In the interval between two “rights”

“You said, ‘Sillibus is nothing if not easily daunted,’” said James. “Right,” replied Daimon-Bells. “Well, I should like to know precisely why you would use such a formulation as that, a — phrasing, such as the phrase ‘nothing if not’ — is I believe precisely what you said. Why should you use a formulation or expression of that kind, is what I mean,” James said.

“Right,” replied Daimon-Bells again, “right,” — but his reply was more like “right right,” with one “right” following directly after the other, almost seamlessly; and yet, though nearly seamless, still had James managed to get a word in between the two “rights”: had managed to get some not quite decipherable sound between the two equivalent spoken words, as if there had been only one moment, one microsecond, in which it had been possible to insert a word between D-B’s two “rights”, and James, with his incomprehensible groan, had found it, perfectly cleaved in two the two rights, so to speak, and thus utterly dispelled what would have been the intensifying effect of D-B’s second “right.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, “if you would have preferred that I said it otherwise –” “Yes I would have ‘preferred if you had said it otherwise,’” snarled James with astounding violence. Then he added more calmly, “are you not as tired of these tedious formulaic phrases as I am –? Are you not tired of having no sense at all for the sort of rote formula that come out of your moth?” (Despite the intensity of his feeling James had to smile at himself for having mistakenly said “moth” for “mouth” —  could something come out of one’s moth? But it was interesting: the first thing that came to mind was a moth coming out of one’s mouth — and of course, a moth had come out of his mouth.) Then he corrected himself (but as if only to himself): mouth, he’d of course meant.

“I am apparently not as tired of them as you are,” interrupted Daimon-Bells with an equivalent, if somewhat more jocularly intonated, degree of sternness. (I rejoice in remaining strong before this attack, thought the laughing Bells, completely ignoring the whole ‘moth’ element.) Then he said, not as a question, “right.” And James, in the time he might have said something, gave his thigh two brief sweeps, forward and back, with the tips of his fingers. After a long pause James said, “Right. Right.”

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