At the time [July 1914] I was sitting in a café with a couple of Belgian friends, a young painter and the writer Crommelynck. We had been spending the afternoon with James Ensor, the greatest modern Belgian painter, a very strange, reserved, hermit of a man, who was much prouder of the rather feeble little polkas and waltzes for military band that he composed than of his amazing paintings, executed in brilliant colours. He had shown us his works, if rather reluctantly - for the idea that someone might want to buy one made him comically anxious. His real dream, as his friends told me, was to sell them at a high price but at the same time to be able to keep them all, because he was as fond of money as of every single one of his own works. Parting from one always cast him into deep despair for a couple of days.