Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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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
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
... Well this side of Paradise!...
There's little comfort in the wise.
Experience is the name so many people
give to their mistakes.
To SIGOURNEY FAY
BOOK ONE: The Romantic Egotist
1. AMORY, SON OF BEATRICE
2. SPIRES AND GARGOYLES
3. THE EGOTIST CONSIDERS
4. NARCISSUS OFF DUTY
[INTERLUDE: MAY, 1917-FEBRUARY, 1919. ]
BOOK TWO: The Education of a Personage
1. THE DEBUTANTE
2. EXPERIMENTS IN CONVALESCENCE
3. YOUNG IRONY
4. THE SUPERCILIOUS SACRIFICE
5. THE EGOTIST BECOMES A PERSONAGE
BOOK ONE--The Romantic Egotist
CHAPTER 1. Amory, Son of Beatrice
Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the
stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while. His father, an
ineffectual, inarticulate man with a taste for Byron and a habit of
drowsing over the Encyclopedia Britannica, grew wealthy at thirty
through the death of two elder brothers, successful Chicago brokers, and
in the first flush of feeling that the world was his, went to Bar Harbor
and met Beatrice O'Hara. In consequence, Stephen Blaine handed down to
posterity his height of just under six feet and his tendency to waver at
crucial moments, these two abstractions appearing in his son Amory.
For many years he hovered in the background of his family's life, an
unassertive figure with a face half-obliterated by lifeless, silky hair,
continually occupied in "taking care" of his wife, continually harassed
by the idea that he didn't and couldn't understand her.
But Beatrice Blaine! There was a woman! Early pictures taken on her
father's estate at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, or in Rome at the Sacred
Heart Convent--an educational extravagance that in her youth was only
for the daughters of the exceptionally wealthy--showed the exquisite
delicacy of her features, the consummate art and simplicity of her
clothes. A brilliant education she had--her youth passed in renaissance
glory, she was versed in the latest gossip of the Older Roman Families;
known by name as a fabulously wealthy American girl to Cardinal Vitori
and Queen Margherita and more subtle celebrities that one must have had
some culture even to have heard of. She learned in England to prefer
whiskey and soda to wine, and her small talk was broadened in two senses
during a winter in Vienna. All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed the
sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again; a tutelage
measured by the number of things and people one could be contemptuous of
and charming about; a culture rich in all arts and traditions, barren of
all ideas, in the last of those days when the great gardener clipped the
inferior roses to produce one perfect bud.
In her less important moments she returned to America, met Stephen
Blaine and married him--this almost entirely because she was a little
bit weary, a little bit sad. Her only child was carried through
a tiresome season and brought into the world on a spring day in
When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for her. He
was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which he would grow
up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a taste for fancy dress.
From his fourth to his tenth year he did the country with his mother
in her father's private car, from Coronado, where his mother became so
bored that she had a nervous breakdown in a fashionable hotel, down to
Mexico City, where she took a mild, almost epidemic consumption. This
trouble pleased her, and later she made use of it as an intrinsic part
of her atmosphere--especially after several astounding bracers.
So, while more or less fortunate little rich boys were defying
governesses on the beach at Newport, or being spanked or tutored or read
to from "Do and Dare," or "Frank on the Mississippi," Amory was biting
acquiescent bell-boys in the Waldorf, outgrowing a natural repugnance
to chamber music and symphonies, and deriving a highly specialized
education from his mother.
"Yes, Beatrice." (Such a quaint name for his mother; she encouraged it.)
"Dear, don't "think" of getting out of bed yet. I've always suspected
that early rising in early life makes one nervous. Clothilde is having
your breakfast brought up."
"I am feeling very old to-day, Amory," she would sigh, her face a rare
cameo of pathos, her voice exquisitely modulated, her hands as facile
as Bernhardt's. "My nerves are on edge--on edge. We must leave this
terrifying place to-morrow and go searching for sunshine."
Amory's penetrating green eyes would look out through tangled hair at
his mother. Even at this age he had no illusions about her.
"I want you to take a red-hot bath as hot as you can bear it, and just
relax your nerves. You can read in the tub if you wish."
She fed him sections of the "Fetes Galantes" before he was ten; at
eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of Brahms and
Mozart and Beethoven. One afternoon, when left alone in the hotel at
Hot Springs, he sampled his mother's apricot cordial, and as the taste
pleased him, he became quite tipsy. This was fun for a while, but
he essayed a cigarette in his exaltation, and succumbed to a vulgar,
plebeian reaction. Though this incident horrified Beatrice, it also
secretly amused her and became part of what in a later generation would
have been termed her "line."
"This son of mine," he heard her tell a room full of awestruck, admiring
women one day, "is entirely sophisticated and quite charming--but
delicate--we're all delicate; "here", you know." Her hand was radiantly
outlined against her beautiful bosom; then sinking her voice to a
whisper, she told them of the apricot cordial. They rejoiced, for she
was a brave raconteuse, but many were the keys turned in sideboard locks
that night against the possible defection of little Bobby or Barbara....
These domestic pilgrimages were invariably in state; two maids, the
private car, or Mr. Blaine when available, and very often a physician.
When Amory had the whooping-cough four disgusted specialists glared at
each other hunched around his bed; when he took scarlet fever the number
of attendants, including physicians and nurses, totalled fourteen.
However, blood being thicker than broth, he was pulled through.
The Blaines were attached to no city. They were the Blaines of Lake
Geneva; they had quite enough relatives to serve in place of friends,
and an enviable standing from Pasadena to Cape Cod. But Beatrice grew
more and more prone to like only new acquaintances, as there were
certain stories, such as the history of her constitution and its many
amendments, memories of her years abroad, that it was necessary for
her to repeat at regular intervals. Like Freudian dreams, they must be
thrown off, else they would sweep in and lay siege to her nerves. But
Beatrice was critical about American women, especially the floating
population of ex-Westerners.
"They have accents, my dear," she told Amory, "not Southern accents
or Boston accents, not an accent attached to any locality, just an
accent"--she became dreamy. "They pick up old, moth-eaten London accents
that are down on their luck and have to be used by some one. They talk
as an English butler might after several years in a Chicago grand-opera
company." She became almost incoherent--"Suppose--time in every Western
woman's life--she feels her husband is prosperous enough for her to
have--accent--they try to impress "me", my dear--"
Though she thought of her body as a mass of frailties, she considered
her soul quite as ill, and therefore important in her life. She had
once been a Catholic, but discovering that priests were infinitely more
attentive when she was in process of losing or regaining faith in Mother
Church, she maintained an enchantingly wavering attitude. Often she
deplored the bourgeois quality of the American Catholic clergy, and was
quite sure that had she lived in the shadow of the great Continental
cathedrals her soul would still be a thin flame on the mighty altar of
Rome. Still, next to doctors, priests were her favorite sport.
"Ah, Bishop Wiston," she would declare, "I do not want to talk of
myself. I can imagine the stream of hysterical women fluttering at your
doors, beseeching you to be simpatico"--then after an interlude filled
by the clergyman--"but my mood--is--oddly dissimilar."
Only to bishops and above did she divulge her clerical romance. When she
had first returned to her country there had been a pagan, Swinburnian
young man in Asheville, for whose passionate kisses and unsentimental
conversations she had taken a decided penchant--they had discussed
the matter pro and con with an intellectual romancing quite devoid of
sappiness. Eventually she had decided to marry for background, and the
young pagan from Asheville had gone through a spiritual crisis, joined
the Catholic Church, and was now--Monsignor Darcy.
"Indeed, Mrs. Blaine, he is still delightful company--quite the
cardinal's right-hand man."
"Amory will go to him one day, I know," breathed the beautiful lady,
"and Monsignor Darcy will understand him as he understood me."
Amory became thirteen, rather tall and slender, and more than ever on to
his Celtic mother. He had tutored occasionally--the idea being that he
was to "keep up," at each place "taking up the work where he left off,"
yet as no tutor ever found the place he left off, his mind was still in
very good shape. What a few more years of this life would have made of
him is problematical. However, four hours out from land, Italy bound,
with Beatrice, his appendix burst, probably from too many meals in bed,
and after a series of frantic telegrams to Europe and America, to the
amazement of the passengers the great ship slowly wheeled around and
returned to New York to deposit Amory at the pier. You will admit that
if it was not life it was magnificent.
After the operation Beatrice had a nervous breakdown that bore a
suspicious resemblance to delirium tremens, and Amory was left in
Minneapolis, destined to spend the ensuing two years with his aunt and
uncle. There the crude, vulgar air of Western civilization first catches
him--in his underwear, so to speak.
A KISS FOR AMORY
His lip curled when he read it.
"I am going to have a bobbing party," it said, "on Thursday,
December the seventeenth, at five o'clock, and I would like it
very much if you could come.
R.S.V.P. Myra St. Claire.
He had been two months in Minneapolis, and his chief struggle had been
the concealing from "the other guys at school" how particularly superior
he felt himself to be, yet this conviction was built upon shifting
sands. He had shown off one day in French class (he was in senior French
class) to the utter confusion of Mr. Reardon, whose accent Amory damned
contemptuously, and to the delight of the class. Mr. Reardon, who had
spent several weeks in Paris ten years before, took his revenge on the
verbs, whenever he had his book open. But another time Amory showed off
in history class, with quite disastrous results, for the boys there
were his own age, and they shrilled innuendoes at each other all the
"Aw--I b'lieve, doncherknow, the Umuricun revolution was "lawgely" an
affair of the middul "clawses"," or
"Washington came of very good blood--aw, quite good--I b'lieve."
Amory ingeniously tried to retrieve himself by blundering on purpose.
Two years before he had commenced a history of the United States which,
though it only got as far as the Colonial Wars, had been pronounced by
his mother completely enchanting.
His chief disadvantage lay in athletics, but as soon as he discovered
that it was the touchstone of power and popularity at school, he began
to make furious, persistent efforts to excel in the winter sports, and
with his ankles aching and bending in spite of his efforts, he skated
valiantly around the Lorelie rink every afternoon, wondering how soon
he would be able to carry a hockey-stick without getting it inexplicably
tangled in his skates.
The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire's bobbing party spent the morning
in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical affair with a dusty
piece of peanut brittle. During the afternoon he brought it to light
with a sigh, and after some consideration and a preliminary draft in the
back of Collar and Daniel's "First-Year Latin," composed an answer:
My dear Miss St. Claire:
Your truly charming envitation for the evening of next Thursday
evening was truly delightful to receive this morning. I will be
charm and inchanted indeed to present my compliments on next
On Thursday, therefore, he walked pensively along the slippery,
shovel-scraped sidewalks, and came in sight of Myra's house, on the
half-hour after five, a lateness which he fancied his mother would
have favored. He waited on the door-step with his eyes nonchalantly
half-closed, and planned his entrance with precision. He would cross
the floor, not too hastily, to Mrs. St. Claire, and say with exactly the
"My "dear" Mrs. St. Claire, I'm "frightfully" sorry to be late, but my
maid"--he paused there and realized he would be quoting--"but my uncle
and I had to see a fella--Yes, I've met your enchanting daughter at
Then he would shake hands, using that slight, half-foreign bow, with all
the starchy little females, and nod to the fellas who would be standing
'round, paralyzed into rigid groups for mutual protection.
A butler (one of the three in Minneapolis) swung open the door. Amory
stepped inside and divested himself of cap and coat. He was mildly
surprised not to hear the shrill squawk of conversation from the next
room, and he decided it must be quite formal. He approved of that--as he
approved of the butler.
"Miss Myra," he said.
To his surprise the butler grinned horribly.
"Oh, yeah," he declared, "she's here." He was unaware that his failure
to be cockney was ruining his standing. Amory considered him coldly.
"But," continued the butler, his voice rising unnecessarily, "she's the
only one what "is" here. The party's gone."
Amory gasped in sudden horror.
"She's been waitin' for Amory Blaine. That's you, ain't it? Her mother
says that if you showed up by five-thirty you two was to go after 'em in
Amory's despair was crystallized by the appearance of Myra herself,
bundled to the ears in a polo coat, her face plainly sulky, her voice
pleasant only with difficulty.
"'Lo, Myra." He had described the state of his vitality.
"Well--you "got" here, "any"ways."
"Well--I'll tell you. I guess you don't know about the auto accident,"
Myra's eyes opened wide.
"Who was it to?"
"Well," he continued desperately, "uncle 'n aunt 'n I."
"Was any one "killed?""
Amory paused and then nodded.
"Oh, no just a horse--a sorta gray horse."
At this point the Erse butler snickered.
"Probably killed the engine," he suggested. Amory would have put him on
the rack without a scruple.
"We'll go now," said Myra coolly. "You see, Amory, the bobs were ordered
for five and everybody was here, so we couldn't wait--"
"Well, I couldn't help it, could I?"
"So mama said for me to wait till ha'past five. We'll catch the bobs
before it gets to the Minnehaha Club, Amory."
Amory's shredded poise dropped from him. He pictured the happy party
jingling along snowy streets, the appearance of the limousine, the
horrible public descent of him and Myra before sixty reproachful eyes,
his apology--a real one this time. He sighed aloud.
"What?" inquired Myra.
"Nothing. I was just yawning. Are we going to "surely" catch up with 'em
before they get there?" He was encouraging a faint hope that they might
slip into the Minnehaha Club and meet the others there, be found in
blasé seclusion before the fire and quite regain his lost attitude.
"Oh, sure Mike, we'll catch 'em all right--let's hurry."
He became conscious of his stomach. As they stepped into the machine he
hurriedly slapped the paint of diplomacy over a rather box-like plan
he had conceived. It was based upon some "trade-lasts" gleaned at
dancing-school, to the effect that he was "awful good-looking and
"English", sort of."
"Myra," he said, lowering his voice and choosing his words carefully,
"I beg a thousand pardons. Can you ever forgive me?" She regarded
him gravely, his intent green eyes, his mouth, that to her
thirteen-year-old, arrow-collar taste was the quintessence of romance.
Yes, Myra could forgive him very easily.
He looked at her again, and then dropped his eyes. He had lashes.
"I'm awful," he said sadly. "I'm diff'runt. I don't know why I make faux
pas. 'Cause I don't care, I s'pose." Then, recklessly: "I been smoking
too much. I've got t'bacca heart."
Myra pictured an all-night tobacco debauch, with Amory pale and reeling
from the effect of nicotined lungs. She gave a little gasp.
"Oh, "Amory", don't smoke. You'll stunt your "growth!""
"I don't care," he persisted gloomily. "I gotta. I got the habit. I've
done a lot of things that if my fambly knew"--he hesitated, giving her
imagination time to picture dark horrors--"I went to the burlesque show
Myra was quite overcome. He turned the green eyes on her again. "You're
the only girl in town I like much," he exclaimed in a rush of sentiment.
Myra was not sure that she was, but it sounded stylish though vaguely
Thick dusk had descended outside, and as the limousine made a sudden
turn she was jolted against him; their hands touched.
"You shouldn't smoke, Amory," she whispered. "Don't you know that?"
He shook his head.
Something stirred within Amory.
"Oh, yes, you do! You got a crush on Froggy Parker. I guess everybody
"No, I haven't," very slowly.
A silence, while Amory thrilled. There was something fascinating about
Myra, shut away here cosily from the dim, chill air. Myra, a little
bundle of clothes, with strands of yellow hair curling out from under
her skating cap.
"Because I've got a crush, too--" He paused, for he heard in the
distance the sound of young laughter, and, peering through the frosted
glass along the lamp-lit street, he made out the dark outline of the
bobbing party. He must act quickly. He reached over with a violent,
jerky effort, and clutched Myra's hand--her thumb, to be exact.
"Tell him to go to the Minnehaha straight," he whispered. "I wanta talk
to you--I "got" to talk to you."
Myra made out the party ahead, had an instant vision of her mother, and
then--alas for convention--glanced into the eyes beside. "Turn down this
side street, Richard, and drive straight to the Minnehaha Club!" she
cried through the speaking tube. Amory sank back against the cushions
with a sigh of relief.
"I can kiss her," he thought. "I'll bet I can. I'll "bet" I can!"
Overhead the sky was half crystalline, half misty, and the night around
was chill and vibrant with rich tension. From the Country Club steps the
roads stretched away, dark creases on the white blanket; huge heaps of
snow lining the sides like the tracks of giant moles. They lingered for
a moment on the steps, and watched the white holiday moon.
"Pale moons like that one"--Amory made a vague gesture--"make people
mysterieuse. You look like a young witch with her cap off and her hair
sorta mussed"--her hands clutched at her hair--"Oh, leave it, it looks
They drifted up the stairs and Myra led the way into the little den of
his dreams, where a cosy fire was burning before a big sink-down couch.
A few years later this was to be a great stage for Amory, a cradle for
many an emotional crisis. Now they talked for a moment about bobbing
"There's always a bunch of shy fellas," he commented, "sitting at the
tail of the bob, sorta lurkin' an' whisperin' an' pushin' each other
off. Then there's always some crazy cross-eyed girl"--he gave a
terrifying imitation--"she's always talkin' "hard", sorta, to the
"You're such a funny boy," puzzled Myra.
"How d'y' mean?" Amory gave immediate attention, on his own ground at
"Oh--always talking about crazy things. Why don't you come ski-ing with
Marylyn and I to-morrow?"
"I don't like girls in the daytime," he said shortly, and then, thinking
this a bit abrupt, he added: "But I like you." He cleared his throat. "I
like you first and second and third."
Myra's eyes became dreamy. What a story this would make to tell
Marylyn! Here on the couch with this "wonderful"-looking boy--the little
fire--the sense that they were alone in the great building--
Myra capitulated. The atmosphere was too appropriate.
"I like you the first twenty-five," she confessed, her voice trembling,
"and Froggy Parker twenty-sixth."
Froggy had fallen twenty-five places in one hour. As yet he had not even
But Amory, being on the spot, leaned over quickly and kissed Myra's
cheek. He had never kissed a girl before, and he tasted his lips
curiously, as if he had munched some new fruit. Then their lips brushed
like young wild flowers in the wind.
"We're awful," rejoiced Myra gently. She slipped her hand into his,
her head drooped against his shoulder. Sudden revulsion seized Amory,
disgust, loathing for the whole incident. He desired frantically to
be away, never to see Myra again, never to kiss any one; he became
conscious of his face and hers, of their clinging hands, and he wanted
to creep out of his body and hide somewhere safe out of sight, up in the
corner of his mind.
"Kiss me again." Her voice came out of a great void.
"I don't want to," he heard himself saying. There was another pause.
"I don't want to!" he repeated passionately.
Myra sprang up, her cheeks pink with bruised vanity, the great bow on
the back of her head trembling sympathetically.
"I hate you!" she cried. "Don't you ever dare to speak to me again!"
"What?" stammered Amory.
"I'll tell mama you kissed me! I will too! I will too! I'll tell mama,
and she won't let me play with you!"
Amory rose and stared at her helplessly, as though she were a new animal
of whose presence on the earth he had not heretofore been aware.
The door opened suddenly, and Myra's mother appeared on the threshold,
fumbling with her lorgnette.
"Well," she began, adjusting it benignantly, "the man at the desk told
me you two children were up here--How do you do, Amory."
Amory watched Myra and waited for the crash--but none came. The pout
faded, the high pink subsided, and Myra's voice was placid as a summer
lake when she answered her mother.
"Oh, we started so late, mama, that I thought we might as well--"
He heard from below the shrieks of laughter, and smelled the vapid
odor of hot chocolate and tea-cakes as he silently followed mother and
daughter down-stairs. The sound of the graphophone mingled with the
voices of many girls humming the air, and a faint glow was born and
spread over him:
"Casey-Jones--mounted to the cab-un
Casey-Jones--'th his orders in his hand.
Casey-Jones--mounted to the cab-un
Took his farewell journey to the prom-ised land."
SNAPSHOTS OF THE YOUNG EGOTIST
Amory spent nearly two years in Minneapolis. The first winter he wore
moccasins that were born yellow, but after many applications of oil and
dirt assumed their mature color, a dirty, greenish brown; he wore a gray
plaid mackinaw coat, and a red toboggan cap. His dog, Count Del Monte,
ate the red cap, so his uncle gave him a gray one that pulled down over
his face. The trouble with this one was that you breathed into it and
your breath froze; one day the darn thing froze his cheek. He rubbed
snow on his cheek, but it turned bluish-black just the same.
The Count Del Monte ate a box of bluing once, but it didn't hurt him.
Later, however, he lost his mind and ran madly up the street, bumping
into fences, rolling in gutters, and pursuing his eccentric course out
of Amory's life. Amory cried on his bed.
"Poor little Count," he cried. "Oh, "poor" little "Count!""
After several months he suspected Count of a fine piece of emotional
Amory and Frog Parker considered that the greatest line in literature
occurred in Act III of "Arsene Lupin."
They sat in the first row at the Wednesday and Saturday matinees. The
"If one can't be a great artist or a great soldier, the next best thing
is to be a great criminal."
Amory fell in love again, and wrote a poem. This was it:
"Marylyn and Sallee,
Those are the girls for me.
Marylyn stands above
Sallee in that sweet, deep love."
He was interested in whether McGovern of Minnesota would make the
first or second All-American, how to do the card-pass, how to do
the coin-pass, chameleon ties, how babies were born, and whether
Three-fingered Brown was really a better pitcher than Christie
Among other things he read: "For the Honor of the School," "Little
Women" (twice), "The Common Law," "Sapho," "Dangerous Dan McGrew," "The
Broad Highway" (three times), "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Three
Weeks," "Mary Ware, the Little Colonel's Chum," "Gunga Din," The Police
Gazette, and Jim-Jam Jems.
He had all the Henty biasses in history, and was particularly fond of
the cheerful murder stories of Mary Roberts Rinehart.
School ruined his French and gave him a distaste for standard authors.
His masters considered him idle, unreliable and superficially clever.
He collected locks of hair from many girls. He wore the rings of
several. Finally he could borrow no more rings, owing to his nervous
habit of chewing them out of shape. This, it seemed, usually aroused the
jealous suspicions of the next borrower.
All through the summer months Amory and Frog Parker went each week to
the Stock Company. Afterward they would stroll home in the balmy air of
August night, dreaming along Hennepin and Nicollet Avenues, through the
gay crowd. Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a
boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned toward him
and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of
expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of
Always, after he was in bed, there were voices--indefinite, fading,
enchanting--just outside his window, and before he fell asleep he would
dream one of his favorite waking dreams, the one about becoming a great
half-back, or the one about the Japanese invasion, when he was rewarded
by being made the youngest general in the world. It was always
the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. This, too, was quite
characteristic of Amory.
CODE OF THE YOUNG EGOTIST
Before he was summoned back to Lake Geneva, he had appeared, shy but
inwardly glowing, in his first long trousers, set off by a purple
accordion tie and a "Belmont" collar with the edges unassailably
meeting, purple socks, and handkerchief with a purple border peeping
from his breast pocket. But more than that, he had formulated his first
philosophy, a code to live by, which, as near as it can be named, was a
sort of aristocratic egotism.
He had realized that his best interests were bound up with those of a
certain variant, changing person, whose label, in order that his past
might always be identified with him, was Amory Blaine. Amory marked
himself a fortunate youth, capable of infinite expansion for good or
evil. He did not consider himself a "strong char'c'ter," but relied on
his facility (learn things sorta quick) and his superior mentality (read
a lotta deep books). He was proud of the fact that he could never
become a mechanical or scientific genius. From no other heights was he
Physically.--Amory thought that he was exceedingly handsome. He was. He
fancied himself an athlete of possibilities and a supple dancer.
Socially.--Here his condition was, perhaps, most dangerous. He granted
himself personality, charm, magnetism, poise, the power of dominating
all contemporary males, the gift of fascinating all women.
Mentally.--Complete, unquestioned superiority.
Now a confession will have to be made. Amory had rather a Puritan
conscience. Not that he yielded to it--later in life he almost
completely slew it--but at fifteen it made him consider himself a
great deal worse than other boys... unscrupulousness... the desire
to influence people in almost every way, even for evil... a certain
coldness and lack of affection, amounting sometimes to cruelty... a
shifting sense of honor... an unholy selfishness... a puzzled, furtive
interest in everything concerning sex.
There was, also, a curious strain of weakness running crosswise through
his make-up... a harsh phrase from the lips of an older boy (older boys
usually detested him) was liable to sweep him off his poise into surly
sensitiveness, or timid stupidity... he was a slave to his own moods
and he felt that though he was capable of recklessness and audacity, he
possessed neither courage, perseverance, nor self-respect.
Vanity, tempered with self-suspicion if not self-knowledge, a sense of
people as automatons to his will, a desire to "pass" as many boys as
possible and get to a vague top of the world... with this background did
Amory drift into adolescence.
PREPARATORY TO THE GREAT ADVENTURE
The train slowed up with midsummer languor at Lake Geneva, and Amory
caught sight of his mother waiting in her electric on the gravelled
station drive. It was an ancient electric, one of the early types, and
painted gray. The sight of her sitting there, slenderly erect, and
of her face, where beauty and dignity combined, melting to a dreamy
recollected smile, filled him with a sudden great pride of her. As they
kissed coolly and he stepped into the electric, he felt a quick fear
lest he had lost the requisite charm to measure up to her.
"Dear boy--you're "so" tall... look behind and see if there's anything
She looked left and right, she slipped cautiously into a speed of two
miles an hour, beseeching Amory to act as sentinel; and at one busy
crossing she made him get out and run ahead to signal her forward like a
traffic policeman. Beatrice was what might be termed a careful driver.
"You "are" tall--but you're still very handsome--you've skipped the
awkward age, or is that sixteen; perhaps it's fourteen or fifteen; I can
never remember; but you've skipped it."
"Don't embarrass me," murmured Amory.
"But, my dear boy, what odd clothes! They look as if they were a
"set"--don't they? Is your underwear purple, too?"
Amory grunted impolitely.
"You must go to Brooks' and get some really nice suits. Oh, we'll have a
talk to-night or perhaps to-morrow night. I want to tell you about
your heart--you've probably been neglecting your heart--and you don't
Amory thought how superficial was the recent overlay of his own
generation. Aside from a minute shyness, he felt that the old cynical
kinship with his mother had not been one bit broken. Yet for the first
few days he wandered about the gardens and along the shore in a state
of superloneliness, finding a lethargic content in smoking "Bull" at the
garage with one of the chauffeurs.
The sixty acres of the estate were dotted with old and new summer houses
and many fountains and white benches that came suddenly into sight from
foliage-hung hiding-places; there was a great and constantly increasing
family of white cats that prowled the many flower-beds and were
silhouetted suddenly at night against the darkening trees. It was on
one of the shadowy paths that Beatrice at last captured Amory, after Mr.
Blaine had, as usual, retired for the evening to his private library.
After reproving him for avoiding her, she took him for a long
tete-a-tete in the moonlight. He could not reconcile himself to her
beauty, that was mother to his own, the exquisite neck and shoulders,
the grace of a fortunate woman of thirty.
"Amory, dear," she crooned softly, "I had such a strange, weird time
after I left you."
"Did you, Beatrice?"
"When I had my last breakdown"--she spoke of it as a sturdy, gallant
"The doctors told me"--her voice sang on a confidential note--"that if
any man alive had done the consistent drinking that I have, he would
have been physically "shattered", my dear, and in his "grave"--long in
Amory winced, and wondered how this would have sounded to Froggy Parker.
"Yes," continued Beatrice tragically, "I had dreams--wonderful visions."
She pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes. "I saw bronze rivers
lapping marble shores, and great birds that soared through the air,
parti-colored birds with iridescent plumage. I heard strange music and
the flare of barbaric trumpets--what?"
Amory had snickered.
"I said go on, Beatrice."
"That was all--it merely recurred and recurred--gardens that flaunted
coloring against which this would be quite dull, moons that whirled and
swayed, paler than winter moons, more golden than harvest moons--"
"Are you quite well now, Beatrice?"
"Quite well--as well as I will ever be. I am not understood, Amory. I
know that can't express it to you, Amory, but--I am not understood."
Amory was quite moved. He put his arm around his mother, rubbing his
head gently against her shoulder.
"Poor Beatrice--poor Beatrice."
"Tell me about "you", Amory. Did you have two "horrible" years?"
Amory considered lying, and then decided against it.
"No, Beatrice. I enjoyed them. I adapted myself to the bourgeoisie.
I became conventional." He surprised himself by saying that, and he
pictured how Froggy would have gaped.
"Beatrice," he said suddenly, "I want to go away to school. Everybody in
Minneapolis is going to go away to school."
Beatrice showed some alarm.
"But you're only fifteen."
"Yes, but everybody goes away to school at fifteen, and I "want" to,
On Beatrice's suggestion the subject was dropped for the rest of the
walk, but a week later she delighted him by saying:
"Amory, I have decided to let you have your way. If you still want to,
you can go to school."
"To St. Regis's in Connecticut."
Amory felt a quick excitement.
"It's being arranged," continued Beatrice. "It's better that you should
go away. I'd have preferred you to have gone to Eton, and then to Christ
Church, Oxford, but it seems impracticable now--and for the present
we'll let the university question take care of itself."
"What are you going to do, Beatrice?"
"Heaven knows. It seems my fate to fret away my years in this country.
Not for a second do I regret being American--indeed, I think that a
regret typical of very vulgar people, and I feel sure we are the great
coming nation--yet"--and she sighed--"I feel my life should have drowsed
away close to an older, mellower civilization, a land of greens and
Amory did not answer, so his mother continued:
"My regret is that you haven't been abroad, but still, as you are a man,
it's better that you should grow up here under the snarling eagle--is
that the right term?"
Amory agreed that it was. She would not have appreciated the Japanese
"When do I go to school?"
"Next month. You'll have to start East a little early to take your
examinations. After that you'll have a free week, so I want you to go up
the Hudson and pay a visit."
"To Monsignor Darcy, Amory. He wants to see you. He went to Harrow and
then to Yale--became a Catholic. I want him to talk to you--I feel he
can be such a help--" She stroked his auburn hair gently. "Dear Amory,
So early in September Amory, provided with "six suits summer underwear,
six suits winter underwear, one sweater or T shirt, one jersey, one
overcoat, winter, etc.," set out for New England, the land of schools.
There were Andover and Exeter with their memories of New England
dead--large, college-like democracies; St. Mark's, Groton, St.
Regis'--recruited from Boston and the Knickerbocker families of New
York; St. Paul's, with its great rinks; Pomfret and St. George's,
prosperous and well-dressed; Taft and Hotchkiss, which prepared
the wealth of the Middle West for social success at Yale; Pawling,
Westminster, Choate, Kent, and a hundred others; all milling out their
well-set-up, conventional, impressive type, year after year; their
mental stimulus the college entrance exams; their vague purpose set
forth in a hundred circulars as "To impart a Thorough Mental, Moral, and
Physical Training as a Christian Gentleman, to fit the boy for meeting
the problems of his day and generation, and to give a solid foundation
in the Arts and Sciences."
At St. Regis' Amory stayed three days and took his exams with a scoffing
confidence, then doubling back to New York to pay his tutelary visit.
The metropolis, barely glimpsed, made little impression on him, except
for the sense of cleanliness he drew from the tall white buildings seen
from a Hudson River steamboat in the early morning. Indeed, his mind was
so crowded with dreams of athletic prowess at school that he considered
this visit only as a rather tiresome prelude to the great adventure.
This, however, it did not prove to be.
Monsignor Darcy's house was an ancient, rambling structure set on a hill
overlooking the river, and there lived its owner, between his trips to
all parts of the Roman-Catholic world, rather like an exiled Stuart king
waiting to be called to the rule of his land. Monsignor was forty-four
then, and bustling--a trifle too stout for symmetry, with hair the color
of spun gold, and a brilliant, enveloping personality. When he came into
a room clad in his full purple regalia from thatch to toe, he resembled
a Turner sunset, and attracted both admiration and attention. He had
written two novels: one of them violently anti-Catholic, just before his
conversion, and five years later another, in which he had attempted
to turn all his clever jibes against Catholics into even cleverer
innuendoes against Episcopalians. He was intensely ritualistic,
startlingly dramatic, loved the idea of God enough to be a celibate, and
rather liked his neighbor.
Children adored him because he was like a child; youth revelled in his
company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be shocked. In the
proper land and century he might have been a Richelieu--at present he
was a very moral, very religious (if not particularly pious) clergyman,
making a great mystery about pulling rusty wires, and appreciating life
to the fullest, if not entirely enjoying it.
He and Amory took to each other at first sight--the jovial, impressive
prelate who could dazzle an embassy ball, and the green-eyed, intent
youth, in his first long trousers, accepted in their own minds a
relation of father and son within a half-hour's conversation.
"My dear boy, I've been waiting to see you for years. Take a big chair
and we'll have a chat."
"I've just come from school--St. Regis's, you know."
"So your mother says--a remarkable woman; have a cigarette--I'm sure
you smoke. Well, if you're like me, you loathe all science and
Amory nodded vehemently.
"Hate 'em all. Like English and history."
"Of course. You'll hate school for a while, too, but I'm glad you're
going to St. Regis's."
"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you so
early. You'll find plenty of that in college."
"I want to go to Princeton," said Amory. "I don't know why, but I think
of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as
wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes."
"I'm one, you know."
"Oh, you're different--I think of Princeton as being lazy and
good-looking and aristocratic--you know, like a spring day. Harvard
seems sort of indoors--"
"And Yale is November, crisp and energetic," finished Monsignor.
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
"I was for Bonnie Prince Charlie," announced Amory.
"Of course you were--and for Hannibal--"
"Yes, and for the Southern Confederacy." He was rather sceptical about
being an Irish patriot--he suspected that being Irish was being somewhat
common--but Monsignor assured him that Ireland was a romantic lost cause
and Irish people quite charming, and that it should, by all means, be
one of his principal biasses.
After a crowded hour which included several more cigarettes, and during
which Monsignor learned, to his surprise but not to his horror, that
Amory had not been brought up a Catholic, he announced that he had
another guest. This turned out to be the Honorable Thornton Hancock, of
Boston, ex-minister to The Hague, author of an erudite history of the
Middle Ages and the last of a distinguished, patriotic, and brilliant
"He comes here for a rest," said Monsignor confidentially, treating
Amory as a contemporary. "I act as an escape from the weariness of
agnosticism, and I think I'm the only man who knows how his staid old
mind is really at sea and longs for a sturdy spar like the Church to
Their first luncheon was one of the memorable events of Amory's early
life. He was quite radiant and gave off a peculiar brightness and
charm. Monsignor called out the best that he had thought by question and
suggestion, and Amory talked with an ingenious brilliance of a thousand
impulses and desires and repulsions and faiths and fears. He and
Monsignor held the floor, and the older man, with his less receptive,
less accepting, yet certainly not colder mentality, seemed content to
listen and bask in the mellow sunshine that played between these two.
Monsignor gave the effect of sunlight to many people; Amory gave it in
his youth and, to some extent, when he was very much older, but never
again was it quite so mutually spontaneous.
"He's a radiant boy," thought Thornton Hancock, who had seen the
splendor of two continents and talked with Parnell and Gladstone and
Bismarck--and afterward he added to Monsignor: "But his education ought
not to be intrusted to a school or college."
But for the next four years the best of Amory's intellect was
concentrated on matters of popularity, the intricacies of a university
social system and American Society as represented by Biltmore Teas and
Hot Springs golf-links.
... In all, a wonderful week, that saw Amory's mind turned inside out, a
hundred of his theories confirmed, and his joy of life crystallized to
a thousand ambitions. Not that the conversation was scholastic--heaven
forbid! Amory had only the vaguest idea as to what Bernard Shaw was--but
Monsignor made quite as much out of "The Beloved Vagabond" and "Sir
Nigel," taking good care that Amory never once felt out of his depth.
But the trumpets were sounding for Amory's preliminary skirmish with his
"You're not sorry to go, of course. With people like us our home is
where we are not," said Monsignor.
"I "am" sorry--"
"No, you're not. No one person in the world is necessary to you or to
THE EGOTIST DOWN
Amory's two years at St. Regis', though in turn painful and triumphant,
had as little real significance in his own life as the American "prep"
school, crushed as it is under the heel of the universities, has
to American life in general. We have no Eton to create the
self-consciousness of a governing class; we have, instead, clean,
flaccid and innocuous preparatory schools.
He went all wrong at the start, was generally considered both conceited
and arrogant, and universally detested. He played football intensely,
alternating a reckless brilliancy with a tendency to keep himself as
safe from hazard as decency would permit. In a wild panic he backed out
of a fight with a boy his own size, to a chorus of scorn, and a week
later, in desperation, picked a battle with another boy very much
bigger, from which he emerged badly beaten, but rather proud of himself.
He was resentful against all those in authority over him, and this,
combined with a lazy indifference toward his work, exasperated every
master in school. He grew discouraged and imagined himself a pariah;
took to sulking in corners and reading after lights. With a dread of
being alone he attached a few friends, but since they were not among
the elite of the school, he used them simply as mirrors of himself,
audiences before which he might do that posing absolutely essential to
him. He was unbearably lonely, desperately unhappy.
There were some few grains of comfort. Whenever Amory was submerged,
his vanity was the last part to go below the surface, so he could still
enjoy a comfortable glow when "Wookey-wookey," the deaf old housekeeper,
told him that he was the best-looking boy she had ever seen. It had
pleased him to be the lightest and youngest man on the first football
squad; it pleased him when Doctor Dougall told him at the end of a
heated conference that he could, if he wished, get the best marks in
school. But Doctor Dougall was wrong. It was temperamentally impossible
for Amory to get the best marks in school.
Miserable, confined to bounds, unpopular with both faculty and
students--that was Amory's first term. But at Christmas he had returned
to Minneapolis, tight-lipped and strangely jubilant.
"Oh, I was sort of fresh at first," he told Frog Parker patronizingly,
"but I got along fine--lightest man on the squad. You ought to go away
to school, Froggy. It's great stuff."
INCIDENT OF THE WELL-MEANING PROFESSOR
On the last night of his first term, Mr. Margotson, the senior master,
sent word to study hall that Amory was to come to his room at nine.
Amory suspected that advice was forthcoming, but he determined to be
courteous, because this Mr. Margotson had been kindly disposed toward
His summoner received him gravely, and motioned him to a chair. He
hemmed several times and looked consciously kind, as a man will when he
knows he's on delicate ground.
"Amory," he began. "I've sent for you on a personal matter."
"I've noticed you this year and I--I like you. I think you have in you
the makings of a--a very good man."
"Yes, sir," Amory managed to articulate. He hated having people talk as
if he were an admitted failure.
"But I've noticed," continued the older man blindly, "that you're not
very popular with the boys."
"No, sir." Amory licked his lips.
"Ah--I thought you might not understand exactly what it
was they--ah--objected to. I'm going to tell you, because I
believe--ah--that when a boy knows his difficulties he's better able to
cope with them--to conform to what others expect of him." He a-hemmed
again with delicate reticence, and continued: "They seem to think that
you're--ah--rather too fresh--"
Amory could stand no more. He rose from his chair, scarcely controlling
his voice when he spoke.
"I know--oh, "don't" you s'pose I know." His voice rose. "I know what
they think; do you s'pose you have to "tell" me!" He paused. "I'm--I've
got to go back now--hope I'm not rude--"
He left the room hurriedly. In the cool air outside, as he walked to his
house, he exulted in his refusal to be helped.
"That "damn" old fool!" he cried wildly. "As if I didn't "know!""
He decided, however, that this was a good excuse not to go back to study
hall that night, so, comfortably couched up in his room, he munched
Nabiscos and finished "The White Company."
INCIDENT OF THE WONDERFUL GIRL
There was a bright star in February. New York burst upon him on
Washington's Birthday with the brilliance of a long-anticipated event.
His glimpse of it as a vivid whiteness against a deep-blue sky had left
a picture of splendor that rivalled the dream cities in the Arabian
Nights; but this time he saw it by electric light, and romance gleamed
from the chariot-race sign on Broadway and from the women's eyes at the
Astor, where he and young Paskert from St. Regis' had dinner. When they
walked down the aisle of the theatre, greeted by the nervous twanging
and discord of untuned violins and the sensuous, heavy fragrance of
paint and powder, he moved in a sphere of epicurean delight. Everything
enchanted him. The play was "The Little Millionaire," with George M.
Cohan, and there was one stunning young brunette who made him sit with
brimming eyes in the ecstasy of watching her dance.
What a wonderful girl you are--"
sang the tenor, and Amory agreed silently, but passionately.
Thrill me through--"
The violins swelled and quavered on the last notes, the girl sank to a
crumpled butterfly on the stage, a great burst of clapping filled the
house. Oh, to fall in love like that, to the languorous magic melody of
such a tune!
The last scene was laid on a roof-garden, and the 'cellos sighed to the
musical moon, while light adventure and facile froth-like comedy flitted
back and forth in the calcium. Amory was on fire to be an habitui of
roof-gardens, to meet a girl who should look like that--better, that
very girl; whose hair would be drenched with golden moonlight, while at
his elbow sparkling wine was poured by an unintelligible waiter. When
the curtain fell for the last time he gave such a long sigh that the
people in front of him twisted around and stared and said loud enough
for him to hear:
"What a "remarkable"-looking boy!"
This took his mind off the play, and he wondered if he really did seem
handsome to the population of New York.
Paskert and he walked in silence toward their hotel. The former was
the first to speak. His uncertain fifteen-year-old voice broke in in a
melancholy strain on Amory's musings:
"I'd marry that girl to-night."
There was no need to ask what girl he referred to.
"I'd be proud to take her home and introduce her to my people,"
Amory was distinctly impressed. He wished he had said it instead of
Paskert. It sounded so mature.
"I wonder about actresses; are they all pretty bad?"
"No, "sir", not by a darn sight," said the worldly youth with emphasis,
"and I know that girl's as good as gold. I can tell."
They wandered on, mixing in the Broadway crowd, dreaming on the music
that eddied out of the cafes. New faces flashed on and off like
myriad lights, pale or rouged faces, tired, yet sustained by a weary
excitement. Amory watched them in fascination. He was planning his life.
He was going to live in New York, and be known at every restaurant and
cafe, wearing a dress-suit from early evening to early morning, sleeping
away the dull hours of the forenoon.
"Yes, "sir", I'd marry that girl to-night!"
HEROIC IN GENERAL TONE
October of his second and last year at St. Regis' was a high point in
Amory's memory. The game with Groton was played from three of a snappy,
exhilarating afternoon far into the crisp autumnal twilight, and Amory
at quarter-back, exhorting in wild despair, making impossible tackles,
calling signals in a voice that had diminished to a hoarse, furious
whisper, yet found time to revel in the blood-stained bandage around his
head, and the straining, glorious heroism of plunging, crashing bodies
and aching limbs. For those minutes courage flowed like wine out of the
November dusk, and he was the eternal hero, one with the sea-rover on
the prow of a Norse galley, one with Roland and Horatius, Sir Nigel and
Ted Coy, scraped and stripped into trim and then flung by his own will
into the breach, beating back the tide, hearing from afar the thunder of
cheers... finally bruised and weary, but still elusive, circling an end,
twisting, changing pace, straight-arming... falling behind the Groton
goal with two men on his legs, in the only touchdown of the game.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE SLICKER
From the scoffing superiority of sixth-form year and success Amory
looked back with cynical wonder on his status of the year before. He was
changed as completely as Amory Blaine could ever be changed. Amory plus
Beatrice plus two years in Minneapolis--these had been his ingredients
when he entered St. Regis'. But the Minneapolis years were not a thick
enough overlay to conceal the "Amory plus Beatrice" from the ferreting
eyes of a boarding-school, so St. Regis' had very painfully drilled
Beatrice out of him, and begun to lay down new and more conventional
planking on the fundamental Amory. But both St. Regis' and Amory were
unconscious of the fact that this fundamental Amory had not in himself
changed. Those qualities for which he had suffered, his moodiness, his
tendency to pose, his laziness, and his love of playing the fool, were
now taken as a matter of course, recognized eccentricities in a star
quarter-back, a clever actor, and the editor of the St. Regis Tattler:
it puzzled him to see impressionable small boys imitating the very
vanities that had not long ago been contemptible weaknesses.
After the football season he slumped into dreamy content. The night
of the pre-holiday dance he slipped away and went early to bed for the
pleasure of hearing the violin music cross the grass and come surging in
at his window. Many nights he lay there dreaming awake of secret cafes
in Mont Martre, where ivory women delved in romantic mysteries with
diplomats and soldiers of fortune, while orchestras played Hungarian
waltzes and the air was thick and exotic with intrigue and moonlight
and adventure. In the spring he read "L'Allegro," by request, and was
inspired to lyrical outpourings on the subject of Arcady and the pipes
of Pan. He moved his bed so that the sun would wake him at dawn that he
might dress and go out to the archaic swing that hung from an apple-tree
near the sixth-form house. Seating himself in this he would pump higher
and higher until he got the effect of swinging into the wide air, into
a fairyland of piping satyrs and nymphs with the faces of fair-haired
girls he passed in the streets of Eastchester. As the swing reached its
highest point, Arcady really lay just over the brow of a certain hill,
where the brown road dwindled out of sight in a golden dot.
He read voluminously all spring, the beginning of his eighteenth year:
"The Gentleman from Indiana," "The New Arabian Nights," "The Morals
of Marcus Ordeyne," "The Man Who Was Thursday," which he liked without
understanding; "Stover at Yale," that became somewhat of a text-book;
"Dombey and Son," because he thought he really should read better
stuff; Robert Chambers, David Graham Phillips, and E. Phillips Oppenheim
complete, and a scattering of Tennyson and Kipling. Of all his class
work only "L'Allegro" and some quality of rigid clarity in solid
geometry stirred his languid interest.
As June drew near, he felt the need of conversation to formulate his
own ideas, and, to his surprise, found a co-philosopher in Rahill, the
president of the sixth form. In many a talk, on the highroad or lying
belly-down along the edge of the baseball diamond, or late at night with
their cigarettes glowing in the dark, they threshed out the questions of
school, and there was developed the term "slicker."
"Got tobacco?" whispered Rahill one night, putting his head inside the
door five minutes after lights.
"I'm coming in."
"Take a couple of pillows and lie in the window-seat, why don't you."
Amory sat up in bed and lit a cigarette while Rahill settled for a
conversation. Rahill's favorite subject was the respective futures of
the sixth form, and Amory never tired of outlining them for his benefit.
"Ted Converse? 'At's easy. He'll fail his exams, tutor all summer at
Harstrum's, get into Sheff with about four conditions, and flunk out in
the middle of the freshman year. Then he'll go back West and raise hell
for a year or so; finally his father will make him go into the paint
business. He'll marry and have four sons, all bone heads. He'll always
think St. Regis's spoiled him, so he'll send his sons to day school in
Portland. He'll die of locomotor ataxia when he's forty-one, and
his wife will give a baptizing stand or whatever you call it to the
Presbyterian Church, with his name on it--"
"Hold up, Amory. That's too darned gloomy. How about yourself?"
"I'm in a superior class. You are, too. We're philosophers."
"Sure you are. You've got a darn good head on you." But Amory knew that
nothing in the abstract, no theory or generality, ever moved Rahill
until he stubbed his toe upon the concrete minutiae of it.
"Haven't," insisted Rahill. "I let people impose on me here and don't
get anything out of it. I'm the prey of my friends, damn it--do their
lessons, get 'em out of trouble, pay 'em stupid summer visits, and
always entertain their kid sisters; keep my temper when they get selfish
and then they think they pay me back by voting for me and telling me I'm
the 'big man' of St. Regis's. I want to get where everybody does their
own work and I can tell people where to go. I'm tired of being nice to
every poor fish in school."
"You're not a slicker," said Amory suddenly.
"What the devil's that?"
"Well, it's something that--that--there's a lot of them. You're not one,
and neither am I, though I am more than you are."
"Who is one? What makes you one?"
"Why--why, I suppose that the "sign" of it is when a fellow slicks his
hair back with water."
"Yes--sure. He's a slicker."
They spent two evenings getting an exact definition. The slicker was
good-looking or clean-looking; he had brains, social brains, that is,
and he used all means on the broad path of honesty to get ahead,
be popular, admired, and never in trouble. He dressed well, was
particularly neat in appearance, and derived his name from the fact that
his hair was inevitably worn short, soaked in water or tonic, parted
in the middle, and slicked back as the current of fashion dictated. The
slickers of that year had adopted tortoise-shell spectacles as badges
of their slickerhood, and this made them so easy to recognize that Amory
and Rahill never missed one. The slicker seemed distributed through
school, always a little wiser and shrewder than his contemporaries,
managing some team or other, and keeping his cleverness carefully
Amory found the slicker a most valuable classification until his junior
year in college, when the outline became so blurred and indeterminate
that it had to be subdivided many times, and became only a quality.
Amory's secret ideal had all the slicker qualifications, but, in
addition, courage and tremendous brains and talents--also Amory conceded
him a bizarre streak that was quite irreconcilable to the slicker
This was a first real break from the hypocrisy of school tradition. The
slicker was a definite element of success, differing intrinsically from
the prep school "big man."
1. Clever sense of social values.
2. Dresses well. Pretends that dress is superficial--but knows that it isn't.
3. Goes into such activities as he can shine in.
4. Gets to college and is, in a worldly way, successful.
5. Hair slicked.
"THE BIG MAN"
1. Inclined to stupidity and unconscious of social values.
2. Thinks dress is superficial, and is inclined to be
careless about it.
3. Goes out for everything from a sense of duty.
4. Gets to college and has a problematical future. Feels lost
without his circle, and always says that school days were
happiest, after all. Goes back to school and makes speeches
about what St. Regis's boys are doing.
5. Hair not slicked.
Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even though he would be the
only boy entering that year from St. Regis'. Yale had a romance and
glamour from the tales of Minneapolis, and St. Regis' men who had been
"tapped for Skull and Bones," but Princeton drew him most, with
its atmosphere of bright colors and its alluring reputation as the
pleasantest country club in America. Dwarfed by the menacing college
exams, Amory's school days drifted into the past. Years afterward, when
he went back to St. Regis', he seemed to have forgotten the successes
of sixth-form year, and to be able to picture himself only as the
unadjustable boy who had hurried down corridors, jeered at by his rabid
contemporaries mad with common sense.
CHAPTER 2. Spires and Gargoyles
At first Amory noticed only the wealth of sunshine creeping across the
long, green swards, dancing on the leaded window-panes, and swimming
around the tops of spires and towers and battlemented walls.
Gradually he realized that he was really walking up University Place,
self-conscious about his suitcase, developing a new tendency to glare
straight ahead when he passed any one. Several times he could have sworn
that men turned to look at him critically. He wondered vaguely if there
was something the matter with his clothes, and wished he had shaved
that morning on the train. He felt unnecessarily stiff and awkward
among these white-flannelled, bareheaded youths, who must be juniors and
seniors, judging from the savoir faire with which they strolled.
He found that 12 University Place was a large, dilapidated mansion, at
present apparently uninhabited, though he knew it housed usually a dozen
freshmen. After a hurried skirmish with his landlady he sallied out on
a tour of exploration, but he had gone scarcely a block when he became
horribly conscious that he must be the only man in town who was wearing
a hat. He returned hurriedly to 12 University, left his derby,
and, emerging bareheaded, loitered down Nassau Street, stopping to
investigate a display of athletic photographs in a store window,
including a large one of Allenby, the football captain, and next
attracted by the sign "Jigger Shop" over a confectionary window. This
sounded familiar, so he sauntered in and took a seat on a high stool.
"Chocolate sundae," he told a colored person.
"Double chocolate jiggah? Anything else?"
He munched four of these, finding them of pleasing savor, and then
consumed another double-chocolate jigger before ease descended upon him.
After a cursory inspection of the pillow-cases, leather pennants, and
Gibson Girls that lined the walls, he left, and continued along Nassau
Street with his hands in his pockets. Gradually he was learning to
distinguish between upper classmen and entering men, even though the
freshman cap would not appear until the following Monday. Those who were
too obviously, too nervously at home were freshmen, for as each train
brought a new contingent it was immediately absorbed into the hatless,
white-shod, book-laden throng, whose function seemed to be to drift
endlessly up and down the street, emitting great clouds of smoke
from brand-new pipes. By afternoon Amory realized that now the
newest arrivals were taking him for an upper classman, and he tried
conscientiously to look both pleasantly blasé and casually critical,
which was as near as he could analyze the prevalent facial expression.
At five o'clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice, so he
retreated to his house to see if any one else had arrived. Having
climbed the rickety stairs he scrutinized his room resignedly,
concluding that it was hopeless to attempt any more inspired decoration
than class banners and tiger pictures. There was a tap at the door.
A slim face with gray eyes and a humorous smile appeared in the doorway.
"Got a hammer?"
"No--sorry. Maybe Mrs. Twelve, or whatever she goes by, has one."
The stranger advanced into the room.
"You an inmate of this asylum?"
"Awful barn for the rent we pay."
Amory had to agree that it was.
"I thought of the campus," he said, "but they say there's so few
freshmen that they're lost. Have to sit around and study for something
The gray-eyed man decided to introduce himself.
"My name's Holiday."
"Blaine's my name."
They shook hands with the fashionable low swoop. Amory grinned.
"Where'd you prep?"
"Andover--where did you?"
"Oh, did you? I had a cousin there."
They discussed the cousin thoroughly, and then Holiday announced that he
was to meet his brother for dinner at six.
"Come along and have a bite with us."
At the Kenilworth Amory met Burne Holiday--he of the gray eyes was
Kerry--and during a limpid meal of thin soup and anaemic vegetables they
stared at the other freshmen, who sat either in small groups looking
very ill at ease, or in large groups seeming very much at home.
"I hear Commons is pretty bad," said Amory.
"That's the rumor. But you've got to eat there--or pay anyways."
"Oh, at Princeton you've got to swallow everything the first year. It's
like a damned prep school."
"Lot of pep, though," he insisted. "I wouldn't have gone to Yale for a
"You going out for anything?" inquired Amory of the elder brother.
"Not me--Burne here is going out for the Prince--the Daily Princetonian,
"Yes, I know."
"You going out for anything?"
"Why--yes. I'm going to take a whack at freshman football."
"Play at St. Regis's?"
"Some," admitted Amory depreciatingly, "but I'm getting so damned thin."
"You're not thin."
"Well, I used to be stocky last fall."
After supper they attended the movies, where Amory was fascinated by the
glib comments of a man in front of him, as well as by the wild yelling
"Oh, honey-baby--you're so big and strong, but oh, so gentle!"
"Kiss her, kiss 'at lady, quick!"
A group began whistling "By the Sea," and the audience took it up
noisily. This was followed by an indistinguishable song that included
much stamping and then by an endless, incoherent dirge.
She works in a Jam Factoree
But you can't-fool-me
For I know--DAMN--WELL
That she DON'T-make-jam-all-night!
As they pushed out, giving and receiving curious impersonal glances,
Amory decided that he liked the movies, wanted to enjoy them as the row
of upper classmen in front had enjoyed them, with their arms along the
backs of the seats, their comments Gaelic and caustic, their attitude a
mixture of critical wit and tolerant amusement.
"Want a sundae--I mean a jigger?" asked Kerry.
They suppered heavily and then, still sauntering, eased back to 12.
"It's a whiz."
"You men going to unpack?"
"Guess so. Come on, Burne."
Amory decided to sit for a while on the front steps, so he bade them
The great tapestries of trees had darkened to ghosts back at the last
edge of twilight. The early moon had drenched the arches with pale blue,
and, weaving over the night, in and out of the gossamer rifts of moon,
swept a song, a song with more than a hint of sadness, infinitely
transient, infinitely regretful.
He remembered that an alumnus of the nineties had told him of one of
Booth Tarkington's amusements: standing in mid-campus in the small hours
and singing tenor songs to the stars, arousing mingled emotions in the
couched undergraduates according to the sentiment of their moods.
Now, far down the shadowy line of University Place a white-clad phalanx
broke the gloom, and marching figures, white-shirted, white-trousered,
swung rhythmically up the street, with linked arms and heads thrown
"Going back--going back,
Going back--going back--
Going back--going back,
Amory closed his eyes as the ghostly procession drew near. The song
soared so high that all dropped out except the tenors, who bore the
melody triumphantly past the danger-point and relinquished it to the
fantastic chorus. Then Amory opened his eyes, half afraid that sight
would spoil the rich illusion of harmony.
He sighed eagerly. There at the head of the white platoon marched
Allenby, the football captain, slim and defiant, as if aware that this
year the hopes of the college rested on him, that his hundred-and-sixty
pounds were expected to dodge to victory through the heavy blue and
Fascinated, Amory watched each rank of linked arms as it came abreast,
the faces indistinct above the polo shirts, the voices blent in a paean
of triumph--and then the procession passed through shadowy Campbell
Arch, and the voices grew fainter as it wound eastward over the campus.
The minutes passed and Amory sat there very quietly. He regretted the
rule that would forbid freshmen to be outdoors after curfew, for he
wanted to ramble through the shadowy scented lanes, where Witherspoon
brooded like a dark mother over Whig and Clio, her Attic children, where
the black Gothic snake of Little curled down to Cuyler and Patton, these
in turn flinging the mystery out over the placid slope rolling to the
Princeton of the daytime filtered slowly into his consciousness--West
and Reunion, redolent of the sixties, Seventy-nine Hall, brick-red and
arrogant, Upper and Lower Pyne, aristocratic Elizabethan ladies not
quite content to live among shopkeepers, and, topping all, climbing with
clear blue aspiration, the great dreaming spires of Holder and Cleveland
From the first he loved Princeton--its lazy beauty, its half-grasped
significance, the wild moonlight revel of the rushes, the handsome,
prosperous big-game crowds, and under it all the air of struggle that
pervaded his class. From the day when, wild-eyed and exhausted, the
jerseyed freshmen sat in the gymnasium and elected some one from Hill
School class president, a Lawrenceville celebrity vice-president, a
hockey star from St. Paul's secretary, up until the end of sophomore
year it never ceased, that breathless social system, that worship,
seldom named, never really admitted, of the bogey "Big Man."
First it was schools, and Amory, alone from St. Regis', watched the
crowds form and widen and form again; St. Paul's, Hill, Pomfret, eating
at certain tacitly reserved tables in Commons, dressing in their own
corners of the gymnasium, and drawing unconsciously about them a barrier
of the slightly less important but socially ambitious to protect them
from the friendly, rather puzzled high-school element. From the
moment he realized this Amory resented social barriers as artificial
distinctions made by the strong to bolster up their weak retainers and
keep out the almost strong.
Having decided to be one of the gods of the class, he reported
for freshman football practice, but in the second week, playing
quarter-back, already paragraphed in corners of the Princetonian, he
wrenched his knee seriously enough to put him out for the rest of the
season. This forced him to retire and consider the situation.
"12 Univee" housed a dozen miscellaneous question-marks. There were
three or four inconspicuous and quite startled boys from Lawrenceville,
two amateur wild men from a New York private school (Kerry Holiday
christened them the "plebeian drunks"), a Jewish youth, also from New
York, and, as compensation for Amory, the two Holidays, to whom he took
an instant fancy.
The Holidays were rumored twins, but really the dark-haired one, Kerry,
was a year older than his blond brother, Burne. Kerry was tall, with
humorous gray eyes, and a sudden, attractive smile; he became at once
the mentor of the house, reaper of ears that grew too high, censor of
conceit, vendor of rare, satirical humor. Amory spread the table of
their future friendship with all his ideas of what college should and
did mean. Kerry, not inclined as yet to take things seriously, chided
him gently for being curious at this inopportune time about the
intricacies of the social system, but liked him and was both interested
Burne, fair-haired, silent, and intent, appeared in the house only as a
busy apparition, gliding in quietly at night and off again in the
early morning to get up his work in the library--he was out for the
Princetonian, competing furiously against forty others for the coveted
first place. In December he came down with diphtheria, and some one
else won the competition, but, returning to college in February,
he dauntlessly went after the prize again. Necessarily, Amory's
acquaintance with him was in the way of three-minute chats, walking
to and from lectures, so he failed to penetrate Burne's one absorbing
interest and find what lay beneath it.
Amory was far from contented. He missed the place he had won at St.
Regis', the being known and admired, yet Princeton stimulated him, and
there were many things ahead calculated to arouse the Machiavelli latent
in him, could he but insert a wedge. The upper-class clubs, concerning
which he had pumped a reluctant graduate during the previous summer,
excited his curiosity: Ivy, detached and breathlessly aristocratic;
Cottage, an impressive mélange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed
philanderers; Tiger Inn, broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by
an honest elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown,
anti-alcoholic, faintly religious and politically powerful; flamboyant
Colonial; literary Quadrangle; and the dozen others, varying in age and
Anything which brought an under classman into too glaring a light was
labelled with the damning brand of "running it out." The movies thrived
on caustic comments, but the men who made them were generally running
it out; talking of clubs was running it out; standing for anything
very strongly, as, for instance, drinking parties or teetotalling,
was running it out; in short, being personally conspicuous was not
tolerated, and the influential man was the non-committal man, until at
club elections in sophomore year every one should be sewed up in some
bag for the rest of his college career.
Amory found that writing for the Nassau Literary Magazine would get him
nothing, but that being on the board of the Daily Princetonian would
get any one a good deal. His vague desire to do immortal acting with
the English Dramatic Association faded out when he found that the most
ingenious brains and talents were concentrated upon the Triangle Club, a
musical comedy organization that every year took a great Christmas trip.
In the meanwhile, feeling strangely alone and restless in Commons, with
new desires and ambitions stirring in his mind, he let the first term go
by between an envy of the embryo successes and a puzzled fretting with
Kerry as to why they were not accepted immediately among the elite of
Many afternoons they lounged in the windows of 12 Univee and watched
the class pass to and from Commons, noting satellites already attaching
themselves to the more prominent, watching the lonely grind with his
hurried step and downcast eye, envying the happy security of the big
"We're the damned middle class, that's what!" he complained to Kerry one
day as he lay stretched out on the sofa, consuming a family of Fatimas
with contemplative precision.
"Well, why not? We came to Princeton so we could feel that way toward
the small colleges--have it on 'em, more self-confidence, dress better,
cut a swathe--"
"Oh, it isn't that I mind the glittering caste system," admitted Amory.
"I like having a bunch of hot cats on top, but gosh, Kerry, I've got to
be one of them."
"But just now, Amory, you're only a sweaty bourgeois."
Amory lay for a moment without speaking.
"I won't be--long," he said finally. "But I hate to get anywhere by
working for it. I'll show the marks, don't you know."
"Honorable scars." Kerry craned his neck suddenly at the street.
"There's Langueduc, if you want to see what he looks like--and Humbird
Amory rose dynamically and sought the windows.
"Oh," he said, scrutinizing these worthies, "Humbird looks like a
knock-out, but this Langueduc--he's the rugged type, isn't he? I
distrust that sort. All diamonds look big in the rough."
"Well," said Kerry, as the excitement subsided, "you're a literary
genius. It's up to you."
"I wonder"--Amory paused--"if I could be. I honestly think so sometimes.
That sounds like the devil, and I wouldn't say it to anybody except
"Well--go ahead. Let your hair grow and write poems like this guy
D'Invilliers in the Lit."
Amory reached lazily at a pile of magazines on the table.
"Read his latest effort?"
"Never miss 'em. They're rare."
Amory glanced through the issue.
"Hello!" he said in surprise, "he's a freshman, isn't he?"
"Listen to this! My God!
"'A serving lady speaks:
Black velvet trails its folds over the day,
White tapers, prisoned in their silver frames,
Wave their thin flames like shadows in the wind,
Pia, Pompia, come--come away--'
"Now, what the devil does that mean?"
"It's a pantry scene."
"'Her toes are stiffened like a stork's in flight;
She's laid upon her bed, on the white sheets,
Her hands pressed on her smooth bust like a saint,
Bella Cunizza, come into the light!'
"My gosh, Kerry, what in hell is it all about? I swear I don't get him
at all, and I'm a literary bird myself."
"It's pretty tricky," said Kerry, "only you've got to think of hearses
and stale milk when you read it. That isn't as pash as some of them."
Amory tossed the magazine on the table.
"Well," he sighed, "I sure am up in the air. I know I'm not a regular
fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't decide whether to
cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist, or to thumb my nose at the
Golden Treasury and be a Princeton slicker."
"Why decide?" suggested Kerry. "Better drift, like me. I'm going to sail
into prominence on Burne's coat-tails."
"I can't drift--I want to be interested. I want to pull strings, even
for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle president. I
want to be admired, Kerry."
"You're thinking too much about yourself."
Amory sat up at this.
"No. I'm thinking about you, too. We've got to get out and mix around
the class right now, when it's fun to be a snob. I'd like to bring a
sardine to the prom in June, for instance, but I wouldn't do it unless
I could be damn debonaire about it--introduce her to all the prize
parlor-snakes, and the football captain, and all that simple stuff."
"Amory," said Kerry impatiently, "you're just going around in a circle.
If you want to be prominent, get out and try for something; if you
don't, just take it easy." He yawned. "Come on, let's let the smoke
drift off. We'll go down and watch football practice."
Amory gradually accepted this point of view, decided that next fall
would inaugurate his career, and relinquished himself to watching Kerry
extract joy from 12 Univee.
They filled the Jewish youth's bed with lemon pie; they put out the gas
all over the house every night by blowing into the jet in Amory's room,
to the bewilderment of Mrs. Twelve and the local plumber; they set up
the effects of the plebeian drunks--pictures, books, and furniture--in
the bathroom, to the confusion of the pair, who hazily discovered
the transposition on their return from a Trenton spree; they were
disappointed beyond measure when the plebeian drunks decided to take it
as a joke; they played red-dog and twenty-one and jackpot from dinner
to dawn, and on the occasion of one man's birthday persuaded him to buy
sufficient champagne for a hilarious celebration. The donor of the party
having remained sober, Kerry and Amory accidentally dropped him down two
flights of stairs and called, shame-faced and penitent, at the infirmary
all the following week.
"Say, who are all these women?" demanded Kerry one day, protesting
at the size of Amory's mail. "I've been looking at the postmarks
lately--Farmington and Dobbs and Westover and Dana Hall--what's the
"All from the Twin Cities." He named them off. "There's Marylyn De
Witt--she's pretty, got a car of her own and that's damn convenient;
there's Sally Weatherby--she's getting too fat; there's Myra St. Claire,
she's an old flame, easy to kiss if you like it--"
"What line do you throw 'em?" demanded Kerry. "I've tried everything,
and the mad wags aren't even afraid of me."
"You're the 'nice boy' type," suggested Amory.
"That's just it. Mother always feels the girl is safe if she's with me.
Honestly, it's annoying. If I start to hold somebody's hand, they laugh
at me, and let me, just as if it wasn't part of them. As soon as I get
hold of a hand they sort of disconnect it from the rest of them."
"Sulk," suggested Amory. "Tell 'em you're wild and have 'em reform
you--go home furious--come back in half an hour--startle 'em."
Kerry shook his head.
"No chance. I wrote a St. Timothy girl a really loving letter last year.
In one place I got rattled and said: 'My God, how I love you!' She took
a nail scissors, clipped out the 'My God' and showed the rest of the
letter all over school. Doesn't work at all. I'm just 'good old Kerry'
and all that rot."
Amory smiled and tried to picture himself as "good old Amory." He failed
February dripped snow and rain, the cyclonic freshman mid-years passed,
and life in 12 Univee continued interesting if not purposeful. Once a
day Amory indulged in a club sandwich, cornflakes, and Julienne potatoes
at "Joe's," accompanied usually by Kerry or Alec Connage. The latter was
a quiet, rather aloof slicker from Hotchkiss, who lived next door and
shared the same enforced singleness as Amory, due to the fact that
his entire class had gone to Yale. "Joe's" was unaesthetic and faintly
unsanitary, but a limitless charge account could be opened there, a
convenience that Amory appreciated. His father had been experimenting
with mining stocks and, in consequence, his allowance, while liberal,
was not at all what he had expected.
"Joe's" had the additional advantage of seclusion from curious
upper-class eyes, so at four each afternoon Amory, accompanied by friend
or book, went up to experiment with his digestion. One day in March,
finding that all the tables were occupied, he slipped into a chair
opposite a freshman who bent intently over a book at the last table.
They nodded briefly. For twenty minutes Amory sat consuming bacon buns
and reading "Mrs. Warren's Profession" (he had discovered Shaw quite
by accident while browsing in the library during mid-years); the other
freshman, also intent on his volume, meanwhile did away with a trio of
chocolate malted milks.
By and by Amory's eyes wandered curiously to his fellow-luncher's book.
He spelled out the name and title upside down--"Marpessa," by Stephen
Phillips. This meant nothing to him, his metrical education having been
confined to such Sunday classics as "Come into the Garden, Maude," and
what morsels of Shakespeare and Milton had been recently forced upon
Moved to address his vis-a-vis, he simulated interest in his book for a
moment, and then exclaimed aloud as if involuntarily:
"Ha! Great stuff!"
The other freshman looked up and Amory registered artificial
"Are you referring to your bacon buns?" His cracked, kindly voice
went well with the large spectacles and the impression of a voluminous
keenness that he gave.
"No," Amory answered. "I was referring to Bernard Shaw." He turned the
book around in explanation.
"I've never read any Shaw. I've always meant to." The boy paused and
then continued: "Did you ever read Stephen Phillips, or do you like
"Yes, indeed," Amory affirmed eagerly. "I've never read much of
Phillips, though." (He had never heard of any Phillips except the late
"It's pretty fair, I think. Of course he's a Victorian." They sallied
into a discussion of poetry, in the course of which they introduced
themselves, and Amory's companion proved to be none other than "that
awful highbrow, Thomas Parke D'Invilliers," who signed the passionate
love-poems in the Lit. He was, perhaps, nineteen, with stooped
shoulders, pale blue eyes, and, as Amory could tell from his general
appearance, without much conception of social competition and such
phenomena of absorbing interest. Still, he liked books, and it seemed
forever since Amory had met any one who did; if only that St. Paul's
crowd at the next table would not mistake "him" for a bird, too, he
would enjoy the encounter tremendously. They didn't seem to be noticing,
so he let himself go, discussed books by the dozens--books he had read,
read about, books he had never heard of, rattling off lists of titles
with the facility of a Brentano's clerk. D'Invilliers was partially
taken in and wholly delighted. In a good-natured way he had almost
decided that Princeton was one part deadly Philistines and one part
deadly grinds, and to find a person who could mention Keats without
stammering, yet evidently washed his hands, was rather a treat.
"Ever read any Oscar Wilde?" he asked.
"No. Who wrote it?"
"It's a man--don't you know?"
"Oh, surely." A faint chord was struck in Amory's memory. "Wasn't the
comic opera, 'Patience,' written about him?"
"Yes, that's the fella. I've just finished a book of his, 'The Picture
of Dorian Gray,' and I certainly wish you'd read it. You'd like it. You
can borrow it if you want to."
"Why, I'd like it a lot--thanks."
"Don't you want to come up to the room? I've got a few other books."
Amory hesitated, glanced at the St. Paul's group--one of them was the
magnificent, exquisite Humbird--and he considered how determinate the
addition of this friend would be. He never got to the stage of making
them and getting rid of them--he was not hard enough for that--so he
measured Thomas Parke D'Invilliers' undoubted attractions and value
against the menace of cold eyes behind tortoise-rimmed spectacles that
he fancied glared from the next table.
"Yes, I'll go."
So he found "Dorian Gray" and the "Mystic and Somber Dolores" and the
"Belle Dame sans Merci"; for a month was keen on naught else. The world
became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look at Princeton
through the satiated eyes of Oscar Wilde and Swinburne--or "Fingal
O'Flaherty" and "Algernon Charles," as he called them in precieuse jest.
He read enormously every night--Shaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats,
Synge, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh
Benson, the Savoy Operas--just a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly
discovered that he had read nothing for years.
Tom D'Invilliers became at first an occasion rather than a friend. Amory
saw him about once a week, and together they gilded the ceiling of
Tom's room and decorated the walls with imitation tapestry, bought at
an auction, tall candlesticks and figured curtains. Amory liked him for
being clever and literary without effeminacy or affectation. In fact,
Amory did most of the strutting and tried painfully to make every remark
an epigram, than which, if one is content with ostensible epigrams,
there are many feats harder. 12 Univee was amused. Kerry read "Dorian
Gray" and simulated Lord Henry, following Amory about, addressing him
as "Dorian" and pretending to encourage in him wicked fancies and
attenuated tendencies to ennui. When he carried it into Commons, to the
amazement of the others at table, Amory became furiously embarrassed,
and after that made epigrams only before D'Invilliers or a convenient
One day Tom and Amory tried reciting their own and Lord Dunsany's poems
to the music of Kerry's graphophone.
"Chant!" cried Tom. "Don't recite! Chant!"
Amory, who was performing, looked annoyed, and claimed that he needed
a record with less piano in it. Kerry thereupon rolled on the floor in
"Put on 'Hearts and Flowers'!" he howled. "Oh, my Lord, I'm going to
cast a kitten."
"Shut off the damn graphophone," Amory cried, rather red in the face.
"I'm not giving an exhibition."
In the meanwhile Amory delicately kept trying to awaken a sense of the
social system in D'Invilliers, for he knew that this poet was really
more conventional than he, and needed merely watered hair, a smaller
range of conversation, and a darker brown hat to become quite regular.
But the liturgy of Livingstone collars and dark ties fell on heedless
ears; in fact D'Invilliers faintly resented his efforts; so Amory
confined himself to calls once a week, and brought him occasionally to
12 Univee. This caused mild titters among the other freshmen, who called
them "Doctor Johnson and Boswell."
Alec Connage, another frequent visitor, liked him in a vague way, but
was afraid of him as a highbrow. Kerry, who saw through his poetic
patter to the solid, almost respectable depths within, was immensely
amused and would have him recite poetry by the hour, while he lay with
closed eyes on Amory's sofa and listened:
"Asleep or waking is it? for her neck
Kissed over close, wears yet a purple speck
Wherein the pained blood falters and goes out;
Soft and stung softly--fairer for a fleck..."
"That's good," Kerry would say softly. "It pleases the elder Holiday.
That's a great poet, I guess." Tom, delighted at an audience, would
ramble through the "Poems and Ballades" until Kerry and Amory knew them
almost as well as he.
Amory took to writing poetry on spring afternoons, in the gardens of the
big estates near Princeton, while swans made effective atmosphere in the
artificial pools, and slow clouds sailed harmoniously above the willows.
May came too soon, and suddenly unable to bear walls, he wandered the
campus at all hours through starlight and rain.
A DAMP SYMBOLIC INTERLUDE
The night mist fell. From the moon it rolled, clustered about the spires
and towers, and then settled below them, so that the dreaming peaks were
still in lofty aspiration toward the sky. Figures that dotted the
day like ants now brushed along as shadowy ghosts, in and out of
the foreground. The Gothic halls and cloisters were infinitely more
mysterious as they loomed suddenly out of the darkness, outlined each by
myriad faint squares of yellow light. Indefinitely from somewhere a bell
boomed the quarter-hour, and Amory, pausing by the sun-dial, stretched
himself out full length on the damp grass. The cool bathed his eyes and
slowed the flight of time--time that had crept so insidiously through
the lazy April afternoons, seemed so intangible in the long spring
twilights. Evening after evening the senior singing had drifted over the
campus in melancholy beauty, and through the shell of his undergraduate
consciousness had broken a deep and reverent devotion to the gray walls
and Gothic peaks and all they symbolized as warehouses of dead ages.
The tower that in view of his window sprang upward, grew into a spire,
yearning higher until its uppermost tip was half invisible against
the morning skies, gave him the first sense of the transiency and
unimportance of the campus figures except as holders of the apostolic
succession. He liked knowing that Gothic architecture, with its upward
trend, was peculiarly appropriate to universities, and the idea became
personal to him. The silent stretches of green, the quiet halls with
an occasional late-burning scholastic light held his imagination in
a strong grasp, and the chastity of the spire became a symbol of this
"Damn it all," he whispered aloud, wetting his hands in the damp and
running them through his hair. "Next year I work!" Yet he knew that
where now the spirit of spires and towers made him dreamily acquiescent,
it would then overawe him. Where now he realized only his own
inconsequence, effort would make him aware of his own impotency and
The college dreamed on--awake. He felt a nervous excitement that might
have been the very throb of its slow heart. It was a stream where he was
to throw a stone whose faint ripple would be vanishing almost as it left
his hand. As yet he had given nothing, he had taken nothing.
A belated freshman, his oilskin slicker rasping loudly, slushed along
the soft path. A voice from somewhere called the inevitable formula,
"Stick out your head!" below an unseen window. A hundred little sounds
of the current drifting on under the fog pressed in finally on his
"Oh, God!" he cried suddenly, and started at the sound of his voice
in the stillness. The rain dripped on. A minute longer he lay without
moving, his hands clinched. Then he sprang to his feet and gave his
clothes a tentative pat.
"I'm very damn wet!" he said aloud to the sun-dial.
The war began in the summer following his freshman year. Beyond a
sporting interest in the German dash for Paris the whole affair failed
either to thrill or interest him. With the attitude he might have held
toward an amusing melodrama he hoped it would be long and bloody. If it
had not continued he would have felt like an irate ticket-holder at a
prize-fight where the principals refused to mix it up.
That was his total reaction.
"All right, ponies!"
"Shake it up!"
"Hey, ponies--how about easing up on that crap game and shaking a mean
The coach fumed helplessly, the Triangle Club president, glowering
with anxiety, varied between furious bursts of authority and fits of
temperamental lassitude, when he sat spiritless and wondered how the
devil the show was ever going on tour by Christmas.
"All right. We'll take the pirate song."
The ponies took last drags at their cigarettes and slumped into place;
the leading lady rushed into the foreground, setting his hands and feet
in an atmospheric mince; and as the coach clapped and stamped and tumped
and da-da'd, they hashed out a dance.
A great, seething ant-hill was the Triangle Club. It gave a musical
comedy every year, travelling with cast, chorus, orchestra, and scenery
all through Christmas vacation. The play and music were the work
of undergraduates, and the club itself was the most influential of
institutions, over three hundred men competing for it every year.
Amory, after an easy victory in the first sophomore Princetonian
competition, stepped into a vacancy of the cast as Boiling Oil, a Pirate
Lieutenant. Every night for the last week they had rehearsed "Ha-Ha
Hortense!" in the Casino, from two in the afternoon until eight in the
morning, sustained by dark and powerful coffee, and sleeping in
lectures through the interim. A rare scene, the Casino. A big, barnlike
auditorium, dotted with boys as girls, boys as pirates, boys as babies;
the scenery in course of being violently set up; the spotlight man
rehearsing by throwing weird shafts into angry eyes; over all the
constant tuning of the orchestra or the cheerful tumpty-tump of a
Triangle tune. The boy who writes the lyrics stands in the corner,
biting a pencil, with twenty minutes to think of an encore; the business
manager argues with the secretary as to how much money can be spent
on "those damn milkmaid costumes"; the old graduate, president in
ninety-eight, perches on a box and thinks how much simpler it was in his
How a Triangle show ever got off was a mystery, but it was a riotous
mystery, anyway, whether or not one did enough service to wear a little
gold Triangle on his watch-chain. "Ha-Ha Hortense!" was written over
six times and had the names of nine collaborators on the programme. All
Triangle shows started by being "something different--not just a regular
musical comedy," but when the several authors, the president, the coach
and the faculty committee finished with it, there remained just the old
reliable Triangle show with the old reliable jokes and the star comedian
who got expelled or sick or something just before the trip, and the
dark-whiskered man in the pony-ballet, who "absolutely won't shave twice
a day, doggone it!"
There was one brilliant place in "Ha-Ha Hortense!" It is a Princeton
tradition that whenever a Yale man who is a member of the widely
advertised "Skull and Bones" hears the sacred name mentioned, he must
leave the room. It is also a tradition that the members are invariably
successful in later life, amassing fortunes or votes or coupons or
whatever they choose to amass. Therefore, at each performance of "Ha-Ha
Hortense!" half-a-dozen seats were kept from sale and occupied by six
of the worst-looking vagabonds that could be hired from the streets,
further touched up by the Triangle make-up man. At the moment in the
show where Firebrand, the Pirate Chief, pointed at his black flag and
said, "I am a Yale graduate--note my Skull and Bones!"--at this very
moment the six vagabonds were instructed to rise "conspicuously" and
leave the theatre with looks of deep melancholy and an injured dignity.
It was claimed though never proved that on one occasion the hired Elis
were swelled by one of the real thing.
They played through vacation to the fashionable of eight cities. Amory
liked Louisville and Memphis best: these knew how to meet strangers,
furnished extraordinary punch, and flaunted an astonishing array
of feminine beauty. Chicago he approved for a certain verve that
transcended its loud accent--however, it was a Yale town, and as the
Yale Glee Club was expected in a week the Triangle received only divided
homage. In Baltimore, Princeton was at home, and every one fell in love.
There was a proper consumption of strong waters all along the line; one
man invariably went on the stage highly stimulated, claiming that his
particular interpretation of the part required it. There were three
private cars; however, no one slept except in the third car, which
was called the "animal car," and where were herded the spectacled
wind-jammers of the orchestra. Everything was so hurried that there
was no time to be bored, but when they arrived in Philadelphia, with
vacation nearly over, there was rest in getting out of the heavy
atmosphere of flowers and grease-paint, and the ponies took off their
corsets with abdominal pains and sighs of relief.
When the disbanding came, Amory set out post haste for Minneapolis, for
Sally Weatherby's cousin, Isabelle Borge, was coming to spend the winter
in Minneapolis while her parents went abroad. He remembered Isabelle
only as a little girl with whom he had played sometimes when he first
went to Minneapolis. She had gone to Baltimore to live--but since then
she had developed a past.
Amory was in full stride, confident, nervous, and jubilant. Scurrying
back to Minneapolis to see a girl he had known as a child seemed the
interesting and romantic thing to do, so without compunction he wired
his mother not to expect him... sat in the train, and thought about
himself for thirty-six hours.
On the Triangle trip Amory had come into constant contact with that
great current American phenomenon, the "petting party."
None of the Victorian mothers--and most of the mothers were
Victorian--had any idea how casually their daughters were accustomed to
be kissed. "Servant-girls are that way," says Mrs. Huston-Carmelite to
her popular daughter. "They are kissed first and proposed to afterward."
But the Popular Daughter becomes engaged every six months between
sixteen and twenty-two, when she arranges a match with young Hambell, of
Cambell & Hambell, who fatuously considers himself her first love, and
between engagements the P. D. (she is selected by the cut-in system at
dances, which favors the survival of the fittest) has other sentimental
last kisses in the moonlight, or the firelight, or the outer darkness.
Amory saw girls doing things that even in his memory would have been
impossible: eating three-o'clock, after-dance suppers in impossible
cafes, talking of every side of life with an air half of earnestness,
half of mockery, yet with a furtive excitement that Amory considered
stood for a real moral let-down. But he never realized how wide-spread
it was until he saw the cities between New York and Chicago as one vast
Afternoon at the Plaza, with winter twilight hovering outside and faint
drums down-stairs... they strut and fret in the lobby, taking another
cocktail, scrupulously attired and waiting. Then the swinging doors
revolve and three bundles of fur mince in. The theatre comes afterward;
then a table at the Midnight Frolic--of course, mother will be along
there, but she will serve only to make things more secretive and
brilliant as she sits in solitary state at the deserted table and thinks
such entertainments as this are not half so bad as they are painted,
only rather wearying. But the P. D. is in love again... it was odd,
wasn't it?--that though there was so much room left in the taxi the P.
D. and the boy from Williams were somehow crowded out and had to go in a
separate car. Odd! Didn't you notice how flushed the P. D. was when she
arrived just seven minutes late? But the P. D. "gets away with it."
The "belle" had become the "flirt," the "flirt" had become the "baby
vamp." The "belle" had five or six callers every afternoon. If the P.
D., by some strange accident, has two, it is made pretty uncomfortable
for the one who hasn't a date with her. The "belle" was surrounded by
a dozen men in the intermissions between dances. Try to find the P. D.
between dances, just "try" to find her.
The same girl... deep in an atmosphere of jungle music and the
questioning of moral codes. Amory found it rather fascinating to feel
that any popular girl he met before eight he might quite possibly kiss
"Why on earth are we here?" he asked the girl with the green combs one
night as they sat in some one's limousine, outside the Country Club in
"I don't know. I'm just full of the devil."
"Let's be frank--we'll never see each other again. I wanted to come out
here with you because I thought you were the best-looking girl in sight.
You really don't care whether you ever see me again, do you?"
"No--but is this your line for every girl? What have I done to deserve
"And you didn't feel tired dancing or want a cigarette or any of the
things you said? You just wanted to be--"
"Oh, let's go in," she interrupted, "if you want to "analyze". Let's not
"talk" about it."
When the hand-knit, sleeveless jerseys were stylish, Amory, in a burst
of inspiration, named them "petting shirts." The name travelled from
coast to coast on the lips of parlor-snakes and P. D.'s.
Amory was now eighteen years old, just under six feet tall and
exceptionally, but not conventionally, handsome. He had rather a young
face, the ingenuousness of which was marred by the penetrating green
eyes, fringed with long dark eyelashes. He lacked somehow that intense
animal magnetism that so often accompanies beauty in men or women; his
personality seemed rather a mental thing, and it was not in his power
to turn it on and off like a water-faucet. But people never forgot his
She paused at the top of the staircase. The sensations attributed to
divers on spring-boards, leading ladies on opening nights, and lumpy,
husky young men on the day of the Big Game, crowded through her. She
should have descended to a burst of drums or a discordant blend of
themes from "Thais" and "Carmen." She had never been so curious about
her appearance, she had never been so satisfied with it. She had been
sixteen years old for six months.
"Isabelle!" called her cousin Sally from the doorway of the
"I'm ready." She caught a slight lump of nervousness in her throat.
"I had to send back to the house for another pair of slippers. It'll be
just a minute."
Isabelle started toward the dressing-room for a last peek in the mirror,
but something decided her to stand there and gaze down the broad stairs
of the Minnehaha Club. They curved tantalizingly, and she could catch
just a glimpse of two pairs of masculine feet in the hall below.
Pump-shod in uniform black, they gave no hint of identity, but she
wondered eagerly if one pair were attached to Amory Blaine. This young
man, not as yet encountered, had nevertheless taken up a considerable
part of her day--the first day of her arrival. Coming up in the machine
from the station, Sally had volunteered, amid a rain of question,
comment, revelation, and exaggeration:
"You remember Amory Blaine, of "course". Well, he's simply mad to
see you again. He's stayed over a day from college, and he's coming
to-night. He's heard so much about you--says he remembers your eyes."
This had pleased Isabelle. It put them on equal terms, although she
was quite capable of staging her own romances, with or without advance
advertising. But following her happy tremble of anticipation, came a
sinking sensation that made her ask:
"How do you mean he's heard about me? What sort of things?"
Sally smiled. She felt rather in the capacity of a showman with her more
"He knows you're--you're considered beautiful and all that"--she
paused--"and I guess he knows you've been kissed."
At this Isabelle's little fist had clinched suddenly under the fur robe.
She was accustomed to be thus followed by her desperate past, and it
never failed to rouse in her the same feeling of resentment; yet--in a
strange town it was an advantageous reputation. She was a "Speed," was
she? Well--let them find out.
Out of the window Isabelle watched the snow glide by in the frosty
morning. It was ever so much colder here than in Baltimore; she had
not remembered; the glass of the side door was iced, the windows
were shirred with snow in the corners. Her mind played still with one
subject. Did "he" dress like that boy there, who walked calmly down a
bustling business street, in moccasins and winter-carnival costume? How
very "Western!" Of course he wasn't that way: he went to Princeton, was
a sophomore or something. Really she had no distinct idea of him. An
ancient snap-shot she had preserved in an old kodak book had impressed
her by the big eyes (which he had probably grown up to by now). However,
in the last month, when her winter visit to Sally had been decided on,
he had assumed the proportions of a worthy adversary. Children, most
astute of match-makers, plot their campaigns quickly, and Sally
had played a clever correspondence sonata to Isabelle's excitable
temperament. Isabelle had been for some time capable of very strong, if
very transient emotions....
They drew up at a spreading, white-stone building, set back from the
snowy street. Mrs. Weatherby greeted her warmly and her various younger
cousins were produced from the corners where they skulked politely.
Isabelle met them tactfully. At her best she allied all with whom she
came in contact--except older girls and some women. All the impressions
she made were conscious. The half-dozen girls she renewed acquaintance
with that morning were all rather impressed and as much by her direct
personality as by her reputation. Amory Blaine was an open subject.
Evidently a bit light of love, neither popular nor unpopular--every girl
there seemed to have had an affair with him at some time or other, but
no one volunteered any really useful information. He was going to fall
for her.... Sally had published that information to her young set
and they were retailing it back to Sally as fast as they set eyes on
Isabelle. Isabelle resolved secretly that she would, if necessary,
"force" herself to like him--she owed it to Sally. Suppose she were
terribly disappointed. Sally had painted him in such glowing colors--he
was good-looking, "sort of distinguished, when he wants to be," had a
line, and was properly inconstant. In fact, he summed up all the romance
that her age and environment led her to desire. She wondered if those
were his dancing-shoes that fox-trotted tentatively around the soft rug
All impressions and, in fact, all ideas were extremely kaleidoscopic to
Isabelle. She had that curious mixture of the social and the artistic
temperaments found often in two classes, society women and actresses.
Her education or, rather, her sophistication, had been absorbed from
the boys who had dangled on her favor; her tact was instinctive, and
her capacity for love-affairs was limited only by the number of the
susceptible within telephone distance. Flirt smiled from her large
black-brown eyes and shone through her intense physical magnetism.
So she waited at the head of the stairs that evening while slippers
were fetched. Just as she was growing impatient, Sally came out of the
dressing-room, beaming with her accustomed good nature and high spirits,
and together they descended to the floor below, while the shifting
search-light of Isabelle's mind flashed on two ideas: she was glad she
had high color to-night, and she wondered if he danced well.
Down-stairs, in the club's great room, she was surrounded for a moment
by the girls she had met in the afternoon, then she heard Sally's voice
repeating a cycle of names, and found herself bowing to a sextet of
black and white, terribly stiff, vaguely familiar figures. The name
Blaine figured somewhere, but at first she could not place him. A
very confused, very juvenile moment of awkward backings and bumpings
followed, and every one found himself talking to the person he least
desired to. Isabelle manoeuvred herself and Froggy Parker, freshman
at Harvard, with whom she had once played hop-scotch, to a seat on the
stairs. A humorous reference to the past was all she needed. The things
Isabelle could do socially with one idea were remarkable. First, she
repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a soupcon
of Southern accent; then she held it off at a distance and smiled at
it--her wonderful smile; then she delivered it in variations and
played a sort of mental catch with it, all this in the nominal form
of dialogue. Froggy was fascinated and quite unconscious that this was
being done, not for him, but for the green eyes that glistened under the
shining carefully watered hair, a little to her left, for Isabelle had
discovered Amory. As an actress even in the fullest flush of her own
conscious magnetism gets a deep impression of most of the people in the
front row, so Isabelle sized up her antagonist. First, he had auburn
hair, and from her feeling of disappointment she knew that she had
expected him to be dark and of garter-advertisement slenderness.... For
the rest, a faint flush and a straight, romantic profile; the effect set
off by a close-fitting dress suit and a silk ruffled shirt of the kind
that women still delight to see men wear, but men were just beginning to
get tired of.
During this inspection Amory was quietly watching.
"Don't "you" think so?" she said suddenly, turning to him,
There was a stir, and Sally led the way over to their table. Amory
struggled to Isabelle's side, and whispered:
"You're my dinner partner, you know. We're all coached for each other."
Isabelle gasped--this was rather right in line. But really she felt
as if a good speech had been taken from the star and given to a minor
character.... She mustn't lose the leadership a bit. The dinner-table
glittered with laughter at the confusion of getting places and then
curious eyes were turned on her, sitting near the head. She was enjoying
this immensely, and Froggy Parker was so engrossed with the added
sparkle of her rising color that he forgot to pull out Sally's chair,
and fell into a dim confusion. Amory was on the other side, full of
confidence and vanity, gazing at her in open admiration. He began
directly, and so did Froggy:
"I've heard a lot about you since you wore braids--"
"Wasn't it funny this afternoon--"
Both stopped. Isabelle turned to Amory shyly. Her face was always enough
answer for any one, but she decided to speak.
"From everybody--for all the years since you've been away." She blushed
appropriately. On her right Froggy was "hors de combat" already,
although he hadn't quite realized it.
"I'll tell you what I remembered about you all these years," Amory
continued. She leaned slightly toward him and looked modestly at the
celery before her. Froggy sighed--he knew Amory, and the situations that
Amory seemed born to handle. He turned to Sally and asked her if she was
going away to school next year. Amory opened with grape-shot.
"I've got an adjective that just fits you." This was one of his favorite
starts--he seldom had a word in mind, but it was a curiosity provoker,
and he could always produce something complimentary if he got in a tight
"Oh--what?" Isabelle's face was a study in enraptured curiosity.
Amory shook his head.
"I don't know you very well yet."
"Will you tell me--afterward?" she half whispered.
"We'll sit out."
"Did any one ever tell you, you have keen eyes?" she said.
Amory attempted to make them look even keener. He fancied, but he was
not sure, that her foot had just touched his under the table. But it
might possibly have been only the table leg. It was so hard to tell.
Still it thrilled him. He wondered quickly if there would be any
difficulty in securing the little den up-stairs.
BABES IN THE WOODS
Isabelle and Amory were distinctly not innocent, nor were they
particularly brazen. Moreover, amateur standing had very little value
in the game they were playing, a game that would presumably be her
principal study for years to come. She had begun as he had, with good
looks and an excitable temperament, and the rest was the result of
accessible popular novels and dressing-room conversation culled from a
slightly older set. Isabelle had walked with an artificial gait at nine
and a half, and when her eyes, wide and starry, proclaimed the ingenue
most. Amory was proportionately less deceived. He waited for the mask to
drop off, but at the same time he did not question her right to wear
it. She, on her part, was not impressed by his studied air of blasé
sophistication. She had lived in a larger city and had slightly an
advantage in range. But she accepted his pose--it was one of the dozen
little conventions of this kind of affair. He was aware that he was
getting this particular favor now because she had been coached; he knew
that he stood for merely the best game in sight, and that he would
have to improve his opportunity before he lost his advantage. So they
proceeded with an infinite guile that would have horrified her parents.
After the dinner the dance began... smoothly. Smoothly?--boys cut in
on Isabelle every few feet and then squabbled in the corners with: "You
might let me get more than an inch!" and "She didn't like it either--she
told me so next time I cut in." It was true--she told every one so, and
gave every hand a parting pressure that said: "You know that your dances
are "making" my evening."
But time passed, two hours of it, and the less subtle beaux had better
learned to focus their pseudo-passionate glances elsewhere, for eleven
o'clock found Isabelle and Amory sitting on the couch in the little
den off the reading-room up-stairs. She was conscious that they were
a handsome pair, and seemed to belong distinctively in this seclusion,
while lesser lights fluttered and chattered down-stairs.
Boys who passed the door looked in enviously--girls who passed only
laughed and frowned and grew wise within themselves.
They had now reached a very definite stage. They had traded accounts of
their progress since they had met last, and she had listened to much
she had heard before. He was a sophomore, was on the Princetonian board,
hoped to be chairman in senior year. He learned that some of the boys
she went with in Baltimore were "terrible speeds" and came to dances in
states of artificial stimulation; most of them were twenty or so, and
drove alluring red Stutzes. A good half seemed to have already flunked
out of various schools and colleges, but some of them bore athletic
names that made him look at her admiringly. As a matter of fact,
Isabelle's closer acquaintance with the universities was just
commencing. She had bowing acquaintance with a lot of young men who
thought she was a "pretty kid--worth keeping an eye on." But Isabelle
strung the names into a fabrication of gayety that would have dazzled
a Viennese nobleman. Such is the power of young contralto voices on
He asked her if she thought he was conceited. She said there was
a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored
self-confidence in men.
"Is Froggy a good friend of yours?" she asked.
"He's a bum dancer."
"He dances as if the girl were on his back instead of in his arms."
She appreciated this.
"You're awfully good at sizing people up."
Amory denied this painfully. However, he sized up several people for
her. Then they talked about hands.
"You've got awfully nice hands," she said. "They look as if you played
the piano. Do you?"
I have said they had reached a very definite stage--nay, more, a very
critical stage. Amory had stayed over a day to see her, and his train
left at twelve-eighteen that night. His trunk and suitcase awaited him
at the station; his watch was beginning to hang heavy in his pocket.
"Isabelle," he said suddenly, "I want to tell you something." They had
been talking lightly about "that funny look in her eyes," and Isabelle
knew from the change in his manner what was coming--indeed, she had been
wondering how soon it would come. Amory reached above their heads and
turned out the electric light, so that they were in the dark, except
for the red glow that fell through the door from the reading-room lamps.
Then he began:
"I don't know whether or not you know what you--what I'm going to say.
Lordy, Isabelle--this "sounds" like a line, but it isn't."
"I know," said Isabelle softly.
"Maybe we'll never meet again like this--I have darned hard luck
sometimes." He was leaning away from her on the other arm of the lounge,
but she could see his eyes plainly in the dark.
"You'll meet me again--silly." There was just the slightest emphasis
on the last word--so that it became almost a term of endearment. He
continued a bit huskily:
"I've fallen for a lot of people--girls--and I guess you have,
too--boys, I mean, but, honestly, you--" he broke off suddenly and
leaned forward, chin on his hands: "Oh, what's the use--you'll go your
way and I suppose I'll go mine."
Silence for a moment. Isabelle was quite stirred; she wound her
handkerchief into a tight ball, and by the faint light that streamed
over her, dropped it deliberately on the floor. Their hands touched for
an instant, but neither spoke. Silences were becoming more frequent
and more delicious. Outside another stray couple had come up and were
experimenting on the piano in the next room. After the usual preliminary
of "chopsticks," one of them started "Babes in the Woods" and a light
tenor carried the words into the den:
"Give me your hand
We're off to slumberland."
Isabelle hummed it softly and trembled as she felt Amory's hand close
"Isabelle," he whispered. "You know I'm mad about you. You "do" give a
darn about me."
"How much do you care--do you like any one better?"
"No." He could scarcely hear her, although he bent so near that he felt
her breath against his cheek.
"Isabelle, I'm going back to college for six long months, and why
shouldn't we--if I could only just have one thing to remember you by--"
"Close the door...." Her voice had just stirred so that he half wondered
whether she had spoken at all. As he swung the door softly shut, the
music seemed quivering just outside.
"Moonlight is bright,
Kiss me good night."
What a wonderful song, she thought--everything was wonderful to-night,
most of all this romantic scene in the den, with their hands clinging
and the inevitable looming charmingly close. The future vista of her
life seemed an unending succession of scenes like this: under moonlight
and pale starlight, and in the backs of warm limousines and in low, cosy
roadsters stopped under sheltering trees--only the boy might change, and
this one was so nice. He took her hand softly. With a sudden movement he
turned it and, holding it to his lips, kissed the palm.
"Isabelle!" His whisper blended in the music, and they seemed to
float nearer together. Her breath came faster. "Can't I kiss you,
Isabelle--Isabelle?" Lips half parted, she turned her head to him in the
dark. Suddenly the ring of voices, the sound of running footsteps surged
toward them. Quick as a flash Amory reached up and turned on the light,
and when the door opened and three boys, the wrathy and dance-craving
Froggy among them, rushed in, he was turning over the magazines on the
table, while she sat without moving, serene and unembarrassed, and even
greeted them with a welcoming smile. But her heart was beating wildly,
and she felt somehow as if she had been deprived.
It was evidently over. There was a clamor for a dance, there was a
glance that passed between them--on his side despair, on hers regret,
and then the evening went on, with the reassured beaux and the eternal
At quarter to twelve Amory shook hands with her gravely, in the midst of
a small crowd assembled to wish him good-speed. For an instant he lost
his poise, and she felt a bit rattled when a satirical voice from a
concealed wit cried:
"Take her outside, Amory!" As he took her hand he pressed it a little,
and she returned the pressure as she had done to twenty hands that
evening--that was all.
At two o'clock back at the Weatherbys' Sally asked her if she and Amory
had had a "time" in the den. Isabelle turned to her quietly. In her
eyes was the light of the idealist, the inviolate dreamer of Joan-like
"No," she answered. "I don't do that sort of thing any more; he asked me
to, but I said no."
As she crept in bed she wondered what he'd say in his special delivery
to-morrow. He had such a good-looking mouth--would she ever--?
"Fourteen angels were watching o'er them," sang Sally sleepily from the
"Damn!" muttered Isabelle, punching the pillow into a luxurious lump and
exploring the cold sheets cautiously. "Damn!"
Amory, by way of the Princetonian, had arrived. The minor snobs, finely
balanced thermometers of success, warmed to him as the club elections
grew nigh, and he and Tom were visited by groups of upper classmen who
arrived awkwardly, balanced on the edge of the furniture and talked of
all subjects except the one of absorbing interest. Amory was amused at
the intent eyes upon him, and, in case the visitors represented some
club in which he was not interested, took great pleasure in shocking
them with unorthodox remarks.
"Oh, let me see--" he said one night to a flabbergasted delegation,
"what club do you represent?"
With visitors from Ivy and Cottage and Tiger Inn he played the "nice,
unspoilt, ingenuous boy" very much at ease and quite unaware of the
object of the call.
When the fatal morning arrived, early in March, and the campus became
a document in hysteria, he slid smoothly into Cottage with Alec Connage
and watched his suddenly neurotic class with much wonder.
There were fickle groups that jumped from club to club; there were
friends of two or three days who announced tearfully and wildly that
they must join the same club, nothing should separate them; there were
snarling disclosures of long-hidden grudges as the Suddenly Prominent
remembered snubs of freshman year. Unknown men were elevated into
importance when they received certain coveted bids; others who were
considered "all set" found that they had made unexpected enemies, felt
themselves stranded and deserted, talked wildly of leaving college.
In his own crowd Amory saw men kept out for wearing green hats, for
being "a damn tailor's dummy," for having "too much pull in heaven,"
for getting drunk one night "not like a gentleman, by God," or for
unfathomable secret reasons known to no one but the wielders of the
This orgy of sociability culminated in a gigantic party at the Nassau
Inn, where punch was dispensed from immense bowls, and the whole
down-stairs became a delirious, circulating, shouting pattern of faces
"Goo' boy, Tom, you got a good bunch in Cap."
"Oh, Kerry--I hear you went Tiger with all the weight-lifters!" "Well, I
didn't go Cottage--the parlor-snakes' delight."
"They say Overton fainted when he got his Ivy bid--Did he sign up the
first day?--oh, "no". Tore over to Murray-Dodge on a bicycle--afraid it
was a mistake."
"How'd you get into Cap--you old roue?"
"'Gratulations yourself. Hear you got a good crowd."
When the bar closed, the party broke up into groups and streamed,
singing, over the snow-clad campus, in a weird delusion that
snobbishness and strain were over at last, and that they could do what
they pleased for the next two years.
Long afterward Amory thought of sophomore spring as the happiest time of
his life. His ideas were in tune with life as he found it; he wanted
no more than to drift and dream and enjoy a dozen new-found friendships
through the April afternoons.
Alec Connage came into his room one morning and woke him up into the
sunshine and peculiar glory of Campbell Hall shining in the window.
"Wake up, Original Sin, and scrape yourself together. Be in front of
Renwick's in half an hour. Somebody's got a car." He took the bureau
cover and carefully deposited it, with its load of small articles, upon
"Where'd you get the car?" demanded Amory cynically.
"Sacred trust, but don't be a critical goopher or you can't go!"
"I think I'll sleep," Amory said calmly, resettling himself and reaching
beside the bed for a cigarette.
"Why not? I've got a class at eleven-thirty."
"You damned gloom! Of course, if you don't want to go to the coast--"
With a bound Amory was out of bed, scattering the bureau cover's burden
on the floor. The coast... he hadn't seen it for years, since he and his
mother were on their pilgrimage.
"Who's going?" he demanded as he wriggled into his B. V. D.'s.
"Oh, Dick Humbird and Kerry Holiday and Jesse Ferrenby and--oh about
five or six. Speed it up, kid!"
In ten minutes Amory was devouring cornflakes in Renwick's, and at
nine-thirty they bowled happily out of town, headed for the sands of
"You see," said Kerry, "the car belongs down there. In fact, it was
stolen from Asbury Park by persons unknown, who deserted it in Princeton
and left for the West. Heartless Humbird here got permission from the
city council to deliver it."
"Anybody got any money?" suggested Ferrenby, turning around from the
There was an emphatic negative chorus.
"That makes it interesting."
"Money--what's money? We can sell the car."
"Charge him salvage or something."
"How're we going to get food?" asked Amory.
"Honestly," answered Kerry, eying him reprovingly, "do you doubt Kerry's
ability for three short days? Some people have lived on nothing for
years at a time. Read the Boy Scout Monthly."
"Three days," Amory mused, "and I've got classes."
"One of the days is the Sabbath."
"Just the same, I can only cut six more classes, with over a month and a
half to go."
"Throw him out!"
"It's a long walk back."
"Amory, you're running it out, if I may coin a new phrase."
"Hadn't you better get some dope on yourself, Amory?"
Amory subsided resignedly and drooped into a contemplation of the
scenery. Swinburne seemed to fit in somehow.
"Oh, winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the seasons of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover,
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
"The full streams feed on flower of--"
"What's the matter, Amory? Amory's thinking about poetry, about the
pretty birds and flowers. I can see it in his eye."
"No, I'm not," he lied. "I'm thinking about the Princetonian. I ought to
make up to-night; but I can telephone back, I suppose."
"Oh," said Kerry respectfully, "these important men--"
Amory flushed and it seemed to him that Ferrenby, a defeated competitor,
winced a little. Of course, Kerry was only kidding, but he really
mustn't mention the Princetonian.
It was a halcyon day, and as they neared the shore and the salt breezes
scurried by, he began to picture the ocean and long, level stretches of
sand and red roofs over blue sea. Then they hurried through the little
town and it all flashed upon his consciousness to a mighty paean of
"Oh, good Lord! "Look" at it!" he cried.
"Let me out, quick--I haven't seen it for eight years! Oh, gentlefolk,
stop the car!"
"What an odd child!" remarked Alec.
"I do believe he's a bit eccentric."
The car was obligingly drawn up at a curb, and Amory ran for the
boardwalk. First, he realized that the sea was blue and that there was
an enormous quantity of it, and that it roared and roared--really all
the banalities about the ocean that one could realize, but if any one
had told him then that these things were banalities, he would have gaped
"Now we'll get lunch," ordered Kerry, wandering up with the crowd. "Come
on, Amory, tear yourself away and get practical."
"We'll try the best hotel first," he went on, "and thence and so forth."
They strolled along the boardwalk to the most imposing hostelry in
sight, and, entering the dining-room, scattered about a table.
"Eight Bronxes," commanded Alec, "and a club sandwich and Juliennes. The
food for one. Hand the rest around."
Amory ate little, having seized a chair where he could watch the sea and
feel the rock of it. When luncheon was over they sat and smoked quietly.
"What's the bill?"
Some one scanned it.
"Rotten overcharge. We'll give them two dollars and one for the waiter.
Kerry, collect the small change."
The waiter approached, and Kerry gravely handed him a dollar, tossed two
dollars on the check, and turned away. They sauntered leisurely toward
the door, pursued in a moment by the suspicious Ganymede.
"Some mistake, sir."
Kerry took the bill and examined it critically.
"No mistake!" he said, shaking his head gravely, and, tearing it into
four pieces, he handed the scraps to the waiter, who was so dumfounded
that he stood motionless and expressionless while they walked out.
"Won't he send after us?"
"No," said Kerry; "for a minute he'll think we're the proprietor's sons
or something; then he'll look at the check again and call the manager,
and in the meantime--"
They left the car at Asbury and street-car'd to Allenhurst, where
they investigated the crowded pavilions for beauty. At four there were
refreshments in a lunch-room, and this time they paid an even smaller
per cent on the total cost; something about the appearance and
savoir-faire of the crowd made the thing go, and they were not pursued.
"You see, Amory, we're Marxian Socialists," explained Kerry. "We don't
believe in property and we're putting it to the great test."
"Night will descend," Amory suggested.
"Watch, and put your trust in Holiday."
They became jovial about five-thirty and, linking arms, strolled up and
down the boardwalk in a row, chanting a monotonous ditty about the sad
sea waves. Then Kerry saw a face in the crowd that attracted him and,
rushing off, reappeared in a moment with one of the homeliest girls
Amory had ever set eyes on. Her pale mouth extended from ear to ear, her
teeth projected in a solid wedge, and she had little, squinty eyes that
peeped ingratiatingly over the side sweep of her nose. Kerry presented
"Name of Kaluka, Hawaiian queen! Let me present Messrs. Connage, Sloane,
Humbird, Ferrenby, and Blaine."
The girl bobbed courtesies all around. Poor creature; Amory supposed she
had never before been noticed in her life--possibly she was half-witted.
While she accompanied them (Kerry had invited her to supper) she said
nothing which could discountenance such a belief.
"She prefers her native dishes," said Alec gravely to the waiter, "but
any coarse food will do."
All through supper he addressed her in the most respectful language,
while Kerry made idiotic love to her on the other side, and she giggled
and grinned. Amory was content to sit and watch the by-play, thinking
what a light touch Kerry had, and how he could transform the barest
incident into a thing of curve and contour. They all seemed to have
the spirit of it more or less, and it was a relaxation to be with them.
Amory usually liked men individually, yet feared them in crowds unless
the crowd was around him. He wondered how much each one contributed to
the party, for there was somewhat of a spiritual tax levied. Alec and
Kerry were the life of it, but not quite the centre. Somehow the quiet
Humbird, and Sloane, with his impatient superciliousness, were the
Dick Humbird had, ever since freshman year, seemed to Amory a perfect
type of aristocrat. He was slender but well-built--black curly hair,
straight features, and rather a dark skin. Everything he said sounded
intangibly appropriate. He possessed infinite courage, an averagely good
mind, and a sense of honor with a clear charm and "noblesse oblige"
that varied it from righteousness. He could dissipate without going to
pieces, and even his most bohemian adventures never seemed "running it
out." People dressed like him, tried to talk as he did.... Amory decided
that he probably held the world back, but he wouldn't have changed him.
He differed from the healthy type that was essentially middle class--he
never seemed to perspire. Some people couldn't be familiar with a
chauffeur without having it returned; Humbird could have lunched at
Sherry's with a colored man, yet people would have somehow known that
it was all right. He was not a snob, though he knew only half his class.
His friends ranged from the highest to the lowest, but it was impossible
to "cultivate" him. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god.
He seemed the eternal example of what the upper class tries to be.
"He's like those pictures in the Illustrated London News of the English
officers who have been killed," Amory had said to Alec. "Well," Alec
had answered, "if you want to know the shocking truth, his father was a
grocery clerk who made a fortune in Tacoma real estate and came to New
York ten years ago."
Amory had felt a curious sinking sensation.
This present type of party was made possible by the surging together of
the class after club elections--as if to make a last desperate attempt
to know itself, to keep together, to fight off the tightening spirit of
the clubs. It was a let-down from the conventional heights they had all
walked so rigidly.
After supper they saw Kaluka to the boardwalk, and then strolled back
along the beach to Asbury. The evening sea was a new sensation, for all
its color and mellow age was gone, and it seemed the bleak waste that
made the Norse sagas sad; Amory thought of Kipling's
"Beaches of Lukanon before the sealers came."
It was still a music, though, infinitely sorrowful.
Ten o'clock found them penniless. They had suppered greatly on their
last eleven cents and, singing, strolled up through the casinos and
lighted arches on the boardwalk, stopping to listen approvingly to all
band concerts. In one place Kerry took up a collection for the French
War Orphans which netted a dollar and twenty cents, and with this they
bought some brandy in case they caught cold in the night. They finished
the day in a moving-picture show and went into solemn systematic roars
of laughter at an ancient comedy, to the startled annoyance of the rest
of the audience. Their entrance was distinctly strategic, for each man
as he entered pointed reproachfully at the one just behind him. Sloane,
bringing up the rear, disclaimed all knowledge and responsibility as
soon as the others were scattered inside; then as the irate ticket-taker
rushed in he followed nonchalantly.
They reassembled later by the Casino and made arrangements for the
night. Kerry wormed permission from the watchman to sleep on the
platform and, having collected a huge pile of rugs from the booths to
serve as mattresses and blankets, they talked until midnight, and then
fell into a dreamless sleep, though Amory tried hard to stay awake and
watch that marvellous moon settle on the sea.
So they progressed for two happy days, up and down the shore by
street-car or machine, or by shoe-leather on the crowded boardwalk;
sometimes eating with the wealthy, more frequently dining frugally
at the expense of an unsuspecting restaurateur. They had their photos
taken, eight poses, in a quick-development store. Kerry insisted on
grouping them as a "varsity" football team, and then as a tough gang
from the East Side, with their coats inside out, and himself sitting
in the middle on a cardboard moon. The photographer probably has them
yet--at least, they never called for them. The weather was perfect, and
again they slept outside, and again Amory fell unwillingly asleep.
Sunday broke stolid and respectable, and even the sea seemed to mumble
and complain, so they returned to Princeton via the Fords of transient
farmers, and broke up with colds in their heads, but otherwise none the
worse for wandering.
Even more than in the year before, Amory neglected his work, not
deliberately but lazily and through a multitude of other interests.
Co-ordinate geometry and the melancholy hexameters of Corneille and
Racine held forth small allurements, and even psychology, which he had
eagerly awaited, proved to be a dull subject full of muscular reactions
and biological phrases rather than the study of personality and
influence. That was a noon class, and it always sent him dozing.
Having found that "subjective and objective, sir," answered most of the
questions, he used the phrase on all occasions, and it became the class
joke when, on a query being levelled at him, he was nudged awake by
Ferrenby or Sloane to gasp it out.
Mostly there were parties--to Orange or the Shore, more rarely to
New York and Philadelphia, though one night they marshalled fourteen
waitresses out of Childs' and took them to ride down Fifth Avenue on top
of an auto bus. They all cut more classes than were allowed, which meant
an additional course the following year, but spring was too rare to
let anything interfere with their colorful ramblings. In May Amory was
elected to the Sophomore Prom Committee, and when after a long
evening's discussion with Alec they made out a tentative list of class
probabilities for the senior council, they placed themselves among the
surest. The senior council was composed presumably of the eighteen most
representative seniors, and in view of Alec's football managership and
Amory's chance of nosing out Burne Holiday as Princetonian chairman,
they seemed fairly justified in this presumption. Oddly enough, they
both placed D'Invilliers as among the possibilities, a guess that a year
before the class would have gaped at.
All through the spring Amory had kept up an intermittent correspondence
with Isabelle Borge, punctuated by violent squabbles and chiefly
enlivened by his attempts to find new words for love. He discovered
Isabelle to be discreetly and aggravatingly unsentimental in letters,
but he hoped against hope that she would prove not too exotic a bloom
to fit the large spaces of spring as she had fitted the den in the
Minnehaha Club. During May he wrote thirty-page documents almost
nightly, and sent them to her in bulky envelopes exteriorly labelled
"Part I" and "Part II."
"Oh, Alec, I believe I'm tired of college," he said sadly, as they
walked the dusk together.
"I think I am, too, in a way."
"All I'd like would be a little home in the country, some warm country,
and a wife, and just enough to do to keep from rotting."
"I'd like to quit."
"What does your girl say?"
"Oh!" Amory gasped in horror. "She wouldn't "think" of marrying... that
is, not now. I mean the future, you know."
"My girl would. I'm engaged."
"Are you really?"
"Yes. Don't say a word to anybody, please, but I am. I may not come back
"But you're only twenty! Give up college?"
"Why, Amory, you were saying a minute ago--"
"Yes," Amory interrupted, "but I was just wishing. I wouldn't think of
leaving college. It's just that I feel so sad these wonderful nights. I
sort of feel they're never coming again, and I'm not really getting all
I could out of them. I wish my girl lived here. But marry--not a chance.
Especially as father says the money isn't forthcoming as it used to be."
"What a waste these nights are!" agreed Alec.
But Amory sighed and made use of the nights. He had a snap-shot of
Isabelle, enshrined in an old watch, and at eight almost every night he
would turn off all the lights except the desk lamp and, sitting by the
open windows with the picture before him, write her rapturous letters.
... Oh it's so hard to write you what I really "feel" when I
think about you so much; you've gotten to mean to me a "dream" that
I can't put on paper any more. Your last letter came and it was
wonderful! I read it over about six times, especially the last
part, but I do wish, sometimes, you'd be more "frank" and tell me
what you really do think of me, yet your last letter was too good
to be true, and I can hardly wait until June! Be sure and be able
to come to the prom. It'll be fine, I think, and I want to bring
"you" just at the end of a wonderful year. I often think over what
you said on that night and wonder how much you meant. If it were
anyone but you--but you see I "thought" you were fickle the first
time I saw you and you are so popular and everthing that I can't
imagine you really liking me "best".
Oh, Isabelle, dear--it's a wonderful night. Somebody is playing
"Love Moon" on a mandolin far across the campus, and the music
seems to bring you into the window. Now he's playing "Good-by,
Boys, I'm Through," and how well it suits me. For I am through
with everything. I have decided never to take a cocktail again,
and I know I'll never again fall in love--I couldn't--you've been
too much a part of my days and nights to ever let me think of
another girl. I meet them all the time and they don't interest me.
I'm not pretending to be blasé, because it's not that. It's just
that I'm in love. Oh, "dearest" Isabelle (somehow I can't call you
just Isabelle, and I'm afraid I'll come out with the "dearest"
before your family this June), you've got to come to the prom,
and then I'll come up to your house for a day and everything'll be
And so on in an eternal monotone that seemed to both of them infinitely
charming, infinitely new.
June came and the days grew so hot and lazy that they could not worry
even about exams, but spent dreamy evenings on the court of Cottage,
talking of long subjects until the sweep of country toward Stony Brook
became a blue haze and the lilacs were white around tennis-courts, and
words gave way to silent cigarettes.... Then down deserted Prospect and
along McCosh with song everywhere around them, up to the hot joviality
of Nassau Street.
Tom D'Invilliers and Amory walked late in those days. A gambling fever
swept through the sophomore class and they bent over the bones till
three o'clock many a sultry night. After one session they came out of
Sloane's room to find the dew fallen and the stars old in the sky.
"Let's borrow bicycles and take a ride," Amory suggested.
"All right. I'm not a bit tired and this is almost the last night of the
year, really, because the prom stuff starts Monday."
They found two unlocked bicycles in Holder Court and rode out about
half-past three along the Lawrenceville Road.
"What are you going to do this summer, Amory?"
"Don't ask me--same old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake
Geneva--I'm counting on you to be there in July, you know--then there'll
be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops, parlor-snaking,
getting bored--But oh, Tom," he added suddenly, "hasn't this year been
"No," declared Tom emphatically, a new Tom, clothed by Brooks, shod
by Franks, "I've won this game, but I feel as if I never want to play
another. You're all right--you're a rubber ball, and somehow it suits
you, but I'm sick of adapting myself to the local snobbishness of this
corner of the world. I want to go where people aren't barred because of
the color of their neckties and the roll of their coats."
"You can't, Tom," argued Amory, as they rolled along through the
scattering night; "wherever you go now you'll always unconsciously apply
these standards of 'having it' or 'lacking it.' For better or worse
we've stamped you; you're a Princeton type!"
"Well, then," complained Tom, his cracked voice rising plaintively, "why
do I have to come back at all? I've learned all that Princeton has to
offer. Two years more of mere pedantry and lying around a club aren't
going to help. They're just going to disorganize me, conventionalize me
completely. Even now I'm so spineless that I wonder how I get away with
"Oh, but you're missing the real point, Tom," Amory interrupted. "You've
just had your eyes opened to the snobbishness of the world in a rather
abrupt manner. Princeton invariably gives the thoughtful man a social
"You consider you taught me that, don't you?" he asked quizzically,
eying Amory in the half dark.
Amory laughed quietly.
"Sometimes," he said slowly, "I think you're my bad angel. I might have
been a pretty fair poet."
"Come on, that's rather hard. You chose to come to an Eastern college.
Either your eyes were opened to the mean scrambling quality of people,
or you'd have gone through blind, and you'd hate to have done that--been
like Marty Kaye."
"Yes," he agreed, "you're right. I wouldn't have liked it. Still, it's
hard to be made a cynic at twenty."
"I was born one," Amory murmured. "I'm a cynical idealist." He paused
and wondered if that meant anything.
They reached the sleeping school of Lawrenceville, and turned to ride
"It's good, this ride, isn't it?" Tom said presently.
"Yes; it's a good finish, it's knock-out; everything's good to-night.
Oh, for a hot, languorous summer and Isabelle!"
"Oh, you and your Isabelle! I'll bet she's a simple one... let's say
So Amory declaimed "The Ode to a Nightingale" to the bushes they passed.
"I'll never be a poet," said Amory as he finished. "I'm not enough of a
sensualist really; there are only a few obvious things that I notice as
primarily beautiful: women, spring evenings, music at night, the sea;
I don't catch the subtle things like 'silver-snarling trumpets.' I may
turn out an intellectual, but I'll never write anything but mediocre
They rode into Princeton as the sun was making colored maps of the sky
behind the graduate school, and hurried to the refreshment of a shower
that would have to serve in place of sleep. By noon the bright-costumed
alumni crowded the streets with their bands and choruses, and in the
tents there was great reunion under the orange-and-black banners that
curled and strained in the wind. Amory looked long at one house which
bore the legend "Sixty-nine." There a few gray-haired men sat and talked
quietly while the classes swept by in panorama of life.
UNDER THE ARC-LIGHT
Then tragedy's emerald eyes glared suddenly at Amory over the edge of
June. On the night after his ride to Lawrenceville a crowd sallied to
New York in quest of adventure, and started back to Princeton about
twelve o'clock in two machines. It had been a gay party and different
stages of sobriety were represented. Amory was in the car behind; they
had taken the wrong road and lost the way, and so were hurrying to catch
It was a clear night and the exhilaration of the road went to Amory's
head. He had the ghost of two stanzas of a poem forming in his mind. ...
So the gray car crept nightward in the dark and there was no life
stirred as it went by.... As the still ocean paths before the
shark in starred and glittering waterways, beauty-high, the
moon-swathed trees divided, pair on pair, while flapping
nightbirds cried across the air....
A moment by an inn of lamps and shades, a yellow inn under a
yellow moon--then silence, where crescendo laughter fades... the
car swung out again to the winds of June, mellowed the shadows
where the distance grew, then crushed the yellow shadows into
They jolted to a stop, and Amory peered up, startled. A woman was
standing beside the road, talking to Alec at the wheel. Afterward
he remembered the harpy effect that her old kimono gave her, and the
cracked hollowness of her voice as she spoke:
"You Princeton boys?"
"Well, there's one of you killed here, and two others about dead."
"Look!" She pointed and they gazed in horror. Under the full light of
a roadside arc-light lay a form, face downward in a widening circle of
They sprang from the car. Amory thought of the back of that head--that
hair--that hair... and then they turned the form over.
"It's Dick--Dick Humbird!"
"Feel his heart!"
Then the insistent voice of the old crone in a sort of croaking triumph:
"He's quite dead, all right. The car turned over. Two of the men that
weren't hurt just carried the others in, but this one's no use."
Amory rushed into the house and the rest followed with a limp mass that
they laid on the sofa in the shoddy little front parlor. Sloane, with
his shoulder punctured, was on another lounge. He was half delirious,
and kept calling something about a chemistry lecture at 8:10.
"I don't know what happened," said Ferrenby in a strained voice. "Dick
was driving and he wouldn't give up the wheel; we told him he'd been
drinking too much--then there was this damn curve--oh, my "God!"..." He
threw himself face downward on the floor and broke into dry sobs.
The doctor had arrived, and Amory went over to the couch, where some
one handed him a sheet to put over the body. With a sudden hardness, he
raised one of the hands and let it fall back inertly. The brow was cold
but the face not expressionless. He looked at the shoe-laces--Dick had
tied them that morning. "He" had tied them--and now he was this heavy
white mass. All that remained of the charm and personality of the Dick
Humbird he had known--oh, it was all so horrible and unaristocratic and
close to the earth. All tragedy has that strain of the grotesque
and squalid--so useless, futile... the way animals die.... Amory was
reminded of a cat that had lain horribly mangled in some alley of his
"Some one go to Princeton with Ferrenby."
Amory stepped outside the door and shivered slightly at the late night
wind--a wind that stirred a broken fender on the mass of bent metal to a
plaintive, tinny sound.
Next day, by a merciful chance, passed in a whirl. When Amory was by
himself his thoughts zigzagged inevitably to the picture of that red
mouth yawning incongruously in the white face, but with a determined
effort he piled present excitement upon the memory of it and shut it
coldly away from his mind.
Isabelle and her mother drove into town at four, and they rode up
smiling Prospect Avenue, through the gay crowd, to have tea at Cottage.
The clubs had their annual dinners that night, so at seven he loaned her
to a freshman and arranged to meet her in the gymnasium at eleven, when
the upper classmen were admitted to the freshman dance. She was all he
had expected, and he was happy and eager to make that night the centre
of every dream. At nine the upper classes stood in front of the clubs
as the freshman torchlight parade rioted past, and Amory wondered if the
dress-suited groups against the dark, stately backgrounds and under
the flare of the torches made the night as brilliant to the staring,
cheering freshmen as it had been to him the year before.
The next day was another whirl. They lunched in a gay party of six in a
private dining-room at the club, while Isabelle and Amory looked at each
other tenderly over the fried chicken and knew that their love was to be
eternal. They danced away the prom until five, and the stags cut in on
Isabelle with joyous abandon, which grew more and more enthusiastic as
the hour grew late, and their wines, stored in overcoat pockets in the
coat room, made old weariness wait until another day. The stag line is
a most homogeneous mass of men. It fairly sways with a single soul. A
dark-haired beauty dances by and there is a half-gasping sound as the
ripple surges forward and some one sleeker than the rest darts out and
cuts in. Then when the six-foot girl (brought by Kaye in your class, and
to whom he has been trying to introduce you all evening) gallops by,
the line surges back and the groups face about and become intent on far
corners of the hall, for Kaye, anxious and perspiring, appears elbowing
through the crowd in search of familiar faces.
"I say, old man, I've got an awfully nice--"
"Sorry, Kaye, but I'm set for this one. I've got to cut in on a fella."
"Well, the next one?"
"What--ah--er--I swear I've got to go cut in--look me up when she's got
a dance free."
It delighted Amory when Isabelle suggested that they leave for a while
and drive around in her car. For a delicious hour that passed too soon
they glided the silent roads about Princeton and talked from the surface
of their hearts in shy excitement. Amory felt strangely ingenuous and
made no attempt to kiss her.
Next day they rode up through the Jersey country, had luncheon in New
York, and in the afternoon went to see a problem play at which Isabelle
wept all through the second act, rather to Amory's embarrassment--though
it filled him with tenderness to watch her. He was tempted to lean over
and kiss away her tears, and she slipped her hand into his under cover
of darkness to be pressed softly.
Then at six they arrived at the Borges' summer place on Long Island, and
Amory rushed up-stairs to change into a dinner coat. As he put in his
studs he realized that he was enjoying life as he would probably never
enjoy it again. Everything was hallowed by the haze of his own youth. He
had arrived, abreast of the best in his generation at Princeton. He was
in love and his love was returned. Turning on all the lights, he looked
at himself in the mirror, trying to find in his own face the qualities
that made him see clearer than the great crowd of people, that made him
decide firmly, and able to influence and follow his own will. There was
little in his life now that he would have changed. ... Oxford might have
been a bigger field.
Silently he admired himself. How conveniently well he looked, and how
well a dinner coat became him. He stepped into the hall and then
waited at the top of the stairs, for he heard footsteps coming. It was
Isabelle, and from the top of her shining hair to her little golden
slippers she had never seemed so beautiful.
"Isabelle!" he cried, half involuntarily, and held out his arms. As in
the story-books, she ran into them, and on that half-minute, as their
lips first touched, rested the high point of vanity, the crest of his
CHAPTER 3. The Egotist Considers
"Ouch! Let me go!"
He dropped his arms to his sides.
"What's the matter?"
"Your shirt stud--it hurt me--look!" She was looking down at her neck,
where a little blue spot about the size of a pea marred its pallor.
"Oh, Isabelle," he reproached himself, "I'm a goopher. Really, I'm
sorry--I shouldn't have held you so close."
She looked up impatiently.
"Oh, Amory, of course you couldn't help it, and it didn't hurt much; but
what "are" we going to do about it?"
""Do" about it?" he asked. "Oh--that spot; it'll disappear in a second."
"It isn't," she said, after a moment of concentrated gazing, "it's still
there--and it looks like Old Nick--oh, Amory, what'll we do! It's "just"
the height of your shoulder."
"Massage it," he suggested, repressing the faintest inclination to
She rubbed it delicately with the tips of her fingers, and then a tear
gathered in the corner of her eye, and slid down her cheek.
"Oh, Amory," she said despairingly, lifting up a most pathetic face,
"I'll just make my whole neck "flame" if I rub it. What'll I do?"
A quotation sailed into his head and he couldn't resist repeating it
"All the perfumes of Arabia will not whiten this little hand."
She looked up and the sparkle of the tear in her eye was like ice.
"You're not very sympathetic."
Amory mistook her meaning.
"Isabelle, darling, I think it'll--"
"Don't touch me!" she cried. "Haven't I enough on my mind and you stand
there and "laugh!""
Then he slipped again.
"Well, it "is" funny, Isabelle, and we were talking the other day about
a sense of humor being--"
She was looking at him with something that was not a smile, rather the
faint, mirthless echo of a smile, in the corners of her mouth.
"Oh, shut up!" she cried suddenly, and fled down the hallway toward her
room. Amory stood there, covered with remorseful confusion.
When Isabelle reappeared she had thrown a light wrap about her
shoulders, and they descended the stairs in a silence that endured
"Isabelle," he began rather testily, as they arranged themselves in the
car, bound for a dance at the Greenwich Country Club, "you're angry, and
I'll be, too, in a minute. Let's kiss and make up."
Isabelle considered glumly.
"I hate to be laughed at," she said finally.
"I won't laugh any more. I'm not laughing now, am I?"
"Oh, don't be so darned feminine."
Her lips curled slightly.
"I'll be anything I want."
Amory kept his temper with difficulty. He became aware that he had not
an ounce of real affection for Isabelle, but her coldness piqued him. He
wanted to kiss her, kiss her a lot, because then he knew he could leave
in the morning and not care. On the contrary, if he didn't kiss her, it
would worry him.... It would interfere vaguely with his idea of himself
as a conqueror. It wasn't dignified to come off second best, "pleading",
with a doughty warrior like Isabelle.
Perhaps she suspected this. At any rate, Amory watched the night that
should have been the consummation of romance glide by with great moths
overhead and the heavy fragrance of roadside gardens, but without those
broken words, those little sighs....
Afterward they suppered on ginger ale and devil's food in the pantry,
and Amory announced a decision.
"I'm leaving early in the morning."
"Why not?" he countered.
"There's no need."
"However, I'm going."
"Well, if you insist on being ridiculous--"
"Oh, don't put it that way," he objected.
"--just because I won't let you kiss me. Do you think--"
"Now, Isabelle," he interrupted, "you know it's not that--even
suppose it is. We've reached the stage where we either ought to
kiss--or--or--nothing. It isn't as if you were refusing on moral
"I really don't know what to think about you," she began, in a feeble,
perverse attempt at conciliation. "You're so funny."
"Well, I thought you had a lot of self-confidence and all that; remember
you told me the other day that you could do anything you wanted, or get
anything you wanted?"
Amory flushed. He "had" told her a lot of things.
"Well, you didn't seem to feel so self-confident to-night. Maybe you're
just plain conceited."
"No, I'm not," he hesitated. "At Princeton--"
"Oh, you and Princeton! You'd think that was the world, the way you
talk! Perhaps you "can" write better than anybody else on your old
Princetonian; maybe the freshmen "do" think you're important--"
"You don't understand--"
"Yes, I do," she interrupted. "I "do", because you're always talking
about yourself and I used to like it; now I don't."
"Have I to-night?"
"That's just the point," insisted Isabelle. "You got all upset to-night.
You just sat and watched my eyes. Besides, I have to think all the time
I'm talking to you--you're so critical."
"I make you think, do I?" Amory repeated with a touch of vanity.
"You're a nervous strain"--this emphatically--"and when you analyze
every little emotion and instinct I just don't have 'em."
"I know." Amory admitted her point and shook his head helplessly.
"Let's go." She stood up.
He rose abstractedly and they walked to the foot of the stairs.
"What train can I get?"
"There's one about 9:11 if you really must go."
"Yes, I've got to go, really. Good night."
They were at the head of the stairs, and as Amory turned into his room
he thought he caught just the faintest cloud of discontent in her face.
He lay awake in the darkness and wondered how much he cared--how much
of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanity--whether he was, after all,
temperamentally unfitted for romance.
When he awoke, it was with a glad flood of consciousness. The early wind
stirred the chintz curtains at the windows and he was idly puzzled not
to be in his room at Princeton with his school football picture over
the bureau and the Triangle Club on the wall opposite. Then the
grandfather's clock in the hall outside struck eight, and the memory
of the night before came to him. He was out of bed, dressing, like the
wind; he must get out of the house before he saw Isabelle. What had
seemed a melancholy happening, now seemed a tiresome anticlimax. He was
dressed at half past, so he sat down by the window; felt that the sinews
of his heart were twisted somewhat more than he had thought. What an
ironic mockery the morning seemed!--bright and sunny, and full of the
smell of the garden; hearing Mrs. Borge's voice in the sun-parlor below,
he wondered where was Isabelle.
There was a knock at the door.
"The car will be around at ten minutes of nine, sir."
He returned to his contemplation of the outdoors, and began repeating
over and over, mechanically, a verse from Browning, which he had once
quoted to Isabelle in a letter:
"Each life unfulfilled, you see,
It hangs still, patchy and scrappy;
We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
Starved, feasted, despaired--been happy."
But his life would not be unfulfilled. He took a sombre satisfaction in
thinking that perhaps all along she had been nothing except what he had
read into her; that this was her high point, that no one else would ever
make her think. Yet that was what she had objected to in him; and Amory
was suddenly tired of thinking, thinking!
"Damn her!" he said bitterly, "she's spoiled my year!"
THE SUPERMAN GROWS CARELESS
On a dusty day in September Amory arrived in Princeton and joined the
sweltering crowd of conditioned men who thronged the streets. It seemed
a stupid way to commence his upper-class years, to spend four hours a
morning in the stuffy room of a tutoring school, imbibing the infinite
boredom of conic sections. Mr. Rooney, pander to the dull, conducted the
class and smoked innumerable Pall Malls as he drew diagrams and worked
equations from six in the morning until midnight.
"Now, Langueduc, if I used that formula, where would my A point be?"
Langueduc lazily shifts his six-foot-three of football material and
tries to concentrate.
"Oh--ah--I'm damned if I know, Mr. Rooney."
"Oh, why of course, of course you can't "use" that formula. "That's"
what I wanted you to say."
"Why, sure, of course."
"Do you see why?"
"You bet--I suppose so."
"If you don't see, tell me. I'm here to show you."
"Well, Mr. Rooney, if you don't mind, I wish you'd go over that again."
"Gladly. Now here's 'A'..."
The room was a study in stupidity--two huge stands for paper, Mr. Rooney
in his shirt-sleeves in front of them, and slouched around on chairs,
a dozen men: Fred Sloane, the pitcher, who absolutely "had" to get
eligible; "Slim" Langueduc, who would beat Yale this fall, if only he
could master a poor fifty per cent; McDowell, gay young sophomore, who
thought it was quite a sporting thing to be tutoring here with all these
"Those poor birds who haven't a cent to tutor, and have to study during
the term are the ones I pity," he announced to Amory one day, with a
flaccid camaraderie in the droop of the cigarette from his pale lips. "I
should think it would be such a bore, there's so much else to do in New
York during the term. I suppose they don't know what they miss, anyhow."
There was such an air of "you and I" about Mr. McDowell that Amory very
nearly pushed him out of the open window when he said this. ... Next
February his mother would wonder why he didn't make a club and increase
his allowance... simple little nut....
Through the smoke and the air of solemn, dense earnestness that filled
the room would come the inevitable helpless cry:
"I don't get it! Repeat that, Mr. Rooney!" Most of them were so stupid
or careless that they wouldn't admit when they didn't understand, and
Amory was of the latter. He found it impossible to study conic sections;
something in their calm and tantalizing respectability breathing
defiantly through Mr. Rooney's fetid parlors distorted their equations
into insoluble anagrams. He made a last night's effort with the
proverbial wet towel, and then blissfully took the exam, wondering
unhappily why all the color and ambition of the spring before had faded
out. Somehow, with the defection of Isabelle the idea of undergraduate
success had loosed its grasp on his imagination, and he contemplated a
possible failure to pass off his condition with equanimity, even though
it would arbitrarily mean his removal from the Princetonian board and
the slaughter of his chances for the Senior Council.
There was always his luck.
He yawned, scribbled his honor pledge on the cover, and sauntered from
"If you don't pass it," said the newly arrived Alec as they sat on the
window-seat of Amory's room and mused upon a scheme of wall decoration,
"you're the world's worst goopher. Your stock will go down like an
elevator at the club and on the campus."
"Oh, hell, I know it. Why rub it in?"
"'Cause you deserve it. Anybody that'd risk what you were in line for
"ought" to be ineligible for Princetonian chairman."
"Oh, drop the subject," Amory protested. "Watch and wait and shut up.
I don't want every one at the club asking me about it, as if I were a
prize potato being fattened for a vegetable show." One evening a week
later Amory stopped below his own window on the way to Renwick's, and,
seeing a light, called up:
"Oh, Tom, any mail?"
Alec's head appeared against the yellow square of light.
"Yes, your result's here."
His heart clamored violently.
"What is it, blue or pink?"
"Don't know. Better come up."
He walked into the room and straight over to the table, and then
suddenly noticed that there were other people in the room.
"'Lo, Kerry." He was most polite. "Ah, men of Princeton." They seemed
to be mostly friends, so he picked up the envelope marked "Registrar's
Office," and weighed it nervously.
"We have here quite a slip of paper."
"Open it, Amory."
"Just to be dramatic, I'll let you know that if it's blue, my name is
withdrawn from the editorial board of the Prince, and my short career is
He paused, and then saw for the first time Ferrenby's eyes, wearing a
hungry look and watching him eagerly. Amory returned the gaze pointedly.
"Watch my face, gentlemen, for the primitive emotions."
He tore it open and held the slip up to the light.
"Pink or blue?"
"Say what it is."
"We're all ears, Amory."
"Smile or swear--or something."
There was a pause... a small crowd of seconds swept by... then he looked
again and another crowd went on into time.
"Blue as the sky, gentlemen...."
What Amory did that year from early September to late in the spring was
so purposeless and inconsecutive that it seems scarcely worth recording.
He was, of course, immediately sorry for what he had lost. His
philosophy of success had tumbled down upon him, and he looked for the
"Your own laziness," said Alec later.
"No--something deeper than that. I've begun to feel that I was meant to
lose this chance."
"They're rather off you at the club, you know; every man that doesn't
come through makes our crowd just so much weaker."
"I hate that point of view."
"Of course, with a little effort you could still stage a comeback."
"No--I'm through--as far as ever being a power in college is concerned."
"But, Amory, honestly, what makes me the angriest isn't the fact that
you won't be chairman of the Prince and on the Senior Council, but just
that you didn't get down and pass that exam."
"Not me," said Amory slowly; "I'm mad at the concrete thing. My own
idleness was quite in accord with my system, but the luck broke."
"Your system broke, you mean."
"Well, what are you going to do? Get a better one quick, or just bum
around for two more years as a has-been?"
"I don't know yet..."
"Oh, Amory, buck up!"
Amory's point of view, though dangerous, was not far from the true one.
If his reactions to his environment could be tabulated, the chart would
have appeared like this, beginning with his earliest years:
1. The fundamental Amory.
2. Amory plus Beatrice.
3. Amory plus Beatrice plus Minneapolis.
Then St. Regis' had pulled him to pieces and started him over again:
4. Amory plus St. Regis'.
5. Amory plus St. Regis' plus Princeton.
That had been his nearest approach to success through conformity. The
fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been nearly snowed
under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as his imagination was
neither satisfied nor grasped by his own success, he had listlessly,
half-accidentally chucked the whole thing and become again:
6. The fundamental Amory.
His father died quietly and inconspicuously at Thanksgiving. The
incongruity of death with either the beauties of Lake Geneva or with his
mother's dignified, reticent attitude diverted him, and he looked at the
funeral with an amused tolerance. He decided that burial was after all
preferable to cremation, and he smiled at his old boyhood choice,
slow oxidation in the top of a tree. The day after the ceremony he
was amusing himself in the great library by sinking back on a couch in
graceful mortuary attitudes, trying to determine whether he would, when
his day came, be found with his arms crossed piously over his chest
(Monsignor Darcy had once advocated this posture as being the most
distinguished), or with his hands clasped behind his head, a more pagan
and Byronic attitude.
What interested him much more than the final departure of his father
from things mundane was a tri-cornered conversation between Beatrice,
Mr. Barton, of Barton and Krogman, their lawyers, and himself, that took
place several days after the funeral. For the first time he came into
actual cognizance of the family finances, and realized what a tidy
fortune had once been under his father's management. He took a
ledger labelled "1906" and ran through it rather carefully. The total
expenditure that year had come to something over one hundred and ten
thousand dollars. Forty thousand of this had been Beatrice's own income,
and there had been no attempt to account for it: it was all under the
heading, "Drafts, checks, and letters of credit forwarded to Beatrice
Blaine." The dispersal of the rest was rather minutely itemized: the
taxes and improvements on the Lake Geneva estate had come to almost nine
thousand dollars; the general up-keep, including Beatrice's electric and
a French car, bought that year, was over thirty-five thousand dollars.
The rest was fully taken care of, and there were invariably items which
failed to balance on the right side of the ledger.
In the volume for 1912 Amory was shocked to discover the decrease in the
number of bond holdings and the great drop in the income. In the case of
Beatrice's money this was not so pronounced, but it was obvious that his
father had devoted the previous year to several unfortunate gambles in
oil. Very little of the oil had been burned, but Stephen Blaine had
been rather badly singed. The next year and the next and the next showed
similar decreases, and Beatrice had for the first time begun using her
own money for keeping up the house. Yet her doctor's bill for 1913 had
been over nine thousand dollars.
About the exact state of things Mr. Barton was quite vague and confused.
There had been recent investments, the outcome of which was for
the present problematical, and he had an idea there were further
speculations and exchanges concerning which he had not been consulted.
It was not for several months that Beatrice wrote Amory the full
situation. The entire residue of the Blaine and O'Hara fortunes
consisted of the place at Lake Geneva and approximately a half million
dollars, invested now in fairly conservative six-per-cent holdings. In
fact, Beatrice wrote that she was putting the money into railroad and
street-car bonds as fast as she could conveniently transfer it.
"I am quite sure," she wrote to Amory, "that if there is one
thing we can be positive of, it is that people will not stay in
one place. This Ford person has certainly made the most of that
idea. So I am instructing Mr. Barton to specialize on such things
as Northern Pacific and these Rapid Transit Companies, as they
call the street-cars. I shall never forgive myself for not buying
Bethlehem Steel. I've heard the most fascinating stories. You
must go into finance, Amory. I'm sure you would revel in it.
You start as a messenger or a teller, I believe, and from that you
go up--almost indefinitely. I'm sure if I were a man I'd love the
handling of money; it has become quite a senile passion with me.
Before I get any farther I want to discuss something. A Mrs. Bispam,
an overcordial little lady whom I met at a tea the other day,
told me that her son, he is at Yale, wrote her that all the
boys there wore their summer underwear all during the winter,
and also went about with their heads wet and in low shoes on the
coldest days. Now, Amory, I don't know whether that is a fad at
Princeton too, but I don't want you to be so foolish. It not only
inclines a young man to pneumonia and infantile paralysis, but to
all forms of lung trouble, to which you are particularly
inclined. You cannot experiment with your health. I have found
that out. I will not make myself ridiculous as some mothers no
doubt do, by insisting that you wear overshoes, though I remember
one Christmas you wore them around constantly without a single
buckle latched, making such a curious swishing sound, and you
refused to buckle them because it was not the thing to do. The
very next Christmas you would not wear even rubbers, though I
begged you. You are nearly twenty years old now, dear, and I
can't be with you constantly to find whether you are doing the
"This has been a very "practical" letter. I warned you in my last
that the lack of money to do the things one wants to makes one
quite prosy and domestic, but there is still plenty for
everything if we are not too extravagant. Take care of yourself,
my dear boy, and do try to write at least "once" a week, because I
imagine all sorts of horrible things if I don't hear from you.
FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE TERM "PERSONAGE"
Monsignor Darcy invited Amory up to the Stuart palace on the Hudson for
a week at Christmas, and they had enormous conversations around the open
fire. Monsignor was growing a trifle stouter and his personality had
expanded even with that, and Amory felt both rest and security in
sinking into a squat, cushioned chair and joining him in the middle-aged
sanity of a cigar.
"I've felt like leaving college, Monsignor."
"All my career's gone up in smoke; you think it's petty and all that,
"Not at all petty. I think it's most important. I want to hear the whole
thing. Everything you've been doing since I saw you last."
Amory talked; he went thoroughly into the destruction of his egotistic
highways, and in a half-hour the listless quality had left his voice.
"What would you do if you left college?" asked Monsignor.
"Don't know. I'd like to travel, but of course this tiresome war
prevents that. Anyways, mother would hate not having me graduate. I'm
just at sea. Kerry Holiday wants me to go over with him and join the
"You know you wouldn't like to go."
"Sometimes I would--to-night I'd go in a second."
"Well, you'd have to be very much more tired of life than I think you
are. I know you."
"I'm afraid you do," agreed Amory reluctantly. "It just seemed an easy
way out of everything--when I think of another useless, draggy year."
"Yes, I know; but to tell you the truth, I'm not worried about you; you
seem to me to be progressing perfectly naturally."
"No," Amory objected. "I've lost half my personality in a year."
"Not a bit of it!" scoffed Monsignor. "You've lost a great amount of
vanity and that's all."
"Lordy! I feel, anyway, as if I'd gone through another fifth form at St.
"No." Monsignor shook his head. "That was a misfortune; this has been
a good thing. Whatever worth while comes to you, won't be through the
channels you were searching last year."
"What could be more unprofitable than my present lack of pep?"
"Perhaps in itself... but you're developing. This has given you time to
think and you're casting off a lot of your old luggage about success and
the superman and all. People like us can't adopt whole theories, as you
did. If we can do the next thing, and have an hour a day to think in,
we can accomplish marvels, but as far as any high-handed scheme of blind
dominance is concerned--we'd just make asses of ourselves."
"But, Monsignor, I can't do the next thing."
"Amory, between you and me, I have only just learned to do it myself. I
can do the one hundred things beyond the next thing, but I stub my toe
on that, just as you stubbed your toe on mathematics this fall."
"Why do we have to do the next thing? It never seems the sort of thing I
"We have to do it because we're not personalities, but personages."
"That's a good line--what do you mean?"
"A personality is what you thought you were, what this Kerry and Sloane
you tell me of evidently are. Personality is a physical matter almost
entirely; it lowers the people it acts on--I've seen it vanish in a
long sickness. But while a personality is active, it overrides 'the next
thing.' Now a personage, on the other hand, gathers. He is never thought
of apart from what he's done. He's a bar on which a thousand things have
been hung--glittering things sometimes, as ours are; but he uses those
things with a cold mentality back of them."
"And several of my most glittering possessions had fallen off when I
needed them." Amory continued the simile eagerly.
"Yes, that's it; when you feel that your garnered prestige and talents
and all that are hung out, you need never bother about anybody; you can
cope with them without difficulty."
"But, on the other hand, if I haven't my possessions, I'm helpless!"
"That's certainly an idea."
"Now you've a clean start--a start Kerry or Sloane can constitutionally
never have. You brushed three or four ornaments down, and, in a fit of
pique, knocked off the rest of them. The thing now is to collect some
new ones, and the farther you look ahead in the collecting the better.
But remember, do the next thing!"
"How clear you can make things!"
So they talked, often about themselves, sometimes of philosophy and
religion, and life as respectively a game or a mystery. The priest
seemed to guess Amory's thoughts before they were clear in his own head,
so closely related were their minds in form and groove.
"Why do I make lists?" Amory asked him one night. "Lists of all sorts of
"Because you're a mediaevalist," Monsignor answered. "We both are. It's
the passion for classifying and finding a type."
"It's a desire to get something definite."
"It's the nucleus of scholastic philosophy."
"I was beginning to think I was growing eccentric till I came up here.
It was a pose, I guess."
"Don't worry about that; for you not posing may be the biggest pose of
"But do the next thing."
After Amory returned to college he received several letters from
Monsignor which gave him more egotistic food for consumption.
I am afraid that I gave you too much assurance of your inevitable
safety, and you must remember that I did that through faith in
your springs of effort; not in the silly conviction that you will
arrive without struggle. Some nuances of character you will have
to take for granted in yourself, though you must be careful in
confessing them to others. You are unsentimental, almost incapable
of affection, astute without being cunning and vain without being
Don't let yourself feel worthless; often through life you will
really be at your worst when you seem to think best of yourself;
and don't worry about losing your "personality," as you persist
in calling it; at fifteen you had the radiance of early morning,
at twenty you will begin to have the melancholy brilliance of
the moon, and when you are my age you will give out, as I do,
the genial golden warmth of 4 P.M.
If you write me letters, please let them be natural ones. Your
last, that dissertation on architecture, was perfectly awful--
so "highbrow" that I picture you living in an intellectual and
emotional vacuum; and beware of trying to classify people too
definitely into types; you will find that all through their youth
they will persist annoyingly in jumping from class to class, and
by pasting a supercilious label on every one you meet you are
merely packing a Jack-in-the-box that will spring up and leer at
you when you begin to come into really antagonistic contact with
the world. An idealization of some such a man as Leonardo da
Vinci would be a more valuable beacon to you at present.
You are bound to go up and down, just as I did in my youth, but
do keep your clarity of mind, and if fools or sages dare to
criticise don't blame yourself too much.
You say that convention is all that really keeps you straight in
this "woman proposition"; but it's more than that, Amory; it's
the fear that what you begin you can't stop; you would run amuck,
and I know whereof I speak; it's that half-miraculous sixth sense
by which you detect evil, it's the half-realized fear of God in
Whatever your metier proves to be--religion, architecture,
literature--I'm sure you would be much safer anchored to the
Church, but I won't risk my influence by arguing with you even
though I am secretly sure that the "black chasm of Romanism"
yawns beneath you. Do write me soon.
With affectionate regards, THAYER DARCY.
Even Amory's reading paled during this period; he delved further into
the misty side streets of literature: Huysmans, Walter Pater, Theophile
Gautier, and the racier sections of Rabelais, Boccaccio, Petronius, and
Suetonius. One week, through general curiosity, he inspected the private
libraries of his classmates and found Sloane's as typical as any: sets
of Kipling, O. Henry, John Fox, Jr., and Richard Harding Davis; "What
Every Middle-Aged Woman Ought to Know," "The Spell of the Yukon";
a "gift" copy of James Whitcomb Riley, an assortment of battered,
annotated schoolbooks, and, finally, to his surprise, one of his own
late discoveries, the collected poems of Rupert Brooke.
Together with Tom D'Invilliers, he sought among the lights of Princeton
for some one who might found the Great American Poetic Tradition.
The undergraduate body itself was rather more interesting that year than
had been the entirely Philistine Princeton of two years before. Things
had livened surprisingly, though at the sacrifice of much of the
spontaneous charm of freshman year. In the old Princeton they would
never have discovered Tanaduke Wylie. Tanaduke was a sophomore, with
tremendous ears and a way of saying, "The earth swirls down through
the ominous moons of preconsidered generations!" that made them vaguely
wonder why it did not sound quite clear, but never question that it was
the utterance of a supersoul. At least so Tom and Amory took him. They
told him in all earnestness that he had a mind like Shelley's, and
featured his ultrafree free verse and prose poetry in the Nassau
Literary Magazine. But Tanaduke's genius absorbed the many colors of the
age, and he took to the Bohemian life, to their great disappointment. He
talked of Greenwich Village now instead of "noon-swirled moons," and
met winter muses, unacademic, and cloistered by Forty-second Street
and Broadway, instead of the Shelleyan dream-children with whom he had
regaled their expectant appreciation. So they surrendered Tanaduke to
the futurists, deciding that he and his flaming ties would do better
there. Tom gave him the final advice that he should stop writing for two
years and read the complete works of Alexander Pope four times, but on
Amory's suggestion that Pope for Tanaduke was like foot-ease for stomach
trouble, they withdrew in laughter, and called it a coin's toss whether
this genius was too big or too petty for them.
Amory rather scornfully avoided the popular professors who dispensed
easy epigrams and thimblefuls of Chartreuse to groups of admirers every
night. He was disappointed, too, at the air of general uncertainty on
every subject that seemed linked with the pedantic temperament; his
opinions took shape in a miniature satire called "In a Lecture-Room,"
which he persuaded Tom to print in the Nassau Lit.
Three times a week
You hold us helpless while you speak,
Teasing our thirsty souls with the
Sleek 'yeas' of your philosophy...
Well, here we are, your hundred sheep,
Tune up, play on, pour forth... we sleep...
You are a student, so they say;
You hammered out the other day
A syllabus, from what we know
Of some forgotten folio;
You'd sniffled through an era's must,
Filling your nostrils up with dust,
And then, arising from your knees,
Published, in one gigantic sneeze...
But here's a neighbor on my right,
An Eager Ass, considered bright;
Asker of questions.... How he'll stand,
With earnest air and fidgy hand,
After this hour, telling you
He sat all night and burrowed through
Your book.... Oh, you'll be coy and he
Will simulate precosity,
And pedants both, you'll smile and smirk,
And leer, and hasten back to work....
'Twas this day week, sir, you returned
A theme of mine, from which I learned
(Through various comment on the side
Which you had scrawled) that I defied
The "highest rules of criticism"
For "cheap" and "careless" witticism....
'Are you quite sure that this could be?'
'Shaw is no authority!'
But Eager Ass, with what he's sent,
Plays havoc with your best per cent.
Still--still I meet you here and there...
When Shakespeare's played you hold a chair,
And some defunct, moth-eaten star
Enchants the mental prig you are...
A radical comes down and shocks
The atheistic orthodox?
You're representing Common Sense,
Mouth open, in the audience.
And, sometimes, even chapel lures
That conscious tolerance of yours,
That broad and beaming view of truth
(Including Kant and General Booth...)
And so from shock to shock you live,
A hollow, pale affirmative...
The hour's up... and roused from rest
One hundred children of the blest
Cheat you a word or two with feet
That down the noisy aisle-ways beat...
Forget on "narrow-minded earth"
The Mighty Yawn that gave you birth."
In April, Kerry Holiday left college and sailed for France to enroll in
the Lafayette Esquadrille. Amory's envy and admiration of this step
was drowned in an experience of his own to which he never succeeded in
giving an appropriate value, but which, nevertheless, haunted him for
three years afterward.
Healy's they left at twelve and taxied to Bistolary's. There were Axia
Marlowe and Phoebe Column, from the Summer Garden show, Fred Sloane
and Amory. The evening was so very young that they felt ridiculous with
surplus energy, and burst into the cafe like Dionysian revellers.
"Table for four in the middle of the floor," yelled Phoebe. "Hurry, old
dear, tell 'em we're here!"
"Tell 'em to play 'Admiration'!" shouted Sloane. "You two order; Phoebe
and I are going to shake a wicked calf," and they sailed off in the
muddled crowd. Axia and Amory, acquaintances of an hour, jostled behind
a waiter to a table at a point of vantage; there they took seats and
"There's Findle Margotson, from New Haven!" she cried above the uproar.
"'Lo, Findle! Whoo-ee!"
"Oh, Axia!" he shouted in salutation. "C'mon over to our table." "No!"
"Can't do it, Findle; I'm with somebody else! Call me up to-morrow about
Findle, a nondescript man-about-Bisty's, answered incoherently and
turned back to the brilliant blonde whom he was endeavoring to steer
around the room.
"There's a natural damn fool," commented Amory.
"Oh, he's all right. Here's the old jitney waiter. If you ask me, I want
a double Daiquiri."
"Make it four."
The crowd whirled and changed and shifted. They were mostly from the
colleges, with a scattering of the male refuse of Broadway, and women of
two types, the higher of which was the chorus girl. On the whole it was
a typical crowd, and their party as typical as any. About three-fourths
of the whole business was for effect and therefore harmless, ended at
the door of the cafe, soon enough for the five-o'clock train back to
Yale or Princeton; about one-fourth continued on into the dimmer hours
and gathered strange dust from strange places. Their party was scheduled
to be one of the harmless kind. Fred Sloane and Phoebe Column were old
friends; Axia and Amory new ones. But strange things are prepared even
in the dead of night, and the unusual, which lurks least in the cafe,
home of the prosaic and inevitable, was preparing to spoil for him
the waning romance of Broadway. The way it took was so inexpressibly
terrible, so unbelievable, that afterward he never thought of it as
experience; but it was a scene from a misty tragedy, played far behind
the veil, and that it meant something definite he knew.
About one o'clock they moved to Maxim's, and two found them in
Deviniere's. Sloane had been drinking consecutively and was in a state
of unsteady exhilaration, but Amory was quite tiresomely sober; they
had run across none of those ancient, corrupt buyers of champagne who
usually assisted their New York parties. They were just through dancing
and were making their way back to their chairs when Amory became aware
that some one at a near-by table was looking at him. He turned and
glanced casually... a middle-aged man dressed in a brown sack suit, it
was, sitting a little apart at a table by himself and watching their
party intently. At Amory's glance he smiled faintly. Amory turned to
Fred, who was just sitting down.
"Who's that pale fool watching us?" he complained indignantly.
"Where?" cried Sloane. "We'll have him thrown out!" He rose to his feet
and swayed back and forth, clinging to his chair. "Where is he?"
Axia and Phoebe suddenly leaned and whispered to each other across the
table, and before Amory realized it they found themselves on their way
to the door.
"Up to the flat," suggested Phoebe. "We've got brandy and fizz--and
everything's slow down here to-night."
Amory considered quickly. He hadn't been drinking, and decided that if
he took no more, it would be reasonably discreet for him to trot along
in the party. In fact, it would be, perhaps, the thing to do in order to
keep an eye on Sloane, who was not in a state to do his own thinking. So
he took Axia's arm and, piling intimately into a taxicab, they drove out
over the hundreds and drew up at a tall, white-stone apartment-house.
... Never would he forget that street.... It was a broad street, lined
on both sides with just such tall, white-stone buildings, dotted with
dark windows; they stretched along as far as the eye could see, flooded
with a bright moonlight that gave them a calcium pallor. He imagined
each one to have an elevator and a colored hall-boy and a key-rack; each
one to be eight stories high and full of three and four room suites. He
was rather glad to walk into the cheeriness of Phoebe's living-room and
sink onto a sofa, while the girls went rummaging for food.
"Phoebe's great stuff," confided Sloane, sotto voce.
"I'm only going to stay half an hour," Amory said sternly. He wondered
if it sounded priggish.
"Hell y' say," protested Sloane. "We're here now--don't le's rush."
"I don't like this place," Amory said sulkily, "and I don't want any
Phoebe reappeared with sandwiches, brandy bottle, siphon, and four
"Amory, pour 'em out," she said, "and we'll drink to Fred Sloane, who
has a rare, distinguished edge."
"Yes," said Axia, coming in, "and Amory. I like Amory." She sat down
beside him and laid her yellow head on his shoulder.
"I'll pour," said Sloane; "you use siphon, Phoebe."
They filled the tray with glasses.
"Ready, here she goes!"
Amory hesitated, glass in hand.
There was a minute while temptation crept over him like a warm wind,
and his imagination turned to fire, and he took the glass from Phoebe's
hand. That was all; for at the second that his decision came, he looked
up and saw, ten yards from him, the man who had been in the cafe, and
with his jump of astonishment the glass fell from his uplifted hand.
There the man half sat, half leaned against a pile of pillows on the
corner divan. His face was cast in the same yellow wax as in the cafe,
neither the dull, pasty color of a dead man--rather a sort of virile
pallor--nor unhealthy, you'd have called it; but like a strong man who'd
worked in a mine or done night shifts in a damp climate. Amory looked
him over carefully and later he could have drawn him after a fashion,
down to the merest details. His mouth was the kind that is called frank,
and he had steady gray eyes that moved slowly from one to the other
of their group, with just the shade of a questioning expression. Amory
noticed his hands; they weren't fine at all, but they had versatility
and a tenuous strength... they were nervous hands that sat lightly
along the cushions and moved constantly with little jerky openings and
closings. Then, suddenly, Amory perceived the feet, and with a rush of
blood to the head he realized he was afraid. The feet were all wrong ...
with a sort of wrongness that he felt rather than knew.... It was like
weakness in a good woman, or blood on satin; one of those terrible
incongruities that shake little things in the back of the brain. He wore
no shoes, but, instead, a sort of half moccasin, pointed, though, like
the shoes they wore in the fourteenth century, and with the little ends
curling up. They were a darkish brown and his toes seemed to fill them
to the end.... They were unutterably terrible....
He must have said something, or looked something, for Axia's voice came
out of the void with a strange goodness.
"Well, look at Amory! Poor old Amory's sick--old head going 'round?"
"Look at that man!" cried Amory, pointing toward the corner divan.
"You mean that purple zebra!" shrieked Axia facetiously. "Ooo-ee!
Amory's got a purple zebra watching him!"
Sloane laughed vacantly.
"Ole zebra gotcha, Amory?"
There was a silence.... The man regarded Amory quizzically.... Then the
human voices fell faintly on his ear:
"Thought you weren't drinking," remarked Axia sardonically, but her
voice was good to hear; the whole divan that held the man was alive;
alive like heat waves over asphalt, like wriggling worms....
"Come back! Come back!" Axia's arm fell on his. "Amory, dear, you aren't
going, Amory!" He was half-way to the door.
"Come on, Amory, stick 'th us!"
"Sick, are you?"
"Sit down a second!"
"Take some water."
"Take a little brandy...."
The elevator was close, and the colored boy was half asleep, paled to
a livid bronze... Axia's beseeching voice floated down the shaft. Those
feet... those feet...
As they settled to the lower floor the feet came into view in the sickly
electric light of the paved hall.
IN THE ALLEY
Down the long street came the moon, and Amory turned his back on it and
walked. Ten, fifteen steps away sounded the footsteps. They were like a
slow dripping, with just the slightest insistence in their fall.
Amory's shadow lay, perhaps, ten feet ahead of him, and soft shoes was
presumably that far behind. With the instinct of a child Amory edged in
under the blue darkness of the white buildings, cleaving the moonlight
for haggard seconds, once bursting into a slow run with clumsy
stumblings. After that he stopped suddenly; he must keep hold, he
thought. His lips were dry and he licked them.
If he met any one good--were there any good people left in the world or
did they all live in white apartment-houses now? Was every one followed
in the moonlight? But if he met some one good who'd know what he meant
and hear this damned scuffle... then the scuffling grew suddenly nearer,
and a black cloud settled over the moon. When again the pale sheen
skimmed the cornices, it was almost beside him, and Amory thought he
heard a quiet breathing. Suddenly he realized that the footsteps were
not behind, had never been behind, they were ahead and he was not
eluding but following... following. He began to run, blindly, his heart
knocking heavily, his hands clinched. Far ahead a black dot showed
itself, resolved slowly into a human shape. But Amory was beyond that
now; he turned off the street and darted into an alley, narrow and
dark and smelling of old rottenness. He twisted down a long, sinuous
blackness, where the moonlight was shut away except for tiny glints
and patches... then suddenly sank panting into a corner by a fence,
exhausted. The steps ahead stopped, and he could hear them shift
slightly with a continuous motion, like waves around a dock.
He put his face in his hands and covered eyes and ears as well as
he could. During all this time it never occurred to him that he was
delirious or drunk. He had a sense of reality such as material things
could never give him. His intellectual content seemed to submit
passively to it, and it fitted like a glove everything that had ever
preceded it in his life. It did not muddle him. It was like a problem
whose answer he knew on paper, yet whose solution he was unable to
grasp. He was far beyond horror. He had sunk through the thin surface of
that, now moved in a region where the feet and the fear of white walls
were real, living things, things he must accept. Only far inside his
soul a little fire leaped and cried that something was pulling him down,
trying to get him inside a door and slam it behind him. After that door
was slammed there would be only footfalls and white buildings in the
moonlight, and perhaps he would be one of the footfalls.
During the five or ten minutes he waited in the shadow of the fence,
there was somehow this fire... that was as near as he could name it
afterward. He remembered calling aloud:
"I want some one stupid. Oh, send some one stupid!" This to the
black fence opposite him, in whose shadows the footsteps shuffled
... shuffled. He supposed "stupid" and "good" had become somehow
intermingled through previous association. When he called thus it was
not an act of will at all--will had turned him away from the moving
figure in the street; it was almost instinct that called, just the pile
on pile of inherent tradition or some wild prayer from way over the
night. Then something clanged like a low gong struck at a distance,
and before his eyes a face flashed over the two feet, a face pale and
distorted with a sort of infinite evil that twisted it like flame in
the wind; "but he knew, for the half instant that the gong tanged and
hummed, that it was the face of Dick Humbird."
Minutes later he sprang to his feet, realizing dimly that there was no
more sound, and that he was alone in the graying alley. It was cold, and
he started on a steady run for the light that showed the street at the
AT THE WINDOW
It was late morning when he woke and found the telephone beside his bed
in the hotel tolling frantically, and remembered that he had left word
to be called at eleven. Sloane was snoring heavily, his clothes in a
pile by his bed. They dressed and ate breakfast in silence, and then
sauntered out to get some air. Amory's mind was working slowly, trying
to assimilate what had happened and separate from the chaotic imagery
that stacked his memory the bare shreds of truth. If the morning had
been cold and gray he could have grasped the reins of the past in an
instant, but it was one of those days that New York gets sometimes in
May, when the air on Fifth Avenue is a soft, light wine. How much or how
little Sloane remembered Amory did not care to know; he apparently had
none of the nervous tension that was gripping Amory and forcing his mind
back and forth like a shrieking saw.
Then Broadway broke upon them, and with the babel of noise and the
painted faces a sudden sickness rushed over Amory.
"For God's sake, let's go back! Let's get off of this--this place!"
Sloane looked at him in amazement.
"What do you mean?"
"This street, it's ghastly! Come on! let's get back to the Avenue!"
"Do you mean to say," said Sloane stolidly, "that 'cause you had some
sort of indigestion that made you act like a maniac last night, you're
never coming on Broadway again?"
Simultaneously Amory classed him with the crowd, and he seemed no longer
Sloane of the debonair humor and the happy personality, but only one of
the evil faces that whirled along the turbid stream.
"Man!" he shouted so loud that the people on the corner turned and
followed them with their eyes, "it's filthy, and if you can't see it,
you're filthy, too!"
"I can't help it," said Sloane doggedly. "What's the matter with you?
Old remorse getting you? You'd be in a fine state if you'd gone through
with our little party."
"I'm going, Fred," said Amory slowly. His knees were shaking under him,
and he knew that if he stayed another minute on this street he would
keel over where he stood. "I'll be at the Vanderbilt for lunch." And he
strode rapidly off and turned over to Fifth Avenue. Back at the hotel he
felt better, but as he walked into the barber-shop, intending to get a
head massage, the smell of the powders and tonics brought back Axia's
sidelong, suggestive smile, and he left hurriedly. In the doorway of his
room a sudden blackness flowed around him like a divided river.
When he came to himself he knew that several hours had passed. He
pitched onto the bed and rolled over on his face with a deadly fear that
he was going mad. He wanted people, people, some one sane and stupid and
good. He lay for he knew not how long without moving. He could feel
the little hot veins on his forehead standing out, and his terror had
hardened on him like plaster. He felt he was passing up again through
the thin crust of horror, and now only could he distinguish the shadowy
twilight he was leaving. He must have fallen asleep again, for when he
next recollected himself he had paid the hotel bill and was stepping
into a taxi at the door. It was raining torrents.
On the train for Princeton he saw no one he knew, only a crowd of
fagged-looking Philadelphians. The presence of a painted woman across
the aisle filled him with a fresh burst of sickness and he changed to
another car, tried to concentrate on an article in a popular magazine.
He found himself reading the same paragraphs over and over, so he
abandoned this attempt and leaning over wearily pressed his hot forehead
against the damp window-pane. The car, a smoker, was hot and stuffy with
most of the smells of the state's alien population; he opened a window
and shivered against the cloud of fog that drifted in over him. The two
hours' ride were like days, and he nearly cried aloud with joy when the
towers of Princeton loomed up beside him and the yellow squares of light
filtered through the blue rain.
Tom was standing in the centre of the room, pensively relighting a
cigar-stub. Amory fancied he looked rather relieved on seeing him.
"Had a hell of a dream about you last night," came in the cracked voice
through the cigar smoke. "I had an idea you were in some trouble."
"Don't tell me about it!" Amory almost shrieked. "Don't say a word; I'm
tired and pepped out."
Tom looked at him queerly and then sank into a chair and opened his
Italian note-book. Amory threw his coat and hat on the floor, loosened
his collar, and took a Wells novel at random from the shelf. "Wells is
sane," he thought, "and if he won't do I'll read Rupert Brooke."
Half an hour passed. Outside the wind came up, and Amory started as
the wet branches moved and clawed with their finger-nails at the
window-pane. Tom was deep in his work, and inside the room only the
occasional scratch of a match or the rustle of leather as they shifted
in their chairs broke the stillness. Then like a zigzag of lightning
came the change. Amory sat bolt upright, frozen cold in his chair. Tom
was looking at him with his mouth drooping, eyes fixed.
"God help us!" Amory cried.
"Oh, my heavens!" shouted Tom, "look behind!" Quick as a flash Amory
whirled around. He saw nothing but the dark window-pane. "It's gone
now," came Tom's voice after a second in a still terror. "Something was
looking at you."
Trembling violently, Amory dropped into his chair again.
"I've got to tell you," he said. "I've had one hell of an experience.
I think I've--I've seen the devil or--something like him. What face did
you just see?--or no," he added quickly, "don't tell me!"
And he gave Tom the story. It was midnight when he finished, and after
that, with all lights burning, two sleepy, shivering boys read to each
other from "The New Machiavelli," until dawn came up out of Witherspoon
Hall, and the Princetonian fell against the door, and the May birds
hailed the sun on last night's rain.
CHAPTER 4. Narcissus Off Duty
During Princeton's transition period, that is, during Amory's last
two years there, while he saw it change and broaden and live up to its
Gothic beauty by better means than night parades, certain individuals
arrived who stirred it to its plethoric depths. Some of them had been
freshmen, and wild freshmen, with Amory; some were in the class below;
and it was in the beginning of his last year and around small tables at
the Nassau Inn that they began questioning aloud the institutions that
Amory and countless others before him had questioned so long in secret.
First, and partly by accident, they struck on certain books, a definite
type of biographical novel that Amory christened "quest" books. In the
"quest" book the hero set off in life armed with the best weapons and
avowedly intending to use them as such weapons are usually used, to push
their possessors ahead as selfishly and blindly as possible, but the
heroes of the "quest" books discovered that there might be a more
magnificent use for them. "None Other Gods," "Sinister Street," and "The
Research Magnificent" were examples of such books; it was the latter
of these three that gripped Burne Holiday and made him wonder in the
beginning of senior year how much it was worth while being a diplomatic
autocrat around his club on Prospect Avenue and basking in the high
lights of class office. It was distinctly through the channels of
aristocracy that Burne found his way. Amory, through Kerry, had had a
vague drifting acquaintance with him, but not until January of senior
year did their friendship commence.
"Heard the latest?" said Tom, coming in late one drizzly evening with
that triumphant air he always wore after a successful conversational
"No. Somebody flunked out? Or another ship sunk?"
"Worse than that. About one-third of the junior class are going to
resign from their clubs."
"Spirit of reform and all that. Burne Holiday is behind it. The club
presidents are holding a meeting to-night to see if they can find a
joint means of combating it."
"Well, what's the idea of the thing?"
"Oh, clubs injurious to Princeton democracy; cost a lot; draw social
lines, take time; the regular line you get sometimes from disappointed
sophomores. Woodrow thought they should be abolished and all that."
"But this is the real thing?"
"Absolutely. I think it'll go through."
"For Pete's sake, tell me more about it."
"Well," began Tom, "it seems that the idea developed simultaneously in
several heads. I was talking to Burne awhile ago, and he claims that
it's a logical result if an intelligent person thinks long enough
about the social system. They had a 'discussion crowd' and the point of
abolishing the clubs was brought up by some one--everybody there leaped
at it--it had been in each one's mind, more or less, and it just needed
a spark to bring it out."
"Fine! I swear I think it'll be most entertaining. How do they feel up
at Cap and Gown?"
"Wild, of course. Every one's been sitting and arguing and swearing and
getting mad and getting sentimental and getting brutal. It's the same at
all the clubs; I've been the rounds. They get one of the radicals in the
corner and fire questions at him."
"How do the radicals stand up?"
"Oh, moderately well. Burne's a damn good talker, and so obviously
sincere that you can't get anywhere with him. It's so evident that
resigning from his club means so much more to him than preventing it
does to us that I felt futile when I argued; finally took a position
that was brilliantly neutral. In fact, I believe Burne thought for a
while that he'd converted me."
"And you say almost a third of the junior class are going to resign?"
"Call it a fourth and be safe."
"Lord--who'd have thought it possible!"
There was a brisk knock at the door, and Burne himself came in. "Hello,
"'Evening, Burne. Don't mind if I seem to rush; I'm going to Renwick's."
Burne turned to him quickly.
"You probably know what I want to talk to Tom about, and it isn't a bit
private. I wish you'd stay."
"I'd be glad to." Amory sat down again, and as Burne perched on a table
and launched into argument with Tom, he looked at this revolutionary
more carefully than he ever had before. Broad-browed and strong-chinned,
with a fineness in the honest gray eyes that were like Kerry's,
Burne was a man who gave an immediate impression of bigness and
security--stubborn, that was evident, but his stubbornness wore no
stolidity, and when he had talked for five minutes Amory knew that this
keen enthusiasm had in it no quality of dilettantism.
The intense power Amory felt later in Burne Holiday differed from the
admiration he had had for Humbird. This time it began as purely a
mental interest. With other men of whom he had thought as primarily
first-class, he had been attracted first by their personalities, and
in Burne he missed that immediate magnetism to which he usually
swore allegiance. But that night Amory was struck by Burne's intense
earnestness, a quality he was accustomed to associate only with the
dread stupidity, and by the great enthusiasm that struck dead chords in
his heart. Burne stood vaguely for a land Amory hoped he was drifting
toward--and it was almost time that land was in sight. Tom and Amory and
Alec had reached an impasse; never did they seem to have new experiences
in common, for Tom and Alec had been as blindly busy with their
committees and boards as Amory had been blindly idling, and the things
they had for dissection--college, contemporary personality and the
like--they had hashed and rehashed for many a frugal conversational
That night they discussed the clubs until twelve, and, in the main, they
agreed with Burne. To the roommates it did not seem such a vital subject
as it had in the two years before, but the logic of Burne's objections
to the social system dovetailed so completely with everything they had
thought, that they questioned rather than argued, and envied the sanity
that enabled this man to stand out so against all traditions.
Then Amory branched off and found that Burne was deep in other things
as well. Economics had interested him and he was turning socialist.
Pacifism played in the back of his mind, and he read The Masses and
Lyoff Tolstoi faithfully.
"How about religion?" Amory asked him.
"Don't know. I'm in a muddle about a lot of things--I've just discovered
that I've a mind, and I'm starting to read."
"Everything. I have to pick and choose, of course, but mostly things to
make me think. I'm reading the four gospels now, and the 'Varieties of
"What chiefly started you?"
"Wells, I guess, and Tolstoi, and a man named Edward Carpenter. I've
been reading for over a year now--on a few lines, on what I consider the
"Well, frankly, not what you call poetry, or for your reasons--you two
write, of course, and look at things differently. Whitman is the man
that attracts me."
"Yes; he's a definite ethical force."
"Well, I'm ashamed to say that I'm a blank on the subject of Whitman.
How about you, Tom?"
Tom nodded sheepishly.
"Well," continued Burne, "you may strike a few poems that are tiresome,
but I mean the mass of his work. He's tremendous--like Tolstoi. They
both look things in the face, and, somehow, different as they are, stand
for somewhat the same things."
"You have me stumped, Burne," Amory admitted. "I've read 'Anna Karenina'
and the 'Kreutzer Sonata' of course, but Tolstoi is mostly in the
original Russian as far as I'm concerned."
"He's the greatest man in hundreds of years," cried Burne
enthusiastically. "Did you ever see a picture of that shaggy old head of
They talked until three, from biology to organized religion, and when
Amory crept shivering into bed it was with his mind aglow with ideas
and a sense of shock that some one else had discovered the path he might
have followed. Burne Holiday was so evidently developing--and Amory
had considered that he was doing the same. He had fallen into a deep
cynicism over what had crossed his path, plotted the imperfectability of
man and read Shaw and Chesterton enough to keep his mind from the edges
of decadence--now suddenly all his mental processes of the last year and
a half seemed stale and futile--a petty consummation of himself... and
like a sombre background lay that incident of the spring before, that
filled half his nights with a dreary terror and made him unable to pray.
He was not even a Catholic, yet that was the only ghost of a code that
he had, the gaudy, ritualistic, paradoxical Catholicism whose prophet
was Chesterton, whose claqueurs were such reformed rakes of literature
as Huysmans and Bourget, whose American sponsor was Ralph Adams Cram,
with his adulation of thirteenth-century cathedrals--a Catholicism which
Amory found convenient and ready-made, without priest or sacraments or
He could not sleep, so he turned on his reading-lamp and, taking down
the "Kreutzer Sonata," searched it carefully for the germs of Burne's
enthusiasm. Being Burne was suddenly so much realler than being clever.
Yet he sighed... here were other possible clay feet.
He thought back through two years, of Burne as a hurried, nervous
freshman, quite submerged in his brother's personality. Then he
remembered an incident of sophomore year, in which Burne had been
suspected of the leading role.
Dean Hollister had been heard by a large group arguing with a
taxi-driver, who had driven him from the junction. In the course of the
altercation the dean remarked that he "might as well buy the taxicab."
He paid and walked off, but next morning he entered his private office
to find the taxicab itself in the space usually occupied by his desk,
bearing a sign which read "Property of Dean Hollister. Bought and Paid
for."... It took two expert mechanics half a day to dissemble it into
its minutest parts and remove it, which only goes to prove the rare
energy of sophomore humor under efficient leadership.
Then again, that very fall, Burne had caused a sensation. A certain
Phyllis Styles, an intercollegiate prom-trotter, had failed to get her
yearly invitation to the Harvard-Princeton game.
Jesse Ferrenby had brought her to a smaller game a few weeks before,
and had pressed Burne into service--to the ruination of the latter's
"Are you coming to the Harvard game?" Burne had asked indiscreetly,
merely to make conversation.
"If you ask me," cried Phyllis quickly.
"Of course I do," said Burne feebly. He was unversed in the arts of
Phyllis, and was sure that this was merely a vapid form of kidding.
Before an hour had passed he knew that he was indeed involved. Phyllis
had pinned him down and served him up, informed him the train she was
arriving by, and depressed him thoroughly. Aside from loathing Phyllis,
he had particularly wanted to stag that game and entertain some Harvard
"She'll see," he informed a delegation who arrived in his room to josh
him. "This will be the last game she ever persuades any young innocent
to take her to!"
"But, Burne--why did you "invite" her if you didn't want her?"
"Burne, you "know" you're secretly mad about her--that's the "real"
"What can "you" do, Burne? What can "you" do against Phyllis?"
But Burne only shook his head and muttered threats which consisted
largely of the phrase: "She'll see, she'll see!"
The blithesome Phyllis bore her twenty-five summers gayly from the
train, but on the platform a ghastly sight met her eyes. There were
Burne and Fred Sloane arrayed to the last dot like the lurid figures
on college posters. They had bought flaring suits with huge peg-top
trousers and gigantic padded shoulders. On their heads were rakish
college hats, pinned up in front and sporting bright orange-and-black
bands, while from their celluloid collars blossomed flaming orange ties.
They wore black arm-bands with orange "P's," and carried canes
flying Princeton pennants, the effect completed by socks and peeping
handkerchiefs in the same color motifs. On a clanking chain they led a
large, angry tom-cat, painted to represent a tiger.
A good half of the station crowd was already staring at them, torn
between horrified pity and riotous mirth, and as Phyllis, with her
svelte jaw dropping, approached, the pair bent over and emitted a
college cheer in loud, far-carrying voices, thoughtfully adding the
name "Phyllis" to the end. She was vociferously greeted and escorted
enthusiastically across the campus, followed by half a hundred village
urchins--to the stifled laughter of hundreds of alumni and visitors,
half of whom had no idea that this was a practical joke, but thought
that Burne and Fred were two varsity sports showing their girl a
Phyllis's feelings as she was paraded by the Harvard and Princeton
stands, where sat dozens of her former devotees, can be imagined. She
tried to walk a little ahead, she tried to walk a little behind--but
they stayed close, that there should be no doubt whom she was with,
talking in loud voices of their friends on the football team, until she
could almost hear her acquaintances whispering:
"Phyllis Styles must be "awfully hard up" to have to come with "those
That had been Burne, dynamically humorous, fundamentally serious. From
that root had blossomed the energy that he was now trying to orient with
So the weeks passed and March came and the clay feet that Amory looked
for failed to appear. About a hundred juniors and seniors resigned
from their clubs in a final fury of righteousness, and the clubs in
helplessness turned upon Burne their finest weapon: ridicule. Every one
who knew him liked him--but what he stood for (and he began to stand for
more all the time) came under the lash of many tongues, until a frailer
man than he would have been snowed under.
"Don't you mind losing prestige?" asked Amory one night. They had taken
to exchanging calls several times a week.
"Of course I don't. What's prestige, at best?"
"Some people say that you're just a rather original politician."
He roared with laughter.
"That's what Fred Sloane told me to-day. I suppose I have it coming."
One afternoon they dipped into a subject that had interested Amory for
a long time--the matter of the bearing of physical attributes on a man's
make-up. Burne had gone into the biology of this, and then:
"Of course health counts--a healthy man has twice the chance of being
good," he said.
"I don't agree with you--I don't believe in 'muscular Christianity.'"
"I do--I believe Christ had great physical vigor."
"Oh, no," Amory protested. "He worked too hard for that. I imagine that
when he died he was a broken-down man--and the great saints haven't been
"Half of them have."
"Well, even granting that, I don't think health has anything to do with
goodness; of course, it's valuable to a great saint to be able to stand
enormous strains, but this fad of popular preachers rising on their
toes in simulated virility, bellowing that calisthenics will save the
world--no, Burne, I can't go that."
"Well, let's waive it--we won't get anywhere, and besides I haven't
quite made up my mind about it myself. Now, here's something I "do"
know--personal appearance has a lot to do with it."
"Coloring?" Amory asked eagerly.
"That's what Tom and I figured," Amory agreed. "We took the year-books
for the last ten years and looked at the pictures of the senior council.
I know you don't think much of that august body, but it does represent
success here in a general way. Well, I suppose only about thirty-five
per cent of every class here are blonds, are really light--yet
"two-thirds" of every senior council are light. We looked at pictures
of ten years of them, mind you; that means that out of every "fifteen"
light-haired men in the senior class "one" is on the senior council, and
of the dark-haired men it's only one in "fifty"."
"It's true," Burne agreed. "The light-haired man "is" a higher type,
generally speaking. I worked the thing out with the Presidents of
the United States once, and found that way over half of them were
light-haired--yet think of the preponderant number of brunettes in the
"People unconsciously admit it," said Amory. "You'll notice a blond
person is "expected" to talk. If a blond girl doesn't talk we call her a
'doll'; if a light-haired man is silent he's considered stupid. Yet
the world is full of 'dark silent men' and 'languorous brunettes' who
haven't a brain in their heads, but somehow are never accused of the
"And the large mouth and broad chin and rather big nose undoubtedly make
the superior face."
"I'm not so sure." Amory was all for classical features.
"Oh, yes--I'll show you," and Burne pulled out of his desk a
photographic collection of heavily bearded, shaggy celebrities--Tolstoi,
Whitman, Carpenter, and others.
"Aren't they wonderful?"
Amory tried politely to appreciate them, and gave up laughingly.
"Burne, I think they're the ugliest-looking crowd I ever came across.
They look like an old man's home."
"Oh, Amory, look at that forehead on Emerson; look at Tolstoi's eyes."
His tone was reproachful.
Amory shook his head.
"No! Call them remarkable-looking or anything you want--but ugly they
Unabashed, Burne ran his hand lovingly across the spacious foreheads,
and piling up the pictures put them back in his desk.
Walking at night was one of his favorite pursuits, and one night he
persuaded Amory to accompany him.
"I hate the dark," Amory objected. "I didn't use to--except when I was
particularly imaginative, but now, I really do--I'm a regular fool about
"That's useless, you know."
"We'll go east," Burne suggested, "and down that string of roads through
"Doesn't sound very appealing to me," admitted Amory reluctantly, "but
They set off at a good gait, and for an hour swung along in a brisk
argument until the lights of Princeton were luminous white blots behind
"Any person with any imagination is bound to be afraid," said Burne
earnestly. "And this very walking at night is one of the things I was
afraid about. I'm going to tell you why I can walk anywhere now and not
"Go on," Amory urged eagerly. They were striding toward the woods,
Burne's nervous, enthusiastic voice warming to his subject.
"I used to come out here alone at night, oh, three months ago, and I
always stopped at that cross-road we just passed. There were the woods
looming up ahead, just as they do now, there were dogs howling and
the shadows and no human sound. Of course, I peopled the woods with
everything ghastly, just like you do; don't you?"
"I do," Amory admitted.
"Well, I began analyzing it--my imagination persisted in sticking
horrors into the dark--so I stuck my imagination into the dark instead,
and let it look out at me--I let it play stray dog or escaped convict
or ghost, and then saw myself coming along the road. That made it all
right--as it always makes everything all right to project yourself
completely into another's place. I knew that if I were the dog or the
convict or the ghost I wouldn't be a menace to Burne Holiday any more
than he was a menace to me. Then I thought of my watch. I'd better go
back and leave it and then essay the woods. No; I decided, it's
better on the whole that I should lose a watch than that I should turn
back--and I did go into them--not only followed the road through them,
but walked into them until I wasn't frightened any more--did it until
one night I sat down and dozed off in there; then I knew I was through
being afraid of the dark."
"Lordy," Amory breathed. "I couldn't have done that. I'd have come out
half-way, and the first time an automobile passed and made the dark
thicker when its lamps disappeared, I'd have come in."
"Well," Burne said suddenly, after a few moments' silence, "we're
half-way through, let's turn back."
On the return he launched into a discussion of will.
"It's the whole thing," he asserted. "It's the one dividing line between
good and evil. I've never met a man who led a rotten life and didn't
have a weak will."
"How about great criminals?"
"They're usually insane. If not, they're weak. There is no such thing as
a strong, sane criminal."
"Burne, I disagree with you altogether; how about the superman?"
"He's evil, I think, yet he's strong and sane."
"I've never met him. I'll bet, though, that he's stupid or insane."
"I've met him over and over and he's neither. That's why I think you're
"I'm sure I'm not--and so I don't believe in imprisonment except for the
On this point Amory could not agree. It seemed to him that life
and history were rife with the strong criminal, keen, but often
self-deluding; in politics and business one found him and among the
old statesmen and kings and generals; but Burne never agreed and their
courses began to split on that point.
Burne was drawing farther and farther away from the world about him. He
resigned the vice-presidency of the senior class and took to reading and
walking as almost his only pursuits. He voluntarily attended graduate
lectures in philosophy and biology, and sat in all of them with a rather
pathetically intent look in his eyes, as if waiting for something the
lecturer would never quite come to. Sometimes Amory would see him squirm
in his seat; and his face would light up; he was on fire to debate a
He grew more abstracted on the street and was even accused of becoming
a snob, but Amory knew it was nothing of the sort, and once when Burne
passed him four feet off, absolutely unseeingly, his mind a thousand
miles away, Amory almost choked with the romantic joy of watching him.
Burne seemed to be climbing heights where others would be forever unable
to get a foothold.
"I tell you," Amory declared to Tom, "he's the first contemporary I've
ever met whom I'll admit is my superior in mental capacity."
"It's a bad time to admit it--people are beginning to think he's odd."
"He's way over their heads--you know you think so yourself when you
talk to him--Good Lord, Tom, you "used" to stand out against 'people.'
Success has completely conventionalized you."
Tom grew rather annoyed.
"What's he trying to do--be excessively holy?"
"No! not like anybody you've ever seen. Never enters the Philadelphian
Society. He has no faith in that rot. He doesn't believe that public
swimming-pools and a kind word in time will right the wrongs of the
world; moreover, he takes a drink whenever he feels like it."
"He certainly is getting in wrong."
"Have you talked to him lately?"
"Then you haven't any conception of him."
The argument ended nowhere, but Amory noticed more than ever how the
sentiment toward Burne had changed on the campus.
"It's odd," Amory said to Tom one night when they had grown more
amicable on the subject, "that the people who violently disapprove of
Burne's radicalism are distinctly the Pharisee class--I mean they're the
best-educated men in college--the editors of the papers, like yourself
and Ferrenby, the younger professors.... The illiterate athletes like
Langueduc think he's getting eccentric, but they just say, 'Good old
Burne has got some queer ideas in his head,' and pass on--the Pharisee
class--Gee! they ridicule him unmercifully."
The next morning he met Burne hurrying along McCosh walk after a
"Whither bound, Tsar?"
"Over to the Prince office to see Ferrenby," he waved a copy of the
morning's Princetonian at Amory. "He wrote this editorial."
"Going to flay him alive?"
"No--but he's got me all balled up. Either I've misjudged him or he's
suddenly become the world's worst radical."
Burne hurried on, and it was several days before Amory heard an account
of the ensuing conversation. Burne had come into the editor's sanctum
displaying the paper cheerfully.
"Hello there, Savonarola."
"I just read your editorial."
"Good boy--didn't know you stooped that low."
"Jesse, you startled me."
"Aren't you afraid the faculty'll get after you if you pull this
"Like this morning."
"What the devil--that editorial was on the coaching system."
"Yes, but that quotation--"
Jesse sat up.
"You know: 'He who is not with me is against me.'"
"Well--what about it?"
Jesse was puzzled but not alarmed.
"Well, you say here--let me see." Burne opened the paper and read:
"'"He who is not with me is against me", as that gentleman said who
was notoriously capable of only coarse distinctions and puerile
"What of it?" Ferrenby began to look alarmed. "Oliver Cromwell said it,
didn't he? or was it Washington, or one of the saints? Good Lord, I've
Burne roared with laughter.
"Oh, Jesse, oh, good, kind Jesse."
"Who said it, for Pete's sake?"
"Well," said Burne, recovering his voice, "St. Matthew attributes it to
"My God!" cried Jesse, and collapsed backward into the waste-basket.
AMORY WRITES A POEM
The weeks tore by. Amory wandered occasionally to New York on the chance
of finding a new shining green auto-bus, that its stick-of-candy
glamour might penetrate his disposition. One day he ventured into a
stock-company revival of a play whose name was faintly familiar. The
curtain rose--he watched casually as a girl entered. A few phrases rang
in his ear and touched a faint chord of memory. Where--? When--?
Then he seemed to hear a voice whispering beside him, a very soft,
vibrant voice: "Oh, I'm such a poor little fool; "do" tell me when I do
The solution came in a flash and he had a quick, glad memory of
He found a blank space on his programme, and began to scribble rapidly:
"Here in the figured dark I watch once more,
There, with the curtain, roll the years away;
Two years of years--there was an idle day
Of ours, when happy endings didn't bore
Our unfermented souls; I could adore
Your eager face beside me, wide-eyed, gay,
Smiling a repertoire while the poor play
Reached me as a faint ripple reaches shore.
"Yawning and wondering an evening through,
I watch alone... and chatterings, of course,
Spoil the one scene which, somehow, "did" have charms;
You wept a bit, and I grew sad for you
Right here! Where Mr. X defends divorce
And What's-Her-Name falls fainting in his arms."
"Ghosts are such dumb things," said Alec, "they're slow-witted. I can
always outguess a ghost."
"How?" asked Tom.
"Well, it depends where. Take a bedroom, for example. If you use "any"
discretion a ghost can never get you in a bedroom."
"Go on, s'pose you think there's maybe a ghost in your bedroom--what
measures do you take on getting home at night?" demanded Amory,
"Take a stick" answered Alec, with ponderous reverence, "one about the
length of a broom-handle. Now, the first thing to do is to get the room
"cleared"--to do this you rush with your eyes closed into your study
and turn on the lights--next, approaching the closet, carefully run the
stick in the door three or four times. Then, if nothing happens, you can
look in. "Always, always" run the stick in viciously first--"never" look
"Of course, that's the ancient Celtic school," said Tom gravely.
"Yes--but they usually pray first. Anyway, you use this method to clear
the closets and also for behind all doors--"
"And the bed," Amory suggested.
"Oh, Amory, no!" cried Alec in horror. "That isn't the way--the bed
requires different tactics--let the bed alone, as you value your
reason--if there is a ghost in the room and that's only about a third of
the time, it is "almost always" under the bed."
"Well" Amory began.
Alec waved him into silence.
"Of "course" you never look. You stand in the middle of the floor and
before he knows what you're going to do make a sudden leap for the
bed--never walk near the bed; to a ghost your ankle is your most
vulnerable part--once in bed, you're safe; he may lie around under the
bed all night, but you're safe as daylight. If you still have doubts
pull the blanket over your head."
"All that's very interesting, Tom."
"Isn't it?" Alec beamed proudly. "All my own, too--the Sir Oliver Lodge
of the new world."
Amory was enjoying college immensely again. The sense of going forward
in a direct, determined line had come back; youth was stirring and
shaking out a few new feathers. He had even stored enough surplus energy
to sally into a new pose.
"What's the idea of all this 'distracted' stuff, Amory?" asked Alec one
day, and then as Amory pretended to be cramped over his book in a daze:
"Oh, don't try to act Burne, the mystic, to me."
Amory looked up innocently.
"What?" mimicked Alec. "Are you trying to read yourself into a rhapsody
with--let's see the book."
He snatched it; regarded it derisively.
"Well?" said Amory a little stiffly.
"'The Life of St. Teresa,'" read Alec aloud. "Oh, my gosh!"
"Does it bother you?"
"Does what bother me?"
"My acting dazed and all that?"
"Why, no--of course it doesn't "bother" me."
"Well, then, don't spoil it. If I enjoy going around telling people
guilelessly that I think I'm a genius, let me do it."
"You're getting a reputation for being eccentric," said Alec, laughing,
"if that's what you mean."
Amory finally prevailed, and Alec agreed to accept his face value in the
presence of others if he was allowed rest periods when they were alone;
so Amory "ran it out" at a great rate, bringing the most eccentric
characters to dinner, wild-eyed grad students, preceptors with strange
theories of God and government, to the cynical amazement of the
supercilious Cottage Club.
As February became slashed by sun and moved cheerfully into March,
Amory went several times to spend week-ends with Monsignor; once he
took Burne, with great success, for he took equal pride and delight in
displaying them to each other. Monsignor took him several times to see
Thornton Hancock, and once or twice to the house of a Mrs. Lawrence, a
type of Rome-haunting American whom Amory liked immediately.
Then one day came a letter from Monsignor, which appended an interesting
"Do you know," it ran, "that your third cousin, Clara Page,
widowed six months and very poor, is living in Philadelphia?
I don't think you've ever met her, but I wish, as a favor to me,
you'd go to see her. To my mind, she's rather a remarkable woman,
and just about your age."
Amory sighed and decided to go, as a favor....
She was immemorial.... Amory wasn't good enough for Clara, Clara of
ripply golden hair, but then no man was. Her goodness was above the
prosy morals of the husband-seeker, apart from the dull literature of
Sorrow lay lightly around her, and when Amory found her in Philadelphia
he thought her steely blue eyes held only happiness; a latent strength,
a realism, was brought to its fullest development by the facts that
she was compelled to face. She was alone in the world, with two small
children, little money, and, worst of all, a host of friends. He saw
her that winter in Philadelphia entertaining a houseful of men for an
evening, when he knew she had not a servant in the house except the
little colored girl guarding the babies overhead. He saw one of the
greatest libertines in that city, a man who was habitually drunk and
notorious at home and abroad, sitting opposite her for an evening,
discussing "girls' boarding-schools" with a sort of innocent excitement.
What a twist Clara had to her mind! She could make fascinating and
almost brilliant conversation out of the thinnest air that ever floated
through a drawing-room.
The idea that the girl was poverty-stricken had appealed to Amory's
sense of situation. He arrived in Philadelphia expecting to be told
that 921 Ark Street was in a miserable lane of hovels. He was even
disappointed when it proved to be nothing of the sort. It was an old
house that had been in her husband's family for years. An elderly aunt,
who objected to having it sold, had put ten years' taxes with a
lawyer and pranced off to Honolulu, leaving Clara to struggle with the
heating-problem as best she could. So no wild-haired woman with a hungry
baby at her breast and a sad Amelia-like look greeted him. Instead,
Amory would have thought from his reception that she had not a care in
A calm virility and a dreamy humor, marked contrasts to her
level-headedness--into these moods she slipped sometimes as a refuge.
She could do the most prosy things (though she was wise enough never
to stultify herself with such "household arts" as "knitting" and
"embroidery"), yet immediately afterward pick up a book and let her
imagination rove as a formless cloud with the wind. Deepest of all in
her personality was the golden radiance that she diffused around her.
As an open fire in a dark room throws romance and pathos into the quiet
faces at its edge, so she cast her lights and shadows around the rooms
that held her, until she made of her prosy old uncle a man of quaint and
meditative charm, metamorphosed the stray telegraph boy into a Puck-like
creature of delightful originality. At first this quality of hers
somehow irritated Amory. He considered his own uniqueness sufficient,
and it rather embarrassed him when she tried to read new interests into
him for the benefit of what other adorers were present. He felt as if
a polite but insistent stage-manager were attempting to make him give a
new interpretation of a part he had conned for years.
But Clara talking, Clara telling a slender tale of a hatpin and an
inebriated man and herself.... People tried afterward to repeat her
anecdotes but for the life of them they could make them sound like
nothing whatever. They gave her a sort of innocent attention and the
best smiles many of them had smiled for long; there were few tears in
Clara, but people smiled misty-eyed at her.
Very occasionally Amory stayed for little half-hours after the rest of
the court had gone, and they would have bread and jam and tea late in
the afternoon or "maple-sugar lunches," as she called them, at night.
"You "are" remarkable, aren't you!" Amory was becoming trite from where
he perched in the centre of the dining-room table one six o'clock.
"Not a bit," she answered. She was searching out napkins in the
sideboard. "I'm really most humdrum and commonplace. One of those people
who have no interest in anything but their children."
"Tell that to somebody else," scoffed Amory. "You know you're perfectly
effulgent." He asked her the one thing that he knew might embarrass her.
It was the remark that the first bore made to Adam.
"Tell me about yourself." And she gave the answer that Adam must have
"There's nothing to tell."
But eventually Adam probably told the bore all the things he thought
about at night when the locusts sang in the sandy grass, and he must
have remarked patronizingly how "different" he was from Eve, forgetting
how different she was from him... at any rate, Clara told Amory much
about herself that evening. She had had a harried life from sixteen on,
and her education had stopped sharply with her leisure. Browsing in her
library, Amory found a tattered gray book out of which fell a yellow
sheet that he impudently opened. It was a poem that she had written
at school about a gray convent wall on a gray day, and a girl with
her cloak blown by the wind sitting atop of it and thinking about the
many-colored world. As a rule such sentiment bored him, but this was
done with so much simplicity and atmosphere, that it brought a picture
of Clara to his mind, of Clara on such a cool, gray day with her keen
blue eyes staring out, trying to see her tragedies come marching over
the gardens outside. He envied that poem. How he would have loved to
have come along and seen her on the wall and talked nonsense or romance
to her, perched above him in the air. He began to be frightfully jealous
of everything about Clara: of her past, of her babies, of the men and
women who flocked to drink deep of her cool kindness and rest their
tired minds as at an absorbing play.
""Nobody" seems to bore you," he objected.
"About half the world do," she admitted, "but I think that's a pretty
good average, don't you?" and she turned to find something in Browning
that bore on the subject. She was the only person he ever met who
could look up passages and quotations to show him in the middle of
the conversation, and yet not be irritating to distraction. She did it
constantly, with such a serious enthusiasm that he grew fond of watching
her golden hair bent over a book, brow wrinkled ever so little at
hunting her sentence.
Through early March he took to going to Philadelphia for week-ends.
Almost always there was some one else there and she seemed not anxious
to see him alone, for many occasions presented themselves when a word
from her would have given him another delicious half-hour of adoration.
But he fell gradually in love and began to speculate wildly on marriage.
Though this design flowed through his brain even to his lips, still
he knew afterward that the desire had not been deeply rooted. Once he
dreamt that it had come true and woke up in a cold panic, for in his
dream she had been a silly, flaxen Clara, with the gold gone out of her
hair and platitudes falling insipidly from her changeling tongue. But
she was the first fine woman he ever knew and one of the few good people
who ever interested him. She made her goodness such an asset. Amory
had decided that most good people either dragged theirs after them as a
liability, or else distorted it to artificial geniality, and of course
there were the ever-present prig and Pharisee--(but Amory never included
"them" as being among the saved).
"Over her gray and velvet dress,
Under her molten, beaten hair,
Color of rose in mock distress
Flushes and fades and makes her fair;
Fills the air from her to him
With light and languor and little sighs,
Just so subtly he scarcely knows...
Laughing lightning, color of rose."
"Do you like me?"
"Of course I do," said Clara seriously.
"Well, we have some qualities in common. Things that are spontaneous in
each of us--or were originally."
"You're implying that I haven't used myself very well?"
"Well, I can't judge. A man, of course, has to go through a lot more,
and I've been sheltered."
"Oh, don't stall, please, Clara," Amory interrupted; "but do talk about
me a little, won't you?"
"Surely, I'd adore to." She didn't smile.
"That's sweet of you. First answer some questions. Am I painfully
"Well--no, you have tremendous vanity, but it'll amuse the people who
notice its preponderance."
"You're really humble at heart. You sink to the third hell of depression
when you think you've been slighted. In fact, you haven't much
"Centre of target twice, Clara. How do you do it? You never let me say a
"Of course not--I can never judge a man while he's talking. But I'm not
through; the reason you have so little real self-confidence, even though
you gravely announce to the occasional philistine that you think you're
a genius, is that you've attributed all sorts of atrocious faults to
yourself and are trying to live up to them. For instance, you're always
saying that you are a slave to high-balls."
"But I am, potentially."
"And you say you're a weak character, that you've no will."
"Not a bit of will--I'm a slave to my emotions, to my likes, to my
hatred of boredom, to most of my desires--"
"You are not!" She brought one little fist down onto the other.
"You're a slave, a bound helpless slave to one thing in the world, your
"You certainly interest me. If this isn't boring you, go on."
"I notice that when you want to stay over an extra day from college you
go about it in a sure way. You never decide at first while the merits of
going or staying are fairly clear in your mind. You let your imagination
shinny on the side of your desires for a few hours, and then you decide.
Naturally your imagination, after a little freedom, thinks up a million
reasons why you should stay, so your decision when it comes isn't true.
"Yes," objected Amory, "but isn't it lack of will-power to let my
imagination shinny on the wrong side?"
"My dear boy, there's your big mistake. This has nothing to do with
will-power; that's a crazy, useless word, anyway; you lack judgment--the
judgment to decide at once when you know your imagination will play you
false, given half a chance."
"Well, I'll be darned!" exclaimed Amory in surprise, "that's the last
thing I expected."
Clara didn't gloat. She changed the subject immediately. But she had
started him thinking and he believed she was partly right. He felt like
a factory-owner who after accusing a clerk of dishonesty finds that his
own son, in the office, is changing the books once a week. His poor,
mistreated will that he had been holding up to the scorn of himself and
his friends, stood before him innocent, and his judgment walked off to
prison with the unconfinable imp, imagination, dancing in mocking glee
beside him. Clara's was the only advice he ever asked without dictating
the answer himself--except, perhaps, in his talks with Monsignor Darcy.
How he loved to do any sort of thing with Clara! Shopping with her was a
rare, epicurean dream. In every store where she had ever traded she was
whispered about as the beautiful Mrs. Page.
"I'll bet she won't stay single long."
"Well, don't scream it out. She ain't lookin' for no advice."
""Ain't" she beautiful!"
(Enter a floor-walker--silence till he moves forward, smirking.)
"Society person, ain't she?"
"Yeah, but poor now, I guess; so they say."
"Gee! girls, "ain't" she some kid!"
And Clara beamed on all alike. Amory believed that tradespeople gave her
discounts, sometimes to her knowledge and sometimes without it. He knew
she dressed very well, had always the best of everything in the house,
and was inevitably waited upon by the head floor-walker at the very
Sometimes they would go to church together on Sunday and he would walk
beside her and revel in her cheeks moist from the soft water in the new
air. She was very devout, always had been, and God knows what heights
she attained and what strength she drew down to herself when she knelt
and bent her golden hair into the stained-glass light.
"St. Cecelia," he cried aloud one day, quite involuntarily, and the
people turned and peered, and the priest paused in his sermon and Clara
and Amory turned to fiery red.
That was the last Sunday they had, for he spoiled it all that night. He
couldn't help it.
They were walking through the March twilight where it was as warm as
June, and the joy of youth filled his soul so that he felt he must
"I think," he said and his voice trembled, "that if I lost faith in you
I'd lose faith in God."
She looked at him with such a startled face that he asked her the
"Nothing," she said slowly, "only this: five men have said that to me
before, and it frightens me."
"Oh, Clara, is that your fate!"
She did not answer.
"I suppose love to you is--" he began.
She turned like a flash.
"I have never been in love."
They walked along, and he realized slowly how much she had told him...
never in love.... She seemed suddenly a daughter of light alone. His
entity dropped out of her plane and he longed only to touch her dress
with almost the realization that Joseph must have had of Mary's eternal
significance. But quite mechanically he heard himself saying:
"And I love you--any latent greatness that I've got is... oh, I can't
talk, but Clara, if I come back in two years in a position to marry
She shook her head.
"No," she said; "I'd never marry again. I've got my two children and I
want myself for them. I like you--I like all clever men, you more than
any--but you know me well enough to know that I'd never marry a clever
man--" She broke off suddenly.
"You're not in love with me. You never wanted to marry me, did you?"
"It was the twilight," he said wonderingly. "I didn't feel as though I
were speaking aloud. But I love you--or adore you--or worship you--"
"There you go--running through your catalogue of emotions in five
He smiled unwillingly.
"Don't make me out such a light-weight, Clara; you "are" depressing
"You're not a light-weight, of all things," she said intently, taking
his arm and opening wide her eyes--he could see their kindliness in the
fading dusk. "A light-weight is an eternal nay."
"There's so much spring in the air--there's so much lazy sweetness in
She dropped his arm.
"You're all fine now, and I feel glorious. Give me a cigarette. You've
never seen me smoke, have you? Well, I do, about once a month."
And then that wonderful girl and Amory raced to the corner like two mad
children gone wild with pale-blue twilight.
"I'm going to the country for to-morrow," she announced, as she stood
panting, safe beyond the flare of the corner lamp-post. "These days are
too magnificent to miss, though perhaps I feel them more in the city."
"Oh, Clara!" Amory said; "what a devil you could have been if the Lord
had just bent your soul a little the other way!"
"Maybe," she answered; "but I think not. I'm never really wild and never
have been. That little outburst was pure spring."
"And you are, too," said he.
They were walking along now.
"No--you're wrong again, how can a person of your own self-reputed
brains be so constantly wrong about me? I'm the opposite of everything
spring ever stood for. It's unfortunate, if I happen to look like what
pleased some soppy old Greek sculptor, but I assure you that if it
weren't for my face I'd be a quiet nun in the convent without"--then
she broke into a run and her raised voice floated back to him as he
followed--"my precious babies, which I must go back and see."
She was the only girl he ever knew with whom he could understand how
another man might be preferred. Often Amory met wives whom he had known
as debutantes, and looking intently at them imagined that he found
something in their faces which said:
"Oh, if I could only have gotten "you!"" Oh, the enormous conceit of the
But that night seemed a night of stars and singing and Clara's bright
soul still gleamed on the ways they had trod.
"Golden, golden is the air--" he chanted to the little pools of water.
... "Golden is the air, golden notes from golden mandolins, golden
frets of golden violins, fair, oh, wearily fair.... Skeins from braided
basket, mortals may not hold; oh, what young extravagant God, who would
know or ask it?... who could give such gold..."
AMORY IS RESENTFUL
Slowly and inevitably, yet with a sudden surge at the last, while Amory
talked and dreamed, war rolled swiftly up the beach and washed the sands
where Princeton played. Every night the gymnasium echoed as platoon
after platoon swept over the floor and shuffled out the basket-ball
markings. When Amory went to Washington the next week-end he caught some
of the spirit of crisis which changed to repulsion in the Pullman car
coming back, for the berths across from him were occupied by stinking
aliens--Greeks, he guessed, or Russians. He thought how much easier
patriotism had been to a homogeneous race, how much easier it would have
been to fight as the Colonies fought, or as the Confederacy fought. And
he did no sleeping that night, but listened to the aliens guffaw and
snore while they filled the car with the heavy scent of latest America.
In Princeton every one bantered in public and told themselves privately
that their deaths at least would be heroic. The literary students read
Rupert Brooke passionately; the lounge-lizards worried over whether the
government would permit the English-cut uniform for officers; a few of
the hopelessly lazy wrote to the obscure branches of the War Department,
seeking an easy commission and a soft berth.
Then, after a week, Amory saw Burne and knew at once that argument would
be futile--Burne had come out as a pacifist. The socialist magazines,
a great smattering of Tolstoi, and his own intense longing for a cause
that would bring out whatever strength lay in him, had finally decided
him to preach peace as a subjective ideal.
"When the German army entered Belgium," he began, "if the inhabitants
had gone peaceably about their business, the German army would have been
"I know," Amory interrupted, "I've heard it all. But I'm not going to
talk propaganda with you. There's a chance that you're right--but even
so we're hundreds of years before the time when non-resistance can touch
us as a reality."
"But, Amory, listen--"
"Burne, we'd just argue--"
"Just one thing--I don't ask you to think of your family or friends,
because I know they don't count a picayune with you beside your sense
of duty--but, Burne, how do you know that the magazines you read and
the societies you join and these idealists you meet aren't just plain
"Some of them are, of course."
"How do you know they aren't "all" pro-German--just a lot of weak
ones--with German-Jewish names."
"That's the chance, of course," he said slowly. "How much or how little
I'm taking this stand because of propaganda I've heard, I don't know;
naturally I think that it's my most innermost conviction--it seems a
path spread before me just now."
Amory's heart sank.
"But think of the cheapness of it--no one's really going to martyr you
for being a pacifist--it's just going to throw you in with the worst--"
"I doubt it," he interrupted.
"Well, it all smells of Bohemian New York to me."
"I know what you mean, and that's why I'm not sure I'll agitate."
"You're one man, Burne--going to talk to people who won't listen--with
all God's given you."
"That's what Stephen must have thought many years ago. But he preached
his sermon and they killed him. He probably thought as he was dying what
a waste it all was. But you see, I've always felt that Stephen's death
was the thing that occurred to Paul on the road to Damascus, and sent
him to preach the word of Christ all over the world."
"That's all--this is my particular duty. Even if right now I'm just a
pawn--just sacrificed. God! Amory--you don't think I like the Germans!"
"Well, I can't say anything else--I get to the end of all the logic
about non-resistance, and there, like an excluded middle, stands the
huge spectre of man as he is and always will be. And this spectre stands
right beside the one logical necessity of Tolstoi's, and the other
logical necessity of Nietzsche's--" Amory broke off suddenly. "When are
"I'm going next week."
"I'll see you, of course."
As he walked away it seemed to Amory that the look in his face bore
a great resemblance to that in Kerry's when he had said good-by under
Blair Arch two years before. Amory wondered unhappily why he could never
go into anything with the primal honesty of those two.
"Burne's a fanatic," he said to Tom, "and he's dead wrong and, I'm
inclined to think, just an unconscious pawn in the hands of anarchistic
publishers and German-paid rag wavers--but he haunts me--just leaving
everything worth while--"
Burne left in a quietly dramatic manner a week later. He sold all his
possessions and came down to the room to say good-by, with a battered
old bicycle, on which he intended to ride to his home in Pennsylvania.
"Peter the Hermit bidding farewell to Cardinal Richelieu," suggested
Alec, who was lounging in the window-seat as Burne and Amory shook
But Amory was not in a mood for that, and as he saw Burne's long legs
propel his ridiculous bicycle out of sight beyond Alexander Hall,
he knew he was going to have a bad week. Not that he doubted the
war--Germany stood for everything repugnant to him; for materialism and
the direction of tremendous licentious force; it was just that Burne's
face stayed in his memory and he was sick of the hysteria he was
beginning to hear.
"What on earth is the use of suddenly running down Goethe," he declared
to Alec and Tom. "Why write books to prove he started the war--or that
that stupid, overestimated Schiller is a demon in disguise?"
"Have you ever read anything of theirs?" asked Tom shrewdly.
"No," Amory admitted.
"Neither have I," he said laughing.
"People will shout," said Alec quietly, "but Goethe's on his same old
shelf in the library--to bore any one that wants to read him!"
Amory subsided, and the subject dropped.
"What are you going to do, Amory?"
"Infantry or aviation, I can't make up my mind--I hate mechanics, but
then of course aviation's the thing for me--"
"I feel as Amory does," said Tom. "Infantry or aviation--aviation sounds
like the romantic side of the war, of course--like cavalry used to be,
you know; but like Amory I don't know a horse-power from a piston-rod."
Somehow Amory's dissatisfaction with his lack of enthusiasm culminated
in an attempt to put the blame for the whole war on the ancestors of his
generation... all the people who cheered for Germany in 1870.... All
the materialists rampant, all the idolizers of German science and
efficiency. So he sat one day in an English lecture and heard "Locksley
Hall" quoted and fell into a brown study with contempt for Tennyson and
all he stood for--for he took him as a representative of the Victorians.
Victorians, Victorians, who never learned to weep
Who sowed the bitter harvest that your children go to reap--
scribbled Amory in his note-book. The lecturer was saying something
about Tennyson's solidity and fifty heads were bent to take notes. Amory
turned over to a fresh page and began scrawling again.
"They shuddered when they found what Mr. Darwin was about,
They shuddered when the waltz came in and Newman hurried out--"
But the waltz came in much earlier; he crossed that out.
"And entitled A Song in the Time of Order," came the professor's voice,
droning far away. "Time of Order"--Good Lord! Everything crammed in
the box and the Victorians sitting on the lid smiling serenely.... With
Browning in his Italian villa crying bravely: "All's for the best."
Amory scribbled again.
"You knelt up in the temple and he bent to hear you pray,
You thanked him for your 'glorious gains'--reproached him for
Why could he never get more than a couplet at a time? Now he needed
something to rhyme with:
"You would keep Him straight with science, tho He had gone wrong
"You met your children in your home--'I've fixed it up!' you cried,
Took your fifty years of Europe, and then virtuously--died."
"That was to a great extent Tennyson's idea," came the lecturer's voice.
"Swinburne's Song in the Time of Order might well have been Tennyson's
title. He idealized order against chaos, against waste."
At last Amory had it. He turned over another page and scrawled
vigorously for the twenty minutes that was left of the hour. Then he
walked up to the desk and deposited a page torn out of his note-book.
"Here's a poem to the Victorians, sir," he said coldly.
The professor picked it up curiously while Amory backed rapidly through
Here is what he had written:
"Songs in the time of order
You left for us to sing,
Proofs with excluded middles,
Answers to life in rhyme,
Keys of the prison warder
And ancient bells to ring,
Time was the end of riddles,
We were the end of time...
Here were domestic oceans
And a sky that we might reach,
Guns and a guarded border,
Gantlets--but not to fling,
Thousands of old emotions
And a platitude for each,
Songs in the time of order--
And tongues, that we might sing."
THE END OF MANY THINGS
Early April slipped by in a haze--a haze of long evenings on the club
veranda with the graphophone playing "Poor Butterfly" inside... for
"Poor Butterfly" had been the song of that last year. The war seemed
scarcely to touch them and it might have been one of the senior springs
of the past, except for the drilling every other afternoon, yet Amory
realized poignantly that this was the last spring under the old regime.
"This is the great protest against the superman," said Amory.
"I suppose so," Alec agreed.
"He's absolutely irreconcilable with any Utopia. As long as he occurs,
there's trouble and all the latent evil that makes a crowd list and sway
when he talks."
"And of course all that he is is a gifted man without a moral sense."
"That's all. I think the worst thing to contemplate is this--it's
all happened before, how soon will it happen again? Fifty years after
Waterloo Napoleon was as much a hero to English school children
as Wellington. How do we know our grandchildren won't idolize Von
Hindenburg the same way?"
"What brings it about?"
"Time, damn it, and the historian. If we could only learn to look
on evil as evil, whether it's clothed in filth or monotony or
"God! Haven't we raked the universe over the coals for four years?"
Then the night came that was to be the last. Tom and Amory, bound in the
morning for different training-camps, paced the shadowy walks as usual
and seemed still to see around them the faces of the men they knew.
"The grass is full of ghosts to-night."
"The whole campus is alive with them."
They paused by Little and watched the moon rise, to make silver of the
slate roof of Dodd and blue the rustling trees.
"You know," whispered Tom, "what we feel now is the sense of all the
gorgeous youth that has rioted through here in two hundred years."
A last burst of singing flooded up from Blair Arch--broken voices for
some long parting.
"And what we leave here is more than this class; it's the whole heritage
of youth. We're just one generation--we're breaking all the links that
seemed to bind us here to top-booted and high-stocked generations. We've
walked arm and arm with Burr and Light-Horse Harry Lee through half
these deep-blue nights."
"That's what they are," Tom tangented off, "deep blue--a bit of color
would spoil them, make them exotic. Spires, against a sky that's
a promise of dawn, and blue light on the slate roofs--it hurts...
"Good-by, Aaron Burr," Amory called toward deserted Nassau Hall, "you
and I knew strange corners of life."
His voice echoed in the stillness.
"The torches are out," whispered Tom. "Ah, Messalina, the long shadows
are building minarets on the stadium--"
For an instant the voices of freshman year surged around them and then
they looked at each other with faint tears in their eyes.
The last light fades and drifts across the land--the low, long land, the
sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again their lyres and
wander singing in a plaintive band down the long corridors of trees;
pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that
dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus
flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour.
No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of
star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and
earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting
things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight
my desire will see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the
splendor and the sadness of the world.
May, 1917-February, 1919
A letter dated January, 1918, written by Monsignor Darcy to Amory, who
is a second lieutenant in the 171st Infantry, Port of Embarkation, Camp
Mills, Long Island.
MY DEAR BOY:
All you need tell me of yourself is that you still are; for the rest I
merely search back in a restive memory, a thermometer that records only
fevers, and match you with what I was at your age. But men will chatter
and you and I will still shout our futilities to each other across
the stage until the last silly curtain falls "plump!" upon our bobbing
heads. But you are starting the spluttering magic-lantern show of life
with much the same array of slides as I had, so I need to write you if
only to shriek the colossal stupidity of people....
This is the end of one thing: for better or worse you will never again
be quite the Amory Blaine that I knew, never again will we meet as we
have met, because your generation is growing hard, much harder than mine
ever grew, nourished as they were on the stuff of the nineties.
Amory, lately I reread Aeschylus and there in the divine irony of the
"Agamemnon" I find the only answer to this bitter age--all the world
tumbled about our ears, and the closest parallel ages back in that
hopeless resignation. There are times when I think of the men out there
as Roman legionaries, miles from their corrupt city, stemming back the
hordes... hordes a little more menacing, after all, than the corrupt
city... another blind blow at the race, furies that we passed with
ovations years ago, over whose corpses we bleated triumphantly all
through the Victorian era....
And afterward an out-and-out materialistic world--and the Catholic
Church. I wonder where you'll fit in. Of one thing I'm sure--Celtic
you'll live and Celtic you'll die; so if you don't use heaven as a
continual referendum for your ideas you'll find earth a continual recall
to your ambitions.
Amory, I've discovered suddenly that I'm an old man. Like all old
men, I've had dreams sometimes and I'm going to tell you of them. I've
enjoyed imagining that you were my son, that perhaps when I was young
I went into a state of coma and begat you, and when I came to, had no
recollection of it... it's the paternal instinct, Amory--celibacy goes
deeper than the flesh....
Sometimes I think that the explanation of our deep resemblance is some
common ancestor, and I find that the only blood that the Darcys and
the O'Haras have in common is that of the O'Donahues... Stephen was his
name, I think....
When the lightning strikes one of us it strikes both: you had hardly
arrived at the port of embarkation when I got my papers to start for
Rome, and I am waiting every moment to be told where to take ship. Even
before you get this letter I shall be on the ocean; then will come your
turn. You went to war as a gentleman should, just as you went to school
and college, because it was the thing to do. It's better to leave the
blustering and tremulo-heroism to the middle classes; they do it so much
Do you remember that week-end last March when you brought Burne Holiday
from Princeton to see me? What a magnificent boy he is! It gave me a
frightful shock afterward when you wrote that he thought me splendid;
how could he be so deceived? Splendid is the one thing that neither you
nor I are. We are many other things--we're extraordinary, we're clever,
we could be said, I suppose, to be brilliant. We can attract people,
we can make atmosphere, we can almost lose our Celtic souls in Celtic
subtleties, we can almost always have our own way; but splendid--rather
I am going to Rome with a wonderful dossier and letters of introduction
that cover every capital in Europe, and there will be "no small stir"
when I get there. How I wish you were with me! This sounds like a rather
cynical paragraph, not at all the sort of thing that a middle-aged
clergyman should write to a youth about to depart for the war; the only
excuse is that the middle-aged clergyman is talking to himself. There
are deep things in us and you know what they are as well as I do. We
have great faith, though yours at present is uncrystallized; we have a
terrible honesty that all our sophistry cannot destroy and, above all, a
childlike simplicity that keeps us from ever being really malicious.
I have written a keen for you which follows. I am sorry your cheeks are
not up to the description I have written of them, but you "will" smoke
and read all night--
At any rate here it is:
A Lament for a Foster Son, and He going to the War Against the King of
He is gone from me the son of my mind
And he in his golden youth like Angus Oge
Angus of the bright birds
And his mind strong and subtle like the mind of Cuchulin on
His brow is as white as the milk of the cows of Maeve
And his cheeks like the cherries of the tree
And it bending down to Mary and she feeding the Son of God.
His hair is like the golden collar of the Kings at Tara
And his eyes like the four gray seas of Erin.
And they swept with the mists of rain.
Mavrone go Gudyo
He to be in the joyful and red battle
Amongst the chieftains and they doing great deeds of valor
His life to go from him
It is the chords of my own soul would be loosed.
A Vich Deelish
My heart is in the heart of my son
And my life is in his life surely
A man can be twice young
In the life of his sons only.
Jia du Vaha Alanav
May the Son of God be above him and beneath him, before him and
May the King of the elements cast a mist over the eyes of the
King of Foreign,
May the Queen of the Graces lead him by the hand the way he can
go through the midst of his enemies and they not seeing him
May Patrick of the Gael and Collumb of the Churches and the five
thousand Saints of Erin be better than a shield to him
And he got into the fight.
Amory--Amory--I feel, somehow, that this is all; one or both of us is
not going to last out this war.... I've been trying to tell you how much
this reincarnation of myself in you has meant in the last few years...
curiously alike we are... curiously unlike. Good-by, dear boy, and God
be with you. THAYER DARCY.
EMBARKING AT NIGHT
Amory moved forward on the deck until he found a stool under an electric
light. He searched in his pocket for note-book and pencil and then began
to write, slowly, laboriously:
"We leave to-night...
Silent, we filled the still, deserted street,
A column of dim gray,
And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat
Along the moonless way;
The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet
That turned from night and day.
And so we linger on the windless decks,
See on the spectre shore
Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks...
Oh, shall we then deplore
Those futile years!
See how the sea is white!
The clouds have broken and the heavens burn
To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light
The churning of the waves about the stern
Rises to one voluminous nocturne,
... We leave to-night."
A letter from Amory, headed "Brest, March 11th, 1919," to Lieutenant T.
P. D'Invilliers, Camp Gordon, Ga.
We meet in Manhattan on the 30th of this very mo.; we then proceed to
take a very sporty apartment, you and I and Alec, who is at me elbow as
I write. I don't know what I'm going to do but I have a vague dream of
going into politics. Why is it that the pick of the young Englishmen
from Oxford and Cambridge go into politics and in the U. S. A. we leave
it to the muckers?--raised in the ward, educated in the assembly and
sent to Congress, fat-paunched bundles of corruption, devoid of "both
ideas and ideals" as the debaters used to say. Even forty years ago we
had good men in politics, but we, we are brought up to pile up a million
and "show what we are made of." Sometimes I wish I'd been an Englishman;
American life is so damned dumb and stupid and healthy.
Since poor Beatrice died I'll probably have a little money, but very
darn little. I can forgive mother almost everything except the fact that
in a sudden burst of religiosity toward the end, she left half of what
remained to be spent in stained-glass windows and seminary endowments.
Mr. Barton, my lawyer, writes me that my thousands are mostly in street
railways and that the said Street R.R. s are losing money because of the
five-cent fares. Imagine a salary list that gives $350 a month to a man
that can't read and write!--yet I believe in it, even though I've
seen what was once a sizable fortune melt away between speculation,
extravagance, the democratic administration, and the income tax--modern,
that's me all over, Mabel.
At any rate we'll have really knock-out rooms--you can get a job on some
fashion magazine, and Alec can go into the Zinc Company or whatever it
is that his people own--he's looking over my shoulder and he says it's
a brass company, but I don't think it matters much, do you? There's
probably as much corruption in zinc-made money as brass-made money. As
for the well-known Amory, he would write immortal literature if he were
sure enough about anything to risk telling any one else about it.
There is no more dangerous gift to posterity than a few cleverly turned
Tom, why don't you become a Catholic? Of course to be a good one you'd
have to give up those violent intrigues you used to tell me about,
but you'd write better poetry if you were linked up to tall golden
candlesticks and long, even chants, and even if the American priests are
rather burgeois, as Beatrice used to say, still you need only go to the
sporty churches, and I'll introduce you to Monsignor Darcy who really is
Kerry's death was a blow, so was Jesse's to a certain extent. And I have
a great curiosity to know what queer corner of the world has swallowed
Burne. Do you suppose he's in prison under some false name? I confess
that the war instead of making me orthodox, which is the correct
reaction, has made me a passionate agnostic. The Catholic Church has had
its wings clipped so often lately that its part was timidly negligible,
and they haven't any good writers any more. I'm sick of Chesterton.
I've only discovered one soldier who passed through the much-advertised
spiritual crisis, like this fellow, Donald Hankey, and the one I knew
was already studying for the ministry, so he was ripe for it. I honestly
think that's all pretty much rot, though it seemed to give sentimental
comfort to those at home; and may make fathers and mothers appreciate
their children. This crisis-inspired religion is rather valueless and
fleeting at best. I think four men have discovered Paris to one that
But us--you and me and Alec--oh, we'll get a Jap butler and dress for
dinner and have wine on the table and lead a contemplative, emotionless
life until we decide to use machine-guns with the property owners--or
throw bombs with the Bolshevik God! Tom, I hope something happens. I'm
restless as the devil and have a horror of getting fat or falling in
love and growing domestic.
The place at Lake Geneva is now for rent but when I land I'm going West
to see Mr. Barton and get some details. Write me care of the Blackstone,
S'ever, dear Boswell,
BOOK TWO--The Education of a Personage
CHAPTER 1. The Debutante
The time is February. The place is a large, dainty bedroom in the
Connage house on Sixty-eighth Street, New York. A girl's room: pink
walls and curtains and a pink bedspread on a cream-colored bed. Pink and
cream are the motifs of the room, but the only article of furniture
in full view is a luxurious dressing-table with a glass top and a
three-sided mirror. On the walls there is an expensive print of "Cherry
Ripe," a few polite dogs by Landseer, and the "King of the Black Isles,"
by Maxfield Parrish.
Great disorder consisting of the following items: (1) seven or eight
empty cardboard boxes, with tissue-paper tongues hanging panting from
their mouths; (2) an assortment of street dresses mingled with their
sisters of the evening, all upon the table, all evidently new; (3) a
roll of tulle, which has lost its dignity and wound itself tortuously
around everything in sight, and (4) upon the two small chairs, a
collection of lingerie that beggars description. One would enjoy seeing
the bill called forth by the finery displayed and one is possessed by
a desire to see the princess for whose benefit--Look! There's some one!
Disappointment! This is only a maid hunting for something--she lifts
a heap from a chair--Not there; another heap, the dressing-table, the
chiffonier drawers. She brings to light several beautiful chemises and
an amazing pajama but this does not satisfy her--she goes out.
An indistinguishable mumble from the next room.
Now, we are getting warm. This is Alec's mother, Mrs. Connage, ample,
dignified, rouged to the dowager point and quite worn out. Her lips move
significantly as she looks for IT. Her search is less thorough than the
maid's but there is a touch of fury in it, that quite makes up for its
sketchiness. She stumbles on the tulle and her "damn" is quite audible.
She retires, empty-handed.
More chatter outside and a girl's voice, a very spoiled voice, says: "Of
all the stupid people--"
After a pause a third seeker enters, not she of the spoiled voice, but
a younger edition. This is Cecelia Connage, sixteen, pretty, shrewd, and
constitutionally good-humored. She is dressed for the evening in a gown
the obvious simplicity of which probably bores her. She goes to the
nearest pile, selects a small pink garment and holds it up appraisingly.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Yes!
CECELIA: "Very" snappy?
CECELIA: I've got it!
(She sees herself in the mirror of the dressing-table and commences to
ROSALIND: (Outside) What are you doing--trying it on?
(CECELIA ceases and goes out carrying the garment at the right shoulder.
From the other door, enters ALEC CONNAGE. He looks around quickly and in
a huge voice shouts: Mama! There is a chorus of protest from next door
and encouraged he starts toward it, but is repelled by another chorus.)
ALEC: So "that's" where you all are! Amory Blaine is here.
CECELIA: (Quickly) Take him down-stairs.
ALEC: Oh, he "is" down-stairs.
MRS. CONNAGE: Well, you can show him where his room is. Tell him I'm
sorry that I can't meet him now.
ALEC: He's heard a lot about you all. I wish you'd hurry. Father's
telling him all about the war and he's restless. He's sort of
(This last suffices to draw CECELIA into the room.)
CECELIA: (Seating herself high upon lingerie) How do you
mean--temperamental? You used to say that about him in letters.
ALEC: Oh, he writes stuff.
CECELIA: Does he play the piano?
ALEC: Don't think so.
CECELIA: (Speculatively) Drink?
ALEC: Yes--nothing queer about him.
ALEC: Good Lord--ask him, he used to have a lot, and he's got some
(MRS. CONNAGE appears.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec, of course we're glad to have any friend of yours--
ALEC: You certainly ought to meet Amory.
MRS. CONNAGE: Of course, I want to. But I think it's so childish of you
to leave a perfectly good home to go and live with two other boys in
some impossible apartment. I hope it isn't in order that you can all
drink as much as you want. (She pauses.) He'll be a little neglected
to-night. This is Rosalind's week, you see. When a girl comes out, she
needs "all" the attention.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Well, then, prove it by coming here and hooking me.
(MRS. CONNAGE goes.)
ALEC: Rosalind hasn't changed a bit.
CECELIA: (In a lower tone) She's awfully spoiled.
ALEC: She'll meet her match to-night.
CECELIA: Who--Mr. Amory Blaine?
CECELIA: Well, Rosalind has still to meet the man she can't outdistance.
Honestly, Alec, she treats men terribly. She abuses them and cuts them
and breaks dates with them and yawns in their faces--and they come back
ALEC: They love it.
CECELIA: They hate it. She's a--she's a sort of vampire, I think--and
she can make girls do what she wants usually--only she hates girls.
ALEC: Personality runs in our family.
CECELIA: (Resignedly) I guess it ran out before it got to me.
ALEC: Does Rosalind behave herself?
CECELIA: Not particularly well. Oh, she's average--smokes sometimes,
drinks punch, frequently kissed--Oh, yes--common knowledge--one of the
effects of the war, you know.
(Emerges MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind's almost finished so I can go down and meet your
(ALEC and his mother go out.)
ROSALIND: (Outside) Oh, mother--
CECELIA: Mother's gone down.
(And now ROSALIND enters. ROSALIND is--utterly ROSALIND. She is one of
those girls who need never make the slightest effort to have men fall in
love with them. Two types of men seldom do: dull men are usually afraid
of her cleverness and intellectual men are usually afraid of her beauty.
All others are hers by natural prerogative.
If ROSALIND could be spoiled the process would have been complete by
this time, and as a matter of fact, her disposition is not all it should
be; she wants what she wants when she wants it and she is prone to make
every one around her pretty miserable when she doesn't get it--but in
the true sense she is not spoiled. Her fresh enthusiasm, her will to
grow and learn, her endless faith in the inexhaustibility of romance,
her courage and fundamental honesty--these things are not spoiled.
There are long periods when she cordially loathes her whole family.
She is quite unprincipled; her philosophy is carpe diem for herself
and laissez faire for others. She loves shocking stories: she has that
coarse streak that usually goes with natures that are both fine and big.
She wants people to like her, but if they do not it never worries her or
changes her. She is by no means a model character.
The education of all beautiful women is the knowledge of men. ROSALIND
had been disappointed in man after man as individuals, but she had great
faith in man as a sex. Women she detested. They represented qualities
that she felt and despised in herself--incipient meanness, conceit,
cowardice, and petty dishonesty. She once told a roomful of her
mother's friends that the only excuse for women was the necessity for
a disturbing element among men. She danced exceptionally well, drew
cleverly but hastily, and had a startling facility with words, which she
used only in love-letters.
But all criticism of ROSALIND ends in her beauty. There was that shade
of glorious yellow hair, the desire to imitate which supports the dye
industry. There was the eternal kissable mouth, small, slightly sensual,
and utterly disturbing. There were gray eyes and an unimpeachable skin
with two spots of vanishing color. She was slender and athletic, without
underdevelopment, and it was a delight to watch her move about a room,
walk along a street, swing a golf club, or turn a "cartwheel."
A last qualification--her vivid, instant personality escaped that
conscious, theatrical quality that AMORY had found in ISABELLE.
MONSIGNOR DARCY would have been quite up a tree whether to call her
a personality or a personage. She was perhaps the delicious,
inexpressible, once-in-a-century blend.
On the night of her debut she is, for all her strange, stray wisdom,
quite like a happy little girl. Her mother's maid has just done her
hair, but she has decided impatiently that she can do a better job
herself. She is too nervous just now to stay in one place. To that
we owe her presence in this littered room. She is going to speak.
ISABELLE'S alto tones had been like a violin, but if you could hear
ROSALIND, you would say her voice was musical as a waterfall.)
ROSALIND: Honestly, there are only two costumes in the world that I
really enjoy being in--(Combing her hair at the dressing-table.) One's
a hoop skirt with pantaloons; the other's a one-piece bathing-suit. I'm
quite charming in both of them.
CECELIA: Glad you're coming out?
ROSALIND: Yes; aren't you?
CECELIA: (Cynically) You're glad so you can get married and live on Long
Island with the "fast younger married set". You want life to be a chain
of flirtation with a man for every link.
ROSALIND: "Want" it to be one! You mean I've "found" it one.
ROSALIND: Cecelia, darling, you don't know what a trial it is to
be--like me. I've got to keep my face like steel in the street to keep
men from winking at me. If I laugh hard from a front row in the theatre,
the comedian plays to me for the rest of the evening. If I drop my
voice, my eyes, my handkerchief at a dance, my partner calls me up on
the 'phone every day for a week.
CECELIA: It must be an awful strain.
ROSALIND: The unfortunate part is that the only men who interest me at
all are the totally ineligible ones. Now--if I were poor I'd go on the
CECELIA: Yes, you might as well get paid for the amount of acting you
ROSALIND: Sometimes when I've felt particularly radiant I've thought,
why should this be wasted on one man?
CECELIA: Often when you're particularly sulky, I've wondered why it
should all be wasted on just one family. (Getting up.) I think I'll go
down and meet Mr. Amory Blaine. I like temperamental men.
ROSALIND: There aren't any. Men don't know how to be really angry or
really happy--and the ones that do, go to pieces.
CECELIA: Well, I'm glad I don't have all your worries. I'm engaged.
ROSALIND: (With a scornful smile) Engaged? Why, you little lunatic!
If mother heard you talking like that she'd send you off to
boarding-school, where you belong.
CECELIA: You won't tell her, though, because I know things I could
tell--and you're too selfish!
ROSALIND: (A little annoyed) Run along, little girl! Who are you engaged
to, the iceman? the man that keeps the candy-store?
CECELIA: Cheap wit--good-by, darling, I'll see you later.
ROSALIND: Oh, be "sure" and do that--you're such a help.
(Exit CECELIA. ROSALIND finished her hair and rises, humming. She goes
up to the mirror and starts to dance in front of it on the soft carpet.
She watches not her feet, but her eyes--never casually but always
intently, even when she smiles. The door suddenly opens and then slams
behind AMORY, very cool and handsome as usual. He melts into instant
HE: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought--
SHE: (Smiling radiantly) Oh, you're Amory Blaine, aren't you?
HE: (Regarding her closely) And you're Rosalind?
SHE: I'm going to call you Amory--oh, come in--it's all right--mother'll
be right in--(under her breath) unfortunately.
HE: (Gazing around) This is sort of a new wrinkle for me.
SHE: This is No Man's Land.
HE: This is where you--you--(pause)
SHE: Yes--all those things. (She crosses to the bureau.) See, here's my
HE: I didn't know you were that way.
SHE: What did you expect?
HE: I thought you'd be sort of--sort of--sexless, you know, swim and
SHE: Oh, I do--but not in business hours.
SHE: Six to two--strictly.
HE: I'd like to have some stock in the corporation.
SHE: Oh, it's not a corporation--it's just "Rosalind, Unlimited."
Fifty-one shares, name, good-will, and everything goes at $25,000 a
HE: (Disapprovingly) Sort of a chilly proposition.
SHE: Well, Amory, you don't mind--do you? When I meet a man that doesn't
bore me to death after two weeks, perhaps it'll be different.
HE: Odd, you have the same point of view on men that I have on women.
SHE: I'm not really feminine, you know--in my mind.
HE: (Interested) Go on.
SHE: No, you--you go on--you've made me talk about myself. That's
against the rules.
SHE: My own rules--but you--Oh, Amory, I hear you're brilliant. The
family expects "so" much of you.
HE: How encouraging!
SHE: Alec said you'd taught him to think. Did you? I didn't believe any
HE: No. I'm really quite dull.
(He evidently doesn't intend this to be taken seriously.)
HE: I'm--I'm religious--I'm literary. I've--I've even written poems.
SHE: Vers libre--splendid! (She declaims.)
"The trees are green,
The birds are singing in the trees,
The girl sips her poison
The bird flies away the girl dies."
HE: (Laughing) No, not that kind.
SHE: (Suddenly) I like you.
SHE: Modest too--
HE: I'm afraid of you. I'm always afraid of a girl--until I've kissed
SHE: (Emphatically) My dear boy, the war is over.
HE: So I'll always be afraid of you.
SHE: (Rather sadly) I suppose you will.
(A slight hesitation on both their parts.)
HE: (After due consideration) Listen. This is a frightful thing to ask.
SHE: (Knowing what's coming) After five minutes.
HE: But will you--kiss me? Or are you afraid?
SHE: I'm never afraid--but your reasons are so poor.
HE: Rosalind, I really "want" to kiss you.
SHE: So do I.
(They kiss--definitely and thoroughly.)
HE: (After a breathless second) Well, is your curiosity satisfied?
SHE: Is yours?
HE: No, it's only aroused.
(He looks it.)
SHE: (Dreamily) I've kissed dozens of men. I suppose I'll kiss dozens
HE: (Abstractedly) Yes, I suppose you could--like that.
SHE: Most people like the way I kiss.
HE: (Remembering himself) Good Lord, yes. Kiss me once more, Rosalind.
SHE: No--my curiosity is generally satisfied at one.
HE: (Discouraged) Is that a rule?
SHE: I make rules to fit the cases.
HE: You and I are somewhat alike--except that I'm years older in
SHE: How old are you?
HE: Almost twenty-three. You?
HE: I suppose you're the product of a fashionable school.
SHE: No--I'm fairly raw material. I was expelled from Spence--I've
HE: What's your general trend?
SHE: Oh, I'm bright, quite selfish, emotional when aroused, fond of
HE: (Suddenly) I don't want to fall in love with you--
SHE: (Raising her eyebrows) Nobody asked you to.
HE: (Continuing coldly) But I probably will. I love your mouth.
SHE: Hush! Please don't fall in love with my mouth--hair, eyes,
shoulders, slippers--but "not" my mouth. Everybody falls in love with my
HE: It's quite beautiful.
SHE: It's too small.
HE: No it isn't--let's see.
(He kisses her again with the same thoroughness.)
SHE: (Rather moved) Say something sweet.
HE: (Frightened) Lord help me.
SHE: (Drawing away) Well, don't--if it's so hard.
HE: Shall we pretend? So soon?
SHE: We haven't the same standards of time as other people.
HE: Already it's--other people.
SHE: Let's pretend.
HE: No--I can't--it's sentiment.
SHE: You're not sentimental?
HE: No, I'm romantic--a sentimental person thinks things will last--a
romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is
SHE: And you're not? (With her eyes half-closed.) You probably flatter
yourself that that's a superior attitude.
HE: Well--Rosalind, Rosalind, don't argue--kiss me again.
SHE: (Quite chilly now) No--I have no desire to kiss you.
HE: (Openly taken aback) You wanted to kiss me a minute ago.
SHE: This is now.
HE: I'd better go.
SHE: I suppose so.
(He goes toward the door.)
SHE: (Laughing) Score--Home Team: One hundred--Opponents: Zero.
(He starts back.)
SHE: (Quickly) Rain--no game.
(He goes out.)
(She goes quietly to the chiffonier, takes out a cigarette-case and
hides it in the side drawer of a desk. Her mother enters, note-book in
MRS. CONNAGE: Good--I've been wanting to speak to you alone before we go
ROSALIND: Heavens! you frighten me!
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind, you've been a very expensive proposition.
ROSALIND: (Resignedly) Yes.
MRS. CONNAGE: And you know your father hasn't what he once had.
ROSALIND: (Making a wry face) Oh, please don't talk about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You can't do anything without it. This is our last year in
this house--and unless things change Cecelia won't have the advantages
ROSALIND: (Impatiently) Well--what is it?
MRS. CONNAGE: So I ask you to please mind me in several things I've put
down in my note-book. The first one is: don't disappear with young men.
There may be a time when it's valuable, but at present I want you on the
dance-floor where I can find you. There are certain men I want to have
you meet and I don't like finding you in some corner of the conservatory
exchanging silliness with any one--or listening to it.
ROSALIND: (Sarcastically) Yes, listening to it "is" better.
MRS. CONNAGE: And don't waste a lot of time with the college set--little
boys nineteen and twenty years old. I don't mind a prom or a football
game, but staying away from advantageous parties to eat in little cafes
down-town with Tom, Dick, and Harry--
ROSALIND: (Offering her code, which is, in its way, quite as high as her
mother's) Mother, it's done--you can't run everything now the way you
did in the early nineties.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Paying no attention) There are several bachelor friends
of your father's that I want you to meet to-night--youngish men.
ROSALIND: (Nodding wisely) About forty-five?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sharply) Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, "quite" all right--they know life and are so adorably
tired looking (shakes her head)--but they "will" dance.
MRS. CONNAGE: I haven't met Mr. Blaine--but I don't think you'll care
for him. He doesn't sound like a money-maker.
ROSALIND: Mother, I never "think" about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You never keep it long enough to think about it.
ROSALIND: (Sighs) Yes, I suppose some day I'll marry a ton of it--out of
MRS. CONNAGE: (Referring to note-book) I had a wire from Hartford.
Dawson Ryder is coming up. Now there's a young man I like, and he's
floating in money. It seems to me that since you seem tired of Howard
Gillespie you might give Mr. Ryder some encouragement. This is the third
time he's been up in a month.
ROSALIND: How did you know I was tired of Howard Gillespie?
MRS. CONNAGE: The poor boy looks so miserable every time he comes.
ROSALIND: That was one of those romantic, pre-battle affairs. They're
MRS. CONNAGE: (Her say said) At any rate, make us proud of you to-night.
ROSALIND: Don't you think I'm beautiful?
MRS. CONNAGE: You know you are.
(From down-stairs is heard the moan of a violin being tuned, the roll of
a drum. MRS. CONNAGE turns quickly to her daughter.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come!
ROSALIND: One minute!
(Her mother leaves. ROSALIND goes to the glass where she gazes at
herself with great satisfaction. She kisses her hand and touches her
mirrored mouth with it. Then she turns out the lights and leaves the
room. Silence for a moment. A few chords from the piano, the discreet
patter of faint drums, the rustle of new silk, all blend on the
staircase outside and drift in through the partly opened door. Bundled
figures pass in the lighted hall. The laughter heard below becomes
doubled and multiplied. Then some one comes in, closes the door, and
switches on the lights. It is CECELIA. She goes to the chiffonier,
looks in the drawers, hesitates--then to the desk whence she takes the
cigarette-case and extracts one. She lights it and then, puffing and
blowing, walks toward the mirror.)
CECELIA: (In tremendously sophisticated accents) Oh, yes, coming out
is "such" a farce nowadays, you know. One really plays around so much
before one is seventeen, that it's positively anticlimax. (Shaking hands
with a visionary middle-aged nobleman.) Yes, your grace--I b'lieve
I've heard my sister speak of you. Have a puff--they're very good.
They're--they're Coronas. You don't smoke? What a pity! The king doesn't
allow it, I suppose. Yes, I'll dance.
(So she dances around the room to a tune from down-stairs, her arms
outstretched to an imaginary partner, the cigarette waving in her hand.)
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The corner of a den down-stairs, filled by a very comfortable leather
lounge. A small light is on each side above, and in the middle, over the
couch hangs a painting of a very old, very dignified gentleman, period
1860. Outside the music is heard in a fox-trot.
ROSALIND is seated on the lounge and on her left is HOWARD GILLESPIE, a
vapid youth of about twenty-four. He is obviously very unhappy, and she
is quite bored.
GILLESPIE: (Feebly) What do you mean I've changed. I feel the same
ROSALIND: But you don't look the same to me.
GILLESPIE: Three weeks ago you used to say that you liked me because I
was so blasé, so indifferent--I still am.
ROSALIND: But not about me. I used to like you because you had brown
eyes and thin legs.
GILLESPIE: (Helplessly) They're still thin and brown. You're a vampire,
ROSALIND: The only thing I know about vamping is what's on the piano
score. What confuses men is that I'm perfectly natural. I used to think
you were never jealous. Now you follow me with your eyes wherever I go.
GILLESPIE: I love you.
ROSALIND: (Coldly) I know it.
GILLESPIE: And you haven't kissed me for two weeks. I had an idea that
after a girl was kissed she was--was--won.
ROSALIND: Those days are over. I have to be won all over again every
time you see me.
GILLESPIE: Are you serious?
ROSALIND: About as usual. There used to be two kinds of kisses: First
when girls were kissed and deserted; second, when they were engaged. Now
there's a third kind, where the man is kissed and deserted. If Mr.
Jones of the nineties bragged he'd kissed a girl, every one knew he was
through with her. If Mr. Jones of 1919 brags the same every one knows
it's because he can't kiss her any more. Given a decent start any girl
can beat a man nowadays.
GILLESPIE: Then why do you play with men?
ROSALIND: (Leaning forward confidentially) For that first moment, when
he's interested. There is a moment--Oh, just before the first kiss, a
whispered word--something that makes it worth while.
GILLESPIE: And then?
ROSALIND: Then after that you make him talk about himself. Pretty soon
he thinks of nothing but being alone with you--he sulks, he won't fight,
he doesn't want to play--Victory!
(Enter DAWSON RYDER, twenty-six, handsome, wealthy, faithful to his own,
a bore perhaps, but steady and sure of success.)
RYDER: I believe this is my dance, Rosalind.
ROSALIND: Well, Dawson, so you recognize me. Now I know I haven't got
too much paint on. Mr. Ryder, this is Mr. Gillespie.
(They shake hands and GILLESPIE leaves, tremendously downcast.)
RYDER: Your party is certainly a success.
ROSALIND: Is it--I haven't seen it lately. I'm weary--Do you mind
sitting out a minute?
RYDER: Mind--I'm delighted. You know I loathe this "rushing" idea. See a
girl yesterday, to-day, to-morrow.
ROSALIND: I wonder if you know you love me.
RYDER: (Startled) What--Oh--you know you're remarkable!
ROSALIND: Because you know I'm an awful proposition. Any one who marries
me will have his hands full. I'm mean--mighty mean.
RYDER: Oh, I wouldn't say that.
ROSALIND: Oh, yes, I am--especially to the people nearest to me. (She
rises.) Come, let's go. I've changed my mind and I want to dance. Mother
is probably having a fit.
(Exeunt. Enter ALEC and CECELIA.)
CECELIA: Just my luck to get my own brother for an intermission.
ALEC: (Gloomily) I'll go if you want me to.
CECELIA: Good heavens, no--with whom would I begin the next dance?
(Sighs.) There's no color in a dance since the French officers went
ALEC: (Thoughtfully) I don't want Amory to fall in love with Rosalind.
CECELIA: Why, I had an idea that that was just what you did want.
ALEC: I did, but since seeing these girls--I don't know. I'm awfully
attached to Amory. He's sensitive and I don't want him to break his
heart over somebody who doesn't care about him.
CECELIA: He's very good looking.
ALEC: (Still thoughtfully) She won't marry him, but a girl doesn't have
to marry a man to break his heart.
CECELIA: What does it? I wish I knew the secret.
ALEC: Why, you cold-blooded little kitty. It's lucky for some that the
Lord gave you a pug nose.
(Enter MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Where on earth is Rosalind?
ALEC: (Brilliantly) Of course you've come to the best people to find
out. She'd naturally be with us.
MRS. CONNAGE: Her father has marshalled eight bachelor millionaires to
ALEC: You might form a squad and march through the halls.
MRS. CONNAGE: I'm perfectly serious--for all I know she may be at the
Cocoanut Grove with some football player on the night of her debut. You
look left and I'll--
ALEC: (Flippantly) Hadn't you better send the butler through the cellar?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Perfectly serious) Oh, you don't think she'd be there?
CECELIA: He's only joking, mother.
ALEC: Mother had a picture of her tapping a keg of beer with some high
MRS. CONNAGE: Let's look right away.
(They go out. ROSALIND comes in with GILLESPIE.)
GILLESPIE: Rosalind--Once more I ask you. Don't you care a blessed thing
(AMORY walks in briskly.)
AMORY: My dance.
ROSALIND: Mr. Gillespie, this is Mr. Blaine.
GILLESPIE: I've met Mr. Blaine. From Lake Geneva, aren't you?
GILLESPIE: (Desperately) I've been there. It's in the--the Middle West,
AMORY: (Spicily) Approximately. But I always felt that I'd rather be
provincial hot-tamale than soup without seasoning.
AMORY: Oh, no offense.
(GILLESPIE bows and leaves.)
ROSALIND: He's too much "people".
AMORY: I was in love with a "people" once.
AMORY: Oh, yes--her name was Isabelle--nothing at all to her except what
I read into her.
ROSALIND: What happened?
AMORY: Finally I convinced her that she was smarter than I was--then she
threw me over. Said I was critical and impractical, you know.
ROSALIND: What do you mean impractical?
AMORY: Oh--drive a car, but can't change a tire.
ROSALIND: What are you going to do?
AMORY: Can't say--run for President, write--
ROSALIND: Greenwich Village?
AMORY: Good heavens, no--I said write--not drink.
ROSALIND: I like business men. Clever men are usually so homely.
AMORY: I feel as if I'd known you for ages.
ROSALIND: Oh, are you going to commence the "pyramid" story?
AMORY: No--I was going to make it French. I was Louis XIV and you were
one of my--my--(Changing his tone.) Suppose--we fell in love.
ROSALIND: I've suggested pretending.
AMORY: If we did it would be very big.
AMORY: Because selfish people are in a way terribly capable of great
ROSALIND: (Turning her lips up) Pretend.
(Very deliberately they kiss.)
AMORY: I can't say sweet things. But you "are" beautiful.
ROSALIND: Not that.
AMORY: What then?
ROSALIND: (Sadly) Oh, nothing--only I want sentiment, real
sentiment--and I never find it.
AMORY: I never find anything else in the world--and I loathe it.
ROSALIND: It's so hard to find a male to gratify one's artistic taste.
(Some one has opened a door and the music of a waltz surges into the
room. ROSALIND rises.)
ROSALIND: Listen! they're playing "Kiss Me Again."
(He looks at her.)
AMORY: (Softly--the battle lost) I love you.
ROSALIND: I love you--now.
AMORY: Oh, God, what have I done?
ROSALIND: Nothing. Oh, don't talk. Kiss me again.
AMORY: I don't know why or how, but I love you--from the moment I saw
ROSALIND: Me too--I--I--oh, to-night's to-night.
(Her brother strolls in, starts and then in a loud voice says: "Oh,
excuse me," and goes.)
ROSALIND: (Her lips scarcely stirring) Don't let me go--I don't care who
knows what I do.
AMORY: Say it!
ROSALIND: I love you--now. (They part.) Oh--I am very youthful, thank
God--and rather beautiful, thank God--and happy, thank God, thank
God--(She pauses and then, in an odd burst of prophecy, adds) Poor
(He kisses her again.)
Within two weeks Amory and Rosalind were deeply and passionately in
love. The critical qualities which had spoiled for each of them a dozen
romances were dulled by the great wave of emotion that washed over them.
"It may be an insane love-affair," she told her anxious mother, "but
it's not inane."
The wave swept Amory into an advertising agency early in March, where
he alternated between astonishing bursts of rather exceptional work and
wild dreams of becoming suddenly rich and touring Italy with Rosalind.
They were together constantly, for lunch, for dinner, and nearly every
evening--always in a sort of breathless hush, as if they feared that any
minute the spell would break and drop them out of this paradise of rose
and flame. But the spell became a trance, seemed to increase from day
to day; they began to talk of marrying in July--in June. All life was
transmitted into terms of their love, all experience, all desires, all
ambitions, were nullified--their senses of humor crawled into corners to
sleep; their former love-affairs seemed faintly laughable and scarcely
For the second time in his life Amory had had a complete bouleversement
and was hurrying into line with his generation.
A LITTLE INTERLUDE
Amory wandered slowly up the avenue and thought of the night as
inevitably his--the pageantry and carnival of rich dusk and dim streets
... it seemed that he had closed the book of fading harmonies at last
and stepped into the sensuous vibrant walks of life. Everywhere these
countless lights, this promise of a night of streets and singing--he
moved in a half-dream through the crowd as if expecting to meet Rosalind
hurrying toward him with eager feet from every corner.... How the
unforgettable faces of dusk would blend to her, the myriad footsteps,
a thousand overtures, would blend to her footsteps; and there would be
more drunkenness than wine in the softness of her eyes on his. Even
his dreams now were faint violins drifting like summer sounds upon the
The room was in darkness except for the faint glow of Tom's cigarette
where he lounged by the open window. As the door shut behind him, Amory
stood a moment with his back against it.
"Hello, Benvenuto Blaine. How went the advertising business to-day?"
Amory sprawled on a couch.
"I loathed it as usual!" The momentary vision of the bustling agency was
displaced quickly by another picture.
"My God! She's wonderful!"
"I can't tell you," repeated Amory, "just how wonderful she is. I don't
want you to know. I don't want any one to know."
Another sigh came from the window--quite a resigned sigh.
"She's life and hope and happiness, my whole world now."
He felt the quiver of a tear on his eyelid.
"Oh, "Golly", Tom!"
"Sit like we do," she whispered.
He sat in the big chair and held out his arms so that she could nestle
"I knew you'd come to-night," she said softly, "like summer, just when I
needed you most... darling... darling..."
His lips moved lazily over her face.
"You "taste" so good," he sighed.
"How do you mean, lover?"
"Oh, just sweet, just sweet..." he held her closer.
"Amory," she whispered, "when you're ready for me I'll marry you."
"We won't have much at first."
"Don't!" she cried. "It hurts when you reproach yourself for what you
can't give me. I've got your precious self--and that's enough for me."
"You know, don't you? Oh, you know."
"Yes, but I want to hear you say it."
"I love you, Amory, with all my heart."
"Always, will you?"
"All my life--Oh, Amory--"
"I want to belong to you. I want your people to be my people. I want to
have your babies."
"But I haven't any people."
"Don't laugh at me, Amory. Just kiss me."
"I'll do what you want," he said.
"No, I'll do what "you" want. We're "you"--not me. Oh, you're so much a
part, so much all of me..."
He closed his eyes.
"I'm so happy that I'm frightened. Wouldn't it be awful if this was--was
the high point?..."
She looked at him dreamily.
"Beauty and love pass, I know.... Oh, there's sadness, too. I suppose
all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the scent of roses and
then the death of roses--"
"Beauty means the agony of sacrifice and the end of agony...."
"And, Amory, we're beautiful, I know. I'm sure God loves us--"
"He loves you. You're his most precious possession."
"I'm not his, I'm yours. Amory, I belong to you. For the first time I
regret all the other kisses; now I know how much a kiss can mean."
Then they would smoke and he would tell her about his day at the
office--and where they might live. Sometimes, when he was particularly
loquacious, she went to sleep in his arms, but he loved that
Rosalind--all Rosalinds--as he had never in the world loved any one
else. Intangibly fleeting, unrememberable hours.
One day Amory and Howard Gillespie meeting by accident down-town took
lunch together, and Amory heard a story that delighted him. Gillespie
after several cocktails was in a talkative mood; he began by telling
Amory that he was sure Rosalind was slightly eccentric.
He had gone with her on a swimming party up in Westchester County, and
some one mentioned that Annette Kellerman had been there one day on a
visit and had dived from the top of a rickety, thirty-foot summer-house.
Immediately Rosalind insisted that Howard should climb up with her to
see what it looked like.
A minute later, as he sat and dangled his feet on the edge, a form shot
by him; Rosalind, her arms spread in a beautiful swan dive, had sailed
through the air into the clear water.
"Of course "I" had to go, after that--and I nearly killed myself. I
thought I was pretty good to even try it. Nobody else in the party tried
it. Well, afterward Rosalind had the nerve to ask me why I stooped over
when I dove. 'It didn't make it any easier,' she said, 'it just took all
the courage out of it.' I ask you, what can a man do with a girl like
that? Unnecessary, I call it."
Gillespie failed to understand why Amory was smiling delightedly all
through lunch. He thought perhaps he was one of these hollow optimists.
FIVE WEEKS LATER
Again the library of the Connage house. ROSALIND is alone, sitting
on the lounge staring very moodily and unhappily at nothing. She has
changed perceptibly--she is a trifle thinner for one thing; the light in
her eyes is not so bright; she looks easily a year older.
Her mother comes in, muffled in an opera-cloak. She takes in ROSALIND
with a nervous glance.
MRS. CONNAGE: Who is coming to-night?
(ROSALIND fails to hear her, at least takes no notice.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec is coming up to take me to this Barrie play, "Et tu,
Brutus." (She perceives that she is talking to herself.) Rosalind! I
asked you who is coming to-night?
ROSALIND: (Starting) Oh--what--oh--Amory--
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sarcastically) You have so "many" admirers lately that I
couldn't imagine "which" one. (ROSALIND doesn't answer.) Dawson Ryder
is more patient than I thought he'd be. You haven't given him an evening
ROSALIND: (With a very weary expression that is quite new to her face.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Oh, "I" won't interfere. You've already wasted over two
months on a theoretical genius who hasn't a penny to his name, but "go"
ahead, waste your life on him. "I" won't interfere.
ROSALIND: (As if repeating a tiresome lesson) You know he has a
little income--and you know he's earning thirty-five dollars a week in
MRS. CONNAGE: And it wouldn't buy your clothes. (She pauses but ROSALIND
makes no reply.) I have your best interests at heart when I tell you not
to take a step you'll spend your days regretting. It's not as if your
father could help you. Things have been hard for him lately and he's an
old man. You'd be dependent absolutely on a dreamer, a nice, well-born
boy, but a dreamer--merely "clever". (She implies that this quality in
itself is rather vicious.)
ROSALIND: For heaven's sake, mother--
(A maid appears, announces Mr. Blaine who follows immediately. AMORY'S
friends have been telling him for ten days that he "looks like the wrath
of God," and he does. As a matter of fact he has not been able to eat a
mouthful in the last thirty-six hours.)
AMORY: Good evening, Mrs. Connage.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Not unkindly) Good evening, Amory.
(AMORY and ROSALIND exchange glances--and ALEC comes in. ALEC'S attitude
throughout has been neutral. He believes in his heart that the marriage
would make AMORY mediocre and ROSALIND miserable, but he feels a great
sympathy for both of them.)
ALEC: Hi, Amory!
AMORY: Hi, Alec! Tom said he'd meet you at the theatre.
ALEC: Yeah, just saw him. How's the advertising to-day? Write some
AMORY: Oh, it's about the same. I got a raise--(Every one looks at him
rather eagerly)--of two dollars a week. (General collapse.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come, Alec, I hear the car.
(A good night, rather chilly in sections. After MRS. CONNAGE and ALEC
go out there is a pause. ROSALIND still stares moodily at the fireplace.
AMORY goes to her and puts his arm around her.)
AMORY: Darling girl.
(They kiss. Another pause and then she seizes his hand, covers it with
kisses and holds it to her breast.)
ROSALIND: (Sadly) I love your hands, more than anything. I see them
often when you're away from me--so tired; I know every line of them.
(Their eyes meet for a second and then she begins to cry--a tearless
ROSALIND: Oh, we're so darned pitiful!
ROSALIND: Oh, I want to die!
AMORY: Rosalind, another night of this and I'll go to pieces. You've
been this way four days now. You've got to be more encouraging or I
can't work or eat or sleep. (He looks around helplessly as if searching
for new words to clothe an old, shopworn phrase.) We'll have to make a
start. I like having to make a start together. (His forced hopefulness
fades as he sees her unresponsive.) What's the matter? (He gets up
suddenly and starts to pace the floor.) It's Dawson Ryder, that's what
it is. He's been working on your nerves. You've been with him every
afternoon for a week. People come and tell me they've seen you together,
and I have to smile and nod and pretend it hasn't the slightest
significance for me. And you won't tell me anything as it develops.
ROSALIND: Amory, if you don't sit down I'll scream.
AMORY: (Sitting down suddenly beside her) Oh, Lord.
ROSALIND: (Taking his hand gently) You know I love you, don't you?
ROSALIND: You know I'll always love you--
AMORY: Don't talk that way; you frighten me. It sounds as if we weren't
going to have each other. (She cries a little and rising from the couch
goes to the armchair.) I've felt all afternoon that things were worse.
I nearly went wild down at the office--couldn't write a line. Tell me
ROSALIND: There's nothing to tell, I say. I'm just nervous.
AMORY: Rosalind, you're playing with the idea of marrying Dawson Ryder.
ROSALIND: (After a pause) He's been asking me to all day.
AMORY: Well, he's got his nerve!
ROSALIND: (After another pause) I like him.
AMORY: Don't say that. It hurts me.
ROSALIND: Don't be a silly idiot. You know you're the only man I've ever
loved, ever will love.
AMORY: (Quickly) Rosalind, let's get married--next week.
ROSALIND: We can't.
AMORY: Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, we can't. I'd be your squaw--in some horrible place.
AMORY: We'll have two hundred and seventy-five dollars a month all told.
ROSALIND: Darling, I don't even do my own hair, usually.
AMORY: I'll do it for you.
ROSALIND: (Between a laugh and a sob) Thanks.
AMORY: Rosalind, you "can't" be thinking of marrying some one else. Tell
me! You leave me in the dark. I can help you fight it out if you'll only
ROSALIND: It's just--us. We're pitiful, that's all. The very qualities I
love you for are the ones that will always make you a failure.
AMORY: (Grimly) Go on.
ROSALIND: Oh--it "is" Dawson Ryder. He's so reliable, I almost feel that
he'd be a--a background.
AMORY: You don't love him.
ROSALIND: I know, but I respect him, and he's a good man and a strong
AMORY: (Grudgingly) Yes--he's that.
ROSALIND: Well--here's one little thing. There was a little poor boy we
met in Rye Tuesday afternoon--and, oh, Dawson took him on his lap
and talked to him and promised him an Indian suit--and next day he
remembered and bought it--and, oh, it was so sweet and I couldn't help
thinking he'd be so nice to--to our children--take care of them--and I
wouldn't have to worry.
AMORY: (In despair) Rosalind! Rosalind!
ROSALIND: (With a faint roguishness) Don't look so consciously
AMORY: What power we have of hurting each other!
ROSALIND: (Commencing to sob again) It's been so perfect--you and I. So
like a dream that I'd longed for and never thought I'd find. The first
real unselfishness I've ever felt in my life. And I can't see it fade
out in a colorless atmosphere!
AMORY: It won't--it won't!
ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memory--tucked away in my
AMORY: Yes, women can do that--but not men. I'd remember always, not
the beauty of it while it lasted, but just the bitterness, the long
AMORY: All the years never to see you, never to kiss you, just a gate
shut and barred--you don't dare be my wife.
ROSALIND: No--no--I'm taking the hardest course, the strongest course.
Marrying you would be a failure and I never fail--if you don't stop
walking up and down I'll scream!
(Again he sinks despairingly onto the lounge.)
AMORY: Come over here and kiss me.
AMORY: Don't you "want" to kiss me?
ROSALIND: To-night I want you to love me calmly and coolly.
AMORY: The beginning of the end.
ROSALIND: (With a burst of insight) Amory, you're young. I'm young.
People excuse us now for our poses and vanities, for treating people
like Sancho and yet getting away with it. They excuse us now. But you've
got a lot of knocks coming to you--
AMORY: And you're afraid to take them with me.
ROSALIND: No, not that. There was a poem I read somewhere--you'll say
Ella Wheeler Wilcox and laugh--but listen:
"For this is wisdom--to love and live,
To take what fate or the gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in time--let go."
AMORY: But we haven't had.
ROSALIND: Amory, I'm yours--you know it. There have been times in the
last month I'd have been completely yours if you'd said so. But I can't
marry you and ruin both our lives.
AMORY: We've got to take our chance for happiness.
ROSALIND: Dawson says I'd learn to love him.
(AMORY with his head sunk in his hands does not move. The life seems
suddenly gone out of him.)
ROSALIND: Lover! Lover! I can't do with you, and I can't imagine life
AMORY: Rosalind, we're on each other's nerves. It's just that we're both
high-strung, and this week--
(His voice is curiously old. She crosses to him and taking his face in
her hands, kisses him.)
ROSALIND: I can't, Amory. I can't be shut away from the trees and
flowers, cooped up in a little flat, waiting for you. You'd hate me in a
narrow atmosphere. I'd make you hate me.
(Again she is blinded by sudden uncontrolled tears.)
ROSALIND: Oh, darling, go--Don't make it harder! I can't stand it--
AMORY: (His face drawn, his voice strained) Do you know what you're
saying? Do you mean forever?
(There is a difference somehow in the quality of their suffering.)
ROSALIND: Can't you see--
AMORY: I'm afraid I can't if you love me. You're afraid of taking two
years' knocks with me.
ROSALIND: I wouldn't be the Rosalind you love.
AMORY: (A little hysterically) I can't give you up! I can't, that's all!
I've got to have you!
ROSALIND: (A hard note in her voice) You're being a baby now.
AMORY: (Wildly) I don't care! You're spoiling our lives!
ROSALIND: I'm doing the wise thing, the only thing.
AMORY: Are you going to marry Dawson Ryder?
ROSALIND: Oh, don't ask me. You know I'm old in some ways--in
others--well, I'm just a little girl. I like sunshine and pretty things
and cheerfulness--and I dread responsibility. I don't want to think
about pots and kitchens and brooms. I want to worry whether my legs will
get slick and brown when I swim in the summer.
AMORY: And you love me.
ROSALIND: That's just why it has to end. Drifting hurts too much. We
can't have any more scenes like this.
(She draws his ring from her finger and hands it to him. Their eyes
blind again with tears.)
AMORY: (His lips against her wet cheek) Don't! Keep it, please--oh,
don't break my heart!
(She presses the ring softly into his hand.)
ROSALIND: (Brokenly) You'd better go.
(She looks at him once more, with infinite longing, infinite sadness.)
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory--
(He goes to the door, fumbles for the knob, finds it--she sees him throw
back his head--and he is gone. Gone--she half starts from the lounge and
then sinks forward on her face into the pillows.)
ROSALIND: Oh, God, I want to die! (After a moment she rises and with
her eyes closed feels her way to the door. Then she turns and looks once
more at the room. Here they had sat and dreamed: that tray she had so
often filled with matches for him; that shade that they had discreetly
lowered one long Sunday afternoon. Misty-eyed she stands and remembers;
she speaks aloud.) Oh, Amory, what have I done to you?
(And deep under the aching sadness that will pass in time, Rosalind
feels that she has lost something, she knows not what, she knows not
CHAPTER 2. Experiments in Convalescence
The Knickerbocker Bar, beamed upon by Maxfield Parrish's jovial,
colorful "Old King Cole," was well crowded. Amory stopped in the
entrance and looked at his wrist-watch; he wanted particularly to know
the time, for something in his mind that catalogued and classified liked
to chip things off cleanly. Later it would satisfy him in a vague way to
be able to think "that thing ended at exactly twenty minutes after eight
on Thursday, June 10, 1919." This was allowing for the walk from
her house--a walk concerning which he had afterward not the faintest
He was in rather grotesque condition: two days of worry and nervousness,
of sleepless nights, of untouched meals, culminating in the emotional
crisis and Rosalind's abrupt decision--the strain of it had drugged the
foreground of his mind into a merciful coma. As he fumbled clumsily with
the olives at the free-lunch table, a man approached and spoke to him,
and the olives dropped from his nervous hands.
It was some one he had known at Princeton; he had no idea of the name.
"Hello, old boy--" he heard himself saying.
"Name's Jim Wilson--you've forgotten."
"Sure, you bet, Jim. I remember."
"Going to reunion?"
"You know!" Simultaneously he realized that he was not going to reunion.
Amory nodded, his eyes staring oddly. Stepping back to let some one
pass, he knocked the dish of olives to a crash on the floor.
"Too bad," he muttered. "Have a drink?"
Wilson, ponderously diplomatic, reached over and slapped him on the
"You've had plenty, old boy."
Amory eyed him dumbly until Wilson grew embarrassed under the scrutiny.
"Plenty, hell!" said Amory finally. "I haven't had a drink to-day."
Wilson looked incredulous.
"Have a drink or not?" cried Amory rudely.
Together they sought the bar.
"I'll just take a Bronx."
Wilson had another; Amory had several more. They decided to sit down.
At ten o'clock Wilson was displaced by Carling, class of '15. Amory, his
head spinning gorgeously, layer upon layer of soft satisfaction setting
over the bruised spots of his spirit, was discoursing volubly on the
"'S a mental was'e," he insisted with owl-like wisdom. "Two years my
life spent inalleshual vacuity. Los' idealism, got be physcal anmal,"
he shook his fist expressively at Old King Cole, "got be Prussian 'bout
ev'thing, women 'specially. Use' be straight 'bout women college. Now
don'givadam." He expressed his lack of principle by sweeping a seltzer
bottle with a broad gesture to noisy extinction on the floor, but this
did not interrupt his speech. "Seek pleasure where find it for to-morrow
die. 'At's philos'phy for me now on."
Carling yawned, but Amory, waxing brilliant, continued:
"Use' wonder 'bout things--people satisfied compromise, fif'y-fif'y
att'tude on life. Now don' wonder, don' wonder--" He became so emphatic
in impressing on Carling the fact that he didn't wonder that he lost the
thread of his discourse and concluded by announcing to the bar at large
that he was a "physcal anmal."
"What are you celebrating, Amory?"
Amory leaned forward confidentially.
"Cel'brating blowmylife. Great moment blow my life. Can't tell you 'bout
He heard Carling addressing a remark to the bartender:
"Give him a bromo-seltzer."
Amory shook his head indignantly.
"None that stuff!"
"But listen, Amory, you're making yourself sick. You're white as a
Amory considered the question. He tried to look at himself in the mirror
but even by squinting up one eye could only see as far as the row of
bottles behind the bar.
"Like som'n solid. We go get some--some salad."
He settled his coat with an attempt at nonchalance, but letting go of
the bar was too much for him, and he slumped against a chair.
"We'll go over to Shanley's," suggested Carling, offering an elbow.
With this assistance Amory managed to get his legs in motion enough to
propel him across Forty-second Street.
Shanley's was very dim. He was conscious that he was talking in a loud
voice, very succinctly and convincingly, he thought, about a desire
to crush people under his heel. He consumed three club sandwiches,
devouring each as though it were no larger than a chocolate-drop.
Then Rosalind began popping into his mind again, and he found his lips
forming her name over and over. Next he was sleepy, and he had a hazy,
listless sense of people in dress suits, probably waiters, gathering
around the table....
... He was in a room and Carling was saying something about a knot in
"Nemmine," he managed to articulate drowsily. "Sleep in 'em...."
He awoke laughing and his eyes lazily roamed his surroundings, evidently
a bedroom and bath in a good hotel. His head was whirring and picture
after picture was forming and blurring and melting before his eyes, but
beyond the desire to laugh he had no entirely conscious reaction. He
reached for the 'phone beside his bed.
"Hello--what hotel is this--?
"Knickerbocker? All right, send up two rye high-balls--"
He lay for a moment and wondered idly whether they'd send up a bottle
or just two of those little glass containers. Then, with an effort, he
struggled out of bed and ambled into the bathroom.
When he emerged, rubbing himself lazily with a towel, he found the bar
boy with the drinks and had a sudden desire to kid him. On reflection he
decided that this would be undignified, so he waved him away.
As the new alcohol tumbled into his stomach and warmed him, the isolated
pictures began slowly to form a cinema reel of the day before. Again he
saw Rosalind curled weeping among the pillows, again he felt her tears
against his cheek. Her words began ringing in his ears: "Don't ever
forget me, Amory--don't ever forget me--"
"Hell!" he faltered aloud, and then he choked and collapsed on the
bed in a shaken spasm of grief. After a minute he opened his eyes and
regarded the ceiling.
"Damned fool!" he exclaimed in disgust, and with a voluminous sigh rose
and approached the bottle. After another glass he gave way loosely
to the luxury of tears. Purposely he called up into his mind little
incidents of the vanished spring, phrased to himself emotions that would
make him react even more strongly to sorrow.
"We were so happy," he intoned dramatically, "so very happy." Then he
gave way again and knelt beside the bed, his head half-buried in the
"My own girl--my own--Oh--"
He clinched his teeth so that the tears streamed in a flood from his
"Oh... my baby girl, all I had, all I wanted!... Oh, my girl, come back,
come back! I need you... need you... we're so pitiful ... just misery we
brought each other.... She'll be shut away from me.... I can't see her;
I can't be her friend. It's got to be that way--it's got to be--"
And then again:
"We've been so happy, so very happy...."
He rose to his feet and threw himself on the bed in an ecstasy of
sentiment, and then lay exhausted while he realized slowly that he had
been very drunk the night before, and that his head was spinning again
wildly. He laughed, rose, and crossed again to Lethe....
At noon he ran into a crowd in the Biltmore bar, and the riot began
again. He had a vague recollection afterward of discussing French poetry
with a British officer who was introduced to him as "Captain Corn, of
his Majesty's Foot," and he remembered attempting to recite "Clair de
Lune" at luncheon; then he slept in a big, soft chair until almost
five o'clock when another crowd found and woke him; there followed an
alcoholic dressing of several temperaments for the ordeal of dinner.
They selected theatre tickets at Tyson's for a play that had a
four-drink programme--a play with two monotonous voices, with turbid,
gloomy scenes, and lighting effects that were hard to follow when his
eyes behaved so amazingly. He imagined afterward that it must have been
... Then the Cocoanut Grove, where Amory slept again on a little balcony
outside. Out in Shanley's, Yonkers, he became almost logical, and by a
careful control of the number of high-balls he drank, grew quite lucid
and garrulous. He found that the party consisted of five men, two of
whom he knew slightly; he became righteous about paying his share of the
expense and insisted in a loud voice on arranging everything then and
there to the amusement of the tables around him....
Some one mentioned that a famous cabaret star was at the next table,
so Amory rose and, approaching gallantly, introduced himself... this
involved him in an argument, first with her escort and then with the
headwaiter--Amory's attitude being a lofty and exaggerated courtesy...
he consented, after being confronted with irrefutable logic, to being
led back to his own table.
"Decided to commit suicide," he announced suddenly.
"When? Next year?"
"Now. To-morrow morning. Going to take a room at the Commodore, get into
a hot bath and open a vein."
"He's getting morbid!"
"You need another rye, old boy!"
"We'll all talk it over to-morrow."
But Amory was not to be dissuaded, from argument at least.
"Did you ever get that way?" he demanded confidentially fortaccio.
"My chronic state."
This provoked discussion. One man said that he got so depressed
sometimes that he seriously considered it. Another agreed that there was
nothing to live for. "Captain Corn," who had somehow rejoined the party,
said that in his opinion it was when one's health was bad that one felt
that way most. Amory's suggestion was that they should each order a
Bronx, mix broken glass in it, and drink it off. To his relief no one
applauded the idea, so having finished his high-ball, he balanced his
chin in his hand and his elbow on the table--a most delicate, scarcely
noticeable sleeping position, he assured himself--and went into a deep
He was awakened by a woman clinging to him, a pretty woman, with brown,
disarranged hair and dark blue eyes.
"Take me home!" she cried.
"Hello!" said Amory, blinking.
"I like you," she announced tenderly.
"I like you too."
He noticed that there was a noisy man in the background and that one of
his party was arguing with him.
"Fella I was with's a damn fool," confided the blue-eyed woman. "I hate
him. I want to go home with you."
"You drunk?" queried Amory with intense wisdom.
She nodded coyly.
"Go home with him," he advised gravely. "He brought you."
At this point the noisy man in the background broke away from his
detainers and approached.
"Say!" he said fiercely. "I brought this girl out here and you're
Amory regarded him coldly, while the girl clung to him closer.
"You let go that girl!" cried the noisy man.
Amory tried to make his eyes threatening.
"You go to hell!" he directed finally, and turned his attention to the
"Love first sight," he suggested.
"I love you," she breathed and nestled close to him. She "did" have
Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.
"That's just Margaret Diamond. She's drunk and this fellow here brought
her. Better let her go."
"Let him take care of her, then!" shouted Amory furiously. "I'm no W. Y.
C. A. worker, am I?--am I?"
"Let her go!"
"It's "her" hanging on, damn it! Let her hang!"
The crowd around the table thickened. For an instant a brawl threatened,
but a sleek waiter bent back Margaret Diamond's fingers until she
released her hold on Amory, whereupon she slapped the waiter furiously
in the face and flung her arms about her raging original escort.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Amory.
"Come on, the taxis are getting scarce!"
"C'mon, Amory. Your romance is over."
"You don't know how true you spoke. No idea. 'At's the whole trouble."
AMORY ON THE LABOR QUESTION
Two mornings later he knocked at the president's door at Bascome and
Barlow's advertising agency.
Amory entered unsteadily.
"'Morning, Mr. Barlow."
Mr. Barlow brought his glasses to the inspection and set his mouth
slightly ajar that he might better listen.
"Well, Mr. Blaine. We haven't seen you for several days."
"No," said Amory. "I'm quitting."
"I don't like it here."
"I'm sorry. I thought our relations had been quite--ah--pleasant. You
seemed to be a hard worker--a little inclined perhaps to write fancy
"I just got tired of it," interrupted Amory rudely. "It didn't matter a
damn to me whether Harebell's flour was any better than any one else's.
In fact, I never ate any of it. So I got tired of telling people about
it--oh, I know I've been drinking--"
Mr. Barlow's face steeled by several ingots of expression.
"You asked for a position--"
Amory waved him to silence.
"And I think I was rottenly underpaid. Thirty-five dollars a week--less
than a good carpenter."
"You had just started. You'd never worked before," said Mr. Barlow
"But it took about ten thousand dollars to educate me where I could
write your darned stuff for you. Anyway, as far as length of service
goes, you've got stenographers here you've paid fifteen a week for five
"I'm not going to argue with you, sir," said Mr. Barlow rising.
"Neither am I. I just wanted to tell you I'm quitting."
They stood for a moment looking at each other impassively and then Amory
turned and left the office.
A LITTLE LULL
Four days after that he returned at last to the apartment. Tom was
engaged on a book review for The New Democracy on the staff of which he
was employed. They regarded each other for a moment in silence.
"Good Lord, Amory, where'd you get the black eye--and the jaw?"
"That's a mere nothing."
He peeled off his coat and bared his shoulders.
Tom emitted a low whistle.
"What hit you?"
Amory laughed again.
"Oh, a lot of people. I got beaten up. Fact." He slowly replaced his
shirt. "It was bound to come sooner or later and I wouldn't have missed
it for anything."
"Who was it?"
"Well, there were some waiters and a couple of sailors and a few stray
pedestrians, I guess. It's the strangest feeling. You ought to get
beaten up just for the experience of it. You fall down after a while and
everybody sort of slashes in at you before you hit the ground--then they
Tom lighted a cigarette.
"I spent a day chasing you all over town, Amory. But you always kept a
little ahead of me. I'd say you've been on some party."
Amory tumbled into a chair and asked for a cigarette.
"You sober now?" asked Tom quizzically.
"Pretty sober. Why?"
"Well, Alec has left. His family had been after him to go home and live,
A spasm of pain shook Amory.
"Yes, it is too bad. We'll have to get some one else if we're going to
stay here. The rent's going up."
"Sure. Get anybody. I'll leave it to you, Tom."
Amory walked into his bedroom. The first thing that met his glance was
a photograph of Rosalind that he had intended to have framed, propped
up against a mirror on his dresser. He looked at it unmoved. After
the vivid mental pictures of her that were his portion at present, the
portrait was curiously unreal. He went back into the study.
"Got a cardboard box?"
"No," answered Tom, puzzled. "Why should I have? Oh, yes--there may be
one in Alec's room."
Eventually Amory found what he was looking for and, returning to his
dresser, opened a drawer full of letters, notes, part of a chain,
two little handkerchiefs, and some snap-shots. As he transferred them
carefully to the box his mind wandered to some place in a book where
the hero, after preserving for a year a cake of his lost love's soap,
finally washed his hands with it. He laughed and began to hum "After
you've gone" ... ceased abruptly...
The string broke twice, and then he managed to secure it, dropped
the package into the bottom of his trunk, and having slammed the lid
returned to the study.
"Going out?" Tom's voice held an undertone of anxiety.
"Couldn't say, old keed."
"Let's have dinner together."
"Sorry. I told Sukey Brett I'd eat with him."
Amory crossed the street and had a high-ball; then he walked to
Washington Square and found a top seat on a bus. He disembarked at
Forty-third Street and strolled to the Biltmore bar.
"What'll you have?"
The advent of prohibition with the "thirsty-first" put a sudden stop to
the submerging of Amory's sorrows, and when he awoke one morning to find
that the old bar-to-bar days were over, he had neither remorse for the
past three weeks nor regret that their repetition was impossible. He had
taken the most violent, if the weakest, method to shield himself
from the stabs of memory, and while it was not a course he would
have prescribed for others, he found in the end that it had done its
business: he was over the first flush of pain.
Don't misunderstand! Amory had loved Rosalind as he would never love
another living person. She had taken the first flush of his youth and
brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had surprised
him, gentleness and unselfishness that he had never given to another
creature. He had later love-affairs, but of a different sort: in those
he went back to that, perhaps, more typical frame of mind, in which the
girl became the mirror of a mood in him. Rosalind had drawn out what was
more than passionate admiration; he had a deep, undying affection for
But there had been, near the end, so much dramatic tragedy, culminating
in the arabesque nightmare of his three weeks' spree, that he was
emotionally worn out. The people and surroundings that he remembered as
being cool or delicately artificial, seemed to promise him a refuge. He
wrote a cynical story which featured his father's funeral and despatched
it to a magazine, receiving in return a check for sixty dollars and a
request for more of the same tone. This tickled his vanity, but inspired
him to no further effort.
He read enormously. He was puzzled and depressed by "A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man"; intensely interested by "Joan and Peter" and
"The Undying Fire," and rather surprised by his discovery through a
critic named Mencken of several excellent American novels: "Vandover
and the Brute," "The Damnation of Theron Ware," and "Jennie Gerhardt."
Mackenzie, Chesterton, Galsworthy, Bennett, had sunk in his
appreciation from sagacious, life-saturated geniuses to merely diverting
contemporaries. Shaw's aloof clarity and brilliant consistency and the
gloriously intoxicated efforts of H. G. Wells to fit the key of romantic
symmetry into the elusive lock of truth, alone won his rapt attention.
He wanted to see Monsignor Darcy, to whom he had written when he landed,
but he had not heard from him; besides he knew that a visit to Monsignor
would entail the story of Rosalind, and the thought of repeating it
turned him cold with horror.
In his search for cool people he remembered Mrs. Lawrence, a very
intelligent, very dignified lady, a convert to the church, and a great
devotee of Monsignor's.
He called her on the 'phone one day. Yes, she remembered him perfectly;
no, Monsignor wasn't in town, was in Boston she thought; he'd promised
to come to dinner when he returned. Couldn't Amory take luncheon with
"I thought I'd better catch up, Mrs. Lawrence," he said rather
ambiguously when he arrived.
"Monsignor was here just last week," said Mrs. Lawrence regretfully. "He
was very anxious to see you, but he'd left your address at home."
"Did he think I'd plunged into Bolshevism?" asked Amory, interested.
"Oh, he's having a frightful time."
"About the Irish Republic. He thinks it lacks dignity."
"He went to Boston when the Irish President arrived and he was greatly
distressed because the receiving committee, when they rode in an
automobile, "would" put their arms around the President."
"I don't blame him."
"Well, what impressed you more than anything while you were in the army?
You look a great deal older."
"That's from another, more disastrous battle," he answered, smiling in
spite of himself. "But the army--let me see--well, I discovered that
physical courage depends to a great extent on the physical shape a man
is in. I found that I was as brave as the next man--it used to worry me
"Well, the idea that men can stand anything if they get used to it, and
the fact that I got a high mark in the psychological examination."
Mrs. Lawrence laughed. Amory was finding it a great relief to be in this
cool house on Riverside Drive, away from more condensed New York and
the sense of people expelling great quantities of breath into a
little space. Mrs. Lawrence reminded him vaguely of Beatrice, not
in temperament, but in her perfect grace and dignity. The house, its
furnishings, the manner in which dinner was served, were in immense
contrast to what he had met in the great places on Long Island, where
the servants were so obtrusive that they had positively to be bumped
out of the way, or even in the houses of more conservative "Union Club"
families. He wondered if this air of symmetrical restraint, this grace,
which he felt was continental, was distilled through Mrs. Lawrence's New
England ancestry or acquired in long residence in Italy and Spain.
Two glasses of sauterne at luncheon loosened his tongue, and he talked,
with what he felt was something of his old charm, of religion and
literature and the menacing phenomena of the social order. Mrs. Lawrence
was ostensibly pleased with him, and her interest was especially in his
mind; he wanted people to like his mind again--after a while it might be
such a nice place in which to live.
"Monsignor Darcy still thinks that you're his reincarnation, that your
faith will eventually clarify."
"Perhaps," he assented. "I'm rather pagan at present. It's just that
religion doesn't seem to have the slightest bearing on life at my age."
When he left her house he walked down Riverside Drive with a feeling
of satisfaction. It was amusing to discuss again such subjects as this
young poet, Stephen Vincent Benet, or the Irish Republic. Between
the rancid accusations of Edward Carson and Justice Cohalan he had
completely tired of the Irish question; yet there had been a time when
his own Celtic traits were pillars of his personal philosophy.
There seemed suddenly to be much left in life, if only this revival
of old interests did not mean that he was backing away from it
again--backing away from life itself.
"I'm tres old and tres bored, Tom," said Amory one day, stretching
himself at ease in the comfortable window-seat. He always felt most
natural in a recumbent position.
"You used to be entertaining before you started to write," he continued.
"Now you save any idea that you think would do to print."
Existence had settled back to an ambitionless normality. They had
decided that with economy they could still afford the apartment, which
Tom, with the domesticity of an elderly cat, had grown fond of. The old
English hunting prints on the wall were Tom's, and the large tapestry by
courtesy, a relic of decadent days in college, and the great profusion
of orphaned candlesticks and the carved Louis XV chair in which no one
could sit more than a minute without acute spinal disorders--Tom
claimed that this was because one was sitting in the lap of Montespan's
wraith--at any rate, it was Tom's furniture that decided them to stay.
They went out very little: to an occasional play, or to dinner at the
Ritz or the Princeton Club. With prohibition the great rendezvous had
received their death wounds; no longer could one wander to the Biltmore
bar at twelve or five and find congenial spirits, and both Tom and Amory
had outgrown the passion for dancing with mid-Western or New Jersey
debbies at the Club-de-Vingt (surnamed the "Club de Gink") or the Plaza
Rose Room--besides even that required several cocktails "to come down to
the intellectual level of the women present," as Amory had once put it
to a horrified matron.
Amory had lately received several alarming letters from Mr. Barton--the
Lake Geneva house was too large to be easily rented; the best rent
obtainable at present would serve this year to little more than pay for
the taxes and necessary improvements; in fact, the lawyer suggested
that the whole property was simply a white elephant on Amory's hands.
Nevertheless, even though it might not yield a cent for the next three
years, Amory decided with a vague sentimentality that for the present,
at any rate, he would not sell the house.
This particular day on which he announced his ennui to Tom had been
quite typical. He had risen at noon, lunched with Mrs. Lawrence, and
then ridden abstractedly homeward atop one of his beloved buses.
"Why shouldn't you be bored," yawned Tom. "Isn't that the conventional
frame of mind for the young man of your age and condition?"
"Yes," said Amory speculatively, "but I'm more than bored; I am
"Love and war did for you."
"Well," Amory considered, "I'm not sure that the war itself had any
great effect on either you or me--but it certainly ruined the old
backgrounds, sort of killed individualism out of our generation."
Tom looked up in surprise.
"Yes it did," insisted Amory. "I'm not sure it didn't kill it out of the
whole world. Oh, Lord, what a pleasure it used to be to dream I might be
a really great dictator or writer or religious or political leader--and
now even a Leonardo da Vinci or Lorenzo de Medici couldn't be a real
old-fashioned bolt in the world. Life is too huge and complex. The world
is so overgrown that it can't lift its own fingers, and I was planning
to be such an important finger--"
"I don't agree with you," Tom interrupted. "There never were men placed
in such egotistic positions since--oh, since the French Revolution."
Amory disagreed violently.
"You're mistaking this period when every nut is an individualist for
a period of individualism. Wilson has only been powerful when he has
represented; he's had to compromise over and over again. Just as soon
as Trotsky and Lenin take a definite, consistent stand they'll become
merely two-minute figures like Kerensky. Even Foch hasn't half
the significance of Stonewall Jackson. War used to be the most
individualistic pursuit of man, and yet the popular heroes of the war
had neither authority nor responsibility: Guynemer and Sergeant York.
How could a schoolboy make a hero of Pershing? A big man has no time
really to do anything but just sit and be big."
"Then you don't think there will be any more permanent world heroes?"
"Yes--in history--not in life. Carlyle would have difficulty getting
material for a new chapter on 'The Hero as a Big Man.'"
"Go on. I'm a good listener to-day."
"People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we
no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or
philosopher--a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than
the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand
prominence these days. It's the surest path to obscurity. People get
sick of hearing the same name over and over."
"Then you blame it on the press?"
"Absolutely. Look at you; you're on The New Democracy, considered the
most brilliant weekly in the country, read by the men who do things and
all that. What's your business? Why, to be as clever, as interesting,
and as brilliantly cynical as possible about every man, doctrine, book,
or policy that is assigned you to deal with. The more strong lights, the
more spiritual scandal you can throw on the matter, the more money they
pay you, the more the people buy the issue. You, Tom d'Invilliers, a
blighted Shelley, changing, shifting, clever, unscrupulous, represent
the critical consciousness of the race--Oh, don't protest, I know the
stuff. I used to write book reviews in college; I considered it rare
sport to refer to the latest honest, conscientious effort to propound a
theory or a remedy as a 'welcome addition to our light summer reading.'
Come on now, admit it."
Tom laughed, and Amory continued triumphantly.
"We "want" to believe. Young students try to believe in older authors,
constituents try to believe in their Congressmen, countries try to
believe in their statesmen, but they "can't". Too many voices, too much
scattered, illogical, ill-considered criticism. It's worse in the case
of newspapers. Any rich, unprogressive old party with that particularly
grasping, acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can
own a paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of
tired, hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern living to
swallow anything but predigested food. For two cents the voter buys
his politics, prejudices, and philosophy. A year later there is a new
political ring or a change in the paper's ownership, consequence: more
confusion, more contradiction, a sudden inrush of new ideas, their
tempering, their distillation, the reaction against them--"
He paused only to get his breath.
"And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my ideas
either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins on my soul
without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into people's heads; I might
cause a poor, inoffensive capitalist to have a vulgar liaison with
a bomb, or get some innocent little Bolshevik tangled up with a
Tom was growing restless under this lampooning of his connection with
The New Democracy.
"What's all this got to do with your being bored?"
Amory considered that it had much to do with it.
"How'll I fit in?" he demanded. "What am I for? To propagate the race?
According to the American novels we are led to believe that the 'healthy
American boy' from nineteen to twenty-five is an entirely sexless
animal. As a matter of fact, the healthier he is the less that's true.
The only alternative to letting it get you is some violent interest.
Well, the war is over; I believe too much in the responsibilities of
authorship to write just now; and business, well, business speaks for
itself. It has no connection with anything in the world that I've
ever been interested in, except a slim, utilitarian connection with
economics. What I'd see of it, lost in a clerkship, for the next and
best ten years of my life would have the intellectual content of an
"Try fiction," suggested Tom.
"Trouble is I get distracted when I start to write stories--get afraid
I'm doing it instead of living--get thinking maybe life is waiting for
me in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or at Atlantic City or on the
lower East Side.
"Anyway," he continued, "I haven't the vital urge. I wanted to be a
regular human being but the girl couldn't see it that way."
"You'll find another."
"God! Banish the thought. Why don't you tell me that 'if the girl had
been worth having she'd have waited for you'? No, sir, the girl really
worth having won't wait for anybody. If I thought there'd be another I'd
lose my remaining faith in human nature. Maybe I'll play--but Rosalind
was the only girl in the wide world that could have held me."
"Well," yawned Tom, "I've played confidant a good hour by the clock.
Still, I'm glad to see you're beginning to have violent views again on
"I am," agreed Amory reluctantly. "Yet when I see a happy family it
makes me sick at my stomach--"
"Happy families try to make people feel that way," said Tom cynically.
TOM THE CENSOR
There were days when Amory listened. These were when Tom, wreathed in
smoke, indulged in the slaughter of American literature. Words failed
"Fifty thousand dollars a year," he would cry. "My God! Look at them,
look at them--Edna Ferber, Gouverneur Morris, Fanny Hurst, Mary Roberts
Rinehart--not producing among 'em one story or novel that will last ten
years. This man Cobb--I don't tink he's either clever or amusing--and
what's more, I don't think very many people do, except the editors. He's
just groggy with advertising. And--oh Harold Bell Wright oh Zane Grey--"
"No, they don't even try. Some of them "can" write, but they won't sit
down and do one honest novel. Most of them "can't" write, I'll admit.
I believe Rupert Hughes tries to give a real, comprehensive picture of
American life, but his style and perspective are barbarous. Ernest Poole
and Dorothy Canfield try but they're hindered by their absolute lack
of any sense of humor; but at least they crowd their work instead of
spreading it thin. Every author ought to write every book as if he were
going to be beheaded the day he finished it."
"Is that double entente?"
"Don't slow me up! Now there's a few of 'em that seem to have some
cultural background, some intelligence and a good deal of literary
felicity but they just simply won't write honestly; they'd all claim
there was no public for good stuff. Then why the devil is it that Wells,
Conrad, Galsworthy, Shaw, Bennett, and the rest depend on America for
over half their sales?"
"How does little Tommy like the poets?"
Tom was overcome. He dropped his arms until they swung loosely beside
the chair and emitted faint grunts.
"I'm writing a satire on 'em now, calling it 'Boston Bards and Hearst
"Let's hear it," said Amory eagerly.
"I've only got the last few lines done."
"That's very modern. Let's hear 'em, if they're funny."
Tom produced a folded paper from his pocket and read aloud, pausing at
intervals so that Amory could see that it was free verse:
I place your names here
So that you may live
If only as names,
Sinuous, mauve-colored names,
In the Juvenalia
Of my collected editions."
"You win the iron pansy. I'll buy you a meal on the arrogance of the
last two lines."
Amory did not entirely agree with Tom's sweeping damnation of
American novelists and poets. He enjoyed both Vachel Lindsay and Booth
Tarkington, and admired the conscientious, if slender, artistry of Edgar
"What I hate is this idiotic drivel about 'I am God--I am man--I ride
the winds--I look through the smoke--I am the life sense.'"
"And I wish American novelists would give up trying to make business
romantically interesting. Nobody wants to read about it, unless it's
crooked business. If it was an entertaining subject they'd buy the life
of James J. Hill and not one of these long office tragedies that harp
along on the significance of smoke--"
"And gloom," said Tom. "That's another favorite, though I'll admit the
Russians have the monopoly. Our specialty is stories about little girls
who break their spines and get adopted by grouchy old men because they
smile so much. You'd think we were a race of cheerful cripples and that
the common end of the Russian peasant was suicide--"
"Six o'clock," said Amory, glancing at his wrist-watch. "I'll buy you
a grea' big dinner on the strength of the Juvenalia of your collected
July sweltered out with a last hot week, and Amory in another surge of
unrest realized that it was just five months since he and Rosalind had
met. Yet it was already hard for him to visualize the heart-whole boy
who had stepped off the transport, passionately desiring the adventure
of life. One night while the heat, overpowering and enervating, poured
into the windows of his room he struggled for several hours in a vague
effort to immortalize the poignancy of that time.
The February streets, wind-washed by night, blow full of strange
half-intermittent damps, bearing on wasted walks in shining sight
wet snow plashed into gleams under the lamps, like golden oil
from some divine machine, in an hour of thaw and stars.
Strange damps--full of the eyes of many men, crowded with life
borne in upon a lull.... Oh, I was young, for I could turn
again to you, most finite and most beautiful, and taste the stuff
of half-remembered dreams, sweet and new on your mouth.
... There was a tanging in the midnight air--silence was dead and
sound not yet awoken--Life cracked like ice!--one brilliant note
and there, radiant and pale, you stood... and spring had broken.
(The icicles were short upon the roofs and the changeling city
Our thoughts were frosty mist along the eaves; our two ghosts
kissed, high on the long, mazed wires--eerie half-laughter echoes
here and leaves only a fatuous sigh for young desires; regret has
followed after things she loved, leaving the great husk.
In mid-August came a letter from Monsignor Darcy, who had evidently just
stumbled on his address:
MY DEAR BOY:--
Your last letter was quite enough to make me worry about you. It was
not a bit like yourself. Reading between the lines I should imagine that
your engagement to this girl is making you rather unhappy, and I see you
have lost all the feeling of romance that you had before the war. You
make a great mistake if you think you can be romantic without religion.
Sometimes I think that with both of us the secret of success, when we
find it, is the mystical element in us: something flows into us that
enlarges our personalities, and when it ebbs out our personalities
shrink; I should call your last two letters rather shrivelled. Beware of
losing yourself in the personality of another being, man or woman.
His Eminence Cardinal O'Neill and the Bishop of Boston are staying with
me at present, so it is hard for me to get a moment to write, but I wish
you would come up here later if only for a week-end. I go to Washington
What I shall do in the future is hanging in the balance. Absolutely
between ourselves I should not be surprised to see the red hat of a
cardinal descend upon my unworthy head within the next eight months. In
any event, I should like to have a house in New York or Washington where
you could drop in for week-ends.
Amory, I'm very glad we're both alive; this war could easily have been
the end of a brilliant family. But in regard to matrimony, you are now
at the most dangerous period of your life. You might marry in haste and
repent at leisure, but I think you won't. From what you write me
about the present calamitous state of your finances, what you want is
naturally impossible. However, if I judge you by the means I usually
choose, I should say that there will be something of an emotional crisis
within the next year.
Do write me. I feel annoyingly out of date on you.
With greatest affection,
Within a week after the receipt of this letter their little household
fell precipitously to pieces. The immediate cause was the serious and
probably chronic illness of Tom's mother. So they stored the furniture,
gave instructions to sublet and shook hands gloomily in the Pennsylvania
Station. Amory and Tom seemed always to be saying good-by.
Feeling very much alone, Amory yielded to an impulse and set off
southward, intending to join Monsignor in Washington. They missed
connections by two hours, and, deciding to spend a few days with an
ancient, remembered uncle, Amory journeyed up through the luxuriant
fields of Maryland into Ramilly County. But instead of two days his stay
lasted from mid-August nearly through September, for in Maryland he met
CHAPTER 3. Young Irony
For years afterward when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still to
hear the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills into the
places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the slope and
watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost a further part
of him that nothing could restore; and when he lost it he lost also the
power of regretting it. Eleanor was, say, the last time that evil crept
close to Amory under the mask of beauty, the last weird mystery that
held him with wild fascination and pounded his soul to flakes.
With her his imagination ran riot and that is why they rode to the
highest hill and watched an evil moon ride high, for they knew then that
they could see the devil in each other. But Eleanor--did Amory dream
her? Afterward their ghosts played, yet both of them hoped from their
souls never to meet. Was it the infinite sadness of her eyes that drew
him or the mirror of himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of
her mind? She will have no other adventure like Amory, and if she reads
this she will say:
"And Amory will have no other adventure like me."
Nor will she sigh, any more than he would sigh.
Eleanor tried to put it on paper once:
"The fading things we only know
We'll have forgotten...
Desires that melted with the snow,
And dreams begotten
The sudden dawns we laughed to greet,
That all could see, that none could share,
Will be but dawns... and if we meet
We shall not care.
Dear... not one tear will rise for this...
A little while hence
Will stir for a remembered kiss--
Not even silence,
When we've met,
Will give old ghosts a waste to roam,
Or stir the surface of the sea...
If gray shapes drift beneath the foam
We shall not see."
They quarrelled dangerously because Amory maintained that "sea" and
"see" couldn't possibly be used as a rhyme. And then Eleanor had part of
another verse that she couldn't find a beginning for:
"... But wisdom passes... still the years
Will feed us wisdom.... Age will go
Back to the old--
For all our tears
We shall not know."
Eleanor hated Maryland passionately. She belonged to the oldest of the
old families of Ramilly County and lived in a big, gloomy house with her
grandfather. She had been born and brought up in France.... I see I am
starting wrong. Let me begin again.
Amory was bored, as he usually was in the country. He used to go for
far walks by himself--and wander along reciting "Ulalume" to the
corn-fields, and congratulating Poe for drinking himself to death in
that atmosphere of smiling complacency. One afternoon he had strolled
for several miles along a road that was new to him, and then through a
wood on bad advice from a colored woman... losing himself entirely. A
passing storm decided to break out, and to his great impatience the
sky grew black as pitch and the rain began to splatter down through the
trees, become suddenly furtive and ghostly. Thunder rolled with menacing
crashes up the valley and scattered through the woods in intermittent
batteries. He stumbled blindly on, hunting for a way out, and finally,
through webs of twisted branches, caught sight of a rift in the trees
where the unbroken lightning showed open country. He rushed to the edge
of the woods and then hesitated whether or not to cross the fields and
try to reach the shelter of the little house marked by a light far down
the valley. It was only half past five, but he could see scarcely ten
steps before him, except when the lightning made everything vivid and
grotesque for great sweeps around.
Suddenly a strange sound fell on his ears. It was a song, in a low,
husky voice, a girl's voice, and whoever was singing was very close
to him. A year before he might have laughed, or trembled; but in his
restless mood he only stood and listened while the words sank into his
"Les sanglots longs
Blessent mon coeur
The lightning split the sky, but the song went on without a quaver. The
girl was evidently in the field and the voice seemed to come vaguely
from a haystack about twenty feet in front of him.
Then it ceased: ceased and began again in a weird chant that soared and
hung and fell and blended with the rain:
Et bleme quand
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure...."
"Who the devil is there in Ramilly County," muttered Amory aloud, "who
would deliver Verlaine in an extemporaneous tune to a soaking haystack?"
"Somebody's there!" cried the voice unalarmed. "Who are you?--Manfred,
St. Christopher, or Queen Victoria?"
"I'm Don Juan!" Amory shouted on impulse, raising his voice above the
noise of the rain and the wind.
A delighted shriek came from the haystack.
"I know who you are--you're the blond boy that likes 'Ulalume'--I
recognize your voice."
"How do I get up?" he cried from the foot of the haystack, whither he
had arrived, dripping wet. A head appeared over the edge--it was so dark
that Amory could just make out a patch of damp hair and two eyes that
gleamed like a cat's.
"Run back!" came the voice, "and jump and I'll catch your hand--no, not
there--on the other side."
He followed directions and as he sprawled up the side, knee-deep in hay,
a small, white hand reached out, gripped his, and helped him onto the
"Here you are, Juan," cried she of the damp hair. "Do you mind if I drop
"You've got a thumb like mine!" he exclaimed.
"And you're holding my hand, which is dangerous without seeing my face."
He dropped it quickly.
As if in answer to his prayers came a flash of lightning and he looked
eagerly at her who stood beside him on the soggy haystack, ten feet
above the ground. But she had covered her face and he saw nothing but a
slender figure, dark, damp, bobbed hair, and the small white hands with
the thumbs that bent back like his.
"Sit down," she suggested politely, as the dark closed in on them. "If
you'll sit opposite me in this hollow you can have half of the raincoat,
which I was using as a water-proof tent until you so rudely interrupted
"I was asked," Amory said joyfully; "you asked me--you know you did."
"Don Juan always manages that," she said, laughing, "but I shan't call
you that any more, because you've got reddish hair. Instead you can
recite 'Ulalume' and I'll be Psyche, your soul."
Amory flushed, happily invisible under the curtain of wind and rain.
They were sitting opposite each other in a slight hollow in the hay with
the raincoat spread over most of them, and the rain doing for the rest.
Amory was trying desperately to see Psyche, but the lightning refused to
flash again, and he waited impatiently. Good Lord! supposing she wasn't
beautiful--supposing she was forty and pedantic--heavens! Suppose,
only suppose, she was mad. But he knew the last was unworthy. Here had
Providence sent a girl to amuse him just as it sent Benvenuto Cellini
men to murder, and he was wondering if she was mad, just because she
exactly filled his mood.
"I'm not," she said.
"Not mad. I didn't think you were mad when I first saw you, so it isn't
fair that you should think so of me."
"How on earth--"
As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be "on a
subject" and stop talking with the definite thought of it in their
heads, yet ten minutes later speak aloud and find that their minds had
followed the same channels and led them each to a parallel idea, an idea
that others would have found absolutely unconnected with the first.
"Tell me," he demanded, leaning forward eagerly, "how do you know about
'Ulalume'--how did you know the color of my hair? What's your name? What
were you doing here? Tell me all at once!"
Suddenly the lightning flashed in with a leap of overreaching light and
he saw Eleanor, and looked for the first time into those eyes of hers.
Oh, she was magnificent--pale skin, the color of marble in starlight,
slender brows, and eyes that glittered green as emeralds in the blinding
glare. She was a witch, of perhaps nineteen, he judged, alert and dreamy
and with the tell-tale white line over her upper lip that was a weakness
and a delight. He sank back with a gasp against the wall of hay.
"Now you've seen me," she said calmly, "and I suppose you're about to
say that my green eyes are burning into your brain."
"What color is your hair?" he asked intently. "It's bobbed, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's bobbed. I don't know what color it is," she answered, musing,
"so many men have asked me. It's medium, I suppose--No one ever looks
long at my hair. I've got beautiful eyes, though, haven't I. I don't
care what you say, I have beautiful eyes."
"Answer my question, Madeline."
"Don't remember them all--besides my name isn't Madeline, it's Eleanor."
"I might have guessed it. You "look" like Eleanor--you have that Eleanor
look. You know what I mean."
There was a silence as they listened to the rain.
"It's going down my neck, fellow lunatic," she offered finally.
"Answer my questions."
"Well--name of Savage, Eleanor; live in big old house mile down road;
nearest living relation to be notified, grandfather--Ramilly Savage;
height, five feet four inches; number on watch-case, 3077 W; nose,
delicate aquiline; temperament, uncanny--"
"And me," Amory interrupted, "where did you see me?"
"Oh, you're one of "those" men," she answered haughtily, "must lug
old self into conversation. Well, my boy, I was behind a hedge sunning
myself one day last week, and along comes a man saying in a pleasant,
conceited way of talking:
"'And now when the night was senescent'
'And the star dials pointed to morn
At the end of the path a liquescent'
'And nebulous lustre was born.'
"So I poked my eyes up over the hedge, but you had started to run, for
some unknown reason, and so I saw but the back of your beautiful head.
'Oh!' says I, 'there's a man for whom many of us might sigh,' and I
continued in my best Irish--"
"All right," Amory interrupted. "Now go back to yourself."
"Well, I will. I'm one of those people who go through the world giving
other people thrills, but getting few myself except those I read into
men on such nights as these. I have the social courage to go on the
stage, but not the energy; I haven't the patience to write books; and I
never met a man I'd marry. However, I'm only eighteen."
The storm was dying down softly and only the wind kept up its ghostly
surge and made the stack lean and gravely settle from side to side.
Amory was in a trance. He felt that every moment was precious. He had
never met a girl like this before--she would never seem quite the same
again. He didn't at all feel like a character in a play, the appropriate
feeling in an unconventional situation--instead, he had a sense of
"I have just made a great decision," said Eleanor after another pause,
"and that is why I'm here, to answer another of your questions. I have
just decided that I don't believe in immortality."
"Really! how banal!"
"Frightfully so," she answered, "but depressing with a stale, sickly
depression, nevertheless. I came out here to get wet--like a wet hen;
wet hens always have great clarity of mind," she concluded.
"Go on," Amory said politely.
"Well--I'm not afraid of the dark, so I put on my slicker and rubber
boots and came out. You see I was always afraid, before, to say I didn't
believe in God--because the lightning might strike me--but here I am and
it hasn't, of course, but the main point is that this time I wasn't any
more afraid of it than I had been when I was a Christian Scientist, like
I was last year. So now I know I'm a materialist and I was fraternizing
with the hay when you came out and stood by the woods, scared to death."
"Why, you little wretch--" cried Amory indignantly. "Scared of what?"
""Yourself!"" she shouted, and he jumped. She clapped her hands and
laughed. "See--see! Conscience--kill it like me! Eleanor Savage,
materiologist--no jumping, no starting, come early--"
"But I "have" to have a soul," he objected. "I can't be rational--and I
won't be molecular."
She leaned toward him, her burning eyes never leaving his own and
whispered with a sort of romantic finality:
"I thought so, Juan, I feared so--you're sentimental. You're not like
me. I'm a romantic little materialist."
"I'm not sentimental--I'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is
that the sentimental person thinks things will last--the romantic
person has a desperate confidence that they won't." (This was an ancient
distinction of Amory's.)
"Epigrams. I'm going home," she said sadly. "Let's get off the haystack
and walk to the cross-roads."
They slowly descended from their perch. She would not let him help her
down and motioning him away arrived in a graceful lump in the soft mud
where she sat for an instant, laughing at herself. Then she jumped to
her feet and slipped her hand into his, and they tiptoed across the
fields, jumping and swinging from dry spot to dry spot. A transcendent
delight seemed to sparkle in every pool of water, for the moon had risen
and the storm had scurried away into western Maryland. When Eleanor's
arm touched his he felt his hands grow cold with deadly fear lest he
should lose the shadow brush with which his imagination was painting
wonders of her. He watched her from the corners of his eyes as ever he
did when he walked with her--she was a feast and a folly and he wished
it had been his destiny to sit forever on a haystack and see life
through her green eyes. His paganism soared that night and when she
faded out like a gray ghost down the road, a deep singing came out
of the fields and filled his way homeward. All night the summer moths
flitted in and out of Amory's window; all night large looming sounds
swayed in mystic revery through the silver grain--and he lay awake in
the clear darkness.
Amory selected a blade of grass and nibbled at it scientifically.
"I never fall in love in August or September," he proffered.
"Christmas or Easter. I'm a liturgist."
"Easter!" She turned up her nose. "Huh! Spring in corsets!"
"Easter "would" bore spring, wouldn't she? Easter has her hair braided,
wears a tailored suit."
"Bind on thy sandals, oh, thou most fleet.
Over the splendor and speed of thy feet--"
quoted Eleanor softly, and then added: "I suppose Hallowe'en is a better
day for autumn than Thanksgiving."
"Much better--and Christmas eve does very well for winter, but
"Summer has no day," she said. "We can't possibly have a summer love. So
many people have tried that the name's become proverbial. Summer is
only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the
warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It's a sad season of life without
growth.... It has no day."
"Fourth of July," Amory suggested facetiously.
"Don't be funny!" she said, raking him with her eyes.
"Well, what could fulfil the promise of spring?"
She thought a moment.
"Oh, I suppose heaven would, if there was one," she said finally, "a
sort of pagan heaven--you ought to be a materialist," she continued
"Because you look a good deal like the pictures of Rupert Brooke."
To some extent Amory tried to play Rupert Brooke as long as he knew
Eleanor. What he said, his attitude toward life, toward her, toward
himself, were all reflexes of the dead Englishman's literary moods.
Often she sat in the grass, a lazy wind playing with her short hair,
her voice husky as she ran up and down the scale from Grantchester to
Waikiki. There was something most passionate in Eleanor's reading aloud.
They seemed nearer, not only mentally, but physically, when they read,
than when she was in his arms, and this was often, for they fell half
into love almost from the first. Yet was Amory capable of love now?
He could, as always, run through the emotions in a half hour, but even
while they revelled in their imaginations, he knew that neither of them
could care as he had cared once before--I suppose that was why they
turned to Brooke, and Swinburne, and Shelley. Their chance was to make
everything fine and finished and rich and imaginative; they must bend
tiny golden tentacles from his imagination to hers, that would take the
place of the great, deep love that was never so near, yet never so much
of a dream.
One poem they read over and over; Swinburne's "Triumph of Time," and
four lines of it rang in his memory afterward on warm nights when he saw
the fireflies among dusky tree trunks and heard the low drone of many
frogs. Then Eleanor seemed to come out of the night and stand by him,
and he heard her throaty voice, with its tone of a fleecy-headed drum,
"Is it worth a tear, is it worth an hour,
To think of things that are well outworn;
Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
The dream foregone and the deed foreborne?"
They were formally introduced two days later, and his aunt told him her
history. The Ramillys were two: old Mr. Ramilly and his granddaughter,
Eleanor. She had lived in France with a restless mother whom Amory
imagined to have been very like his own, on whose death she had come to
America, to live in Maryland. She had gone to Baltimore first to stay
with a bachelor uncle, and there she insisted on being a debutante at
the age of seventeen. She had a wild winter and arrived in the
country in March, having quarrelled frantically with all her Baltimore
relatives, and shocked them into fiery protest. A rather fast crowd
had come out, who drank cocktails in limousines and were promiscuously
condescending and patronizing toward older people, and Eleanor with an
esprit that hinted strongly of the boulevards, led many innocents
still redolent of St. Timothy's and Farmington, into paths of Bohemian
naughtiness. When the story came to her uncle, a forgetful cavalier of
a more hypocritical era, there was a scene, from which Eleanor emerged,
subdued but rebellious and indignant, to seek haven with her grandfather
who hovered in the country on the near side of senility. That's as far
as her story went; she told him the rest herself, but that was later.
Often they swam and as Amory floated lazily in the water he shut his
mind to all thoughts except those of hazy soap-bubble lands where the
sun splattered through wind-drunk trees. How could any one possibly
think or worry, or do anything except splash and dive and loll there
on the edge of time while the flower months failed. Let the days move
over--sadness and memory and pain recurred outside, and here, once more,
before he went on to meet them he wanted to drift and be young.
There were days when Amory resented that life had changed from an even
progress along a road stretching ever in sight, with the scenery merging
and blending, into a succession of quick, unrelated scenes--two years of
sweat and blood, that sudden absurd instinct for paternity that Rosalind
had stirred; the half-sensual, half-neurotic quality of this autumn with
Eleanor. He felt that it would take all time, more than he could ever
spare, to glue these strange cumbersome pictures into the scrap-book of
his life. It was all like a banquet where he sat for this half-hour of
his youth and tried to enjoy brilliant epicurean courses.
Dimly he promised himself a time where all should be welded together.
For months it seemed that he had alternated between being borne along a
stream of love or fascination, or left in an eddy, and in the eddies
he had not desired to think, rather to be picked up on a wave's top and
swept along again.
"The despairing, dying autumn and our love--how well they harmonize!"
said Eleanor sadly one day as they lay dripping by the water.
"The Indian summer of our hearts--" he ceased.
"Tell me," she said finally, "was she light or dark?"
"Was she more beautiful than I am?"
"I don't know," said Amory shortly.
One night they walked while the moon rose and poured a great burden of
glory over the garden until it seemed fairyland with Amory and Eleanor,
dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal beauty in curious elfin love
moods. Then they turned out of the moonlight into the trellised darkness
of a vine-hung pagoda, where there were scents so plaintive as to be
"Light a match," she whispered. "I want to see you."
The night and the scarred trees were like scenery in a play, and to be
there with Eleanor, shadowy and unreal, seemed somehow oddly familiar.
Amory thought how it was only the past that ever seemed strange and
unbelievable. The match went out.
"It's black as pitch."
"We're just voices now," murmured Eleanor, "little lonesome voices.
"That was my last match."
Suddenly he caught her in his arms.
"You "are" mine--you know you're mine!" he cried wildly... the moonlight
twisted in through the vines and listened... the fireflies hung upon
their whispers as if to win his glance from the glory of their eyes.
THE END OF SUMMER
"No wind is stirring in the grass; not one wind stirs... the water
in the hidden pools, as glass, fronts the full moon and so inters
the golden token in its icy mass," chanted Eleanor to the trees that
skeletoned the body of the night. "Isn't it ghostly here? If you can
hold your horse's feet up, let's cut through the woods and find the
"It's after one, and you'll get the devil," he objected, "and I don't
know enough about horses to put one away in the pitch dark."
"Shut up, you old fool," she whispered irrelevantly, and, leaning over,
she patted him lazily with her riding-crop. "You can leave your old plug
in our stable and I'll send him over to-morrow."
"But my uncle has got to drive me to the station with this old plug at
"Don't be a spoil-sport--remember, you have a tendency toward wavering
that prevents you from being the entire light of my life."
Amory drew his horse up close beside, and, leaning toward her, grasped
"Say I am--"quick", or I'll pull you over and make you ride behind me."
She looked up and smiled and shook her head excitedly.
"Oh, do!--or rather, don't! Why are all the exciting things so
uncomfortable, like fighting and exploring and ski-ing in Canada? By
the way, we're going to ride up Harper's Hill. I think that comes in our
programme about five o'clock."
"You little devil," Amory growled. "You're going to make me stay up all
night and sleep in the train like an immigrant all day to-morrow, going
back to New York."
"Hush! some one's coming along the road--let's go! Whoo-ee-oop!" And
with a shout that probably gave the belated traveller a series of
shivers, she turned her horse into the woods and Amory followed slowly,
as he had followed her all day for three weeks.
The summer was over, but he had spent the days in watching Eleanor, a
graceful, facile Manfred, build herself intellectual and imaginative
pyramids while she revelled in the artificialities of the temperamental
teens and they wrote poetry at the dinner-table.
When Vanity kissed Vanity, a hundred happy Junes ago, he
pondered o'er her breathlessly, and, that all men might ever
know, he rhymed her eyes with life and death:
"Thru Time I'll save my love!" he said... yet Beauty
vanished with his breath, and, with her lovers, she was dead...
--Ever his wit and not her eyes, ever his art and not her hair:
"Who'd learn a trick in rhyme, be wise and pause before his
sonnet there"... So all my words, however true, might sing
you to a thousandth June, and no one ever "know" that you were
Beauty for an afternoon.
So he wrote one day, when he pondered how coldly we thought of the "Dark
Lady of the Sonnets," and how little we remembered her as the great man
wanted her remembered. For what Shakespeare "must" have desired, to have
been able to write with such divine despair, was that the lady should
live... and now we have no real interest in her.... The irony of it is
that if he had cared "more" for the poem than for the lady the sonnet
would be only obvious, imitative rhetoric and no one would ever have
read it after twenty years....
This was the last night Amory ever saw Eleanor. He was leaving in the
morning and they had agreed to take a long farewell trot by the cold
moonlight. She wanted to talk, she said--perhaps the last time in her
life that she could be rational (she meant pose with comfort). So they
had turned into the woods and rode for half an hour with scarcely
a word, except when she whispered "Damn!" at a bothersome
branch--whispered it as no other girl was ever able to whisper it. Then
they started up Harper's Hill, walking their tired horses.
"Good Lord! It's quiet here!" whispered Eleanor; "much more lonesome
than the woods."
"I hate woods," Amory said, shuddering. "Any kind of foliage or
underbrush at night. Out here it's so broad and easy on the spirit."
"The long slope of a long hill."
"And the cold moon rolling moonlight down it."
"And thee and me, last and most important."
It was quiet that night--the straight road they followed up to the edge
of the cliff knew few footsteps at any time. Only an occasional negro
cabin, silver-gray in the rock-ribbed moonlight, broke the long line of
bare ground; behind lay the black edge of the woods like a dark frosting
on white cake, and ahead the sharp, high horizon. It was much colder--so
cold that it settled on them and drove all the warm nights from their
"The end of summer," said Eleanor softly. "Listen to the beat of our
horses' hoofs--'tump-tump-tump-a-tump.' Have you ever been feverish
and had all noises divide into 'tump-tump-tump' until you could swear
eternity was divisible into so many tumps? That's the way I feel--old
horses go tump-tump.... I guess that's the only thing that separates
horses and clocks from us. Human beings can't go 'tump-tump-tump'
without going crazy."
The breeze freshened and Eleanor pulled her cape around her and
"Are you very cold?" asked Amory.
"No, I'm thinking about myself--my black old inside self, the real one,
with the fundamental honesty that keeps me from being absolutely wicked
by making me realize my own sins."
They were riding up close by the cliff and Amory gazed over. Where the
fall met the ground a hundred feet below, a black stream made a sharp
line, broken by tiny glints in the swift water.
"Rotten, rotten old world," broke out Eleanor suddenly, "and the
wretchedest thing of all is me--oh, "why" am I a girl? Why am I not a
stupid--? Look at you; you're stupider than I am, not much, but some,
and you can lope about and get bored and then lope somewhere else,
and you can play around with girls without being involved in meshes of
sentiment, and you can do anything and be justified--and here am I with
the brains to do everything, yet tied to the sinking ship of future
matrimony. If I were born a hundred years from now, well and good, but
now what's in store for me--I have to marry, that goes without saying.
Who? I'm too bright for most men, and yet I have to descend to their
level and let them patronize my intellect in order to get their
attention. Every year that I don't marry I've got less chance for a
first-class man. At the best I can have my choice from one or two cities
and, of course, I have to marry into a dinner-coat.
"Listen," she leaned close again, "I like clever men and good-looking
men, and, of course, no one cares more for personality than I do. Oh,
just one person in fifty has any glimmer of what sex is. I'm hipped on
Freud and all that, but it's rotten that every bit of "real" love in
the world is ninety-nine per cent passion and one little soupcon of
jealousy." She finished as suddenly as she began.
"Of course, you're right," Amory agreed. "It's a rather unpleasant
overpowering force that's part of the machinery under everything. It's
like an actor that lets you see his mechanics! Wait a minute till I
think this out...."
He paused and tried to get a metaphor. They had turned the cliff and
were riding along the road about fifty feet to the left.
"You see every one's got to have some cloak to throw around it. The
mediocre intellects, Plato's second class, use the remnants of romantic
chivalry diluted with Victorian sentiment--and we who consider ourselves
the intellectuals cover it up by pretending that it's another side of
us, has nothing to do with our shining brains; we pretend that the fact
that we realize it is really absolving us from being a prey to it. But
the truth is that sex is right in the middle of our purest abstractions,
so close that it obscures vision.... I can kiss you now and will. ..."
He leaned toward her in his saddle, but she drew away.
"I can't--I can't kiss you now--I'm more sensitive."
"You're more stupid then," he declared rather impatiently. "Intellect is
no protection from sex any more than convention is..."
"What is?" she fired up. "The Catholic Church or the maxims of
Amory looked up, rather taken aback.
"That's your panacea, isn't it?" she cried. "Oh, you're just an old
hypocrite, too. Thousands of scowling priests keeping the degenerate
Italians and illiterate Irish repentant with gabble-gabble about the
sixth and ninth commandments. It's just all cloaks, sentiment and
spiritual rouge and panaceas. I'll tell you there is no God, not even
a definite abstract goodness; so it's all got to be worked out for the
individual by the individual here in high white foreheads like mine, and
you're too much the prig to admit it." She let go her reins and shook
her little fists at the stars.
"If there's a God let him strike me--strike me!"
"Talking about God again after the manner of atheists," Amory said
sharply. His materialism, always a thin cloak, was torn to shreds by
Eleanor's blasphemy.... She knew it and it angered him that she knew it.
"And like most intellectuals who don't find faith convenient," he
continued coldly, "like Napoleon and Oscar Wilde and the rest of your
type, you'll yell loudly for a priest on your death-bed."
Eleanor drew her horse up sharply and he reined in beside her.
"Will I?" she said in a queer voice that scared him. "Will I? Watch!
"I'm going over the cliff!"" And before he could interfere she had
turned and was riding breakneck for the end of the plateau.
He wheeled and started after her, his body like ice, his nerves in a
vast clangor. There was no chance of stopping her. The moon was under a
cloud and her horse would step blindly over. Then some ten feet from
the edge of the cliff she gave a sudden shriek and flung herself
sideways--plunged from her horse and, rolling over twice, landed in
a pile of brush five feet from the edge. The horse went over with a
frantic whinny. In a minute he was by Eleanor's side and saw that her
eyes were open.
"Eleanor!" he cried.
She did not answer, but her lips moved and her eyes filled with sudden
"Eleanor, are you hurt?"
"No; I don't think so," she said faintly, and then began weeping.
"My horse dead?"
"Oh!" she wailed. "I thought I was going over. I didn't know--"
He helped her gently to her feet and boosted her onto his saddle. So
they started homeward; Amory walking and she bent forward on the pommel,
"I've got a crazy streak," she faltered, "twice before I've done things
like that. When I was eleven mother went--went mad--stark raving crazy.
We were in Vienna--"
All the way back she talked haltingly about herself, and Amory's love
waned slowly with the moon. At her door they started from habit to kiss
good night, but she could not run into his arms, nor were they stretched
to meet her as in the week before. For a minute they stood there, hating
each other with a bitter sadness. But as Amory had loved himself in
Eleanor, so now what he hated was only a mirror. Their poses were strewn
about the pale dawn like broken glass. The stars were long gone and
there were left only the little sighing gusts of wind and the silences
between... but naked souls are poor things ever, and soon he turned
homeward and let new lights come in with the sun.
A POEM THAT ELEANOR SENT AMORY SEVERAL YEARS LATER
"Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water,
Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light,
Bosoming day as a laughing and radiant daughter...
Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night.
Walking alone... was it splendor, or what, we were bound with,
Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair?
Shadows we loved and the patterns they covered the ground with
Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.
That was the day... and the night for another story,
Pale as a dream and shadowed with pencilled trees--
Ghosts of the stars came by who had sought for glory,
Whispered to us of peace in the plaintive breeze,
Whispered of old dead faiths that the day had shattered,
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon;
That was the urge that we knew and the language that mattered
That was the debt that we paid to the usurer June.
Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not
Anything back of the past that we need not know,
What if the light is but sun and the little streams sing not,
We are together, it seems... I have loved you so...
What did the last night hold, with the summer over,
Drawing us back to the home in the changing glade?
"What leered out of the dark in the ghostly clover?"
God!... till you stirred in your sleep... and were wild
Well... we have passed... we are chronicle now to the eerie.
Curious metal from meteors that failed in the sky;
Earth-born the tireless is stretched by the water, quite weary,
Close to this ununderstandable changeling that's I...
Fear is an echo we traced to Security's daughter;
Now we are faces and voices... and less, too soon,
Whispering half-love over the lilt of the water...
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon."
A POEM AMORY SENT TO ELEANOR AND WHICH HE CALLED "SUMMER STORM"
"Faint winds, and a song fading and leaves falling,
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter...
And the rain and over the fields a voice calling...
Our gray blown cloud scurries and lifts above,
Slides on the sun and flutters there to waft her
Sisters on. The shadow of a dove
Falls on the cote, the trees are filled with wings;
And down the valley through the crying trees
The body of the darker storm flies; brings
With its new air the breath of sunken seas
And slender tenuous thunder...
But I wait...
Wait for the mists and for the blacker rain--
Heavier winds that stir the veil of fate,
Happier winds that pile her hair;
They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air
Upon me, winds that I know, and storm.
There was a summer every rain was rare;
There was a season every wind was warm....
And now you pass me in the mist... your hair
Rain-blown about you, damp lips curved once more
In that wild irony, that gay despair
That made you old when we have met before;
Wraith-like you drift on out before the rain,
Across the fields, blown with the stemless flowers,
With your old hopes, dead leaves and loves again--
Dim as a dream and wan with all old hours
(Whispers will creep into the growing dark...
Tumult will die over the trees)
Tears from her wetted breast the splattered blouse
Of day, glides down the dreaming hills, tear-bright,
To cover with her hair the eerie green...
Love for the dusk... Love for the glistening after;
Quiet the trees to their last tops... serene...
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter..."
CHAPTER 4. The Supercilious Sacrifice
Atlantic City. Amory paced the board walk at day's end, lulled by the
everlasting surge of changing waves, smelling the half-mournful odor of
the salt breeze. The sea, he thought, had treasured its memories deeper
than the faithless land. It seemed still to whisper of Norse galleys
ploughing the water world under raven-figured flags, of the British
dreadnoughts, gray bulwarks of civilization steaming up through the fog
of one dark July into the North Sea.
Amory looked down into the street below. A low racing car had drawn to a
stop and a familiar cheerful face protruded from the driver's seat.
"Come on down, goopher!" cried Alec.
Amory called a greeting and descending a flight of wooden steps
approached the car. He and Alec had been meeting intermittently, but the
barrier of Rosalind lay always between them. He was sorry for this; he
hated to lose Alec.
"Mr. Blaine, this is Miss Waterson, Miss Wayne, and Mr. Tully."
"How d'y do?"
"Amory," said Alec exuberantly, "if you'll jump in we'll take you to
some secluded nook and give you a wee jolt of Bourbon."
"That's an idea."
"Step in--move over, Jill, and Amory will smile very handsomely at you."
Amory squeezed into the back seat beside a gaudy, vermilion-lipped
"Hello, Doug Fairbanks," she said flippantly. "Walking for exercise or
hunting for company?"
"I was counting the waves," replied Amory gravely. "I'm going in for
"Don't kid me, Doug."
When they reached an unfrequented side street Alec stopped the car among
"What you doing down here these cold days, Amory?" he demanded, as he
produced a quart of Bourbon from under the fur rug.
Amory avoided the question. Indeed, he had had no definite reason for
coming to the coast.
"Do you remember that party of ours, sophomore year?" he asked instead.
"Do I? When we slept in the pavilions up in Asbury Park--"
"Lord, Alec! It's hard to think that Jesse and Dick and Kerry are all
"Don't talk about it. These dreary fall days depress me enough."
Jill seemed to agree.
"Doug here is sorta gloomy anyways," she commented. "Tell him to drink
deep--it's good and scarce these days."
"What I really want to ask you, Amory, is where you are--"
"Why, New York, I suppose--"
"I mean to-night, because if you haven't got a room yet you'd better
help me out."
"You see, Tully and I have two rooms with bath between at the Ranier,
and he's got to go back to New York. I don't want to have to move.
Question is, will you occupy one of the rooms?"
Amory was willing, if he could get in right away.
"You'll find the key in the office; the rooms are in my name."
Declining further locomotion or further stimulation, Amory left the car
and sauntered back along the board walk to the hotel.
He was in an eddy again, a deep, lethargic gulf, without desire to work
or write, love or dissipate. For the first time in his life he rather
longed for death to roll over his generation, obliterating their petty
fevers and struggles and exultations. His youth seemed never so vanished
as now in the contrast between the utter loneliness of this visit and
that riotous, joyful party of four years before. Things that had been
the merest commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of
beauty around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left
were filled only with the great listlessness of his disillusion.
"To hold a man a woman has to appeal to the worst in him." This sentence
was the thesis of most of his bad nights, of which he felt this was to
be one. His mind had already started to play variations on the subject.
Tireless passion, fierce jealousy, longing to possess and crush--these
alone were left of all his love for Rosalind; these remained to him as
payment for the loss of his youth--bitter calomel under the thin sugar
of love's exaltation.
In his room he undressed and wrapping himself in blankets to keep out
the chill October air drowsed in an armchair by the open window.
He remembered a poem he had read months before:
"Oh staunch old heart who toiled so long for me,
I waste my years sailing along the sea--"
Yet he had no sense of waste, no sense of the present hope that waste
implied. He felt that life had rejected him.
"Rosalind! Rosalind!" He poured the words softly into the half-darkness
until she seemed to permeate the room; the wet salt breeze filled
his hair with moisture, the rim of a moon seared the sky and made the
curtains dim and ghostly. He fell asleep.
When he awoke it was very late and quiet. The blanket had slipped partly
off his shoulders and he touched his skin to find it damp and cold.
Then he became aware of a tense whispering not ten feet away.
He became rigid.
"Don't make a sound!" It was Alec's voice. "Jill--do you hear me?"
"Yes--" breathed very low, very frightened. They were in the bathroom.
Then his ears caught a louder sound from somewhere along the corridor
outside. It was a mumbling of men's voices and a repeated muffled
rapping. Amory threw off the blankets and moved close to the bathroom
"My God!" came the girl's voice again. "You'll have to let them in."
Suddenly a steady, insistent knocking began at Amory's hall door
and simultaneously out of the bathroom came Alec, followed by the
vermilion-lipped girl. They were both clad in pajamas.
"Amory!" an anxious whisper.
"What's the trouble?"
"It's house detectives. My God, Amory--they're just looking for a
"Well, better let them in."
"You don't understand. They can get me under the Mann Act."
The girl followed him slowly, a rather miserable, pathetic figure in the
Amory tried to plan quickly.
"You make a racket and let them in your room," he suggested anxiously,
"and I'll get her out by this door."
"They're here too, though. They'll watch this door."
"Can't you give a wrong name?"
"No chance. I registered under my own name; besides, they'd trail the
auto license number."
"Say you're married."
"Jill says one of the house detectives knows her."
The girl had stolen to the bed and tumbled upon it; lay there listening
wretchedly to the knocking which had grown gradually to a pounding. Then
came a man's voice, angry and imperative:
"Open up or we'll break the door in!"
In the silence when this voice ceased Amory realized that there were
other things in the room besides people... over and around the figure
crouched on the bed there hung an aura, gossamer as a moonbeam, tainted
as stale, weak wine, yet a horror, diffusively brooding already over
the three of them... and over by the window among the stirring curtains
stood something else, featureless and indistinguishable, yet strangely
familiar.... Simultaneously two great cases presented themselves side by
side to Amory; all that took place in his mind, then, occupied in actual
time less than ten seconds.
The first fact that flashed radiantly on his comprehension was the great
impersonality of sacrifice--he perceived that what we call love and
hate, reward and punishment, had no more to do with it than the date
of the month. He quickly recapitulated the story of a sacrifice he had
heard of in college: a man had cheated in an examination; his roommate
in a gust of sentiment had taken the entire blame--due to the shame
of it the innocent one's entire future seemed shrouded in regret and
failure, capped by the ingratitude of the real culprit. He had finally
taken his own life--years afterward the facts had come out. At the time
the story had both puzzled and worried Amory. Now he realized the truth;
that sacrifice was no purchase of freedom. It was like a great elective
office, it was like an inheritance of power--to certain people at
certain times an essential luxury, carrying with it not a guarantee but
a responsibility, not a security but an infinite risk. Its very momentum
might drag him down to ruin--the passing of the emotional wave that made
it possible might leave the one who made it high and dry forever on an
island of despair.
... Amory knew that afterward Alec would secretly hate him for having
done so much for him....
... All this was flung before Amory like an opened scroll, while
ulterior to him and speculating upon him were those two breathless,
listening forces: the gossamer aura that hung over and about the girl
and that familiar thing by the window.
Sacrifice by its very nature was arrogant and impersonal; sacrifice
should be eternally supercilious.
"Weep not for me but for thy children."
That--thought Amory--would be somehow the way God would talk to me.
Amory felt a sudden surge of joy and then like a face in a
motion-picture the aura over the bed faded out; the dynamic shadow
by the window, that was as near as he could name it, remained for the
fraction of a moment and then the breeze seemed to lift it swiftly out
of the room. He clinched his hands in quick ecstatic excitement... the
ten seconds were up....
"Do what I say, Alec--do what I say. Do you understand?"
Alec looked at him dumbly--his face a tableau of anguish.
"You have a family," continued Amory slowly. "You have a family and it's
important that you should get out of this. Do you hear me?" He repeated
clearly what he had said. "Do you hear me?"
"I hear you." The voice was curiously strained, the eyes never for a
second left Amory's.
"Alec, you're going to lie down here. If any one comes in you act drunk.
You do what I say--if you don't I'll probably kill you."
There was another moment while they stared at each other. Then Amory
went briskly to the bureau and, taking his pocket-book, beckoned
peremptorily to the girl. He heard one word from Alec that sounded like
"penitentiary," then he and Jill were in the bathroom with the door
bolted behind them.
"You're here with me," he said sternly. "You've been with me all
She nodded, gave a little half cry.
In a second he had the door of the other room open and three men
entered. There was an immediate flood of electric light and he stood
"You've been playing a little too dangerous a game, young man!"
The leader of the trio nodded authoritatively at a burly man in a check
"All right, Olson."
"I got you, Mr. O'May," said Olson, nodding. The other two took a
curious glance at their quarry and then withdrew, closing the door
angrily behind them.
The burly man regarded Amory contemptuously.
"Didn't you ever hear of the Mann Act? Coming down here with her," he
indicated the girl with his thumb, "with a New York license on your
car--to a hotel like "this"." He shook his head implying that he had
struggled over Amory but now gave him up.
"Well," said Amory rather impatiently, "what do you want us to do?"
"Get dressed, quick--and tell your friend not to make such a racket."
Jill was sobbing noisily on the bed, but at these words she subsided
sulkily and, gathering up her clothes, retired to the bathroom. As Amory
slipped into Alec's B. V. D.'s he found that his attitude toward the
situation was agreeably humorous. The aggrieved virtue of the burly man
made him want to laugh.
"Anybody else here?" demanded Olson, trying to look keen and
"Fellow who had the rooms," said Amory carelessly. "He's drunk as an
owl, though. Been in there asleep since six o'clock."
"I'll take a look at him presently."
"How did you find out?" asked Amory curiously.
"Night clerk saw you go up-stairs with this woman."
Amory nodded; Jill reappeared from the bathroom, completely if rather
"Now then," began Olson, producing a note-book, "I want your real
names--no damn John Smith or Mary Brown."
"Wait a minute," said Amory quietly. "Just drop that big-bully stuff. We
merely got caught, that's all."
Olson glared at him.
"Name?" he snapped.
Amory gave his name and New York address.
"And the lady?"
"Say," cried Olson indignantly, "just ease up on the nursery rhymes.
What's your name? Sarah Murphy? Minnie Jackson?"
"Oh, my God!" cried the girl cupping her tear-stained face in her hands.
"I don't want my mother to know. I don't want my mother to know."
"Come on now!"
"Shut up!" cried Amory at Olson.
An instant's pause.
"Stella Robbins," she faltered finally. "General Delivery, Rugway, New
Olson snapped his note-book shut and looked at them very ponderously.
"By rights the hotel could turn the evidence over to the police and
you'd go to penitentiary, you would, for bringin' a girl from one State
to 'nother f'r immoral purp'ses--" He paused to let the majesty of his
words sink in. "But--the hotel is going to let you off."
"It doesn't want to get in the papers," cried Jill fiercely. "Let us
A great lightness surrounded Amory. He realized that he was safe and
only then did he appreciate the full enormity of what he might have
"However," continued Olson, "there's a protective association among the
hotels. There's been too much of this stuff, and we got a 'rangement
with the newspapers so that you get a little free publicity. Not the
name of the hotel, but just a line sayin' that you had a little trouble
in 'lantic City. See?"
"You're gettin' off light--damn light--but--"
"Come on," said Amory briskly. "Let's get out of here. We don't need a
Olson walked through the bathroom and took a cursory glance at Alec's
still form. Then he extinguished the lights and motioned them to follow
him. As they walked into the elevator Amory considered a piece of
bravado--yielded finally. He reached out and tapped Olson on the arm.
"Would you mind taking off your hat? There's a lady in the elevator."
Olson's hat came off slowly. There was a rather embarrassing two minutes
under the lights of the lobby while the night clerk and a few belated
guests stared at them curiously; the loudly dressed girl with bent head,
the handsome young man with his chin several points aloft; the inference
was quite obvious. Then the chill outdoors--where the salt air was
fresher and keener still with the first hints of morning.
"You can get one of those taxis and beat it," said Olson, pointing to
the blurred outline of two machines whose drivers were presumably asleep
"Good-by," said Olson. He reached in his pocket suggestively, but Amory
snorted, and, taking the girl's arm, turned away.
"Where did you tell the driver to go?" she asked as they whirled along
the dim street.
"If that guy writes my mother--"
"He won't. Nobody'll ever know about this--except our friends and
Dawn was breaking over the sea.
"It's getting blue," she said.
"It does very well," agreed Amory critically, and then as an
after-thought: "It's almost breakfast-time--do you want something to
"Food--" she said with a cheerful laugh. "Food is what queered the
party. We ordered a big supper to be sent up to the room about two
o'clock. Alec didn't give the waiter a tip, so I guess the little
Jill's low spirits seemed to have gone faster than the scattering night.
"Let me tell you," she said emphatically, "when you want to stage that
sorta party stay away from liquor, and when you want to get tight stay
away from bedrooms."
He tapped suddenly at the glass and they drew up at the door of an
"Is Alec a great friend of yours?" asked Jill as they perched themselves
on high stools inside, and set their elbows on the dingy counter.
"He used to be. He probably won't want to be any more--and never
"It was sorta crazy you takin' all that blame. Is he pretty important?
Kinda more important than you are?"
"That remains to be seen," he answered. "That's the question."
THE COLLAPSE OF SEVERAL PILLARS
Two days later back in New York Amory found in a newspaper what he
had been searching for--a dozen lines which announced to whom it might
concern that Mr. Amory Blaine, who "gave his address" as, etc., had been
requested to leave his hotel in Atlantic City because of entertaining in
his room a lady "not" his wife.
Then he started, and his fingers trembled, for directly above was a
longer paragraph of which the first words were:
"Mr. and Mrs. Leland R. Connage are announcing the engagement of their
daughter, Rosalind, to Mr. J. Dawson Ryder, of Hartford, Connecticut--"
He dropped the paper and lay down on his bed with a frightened, sinking
sensation in the pit of his stomach. She was gone, definitely, finally
gone. Until now he had half unconsciously cherished the hope deep in his
heart that some day she would need him and send for him, cry that it had
been a mistake, that her heart ached only for the pain she had caused
him. Never again could he find even the sombre luxury of wanting
her--not this Rosalind, harder, older--nor any beaten, broken woman that
his imagination brought to the door of his forties--Amory had wanted her
youth, the fresh radiance of her mind and body, the stuff that she was
selling now once and for all. So far as he was concerned, young Rosalind
A day later came a crisp, terse letter from Mr. Barton in Chicago, which
informed him that as three more street-car companies had gone into
the hands of receivers he could expect for the present no further
remittances. Last of all, on a dazed Sunday night, a telegram told him
of Monsignor Darcy's sudden death in Philadelphia five days before.
He knew then what it was that he had perceived among the curtains of the
room in Atlantic City.
CHAPTER 5. The Egotist Becomes a Personage
"A fathom deep in sleep I lie
With old desires, restrained before,
To clamor lifeward with a cry,
As dark flies out the greying door;
And so in quest of creeds to share
I seek assertive day again...
But old monotony is there:
Endless avenues of rain.
Oh, might I rise again! Might I
Throw off the heat of that old wine,
See the new morning mass the sky
With fairy towers, line on line;
Find each mirage in the high air
A symbol, not a dream again...
But old monotony is there:
Endless avenues of rain."
Under the glass portcullis of a theatre Amory stood, watching the first
great drops of rain splatter down and flatten to dark stains on the
sidewalk. The air became gray and opalescent; a solitary light suddenly
outlined a window over the way; then another light; then a hundred more
danced and glimmered into vision. Under his feet a thick, iron-studded
skylight turned yellow; in the street the lamps of the taxi-cabs sent
out glistening sheens along the already black pavement. The unwelcome
November rain had perversely stolen the day's last hour and pawned it
with that ancient fence, the night.
The silence of the theatre behind him ended with a curious snapping
sound, followed by the heavy roaring of a rising crowd and the
interlaced clatter of many voices. The matinee was over.
He stood aside, edged a little into the rain to let the throng pass. A
small boy rushed out, sniffed in the damp, fresh air and turned up the
collar of his coat; came three or four couples in a great hurry; came
a further scattering of people whose eyes as they emerged glanced
invariably, first at the wet street, then at the rain-filled air,
finally at the dismal sky; last a dense, strolling mass that depressed
him with its heavy odor compounded of the tobacco smell of the men and
the fetid sensuousness of stale powder on women. After the thick crowd
came another scattering; a stray half-dozen; a man on crutches; finally
the rattling bang of folding seats inside announced that the ushers were
New York seemed not so much awakening as turning over in its bed. Pallid
men rushed by, pinching together their coat-collars; a great swarm of
tired, magpie girls from a department-store crowded along with shrieks
of strident laughter, three to an umbrella; a squad of marching
policemen passed, already miraculously protected by oilskin capes.
The rain gave Amory a feeling of detachment, and the numerous unpleasant
aspects of city life without money occurred to him in threatening
procession. There was the ghastly, stinking crush of the subway--the car
cards thrusting themselves at one, leering out like dull bores who grab
your arm with another story; the querulous worry as to whether some one
isn't leaning on you; a man deciding not to give his seat to a woman,
hating her for it; the woman hating him for not doing it; at worst a
squalid phantasmagoria of breath, and old cloth on human bodies and the
smells of the food men ate--at best just people--too hot or too cold,
He pictured the rooms where these people lived--where the patterns of
the blistered wall-papers were heavy reiterated sunflowers on green and
yellow backgrounds, where there were tin bathtubs and gloomy hallways
and verdureless, unnamable spaces in back of the buildings; where even
love dressed as seduction--a sordid murder around the corner, illicit
motherhood in the flat above. And always there was the economical
stuffiness of indoor winter, and the long summers, nightmares of
perspiration between sticky enveloping walls... dirty restaurants where
careless, tired people helped themselves to sugar with their own used
coffee-spoons, leaving hard brown deposits in the bowl.
It was not so bad where there were only men or else only women; it was
when they were vilely herded that it all seemed so rotten. It was some
shame that women gave off at having men see them tired and poor--it
was some disgust that men had for women who were tired and poor. It was
dirtier than any battle-field he had seen, harder to contemplate than
any actual hardship moulded of mire and sweat and danger, it was an
atmosphere wherein birth and marriage and death were loathsome, secret
He remembered one day in the subway when a delivery boy had brought in a
great funeral wreath of fresh flowers, how the smell of it had suddenly
cleared the air and given every one in the car a momentary glow.
"I detest poor people," thought Amory suddenly. "I hate them for being
poor. Poverty may have been beautiful once, but it's rotten now. It's
the ugliest thing in the world. It's essentially cleaner to be corrupt
and rich than it is to be innocent and poor." He seemed to see again a
figure whose significance had once impressed him--a well-dressed young
man gazing from a club window on Fifth Avenue and saying something to
his companion with a look of utter disgust. Probably, thought Amory,
what he said was: "My God! Aren't people horrible!"
Never before in his life had Amory considered poor people. He thought
cynically how completely he was lacking in all human sympathy. O. Henry
had found in these people romance, pathos, love, hate--Amory saw only
coarseness, physical filth, and stupidity. He made no self-accusations:
never any more did he reproach himself for feelings that were
natural and sincere. He accepted all his reactions as a part of him,
unchangeable, unmoral. This problem of poverty transformed, magnified,
attached to some grander, more dignified attitude might some day even be
his problem; at present it roused only his profound distaste.
He walked over to Fifth Avenue, dodging the blind, black menace of
umbrellas, and standing in front of Delmonico's hailed an auto-bus.
Buttoning his coat closely around him he climbed to the roof, where he
rode in solitary state through the thin, persistent rain, stung
into alertness by the cool moisture perpetually reborn on his cheek.
Somewhere in his mind a conversation began, rather resumed its place
in his attention. It was composed not of two voices, but of one, which
acted alike as questioner and answerer:
Question.--Well--what's the situation?
Answer.--That I have about twenty-four dollars to my name.
Q.--You have the Lake Geneva estate.
A.--But I intend to keep it.
Q.--Can you live?
A.--I can't imagine not being able to. People make money in books and
I've found that I can always do the things that people do in books.
Really they are the only things I can do.
A.--I don't know what I'll do--nor have I much curiosity. To-morrow I'm
going to leave New York for good. It's a bad town unless you're on top
Q.--Do you want a lot of money?
A.--No. I am merely afraid of being poor.
A.--Just passively afraid.
Q.--Where are you drifting?
A.--Don't ask "me!"
Q.--Don't you care?
A.--Rather. I don't want to commit moral suicide.
Q.--Have you no interests left?
A.--None. I've no more virtue to lose. Just as a cooling pot gives
off heat, so all through youth and adolescence we give off calories of
virtue. That's what's called ingenuousness.
Q.--An interesting idea.
A.--That's why a "good man going wrong" attracts people. They stand
around and literally "warm themselves" at the calories of virtue he
gives off. Sarah makes an unsophisticated remark and the faces simper in
delight--"How "innocent" the poor child is!" They're warming themselves
at her virtue. But Sarah sees the simper and never makes that remark
again. Only she feels a little colder after that.
Q.--All your calories gone?
A.--All of them. I'm beginning to warm myself at other people's virtue.
Q.--Are you corrupt?
A.--I think so. I'm not sure. I'm not sure about good and evil at all
Q.--Is that a bad sign in itself?
Q.--What would be the test of corruption?
A.--Becoming really insincere--calling myself "not such a bad fellow,"
thinking I regretted my lost youth when I only envy the delights of
losing it. Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists
think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they
ate the candy. They don't. They just want the fun of eating it all over
again. The matron doesn't want to repeat her girlhood--she wants to
repeat her honeymoon. I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the
pleasure of losing it again.
Q.--Where are you drifting?
This dialogue merged grotesquely into his mind's most familiar state--a
grotesque blending of desires, worries, exterior impressions and
One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Street--or One Hundred and Thirty-seventh
Street.... Two and three look alike--no, not much. Seat damp... are
clothes absorbing wetness from seat, or seat absorbing dryness from
clothes?... Sitting on wet substance gave appendicitis, so Froggy
Parker's mother said. Well, he'd had it--I'll sue the steamboat company,
Beatrice said, and my uncle has a quarter interest--did Beatrice go to
heaven?... probably not--He represented Beatrice's immortality, also
love-affairs of numerous dead men who surely had never thought of
him... if it wasn't appendicitis, influenza maybe. What? One Hundred
and Twentieth Street? That must have been One Hundred and Twelfth back
there. One O Two instead of One Two Seven. Rosalind not like Beatrice,
Eleanor like Beatrice, only wilder and brainier. Apartments along here
expensive--probably hundred and fifty a month--maybe two hundred. Uncle
had only paid hundred a month for whole great big house in Minneapolis.
Question--were the stairs on the left or right as you came in? Anyway,
in 12 Univee they were straight back and to the left. What a dirty
river--want to go down there and see if it's dirty--French rivers all
brown or black, so were Southern rivers. Twenty-four dollars meant four
hundred and eighty doughnuts. He could live on it three months and sleep
in the park. Wonder where Jill was--Jill Bayne, Fayne, Sayne--what the
devil--neck hurts, darned uncomfortable seat. No desire to sleep with
Jill, what could Alec see in her? Alec had a coarse taste in women. Own
taste the best; Isabelle, Clara, Rosalind, Eleanor, were all-American.
Eleanor would pitch, probably southpaw. Rosalind was outfield, wonderful
hitter, Clara first base, maybe. Wonder what Humbird's body looked like
now. If he himself hadn't been bayonet instructor he'd have gone up
to line three months sooner, probably been killed. Where's the darned
The street numbers of Riverside Drive were obscured by the mist and
dripping trees from anything but the swiftest scrutiny, but Amory had
finally caught sight of one--One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Street. He
got off and with no distinct destination followed a winding, descending
sidewalk and came out facing the river, in particular a long pier and
a partitioned litter of shipyards for miniature craft: small launches,
canoes, rowboats, and catboats. He turned northward and followed the
shore, jumped a small wire fence and found himself in a great disorderly
yard adjoining a dock. The hulls of many boats in various stages of
repair were around him; he smelled sawdust and paint and the scarcely
distinguishable fiat odor of the Hudson. A man approached through the
"Hello," said Amory.
"Got a pass?"
"No. Is this private?"
"This is the Hudson River Sporting and Yacht Club."
"Oh! I didn't know. I'm just resting."
"Well--" began the man dubiously.
"I'll go if you want me to."
The man made non-committal noises in his throat and passed on. Amory
seated himself on an overturned boat and leaned forward thoughtfully
until his chin rested in his hand.
"Misfortune is liable to make me a damn bad man," he said slowly.
IN THE DROOPING HOURS
While the rain drizzled on Amory looked futilely back at the stream of
his life, all its glitterings and dirty shallows. To begin with, he was
still afraid--not physically afraid any more, but afraid of people and
prejudice and misery and monotony. Yet, deep in his bitter heart, he
wondered if he was after all worse than this man or the next. He knew
that he could sophisticate himself finally into saying that his own
weakness was just the result of circumstances and environment; that
often when he raged at himself as an egotist something would whisper
ingratiatingly: "No. Genius!" That was one manifestation of fear, that
voice which whispered that he could not be both great and good, that
genius was the exact combination of those inexplicable grooves and
twists in his mind, that any discipline would curb it to mediocrity.
Probably more than any concrete vice or failing Amory despised his own
personality--he loathed knowing that to-morrow and the thousand days
after he would swell pompously at a compliment and sulk at an ill word
like a third-rate musician or a first-class actor. He was ashamed of the
fact that very simple and honest people usually distrusted him; that
he had been cruel, often, to those who had sunk their personalities in
him--several girls, and a man here and there through college, that he
had been an evil influence on; people who had followed him here and
there into mental adventures from which he alone rebounded unscathed.
Usually, on nights like this, for there had been many lately, he could
escape from this consuming introspection by thinking of children and the
infinite possibilities of children--he leaned and listened and he heard
a startled baby awake in a house across the street and lend a tiny
whimper to the still night. Quick as a flash he turned away, wondering
with a touch of panic whether something in the brooding despair of his
mood had made a darkness in its tiny soul. He shivered. What if some
day the balance was overturned, and he became a thing that frightened
children and crept into rooms in the dark, approached dim communion with
those phantoms who whispered shadowy secrets to the mad of that dark
continent upon the moon....
Amory smiled a bit.
"You're too much wrapped up in yourself," he heard some one say. And
"Get out and do some real work--"
He fancied a possible future comment of his own.
"Yes--I was perhaps an egotist in youth, but I soon found it made me
morbid to think too much about myself."
Suddenly he felt an overwhelming desire to let himself go to the
devil--not to go violently as a gentleman should, but to sink safely
and sensuously out of sight. He pictured himself in an adobe house in
Mexico, half-reclining on a rug-covered couch, his slender, artistic
fingers closed on a cigarette while he listened to guitars strumming
melancholy undertones to an age-old dirge of Castile and an
olive-skinned, carmine-lipped girl caressed his hair. Here he might live
a strange litany, delivered from right and wrong and from the hound of
heaven and from every God (except the exotic Mexican one who was pretty
slack himself and rather addicted to Oriental scents)--delivered from
success and hope and poverty into that long chute of indulgence which
led, after all, only to the artificial lake of death.
There were so many places where one might deteriorate pleasantly: Port
Said, Shanghai, parts of Turkestan, Constantinople, the South Seas--all
lands of sad, haunting music and many odors, where lust could be a mode
and expression of life, where the shades of night skies and sunsets
would seem to reflect only moods of passion: the colors of lips and
Once he had been miraculously able to scent evil as a horse detects a
broken bridge at night, but the man with the queer feet in Phoebe's
room had diminished to the aura over Jill. His instinct perceived the
fetidness of poverty, but no longer ferreted out the deeper evils in
pride and sensuality.
There were no more wise men; there were no more heroes; Burne Holiday
was sunk from sight as though he had never lived; Monsignor was dead.
Amory had grown up to a thousand books, a thousand lies; he had listened
eagerly to people who pretended to know, who knew nothing. The mystical
reveries of saints that had once filled him with awe in the still hours
of night, now vaguely repelled him. The Byrons and Brookes who had
defied life from mountain tops were in the end but flaneurs and poseurs,
at best mistaking the shadow of courage for the substance of wisdom.
The pageantry of his disillusion took shape in a world-old procession
of Prophets, Athenians, Martyrs, Saints, Scientists, Don Juans, Jesuits,
Puritans, Fausts, Poets, Pacifists; like costumed alumni at a college
reunion they streamed before him as their dreams, personalities, and
creeds had in turn thrown colored lights on his soul; each had tried to
express the glory of life and the tremendous significance of man; each
had boasted of synchronizing what had gone before into his own rickety
generalities; each had depended after all on the set stage and the
convention of the theatre, which is that man in his hunger for faith
will feed his mind with the nearest and most convenient food.
Women--of whom he had expected so much; whose beauty he had hoped to
transmute into modes of art; whose unfathomable instincts, marvellously
incoherent and inarticulate, he had thought to perpetuate in terms of
experience--had become merely consecrations to their own posterity.
Isabelle, Clara, Rosalind, Eleanor, were all removed by their
very beauty, around which men had swarmed, from the possibility of
contributing anything but a sick heart and a page of puzzled words to
Amory based his loss of faith in help from others on several sweeping
syllogisms. Granted that his generation, however bruised and decimated
from this Victorian war, were the heirs of progress. Waving aside petty
differences of conclusions which, although they might occasionally
cause the deaths of several millions of young men, might be explained
away--supposing that after all Bernard Shaw and Bernhardi, Bonar Law
and Bethmann-Hollweg were mutual heirs of progress if only in agreeing
against the ducking of witches--waiving the antitheses and approaching
individually these men who seemed to be the leaders, he was repelled by
the discrepancies and contradictions in the men themselves.
There was, for example, Thornton Hancock, respected by half the
intellectual world as an authority on life, a man who had verified and
believed the code he lived by, an educator of educators, an adviser to
Presidents--yet Amory knew that this man had, in his heart, leaned on
the priest of another religion.
And Monsignor, upon whom a cardinal rested, had moments of strange and
horrible insecurity--inexplicable in a religion that explained even
disbelief in terms of its own faith: if you doubted the devil it was the
devil that made you doubt him. Amory had seen Monsignor go to the houses
of stolid philistines, read popular novels furiously, saturate himself
in routine, to escape from that horror.
And this priest, a little wiser, somewhat purer, had been, Amory knew,
not essentially older than he.
Amory was alone--he had escaped from a small enclosure into a great
labyrinth. He was where Goethe was when he began "Faust"; he was where
Conrad was when he wrote "Almayer's Folly."
Amory said to himself that there were essentially two sorts of people
who through natural clarity or disillusion left the enclosure and
sought the labyrinth. There were men like Wells and Plato, who had,
half unconsciously, a strange, hidden orthodoxy, who would accept
for themselves only what could be accepted for all men--incurable
romanticists who never, for all their efforts, could enter the labyrinth
as stark souls; there were on the other hand sword-like pioneering
personalities, Samuel Butler, Renan, Voltaire, who progressed much
slower, yet eventually much further, not in the direct pessimistic line
of speculative philosophy but concerned in the eternal attempt to attach
a positive value to life....
Amory stopped. He began for the first time in his life to have a strong
distrust of all generalities and epigrams. They were too easy, too
dangerous to the public mind. Yet all thought usually reached the
public after thirty years in some such form: Benson and Chesterton had
popularized Huysmans and Newman; Shaw had sugar-coated Nietzsche and
Ibsen and Schopenhauer. The man in the street heard the conclusions
of dead genius through some one else's clever paradoxes and didactic
Life was a damned muddle... a football game with every one off-side and
the referee gotten rid of--every one claiming the referee would have
been on his side....
Progress was a labyrinth... people plunging blindly in and then rushing
wildly back, shouting that they had found it... the invisible king--the
elan vital--the principle of evolution... writing a book, starting a
war, founding a school....
Amory, even had he not been a selfish man, would have started all
inquiries with himself. He was his own best example--sitting in the
rain, a human creature of sex and pride, foiled by chance and his own
temperament of the balm of love and children, preserved to help in
building up the living consciousness of the race.
In self-reproach and loneliness and disillusion he came to the entrance
of the labyrinth.
Another dawn flung itself across the river, a belated taxi hurried along
the street, its lamps still shining like burning eyes in a face white
from a night's carouse. A melancholy siren sounded far down the river.
Amory kept thinking how Monsignor would have enjoyed his own funeral.
It was magnificently Catholic and liturgical. Bishop O'Neill sang solemn
high mass and the cardinal gave the final absolutions. Thornton Hancock,
Mrs. Lawrence, the British and Italian ambassadors, the papal delegate,
and a host of friends and priests were there--yet the inexorable shears
had cut through all these threads that Monsignor had gathered into his
hands. To Amory it was a haunting grief to see him lying in his coffin,
with closed hands upon his purple vestments. His face had not changed,
and, as he never knew he was dying, it showed no pain or fear. It was
Amory's dear old friend, his and the others'--for the church was full
of people with daft, staring faces, the most exalted seeming the most
The cardinal, like an archangel in cope and mitre, sprinkled the holy
water; the organ broke into sound; the choir began to sing the Requiem
All these people grieved because they had to some extent depended upon
Monsignor. Their grief was more than sentiment for the "crack in his
voice or a certain break in his walk," as Wells put it. These people
had leaned on Monsignor's faith, his way of finding cheer, of making
religion a thing of lights and shadows, making all light and shadow
merely aspects of God. People felt safe when he was near.
Of Amory's attempted sacrifice had been born merely the full realization
of his disillusion, but of Monsignor's funeral was born the romantic
elf who was to enter the labyrinth with him. He found something that he
wanted, had always wanted and always would want--not to be admired, as
he had feared; not to be loved, as he had made himself believe; but to
be necessary to people, to be indispensable; he remembered the sense of
security he had found in Burne.
Life opened up in one of its amazing bursts of radiance and Amory
suddenly and permanently rejected an old epigram that had been playing
listlessly in his mind: "Very few things matter and nothing matters very
On the contrary, Amory felt an immense desire to give people a sense of
THE BIG MAN WITH GOGGLES
On the day that Amory started on his walk to Princeton the sky was a
colorless vault, cool, high and barren of the threat of rain. It was a
gray day, that least fleshly of all weathers; a day of dreams and far
hopes and clear visions. It was a day easily associated with those
abstract truths and purities that dissolve in the sunshine or fade out
in mocking laughter by the light of the moon. The trees and clouds
were carved in classical severity; the sounds of the countryside had
harmonized to a monotone, metallic as a trumpet, breathless as the
The day had put Amory in such a contemplative mood that he caused much
annoyance to several motorists who were forced to slow up considerably
or else run him down. So engrossed in his thoughts was he that he was
scarcely surprised at that strange phenomenon--cordiality manifested
within fifty miles of Manhattan--when a passing car slowed down
beside him and a voice hailed him. He looked up and saw a magnificent
Locomobile in which sat two middle-aged men, one of them small and
anxious looking, apparently an artificial growth on the other who was
large and begoggled and imposing.
"Do you want a lift?" asked the apparently artificial growth, glancing
from the corner of his eye at the imposing man as if for some habitual,
"You bet I do. Thanks."
The chauffeur swung open the door, and, climbing in, Amory settled
himself in the middle of the back seat. He took in his companions
curiously. The chief characteristic of the big man seemed to be a
great confidence in himself set off against a tremendous boredom with
everything around him. That part of his face which protruded under the
goggles was what is generally termed "strong"; rolls of not undignified
fat had collected near his chin; somewhere above was a wide thin
mouth and the rough model for a Roman nose, and, below, his shoulders
collapsed without a struggle into the powerful bulk of his chest and
belly. He was excellently and quietly dressed. Amory noticed that he
was inclined to stare straight at the back of the chauffeur's head as if
speculating steadily but hopelessly some baffling hirsute problem.
The smaller man was remarkable only for his complete submersion in the
personality of the other. He was of that lower secretarial type who
at forty have engraved upon their business cards: "Assistant to the
President," and without a sigh consecrate the rest of their lives to
"Going far?" asked the smaller man in a pleasant disinterested way.
"Quite a stretch."
"Hiking for exercise?"
"No," responded Amory succinctly, "I'm walking because I can't afford to
"Are you looking for work? Because there's lots of work," he continued
rather testily. "All this talk of lack of work. The West is especially
short of labor." He expressed the West with a sweeping, lateral gesture.
Amory nodded politely.
"Have you a trade?"
No--Amory had no trade.
No--Amory was not a clerk.
"Whatever your line is," said the little man, seeming to agree wisely
with something Amory had said, "now is the time of opportunity and
business openings." He glanced again toward the big man, as a lawyer
grilling a witness glances involuntarily at the jury.
Amory decided that he must say something and for the life of him could
think of only one thing to say.
"Of course I want a great lot of money--"
The little man laughed mirthlessly but conscientiously.
"That's what every one wants nowadays, but they don't want to work for
"A very natural, healthy desire. Almost all normal people want to be
rich without great effort--except the financiers in problem plays, who
want to 'crash their way through.' Don't you want easy money?"
"Of course not," said the secretary indignantly.
"But," continued Amory disregarding him, "being very poor at present I
am contemplating socialism as possibly my forte."
Both men glanced at him curiously.
"These bomb throwers--" The little man ceased as words lurched
ponderously from the big man's chest.
"If I thought you were a bomb thrower I'd run you over to the Newark
jail. That's what I think of Socialists."
"What are you," asked the big man, "one of these parlor Bolsheviks,
one of these idealists? I must say I fail to see the difference.
The idealists loaf around and write the stuff that stirs up the poor
"Well," said Amory, "if being an idealist is both safe and lucrative, I
might try it."
"What's your difficulty? Lost your job?"
"Not exactly, but--well, call it that."
"What was it?"
"Writing copy for an advertising agency."
"Lots of money in advertising."
Amory smiled discreetly.
"Oh, I'll admit there's money in it eventually. Talent doesn't starve
any more. Even art gets enough to eat these days. Artists draw your
magazine covers, write your advertisements, hash out rag-time for
your theatres. By the great commercializing of printing you've found a
harmless, polite occupation for every genius who might have carved his
own niche. But beware the artist who's an intellectual also. The artist
who doesn't fit--the Rousseau, the Tolstoi, the Samuel Butler, the Amory
"Who's he?" demanded the little man suspiciously.
"Well," said Amory, "he's a--he's an intellectual personage not very
well known at present."
The little man laughed his conscientious laugh, and stopped rather
suddenly as Amory's burning eyes turned on him.
"What are you laughing at?"
"These "intellectual" people--"
"Do you know what it means?"
The little man's eyes twitched nervously.
"Why, it "usually" means--"
"It "always" means brainy and well-educated," interrupted Amory. "It
means having an active knowledge of the race's experience." Amory
decided to be very rude. He turned to the big man. "The young man," he
indicated the secretary with his thumb, and said young man as one
says bell-boy, with no implication of youth, "has the usual muddled
connotation of all popular words."
"You object to the fact that capital controls printing?" said the big
man, fixing him with his goggles.
"Yes--and I object to doing their mental work for them. It seemed to
me that the root of all the business I saw around me consisted in
overworking and underpaying a bunch of dubs who submitted to it."
"Here now," said the big man, "you'll have to admit that the laboring
man is certainly highly paid--five and six hour days--it's ridiculous.
You can't buy an honest day's work from a man in the trades-unions."
"You've brought it on yourselves," insisted Amory. "You people never
make concessions until they're wrung out of you."
"Your class; the class I belonged to until recently; those who by
inheritance or industry or brains or dishonesty have become the moneyed
"Do you imagine that if that road-mender over there had the money he'd
be any more willing to give it up?"
"No, but what's that got to do with it?"
The older man considered.
"No, I'll admit it hasn't. It rather sounds as if it had though."
"In fact," continued Amory, "he'd be worse. The lower classes are
narrower, less pleasant and personally more selfish--certainly more
stupid. But all that has nothing to do with the question."
"Just exactly what is the question?"
Here Amory had to pause to consider exactly what the question was.
AMORY COINS A PHRASE
"When life gets hold of a brainy man of fair education," began Amory
slowly, "that is, when he marries he becomes, nine times out of ten, a
conservative as far as existing social conditions are concerned. He may
be unselfish, kind-hearted, even just in his own way, but his first job
is to provide and to hold fast. His wife shoos him on, from ten thousand
a year to twenty thousand a year, on and on, in an enclosed treadmill
that hasn't any windows. He's done! Life's got him! He's no help! He's a
spiritually married man."
Amory paused and decided that it wasn't such a bad phrase.
"Some men," he continued, "escape the grip. Maybe their wives have no
social ambitions; maybe they've hit a sentence or two in a 'dangerous
book' that pleased them; maybe they started on the treadmill as I did
and were knocked off. Anyway, they're the congressmen you can't
bribe, the Presidents who aren't politicians, the writers, speakers,
scientists, statesmen who aren't just popular grab-bags for a half-dozen
women and children."
"He's the natural radical?"
"Yes," said Amory. "He may vary from the disillusioned critic like old
Thornton Hancock, all the way to Trotsky. Now this spiritually unmarried
man hasn't direct power, for unfortunately the spiritually married man,
as a by-product of his money chase, has garnered in the great newspaper,
the popular magazine, the influential weekly--so that Mrs. Newspaper,
Mrs. Magazine, Mrs. Weekly can have a better limousine than those oil
people across the street or those cement people 'round the corner."
"It makes wealthy men the keepers of the world's intellectual conscience
and, of course, a man who has money under one set of social institutions
quite naturally can't risk his family's happiness by letting the clamor
for another appear in his newspaper."
"But it appears," said the big man.
"Where?--in the discredited mediums. Rotten cheap-papered weeklies."
"All right--go on."
"Well, my first point is that through a mixture of conditions of which
the family is the first, there are these two sorts of brains. One sort
takes human nature as it finds it, uses its timidity, its weakness, and
its strength for its own ends. Opposed is the man who, being spiritually
unmarried, continually seeks for new systems that will control or
counteract human nature. His problem is harder. It is not life that's
complicated, it's the struggle to guide and control life. That is his
struggle. He is a part of progress--the spiritually married man is not."
The big man produced three big cigars, and proffered them on his huge
palm. The little man took one, Amory shook his head and reached for a
"Go on talking," said the big man. "I've been wanting to hear one of you
"Modern life," began Amory again, "changes no longer century by century,
but year by year, ten times faster than it ever has before--populations
doubling, civilizations unified more closely with other civilizations,
economic interdependence, racial questions, and--we're "dawdling"
along. My idea is that we've got to go very much faster." He slightly
emphasized the last words and the chauffeur unconsciously increased the
speed of the car. Amory and the big man laughed; the little man laughed,
too, after a pause.
"Every child," said Amory, "should have an equal start. If his father
can endow him with a good physique and his mother with some common sense
in his early education, that should be his heritage. If the father can't
give him a good physique, if the mother has spent in chasing men the
years in which she should have been preparing herself to educate her
children, so much the worse for the child. He shouldn't be artificially
bolstered up with money, sent to these horrible tutoring schools,
dragged through college... Every boy ought to have an equal start."
"All right," said the big man, his goggles indicating neither approval
"Next I'd have a fair trial of government ownership of all industries."
"That's been proven a failure."
"No--it merely failed. If we had government ownership we'd have the
best analytical business minds in the government working for something
besides themselves. We'd have Mackays instead of Burlesons; we'd have
Morgans in the Treasury Department; we'd have Hills running interstate
commerce. We'd have the best lawyers in the Senate."
"They wouldn't give their best efforts for nothing. McAdoo--"
"No," said Amory, shaking his head. "Money isn't the only stimulus that
brings out the best that's in a man, even in America."
"You said a while ago that it was."
"It is, right now. But if it were made illegal to have more than a
certain amount the best men would all flock for the one other reward
which attracts humanity--honor."
The big man made a sound that was very like "boo".
"That's the silliest thing you've said yet."
"No, it isn't silly. It's quite plausible. If you'd gone to college
you'd have been struck by the fact that the men there would work twice
as hard for any one of a hundred petty honors as those other men did who
were earning their way through."
"Kids--child's play!" scoffed his antagonist.
"Not by a darned sight--unless we're all children. Did you ever see
a grown man when he's trying for a secret society--or a rising family
whose name is up at some club? They'll jump when they hear the sound of
the word. The idea that to make a man work you've got to hold gold in
front of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We've done that for so long
that we've forgotten there's any other way. We've made a world where
that's necessary. Let me tell you"--Amory became emphatic--"if there
were ten men insured against either wealth or starvation, and offered a
green ribbon for five hours' work a day and a blue ribbon for ten hours'
work a day, nine out of ten of them would be trying for the blue ribbon.
That competitive instinct only wants a badge. If the size of their house
is the badge they'll sweat their heads off for that. If it's only a
blue ribbon, I damn near believe they'll work just as hard. They have in
"I don't agree with you."
"I know it," said Amory nodding sadly. "It doesn't matter any more
though. I think these people are going to come and take what they want
A fierce hiss came from the little man.
"Ah, but you've taught them their use."
The big man shook his head.
"In this country there are enough property owners not to permit that
sort of thing."
Amory wished he knew the statistics of property owners and non-property
owners; he decided to change the subject.
But the big man was aroused.
"When you talk of 'taking things away,' you're on dangerous ground."
"How can they get it without taking it? For years people have been
stalled off with promises. Socialism may not be progress, but the threat
of the red flag is certainly the inspiring force of all reform. You've
got to be sensational to get attention."
"Russia is your example of a beneficent violence, I suppose?"
"Quite possibly," admitted Amory. "Of course, it's overflowing just as
the French Revolution did, but I've no doubt that it's really a great
experiment and well worth while."
"Don't you believe in moderation?"
"You won't listen to the moderates, and it's almost too late. The truth
is that the public has done one of those startling and amazing things
that they do about once in a hundred years. They've seized an idea."
"What is it?"
"That however the brains and abilities of men may differ, their stomachs
are essentially the same."
THE LITTLE MAN GETS HIS
"If you took all the money in the world," said the little man with much
profundity, "and divided it up in equ--"
"Oh, shut up!" said Amory briskly and, paying no attention to the little
man's enraged stare, he went on with his argument.
"The human stomach--" he began; but the big man interrupted rather
"I'm letting you talk, you know," he said, "but please avoid stomachs.
I've been feeling mine all day. Anyway, I don't agree with one-half
you've said. Government ownership is the basis of your whole argument,
and it's invariably a beehive of corruption. Men won't work for blue
ribbons, that's all rot."
When he ceased the little man spoke up with a determined nod, as if
resolved this time to have his say out.
"There are certain things which are human nature," he asserted with an
owl-like look, "which always have been and always will be, which can't
Amory looked from the small man to the big man helplessly.
"Listen to that! "That's" what makes me discouraged with progress.
"Listen" to that! I can name offhand over one hundred natural phenomena
that have been changed by the will of man--a hundred instincts in man
that have been wiped out or are now held in check by civilization. What
this man here just said has been for thousands of years the last refuge
of the associated mutton-heads of the world. It negates the efforts of
every scientist, statesman, moralist, reformer, doctor, and philosopher
that ever gave his life to humanity's service. It's a flat impeachment
of all that's worth while in human nature. Every person over twenty-five
years old who makes that statement in cold blood ought to be deprived of
The little man leaned back against the seat, his face purple with rage.
Amory continued, addressing his remarks to the big man.
"These quarter-educated, stale-minded men such as your friend here, who
"think" they think, every question that comes up, you'll find his
type in the usual ghastly muddle. One minute it's 'the brutality and
inhumanity of these Prussians'--the next it's 'we ought to exterminate
the whole German people.' They always believe that 'things are in a bad
way now,' but they 'haven't any faith in these idealists.' One minute
they call Wilson 'just a dreamer, not practical'--a year later they rail
at him for making his dreams realities. They haven't clear logical ideas
on one single subject except a sturdy, stolid opposition to all change.
They don't think uneducated people should be highly paid, but they won't
see that if they don't pay the uneducated people their children are
going to be uneducated too, and we're going round and round in a circle.
That--is the great middle class!"
The big man with a broad grin on his face leaned over and smiled at the
"You're catching it pretty heavy, Garvin; how do you feel?"
The little man made an attempt to smile and act as if the whole matter
were so ridiculous as to be beneath notice. But Amory was not through.
"The theory that people are fit to govern themselves rests on this man.
If he can be educated to think clearly, concisely, and logically,
freed of his habit of taking refuge in platitudes and prejudices and
sentimentalisms, then I'm a militant Socialist. If he can't, then I
don't think it matters much what happens to man or his systems, now or
"I am both interested and amused," said the big man. "You are very
"Which may only mean that I have neither been corrupted nor made timid
by contemporary experience. I possess the most valuable experience, the
experience of the race, for in spite of going to college I've managed to
pick up a good education."
"You talk glibly."
"It's not all rubbish," cried Amory passionately. "This is the first
time in my life I've argued Socialism. It's the only panacea I know. I'm
restless. My whole generation is restless. I'm sick of a system where
the richest man gets the most beautiful girl if he wants her, where
the artist without an income has to sell his talents to a button
manufacturer. Even if I had no talents I'd not be content to work ten
years, condemned either to celibacy or a furtive indulgence, to give
some man's son an automobile."
"But, if you're not sure--"
"That doesn't matter," exclaimed Amory. "My position couldn't be worse.
A social revolution might land me on top. Of course I'm selfish. It
seems to me I've been a fish out of water in too many outworn systems.
I was probably one of the two dozen men in my class at college who got
a decent education; still they'd let any well-tutored flathead play
football and "I" was ineligible, because some silly old men thought we
should "all" profit by conic sections. I loathed the army. I loathed
business. I'm in love with change and I've killed my conscience--"
"So you'll go along crying that we must go faster."
"That, at least, is true," Amory insisted. "Reform won't catch up to
the needs of civilization unless it's made to. A laissez-faire policy is
like spoiling a child by saying he'll turn out all right in the end. He
will--if he's made to."
"But you don't believe all this Socialist patter you talk."
"I don't know. Until I talked to you I hadn't thought seriously about
it. I wasn't sure of half of what I said."
"You puzzle me," said the big man, "but you're all alike. They say
Bernard Shaw, in spite of his doctrines, is the most exacting of all
dramatists about his royalties. To the last farthing."
"Well," said Amory, "I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile
mind in a restless generation--with every reason to throw my mind and
pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were
all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and
my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace
old cants with new ones. I've thought I was right about life at various
times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't a
seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game."
For a minute neither spoke and then the big man asked:
"What was your university?"
The big man became suddenly interested; the expression of his goggles
"I sent my son to Princeton."
"Perhaps you knew him. His name was Jesse Ferrenby. He was killed last
year in France."
"I knew him very well. In fact, he was one of my particular friends."
"He was--a--quite a fine boy. We were very close."
Amory began to perceive a resemblance between the father and the
dead son and he told himself that there had been all along a sense of
familiarity. Jesse Ferrenby, the man who in college had borne off the
crown that he had aspired to. It was all so far away. What little boys
they had been, working for blue ribbons--
The car slowed up at the entrance to a great estate, ringed around by a
huge hedge and a tall iron fence.
"Won't you come in for lunch?"
Amory shook his head.
"Thank you, Mr. Ferrenby, but I've got to get on."
The big man held out his hand. Amory saw that the fact that he had known
Jesse more than outweighed any disfavor he had created by his opinions.
What ghosts were people with which to work! Even the little man insisted
on shaking hands.
"Good-by!" shouted Mr. Ferrenby, as the car turned the corner and
started up the drive. "Good luck to you and bad luck to your theories."
"Same to you, sir," cried Amory, smiling and waving his hand.
"OUT OF THE FIRE, OUT OF THE LITTLE ROOM"
Eight hours from Princeton Amory sat down by the Jersey roadside and
looked at the frost-bitten country. Nature as a rather coarse phenomenon
composed largely of flowers that, when closely inspected, appeared
moth-eaten, and of ants that endlessly traversed blades of grass, was
always disillusioning; nature represented by skies and waters and far
horizons was more likable. Frost and the promise of winter thrilled him
now, made him think of a wild battle between St. Regis and Groton,
ages ago, seven years ago--and of an autumn day in France twelve months
before when he had lain in tall grass, his platoon flattened down close
around him, waiting to tap the shoulders of a Lewis gunner. He saw the
two pictures together with somewhat the same primitive exaltation--two
games he had played, differing in quality of acerbity, linked in a way
that differed them from Rosalind or the subject of labyrinths which
were, after all, the business of life.
"I am selfish," he thought.
"This is not a quality that will change when I 'see human suffering' or
'lose my parents' or 'help others.'
"This selfishness is not only part of me. It is the most living part.
"It is by somehow transcending rather than by avoiding that selfishness
that I can bring poise and balance into my life.
"There is no virtue of unselfishness that I cannot use. I can make
sacrifices, be charitable, give to a friend, endure for a friend, lay
down my life for a friend--all because these things may be the best
possible expression of myself; yet I have not one drop of the milk of
The problem of evil had solidified for Amory into the problem of sex. He
was beginning to identify evil with the strong phallic worship in Brooke
and the early Wells. Inseparably linked with evil was beauty--beauty,
still a constant rising tumult; soft in Eleanor's voice, in an old song
at night, rioting deliriously through life like superimposed waterfalls,
half rhythm, half darkness. Amory knew that every time he had reached
toward it longingly it had leered out at him with the grotesque face of
evil. Beauty of great art, beauty of all joy, most of all the beauty of
After all, it had too many associations with license and indulgence.
Weak things were often beautiful, weak things were never good. And in
this new loneness of his that had been selected for what greatness he
might achieve, beauty must be relative or, itself a harmony, it would
make only a discord.
In a sense this gradual renunciation of beauty was the second step after
his disillusion had been made complete. He felt that he was leaving
behind him his chance of being a certain type of artist. It seemed so
much more important to be a certain sort of man.
His mind turned a corner suddenly and he found himself thinking of the
Catholic Church. The idea was strong in him that there was a certain
intrinsic lack in those to whom orthodox religion was necessary, and
religion to Amory meant the Church of Rome. Quite conceivably it was an
empty ritual but it was seemingly the only assimilative, traditionary
bulwark against the decay of morals. Until the great mobs could be
educated into a moral sense some one must cry: "Thou shalt not!" Yet
any acceptance was, for the present, impossible. He wanted time and
the absence of ulterior pressure. He wanted to keep the tree without
ornaments, realize fully the direction and momentum of this new start.
The afternoon waned from the purging good of three o'clock to the golden
beauty of four. Afterward he walked through the dull ache of a setting
sun when even the clouds seemed bleeding and at twilight he came to a
graveyard. There was a dusky, dreamy smell of flowers and the ghost of a
new moon in the sky and shadows everywhere. On an impulse he considered
trying to open the door of a rusty iron vault built into the side of
a hill; a vault washed clean and covered with late-blooming, weepy
watery-blue flowers that might have grown from dead eyes, sticky to the
touch with a sickening odor.
Amory wanted to feel "William Dayfield, 1864."
He wondered that graves ever made people consider life in vain. Somehow
he could find nothing hopeless in having lived. All the broken columns
and clasped hands and doves and angels meant romances. He fancied that
in a hundred years he would like having young people speculate as to
whether his eyes were brown or blue, and he hoped quite passionately
that his grave would have about it an air of many, many years ago. It
seemed strange that out of a row of Union soldiers two or three made
him think of dead loves and dead lovers, when they were exactly like the
rest, even to the yellowish moss.
Long after midnight the towers and spires of Princeton were visible,
with here and there a late-burning light--and suddenly out of the clear
darkness the sound of bells. As an endless dream it went on; the spirit
of the past brooding over a new generation, the chosen youth from the
muddled, unchastened world, still fed romantically on the mistakes
and half-forgotten dreams of dead statesmen and poets. Here was a new
generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through
a revery of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that
dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated
more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success;
grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man
Amory, sorry for them, was still not sorry for himself--art, politics,
religion, whatever his medium should be, he knew he was safe now, free
from all hysteria--he could accept what was acceptable, roam, grow,
rebel, sleep deep through many nights....
There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still in riot;
there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth--yet
the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility
and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized
dreams. But--oh, Rosalind! Rosalind!...
"It's all a poor substitute at best," he said sadly.
And he could not tell why the struggle was worth while, why he had
determined to use to the utmost himself and his heritage from the
personalities he had passed....
He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky.
"I know myself," he cried, "but that is all."
Appendix: Production notes for eBook edition 11
The primary feature of edition 11 is restoration of em-dashes which
are missing from edition 10. (My favorite instance is "I won't belong"
rather than "I won't be--long".)
Characters which are 8-bit in the printed text were misrepresented in
edition 10. Edition 10 had some end-of-paragraph problems. A handful of
other minor errors are corrected.
Two volumes served as reference for edition 11: a 1960 reprint, and
an undated reprint produced sometime after 1948. There are a number of
differences between the volumes. Evidence suggests that the 1960 reprint
has been somewhat "modernized", and that the undated reprint is a
better match for the original 1920 printing. Therefore, when the volumes
differ, edition 11 more closely follows the undated reprint.
In edition 11, underscores are used to denote words and phrases
italicized for emphasis.
There is a section of text in book 2, chapter 3, beginning with "When
Vanity kissed Vanity," which is referred to as "poetry" but is formatted
I considered, but decided against introducing an 8-bit version of
edition 11, in large part because the bulk of the 8-bit usage (as found
in the 1960 reprint) consists of words commonly used in their 7-bit
Aeschylus blase cafe debut debutante elan elite Encyclopaedia
matinee minutiae paean regime soupcon unaesthetic
Less-commonly-used 8-bit word forms in this book include:
anaemic bleme coeur manoeuvered mediaevalist tete-a-tete
and the name "Borge".
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