Repetition Generale

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/April, 1922


DOMESTIC Inspiration.— The: notion that a true and loving (and, let us hope, amiable and beautiful) wife inspires a man to high endeavor is largely tosh. Every sane woman knows instinctively, as a matter of fact, that the highest aspirations of her husband are fundamentally inimical to her, and that their realization is apt to cost her her possession of him. What she dreams of is not an infinitely brilliant husband, but an infinitely “solid’ one, which is to say, one bound irretrievably by the chains of normalcy. It would delight her to see him get to the White House, for a man in the White House is as relentlessly policed as an archbishop. But it would give her a great deal of disquiet to see him develop into a Goethe or a Wagner.

I have known in my time a great many men of the first talent, as such things are reckoned in America, and most of them have been married. I can’t recall one whose wife appeared to view his achievements with perfect ease of mind. In every case the lady was full of a palpable fear — the product of her feminine intuition, i.e., of her hard realism and common sense — that his rise shook her hold upon him, that he became a worse husband in proportion as he became a better man. In the logic I can discern no flaw. The ideal husband is surely not the man of active and daring mind; he is the man of placid and conforming mind. Here the good business man obviously beats the artist and adventurer.

His rewards are all easily translated into domestic comfort and happiness. He is not wobbled by the admiration of other women, none of whom, however much they may esteem his virtues as a husband, are under any illusion as to his virtues as a lover. Above all, his mind is not analytical, and hence he is not likely to attempt any anatomizing of his marriage — the starting point for the worst sort of domestic infelicity. No man, examining his marriage intelligently, can fail to observe that it is compounded, at least in part, of slavery, and that he is the slave. Happy the woman whose husband is so stupid that he never launches into that coroner’s inquest!


The Individual Normalcy. — One of the things about the American character that I can’t grasp is the pride that the typical citizen of the Republic takes in being what he terms “normal.” Plumbing the term, one finds that by it he means one who leads a “regular’’ life. And plumbing in turn the adjective “regular,” we find that by it he means a life devoid of emotions not sanctioned by the Y. M. C. A., of pleasures not endorsed by the Epworth League, of artistic passion and philosophical autonomy, of liberal cosmopolitan point of view and independent spirit. Let us view two groups of sixteen men each: first, a group that is strictly within the proud normal American fold; and secondly a group that, by the same definition, is strictly without it. In the first group are Josephus Daniels, Calvin Coolidge, William H. Anderson, Frank A. Munsey, Houdini, Herbert Hoover, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Congressman Volstead, Brander Matthews, Liggett and Myers, Paul Elmer More, Charles H. Fletcher, General Peyton C. March, Bert Williams and Warren Gamaliel Harding. In the second group are William Shakespeare, Richard Wagner, Lord Byron, Anatole France, Jesus Christ, Louis XIV, Marc Antony, Franz Liszt, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Napoleon Bonaparte, Francois Villon, King Edward VII, Frederic Chopin, Miguel de Saavedra Cervantes, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and George Washington.


There Lies Glamour; There Lay Romance. — The Malecón at two o’clock of a late Spring morning, with its tiara of amber lights, the harbor of Havana playing its soft lullaby against the seawall, and Morro Castle blinking like a patient owl across the waters; the garden of the Hotel de France et l’Angleterre at Fontainebleau in the twilight, with the cannon of the French artillery in late summer maneuvers echoing dully in the outlying forests; Hampton Court on a lazy afternoon in the late autumn of the year, deserted, still, with the leaves falling across the withered flower-beds and, up from the Thames, the sound of a lonely paddle; midwinter dawn in the Siegesalle of Berlin; the steps of the Tcheragan Serai in Constantinople on a moonlit night trembling in the mirror of the Bosporus; the palm-bordered road out of Hamilton, Bermuda, on a rainy day in May, with the smell of the sea dripping from the great leaves; the hurricane deck of a ship gliding noiselessly through the blue, star-shot cyclorama of a Caribbean night, with the intermittent click of poker chips from the smoking-room and the orchestra below playing the waltz song from “Sari”; the Kärntner-Ring of Vienna just after eleven of a November evening, with its elaborately costumed police, and the hackmen bawling for fares, and the young girls selling Kaiserblumen, and the crowds in dominoes of a dozen colors on their way to the flower ball, and cavalrymen kissing their sweethearts in the middle of the street; the path of pines that winds up the hill on the far side of Lake Mohegan, its carpet of moss still damp from the retreat of April, just an hour from Times Square. . . .


More on Criticism. — The demand for “constructive” criticism, so often voiced by the galled jades of the arts, is based upon the assumption that those who demand it would profit by it — i. e., that they are capable of doing better work than they actually do. That this is true, I doubt. The curse of the arts is that they are constantly invaded by persons who are not artists at all — persons whose yearning to express themselves is unaccompanied by the slightest capacity for intriguing expression — in brief, persons with absolutely nothing to say. This is particularly true of the art of letters, which interposes very few technical obstacles to the vanity and garrulity of such oafs. Any effort to teach them to write better is an effort wasted; they are as incapable of it as they are of jumping over the moon. The only sort of criticism that can deal with them profitably is the purely destructive variety. It can expose their hollowness, silence their nonsense, and so abate a nuisance. It is idle to argue that the good in them is thus destroyed with the bad. The simple answer is that there is no good in them.


Note on a Personal Prejudice. — I dislike excessively suave men. They always make me think of the feel of cheap satin.


Inter Arma. — One of the useful byproducts of war is its pricking of the fundamental democratic delusion. For years the Homo boobus stalks the earth vaingloriously, flapping his wings over his God-given rights, his inalienable freedom, his sublime equality to his masters. Then of a sudden he is thrust into a trench, and discovers to his surprise that he is still a slave after all — that even his life is not his own. The judicious, studying the history of the past decade, will note sardonically how quickly and completely all the so-called rights of the inferior man were adjourned in the United States in 1917. One day he was the favorite of the Constitution and the full peer of George Washington. The next day he was standing in line with a musket over his shoulder, and an officer was barking at him.

I daresay the change was shocking to many a faithful believer in the democratic buncombe. It must have seemed somehow incredible and against nature; nevertheless, it came to pass. One of its effects was to fill the victim with an inferiority complex. The workings of that complex are now brilliantly visible. On the one hand, the ex-soldiers talk magnificently of wresting all sorts of new rights and privileges from the ruling powers, and adopt the tone of heroic and voluntary saviors of their country, and even set up the doctrine that no idea obnoxious to them, however academic, shall be uttered in the Republic. On the other hand, the ruling powers play with them cynically, and they do not even get common justice. While they sweated in the trenches, so-called profiteers — i. e., fellows too clever to be caught — looted the national treasury. Not a cent of that loot will ever be returned. Not a sane soldier believes that a cent of it will ever be returned. . . . A curious sidelight upon the theory that all men are equal!


He Who Gets Slapped.— A man I have difficulty in understanding is the one who, falling within the field of my criticism and meeting with its disapproval, becomes wrath at my written estimate of him and, even more so, at me. Surely were the tables reversed, were he the critic and I the victim of his findings, I know myself well enough to promise that I should view both his criticism of me and the man himself without irritation or anger. Yet hardly a month passes that some writer whom my appraisals have exasperated does not either publicly revile me as a fellow fit only for the society of dogs and worms, or send me a violently abusive letter.

As I say, I can’t understand such a man. Certainly I, in my approaching two decades of literary, critical and editorial life, have been subjected to as much criticism as any analogous man I know. Nine-tenths of this criticism has been unfavorable, and a goodly share of the nine-tenths has been decidedly derogatory. Yet I have never felt, spoken or written — so far as I can remember — a single irascible reply, even when I had reason to believe that there was an axe somewhere in my critic’s woodpile. I know my faults as well as the best of my critics, and I have so many of them and they are so obvious that once in a while even a mediocre critic cannot escape smelling out one or more of them. I am not perfect, I know full well; and I thank God that I am not. For if I were, ambition would naturally leave me, and I should give up the struggle of writing that gives me such tormenting pleasure, and doubtless spend the rest of my days drinking too much, playing nonsensical golf, sitting around my club, or chasing after idiotic women. Harsh criticism, whether just or unjust in my own opinion, keeps me at the wheel; it challenges me; it keeps my blood dancing; it makes me fight, not my critics, but myself. And no man ever hit another upon the nose more often and more tellingly than I hit myself. I am, constitutionally, an aesthetic Marquis de Sade, with myself as the subject of my endless critical flagellations.

But the man who grows red in the face and sputters like a new garden hose when he fails to meet with my critical approbation — I cannot grasp him. Does he believe himself perfect? I doubt it. No man, not even a recognized jackass, goes so far as to believe that of himself. Does he believe that I am dishonest in my attack on him, and is so perhaps justifiably indignant at me? Again, I doubt it. For, though I have been accused of many things, many of them true, no one, so far as I have heard, has ever accused me of not being honest. I have no reason to be dishonest. I have never belonged to a group of log-rollers; I am a bad mixer, so called, and dislike what passes for personal popularity; I fortunately have enough of the world’s goods not to want more; I have enough friends; I never ask a favor, or do one if I can avoid it; I am approximately as temperamental as a cold potato.

There is thus no intelligible reason why I should be dishonest. Dishonesty could avail me nothing, be of no benefit to me in any conceivable way.

But if the man whom I criticize adversely does not believe himself perfect or me dishonest, what reason has he for being worked up? Does he believe that I am ignorant, and unable to detect the merit that has on this occasion eluded me? Possibly. But if he believes that I am ignorant, why is he aggravated? No intelligent man, or even partly intelligent man, can imaginably become exercised over what an ignoramus has to say of him or of his work. If I am, to him, a stonehead, why shouldn’t he dismiss me with a long, loud laugh? . . . Well, one reason remains for our friend’s irascibility. Does he believe that I am intelligent, and that I have detected the truth about him; and is it this exposé that makes his ears burn?If it is this, then he is an artist without gratitude and without self-esteem, for the truth should make him stronger once he is privy to it, and his future work better and finer and sounder. If he grows angry over what he knows to be true, he is simply a damn fool.


The Idealist.— The late Disarmament Conference, like the Peace Conference before it, provided a delirious day in court for the political New Thoughters formerly called Liberals, but now generally known as idealists. It was the function of these passionate sentimentalists to find Hope and Promise in the deliberations of the eminent negotiators, despite the obvious fact that every one of their actual acts, from the very start, reeked of fraud. Even after the fraudulence of the proceedings became too notorious to be denied, idealism continued on tap. In the end it converted itself bravely into the doctrine that there is a mystical virtue in optimism, even in the face of massive proofs that it is unjustified. That is to say, the man who hopes absurdly is, in some mysterious manner, a better citizen than the man who detects and exposes the hard truth. . . . Bear this doctrine clearly in mind. It is, fundamentally, what is the matter with the United States.


L’Apres Midi d’un Cabotin.— Not long ago it befell me to be assigned a room in a hotel next to one occupied by an actor. The partition between the two rooms was thin, and it was thus that I was privileged to become privy to the solution of the mystery as to what an actor does with his afternoons.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, just as I sat myself down to my second lap in the day’s writing chore, my neighbor arose from his bed, turned on the water in his tub, and called up a girl. The telephone conversation lasted exactly fifteen minutes, and was interrupted only long enough for my neighbor to turn off the water. After his bath, my neighbor called downstairs and ordered breakfast, a copy of Variety, and two packages of cigarettes.

Directly after breakfast, quiet prevailed for half an hour, my neighbor doubtless being engrossed in the literature he had ordered sent up to him. Suddenly, however, a great sound of gaiety filtered through the partition. My neighbor had turned on a phonograph with a jazz record and was executing a pas seul to the strains. A second jazz record followed, and then a sentimental popular “Mammy” ballad. The program completed, my neighbor called up another girl. This conversation, which lasted about ten minutes, was followed by the calling up of still another sweet one, the latter conversation running to fifteen minutes. This eventually concluded, my neighbor called downstairs and ordered up four oranges. A noise of cocktail-shaking ensued presently, and then the gurgle of two beverages.

At three o’clock one of the fair creatures with whom my neighbor had had telephonic communication was announced, and a moment or two later was received in his chamber with a wealth of sweet words. Again the phonograph was turned on, and again a cocktail-shaking fell upon my ears. It developed soon that my neighbor and his fair visitor were practicing a particularly intricate dance step. They were — it appeared — going to an actors’ ball at the Ritz that evening, and wished to display their joint virtuosity before the assembled elite. Came now presently through the partition endearing phrases and, if my ears deceived me not, a succession of moist busses. Again the cocktail-shaking; again the endearing phrases; again the succession of kisses — and then — and then an indecipherable silence that lasted until quarter of five o’clock. At this hour my neighbor called up his club and informed a crony named Douglas or Donald (I could not catch the name distinctly) that he would meet him in twenty minutes and would go with him to tea at Mrs. Somebody’s house in West 104th Street. After ten minutes, the sound of a kiss, the slamming of the door by my neighbor and his fair companion, the strains of “Kalu-la” whistled by my neighbor on his way to the elevator— and silence.


On History. — “History,” says Henry Ford, “is bunk.” I inscribe myself among those who dissent from this doctrine; nevertheless, I am often hauled up, in reading history, by a feeling that I am among unrealities. In particular, that feeling comes over me when I read about the religious wars of the past — wars in which thousands of men, women and children were butchered on account of puerile and unintelligible disputes over transubstantiation, the atonement, and other such metaphysical banshees. It does not surprise me that the majority murdered the minority; the majority, even today, does it whenever it is possible. What I can’t understand is that the minority went voluntarily to the slaughter. Even in the worst persecutions known to history — say, for example, those of the Jews in Spain — it was always possible for a given member of the minority to save his hide by giving public assent to the religious notions of the majority. A Jew who was willing to be baptized, in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, was practically unmolested; his descendants today are 100% Spaniards. Well, then, why did so many Jews refuse? Why did so many prefer to be robbed, exiled, and sometimes murdered?

The answer given by philosophical historians is that they were a noble people, and preferred death to heresy. But this merely begs the question. Is it actually noble to cling to a religious idea so tenaciously? Certainly it doesn’t seem so to me. After all, no human being really knows anything about the exalted matters with which all religions deal. The most he can do is to match his private guess against the guesses of his fellow-men. For any man to say absolutely, in such a field, that this or that is wholly and irrefragably true and this or that is utterly false is simply to talk nonsense. Personally, I have never encountered a religious idea — and I do not except even the idea of the existence of God — that was instantly and unchallengeably convincing, as, say, the Copernican astronomy is instantly and unchallengeably convincing. But neither have I ever encountered a religious idea that could be dismissed offhand as palpably and indubitably false. In even the worst nonsense of such theological mountebanks as the Rev. Dr. Billy Sunday, Brigham Young and Mrs. Eddy there is always enough lingering plausibility, or, at all events, possibility, to give the judicious pause. Whatever the weight of probabilities against it, it nevertheless may be true that man, on his death, turns into a gaseous vertebrate, and that this vertebrate, if its human larva has engaged in bootlegging, profanity or adultery on this earth, will be boiled for a million years in a cauldron of pitch. My private inclination is to doubt it, and to set down anyone who believes it as a credulous ass, but it must be obvious that I have no means of disproving it. In view of this uncertainty it seems to me sheer vanity for any man to hold his religious views too firmly, or to submit to any inconvenience on account of them. It is far better to conceal them discreetly, or to change them as the delusions of the majority change. My own religious views, being wholly skeptical and tolerant, are offensive to the subscribers to practically all other views. At the moment, by an accident of American political history, these dissenters from my theology are forbidden to punish me for not agreeing with them. But at any moment some group or other among them may seize such power and proceed against me in the traditional manner. If they ever do, I give notice here and now that I shall get converted to their nonsense instantly, and so retire to safety with my right thumb laid against my nose and my fingers waving like wheat in the wind. I’d even do it today, if there were any practical advantage in it. Offer me a case of Rauenthaler 1907, and I engage to submit myself publicly to baptism by any rite ever heard of, provided it does not expose my nakedness.

Make it ten cases, and I agree to be both baptized and confirmed. In such matters I am broadminded. What is one more lie?


On Co-Respondents, — Often when I see the picture of the woman co-respondent in a divorce case I am struck with the superiority of the wife’s looks, and wonder what it was about the dubious siren that persuaded the husband to desert his spouse for her. In the last twelve divorce cases that have figured conspicuously in the newspapers the wife has, with one debatable exception, been considerably more sightly than the vamp.

This may sound like a futile and trivial paragraph, but I believe that there is a bit of evasive philosophy in it somewhere. I thought for a moment that I had my hands on it, and that I had got hold of the reason, but, though I can feel it crawling around in my head, I can’t quite get it into words.


Consolation. — The net result of the so-called Disarmament Conference seems to be this: that both Japan and England have hornswoggled the Feather Duster and his associates out of such advantages that, when war comes finally with either or both of them, they will be able to beat the United States with ease. In brief, Uncle Sam is neatly hog-tied by the open covenants openly arrived at. Not even the League of Nations scheme of the lamented Woodrow would have accomplished the business more effectively. Well, let us not repine too much. If the English conquer us, they will at least have the decency, I suppose, to give us some sort of Home Rule; moreover, they will undoubtedly repeal Prohibition, if only to get the liquor license money. Even the Japs, I daresay, would be better than the rogues and morons who now rule us. What intelligent American would be honestly sorry to hear that the Jap fleet had taken New York and put it to the torch? Or that a Jap army had captured Washington and butchered the whole House of Representatives?


English. — Paragraph (verbatim) from a circular letter by G. P, Putnam’s Sons, publishers, advertising “Putnam’s Minute-a-Day English for Busy People”:

“All over the country is spreading like wildfire a movement for better English. Not only throughout our vast educational system but more particularly in business and professional and social circles, is a concerted effort being made to have our common language correct and grammatical, to keep it melodious and beautiful ‘Better-English Week’ is now an annual institntion, but better still is to make every day a Better-English Day, which can easily be done by even the busiest people by the use of Putnam’s Minute-a-Day English. The importance of Good English cannot be overestimated. The prizes of life will go to those who talk and write it accurately and effectively.”

Excerpts from G. P. Putnam’s Sons’ circular accompanying the letter:

1. “A man reveals himself instantly by his conversation. Not only by what he says, but by how he says it . . .”

2. “If just the words he needs to express his exact meaning are at his instant command, then he can hardly fail to get his idea across to those whom he may perhaps wish to impress. . . .”

3. “Many a woman has been forced to content herself with a mediocre position in society on account of bad grammar, displeasing enunciation. . . .”

4. “(This book) prepared especially for the use of busy people . . . who must absorb knowledge in an idle moment now and then.”

5. “An invaluable aid to those who wish to learn quickly to use correct English.”
I suggest that G. P. Putnam’s Sons invest in a copy of their own work, and that meanwhile they send their letter and their circular to the Messrs. Louis Mann, George Bickel, Joseph Cawthorne, Sam Bernard and the other broken-English comiques. These actors would surely appreciate them. The material in them is far superior to that in “Madison’s Budget.”


The Acid Test. — We extract the following affecting anecdote from the Kansas City Star:
A stranger joined the party setting out on the Roosevelt pilgrimage at the Pennsylvania station in New York yesterday.

“My name,” he said, “is Eugene Belts. There never was a time when I didn’t love Roosevelt. I’ve read everything he ever wrote that I could get my hands on, and I’ve followed him as best I could. I saw in the paper that anyone who loved him would be allowed to take the pilgrimage today. So, as I had a day off—I’m a car inspector from Packerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania — I said to myself I’d take the chance I might be let in. So I set my alarm dock for 2:40 this morning and got up then and walked five miles to get here. And I’d like it awfully well if you’d let me go along.”

Well, he went along. And he went to the house where Roosevelt had lived and he took part in all that happened there and saw the things that Roosevelt loved. And when he came away he said simply:

“I never thought before that dreams came true.”

It is from stuff like that that Roosevelt followers are made.

Exactly. It is of such stuff precisely that they are made.


Meditation. — As I grow older, old tastes and enthusiasms fade miserably into memories — yellowed leaves fluttering from the dying tree. An observation mellow with platitude, and yet every man, as he makes it for himself, must be filled with a Goethean melancholy, a kind of dismayed wonder. Am I actually the same mammal who, in the year 1894, was a baseball fan, and knew all the players without a scorecard? It seems incredible — some outrageous fable out of history, like that about Washington and the cherry tree. I can imagine nothing more dismal today than a baseball game, or, for that matter, any sort of sport. The taste for it, the capacity for rising to its challenge, is as extinct in me as, say, the desire for immortality. I have absolutely no yearning to exist as a wraith for all eternity, and by the same token I have absolutely no yearning to play golf. Not long ago, when too much work at the desk— chained to a stool and a spittoon like a bookkeeper! — brought me to a professor of internal medicine, and he prescribed more exercise, I turned to laying bricks to avoid the unbearable boredom of golf, tennis and all the rest of it. In laying bricks there is at least some obvious intelligibility. One makes something, and it is there to look at and mull over after it is done. What is there after one has played a round of golf? In these later days there is not even a decent drink.

When I was a boy, bricklayers always fascinated me. No other mechanics wore such a lordly and distinguished air. Even in those days they got a great deal more money than other workingmen, and showed it in their manner. At noon, when the carpenters and tinners sat down in their slops to devour stale sandwiches out of tin cans, the bricklayers took off their white overalls, went to the Dutchman’s at the comer, and there dined decently on Linsensuppe and Sauerbraten, with large horns of lager to flush their esophagi. Bricklayers were the only workmen who had recognized gangs of slaves to serve them, to wit, the hod-carriers. In those far-off times, in the city where I lived, all hod-carriers were colored men — usually great, shiny fellows with immense knots of muscles in their legs and arms. The Irish had already become lawyers, city detectives, saloonkeepers, gang bosses, and Todsaufer for breweries. These colored men, in summer, liked to work with their chests bare. Swarming up the ladders in long files, each with his heavy hod on his shoulder, they made an exotic, Egyptian picture. One could fancy them descended in a direct line from the Nubians who carried the hod when Cheops built his pyramid. The bricklayers, forever cursing them fluently, but all the same palpably friendly to them, fitted into the fancy perfectly. The mason is the one workman who has resisted all change. He does his work today as he did it in Babylon, with deft hand and sharp eye.

Compared with him, all the other mechanics of our time are upstarts: put him alongside the plumber, the structural iron worker, or the electrician! Moreover, what he does endures. The carpenter? A blower of soap bubbles, a maker of millinery! But the brick walls of Babylon stand to this day.

Laying bricks in my garden wall (to the great disquiet of my neighbor’s dog) I learned a number of things worth knowing. One (discovered almost instantly) was this: that there is much more to a handicraft than the simple exercise of muscle. To lay bricks decently one must be careful, calculating, far-seeing, alert, a bit shrewd. Distances must be figured out very accurately, else there will presently appear a gap that no conceivable brick will fit. One deals in hard and immovable lines, precise distances, mathematical levels. A wall that leans, save when age has pushed it over, is a wall that must come down. There can be no easy compromises with the plumb-bob, no rough and ready evasions of the plan. A week or two of hard effort left me with a respect for bricklayers vastly transcending my old admiration. I knocked off a day and went out to watch a gang of them laying the front wall of a somewhat elaborate moving-picture theatre — a complex maze of arches, cornices and pilasters. I had, even by this time, some professional comprehension of their problems. I stood gaping in the hot sun as they solved them — quickly, ingeniously, perfectly. But that, after all, was an easy job. The hardest of all, I have been told, is to lay the wall of a sewer manhole. It is all curves — and they do not all run the same way. The men who tackle it do it wholly by the eye! It is as difficult, in its way, as playing Bach.

Another thing I learned was that it was quite as easy, and a good deal more pleasant, to lay bricks in a good design as it was to lay them in a bad design. Do bricklayers know it? Do they take any actual delight in their craft? I believe fully that the better ones do. An architect once told me that every effort he made to use bricks beautifully, no matter how vexatious the technical problems it involved, met a hearty response from them, and eager co-operation — that they delighted in matching the colors of the new tapestry bricks, and worked joyfully on a fine chimney. Unluckily, they seldom get the chance. Nine-tenths of the work they do for a living is shoddy — the uninspiring laying of bad bricks in inept and feeble designs. What could be more tiresome than running up a high blank wall? Or than encasing a skyscraper in its thin and puerile skin of clay? The only brickwork that can imaginably satisfy an honest bricklayer is honest brickwork — brickwork that stands upon its own bottom, and is precisely what it pretends to be. The main arch of that movie-parlor occupied four or five bricklayers for several days. It was a genuine arch, not a fake concealing concrete, and their delight in it was obvious. All day long their foreman hovered over them, watching every brick as it went into place, and buzzing all over the scaffolding with his blue-print and his level. I saw him regarding it from across the street when it was done, and the false work had been taken away. There was no mean satisfaction in his face, and it was no mean feat that satisfied him.

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