Favorite moments from The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. It’s Tender is the Night with a heart of gold. Such a dream to read.
“You make me tired. D’you think I sacrificed myself to let Larry fall into the hands of a raging nymphomaniac?”
“How did you sacrifice yourself?”
“I gave up Larry for the one and only reason that I didn’t want to stand in his way.”
“Come off it, Isabel. You gave him up for a square-cut diamond and a sable coat.”
The words were hardly out of my mouth when a plate of bread and butter came flying at my head. By sheer luck I caught the plate, but the bread and butter was scattered on the floor. I got up and put the plate back on the table.
“Your uncle Elliott wouldn’t have thanked you if you’d broken one of his Crown Derby plates. They were made for the third Duke of Dorset and they’re almost priceless.”
“Pick up the bread and butter,” she snapped.
“Pick it up yourself, I said, seating myself again on the sofa.
She got up and, fuming, picked up the scattered pieces.
“And you call yourself and English gentleman,” she exclaimed, savagely.
“No, that’s a thing I’ve never done in all my life.”
“Get the hell out of here. I never want to see you again. I hate the sight of you.”
“I’m sorry for that, because the sight of you always gives me pleasure. Have you ever been told that your nose is exactly like that of the Psyche in the museum of Naples, and that’s the loveliest representation of virginal beauty that ever existed. You’ve got exquisite legs, so long and shapely, and I never cease to be surprised at them, because they were thick and lumpy when you were a girl. I can’t imagine how you’ve managed it.”
“An iron will and the the grace of God,” she said angrily.
I was interrupted by a sigh from Isabel. She sat up and finished with a grimace the cocktail which was now lukewarm.
“If I don’t stop crying my eyes’ll be terrible and we’re going out to dinner tonight.” She took a mirror out of her bag and looked at herself anxiously. “Yes, half an hour with an ice bag over my eyes, that’s what I want.” She powdered her face and reddened her lips. Than she looked at me reflectively. “Do you think any worse of me for what I did?”
“Would you care?”
“Strange as it may seem to you, I would. I want you to think well of me.”
“My dear, I’m a very immoral person,” I answered. “When I’m really fond of anyone, though I deplore his wrongdoing, it doesn’t make me less fond of him. You’re not a bad woman in your way and you have every grace and every charm. I don’t enjoy your beauty any less because I know it owes to the happy combination of perfect taste and ruthless determination. You lack only one thing to make you completely enchanting.”
She smiled and waited.
The smile died on her lips and she gave me a glance that was totally lacking in amenity, but before she could collect herself to reply Gray lumbered into the room.
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. Vintage International: New York, New York, 1943.