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Chapter 8

        I did not see Brett again until she came back from San Sebastian. One card came from her from there. It had a picture of the Concha, and said: "Darling. Very quiet and healthy. Love to all the chaps.  BRETT."

       Nor did I see Robert Cohn again. I heard Frances had left for England and I had a note from Cohn saying he was going out in the country for a couple of weeks, he did not know where, but that he wanted to hold me to the fishing-trip in Spain we had talked about last winter. I could reach him always, he wrote, through his bankers.

       Brett was gone, I was not bothered by Cohn's troubles, I rather enjoyed not having to play tennis, there was plenty of work to do, I went often to the races, dined with friends, and put in some extra time at the office getting things ahead so I could leave it in charge of my secretary when Bill Gorton and I should shove off to Spain the end of June. Bill Gorton arrived, put up a couple of days at the flat and went off to Vienna. He was very cheerful and said the States were wonderful. New York was wonderful. There had been a grand theatrical season and a whole crop of great young light heavyweights. Any one of them was a good prospect to grow up, put on weight and trim Dempsey. Bill was very happy. He had made a lot of money on his last book, and was going to make a lot more. We had a good time while he was in Paris, and then he went off to Vienna. He was coming back in three weeks and we would leave for Spain to get in some fishing and go to the fiesta at Pamplona. He wrote that Vienna was wonderful. Then a card from Budapest: "Jake, Budapest is wonderful." Then I got a wire: "Back on Monday."

       Monday evening he turned up at the flat. I heard his taxi stop and went to the window and called to him; he waved and started up-stairs carrying his bags. I met him on the stairs, and took one of the bags.

       "Well," I said, "I hear you had a wonderful trip."

       "Wonderful," he said. "Budapest is absolutely wonderful."

       "How about Vienna?"

       "Not so good, Jake. Not so good. It seemed better than it was."

       "How do you mean?" I was getting glasses and a siphon.

       "Tight, Jake. I was tight."

       "That's strange. Better have a drink."

       Bill rubbed his forehead. "Remarkable thing," he said. "Don't know how it happened. Suddenly it happened."

       "Last long?"

       "Four days, Jake. Lasted just four days."

       "Where did you go?"

       "Don't remember. Wrote you a post-card. Remember that perfectly."

       "Do anything else?"

       "Not so sure. Possible."

       "Go on. Tell me about it."

       "Can't remember. Tell you anything I could remember."

       "Go on. Take that drink and remember."

       "Might remember a little," Bill said. "Remember something about a prize-fight. Enormous Vienna prize-fight. Had a nigger in it. Remember the nigger perfectly."

       "Go on."

       "Wonderful nigger. Looked like Tiger Flowers, only four times as big. All of a sudden everybody started to throw things. Not me. Nigger'd just knocked local boy down. Nigger put up his glove. Wanted to make a speech. Awful noble-looking nigger. Started to make a speech. Then local white boy hit him. Then he knocked white boy cold. Then everybody commenced to throw chairs. Nigger went home with us in our car. Couldn't get his clothes. Wore my coat. Remember the whole thing now. Big sporting evening."

       "What happened?"

       "Loaned the nigger some clothes and went around with him to try and get his money. Claimed nigger owed them money on account of wrecking hall. Wonder who translated? Was it me?"

       "Probably it wasn't you."

       "You're right. Wasn't me at all. Was another fellow. Think we called him the local Harvard man. Remember him now. Studying music."

       "How'd you come out?"

       "Not so good, Jake. Injustice everywhere. Promoter claimed nigger promised let local boy stay. Claimed nigger violated contract. Can't knock out Vienna boy in Vienna. 'My God, Mister Gorton,' said nigger, 'I didn't do nothing in there for forty minutes but try and let him stay. That white boy musta ruptured himself swinging at me. I never did hit him.' "

       "Did you get any money?"

       "No money, Jake. All we could get was nigger's clothes. Somebody took his watch, too. Splendid nigger. Big mistake to have come to Vienna. Not so good, Jake. Not so good."

       "What became of the nigger?"

       "Went back to Cologne. Lives there. Married. Got a family. Going to write me a letter and send me the money I loaned him. Wonderful nigger. Hope I gave him the right address."

       "You probably did."

       "Well, anyway, let's eat," said Bill. "Unless you want me to tell you some more travel stories."

       "Go on."

       "Let's eat."

       We went down-stairs and out onto the Boulevard St. Michel in the warm June evening.

       "Where will we go?"

       "Want to eat on the island?"


       We walked down the Boulevard. At the juncture of the Rue Denfert-Rochereau with the Boulevard is a statue of two men in flowing robes.

       "I know who they are." Bill eyed the monument. "Gentlemen who invented pharmacy. Don't try and fool me on Paris."

       We went on.

       "Here's a taxidermist's," Bill said. "Want to buy anything? Nice stuffed dog?"

       "Come on," I said. "You're pie-eyed."

       "Pretty nice stuffed dogs," Bill said. "Certainly brighten up your flat."

       "Come on."

       "Just one stuffed dog. I can take 'em or leave 'em alone. But listen, Jake. Just one stuffed dog."

       "Come on."

       "Mean everything in the world to you after you bought it. Simple exchange of values. You give them money. They give you a stuffed dog."

       "We'll get one on the way back."

       "All right. Have it your own way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault."

       We went on.

       "How'd you feel that way about dogs so sudden?"

       "Always felt that way about dogs. Always been a great lover of stuffed animals."

       We stopped and had a drink.

       "Certainly like to drink," Bill said. "You ought to try it some times, Jake."

       "You're about a hundred and forty-four ahead of me."

       "Ought not to daunt you. Never be daunted. Secret of my success. Never been daunted. Never been daunted in public."

       "Where were you drinking?"

       "Stopped at the Crillon. George made me a couple of Jack Roses. George's a great man. Know the secret of his success? Never been daunted."

       "You'll be daunted after about three more pernods."

       "Not in public. If I begin to feel daunted I'll go off by myself. I'm like a cat that way."

       "When did you see Harvey Stone?"

       "At the Crillon. Harvey was just a little daunted. Hadn't eaten for three days. Doesn't eat any more. Just goes off like a cat. Pretty sad."

       "He's all right."

       "Splendid. Wish he wouldn't keep going off like a cat, though. Makes me nervous."

       "What'll we do to-night?"

       "Doesn't make any difference. Only let's not get daunted. Suppose they got any hard-boiled eggs here? If they had hard-boiled eggs here we wouldn't have to go all the way down to the island to eat."

       "Nix," I said. "We're going to have a regular meal."

       "Just a suggestion," said Bill. "Want to start now?"

       "Come on."

       We started on again down the Boulevard. A horse-cab passed us. Bill looked at it.

       "See that horse-cab? Going to have that horse-cab stuffed for you for Christmas. Going to give all my friends stuffed animals. I'm a nature-writer."

       A taxi passed, some one in it waved, then banged for the driver to stop. The taxi backed up to the curb. In it was Brett.

       "Beautiful lady," said Bill. "Going to kidnap us."

       "Hullo!" Brett said. "Hullo!"

       "This is Bill Gorton. Lady Ashley."

       Brett smiled at Bill. "I say I'm just back. Haven't bathed even. Michael comes in to-night."

       "Good. Come on and eat with us, and we'll all go to meet him."

       "Must clean myself."

       "Oh, rot! Come on."

       "Must bathe. He doesn't get in till nine."

       "Come and have a drink, then, before you bathe."

       "Might do that. Now you're not talking rot."

       We got in the taxi. The driver looked around.

       "Stop at the nearest bistro," I said.

       "We might as well go to the Closerie," Brett said. "I can't drink these rotten brandies."

       "Closerie des Lilas."

       Brett turned to Bill.

       "Have you been in this pestilential city long?"

       "Just got in to-day from Budapest."

       "How was Budapest?"

       "Wonderful. Budapest was wonderful."

       "Ask him about Vienna."

       "Vienna," said Bill, "is a strange city."

       "Very much like Paris," Brett smiled at him, wrinkling the corners of her eyes............

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