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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

LAUGHING    TORSO

It sometimes occurred to me that I should go
back to England and live there and that I was not
really getting anywhere either in life or in painting,
Of course, life in Paris for foreign artists is extremely
difficult if they have not enough money coming in
regularly to pay for food and lodging. I could just
scrape along. When I exhibited at the Salon
d'Automne or the Salon des Independants I had
good notices and encouragement from people like
Friesz and Brancusi, and now and then did a drawing
or a portrait which I sold. I had heard that things
were brightening up in London. The Countess A.
asked me to spend a few days at her country house
near Versailles. It was a large converted farmhouse,
the sitting-room had been a barn and it had been
built with paving stones outside and looked very
much an English country house. It was in the
middle of a large orchard, one part of which was
just a field of rose-bushes. There were several white
goats, including a huge billy-goat, who was tied up
with a chain; he smelt horribly and would make a
dive at anyone who approached him,
I had often spoken of Ronald Firbank, and the
Countess was most anxious to meet him. He had
taken a house at Versailles from a French Colonel,
and we decided to call upon him. I wrote him a
note to say that we were coming. We went to
Versailles the following day. When the motor
stopped we saw a tall figure peering through the
curtains. We were shown in. Ronald was in a
particularly nervous mood that day and shook us
by the hands and rushed to his writing desk, seized
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