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TONO-BUNGAY

"but it's a dream. Let's come back to reality. What I want to know is, what are you going to do in Brompton, let us say, or Walham Green now?"

"Oh! damn it!" he remarked, "Walham Green! What a chap you are, Ponderevo!" and he made an abrupt end to his discourse. He wouldn't even reply to my tentatives for a time. . . .

"While I was talking just now," he remarked presently, "I had a quite different idea."

"What?"

"For a masterpiece. A series. Like the busts of the Cæsars. Only not heads, you know. We don't see the people who do things to us nowadays. . . ."

"How will you do it, then?"

"Hands—a series of hands! The hands of the Twentieth Century. I'll do it. Some day some one will discover it—go there—see what I have done, and what is meant by it."

"See it where?"

"On the tombs. Why not? The Unknown Master, of the Highgate Slope! All the little, soft feminine hands, the nervous ugly males, the hands of the flops, and the hands of the snatchers! And Grundy's loose, lean, knuckly affair—Grundy the terror!—the little wrinkles and the thumb! Only it ought to hold all the others together—in a slightly disturbing squeeze. . . . Like Rodin's great Hand—you know the thing!"


§4

I forget how many days intervened between that last breaking off of our engagement and Marion's surrender. But I recall now the sharpness of my emotion,