Part 3 out of 8
happened to be in a good humor, so I satisfied his curiosity by a simple
and precise 'yes.' Being rather a sensible man, after his fashion, he
dropped the subject."
"Except to say that he hated me."
"Oh, it worries you? Well, if you must probe this stupendous matter to
its depths he didn't say he hated you. I simply know he does."
"It doesn't wor----"
"Oh, let's drop it!" she cried spiritedly. "It's a most uninteresting
matter to me."
With a tremendous effort Anthony made his acquiescence a twist of
subject, and they drifted into an ancient question-and-answer game
concerned with each other's pasts, gradually warming as they discovered
the age-old, immemorial resemblances in tastes and ideas. They said
things that were more revealing than they intended--but each pretended
to accept the other at face, or rather word, value.
The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best
picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood
and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second
portrait, and a third--before long the best lines cancel out--and the
secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled
and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a
picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of
ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates
are accepted as true.
"It seems to me," Anthony was saying earnestly, "that the position of a
man with neither necessity nor ambition is unfortunate. Heaven knows
it'd be pathetic of me to be sorry for myself--yet, sometimes I
Her silence was encouragement. It was as near as she ever came to an
"--And there used to be dignified occupations for a gentleman who had
leisure, things a little more constructive than filling up the landscape
with smoke or juggling some one else's money. There's science, of
course: sometimes I wish I'd taken a good foundation, say at Boston
Tech. But now, by golly, I'd have to sit down for two years and struggle
through the fundamentals of physics and chemistry."
"I've told you I don't know what anybody ought to do," she said
ungraciously, and at her indifference his rancor was born again.
"Aren't you interested in anything except yourself?"
He glared; his growing enjoyment in the conversation was ripped to
shreds. She had been irritable and vindictive all day, and it seemed to
him that for this moment he hated her hard selfishness. He stared
morosely at the fire.
Then a strange thing happened. She turned to him and smiled, and as he
saw her smile every rag of anger and hurt vanity dropped from him--as
though his very moods were but the outer ripples of her own, as though
emotion rose no longer in his breast unless she saw fit to pull an
omnipotent controlling thread.
He moved closer and taking her hand pulled her ever so gently toward him
until she half lay against his shoulder. She smiled up at him as he
"Gloria," he whispered very softly. Again she had made a magic, subtle
and pervading as a spilt perfume, irresistible and sweet.
Afterward, neither the next day nor after many years, could he remember
the important things of that afternoon. Had she been moved? In his arms
had she spoken a little--or at all? What measure of enjoyment had she
taken in his kisses? And had she at any time lost herself ever
Oh, for him there was no doubt. He had risen and paced the floor in
sheer ecstasy. That such a girl should be; should poise curled in a
corner of the couch like a swallow newly landed from a clean swift
flight, watching him with inscrutable eyes. He would stop his pacing
and, half shy each time at first, drop his arm around her and find
She was fascinating, he told her. He had never met any one like her
before. He besought her jauntily but earnestly to send him away; he
didn't want to fall in love. He wasn't coming to see her any
more--already she had haunted too many of his ways.
What delicious romance! His true reaction was neither fear nor
sorrow--only this deep delight in being with her that colored the
banality of his words and made the mawkish seem sad and the posturing
seem wise. He _would_ come back--eternally. He should have known!
"This is all. It's been very rare to have known you, very strange and
wonderful. But this wouldn't do--and wouldn't last." As he spoke there
was in his heart that tremulousness that we take for sincerity in
Afterward he remembered one reply of hers to something he had asked her.
He remembered it in this form--perhaps he had unconsciously arranged and
"A woman should be able to kiss a man beautifully and romantically
without any desire to be either his wife or his mistress."
As always when he was with her she seemed to grow gradually older until
at the end ruminations too deep for words would be wintering in
An hour passed, and the fire leaped up in little ecstasies as though its
fading life was sweet. It was five now, and the clock over the mantel
became articulate in sound. Then as if a brutish sensibility in him was
reminded by those thin, tinny beats that the petals were falling from
the flowered afternoon, Anthony pulled her quickly to her feet and held
her helpless, without breath, in a kiss that was neither a game nor
Her arms fell to her side. In an instant she was free.
"Don't!" she said quietly. "I don't want that."
She sat down on the far side of the lounge and gazed straight before
her. A frown had gathered between her eyes. Anthony sank down beside her
and closed his hand over hers. It was lifeless and unresponsive.
"Why, Gloria!" He made a motion as if to put his arm about her but she
"I don't want that," she repeated.
"I'm very sorry," he said, a little impatiently. "I--I didn't know you
made such fine distinctions."
She did not answer.
"Won't you kiss me, Gloria?"
"I don't want to." It seemed to him she had not moved for hours.
"A sudden change, isn't it?" Annoyance was growing in his voice.
"Is it?" She appeared uninterested. It was almost as though she were
looking at some one else.
"Perhaps I'd better go."
No reply. He rose and regarded her angrily, uncertainly. Again he sat
"Gloria, Gloria, won't you kiss me?"
"No." Her lips, parting for the word, had just faintly stirred.
Again he got to his feet, this time with less decision, less confidence.
"Then I'll go."
"All right--I'll go."
He was aware of a certain irremediable lack of originality in his
remarks. Indeed he felt that the whole atmosphere had grown oppressive.
He wished she would speak, rail at him, cry out upon him, anything but
this pervasive and chilling silence. He cursed himself for a weak fool;
his clearest desire was to move her, to hurt her, to see her wince.
Helplessly, involuntarily, he erred again.
"If you're tired of kissing me I'd better go."
He saw her lips curl slightly and his last dignity left him. She spoke,
"I believe you've made that remark several times before."
He looked about him immediately, saw his hat and coat on a
chair--blundered into them, during an intolerable moment. Looking again
at the couch he perceived that she had not turned, not even moved. With
a shaken, immediately regretted "good-by" he went quickly but without
dignity from the room.
For over a moment Gloria made no sound. Her lips were still curled; her
glance was straight, proud, remote. Then her eyes blurred a little, and
she murmured three words half aloud to the death-bound fire:
"Good-by, you ass!" she said.
The man had had the hardest blow of his life. He knew at last what he
wanted, but in finding it out it seemed that he had put it forever
beyond his grasp. He reached home in misery, dropped into an armchair
without even removing his overcoat, and sat there for over an hour, his
mind racing the paths of fruitless and wretched self-absorption. She had
sent him away! That was the reiterated burden of his despair. Instead of
seizing the girl and holding her by sheer strength until she became
passive to his desire, instead of beating down her will by the force of
his own, he had walked, defeated and powerless, from her door, with the
corners of his mouth drooping and what force there might have been in
his grief and rage hidden behind the manner of a whipped schoolboy. At
one minute she had liked him tremendously--ah, she had nearly loved him.
In the next he had become a thing of indifference to her, an insolent
and efficiently humiliated man.
He had no great self-reproach--some, of course, but there were other
things dominant in him now, far more urgent. He was not so much in love
with Gloria as mad for her. Unless he could have her near him again,
kiss her, hold her close and acquiescent, he wanted nothing more from
life. By her three minutes of utter unwavering indifference the girl had
lifted herself from a high but somehow casual position in his mind, to
be instead his complete preoccupation. However much his wild thoughts
varied between a passionate desire for her kisses and an equally
passionate craving to hurt and mar her, the residue of his mind craved
in finer fashion to possess the triumphant soul that had shone through
those three minutes. She was beautiful--but especially she was without
mercy. He must own that strength that could send him away.
At present no such analysis was possible to Anthony. His clarity of
mind, all those endless resources which he thought his irony had brought
him were swept aside. Not only for that night but for the days and weeks
that followed his books were to be but furniture and his friends only
people who lived and walked in a nebulous outer world from which he was
trying to escape--that world was cold and full of bleak wind, and for a
little while he had seen into a warm house where fires shone.
About midnight he began to realize that he was hungry. He went down into
Fifty-second Street, where it was so cold that he could scarcely see;
the moisture froze on his lashes and in the corners of his lips.
Everywhere dreariness had come down from the north, settling upon the
thin and cheerless street, where black bundled figures blacker still
against the night, moved stumbling along the sidewalk through the
shrieking wind, sliding their feet cautiously ahead as though they were
on skis. Anthony turned over toward Sixth Avenue, so absorbed in his
thoughts as not to notice that several passers-by had stared at him. His
overcoat was wide open, and the wind was biting in, hard and full of
... After a while a waitress spoke to him, a fat waitress with
black-rimmed eye-glasses from which dangled a long black cord.
Her voice, he considered, was unnecessarily loud. He looked up
"You wanna order or doncha?"
"Of course," he protested.
"Well, I ast you three times. This ain't no rest-room."
He glanced at the big clock and discovered with a start that it was
after two. He was down around Thirtieth Street somewhere, and after a
moment he found and translated the
[Transcribers note: The illustration shows the word "CHILD's" in mirror
in a white semicircle of letters upon the glass front. The place was
inhabited sparsely by three or four bleak and half-frozen night-hawks.
"Give me some bacon and eggs and coffee, please."
The waitress bent upon him a last disgusted glance and, looking
ludicrously intellectual in her corded glasses, hurried away.
God! Gloria's kisses had been such flowers. He remembered as though it
had been years ago the low freshness of her voice, the beautiful lines
of her body shining through her clothes, her face lily-colored under the
lamps of the street--under the lamps.
Misery struck at him again, piling a sort of terror upon the ache and
yearning. He had lost her. It was true--no denying it, no softening it.
But a new idea had seared his sky--what of Bloeckman! What would happen
now? There was a wealthy man, middle-aged enough to be tolerant with a
beautiful wife, to baby her whims and indulge her unreason, to wear her
as she perhaps wished to be worn--a bright flower in his button-hole,
safe and secure from the things she feared. He felt that she had been
playing with the idea of marrying Bloeckman, and it was well possible
that this disappointment in Anthony might throw her on sudden impulse
into Bloeckman's arms.
The idea drove him childishly frantic. He wanted to kill Bloeckman and
make him suffer for his hideous presumption. He was saying this over and
over to himself with his teeth tight shut, and a perfect orgy of hate
and fright in his eyes.
But, behind this obscene jealousy, Anthony was in love at last,
profoundly and truly in love, as the word goes between man and woman.
His coffee appeared at his elbow and gave off for a certain time a
gradually diminishing wisp of steam. The night manager, seated at his
desk, glanced at the motionless figure alone at the last table, and then
with a sigh moved down upon him just as the hour hand crossed the figure
three on the big clock.
After another day the turmoil subsided and Anthony began to exercise a
measure of reason. He was in love--he cried it passionately to himself.
The things that a week before would have seemed insuperable obstacles,
his limited income, his desire to be irresponsible and independent, had
in this forty hours become the merest chaff before the wind of his
infatuation. If he did not marry her his life would be a feeble parody
on his own adolescence. To be able to face people and to endure the
constant reminder of Gloria that all existence had become, it was
necessary for him to have hope. So he built hope desperately and
tenaciously out of the stuff of his dream, a hope flimsy enough, to be
sure, a hope that was cracked and dissipated a dozen times a day, a hope
mothered by mockery, but, nevertheless, a hope that would be brawn and
sinew to his self-respect.
Out of this developed a spark of wisdom, a true perception of his own
from out the effortless past.
"Memory is short," he thought.
So very short. At the crucial point the Trust President is on the stand,
a potential criminal needing but one push to be a jailbird, scorned by
the upright for leagues around. Let him be acquitted--and in a year all
is forgotten. "Yes, he did have some trouble once, just a technicality,
I believe." Oh, memory is very short!
Anthony had seen Gloria altogether about a dozen times, say two dozen
hours. Supposing he left her alone for a month, made no attempt to see
her or speak to her, and avoided every place where she might possibly
be. Wasn't it possible, the more possible because she had never loved
him, that at the end of that time the rush of events would efface his
personality from her conscious mind, and with his personality his
offense and humiliation? She would forget, for there would be other men.
He winced. The implication struck out at him--other men. Two
months--God! Better three weeks, two weeks----
He thought this the second evening after the catastrophe when he was
undressing, and at this point he threw himself down on the bed and lay
there, trembling very slightly and looking at the top of the canopy.
Two weeks--that was worse than no time at all. In two weeks he would
approach her much as he would have to now, without personality or
confidence--remaining still the man who had gone too far and then for a
period that in time was but a moment but in fact an eternity, whined.
No, two weeks was too short a time. Whatever poignancy there had been
for her in that afternoon must have time to dull. He must give her a
period when the incident should fade, and then a new period when she
should gradually begin to think of him, no matter how dimly, with a true
perspective that would remember his pleasantness as well as his
He fixed, finally, on six weeks as approximately the interval best
suited to his purpose, and on a desk calendar he marked the days off,
finding that it would fall on the ninth of April. Very well, on that day
he would phone and ask her if he might call. Until then--silence.
After his decision a gradual improvement was manifest. He had taken at
least a step in the direction to which hope pointed, and he realized
that the less he brooded upon her the better he would be able to give
the desired impression when they met.
In another hour he fell into a deep sleep.
Nevertheless, though, as the days passed, the glory of her hair dimmed
perceptibly for him and in a year of separation might have departed
completely, the six weeks held many abominable days. He dreaded the
sight of Dick and Maury, imagining wildly that they knew all--but when
the three met it was Richard Caramel and not Anthony who was the centre
of attention; "The Demon Lover" had been accepted for immediate
publication. Anthony felt that from now on he moved apart. He no longer
craved the warmth and security of Maury's society which had cheered him
no further back than November. Only Gloria could give that now and no
one else ever again. So Dick's success rejoiced him only casually and
worried him not a little. It meant that the world was going
ahead--writing and reading and publishing--and living. And he wanted the
world to wait motionless and breathless for six weeks--while
His greatest satisfaction was in Geraldine's company. He took her once
to dinner and the theatre and entertained her several times in his
apartment. When he was with her she absorbed him, not as Gloria had, but
quieting those erotic sensibilities in him that worried over Gloria. It
didn't matter how he kissed Geraldine. A kiss was a kiss--to be enjoyed
to the utmost for its short moment. To Geraldine things belonged in
definite pigeonholes: a kiss was one thing, anything further was quite
another; a kiss was all right; the other things were "bad."
When half the interval was up two incidents occurred on successive days
that upset his increasing calm and caused a temporary relapse.
The first was--he saw Gloria. It was a short meeting. Both bowed. Both
spoke, yet neither heard the other. But when it was over Anthony read
down a column of The Sun three times in succession without understanding
a single sentence.
One would have thought Sixth Avenue a safe street! Having forsworn his
barber at the Plaza he went around the corner one morning to be shaved,
and while waiting his turn he took off coat and vest, and with his soft
collar open at the neck stood near the front of the shop. The day was an
oasis in the cold desert of March and the sidewalk was cheerful with a
population of strolling sun-worshippers. A stout woman upholstered in
velvet, her flabby cheeks too much massaged, swirled by with her poodle
straining at its leash--the effect being given of a tug bringing in an
ocean liner. Just behind them a man in a striped blue suit, walking
slue-footed in white-spatted feet, grinned at the sight and catching
Anthony's eye, winked through the glass. Anthony laughed, thrown
immediately into that humor in which men and women were graceless and
absurd phantasms, grotesquely curved and rounded in a rectangular world
of their own building. They inspired the same sensations in him as did
those strange and monstrous fish who inhabit the esoteric world of green
in the aquarium.
Two more strollers caught his eye casually, a man and a girl--then in a
horrified instant the girl resolved herself into Gloria. He stood here
powerless; they came nearer and Gloria, glancing in, saw him. Her eyes
widened and she smiled politely. Her lips moved. She was less than five
"How do you do?" he muttered inanely.
Gloria, happy, beautiful, and young--with a man he had never seen
It was then that the barber's chair was vacated and he read down the
newspaper column three times in succession.
The second incident took place the next day. Going into the Manhattan
bar about seven he was confronted with Bloeckman. As it happened, the
room was nearly deserted, and before the mutual recognition he had
stationed himself within a foot of the older man and ordered his drink,
so it was inevitable that they should converse.
"Hello, Mr. Patch," said Bloeckman amiably enough.
Anthony took the proffered hand and exchanged a few aphorisms on the
fluctuations of the mercury.
"Do you come in here much?" inquired Bloeckman.
"No, very seldom." He omitted to add that the Plaza bar had, until
lately, been his favorite.
"Nice bar. One of the best bars in town."
Anthony nodded. Bloeckman emptied his glass and picked up his cane. He
was in evening dress.
"Well, I'll be hurrying on. I'm going to dinner with Miss Gilbert."
Death looked suddenly out at him from two blue eyes. Had he announced
himself as his vis-à-vis's prospective murderer he could not have struck
a more vital blow at Anthony. The younger man must have reddened
visibly, for his every nerve was in instant clamor. With tremendous
effort he mustered a rigid--oh, so rigid--smile, and said a conventional
good-by. But that night he lay awake until after four, half wild with
grief and fear and abominable imaginings.
And one day in the fifth week he called her up. He had been sitting in
his apartment trying to read "L'Education Sentimental," and something in
the book had sent his thoughts racing in the direction that, set free,
they always took, like horses racing for a home stable. With suddenly
quickened breath he walked to the telephone. When he gave the number it
seemed to him that his voice faltered and broke like a schoolboy's. The
Central must have heard the pounding of his heart. The sound of the
receiver being taken up at the other end was a crack of doom, and Mrs.
Gilbert's voice, soft as maple syrup running into a glass container, had
for him a quality of horror in its single "Hello-o-ah?"
"Miss Gloria's not feeling well. She's lying down, asleep. Who shall I
"Nobody!" he shouted.
In a wild panic he slammed down the receiver; collapsed into his
armchair in the cold sweat of breathless relief.
The first thing he said to her was: "Why, you've bobbed your hair!" and
she answered: "Yes, isn't it gorgeous?"
It was not fashionable then. It was to be fashionable in five or six
years. At that time it was considered extremely daring.
"It's all sunshine outdoors," he said gravely. "Don't you want to take a
She put on a light coat and a quaintly piquant Napoleon hat of Alice
Blue, and they walked along the Avenue and into the Zoo, where they
properly admired the grandeur of the elephant and the collar-height of
the giraffe, but did not visit the monkey house because Gloria said that
monkeys smelt so bad.
Then they returned toward the Plaza, talking about nothing, but glad for
the spring singing in the air and for the warm balm that lay upon the
suddenly golden city. To their right was the Park, while at the left a
great bulk of granite and marble muttered dully a millionaire's chaotic
message to whosoever would listen: something about "I worked and I saved
and I was sharper than all Adam and here I sit, by golly, by golly!"
All the newest and most beautiful designs in automobiles were out on
Fifth Avenue, and ahead of them the Plaza loomed up rather unusually
white and attractive. The supple, indolent Gloria walked a short
shadow's length ahead of him, pouring out lazy casual comments that
floated a moment on the dazzling air before they reached his ear.
"Oh!" she cried, "I want to go south to Hot Springs! I want to get out
in the air and just roll around on the new grass and forget there's ever
been any winter."
"Don't you, though!"
"I want to hear a million robins making a frightful racket. I sort of
"All women _are_ birds," he ventured.
"What kind am I?"--quick and eager.
"A swallow, I think, and sometimes a bird of paradise. Most girls are
sparrows, of course--see that row of nurse-maids over there? They're
sparrows--or are they magpies? And of course you've met canary
girls--and robin girls."
"And swan girls and parrot girls. All grown women are hawks, I think, or
"What am I--a buzzard?"
She laughed and shook her head.
"Oh, no, you're not a bird at all, do you think? You're a Russian
Anthony remembered that they were white and always looked unnaturally
hungry. But then they were usually photographed with dukes and
princesses, so he was properly flattered.
"Dick's a fox terrier, a trick fox terrier," she continued.
"And Maury's a cat." Simultaneously it occurred to him how like
Bloeckman was to a robust and offensive hog. But he preserved a
Later, as they parted, Anthony asked when he might see her again.
"Don't you ever make long engagements?" he pleaded, "even if it's a week
ahead, I think it'd be fun to spend a whole day together, morning and
"It would be, wouldn't it?" She thought for a moment. "Let's do it next
"All right. I'll map out a programme that'll take up every minute."
He did. He even figured to a nicety what would happen in the two hours
when she would come to his apartment for tea: how the good Bounds would
have the windows wide to let in the fresh breeze--but a fire going also
lest there be chill in the air--and how there would be clusters of
flowers about in big cool bowls that he would buy for the occasion. They
would sit on the lounge.
And when the day came they did sit upon the lounge. After a while
Anthony kissed her because it came about quite naturally; he found
sweetness sleeping still upon her lips, and felt that he had never been
away. The fire was bright and the breeze sighing in through the curtains
brought a mellow damp, promising May and world of summer. His soul
thrilled to remote harmonies; he heard the strum of far guitars and
waters lapping on a warm Mediterranean shore--for he was young now as he
would never be again, and more triumphant than death.
Six o'clock stole down too soon and rang the querulous melody of St.
Anne's chimes on the corner. Through the gathering dusk they strolled to
the Avenue, where the crowds, like prisoners released, were walking with
elastic step at last after the long winter, and the tops of the busses
were thronged with congenial kings and the shops full of fine soft
things for the summer, the rare summer, the gay promising summer that
seemed for love what the winter was for money. Life was singing for his
supper on the corner! Life was handing round cocktails in the street! Old
women there were in that crowd who felt that they could have run and won
a hundred-yard dash!
In bed that night with the lights out and the cool room swimming with
moonlight, Anthony lay awake and played with every minute of the day
like a child playing in turn with each one of a pile of long-wanted
Christmas toys. He had told her gently, almost in the middle of a kiss,
that he loved her, and she had smiled and held him closer and murmured,
"I'm glad," looking into his eyes. There had been a new quality in her
attitude, a new growth of sheer physical attraction toward him and a
strange emotional tenseness, that was enough to make him clinch his
hands and draw in his breath at the recollection. He had felt nearer to
her than ever before. In a rare delight he cried aloud to the room that
he loved her.
He phoned next morning--no hesitation now, no uncertainty--instead a
delirious excitement that doubled and trebled when he heard her voice:
"That's all I called you up to say-dear."
"I'm glad you did."
"I wish I could see you."
"You will, to-morrow night."
"That's a long time, isn't it?"
"Yes--" Her voice was reluctant. His hand tightened on the receiver.
"Couldn't I come to-night?" He dared anything in the glory and
revelation of that almost whispered "yes."
"I have a date."
"But I might--I might be able to break it."
"Oh!"--a sheer cry, a rhapsody. "Gloria?"
"I love you."
Another pause and then:
Happiness, remarked Maury Noble one day, is only the first hour after
the alleviation of some especially intense misery. But oh, Anthony's
face as he walked down the tenth-floor corridor of the Plaza that night!
His dark eyes were gleaming--around his mouth were lines it was a
kindness to see. He was handsome then if never before, bound for one of
those immortal moments which come so radiantly that their remembered
light is enough to see by for years.
He knocked and, at a word, entered. Gloria, dressed in simple pink,
starched and fresh as a flower, was across the room, standing very
still, and looking at him wide-eyed.
As he closed the door behind him she gave a little cry and moved swiftly
over the intervening space, her arms rising in a premature caress as she
came near. Together they crushed out the stiff folds of her dress in one
triumphant and enduring embrace.
THE RADIANT HOUR
After a fortnight Anthony and Gloria began to indulge in "practical
discussions," as they called those sessions when under the guise of
severe realism they walked in an eternal moonlight.
"Not as much as I do you," the critic of belles-lettres would insist.
"If you really loved me you'd want every one to know it."
"I do," she protested; "I want to stand on the street corner like a
sandwich man, informing all the passers-by."
"Then tell me all the reasons why you're going to marry me in June."
"Well, because you're so clean. You're sort of blowy clean, like I am.
There's two sorts, you know. One's like Dick: he's clean like polished
pans. You and I are clean like streams and winds. I can tell whenever I
see a person whether he is clean, and if so, which kind of clean he is."
"Mother says"--she hesitated uncertainly--"mother says that two souls
are sometimes created together and--and in love before they're born."
Bilphism gained its easiest convert.... After a while he lifted up his
head and laughed soundlessly toward the ceiling. When his eyes came back
to her he saw that she was angry.
"Why did you laugh?" she cried, "you've done that twice before. There's
nothing funny about our relation to each other. I don't mind playing the
fool, and I don't mind having you do it, but I can't stand it when we're
"Oh, don't say you're sorry! If you can't think of anything better than
that, just keep quiet!"
"I love you."
"I don't care."
There was a pause. Anthony was depressed.... At length Gloria murmured:
"I'm sorry I was mean."
"You weren't. I was the one."
Peace was restored--the ensuing moments were so much more sweet and
sharp and poignant. They were stars on this stage, each playing to an
audience of two: the passion of their pretense created the actuality.
Here, finally, was the quintessence of self-expression--yet it was
probable that for the most part their love expressed Gloria rather than
Anthony. He felt often like a scarcely tolerated guest at a party she
Telling Mrs. Gilbert had been an embarrassed matter. She sat stuffed
into a small chair and listened with an intense and very blinky sort of
concentration. She must have known it--for three weeks Gloria had seen
no one else--and she must have noticed that this time there was an
authentic difference in her daughter's attitude. She had been given
special deliveries to post; she had heeded, as all mothers seem to heed,
the hither end of telephone conversations, disguised but still
--Yet she had delicately professed surprise and declared herself
immensely pleased; she doubtless was; so were the geranium plants
blossoming in the window-boxes, and so were the cabbies when the lovers
sought the romantic privacy of hansom cabs--quaint device--and the staid
bill of fares on which they scribbled "you know I do," pushing it over
for the other to see.
But between kisses Anthony and this golden girl quarrelled incessantly.
"Now, Gloria," he would cry, "please let me explain!"
"Don't explain. Kiss me."
"I don't think that's right. If I hurt your feelings we ought to discuss
it. I don't like this kiss-and-forget."
"But I don't want to argue. I think it's wonderful that we _can_ kiss
and forget, and when we can't it'll be time to argue."
At one time some gossamer difference attained such bulk that Anthony
arose and punched himself into his overcoat--for a moment it appeared
that the scene of the preceding February was to be repeated, but knowing
how deeply she was moved he retained his dignity with his pride, and in
a moment Gloria was sobbing in his arms, her lovely face miserable as a
frightened little girl's.
Meanwhile they kept unfolding to each other, unwillingly, by curious
reactions and evasions, by distastes and prejudices and unintended hints
of the past. The girl was proudly incapable of jealousy and, because he
was extremely jealous, this virtue piqued him. He told her recondite
incidents of his own life on purpose to arouse some spark of it, but to
no avail. She possessed him now--nor did she desire the dead years.
"Oh, Anthony," she would say, "always when I'm mean to you I'm sorry
afterward. I'd give my right hand to save you one little moment's pain."
And in that instant her eyes were brimming and she was not aware that
she was voicing an illusion. Yet Anthony knew that there were days when
they hurt each other purposely--taking almost a delight in the thrust.
Incessantly she puzzled him: one hour so intimate and charming, striving
desperately toward an unguessed, transcendent union; the next, silent
and cold, apparently unmoved by any consideration of their love or
anything he could say. Often he would eventually trace these portentous
reticences to some physical discomfort--of these she never complained
until they were over--or to some carelessness or presumption in him, or
to an unsatisfactory dish at dinner, but even then the means by which
she created the infinite distances she spread about herself were a
mystery, buried somewhere back in those twenty-two years of
"Why do you like Muriel?" he demanded one day.
"I don't very much."
"Then why do you go with her?"
"Just for some one to go with. They're no exertion, those girls. They
sort of believe everything I tell them--but I rather like Rachael. I
think she's cute--and so clean and slick, don't you? I used to have
other friends--in Kansas City and at school--casual, all of them, girls
who just flitted into my range and out of it for no more reason than
that boys took us places together. They didn't interest me after
environment stopped throwing us together. Now they're mostly married.
What does it matter--they were all just people."
"You like men better, don't you?"
"Oh, much better. I've got a man's mind."
"You've got a mind like mine. Not strongly gendered either way."
Later she told him about the beginnings of her friendship with
Bloeckman. One day in Delmonico's, Gloria and Rachael had come upon
Bloeckman and Mr. Gilbert having luncheon and curiosity had impelled her
to make it a party of four. She had liked him--rather. He was a relief
from younger men, satisfied as he was with so little. He humored her and
he laughed, whether he understood her or not. She met him several times,
despite the open disapproval of her parents, and within a month he had
asked her to marry him, tendering her everything from a villa in Italy
to a brilliant career on the screen. She had laughed in his face--and he
had laughed too.
But he had not given up. To the time of Anthony's arrival in the arena
he had been making steady progress. She treated him rather well--except
that she had called him always by an invidious nickname--perceiving,
meanwhile, that he was figuratively following along beside her as she
walked the fence, ready to catch her if she should fall.
The night before the engagement was announced she told Bloeckman. It was
a heavy blow. She did not enlighten Anthony as to the details, but she
implied that he had not hesitated to argue with her. Anthony gathered
that the interview had terminated on a stormy note, with Gloria very
cool and unmoved lying in her corner of the sofa and Joseph Bloeckman of
"Films Par Excellence" pacing the carpet with eyes narrowed and head
bowed. Gloria had been sorry for him but she had judged it best not to
show it. In a final burst of kindness she had tried to make him hate
her, there at the last. But Anthony, understanding that Gloria's
indifference was her strongest appeal, judged how futile this must have
been. He wondered, often but quite casually, about Bloeckman--finally he
forgot him entirely.
One afternoon they found front seats on the sunny roof of a bus and rode
for hours from the fading Square up along the sullied river, and then,
as the stray beams fled the westward streets, sailed down the turgid
Avenue, darkening with ominous bees from the department stores. The
traffic was clotted and gripped in a patternless jam; the busses were
packed four deep like platforms above the crowd as they waited for the
moan of the traffic whistle.
"Isn't it good!" cried Gloria. "Look!"
A miller's wagon, stark white with flour, driven by a powdery clown,
passed in front of them behind a white horse and his black team-mate.
"What a pity!" she complained; "they'd look so beautiful in the dusk, if
only both horses were white. I'm mighty happy just this minute, in
Anthony shook his head in disagreement.
"I think the city's a mountebank. Always struggling to approach the
tremendous and impressive urbanity ascribed to it. Trying to be
"I don't. I think it is impressive."
"Momentarily. But it's really a transparent, artificial sort of
spectacle. It's got its press-agented stars and its flimsy, unenduring
stage settings and, I'll admit, the greatest army of supers ever
assembled--" He paused, laughed shortly, and added: "Technically
excellent, perhaps, but not convincing."
"I'll bet policemen think people are fools," said Gloria thoughtfully,
as she watched a large but cowardly lady being helped across the street.
"He always sees them frightened and inefficient and old--they are," she
added. And then: "We'd better get off. I told mother I'd have an early
supper and go to bed. She says I look tired, damn it."
"I wish we were married," he muttered soberly; "there'll be no good
night then and we can do just as we want."
"Won't it be good! I think we ought to travel a lot. I want to go to the
Mediterranean and Italy. And I'd like to go on the stage some time--say
for about a year."
"You bet. I'll write a play for you."
"Won't that be good! And I'll act in it. And then some time when we have
more money"--old Adam's death was always thus tactfully alluded
to--"we'll build a magnificent estate, won't we?"
"Oh, yes, with private swimming pools."
"Dozens of them. And private rivers. Oh, I wish it were now."
Odd coincidence--he had just been wishing that very thing. They plunged
like divers into the dark eddying crowd and emerging in the cool fifties
sauntered indolently homeward, infinitely romantic to each other ...
both were walking alone in a dispassionate garden with a ghost found
in a dream.
Halcyon days like boats drifting along slow-moving rivers; spring
evenings full of a plaintive melancholy that made the past beautiful and
bitter, bidding them look back and see that the loves of other summers
long gone were dead with the forgotten waltzes of their years. Always
the most poignant moments were when some artificial barrier kept them
apart: in the theatre their hands would steal together, join, give and
return gentle pressures through the long dark; in crowded rooms they
would form words with their lips for each other's eyes--not knowing that
they were but following in the footsteps of dusty generations but
comprehending dimly that if truth is the end of life happiness is a mode
of it, to be cherished in its brief and tremulous moment. And then, one
fairy night, May became June. Sixteen days now--fifteen--fourteen----
Just before the engagement was announced Anthony had gone up to
Tarrytown to see his grandfather, who, a little more wizened and grizzly
as time played its ultimate chuckling tricks, greeted the news with
"Oh, you're going to get married, are you?" He said this with such a
dubious mildness and shook his head up and down so many times that
Anthony was not a little depressed. While he was unaware of his
grandfather's intentions he presumed that a large part of the money
would come to him. A good deal would go in charities, of course; a good
deal to carry on the business of reform.
"Are you going to work?"
"Why--" temporized Anthony, somewhat disconcerted. "I _am_ working. You
"Ah, I mean work," said Adam Patch dispassionately.
"I'm not quite sure yet what I'll do. I'm not exactly a beggar, grampa,"
he asserted with some spirit.
The old man considered this with eyes half closed. Then almost
apologetically he asked:
"How much do you save a year?"
"Nothing so far--"
"And so after just managing to get along on your money you've decided
that by some miracle two of you can get along on it."
"Gloria has some money of her own. Enough to buy clothes."
Without considering this question impertinent, Anthony answered it.
"About a hundred a month."
"That's altogether about seventy-five hundred a year." Then he added
softly: "It ought to be plenty. If you have any sense it ought to be
plenty. But the question is whether you have any or not."
"I suppose it is." It was shameful to be compelled to endure this pious
browbeating from the old man, and his next words were stiffened with
vanity. "I can manage very well. You seem convinced that I'm utterly
worthless. At any rate I came up here simply to tell you that I'm
getting married in June. Good-by, sir." With this he turned away and
headed for the door, unaware that in that instant his grandfather, for
the first time, rather liked him.
"Wait!" called Adam Patch, "I want to talk to you."
Anthony faced about.
"Sit down. Stay all night."
Somewhat mollified, Anthony resumed his seat.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm going to see Gloria to-night."
"What's her name?"
"New York girl? Someone you know?"
"She's from the Middle West."
"What business her father in?"
"In a celluloid corporation or trust or something. They're from Kansas
"You going to be married out there?"
"Why, no, sir. We thought we'd be married in New York--rather quietly."
"Like to have the wedding out here?"
Anthony hesitated. The suggestion made no appeal to him, but it was
certainly the part of wisdom to give the old man, if possible, a
proprietary interest in his married life. In addition Anthony was a
"That's very kind of you, grampa, but wouldn't it be a lot of trouble?"
"Everything's a lot of trouble. Your father was married here--but in the
"Why--I thought he was married in Boston."
Adam Patch considered.
"That's true. He _was_ married in Boston."
Anthony felt a moment's embarrassment at having made the correction, and
he covered it up with words.
"Well, I'll speak to Gloria about it. Personally I'd like to, but of
course it's up to the Gilberts, you see."
His grandfather drew a long sigh, half closed his eyes, and sank back in
"In a hurry?" he asked in a different tone.
"I wonder," began Adam Patch, looking out with a mild, kindly glance at
the lilac bushes that rustled against the windows, "I wonder if you ever
think about the after-life."
"I think a great deal about the after-life." His eyes were dim but his
voice was confident and clear. "I was sitting here to-day thinking about
what's lying in wait for us, and somehow I began to remember an
afternoon nearly sixty-five years ago, when I was playing with my little
sister Annie, down where that summer-house is now." He pointed out into
the long flower-garden, his eyes trembling of tears, his voice shaking.
"I began thinking--and it seemed to me that _you_ ought to think a
little more about the after-life. You ought to be--steadier"--he paused
and seemed to grope about for the right word--"more industrious--why--"
Then his expression altered, his entire personality seemed to snap
together like a trap, and when he continued the softness had gone from
"--Why, when I was just two years older than you," he rasped with a
cunning chuckle, "I sent three members of the firm of Wrenn and Hunt to
Anthony started with embarrassment.
"Well, good-by," added his grandfather suddenly, "you'll miss your
Anthony left the house unusually elated, and strangely sorry for the old
man; not because his wealth could buy him "neither youth nor digestion"
but because he had asked Anthony to be married there, and because he had
forgotten something about his son's wedding that he should have
Richard Caramel, who was one of the ushers, caused Anthony and Gloria
much distress in the last few weeks by continually stealing the rays of
their spot-light. "The Demon Lover" had been published in April, and it
interrupted the love affair as it may be said to have interrupted
everything its author came in contact with. It was a highly original,
rather overwritten piece of sustained description concerned with a Don
Juan of the New York slums. As Maury and Anthony had said before, as the
more hospitable critics were saying then, there was no writer in America
with such power to describe the atavistic and unsubtle reactions of that
section of society.
The book hesitated and then suddenly "went." Editions, small at first,
then larger, crowded each other week by week. A spokesman of the
Salvation Army denounced it as a cynical misrepresentation of all the
uplift taking place in the underworld. Clever press-agenting spread the
unfounded rumor that "Gypsy" Smith was beginning a libel suit because
one of the principal characters was a burlesque of himself. It was
barred from the public library of Burlington, Iowa, and a Mid-Western
columnist announced by innuendo that Richard Caramel was in a sanitarium
with delirium tremens.
The author, indeed, spent his days in a state of pleasant madness. The
book was in his conversation three-fourths of the time--he wanted to
know if one had heard "the latest"; he would go into a store and in a
loud voice order books to be charged to him, in order to catch a chance
morsel of recognition from clerk or customer. He knew to a town in what
sections of the country it was selling best; he knew exactly what he
cleared on each edition, and when he met any one who had not read it,
or, as it happened only too often, had not heard of it, he succumbed to
So it was natural for Anthony and Gloria to decide, in their jealousy,
that he was so swollen with conceit as to be a bore. To Dick's great
annoyance Gloria publicly boasted that she had never read "The Demon
Lover," and didn't intend to until every one stopped talking about it.
As a matter of fact, she had no time to read now, for the presents were
pouring in--first a scattering, then an avalanche, varying from the
bric-à-brac of forgotten family friends to the photographs of forgotten
Maury gave them an elaborate "drinking set," which included silver
goblets, cocktail shaker, and bottle-openers. The extortion from Dick
was more conventional--a tea set from Tiffany's. From Joseph Bloeckman
came a simple and exquisite travelling clock, with his card. There was
even a cigarette-holder from Bounds; this touched Anthony and made him
want to weep--indeed, any emotion short of hysteria seemed natural in
the half-dozen people who were swept up by this tremendous sacrifice to
convention. The room set aside in the Plaza bulged with offerings sent
by Harvard friends and by associates of his grandfather, with
remembrances of Gloria's Farmover days, and with rather pathetic
trophies from her former beaux, which last arrived with esoteric,
melancholy messages, written on cards tucked carefully inside, beginning
"I little thought when--" or "I'm sure I wish you all the happiness--"
or even "When you get this I shall be on my way to--"
The most munificent gift was simultaneously the most disappointing. It
was a concession of Adam Patch's--a check for five thousand dollars.
To most of the presents Anthony was cold. It seemed to him that they
would necessitate keeping a chart of the marital status of all their
acquaintances during the next half-century. But Gloria exulted in each
one, tearing at the tissue-paper and excelsior with the rapaciousness of
a dog digging for a bone, breathlessly seizing a ribbon or an edge of
metal and finally bringing to light the whole article and holding it up
critically, no emotion except rapt interest in her unsmiling face.
"Darn nice, isn't it!"
No answer until an hour later when she would give him a careful account
of her precise reaction to the gift, whether it would have been improved
by being smaller or larger, whether she was surprised at getting it,
and, if so, just how much surprised.
Mrs. Gilbert arranged and rearranged a hypothetical house, distributing
the gifts among the different rooms, tabulating articles as "second-best
clock" or "silver to use _every_ day," and embarrassing Anthony and
Gloria by semi-facetious references to a room she called the nursery.
She was pleased by old Adam's gift and thereafter had it that he was a
very ancient soul, "as much as anything else." As Adam Patch never quite
decided whether she referred to the advancing senility of his mind or to
some private and psychic schema of her own, it cannot be said to have
pleased him. Indeed he always spoke of her to Anthony as "that old
woman, the mother," as though she were a character in a comedy he had
seen staged many times before. Concerning Gloria he was unable to make
up his mind. She attracted him but, as she herself told Anthony, he had
decided that she was frivolous and was afraid to approve of her.
Five days!--A dancing platform was being erected on the lawn at
Tarrytown. Four days!--A special train was chartered to convey the
guests to and from New York. Three days!----
She was dressed in blue silk pajamas and standing by her bed with her
hand on the light to put the room in darkness, when she changed her mind
and opening a table drawer brought out a little black book--a
"Line-a-day" diary. This she had kept for seven years. Many of the
pencil entries were almost illegible and there were notes and references
to nights and afternoons long since forgotten, for it was not an
intimate diary, even though it began with the immemorial "I am going to
keep a diary for my children." Yet as she thumbed over the pages the
eyes of many men seemed to look out at her from their half-obliterated
names. With one she had gone to New Haven for the first time--in 1908,
when she was sixteen and padded shoulders were fashionable at Yale--she
had been flattered because "Touch down" Michaud had "rushed" her all
evening. She sighed, remembering the grown-up satin dress she had been
so proud of and the orchestra playing "Yama-yama, My Yama Man" and
"Jungle-Town." So long ago!--the names: Eltynge Reardon, Jim Parsons,
"Curly" McGregor, Kenneth Cowan, "Fish-eye" Fry (whom she had liked for
being so ugly), Carter Kirby--he had sent her a present; so had Tudor
Baird;--Marty Reffer, the first man she had been in love with for more
than a day, and Stuart Holcome, who had run away with her in his
automobile and tried to make her marry him by force. And Larry Fenwick,
whom she had always admired because he had told her one night that if
she wouldn't kiss him she could get out of his car and walk home. What
... And, after all, an obsolete list. She was in love now, set for the
eternal romance that was to be the synthesis of all romance, yet sad for
these men and these moonlights and for the "thrills" she had had--and
the kisses. The past--her past, oh, what a joy! She had been
Turning over the pages her eyes rested idly on the scattered entries of
the past four months. She read the last few carefully.
"_April 1st_.--I know Bill Carstairs hates me because I was so
disagreeable, but I hate to be sentimentalized over sometimes. We drove
out to the Rockyear Country Club and the most wonderful moon kept
shining through the trees. My silver dress is getting tarnished. Funny
how one forgets the other nights at Rockyear--with Kenneth Cowan when I
loved him so!
"_April 3rd_.--After two hours of Schroeder who, they inform me, has
millions, I've decided that this matter of sticking to things wears one
out, particularly when the things concerned are men. There's nothing so
often overdone and from to-day I swear to be amused. We talked about
'love'--how banal! With how many men have I talked about love?
"_April 11th_.--Patch actually called up to-day! and when he forswore me
about a month ago he fairly raged out the door. I'm gradually losing
faith in any man being susceptible to fatal injuries.
"_April 20th_.--Spent the day with Anthony. Maybe I'll marry him some
time. I kind of like his ideas--he stimulates all the originality in me.
Blockhead came around about ten in his new car and took me out Riverside
Drive. I liked him to-night: he's so considerate. He knew I didn't want
to talk so he was quiet all during the ride.
"_April 21st_.--Woke up thinking of Anthony and sure enough he called
and sounded sweet on the phone--so I broke a date for him. To-day I feel
I'd break anything for him, including the ten commandments and my neck.
He's coming at eight and I shall wear pink and look very fresh and
She paused here, remembering that after he had gone that night she had
undressed with the shivering April air streaming in the windows. Yet it
seemed she had not felt the cold, warmed by the profound banalities
burning in her heart.
The next entry occurred a few days later:
"_April 24th_.--I want to marry Anthony, because husbands are so often
'husbands' and I must marry a lover.
"There are four general types of husbands.
"(1) The husband who always wants to stay in in the evening, has no vices
and works for a salary. Totally undesirable!
"(2) The atavistic master whose mistress one is, to wait on his pleasure.
This sort always considers every pretty woman 'shallow,' a sort of
peacock with arrested development.
"(3) Next comes the worshipper, the idolater of his wife and all that is
his, to the utter oblivion of everything else. This sort demands an
emotional actress for a wife. God! it must be an exertion to be thought
"(4) And Anthony--a temporarily passionate lover with wisdom enough to
realize when it has flown and that it must fly. And I want to get
married to Anthony.
"What grubworms women are to crawl on their bellies through colorless
marriages! Marriage was created not to be a background but to need one.
Mine is going to be outstanding. It can't, shan't be the setting--it's
going to be the performance, the live, lovely, glamourous performance,
and the world shall be the scenery. I refuse to dedicate my life to
posterity. Surely one owes as much to the current generation as to one's
unwanted children. What a fate--to grow rotund and unseemly, to lose my
self-love, to think in terms of milk, oatmeal, nurse, diapers.... Dear
dream children, how much more beautiful you are, dazzling little
creatures who flutter (all dream children must flutter) on golden,
"Such children, however, poor dear babies, have little in common with the
"_June 7th_.--Moral question: Was it wrong to make Bloeckman love me?
Because I did really make him. He was almost sweetly sad to-night. How
opportune it was that my throat is swollen plunk together and tears were
easy to muster. But he's just the past--buried already in my
"_June 8th_.--And to-day I've promised not to chew my mouth. Well, I
won't, I suppose--but if he'd only asked me not to eat!
"Blowing bubbles--that's what we're doing, Anthony and me. And we blew
such beautiful ones to-day, and they'll explode and then we'll blow more
and more, I guess--bubbles just as big and just as beautiful, until all
the soap and water is used up."
On this note the diary ended. Her eyes wandered up the page, over the
June 8th's of 1912, 1910, 1907. The earliest entry was scrawled in the
plump, bulbous hand of a sixteen-year-old girl--it was the name, Bob
Lamar, and a word she could not decipher. Then she knew what it
was--and, knowing, she found her eyes misty with tears. There in a
graying blur was the record of her first kiss, faded as its intimate
afternoon, on a rainy veranda seven years before. She seemed to remember
something one of them had said that day and yet she could not remember.
Her tears came faster, until she could scarcely see the page. She was
crying, she told herself, because she could remember only the rain and
the wet flowers in the yard and the smell of the damp grass.
... After a moment she found a pencil and holding it unsteadily drew
three parallel lines beneath the last entry. Then she printed FINIS in
large capitals, put the book back in the drawer, and crept into bed.
BREATH OF THE CAVE
Back in his apartment after the bridal dinner, Anthony snapped out his
lights and, feeling impersonal and fragile as a piece of china waiting
on a serving table, got into bed. It was a warm night--a sheet was
enough for comfort--and through his wide-open windows came sound,
evanescent and summery, alive with remote anticipation. He was thinking
that the young years behind him, hollow and colorful, had been lived in
facile and vacillating cynicism upon the recorded emotions of men long
dust. And there was something beyond that; he knew now. There was the
union of his soul with Gloria's, whose radiant fire and freshness was
the living material of which the dead beauty of books was made.
From the night into his high-walled room there came, persistently, that
evanescent and dissolving sound--something the city was tossing up and
calling back again, like a child playing with a ball. In Harlem, the
Bronx, Gramercy Park, and along the water-fronts, in little parlors or
on pebble-strewn, moon-flooded roofs, a thousand lovers were making this
sound, crying little fragments of it into the air. All the city was
playing with this sound out there in the blue summer dark, throwing it
up and calling it back, promising that, in a little while, life would be
beautiful as a story, promising happiness--and by that promise giving
it. It gave love hope in its own survival. It could do no more.
It was then that a new note separated itself jarringly from the soft
crying of the night. It was a noise from an areaway within a hundred
feet from his rear window, the noise of a woman's laughter. It began
low, incessant and whining--some servant-maid with her fellow, he
thought--and then it grew in volume and became hysterical, until it
reminded him of a girl he had seen overcome with nervous laughter at a
vaudeville performance. Then it sank, receded, only to rise again and
include words--a coarse joke, some bit of obscure horseplay he could not
distinguish. It would break off for a moment and he would just catch the
low rumble of a man's voice, then begin again--interminably; at first
annoying, then strangely terrible. He shivered, and getting up out of
bed went to the window. It had reached a high point, tensed and stifled,
almost the quality of a scream--then it ceased and left behind it a
silence empty and menacing as the greater silence overhead. Anthony
stood by the window a moment longer before he returned to his bed. He
found himself upset and shaken. Try as he might to strangle his
reaction, some animal quality in that unrestrained laughter had grasped
at his imagination, and for the first time in four months aroused his
old aversion and horror toward all the business of life. The room had
grown smothery. He wanted to be out in some cool and bitter breeze,
miles above the cities, and to live serene and detached back in the
corners of his mind. Life was that sound out there, that ghastly
reiterated female sound.
"Oh, my _God_!" he cried, drawing in his breath sharply.
Burying his face in the pillows he tried in vain to concentrate upon the
details of the next day.
In the gray light he found that it was only five o'clock. He regretted
nervously that he had awakened so early--he would appear fagged at the
wedding. He envied Gloria who could hide her fatigue with careful
In his bathroom he contemplated himself in the mirror and saw that he
was unusually white--half a dozen small imperfections stood out against
the morning pallor of his complexion, and overnight he had grown the
faint stubble of a beard--the general effect, he fancied, was
unprepossessing, haggard, half unwell.
On his dressing table were spread a number of articles which he told
over carefully with suddenly fumbling fingers--their tickets to
California, the book of traveller's checks, his watch, set to the half
minute, the key to his apartment, which he must not forget to give to
Maury, and, most important of all, the ring. It was of platinum set
around with small emeralds; Gloria had insisted on this; she had always
wanted an emerald wedding ring, she said.
It was the third present he had given her; first had come the engagement
ring, and then a little gold cigarette-case. He would be giving her many
things now--clothes and jewels and friends and excitement. It seemed
absurd that from now on he would pay for all her meals. It was going to
cost: he wondered if he had not underestimated for this trip, and if he
had not better cash a larger check. The question worried him.
Then the breathless impendency of the event swept his mind clear of
details. This was the day--unsought, unsuspected six months before, but
now breaking in yellow light through his east window, dancing along the
carpet as though the sun were smiling at some ancient and reiterated gag
of his own.
Anthony laughed in a nervous one-syllable snort.
"By God!" he muttered to himself, "I'm as good as married!"
_Six young men in_ CROSS PATCH'S _library growing more and more cheery
under the influence of Mumm's Extra Dry, set surreptitiously in cold
pails by the bookcases._
THE FIRST YOUNG MAN: By golly! Believe me, in my next book I'm going to
do a wedding scene that'll knock 'em cold!
THE SECOND YOUNG MAN: Met a débutante th'other day said she thought your
book was powerful. As a rule young girls cry for this primitive business.
THE THIRD YOUNG MAN: Where's Anthony?
THE FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Walking up and down outside talking to himself.
SECOND YOUNG MAN: Lord! Did you see the minister? Most peculiar looking
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Think they're natural. Funny thing people having gold
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: They say they love 'em. My dentist told me once a woman
came to him and insisted on having two of her teeth covered with gold.
No reason at all. All right the way they were.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Hear you got out a book, Dicky. 'Gratulations!
DICK: (_Stiffly_) Thanks.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: (_Innocently_) What is it? College stories?
DICK: (_More stiffly_) No. Not college stories.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: Pity! Hasn't been a good book about Harvard for years.
DICK: (_Touchily_) Why don't you supply the lack?
THIRD YOUNG MAN: I think I saw a squad of guests turn the drive in a
Packard just now.
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Might open a couple more bottles on the strength of
THIRD YOUNG MAN: It was the shock of my life when I heard the old man
was going to have a wet wedding. Rabid prohibitionist, you know.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: (_Snapping his fingers excitedly_) By gad! I knew I'd
forgotten something. Kept thinking it was my vest.
DICK: What was it?
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: By gad! By gad!
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Here! Here! Why the tragedy?
SECOND YOUNG MAN: What'd you forget? The way home?
DICK: (_Maliciously_) He forgot the plot for his book of Harvard
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: No, sir, I forgot the present, by George! I forgot to
buy old Anthony a present. I kept putting it off and putting it off, and
by gad I've forgotten it! What'll they think?
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: (_Facetiously_) That's probably what's been holding up
(THE FOURTH YOUNG MAN _looks nervously at his watch. Laughter._)
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: By gad! What an ass I am!
SECOND YOUNG MAN: What d'you make of the bridesmaid who thinks she's
Nora Bayes? Kept telling me she wished this was a ragtime wedding.
Name's Haines or Hampton.
DICK: (_Hurriedly spurring his imagination_) Kane, you mean, Muriel
Kane. She's a sort of debt of honor, I believe. Once saved Gloria from
drowning, or something of the sort.
SECOND YOUNG MAN: I didn't think she could stop that perpetual swaying
long enough to swim. Fill up my glass, will you? Old man and I had a
long talk about the weather just now.
MAURY: Who? Old Adam?
SECOND YOUNG MAN: No, the bride's father. He must be with a weather
DICK: He's my uncle, Otis.
OTIS: Well, it's an honorable profession. (_Laughter._)
SIXTH YOUNG MAN: Bride your cousin, isn't she?
DICK: Yes, Cable, she is.
CABLE: She certainly is a beauty. Not like you, Dicky. Bet she brings
old Anthony to terms.
MAURY: Why are all grooms given the title of "old"? I think marriage is
an error of youth.
DICK: Maury, the professional cynic.
MAURY: Why, you intellectual faker!
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Battle of the highbrows here, Otis. Pick up what crumbs
DICK: Faker yourself! What do _you_ know?
MAURY: What do _you_ know?
LICK: Ask me anything. Any branch of knowledge.
MAURY: All right. What's the fundamental principle of biology?
DICK: You don't know yourself.
MAURY: Don't hedge!
DICK: Well, natural selection?
DICK: I give it up.
MAURY: Ontogony recapitulates phyllogony.
FIFTH YOUNG MAN: Take your base!
MAURY: Ask you another. What's the influence of mice on the clover crop?
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: What's the influence of rats on the Decalogue?
MAURY: Shut up, you saphead. There _is_ a connection.
DICK: What is it then?
MAURY: (_Pausing a moment in growing disconcertion_) Why, let's see. I
seem to have forgotten exactly. Something about the bees eating
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: And the clover eating the mice! Haw! Haw!
MAURY: (_Frowning_) Let me just think a minute.
DICK: (_Sitting up suddenly_) Listen!
(_A volley of chatter explodes in the adjoining room. The six young men
arise, feeling at their neckties._)
DICK: (_Weightily_) We'd better join the firing squad. They're going to
take the picture, I guess. No, that's afterward.
OTIS: Cable, you take the ragtime bridesmaid.
FOURTH YOUNG MAN: I wish to God I'd sent that present.
MAURY: If you'll give me another minute I'll think of that about the
OTIS: I was usher last month for old Charlie McIntyre and----
(_They move slowly toward the door as the chatter becomes a babel and
the practising preliminary to the overture issues in long pious groans
from ADAM PATCH'S organ_.)
There were five hundred eyes boring through the back of his cutaway and
the sun glinting on the clergyman's inappropriately bourgeois teeth.
With difficulty he restrained a laugh. Gloria was saying something in a
clear proud voice and he tried to think that the affair was irrevocable,
that every second was significant, that his life was being slashed into
two periods and that the face of the world was changing before him. He
tried to recapture that ecstatic sensation of ten weeks before. All
these emotions eluded him, he did not even feel the physical nervousness
of that very morning--it was all one gigantic aftermath. And those gold
teeth! He wondered if the clergyman were married; he wondered perversely
if a clergyman could perform his own marriage service....
But as he took Gloria into his arms he was conscious of a strong
reaction. The blood was moving in his veins now. A languorous and
pleasant content settled like a weight upon him, bringing responsibility
and possession. He was married.
So many, such mingled emotions, that no one of them was separable from
the others! She could have wept for her mother, who was crying quietly
back there ten feet and for the loveliness of the June sunlight flooding
in at the windows. She was beyond all conscious perceptions. Only a
sense, colored with delirious wild excitement, that the ultimately
important was happening--and a trust, fierce and passionate, burning in
her like a prayer, that in a moment she would be forever and
Late one night they arrived in Santa Barbara, where the night clerk at
the Hotel Lafcadio refused to admit them, on the grounds that they were
The clerk thought that Gloria was beautiful. He did not think that
anything so beautiful as Gloria could be moral.
That first half-year--the trip West, the long months' loiter along the
California coast, and the gray house near Greenwich where they lived
until late autumn made the country dreary--those days, those places, saw
the enraptured hours. The breathless idyl of their engagement gave way,
first, to the intense romance of the more passionate relationship. The
breathless idyl left them, fled on to other lovers; they looked around
one day and it was gone, how they scarcely knew. Had either of them lost
the other in the days of the idyl, the love lost would have been ever to
the loser that dim desire without fulfilment which stands back of all
life. But magic must hurry on, and the lovers remain....
The idyl passed, bearing with it its extortion of youth. Came a day when
Gloria found that other men no longer bored her; came a day when Anthony
discovered that he could sit again late into the evening, talking with
Dick of those tremendous abstractions that had once occupied his world.
But, knowing they had had the best of love, they clung to what remained.
Love lingered--by way of long conversations at night into those stark
hours when the mind thins and sharpens and the borrowings from dreams
become the stuff of all life, by way of deep and intimate kindnesses
they developed toward each other, by way of their laughing at the same
absurdities and thinking the same things noble and the same things sad.
It was, first of all, a time of discovery. The things they found in each
other were so diverse, so intermixed and, moreover, so sugared with love
as to seem at the time not so much discoveries as isolated phenomena--to
be allowed for, and to be forgotten. Anthony found that he was living
with a girl of tremendous nervous tension and of the most high-handed
selfishness. Gloria knew within a month that her husband was an utter
coward toward any one of a million phantasms created by his imagination.
Her perception was intermittent, for this cowardice sprang out, became
almost obscenely evident, then faded and vanished as though it had been
only a creation of her own mind. Her reactions to it were not those
attributed to her sex--it roused her neither to disgust nor to a
premature feeling of motherhood. Herself almost completely without
physical fear, she was unable to understand, and so she made the most of
what she felt to be his fear's redeeming feature, which was that though
he was a coward under a shock and a coward under a strain--when his
imagination was given play--he had yet a sort of dashing recklessness
that moved her on its brief occasions almost to admiration, and a pride
that usually steadied him when he thought he was observed.
The trait first showed itself in a dozen incidents of little more than
nervousness--his warning to a taxi-driver against fast driving, in
Chicago; his refusal to take her to a certain tough café she had always
wished to visit; these of course admitted the conventional
interpretation--that it was of her he had been thinking; nevertheless,
their culminative weight disturbed her. But something that occurred in a
San Francisco hotel, when they had been married a week, gave the matter
It was after midnight and pitch dark in their room. Gloria was dozing
off and Anthony's even breathing beside her made her suppose that he was
asleep, when suddenly she saw him raise himself on his elbow and stare
at the window.
"What is it, dearest?" she murmured.
"Nothing"--he had relaxed to his pillow and turned toward her--"nothing,
my darling wife."
"Don't say 'wife.' I'm your mistress. Wife's such an ugly word. Your
'permanent mistress' is so much more tangible and desirable.... Come
into my arms," she added in a rush of tenderness; "I can sleep so well,
so well with you in my arms."
Coming into Gloria's arms had a quite definite meaning. It required that
he should slide one arm under her shoulder, lock both arms about her,
and arrange himself as nearly as possible as a sort of three-sided crib
for her luxurious ease. Anthony, who tossed, whose arms went tinglingly
to sleep after half an hour of that position, would wait until she was
asleep and roll her gently over to her side of the bed--then, left to
his own devices, he would curl himself into his usual knots.
Gloria, having attained sentimental comfort, retired into her doze. Five
minutes ticked away on Bloeckman's travelling clock; silence lay all
about the room, over the unfamiliar, impersonal furniture and the
half-oppressive ceiling that melted imperceptibly into invisible walls
on both sides. Then there was suddenly a rattling flutter at the window,
staccato and loud upon the hushed, pent air.
With a leap Anthony was out of the bed and standing tense beside it.
"Who's there?" he cried in an awful voice.
Gloria lay very still, wide awake now and engrossed not so much in the
rattling as in the rigid breathless figure whose voice had reached from
the bedside into that ominous dark.
The sound stopped; the room was quiet as before--then Anthony pouring
words in at the telephone.
"Some one just tried to get into the room! ...
"There's some one at the window!" His voice was emphatic now, faintly
"All right! Hurry!" He hung up the receiver; stood motionless.
... There was a rush and commotion at the door, a knocking--Anthony went
to open it upon an excited night clerk with three bell-boys grouped
staring behind him. Between thumb and finger the night clerk held a wet
pen with the threat of a weapon; one of the bell-boys had seized a
telephone directory and was looking at it sheepishly. Simultaneously the
group was joined by the hastily summoned house-detective, and as one man
they surged into the room.
Lights sprang on with a click. Gathering a piece of sheet about her
Gloria dove away from sight, shutting her eyes to keep out the horror of
this unpremeditated visitation. There was no vestige of an idea in her
stricken sensibilities save that her Anthony was at grievous fault.
... The night clerk was speaking from the window, his tone half of the
servant, half of the teacher reproving a schoolboy.
"Nobody out there," he declared conclusively; "my golly, nobody _could_
be out there. This here's a sheer fall to the street of fifty feet. It
was the wind you heard, tugging at the blind."
Then she was sorry for him. She wanted only to comfort him and draw him
back tenderly into her arms, to tell them to go away because the thing
their presence connotated was odious. Yet she could not raise her head
for shame. She heard a broken sentence, apologies, conventions of the
employee and one unrestrained snicker from a bell-boy.
"I've been nervous as the devil all evening," Anthony was saying;
"somehow that noise just shook me--I was only about half awake."
"Sure, I understand," said the night clerk with comfortable tact; "been
that way myself."
The door closed; the lights snapped out; Anthony crossed the floor
quietly and crept into bed. Gloria, feigning to be heavy with sleep,
gave a quiet little sigh and slipped into his arms.
"What was it, dear?"
"Nothing," he answered, his voice still shaken; "I thought there was
somebody at the window, so I looked out, but I couldn't see any one and
the noise kept up, so I phoned down-stairs. Sorry if I disturbed you,
but I'm awfully darn nervous to-night."
Catching the lie, she gave an interior start--he had not gone to the
window, nor near the window. He had stood by the bed and then sent in
his call of fear.
"Oh," she said--and then: "I'm so sleepy."
For an hour they lay awake side by side, Gloria with her eyes shut so
tight that blue moons formed and revolved against backgrounds of deepest
mauve, Anthony staring blindly into the darkness overhead.
After many weeks it came gradually out into the light, to be laughed and
joked at. They made a tradition to fit over it--whenever that
overpowering terror of the night attacked Anthony, she would put her
arms about him and croon, soft as a song:
"I'll protect my Anthony. Oh, nobody's ever going to harm my Anthony!"
He would laugh as though it were a jest they played for their mutual
amusement, but to Gloria it was never quite a jest. It was, at first, a
keen disappointment; later, it was one of the times when she controlled
The management of Gloria's temper, whether it was aroused by a lack of
hot water for her bath or by a skirmish with her husband, became almost
the primary duty of Anthony's day. It must be done just so--by this much
silence, by that much pressure, by this much yielding, by that much
force. It was in her angers with their attendant cruelties that her
inordinate egotism chiefly displayed itself. Because she was brave,
because she was "spoiled," because of her outrageous and commendable
independence of judgment, and finally because of her arrogant
consciousness that she had never seen a girl as beautiful as herself,
Gloria had developed into a consistent, practising Nietzschean. This, of
course, with overtones of profound sentiment.
There was, for example, her stomach. She was used to certain dishes, and
she had a strong conviction that she could not possibly eat anything
else. There must be a lemonade and a tomato sandwich late in the
morning, then a light lunch with a stuffed tomato. Not only did she
require food from a selection of a dozen dishes, but in addition this
food must be prepared in just a certain way. One of the most annoying
half hours of the first fortnight occurred in Los Angeles, when an
unhappy waiter brought her a tomato stuffed with chicken salad instead
"We always serve it that way, madame," he quavered to the gray eyes that
regarded him wrathfully.
Gloria made no answer, but when the waiter had turned discreetly away
she banged both fists upon the table until the china and silver rattled.
"Poor Gloria!" laughed Anthony unwittingly, "you can't get what you want
ever, can you?"
"I can't eat _stuff_!" she flared up.
"I'll call back the waiter."
"I don't want you to! He doesn't know anything, the darn _fool_!"
"Well, it isn't the hotel's fault. Either send it back, forget it, or be
a sport and eat it."
"Shut up!" she said succinctly.
"Why take it out on me?"
"Oh, I'm _not_," she wailed, "but I simply _can't_ eat it."
Anthony subsided helplessly.
"We'll go somewhere else," he suggested.
"I don't _want_ to go anywhere else. I'm tired of being trotted around
to a dozen cafés and not getting _one thing_ fit to eat."
"When did we go around to a dozen cafés?"
"You'd _have_ to in _this_ town," insisted Gloria with ready sophistry.
Anthony, bewildered, tried another tack.
"Why don't you try to eat it? It can't be as bad as you think."
She picked up her fork and began poking contemptuously at the tomato,
and Anthony expected her to begin flinging the stuffings in all
directions. He was sure that she was approximately as angry as she had
ever been--for an instant he had detected a spark of hate directed as
much toward him as toward any one else--and Gloria angry was, for the
Then, surprisingly, he saw that she had tentatively raised the fork to
her lips and tasted the chicken salad. Her frown had not abated and he
stared at her anxiously, making no comment and daring scarcely to
breathe. She tasted another forkful--in another moment she was eating.
With difficulty Anthony restrained a chuckle; when at length he spoke
his words had no possible connection with chicken salad.
This incident, with variations, ran like a lugubrious fugue through the
first year of marriage; always it left Anthony baffled, irritated, and
depressed. But another rough brushing of temperaments, a question of
laundry-bags, he found even more annoying as it ended inevitably in a
decisive defeat for him.
One afternoon in Coronado, where they made the longest stay of their
trip, more than three weeks, Gloria was arraying herself brilliantly for
tea. Anthony, who had been down-stairs listening to the latest rumor
bulletins of war in Europe, entered the room, kissed the back of her
powdered neck, and went to his dresser. After a great pulling out and
pushing in of drawers, evidently unsatisfactory, he turned around to the
"Got any handkerchiefs, Gloria?" he asked. Gloria shook her golden head.
"Not a one. I'm using one of yours."
"The last one, I deduce." He laughed dryly.
"Is it?" She applied an emphatic though very delicate contour to her
"Isn't the laundry back?"
"I don't know."
Anthony hesitated--then, with sudden discernment, opened the closet
door. His suspicions were verified. On the hook provided hung the blue
bag furnished by the hotel. This was full of his clothes--he had put
them there himself. The floor beneath it was littered with an
astonishing mass of finery--lingerie, stockings, dresses, nightgowns,
and pajamas--most of it scarcely worn but all of it coming indubitably
under the general heading of Gloria's laundry.
He stood holding the closet door open.
The lip line was being erased and corrected according to some mysterious
perspective; not a finger trembled as she manipulated the lip-stick, not
a glance wavered in his direction. It was a triumph of concentration.
"Haven't you ever sent out the laundry?"
"Is it there?"
"It most certainly is."
"Well, I guess I haven't, then."
"Gloria," began Anthony, sitting down on the bed and trying to catch her
mirrored eyes, "you're a nice fellow, you are! I've sent it out every
time it's been sent since we left New York, and over a week ago you
promised you'd do it for a change. All you'd have to do would be to cram
your own junk into that bag and ring for the chambermaid."
"Oh, why fuss about the laundry?" exclaimed Gloria petulantly, "I'll
take care of it."
"I haven't fussed about it. I'd just as soon divide the bother with you,
but when we run out of handkerchiefs it's darn near time
Anthony considered that he was being extraordinarily logical. But
Gloria, unimpressed, put away her cosmetics and casually offered him
"Hook me up," she suggested; "Anthony, dearest, I forgot all about it. I
meant to, honestly, and I will to-day. Don't be cross with your
What could Anthony do then but draw her down upon his knee and kiss a
shade of color from her lips.
"But I don't mind," she murmured with a smile, radiant and magnanimous.
"You can kiss all the paint off my lips any time you want."
They went down to tea. They bought some handkerchiefs in a notion store
near by. All was forgotten.
But two days later Anthony looked in the closet and saw the bag still
hung limp upon its hook and that the gay and vivid pile on the floor had
increased surprisingly in height.
"Gloria!" he cried.
"Oh--" Her voice was full of real distress. Despairingly Anthony went to
the phone and called the chambermaid.
"It seems to me," he said impatiently, "that you expect me to be some
sort of French valet to you."
Gloria laughed, so infectiously that Anthony was unwise enough to smile.
Unfortunate man! In some intangible manner his smile made her mistress
of the situation--with an air of injured righteousness she went
emphatically to the closet and began pushing her laundry violently into
the bag. Anthony watched her--ashamed of himself.
"There!" she said, implying that her fingers had been worked to the bone
by a brutal taskmaster.
He considered, nevertheless, that he had given her an object-lesson and
that the matter was closed, but on the contrary it was merely beginning.
Laundry pile followed laundry pile--at long intervals; dearth of
handkerchief followed dearth of handkerchief--at short ones; not to
mention dearth of sock, of shirt, of everything. And Anthony found at
length that either he must send it out himself or go through the
increasingly unpleasant ordeal of a verbal battle with Gloria.
GLORIA AND GENERAL LEE
On their way East they stopped two days in Washington, strolling about
with some hostility in its atmosphere of harsh repellent light, of
distance without freedom, of pomp without splendor--it seemed a
pasty-pale and self-conscious city. The second day they made an
ill-advised trip to General Lee's old home at Arlington.
The bus which bore them was crowded with hot, unprosperous people, and
Anthony, intimate to Gloria, felt a storm brewing. It broke at the Zoo,
where the party stopped for ten minutes. The Zoo, it seemed, smelt of
monkeys. Anthony laughed; Gloria called down the curse of Heaven upon
monkeys, including in her malevolence all the passengers of the bus and
their perspiring offspring who had hied themselves monkey-ward.
Eventually the bus moved on to Arlington. There it met other busses and
immediately a swarm of women and children were leaving a trail of
peanut-shells through the halls of General Lee and crowding at length
into the room where he was married. On the wall of this room a pleasing
sign announced in large red letters "Ladies' Toilet." At this final blow
Gloria broke down.
"I think it's perfectly terrible!" she said furiously, "the idea of
letting these people come here! And of encouraging them by making these
"Well," objected Anthony, "if they weren't kept up they'd go to pieces."
"What if they did!" she exclaimed as they sought the wide pillared
porch. "Do you think they've left a breath of 1860 here? This has become
a thing of 1914."
"Don't you want to preserve old things?"
"But you _can't_, Anthony. Beautiful things grow to a certain height and
then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay. And
just as any period decays in our minds, the things of that period should
decay too, and in that way they're preserved for a while in the few
hearts like mine that react to them. That graveyard at Tarrytown, for