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No one who has not been bankrupt at least twice could afford to be so careful about his dress as Mr. Richmond is,” said Josephine.

“He admits a solitary bankruptcy,” said Amber. “Bankruptcy is the official recognition of genius.”

“It certainly is the shortest way to distinction,” said Josephine. “Bankruptcy’s a sort of English Legion of Honour, isn’t it?—a kind of bourgeois decoration.”

“To genius,” said Amber, with the nod of one who completes a quotation that some one else has begun. “Mr. Richmond is really very clever.”

“Now you contradict yourself—a moment ago you said he was a genius—and being a genius is just the opposite to being clever,” laughed Josephine. “Is this your syllogism: Geniuses become bankrupt, Mr. Richmond becomes bankrupt, therefore he is a genius?”

“Well, that wasn’t quite what was in my mind. I suppose that to have the Homeric attribute of nodding scarcely makes one a Homer?”

“If it did there would be no need for people to learn Greek, But you must forgive me for distrusting your Mr. Richmond—no, I shouldn’t make use of so strong a word—I don’t distrust him. What I mean to say is that I am rarely convinced by a man who is so scrupulous about his coats. Genius—in man—is rarely found in association with silk linings where silk linings are not imperative.”

“Now you are becoming commonplace, my dear Joe; you give one the idea that you cannot imagine genius without a darn. A darn—maybe a patch—and a soft hat have floated many a mediocrity upon the public under the name of a genius. But brains can work just as actively within the drum of a silk hat as within the bowl of a bowler.”

“Just as a true heart may beat beneath a silk lining as fervently as under a moleskin waistcoat. Well, I’ll approach Mr. Richmond with an open mind. After all it’s only a universal genius who is a man that has failed in everything; and no man has yet hinted that Mr. Richmond is a universal genius. By the way, I heard of an adroit Irishman who got a great name as a poet solely by reason of his wearing an old cloak and turning up at awkward hours for dinner.”

April 20
Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria

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