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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

WAR
Mrs. Sickert was kind enough to ask me to stay
at their house in Camden Town. When I got there
I stayed in bed two or three days and then got up.
She was a charming and wonderful woman and did
beautiful embroidery. Every day I watched her and
talked about myself, which seemed to amuse her.
At the end of ten days I felt very strong indeed and
returned to Fitzroy Street.
Living near me was a young Belgian who had
been a soldier and suffered from time to time from
shell-shock. He was very poor and I asked him to
sit for me. This I enjoyed, as he sat very well, and I
talked French to him3 which reminded me of Paris.
He had long hair and an interesting face. He
painted also in a rather flamboyant Belgian style.
I thought that the French were a much superior
race to the Belgians, whose mentality seemed dreary
and bourgeois in comparison. I painted a life-size
portrait of him, which Sickert bought, and one
seated at a table with all my books behind him on
a bookshelf, which was good, and was bought by
Walter Taylor. I saw it not long ago. I was pleased
with it. Going to see a painting one did years ago
is much the same as going to see an old friend whom
you have not seen for a long time. One feels nervous
and frightened that they may have become old
and haggard and ugly and falling to bits. I had a
pleasant surprise when I saw my painting.
The air-raids had not stopped but the barrage
was doing its work and often chased them away
before they got to London. During air-raid nights,
if I had friends with me, we went down to the cellar.
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