“I hope so,” I said. “You know where I work.”
“Yes—yes. I’ll come. We’ve all sorts of things more to say, haven’t we? We—good-by!”
Did I hear, as I gained the street, something being said about the General, and the state of his health?
You may imagine in what state of wondering I went out of that place, and how little I could now do away with my curiosity. By the droll looks and head-turnings which followed me from strangers that passed me by in the street, I was made aware that I must be talking aloud to myself, and the words which I had evidently uttered were these: “But who in the world can he have smashed up?”
Of course, beneath the public stare and smile I kept the rest of my thoughts to myself; yet they so possessed and took me from my surroundings, that presently, while crossing Royal Street, I was nearly run down by an electric car. Nor did even this serve to disperse my preoccupation; my walk back to Court and Chancel streets is as if it had not been; I can remember nothing about it, and the first account that I took of external objects was to find myself sitting in my accustomed chair in the Library, with the accustomed row of books about the battle of Cowpens waiting on the table in front of me. How long we had thus been facing each other, the books and I, I’ve not a notion. And with such mysterious machinery are we human beings filled—machinery that is in motion all the while, whether we are aware of it or not—that now, with some part of my mind, and with my pencil assisting, I composed several stanzas to my kingly ancestor, the goal of my fruitless search; and yet during the whole process of my metrical exercise I was really thinking and wondering about John Mayrant, his battles and his loves.
Odeon intimations of royalty
sing to thee, thou Great Unknown,
Who canst connect me with a throne
Through uncle, cousin, aunt, or sister,
But not, I trust, through bar sinister.
Gules! Gules! and a cuckoo peccant!
Such was the frivolous opening of my poem, which, as it progressed, grew even less edifying; I have quoted this fragment merely to show you how little reverence for the Selected Salic Scions was by this time left in my spirit, and not because the verses themselves are in the least meritorious; they should serve as a model for no serious-minded singer, and they afford a striking instance of that volatile mood, not to say that inclination to ribaldry, which will at seasons crop out in me, do what I will. It is my hope that age may help me to subdue this, although I have observed it in some very old men.