Part 5 out of 6
As the new alcohol tumbled into his stomach and warmed him, the isolated
pictures began slowly to form a cinema reel of the day before. Again he
saw Rosalind curled weeping among the pillows, again he felt her tears
against his cheek. Her words began ringing in his ears: "Don't ever
forget me, Amory--don't ever forget me--"
"Hell!" he faltered aloud, and then he choked and collapsed on the bed in
a shaken spasm of grief. After a minute he opened his eyes and regarded
"Damned fool!" he exclaimed in disgust, and with a voluminous sigh rose
and approached the bottle. After another glass he gave way loosely
to the luxury of tears. Purposely he called up into his mind little
incidents of the vanished spring, phrased to himself emotions that would
make him react even more strongly to sorrow.
"We were so happy," he intoned dramatically, "so very happy." Then he
gave way again and knelt beside the bed, his head half-buried in the
"My own girl--my own-- Oh--"
He clinched his teeth so that the tears streamed in a flood from his eyes.
"Oh . . . my baby girl, all I had, all I wanted! . . . Oh, my girl,
come back, come back! I need you . . . need you . . . we're so pitiful
. . . just misery we brought each other. . . . She'll be shut away from
me. . . . I can't see her; I can't be her friend. It's got to be that
way--it's got to be--"
And then again:
"We've been so happy, so very happy. . . ."
He rose to his feet and threw himself on the bed in an ecstasy of
sentiment, and then lay exhausted while he realized slowly that he had
been very drunk the night before, and that his head was spinning again
wildly. He laughed, rose, and crossed again to Lethe. . . .
At noon he ran into a crowd in the Biltmore bar, and the riot began
again. He had a vague recollection afterward of discussing French poetry
with a British officer who was introduced to him as "Captain Corn,
of his Majesty's Foot," and he remembered attempting to recite "Clair
de Lune" at luncheon; then he slept in a big, soft chair until almost
five o'clock when another crowd found and woke him; there followed an
alcoholic dressing of several temperaments for the ordeal of dinner.
They selected theatre tickets at Tyson's for a play that had a four-drink
programme--a play with two monotonous voices, with turbid, gloomy scenes,
and lighting effects that were hard to follow when his eyes behaved so
amazingly. He imagined afterward that it must have been "The Jest." . . .
. . . Then the Cocoanut Grove, where Amory slept again on a little
balcony outside. Out in Shanley's, Yonkers, he became almost logical,
and by a careful control of the number of high-balls he drank, grew quite
lucid and garrulous. He found that the party consisted of five men,
two of whom he knew slightly; he became righteous about paying his share
of the expense and insisted in a loud voice on arranging everything then
and there to the amusement of the tables around him. . . .
Some one mentioned that a famous cabaret star was at the next table,
so Amory rose and, approaching gallantly, introduced himself . . .
this involved him in an argument, first with her escort and then with the
headwaiter--Amory's attitude being a lofty and exaggerated courtesy . . .
he consented, after being confronted with irrefutable logic, to being led
back to his own table.
"Decided to commit suicide," he announced suddenly.
"When? Next year?"
"Now. To-morrow morning. Going to take a room at the Commodore, get
into a hot bath and open a vein."
"He's getting morbid!"
"You need another rye, old boy!"
"We'll all talk it over to-morrow."
But Amory was not to be dissuaded, from argument at least.
"Did you ever get that way?" he demanded confidentially fortaccio.
"My chronic state."
This provoked discussion. One man said that he got so depressed
sometimes that he seriously considered it. Another agreed that there was
nothing to live for. "Captain Corn," who had somehow rejoined the party,
said that in his opinion it was when one's health was bad that one felt
that way most. Amory's suggestion was that they should each order a
Bronx, mix broken glass in it, and drink it off. To his relief no one
applauded the idea, so having finished his high-ball, he balanced his
chin in his hand and his elbow on the table--a most delicate, scarcely
noticeable sleeping position, he assured himself--and went into a deep
stupor. . . .
He was awakened by a woman clinging to him, a pretty woman, with brown,
disarranged hair and dark blue eyes.
"Take me home!" she cried.
"Hello!" said Amory, blinking.
"I like you," she announced tenderly.
"I like you too."
He noticed that there was a noisy man in the background and that one of
his party was arguing with him.
"Fella I was with's a damn fool," confided the blue-eyed woman. "I hate
him. I want to go home with you."
"You drunk?" queried Amory with intense wisdom.
She nodded coyly.
"Go home with him," he advised gravely. "He brought you."
At this point the noisy man in the background broke away from his
detainers and approached.
"Say!" he said fiercely. "I brought this girl out here and you're
Amory regarded him coldly, while the girl clung to him closer.
"You let go that girl!" cried the noisy man.
Amory tried to make his eyes threatening.
"You go to hell!" he directed finally, and turned his attention to the
"Love first sight," he suggested.
"I love you," she breathed and nestled close to him. She _did_ have
Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.
"That's just Margaret Diamond. She's drunk and this fellow here brought
her. Better let her go."
"Let him take care of her, then!" shouted Amory furiously. "I'm no
W. Y. C. A. worker, am I?--am I?"
"Let her go!"
"It's _her_ hanging on, damn it! Let her hang!"
The crowd around the table thickened. For an instant a brawl threatened,
but a sleek waiter bent back Margaret Diamond's fingers until she
released her hold on Amory, whereupon she slapped the waiter furiously
in the face and flung her arms about her raging original escort.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Amory.
"Come on, the taxis are getting scarce!"
"C'mon, Amory. Your romance is over."
"You don't know how true you spoke. No idea. 'At's the whole trouble."
* * * *
AMORY ON THE LABOR QUESTION
Two mornings later he knocked at the president's door at Bascome and
Barlow's advertising agency.
Amory entered unsteadily.
"'Morning, Mr. Barlow."
Mr. Barlow brought his glasses to the inspection and set his mouth
slightly ajar that he might better listen.
"Well, Mr. Blaine. We haven't seen you for several days."
"No," said Amory. "I'm quitting."
"I don't like it here."
"I'm sorry. I thought our relations had been quite--ah--pleasant.
You seemed to be a hard worker--a little inclined perhaps to write fancy
"I just got tired of it," interrupted Amory rudely. "It didn't matter a
damn to me whether Harebell's flour was any better than any one else's.
In fact, I never ate any of it. So I got tired of telling people about
it--oh, I know I've been drinking--"
Mr. Barlow's face steeled by several ingots of expression.
"You asked for a position--"
Amory waved him to silence.
"And I think I was rottenly underpaid. Thirty-five dollars a week--
less than a good carpenter."
"You had just started. You'd never worked before," said Mr. Barlow
"But it took about ten thousand dollars to educate me where I could write
your darned stuff for you. Anyway, as far as length of service goes,
you've got stenographers here you've paid fifteen a week for five years."
"I'm not going to argue with you, sir," said Mr. Barlow rising.
"Neither am I. I just wanted to tell you I'm quitting."
They stood for a moment looking at each other impassively and then Amory
turned and left the office.
* * * *
A LITTLE LULL
Four days after that he returned at last to the apartment. Tom was
engaged on a book review for The New Democracy on the staff of which
he was employed. They regarded each other for a moment in silence.
"Good Lord, Amory, where'd you get the black eye--and the jaw?"
"That's a mere nothing."
He peeled off his coat and bared his shoulders.
Tom emitted a low whistle.
"What hit you?"
Amory laughed again.
"Oh, a lot of people. I got beaten up. Fact." He slowly replaced his
shirt. "It was bound to come sooner or later and I wouldn't have missed
it for anything."
"Who was it?"
"Well, there were some waiters and a couple of sailors and a few stray
pedestrians, I guess. It's the strangest feeling. You ought to get
beaten up just for the experience of it. You fall down after a while and
everybody sort of slashes in at you before you hit the ground--then they
Tom lighted a cigarette.
"I spent a day chasing you all over town, Amory. But you always kept a
little ahead of me. I'd say you've been on some party."
Amory tumbled into a chair and asked for a cigarette.
"You sober now?" asked Tom quizzically.
"Pretty sober. Why?"
"Well, Alec has left. His family had been after him to go home and live,
A spasm of pain shook Amory.
"Yes, it is too bad. We'll have to get some one else if we're going to
stay here. The rent's going up."
"Sure. Get anybody. I'll leave it to you, Tom."
Amory walked into his bedroom. The first thing that met his glance was a
photograph of Rosalind that he had intended to have framed, propped up
against a mirror on his dresser. He looked at it unmoved. After the
vivid mental pictures of her that were his portion at present, the
portrait was curiously unreal. He went back into the study.
"Got a cardboard box?"
"No," answered Tom, puzzled. "Why should I have? Oh, yes--there may be
one in Alec's room."
Eventually Amory found what he was looking for and, returning to his
dresser, opened a drawer full of letters, notes, part of a chain, two
little handkerchiefs, and some snap-shots. As he transferred them
carefully to the box his mind wandered to some place in a book where the
hero, after preserving for a year a cake of his lost love's soap, finally
washed his hands with it. He laughed and began to hum "After you've gone"
. . . ceased abruptly . . .
The string broke twice, and then he managed to secure it, dropped the
package into the bottom of his trunk, and having slammed the lid returned
to the study.
"Going out?" Tom's voice held an undertone of anxiety.
"Couldn't say, old keed."
"Let's have dinner together."
"Sorry. I told Sukey Brett I'd eat with him."
Amory crossed the street and had a high-ball; then he walked to
Washington Square and found a top seat on a bus. He disembarked at
Forty-third Street and strolled to the Biltmore bar.
"What'll you have?"
* * * *
The advent of prohibition with the "thirsty-first" put a sudden stop to
the submerging of Amory's sorrows, and when he awoke one morning to find
that the old bar-to-bar days were over, he had neither remorse for the
past three weeks nor regret that their repetition was impossible.
He had taken the most violent, if the weakest, method to shield himself
from the stabs of memory, and while it was not a course he would have
prescribed for others, he found in the end that it had done its business:
he was over the first flush of pain.
Don't misunderstand! Amory had loved Rosalind as he would never love
another living person. She had taken the first flush of his youth and
brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had surprised him,
gentleness and unselfishness that he had never given to another creature.
He had later love-affairs, but of a different sort: in those he went back
to that, perhaps, more typical frame of mind, in which the girl became
the mirror of a mood in him. Rosalind had drawn out what was more than
passionate admiration; he had a deep, undying affection for Rosalind.
But there had been, near the end, so much dramatic tragedy, culminating
in the arabesque nightmare of his three weeks' spree, that he was
emotionally worn out. The people and surroundings that he remembered
as being cool or delicately artificial, seemed to promise him a refuge.
He wrote a cynical story which featured his father's funeral and
despatched it to a magazine, receiving in return a check for sixty
dollars and a request for more of the same tone. This tickled his vanity,
but inspired him to no further effort.
He read enormously. He was puzzled and depressed by "A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man"; intensely interested by "Joan and Peter" and "The
Undying Fire," and rather surprised by his discovery through a critic
named Mencken of several excellent American novels: "Vandover and the
Brute," "The Damnation of Theron Ware," and "Jennie Gerhardt." Mackenzie,
Chesterton, Galsworthy, Bennett, had sunk in his appreciation from
sagacious, life-saturated geniuses to merely diverting contemporaries.
Shaw's aloof clarity and brilliant consistency and the gloriously
intoxicated efforts of H. G. Wells to fit the key of romantic symmetry
into the elusive lock of truth, alone won his rapt attention.
He wanted to see Monsignor Darcy, to whom he had written when he landed,
but he had not heard from him; besides he knew that a visit to Monsignor
would entail the story of Rosalind, and the thought of repeating it
turned him cold with horror.
In his search for cool people he remembered Mrs. Lawrence, a very
intelligent, very dignified lady, a convert to the church, and a great
devotee of Monsignor's.
He called her on the 'phone one day. Yes, she remembered him perfectly;
no, Monsignor wasn't in town, was in Boston she thought; he'd promised to
come to dinner when he returned. Couldn't Amory take luncheon with her?
"I thought I'd better catch up, Mrs. Lawrence," he said rather
ambiguously when he arrived.
"Monsignor was here just last week," said Mrs. Lawrence regretfully.
"He was very anxious to see you, but he'd left your address at home."
"Did he think I'd plunged into Bolshevism?" asked Amory, interested.
"Oh, he's having a frightful time."
"About the Irish Republic. He thinks it lacks dignity."
"He went to Boston when the Irish President arrived and he was greatly
distressed because the receiving committee, when they rode in an
automobile, _would_ put their arms around the President."
"I don't blame him."
"Well, what impressed you more than anything while you were in the army?
You look a great deal older."
"That's from another, more disastrous battle," he answered, smiling in
spite of himself. "But the army--let me see--well, I discovered that
physical courage depends to a great extent on the physical shape a man
is in. I found that I was as brave as the next man--it used to worry me
"Well, the idea that men can stand anything if they get used to it,
and the fact that I got a high mark in the psychological examination."
Mrs. Lawrence laughed. Amory was finding it a great relief to be in this
cool house on Riverside Drive, away from more condensed New York and the
sense of people expelling great quantities of breath into a little space.
Mrs. Lawrence reminded him vaguely of Beatrice, not in temperament,
but in her perfect grace and dignity. The house, its furnishings,
the manner in which dinner was served, were in immense contrast to what
he had met in the great places on Long Island, where the servants were so
obtrusive that they had positively to be bumped out of the way, or even
in the houses of more conservative "Union Club" families. He wondered
if this air of symmetrical restraint, this grace, which he felt was
continental, was distilled through Mrs. Lawrence's New England ancestry
or acquired in long residence in Italy and Spain.
Two glasses of sauterne at luncheon loosened his tongue, and he talked,
with what he felt was something of his old charm, of religion and
literature and the menacing phenomena of the social order. Mrs. Lawrence
was ostensibly pleased with him, and her interest was especially in his
mind; he wanted people to like his mind again--after a while it might be
such a nice place in which to live.
"Monsignor Darcy still thinks that you're his reincarnation, that your
faith will eventually clarify."
"Perhaps," he assented. "I'm rather pagan at present. It's just that
religion doesn't seem to have the slightest bearing on life at my age."
When he left her house he walked down Riverside Drive with a feeling of
satisfaction. It was amusing to discuss again such subjects as this
young poet, Stephen Vincent Benet, or the Irish Republic. Between the
rancid accusations of Edward Carson and Justice Cohalan he had completely
tired of the Irish question; yet there had been a time when his own
Celtic traits were pillars of his personal philosophy.
There seemed suddenly to be much left in life, if only this revival of
old interests did not mean that he was backing away from it again--
backing away from life itself.
* * * *
"I'm tres old and tres bored, Tom," said Amory one day, stretching
himself at ease in the comfortable window-seat. He always felt most
natural in a recumbent position.
"You used to be entertaining before you started to write," he continued.
"Now you save any idea that you think would do to print."
Existence had settled back to an ambitionless normality. They had
decided that with economy they could still afford the apartment, which
Tom, with the domesticity of an elderly cat, had grown fond of. The old
English hunting prints on the wall were Tom's, and the large tapestry by
courtesy, a relic of decadent days in college, and the great profusion of
orphaned candlesticks and the carved Louis XV chair in which no one could
sit more than a minute without acute spinal disorders--Tom claimed that
this was because one was sitting in the lap of Montespan's wraith--
at any rate, it was Tom's furniture that decided them to stay.
They went out very little: to an occasional play, or to dinner at the
Ritz or the Princeton Club. With prohibition the great rendezvous had
received their death wounds; no longer could one wander to the Biltmore
bar at twelve or five and find congenial spirits, and both Tom and Amory
had outgrown the passion for dancing with mid-Western or New Jersey
debbies at the Club-de-Vingt (surnamed the "Club de Gink") or the Plaza
Rose Room--besides even that required several cocktails "to come down to
the intellectual level of the women present," as Amory had once put it
to a horrified matron.
Amory had lately received several alarming letters from Mr. Barton--
the Lake Geneva house was too large to be easily rented; the best rent
obtainable at present would serve this year to little more than pay for
the taxes and necessary improvements; in fact, the lawyer suggested
that the whole property was simply a white elephant on Amory's hands.
Nevertheless, even though it might not yield a cent for the next three
years, Amory decided with a vague sentimentality that for the present,
at any rate, he would not sell the house.
This particular day on which he announced his ennui to Tom had been quite
typical. He had risen at noon, lunched with Mrs. Lawrence, and then
ridden abstractedly homeward atop one of his beloved buses.
"Why shouldn't you be bored," yawned Tom. "Isn't that the conventional
frame of mind for the young man of your age and condition?"
"Yes," said Amory speculatively, "but I'm more than bored; I am restless."
"Love and war did for you."
"Well," Amory considered, "I'm not sure that the war itself had any great
effect on either you or me--but it certainly ruined the old backgrounds,
sort of killed individualism out of our generation."
Tom looked up in surprise.
"Yes it did," insisted Amory. "I'm not sure it didn't kill it out of the
whole world. Oh, Lord, what a pleasure it used to be to dream I might
be a really great dictator or writer or religious or political leader--
and now even a Leonardo da Vinci or Lorenzo de Medici couldn't be a real
old-fashioned bolt in the world. Life is too huge and complex. The
world is so overgrown that it can't lift its own fingers, and I was
planning to be such an important finger--"
"I don't agree with you," Tom interrupted. "There never were men placed
in such egotistic positions since--oh, since the French Revolution."
Amory disagreed violently.
"You're mistaking this period when every nut is an individualist for a
period of individualism. Wilson has only been powerful when he has
represented; he's had to compromise over and over again. Just as soon as
Trotsky and Lenin take a definite, consistent stand they'll become merely
two-minute figures like Kerensky. Even Foch hasn't half the significance
of Stonewall Jackson. War used to be the most individualistic pursuit
of man, and yet the popular heroes of the war had neither authority nor
responsibility: Guynemer and Sergeant York. How could a schoolboy make a
hero of Pershing? A big man has no time really to do anything but just
sit and be big."
"Then you don't think there will be any more permanent world heroes?"
"Yes--in history--not in life. Carlyle would have difficulty getting
material for a new chapter on 'The Hero as a Big Man.'"
"Go on. I'm a good listener to-day."
"People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we
no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or
philosopher--a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than
the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand
prominence these days. It's the surest path to obscurity. People get
sick of hearing the same name over and over."
"Then you blame it on the press?"
"Absolutely. Look at you; you're on The New Democracy, considered the
most brilliant weekly in the country, read by the men who do things and
all that. What's your business? Why, to be as clever, as interesting,
and as brilliantly cynical as possible about every man, doctrine, book,
or policy that is assigned you to deal with. The more strong lights,
the more spiritual scandal you can throw on the matter, the more money
they pay you, the more the people buy the issue. You, Tom d'Invilliers,
a blighted Shelley, changing, shifting, clever, unscrupulous, represent
the critical consciousness of the race--Oh, don't protest, I know the
stuff. I used to write book reviews in college; I considered it rare
sport to refer to the latest honest, conscientious effort to propound a
theory or a remedy as a 'welcome addition to our light summer reading.'
Come on now, admit it."
Tom laughed, and Amory continued triumphantly.
"We _want_ to believe. Young students try to believe in older authors,
constituents try to believe in their Congressmen, countries try to
believe in their statesmen, but they _can't_. Too many voices, too much
scattered, illogical, ill-considered criticism. It's worse in the case
of newspapers. Any rich, unprogressive old party with that particularly
grasping, acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can own
a paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of tired,
hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern living to swallow
anything but predigested food. For two cents the voter buys his politics,
prejudices, and philosophy. A year later there is a new political ring
or a change in the paper's ownership, consequence: more confusion,
more contradiction, a sudden inrush of new ideas, their tempering,
their distillation, the reaction against them--"
He paused only to get his breath.
"And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my ideas
either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins on my soul
without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into people's heads; I might
cause a poor, inoffensive capitalist to have a vulgar liaison with a bomb,
or get some innocent little Bolshevik tangled up with a machine-gun
Tom was growing restless under this lampooning of his connection with The
"What's all this got to do with your being bored?"
Amory considered that it had much to do with it.
"How'll I fit in?" he demanded. "What am I for? To propagate the race?
According to the American novels we are led to believe that the 'healthy
American boy' from nineteen to twenty-five is an entirely sexless animal.
As a matter of fact, the healthier he is the less that's true. The
only alternative to letting it get you is some violent interest. Well,
the war is over; I believe too much in the responsibilities of authorship
to write just now; and business, well, business speaks for itself.
It has no connection with anything in the world that I've ever been
interested in, except a slim, utilitarian connection with economics.
What I'd see of it, lost in a clerkship, for the next and best ten years
of my life would have the intellectual content of an industrial movie."
"Try fiction," suggested Tom.
"Trouble is I get distracted when I start to write stories--get afraid
I'm doing it instead of living--get thinking maybe life is waiting for me
in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or at Atlantic City or on the lower
"Anyway," he continued, "I haven't the vital urge. I wanted to be a
regular human being but the girl couldn't see it that way."
"You'll find another."
"God! Banish the thought. Why don't you tell me that 'if the girl had
been worth having she'd have waited for you'? No, sir, the girl really
worth having won't wait for anybody. If I thought there'd be another I'd
lose my remaining faith in human nature. Maybe I'll play--but Rosalind
was the only girl in the wide world that could have held me."
"Well," yawned Tom, "I've played confidant a good hour by the clock.
Still, I'm glad to see you're beginning to have violent views again on
"I am," agreed Amory reluctantly. "Yet when I see a happy family it
makes me sick at my stomach--"
"Happy families try to make people feel that way," said Tom cynically.
* * * *
TOM THE CENSOR
There were days when Amory listened. These were when Tom, wreathed in
smoke, indulged in the slaughter of American literature. Words failed
"Fifty thousand dollars a year," he would cry. "My God! Look at them,
look at them--Edna Ferber, Gouverneur Morris, Fanny Hurst, Mary Roberts
Rinehart--not producing among 'em one story or novel that will last ten
years. This man Cobb--I don't tink he's either clever or amusing--
and what's more, I don't think very many people do, except the editors.
He's just groggy with advertising. And--oh Harold Bell Wright oh Zane
"No, they don't even try. Some of them _can_ write, but they won't sit
down and do one honest novel. Most of them _can't_ write, I'll admit.
I believe Rupert Hughes tries to give a real, comprehensive picture of
American life, but his style and perspective are barbarous. Ernest Poole
and Dorothy Canfield try but they're hindered by their absolute lack
of any sense of humor; but at least they crowd their work instead of
spreading it thin. Every author ought to write every book as if he were
going to be beheaded the day he finished it."
"Is that double entente?"
"Don't slow me up! Now there's a few of 'em that seem to have some
cultural background, some intelligence and a good deal of literary
felicity but they just simply won't write honestly; they'd all claim
there was no public for good stuff. Then why the devil is it that Wells,
Conrad, Galsworthy, Shaw, Bennett, and the rest depend on America for
over half their sales?"
"How does little Tommy like the poets?"
Tom was overcome. He dropped his arms until they swung loosely beside
the chair and emitted faint grunts.
"I'm writing a satire on 'em now, calling it 'Boston Bards and Hearst
"Let's hear it," said Amory eagerly.
"I've only got the last few lines done."
"That's very modern. Let's hear 'em, if they're funny."
Tom produced a folded paper from his pocket and read aloud, pausing at
intervals so that Amory could see that it was free verse:
I place your names here
So that you may live
If only as names,
Sinuous, mauve-colored names,
In the Juvenalia
Of my collected editions."
"You win the iron pansy. I'll buy you a meal on the arrogance of the
last two lines."
Amory did not entirely agree with Tom's sweeping damnation of American
novelists and poets. He enjoyed both Vachel Lindsay and Booth Tarkington,
and admired the conscientious, if slender, artistry of Edgar Lee Masters.
"What I hate is this idiotic drivel about 'I am God--I am man--I ride the
winds--I look through the smoke--I am the life sense.'"
"And I wish American novelists would give up trying to make business
romantically interesting. Nobody wants to read about it, unless it's
crooked business. If it was an entertaining subject they'd buy the life
of James J. Hill and not one of these long office tragedies that harp
along on the significance of smoke--"
"And gloom," said Tom. That's another favorite, though I'll admit the
Russians have the monopoly. Our specialty is stories about little girls
who break their spines and get adopted by grouchy old men because they
smile so much. You'd think we were a race of cheerful cripples and that
the common end of the Russian peasant was suicide--"
"Six o'clock," said Amory, glancing at his wrist-watch. "I'll buy you
a grea' big dinner on the strength of the Juvenalia of your collected
* * * *
July sweltered out with a last hot week, and Amory in another surge of
unrest realized that it was just five months since he and Rosalind had
met. Yet it was already hard for him to visualize the heart-whole boy
who had stepped off the transport, passionately desiring the adventure of
life. One night while the heat, overpowering and enervating, poured into
the windows of his room he struggled for several hours in a vague effort
to immortalize the poignancy of that time.
The February streets, wind-washed by night, blow full of strange
half-intermittent damps, bearing on wasted walks in shining sight
wet snow plashed into gleams under the lamps, like golden oil
from some divine machine, in an hour of thaw and stars.
Strange damps--full of the eyes of many men, crowded with life
borne in upon a lull. . . . Oh, I was young, for I could turn
again to you, most finite and most beautiful, and taste the stuff
of half-remembered dreams, sweet and new on your mouth.
. . . There was a tanging in the midnight air--silence was dead and
sound not yet awoken--Life cracked like ice!--one brilliant note
and there, radiant and pale, you stood . . . and spring had broken.
(The icicles were short upon the roofs and the changeling city
Our thoughts were frosty mist along the eaves; our two ghosts
kissed, high on the long, mazed wires--eerie half-laughter echoes
here and leaves only a fatuous sigh for young desires; regret has
followed after things she loved, leaving the great husk.
* * * *
In mid-August came a letter from Monsignor Darcy, who had evidently just
stumbled on his address:
MY DEAR BOY:--
Your last letter was quite enough to make me worry about you. It was not
a bit like yourself. Reading between the lines I should imagine that
your engagement to this girl is making you rather unhappy, and I see
you have lost all the feeling of romance that you had before the war.
You make a great mistake if you think you can be romantic without
religion. Sometimes I think that with both of us the secret of success,
when we find it, is the mystical element in us: something flows into us
that enlarges our personalities, and when it ebbs out our personalities
shrink; I should call your last two letters rather shrivelled. Beware
of losing yourself in the personality of another being, man or woman.
His Eminence Cardinal O'Neill and the Bishop of Boston are staying with
me at present, so it is hard for me to get a moment to write, but I wish
you would come up here later if only for a week-end. I go to Washington
What I shall do in the future is hanging in the balance. Absolutely
between ourselves I should not be surprised to see the red hat of a
cardinal descend upon my unworthy head within the next eight months.
In any event, I should like to have a house in New York or Washington
where you could drop in for week-ends.
Amory, I'm very glad we're both alive; this war could easily have been
the end of a brilliant family. But in regard to matrimony, you are now
at the most dangerous period of your life. You might marry in haste and
repent at leisure, but I think you won't. From what you write me about
the present calamitous state of your finances, what you want is naturally
impossible. However, if I judge you by the means I usually choose,
I should say that there will be something of an emotional crisis within
the next year.
Do write me. I feel annoyingly out of date on you.
With greatest affection,
Within a week after the receipt of this letter their little household
fell precipitously to pieces. The immediate cause was the serious and
probably chronic illness of Tom's mother. So they stored the furniture,
gave instructions to sublet and shook hands gloomily in the Pennsylvania
Station. Amory and Tom seemed always to be saying good-by.
Feeling very much alone, Amory yielded to an impulse and set off
southward, intending to join Monsignor in Washington. They missed
connections by two hours, and, deciding to spend a few days with an
ancient, remembered uncle, Amory journeyed up through the luxuriant
fields of Maryland into Ramilly County. But instead of two days his stay
lasted from mid-August nearly through September, for in Maryland he met
The Education of a Personage
For years afterward when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still to hear
the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills into the places
beside his heart. The night when they rode up the slope and watched the
cold moon float through the clouds, he lost a further part of him that
nothing could restore; and when he lost it he lost also the power of
regretting it. Eleanor was, say, the last time that evil crept close to
Amory under the mask of beauty, the last weird mystery that held him with
wild fascination and pounded his soul to flakes.
With her his imagination ran riot and that is why they rode to the
highest hill and watched an evil moon ride high, for they knew then that
they could see the devil in each other. But Eleanor--did Amory dream
her? Afterward their ghosts played, yet both of them hoped from their
souls never to meet. Was it the infinite sadness of her eyes that drew
him or the mirror of himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of her
mind? She will have no other adventure like Amory, and if she reads this
she will say:
"And Amory will have no other adventure like me."
Nor will she sigh, any more than he would sigh.
Eleanor tried to put it on paper once:
"The fading things we only know
We'll have forgotten . . .
Put away . . .
Desires that melted with the snow,
And dreams begotten
The sudden dawns we laughed to greet,
That all could see, that none could share,
Will be but dawns . . . and if we meet
We shall not care.
Dear . . . not one tear will rise for this . . .
A little while hence
Will stir for a remembered kiss--
Not even silence,
When we've met,
Will give old ghosts a waste to roam,
Or stir the surface of the sea . . .
If gray shapes drift beneath the foam
We shall not see."
They quarrelled dangerously because Amory maintained that _sea_ and _see_
couldn't possibly be used as a rhyme. And then Eleanor had part of
another verse that she couldn't find a beginning for:
". . . But wisdom passes . . . still the years
Will feed us wisdom. . . . Age will go
Back to the old-- For all our tears
We shall not know."
Eleanor hated Maryland passionately. She belonged to the oldest of the
old families of Ramilly County and lived in a big, gloomy house with her
grandfather. She had been born and brought up in France. . . . I see I
am starting wrong. Let me begin again.
Amory was bored, as he usually was in the country. He used to go for far
walks by himself--and wander along reciting "Ulalume" to the corn-fields,
and congratulating Poe for drinking himself to death in that atmosphere
of smiling complacency. One afternoon he had strolled for several miles
along a road that was new to him, and then through a wood on bad advice
from a colored woman . . . losing himself entirely. A passing storm
decided to break out, and to his great impatience the sky grew black
as pitch and the rain began to splatter down through the trees, become
suddenly furtive and ghostly. Thunder rolled with menacing crashes up
the valley and scattered through the woods in intermittent batteries.
He stumbled blindly on, hunting for a way out, and finally, through
webs of twisted branches, caught sight of a rift in the trees where the
unbroken lightning showed open country. He rushed to the edge of the
woods and then hesitated whether or not to cross the fields and try to
reach the shelter of the little house marked by a light far down the
valley. It was only half past five, but he could see scarcely ten steps
before him, except when the lightning made everything vivid and grotesque
for great sweeps around.
Suddenly a strange sound fell on his ears. It was a song, in a low,
husky voice, a girl's voice, and whoever was singing was very close
to him. A year before he might have laughed, or trembled; but in his
restless mood he only stood and listened while the words sank into his
"Les sanglots longs
Blessent mon coeur
The lightning split the sky, but the song went on without a quaver.
The girl was evidently in the field and the voice seemed to come vaguely
from a haystack about twenty feet in front of him.
Then it ceased: ceased and began again in a weird chant that soared and
hung and fell and blended with the rain:
Et bleme quand
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure. . . ."
"Who the devil is there in Ramilly County," muttered Amory aloud, "who
would deliver Verlaine in an extemporaneous tune to a soaking haystack?"
"Somebody's there!" cried the voice unalarmed. "Who are you?--Manfred,
St. Christopher, or Queen Victoria?"
"I'm Don Juan!" Amory shouted on impulse, raising his voice above the
noise of the rain and the wind.
A delighted shriek came from the haystack.
"I know who you are--you're the blond boy that likes 'Ulalume'--I
recognize your voice."
"How do I get up?" he cried from the foot of the haystack, whither he had
arrived, dripping wet. A head appeared over the edge--it was so dark
that Amory could just make out a patch of damp hair and two eyes that
gleamed like a cat's.
"Run back!" came the voice, "and jump and I'll catch your hand--no,
not there--on the other side."
He followed directions and as he sprawled up the side, knee-deep in hay,
a small, white hand reached out, gripped his, and helped him onto the top.
"Here you are, Juan," cried she of the damp hair. "Do you mind if I drop
"You've got a thumb like mine!" he exclaimed.
"And you're holding my hand, which is dangerous without seeing my face."
He dropped it quickly.
As if in answer to his prayers came a flash of lightning and he looked
eagerly at her who stood beside him on the soggy haystack, ten feet
above the ground. But she had covered her face and he saw nothing but a
slender figure, dark, damp, bobbed hair, and the small white hands with
the thumbs that bent back like his.
"Sit down," she suggested politely, as the dark closed in on them.
"If you'll sit opposite me in this hollow you can have half of the
raincoat, which I was using as a water-proof tent until you so rudely
"I was asked," Amory said joyfully; "you asked me--you know you did."
"Don Juan always manages that," she said, laughing, "but I shan't call
you that any more, because you've got reddish hair. Instead you can
recite 'Ulalume' and I'll be Psyche, your soul."
Amory flushed, happily invisible under the curtain of wind and rain.
They were sitting opposite each other in a slight hollow in the hay with
the raincoat spread over most of them, and the rain doing for the rest.
Amory was trying desperately to see Psyche, but the lightning refused to
flash again, and he waited impatiently. Good Lord! supposing she wasn't
beautiful--supposing she was forty and pedantic--heavens! Suppose,
only suppose, she was mad. But he knew the last was unworthy. Here had
Providence sent a girl to amuse him just as it sent Benvenuto Cellini men
to murder, and he was wondering if she was mad, just because she exactly
filled his mood.
"I'm not," she said.
"Not mad. I didn't think you were mad when I first saw you, so it isn't
fair that you should think so of me."
"How on earth--"
As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be "on a subject"
and stop talking with the definite thought of it in their heads, yet ten
minutes later speak aloud and find that their minds had followed the same
channels and led them each to a parallel idea, an idea that others would
have found absolutely unconnected with the first.
"Tell me," he demanded, leaning forward eagerly, "how do you know about
'Ulalume'--how did you know the color of my hair? What's your name?
What were you doing here? Tell me all at once!"
Suddenly the lightning flashed in with a leap of overreaching light and
he saw Eleanor, and looked for the first time into those eyes of hers.
Oh, she was magnificent--pale skin, the color of marble in starlight,
slender brows, and eyes that glittered green as emeralds in the blinding
glare. She was a witch, of perhaps nineteen, he judged, alert and dreamy
and with the tell-tale white line over her upper lip that was a weakness
and a delight. He sank back with a gasp against the wall of hay.
"Now you've seen me," she said calmly, "and I suppose you're about to say
that my green eyes are burning into your brain."
"What color is your hair?" he asked intently. "It's bobbed, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's bobbed. I don't know what color it is," she answered, musing,
"so many men have asked me. It's medium, I suppose-- No one ever looks
long at my hair. I've got beautiful eyes, though, haven't I. I don't
care what you say, I have beautiful eyes."
"Answer my question, Madeline."
"Don't remember them all--besides my name isn't Madeline, it's Eleanor."
"I might have guessed it. You _look_ like Eleanor--you have that Eleanor
look. You know what I mean."
There was a silence as they listened to the rain.
"It's going down my neck, fellow lunatic," she offered finally.
"Answer my questions."
"Well--name of Savage, Eleanor; live in big old house mile down road;
nearest living relation to be notified, grandfather--Ramilly Savage;
height, five feet four inches; number on watch-case, 3077 W; nose,
delicate aquiline; temperament, uncanny--"
"And me," Amory interrupted, "where did you see me?"
"Oh, you're one of _those_ men," she answered haughtily, "must lug old
self into conversation. Well, my boy, I was behind a hedge sunning
myself one day last week, and along comes a man saying in a pleasant,
conceited way of talking:
"'And now when the night was senescent'
'And the star dials pointed to morn
At the end of the path a liquescent'
'And nebulous lustre was born.'
"So I poked my eyes up over the hedge, but you had started to run, for
some unknown reason, and so I saw but the back of your beautiful head.
'Oh!' says I, 'there's a man for whom many of us might sigh,' and I
continued in my best Irish--"
"All right," Amory interrupted. "Now go back to yourself."
"Well, I will. I'm one of those people who go through the world giving
other people thrills, but getting few myself except those I read into men
on such nights as these. I have the social courage to go on the stage,
but not the energy; I haven't the patience to write books; and I never
met a man I'd marry. However, I'm only eighteen."
The storm was dying down softly and only the wind kept up its ghostly
surge and made the stack lean and gravely settle from side to side.
Amory was in a trance. He felt that every moment was precious. He had
never met a girl like this before--she would never seem quite the same
again. He didn't at all feel like a character in a play, the appropriate
feeling in an unconventional situation--instead, he had a sense of coming
"I have just made a great decision," said Eleanor after another pause,
"and that is why I'm here, to answer another of your questions. I have
just decided that I don't believe in immortality."
"Really! how banal!"
"Frightfully so," she answered, "but depressing with a stale, sickly
depression, nevertheless. I came out here to get wet--like a wet hen;
wet hens always have great clarity of mind," she concluded.
"Go on," Amory said politely.
"Well--I'm not afraid of the dark, so I put on my slicker and rubber
boots and came out. You see I was always afraid, before, to say I didn't
believe in God--because the lightning might strike me--but here I am and
it hasn't, of course, but the main point is that this time I wasn't any
more afraid of it than I had been when I was a Christian Scientist,
like I was last year. So now I know I'm a materialist and I was
fraternizing with the hay when you came out and stood by the woods,
scared to death."
"Why, you little wretch--" cried Amory indignantly. "Scared of what?"
"_Yourself!_" she shouted, and he jumped. She clapped her hands and
laughed. "See--see! Conscience--kill it like me! Eleanor Savage,
materiologist--no jumping, no starting, come early--"
"But I _have_ to have a soul," he objected. "I can't be rational--
and I won't be molecular."
She leaned toward him, her burning eyes never leaving his own and
whispered with a sort of romantic finality:
"I thought so, Juan, I feared so--you're sentimental. You're not like
me. I'm a romantic little materialist."
"I'm not sentimental--I'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you know,
is that the sentimental person thinks things will last--the romantic
person has a desperate confidence that they won't." (This was an ancient
distinction of Amory's.)
"Epigrams. I'm going home," she said sadly. "Let's get off the haystack
and walk to the cross-roads."
They slowly descended from their perch. She would not let him help her
down and motioning him away arrived in a graceful lump in the soft mud
where she sat for an instant, laughing at herself. Then she jumped to
her feet and slipped her hand into his, and they tiptoed across the
fields, jumping and swinging from dry spot to dry spot. A transcendent
delight seemed to sparkle in every pool of water, for the moon had risen
and the storm had scurried away into western Maryland. When Eleanor's
arm touched his he felt his hands grow cold with deadly fear lest he
should lose the shadow brush with which his imagination was painting
wonders of her. He watched her from the corners of his eyes as ever he
did when he walked with her--she was a feast and a folly and he wished it
had been his destiny to sit forever on a haystack and see life through
her green eyes. His paganism soared that night and when she faded out
like a gray ghost down the road, a deep singing came out of the fields
and filled his way homeward. All night the summer moths flitted in and
out of Amory's window; all night large looming sounds swayed in mystic
revery through the silver grain--and he lay awake in the clear darkness.
* * * *
Amory selected a blade of grass and nibbled at it scientifically.
"I never fall in love in August or September," he proffered.
"Christmas or Easter. I'm a liturgist."
"Easter!" She turned up her nose. "Huh! Spring in corsets!"
"Easter _would_ bore spring, wouldn't she? Easter has her hair braided,
wears a tailored suit."
"Bind on thy sandals, oh, thou most fleet.
Over the splendor and speed of thy feet--"
quoted Eleanor softly, and then added: "I suppose Hallowe'en is a better
day for autumn than Thanksgiving."
"Much better--and Christmas eve does very well for winter, but summer
. . ."
"Summer has no day," she said. "We can't possibly have a summer love.
So many people have tried that the name's become proverbial. Summer is
only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm
balmy nights I dream of in April. It's a sad season of life without
growth. . . . It has no day."
"Fourth of July," Amory suggested facetiously.
"Don't be funny!" she said, raking him with her eyes.
"Well, what could fulfil the promise of spring?"
She thought a moment.
"Oh, I suppose heaven would, if there was one," she said finally, "a
sort of pagan heaven--you ought to be a materialist," she continued
"Because you look a good deal like the pictures of Rupert Brooke."
To some extent Amory tried to play Rupert Brooke as long as he knew
Eleanor. What he said, his attitude toward life, toward her, toward
himself, were all reflexes of the dead Englishman's literary moods.
Often she sat in the grass, a lazy wind playing with her short hair,
her voice husky as she ran up and down the scale from Grantchester to
Waikiki. There was something most passionate in Eleanor's reading aloud.
They seemed nearer, not only mentally, but physically, when they read,
than when she was in his arms, and this was often, for they fell half
into love almost from the first. Yet was Amory capable of love now?
He could, as always, run through the emotions in a half hour, but even
while they revelled in their imaginations, he knew that neither of them
could care as he had cared once before--I suppose that was why they
turned to Brooke, and Swinburne, and Shelley. Their chance was to make
everything fine and finished and rich and imaginative; they must bend
tiny golden tentacles from his imagination to hers, that would take the
place of the great, deep love that was never so near, yet never so much
of a dream.
One poem they read over and over; Swinburne's "Triumph of Time," and four
lines of it rang in his memory afterward on warm nights when he saw the
fireflies among dusky tree trunks and heard the low drone of many frogs.
Then Eleanor seemed to come out of the night and stand by him, and he
heard her throaty voice, with its tone of a fleecy-headed drum, repeating:
"Is it worth a tear, is it worth an hour,
To think of things that are well outworn;
Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
The dream foregone and the deed foreborne?"
They were formally introduced two days later, and his aunt told him her
history. The Ramillys were two: old Mr. Ramilly and his granddaughter,
Eleanor. She had lived in France with a restless mother whom Amory
imagined to have been very like his own, on whose death she had come to
America, to live in Maryland. She had gone to Baltimore first to stay
with a bachelor uncle, and there she insisted on being a debutante at the
age of seventeen. She had a wild winter and arrived in the country in
March, having quarrelled frantically with all her Baltimore relatives,
and shocked them into fiery protest. A rather fast crowd had come out,
who drank cocktails in limousines and were promiscuously condescending
and patronizing toward older people, and Eleanor with an esprit that
hinted strongly of the boulevards, led many innocents still redolent
of St. Timothy's and Farmington, into paths of Bohemian naughtiness.
When the story came to her uncle, a forgetful cavalier of a more
hypocritical era, there was a scene, from which Eleanor emerged, subdued
but rebellious and indignant, to seek haven with her grandfather who
hovered in the country on the near side of senility. That's as far as
her story went; she told him the rest herself, but that was later.
Often they swam and as Amory floated lazily in the water he shut his mind
to all thoughts except those of hazy soap-bubble lands where the sun
splattered through wind-drunk trees. How could any one possibly think or
worry, or do anything except splash and dive and loll there on the edge
of time while the flower months failed. Let the days move over--sadness
and memory and pain recurred outside, and here, once more, before he went
on to meet them he wanted to drift and be young.
There were days when Amory resented that life had changed from an even
progress along a road stretching ever in sight, with the scenery merging
and blending, into a succession of quick, unrelated scenes--two years of
sweat and blood, that sudden absurd instinct for paternity that Rosalind
had stirred; the half-sensual, half-neurotic quality of this autumn with
Eleanor. He felt that it would take all time, more than he could ever
spare, to glue these strange cumbersome pictures into the scrap-book of
his life. It was all like a banquet where he sat for this half-hour of
his youth and tried to enjoy brilliant epicurean courses.
Dimly he promised himself a time where all should be welded together.
For months it seemed that he had alternated between being borne along a
stream of love or fascination, or left in an eddy, and in the eddies he
had not desired to think, rather to be picked up on a wave's top and
swept along again.
"The despairing, dying autumn and our love--how well they harmonize!"
said Eleanor sadly one day as they lay dripping by the water.
"The Indian summer of our hearts--" he ceased.
"Tell me," she said finally, "was she light or dark?"
"Was she more beautiful than I am?"
"I don't know," said Amory shortly.
One night they walked while the moon rose and poured a great burden of
glory over the garden until it seemed fairyland with Amory and Eleanor,
dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal beauty in curious elfin love
moods. Then they turned out of the moonlight into the trellised darkness
of a vine-hung pagoda, where there were scents so plaintive as to be
"Light a match," she whispered. "I want to see you."
The night and the scarred trees were like scenery in a play, and to be
there with Eleanor, shadowy and unreal, seemed somehow oddly familiar.
Amory thought how it was only the past that ever seemed strange and
unbelievable. The match went out.
"It's black as pitch."
"We're just voices now," murmured Eleanor, "little lonesome voices.
"That was my last match."
Suddenly he caught her in his arms.
"You _are_ mine--you know you're mine!" he cried wildly . . . the
moonlight twisted in through the vines and listened . . . the fireflies
hung upon their whispers as if to win his glance from the glory of their
* * * *
THE END OF SUMMER
"No wind is stirring in the grass; not one wind stirs . . . the water in
the hidden pools, as glass, fronts the full moon and so inters the golden
token in its icy mass," chanted Eleanor to the trees that skeletoned the
body of the night. "Isn't it ghostly here? If you can hold your horse's
feet up, let's cut through the woods and find the hidden pools."
"It's after one, and you'll get the devil," he objected, "and I don't
know enough about horses to put one away in the pitch dark."
"Shut up, you old fool," she whispered irrelevantly, and, leaning over,
she patted him lazily with her riding-crop. "You can leave your old plug
in our stable and I'll send him over to-morrow."
"But my uncle has got to drive me to the station with this old plug at
"Don't be a spoil-sport--remember, you have a tendency toward wavering
that prevents you from being the entire light of my life."
Amory drew his horse up close beside, and, leaning toward her, grasped
"Say I am--_quick_, or I'll pull you over and make you ride behind me."
She looked up and smiled and shook her head excitedly.
"Oh, do!--or rather, don't! Why are all the exciting things so
uncomfortable, like fighting and exploring and ski-ing in Canada?
By the way, we're going to ride up Harper's Hill. I think that comes
in our programme about five o'clock."
"You little devil," Amory growled. "You're going to make me stay up all
night and sleep in the train like an immigrant all day to-morrow, going
back to New York."
"Hush! some one's coming along the road--let's go! Whoo-ee-oop!"
And with a shout that probably gave the belated traveller a series of
shivers, she turned her horse into the woods and Amory followed slowly,
as he had followed her all day for three weeks.
The summer was over, but he had spent the days in watching Eleanor,
a graceful, facile Manfred, build herself intellectual and imaginative
pyramids while she revelled in the artificialities of the temperamental
teens and they wrote poetry at the dinner-table.
When Vanity kissed Vanity, a hundred happy Junes ago, he
pondered o'er her breathlessly, and, that all men might ever
know, he rhymed her eyes with life and death:
"Thru Time I'll save my love!" he said . . . yet Beauty
vanished with his breath, and, with her lovers, she was dead . . .
--Ever his wit and not her eyes, ever his art and not her hair:
"Who'd learn a trick in rhyme, be wise and pause before his
sonnet there" . . . So all my words, however true, might sing
you to a thousandth June, and no one ever _know_ that you were
Beauty for an afternoon.
So he wrote one day, when he pondered how coldly we thought of the "Dark
Lady of the Sonnets," and how little we remembered her as the great man
wanted her remembered. For what Shakespeare _must_ have desired, to have
been able to write with such divine despair, was that the lady should
live . . . and now we have no real interest in her. . . . The irony of
it is that if he had cared _more_ for the poem than for the lady the
sonnet would be only obvious, imitative rhetoric and no one would ever
have read it after twenty years. . . .
This was the last night Amory ever saw Eleanor. He was leaving in the
morning and they had agreed to take a long farewell trot by the cold
moonlight. She wanted to talk, she said--perhaps the last time in her
life that she could be rational (she meant pose with comfort). So they
had turned into the woods and rode for half an hour with scarcely a word,
except when she whispered "Damn!" at a bothersome branch--whispered it as
no other girl was ever able to whisper it. Then they started up Harper's
Hill, walking their tired horses.
"Good Lord! It's quiet here!" whispered Eleanor; "much more lonesome
than the woods."
"I hate woods," Amory said, shuddering. "Any kind of foliage or
underbrush at night. Out here it's so broad and easy on the spirit."
"The long slope of a long hill."
"And the cold moon rolling moonlight down it."
"And thee and me, last and most important."
It was quiet that night--the straight road they followed up to the edge
of the cliff knew few footsteps at any time. Only an occasional negro
cabin, silver-gray in the rock-ribbed moonlight, broke the long line of
bare ground; behind lay the black edge of the woods like a dark frosting
on white cake, and ahead the sharp, high horizon. It was much colder--
so cold that it settled on them and drove all the warm nights from their
"The end of summer," said Eleanor softly. "Listen to the beat of our
horses' hoofs--'tump-tump-tump-a-tump.' Have you ever been feverish
and had all noises divide into 'tump-tump-tump' until you could swear
eternity was divisible into so many tumps? That's the way I feel--
old horses go tump-tump. . . . I guess that's the only thing that
separates horses and clocks from us. Human beings can't go 'tump-tump-
tump' without going crazy."
The breeze freshened and Eleanor pulled her cape around her and shivered.
"Are you very cold?" asked Amory.
"No, I'm thinking about myself--my black old inside self, the real one,
with the fundamental honesty that keeps me from being absolutely wicked
by making me realize my own sins."
They were riding up close by the cliff and Amory gazed over. Where the
fall met the ground a hundred feet below, a black stream made a sharp
line, broken by tiny glints in the swift water.
"Rotten, rotten old world," broke out Eleanor suddenly, "and the
wretchedest thing of all is me--oh, _why_ am I a girl? Why am I not a
stupid--? Look at you; you're stupider than I am, not much, but some,
and you can lope about and get bored and then lope somewhere else,
and you can play around with girls without being involved in meshes of
sentiment, and you can do anything and be justified--and here am I with
the brains to do everything, yet tied to the sinking ship of future
matrimony. If I were born a hundred years from now, well and good,
but now what's in store for me--I have to marry, that goes without
saying. Who? I'm too bright for most men, and yet I have to descend to
their level and let them patronize my intellect in order to get their
attention. Every year that I don't marry I've got less chance for a
first-class man. At the best I can have my choice from one or two
cities and, of course, I have to marry into a dinner-coat.
"Listen," she leaned close again, "I like clever men and good-looking men,
and, of course, no one cares more for personality than I do. Oh, just
one person in fifty has any glimmer of what sex is. I'm hipped on Freud
and all that, but it's rotten that every bit of _real_ love in the world
is ninety-nine per cent passion and one little soupcon of jealousy."
She finished as suddenly as she began.
"Of course, you're right," Amory agreed. "It's a rather unpleasant
overpowering force that's part of the machinery under everything.
It's like an actor that lets you see his mechanics! Wait a minute till
I think this out. . . ."
He paused and tried to get a metaphor. They had turned the cliff and
were riding along the road about fifty feet to the left.
"You see every one's got to have some cloak to throw around it. The
mediocre intellects, Plato's second class, use the remnants of romantic
chivalry diluted with Victorian sentiment--and we who consider ourselves
the intellectuals cover it up by pretending that it's another side of us,
has nothing to do with our shining brains; we pretend that the fact that
we realize it is really absolving us from being a prey to it. But the
truth is that sex is right in the middle of our purest abstractions,
so close that it obscures vision. . . . I can kiss you now and will.
. . ." He leaned toward her in his saddle, but she drew away.
"I can't--I can't kiss you now--I'm more sensitive."
"You're more stupid then," he declared rather impatiently. "Intellect is
no protection from sex any more than convention is . . ."
"What is?" she fired up. "The Catholic Church or the maxims of
Amory looked up, rather taken aback.
"That's your panacea, isn't it?" she cried. "Oh, you're just an old
hypocrite, too. Thousands of scowling priests keeping the degenerate
Italians and illiterate Irish repentant with gabble-gabble about the
sixth and ninth commandments. It's just all cloaks, sentiment and
spiritual rouge and panaceas. I'll tell you there is no God, not even
a definite abstract goodness; so it's all got to be worked out for the
individual by the individual here in high white foreheads like mine,
and you're too much the prig to admit it." She let go her reins and
shook her little fists at the stars.
"If there's a God let him strike me--strike me!"
"Talking about God again after the manner of atheists," Amory said
sharply. His materialism, always a thin cloak, was torn to shreds by
Eleanor's blasphemy. . . . She knew it and it angered him that she
"And like most intellectuals who don't find faith convenient," he
continued coldly, "like Napoleon and Oscar Wilde and the rest of your
type, you'll yell loudly for a priest on your death-bed."
Eleanor drew her horse up sharply and he reined in beside her.
"Will I?" she said in a queer voice that scared him. "Will I? Watch!
_I'm going over the cliff!_" And before he could interfere she had
turned and was riding breakneck for the end of the plateau.
He wheeled and started after her, his body like ice, his nerves in a vast
clangor. There was no chance of stopping her. The moon was under a
cloud and her horse would step blindly over. Then some ten feet from the
edge of the cliff she gave a sudden shriek and flung herself sideways--
plunged from her horse and, rolling over twice, landed in a pile of brush
five feet from the edge. The horse went over with a frantic whinny.
In a minute he was by Eleanor's side and saw that her eyes were open.
"Eleanor!" he cried.
She did not answer, but her lips moved and her eyes filled with sudden
"Eleanor, are you hurt?"
"No; I don't think so," she said faintly, and then began weeping.
"My horse dead?"
"Good God-- Yes!"
"Oh!" she wailed. "I thought I was going over. I didn't know--"
He helped her gently to her feet and boosted her onto his saddle.
So they started homeward; Amory walking and she bent forward on the
pommel, sobbing bitterly.
"I've got a crazy streak," she faltered, "twice before I've done things
like that. When I was eleven mother went--went mad--stark raving crazy.
We were in Vienna--"
All the way back she talked haltingly about herself, and Amory's love
waned slowly with the moon. At her door they started from habit to kiss
good night, but she could not run into his arms, nor were they stretched
to meet her as in the week before. For a minute they stood there,
hating each other with a bitter sadness. But as Amory had loved himself
in Eleanor, so now what he hated was only a mirror. Their poses were
strewn about the pale dawn like broken glass. The stars were long
gone and there were left only the little sighing gusts of wind and the
silences between . . . but naked souls are poor things ever, and soon
he turned homeward and let new lights come in with the sun.
* * * *
A POEM THAT ELEANOR SENT AMORY SEVERAL YEARS LATER
"Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water,
Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light,
Bosoming day as a laughing and radiant daughter . . .
Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night.
Walking alone . . . was it splendor, or what, we were bound with,
Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair?
Shadows we loved and the patterns they covered the ground with
Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.
That was the day . . . and the night for another story,
Pale as a dream and shadowed with pencilled trees--
Ghosts of the stars came by who had sought for glory,
Whispered to us of peace in the plaintive breeze,
Whispered of old dead faiths that the day had shattered,
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon;
That was the urge that we knew and the language that mattered
That was the debt that we paid to the usurer June.
Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not
Anything back of the past that we need not know,
What if the light is but sun and the little streams sing not,
We are together, it seems . . . I have loved you so . . .
What did the last night hold, with the summer over,
Drawing us back to the home in the changing glade?
_What leered out of the dark in the ghostly clover?_
God! . . . till you stirred in your sleep . . . and were wild
afraid . . .
Well . . . we have passed . . . we are chronicle now to the eerie.
Curious metal from meteors that failed in the sky;
Earth-born the tireless is stretched by the water, quite weary,
Close to this ununderstandable changeling that's I . . .
Fear is an echo we traced to Security's daughter;
Now we are faces and voices . . . and less, too soon,
Whispering half-love over the lilt of the water . . .
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon."
* * * *
A POEM AMORY SENT TO ELEANOR AND WHICH HE CALLED "SUMMER STORM"
"Faint winds, and a song fading and leaves falling,
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter . . .
And the rain and over the fields a voice calling . . .
Our gray blown cloud scurries and lifts above,
Slides on the sun and flutters there to waft her
Sisters on. The shadow of a dove
Falls on the cote, the trees are filled with wings;
And down the valley through the crying trees
The body of the darker storm flies; brings
With its new air the breath of sunken seas
And slender tenuous thunder . . .
But I wait . . .
Wait for the mists and for the blacker rain--
Heavier winds that stir the veil of fate,
Happier winds that pile her hair;
They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air
Upon me, winds that I know, and storm.
There was a summer every rain was rare;
There was a season every wind was warm. . . .
And now you pass me in the mist . . . your hair
Rain-blown about you, damp lips curved once more
In that wild irony, that gay despair
That made you old when we have met before;
Wraith-like you drift on out before the rain,
Across the fields, blown with the stemless flowers,
With your old hopes, dead leaves and loves again--
Dim as a dream and wan with all old hours
(Whispers will creep into the growing dark . . .
Tumult will die over the trees)
Tears from her wetted breast the splattered blouse
Of day, glides down the dreaming hills, tear-bright,
To cover with her hair the eerie green . . .
Love for the dusk . . . Love for the glistening after;
Quiet the trees to their last tops . . . serene . . .
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter . . ."
The Education of a Personage
The Supercilious Sacrifice
Atlantic City. Amory paced the board walk at day's end, lulled by the
everlasting surge of changing waves, smelling the half-mournful odor of
the salt breeze. The sea, he thought, had treasured its memories deeper
than the faithless land. It seemed still to whisper of Norse galleys
ploughing the water world under raven-figured flags, of the British
dreadnoughts, gray bulwarks of civilization steaming up through the fog
of one dark July into the North Sea.
Amory looked down into the street below. A low racing car had drawn to a
stop and a familiar cheerful face protruded from the driver's seat.
"Come on down, goopher!" cried Alec.
Amory called a greeting and descending a flight of wooden steps
approached the car. He and Alec had been meeting intermittently, but the
barrier of Rosalind lay always between them. He was sorry for this;
he hated to lose Alec.
"Mr. Blaine, this is Miss Waterson, Miss Wayne, and Mr. Tully."
"How d'y do?"
"Amory," said Alec exuberantly, "if you'll jump in we'll take you to some
secluded nook and give you a wee jolt of Bourbon."
"That's an idea."
"Step in--move over, Jill, and Amory will smile very handsomely at you."
Amory squeezed into the back seat beside a gaudy, vermilion-lipped blonde.
"Hello, Doug Fairbanks," she said flippantly. "Walking for exercise or
hunting for company?"
"I was counting the waves," replied Amory gravely. "I'm going in for
"Don't kid me, Doug."
When they reached an unfrequented side street Alec stopped the car among
"What you doing down here these cold days, Amory?" he demanded, as he
produced a quart of Bourbon from under the fur rug.
Amory avoided the question. Indeed, he had had no definite reason for
coming to the coast.
"Do you remember that party of ours, sophomore year?" he asked instead.
"Do I? When we slept in the pavilions up in Asbury Park--"
"Lord, Alec! It's hard to think that Jesse and Dick and Kerry are all
"Don't talk about it. These dreary fall days depress me enough."
Jill seemed to agree.
"Doug here is sorta gloomy anyways," she commented. "Tell him to drink
deep--it's good and scarce these days."
"What I really want to ask you, Amory, is where you are--"
"Why, New York, I suppose--"
"I mean to-night, because if you haven't got a room yet you'd better help
"You see, Tully and I have two rooms with bath between at the Ranier,
and he's got to go back to New York. I don't want to have to move.
Question is, will you occupy one of the rooms?"
Amory was willing, if he could get in right away.
"You'll find the key in the office; the rooms are in my name."
Declining further locomotion or further stimulation, Amory left the car
and sauntered back along the board walk to the hotel.
He was in an eddy again, a deep, lethargic gulf, without desire to work
or write, love or dissipate. For the first time in his life he rather
longed for death to roll over his generation, obliterating their petty
fevers and struggles and exultations. His youth seemed never so vanished
as now in the contrast between the utter loneliness of this visit and
that riotous, joyful party of four years before. Things that had been
the merest commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of beauty
around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left were filled
only with the great listlessness of his disillusion.
"To hold a man a woman has to appeal to the worst in him." This sentence
was the thesis of most of his bad nights, of which he felt this was to
be one. His mind had already started to play variations on the subject.
Tireless passion, fierce jealousy, longing to possess and crush--these
alone were left of all his love for Rosalind; these remained to him as
payment for the loss of his youth--bitter calomel under the thin sugar of
In his room he undressed and wrapping himself in blankets to keep out the
chill October air drowsed in an armchair by the open window.
He remembered a poem he had read months before:
"Oh staunch old heart who toiled so long for me,
I waste my years sailing along the sea--"
Yet he had no sense of waste, no sense of the present hope that waste
implied. He felt that life had rejected him.
"Rosalind! Rosalind!" He poured the words softly into the half-darkness
until she seemed to permeate the room; the wet salt breeze filled his
hair with moisture, the rim of a moon seared the sky and made the
curtains dim and ghostly. He fell asleep.
When he awoke it was very late and quiet. The blanket had slipped partly
off his shoulders and he touched his skin to find it damp and cold.
Then he became aware of a tense whispering not ten feet away.
He became rigid.
"Don't make a sound!" It was Alec's voice. "Jill--do you hear me?"
"Yes--" breathed very low, very frightened. They were in the bathroom.
Then his ears caught a louder sound from somewhere along the corridor
outside. It was a mumbling of men's voices and a repeated muffled
rapping. Amory threw off the blankets and moved close to the bathroom
"My God!" came the girl's voice again. "You'll have to let them in."
Suddenly a steady, insistent knocking began at Amory's hall door and
simultaneously out of the bathroom came Alec, followed by the vermilion-
lipped girl. They were both clad in pajamas.
"Amory!" an anxious whisper.
"What's the trouble?"
"It's house detectives. My God, Amory--they're just looking for a
"Well, better let them in."
"You don't understand. They can get me under the Mann Act."
The girl followed him slowly, a rather miserable, pathetic figure in the
Amory tried to plan quickly.
"You make a racket and let them in your room," he suggested anxiously,
"and I'll get her out by this door."
"They're here too, though. They'll watch this door."
"Can't you give a wrong name?"
"No chance. I registered under my own name; besides, they'd trail the
auto license number."
"Say you're married."
"Jill says one of the house detectives knows her."
The girl had stolen to the bed and tumbled upon it; lay there listening
wretchedly to the knocking which had grown gradually to a pounding.
Then came a man's voice, angry and imperative:
"Open up or we'll break the door in!"
In the silence when this voice ceased Amory realized that there were
other things in the room besides people . . . over and around the figure
crouched on the bed there hung an aura, gossamer as a moonbeam, tainted
as stale, weak wine, yet a horror, diffusively brooding already over the
three of them . . . and over by the window among the stirring curtains
stood something else, featureless and indistinguishable, yet strangely
familiar. . . . Simultaneously two great cases presented themselves side
by side to Amory; all that took place in his mind, then, occupied in
actual time less than ten seconds.
The first fact that flashed radiantly on his comprehension was the great
impersonality of sacrifice--he perceived that what we call love and hate,
reward and punishment, had no more to do with it than the date of the
month. He quickly recapitulated the story of a sacrifice he had heard of
in college: a man had cheated in an examination; his roommate in a gust
of sentiment had taken the entire blame--due to the shame of it the
innocent one's entire future seemed shrouded in regret and failure,
capped by the ingratitude of the real culprit. He had finally taken his
own life--years afterward the facts had come out. At the time the story
had both puzzled and worried Amory. Now he realized the truth; that
sacrifice was no purchase of freedom. It was like a great elective
office, it was like an inheritance of power--to certain people at certain
times an essential luxury, carrying with it not a guarantee but a
responsibility, not a security but an infinite risk. Its very momentum
might drag him down to ruin--the passing of the emotional wave that made
it possible might leave the one who made it high and dry forever on an
island of despair.
. . . Amory knew that afterward Alec would secretly hate him for having
done so much for him. . . .
. . . All this was flung before Amory like an opened scroll, while
ulterior to him and speculating upon him were those two breathless,
listening forces: the gossamer aura that hung over and about the girl
and that familiar thing by the window.
Sacrifice by its very nature was arrogant and impersonal; sacrifice
should be eternally supercilious.
_Weep not for me but for thy children._
That--thought Amory--would be somehow the way God would talk to me.
Amory felt a sudden surge of joy and then like a face in a motion-picture
the aura over the bed faded out; the dynamic shadow by the window,
that was as near as he could name it, remained for the fraction of a
moment and then the breeze seemed to lift it swiftly out of the room.
He clinched his hands in quick ecstatic excitement . . . the ten seconds
were up. . . .
"Do what I say, Alec--do what I say. Do you understand?"
Alec looked at him dumbly--his face a tableau of anguish.
"You have a family," continued Amory slowly. "You have a family and it's
important that you should get out of this. Do you hear me?" He repeated
clearly what he had said. "Do you hear me?"
"I hear you." The voice was curiously strained, the eyes never for a
second left Amory's.
"Alec, you're going to lie down here. If any one comes in you act drunk.
You do what I say--if you don't I'll probably kill you."
There was another moment while they stared at each other. Then Amory
went briskly to the bureau and, taking his pocket-book, beckoned
peremptorily to the girl. He heard one word from Alec that sounded like
"penitentiary," then he and Jill were in the bathroom with the door
bolted behind them.
"You're here with me," he said sternly. "You've been with me all
She nodded, gave a little half cry.
In a second he had the door of the other room open and three men entered.
There was an immediate flood of electric light and he stood there
"You've been playing a little too dangerous a game, young man!"
The leader of the trio nodded authoritatively at a burly man in a check
"All right, Olson."
"I got you, Mr. O'May," said Olson, nodding. The other two took a
curious glance at their quarry and then withdrew, closing the door
angrily behind them.
The burly man regarded Amory contemptuously.
"Didn't you ever hear of the Mann Act? Coming down here with her,"
he indicated the girl with his thumb, "with a New York license on your
car--to a hotel like _this_." He shook his head implying that he had
struggled over Amory but now gave him up.
"Well," said Amory rather impatiently, "what do you want us to do?"
"Get dressed, quick--and tell your friend not to make such a racket."
Jill was sobbing noisily on the bed, but at these words she subsided
sulkily and, gathering up her clothes, retired to the bathroom. As Amory
slipped into Alec's B. V. D.'s he found that his attitude toward the
situation was agreeably humorous. The aggrieved virtue of the burly man
made him want to laugh.
"Anybody else here?" demanded Olson, trying to look keen and ferret-like.
"Fellow who had the rooms," said Amory carelessly. "He's drunk as an owl,
though. Been in there asleep since six o'clock."
"I'll take a look at him presently."
"How did you find out?" asked Amory curiously.