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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

LAUGHING    TORSO

We had a long correspondence, half in English and
half in French. I went and stayed for a fortnight.
She was certainly very eccentric. She agreed to
pay for the food if I would provide the drinks—port
and sherry she liked. She had a horror of the moon,
and if we walked out in the evenings we had to
walk either sideways or with our backs to it, as it
might cast an evil influence upon us. She objected
to the way I spoke and said one should speak like
the working classes and not be snobbish. We had
long arguments about this. In the evenings we
drank our port and sherry and I did drawings of her.
I slept in a top attic. There was no furniture except
a rather short sofa in which my feet stuck out over
the end, and one chair. Leading up to the room was
a staircase. There was no door either to the room
or at the bottom of the staircase, so at night she
would stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout
her views on philosophy and art and tell me to avoid
looking in the direction of the moon, which came in
through the window as there were no blinds. What
with the moon and the owls hooting outside and
Sophie's raucous voice holding forth on philosophy
I felt sometimes rather unnerved. One morning,
at about three a.m., Sophia screamed up the stair-
case, " If you had the chance would you have gone
off with Henri? " And I screamed back, " Yes! "
After a moment's hesitation, during which I felt
rather frightened; she went back to bed. She
talked extremely well. She suffered a good deal from
ill-health and was rather nervous. She wore very
old-fashioned clothes that she had had since about
V. :,:••:.••••; • - -.- ••• ' 94 , :• • .. _