The Adventures of a Modest Man Robert W. Chambers Author
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Hello, old man! he began.Gillian, I said, don't call me 'Old Man.' At twenty, it flattered me; at thirty, it was all right; at forty, I suspected double entendre; and now I don't like it.Of course, if you feel that way, he protested, smiling.Well, I do, dammit!-the last a German phrase. I am rather strong on languages.Now another thing that is irritating- I've got ahead of my story, partly, perhaps, because I hesitate to come to the point.For I have a certain delicacy in admitting that my second visit abroad, after twenty years, was due to a pig. So now that the secret is out-the pig also-I'll begin properly.I purchased the porker at a Long Island cattle show; why, I don't know, except that my neighbor, Gillian Schuyler Van Dieman, put me up to it.We are an inoffensive community maintaining a hunt club and the traditions of a by-gone generation. To the latter our children refuse to subscribe.Our houses are what are popularly known as fine old Colonial mansions. They were built recently. So was the pig. You see, I can never get away from that pig, although-but the paradox might injure the story. It has sufficiently injured me-the pig and the story, both.The architecture of the pig was a kind of degenerate Chippendale, modified by Louis XVI and traces of Bavarian baroque. And his squeal resembled the atmospheric preliminaries for a Texas norther.Van Dieman said I ought to buy him. I bought him. My men built him a chaste bower to leeward of an edifice dedicated to cows.Here I sometimes came to contemplate him while my horse was being saddled.That particular morning, when Van Dieman saluted me so suspiciously at the country club, I had been gazing at the pig.And now, as we settled down to our morning game of chess, I said:4Van, that pig of mine seems to be in nowise remarkable. Why the devil do you suppose I bought him?How do I know?You ought to. You suggested that I buy him. Why did you?To see whether you would.I said rather warmly: Did you think me weak-minded enough to do whatever you suggested?The fact remains that you did, he said calmly, pushing the king's knight to queen's bishop six.Did what? I snapped.What you didn't really want to do.Buy the pig?Exactly.I thought a moment, took a pawn with satisfaction, considered.Van, I said, why do you suppose I bought that pig?Ennui.A man doesn't buy pigs to escape from ennui!You can't predict what a man will do to escape it, he said, smiling. The trouble with you is that you're been here too long; you're in a rut; you're gone stale. Year in, year out, you do the same things in the same way, rise at the same time, retire at the same hour, see the same people, drive, motor, ride, potter about your lawns and gardens, come here to the club-and it's enough to petrify anybody's intellect.Do you mean to say that mine--Partly. Don't get mad. No man who lives year after year in a Long Island community could escape it. What you need is to go abroad. What you require is a good dose of Paris.


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