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groped about in the darkness. “I have missed some- thing. I have missed something Kate Swift was try- ing to tell me,” he muttered sleepily. Then he slept and in all Winesburg he was the last soul on that winter night to go to sleep.

LONELINESS

HE WAS THE son of Mrs. Al Robinson who once owned a farm on a side road leading off Trunion Pike, east of Winesburg and two miles beyond the town limits. The farmhouse was painted brown and the blinds to all of the windows facing the road were kept closed. In the road before the house a flock of chickens, accompanied by two guinea hens, lay in the deep dust. Enoch lived in the house with his mother in those days and when he was a young boy went to school at the Winesburg High School. Old citizens remembered him as a quiet, smiling youth inclined to silence. He walked in the middle of the road when he came into town and sometimes read a book. Drivers of teams had to shout and swear to make him realize where he was so that he would turn out of the beaten track and let them pass.

When he was twenty-one years old Enoch went to New York City and was a city man for fifteen years. He studied French and went to an art school, hoping to develop a faculty he had for drawing. In his own mind he planned to go to Paris and to finish his art education among the masters there, but that never turned out.

Nothing ever turned out for Enoch Robinson. He could draw well enough and he had many odd deli- cate thoughts hidden away in his brain that might have expressed themselves through the brush of a painter, but he was always a child and that was a handicap to his worldly development. He never grew up and of course he couldn’t understand peo- ple and he couldn’t make people understand him. The child in him kept bumping against things, against actualities like money and sex and opinions. Once he was hit by a street car and thrown against an iron post. That made him lame. It was one of the many things that kept things from turning out for Enoch Robinson

In New York City, when he first went there to live and before he became confused and disconcerted by the facts of life, Enoch went about a good deal with young men. He got into a group of other young artists, both men and women, and in the evenings they sometimes came to visit him in his room. Once he got drunk and was taken to a police station where a police magistrate frightened him horribly, and once he tried to have an affair with a woman of the town met on the sidewalk before his lodging house. The woman and Enoch walked together three blocks and then the young man grew afraid and ran away. The woman had been drinking and the incident amused her. She leaned against the wall of a building and laughed so heartily that another man stopped and laughed with her. The two went away together, still laughing, and Enoch crept off to his room trembling and vexed.

The room in which young Robinson lived in New York faced Washington Square and was long and narrow like a hallway. It is important to get that fixed in your mind. The story of Enoch is in fact the story of a room almost more than it is the story of a man.

And so into the room in the evening came young Enoch’s friends. There was nothing particularly striking about them except that they were artists of the kind that talk. Everyone knows of the talking artists. Throughout all of the known history of the world they have gathered in rooms and talked. They talk of art and are passionately, almost feverishly, in earnest about it. They think it matters much more than it does.

And so these people gathered and smoked ciga- rettes and talked and Enoch Robinson, the boy from the farm near Winesburg, was there. He stayed in a corner and for the most part said nothing. How his big blue childlike eyes stared about! On the walls were pictures he had made, crude things, half fin- ished. His friends talked of these. Leaning back in their chairs, they talked and talked with their heads rocking from side to side. Words were said about line and values and composition, lots of words, such as are always being said.

Enoch wanted to talk too but he didn’t know how. He was too excited to talk coherently. When he tried he sputtered and stammered and his voice sounded strange and squeaky to him. That made him stop talking. He knew what he wanted to say, but he knew also that he could never by any possibility say it. When a picture he had painted was under discussion, he wanted to burst out with something like this: “You don’t get the point,” he wanted to explain; “the picture you see doesn’t consist of the things you see and say words about. There is some- thing else, something you don’t see at all, something you aren’t intended to see. Look at this one over here, by the door here, where the light from the window falls on it. The dark spot by the road that you might not notice at all is, you see, the beginning of everything. There is a clump of elders there such as used to grow beside the road before our house back in Winesburg, Ohio, and in among the elders there is something hidden. It is a woman, that’s what it is. She has been thrown from a horse and the horse has run away out of sight. Do you not see how the old man who drives a cart looks anxiously about? That is Thad Grayback who has a farm up the road. He is taking corn to Winesburg to be ground into meal at Comstock’s mill. He knows there is something in the elders, something hidden away, and yet he doesn’t quite know.

“It’s a woman you see, that’s what it is! It’s a woman and, oh, she is lovely! She is hurt and is suffering but she makes no sound. Don’t you see how it is? She lies quite still, white and still, and the beauty comes out from her and spreads over everything. It is in the sky back there and all around everywhere. I didn’t try to paint the woman, of course. She is too beautiful to be painted. How dull to talk of composition and such things! Why do you not look at the sky and then run away as I used to do when I was a boy back there in Winesburg, Ohio?”

That is the kind of thing young Enoch Robinson trembled to say to the guests who came into his room when he was a young fellow in New York City, but he always ended by saying nothing. Then he began to doubt his own mind. He was afraid the things he felt were not getting expressed in the pictures he painted. In a half indignant mood he stopped inviting people into his room and presently got into the habit of locking the door. He began to think that enough people had visited him, that he did not need people any more. With quick imagina- tion he began to invent his own people to whom he could really talk and to whom he explained the things he had been unable to explain to living peo- ple. His room began to be inhabited by the spirits of men and women among whom he went, in his turn saying words. It was as though everyone Enoch Robinson had ever seen had left with him some es- sence of himself, something he could mould and change to suit his own fancy, something that under- stood all about such things as the wounded woman behind the elders in the pictures.

The mild, blue-eyed young Ohio boy was a com- plete egotist, as all children are egotists. He did not want friends for the quite simple reason that no child wants friends. He wanted most of all the peo- ple of his own mind, people with whom he could really talk, people he could harangue and scold by the hour, servants, you see, to his fancy. Among these people he was always self-confident and bold. They might talk, to be sure, and even have opinions of their own, but always he talked last and best. He was like a writer busy among the figures of his brain, a kind of tiny blue-eyed king he was, in a six- dollar room facing Washington Square in the city of New York.

Then Enoch Robinson got married. He began to get lonely and to want to touch actual flesh-and- bone people with his hands. Days passed when his room seemed empty. Lust visited his body and de- sire grew in his mind. At night strange fevers, burn- ing within, kept him awake. He married a girl who sat in a chair next to his own in the art school and went to live in an apartment house in Brooklyn. Two children were born to the woman he married, and Enoch got a job in a place where illustrations are made for advertisements.

That began another phase of Enoch’s life. He began to play at a new game. For a while he was very proud of himself in the role of producing citi- zen of the world. He dismissed the essence of things and played with realities. In the fall he voted at an election and he had a newspaper thrown on his porch each morning. When in the evening he came home from work he got off a streetcar and walked sedately along behind some business man, striving to look very substantial and important. As a payer of taxes he thought he should post himself on how things are run. “I’m getting to be of some moment, a real part of things, of the state and the city and all that,” he told himself with an amusing miniature air of dignity. Once, coming home from Philadel- phia, he had a discussion with a man met on a train. Enoch talked about the advisability of the govern- ment’s owning and operating the railroads and the man gave him a cigar. It was Enoch’s notion that such a move on the part of the government would be a good thing, and he grew quite excited as he talked. Later he remembered his own words with pleasure. “I gave him something to think about, that fellow,” he muttered to himself as he climbed the stairs to his Brooklyn apartment.

To be sure, Enoch’s marriage did not turn out. He himself brought it to an end. He began to feel choked and walled in by the life in the apartment, and to feel toward his wife and even toward his children as he had felt concerning the friends who once came to visit him. He began to tell little lies about business engagements that would give him freedom to walk alone in the street at night and, the chance offering, he secretly re-rented the room fac- ing Washington Square. Then Mrs. Al Robinson died on the farm near Winesburg, and he got eight thousand dollars from the bank that acted as trustee of her estate. That took Enoch out of the world of men altogether. He gave the money to his wife and told her he could not live in the apartment any more. She cried and was angry and threatened, but he only stared at her and went his own way. In reality the wife did not care much. She thought Enoch slightly insane and was a little afraid of him. When it was quite sure that he would never come back, she took the two children and went to a village in Connecticut where she had lived as a girl. In the end she married a man who bought and sold real estate and was contented enough.

And so Enoch Robinson stayed in the New York room among the people of his fancy, playing with them, talking to them, happy as a child is happy. They were an odd lot, Enoch’s people. They were made, I suppose, out of real people he had seen and who had for some obscure reason made an appeal to him. There was a woman with a sword in her hand, an old man with a long white beard who went about followed by a dog, a young girl whose stock- ings were always coming down and hanging over her shoe tops. There must have been two dozen of the shadow people, invented by the child-mind of Enoch Robinson, who lived in the room with him.

And Enoch was happy. Into the room he went and locked the door. With an absurd air of impor- tance he talked aloud, giving instructions, making comments on life. He was happy and satisfied to go on making his living in the advertising place until something happened. Of course something did hap- pen. That is why he went back to live in Winesburg and why we know about him. The thing that hap- pened was a woman. It would be that way. He was too happy. Something had to come into his world. Something had to drive him out of the New York room to live out his life an obscure, jerky little fig- ure, bobbing up and down on the streets of an Ohio town at evening when the sun was going down be- hind the roof of Wesley Moyer’s livery barn.

About the thing that happened. Enoch told George Willard about it one night. He wanted to talk to someone, and he chose the young newspaper re- porter because the two happened to be thrown to- gether at a time when the younger man was in a mood to understand.

Youthful sadness, young man’s sadness, the sad- ness of a growing boy in a village at the year’s end, opened the lips of the old man. The sadness was in the heart of George Willard and was without mean- ing, but it appealed to Enoch Robinson.

It rained on the evening when the two met and talked, a drizzly wet October rain. The fruition of the year had come and the night should have been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the air, but it wasn’t that way. It rained and little puddles of water shone under the street lamps on Main Street. In the woods in the darkness beyond the Fair Ground water dripped from the black trees. Beneath the trees wet leaves were pasted against tree roots that protruded from the ground. In gardens back of houses in Winesburg dry shriveled potato vines lay sprawling on the ground. Men who had finished the evening meal and who had planned to go uptown to talk the eve- ning away with other men at the back of some store changed their minds. George Willard tramped about in the rain and was glad that it rained. He felt that way. He was like Enoch Robinson on the evenings when the old man came down out of his room and wandered alone in the streets. He was like that only that George Willard had become a tall young man and did not think it manly to weep and carry on. For a month his mother had been very ill and that had something to do with his sadness, but not much. He thought about himself and to the young that always brings sadness.

Enoch Robinson and George Willard met beneath a wooden awning that extended out over the side- walk before Voight’s wagon shop on Maumee Street just off the main street of Winesburg. They went together from there through the rain-washed streets to the older man’s room on the third floor of the Heffner Block. The young reporter went willingly enough. Enoch Robinson asked him to go after the two had talked for ten minutes. The boy was a little afraid but had never been more curious in his life. A hundred times he had heard the old man spoken of as a little off his head and he thought himself rather brave and manly to go at all. From the very beginning, in the street in the rain, the old man talked in a queer way, trying to tell the story of the room in Washington Square and of his life in the room. “You’ll understand if you try hard enough,” he said conclusively. “I have looked at you when you went past me on the street and I think you can understand. It isn’t hard. All you have to do is to believe what I say, just listen and believe, that’s all there is to it.”

It was past eleven o’clock that evening when old Enoch, talking to George Willard in the room in the Heffner Block, came to the vital thing, the story of the woman and of what drove him out of the city to live out his life alone and defeated in Winesburg. He sat on a cot by the window with his head in his hand and George Willard was in a chair by a table. A kerosene lamp sat on the table and the room, although almost bare of furniture, was scrupulously clean. As the man talked George Willard began to feel that he would like to get out of the chair and sit on the cot also. He wanted to put his arms about the little old man. In the half darkness the man talked and the boy listened, filled with sadness.

“She got to coming in there after there hadn’t been anyone in the room for years,” said Enoch Robinson. “She saw me in the hallway of the house and we got acquainted. I don’t know just what she did in her own room. I never went there. I think she was a musician and played a violin. Every now and then she came and knocked at the door and I opened it. In she came and sat down beside me, just sat and looked about and said nothing. Anyway, she said nothing that mattered.”

The old man arose from the cot and moved about the room. The overcoat he wore was wet from the rain and drops of water kept falling with a soft thump on the floor. When he again sat upon the cot George Willard got out of the chair and sat beside him.

“I had a feeling about her. She sat there in the room with me and she was too big for the room. I felt that she was driving everything else away. We just talked of little things, but I couldn’t sit still. I wanted to touch her with my fingers and to kiss her. Her hands were so strong and her face was so good and she looked at me all the time.”

The trembling voice of the old man became silent and his body shook as from a chill. “I was afraid,” he whispered. “I was terribly afraid. I didn’t want to let her come in when she knocked at the door but I couldn’t sit still. ‘No, no,’ I said to myself, but I got up and opened the door just the same. She was so grown up, you see. She was a woman. I thought she would be bigger than I was there in that room.”

Enoch Robinson stared at George Willard, his childlike blue eyes shining in the lamplight. Again he shivered. “I wanted her and all the time I didn’t want her,” he explained. “Then I began to tell her about my people, about everything that meant any- thing to me. I tried to keep quiet, to keep myself to myself, but I couldn’t. I felt just as I did about open- ing the door. Sometimes I ached to have her go away and never come back any more.”

The old man sprang to his feet and his voice shook with excitement. “One night something hap- pened. I became mad to make her understand me and to know what a big thing I was in that room. I wanted her to see how important I was. I told her over and over. When she tried to go away, I ran and locked the door. I followed her about. I talked and talked and then all of a sudden things went to smash. A look came into her eyes and I knew she did understand. Maybe she had understood all the time. I was furious. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted her to understand but, don’t you see, I couldn’t let her understand. I felt that then she would know every- thing, that I would be submerged, drowned out, you see. That’s how it is. I don’t know why.”

The old man dropped into a chair by the lamp and the boy listened, filled with awe. “Go away, boy,” said the man. “Don’t stay here with me any more. I thought it might be a good thing to tell you but it isn’t. I don’t want to talk any more. Go away.”

George Willard shook his head and a note of com- mand came into his voice. “Don’t stop now. Tell me the rest of it,” he commanded sharply. “What happened? Tell me the rest of the story.”

Enoch Robinson sprang to his feet and ran to the window that looked down into the deserted main street of Winesburg. George Willard followed. By the window the two stood, the tall awkward boy- man and the little wrinkled man-boy. The childish, eager voice carried forward the tale. “I swore at her,” he explained. “I said vile words. I ordered her to go away and not to come back. Oh, I said terrible things. At first she pretended not to understand but I kept at it. I screamed and stamped on the floor. I made the house ring with my curses. I didn’t want ever to see her again and I knew, after some of the things I said, that I never would see her again.”

The old man’s voice broke and he shook his head. “Things went to smash,” he said quietly and sadly. “Out she went through the door and all the life there had been in the room followed her out. She took all of my people away. They all went out through the door after her. That’s the way it was.”

George Willard turned and went out of Enoch Robinson’s room. In the darkness by the window, as he went through the door, he could hear the thin old voice whimpering and complaining. “I’m alone, all alone here,” said the voice. “It was warm and friendly in my room but now I’m all alone.”

AN AWAKENING

BELLE CARPENTER had a dark skin, grey eyes, and thick lips. She was tall and strong. When black thoughts visited her she grew angry and wished she were a man and could fight someone with her fists. She worked in the millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate McHugh and during the day sat trimming hats by a window at the rear of the store. She was the daugh- ter of Henry Carpenter, bookkeeper in the First Na- tional Bank of Winesburg, and lived with him in a gloomy old house far out at the end of Buckeye Street. The house was surrounded by pine trees and there was no grass beneath the trees. A rusty tin eaves-trough had slipped from its fastenings at the back of the house and when the wind blew it beat against the roof of a small shed, making a dismal drumming noise that sometimes persisted all through the night.

When she was a young girl Henry Carpenter made life almost unbearable for Belle, but as she emerged from girlhood into womanhood he lost his power over her. The bookkeeper’s life was made up of innumerable little pettinesses. When he went to the bank in the morning he stepped into a closet and put on a black alpaca coat that had become shabby with age. At night when he returned to his home he donned another black alpaca coat. Every evening he pressed the clothes worn in the streets. He had invented an arrangement of boards for the purpose. The trousers to his street suit were placed between the boards and the boards were clamped together with heavy screws. In the morning he wiped the boards with a damp cloth and stood them upright behind the dining room door. If they were moved during the day he was speechless with anger and did not recover his equilibrium for a week.

The bank cashier was a little bully and was afraid of his daughter. She, he realized, knew the story of his brutal treatment of her mother and hated him for it. One day she went home at noon and carried a handful of soft mud, taken from the road, into the house. With the mud she smeared the face of the boards used for the pressing of trousers and then went back to her work feeling relieved and happy.

Belle Carpenter occasionally walked out in the evening with George Willard. Secretly she loved an- other man, but her love affair, about which no one knew, caused her much anxiety. She was in love with Ed Handby, bartender in Ed Griffith’s Saloon, and went about with the young reporter as a kind of relief to her feelings. She did not think that her station in life would permit her to be seen in the company of the bartender and walked about under the trees with George Willard and let him kiss her to relieve a longing that was very insistent in her nature. She felt that she could keep the younger man within bounds. About Ed Handby she was somewhat uncertain.

Handby, the bartender, was a tall, broad-shouldered man of thirty who lived in a room upstairs above Griffith’s saloon. His fists were large and his eyes unusually small, but his voice, as though striving to conceal the power back of his fists, was soft and quiet.

At twenty-five the bartender had inherited a large farm from an uncle in Indiana. When sold, the farm brought in eight thousand dollars, which Ed spent in six months. Going to Sandusky, on Lake Erie, he began an orgy of dissipation, the story of which afterward filled his home town with awe. Here and there he went throwing the money about, driving carriages through the streets, giving wine parties to crowds of men and women, playing cards for high stakes and keeping mistresses whose wardrobes cost him hundreds of dollars. One night at a resort called Cedar Point, he got into a fight and ran amuck like a wild thing. With his fist he broke a large mirror in the wash room of a hotel and later went about smashing windows and breaking chairs in dance halls for the joy of hearing the glass rattle on the floor and seeing the terror in the eyes of clerks who had come from Sandusky to spend the evening at the resort with their sweethearts.

The affair between Ed Handby and Belle Carpen- ter on the surface amounted to nothing. He had suc- ceeded in spending but one evening in her company. On that evening he hired a horse and buggy at Wes- ley Moyer’s livery barn and took her for a drive. The conviction that she was the woman his nature demanded and that he must get her settled upon him and he told her of his desires. The bartender was ready to marry and to begin trying to earn money for the support of his wife, but so simple was his nature that he found it difficult to explain his intentions. His body ached with physical longing and with his body he expressed himself. Taking the milliner into his arms and holding her tightly in spite of her struggles, he kissed her until she became helpless. Then he brought her back to town and let her out of the buggy. “When I get hold of you again I’ll not let you go. You can’t play with me,” he de- clared as he turned to drive away. Then, jumping out of the buggy, he gripped her shoulders with his strong hands. “I’ll keep you for good the next time,” he said. “You might as well make up your mind to that. It’s you and me for it and I’m going to have you before I get through.”

One night in January when there was a new moon George Willard, who was in Ed Handby’s mind the only obstacle to his getting Belle Carpenter, went for a walk. Early that evening George went into Ransom Surbeck’s pool room with Seth Richmond and Art Wilson, son of the town butcher. Seth Richmond stood with his back against the wall and remained silent, but George Willard talked. The pool room was filled with Winesburg boys and they talked of women. The young reporter got into that vein. He said that women should look out for themselves, that the fellow who went out with a girl was not responsible for what happened. As he talked he looked about, eager for attention. He held the floor for five minutes and then Art Wilson began to talk. Art was learning the barber’s trade in Cal Prouse’s shop and already began to consider himself an au- thority in such matters as baseball, horse racing, drinking, and going about with women. He began to tell of a night when he with two men from Wines- burg went into a house of prostitution at the county seat. The butcher’s son held a cigar in the side of his mouth and as he talked spat on the floor. “The women in the place couldn’t embarrass me although they tried hard enough,” he boasted. “One of the girls in the house tried to get fresh, but I fooled her. As soon as she began to talk I went and sat in her lap. Everyone in the room laughed when I kissed her. I taught her to let me alone.”

George Willard went out of the pool room and into Main Street. For days the weather had been bitter cold with a high wind blowing down on the town from Lake Erie, eighteen miles to the north, but on that night the wind had died away and a new moon made the night unusually lovely. With- out thinking where he was going or what he wanted to do, George went out of Main Street and began walking in dimly lighted streets filled with frame houses.

Out of doors under the black sky filled with stars he forgot his companions of the pool room. Because it was dark and he was alone he began to talk aloud. In a spirit of play he reeled along the street imitating a drunken man and then imagined himself a soldier clad in shining boots that reached to the knees and wearing a sword that jingled as he walked. As a soldier he pictured himself as an inspector, passing before a long line of men who stood at attention. He began to examine the accoutrements of the men. Before a tree he stopped and began to scold. “Your pack is not in order,” he said sharply. “How many times will I have to speak of this matter? Everything must be in order here. We have a difficult task be- fore us and no difficult task can be done without order.”

Hypnotized by his own words, the young man stumbled along the board sidewalk saying more words. “There is a law for armies and for men too,” he muttered, lost in reflection. “The law begins with little things and spreads out until it covers every- thing. In every little thing there must be order, in the place where men work, in their clothes, in their thoughts. I myself must be orderly. I must learn that law. I must get myself into touch with something orderly and big that swings through the night like a star. In my little way I must begin to learn some- thing, to give and swing and work with life, with the law.”

George Willard stopped by a picket fence near a street lamp and his body began to tremble. He had never before thought such thoughts as had just come into his head and he wondered where they had come from. For the moment it seemed to him that some voice outside of himself had been talking as he walked. He was amazed and delighted with his own mind and when he walked on again spoke of the matter with fervor. “To come out of Ransom Surbeck’s pool room and think things like that,” he whispered. “It is better to be alone. If I talked like Art Wilson the boys would understand me but they wouldn’t understand what I’ve been thinking down here.”

In Winesburg, as in all Ohio towns of twenty years ago, there was a section in which lived day laborers. As the time of factories had not yet come, the laborers worked in the fields or were section hands on the railroads. They worked twelve hours a day and received one dollar for the long day of toil. The houses in which they lived were small cheaply constructed wooden affairs with a garden at the back. The more comfortable among them kept cows and perhaps a pig, housed in a little shed at the rear of the garden.

With his head filled with resounding thoughts, George Willard walked into such a street on the clear January night. The street was dimly lighted and in places there was no sidewalk. In the scene that lay about him there was something that excited his al- ready aroused fancy. For a year he had been devot- ing all of his odd moments to the reading of books and now some tale he had read concerning fife in old world towns of the middle ages came sharply back to his mind so that he stumbled forward with the curious feeling of one revisiting a place that had been a part of some former existence. On an impulse he turned out of the street and went into a little dark alleyway behind the sheds in which lived the cows and pigs.

For a half hour he stayed in the alleyway, smelling the strong smell of animals too closely housed and letting his mind play with the strange new thoughts that came to him. The very rankness of the smell of manure in the clear sweet air awoke something heady in his brain. The poor little houses lighted by kerosene lamps, the smoke from the chimneys mounting straight up into the clear air, the grunting of pigs, the women clad in cheap calico dresses and washing dishes in the kitchens, the footsteps of men coming out of the houses and going off to the stores and saloons of Main Street, the dogs barking and the children crying–all of these things made him seem, as he lurked in the darkness, oddly detached and apart from all life.

The excited young man, unable to bear the weight of his own thoughts, began to move cautiously along the alleyway. A dog attacked him and had to be driven away with stones, and a man appeared at the door of one of the houses and swore at the dog. George went into a vacant lot and throwing back his head looked up at the sky. He felt unutterably big and remade by the simple experience through which he had been passing and in a kind of fervor of emo- tion put up his hands, thrusting them into the dark- ness above his head and muttering words. The desire to say words overcame him and he said words without meaning, rolling them over on his tongue and saying them because they were brave words, full of meaning. “Death,” he muttered, night, the sea, fear, loveliness.”

George Willard came out of the vacant lot and stood again on the sidewalk facing the houses. He felt that all of the people in the little street must be brothers and sisters to him and he wished he had the courage to call them out of their houses and to shake their hands. “If there were only a woman here I would take hold of her hand and we would run until we were both tired out,” he thought. “That would make me feel better.” With the thought of a woman in his mind he walked out of the street and went toward the house where Belle Carpenter lived. He thought she would understand his mood and that he could achieve in her presence a position he had long been wanting to achieve. In the past when he had been with her and had kissed her lips he had come away filled with anger at himself. He had felt like one being used for some obscure purpose and had not enjoyed the feeling. Now he thought he had suddenly become too big to be used.

When George got to Belle Carpenter’s house there had already been a visitor there before him. Ed Handby had come to the door and calling Belle out of the house had tried to talk to her. He had wanted to ask the woman to come away with him and to be his wife, but when she came and stood by the door he lost his self-assurance and became sullen. “You stay away from that kid,” he growled, thinking of George Willard, and then, not knowing what else to say, turned to go away. “If I catch you together I will break your bones and his too,” he added. The bartender had come to woo, not to threaten, and was angry with himself because of his failure.

When her lover had departed Belle went indoors and ran hurriedly upstairs. From a window at the upper part of the house she saw Ed Handby cross the street and sit down on a horse block before the house of a neighbor. In the dim light the man sat motionless holding his head in his hands. She was made happy by the sight, and when George Willard came to the door she greeted him effusively and hurriedly put on her hat. She thought that, as she walked through the streets with young Willard, Ed Handby would follow and she wanted to make him suffer.

For an hour Belle Carpenter and the young re- porter walked about under the trees in the sweet night air. George Willard was full of big words. The sense of power that had come to him during the hour in the darkness in the alleyway remained with him and he talked boldly, swaggering along and swinging his arms about. He wanted to make Belle Carpenter realize that he was aware of his former weakness and that he had changed. “You’ll find me different,” he declared, thrusting his hands into his pockets and looking boldly into her eyes. “I don’t know why but it is so. You’ve got to take me for a man or let me alone. That’s how it is.”

Up and down the quiet streets under the new moon went the woman and the boy. When George had finished talking they turned down a side street and went across a bridge into a path that ran up the side of a hill. The hill began at Waterworks Pond and climbed upward to the Winesburg Fair Grounds. On the hillside grew dense bushes and small trees and among the bushes were little open spaces carpeted with long grass, now stiff and frozen.

As he walked behind the woman up the hill George Willard’s heart began to beat rapidly and his shoulders straightened. Suddenly he decided that Belle Carpenter was about to surrender herself to him. The new force that had manifested itself in him had, he felt, been at work upon her and had led to her conquest. The thought made him half drunk with the sense of masculine power. Although he had been annoyed that as they walked about she had not seemed to be listening to his words, the fact that she had accompanied him to this place took all his doubts away. “It is different. Everything has become different,” he thought and taking hold of her shoulder turned her about and stood looking at her, his eyes shining with pride.

Belle Carpenter did not resist. When he kissed her upon the lips she leaned heavily against him and looked over his shoulder into the darkness. In her whole attitude there was a suggestion of waiting. Again, as in the alleyway, George Willard’s mind ran off into words and, holding the woman tightly he whispered the words into the still night. “Lust,” he whispered, “lust and night and women.”

George Willard did not understand what hap- pened to him that night on the hillside. Later, when he got to his own room, he wanted to weep and then grew half insane with anger and hate. He hated Belle Carpenter and was sure that all his life he would continue to hate her. On the hillside he had led the woman to one of the little open spaces among the bushes and had dropped to his knees beside her. As in the vacant lot, by the laborers’ houses, he had put up his hands in gratitude for the new power in himself and was waiting for the woman to speak when Ed Handby appeared.

The bartender did not want to beat the boy, who he thought had tried to take his woman away. He knew that beating was unnecessary, that he had power within himself to accomplish his purpose without using his fists. Gripping George by the shoulder and pulling him to his feet, he held him with one hand while he looked at Belle Carpenter seated on the grass. Then with a quick wide move- ment of his arm he sent the younger man sprawling away into the bushes and began to bully the woman, who had risen to her feet. “You’re no good,” he said roughly. “I’ve half a mind not to bother with you. I’d let you alone if I didn’t want you so much.”

On his hands and knees in the bushes George Willard stared at the scene before him and tried hard to think. He prepared to spring at the man who had humiliated him. To be beaten seemed to be infinitely better than to be thus hurled ignominiously aside.

Three times the young reporter sprang at Ed Handby and each time the bartender, catching him by the shoulder, hurled him back into the bushes. The older man seemed prepared to keep the exercise going indefinitely but George Willard’s head struck the root of a tree and he lay still. Then Ed Handby took Belle Carpenter by the arm and marched her away.

George heard the man and woman making their way through the bushes. As he crept down the hill- side his heart was sick within him. He hated himself and he hated the fate that had brought about his humiliation. When his mind went back to the hour alone in the alleyway he was puzzled and stopping in the darkness listened, hoping to hear again the voice outside himself that had so short a time before put new courage into his heart. When his way homeward led him again into the street of frame houses he could not bear the sight and began to run, wanting to get quickly out of the neighborhood that now seemed to him utterly squalid and commonplace.

“QUEER”

FROM HIS SEAT on a box in the rough board shed that stuck like a burr on the rear of Cowley & Son’s store in Winesburg, Elmer Cowley, the junior member of the firm, could see through a dirty window into the printshop of the Winesburg Eagle. Elmer was putting new shoelaces in his shoes. They did not go in readily and he had to take the shoes off. With the shoes in his hand he sat looking at a large hole in the heel of one of his stockings. Then looking quickly up he saw George Willard, the only newspa- per reporter in Winesburg, standing at the back door of the Eagle printshop and staring absentmindedly about. “Well, well, what next!” exclaimed the young man with the shoes in his hand, jumping to his feet and creeping away from the window.

A flush crept into Elmer Cowley’s face and his hands began to tremble. In Cowley & Son’s store a Jewish traveling salesman stood by the counter talk- ing to his father. He imagined the reporter could hear what was being said and the thought made him furious. With one of the shoes still held in his hand he stood in a corner of the shed and stamped with a stockinged foot upon the board floor.

Cowley & Son’s store did not face the main street of Winesburg. The front was on Maumee Street and beyond it was Voight’s wagon shop and a shed for the sheltering of farmers’ horses. Beside the store an alleyway ran behind the main street stores and all day drays and delivery wagons, intent on bringing in and taking out goods, passed up and down. The store itself was indescribable. Will Henderson once said of it that it sold everything and nothing. In the window facing Maumee Street stood a chunk of coal as large as an apple barrel, to indicate that orders for coal were taken, and beside the black mass of the coal stood three combs of honey grown brown and dirty in their wooden frames.

The honey had stood in the store window for six months. It was for sale as were also the coat hang- ers, patent suspender buttons, cans of roof paint, bottles of rheumatism cure, and a substitute for cof- fee that companioned the honey in its patient will- ingness to serve the public.

Ebenezer Cowley, the man who stood in the store listening to the eager patter of words that fell from the lips of the traveling man, was tall and lean and looked unwashed. On his scrawny neck was a large wen partially covered by a grey beard. He wore a long Prince Albert coat. The coat had been pur- chased to serve as a wedding garment. Before he became a merchant Ebenezer was a farmer and after his marriage he wore the Prince Albert coat to church on Sundays and on Saturday afternoons when he came into town to trade. When he sold the farm to become a merchant he wore the coat constantly. It had become brown with age and was covered with grease spots, but in it Ebenezer always felt dressed up and ready for the day in town.

As a merchant Ebenezer was not happily placed in life and he had not been happily placed as a farmer. Still he existed. His family, consisting of a daughter named Mabel and the son, lived with him in rooms above the store and it did not cost them much to live. His troubles were not financial. His unhappiness as a merchant lay in the fact that when a traveling man with wares to be sold came in at the front door he was afraid. Behind the counter he stood shaking his head. He was afraid, first that he would stubbornly refuse to buy and thus lose the opportunity to sell again; second that he would not be stubborn enough and would in a moment of weakness buy what could not be sold.

In the store on the morning when Elmer Cowley saw George Willard standing and apparently lis- tening at the back door of the Eagle printshop, a situation had arisen that always stirred the son’s wrath. The traveling man talked and Ebenezer lis- tened, his whole figure expressing uncertainty. “You see how quickly it is done,” said the traveling man, who had for sale a small flat metal substitute for collar buttons. With one hand he quickly unfastened a collar from his shirt and then fastened it on again. He assumed a flattering wheedling tone. “I tell you what, men have come to the end of all this fooling with collar buttons and you are the man to make money out of the change that is coming. I am offer- ing you the exclusive agency for this town. Take twenty dozen of these fasteners and I’ll not visit any other store. I’ll leave the field to you.”

The traveling man leaned over the counter and tapped with his finger on Ebenezer’s breast. “It’s an opportunity and I want you to take it,” he urged. “A friend of mine told me about you. ‘See that man Cowley,’ he said. ‘He’s a live one.'”

The traveling man paused and waited. Taking a book from his pocket he began writing out the order. Still holding the shoe in his hand Elmer Cow- ley went through the store, past the two absorbed men, to a glass showcase near the front door. He took a cheap revolver from the case and began to wave it about. “You get out of here!” he shrieked. “We don’t want any collar fasteners here.” An idea came to him. “Mind, I’m not making any threat,” he added. “I don’t say I’ll shoot. Maybe I just took this gun out of the case to look at it. But you better get out. Yes sir, I’ll say that. You better grab up your things and get out.”

The young storekeeper’s voice rose to a scream and going behind the counter he began to advance upon the two men. “We’re through being fools here!” he cried. “We ain’t going to buy any more stuff until we begin to sell. We ain’t going to keep on being queer and have folks staring and listening. You get out of here!”

The traveling man left. Raking the samples of col- lar fasteners off the counter into a black leather bag, he ran. He was a small man and very bow-legged and he ran awkwardly. The black bag caught against the door and he stumbled and fell. “Crazy, that’s what he is–crazy!” he sputtered as he arose from the sidewalk and hurried away.

In the store Elmer Cowley and his father stared at each other. Now that the immediate object of his wrath had fled, the younger man was embarrassed. “Well, I meant it. I think we’ve been queer long enough,” he declared, going to the showcase and replacing the revolver. Sitting on a barrel he pulled on and fastened the shoe he had been holding in his hand. He was waiting for some word of under- standing from his father but when Ebenezer spoke his words only served to reawaken the wrath in the son and the young man ran out of the store without replying. Scratching his grey beard with his long dirty fingers, the merchant looked at his son with the same wavering uncertain stare with which he had confronted the traveling man. “I’ll be starched,” he said softly. “Well, well, I’ll be washed and ironed and starched!”

Elmer Cowley went out of Winesburg and along a country road that paralleled the railroad track. He did not know where he was going or what he was going to do. In the shelter of a deep cut where the road, after turning sharply to the right, dipped under the tracks he stopped and the passion that had been the cause of his outburst in the store began to again find expression. “I will not be queer–one to be looked at and listened to,” he declared aloud. “I’ll be like other people. I’ll show that George Wil- lard. He’ll find out. I’ll show him!”

The distraught young man stood in the middle of the road and glared back at the town. He did not know the reporter George Willard and had no spe- cial feeling concerning the tall boy who ran about town gathering the town news. The reporter had merely come, by his presence in the office and in the printshop of the Winesburg Eagle, to stand for something in the young merchant’s mind. He thought the boy who passed and repassed Cowley & Son’s store and who stopped to talk to people in the street must be thinking of him and perhaps laughing at him. George Willard, he felt, belonged to the town, typified the town, represented in his person the spirit of the town. Elmer Cowley could not have believed that George Willard had also his days of unhappiness, that vague hungers and secret unnam- able desires visited also his mind. Did he not repre- sent public opinion and had not the public opinion of Winesburg condemned the Cowleys to queerness? Did he not walk whistling and laughing through Main Street? Might not one by striking his person strike also the greater enemy–the thing that smiled and went its own way–the judgment of Winesburg?

Elmer Cowley was extraordinarily tall and his arms were long and powerful. His hair, his eye- brows, and the downy beard that had begun to grow upon his chin, were pale almost to whiteness. His teeth protruded from between his lips and his eyes were blue with the colorless blueness of the marbles called “aggies” that the boys of Winesburg carried in their pockets. Elmer had lived in Wines- burg for a year and had made no friends. He was, he felt, one condemned to go through life without friends and he hated the thought.

Sullenly the tall young man tramped along the road with his hands stuffed into his trouser pockets. The day was cold with a raw wind, but presently the sun began to shine and the road became soft and muddy. The tops of the ridges of frozen mud that formed the road began to melt and the mud clung to Elmer’s shoes. His feet became cold. When he had gone several miles he turned off the road, crossed a field and entered a wood. In the wood he gathered sticks to build a fire, by which he sat trying to warm himself, miserable in body and in mind.

For two hours he sat on the log by the fire and then, arising and creeping cautiously through a mass of underbrush, he went to a fence and looked across fields to a small farmhouse surrounded by low sheds. A smile came to his lips and he began making motions with his long arms to a man who was husking corn in one of the fields.

In his hour of misery the young merchant had returned to the farm where he had lived through boyhood and where there was another human being to whom he felt he could explain himself. The man on the farm was a half-witted old fellow named Mook. He had once been employed by Ebenezer Cowley and had stayed on the farm when it was sold. The old man lived in one of the unpainted sheds back of the farmhouse and puttered about all day in the fields.

Mook the half-wit lived happily. With childlike faith he believed in the intelligence of the animals that lived in the sheds with him, and when he was lonely held long conversations with the cows, the pigs, and even with the chickens that ran about the barnyard. He it was who had put the expression regarding being “laundered” into the mouth of his former employer. When excited or surprised by any- thing he smiled vaguely and muttered: “I’ll be washed and ironed. Well, well, I’ll be washed and ironed and starched.”

When the half-witted old man left his husking of corn and came into the wood to meet Elmer Cowley, he was neither surprised nor especially interested in the sudden appearance of the young man. His feet also were cold and he sat on the log by the fire, grateful for the warmth and apparently indifferent to what Elmer had to say.

Elmer talked earnestly and with great freedom, walking up and down and waving his arms about. “You don’t understand what’s the matter with me so of course you don’t care,” he declared. “With me it’s different. Look how it has always been with me. Father is queer and mother was queer, too. Even the clothes mother used to wear were not like other people’s clothes, and look at that coat in which fa- ther goes about there in town, thinking he’s dressed up, too. Why don’t he get a new one? It wouldn’t cost much. I’ll tell you why. Father doesn’t know and when mother was alive she didn’t know either. Mabel is different. She knows but she won’t say anything. I will, though. I’m not going to be stared at any longer. Why look here, Mook, father doesn’t know that his store there in town is just a queer jumble, that he’ll never sell the stuff he buys. He knows nothing about it. Sometimes he’s a little wor- ried that trade doesn’t come and then he goes and buys something else. In the evenings he sits by the fire upstairs and says trade will come after a while. He isn’t worried. He’s queer. He doesn’t know enough to be worried.”

The excited young man became more excited. “He don’t know but I know,” he shouted, stopping to gaze down into the dumb, unresponsive face of the half-wit. “I know too well. I can’t stand it. When we lived out here it was different. I worked and at night I went to bed and slept. I wasn’t always seeing people and thinking as I am now. In the evening, there in town, I go to the post office or to the depot to see the train come in, and no one says anything to me. Everyone stands around and laughs and they talk but they say nothing to me. Then I feel so queer that I can’t talk either. I go away. I don’t say any- thing. I can’t.”

The fury of the young man became uncontrollable. “I won’t stand it,” he yelled, looking up at the bare branches of the trees. “I’m not made to stand it.”

Maddened by the dull face of the man on the log by the fire, Elmer turned and glared at him as he had glared back along the road at the town of Winesburg. “Go on back to work,” he screamed. “What good does it do me to talk to you?” A thought came to him and his voice dropped. “I’m a coward too, eh?” he muttered. “Do you know why I came clear out here afoot? I had to tell someone and you were the only one I could tell. I hunted out another queer one, you see. I ran away, that’s what I did. I couldn’t stand up to someone like that George Willard. I had to come to you. I ought to tell him and I will.”

Again his voice arose to a shout and his arms flew about. “I will tell him. I won’t be queer. I don’t care what they think. I won’t stand it.”

Elmer Cowley ran out of the woods leaving the half-wit sitting on the log before the fire. Presently the old man arose and climbing over the fence went back to his work in the corn. “I’ll be washed and ironed and starched,” he declared. “Well, well, I’ll be washed and ironed.” Mook was interested. He went along a lane to a field where two cows stood nibbling at a straw stack. “Elmer was here,” he said to the cows. “Elmer is crazy. You better get behind the stack where he don’t see you. He’ll hurt some- one yet, Elmer will.”

At eight o’clock that evening Elmer Cowley put his head in at the front door of the office of the Winesburg Eagle where George Willard sat writing. His cap was pulled down over his eyes and a sullen determined look was on his face. “You come on out- side with me,” he said, stepping in and closing the door. He kept his hand on the knob as though pre- pared to resist anyone else coming in. “You just come along outside. I want to see you.”

George Willard and Elmer Cowley walked through the main street of Winesburg. The night was cold and George Willard had on a new overcoat and looked very spruce and dressed up. He thrust his hands into the overcoat pockets and looked inquir- ingly at his companion. He had long been wanting to make friends with the young merchant and find out what was in his mind. Now he thought he saw a chance and was delighted. “I wonder what he’s up to? Perhaps he thinks he has a piece of news for the paper. It can’t be a fire because I haven’t heard the fire bell and there isn’t anyone running,” he thought.

In the main street of Winesburg, on the cold No- vember evening, but few citizens appeared and these hurried along bent on getting to the stove at the back of some store. The windows of the stores were frosted and the wind rattled the tin sign that hung over the entrance to the stairway leading to Doctor Welling’s office. Before Hern’s Grocery a bas- ket of apples and a rack filled with new brooms stood on the sidewalk. Elmer Cowley stopped and stood facing George Willard. He tried to talk and his arms began to pump up and down. His face worked spasmodically. He seemed about to shout. “Oh, you go on back,” he cried. “Don’t stay out here with me. I ain’t got anything to tell you. I don’t want to see you at all.”

For three hours the distracted young merchant wandered through the resident streets of Winesburg blind with anger, brought on by his failure to declare his determination not to be queer. Bitterly the sense of defeat settled upon him and he wanted to weep. After the hours of futile sputtering at nothingness that had occupied the afternoon and his failure in the presence of the young reporter, he thought he could see no hope of a future for himself.

And then a new idea dawned for him. In the dark- ness that surrounded him he began to see a light. Going to the now darkened store, where Cowley & Son had for over a year waited vainly for trade to come, he crept stealthily in and felt about in a barrel that stood by the stove at the rear. In the barrel beneath shavings lay a tin box containing Cowley & Son’s cash. Every evening Ebenezer Cowley put the box in the barrel when he closed the store and went upstairs to bed. “They wouldn’t never think of a careless place like that,” he told himself, thinking of robbers.

Elmer took twenty dollars, two ten-dollar bills, from the little roll containing perhaps four hundred dollars, the cash left from the sale of the farm. Then replacing the box beneath the shavings he went qui- etly out at the front door and walked again in the streets.

The idea that he thought might put an end to all of his unhappiness was very simple. “I will get out of here, run away from home,” he told himself. He knew that a local freight train passed through Winesburg at midnight and went on to Cleveland, where it arrived at dawn. He would steal a ride on the local and when he got to Cleveland would lose himself in the crowds there. He would get work in some shop and become friends with the other workmen and would be indistinguishable. Then he could talk and laugh. He would no longer be queer and would make friends. Life would begin to have warmth and meaning for him as it had for others.

The tall awkward young man, striding through the streets, laughed at himself because he had been angry and had been half afraid of George Willard. He decided he would have his talk with the young reporter before he left town, that he would tell him about things, perhaps challenge him, challenge all of Winesburg through him.

Aglow with new confidence Elmer went to the office of the New Willard House and pounded on the door. A sleep-eyed boy slept on a cot in the office. He received no salary but was fed at the hotel table and bore with pride the title of “night clerk.” Before the boy Elmer was bold, insistent. “You ‘wake him up,” he commanded. “You tell him to come down by the depot. I got to see him and I’m going away on the local. Tell him to dress and come on down. I ain’t got much time.”

The midnight local had finished its work in Wines- burg and the trainsmen were coupling cars, swing- ing lanterns and preparing to resume their flight east. George Willard, rubbing his eyes and again wearing the new overcoat, ran down to the station platform afire with curiosity. “Well, here I am. What do you want? You’ve got something to tell me, eh?” he said.

Elmer tried to explain. He wet his lips with his tongue and looked at the train that had begun to groan and get under way. “Well, you see,” he began, and then lost control of his tongue. “I’ll be washed and ironed. I’ll be washed and ironed and starched,” he muttered half incoherently.

Elmer Cowley danced with fury beside the groan- ing train in the darkness on the station platform. Lights leaped into the air and bobbed up and down before his eyes. Taking the two ten-dollar bills from his pocket he thrust them into George Willard’s hand. “Take them,” he cried. “I don’t want them. Give them to father. I stole them.” With a snarl of rage he turned and his long arms began to flay the air. Like one struggling for release from hands that held him he struck out, hitting George Willard blow after blow on the breast, the neck, the mouth. The young reporter rolled over on the platform half un- conscious, stunned by the terrific force of the blows. Springing aboard the passing train and running over the tops of cars, Elmer sprang down to a flat car and lying on his face looked back, trying to see the fallen man in the darkness. Pride surged up in him. “I showed him,” he cried. “I guess I showed him. I ain’t so queer. I guess I showed him I ain’t so queer.”

THE UNTOLD LIE

RAY PEARSON and Hal Winters were farm hands em- ployed on a farm three miles north of Winesburg. On Saturday afternoons they came into town and wandered about through the streets with other fel- lows from the country.

Ray was a quiet, rather nervous man of perhaps fifty with a brown beard and shoulders rounded by too much and too hard labor. In his nature he was as unlike Hal Winters as two men can be unlike.

Ray was an altogether serious man and had a little sharp-featured wife who had also a sharp voice. The two, with half a dozen thin-legged children, lived in a tumble-down frame house beside a creek at the back end of the Wills farm where Ray was employed.

Hal Winters, his fellow employee, was a young fellow. He was not of the Ned Winters family, who were very respectable people in Winesburg, but was one of the three sons of the old man called Wind- peter Winters who had a sawmill near Unionville, six miles away, and who was looked upon by every- one in Winesburg as a confirmed old reprobate.

People from the part of Northern Ohio in which Winesburg lies will remember old Windpeter by his unusual and tragic death. He got drunk one evening in town and started to drive home to Unionville along the railroad tracks. Henry Brattenburg, the butcher, who lived out that way, stopped him at the edge of the town and told him he was sure to meet the down train but Windpeter slashed at him with his whip and drove on. When the train struck and killed him and his two horses a farmer and his wife who were driving home along a nearby road saw the accident. They said that old Windpeter stood up on the seat of his wagon, raving and swearing at the onrushing locomotive, and that he fairly screamed with delight when the team, maddened by his inces- sant slashing at them, rushed straight ahead to cer- tain death. Boys like young George Willard and Seth Richmond will remember the incident quite vividly because, although everyone in our town said that the old man would go straight to hell and that the community was better off without him, they had a secret conviction that he knew what he was doing and admired his foolish courage. Most boys have seasons of wishing they could die gloriously instead of just being grocery clerks and going on with their humdrum lives.

But this is not the story of Windpeter Winters nor yet of his son Hal who worked on the Wills farm with Ray Pearson. It is Ray’s story. It will, however, be necessary to talk a little of young Hal so that you will get into the spirit of it.

Hal was a bad one. Everyone said that. There were three of the Winters boys in that family, John, Hal, and Edward, all broad-shouldered big fellows like old Windpeter himself and all fighters and woman-chasers and generally all-around bad ones.

Hal was the worst of the lot and always up to some devilment. He once stole a load of boards from his father’s mill and sold them in Winesburg. With the money he bought himself a suit of cheap, flashy clothes. Then he got drunk and when his father came raving into town to find him, they met and fought with their fists on Main Street and were ar- rested and put into jail together.

Hal went to work on the Wills farm because there was a country school teacher out that way who had taken his fancy. He was only twenty-two then but had already been in two or three of what were spo- ken of in Winesburg as “women scrapes.” Everyone who heard of his infatuation for the school teacher was sure it would turn out badly. “He’ll only get her into trouble, you’ll see,” was the word that went around.

And so these two men, Ray and Hal, were at work in a field on a day in the late October. They were husking corn and occasionally something was said and they laughed. Then came silence. Ray, who was the more sensitive and always minded things more, had chapped hands and they hurt. He put them into his coat pockets and looked away across the fields. He was in a sad, distracted mood and was affected by the beauty of the country. If you knew the Winesburg country in the fall and how the low hills are all splashed with yellows and reds you would understand his feeling. He began to think of the time, long ago when he was a young fellow living with his father, then a baker in Winesburg, and how on such days he had wandered away into the woods to gather nuts, hunt rabbits, or just to loaf about and smoke his pipe. His marriage had come about through one of his days of wandering. He had in- duced a girl who waited on trade in his father’s shop to go with him and something had happened. He was thinking of that afternoon and how it had af- fected his whole life when a spirit of protest awoke in him. He had forgotten about Hal and muttered words. “Tricked by Gad, that’s what I was, tricked by life and made a fool of,” he said in a low voice.

As though understanding his thoughts, Hal Win- ters spoke up. “Well, has it been worth while? What about it, eh? What about marriage and all that?” he asked and then laughed. Hal tried to keep on laugh- ing but he too was in an earnest mood. He began to talk earnestly. “Has a fellow got to do it?” he asked. “Has he got to be harnessed up and driven through life like a horse?”

Hal didn’t wait for an answer but sprang to his feet and began to walk back and forth between the corn shocks. He was getting more and more excited. Bending down suddenly he picked up an ear of the yellow corn and threw it at the fence. “I’ve got Nell Gunther in trouble,” he said. “I’m telling you, but you keep your mouth shut.”

Ray Pearson arose and stood staring. He was al- most a foot shorter than Hal, and when the younger man came and put his two hands on the older man’s shoulders they made a picture. There they stood in the big empty field with the quiet corn shocks stand- ing in rows behind them and the red and yellow hills in the distance, and from being just two indif- ferent workmen they had become all alive to each other. Hal sensed it and because that was his way he laughed. “Well, old daddy,” he said awkwardly, “come on, advise me. I’ve got Nell in trouble. Per- haps you’ve been in the same fix yourself. I know what everyone would say is the right thing to do, but what do you say? Shall I marry and settle down? Shall I put myself into the harness to be worn out like an old horse? You know me, Ray. There can’t anyone break me but I can break myself. Shall I do it or shall I tell Nell to go to the devil? Come on, you tell me. Whatever you say, Ray, I’ll do.”

Ray couldn’t answer. He shook Hal’s hands loose and turning walked straight away toward the barn. He was a sensitive man and there were tears in his eyes. He knew there was only one thing to say to Hal Winters, son of old Windpeter Winters, only one thing that all his own training and all the beliefs of the people he knew would approve, but for his life he couldn’t say what he knew he should say.

At half-past four that afternoon Ray was puttering about the barnyard when his wife came up the lane along the creek and called him. After the talk with Hal he hadn’t returned to the cornfield but worked about the barn. He had already done the evening chores and had seen Hal, dressed and ready for a roistering night in town, come out of the farmhouse and go into the road. Along the path to his own house he trudged behind his wife, looking at the ground and thinking. He couldn’t make out what was wrong. Every time he raised his eyes and saw the beauty of the country in the failing light he wanted to do something he had never done before, shout or scream or hit his wife with his fists or something equally unexpected and terrifying. Along the path he went scratching his head and trying to make it out. He looked hard at his wife’s back but she seemed all right.

She only wanted him to go into town for groceries and as soon as she had told him what she wanted began to scold. “You’re always puttering,” she said. “Now I want you to hustle. There isn’t anything in the house for supper and you’ve got to get to town and back in a hurry.”

Ray went into his own house and took an overcoat from a hook back of the door. It was torn about the pockets and the collar was shiny. His wife went into the bedroom and presently came out with a soiled cloth in one hand and three silver dollars in the other. Somewhere in the house a child wept bitterly and a dog that had been sleeping by the stove arose and yawned. Again the wife scolded. “The children will cry and cry. Why are you always puttering?” she asked.

Ray went out of the house and climbed the fence into a field. It was just growing dark and the scene that lay before him was lovely. All the low hills were washed with color and even the little clusters of bushes in the corners of the fences were alive with beauty. The whole world seemed to Ray Pearson to have become alive with something just as he and Hal had suddenly become alive when they stood in the corn field stating into each other’s eyes.

The beauty of the country about Winesburg was too much for Ray on that fall evening. That is all there was to it. He could not stand it. Of a sudden he forgot all about being a quiet old farm hand and throwing off the torn overcoat began to run across the field. As he ran he shouted a protest against his life, against all life, against everything that makes life ugly. “There was no promise made,” he cried into the empty spaces that lay about him. “I didn’t promise my Minnie anything and Hal hasn’t made any promise to Nell. I know he hasn’t. She went into the woods with him because she wanted to go. What he wanted she wanted. Why should I pay? Why should Hal pay? Why should anyone pay? I don’t want Hal to become old and worn out. I’ll tell him. I won’t let it go on. I’ll catch Hal before he gets to town and I’ll tell him.”

Ray ran clumsily and once he stumbled and fell down. “I must catch Hal and tell him,” he kept thinking, and although his breath came in gasps he kept running harder and harder. As he ran he thought of things that hadn’t come into his mind for years–how at the time he married he had planned to go west to his uncle in Portland, Oregon–how he hadn’t wanted to be a farm hand, but had thought when he got out West he would go to sea and be a sailor or get a job on a ranch and ride a horse into Western towns, shouting and laughing and waking the people in the houses with his wild cries. Then as he ran he remembered his children and in fancy felt their hands clutching at him. All of his thoughts of himself were involved with the thoughts of Hal and he thought the children were clutching at the younger man also. “They are the accidents of life, Hal,” he cried. “They are not mine or yours. I had nothing to do with them.”

Darkness began to spread over the fields as Ray Pearson ran on and on. His breath came in little sobs. When he came to the fence at the edge of the road and confronted Hal Winters, all dressed up and smoking a pipe as he walked jauntily along, he could not have told what he thought or what he wanted.

Ray Pearson lost his nerve and this is really the end of the story of what happened to him. It was almost dark when he got to the fence and he put his hands on the top bar and stood staring. Hal Winters jumped a ditch and coming up close to Ray put his hands into his pockets and laughed. He seemed to have lost his own sense of what had happened in the corn field and when he put up a strong hand and took hold of the lapel of Ray’s coat he shook the old man as he might have shaken a dog that had misbehaved.

“You came to tell me, eh?” he said. “Well, never mind telling me anything. I’m not a coward and I’ve already made up my mind.” He laughed again and jumped back across the ditch. “Nell ain’t no fool,” he said. “She didn’t ask me to marry her. I want to marry her. I want to settle down and have kids.”

Ray Pearson also laughed. He felt like laughing at himself and all the world.

As the form of Hal Winters disappeared in the dusk that lay over the road that led to Winesburg, he turned and walked slowly back across the fields to where he had left his torn overcoat. As he went some memory of pleasant evenings spent with the thin-legged children in the tumble-down house by the creek must have come into his mind, for he mut- tered words. “It’s just as well. Whatever I told him would have been a lie,” he said softly, and then his form also disappeared into the darkness of the fields.

DRINK

TOM FOSTER came to Winesburg from Cincinnati when he was still young and could get many new impressions. His grandmother had been raised on a farm near the town and as a young girl had gone to school there when Winesburg was a village of twelve or fifteen houses clustered about a general store on the Trunion Pike.

What a life the old woman had led since she went away from the frontier settlement and what a strong, capable little old thing she was! She had been in Kansas, in Canada, and in New York City, traveling about with her husband, a mechanic, be- fore he died. Later she went to stay with her daughter, who had also married a mechanic and lived in Covington, Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati.

Then began the hard years for Tom Foster’s grandmother. First her son-in-law was killed by a policeman during a strike and then Tom’s mother became an invalid and died also. The grandmother had saved a little money, but it was swept away by the illness of the daughter and by the cost of the two funerals. She became a half worn-out old woman worker and lived with the grandson above a junk shop on a side street in Cincinnati. For five years she scrubbed the floors in an office building and then got a place as dish washer in a restaurant. Her hands were all twisted out of shape. When she took hold of a mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree.

The old woman came back to Winesburg as soon as she got the chance. One evening as she was com- ing home from work she found a pocket-book con- taining thirty-seven dollars, and that opened the way. The trip was a great adventure for the boy. It was past seven o’clock at night when the grand- mother came home with the pocket-book held tightly in her old hands and she was so excited she could scarcely speak. She insisted on leaving Cincinnati that night, saying that if they stayed until morning the owner of the money would be sure to find them out and make trouble. Tom, who was then sixteen years old, had to go trudging off to the station with the old woman, bearing all of their earthly belong- ings done up in a worn-out blanket and slung across his back. By his side walked the grandmother urging him forward. Her toothless old mouth twitched ner- vously, and when Tom grew weary and wanted to put the pack down at a street crossing, she snatched it up and if he had not prevented would have slung it across her own back. When they got into the train and it had run out of the city she was as delighted as a girl and talked as the boy had never heard her talk before.

All through the night as the train rattled along, the grandmother told Tom tales of Winesburg and of how he would enjoy his life working in the fields and shooting wild things in the woods there. She could not believe that the tiny village of fifty years before had grown into a thriving town in her ab- sence, and in the morning when the train came to Winesburg did not want to get off. “It isn’t what I thought. It may be hard for you here,” she said, and then the train went on its way and the two stood confused, not knowing where to turn, in the pres- ence of Albert Longworth, the Winesburg baggage master.

But Tom Foster did get along all right. He was one to get along anywhere. Mrs. White, the banker’s wife, employed his grandmother to work in the kitchen and he got a place as stable boy in the bank- er’s new brick barn.

In Winesburg servants were hard to get. The woman who wanted help in her housework em- ployed a “hired girl” who insisted on sitting at the table with the family. Mrs. White was sick of hired girls and snatched at the chance to get hold of the old city woman. She furnished a room for the boy Tom upstairs in the barn. “He can mow the lawn and run errands when the horses do not need atten- tion,” she explained to her husband.

Tom Foster was rather small for his age and had a large head covered with stiff black hair that stood straight up. The hair emphasized the bigness of his head. His voice was the softest thing imaginable, and he was himself so gentle and quiet that he slipped into the life of the town without attracting the least bit of attention.

One could not help wondering where Tom Foster got his gentleness. In Cincinnati he had lived in a neighborhood where gangs of tough boys prowled through the streets, and all through his early forma- tive years he ran about with tough boys. For a while he was a messenger for a telegraph company and delivered messages in a neighborhood sprinkled with houses of prostitution. The women in the houses knew and loved Tom Foster and the tough boys in the gangs loved him also.

He never asserted himself. That was one thing that helped him escape. In an odd way he stood in the shadow of the wall of life, was meant to stand in the shadow. He saw the men and women in the houses of lust, sensed their casual and horrible love affairs, saw boys fighting and listened to their tales of thieving and drunkenness, unmoved and strangely unaffected.

Once Tom did steal. That was while he still lived in the city. The grandmother was ill at the time and he himself was out of work. There was nothing to eat in the house, and so he went into a harness shop on a side street and stole a dollar and seventy-five cents out of the cash drawer.

The harness shop was run by an old man with a long mustache. He saw the boy lurking about and thought nothing of it. When he went out into the street to talk to a teamster Tom opened the cash drawer and taking the money walked away. Later he was caught and his grandmother settled the mat- ter by offering to come twice a week for a month and scrub the shop. The boy was ashamed, but he was rather glad, too. “It is all right to be ashamed and makes me understand new things,” he said to the grandmother, who didn’t know what the boy was talking about but loved him so much that it didn’t matter whether she understood or not.

For a year Tom Foster lived in the banker’s stable and then lost his place there. He didn’t take very good care of the horses and he was a constant source of irritation to the banker’s wife. She told him to mow the lawn and he forgot. Then she sent him to the store or to the post office and he did not come back but joined a group of men and boys and spent the whole afternoon with them, standing about, lis- tening and occasionally, when addressed, saying a few words. As in the city in the houses of prostitu- tion and with the rowdy boys running through the streets at night, so in Winesburg among its citizens he had always the power to be a part of and yet distinctly apart from the life about him.

After Tom lost his place at Banker White’s he did not live with his grandmother, although often in the evening she came to visit him. He rented a room at the rear of a little frame building belonging to old Rufus Whiting. The building was on Duane Street, just off Main Street, and had been used for years as a law office by the old man, who had become too feeble and forgetful for the practice of his profession but did not realize his inefficiency. He liked Tom and let him have the room for a dollar a month. In the late afternoon when the lawyer had gone home the boy had the place to himself and spent hours lying on the floor by the stove and thinking of things. In the evening the grandmother came and sat in the lawyer’s chair to smoke a pipe while Tom remained silent, as he always, did in the presence of everyone.

Often the old woman talked with great vigor. Sometimes she was angry about some happening at the banker’s house and scolded away for hours. Out of her own earnings she bought a mop and regularly scrubbed the lawyer’s office. Then when the place was spotlessly clean and smelled clean she lighted her clay pipe and she and Tom had a smoke to- gether. “When you get ready to die then I will die also,” she said to the boy lying on the floor beside her chair.

Tom Foster enjoyed life in Winesburg. He did odd jobs, such as cutting wood for kitchen stoves and mowing the grass before houses. In late May and early June he picked strawberries in the fields. He had time to loaf and he enjoyed loafing. Banker White had given him a cast-off coat which was too large for him, but his grandmother cut it down, and he had also an overcoat, got at the same place, that was lined with fur. The fur was worn away in spots, but the coat was warm and in the winter Tom slept in it. He thought his method of getting along good enough and was happy and satisfied with the way fife in Winesburg had turned out for him.

The most absurd little things made Tom Foster happy. That, I suppose, was why people loved him. In Hern’s Grocery they would be roasting coffee on Friday afternoon, preparatory to the Saturday rush of trade, and the rich odor invaded lower Main Street. Tom Foster appeared and sat on a box at the rear of the store. For an hour he did not move but sat perfectly still, filling his being with the spicy odor that made him half drunk with happiness. “I like it,” he said gently. “It makes me think of things far away, places and things like that.”

One night Tom Foster got drunk. That came about in a curious way. He never had been drunk before, and indeed in all his fife had never taken a drink of anything intoxicating, but he felt he needed to be drunk that one time and so went and did it.

In Cincinnati, when he lived there, Tom had found out many things, things about ugliness and crime and lust. Indeed, he knew more of these things than anyone else in Winesburg. The matter of sex in particular had presented itself to him in a quite horrible way and had made a deep impression on his mind. He thought, after what he had seen of the women standing before the squalid houses on cold nights and the look he had seen in the eyes of the men who stopped to talk to them, that he would put sex altogether out of his own life. One of the women of the neighborhood tempted him once and he went into a room with her. He never forgot the smell of the room nor the greedy look that came into the eyes of the woman. It sickened him and in a very terrible way left a scar on his soul. He had always before thought of women as quite innocent things, much like his grandmother, but after that one experience in the room he dismissed women from his mind. So gentle was his nature that he could not hate anything and not being able to under- stand he decided to forget.

And Tom did forget until he came to Winesburg. After he had lived there for two years something began to stir in him. On all sides he saw youth mak- ing love and he was himself a youth. Before he knew what had happened he was in love also. He fell in love with Helen White, daughter of the man for whom he had worked, and found himself think- ing of her at night.

That was a problem for Tom and he settled it in his own way. He let himself think of Helen White whenever her figure came into his mind and only concerned himself with the manner of his thoughts. He had a fight, a quiet determined little fight of his own, to keep his desires in the channel where he thought they belonged, but on the whole he was victorious.

And then came the spring night when he got drunk. Tom was wild on that night. He was like an innocent young buck of the forest that has eaten of some maddening weed. The thing began, ran its course, and was ended in one night, and you may be sure that no one in Winesburg was any the worse for Tom’s outbreak.

In the first place, the night was one to make a sensitive nature drunk. The trees along the resi- dence streets of the town were all newly clothed in soft green leaves, in the gardens behind the houses men were puttering about in vegetable gardens, and in the air there was a hush, a waiting kind of silence very stirring to the blood.

Tom left his room on Duane Street just as the young night began to make itself felt. First he walked through the streets, going softly and quietly along, thinking thoughts that he tried to put into words. He said that Helen White was a flame danc- ing in the air and that he was a little tree without leaves standing out sharply against the sky. Then he said that she was a wind, a strong terrible wind, coming out of the darkness of a stormy sea and that he was a boat left on the shore of the sea by a fisherman.

That idea pleased the boy and he sauntered along playing with it. He went into Main Street and sat on the curbing before Wacker’s tobacco store. For an hour he lingered about listening to the talk of men, but it did not interest him much and he slipped away. Then he decided to get drunk and went into Willy’s saloon and bought a bottle of whiskey. Put- ting the bottle into his pocket, he walked out of town, wanting to be alone to think more thoughts and to drink the whiskey.

Tom got drunk sitting on a bank of new grass beside the road about a mile north of town. Before him was a white road and at his back an apple or- chard in full bloom. He took a drink out of the bottle and then lay down on the grass. He thought of mornings in Winesburg and of how the stones in the graveled driveway by Banker White’s house were wet with dew and glistened in the morning light. He thought of the nights in the barn when it rained and he lay awake hearing the drumming of the raindrops and smelling the warm smell of horses and of hay. Then he thought of a storm that had gone roaring through Winesburg several days before and, his mind going back, he relived the night he had spent on the train with his grandmother when the two were coming from Cincinnati. Sharply he remembered how strange it had seemed to sit qui- etly in the coach and to feel the power of the engine hurling the train along through the night.

Tom got drunk in a very short time. He kept tak- ing drinks from the bottle as the thoughts visited him and when his head began to reel got up and walked along the road going away from Winesburg. There was a bridge on the road that ran out of Winesburg north to Lake Erie and the drunken boy made his way along the road to the bridge. There he sat down. He tried to drink again, but when he had taken the cork out of the bottle he became ill and put it quickly back. His head was rocking back and forth and so he sat on the stone approach to the bridge and sighed. His head seemed to be flying about like a pinwheel and then projecting itself off into space and his arms and legs flopped helplessly about.

At eleven o’clock Tom got back into town. George Willard found him wandering about and took him into the Eagle printshop. Then he became afraid that the drunken boy would make a mess on the floor and helped him into the alleyway.

The reporter was confused by Tom Foster. The drunken boy talked of Helen White and said he had been with her on the shore of a sea and had made love to her. George had seen Helen White walking in the street with her father during the evening and decided that Tom was out of his head. A sentiment concerning Helen White that lurked in his own heart flamed up and he became angry. “Now you quit that,” he said. “I won’t let Helen White’s name be dragged into this. I won’t let that happen.” He began shaking Tom’s shoulder, trying to make him understand. “You quit it,” he said again.

For three hours the two young men, thus strangely thrown together, stayed in the printshop. When he had a little recovered George took Tom for a walk. They went into the country and sat on a log near the edge of a wood. Something in the still night drew them together and when the drunken boy’s head began to clear they talked.

“It was good to be drunk,” Tom Foster said. “It taught me something. I won’t have to do it again. I will think more dearly after this. You see how it is.”

George Willard did not see, but his anger concern- ing Helen White passed and he felt drawn toward the pale, shaken boy as he had never before been drawn toward anyone. With motherly solicitude, he insisted that Tom get to his feet and walk about. Again they went back to the printshop and sat in silence in the darkness.