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to sally into a new pose.
"What's the idea of all this 'distracted' stuff, Amory?" asked Alec one
day, and then as Amory pretended to be cramped over his book in a daze:
"Oh, don't try to act Burne, the mystic, to me."
Amory looked up innocently.
"What?" mimicked Alec. "Are you trying to read yourself into a rhapsody
with--let's see the book."
He snatched it; regarded it derisively.
"Well?" said Amory a little stiffly.
"'The Life of St. Teresa,'" read Alec aloud. "Oh, my gosh!"
"Does it bother you?"
"Does what bother me?"
"My acting dazed and all that?"
"Why, no--of course it doesn't _bother_ me."
"Well, then, don't spoil it. If I enjoy going around telling people
guilelessly that I think I'm a genius, let me do it."
"You're getting a reputation for being eccentric," said Alec, laughing,
"if that's what you mean."
Amory finally prevailed, and Alec agreed to accept his face value in the
presence of others if he was allowed rest periods when they were alone;
so Amory "ran it out" at a great rate, bringing the most eccentric
characters to dinner, wild-eyed grad students, preceptors with strange
theories of God and government, to the cynical amazement of the
supercilious Cottage Club.
As February became slashed by sun and moved cheerfully into March,
Amory went several times to spend week-ends with Monsignor; once he
took Burne, with great success, for he took equal pride and delight in
displaying them to each other. Monsignor took him several times to see
Thornton Hancock, and once or twice to the house of a Mrs. Lawrence, a
type of Rome-haunting American whom Amory liked immediately.
Then one day came a letter from Monsignor, which appended an interesting
"Do you know," it ran, "that your third cousin, Clara Page,
widowed six months and very poor, is living in Philadelphia?
I don't think you've ever met her, but I wish, as a favor to me,
you'd go to see her. To my mind, she's rather a remarkable woman,
and just about your age."
Amory sighed and decided to go, as a favor....
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