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When God Laughs


California pride. "You rode up yesterday through the vines from
which it was made."
It was worth while to get Carquinez to loosen up. Nor was he
ever really himself until he felt the mellow warmth of the vine
singing in his blood. He was an artist, it is true, always an artist;
but somehow, sober, the high pitch and lilt went out of his thought-
processes and he was prone to be as deadly dull as a British
Sunday—not dull as other men are dull, but dull when measured
by the sprightly wight that Monte Carquinez was when he was
really himself.
From all this it must not be inferred that Carquinez, who is my
dear friend and dearer comrade, was a sot. Far from it. He rarely
erred. As I have said, he was an artist. He knew when he had
enough, and enough, with him, was equilibrium—the equilibrium
that is yours and mine when we are sober.
His was a wise and instinctive temperateness that savoured of
the Greek. Yet he was far from Greek. "I am Aztec, I am Inca, I am
Spaniard," I have heard him say. And in truth he looked it, a
compound of strange and ancient races, what with his swarthy skin
and the asymmetry and primitiveness of his features. His eyes,
under massively arched brows, were wide apart and black with the
blackness that is barbaric, while before them was perpetually
falling down a great black mop of hair through which he gazed like
a roguish satyr from a thicket. He invariably wore a soft flannel
shirt under his velvet-corduroy jacket, and his necktie was red.
This latter stood for the red flag (he had once lived with the
socialists of Paris), and it symbolized the blood and brotherhood of
man. Also, he had never been known to wear anything on his head
save a leather-banded sombrero. It was even rumoured that he had
been born with this particular piece of headgear. And in my
experience it was provocative of nothing short of sheer delight to
see that Mexican sombrero hailing a cab in Piccadilly or storm-
tossed in the crush for the New York Elevated.
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