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An Interrupted Conversation
by [?]

“When will you look up the little Polonaise ?” I asked, as we sipped Amer Picon and stared with fresh interest at each new boot and ankle that passed. Paris in August is like another place in May.

“Why don’t you come along?” queried Sitgreaves in reply, “and we could go at once…. Oh, I know that you are in no mood for pleasure. You see the point is that I shall have to wait. Marcel will have to send for the fille. It is a bore to wait in a room with red curtains and a picture of Amour et Psyche on the walls…. What have you been doing?” He paid the consommation and started to leave without waiting for a reply, because he knew of my complaisance. I rose with him and we walked down the boulevard.

“What is there to do in Paris in August but to enjoy oneself?” I asked. “I have made friends with an apache and his gigolette. We eat bread and cheese and drink bad wine on the fortifications…. In the afternoon I walk. Sometimes I go to the Luxembourg gardens to hear the band bray sad music, or to watch the little boys play diavolo, or sail their tiny boats about the fountain pond; sometimes I walk quite silently up the Avenue Gabriel, with its triste line of trees, and dream that I am a Grand Duke; in the evening there are again the terrasses of the cafes, dinner in Montmartre at the Clou, or the Cou-Cou, a revue at La Cigale, but it is all governed, my day and my night, by what happens and by whom I meet…. Have you seen Jacques Blanche’s portrait of Nijinsky?”

“I think it is Picasso that interests me now,” Sitgreaves was saying. “He puts wood and pieces of paper into his composition; architecture, that’s what it is…. I don’t go to Blanche’s any more. It’s too delightfully perfect, the atmosphere there…. The books are by all the famous writers, and they are all dedicated to Blanche; the pictures are all of the great men of today, and they are all painted by Blanche; the music is played by the best musicians…. Do you know, I think Blanche is the one man who has made a successful profession of being an amateur–unless one excepts Robert de la Condamine…. You can scarcely call a man who does so much a dilettante. Yes, I think he is an amateur in the best sense.”

“I met the Countess of Jena there the other day,” I responded. “She had scarcely left the room before three people volunteered, sans rancune, to tell her story. She is a devout Catholic, and her husband contrived in some way to substitute a spy for the priest in the confessional. He acquired an infinite amount of information, but it didn’t do him any good. She is so witty that every one invites her everywhere in spite of her reputation, and he is left to dine alone at the Meurice. Dull men simply are not tolerated in Paris.

“It was at Blanche’s last year that I met George Moore,” I continued. “You know I have just seen him in London. He is at work on The Apostle, making a novel of it, to be called ‘The Brook Kerith.’… For a time he thought of finishing it up as a play because a novel meant a visit to Palestine and that was distasteful to him, but it finally became a novel. He went to Palestine and stayed six weeks, just long enough to find a monastery and to study the lay of the country. For he says, truly enough, that one cannot imagine landscapes; one does not know whether there is a high or low horizon. There may be a brook which all the characters must cross. It is necessary to see these things. Besides he had to find a monastery…. He told me of his thrill when he discovered an order of monks living on a narrow ledge of cliff, with 500 feet sheer rise and descent above and below it … and when he had found this his work was done and he returned to England to write the book, a reaction, for he told me that he was getting tired of being personal in literature. The book will exhibit a conflict between two types: Christ, the disappointed mystic, and Paul; Christ, who sees that there is no good to be served in saving the world by his death, and Paul, full of hope, idealism, and illusions. It is the drama of the conflict between the nature which is affected by externals and that which is not, he told me.”