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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

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We still sat on our chairs and rested our feet on the
hose pipe. Tommy never came down at all. He
was upstairs in the kitchen handing the firemen
beer. We asked them if they considered that it was
a good fire and one fireman said, " Not 'arf, burnt
the 'ole bloomin* floor out/3 We asked Tommy
afterwards why he did not come downstairs, and
pointed out to him the risk he was taking of being
burnt to death. He had, apparently, not thought of
that and'explained that he objected to " Personal
injury." I suppose he meant fighting his way
through the flames and smoke. The fire, fortun-
ately, did not get as far as the kitchen, although it
raged outside. Suddenly, Russell Green remembered
that he had left the manuscript of his novel up-
stairs and I realized that my passport was in my
room. We took each other by the hand and went
upstairs through the flames and smoke. He found
his manuscript and I snatched my passport from
the dressing-table, which I was able to feel my way
to. It was impossible to even open one's eyes, the
smoke was so thick. To have one's lungs filled with
smoke is a most disagreeable feeling and I hope that
I shall never be in another fire. Apparently it
started by Tommy having gone to sleep, probably
having left a lighted cigarette end on the floor.
The whole of the floor of his room was burnt out
before he woke up. It was only when the sleeve
of his pyjamas became singed that he woke up.
He was very ill for days afterwards. A great many
of the books were destroyed, but fortunately he was
insured. I felt awful and arrived at a friend's flat at