You probably think you know

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suggested Anthony, with an effort at concentration. "The failure and the success both believe in their hearts that they have accurately balanced points of view, the success because he's succeeded, and the failure because he's failed. The successful man tells his son to profit by his father's good fortune, and the failure tells _his_ son to profit by his father's mistakes."

"I don't agree with you," said the author of "A Shave-tail in France." "I used to listen to you and Maury when we were young, and I used to be impressed because you were so consistently cynical, but now--well, after all, by God, which of us three has taken to the--to the intellectual life? I don't want to sound vainglorious, but--it's me, and I've always believed that moral values existed, and I always will."

"Well," objected Anthony, who was rather enjoying himself, "even granting that, you know that in practice life never presents problems as clear cut, does it?"

"It does to me. There's nothing I'd violate certain principles for."

"But how do you know when you're violating them? You have to guess at things just like most people do. You have to apportion the values when you look back. You finish up the portrait then--paint in the details and shadows."

Dick shook his head with a lofty stubbornness. "Same old futile cynic," he said. "It's just a mode of being sorry for yourself. You don't do anything--so nothing matters."

"Oh, I'm quite capable of self-pity," admitted Anthony, "nor am I claiming that I'm getting as much fun out of life as you are."

"You say--at least you used to--that happiness is the only thing worth while in life. Do you think you're any happier for being a pessimist?"

Anthony grunted savagely. His pleasure in the conversation began to wane. He was nervous and craving for a drink.

"My golly!" he cried, "where do you live? I can't keep walking forever."

"Your endurance is all mental, eh?" returned Dick sharply. "Well, I live right here."

He turned in at the apartment house on Forty-ninth Street, and a few minutes later they were in a large new room with an open fireplace and four walls lined with books. A colored butler served them gin rickeys, and an hour vanished politely with the mellow shortening of their drinks and the glow of a light mid-autumn fire.

"The arts are very old," said Anthony after a while. With a few glasses the tension of his nerves relaxed and he found that he could think again.

"Which art?"

"All of them. poetry is dying first. It'll be absorbed into prose sooner or later. For instance, the beautiful word, the colored and glittering word, and the beautiful simile belong in prose now. To get attention poetry has got to strain for the unusual word, the harsh, earthy word that's never been beautiful before. Beauty, as the sum of several beautiful parts, reached its apotheosis in Swinburne. It can't go any further--except in the novel, perhaps."

Dick interrupted him impatiently:

"You know these new novels make me tired. My God! Everywhere I go some silly girl asks me if I've read 'This Side of paradise.' Are our girls really like that? If it's true to life, which I don't believe, the next generation is going to the dogs. I'm sick of all this shoddy realism. I think there's a place for the romanticist in literature."






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