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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about The Parts Men Play.

’LONDON, May 12, 1914.

’MY DEAR EDGE,—­I’ve been supplying your friend the Devil with all sorts of cobblestones recently, but, my dear old boy, if I had written you every time I intended to, you would have had no time to prepare those knock-out sermons of yours.

’In your letter you hint at possible heart entanglements for me.  Has it not been said that to a writer all women are “copy”?  Even when he falls in love, your author is so busy studying the symptoms that he usually fails to inform the lady until she has eloped with some other clown.

’In fairness, however, I must admit that you were partly correct in your surmise.  I almost fell in love last November with a girl who invariably angered me when I was with her, but clung to my mind next day like an unfinished plot.  I saw her quite frequently up to February, when I went to the Continent, but have not called on her since my return.

’I met her first at her mother’s town house, where there were several people who admitted their greatness with an aplomb one was forced to admire.  This girl sort of sat there and said nothing, but her silence had a good deal more in it than some of the talk.  We had our first chat that night by the fire, next morning went riding in Rotten Row, and had dinner together the same night.  Fast travelling, you say?  On paper, yes; but actually I don’t know the girl any better now than the night I met her.  She’s a strange creature—­self-willed, fiery, sweet, and sometimes as clever as your Ancient Adversary.  But friendship with her makes me think of the days when I was a kid.  My great hobby was building sky-scrapers with blocks, and very laboriously I would erect the structure up to the point when “feeding-time” or “washing-time” or “being shown to the minister” used always to intervene.  When I returned, the blocks had always fallen down.  Well, friendship with Elise (pretty name, isn’t it?) is not unlike my experience with the blocks.  You can leave her, firmly convinced that at last you are on a basis of real understanding; and two or three days later, when you meet her again, you find all the blocks lying around in disorder.  Instead of a friend, one is an esteemed acquaintance.  The only way to win her, I suppose, would be to call at dawn and stay until midnight.  It would be a bit trying, but I get awfully “fed up” (as they say over here) with being constantly recalled to the barrier.

’Of course, you old humbug, I can see you pursing your lips and saying, “Does Austin really love her?  If he did, he would be unable to see her faults.”  It’s an exploded theory that love is blind.  Good heavens! if a man in love can see in a girl beauty which doesn’t exist, is there any reason to suppose he will be unable to see the faults that do?

’But, candidly, I don’t think I am in love with this young lady.  I might be if I were given half a chance; but, then, emotional icebergs were always my specialty.  I meet a dozen girls who treat me with a tender cordiality that is touching; then there comes into my course one who expresses a sort of friendly indifference, and there I stay scorching my wings or freezing my toes—­whichever figure of speech you prefer.

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