People wondered. The first time I met Paul—
What do you feel?
I wondered, afterward, what it really was. He seemed to impress me like a powerful motor car stalled in a muddy road.
Ah. I know!
No. You don’t understand, I was unhappy, in the ordinary sense, unbelievably so. But that wasn’t all. I was alive! I lived as the man lives who faints in the dark mine underground, and I lived as the aviator lives, thrilling against the sun, and as the believer in a world of infidels. That was what he did for me. And slowly, as I learned how deeply the very pain was making me live, I put my unhappiness by. It was there, but it no longer seemed important. It was the lingering complaint of my old commonplace soul standing fearfully on the brink of greater things and hating the situation that led it there.
You are a big woman, Jean.
No, I am a small woman in front of a big thing. One of the biggest, genius. And the force of it, relentless as nature, made me what I am. Paul. Oh, Vera, when I think of his music, tempestuous as the sea, healing as spring.... And now where is it? He had what all the world wants most, flight, and the world stalled him in its own mud. You saw it.... That’s why I shall stay here. It’s the only place with his atmosphere. All these things are he. I face them here in silence, and I bare my breast to the arrow. Here I am, the only one who knows Paul’s music in its possibility. To the rest, it is a heap of stones by the roadside. The architect is dead.
But didn’t he ever ... why didn’t he...?
You ask it, of course. You have the right. Sometimes I ask it, too, why Paul never succeeded. While we were struggling along, the things that held him back seemed only details. Only now do I see them as a whole.
In the first place, Paul never aimed directly at success. He was all-round. If it had been merely a question of exploiting his talent, sticking to the one idea day in, day out, never letting an opportunity slip by of meeting the right people and getting to the right places ... that would have been easy. He had tremendous energy. I used to grudge his interest in other things. I hated to see him lose the chances