Part 1 out of 11
Charles Franks, Charles Aldarondo, and the Online Distributed Proofreading
NEW YORK AND LONDON
BOOK I THE VICTIM
BOOK II THE SNARE
BOOK III THE VICTIM HESITATES
BOOK IV THE VICTIM APPROACHES
BOOK V THE BAIT IS SEIZED
BOOK VI THE CORDS ARE TIGHTENED
BOOK VII THE CAPTURE IS COMPLETED
BOOK VIII THE CAPTIVE BOUND
BOOK IX THE CAPTIVE IN LEASH
BOOK X THE END OF THE TETHER
BOOK XI THE TORTURE-HOUSE
BOOK XII THE TREADMILL
BOOK XIII THE MASTERS OF THE SNARE
BOOK XIV THE PRICE OF RANSOM
BOOK XV THE CAPTIVE FAINTS
BOOK XVI THE BREAK FOR FREEDOM
It was in a little woodland glen, with a streamlet tumbling through
it. She sat with her back to a snowy birch-tree, gazing into the
eddies of a pool below; and he lay beside her, upon the soft, mossy
ground, reading out of a book of poems. Images of joy were passing
before them; and there came four lines with a picture--
"Hard by, a cottage-chimney smokes,
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis, met,
Are at their savory dinner set."
"Ah!" said she. "I always loved that. Let us be Corydon and
He smiled. "They were both of them men," he said.
"Let us change it," she responded--"just between ourselves!"
"Very well--Corydon!" said he.
Then, after a moment's thought, she added, "But we didn't have the
"No," said he--"nor even the dinner!"
Section 1. It was the Highway of Lost Men. They shivered, and drew
their shoulders together as they walked, for it was night, and a
cold, sleety rain was falling. The lights from saloons and
pawn-shops fell upon their faces--faces haggard and gaunt with
misery, or bloated with disease and sin. Some stared before them
fixedly; some gazed about with furtive and hungry eyes as they
shuffled on. Here and there a policeman stood in the shelter,
swinging his club and watching them as they passed. Music called to
them from dives and dance-halls, and lighted signs and flaring-
colored pictures tempted them in the entrances of cheap museums and
theatres; they lingered before these, glad of even a moment's
shelter. Overhead the elevated trains pounded by; and from the
windows one could see men crowded about the stoves in the rooms of
lodging-houses, where the steam from their garments made a blur in
Down this highway walked a lad, about fifteen years of age, pale of
face, and with delicate and sensitive features. His overcoat was
buttoned tightly about his neck, and his hands thrust into his
pockets; he gazed around him swiftly as he walked. He came to this
place every now and then, but he never grew used to what he saw.
He eyed the men who passed him; and when he came to a saloon he
would push open the door and gaze about. Sometimes he would enter,
and hurry through, to peer into the compartments in the back; and
then go out again, giving a wide berth to the drinkers, and
shrinking from their glances. Once a girl appeared in a doorway, and
smiled and nodded to him; he started and hurried out, shuddering.
Her wanton black eyes haunted him, hinting unimaginable things.
Then, on a corner, he stopped and spoke to a policeman. "Hello!"
said the man, and shook his head--"No, not this time." So the boy
went on; there were several miles of this Highway, and each block of
it the same.
At last, in a dingy bar-room, with saw-dust strewn upon the floor,
and the odor of stale beer and tobacco-smoke in the air--here
suddenly the boy sprang forward, with a cry: "Father!" And a man who
sat with bowed head in a corner gave a start, and lifted a white
face and stared at him. He rose unsteadily to his feet, and
staggered to the other, and fell upon his shoulder, sobbing, "My
son! My son!"
How many times had Thyrsis heard those words--in how many hours of
anguish! They sank into the deeps of him, waking echoes like the
clang of a bell: they voiced all the terror and grief of defeated
life--"My son! My son!"
The man clung to him, weeping, and pouring out the flood of his
shame. "I have fallen again--I am lost--I am lost!"
The occupants of the place were watching the scene with dull
curiosity; and the boy was trembling like a wild deer trapped.
"Yes, father, yes! Let us go home."
"Home--home, my son? Will you take me home? Oh, I couldn't bear to
"But you must come home."
"Do you mean that you still love me, son?"
"Yes, father, I still love you. I want to try to help you. Come with
Then the boy would gaze about and ask, "Where is your hat?"
"Hat, my son? I don't know. I have lost it." The boy would see his
torn and mud-stained clothing, and the poor old pitiful face, with
the eyes blood-shot and swollen, and the skin, that had been rosy,
and was now a ghastly, ashen gray. He would choke back his feelings,
and grip his hands to keep himself together.
"Come, father, take my hat, and let us go."
"No, my son. I don't need any hat. Nothing can hurt me--I am lost!
So they would go out, arm in arm; and while they made their progress
up the Highway, the man would pour out his remorse, and tell the
story of his weeks of horror.
Then, after a mile or so, he would halt.
"What is it, father?"
"I must stop here, son."
"I must have something to drink."
"But, my boy, I can't go on! I can't walk! You don't know what I'm
"I've got the money left--I'm not asking you. I'll come right with
you--on my word of honor I will!"
And so they would fight it out--all the way back to the
lodging-house where they lived, and where the mother sat and wept.
And here they would put him to bed, and lock up his clothing to keep
him in; and here, with drugs and mineral-waters, and perhaps a
doctor to help, they would struggle with him, and tend him until he
was on his feet again. Then, with clothing newly-brushed and face
newly-shaven he would go back to the world of men; and the boy would
go back to his dreams.
Section 2. Such was the life of Thyrsis, from earliest childhood to
maturity. His father's was a heritage of gentle breeding and high
traditions--his forefathers were cavaliers, and had served the
State. And now it had come to this--to hall bedrooms in
lodging-houses, and a life-and-death grapple with destruction! And
when Thyrsis came to study the problem, he found that it was a
struggle without hope; his father was a man in a trap.
He was what people called a "drummer". He was dependent for his
living upon the favor of certain merchants--men for the most part of
low ideals, who came to the city in search of their low pleasures.
One met them by waiting about in the lobbies of hotels, and in the
bar-rooms which they frequented; and always the first sign of
fellowship with them was to have a drink. And this was the field on
which the battle had to be fought!
He would hold out for months--half a year, perhaps--drinking
lemonade and putting up with their raillery. And then he would begin
with ginger-ale; and then it would come to beer; and then to
whiskey. He was always devising new plans to control himself; always
persuading himself that he had solved the problem. He would not
drink in the morning; he would not drink until after dinner; he
would not drink alone--and so on without end. His whole life was
drink, and all his thoughts were of drink--the odor of it always in
his nostrils, the image of it always before his eyes.
And the grimness of his fate lay here--that it was by his best
qualities that he was betrayed. If he had been hard and mercenary,
like some of those who preyed upon him, there might have been hope.
But he was generous and free-hearted, a slave to his impulses of
friendship. And this was what made the struggle such a cruel one to
Thyrsis; it was like the sight of some noble animal basely snared.
From his earliest days the boy had watched these forces working
themselves out. The gentleman and the "drummer" fought for
supremacy, and step by step the soul of the man was fashioned to the
work he did. To succeed with his customers he must share their ideas
and their tastes; and so he was bitter against reformers, who
interfered with the gaieties of the city, with no consideration for
the tastes of "buyers." But then, on the other hand, would come a
time of renunciation, when he would be all enthusiasm for
He was full of old-fashioned ideas, which would take the quaintest
turns of reactionism; his politics were summed up in the phrase that
he "would rather vote for a nigger than a Republican"; but then, in
the same breath, he would announce some fine and noble sentiment,
out of the traditions of a forgotten past. He was the soul of
courtesy to women, and of loyalty to friends. He worshipped General
Lee and the old time "Virginia gentleman"; and those with whom he
lived, and for whose unclean profits he sold himself, never guessed
the depths of his contempt for all they stood for. They had the
dollars, they were on top; but some day the nemesis of Good-breeding
would smite them--the army of the ghosts of Gentility would rise,
and with "Marse Robert" and "Jeb" Stuart at their head, would sweep
away the hordes of commercialdom.
Thyrsis saw a great deal of this forgotten chivalry. His nursery had
been haunted by such musty phantoms; and when he first came to the
Northern city, he stayed at a hotel which was frequented by people
who lived in this past--old ladies who were proud and prim, and old
gentlemen who were quixotic and humorous, young ladies who were
"belles," and young gentlemen who aspired to be "blades". It was a
world that would have made happy the soul of any writer of romances;
but to Thyrsis in earliest childhood the fates had given the gift of
seeing beneath the shams of things, and to him this dead Aristocracy
cried out loudly for burial. There was an incredible amount of
drunkenness, and of debauchery scarcely hidden; there was pretense
strutting like a peacock, and avarice skulking like a hound; there
were jealousy, and base snobbery, and raging spite, and a breath of
suspicion and scandal hanging like a poisonous cloud over
everything. These people came and went, an endless procession of
them; they laughed and danced and gossiped and drank their way
through the boy's life, and unconsciously he judged them, and hated
them and feared them. It was not by such that his destiny was to be
Most of them were poor; not an honest poverty, but a sham and
artificial poverty--the inability to dress as others did, and to
lose money at "bridge" and "poker", and to pay the costs of their
self-indulgences. As for Thyrsis and his parents, they always paid
what they owed; but they were not always able to pay it when they
owed it, and they suffered all the agonies and humiliations of those
who did not pay at all. There was scarcely ever a week when this
canker of want did not gnaw at them; their life was one endless and
sordid struggle to make last year's clothing look like new, and to
find some boarding-house that was cheaper and yet respectable. There
was endless wrangling and strife and worry over money; and every
year the task was harder, the standards lower, the case more
There were rich relatives, a world of real luxury up above--the
thing that called itself "Society". And Thyrsis was a student and a
bright lad, and he was welcome there; he might have spread his wings
and flown away from this sordidness. But duty held him, and love and
memory held him still tighter. For his father worshipped him, and
craved his help; to the last hour of his dreadful battle, he fought
to keep his son's regard--he prayed for it, with tears in his eyes
and anguish in his voice. And so the boy had to stand by. And that
meant that he grew up in a torture-house, he drank a cup of poison
to its bitter dregs. To others his father was merely a gross little
man, with sordid ideas and low tastes; but to Thyrsis he was a man
with the terror of the hunted creatures in his soul, and the furies
of madness cracking their whips about his ears.
There was only one ending possible--it worked itself out with the
remorseless precision of a machine. The soul that fought was
smothered and stifled, its voice grew fainter and feebler; the agony
and the shame grew hotter, the suffering more cruel, the despair
more black. Until at last they found him in a delirium, and took him
to a private hospital; and thither went Thyrsis, now grown to be a
man, and sat in a dingy reception-room, and a dingy doctor came to
him and said, "Do you wish to see the body?" And Thyrsis answered,
in a low voice, "No."
Section 3. So it was that the soul of this lad had grown sombre, and
taken to brooding upon the mysteries of fate. Life was no jest and
no holiday, it was no place for shams and self-deceptions. It was a
place where cruel enemies set traps for the unwary; a field where
blind and merciless forces ranged, unhindered by man or God.
Thyrsis could not have told how soon in life this sense had come to
him. In his earliest childhood he had known that his father was
preyed upon, just as certainly as any wild thing in the forest. At
first the enemies had been saloon-keepers, and wicked men who
tempted him to drink with them. The names of these men were
household words to him, portents of terror; they peopled his
imagination as epic figures, such as Black Douglas must have been to
the children of the Northern Border.
But then, with widening intelligence, it became certain social forces,
at first dimly apprehended. It was the god of "business"--before which
all things fair and noble went down. It was "business" that kept vice
triumphant in the city; it was because of "business" that the saloons
could not be closed even on Sunday, so that the father might be at home
one day in seven. And was it not in search of "business" that he was
driven forth to loaf in hotel-lobbies and bar-rooms?
Who was to blame for this, Thyrsis did not know; but certain men
made profit of it--and these, too, were ignoble men. He knew this;
for now and then his father's employers would honor the little
family with some kind of an invitation, and they would have to
swallow their pride and go. So Thyrsis grew up, with the sense of a
great evil loose in the world; a wrong, of which the world did not
know. And within him grew a passionate longing to cry aloud to
others, to open their eyes to this truth!
Outwardly he was like other boys, eager and cheerful, even
boisterous; but within was this hidden thing, which brooded and
questioned. Life had made him into an ascetic. He must be stern,
even merciless, with himself--because of the fear that was in him,
and in his mother as well. The fear that self-indulgence might lay
its grisly paws upon him! The fear that he, too, might fall into the
It was not merely that he never touched stimulants; he had an
instinct against all things that were softening and enervating, all
things that tempted and enslaved. For him was the morning-air, and
the shock of cold water, and the hardness of the wild things of the
open. Other people did not feel this way; other people pampered
themselves and defiled themselves--and so Thyrsis went apart. He
lived quite alone with his thoughts, he had never a chum, scarcely
even any friends. Where in the long procession of lodging and
boarding-houses and summer-resorts should he meet people who knew
what he knew about life? Where in all the world should he meet them,
save in the books of great men in times past?
There was not much of what is called "culture" in his family; no
music at all, and no poetry. But there were novels, and there were
libraries where one could get more of these, so Thyrsis became a
devourer of stories; he would disappear, and they would find him at
meal-times, hidden in a clump of bushes, or in a corner behind a
sofa--anywhere out of the world. He read whole libraries of
adventure: Mayne-Reid and Henty, and then Cooper and Stevenson and
Scott. And then came more serious novels--"Don Quixote" and "Les
Misérables," George Eliot, whom he loved, and Dickens, whose social
protest thrilled him; and chiefest of all Thackeray, who moulded his
thought. Thackeray knew the world that he knew, Thackeray saw to the
heart of it; and no high-souled lad who had read him and worshipped
him was ever after to be lured by the glamor of the "great" world--a
world whose greatness was based upon selfishness and greed.
Thyrsis knew no foreign language, and fate or instinct kept him from
those writers who jested with uncleanness; so he was virginal, and
pure in all his imaginings. Other lads exchanged confidences in
forbidden things, they broke down the barriers and tore away the
veils; but Thyrsis had never breathed a word about matters of sex to
any living creature. He pondered and guessed, but no one knew his
thoughts; and this was a crucial thing, the secret of much of his
Section 4. In one of the early boarding-houses there had been a
little girl, and the families had become intimate. But the two
children disliked each other, and kept apart all they could. Thyrsis
was domineering and imperious, and things must always be his way. He
was given to rebellion, whereas Corydon was gentle and meek, and
submitted to confinements and prohibitions in a quite disgraceful
manner. She was a pretty little girl, with great black eyes; and
because she was silent and shy, he set her down as "stupid", and
went his way.
They spent a summer in the country together, where Thyrsis possessed
himself of a sling-shot, and took to collecting the skins of
squirrels and chipmunks. Corydon was horrified at this; and by way
of helping her to overcome her squeamishness he would make her carry
home the bleeding corpses. He took to raising, young birds, also,
and soon had quite an aviary--two robins, and a crow, and a survivor
from a brood of "cherry-birds." The feeding of these nestlings was
no small task, but Thyrsis went fishing when the spirit moved him,
secure in the certainty that the calls of the hungry creatures would
keep Corydon at home.
This was the way of it, until Corydon began to blossom into a young
lady, beautiful and tenderly-fashioned. Thyrsis still saw her now
and then, and he made attempts to share his higher joys with her. He
had become a lover of poetry; once they walked by the seashore, and
he read her "Alexander's Feast", thrilling with delight in its
"Break his bands of sleep asunder,
And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder!"
But Corydon had never heard of Timotheus, and she had not been
taught to exploit her emotions. She could only say that she did not
understand it very well.
And then, on another occasion, Thyrsis endeavored to tell her about
Berkeley, whom he had been reading. But Corydon did not take to the
sensational philosophy either; she would come back again and again
to the evasion of old Dr. Johnson--"When I kick a stone, I know the
stone is there!"
This girl was like a beautiful flower, Thyrsis told himself--like
all the flowers that had gone before her, and all those that would
come after, from generation to generation. She fitted so perfectly
into her environment, she grew so calmly and serenely; she wore
pretty dresses, and helped to serve tea, and was graceful and
sweet--and with never an idea that there was anything in life beyond
these things. So Thyrsis pondered as he went his way, complacent
over his own perspicacity; and got not even a whiff of smoke from
the volcano of rebellion and misery that was seething deep down in
The choosers of the unborn souls had played a strange fantasy here;
they had stolen one of the daughters of ancient Greece, and set her
down in this metropolis of commercialdom. For Corydon might have
been Nausikaa herself; she might have marched in the Panathenaic
procession, with one of the sacred vessels in her hands; she might
have run in the Attic games, bare-limbed and fearless. Hers was a
soul that leaped to the call of joy, that thrilled at the faintest
touch of beauty. Above all else, she was born for music--she could
have sung so that the world would have remembered it. And she was
pent in a dingy boarding-house, with no point of contact with
anything about her--with no human soul to whom she could whisper her
They sent her to a public-school, where the sad-eyed drudges of the
traders came to be drilled for their tasks. They harrowed her with
arithmetic and grammar, which she abhorred; they taught her
patriotic songs, about a country to which she did not belong. And
also, they sent her to Sunday-school, which was worse yet. She had
the strangest, instinctive hatred of their religion, with all that
it stood for. The sight of a clergyman with his vestments and his
benedictions would make her fairly bristle with hostility. They
talked to her about her sins, and she did not know what they meant;
they pried into the state of her soul, and she shrunk from them as
if they had been hairy spiders. Here, too, they taught her to
sing--droning hymns that were a mockery of all the joys of life.
So Corydon devoured her own heart in secret; and in time a dreadful
thing came to happen--the stagnant soul beginning to fester. One day
the girl, whose heart was the quintessence of all innocence,
happened to see a low word scribbled upon a fence. And now--they had
urged her to discover sins, and she discovered them. Suppose that
word were to stay in her mind and haunt her--suppose that she were
not able to forget it, try as she would! And of course she tried;
and the more she tried, the less she succeeded; and so came the
discovery that she was a lost soul and a creature of depravity! The
thought occurred to her, that she might go on to think of other
words, and to think of images and actions as well; she might be
unable to forget any of them--her mind might become a storehouse of
such horrors! And so the maiden out of ancient Greece would lie
awake all night and wrestle with fiends, until she was bathed in a
Section 5. About this time Thyrsis was making his _début_ as an
author. He had discovered a curious knack in himself, a turn for
making verses of a sort which were pleasing to children. They came
from some little corner of his consciousness, he scarcely knew how;
but there was a paper that was willing to buy them, and to pay him
the princely sum of five dollars a week! This would pay for his food
and his hall bedroom, or for board at some farm in the summer; and
so for several years Thyrsis was free.
He told a falsehood about his age, and entered college, and buried
himself up to the eyes in work. This was a college in a city, and a
poor college, where the students all lived at home, and had nothing
to do but study; and so Thyrsis missed all that beneficent
illumination known as "student-life." He never hurrahed at foot-ball
contests, nor did he dress himself in honorific garments, nor
stupify himself at "smokers." Being democratic, and without thought
of setting himself up over others, he was unaware of his greatest
opportunities, and when they invited him into a fraternity, he
declined. Once or twice he found himself roaming the streets at
night with a crowd of students, emitting barbaric screechings; but
this made him feel silly, and so he lagged behind and went home.
The college served its purpose, in introducing him to the world of
knowledge; but that did not take long, and afterwards it was all in
his way. The mathematics were a discipline, and in them he rejoiced
as a strong man to run a race; and this was true also of the
sciences, and of history--the only trouble was that he would finish
the text-books in the first few weeks, and after that there was
nothing to do save to compose verses in class, and to make sketches
of the professors. But as for the "languages" and the "literatures"
they taught him--in the end Thyrsis came to forgive them, because he
saw that they did not know what languages and literatures were. On
this account he took to begging leave of absence on grounds of his
poverty; and then he would go home and spend his days and nights in
One could get so much for so little, in this wonderful world of
mind! For eight cents he picked up a paper volume of Emerson's
"Essays"; and in this shrewd and practical nobility was so much that
he was seeking in life! And then he stumbled upon a fifteen-cent
edition of "Sartor Resartus", and took that home and read it. It was
like the clash of trumpets and cymbals to him; it made his whole
being leap. Hour after hour he read, breathless, like a man
bewitched, the whole night through. He would cry aloud with delight,
or drop the book and pound his knee and laugh over the demoniac
power of it. The next day he began the "French Revolution"; and
after that, alas, he found there was no more--for Carlyle had turned
his back upon democracy, and so Thyrsis turned his back upon
For this was one of the forces which had had to do with the shaping
of his thought. Beginning in the public-schools he had learned about
his country--the country which was his, if not Corydon's. He had
read in its history--Irving's "Life of Washington," and ten great
volumes about Lincoln; so he had come to understand that salvation
is of the people, and that those things which the people do not
do--those things have not yet been done. So no one could deceive
him, or lead him astray; he might laugh with the Tories, and even
love them for their foibles--quaint old Samuel Johnson, for
instance, because he was poor and sturdy, and had stood by his trade
of bookman; but at bottom Thyrsis knew that all these men were
gilding a corpse. Wordsworth and Tennyson, Browning and Swinburne
--he followed each one as far as their revolutionary impulse lasted;
and after that there was no more in them for him. Even Ruskin, who
taught him the possibilities of English prose, and opened his eyes
to the form and color of the world of nature--even Ruskin he gave
up, because he was a philanthropist and not a democrat.
Thyrsis had been brought up as a devout Episcopalian. They had
dressed him in scarlet and white to carry the train of the bishop at
confirmation, and had sent him to an afternoon service every day
throughout Lent. Early in life he had stumbled on a paper copy of
Paine's "Age of Reason," and he read it with horror, and then
conducted a private _auto da fé_. But the questions of the book
stayed with him, and as years passed they clamored more loudly. What
would have happened, astronomically, if the sun had stood still? And
how many different species would have had to go into the ark? And
what was the size of a whale's gullet, and the probable digestive
powers of a whale's stomach?
And then came more fundamental difficulties. Could there, after all,
be such a duty as faith in any intellectual matter? Could there be
any revelation superior to reason--must not reason have once decided
that it was a revelation, or was not? And what of all the other
"revelations", which all the other peoples of the world accepted?
And then again, if Jesus had been God, could he really have been
tempted? To be God and man at the same time--did that not mean both
to know and not to know? And was there any way conceivable for
anything to be God, in which everything else was not God?
These perplexities and many others the boy took to his clerical
adviser, a man who loved him dearly, and who gave him some volumes
of the "Bampton lectures" to read. Here was the defense of
Christianity, conducted by authorities, and with scholarship and
dignity; and Thyrsis found to his dismay that the only convincing
parts of their books were where they gave a _résumé_ of the
arguments of their opponents. He learned in this way many
difficulties that had not yet occurred to him; and when he had got
through with the reading his mind was made up. If any man were to be
damned for not believing such things, then it was his duty as a
thinker to be damned; and so he bade farewell to the Church--something
which was sad, in a way, for his mother had been planning him for a
Section 6. But Thyrsis was throwing away many chances these days. He
went into the higher regions to spend his Christmas holidays; and
instead of being tactful and agreeable, he buried himself in a
corner of the library all day long. For Thyrsis had made the
greatest discovery yet--he had found out Shakespeare! At school they
had taught him "English" by means of "to be or not to be", and they
had sought to trap him at examinations by means of "man's first
disobedience and the fruit"; and so for years they had held him back
from the two great glories of our literature. But now, by accident,
he stumbled into "The Tempest"; and after that he read every line of
the plays in two weeks.
He lost his soul in that wonderland; he walked and thought no more
like the men of earth--he dwelt with those lords and princes of the
soul, and learned to speak their language. He would dodge among
cable-cars and trucks with their heavenly melodies in his ears; and
while he sung them his eyes flashed and his heart beat fast:
"Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"
There were a few days left in those wondrous holidays; and these
went to Milton. There was a set of his works, enormously expensive,
which had been made and purchased with no idea that any human being
would ever read them. But Thyrsis read them, and so all the beauty
of the binding was justified. For hours, and hours upon hours, he
drank in that thunderous music, crying it aloud with his hands
clenched tightly, and stopping to laugh like a child with
"Th'imperial ensign, which full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds!"
And afterwards, when he came to the palace that "rose like an
exhalation", all of Thyrsis' soul rose with it. One summer's day he
stood on a high mountain with a railroad in the valley, and saw a
great freight-engine stop still and pour out its masses of dense
black smoke. It rose in the breathless air, straight as a column,
high and majestic; and Thyrsis thought of that line. It carried him
out into the heavens, and he knew that a flash of poetry such as
that is the meeting of man's groping hand with God's.
It was about here that a strange adventure came to him. It was
midwinter, and he went out, long after midnight, to walk in a
beautiful garden. A dry powdery snow crunched beneath his feet, and
overhead the stars gleamed and quivered, so bright that he felt like
stretching out his hands to them. The world lay still, and awful in
its beauty; and here suddenly, unsuspected--unheralded, and quite
unsought--there came to Thyrsis a strange and portentous experience,
the first of his ecstasies.
He could not have told whether he walked or sat down, whether he
spoke or was silent; he lost all sense of his own existence--his
consciousness was given up to the people of his dreams, the
companions and lovers of his fancy. The cold and snow were gone, and
there was a moonlit glade in a forest; and thither they came, one by
one, friendly and human, yet in the full panoply of their splendor
and grace. There were Shelley and Milton, and the gentle and
troubled Hamlet, and the sorrowful knight of la Mancha, with the
irrepressible Falstaff to hearten them all; a strangely-assorted
company, yet royal spirits all of them, and no strangers to each
other in their own world. And here they gathered and conversed, each
in his own vein and from his own impulse, with gracious fancy and
lofty vision and heart-easing mirth. And ah, how many miles would
one have travelled to be with them!
That was the burden which this gift laid upon Thyrsis. He soon
discovered that these visions of wonder came but once, and that when
they were gone, they were gone forever. And he must learn to grapple
with them as they fled, to labor with them and to hold them fast, at
the cost of whatever heartbreaking strain. Thus alone could men have
even the feeblest reflexion of their beauty--upon which to feed
their souls forever after.
Section 7. These things came at the same time as another development
in Thyrsis' life, likewise portentous and unexpected. Boyhood was
gone, and manhood had come. There was a bodily change taking place
in him--he became aware of it with a start, and with the strangest
and most uncomfortable thrills. He did not know what to make of it,
or what to do about it; nor did he know where to turn for advice.
He tried to put it aside, as a thing of no importance. But it would
not be put aside--it was of vast importance. He discovered new
desires in himself, impulses that dominated him in a most disturbing
way. He found that he took a new interest in women and young girls;
he wanted to linger near them, and their glances caused him strange
emotions. He resented this, as an invasion of his privacy; it was
inconsistent with his hermit-instinct. Thyrsis wished no women in
his life save the muses with their star-sewn garments. He had been
fond of a line from a sonnet to Milton:
"Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart."
But instead of this, what awful humiliations! In a summer-resort
where he found himself, there was a girl of not very gentle
breeding, somewhat pudgy and with a languishing air. She liked to
have boys snuggle down by her; and so Thyrsis spent the whole of one
evening, sitting in a summer-house with an arm about her waist,
dissolved in a sort of moon-calf sentimentalism. And then he passed
the rest of the night wandering about in the forest cursing himself,
with tears of shame and vexation in his eyes.
He was so ignorant about these matters that he did not even know if
the changes that had taken place in him were normal, or whether they
were doing him harm. He made up his mind that he must have advice;
as it was unthinkable that he should speak about such shameful
things with any grown person, he bethought himself of a classmate in
college who was an earnest and sober man. This friend, much older
than Thyrsis, was the son of an evangelical clergyman, and was
headed for the ministry himself. His name was Warner, and Thyrsis
had helped him in arranging for some religious meetings at the
college. Warner had been shocked by his theological irregularities;
but they were still friends, and now Thyrsis sought a chance to
exchange confidences with him.
The opportunity came while they were strolling down an avenue near
the college, and a woman passed them, a woman with bold and hard
features, and obviously-painted cheeks. She smiled at a group of
students just ahead, and one of them turned and walked off arm in
arm with her.
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Warner. "Did you see that?"
"Yes," said Thyrsis. "Who is she?"
"She comes from a house just around the corner."
"But who is she?"
"Why--she's a street-walker."
This brought to Thyrsis' mind a problem that had been haunting him
for a year or two. Always when he walked about the streets at night
there were women who smiled at him and whispered. And he knew that
these were bad women, and shrunk from them. But just what did they
"What does she do?" he asked again.
"Why, don't you know what a street-walker is?"
"Not very well," said Thyrsis.
It took some time for him to get the desired information, because
the other could not realize the depths of his ignorance. "They sell
themselves to men," he said.
"But what for?" asked Thyrsis. "You don't mean that they--they let
"They have intercourse together. Of course."
Thyrsis was almost dumb with dismay. "But I should think they would
have children!" he exclaimed.
"Good Lord, man!" laughed the other. "Where do you keep yourself,
But Thyrsis was too much shaken to think of being ashamed. This was
a most appalling revelation to him--it opened quite a new vista of
"But why should they do such things?" he cried.
"They earn their living that way," said the other.
"But why _that_ way?"
"I don't know. They are that kind of women, I suppose."
And so Warner went on to expound to him the facts of prostitution,
and all the abysses of human depravity that lie thereabouts. And
incidentally the boy got a chance to ask his questions, and to get a
common-sense view of his perplexities. Also he got some
understanding of human nature, and of the world in which he lived.
Here was Warner, a man of twenty-four, and of a devout, if somewhat
dull and plodding conscientiousness; and the last eight or nine
years of his' life had been one torment because of the cravings of
lust. He had never committed an act of unchastity--or at least he
told Thyrsis that he had not. But he was never free from the
impulse, and he had no conception of the possibility of being free.
His desire was a purely brute one--untouched by any intellectual or
spiritual, or even any sentimental color. He desired woman, as
woman--it mattered not what woman. How low his impulses took him
Thyrsis realized with a shudder from one remark that he made--that
his poverty did not help him to live virtuously, for about the docks
and in the workingmen's quarters there were women who would sell
themselves for fifty cents a night.
This man's whole life was determined by that craving; in fact it
seemed to Thyrsis that his God had made the universe with relation
to it--a heaven to reward him if he abstained, and a hell to punish
him if he yielded. It was because of this that he clung to the
church, and shrunk from any dallying with "rationalism". He
disapproved of the theatre, because it appealed to these cravings;
he disapproved of all pictures and statues of the nude human form,
because the sight of them overmastered him. For the same reason he
shrunk from all impassioned poetry, and from dancing, and even from
non-religious music. He was rigid in his conformance to all the
social conventions, because they served the purpose of saving him
and his young women-friends from temptation; and he looked forward
to the completion of a divinity-course as his goal, because then he
would be able to settle down and marry, and so at last to gratify
his desires. He stated this quite baldly, quoting the authority of
St. Paul, that it was "better to marry than to burn."
This conversation brought Thyrsis to a realization that there was a
great deal in the world that was not found in the poetry of Tennyson
and Longfellow; and so he began to pry into the souls of others of
Section 8. Warner had given him the religious attitude; and now he
went after the scientific. There was a tall, eager-faced young man,
who proclaimed himself a disciple of Haeckel and Herbert Spencer,
and even went so far as to quote Schopenhauer in class. Walking home
together one day, these two fell to arguing the freedom of the will,
and the nature of motives and desires, and what power one has over
them; and so Thyrsis made the startling discovery that this young
man, having accepted the doctrine of "determinism," had drawn
therefrom the corollary that he had to do what he wanted to do, and
so was powerless to resist his sex-impulses. For the past year this
youth, a fine, intellectual and honest student, had gone at regular
intervals to visit a prostitute; and with entirely scientific and
cold-blooded precision he outlined to Thyrsis the means he took to
avoid contracting disease. Thyrsis listened, feeling as he might
have felt in a slaughter-house; and when, returning to the
deterministic hypothesis, he asked how it was that he had managed to
escape this "necessity", he was told that it must be because he was
of a weaker and less manly constitution.
And there was yet another type: a man with whom there was no
difficulty in bringing up the subject, for the reason that he was
always bringing it up himself. Thyrsis sat next to him in a class in
Latin, and noticed that whenever the text contained any hint at
matters of sex--which was not infrequent in Juvenal and Horace--
this man would look at him with a grin and a sly wink. And sometimes
Thyrsis would make a casual remark in conversation, and the man
would twist it out of its meaning, or make a pun out of it--to find
some excuse for his satyr's leer. So at last Thyrsis was moved to
say to him--"Don't you ever realize what a state you've got your
"How do you mean?" asked the man.
"Why, everything in the world seems to suggest obscenity to you.
You're always looking for it and always finding it--you don't seem
to care about anything else."
The other was interested in that view of it, and he acknowledged
with mild amusement that it was true; apparently it was a novelty to
him to discuss such matters seriously. He told Thyrsis that he could
not remember having ever restrained a sexual impulse in his life. He
thought of lust in connection with every woman he met, and his mind
was a storehouse of smut. And yet he was not a bad fellow, in other
ways; he handsome, and a good deal of an athlete, and was planning
to be a physician. "You'll find most all the fellows are the same,"
Not long after this, Thyrsis was selected to represent his college
on a debating-team, and he went away to another city and was invited
to a fraternity-house; and here, suddenly, he discovered how much of
"college-life" he had been missing. This was a fashionable
university, and he met the sons of wealthy parents. About a score of
them lived in this fraternity-house, without any sort of supervision
or restraint. They ate in a beautiful oak-panelled dining-room
adorned with drinking-steins; and throughout the meal they treated
their visitor to such an orgy of obscenity as he had never dreamed
of in his life before. Thyrsis was trapped and could not get away;
and it seemed to him when he rose from the table that there was
nothing left clean in all God's universe. These boys appeared to vie
with each other in blasphemous abandonment; and it was not simply
wantonness--it was sprawling and disgusting filthiness.
One of this group took Thyrsis driving, and was led to talk. Here was
a youth whose father was the president of a great manufacturing-enterprise,
and supplied him with unlimited funds; which money the boy used to
divert himself in the pursuit of young women. Sometimes he had stooped
so low as manicure-girls and shop-clerks and stenographers; but for
the most part he sought actresses and chorus-girls--they had more
intelligence and spirit, he explained, they were harder to win. He
had his way with them, partly because he was handsome and clever, but
mainly because he was the keeper of the keys of opportunity. It was
his to dispense auto-rides and champagne-suppers, and flowers and
jewels, and all things else that were desirable in life.
Thyrsis was appalled at the hardness and the utter ruthlessness of
this man--he saw him as a young savage turned loose to prey in a
civilized community. He had the most supreme contempt for his
victims--that was what they were made for, and he paid them their
price. Nor was this just because they were women, it was a matter of
class; the young man had a mother and sisters, to whom he applied
quite other standards. But Thyrsis found himself wondering how long,
with this contagion raging among the fathers and the sons, it would
be possible to keep the mothers and the daughters sterilized.
Section 9. These discoveries came one by one; but Thyrsis saw enough
at the outset to make it clear that the time had come for him to
gird up his loins. The choice of Hercules was before him; and he did
not intend that the course of his life was to be decided by these
cravings of the animal within him.
From the grosser sorts of temptation he was always saved by the
fastidiousness of his temperament; the thought of a woman who sold
herself for money could never bring him anything but shuddering. But
all about his lodging-house lived the daughters of the poor, and
these were a snare for his feet. It seemed to him as if this craving
came to a man in regular pulses; he could go for weeks, serene and
happy in his work--and then suddenly would come the restlessness,
and he would go out into the night and wander about the streets for
hours, impelled by a futile yearning for he knew not what--the hope
of something clean in the midst of uncleanliness, of some adventure
that would be not quite shameful to a poet's fancy. And then, after
midnight, he would steal home, baffled and sick at heart, and wet
his pillow with hot and bitter tears!
So unbearable to him was the thought of such perils that he was
impelled to seek his old friend the clergyman, who had lost him over
the ancient Hebrew mythologies, and now won him back by his living
moral force. With much embarrassment and stammering Thyrsis managed
to give a hint of what troubled him; and the man, whose life was
made wholly of love for others, opened his great heart and took
He told him of his own youthful struggle--a struggle which had
resulted in victory, for he had never known a woman. And he put all
the facts before the boy, made clear to him the all-determining
importance of the issue:
"Choose well, your choice is
Brief and yet endless!"
On the one hand was slavery and degradation and disease; and on the
other were all the heights of the human spirit. For if one saved and
stored this mighty sex-energy, it became transmuted to the gold of
intellectual and emotional power. Such was the universal testimony
of the masters of the higher life--
"My strength is as the strength of ten
Because my heart is pure."
And this was no blind asceticism; it was simply a choosing of the
best. It was not a denial of love, but on the contrary a
consecration of love. Some day Thyrsis would meet the woman he was
to cleave to, and he would expect her to come to him a virgin; and
he must honor her as much--he must save the fire and fervor of his
young desire for his life's great consummation.
Such was the ideal; and these two men made a compact between them,
that once every month Thyrsis would write and tell of his success or
failure. And this amateur confessional was a mighty motive to the
lad--he knew that he could never tell a lie, and the thought of
telling the truth was like a sword hanging over him. There were
hours of trial, when he stood so close to the edge of the precipice
that this alone was what kept him clear.
Section 10. The summer had come, and Thyrsis had gone away to live
in a country village, and was reading Keats and Shelley, and the
narrative poems of Scott. There came a soft warm evening, when all
the world seemed a-dream; and he had been working hard, and there
came to him a yearning for the stars. He went out, and was strolling
through the streets of the village, when he saw a girl come out of
one of the houses. She was younger than he, graceful of form, and
pretty. The lamp-light flashed on her bright cheeks, and she smiled
at him as she passed. And Thyrsis' heart gave a great leap, and the
blood surged to his face; he turned and looked, and saw that she was
gazing over her shoulder at him.
He stopped, and turned to follow, his meditations all gone, and gone
his resolutions. A trembling seized him, and every nerve of him
tingled. He could feel his heart as if it were underneath his
In a moment more he was beside the girl. "May I join you?" he asked,
and she replied with a nod.
Thyrsis moved beside her and took her arm in his. A moment later
they came to a place where the road was dark, and he put his arm
about her waist; she made no resistance.
"I--I've seen you often before," she said.
"Yes," he replied, "I have seen you." And he suddenly remembered a
remark that he had heard about her. There was a large summer-hotel
in this neighborhood, which as usual had brought all the corruptions
of the city in its train; and a youth whom Thyrsis had met there had
pointed out the girl with the remark, "She's a little beast."
And this idea, as it came to him, swept him away in a fierce tide of
madness; he bent suddenly down and whispered into her ear. They were
words that never in Thyrsis' life had passed his lips before.
The girl pushed him away; but she laughed.
"You don't mind, do you?" exclaimed Thyrsis, his heart thumping like
"Listen," he whispered, bending towards her. "Let us go and take a
walk. Let us go where no one will see us."
"Where?" she asked.
"Out into the country," he said.
"Not now," she replied. "Some other time."
"No, now!" exclaimed Thyrsis, desperately. "Now!"
They had been moving slowly; they came to a place where a great tree
hung over the road, shadowing it; and there they stopped, as by one
"Listen to me," he whispered, swiftly. "Listen. You don't know how
anxious I have been to meet you. It's true--indeed it's true!"
He paused. "Yes," said the girl, "and I have been wanting to meet
you. Didn't you ever see me nod to you?"
And suddenly Thyrsis put his arms about her, and pressed her to him.
The touch of her bosom sent the blood driving through his veins in
torrents of fire; he no longer knew or cared what he said, or what
"Listen to me," he raced on. "Listen to me! Nobody will know! And
you are so beautiful, so beautiful! I love you!" The words burned
his lips, but he forced himself to say them, again and again--"I
The girl was gazing around her nervously. "Not now," she exclaimed.
"Not to-night. To-morrow I will meet you, to-morrow night, and go
"No," cried Thyrsis, "not to-morrow night, but now!" And he clasped
her yet more tightly, with all his strength. "Listen," he panted,
his breath on her cheek. "I love you! I cannot wait till to-morrow--
I could not bear it. I am all on fire! I should not know what to
The girl gazed about her again in uncertainty, and Thyrsis swept on
in his swift, half-incoherent exclamations. He would take no
refusal; for half his madness was terror of himself, and he knew it.
And then suddenly, as he cried out to her, the girl whispered,
faintly, "All right!" And his heart gave a throb that hurt him.
"I'll tell you," she went on, hastily, "I was going to the store for
something, and they expect me home. But wait here till I get back,
and then I'll go with you."
"You mean it?" whispered Thyrsis. "You mean it?"
"Yes, yes," she answered.
"And it will be soon?"
"All right," said he. "But first give me a kiss." As she held up her
face, Thyrsis pressed her to him, and kissed her again and again,
until her cheeks were aflame. At last he released her, and she
turned swiftly and darted up the street.
Section 11. And after she was gone the boy stood there motionless,
not stirring even a hand. A full minute passed, and the color went
out of his cheeks, and the fire out of his veins, and he could
hardly stand erect. His head sunk lower and lower, until suddenly he
whispered hoarsely, under his breath, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
He looked up at the sky, his face ghastly white; and there came from
his throat a low moan, like that of a wounded animal. Suddenly he
turned, and fled away down the street.
He went on and on, block after block; but then, all at once, he
stopped again and faced about. He gripped his hands until the nails
cut him, and shut his teeth together like a steel-trap. "No, no!" he
muttered. "No--you coward!"
He turned and began to march, grimly, as a soldier might; he went
back, and stopped on the spot from which he had come; and there he
stood, like a statue. So one minute passed, then another; and at
last a shadow moved in the distance, and a step came near. It was
"Here I am," she whispered, laughing.
"Yes," said Thyrsis. "I have something I must say to you, please."
She noticed the change in a flash, and she stopped. "What's the
"I don't know just how to tell you," said Thyrsis, in a low,
quivering voice. "I've been a hound, and now I don't want to be a
cad. But I'm sorry for what we were talking about."
"You mean what _you_ were talking about, don't you?" demanded the
girl, her eyes flashing.
Thyrsis dropped his glance. "Yes," he said. "I am a cur. I beg your
pardon. I am so ashamed of myself that I don't know what to do. But,
oh, I was crazy. I couldn't help it! and I--I'm so sorry!" There
were tears in his voice.
"Humph," said the girl, "it's all right."
"No," said Thyrsis, "it's all wrong. It's dreadful--it's horrible.
I don't know what I should have done---"
"Well, you better not do it any more, that's all," said she. "I'm
sure you needn't worry about me--I'll take care of myself."
Thyrsis looked at her again; she was no longer beautiful. Her face
was coarse, and her anger did not make it any better. His humility
made no impression.
"It is so wrong---" he began; but she interrupted him.
"Preaching won't help it any," she said. "I don't want to hear it.
So she turned and walked away; and Thyrsis stood there, white, and
shuddering, until at last he started and strode off. Clear through
the town he went, and out into the black country beyond, seeing
nothing, caring about nothing. He flung himself down by the
roadside, and lay there moaning for hours: "My God, my God, what
shall I do?"
Section 12. It was nearly morning when he came back and crept
upstairs to his room; and here he sat by the bedside, gazing at the
haggard face in the glass. At such times as this he discovered a
something in his features that filled him with shuddering; he
discovered it in his words, and in the very tone of his voice--the
sins of the fathers were being visited upon the children! What an
old, old story it was to him--this anguish and remorse! These
ecstasies of resolution that vanished like a cloud-wrack--these
protestations and noble sentiments that counted for naught in
conduct! And his was to be the whole heritage of impotence and
futility; he, too, was to struggle and agonize--and to finish with
his foot in the trap!
This idea was like a white-hot goad to him. After such an experience
there would be several months of toil and penance, and of savage
self-immolation. It was hard to punish a man who had so little; but
Thyrsis managed to find ways. For several months at a time he would
go without those kinds of food that he liked; and instead of going
to bed at one o'clock he would read the New Testament in Greek for
an hour. He would leap out of bed in the morning and plunge into
cold water; and at night, when he felt a longing upon him, he would
go out and run for hours.
He took to keeping diaries and writing exhortations to himself.
Because he could no longer use the theological prayers he had been
taught, he fashioned new invocations for himself: prayers to the
unknown sources of his vision, to the new powers of his own
soul--"the undiscovered gods," as he called them. Above all he
prayed to his vision of the maiden who waited the issue of this
battle, and held the crown of victory in her keeping--
"Somewhere beneath the sun,
Those quivering heart-strings prove it,
Somewhere there must be one
Made for this soul to love it--
Some one whom I could court
With no great change of manner,
Still holding reason's fort,
While waving fancy's banner!"
All of which things made a subtle change in his attitude to Corydon,
whom he still met occasionally. Corydon was now a young lady,
beautiful, even stately, with an indescribable atmosphere of
gentleness and purity about her. All things unclean shrunk from her
presence; and so in times of distress he liked to be with her. He
would drop vague hints as to sufferings and temptations, and told
her that she seemed like a "goddess" to him.
Corydon received this with some awe, but with more perplexity. She
could not understand why anyone should struggle so much, or why a
youth should take such a sombre view of things. But she was
perfectly willing to seem like a "goddess" to anyone, and she was
glad if that helped him. She was touched when he read her a poem of
his own, a poem which he held very precious. He called it
"A song of the young-eyed Cherubim
In the days of the making of man."
And in it he had set forth the view of life that had come to him--
"The quest of the spirit's gain--
Lured by the graces of pleasure,
And lashed by the furies of pain.
Thy weakness shall sigh for an Eden,
But the sword shall flame at the gate;
For far is the home of thy vision
And strong is the hand of thy fate!"
Section 13. Though Thyrsis had no time to realize it, it was in this
long and bitter struggle that he won whatever power he had in his
future life. It was here that he learned "to hold his will above him
as his law", and to defy the world for the sake of his ideal. And
then, too, this toil was the key that opened to him the
treasure-house of a new art--which was music.
Until he was nearly out of college Thyrsis had scarcely heard any
music at all. Church-hymns he had learned, and a few songs in
school. But now in poetry and other books he met with references to
composers, and to the meaning of great music; and the things that
were described there were the things he loved, and he began to feel
a great eagerness to get at them. As a first step he bought a
mandolin, and set to work to teach himself to play, a task at which
he wrought with great diligence. At the same time a friend had
bought a guitar, and the two set to work to play duets. The first
preliminary was the getting of the instruments in tune; and not
knowing that the mandolin is an octave higher than the guitar, they
spent a great deal of time and broke a great many guitar-strings.
As the next step, Thyrsis went to hear a great pianist, and sat
perplexed and wondering. There was a girl next to him who sobbed,
and Thyrsis watched her as he might have watched a house on fire.
Only once the pianist pleased _him_--when he played a pretty little
piece called somebody's "impromptu", in which he got a gleam of a
"tune." Poor Thyrsis went and got that piece, and took it home to
study it, with the help of the mandolin; but, alas, in the maze of
notes he could not even find the "tune."
But if he could not understand the music, he could read books about
it; he read a whole library--criticism of music, analysis of music,
histories of music, composers of music; and so gradually he learned
the difference between a sarabande and a symphony, and began to get
some idea of what he went out for to hear. At first, at the
concerts, all he could think of was to crane his neck and recognize
the different instruments; he heard whole symphonies, while doing
nothing but watching for the "movements," and making sure he hadn't
skipped any. One heartless composer ran two movements into one, and
so Thyrsis' concert came out one piece short at the end, and he sat
gazing about him in consternation when the audience rose to go.
Afterwards he read long dissertations about each symphony before he
went, and he would note down the important points and watch for
them. The critic would expatiate upon "the long-drawn dissonance
_forte_, that marks the close of the working-out portion"; and
Thyrsis would watch for that long-drawn dissonance, and be wondering
if it was never coming--when suddenly the whole symphony would come
to an end! Or he would read about a "quaint capering measure led off
by the bassoons," or a "frantic sweep of the violins over a trombone
melody," and he would watch for these events with eyes and ears
alert, and if he found them--_eureka_!
But such things could not last forever; for Thyrsis had a heart full
of eagerness and love, and of such is the soul of music. And just
then was a time when he was sick and worn--when it seemed to him
that the burden of his life was more than he could bear. He was
haunted by the thought that he would lose his long battle, that he
would go under and go down; and then it was that chance took him to
a concert which closed with the great "C-Minor Symphony."
Thyrsis had read a life of Beethoven, and he knew that here was one
of the hero-souls--a man who had grappled with the fiends, and
passed through the valley of death. And now he read accounts of this
titan symphony, and learned that it was a battle of the human spirit
with despair. He read Beethoven's words about the opening theme--"So
knocks fate upon the door!" And a fierce and overwhelming longing
possessed him to get at the soul of that symphony.
He went to the concert, and heard nothing of the rest of the music,
but sat like a man in a dream; and when the time came for the
symphony, he was trembling with excitement. There was a long
silence; and then suddenly came the first theme--those fearful
hammer-strokes that cannot be thought without a shudder. They beat
upon Thyrsis' very heart-strings, and he sat appalled; and straight
out he went upon the tide of that mighty music-passion--without
knowing it, without knowing how. He forgot that he was trying to
understand a symphony; he forgot where he was, and what he was; he
only knew that gigantic phantoms surged within him, that his soul
was a hundred times itself. He never guessed that an orchestra was
playing a second theme; he only knew that he saw a light gleam out
of the storm, that he heard a voice, pitiful, fearful, beautiful
beyond utterance, crying out to the furies for mercy; and that then
the storm closed over it with a roar. Again and again it rose;
Thyrsis did not know that this was the "working-out portion" that
had forever been his bane. He only knew that it struggled and fought
his fight, that it pleaded and sobbed, and rose higher and higher,
and began to rejoice--and that then came the great black
phantom-shape sweeping over it; and the iron hammer-strokes of Fate
beat down upon it, crushed it and trampled it into annihilation.
Again and again this happened, while Thyrsis sat clutching the seat,
and shaking with wonder and excitement. Never in his experience had
there been anything so vast, so awful; it was more than he could
bear, and when the first movement came to an end--when the soul's
last hope was dead--he got up and rushed out. People who passed him
on the streets must have thought that he was crazy; and afterwards,
that day and forever, he lived all his soul's life in music.
As a result of this Thyrsis paid all his bank-account for a violin,
and went to see a teacher.
"You are too old," the teacher said.
But Thyrsis answered, "I will work as no one ever worked before."
"We all do that," replied the other, with a smile. And so they
And so all day long, with fingers raw, and arms and back shuddering
with exhaustion, Thyrsis sat and practiced, the spirit of Music
beckoning him on. It was in a boarding-house, and there was a
nervous old man in the next room, and in the end Thyrsis had to
move. By the time he went away to the country, he was able to play a
melody in tune; and then he would take some one that had fascinated
him, and practice it and practice it night and day. He would take
his fiddle every morning at eight and stride out into the forest,
and there he would stay all day with the squirrels. They told him
once how a new arrival, driving over in the hotel 'bus at early
dawn, had passed an old Italian woman toiling up a hill and singing
for dear life the "Tannhauser March." It chanced that the new
arrival was a musician, and he leaned out and asked the old woman
where she had learned it. And this was her explanation;
"Dey ees a crazy feller in de woods--he play it all day for tree
Section 14. By this time Thyrsis had finished at college, passing
comfortably near the bottom of his class, and had betaken himself to
a university as a graduate student. He was duly registered for a lot
of courses, and spent his time when he should have been at the
lectures, sitting in a vacant class-room reading the book that had
fascinated him last. His note-book began at that time to show two
volumes a day on an average, and once or twice he stopped at night
to wonder how it had actually been possible for him to read poetry
fourteen hours a day for a whole week and not be tired.
He taught himself German, and that led to another great
discovery--he made the acquaintance of Goethe. The power of that
mighty spirit took hold of him, so that he prayed to him when he was
lonely, and kept the photograph of the young poet in his pocket, to
gaze at it as at a lover. The great eyes came to haunt him so that
one night he awoke crying out, because he had dreamed he was going
to meet Goethe.
In the catalog of the university there were listed a number of
courses in "rhetoric and English composition". They were for the
purpose of teaching one how to write, and the catalog set forth
convincingly the methods whereby this was done. Thyrsis wished to
know all there was to know about writing, and so ne enrolled himself
for an advanced course, and went for an hour every day and listened
to expositions of the elements of sentence-structure by Prof.
Osborne, author of "American Prose Writers" and "The Science of
Rhetoric". The professor would give him a theme, and bid him bring
in a five-hundred word composition. Perhaps it was that Thyrsis was
lacking in the play-spirit; at any rate he could not write
convincingly on the subject of "The Duty of the College Man to
Support Athletics." He struggled for a month against his own
impotence, and then went to see his instructor.
"I think," he said, "I shall have to drop Course A."
The professor gazed over his spectacles at him.
"I don't think I am getting any good out of it."
"But how can you tell what good you are getting?"
"I don't seem to feel that I am," said Thyrsis, deprecatingly.
"It is not to be supposed that you would feel it," said the
other--"not at this early stage. You must wait."
"But I don't like the method, sir."
"What's wrong with the method?"
Thyrsis was embarrassed. He was not sure, he said; but he did not
think that writing could be taught. Anyway, one had first to have
something worth saying--
"Are you laboring under the delusion that you know anything about
writing?" demanded the professor. (He had written across Thyrsis'
last composition the words, "Feeble and trivial".)
"Why, no," began the boy.
"Because if you are, let me disabuse your mind at once. There is no
one in the class who knows less about writing than yourself."
"I think," said Thyrsis, "it's because I can't bring myself to write
in cold blood. I have to be interested. I'm sure that is the
"I'm sure," said the other, "that the trouble is that you think you
know too much."
"I'm sorry, sir," said Thyrsis, humbly. "I've tried my best---"
"It is my business to teach students to write. I've given my life to
that, and I think I know something about it. But you think you know
more than I do. That's all."
And so they parted. Thyrsis kept a vivid recollection of this
interview, for the reason that at a later stage of his career he
came into contact with Prof. Osborne again, and got another glimpse
of the authoritarian attitude towards the art of letters.
Section 15. Thyrsis had not many friends at college, and none at all
at the university. He had no time to make any; and besides, there
was a certain facetious senior who had caught him hurrying through
the corridors one day, declaring in excitement that---
"Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow!"
But he had long ago ceased to hope for a friend, or to care what
anybody thought about him; it was clear to him by this time that he
had made himself into a poet, and was doomed to be unhappy. His
mother had given up all hope of seeing him a bishop, and they had
compromised upon a judgeship; but here at the university there was a
law-school, and he met the students, and saw that this, too, could
not be. These "lawyers" were not seeking knowledge for the love of
it--they were studying a trade, by which they could rise in the
world. They were not going out to do battle for truth and
justice--they were perfecting themselves in cunning, so that they
might be of help in money-disputes; they were sharpening their wits,
to make them useful tools for the opening of treasure-chests. And
this attitude to life was written all over their personalities; they
seemed to Thyrsis a coarse and roistering crew, and he shrunk from
them in repugnance.
He went his own impetuous way. He stayed at the university until he
had taught himself French and Italian, as well as German, and had
read all the best literature in those languages. And likewise he
heard all the best music, and went about full of it day and night.
By this time he had definitely beaten his devils, and had come to be
master of himself; and though nobody guessed anything about it,
there was a new marvel going on within him--he had, in a spiritual
sense, become pregnant.
There were many signs by which this state might have been known. He
went quite alone, and spoke to no man; he was self-absorbed, and
walked about with his eyes fixed on vacancy; he was savage when
disturbed, and guarded his time unscrupulously. He had given up the
very last of the formalities of life--he no longer attended any
lectures, or wore cuffs, and he would not talk at meal-times. He
took long walks at impossible hours, and he was fond of a certain
high hill where the storms blew. These things had been going on for
a year; and now the book that had been coming to ripeness in his
mind was ready to be born.
It had its origin in the reading of history, and the fronting of old
tyranny in its cruel forms. Thyrsis had come to hate Christianity
for many things by that time, but most of all he hated it because it
taught the bastard virtue of Obedience. Thyrsis obeyed no man--he
lived his life; and the fiery ardor with which he lived it was
taking form in his mind as a personality. He was dreaming a hero who
should be _Resistance_ incarnate; the passionate assertion of man's
right and of man's defiance.
It was in the days of ferocity in Italy, the days of the despot and
the bravo; and Thyrsis' hero was a minstrel, a mighty musician whose
soul was free. And he sung in the despot's hall, and wooed the
despot's daughter. This was the minstrel of "Zulieka"---
"His ladder of song was slight,
But it reached to her window's height;
Each verse so frail was the silken rail,
From which her soul took flight."
Thyrsis went about quite drunk with the burning words with which the
minstrel won the lady, and tore her free from the mockeries of
convention, and that divinity that doth hedge about a princess. He
bore her away, locked tightly in his arms, and all his own--into the
great lonely mountains; and there lived the minstrel and the
princess, the lord and the lady of an outlaw band. But the outlaws
were cruel, and the minstrel sought goodness; and so there was a
struggle, and he and the lady went yet deeper into the black forest,
where they dwelt alone in a hut, he a prince of hunters and she a
princess of love. But the outlaws led the despot to the place, and
there was a battle; the princess was slain, and the minstrel escaped
in the darkness. All night he roamed the forest, and in the morning
he lay by the roadside with a bow in his hand, and when the despot
rode by he rose and drove the shaft through his heart. Then they
captured him, and tortured him, and he died with a song of mockery
and defiance upon his lips.
Section 16. Now, when these things first came to Thyrsis, he
whispered in awe that it would be a life-time before he could write
them. And a year passed thus, while every emotion of his life poured
itself into some part of that story, and every note of music that he
heard came out of the minstrel's heart. At last the time came when
he was so full of it that he could no longer find peace; when the
wonder of it was such that he walked along the street laughing, and
with tears in his eyes. Then he said to himself, "It must be done!
Now! Now!" And he looked about him as a woman might, seeking some
place for her labor.
That was in the late winter, when the professors at the university,
and all his relatives and acquaintances, had given him up as a
hopeless case. He had stopped all his writing for money--he had a
hundred dollars laid by, and that would suffice him; and he was
wandering about whispering to himself: "The spring-time! The
spring-time! For it must be in the country!" When April had come he
could stand it no longer--he must go! So he left all behind him, and
set out for a place in the wilderness.
When he reached it, he found a lake that was all ice, and mountains
that were all snow; the country people, who had never seen a poet,
and knew not the subtle difference between inspiration and insanity,
heard with wonder that he was going out into the woods. But he set
out alone, through the snowy forest and along the lake-shore, to
find some place far away, where he could build a hut, or even put up
a tent; and when he was miles from the village, he came suddenly on
a little wonderland that made his heart leap like the wild deer in
the brake. Here was a dreamland palace, a vision beyond all
thinking--a little shanty built of logs! It stood in a pretty dell,
with a mountain streamlet dashing through it, and the mighty forest
hiding it, and the lake spread out in front of it. It was all wet
snow, and freezing rain, and mud and desolation; but Thyrsis saw the
summer that was to be, and he sat down upon a stone and gazed at it,
and laughed and sang for wonder and joy.
Then he fled back to the village, and found the owner of the earthly
rights to this paradise, and hired it for a little gold; and then he
moved out, in spite of the snow. At last his soul was free!
Twice a week they brought him provisions, and there he stayed. At
first he nearly froze at night, and he had to write with his gloves
on; but he did not feel the cold, because of the fire within. He
climbed the mountains and yelled with the mad wind, and tramped
through the bare, rocking forest, singing his minstrel songs. And
all these days he walked with God, and there was no world at all
save the world of nature. Millions of young-hearted things sprang up
out of the ground to welcome him; the forests shook out their
dazzling sheen, and the wild birds went mad in the mornings. All the
time Thyrsis was writing, writing--thrilling with his ecstasy, and
pouring out all his soul. He kept a little diary these days, and for
weeks there was but one entry--"The book! The book!"
And then one day came a letter from his mother, saying that she was
coming to the village nearby to spend the summer; also that
Corydon's mother was coming, and that Corydon would be with her!
_The streamlet tinkled on. She sat, gazing about her at each
familiar tree and rock. And meanwhile he was reading again from the
"Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assay'd!"
"Is that from 'Thyrsis'?" she asked. "Read me those lines that we
used, to love so much."
And so he turned the page, and read again--
"A fugitive and gracious light he seeks,
Shy to illumine; and I seek it, too.
This does not come with houses or with gold,
With place, with honor, and a flattering crew:
'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold--
But the smooth-slipping weeks
Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired;
Out of the heed of mortals he is gone,
He wends unfollow'd, he must house alone;
Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired."_
Section 1. On the train Corydon was writing a letter to a friend, to
say where she was going, and that Thyrsis was there. "I don't expect
to see anything of him," she wrote. "He grows more egotistical and
more contemptuous every day, and I cordially dislike him."
But when a man has spent three or four weeks with no company save
the squirrels and the owls, there comes over him a mood of
sociability, when the sight of a friendly face is an event. Thyrsis
had now written several chapters of his book, and the first fury of
his creative impulse had spent itself. So when Corydon stepped from
the train, she found him waiting there to greet her; and he told her
that he was laying in supplies for a feast, and that on the morrow
she and her mother were to come out and see his fairy-palace and
have a picnic dinner.
They came; and the May put on her finest raiment for their greeting.
The sun shone warm and bright, and there was a humming and stirring
in grass and thicket; one could feel the surge of the spring-time
growth as a living flood. There was a glory of young green over the
hill-sides, and a quivering sheen of white in the aspens and
birches. Corydon clasped her hands and cried out in rapture when she
And Thyrsis, picturesque in his old corduroy trousers and his grey
flannel shirt, played the host. He showed them his domestic
establishment--wherein things were set in order for the first time
since he had come. He told all his adventures: how the cold had
crept in at night, and he had to fiddle to keep his courage up; how
he had slept in a canvas-cot for the first time, and piled all the
bedding on top, and wondered that he was cold; how he had left the
pail with the freshly-roasted beef on the piazza, and a wild cat had
carried off pail and all. He made fun of his amateur house-keeping--
he would forget things and let them burn, or let the fire go out;
and he had tried living altogether on cold food, to the great
perplexity of his stomach.
Then he gave a demonstration of his hard-won culinary skill. He
boiled rice and raisins, and fried bacon and eggs; and they had
fresh bread and butter, and jam and pickles, and a festive cake. And
after they had feasted, Thyrsis stretched himself and leaned back
against the trunk of a tree, and gazed up at the sky, quoting the
words of a certain one-eyed Kalandar, son of a king, "Verily, this
indeed is life! 'Tis pity 'tis fleeting!"
Afterwards he took Corydon for a walk. They climbed the hill where
he came to battle with the stormwinds, and to watch the sunsets and
the moon rising over the lake. And then they went down into the
glen, where the mountain streamlet tumbled. Here had been
wood-sorrel, and a carpet of the white trillium; and now there was
adder's tongue, quaint and saucy, and columbine, and the pale dusty
corydalis. There was soft new moss underfoot, and one walked as if
in a temple.
Thyrsis pointed out a seat beside a deep bubbling pool. "Here's
where I sit and write," he said.
"And how comes the book?" asked Corydon.
"Oh, I'm hammering at it--that's the best I can say."
"What is it?"
"Why--it's a story. I suppose it'll be called a romance, though I
don't like the word."
Corydon pondered for a moment. "I wouldn't expect you to be writing
anything romantic," she said.
Thyrsis, occupied with his own thoughts, observed, "I might call it
a revolutionary romance."
"What is it about?"
He hesitated. "It happens in the middle ages," he said. "There's a
minstrel and a princess."
"That sounds interesting," said Corydon.
Now in the period of pregnancy the artist's mood is one of
secretiveness. But afterwards there comes a time for promulgation
and rejoicing; and already there had been hints of this in the mind
of Thyrsis. The great secret that he was cherishing--what would be
the world's reception of it? And now suddenly a wild idea came to
him. He had heard somewhere that it is the women who read fiction.
And was not Corydon a perfect specimen of the average middle-class
young lady, and therefore of that mysterious potentiality, "the
public", to which he must appeal? Why not see what she would think
He took the plunge. "Would you like me to read it to you?" he asked.
"Why, certainly," she replied, and then added, gently, "If it
wouldn't be a desecration."
"Oh, no," said Thyrsis. "You see, when it's been printed, all sorts
of people will read it."
So he went back to the house and brought the precious manuscript;
and he placed Corydon in the seat of inspiration, and sat beside her
In many ways this was a revolutionary romance. Thyrsis had not spent
any of his time delving into other people's books for "local color";
he was not relying for his effects upon gabardines and hauberks, and
a sprinkling of "Yea, sires," and "prithees." His castle was but the
vaguely outlined background of a stage upon which living hearts
wrought out their passions. One saw the banquet-hall, with its
tapestries and splendor, and the master of it, the man of force;
there were swift scenes that gave one a glimpse of the age-long
state of things--
"Right forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne."
There was a quarrel, and a cruel sentence about to be executed; and
then the minstrel came. His fame had come before him, and so the
despot, in half-drunken playfulness, left the deciding of the
quarrel to him. He was brought to the head of the table, and the
princess was led in; and so these two met face to face.
Here Thyrsis paused, and asked, "Are you interested?"
"Go on, go on," said Corydon.
So he read about his princess, who was the embodiment of all the
virtues of the unknown goddess of his fancy. She was proud yet
humble, aloof yet compassionate, and above all ineffably beautiful.
And as for the minstrel--
"The minstrel was fair and young.
His heart was of love and fire."
He took his harp, and first he pacified the quarrel, and then he
sang to the lady. He sang of love, and the poet's vision of beauty;
but most of all he sang of the free life of the open. He sang of the
dreams and the spirit-companions of the minstrel, and of the
wondrous magic that he wields--
"Secrets of all future ages
Hover in mine ecstasy;
Treasures never known to mortals
Hath my fancy hid for thee!"
He sang the spells that he would weave for her, the far journeys she
"For thy soul a river flowing
Swiftly, over golden sands,
With the singing of the steersman
Stealing into wonderlands!"
Section 2. This song was as far as Thyrsis had written, and he
paused. Corydon was sitting with her hands clasped, and a look of
enthrallment upon her face. "Oh, beautiful! beautiful!" she cried.
A thrill of pleasure went through the poet. "You like it, then?" he
"Oh, I like it!" she answered. And then she gazed at him, with
wide-open eyes of amazement. "But you! You!" she exclaimed.
"Why not I?" he asked.
"How in the world did you do it? Where did you get it from?"
"It is mine," said Thyrsis, quickly.
"But I can't imagine it! I had no idea you were interested in such
"But how could you know what I am interested in?"
"I see how you live--apart from everybody. And you spend all your
time in books!"
Thyrsis suddenly recollected something which had amused him very
much. Corydon had been reading "Middlemarch," and had told him that
Dr. Casaubon reminded her of him. "And so I'm still just a bookworm
to you!" he laughed.
"But isn't your interest in things always intellectual?" she asked.
"Then you suppose I'm doing this just as an exercise in technique?"
"It's taken me quite by surprise," said Corydon.
"We have three faculties in us," Thyrsis propounded--"intellect,
feeling, and will; and to be a complete human being, we have to
develop all of them."
"But you spend so much time piling up learning!"
"I need to know a great many things," he said. "I'm not conscious of
studying anything I don't need for my purpose."
"What is the purpose?" she asked.
He touched the precious manuscript. "This," he said.
There was a pause.
"But you lose so much when you cut yourself off from the world,"
said Corydon. "And there are other people, whom you might help."
"People don't need my help; or at least, they don't want it."
"But how can you know that--if you never go among them?"
"I can judge by the lives they live."
"Ah!" exclaimed Corydon, quickly, "but people aren't to blame for
the lives they live!"
"Why not?" he asked.
"Because--they can't help them. They are bound fast."
"They should break loose."
"That is easy for you to say," said Corydon. "You have no ties."
"I did have them--I might have them still. But I broke them."
"Ah, but you are a man!"
"What difference does that make?"
"It makes all the difference in the world. You can earn money, you
can go away by yourself. But suppose you were a girl--shut up in a
home, and told that that was your 'sphere'?"
"I'd fight," said Thyrsis--"I'd break my way out somehow, never
fear. If one doesn't break out, it simply means that his desire is
not strong enough."
Thyrsis had been surprised at the depth of Corydon's interest in his
manuscript; he had not supposed that she would be so susceptible to
anything of the imagination. And now he was surprised to see that
her hands were clenched tightly, and that she sat staring ahead of
"Are you dissatisfied with your life?" he asked.
"Is there anything in it that I could be satisfied with?" she cried.
"I had no idea of that," he said.
"No," she replied; "that only shows how stupid you can be!"
"But--you never showed any signs--"
"Didn't you know that I was trying to prepare for college last
"Yes; but you gave it up."
"What could I do? I had no help--no encouragement. I was groping
like a blind person. And I told you about it."
"But I told you what to study," objected Thyrsis.
"Yes," said the girl; "but how could I do it? You know how to
study--you've been taught. But I don't know anything, and I don't
know how to find anything out. I began on the Latin, but I didn't
even know how the words should be pronounced."
"Nobody else knows that," observed Thyrsis, somewhat inconsequently.
"It was all so dull and dreary," she went on--"everything they would
have had me learn. I wanted things that had life in them, things
that were beautiful and worth while--like this book of yours, for
"I am really delighted that you like it," said Thyrsis, touched by
"Tell me the rest of it," she said.
Section 3. Thyrsis told his story at some length; in the ardor of
her sympathy his imagination took fire, and he told it eloquently,
he discovered new beauties in it that he had not seen before. And
Corydon listened with growing delight and amazement.
"So that is the way you spend your time!" she exclaimed.
"That is the way," he said.
"And that is why you live like a hermit!"
"Yes, that is why."
"And you think that you would lose your vision if you went among
"I know that I should."
"But how do you know?"
"I know because I have tried. You don't realize how hard I have to
work over a thing like this. I have carried it in my mind for a
year; I have lived for nothing else--I have literally had no other
interest in the world. Every sentence I have read to you has been
the product of work added to work--of one impulse piled upon
another--of thinking and criticizing and revising. Just the little
bit I have done has taken me a whole month, and I have hardly
stopped to eat; it's been my first thought in the morning and my
last at night. And when the mood of it comes to me, then I work in a
kind of frenzy that lasts for hours and even days; and if I give up
in the middle and fall back, then I have to do it all over again.
It's like toiling up a mountain-side."
"I see," whispered Corydon. "And then, do you expect to have no
human relationships as long as you live?"
Thyrsis pondered for a moment. "Did you ever read Mrs. Browning's
poem, 'A Musical Instrument'?" he asked.
"No," she answered.
"It's a most beautiful poem," he said; "and it's hardly ever quoted
or read, that I can find. It tells how the great god Pan came down
by the river-bank, and cut one of the reeds to make himself a pipe.
He sat there and played his music upon it--
'Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies reviv'd, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river.
'Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man.
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain,--
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.'"
Thyrsis paused. "Do you see what it means?" he asked.
"Yes," said Corydon, "I see."
"'Making a poet out of a man!' That is one of the finest lines I
know. And that's the way I feel about it--I have given up all other
duties in the world. If I can write one book, or even one poem, that
will be an inspiration to men in the future--why, then I have done
far more than I could do by a lifetime given to helping people
"I never understood before," said Corydon.
"That is the idea the minstrel tries to voice to the princess. At
first he pours out his soul to her; but then, when he finds that she
loves him, he is afraid, and tries to persuade her not to come with
him. He tells her how lonely and stern his life is; and she has been
born to a gentle life--she has her station and her duty in the
world. But the more he pleads the hardness of his life, the more she
sees she must go with him. Even if the end be death to her, still
she will be an inspiration to him, and give wings to his music. 'Be
silent,' she tells him--'let me fling myself away for a song! To do
one deed that the world remembers, to utter one word that lives
forever--that is worth all the failure and the agony that can come
to one woman in her lifetime!'"
Corydon sat with her hands clasped. "Yes," she said, "that is the
way she would feel!"
"I'm glad to hear you say that," remarked the other. "I must make it
real; and I've been afraid about it. Would she really go with him?"
"She would go if she loved him," said Corydon.
"If she loved him. But she must love his art still more."
"She must love _him,"_ said Corydon.
Thyrsis shook his head. "It would not do for her to go with him for
that," he said.
"Why not? Doesn't he love her?"
"Yes; but he is afraid to tell her so. They dare not let that sway
"I don't understand. Why not?"
"Because personal love is a limited thing, and comparatively an
"I don't see how there can be anything more noble than true love
between a man and a woman," declared Corydon.
"It depends on what you mean by 'true' love," replied Thyrsis. "If
two people love each other for their own sakes, and go together,
they soon come to know each other, and then they are satisfied--and
their growth is at an end. What I conceive is that two people must
lose themselves, and all thought of themselves, in their common love
for something higher--for some great ideal, some purpose, some
vision of perfection. And they seek this together, and they rejoice
in finding it, each for the other; and so they have always progress
and growth--they stand for something new to each other every day of
their lives. To such love there is no end, and no chance of
weariness or satiety."
"I had never thought of it just so," said the girl. "But surely
there must be a personal love in the beginning."
"I don't know," he responded. "I hadn't thought about that. I'm
afraid I'm impersonal by nature."
"Yes," she said, "that's what has puzzled me. Don't you love human
"Not as a rule," he confessed.
"But then--what is it you are interested in? Yourself?"
"People tell me that's the case. And there's a sense in which it's
true--I'm wrapped up in the thought of myself as an art-work. I've a
certain vision of the possibilities of my own being, and I'm trying