Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/155

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THE TECHNIQUE OF FORM

story took the matter into its own hands, in spite of him. Speaking, for instance, of the criticism against the commonplace death from consumption of one of the characters in Numa Roumestan, he gives the following explanation:

But why consumptive? Why that sentimental and romantic death, that commonplace contrivance to arouse the reader's emotion? Why, because one has no control over his work; because, during its gestation, when the idea is tempting us and haunting us, a thousand things become involved in it, dragged to the surface and gathered en route, at the pleasure of the hazards of life, as sea-weed becomes entangled in the meshes of a net. When I was carrying Numa in my brain I was sent to take the waters at Allevard; and there, in the public rooms, I saw youthful faces, drawn, wrinkled, as if carved with a knife; I heard poor, expressionless, husky voices, hoarse coughs, followed by the same furtive movement with the handkerchief or the glove, looking for

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