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AMORY, SON OF BEATRICE
SPIRES AND GARGOYLES
THE EGOTIST CONSIDERS
NARCISSUS OFF DUTY
THE DEBUTANTE
EXPERIMENTS IN CONVALESCENCE
YOUNG IRONY
THE SUPERCILIOUS SACRIFICE
THE EGOTIST BECOMES A PERSONAGE

 

***** 

 

Suddenly he felt an overwhelming desire to let himself go to the 

devil--not to go violently as a gentleman should, but to sink safely 

and sensuously out of sight. He pictured himself in an adobe house in 

Mexico, half-reclining on a rug-covered couch, his slender, artistic 

fingers closed on a cigarette while he listened to guitars strumming 

melancholy undertones to an age-old dirge of Castile and an 

olive-skinned, carmine-lipped girl caressed his hair. Here he might live 

a strange litany, delivered from right and wrong and from the hound of 

heaven and from every God (except the exotic Mexican one who was pretty 

slack himself and rather addicted to Oriental scents)--delivered from 

success and hope and poverty into that long chute of indulgence which 

led, after all, only to the artificial lake of death. 

 

There were so many places where one might deteriorate pleasantly: Port 

Said, Shanghai, parts of Turkestan, Constantinople, the South Seas--all 

lands of sad, haunting music and many odors, where lust could be a mode 

and expression of life, where the shades of night skies and sunsets 

would seem to reflect only moods of passion: the colors of lips and 

poppies. 

 

***** 

 

STILL WEEDING 

 

Once he had been miraculously able to scent evil as a horse detects a 

broken bridge at night, but the man with the queer feet in Phoebe's 

room had diminished to the aura over Jill. His instinct perceived the 

fetidness of poverty, but no longer ferreted out the deeper evils in 

pride and sensuality. 

 

There were no more wise men; there were no more heroes; Burne Holiday 

was sunk from sight as though he had never lived; Monsignor was dead. 

Amory had grown up to a thousand books, a thousand lies; he had listened 

eagerly to people who pretended to know, who knew nothing. The mystical 

reveries of saints that had once filled him with awe in the still hours 

of night, now vaguely repelled him. The Byrons and Brookes who had 

defied life from mountain tops were in the end but flaneurs and poseurs, 

at best mistaking the shadow of courage for the substance of wisdom. 


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