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45. CHAPTER XLV
Philip soon realised that the spirit which informed his friends was Cronshaw's. It was from him that Lawson got his paradoxes; and even Clutton, who strained after individuality, expressed himself in the terms he had insensibly acquired from the older man. It was his ideas that they bandied about at table, and on his authority they formed their judgments. They made up for the respect with which unconsciously they treated him by laughing at his foibles and lamenting his vices.
"Of course, poor old Cronshaw will never do any good," they said. "He's quite hopeless."
They prided themselves on being alone in appreciating his genius; and though, with the contempt of youth for the follies of middle-age, they patronised him among themselves, they did not fail to look upon it as a feather in their caps if he had chosen a time when only one was there to be particularly wonderful. Cronshaw never came to Gravier's. For the last four years he had lived in squalid conditions with a woman whom only Lawson had once seen, in a tiny apartment on the sixth floor of one of the most dilapidated houses on the Quai des Grands Augustins: Lawson described with gusto the filth, the untidiness, the litter.
"And the stink nearly blew your head off."
"Not at dinner, Lawson," expostulated one of the others.
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