There was an honest streak in me somewhere which hated
deception. I couldn’t play the part of
“brilliant” young poet with any success.
She was at me all the while to write more of the same
thing. And I didn’t want to. The difference
between the “great” man I was supposed
to be and the sick child I really was, began to torture.
I knew I oughtn’t to go on any further if I
wanted to do anything real. Then one night we
had an “artistic” dinner. My wife
had gotten hold of a famous English poet, and through
him a publisher. The publisher was her real game.
I drank champagne before dinner so as to be “brilliant.”
I was. And before I realized it, Norah had secured
a promise from the publisher to bring out a book of
plays. I remember she said it was practically
finished. But it wasn’t, only the one,
and I hated that. But I sat down conscientiously
to write the book that she, and apparently all the
world that counted, expected me to write. Well,
I couldn’t write it. Not a blessed word!
Something inside me refused to work. And there
I was. In a month or so she began to ask about
it. Norah thought I ought to turn them out while
she waited. I walked up and down the park one
afternoon wondering what to tell her.... And when
I realized that either she would never understand
or would despise me, I grew desperate. I wrote
her a note, full of fine phrases about “incompatibility,”
her “unapproachable ideals,” the “soul’s
need of freedom”—things she would
understand and wear a heroic attitude about—and
fled. I came here....
Of course. But didn’t she follow you?
Didn’t they bother you?
Not a bit. Norah preferred her lonely heroism.
In a few months I was quite forgotten. That was
one of the healthful things I learned. Well, I
was a wreck when I came here, I wanted only to lie
down under a tree.... And there it was, under
that tree yonder, my salvation came.
Hunger. That was my salvation. Simple, elemental,
unescapable appetite. You see I had no servant,
no one at all. So I had to get up and work to
prepare my food.... It was very strange.
Compared with this life, my life before had been like
living in a locked box. Some one to do everything
for me except think, and consequently I thought too
much. But here the very fact of life was brought
home to me. I spent weeks working about the house
and grounds on the common necessities. By the
time winter came on the place was fit to live in—and
I was enjoying life. All the “brilliance”
had faded away; I was as simple as a blade of grass.
For a year I didn’t write a word. I had
the courage to wait for the real thing, nobody pestering
me to be a “genius”! Some day you
may read that first book. People said I had re-discovered
the virtue of humility. I had.