Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore
automatico interattivo FGA Translate
Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
legge il testo inglese con una perfetta pronuncia
britannica e con il magico effetto karaoke. Per attivarlo clicca sul
pulsante Ascolta il testo che si trova qui sotto. Puoi anche
selezionare una parola, frase o porzione di testo e ascoltare solo
quella cliccando sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla
porzione di testo selezionata.
Translate: selezionando con il mouse una qualsiasi porzione di testo,
FGA Translate te la traduce istantaneamente in una finestrella pop-up.
Per evitare eventuali conflitti tra ReadSpeaker e FGA Translate puoi
deselezionare quest'ultimo togliendo la spunta qui sopra.
ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
The victor belongs to the spoils.
SHANE LESLIE, GEORGE JEAN NATHAN
AND MAXWELL PERKINS
IN APPRECIATION OF MUCH LITERARY HELP
I. ANTHONY PATCH
II. PORTRAIT OF A SIREN
III. THE CONNOISSEUR OF KISSES
I. THE RADIANT HOUR
III. THE BROKEN LUTE
I. A MATTER OF CIVILIZATION
II. A MATTER OF AESTHETICS
III. NO MATTER!
In 1913, when Anthony Patch was twenty-five, two years were already gone
since irony, the Holy Ghost of this later day, had, theoretically at
least, descended upon him. Irony was the final polish of the shoe, the
ultimate dab of the clothes-brush, a sort of intellectual "There!"--yet
at the brink of this story he has as yet gone no further than the
conscious stage. As you first see him he wonders frequently whether he
is not without honor and slightly mad, a shameful and obscene thinness
glistening on the surface of the world like oil on a clean pond, these
occasions being varied, of course, with those in which he thinks himself
rather an exceptional young man, thoroughly sophisticated, well adjusted
to his environment, and somewhat more significant than any one else
This was his healthy state and it made him cheerful, pleasant, and very
attractive to intelligent men and to all women. In this state he
considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that
the elect would deem worthy and, passing on, would join the dimmer stars
in a nebulous, indeterminate heaven half-way between death and
immortality. Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony
Patch--not a portrait of a man but a distinct and dynamic personality,
opinionated, contemptuous, functioning from within outward--a man who
was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the
sophistry of courage and yet was brave.
A WORTHY MAN AND HIS GIFTED SON
Anthony drew as much consciousness of social security from being the
grandson of Adam J. Patch as he would have had from tracing his line
over the sea to the crusaders. This is inevitable; Virginians and
Bostonians to the contrary notwithstanding, an aristocracy founded
sheerly on money postulates wealth in the particular.
Now Adam J. Patch, more familiarly known as "Cross Patch," left his
father's farm in Tarrytown early in sixty-one to join a New York cavalry
regiment. He came home from the war a major, charged into Wall Street,
and amid much fuss, fume, applause, and ill will he gathered to himself
some seventy-five million dollars.
This occupied his energies until he was fifty-seven years old. It was
then that he determined, after a severe attack of sclerosis, to
consecrate the remainder of his life to the moral regeneration of the
world. He became a reformer among reformers. Emulating the magnificent
efforts of Anthony Comstock, after whom his grandson was named, he
levelled a varied assortment of uppercuts and body-blows at liquor,
literature, vice, art, patent medicines, and Sunday theatres. His mind,
under the influence of that insidious mildew which eventually forms on
all but the few, gave itself up furiously to every indignation of the
age. From an armchair in the office of his Tarrytown estate he directed
against the enormous hypothetical enemy, unrighteousness, a campaign
which went on through fifteen years, during which he displayed himself a
rabid monomaniac, an unqualified nuisance, and an intolerable bore. The
year in which this story opens found him wearying; his campaign had
grown desultory; 1861 was creeping up slowly on 1895; his thoughts ran a
great deal on the Civil War, somewhat on his dead wife and son, almost
infinitesimally on his grandson Anthony.
Early in his career Adam Patch had married an anemic lady of thirty,
Alicia Withers, who brought him one hundred thousand dollars and an
impeccable entré into the banking circles of New York. Immediately and
rather spunkily she had borne him a son and, as if completely
devitalized by the magnificence of this performance, she had thenceforth
effaced herself within the shadowy dimensions of the nursery. The boy,
Adam Ulysses Patch, became an inveterate joiner of clubs, connoisseur of
good form, and driver of tandems--at the astonishing age of twenty-six
he began his memoirs under the title "New York Society as I Have Seen
It." On the rumor of its conception this work was eagerly bid for among
publishers, but as it proved after his death to be immoderately verbose
and overpoweringly dull, it never obtained even a private printing.
This Fifth Avenue Chesterfield married at twenty-two. His wife was
Henrietta Lebrune, the Boston "Society Contralto," and the single child
of the union was, at the request of his grandfather, christened Anthony
Comstock Patch. When he went to Harvard, the Comstock dropped out of his
name to a nether hell of oblivion and was never heard of thereafter.
Young Anthony had one picture of his father and mother together--so
often had it faced his eyes in childhood that it had acquired the
impersonality of furniture, but every one who came into his bedroom
regarded it with interest. It showed a dandy of the nineties, spare and
handsome, standing beside a tall dark lady with a muff and the
suggestion of a bustle. Between them was a little boy with long brown
curls, dressed in a velvet Lord Fauntleroy suit. This was Anthony at
five, the year of his mother's death.
His memories of the Boston Society Contralto were nebulous and musical.
She was a lady who sang, sang, sang, in the music room of their house on
Washington Square--sometimes with guests scattered all about her, the
men with their arms folded, balanced breathlessly on the edges of sofas,
the women with their hands in their laps, occasionally making little
whispers to the men and always clapping very briskly and uttering cooing
cries after each song--and often she sang to Anthony alone, in Italian
or French or in a strange and terrible dialect which she imagined to be
the speech of the Southern negro.
His recollections of the gallant Ulysses, the first man in America to
roll the lapels of his coat, were much more vivid. After Henrietta
Lebrune Patch had "joined another choir," as her widower huskily
remarked from time to time, father and son lived up at grampa's in
Tarrytown, and Ulysses came daily to Anthony's nursery and expelled
pleasant, thick-smelling words for sometimes as much as an hour. He was
continually promising Anthony hunting trips and fishing trips and
excursions to Atlantic City, "oh, some time soon now"; but none of them
ever materialized. One trip they did take; when Anthony was eleven they
went abroad, to England and Switzerland, and there in the best hotel in
Lucerne his father died with much sweating and grunting and crying aloud
for air. In a panic of despair and terror Anthony was brought back to
America, wedded to a vague melancholy that was to stay beside him
through the rest of his life.
PAST AND PERSON OF THE HERO
At eleven he had a horror of death. Within six impressionable years his
parents had died and his grandmother had faded off almost imperceptibly,
until, for the first time since her marriage, her person held for one
day an unquestioned supremacy over her own drawing room. So to Anthony
life was a struggle against death, that waited at every corner. It was
as a concession to his hypochondriacal imagination that he formed the
habit of reading in bed--it soothed him. He read until he was tired and
often fell asleep with the lights still on.
His favorite diversion until he was fourteen was his stamp collection;
enormous, as nearly exhaustive as a boy's could be--his grandfather
considered fatuously that it was teaching him geography. So Anthony kept
up a correspondence with a half dozen "Stamp and Coin" companies and it
was rare that the mail failed to bring him new stamp-books or packages
of glittering approval sheets--there was a mysterious fascination in
transferring his acquisitions interminably from one book to another. His
stamps were his greatest happiness and he bestowed impatient frowns on
any one who interrupted him at play with them; they devoured his
allowance every month, and he lay awake at night musing untiringly on
their variety and many-colored splendor.
At sixteen he had lived almost entirely within himself, an inarticulate
boy, thoroughly un-American, and politely bewildered by his
contemporaries. The two preceding years had been spent in Europe with a
private tutor, who persuaded him that Harvard was the thing; it would
"open doors," it would be a tremendous tonic, it would give him
innumerable self-sacrificing and devoted friends. So he went to
Harvard--there was no other logical thing to be done with him.
Oblivious to the social system, he lived for a while alone and unsought
in a high room in Beck Hall--a slim dark boy of medium height with a shy
sensitive mouth. His allowance was more than liberal. He laid the
foundations for a library by purchasing from a wandering bibliophile
first editions of Swinburne, Meredith, and Hardy, and a yellowed
illegible autograph letter of Keats's, finding later that he had been
amazingly overcharged. He became an exquisite dandy, amassed a rather
pathetic collection of silk pajamas, brocaded dressing-gowns, and
neckties too flamboyant to wear; in this secret finery he would parade
before a mirror in his room or lie stretched in satin along his
window-seat looking down on the yard and realizing dimly this clamor,
breathless and immediate, in which it seemed he was never to have
Curiously enough he found in senior year that he had acquired a position
in his class. He learned that he was looked upon as a rather romantic
figure, a scholar, a recluse, a tower of erudition. This amused him but
secretly pleased him--he began going out, at first a little and then a
great deal. He made the Pudding. He drank--quietly and in the proper
tradition. It was said of him that had he not come to college so young
he might have "done extremely well." In 1909, when he graduated, he was
only twenty years old.
Then abroad again--to Rome this time, where he dallied with architecture
and painting in turn, took up the violin, and wrote some ghastly Italian
sonnets, supposedly the ruminations of a thirteenth-century monk on the
joys of the contemplative life. It became established among his Harvard
intimates that he was in Rome, and those of them who were abroad that
year looked him up and discovered with him, on many moonlight
excursions, much in the city that was older than the Renaissance or
indeed than the republic. Maury Noble, from Philadelphia, for instance,
remained two months, and together they realized the peculiar charm of
Latin women and had a delightful sense of being very young and free in a
civilization that was very old and free. Not a few acquaintances of his
grandfather's called on him, and had he so desired he might have been
"persona grata" with the diplomatic set--indeed, he found that his
inclinations tended more and more toward conviviality, but that long
adolescent aloofness and consequent shyness still dictated to
He returned to America in 1912 because of one of his grandfather's
sudden illnesses, and after an excessively tiresome talk with the
perpetually convalescent old man he decided to put off until his
grandfather's death the idea of living permanently abroad. After a
prolonged search he took an apartment on Fifty-second Street and to all
appearances settled down.
In 1913 Anthony Patch's adjustment of himself to the universe was in
process of consummation. Physically, he had improved since his
undergraduate days--he was still too thin but his shoulders had widened
and his brunette face had lost the frightened look of his freshman year.
He was secretly orderly and in person spick and span--his friends
declared that they had never seen his hair rumpled. His nose was too
sharp; his mouth was one of those unfortunate mirrors of mood inclined
to droop perceptibly in moments of unhappiness, but his blue eyes were
charming, whether alert with intelligence or half closed in an
expression of melancholy humor.
One of those men devoid of the symmetry of feature essential to the
Aryan ideal, he was yet, here and there, considered handsome--moreover,
he was very clean, in appearance and in reality, with that especial
cleanness borrowed from beauty.
THE REPROACHLESS APARTMENT
Fifth and Sixth Avenues, it seemed to Anthony, were the uprights of a
gigantic ladder stretching from Washington Square to Central Park.
Coming up-town on top of a bus toward Fifty-second Street invariably
gave him the sensation of hoisting himself hand by hand on a series of
treacherous rungs, and when the bus jolted to a stop at his own rung he
found something akin to relief as he descended the reckless metal steps
to the sidewalk.
After that, he had but to walk down Fifty-second Street half a block,
pass a stodgy family of brownstone houses--and then in a jiffy he was
under the high ceilings of his great front room. This was entirely
satisfactory. Here, after all, life began. Here he slept, breakfasted,
read, and entertained.
The house itself was of murky material, built in the late nineties; in
response to the steadily growing need of small apartments each floor had
been thoroughly remodelled and rented individually. Of the four
apartments Anthony's, on the second floor, was the most desirable.
The front room had fine high ceilings and three large windows that
loomed down pleasantly upon Fifty-second Street. In its appointments it
escaped by a safe margin being of any particular period; it escaped
stiffness, stuffiness, bareness, and decadence. It smelt neither of
smoke nor of incense--it was tall and faintly blue. There was a deep
lounge of the softest brown leather with somnolence drifting about it
like a haze. There was a high screen of Chinese lacquer chiefly
concerned with geometrical fishermen and huntsmen in black and gold;
this made a corner alcove for a voluminous chair guarded by an
orange-colored standing lamp. Deep in the fireplace a quartered shield
was burned to a murky black.
Passing through the dining-room, which, as Anthony took only breakfast
at home, was merely a magnificent potentiality, and down a comparatively
long hall, one came to the heart and core of the apartment--Anthony's
bedroom and bath.
Both of them were immense. Under the ceilings of the former even the
great canopied bed seemed of only average size. On the floor an exotic
rug of crimson velvet was soft as fleece on his bare feet. His bathroom,
in contrast to the rather portentous character of his bedroom, was gay,
bright, extremely habitable and even faintly facetious. Framed around
the walls were photographs of four celebrated thespian beauties of the
day: Julia Sanderson as "The Sunshine Girl," Ina Claire as "The Quaker
Girl," Billie Burke as "The Mind-the-Paint Girl," and Hazel Dawn as "The
Pink Lady." Between Billie Burke and Hazel Dawn hung a print
representing a great stretch of snow presided over by a cold and
formidable sun--this, claimed Anthony, symbolized the cold shower.
The bathtub, equipped with an ingenious bookholder, was low and large.
Beside it a wall wardrobe bulged with sufficient linen for three men and
with a generation of neckties. There was no skimpy glorified towel of a
carpet--instead, a rich rug, like the one in his bedroom a miracle of
softness, that seemed almost to massage the wet foot emerging from
All in all a room to conjure with--it was easy to see that Anthony
dressed there, arranged his immaculate hair there, in fact did
everything but sleep and eat there. It was his pride, this bathroom. He
felt that if he had a love he would have hung her picture just facing
the tub so that, lost in the soothing steamings of the hot water, he
might lie and look up at her and muse warmly and sensuously on
NOR DOES HE SPIN
The apartment was kept clean by an English servant with the singularly,
almost theatrically, appropriate name of Bounds, whose technic was
marred only by the fact that he wore a soft collar. Had he been entirely
Anthony's Bounds this defect would have been summarily remedied, but he
was also the Bounds of two other gentlemen in the neighborhood. From
eight until eleven in the morning he was entirely Anthony's. He arrived
with the mail and cooked breakfast. At nine-thirty he pulled the edge of
Anthony's blanket and spoke a few terse words--Anthony never remembered
clearly what they were and rather suspected they were deprecative; then
he served breakfast on a card-table in the front room, made the bed and,
after asking with some hostility if there was anything else, withdrew.
In the mornings, at least once a week, Anthony went to see his broker.
His income was slightly under seven thousand a year, the interest on
money inherited from his mother. His grandfather, who had never allowed
his own son to graduate from a very liberal allowance, judged that this
sum was sufficient for young Anthony's needs. Every Christmas he sent
him a five-hundred-dollar bond, which Anthony usually sold, if possible,
as he was always a little, not very, hard up.
The visits to his broker varied from semi-social chats to discussions of
the safety of eight per cent investments, and Anthony always enjoyed
them. The big trust company building seemed to link him definitely to
the great fortunes whose solidarity he respected and to assure him that
he was adequately chaperoned by the hierarchy of finance. From these
hurried men he derived the same sense of safety that he had in
contemplating his grandfather's money--even more, for the latter
appeared, vaguely, a demand loan made by the world to Adam Patch's own
moral righteousness, while this money down-town seemed rather to have
been grasped and held by sheer indomitable strengths and tremendous
feats of will; in addition, it seemed more definitely and
Closely as Anthony trod on the heels of his income, he considered it to
be enough. Some golden day, of course, he would have many millions;
meanwhile he possessed a "raison d'etre" in the theoretical creation of
essays on the popes of the Renaissance. This flashes back to the
conversation with his grandfather immediately upon his return from Rome.
He had hoped to find his grandfather dead, but had learned by
telephoning from the pier that Adam Patch was comparatively well
again--the next day he had concealed his disappointment and gone out to
Tarrytown. Five miles from the station his taxicab entered an
elaborately groomed drive that threaded a veritable maze of walls and
wire fences guarding the estate--this, said the public, was because it
was definitely known that if the Socialists had their way, one of the
first men they'd assassinate would be old Cross Patch.
Anthony was late and the venerable philanthropist was awaiting him in a
glass-walled sun parlor, where he was glancing through the morning
papers for the second time. His secretary, Edward Shuttleworth--who
before his regeneration had been gambler, saloon-keeper, and general
reprobate--ushered Anthony into the room, exhibiting his redeemer and
benefactor as though he were displaying a treasure of immense value.
They shook hands gravely. "I'm awfully glad to hear you're better,"
The senior Patch, with an air of having seen his grandson only last
week, pulled out his watch.
"Train late?" he asked mildly.
It had irritated him to wait for Anthony. He was under the delusion not
only that in his youth he had handled his practical affairs with the
utmost scrupulousness, even to keeping every engagement on the dot, but
also that this was the direct and primary cause of his success.
"It's been late a good deal this month," he remarked with a shade of
meek accusation in his voice--and then after a long sigh, "Sit down."
Anthony surveyed his grandfather with that tacit amazement which always
attended the sight. That this feeble, unintelligent old man was
possessed of such power that, yellow journals to the contrary, the men
in the republic whose souls he could not have bought directly or
indirectly would scarcely have populated White Plains, seemed as
impossible to believe as that he had once been a pink-and-white baby.
The span of his seventy-five years had acted as a magic bellows--the
first quarter-century had blown him full with life, and the last had
sucked it all back. It had sucked in the cheeks and the chest and the
girth of arm and leg. It had tyrannously demanded his teeth, one by one,
suspended his small eyes in dark-bluish sacks, tweeked out his hairs,
changed him from gray to white in some places, from pink to yellow in
others--callously transposing his colors like a child trying over a
paintbox. Then through his body and his soul it had attacked his brain.
It had sent him night-sweats and tears and unfounded dreads. It had
split his intense normality into credulity and suspicion. Out of the
coarse material of his enthusiasm it had cut dozens of meek but petulant
obsessions; his energy was shrunk to the bad temper of a spoiled child,
and for his will to power was substituted a fatuous puerile desire for a
land of harps and canticles on earth.
The amenities having been gingerly touched upon, Anthony felt that he
was expected to outline his intentions--and simultaneously a glimmer in
the old man's eye warned him against broaching, for the present, his
desire to live abroad. He wished that Shuttleworth would have tact
enough to leave the room--he detested Shuttleworth--but the secretary
had settled blandly in a rocker and was dividing between the two Patches
the glances of his faded eyes.
"Now that you're here you ought to "do" something," said his grandfather
softly, "accomplish something."
Anthony waited for him to speak of "leaving something done when you pass
on." Then he made a suggestion:
"I thought--it seemed to me that perhaps I'm best qualified to write--"
Adam Patch winced, visualizing a family poet with a long hair and three
"--history," finished Anthony.
"History? History of what? The Civil War? The Revolution?"
"Why--no, sir. A history of the Middle Ages." Simultaneously an idea was
born for a history of the Renaissance popes, written from some novel
angle. Still, he was glad he had said "Middle Ages."
"Middle Ages? Why not your own country? Something you know about?"
"Well, you see I've lived so much abroad--"
"Why you should write about the Middle Ages, I don't know. Dark Ages, we
used to call 'em. Nobody knows what happened, and nobody cares, except
that they're over now." He continued for some minutes on the uselessness
of such information, touching, naturally, on the Spanish Inquisition and
the "corruption of the monasteries." Then:
"Do you think you'll be able to do any work in New York--or do you
really intend to work at all?" This last with soft, almost
"Why, yes, I do, sir."
"When'll you be done?"
"Well, there'll be an outline, you see--and a lot of preliminary
"I should think you'd have done enough of that already."
The conversation worked itself jerkily toward a rather abrupt
conclusion, when Anthony rose, looked at his watch, and remarked that he
had an engagement with his broker that afternoon. He had intended to
stay a few days with his grandfather, but he was tired and irritated
from a rough crossing, and quite unwilling to stand a subtle and
sanctimonious browbeating. He would come out again in a few days,
Nevertheless, it was due to this encounter that work had come into his
life as a permanent idea. During the year that had passed since then, he
had made several lists of authorities, he had even experimented with
chapter titles and the division of his work into periods, but not one
line of actual writing existed at present, or seemed likely ever to
exist. He did nothing--and contrary to the most accredited copy-book
logic, he managed to divert himself with more than average content.
It was October in 1913, midway in a week of pleasant days, with the
sunshine loitering in the cross-streets and the atmosphere so languid as
to seem weighted with ghostly falling leaves. It was pleasant to sit
lazily by the open window finishing a chapter of "Erewhon." It was
pleasant to yawn about five, toss the book on a table, and saunter
humming along the hall to his bath.
"To ... you ... beaut-if-ul lady,"
he was singing as he turned on the tap.
"I raise ... my ... eyes;
To ... you ... beaut-if-ul la-a-dy
My ... heart ... cries--"
He raised his voice to compete with the flood of water pouring into the
tub, and as he looked at the picture of Hazel Dawn upon the wall he put
an imaginary violin to his shoulder and softly caressed it with a
phantom bow. Through his closed lips he made a humming noise, which he
vaguely imagined resembled the sound of a violin. After a moment his
hands ceased their gyrations and wandered to his shirt, which he began
to unfasten. Stripped, and adopting an athletic posture like the
tiger-skin man in the advertisement, he regarded himself with some
satisfaction in the mirror, breaking off to dabble a tentative foot in
the tub. Readjusting a faucet and indulging in a few preliminary grunts,
he slid in.
Once accustomed to the temperature of the water he relaxed into a state
of drowsy content. When he finished his bath he would dress leisurely
and walk down Fifth Avenue to the Ritz, where he had an appointment for
dinner with his two most frequent companions, Dick Caramel and Maury
Noble. Afterward he and Maury were going to the theatre--Caramel would
probably trot home and work on his book, which ought to be finished
Anthony was glad "he" wasn't going to work on "his" book. The notion of
sitting down and conjuring up, not only words in which to clothe
thoughts but thoughts worthy of being clothed--the whole thing was
absurdly beyond his desires.
Emerging from his bath he polished himself with the meticulous attention
of a bootblack. Then he wandered into the bedroom, and whistling the
while a weird, uncertain melody, strolled here and there buttoning,
adjusting, and enjoying the warmth of the thick carpet on his feet.
He lit a cigarette, tossed the match out the open top of the window,
then paused in his tracks with the cigarette two inches from his
mouth--which fell faintly ajar. His eyes were focussed upon a spot of
brilliant color on the roof of a house farther down the alley.
It was a girl in a red negligé, silk surely, drying her hair by the
still hot sun of late afternoon. His whistle died upon the stiff air of
the room; he walked cautiously another step nearer the window with a
sudden impression that she was beautiful. Sitting on the stone parapet
beside her was a cushion the same color as her garment and she was
leaning both arms upon it as she looked down into the sunny areaway,
where Anthony could hear children playing.
He watched her for several minutes. Something was stirred in him,
something not accounted for by the warm smell of the afternoon or the
triumphant vividness of red. He felt persistently that the girl was
beautiful--then of a sudden he understood: it was her distance, not a
rare and precious distance of soul but still distance, if only in
terrestrial yards. The autumn air was between them, and the roofs and
the blurred voices. Yet for a not altogether explained second, posing
perversely in time, his emotion had been nearer to adoration than in the
deepest kiss he had ever known.
He finished his dressing, found a black bow tie and adjusted it
carefully by the three-sided mirror in the bathroom. Then yielding to an
impulse he walked quickly into the bedroom and again looked out the
window. The woman was standing up now; she had tossed her hair back and
he had a full view of her. She was fat, full thirty-five, utterly
undistinguished. Making a clicking noise with his mouth he returned to
the bathroom and reparted his hair.
"To ... you ... beaut-if-ul lady,"
he sang lightly,
"I raise ... my ... eyes--"
Then with a last soothing brush that left an iridescent surface of sheer
gloss he left his bathroom and his apartment and walked down Fifth
Avenue to the Ritz-Carlton.
At seven Anthony and his friend Maury Noble are sitting at a corner
table on the cool roof. Maury Noble is like nothing so much as a large
slender and imposing cat. His eyes are narrow and full of incessant,
protracted blinks. His hair is smooth and flat, as though it has been
licked by a possible--and, if so, Herculean--mother-cat. During
Anthony's time at Harvard he had been considered the most unique figure
in his class, the most brilliant, the most original--smart, quiet and
among the saved.
This is the man whom Anthony considers his best friend. This is the only
man of all his acquaintance whom he admires and, to a bigger extent than
he likes to admit to himself, envies.
They are glad to see each other now--their eyes are full of kindness as
each feels the full effect of novelty after a short separation. They are
drawing a relaxation from each other's presence, a new serenity; Maury
Noble behind that fine and absurdly catlike face is all but purring. And
Anthony, nervous as a will-o'-the-wisp, restless--he is at rest now.
They are engaged in one of those easy short-speech conversations that
only men under thirty or men under great stress indulge in.
ANTHONY: Seven o'clock. Where's the Caramel? "(Impatiently.)" I wish
he'd finish that interminable novel. I've spent more time hungry----
MAURY: He's got a new name for it. "The Demon Lover "--not bad, eh?
ANTHONY: "(interested)" "The Demon Lover"? Oh "woman wailing"--No--not a
bit bad! Not bad at all--d'you think?
MAURY: Rather good. What time did you say?
MAURY:"(His eyes narrowing--not unpleasantly, but to express a faint
disapproval)" Drove me crazy the other day.
MAURY: That habit of taking notes.
ANTHONY: Me, too. Seems I'd said something night before that he
considered material but he'd forgotten it--so he had at me. He'd say
"Can't you try to concentrate?" And I'd say "You bore me to tears. How
do I remember?"
"(MAURY laughs noiselessly, by a sort of bland and appreciative widening
of his features.)"
MAURY: Dick doesn't necessarily see more than any one else. He merely
can put down a larger proportion of what he sees.
ANTHONY: That rather impressive talent----
MAURY: Oh, yes. Impressive!
ANTHONY: And energy--ambitious, well-directed energy. He's so
entertaining--he's so tremendously stimulating and exciting. Often
there's something breathless in being with him.
MAURY: Oh, yes. "(Silence, and then:)"
ANTHONY: "(With his thin, somewhat uncertain face at its most convinced)
"But not indomitable energy. Some day, bit by bit, it'll blow away, and
his rather impressive talent with it, and leave only a wisp of a man,
fretful and egotistic and garrulous.
MAURY: "(With laughter)" Here we sit vowing to each other that little
Dick sees less deeply into things than we do. And I'll bet he feels a
measure of superiority on his side--creative mind over merely critical
mind and all that.
ANTHONY: Oh, yes. But he's wrong. He's inclined to fall for a million
silly enthusiasms. If it wasn't that he's absorbed in realism and
therefore has to adopt the garments of the cynic he'd be--he'd be
credulous as a college religious leader. He's an idealist. Oh, yes. He
thinks he's not, because he's rejected Christianity. Remember him in
college? just swallow every writer whole, one after another, ideas,
technic, and characters, Chesterton, Shaw, Wells, each one as easily
as the last.
MAURY:"(Still considering his own last observation)" I remember.
ANTHONY: It's true. Natural born fetich-worshipper. Take art--
MAURY: Let's order. He'll be--
ANTHONY: Sure. Let's order. I told him--
MAURY: Here he comes. Look--he's going to bump that waiter. "(He lifts
his finger as a signal--lifts it as though it were a soft and friendly
claw.)" Here y'are, Caramel.
A NEW VOICE: "(Fiercely)" Hello, Maury. Hello, Anthony Comstock Patch.
How is old Adam's grandson? Débutantes still after you, eh?
"In person" RICHARD CARAMEL "is short and fair--he is to be bald at
thirty-five. He has yellowish eyes--one of them startlingly clear, the
other opaque as a muddy pool--and a bulging brow like a funny-paper
baby. He bulges in other places--his paunch bulges, prophetically, his
words have an air of bulging from his mouth, even his dinner coat
pockets bulge, as though from contamination, with a dog-eared collection
of time-tables, programmes, and miscellaneous scraps--on these he takes
his notes with great screwings up of his unmatched yellow eyes and
motions of silence with his disengaged left hand."
"When he reaches the table he shakes hands with ANTHONY and MAURY. He is
one of those men who invariably shake hands, even with people whom they
have seen an hour before."
ANTHONY: Hello, Caramel. Glad you're here. We needed a comic relief.
MAURY: You're late. Been racing the postman down the block? We've been
clawing over your character.
DICK: ("Fixing" ANTHONY "eagerly with the bright eye") What'd you say?
Tell me and I'll write it down. Cut three thousand words out of Part One
MAURY: Noble aesthete. And I poured alcohol into my stomach.
DICK: I don't doubt it. I bet you two have been sitting here for an hour
talking about liquor.
ANTHONY: We never pass out, my beardless boy.
MAURY: We never go home with ladies we meet when we're lit.
ANTHONY: All in our parties are characterized by a certain haughty
DICK: The particularly silly sort who boast about being "tanks"! Trouble
is you're both in the eighteenth century. School of the Old English
Squire. Drink quietly until you roll under the table. Never have a good
time. Oh, no, that isn't done at all.
ANTHONY: This from Chapter Six, I'll bet.
DICK: Going to the theatre?
MAURY: Yes. We intend to spend the evening doing some deep thinking over
of life's problems. The thing is tersely called "The Woman." I presume
that she will "pay."
ANTHONY: My God! Is that what it is? Let's go to the Follies again.
MAURY: I'm tired of it. I've seen it three times. ("To DICK:") The first
time, we went out after Act One and found a most amazing bar. When we
came back we entered the wrong theatre.
ANTHONY: Had a protracted dispute with a scared young couple we thought
were in our seats.
DICK: ("As though talking to himself") I think--that when I've done
another novel and a play, and maybe a book of short stories, I'll do a
MAURY: I know--with intellectual lyrics that no one will listen to. And
all the critics will groan and grunt about "Dear old Pinafore." And I
shall go on shining as a brilliantly meaningless figure in a
DICK: ("Pompously") Art isn't meaningless.
MAURY: It is in itself. It isn't in that it tries to make life less so.
ANTHONY: In other words, Dick, you're playing before a grand stand
peopled with ghosts.
MAURY: Give a good show anyhow.
ANTHONY:(To MAURY) On the contrary, I'd feel that it being a meaningless
world, why write? The very attempt to give it purpose is purposeless.
DICK: Well, even admitting all that, be a decent pragmatist and grant a
poor man the instinct to live. Would you want every one to accept that
ANTHONY: Yeah, I suppose so.
MAURY: No, sir! I believe that every one in America but a selected
thousand should be compelled to accept a very rigid system of
morals--Roman Catholicism, for instance. I don't complain of
conventional morality. I complain rather of the mediocre heretics who
seize upon the findings of sophistication and adopt the pose of a moral
freedom to which they are by no means entitled by their intelligences.
("Here the soup arrives and what MAURY might have gone on to say is lost
for all time.")
Afterward they visited a ticket speculator and, at a price, obtained
seats for a new musical comedy called "High Jinks." In the foyer of the
theatre they waited a few moments to see the first-night crowd come in.
There were opera cloaks stitched of myriad, many-colored silks and furs;
there were jewels dripping from arms and throats and ear-tips of white
and rose; there were innumerable broad shimmers down the middles of
innumerable silk hats; there were shoes of gold and bronze and red and
shining black; there were the high-piled, tight-packed coiffures of many
women and the slick, watered hair of well-kept men--most of all there
was the ebbing, flowing, chattering, chuckling, foaming, slow-rolling
wave effect of this cheerful sea of people as to-night it poured its
glittering torrent into the artificial lake of laughter....
After the play they parted--Maury was going to a dance at Sherry's,
Anthony homeward and to bed.
He found his way slowly over the jostled evening mass of Times Square,
which the chariot race and its thousand satellites made rarely beautiful
and bright and intimate with carnival. Faces swirled about him, a
kaleidoscope of girls, ugly, ugly as sin--too fat, too lean, yet
floating upon this autumn air as upon their own warm and passionate
breaths poured out into the night. Here, for all their vulgarity, he
thought, they were faintly and subtly mysterious. He inhaled carefully,
swallowing into his lungs perfume and the not unpleasant scent of many
cigarettes. He caught the glance of a dark young beauty sitting alone in
a closed taxicab. Her eyes in the half-light suggested night and
violets, and for a moment he stirred again to that half-forgotten
remoteness of the afternoon.
Two young Jewish men passed him, talking in loud voices and craning
their necks here and there in fatuous supercilious glances. They were
dressed in suits of the exaggerated tightness then semi-fashionable;
their turned over collars were notched at the Adam's apple; they wore
gray spats and carried gray gloves on their cane handles.
Passed a bewildered old lady borne along like a basket of eggs between
two men who exclaimed to her of the wonders of Times Square--explained
them so quickly that the old lady, trying to be impartially interested,
waved her head here and there like a piece of wind-worried old
orange-peel. Anthony heard a snatch of their conversation:
"There's the Astor, mama!"
"Look! See the chariot race sign----"
"There's where we were to-day. No, "there!""
"Good gracious! ..."
"You should worry and grow thin like a dime." He recognized the current
witticism of the year as it issued stridently from one of the pairs at
"And I says to him, I says----"
The soft rush of taxis by him, and laughter, laughter hoarse as a
crow's, incessant and loud, with the rumble of the subways
underneath--and over all, the revolutions of light, the growings and
recedings of light--light dividing like pearls--forming and reforming in
glittering bars and circles and monstrous grotesque figures cut
amazingly on the sky.
He turned thankfully down the hush that blew like a dark wind out of a
cross-street, passed a bakery-restaurant in whose windows a dozen roast
chickens turned over and over on an automatic spit. From the door came a
smell that was hot, doughy, and pink. A drug-store next, exhaling
medicines, spilt soda water and a pleasant undertone from the cosmetic
counter; then a Chinese laundry, still open, steamy and stifling,
smelling folded and vaguely yellow. All these depressed him; reaching
Sixth Avenue he stopped at a corner cigar store and emerged feeling
better--the cigar store was cheerful, humanity in a navy blue mist,
buying a luxury ....
Once in his apartment he smoked a last cigarette, sitting in the dark by
his open front window. For the first time in over a year he found
himself thoroughly enjoying New York. There was a rare pungency in it
certainly, a quality almost Southern. A lonesome town, though. He who
had grown up alone had lately learned to avoid solitude. During the past
several months he had been careful, when he had no engagement for the
evening, to hurry to one of his clubs and find some one. Oh, there was a
His cigarette, its smoke bordering the thin folds of curtain with rims
of faint white spray, glowed on until the clock in St. Anne's down the
street struck one with a querulous fashionable beauty. The elevated,
half a quiet block away, sounded a rumble of drums--and should he lean
from his window he would see the train, like an angry eagle, breasting
the dark curve at the corner. He was reminded of a fantastic romance he
had lately read in which cities had been bombed from aerial trains, and
for a moment he fancied that Washington Square had declared war on
Central Park and that this was a north-bound menace loaded with battle
and sudden death. But as it passed the illusion faded; it diminished to
the faintest of drums--then to a far-away droning eagle.
There were the bells and the continued low blur of auto horns from Fifth
Avenue, but his own street was silent and he was safe in here from all
the threat of life, for there was his door and the long hall and his
guardian bedroom--safe, safe! The arc-light shining into his window
seemed for this hour like the moon, only brighter and more beautiful
than the moon.
A FLASH-BACK IN PARADISE
"Beauty, who was born anew every hundred years, sat in a sort of outdoor
waiting room through which blew gusts of white wind and occasionally a
breathless hurried star. The stars winked at her intimately as they went
by and the winds made a soft incessant flurry in her hair. She was
incomprehensible, for, in her, soul and spirit were one--the beauty of
her body was the essence of her soul. She was that unity sought for by
philosophers through many centuries. In this outdoor waiting room of
winds and stars she had been sitting for a hundred years, at peace in
the contemplation of herself."
"It became known to her, at length, that she was to be born again.
Sighing, she began a long conversation with a voice that was in the
white wind, a conversation that took many hours and of which I can give
only a fragment here."
BEAUTY: ("Her lips scarcely stirring, her eyes turned, as always, inward
upon herself") Whither shall I journey now?
THE VOICE: To a new country--a land you have never seen before.
BEAUTY: ("Petulantly") I loathe breaking into these new civilizations.
How long a stay this time?
THE VOICE: Fifteen years.
BEAUTY: And what's the name of the place?
THE VOICE: It is the most opulent, most gorgeous land on earth--a land
whose wisest are but little wiser than its dullest; a land where the
rulers have minds like little children and the law-givers believe in
Santa Claus; where ugly women control strong men----
BEAUTY: ("In astonishment") What?
THE VOICE: ("Very much depressed") Yes, it is truly a melancholy
spectacle. Women with receding chins and shapeless noses go about in
broad daylight saying "Do this!" and "Do that!" and all the men, even
those of great wealth, obey implicitly their women to whom they refer
sonorously either as "Mrs. So-and-so" or as "the wife."
BEAUTY: But this can't be true! I can understand, of course, their
obedience to women of charm--but to fat women? to bony women? to women
with scrawny cheeks?
THE VOICE: Even so.
BEAUTY: What of me? What chance shall I have?
THE VOICE: It will be "harder going," if I may borrow a phrase.
BEAUTY: ("After a dissatisfied pause") Why not the old lands, the land
of grapes and soft-tongued men or the land of ships and seas?
THE VOICE: It's expected that they'll be very busy shortly.
THE VOICE: Your life on earth will be, as always, the interval between
two significant glances in a mundane mirror.
BEAUTY: What will I be? Tell me?
THE VOICE: At first it was thought that you would go this time as an
actress in the motion pictures but, after all, it's not advisable. You
will be disguised during your fifteen years as what is called a
BEAUTY: What's that?
("There is a new sound in the wind which must for our purposes be
interpreted as" THE VOICE "scratching its head.")
THE VOICE: ("At length") It's a sort of bogus aristocrat.
BEAUTY: Bogus? What is bogus?
THE VOICE: That, too, you will discover in this land. You will find much
that is bogus. Also, you will do much that is bogus.
BEAUTY: ("Placidly") It all sounds so vulgar.
THE VOICE: Not half as vulgar as it is. You will be known during your
fifteen years as a ragtime kid, a flapper, a jazz-baby, and a baby vamp.
You will dance new dances neither more nor less gracefully than you
danced the old ones.
BEAUTY: ("In a whisper") Will I be paid?
THE VOICE: Yes, as usual--in love.
BEAUTY: ("With a faint laugh which disturbs only momentarily the
immobility of her lips") And will I like being called a jazz-baby?
THE VOICE: ("Soberly") You will love it....
("The dialogue ends here, with" BEAUTY "still sitting quietly, the stars
pausing in an ecstasy of appreciation, the wind, white and gusty,
blowing through her hair."
"All this took place seven years before" ANTHONY "sat by the front
windows of his apartment and listened to the chimes of St. Anne's".)
PORTRAIT OF A SIREN
Crispness folded down upon New York a month later, bringing November and
the three big football games and a great fluttering of furs along Fifth
Avenue. It brought, also, a sense of tension to the city, and suppressed
excitement. Every morning now there were invitations in Anthony's mail.
Three dozen virtuous females of the first layer were proclaiming their
fitness, if not their specific willingness, to bear children unto three
dozen millionaires. Five dozen virtuous females of the second layer were
proclaiming not only this fitness, but in addition a tremendous
undaunted ambition toward the first three dozen young men, who were of
course invited to each of the ninety-six parties--as were the young
lady's group of family friends, acquaintances, college boys, and eager
young outsiders. To continue, there was a third layer from the skirts of
the city, from Newark and the Jersey suburbs up to bitter Connecticut
and the ineligible sections of Long Island--and doubtless contiguous
layers down to the city's shoes: Jewesses were coming out into a society
of Jewish men and women, from Riverside to the Bronx, and looking
forward to a rising young broker or jeweller and a kosher wedding; Irish
girls were casting their eyes, with license at last to do so, upon a
society of young Tammany politicians, pious undertakers, and grown-up
And, naturally, the city caught the contagious air of entré--the working
girls, poor ugly souls, wrapping soap in the factories and showing
finery in the big stores, dreamed that perhaps in the spectacular
excitement of this winter they might obtain for themselves the coveted
male--as in a muddled carnival crowd an inefficient pickpocket may
consider his chances increased. And the chimneys commenced to smoke and
the subway's foulness was freshened. And the actresses came out in new
plays and the publishers came out with new books and the Castles came
out with new dances. And the railroads came out with new schedules
containing new mistakes instead of the old ones that the commuters had
grown used to....
The City was coming out!
Anthony, walking along Forty-second Street one afternoon under a
steel-gray sky, ran unexpectedly into Richard Caramel emerging from the
Manhattan Hotel barber shop. It was a cold day, the first definitely
cold day, and Caramel had on one of those knee-length, sheep-lined coats
long worn by the working men of the Middle West, that were just coming
into fashionable approval. His soft hat was of a discreet dark brown,
and from under it his clear eye flamed like a topaz. He stopped Anthony
enthusiastically, slapping him on the arms more from a desire to keep
himself warm than from playfulness, and, after his inevitable hand
shake, exploded into sound.
"Cold as the devil--Good Lord, I've been working like the deuce all day
till my room got so cold I thought I'd get pneumonia. Darn landlady
economizing on coal came up when I yelled over the stairs for her for
half an hour. Began explaining why and all. God! First she drove me
crazy, then I began to think she was sort of a character, and took notes
while she talked--so she couldn't see me, you know, just as though I
were writing casually--"
He had seized Anthony's arm and walking him briskly up Madison Avenue.
"Nowhere in particular."
"Well, then what's the use?" demanded Anthony.
They stopped and stared at each other, and Anthony wondered if the cold
made his own face as repellent as Dick Caramel's, whose nose was
crimson, whose bulging brow was blue, whose yellow unmatched eyes were
red and watery at the rims. After a moment they began walking again.
"Done some good work on my novel." Dick was looking and talking
emphatically at the sidewalk. "But I have to get out once in a while."
He glanced at Anthony apologetically, as though craving encouragement.
"I have to talk. I guess very few people ever really "think", I mean sit
down and ponder and have ideas in sequence. I do my thinking in writing
or conversation. You've got to have a start, sort of--something to
defend or contradict--don't you think?"
Anthony grunted and withdrew his arm gently.
"I don't mind carrying you, Dick, but with that coat--"
"I mean," continued Richard Caramel gravely, "that on paper your first
paragraph contains the idea you're going to damn or enlarge on. In
conversation you've got your vis-à-vis's last statement--but when you
simply "ponder", why, your ideas just succeed each other like
magic-lantern pictures and each one forces out the last."
They passed Forty-fifth Street and slowed down slightly. Both of them
lit cigarettes and blew tremendous clouds of smoke and frosted breath
into the air.
"Let's walk up to the Plaza and have an egg-nog," suggested Anthony. "Do
you good. Air'll get the rotten nicotine out of your lungs. Come
on--I'll let you talk about your book all the way."
"I don't want to if it bores you. I mean you needn't do it as a favor."
The words tumbled out in haste, and though he tried to keep his face
casual it screwed up uncertainly. Anthony was compelled to protest:
"Bore me? I should say not!"
"Got a cousin--" began Dick, but Anthony interrupted by stretching out
his arms and breathing forth a low cry of exultation.
"Good weather!" he exclaimed, "isn't it? Makes me feel about ten. I mean
it makes me feel as I should have felt when I was ten. Murderous! Oh,
God! one minute it's my world, and the next I'm the world's fool. To-day
it's my world and everything's easy, easy. Even Nothing is easy!"
"Got a cousin up at the Plaza. Famous girl. We can go up and meet her.
She lives there in the winter--has lately anyway--with her mother
"Didn't know you had cousins in New York."
"Her name's Gloria. She's from home--Kansas City. Her mother's a
practising Bilphist, and her father's quite dull but a perfect
"What are they? Literary material?"
"They try to be. All the old man does is tell me he just met the most
wonderful character for a novel. Then he tells me about some idiotic
friend of his and then he says: '"There"'s a character for you! Why
don't you write him up? Everybody'd be interested in "him".' Or else he
tells me about Japan or Paris, or some other very obvious place, and
says: 'Why don't you write a story about that place? That'd be a
wonderful setting for a story!'"
"How about the girl?" inquired Anthony casually, "Gloria--Gloria what?"
"Gilbert. Oh, you've heard of her--Gloria Gilbert. Goes to dances at
colleges--all that sort of thing."
"I've heard her name."
"Good-looking--in fact damned attractive."
They reached Fiftieth Street and turned over toward the Avenue.
"I don't care for young girls as a rule," said Anthony, frowning.
This was not strictly true. While it seemed to him that the average
debutante spent every hour of her day thinking and talking about what
the great world had mapped out for her to do during the next hour, any
girl who made a living directly on her prettiness interested him
"Gloria's darn nice--not a brain in her head."
Anthony laughed in a one-syllabled snort.
"By that you mean that she hasn't a line of literary patter."
"No, I don't."
"Dick, you know what passes as brains in a girl for you. Earnest young
women who sit with you in a corner and talk earnestly about life. The
kind who when they were sixteen argued with grave faces as to whether
kissing was right or wrong--and whether it was immoral for freshmen to
Richard Caramel was offended. His scowl crinkled like crushed paper.
"No--" he began, but Anthony interrupted ruthlessly.
"Oh, yes; kind who just at present sit in corners and confer on the
latest Scandinavian Dante available in English translation."
Dick turned to him, a curious falling in his whole countenance. His
question was almost an appeal.
"What's the matter with you and Maury? You talk sometimes as though I
were a sort of inferior."
Anthony was confused, but he was also cold and a little uncomfortable,
so he took refuge in attack.
"I don't think your brains matter, Dick."
"Of course they matter!" exclaimed Dick angrily. "What do you mean? Why
don't they matter?"
"You might know too much for your pen."
"I couldn't possibly."
"I can imagine," insisted Anthony, "a man knowing too much for his
talent to express. Like me. Suppose, for instance, I have more wisdom
than you, and less talent. It would tend to make me inarticulate. You,
on the contrary, have enough water to fill the pail and a big enough
pail to hold the water."
"I don't follow you at all," complained Dick in a crestfallen tone.
Infinitely dismayed, he seemed to bulge in protest. He was staring
intently at Anthony and caroming off a succession of passers-by, who
reproached him with fierce, resentful glances.
"I simply mean that a talent like Wells's could carry the intelligence
of a Spencer. But an inferior talent can only be graceful when it's
carrying inferior ideas. And the more narrowly you can look at a thing
the more entertaining you can be about it."
Dick considered, unable to decide the exact degree of criticism intended
by Anthony's remarks. But Anthony, with that facility which seemed so
frequently to flow from him, continued, his dark eyes gleaming in his
thin face, his chin raised, his voice raised, his whole physical
"Say I am proud and sane and wise--an Athenian among Greeks. Well, I
might fail where a lesser man would succeed. He could imitate, he could
adorn, he could be enthusiastic, he could be hopefully constructive. But
this hypothetical me would be too proud to imitate, too sane to be
enthusiastic, too sophisticated to be Utopian, too Grecian to adorn."
"Then you don't think the artist works from his intelligence?"
"No. He goes on improving, if he can, what he imitates in the way of
style, and choosing from his own interpretation of the things around him
what constitutes material. But after all every writer writes because
it's his mode of living. Don't tell me you like this 'Divine Function of
the Artist' business?"
"I'm not accustomed even to refer to myself as an artist."
"Dick," said Anthony, changing his tone, "I want to beg your pardon."
"For that outburst. I'm honestly sorry. I was talking for effect."
Somewhat mollified, Dick rejoined:
"I've often said you were a Philistine at heart."
It was a crackling dusk when they turned in under the white façade of
the Plaza and tasted slowly the foam and yellow thickness of an egg-nog.
Anthony looked at his companion. Richard Caramel's nose and brow were
slowly approaching a like pigmentation; the red was leaving the one, the
blue deserting the other. Glancing in a mirror, Anthony was glad to find
that his own skin had not discolored. On the contrary, a faint glow had
kindled in his cheeks--he fancied that he had never looked so well.
"Enough for me," said Dick, his tone that of an athlete in training. "I
want to go up and see the Gilberts. Won't you come?"
"Why--yes. If you don't dedicate me to the parents and dash off in the
corner with Dora."
A clerk announced them over the phone, and ascending to the tenth floor
they followed a winding corridor and knocked at 1088. The door was
answered by a middle-aged lady--Mrs. Gilbert herself.
"How do you do?" She spoke in the conventional American lady-lady
language. "Well, I'm "aw"fully glad to see you--"
Hasty interjections by Dick, and then:
"Mr. Pats? Well, do come in, and leave your coat there." She pointed to
a chair and changed her inflection to a deprecatory laugh full of minute
gasps. "This is really lovely--lovely. Why, Richard, you haven't been
here for "so" long--no!--no!" The latter monosyllables served half as
responses, half as periods, to some vague starts from Dick. "Well, do
sit down and tell me what you've been doing."
One crossed and recrossed; one stood and bowed ever so gently; one
smiled again and again with helpless stupidity; one wondered if she
would ever sit down at length one slid thankfully into a chair and
settled for a pleasant call.
"I suppose it's because you've been busy--as much as anything else,"
smiled Mrs. Gilbert somewhat ambiguously. The "as much as anything else"
she used to balance all her more rickety sentences. She had two other
ones: "at least that's the way I look at it" and "pure and
simple"--these three, alternated, gave each of her remarks an air of
being a general reflection on life, as though she had calculated all
causes and, at length, put her finger on the ultimate one.
Richard Caramel's face, Anthony saw, was now quite normal. The brow and
cheeks were of a flesh color, the nose politely inconspicuous. He had
fixed his aunt with the bright-yellow eye, giving her that acute and
exaggerated attention that young males are accustomed to render to all
females who are of no further value.
"Are you a writer too, Mr. Pats? ... Well, perhaps we can all bask in
Richard's fame."--Gentle laughter led by Mrs. Gilbert.
"Gloria's out," she said, with an air of laying down an axiom from which
she would proceed to derive results. "She's dancing somewhere. Gloria
goes, goes, goes. I tell her I don't see how she stands it. She dances
all afternoon and all night, until I think she's going to wear herself
to a shadow. Her father is very worried about her."
She smiled from one to the other. They both smiled.
She was composed, Anthony perceived, of a succession of semicircles and
parabolas, like those figures that gifted folk make on the typewriter:
head, arms, bust, hips, thighs, and ankles were in a bewildering tier of
roundnesses. Well ordered and clean she was, with hair of an
artificially rich gray; her large face sheltered weather-beaten blue
eyes and was adorned with just the faintest white mustache.
"I always say," she remarked to Anthony, "that Richard is an ancient
In the tense pause that followed, Anthony considered a pun--something
about Dick having been much walked upon.
"We all have souls of different ages," continued Mrs. Gilbert radiantly;
"at least that's what I say."
"Perhaps so," agreed Anthony with an air of quickening to a hopeful
idea. The voice bubbled on:
"Gloria has a very young soul--irresponsible, as much as anything else.
She has no sense of responsibility."
"She's sparkling, Aunt Catherine," said Richard pleasantly. "A sense of
responsibility would spoil her. She's too pretty."
"Well," confessed Mrs. Gilbert, "all I know is that she goes and goes
The number of goings to Gloria's discredit was lost in the rattle of the
door-knob as it turned to admit Mr. Gilbert.
He was a short man with a mustache resting like a small white cloud
beneath his undistinguished nose. He had reached the stage where his
value as a social creature was a black and imponderable negative. His
ideas were the popular delusions of twenty years before; his mind
steered a wabbly and anaemic course in the wake of the daily newspaper
editorials. After graduating from a small but terrifying Western
university, he had entered the celluloid business, and as this required
only the minute measure of intelligence he brought to it, he did well
for several years--in fact until about 1911, when he began exchanging
contracts for vague agreements with the moving picture industry. The
moving picture industry had decided about 1912 to gobble him up, and at
this time he was, so to speak, delicately balanced on its tongue.
Meanwhile he was supervising manager of the Associated Mid-western Film
Materials Company, spending six months of each year in New York and the
remainder in Kansas City and St. Louis. He felt credulously that there
was a good thing coming to him--and his wife thought so, and his
daughter thought so too.
He disapproved of Gloria: she stayed out late, she never ate her meals,
she was always in a mix-up--he had irritated her once and she had used
toward him words that he had not thought were part of her vocabulary.
His wife was easier. After fifteen years of incessant guerilla warfare
he had conquered her--it was a war of muddled optimism against organized
dulness, and something in the number of "yes's" with which he could
poison a conversation had won him the victory.
"Yes-yes-yes-yes," he would say, "yes-yes-yes-yes. Let me see. That was
the summer of--let me see--ninety-one or ninety-two--Yes-yes-yes-yes----"
Fifteen years of yes's had beaten Mrs. Gilbert. Fifteen further years of
that incessant unaffirmative affirmative, accompanied by the perpetual
flicking of ash-mushrooms from thirty-two thousand cigars, had broken
her. To this husband of hers she made the last concession of married
life, which is more complete, more irrevocable, than the first--she
listened to him. She told herself that the years had brought her
tolerance--actually they had slain what measure she had ever possessed
of moral courage.
She introduced him to Anthony.
"This is Mr. Pats," she said.
The young man and the old touched flesh; Mr. Gilbert's hand was soft,
worn away to the pulpy semblance of a squeezed grapefruit. Then husband
and wife exchanged greetings--he told her it had grown colder out; he
said he had walked down to a news-stand on Forty-fourth Street for a
Kansas City paper. He had intended to ride back in the bus but he had
found it too cold, yes, yes, yes, yes, too cold.
Mrs. Gilbert added flavor to his adventure by being impressed with his
courage in braving the harsh air.
"Well, you "are" spunky!" she exclaimed admiringly. "You "are" spunky. I
wouldn't have gone out for anything."
Mr. Gilbert with true masculine impassivity disregarded the awe he had
excited in his wife. He turned to the two young men and triumphantly
routed them on the subject of the weather. Richard Caramel was called on
to remember the month of November in Kansas. No sooner had the theme
been pushed toward him, however, than it was violently fished back to be
lingered over, pawed over, elongated, and generally devitalized by
The immemorial thesis that the days somewhere were warm but the nights
very pleasant was successfully propounded and they decided the exact
distance on an obscure railroad between two points that Dick had
inadvertently mentioned. Anthony fixed Mr. Gilbert with a steady stare
and went into a trance through which, after a moment, Mrs. Gilbert's
smiling voice penetrated:
"It seems as though the cold were damper here--it seems to eat into my
As this remark, adequately yessed, had been on the tip of Mr. Gilbert's
tongue, he could not be blamed for rather abruptly changing the subject.
"She ought to be here any minute."
"Have you met my daughter, Mr.----?"
"Haven't had the pleasure. I've heard Dick speak of her often."
"She and Richard are cousins."
"Yes?" Anthony smiled with some effort. He was not used to the society
of his seniors, and his mouth was stiff from superfluous cheerfulness.
It was such a pleasant thought about Gloria and Dick being cousins. He
managed within the next minute to throw an agonized glance at
Richard Caramel was afraid they'd have to toddle off.
Mrs. Gilbert was tremendously sorry.
Mr. Gilbert thought it was too bad.
Mrs. Gilbert had a further idea--something about being glad they'd come,
anyhow, even if they'd only seen an old lady 'way too old to flirt with
them. Anthony and Dick evidently considered this a sly sally, for they
laughed one bar in three-four time.
Would they come again soon?
Gloria would be "aw"fully sorry!
Two disconsolate young men walking down the tenth-floor corridor of the
Plaza in the direction of the elevator.
A LADY'S LEGS
Behind Maury Noble's attractive indolence, his irrelevance and his easy
mockery, lay a surprising and relentless maturity of purpose. His
intention, as he stated it in college, had been to use three years in
travel, three years in utter leisure--and then to become immensely rich
as quickly as possible.
His three years of travel were over. He had accomplished the globe with
an intensity and curiosity that in any one else would have seemed
pedantic, without redeeming spontaneity, almost the self-editing of a
human Baedeker; but, in this case, it assumed an air of mysterious
purpose and significant design--as though Maury Noble were some
predestined anti-Christ, urged by a preordination to go everywhere there
was to go along the earth and to see all the billions of humans who bred
and wept and slew each other here and there upon it.
Back in America, he was sallying into the search for amusement with the
same consistent absorption. He who had never taken more than a few
cocktails or a pint of wine at a sitting, taught himself to drink as he
would have taught himself Greek--like Greek it would be the gateway to a
wealth of new sensations, new psychic states, new reactions in joy
His habits were a matter for esoteric speculation. He had three rooms in
a bachelor apartment on Forty-forth street, but he was seldom to be
found there. The telephone girl had received the most positive
instructions that no one should even have his ear without first giving a
name to be passed upon. She had a list of half a dozen people to whom he
was never at home, and of the same number to whom he was always at home.
Foremost on the latter list were Anthony Patch and Richard Caramel.
Maury's mother lived with her married son in Philadelphia, and there
Maury went usually for the week-ends, so one Saturday night when
Anthony, prowling the chilly streets in a fit of utter boredom, dropped
in at the Molton Arms he was overjoyed to find that Mr. Noble was
His spirits soared faster than the flying elevator. This was so good, so
extremely good, to be about to talk to Maury--who would be equally happy
at seeing him. They would look at each other with a deep affection just
behind their eyes which both would conceal beneath some attenuated
raillery. Had it been summer they would have gone out together and
indolently sipped two long Tom Collinses, as they wilted their collars
and watched the faintly diverting round of some lazy August cabaret. But
it was cold outside, with wind around the edges of the tall buildings
and December just up the street, so better far an evening together under
the soft lamplight and a drink or two of Bushmill's, or a thimbleful of
Maury's Grand Marnier, with the books gleaming like ornaments against
the walls, and Maury radiating a divine inertia as he rested, large and
catlike, in his favorite chair.
There he was! The room closed about Anthony, warmed him. The glow of
that strong persuasive mind, that temperament almost Oriental in its
outward impassivity, warmed Anthony's restless soul and brought him a
peace that could be likened only to the peace a stupid woman gives. One
must understand all--else one must take all for granted. Maury filled
the room, tigerlike, godlike. The winds outside were stilled; the brass
candlesticks on the mantel glowed like tapers before an altar.
"What keeps you here to-day?" Anthony spread himself over a yielding
sofa and made an elbow-rest among the pillows.
"Just been here an hour. Tea dance--and I stayed so late I missed my
train to Philadelphia."
"Strange to stay so long," commented Anthony curiously.
"Rather. What'd you do?"
"Geraldine. Little usher at Keith's. I told you about her."
"Paid me a call about three and stayed till five. Peculiar little
soul--she gets me. She's so utterly stupid."
Maury was silent.
"Strange as it may seem," continued Anthony, "so far as I'm concerned,
and even so far as I know, Geraldine is a paragon of virtue."
He had known her a month, a girl of nondescript and nomadic habits.
Someone had casually passed her on to Anthony, who considered her
amusing and rather liked the chaste and fairylike kisses she had given
him on the third night of their acquaintance, when they had driven in a
taxi through the Park. She had a vague family--a shadowy aunt and uncle
who shared with her an apartment in the labyrinthine hundreds. She was
company, familiar and faintly intimate and restful. Further than that he
did not care to experiment--not from any moral compunction, but from a
dread of allowing any entanglement to disturb what he felt was the
growing serenity of his life.
"She has two stunts," he informed Maury; "one of them is to get her hair
over her eyes some way and then blow it out, and the other is to say
'You cra-a-azy!' when some one makes a remark that's over her head. It
fascinates me. I sit there hour after hour, completely intrigued by the
maniacal symptoms she finds in my imagination."
Maury stirred in his chair and spoke.
"Remarkable that a person can comprehend so little and yet live in such
a complex civilization. A woman like that actually takes the whole
universe in the most matter-of-fact way. From the influence of Rousseau
to the bearing of the tariff rates on her dinner, the whole phenomenon
is utterly strange to her. She's just been carried along from an age of
spearheads and plunked down here with the equipment of an archer for
going into a pistol duel. You could sweep away the entire crust of
history and she'd never know the difference."
"I wish our Richard would write about her."
"Anthony, surely you don't think she's worth writing about."
"As much as anybody," he answered, yawning. "You know I was thinking
to-day that I have a great confidence in Dick. So long as he sticks to
people and not to ideas, and as long as his inspirations come from life
and not from art, and always granting a normal growth, I believe he'll
be a big man."
"I should think the appearance of the black note-book would prove that
he's going to life."
Anthony raised himself on his elbow and answered eagerly:
"He tries to go to life. So does every author except the very worst, but
after all most of them live on predigested food. The incident or
character may be from life, but the writer usually interprets it in
terms of the last book he read. For instance, suppose he meets a sea
captain and thinks he's an original character. The truth is that he sees
the resemblance between the sea captain and the last sea captain Dana
created, or who-ever creates sea captains, and therefore he knows how
to set this sea captain on paper. Dick, of course, can set down any
consciously picturesque, character-like character, but could he
accurately transcribe his own sister?"
Then they were off for half an hour on literature.
"A classic," suggested Anthony, "is a successful book that has survived
the reaction of the next period or generation. Then it's safe, like a
style in architecture or furniture. It's acquired a picturesque dignity
to take the place of its fashion...."
After a time the subject temporarily lost its tang. The interest of the
two young men was not particularly technical. They were in love with
generalities. Anthony had recently discovered Samuel Butler and the
brisk aphorisms in the note-book seemed to him the quintessence of
criticism. Maury, his whole mind so thoroughly mellowed by the very
hardness of his scheme of life, seemed inevitably the wiser of the two,
yet in the actual stuff of their intelligences they were not, it seemed,
They drifted from letters to the curiosities of each other's day.
"Whose tea was it?"
"People named Abercrombie."
"Why'd you stay late? Meet a luscious débutante?"
"Did you really?" Anthony's voice lifted in surprise.
"Not a débutante exactly. Said she came out two winters ago in Kansas
"Sort of left-over?"
"No," answered Maury with some amusement, "I think that's the last thing
I'd say about her. She seemed--well, somehow the youngest person there."
"Not too young to make you miss a train."
"Young enough. Beautiful child."
Anthony chuckled in his one-syllable snort.
"Oh, Maury, you're in your second childhood. What do you mean by
Maury gazed helplessly into space.
"Well, I can't describe her exactly--except to say that she was
beautiful. She was--tremendously alive. She was eating gum-drops."
"It was a sort of attenuated vice. She's a nervous kind--said she always
ate gum-drops at teas because she had to stand around so long in
"What'd you talk about--Bergson? Bilphism? Whether the one-step is
Maury was unruffled; his fur seemed to run all ways.
"As a matter of fact we did talk on Bilphism. Seems her mother's a
Bilphist. Mostly, though, we talked about legs."
Anthony rocked in glee.
"My God! Whose legs?"
"Hers. She talked a lot about hers. As though they were a sort of choice
bric-à-brac. She aroused a great desire to see them."
"What is she--a dancer?"
"No, I found she was a cousin of Dick's."
Anthony sat upright so suddenly that the pillow he released stood on end
like a live thing and dove to the floor.
"Name's Gloria Gilbert?" he cried.
"Yes. Isn't she remarkable?"
"I'm sure I don't know--but for sheer dulness her father--"
"Well," interrupted Maury with implacable conviction, "her family may be
as sad as professional mourners but I'm inclined to think that she's a
quite authentic and original character. The outer signs of the
cut-and-dried Yale prom girl and all that--but different, very
"Go on, go on!" urged Anthony. "Soon as Dick told me she didn't have a
brain in her head I knew she must be pretty good."
"Did he say that?"
"Swore to it," said Anthony with another snorting laugh.
"Well, what he means by brains in a woman is--"
"I know," interrupted Anthony eagerly, "he means a smattering of
"That's it. The kind who believes that the annual moral let-down of the
country is a very good thing or the kind who believes it's a very
ominous thing. Either pince-nez or postures. Well, this girl talked
about legs. She talked about skin too--her own skin. Always her own. She
told me the sort of tan she'd like to get in the summer and how closely
she usually approximated it."
"You sat enraptured by her low alto?"
"By her low alto! No, by tan! I began thinking about tan. I began to
think what color I turned when I made my last exposure about two years
ago. I did use to get a pretty good tan. I used to get a sort of bronze,
if I remember rightly."
Anthony retired into the cushions, shaken with laughter.
"She's got you going--oh, Maury! Maury the Connecticut life-saver. The
human nutmeg. Extra! Heiress elopes with coast-guard because of his
luscious pigmentation! Afterward found to be Tasmanian strain in
Maury sighed; rising he walked to the window and raised the shade.
Anthony, still laughing quietly to himself, made no answer.
"Another winter." Maury's voice from the window was almost a whisper.
"We're growing old, Anthony. I'm twenty-seven, by God! Three years to
thirty, and then I'm what an undergraduate calls a middle-aged man."
Anthony was silent for a moment.
"You "are" old, Maury," he agreed at length. "The first signs of a very
dissolute and wabbly senescence--you have spent the afternoon talking
about tan and a lady's legs."
Maury pulled down the shade with a sudden harsh snap.
"Idiot!" he cried, "that from you! Here I sit, young Anthony, as I'll
sit for a generation or more and watch such gay souls as you and Dick
and Gloria Gilbert go past me, dancing and singing and loving and hating
one another and being moved, being eternally moved. And I am moved only
by my lack of emotion. I shall sit and the snow will come--oh, for a
Caramel to take notes--and another winter and I shall be thirty and you
and Dick and Gloria will go on being eternally moved and dancing by me
and singing. But after you've all gone I'll be saying things for new
Dicks to write down, and listening to the disillusions and cynicisms and
emotions of new Anthonys--yes, and talking to new Glorias about the tans
of summers yet to come."
The firelight flurried up on the hearth. Maury left the window, stirred
the blaze with a poker, and dropped a log upon the andirons. Then he sat
back in his chair and the remnants of his voice faded in the new fire
that spit red and yellow along the bark.
"After all, Anthony, it's you who are very romantic and young. It's you
who are infinitely more susceptible and afraid of your calm being
broken. It's me who tries again and again to be moved--let myself go a
thousand times and I'm always me. Nothing--quite--stirs me.
"Yet," he murmured after another long pause, "there was something about
that little girl with her absurd tan that was eternally old--like me."
Anthony turned over sleepily in his bed, greeting a patch of cold sun on
his counterpane, crisscrossed with the shadows of the leaded window. The
room was full of morning. The carved chest in the corner, the ancient
and inscrutable wardrobe, stood about the room like dark symbols of the
obliviousness of matter; only the rug was beckoning and perishable to
his perishable feet, and Bounds, horribly inappropriate in his soft
collar, was of stuff as fading as the gauze of frozen breath he uttered.
He was close to the bed, his hand still lowered where he had been
jerking at the upper blanket, his dark-brown eyes fixed imperturbably
upon his master.
"Bows!" muttered the drowsy god. "Thachew, Bows?"
"It's I, sir."
Anthony moved his head, forced his eyes wide, and blinked triumphantly.
"Can you get off--yeow-ow-oh-oh-oh God!--" Anthony yawned insufferably
and the contents of his brain seemed to fall together in a dense hash.
He made a fresh start.
"Can you come around about four and serve some tea and sandwiches or
Anthony considered with chilling lack of inspiration. "Some sandwiches,"
he repeated helplessly, "oh, some cheese sandwiches and jelly ones and
chicken and olive, I guess. Never mind breakfast."
The strain of invention was too much. He shut his eyes wearily, let his
head roll to rest inertly, and quickly relaxed what he had regained of
muscular control. Out of a crevice of his mind crept the vague but
inevitable spectre of the night before--but it proved in this case to be
nothing but a seemingly interminable conversation with Richard Caramel,
who had called on him at midnight; they had drunk four bottles of beer
and munched dry crusts of bread while Anthony listened to a reading of
the first part of "The Demon Lover."
--Came a voice now after many hours. Anthony disregarded it, as sleep
closed over him, folded down upon him, crept up into the byways of
Suddenly he was awake, saying: "What?"
"For how many, sir?" It was still Bounds, standing patient and
motionless at the foot of the bed--Bounds who divided his manner among
"How many what?"
"I think, sir, I'd better know how many are coming. I'll have to plan
for the sandwiches, sir."
"Two," muttered Anthony huskily; "lady and a gentleman."
Bounds said, "Thank you, sir," and moved away, bearing with him his
humiliating reproachful soft collar, reproachful to each of the three
gentlemen, who only demanded of him a third.
After a long time Anthony arose and drew an opalescent dressing grown of
brown and blue over his slim pleasant figure. With a last yawn he went
into the bathroom, and turning on the dresser light (the bathroom had no
outside exposure) he contemplated himself in the mirror with some
interest. A wretched apparition, he thought; he usually thought so in
the morning--sleep made his face unnaturally pale. He lit a cigarette
and glanced through several letters and the morning Tribune.
An hour later, shaven and dressed, he was sitting at his desk looking at
a small piece of paper he had taken out of his wallet. It was scrawled
with semi-legible memoranda: "See Mr. Howland at five. Get hair-cut. See
about Rivers' bill. Go book-store."
--And under the last: "Cash in bank, $690 (crossed out), $612 (crossed
Finally, down at the bottom and in a hurried scrawl: "Dick and Gloria
Gilbert for tea."
This last item brought him obvious satisfaction. His day, usually a
jelly-like creature, a shapeless, spineless thing, had attained Mesozoic
structure. It was marching along surely, even jauntily, toward a climax,
as a play should, as a day should. He dreaded the moment when the
backbone of the day should be broken, when he should have met the girl
at last, talked to her, and then bowed her laughter out the door,
returning only to the melancholy dregs in the teacups and the gathering
staleness of the uneaten sandwiches.
There was a growing lack of color in Anthony's days. He felt it
constantly and sometimes traced it to a talk he had had with Maury Noble
a month before. That anything so ingenuous, so priggish, as a sense of
waste should oppress him was absurd, but there was no denying the fact
that some unwelcome survival of a fetish had drawn him three weeks
before down to the public library, where, by the token of Richard
Caramel's card, he had drawn out half a dozen books on the Italian
Renaissance. That these books were still piled on his desk in the
original order of carriage, that they were daily increasing his
liabilities by twelve cents, was no mitigation of their testimony. They
were cloth and morocco witnesses to the fact of his defection. Anthony
had had several hours of acute and startling panic.
In justification of his manner of living there was first, of course, The
Meaninglessness of Life. As aides and ministers, pages and squires,
butlers and lackeys to this great Khan there were a thousand books
glowing on his shelves, there was his apartment and all the money that
was to be his when the old man up the river should choke on his last
morality. From a world fraught with the menace of débutantes and the
stupidity of many Geraldines he was thankfully delivered--rather should
he emulate the feline immobility of Maury and wear proudly the
culminative wisdom of the numbered generations.
Over and against these things was something which his brain persistently
analyzed and dealt with as a tiresome complex but which, though
logically disposed of and bravely trampled under foot, had sent him out
through the soft slush of late November to a library which had none of
the books he most wanted. It is fair to analyze Anthony as far as he
could analyze himself; further than that it is, of course, presumption.
He found in himself a growing horror and loneliness. The idea of eating
alone frightened him; in preference he dined often with men he detested.
Travel, which had once charmed him, seemed at length, unendurable, a
business of color without substance, a phantom chase after his own
--If I am essentially weak, he thought, I need work to do, work to do.
It worried him to think that he was, after all, a facile mediocrity,
with neither the poise of Maury nor the enthusiasm of Dick. It seemed a
tragedy to want nothing--and yet he wanted something, something. He knew
in flashes what it was--some path of hope to lead him toward what he
thought was an imminent and ominous old age.
After cocktails and luncheon at the University Club Anthony felt better.
He had run into two men from his class at Harvard, and in contrast to
the gray heaviness of their conversation his life assumed color. Both of
them were married: one spent his coffee time in sketching an
extra-nuptial adventure to the bland and appreciative smiles of the
other. Both of them, he thought, were Mr. Gilberts in embryo; the number
of their "yes's" would have to be quadrupled, their natures crabbed by
twenty years--then they would be no more than obsolete and broken
machines, pseudo-wise and valueless, nursed to an utter senility by the
women they had broken.
Ah, he was more than that, as he paced the long carpet in the lounge
after dinner, pausing at the window to look into the harried street. He
was Anthony Patch, brilliant, magnetic, the heir of many years and many
men. This was his world now--and that last strong irony he craved lay in
With a stray boyishness he saw himself a power upon the earth; with his
grandfather's money he might build his own pedestal and be a Talleyrand,
a Lord Verulam. The clarity of his mind, its sophistication, its
versatile intelligence, all at their maturity and dominated by some
purpose yet to be born would find him work to do. On this minor his
dream faded--work to do: he tried to imagine himself in Congress rooting
around in the litter of that incredible pigsty with the narrow and
porcine brows he saw pictured sometimes in the rotogravure sections of
the Sunday newspapers, those glorified proletarians babbling blandly to
the nation the ideas of high school seniors! Little men with copy-book
ambitions who by mediocrity had thought to emerge from mediocrity into
the lustreless and unromantic heaven of a government by the people--and
the best, the dozen shrewd men at the top, egotistic and cynical, were
content to lead this choir of white ties and wire collar-buttons in a
discordant and amazing hymn, compounded of a vague confusion between
wealth as a reward of virtue and wealth as a proof of vice, and
continued cheers for God, the Constitution, and the Rocky Mountains!
Lord Verulam! Talleyrand!
Back in his apartment the grayness returned. His cocktails had died,
making him sleepy, somewhat befogged and inclined to be surly. Lord
Verulam--he? The very thought was bitter. Anthony Patch with no record
of achievement, without courage, without strength to be satisfied with
truth when it was given him. Oh, he was a pretentious fool, making
careers out of cocktails and meanwhile regretting, weakly and secretly,
the collapse of an insufficient and wretched idealism. He had garnished
his soul in the subtlest taste and now he longed for the old rubbish. He
was empty, it seemed, empty as an old bottle--
The buzzer rang at the door. Anthony sprang up and lifted the tube to
his ear. It was Richard Caramel's voice, stilted and facetious:
"Announcing Miss Gloria Gilbert."
"How do you do?" he said, smiling and holding the door ajar.
"Gloria, this is Anthony."
"Well!" she cried, holding out a little gloved hand. Under her fur coat
her dress was Alice-blue, with white lace crinkled stiffly about
"Let me take your things."
Anthony stretched out his arms and the brown mass of fur tumbled into
"What do you think of her, Anthony?" Richard Caramel demanded
barbarously. "Isn't she beautiful?"
"Well!" cried the girl defiantly--withal unmoved.
She was dazzling--alight; it was agony to comprehend her beauty in a
glance. Her hair, full of a heavenly glamour, was gay against the winter
color of the room.
Anthony moved about, magician-like, turning the mushroom lamp into an
orange glory. The stirred fire burnished the copper andirons on
"I'm a solid block of ice," murmured Gloria casually, glancing around
with eyes whose irises were of the most delicate and transparent bluish
white. "What a slick fire! We found a place where you could stand on an
iron-bar grating, sort of, and it blew warm air up at you--but Dick
wouldn't wait there with me. I told him to go on alone and let me
Conventional enough this. She seemed talking for her own pleasure,
without effort. Anthony, sitting at one end of the sofa, examined her
profile against the foreground of the lamp: the exquisite regularity of
nose and upper lip, the chin, faintly decided, balanced beautifully on a
rather short neck. On a photograph she must have been completely
classical, almost cold--but the glow of her hair and cheeks, at once
flushed and fragile, made her the most living person he had ever seen.
"... Think you've got the best name I've heard," she was saying, still
apparently to herself; her glance rested on him a moment and then
flitted past him--to the Italian bracket-lamps clinging like luminous
yellow turtles at intervals along the walls, to the books row upon row,
then to her cousin on the other side. "Anthony Patch. Only you ought to
look sort of like a horse, with a long narrow face--and you ought to be
"That's all the Patch part, though. How should Anthony look?"
"You look like Anthony," she assured him seriously--he thought she had
scarcely seen him--"rather majestic," she continued, "and solemn."
Anthony indulged in a disconcerted smile.
"Only I like alliterative names," she went on, "all except mine. Mine's
too flamboyant. I used to know two girls named Jinks, though, and just
think if they'd been named anything except what they were named--Judy
Jinks and Jerry Jinks. Cute, what? Don't you think?" Her childish mouth
was parted, awaiting a rejoinder.
"Everybody in the next generation," suggested Dick, "will be named Peter
or Barbara--because at present all the piquant literary characters are
named Peter or Barbara."
Anthony continued the prophecy:
"Of course Gladys and Eleanor, having graced the last generation of
heroines and being at present in their social prime, will be passed on
to the next generation of shop-girls--"
"Displacing Ella and Stella," interrupted Dick.
"And Pearl and Jewel," Gloria added cordially, "and Earl and Elmer and
"And then I'll come along," remarked Dick, "and picking up the obsolete
name, Jewel, I'll attach it to some quaint and attractive character and
it'll start its career all over again."
Her voice took up the thread of subject and wove along with faintly
upturning, half-humorous intonations for sentence ends--as though
defying interruption--and intervals of shadowy laughter. Dick had told
her that Anthony's man was named Bounds--she thought that was wonderful!
Dick had made some sad pun about Bounds doing patchwork, but if there
was one thing worse than a pun, she said, it was a person who, as the
inevitable come-back to a pun, gave the perpetrator a mock-reproachful
"Where are you from?" inquired Anthony. He knew, but beauty had rendered
"Kansas City, Missouri."
"They put her out the same time they barred cigarettes."
"Did they bar cigarettes? I see the hand of my holy grandfather."
"He's a reformer or something, isn't he?"
"I blush for him."
"So do I," she confessed. "I detest reformers, especially the sort who
try to reform me."
"Are there many of those?"
"Dozens. It's 'Oh, Gloria, if you smoke so many cigarettes you'll lose
your pretty complexion!' and 'Oh, Gloria, why don't you marry and
Anthony agreed emphatically while he wondered who had had the temerity
to speak thus to such a personage.
"And then," she continued, "there are all the subtle reformers who tell
you the wild stories they've heard about you and how they've been
sticking up for you."
He saw, at length, that her eyes were gray, very level and cool, and
when they rested on him he understood what Maury had meant by saying she
was very young and very old. She talked always about herself as a very
charming child might talk, and her comments on her tastes and distastes
were unaffected and spontaneous.
"I must confess," said Anthony gravely, "that even "I"'ve heard one
thing about you."
Alert at once, she sat up straight. Those eyes, with the grayness and
eternity of a cliff of soft granite, caught his.
"Tell me. I'll believe it. I always believe anything any one tells me
about myself--don't you?"
"Invariably!" agreed the two men in unison.
"Well, tell me."
"I'm not sure that I ought to," teased Anthony, smiling unwillingly. She
was so obviously interested, in a state of almost laughable
"He means your nickname," said her cousin.
"What name?" inquired Anthony, politely puzzled.
Instantly she was shy--then she laughed, rolled back against the
cushions, and turned her eyes up as she spoke:
"Coast-to-Coast Gloria." Her voice was full of laughter, laughter
undefined as the varying shadows playing between fire and lamp upon her
hair. "O Lord!"
Still Anthony was puzzled.
"What do you mean?"
""Me", I mean. That's what some silly boys coined for "me"."
"Don't you see, Anthony," explained Dick, "traveller of a nation-wide
notoriety and all that. Isn't that what you've heard? She's been called
that for years--since she was seventeen."
Anthony's eyes became sad and humorous.
"Who's this female Methuselah you've brought in here, Caramel?"
She disregarded this, possibly rather resented it, for she switched back
to the main topic.
"What "have" you heard of me?"
"Something about your physique."
"Oh," she said, coolly disappointed, "that all?"
"My tan?" She was puzzled. Her hand rose to her throat, rested there an
instant as though the fingers were feeling variants of color.
"Do you remember Maury Noble? Man you met about a month ago. You made a
She thought a moment.
"I remember--but he didn't call me up."
"He was afraid to, I don't doubt."
It was black dark without now and Anthony wondered that his apartment
had ever seemed gray--so warm and friendly were the books and pictures
on the walls and the good Bounds offering tea from a respectful shadow
and the three nice people giving out waves of interest and laughter back
and forth across the happy fire.
On Thursday afternoon Gloria and Anthony had tea together in the grill
room at the Plaza. Her fur-trimmed suit was gray--"because with gray you
"have" to wear a lot of paint," she explained--and a small toque sat
rakishly on her head, allowing yellow ripples of hair to wave out in
jaunty glory. In the higher light it seemed to Anthony that her
personality was infinitely softer--she seemed so young, scarcely
eighteen; her form under the tight sheath, known then as a hobble-skirt,
was amazingly supple and slender, and her hands, neither "artistic" nor
stubby, were small as a child's hands should be.
As they entered, the orchestra were sounding the preliminary whimpers to
a maxixe, a tune full of castanets and facile faintly languorous violin
harmonies, appropriate to the crowded winter grill teeming with an
excited college crowd, high-spirited at the approach of the holidays.
Carefully, Gloria considered several locations, and rather to Anthony's
annoyance paraded him circuitously to a table for two at the far side of
the room. Reaching it she again considered. Would she sit on the right
or on the left? Her beautiful eyes and lips were very grave as she made
her choice, and Anthony thought again how naïve was her every gesture;
she took all the things of life for hers to choose from and apportion,
as though she were continually picking out presents for herself from an
Abstractedly she watched the dancers for a few moments, commenting
murmurously as a couple eddied near.
"There's a pretty girl in blue"--and as Anthony looked obediently--"
there! No. behind you--there!"
"Yes," he agreed helplessly.
"You didn't see her."
"I'd rather look at you."
"I know, but she was pretty. Except that she had big ankles."
"Was she?--I mean, did she?" he said indifferently.
A girl's salutation came from a couple dancing close to them.
"Hello, Gloria! O Gloria!"
"Who's that?" he demanded.
"I don't know. Somebody." She caught sight of another face. "Hello,
Muriel!" Then to Anthony: "There's Muriel Kane. Now I think she's
attractive, 'cept not very."
Anthony chuckled appreciatively.
"Attractive, 'cept not very," he repeated.
She smiled--was interested immediately.
"Why is that funny?" Her tone was pathetically intent.
"It just was."
"Do you want to dance?"
"Sort of. But let's sit," she decided.
"And talk about you? You love to talk about you, don't you?"
"Yes." Caught in a vanity, she laughed.
"I imagine your autobiography would be a classic."
"Dick says I haven't got one."
"Dick!" he exclaimed. "What does he know about you?"
"Nothing. But he says the biography of every woman begins with the first
kiss that counts, and ends when her last child is laid in her arms."
"He's talking from his book."
"He says unloved women have no biographies--they have histories."
Anthony laughed again.
"Surely you don't claim to be unloved!"
"Well, I suppose not."
"Then why haven't you a biography? Haven't you ever had a kiss that
counted?" As the words left his lips he drew in his breath sharply as
though to suck them back. This "baby"!
"I don't know what you mean 'counts,'" she objected.
"I wish you'd tell me how old you are."
"Twenty-two," she said, meeting his eyes gravely. "How old did you
"I'm going to start being that. I don't like being twenty-two. I hate it
more than anything in the world."
"No. Getting old and everything. Getting married."
"Don't you ever want to marry?"
"I don't want to have responsibility and a lot of children to take care
Evidently she did not doubt that on her lips all things were good. He
waited rather breathlessly for her next remark, expecting it to follow
up her last. She was smiling, without amusement but pleasantly, and
after an interval half a dozen words fell into the space between them:
"I wish I had some gum-drops."
"You shall!" He beckoned to a waiter and sent him to the cigar counter.
"D'you mind? I love gum-drops. Everybody kids me about it because I'm
always whacking away at one--whenever my daddy's not around."
"Not at all.--Who are all these children?" he asked suddenly. "Do you
know them all?"
"Why--no, but they're from--oh, from everywhere, I suppose. Don't you
ever come here?"
"Very seldom. I don't care particularly for 'nice girls.'"
Immediately he had her attention. She turned a definite shoulder to the
dancers, relaxed in her chair, and demanded:
"What "do" you do with yourself?"
Thanks to a cocktail Anthony welcomed the question. In a mood to talk,
he wanted, moreover, to impress this girl whose interest seemed so
tantalizingly elusive--she stopped to browse in unexpected pastures,
hurried quickly over the inobviously obvious. He wanted to pose. He
wanted to appear suddenly to her in novel and heroic colors. He wanted
to stir her from that casualness she showed toward everything
"I do nothing," he began, realizing simultaneously that his words were
to lack the debonair grace he craved for them. "I do nothing, for
there's nothing I can do that's worth doing."
"Well?" He had neither surprised her nor even held her, yet she had
certainly understood him, if indeed he had said aught worth
"Don't you approve of lazy men?"
"I suppose so, if they're gracefully lazy. Is that possible for an
"Why not?" he demanded, discomfited.
But her mind had left the subject and wandered up ten floors.
"My daddy's mad at me," she observed dispassionately.
"Why? But I want to know just why it's impossible for an American to be
gracefully idle"--his words gathered conviction--"it astonishes me.
It--it--I don't understand why people think that every young man ought
to go down-town and work ten hours a day for the best twenty years of
his life at dull, unimaginative work, certainly not altruistic work."
He broke off. She watched him inscrutably. He waited for her to agree or
disagree, but she did neither.
"Don't you ever form judgments on things?" he asked with some
She shook her head and her eyes wandered back to the dancers as she
"I don't know. I don't know anything about--what you should do, or what
anybody should do."
She confused him and hindered the flow of his ideas. Self-expression had
never seemed at once so desirable and so impossible.
"Well," he admitted apologetically, "neither do I, of course, but--"
"I just think of people," she continued, "whether they seem right where
they are and fit into the picture. I don't mind if they don't do
anything. I don't see why they should; in fact it always astonishes me
when anybody does anything."
"You don't want to do anything?"
"I want to sleep."
For a second he was startled, almost as though she had meant this
"Sort of. I want to just be lazy and I want some of the people around me
to be doing things, because that makes me feel comfortable and safe--and
I want some of them to be doing nothing at all, because they can be
graceful and companionable for me. But I never want to change people or
get excited over them."
"You're a quaint little determinist," laughed Anthony. "It's your world,
"Well--" she said with a quick upward glance, "isn't it? As long as
She had paused slightly before the last word and Anthony suspected that
she had started to say "beautiful." It was undeniably what she
Her eyes brightened and he waited for her to enlarge on the theme. He
had drawn her out, at any rate--he bent forward slightly to catch
But "Let's dance!" was all she said.
That winter afternoon at the Plaza was the first of a succession of
"dates" Anthony made with her in the blurred and stimulating days before
Christmas. Invariably she was busy. What particular strata of the city's
social life claimed her he was a long time finding out. It seemed to
matter very little. She attended the semi-public charity dances at the
big hotels; he saw her several times at dinner parties in Sherry's, and
once as he waited for her to dress, Mrs. Gilbert, apropos of her
daughter's habit of "going," rattled off an amazing holiday programme
that included half a dozen dances to which Anthony had received cards.
He made engagements with her several times for lunch and tea--the former
were hurried and, to him at least, rather unsatisfactory occasions, for
she was sleepy-eyed and casual, incapable of concentrating upon anything
or of giving consecutive attention to his remarks. When after two of
these sallow meals he accused her of tendering him the skin and bones of
the day she laughed and gave him a tea-time three days off. This was
infinitely more satisfactory.
One Sunday afternoon just before Christmas he called up and found her in
the lull directly after some important but mysterious quarrel: she
informed him in a tone of mingled wrath and amusement that she had sent
a man out of her apartment--here Anthony speculated violently--and that
the man had been giving a little dinner for her that very night and that
of course she wasn't going. So Anthony took her to supper.
"Let's go to something!" she proposed as they went down in the elevator.
"I want to see a show, don't you?"
Inquiry at the hotel ticket desk disclosed only two Sunday night
"They're always the same," she complained unhappily, "same old Yiddish
comedians. Oh, let's go somewhere!"
To conceal a guilty suspicion that he should have arranged a performance
of some kind for her approval Anthony affected a knowing cheerfulness.
"We'll go to a good cabaret."
"I've seen every one in town."
"Well, we'll find a new one."
She was in wretched humor; that was evident. Her gray eyes were granite
now indeed. When she wasn't speaking she stared straight in front of her
as if at some distasteful abstraction in the lobby.
"Well, come on, then."
He followed her, a graceful girl even in her enveloping fur, out to a
taxicab, and, with an air of having a definite place in mind, instructed
the driver to go over to Broadway and then turn south. He made several
casual attempts at conversation but as she adopted an impenetrable armor
of silence and answered him in sentences as morose as the cold darkness
of the taxicab he gave up, and assuming a like mood fell into a
A dozen blocks down Broadway Anthony's eyes were caught by a large and
unfamiliar electric sign spelling "Marathon" in glorious yellow script,
adorned with electrical leaves and flowers that alternately vanished and
beamed upon the wet and glistening street. He leaned and rapped on the
taxi-window and in a moment was receiving information from a colored
doorman: Yes, this was a cabaret. Fine cabaret. Bes' showina city!
"Shall we try it?"
With a sigh Gloria tossed her cigarette out the open door and prepared
to follow it; then they had passed under the screaming sign, under the
wide portal, and up by a stuffy elevator into this unsung palace
The gay habitats of the very rich and the very poor, the very dashing
and the very criminal, not to mention the lately exploited very
Bohemian, are made known to the awed high school girls of Augusta,
Georgia, and Redwing, Minnesota, not only through the bepictured and
entrancing spreads of the Sunday theatrical supplements but through the
shocked and alarmful eyes of Mr. Rupert Hughes and other chroniclers of
the mad pace of America. But the excursions of Harlem onto Broadway, the
deviltries of the dull and the revelries of the respectable are a matter
of esoteric knowledge only to the participants themselves.
A tip circulates--and in the place knowingly mentioned, gather the lower
moral-classes on Saturday and Sunday nights--the little troubled men who
are pictured in the comics as "the Consumer" or "the Public." They have
made sure that the place has three qualifications: it is cheap; it
imitates with a sort of shoddy and mechanical wistfulness the glittering
antics of the great cafes in the theatre district; and--this, above all,
important--it is a place where they can "take a nice girl," which means,
of course, that every one has become equally harmless, timid, and
uninteresting through lack of money and imagination.
There on Sunday nights gather the credulous, sentimental, underpaid,
overworked people with hyphenated occupations: book-keepers,
ticket-sellers, office-managers, salesmen, and, most of all,
clerks--clerks of the express, of the mail, of the grocery, of the
brokerage, of the bank. With them are their giggling, over-gestured,
pathetically pretentious women, who grow fat with them, bear them too
many babies, and float helpless and uncontent in a colorless sea of
drudgery and broken hopes.
They name these brummagem cabarets after Pullman cars. The "Marathon"!
Not for them the salacious similes borrowed from the cafés of Paris!
This is where their docile patrons bring their "nice women," whose
starved fancies are only too willing to believe that the scene is
comparatively gay and joyous, and even faintly immoral. This is life!
Who cares for the morrow?
Anthony and Gloria, seated, looked about them. At the next table a party
of four were in process of being joined by a party of three, two men and
a girl, who were evidently late--and the manner of the girl was a study
in national sociology. She was meeting some new men--and she was
pretending desperately. By gesture she was pretending and by words and
by the scarcely perceptible motionings of her eyelids that she belonged
to a class a little superior to the class with which she now had to do,
that a while ago she had been, and presently would again be, in a
higher, rarer air. She was almost painfully refined--she wore a last
year's hat covered with violets no more yearningly pretentious and
palpably artificial than herself.
Fascinated, Anthony and Gloria watched the girl sit down and radiate the
impression that she was only condescendingly present. For "me", her eyes
said, this is practically a slumming expedition, to be cloaked with
belittling laughter and semi-apologetics.
--And the other women passionately poured out the impression that though
they were in the crowd they were not of it. This was not the sort of
place to which they were accustomed; they had dropped in because it was
near by and convenient--every party in the restaurant poured out that
impression ... who knew? They were forever changing class, all of
them--the women often marrying above their opportunities, the men
striking suddenly a magnificent opulence: a sufficiently preposterous
advertising scheme, a celestialized ice cream cone. Meanwhile, they met
here to eat, closing their eyes to the economy displayed in infrequent
changings of table-cloths, in the casualness of the cabaret performers,
most of all in the colloquial carelessness and familiarity of the
waiters. One was sure that these waiters were not impressed by their
patrons. One expected that presently they would sit at the tables ...
"Do you object to this?" inquired Anthony.
Gloria's face warmed and for the first time that evening she smiled.
"I love it," she said frankly. It was impossible to doubt her. Her gray
eyes roved here and there, drowsing, idle or alert, on each group,
passing to the next with unconcealed enjoyment, and to Anthony were made
plain the different values of her profile, the wonderfully alive
expressions of her mouth, and the authentic distinction of face and form
and manner that made her like a single flower amidst a collection of
cheap bric-à-brac. At her happiness, a gorgeous sentiment welled into
his eyes, choked him up, set his nerves a-tingle, and filled his throat
with husky and vibrant emotion. There was a hush upon the room. The
careless violins and saxophones, the shrill rasping complaint of a child
near by, the voice of the violet-hatted girl at the next table, all
moved slowly out, receded, and fell away like shadowy reflections on the
shining floor--and they two, it seemed to him, were alone and infinitely
remote, quiet. Surely the freshness of her cheeks was a gossamer
projection from a land of delicate and undiscovered shades; her hand
gleaming on the stained table-cloth was a shell from some far and wildly
Then the illusion snapped like a nest of threads; the room grouped
itself around him, voices, faces, movement; the garish shimmer of the
lights overhead became real, became portentous; breath began, the slow
respiration that she and he took in time with this docile hundred, the
rise and fall of bosoms, the eternal meaningless play and interplay and
tossing and reiterating of word and phrase--all these wrenched his
senses open to the suffocating pressure of life--and then her voice came
at him, cool as the suspended dream he had left behind.
"I belong here," she murmured, "I'm like these people."
For an instant this seemed a sardonic and unnecessary paradox hurled at
him across the impassable distances she created about herself. Her
entrancement had increased--her eyes rested upon a Semitic violinist who
swayed his shoulders to the rhythm of the year's mellowest fox-trot:
Right in-your ear--"
Again she spoke, from the centre of this pervasive illusion of her own.
It amazed him. It was like blasphemy from the mouth of a child.
"I'm like they are--like Japanese lanterns and crape paper, and the
music of that orchestra."
"You're a young idiot!" he insisted wildly. She shook her blond head.
"No, I'm not. I "am" like them.... You ought to see.... You don't know
me." She hesitated and her eyes came back to him, rested abruptly on
his, as though surprised at the last to see him there. "I've got a
streak of what you'd call cheapness. I don't know where I get it but
it's--oh, things like this and bright colors and gaudy vulgarity. I seem
to belong here. These people could appreciate me and take me for
granted, and these men would fall in love with me and admire me, whereas
the clever men I meet would just analyze me and tell me I'm this because
of this or that because of that."
--Anthony for the moment wanted fiercely to paint her, to set her down
"now", as she was, as, as with each relentless second she could never
"What were you thinking?" she asked.
"Just that I'm not a realist," he said, and then: "No, only the
romanticist preserves the things worth preserving."
Out of the deep sophistication of Anthony an understanding formed,
nothing atavistic or obscure, indeed scarcely physical at all, an
understanding remembered from the romancings of many generations of
minds that as she talked and caught his eyes and turned her lovely head,
she moved him as he had never been moved before. The sheath that held
her soul had assumed significance--that was all. She was a sun, radiant,
growing, gathering light and storing it--then after an eternity pouring
it forth in a glance, the fragment of a sentence, to that part of him
that cherished all beauty and all illusion.
THE CONNOISSEUR OF KISSES
From his undergraduate days as editor of The Harvard Crimson Richard
Caramel had desired to write. But as a senior he had picked up the
glorified illusion that certain men were set aside for "service" and,
going into the world, were to accomplish a vague yearnful something
which would react either in eternal reward or, at the least, in the
personal satisfaction of having striven for the greatest good of the
This spirit has long rocked the colleges in America. It begins, as a
rule, during the immaturities and facile impressions of freshman
year--sometimes back in preparatory school. Prosperous apostles known
for their emotional acting go the rounds of the universities and, by
frightening the amiable sheep and dulling the quickening of interest and
intellectual curiosity which is the purpose of all education, distil a
mysterious conviction of sin, harking back to childhood crimes and to
the ever-present menace of "women." To these lectures go the wicked
youths to cheer and joke and the timid to swallow the tasty pills, which
would be harmless if administered to farmers' wives and pious
drug-clerks but are rather dangerous medicine for these "future
leaders of men."
This octopus was strong enough to wind a sinuous tentacle about Richard
Caramel. The year after his graduation it called him into the slums of
New York to muck about with bewildered Italians as secretary to an
"Alien Young Men's Rescue Association." He labored at it over a year
before the monotony began to weary him. The aliens kept coming
inexhaustibly--Italians, Poles, Scandinavians, Czechs, Armenians--with
the same wrongs, the same exceptionally ugly faces and very much the
same smells, though he fancied that these grew more profuse and diverse
as the months passed. His eventual conclusions about the expediency of
service were vague, but concerning his own relation to it they were
abrupt and decisive. Any amiable young man, his head ringing with the
latest crusade, could accomplish as much as he could with the débris of
Europe--and it was time for him to write.
He had been living in a down-town Y.M.C.A., but when he quit the task of
making sow-ear purses out of sows' ears, he moved up-town and went to
work immediately as a reporter for The Sun. He kept at this for a year,
doing desultory writing on the side, with little success, and then one
day an infelicitous incident peremptorily closed his newspaper career.
On a February afternoon he was assigned to report a parade of Squadron
A. Snow threatening, he went to sleep instead before a hot fire, and
when he woke up did a smooth column about the muffled beats of the
horses' hoofs in the snow... This he handed in. Next morning a marked
copy of the paper was sent down to the City Editor with a scrawled note:
"Fire the man who wrote this." It seemed that Squadron A had also seen
the snow threatening--had postponed the parade until another day.
A week later he had begun "The Demon Lover."...
In January, the Monday of the months, Richard Caramel's nose was blue
constantly, a sardonic blue, vaguely suggestive of the flames licking
around a sinner. His book was nearly ready, and as it grew in
completeness it seemed to grow also in its demands, sapping him,
overpowering him, until he walked haggard and conquered in its shadow.
Not only to Anthony and Maury did he pour out his hopes and boasts and
indecisions, but to any one who could be prevailed upon to listen. He
called on polite but bewildered publishers, he discussed it with his
casual vis-à-vis at the Harvard Club; it was even claimed by Anthony
that he had been discovered, one Sunday night, debating the
transposition of Chapter Two with a literary ticket-collector in the
chill and dismal recesses of a Harlem subway station. And latest among
his confidantes was Mrs. Gilbert, who sat with him by the hour and
alternated between Bilphism and literature in an intense cross-fire.
"Shakespeare was a Bilphist," she assured him through a fixed smile.
"Oh, yes! He was a Bilphist. It's been proved."
At this Dick would look a bit blank.
"If you've read 'Hamlet' you can't help but see."
"Well, he--he lived in a more credulous age--a more religious age."
But she demanded the whole loaf:
"Oh, yes, but you see Bilphism isn't a religion. It's the science of all
religions." She smiled defiantly at him. This was the "bon mot" of her
belief. There was something in the arrangement of words which grasped
her mind so definitely that the statement became superior to any
obligation to define itself. It is not unlikely that she would have
accepted any idea encased in this radiant formula--which was perhaps not
a formula; it was the "reductio ad absurdum" of all formulas.
Then eventually, but gorgeously, would come Dick's turn.
"You've heard of the new poetry movement. You haven't? Well, it's a lot
of young poets that are breaking away from the old forms and doing a lot
of good. Well, what I was going to say was that my book is going to
start a new prose movement, a sort of renaissance."
"I'm sure it will," beamed Mrs. Gilbert. "I'm "sure" it will. I went to
Jenny Martin last Tuesday, the palmist, you know, that every one's "mad"
about. I told her my nephew was engaged upon a work and she said she
knew I'd be glad to hear that his success would be "extraordinary". But
she'd never seen you or known anything about you--not even your "name"."
Having made the proper noises to express his amazement at this
astounding phenomenon, Dick waved her theme by him as though he were an
arbitrary traffic policeman, and, so to speak, beckoned forward his
"I'm absorbed, Aunt Catherine," he assured her, "I really am. All my
friends are joshing me--oh, I see the humor in it and I don't care. I
think a person ought to be able to take joshing. But I've got a sort of
conviction," he concluded gloomily.
"You're an ancient soul, I always say."
"Maybe I am." Dick had reached the stage where he no longer fought, but
submitted. He "must" be an ancient soul, he fancied grotesquely; so old
as to be absolutely rotten. However, the reiteration of the phrase still
somewhat embarrassed him and sent uncomfortable shivers up his back. He
changed the subject.
"Where is my distinguished cousin Gloria?"
"She's on the go somewhere, with some one."
Dick paused, considered, and then, screwing up his face into what was
evidently begun as a smile but ended as a terrifying frown, delivered
"I think my friend Anthony Patch is in love with her."
Mrs. Gilbert started, beamed half a second too late, and breathed her
"Really?" in the tone of a detective play-whisper.
"I "think" so," corrected Dick gravely. "She's the first girl I've ever
seen him with, so much."
"Well, of course," said Mrs. Gilbert with meticulous carelessness,
"Gloria never makes me her confidante. She's very secretive. Between you
and me"--she bent forward cautiously, obviously determined that only
Heaven and her nephew should share her confession--"between you and me,
I'd like to see her settle down."
Dick arose and paced the floor earnestly, a small, active, already
rotund young man, his hands thrust unnaturally into his bulging pockets.
"I'm not claiming I'm right, mind you," he assured the
infinitely-of-the-hotel steel-engraving which smirked respectably back
at him. "I'm saying nothing that I'd want Gloria to know. But I think
Mad Anthony is interested--tremendously so. He talks about her
constantly. In any one else that'd be a bad sign."
"Gloria is a very young soul--" began Mrs. Gilbert eagerly, but her
nephew interrupted with a hurried sentence:
"Gloria'd be a very young nut not to marry him." He stopped and faced
her, his expression a battle map of lines and dimples, squeezed and
strained to its ultimate show of intensity--this as if to make up by his
sincerity for any indiscretion in his words. "Gloria's a wild one, Aunt
Catherine. She's uncontrollable. How she's done it I don't know, but
lately she's picked up a lot of the funniest friends. She doesn't seem
to care. And the men she used to go with around New York were--" He
paused for breath.
"Yes-yes-yes," interjected Mrs. Gilbert, with an anaemic attempt to hide
the immense interest with which she listened.
"Well," continued Richard Caramel gravely, "there it is. I mean that the
men she went with and the people she went with used to be first rate.
Now they aren't."
Mrs. Gilbert blinked very fast--her bosom trembled, inflated, remained
so for an instant, and with the exhalation her words flowed out in
She knew, she cried in a whisper; oh, yes, mothers see these things. But
what could she do? He knew Gloria. He'd seen enough of Gloria to know
how hopeless it was to try to deal with her. Gloria had been so
spoiled--in a rather complete and unusual way. She had been suckled
until she was three, for instance, when she could probably have chewed
sticks. Perhaps--one never knew--it was this that had given that health
and "hardiness" to her whole personality. And then ever since she was
twelve years old she'd had boys about her so thick--oh, so thick one
couldn't "move". At sixteen she began going to dances at preparatory
schools, and then came the colleges; and everywhere she went, boys,
boys, boys. At first, oh, until she was eighteen there had been so many
that it never seemed one any more than the others, but then she began to
single them out.
She knew there had been a string of affairs spread over about three
years, perhaps a dozen of them altogether. Sometimes the men were
undergraduates, sometimes just out of college--they lasted on an average
of several months each, with short attractions in between. Once or twice
they had endured longer and her mother had hoped she would be engaged,
but always a new one came--a new one--
The men? Oh, she made them miserable, literally! There was only one who
had kept any sort of dignity, and he had been a mere child, young Carter
Kirby, of Kansas City, who was so conceited anyway that he just sailed
out on his vanity one afternoon and left for Europe next day with his
father. The others had been--wretched. They never seemed to know when
she was tired of them, and Gloria had seldom been deliberately unkind.
They would keep phoning, writing letters to her, trying to see her,
making long trips after her around the country. Some of them had
confided in Mrs. Gilbert, told her with tears in their eyes that they
would never get over Gloria ... at least two of them had since married,
though.... But Gloria, it seemed, struck to kill--to this day Mr.
Carstairs called up once a week, and sent her flowers which she no
longer bothered to refuse.
Several times, twice, at least, Mrs. Gilbert knew it had gone as far as
a private engagement--with Tudor Baird and that Holcome boy at Pasadena.
She was sure it had, because--this must go no further--she had come in
unexpectedly and found Gloria acting, well, very much engaged indeed.
She had not spoken to her daughter, of course. She had had a certain
sense of delicacy and, besides, each time she had expected an
announcement in a few weeks. But the announcement never came; instead, a
new man came.
Scenes! Young men walking up and down the library like caged tigers!
Young men glaring at each other in the hall as one came and the other
left! Young men calling up on the telephone and being hung up upon in
desperation! Young men threatening South America! ... Young men writing
the most pathetic letters! (She said nothing to this effect, but Dick
fancied that Mrs. Gilbert's eyes had seen some of these letters.)
... And Gloria, between tears and laughter, sorry, glad, out of love and
in love, miserable, nervous, cool, amidst a great returning of presents,
substitution of pictures in immemorial frames, and taking of hot baths
and beginning again--with the next.
That state of things continued, assumed an air of permanency. Nothing
harmed Gloria or changed her or moved her. And then out of a clear sky
one day she informed her mother that undergraduates wearied her. She was
absolutely going to no more college dances.
This had begun the change--not so much in her actual habits, for she
danced, and had as many "dates" as ever--but they were dates in a
different spirit. Previously it had been a sort of pride, a matter of
her own vainglory. She had been, probably, the most celebrated and
sought-after young beauty in the country. Gloria Gilbert of Kansas City!
She had fed on it ruthlessly--enjoying the crowds around her, the manner
in which the most desirable men singled her out; enjoying the fierce
jealousy of other girls; enjoying the fabulous, not to say scandalous,
and, her mother was glad to say, entirely unfounded rumors about
her--for instance, that she had gone in the Yale swimming-pool one night
in a chiffon evening dress.
And from loving it with a vanity that was almost masculine--it had been
in the nature of a triumphant and dazzling career--she became suddenly
anaesthetic to it. She retired. She who had dominated countless parties,
who had blown fragrantly through many ballrooms to the tender tribute of
many eyes, seemed to care no longer. He who fell in love with her now
was dismissed utterly, almost angrily. She went listlessly with the most
indifferent men. She continually broke engagements, not as in the past
from a cool assurance that she was irreproachable, that the man she
insulted would return like a domestic animal--but indifferently, without
contempt or pride. She rarely stormed at men any more--she yawned at
them. She seemed--and it was so strange--she seemed to her mother to be
Richard Caramel listened. At first he had remained standing, but as his
aunt's discourse waxed in content--it stands here pruned by half, of all
side references to the youth of Gloria's soul and to Mrs. Gilbert's own
mental distresses--he drew a chair up and attended rigorously as she
floated, between tears and plaintive helplessness, down the long story
of Gloria's life. When she came to the tale of this last year, a tale of
the ends of cigarettes left all over New York in little trays marked
"Midnight Frolic" and "Justine Johnson's Little Club," he began nodding
his head slowly, then faster and faster, until, as she finished on a
staccato note, it was bobbing briskly up and down, absurdly like a
doll's wired head, expressing--almost anything.
In a sense Gloria's past was an old story to him. He had followed it
with the eyes of a journalist, for he was going to write a book about
her some day. But his interests, just at present, were family interests.
He wanted to know, in particular, who was this Joseph Bloeckman that he
had seen her with several times; and those two girls she was with
constantly, "this" Rachael Jerryl and "this" Miss Kane--surely Miss Kane
wasn't exactly the sort one would associate with Gloria!
But the moment had passed. Mrs. Gilbert having climbed the hill of
exposition was about to glide swiftly down the ski-jump of collapse. Her
eyes were like a blue sky seen through two round, red window-casements.
The flesh about her mouth was trembling.
And at the moment the door opened, admitting into the room Gloria and
the two young ladies lately mentioned.
TWO YOUNG WOMEN
"How do you do, Mrs. Gilbert!"
Miss Kane and Miss Jerryl are presented to Mr. Richard Caramel. "This is
"I've heard so much about you," says Miss Kane between a giggle and a
"How do you do," says Miss Jerryl shyly.
Richard Caramel tries to move about as if his figure were better. He is
torn between his innate cordiality and the fact that he considers these
girls rather common--not at all the Farmover type.
Gloria has disappeared into the bedroom.
"Do sit down," beams Mrs. Gilbert, who is by now quite herself. "Take
off your things." Dick is afraid she will make some remark about the age
of his soul, but he forgets his qualms in completing a conscientious,
novelist's examination of the two young women.
Muriel Kane had originated in a rising family of East Orange. She was
short rather than small, and hovered audaciously between plumpness and
width. Her hair was black and elaborately arranged. This, in conjunction
with her handsome, rather bovine eyes, and her over-red lips, combined
to make her resemble Theda Bara, the prominent motion picture actress.
People told her constantly that she was a "vampire," and she believed
them. She suspected hopefully that they were afraid of her, and she did
her utmost under all circumstances to give the impression of danger. An
imaginative man could see the red flag that she constantly carried,
waving it wildly, beseechingly--and, alas, to little spectacular avail.
She was also tremendously timely: she knew the latest songs, all the
latest songs--when one of them was played on the phonograph she would
rise to her feet and rock her shoulders back and forth and snap her
fingers, and if there was no music she would accompany herself
Her conversation was also timely: "I don't care," she would say, "I
should worry and lose my figure"--and again: "I can't make my feet
behave when I hear that tune. Oh, baby!"
Her finger-nails were too long and ornate, polished to a pink and
unnatural fever. Her clothes were too tight, too stylish, too vivid, her
eyes too roguish, her smile too coy. She was almost pitifully
overemphasized from head to foot.
The other girl was obviously a more subtle personality. She was an
exquisitely dressed Jewess with dark hair and a lovely milky pallor. She
seemed shy and vague, and these two qualities accentuated a rather
delicate charm that floated about her. Her family were "Episcopalians,"
owned three smart women's shops along Fifth Avenue, and lived in a
magnificent apartment on Riverside Drive. It seemed to Dick, after a few
moments, that she was attempting to imitate Gloria--he wondered that
people invariably chose inimitable people to imitate.
"We had the most "hectic" time!" Muriel was exclaiming enthusiastically.
"There was a crazy woman behind us on the bus. She was absitively,
posolutely "nutty"! She kept talking to herself about something she'd
like to do to somebody or something. I was "pet"rified, but Gloria
simply "wouldn't" get off."
Mrs. Gilbert opened her mouth, properly awed.
"Oh, she was crazy. But we should worry, she didn't hurt us. Ugly!
Gracious! The man across from us said her face ought to be on a
night-nurse in a home for the blind, and we all "howled", naturally, so
the man tried to pick us up."
Presently Gloria emerged from her bedroom and in unison every eye turned
on her. The two girls receded into a shadowy background,
"We've been talking about you," said Dick quickly, "--your mother and
"Well," said Gloria.
A pause--Muriel turned to Dick.
"You're a great writer, aren't you?"
"I'm a writer," he confessed sheepishly.
"I always say," said Muriel earnestly, "that if I ever had time to write
down all my experiences it'd make a wonderful book."
Rachael giggled sympathetically; Richard Caramel's bow was almost
stately. Muriel continued:
"But I don't see how you can sit down and do it. And poetry! Lordy, I
can't make two lines rhyme. Well, I should worry!"
Richard Caramel with difficulty restrained a shout of laughter. Gloria
was chewing an amazing gum-drop and staring moodily out the window. Mrs.
Gilbert cleared her throat and beamed.
"But you see," she said in a sort of universal exposition, "you're not
an ancient soul--like Richard."
The Ancient Soul breathed a gasp of relief--it was out at last.
Then as if she had been considering it for five minutes, Gloria made a
"I'm going to give a party."
"Oh, can I come?" cried Muriel with facetious daring.
"A dinner. Seven people: Muriel and Rachael and I, and you, Dick, and
Anthony, and that man named Noble--I liked him--and Bloeckman."
Muriel and Rachael went into soft and purring ecstasies of enthusiasm.
Mrs. Gilbert blinked and beamed. With an air of casualness Dick broke in
with a question:
"Who is this fellow Bloeckman, Gloria?"
Scenting a faint hostility, Gloria turned to him.
"Joseph Bloeckman? He's the moving picture man. Vice-president of 'Films
Par Excellence.' He and father do a lot of business."
"Well, will you all come?"
They would all come. A date was arranged within the week. Dick rose,
adjusted hat, coat, and muffler, and gave out a general smile.
"By-by," said Muriel, waving her hand gaily, "call me up some time."
Richard Caramel blushed for her.
DEPLORABLE END OF THE CHEVALIER O'KEEFE
It was Monday and Anthony took Geraldine Burke to luncheon at the Beaux
Arts--afterward they went up to his apartment and he wheeled out the
little rolling-table that held his supply of liquor, selecting vermouth,
gin, and absinthe for a proper stimulant.
Geraldine Burke, usher at Keith's, had been an amusement of several
months. She demanded so little that he liked her, for since a lamentable
affair with a débutante the preceding summer, when he had discovered
that after half a dozen kisses a proposal was expected, he had been wary
of girls of his own class. It was only too easy to turn a critical eye
on their imperfections: some physical harshness or a general lack of
personal delicacy--but a girl who was usher at Keith's was approached
with a different attitude. One could tolerate qualities in an intimate
valet that would be unforgivable in a mere acquaintance on one's
Geraldine, curled up at the foot of the lounge, considered him with
narrow slanting eyes.
"You drink all the time, don't you?" she said suddenly.
"Why, I suppose so," replied Anthony in some surprise. "Don't you?"
"Nope. I go on parties sometimes--you know, about once a week, but I
only take two or three drinks. You and your friends keep on drinking all
the time. I should think you'd ruin your health."
Anthony was somewhat touched.
"Why, aren't you sweet to worry about me!"
"Well, I do."
"I don't drink so very much," he declared. "Last month I didn't touch a
drop for three weeks. And I only get really tight about once a week."
"But you have something to drink every day and you're only twenty-five.
Haven't you any ambition? Think what you'll be at forty?"
"I sincerely trust that I won't live that long."
She clicked her tongue with her teeth.
"You cra-azy!" she said as he mixed another cocktail--and then: "Are you
any relation to Adam Patch?"
"Yes, he's my grandfather."
"Really?" She was obviously thrilled.
"That's funny. My daddy used to work for him."
"He's a queer old man."
"Is he nice?" she demanded.
"Well, in private life he's seldom unnecessarily disagreeable."
"Tell us about him."
"Why," Anthony considered "--he's all shrunken up and he's got the
remains of some gray hair that always looks as though the wind were in
it. He's very moral."
"He's done a lot of good," said Geraldine with intense gravity.
"Rot!" scoffed Anthony. "He's a pious ass--a chickenbrain."
Her mind left the subject and flitted on.
"Why don't you live with him?"
"Why don't I board in a Methodist parsonage?"
Again she made a little clicking sound to express disapproval. Anthony
thought how moral was this little waif at heart--how completely moral
she would still be after the inevitable wave came that would wash her
off the sands of respectability.
"Do you hate him?"
"I wonder. I never liked him. You never like people who do things for
"Does he hate you?"
"My dear Geraldine," protested Anthony, frowning humorously, "do have
another cocktail. I annoy him. If I smoke a cigarette he comes into the
room sniffing. He's a prig, a bore, and something of a hypocrite. I
probably wouldn't be telling you this if I hadn't had a few drinks, but
I don't suppose it matters."
Geraldine was persistently interested. She held her glass, untasted,
between finger and thumb and regarded him with eyes in which there was a
touch of awe.
"How do you mean a hypocrite?"
"Well," said Anthony impatiently, "maybe he's not. But he doesn't like
the things that I like, and so, as far as I'm concerned, he's
"Hm." Her curiosity seemed, at length, satisfied. She sank back into the
sofa and sipped her cocktail.
"You're a funny one," she commented thoughtfully. "Does everybody want
to marry you because your grandfather is rich?"
"They don't--but I shouldn't blame them if they did. Still, you see, I
never intend to marry."
She scorned this.
"You'll fall in love someday. Oh, you will--I know." She nodded wisely.
"It'd be idiotic to be overconfident. That's what ruined the Chevalier
"Who was he?"
"A creature of my splendid mind. He's my one creation, the Chevalier."
"Cra-a-azy!" she murmured pleasantly, using the clumsy rope ladder with
which she bridged all gaps and climbed after her mental superiors.
Subconsciously she felt that it eliminated distances and brought the
person whose imagination had eluded her back within range.
"Oh, no!" objected Anthony, "oh, no, Geraldine. You mustn't play the
alienist upon the Chevalier. If you feel yourself unable to understand
him I won't bring him in. Besides, I should feel a certain uneasiness
because of his regrettable reputation."
"I guess I can understand anything that's got any sense to it," answered
Geraldine a bit testily.
"In that case there are various episodes in the life of the Chevalier
which might prove diverting."
"It was his untimely end that caused me to think of him and made him
apropos in the conversation. I hate to introduce him end foremost, but
it seems inevitable that the Chevalier must back into your life."
"Well, what about him? Did he die?"
"He did! In this manner. He was an Irishman, Geraldine, a semi-fictional
Irishman--the wild sort with a genteel brogue and 'reddish hair.' He was
exiled from Erin in the late days of chivalry and, of course, crossed
over to France. Now the Chevalier O'Keefe, Geraldine, had, like me, one
weakness. He was enormously susceptible to all sorts and conditions of
women. Besides being a sentimentalist he was a romantic, a vain fellow,
a man of wild passions, a little blind in one eye and almost stone-blind
in the other. Now a male roaming the world in this condition is as
helpless as a lion without teeth, and in consequence the Chevalier was
made utterly miserable for twenty years by a series of women who hated
him, used him, bored him, aggravated him, sickened him, spent his money,
made a fool of him--in brief, as the world has it, loved him.
"This was bad, Geraldine, and as the Chevalier, save for this one
weakness, this exceeding susceptibility, was a man of penetration, he
decided that he would rescue himself once and for all from these drains
upon him. With this purpose he went to a very famous monastery in
Champagne called--well, anachronistically known as St. Voltaire's. It
was the rule at St. Voltaire's that no monk could descend to the ground
story of the monastery so long as he lived, but should exist engaged in
prayer and contemplation in one of the four towers, which were called
after the four commandments of the monastery rule: Poverty, Chastity,
Obedience, and Silence.
"When the day came that was to witness the Chevalier's farewell to the
world he was utterly happy. He gave all his Greek books to his landlady,
and his sword he sent in a golden sheath to the King of France, and all
his mementos of Ireland he gave to the young Huguenot who sold fish in
the street where he lived.
"Then he rode out to St. Voltaire's, slew his horse at the door, and
presented the carcass to the monastery cook.
"At five o'clock that night he felt, for the first time, free--forever
free from sex. No woman could enter the monastery; no monk could descend
below the second story. So as he climbed the winding stair that led to
his cell at the very top of the Tower of Chastity he paused for a moment
by an open window which looked down fifty feet on to a road below. It
was all so beautiful, he thought, this world that he was leaving, the
golden shower of sun beating down upon the long fields, the spray of
trees in the distance, the vineyards, quiet and green, freshening wide
miles before him. He leaned his elbows on the window casement and gazed
at the winding road.
"Now, as it happened, Thérèse, a peasant girl of sixteen from a
neighboring village, was at that moment passing along this same road
that ran in front of the monastery. Five minutes before, the little
piece of ribbon which held up the stocking on her pretty left leg had
worn through and broken. Being a girl of rare modesty she had thought to
wait until she arrived home before repairing it, but it had bothered her
to such an extent that she felt she could endure it no longer. So, as
she passed the Tower of Chastity, she stopped and with a pretty gesture
lifted her skirt--as little as possible, be it said to her credit--to
adjust her garter.
"Up in the tower the newest arrival in the ancient monastery of St.
Voltaire, as though pulled forward by a gigantic and irresistible hand,
leaned from the window. Further he leaned and further until suddenly one
of the stones loosened under his weight, broke from its cement with a
soft powdery sound--and, first headlong, then head over heels, finally
in a vast and impressive revolution tumbled the Chevalier O'Keefe, bound
for the hard earth and eternal damnation.
"Thérèse was so much upset by the occurrence that she ran all the way
home and for ten years spent an hour a day in secret prayer for the soul
of the monk whose neck and vows were simultaneously broken on that
unfortunate Sunday afternoon.
"And the Chevalier O'Keefe, being suspected of suicide, was not buried
in consecrated ground, but tumbled into a field near by, where he
doubtless improved the quality of the soil for many years afterward.
Such was the untimely end of a very brave and gallant gentleman. What do
you think, Geraldine?"
But Geraldine, lost long before, could only smile roguishly, wave her
first finger at him, and repeat her bridge-all, her explain-all:
"Crazy!" she said, "you cra-a-azy!"
His thin face was kindly, she thought, and his eyes quite gentle. She
liked him because he was arrogant without being conceited, and because,
unlike the men she met about the theatre, he had a horror of being
conspicuous. What an odd, pointless story! But she had enjoyed the part
about the stocking!
After the fifth cocktail he kissed her, and between laughter and
bantering caresses and a half-stifled flare of passion they passed an
hour. At four-thirty she claimed an engagement, and going into the
bathroom she rearranged her hair. Refusing to let him order her a taxi
she stood for a moment in the doorway.
"You "will" get married," she was insisting, "you wait and see."
Anthony was playing with an ancient tennis ball, and he bounced it
carefully on the floor several times before he answered with a soupçon
"You're a little idiot, Geraldine."
She smiled provokingly.
"Oh, I am, am I? Want to bet?"
"That'd be silly too."
"Oh, it would, would it? Well, I'll just bet you'll marry somebody
inside of a year."
Anthony bounced the tennis ball very hard. This was one of his handsome
days, she thought; a sort of intensity had displaced the melancholy in
his dark eyes.
"Geraldine," he said, at length, "in the first place I have no one I
want to marry; in the second place I haven't enough money to support two
people; in the third place I am entirely opposed to marriage for people
of my type; in the fourth place I have a strong distaste for even the
abstract consideration of it."
But Geraldine only narrowed her eyes knowingly, made her clicking sound,
and said she must be going. It was late.
"Call me up soon," she reminded him as he kissed her goodbye, "you
haven't for three weeks, you know."
"I will," he promised fervently.
He shut the door and coming back into the room stood for a moment lost
in thought with the tennis ball still clasped in his hand. There was one
of his lonelinesses coming, one of those times when he walked the
streets or sat, aimless and depressed, biting a pencil at his desk. It
was a self-absorption with no comfort, a demand for expression with no
outlet, a sense of time rushing by, ceaselessly and wastefully--assuaged
only by that conviction that there was nothing to waste, because all
efforts and attainments were equally valueless.
He thought with emotion--aloud, ejaculative, for he was hurt and
"No "idea" of getting married, by "God"!"
Of a sudden he hurled the tennis ball violently across the room, where
it barely missed the lamp, and, rebounding here and there for a moment,
lay still upon the floor.
SIGNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT
For her dinner Gloria had taken a table in the Cascades at the Biltmore,
and when the men met in the hall outside a little after eight, "that
person Bloeckman" was the target of six masculine eyes. He was a
stoutening, ruddy Jew of about thirty-five, with an expressive face
under smooth sandy hair--and, no doubt, in most business gatherings his
personality would have been considered ingratiating. He sauntered up to
the three younger men, who stood in a group smoking as they waited for
their hostess, and introduced himself with a little too evident
assurance--nevertheless it is to be doubted whether he received the
intended impression of faint and ironic chill: there was no hint of
understanding in his manner.
"You related to Adam J. Patch?" he inquired of Anthony, emitting two
slender strings of smoke from nostrils overwide.
Anthony admitted it with the ghost of a smile.
"He's a fine man," pronounced Bloeckman profoundly. "He's a fine example
of an American."
"Yes," agreed Anthony, "he certainly is."
--I detest these underdone men, he thought coldly. Boiled looking! Ought
to be shoved back in the oven; just one more minute would do it.
Bloeckman squinted at his watch.
"Time these girls were showing up ..."
--Anthony waited breathlessly; it came--
"... but then," with a widening smile, "you know how women are."
The three young men nodded; Bloeckman looked casually about him, his
eyes resting critically on the ceiling and then passing lower. His
expression combined that of a Middle Western farmer appraising his wheat
crop and that of an actor wondering whether he is observed--the public
manner of all good Americans. As he finished his survey he turned back
quickly to the reticent trio, determined to strike to their very
heart and core.
"You college men? ... Harvard, eh. I see the Princeton boys beat you
fellows in hockey."
Unfortunate man. He had drawn another blank. They had been three years
out and heeded only the big football games. Whether, after the failure
of this sally, Mr. Bloeckman would have perceived himself to be in a
cynical atmosphere is problematical, for--
Gloria arrived. Muriel arrived. Rachael arrived. After a hurried "Hello,
people!" uttered by Gloria and echoed by the other two, the three swept
by into the dressing room.
A moment later Muriel appeared in a state of elaborate undress and
"crept" toward them. She was in her element: her ebony hair was slicked
straight back on her head; her eyes were artificially darkened; she
reeked of insistent perfume. She was got up to the best of her ability
as a siren, more popularly a "vamp"--a picker up and thrower away of
men, an unscrupulous and fundamentally unmoved toyer with affections.
Something in the exhaustiveness of her attempt fascinated Maury at first
sight--a woman with wide hips affecting a panther-like litheness! As
they waited the extra three minutes for Gloria, and, by polite
assumption, for Rachael, he was unable to take his eyes from her. She
would turn her head away, lowering her eyelashes and biting her nether
lip in an amazing exhibition of coyness. She would rest her hands on her
hips and sway from side to side in tune to the music, saying:
"Did you ever hear such perfect ragtime? I just can't make my shoulders
behave when I hear that."
Mr. Bloeckman clapped his hands gallantly.
"You ought to be on the stage."
"I'd like to be!" cried Muriel; "will you back me?"
"I sure will."
With becoming modesty Muriel ceased her motions and turned to Maury,
asking what he had "seen" this year. He interpreted this as referring to
the dramatic world, and they had a gay and exhilarating exchange of
titles, after this manner:
MURIEL: Have you seen "Peg o' My Heart"?
MAURY: No, I haven't.
MURIEL: ("Eagerly") It's wonderful! You want to see it.
MAURY: Have you seen "Omar, the Tentmaker"?
MURIEL: No, but I hear it's wonderful. I'm very anxious to see it. Have
you seen "Fair and Warmer"?
MAURY: ("Hopefully") Yes.
MURIEL: I don't think it's very good. It's trashy.
MAURY: ("Faintly") Yes, that's true.
MURIEL: But I went to "Within the Law" last night and I thought it was
fine. Have you seen "The Little Cafe"?...
This continued until they ran out of plays. Dick, meanwhile, turned to
Mr. Bloeckman, determined to extract what gold he could from this
"I hear all the new novels are sold to the moving pictures as soon as
they come out."
"That's true. Of course the main thing in a moving picture is a strong
"Yes, I suppose so."
"So many novels are all full of talk and psychology. Of course those
aren't as valuable to us. It's impossible to make much of that
interesting on the screen."
"You want plots first," said Richard brilliantly.
"Of course. Plots first--" He paused, shifted his gaze. His pause
spread, included the others with all the authority of a warning finger.
Gloria followed by Rachael was coming out of the dressing room.
Among other things it developed during dinner that Joseph Bloeckman
never danced, but spent the music time watching the others with the
bored tolerance of an elder among children. He was a dignified man and a
proud one. Born in Munich he had begun his American career as a peanut
vender with a travelling circus. At eighteen he was a side show
ballyhoo; later, the manager of the side show, and, soon after, the
proprietor of a second-class vaudeville house. Just when the moving
picture had passed out of the stage of a curiosity and become a
promising industry he was an ambitious young man of twenty-six with some
money to invest, nagging financial ambitions and a good working
knowledge of the popular show business. That had been nine years before.
The moving picture industry had borne him up with it where it threw off
dozens of men with more financial ability, more imagination, and more
practical ideas...and now he sat here and contemplated the immortal
Gloria for whom young Stuart Holcome had gone from New York to
Pasadena--watched her, and knew that presently she would cease dancing
and come back to sit on his left hand.
He hoped she would hurry. The oysters had been standing some minutes.
Meanwhile Anthony, who had been placed on Gloria's left hand, was
dancing with her, always in a certain fourth of the floor. This, had
there been stags, would have been a delicate tribute to the girl,
meaning "Damn you, don't cut in!" It was very consciously intimate.
"Well," he began, looking down at her, "you look mighty sweet to-night."
She met his eyes over the horizontal half foot that separated them.
"In fact you're uncomfortably beautiful," he added. There was no smile
"And you're very charming."
"Isn't this nice?" he laughed. "We actually approve of each other."
"Don't you, usually?" She had caught quickly at his remark, as she
always did at any unexplained allusion to herself, however faint.
He lowered his voice, and when he spoke there was in it no more than a
wisp of badinage.
"Does a priest approve the Pope?"
"I don't know--but that's probably the vaguest compliment I ever
"Perhaps I can muster a few bromides."
"Well, I wouldn't have you strain yourself. Look at Muriel! Right here
next to us."
He glanced over his shoulder. Muriel was resting her brilliant cheek
against the lapel of Maury Noble's dinner coat and her powdered left arm
was apparently twisted around his head. One was impelled to wonder why
she failed to seize the nape of his neck with her hand. Her eyes, turned
ceiling-ward, rolled largely back and forth; her hips swayed, and as she
danced she kept up a constant low singing. This at first seemed to be a
translation of the song into some foreign tongue but became eventually
apparent as an attempt to fill out the metre of the song with the only
words she knew--the words of the title--
"He's a rag-picker,
A rag-time picking man,
Rag-picking, picking, pick, pick,
Rag-pick, pick, pick."
--and so on, into phrases still more strange and barbaric. When she
caught the amused glances of Anthony and Gloria she acknowledged them
only with a faint smile and a half-closing of her eyes, to indicate that
the music entering into her soul had put her into an ecstatic and
exceedingly seductive trance.
The music ended and they returned to their table, whose solitary but
dignified occupant arose and tendered each of them a smile so
ingratiating that it was as if he were shaking their hands and
congratulating them on a brilliant performance.
"Blockhead never will dance! I think he has a wooden leg," remarked
Gloria to the table at large. The three young men started and the
gentleman referred to winced perceptibly.
This was the one rough spot in the course of Bloeckman's acquaintance
with Gloria. She relentlessly punned on his name. First it had been
"Block-house." lately, the more invidious "Blockhead." He had requested
with a strong undertone of irony that she use his first name, and this
she had done obediently several times--then slipping, helpless,
repentant but dissolved in laughter, back into "Blockhead."
It was a very sad and thoughtless thing.
"I'm afraid Mr. Bloeckman thinks we're a frivolous crowd," sighed
Muriel, waving a balanced oyster in his direction.
"He has that air," murmured Rachael. Anthony tried to remember whether
she had said anything before. He thought not. It was her initial remark.
Mr. Bloeckman suddenly cleared his throat and said in a loud, distinct
"On the contrary. When a man speaks he's merely tradition. He has at
best a few thousand years back of him. But woman, why, she is the
miraculous mouthpiece of posterity."
In the stunned pause that followed this astounding remark, Anthony
choked suddenly on an oyster and hurried his napkin to his face. Rachael
and Muriel raised a mild if somewhat surprised laugh, in which Dick and
Maury joined, both of them red in the face and restraining
uproariousness with the most apparent difficulty.
"--My God!" thought Anthony. "It's a subtitle from one of his movies.
The man's memorized it!"
Gloria alone made no sound. She fixed Mr. Bloeckman with a glance of
"Well, for the love of Heaven! Where on earth did you dig that up?"
Bloeckman looked at her uncertainly, not sure of her intention. But in a
moment he recovered his poise and assumed the bland and consciously
tolerant smile of an intellectual among spoiled and callow youth.
The soup came up from the kitchen--but simultaneously the orchestra
leader came up from the bar, where he had absorbed the tone color
inherent in a seidel of beer. So the soup was left to cool during the
delivery of a ballad entitled "Everything's at Home Except Your Wife."
Then the champagne--and the party assumed more amusing proportions. The
men, except Richard Caramel, drank freely; Gloria and Muriel sipped a
glass apiece; Rachael Jerryl took none. They sat out the waltzes but
danced to everything else--all except Gloria, who seemed to tire after a
while and preferred to sit smoking at the table, her eyes now lazy, now
eager, according to whether she listened to Bloeckman or watched a
pretty woman among the dancers. Several times Anthony wondered what
Bloeckman was telling her. He was chewing a cigar back and forth in his
mouth, and had expanded after dinner to the extent of violent gestures.
Ten o'clock found Gloria and Anthony beginning a dance. Just as they
were out of ear-shot of the table she said in a low voice:
"Dance over by the door. I want to go down to the drug-store."
Obediently Anthony guided her through the crowd in the designated
direction; in the hall she left him for a moment, to reappear with a
cloak over her arm.
"I want some gum-drops," she said, humorously apologetic; "you can't
guess what for this time. It's just that I want to bite my finger-nails,
and I will if I don't get some gum-drops." She sighed, and resumed as
they stepped into the empty elevator: "I've been biting 'em all day. A
bit nervous, you see. Excuse the pun. It was unintentional--the words
just arranged themselves. Gloria Gilbert, the female wag."
Reaching the ground floor they naïvely avoided the hotel candy counter,
descended the wide front staircase, and walking through several
corridors found a drug-store in the Grand Central Station. After an
intense examination of the perfume counter she made her purchase. Then
on some mutual unmentioned impulse they strolled, arm in arm, not in the
direction from which they had come, but out into Forty-third Street.
The night was alive with thaw; it was so nearly warm that a breeze
drifting low along the sidewalk brought to Anthony a vision of an
unhoped-for hyacinthine spring. Above in the blue oblong of sky, around
them in the caress of the drifting air, the illusion of a new season
carried relief from the stiff and breathed-over atmosphere they had
left, and for a hushed moment the traffic sounds and the murmur of water
flowing in the gutters seemed an illusive and rarefied prolongation of
that music to which they had lately danced. When Anthony spoke it was
with surety that his words came from something breathless and desirous
that the night had conceived in their two hearts.
"Let's take a taxi and ride around a bit!" he suggested, without looking
Oh, Gloria, Gloria!
A cab yawned at the curb. As it moved off like a boat on a labyrinthine
ocean and lost itself among the inchoate night masses of the great
buildings, among the now stilled, now strident, cries and clangings,
Anthony put his arm around the girl, drew her over to him and kissed her
damp, childish mouth.
She was silent. She turned her face up to him, pale under the wisps and
patches of light that trailed in like moonshine through a foliage. Her
eyes were gleaming ripples in the white lake of her face; the shadows of
her hair bordered the brow with a persuasive unintimate dusk. No love
was there, surely; nor the imprint of any love. Her beauty was cool as
this damp breeze, as the moist softness of her own lips.
"You're such a swan in this light," he whispered after a moment. There
were silences as murmurous as sound. There were pauses that seemed about
to shatter and were only to be snatched back to oblivion by the
tightening of his arms about her and the sense that she was resting
there as a caught, gossamer feather, drifted in out of the dark. Anthony
laughed, noiselessly and exultantly, turning his face up and away from
her, half in an overpowering rush of triumph, half lest her sight of him
should spoil the splendid immobility of her expression. Such a kiss--it
was a flower held against the face, never to be described, scarcely to
be remembered; as though her beauty were giving off emanations of itself
which settled transiently and already dissolving upon his heart.
... The buildings fell away in melted shadows; this was the Park now,
and after a long while the great white ghost of the Metropolitan Museum
moved majestically past, echoing sonorously to the rush of the cab.
"Why, Gloria! Why, Gloria!"
Her eyes appeared to regard him out of many thousand years: all emotion
she might have felt, all words she might have uttered, would have seemed
inadequate beside the adequacy of her silence, ineloquent against the
eloquence of her beauty--and of her body, close to him, slender
"Tell him to turn around," she murmured, "and drive pretty fast going
Up in the supper room the air was hot. The table, littered with napkins
and ash-trays, was old and stale. It was between dances as they entered,
and Muriel Kane looked up with roguishness extraordinary.
"Well, where have "you" been?"
"To call up mother," answered Gloria coolly. "I promised her I would.
Did we miss a dance?"
Then followed an incident that though slight in itself Anthony had cause
to reflect on many years afterward. Joseph Bloeckman, leaning well back
in his chair, fixed him with a peculiar glance, in which several
emotions were curiously and inextricably mingled. He did not greet
Gloria except by rising, and he immediately resumed a conversation with
Richard Caramel about the influence of literature on the
The stark and unexpected miracle of a night fades out with the lingering
death of the last stars and the premature birth of the first newsboys.
The flame retreats to some remote and platonic fire; the white heat has
gone from the iron and the glow from the coal.
Along the shelves of Anthony's library, filling a wall amply, crept a
chill and insolent pencil of sunlight touching with frigid disapproval
Thérèse of France and Ann the Superwoman, Jenny of the Orient Ballet and
Zuleika the Conjurer--and Hoosier Cora--then down a shelf and into the
years, resting pityingly on the over-invoked shades of Helen, Thaïs,
Salome, and Cleopatra.
Anthony, shaved and bathed, sat in his most deeply cushioned chair and
watched it until at the steady rising of the sun it lay glinting for a
moment on the silk ends of the rug--and went out.
It was ten o'clock. The Sunday Times, scattered about his feet,
proclaimed by rotogravure and editorial, by social revelation and
sporting sheet, that the world had been tremendously engrossed during
the past week in the business of moving toward some splendid if somewhat
indeterminate goal. For his part Anthony had been once to his
grandfather's, twice to his broker's, and three times to his
tailor's--and in the last hour of the week's last day he had kissed a
very beautiful and charming girl.
When he reached home his imagination had been teeming with high pitched,
unfamiliar dreams. There was suddenly no question on his mind, no
eternal problem for a solution and resolution. He had experienced an
emotion that was neither mental nor physical, nor merely a mixture of
the two, and the love of life absorbed him for the present to the
exclusion of all else. He was content to let the experiment remain
isolated and unique. Almost impersonally he was convinced that no woman
he had ever met compared in any way with Gloria. She was deeply herself;
she was immeasurably sincere--of these things he was certain. Beside her
the two dozen schoolgirls and debutantes, young married women and waifs
and strays whom he had known were so many females, in the word's most
contemptuous sense, breeders and bearers, exuding still that faintly
odorous atmosphere of the cave and the nursery.
So far as he could see, she had neither submitted to any will of his nor
caressed his vanity--except as her pleasure in his company was a caress.
Indeed he had no reason for thinking she had given him aught that she
did not give to others. This was as it should be. The idea of an
entanglement growing out of the evening was as remote as it would have
been repugnant. And she had disclaimed and buried the incident with a
decisive untruth. Here were two young people with fancy enough to
distinguish a game from its reality--who by the very casualness with
which they met and passed on would proclaim themselves unharmed.
Having decided this he went to the phone and called up the Plaza Hotel.
Gloria was out. Her mother knew neither where she had gone nor when she
It was somehow at this point that the first wrongness in the case
asserted itself. There was an element of callousness, almost of
indecency, in Gloria's absence from home. He suspected that by going out
she had intrigued him into a disadvantage. Returning she would find his
name, and smile. Most discreetly! He should have waited a few hours in
order to drive home the utter inconsequence with which he regarded the
incident. What an asinine blunder! She would think he considered himself
particularly favored. She would think he was reacting with the most
inept intimacy to a quite trivial episode.
He remembered that during the previous month his janitor, to whom he had
delivered a rather muddled lecture on the "brother-hoove man," had come
up next day and, on the basis of what had happened the night before,
seated himself in the window seat for a cordial and chatty half-hour.
Anthony wondered in horror if Gloria would regard him as he had regarded
that man. Him--Anthony Patch! Horror!
It never occurred to him that he was a passive thing, acted upon by an
influence above and beyond Gloria, that he was merely the sensitive
plate on which the photograph was made. Some gargantuan photographer had
focussed the camera on Gloria and "snap"!--the poor plate could but
develop, confined like all things to its nature.
But Anthony, lying upon his couch and staring at the orange lamp, passed
his thin fingers incessantly through his dark hair and made new symbols
for the hours. She was in a shop now, it seemed, moving lithely among
the velvets and the furs, her own dress making, as she walked, a
debonair rustle in that world of silken rustles and cool soprano
laughter and scents of many slain but living flowers. The Minnies and
Pearls and jewels and jennies would gather round her like courtiers,
bearing wispy frailties of Georgette crepe, delicate chiffon to echo her
cheeks in faint pastel, milky lace to rest in pale disarray against her
neck--damask was used but to cover priests and divans in these days, and
cloth of Samarand was remembered only by the romantic poets.
She would go elsewhere after a while, tilting her head a hundred ways
under a hundred bonnets, seeking in vain for mock cherries to match her
lips or plumes that were graceful as her own supple body.
Noon would come--she would hurry along Fifth Avenue, a Nordic Ganymede,
her fur coat swinging fashionably with her steps, her cheeks redder by a
stroke of the wind's brush, her breath a delightful mist upon the
bracing air--and the doors of the Ritz would revolve, the crowd would
divide, fifty masculine eyes would start, stare, as she gave back
forgotten dreams to the husbands of many obese and comic women.
One o'clock. With her fork she would tantalize the heart of an adoring
artichoke, while her escort served himself up in the thick, dripping
sentences of an enraptured man.
Four o'clock: her little feet moving to melody, her face distinct in the
crowd, her partner happy as a petted puppy and mad as the immemorial
hatter.... Then--then night would come drifting down and perhaps another
damp. The signs would spill their light into the street. Who knew? No
wiser than he, they haply sought to recapture that picture done in cream
and shadow they had seen on the hushed Avenue the night before. And they
might, ah, they might! A thousand taxis would yawn at a thousand
corners, and only to him was that kiss forever lost and done. In a
thousand guises Thaïs would hail a cab and turn up her face for loving.
And her pallor would be virginal and lovely, and her kiss chaste as
He sprang excitedly to his feet. How inappropriate that she should be
out! He had realized at last what he wanted--to kiss her again, to find
rest in her great immobility. She was the end of all restlessness, all
Anthony dressed and went out, as he should have done long before, and
down to Richard Caramel's room to hear the last revision of the last
chapter of "The Demon Lover." He did not call Gloria again until six. He
did not find her in until eight and--oh, climax of anticlimaxes!--she
could give him no engagement until Tuesday afternoon. A broken piece of
gutta-percha clattered to the floor as he banged up the phone.
Tuesday was freezing cold. He called at a bleak two o'clock and as they
shook hands he wondered confusedly whether he had ever kissed her; it
was almost unbelievable--he seriously doubted if she remembered it.
"I called you four times on Sunday," he told her.
There was surprise in her voice and interest in her expression. Silently
he cursed himself for having told her. He might have known her pride did
not deal in such petty triumphs. Even then he had not guessed at the
truth--that never having had to worry about men she had seldom used the
wary subterfuges, the playings out and haulings in, that were the stock
in trade of her sisterhood. When she liked a man, that was trick enough.
Did she think she loved him--there was an ultimate and fatal thrust. Her
charm endlessly preserved itself.
"I was anxious to see you," he said simply. "I want to talk to you--I
mean really talk, somewhere where we can be alone. May I?"
"What do you mean?"
He swallowed a sudden lump of panic. He felt that she knew what he
"I mean, not at a tea table," he said.
"Well, all right, but not to-day. I want to get some exercise. Let's
It was bitter and raw. All the evil hate in the mad heart of February
was wrought into the forlorn and icy wind that cut its way cruelly
across Central Park and down along Fifth Avenue. It was almost
impossible to talk, and discomfort made him distracted, so much so that
he turned at Sixty-first Street to find that she was no longer beside
him. He looked around. She was forty feet in the rear standing
motionless, her face half hidden in her fur coat collar, moved either by
anger or laughter--he could not determine which. He started back.
"Don't let me interrupt your walk!" she called.
"I'm mighty sorry," he answered in confusion. "Did I go too fast?"
"I'm cold," she announced. "I want to go home. And you walk too fast."
"I'm very sorry."
Side by side they started for the Plaza. He wished he could see her
"Men don't usually get so absorbed in themselves when they're with me."
"That's very interesting."
"It "is" rather too cold to walk," he said, briskly, to hide his
She made no answer and he wondered if she would dismiss him at the hotel
entrance. She walked in without speaking, however, and to the elevator,
throwing him a single remark as she entered it:
"You'd better come up."
He hesitated for the fraction of a moment.
"Perhaps I'd better call some other time."
"Just as you say." Her words were murmured as an aside. The main concern
of life was the adjusting of some stray wisps of hair in the elevator
mirror. Her cheeks were brilliant, her eyes sparkled--she had never
seemed so lovely, so exquisitely to be desired.
Despising himself, he found that he was walking down the tenth-floor
corridor a subservient foot behind her; was in the sitting room while
she disappeared to shed her furs. Something had gone wrong--in his own
eyes he had lost a shred of dignity; in an unpremeditated yet
significant encounter he had been completely defeated.
However, by the time she reappeared in the sitting-room he had explained
himself to himself with sophistic satisfaction. After all he had done
the strongest thing, he thought. He had wanted to come up, he had come.
Yet what happened later on that afternoon must be traced to the
indignity he had experienced in the elevator; the girl was worrying him
intolerably, so much so that when she came out he involuntarily drifted
"Who's this Bloeckman, Gloria?"
"A business friend of father's."
"Odd sort of fellow!"
"He doesn't like you either," she said with a sudden smile.
"I'm flattered at his notice. He evidently considers me a--" He broke
off with "Is he in love with you?"
"I don't know."
"The deuce you don't," he insisted. "Of course he is. I remember the
look he gave me when we got back to the table. He'd probably have had me
quietly assaulted by a delegation of movie supes if you hadn't invented
that phone call."
"He didn't mind. I told him afterward what really happened."
"You told him!"
"He asked me."
"I don't like that very well," he remonstrated.
She laughed again.
"Oh, you don't?"
"What business is it of his?"
"None. That's why I told him."
Anthony in a turmoil bit savagely at his mouth.
"Why should I lie?" she demanded directly. "I'm not ashamed of anything
I do. It happened to interest him to know that I kissed you, and I
happened to be in a good humor, so I satisfied his curiosity by a simple
and precise 'yes.' Being rather a sensible man, after his fashion, he
dropped the subject."
"Except to say that he hated me."
"Oh, it worries you? Well, if you must probe this stupendous matter to
its depths he didn't say he hated you. I simply know he does."
"It doesn't wor----"
"Oh, let's drop it!" she cried spiritedly. "It's a most uninteresting
matter to me."
With a tremendous effort Anthony made his acquiescence a twist of
subject, and they drifted into an ancient question-and-answer game
concerned with each other's pasts, gradually warming as they discovered
the age-old, immemorial resemblances in tastes and ideas. They said
things that were more revealing than they intended--but each pretended
to accept the other at face, or rather word, value.
The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best
picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood
and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second
portrait, and a third--before long the best lines cancel out--and the
secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled
and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a
picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of
ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates
are accepted as true.
"It seems to me," Anthony was saying earnestly, "that the position of a
man with neither necessity nor ambition is unfortunate. Heaven knows
it'd be pathetic of me to be sorry for myself--yet, sometimes I
Her silence was encouragement. It was as near as she ever came to an
"--And there used to be dignified occupations for a gentleman who had
leisure, things a little more constructive than filling up the landscape
with smoke or juggling some one else's money. There's science, of
course: sometimes I wish I'd taken a good foundation, say at Boston
Tech. But now, by golly, I'd have to sit down for two years and struggle
through the fundamentals of physics and chemistry."
"I've told you I don't know what anybody ought to do," she said
ungraciously, and at her indifference his rancor was born again.
"Aren't you interested in anything except yourself?"
He glared; his growing enjoyment in the conversation was ripped to
shreds. She had been irritable and vindictive all day, and it seemed to
him that for this moment he hated her hard selfishness. He stared
morosely at the fire.
Then a strange thing happened. She turned to him and smiled, and as he
saw her smile every rag of anger and hurt vanity dropped from him--as
though his very moods were but the outer ripples of her own, as though
emotion rose no longer in his breast unless she saw fit to pull an
omnipotent controlling thread.
He moved closer and taking her hand pulled her ever so gently toward him
until she half lay against his shoulder. She smiled up at him as he
"Gloria," he whispered very softly. Again she had made a magic, subtle
and pervading as a spilt perfume, irresistible and sweet.
Afterward, neither the next day nor after many years, could he remember
the important things of that afternoon. Had she been moved? In his arms
had she spoken a little--or at all? What measure of enjoyment had she
taken in his kisses? And had she at any time lost herself ever
Oh, for him there was no doubt. He had risen and paced the floor in
sheer ecstasy. That such a girl should be; should poise curled in a
corner of the couch like a swallow newly landed from a clean swift
flight, watching him with inscrutable eyes. He would stop his pacing
and, half shy each time at first, drop his arm around her and find
She was fascinating, he told her. He had never met any one like her
before. He besought her jauntily but earnestly to send him away; he
didn't want to fall in love. He wasn't coming to see her any
more--already she had haunted too many of his ways.
What delicious romance! His true reaction was neither fear nor
sorrow--only this deep delight in being with her that colored the
banality of his words and made the mawkish seem sad and the posturing
seem wise. He "would" come back--eternally. He should have known!
"This is all. It's been very rare to have known you, very strange and
wonderful. But this wouldn't do--and wouldn't last." As he spoke there
was in his heart that tremulousness that we take for sincerity in
Afterward he remembered one reply of hers to something he had asked her.
He remembered it in this form--perhaps he had unconsciously arranged and
"A woman should be able to kiss a man beautifully and romantically
without any desire to be either his wife or his mistress."
As always when he was with her she seemed to grow gradually older until
at the end ruminations too deep for words would be wintering in
An hour passed, and the fire leaped up in little ecstasies as though its
fading life was sweet. It was five now, and the clock over the mantel
became articulate in sound. Then as if a brutish sensibility in him was
reminded by those thin, tinny beats that the petals were falling from
the flowered afternoon, Anthony pulled her quickly to her feet and held
her helpless, without breath, in a kiss that was neither a game nor
Her arms fell to her side. In an instant she was free.
"Don't!" she said quietly. "I don't want that."
She sat down on the far side of the lounge and gazed straight before
her. A frown had gathered between her eyes. Anthony sank down beside her
and closed his hand over hers. It was lifeless and unresponsive.
"Why, Gloria!" He made a motion as if to put his arm about her but she
"I don't want that," she repeated.
"I'm very sorry," he said, a little impatiently. "I--I didn't know you
made such fine distinctions."
She did not answer.
"Won't you kiss me, Gloria?"
"I don't want to." It seemed to him she had not moved for hours.
"A sudden change, isn't it?" Annoyance was growing in his voice.
"Is it?" She appeared uninterested. It was almost as though she were
looking at some one else.
"Perhaps I'd better go."
No reply. He rose and regarded her angrily, uncertainly. Again he sat
"Gloria, Gloria, won't you kiss me?"
"No." Her lips, parting for the word, had just faintly stirred.
Again he got to his feet, this time with less decision, less confidence.
"Then I'll go."
"All right--I'll go."
He was aware of a certain irremediable lack of originality in his
remarks. Indeed he felt that the whole atmosphere had grown oppressive.
He wished she would speak, rail at him, cry out upon him, anything but
this pervasive and chilling silence. He cursed himself for a weak fool;
his clearest desire was to move her, to hurt her, to see her wince.
Helplessly, involuntarily, he erred again.
"If you're tired of kissing me I'd better go."
He saw her lips curl slightly and his last dignity left him. She spoke,
"I believe you've made that remark several times before."
He looked about him immediately, saw his hat and coat on a
chair--blundered into them, during an intolerable moment. Looking again
at the couch he perceived that she had not turned, not even moved. With
a shaken, immediately regretted "good-by" he went quickly but without
dignity from the room.
For over a moment Gloria made no sound. Her lips were still curled; her
glance was straight, proud, remote. Then her eyes blurred a little, and
she murmured three words half aloud to the death-bound fire:
"Good-by, you ass!" she said.
The man had had the hardest blow of his life. He knew at last what he
wanted, but in finding it out it seemed that he had put it forever
beyond his grasp. He reached home in misery, dropped into an armchair
without even removing his overcoat, and sat there for over an hour, his
mind racing the paths of fruitless and wretched self-absorption. She had
sent him away! That was the reiterated burden of his despair. Instead of
seizing the girl and holding her by sheer strength until she became
passive to his desire, instead of beating down her will by the force of
his own, he had walked, defeated and powerless, from her door, with the
corners of his mouth drooping and what force there might have been in
his grief and rage hidden behind the manner of a whipped schoolboy. At
one minute she had liked him tremendously--ah, she had nearly loved him.
In the next he had become a thing of indifference to her, an insolent
and efficiently humiliated man.
He had no great self-reproach--some, of course, but there were other
things dominant in him now, far more urgent. He was not so much in love
with Gloria as mad for her. Unless he could have her near him again,
kiss her, hold her close and acquiescent, he wanted nothing more from
life. By her three minutes of utter unwavering indifference the girl had
lifted herself from a high but somehow casual position in his mind, to
be instead his complete preoccupation. However much his wild thoughts
varied between a passionate desire for her kisses and an equally
passionate craving to hurt and mar her, the residue of his mind craved
in finer fashion to possess the triumphant soul that had shone through
those three minutes. She was beautiful--but especially she was without
mercy. He must own that strength that could send him away.
At present no such analysis was possible to Anthony. His clarity of
mind, all those endless resources which he thought his irony had brought
him were swept aside. Not only for that night but for the days and weeks
that followed his books were to be but furniture and his friends only
people who lived and walked in a nebulous outer world from which he was
trying to escape--that world was cold and full of bleak wind, and for a
little while he had seen into a warm house where fires shone.
About midnight he began to realize that he was hungry. He went down into
Fifty-second Street, where it was so cold that he could scarcely see;
the moisture froze on his lashes and in the corners of his lips.
Everywhere dreariness had come down from the north, settling upon the
thin and cheerless street, where black bundled figures blacker still
against the night, moved stumbling along the sidewalk through the
shrieking wind, sliding their feet cautiously ahead as though they were
on skis. Anthony turned over toward Sixth Avenue, so absorbed in his
thoughts as not to notice that several passers-by had stared at him. His
overcoat was wide open, and the wind was biting in, hard and full of
... After a while a waitress spoke to him, a fat waitress with
black-rimmed eye-glasses from which dangled a long black cord.
Her voice, he considered, was unnecessarily loud. He looked up
"You wanna order or doncha?"
"Of course," he protested.
"Well, I ast you three times. This ain't no rest-room."
He glanced at the big clock and discovered with a start that it was
after two. He was down around Thirtieth Street somewhere, and after a
moment he found and translated the
[Transcribers note: The illustration shows the word "CHILD's" in mirror
in a white semicircle of letters upon the glass front. The place was
inhabited sparsely by three or four bleak and half-frozen night-hawks.
"Give me some bacon and eggs and coffee, please."
The waitress bent upon him a last disgusted glance and, looking
ludicrously intellectual in her corded glasses, hurried away.
God! Gloria's kisses had been such flowers. He remembered as though it
had been years ago the low freshness of her voice, the beautiful lines
of her body shining through her clothes, her face lily-colored under the
lamps of the street--under the lamps.
Misery struck at him again, piling a sort of terror upon the ache and
yearning. He had lost her. It was true--no denying it, no softening it.
But a new idea had seared his sky--what of Bloeckman! What would happen
now? There was a wealthy man, middle-aged enough to be tolerant with a
beautiful wife, to baby her whims and indulge her unreason, to wear her
as she perhaps wished to be worn--a bright flower in his button-hole,
safe and secure from the things she feared. He felt that she had been
playing with the idea of marrying Bloeckman, and it was well possible
that this disappointment in Anthony might throw her on sudden impulse
into Bloeckman's arms.
The idea drove him childishly frantic. He wanted to kill Bloeckman and
make him suffer for his hideous presumption. He was saying this over and
over to himself with his teeth tight shut, and a perfect orgy of hate
and fright in his eyes.
But, behind this obscene jealousy, Anthony was in love at last,
profoundly and truly in love, as the word goes between man and woman.
His coffee appeared at his elbow and gave off for a certain time a
gradually diminishing wisp of steam. The night manager, seated at his
desk, glanced at the motionless figure alone at the last table, and then
with a sigh moved down upon him just as the hour hand crossed the figure
three on the big clock.
After another day the turmoil subsided and Anthony began to exercise a
measure of reason. He was in love--he cried it passionately to himself.
The things that a week before would have seemed insuperable obstacles,
his limited income, his desire to be irresponsible and independent, had
in this forty hours become the merest chaff before the wind of his
infatuation. If he did not marry her his life would be a feeble parody
on his own adolescence. To be able to face people and to endure the
constant reminder of Gloria that all existence had become, it was
necessary for him to have hope. So he built hope desperately and
tenaciously out of the stuff of his dream, a hope flimsy enough, to be
sure, a hope that was cracked and dissipated a dozen times a day, a hope
mothered by mockery, but, nevertheless, a hope that would be brawn and
sinew to his self-respect.
Out of this developed a spark of wisdom, a true perception of his own
from out the effortless past.
"Memory is short," he thought.
So very short. At the crucial point the Trust President is on the stand,
a potential criminal needing but one push to be a jailbird, scorned by
the upright for leagues around. Let him be acquitted--and in a year all
is forgotten. "Yes, he did have some trouble once, just a technicality,
I believe." Oh, memory is very short!
Anthony had seen Gloria altogether about a dozen times, say two dozen
hours. Supposing he left her alone for a month, made no attempt to see
her or speak to her, and avoided every place where she might possibly
be. Wasn't it possible, the more possible because she had never loved
him, that at the end of that time the rush of events would efface his
personality from her conscious mind, and with his personality his
offense and humiliation? She would forget, for there would be other men.
He winced. The implication struck out at him--other men. Two
months--God! Better three weeks, two weeks----
He thought this the second evening after the catastrophe when he was
undressing, and at this point he threw himself down on the bed and lay
there, trembling very slightly and looking at the top of the canopy.
Two weeks--that was worse than no time at all. In two weeks he would
approach her much as he would have to now, without personality or
confidence--remaining still the man who had gone too far and then for a
period that in time was but a moment but in fact an eternity, whined.
No, two weeks was too short a time. Whatever poignancy there had been
for her in that afternoon must have time to dull. He must give her a
period when the incident should fade, and then a new period when she
should gradually begin to think of him, no matter how dimly, with a true
perspective that would remember his pleasantness as well as his
He fixed, finally, on six weeks as approximately the interval best
suited to his purpose, and on a desk calendar he marked the days off,
finding that it would fall on the ninth of April. Very well, on that day
he would phone and ask her if he might call. Until then--silence.
After his decision a gradual improvement was manifest. He had taken at
least a step in the direction to which hope pointed, and he realized
that the less he brooded upon her the better he would be able to give
the desired impression when they met.
In another hour he fell into a deep sleep.
Nevertheless, though, as the days passed, the glory of her hair dimmed
perceptibly for him and in a year of separation might have departed
completely, the six weeks held many abominable days. He dreaded the
sight of Dick and Maury, imagining wildly that they knew all--but when
the three met it was Richard Caramel and not Anthony who was the centre
of attention; "The Demon Lover" had been accepted for immediate
publication. Anthony felt that from now on he moved apart. He no longer
craved the warmth and security of Maury's society which had cheered him
no further back than November. Only Gloria could give that now and no
one else ever again. So Dick's success rejoiced him only casually and
worried him not a little. It meant that the world was going
ahead--writing and reading and publishing--and living. And he wanted the
world to wait motionless and breathless for six weeks--while
His greatest satisfaction was in Geraldine's company. He took her once
to dinner and the theatre and entertained her several times in his
apartment. When he was with her she absorbed him, not as Gloria had, but
quieting those erotic sensibilities in him that worried over Gloria. It
didn't matter how he kissed Geraldine. A kiss was a kiss--to be enjoyed
to the utmost for its short moment. To Geraldine things belonged in
definite pigeonholes: a kiss was one thing, anything further was quite
another; a kiss was all right; the other things were "bad."
When half the interval was up two incidents occurred on successive days
that upset his increasing calm and caused a temporary relapse.
The first was--he saw Gloria. It was a short meeting. Both bowed. Both
spoke, yet neither heard the other. But when it was over Anthony read
down a column of The Sun three times in succession without understanding
a single sentence.
One would have thought Sixth Avenue a safe street! Having forsworn his
barber at the Plaza he went around the corner one morning to be shaved,
and while waiting his turn he took off coat and vest, and with his soft
collar open at the neck stood near the front of the shop. The day was an
oasis in the cold desert of March and the sidewalk was cheerful with a
population of strolling sun-worshippers. A stout woman upholstered in
velvet, her flabby cheeks too much massaged, swirled by with her poodle
straining at its leash--the effect being given of a tug bringing in an
ocean liner. Just behind them a man in a striped blue suit, walking
slue-footed in white-spatted feet, grinned at the sight and catching
Anthony's eye, winked through the glass. Anthony laughed, thrown
immediately into that humor in which men and women were graceless and
absurd phantasms, grotesquely curved and rounded in a rectangular world
of their own building. They inspired the same sensations in him as did
those strange and monstrous fish who inhabit the esoteric world of green
in the aquarium.
Two more strollers caught his eye casually, a man and a girl--then in a
horrified instant the girl resolved herself into Gloria. He stood here
powerless; they came nearer and Gloria, glancing in, saw him. Her eyes
widened and she smiled politely. Her lips moved. She was less than five
"How do you do?" he muttered inanely.
Gloria, happy, beautiful, and young--with a man he had never seen
It was then that the barber's chair was vacated and he read down the
newspaper column three times in succession.
The second incident took place the next day. Going into the Manhattan
bar about seven he was confronted with Bloeckman. As it happened, the
room was nearly deserted, and before the mutual recognition he had
stationed himself within a foot of the older man and ordered his drink,
so it was inevitable that they should converse.
"Hello, Mr. Patch," said Bloeckman amiably enough.
Anthony took the proffered hand and exchanged a few aphorisms on the
fluctuations of the mercury.
"Do you come in here much?" inquired Bloeckman.
"No, very seldom." He omitted to add that the Plaza bar had, until
lately, been his favorite.
"Nice bar. One of the best bars in town."
Anthony nodded. Bloeckman emptied his glass and picked up his cane. He
was in evening dress.
"Well, I'll be hurrying on. I'm going to dinner with Miss Gilbert."
Death looked suddenly out at him from two blue eyes. Had he announced
himself as his vis-à-vis's prospective murderer he could not have struck
a more vital blow at Anthony. The younger man must have reddened
visibly, for his every nerve was in instant clamor. With tremendous
effort he mustered a rigid--oh, so rigid--smile, and said a conventional
good-by. But that night he lay awake until after four, half wild with
grief and fear and abominable imaginings.
And one day in the fifth week he called her up. He had been sitting in
his apartment trying to read "L'Education Sentimental," and something in
the book had sent his thoughts racing in the direction that, set free,
they always took, like horses racing for a home stable. With suddenly
quickened breath he walked to the telephone. When he gave the number it
seemed to him that his voice faltered and broke like a schoolboy's. The
Central must have heard the pounding of his heart. The sound of the
receiver being taken up at the other end was a crack of doom, and Mrs.
Gilbert's voice, soft as maple syrup running into a glass container, had
for him a quality of horror in its single "Hello-o-ah?"
"Miss Gloria's not feeling well. She's lying down, asleep. Who shall I
"Nobody!" he shouted.
In a wild panic he slammed down the receiver; collapsed into his
armchair in the cold sweat of breathless relief.
The first thing he said to her was: "Why, you've bobbed your hair!" and
she answered: "Yes, isn't it gorgeous?"
It was not fashionable then. It was to be fashionable in five or six
years. At that time it was considered extremely daring.
"It's all sunshine outdoors," he said gravely. "Don't you want to take a
She put on a light coat and a quaintly piquant Napoleon hat of Alice
Blue, and they walked along the Avenue and into the Zoo, where they
properly admired the grandeur of the elephant and the collar-height of
the giraffe, but did not visit the monkey house because Gloria said that
monkeys smelt so bad.
Then they returned toward the Plaza, talking about nothing, but glad for
the spring singing in the air and for the warm balm that lay upon the
suddenly golden city. To their right was the Park, while at the left a
great bulk of granite and marble muttered dully a millionaire's chaotic
message to whosoever would listen: something about "I worked and I saved
and I was sharper than all Adam and here I sit, by golly, by golly!"
All the newest and most beautiful designs in automobiles were out on
Fifth Avenue, and ahead of them the Plaza loomed up rather unusually
white and attractive. The supple, indolent Gloria walked a short
shadow's length ahead of him, pouring out lazy casual comments that
floated a moment on the dazzling air before they reached his ear.
"Oh!" she cried, "I want to go south to Hot Springs! I want to get out
in the air and just roll around on the new grass and forget there's ever
been any winter."
"Don't you, though!"
"I want to hear a million robins making a frightful racket. I sort of
"All women "are" birds," he ventured.
"What kind am I?"--quick and eager.
"A swallow, I think, and sometimes a bird of paradise. Most girls are
sparrows, of course--see that row of nurse-maids over there? They're
sparrows--or are they magpies? And of course you've met canary
girls--and robin girls."
"And swan girls and parrot girls. All grown women are hawks, I think, or
"What am I--a buzzard?"
She laughed and shook her head.
"Oh, no, you're not a bird at all, do you think? You're a Russian
Anthony remembered that they were white and always looked unnaturally
hungry. But then they were usually photographed with dukes and
princesses, so he was properly flattered.
"Dick's a fox terrier, a trick fox terrier," she continued.
"And Maury's a cat." Simultaneously it occurred to him how like
Bloeckman was to a robust and offensive hog. But he preserved a
Later, as they parted, Anthony asked when he might see her again.
"Don't you ever make long engagements?" he pleaded, "even if it's a week
ahead, I think it'd be fun to spend a whole day together, morning and
"It would be, wouldn't it?" She thought for a moment. "Let's do it next
"All right. I'll map out a programme that'll take up every minute."
He did. He even figured to a nicety what would happen in the two hours
when she would come to his apartment for tea: how the good Bounds would
have the windows wide to let in the fresh breeze--but a fire going also
lest there be chill in the air--and how there would be clusters of
flowers about in big cool bowls that he would buy for the occasion. They
would sit on the lounge.
And when the day came they did sit upon the lounge. After a while
Anthony kissed her because it came about quite naturally; he found
sweetness sleeping still upon her lips, and felt that he had never been
away. The fire was bright and the breeze sighing in through the curtains
brought a mellow damp, promising May and world of summer. His soul
thrilled to remote harmonies; he heard the strum of far guitars and
waters lapping on a warm Mediterranean shore--for he was young now as he
would never be again, and more triumphant than death.
Six o'clock stole down too soon and rang the querulous melody of St.
Anne's chimes on the corner. Through the gathering dusk they strolled to
the Avenue, where the crowds, like prisoners released, were walking with
elastic step at last after the long winter, and the tops of the busses
were thronged with congenial kings and the shops full of fine soft
things for the summer, the rare summer, the gay promising summer that
seemed for love what the winter was for money. Life was singing for his
supper on the corner! Life was handing round cocktails in the street! Old
women there were in that crowd who felt that they could have run and won
a hundred-yard dash!
In bed that night with the lights out and the cool room swimming with
moonlight, Anthony lay awake and played with every minute of the day
like a child playing in turn with each one of a pile of long-wanted
Christmas toys. He had told her gently, almost in the middle of a kiss,
that he loved her, and she had smiled and held him closer and murmured,
"I'm glad," looking into his eyes. There had been a new quality in her
attitude, a new growth of sheer physical attraction toward him and a
strange emotional tenseness, that was enough to make him clinch his
hands and draw in his breath at the recollection. He had felt nearer to
her than ever before. In a rare delight he cried aloud to the room that
he loved her.
He phoned next morning--no hesitation now, no uncertainty--instead a
delirious excitement that doubled and trebled when he heard her voice:
"That's all I called you up to say-dear."
"I'm glad you did."
"I wish I could see you."
"You will, to-morrow night."
"That's a long time, isn't it?"
"Yes--" Her voice was reluctant. His hand tightened on the receiver.
"Couldn't I come to-night?" He dared anything in the glory and
revelation of that almost whispered "yes."
"I have a date."
"But I might--I might be able to break it."
"Oh!"--a sheer cry, a rhapsody. "Gloria?"
"I love you."
Another pause and then:
Happiness, remarked Maury Noble one day, is only the first hour after
the alleviation of some especially intense misery. But oh, Anthony's
face as he walked down the tenth-floor corridor of the Plaza that night!
His dark eyes were gleaming--around his mouth were lines it was a
kindness to see. He was handsome then if never before, bound for one of
those immortal moments which come so radiantly that their remembered
light is enough to see by for years.
He knocked and, at a word, entered. Gloria, dressed in simple pink,
starched and fresh as a flower, was across the room, standing very
still, and looking at him wide-eyed.
As he closed the door behind him she gave a little cry and moved swiftly
over the intervening space, her arms rising in a premature caress as she
came near. Together they crushed out the stiff folds of her dress in one
triumphant and enduring embrace.
THE RADIANT HOUR
After a fortnight Anthony and Gloria began to indulge in "practical
discussions," as they called those sessions when under the guise of
severe realism they walked in an eternal moonlight.
"Not as much as I do you," the critic of belles-lettres would insist.
"If you really loved me you'd want every one to know it."
"I do," she protested; "I want to stand on the street corner like a
sandwich man, informing all the passers-by."
"Then tell me all the reasons why you're going to marry me in June."
"Well, because you're so clean. You're sort of blowy clean, like I am.
There's two sorts, you know. One's like Dick: he's clean like polished
pans. You and I are clean like streams and winds. I can tell whenever I
see a person whether he is clean, and if so, which kind of clean he is."
"Mother says"--she hesitated uncertainly--"mother says that two souls
are sometimes created together and--and in love before they're born."
Bilphism gained its easiest convert.... After a while he lifted up his
head and laughed soundlessly toward the ceiling. When his eyes came back
to her he saw that she was angry.
"Why did you laugh?" she cried, "you've done that twice before. There's
nothing funny about our relation to each other. I don't mind playing the
fool, and I don't mind having you do it, but I can't stand it when we're
"Oh, don't say you're sorry! If you can't think of anything better than
that, just keep quiet!"
"I love you."
"I don't care."
There was a pause. Anthony was depressed.... At length Gloria murmured:
"I'm sorry I was mean."
"You weren't. I was the one."
Peace was restored--the ensuing moments were so much more sweet and
sharp and poignant. They were stars on this stage, each playing to an
audience of two: the passion of their pretense created the actuality.
Here, finally, was the quintessence of self-expression--yet it was
probable that for the most part their love expressed Gloria rather than
Anthony. He felt often like a scarcely tolerated guest at a party she
Telling Mrs. Gilbert had been an embarrassed matter. She sat stuffed
into a small chair and listened with an intense and very blinky sort of
concentration. She must have known it--for three weeks Gloria had seen
no one else--and she must have noticed that this time there was an
authentic difference in her daughter's attitude. She had been given
special deliveries to post; she had heeded, as all mothers seem to heed,
the hither end of telephone conversations, disguised but still
--Yet she had delicately professed surprise and declared herself
immensely pleased; she doubtless was; so were the geranium plants
blossoming in the window-boxes, and so were the cabbies when the lovers
sought the romantic privacy of hansom cabs--quaint device--and the staid
bill of fares on which they scribbled "you know I do," pushing it over
for the other to see.
But between kisses Anthony and this golden girl quarrelled incessantly.
"Now, Gloria," he would cry, "please let me explain!"
"Don't explain. Kiss me."
"I don't think that's right. If I hurt your feelings we ought to discuss
it. I don't like this kiss-and-forget."
"But I don't want to argue. I think it's wonderful that we "can" kiss
and forget, and when we can't it'll be time to argue."
At one time some gossamer difference attained such bulk that Anthony
arose and punched himself into his overcoat--for a moment it appeared
that the scene of the preceding February was to be repeated, but knowing
how deeply she was moved he retained his dignity with his pride, and in
a moment Gloria was sobbing in his arms, her lovely face miserable as a
frightened little girl's.
Meanwhile they kept unfolding to each other, unwillingly, by curious
reactions and evasions, by distastes and prejudices and unintended hints
of the past. The girl was proudly incapable of jealousy and, because he
was extremely jealous, this virtue piqued him. He told her recondite
incidents of his own life on purpose to arouse some spark of it, but to
no avail. She possessed him now--nor did she desire the dead years.
"Oh, Anthony," she would say, "always when I'm mean to you I'm sorry
afterward. I'd give my right hand to save you one little moment's pain."
And in that instant her eyes were brimming and she was not aware that
she was voicing an illusion. Yet Anthony knew that there were days when
they hurt each other purposely--taking almost a delight in the thrust.
Incessantly she puzzled him: one hour so intimate and charming, striving
desperately toward an unguessed, transcendent union; the next, silent
and cold, apparently unmoved by any consideration of their love or
anything he could say. Often he would eventually trace these portentous
reticences to some physical discomfort--of these she never complained
until they were over--or to some carelessness or presumption in him, or
to an unsatisfactory dish at dinner, but even then the means by which
she created the infinite distances she spread about herself were a
mystery, buried somewhere back in those twenty-two years of
"Why do you like Muriel?" he demanded one day.
"I don't very much."
"Then why do you go with her?"
"Just for some one to go with. They're no exertion, those girls. They
sort of believe everything I tell them--but I rather like Rachael. I
think she's cute--and so clean and slick, don't you? I used to have
other friends--in Kansas City and at school--casual, all of them, girls
who just flitted into my range and out of it for no more reason than
that boys took us places together. They didn't interest me after
environment stopped throwing us together. Now they're mostly married.
What does it matter--they were all just people."
"You like men better, don't you?"
"Oh, much better. I've got a man's mind."
"You've got a mind like mine. Not strongly gendered either way."
Later she told him about the beginnings of her friendship with
Bloeckman. One day in Delmonico's, Gloria and Rachael had come upon
Bloeckman and Mr. Gilbert having luncheon and curiosity had impelled her
to make it a party of four. She had liked him--rather. He was a relief
from younger men, satisfied as he was with so little. He humored her and
he laughed, whether he understood her or not. She met him several times,
despite the open disapproval of her parents, and within a month he had
asked her to marry him, tendering her everything from a villa in Italy
to a brilliant career on the screen. She had laughed in his face--and he
had laughed too.
But he had not given up. To the time of Anthony's arrival in the arena
he had been making steady progress. She treated him rather well--except
that she had called him always by an invidious nickname--perceiving,
meanwhile, that he was figuratively following along beside her as she
walked the fence, ready to catch her if she should fall.
The night before the engagement was announced she told Bloeckman. It was
a heavy blow. She did not enlighten Anthony as to the details, but she
implied that he had not hesitated to argue with her. Anthony gathered
that the interview had terminated on a stormy note, with Gloria very
cool and unmoved lying in her corner of the sofa and Joseph Bloeckman of
"Films Par Excellence" pacing the carpet with eyes narrowed and head
bowed. Gloria had been sorry for him but she had judged it best not to
show it. In a final burst of kindness she had tried to make him hate
her, there at the last. But Anthony, understanding that Gloria's
indifference was her strongest appeal, judged how futile this must have
been. He wondered, often but quite casually, about Bloeckman--finally he
forgot him entirely.
One afternoon they found front seats on the sunny roof of a bus and rode
for hours from the fading Square up along the sullied river, and then,
as the stray beams fled the westward streets, sailed down the turgid
Avenue, darkening with ominous bees from the department stores. The
traffic was clotted and gripped in a patternless jam; the busses were
packed four deep like platforms above the crowd as they waited for the
moan of the traffic whistle.
"Isn't it good!" cried Gloria. "Look!"
A miller's wagon, stark white with flour, driven by a powdery clown,
passed in front of them behind a white horse and his black team-mate.
"What a pity!" she complained; "they'd look so beautiful in the dusk, if
only both horses were white. I'm mighty happy just this minute, in
Anthony shook his head in disagreement.
"I think the city's a mountebank. Always struggling to approach the
tremendous and impressive urbanity ascribed to it. Trying to be
"I don't. I think it is impressive."
"Momentarily. But it's really a transparent, artificial sort of
spectacle. It's got its press-agented stars and its flimsy, unenduring
stage settings and, I'll admit, the greatest army of supers ever
assembled--" He paused, laughed shortly, and added: "Technically
excellent, perhaps, but not convincing."
"I'll bet policemen think people are fools," said Gloria thoughtfully,
as she watched a large but cowardly lady being helped across the street.
"He always sees them frightened and inefficient and old--they are," she
added. And then: "We'd better get off. I told mother I'd have an early
supper and go to bed. She says I look tired, damn it."
"I wish we were married," he muttered soberly; "there'll be no good
night then and we can do just as we want."
"Won't it be good! I think we ought to travel a lot. I want to go to the
Mediterranean and Italy. And I'd like to go on the stage some time--say
for about a year."
"You bet. I'll write a play for you."
"Won't that be good! And I'll act in it. And then some time when we have
more money"--old Adam's death was always thus tactfully alluded
to--"we'll build a magnificent estate, won't we?"
"Oh, yes, with private swimming pools."
"Dozens of them. And private rivers. Oh, I wish it were now."
Odd coincidence--he had just been wishing that very thing. They plunged
like divers into the dark eddying crowd and emerging in the cool fifties
sauntered indolently homeward, infinitely romantic to each other ...
both were walking alone in a dispassionate garden with a ghost found
in a dream.
Halcyon days like boats drifting along slow-moving rivers; spring
evenings full of a plaintive melancholy that made the past beautiful and
bitter, bidding them look back and see that the loves of other summers
long gone were dead with the forgotten waltzes of their years. Always
the most poignant moments were when some artificial barrier kept them
apart: in the theatre their hands would steal together, join, give and
return gentle pressures through the long dark; in crowded rooms they
would form words with their lips for each other's eyes--not knowing that
they were but following in the footsteps of dusty generations but
comprehending dimly that if truth is the end of life happiness is a mode
of it, to be cherished in its brief and tremulous moment. And then, one
fairy night, May became June. Sixteen days now--fifteen--fourteen----
Just before the engagement was announced Anthony had gone up to
Tarrytown to see his grandfather, who, a little more wizened and grizzly
as time played its ultimate chuckling tricks, greeted the news with
"Oh, you're going to get married, are you?" He said this with such a
dubious mildness and shook his head up and down so many times that
Anthony was not a little depressed. While he was unaware of his
grandfather's intentions he presumed that a large part of the money
would come to him. A good deal would go in charities, of course; a good
deal to carry on the business of reform.
"Are you going to work?"
"Why--" temporized Anthony, somewhat disconcerted. "I "am" working. You
"Ah, I mean work," said Adam Patch dispassionately.
"I'm not quite sure yet what I'll do. I'm not exactly a beggar, grampa,"
he asserted with some spirit.
The old man considered this with eyes half closed. Then almost
apologetically he asked:
"How much do you save a year?"
"Nothing so far--"
"And so after just managing to get along on your money you've decided
that by some miracle two of you can get along on it."
"Gloria has some money of her own. Enough to buy clothes."
Without considering this question impertinent, Anthony answered it.
"About a hundred a month."
"That's altogether about seventy-five hundred a year." Then he added
softly: "It ought to be plenty. If you have any sense it ought to be
plenty. But the question is whether you have any or not."
"I suppose it is." It was shameful to be compelled to endure this pious
browbeating from the old man, and his next words were stiffened with
vanity. "I can manage very well. You seem convinced that I'm utterly
worthless. At any rate I came up here simply to tell you that I'm
getting married in June. Good-by, sir." With this he turned away and
headed for the door, unaware that in that instant his grandfather, for
the first time, rather liked him.
"Wait!" called Adam Patch, "I want to talk to you."
Anthony faced about.
"Sit down. Stay all night."
Somewhat mollified, Anthony resumed his seat.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm going to see Gloria to-night."
"What's her name?"
"New York girl? Someone you know?"
"She's from the Middle West."
"What business her father in?"
"In a celluloid corporation or trust or something. They're from Kansas
"You going to be married out there?"
"Why, no, sir. We thought we'd be married in New York--rather quietly."
"Like to have the wedding out here?"
Anthony hesitated. The suggestion made no appeal to him, but it was
certainly the part of wisdom to give the old man, if possible, a
proprietary interest in his married life. In addition Anthony was a
"That's very kind of you, grampa, but wouldn't it be a lot of trouble?"
"Everything's a lot of trouble. Your father was married here--but in the
"Why--I thought he was married in Boston."
Adam Patch considered.
"That's true. He "was" married in Boston."
Anthony felt a moment's embarrassment at having made the correction, and
he covered it up with words.
"Well, I'll speak to Gloria about it. Personally I'd like to, but of
course it's up to the Gilberts, you see."
His grandfather drew a long sigh, half closed his eyes, and sank back in
"In a hurry?" he asked in a different tone.
"I wonder," began Adam Patch, looking out with a mild, kindly glance at
the lilac bushes that rustled against the windows, "I wonder if you ever
think about the after-life."
"I think a great deal about the after-life." His eyes were dim but his
voice was confident and clear. "I was sitting here to-day thinking about
what's lying in wait for us, and somehow I began to remember an
afternoon nearly sixty-five years ago, when I was playing with my little
sister Annie, down where that summer-house is now." He pointed out into
the long flower-garden, his eyes trembling of tears, his voice shaking.
"I began thinking--and it seemed to me that "you" ought to think a
little more about the after-life. You ought to be--steadier"--he paused
and seemed to grope about for the right word--"more industrious--why--"
Then his expression altered, his entire personality seemed to snap
together like a trap, and when he continued the softness had gone from
"--Why, when I was just two years older than you," he rasped with a
cunning chuckle, "I sent three members of the firm of Wrenn and Hunt to
Anthony started with embarrassment.
"Well, good-by," added his grandfather suddenly, "you'll miss your
Anthony left the house unusually elated, and strangely sorry for the old
man; not because his wealth could buy him "neither youth nor digestion"
but because he had asked Anthony to be married there, and because he had
forgotten something about his son's wedding that he should have
Richard Caramel, who was one of the ushers, caused Anthony and Gloria
much distress in the last few weeks by continually stealing the rays of
their spot-light. "The Demon Lover" had been published in April, and it
interrupted the love affair as it may be said to have interrupted
everything its author came in contact with. It was a highly original,
rather overwritten piece of sustained description concerned with a Don
Juan of the New York slums. As Maury and Anthony had said before, as the
more hospitable critics were saying then, there was no writer in America
with such power to describe the atavistic and unsubtle reactions of that
section of society.
The book hesitated and then suddenly "went." Editions, small at first,
then larger, crowded each other week by week. A spokesman of the
Salvation Army denounced it as a cynical misrepresentation of all the
uplift taking place in the underworld. Clever press-agenting spread the
unfounded rumor that "Gypsy" Smith was beginning a libel suit because
one of the principal characters was a burlesque of himself. It was
barred from the public library of Burlington, Iowa, and a Mid-Western
columnist announced by innuendo that Richard Caramel was in a sanitarium
with delirium tremens.
The author, indeed, spent his days in a state of pleasant madness. The
book was in his conversation three-fourths of the time--he wanted to
know if one had heard "the latest"; he would go into a store and in a
loud voice order books to be charged to him, in order to catch a chance
morsel of recognition from clerk or customer. He knew to a town in what
sections of the country it was selling best; he knew exactly what he
cleared on each edition, and when he met any one who had not read it,
or, as it happened only too often, had not heard of it, he succumbed to
So it was natural for Anthony and Gloria to decide, in their jealousy,
that he was so swollen with conceit as to be a bore. To Dick's great
annoyance Gloria publicly boasted that she had never read "The Demon
Lover," and didn't intend to until every one stopped talking about it.
As a matter of fact, she had no time to read now, for the presents were
pouring in--first a scattering, then an avalanche, varying from the
bric-à-brac of forgotten family friends to the photographs of forgotten
Maury gave them an elaborate "drinking set," which included silver
goblets, cocktail shaker, and bottle-openers. The extortion from Dick
was more conventional--a tea set from Tiffany's. From Joseph Bloeckman
came a simple and exquisite travelling clock, with his card. There was
even a cigarette-holder from Bounds; this touched Anthony and made him
want to weep--indeed, any emotion short of hysteria seemed natural in
the half-dozen people who were swept up by this tremendous sacrifice to
convention. The room set aside in the Plaza bulged with offerings sent
by Harvard friends and by associates of his grandfather, with
remembrances of Gloria's Farmover days, and with rather pathetic
trophies from her former beaux, which last arrived with esoteric,
melancholy messages, written on cards tucked carefully inside, beginning
"I little thought when--" or "I'm sure I wish you all the happiness--"
or even "When you get this I shall be on my way to--"
The most munificent gift was simultaneously the most disappointing. It
was a concession of Adam Patch's--a check for five thousand dollars.
To most of the presents Anthony was cold. It seemed to him that they
would necessitate keeping a chart of the marital status of all their
acquaintances during the next half-century. But Gloria exulted in each
one, tearing at the tissue-paper and excelsior with the rapaciousness of
a dog digging for a bone, breathlessly seizing a ribbon or an edge of
metal and finally bringing to light the whole article and holding it up
critically, no emotion except rapt interest in her unsmiling face.
"Darn nice, isn't it!"
No answer until an hour later when she would give him a careful account
of her precise reaction to the gift, whether it would have been improved
by being smaller or larger, whether she was surprised at getting it,
and, if so, just how much surprised.
Mrs. Gilbert arranged and rearranged a hypothetical house, distributing
the gifts among the different rooms, tabulating articles as "second-best
clock" or "silver to use "every" day," and embarrassing Anthony and
Gloria by semi-facetious references to a room she called the nursery.
She was pleased by old Adam's gift and thereafter had it that he was a
very ancient soul, "as much as anything else." As Adam Patch never quite
decided whether she referred to the advancing senility of his mind or to
some private and psychic schema of her own, it cannot be said to have
pleased him. Indeed he always spoke of her to Anthony as "that old
woman, the mother," as though she were a character in a comedy he had
seen staged many times before. Concerning Gloria he was unable to make
up his mind. She attracted him but, as she herself told Anthony, he had
decided that she was frivolous and was afraid to approve of her.
Five days!--A dancing platform was being erected on the lawn at
Tarrytown. Four days!--A special train was chartered to convey the
guests to and from New York. Three days!----
She was dressed in blue silk pajamas and standing by her bed with her
hand on the light to put the room in darkness, when she changed her mind
and opening a table drawer brought out a little black book--a
"Line-a-day" diary. This she had kept for seven years. Many of the
pencil entries were almost illegible and there were notes and references
to nights and afternoons long since forgotten, for it was not an
intimate diary, even though it began with the immemorial "I am going to
keep a diary for my children." Yet as she thumbed over the pages the
eyes of many men seemed to look out at her from their half-obliterated
names. With one she had gone to New Haven for the first time--in 1908,
when she was sixteen and padded shoulders were fashionable at Yale--she
had been flattered because "Touch down" Michaud had "rushed" her all
evening. She sighed, remembering the grown-up satin dress she had been
so proud of and the orchestra playing "Yama-yama, My Yama Man" and
"Jungle-Town." So long ago!--the names: Eltynge Reardon, Jim Parsons,
"Curly" McGregor, Kenneth Cowan, "Fish-eye" Fry (whom she had liked for
being so ugly), Carter Kirby--he had sent her a present; so had Tudor
Baird;--Marty Reffer, the first man she had been in love with for more
than a day, and Stuart Holcome, who had run away with her in his
automobile and tried to make her marry him by force. And Larry Fenwick,
whom she had always admired because he had told her one night that if
she wouldn't kiss him she could get out of his car and walk home. What
... And, after all, an obsolete list. She was in love now, set for the
eternal romance that was to be the synthesis of all romance, yet sad for
these men and these moonlights and for the "thrills" she had had--and
the kisses. The past--her past, oh, what a joy! She had been
Turning over the pages her eyes rested idly on the scattered entries of
the past four months. She read the last few carefully.
""April 1st".--I know Bill Carstairs hates me because I was so
disagreeable, but I hate to be sentimentalized over sometimes. We drove
out to the Rockyear Country Club and the most wonderful moon kept
shining through the trees. My silver dress is getting tarnished. Funny
how one forgets the other nights at Rockyear--with Kenneth Cowan when I
loved him so!
""April 3rd".--After two hours of Schroeder who, they inform me, has
millions, I've decided that this matter of sticking to things wears one
out, particularly when the things concerned are men. There's nothing so
often overdone and from to-day I swear to be amused. We talked about
'love'--how banal! With how many men have I talked about love?
""April 11th".--Patch actually called up to-day! and when he forswore me
about a month ago he fairly raged out the door. I'm gradually losing
faith in any man being susceptible to fatal injuries.
""April 20th".--Spent the day with Anthony. Maybe I'll marry him some
time. I kind of like his ideas--he stimulates all the originality in me.
Blockhead came around about ten in his new car and took me out Riverside
Drive. I liked him to-night: he's so considerate. He knew I didn't want
to talk so he was quiet all during the ride.
""April 21st".--Woke up thinking of Anthony and sure enough he called
and sounded sweet on the phone--so I broke a date for him. To-day I feel
I'd break anything for him, including the ten commandments and my neck.
He's coming at eight and I shall wear pink and look very fresh and
She paused here, remembering that after he had gone that night she had
undressed with the shivering April air streaming in the windows. Yet it
seemed she had not felt the cold, warmed by the profound banalities
burning in her heart.
The next entry occurred a few days later:
""April 24th".--I want to marry Anthony, because husbands are so often
'husbands' and I must marry a lover.
"There are four general types of husbands.
"(1) The husband who always wants to stay in in the evening, has no vices
and works for a salary. Totally undesirable!
"(2) The atavistic master whose mistress one is, to wait on his pleasure.
This sort always considers every pretty woman 'shallow,' a sort of
peacock with arrested development.
"(3) Next comes the worshipper, the idolater of his wife and all that is
his, to the utter oblivion of everything else. This sort demands an
emotional actress for a wife. God! it must be an exertion to be thought
"(4) And Anthony--a temporarily passionate lover with wisdom enough to
realize when it has flown and that it must fly. And I want to get
married to Anthony.
"What grubworms women are to crawl on their bellies through colorless
marriages! Marriage was created not to be a background but to need one.
Mine is going to be outstanding. It can't, shan't be the setting--it's
going to be the performance, the live, lovely, glamourous performance,
and the world shall be the scenery. I refuse to dedicate my life to
posterity. Surely one owes as much to the current generation as to one's
unwanted children. What a fate--to grow rotund and unseemly, to lose my
self-love, to think in terms of milk, oatmeal, nurse, diapers.... Dear
dream children, how much more beautiful you are, dazzling little
creatures who flutter (all dream children must flutter) on golden,
"Such children, however, poor dear babies, have little in common with the
""June 7th".--Moral question: Was it wrong to make Bloeckman love me?
Because I did really make him. He was almost sweetly sad to-night. How
opportune it was that my throat is swollen plunk together and tears were
easy to muster. But he's just the past--buried already in my
""June 8th".--And to-day I've promised not to chew my mouth. Well, I
won't, I suppose--but if he'd only asked me not to eat!
"Blowing bubbles--that's what we're doing, Anthony and me. And we blew
such beautiful ones to-day, and they'll explode and then we'll blow more
and more, I guess--bubbles just as big and just as beautiful, until all
the soap and water is used up."
On this note the diary ended. Her eyes wandered up the page, over the
June 8th's of 1912, 1910, 1907. The earliest entry was scrawled in the
plump, bulbous hand of a sixteen-year-old girl--it was the name, Bob
Lamar, and a word she could not decipher. Then she knew what it
was--and, knowing, she found her eyes misty with tears. There in a
graying blur was the record of her first kiss, faded as its intimate
afternoon, on a rainy veranda seven years before. She seemed to remember
something one of them had said that day and yet she could not remember.
Her tears came faster, until she could scarcely see the page. She was
crying, she told herself, because she could remember only the rain and
the wet flowers in the yard and the smell of the damp grass.
... After a moment she found a pencil and holding it unsteadily drew
three parallel lines beneath the last entry. Then she printed FINIS in
large capitals, put the book back in the drawer, and crept into bed.
BREATH OF THE CAVE
Back in his apartment after the bridal dinner, Anthony snapped out his
lights and, feeling impersonal and fragile as a piece of china waiting
on a serving table, got into bed. It was a warm night--a sheet was
enough for comfort--and through his wide-open windows came sound,
evanescent and summery, alive with remote anticipation. He was thinking
that the young years behind him, hollow and colorful, had been lived in
facile and vacillating cynicism upon the recorded emotions of men long
dust. And there was something beyond that; he knew now. There was the
union of his soul with Gloria's, whose radiant fire and freshness was
the living material of which the dead beauty of books was made.
From the night into his high-walled room there came, persistently, that
evanescent and dissolving sound--something the city was tossing up and
calling back again, like a child playing with a ball. In Harlem, the
Bronx, Gramercy Park, and along the water-fronts, in little parlors or
on pebble-strewn, moon-flooded roofs, a thousand lovers were making this
sound, crying little fragments of it into the air. All the city was
playing with this sound out there in the blue summer dark, throwing it
up and calling it back, promising that, in a little while, life would be
beautiful as a story, promising happiness--and by that promise giving
it. It gave love hope in its own survival. It could do no more.
It was then that a new note separated itself jarringly from the soft
crying of the night. It was a noise from an areaway within a hundred
feet from his rear window, the noise of a woman's laughter. It began
low, incessant and whining--some servant-maid with her fellow, he
thought--and then it grew in volume and became hysterical, until it
reminded him of a girl he had seen overcome with nervous laughter at a
vaudeville performance. Then it sank, receded, only to rise again and
include words--a coarse joke, some bit of obscure horseplay he could not
distinguish. It would break off for a moment and he would just catch the
low rumble of a man's voice, then begin again--interminably; at first
annoying, then strangely terrible. He shivered, and getting up out of
bed went to the window. It had reached a high point, tensed and stifled,
almost the quality of a scream--then it ceased and left behind it a
silence empty and menacing as the greater silence overhead. Anthony
stood by the window a moment longer before he returned to his bed. He
found himself upset and shaken. Try as he might to strangle his
reaction, some animal quality in that unrestrained laughter had grasped
at his imagination, and for the first time in four months aroused his
old aversion and horror toward all the business of life. The room had
grown smothery. He wanted to be out in some cool and bitter breeze,
miles above the cities, and to live serene and detached back in the
corners of his mind. Life was that sound out there, that ghastly
reiterated female sound.
"Oh, my "God"!" he cried, drawing in his breath sharply.
Burying his face in the pillows he tried in vain to concentrate upon the
details of the next day.
In the gray light he found that it was only five o'clock. He regretted
nervously that he had awakened so early--he would appear fagged at the
wedding. He envied Gloria who could hide her fatigue with careful
In his bathroom he contemplated himself in the mirror and saw that he
was unusually white--half a dozen small imperfections stood out against
the morning pallor of his complexion, and overnight he had grown the
faint stubble of a beard--the general effect, he fancied, was
unprepossessing, haggard, half unwell.
On his dressing table were spread a number of articles which he told
over carefully with suddenly fumbling fingers--their tickets to
California, the book of traveller's checks, his watch, set to the half
minute, the key to his apartment, which he must not forget to give to
Maury, and, most important of all, the ring. It was of platinum set
around with small emeralds; Gloria had insisted on this; she had always
wanted an emerald wedding ring, she said.
It was the third present he had given her; first had come the engagement
ring, and then a little gold cigarette-case. He would be giving her many
things now--clothes and jewels and friends and excitement. It seemed
absurd that from now on he would pay for all her meals. It was going to
cost: he wondered if he had not underestimated for this trip, and if he
had not better cash a larger check. The question worried him.
Then the breathless impendency of the event swept his mind clear of
details. This was the day--unsought, unsuspected six months before, but
now breaking in yellow light through his east window, dancing along the
carpet as though the sun were smiling at some ancient and reiterated gag
of his own.
Anthony laughed in a nervous one-syllable snort.
"By God!" he muttered to himself, "I'm as good as married!"
"Six young men in" CROSS PATCH'S "library growing more and more cheery
under the influence of Mumm's Extra Dry, set surreptitiously in cold
pails by the bookcases."
THE FIRST YOUNG MAN: By golly! Believe me, in my next book I'm going to
do a wedding scene that'll knock 'em cold!
THE SECOND YOUNG MAN: Met a débutante th'other day said she thought your
book was powerful. As a rule young girls cry for this primitive business.
THE THIRD YOUNG MAN: Where's Anthony?
THE FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Walking up and down outside talking to himself.
SECOND YOUNG MAN: Lord! Did you see the minister? Most peculiar looking
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Think they're natural. Funny thing people having gold
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: They say they love 'em. My dentist told me once a woman
came to him and insisted on having two of her teeth covered with gold.
No reason at all. All right the way they were.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Hear you got out a book, Dicky. 'Gratulations!
DICK: ("Stiffly") Thanks.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: ("Innocently") What is it? College stories?
DICK: ("More stiffly") No. Not college stories.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Pity! Hasn't been a good book about Harvard for years.
DICK: ("Touchily") Why don't you supply the lack?
THIRD YOUNG MAN: I think I saw a squad of guests turn the drive in a
Packard just now.
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Might open a couple more bottles on the strength of
THIRD YOUNG MAN: It was the shock of my life when I heard the old man
was going to have a wet wedding. Rabid prohibitionist, you know.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: ("Snapping his fingers excitedly") By gad! I knew I'd
forgotten something. Kept thinking it was my vest.
DICK: What was it?
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: By gad! By gad!
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Here! Here! Why the tragedy?
SECOND YOUNG MAN: What'd you forget? The way home?
DICK: ("Maliciously") He forgot the plot for his book of Harvard
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: No, sir, I forgot the present, by George! I forgot to
buy old Anthony a present. I kept putting it off and putting it off, and
by gad I've forgotten it! What'll they think?
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: ("Facetiously") That's probably what's been holding up
(THE FOURTH YOUNG MAN "looks nervously at his watch. Laughter.")
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: By gad! What an ass I am!
SECOND YOUNG MAN: What d'you make of the bridesmaid who thinks she's
Nora Bayes? Kept telling me she wished this was a ragtime wedding.
Name's Haines or Hampton.
DICK: ("Hurriedly spurring his imagination") Kane, you mean, Muriel
Kane. She's a sort of debt of honor, I believe. Once saved Gloria from
drowning, or something of the sort.
SECOND YOUNG MAN: I didn't think she could stop that perpetual swaying
long enough to swim. Fill up my glass, will you? Old man and I had a
long talk about the weather just now.
MAURY: Who? Old Adam?
SECOND YOUNG MAN: No, the bride's father. He must be with a weather
DICK: He's my uncle, Otis.
OTIS: Well, it's an honorable profession. ("Laughter.")
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Bride your cousin, isn't she?
DICK: Yes, Cable, she is.
CABLE: She certainly is a beauty. Not like you, Dicky. Bet she brings
old Anthony to terms.
MAURY: Why are all grooms given the title of "old"? I think marriage is
an error of youth.
DICK: Maury, the professional cynic.
MAURY: Why, you intellectual faker!
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Battle of the highbrows here, Otis. Pick up what crumbs
DICK: Faker yourself! What do "you" know?
MAURY: What do "you" know?
LICK: Ask me anything. Any branch of knowledge.
MAURY: All right. What's the fundamental principle of biology?
DICK: You don't know yourself.
MAURY: Don't hedge!
DICK: Well, natural selection?
DICK: I give it up.
MAURY: Ontogony recapitulates phyllogony.
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Take your base!
MAURY: Ask you another. What's the influence of mice on the clover crop?
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: What's the influence of rats on the Decalogue?
MAURY: Shut up, you saphead. There "is" a connection.
DICK: What is it then?
MAURY: ("Pausing a moment in growing disconcertion") Why, let's see. I
seem to have forgotten exactly. Something about the bees eating
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: And the clover eating the mice! Haw! Haw!
MAURY: ("Frowning") Let me just think a minute.
DICK: ("Sitting up suddenly") Listen!
("A volley of chatter explodes in the adjoining room. The six young men
arise, feeling at their neckties.")
DICK: ("Weightily") We'd better join the firing squad. They're going to
take the picture, I guess. No, that's afterward.
OTIS: Cable, you take the ragtime bridesmaid.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: I wish to God I'd sent that present.
MAURY: If you'll give me another minute I'll think of that about the
OTIS: I was usher last month for old Charlie McIntyre and----
("They move slowly toward the door as the chatter becomes a babel and
the practising preliminary to the overture issues in long pious groans
from ADAM PATCH'S organ".)
There were five hundred eyes boring through the back of his cutaway and
the sun glinting on the clergyman's inappropriately bourgeois teeth.
With difficulty he restrained a laugh. Gloria was saying something in a
clear proud voice and he tried to think that the affair was irrevocable,
that every second was significant, that his life was being slashed into
two periods and that the face of the world was changing before him. He
tried to recapture that ecstatic sensation of ten weeks before. All
these emotions eluded him, he did not even feel the physical nervousness
of that very morning--it was all one gigantic aftermath. And those gold
teeth! He wondered if the clergyman were married; he wondered perversely
if a clergyman could perform his own marriage service....
But as he took Gloria into his arms he was conscious of a strong
reaction. The blood was moving in his veins now. A languorous and
pleasant content settled like a weight upon him, bringing responsibility
and possession. He was married.
So many, such mingled emotions, that no one of them was separable from
the others! She could have wept for her mother, who was crying quietly
back there ten feet and for the loveliness of the June sunlight flooding
in at the windows. She was beyond all conscious perceptions. Only a
sense, colored with delirious wild excitement, that the ultimately
important was happening--and a trust, fierce and passionate, burning in
her like a prayer, that in a moment she would be forever and
Late one night they arrived in Santa Barbara, where the night clerk at
the Hotel Lafcadio refused to admit them, on the grounds that they were
The clerk thought that Gloria was beautiful. He did not think that
anything so beautiful as Gloria could be moral.
That first half-year--the trip West, the long months' loiter along the
California coast, and the gray house near Greenwich where they lived
until late autumn made the country dreary--those days, those places, saw
the enraptured hours. The breathless idyl of their engagement gave way,
first, to the intense romance of the more passionate relationship. The
breathless idyl left them, fled on to other lovers; they looked around
one day and it was gone, how they scarcely knew. Had either of them lost
the other in the days of the idyl, the love lost would have been ever to
the loser that dim desire without fulfilment which stands back of all
life. But magic must hurry on, and the lovers remain....
The idyl passed, bearing with it its extortion of youth. Came a day when
Gloria found that other men no longer bored her; came a day when Anthony
discovered that he could sit again late into the evening, talking with
Dick of those tremendous abstractions that had once occupied his world.
But, knowing they had had the best of love, they clung to what remained.
Love lingered--by way of long conversations at night into those stark
hours when the mind thins and sharpens and the borrowings from dreams
become the stuff of all life, by way of deep and intimate kindnesses
they developed toward each other, by way of their laughing at the same
absurdities and thinking the same things noble and the same things sad.
It was, first of all, a time of discovery. The things they found in each
other were so diverse, so intermixed and, moreover, so sugared with love
as to seem at the time not so much discoveries as isolated phenomena--to
be allowed for, and to be forgotten. Anthony found that he was living
with a girl of tremendous nervous tension and of the most high-handed
selfishness. Gloria knew within a month that her husband was an utter
coward toward any one of a million phantasms created by his imagination.
Her perception was intermittent, for this cowardice sprang out, became
almost obscenely evident, then faded and vanished as though it had been
only a creation of her own mind. Her reactions to it were not those
attributed to her sex--it roused her neither to disgust nor to a
premature feeling of motherhood. Herself almost completely without
physical fear, she was unable to understand, and so she made the most of
what she felt to be his fear's redeeming feature, which was that though
he was a coward under a shock and a coward under a strain--when his
imagination was given play--he had yet a sort of dashing recklessness
that moved her on its brief occasions almost to admiration, and a pride
that usually steadied him when he thought he was observed.
The trait first showed itself in a dozen incidents of little more than
nervousness--his warning to a taxi-driver against fast driving, in
Chicago; his refusal to take her to a certain tough café she had always
wished to visit; these of course admitted the conventional
interpretation--that it was of her he had been thinking; nevertheless,
their culminative weight disturbed her. But something that occurred in a
San Francisco hotel, when they had been married a week, gave the matter
It was after midnight and pitch dark in their room. Gloria was dozing
off and Anthony's even breathing beside her made her suppose that he was
asleep, when suddenly she saw him raise himself on his elbow and stare
at the window.
"What is it, dearest?" she murmured.
"Nothing"--he had relaxed to his pillow and turned toward her--"nothing,
my darling wife."
"Don't say 'wife.' I'm your mistress. Wife's such an ugly word. Your
'permanent mistress' is so much more tangible and desirable.... Come
into my arms," she added in a rush of tenderness; "I can sleep so well,
so well with you in my arms."
Coming into Gloria's arms had a quite definite meaning. It required that
he should slide one arm under her shoulder, lock both arms about her,
and arrange himself as nearly as possible as a sort of three-sided crib
for her luxurious ease. Anthony, who tossed, whose arms went tinglingly
to sleep after half an hour of that position, would wait until she was
asleep and roll her gently over to her side of the bed--then, left to
his own devices, he would curl himself into his usual knots.
Gloria, having attained sentimental comfort, retired into her doze. Five
minutes ticked away on Bloeckman's travelling clock; silence lay all
about the room, over the unfamiliar, impersonal furniture and the
half-oppressive ceiling that melted imperceptibly into invisible walls
on both sides. Then there was suddenly a rattling flutter at the window,
staccato and loud upon the hushed, pent air.
With a leap Anthony was out of the bed and standing tense beside it.
"Who's there?" he cried in an awful voice.
Gloria lay very still, wide awake now and engrossed not so much in the
rattling as in the rigid breathless figure whose voice had reached from
the bedside into that ominous dark.
The sound stopped; the room was quiet as before--then Anthony pouring
words in at the telephone.
"Some one just tried to get into the room! ...
"There's some one at the window!" His voice was emphatic now, faintly
"All right! Hurry!" He hung up the receiver; stood motionless.
... There was a rush and commotion at the door, a knocking--Anthony went
to open it upon an excited night clerk with three bell-boys grouped
staring behind him. Between thumb and finger the night clerk held a wet
pen with the threat of a weapon; one of the bell-boys had seized a
telephone directory and was looking at it sheepishly. Simultaneously the
group was joined by the hastily summoned house-detective, and as one man
they surged into the room.
Lights sprang on with a click. Gathering a piece of sheet about her
Gloria dove away from sight, shutting her eyes to keep out the horror of
this unpremeditated visitation. There was no vestige of an idea in her
stricken sensibilities save that her Anthony was at grievous fault.
... The night clerk was speaking from the window, his tone half of the
servant, half of the teacher reproving a schoolboy.
"Nobody out there," he declared conclusively; "my golly, nobody "could"
be out there. This here's a sheer fall to the street of fifty feet. It
was the wind you heard, tugging at the blind."
Then she was sorry for him. She wanted only to comfort him and draw him
back tenderly into her arms, to tell them to go away because the thing
their presence connotated was odious. Yet she could not raise her head
for shame. She heard a broken sentence, apologies, conventions of the
employee and one unrestrained snicker from a bell-boy.
"I've been nervous as the devil all evening," Anthony was saying;
"somehow that noise just shook me--I was only about half awake."
"Sure, I understand," said the night clerk with comfortable tact; "been
that way myself."
The door closed; the lights snapped out; Anthony crossed the floor
quietly and crept into bed. Gloria, feigning to be heavy with sleep,
gave a quiet little sigh and slipped into his arms.
"What was it, dear?"
"Nothing," he answered, his voice still shaken; "I thought there was
somebody at the window, so I looked out, but I couldn't see any one and
the noise kept up, so I phoned down-stairs. Sorry if I disturbed you,
but I'm awfully darn nervous to-night."
Catching the lie, she gave an interior start--he had not gone to the
window, nor near the window. He had stood by the bed and then sent in
his call of fear.
"Oh," she said--and then: "I'm so sleepy."
For an hour they lay awake side by side, Gloria with her eyes shut so
tight that blue moons formed and revolved against backgrounds of deepest
mauve, Anthony staring blindly into the darkness overhead.
After many weeks it came gradually out into the light, to be laughed and
joked at. They made a tradition to fit over it--whenever that
overpowering terror of the night attacked Anthony, she would put her
arms about him and croon, soft as a song:
"I'll protect my Anthony. Oh, nobody's ever going to harm my Anthony!"
He would laugh as though it were a jest they played for their mutual
amusement, but to Gloria it was never quite a jest. It was, at first, a
keen disappointment; later, it was one of the times when she controlled
The management of Gloria's temper, whether it was aroused by a lack of
hot water for her bath or by a skirmish with her husband, became almost
the primary duty of Anthony's day. It must be done just so--by this much
silence, by that much pressure, by this much yielding, by that much
force. It was in her angers with their attendant cruelties that her
inordinate egotism chiefly displayed itself. Because she was brave,
because she was "spoiled," because of her outrageous and commendable
independence of judgment, and finally because of her arrogant
consciousness that she had never seen a girl as beautiful as herself,
Gloria had developed into a consistent, practising Nietzschean. This, of
course, with overtones of profound sentiment.
There was, for example, her stomach. She was used to certain dishes, and
she had a strong conviction that she could not possibly eat anything
else. There must be a lemonade and a tomato sandwich late in the
morning, then a light lunch with a stuffed tomato. Not only did she
require food from a selection of a dozen dishes, but in addition this
food must be prepared in just a certain way. One of the most annoying
half hours of the first fortnight occurred in Los Angeles, when an
unhappy waiter brought her a tomato stuffed with chicken salad instead
"We always serve it that way, madame," he quavered to the gray eyes that
regarded him wrathfully.
Gloria made no answer, but when the waiter had turned discreetly away
she banged both fists upon the table until the china and silver rattled.
"Poor Gloria!" laughed Anthony unwittingly, "you can't get what you want
ever, can you?"
"I can't eat "stuff"!" she flared up.
"I'll call back the waiter."
"I don't want you to! He doesn't know anything, the darn "fool"!"
"Well, it isn't the hotel's fault. Either send it back, forget it, or be
a sport and eat it."
"Shut up!" she said succinctly.
"Why take it out on me?"
"Oh, I'm "not"," she wailed, "but I simply "can't" eat it."
Anthony subsided helplessly.
"We'll go somewhere else," he suggested.
"I don't "want" to go anywhere else. I'm tired of being trotted around
to a dozen cafés and not getting "one thing" fit to eat."
"When did we go around to a dozen cafés?"
"You'd "have" to in "this" town," insisted Gloria with ready sophistry.
Anthony, bewildered, tried another tack.
"Why don't you try to eat it? It can't be as bad as you think."
She picked up her fork and began poking contemptuously at the tomato,
and Anthony expected her to begin flinging the stuffings in all
directions. He was sure that she was approximately as angry as she had
ever been--for an instant he had detected a spark of hate directed as
much toward him as toward any one else--and Gloria angry was, for the
Then, surprisingly, he saw that she had tentatively raised the fork to
her lips and tasted the chicken salad. Her frown had not abated and he
stared at her anxiously, making no comment and daring scarcely to
breathe. She tasted another forkful--in another moment she was eating.
With difficulty Anthony restrained a chuckle; when at length he spoke
his words had no possible connection with chicken salad.
This incident, with variations, ran like a lugubrious fugue through the
first year of marriage; always it left Anthony baffled, irritated, and
depressed. But another rough brushing of temperaments, a question of
laundry-bags, he found even more annoying as it ended inevitably in a
decisive defeat for him.
One afternoon in Coronado, where they made the longest stay of their
trip, more than three weeks, Gloria was arraying herself brilliantly for
tea. Anthony, who had been down-stairs listening to the latest rumor
bulletins of war in Europe, entered the room, kissed the back of her
powdered neck, and went to his dresser. After a great pulling out and
pushing in of drawers, evidently unsatisfactory, he turned around to the
"Got any handkerchiefs, Gloria?" he asked. Gloria shook her golden head.
"Not a one. I'm using one of yours."
"The last one, I deduce." He laughed dryly.
"Is it?" She applied an emphatic though very delicate contour to her
"Isn't the laundry back?"
"I don't know."
Anthony hesitated--then, with sudden discernment, opened the closet
door. His suspicions were verified. On the hook provided hung the blue
bag furnished by the hotel. This was full of his clothes--he had put
them there himself. The floor beneath it was littered with an
astonishing mass of finery--lingerie, stockings, dresses, nightgowns,
and pajamas--most of it scarcely worn but all of it coming indubitably
under the general heading of Gloria's laundry.
He stood holding the closet door open.
The lip line was being erased and corrected according to some mysterious
perspective; not a finger trembled as she manipulated the lip-stick, not
a glance wavered in his direction. It was a triumph of concentration.
"Haven't you ever sent out the laundry?"
"Is it there?"
"It most certainly is."
"Well, I guess I haven't, then."
"Gloria," began Anthony, sitting down on the bed and trying to catch her
mirrored eyes, "you're a nice fellow, you are! I've sent it out every
time it's been sent since we left New York, and over a week ago you
promised you'd do it for a change. All you'd have to do would be to cram
your own junk into that bag and ring for the chambermaid."
"Oh, why fuss about the laundry?" exclaimed Gloria petulantly, "I'll
take care of it."
"I haven't fussed about it. I'd just as soon divide the bother with you,
but when we run out of handkerchiefs it's darn near time
Anthony considered that he was being extraordinarily logical. But
Gloria, unimpressed, put away her cosmetics and casually offered him
"Hook me up," she suggested; "Anthony, dearest, I forgot all about it. I
meant to, honestly, and I will to-day. Don't be cross with your
What could Anthony do then but draw her down upon his knee and kiss a
shade of color from her lips.
"But I don't mind," she murmured with a smile, radiant and magnanimous.
"You can kiss all the paint off my lips any time you want."
They went down to tea. They bought some handkerchiefs in a notion store
near by. All was forgotten.
But two days later Anthony looked in the closet and saw the bag still
hung limp upon its hook and that the gay and vivid pile on the floor had
increased surprisingly in height.
"Gloria!" he cried.
"Oh--" Her voice was full of real distress. Despairingly Anthony went to
the phone and called the chambermaid.
"It seems to me," he said impatiently, "that you expect me to be some
sort of French valet to you."
Gloria laughed, so infectiously that Anthony was unwise enough to smile.
Unfortunate man! In some intangible manner his smile made her mistress
of the situation--with an air of injured righteousness she went
emphatically to the closet and began pushing her laundry violently into
the bag. Anthony watched her--ashamed of himself.
"There!" she said, implying that her fingers had been worked to the bone
by a brutal taskmaster.
He considered, nevertheless, that he had given her an object-lesson and
that the matter was closed, but on the contrary it was merely beginning.
Laundry pile followed laundry pile--at long intervals; dearth of
handkerchief followed dearth of handkerchief--at short ones; not to
mention dearth of sock, of shirt, of everything. And Anthony found at
length that either he must send it out himself or go through the
increasingly unpleasant ordeal of a verbal battle with Gloria.
GLORIA AND GENERAL LEE
On their way East they stopped two days in Washington, strolling about
with some hostility in its atmosphere of harsh repellent light, of
distance without freedom, of pomp without splendor--it seemed a
pasty-pale and self-conscious city. The second day they made an
ill-advised trip to General Lee's old home at Arlington.
The bus which bore them was crowded with hot, unprosperous people, and
Anthony, intimate to Gloria, felt a storm brewing. It broke at the Zoo,
where the party stopped for ten minutes. The Zoo, it seemed, smelt of
monkeys. Anthony laughed; Gloria called down the curse of Heaven upon
monkeys, including in her malevolence all the passengers of the bus and
their perspiring offspring who had hied themselves monkey-ward.
Eventually the bus moved on to Arlington. There it met other busses and
immediately a swarm of women and children were leaving a trail of
peanut-shells through the halls of General Lee and crowding at length
into the room where he was married. On the wall of this room a pleasing
sign announced in large red letters "Ladies' Toilet." At this final blow
Gloria broke down.
"I think it's perfectly terrible!" she said furiously, "the idea of
letting these people come here! And of encouraging them by making these
"Well," objected Anthony, "if they weren't kept up they'd go to pieces."
"What if they did!" she exclaimed as they sought the wide pillared
porch. "Do you think they've left a breath of 1860 here? This has become
a thing of 1914."
"Don't you want to preserve old things?"
"But you "can't", Anthony. Beautiful things grow to a certain height and
then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay. And
just as any period decays in our minds, the things of that period should
decay too, and in that way they're preserved for a while in the few
hearts like mine that react to them. That graveyard at Tarrytown, for
instance. The asses who give money to preserve things have spoiled that
too. Sleepy Hollow's gone; Washington Irving's dead and his books are
rotting in our estimation year by year--then let the graveyard rot too,
as it should, as all things should. Trying to preserve a century by
keeping its relics up to date is like keeping a dying man alive by
"So you think that just as a time goes to pieces its houses ought to go
"Of course! Would you value your Keats letter if the signature was
traced over to make it last longer? It's just because I love the past
that I want this house to look back on its glamourous moment of youth
and beauty, and I want its stairs to creak as if to the footsteps of
women with hoop skirts and men in boots and spurs. But they've made it
into a blondined, rouged-up old woman of sixty. It hasn't any right to
look so prosperous. It might care enough for Lee to drop a brick now and
then. How many of these--these "animals""--she waved her hand
around--"get anything from this, for all the histories and guide-books
and restorations in existence? How many of them who think that, at best,
appreciation is talking in undertones and walking on tiptoes would even
come here if it was any trouble? I want it to smell of magnolias instead
of peanuts and I want my shoes to crunch on the same gravel that Lee's
boots crunched on. There's no beauty without poignancy and there's no
poignancy without the feeling that it's going, men, names, books,
houses--bound for dust--mortal--"
A small boy appeared beside them and, swinging a handful of
banana-peels, flung them valiantly in the direction of the Potomac.
Simultaneously with the fall of Liège, Anthony and Gloria arrived in New
York. In retrospect the six weeks seemed miraculously happy. They had
found to a great extent, as most young couples find in some measure,
that they possessed in common many fixed ideas and curiosities and odd
quirks of mind; they were essentially companionable.
But it had been a struggle to keep many of their conversations on the
level of discussions. Arguments were fatal to Gloria's disposition. She
had all her life been associated either with her mental inferiors or
with men who, under the almost hostile intimidation of her beauty, had
not dared to contradict her; naturally, then, it irritated her when
Anthony emerged from the state in which her pronouncements were an
infallible and ultimate decision.
He failed to realize, at first, that this was the result partly of her
"female" education and partly of her beauty, and he was inclined to
include her with her entire sex as curiously and definitely limited. It
maddened him to find she had no sense of justice. But he discovered
that, when a subject did interest her, her brain tired less quickly than
his. What he chiefly missed in her mind was the pedantic teleology--the
sense of order and accuracy, the sense of life as a mysteriously
correlated piece of patchwork, but he understood after a while that such
a quality in her would have been incongruous.
Of the things they possessed in common, greatest of all was their almost
uncanny pull at each other's hearts. The day they left the hotel in
Coronado she sat down on one of the beds while they were packing, and
began to weep bitterly.
"Dearest--" His arms were around her; he pulled her head down upon his
shoulder. "What is it, my own Gloria? Tell me."
"We're going away," she sobbed. "Oh, Anthony, it's sort of the first
place we've lived together. Our two little beds here--side by
side--they'll be always waiting for us, and we're never coming back to
'em any more."
She was tearing at his heart as she always could. Sentiment came over
him, rushed into his eyes.
"Gloria, why, we're going on to another room. And two other little beds.
We're going to be together all our lives."
Words flooded from her in a low husky voice.
"But it won't be--like our two beds--ever again. Everywhere we go and
move on and change, something's lost--something's left behind. You can't
ever quite repeat anything, and I've been so yours, here--"
He held her passionately near, discerning far beyond any criticism of
her sentiment, a wise grasping of the minute, if only an indulgence of
her desire to cry--Gloria the idler, caresser of her own dreams,
extracting poignancy from the memorable things of life and youth.
Later in the afternoon when he returned from the station with the
tickets he found her asleep on one of the beds, her arm curled about a
black object which he could not at first identify. Coming closer he
found it was one of his shoes, not a particularly new one, nor clean
one, but her face, tear-stained, was pressed against it, and he
understood her ancient and most honorable message. There was almost
ecstasy in waking her and seeing her smile at him, shy but well aware of
her own nicety of imagination.
With no appraisal of the worth or dross of these two things, it seemed
to Anthony that they lay somewhere near the heart of love.
THE GRAY HOUSE
It is in the twenties that the actual momentum of life begins to
slacken, and it is a simple soul indeed to whom as many things are
significant and meaningful at thirty as at ten years before. At thirty
an organ-grinder is a more or less moth-eaten man who grinds an
organ--and once he was an organ-grinder! The unmistakable stigma of
humanity touches all those impersonal and beautiful things that only
youth ever grasps in their impersonal glory. A brilliant ball, gay with
light romantic laughter, wears through its own silks and satins to show
the bare framework of a man-made thing--oh, that eternal hand!--a play,
most tragic and most divine, becomes merely a succession of speeches,
sweated over by the eternal plagiarist in the clammy hours and acted by
men subject to cramps, cowardice, and manly sentiment.
And this time with Gloria and Anthony, this first year of marriage, and
the gray house caught them in that stage when the organ-grinder was
slowly undergoing his inevitable metamorphosis. She was twenty-three; he
The gray house was, at first, of sheerly pastoral intent. They lived
impatiently in Anthony's apartment for the first fortnight after the
return from California, in a stifled atmosphere of open trunks, too many
callers, and the eternal laundry-bags. They discussed with their friends
the stupendous problem of their future. Dick and Maury would sit with
them agreeing solemnly, almost thoughtfully, as Anthony ran through his
list of what they "ought" to do, and where they "ought" to live.
"I'd like to take Gloria abroad," he complained, "except for this damn
war--and next to that I'd sort of like to have a place in the country,
somewhere near New York, of course, where I could write--or whatever I
decide to do."
"Isn't he cute?" she required of Maury. "'Whatever he decides to do!'
But what am "I" going to do if he works? Maury, will you take me around
if Anthony works?"
"Anyway, I'm not going to work yet," said Anthony quickly.
It was vaguely understood between them that on some misty day he would
enter a sort of glorified diplomatic service and be envied by princes
and prime ministers for his beautiful wife.
"Well," said Gloria helplessly, "I'm sure I don't know. We talk and talk
and never get anywhere, and we ask all our friends and they just answer
the way we want 'em to. I wish somebody'd take care of us."
"Why don't you go out to--out to Greenwich or something?" suggested
"I'd like that," said Gloria, brightening. "Do you think we could get a
Dick shrugged his shoulders and Maury laughed.
"You two amuse me," he said. "Of all the unpractical people! As soon as
a place is mentioned you expect us to pull great piles of photographs
out of our pockets showing the different styles of architecture
available in bungalows."
"That's just what I don't want," wailed Gloria, "a hot stuffy bungalow,
with a lot of babies next door and their father cutting the grass in his
"For Heaven's sake, Gloria," interrupted Maury, "nobody wants to lock
you up in a bungalow. Who in God's name brought bungalows into the
conversation? But you'll never get a place anywhere unless you go out
and hunt for it."
"Go where? You say 'go out and hunt for it,' but where?"
With dignity Maury waved his hand paw-like about the room.
"Out anywhere. Out in the country. There're lots of places."
"Look here!" Richard Caramel brought his yellow eye rakishly into play.
"The trouble with you two is that you're all disorganized. Do you know
anything about New York State? Shut up, Anthony, I'm talking to Gloria."
"Well," she admitted finally, "I've been to two or three house parties
in Portchester and around in Connecticut--but, of course, that isn't in
New York State, is it? And neither is Morristown," she finished with
There was a shout of laughter.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Dick, "neither is Morristown!' No, and neither is
Santa Barbara, Gloria. Now listen. To begin with, unless you have a
fortune there's no use considering any place like Newport or
Southhampton or Tuxedo. They're out of the question."
They all agreed to this solemnly.
"And personally I hate New Jersey. Then, of course, there's upper New
York, above Tuxedo."
"Too cold," said Gloria briefly. "I was there once in an automobile."
"Well, it seems to me there're a lot of towns like Rye between New York
and Greenwich where you could buy a little gray house of some--"
Gloria leaped at the phrase triumphantly. For the first time since their
return East she knew what she wanted.
"Oh, "yes"!" she cried. "Oh, "yes"! that's it: a little gray house with
sort of white around and a whole lot of swamp maples just as brown and
gold as an October picture in a gallery. Where can we find one?"
"Unfortunately, I've mislaid my list of little gray houses with swamp
maples around them--but I'll try to find it. Meanwhile you take a piece
of paper and write down the names of seven possible towns. And every day
this week you take a trip to one of those towns."
"Oh, gosh!" protested Gloria, collapsing mentally, "why won't you do it
for us? I hate trains."
"Well, hire a car, and--"
"I'm tired of discussing it. Seems to me all we do is talk about where
"My exquisite wife wearies of thought," remarked Anthony ironically.
"She must have a tomato sandwich to stimulate her jaded nerves. Let's go
out to tea."
As the unfortunate upshot of this conversation, they took Dick's advice
literally, and two days later went out to Rye, where they wandered
around with an irritated real estate agent, like bewildered babes in the
wood. They were shown houses at a hundred a month which closely adjoined
other houses at a hundred a month; they were shown isolated houses to
which they invariably took violent dislikes, though they submitted
weakly to the agent's desire that they "look at that stove--some stove!"
and to a great shaking of doorposts and tapping of walls, intended
evidently to show that the house would not immediately collapse, no
matter how convincingly it gave that impression. They gazed through
windows into interiors furnished either "commercially" with slab-like
chairs and unyielding settees, or "home-like" with the melancholy
bric-à-brac of other summers--crossed tennis rackets, fit-form couches,
and depressing Gibson girls. With a feeling of guilt they looked at a
few really nice houses, aloof, dignified, and cool--at three hundred a
month. They went away from Rye thanking the real estate agent very
On the crowded train back to New York the seat behind was occupied by a
super-respirating Latin whose last few meals had obviously been composed
entirely of garlic. They reached the apartment gratefully, almost
hysterically, and Gloria rushed for a hot bath in the reproachless
bathroom. So far as the question of a future abode was concerned both of
them were incapacitated for a week.
The matter eventually worked itself out with unhoped-for romance.
Anthony ran into the living room one afternoon fairly radiating
"I've got it," he was exclaiming as though he had just caught a mouse.
"We'll get a car."
"Gee whiz! Haven't we got troubles enough taking care of ourselves?"
"Give me a second to explain, can't you? just let's leave our stuff with
Dick and just pile a couple of suitcases in our car, the one we're going
to buy--we'll have to have one in the country anyway--and just start out
in the direction of New Haven. You see, as we get out of commuting
distance from New York, the rents'll get cheaper, and as soon as we find
a house we want we'll just settle down."
By his frequent and soothing interpolation of the word "just" he aroused
her lethargic enthusiasm. Strutting violently about the room, he
simulated a dynamic and irresistible efficiency. "We'll buy a car
Life, limping after imagination's ten-league boots, saw them out of town
a week later in a cheap but sparkling new roadster, saw them through the
chaotic unintelligible Bronx, then over a wide murky district which
alternated cheerless blue-green wastes with suburbs of tremendous and
sordid activity. They left New York at eleven and it was well past a hot
and beatific noon when they moved rakishly through Pelham.
"These aren't towns," said Gloria scornfully, "these are just city
blocks plumped down coldly into waste acres. I imagine all the men here
have their mustaches stained from drinking their coffee too quickly in
"And play pinochle on the commuting trains."
"Don't be so literal. How should I know? But it sounds as though they
ought to play it."
"I like it. It sounds as if it were something where you sort of cracked
your knuckles or something.... Let me drive."
Anthony looked at her suspiciously.
"You swear you're a good driver?"
"Since I was fourteen."
He stopped the car cautiously at the side of the road and they changed
seats. Then with a horrible grinding noise the car was put in gear,
Gloria adding an accompaniment of laughter which seemed to Anthony
disquieting and in the worst possible taste.
"Here we go!" she yelled. "Whoo-oop!"
Their heads snapped back like marionettes on a single wire as the car
leaped ahead and curved retchingly about a standing milk-wagon, whose
driver stood up on his seat and bellowed after them. In the immemorial
tradition of the road Anthony retorted with a few brief epigrams as to
the grossness of the milk-delivering profession. He cut his remarks
short, however, and turned to Gloria with the growing conviction that he
had made a grave mistake in relinquishing control and that Gloria was a
driver of many eccentricities and of infinite carelessness.
"Remember now!" he warned her nervously, "the man said we oughtn't to go
over twenty miles an hour for the first five thousand miles."
She nodded briefly, but evidently intending to accomplish the
prohibitive distance as quickly as possible, slightly increased her
speed. A moment later he made another attempt.
"See that sign? Do you want to get us pinched?"
"Oh, for Heaven's sake," cried Gloria in exasperation, "you "always"
exaggerate things so!"
"Well, I don't want to get arrested."
"Who's arresting you? You're so persistent--just like you were about my
cough medicine last night."
"It was for your own good."
"Ha! I might as well be living with mama."
"What a thing to say to me!"
A standing policeman swerved into view, was hastily passed.
"See him?" demanded Anthony.
"Oh, you drive me crazy! He didn't arrest us, did he?"
"When he does it'll be too late," countered Anthony brilliantly.
Her reply was scornful, almost injured.
"Why, this old thing won't "go" over thirty-five."
"It isn't old."
"It is in spirit."
That afternoon the car joined the laundry-bags and Gloria's appetite as
one of the trinity of contention. He warned her of railroad tracks; he
pointed out approaching automobiles; finally he insisted on taking the
wheel and a furious, insulted Gloria sat silently beside him between the
towns of Larchmont and Rye.
But it was due to this furious silence of hers that the gray house
materialized from its abstraction, for just beyond Rye he surrendered
gloomily to it and re-relinquished the wheel. Mutely he beseeched her
and Gloria, instantly cheered, vowed to be more careful. But because a
discourteous street-car persisted callously in remaining upon its track
Gloria ducked down a side-street--and thereafter that afternoon was
never able to find her way back to the Post Road. The street they
finally mistook for it lost its Post-Road aspect when it had gone five
miles from Cos Cob. Its macadam became gravel, then dirt--moreover, it
narrowed and developed a border of maple trees, through which filtered
the weltering sun, making its endless experiments with shadow designs
upon the long grass.
"We're lost now," complained Anthony.
"Read that sign!"
"Marietta--Five Miles. What's Marietta?"
"Never heard of it, but let's go on. We can't turn here and there's
probably a detour back to the Post Road."
The way became scarred with deepening ruts and insidious shoulders of
stone. Three farmhouses faced them momentarily, slid by. A town sprang
up in a cluster of dull roofs around a white tall steeple.
Then Gloria, hesitating between two approaches, and making her choice
too late, drove over a fire-hydrant and ripped the transmission
violently from the car.
It was dark when the real-estate agent of Marietta showed them the gray
house. They came upon it just west of the village, where it rested
against a sky that was a warm blue cloak buttoned with tiny stars. The
gray house had been there when women who kept cats were probably
witches, when Paul Revere made false teeth in Boston preparatory to
arousing the great commercial people, when our ancestors were gloriously
deserting Washington in droves. Since those days the house had been
bolstered up in a feeble corner, considerably repartitioned and newly
plastered inside, amplified by a kitchen and added to by a
side-porch--but, save for where some jovial oaf had roofed the new
kitchen with red tin, Colonial it defiantly remained.
"How did you happen to come to Marietta?" demanded the real-estate agent
in a tone that was first cousin to suspicion. He was showing them
through four spacious and airy bedrooms.
"We broke down," explained Gloria. "I drove over a fire-hydrant and we
had ourselves towed to the garage and then we saw your sign."
The man nodded, unable to follow such a sally of spontaneity. There was
something subtly immoral in doing anything without several months'
They signed a lease that night and, in the agent's car, returned
jubilantly to the somnolent and dilapidated Marietta Inn, which was too
broken for even the chance immoralities and consequent gaieties of a
country road-house. Half the night they lay awake planning the things
they were to do there. Anthony was going to work at an astounding pace
on his history and thus ingratiate himself with his cynical
grandfather.... When the car was repaired they would explore the country
and join the nearest "really nice" club, where Gloria would play golf
"or something" while Anthony wrote. This, of course, was Anthony's
idea--Gloria was sure she wanted but to read and dream and be fed tomato
sandwiches and lemonades by some angelic servant still in a shadowy
hinterland. Between paragraphs Anthony would come and kiss her as she
lay indolently in the hammock.... The hammock! a host of new dreams in
tune to its imagined rhythm, while the wind stirred it and waves of sun
undulated over the shadows of blown wheat, or the dusty road freckled
and darkened with quiet summer rain....
And guests--here they had a long argument, both of them trying to be
extraordinarily mature and far-sighted. Anthony claimed that they would
need people at least every other week-end "as a sort of change." This
provoked an involved and extremely sentimental conversation as to
whether Anthony did not consider Gloria change enough. Though he assured
her that he did, she insisted upon doubting him.... Eventually the
conversation assumed its eternal monotone: "What then? Oh, what'll we
"Well, we'll have a dog," suggested Anthony.
"I don't want one. I want a kitty." She went thoroughly and with great
enthusiasm into the history, habits, and tastes of a cat she had once
possessed. Anthony considered that it must have been a horrible
character with neither personal magnetism nor a loyal heart.
Later they slept, to wake an hour before dawn with the gray house
dancing in phantom glory before their dazzled eyes.
THE SOUL OF GLORIA
For that autumn the gray house welcomed them with a rush of sentiment
that falsified its cynical old age. True, there were the laundry-bags,
there was Gloria's appetite, there was Anthony's tendency to brood and
his imaginative "nervousness," but there were intervals also of an
unhoped-for serenity. Close together on the porch they would wait for
the moon to stream across the silver acres of farmland, jump a thick
wood and tumble waves of radiance at their feet. In such a moonlight
Gloria's face was of a pervading, reminiscent white, and with a modicum
of effort they would slip off the blinders of custom and each would find
in the other almost the quintessential romance of the vanished June.
One night while her head lay upon his heart and their cigarettes glowed
in swerving buttons of light through the dome of darkness over the bed,
she spoke for the first time and fragmentarily of the men who had hung
for brief moments on her beauty.
"Do you ever think of them?" he asked her.
"Only occasionally--when something happens that recalls a particular
"What do you remember--their kisses?"
"All sorts of things.... Men are different with women."
"Different in what way?"
"Oh, entirely--and quite inexpressibly. Men who had the most firmly
rooted reputation for being this way or that would sometimes be
surprisingly inconsistent with me. Brutal men were tender, negligible
men were astonishingly loyal and lovable, and, often, honorable men took
attitudes that were anything but honorable."
"Well, there was a boy named Percy Wolcott from Cornell who was quite a
hero in college, a great athlete, and saved a lot of people from a fire
or something like that. But I soon found he was stupid in a rather
"It seems he had some naïve conception of a woman 'fit to be his wife,'
a particular conception that I used to run into a lot and that always
drove me wild. He demanded a girl who'd never been kissed and who liked
to sew and sit home and pay tribute to his self-esteem. And I'll bet a
hat if he's gotten an idiot to sit and be stupid with him he's tearing
out on the side with some much speedier lady."
"I'd be sorry for his wife."
"I wouldn't. Think what an ass she'd be not to realize it before she
married him. He's the sort whose idea of honoring and respecting a woman
would be never to give her any excitement. With the best intentions, he
was deep in the dark ages."
"What was his attitude toward you?"
"I'm coming to that. As I told you--or did I tell you?--he was mighty
good-looking: big brown honest eyes and one of those smiles that
guarantee the heart behind it is twenty-karat gold. Being young and
credulous, I thought he had some discretion, so I kissed him fervently
one night when we were riding around after a dance at the Homestead at
Hot Springs. It had been a wonderful week, I remember--with the most
luscious trees spread like green lather, sort of, all over the valley
and a mist rising out of them on October mornings like bonfires lit to
turn them brown--"
"How about your friend with the ideals?" interrupted Anthony.
"It seems that when he kissed me he began to think that perhaps he could
get away with a little more, that I needn't be 'respected' like this
Beatrice Fairfax glad-girl of his imagination."
"What'd he do?"
"Not much. I pushed him off a sixteen-foot embankment before he was well
"Hurt him?" inquired Anthony with a laugh.
"Broke his arm and sprained his ankle. He told the story all over Hot
Springs, and when his arm healed a man named Barley who liked me fought
him and broke it over again. Oh, it was all an awful mess. He threatened
to sue Barley, and Barley--he was from Georgia--was seen buying a gun in
town. But before that mama had dragged me North again, much against my
will, so I never did find out all that happened--though I saw Barley
once in the Vanderbilt lobby."
Anthony laughed long and loud.
"What a career! I suppose I ought to be furious because you've kissed so
many men. I'm not, though."
At this she sat up in bed.
"It's funny, but I'm so sure that those kisses left no mark on me--no
taint of promiscuity, I mean--even though a man once told me in all
seriousness that he hated to think I'd been a public drinking glass."
"He had his nerve."
"I just laughed and told him to think of me rather as a loving-cup that
goes from hand to hand but should be valued none the less."
"Somehow it doesn't bother me--on the other hand it would, of course, if
you'd done any more than kiss them. But I believe "you're" absolutely
incapable of jealousy except as hurt vanity. Why don't you care what
I've done? Wouldn't you prefer it if I'd been absolutely innocent?"
"It's all in the impression it might have made on you. "My" kisses were
because the man was good-looking, or because there was a slick moon, or
even because I've felt vaguely sentimental and a little stirred. But
that's all--it's had utterly no effect on me. But you'd remember and let
memories haunt you and worry you."
"Haven't you ever kissed any one like you've kissed me?"
"No," she answered simply. "As I've told you, men have tried--oh, lots
of things. Any pretty girl has that experience.... You see," she
resumed, "it doesn't matter to me how many women you've stayed with in
the past, so long as it was merely a physical satisfaction, but I don't
believe I could endure the idea of your ever having lived with another
woman for a protracted period or even having wanted to marry some
possible girl. It's different somehow. There'd be all the little
intimacies remembered--and they'd dull that freshness that after all is
the most precious part of love."
Rapturously he pulled her down beside him on the pillow.
"Oh, my darling," he whispered, "as if I remembered anything but your
Then Gloria, in a very mild voice:
"Anthony, did I hear anybody say they were thirsty?"
Anthony laughed abruptly and with a sheepish and amused grin got out of
"With just a "little" piece of ice in the water," she added. "Do you
suppose I could have that?"
Gloria used the adjective "little" whenever she asked a favor--it made
the favor sound less arduous. But Anthony laughed again--whether she
wanted a cake of ice or a marble of it, he must go down-stairs to the
kitchen.... Her voice followed him through the hall: "And just a
"little" cracker with just a "little" marmalade on it...."
"Oh, gosh!" sighed Anthony in rapturous slang, "she's wonderful, that
girl! She "has" it!"
"When we have a baby," she began one day--this, it had already been
decided, was to be after three years--"I want it to look like you."
"Except its legs," he insinuated slyly.
"Oh, yes, except his legs. He's got to have my legs. But the rest of him
can be you."
"Well, perhaps my nose. But certainly your eyes--and my mouth, and I
guess my shape of the face. I wonder; I think he'd be sort of cute if he
had my hair."
"My dear Gloria, you've appropriated the whole baby."
"Well, I didn't mean to," she apologized cheerfully.
"Let him have my neck at least," he urged, regarding himself gravely in
the glass. "You've often said you liked my neck because the Adam's apple
doesn't show, and, besides, your neck's too short."
"Why, it is "not"!" she cried indignantly, turning to the mirror, "it's
just right. I don't believe I've ever seen a better neck."
"It's too short," he repeated teasingly.
"Short?" Her tone expressed exasperated wonder.
"Short? You're crazy!" She elongated and contracted it to convince
herself of its reptilian sinuousness. "Do you call "that" a short neck?"
"One of the shortest I've ever seen."
For the first time in weeks tears started from Gloria's eyes and the
look she gave him had a quality of real pain.
"My Lord, Gloria!" He approached her in bewilderment and took her elbows
in his hands. "Don't cry, "please"! Didn't you know I was only kidding?
Gloria, look at me! Why, dearest, you've got the longest neck I've ever
Her tears dissolved in a twisted smile.
"Well--you shouldn't have said that, then. Let's talk about the b-baby."
Anthony paced the floor and spoke as though rehearsing for a debate.
"To put it briefly, there are two babies we could have, two distinct and
logical babies, utterly differentiated. There's the baby that's the
combination of the best of both of us. Your body, my eyes, my mind, your
intelligence--and then there is the baby which is our worst--my body,
your disposition, and my irresolution."
"I like that second baby," she said.
"What I'd really like," continued Anthony, "would be to have two sets of
triplets one year apart and then experiment with the six boys--"
"Poor me," she interjected.
"--I'd educate them each in a different country and by a different
system and when they were twenty-three I'd call them together and see
what they were like."
"Let's have 'em all with my neck," suggested Gloria.
THE END OF A CHAPTER
The car was at length repaired and with a deliberate vengeance took up
where it left off the business of causing infinite dissension. Who
should drive? How fast should Gloria go? These two questions and the
eternal recriminations involved ran through the days. They motored to
the Post-Road towns, Rye, Portchester, and Greenwich, and called on a
dozen friends, mostly Gloria's, who all seemed to be in different stages
of having babies and in this respect as well as in others bored her to a
point of nervous distraction. For an hour after each visit she would
bite her fingers furiously and be inclined to take out her rancor
"I loathe women," she cried in a mild temper. "What on earth can you say
to them--except talk 'lady-lady'? I've enthused over a dozen babies that
I've wanted only to choke. And every one of those girls is either
incipiently jealous and suspicious of her husband if he's charming or
beginning to be bored with him if he isn't."
"Don't you ever intend to see any women?"
"I don't know. They never seem clean to me--never--never. Except just a
few. Constance Shaw--you know, the Mrs. Merriam who came over to see us
last Tuesday--is almost the only one. She's so tall and fresh-looking
"I don't like them so tall."
Though they went to several dinner dances at various country clubs, they
decided that the autumn was too nearly over for them to "go out" on any
scale, even had they been so inclined. He hated golf; Gloria liked it
only mildly, and though she enjoyed a violent rush that some
undergraduates gave her one night and was glad that Anthony should be
proud of her beauty, she also perceived that their hostess for the
evening, a Mrs. Granby, was somewhat disquieted by the fact that
Anthony's classmate, Alec Granby, joined with enthusiasm in the rush.
The Granbys never phoned again, and though Gloria laughed, it piqued her
not a little.
"You see," she explained to Anthony, "if I wasn't married it wouldn't
worry her--but she's been to the movies in her day and she thinks I may
be a vampire. But the point is that placating such people requires an
effort that I'm simply unwilling to make.... And those cute little
freshmen making eyes at me and paying me idiotic compliments! I've grown
Marietta itself offered little social life. Half a dozen farm-estates
formed a hectagon around it, but these belonged to ancient men who
displayed themselves only as inert, gray-thatched lumps in the back of
limousines on their way to the station, whither they were sometimes
accompanied by equally ancient and doubly massive wives. The townspeople
were a particularly uninteresting type--unmarried females were
predominant for the most part--with school-festival horizons and souls
bleak as the forbidding white architecture of the three churches. The
only native with whom they came into close contact was the broad-hipped,
broad-shouldered Swedish girl who came every day to do their work. She
was silent and efficient, and Gloria, after finding her weeping
violently into her bowed arms upon the kitchen table, developed an
uncanny fear of her and stopped complaining about the food. Because of
her untold and esoteric grief the girl stayed on.
Gloria's penchant for premonitions and her bursts of vague
supernaturalism were a surprise to Anthony. Either some complex,
properly and scientifically inhibited in the early years with her
Bilphistic mother, or some inherited hypersensitiveness, made her
susceptible to any suggestion of the psychic, and, far from gullible
about the motives of people, she was inclined to credit any
extraordinary happening attributed to the whimsical perambulations of
the buried. The desperate squeakings about the old house on windy nights
that to Anthony were burglars with revolvers ready in hand represented
to Gloria the auras, evil and restive, of dead generations, expiating
the inexpiable upon the ancient and romantic hearth. One night, because
of two swift bangs down-stairs, which Anthony fearfully but unavailingly
investigated, they lay awake nearly until dawn asking each other
examination-paper questions about the history of the world.
In October Muriel came out for a two weeks' visit. Gloria had
called her on long-distance, and Miss Kane ended the conversation
characteristically by saying "All-ll-ll righty. I'll be there with
bells!" She arrived with a dozen popular songs under her arm.
"You ought to have a phonograph out here in the country," she said,
"just a little Vic--they don't cost much. Then whenever you're lonesome
you can have Caruso or Al Jolson right at your door."
She worried Anthony to distraction by telling him that "he was the first
clever man she had ever known and she got so tired of shallow people."
He wondered that people fell in love with such women. Yet he supposed
that under a certain impassioned glance even she might take on a
softness and promise.
But Gloria, violently showing off her love for Anthony, was diverted
into a state of purring content.
Finally Richard Caramel arrived for a garrulous and to Gloria painfully
literary week-end, during which he discussed himself with Anthony long
after she lay in childlike sleep up-stairs.
"It's been mighty funny, this success and all," said Dick. "Just before
the novel appeared I'd been trying, without success, to sell some short
stories. Then, after my book came out, I polished up three and had them
accepted by one of the magazines that had rejected them before. I've
done a lot of them since; publishers don't pay me for my book till
"Don't let the victor belong to the spoils."
"You mean write trash?" He considered. "If you mean deliberately
injecting a slushy fade-out into each one, I'm not. But I don't suppose
I'm being so careful. I'm certainly writing faster and I don't seem to
be thinking as much as I used to. Perhaps it's because I don't get any
conversation, now that you're married and Maury's gone to Philadelphia.
Haven't the old urge and ambition. Early success and all that."
"Doesn't it worry you?"
"Frantically. I get a thing I call sentence-fever that must be like
buck-fever--it's a sort of intense literary self-consciousness that
comes when I try to force myself. But the really awful days aren't when
I think I can't write. They're when I wonder whether any writing is
worth while at all--I mean whether I'm not a sort of glorified buffoon."
"I like to hear you talk that way," said Anthony with a touch of his old
patronizing insolence. "I was afraid you'd gotten a bit idiotic over
your work. Read the damnedest interview you gave out----"
Dick interrupted with an agonized expression.
"Good Lord! Don't mention it. Young lady wrote it--most admiring young
lady. Kept telling me my work was 'strong,' and I sort of lost my head
and made a lot of strange pronouncements. Some of it was good, though,
don't you think?"
"Oh, yes; that part about the wise writer writing for the youth of his
generation, the critic of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever
"Oh, I believe a lot of it," admitted Richard Caramel with a faint beam.
"It simply was a mistake to give it out."
In November they moved into Anthony's apartment, from which they sallied
triumphantly to the Yale-Harvard and Harvard-Princeton football games,
to the St. Nicholas ice-skating rink, to a thorough round of the
theatres and to a miscellany of entertainments--from small, staid dances
to the great affairs that Gloria loved, held in those few houses where
lackeys with powdered wigs scurried around in magnificent Anglomania
under the direction of gigantic majordomos. Their intention was to go
abroad the first of the year or, at any rate, when the war was over.
Anthony had actually completed a Chestertonian essay on the twelfth
century by way of introduction to his proposed book and Gloria had done
some extensive research work on the question of Russian sable coats--in
fact the winter was approaching quite comfortably, when the Bilphistic
demiurge decided suddenly in mid-December that Mrs. Gilbert's soul had
aged sufficiently in its present incarnation. In consequence Anthony
took a miserable and hysterical Gloria out to Kansas City, where, in the
fashion of mankind, they paid the terrible and mind-shaking deference
to the dead.
Mr. Gilbert became, for the first and last time in his life, a truly
pathetic figure. That woman he had broken to wait upon his body and play
congregation to his mind had ironically deserted him--just when he could
not much longer have supported her. Never again would he be able so
satisfactorily to bore and bully a human soul.
Gloria had lulled Anthony's mind to sleep. She, who seemed of all women
the wisest and the finest, hung like a brilliant curtain across his
doorways, shutting out the light of the sun. In those first years what
he believed bore invariably the stamp of Gloria; he saw the sun always
through the pattern of the curtain.
It was a sort of lassitude that brought them back to Marietta for
another summer. Through a golden enervating spring they had loitered,
restive and lazily extravagant, along the California coast, joining
other parties intermittently and drifting from Pasadena to Coronado,
from Coronado to Santa Barbara, with no purpose more apparent than
Gloria's desire to dance by different music or catch some infinitesimal
variant among the changing colors of the sea. Out of the Pacific there
rose to greet them savage rocklands and equally barbaric hostelries
built that at tea-time one might drowse into a languid wicker bazaar
glorified by the polo costumes of Southhampton and Lake Forest and
Newport and Palm Beach. And, as the waves met and splashed and glittered
in the most placid of the bays, so they joined this group and that, and
with them shifted stations, murmuring ever of those strange
unsubstantial gaieties in wait just over the next green and
A simple healthy leisure class it was--the best of the men not
unpleasantly undergraduate--they seemed to be on a perpetual candidates
list for some etherealized "Porcellian" or "Skull and Bones" extended
out indefinitely into the world; the women, of more than average beauty,
fragilely athletic, somewhat idiotic as hostesses but charming and
infinitely decorative as guests. Sedately and gracefully they danced the
steps of their selection in the balmy tea hours, accomplishing with a
certain dignity the movements so horribly burlesqued by clerk and chorus
girl the country over. It seemed ironic that in this lone and
discredited offspring of the arts Americans should excel,
Having danced and splashed through a lavish spring, Anthony and Gloria
found that they had spent too much money and for this must go into
retirement for a certain period. There was Anthony's "work," they said.
Almost before they knew it they were back in the gray house, more aware
now that other lovers had slept there, other names had been called over
the banisters, other couples had sat upon the porch steps watching the
gray-green fields and the black bulk of woods beyond.
It was the same Anthony, more restless, inclined to quicken only under
the stimulus of several high-balls, faintly, almost imperceptibly,
apathetic toward Gloria. But Gloria--she would be twenty-four in August
and was in an attractive but sincere panic about it. Six years to
thirty! Had she been less in love with Anthony her sense of the flight
of time would have expressed itself in a reawakened interest in other
men, in a deliberate intention of extracting a transient gleam of
romance from every potential lover who glanced at her with lowered brows
over a shining dinner table. She said to Anthony one day:
"How I feel is that if I wanted anything I'd take it. That's what I've
always thought all my life. But it happens that I want you, and so I
just haven't room for any other desires."
They were bound eastward through a parched and lifeless Indiana, and she
had looked up from one of her beloved moving picture magazines to find a
casual conversation suddenly turned grave.
Anthony frowned out the car window. As the track crossed a country road
a farmer appeared momentarily in his wagon; he was chewing on a straw
and was apparently the same farmer they had passed a dozen times before,
sitting in silent and malignant symbolism. As Anthony turned to Gloria
his frown intensified.
"You worry me," he objected; "I can imagine "wanting" another woman
under certain transitory circumstances, but I can't imagine taking her."
"But I don't feel that way, Anthony. I can't be bothered resisting
things I want. My way is not to want them--to want nobody but you."
"Yet when I think that if you just happened to take a fancy to some
"Oh, don't be an idiot!" she exclaimed. "There'd be nothing casual about
it. And I can't even imagine the possibility."
This emphatically closed the conversation. Anthony's unfailing
appreciation made her happier in his company than in any one's else. She
definitely enjoyed him--she loved him. So the summer began very much as
had the one before.
There was, however, one radical change in ménage. The icy-hearted
Scandinavian, whose austere cooking and sardonic manner of waiting on
table had so depressed Gloria, gave way to an exceedingly efficient
Japanese whose name was Tanalahaka, but who confessed that he heeded any
summons which included the dissyllable "Tana."
Tana was unusually small even for a Japanese, and displayed a somewhat
naïve conception of himself as a man of the world. On the day of his
arrival from "R. Gugimoniki, Japanese Reliable Employment Agency," he
called Anthony into his room to see the treasures of his trunk. These
included a large collection of Japanese post cards, which he was all for
explaining to his employer at once, individually and at great length.
Among them were half a dozen of pornographic intent and plainly of
American origin, though the makers had modestly omitted both their names
and the form for mailing. He next brought out some of his own
handiwork--a pair of American pants, which he had made himself, and two
suits of solid silk underwear. He informed Anthony confidentially as to
the purpose for which these latter were reserved. The next exhibit was a
rather good copy of an etching of Abraham Lincoln, to whose face he had
given an unmistakable Japanese cast. Last came a flute; he had made it
himself but it was broken: he was going to fix it soon.
After these polite formalities, which Anthony conjectured must be native
to Japan, Tana delivered a long harangue in splintered English on the
relation of master and servant from which Anthony gathered that he had
worked on large estates but had always quarrelled with the other
servants because they were not honest. They had a great time over the
word "honest," and in fact became rather irritated with each other,
because Anthony persisted stubbornly that Tana was trying to say
"hornets," and even went to the extent of buzzing in the manner of a bee
and flapping his arms to imitate wings.
After three-quarters of an hour Anthony was released with the warm
assurance that they would have other nice chats in which Tana would tell
"how we do in my countree."
Such was Tana's garrulous première in the gray house--and he fulfilled
its promise. Though he was conscientious and honorable, he was
unquestionably a terrific bore. He seemed unable to control his tongue,
sometimes continuing from paragraph to paragraph with a look akin to
pain in his small brown eyes.
Sunday and Monday afternoons he read the comic sections of the
newspapers. One cartoon which contained a facetious Japanese butler
diverted him enormously, though he claimed that the protagonist, who to
Anthony appeared clearly Oriental, had really an American face. The
difficulty with the funny paper was that when, aided by Anthony, he had
spelled out the last three pictures and assimilated their context with a
concentration surely adequate for Kant's "Critique," he had entirely
forgotten what the first pictures were about.
In the middle of June Anthony and Gloria celebrated their first
anniversary by having a "date." Anthony knocked at the door and she ran
to let him in. Then they sat together on the couch calling over those
names they had made for each other, new combinations of endearments ages
old. Yet to this "date" was appended no attenuated good-night with its
ecstasy of regret.
Later in June horror leered out at Gloria, struck at her and frightened
her bright soul back half a generation. Then slowly it faded out, faded
back into that impenetrable darkness whence it had come--taking
relentlessly its modicum of youth.
With an infallible sense of the dramatic it chose a little railroad
station in a wretched village near Portchester. The station platform lay
all day bare as a prairie, exposed to the dusty yellow sun and to the
glance of that most obnoxious type of countryman who lives near a
metropolis and has attained its cheap smartness without its urbanity. A
dozen of these yokels, red-eyed, cheerless as scarecrows, saw the
incident. Dimly it passed across their confused and uncomprehending
minds, taken at its broadest for a coarse joke, at its subtlest for a
"shame." Meanwhile there upon the platform a measure of brightness faded
from the world.
With Eric Merriam, Anthony had been sitting over a decanter of Scotch
all the hot summer afternoon, while Gloria and Constance Merriam swam
and sunned themselves at the Beach Club, the latter under a striped
parasol-awning, Gloria stretched sensuously upon the soft hot sand,
tanning her inevitable legs. Later they had all four played with
inconsequential sandwiches; then Gloria had risen, tapping Anthony's
knee with her parasol to get his attention.
"We've got to go, dear."
"Now?" He looked at her unwillingly. At that moment nothing seemed of
more importance than to idle on that shady porch drinking mellowed
Scotch, while his host reminisced interminably on the byplay of some
forgotten political campaign.
"We've really got to go," repeated Gloria. "We can get a taxi to the
station.... Come on, Anthony!" she commanded a bit more imperiously.
"Now see here--" Merriam, his yarn cut off, made conventional
objections, meanwhile provocatively filling his guest's glass with a
high-ball that should have been sipped through ten minutes. But at
Gloria's annoyed "We really "must!"" Anthony drank it off, got to his
feet and made an elaborate bow to his hostess.
"It seems we 'must,'" he said, with little grace.
In a minute he was following Gloria down a garden-walk between tall
rose-bushes, her parasol brushing gently the June-blooming leaves. Most
inconsiderate, he thought, as they reached the road. He felt with
injured naïvete that Gloria should not have interrupted such innocent
and harmless enjoyment. The whiskey had both soothed and clarified the
restless things in his mind. It occurred to him that she had taken this
same attitude several times before. Was he always to retreat from
pleasant episodes at a touch of her parasol or a flicker of her eye? His
unwillingness blurred to ill will, which rose within him like a
resistless bubble. He kept silent, perversely inhibiting a desire to
reproach her. They found a taxi in front of the Inn; rode silently to
the little station....
Then Anthony knew what he wanted--to assert his will against this cool
and impervious girl, to obtain with one magnificent effort a mastery
that seemed infinitely desirable.
"Let's go over to see the Barneses," he said without looking at her. "I
don't feel like going home."
--Mrs. Barnes, née Rachael Jerryl, had a summer place several miles from
"We went there day before yesterday," she answered shortly.
"I'm sure they'd be glad to see us." He felt that that was not a strong
enough note, braced himself stubbornly, and added: "I want to see the
Barneses. I haven't any desire to go home."
"Well, I haven't any desire to go to the Barneses."
Suddenly they stared at each other.
"Why, Anthony," she said with annoyance, "this is Sunday night and they
probably have guests for supper. Why we should go in at this hour--"
"Then why couldn't we have stayed at the Merriams'?" he burst out. "Why
go home when we were having a perfectly decent time? They asked us
"They had to. Give me the money and I'll get the railroad tickets."
"I certainly will not! I'm in no humour for a ride in that damn hot
Gloria stamped her foot on the platform.
"Anthony, you act as if you're tight!"
"On the contrary, I'm perfectly sober."
But his voice had slipped into a husky key and she knew with certainty
that this was untrue.
"If you're sober you'll give me the money for the tickets."
But it was too late to talk to him that way. In his mind was but one
idea--that Gloria was being selfish, that she was always being selfish
and would continue to be unless here and now he asserted himself as her
master. This was the occasion of all occasions, since for a whim she had
deprived him of a pleasure. His determination solidified, approached
momentarily a dull and sullen hate.
"I won't go in the train," he said, his voice trembling a little with
anger. "We're going to the Barneses."
"I'm not!" she cried. "If you go I'm going home alone."
"Go on, then."
Without a word she turned toward the ticket office; simultaneously he
remembered that she had some money with her and that this was not the
sort of victory he wanted, the sort he must have. He took a step after
her and seized her arm.
"See here!" he muttered, "you're "not" going alone!"
"I certainly am--why, Anthony!" This exclamation as she tried to pull
away from him and he only tightened his grasp.
He looked at her with narrowed and malicious eyes.
"Let go!" Her cry had a quality of fierceness. "If you have "any"
decency you'll let go."
"Why?" He knew why. But he took a confused and not quite confident pride
in holding her there.
"I'm going home, do you understand? And you're going to let me go!"
"No, I'm not."
Her eyes were burning now.
"Are you going to make a scene here?"
"I say you're not going! I'm tired of your eternal selfishness!"
"I only want to go home." Two wrathful tears started from her eyes.
"This time you're going to do what "I" say."
Slowly her body straightened: her head went back in a gesture of
"I hate you!" Her low words were expelled like venom through her
clenched teeth. "Oh, "let" me go! Oh, I "hate" you!" She tried to jerk
herself away but he only grasped the other arm. "I hate you! I
At Gloria's fury his uncertainty returned, but he felt that now he had
gone too far to give in. It seemed that he had always given in and that
in her heart she had despised him for it. Ah, she might hate him now,
but afterward she would admire him for his dominance.
The approaching train gave out a premonitory siren that tumbled
melodramatically toward them down the glistening blue tracks. Gloria
tugged and strained to free herself, and words older than the Book of
Genesis came to her lips.
"Oh, you brute!" she sobbed. "Oh, you brute! Oh, I hate you! Oh, you
On the station platform other prospective passengers were beginning to
turn and stare; the drone of the train was audible, it increased to a
clamor. Gloria's efforts redoubled, then ceased altogether, and she
stood there trembling and hot-eyed at this helpless humiliation, as the
engine roared and thundered into the station.
Low, below the flood of steam and the grinding of the brakes came her
"Oh, if there was one "man" here you couldn't do this! You couldn't do
this! You coward! You coward, oh, you coward!"
Anthony, silent, trembling himself, gripped her rigidly, aware that
faces, dozens of them, curiously unmoved, shadows of a dream, were
regarding him. Then the bells distilled metallic crashes that were like
physical pain, the smoke-stacks volleyed in slow acceleration at the
sky, and in a moment of noise and gray gaseous turbulence the line of
faces ran by, moved off, became indistinct--until suddenly there was
only the sun slanting east across the tracks and a volume of sound
decreasing far off like a train made out of tin thunder. He dropped her
arms. He had won.
Now, if he wished, he might laugh. The test was done and he had
sustained his will with violence. Let leniency walk in the wake
"We'll hire a car here and drive back to Marietta," he said with fine
For answer Gloria seized his hand with both of hers and raising it to
her mouth bit deeply into his thumb. He scarcely noticed the pain;
seeing the blood spurt he absent-mindedly drew out his handkerchief and
wrapped the wound. That too was part of the triumph he supposed--it was
inevitable that defeat should thus be resented--and as such was
She was sobbing, almost without tears, profoundly and bitterly.
"I won't go! I won't go! You--can't--make--me--go! You've--you've killed
any love I ever had for you, and any respect. But all that's left in me
would die before I'd move from this place. Oh, if I'd thought "you'd"
lay your hands on me--"
"You're going with me," he said brutally, "if I have to carry you."
He turned, beckoned to a taxicab, told the driver to go to Marietta. The
man dismounted and swung the door open. Anthony faced his wife and said
between his clenched teeth:
"Will you get in?--or will I "put" you in?"
With a subdued cry of infinite pain and despair she yielded herself up
and got into the car.
All the long ride, through the increasing dark of twilight, she sat
huddled in her side of the car, her silence broken by an occasional dry
and solitary sob. Anthony stared out the window, his mind working dully
on the slowly changing significance of what had occurred. Something was
wrong--that last cry of Gloria's had struck a chord which echoed
posthumously and with incongruous disquiet in his heart. He must be
right--yet, she seemed such a pathetic little thing now, broken and
dispirited, humiliated beyond the measure of her lot to bear. The
sleeves of her dress were torn; her parasol was gone, forgotten on the
platform. It was a new costume, he remembered, and she had been so proud
of it that very morning when they had left the house.... He began
wondering if any one they knew had seen the incident. And persistently
there recurred to him her cry:
"All that's left in me would die--"
This gave him a confused and increasing worry. It fitted so well with
the Gloria who lay in the corner--no longer a proud Gloria, nor any
Gloria he had known. He asked himself if it were possible. While he did
not believe she would cease to love him--this, of course, was
unthinkable--it was yet problematical whether Gloria without her
arrogance, her independence, her virginal confidence and courage, would
be the girl of his glory, the radiant woman who was precious and
charming because she was ineffably, triumphantly herself.
He was very drunk even then, so drunk as not to realize his own
drunkenness. When they reached the gray house he went to his own room
and, his mind still wrestling helplessly and sombrely with what he had
done, fell into a deep stupor on his bed.
It was after one o'clock and the hall seemed extraordinarily quiet when
Gloria, wide-eyed and sleepless, traversed it and pushed open the door
of his room. He had been too befuddled to open the windows and the air
was stale and thick with whiskey. She stood for a moment by his bed, a
slender, exquisitely graceful figure in her boyish silk pajamas--then
with abandon she flung herself upon him, half waking him in the frantic
emotion of her embrace, dropping her warm tears upon his throat.
"Oh, Anthony!" she cried passionately, "oh, my darling, you don't know
what you did!"
Yet in the morning, coming early into her room, he knelt down by her bed
and cried like a little boy, as though it was his heart that had
"It seemed, last night," she said gravely, her fingers playing in his
hair, "that all the part of me you loved, the part that was worth
knowing, all the pride and fire, was gone. I knew that what was left of
me would always love you, but never in quite the same way."
Nevertheless, she was aware even then that she would forget in time and
that it is the manner of life seldom to strike but always to wear away.
After that morning the incident was never mentioned and its deep wound
healed with Anthony's hand--and if there was triumph some darker force
than theirs possessed it, possessed the knowledge and the victory.
Gloria's independence, like all sincere and profound qualities, had
begun unconsciously, but, once brought to her attention by Anthony's
fascinated discovery of it, it assumed more nearly the proportions of a
formal code. From her conversation it might be assumed that all her
energy and vitality went into a violent affirmation of the negative
principle "Never give a damn."
"Not for anything or anybody," she said, "except myself and, by
implication, for Anthony. That's the rule of all life and if it weren't
I'd be that way anyhow. Nobody'd do anything for me if it didn't gratify
them to, and I'd do as little for them."
She was on the front porch of the nicest lady in Marietta when she said
this, and as she finished she gave a curious little cry and sank in a
dead faint to the porch floor.
The lady brought her to and drove her home in her car. It had occurred
to the estimable Gloria that she was probably with child.
She lay upon the long lounge down-stairs. Day was slipping warmly out
the window, touching the late roses on the porch pillars.
"All I think of ever is that I love you," she wailed. "I value my body
because you think it's beautiful. And this body of mine--of yours--to
have it grow ugly and shapeless? It's simply intolerable. Oh, Anthony,
I'm not afraid of the pain."
He consoled her desperately--but in vain. She continued:
"And then afterward I might have wide hips and be pale, with all my
freshness gone and no radiance in my hair."
He paced the floor with his hands in his pockets, asking:
"Is it certain?"
"I don't know anything. I've always hated obstrics, or whatever you call
them. I thought I'd have a child some time. But not now."
"Well, for God's sake don't lie there and go to pieces."
Her sobs lapsed. She drew down a merciful silence from the twilight
which filled the room. "Turn on the lights," she pleaded. "These days
seem so short--June seemed--to--have--longer days when I was a
The lights snapped on and it was as though blue drapes of softest silk
had been dropped behind the windows and the door. Her pallor, her
immobility, without grief now, or joy, awoke his sympathy.
"Do you want me to have it?" she asked listlessly.
"I'm indifferent. That is, I'm neutral. If you have it I'll probably be
glad. If you don't--well, that's all right too."
"I wish you'd make up your mind one way or the other!"
"Suppose you make up "your" mind."
She looked at him contemptuously, scorning to answer.
"You'd think you'd been singled out of all the women in the world for
this crowning indignity."
"What if I do!" she cried angrily. "It isn't an indignity for them. It's
their one excuse for living. It's the one thing they're good for. It
"is" an indignity for "me."
"See here, Gloria, I'm with you whatever you do, but for God's sake be a
sport about it."
"Oh, don't "fuss" at me!" she wailed.
They exchanged a mute look of no particular significance but of much
stress. Then Anthony took a book from the shelf and dropped into
Half an hour later her voice came out of the intense stillness that
pervaded the room and hung like incense on the air.
"I'll drive over and see Constance Merriam to-morrow."
"All right. And I'll go to Tarrytown and see Grampa."
"--You see," she added, "it isn't that I'm afraid--of this or anything
else. I'm being true to me, you know."
"I know," he agreed.
THE PRACTICAL MEN
Adam Patch, in a pious rage against the Germans, subsisted on the war
news. Pin maps plastered his walls; atlases were piled deep on tables
convenient to his hand together with "Photographic Histories of the
World War," official Explain-alls, and the "Personal Impressions" of war
correspondents and of Privates X, Y, and Z. Several times during
Anthony's visit his grandfather's secretary, Edward Shuttleworth, the
one-time "Accomplished Gin-physician" of "Pat's Place" in Hoboken, now
shod with righteous indignation, would appear with an extra. The old man
attacked each paper with untiring fury, tearing out those columns which
appeared to him of sufficient pregnancy for preservation and thrusting
them into one of his already bulging files.
"Well, what have you been doing?" he asked Anthony blandly. "Nothing?
Well, I thought so. I've been intending to drive over and see you,
"I've been writing. Don't you remember the essay I sent you--the one I
sold to The Florentine last winter?"
"Essay? You never sent "me" any essay."
"Oh, yes, I did. We talked about it."
Adam Patch shook his head mildly.
"Oh, no. You never sent "me" any essay. You may have thought you sent it
but it never reached me."
"Why, you read it, Grampa," insisted Anthony, somewhat exasperated, "you
read it and disagreed with it."
The old man suddenly remembered, but this was made apparent only by a
partial falling open of his mouth, displaying rows of gray gums. Eying
Anthony with a green and ancient stare he hesitated between confessing
his error and covering it up.
"So you're writing," he said quickly. "Well, why don't you go over and
write about these Germans? Write something real, something about what's
going on, something people can read."
"Anybody can't be a war correspondent," objected Anthony. "You have to
have some newspaper willing to buy your stuff. And I can't spare the
money to go over as a free-lance."
"I'll send you over," suggested his grandfather surprisingly. "I'll get
you over as an authorized correspondent of any newspaper you pick out."
Anthony recoiled from the idea--almost simultaneously he bounded toward
He would have to leave Gloria, whose whole life yearned toward him and
enfolded him. Gloria was in trouble. Oh, the thing wasn't
feasible--yet--he saw himself in khaki, leaning, as all war
correspondents lean, upon a heavy stick, portfolio at shoulder--trying
to look like an Englishman. "I'd like to think it over," he, confessed.
"It's certainly very kind of you. I'll think it over and I'll let
Thinking it over absorbed him on the journey to New York. He had had one
of those sudden flashes of illumination vouchsafed to all men who are
dominated by a strong and beloved woman, which show them a world of
harder men, more fiercely trained and grappling with the abstractions of
thought and war. In that world the arms of Gloria would exist only as
the hot embrace of a chance mistress, coolly sought and quickly
These unfamiliar phantoms were crowding closely about him when he
boarded his train for Marietta, in the Grand Central Station. The car
was crowded; he secured the last vacant seat and it was only after
several minutes that he gave even a casual glance to the man beside him.
When he did he saw a heavy lay of jaw and nose, a curved chin and small,
puffed-under eyes. In a moment he recognized Joseph Bloeckman.
Simultaneously they both half rose, were half embarrassed, and exchanged
what amounted to a half handshake. Then, as though to complete the
matter, they both half laughed.
"Well," remarked Anthony without inspiration, "I haven't seen you for a
long time." Immediately he regretted his words and started to add: "I
didn't know you lived out this way." But Bloeckman anticipated him by
"How's your wife? ..."
"She's very well. How've you been?"
"Excellent." His tone amplified the grandeur of the word.
It seemed to Anthony that during the last year Bloeckman had grown
tremendously in dignity. The boiled look was gone, he seemed "done" at
last. In addition he was no longer overdressed. The inappropriate
facetiousness he had affected in ties had given way to a sturdy dark
pattern, and his right hand, which had formerly displayed two heavy
rings, was now innocent of ornament and even without the raw glow of
This dignity appeared also in his personality. The last aura of the
successful travelling-man had faded from him, that deliberate
ingratiation of which the lowest form is the bawdy joke in the Pullman
smoker. One imagined that, having been fawned upon financially, he had
attained aloofness; having been snubbed socially, he had acquired
reticence. But whatever had given him weight instead of bulk, Anthony no
longer felt a correct superiority in his presence.
"D'you remember Caramel, Richard Caramel? I believe you met him one
"I remember. He was writing a book."
"Well, he sold it to the movies. Then they had some scenario man named
Jordan work on it. Well, Dick subscribes to a clipping bureau and he's
furious because about half the movie reviewers speak of the 'power and
strength of William Jordan's "Demon Lover."' Didn't mention old Dick at
all. You'd think this fellow Jordan had actually conceived and developed
Bloeckman nodded comprehensively.
"Most of the contracts state that the original writer's name goes into
all the paid publicity. Is Caramel still writing?"
"Oh, yes. Writing hard. Short stories."
"Well, that's fine, that's fine.... You on this train often?"
"About once a week. We live in Marietta."
"Is that so? Well, well! I live near Cos Cob myself. Bought a place
there only recently. We're only five miles apart."
"You'll have to come and see us." Anthony was surprised at his own
courtesy. "I'm sure Gloria'd be delighted to see an old friend.
Anybody'll tell you where the house is--it's our second season there."
"Thank you." Then, as though returning a complementary politeness: "How
is your grandfather?"
"He's been well. I had lunch with him to-day."
"A great character," said Bloeckman severely. "A fine example of an
THE TRIUMPH OF LETHARGY
Anthony found his wife deep in the porch hammock voluptuously engaged
with a lemonade and a tomato sandwich and carrying on an apparently
cheery conversation with Tana upon one of Tana's complicated themes.
"In my countree," Anthony recognized his invariable preface, "all
time--peoples--eat rice--because haven't got. Cannot eat what no have
got." Had his nationality not been desperately apparent one would have
thought he had acquired his knowledge of his native land from American
When the Oriental had been squelched and dismissed to the kitchen,
Anthony turned questioningly to Gloria:
"It's all right," she announced, smiling broadly. "And it surprised me
more than it does you."
"There's no doubt?"
"None! Couldn't be!"
They rejoiced happily, gay again with reborn irresponsibility. Then he
told her of his opportunity to go abroad, and that he was almost ashamed
to reject it.
"What do "you" think? Just tell me frankly."
"Why, Anthony!" Her eyes were startled. "Do you want to go? Without me?"
His face fell--yet he knew, with his wife's question, that it was too
late. Her arms, sweet and strangling, were around him, for he had made
all such choices back in that room in the Plaza the year before. This
was an anachronism from an age of such dreams.
"Gloria," he lied, in a great burst of comprehension, "of course I
don't. I was thinking you might go as a nurse or something." He wondered
dully if his grandfather would consider this.
As she smiled he realized again how beautiful she was, a gorgeous girl
of miraculous freshness and sheerly honorable eyes. She embraced his
suggestion with luxurious intensity, holding it aloft like a sun of her
own making and basking in its beams. She strung together an amazing
synopsis for an extravaganza of martial adventure.
After supper, surfeited with the subject, she yawned. She wanted not to
talk but only to read "Penrod," stretched upon the lounge until at
midnight she fell asleep. But Anthony, after he had carried her
romantically up the stairs, stayed awake to brood upon the day, vaguely
angry with her, vaguely dissatisfied.
"What am I going to do?" he began at breakfast. "Here we've been married
a year and we've just worried around without even being efficient people
"Yes, you ought to do something," she admitted, being in an agreeable
and loquacious humor. This was not the first of these discussions, but
as they usually developed Anthony in the rôle of protagonist, she had
come to avoid them.
"It's not that I have any moral compunctions about work," he continued,
"but grampa may die to-morrow and he may live for ten years. Meanwhile
we're living above our income and all we've got to show for it is a
farmer's car and a few clothes. We keep an apartment that we've only
lived in three months and a little old house way off in nowhere. We're
frequently bored and yet we won't make any effort to know any one except
the same crowd who drift around California all summer wearing sport
clothes and waiting for their families to die."
"How you've changed!" remarked Gloria. "Once you told me you didn't see
why an American couldn't loaf gracefully."
"Well, damn it, I wasn't married. And the old mind was working at top
speed and now it's going round and round like a cog-wheel with nothing
to catch it. As a matter of fact I think that if I hadn't met you I
"would" have done something. But you make leisure so subtly
"Oh, it's all my fault--"
"I didn't mean that, and you know I didn't. But here I'm almost
"Oh," she interrupted in vexation, "you make me tired! Talking as though
I were objecting or hindering you!"
"I was just discussing it, Gloria. Can't I discuss--"
"I should think you'd be strong enough to settle--"
"--something with you without--"
"--your own problems without coming to me. You "talk" a lot about going
to work. I could use more money very easily, but "I'm" not complaining.
Whether you work or not I love you." Her last words were gentle as fine
snow upon hard ground. But for the moment neither was attending to the
other--they were each engaged in polishing and perfecting his
"I have worked--some." This by Anthony was an imprudent bringing up of
raw reserves. Gloria laughed, torn between delight and derision; she
resented his sophistry as at the same time she admired his nonchalance.
She would never blame him for being the ineffectual idler so long as he
did it sincerely, from the attitude that nothing much was worth doing.
"Work!" she scoffed. "Oh, you sad bird! You bluffer! Work--that means a
great arranging of the desk and the lights, a great sharpening of
pencils, and 'Gloria, don't sing!' and 'Please keep that damn Tana away
from me,' and 'Let me read you my opening sentence,' and 'I won't be
through for a long time, Gloria, so don't stay up for me,' and a
tremendous consumption of tea or coffee. And that's all. In just about
an hour I hear the old pencil stop scratching and look over. You've got
out a book and you're 'looking up' something. Then you're reading. Then
yawns--then bed and a great tossing about because you're all full of
caffeine and can't sleep. Two weeks later the whole performance
With much difficulty Anthony retained a scanty breech-clout of dignity.
"Now that's a "slight" exaggeration. You know "darn well" I sold an
essay to The Florentine--and it attracted a lot of attention considering
the circulation of The Florentine. And what's more, Gloria, you know I
sat up till five o'clock in the morning finishing it."
She lapsed into silence, giving him rope. And if he had not hanged
himself he had certainly come to the end of it.
"At least," he concluded feebly, "I'm perfectly willing to be a war
But so was Gloria. They were both willing--anxious; they assured each
other of it. The evening ended on a note of tremendous sentiment, the
majesty of leisure, the ill health of Adam Patch, love at any cost.
"Anthony!" she called over the banister one afternoon a week later,
"there's some one at the door." Anthony, who had been lolling in the
hammock on the sun-speckled south porch, strolled around to the front of
the house. A foreign car, large and impressive, crouched like an immense
and saturnine bug at the foot of the path. A man in a soft pongee suit,
with cap to match, hailed him.
"Hello there, Patch. Ran over to call on you."
It was Bloeckman; as always, infinitesimally improved, of subtler
intonation, of more convincing ease.
"I'm awfully glad you did." Anthony raised his voice to a vine-covered
window: "Glor-i-"a"! We've got a visitor!"
"I'm in the tub," wailed Gloria politely.
With a smile the two men acknowledged the triumph of her alibi.
"She'll be down. Come round here on the side-porch. Like a drink?
Gloria's always in the tub--good third of every day."
"Pity she doesn't live on the Sound."
"Can't afford it."
As coming from Adam Patch's grandson, Bloeckman took this as a form of
pleasantry. After fifteen minutes filled with estimable brilliancies,
Gloria appeared, fresh in starched yellow, bringing atmosphere and an
increase of vitality.
"I want to be a successful sensation in the movies," she announced. "I
hear that Mary Pickford makes a million dollars annually."
"You could, you know," said Bloeckman. "I think you'd film very well."
"Would you let me, Anthony? If I only play unsophisticated rôles?"
As the conversation continued in stilted commas, Anthony wondered that
to him and Bloeckman both this girl had once been the most stimulating,
the most tonic personality they had ever known--and now the three sat
like overoiled machines, without conflict, without fear, without
elation, heavily enamelled little figures secure beyond enjoyment in a
world where death and war, dull emotion and noble savagery were covering
a continent with the smoke of terror.
In a moment he would call Tana and they would pour into themselves a gay
and delicate poison which would restore them momentarily to the
pleasurable excitement of childhood, when every face in a crowd had
carried its suggestion of splendid and significant transactions taking
place somewhere to some magnificent and illimitable purpose.... Life was
no more than this summer afternoon; a faint wind stirring the lace
collar of Gloria's dress; the slow baking drowsiness of the veranda....
Intolerably unmoved they all seemed, removed from any romantic imminency
of action. Even Gloria's beauty needed wild emotions, needed poignancy,
"... Any day next week," Bloeckman was saying to Gloria. "Here--take
this card. What they do is to give you a test of about three hundred
feet of film, and they can tell pretty accurately from that."
"How about Wednesday?"
"Wednesday's fine. Just phone me and I'll go around with you--"
He was on his feet, shaking hands briskly--then his car was a wraith of
dust down the road. Anthony turned to his wife in bewilderment.
"You don't mind if I have a trial, Anthony. Just a trial? I've got to go
to town Wednesday, "any"how."
"But it's so silly! You don't want to go into the movies--moon around a
studio all day with a lot of cheap chorus people."
"Lot of mooning around Mary Pickford does!"
"Everybody isn't a Mary Pickford."
"Well, I can't see how you'd object to my "try"ing."
"I do, though. I hate actors."
"Oh, you make me tired. Do you imagine I have a very thrilling time
dozing on this damn porch?"
"You wouldn't mind if you loved me."
"Of course I love you," she said impatiently, making out a quick case
for herself. "It's just because I do that I hate to see you go to pieces
by just lying around and saying you ought to work. Perhaps if I "did" go
into this for a while it'd stir you up so you'd do something."
"It's just your craving for excitement, that's all it is."
"Maybe it is! It's a perfectly natural craving, isn't it?"
"Well, I'll tell you one thing. If you go to the movies I'm going to
"Well, go on then! "I'm" not stopping you!"
To show she was not stopping him she melted into melancholy tears.
Together they marshalled the armies of sentiment--words, kisses,
endearments, self-reproaches. They attained nothing. Inevitably they
attained nothing. Finally, in a burst of gargantuan emotion each of them
sat down and wrote a letter. Anthony's was to his grandfather; Gloria's
was to Joseph Bloeckman. It was a triumph of lethargy.
One day early in July Anthony, returned from an afternoon in New York,
called up-stairs to Gloria. Receiving no answer he guessed she was
asleep and so went into the pantry for one of the little sandwiches that
were always prepared for them. He found Tana seated at the kitchen table
before a miscellaneous assortment of odds and ends--cigar-boxes, knives,
pencils, the tops of cans, and some scraps of paper covered with
elaborate figures and diagrams.
"What the devil you doing?" demanded Anthony curiously.
Tana politely grinned.
"I show you," he exclaimed enthusiastically. "I tell--"
"You making a dog-house?"
"No, sa." Tana grinned again. "Make typewutta."
"Yes, sa. I think, oh all time I think, lie in bed think 'bout
"So you thought you'd make one, eh?"
"Wait. I tell."
Anthony, munching a sandwich, leaned leisurely against the sink. Tana
opened and closed his mouth several times as though testing its capacity
for action. Then with a rush he began:
"I been think--typewutta--has, oh, many many many many "thing". Oh many
many many many." "Many keys. I see."
"No-o? "Yes"-key! Many many many many lettah. Like so a-b-c."
"Yes, you're right."
"Wait. I tell." He screwed his face up in a tremendous effort to express
himself: "I been think--many words--end same. Like i-n-g."
"You bet. A whole raft of them."
"So--I make--typewutta--quick. Not so many lettah--"
"That's a great idea, Tana. Save time. You'll make a fortune. Press one
key and there's 'ing.' Hope you work it out."
Tana laughed disparagingly. "Wait. I tell--" "Where's Mrs. Patch?"
"She out. Wait, I tell--" Again he screwed up his face for action. ""My"
"Where is she?"
"Here--I make." He pointed to the miscellany of junk on the table.
"I mean Mrs. Patch."
"She out." Tana reassured him. "She be back five o'clock, she say."
"Down in the village?"
"No. Went off before lunch. She go Mr. Bloeckman."
"Went out with Mr. Bloeckman?"
"She be back five."
Without a word Anthony left the kitchen with Tana's disconsolate "I
tell" trailing after him. So this was Gloria's idea of excitement, by
God! His fists were clenched; within a moment he had worked himself up
to a tremendous pitch of indignation. He went to the door and looked
out; there was no car in sight and his watch stood at four minutes of
five. With furious energy he dashed down to the end of the path--as far
as the bend of the road a mile off he could see no car--except--but it
was a farmer's flivver. Then, in an undignified pursuit of dignity, he
rushed back to the shelter of the house as quickly as he had rushed out.
Pacing up and down the living room he began an angry rehearsal of the
speech he would make to her when she came in--
"So this is love!" he would begin--or no, it sounded too much like the
popular phrase "So this is Paris!" He must be dignified, hurt, grieved.
Anyhow--"So this is what "you" do when I have to go up and trot all day
around the hot city on business. No wonder I can't write! No wonder I
don't dare let you out of my sight!" He was expanding now, warming to
his subject. "I'll tell you," he continued, "I'll tell you--" He paused,
catching a familiar ring in the words--then he realized--it was
Tana's "I tell."
Yet Anthony neither laughed nor seemed absurd to himself. To his frantic
imagination it was already six--seven--eight, and she was never coming!
Bloeckman finding her bored and unhappy had persuaded her to go to
California with him....
--There was a great to-do out in front, a joyous "Yoho, Anthony!" and he
rose trembling, weakly happy to see her fluttering up the path.
Bloeckman was following, cap in hand.
"Dearest!" she cried.
"We've been for the best jaunt--all over New York State."
"I'll have to be starting home," said Bloeckman, almost immediately.
"Wish you'd both been here when I came."
"I'm sorry I wasn't," answered Anthony dryly. When he had departed
Anthony hesitated. The fear was gone from his heart, yet he felt that
some protest was ethically apropos. Gloria resolved his uncertainty.
"I knew you wouldn't mind. He came just before lunch and said he had to
go to Garrison on business and wouldn't I go with him. He looked so
lonesome, Anthony. And I drove his car all the way."
Listlessly Anthony dropped into a chair, his mind tired--tired with
nothing, tired with everything, with the world's weight he had never
chosen to bear. He was ineffectual and vaguely helpless here as he had
always been. One of those personalities who, in spite of all their
words, are inarticulate, he seemed to have inherited only the vast
tradition of human failure--that, and the sense of death.
"I suppose I don't care," he answered.
One must be broad about these things, and Gloria being young, being
beautiful, must have reasonable privileges. Yet it wearied him that he
failed to understand.
She rolled over on her back and lay still for a moment in the great bed
watching the February sun suffer one last attenuated refinement in its
passage through the leaded panes into the room. For a time she had no
accurate sense of her whereabouts or of the events of the day before, or
the day before that; then, like a suspended pendulum, memory began to
beat out its story, releasing with each swing a burdened quota of time
until her life was given back to her.
She could hear, now, Anthony's troubled breathing beside her; she could
smell whiskey and cigarette smoke. She noticed that she lacked complete
muscular control; when she moved it was not a sinuous motion with the
resultant strain distributed easily over her body--it was a tremendous
effort of her nervous system as though each time she were hypnotizing
herself into performing an impossible action....
She was in the bathroom, brushing her teeth to get rid of that
intolerable taste; then back by the bedside listening to the rattle of
Bounds's key in the outer door.
"Wake up, Anthony!" she said sharply.
She climbed into bed beside him and closed her eyes. Almost the last
thing she remembered was a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Lacy. Mrs.
Lacy had said, "Sure you don't want us to get you a taxi?" and Anthony
had replied that he guessed they could walk over to Fifth all right.
Then they had both attempted, imprudently, to bow--and collapsed
absurdly into a battalion of empty milk bottles just outside the door.
There must have been two dozen milk bottles standing open-mouthed in the
dark. She could conceive of no plausible explanation of those milk
bottles. Perhaps they had been attracted by the singing in the Lacy
house and had hurried over agape with wonder to see the fun. Well,
they'd had the worst of it--though it seemed that she and Anthony never
would get up, the perverse things rolled so....
Still, they had found a taxi. "My meter's broken and it'll cost you a
dollar and a half to get home," said the taxi driver. "Well," said
Anthony, "I'm young Packy McFarland and if you'll come down here I'll
beat you till you can't stand up." ...At that point the man had driven
off without them. They must have found another taxi, for they were in
"What time is it?" Anthony was sitting up in bed, staring at her with
This was obviously a rhetorical question. Gloria could think of no
reason why she should be expected to know the time.
"Golly, I feel like the devil!" muttered Anthony dispassionately.
Relaxing, he tumbled back upon his pillow. "Bring on your grim reaper!"
"Anthony, how'd we finally get home last night?"
"Oh!" Then, after a pause: "Did you put me to bed?"
"I don't know. Seems to me you put "me" to bed. What day is it?"
"Tuesday? I hope so. If it's Wednesday, I've got to start work at that
idiotic place. Supposed to be down at nine or some such ungodly hour."
"Ask Bounds," suggested Gloria feebly.
"Bounds!" he called.
Sprightly, sober--a voice from a world that it seemed in the past two
days they had left forever, Bounds sprang in short steps down the hall
and appeared in the half darkness of the door.
"What day, Bounds?"
"February the twenty-second, I think, sir."
"I mean day of the week."
"Tuesday, sir." "Thanks." After a pause: "Are you ready for breakfast,
"Yes, and Bounds, before you get it, will you make a pitcher of water,
and set it here beside the bed? I'm a little thirsty."
Bounds retreated in sober dignity down the hallway.
"Lincoln's birthday," affirmed Anthony without enthusiasm, "or St.
Valentine's or somebody's. When did we start on this insane party?"
"After prayers?" he suggested sardonically.
"We raced all over town in those hansoms and Maury sat up with his
driver, don't you remember? Then we came home and he tried to cook some
bacon--came out of the pantry with a few blackened remains, insisting it
was 'fried to the proverbial crisp.'"
Both of them laughed, spontaneously but with some difficulty, and lying
there side by side reviewed the chain of events that had ended in this
rusty and chaotic dawn.
They had been in New York for almost four months, since the country had
grown too cool in late October. They had given up California this year,
partly because of lack of funds, partly with the idea of going abroad
should this interminable war, persisting now into its second year, end
during the winter. Of late their income had lost elasticity; no longer
did it stretch to cover gay whims and pleasant extravagances, and
Anthony had spent many puzzled and unsatisfactory hours over a densely
figured pad, making remarkable budgets that left huge margins for
"amusements, trips, etc.," and trying to apportion, even approximately,
their past expenditures.
He remembered a time when in going on a "party" with his two best
friends, he and Maury had invariably paid more than their share of the
expenses. They would buy the tickets for the theatre or squabble between
themselves for the dinner check. It had seemed fitting; Dick, with his
naïveté and his astonishing fund of information about himself, had been
a diverting, almost juvenile, figure--court jester to their royalty. But
this was no longer true. It was Dick who always had money; it was
Anthony who entertained within limitations--always excepting occasional
wild, wine-inspired, check-cashing parties--and it was Anthony who was
solemn about it next morning and told the scornful and disgusted Gloria
that they'd have to be "more careful next time."
In the two years since the publication of "The Demon Lover," Dick had
made over twenty-five thousand dollars, most of it lately, when the
reward of the author of fiction had begun to swell unprecedentedly as a
result of the voracious hunger of the motion pictures for plots. He
received seven hundred dollars for every story, at that time a large
emolument for such a young man--he was not quite thirty--and for every
one that contained enough "action" (kissing, shooting, and sacrificing)
for the movies, he obtained an additional thousand. His stories varied;
there was a measure of vitality and a sort of instinctive in all of
them, but none attained the personality of "The Demon Lover," and there
were several that Anthony considered downright cheap. These, Dick
explained severely, were to widen his audience. Wasn't it true that men
who had attained real permanence from Shakespeare to Mark Twain had
appealed to the many as well as to the elect?
Though Anthony and Maury disagreed, Gloria told him to go ahead and make
as much money as he could--that was the only thing that counted
Maury, a little stouter, faintly mellower, and more complaisant, had
gone to work in Philadelphia. He came to New York once or twice a month
and on such occasions the four of them travelled the popular routes from
dinner to the theatre, thence to the Frolic or, perhaps, at the urging
of the ever-curious Gloria, to one of the cellars of Greenwich Village,
notorious through the furious but short-lived vogue of the "new poetry
In January, after many monologues directed at his reticent wife, Anthony
determined to "get something to do," for the winter at any rate. He
wanted to please his grandfather and even, in a measure, to see how he
liked it himself. He discovered during several tentative semi-social
calls that employers were not interested in a young man who was only
going to "try it for a few months or so." As the grandson of Adam Patch
he was received everywhere with marked courtesy, but the old man was a
back number now--the heyday of his fame as first an "oppressor" and then
an uplifter of the people had been during the twenty years preceding his
retirement. Anthony even found several of the younger men who were under
the impression that Adam Patch had been dead for some years.
Eventually Anthony went to his grandfather and asked his advice, which
turned out to be that he should enter the bond business as a salesman, a
tedious suggestion to Anthony, but one that in the end he determined to
follow. Sheer money in deft manipulation had fascinations under all
circumstances, while almost any side of manufacturing would be
insufferably dull. He considered newspaper work but decided that the
hours were not ordered for a married man. And he lingered over pleasant
fancies of himself either as editor of a brilliant weekly of opinion, an
American Mercure de France, or as scintillant producer of satiric comedy
and Parisian musical revue. However, the approaches to these latter
guilds seemed to be guarded by professional secrets. Men drifted into
them by the devious highways of writing and acting. It was palpably
impossible to get on a magazine unless you had been on one before.
So in the end he entered, by way of his grandfather's letter, that
Sanctum Americanum where sat the president of Wilson, Hiemer and Hardy
at his "cleared desk," and issued therefrom employed. He was to begin
work on the twenty-third of February.
In tribute to the momentous occasion this two-day revel had been
planned, since, he said, after he began working he'd have to get to bed
early during the week. Maury Noble had arrived from Philadelphia on a
trip that had to do with seeing some man in Wall Street (whom,
incidentally, he failed to see), and Richard Caramel had been half
persuaded, half tricked into joining them. They had condescended to a
wet and fashionable wedding on Monday afternoon, and in the evening had
occurred the dénouement: Gloria, going beyond her accustomed limit of
four precisely timed cocktails, led them on as gay and joyous a
bacchanal as they had ever known, disclosing an astonishing knowledge of
ballet steps, and singing songs which she confessed had been taught her
by her cook when she was innocent and seventeen. She repeated these by
request at intervals throughout the evening with such frank conviviality
that Anthony, far from being annoyed, was gratified at this fresh source
of entertainment. The occasion was memorable in other ways--a long
conversation between Maury and a defunct crab, which he was dragging
around on the end of a string, as to whether the crab was fully
conversant with the applications of the binomial theorem, and the
aforementioned race in two hansom cabs with the sedate and impressive
shadows of Fifth Avenue for audience, ending in a labyrinthine escape
into the darkness of Central Park. Finally Anthony and Gloria had paid a
call on some wild young married people--the Lacys--and collapsed in the
empty milk bottles.
Morning now--theirs to add up the checks cashed here and there in clubs,
stores, restaurants. Theirs to air the dank staleness of wine and
cigarettes out of the tall blue front room, to pick up the broken glass
and brush at the stained fabric of chairs and sofas; to give Bounds
suits and dresses for the cleaners; finally, to take their smothery
half-feverish bodies and faded depressed spirits out into the chill air
of February, that life might go on and Wilson, Hiemer and Hardy obtain
the services of a vigorous man at nine next morning.
"Do you remember," called Anthony from the bathroom, "when Maury got out
at the corner of One Hundred and Tenth Street and acted as a traffic
cop, beckoning cars forward and motioning them back? They must have
thought he was a private detective."
After each reminiscence they both laughed inordinately, their
overwrought nerves responding as acutely and janglingly to mirth as to
Gloria at the mirror was wondering at the splendid color and freshness
of her face--it seemed that she had never looked so well, though her
stomach hurt her and her head was aching furiously.
The day passed slowly. Anthony, riding in a taxi to his broker's to
borrow money on a bond, found that he had only two dollars in his
pocket. The fare would cost all of that, but he felt that on this
particular afternoon he could not have endured the subway. When the
taximetre reached his limit he must get out and walk.
With this his mind drifted off into one of its characteristic
day-dreams.... In this dream he discovered that the metre was going too
fast--the driver had dishonestly adjusted it. Calmly he reached his
destination and then nonchalantly handed the man what he justly owed
him. The man showed fight, but almost before his hands were up Anthony
had knocked him down with one terrific blow. And when he rose Anthony
quickly sidestepped and floored him definitely with a crack in
... He was in court now. The judge had fined him five dollars and he had
no money. Would the court take his check? Ah, but the court did not know
him. Well, he could identify himself by having them call his apartment.
... They did so. Yes, it was Mrs. Anthony Patch speaking--but how did
she know that this man was her husband? How could she know? Let the
police sergeant ask her if she remembered the milk bottles ...
He leaned forward hurriedly and tapped at the glass. The taxi was only
at Brooklyn Bridge, but the metre showed a dollar and eighty cents, and
Anthony would never have omitted the ten per cent tip.
Later in the afternoon he returned to the apartment. Gloria had also
been out--shopping--and was asleep, curled in a corner of the sofa with
her purchase locked securely in her arms. Her face was as untroubled as
a little girl's, and the bundle that she pressed tightly to her bosom
was a child's doll, a profound and infinitely healing balm to her
disturbed and childish heart.
It was with this party, more especially with Gloria's part in it, that a
decided change began to come over their way of living. The magnificent
attitude of not giving a damn altered overnight; from being a mere tenet
of Gloria's it became the entire solace and justification for what they
chose to do and what consequence it brought. Not to be sorry, not to
loose one cry of regret, to live according to a clear code of honor
toward each other, and to seek the moment's happiness as fervently and
persistently as possible.
"No one cares about us but ourselves, Anthony," she said one day. "It'd
be ridiculous for me to go about pretending I felt any obligations
toward the world, and as for worrying what people think about me, I
simply "don't", that's all. Since I was a little girl in dancing-school
I've been criticised by the mothers of all the little girls who weren't
as popular as I was, and I've always looked on criticism as a sort of
This was because of a party in the "Boul' Mich'" one night, where
Constance Merriam had seen her as one of a highly stimulated party of
four. Constance Merriam, "as an old school friend," had gone to the
trouble of inviting her to lunch next day in order to inform her how
terrible it was.
"I told her I couldn't see it," Gloria told Anthony. "Eric Merriam is a
sort of sublimated Percy Wolcott--you remember that man in Hot Springs I
told you about--his idea of respecting Constance is to leave her at home
with her sewing and her baby and her book, and such innocuous
amusements, whenever he's going on a party that promises to be anything
but deathly dull."
"Did you tell her that?"
"I certainly did. And I told her that what she really objected to was
that I was having a better time than she was."
Anthony applauded her. He was tremendously proud of Gloria, proud that
she never failed to eclipse whatever other women might be in the party,
proud that men were always glad to revel with her in great rowdy groups,
without any attempt to do more than enjoy her beauty and the warmth of
These "parties" gradually became their chief source of entertainment.
Still in love, still enormously interested in each other, they yet found
as spring drew near that staying at home in the evening palled on them;
books were unreal; the old magic of being alone had long since
vanished--instead they preferred to be bored by a stupid musical comedy,
or to go to dinner with the most uninteresting of their acquaintances,
so long as there would be enough cocktails to keep the conversation from
becoming utterly intolerable. A scattering of younger married people who
had been their friends in school or college, as well as a varied
assortment of single men, began to think instinctively of them whenever
color and excitement were needed, so there was scarcely a day without
its phone call, its "Wondered what you were doing this evening." Wives,
as a rule, were afraid of Gloria--her facile attainment of the centre of
the stage, her innocent but nevertheless disturbing way of becoming a
favorite with husbands--these things drove them instinctively into an
attitude of profound distrust, heightened by the fact that Gloria was
largely unresponsive to any intimacy shown her by a woman.
On the appointed Wednesday in February Anthony had gone to the imposing
offices of Wilson, Hiemer and Hardy and listened to many vague
instructions delivered by an energetic young man of about his own age,
named Kahler, who wore a defiant yellow pompadour, and in announcing
himself as an assistant secretary gave the impression that it was a
tribute to exceptional ability.
"There's two kinds of men here, you'll find," he said. "There's the man
who gets to be an assistant secretary or treasurer, gets his name on our
folder here, before he's thirty, and there's the man who gets his name
there at forty-five. The man who gets his name there at forty-five stays
there the rest of his life."
"How about the man who gets it there at thirty?" inquired Anthony
"Why, he gets up here, you see." He pointed to a list of assistant
vice-presidents upon the folder. "Or maybe he gets to be president or
secretary or treasurer."
"And what about these over here?"
"Those? Oh, those are the trustees--the men with capital."
"Now some people," continued Kahler, "think that whether a man gets
started early or late depends on whether he's got a college education.
But they're wrong."
"I had one; I was Buckleigh, class of nineteen-eleven, but when I came
down to the Street I soon found that the things that would help me here
weren't the fancy things I learned in college. In fact, I had to get a
lot of fancy stuff out of my head."
Anthony could not help wondering what possible "fancy stuff" he had
learned at Buckleigh in nineteen-eleven. An irrepressible idea that it
was some sort of needlework recurred to him throughout the rest of the
"See that fellow over there?" Kahler pointed to a youngish-looking man
with handsome gray hair, sitting at a desk inside a mahogany railing.
"That's Mr. Ellinger, the first vice-president. Been everywhere, seen
everything; got a fine education."
In vain did Anthony try to open his mind to the romance of finance; he
could think of Mr. Ellinger only as one of the buyers of the handsome
leather sets of Thackeray, Balzac, Hugo, and Gibbon that lined the walls
of the big bookstores.
Through the damp and uninspiring month of March he was prepared for
salesmanship. Lacking enthusiasm he was capable of viewing the turmoil
and bustle that surrounded him only as a fruitless circumambient
striving toward an incomprehensible goal, tangibly evidenced only by the
rival mansions of Mr. Frick and Mr. Carnegie on Fifth Avenue. That these
portentous vice-presidents and trustees should be actually the fathers
of the "best men" he had known at Harvard seemed to him incongruous.
He ate in an employees' lunch-room up-stairs with an uneasy suspicion
that he was being uplifted, wondering through that first week if the
dozens of young clerks, some of them alert and immaculate, and just out
of college, lived in flamboyant hope of crowding onto that narrow slip
of cardboard before the catastrophic thirties. The conversation that
interwove with the pattern of the day's work was all much of a piece.
One discussed how Mr. Wilson had made his money, what method Mr. Hiemer
had employed, and the means resorted to by Mr. Hardy. One related
age-old but eternally breathless anecdotes of the fortunes stumbled on
precipitously in the Street by a "butcher" or a "bartender," or "a darn
"mess"enger boy, by golly!" and then one talked of the current gambles,
and whether it was best to go out for a hundred thousand a year or be
content with twenty. During the preceding year one of the assistant
secretaries had invested all his savings in Bethlehem Steel. The story
of his spectacular magnificence, of his haughty resignation in January,
and of the triumphal palace he was now building in California, was the
favorite office subject. The man's very name had acquired a magic
significance, symbolizing as he did the aspirations of all good
Americans. Anecdotes were told about him--how one of the vice-presidents
had advised him to sell, by golly, but he had hung on, even bought on
margin, "and "now" look where he is!"
Such, obviously, was the stuff of life--a dizzy triumph dazzling the
eyes of all of them, a gypsy siren to content them with meagre wage and
with the arithmetical improbability of their eventual success.
To Anthony the notion became appalling. He felt that to succeed here the
idea of success must grasp and limit his mind. It seemed to him that the
essential element in these men at the top was their faith that their
affairs were the very core of life. All other things being equal,
self-assurance and opportunism won out over technical knowledge; it was
obvious that the more expert work went on near the bottom--so, with
appropriate efficiency, the technical experts were kept there.
His determination to stay in at night during the week did not survive,
and a good half of the time he came to work with a splitting, sickish
headache and the crowded horror of the morning subway ringing in his
ears like an echo of hell.
Then, abruptly, he quit. He had remained in bed all one Monday, and late
in the evening, overcome by one of those attacks of moody despair to
which he periodically succumbed, he wrote and mailed a letter to Mr.
Wilson, confessing that he considered himself ill adapted to the work.
Gloria, coming in from the theatre with Richard Caramel, found him on
the lounge, silently staring at the high ceiling, more depressed and
discouraged than he had been at any time since their marriage.
She wanted him to whine. If he had she would have reproached him
bitterly, for she was not a little annoyed, but he only lay there so
utterly miserable that she felt sorry for him, and kneeling down she
stroked his head, saying how little it mattered, how little anything
mattered so long as they loved each other. It was like their first year,
and Anthony, reacting to her cool hand, to her voice that was soft as
breath itself upon his ear, became almost cheerful, and talked with her
of his future plans. He even regretted, silently, before he went to bed
that he had so hastily mailed his resignation.
"Even when everything seems rotten you can't trust that judgment,"
Gloria had said. "It's the sum of all your judgments that counts."
In mid-April came a letter from the real-estate agent in Marietta,
encouraging them to take the gray house for another year at a slightly
increased rental, and enclosing a lease made out for their signatures.
For a week lease and letter lay carelessly neglected on Anthony's desk.
They had no intention of returning to Marietta. They were weary of the
place, and had been bored most of the preceding summer. Besides, their
car had deteriorated to a rattling mass of hypochondriacal metal, and a
new one was financially inadvisable.
But because of another wild revel, enduring through four days and
participated in, at one time or another, by more than a dozen people,
they did sign the lease; to their utter horror they signed it and sent
it, and immediately it seemed as though they heard the gray house,
drably malevolent at last, licking its white chops and waiting to
"Anthony, where's that lease?" she called in high alarm one Sunday
morning, sick and sober to reality. "Where did you leave it? It
Then she knew where it was. She remembered the house party they had
planned on the crest of their exuberance; she remembered a room full of
men to whose less exhilarated moments she and Anthony were of no
importance, and Anthony's boast of the transcendent merit and seclusion
of the gray house, that it was so isolated that it didn't matter how
much noise went on there. Then Dick, who had visited them, cried
enthusiastically that it was the best little house imaginable, and that
they were idiotic not to take it for another summer. It had been easy to
work themselves up to a sense of how hot and deserted the city was
getting, of how cool and ambrosial were the charms of Marietta. Anthony
had picked up the lease and waved it wildly, found Gloria happily
acquiescent, and with one last burst of garrulous decision during which
all the men agreed with solemn handshakes that they would come out for
a visit ...
"Anthony," she cried, "we've signed and sent it!"
"What the devil!"
"Oh, "An"thony!" There was utter misery in her voice. For the summer,
for eternity, they had built themselves a prison. It seemed to strike at
the last roots of their stability. Anthony thought they might arrange it
with the real-estate agent. They could no longer afford the double rent,
and going to Marietta meant giving up his apartment, his reproachless
apartment with the exquisite bath and the rooms for which he had bought
his furniture and hangings--it was the closest to a home that he had
ever had--familiar with memories of four colorful years.
But it was not arranged with the real-estate agent, nor was it arranged
at all. Dispiritedly, without even any talk of making the best of it,
without even Gloria's all-sufficing "I don't care," they went back to
the house that they now knew heeded neither youth nor love--only those
austere and incommunicable memories that they could never share.
THE SINISTER SUMMER
There was a horror in the house that summer. It came with them and
settled itself over the place like a sombre pall, pervasive through the
lower rooms, gradually spreading and climbing up the narrow stairs until
it oppressed their very sleep. Anthony and Gloria grew to hate being
there alone. Her bedroom, which had seemed so pink and young and
delicate, appropriate to her pastel-shaded lingerie tossed here and
there on chair and bed, seemed now to whisper with its rustling curtains:
"Ah, my beautiful young lady, yours is not the first daintiness and
delicacy that has faded here under the summer suns ... generations of
unloved women have adorned themselves by that glass for rustic lovers
who paid no heed.... Youth has come into this room in palest blue and
left it in the gray cerements of despair, and through long nights many
girls have lain awake where that bed stands pouring out waves of misery
into the darkness."
Gloria finally tumbled all her clothes and unguents ingloriously out of
it, declaring that she had come to live with Anthony, and making the
excuse that one of her screens was rotten and admitted bugs. So her room
was abandoned to insensitive guests, and they dressed and slept in her
husband's chamber, which Gloria considered somehow "good," as though
Anthony's presence there had acted as exterminator of any uneasy shadows
of the past that might have hovered about its walls.
The distinction between "good" and "bad," ordered early and summarily
out of both their lives, had been reinstated in another form. Gloria
insisted that any one invited to the gray house must be "good," which,
in the case of a girl, meant that she must be either simple and
reproachless or, if otherwise, must possess a certain solidity and
strength. Always intensely sceptical of her sex, her judgments were now
concerned with the question of whether women were or were not clean. By
uncleanliness she meant a variety of things, a lack of pride, a
slackness in fibre and, most of all, the unmistakable aura of
"Women soil easily," she said, "far more easily than men. Unless a
girl's very young and brave it's almost impossible for her to go
down-hill without a certain hysterical animality, the cunning, dirty
sort of animality. A man's different--and I suppose that's why one of
the commonest characters of romance is a man going gallantly to
She was disposed to like many men, preferably those who gave her frank
homage and unfailing entertainment--but often with a flash of insight
she told Anthony that some one of his friends was merely using him, and
consequently had best be left alone. Anthony customarily demurred,
insisting that the accused was a "good one," but he found that his
judgment was more fallible than hers, memorably when, as it happened on
several occasions, he was left with a succession of restaurant checks
for which to render a solitary account.
More from their fear of solitude than from any desire to go through the
fuss and bother of entertaining, they filled the house with guests every
week-end, and often on through the week. The week-end parties were much
the same. When the three or four men invited had arrived, drinking was
more or less in order, followed by a hilarious dinner and a ride to the
Cradle Beach Country Club, which they had joined because it was
inexpensive, lively if not fashionable, and almost a necessity for just
such occasions as these. Moreover, it was of no great moment what one
did there, and so long as the Patch party were reasonably inaudible, it
mattered little whether or not the social dictators of Cradle Beach saw
the gay Gloria imbibing cocktails in the supper room at frequent
intervals during the evening.
Saturday ended, generally, in a glamourous confusion--it proving often
necessary to assist a muddled guest to bed. Sunday brought the New York
papers and a quiet morning of recuperating on the porch--and Sunday
afternoon meant good-by to the one or two guests who must return to the
city, and a great revival of drinking among the one or two who remained
until next day, concluding in a convivial if not hilarious evening.
The faithful Tana, pedagogue by nature and man of all work by
profession, had returned with them. Among their more frequent guests a
tradition had sprung up about him. Maury Noble remarked one afternoon
that his real name was Tannenbaum, and that he was a German agent kept
in this country to disseminate Teutonic propaganda through Westchester
County, and, after that, mysterious letters began to arrive from
Philadelphia addressed to the bewildered Oriental as "Lt. Emile
Tannenbaum," containing a few cryptic messages signed "General Staff,"
and adorned with an atmospheric double column of facetious Japanese.
Anthony always handed them to Tana without a smile; hours afterward the
recipient could be found puzzling over them in the kitchen and declaring
earnestly that the perpendicular symbols were not Japanese, nor anything
Gloria had taken a strong dislike to the man ever since the day when,
returning unexpectedly from the village, she had discovered him
reclining on Anthony's bed, puzzling out a newspaper. It was the
instinct of all servants to be fond of Anthony and to detest Gloria, and
Tana was no exception to the rule. But he was thoroughly afraid of her
and made plain his aversion only in his moodier moments by subtly
addressing Anthony with remarks intended for her ear:
"What Miz Pats want dinner?" he would say, looking at his master. Or
else he would comment about the bitter selfishness of "'Merican peoples"
in such manner that there was no doubt who were the "peoples"
But they dared not dismiss him. Such a step would have been abhorrent to
their inertia. They endured Tana as they endured ill weather and
sickness of the body and the estimable Will of God--as they endured all
things, even themselves.
One sultry afternoon late in July Richard Caramel telephoned from New
York that he and Maury were coming out, bringing a friend with them.
They arrived about five, a little drunk, accompanied by a small, stocky
man of thirty-five, whom they introduced as Mr. Joe Hull, one of the
best fellows that Anthony and Gloria had ever met.
Joe Hull had a yellow beard continually fighting through his skin and a
low voice which varied between basso profundo and a husky whisper.
Anthony, carrying Maury's suitcase up-stairs, followed into the room and
carefully closed the door.
"Who is this fellow?" he demanded.
Maury chuckled enthusiastically.
"Who, Hull? Oh, "he's" all right. He's a good one."
"Yes, but who is he?"
"Hull? He's just a good fellow. He's a prince." His laughter redoubled,
culminating in a succession of pleasant catlike grins. Anthony hesitated
between a smile and a frown.
"He looks sort of funny to me. Weird-looking clothes"--he paused--"I've
got a sneaking suspicion you two picked him up somewhere last night."
"Ridiculous," declared Maury. "Why, I've known him all my life."
However, as he capped this statement with another series of chuckles,
Anthony was impelled to remark: "The devil you have!"
Later, just before dinner, while Maury and Dick were conversing
uproariously, with Joe Hull listening in silence as he sipped his drink,
Gloria drew Anthony into the dining room:
"I don't like this man Hull," she said. "I wish he'd use Tana's
"I can't very well ask him to."
"Well, I don't want him in ours."
"He seems to be a simple soul."
"He's got on white shoes that look like gloves. I can see his toes right
through them. Uh! Who is he, anyway?"
"You've got me."
"Well, I think they've got their nerve to bring him out here. This isn't
a Sailor's Rescue Home!"
"They were tight when they phoned. Maury said they've been on a party
since yesterday afternoon."
Gloria shook her head angrily, and saying no more returned to the porch.
Anthony saw that she was trying to forget her uncertainty and devote
herself to enjoying the evening.
It had been a tropical day, and even into late twilight the heat-waves
emanating from the dry road were quivering faintly like undulating panes
of isinglass. The sky was cloudless, but far beyond the woods in the
direction of the Sound a faint and persistent rolling had commenced.
When Tana announced dinner the men, at a word from Gloria, remained
coatless and went inside.
Maury began a song, which they accomplished in harmony during the first
course. It had two lines and was sung to a popular air called Daisy
Dear. The lines were:
"The--pan-ic--has--come--over us, So "ha-a-as"--the moral de"cline"!"
Each rendition was greeted with bursts of enthusiasm and prolonged
"Cheer up, Gloria!" suggested Maury. "You seem the least bit depressed."
"I'm not," she lied.
"Here, Tannenbaum!" he called over his shoulder. "I've filled you a
drink. Come on!"
Gloria tried to stay his arm.
"Please don't, Maury!"
"Why not? Maybe he'll play the flute for us after dinner. Here, Tana."
Tana, grinning, bore the glass away to the kitchen. In a few moments
Maury gave him another.
"Cheer up, Gloria!" he cried. "For Heaven's sakes everybody, cheer up
"Dearest, have another drink," counselled Anthony.
"Cheer up, Gloria," said Joe Hull easily.
Gloria winced at this uncalled-for use of her first name, and glanced
around to see if any one else had noticed it. The word coming so glibly
from the lips of a man to whom she had taken an inordinate dislike
repelled her. A moment later she noticed that Joe Hull had given Tana
another drink, and her anger increased, heightened somewhat from the
effects of the alcohol.
"--and once," Maury was saying, "Peter Granby and I went into a Turkish
bath in Boston, about two o'clock at night. There was no one there but
the proprietor, and we jammed him into a closet and locked the door.
Then a fella came in and wanted a Turkish bath. Thought we were the
rubbers, by golly! Well, we just picked him up and tossed him into the
pool with all his clothes on. Then we dragged him out and laid him on a
slab and slapped him until he was black and blue. 'Not so rough,
fellows!' he'd say in a little squeaky voice, 'please! ...'"
--Was this Maury? thought Gloria. From any one else the story would have
amused her, but from Maury, the infinitely appreciative, the apotheosis
of tact and consideration....
"The--pan-ic--has--come--over us, So "ha-a-as"--"
A drum of thunder from outside drowned out the rest of the song; Gloria
shivered and tried to empty her glass, but the first taste nauseated
her, and she set it down. Dinner was over and they all marched into the
big room, bearing several bottles and decanters. Some one had closed the
porch door to keep out the wind, and in consequence circular tentacles
of cigar smoke were twisting already upon the heavy air.
"Paging Lieutenant Tannenbaum!" Again it was the changeling Maury.
"Bring us the flute!"
Anthony and Maury rushed into the kitchen; Richard Caramel started the
phonograph and approached Gloria.
"Dance with your well-known cousin."
"I don't want to dance."
"Then I'm going to carry you around."
As though he were doing something of overpowering importance, he picked
her up in his fat little arms and started trotting gravely about
"Set me down, Dick! I'm dizzy!" she insisted.
He dumped her in a bouncing bundle on the couch, and rushed off to the
kitchen, shouting "Tana! Tana!"
Then, without warning, she felt other arms around her, felt herself
lifted from the lounge. Joe Hull had picked her up and was trying,
drunkenly, to imitate Dick.
"Put me down!" she said sharply.
His maudlin laugh, and the sight of that prickly yellow jaw close to her
face stirred her to intolerable disgust.
"The--pan-ic--" he began, but got no further, for Gloria's hand swung
around swiftly and caught him in the cheek. At this he all at once let
go of her, and she fell to the floor, her shoulder hitting the table a
glancing blow in transit....
Then the room seemed full of men and smoke. There was Tana in his white
coat reeling about supported by Maury. Into his flute he was blowing a
weird blend of sound that was known, cried Anthony, as the Japanese
train-song. Joe Hull had found a box of candles and was juggling them,
yelling "One down!" every time he missed, and Dick was dancing by
himself in a fascinated whirl around and about the room. It appeared to
her that everything in the room was staggering in grotesque
fourth-dimensional gyrations through intersecting planes of hazy blue.
Outside, the storm had come up amazingly--the lulls within were filled
with the scrape of the tall bushes against the house and the roaring of
the rain on the tin roof of the kitchen. The lightning was interminable,
letting down thick drips of thunder like pig iron from the heart of a
white-hot furnace. Gloria could see that the rain was spitting in at
three of the windows--but she could not move to shut them....
... She was in the hall. She had said good night but no one had heard or
heeded her. It seemed for an instant as though something had looked down
over the head of the banister, but she could not have gone back into the
living room--better madness than the madness of that clamor....
Up-stairs she fumbled for the electric switch and missed it in the
darkness; a roomful of lightning showed her the button plainly on the
wall. But when the impenetrable black shut down, it again eluded her
fumbling fingers, so she slipped off her dress and petticoat and threw
herself weakly on the dry side of the half-drenched bed.
She shut her eyes. From down-stairs arose the babel of the drinkers,
punctured suddenly by a tinkling shiver of broken glass, and then
another, and by a soaring fragment of unsteady, irregular song....
She lay there for something over two hours--so she calculated afterward,
sheerly by piecing together the bits of time. She was conscious, even
aware, after a long while that the noise down-stairs had lessened, and
that the storm was moving off westward, throwing back lingering showers
of sound that fell, heavy and lifeless as her soul, into the soggy
fields. This was succeeded by a slow, reluctant scattering of the rain
and wind, until there was nothing outside her windows but a gentle
dripping and the swishing play of a cluster of wet vine against the
sill. She was in a state half-way between sleeping and waking, with
neither condition predominant ... and she was harassed by a desire to
rid herself of a weight pressing down upon her breast. She felt that if
she could cry the weight would be lifted, and forcing the lids of her
eyes together she tried to raise a lump in her throat ... to
Drip! Drip! Drip! The sound was not unpleasant--like spring, like a cool
rain of her childhood, that made cheerful mud in her back yard and
watered the tiny garden she had dug with miniature rake and spade and
hoe. Drip--dri-ip! It was like days when the rain came out of yellow
skies that melted just before twilight and shot one radiant shaft of
sunlight diagonally down the heavens into the damp green trees. So cool,
so clear and clean--and her mother there at the centre of the world, at
the centre of the rain, safe and dry and strong. She wanted her mother
now, and her mother was dead, beyond sight and touch forever. And this
weight was pressing on her, pressing on her--oh, it pressed on her so!
She became rigid. Some one had come to the door and was standing
regarding her, very quiet except for a slight swaying motion. She could
see the outline of his figure distinct against some indistinguishable
light. There was no sound anywhere, only a great persuasive
silence--even the dripping had ceased ... only this figure, swaying,
swaying in the doorway, an indiscernible and subtly menacing terror, a
personality filthy under its varnish, like smallpox spots under a layer
of powder. Yet her tired heart, beating until it shook her breasts, made
her sure that there was still life in her, desperately shaken,
The minute or succession of minutes prolonged itself interminably, and a
swimming blur began to form before her eyes, which tried with childish
persistence to pierce the gloom in the direction of the door. In another
instant it seemed that some unimaginable force would shatter her out of
existence ... and then the figure in the doorway--it was Hull, she saw,
Hull--turned deliberately and, still slightly swaying, moved back and
off, as if absorbed into that incomprehensible light that had given him
Blood rushed back into her limbs, blood and life together. With a start
of energy she sat upright, shifting her body until her feet touched the
floor over the side of the bed. She knew what she must do--now, now,
before it was too late. She must go out into this cool damp, out, away,
to feel the wet swish of the grass around her feet and the fresh
moisture on her forehead. Mechanically she struggled into her clothes,
groping in the dark of the closet for a hat. She must go from this house
where the thing hovered that pressed upon her bosom, or else made itself
into stray, swaying figures in the gloom.
In a panic she fumbled clumsily at her coat, found the sleeve just as
she heard Anthony's footsteps on the lower stair. She dared not wait; he
might not let her go, and even Anthony was part of this weight, part of
this evil house and the sombre darkness that was growing up about it....
Through the hall then ... and down the back stairs, hearing Anthony's
voice in the bedroom she had just left--
But she had reached the kitchen now, passed out through the doorway into
the night. A hundred drops, startled by a flare of wind from a dripping
tree, scattered on her and she pressed them gladly to her face with
The voice was infinitely remote, muffed and made plaintive by the walls
she had just left. She rounded the house and started down the front path
toward the road, almost exultant as she turned into it, and followed the
carpet of short grass alongside, moving with caution in the
She broke into a run, stumbled over the segment of a branch twisted off
by the wind. The voice was outside the house now. Anthony, finding the
bedroom deserted, had come onto the porch. But this thing was driving
her forward; it was back there with Anthony, and she must go on in her
flight under this dim and oppressive heaven, forcing herself through the
silence ahead as though it were a tangible barrier before her.
She had gone some distance along the barely discernible road, probably
half a mile, passed a single deserted barn that loomed up, black and
foreboding, the only building of any sort between the gray house and
Marietta; then she turned the fork, where the road entered the wood and
ran between two high walls of leaves and branches that nearly touched
overhead. She noticed suddenly a thin, longitudinal gleam of silver upon
the road before her, like a bright sword half embedded in the mud. As
she came closer she gave a little cry of satisfaction--it was a
wagon-rut full of water, and glancing heavenward she saw a light rift of
sky and knew that the moon was out.
She started violently. Anthony was not two hundred feet behind her.
"Gloria, wait for me!"
She shut her lips tightly to keep from screaming, and increased her
gait. Before she had gone another hundred yards the woods disappeared,
rolling back like a dark stocking from the leg of the road. Three
minutes' walk ahead of her, suspended in the now high and limitless air,
she saw a thin interlacing of attenuated gleams and glitters, centred in
a regular undulation on some one invisible point. Abruptly she knew
where she would go. That was the great cascade of wires that rose high
over the river, like the legs of a gigantic spider whose eye was the
little green light in the switch-house, and ran with the railroad bridge
in the direction of the station. The station! There would be the train
to take her away.
"Gloria, it's me! It's Anthony! Gloria, I won't try to stop you! For
God's sake, where are you?"
She made no answer but began to run, keeping on the high side of the
road and leaping the gleaming puddles--dimensionless pools of thin,
unsubstantial gold. Turning sharply to the left, she followed a narrow
wagon road, serving to avoid a dark body on the ground. She looked up as
an owl hooted mournfully from a solitary tree. Just ahead of her she
could see the trestle that led to the railroad bridge and the steps
mounting up to it. The station lay across the river.
Another sounds startled her, the melancholy siren of an approaching
train, and almost simultaneously, a repeated call, thin now and
Anthony must have followed the main road. She laughed with a sort of
malicious cunning at having eluded him; she could spare the time to wait
until the train went by.
The siren soared again, closer at hand, and then, with no anticipatory
roar and clamor, a dark and sinuous body curved into view against the
shadows far down the high-banked track, and with no sound but the rush
of the cleft wind and the clocklike tick of the rails, moved toward the
bridge--it was an electric train. Above the engine two vivid blurs of
blue light formed incessantly a radiant crackling bar between them,
which, like a spluttering flame in a lamp beside a corpse, lit for an
instant the successive rows of trees and caused Gloria to draw back
instinctively to the far side of the road. The light was tepid, the
temperature of warm blood.... The clicking blended suddenly with itself
in a rush of even sound, and then, elongating in sombre elasticity, the
thing roared blindly by her and thundered onto the bridge, racing the
lurid shaft of fire it cast into the solemn river alongside. Then it
contracted swiftly, sucking in its sound until it left only a
reverberant echo, which died upon the farther bank.
Silence crept down again over the wet country; the faint dripping
resumed, and suddenly a great shower of drops tumbled upon Gloria
stirring her out of the trance-like torpor which the passage of the
train had wrought. She ran swiftly down a descending level to the bank
and began climbing the iron stairway to the bridge, remembering that it
was something she had always wanted to do, and that she would have the
added excitement of traversing the yard-wide plank that ran beside the
tracks over the river.
There! This was better. She was at the top now and could see the lands
about her as successive sweeps of open country, cold under the moon,
coarsely patched and seamed with thin rows and heavy clumps of trees. To
her right, half a mile down the river, which trailed away behind the
light like the shiny, slimy path of a snail, winked the scattered lights
of Marietta. Not two hundred yards away at the end of the bridge
squatted the station, marked by a sullen lantern. The oppression was
lifted now--the tree-tops below her were rocking the young starlight to
a haunted doze. She stretched out her arms with a gesture of freedom.
This was what she had wanted, to stand alone where it was high and cool.
Like a startled child she scurried along the plank, hopping, skipping,
jumping, with an ecstatic sense of her own physical lightness. Let him
come now--she no longer feared that, only she must first reach the
station, because that was part of the game. She was happy. Her hat,
snatched off, was clutched tightly in her hand, and her short curled
hair bobbed up and down about her ears. She had thought she would never
feel so young again, but this was her night, her world. Triumphantly she
laughed as she left the plank, and reaching the wooden platform flung
herself down happily beside an iron roof-post.
"Here I am!" she called, gay as the dawn in her elation. "Here I am,
Anthony, dear--old, worried Anthony."
"Gloria!" He reached the platform, ran toward her. "Are you all right?"
Coming up he knelt and took her in his arms.
"What was the matter? Why did you leave?" he queried anxiously.
"I had to--there was something"--she paused and a flicker of uneasiness
lashed at her mind--"there was something sitting on me--here." She put
her hand on her breast. "I had to go out and get away from it."
"What do you mean by 'something'?"
"I don't know--that man Hull--"
"Did he bother you?"
"He came to my door, drunk. I think I'd gotten sort of crazy by that
Wearily she laid her head upon his shoulder.
"Let's go back," he suggested.
"Uh! No, I couldn't. It'd come and sit on me again." Her voice rose to a
cry that hung plaintive on the darkness. "That thing--"
"There--there," he soothed her, pulling her close to him. "We won't do
anything you don't want to do. What do you want to do? Just sit here?"
"I want--I want to go away."
"By golly, Gloria," he cried, "you're still tight!"
"No, I'm not. I haven't been, all evening. I went up-stairs about, oh, I
don't know, about half an hour after dinner ...Ouch!"
He had inadvertently touched her right shoulder.
"It hurts me. I hurt it some way. I don't know--somebody picked me up
and dropped me."
"Gloria, come home. It's late and damp."
"I can't," she wailed. "Oh, Anthony, don't ask me to! I will to-morrow.
You go home and I'll wait here for a train. I'll go to a hotel--"
"I'll go with you."
"No, I don't want you with me. I want to be alone. I want to sleep--oh,
I want to sleep. And then to-morrow, when you've got all the smell of
whiskey and cigarettes out of the house, and everything straight, and
Hull is gone, then I'll come home. If I we
♥ FINE AREA VOCALIZZATA CON READSPEAKER
Prodotti straordinari per le tue lingue
online il primo numero di
l'anglorivista che mette il turbo al tuo inglese, l'unica con
pronuncia guidata e doppia traduzione italiana per capire sempre
Leggi il n. 1 gratis!
Acquista gli arretrati
Cosa dicono i lettori
- A chi serve
Total Audio, la versione del
corso 20 ORE fatta
apposta per chi come te passa tanto tempo viaggiando! Ideale per
chi fa il pendolare o compie ogni giorno lunghi tragitti sui
mezzi. Sfrutta anche tu i tempi morti per imparare o migliorare
il tuo inglese!
CORSI 20 ORE - I corsi di lingue più
completi per una preparazione di base superiore alla media in 5