“‘Hang there like fruit my soul,’” Cruttendon and Jacob both began again at the same moment, and both burst out laughing.
“Curse these flies,” said Mallinson, flicking at his bald head. “What do they take me for?”
“Something sweet-smelling,” said Cruttendon.
“Shut up, Cruttendon,” said Jacob. “The fellow has no manners,” he explained to Mallinson very politely. “Wants to cut people off their drink. Look here. I want grilled bone. What’s the French for grilled bone? Grilled bone, Adolphe. Now you juggins, don’t you understand?”
“And I’ll tell you, Flanders, the second most beautiful thing in the whole of literature,” said Cruttendon, bringing his feet down on to the floor, and leaning right across the table, so that his face almost touched Jacob’s face.
“‘Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,’” Mallinson interrupted, strumming his fingers on the table. “The most ex-qui-sitely beautiful thing in the whole of literature. ... Cruttendon is a very good fellow,” he remarked confidentially. “But he’s a bit of a fool.” And he jerked his head forward.
Well, not a word of this was ever told to Mrs. Flanders; nor what happened when they paid the bill and left the restaurant, and walked along the Boulevard Raspaille.
Then here is another scrap of conversation; the time about eleven in the morning; the scene a studio; and the day Sunday.
“I tell you, Flanders,” said Cruttendon, “I’d as soon have one of Mallinson’s little pictures as a Chardin. And when I say that ...” he squeezed the tail of an emaciated tube ... “Chardin was a great swell. ... He sells ’em to pay his dinner now. But wait till the dealers get hold of him. A great swell—oh, a very great swell.”
“It’s an awfully pleasant life,” said Jacob, “messing away up here. Still, it’s a stupid art, Cruttendon.” He wandered off across the room. “There’s this man, Pierre Louys now.” He took up a book.
“Now my good sir, are you going to settle down?” said Cruttendon.
“That’s a solid piece of work,” said Jacob, standing a canvas on a chair.
“Oh, that I did ages ago,” said Cruttendon, looking over his shoulder.
“You’re a pretty competent painter in my opinion,” said Jacob after a time.
“Now if you’d like to see what I’m after at the present moment,” said Cruttendon, putting a canvas before Jacob. “There. That’s it. That’s more like it. That’s ...” he squirmed his thumb in a circle round a lamp globe painted white.
“A pretty solid piece of work,” said Jacob, straddling his legs in front of it. “But what I wish you’d explain ...”
Miss Jinny Carslake, pale, freckled, morbid, came into the room.
“Oh Jinny, here’s a friend. Flanders. An Englishman. Wealthy. Highly connected. Go on, Flanders. ...”
Jacob said nothing.
“It’s that—that’s not right,” said Jinny Carslake.