May I Smoke?

February 5, 1931

The mother-in-law of Davidson (who is making a bust of me and at whose house I lunch today), a charming old lady of eighty-four, when – on the point of lighting a cigarette after the meal – I ask her if smoking bothers her, tells us that similar question was put to her, before 1870, by Bismarck, in a train between Paris and Saint-Germain in which she happened to be alone with him.  To which she replied at once:

‘Sir, I do not know.  No one has ever smoked in my presence.’

Bismark immediately had the train stopped so that he could change to another compartment.

                                                                                                    Andre Gide (I&AT)


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