Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/23

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15
By Henry James

You think of more and more all the while. That's what makes you, if you will pardon my familiarity, so respectable. At a time when so many people are spent you come into your second wind. But, thank God, all the same, you're better! Thank God, too, you're not, as you were telling me yesterday, ‘successful’. If you weren't a failure, what would be the use of trying? That's my one reserve on the subject of your recovery that it makes you ‘score,’ as the newspapers say. It looks well in the newspapers, and almost anything that does that is horrible. We are happy to announce that Mr. Paraday, the celebrated author, is again in the enjoyment of excellent health. Somehow I shouldn't like to see it.”

“You won't see it; I'm not in the least celebrated—my obscurity protects me. But couldn't you bear even to see I was dying or dead?” my companion asked.

“Dead–passe encore; there's nothing so safe. One never knows what a living artist may do—one has mourned so many. However, one must make the worst of it; you must be as dead as you can.”

“Don't I meet that condition in having just published a book?”

“Adequately, let us hope; for the book is verily a masterpiece.”

At this moment the parlour-maid appeared in the door that opened into the garden: Paraday lived at no great cost, and the frisk of petticoats, with a timorous “Sherry, sir?“ was about his modest mahogany. He allowed half his income to his wife, from whom he had succeeded in separating without redundancy of legend. I had a general faith in his having behaved well, and I had once, in London, taken Mrs. Paraday down to dinner. He now turned to speak to the maid, who offered him, on a tray, some card or note,

while