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Tea-table Talk Jerome K. Jerome

Chapter IV

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"What becomes, I wonder," mused the Philosopher, "of the thoughts that are never spoken? We know that in Nature nothing is wasted; the very cabbage is immortal, living again in altered form. A thought published or spoken we can trace, but such must only be a small percentage. It often occurs to me walking down the street. Each man and woman that I pass by, each silently spinning his silken thought, short or long, fine or coarse. What becomes of it?"

"I heard you say once," remarked the Old Maid to the Minor Poet, "that 'thoughts are in the air,' that the poet but gathers them as a child plucks wayside blossoms to shape them into nosegays."

"It was in confidence," replied the Minor Poet. "Please do not let it get about, or my publisher will use it as an argument for cutting down my royalties."

"I have always remembered it," answered the Old Maid. "It seemed so true. A thought suddenly comes to you. I think of them sometimes, as of little motherless babes creeping into our brains for shelter."

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"It is a pretty idea," mused the Minor Poet. "I shall see them in the twilight: pathetic little round-eyed things of goblin shape, dimly luminous against the darkening air. Whence come you, little tender Thought, tapping at my brain? From the lonely forest, where the peasant mother croons above the cradle while she knits? Thought of Love and Longing: lies your gallant father with his boyish eyes unblinking underneath some tropic sun? Thought of Life and Thought of Death: are you of patrician birth, cradled by some high-born maiden, pacing slowly some sweet garden? Or did you spring to life amid the din of loom or factory? Poor little nameless foundlings! I shall feel myself in future quite a philanthropist, taking them in, adopting them."

"You have not yet decided," reminded him the Woman of the World, "which you really are: the gentleman we get for three and sixpence net, or the one we are familiar with, the one we get for nothing."

"Please don't think I am suggesting any comparison," continued the Woman of the World, "but I have been interested in the question since George joined a Bohemian club and has taken to bringing down minor celebrities from Saturday to Monday. I hope I am not narrow- minded, but there is one gentleman I have been compelled to put my foot down on."

"I really do not think he will complain," I interrupted. The Woman of the World possesses, I should explain, the daintiest of feet.

"It is heavier than you think," replied the Woman of the World. "George persists I ought to put up with him because he is a true poet. I cannot admit the argument. The poet I honestly admire. I like to have him about the place. He lies on my drawing-room table in white vellum, and helps to give tone to the room. For the poet I am quite prepared to pay the four-and-six demanded; the man I don't want. To be candid, he is not worth his own discount."

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Tea-table Talk
Jerome K. Jerome

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