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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

LAUGHING   TORSO

myself and all the poor artists and writers dined for
one franc-fifty, which included a glass of wine and
one cigarette.   Trotsky was in Paris.   He had sold
newspapers in the streets and was quite penniless.
He ate every evening at the canteen, free of charge,
as Wassilieff was extremely kind and hospitable,
especially  towards  her  own  countrymen.    The
troubles in Russia took place and Trotsky became a
great man.   Someone said that WassiliefF had been
Trotsky's mistress.   She was immediately arrested
and taken away from her son, who was only a few
months old.   Ferdinand Leger, and Jeanne his wife,
took care of him, and poor Wassilieff was nearly
distracted.   There was a great trial and all Paris
came to the Court to see the mistress of the great
man.   They expected to see a great beauty and
when Wassilieff appeared they were very much
astonished to see a very small woman who looked
like a peasant.   WassiliefF rose to her full height,
which was just under five feet, and made a speech.
She said that it was perfectly true that Trotsky had
dined at her canteen every night for many months,
as he was quite penniless, and she said, " And now
you imprison me.   I, who have given birth to a
Frenchman who will fight for you.   Look at my
hands, they are scarred with work and I have even
got a skin disease."   She made such an impressive
speech that she was immediately allowed to go free.
Later on that evening I found Zadkine, who still
had the same studio in the Rue Rousselet.   He had
then married the painter, Valentine Prax.   She was
a pretty, fair girl, who had been brought up in
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