Smoking An Evening Pipe

morning bay lights

My dueling days had long been over. I bore nevertheless the marks of a scratch upon my cheeks, both left and right. These, after all, had lifted me from my class of common peasantry to one of seeming nobility. Even the shoes I wore had lifted me to higher status. They were made, I suppose, by some craftsman in the nether world unheard of and imported to my lakeside home in Switzerland where, for nearly forty years, I have looked upon the smiling lake. At all times, I did conceal that Moses himself had been a Prince and King. And there had been others as well. Some of the young men who visited me became my lovers, some not. I preferred those before whom I could imagine myself saying the words “aquiline” or “athletic.” If they were spotty or even chubby, I gave them some good counsel wrapped in a purple cloth, and bid them on their way. If I had been ever confronted by a Fool, he was a banker. He had claimed my fortunes were close to ruin, that I was approaching shipwreck, that my lassitude, as he dubbed it, had cost me “immensely.” I have worked harder, I told him, than those who built up the entire Wittgenstein fortune, more industriously than the already forgotten Millikens, and so forth, to lose it all in this landlocked Paradise of Sin, I replied. He declined my invitation to play him a game of checkers, and as he left with my dwindling accounts hanging from his two hands, I had him informed, indirectly, that should he choose to visit me at some future point in time, I would have him beheaded at the nearest distance visible before my front gate.

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