After that they browsed for a minute or two in a semi-detached fashion. Nick found a set of Trollope which had a relatively modest and approachable look among the rest, and took down The Way We Live Now, with an armorial bookplate, the pages uncut. 'What have you found there?' said Lord Kessler, in a genially possessive tone. 'Ah, you're a Trollope man, are you?' 'I'm not sure I am, really, ' said Nick. 'I always think he wrote too fast. What was it Henry James said, about Trollope and his 'great heavy shovelfuls of testimony to constituted English matters'?' Lord Kessler paid a moment's wry respect to this bit of showing off, but said, 'Oh, Trollope's good. He's very good on money.' 'Oh... yes... ' said Nick, feeling doubly disqualified by his complete ignorance of money and by the aesthetic prejudice which had stopped him from ever reading Trollope. 'To be honest, there's a lot of him I haven't yet read.' 'No, this one is pretty good, ' Nick said, gazing at the spine with an air of judicious concession. Sometimes his memory of books he pretended to have read became almost as vivid as that of books he had read and half forgotten, by some fertile process of auto-suggestion. He pressed the volume back into place and closed the gilded cage.
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I can't bear the smell of cigars, can you?' said Lady Partridge. 'Lionel hates it too, ' murmured Rachel. As did Nick, to whom the dry lavatorial stench of cigars signified the inexplicable confidence of other men's tastes and habits, and their readiness to impose them on their fellows.
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Now he had chanced on one of he standard hard-on sessions of the shower, as on both sides of him and across the room three queens sported horizontal members which they turned around from time to time to conceal or display, barely exchanging looks as they resolved. The old men took no interest in this activity, knowing perhaps from long experience that it rarely meant anything or led anywhere, was a brief and helpless surrender to the forcing-house of the shower. In a few seconds the hard-on might pass from one end of the room to the other with the foolish perfection of a Busby Berkeley routine.
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