’Of course, we have our own racial problem, and have hardly made such a success of it that we can afford to offer advice.
’Well, Edge, this letter has run on to too great a length to permit of any European treatment. That will have to wait. Of course, I have paid several visits to Paris, and understand as never before the saying: “Every man loves two countries—his own and France.”
’Edge, why is it that people who travel always have the worst characteristics of their nationality? On the Continent one sees Englishmen wearing clothes that I swear are never to be seen in England, and their women so often appear angular and semi-masculine, whereas at home—but, then, you know what an admirer I am of English women. And our own people are worse. Tell me: at home, when a gentleman talks to you, does he keep his cigar in his mouth and merely resonate through his nose? Or is that a mannerism acquired through travelling?
’But enough, old boy. This has covered too vast an acreage of thought already. Oh yes—about my writing. I have been doing very little recently, but can feel the tide rising to that point where it will of necessity overflow the confines of my lethargy. I have had the honour of meeting several of the foremost writers here, and there is no question about it, they are doing excellent work. But I wish that I could feel a little more idealism in their work. The whole country here is parched for the lack of Heaven’s moisture of idealism. People must have an objective in their lives, and the Arts should combine with the Church in creating it.
’Of course, there is an amazing amount of drivel written over here, most of which, I think, would never get past the office-boy of an American publication. The English short story and the English music-hall are things to be avoided.
’Before I end, have you seen Gerard Van Derwater recently? I heard that he joined the diplomatic service at Washington after leaving college. I often think of him with his strange pallor, but suggestion of brooding strength. Did it ever strike you that every one respected him, and yet he really never had a close friend? It always seemed to me that he carried about with him a sense of impending tragedy. Find out what he is doing, and let me know.
’Well, old boy, in another few months I shall pack up and return to America, and once more woo the elusive editor. I am looking forward to our sitting by your fireside and, through the cloud of tobacco-smoke, weaving again our old romances. I am really proud of you, Edgerton, and know that you must be a tremendous power for good.
’A letter any time addressed c/o The Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, will find me.—As ever, your old chum,
* * * * * *
The writer addressed an envelope, inserted the letter, sealed and stamped it, then yawned lazily. Gathering his outgoing correspondence and the old letters, he took his hat and sauntered into the street, conscious of having done his duty—also that he had unearthed some thoughts the existence of which he had not suspected beneath the surface shrubbery of everyday existence.