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General Bramble   By: (1885-1967)

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First Page:

GENERAL BRAMBLE

by

ANDRÉ MAUROIS

translated by

JULES CASTIER and RONALD BOSWELL

JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LTD

First Published 1921

First Published in The Week End Library 1931

MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY

MORRISON AND GIBB LTD, LONDON AND EDINBURGH

CONTENTS

I. Portraits II. Diplomacy III. The Tower of Babel IV. A Business Man in the Army V. The Story of Private Biggs VI. An Air Raid VII. Love and the Infant Dundas VIII. A Great Chef IX. Prélude à la Soirée d'un Général X. Private Brommit's Conversion XI. Justice XII. Variations XIII. The Cure XIV. The Beginning of the End XV. Danse Macabre XVI. The Glory of the Garden XVII. Letter from Colonel Parker to Aurelle XVIII. General Bramble's Return

GENERAL BRAMBLE

CHAPTER I

PORTRAITS

"As to what the picture represents, that depends upon who looks at it." Whistler.

The French Mission in its profound wisdom had sent as liaison officer to the Scottish Division a captain of Dragoons whose name was Beltara.

"Are you any relation to the painter, sir?" Aurelle, the interpreter, asked him.

"What did you say?" said the dragoon. "Say that again, will you? You are in the army, aren't you? You are a soldier, for a little time at any rate? and you claim to know that such people as painters exist? You actually admit the existence of that God forsaken species?"

And he related how he had visited the French War Office after he had been wounded, and how an old colonel had made friends with him and had tried to find him a congenial job.

"What's your profession in civilian life, capitaine ?" the old man had asked as he filled in a form.

"I am a painter, sir."

"A painter?" the colonel exclaimed, dumbfounded. "A painter? Why, damn it all!"

And after thinking it over for a minute he added, with the kindly wink of an accomplice in crime, "Well, let's put down nil , eh? It won't look quite so silly."

Captain Beltara and Aurelle soon became inseparable companions. They had the same tastes and different professions, which is the ideal recipe for friendship. Aurelle admired the sketches in which the painter recorded the flexible lines of the Flemish landscape; Beltara was a kindly critic of the young man's rather feeble verses.

"You would perhaps be a poet," he said to him, "if you were not burdened with a certain degree of culture. An artist must be an idiot. The only perfect ones are the sculptors; then come the landscape painters; then painters in general; after them the writers. The critics are not at all stupid; and the really intelligent men never do anything."

"Why shouldn't intelligence have an art of its own, as sensibility has?"

"No, my friend, no. Art is a game; intelligence is a profession. Look at me, for instance; now that I no longer touch my brushes, I sometimes actually catch myself thinking; it's quite alarming."

"You ought to paint some portraits here, mon capitaine . Aren't you tempted? These sunburnt British complexions "

"Of course, my boy, it is tempting; but I haven't got my things with me. Besides, would they consent to sit?"

"Of course they would, for as long as you like. To morrow I'll bring round young Dundas, the aide de camp. He's got nothing to do; he'll be delighted."

Next day Beltara made a three crayon sketch of Lieutenant Dundas. The young aide de camp turned out quite a good sitter; all he asked was to be allowed to do something, which meant shouting his hunting cries, cracking his favourite whip and talking to his dog.

"Ah," said Aurelle, at the end of the sitting, "I like that immensely really. It's so lightly touched it's a mere nothing, and yet the whole of England is there... Continue reading book >>




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