"I'll tell you with the salad," I said.
But as a matter of fact I didn't tell him. I threw out that I was doubtful whether I ought to go into trade, or stick to teaching in view of my deepening socialist proclivities; and he, warming with the unaccustomed generosity of a sixteen-penny Chianti, ran on from that without any farther inquiry as to my trouble.
His utterances roved wide and loose.
"The reality of life, my dear Ponderevo," I remember him saying very impressively and punctuating with the nut-crackers as he spoke, "is Chromatic Conflict . . . and Form. Get hold of that and let all these other questions go. The Socialist will tell you one sort of colour and shape is right, the Individualist another. What does it all amount to? What does it all amount to? Nothing! I have no advice to give any one, none,—except to avoid regrets. Be yourself,—seek after such beautiful things as your own sense determines to be beautiful. And don't mind the headache in the morning. . . . For what, after all, is a morning, Ponderevo? It isn't like the upper part of a day!"
He paused impressively.
"What Rot!" I cried, after a confused attempt to apprehend him.
"Isn't it! And it's my bedrock wisdom in the matter! Take it or leave it, my dear George; take it or leave it." . . . He put down the nut-crackers out of my reach and lugged a greasy-looking note-book from his pocket. "I'm going to steal this mustard pot," he said.
I made noises of remonstrance.
"Only as a matter of design. I've got to do an old beast's tomb. Wholesale grocer. I'll put it on his