Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's okay to laugh because he's making it up. I think.

I am reading Isak Dinesen's Winter's Tales. In the first story, "The Young Man with the Carnation," a fellow named Charlie has an existential crisis and abandons his wife and ends up drinking at an inn in the middle of the night with a bunch of sailors. This is part of their conversation:

"May your coffee do you good," said the captain. "You look as if you had got the fever."

"Nay, but I have had a great sorrow," said Charlie.

The others put on condolent faces, and asked him what sorrow it was.

"I will tell you," said Charlie. "It is better to speak of it, although a little while ago I thought the opposite. I had a tame monkey I was very fond of; his name was Charlie. I had bought him from an old woman who kept a house in Hongkong, and she and I had to smuggle him out in the dead of midday, otherwise the girls would never have let him go, for he was like a brother to them. He was like a brother to me, too. He know all my thoughts, and was always on my side. He had been taught many tricks already when I got him, and he learned more while he was with me. But when I came home the English food did not agree with him, nor did the English Sunday. So he grew sick, and he grew worse, and one Sabbath evening he died."

"That was a pity," said the captain compassionately.

"Yes," said Charlie, "When there is only one person in the world whom you care for, and that is a monkey, and he is dead, then that is a pity."

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