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Bliss and Other Stories


The waiter has touched a spill at the red stove and lighted a bubble of gas under a spreading shade. It is no use looking out of the window, Madame ; it is quite dark now. Your white hands hover over your dark shawl. They are like two birds that have come home to roost. They are restless, restless. . . . You tuck them, finally, under your warm little armpits.

Now the waiter has taken a long pole and clashed the curtains together. " All gone," as children say.

And besides, I've no patience with people who can't let go of things, who will follow after and cry out. When a thing's gone, it's gone. It's over and done with. Let it go then ! Ignore it, and comfort yourself, if you do want comforting, with the thought that you never do recover the same thing that you lose. It's always a new thing. The moment it leaves you it's changed. Why, that's even true of a hat you chase after ; and I don't mean superficially page 78—I mean profoundly speaking ... 1 have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to be a writer can afford to indulge in it. You can't get it into shape ; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in. Looking back, of course, is equally fatal to Art. It's keeping yourself poor. Art can't and won't stand poverty.

Je ne parle pas français. Je ne parle pas français. All the while I wrote that last page my other self has been chasing up and down out in the dark there. It left me just when I began to analyse my grand moment, dashed off distracted, like a lost dog who thinks at last, at last, he hears the familiar step again.

" Mouse ! Mouse ! Where are you ? Are you near ? Is that you leaning from the high window and stretching out your arms for the wings of the shutters ? Are you this soft bundle moving towards me through the feathery snow ? Are you this little girl pressing through the swing-doors of the restaurant ? Is that your dark shadow bending forward in the cab ? Where are you ? Where are you ? Which way must I turn ? Which way shall I run ? And every moment I stand here hesitating you are farther away again. Mouse ! Mouse ! "

Now the poor dog has come back into the café, his tail between his legs, quite exhausted.

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" It was a . . . false . . . alarm. She's nowhere ... to ... be seen." " Lie down then ! Lie down ! Lie down ! "