Rothenstein, who was not without a decided streak of romanticism himself, once suggested that he would like to play the part of Vautrin to my Lucien de Rubempxé! Neither of us would have been suitably cast in these rôles. He used to talk of his friend Oscar Wilde, and quoted this wit’s mot, ‘The death of Lucien was the greatest tragedy of my life.’ Wilde was now at large, and Rothenstein proposed a visit to Paris where he was to be found. Accordingly, the Vattetot expedition concluded, Will and Alice Rothenstein, Charles Conder and myself proceeded thither to pass a week or two, largely in the company of the distinguished reprobate. I had heard a lot about Oscar, of course, and on meeting him was not in the least disappointed, except in one respect: prison discipline had left one, and apparently only one, mark on him, and that not irremediable: his hair was cut short … We assembled first at the Café de la Regence. Warmed up with a succession of Maraschinos, the Master began to coruscate genially. I could only listen in respectful silence, for did I not know that ‘little boys should be obscene and not heard’? In any case I could think of nothing whatever to say. Even my laughter sounded hollow.
KeywordsUnpleasant Impression Terrible Thing Woman Author Macmillan Publisher Happy Time
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