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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

LAUGHING    TORSO

famous painters and writers went years before, when
the artists lived in Montmartre, and when it was
really cheap and very gay. I took a violent dislike to
the old man and could not go there without having
a row with him. There was a life-size plaster cast
of Christ, on which the students had carved their
names; it was carved from head to foot with signa-
tures and looked as if it was suffering from smallpox.
I believe that I signed it too. We drank small plums
in Kirsch and poets recited bad poems and Monsieur
Ghil played a very fine guitar. I did not like the
atmosphere of Montmartre, or the people, and I
think only went there twice during my whole stay.
I went to the Moulin Rouge once and saw elderly
ladies in long skirts doing the can-can. That was
fun as they looked just like the drawings of Toulouse
Lautrec, and, in fact, I think were the same ladies
having grown considerably older.
The Cafe du Dome was opposite the Rotonde.
It was filled with Germans and Americans. I very
seldom went there. The Americans had a poker
game every evening. This continued for about
twenty years, and only broke up a few years ago.
I did not know any Americans, but Basil used to
play poker with them in the evenings, and some-
times made quite a lot of money which we would
spend together. He would tell me funny stories
about them. A large man with a red beard went
out to the other side of the river to dine with his
relations. He wore a dinner jacket. After he had
disposed of his relatives he went to Montmartre
and then to " Les Halles," where everyone ended
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