Part 6 out of 8
eventually to a gorgeous estate and possible idyllic children, then
entering diplomacy or politics, to accomplish, for a while, beautiful
and important things, until finally as a white-haired (beautifully,
silkily, white-haired) couple they were to loll about in serene glory,
worshipped by the bourgeoisie of the land.... These times were to begin
"when we get our money"; it was on such dreams rather than on any
satisfaction with their increasingly irregular, increasingly dissipated
life that their hope rested. On gray mornings when the jests of the
night before had shrunk to ribaldries without wit or dignity, they
could, after a fashion, bring out this batch of common hopes and count
them over, then smile at each other and repeat, by way of clinching the
matter, the terse yet sincere Nietzscheanism of Gloria's defiant "I
Things had been slipping perceptibly. There was the money question,
increasingly annoying, increasingly ominous; there was the realization
that liquor had become a practical necessity to their amusement--not an
uncommon phenomenon in the British aristocracy of a hundred years ago,
but a somewhat alarming one in a civilization steadily becoming more
temperate and more circumspect. Moreover, both of them seemed vaguely
weaker in fibre, not so much in what they did as in their subtle
reactions to the civilization about them. In Gloria had been born
something that she had hitherto never needed--the skeleton, incomplete
but nevertheless unmistakable, of her ancient abhorrence, a conscience.
This admission to herself was coincidental with the slow decline of her
Then, on the August morning after Adam Patch's unexpected call, they
awoke, nauseated and tired, dispirited with life, capable only of one
"Well?" Anthony sat up in bed and looked down at her. The corners of his
lips were drooping with depression, his voice was strained and hollow.
Her reply was to raise her hand to her mouth and begin a slow, precise
nibbling at her finger.
"We've done it," he said after a pause; then, as she was still silent,
he became exasperated. "Why don't you say something?"
"What on earth do you want me to say?"
"What are you thinking?"
"Then stop biting your finger!"
Ensued a short confused discussion of whether or not she had been
thinking. It seemed essential to Anthony that she should muse aloud upon
last night's disaster. Her silence was a method of settling the
responsibility on him. For her part she saw no necessity for speech--the
moment required that she should gnaw at her finger like a nervous child.
"I've got to fix up this damn mess with my grandfather," he said with
uneasy conviction. A faint newborn respect was indicated by his use of
"my grandfather" instead of "grampa."
"You can't," she affirmed abruptly. "You can't--_ever_. He'll never
forgive you as long as he lives."
"Perhaps not," agreed Anthony miserably. "Still--I might possibly square
myself by some sort of reformation and all that sort of thing--"
"He looked sick," she interrupted, "pale as flour."
"He _is_ sick. I told you that three months ago."
"I wish he'd died last week!" she said petulantly. "Inconsiderate old
Neither of them laughed.
"But just let me say," she added quietly, "the next time I see you
acting with any woman like you did with Rachael Barnes last night, I'll
leave you--_just--like--that!_ I'm simply _not_ going to stand it!"
"Oh, don't be absurd," he protested. "You know there's no woman in the
world for me except you--none, dearest."
His attempt at a tender note failed miserably--the more imminent danger
stalked back into the foreground.
"If I went to him," suggested Anthony, "and said with appropriate
biblical quotations that I'd walked too long in the way of
unrighteousness and at last seen the light--" He broke off and glanced
with a whimsical expression at his wife. "I wonder what he'd do?"
"I don't know."
She was speculating as to whether or not their guests would have the
acumen to leave directly after breakfast.
Not for a week did Anthony muster the courage to go to Tarrytown. The
prospect was revolting and left alone he would have been incapable of
making the trip--but if his will had deteriorated in these past three
years, so had his power to resist urging. Gloria compelled him to go. It
was all very well to wait a week, she said, for that would give his
grandfather's violent animosity time to cool--but to wait longer would
be an error--it would give it a chance to harden.
He went, in trepidation ... and vainly. Adam Patch was not well, said
Shuttleworth indignantly. Positive instructions had been given that no
one was to see him. Before the ex-"gin-physician's" vindictive eye
Anthony's front wilted. He walked out to his taxicab with what was
almost a slink--recovering only a little of his self-respect as he
boarded the train; glad to escape, boylike, to the wonder palaces of
consolation that still rose and glittered in his own mind.
Gloria was scornful when he returned to Marietta. Why had he not forced
his way in? That was what she would have done!
Between them they drafted a letter to the old man, and after
considerable revision sent it off. It was half an apology, half a
manufactured explanation. The letter was not answered.
Came a day in September, a day slashed with alternate sun and rain, sun
without warmth, rain without freshness. On that day they left the gray
house, which had seen the flower of their love. Four trunks and three
monstrous crates were piled in the dismantled room where, two years
before, they had sprawled lazily, thinking in terms of dreams, remote,
languorous, content. The room echoed with emptiness. Gloria, in a new
brown dress edged with fur, sat upon a trunk in silence, and Anthony
walked nervously to and fro smoking, as they waited for the truck that
would take their things to the city.
"What are those?" she demanded, pointing to some books piled upon one of
"That's my old stamp collection," he confessed sheepishly. "I forgot to
"Anthony, it's so silly to carry it around."
"Well, I was looking through it the day we left the apartment last
spring, and I decided not to store it."
"Can't you sell it? Haven't we enough junk?"
"I'm sorry," he said humbly.
With a thunderous rattling the truck rolled up to the door. Gloria shook
her fist defiantly at the four walls.
"I'm so glad to go!" she cried, "so glad. Oh, my God, how I hate this
So the brilliant and beautiful lady went up with her husband to New
York. On the very train that bore them away they quarrelled--her bitter
words had the frequency, the regularity, the inevitability of the
stations they passed.
"Don't be cross," begged Anthony piteously. "We've got nothing but each
other, after all."
"We haven't even that, most of the time," cried Gloria.
"When haven't we?"
"A lot of times--beginning with one occasion on the station platform at
"You don't mean to say that--"
"No," she interrupted coolly, "I don't brood over it. It came and
went--and when it went it took something with it."
She finished abruptly. Anthony sat in silence, confused, depressed. The
drab visions of train-side Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Rye, Pelham Manor,
succeeded each other with intervals of bleak and shoddy wastes posing
ineffectually as country. He found himself remembering how on one summer
morning they two had started from New York in search of happiness. They
had never expected to find it, perhaps, yet in itself that quest had
been happier than anything he expected forevermore. Life, it seemed,
must be a setting up of props around one--otherwise it was disaster.
There was no rest, no quiet. He had been futile in longing to drift and
dream; no one drifted except to maelstroms, no one dreamed, without his
dreams becoming fantastic nightmares of indecision and regret.
Pelham! They had quarrelled in Pelham because Gloria must drive. And
when she set her little foot on the accelerator the car had jumped off
spunkily, and their two heads had jerked back like marionettes worked by
a single string.
The Bronx--the houses gathering and gleaming in the sun, which was
falling now through wide refulgent skies and tumbling caravans of light
down into the streets. New York, he supposed, was home--the city of
luxury and mystery, of preposterous hopes and exotic dreams. Here on the
outskirts absurd stucco palaces reared themselves in the cool sunset,
poised for an instant in cool unreality, glided off far away, succeeded
by the mazed confusion of the Harlem River. The train moved in through
the deepening twilight, above and past half a hundred cheerful sweating
streets of the upper East Side, each one passing the car window like the
space between the spokes of a gigantic wheel, each one with its vigorous
colorful revelation of poor children swarming in feverish activity like
vivid ants in alleys of red sand. From the tenement windows leaned
rotund, moon-shaped mothers, as constellations of this sordid heaven;
women like dark imperfect jewels, women like vegetables, women like
great bags of abominably dirty laundry.
"I like these streets," observed Anthony aloud. "I always feel as though
it's a performance being staged for me; as though the second I've passed
they'll all stop leaping and laughing and, instead, grow very sad,
remembering how poor they are, and retreat with bowed heads into their
houses. You often get that effect abroad, but seldom in this country."
Down in a tall busy street he read a dozen Jewish names on a line of
stores; in the door of each stood a dark little man watching the passers
from intent eyes--eyes gleaming with suspicion, with pride, with
clarity, with cupidity, with comprehension. New York--he could not
dissociate it now from the slow, upward creep of this people--the little
stores, growing, expanding, consolidating, moving, watched over with
hawk's eyes and a bee's attention to detail--they slathered out on all
sides. It was impressive--in perspective it was tremendous.
Gloria's voice broke in with strange appropriateness upon his thoughts.
"I wonder where Bloeckman's been this summer."
After the sureties of youth there sets in a period of intense and
intolerable complexity. With the soda-jerker this period is so short as
to be almost negligible. Men higher in the scale hold out longer in the
attempt to preserve the ultimate niceties of relationship, to retain
"impractical" ideas of integrity. But by the late twenties the business
has grown too intricate, and what has hitherto been imminent and
confusing has become gradually remote and dim. Routine comes down like
twilight on a harsh landscape, softening it until it is tolerable. The
complexity is too subtle, too varied; the values are changing utterly
with each lesion of vitality; it has begun to appear that we can learn
nothing from the past with which to face the future--so we cease to be
impulsive, convincible men, interested in what is ethically true by fine
margins, we substitute rules of conduct for ideas of integrity, we value
safety above romance, we become, quite unconsciously, pragmatic. It is
left to the few to be persistently concerned with the nuances of
relationships--and even this few only in certain hours especially set
aside for the task.
Anthony Patch had ceased to be an individual of mental adventure, of
curiosity, and had become an individual of bias and prejudice, with a
longing to be emotionally undisturbed. This gradual change had taken
place through the past several years, accelerated by a succession of
anxieties preying on his mind. There was, first of all, the sense of
waste, always dormant in his heart, now awakened by the circumstances of
his position. In his moments of insecurity he was haunted by the
suggestion that life might be, after all, significant. In his early
twenties the conviction of the futility of effort, of the wisdom of
abnegation, had been confirmed by the philosophies he had admired as
well as by his association with Maury Noble, and later with his wife.
Yet there had been occasions--just before his first meeting with Gloria,
for example, and when his grandfather had suggested that he should go
abroad as a war correspondent--upon which his dissatisfaction had driven
him almost to a positive step.
One day just before they left Marietta for the last time, in carelessly
turning over the pages of a Harvard Alumni Bulletin, he had found a
column which told him what his contemporaries had been about in this six
years since graduation. Most of them were in business, it was true, and
several were converting the heathen of China or America to a nebulous
protestantism; but a few, he found, were working constructively at jobs
that were neither sinecures nor routines. There was Calvin Boyd, for
instance, who, though barely out of medical school, had discovered a new
treatment for typhus, had shipped abroad and was mitigating some of the
civilization that the Great Powers had brought to Servia; there was
Eugene Bronson, whose articles in The New Democracy were stamping him as
a man with ideas transcending both vulgar timeliness and popular
hysteria; there was a man named Daly who had been suspended from the
faculty of a righteous university for preaching Marxian doctrines in the
classroom: in art, science, politics, he saw the authentic personalities
of his time emerging--there was even Severance, the quarter-back, who
had given up his life rather neatly and gracefully with the Foreign
Legion on the Aisne.
He laid down the magazine and thought for a while about these diverse
men. In the days of his integrity he would have defended his attitude to
the last--an Epicurus in Nirvana, he would have cried that to struggle
was to believe, to believe was to limit. He would as soon have become a
churchgoer because the prospect of immortality gratified him as he would
have considered entering the leather business because the intensity of
the competition would have kept him from unhappiness. But at present he
had no such delicate scruples. This autumn, as his twenty-ninth year
began, he was inclined to close his mind to many things, to avoid prying
deeply into motive and first causes, and mostly to long passionately for
security from the world and from himself. He hated to be alone, as has
been said he often dreaded being alone with Gloria.
Because of the chasm which his grandfather's visit had opened before
him, and the consequent revulsion from his late mode of life, it was
inevitable that he should look around in this suddenly hostile city for
the friends and environments that had once seemed the warmest and most
secure. His first step was a desperate attempt to get back his old
In the spring of 1912 he had signed a four-year lease at seventeen
hundred a year, with an option of renewal. This lease had expired the
previous May. When he had first rented the rooms they had been mere
potentialities, scarcely to be discerned as that, but Anthony had seen
into these potentialities and arranged in the lease that he and the
landlord should each spend a certain amount in improvements. Rents had
gone up in the past four years, and last spring when Anthony had waived
his option the landlord, a Mr. Sohenberg, had realized that he could get
a much bigger price for what was now a prepossessing apartment.
Accordingly, when Anthony approached him on the subject in September he
was met with Sohenberg's offer of a three-year lease at twenty-five
hundred a year. This, it seemed to Anthony, was outrageous. It meant
that well over a third of their income would be consumed in rent. In
vain he argued that his own money, his own ideas on the repartitioning,
had made the rooms attractive.
In vain he offered two thousand dollars--twenty-two hundred, though they
could ill afford it: Mr. Sohenberg was obdurate. It seemed that two
other gentlemen were considering it; just that sort of an apartment was
in demand for the moment, and it would scarcely be business to _give_ it
to Mr. Patch. Besides, though he had never mentioned it before, several
of the other tenants had complained of noise during the previous
winter--singing and dancing late at night, that sort of thing.
Internally raging Anthony hurried back to the Ritz to report his
discomfiture to Gloria.
"I can just see you," she stormed, "letting him back you down!"
"What could I say?"
"You could have told him what he _was_. I wouldn't have _stood_ it. No
other man in the world would have stood it! You just let people order
you around and cheat you and bully you and take advantage of you as if
you were a silly little boy. It's absurd!"
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, don't lose your temper."
"I know, Anthony, but you _are_ such an ass!"
"Well, possibly. Anyway, we can't afford that apartment. But we can
afford it better than living here at the Ritz."
"You were the one who insisted on coming here."
"Yes, because I knew you'd be miserable in a cheap hotel."
"Of course I would!"
"At any rate we've got to find a place to live."
"How much can we pay?" she demanded.
"Well, we can pay even his price if we sell more bonds, but we agreed
last night that until I had gotten something definite to do we-"
"Oh, I know all that. I asked you how much we can pay out of just our
"They say you ought not to pay more than a fourth."
"How much is a fourth?"
"One hundred and fifty a month."
"Do you mean to say we've got only six hundred dollars coming in every
month?" A subdued note crept into her voice.
"Of course!" he answered angrily. "Do you think we've gone on spending
more than twelve thousand a year without cutting way into our capital?"
"I knew we'd sold bonds, but--have we spent that much a year? How did
we?" Her awe increased.
"Oh, I'll look in those careful account-books we kept," he remarked
ironically, and then added: "Two rents a good part of the time, clothes,
travel--why, each of those springs in California cost about four
thousand dollars. That darn car was an expense from start to finish. And
parties and amusements and--oh, one thing or another."
They were both excited now and inordinately depressed. The situation
seemed worse in the actual telling Gloria than it had when he had first
made the discovery himself.
"You've got to make some money," she said suddenly.
"I know it."
"And you've got to make another attempt to see your grandfather."
"When we get settled."
This eventuality occurred a week later. They rented a small apartment on
Fifty-seventh Street at one hundred and fifty a month. It included
bedroom, living-room, kitchenette, and bath, in a thin, white-stone
apartment house, and though the rooms were too small to display
Anthony's best furniture, they were clean, new, and, in a blonde and
sanitary way, not unattractive. Bounds had gone abroad to enlist in the
British army, and in his place they tolerated rather than enjoyed the
services of a gaunt, big-boned Irishwoman, whom Gloria loathed because
she discussed the glories of Sinn Fein as she served breakfast. But they
vowed they would have no more Japanese, and English servants were for
the present hard to obtain. Like Bounds, the woman prepared only
breakfast. Their other meals they took at restaurants and hotels.
What finally drove Anthony post-haste up to Tarrytown was an
announcement in several New York papers that Adam Patch, the
multimillionaire, the philanthropist, the venerable uplifter, was
seriously ill and not expected to recover.
Anthony could not see him. The doctors' instructions were that he was to
talk to no one, said Mr. Shuttleworth--who offered kindly to take any
message that Anthony might care to intrust with him, and deliver it to
Adam Patch when his condition permitted. But by obvious innuendo he
confirmed Anthony's melancholy inference that the prodigal grandson
would be particularly unwelcome at the bedside. At one point in the
conversation Anthony, with Gloria's positive instructions in mind, made
a move as though to brush by the secretary, but Shuttleworth with a
smile squared his brawny shoulders, and Anthony saw how futile such an
attempt would be.
Miserably intimidated, he returned to New York, where husband and wife
passed a restless week. A little incident that occurred one evening
indicated to what tension their nerves were drawn.
Walking home along a cross-street after dinner, Anthony noticed a
night-bound cat prowling near a railing.
"I always have an instinct to kick a cat," he said idly.
"I like them."
"I yielded to it once."
"Oh, years ago; before I met you. One night between the acts of a show.
Cold night, like this, and I was a little tight--one of the first times
I was ever tight," he added. "The poor little beggar was looking for a
place to sleep, I guess, and I was in a mean mood, so it took my fancy
to kick it--"
"Oh, the poor kitty!" cried Gloria, sincerely moved. Inspired with the
narrative instinct, Anthony enlarged on the theme.
"It was pretty bad," he admitted. "The poor little beast turned around
and looked at me rather plaintively as though hoping I'd pick him up and
be kind to him--he was really just a kitten--and before he knew it a big
foot launched out at him and caught his little back"
"Oh!" Gloria's cry was full of anguish.
"It was such a cold night," he continued, perversely, keeping his voice
upon a melancholy note. "I guess it expected kindness from somebody, and
it got only pain--"
He broke off suddenly--Gloria was sobbing. They had reached home, and
when they entered the apartment she threw herself upon the lounge,
crying as though he had struck at her very soul.
"Oh, the poor little kitty!" she repeated piteously, "the poor little
kitty. So cold--"
"Don't come near me! Please, don't come near me. You killed the soft
Touched, Anthony knelt beside her.
"Dear," he said. "Oh, Gloria, darling. It isn't true. I invented
it--every word of it."
But she would not believe him. There had been something in the details
he had chosen to describe that made her cry herself asleep that night,
for the kitten, for Anthony for herself, for the pain and bitterness and
cruelty of all the world.
THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN MORALIST
Old Adam died on a midnight of late November with a pious compliment to
his God on his thin lips. He, who had been flattered so much, faded out
flattering the Omnipotent Abstraction which he fancied he might have
angered in the more lascivious moments of his youth. It was announced
that he had arranged some sort of an armistice with the deity, the terms
of which were not made public, though they were thought to have included
a large cash payment. All the newspapers printed his biography, and two
of them ran short editorials on his sterling worth, and his part in the
drama of industrialism, with which he had grown up. They referred
guardedly to the reforms he had sponsored and financed. The memories of
Comstock and Cato the Censor were resuscitated and paraded like gaunt
ghosts through the columns.
Every newspaper remarked that he was survived by a single grandson,
Anthony Comstock Patch, of New York.
The burial took place in the family plot at Tarrytown. Anthony and
Gloria rode in the first carriage, too worried to feel grotesque, both
trying desperately to glean presage of fortune from the faces of
retainers who had been with him at the end.
They waited a frantic week for decency, and then, having received no
notification of any kind, Anthony called up his grandfather's lawyer.
Mr. Brett was not he was expected back in an hour. Anthony left his
It was the last day of November, cool and crackling outside, with a
lustreless sun peering bleakly in at the windows. While they waited for
the call, ostensibly engaged in reading, the atmosphere, within and
without, seemed pervaded with a deliberate rendition of the pathetic
fallacy. After an interminable while, the bell jingled, and Anthony,
starting violently, took up the receiver.
"Hello ..." His voice was strained and hollow. "Yes--I did leave word.
Who is this, please? ... Yes.... Why, it was about the estate. Naturally
I'm interested, and I've received no word about the reading of the
will--I thought you might not have my address.... What? ... Yes ..."
Gloria fell on her knees. The intervals between Anthony's speeches were
like tourniquets winding on her heart. She found herself helplessly
twisting the large buttons from a velvet cushion. Then:
"That's--that's very, very odd--that's very odd--that's very odd. Not
even any--ah--mention or any--ah--reason?"
His voice sounded faint and far away. She uttered a little sound, half
gasp, half cry.
"Yes, I'll see.... All right, thanks ... thanks...."
The phone clicked. Her eyes looking along the floor saw his feet cut the
pattern of a patch of sunlight on the carpet. She arose and faced him
with a gray, level glance just as his arms folded about her.
"My dearest," he whispered huskily. "He did it, God damn him!"
"Who are the heirs?" asked Mr. Haight. "You see when you can tell me so
little about it--"
Mr. Haight was tall and bent and beetle-browed. He had been recommended
to Anthony as an astute and tenacious lawyer.
"I only know vaguely," answered Anthony. "A man named Shuttleworth, who
was a sort of pet of his, has the whole thing in charge as administrator
or trustee or something--all except the direct bequests to charity and
the provisions for servants and for those two cousins in Idaho."
"How distant are the cousins?"
"Oh, third or fourth, anyway. I never even heard of them."
Mr. Haight nodded comprehensively.
"And you want to contest a provision of the will?"
"I guess so," admitted Anthony helplessly. "I want to do what sounds
most hopeful--that's what I want you to tell me."
"You want them to refuse probate to the will?"
Anthony shook his head.
"You've got me. I haven't any idea what 'probate' is. I want a share of
"Suppose you tell me some more details. For instance, do you know why
the testator disinherited you?"
"Why--yes," began Anthony. "You see he was always a sucker for moral
reform, and all that--"
"I know," interjected Mr. Haight humorlessly.
"--and I don't suppose he ever thought I was much good. I didn't go into
business, you see. But I feel certain that up to last summer I was one
of the beneficiaries. We had a house out in Marietta, and one night
grandfather got the notion he'd come over and see us. It just happened
that there was a rather gay party going on and he arrived without any
warning. Well, he took one look, he and this fellow Shuttleworth, and
then turned around and tore right back to Tarrytown. After that he never
answered my letters or even let me see him."
"He was a prohibitionist, wasn't he?"
"He was everything--regular religious maniac."
"How long before his death was the will made that disinherited you?"
"Recently--I mean since August."
"And you think that the direct reason for his not leaving you the
majority of the estate was his displeasure with your recent actions?"
Mr. Haight considered. Upon what grounds was Anthony thinking of
contesting the will?
"Why, isn't there something about evil influence?"
"Undue influence is one ground--but it's the most difficult. You would
have to show that such pressure was brought to bear so that the deceased
was in a condition where he disposed of his property contrary to his
"Well, suppose this fellow Shuttleworth dragged him over to Marietta
just when he thought some sort of a celebration was probably going on?"
"That wouldn't have any bearing on the case. There's a strong division
between advice and influence. You'd have to prove that the secretary had
a sinister intention. I'd suggest some other grounds. A will is
automatically refused probate in case of insanity, drunkenness"--here
Anthony smiled--"or feeble-mindedness through premature old age."
"But," objected Anthony, "his private physician, being one of the
beneficiaries, would testify that he wasn't feeble-minded. And he
wasn't. As a matter of fact he probably did just what he intended to
with his money--it was perfectly consistent with everything he'd ever
done in his life--"
"Well, you see, feeble-mindedness is a great deal like undue
influence--it implies that the property wasn't disposed of as originally
intended. The most common ground is duress--physical pressure."
Anthony shook his head.
"Not much chance on that, I'm afraid. Undue influence sounds best to
After more discussion, so technical as to be largely unintelligible to
Anthony, he retained Mr. Haight as counsel. The lawyer proposed an
interview with Shuttleworth, who, jointly with Wilson, Hiemer and Hardy,
was executor of the will. Anthony was to come back later in the week.
It transpired that the estate consisted of approximately forty million
dollars. The largest bequest to an individual was of one million, to
Edward Shuttleworth, who received in addition thirty thousand a year
salary as administrator of the thirty-million-dollar trust fund, left to
be doled out to various charities and reform societies practically at
his own discretion. The remaining nine millions were proportioned among
the two cousins in Idaho and about twenty-five other beneficiaries:
friends, secretaries, servants, and employees, who had, at one time or
another, earned the seal of Adam Patch's approval.
At the end of another fortnight Mr. Haight, on a retainer's fee of
fifteen thousand dollars, had begun preparations for contesting
THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT
Before they had been two months in the little apartment on Fifty-seventh
Street, it had assumed for both of them the same indefinable but almost
material taint that had impregnated the gray house in Marietta. There
was the odor of tobacco always--both of them smoked incessantly; it was
in their clothes, their blankets, the curtains, and the ash-littered
carpets. Added to this was the wretched aura of stale wine, with its
inevitable suggestion of beauty gone foul and revelry remembered in
disgust. About a particular set of glass goblets on the sideboard the
odor was particularly noticeable, and in the main room the mahogany
table was ringed with white circles where glasses had been set down upon
it. There had been many parties--people broke things; people became sick
in Gloria's bathroom; people spilled wine; people made unbelievable
messes of the kitchenette.
These things were a regular part of their existence. Despite the
resolutions of many Mondays it was tacitly understood as the week end
approached that it should be observed with some sort of unholy
excitement. When Saturday came they would not discuss the matter, but
would call up this person or that from among their circle of
sufficiently irresponsible friends, and suggest a rendezvous. Only after
the friends had gathered and Anthony had set out decanters, would he
murmur casually "I guess I'll have just one high-ball myself--"
Then they were off for two days--realizing on a wintry dawn that they
had been the noisiest and most conspicuous members of the noisiest and
most conspicuous party at the Boul' Mich', or the Club Ramée, or at
other resorts much less particular about the hilarity of their
clientèle. They would find that they had, somehow, squandered eighty or
ninety dollars, how, they never knew; they customarily attributed it to
the general penury of the "friends" who had accompanied them.
It began to be not unusual for the more sincere of their friends to
remonstrate with them, in the very course of a party, and to predict a
sombre end for them in the loss of Gloria's "looks" and Anthony's
The story of the summarily interrupted revel in Marietta had, of course,
leaked out in detail--"Muriel doesn't mean to tell every one she knows,"
said Gloria to Anthony, "but she thinks every one she tells is the only
one she's going to tell"--and, diaphanously veiled, the tale had been
given a conspicuous place in Town Tattle. When the terms of Adam Patch's
will were made public and the newspapers printed items concerning
Anthony's suit, the story was beautifully rounded out--to Anthony's
infinite disparagement. They began to hear rumors about themselves from
all quarters, rumors founded usually on a soupcon of truth, but overlaid
with preposterous and sinister detail.
Outwardly they showed no signs of deterioration. Gloria at twenty-six
was still the Gloria of twenty; her complexion a fresh damp setting for
her candid eyes; her hair still a childish glory, darkening slowly from
corn color to a deep russet gold; her slender body suggesting ever a
nymph running and dancing through Orphic groves. Masculine eyes, dozens
of them, followed her with a fascinated stare when she walked through a
hotel lobby or down the aisle of a theatre. Men asked to be introduced
to her, fell into prolonged states of sincere admiration, made definite
love to her--for she was still a thing of exquisite and unbelievable
beauty. And for his part Anthony had rather gained than lost in
appearance; his face had taken on a certain intangible air of tragedy,
romantically contrasted with his trim and immaculate person.
Early in the winter, when all conversation turned on the probability of
America's going into the war, when Anthony was making a desperate and
sincere attempt to write, Muriel Kane arrived in New York and came
immediately to see them. Like Gloria, she seemed never to change. She
knew the latest slang, danced the latest dances, and talked of the
latest songs and plays with all the fervor of her first season as a New
York drifter. Her coyness was eternally new, eternally ineffectual; her
clothes were extreme; her black hair was bobbed, now, like Gloria's.
"I've come up for the midwinter prom at New Haven," she announced,
imparting her delightful secret. Though she must have been older then
than any of the boys in college, she managed always to secure some sort
of invitation, imagining vaguely that at the next party would occur the
flirtation which was to end at the romantic altar.
"Where've you been?" inquired Anthony, unfailingly amused.
"I've been at Hot Springs. It's been slick and peppy this fall--more
"Are you in love, Muriel?"
"What do you mean 'love'?" This was the rhetorical question of the year.
"I'm going to tell you something," she said, switching the subject
abruptly. "I suppose it's none of my business, but I think it's time for
you two to settle down."
"Why, we are settled down."
"Yes, you are!" she scoffed archly. "Everywhere I go I hear stories of
your escapades. Let me tell you, I have an awful time sticking up
"You needn't bother," said Gloria coldly.
"Now, Gloria," she protested, "you know I'm one of your best friends."
Gloria was silent. Muriel continued:
"It's not so much the idea of a woman drinking, but Gloria's so pretty,
and so many people know her by sight all around, that it's naturally
"What have you heard recently?" demanded Gloria, her dignity going down
before her curiosity.
"Well, for instance, that that party in Marietta _killed_ Anthony's
Instantly husband and wife were tense with annoyance.
"Why, I think that's outrageous."
"That's what they say," persisted Muriel stubbornly.
Anthony paced the room. "It's preposterous!" he declared. "The very
people we take on parties shout the story around as a great joke--and
eventually it gets back to us in some such form as this."
Gloria began running her finger through a stray red-dish curl. Muriel
licked her veil as she considered her next remark.
"You ought to have a baby."
Gloria looked up wearily.
"We can't afford it."
"All the people in the slums have them," said Muriel triumphantly.
Anthony and Gloria exchanged a smile. They had reached the stage of
violent quarrels that were never made up, quarrels that smouldered and
broke out again at intervals or died away from sheer indifference--but
this visit of Muriel's drew them temporarily together. When the
discomfort under which they were living was remarked upon by a third
party, it gave them the impetus to face this hostile world together. It
was very seldom, now, that the impulse toward reunion sprang
Anthony found himself associating his own existence with that of the
apartment's night elevator man, a pale, scraggly bearded person of about
sixty, with an air of being somewhat above his station. It was probably
because of this quality that he had secured the position; it made him a
pathetic and memorable figure of failure. Anthony recollected, without
humor, a hoary jest about the elevator man's career being a matter of
ups and downs--it was, at any rate, an enclosed life of infinite
dreariness. Each time Anthony stepped into the car he waited
breathlessly for the old man's "Well, I guess we're going to have some
sunshine to-day." Anthony thought how little rain or sunshine he would
enjoy shut into that close little cage in the smoke-colored,
A darkling figure, he attained tragedy in leaving the life that had used
him so shabbily. Three young gunmen came in one night, tied him up and
left him on a pile of coal in the cellar while they went through the
trunk room. When the janitor found him next morning he had collapsed
from chill. He died of pneumonia four days later.
He was replaced by a glib Martinique negro, with an incongruous British
accent and a tendency to be surly, whom Anthony detested. The passing of
the old man had approximately the same effect on him that the kitten
story had had on Gloria. He was reminded of the cruelty of all life and,
in consequence, of the increasing bitterness of his own.
He was writing--and in earnest at last. He had gone to Dick and listened
for a tense hour to an elucidation of those minutiae of procedure which
hitherto he had rather scornfully looked down upon. He needed money
immediately--he was selling bonds every month to pay their bills. Dick
was frank and explicit:
"So far as articles on literary subjects in these obscure magazines go,
you couldn't make enough to pay your rent. Of course if a man has the
gift of humor, or a chance at a big biography, or some specialized
knowledge, he may strike it rich. But for you, fiction's the only thing.
You say you need money right away?"
"I certainly do."
"Well, it'd be a year and a half before you'd make any money out of a
novel. Try some popular short stories. And, by the way, unless they're
exceptionally brilliant they have to be cheerful and on the side of the
heaviest artillery to make you any money."
Anthony thought of Dick's recent output, which had been appearing in a
well-known monthly. It was concerned chiefly with the preposterous
actions of a class of sawdust effigies who, one was assured, were New
York society people, and it turned, as a rule, upon questions of the
heroine's technical purity, with mock-sociological overtones about the
"mad antics of the four hundred."
"But your stories--" exclaimed Anthony aloud, almost involuntarily.
"Oh, that's different," Dick asserted astoundingly. "I have a
reputation, you see, so I'm expected to deal with strong themes."
Anthony gave an interior start, realizing with this remark how much
Richard Caramel had fallen off. Did he actually think that these amazing
latter productions were as good as his first novel?
Anthony went back to the apartment and set to work. He found that the
business of optimism was no mean task. After half a dozen futile starts
he went to the public library and for a week investigated the files of a
popular magazine. Then, better equipped, he accomplished his first
story, "The Dictaphone of Fate." It was founded upon one of his few
remaining impressions of that six weeks in Wall Street the year before.
It purported to be the sunny tale of an office boy who, quite by
accident, hummed a wonderful melody into the dictaphone. The cylinder
was discovered by the boss's brother, a well-known producer of musical
comedy--and then immediately lost. The body of the story was concerned
with the pursuit of the missing cylinder and the eventual marriage of
the noble office boy (now a successful composer) to Miss Rooney, the
virtuous stenographer, who was half Joan of Arc and half Florence
He had gathered that this was what the magazines wanted. He offered, in
his protagonists, the customary denizens of the pink-and-blue literary
world, immersing them in a saccharine plot that would offend not a
single stomach in Marietta. He had it typed in double space--this last
as advised by a booklet, "Success as a Writer Made Easy," by R. Meggs
Widdlestien, which assured the ambitious plumber of the futility of
perspiration, since after a six-lesson course he could make at least a
thousand dollars a month.
After reading it to a bored Gloria and coaxing from her the immemorial
remark that it was "better than a lot of stuff that gets published," he
satirically affixed the nom de plume of "Gilles de Sade," enclosed the
proper return envelope, and sent it off.
Following the gigantic labor of conception he decided to wait until he
heard from the first story before beginning another. Dick had told him
that he might get as much as two hundred dollars. If by any chance it
did happen to be unsuited, the editor's letter would, no doubt, give him
an idea of what changes should be made.
"It is, without question, the most abominable piece of writing in
existence," said Anthony.
The editor quite conceivably agreed with him. He returned the manuscript
with a rejection slip. Anthony sent it off elsewhere and began another
story. The second one was called "The Little Open Doors"; it was written
in three days. It concerned the occult: an estranged couple were brought
together by a medium in a vaudeville show.
There were six altogether, six wretched and pitiable efforts to "write
down" by a man who had never before made a consistent effort to write at
all. Not one of them contained a spark of vitality, and their total
yield of grace and felicity was less than that of an average newspaper
column. During their circulation they collected, all told, thirty-one
rejection slips, headstones for the packages that he would find lying
like dead bodies at his door.
In mid-January Gloria's father died, and they went again to Kansas
City--a miserable trip, for Gloria brooded interminably, not upon her
father's death, but on her mother's. Russel Gilbert's affairs having
been cleared up they came into possession of about three thousand
dollars, and a great amount of furniture. This was in storage, for he
had spent his last days in a small hotel. It was due to his death that
Anthony made a new discovery concerning Gloria. On the journey East she
disclosed herself, astonishingly, as a Bilphist.
"Why, Gloria," he cried, "you don't mean to tell me you believe that
"Well," she said defiantly, "why not?"
"Because it's--it's fantastic. You know that in every sense of the word
you're an agnostic. You'd laugh at any orthodox form of
Christianity--and then you come out with the statement that you believe
in some silly rule of reincarnation."
"What if I do? I've heard you and Maury, and every one else for whose
intellect I have the slightest respect, agree that life as it appears is
utterly meaningless. But it's always seemed to me that if I were
unconsciously learning something here it might not be so meaningless."
"You're not learning anything--you're just getting tired. And if you
must have a faith to soften things, take up one that appeals to the
reason of some one beside a lot of hysterical women. A person like you
oughtn't to accept anything unless it's decently demonstrable."
"I don't care about truth. I want some happiness."
"Well, if you've got a decent mind the second has got to be qualified by
the first. Any simple soul can delude himself with mental garbage."
"I don't care," she held out stoutly, "and, what's more, I'm not
propounding any doctrine."
The argument faded off, but reoccurred to Anthony several times
thereafter. It was disturbing to find this old belief, evidently
assimilated from her mother, inserting itself again under its immemorial
disguise as an innate idea.
They reached New York in March after an expensive and ill-advised week
spent in Hot Springs, and Anthony resumed his abortive attempts at
fiction. As it became plainer to both of them that escape did not lie in
the way of popular literature, there was a further slipping of their
mutual confidence and courage. A complicated struggle went on
incessantly between them. All efforts to keep down expenses died away
from sheer inertia, and by March they were again using any pretext as an
excuse for a "party." With an assumption of recklessness Gloria tossed
out the suggestion that they should take all their money and go on a
real spree while it lasted--anything seemed better than to see it go in
"Gloria, you want parties as much as I do."
"It doesn't matter about me. Everything I do is in accordance with my
ideas: to use every minute of these years, when I'm young, in having the
best time I possibly can."
"How about after that?"
"After that I won't care."
"Yes, you will."
"Well, I may--but I won't be able to do anything about it. And I'll have
had my good time."
"You'll be the same then. After a fashion, we _have_ had our good time,
raised the devil, and we're in the state of paying for it."
Nevertheless, the money kept going. There would be two days of gaiety,
two days of moroseness--an endless, almost invariable round. The sharp
pull-ups, when they occurred, resulted usually in a spurt of work for
Anthony, while Gloria, nervous and bored, remained in bed or else chewed
abstractedly at her fingers. After a day or so of this, they would make
an engagement, and then--Oh, what did it matter? This night, this glow,
the cessation of anxiety and the sense that if living was not purposeful
it was, at any rate, essentially romantic! Wine gave a sort of gallantry
to their own failure.
Meanwhile the suit progressed slowly, with interminable examinations of
witnesses and marshallings of evidence. The preliminary proceedings of
settling the estate were finished. Mr. Haight saw no reason why the case
should not come up for trial before summer.
Bloeckman appeared in New York late in March; he had been in England for
nearly a year on matters concerned with "Films Par Excellence." The
process of general refinement was still in progress--always he dressed a
little better, his intonation was mellower, and in his manner there was
perceptibly more assurance that the fine things of the world were his by
a natural and inalienable right. He called at the apartment, remained
only an hour, during which he talked chiefly of the war, and left
telling them he was coming again. On his second visit Anthony was not at
home, but an absorbed and excited Gloria greeted her husband later in
"Anthony," she began, "would you still object if I went in the movies?"
His whole heart hardened against the idea. As she seemed to recede from
him, if only in threat, her presence became again not so much precious
as desperately necessary.
"Blockhead said he'd put me in--only if I'm ever going to do anything
I'll have to start now. They only want young women. Think of the
"For you--yes. But how about me?"
"Don't you know that anything I have is yours too?"
"It's such a hell of a career!" he burst out, the moral, the infinitely
circumspect Anthony, "and such a hell of a bunch. And I'm so utterly
tired of that fellow Bloeckman coming here and interfering. I hate
"It isn't theatrical! It's utterly different."
"What am I supposed to do? Chase you all over the country? Live on your
"Then make some yourself."
The conversation developed into one of the most violent quarrels they
had ever had. After the ensuing reconciliation and the inevitable period
of moral inertia, she realized that he had taken the life out of the
project. Neither of them ever mentioned the probability that Bloeckman
was by no means disinterested, but they both knew that it lay back of
In April war was declared with Germany. Wilson and his cabinet--a
cabinet that in its lack of distinction was strangely reminiscent of the
twelve apostles--let loose the carefully starved dogs of war, and the
press began to whoop hysterically against the sinister morals, sinister
philosophy, and sinister music produced by the Teutonic temperament.
Those who fancied themselves particularly broad-minded made the
exquisite distinction that it was only the German Government which
aroused them to hysteria; the rest were worked up to a condition of
retching indecency. Any song which contained the word "mother" and the
word "kaiser" was assured of a tremendous success. At last every one had
something to talk about--and almost every one fully enjoyed it, as
though they had been cast for parts in a sombre and romantic play.
Anthony, Maury, and Dick sent in their applications for officers'
training-camps and the two latter went about feeling strangely exalted
and reproachless; they chattered to each other, like college boys, of
war's being the one excuse for, and justification of, the aristocrat,
and conjured up an impossible caste of officers, to be composed, it
appeared, chiefly of the more attractive alumni of three or four Eastern
colleges. It seemed to Gloria that in this huge red light streaming
across the nation even Anthony took on a new glamour.
The Tenth Infantry, arriving in New York from Panama, were escorted from
saloon to saloon by patriotic citizens, to their great bewilderment.
West Pointers began to be noticed for the first time in years, and the
general impression was that everything was glorious, but not half so
glorious as it was going to be pretty soon, and that everybody was a
fine fellow, and every race a great race--always excepting the
Germans--and in every strata of society outcasts and scapegoats had but
to appear in uniform to be forgiven, cheered, and wept over by
relatives, ex-friends, and utter strangers.
Unfortunately, a small and precise doctor decided that there was
something the matter with Anthony's blood-pressure. He could not
conscientiously pass him for an officers' training-camp.
THE BROKEN LUTE
Their third anniversary passed, uncelebrated, unnoticed. The season
warmed in thaw, melted into hotter summer, simmered and boiled away. In
July the will was offered for probate, and upon the contestation was
assigned by the surrogate to trial term for trial. The matter was
prolonged into September--there was difficulty in empanelling an
unbiassed jury because of the moral sentiments involved. To Anthony's
disappointment a verdict was finally returned in favor of the testator,
whereupon Mr. Haight caused a notice of appeal to be served upon Edward
As the summer waned Anthony and Gloria talked of the things they were to
do when the money was theirs, and of the places they were to go to after
the war, when they would "agree on things again," for both of them
looked forward to a time when love, springing like the phoenix from its
own ashes, should be born again in its mysterious and unfathomable haunts.
He was drafted early in the fall, and the examining doctor made no
mention of low blood-pressure. It was all very purposeless and sad when
Anthony told Gloria one night that he wanted, above all things, to be
killed. But, as always, they were sorry for each other for the wrong
things at the wrong times....
They decided that for the present she was not to go with him to the
Southern camp where his contingent was ordered. She would remain in New
York to "use the apartment," to save money, and to watch the progress of
the case--which was pending now in the Appellate Division, of which the
calendar, Mr. Haight told them, was far behind.
Almost their last conversation was a senseless quarrel about the proper
division of the income--at a word either would have given it all to the
other. It was typical of the muddle and confusion of their lives that on
the October night when Anthony reported at the Grand Central Station for
the journey to camp, she arrived only in time to catch his eye over the
anxious heads of a gathered crowd. Through the dark light of the
enclosed train-sheds their glances stretched across a hysterical area,
foul with yellow sobbing and the smells of poor women. They must have
pondered upon what they had done to one another, and each must have
accused himself of drawing this sombre pattern through which they were
tracing tragically and obscurely. At the last they were too far away for
either to see the other's tears.
A MATTER OF CIVILIZATION
At a frantic command from some invisible source, Anthony groped his way
inside. He was thinking that for the first time in more than three years
he was to remain longer than a night away from Gloria. The finality of
it appealed to him drearily. It was his clean and lovely girl that he
They had arrived, he thought, at the most practical financial
settlement: she was to have three hundred and seventy-five dollars a
month--not too much considering that over half of that would go in
rent--and he was taking fifty to supplement his pay. He saw no need for
more: food, clothes, and quarters would be provided--there were no
social obligations for a private.
The car was crowded and already thick with breath. It was one of the
type known as "tourist" cars, a sort of brummagem Pullman, with a bare
floor, and straw seats that needed cleaning. Nevertheless, Anthony
greeted it with relief. He had vaguely expected that the trip South
would be made in a freight-car, in one end of which would stand eight
horses and in the other forty men. He had heard the "hommes 40, chevaux
8" story so often that it had become confused and ominous.
As he rocked down the aisle with his barrack-bag slung at his shoulder
like a monstrous blue sausage, he saw no vacant seats, but after a
moment his eye fell on a single space at present occupied by the feet of
a short swarthy Sicilian, who, with his hat drawn over his eyes, hunched
defiantly in the corner. As Anthony stopped beside him he stared up with
a scowl, evidently intended to be intimidating; he must have adopted it
as a defense against this entire gigantic equation. At Anthony's sharp
"That seat taken?" he very slowly lifted the feet as though they were a
breakable package, and placed them with some care upon the floor. His
eyes remained on Anthony, who meanwhile sat down and unbuttoned the
uniform coat issued him at Camp Upton the day before. It chafed him
under the arms.
Before Anthony could scrutinize the other occupants of the section a
young second lieutenant blew in at the upper end of the car and wafted
airily down the aisle, announcing in a voice of appalling acerbity:
"There will be no smoking in this car! No smoking! Don't smoke, men, in
As he sailed out at the other end a dozen little clouds of expostulation
arose on all sides.
"Hey, come back here, fella!"
"What's 'ee idea?"
Two or three cigarettes were shot out through the open windows. Others
were retained inside, though kept sketchily away from view. From here
and there in accents of bravado, of mockery, of submissive humor, a few
remarks were dropped that soon melted into the listless and
The fourth occupant of Anthony's section spoke up suddenly.
"G'by, liberty," he said sullenly. "G'by, everything except bein' an
Anthony looked at him. He was a tall Irishman with an expression moulded
of indifference and utter disdain. His eyes fell on Anthony, as though
he expected an answer, and then upon the others. Receiving only a
defiant stare from the Italian he groaned and spat noisily on the floor
by way of a dignified transition back into taciturnity.
A few minutes later the door opened again and the second lieutenant was
borne in upon his customary official zephyr, this time singing out a
"All right, men, smoke if you want to! My mistake, men! It's all right,
men! Go on and smoke--my mistake!"
This time Anthony had a good look at him. He was young, thin, already
faded; he was like his own mustache; he was like a great piece of shiny
straw. His chin receded, faintly; this was offset by a magnificent and
unconvincing scowl, a scowl that Anthony was to connect with the faces
of many young officers during the ensuing year.
Immediately every one smoked--whether they had previously desired to or
not. Anthony's cigarette contributed to the hazy oxidation which seemed
to roll back and forth in opalescent clouds with every motion of the
train. The conversation, which had lapsed between the two impressive
visits of the young officer, now revived tepidly; the men across the
aisle began making clumsy experiments with their straw seats' capacity
for comparative comfort; two card games, half-heartedly begun, soon drew
several spectators to sitting positions on the arms of seats. In a few
minutes Anthony became aware of a persistently obnoxious sound--the
small, defiant Sicilian had fallen audibly asleep. It was wearisome to
contemplate that animate protoplasm, reasonable by courtesy only, shut
up in a car by an incomprehensible civilization, taken somewhere, to do
a vague something without aim or significance or consequence. Anthony
sighed, opened a newspaper which he had no recollection of buying, and
began to read by the dim yellow light.
Ten o'clock bumped stuffily into eleven; the hours clogged and caught
and slowed down. Amazingly the train halted along the dark countryside,
from time to time indulging in short, deceitful movements backward or
forward, and whistling harsh paeans into the high October night. Having
read his newspaper through, editorials, cartoons, and war-poems, his eye
fell on a half-column headed _Shakespeareville, Kansas_. It seemed that
the Shakespeareville Chamber of Commerce had recently held an
enthusiastic debate as to whether the American soldiers should be known
as "Sammies" or "Battling Christians." The thought gagged him. He
dropped the newspaper, yawned, and let his mind drift off at a tangent.
He wondered why Gloria had been late. It seemed so long ago already--he
had a pang of illusive loneliness. He tried to imagine from what angle
she would regard her new position, what place in her considerations he
would continue to hold. The thought acted as a further depressant--he
opened his paper and began to read again.
The members of the Chamber of Commerce in Shakespeareville had decided
upon "Liberty Lads."
For two nights and two days they rattled southward, making mysterious
inexplicable stops in what were apparently arid wastes, and then rushing
through large cities with a pompous air of hurry. The whimsicalities of
this train foreshadowed for Anthony the whimsicalities of all army
In the arid wastes they were served from the baggage-car with beans and
bacon that at first he was unable to eat--he dined scantily on some milk
chocolate distributed by a village canteen. But on the second day the
baggage-car's output began to appear surprisingly palatable. On the
third morning the rumor was passed along that within the hour they would
arrive at their destination, Camp Hooker.
It had become intolerably hot in the car, and the men were all in shirt
sleeves. The sun came in through the windows, a tired and ancient sun,
yellow as parchment and stretched out of shape in transit. It tried to
enter in triumphant squares and produced only warped splotches--but it
was appallingly steady; so much so that it disturbed Anthony not to be
the pivot of all the inconsequential sawmills and trees and telegraph
poles that were turning around him so fast. Outside it played its heavy
tremolo over olive roads and fallow cotton-fields, back of which ran a
ragged line of woods broken with eminences of gray rock. The foreground
was dotted sparsely with wretched, ill-patched shanties, among which
there would flash by, now and then, a specimen of the languid yokelry of
South Carolina, or else a strolling darky with sullen and
Then the woods moved off and they rolled into a broad space like the
baked top of a gigantic cake, sugared with an infinity of tents arranged
in geometric figures over its surface. The train came to an uncertain
stop, and the sun and the poles and the trees faded, and his universe
rocked itself slowly back to its old usualness, with Anthony Patch in
the centre. As the men, weary and perspiring, crowded out of the car, he
smelt that unforgetable aroma that impregnates all permanent camps--the
odor of garbage.
Camp Hooker was an astonishing and spectacular growth, suggesting "A
Mining Town in 1870--The Second Week." It was a thing of wooden shacks
and whitish-gray tents, connected by a pattern of roads, with hard tan
drill-grounds fringed with trees. Here and there stood green Y.M.C.A.
houses, unpromising oases, with their muggy odor of wet flannels and
closed telephone-booths--and across from each of them there was usually
a canteen, swarming with life, presided over indolently by an officer
who, with the aid of a side-car, usually managed to make his detail a
pleasant and chatty sinecure.
Up and down the dusty roads sped the soldiers of the quartermaster
corps, also in side-cars. Up and down drove the generals in their
government automobiles, stopping now and then to bring unalert details
to attention, to frown heavily upon captains marching at the heads of
companies, to set the pompous pace in that gorgeous game of showing off
which was taking place triumphantly over the entire area.
The first week after the arrival of Anthony's draft was filled with a
series of interminable inoculations and physical examinations, and with
the preliminary drilling. The days left him desperately tired. He had
been issued the wrong size shoes by a popular, easy-going
supply-sergeant, and in consequence his feet were so swollen that the
last hours of the afternoon were an acute torture. For the first time in
his life he could throw himself down on his cot between dinner and
afternoon drill-call, and seeming to sink with each moment deeper into a
bottomless bed, drop off immediately to sleep, while the noise and
laughter around him faded to a pleasant drone of drowsy summer sound. In
the morning he awoke stiff and aching, hollow as a ghost, and hurried
forth to meet the other ghostly figures who swarmed in the wan company
streets, while a harsh bugle shrieked and spluttered at the
He was in a skeleton infantry company of about a hundred men. After the
invariable breakfast of fatty bacon, cold toast, and cereal, the entire
hundred would rush for the latrines, which, however well-policed, seemed
always intolerable, like the lavatories in cheap hotels. Out on the
field, then, in ragged order--the lame man on his left grotesquely
marring Anthony's listless efforts to keep in step, the platoon
sergeants either showing off violently to impress the officers and
recruits, or else quietly lurking in close to the line of march,
avoiding both labor and unnecessary visibility.
When they reached the field, work began immediately--they peeled off
their shirts for calisthenics. This was the only part of the day that
Anthony enjoyed. Lieutenant Kretching, who presided at the antics, was
sinewy and muscular, and Anthony, followed his movements faithfully,
with a feeling that he was doing something of positive value to himself.
The other officers and sergeants walked about among the men with the
malice of schoolboys, grouping here and there around some unfortunate
who lacked muscular control, giving him confused instructions and
commands. When they discovered a particularly forlorn, ill-nourished
specimen, they would linger the full half-hour making cutting remarks
and snickering among themselves.
One little officer named Hopkins, who had been a sergeant in the regular
army, was particularly annoying. He took the war as a gift of revenge
from the high gods to himself, and the constant burden of his harangues
was that these rookies did not appreciate the full gravity and
responsibility of "the service." He considered that by a combination of
foresight and dauntless efficiency he had raised himself to his current
magnificence. He aped the particular tyrannies of every officer under
whom he had served in times gone by. His frown was frozen on his
brow--before giving a private a pass to go to town he would ponderously
weigh the effect of such an absence upon the company, the army, and the
welfare of the military profession the world over.
Lieutenant Kretching, blond, dull and phlegmatic, introduced Anthony
ponderously to the problems of attention, right face, about face, and at
ease. His principal defect was his forgetfulness. He often kept the
company straining and aching at attention for five minutes while he
stood out in front and explained a new movement--as a result only the men
in the centre knew what it was all about--those on both flanks had been
too emphatically impressed with the necessity of staring straight ahead.
The drill continued until noon. It consisted of stressing a succession
of infinitely remote details, and though Anthony perceived that this was
consistent with the logic of war, it none the less irritated him. That
the same faulty blood-pressure which would have been indecent in an
officer did not interfere with the duties of a private was a
preposterous incongruity. Sometimes, after listening to a sustained
invective concerned with a dull and, on the face of it, absurd subject
known as military "courtesy," he suspected that the dim purpose of the
war was to let the regular army officers--men with the mentality and
aspirations of schoolboys--have their fling with some real slaughter. He
was being grotesquely sacrificed to the twenty-year patience of
Of his three tent-mates--a flat-faced, conscientious objector from
Tennessee, a big, scared Pole, and the disdainful Celt whom he had sat
beside on the train--the two former spent the evenings in writing
eternal letters home, while the Irishman sat in the tent door whistling
over and over to himself half a dozen shrill and monotonous bird-calls.
It was rather to avoid an hour of their company than with any hope of
diversion that, when the quarantine was lifted at the end of the week,
he went into town. He caught one of the swarm of jitneys that overran
the camp each evening, and in half an hour was set down in front of the
Stonewall Hotel on the hot and drowsy main street.
Under the gathering twilight the town was unexpectedly attractive. The
sidewalks were peopled by vividly dressed, overpainted girls, who
chattered volubly in low, lazy voices, by dozens of taxi-drivers who
assailed passing officers with "Take y' anywheh, _Lieu_tenant," and by
an intermittent procession of ragged, shuffling, subservient negroes.
Anthony, loitering along through the warm dusk, felt for the first time
in years the slow, erotic breath of the South, imminent in the hot
softness of the air, in the pervasive lull, of thought and time.
He had gone about a block when he was arrested suddenly by a harsh
command at his elbow.
"Haven't you been taught to salute officers?"
He looked dumbly at the man who addressed him, a stout, black-haired
captain, who fixed him menacingly with brown pop-eyes.
"_Come to attention!_" The words were literally thundered. A few
pedestrians near by stopped and stared. A soft-eyed girl in a lilac
dress tittered to her companion.
Anthony came to attention.
"What's your regiment and company?"
Anthony told him.
"After this when you pass an officer on the street you straighten up and
"Say 'Yes, sir!'"
The stout officer grunted, turned sharply, and marched down the street.
After a moment Anthony moved on; the town was no longer indolent and
exotic; the magic was suddenly gone out of the dusk. His eyes were
turned precipitately inward upon the indignity of his position. He hated
that officer, every officer--life was unendurable.
After he had gone half a block he realized that the girl in the lilac
dress who had giggled at his discomfiture was walking with her friend
about ten paces ahead of him. Several times she had turned and stared at
Anthony, with cheerful laughter in the large eyes that seemed the same
color as her gown.
At the corner she and her companion visibly slackened their pace--he
must make his choice between joining them and passing obliviously by. He
passed, hesitated, then slowed down. In a moment the pair were abreast
of him again, dissolved in laughter now--not such strident mirth as he
would have expected in the North from actresses in this familiar comedy,
but a soft, low rippling, like the overflow from some subtle joke, into
which he had inadvertently blundered.
"How do you do?" he said.
Her eyes were soft as shadows. Were they violet, or was it their blue
darkness mingling with the gray hues of dusk?
"Pleasant evening," ventured Anthony uncertainly.
"Sure is," said the second girl.
"Hasn't been a very pleasant evening for you," sighed the girl in lilac.
Her voice seemed as much a part of the night as the drowsy breeze
stirring the wide brim of her hat.
"He had to have a chance to show off," said Anthony with a scornful
"Reckon so," she agreed.
They turned the corner and moved lackadaisically up a side street, as if
following a drifting cable to which they were attached. In this town it
seemed entirely natural to turn corners like that, it seemed natural to
be bound nowhere in particular, to be thinking nothing.... The side
street was dark, a sudden offshoot into a district of wild rose hedges
and little quiet houses set far back from the street.
"Where're you going?" he inquired politely.
"Just goin'." The answer was an apology, a question, an explanation.
"Can I stroll along with you?"
It was an advantage that her accent was different. He could not have
determined the social status of a Southerner from her talk--in New York
a girl of a lower class would have been raucous, unendurable--except
through the rosy spectacles of intoxication.
Dark was creeping down. Talking little--Anthony in careless, casual
questions, the other two with provincial economy of phrase and
burden--they sauntered past another corner, and another. In the middle
of a block they stopped beneath a lamp-post.
"I live near here," explained the other girl.
"I live around the block," said the girl in lilac.
"Can I see you home?"
"To the corner, if you want to."
The other girl took a few steps backward. Anthony removed his hat.
"You're supposed to salute," said the girl in lilac with a laugh. "All
the soldiers salute."
"I'll learn," he responded soberly.
The other girl said, "Well--" hesitated, then added, "call me up
to-morrow, Dot," and retreated from the yellow circle of the
street-lamp. Then, in silence, Anthony and the girl in lilac walked the
three blocks to the small rickety house which was her home. Outside the
wooden gate she hesitated.
"Must you go in so soon?"
"I ought to."
"Can't you stroll around a little longer?" She regarded him
"I don't even know you."
"It's not too late."
"I reckon I better go in."
"I thought we might walk down and see a movie."
"I'd like to."
"Then I could bring you home. I'd have just enough time. I've got to be
in camp by eleven."
It was so dark that he could scarcely see her now. She was a dress
swayed infinitesimally by the wind, two limpid, reckless eyes ...
"Why don't you come--Dot? Don't you like movies? Better come."
She shook her head.
"I oughtn't to."
He liked her, realizing that she was temporizing for the effect on him.
He came closer and took her hand.
"If we get back by ten, can't you? just to the movies?"
"Well--I reckon so--"
Hand in hand they walked back toward down-town, along a hazy, dusky
street where a negro newsboy was calling an extra in the cadence of the
local venders' tradition, a cadence that was as musical as song.
Anthony's affair with Dorothy Raycroft was an inevitable result of his
increasing carelessness about himself. He did not go to her desiring to
possess the desirable, nor did he fall before a personality more vital,
more compelling than his own, as he had done with Gloria four years
before. He merely slid into the matter through his inability to make
definite judgments. He could say "No!" neither to man nor woman;
borrower and temptress alike found him tender-minded and pliable. Indeed
he seldom made decisions at all, and when he did they were but
half-hysterical resolves formed in the panic of some aghast and
The particular weakness he indulged on this occasion was his need of
excitement and stimulus from without. He felt that for the first time in
four years he could express and interpret himself anew. The girl
promised rest; the hours in her company each evening alleviated the
morbid and inevitably futile poundings of his imagination. He had become
a coward in earnest--completely the slave of a hundred disordered and
prowling thoughts which were released by the collapse of the authentic
devotion to Gloria that had been the chief jailer of his insufficiency.
On that first night, as they stood by the gate, he kissed Dorothy and
made an engagement to meet her the following Saturday. Then he went out
to camp, and with the light burning lawlessly in his tent, he wrote a
long letter to Gloria, a glowing letter, full of the sentimental dark,
full of the remembered breath of flowers, full of a true and exceeding
tenderness--these things he had learned again for a moment in a kiss
given and taken under a rich warm moonlight just an hour before.
When Saturday night came he found Dot waiting at the entrance of the
Bijou Moving Picture Theatre. She was dressed as on the preceding
Wednesday in her lilac gown of frailest organdy, but it had evidently
been washed and starched since then, for it was fresh and unrumpled.
Daylight confirmed the impression he had received that in a sketchy,
faulty way she was lovely. She was clean, her features were small,
irregular, but eloquent and appropriate to each other. She was a dark,
unenduring little flower--yet he thought he detected in her some quality
of spiritual reticence, of strength drawn from her passive acceptance of
all things. In this he was mistaken.
Dorothy Raycroft was nineteen. Her father had kept a small, unprosperous
corner store, and she had graduated from high school in the lowest
fourth of her class two days before he died. At high school she had
enjoyed a rather unsavory reputation. As a matter of fact her behavior
at the class picnic, where the rumors started, had been merely
indiscreet--she had retained her technical purity until over a year
later. The boy had been a clerk in a store on Jackson Street, and on the
day after the incident he departed unexpectedly to New York. He had been
intending to leave for some time, but had tarried for the consummation
of his amorous enterprise.
After a while she confided the adventure to a girl friend, and later, as
she watched her friend disappear down the sleepy street of dusty
sunshine she knew in a flash of intuition that her story was going out
into the world. Yet after telling it she felt much better, and a little
bitter, and made as near an approach to character as she was capable of
by walking in another direction and meeting another man with the honest
intention of gratifying herself again. As a rule things happened to Dot.
She was not weak, because there was nothing in her to tell her she was
being weak. She was not strong, because she never knew that some of the
things she did were brave. She neither defied nor conformed nor
She had no sense of humor, but, to take its place, a happy disposition
that made her laugh at the proper times when she was with men. She had
no definite intentions--sometimes she regretted vaguely that her
reputation precluded what chance she had ever had for security. There
had been no open discovery: her mother was interested only in starting
her off on time each morning for the jewelry store where she earned
fourteen dollars a week. But some of the boys she had known in high
school now looked the other way when they were walking with "nice
girls," and these incidents hurt her feelings. When they occurred she
went home and cried.
Besides the Jackson Street clerk there had been two other men, of whom
the first was a naval officer, who passed through town during the early
days of the war. He had stayed over a night to make a connection, and
was leaning idly against one of the pillars of the Stonewall Hotel when
she passed by. He remained in town four days. She thought she loved
him--lavished on him that first hysteria of passion that would have gone
to the pusillanimous clerk. The naval officer's uniform--there were few
of them in those days--had made the magic. He left with vague promises
on his lips, and, once on the train, rejoiced that he had not told her
his real name.
Her resultant depression had thrown her into the arms of Cyrus Fielding,
the son of a local clothier, who had hailed her from his roadster one
day as she passed along the sidewalk. She had always known him by name.
Had she been born to a higher stratum he would have known her before.
She had descended a little lower--so he met her after all. After a month
he had gone away to training-camp, a little afraid of the intimacy, a
little relieved in perceiving that she had not cared deeply for him, and
that she was not the sort who would ever make trouble. Dot romanticized
this affair and conceded to her vanity that the war had taken these men
away from her. She told herself that she could have married the naval
officer. Nevertheless, it worried her that within eight months there had
been three men in her life. She thought with more fear than wonder in
her heart that she would soon be like those "bad girls" on Jackson
Street at whom she and her gum-chewing, giggling friends had stared with
fascinated glances three years before.
For a while she attempted to be more careful. She let men "pick her up";
she let them kiss her, and even allowed certain other liberties to be
forced upon her, but she did not add to her trio. After several months
the strength of her resolution--or rather the poignant expediency of her
fears--was worn away. She grew restless drowsing there out of life and
time while the summer months faded. The soldiers she met were either
obviously below her or, less obviously, above her--in which case they
desired only to use her; they were Yankees, harsh and ungracious; they
swarmed in large crowds.... And then she met Anthony.
On that first evening he had been little more than a pleasantly unhappy
face, a voice, the means with which to pass an hour, but when she kept
her engagement with him on Saturday she regarded him with consideration.
She liked him. Unknowingly she saw her own tragedies mirrored in
Again they went to the movies, again they wandered along the shadowy,
scented streets, hand in hand this time, speaking a little in hushed
voices. They passed through the gate--up toward the little porch--
"I can stay a while, can't I?"
"Sh!" she whispered, "we've got to be very quiet. Mother sits up reading
Snappy Stories." In confirmation he heard the faint crackling inside as
a page was turned. The open-shutter slits emitted horizontal rods of
light that fell in thin parallels across Dorothy's skirt. The street was
silent save for a group on the steps of a house across the way, who,
from time to time, raised their voices in a soft, bantering song.
"--_When you wa-ake
You shall ha-ave
All the pretty little hawsiz_--"
Then, as though it had been waiting on a near-by roof for their arrival,
the moon came slanting suddenly through the vines and turned the girl's
face to the color of white roses.
Anthony had a start of memory, so vivid that before his closed eyes
there formed a picture, distinct as a flashback on a screen--a spring
night of thaw set out of time in a half-forgotten winter five years
before--another face, radiant, flower-like, upturned to lights as
transforming as the stars--
Ah, _la belle dame sans merci_ who lived in his heart, made known to him
in transitory fading splendor by dark eyes in the Ritz-Carlton, by a
shadowy glance from a passing carriage in the Bois de Boulogne! But
those nights were only part of a song, a remembered glory--here again
were the faint winds, the illusions, the eternal present with its
promise of romance.
"Oh," she whispered, "do you love me? Do you love me?"
The spell was broken--the drifted fragments of the stars became only
light, the singing down the street diminished to a monotone, to the
whimper of locusts in the grass. With almost a sigh he kissed her
fervent mouth, while her arms crept up about his shoulders.
As the weeks dried up and blew away, the range of Anthony's travels
extended until he grew to comprehend the camp and its environment. For
the first time in his life he was in constant personal contact with the
waiters to whom he had given tips, the chauffeurs who had touched their
hats to him, the carpenters, plumbers, barbers, and farmers who had
previously been remarkable only in the subservience of their
professional genuflections. During his first two months in camp he did
not hold ten minutes' consecutive conversation with a single man.
On the service record his occupation stood as "student"; on the original
questionnaire he had prematurely written "author"; but when men in his
company asked his business he commonly gave it as bank clerk--had he
told the truth, that he did no work, they would have been suspicious of
him as a member of the leisure class.
His platoon sergeant, Pop Donnelly, was a scraggly "old soldier," worn
thin with drink. In the past he had spent unnumbered weeks in the
guard-house, but recently, thanks to the drill-master famine, he had
been elevated to his present pinnacle. His complexion was full of
shell-holes--it bore an unmistakable resemblance to those aerial
photographs of "the battle-field at Blank." Once a week he got drunk
down-town on white liquor, returned quietly to camp and collapsed upon
his bunk, joining the company at reveille looking more than ever like a
white mask of death.
He nursed the astounding delusion that he was astutely "slipping it
over" on the government--he had spent eighteen years in its service at a
minute wage, and he was soon to retire (here he usually winked) on the
impressive income of fifty-five dollars a month. He looked upon it as a
gorgeous joke that he had played upon the dozens who had bullied and
scorned him since he was a Georgia country boy of nineteen.
At present there were but two lieutenants--Hopkins and the popular
Kretching. The latter was considered a good fellow and a fine leader,
until a year later, when he disappeared with a mess fund of eleven
hundred dollars and, like so many leaders, proved exceedingly difficult
Eventually there was Captain Dunning, god of this brief but
self-sufficing microcosm. He was a reserve officer, nervous, energetic,
and enthusiastic. This latter quality, indeed, often took material form
and was visible as fine froth in the corners of his mouth. Like most
executives he saw his charges strictly from the front, and to his
hopeful eyes his command seemed just such an excellent unit as such an
excellent war deserved. For all his anxiety and absorption he was having
the time of his life.
Baptiste, the little Sicilian of the train, fell foul of him the second
week of drill. The captain had several times ordered the men to be
clean-shaven when they fell in each morning. One day there was disclosed
an alarming breech of this rule, surely a case of Teutonic
connivance--during the night four men had grown hair upon their faces.
The fact that three of the four understood a minimum of English made a
practical object-lesson only the more necessary, so Captain Dunning
resolutely sent a volunteer barber back to the company street for a
razor. Whereupon for the safety of democracy a half-ounce of hair was
scraped dry from the cheeks of three Italians and one Pole.
Outside the world of the company there appeared, from time to time, the
colonel, a heavy man with snarling teeth, who circumnavigated the
battalion drill-field upon a handsome black horse. He was a West
Pointer, and, mimetically, a gentleman. He had a dowdy wife and a dowdy
mind, and spent much of his time in town taking advantage of the army's
lately exalted social position. Last of all was the general, who
traversed the roads of the camp preceded by his flag--a figure so
austere, so removed, so magnificent, as to be scarcely comprehensible.
December. Cool winds at night now, and damp, chilly mornings on the
drill-grounds. As the heat faded, Anthony found himself increasingly
glad to be alive. Renewed strangely through his body, he worried little
and existed in the present with a sort of animal content. It was not
that Gloria or the life that Gloria represented was less often in his
thoughts--it was simply that she became, day by day, less real, less
vivid. For a week they had corresponded passionately, almost
hysterically--then by an unwritten agreement they had ceased to write
more than twice, and then once, a week. She was bored, she said; if his
brigade was to be there a long time she was coming down to join him. Mr.
Haight was going to be able to submit a stronger brief than he had
expected, but doubted that the appealed case would come up until late
spring. Muriel was in the city doing Red Cross work, and they went out
together rather often. What would Anthony think if _she_ went into the
Red Cross? Trouble was she had heard that she might have to bathe
negroes in alcohol, and after that she hadn't felt so patriotic. The
city was full of soldiers and she'd seen a lot of boys she hadn't laid
eyes on for years....
Anthony did not want her to come South. He told himself that this was
for many reasons--he needed a rest from her and she from him. She would
be bored beyond measure in town, and she would be able to see Anthony
for only a few hours each day. But in his heart he feared that it was
because he was attracted to Dorothy. As a matter of fact he lived in
terror that Gloria should learn by some chance or intention of the
relation he had formed. By the end of a fortnight the entanglement began
to give him moments of misery at his own faithlessness. Nevertheless, as
each day ended he was unable to withstand the lure that would draw him
irresistibly out of his tent and over to the telephone at the Y.M.C.A.
"I may be able to get in to-night."
"I'm so glad."
"Do you want to listen to my splendid eloquence for a few starry hours?"
"Oh, you funny--" For an instant he had a memory of five years
before--of Geraldine. Then--
"I'll arrive about eight."
At seven he would be in a jitney bound for the city, where hundreds of
little Southern girls were waiting on moonlit porches for their lovers.
He would be excited already for her warm retarded kisses, for the amazed
quietude of the glances she gave him--glances nearer to worship than any
he had ever inspired. Gloria and he had been equals, giving without
thought of thanks or obligation. To this girl his very caresses were an
inestimable boon. Crying quietly she had confessed to him that he was
not the first man in her life; there had been one other--he gathered
that the affair had no sooner commenced than it had been over.
Indeed, so far as she was concerned, she spoke the truth. She had
forgotten the clerk, the naval officer, the clothier's son, forgotten
her vividness of emotion, which is true forgetting. She knew that in
some opaque and shadowy existence some one had taken her--it was as
though it had occurred in sleep.
Almost every night Anthony came to town. It was too cool now for the
porch, so her mother surrendered to them the tiny sitting room, with its
dozens of cheaply framed chromos, its yard upon yard of decorative
fringe, and its thick atmosphere of several decades in the proximity of
the kitchen. They would build a fire--then, happily, inexhaustibly, she
would go about the business of love. Each evening at ten she would walk
with him to the door, her black hair in disarray, her face pale without
cosmetics, paler still under the whiteness of the moon. As a rule it
would be bright and silver outside; now and then there was a slow warm
rain, too indolent, almost, to reach the ground.
"Say you love me," she would whisper.
"Why, of course, you sweet baby."
"Am I a baby?" This almost wistfully.
"Just a little baby."
She knew vaguely of Gloria. It gave her pain to think of it, so she
imagined her to be haughty and proud and cold. She had decided that
Gloria must be older than Anthony, and that there was no love between
husband and wife. Sometimes she let herself dream that after the war
Anthony would get a divorce and they would be married--but she never
mentioned this to Anthony, she scarcely knew why. She shared his
company's idea that he was a sort of bank clerk--she thought that he was
respectable and poor. She would say:
"If I had some money, darlin', I'd give ev'y bit of it to you.... I'd
like to have about fifty thousand dollars."
"I suppose that'd be plenty," agreed Anthony.
--In her letter that day Gloria had written: "I suppose if we _could_
settle for a million it would be better to tell Mr. Haight to go ahead
and settle. But it'd seem a pity...."
... "We could have an automobile," exclaimed Dot, in a final burst of
AN IMPRESSIVE OCCASION
Captain Dunning prided himself on being a great reader of character.
Half an hour after meeting a man he was accustomed to place him in one
of a number of astonishing categories--fine man, good man, smart fellow,
theorizer, poet, and "worthless." One day early in February he caused
Anthony to be summoned to his presence in the orderly tent.
"Patch," he said sententiously, "I've had my eye on you for several
Anthony stood erect and motionless.
"And I think you've got the makings of a good soldier."
He waited for the warm glow, which this would naturally arouse, to
cool--and then continued:
"This is no child's play," he said, narrowing his brows.
Anthony agreed with a melancholy "No, sir."
"It's a man's game--and we need leaders." Then the climax, swift, sure,
and electric: "Patch, I'm going to make you a corporal."
At this point Anthony should have staggered slightly backward,
overwhelmed. He was to be one of the quarter million selected for that
consummate trust. He was going to be able to shout the technical phrase,
"Follow me!" to seven other frightened men.
"You seem to be a man of some education," said Captain Dunning.
"That's good, that's good. Education's a great thing, but don't let it
go to your head. Keep on the way you're doing and you'll be a
With these parting words lingering in his ears, Corporal Patch saluted,
executed a right about face, and left the tent.
Though the conversation amused Anthony, it did generate the idea that
life would be more amusing as a sergeant or, should he find a less
exacting medical examiner, as an officer. He was little interested in
the work, which seemed to belie the army's boasted gallantry. At the
inspections one did not dress up to look well, one dressed up to keep
from looking badly.
But as winter wore away--the short, snowless winter marked by damp
nights and cool, rainy days--he marvelled at how quickly the system had
grasped him. He was a soldier--all who were not soldiers were civilians.
The world was divided primarily into those two classifications.
It occurred to him that all strongly accentuated classes, such as the
military, divided men into two kinds: their own kind--and those without.
To the clergyman there were clergy and laity, to the Catholic there were
Catholics and non-Catholics, to the negro there were blacks and whites,
to the prisoner there were the imprisoned and the free, and to the sick
man there were the sick and the well.... So, without thinking of it once
in his lifetime, he had been a civilian, a layman, a non-Catholic, a
Gentile, white, free, and well....
As the American troops were poured into the French and British trenches
he began to find the names of many Harvard men among the casualties
recorded in the Army and Navy Journal. But for all the sweat and blood
the situation appeared unchanged, and he saw no prospect of the war's
ending in the perceptible future. In the old chronicles the right wing
of one army always defeated the left wing of the other, the left wing
being, meanwhile, vanquished by the enemy's right. After that the
mercenaries fled. It had been so simple, in those days, almost as if
Gloria wrote that she was reading a great deal. What a mess they had
made of their affairs, she said. She had so little to do now that she
spent her time imagining how differently things might have turned out.
Her whole environment appeared insecure--and a few years back she had
seemed to hold all the strings in her own little hand....
In June her letters grew hurried and less frequent. She suddenly ceased
to write about coming South.
March in the country around was rare with jasmine and jonquils and
patches of violets in the warming grass. Afterward he remembered
especially one afternoon of such a fresh and magic glamour that as he
stood in the rifle-pit marking targets he recited "Atalanta in Calydon"
to an uncomprehending Pole, his voice mingling with the rip, sing, and
splatter of the bullets overhead.
"When the hounds of spring ..."
"Are on winter's traces ..."
"The mother of months ..."
_"Hey!_ Come to! Mark three-e-e! ..."
In town the streets were in a sleepy dream again, and together Anthony
and Dot idled in their own tracks of the previous autumn until he began
to feel a drowsy attachment for this South--a South, it seemed, more of
Algiers than of Italy, with faded aspirations pointing back over
innumerable generations to some warm, primitive Nirvana, without hope or
care. Here there was an inflection of cordiality, of comprehension, in
every voice. "Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of
us," they seemed to say in their plaintive pleasant cadence, in the
rising inflection terminating on an unresolved minor.