How familiar her voice was on that note,—caressing, drawing him on.
He said, “I’ll tell you, Nona. I’m unsatisfactory because I’ve got the most infernal habit of seeing things from about twenty points of view instead of one. For other people, that’s the most irritating thing you can possibly imagine. I’ve no convictions; that’s the trouble. I swing about from side to side. I always can see the other side of a case, and you know, that’s absolutely fatal—”
She said gently, “Fatal to what, Marko?”
He was going to say, “To happiness”; but he looked at her and then looked away. “Well, to everything; to success. You can’t possibly be successful if you haven’t got convictions—what I call bald-headed convictions. That’s what success is, Nona, the success of politicians and big men whose names are always in the papers. It’s that: seeing a thing from only one point of view and going all out for it from that point of view. Convictions. Not mucking about all round a thing and seeing it from about twenty different sides like I do. You know, you can’t possibly pull out this big, booming sort of stuff they call success if you’re going to see anybody’s point of view but your own. You must have convictions. Yes, and narrower than that, not convictions but conviction. Only one conviction—that you’re right and that every one who thinks differently from you is wrong to blazes.” He laughed. “And I’m dashed if I ever think I’m right, let alone conviction of it. I can always see the bits of right on the other side of the argument. That’s me. Dash me!”
She said, “Go on, Marko. I like this.”
“Well, that’s all there is to it, Nona. These conviction chaps, these booming politicians and honours-list chaps, these Bagshaw chaps—you know Bagshaw?—they go like a cannon ball. They go like hell and smash through and stick when they get there. My sort’s like the footballs you see down at the school punt-about. Wherever there’s a punt I feel it and respond to it. My sort’s out to be kicked—” He laughed again. “But I couldn’t be any other sort.”
She said, “I’m glad you couldn’t be, Marko. You’re just the same as you used to be. I’m glad you’re the same.”
He did not reply.
She sat briskly forward in the big armchair in which she faced him, making of the motion a movement as though throwing aside a turn the conversation had taken. “Well, go on, Marko. Go on talking. I’m not going to let you stop talking yet. I love that about how people get success nowadays. It’s jolly true. I never thought of it before. Yes, you’re still a terribly thinky person, Marko. Go on. Think some more. Out loud.”
Caressing—drawing him on—just as of old.
He said thoughtfully, “I tell you a thing I
often think a lot about,
Nona. You being here like this puts it in my mind. Conventions.”