I'M NOT GOING TO CALL HIM A LIAR BEHIND HIS BACK BUT I WOULD SAY IT TO HIS FACE IF HE WAS HERE
Maxim sat there smoking Laskell's cigarettes. He was a frightened man, but not so frightened that he did not conduct the whole business in his high, dramatic way. When the purpose of the visit had become apparent, Laskell saw that not a single detail of it lacked its purpose. He had been a little surprised that Maxim had made a point of introducing himself to Paine and by his own name, even going so far as to impress it on her by making a joke about it to cap Paine's joke about her name. And then Maxim had involved Paine in that long debate on whether today was the twelfth of July or the thirteenth. All this was part of the method of Maxim's madness, for it was exactly his identity that he wanted to establish, the fact of his existence on a certain day. It had slowly appeared that what he had come for was to enlist Laskell's influence with Kermit Simpson to get a job on Kermit's rather foolish magazine. Any job was what he wanted, any job that would put his name on the masthead of The New Era. And the mad, the disgusting, reason for this was his belief that he was not safe unless he acquired what he kept calling an existence by becoming a public fact. He had vanished as a person, and now he could easily be done away with. The idea was so extrava- gant that Laskell received from it his first intimation of the break in Maxim's reason; he had tried to reassure him that things had not yet gone so far that a radical was in danger of being murdered by the police. It was then that Maxim had given evidence of his insanity by his quiet explanation that he did not fear the police but the very Party he had once lived for. No incredulity could shake him, no argument could move him. And in weariness and pity Laskell had telephoned Kermit Simpson at Westport and had used the influence he knew he had with Kermit.It had made an inappropriate ending to the period of Laskell's illness. It had made a distressing ending too, for when Maxim had learned that Laskell was leaving for Connecticut the next morning, he had insisted that they travel together. There was no missing his fear of going alone, his certainty that Laskell's company would be a protection.
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