There’s Rex now—over across the road. He’s wondering who you are. He sees we are friends, and he’s pretending to be jealous. Dogs are funny, aren’t they? But you were speaking about my poems. It’s odd that their first criticism should come from you like this. You must be about the same age I was when I began writing—when I wanted above anything to write a book like that, and when such a book seemed the most impossible thing I could do. Like trying to swim the Atlantic, or live forever.
It seemed impossible? I should think it would be the most natural thing in the world, for you—like eating dinner.
That’s the wonderful thing—not the book, but that I should have come to write it!
But who else could write it?
At your age I thought anybody could—anybody and everybody except myself.
Really and truly. You’ve no idea what a useless misfit I was.
But I read somewhere you had always been brilliant, even as a boy.
Unfortunately ... yes. That was what made it so hard for me. Shall I tell you about it?
I wish you would!
Brilliance—I’ll tell you what that was, at least for me. I wrote several things that people called “brilliant.” One in particular, a little play of decadent epigram. It was acted by amateurs before an admiring “select” audience. That was when I was twenty-one. From about sixteen on I had been acutely miserable—physically miserable. I never knew when I wouldn’t actually cave in. I felt like a bankrupt living on borrowed money. Of course, it’s plain enough now—the revolt of starved nerves. I cared only for my mind, grew only in that, and the rest of me withered up like a stalk in dry soil. So the flower drooped too—in decadent epigram. But nobody pointed out the truth of it all to me, and I scorned to give my body a thought. People predicted a brilliant future—for me, crying inside! Then I married. I married the girl who had taken the star part in the play. According to the logic of the situation, it was inevitable. Everybody remarked how inevitable it was. A decorative girl, you know. She wanted to be the wife of a great man.... Well, we didn’t get along.