Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

She was glad to be employed because the daily
round of toil in the store made the time of waiting
seem less long and uninteresting. She began to save
money, thinking that when she had saved two or
three hundred dollars she would follow her lover to
the city and try if her presence would not win back
his affections.

Alice did not blame Ned Currie for what had hap-
pened in the moonlight in the field, but felt that she
could never marry another man. To her the thought
of giving to another what she still felt could belong
only to Ned seemed monstrous. When other young
men tried to attract her attention she would have
nothing to do with them. "I am his wife and shall
remain his wife whether he comes back or not," she
whispered to herself, and for all of her willingness
to support herself could not have understood the
growing modern idea of a woman's owning herself
and giving and taking for her own ends in life.

Alice worked in the dry goods store from eight in
the morning until six at night and on three evenings
a week went back to the store to stay from seven
until nine. As time passed and she became more
and more lonely she began to practice the devices
common to lonely people. When at night she went
upstairs into her own room she knelt on the floor
to pray and in her prayers whispered things she
wanted to say to her lover. She became attached to
inanimate objects, and because it was her own,
could not bare to have anyone touch the furniture
of her room. The trick of saving money, begun for
a purpose, was carried on after the scheme of going
to the city to find Ned Currie had been given up. It
became a fixed habit, and when she needed new
clothes she did not get them. Sometimes on rainy
afternoons in the store she got out her bank book
and, letting it lie open before her, spent hours
dreaming impossible dreams of saving money enough
so that the interest would support both herself and
her future husband.

"Ned always liked to travel about," she thought.
"I'll give him the chance. Some day when we are
married and I can save both his money and my own,
we will be rich. Then we can travel together all over
the world."

In the dry goods store weeks ran into months and
months into years as Alice waited and dreamed of
her lover's return. Her employer, a grey old man
with false teeth and a thin grey mustache that
drooped down over his mouth, was not given to
conversation, and sometimes, on rainy days and in
the winter when a storm raged in Main Street, long
hours passed when no customers came in. Alice ar-
ranged and rearranged the stock. She stood near the
front window where she could look down the de-
serted street and thought of the evenings when she
had walked with Ned Currie and of what he had
said. "We will have to stick to each other now." The
words echoed and re-echoed through the mind of
the maturing woman. Tears came into her eyes.
Sometimes when her employer had gone out and
she was alone in the store she put her head on the
counter and wept. "Oh, Ned, I am waiting," she
whispered over and over, and all the time the creep-
ing fear that he would never come back grew
stronger within her.

In the spring when the rains have passed and be-
fore the long hot days of summer have come, the
country about Winesburg is delightful. The town lies
in the midst of open fields, but beyond the fields
are pleasant patches of woodlands. In the wooded
places are many little cloistered nooks, quiet places
where lovers go to sit on Sunday afternoons. Through
the trees they look out across the fields and see
farmers at work about the barns or people driving
up and down on the roads. In the town bells ring
and occasionally a train passes, looking like a toy
thing in the distance.

For several years after Ned Currie went away
Alice did not go into the wood with the other young
people on Sunday, but one day after he had been
gone for two or three years and when her loneliness
seemed unbearable, she put on her best dress and
set out. Finding a little sheltered place from which
she could see the town and a long stretch of the
fields, she sat down. Fear of age and ineffectuality
took possession of her. She could not sit still, and
arose. As she stood looking out over the land some-
thing, perhaps the thought of never ceasing life as
it expresses itself in the flow of the seasons, fixed
her mind on the passing years. With a shiver of
dread, she realized that for her the beauty and fresh-
ness of youth had passed. For the first time she felt
that she had been cheated. She did not blame Ned
Currie and did not know what to blame. Sadness
swept over her. Dropping to her knees, she tried to
pray, but instead of prayers words of protest came
to her lips. "It is not going to come to me. I will
never find happiness. Why do I tell myself lies?"
she cried, and an odd sense of relief came with this,
her first bold attempt to face the fear that had be-
come a part of her everyday life.

In the year when Alice Hindman became twenty-
five two things happened to disturb the dull un-
eventfulness of her days. Her mother married Bush
Milton, the carriage painter of Winesburg, and she
herself became a member of the Winesburg Method-
ist Church. Alice joined the church because she had
become frightened by the loneliness of her position
in life. Her mother's second marriage had empha-
sized her isolation. "I am becoming old and queer.
If Ned comes he will not want me. In the city where
he is living men are perpetually young. There is so
much going on that they do not have time to grow
old," she told herself with a grim little smile, and
went resolutely about the business of becoming ac-
quainted with people. Every Thursday evening when
the store had closed she went to a prayer meeting in
the basement of the church and on Sunday evening
attended a meeting of an organization called The
Epworth League.

When Will Hurley, a middle-aged man who clerked
in a drug store and who also belonged to the church,
offered to walk home with her she did not protest.
"Of course I will not let him make a practice of being
with me, but if he comes to see me once in a long
time there can be no harm in that," she told herself,
still determined in her loyalty to Ned Currie.

Without realizing what was happening, Alice was
trying feebly at first, but with growing determina-
tion, to get a new hold upon life. Beside the drug
clerk she walked in silence, but sometimes in the
darkness as they went stolidly along she put out her
hand and touched softly the folds of his coat. When
he left her at the gate before her mother's house she
did not go indoors, but stood for a moment by the
door. She wanted to call to the drug clerk, to ask
him to sit with her in the darkness on the porch
before the house, but was afraid he would not un-
derstand. "It is not him that I want," she told her-
self; "I want to avoid being so much alone. If I am
not careful I will grow unaccustomed to being with

During the early fall of her twenty-seventh year a
passionate restlessness took possession of Alice. She
could not bear to be in the company of the drug
clerk, and when, in the evening, he came to walk
with her she sent him away. Her mind became in-
tensely active and when, weary from the long hours
of standing behind the counter in the store, she
went home and crawled into bed, she could not
sleep. With staring eyes she looked into the dark-
ness. Her imagination, like a child awakened from
long sleep, played about the room. Deep within her
there was something that would not be cheated by
phantasies and that demanded some definite answer
from life.

Alice took a pillow into her arms and held it
tightly against her breasts. Getting out of bed, she
arranged a blanket so that in the darkness it looked
like a form lying between the sheets and, kneeling
beside the bed, she caressed it, whispering words
over and over, like a refrain. "Why doesn't some-
thing happen? Why am I left here alone?" she mut-
tered. Although she sometimes thought of Ned
Currie, she no longer depended on him. Her desire
had grown vague. She did not want Ned Currie or
any other man. She wanted to be loved, to have
something answer the call that was growing louder
and louder within her.

And then one night when it rained Alice had an
adventure. It frightened and confused her. She had
come home from the store at nine and found the
house empty. Bush Milton had gone off to town and
her mother to the house of a neighbor. Alice went
upstairs to her room and undressed in the darkness.
For a moment she stood by the window hearing the
rain beat against the glass and then a strange desire
took possession of her. Without stopping to think
of what she intended to do, she ran downstairs
through the dark house and out into the rain. As
she stood on the little grass plot before the house
and felt the cold rain on her body a mad desire to
run naked through the streets took possession of

She thought that the rain would have some cre-
ative and wonderful effect on her body. Not for
years had she felt so full of youth and courage. She
wanted to leap and run, to cry out, to find some
other lonely human and embrace him. On the brick
sidewalk before the house a man stumbled home-
ward. Alice started to run. A wild, desperate mood
took possession of her. "What do I care who it is.
He is alone, and I will go to him," she thought; and
then without stopping to consider the possible result
of her madness, called softly. "Wait!" she cried.
"Don't go away. Whoever you are, you must wait."

The man on the sidewalk stopped and stood lis-
tening. He was an old man and somewhat deaf.
Putting his hand to his mouth, he shouted. "What?
What say?" he called.

Alice dropped to the ground and lay trembling.
She was so frightened at the thought of what she
had done that when the man had gone on his way
she did not dare get to her feet, but crawled on
hands and knees through the grass to the house.
When she got to her own room she bolted the door
and drew her dressing table across the doorway.
Her body shook as with a chill and her hands trem-
bled so that she had difficulty getting into her night-
dress. When she got into bed she buried her face in
the pillow and wept brokenheartedly. "What is the
matter with me? I will do something dreadful if I
am not careful," she thought, and turning her face
to the wall, began trying to force herself to face
bravely the fact that many people must live and die
alone, even in Winesburg.


IF YOU HAVE lived in cities and have walked in the
park on a summer afternoon, you have perhaps
seen, blinking in a corner of his iron cage, a huge,
grotesque kind of monkey, a creature with ugly, sag-
ging, hairless skin below his eyes and a bright pur-
ple underbody. This monkey is a true monster. In
the completeness of his ugliness he achieved a kind
of perverted beauty. Children stopping before the
cage are fascinated, men turn away with an air of
disgust, and women linger for a moment, trying per-
haps to remember which one of their male acquain-
tances the thing in some faint way resembles.

Had you been in the earlier years of your life a
citizen of the village of Winesburg, Ohio, there
would have been for you no mystery in regard to
the beast in his cage. "It is like Wash Williams," you
would have said. "As he sits in the corner there, the
beast is exactly like old Wash sitting on the grass in
the station yard on a summer evening after he has
closed his office for the night."

Wash Williams, the telegraph operator of Wines-
burg, was the ugliest thing in town. His girth was
immense, his neck thin, his legs feeble. He was
dirty. Everything about him was unclean. Even the
whites of his eyes looked soiled.

I go too fast. Not everything about Wash was un-
clean. He took care of his hands. His fingers were
fat, but there was something sensitive and shapely
in the hand that lay on the table by the instrument
in the telegraph office. In his youth Wash Williams
had been called the best telegraph operator in the
state, and in spite of his degradement to the obscure
office at Winesburg, he was still proud of his ability.

Wash Williams did not associate with the men of
the town in which he lived. "I'll have nothing to do
with them," he said, looking with bleary eyes at the
men who walked along the station platform past the
telegraph office. Up along Main Street he went in
the evening to Ed Griffith's saloon, and after drink-
ing unbelievable quantities of beer staggered off to
his room in the New Willard House and to his bed
for the night.

Wash Williams was a man of courage. A thing
had happened to him that made him hate life, and
he hated it wholeheartedly, with the abandon of a
poet. First of all, he hated women. "Bitches," he
called them. His feeling toward men was somewhat
different. He pitied them. "Does not every man let
his life be managed for him by some bitch or an-
other?" he asked.

In Winesburg no attention was paid to Wash Wil-
liams and his hatred of his fellows. Once Mrs.
White, the banker's wife, complained to the tele-
graph company, saying that the office in Winesburg
was dirty and smelled abominably, but nothing
came of her complaint. Here and there a man re-
spected the operator. Instinctively the man felt in
him a glowing resentment of something he had not
the courage to resent. When Wash walked through
the streets such a one had an instinct to pay him
homage, to raise his hat or to bow before him. The
superintendent who had supervision over the tele-
graph operators on the railroad that went through
Winesburg felt that way. He had put Wash into the
obscure office at Winesburg to avoid discharging
him, and he meant to keep him there. When he
received the letter of complaint from the banker's
wife, he tore it up and laughed unpleasantly. For
some reason he thought of his own wife as he tore
up the letter.

Wash Williams once had a wife. When he was still
a young man he married a woman at Dayton, Ohio.
The woman was tall and slender and had blue eyes
and yellow hair. Wash was himself a comely youth.
He loved the woman with a love as absorbing as the
hatred he later felt for all women.

In all of Winesburg there was but one person who
knew the story of the thing that had made ugly the
person and the character of Wash Williams. He once
told the story to George Willard and the telling of
the tale came about in this way:

George Willard went one evening to walk with
Belle Carpenter, a trimmer of women's hats who
worked in a millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate
McHugh. The young man was not in love with the
woman, who, in fact, had a suitor who worked as
bartender in Ed Griffith's saloon, but as they walked
about under the trees they occasionally embraced.
The night and their own thoughts had aroused
something in them. As they were returning to Main
Street they passed the little lawn beside the railroad
station and saw Wash Williams apparently asleep on
the grass beneath a tree. On the next evening the
operator and George Willard walked out together.
Down the railroad they went and sat on a pile of
decaying railroad ties beside the tracks. It was then
that the operator told the young reporter his story
of hate.

Perhaps a dozen times George Willard and the
strange, shapeless man who lived at his father's
hotel had been on the point of talking. The young
man looked at the hideous, leering face staring
about the hotel dining room and was consumed
with curiosity. Something he saw lurking in the star-
ing eyes told him that the man who had nothing to
say to others had nevertheless something to say to
him. On the pile of railroad ties on the summer eve-
ning, he waited expectantly. When the operator re-
mained silent and seemed to have changed his mind
about talking, he tried to make conversation. "Were
you ever married, Mr. Williams?" he began. "I sup-
pose you were and your wife is dead, is that it?"

Wash Williams spat forth a succession of vile
oaths. "Yes, she is dead," he agreed. "She is dead
as all women are dead. She is a living-dead thing,
walking in the sight of men and making the earth
foul by her presence." Staring into the boy's eyes,
the man became purple with rage. "Don't have fool
notions in your head," he commanded. "My wife,
she is dead; yes, surely. I tell you, all women are
dead, my mother, your mother, that tall dark
woman who works in the millinery store and with
whom I saw you walking about yesterday--all of
them, they are all dead. I tell you there is something
rotten about them. I was married, sure. My wife was
dead before she married me, she was a foul thing
come out a woman more foul. She was a thing sent
to make life unbearable to me. I was a fool, do you
see, as you are now, and so I married this woman.
I would like to see men a little begin to understand
women. They are sent to prevent men making the
world worth while. It is a trick in Nature. Ugh! They
are creeping, crawling, squirming things, they with
their soft hands and their blue eyes. The sight of a
woman sickens me. Why I don't kill every woman
I see I don't know."

Half frightened and yet fascinated by the light
burning in the eyes of the hideous old man, George
Willard listened, afire with curiosity. Darkness came
on and he leaned forward trying to see the face of
the man who talked. When, in the gathering dark-
ness, he could no longer see the purple, bloated face
and the burning eyes, a curious fancy came to him.
Wash Williams talked in low even tones that made
his words seem the more terrible. In the darkness
the young reporter found himself imagining that he
sat on the railroad ties beside a comely young man
with black hair and black shining eyes. There was
something almost beautiful in the voice of Wash Wil-
liams, the hideous, telling his story of hate.

The telegraph operator of Winesburg, sitting in
the darkness on the railroad ties, had become a poet.
Hatred had raised him to that elevation. "It is because
I saw you kissing the lips of that Belle Carpenter
that I tell you my story," he said. "What happened
to me may next happen to you. I want to put you
on your guard. Already you may be having dreams
in your head. I want to destroy them."

Wash Williams began telling the story of his mar-
ried life with the tall blonde girl with the blue eyes
whom he had met when he was a young operator
at Dayton, Ohio. Here and there his story was
touched with moments of beauty intermingled with
strings of vile curses. The operator had married the
daughter of a dentist who was the youngest of three
sisters. On his marriage day, because of his ability,
he was promoted to a position as dispatcher at an
increased salary and sent to an office at Columbus,
Ohio. There he settled down with his young wife
and began buying a house on the installment plan.

The young telegraph operator was madly in love.
With a kind of religious fervor he had managed to
go through the pitfalls of his youth and to remain
virginal until after his marriage. He made for George
Willard a picture of his life in the house at Colum-
bus, Ohio, with the young wife. "in the garden back
of our house we planted vegetables," he said, "you
know, peas and corn and such things. We went to
Columbus in early March and as soon as the days
became warm I went to work in the garden. With a
spade I turned up the black ground while she ran
about laughing and pretending to be afraid of the
worms I uncovered. Late in April came the planting.
In the little paths among the seed beds she stood
holding a paper bag in her hand. The bag was filled
with seeds. A few at a time she handed me the
seeds that I might thrust them into the warm, soft

For a moment there was a catch in the voice of
the man talking in the darkness. "I loved her," he
said. "I don't claim not to be a fool. I love her yet.
There in the dusk in the spring evening I crawled
along the black ground to her feet and groveled be-
fore her. I kissed her shoes and the ankles above
her shoes. When the hem of her garment touched
my face I trembled. When after two years of that life
I found she had managed to acquire three other lov-
ers who came regularly to our house when I was
away at work, I didn't want to touch them or her.
I just sent her home to her mother and said nothing.
There was nothing to say. I had four hundred dol-
lars in the bank and I gave her that. I didn't ask her
reasons. I didn't say anything. When she had gone
I cried like a silly boy. Pretty soon I had a chance
to sell the house and I sent that money to her."

Wash Williams and George Willard arose from the
pile of railroad ties and walked along the tracks
toward town. The operator finished his tale quickly,

"Her mother sent for me," he said. "She wrote
me a letter and asked me to come to their house at
Dayton. When I got there it was evening about this

Wash Williams' voice rose to a half scream. "I sat
in the parlor of that house two hours. Her mother
took me in there and left me. Their house was styl-
ish. They were what is called respectable people.
There were plush chairs and a couch in the room. I
was trembling all over. I hated the men I thought
had wronged her. I was sick of living alone and
wanted her back. The longer I waited the more raw
and tender I became. I thought that if she came in
and just touched me with her hand I would perhaps
faint away. I ached to forgive and forget."

Wash Williams stopped and stood staring at George
Willard. The boy's body shook as from a chill. Again
the man's voice became soft and low. "She came
into the room naked," he went on. "Her mother did
that. While I sat there she was taking the girl's
clothes off, perhaps coaxing her to do it. First I
heard voices at the door that led into a little hallway
and then it opened softly. The girl was ashamed and
stood perfectly still staring at the floor. The mother
didn't come into the room. When she had pushed
the girl in through the door she stood in the hallway
waiting, hoping we would--well, you see--

George Willard and the telegraph operator came
into the main street of Winesburg. The lights from
the store windows lay bright and shining on the
sidewalks. People moved about laughing and talk-
ing. The young reporter felt ill and weak. In imagi-
nation, he also became old and shapeless. "I didn't
get the mother killed," said Wash Williams, staring
up and down the street. "I struck her once with a
chair and then the neighbors came in and took it
away. She screamed so loud you see. I won't ever
have a chance to kill her now. She died of a fever a
month after that happened."


THE HOUSE in which Seth Richmond of Winesburg
lived with his mother had been at one time the show
place of the town, but when young Seth lived there
its glory had become somewhat dimmed. The huge
brick house which Banker White had built on Buck-
eye Street had overshadowed it. The Richmond
place was in a little valley far out at the end of Main
Street. Farmers coming into town by a dusty road
from the south passed by a grove of walnut trees,
skirted the Fair Ground with its high board fence
covered with advertisements, and trotted their horses
down through the valley past the Richmond place
into town. As much of the country north and south
of Winesburg was devoted to fruit and berry raising,
Seth saw wagon-loads of berry pickers--boys, girls,
and women--going to the fields in the morning and
returning covered with dust in the evening. The
chattering crowd, with their rude jokes cried out
from wagon to wagon, sometimes irritated him
sharply. He regretted that he also could not laugh
boisterously, shout meaningless jokes and make of
himself a figure in the endless stream of moving,
giggling activity that went up and down the road.

The Richmond house was built of limestone, and,
although it was said in the village to have become
run down, had in reality grown more beautiful with
every passing year. Already time had begun a little
to color the stone, lending a golden richness to its
surface and in the evening or on dark days touching
the shaded places beneath the eaves with wavering
patches of browns and blacks.

The house had been built by Seth's grandfather,
a stone quarryman, and it, together with the stone
quarries on Lake Erie eighteen miles to the north,
had been left to his son, Clarence Richmond, Seth's
father. Clarence Richmond, a quiet passionate man
extraordinarily admired by his neighbors, had been
killed in a street fight with the editor of a newspaper
in Toledo, Ohio. The fight concerned the publication
of Clarence Richmond's name coupled with that of
a woman school teacher, and as the dead man had
begun the row by firing upon the editor, the effort
to punish the slayer was unsuccessful. After the
quarryman's death it was found that much of the
money left to him had been squandered in specula-
tion and in insecure investments made through the
influence of friends.

Left with but a small income, Virginia Richmond
had settled down to a retired life in the village and
to the raising of her son. Although she had been
deeply moved by the death of the husband and fa-
ther, she did not at all believe the stories concerning
him that ran about after his death. To her mind,
the sensitive, boyish man whom all had instinctively
loved, was but an unfortunate, a being too fine for
everyday life. "You'll be hearing all sorts of stories,
but you are not to believe what you hear," she said
to her son. "He was a good man, full of tenderness
for everyone, and should not have tried to be a man
of affairs. No matter how much I were to plan and
dream of your future, I could not imagine anything
better for you than that you turn out as good a man
as your father."

Several years after the death of her husband, Vir-
ginia Richmond had become alarmed at the growing
demands upon her income and had set herself to
the task of increasing it. She had learned stenogra-
phy and through the influence of her husband's
friends got the position of court stenographer at the
county seat. There she went by train each morning
during the sessions of the court, and when no court
sat, spent her days working among the rosebushes
in her garden. She was a tall, straight figure of a
woman with a plain face and a great mass of brown

In the relationship between Seth Richmond and
his mother, there was a quality that even at eighteen
had begun to color all of his traffic with men. An
almost unhealthy respect for the youth kept the
mother for the most part silent in his presence.
When she did speak sharply to him he had only to
look steadily into her eyes to see dawning there the
puzzled look he had already noticed in the eyes of
others when he looked at them.

The truth was that the son thought with remark-
able clearness and the mother did not. She expected
from all people certain conventional reactions to life.
A boy was your son, you scolded him and he trem-
bled and looked at the floor. When you had scolded
enough he wept and all was forgiven. After the
weeping and when he had gone to bed, you crept
into his room and kissed him.

Virginia Richmond could not understand why her
son did not do these things. After the severest repri-
mand, he did not tremble and look at the floor but
instead looked steadily at her, causing uneasy doubts
to invade her mind. As for creeping into his room--
after Seth had passed his fifteenth year, she would
have been half afraid to do anything of the kind.

Once when he was a boy of sixteen, Seth in com-
pany with two other boys ran away from home. The
three boys climbed into the open door of an empty
freight car and rode some forty miles to a town
where a fair was being held. One of the boys had
a bottle filled with a combination of whiskey and
blackberry wine, and the three sat with legs dan-
gling out of the car door drinking from the bottle.
Seth's two companions sang and waved their hands
to idlers about the stations of the towns through
which the train passed. They planned raids upon
the baskets of farmers who had come with their fam-
ilies to the fair. "We will five like kings and won't
have to spend a penny to see the fair and horse
races," they declared boastfully.

After the disappearance of Seth, Virginia Rich-
mond walked up and down the floor of her home
filled with vague alarms. Although on the next day
she discovered, through an inquiry made by the
town marshal, on what adventure the boys had
gone, she could not quiet herself. All through the
night she lay awake hearing the clock tick and telling
herself that Seth, like his father, would come to a
sudden and violent end. So determined was she that
the boy should this time feel the weight of her wrath
that, although she would not allow the marshal to
interfere with his adventure, she got out a pencil
and paper and wrote down a series of sharp, sting-
ing reproofs she intended to pour out upon him.
The reproofs she committed to memory, going about
the garden and saying them aloud like an actor
memorizing his part.

And when, at the end of the week, Seth returned,
a little weary and with coal soot in his ears and
about his eyes, she again found herself unable to
reprove him. Walking into the house he hung his
cap on a nail by the kitchen door and stood looking
steadily at her. "I wanted to turn back within an
hour after we had started," he explained. "I didn't
know what to do. I knew you would be bothered,
but I knew also that if I didn't go on I would be
ashamed of myself. I went through with the thing
for my own good. It was uncomfortable, sleeping
on wet straw, and two drunken Negroes came and
slept with us. When I stole a lunch basket out of a
farmer's wagon I couldn't help thinking of his chil-
dren going all day without food. I was sick of the
whole affair, but I was determined to stick it out
until the other boys were ready to come back."

"I'm glad you did stick it out," replied the mother,
half resentfully, and kissing him upon the forehead
pretended to busy herself with the work about the

On a summer evening Seth Richmond went to
the New Willard House to visit his friend, George
Willard. It had rained during the afternoon, but as
he walked through Main Street, the sky had partially
cleared and a golden glow lit up the west. Going
around a corner, he turned in at the door of the
hotel and began to climb the stairway leading up to
his friend's room. In the hotel office the proprietor
and two traveling men were engaged in a discussion
of politics.

On the stairway Seth stopped and listened to the
voices of the men below. They were excited and
talked rapidly. Tom Willard was berating the travel-
ing men. "I am a Democrat but your talk makes
me sick," he said. "You don't understand McKinley.
McKinley and Mark Hanna are friends. It is impossi-
ble perhaps for your mind to grasp that. If anyone
tells you that a friendship can be deeper and bigger
and more worth while than dollars and cents, or
even more worth while than state politics, you
snicker and laugh."

The landlord was interrupted by one of the
guests, a tall, grey-mustached man who worked for
a wholesale grocery house. "Do you think that I've
lived in Cleveland all these years without knowing
Mark Hanna?" he demanded. "Your talk is piffle.
Hanna is after money and nothing else. This McKin-
ley is his tool. He has McKinley bluffed and don't
you forget it."

The young man on the stairs did not linger to
hear the rest of the discussion, but went on up the
stairway and into the little dark hall. Something in
the voices of the men talking in the hotel office
started a chain of thoughts in his mind. He was
lonely and had begun to think that loneliness was a
part of his character, something that would always
stay with him. Stepping into a side hall he stood by
a window that looked into an alleyway. At the back
of his shop stood Abner Groff, the town baker. His
tiny bloodshot eyes looked up and down the alley-
way. In his shop someone called the baker, who
pretended not to hear. The baker had an empty milk
bottle in his hand and an angry sullen look in his

In Winesburg, Seth Richmond was called the
"deep one." "He's like his father," men said as he
went through the streets. "He'll break out some of
these days. You wait and see."

The talk of the town and the respect with which
men and boys instinctively greeted him, as all men
greet silent people, had affected Seth Richmond's
outlook on life and on himself. He, like most boys,
was deeper than boys are given credit for being, but
he was not what the men of the town, and even
his mother, thought him to be. No great underlying
purpose lay back of his habitual silence, and he had
no definite plan for his life. When the boys with
whom he associated were noisy and quarrelsome,
he stood quietly at one side. With calm eyes he
watched the gesticulating lively figures of his com-
panions. He wasn't particularly interested in what
was going on, and sometimes wondered if he would
ever be particularly interested in anything. Now, as
he stood in the half-darkness by the window watch-
ing the baker, he wished that he himself might be-
come thoroughly stirred by something, even by the
fits of sullen anger for which Baker Groff was noted.
"It would be better for me if I could become excited
and wrangle about politics like windy old Tom Wil-
lard," he thought, as he left the window and went
again along the hallway to the room occupied by his
friend, George Willard.

George Willard was older than Seth Richmond,
but in the rather odd friendship between the two, it
was he who was forever courting and the younger
boy who was being courted. The paper on which
George worked had one policy. It strove to mention
by name in each issue, as many as possible of the
inhabitants of the village. Like an excited dog,
George Willard ran here and there, noting on his
pad of paper who had gone on business to the
county seat or had returned from a visit to a neigh-
boring village. All day he wrote little facts upon the
pad. "A. P. Wringlet had received a shipment of
straw hats. Ed Byerbaum and Tom Marshall were in
Cleveland Friday. Uncle Tom Sinnings is building a
new barn on his place on the Valley Road."

The idea that George Willard would some day be-
come a writer had given him a place of distinction
in Winesburg, and to Seth Richmond he talked con-
tinually of the matter, "It's the easiest of all lives to
live," he declared, becoming excited and boastful.
"Here and there you go and there is no one to boss
you. Though you are in India or in the South Seas
in a boat, you have but to write and there you are.
Wait till I get my name up and then see what fun I
shall have."

In George Willard's room, which had a window
looking down into an alleyway and one that looked
across railroad tracks to Biff Carter's Lunch Room
facing the railroad station, Seth Richmond sat in a
chair and looked at the floor. George Willard, who
had been sitting for an hour idly playing with a lead
pencil, greeted him effusively. "I've been trying to
write a love story," he explained, laughing ner-
vously. Lighting a pipe he began walking up and
down the room. "I know what I'm going to do. I'm
going to fall in love. I've been sitting here and think-
ing it over and I'm going to do it."

As though embarrassed by his declaration, George
went to a window and turning his back to his friend
leaned out. "I know who I'm going to fall in love
with," he said sharply. "It's Helen White. She is the
only girl in town with any 'get-up' to her."

Struck with a new idea, young Willard turned and
walked toward his visitor. "Look here," he said.
"You know Helen White better than I do. I want
you to tell her what I said. You just get to talking
to her and say that I'm in love with her. See what
she says to that. See how she takes it, and then you
come and tell me."

Seth Richmond arose and went toward the door.
The words of his comrade irritated him unbearably.
"Well, good-bye," he said briefly.

George was amazed. Running forward he stood
in the darkness trying to look into Seth's face.
"What's the matter? What are you going to do? You
stay here and let's talk," he urged.

A wave of resentment directed against his friend,
the men of the town who were, he thought, perpet-
ually talking of nothing, and most of all, against his
own habit of silence, made Seth half desperate.
"Aw, speak to her yourself," he burst forth and
then, going quickly through the door, slammed it
sharply in his friend's face. "I'm going to find Helen
White and talk to her, but not about him," he

Seth went down the stairway and out at the front
door of the hotel muttering with wrath. Crossing a
little dusty street and climbing a low iron railing, he
went to sit upon the grass in the station yard.
George Willard he thought a profound fool, and he
wished that he had said so more vigorously. Al-
though his acquaintanceship with Helen White, the
banker's daughter, was outwardly but casual, she
was often the subject of his thoughts and he felt that
she was something private and personal to himself.
"The busy fool with his love stories," he muttered,
staring back over his shoulder at George Willard's
room, "why does he never tire of his eternal

It was berry harvest time in Winesburg and upon
the station platform men and boys loaded the boxes
of red, fragrant berries into two express cars that
stood upon the siding. A June moon was in the sky,
although in the west a storm threatened, and no
street lamps were lighted. In the dim light the fig-
ures of the men standing upon the express truck
and pitching the boxes in at the doors of the cars
were but dimly discernible. Upon the iron railing
that protected the station lawn sat other men. Pipes
were lighted. Village jokes went back and forth.
Away in the distance a train whistled and the men
loading the boxes into the cars worked with re-
newed activity.

Seth arose from his place on the grass and went
silently past the men perched upon the railing and
into Main Street. He had come to a resolution. "I'll
get out of here," he told himself. "What good am I
here? I'm going to some city and go to work. I'll tell
mother about it tomorrow."

Seth Richmond went slowly along Main Street,
past Wacker's Cigar Store and the Town Hall, and
into Buckeye Street. He was depressed by the
thought that he was not a part of the life in his own
town, but the depression did not cut deeply as he
did not think of himself as at fault. In the heavy
shadows of a big tree before Doctor Welling's house,
he stopped and stood watching half-witted Turk
Smollet, who was pushing a wheelbarrow in the
road. The old man with his absurdly boyish mind
had a dozen long boards on the wheelbarrow, and,
as he hurried along the road, balanced the load with
extreme nicety. "Easy there, Turk! Steady now, old
boy!" the old man shouted to himself, and laughed
so that the load of boards rocked dangerously.

Seth knew Turk Smollet, the half dangerous old
wood chopper whose peculiarities added so much
of color to the life of the village. He knew that when
Turk got into Main Street he would become the cen-
ter of a whirlwind of cries and comments, that in
truth the old man was going far out of his way in
order to pass through Main Street and exhibit his
skill in wheeling the boards. "If George Willard were
here, he'd have something to say," thought Seth.
"George belongs to this town. He'd shout at Turk
and Turk would shout at him. They'd both be se-
cretly pleased by what they had said. It's different
with me. I don't belong. I'll not make a fuss about
it, but I'm going to get out of here."

Seth stumbled forward through the half-darkness,
feeling himself an outcast in his own town. He
began to pity himself, but a sense of the absurdity
of his thoughts made him smile. In the end he de-
cided that he was simply old beyond his years and
not at all a subject for self-pity. "I'm made to go to
work. I may be able to make a place for myself by
steady working, and I might as well be at it," he

Seth went to the house of Banker White and stood
in the darkness by the front door. On the door hung
a heavy brass knocker, an innovation introduced
into the village by Helen White's mother, who had
also organized a women's club for the study of po-
etry. Seth raised the knocker and let it fall. Its heavy
clatter sounded like a report from distant guns.
"How awkward and foolish I am," he thought. "If
Mrs. White comes to the door, I won't know what
to say."

It was Helen White who came to the door and
found Seth standing at the edge of the porch. Blush-
ing with pleasure, she stepped forward, closing the
door softly. "I'm going to get out of town. I don't
know what I'll do, but I'm going to get out of here
and go to work. I think I'll go to Columbus," he
said. "Perhaps I'll get into the State University down
there. Anyway, I'm going. I'll tell mother tonight."
He hesitated and looked doubtfully about. "Perhaps
you wouldn't mind coming to walk with me?"

Seth and Helen walked through the streets be-
neath the trees. Heavy clouds had drifted across the
face of the moon, and before them in the deep twi-
light went a man with a short ladder upon his shoul-
der. Hurrying forward, the man stopped at the
street crossing and, putting the ladder against the
wooden lamp-post, lighted the village lights so that
their way was half lighted, half darkened, by the
lamps and by the deepening shadows cast by the
low-branched trees. In the tops of the trees the wind
began to play, disturbing the sleeping birds so that
they flew about calling plaintively. In the lighted
space before one of the lamps, two bats wheeled
and circled, pursuing the gathering swarm of night

Since Seth had been a boy in knee trousers there
had been a half expressed intimacy between him
and the maiden who now for the first time walked
beside him. For a time she had been beset with a
madness for writing notes which she addressed to
Seth. He had found them concealed in his books at
school and one had been given him by a child met
in the street, while several had been delivered
through the village post office.

The notes had been written in a round, boyish
hand and had reflected a mind inflamed by novel
reading. Seth had not answered them, although he
had been moved and flattered by some of the sen-
tences scrawled in pencil upon the stationery of the
banker's wife. Putting them into the pocket of his
coat, he went through the street or stood by the
fence in the school yard with something burning at
his side. He thought it fine that he should be thus
selected as the favorite of the richest and most at-
tractive girl in town.

Helen and Seth stopped by a fence near where a
low dark building faced the street. The building had
once been a factory for the making of barrel staves
but was now vacant. Across the street upon the
porch of a house a man and woman talked of their
childhood, their voices coming dearly across to the
half-embarrassed youth and maiden. There was the
sound of scraping chairs and the man and woman
came down the gravel path to a wooden gate. Stand-
ing outside the gate, the man leaned over and kissed
the woman. "For old times' sake," he said and,
turning, walked rapidly away along the sidewalk.

"That's Belle Turner," whispered Helen, and put
her hand boldly into Seth's hand. "I didn't know
she had a fellow. I thought she was too old for
that." Seth laughed uneasily. The hand of the girl
was warm and a strange, dizzy feeling crept over
him. Into his mind came a desire to tell her some-
thing he had been determined not to tell. "George
Willard's in love with you," he said, and in spite of
his agitation his voice was low and quiet. "He's writ-
ing a story, and he wants to be in love. He wants
to know how it feels. He wanted me to tell you and
see what you said."

Again Helen and Seth walked in silence. They
came to the garden surrounding the old Richmond
place and going through a gap in the hedge sat on
a wooden bench beneath a bush.

On the street as he walked beside the girl new
and daring thoughts had come into Seth Richmond's
mind. He began to regret his decision to get out of
town. "It would be something new and altogether
delightful to remain and walk often through the
streets with Helen White," he thought. In imagina-
tion he saw himself putting his arm about her waist
and feeling her arms clasped tightly about his neck.
One of those odd combinations of events and places
made him connect the idea of love-making with this
girl and a spot he had visited some days before. He
had gone on an errand to the house of a farmer who
lived on a hillside beyond the Fair Ground and had
returned by a path through a field. At the foot of
the hill below the farmer's house Seth had stopped
beneath a sycamore tree and looked about him. A
soft humming noise had greeted his ears. For a mo-
ment he had thought the tree must be the home of
a swarm of bees.

And then, looking down, Seth had seen the bees
everywhere all about him in the long grass. He
stood in a mass of weeds that grew waist-high in
the field that ran away from the hillside. The weeds
were abloom with tiny purple blossoms and gave
forth an overpowering fragrance. Upon the weeds
the bees were gathered in armies, singing as they

Seth imagined himself lying on a summer eve-
ning, buried deep among the weeds beneath the
tree. Beside him, in the scene built in his fancy, lay
Helen White, her hand lying in his hand. A peculiar
reluctance kept him from kissing her lips, but he felt
he might have done that if he wished. Instead, he
lay perfectly still, looking at her and listening to the
army of bees that sang the sustained masterful song
of labor above his head.

On the bench in the garden Seth stirred uneasily.
Releasing the hand of the girl, he thrust his hands
into his trouser pockets. A desire to impress the
mind of his companion with the importance of the
resolution he had made came over him and he nod-
ded his head toward the house. "Mother'll make a
fuss, I suppose," he whispered. "She hasn't thought
at all about what I'm going to do in life. She thinks
I'm going to stay on here forever just being a boy."

Seth's voice became charged with boyish earnest-
ness. "You see, I've got to strike out. I've got to get
to work. It's what I'm good for."

Helen White was impressed. She nodded her
head and a feeling of admiration swept over her.
"This is as it should be," she thought. "This boy is
not a boy at all, but a strong, purposeful man." Cer-
tain vague desires that had been invading her body
were swept away and she sat up very straight on
the bench. The thunder continued to rumble and
flashes of heat lightning lit up the eastern sky. The
garden that had been so mysterious and vast, a
place that with Seth beside her might have become
the background for strange and wonderful adven-
tures, now seemed no more than an ordinary Wines-
burg back yard, quite definite and limited in its

"What will you do up there?" she whispered.

Seth turned half around on the bench, striving to
see her face in the darkness. He thought her infi-
nitely more sensible and straightforward than George
Willard, and was glad he had come away from his
friend. A feeling of impatience with the town that
had been in his mind returned, and he tried to tell
her of it. "Everyone talks and talks," he began. "I'm
sick of it. I'll do something, get into some kind of
work where talk don't count. Maybe I'll just be a
mechanic in a shop. I don't know. I guess I don't
care much. I just want to work and keep quiet.
That's all I've got in my mind."

Seth arose from the bench and put out his hand.
He did not want to bring the meeting to an end but
could not think of anything more to say. "It's the
last time we'll see each other," he whispered.

A wave of sentiment swept over Helen. Putting
her hand upon Seth's shoulder, she started to draw
his face down toward her own upturned face. The
act was one of pure affection and cutting regret that
some vague adventure that had been present in the
spirit of the night would now never be realized. "I
think I'd better be going along," she said, letting her
hand fall heavily to her side. A thought came to her.
"Don't you go with me; I want to be alone," she
said. "You go and talk with your mother. You'd
better do that now."

Seth hesitated and, as he stood waiting, the girl
turned and ran away through the hedge. A desire
to run after her came to him, but he only stood
staring, perplexed and puzzled by her action as he
had been perplexed and puzzled by all of the life of
the town out of which she had come. Walking
slowly toward the house, he stopped in the shadow
of a large tree and looked at his mother sitting by a
lighted window busily sewing. The feeling of loneli-
ness that had visited him earlier in the evening re-
turned and colored his thoughts of the adventure
through which he had just passed. "Huh!" he ex-
claimed, turning and staring in the direction taken
by Helen White. "That's how things'll turn out.
She'll be like the rest. I suppose she'll begin now to
look at me in a funny way." He looked at the
ground and pondered this thought. "She'll be em-
barrassed and feel strange when I'm around," he
whispered to himself. "That's how it'll be. That's
how everything'll turn out. When it comes to loving
someone, it won't never be me. It'll be someone
else--some fool--someone who talks a lot--some-
one like that George Willard."


UNTIL SHE WAS seven years old she lived in an old
unpainted house on an unused road that led off
Trunion Pike. Her father gave her but little attention
and her mother was dead. The father spent his time
talking and thinking of religion. He proclaimed him-
self an agnostic and was so absorbed in destroying
the ideas of God that had crept into the minds of
his neighbors that he never saw God manifesting
himself in the little child that, half forgotten, lived
here and there on the bounty of her dead mother's

A stranger came to Winesburg and saw in the
child what the father did not see. He was a tall, red-
haired young man who was almost always drunk.
Sometimes he sat in a chair before the New Willard
House with Tom Hard, the father. As Tom talked,
declaring there could be no God, the stranger smiled
and winked at the bystanders. He and Tom became
friends and were much together.

The stranger was the son of a rich merchant of
Cleveland and had come to Winesburg on a mission.
He wanted to cure himself of the habit of drink, and
thought that by escaping from his city associates and
living in a rural community he would have a better
chance in the struggle with the appetite that was
destroying him.

His sojourn in Winesburg was not a success. The
dullness of the passing hours led to his drinking
harder than ever. But he did succeed in doing some-
thing. He gave a name rich with meaning to Tom
Hard's daughter.

One evening when he was recovering from a long
debauch the stranger came reeling along the main
street of the town. Tom Hard sat in a chair before
the New Willard House with his daughter, then a
child of five, on his knees. Beside him on the board
sidewalk sat young George Willard. The stranger
dropped into a chair beside them. His body shook
and when he tried to talk his voice trembled.

It was late evening and darkness lay over the
town and over the railroad that ran along the foot
of a little incline before the hotel. Somewhere in the
distance, off to the west, there was a prolonged blast
from the whistle of a passenger engine. A dog that
had been sleeping in the roadway arose and barked.
The stranger began to babble and made a prophecy
concerning the child that lay in the arms of the

"I came here to quit drinking," he said, and tears
began to run down his cheeks. He did not look at
Tom Hard, but leaned forward and stared into the
darkness as though seeing a vision. "I ran away to
the country to be cured, but I am not cured. There
is a reason." He turned to look at the child who sat
up very straight on her father's knee and returned
the look.

The stranger touched Tom Hard on the arm.
"Drink is not the only thing to which I am ad-
dicted," he said. "There is something else. I am a
lover and have not found my thing to love. That is
a big point if you know enough to realize what I
mean. It makes my destruction inevitable, you see.
There are few who understand that."

The stranger became silent and seemed overcome
with sadness, but another blast from the whistle of
the passenger engine aroused him. "I have not lost
faith. I proclaim that. I have only been brought to
the place where I know my faith will not be real-
ized," he declared hoarsely. He looked hard at the
child and began to address her, paying no more at-
tention to the father. "There is a woman coming,"
he said, and his voice was now sharp and earnest.
"I have missed her, you see. She did not come in
my time. You may be the woman. It would be like
fate to let me stand in her presence once, on such
an evening as this, when I have destroyed myself
with drink and she is as yet only a child."

The shoulders of the stranger shook violently, and
when he tried to roll a cigarette the paper fell from
his trembling fingers. He grew angry and scolded.
"They think it's easy to be a woman, to be loved,
but I know better," he declared. Again he turned to
the child. "I understand," he cried. "Perhaps of all
men I alone understand."

His glance again wandered away to the darkened
street. "I know about her, although she has never
crossed my path," he said softly. "I know about her
struggles and her defeats. It is because of her defeats
that she is to me the lovely one. Out of her defeats
has been born a new quality in woman. I have a
name for it. I call it Tandy. I made up the name
when I was a true dreamer and before my body
became vile. It is the quality of being strong to be
loved. It is something men need from women and
that they do not get. "

The stranger arose and stood before Tom Hard.
His body rocked back and forth and he seemed
about to fall, but instead he dropped to his knees
on the sidewalk and raised the hands of the little
girl to his drunken lips. He kissed them ecstatically.
"Be Tandy, little one," he pleaded. "Dare to be
strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture
anything. Be brave enough to dare to be loved. Be
something more than man or woman. Be Tandy."

The stranger arose and staggered off down the
street. A day or two later he got aboard a train and
returned to his home in Cleveland. On the summer
evening, after the talk before the hotel, Tom Hard
took the girl child to the house of a relative where
she had been invited to spend the night. As he went
along in the darkness under the trees he forgot the
babbling voice of the stranger and his mind returned
to the making of arguments by which he might de-
stroy men's faith in God. He spoke his daughter's
name and she began to weep.

"I don't want to be called that," she declared. "I
want to be called Tandy--Tandy Hard." The child
wept so bitterly that Tom Hard was touched and
tried to comfort her. He stopped beneath a tree and,
taking her into his arms, began to caress her. "Be
good, now," he said sharply; but she would not be
quieted. With childish abandon she gave herself
over to grief, her voice breaking the evening stillness
of the street. "I want to be Tandy. I want to be
Tandy. I want to be Tandy Hard," she cried, shak-
ing her head and sobbing as though her young
strength were not enough to bear the vision the
words of the drunkard had brought to her.


THE REVEREND Curtis Hartman was pastor of the
Presbyterian Church of Winesburg, and had been in
that position ten years. He was forty years old, and
by his nature very silent and reticent. To preach,
standing in the pulpit before the people, was always
a hardship for him and from Wednesday morning
until Saturday evening he thought of nothing but
the two sermons that must be preached on Sunday.
Early on Sunday morning he went into a little room
called a study in the bell tower of the church and
prayed. In his prayers there was one note that al-
ways predominated. "Give me strength and courage
for Thy work, O Lord!" he pleaded, kneeling on the
bare floor and bowing his head in the presence of
the task that lay before him.

The Reverend Hartman was a tall man with a
brown beard. His wife, a stout, nervous woman,
was the daughter of a manufacturer of underwear
at Cleveland, Ohio. The minister himself was rather
a favorite in the town. The elders of the church liked
him because he was quiet and unpretentious and
Mrs. White, the banker's wife, thought him schol-
arly and refined.

The Presbyterian Church held itself somewhat
aloof from the other churches of Winesburg. It was
larger and more imposing and its minister was better
paid. He even had a carriage of his own and on
summer evenings sometimes drove about town with
his wife. Through Main Street and up and down
Buckeye Street he went, bowing gravely to the peo-
ple, while his wife, afire with secret pride, looked
at him out of the corners of her eyes and worried
lest the horse become frightened and run away.

For a good many years after he came to Wines-
burg things went well with Curtis Hartman. He was
not one to arouse keen enthusiasm among the wor-
shippers in his church but on the other hand he
made no enemies. In reality he was much in earnest
and sometimes suffered prolonged periods of re-
morse because he could not go crying the word of
God in the highways and byways of the town. He
wondered if the flame of the spirit really burned in
him and dreamed of a day when a strong sweet new
current of power would come like a great wind into
his voice and his soul and the people would tremble
before the spirit of God made manifest in him. "I
am a poor stick and that will never really happen to
me," he mused dejectedly, and then a patient smile
lit up his features. "Oh well, I suppose I'm doing
well enough," he added philosophically.

The room in the bell tower of the church, where
on Sunday mornings the minister prayed for an in-
crease in him of the power of God, had but one
window. It was long and narrow and swung out-
ward on a hinge like a door. On the window, made
of little leaded panes, was a design showing the
Christ laying his hand upon the head of a child.
One Sunday morning in the summer as he sat by
his desk in the room with a large Bible opened be-
fore him, and the sheets of his sermon scattered
about, the minister was shocked to see, in the upper
room of the house next door, a woman lying in her
bed and smoking a cigarette while she read a book.
Curtis Hartman went on tiptoe to the window and
closed it softly. He was horror stricken at the
thought of a woman smoking and trembled also to
think that his eyes, just raised from the pages of the
book of God, had looked upon the bare shoulders
and white throat of a woman. With his brain in a
whirl he went down into the pulpit and preached a
long sermon without once thinking of his gestures
or his voice. The sermon attracted unusual attention
because of its power and clearness. "I wonder if she
is listening, if my voice is carrying a message into
her soul," he thought and began to hope that on
future Sunday mornings he might be able to say
words that would touch and awaken the woman
apparently far gone in secret sin.

The house next door to the Presbyterian Church,
through the windows of which the minister had seen
the sight that had so upset him, was occupied by
two women. Aunt Elizabeth Swift, a grey competent-
looking widow with money in the Winesburg Na-
tional Bank, lived there with her daughter Kate
Swift, a school teacher. The school teacher was
thirty years old and had a neat trim-looking figure.
She had few friends and bore a reputation of having
a sharp tongue. When he began to think about her,
Curtis Hartman remembered that she had been to
Europe and had lived for two years in New York
City. "Perhaps after all her smoking means noth-
ing," he thought. He began to remember that when
he was a student in college and occasionally read
novels, good although somewhat worldly women,
had smoked through the pages of a book that had
once fallen into his hands. With a rush of new deter-
mination he worked on his sermons all through the
week and forgot, in his zeal to reach the ears and the
soul of this new listener, both his embarrassment in
the pulpit and the necessity of prayer in the study
on Sunday mornings.

Reverend Hartman's experience with women had
been somewhat limited. He was the son of a wagon
maker from Muncie, Indiana, and had worked his
way through college. The daughter of the under-
wear manufacturer had boarded in a house where
he lived during his school days and he had married
her after a formal and prolonged courtship, carried
on for the most part by the girl herself. On his mar-
riage day the underwear manufacturer had given his
daughter five thousand dollars and he promised to
leave her at least twice that amount in his will. The
minister had thought himself fortunate in marriage
and had never permitted himself to think of other
women. He did not want to think of other women.
What he wanted was to do the work of God quietly
and earnestly.

In the soul of the minister a struggle awoke. From
wanting to reach the ears of Kate Swift, and through
his sermons to delve into her soul, he began to want
also to look again at the figure lying white and quiet
in the bed. On a Sunday morning when he could
not sleep because of his thoughts he arose and went
to walk in the streets. When he had gone along
Main Street almost to the old Richmond place he
stopped and picking up a stone rushed off to the
room in the bell tower. With the stone he broke out
a corner of the window and then locked the door
and sat down at the desk before the open Bible to
wait. When the shade of the window to Kate Swift's
room was raised he could see, through the hole,
directly into her bed, but she was not there. She
also had arisen and had gone for a walk and the
hand that raised the shade was the hand of Aunt
Elizabeth Swift.

The minister almost wept with joy at this deliver-
ance from the carnal desire to "peep" and went back
to his own house praising God. In an ill moment he
forgot, however, to stop the hole in the window.
The piece of glass broken out at the corner of the
window just nipped off the bare heel of the boy
standing motionless and looking with rapt eyes into
the face of the Christ.

Curtis Hartman forgot his sermon on that Sunday
morning. He talked to his congregation and in his
talk said that it was a mistake for people to think of
their minister as a man set aside and intended by
nature to lead a blameless life. "Out of my own
experience I know that we, who are the ministers of
God's word, are beset by the same temptations that
assail you," he declared. "I have been tempted and
have surrendered to temptation. It is only the hand
of God, placed beneath my head, that has raised me
up. As he has raised me so also will he raise you.
Do not despair. In your hour of sin raise your eyes
to the skies and you will be again and again saved."

Resolutely the minister put the thoughts of the
woman in the bed out of his mind and began to be
something like a lover in the presence of his wife.
One evening when they drove out together he
turned the horse out of Buckeye Street and in the
darkness on Gospel Hill, above Waterworks Pond,
put his arm about Sarah Hartman's waist. When he
had eaten breakfast in the morning and was ready
to retire to his study at the back of his house he
went around the table and kissed his wife on the
cheek. When thoughts of Kate Swift came into his
head, he smiled and raised his eyes to the skies.
"Intercede for me, Master," he muttered, "keep me
in the narrow path intent on Thy work."

And now began the real struggle in the soul of
the brown-bearded minister. By chance he discov-
ered that Kate Swift was in the habit of lying in her
bed in the evenings and reading a book. A lamp
stood on a table by the side of the bed and the light
streamed down upon her white shoulders and bare
throat. On the evening when he made the discovery
the minister sat at the desk in the dusty room from
nine until after eleven and when her light was put
out stumbled out of the church to spend two more
hours walking and praying in the streets. He did
not want to kiss the shoulders and the throat of Kate
Swift and had not allowed his mind to dwell on
such thoughts. He did not know what he wanted.
"I am God's child and he must save me from my-
self," he cried, in the darkness under the trees as
he wandered in the streets. By a tree he stood and
looked at the sky that was covered with hurrying
clouds. He began to talk to God intimately and
closely. "Please, Father, do not forget me. Give me
power to go tomorrow and repair the hole in the
window. Lift my eyes again to the skies. Stay with
me, Thy servant, in his hour of need."

Up and down through the silent streets walked
the minister and for days and weeks his soul was
troubled. He could not understand the temptation
that had come to him nor could he fathom the rea-
son for its coming. In a way he began to blame God,
saying to himself that he had tried to keep his feet
in the true path and had not run about seeking sin.
"Through my days as a young man and all through
my life here I have gone quietly about my work,"
he declared. "Why now should I be tempted? What
have I done that this burden should be laid on me?"

Three times during the early fall and winter of
that year Curtis Hartman crept out of his house to
the room in the bell tower to sit in the darkness
looking at the figure of Kate Swift lying in her bed
and later went to walk and pray in the streets. He
could not understand himself. For weeks he would
go along scarcely thinking of the school teacher and
telling himself that he had conquered the carnal de-
sire to look at her body. And then something would
happen. As he sat in the study of his own house,
hard at work on a sermon, he would become ner-
vous and begin to walk up and down the room. "I
will go out into the streets," he told himself and
even as he let himself in at the church door he per-
sistently denied to himself the cause of his being
there. "I will not repair the hole in the window and
I will train myself to come here at night and sit in
the presence of this woman without raising my eyes.
I will not be defeated in this thing. The Lord has
devised this temptation as a test of my soul and I
will grope my way out of darkness into the light of

One night in January when it was bitter cold and
snow lay deep on the streets of Winesburg Curtis
Hartman paid his last visit to the room in the bell
tower of the church. It was past nine o'clock when
he left his own house and he set out so hurriedly
that he forgot to put on his overshoes. In Main
Street no one was abroad but Hop Higgins the night
watchman and in the whole town no one was awake
but the watchman and young George Willard, who
sat in the office of the Winesburg Eagle trying to write
a story. Along the street to the church went the
minister, plowing through the drifts and thinking
that this time he would utterly give way to sin. "I
want to look at the woman and to think of kissing
her shoulders and I am going to let myself think
what I choose," he declared bitterly and tears came
into his eyes. He began to think that he would get
out of the ministry and try some other way of life.
"I shall go to some city and get into business," he
declared. "If my nature is such that I cannot resist
sin, I shall give myself over to sin. At least I shall
not be a hypocrite, preaching the word of God with
my mind thinking of the shoulders and neck of a
woman who does not belong to me."

It was cold in the room of the bell tower of the
church on that January night and almost as soon as
he came into the room Curtis Hartman knew that if
he stayed he would be ill. His feet were wet from
tramping in the snow and there was no fire. In the
room in the house next door Kate Swift had not
yet appeared. With grim determination the man sat
down to wait. Sitting in the chair and gripping the
edge of the desk on which lay the Bible he stared
into the darkness thinking the blackest thoughts of
his life. He thought of his wife and for the moment
almost hated her. "She has always been ashamed of
passion and has cheated me," he thought. "Man has
a right to expect living passion and beauty in a
woman. He has no right to forget that he is an ani-
mal and in me there is something that is Greek. I
will throw off the woman of my bosom and seek
other women. I will besiege this school teacher. I
will fly in the face of all men and if I am a creature
of carnal lusts I will live then for my lusts."

The distracted man trembled from head to foot,
partly from cold, partly from the struggle in which
he was engaged. Hours passed and a fever assailed
his body. His throat began to hurt and his teeth
chattered. His feet on the study floor felt like two
cakes of ice. Still he would not give up. "I will see
this woman and will think the thoughts I have never
dared to think," he told himself, gripping the edge
of the desk and waiting.

Curtis Hartman came near dying from the effects
of that night of waiting in the church, and also he
found in the thing that happened what he took to
be the way of life for him. On other evenings when
he had waited he had not been able to see, through
the little hole in the glass, any part of the school
teacher's room except that occupied by her bed. In
the darkness he had waited until the woman sud-
denly appeared sitting in the bed in her white night-
robe. When the light was turned up she propped
herself up among the' pillows and read a book.
Sometimes she smoked one of the cigarettes. Only
her bare shoulders and throat were visible.

On the January night, after he had come near
dying with cold and after his mind had two or three
times actually slipped away into an odd land of fan-
tasy so that he had by an exercise of will power
to force himself back into consciousness, Kate Swift
appeared. In the room next door a lamp was lighted
and the waiting man stared into an empty bed. Then
upon the bed before his eyes a naked woman threw
herself. Lying face downward she wept and beat
with her fists upon the pillow. With a final outburst
of weeping she half arose, and in the presence of
the man who had waited to look and not to think
thoughts the woman of sin began to pray. In the
lamplight her figure, slim and strong, looked like
the figure of the boy in the presence of the Christ
on the leaded window.

Curtis Hartman never remembered how he got
out of the church. With a cry he arose, dragging the
heavy desk along the floor. The Bible fell, making a
great clatter in the silence. When the light in the
house next door went out he stumbled down the
stairway and into the street. Along the street he
went and ran in at the door of the Winesburg Eagle.
To George Willard, who was tramping up and down
in the office undergoing a struggle of his own, he
began to talk half incoherently. "The ways of God
are beyond human understanding," he cried, run-
ning in quickly and closing the door. He began to
advance upon the young man, his eyes glowing and
his voice ringing with fervor. "I have found the
light," he cried. "After ten years in this town, God
has manifested himself to me in the body of a
woman." His voice dropped and he began to whis-
per. "I did not understand," he said. "What I took
to be a trial of my soul was only a preparation for
a new and more beautiful fervor of the spirit. God
has appeared to me in the person of Kate Swift, the
school teacher, kneeling naked on a bed. Do you
know Kate Swift? Although she may not be aware
of it, she is an instrument of God, bearing the mes-
sage of truth."

Reverend Curtis Hartman turned and ran out of
the office. At the door he stopped, and after looking
up and down the deserted street, turned again to
George Willard. "I am delivered. Have no fear." He
held up a bleeding fist for the young man to see. "I
smashed the glass of the window," he cried. "Now
it will have to be wholly replaced. The strength of
God was in me and I broke it with my fist."


SNOW LAY DEEP in the streets of Winesburg. It had
begun to snow about ten o'clock in the morning and
a wind sprang up and blew the snow in clouds
along Main Street. The frozen mud roads that led
into town were fairly smooth and in places ice cov-
ered the mud. "There will be good sleighing," said
Will Henderson, standing by the bar in Ed Griffith's
saloon. Out of the saloon he went and met Sylvester
West the druggist stumbling along in the kind of
heavy overshoes called arctics. "Snow will bring the
people into town on Saturday," said the druggist.
The two men stopped and discussed their affairs.
Will Henderson, who had on a light overcoat and
no overshoes, kicked the heel of his left foot with
the toe of the right. "Snow will be good for the
wheat," observed the druggist sagely.

Young George Willard, who had nothing to do,
was glad because he did not feel like working that
day. The weekly paper had been printed and taken
to the post office Wednesday evening and the snow
began to fall on Thursday. At eight o'clock, after the
morning train had passed, he put a pair of skates in
his pocket and went up to Waterworks Pond but did
not go skating. Past the pond and along a path that
followed Wine Creek he went until he came to a
grove of beech trees. There he built a fire against
the side of a log and sat down at the end of the log
to think. When the snow began to fall and the wind
to blow he hurried about getting fuel for the fire.

The young reporter was thinking of Kate Swift,
who had once been his school teacher. On the eve-
ning before he had gone to her house to get a book
she wanted him to read and had been alone with
her for an hour. For the fourth or fifth time the
woman had talked to him with great earnestness
and he could not make out what she meant by her
talk. He began to believe she must be in love with
him and the thought was both pleasing and annoying.

Up from the log he sprang and began to pile sticks
on the fire. Looking about to be sure he was alone
he talked aloud pretending he was in the presence
of the woman, "Oh,, you're just letting on, you
know you are," he declared. "I am going to find out
about you. You wait and see."

The young man got up and went back along the
path toward town leaving the fire blazing in the
wood. As he went through the streets the skates
clanked in his pocket. In his own room in the New
Willard House he built a fire in the stove and lay
down on top of the bed. He began to have lustful
thoughts and pulling down the shade of the window
closed his eyes and turned his face to the wall. He
took a pillow into his arms and embraced it thinking
first of the school teacher, who by her words had
stirred something within him, and later of Helen
White, the slim daughter of the town banker, with
whom he had been for a long time half in love.

By nine o'clock of that evening snow lay deep in
the streets and the weather had become bitter cold.
It was difficult to walk about. The stores were dark
and the people had crawled away to their houses.
The evening train from Cleveland was very late but
nobody was interested in its arrival. By ten o'clock
all but four of the eighteen hundred citizens of the
town were in bed.

Hop Higgins, the night watchman, was partially
awake. He was lame and carried a heavy stick. On
dark nights he carried a lantern. Between nine and
ten o'clock he went his rounds. Up and down Main
Street he stumbled through the drifts trying the
doors of the stores. Then he went into alleyways
and tried the back doors. Finding all tight he hurried
around the corner to the New Willard House and
beat on the door. Through the rest of the night he
intended to stay by the stove. "You go to bed. I'll
keep the stove going," he said to the boy who slept
on a cot in the hotel office.

Hop Higgins sat down by the stove and took off
his shoes. When the boy had gone to sleep he began
to think of his own affairs. He intended to paint his
house in the spring and sat by the stove calculating
the cost of paint and labor. That led him into other
calculations. The night watchman was sixty years
old and wanted to retire. He had been a soldier in
the Civil War and drew a small pension. He hoped
to find some new method of making a living and
aspired to become a professional breeder of ferrets.
Already he had four of the strangely shaped savage
little creatures, that are used by sportsmen in the
pursuit of rabbits, in the cellar of his house. "Now
I have one male and three females," he mused. "If
I am lucky by spring I shall have twelve or fifteen.
In another year I shall be able to begin advertising
ferrets for sale in the sporting papers."

The nightwatchman settled into his chair and his
mind became a blank. He did not sleep. By years of
practice he had trained himself to sit for hours
through the long nights neither asleep nor awake.
In the morning he was almost as refreshed as
though he had slept.

With Hop Higgins safely stowed away in the chair
behind the stove only three people were awake in
Winesburg. George Willard was in the office of the
Eagle pretending to be at work on the writing of a
story but in reality continuing the mood of the
morning by the fire in the wood. In the bell tower
of the Presbyterian Church the Reverend Curtis
Hartman was sitting in the darkness preparing him-
self for a revelation from God, and Kate Swift, the
school teacher, was leaving her house for a walk in
the storm.

It was past ten o'clock when Kate Swift set out
and the walk was unpremeditated. It was as though
the man and the boy, by thinking of her, had driven
her forth into the wintry streets. Aunt Elizabeth
Swift had gone to the county seat concerning some
business in connection with mortgages in which she
had money invested and would not be back until
the next day. By a huge stove, called a base burner,
in the living room of the house sat the daughter
reading a book. Suddenly she sprang to her feet
and, snatching a cloak from a rack by the front door,
ran out of the house.

At the age of thirty Kate Swift was not known in
Winesburg as a pretty woman. Her complexion was
not good and her face was covered with blotches
that indicated ill health. Alone in the night in the
winter streets she was lovely. Her back was straight,
her shoulders square, and her features were as the
features of a tiny goddess on a pedestal in a garden
in the dim light of a summer evening.

During the afternoon the school teacher had been
to see Doctor Welling concerning her health. The
doctor had scolded her and had declared she was in
danger of losing her hearing. It was foolish for Kate
Swift to be abroad in the storm, foolish and perhaps

The woman in the streets did not remember the
words of the doctor and would not have turned back
had she remembered. She was very cold but after
walking for five minutes no longer minded the cold.
First she went to the end of her own street and then
across a pair of hay scales set in the ground before
a feed barn and into Trunion Pike. Along Trunion
Pike she went to Ned Winters' barn and turning east
followed a street of low frame houses that led over
Gospel Hill and into Sucker Road that ran down
a shallow valley past Ike Smead's chicken farm to
Waterworks Pond. As she went along, the bold, ex-
cited mood that had driven her out of doors passed
and then returned again.

There was something biting and forbidding in the
character of Kate Swift. Everyone felt it. In the
schoolroom she was silent, cold, and stern, and yet
in an odd way very close to her pupils. Once in a
long while something seemed to have come over
her and she was happy. All of the children in the
schoolroom felt the effect of her happiness. For a
time they did not work but sat back in their chairs
and looked at her.

With hands clasped behind her back the school
teacher walked up and down in the schoolroom and
talked very rapidly. It did not seem to matter what
subject came into her mind. Once she talked to the
children of Charles Lamb and made up strange, inti-
mate little stories concerning the life of the dead
writer. The stories were told with the air of one who
had lived in a house with Charles Lamb and knew
all the secrets of his private life. The children were
somewhat confused, thinking Charles Lamb must be
someone who had once lived in Winesburg.

On another occasion the teacher talked to the chil-
dren of Benvenuto Cellini. That time they laughed.
What a bragging, blustering, brave, lovable fellow
she made of the old artist! Concerning him also she
invented anecdotes. There was one of a German
music teacher who had a room above Cellini's lodg-
ings in the city of Milan that made the boys guffaw.
Sugars McNutts, a fat boy with red cheeks, laughed
so hard that he became dizzy and fell off his seat
and Kate Swift laughed with him. Then suddenly
she became again cold and stern.

On the winter night when she walked through
the deserted snow-covered streets, a crisis had come
into the life of the school teacher. Although no one
in Winesburg would have suspected it, her life had
been very adventurous. It was still adventurous.
Day by day as she worked in the schoolroom or
walked in the streets, grief, hope, and desire fought
within her. Behind a cold exterior the most extraor-
dinary events transpired in her mind. The people of
the town thought of her as a confirmed old maid
and because she spoke sharply and went her own
way thought her lacking in all the human feeling
that did so much to make and mar their own lives.
In reality she was the most eagerly passionate soul
among them, and more than once, in the five years
since she had come back from her travels to settle in
Winesburg and become a school teacher, had been
compelled to go out of the house and walk half
through the night fighting out some battle raging
within. Once on a night when it rained she had
stayed out six hours and when she came home had
a quarrel with Aunt Elizabeth Swift. "I am glad
you're not a man," said the mother sharply. "More
than once I've waited for your father to come home,
not knowing what new mess he had got into. I've
had my share of uncertainty and you cannot blame
me if I do not want to see the worst side of him
reproduced in you."

Kate Swift's mind was ablaze with thoughts of
George Willard. In something he had written as a
school boy she thought she had recognized the
spark of genius and wanted to blow on the spark.
One day in the summer she had gone to the Eagle
office and finding the boy unoccupied had taken
him out Main Street to the Fair Ground, where the
two sat on a grassy bank and talked. The school
teacher tried to bring home to the mind of the boy
some conception of the difficulties he would have to
face as a writer. "You will have to know life," she
declared, and her voice trembled with earnestness.
She took hold of George Willard's shoulders and
turned him about so that she could look into his
eyes. A passer-by might have thought them about
to embrace. "If you are to become a writer you'll
have to stop fooling with words," she explained. "It
would be better to give up the notion of writing
until you are better prepared. Now it's time to be
living. I don't want to frighten you, but I would like
to make you understand the import of what you
think of attempting. You must not become a mere
peddler of words. The thing to learn is to know
what people are thinking about, not what they say."

On the evening before that stormy Thursday night
when the Reverend Curtis Hartman sat in the bell
tower of the church waiting to look at her body,
young Willard had gone to visit the teacher and to
borrow a book. It was then the thing happened that
confused and puzzled the boy. He had the book
under his arm and was preparing to depart. Again
Kate Swift talked with great earnestness. Night was
coming on and the light in the room grew dim. As
he turned to go she spoke his name softly and with
an impulsive movement took hold of his hand. Be-
cause the reporter was rapidly becoming a man
something of his man's appeal, combined with the
winsomeness of the boy, stirred the heart of the
lonely woman. A passionate desire to have him un-
derstand the import of life, to learn to interpret it
truly and honestly, swept over her. Leaning for-
ward, her lips brushed his cheek. At the same mo-
ment he for the first time became aware of the
marked beauty of her features. They were both em-
barrassed, and to relieve her feeling she became
harsh and domineering. "What's the use? It will be
ten years before you begin to understand what I
mean when I talk to you," she cried passionately.

On the night of the storm and while the minister
sat in the church waiting for her, Kate Swift went to
the office of the Winesburg Eagle, intending to have
another talk with the boy. After the long walk in the
snow she was cold, lonely, and tired. As she came
through Main Street she saw the fight from the
printshop window shining on the snow and on an
impulse opened the door and went in. For an hour
she sat by the stove in the office talking of life. She
talked with passionate earnestness. The impulse that
had driven her out into the snow poured itself out
into talk. She became inspired as she sometimes did
in the presence of the children in school. A great
eagerness to open the door of life to the boy, who
had been her pupil and who she thought might pos-
sess a talent for the understanding of life, had pos-
session of her. So strong was her passion that it
became something physical. Again her hands took
hold of his shoulders and she turned him about. In
the dim light her eyes blazed. She arose and
laughed, not sharply as was customary with her, but
in a queer, hesitating way. "I must be going," she
said. "In a moment, if I stay, I'll be wanting to kiss

In the newspaper office a confusion arose. Kate
Swift turned and walked to the door. She was a
teacher but she was also a woman. As she looked
at George Willard, the passionate desire to be loved
by a man, that had a thousand times before swept
like a storm over her body, took possession of her.
In the lamplight George Willard looked no longer a
boy, but a man ready to play the part of a man.

The school teacher let George Willard take her into
his arms. In the warm little office the air became
suddenly heavy and the strength went out of her
body. Leaning against a low counter by the door she
waited. When he came and put a hand on her shoul-
der she turned and let her body fall heavily against
him. For George Willard the confusion was immedi-
ately increased. For a moment he held the body of
the woman tightly against his body and then it stiff-
ened. Two sharp little fists began to beat on his face.
When the school teacher had run away and left him
alone, he walked up and down the office swearing

It was into this confusion that the Reverend Curtis
Hartman protruded himself. When he came in
George Willard thought the town had gone mad.
Shaking a bleeding fist in the air, the minister pro-
claimed the woman George had only a moment be-
fore held in his arms an instrument of God bearing
a message of truth.

George blew out the lamp by the window and
locking the door of the printshop went home.
Through the hotel office, past Hop Higgins lost in
his dream of the raising of ferrets, he went and up
into his own room. The fire in the stove had gone
out and he undressed in the cold. When he got into
bed the sheets were like blankets of dry snow.

George Willard rolled about in the bed on which
had lain in the afternoon hugging the pillow and
thinking thoughts of Kate Swift. The words of the
minister, who he thought had gone suddenly in-
sane, rang in his ears. His eyes stared about the
room. The resentment, natural to the baffled male,
passed and he tried to understand what had hap-
pened. He could not make it out. Over and over he
turned the matter in his mind. Hours passed and he
began to think it must be time for another day to
come. At four o'clock he pulled the covers up about
his neck and tried to sleep. When he became drowsy
and closed his eyes, he raised a hand and with it

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest