He lay back, puffing violently at his cigarette.
"It is strange," Valentine said, seeing he had finished. "You know, to live as I do is no effort to me, and so it is absurd to praise me."
"I won't praise you, but it's outrageous of you to want to feel as I and other men feel."
"Is it? I don't think so. I think it is very natural. My life is a dead calm, and a dead calm is monotonous."
"It's better than an everlasting storm."
"I wonder!" Valentine said. "How curious that I should protect you. I am glad it is so. And yet, Julian, in spite of what you say, I would give a great deal to change souls with you, if only for a day or two. You will laugh at me, but I do long to feel a real, keen temptation. Those agonizing struggles of holy men that one reads of, what can they be like? I can hardly imagine. There have been ascetic