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did. If we can do the next thing, and have an hour a day to think in,
we can accomplish marvels, but as far as any high-handed scheme of blind
dominance is concerned--we'd just make asses of ourselves."
"But, Monsignor, I can't do the next thing."
"Amory, between you and me, I have only just learned to do it myself. I
can do the one hundred things beyond the next thing, but I stub my toe
on that, just as you stubbed your toe on mathematics this fall."
"Why do we have to do the next thing? It never seems the sort of thing I
"We have to do it because we're not personalities, but personages."
"That's a good line--what do you mean?"
"A personality is what you thought you were, what this Kerry and Sloane
you tell me of evidently are. Personality is a physical matter almost
entirely; it lowers the people it acts on--I've seen it vanish in a
long sickness. But while a personality is active, it overrides 'the next
thing.' Now a personage, on the other hand, gathers. He is never thought
of apart from what he's done. He's a bar on which a thousand things have
been hung--glittering things sometimes, as ours are; but he uses those
things with a cold mentality back of them."
"And several of my most glittering possessions had fallen off when I
needed them." Amory continued the simile eagerly.
"Yes, that's it; when you feel that your garnered prestige and talents
and all that are hung out, you need never bother about anybody; you can
cope with them without difficulty."
"But, on the other hand, if I haven't my possessions, I'm helpless!"
"That's certainly an idea."
"Now you've a clean start--a start Kerry or Sloane can constitutionally
never have. You brushed three or four ornaments down, and, in a fit of
pique, knocked off the rest of them. The thing now is to collect some
new ones, and the farther you look ahead in the collecting the better.
But remember, do the next thing!"
"How clear you can make things!"
So they talked, often about themselves, sometimes of philosophy and
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