the novel's comic pairs, to kidnap her.
Under the mistaken impression that they are grabbing a redhead for the famous arms dealer Basil Zaharoff, the two accost Dally in her rail compartment while the train is stopped at Szeged. Directly across the platform, on a train headed in the opposite direction--that is, towards Europe--Kit Traverse looks out the window and sees a presentable redhead in some kind of trouble. He intervenes.
Our lovers meet again, cute as ever, and after easily outfoxing the dolts, whom they leave on the moving train, they take off running through a handy paprika field, where in short order they commence to fucking.
Kit, we learn, has drifted back from the Steppes in short hops, eventually tending bar in the Pera district of Istanbul, a colorful spot where he meets again the affable arms dealer Viktor Mulciber, last seen in Göttingen looking for the Q weapon way back on pages 557-8 (hat tip to the Chumps' own search engine!) Mulciber clues Kit into a startup Italian aircraft company, sez Kit can name his price there, and that Mulciber gets a finder's fee.
It so happens that soon after the meeting, Kit gets on the wrong side of the C.U.P., a political party with a goon squad. His boss, Jusuf, gives him a ticket out and some cash while begging for the recipe of a drink that's been wowing the clientele.
Back in Szeged, Dally and Kit prepare their escape to Italy. Before leaving they get an all-clear from Pityu, a psychic waiter, and are tipped by Miklos, the hotel desk clerk, not to miss the great Bela Blasko, in town performing in the inevitably named Pynchon operetta, The Burgher King, which details in song the merry hijinks of a disguised monarch, mixing with the middle-class Heidi, Mitzi, Schleppingdorff, and Ditters. (German song translation, anyone?)
After the show, Dally confides to Kit her rather colorful recent past, an act of trust immediately followed by more fucking.
The themes and tropes at large in this episode should now be old hat to readers, travel along and across parallel lines, beautiful scenery, the perpetual planning of the Powers That Be.
Kit has been drifting out of sight of the readers for two years, and shows no outward signs, good or bad, of his quasi-mystical Asian journey. Dally has grown up almost, if episodically, in front of our eyes--no small feat for an author--and the frank look at her sexual life here and in the previous episode leave this reader with a certain feeling of something, if only innocence, lost. Or maybe she's finally absorbed the lessons she first saw in that Telluride whorehouse.
Those with a lot of time on their hands may have a go at assigning Tarot cards to characters. We certainly know enough about them by now, and our author just led things off regarding The Star and Dally. I here nominate Kit as King, or maybe Knave, of Cups (Reef, Coins, and Frank, Swords.) He was a bartender, and it was the C.U.P., after all, which finally sends him back to Dally.