Chronicles of Clovis
The grill-room clock struck eleven with the respectful unobtrusiveness of one whose
mission in life is to be ignored. When the flight of time should really have rendered
abstinence and migration imperative the lighting apparatus would signal the fact in the
Six minutes later Clovis approached the supper-table, in the blessed expectancy of one
who has dined sketchily and long ago.
"I'm starving," he announced, making an effort to sit down gracefully and read the menu
at the same time.
"So I gathered;" said his host, "from the fact that you were nearly punctual. I ought to
have told you that I'm a Food Reformer. I've ordered two bowls of bread-and-milk and
some health biscuits. I hope you don't mind."
Clovis pretended afterwards that he didn't go white above the collar-line for the fraction
of a second.
"All the same," he said, "you ought not to joke about such things. There really are such
people. I've known people who've met them. To think of all the adorable things there are
to eat in the world, and then to go through life munching sawdust and being proud of it."
"They're like the Flagellants of the Middle Ages, who went about mortifying
"They had some excuse," said Clovis. "They did it to save their immortal souls, didn't
they? You needn't tell me that a man who doesn't love oysters and asparagus and good
wines has got a soul, or a stomach either. He's simply got the instinct for being unhappy
Clovis relapsed for a few golden moments into tender intimacies with a succession of
rapidly disappearing oysters.
"I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion," he resumed presently. "They not
only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being
perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper-table they seem to enter
thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There's nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that
quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster. Do you like my new waistcoat?
I'm wearing it for the first time to-night."
"It looks like a great many others you've had lately, only worse. New dinner waistcoats
are becoming a habit with you."