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214
TONO-BUNGAY

"Grundy sins. Oh yes, he's a hypocrite. Sneaks round a corner and sins ugly. It's Grundy and his dark corners that make vice, vice! We artists—we have no vices. And then he's frantic with repentance. And wants to be cruel to fallen women and decent harmless sculptors of the simple nude—like me—and so back to his panic again."

"Mrs. Grundy, I suppose, doesn't know he sins," I remarked.

"No? I'm not so sure. . . . But, bless her heart! she's a woman. . . . She's a woman.

"Then again you get Grundy with a large greasy smile—like an accident to a butter tub—all over his face, being Liberal Minded—Grundy in his Anti-Puritan moments, 'trying not to see Harm in it'—Grundy the friend of innocent pleasure. He makes you sick with the Harm he's trying not to see in it. . . .

"And that's why everything's wrong, Ponderevo. Grundy, damn him! stands in the light, and we young people can't see. His moods affect us. We catch his gusts of panic, his disease of nosing, his greasiness. We don't know what we may think, what we may say. He does his silly utmost to prevent our reading and seeing the one thing, the one sort of discussion we find—quite naturally and properly—supremely interesting. So we don't adolesce; we blunder up to sex. Dare—dare to look—and he may dirt you for ever! The girls are terror stricken to silence by his significant whiskers, by the bleary something in his eyes."

Suddenly Ewart, with an almost Jack-in-the-box effect, sat up.

"He's about us everywhere, Ponderevo," he said very solemnly. "Sometimes—sometimes I think he is—in our blood. In mine."