And then, too, he is so very welcoming. Not, of course, that he makes you feel you are the only person in the world because a world with only one other person in it would be inconceivably horrible to him, but he does make you quite sure that he is most frightfully glad to see you—all the gladder because it is such a surprise. Delancey always makes a point of being surprised. Also, though he is invariably in a hurry—being in a hurry is one of the tributes he pays to life—he as invariably turns round and walks with you, in your direction, to convince himself that having met you in Jermyn Street is an altogether unexpected and delightful adventure. And he never feels, as I always do, that a five minutes’ conversation is a stupid, embarrassing thing, too long for mere civility and too short for anything else. The five minutes are filled to the brim and off he rushes again, leaving me just a little more tired and leisurely from the contact. Delancey is the life and soul of a party—or perhaps I should say the life and body. He likes eating and drinking and talking to women and talking to men and smoking and telling a story. And if he does address his neighbour a little as if she were a meeting at a bye-election, open air, he at any rate never addresses her as if she were a duty and no one had ever wanted to kiss her.
To Delancey all women have had lovers and husbands and children and religious conversions and railway accidents. Old maids and clergymen’s wives adore him.
I don’t know what it was that made him write originally. Perhaps it was his name—Delancey Woburn sounds like the author—or the hero—of a serial. Or it may have been that his exuberant desire for self-expression had burst through the four walls of practical professions. He had, I believe, considered the stage and the church. Journalism would have seemed to me the obvious outlet but he preferred literature. “Creation is such fun,” he would explain, beaming. And, of course, he was tremendously successful. Delancey was designed on a pattern of success.
That was one of the obvious defects I was talking about. Delancey has missed his failures. He has fought and been defeated but he has never longed and been frustrated. In his case, romance is realism. He has only known happy endings.
Naturally he is not an interesting writer. How could he be? And, naturally, he is a successful one. How could he help it? Delancey writes for magazines in England and America. I, myself, never read magazines, but occasionally he sends me one and every twenty stories (I think it is twenty) become a book. The English ones were about scapegraces and irresistible ne’er-do-wells, ancestral homes with frayed carpets and faded hangings in which penniless woman-haters (the last of a noble line) sit and brood, living alone with equally gruff, woman-hating family retainers. Sometimes, too, there was an absent-minded dreamer, and villainous business men worked indefatigably in the interests of their own ultimate frustration.