You young fool! You don’t know what you are saying! Joseph! Church! Cat Hospital! What good would I get out of that? Is that what I have been working for all my life? No indeed!
Richard, you shall be my heir!
I won’t! You are only interested in me because I bear your name. If I were John Smith, though ten times the better man, you would never waste a thought upon me. My name is an accident—I care nothing for that. My real self is my art, for which you care even less. All you want is to establish a dynasty—the last infirmity of successful men.
No, I won’t be your heir!
Madness, madness! What kind of a world are we coming to?
Listen. One day when I was walking outside Siena I came to a fine old villa with a wonderful garden. A row of cypresses ran along the wall inside, and I wanted to paint it. The gardener let me in for a tip. While I sat there working, he watching me—even the peasants have a feeling for paint over there—we heard a tap on the window. It was the padrona. I saw that she wanted to speak to me, and I went in. She was an old, crippled woman, holding to life by sheer will, sitting all day by the fire in one room. She spoke French, so we could talk. To my surprise she was very much interested in me—asked questions about my work, my family, and so on. I couldn’t understand why. But when I left she began crying and told me that I reminded her of her grandson who had been killed in Tripoli, and that there was no one of the family name left, but that she had to leave the property either to a cousin whom she detested, or to the Church. And she said just what you have: that this wasn’t the same thing. She had nothing to live for, she said, now the heir was dead, except keep the place out of others’ hands. There she was, a prisoner in that beautiful villa, enjoying nothing, where an artist would have been in paradise. I see her yet, bent over the fire in a black lace shawl, crying.
On my way back to town I happened to think of my last visit with you, and my state of mind returned, my feeling of dependence and the gloomy Thanksgiving dinner. The shock of contrast between my old and my new self stopped me short in the road. In a flash I saw the lying materialism on which the world is based, the curse of dollar worship that keeps opportunity away from the young, at the same time it keeps the old in a prison of loneliness and suspicion. If we worshipped life instead of metal disks, we would see that the young are not really the heirs of the old, but the old are heirs of the young. Then and there I vowed to keep myself clear of the whole wretched tangle, even if I had to carry laundry all