The Best British Short Stories of 1922 HTML version

Lena Wrace
(From The Dial)
1921, 1922
She arranged herself there, on that divan, and I knew she'd come to tell me all about it. It
was wonderful, how, at forty-seven, she could still give that effect of triumph and excess,
of something rich and ruinous and beautiful spread out on the brocades. The attitude
showed me that her affair with Norman Hippisley was prospering; otherwise she couldn't
have afforded the extravagance of it.
"I know what you want," I said. "You want me to congratulate you."
"Yes. I do."
"I congratulate you on your courage."
"Oh, you don't like him," she said placably.
"No, I don't like him at all."
"He likes you," she said. "He thinks no end of your painting."
"I'm not denying he's a judge of painting. I'm not even denying he can paint a little
"Better than you, Roly."
"If you allow for the singular, obscene ugliness of his imagination, yes."
"It's beautiful enough when he gets it into paint," she said. "He makes beauty. His own
"Oh, very much his own."
"Well, you just go on imitating other people's--God's or somebody's."
She continued with her air of perfect reasonableness. "I know he isn't good-looking. Not
half so good-looking as you are. But I like him. I like his slender little body and his
clever, faded face. There's a quality about him, a distinction. And look at his eyes. Your
mind doesn't come rushing and blazing out of your eyes, my dear."
"No. No. I'm afraid it doesn't rush. And for all the blaze--"