*****The Project Gutenberg Etext of This Side of Paradise*****
this incident horrified Beatrice, it also secretly amused her and
with 'em before they get there?" He was encouraging a faint hope
as a summer lake when she answered her mother.
All through the summer months Amory and Frog Parker went each
visions." She pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes. "I
"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you
The last scene was laid on a roof-garden, and the 'cellos sighed
"Ted Converse? 'At's easy. He'll fail his exams, tutor all summer
"You're not thin."
Princeton of the daytime filtered slowly into his
Amory glanced through the issue.
By and by Amory's eyes wandered curiously to his fellow-luncher's
she had expected him to be dark and of garter-advertisement
his train left at twelve-eighteen that night. His trunk and
him. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god. He
They rode into Princeton as the sun was making colored maps of
"Registrar's Office," and weighed it nervously.
holdings. In fact, Beatrice wrote that she was putting the money
thing now is to collect some new ones, and the farther you look
Fred, who was just sitting down.
Sloane looked at him in amazement.
"Everything. I have to pick and choose, of course, but mostly
ridicule. Every one who knew him liked himbut what he stood for
"He's evil, I think, yet he's strong and sane."
dreamt that it had come true and woke up in a cold panic, for in
She did not answer.
I have written a keen for you which follows. I am sorry your
And so we linger on the windless decks,
But usyou and me and Alecoh, we'll get a Jap butler and dress for
ALEC: So that's where you all are! Amory Blaine is here.
ROSALIND: Honestly, there are only two costumes in the world that
AMORY: My dance.
ALEC: Hi, Amory!
AMORY: Come over here and kiss me.
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory
Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.
with The New Democracy.
FOR YEARS AFTERWARD when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still
Amory and Eleanor, dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal
wretchedest thing of all is meoh, why am I a girl? Why am I not a
"My horse dead?"
There was a summer every rain was rare;
The silence of the theatre behind him ended with a curious
to repeat her girlhoodshe wants to repeat her honeymoon. I don't
Amory smiled a bit.
entrance of the labyrinth.
"Of course not," said the secretary indignantly.
of you fellows."
"Thank you, Mr. Ferrenby, but I've got to get on."
Long after midnight the towers and spires of Princeton were
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THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
There's little comfort in the wise. Rupert Brooke.
Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes.
To SIGOURNEY FAY
BOOK ONE: The Romantic Egotist
1. AMORY, SON OF BEATRICE
2. SPIRES AND GARGOYLES
3. THE EGOTIST CONSIDERS
4. NARCISSUS OFF DUTY
[INTERLUDE:MAY, 1917-FEBRUARY, 1919.]
BOOK TWO: The Education of a Personage
1. THE DIBUTANTE
2. EXPERIMENTS IN CONVALESCENCE
3. YOUNG IRONY
4. THE SUPERCILIOUS SACRIFICE
5. THE EGOTIST BECOMES A PERSONAGE
The Romantic Egotist
Amory, Son of Beatrice
AMORY BLAINE inherited from his mother every trait, except the
stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while. His father,
an ineffectual, inarticulate man with a taste for Byron and a
habit of drowsing over the Encyclopedia Britannica, grew wealthy
at thirty through the death of two elder brothers, successful
Chicago brokers, and in the first flush of feeling that the world
was his, went to Bar Harbor and met Beatrice O'Hara. In
consequence, Stephen Blaine handed down to posterity his height
of just under six feet and his tendency to waver at crucial
moments, these two abstractions appearing in his son Amory. For
many years he hovered in the background of his family's life, an
unassertive figure with a face half-obliterated by lifeless,
silky hair, continually occupied in "taking care" of his wife,
continually harassed by the idea that he didn't and couldn't
But Beatrice Blaine! There was a woman! Early pictures taken on
her father's estate at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, or in Rome at the
Sacred Heart Conventan educational extravagance that in her youth
was only for the daughters of the exceptionally wealthy showed
exquisite delicacy of her features, the consummate art and
simplicity of her clothes. A brilliant education she had her
passed in renaissance glory, she was versed in the latest gossip
of the Older Roman Families; known by name as a fabulously
wealthy American girl to Cardinal Vitori and Queen Margherita and
more subtle celebrities that one must have had some culture even
to have heard of. She learned in England to prefer whiskey and
soda to wine, and her small talk was broadened in two senses
during a winter in Vienna. All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed
the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again; a
tutelage measured by the number of things and people one could be
contemptuous of and charming about; a culture rich in all arts
and traditions, barren of all ideas, in the last of those days
when the great gardener clipped the inferior roses to produce one
In her less important moments she returned to America, met
Stephen Blaine and married him this almost entirely because she
was a little bit weary, a little bit sad. Her only child was
carried through a tiresome season and brought into the world on a
spring day in ninety-six.
When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for
her. He was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which
he would grow up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a
taste for fancy dress. From his fourth to his tenth year he did
the country with his mother in her father's private car, from
Coronado, where his mother became so bored that she had a nervous
breakdown in a fashionable hotel, down to Mexico City, where she
took a mild, almost epidemic consumption. This trouble pleased
her, and later she made use of it as an intrinsic part of her
atmosphere especially after several astounding bracers.
So, while more or less fortunate little rich boys were defying
governesses on the beach at Newport, or being spanked or tutored
or read to from "Do and Dare," or "Frank on the Mississippi,"
Amory was biting acquiescent bell-boys in the Waldorf, outgrowing
a natural repugnance to chamber music and symphonies, and
deriving a highly specialized education from his mother.
"Yes, Beatrice." (Such a quaint name for his mother; she
"Dear, don't think of getting out of bed yet. I've always
suspected that early rising in early life makes one nervous.
Clothilde is having your breakfast brought up."
"I am feeling very old to-day, Amory," she would sigh, her face a
rare cameo of pathos, her voice exquisitely modulated, her hands
as facile as Bernhardt's. "My nerves are on edge on edge. We must
leave this terrifying place to-morrow and go searching for
Amory's penetrating green eyes would look out through tangled
hair at his mother. Even at this age he had no illusions about
"I want you to take a red-hot bath as hot as you can bear it, and
just relax your nerves. You can read in the tub if you wish."
She fed him sections of the "Fjtes Galantes" before he was ten;
at eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of
Brahms and Mozart and Beethoven. One afternoon, when left alone
in the hotel at Hot Springs, he sampled his mother's apricot
cordial, and as the taste pleased him, he became quite tipsy.
This was fun for a while, but he essayed a cigarette in his
exaltation, and succumbed to a vulgar, plebeian reaction. Though
became part of what in a later generation would have been termed
"This son of mine," he heard her tell a room full of awestruck,
admiring women one day, "is entirely sophisticated and quite
charming but delicate we're all delicate; here, you know." Her
was radiantly outlined against her beautiful bosom; then sinking
her voice to a whisper, she told them of the apricot cordial.
They rejoiced, for she was a brave raconteuse, but many were the
keys turned in sideboard locks that night against the possible
defection of little Bobby or Barbara....
These domestic pilgrimages were invariably in state; two maids,
the private car, or Mr. Blaine when available, and very often a
physician. When Amory had the whooping-cough four disgusted
specialists glared at each other hunched around his bed; when he
took scarlet fever the number of attendants, including physicians
and nurses, totalled fourteen. However, blood being thicker than
broth, he was pulled through.
The Blaines were attached to no city. They were the Blaines of
Lake Geneva; they had quite enough relatives to serve in place of
friends, and an enviable standing from Pasadena to Cape Cod. But
Beatrice grew more and more prone to like only new acquaintances,
as there were certain stories, such as the history of her
constitution and its many amendments, memories of her years
abroad, that it was necessary for her to repeat at regular
intervals. Like Freudian dreams, they must be thrown off, else
they would sweep in and lay siege to her nerves. But Beatrice was
critical about American women, especially the floating population
"They have accents, my dear," she told Amory, "not Southern
accents or Boston accents, not an accent attached to any
locality, just an accent"she became dreamy. "They pick up old,
moth-eaten London accents that are down on their luck and have to
be used by some one. They talk as an English butler might after
several years in a Chicago grand-opera company." She became
almost incoherent "Suppose time in every Western woman's life she
feels her husband is prosperous enough for her to have accent
try to impress me, my dear"
Though she thought of her body as a mass of frailties, she
considered her soul quite as ill, and therefore important in her
life. She had once been a Catholic, but discovering that priests
were infinitely more attentive when she was in process of losing
or regaining faith in Mother Church, she maintained an
enchantingly wavering attitude. Often she deplored the bourgeois
quality of the American Catholic clergy, and was quite sure that
had she lived in the shadow of the great Continental cathedrals
her soul would still be a thin flame on the mighty altar of Rome.
Still, next to doctors, priests were her favorite sport.
"Ah, Bishop Wiston," she would declare, "I do not want to talk of
myself. I can imagine the stream of hysterical women fluttering
at your doors, beseeching you to be simpatico"then after an
interlude filled by the clergyman"but my mood is oddly
Only to bishops and above did she divulge her clerical romance.
When she had first returned to her country there had been a
pagan, Swinburnian young man in Asheville, for whose passionate
kisses and unsentimental conversations she had taken a decided
penchant they had discussed the matter pro and con with an
intellectual romancing quite devoid of sappiness. Eventually she
had decided to marry for background, and the young pagan from
Asheville had gone through a spiritual crisis, joined the
Catholic Church, and was now Monsignor Dark.
"Indeed, Mrs. Blaine, he is still delightful company quite the
cardinal's right-hand man."
"Amory will go to him one day, I know," breathed the beautiful
lady, "and Monsignor Dark will understand him as he understood
Amory became thirteen, rather tall and slender, and more than
ever on to his Celtic mother. He had tutored occasionallythe idea
being that he was to "keep up," at each place "taking up the work
where he left off," yet as no tutor ever found the place he left
off, his mind was still in very good shape. What a few more years
of this life would have made of him is problematical. However,
four hours out from land, Italy bound, with Beatrice, his
appendix burst, probably from too many meals in bed, and after a
series of frantic telegrams to Europe and America, to the
amazement of the passengers the great ship slowly wheeled around
and returned to New York to deposit Amory at the pier. You will
admit that if it was not life it was magnificent.
After the operation Beatrice had a nervous breakdown that bore a
suspicious resemblance to delirium tremens, and Amory was left in
Minneapolis, destined to spend the ensuing two years with his
aunt and uncle. There the crude, vulgar air of Western
civilization first catches him in his underwear, so to speak.
A KISS FOR AMORY
His lip curled when he read it.
"I am going to have a bobbing party," it said, "on Thursday,
December the seventeenth, at five o'clock, and I would like it
very much if you could come.
R.S.V.P. Myra St. Claire.
He had been two months in Minneapolis, and his chief struggle had
been the concealing from "the other guys at school" how
particularly superior he felt himself to be, yet this conviction
was built upon shifting sands. He had shown off one day in French
class (he was in senior French class) to the utter confusion of
Mr. Reardon, whose accent Amory damned contemptuously, and to the
delight of the class. Mr. Reardon, who had spent several weeks in
Paris ten years before, took his revenge on the verbs, whenever
he had his book open. But another time Amory showed off in
history class, with quite disastrous results, for the boys there
were his own age, and they shrilled innuendoes at each other all
the following week:
"AwI b'lieve, doncherknow, the Umuricun revolution was lawgely an
affair of the middul clawses," or
"Washington came of very good bloodaw, quite goodI b'lieve."
Amory ingeniously tried to retrieve himself by blundering on
purpose. Two years before he had commenced a history of the
United States which, though it only got as far as the Colonial
Wars, had been pronounced by his mother completely enchanting.
His chief disadvantage lay in athletics, but as soon as he
discovered that it was the touchstone of power and popularity at
school, he began to make furious, persistent efforts to excel in
the winter sports, and with his ankles aching and bending in
spite of his efforts, he skated valiantly around the Lorelie rink
every afternoon, wondering how soon he would be able to carry a
hockey-stick without getting it inexplicably tangled in his
The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire's bobbing party spent the
morning in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical
affair with a dusty piece of peanut brittle. During the afternoon
he brought it to light with a sigh, and after some consideration
and a preliminary draft in the back of Collar and Daniel's
"First-Year Latin," composed an answer:
My dear Miss St. Claire:
Your truly charming envitation for the evening of next Thursday
evening was truly delightful to recieve this morning. I will be
charm and inchanted indeed to present my compliments on next
On Thursday, therefore, he walked pensively along the slippery,
shovel-scraped sidewalks, and came in sight of Myra's house, on
the half-hour after five, a lateness which he fancied his mother
would have favored. He waited on the door-step with his eyes
nonchalantly half-closed, and planned his entrance with
precision. He would cross the floor, not too hastily, to Mrs. St.
Claire, and say with exactly the correct modulation:
"My dear Mrs. St. Claire, I'm frightfully sorry to be late, but
my maid"he paused there and realized he would be quoting"but my
uncle and I had to see a fella Yes, I've met your enchanting
daughter at dancing-school."
Then he would shake hands, using that slight, half-foreign bow,
with all the starchy little females, and nod to the fellas who
would be standing 'round, paralyzed into rigid groups for mutual
A butler (one of the three in Minneapolis) swung open the door.
Amory stepped inside and divested himself of cap and coat. He was
mildly surprised not to hear the shrill squawk of conversation
from the next room, and he decided it must be quite formal. He
approved of thatas he approved of the butler.
"Miss Myra," he said.
To his surprise the butler grinned horribly.
"Oh, yeah," he declared, "she's here." He was unaware that his
failure to be cockney was ruining his standing. Amory considered
"But," continued the butler, his voice rising unnecessarily,
"she's the only one what is here. The party's gone."
Amory gasped in sudden horror.
"She's been waitin' for Amory Blaine. That's you, ain't it? Her
mother says that if you showed up by five-thirty you two was to
go after 'em in the Packard."
Amory's despair was crystallized by the appearance of Myra
herself, bundled to the ears in a polo coat, her face plainly
sulky, her voice pleasant only with difficulty.
"'Lo, Myra." He had described the state of his vitality.
"Wellyou got here, anyways."
"WellI'll tell you. I guess you don't know about the auto
accident," he romanced.
Myra's eyes opened wide.
"Who was it to?"
"Well," he continued desperately, "uncle 'n aunt 'n I."
"Was any one killed?"
Amory paused and then nodded.
"Oh, nojust a horsea sorta gray horse."
At this point the Erse butler snickered.
"Probably killed the engine," he suggested. Amory would have put
him on the rack without a scruple.
"We'll go now," said Myra coolly. "You see, Amory, the bobs were
ordered for five and everybody was here, so we couldn't wait"
"Well, I couldn't help it, could I?"
"So mama said for me to wait till ha'past five. We'll catch the
bob before it gets to the Minnehaha Club, Amory."
Amory's shredded poise dropped from him. He pictured the happy
party jingling along snowy streets, the appearance of the
limousine, the horrible public descent of him and Myra before
sixty reproachful eyes, his apologya real one this time. He
"What?" inquired Myra.
"Nothing. I was just yawning. Are we going to surely catch up
that they might slip into the Minnehaha Club and meet the others
there, be found in blasi seclusion before the fire and quite
regain his lost attitude.
"Oh, sure Mike, we'll catch 'em all rightlet's hurry."
He became conscious of his stomach. As they stepped into the
machine he hurriedly slapped the paint of diplomacy over a rather
box-like plan he had conceived. It was based upon some
"trade-lasts" gleaned at dancing-school, to the effect that he
was "awful good-looking and English, sort of."
"Myra," he said, lowering his voice and choosing his words
carefully, "I beg a thousand pardons. Can you ever forgive me?"
She regarded him gravely, his intent green eyes, his mouth, that
to her thirteen-year-old, arrow-collar taste was the quintessence
of romance. Yes, Myra could forgive him very easily.
He looked at her again, and then dropped his eyes. He had lashes.
"I'm awful," he said sadly. "I'm diff'runt. I don't know why I
make faux pas. 'Cause I don't care, I s'pose." Then, recklessly:
"I been smoking too much. I've got t'bacca heart."
Myra pictured an all-night tobacco debauch, with Amory pale and
reeling from the effect of nicotined lungs. She gave a little
"Oh, Amory, don't smoke. You'll stunt your growth!"
"I don't care," he persisted gloomily. "I gotta. I got the habit.
I've done a lot of things that if my fambly knew"he hesitated,
giving her imagination time to picture dark horrors"I went to the
burlesque show last week."
Myra was quite overcome. He turned the green eyes on her again.
"You're the only girl in town I like much," he exclaimed in a
rush of sentiment. "You're simpatico."
Myra was not sure that she was, but it sounded stylish though
Thick dusk had descended outside, and as the limousine made a
sudden turn she was jolted against him; their hands touched.
"You shouldn't smoke, Amory," she whispered. "Don't you know
He shook his head.
Something stirred within Amory.
"Oh, yes, you do! You got a crush on Froggy Parker. I guess
everybody knows that."
"No, I haven't," very slowly.
A silence, while Amory thrilled. There was something fascinating
about Myra, shut away here cosily from the dim, chill air. Myra,
a little bundle of clothes, with strands of yellow hair curling
out from under her skating cap.
"Because I've got a crush, too" He paused, for he heard in the
distance the sound of young laughter, and, peering through the
frosted glass along the lamp-lit street, he made out the dark
outline of the bobbing party. He must act quickly. He reached
over with a violent, jerky effort, and clutched Myra's handher
thumb, to be exact.
"Tell him to go to the Minnehaha straight," he whispered. "I
wanta talk to youI got to talk to you."
Myra made out the party ahead, had an instant vision of her
mother, and thenalas for conventionglanced into the eyes beside.
"Turn down this side street, Richard, and drive straight to the
Minnehaha Club!" she cried through the speaking tube. Amory sank
back against the cushions with a sigh of relief.
"I can kiss her," he thought. "I'll bet I can. I'll bet I can!"
Overhead the sky was half crystalline, half misty, and the night
around was chill and vibrant with rich tension. From the Country
Club steps the roads stretched away, dark creases on the white
blanket; huge heaps of snow lining the sides like the tracks of
giant moles. They lingered for a moment on the steps, and watched
the white holiday moon.
"Pale moons like that one"Amory made a vague gesture"make people
mysterieuse. You look like a young witch with her cap off and her
hair sorta mussed"her hands clutched at her hair"Oh, leave it, it
They drifted up the stairs and Myra led the way into the little
den of his dreams, where a cosy fire was burning before a big
sink-down couch. A few years later this was to be a great stage
for Amory, a cradle for many an emotional crisis. Now they talked
for a moment about bobbing parties.
"There's always a bunch of shy fellas," he commented, "sitting at
the tail of the bob, sorta lurkin' an' whisperin' an' pushin'
each other off. Then there's always some crazy cross-eyed girl"he
gave a terrifying imitation"she's always talkin' hard, sorta, to
"You're such a funny boy," puzzled Myra.
"How d'y' mean?" Amory gave immediate attention, on his own
ground at last.
"Ohalways talking about crazy things. Why don't you come ski-ing
with Marylyn and I to-morrow?"
"I don't like girls in the daytime," he said shortly, and then,
thinking this a bit abrupt, he added: "But I like you." He
cleared his throat. "I like you first and second and third."
Myra's eyes became dreamy. What a story this would make to tell
Marylyn! Here on the couch with this wonderful-looking boythe
little firethe sense that they were alone in the great building
Myra capitulated. The atmosphere was too appropriate.
"I like you the first twenty-five," she confessed, her voice
trembling, "and Froggy Parker twenty-sixth."
Froggy had fallen twenty-five places in one hour. As yet he had
not even noticed it.
But Amory, being on the spot, leaned over quickly and kissed
Myra's cheek. He had never kissed a girl before, and he tasted
his lips curiously, as if he had munched some new fruit. Then
their lips brushed like young wild flowers in the wind.
"We're awful," rejoiced Myra gently. She slipped her hand into
his, her head drooped against his shoulder. Sudden revulsion
seized Amory, disgust, loathing for the whole incident. He
desired frantically to be away, never to see Myra again, never to
kiss any one; he became conscious of his face and hers, of their
clinging hands, and he wanted to creep out of his body and hide
somewhere safe out of sight, up in the corner of his mind.
"Kiss me again." Her voice came out of a great void.
"I don't want to," he heard himself saying. There was another
"I don't want to!" he repeated passionately.
Myra sprang up, her cheeks pink with bruised vanity, the great
bow on the back of her head trembling sympathetically.
"I hate you!" she cried. "Don't you ever dare to speak to me
"What?" stammered Amory.
"I'll tell mama you kissed me! I will too! I will too! I'll tell
mama, and she won't let me play with you!"
Amory rose and stared at her helplessly, as though she were a new
animal of whose presence on the earth he had not heretofore been
The door opened suddenly, and Myra's mother appeared on the
threshold, fumbling with her lorgnette.
"Well," she began, adjusting it benignantly, "the man at the desk
told me you two children were up here How do you do, Amory."
Amory watched Myra and waited for the crashbut none came. The
pout faded, the high pink subsided, and Myra's voice was placid
"Oh, we started so late, mama, that I thought we might as well"
He heard from below the shrieks of laughter, and smelled the
vapid odor of hot chocolate and tea-cakes as he silently followed
mother and daughter down-stairs. The sound of the graphophone
mingled with the voices of many girls humming the air, and a
faint glow was born and spread over him:
"Casey-Jonesmounted to the cab-un
Casey-Jones'th his orders in his hand.
Casey-Jonesmounted to the cab-un
Took his farewell journey to the prom-ised land."
SNAPSHOTS OF THE YOUNG EGOTIST
Amory spent nearly two years in Minneapolis. The first winter he
wore moccasins that were born yellow, but after many applications
of oil and dirt assumed their mature color, a dirty, greenish
brown; he wore a gray plaid mackinaw coat, and a red toboggan
cap. His dog, Count Del Monte, ate the red cap, so his uncle gave
him a gray one that pulled down over his face. The trouble with
this one was that you breathed into it and your breath froze; one
day the darn thing froze his cheek. He rubbed snow on his cheek,
but it turned bluish-black just the same.
The Count Del Monte ate a box of bluing once, but it didn't hurt
him. Later, however, he lost his mind and ran madly up the
street, bumping into fences, rolling in gutters, and pursuing his
eccentric course out of Amory's life. Amory cried on his bed.
"Poor little Count," he cried. "Oh, poor little Count!"
After several months he suspected Count of a fine piece of
Amory and Frog Parker considered that the greatest line in
literature occurred in Act III of "Arsene Lupin."
They sat in the first row at the Wednesday and Saturday matinies.
The line was:
"If one can't be a great artist or a great soldier, the next best
thing is to be a great criminal."
Amory fell in love again, and wrote a poem. This was it:
"Marylyn and Sallee,
Those are the girls for me.
Marylyn stands above
Sallee in that sweet, deep love."
He was interested in whether McGovern of Minnesota would make the
first or second All-American, how to do the card-pass, how to do
the coin-pass, chameleon ties, how babies were born, and whether
Three-fingered Brown was really a better pitcher than Christie
Among other things he read: "For the Honor of the School,"
"Little Women" (twice), "The Common Law," "Sapho," "Dangerous Dan
McGrew," "The Broad Highway" (three times), "The Fall of the
House of Usher," "Three Weeks," "Mary Ware, the Little Colonel's
Chum," "Gunga Din," The Police Gazette, and Jim-Jam Jems.
He had all the Henty biasses in history, and was particularly
fond of the cheerful murder stories of Mary Roberts Rinehart.
School ruined his French and gave him a distaste for standard
authors. His masters considered him idle, unreliable and
He collected locks of hair from many girls. He wore the rings of
several. Finally he could borrow no more rings, owing to his
nervous habit of chewing them out of shape. This, it seemed,
usually aroused the jealous suspicions of the next borrower.
week to the Stock Company. Afterward they would stroll home in
the balmy air of August night, dreaming along Hennepin and
Nicollet Avenues, through the gay crowd. Amory wondered how
people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory,
and when faces of the throng turned toward him and ambiguous eyes
stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and
walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of fourteen.
Always, after he was in bed, there were voicesindefinite, fading,
enchantingjust outside his window, and before he fell asleep he
would dream one of his favorite waking dreams, the one about
becoming a great half-back, or the one about the Japanese
invasion, when he was rewarded by being made the youngest general
in the world. It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the
being. This, too, was quite characteristic of Amory.
CODE OF THE YOUNG EGOTIST
Before he was summoned back to Lake Geneva, he had appeared, shy
but inwardly glowing, in his first long trousers, set off by a
purple accordion tie and a "Belmont" collar with the edges
unassailably meeting, purple socks, and handkerchief with a
purple border peeping from his breast pocket. But more than that,
he had formulated his first philosophy, a code to live by, which,
as near as it can be named, was a sort of aristocratic egotism.
He had realized that his best interests were bound up with those
of a certain variant, changing person, whose label, in order that
his past might always be identified with him, was Amory Blaine.
Amory marked himself a fortunate youth, capable of infinite
expansion for good or evil. He did not consider himself a "strong
char'c'ter," but relied on his facility (learn things sorta
quick) and his superior mentality (read a lotta deep books). He
was proud of the fact that he could never become a mechanical or
scientific genius. From no other heights was he debarred.
Physically.Amory thought that he was exceedingly handsome. He
was. He fancied himself an athlete of possibilities and a supple
Socially.Here his condition was, perhaps, most dangerous. He
granted himself personality, charm, magnetism, poise, the power
of dominating all contemporary males, the gift of fascinating all
Mentally.Complete, unquestioned superiority.
Now a confession will have to be made. Amory had rather a Puritan
conscience. Not that he yielded to itlater in life he almost
completely slew itbut at fifteen it made him consider himself a
great deal worse than other boys ... unscrupulousness ... the
desire to influence people in almost every way, even for evil ...
a certain coldness and lack of affection, amounting sometimes to
cruelty ... a shifting sense of honor ... an unholy selfishness
... a puzzled, furtive interest in everything concerning sex.
There was, also, a curious strain of weakness running crosswise
through his make-up ... a harsh phrase from the lips of an older
boy (older boys usually detested him) was liable to sweep him off
his poise into surly sensitiveness, or timid stupidity ... he was
a slave to his own moods and he felt that though he was capable
of recklessness and audacity, he possessed neither courage,
perseverance, nor self-respect.
Vanity, tempered with self-suspicion if not self-knowledge, a
sense of people as automatons to his will, a desire to "pass" as
many boys as possible and get to a vague top of the world ...
with this background did Amory drift into adolescence.
PREPARATORY TO THE GREAT ADVENTURE
The train slowed up with midsummer languor at Lake Geneva, and
Amory caught sight of his mother waiting in her electric on the
gravelled station drive. It was an ancient electric, one of the
early types, and painted gray. The sight of her sitting there,
slenderly erect, and of her face, where beauty and dignity
combined, melting to a dreamy recollected smile, filled him with
a sudden great pride of her. As they kissed coolly and he stepped
into the electric, he felt a quick fear lest he had lost the
requisite charm to measure up to her.
"Dear boyyou're so tall ... look behind and see if there's
She looked left and right, she slipped cautiously into a speed of
two miles an hour, beseeching Amory to act as sentinel; and at
one busy crossing she made him get out and run ahead to signal
her forward like a traffic policeman. Beatrice was what might be
termed a careful driver.
"You are tallbut you're still very handsomeyou've skipped the
awkward age, or is that sixteen; perhaps it's fourteen or
fifteen; I can never remember; but you've skipped it."
"Don't embarrass me," murmured Amory.
"But, my dear boy, what odd clothes! They look as if they were a
setdon't they? Is your underwear purple, too?"
Amory grunted impolitely.
"You must go to Brooks' and get some really nice suits. Oh, we'll
have a talk to-night or perhaps to-morrow night. I want to tell
you about your heartyou've probably been neglecting your heartand
you don't know."
Amory thought how superficial was the recent overlay of his own
generation. Aside from a minute shyness, he felt that the old
cynical kinship with his mother had not been one bit broken. Yet
for the first few days he wandered about the gardens and along
the shore in a state of superloneliness, finding a lethargic
content in smoking "Bull" at the garage with one of the
The sixty acres of the estate were dotted with old and new summer
houses and many fountains and white benches that came suddenly
into sight from foliage-hung hiding-places; there was a great and
constantly increasing family of white cats that prowled the many
flower-beds and were silhouetted suddenly at night against the
darkening trees. It was on one of the shadowy paths that Beatrice
at last captured Amory, after Mr. Blaine had, as usual, retired
for the evening to his private library. After reproving him for
avoiding her, she took him for a long tˆte-`-tjte in the
moonlight. He could not reconcile himself to her beauty, that was
mother to his own, the exquisite neck and shoulders, the grace of
a fortunate woman of thirty.
"Amory, dear," she crooned softly, "I had such a strange, weird
time after I left you."
"Did you, Beatrice?"
"When I had my last breakdown"she spoke of it as a sturdy,
"The doctors told me"her voice sang on a confidential note"that
if any man alive had done the consistent drinking that I have, he
would have been physically shattered, my dear, and in his
gravelong in his grave."
Amory winced, and wondered how this would have sounded to Froggy
"Yes," continued Beatrice tragically, "I had dreamswonderful
saw bronze rivers lapping marble shores, and great birds that
soared through the air, parti-colored birds with iridescent
plumage. I heard strange music and the flare of barbaric
Amory had snickered.
"I said go on, Beatrice."
"That was allit merely recurred and recurredgardens that flaunted
coloring against which this would be quite dull, moons that
whirled and swayed, paler than winter moons, more golden than
"Are you quite well now, Beatrice?"
"Quite wellas well as I will ever be. I am not understood, Amory.
I know that can't express it to you, Amory, butI am not
Amory was quite moved. He put his arm around his mother, rubbing
his head gently against her shoulder.
"Poor Beatricepoor Beatrice."
"Tell me about you, Amory. Did you have two horrible years?"
Amory considered lying, and then decided against it.
"No, Beatrice. I enjoyed them. I adapted myself to the
bourgeoisie. I became conventional." He surprised himself by
saying that, and he pictured how Froggy would have gaped.
"Beatrice," he said suddenly, "I want to go away to school.
Everybody in Minneapolis is going to go away to school."
Beatrice showed some alarm.
"But you're only fifteen."
"Yes, but everybody goes away to school at fifteen, and I want
On Beatrice's suggestion the subject was dropped for the rest of
the walk, but a week later she delighted him by saying:
"Amory, I have decided to let you have your way. If you still
want to, you can go to school."
"To St. Regis's in Connecticut."
Amory felt a quick excitement.
"It's being arranged," continued Beatrice. "It's better that you
should go away. I'd have preferred you to have gone to Eton, and
then to Christ Church, Oxford, but it seems impracticable nowand
for the present we'll let the university question take care of
"What are you going to do, Beatrice?"
"Heaven knows. It seems my fate to fret away my years in this
country. Not for a second do I regret being Americanindeed, I
think that a regret typical of very vulgar people, and I feel
sure we are the great coming nationyet"and she sighed"I feel my
life should have drowsed away close to an older, mellower
civilization, a land of greens and autumnal browns"
Amory did not answer, so his mother continued:
"My regret is that you haven't been abroad, but still, as you are
a man, it's better that you should grow up here under the
snarling eagleis that the right term?"
Amory agreed that it was. She would not have appreciated the
"When do I go to school?"
"Next month. You'll have to start East a little early to take
your examinations. After that you'll have a free week, so I want
you to go up the Hudson and pay a visit."
"To Monsignor Darcy, Amory. He wants to see you. He went to
Harrow and then to Yalebecame a Catholic. I want him to talk to
youI feel he can be such a help" She stroked his auburn hair
gently. "Dear Amory, dear Amory"
So early in September Amory, provided with "six suits summer
underwear, six suits winter underwear, one sweater or T shirt,
one jersey, one overcoat, winter, etc.," set out for New England,
the land of schools.
There were Andover and Exeter with their memories of New England
deadlarge, college-like democracies; St. Mark's, Groton, St.
Regis'recruited from Boston and the Knickerbocker families of New
York; St. Paul's, with its great rinks; Pomfret and St. George's,
prosperous and well-dressed; Taft and Hotchkiss, which prepared
the wealth of the Middle West for social success at Yale;
Pawling, Westminster, Choate, Kent, and a hundred others; all
milling out their well-set-up, conventional, impressive type,
year after year; their mental stimulus the college entrance
exams; their vague purpose set forth in a hundred circulars as
"To impart a Thorough Mental, Moral, and Physical Training as a
Christian Gentleman, to fit the boy for meeting the problems of
his day and generation, and to give a solid foundation in the
Arts and Sciences."
At St. Regis' Amory stayed three days and took his exams with a
scoffing confidence, then doubling back to New York to pay his
tutelary visit. The metropolis, barely glimpsed, made little
impression on him, except for the sense of cleanliness he drew
from the tall white buildings seen from a Hudson River steamboat
in the early morning. Indeed, his mind was so crowded with dreams
of athletic prowess at school that he considered this visit only
as a rather tiresome prelude to the great adventure. This,
however, it did not prove to be.
Monsignor Darcy's house was an ancient, rambling structure set on
a hill overlooking the river, and there lived its owner, between
his trips to all parts of the Roman-Catholic world, rather like
an exiled Stuart king waiting to be called to the rule of his
land. Monsignor was forty-four then, and bustlinga trifle too
stout for symmetry, with hair the color of spun gold, and a
brilliant, enveloping personality. When he came into a room clad
in his full purple regalia from thatch to toe, he resembled a
Turner sunset, and attracted both admiration and attention. He
had written two novels: one of them violently anti-Catholic, just
before his conversion, and five years later another, in which he
had attempted to turn all his clever jibes against Catholics into
even cleverer innuendoes against Episcopalians. He was intensely
ritualistic, startlingly dramatic, loved the idea of God enough
to be a celibate, and rather liked his neighbor.
Children adored him because he was like a child; youth revelled
in his company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be
shocked. In the proper land and century he might have been a
Richelieuat present he was a very moral, very religious (if not
particularly pious) clergyman, making a great mystery about
pulling rusty wires, and appreciating life to the fullest, if not
entirely enjoying it.
He and Amory took to each other at first sightthe jovial,
impressive prelate who could dazzle an embassy ball, and the
green-eyed, intent youth, in his first long trousers, accepted in
their own minds a relation of father and son within a half-hour's
"My dear boy, I've been waiting to see you for years. Take a big
chair and we'll have a chat."
"I've just come from schoolSt. Regis's, you know."
"So your mother saysa remarkable woman; have a cigaretteI'm sure
you smoke. Well, if you're like me, you loathe all science and
Amory nodded vehemently.
"Hate 'em all. Like English and history."
"Of course. You'll hate school for a while, too, but I'm glad
you're going to St. Regis's."
so early. You'll find plenty of that in college."
"I want to go to Princeton," said Amory. "I don't know why, but I
think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all
Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes."
"I'm one, you know."
"Oh, you're differentI think of Princeton as being lazy and
good-looking and aristocraticyou know, like a spring day. Harvard
seems sort of indoors"
"And Yale is November, crisp and energetic," finished Monsignor.
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never
"I was for Bonnie Prince Charlie," announced Amory.
"Of course you wereand for Hannibal"
"Yes, and for the Southern Confederacy." He was rather sceptical
about being an Irish patriothe suspected that being Irish was
being somewhat commonbut Monsignor assured him that Ireland was a
romantic lost cause and Irish people quite charming, and that it
should, by all means, be one of his principal biasses.
After a crowded hour which included several more cigarettes, and
during which Monsignor learned, to his surprise but not to his
horror, that Amory had not been brought up a Catholic, he
announced that he had another guest. This turned out to be the
Honorable Thornton Hancock, of Boston, ex-minister to The Hague,
author of an erudite history of the Middle Ages and the last of a
distinguished, patriotic, and brilliant family.
"He comes here for a rest," said Monsignor confidentially,
treating Amory as a contemporary. "I act as an escape from the
weariness of agnosticism, and I think I'm the only man who knows
how his staid old mind is really at sea and longs for a sturdy
spar like the Church to cling to."
Their first luncheon was one of the memorable events of Amory's
early life. He was quite radiant and gave off a peculiar
brightness and charm. Monsignor called out the best that he had
thought by question and suggestion, and Amory talked with an
ingenious brilliance of a thousand impulses and desires and
repulsions and faiths and fears. He and Monsignor held the floor,
and the older man, with his less receptive, less accepting, yet
certainly not colder mentality, seemed content to listen and bask
in the mellow sunshine that played between these two. Monsignor
gave the effect of sunlight to many people; Amory gave it in his
youth and, to some extent, when he was very much older, but never
again was it quite so mutually spontaneous.
"He's a radiant boy," thought Thornton Hancock, who had seen the
splendor of two continents and talked with Parnell and Gladstone
and Bismarckand afterward he added to Monsignor: "But his
education ought not to be intrusted to a school or college."
But for the next four years the best of Amory's intellect was
concentrated on matters of popularity, the intricacies of a
university social system and American Society as represented by
Biltmore Teas and Hot Springs golf-links.
...In all, a wonderful week, that saw Amory's mind turned inside
out, a hundred of his theories confirmed, and his joy of life
crystallized to a thousand ambitions. Not that the conversation
was scholasticheaven forbid! Amory had only the vaguest idea as
to what Bernard Shaw wasbut Monsignor made quite as much out of
"The Beloved Vagabond" and "Sir Nigel," taking good care that
Amory never once felt out of his depth.
But the trumpets were sounding for Amory's preliminary skirmish
with his own generation.
"You're not sorry to go, of course. With people like us our home
is where we are not," said Monsignor.
"I am sorry"
"No, you're not. No one person in the world is necessary to you
or to me."
THE EGOTIST DOWN
Amory's two years at St. Regis', though in turn painful and
triumphant, had as little real significance in his own life as
the American "prep" school, crushed as it is under the heel of
the universities, has to American life in general. We have no
Eton to create the self-consciousness of a governing class; we
have, instead, clean, flaccid and innocuous preparatory schools.
He went all wrong at the start, was generally considered both
conceited and arrogant, and universally detested. He played
football intensely, alternating a reckless brilliancy with a
tendency to keep himself as safe from hazard as decency would
permit. In a wild panic he backed out of a fight with a boy his
own size, to a chorus of scorn, and a week later, in desperation,
picked a battle with another boy very much bigger, from which he
emerged badly beaten, but rather proud of himself.
He was resentful against all those in authority over him, and
this, combined with a lazy indifference toward his work,
exasperated every master in school. He grew discouraged and
imagined himself a pariah; took to sulking in corners and reading
after lights. With a dread of being alone he attached a few
friends, but since they were not among the ilite of the school,
he used them simply as mirrors of himself, audiences before which
he might do that posing absolutely essential to him. He was
unbearably lonely, desperately unhappy.
There were some few grains of comfort. Whenever Amory was
submerged, his vanity was the last part to go below the surface,
so he could still enjoy a comfortable glow when "Wookey-wookey,"
the deaf old housekeeper, told him that he was the best-looking
boy she had ever seen. It had pleased him to be the lightest and
youngest man on the first football squad; it pleased him when
Doctor Dougall told him at the end of a heated conference that he
could, if he wished, get the best marks in school. But Doctor
Dougall was wrong. It was temperamentally impossible for Amory to
get the best marks in school.
Miserable, confined to bounds, unpopular with both faculty and
studentsthat was Amory's first term. But at Christmas he had
returned to Minneapolis, tight-lipped and strangely jubilant.
"Oh, I was sort of fresh at first," he told Frog Parker
patronizingly, "but I got along finelightest man on the squad.
You ought to go away to school, Froggy. It's great stuff."
INCIDENT OF THE WELL-MEANING PROFESSOR
On the last night of his first term, Mr. Margotson, the senior
master, sent word to study hall that Amory was to come to his
room at nine. Amory suspected that advice was forthcoming, but he
determined to be courteous, because this Mr. Margotson had been
kindly disposed toward him.
His summoner received him gravely, and motioned him to a chair.
He hemmed several times and looked consciously kind, as a man
will when he knows he's on delicate ground.
"Amory," he began. "I've sent for you on a personal matter."
"I've noticed you this year and II like you. I think you have in
you the makings of aa very good man."
"Yes, sir," Amory managed to articulate. He hated having people
talk as if he were an admitted failure.
"But I've noticed," continued the older man blindly, "that you're
not very popular with the boys."
"No, sir." Amory licked his lips.
"AhI thought you might not understand exactly what it was
theyahobjected to. I'm going to tell you, because I believeahthat
when a boy knows his difficulties he's better able to cope with
themto conform to what others expect of him." He a-hemmed again
with delicate reticence, and continued: "They seem to think that
you'reahrather too fresh"
Amory could stand no more. He rose from his chair, scarcely
controlling his voice when he spoke.
"I knowoh, don't you s'pose I know." His voice rose. "I know what
they think; do you s'pose you have to tell me!" He paused.
"I'mI've got to go back nowhope I'm not rude"
He left the room hurriedly. In the cool air outside, as he walked
to his house, he exulted in his refusal to be helped.
"That damn old fool!" he cried wildly. "As if I didn't know!"
He decided, however, that this was a good excuse not to go back
to study hall that night, so, comfortably couched up in his room,
he munched nabiscos and finished "The White Company."
INCIDENT OF THE WONDERFUL GIRL
There was a bright star in February. New York burst upon him on
Washington's Birthday with the brilliance of a long-anticipated
event. His glimpse of it as a vivid whiteness against a deep-blue
sky had left a picture of splendor that rivalled the dream cities
in the Arabian Nights; but this time he saw it by electric light,
and romance gleamed from the chariot-race sign on Broadway and
from the women's eyes at the Astor, where he and young Paskert
from St. Regis' had dinner. When they walked down the aisle of
the theatre, greeted by the nervous twanging and discord of
untuned violins and the sensuous, heavy fragrance of paint and
powder, he moved in a sphere of epicurean delight. Everything
enchanted him. The play was "The Little Millionaire," with George
M. Cohan, and there was one stunning young brunette who made him
sit with brimming eyes in the ecstasy of watching her dance.
What a wonderful girl you are"
sang the tenor, and Amory agreed silently, but passionately.
Thrill me through"
The violins swelled and quavered on the last notes, the girl sank
to a crumpled butterfly on the stage, a great burst of clapping
filled the house. Oh, to fall in love like that, to the
languorous magic melody of such a tune!
to the musical moon, while light adventure and facile froth-like
comedy flitted back and forth in the calcium. Amory was on fire
to be an habitui of roof-gardens, to meet a girl who should look
like thatbetter, that very girl; whose hair would be drenched
with golden moonlight, while at his elbow sparkling wine was
poured by an unintelligible waiter. When the curtain fell for the
last time he gave such a long sigh that the people in front of
him twisted around and stared and said loud enough for him to
"What a remarkable-looking boy!"
This took his mind off the play, and he wondered if he really did
seem handsome to the population of New York.
Paskert and he walked in silence toward their hotel. The former
was the first to speak. His uncertain fifteen-year-old voice
broke in in a melancholy strain on Amory's musings:
"I'd marry that girl to-night."
There was no need to ask what girl he referred to.
"I'd be proud to take her home and introduce her to my people,"
Amory was distinctly impressed. He wished he had said it instead
of Paskert. It sounded so mature.
"I wonder about actresses; are they all pretty bad?"
"No, sir, not by a darn sight," said the worldly youth with
emphasis, "and I know that girl's as good as gold. I can tell."
They wandered on, mixing in the Broadway crowd, dreaming on the
music that eddied out of the cafis. New faces flashed on and off
like myriad lights, pale or rouged faces, tired, yet sustained by
a weary excitement. Amory watched them in fascination. He was
planning his life. He was going to live in New York, and be known
at every restaurant and cafi, wearing a dress-suit from early
evening to early morning, sleeping away the dull hours of the
"Yes, sir, I'd marry that girl to-night!"
HEROIC IN GENERAL TONE
October of his second and last year at St. Regis' was a high
point in Amory's memory. The game with Groton was played from
three of a snappy, exhilarating afternoon far into the crisp
autumnal twilight, and Amory at quarter-back, exhorting in wild
despair, making impossible tackles, calling signals in a voice
that had diminished to a hoarse, furious whisper, yet found time
to revel in the blood-stained bandage around his head, and the
straining, glorious heroism of plunging, crashing bodies and
aching limbs. For those minutes courage flowed like wine out of
the November dusk, and he was the eternal hero, one with the
sea-rover on the prow of a Norse galley, one with Roland and
Horatius, Sir Nigel and Ted Coy, scraped and stripped into trim
and then flung by his own will into the breach, beating back the
tide, hearing from afar the thunder of cheers ... finally bruised
and weary, but still elusive, circling an end, twisting, changing
pace, straight-arming ... falling behind the Groton goal with two
men on his legs, in the only touchdown of the game.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE SLICKER
From the scoffing superiority of sixth-form year and success
Amory looked back with cynical wonder on his status of the year
before. He was changed as completely as Amory Blaine could ever
be changed. Amory plus Beatrice plus two years in
Minneapolisthese had been his ingredients when he entered St.
Regis'. But the Minneapolis years were not a thick enough overlay
to conceal the "Amory plus Beatrice" from the ferreting eyes of a
boarding-school, so St. Regis' had very painfully drilled
Beatrice out of him, and begun to lay down new and more
conventional planking on the fundamental Amory. But both St.
Regis' and Amory were unconscious of the fact that this
fundamental Amory had not in himself changed. Those qualities for
which he had suffered, his moodiness, his tendency to pose, his
laziness, and his love of playing the fool, were now taken as a
matter of course, recognized eccentricities in a star
quarter-back, a clever actor, and the editor of the St. Regis
Tattler: it puzzled him to see impressionable small boys
imitating the very vanities that had not long ago been
After the football season he slumped into dreamy content. The
night of the pre-holiday dance he slipped away and went early to
bed for the pleasure of hearing the violin music cross the grass
and come surging in at his window. Many nights he lay there
dreaming awake of secret cafis in Mont Martre, where ivory women
delved in romantic mysteries with diplomats and soldiers of
fortune, while orchestras played Hungarian waltzes and the air
was thick and exotic with intrigue and moonlight and adventure.
In the spring he read "L'Allegro," by request, and was inspired
to lyrical outpourings on the subject of Arcady and the pipes of
Pan. He moved his bed so that the sun would wake him at dawn that
he might dress and go out to the archaic swing that hung from an
apple-tree near the sixth-form house. Seating himself in this he
would pump higher and higher until he got the effect of swinging
into the wide air, into a fairy-land of piping satyrs and nymphs
with the faces of fair-haired girls he passed in the streets of
Eastchester. As the swing reached its highest point, Arcady
really lay just over the brow of a certain hill, where the brown
road dwindled out of sight in a golden dot.
He read voluminously all spring, the beginning of his eighteenth
year: "The Gentleman from Indiana," "The New Arabian Nights,"
"The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne," "The Man Who Was Thursday," which
he liked without understanding; "Stover at Yale," that became
somewhat of a text-book; "Dombey and Son," because he thought he
really should read better stuff; Robert Chambers, David Graham
Phillips, and E. Phillips Oppenheim complete, and a scattering of
Tennyson and Kipling. Of all his class work only "L'Allegro" and
some quality of rigid clarity in solid geometry stirred his
As June drew near, he felt the need of conversation to formulate
his own ideas, and, to his surprise, found a co-philosopher in
Rahill, the president of the sixth form. In many a talk, on the
highroad or lying belly-down along the edge of the baseball
diamond, or late at night with their cigarettes glowing in the
dark, they threshed out the questions of school, and there was
developed the term "slicker."
"Got tobacco?" whispered Rahill one night, putting his head
inside the door five minutes after lights.
"I'm coming in."
"Take a couple of pillows and lie in the window-seat, why don't
Amory sat up in bed and lit a cigarette while Rahill settled for
a conversation. Rahill's favorite subject was the respective
futures of the sixth form, and Amory never tired of outlining
them for his benefit.
at Harstrum's, get into Sheff with about four conditions, and
flunk out in the middle of the freshman year. Then he'll go back
West and raise hell for a year or so; finally his father will
make him go into the paint business. He'll marry and have four
sons, all bone heads. He'll always think St. Regis's spoiled him,
so he'll send his sons to day school in Portland. He'll die of
locomotor ataxia when he's forty-one, and his wife will give a
baptizing stand or whatever you call it to the Presbyterian
Church, with his name on it"
"Hold up, Amory. That's too darned gloomy. How about yourself?"
"I'm in a superior class. You are, too. We're philosophers."
"Sure you are. You've got a darn good head on you." But Amory
knew that nothing in the abstract, no theory or generality, ever
moved Rahill until he stubbed his toe upon the concrete minutif
"Haven't," insisted Rahill. "I let people impose on me here and
don't get anything out of it. I'm the prey of my friends, damn
itdo their lessons, get 'em out of trouble, pay 'em stupid summer
visits, and always entertain their kid sisters; keep my temper
when they get selfish and then they think they pay me back by
voting for me and telling me I'm the 'big man' of St. Regis's. I
want to get where everybody does their own work and I can tell
people where to go. I'm tired of being nice to every poor fish in
"You're not a slicker," said Amory suddenly.
"What the devil's that?"
"Well, it's something thatthatthere's a lot of them. You're not
one, and neither am I, though I am more than you are."
"Who is one? What makes you one?"
"Whywhy, I suppose that the sign of it is when a fellow slicks
his hair back with water."
"Yessure. He's a slicker."
They spent two evenings getting an exact definition. The slicker
was good-looking or clean-looking; he had brains, social brains,
that is, and he used all means on the broad path of honesty to
get ahead, be popular, admired, and never in trouble. He dressed
well, was particularly neat in appearance, and derived his name
from the fact that his hair was inevitably worn short, soaked in
water or tonic, parted in the middle, and slicked back as the
current of fashion dictated. The slickers of that year had
adopted tortoise-shell spectacles as badges of their slickerhood,
and this made them so easy to recognize that Amory and Rahill
never missed one. The slicker seemed distributed through school,
always a little wiser and shrewder than his contemporaries,
managing some team or other, and keeping his cleverness carefully
Amory found the slicker a most valuable classification until his
junior year in college, when the outline became so blurred and
indeterminate that it had to be subdivided many times, and became
only a quality. Amory's secret ideal had all the slicker
qualifications, but, in addition, courage and tremendous brains
and talentsalso Amory conceded him a bizarre streak that was
quite irreconcilable to the slicker proper.
This was a first real break from the hypocrisy of school
tradition. The slicker was a definite element of success,
differing intrinsically from the prep school "big man."
1.Clever sense of social values. 2.Dresses well. Pretends that
dress is superficialbut knows that it isn't. 3.Goes into such
activities as he can shine in. 4.Gets to college and is, in a
worldly way, successful. 5.Hair slicked.
"THE BIG MAN"
1.Inclined to stupidity and unconscious of social values.
2.Thinks dress is superficial, and is inclined to be careless
about it. 3.Goes out for everything from a sense of duty. 4.Gets
to college and has a problematical future. Feels lost without his
circle, and always says that school days were happiest, after
all. Goes back to school and makes speeches about what St.
Regis's boys are doing. 5.Hair not slicked.
Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even though he would
be the only boy entering that year from St. Regis'. Yale had a
romance and glamour from the tales of Minneapolis, and St. Regis'
men who had been "tapped for Skull and Bones," but Princeton drew
him most, with its atmosphere of bright colors and its alluring
reputation as the pleasantest country club in America. Dwarfed by
the menacing college exams, Amory's school days drifted into the
past. Years afterward, when he went back to St. Regis', he seemed
to have forgotten the successes of sixth-form year, and to be
able to picture himself only as the unadjustable boy who had
hurried down corridors, jeered at by his rabid contemporaries mad
with common sense.
The Romantic Egotist
Spires and Gargoyles
AT FIRST Amory noticed only the wealth of sunshine creeping
across the long, green swards, dancing on the leaded
window-panes, and swimming around the tops of spires and towers
and battlemented walls. Gradually he realized that he was really
walking up University Place, self-conscious about his suitcase,
developing a new tendency to glare straight ahead when he passed
any one. Several times he could have sworn that men turned to
look at him critically. He wondered vaguely if there was
something the matter with his clothes, and wished he had shaved
that morning on the train. He felt unnecessarily stiff and
awkward among these white-flannelled, bareheaded youths, who must
be juniors and seniors, judging from the savoir faire with which
He found that 12 University Place was a large, dilapidated
mansion, at present apparently uninhabited, though he knew it
housed usually a dozen freshmen. After a hurried skirmish with
his landlady he sallied out on a tour of exploration, but he had
gone scarcely a block when he became horribly conscious that he
must be the only man in town who was wearing a hat. He returned
hurriedly to 12 University, left his derby, and, emerging
bareheaded, loitered down Nassau Street, stopping to investigate
a display of athletic photographs in a store window, including a
large one of Allenby, the football captain, and next attracted by
the sign "Jigger Shop" over a confectionary window. This sounded
familiar, so he sauntered in and took a seat on a high stool.
"Chocolate sundae," he told a colored person.
"Double chocolate jiggah? Anything else?"
He munched four of these, finding them of pleasing savor, and
then consumed another double-chocolate jigger before ease
descended upon him. After a cursory inspection of the
pillow-cases, leather pennants, and Gibson Girls that lined the
walls, he left, and continued along Nassau Street with his hands
in his pockets. Gradually he was learning to distinguish between
upper classmen and entering men, even though the freshman cap
would not appear until the following Monday. Those who were too
obviously, too nervously at home were freshmen, for as each train
brought a new contingent it was immediately absorbed into the
hatless, white-shod, book-laden throng, whose function seemed to
be to drift endlessly up and down the street, emitting great
clouds of smoke from brand-new pipes. By afternoon Amory realized
that now the newest arrivals were taking him for an upper
classman, and he tried conscientiously to look both pleasantly
blasi and casually critical, which was as near as he could
analyze the prevalent facial expression.
At five o'clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice, so he
retreated to his house to see if any one else had arrived. Having
climbed the rickety stairs he scrutinized his room resignedly,
concluding that it was hopeless to attempt any more inspired
decoration than class banners and tiger pictures. There was a tap
at the door.
A slim face with gray eyes and a humorous smile appeared in the
"Got a hammer?"
"Nosorry. Maybe Mrs. Twelve, or whatever she goes by, has one."
The stranger advanced into the room.
"You an inmate of this asylum?"
"Awful barn for the rent we pay."
Amory had to agree that it was.
"I thought of the campus," he said, "but they say there's so few
freshmen that they're lost. Have to sit around and study for
something to do."
The gray-eyed man decided to introduce himself.
"My name's Holiday."
"Blaine's my name."
They shook hands with the fashionable low swoop. Amory grinned.
"Where'd you prep?"
"Andoverwhere did you?"
"Oh, did you? I had a cousin there."
They discussed the cousin thoroughly, and then Holiday announced
that he was to meet his brother for dinner at six.
"Come along and have a bite with us."
At the Kenilworth Amory met Burne Holidayhe of the gray eyes was
Kerryand during a limpid meal of thin soup and anfmic vegetables
they stared at the other freshmen, who sat either in small groups
looking very ill at ease, or in large groups seeming very much at
"I hear Commons is pretty bad," said Amory.
"That's the rumor. But you've got to eat thereor pay anyways."
"Oh, at Princeton you've got to swallow everything the first
year. It's like a damned prep school."
"Lot of pep, though," he insisted. "I wouldn't have gone to Yale
for a million."
"You going out for anything?" inquired Amory of the elder
"Not meBurne here is going out for the Princethe Daily
Princetonian, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"You going out for anything?"
"Whyyes. I'm going to take a whack at freshman football."
"Play at St. Regis's?"
"Some," admitted Amory depreciatingly, "but I'm getting so damned
"Well, I used to be stocky last fall."
After supper they attended the movies, where Amory was fascinated
by the glib comments of a man in front of him, as well as by the
wild yelling and shouting.
"Oh, honey-babyyou're so big and strong, but oh, so gentle!"
"Kiss her, kiss 'at lady, quick!"
A group began whistling "By the Sea," and the audience took it up
noisily. This was followed by an indistinguishable song that
included much stamping and then by an endless, incoherent dirge.
She works in a Jam Factoree
But you can't-fool-me
For I knowDAMNWELL
That she DON'T-make-jam-all-night!
As they pushed out, giving and receiving curious impersonal
glances, Amory decided that he liked the movies, wanted to enjoy
them as the row of upper classmen in front had enjoyed them, with
their arms along the backs of the seats, their comments Gaelic
and caustic, their attitude a mixture of critical wit and
"Want a sundaeI mean a jigger?" asked Kerry.
They suppered heavily and then, still sauntering, eased back to
"It's a whiz."
"You men going to unpack?"
"Guess so. Come on, Burne."
Amory decided to sit for a while on the front steps, so he bade
them good night.
The great tapestries of trees had darkened to ghosts back at the
last edge of twilight. The early moon had drenched the arches
with pale blue, and, weaving over the night, in and out of the
gossamer rifts of moon, swept a song, a song with more than a
hint of sadness, infinitely transient, infinitely regretful.
He remembered that an alumnus of the nineties had told him of one
of Booth Tarkington's amusements: standing in mid-campus in the
small hours and singing tenor songs to the stars, arousing
mingled emotions in the couched undergraduates according to the
sentiment of their moods.
Now, far down the shadowy line of University Place a white-clad
phalanx broke the gloom, and marching figures, white-shirted,
white-trousered, swung rhythmically up the street, with linked
arms and heads thrown back:
"Going backgoing back,
Going backgoing back
Going backgoing back,
Amory closed his eyes as the ghostly procession drew near. The
song soared so high that all dropped out except the tenors, who
bore the melody triumphantly past the danger-point and
relinquished it to the fantastic chorus. Then Amory opened his
eyes, half afraid that sight would spoil the rich illusion of
He sighed eagerly. There at the head of the white platoon marched
Allenby, the football captain, slim and defiant, as if aware that
this year the hopes of the college rested on him, that his
hundred-and-sixty pounds were expected to dodge to victory
through the heavy blue and crimson lines.
Fascinated, Amory watched each rank of linked arms as it came
abreast, the faces indistinct above the polo shirts, the voices
blent in a pfan of triumphand then the procession passed through
shadowy Campbell Arch, and the voices grew fainter as it wound
eastward over the campus.
The minutes passed and Amory sat there very quietly. He regretted
the rule that would forbid freshmen to be outdoors after curfew,
for he wanted to ramble through the shadowy scented lanes, where
Witherspoon brooded like a dark mother over Whig and Clio, her
Attic children, where the black Gothic snake of Little curled
down to Cuyler and Patton, these in turn flinging the mystery out
over the placid slope rolling to the lake.
consciousnessWest and Reunion, redolent of the sixties,
Seventy-nine Hall, brick-red and arrogant, Upper and Lower Pyne,
aristocratic Elizabethan ladies not quite content to live among
shopkeepers, and, topping all, climbing with clear blue
aspiration, the great dreaming spires of Holder and Cleveland
From the first he loved Princetonits lazy beauty, its
half-grasped significance, the wild moonlight revel of the
rushes, the handsome, prosperous big-game crowds, and under it
all the air of struggle that pervaded his class. From the day
when, wild-eyed and exhausted, the jerseyed freshmen sat in the
gymnasium and elected some one from Hill School class president,
a Lawrenceville celebrity vice-president, a hockey star from St.
Paul's secretary, up until the end of sophomore year it never
ceased, that breathless social system, that worship, seldom
named, never really admitted, of the bogey "Big Man."
First it was schools, and Amory, alone from St. Regis', watched
the crowds form and widen and form again; St. Paul's, Hill,
Pomfret, eating at certain tacitly reserved tables in Commons,
dressing in their own corners of the gymnasium, and drawing
unconsciously about them a barrier of the slightly less important
but socially ambitious to protect them from the friendly, rather
puzzled high-school element. From the moment he realized this
Amory resented social barriers as artificial distinctions made by
the strong to bolster up their weak retainers and keep out the
Having decided to be one of the gods of the class, he reported
for freshman football practice, but in the second week, playing
quarter-back, already paragraphed in corners of the Princetonian,
he wrenched his knee seriously enough to put him out for the rest
of the season. This forced him to retire and consider the
"12 Univee" housed a dozen miscellaneous question-marks. There
were three or four inconspicuous and quite startled boys from
Lawrenceville, two amateur wild men from a New York private
school (Kerry Holiday christened them the "plebeian drunks"), a
Jewish youth, also from New York, and, as compensation for Amory,
the two Holidays, to whom he took an instant fancy.
The Holidays were rumored twins, but really the dark-haired one,
Kerry, was a year older than his blond brother, Burne. Kerry was
tall, with humorous gray eyes, and a sudden, attractive smile; he
became at once the mentor of the house, reaper of ears that grew
too high, censor of conceit, vendor of rare, satirical humor.
Amory spread the table of their future friendship with all his
ideas of what college should and did mean. Kerry, not inclined as
yet to take things seriously, chided him gently for being curious
at this inopportune time about the intricacies of the social
system, but liked him and was both interested and amused.
Burne, fair-haired, silent, and intent, appeared in the house
only as a busy apparition, gliding in quietly at night and off
again in the early morning to get up his work in the libraryhe
was out for the Princetonian, competing furiously against forty
others for the coveted first place. In December he came down with
diphtheria, and some one else won the competition, but, returning
to college in February, he dauntlessly went after the prize
again. Necessarily, Amory's acquaintance with him was in the way
of three-minute chats, walking to and from lectures, so he failed
to penetrate Burne's one absorbing interest and find what lay
Amory was far from contented. He missed the place he had won at
St. Regis', the being known and admired, yet Princeton stimulated
him, and there were many things ahead calculated to arouse the
Machiavelli latent in him, could he but insert a wedge. The
upper-class clubs, concerning which he had pumped a reluctant
graduate during the previous summer, excited his curiosity: Ivy,
detached and breathlessly aristocratic; Cottage, an impressive
milange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed philanderers;
Tiger Inn, broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by an honest
elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown,
anti-alcoholic, faintly religious and politically powerful;
flamboyant Colonial; literary Quadrangle; and the dozen others,
varying in age and position.
Anything which brought an under classman into too glaring a light
was labelled with the damning brand of "running it out." The
movies thrived on caustic comments, but the men who made them
were generally running it out; talking of clubs was running it
out; standing for anything very strongly, as, for instance,
drinking parties or teetotalling, was running it out; in short,
being personally conspicuous was not tolerated, and the
influential man was the non-committal man, until at club
elections in sophomore year every one should be sewed up in some
bag for the rest of his college career.
Amory found that writing for the Nassau Literary Magazine would
get him nothing, but that being on the board of the Daily
Princetonian would get any one a good deal. His vague desire to
do immortal acting with the English Dramatic Association faded
out when he found that the most ingenious brains and talents were
concentrated upon the Triangle Club, a musical comedy
organization that every year took a great Christmas trip. In the
meanwhile, feeling strangely alone and restless in Commons, with
new desires and ambitions stirring in his mind, he let the first
term go by between an envy of the embryo successes and a puzzled
fretting with Kerry as to why they were not accepted immediately
among the ilite of the class.
Many afternoons they lounged in the windows of 12 Univee and
watched the class pass to and from Commons, noting satellites
already attaching themselves to the more prominent, watching the
lonely grind with his hurried step and downcast eye, envying the
happy security of the big school groups.
"We're the damned middle class, that's what!" he complained to
Kerry one day as he lay stretched out on the sofa, consuming a
family of Fatimas with contemplative precision.
"Well, why not? We came to Princeton so we could feel that way
toward the small collegeshave it on 'em, more self-confidence,
dress better, cut a swathe"
"Oh, it isn't that I mind the glittering caste system," admitted
Amory. "I like having a bunch of hot cats on top, but gosh,
Kerry, I've got to be one of them."
"But just now, Amory, you're only a sweaty bourgeois."
Amory lay for a moment without speaking.
"I won't belong," he said finally. "But I hate to get anywhere by
working for it. I'll show the marks, don't you know."
"Honorable scars." Kerry craned his neck suddenly at the street.
"There's Langueduc, if you want to see what he looks likeand
Humbird just behind."
Amory rose dynamically and sought the windows.
"Oh," he said, scrutinizing these worthies, "Humbird looks like a
knockout, but this Langueduche's the rugged type, isn't he? I
distrust that sort. All diamonds look big in the rough."
"Well," said Kerry, as the excitement subsided, "you're a
literary genius. It's up to you."
"I wonder"Amory paused"if I could be. I honestly think so
sometimes. That sounds like the devil, and I wouldn't say it to
anybody except you."
"Wellgo ahead. Let your hair grow and write poems like this guy
D'Invilliers in the Lit."
Amory reached lazily at a pile of magazines on the table.
"Read his latest effort?"
"Never miss 'em. They're rare."
"Hello!" he said in surprise, "he's a freshman, isn't he?"
"Listen to this! My God!
"'A serving lady speaks:
Black velvet trails its folds over the day,
White tapers, prisoned in their silver frames,
Wave their thin flames like shadows in the wind,
Pia, Pompia, comecome away'
"Now, what the devil does that mean?"
"It's a pantry scene."
"'Her toes are stiffened like a stork's in flight;
She's laid upon her bed, on the white sheets,
Her hands pressed on her smooth bust like a saint,
Bella Cunizza, come into the light!'
"My gosh, Kerry, what in hell is it all about? I swear I don't
get him at all, and I'm a literary bird myself."
"It's pretty tricky," said Kerry, "only you've got to think of
hearses and stale milk when you read it. That isn't as pash as
some of them."
Amory tossed the magazine on the table.
"Well," he sighed, "I sure am up in the air. I know I'm not a
regular fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't
decide whether to cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist, or
to thumb my nose at the Golden Treasury and be a Princeton
"Why decide?" suggested Kerry. "Better drift, like me. I'm going
to sail into prominence on Burne's coat-tails."
"I can't driftI want to be interested. I want to pull strings,
even for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle
president. I want to be admired, Kerry."
"You're thinking too much about yourself."
Amory sat up at this.
"No. I'm thinking about you, too. We've got to get out and mix
around the class right now, when it's fun to be a snob. I'd like
to bring a sardine to the prom in June, for instance, but I
wouldn't do it unless I could be damn debonaire about itintroduce
her to all the prize parlor-snakes, and the football captain, and
all that simple stuff."
"Amory," said Kerry impatiently, "you're just going around in a
circle. If you want to be prominent, get out and try for
something; if you don't, just take it easy." He yawned. "Come on,
let's let the smoke drift off. We'll go down and watch football
Amory gradually accepted this point of view, decided that next
fall would inaugurate his career, and relinquished himself to
watching Kerry extract joy from 12 Univee.
They filled the Jewish youth's bed with lemon pie; they put out
the gas all over the house every night by blowing into the jet in
Amory's room, to the bewilderment of Mrs. Twelve and the local
plumber; they set up the effects of the plebeian drunkspictures,
books, and furniturein the bathroom, to the confusion of the
pair, who hazily discovered the transposition on their return
from a Trenton spree; they were disappointed beyond measure when
the plebeian drunks decided to take it as a joke; they played
red-dog and twenty-one and jackpot from dinner to dawn, and on
the occasion of one man's birthday persuaded him to buy
sufficient champagne for a hilarious celebration. The donor of
the party having remained sober, Kerry and Amory accidentally
dropped him down two flights of stairs and called, shame-faced
and penitent, at the infirmary all the following week.
"Say, who are all these women?" demanded Kerry one day,
protesting at the size of Amory's mail. "I've been looking at the
postmarks latelyFarmington and Dobbs and Westover and Dana
Hallwhat's the idea?"
"All from the Twin Cities." He named them off. "There's Marylyn
De Wittshe's pretty, got a car of her own and that's damn
convenient; there's Sally Weatherbyshe's getting too fat; there's
Myra St. Claire, she's an old flame, easy to kiss if you like it"
"What line do you throw 'em?" demanded Kerry. "I've tried
everything, and the mad wags aren't even afraid of me."
"You're the 'nice boy' type," suggested Amory.
"That's just it. Mother always feels the girl is safe if she's
with me. Honestly, it's annoying. If I start to hold somebody's
hand, they laugh at me, and let me, just as if it wasn't part of
them. As soon as I get hold of a hand they sort of disconnect it
from the rest of them."
"Sulk," suggested Amory. "Tell 'em you're wild and have 'em
reform yougo home furiouscome back in half an hourstartle 'em."
Kerry shook his head.
"No chance. I wrote a St. Timothy girl a really loving letter
last year. In one place I got rattled and said: 'My God, how I
love you!' She took a nail scissors, clipped out the 'My God' and
showed the rest of the letter all over school. Doesn't work at
all. I'm just 'good old Kerry' and all that rot."
Amory smiled and tried to picture himself as "good old Amory." He
February dripped snow and rain, the cyclonic freshman mid-years
passed, and life in 12 Univee continued interesting if not
purposeful. Once a day Amory indulged in a club sandwich,
cornflakes, and Julienne potatoes at "Joe's," accompanied usually
by Kerry or Alec Connage. The latter was a quiet, rather aloof
slicker from Hotchkiss, who lived next door and shared the same
enforced singleness as Amory, due to the fact that his entire
class had gone to Yale. "Joe's" was unfsthetic and faintly
unsanitary, but a limitless charge account could be opened there,
a convenience that Amory appreciated. His father had been
experimenting with mining stocks and, in consequence, his
allowance, while liberal, was not at all what he had expected.
"Joe's" had the additional advantage of seclusion from curious
upper-class eyes, so at four each afternoon Amory, accompanied by
friend or book, went up to experiment with his digestion. One day
in March, finding that all the tables were occupied, he slipped
into a chair opposite a freshman who bent intently over a book at
the last table. They nodded briefly. For twenty minutes Amory sat
consuming bacon buns and reading "Mrs. Warren's Profession" (he
had discovered Shaw quite by accident while browsing in the
library during mid-years); the other freshman, also intent on his
volume, meanwhile did away with a trio of chocolate malted milks.
book. He spelled out the name and title upside down"Marpessa," by
Stephen Phillips. This meant nothing to him, his metrical
education having been confined to such Sunday classics as "Come
into the Garden, Maude," and what morsels of Shakespeare and
Milton had been recently forced upon him.
Moved to address his vis-`-vis, he simulated interest in his book
for a moment, and then exclaimed aloud as if involuntarily:
"Ha! Great stuff!"
The other freshman looked up and Amory registered artificial
"Are you referring to your bacon buns?" His cracked, kindly voice
went well with the large spectacles and the impression of a
voluminous keenness that he gave.
"No," Amory answered. "I was referring to Bernard Shaw." He
turned the book around in explanation.
"I've never read any Shaw. I've always meant to." The boy paused
and then continued: "Did you ever read Stephen Phillips, or do
you like poetry?"
"Yes, indeed," Amory affirmed eagerly. "I've never read much of
Phillips, though." (He had never heard of any Phillips except the
late David Graham.)
"It's pretty fair, I think. Of course he's a Victorian." They
sallied into a discussion of poetry, in the course of which they
introduced themselves, and Amory's companion proved to be none
other than "that awful highbrow, Thomas Parke D'Invilliers," who
signed the passionate love-poems in the Lit. He was, perhaps,
nineteen, with stooped shoulders, pale blue eyes, and, as Amory
could tell from his general appearance, without much conception
of social competition and such phenomena of absorbing interest.
Still, he liked books, and it seemed forever since Amory had met
any one who did; if only that St. Paul's crowd at the next table
would not mistake him for a bird, too, he would enjoy the
encounter tremendously. They didn't seem to be noticing, so he
let himself go, discussed books by the dozensbooks he had read,
read about, books he had never heard of, rattling off lists of
titles with the facility of a Brentano's clerk. D'Invilliers was
partially taken in and wholly delighted. In a good-natured way he
had almost decided that Princeton was one part deadly Philistines
and one part deadly grinds, and to find a person who could
mention Keats without stammering, yet evidently washed his hands,
was rather a treat.
"Ever read any Oscar Wilde?" he asked.
"No. Who wrote it?"
"It's a mandon't you know?"
"Oh, surely." A faint chord was struck in Amory's memory. "Wasn't
the comic opera, 'Patience,' written about him?"
"Yes, that's the fella. I've just finished a book of his, 'The
Picture of Dorian Gray,' and I certainly wish you'd read it.
You'd like it. You can borrow it if you want to."
"Why, I'd like it a lotthanks."
"Don't you want to come up to the room? I've got a few other
Amory hesitated, glanced at the St. Paul's groupone of them was
the magnificent, exquisite Humbirdand he considered how
determinate the addition of this friend would be. He never got to
the stage of making them and getting rid of themhe was not hard
enough for thatso he measured Thomas Parke D'Invilliers'
undoubted attractions and value against the menace of cold eyes
behind tortoise-rimmed spectacles that he fancied glared from the
"Yes, I'll go."
So he found "Dorian Gray" and the "Mystic and Somber Dolores" and
the "Belle Dame sans Merci"; for a month was keen on naught else.
The world became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look
at Princeton through the satiated eyes of Oscar Wilde and
Swinburneor "Fingal O'Flaherty" and "Algernon Charles," as he
called them in pricieuse jest. He read enormously every
nightShaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats, Synge, Ernest
Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh Benson, the
Savoy Operasjust a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly
discovered that he had read nothing for years.
Tom D'Invilliers became at first an occasion rather than a
friend. Amory saw him about once a week, and together they gilded
the ceiling of Tom's room and decorated the walls with imitation
tapestry, bought at an auction, tall candlesticks and figured
curtains. Amory liked him for being clever and literary without
effeminacy or affectation. In fact, Amory did most of the
strutting and tried painfully to make every remark an epigram,
than which, if one is content with ostensible epigrams, there are
many feats harder. 12 Univee was amused. Kerry read "Dorian Gray"
and simulated Lord Henry, following Amory about, addressing him
as "Dorian" and pretending to encourage in him wicked fancies and
attenuated tendencies to ennui. When he carried it into Commons,
to the amazement of the others at table, Amory became furiously
embarrassed, and after that made epigrams only before
D'Invilliers or a convenient mirror.
One day Tom and Amory tried reciting their own and Lord Dunsany's
poems to the music of Kerry's graphophone.
"Chant!" cried Tom. "Don't recite! Chant!"
Amory, who was performing, looked annoyed, and claimed that he
needed a record with less piano in it. Kerry thereupon rolled on
the floor in stifled laughter.
"Put on 'Hearts and Flowers'!" he howled. "Oh, my Lord, I'm going
to cast a kitten."
"Shut off the damn graphophone," Amory cried, rather red in the
face. "I'm not giving an exhibition."
In the meanwhile Amory delicately kept trying to awaken a sense
of the social system in D'Invilliers, for he knew that this poet
was really more conventional than he, and needed merely watered
hair, a smaller range of conversation, and a darker brown hat to
become quite regular. But the liturgy of Livingstone collars and
dark ties fell on heedless ears; in fact D'Invilliers faintly
resented his efforts; so Amory confined himself to calls once a
week, and brought him occasionally to 12 Univee. This caused mild
titters among the other freshmen, who called them "Doctor Johnson
Alec Connage, another frequent visitor, liked him in a vague way,
but was afraid of him as a highbrow. Kerry, who saw through his
poetic patter to the solid, almost respectable depths within, was
immensely amused and would have him recite poetry by the hour,
while he lay with closed eyes on Amory's sofa and listened:
"Asleep or waking is it? for her neck
Kissed over close, wears yet a purple speck
Wherein the pained blood falters and goes out;
Soft and stung softlyfairer for a fleck..."
"That's good," Kerry would say softly. "It pleases the elder
Holiday. That's a great poet, I guess." Tom, delighted at an
audience, would ramble through the "Poems and Ballades" until
Kerry and Amory knew them almost as well as he.
Amory took to writing poetry on spring afternoons, in the gardens
of the big estates near Princeton, while swans made effective
atmosphere in the artificial pools, and slow clouds sailed
harmoniously above the willows. May came too soon, and suddenly
unable to bear walls, he wandered the campus at all hours through
starlight and rain.
A DAMP SYMBOLIC INTERLUDE
The night mist fell. From the moon it rolled, clustered about the
spires and towers, and then settled below them, so that the
dreaming peaks were still in lofty aspiration toward the sky.
Figures that dotted the day like ants now brushed along as
shadowy ghosts, in and out of the foreground. The Gothic halls
and cloisters were infinitely more mysterious as they loomed
suddenly out of the darkness, outlined each by myriad faint
squares of yellow light. Indefinitely from somewhere a bell
boomed the quarter-hour, and Amory, pausing by the sun-dial,
stretched himself out full length on the damp grass. The cool
bathed his eyes and slowed the flight of timetime that had crept
so insidiously through the lazy April afternoons, seemed so
intangible in the long spring twilights. Evening after evening
the senior singing had drifted over the campus in melancholy
beauty, and through the shell of his undergraduate consciousness
had broken a deep and reverent devotion to the gray walls and
Gothic peaks and all they symbolized as warehouses of dead ages.
The tower that in view of his window sprang upward, grew into a
spire, yearning higher until its uppermost tip was half invisible
against the morning skies, gave him the first sense of the
transiency and unimportance of the campus figures except as
holders of the apostolic succession. He liked knowing that Gothic
architecture, with its upward trend, was peculiarly appropriate
to universities, and the idea became personal to him. The silent
stretches of green, the quiet halls with an occasional
late-burning scholastic light held his imagination in a strong
grasp, and the chastity of the spire became a symbol of this
"Damn it all," he whispered aloud, wetting his hands in the damp
and running them through his hair. "Next year I work!" Yet he
knew that where now the spirit of spires and towers made him
dreamily acquiescent, it would then overawe him. Where now he
realized only his own inconsequence, effort would make him aware
of his own impotency and insufficiency.
The college dreamed onawake. He felt a nervous excitement that
might have been the very throb of its slow heart. It was a stream
where he was to throw a stone whose faint ripple would be
vanishing almost as it left his hand. As yet he had given
nothing, he had taken nothing.
A belated freshman, his oilskin slicker rasping loudly, slushed
along the soft path. A voice from somewhere called the inevitable
formula, "Stick out your head!" below an unseen window. A hundred
little sounds of the current drifting on under the fog pressed in
finally on his consciousness.
"Oh, God!" he cried suddenly, and started at the sound of his
voice in the stillness. The rain dripped on. A minute longer he
lay without moving, his hands clinched. Then he sprang to his
feet and gave his clothes a tentative pat.
"I'm very damn wet!" he said aloud to the sun-dial.
The war began in the summer following his freshman year. Beyond a
sporting interest in the German dash for Paris the whole affair
failed either to thrill or interest him. With the attitude he
might have held toward an amusing melodrama he hoped it would be
long and bloody. If it had not continued he would have felt like
an irate ticket-holder at a prize-fight where the principals
refused to mix it up.
That was his total reaction.
"All right, ponies!"
"Shake it up!"
"Hey, ponieshow about easing up on that crap game and shaking a
The coach fumed helplessly, the Triangle Club president,
glowering with anxiety, varied between furious bursts of
authority and fits of temperamental lassitude, when he sat
spiritless and wondered how the devil the show was ever going on
tour by Christmas.
"All right. We'll take the pirate song."
The ponies took last drags at their cigarettes and slumped into
place; the leading lady rushed into the foreground, setting his
hands and feet in an atmospheric mince; and as the coach clapped
and stamped and tumped and da-da'd, they hashed out a dance.
A great, seething ant-hill was the Triangle Club. It gave a
musical comedy every year, travelling with cast, chorus,
orchestra, and scenery all through Christmas vacation. The play
and music were the work of undergraduates, and the club itself
was the most influential of institutions, over three hundred men
competing for it every year.
Amory, after an easy victory in the first sophomore Princetonian
competition, stepped into a vacancy of the cast as Boiling Oil, a
Pirate Lieutenant. Every night for the last week they had
rehearsed "Ha-Ha Hortense!" in the Casino, from two in the
afternoon until eight in the morning, sustained by dark and
powerful coffee, and sleeping in lectures through the interim. A
rare scene, the Casino. A big, barnlike auditorium, dotted with
boys as girls, boys as pirates, boys as babies; the scenery in
course of being violently set up; the spotlight man rehearsing by
throwing weird shafts into angry eyes; over all the constant
tuning of the orchestra or the cheerful tumpty-tump of a Triangle
tune. The boy who writes the lyrics stands in the corner, biting
a pencil, with twenty minutes to think of an encore; the business
manager argues with the secretary as to how much money can be
spent on "those damn milkmaid costumes"; the old graduate,
president in ninety-eight, perches on a box and thinks how much
simpler it was in his day.
How a Triangle show ever got off was a mystery, but it was a
riotous mystery, anyway, whether or not one did enough service to
wear a little gold Triangle on his watch-chain. "Ha-Ha Hortense!"
was written over six times and had the names of nine
collaborators on the programme. All Triangle shows started by
being "something differentnot just a regular musical comedy," but
when the several authors, the president, the coach and the
faculty committee finished with it, there remained just the old
reliable Triangle show with the old reliable jokes and the star
comedian who got expelled or sick or something just before the
trip, and the dark-whiskered man in the pony-ballet, who
"absolutely won't shave twice a day, doggone it!"
There was one brilliant place in "Ha-Ha Hortense!" It is a
Princeton tradition that whenever a Yale man who is a member of
the widely advertised "Skull and Bones" hears the sacred name
mentioned, he must leave the room. It is also a tradition that
the members are invariably successful in later life, amassing
fortunes or votes or coupons or whatever they choose to amass.
Therefore, at each performance of "Ha-Ha Hortense!" half-a-dozen
seats were kept from sale and occupied by six of the
worst-looking vagabonds that could be hired from the streets,
further touched up by the Triangle make-up man. At the moment in
the show where Firebrand, the Pirate Chief, pointed at his black
flag and said, "I am a Yale graduatenot my Skull and Bones!"at
this very moment the six vagabonds were instructed to rise
conspicuously and leave the theatre with looks of deep melancholy
and an injured dignity. It was claimed though never proved that
on one occasion the hired Elis were swelled by one of the real
They played through vacation to the fashionable of eight cities.
Amory liked Louisville and Memphis best: these knew how to meet
strangers, furnished extraordinary punch, and flaunted an
astonishing array of feminine beauty. Chicago he approved for a
certain verve that transcended its loud accenthowever, it was a
Yale town, and as the Yale Glee Club was expected in a week the
Triangle received only divided homage. In Baltimore, Princeton
was at home, and every one fell in love. There was a proper
consumption of strong waters all along the line; one man
invariably went on the stage highly stimulated, claiming that his
particular interpretation of the part required it. There were
three private cars; however, no one slept except in the third
car, which was called the "animal car," and where were herded the
spectacled wind-jammers of the orchestra. Everything was so
hurried that there was no time to be bored, but when they arrived
in Philadelphia, with vacation nearly over, there was rest in
getting out of the heavy atmosphere of flowers and grease-paint,
and the ponies took off their corsets with abdominal pains and
sighs of relief.
When the disbanding came, Amory set out posthaste for
Minneapolis, for Sally Weatherby's cousin, Isabelle Borgi, was
coming to spend the winter in Minneapolis while her parents went
abroad. He remembered Isabelle only as a little girl with whom he
had played sometimes when he first went to Minneapolis. She had
gone to Baltimore to livebut since then she had developed a past.
Amory was in full stride, confident, nervous, and jubilant.
Scurrying back to Minneapolis to see a girl he had known as a
child seemed the interesting and romantic thing to do, so without
compunction he wired his mother not to expect him ... sat in the
train, and thought about himself for thirty-six hours.
On the Triangle trip Amory had come into constant contact with
that great current American phenomenon, the "petting party."
None of the Victorian mothersand most of the mothers were
Victorianhad any idea how casually their daughters were
accustomed to be kissed. "Servant-girls are that way," says Mrs.
Huston-Carmelite to her popular daughter. "They are kissed first
and proposed to afterward."
But the Popular Daughter becomes engaged every six months between
sixteen and twenty-two, when she arranges a match with young
Hambell, of Cambell & Hambell, who fatuously considers himself
her first love, and between engagements the P. D. (she is
selected by the cut-in system at dances, which favors the
survival of the fittest) has other sentimental last kisses in the
moonlight, or the firelight, or the outer darkness.
Amory saw girls doing things that even in his memory would have
been impossible: eating three-o'clock, after-dance suppers in
impossible cafis, talking of every side of life with an air half
of earnestness, half of mockery, yet with a furtive excitement
that Amory considered stood for a real moral let-down. But he
never realized how wide-spread it was until he saw the cities
between New York and Chicago as one vast juvenile intrigue.
Afternoon at the Plaza, with winter twilight hovering outside and
faint drums down-stairs ... they strut and fret in the lobby,
taking another cocktail, scrupulously attired and waiting. Then
the swinging doors revolve and three bundles of fur mince in. The
theatre comes afterward; then a table at the Midnight Frolicof
course, mother will be along there, but she will serve only to
make things more secretive and brilliant as she sits in solitary
state at the deserted table and thinks such entertainments as
this are not half so bad as they are painted, only rather
wearying. But the P. D. is in love again ... it was odd, wasn't
it?that though there was so much room left in the taxi the P. D.
and the boy from Williams were somehow crowded out and had to go
in a separate car. Odd! Didn't you notice how flushed the P. D.
was when she arrived just seven minutes late? But the P. D. "gets
away with it."
The "belle" had become the "flirt," the "flirt" had become the
"baby vamp." The "belle" had five or six callers every afternoon.
If the P. D., by some strange accident, has two, it is made
pretty uncomfortable for the one who hasn't a date with her. The
"belle" was surrounded by a dozen men in the intermissions
between dances. Try to find the P. D. between dances, just try to
The same girl ... deep in an atmosphere of jungle music and the
questioning of moral codes. Amory found it rather fascinating to
feel that any popular girl he met before eight he might quite
possibly kiss before twelve.
"Why on earth are we here?" he asked the girl with the green
combs one night as they sat in some one's limousine, outside the
Country Club in Louisville.
"I don't know. I'm just full of the devil."
"Let's be frankwe'll never see each other again. I wanted to come
out here with you because I thought you were the best-looking
girl in sight. You really don't care whether you ever see me
again, do you?"
"Nobut is this your line for every girl? What have I done to
"And you didn't feel tired dancing or want a cigarette or any of
the things you said? You just wanted to be"
"Oh, let's go in," she interrupted, "if you want to analyze.
Let's not talk about it."
When the hand-knit, sleeveless jerseys were stylish, Amory, in a
burst of inspiration, named them "petting shirts." The name
travelled from coast to coast on the lips of parlor-snakes and P.
Amory was now eighteen years old, just under six feet tall and
exceptionally, but not conventionally, handsome. He had rather a
young face, the ingenuousness of which was marred by the
penetrating green eyes, fringed with long dark eyelashes. He
lacked somehow that intense animal magnetism that so often
accompanies beauty in men or women; his personality seemed rather
a mental thing, and it was not in his power to turn it on and off
like a water-faucet. But people never forgot his face.
She paused at the top of the staircase. The sensations attributed
to divers on spring-boards, leading ladies on opening nights, and
lumpy, husky young men on the day of the Big Game, crowded
through her. She should have descended to a burst of drums or a
discordant blend of themes from "Thais" and "Carmen." She had
never been so curious about her appearance, she had never been so
satisfied with it. She had been sixteen years old for six months.
"Isabelle!" called her cousin Sally from the doorway of the
"I'm ready." She caught a slight lump of nervousness in her
"I had to send back to the house for another pair of slippers.
It'll be just a minute."
Isabelle started toward the dressing-room for a last peek in the
mirror, but something decided her to stand there and gaze down
the broad stairs of the Minnehaha Club. They curved
tantalizingly, and she could catch just a glimpse of two pairs of
masculine feet in the hall below. Pump-shod in uniform black,
they gave no hint of identity, but she wondered eagerly if one
pair were attached to Amory Blaine. This young man, not as yet
encountered, had nevertheless taken up a considerable part of her
daythe first day of her arrival. Coming up in the machine from
the station, Sally had volunteered, amid a rain of question,
comment, revelation, and exaggeration:
"You remember Amory Blaine, of course. Well, he's simply mad to
see you again. He's stayed over a day from college, and he's
coming to-night. He's heard so much about yousays he remembers
This had pleased Isabelle. It put them on equal terms, although
she was quite capable of staging her own romances, with or
without advance advertising. But following her happy tremble of
anticipation, came a sinking sensation that made her ask:
"How do you mean he's heard about me? What sort of things?"
Sally smiled. She felt rather in the capacity of a showman with
her more exotic cousin.
"He knows you'reyou're considered beautiful and all that"she
paused"and I guess he knows you've been kissed."
At this Isabelle's little fist had clinched suddenly under the
fur robe. She was accustomed to be thus followed by her desperate
past, and it never failed to rouse in her the same feeling of
resentment; yetin a strange town it was an advantageous
reputation. She was a "Speed," was she? Welllet them find out.
Out of the window Isabelle watched the snow glide by in the
frosty morning. It was ever so much colder here than in
Baltimore; she had not remembered; the glass of the side door was
iced, the windows were shirred with snow in the corners. Her mind
played still with one subject. Did he dress like that boy there,
who walked calmly down a bustling business street, in moccasins
and winter-carnival costume? How very Western! Of course he
wasn't that way: he went to Princeton, was a sophomore or
something. Really she had no distinct idea of him. An ancient
snap-shot she had preserved in an old kodak book had impressed
her by the big eyes (which he had probably grown up to by now).
However, in the last month, when her winter visit to Sally had
been decided on, he had assumed the proportions of a worthy
adversary. Children, most astute of match-makers, plot their
campaigns quickly, and Sally had played a clever correspondence
sonata to Isabelle's excitable temperament. Isabelle had been for
some time capable of very strong, if very transient emotions....
They drew up at a spreading, white-stone building, set back from
the snowy street. Mrs. Weatherby greeted her warmly and her
various younger cousins were produced from the corners where they
skulked politely. Isabelle met them tactfully. At her best she
allied all with whom she came in contactexcept older girls and
some women. All the impressions she made were conscious. The
half-dozen girls she renewed acquaintance with that morning were
all rather impressed and as much by her direct personality as by
her reputation. Amory Blaine was an open subject. Evidently a bit
light of love, neither popular nor unpopularevery girl there
seemed to have had an affair with him at some time or other, but
no one volunteered any really useful information. He was going to
fall for her.... Sally had published that information to her
young set and they were retailing it back to Sally as fast as
they set eyes on Isabelle. Isabelle resolved secretly that she
would, if necessary, force herself to like himshe owed it to
Sally. Suppose she were terribly disappointed. Sally had painted
him in such glowing colorshe was good-looking, "sort of
distinguished, when he wants to be," had a line, and was properly
inconstant. In fact, he summed up all the romance that her age
and environment led her to desire. She wondered if those were his
dancing-shoes that fox-trotted tentatively around the soft rug
All impressions and, in fact, all ideas were extremely
kaleidoscopic to Isabelle. She had that curious mixture of the
social and the artistic temperaments found often in two classes,
society women and actresses. Her education or, rather, her
sophistication, had been absorbed from the boys who had dangled
on her favor; her tact was instinctive, and her capacity for
love-affairs was limited only by the number of the susceptible
within telephone distance. Flirt smiled from her large
black-brown eyes and shone through her intense physical
So she waited at the head of the stairs that evening while
slippers were fetched. Just as she was growing impatient, Sally
came out of the dressing-room, beaming with her accustomed good
nature and high spirits, and together they descended to the floor
below, while the shifting search-light of Isabelle's mind flashed
on two ideas: she was glad she had high color to-night, and she
wondered if he danced well.
Down-stairs, in the club's great room, she was surrounded for a
moment by the girls she had met in the afternoon, then she heard
Sally's voice repeating a cycle of names, and found herself
bowing to a sextet of black and white, terribly stiff, vaguely
familiar figures. The name Blaine figured somewhere, but at first
she could not place him. A very confused, very juvenile moment of
awkward backings and bumpings followed, and every one found
himself talking to the person he least desired to. Isabelle
manoeuvred herself and Froggy Parker, freshman at Harvard, with
whom she had once played hop-scotch, to a seat on the stairs. A
humorous reference to the past was all she needed. The things
Isabelle could do socially with one idea were remarkable. First,
she repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a
soupgon of Southern accent; then she held it off at a distance
and smiled at ither wonderful smile; then she delivered it in
variations and played a sort of mental catch with it, all this in
the nominal form of dialogue. Froggy was fascinated and quite
unconscious that this was being done, not for him, but for the
green eyes that glistened under the shining carefully watered
hair, a little to her left, for Isabelle had discovered Amory. As
an actress even in the fullest flush of her own conscious
magnetism gets a deep impression of most of the people in the
front row, so Isabelle sized up her antagonist. First, he had
auburn hair, and from her feeling of disappointment she knew that
slenderness.... For the rest, a faint flush and a straight,
romantic profile; the effect set off by a close-fitting dress
suit and a silk ruffled shirt of the kind that women still
delight to see men wear, but men were just beginning to get tired
During this inspection Amory was quietly watching.
"Don't you think so?" she said suddenly, turning to him,
There was a stir, and Sally led the way over to their table.
Amory struggled to Isabelle's side, and whispered:
"You're my dinner partner, you know. We're all coached for each
Isabelle gaspedthis was rather right in line. But really she felt
as if a good speech had been taken from the star and given to a
minor character.... She mustn't lose the leadership a bit. The
dinner-table glittered with laughter at the confusion of getting
places and then curious eyes were turned on her, sitting near the
head. She was enjoying this immensely, and Froggy Parker was so
engrossed with the added sparkle of her rising color that he
forgot to pull out Sally's chair, and fell into a dim confusion.
Amory was on the other side, full of confidence and vanity,
gazing at her in open admiration. He began directly, and so did
"I've heard a lot about you since you wore braids"
"Wasn't it funny this afternoon"
Both stopped. Isabelle turned to Amory shyly. Her face was always
enough answer for any one, but she decided to speak.
"From everybodyfor all the years since you've been away." She
blushed appropriately. On her right Froggy was hors de combat
already, although he hadn't quite realized it.
"I'll tell you what I remembered about you all these years,"
Amory continued. She leaned slightly toward him and looked
modestly at the celery before her. Froggy sighedhe knew Amory,
and the situations that Amory seemed born to handle. He turned to
Sally and asked her if she was going away to school next year.
Amory opened with grape-shot.
"I've got an adjective that just fits you." This was one of his
favorite startshe seldom had a word in mind, but it was a
curiosity provoker, and he could always produce something
complimentary if he got in a tight corner.
"Ohwhat?" Isabelle's face was a study in enraptured curiosity.
Amory shook his head.
"I don't know you very well yet."
"Will you tell meafterward?" she half whispered.
"We'll sit out."
"Did any one ever tell you, you have keen eyes?" she said.
Amory attempted to make them look even keener. He fancied, but he
was not sure, that her foot had just touched his under the table.
But it might possibly have been only the table leg. It was so
hard to tell. Still it thrilled him. He wondered quickly if there
would be any difficulty in securing the little den up-stairs.
BABES IN THE WOODS
Isabelle and Amory were distinctly not innocent, nor were they
particularly brazen. Moreover, amateur standing had very little
value in the game they were playing, a game that would presumably
be her principal study for years to come. She had begun as he
had, with good looks and an excitable temperament, and the rest
was the result of accessible popular novels and dressing-room
conversation culled from a slightly older set. Isabelle had
walked with an artificial gait at nine and a half, and when her
eyes, wide and starry, proclaimed the ingenue most. Amory was
proportionately less deceived. He waited for the mask to drop
off, but at the same time he did not question her right to wear
it. She, on her part, was not impressed by his studied air of
blasi sophistication. She had lived in a larger city and had
slightly an advantage in range. But she accepted his poseit was
one of the dozen little conventions of this kind of affair. He
was aware that he was getting this particular favor now because
she had been coached; he knew that he stood for merely the best
game in sight, and that he would have to improve his opportunity
before he lost his advantage. So they proceeded with an infinite
guile that would have horrified her parents.
After the dinner the dance began ... smoothly. Smoothly?boys cut
in on Isabelle every few feet and then squabbled in the corners
with: "You might let me get more than an inch!" and "She didn't
like it eithershe told me so next time I cut in." It was trueshe
told every one so, and gave every hand a parting pressure that
said: "You know that your dances are making my evening."
But time passed, two hours of it, and the less subtle beaux had
better learned to focus their pseudo-passionate glances
elsewhere, for eleven o'clock found Isabelle and Amory sitting on
the couch in the little den off the reading-room up-stairs. She
was conscious that they were a handsome pair, and seemed to
belong distinctively in this seclusion, while lesser lights
fluttered and chattered down-stairs.
Boys who passed the door looked in enviouslygirls who passed only
laughed and frowned and grew wise within themselves.
They had now reached a very definite stage. They had traded
accounts of their progress since they had met last, and she had
listened to much she had heard before. He was a sophomore, was on
the Princetonian board, hoped to be chairman in senior year. He
learned that some of the boys she went with in Baltimore were
"terrible speeds" and came to dances in states of artificial
stimulation; most of them were twenty or so, and drove alluring
red Stutzes. A good half seemed to have already flunked out of
various schools and colleges, but some of them bore athletic
names that made him look at her admiringly. As a matter of fact,
Isabelle's closer acquaintance with the universities was just
commencing. She had bowing acquaintance with a lot of young men
who thought she was a "pretty kidworth keeping an eye on." But
Isabelle strung the names into a fabrication of gayety that would
have dazzled a Viennese nobleman. Such is the power of young
contralto voices on sink-down sofas.
He asked her if she thought he was conceited. She said there was
a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored
self-confidence in men.
"Is Froggy a good friend of yours?" she asked.
"He's a bum dancer."
"He dances as if the girl were on his back instead of in his
She appreciated this.
"You're awfully good at sizing people up."
Amory denied this painfully. However, he sized up several people
for her. Then they talked about hands.
"You've got awfully nice hands," she said. "They look as if you
played the piano. Do you?"
I have said they had reached a very definite stagenay, more, a
very critical stage. Amory had stayed over a day to see her, and
suitcase awaited him at the station; his watch was beginning to
hang heavy in his pocket.
"Isabelle," he said suddenly, "I want to tell you something."
They had been talking lightly about "that funny look in her
eyes," and Isabelle knew from the change in his manner what was
comingindeed, she had been wondering how soon it would come.
Amory reached above their heads and turned out the electric
light, so that they were in the dark, except for the red glow
that fell through the door from the reading-room lamps. Then he
"I don't know whether or not you know what youwhat I'm going to
say. Lordy, Isabellethis sounds like a line, but it isn't."
"I know," said Isabelle softly.
"Maybe we'll never meet again like thisI have darned hard luck
sometimes." He was leaning away from her on the other arm of the
lounge, but she could see his eyes plainly in the dark.
"You'll meet me againsilly." There was just the slightest
emphasis on the last wordso that it became almost a term of
endearment. He continued a bit huskily:
"I've fallen for a lot of peoplegirlsand I guess you have,
tooboys, I mean, but, honestly, you" he broke off suddenly and
leaned forward, chin on his hands: "Oh, what's the useyou'll go
your way and I suppose I'll go mine."
Silence for a moment. Isabelle was quite stirred; she wound her
handkerchief into a tight ball, and by the faint light that
streamed over her, dropped it deliberately on the floor. Their
hands touched for an instant, but neither spoke. Silences were
becoming more frequent and more delicious. Outside another stray
couple had come up and were experimenting on the piano in the
next room. After the usual preliminary of "chopsticks," one of
them started "Babes in the Woods" and a light tenor carried the
words into the den:
"Give me your hand
We're off to slumberland."
Isabelle hummed it softly and trembled as she felt Amory's hand
close over hers.
"Isabelle," he whispered. "You know I'm mad about you. You do
give a darn about me."
"How much do you caredo you like any one better?"
"No." He could scarcely hear her, although he bent so near that
he felt her breath against his cheek.
"Isabelle, I'm going back to college for six long months, and why
shouldn't weif I could only just have one thing to remember you
"Close the door...." Her voice had just stirred so that he half
wondered whether she had spoken at all. As he swung the door
softly shut, the music seemed quivering just outside.
"Moonlight is bright,
Kiss me good night."
What a wonderful song, she thoughteverything was wonderful
to-night, most of all this romantic scene in the den, with their
hands clinging and the inevitable looming charmingly close. The
future vista of her life seemed an unending succession of scenes
like this: under moonlight and pale starlight, and in the backs
of warm limousines and in low, cosy roadsters stopped under
sheltering treesonly the boy might change, and this one was so
nice. He took her hand softly. With a sudden movement he turned
it and, holding it to his lips, kissed the palm.
"Isabelle!" His whisper blended in the music, and they seemed to
float nearer together. Her breath came faster. "Can't I kiss you,
IsabelleIsabelle?" Lips half parted, she turned her head to him
in the dark. Suddenly the ring of voices, the sound of running
footsteps surged toward them. Quick as a flash Amory reached up
and turned on the light, and when the door opened and three boys,
the wrathy and dance-craving Froggy among them, rushed in, he was
turning over the magazines on the table, while she sat without
moving, serene and unembarrassed, and even greeted them with a
welcoming smile. But her heart was beating wildly, and she felt
somehow as if she had been deprived.
It was evidently over. There was a clamor for a dance, there was
a glance that passed between themon his side despair, on hers
regret, and then the evening went on, with the reassured beaux
and the eternal cutting in.
At quarter to twelve Amory shook hands with her gravely, in the
midst of a small crowd assembled to wish him good-speed. For an
instant he lost his poise, and she felt a bit rattled when a
satirical voice from a concealed wit cried:
"Take her outside, Amory!" As he took her hand he pressed it a
little, and she returned the pressure as she had done to twenty
hands that eveningthat was all.
At two o'clock back at the Weatherbys' Sally asked her if she and
Amory had had a "time" in the den. Isabelle turned to her
quietly. In her eyes was the light of the idealist, the inviolate
dreamer of Joan-like dreams.
"No," she answered. "I don't do that sort of thing any more; he
asked me to, but I said no."
As she crept in bed she wondered what he'd say in his special
delivery to-morrow. He had such a good-looking mouthwould she
"Fourteen angels were watching o'er them," sang Sally sleepily
from the next room.
"Damn!" muttered Isabelle, punching the pillow into a luxurious
lump and exploring the cold sheets cautiously. "Damn!"
Amory, by way of the Princetonian, had arrived. The minor snobs,
finely balanced thermometers of success, warmed to him as the
club elections grew nigh, and he and Tom were visited by groups
of upper classmen who arrived awkwardly, balanced on the edge of
the furniture and talked of all subjects except the one of
absorbing interest. Amory was amused at the intent eyes upon him,
and, in case the visitors represented some club in which he was
not interested, took great pleasure in shocking them with
"Oh, let me see" he said one night to a flabbergasted delegation,
"what club do you represent?"
With visitors from Ivy and Cottage and Tiger Inn he played the
"nice, unspoilt, ingenuous boy" very much at ease and quite
unaware of the object of the call.
When the fatal morning arrived, early in March, and the campus
became a document in hysteria, he slid smoothly into Cottage with
Alec Connage and watched his suddenly neurotic class with much
There were fickle groups that jumped from club to club; there
were friends of two or three days who announced tearfully and
wildly that they must join the same club, nothing should separate
them; there were snarling disclosures of long-hidden grudges as
the Suddenly Prominent remembered snubs of freshman year. Unknown
men were elevated into importance when they received certain
coveted bids; others who were considered "all set" found that
they had made unexpected enemies, felt themselves stranded and
deserted, talked wildly of leaving college.
In his own crowd Amory saw men kept out for wearing green hats,
for being "a damn tailor's dummy," for having "too much pull in
heaven," for getting drunk one night "not like a gentleman, by
God," or for unfathomable secret reasons known to no one but the
wielders of the black balls.
This orgy of sociability culminated in a gigantic party at the
Nassau Inn, where punch was dispensed from immense bowls, and the
whole down-stairs became a delirious, circulating, shouting
pattern of faces and voices.
"Goo' boy, Tom, you got a good bunch in Cap."
"Oh, KerryI hear you went Tiger with all the weight-lifters!"
"Well, I didn't go Cottagethe parlor-snakes' delight."
"They say Overton fainted when he got his Ivy bid Did he sign up
the first day?oh, no. Tore over to Murray-Dodge on a
bicycleafraid it was a mistake."
"How'd you get into Capyou old roui?"
"'Gratulations yourself. Hear you got a good crowd."
When the bar closed, the party broke up into groups and streamed,
singing, over the snow-clad campus, in a weird delusion that
snobbishness and strain were over at last, and that they could do
what they pleased for the next two years.
Long afterward Amory thought of sophomore spring as the happiest
time of his life. His ideas were in tune with life as he found
it; he wanted no more than to drift and dream and enjoy a dozen
new-found friendships through the April afternoons.
Alec Connage came into his room one morning and woke him up into
the sunshine and peculiar glory of Campbell Hall shining in the
"Wake up, Original Sin, and scrape yourself together. Be in front
of Renwick's in half an hour. Somebody's got a car." He took the
bureau cover and carefully deposited it, with its load of small
articles, upon the bed.
"Where'd you get the car?" demanded Amory cynically.
"Sacred trust, but don't be a critical goopher or you can't go!"
"I think I'll sleep," Amory said calmly, resettling himself and
reaching beside the bed for a cigarette.
"Why not? I've got a class at eleven-thirty."
"You damned gloom! Of course, if you don't want to go to the
With a bound Amory was out of bed, scattering the bureau cover's
burden on the floor. The coast ... he hadn't seen it for years,
since he and his mother were on their pilgrimage.
"Who's going?" he demanded as he wriggled into his B. V. D.'s.
"Oh, Dick Humbird and Kerry Holiday and Jesse Ferrenby andoh
about five or six. Speed it up, kid!"
In ten minutes Amory was devouring cornflakes in Renwick's, and
at nine-thirty they bowled happily out of town, headed for the
sands of Deal Beach.
"You see," said Kerry, "the car belongs down there. In fact, it
was stolen from Asbury Park by persons unknown, who deserted it
in Princeton and left for the West. Heartless Humbird here got
permission from the city council to deliver it."
"Anybody got any money?" suggested Ferrenby, turning around from
the front seat.
There was an emphatic negative chorus.
"That makes it interesting."
"Moneywhat's money? We can sell the car."
"Charge him salvage or something."
"How're we going to get food?" asked Amory.
"Honestly," answered Kerry, eying him reprovingly, "do you doubt
Kerry's ability for three short days? Some people have lived on
nothing for years at a time. Read the Boy Scout Monthly."
"Three days," Amory mused, "and I've got classes."
"One of the days is the Sabbath."
"Just the same, I can only cut six more classes, with over a
month and a half to go."
"Throw him out!"
"It's a long walk back."
"Amory, you're running it out, if I may coin a new phrase."
"Hadn't you better get some dope on yourself, Amory?"
Amory subsided resignedly and drooped into a contemplation of the
scenery. Swinburne seemed to fit in somehow.
"Oh, winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the seasons of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover,
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
"The full streams feed on flower of"
"What's the matter, Amory? Amory's thinking about poetry, about
the pretty birds and flowers. I can see it in his eye."
"No, I'm not," he lied. "I'm thinking about the Princetonian. I
ought to make up to-night; but I can telephone back, I suppose."
"Oh," said Kerry respectfully, "these important men"
Amory flushed and it seemed to him that Ferrenby, a defeated
competitor, winced a little. Of course, Kerry was only kidding,
but he really mustn't mention the Princetonian.
It was a halcyon day, and as they neared the shore and the salt
breezes scurried by, he began to picture the ocean and long,
level stretches of sand and red roofs over blue sea. Then they
hurried through the little town and it all flashed upon his
consciousness to a mighty pfan of emotion....
"Oh, good Lord! Look at it!" he cried.
"Let me out, quickI haven't seen it for eight years! Oh,
gentlefolk, stop the car!"
"What an odd child!" remarked Alec.
"I do believe he's a bit eccentric."
The car was obligingly drawn up at a curb, and Amory ran for the
boardwalk. First, he realized that the sea was blue and that
there was an enormous quantity of it, and that it roared and
roaredreally all the banalities about the ocean that one could
realize, but if any one had told him then that these things were
banalities, he would have gaped in wonder.
"Now we'll get lunch," ordered Kerry, wandering up with the
crowd. "Come on, Amory, tear yourself away and get practical."
"We'll try the best hotel first," he went on, "and thence and so
They strolled along the boardwalk to the most imposing hostelry
in sight, and, entering the dining-room, scattered about a table.
"Eight Bronxes," commanded Alec, "and a club sandwich and
Juliennes. The food for one. Hand the rest around."
Amory ate little, having seized a chair where he could watch the
sea and feel the rock of it. When luncheon was over they sat and
"What's the bill?"
Some one scanned it.
"Rotten overcharge. We'll give them two dollars and one for the
waiter. Kerry, collect the small change."
The waiter approached, and Kerry gravely handed him a dollar,
tossed two dollars on the check, and turned away. They sauntered
leisurely toward the door, pursued in a moment by the suspicious
"Some mistake, sir."
Kerry took the bill and examined it critically.
"No mistake!" he said, shaking his head gravely, and, tearing it
into four pieces, he handed the scraps to the waiter, who was so
dumfounded that he stood motionless and expressionless while they
"Won't he send after us?"
"No," said Kerry; "for a minute he'll think we're the
proprietor's sons or something; then he'll look at the check
again and call the manager, and in the meantime"
They left the car at Asbury and street-car'd to Allenhurst, where
they investigated the crowded pavilions for beauty. At four there
were refreshments in a lunch-room, and this time they paid an
even smaller per cent on the total cost; something about the
appearance and savoir-faire of the crowd made the thing go, and
they were not pursued.
"You see, Amory, we're Marxian Socialists," explained Kerry. "We
don't believe in property and we're putting it to the great
"Night will descend," Amory suggested.
"Watch, and put your trust in Holiday."
They became jovial about five-thirty and, linking arms, strolled
up and down the boardwalk in a row, chanting a monotonous ditty
about the sad sea waves. Then Kerry saw a face in the crowd that
attracted him and, rushing off, reappeared in a moment with one
of the homeliest girls Amory had ever set eyes on. Her pale mouth
extended from ear to ear, her teeth projected in a solid wedge,
and she had little, squinty eyes that peeped ingratiatingly over
the side sweep of her nose. Kerry presented them formally.
"Name of Kaluka, Hawaiian queen! Let me present Messrs. Connage,
Sloane, Humbird, Ferrenby, and Blaine."
The girl bobbed courtesies all around. Poor creature; Amory
supposed she had never before been noticed in her lifepossibly
she was half-witted. While she accompanied them (Kerry had
invited her to supper) she said nothing which could
discountenance such a belief.
"She prefers her native dishes," said Alec gravely to the waiter,
"but any coarse food will do."
All through supper he addressed her in the most respectful
language, while Kerry made idiotic love to her on the other side,
and she giggled and grinned. Amory was content to sit and watch
the by-play, thinking what a light touch Kerry had, and how he
could transform the barest incident into a thing of curve and
contour. They all seemed to have the spirit of it more or less,
and it was a relaxation to be with them. Amory usually liked men
individually, yet feared them in crowds unless the crowd was
around him. He wondered how much each one contributed to the
party, for there was somewhat of a spiritual tax levied. Alec and
Kerry were the life of it, but not quite the centre. Somehow the
quiet Humbird, and Sloane, with his impatient superciliousness,
were the centre.
Dick Humbird had, ever since freshman year, seemed to Amory a
perfect type of aristocrat. He was slender but well-builtblack
curly hair, straight features, and rather a dark skin. Everything
he said sounded intangibly appropriate. He possessed infinite
courage, an averagely good mind, and a sense of honor with a
clear charm and noblesse oblige that varied it from
righteousness. He could dissipate without going to pieces, and
even his most bohemian adventures never seemed "running it out."
People dressed like him, tried to talk as he did.... Amory
decided that he probably held the world back, but he wouldn't
have changed him....
He differed from the healthy type that was essentially middle
classhe never seemed to perspire. Some people couldn't be
familiar with a chauffeur without having it returned; Humbird
could have lunched at Sherry's with a colored man, yet people
would have somehow known that it was all right. He was not a
snob, though he knew only half his class. His friends ranged from
the highest to the lowest, but it was impossible to "cultivate"
seemed the eternal example of what the upper class tries to be.
"He's like those pictures in the Illustrated London News of the
English officers who have been killed," Amory had said to Alec.
"Well," Alec had answered, "if you want to know the shocking
truth, his father was a grocery clerk who made a fortune in
Tacoma real estate and came to New York ten years ago."
Amory had felt a curious sinking sensation.
This present type of party was made possible by the surging
together of the class after club electionsas if to make a last
desperate attempt to know itself, to keep together, to fight off
the tightening spirit of the clubs. It was a let-down from the
conventional heights they had all walked so rigidly.
After supper they saw Kaluka to the boardwalk, and then strolled
back along the beach to Asbury. The evening sea was a new
sensation, for all its color and mellow age was gone, and it
seemed the bleak waste that made the Norse sagas sad; Amory
thought of Kipling's
"Beaches of Lukanon before the sealers came."
It was still a music, though, infinitely sorrowful.
Ten o'clock found them penniless. They had suppered greatly on
their last eleven cents and, singing, strolled up through the
casinos and lighted arches on the boardwalk, stopping to listen
approvingly to all band concerts. In one place Kerry took up a
collection for the French War Orphans which netted a dollar and
twenty cents, and with this they bought some brandy in case they
caught cold in the night. They finished the day in a
moving-picture show and went into solemn systematic roars of
laughter at an ancient comedy, to the startled annoyance of the
rest of the audience. Their entrance was distinctly strategic,
for each man as he entered pointed reproachfully at the one just
behind him. Sloane, bringing up the rear, disclaimed all
knowledge and responsibility as soon as the others were scattered
inside; then as the irate ticket-taker rushed in he followed
They reassembled later by the Casino and made arrangements for
the night. Kerry wormed permission from the watchman to sleep on
the platform and, having collected a huge pile of rugs from the
booths to serve as mattresses and blankets, they talked until
midnight, and then fell into a dreamless sleep, though Amory
tried hard to stay awake and watch that marvellous moon settle on
So they progressed for two happy days, up and down the shore by
street-car or machine, or by shoe-leather on the crowded
boardwalk; sometimes eating with the wealthy, more frequently
dining frugally at the expense of an unsuspecting restaurateur.
They had their photos taken, eight poses, in a quick-development
store. Kerry insisted on grouping them as a "varsity" football
team, and then as a tough gang from the East Side, with their
coats inside out, and himself sitting in the middle on a
cardboard moon. The photographer probably has them yetat least,
they never called for them. The weather was perfect, and again
they slept outside, and again Amory fell unwillingly asleep.
Sunday broke stolid and respectable, and even the sea seemed to
mumble and complain, so they returned to Princeton via the Fords
of transient farmers, and broke up with colds in their heads, but
otherwise none the worse for wandering.
Even more than in the year before, Amory neglected his work, not
deliberately but lazily and through a multitude of other
interests. Co-ordinate geometry and the melancholy hexameters of
Corneille and Racine held forth small allurements, and even
psychology, which he had eagerly awaited, proved to be a dull
subject full of muscular reactions and biological phrases rather
than the study of personality and influence. That was a noon
class, and it always sent him dozing. Having found that
"subjective and objective, sir," answered most of the questions,
he used the phrase on all occasions, and it became the class joke
when, on a query being levelled at him, he was nudged awake by
Ferrenby or Sloane to gasp it out.
Mostly there were partiesto Orange or the Shore, more rarely to
New York and Philadelphia, though one night they marshalled
fourteen waitresses out of Childs' and took them to ride down
Fifth Avenue on top of an auto bus. They all cut more classes
than were allowed, which meant an additional course the following
year, but spring was too rare to let anything interfere with
their colorful ramblings. In May Amory was elected to the
Sophomore Prom Committee, and when after a long evening's
discussion with Alec they made out a tentative list of class
probabilities for the senior council, they placed themselves
among the surest. The senior council was composed presumably of
the eighteen most representative seniors, and in view of Alec's
football managership and Amory's chance of nosing out Burne
Holiday as Princetonian chairman, they seemed fairly justified in
this presumption. Oddly enough, they both placed D'Invilliers as
among the possibilities, a guess that a year before the class
would have gaped at.
All through the spring Amory had kept up an intermittent
correspondence with Isabelle Borgi, punctuated by violent
squabbles and chiefly enlivened by his attempts to find new words
for love. He discovered Isabelle to be discreetly and
aggravatingly unsentimental in letters, but he hoped against hope
that she would prove not too exotic a bloom to fit the large
spaces of spring as she had fitted the den in the Minnehaha Club.
During May he wrote thirty-page documents almost nightly, and
sent them to her in bulky envelopes exteriorly labelled "Part I"
and "Part II."
"Oh, Alec, I believe I'm tired of college," he said sadly, as
they walked the dusk together.
"I think I am, too, in a way."
"All I'd like would be a little home in the country, some warm
country, and a wife, and just enough to do to keep from rotting."
"I'd like to quit."
"What does your girl say?"
"Oh!" Amory gasped in horror. "She wouldn't think of marrying ...
that is, not now. I mean the future, you know."
"My girl would. I'm engaged."
"Are you really?"
"Yes. Don't say a word to anybody, please, but I am. I may not
come back next year."
"But you're only twenty! Give up college?"
"Why, Amory, you were saying a minute ago"
"Yes," Amory interrupted, "but I was just wishing. I wouldn't
think of leaving college. It's just that I feel so sad these
wonderful nights. I sort of feel they're never coming again, and
I'm not really getting all I could out of them. I wish my girl
lived here. But marrynot a chance. Especially as father says the
money isn't forthcoming as it used to be."
"What a waste these nights are!" agreed Alec.
But Amory sighed and made use of the nights. He had a snap-shot
of Isabelle, enshrined in an old watch, and at eight almost every
night he would turn off all the lights except the desk lamp and,
sitting by the open windows with the picture before him, write
her rapturous letters.
Oh, Isabelle, dearit's a wonderful night. Somebody is playing
"Love Moon" on a mandolin far across the campus, and the music
seems to bring you into the window. Now he's playing "Good-by,
Boys, I'm Through," and how well it suits me. For I am through
with everything. I have decided never to take a cocktail again,
and I know I'll never again fall in loveI couldn'tyou've been too
much a part of my days and nights to ever let me think of another
girl. I meet them all the time and they don't interest me. I'm
not pretending to be blasi, because it's not that. It's just that
I'm in love. Oh, dearest Isabelle (somehow I can't call you just
Isabelle, and I'm afraid I'll come out with the "dearest" before
your family this June), you've got to come to the prom, and then
I'll come up to your house for a day and everything'll be
And so on in an eternal monotone that seemed to both of them
infinitely charming, infinitely new.
June came and the days grew so hot and lazy that they could not
worry even about exams, but spent dreamy evenings on the court of
Cottage, talking of long subjects until the sweep of country
toward Stony Brook became a blue haze and the lilacs were white
around tennis-courts, and words gave way to silent cigarettes....
Then down deserted Prospect and along McCosh with song everywhere
around them, up to the hot joviality of Nassau Street.
Tom D'Invilliers and Amory walked late in those days. A gambling
fever swept through the sophomore class and they bent over the
bones till three o'clock many a sultry night. After one session
they came out of Sloane's room to find the dew fallen and the
stars old in the sky.
"Let's borrow bicycles and take a ride," Amory suggested.
"All right. I'm not a bit tired and this is almost the last night
of the year, really, because the prom stuff starts Monday."
They found two unlocked bicycles in Holder Court and rode out
about half-past three along the Lawrenceville Road.
"What are you going to do this summer, Amory?"
"Don't ask mesame old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake
GenevaI'm counting on you to be there in July, you knowthen
there'll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops,
parlor-snaking, getting boredBut oh, Tom," he added suddenly,
"hasn't this year been slick!"
"No," declared Tom emphatically, a new Tom, clothed by Brooks,
shod by Franks, "I've won this game, but I feel as if I never
want to play another. You're all rightyou're a rubber ball, and
somehow it suits you, but I'm sick of adapting myself to the
local snobbishness of this corner of the world. I want to go
where people aren't barred because of the color of their neckties
and the roll of their coats."
"You can't, Tom," argued Amory, as they rolled along through the
scattering night; "wherever you go now you'll always
unconsciously apply these standards of 'having it' or 'lacking
it.' For better or worse we've stamped you; you're a Princeton
"Well, then," complained Tom, his cracked voice rising
plaintively, "why do I have to come back at all? I've learned all
that Princeton has to offer. Two years more of mere pedantry and
lying around a club aren't going to help. They're just going to
disorganize me, conventionalize me completely. Even now I'm so
spineless that I wonder how I get away with it."
"Oh, but you're missing the real point, Tom," Amory interrupted.
"You've just had your eyes opened to the snobbishness of the
world in a rather abrupt manner. Princeton invariably gives the
thoughtful man a social sense."
"You consider you taught me that, don't you?" he asked
quizzically, eying Amory in the half dark.
Amory laughed quietly.
"Sometimes," he said slowly, "I think you're my bad angel. I
might have been a pretty fair poet."
"Come on, that's rather hard. You chose to come to an Eastern
college. Either your eyes were opened to the mean scrambling
quality of people, or you'd have gone through blind, and you'd
hate to have done thatbeen like Marty Kaye."
"Yes," he agreed, "you're right. I wouldn't have liked it. Still,
it's hard to be made a cynic at twenty."
"I was born one," Amory murmured. "I'm a cynical idealist." He
paused and wondered if that meant anything.
They reached the sleeping school of Lawrenceville, and turned to
"It's good, this ride, isn't it?" Tom said presently.
"Yes; it's a good finish, it's knock-out; everything's good
to-night. Oh, for a hot, languorous summer and Isabelle!"
"Oh, you and your Isabelle! I'll bet she's a simple one ... let's
say some poetry."
So Amory declaimed "The Ode to a Nightingale" to the bushes they
"I'll never be a poet," said Amory as he finished. "I'm not
enough of a sensualist really; there are only a few obvious
things that I notice as primarily beautiful: women, spring
evenings, music at night, the sea; I don't catch the subtle
things like 'silver-snarling trumpets.' I may turn out an
intellectual, but I'll never write anything but mediocre poetry."
the sky behind the graduate school, and hurried to the
refreshment of a shower that would have to serve in place of
sleep. By noon the bright-costumed alumni crowded the streets
with their bands and choruses, and in the tents there was great
reunion under the orange-and-black banners that curled and
strained in the wind. Amory looked long at one house which bore
the legend "Sixty-nine." There a few gray-haired men sat and
talked quietly while the classes swept by in panorama of life.
UNDER THE ARC-LIGHT
Then tragedy's emerald eyes glared suddenly at Amory over the
edge of June. On the night after his ride to Lawrenceville a
crowd sallied to New York in quest of adventure, and started back
to Princeton about twelve o'clock in two machines. It had been a
gay party and different stages of sobriety were represented.
Amory was in the car behind; they had taken the wrong road and
lost the way, and so were hurrying to catch up.
It was a clear night and the exhilaration of the road went to
Amory's head. He had the ghost of two stanzas of a poem forming
in his mind....
So the gray car crept nightward in the dark and there was no life
stirred as it went by.... As the still ocean paths before the
shark in starred and glittering waterways, beauty-high, the
moon-swathed trees divided, pair on pair, while flapping
nightbirds cried across the air....
A moment by an inn of lamps and shades, a yellow inn under a
yellow moonthen silence, where crescendo laughter fades ... the
car swung out again to the winds of June, mellowed the shadows
where the distance grew, then crushed the yellow shadows into
They jolted to a stop, and Amory peered up, startled. A woman was
standing beside the road, talking to Alec at the wheel. Afterward
he remembered the harpy effect that her old kimono gave her, and
the cracked hollowness of her voice as she spoke:
"You Princeton boys?"
"Well, there's one of you killed here, and two others about
"Look!" She pointed and they gazed in horror. Under the full
light of a roadside arc-light lay a form, face downward in a
widening circle of blood.
They sprang from the car. Amory thought of the back of that
headthat hairthat hair ... and then they turned the form over.
"It's DickDick Humbird!"
"Feel his heart!"
Then the insistent voice of the old crone in a sort of croaking
"He's quite dead, all right. The car turned over. Two of the men
that weren't hurt just carried the others in, but this one's no
Amory rushed into the house and the rest followed with a limp
mass that they laid on the sofa in the shoddy little front
parlor. Sloane, with his shoulder punctured, was on another
lounge. He was half delirious, and kept calling something about a
chemistry lecture at 8:10.
"I don't know what happened," said Ferrenby in a strained voice.
"Dick was driving and he wouldn't give up the wheel; we told him
he'd been drinking too muchthen there was this damn curveoh, my
God!..." He threw himself face downward on the floor and broke
into dry sobs.
The doctor had arrived, and Amory went over to the couch, where
some one handed him a sheet to put over the body. With a sudden
hardness, he raised one of the hands and let it fall back
inertly. The brow was cold but the face not expressionless. He
looked at the shoe-lacesDick had tied them that morning. He had
tied themand now he was this heavy white mass. All that remained
of the charm and personality of the Dick Humbird he had knownoh,
it was all so horrible and unaristocratic and close to the earth.
All tragedy has that strain of the grotesque and squalidso
useless, futile ... the way animals die.... Amory was reminded of
a cat that had lain horribly mangled in some alley of his
"Some one go to Princeton with Ferrenby."
Amory stepped outside the door and shivered slightly at the late
night winda wind that stirred a broken fender on the mass of bent
metal to a plaintive, tinny sound.
Next day, by a merciful chance, passed in a whirl. When Amory was
by himself his thoughts zigzagged inevitably to the picture of
that red mouth yawning incongruously in the white face, but with
a determined effort he piled present excitement upon the memory
of it and shut it coldly away from his mind.
Isabelle and her mother drove into town at four, and they rode up
smiling Prospect Avenue, through the gay crowd, to have tea at
Cottage. The clubs had their annual dinners that night, so at
seven he loaned her to a freshman and arranged to meet her in the
gymnasium at eleven, when the upper classmen were admitted to the
freshman dance. She was all he had expected, and he was happy and
eager to make that night the centre of every dream. At nine the
upper classes stood in front of the clubs as the freshman
torchlight parade rioted past, and Amory wondered if the
dress-suited groups against the dark, stately backgrounds and
under the flare of the torches made the night as brilliant to the
staring, cheering freshmen as it had been to him the year before.
The next day was another whirl. They lunched in a gay party of
six in a private dining-room at the club, while Isabelle and
Amory looked at each other tenderly over the fried chicken and
knew that their love was to be eternal. They danced away the prom
until five, and the stags cut in on Isabelle with joyous abandon,
which grew more and more enthusiastic as the hour grew late, and
their wines, stored in overcoat pockets in the coat room, made
old weariness wait until another day. The stag line is a most
homogeneous mass of men. It fairly sways with a single soul. A
dark-haired beauty dances by and there is a half-gasping sound as
the ripple surges forward and some one sleeker than the rest
darts out and cuts in. Then when the six-foot girl (brought by
Kaye in your class, and to whom he has been trying to introduce
you all evening) gallops by, the line surges back and the groups
face about and become intent on far corners of the hall, for
Kaye, anxious and perspiring, appears elbowing through the crowd
in search of familiar faces.
"I say, old man, I've got an awfully nice"
"Sorry, Kaye, but I'm set for this one. I've got to cut in on a
"Well, the next one?"
"WhataherI swear I've got to go cut inlook me up when she's got a
It delighted Amory when Isabelle suggested that they leave for a
while and drive around in her car. For a delicious hour that
passed too soon they glided the silent roads about Princeton and
talked from the surface of their hearts in shy excitement. Amory
felt strangely ingenuous and made no attempt to kiss her.
Next day they rode up through the Jersey country, had luncheon in
New York, and in the afternoon went to see a problem play at
which Isabelle wept all through the second act, rather to Amory's
embarrassmentthough it filled him with tenderness to watch her.
He was tempted to lean over and kiss away her tears, and she
slipped her hand into his under cover of darkness to be pressed
Then at six they arrived at the Borgis' summer place on Long
Island, and Amory rushed up-stairs to change into a dinner coat.
As he put in his studs he realized that he was enjoying life as
he would probably never enjoy it again. Everything was hallowed
by the haze of his own youth. He had arrived, abreast of the best
in his generation at Princeton. He was in love and his love was
returned. Turning on all the lights, he looked at himself in the
mirror, trying to find in his own face the qualities that made
him see clearer than the great crowd of people, that made him
decide firmly, and able to influence and follow his own will.
There was little in his life now that he would have changed....
Oxford might have been a bigger field.
Silently he admired himself. How conveniently well he looked, and
how well a dinner coat became him. He stepped into the hall and
then waited at the top of the stairs, for he heard footsteps
coming. It was Isabelle, and from the top of her shining hair to
her little golden slippers she had never seemed so beautiful.
"Isabelle!" he cried, half involuntarily, and held out his arms.
As in the story-books, she ran into them, and on that
half-minute, as their lips first touched, rested the high point
of vanity, the crest of his young egotism.
The Romantic Egotist
The Egotist Considers
"OUCH! Let me go!"
He dropped his arms to his sides.
"What's the matter?"
"Your shirt studit hurt melook!" She was looking down at her
neck, where a little blue spot about the size of a pea marred its
"Oh, Isabelle," he reproached himself, "I'm a goopher. Really,
I'm sorryI shouldn't have held you so close."
She looked up impatiently.
"Oh, Amory, of course you couldn't help it, and it didn't hurt
much; but what are we going to do about it?"
"Do about it?" he asked. "Ohthat spot; it'll disappear in a
"It isn't," she said, after a moment of concentrated gazing,
"it's still thereand it looks like Old Nickoh, Amory, what'll we
do! It's just the height of your shoulder."
"Massage it," he suggested, repressing the faintest inclination
She rubbed it delicately with the tips of her fingers, and then a
tear gathered in the corner of her eye, and slid down her cheek.
"Oh, Amory," she said despairingly, lifting up a most pathetic
face, "I'll just make my whole neck flame if I rub it. What'll I
A quotation sailed into his head and he couldn't resist repeating
"All the perfumes of Arabia will not whiten this little hand."
She looked up and the sparkle of the tear in her eye was like
"You're not very sympathetic."
Amory mistook her meaning.
"Isabelle, darling, I think it'll"
"Don't touch me!" she cried. "Haven't I enough on my mind and you
stand there and laugh!"
Then he slipped again.
"Well, it is funny, Isabelle, and we were talking the other day
about a sense of humor being"
She was looking at him with something that was not a smile,
rather the faint, mirthless echo of a smile, in the corners of
"Oh, shut up!" she cried suddenly, and fled down the hallway
toward her room. Amory stood there, covered with remorseful
When Isabelle reappeared she had thrown a light wrap about her
shoulders, and they descended the stairs in a silence that
endured through dinner.
"Isabelle," he began rather testily, as they arranged themselves
in the car, bound for a dance at the Greenwich Country Club,
"you're angry, and I'll be, too, in a minute. Let's kiss and make
Isabelle considered glumly.
"I hate to be laughed at," she said finally.
"I won't laugh any more. I'm not laughing now, am I?"
"Oh, don't be so darned feminine."
Her lips curled slightly.
"I'll be anything I want."
Amory kept his temper with difficulty. He became aware that he
had not an ounce of real affection for Isabelle, but her coldness
piqued him. He wanted to kiss her, kiss her a lot, because then
he knew he could leave in the morning and not care. On the
contrary, if he didn't kiss her, it would worry him.... It would
interfere vaguely with his idea of himself as a conqueror. It
wasn't dignified to come off second best, pleading, with a
doughty warrior like Isabelle.
Perhaps she suspected this. At any rate, Amory watched the night
that should have been the consummation of romance glide by with
great moths overhead and the heavy fragrance of roadside gardens,
but without those broken words, those little sighs....
Afterward they suppered on ginger ale and devil's food in the
pantry, and Amory announced a decision.
"I'm leaving early in the morning."
"Why not?" he countered.
"There's no need."
"However, I'm going."
"Well, if you insist on being ridiculous"
"Oh, don't put it that way," he objected.
"just because I won't let you kiss me. Do you think"
"Now, Isabelle," he interrupted, "you know it's not thateven
suppose it is. We've reached the stage where we either ought to
kissorornothing. It isn't as if you were refusing on moral
"I really don't know what to think about you," she began, in a
feeble, perverse attempt at conciliation. "You're so funny."
"Well, I thought you had a lot of self-confidence and all that;
remember you told me the other day that you could do anything you
wanted, or get anything you wanted?"
Amory flushed. He had told her a lot of things.
"Well, you didn't seem to feel so self-confident to-night. Maybe
you're just plain conceited."
"No, I'm not," he hesitated. "At Princeton"
"Oh, you and Princeton! You'd think that was the world, the way
you talk! Perhaps you can write better than anybody else on your
old Princetonian; maybe the freshmen do think you're important"
"You don't understand"
"Yes, I do," she interrupted. "I do, because you're always
talking about yourself and I used to like it; now I don't."
"Have I to-night?"
"That's just the point," insisted Isabelle. "You got all upset
to-night. You just sat and watched my eyes. Besides, I have to
think all the time I'm talking to youyou're so critical."
"I make you think, do I?" Amory repeated with a touch of vanity.
"You're a nervous strain"this emphatically"and when you analyze
every little emotion and instinct I just don't have 'em."
"I know." Amory admitted her point and shook his head helplessly.
"Let's go." She stood up.
He rose abstractedly and they walked to the foot of the stairs.
"What train can I get?"
"There's one about 9:11 if you really must go."
"Yes, I've got to go, really. Good night."
They were at the head of the stairs, and as Amory turned into his
room he thought he caught just the faintest cloud of discontent
in her face. He lay awake in the darkness and wondered how much
he caredhow much of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanitywhether
he was, after all, temperamentally unfitted for romance.
When he awoke, it was with a glad flood of consciousness. The
early wind stirred the chintz curtains at the windows and he was
idly puzzled not to be in his room at Princeton with his school
football picture over the bureau and the Triangle Club on the
wall opposite. Then the grandfather's clock in the hall outside
struck eight, and the memory of the night before came to him. He
was out of bed, dressing, like the wind; he must get out of the
house before he saw Isabelle. What had seemed a melancholy
happening, now seemed a tiresome anticlimax. He was dressed at
half past, so he sat down by the window; felt that the sinews of
his heart were twisted somewhat more than he had thought. What an
ironic mockery the morning seemed!bright and sunny, and full of
the smell of the garden; hearing Mrs. Borgi's voice in the
sun-parlor below, he wondered where was Isabelle.
There was a knock at the door.
"The car will be around at ten minutes of nine, sir."
He returned to his contemplation of the outdoors, and began
repeating over and over, mechanically, a verse from Browning,
which he had once quoted to Isabelle in a letter:
"Each life unfulfilled, you see,
It hangs still, patchy and scrappy;
We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
Starved, feasted, despairedbeen happy."
But his life would not be unfulfilled. He took a sombre
satisfaction in thinking that perhaps all along she had been
nothing except what he had read into her; that this was her high
point, that no one else would ever make her think. Yet that was
what she had objected to in him; and Amory was suddenly tired of
"Damn her!" he said bitterly, "she's spoiled my year!"
THE SUPERMAN GROWS CARELESS
On a dusty day in September Amory arrived in Princeton and joined
the sweltering crowd of conditioned men who thronged the streets.
It seemed a stupid way to commence his upper-class years, to
spend four hours a morning in the stuffy room of a tutoring
school, imbibing the infinite boredom of conic sections. Mr.
Rooney, pander to the dull, conducted the class and smoked
innumerable Pall Malls as he drew diagrams and worked equations
from six in the morning until midnight.
"Now, Langueduc, if I used that formula, where would my A point
Langueduc lazily shifts his six-foot-three of football material
and tries to concentrate.
"OhahI'm damned if I know, Mr. Rooney."
"Oh, why of course, of course you can't use that formula. That's
what I wanted you to say."
"Why, sure, of course."
"Do you see why?"
"You betI suppose so."
"If you don't see, tell me. I'm here to show you."
"Well, Mr. Rooney, if you don't mind, I wish you'd go over that
"Gladly. Now here's 'A'..."
The room was a study in stupiditytwo huge stands for paper, Mr.
Rooney in his shirt-sleeves in front of them, and slouched around
on chairs, a dozen men: Fred Sloane, the pitcher, who absolutely
had to get eligible; "Slim" Langueduc, who would beat Yale this
fall, if only he could master a poor fifty per cent; McDowell,
gay young sophomore, who thought it was quite a sporting thing to
be tutoring here with all these prominent athletes.
"Those poor birds who haven't a cent to tutor, and have to study
during the term are the ones I pity," he announced to Amory one
day, with a flaccid camaraderie in the droop of the cigarette
from his pale lips. "I should think it would be such a bore,
there's so much else to do in New York during the term. I suppose
they don't know what they miss, anyhow." There was such an air of
"you and I" about Mr. McDowell that Amory very nearly pushed him
out of the open window when he said this.... Next February his
mother would wonder why he didn't make a club and increase his
allowance ... simple little nut....
Through the smoke and the air of solemn, dense earnestness that
filled the room would come the inevitable helpless cry:
"I don't get it! Repeat that, Mr. Rooney!" Most of them were so
stupid or careless that they wouldn't admit when they didn't
understand, and Amory was of the latter. He found it impossible
to study conic sections; something in their calm and tantalizing
respectability breathing defiantly through Mr. Rooney's fetid
parlors distorted their equations into insoluble anagrams. He
made a last night's effort with the proverbial wet towel, and
then blissfully took the exam, wondering unhappily why all the
color and ambition of the spring before had faded out. Somehow,
with the defection of Isabelle the idea of undergraduate success
had loosed its grasp on his imagination, and he contemplated a
possible failure to pass off his condition with equanimity, even
though it would arbitrarily mean his removal from the
Princetonian board and the slaughter of his chances for the
There was always his luck.
He yawned, scribbled his honor pledge on the cover, and sauntered
from the room.
"If you don't pass it," said the newly arrived Alec as they sat
on the window-seat of Amory's room and mused upon a scheme of
wall decoration, "you're the world's worst goopher. Your stock
will go down like an elevator at the club and on the campus."
"Oh, hell, I know it. Why rub it in?"
"'Cause you deserve it. Anybody that'd risk what you were in line
for ought to be ineligible for Princetonian chairman."
"Oh, drop the subject," Amory protested. "Watch and wait and shut
up. I don't want every one at the club asking me about it, as if
I were a prize potato being fattened for a vegetable show."
One evening a week later Amory stopped below his own window on
the way to Renwick's, and, seeing a light, called up:
"Oh, Tom, any mail?"
Alec's head appeared against the yellow square of light.
"Yes, your result's here."
His heart clamored violently.
"What is it, blue or pink?"
"Don't know. Better come up."
He walked into the room and straight over to the table, and then
suddenly noticed that there were other people in the room.
"'Lo, Kerry." He was most polite. "Ah, men of Princeton." They
seemed to be mostly friends, so he picked up the envelope marked
"We have here quite a slip of paper."
"Open it, Amory."
"Just to be dramatic, I'll let you know that if it's blue, my
name is withdrawn from the editorial board of the Prince, and my
short career is over."
He paused, and then saw for the first time Ferrenby's eyes,
wearing a hungry look and watching him eagerly. Amory returned
the gaze pointedly.
"Watch my face, gentlemen, for the primitive emotions."
He tore it open and held the slip up to the light.
"Pink or blue?"
"Say what it is."
"We're all ears, Amory."
"Smile or swearor something."
There was a pause ... a small crowd of seconds swept by ... then
he looked again and another crowd went on into time.
"Blue as the sky, gentlemen...."
What Amory did that year from early September to late in the
spring was so purposeless and inconsecutive that it seems
scarcely worth recording. He was, of course, immediately sorry
for what he had lost. His philosophy of success had tumbled down
upon him, and he looked for the reasons.
"Your own laziness," said Alec later.
"Nosomething deeper than that. I've begun to feel that I was
meant to lose this chance."
"They're rather off you at the club, you know; every man that
doesn't come through makes our crowd just so much weaker."
"I hate that point of view."
"Of course, with a little effort you could still stage a
"NoI'm throughas far as ever being a power in college is
"But, Amory, honestly, what makes me the angriest isn't the fact
that you won't be chairman of the Prince and on the Senior
Council, but just that you didn't get down and pass that exam."
"Not me," said Amory slowly; "I'm mad at the concrete thing. My
own idleness was quite in accord with my system, but the luck
"Your system broke, you mean."
"Well, what are you going to do? Get a better one quick, or just
bum around for two more years as a has-been?"
"I don't know yet..."
"Oh, Amory, buck up!"
Amory's point of view, though dangerous, was not far from the
true one. If his reactions to his environment could be tabulated,
the chart would have appeared like this, beginning with his
1. The fundamental Amory.
2. Amory plus Beatrice.
3. Amory plus Beatrice plus Minneapolis.
Then St. Regis' had pulled him to pieces and started him over
4. Amory plus St. Regis'.
5. Amory plus St. Regis' plus Princeton.
That had been his nearest approach to success through conformity.
The fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been
nearly snowed under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as
his imagination was neither satisfied nor grasped by his own
success, he had listlessly, half-accidentally chucked the whole
thing and become again:
6. The fundamental Amory.
His father died quietly and inconspicuously at Thanksgiving. The
incongruity of death with either the beauties of Lake Geneva or
with his mother's dignified, reticent attitude diverted him, and
he looked at the funeral with an amused tolerance. He decided
that burial was after all preferable to cremation, and he smiled
at his old boyhood choice, slow oxidation in the top of a tree.
The day after the ceremony he was amusing himself in the great
library by sinking back on a couch in graceful mortuary
attitudes, trying to determine whether he would, when his day
came, be found with his arms crossed piously over his chest
(Monsignor Darcy had once advocated this posture as being the
most distinguished), or with his hands clasped behind his head, a
more pagan and Byronic attitude.
What interested him much more than the final departure of his
father from things mundane was a tri-cornered conversation
between Beatrice, Mr. Barton, of Barton and Krogman, their
lawyers, and himself, that took place several days after the
funeral. For the first time he came into actual cognizance of the
family finances, and realized what a tidy fortune had once been
under his father's management. He took a ledger labelled "1906"
and ran through it rather carefully. The total expenditure that
year had come to something over one hundred and ten thousand
dollars. Forty thousand of this had been Beatrice's own income,
and there had been no attempt to account for it: it was all under
the heading, "Drafts, checks, and letters of credit forwarded to
Beatrice Blaine." The dispersal of the rest was rather minutely
itemized: the taxes and improvements on the Lake Geneva estate
had come to almost nine thousand dollars; the general up-keep,
including Beatrice's electric and a French car, bought that year,
was over thirty-five thousand dollars. The rest was fully taken
care of, and there were invariably items which failed to balance
on the right side of the ledger.
In the volume for 1912 Amory was shocked to discover the decrease
in the number of bond holdings and the great drop in the income.
In the case of Beatrice's money this was not so pronounced, but
it was obvious that his father had devoted the previous year to
several unfortunate gambles in oil. Very little of the oil had
been burned, but Stephen Blaine had been rather badly singed. The
next year and the next and the next showed similar decreases, and
Beatrice had for the first time begun using her own money for
keeping up the house. Yet her doctor's bill for 1913 had been
over nine thousand dollars.
About the exact state of things Mr. Barton was quite vague and
confused. There had been recent investments, the outcome of which
was for the present problematical, and he had an idea there were
further speculations and exchanges concerning which he had not
It was not for several months that Beatrice wrote Amory the full
situation. The entire residue of the Blaine and O'Hara fortunes
consisted of the place at Lake Geneva and approximately a half
million dollars, invested now in fairly conservative six-per-cent
into railroad and street-car bonds as fast as she could
conveniently transfer it.
"I am quite sure," she wrote to Amory, "that if there is one
thing we can be positive of, it is that people will not stay in
one place. This Ford person has certainly made the most of that
idea. So I am instructing Mr. Barton to specialize on such things
as Northern Pacific and these Rapid Transit Companies, as they
call the street-cars. I shall never forgive myself for not buying
Bethlehem Steel. I've heard the most fascinating stories. You
must go into finance, Amory. I'm sure you would revel in it. You
start as a messenger or a teller, I believe, and from that you go
upalmost indefinitely. I'm sure if I were a man I'd love the
handling of money; it has become quite a senile passion with me.
Before I get any farther I want to discuss something. A Mrs.
Bispam, an overcordial little lady whom I met at a tea the other
day, told me that her son, he is at Yale, wrote her that all the
boys there wore their summer underwear all during the winter, and
also went about with their heads wet and in low shoes on the
coldest days. Now, Amory, I don't know whether that is a fad at
Princeton too, but I don't want you to be so foolish. It not only
inclines a young man to pneumonia and infantile paralysis, but to
all forms of lung trouble, to which you are particularly
inclined. You cannot experiment with your health. I have found
that out. I will not make myself ridiculous as some mothers no
doubt do, by insisting that you wear overshoes, though I remember
one Christmas you wore them around constantly without a single
buckle latched, making such a curious swishing sound, and you
refused to buckle them because it was not the thing to do. The
very next Christmas you would not wear even rubbers, though I
begged you. You are nearly twenty years old now, dear, and I
can't be with you constantly to find whether you are doing the
"This has been a very practical letter. I warned you in my last
that the lack of money to do the things one wants to makes one
quite prosy and domestic, but there is still plenty for
everything if we are not too extravagant. Take care of yourself,
my dear boy, and do try to write at least once a week, because I
imagine all sorts of horrible things if I don't hear from you.
FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE TERM "PERSONAGE"
Monsignor Darcy invited Amory up to the Stuart palace on the
Hudson for a week at Christmas, and they had enormous
conversations around the open fire. Monsignor was growing a
trifle stouter and his personality had expanded even with that,
and Amory felt both rest and security in sinking into a squat,
cushioned chair and joining him in the middle-aged sanity of a
"I've felt like leaving college, Monsignor."
"All my career's gone up in smoke; you think it's petty and all
"Not at all petty. I think it's most important. I want to hear
the whole thing. Everything you've been doing since I saw you
Amory talked; he went thoroughly into the destruction of his
egotistic highways, and in a half-hour the listless quality had
left his voice.
"What would you do if you left college?" asked Monsignor.
"Don't know. I'd like to travel, but of course this tiresome war
prevents that. Anyways, mother would hate not having me graduate.
I'm just at sea. Kerry Holiday wants me to go over with him and
join the Lafayette Esquadrille."
"You know you wouldn't like to go."
"Sometimes I wouldto-night I'd go in a second."
"Well, you'd have to be very much more tired of life than I think
you are. I know you."
"I'm afraid you do," agreed Amory reluctantly. "It just seemed an
easy way out of everythingwhen I think of another useless, draggy
"Yes, I know; but to tell you the truth, I'm not worried about
you; you seem to me to be progressing perfectly naturally."
"No," Amory objected. "I've lost half my personality in a year."
"Not a bit of it!" scoffed Monsignor. "You've lost a great amount
of vanity and that's all."
"Lordy! I feel, anyway, as if I'd gone through another fifth form
at St. Regis's."
"No." Monsignor shook his head. "That was a misfortune; this has
been a good thing. Whatever worth while comes to you, won't be
through the channels you were searching last year."
"What could be more unprofitable than my present lack of pep?"
"Perhaps in itself ... but you're developing. This has given you
time to think and you're casting off a lot of your old luggage
about success and the superman and all. People like us can't
adopt whole theories, as you did. If we can do the next thing,
and have an hour a day to think in, we can accomplish marvels,
but as far as any high-handed scheme of blind dominance is
concernedwe'd just make asses of ourselves."
"But, Monsignor, I can't do the next thing."
"Amory, between you and me, I have only just learned to do it
myself. I can do the one hundred things beyond the next thing,
but I stub my toe on that, just as you stubbed your toe on
mathematics this fall."
"Why do we have to do the next thing? It never seems the sort of
thing I should do."
"We have to do it because we're not personalities, but
"That's a good linewhat do you mean?"
"A personality is what you thought you were, what this Kerry and
Sloane you tell me of evidently are. Personality is a physical
matter almost entirely; it lowers the people it acts onI've seen
it vanish in a long sickness. But while a personality is active,
it overrides 'the next thing.' Now a personage, on the other
hand, gathers. He is never thought of apart from what he's done.
He's a bar on which a thousand things have been hungglittering
things sometimes, as ours are; but he uses those things with a
cold mentality back of them."
"And several of my most glittering possessions had fallen off
when I needed them." Amory continued the simile eagerly.
"Yes, that's it; when you feel that your garnered prestige and
talents and all that are hung out, you need never bother about
anybody; you can cope with them without difficulty."
"But, on the other hand, if I haven't my possessions, I'm
"That's certainly an idea."
"Now you've a clean starta start Kerry or Sloane can
constitutionally never have. You brushed three or four ornaments
down, and, in a fit of pique, knocked off the rest of them. The
ahead in the collecting the better. But remember, do the next
"How clear you can make things!"
So they talked, often about themselves, sometimes of philosophy
and religion, and life as respectively a game or a mystery. The
priest seemed to guess Amory's thoughts before they were clear in
his own head, so closely related were their minds in form and
"Why do I make lists?" Amory asked him one night. "Lists of all
sorts of things?"
"Because you're a medifvalist," Monsignor answered. "We both are.
It's the passion for classifying and finding a type."
"It's a desire to get something definite."
"It's the nucleus of scholastic philosophy."
"I was beginning to think I was growing eccentric till I came up
here. It was a pose, I guess."
"Don't worry about that; for you not posing may be the biggest
pose of all. Pose"
"But do the next thing."
After Amory returned to college he received several letters from
Monsignor which gave him more egotistic food for consumption.
I am afraid that I gave you too much assurance of your inevitable
safety, and you must remember that I did that through faith in
your springs of effort; not in the silly conviction that you will
arrive without struggle. Some nuances of character you will have
to take for granted in yourself, though you must be careful in
confessing them to others. You are unsentimental, almost
incapable of affection, astute without being cunning and vain
without being proud.
Don't let yourself feel worthless; often through life you will
really be at your worst when you seem to think best of yourself;
and don't worry about losing your "personality," as you persist
in calling it; at fifteen you had the radiance of early morning,
at twenty you will begin to have the melancholy brilliance of the
moon, and when you are my age you will give out, as I do, the
genial golden warmth of 4 P.M.
If you write me letters, please let them be natural ones. Your
last, that dissertation on architecture, was perfectly awfulso
"highbrow" that I picture you living in an intellectual and
emotional vacuum; and beware of trying to classify people too
definitely into types; you will find that all through their youth
they will persist annoyingly in jumping from class to class, and
by pasting a supercilious label on every one you meet you are
merely packing a Jack-in-the-box that will spring up and leer at
you when you begin to come into really antagonistic contact with
the world. An idealization of some such a man as Leonardo da
Vinci would be a more valuable beacon to you at present.
You are bound to go up and down, just as I did in my youth, but
do keep your clarity of mind, and if fools or sages dare to
criticise don't blame yourself too much.
You say that convention is all that really keeps you straight in
this "woman proposition"; but it's more than that, Amory; it's
the fear that what you begin you can't stop; you would run amuck,
and I know whereof I speak; it's that half-miraculous sixth sense
by which you detect evil, it's the half-realized fear of God in
Whatever your metier proves to bereligion, architecture,
literatureI'm sure you would be much safer anchored to the
Church, but I won't risk my influence by arguing with you even
though I am secretly sure that the "black chasm of Romanism"
yawns beneath you. Do write me soon.
With affectionate regards, THAYER DARCY.
Even Amory's reading paled during this period; he delved further
into the misty side streets of literature: Huysmans, Walter
Pater, Theophile Gautier, and the racier sections of Rabelais,
Boccaccio, Petronius, and Suetonius. One week, through general
curiosity, he inspected the private libraries of his classmates
and found Sloane's as typical as any: sets of Kipling, O. Henry,
John Fox, Jr., and Richard Harding Davis; "What Every Middle-Aged
Woman Ought to Know," "The Spell of the Yukon"; a "gift" copy of
James Whitcomb Riley, an assortment of battered, annotated
schoolbooks, and, finally, to his surprise, one of his own late
discoveries, the collected poems of Rupert Brooke.
Together with Tom D'Invilliers, he sought among the lights of
Princeton for some one who might found the Great American Poetic
The undergraduate body itself was rather more interesting that
year than had been the entirely Philistine Princeton of two years
before. Things had livened surprisingly, though at the sacrifice
of much of the spontaneous charm of freshman year. In the old
Princeton they would never have discovered Tanaduke Wylie.
Tanaduke was a sophomore, with tremendous ears and a way of
saying, "The earth swirls down through the ominous moons of
preconsidered generations!" that made them vaguely wonder why it
did not sound quite clear, but never question that it was the
utterance of a supersoul. At least so Tom and Amory took him.
They told him in all earnestness that he had a mind like
Shelley's, and featured his ultrafree free verse and prose poetry
in the Nassau Literary Magazine. But Tanaduke's genius absorbed
the many colors of the age, and he took to the Bohemian life, to
their great disappointment. He talked of Greenwich Village now
instead of "noon-swirled moons," and met winter muses,
unacademic, and cloistered by Forty-second Street and Broadway,
instead of the Shelleyan dream-children with whom he had regaled
their expectant appreciation. So they surrendered Tanaduke to the
futurists, deciding that he and his flaming ties would do better
there. Tom gave him the final advice that he should stop writing
for two years and read the complete works of Alexander Pope four
times, but on Amory's suggestion that Pope for Tanaduke was like
foot-ease for stomach trouble, they withdrew in laughter, and
called it a coin's toss whether this genius was too big or too
petty for them.
Amory rather scornfully avoided the popular professors who
dispensed easy epigrams and thimblefuls of Chartreuse to groups
of admirers every night. He was disappointed, too, at the air of
general uncertainty on every subject that seemed linked with the
pedantic temperament; his opinions took shape in a miniature
satire called "In a Lecture-Room," which he persuaded Tom to
print in the Nassau Lit.
Three times a week
You hold us helpless while you speak,
Teasing our thirsty souls with the
Sleek 'yeas' of your philosophy...
Well, here we are, your hundred sheep,
Tune up, play on, pour forth ... we sleep...
You are a student, so they say;
You hammered out the other day
A syllabus, from what we know
Of some forgotten folio;
You'd sniffled through an era's must,
Filling your nostrils up with dust,
And then, arising from your knees,
Published, in one gigantic sneeze...
But here's a neighbor on my right,
An Eager Ass, considered bright;
Asker of questions.... How he'll stand,
With earnest air and fidgy hand,
After this hour, telling you
He sat all night and burrowed through
Your book.... Oh, you'll be coy and he
Will simulate precosity,
And pedants both, you'll smile and smirk,
And leer, and hasten back to work....
'Twas this day week, sir, you returned
A theme of mine, from which I learned
(Through various comment on the side
Which you had scrawled) that I defied
The highest rules of criticism
For cheap and careless witticism....
'Are you quite sure that this could be?'
'Shaw is no authority!'
But Eager Ass, with what he's sent,
Plays havoc with your best per cent.
Stillstill I meet you here and there...
When Shakespeare's played you hold a chair,
And some defunct, moth-eaten star
Enchants the mental prig you are...
A radical comes down and shocks
The atheistic orthodox?
You're representing Common Sense,
Mouth open, in the audience.
And, sometimes, even chapel lures
That conscious tolerance of yours,
That broad and beaming view of truth
(Including Kant and General Booth...)
And so from shock to shock you live,
A hollow, pale affirmative...
The hour's up ... and roused from rest
One hundred children of the blest
Cheat you a word or two with feet
That down the noisy aisle-ways beat...
Forget on narrow-minded earth
The Mighty Yawn that gave you birth."
In April, Kerry Holiday left college and sailed for France to
enroll in the Lafayette Esquadrille. Amory's envy and admiration
of this step was drowned in an experience of his own to which he
never succeeded in giving an appropriate value, but which,
nevertheless, haunted him for three years afterward.
Healy's they left at twelve and taxied to Bistolary's. There were
Axia Marlowe and Phoebe Column, from the Summer Garden show, Fred
Sloane and Amory. The evening was so very young that they felt
ridiculous with surplus energy, and burst into the cafi like
"Table for four in the middle of the floor," yelled Phoebe.
"Hurry, old dear, tell 'em we're here!"
"Tell 'em to play 'Admiration'!" shouted Sloane. "You two order;
Phoebe and I are going to shake a wicked calf," and they sailed
off in the muddled crowd. Axia and Amory, acquaintances of an
hour, jostled behind a waiter to a table at a point of vantage;
there they took seats and watched.
"There's Findle Margotson, from New Haven!" she cried above the
uproar. "'Lo, Findle! Whoo-ee!"
"Oh, Axia!" he shouted in salutation. "C'mon over to our table."
"No!" Amory whispered.
"Can't do it, Findle; I'm with somebody else! Call me up
to-morrow about one o'clock!"
Findle, a nondescript man-about-Bisty's, answered incoherently
and turned back to the brilliant blonde whom he was endeavoring
to steer around the room.
"There's a natural damn fool," commented Amory.
"Oh, he's all right. Here's the old jitney waiter. If you ask me,
I want a double Daiquiri."
"Make it four."
The crowd whirled and changed and shifted. They were mostly from
the colleges, with a scattering of the male refuse of Broadway,
and women of two types, the higher of which was the chorus girl.
On the whole it was a typical crowd, and their party as typical
as any. About three-fourths of the whole business was for effect
and therefore harmless, ended at the door of the cafi, soon
enough for the five-o'clock train back to Yale or Princeton;
about one-fourth continued on into the dimmer hours and gathered
strange dust from strange places. Their party was scheduled to be
one of the harmless kind. Fred Sloane and Phoebe Column were old
friends; Axia and Amory new ones. But strange things are prepared
even in the dead of night, and the unusual, which lurks least in
the cafi, home of the prosaic and inevitable, was preparing to
spoil for him the waning romance of Broadway. The way it took was
so inexpressibly terrible, so unbelievable, that afterward he
never thought of it as experience; but it was a scene from a
misty tragedy, played far behind the veil, and that it meant
something definite he knew.
About one o'clock they moved to Maxim's, and two found them in
Devinihre's. Sloane had been drinking consecutively and was in a
state of unsteady exhilaration, but Amory was quite tiresomely
sober; they had run across none of those ancient, corrupt buyers
of champagne who usually assisted their New York parties.
They were just through dancing and were making their way back to
their chairs when Amory became aware that some one at a near-by
table was looking at him. He turned and glanced casually ... a
middle-aged man dressed in a brown sack suit, it was, sitting a
little apart at a table by himself and watching their party
intently. At Amory's glance he smiled faintly. Amory turned to
"Who's that pale fool watching us?" he complained indignantly.
"Where?" cried Sloane. "We'll have him thrown out!" He rose to
his feet and swayed back and forth, clinging to his chair. "Where
Axia and Phoebe suddenly leaned and whispered to each other
across the table, and before Amory realized it they found
themselves on their way to the door.
"Up to the flat," suggested Phoebe. "We've got brandy and fizzand
everything's slow down here to-night."
Amory considered quickly. He hadn't been drinking, and decided
that if he took no more, it would be reasonably discreet for him
to trot along in the party. In fact, it would be, perhaps, the
thing to do in order to keep an eye on Sloane, who was not in a
state to do his own thinking. So he took Axia's arm and, piling
intimately into a taxicab, they drove out over the hundreds and
drew up at a tall, white-stone apartment-house.... Never would he
forget that street.... It was a broad street, lined on both sides
with just such tall, white-stone buildings, dotted with dark
windows; they stretched along as far as the eye could see,
flooded with a bright moonlight that gave them a calcium pallor.
He imagined each one to have an elevator and a colored hall-boy
and a key-rack; each one to be eight stories high and full of
three and four room suites. He was rather glad to walk into the
cheeriness of Phoebe's living-room and sink onto a sofa, while
the girls went rummaging for food.
"Phoebe's great stuff," confided Sloane, sotto voce.
"I'm only going to stay half an hour," Amory said sternly. He
wondered if it sounded priggish.
"Hell y' say," protested Sloane. "We're here nowdon't le's rush."
"I don't like this place," Amory said sulkily, "and I don't want
Phoebe reappeared with sandwiches, brandy bottle, siphon, and
"Amory, pour 'em out," she said, "and we'll drink to Fred Sloane,
who has a rare, distinguished edge."
"Yes," said Axia, coming in, "and Amory. I like Amory." She sat
down beside him and laid her yellow head on his shoulder.
"I'll pour," said Sloane; "you use siphon, Phoebe."
They filled the tray with glasses.
"Ready, here she goes!"
Amory hesitated, glass in hand.
There was a minute while temptation crept over him like a warm
wind, and his imagination turned to fire, and he took the glass
from Phoebe's hand. That was all; for at the second that his
decision came, he looked up and saw, ten yards from him, the man
who had been in the cafi, and with his jump of astonishment the
glass fell from his uplifted hand. There the man half sat, half
leaned against a pile of pillows on the corner divan. His face
was cast in the same yellow wax as in the cafi, neither the dull,
pasty color of a dead manrather a sort of virile pallornor
unhealthy, you'd have called it; but like a strong man who'd
worked in a mine or done night shifts in a damp climate. Amory
looked him over carefully and later he could have drawn him after
a fashion, down to the merest details. His mouth was the kind
that is called frank, and he had steady gray eyes that moved
slowly from one to the other of their group, with just the shade
of a questioning expression. Amory noticed his hands; they
weren't fine at all, but they had versatility and a tenuous
strength ... they were nervous hands that sat lightly along the
cushions and moved constantly with little jerky openings and
closings. Then, suddenly, Amory perceived the feet, and with a
rush of blood to the head he realized he was afraid. The feet
were all wrong ... with a sort of wrongness that he felt rather
than knew.... It was like weakness in a good woman, or blood on
satin; one of those terrible incongruities that shake little
things in the back of the brain. He wore no shoes, but, instead,
a sort of half moccasin, pointed, though, like the shoes they
wore in the fourteenth century, and with the little ends curling
up. They were a darkish brown and his toes seemed to fill them to
the end.... They were unutterably terrible....
He must have said something, or looked something, for Axia's
voice came out of the void with a strange goodness.
"Well, look at Amory! Poor old Amory's sickold head going
"Look at that man!" cried Amory, pointing toward the corner
"You mean that purple zebra!" shrieked Axia facetiously. "Ooo-ee!
Amory's got a purple zebra watching him!"
Sloane laughed vacantly.
"Ole zebra gotcha, Amory?"
There was a silence.... The man regarded Amory quizzically....
Then the human voices fell faintly on his ear:
"Thought you weren't drinking," remarked Axia sardonically, but
her voice was good to hear; the whole divan that held the man was
alive; alive like heat waves over asphalt, like wriggling
"Come back! Come back!" Axia's arm fell on his. "Amory, dear, you
aren't going, Amory!" He was half-way to the door.
"Come on, Amory, stick 'th us!"
"Sick, are you?"
"Sit down a second!"
"Take some water."
"Take a little brandy...."
The elevator was close, and the colored boy was half asleep,
paled to a livid bronze ... Axia's beseeching voice floated down
the shaft. Those feet ... those feet...
As they settled to the lower floor the feet came into view in the
sickly electric light of the paved hall.
IN THE ALLEY
Down the long street came the moon, and Amory turned his back on
it and walked. Ten, fifteen steps away sounded the footsteps.
They were like a slow dripping, with just the slightest
insistence in their fall. Amory's shadow lay, perhaps, ten feet
ahead of him, and soft shoes was presumably that far behind. With
the instinct of a child Amory edged in under the blue darkness of
the white buildings, cleaving the moonlight for haggard seconds,
once bursting into a slow run with clumsy stumblings. After that
he stopped suddenly; he must keep hold, he thought. His lips were
dry and he licked them.
If he met any one goodwere there any good people left in the
world or did they all live in white apartment-houses now? Was
every one followed in the moonlight? But if he met some one good
who'd know what he meant and hear this damned scuffle ... then
the scuffling grew suddenly nearer, and a black cloud settled
over the moon. When again the pale sheen skimmed the cornices, it
was almost beside him, and Amory thought he heard a quiet
breathing. Suddenly he realized that the footsteps were not
behind, had never been behind, they were ahead and he was not
eluding but following ... following. He began to run, blindly,
his heart knocking heavily, his hands clinched. Far ahead a black
dot showed itself, resolved slowly into a human shape. But Amory
was beyond that now; he turned off the street and darted into an
alley, narrow and dark and smelling of old rottenness. He twisted
down a long, sinuous blackness, where the moonlight was shut away
except for tiny glints and patches ... then suddenly sank panting
into a corner by a fence, exhausted. The steps ahead stopped, and
he could hear them shift slightly with a continuous motion, like
waves around a dock.
He put his face in his hands and covered eyes and ears as well as
he could. During all this time it never occurred to him that he
was delirious or drunk. He had a sense of reality such as
material things could never give him. His intellectual content
seemed to submit passively to it, and it fitted like a glove
everything that had ever preceded it in his life. It did not
muddle him. It was like a problem whose answer he knew on paper,
yet whose solution he was unable to grasp. He was far beyond
horror. He had sunk through the thin surface of that, now moved
in a region where the feet and the fear of white walls were real,
living things, things he must accept. Only far inside his soul a
little fire leaped and cried that something was pulling him down,
trying to get him inside a door and slam it behind him. After
that door was slammed there would be only footfalls and white
buildings in the moonlight, and perhaps he would be one of the
During the five or ten minutes he waited in the shadow of the
fence, there was somehow this fire ... that was as near as he
could name it afterward. He remembered calling aloud:
"I want some one stupid. Oh, send some one stupid!" This to the
black fence opposite him, in whose shadows the footsteps shuffled
... shuffled. He supposed "stupid" and "good" had become somehow
intermingled through previous association. When he called thus it
was not an act of will at allwill had turned him away from the
moving figure in the street; it was almost instinct that called,
just the pile on pile of inherent tradition or some wild prayer
from way over the night. Then something clanged like a low gong
struck at a distance, and before his eyes a face flashed over the
two feet, a face pale and distorted with a sort of infinite evil
that twisted it like flame in the wind; but he knew, for the half
instant that the gong tanged and hummed, that it was the face of
Minutes later he sprang to his feet, realizing dimly that there
was no more sound, and that he was alone in the graying alley. It
was cold, and he started on a steady run for the light that
showed the street at the other end.
AT THE WINDOW
It was late morning when he woke and found the telephone beside
his bed in the hotel tolling frantically, and remembered that he
had left word to be called at eleven. Sloane was snoring heavily,
his clothes in a pile by his bed. They dressed and ate breakfast
in silence, and then sauntered out to get some air. Amory's mind
was working slowly, trying to assimilate what had happened and
separate from the chaotic imagery that stacked his memory the
bare shreds of truth. If the morning had been cold and gray he
could have grasped the reins of the past in an instant, but it
was one of those days that New York gets sometimes in May, when
the air on Fifth Avenue is a soft, light wine. How much or how
little Sloane remembered Amory did not care to know; he
apparently had none of the nervous tension that was gripping
Amory and forcing his mind back and forth like a shrieking saw.
Then Broadway broke upon them, and with the babel of noise and
the painted faces a sudden sickness rushed over Amory.
"For God's sake, let's go back! Let's get off of thisthis place!"
"What do you mean?"
"This street, it's ghastly! Come on! let's get back to the
"Do you mean to say," said Sloane stolidly, "that 'cause you had
some sort of indigestion that made you act like a maniac last
night, you're never coming on Broadway again?"
Simultaneously Amory classed him with the crowd, and he seemed no
longer Sloane of the debonair humor and the happy personality,
but only one of the evil faces that whirled along the turbid
"Man!" he shouted so loud that the people on the corner turned
and followed them with their eyes, "it's filthy, and if you can't
see it, you're filthy, too!"
"I can't help it," said Sloane doggedly. "What's the matter with
you? Old remorse getting you? You'd be in a fine state if you'd
gone through with our little party."
"I'm going, Fred," said Amory slowly. His knees were shaking
under him, and he knew that if he stayed another minute on this
street he would keel over where he stood. "I'll be at the
Vanderbilt for lunch." And he strode rapidly off and turned over
to Fifth Avenue. Back at the hotel he felt better, but as he
walked into the barber-shop, intending to get a head massage, the
smell of the powders and tonics brought back Axia's sidelong,
suggestive smile, and he left hurriedly. In the doorway of his
room a sudden blackness flowed around him like a divided river.
When he came to himself he knew that several hours had passed. He
pitched onto the bed and rolled over on his face with a deadly
fear that he was going mad. He wanted people, people, some one
sane and stupid and good. He lay for he knew not how long without
moving. He could feel the little hot veins on his forehead
standing out, and his terror had hardened on him like plaster. He
felt he was passing up again through the thin crust of horror,
and now only could he distinguish the shadowy twilight he was
leaving. He must have fallen asleep again, for when he next
recollected himself he had paid the hotel bill and was stepping
into a taxi at the door. It was raining torrents.
On the train for Princeton he saw no one he knew, only a crowd of
fagged-looking Philadelphians. The presence of a painted woman
across the aisle filled him with a fresh burst of sickness and he
changed to another car, tried to concentrate on an article in a
popular magazine. He found himself reading the same paragraphs
over and over, so he abandoned this attempt and leaning over
wearily pressed his hot forehead against the damp window-pane.
The car, a smoker, was hot and stuffy with most of the smells of
the state's alien population; he opened a window and shivered
against the cloud of fog that drifted in over him. The two hours'
ride were like days, and he nearly cried aloud with joy when the
towers of Princeton loomed up beside him and the yellow squares
of light filtered through the blue rain.
Tom was standing in the centre of the room, pensively relighting
a cigar-stub. Amory fancied he looked rather relieved on seeing
"Had a hell of a dream about you last night," came in the cracked
voice through the cigar smoke. "I had an idea you were in some
"Don't tell me about it!" Amory almost shrieked. "Don't say a
word; I'm tired and pepped out."
Tom looked at him queerly and then sank into a chair and opened
his Italian note-book. Amory threw his coat and hat on the floor,
loosened his collar, and took a Wells novel at random from the
shelf. "Wells is sane," he thought, "and if he won't do I'll read
Half an hour passed. Outside the wind came up, and Amory started
as the wet branches moved and clawed with their finger-nails at
the window-pane. Tom was deep in his work, and inside the room
only the occasional scratch of a match or the rustle of leather
as they shifted in their chairs broke the stillness. Then like a
zigzag of lightning came the change. Amory sat bolt upright,
frozen cold in his chair. Tom was looking at him with his mouth
drooping, eyes fixed.
"God help us!" Amory cried.
"Oh, my heavens!" shouted Tom, "look behind!" Quick as a flash
Amory whirled around. He saw nothing but the dark window-pane.
"It's gone now," came Tom's voice after a second in a still
terror. "Something was looking at you."
Trembling violently, Amory dropped into his chair again.
"I've got to tell you," he said. "I've had one hell of an
experience. I think I'veI've seen the devil orsomething like him.
What face did you just see?or no," he added quickly, "don't tell
And he gave Tom the story. It was midnight when he finished, and
after that, with all lights burning, two sleepy, shivering boys
read to each other from "The New Machiavelli," until dawn came up
out of Witherspoon Hall, and the Princetonian fell against the
door, and the May birds hailed the sun on last night's rain.
The Romantic Egotist
Narcissus Off Duty
DURING Princeton's transition period, that is, during Amory's
last two years there, while he saw it change and broaden and live
up to its Gothic beauty by better means than night parades,
certain individuals arrived who stirred it to its plethoric
depths. Some of them had been freshmen, and wild freshmen, with
Amory; some were in the class below; and it was in the beginning
of his last year and around small tables at the Nassau Inn that
they began questioning aloud the institutions that Amory and
countless others before him had questioned so long in secret.
First, and partly by accident, they struck on certain books, a
definite type of biographical novel that Amory christened "quest"
books. In the "quest" book the hero set off in life armed with
the best weapons and avowedly intending to use them as such
weapons are usually used, to push their possessors ahead as
selfishly and blindly as possible, but the heroes of the "quest"
books discovered that there might be a more magnificent use for
them. "None Other Gods," "Sinister Street," and "The Research
Magnificent" were examples of such books; it was the latter of
these three that gripped Burne Holiday and made him wonder in the
beginning of senior year how much it was worth while being a
diplomatic autocrat around his club on Prospect Avenue and
basking in the high lights of class office. It was distinctly
through the channels of aristocracy that Burne found his way.
Amory, through Kerry, had had a vague drifting acquaintance with
him, but not until January of senior year did their friendship
"Heard the latest?" said Tom, coming in late one drizzly evening
with that triumphant air he always wore after a successful
"No. Somebody flunked out? Or another ship sunk?"
"Worse than that. About one-third of the junior class are going
to resign from their clubs."
Spirit of reform and all that. Burne Holiday is behind it. The
club presidents are holding a meeting to-night to see if they can
find a joint means of combating it."
"Well, what's the idea of the thing?"
"Oh, clubs injurious to Princeton democracy; cost a lot; draw
social lines, take time; the regular line you get sometimes from
disappointed sophomores. Woodrow thought they should be abolished
and all that."
"But this is the real thing?"
"Absolutely. I think it'll go through."
"For Pete's sake, tell me more about it."
"Well," began Tom, "it seems that the idea developed
simultaneously in several heads. I was talking to Burne awhile
ago, and he claims that it's a logical result if an intelligent
person thinks long enough about the social system. They had a
'discussion crowd' and the point of abolishing the clubs was
brought up by some oneeverybody there leaped at itit had been in
each one's mind, more or less, and it just needed a spark to
bring it out."
"Fine! I swear I think it'll be most entertaining. How do they
feel up at Cap and Gown?"
"Wild, of course. Every one's been sitting and arguing and
swearing and getting mad and getting sentimental and getting
brutal. It's the same at all the clubs; I've been the rounds.
They get one of the radicals in the corner and fire questions at
"How do the radicals stand up?"
"Oh, moderately well. Burne's a damn good talker, and so
obviously sincere that you can't get anywhere with him. It's so
evident that resigning from his club means so much more to him
than preventing it does to us that I felt futile when I argued;
finally took a position that was brilliantly neutral. In fact, I
believe Burne thought for a while that he'd converted me."
"And you say almost a third of the junior class are going to
"Call it a fourth and be safe."
"Lordwho'd have thought it possible!"
There was a brisk knock at the door, and Burne himself came in.
"Hello, Amoryhello, Tom."
"'Evening, Burne. Don't mind if I seem to rush; I'm going to
Burne turned to him quickly.
"You probably know what I want to talk to Tom about, and it isn't
a bit private. I wish you'd stay."
"I'd be glad to." Amory sat down again, and as Burne perched on a
table and launched into argument with Tom, he looked at this
revolutionary more carefully than he ever had before.
Broad-browed and strong-chinned, with a fineness in the honest
gray eyes that were like Kerry's, Burne was a man who gave an
immediate impression of bigness and securitystubborn, that was
evident, but his stubbornness wore no stolidity, and when he had
talked for five minutes Amory knew that this keen enthusiasm had
in it no quality of dilettantism.
The intense power Amory felt later in Burne Holiday differed from
the admiration he had had for Humbird. This time it began as
purely a mental interest. With other men of whom he had thought
as primarily first-class, he had been attracted first by their
personalities, and in Burne he missed that immediate magnetism to
which he usually swore allegiance. But that night Amory was
struck by Burne's intense earnestness, a quality he was
accustomed to associate only with the dread stupidity, and by the
great enthusiasm that struck dead chords in his heart. Burne
stood vaguely for a land Amory hoped he was drifting towardand it
was almost time that land was in sight. Tom and Amory and Alec
had reached an impasse; never did they seem to have new
experiences in common, for Tom and Alec had been as blindly busy
with their committees and boards as Amory had been blindly
idling, and the things they had for dissectioncollege,
contemporary personality and the likethey had hashed and rehashed
for many a frugal conversational meal.
That night they discussed the clubs until twelve, and, in the
main, they agreed with Burne. To the roommates it did not seem
such a vital subject as it had in the two years before, but the
logic of Burne's objections to the social system dovetailed so
completely with everything they had thought, that they questioned
rather than argued, and envied the sanity that enabled this man
to stand out so against all traditions.
Then Amory branched off and found that Burne was deep in other
things as well. Economics had interested him and he was turning
socialist. Pacifism played in the back of his mind, and he read
the Masses and Lyoff Tolstoi faithfully.
"How about religion?" Amory asked him.
"Don't know. I'm in a muddle about a lot of thingsI've just
discovered that I've a mind, and I'm starting to read."
things to make me think. I'm reading the four gospels now, and
the 'Varieties of Religious Experience.'"
"What chiefly started you?"
"Wells, I guess, and Tolstoi, and a man named Edward Carpenter.
I've been reading for over a year nowon a few lines, on what I
consider the essential lines."
"Well, frankly, not what you call poetry, or for your reasonsyou
two write, of course, and look at things differently. Whitman is
the man that attracts me."
"Yes; he's a definite ethical force."
"Well, I'm ashamed to say that I'm a blank on the subject of
Whitman. How about you, Tom?"
Tom nodded sheepishly.
"Well," continued Burne, "you may strike a few poems that are
tiresome, but I mean the mass of his work. He's tremendouslike
Tolstoi. They both look things in the face, and, somehow,
different as they are, stand for somewhat the same things."
"You have me stumped, Burne," Amory admitted. "I've read 'Anna
Karinina' and the 'Kreutzer Sonata' of course, but Tolstoi is
mostly in the original Russian as far as I'm concerned."
"He's the greatest man in hundreds of years," cried Burne
enthusiastically. "Did you ever see a picture of that shaggy old
head of his?"
They talked until three, from biology to organized religion, and
when Amory crept shivering into bed it was with his mind aglow
with ideas and a sense of shock that some one else had discovered
the path he might have followed. Burne Holiday was so evidently
developingand Amory had considered that he was doing the same. He
had fallen into a deep cynicism over what had crossed his path,
plotted the imperfectability of man and read Shaw and Chesterton
enough to keep his mind from the edges of decadencenow suddenly
all his mental processes of the last year and a half seemed stale
and futilea petty consummation of himself ... and like a sombre
background lay that incident of the spring before, that filled
half his nights with a dreary terror and made him unable to pray.
He was not even a Catholic, yet that was the only ghost of a code
that he had, the gaudy, ritualistic, paradoxical Catholicism
whose prophet was Chesterton, whose claqueurs were such reformed
rakes of literature as Huysmans and Bourget, whose American
sponsor was Ralph Adams Cram, with his adulation of
thirteenth-century cathedralsa Catholicism which Amory found
convenient and ready-made, without priest or sacraments or
He could not sleep, so he turned on his reading-lamp and, taking
down the "Kreutzer Sonata," searched it carefully for the germs
of Burne's enthusiasm. Being Burne was suddenly so much realler
than being clever. Yet he sighed ... here were other possible
He thought back through two years, of Burne as a hurried, nervous
freshman, quite submerged in his brother's personality. Then he
remembered an incident of sophomore year, in which Burne had been
suspected of the leading rtle.
Dean Hollister had been heard by a large group arguing with a
taxi-driver, who had driven him from the junction. In the course
of the altercation the dean remarked that he "might as well buy
the taxicab." He paid and walked off, but next morning he entered
his private office to find the taxicab itself in the space
usually occupied by his desk, bearing a sign which read "Property
of Dean Hollister. Bought and Paid for."... It took two expert
mechanics half a day to dissemble it into its minutest parts and
remove it, which only goes to prove the rare energy of sophomore
humor under efficient leadership.
Then again, that very fall, Burne had caused a sensation. A
certain Phyllis Styles, an intercollegiate prom-trotter, had
failed to get her yearly invitation to the Harvard-Princeton
Jesse Ferrenby had brought her to a smaller game a few weeks
before, and had pressed Burne into serviceto the ruination of the
"Are you coming to the Harvard game?" Burne had asked
indiscreetly, merely to make conversation.
"If you ask me," cried Phyllis quickly.
"Of course I do," said Burne feebly. He was unversed in the arts
of Phyllis, and was sure that this was merely a vapid form of
kidding. Before an hour had passed he knew that he was indeed
involved. Phyllis had pinned him down and served him up, informed
him the train she was arriving by, and depressed him thoroughly.
Aside from loathing Phyllis, he had particularly wanted to stag
that game and entertain some Harvard friends.
"She'll see," he informed a delegation who arrived in his room to
josh him. "This will be the last game she ever persuades any
young innocent to take her to!"
"But, Burnewhy did you invite her if you didn't want her?"
"Burne, you know you're secretly mad about herthat's the real
"What can you do, Burne? What can you do against Phyllis?"
But Burne only shook his head and muttered threats which
consisted largely of the phrase: "She'll see, she'll see!"
The blithesome Phyllis bore her twenty-five summers gayly from
the train, but on the platform a ghastly sight met her eyes.
There were Burne and Fred Sloane arrayed to the last dot like the
lurid figures on college posters. They had bought flaring suits
with huge peg-top trousers and gigantic padded shoulders. On
their heads were rakish college hats, pinned up in front and
sporting bright orange-and-black bands, while from their
celluloid collars blossomed flaming orange ties. They wore black
arm-bands with orange "P's," and carried canes flying Princeton
pennants, the effect completed by socks and peeping handkerchiefs
in the same color motifs. On a clanking chain they led a large,
angry tom-cat, painted to represent a tiger.
A good half of the station crowd was already staring at them,
torn between horrified pity and riotous mirth, and as Phyllis,
with her svelte jaw dropping, approached, the pair bent over and
emitted a college cheer in loud, far-carrying voices,
thoughtfully adding the name "Phyllis" to the end. She was
vociferously greeted and escorted enthusiastically across the
campus, followed by half a hundred village urchinsto the stifled
laughter of hundreds of alumni and visitors, half of whom had no
idea that this was a practical joke, but thought that Burne and
Fred were two varsity sports showing their girl a collegiate
Phyllis's feelings as she was paraded by the Harvard and
Princeton stands, where sat dozens of her former devotees, can be
imagined. She tried to walk a little ahead, she tried to walk a
little behindbut they stayed close, that there should be no doubt
whom she was with, talking in loud voices of their friends on the
football team, until she could almost hear her acquaintances
"Phyllis Styles must be awfully hard up to have to come with
That had been Burne, dynamically humorous, fundamentally serious.
From that root had blossomed the energy that he was now trying to
orient with progress....
So the weeks passed and March came and the clay feet that Amory
looked for failed to appear. About a hundred juniors and seniors
resigned from their clubs in a final fury of righteousness, and
the clubs in helplessness turned upon Burne their finest weapon:
(and he began to stand for more all the time) came under the lash
of many tongues, until a frailer man than he would have been
"Don't you mind losing prestige?" asked Amory one night. They had
taken to exchanging calls several times a week.
"Of course I don't. What's prestige, at best?"
"Some people say that you're just a rather original politician."
He roared with laughter.
"That's what Fred Sloane told me to-day. I suppose I have it
One afternoon they dipped into a subject that had interested
Amory for a long timethe matter of the bearing of physical
attributes on a man's make-up. Burne had gone into the biology of
this, and then:
"Of course health countsa healthy man has twice the chance of
being good," he said.
"I don't agree with youI don't believe in 'muscular
"I doI believe Christ had great physical vigor."
"Oh, no," Amory protested. "He worked too hard for that. I
imagine that when he died he was a broken-down manand the great
saints haven't been strong."
"Half of them have."
"Well, even granting that, I don't think health has anything to
do with goodness; of course, it's valuable to a great saint to be
able to stand enormous strains, but this fad of popular preachers
rising on their toes in simulated virility, bellowing that
calisthenics will save the worldno, Burne, I can't go that."
"Well, let's waive itwe won't get anywhere, and besides I haven't
quite made up my mind about it myself. Now, here's something I do
knowpersonal appearance has a lot to do with it."
"Coloring?" Amory asked eagerly.
"That's what Tom and I figured," Amory agreed. "We took the
year-books for the last ten years and looked at the pictures of
the senior council. I know you don't think much of that august
body, but it does represent success here in a general way. Well,
I suppose only about thirty-five per cent of every class here are
blonds, are really lightyet two-thirds of every senior council
are light. We looked at pictures of ten years of them, mind you;
that means that out of every fifteen light-haired men in the
senior class one is on the senior council, and of the dark-haired
men it's only one in fifty."
"It's true," Burne agreed. "The light-haired man is a higher
type, generally speaking. I worked the thing out with the
Presidents of the United States once, and found that way over
half of them were light-hairedyet think of the preponderant
number of brunettes in the race."
People unconsciously admit it," said Amory. "You'll notice a
blond person is expected to talk. If a blond girl doesn't talk we
call her a 'doll'; if a light-haired man is silent he's
considered stupid. Yet the world is full of 'dark silent men' and
'languorous brunettes' who haven't a brain in their heads, but
somehow are never accused of the dearth."
"And the large mouth and broad chin and rather big nose
undoubtedly make the superior face."
"I'm not so sure." Amory was all for classical features.
"Oh, yesI'll show you," and Burne pulled out of his desk a
photographic collection of heavily bearded, shaggy
celebritiesTolstoi, Whitman, Carpenter, and others.
"Aren't they wonderful?"
Amory tried politely to appreciate them, and gave up laughingly.
"Burne, I think they're the ugliest-looking crowd I ever came
across. They look like an old man's home."
"Oh, Amory, look at that forehead on Emerson; look at Tolstoi's
eyes." His tone was reproachful.
Amory shook his head.
"No! Call them remarkable-looking or anything you wantbut ugly
they certainly are."
Unabashed, Burne ran his hand lovingly across the spacious
foreheads, and piling up the pictures put them back in his desk.
Walking at night was one of his favorite pursuits, and one night
he persuaded Amory to accompany him.
"I hate the dark," Amory objected. "I didn't use toexcept when I
was particularly imaginative, but now, I really doI'm a regular
fool about it."
"That's useless, you know."
"We'll go east," Burne suggested, "and down that string of roads
through the woods."
"Doesn't sound very appealing to me," admitted Amory reluctantly,
"but let's go."
They set off at a good gait, and for an hour swung along in a
brisk argument until the lights of Princeton were luminous white
blots behind them.
"Any person with any imagination is bound to be afraid," said
Burne earnestly. And this very walking at night is one of the
things I was afraid about. I'm going to tell you why I can walk
anywhere now and not be afraid."
"Go on," Amory urged eagerly. They were striding toward the
woods, Burne's nervous, enthusiastic voice warming to his
"I used to come out here alone at night, oh, three months ago,
and I always stopped at that cross-road we just passed. There
were the woods looming up ahead, just as they do now, there were
dogs howling and the shadows and no human sound. Of course, I
peopled the woods with everything ghastly, just like you do;
"I do," Amory admitted.
"Well, I began analyzing itmy imagination persisted in sticking
horrors into the darkso I stuck my imagination into the dark
instead, and let it look out at meI let it play stray dog or
escaped convict or ghost, and then saw myself coming along the
road. That made it all rightas it always makes everything all
right to project yourself completely into another's place. I knew
that if I were the dog or the convict or the ghost I wouldn't be
a menace to Burne Holiday any more than he was a menace to me.
Then I thought of my watch. I'd better go back and leave it and
then essay the woods. No; I decided, it's better on the whole
that I should lose a watch than that I should turn backand I did
go into themnot only followed the road through them, but walked
into them until I wasn't frightened any moredid it until one
night I sat down and dozed off in there; then I knew I was
through being afraid of the dark."
"Lordy," Amory breathed. "I couldn't have done that. I'd have
come out half-way, and the first time an automobile passed and
made the dark thicker when its lamps disappeared, I'd have come
"Well," Burne said suddenly, after a few moments' silence, "we're
half-way through, let's turn back."
On the return he launched into a discussion of will.
"It's the whole thing," he asserted. "It's the one dividing line
between good and evil. I've never met a man who led a rotten life
and didn't have a weak will."
"How about great criminals?"
"They're usually insane. If not, they're weak. There is no such
thing as a strong, sane criminal."
"Burne, I disagree with you altogether; how about the superman?"
"I've never met him. I'll bet, though, that he's stupid or
"I've met him over and over and he's neither. That's why I think
"I'm sure I'm notand so I don't believe in imprisonment except
for the insane."
On this point Amory could not agree. It seemed to him that life
and history were rife with the strong criminal, keen, but often
self-deluding; in politics and business one found him and among
the old statesmen and kings and generals; but Burne never agreed
and their courses began to split on that point.
Burne was drawing farther and farther away from the world about
him. He resigned the vice-presidency of the senior class and took
to reading and walking as almost his only pursuits. He
voluntarily attended graduate lectures in philosophy and biology,
and sat in all of them with a rather pathetically intent look in
his eyes, as if waiting for something the lecturer would never
quite come to. Sometimes Amory would see him squirm in his seat;
and his face would light up; he was on fire to debate a point.
He grew more abstracted on the street and was even accused of
becoming a snob, but Amory knew it was nothing of the sort, and
once when Burne passed him four feet off, absolutely unseeingly,
his mind a thousand miles away, Amory almost choked with the
romantic joy of watching him. Burne seemed to be climbing heights
where others would be forever unable to get a foothold.
"I tell you," Amory declared to Tom, "he's the first contemporary
I've ever met whom I'll admit is my superior in mental capacity."
"It's a bad time to admit itpeople are beginning to think he's
"He's way over their headsyou know you think so yourself when you
talk to himGood Lord, Tom, you used to stand out against
'people.' Success has completely conventionalized you."
Tom grew rather annoyed.
"What's he trying to dobe excessively holy?"
"No! not like anybody you've ever seen. Never enters the
Philadelphian Society. He has no faith in that rot. He doesn't
believe that public swimming-pools and a kind word in time will
right the wrongs of the world; moreover, he takes a drink
whenever he feels like it."
"He certainly is getting in wrong."
"Have you talked to him lately?"
"Then you haven't any conception of him."
The argument ended nowhere, but Amory noticed more than ever how
the sentiment toward Burne had changed on the campus.
"It's odd," Amory said to Tom one night when they had grown more
amicable on the subject, "that the people who violently
disapprove of Burne's radicalism are distinctly the Pharisee
classI mean they're the best-educated men in collegethe editors
of the papers, like yourself and Ferrenby, the younger
professors.... The illiterate athletes like Langueduc think he's
getting eccentric, but they just say, 'Good old Burne has got
some queer ideas in his head,' and pass onthe Pharisee classGee!
they ridicule him unmercifully."
The next morning he met Burne hurrying along McCosh walk after a
"Whither bound, Tsar?"
"Over to the Prince office to see Ferrenby," he waved a copy of
the morning's Princetonian at Amory. "He wrote this editorial."
"Going to flay him alive?"
"Nobut he's got me all balled up. Either I've misjudged him or
he's suddenly become the world's worst radical."
Burne hurried on, and it was several days before Amory heard an
account of the ensuing conversation. Burne had come into the
editor's sanctum displaying the paper cheerfully.
"Hello there, Savonarola."
"I just read your editorial."
"Good boydidn't know you stooped that low."
"Jesse, you startled me."
"Aren't you afraid the faculty'll get after you if you pull this
"Like this morning."
"What the devilthat editorial was on the coaching system."
"Yes, but that quotation"
Jesse sat up.
"You know: 'He who is not with me is against me.'"
"Wellwhat about it?"
Jesse was puzzled but not alarmed.
"Well, you say herelet me see." Burne opened the paper and read:
"'He who is not with me is against me, as that gentleman said who
was notoriously capable of only coarse distinctions and puerile
"What of it?" Ferrenby began to look alarmed. "Oliver Cromwell
said it, didn't he? or was it Washington, or one of the saints?
Good Lord, I've forgotten."
Burne roared with laughter.
"Oh, Jesse, oh, good, kind Jesse."
"Who said it, for Pete's sake?"
"Well," said Burne, recovering his voice, "St. Matthew attributes
it to Christ."
"My God!" cried Jesse, and collapsed backward into the
AMORY WRITES A POEM
The weeks tore by. Amory wandered occasionally to New York on the
chance of finding a new shining green auto-bus, that its
stick-of-candy glamour might penetrate his disposition. One day
he ventured into a stock-company revival of a play whose name was
faintly familiar. The curtain rosehe watched casually as a girl
entered. A few phrases rang in his ear and touched a faint chord
of memory. Where? When?
Then he seemed to hear a voice whispering beside him, a very
soft, vibrant voice: "Oh, I'm such a poor little fool; do tell me
when I do wrong."
The solution came in a flash and he had a quick, glad memory of
He found a blank space on his programme, and began to scribble
"Here in the figured dark I watch once more,
There, with the curtain, roll the years away;
Two years of yearsthere was an idle day
Of ours, when happy endings didn't bore
Our unfermented souls; I could adore
Your eager face beside me, wide-eyed, gay,
Smiling a repertoire while the poor play
Reached me as a faint ripple reaches shore.
Yawning and wondering an evening through,
I watch alone ... and chatterings, of course,
Spoil the one scene which, somehow, did have charms;
You wept a bit, and I grew sad for you
Right here! Where Mr. X defends divorce
And What's-Her-Name falls fainting in his arms."
"Ghosts are such dumb things," said Alec, "they're slow-witted. I
can always outguess a ghost."
"How?" asked Tom.
"Well, it depends where. Take a bedroom, for example. If you use
any discretion a ghost can never get you in a bedroom.
"Go on, s'pose you think there's maybe a ghost in your
bedroomwhat measures do you take on getting home at night?"
demanded Amory, interested.
"Take a stick" answered Alec, with ponderous reverence, "one
about the length of a broom-handle. Now, the first thing to do is
to get the room clearedto do this you rush with your eyes closed
into your study and turn on the lightsnext, approaching the
closet, carefully run the stick in the door three or four times.
Then, if nothing happens, you can look in. Always, always run the
stick in viciously firstnever look first!"
"Of course, that's the ancient Celtic school," said Tom gravely.
"Yesbut they usually pray first. Anyway, you use this method to
clear the closets and also for behind all doors"
"And the bed," Amory suggested.
"Oh, Amory, no!" cried Alec in horror. "That isn't the waythe bed
requires different tacticslet the bed alone, as you value your
reasonif there is a ghost in the room and that's only about a
third of the time, it is almost always under the bed."
"Well" Amory began.
Alec waved him into silence.
"Of course you never look. You stand in the middle of the floor
and before he knows what you're going to do make a sudden leap
for the bednever walk near the bed; to a ghost your ankle is your
most vulnerable partonce in bed, you're safe; he may lie around
under the bed all night, but you're safe as daylight. If you
still have doubts pull the blanket over your head."
"All that's very interesting, Tom."
"Isn't it?" Alec beamed proudly. "All my own, toothe Sir Oliver
Lodge of the new world."
Amory was enjoying college immensely again. The sense of going
forward in a direct, determined line had come back; youth was
stirring and shaking out a few new feathers. He had even stored
enough surplus energy to sally into a new pose.
"What's the idea of all this 'distracted' stuff, Amory?" asked
Alec one day, and then as Amory pretended to be cramped over his
book in a daze: "Oh, don't try to act Burne, the mystic, to me."
Amory looked up innocently.
"What?" mimicked Alec. "Are you trying to read yourself into a
rhapsody withlet's see the book."
He snatched it; regarded it derisively.
"Well?" said Amory a little stiffly.
"'The Life of St. Teresa,'" read Alec aloud. "Oh, my gosh!"
"Does it bother you?"
"Does what bother me?"
"My acting dazed and all that?"
"Why, noof course it doesn't bother me."
"Well, then, don't spoil it. If I enjoy going around telling
people guilelessly that I think I'm a genius, let me do it."
"You're getting a reputation for being eccentric," said Alec,
laughing, "if that's what you mean."
Amory finally prevailed, and Alec agreed to accept his face value
in the presence of others if he was allowed rest periods when
they were alone; so Amory "ran it out" at a great rate, bringing
the most eccentric characters to dinner, wild-eyed grad students,
preceptors with strange theories of God and government, to the
cynical amazement of the supercilious Cottage Club.
As February became slashed by sun and moved cheerfully into
March, Amory went several times to spend week-ends with
Monsignor; once he took Burne, with great success, for he took
equal pride and delight in displaying them to each other.
Monsignor took him several times to see Thornton Hancock, and
once or twice to the house of a Mrs. Lawrence, a type of
Rome-haunting American whom Amory liked immediately.
Then one day came a letter from Monsignor, which appended an
interesting P. S.:
"Do you know," it ran, "that your third cousin, Clara Page,
widowed six months and very poor, is living in Philadelphia? I
don't think you've ever met her, but I wish, as a favor to me,
you'd go to see her. To my mind, she's rather a remarkable woman,
and just about your age."
Amory sighed and decided to go, as a favor....
She was immemorial.... Amory wasn't good enough for Clara, Clara
of ripply golden hair, but then no man was. Her goodness was
above the prosy morals of the husband-seeker, apart from the dull
literature of female virtue.
Sorrow lay lightly around her, and when Amory found her in
Philadelphia he thought her steely blue eyes held only happiness;
a latent strength, a realism, was brought to its fullest
development by the facts that she was compelled to face. She was
alone in the world, with two small children, little money, and,
worst of all, a host of friends. He saw her that winter in
Philadelphia entertaining a houseful of men for an evening, when
he knew she had not a servant in the house except the little
colored girl guarding the babies overhead. He saw one of the
greatest libertines in that city, a man who was habitually drunk
and notorious at home and abroad, sitting opposite her for an
evening, discussing girls' boarding-schools with a sort of
innocent excitement. What a twist Clara had to her mind! She
could make fascinating and almost brilliant conversation out of
the thinnest air that ever floated through a drawing-room.
The idea that the girl was poverty-stricken had appealed to
Amory's sense of situation. He arrived in Philadelphia expecting
to be told that 921 Ark Street was in a miserable lane of hovels.
He was even disappointed when it proved to be nothing of the
sort. It was an old house that had been in her husband's family
for years. An elderly aunt, who objected to having it sold, had
put ten years' taxes with a lawyer and pranced off to Honolulu,
leaving Clara to struggle with the heating-problem as best she
could. So no wild-haired woman with a hungry baby at her breast
and a sad Amelia-like look greeted him. Instead, Amory would have
thought from his reception that she had not a care in the world.
A calm virility and a dreamy humor, marked contrasts to her
level-headednessinto these moods she slipped sometimes as a
refuge. She could do the most prosy things (though she was wise
enough never to stultify herself with such "household arts" as
knitting and embroidery), yet immediately afterward pick up a
book and let her imagination rove as a formless cloud with the
wind. Deepest of all in her personality was the golden radiance
that she diffused around her. As an open fire in a dark room
throws romance and pathos into the quiet faces at its edge, so
she cast her lights and shadows around the rooms that held her,
until she made of her prosy old uncle a man of quaint and
meditative charm, metamorphosed the stray telegraph boy into a
Puck-like creature of delightful originality. At first this
quality of hers somehow irritated Amory. He considered his own
uniqueness sufficient, and it rather embarrassed him when she
tried to read new interests into him for the benefit of what
other adorers were present. He felt as if a polite but insistent
stage-manager were attempting to make him give a new
interpretation of a part he had conned for years.
But Clara talking, Clara telling a slender tale of a hatpin and
an inebriated man and herself.... People tried afterward to
repeat her anecdotes but for the life of them they could make
them sound like nothing whatever. They gave her a sort of
innocent attention and the best smiles many of them had smiled
for long; there were few tears in Clara, but people smiled
misty-eyed at her.
Very occasionally Amory stayed for little half-hours after the
rest of the court had gone, and they would have bread and jam and
tea late in the afternoon or "maple-sugar lunches," as she called
them, at night.
"You are remarkable, aren't you!" Amory was becoming trite from
where he perched in the centre of the dining-room table one six
"Not a bit," she answered. She was searching out napkins in the
sideboard. "I'm really most humdrum and commonplace. One of those
people who have no interest in anything but their children."
"Tell that to somebody else," scoffed Amory. "You know you're
perfectly effulgent." He asked her the one thing that he knew
might embarrass her. It was the remark that the first bore made
"Tell me about yourself." And she gave the answer that Adam must
"There's nothing to tell."
But eventually Adam probably told the bore all the things he
thought about at night when the locusts sang in the sandy grass,
and he must have remarked patronizingly how different he was from
Eve, forgetting how different she was from him ... at any rate,
Clara told Amory much about herself that evening. She had had a
harried life from sixteen on, and her education had stopped
sharply with her leisure. Browsing in her library, Amory found a
tattered gray book out of which fell a yellow sheet that he
impudently opened. It was a poem that she had written at school
about a gray convent wall on a gray day, and a girl with her
cloak blown by the wind sitting atop of it and thinking about the
many-colored world. As a rule such sentiment bored him, but this
was done with so much simplicity and atmosphere, that it brought
a picture of Clara to his mind, of Clara on such a cool, gray day
with her keen blue eyes staring out, trying to see her tragedies
come marching over the gardens outside. He envied that poem. How
he would have loved to have come along and seen her on the wall
and talked nonsense or romance to her, perched above him in the
air. He began to be frightfully jealous of everything about
Clara: of her past, of her babies, of the men and women who
flocked to drink deep of her cool kindness and rest their tired
minds as at an absorbing play.
"Nobody seems to bore you," he objected.
"About half the world do," she admitted, "but I think that's a
pretty good average, don't you?" and she turned to find something
in Browning that bore on the subject. She was the only person he
ever met who could look up passages and quotations to show him in
the middle of the conversation, and yet not be irritating to
distraction. She did it constantly, with such a serious
enthusiasm that he grew fond of watching her golden hair bent
over a book, brow wrinkled ever so little at hunting her
Through early March he took to going to Philadelphia for
week-ends. Almost always there was some one else there and she
seemed not anxious to see him alone, for many occasions presented
themselves when a word from her would have given him another
delicious half-hour of adoration. But he fell gradually in love
and began to speculate wildly on marriage. Though this design
flowed through his brain even to his lips, still he knew
afterward that the desire had not been deeply rooted. Once he
his dream she had been a silly, flaxen Clara, with the gold gone
out of her hair and platitudes falling insipidly from her
changeling tongue. But she was the first fine woman he ever knew
and one of the few good people who ever interested him. She made
her goodness such an asset. Amory had decided that most good
people either dragged theirs after them as a liability, or else
distorted it to artificial geniality, and of course there were
the ever-present prig and Pharisee(but Amory never included them
as being among the saved).
"Over her gray and velvet dress,
Under her molten, beaten hair,
Color of rose in mock distress
Flushes and fades and makes her fair;
Fills the air from her to him
With light and languor and little sighs,
Just so subtly he scarcely knows...
Laughing lightning, color of rose."
"Do you like me?"
"Of course I do," said Clara seriously.
"Well, we have some qualities in common. Things that are
spontaneous in each of usor were originally."
"You're implying that I haven't used myself very well?"
"Well, I can't judge. A man, of course, has to go through a lot
more, and I've been sheltered."
"Oh, don't stall, please, Clara," Amory interrupted; "but do talk
about me a little, won't you?"
"Surely, I'd adore to." She didn't smile.
"That's sweet of you. First answer some questions. Am I painfully
"Wellno, you have tremendous vanity, but it'll amuse the people
who notice its preponderance."
"You're really humble at heart. You sink to the third hell of
depression when you think you've been slighted. In fact, you
haven't much self-respect."
"Centre of target twice, Clara. How do you do it? You never let
me say a word."
"Of course notI can never judge a man while he's talking. But I'm
not through; the reason you have so little real self-confidence,
even though you gravely announce to the occasional philistine
that you think you're a genius, is that you've attributed all
sorts of atrocious faults to yourself and are trying to live up
to them. For instance, you're always saying that you are a slave
"But I am, potentially."
"And you say you're a weak character, that you've no will."
"Not a bit of willI'm a slave to my emotions, to my likes, to my
hatred of boredom, to most of my desires"
"You are not!" She brought one little fist down onto the other.
"You're a slave, a bound helpless slave to one thing in the
world, your imagination."
"You certainly interest me. If this isn't boring you, go on."
"I notice that when you want to stay over an extra day from
college you go about it in a sure way. You never decide at first
while the merits of going or staying are fairly clear in your
mind. You let your imagination shinny on the side of your desires
for a few hours, and then you decide. Naturally your imagination,
after a little freedom, thinks up a million reasons why you
should stay, so your decision when it comes isn't true. It's
"Yes," objected Amory, "but isn't it lack of will-power to let my
imagination shinny on the wrong side?"
"My dear boy, there's your big mistake. This has nothing to do
with will-power; that's a crazy, useless word, anyway; you lack
judgmentthe judgment to decide at once when you know your
imagination will play you false, given half a chance."
"Well, I'll be darned!" exclaimed Amory in surprise, "that's the
last thing I expected."
Clara didn't gloat. She changed the subject immediately. But she
had started him thinking and he believed she was partly right. He
felt like a factory-owner who after accusing a clerk of
dishonesty finds that his own son, in the office, is changing the
books once a week. His poor, mistreated will that he had been
holding up to the scorn of himself and his friends, stood before
him innocent, and his judgment walked off to prison with the
unconfinable imp, imagination, dancing in mocking glee beside
him. Clara's was the only advice he ever asked without dictating
the answer himselfexcept, perhaps, in his talks with Monsignor
How he loved to do any sort of thing with Clara! Shopping with
her was a rare, epicurean dream. In every store where she had
ever traded she was whispered about as the beautiful Mrs. Page.
"I'll bet she won't stay single long."
"Well, don't scream it out. She ain't lookin' for no advice."
"Ain't she beautiful!" (Enter a floor-walkersilence till
he moves forward, smirking.)
"Society person, ain't she?"
"Yeah, but poor now, I guess; so they say."
"Gee! girls, ain't she some kid!"
And Clara beamed on all alike. Amory believed that tradespeople
gave her discounts, sometimes to her knowledge and sometimes
without it. He knew she dressed very well, had always the best of
everything in the house, and was inevitably waited upon by the
head floor-walker at the very least.
Sometimes they would go to church together on Sunday and he would
walk beside her and revel in her cheeks moist from the soft water
in the new air. She was very devout, always had been, and God
knows what heights she attained and what strength she drew down
to herself when she knelt and bent her golden hair into the
"St. Cecelia," he cried aloud one day, quite involuntarily, and
the people turned and peered, and the priest paused in his sermon
and Clara and Amory turned to fiery red.
That was the last Sunday they had, for he spoiled it all that
night. He couldn't help it.
They were walking through the March twilight where it was as warm
as June, and the joy of youth filled his soul so that he felt he
"I think," he said and his voice trembled, "that if I lost faith
in you I'd lose faith in God."
She looked at him with such a startled face that he asked her the
"Nothing," she said slowly, "only this: five men have said that
to me before, and it frightens me."
"Oh, Clara, is that your fate!"
"I suppose love to you is" he began.
She turned like a flash.
"I have never been in love."
They walked along, and he realized slowly how much she had told
him ... never in love.... She seemed suddenly a daughter of light
alone. His entity dropped out of her plane and he longed only to
touch her dress with almost the realization that Joseph must have
had of Mary's eternal significance. But quite mechanically he
heard himself saying:
"And I love youany latent greatness that I've got is ... oh, I
can't talk, but Clara, if I come back in two years in a position
to marry you"
She shook her head.
"No," she said; "I'd never marry again. I've got my two children
and I want myself for them. I like youI like all clever men, you
more than anybut you know me well enough to know that I'd never
marry a clever man" She broke off suddenly.
"You're not in love with me. You never wanted to marry me, did
"It was the twilight," he said wonderingly. "I didn't feel as
though I were speaking aloud. But I love youor adore youor
"There you gorunning through your catalogue of emotions in five
He smiled unwillingly.
"Don't make me out such a light-weight, Clara; you are depressing
"You're not a light-weight, of all things," she said intently,
taking his arm and opening wide her eyeshe could see their
kindliness in the fading dusk. "A light-weight is an eternal
"There's so much spring in the airthere's so much lazy sweetness
in your heart."
She dropped his arm.
"You're all fine now, and I feel glorious. Give me a cigarette.
You've never seen me smoke, have you? Well, I do, about once a
And then that wonderful girl and Amory raced to the corner like
two mad children gone wild with pale-blue twilight.
"I'm going to the country for to-morrow," she announced, as she
stood panting, safe beyond the flare of the corner lamp-post.
"These days are too magnificent to miss, though perhaps I feel
them more in the city."
"Oh, Clara!" Amory said; "what a devil you could have been if the
Lord had just bent your soul a little the other way!"
"Maybe," she answered; "but I think not. I'm never really wild
and never have been. That little outburst was pure spring."
"And you are, too," said he.
They were walking along now.
"Noyou're wrong again, how can a person of your own self-reputed
brains be so constantly wrong about me? I'm the opposite of
everything spring ever stood for. It's unfortunate, if I happen
to look like what pleased some soppy old Greek sculptor, but I
assure you that if it weren't for my face I'd be a quiet nun in
the convent without"then she broke into a run and her raised
voice floated back to him as he followed"my precious babies,
which I must go back and see."
She was the only girl he ever knew with whom he could understand
how another man might be preferred. Often Amory met wives whom he
had known as dibutantes, and looking intently at them imagined
that he found something in their faces which said:
"Oh, if I could only have gotten you!" Oh, the enormous conceit
of the man!
But that night seemed a night of stars and singing and Clara's
bright soul still gleamed on the ways they had trod.
"Golden, golden is the air" he chanted to the little pools of
water.... "Golden is the air, golden notes from golden mandolins,
golden frets of golden violins, fair, oh, wearily fair.... Skeins
from braided basket, mortals may not hold; oh, what young
extravagant God, who would know or ask it?... who could give such
AMORY IS RESENTFUL
Slowly and inevitably, yet with a sudden surge at the last, while
Amory talked and dreamed, war rolled swiftly up the beach and
washed the sands where Princeton played. Every night the
gymnasium echoed as platoon after platoon swept over the floor
and shuffled out the basket-ball markings. When Amory went to
Washington the next week-end he caught some of the spirit of
crisis which changed to repulsion in the Pullman car coming back,
for the berths across from him were occupied by stinking
aliensGreeks, he guessed, or Russians. He thought how much easier
patriotism had been to a homogeneous race, how much easier it
would have been to fight as the Colonies fought, or as the
Confederacy fought. And he did no sleeping that night, but
listened to the aliens guffaw and snore while they filled the car
with the heavy scent of latest America.
In Princeton every one bantered in public and told themselves
privately that their deaths at least would be heroic. The
literary students read Rupert Brooke passionately; the
lounge-lizards worried over whether the government would permit
the English-cut uniform for officers; a few of the hopelessly
lazy wrote to the obscure branches of the War Department, seeking
an easy commission and a soft berth.
Then, after a week, Amory saw Burne and knew at once that
argument would be futileBurne had come out as a pacifist. The
socialist magazines, a great smattering of Tolstoi, and his own
intense longing for a cause that would bring out whatever
strength lay in him, had finally decided him to preach peace as a
"When the German army entered Belgium," he began, "if the
inhabitants had gone peaceably about their business, the German
army would have been disorganized in"
"I know," Amory interrupted, "I've heard it all. But I'm not
going to talk propaganda with you. There's a chance that you're
rightbut even so we're hundreds of years before the time when
non-resistance can touch us as a reality."
"But, Amory, listen"
"Burne, we'd just argue"
"Just one thingI don't ask you to think of your family or
friends, because I know they don't count a picayune with you
beside your sense of dutybut, Burne, how do you know that the
magazines you read and the societies you join and these idealists
you meet aren't just plain German?"
"Some of them are, of course."
"How do you know they aren't all pro-Germanjust a lot of weak
oneswith German-Jewish names."
"That's the chance, of course," he said slowly. "How much or how
little I'm taking this stand because of propaganda I've heard, I
don't know; naturally I think that it's my most innermost
convictionit seems a path spread before me just now."
Amory's heart sank.
"But think of the cheapness of itno one's really going to martyr
you for being a pacifistit's just going to throw you in with the
"I doubt it," he interrupted.
"Well, it all smells of Bohemian New York to me."
"I know what you mean, and that's why I'm not sure I'll agitate."
"You're one man, Burne going to talk to people who won't
listen with all God's given you."
"That's what Stephen must have thought many years ago. But he
preached his sermon and they killed him. He probably thought as
he was dying what a waste it all was. But you see, I've always
felt that Stephen's death was the thing that occurred to Paul on
the road to Damascus, and sent him to preach the word of Christ
all over the world."
"That's allthis is my particular duty. Even if right now I'm just
a pawnjust sacrificed. God! Amoryyou don't think I like the
"Well, I can't say anything elseI get to the end of all the logic
about non-resistance, and there, like an excluded middle, stands
the huge spectre of man as he is and always will be. And this
spectre stands right beside the one logical necessity of
Tolstoi's, and the other logical necessity of Nietzsche's" Amory
broke off suddenly. "When are you going?"
"I'm going next week."
"I'll see you, of course."
As he walked away it seemed to Amory that the look in his face
bore a great resemblance to that in Kerry's when he had said
good-by under Blair Arch two years before. Amory wondered
unhappily why he could never go into anything with the primal
honesty of those two.
"Burne's a fanatic," he said to Tom, "and he's dead wrong and,
I'm inclined to think, just an unconscious pawn in the hands of
anarchistic publishers and German-paid rag waversbut he haunts
mejust leaving everything worth while"
Burne left in a quietly dramatic manner a week later. He sold all
his possessions and came down to the room to say good-by, with a
battered old bicycle, on which he intended to ride to his home in
"Peter the Hermit bidding farewell to Cardinal Richelieu,"
suggested Alec, who was lounging in the window-seat as Burne and
Amory shook hands.
But Amory was not in a mood for that, and as he saw Burne's long
legs propel his ridiculous bicycle out of sight beyond Alexander
Hall, he knew he was going to have a bad week. Not that he
doubted the warGermany stood for everything repugnant to him; for
materialism and the direction of tremendous licentious force; it
was just that Burne's face stayed in his memory and he was sick
of the hysteria he was beginning to hear.
"What on earth is the use of suddenly running down Goethe," he
declared to Alec and Tom. "Why write books to prove he started
the waror that that stupid, overestimated Schiller is a demon in
"Have you ever read anything of theirs?" asked Tom shrewdly.
"No," Amory admitted.
"Neither have I," he said laughing.
"People will shout," said Alec quietly, "but Goethe's on his same
old shelf in the libraryto bore any one that wants to read him!"
Amory subsided, and the subject dropped.
"What are you going to do, Amory?"
"Infantry or aviation, I can't make up my mindI hate mechanics,
but then of course aviation's the thing for me"
"I feel as Amory does," said Tom. "Infantry or aviationaviation
sounds like the romantic side of the war, of courselike cavalry
used to be, you know; but like Amory I don't know a horse-power
from a piston-rod."
Somehow Amory's dissatisfaction with his lack of enthusiasm
culminated in an attempt to put the blame for the whole war on
the ancestors of his generation ... all the people who cheered
for Germany in 1870.... All the materialists rampant, all the
idolizers of German science and efficiency. So he sat one day in
an English lecture and heard "Locksley Hall" quoted and fell into
a brown study with contempt for Tennyson and all he stood forfor
he took him as a representative of the Victorians.
"Victorians, Victorians, who never learned to weep
Who sowed the bitter harvest that your children go to reap"
scribbled Amory in his note-book. The lecturer was saying
something about Tennyson's solidity and fifty heads were bent to
take notes. Amory turned over to a fresh page and began scrawling
"They shuddered when they found what Mr. Darwin was about,
They shuddered when the waltz came in and Newman hurried out"
But the waltz came in much earlier; he crossed that out.
"And entitled A Song in the Time of Order," came the professor's
voice, droning far away. "Time of Order"Good Lord! Everything
crammed in the box and the Victorians sitting on the lid smiling
serenely.... With Browning in his Italian villa crying bravely:
"All's for the best." Amory scribbled again.
"You knelt up in the temple and he bent to hear you pray,
You thanked him for your 'glorious gains'reproached him for
Why could he never get more than a couplet at a time? Now he
needed something to rhyme with:
"You would keep Him straight with science, tho He had gone wrong
"You met your children in your home'I've fixed it up!" you cried,
Took your fifty years of Europe, and then virtuouslydied."
"That was to a great extent Tennyson's idea," came the lecturer's
voice. "Swinburne's Song in the Time of Order might well have
been Tennyson's title. He idealized order against chaos, against
At last Amory had it. He turned over another page and scrawled
vigorously for the twenty minutes that was left of the hour. Then
he walked up to the desk and deposited a page torn out of his
"Here's a poem to the Victorians, sir," he said coldly.
The professor picked it up curiously while Amory backed rapidly
through the door.
Here is what he had written:
"Songs in the time of order
You left for us to sing,
Proofs with excluded middles,
Answers to life in rhyme,
Keys of the prison warder
And ancient bells to ring,
Time was the end of riddles,
We were the end of time...
Here were domestic oceans
And a sky that we might reach,
Guns and a guarded border,
Gantletsbut not to fling,
Thousands of old emotions
And a platitude for each,
Songs in the time of order
And tongues, that we might sing."
THE END OF MANY THINGS
Early April slipped by in a hazea haze of long evenings on the
club veranda with the graphophone playing "Poor Butterfly" inside
... for "Poor Butterfly" had been the song of that last year. The
war seemed scarcely to touch them and it might have been one of
the senior springs of the past, except for the drilling every
other afternoon, yet Amory realized poignantly that this was the
last spring under the old rigime.
"This is the great protest against the superman," said Amory.
"I suppose so," Alec agreed.
"He's absolutely irreconcilable with any Utopia. As long as he
occurs, there's trouble and all the latent evil that makes a
crowd list and sway when he talks."
"And of course all that he is is a gifted man without a moral
"That's all. I think the worst thing to contemplate is thisit's
all happened before, how soon will it happen again? Fifty years
after Waterloo Napoleon was as much a hero to English school
children as Wellington. How do we know our grandchildren won't
idolize Von Hindenburg the same way?"
"What brings it about?"
"Time, damn it, and the historian. If we could only learn to look
on evil as evil, whether it's clothed in filth or monotony or
"God! Haven't we raked the universe over the coals for four
Then the night came that was to be the last. Tom and Amory, bound
in the morning for different training-camps, paced the shadowy
walks as usual and seemed still to see around them the faces of
the men they knew.
"The grass is full of ghosts to-night."
"The whole campus is alive with them."
They paused by Little and watched the moon rise, to make silver
of the slate roof of Dodd and blue the rustling trees.
"You know," whispered Tom, "what we feel now is the sense of all
the gorgeous youth that has rioted through here in two hundred
A last burst of singing flooded up from Blair Archbroken voices
for some long parting.
"And what we leave here is more than this class; it's the whole
heritage of youth. We're just one generationwe're breaking all
the links that seemed to bind us here to top-booted and
high-stocked generations. We've walked arm and arm with Burr and
Light-Horse Harry Lee through half these deep-blue nights."
"That's what they are," Tom tangented off, "deep bluea bit of
color would spoil them, make them exotic. Spires, against a sky
that's a promise of dawn, and blue light on the slate roofsit
hurts ... rather"
"Good-by, Aaron Burr," Amory called toward deserted Nassau Hall,
"you and I knew strange corners of life."
His voice echoed in the stillness.
"The torches are out," whispered Tom. "Ah, Messalina, the long
shadows are building minarets on the stadium"
For an instant the voices of freshman year surged around them and
then they looked at each other with faint tears in their eyes.
The last light fades and drifts across the landthe low, long
land, the sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again
their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down the long
corridors of trees; pale fires echo the night from tower top to
tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press
from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep,
the essence of an hour.
No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale
of star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to
time and earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire
and shifting things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years;
this midnight my desire will see, shadowed among the embers,
furled in flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.
May, 1917-February, 1919
A letter dated January, 1918, written by Monsignor Darcy to
Amory, who is a second lieutenant in the 171st Infantry, Port of
Embarkation, Camp Mills, Long Island.
MY DEAR BOY:
All you need tell me of yourself is that you still are; for the
rest I merely search back in a restive memory, a thermometer that
records only fevers, and match you with what I was at your age.
But men will chatter and you and I will still shout our
futilities to each other across the stage until the last silly
curtain falls plump! upon our bobbing heads. But you are starting
the spluttering magic-lantern show of life with much the same
array of slides as I had, so I need to write you if only to
shriek the colossal stupidity of people....
This is the end of one thing: for better or worse you will never
again be quite the Amory Blaine that I knew, never again will we
meet as we have met, because your generation is growing hard,
much harder than mine ever grew, nourished as they were on the
stuff of the nineties.
Amory, lately I reread Fschylus and there in the divine irony of
the "Agamemnon" I find the only answer to this bitter ageall the
world tumbled about our ears, and the closest parallel ages back
in that hopeless resignation. There are times when I think of the
men out there as Roman legionaries, miles from their corrupt
city, stemming back the hordes ... hordes a little more menacing,
after all, than the corrupt city ... another blind blow at the
race, furies that we passed with ovations years ago, over whose
corpses we bleated triumphantly all through the Victorian era....
And afterward an out-and-out materialistic worldand the Catholic
Church. I wonder where you'll fit in. Of one thing I'm sureCeltic
you'll live and Celtic you'll die; so if you don't use heaven as
a continual referendum for your ideas you'll find earth a
continual recall to your ambitions.
Amory, I've discovered suddenly that I'm an old man. Like all old
men, I've had dreams sometimes and I'm going to tell you of them.
I've enjoyed imagining that you were my son, that perhaps when I
was young I went into a state of coma and begat you, and when I
came to, had no recollection of it ... it's the paternal
instinct, Amorycelibacy goes deeper than the flesh....
Sometimes I think that the explanation of our deep resemblance is
some common ancestor, and I find that the only blood that the
Darcys and the O'Haras have in common is that of the O'Donahues
... Stephen was his name, I think....
When the lightning strikes one of us it strikes both: you had
hardly arrived at the port of embarkation when I got my papers to
start for Rome, and I am waiting every moment to be told where to
take ship. Even before you get this letter I shall be on the
ocean; then will come your turn. You went to war as a gentleman
should, just as you went to school and college, because it was
the thing to do. It's better to leave the blustering and
tremulo-heroism to the middle classes; they do it so much better.
Do you remember that week-end last March when you brought Burne
Holiday from Princeton to see me? What a magnificent boy he is!
It gave me a frightful shock afterward when you wrote that he
thought me splendid; how could he be so deceived? Splendid is the
one thing that neither you nor I are. We are many other
thingswe're extraordinary, we're clever, we could be said, I
suppose, to be brilliant. We can attract people, we can make
atmosphere, we can almost lose our Celtic souls in Celtic
subtleties, we can almost always have our own way; but
I am going to Rome with a wonderful dossier and letters of
introduction that cover every capital in Europe, and there will
be "no small stir" when I get there. How I wish you were with me!
This sounds like a rather cynical paragraph, not at all the sort
of thing that a middle-aged clergyman should write to a youth
about to depart for the war; the only excuse is that the
middle-aged clergyman is talking to himself. There are deep
things in us and you know what they are as well as I do. We have
great faith, though yours at present is uncrystallized; we have a
terrible honesty that all our sophistry cannot destroy and, above
all, a childlike simplicity that keeps us from ever being really
cheeks are not up to the description I have written of them, but
you will smoke and read all night
At any rate here it is:
A Lament for a Foster Son, and He going to the War Against the
King of Foreign.
He is gone from me the son of my mind
And he in his golden youth like Angus Oge
Angus of the bright birds
And his mind strong and subtle like the mind of Cuchulin on
His brow is as white as the milk of the cows of Maeve
And his cheeks like the cherries of the tree
And it bending down to Mary and she feeding the Son of God.
His hair is like the golden collar of the Kings at Tara
And his eyes like the four gray seas of Erin.
And they swept with the mists of rain.
Mavrone go Gudyo
He to be in the joyful and red battle
Amongst the chieftains and they doing great deeds of valor
His life to go from him
It is the chords of my own soul would be loosed.
A Vich Deelish
My heart is in the heart of my son
And my life is in his life surely
A man can be twice young
In the life of his sons only.
Jia du Vaha Alanav
May the Son of God be above him and beneath him, before him and
May the King of the elements cast a mist over the eyes of the
King of Foreign,
May the Queen of the Graces lead him by the hand the way he can
go through the midst of his enemies and they not seeing him
May Patrick of the Gael and Collumb of the Churches and the five
thousand Saints of Erin be better than a shield to him
And he go into the fight.
AmoryAmoryI feel, somehow, that this is all; one or both of us is
not going to last out this war.... I've been trying to tell you
how much this reincarnation of myself in you has meant in the
last few years ... curiously alike we are ... curiously unlike.
Good-by, dear boy, and God be with you. THAYER DARCY.
EMBARKING AT NIGHT
Amory moved forward on the deck until he found a stool under an
electric light. He searched in his pocket for note-book and
pencil and then began to write, slowly, laboriously:
"We leave to-night...
Silent, we filled the still, deserted street,
A column of dim gray,
And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat
Along the moonless way;
The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet
That turned from night and day.
See on the spectre shore
Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks...
Oh, shall we then deplore
Those futile years!
See how the sea is white!
The clouds have broken and the heavens burn
To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light
The churning of the waves about the stern
Rises to one voluminous nocturne,
...We leave to-night."
A letter from Amory, headed "Brest, March 11th, 1919," to
Lieutenant T. P. D'Invilliers, Camp Gordon, Ga.
We meet in Manhattan on the 30th of this very mo.; we then
proceed to take a very sporty apartment, you and I and Alec, who
is at me elbow as I write. I don't know what I'm going to do but
I have a vague dream of going into politics. Why is it that the
pick of the young Englishmen from Oxford and Cambridge go into
politics and in the U. S. A. we leave it to the muckers?raised in
the ward, educated in the assembly and sent to Congress,
fat-paunched bundles of corruption, devoid of "both ideas and
ideals" as the debaters used to say. Even forty years ago we had
good men in politics, but we, we are brought up to pile up a
million and "show what we are made of." Sometimes I wish I'd been
an Englishman; American life is so damned dumb and stupid and
Since poor Beatrice died I'll probably have a little money, but
very darn little. I can forgive mother almost everything except
the fact that in a sudden burst of religiosity toward the end,
she left half of what remained to be spent in stained-glass
windows and seminary endowments. Mr. Barton, my lawyer, writes me
that my thousands are mostly in street railways and that the said
Street R.R.s are losing money because of the five-cent fares.
Imagine a salary list that gives $350 a month to a man that can't
read and write!yet I believe in it, even though I've seen what
was once a sizable fortune melt away between speculation,
extravagance, the democratic administration, and the income
taxmodern, that's me all over, Mabel.
At any rate we'll have really knock-out roomsyou can get a job on
some fashion magazine, and Alec can go into the Zinc Company or
whatever it is that his people ownhe's looking over my shoulder
and he says it's a brass company, but I don't think it matters
much, do you? There's probably as much corruption in zinc-made
money as brass-made money. As for the well-known Amory, he would
write immortal literature if he were sure enough about anything
to risk telling any one else about it. There is no more dangerous
gift to posterity than a few cleverly turned platitudes.
Tom, why don't you become a Catholic? Of course to be a good one
you'd have to give up those violent intrigues you used to tell me
about, but you'd write better poetry if you were linked up to
tall golden candlesticks and long, even chants, and even if the
American priests are rather burgeois, as Beatrice used to say,
still you need only go to the sporty churches, and I'll introduce
you to Monsignor Darcy who really is a wonder.
Kerry's death was a blow, so was Jesse's to a certain extent. And
I have a great curiosity to know what queer corner of the world
has swallowed Burne. Do you suppose he's in prison under some
false name? I confess that the war instead of making me orthodox,
which is the correct reaction, has made me a passionate agnostic.
The Catholic Church has had its wings clipped so often lately
that its part was timidly negligible, and they haven't any good
writers any more. I'm sick of Chesterton.
I've only discovered one soldier who passed through the
much-advertised spiritual crisis, like this fellow, Donald
Hankey, and the one I knew was already studying for the ministry,
so he was ripe for it. I honestly think that's all pretty much
rot, though it seemed to give sentimental comfort to those at
home; and may make fathers and mothers appreciate their children.
This crisis-inspired religion is rather valueless and fleeting at
best. I think four men have discovered Paris to one that
dinner and have wine on the table and lead a contemplative,
emotionless life until we decide to use machine-guns with the
property ownersor throw bombs with the Bolshevik God! Tom, I hope
something happens. I'm restless as the devil and have a horror of
getting fat or falling in love and growing domestic.
The place at Lake Geneva is now for rent but when I land I'm
going West to see Mr. Barton and get some details. Write me care
of the Blackstone, Chicago.
S'ever, dear Boswell,
The Education of a Personage
The time is February. The place is a large, dainty bedroom in the
Connage house on Sixty-eighth Street, New York. A girl's room:
pink walls and curtains and a pink bedspread on a cream-colored
bed. Pink and cream are the motifs of the room, but the only
article of furniture in full view is a luxurious dressing-table
with a glass top and a three-sided mirror. On the walls there is
an expensive print of "Cherry Ripe," a few polite dogs by
Landseer, and the "King of the Black Isles," by Maxfield Parrish.
Great disorder consisting of the following items: (1) seven or
eight empty cardboard boxes, with tissue-paper tongues hanging
panting from their mouths; (2) an assortment of street dresses
mingled with their sisters of the evening, all upon the table,
all evidently new; (3) a roll of tulle, which has lost its
dignity and wound itself tortuously around everything in sight,
and (4) upon the two small chairs, a collection of lingerie that
beggars description. One would enjoy seeing the bill called forth
by the finery displayed and one is possessed by a desire to see
the princess for whose benefit Look! There's some one!
Disappointment! This is only a maid hunting for something she
lifts a heap from a chair Not there; another heap, the
dressing-table, the chiffonier drawers. She brings to light
several beautiful chemises and an amazing pajama but this does
not satisfy hershe goes out.
An indistinguishable mumble from the next room.
Now, we are getting warm. This is Alec's mother, Mrs. Connage,
ample, dignified, rouged to the dowager point and quite worn out.
Her lips move significantly as she looks for IT. Her search is
less thorough than the maid's but there is a touch of fury in it,
that quite makes up for its sketchiness. She stumbles on the
tulle and her "damn" is quite audible. She retires, empty-handed.
More chatter outside and a girl's voice, a very spoiled voice,
says: "Of all the stupid people"
After a pause a third seeker enters, not she of the spoiled
voice, but a younger edition. This is Cecelia Connage, sixteen,
pretty, shrewd, and constitutionally good-humored. She is dressed
for the evening in a gown the obvious simplicity of which
probably bores her. She goes to the nearest pile, selects a small
pink garment and holds it up appraisingly.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Yes!
CECELIA: Very snappy?
CECELIA: I've got it!
(She sees herself in the mirror of the dressing-table and
commences to shimmy enthusiastically.)
ROSALIND: (Outside) What are you doingtrying it on?
(CECELIA ceases and goes out carrying the garment at the right
From the other door, enters ALEC CONNAGE. He looks around quickly
and in a huge voice shouts: Mama! There is a chorus of protest
from next door and encouraged he starts toward it, but is
repelled by another chorus.)
CECELIA: (Quickly) Take him down-stairs.
ALEC: Oh, he is down-stairs.
MRS. CONNAGE: Well, you can show him where his room is. Tell him
I'm sorry that I can't meet him now.
ALEC: He's heard a lot about you all. I wish you'd hurry.
Father's telling him all about the war and he's restless. He's
sort of temperamental.
(This last suffices to draw CECELIA into the room.)
CECELIA: (Seating herself high upon lingerie) How do you
meantemperamental? You used to say that about him in letters.
ALEC: Oh, he writes stuff.
CECELIA: Does he play the piano?
ALEC: Don't think so.
CECELIA: (Speculatively) Drink?
ALEC: Yesnothing queer about him.
ALEC: Good Lordask him, he used to have a lot, and he's got some
(MRS. CONNAGE appears.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec, of course we're glad to have any friend of
ALEC: You certainly ought to meet Amory.
MRS. CONNAGE: Of course, I want to. But I think it's so childish
of you to leave a perfectly good home to go and live with two
other boys in some impossible apartment. I hope it isn't in order
that you can all drink as much as you want. (She pauses.) He'll
be a little neglected to-night. This is Rosalind's week, you see.
When a girl comes out, she needs all the attention.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Well, then, prove it by coming here and
(MRS. CONNAGE goes.)
ALEC: Rosalind hasn't changed a bit.
CECELIA: (In a lower tone) She's awfully spoiled.
ALEC: She'll meet her match to-night.
CECELIA: WhoMr. Amory Blaine?
CECELIA: Well, Rosalind has still to meet the man she can't
outdistance. Honestly, Alec, she treats men terribly. She abuses
them and cuts them and breaks dates with them and yawns in their
facesand they come back for more.
ALEC: They love it.
CECELIA: They hate it. She's ashe's a sort of vampire, I thinkand
she can make girls do what she wants usuallyonly she hates girls.
ALEC: Personality runs in our family.
CECELIA: (Resignedly) I guess it ran out before it got to me.
ALEC: Does Rosalind behave herself?
CECELIA: Not particularly well. Oh, she's averagesmokes
sometimes, drinks punch, frequently kissedOh, yescommon
knowledgeone of the effects of the war, you know.
(Emerges MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind's almost finished so I can go down and
meet your friend.
(ALEC and his mother go out.)
ROSALIND: (Outside) Oh, mother
CECELIA: Mothers gone down.
(And now ROSALIND enters. ROSALIND isutterly ROSALIND. She is one
of those girls who need never make the slightest effort to have
men fall in love with them. Two types of men seldom do: dull men
are usually afraid of her cleverness and intellectual men are
usually afraid of her beauty. All others are hers by natural
If ROSALIND could be spoiled the process would have been complete
by this time, and as a matter of fact, her disposition is not all
it should be; she wants what she wants when she wants it and she
is prone to make every one around her pretty miserable when she
doesn't get itbut in the true sense she is not spoiled. Her fresh
enthusiasm, her will to grow and learn, her endless faith in the
inexhaustibility of romance, her courage and fundamental
honestythese things are not spoiled.
There are long periods when she cordially loathes her whole
family. She is quite unprincipled; her philosophy is carpe diem
for herself and laissez faire for others. She loves shocking
stories: she has that coarse streak that usually goes with
natures that are both fine and big. She wants people to like her,
but if they do not it never worries her or changes her.
She is by no means a model character.
The education of all beautiful women is the knowledge of men.
ROSALIND had been disappointed in man after man as individuals,
but she had great faith in man as a sex. Women she detested. They
represented qualities that she felt and despised in
herselfincipient meanness, conceit, cowardice, and petty
dishonesty. She once told a roomful of her mother's friends that
the only excuse for women was the necessity for a disturbing
element among men. She danced exceptionally well, drew cleverly
but hastily, and had a startling facility with words, which she
used only in love-letters.
But all criticism of ROSALIND ends in her beauty. There was that
shade of glorious yellow hair, the desire to imitate which
supports the dye industry. There was the eternal kissable mouth,
small, slightly sensual, and utterly disturbing. There were gray
eyes and an unimpeachable skin with two spots of vanishing color.
She was slender and athletic, without underdevelopment, and it
was a delight to watch her move about a room, walk along a
street, swing a golf club, or turn a "cartwheel."
A last qualificationher vivid, instant personality escaped that
conscious, theatrical quality that AMORY had found in ISABELLE.
MONSIGNOR DARCY would have been quite up a tree whether to call
her a personality or a personage. She was perhaps the delicious,
inexpressible, once-in-a-century blend.
On the night of her dibut she is, for all her strange, stray
wisdom, quite like a happy little girl. Her mother's maid has
just done her hair, but she has decided impatiently that she can
do a better job herself. She is too nervous just now to stay in
one place. To that we owe her presence in this littered room. She
is going to speak. ISABELLE'S alto tones had been like a violin,
but if you could hear ROSALIND, you would say her voice was
musical as a waterfall.
I really enjoy being in (Combing her hair at the dressing-table.)
One's a hoop skirt with pantaloons; the other's a one-piece
bathing-suit. I'm quite charming in both of them.
CECELIA: Glad you're coming out?
ROSALIND: Yes; aren't you?
CECELIA: (Cynically) You're glad so you can get married and live
on Long Island with the fast younger married set. You want life
to be a chain of flirtation with a man for every link.
ROSALIND: Want it to be one! You mean I've found it one.
ROSALIND: Cecelia, darling, you don't know what a trial it is to
belike me. I've got to keep my face like steel in the street to
keep men from winking at me. If I laugh hard from a front row in
the theatre, the comedian plays to me for the rest of the
evening. If I drop my voice, my eyes, my handkerchief at a dance,
my partner calls me up on the 'phone every day for a week.
CECELIA: It must be an awful strain.
ROSALIND: The unfortunate part is that the only men who interest
me at all are the totally ineligible ones. Nowif I were poor I'd
go on the stage.
CECELIA: Yes, you might as well get paid for the amount of acting
ROSALIND: Sometimes when I've felt particularly radiant I've
thought, why should this be wasted on one man?
CECELIA: Often when you're particularly sulky, I've wondered why
it should all be wasted on just one family. (Getting up.) I think
I'll go down and meet Mr. Amory Blaine. I like temperamental men.
ROSALIND: There aren't any. Men don't know how to be really angry
or really happyand the ones that do, go to pieces.
CECELIA: Well, I'm glad I don't have all your worries. I'm
ROSALIND: (With a scornful smile) Engaged? Why, you little
lunatic! If mother heard you talking like that she'd send you off
to boarding-school, where you belong.
CECELIA: You won't tell her, though, because I know things I
could telland you're too selfish!
ROSALIND: (A little annoyed) Run along, little girl! Who are you
engaged to, the iceman? the man that keeps the candy-store?
CECELIA: Cheap witgood-by, darling, I'll see you later.
ROSALIND: Oh, be sure and do thatyou're such a help.
(Exit CECELIA. ROSALIND finished her hair and rises, humming. She
goes up to the mirror and starts to dance in front of it on the
soft carpet. She watches not her feet, but her eyesnever casually
but always intently, even when she smiles. The door suddenly
opens and then slams behind AMORY, very cool and handsome as
usual. He melts into instant confusion.)
HE: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought
SHE: (Smiling radiantly) Oh, you're Amory Blaine, aren't you?
HE: (Regarding her closely) And you're Rosalind?
SHE: I'm going to call you Amoryoh, come init's all
rightmother'll be right in(under her breath) unfortunately.
HE: (Gazing around) This is sort of a new wrinkle for me.
SHE: This is No Man's Land.
HE: This is where youyou(pause)
SHE: Yesall those things. (She crosses to the bureau.) See,
here's my rougeeye pencils.
HE: I didn't know you were that way.
SHE: What did you expect?
HE: I thought you'd be sort ofsort ofsexless, you know, swim and
SHE: Oh, I dobut not in business hours.
SHE: Six to twostrictly.
HE: I'd like to have some stock in the corporation.
SHE: Oh, it's not a corporationit's just "Rosalind, Unlimited."
Fifty-one shares, name, good-will, and everything goes at $25,000
HE: (Disapprovingly) Sort of a chilly proposition.
SHE: Well, Amory, you don't minddo you? When I meet a man that
doesn't bore me to death after two weeks, perhaps it'll be
HE: Odd, you have the same point of view on men that I have on
SHE: I'm not really feminine, you knowin my mind.
HE: (Interested) Go on.
SHE: No, youyou go onyou've made me talk about myself. That's
against the rules.
SHE: My own rulesbut you Oh, Amory, I hear you're brilliant. The
family expects so much of you.
HE: How encouraging!
SHE: Alec said you'd taught him to think. Did you? I didn't
believe any one could.
HE: No. I'm really quite dull.
(He evidently doesn't intend this to be taken seriously.)
HE: I'mI'm religiousI'm literary. I'veI've even written poems.
SHE: Vers libresplendid! (She declaims.)
"The trees are green,
The birds are singing in the trees,
The girl sips her poison
The bird flies away the girl dies."
HE: (Laughing) No, not that kind.
SHE: (Suddenly) I like you.
SHE: Modest too
HE: I'm afraid of you. I'm always afraid of a girluntil I've
SHE: (Emphatically) My dear boy, the war is over.
HE: So I'll always be afraid of you.
SHE: (Rather sadly) I suppose you will.
(A slight hesitation on both their parts.)
HE: (After due consideration) Listen. This is a frightful thing
SHE: (Knowing what's coming) After five minutes.
HE: But will youkiss me? Or are you afraid?
SHE: I'm never afraidbut your reasons are so poor.
HE: Rosalind, I really want to kiss you.
SHE: So do I.
(They kissdefinitely and thoroughly.)
HE: (After a breathless second) Well, is your curiosity
SHE: Is yours?
HE: No, it's only aroused.
(He looks it.)
SHE: (Dreamily) I've kissed dozens of men. I suppose I'll kiss
HE: (Abstractedly) Yes, I suppose you couldlike that.
SHE: Most people like the way I kiss.
HE: (Remembering himself) Good Lord, yes. Kiss me once more,
SHE: Nomy curiosity is generally satisfied at one.
HE: (Discouraged) Is that a rule?
SHE: I make rules to fit the cases.
HE: You and I are somewhat alikeexcept that I'm years older in
SHE: How old are you?
HE: Almost twenty-three. You?
HE: I suppose you're the product of a fashionable school.
SHE: NoI'm fairly raw material. I was expelled from SpenceI've
HE: What's your general trend?
SHE: Oh, I'm bright, quite selfish, emotional when aroused, fond
HE: (Suddenly) I don't want to fall in love with you
SHE: (Raising her eyebrows) Nobody asked you to.
HE: (Continuing coldly) But I probably will. I love your mouth.
SHE: Hush! Please don't fall in love with my mouthhair, eyes,
shoulders, slippersbut not my mouth. Everybody falls in love with
HE: It's quite beautiful.
SHE: It's too small.
HE: No it isn'tlet's see.
(He kisses her again with the same thoroughness.)
SHE: (Rather moved) Say something sweet.
HE: (Frightened) Lord help me.
SHE: (Drawing away) Well, don'tif it's so hard.
HE: Shall we pretend? So soon?
SHE: We haven't the same standards of time as other people.
HE: Already it'sother people.
SHE: Let's pretend.
HE: NoI can'tit's sentiment.
SHE: You're not sentimental?
HE: No, I'm romantica sentimental person thinks things will lasta
romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is
SHE: And you're not? (With her eyes half-closed.) You probably
flatter yourself that that's a superior attitude.
HE: WellRosalind, Rosalind, don't arguekiss me again.
SHE: (Quite chilly now) NoI have no desire to kiss you.
HE: (Openly taken aback) You wanted to kiss me a minute ago.
SHE: This is now.
HE: I'd better go.
SHE: I suppose so.
(He goes toward the door.)
SHE: (Laughing) ScoreHome Team: One hundredOpponents: Zero.
(He starts back.)
SHE: (Quickly) Rainno game.
(He goes out.)
(She goes quietly to the chiffonier, takes out a cigarette-case
and hides it in the side drawer of a desk. Her mother enters,
note-book in hand.)
MRS. CONNAGE: GoodI've been wanting to speak to you alone before
we go down-stairs.
ROSALIND: Heavens! you frighten me!
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind, you've been a very expensive proposition.
ROSALIND: (Resignedly) Yes.
MRS. CONNAGE: And you know your father hasn't what he once had.
ROSALIND: (Making a wry face) Oh, please don't talk about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You can't do anything without it. This is our last
year in this houseand unless things change Cecelia won't have the
advantages you've had.
ROSALIND: (Impatiently) Wellwhat is it?
MRS. CONNAGE: So I ask you to please mind me in several things
I've put down in my note-book. The first one is: don't disappear
with young men. There may be a time when it's valuable, but at
present I want you on the dance-floor where I can find you. There
are certain men I want to have you meet and I don't like finding
you in some corner of the conservatory exchanging silliness with
any oneor listening to it.
ROSALIND: (Sarcastically) Yes, listening to it is better.
MRS. CONNAGE: And don't waste a lot of time with the college
setlittle boys nineteen and twenty years old. I don't mind a prom
or a football game, but staying away from advantageous parties to
eat in little cafis down-town with Tom, Dick, and Harry
ROSALIND: (Offering her code, which is, in its way, quite as high
as her mother's) Mother, it's doneyou can't run everything now
the way you did in the early nineties.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Paying no attention) There are several bachelor
friends of your father's that I want you to meet to-nightyoungish
ROSALIND: (Nodding wisely) About forty-five?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sharply) Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, quite all rightthey know life and are so adorably
tired looking (shakes her head)but they will dance.
MRS. CONNAGE: I haven't met Mr. Blainebut I don't think you'll
care for him. He doesn't sound like a money-maker.
ROSALIND: Mother, I never think about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You never keep it long enough to think about it.
ROSALIND: (Sighs) Yes, I suppose some day I'll marry a ton of
itout of sheer boredom.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Referring to note-book) I had a wire from
Hartford. Dawson Ryder is coming up. Now there's a young man I
like, and he's floating in money. It seems to me that since you
seem tired of Howard Gillespie you might give Mr. Ryder some
encouragement. This is the third time he's been up in a month.
ROSALIND: How did you know I was tired of Howard Gillespie?
MRS. CONNAGE: The poor boy looks so miserable every time he
ROSALIND: That was one of those romantic, pre-battle affairs.
They're all wrong.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Her say said) At any rate, make us proud of you
ROSALIND: Don't you think I'm beautiful?
MRS. CONNAGE: You know you are.
(From down-stairs is heard the moan of a violin being tuned, the
roll of a drum. MRS. CONNAGE turns quickly to her daughter.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come!
ROSALIND: One minute!
(Her mother leaves. ROSALIND goes to the glass where she gazes at
herself with great satisfaction. She kisses her hand and touches
her mirrored mouth with it. Then she turns out the lights and
leaves the room. Silence for a moment. A few chords from the
piano, the discreet patter of faint drums, the rustle of new
silk, all blend on the staircase outside and drift in through the
partly opened door. Bundled figures pass in the lighted hall. The
laughter heard below becomes doubled and multiplied. Then some
one comes in, closes the door, and switches on the lights. It is
CECELIA. She goes to the chiffonier, looks in the drawers,
hesitatesthen to the desk whence she takes the cigarette-case and
extracts one. She lights it and then, puffing and blowing, walks
toward the mirror.)
CECELIA: (In tremendously sophisticated accents) Oh, yes, coming
out is such a farce nowadays, you know. One really plays around
so much before one is seventeen, that it's positively anticlimax.
(Shaking hands with a visionary middle-aged nobleman.) Yes, your
graceI b'lieve I've heard my sister speak of you. Have a
puffthey're very good. They'rethey're Coronas. You don't smoke?
What a pity! The king doesn't allow it, I suppose. Yes, I'll
(So she dances around the room to a tune from down-stairs, her
arms outstretched to an imaginary partner, the cigarette waving
in her hand.)
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The corner of a den down-stairs, filled by a very comfortable
leather lounge. A small light is on each side above, and in the
middle, over the couch hangs a painting of a very old, very
dignified gentleman, period 1860. Outside the music is heard in a
ROSALIND is seated on the lounge and on her left is HOWARD
GILLESPIE, a vapid youth of about twenty-four. He is obviously
very unhappy, and she is quite bored.
GILLESPIE: (Feebly) What do you mean I've changed. I feel the
same toward you.
ROSALIND: But you don't look the same to me.
GILLESPIE: Three weeks ago you used to say that you liked me
because I was so blasi, so indifferentI still am.
ROSALIND: But not about me. I used to like you because you had
brown eyes and thin legs.
GILLESPIE: (Helplessly) They're still thin and brown. You're a
vampire, that's all.
ROSALIND: The only thing I know about vamping is what's on the
piano score. What confuses men is that I'm perfectly natural. I
used to think you were never jealous. Now you follow me with your
eyes wherever I go.
GILLESPIE: I love you.
ROSALIND: (Coldly) I know it.
GILLESPIE: And you haven't kissed me for two weeks. I had an idea
that after a girl was kissed she waswaswon.
ROSALIND: Those days are over. I have to be won all over again
every time you see me.
GILLESPIE: Are you serious?
ROSALIND: About as usual. There used to be two kinds of kisses:
First when girls were kissed and deserted; second, when they were
engaged. Now there's a third kind, where the man is kissed and
deserted. If Mr. Jones of the nineties bragged he'd kissed a
girl, every one knew he was through with her. If Mr. Jones of
1919 brags the same every one knows it's because he can't kiss
her any more. Given a decent start any girl can beat a man
GILLESPIE: Then why do you play with men?
ROSALIND: (Leaning forward confidentially) For that first moment,
when he's interested. There is a momentOh, just before the first
kiss, a whispered wordsomething that makes it worth while.
GILLESPIE: And then?
ROSALIND: Then after that you make him talk about himself. Pretty
soon he thinks of nothing but being alone with youhe sulks, he
won't fight, he doesn't want to playVictory!
(Enter DAWSON RYDER, twenty-six, handsome, wealthy, faithful to
his own, a bore perhaps, but steady and sure of success.)
RYDER: I believe this is my dance, Rosalind.
ROSALIND: Well, Dawson, so you recognize me. Now I know I haven't
got too much paint on. Mr. Ryder, this is Mr. Gillespie.
(They shake hands and GILLESPIE leaves, tremendously downcast.)
RYDER: Your party is certainly a success.
ROSALIND: Is it I haven't seen it lately. I'm weary Do you mind
sitting out a minute?
RYDER: MindI'm delighted. You know I loathe this "rushing" idea.
See a girl yesterday, to-day, to-morrow.
ROSALIND: I wonder if you know you love me.
RYDER: (Startled) What Ohyou know you're remarkable!
ROSALIND: Because you know I'm an awful proposition. Any one who
marries me will have his hands full. I'm meanmighty mean.
RYDER: Oh, I wouldn't say that.
ROSALIND: Oh, yes, I amespecially to the people nearest to me.
(She rises.) Come, let's go. I've changed my mind and I want to
dance. Mother is probably having a fit.
(Exeunt. Enter ALEC and CECELIA.)
CECELIA: Just my luck to get my own brother for an intermission.
ALEC: (Gloomily) I'll go if you want me to.
CECELIA: Good heavens, nowith whom would I begin the next dance?
(Sighs.) There's no color in a dance since the French officers
ALEC: (Thoughtfully) I don't want Amory to fall in love with
CECELIA: Why, I had an idea that that was just what you did want.
ALEC: I did, but since seeing these girlsI don't know. I'm
awfully attached to Amory. He's sensitive and I don't want him to
break his heart over somebody who doesn't care about him.
CECELIA: He's very good looking.
ALEC: (Still thoughtfully) She won't marry him, but a girl
doesn't have to marry a man to break his heart.
CECELIA: What does it? I wish I knew the secret.
ALEC: Why, you cold-blooded little kitty. It's lucky for some
that the Lord gave you a pug nose.
(Enter MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Where on earth is Rosalind?
ALEC: (Brilliantly) Of course you've come to the best people to
find out. She'd naturally be with us.
MRS. CONNAGE: Her father has marshalled eight bachelor
millionaires to meet her.
ALEC: You might form a squad and march through the halls.
MRS. CONNAGE: I'm perfectly seriousfor all I know she may be at
the Cocoanut Grove with some football player on the night of her
dibut. You look left and I'll
ALEC: (Flippantly) Hadn't you better send the butler through the
MRS. CONNAGE: (Perfectly serious) Oh, you don't think she'd be
CECELIA: He's only joking, mother.
ALEC: Mother had a picture of her tapping a keg of beer with some
MRS. CONNAGE: Let's look right away.
(They go out. ROSALIND comes in with GILLESPIE.)
GILLESPIE: Rosalind Once more I ask you. Don't you care a blessed
thing about me?
(AMORY walks in briskly.)
ROSALIND: Mr. Gillespie, this is Mr. Blaine.
GILLESPIE: I've met Mr. Blaine. From Lake Geneva, aren't you?
GILLESPIE: (Desperately) I've been there. It's in thethe Middle
West, isn't it?
AMORY: (Spicily) Approximately. But I always felt that I'd rather
be provincial hot-tamale than soup without seasoning.
AMORY: Oh, no offense.
(GILLESPIE bows and leaves.)
ROSALIND: He's too much people.
AMORY: I was in love with a people once.
AMORY: Oh, yesher name was Isabellenothing at all to her except
what I read into her.
ROSALIND: What happened?
AMORY: Finally I convinced her that she was smarter than I
wasthen she threw me over. Said I was critical and impractical,
ROSALIND: What do you mean impractical?
AMORY: Ohdrive a car, but can't change a tire.
ROSALIND: What are you going to do?
AMORY: Can't sayrun for President, write
ROSALIND: Greenwich Village?
AMORY: Good heavens, noI said writenot drink.
ROSALIND: I like business men. Clever men are usually so homely.
AMORY: I feel as if I'd known you for ages.
ROSALIND: Oh, are you going to commence the "pyramid" story?
AMORY: NoI was going to make it French. I was Louis XIV and you
were one of mymy (Changing his tone.) Supposewe fell in love.
ROSALIND: I ve suggested pretending.
AMORY: If we did it would be very big.
AMORY: Because selfish people are in a way terribly capable of
ROSALIND: (Turning her lips up) Pretend.
(Very deliberately they kiss.)
AMORY: I can't say sweet things. But you are beautiful.
ROSALIND: Not that.
AMORY: What then?
ROSALIND: (Sadly) Oh, nothingonly I want sentiment, real
sentimentand I never find it.
AMORY: I never find anything else in the worldand I loathe it.
ROSALIND: It's so hard to find a male to gratify one's artistic
(Some one has opened a door and the music of a waltz surges into
the room. ROSALIND rises.)
ROSALIND: Listen! they're playing "Kiss Me Again."
(He looks at her.)
AMORY: (Softlythe battle lost) I love you.
ROSALIND: I love younow.
AMORY: Oh, God, what have I done?
ROSALIND: Nothing. Oh, don't talk. Kiss me again.
AMORY: I don't know why or how, but I love youfrom the moment I
ROSALIND: Me tooIIoh, to-night's to-night.
(Her brother strolls in, starts and then in a loud voice says:
"Oh, excuse me," and goes.)
ROSALIND: (Her lips scarcely stirring) Don't let me goI don't
care who knows what I do.
AMORY: Say it!
ROSALIND: I love younow. (They part.) OhI am very youthful, thank
Godand rather beautiful, thank Godand happy, thank God, thank God
(She pauses and then, in an odd burst of prophecy, adds) Poor
(He kisses her again.)
Within two weeks Amory and Rosalind were deeply and passionately
in love. The critical qualities which had spoiled for each of
them a dozen romances were dulled by the great wave of emotion
that washed over them.
"It may be an insane love-affair," she told her anxious mother,
"but it's not inane."
The wave swept Amory into an advertising agency early in March,
where he alternated between astonishing bursts of rather
exceptional work and wild dreams of becoming suddenly rich and
touring Italy with Rosalind.
They were together constantly, for lunch, for dinner, and nearly
every eveningalways in a sort of breathless hush, as if they
feared that any minute the spell would break and drop them out of
this paradise of rose and flame. But the spell became a trance,
seemed to increase from day to day; they began to talk of
marrying in Julyin June. All life was transmitted into terms of
their love, all experience, all desires, all ambitions, were
nullifiedtheir senses of humor crawled into corners to sleep;
their former love-affairs seemed faintly laughable and scarcely
For the second time in his life Amory had had a complete
bouleversement and was hurrying into line with his generation.
A LITTLE INTERLUDE
Amory wandered slowly up the avenue and thought of the night as
inevitably histhe pageantry and carnival of rich dusk and dim
streets ... it seemed that he had closed the book of fading
harmonies at last and stepped into the sensuous vibrant walks of
life. Everywhere these countless lights, this promise of a night
of streets and singinghe moved in a half-dream through the crowd
as if expecting to meet Rosalind hurrying toward him with eager
feet from every corner.... How the unforgettable faces of dusk
would blend to her, the myriad footsteps, a thousand overtures,
would blend to her footsteps; and there would be more drunkenness
than wine in the softness of her eyes on his. Even his dreams now
were faint violins drifting like summer sounds upon the summer
The room was in darkness except for the faint glow of Tom's
cigarette where he lounged by the open window. As the door shut
behind him, Amory stood a moment with his back against it.
"Hello, Benvenuto Blaine. How went the advertising business
Amory sprawled on a couch.
"I loathed it as usual!" The momentary vision of the bustling
agency was displaced quickly by another picture.
"My God! She's wonderful!"
"I can't tell you," repeated Amory, "just how wonderful she is. I
don't want you to know. I don't want any one to know."
Another sigh came from the windowquite a resigned sigh.
"She's life and hope and happiness, my whole world now."
He felt the quiver of a tear on his eyelid.
"Oh, Golly, Tom!"
"Sit like we do," she whispered.
He sat in the big chair and held out his arms so that she could
nestle inside them.
"I knew you'd come to-night," she said softly, "like summer, just
when I needed you most ... darling ... darling..."
His lips moved lazily over her face.
"You taste so good," he sighed.
"How do you mean, lover?"
"Oh, just sweet, just sweet..." he held her closer.
"Amory," she whispered, "when you're ready for me I'll marry
"We won't have much at first."
"Don't!" she cried. "It hurts when you reproach yourself for what
you can't give me. I've got your precious selfand that's enough
"You know, don't you? Oh, you know."
"Yes, but I want to hear you say it."
"I love you, Amory, with all my heart."
"Always, will you?"
"All my lifeOh, Amory"
"I want to belong to you. I want your people to be my people. I
want to have your babies."
"But I haven't any people."
"Don't laugh at me, Amory. Just kiss me."
"I'll do what you want," he said.
"No, I'll do what you want. We're younot me. Oh, you're so much a
part, so much all of me..."
He closed his eyes.
"I'm so happy that I'm frightened. Wouldn't it be awful if this
waswas the high point?..."
She looked at him dreamily.
"Beauty and love pass, I know.... Oh, there's sadness, too. I
suppose all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the
scent of roses and then the death of roses"
"Beauty means the agony of sacrifice and the end of agony...."
"And, Amory, we're beautiful, I know. I'm sure God loves us"
"He loves you. You're his most precious possession."
"I'm not his, I'm yours. Amory, I belong to you. For the first
time I regret all the other kisses; now I know how much a kiss
Then they would smoke and he would tell her about his day at the
officeand where they might live. Sometimes, when he was
particularly loquacious, she went to sleep in his arms, but he
loved that Rosalindall Rosalinds as he had never in the world
loved any one else. Intangibly fleeting, unrememberable hours.
One day Amory and Howard Gillespie meeting by accident down-town
took lunch together, and Amory heard a story that delighted him.
Gillespie after several cocktails was in a talkative mood; he
began by telling Amory that he was sure Rosalind was slightly
He had gone with her on a swimming party up in Westchester
County, and some one mentioned that Annette Kellerman had been
there one day on a visit and had dived from the top of a rickety,
thirty-foot summer-house. Immediately Rosalind insisted that
Howard should climb up with her to see what it looked like.
A minute later, as he sat and dangled his feet on the edge, a
form shot by him; Rosalind, her arms spread in a beautiful swan
dive, had sailed through the air into the clear water.
"Of course I had to go, after thatand I nearly killed myself. I
thought I was pretty good to even try it. Nobody else in the
party tried it. Well, afterward Rosalind had the nerve to ask me
why I stooped over when I dove. 'It didn't make it any easier,'
she said, 'it just took all the courage out of it.' I ask you,
what can a man do with a girl like that? Unnecessary, I call it."
Gillespie failed to understand why Amory was smiling delightedly
all through lunch. He thought perhaps he was one of these hollow
FIVE WEEKS LATER
Again the library of the Connage house. ROSALIND is alone,
sitting on the lounge staring very moodily and unhappily at
nothing. She has changed perceptiblyshe is a trifle thinner for
one thing; the light in her eyes is not so bright; she looks
easily a year older.
Her mother comes in, muffled in an opera-cloak. She takes in
ROSALIND with a nervous glance.
MRS. CONNAGE: Who is coming to-night?
(ROSALIND fails to hear her, at least takes no notice.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec is coming up to take me to this Barrie play,
"Et tu, Brutus." (She perceives that she is talking to herself.)
Rosalind! I asked you who is coming to-night?
ROSALIND: (Starting) OhwhatohAmory
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sarcastically) You have so many admirers lately
that I couldn't imagine which one. (ROSALIND doesn't answer.)
Dawson Ryder is more patient than I thought he'd be. You haven't
given him an evening this week.
ROSALIND: (With a very weary expression that is quite new to her
MRS. CONNAGE: Oh, I won't interfere. You've already wasted over
two months on a theoretical genius who hasn't a penny to his
name, but go ahead, waste your life on him. I won't interfere.
ROSALIND: (As if repeating a tiresome lesson) You know he has a
little incomeand you know he's earning thirty-five dollars a week
MRS. CONNAGE: And it wouldn't buy your clothes. (She pauses but
ROSALIND makes no reply.) I have your best interests at heart
when I tell you not to take a step you'll spend your days
regretting. It's not as if your father could help you. Things
have been hard for him lately and he's an old man. You'd be
dependent absolutely on a dreamer, a nice, well-born boy, but a
dreamermerely clever. (She implies that this quality in itself is
ROSALIND: For heaven's sake, mother
(A maid appears, announces Mr. Blaine who follows immediately.
AMORY'S friends have been telling him for ten days that he "looks
like the wrath of God," and he does. As a matter of fact he has
not been able to eat a mouthful in the last thirty-six hours.)
AMORY: Good evening, Mrs. Connage.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Not unkindly) Good evening, Amory.
(AMORY and ROSALIND exchange glancesand ALEC comes in. ALEC'S
attitude throughout has been neutral. He believes in his heart
that the marriage would make AMORY mediocre and ROSALIND
miserable, but he feels a great sympathy for both of them.)
AMORY: Hi, Alec! Tom said he'd meet you at the theatre.
ALEC: Yeah, just saw him. How's the advertising to-day? Write
some brilliant copy?
AMORY: Oh, it's about the same. I got a raise (Every one looks at
him rather eagerly)of two dollars a week. (General collapse.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come, Alec, I hear the car.
(A good night, rather chilly in sections. After MRS. CONNAGE and
ALEC go out there is a pause. ROSALIND still stares moodily at
the fireplace. AMORY goes to her and puts his arm around her.)
AMORY: Darling girl.
(They kiss. Another pause and then she seizes his hand, covers it
with kisses and holds it to her breast.)
ROSALIND: (Sadly) I love your hands, more than anything. I see
them often when you're away from meso tired; I know every line of
them. Dear hands!
(Their eyes meet for a second and then she begins to crya
ROSALIND: Oh, we're so darned pitiful!
ROSALIND: Oh, I want to die!
AMORY: Rosalind, another night of this and I'll go to pieces.
You've been this way four days now. You've got to be more
encouraging or I can't work or eat or sleep. (He looks around
helplessly as if searching for new words to clothe an old,
shopworn phrase.) We'll have to make a start. I like having to
make a start together. (His forced hopefulness fades as he sees
her unresponsive.) What's the matter? (He gets up suddenly and
starts to pace the floor.) It's Dawson Ryder, that's what it is.
He's been working on your nerves. You've been with him every
afternoon for a week. People come and tell me they've seen you
together, and I have to smile and nod and pretend it hasn't the
slightest significance for me. And you won't tell me anything as
ROSALIND: Amory, if you don't sit down I'll scream.
AMORY: (Sitting down suddenly beside her) Oh, Lord.
ROSALIND: (Taking his hand gently) You know I love you, don't
ROSALIND: You know I'll always love you
AMORY: Don't talk that way; you frighten me. It sounds as if we
weren't going to have each other. (She cries a little and rising
from the couch goes to the armchair.) I've felt all afternoon
that things were worse. I nearly went wild down at the
officecouldn't write a line. Tell me everything.
ROSALIND: There's nothing to tell, I say. I'm just nervous.
AMORY: Rosalind, you're playing with the idea of marrying Dawson
ROSALIND: (After a pause) He's been asking me to all day.
AMORY: Well, he's got his nerve!
ROSALIND: (After another pause) I like him.
AMORY: Don't say that. It hurts me.
ROSALIND: Don't be a silly idiot. You know you're the only man
I've ever loved, ever will love.
AMORY: (Quickly) Rosalind, let's get marriednext week.
ROSALIND: We can't.
AMORY: Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, we can't. I'd be your squawin some horrible place.
AMORY: We'll have two hundred and seventy-five dollars a month
ROSALIND: Darling, I don't even do my own hair, usually.
AMORY: I'll do it for you.
ROSALIND: (Between a laugh and a sob) Thanks.
AMORY: Rosalind, you can't be thinking of marrying some one else.
Tell me! You leave me in the dark. I can help you fight it out if
you'll only tell me.
ROSALIND: It's justus. We're pitiful, that's all. The very
qualities I love you for are the ones that will always make you a
AMORY: (Grimly) Go on.
ROSALIND: Ohit is Dawson Ryder. He's so reliable, I almost feel
that he'd be aa background.
AMORY: You don't love him.
ROSALIND: I know, but I respect him, and he's a good man and a
AMORY: (Grudgingly) Yeshe's that.
ROSALIND: Wellhere's one little thing. There was a little poor
boy we met in Rye Tuesday afternoonand, oh, Dawson took him on
his lap and talked to him and promised him an Indian suitand next
day he remembered and bought itand, oh, it was so sweet and I
couldn't help thinking he'd be so nice toto our childrentake care
of themand I wouldn't have to worry.
AMORY: (In despair) Rosalind! Rosalind!
ROSALIND: (With a faint roguishness) Don't look so consciously
AMORY: What power we have of hurting each other!
ROSALIND: (Commencing to sob again) It's been so perfectyou and
I. So like a dream that I'd longed for and never thought I'd
find. The first real unselfishness I've ever felt in my life. And
I can't see it fade out in a colorless atmosphere!
AMORY: It won'tit won't!
ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memorytucked away in
AMORY: Yes, women can do thatbut not men. I'd remember always,
not the beauty of it while it lasted, but just the bitterness,
the long bitterness.
AMORY: All the years never to see you, never to kiss you, just a
gate shut and barredyou don't dare be my wife.
ROSALIND: NonoI'm taking the hardest course, the strongest
course. Marrying you would be a failure and I never failif you
don't stop walking up and down I'll scream!
(Again he sinks despairingly onto the lounge.)
AMORY: Don't you want to kiss me?
ROSALIND: To-night I want you to love me calmly and coolly.
AMORY: The beginning of the end.
ROSALIND: (With a burst of insight) Amory, you're young. I'm
young. People excuse us now for our poses and vanities, for
treating people like Sancho and yet getting away with it. They
excuse us now. But you've got a lot of knocks coming to you
AMORY: And you're afraid to take them with me.
ROSALIND: No, not that. There was a poem I read somewhereyou'll
say Ella Wheeler Wilcox and laughbut listen:
"For this is wisdomto love and live,
To take what fate or the gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in timelet go."
AMORY: But we haven't had.
ROSALIND: Amory, I'm yoursyou know it. There have been times in
the last month I'd have been completely yours if you'd said so.
But I can't marry you and ruin both our lives.
AMORY: We've got to take our chance for happiness.
ROSALIND: Dawson says I'd learn to love him.
(AMORY with his head sunk in his hands does not move. The life
seems suddenly gone out of him.)
ROSALIND: Lover! Lover! I can't do with you, and I can't imagine
life without you.
AMORY: Rosalind, we're on each other's nerves. It's just that
we're both high-strung, and this week
(His voice is curiously old. She crosses to him and taking his
face in her hands, kisses him.)
ROSALIND: I can't, Amory. I can't be shut away from the trees and
flowers, cooped up in a little flat, waiting for you. You'd hate
me in a narrow atmosphere. I'd make you hate me.
(Again she is blinded by sudden uncontrolled tears.)
ROSALIND: Oh, darling, go Don't make it harder! I can't stand it
AMORY: (His face drawn, his voice strained) Do you know what
you're saying? Do you mean forever?
(There is a difference somehow in the quality of their
ROSALIND: Can't you see
AMORY: I'm afraid I can't if you love me. You're afraid of taking
two years' knocks with me.
ROSALIND: I wouldn't be the Rosalind you love.
AMORY: (A little hysterically) I can't give you up! I can't,
that's all! I've got to have you!
ROSALIND: (A hard note in her voice) You're being a baby now.
AMORY: (Wildly) I don't care! You're spoiling our lives!
ROSALIND: I'm doing the wise thing, the only thing.
AMORY: Are you going to marry Dawson Ryder?
ROSALIND: Oh, don't ask me. You know I'm old in some waysin
otherswell, I'm just a little girl. I like sunshine and pretty
things and cheerfulnessand I dread responsibility. I don't want
to think about pots and kitchens and brooms. I want to worry
whether my legs will get slick and brown when I swim in the
AMORY: And you love me.
ROSALIND: That's just why it has to end. Drifting hurts too much.
We can't have any more scenes like this.
(She draws his ring from her finger and hands it to him. Their
eyes blind again with tears.)
AMORY: (His lips against her wet cheek) Don't! Keep it, pleaseoh,
don't break my heart!
(She presses the ring softly into his hand.)
ROSALIND: (Brokenly) You'd better go.
(She looks at him once more, with infinite longing, infinite
(He goes to the door, fumbles for the knob, finds itshe sees him
throw back his headand he is gone. Goneshe half starts from the
lounge and then sinks forward on her face into the pillows.)
ROSALIND: Oh, God, I want to die! (After a moment she rises and
with her eyes closed feels her way to the door. Then she turns
and looks once more at the room. Here they had sat and dreamed:
that tray she had so often filled with matches for him; that
shade that they had discreetly lowered one long Sunday afternoon.
Misty-eyed she stands and remembers; she speaks aloud.) Oh,
Amory, what have I done to you?
(And deep under the aching sadness that will pass in time,
Rosalind feels that she has lost something, she knows not what,
she knows not why.)
The Education of a Personage
Experiments in Convalescence
THE KNICKERBOCKER BAR, beamed upon by Maxfield Parrish's jovial,
colorful "Old King Cole," was well crowded. Amory stopped in the
entrance and looked at his wrist-watch; he wanted particularly to
know the time, for something in his mind that catalogued and
classified liked to chip things off cleanly. Later it would
satisfy him in a vague way to be able to think "that thing ended
at exactly twenty minutes after eight on Thursday, June 10,
1919." This was allowing for the walk from her housea walk
concerning which he had afterward not the faintest recollection.
He was in rather grotesque condition: two days of worry and
nervousness, of sleepless nights, of untouched meals, culminating
in the emotional crisis and Rosalind's abrupt decisionthe strain
of it had drugged the foreground of his mind into a merciful
coma. As he fumbled clumsily with the olives at the free-lunch
table, a man approached and spoke to him, and the olives dropped
from his nervous hands.
It was some one he had known at Princeton; he had no idea of the
"Hello, old boy" he heard himself saying.
"Name's Jim Wilsonyou've forgotten."
"Sure, you bet, Jim. I remember."
"Going to reunion?"
"You know!" Simultaneously he realized that he was not going to
Amory nodded, his eyes staring oddly. Stepping back to let some
one pass, he knocked the dish of olives to a crash on the floor.
"Too bad," he muttered. "Have a drink?"
Wilson, ponderously diplomatic, reached over and slapped him on
"You've had plenty, old boy."
Amory eyed him dumbly until Wilson grew embarrassed under the
"Plenty, hell!" said Amory finally. "I haven't had a drink
Wilson looked incredulous.
"Have a drink or not?" cried Amory rudely.
Together they sought the bar.
"I'll just take a Bronx."
Wilson had another; Amory had several more. They decided to sit
down. At ten o'clock Wilson was displaced by Carling, class of
'15. Amory, his head spinning gorgeously, layer upon layer of
soft satisfaction setting over the bruised spots of his spirit,
was discoursing volubly on the war.
"'S a mental was'e," he insisted with owl-like wisdom. "Two years
my life spent inalleshual vacuity. Los' idealism, got be physcal
anmal," he shook his fist expressively at Old King Cole, "got be
Prussian 'bout ev'thing, women 'specially. Use' be straight 'bout
women college. Now don'givadam." He expressed his lack of
principle by sweeping a seltzer bottle with a broad gesture to
noisy extinction on the floor, but this did not interrupt his
speech. "Seek pleasure where find it for to-morrow die. 'At's
philos'phy for me now on."
Carling yawned, but Amory, waxing brilliant, continued:
"Use' wonder 'bout thingspeople satisfied compromise, fif'y-fif'y
att'tude on life. Now don' wonder, don' wonder" He became so
emphatic in impressing on Carling the fact that he didn't wonder
that he lost the thread of his discourse and concluded by
announcing to the bar at large that he was a "physcal anmal."
"What are you celebrating, Amory?"
Amory leaned forward confidentially.
"Cel'brating blowmylife. Great moment blow my life. Can't tell
you 'bout it"
He heard Carling addressing a remark to the bartender:
"Give him a bromo-seltzer."
Amory shook his head indignantly.
"None that stuff!"
"But listen, Amory, you're making yourself sick. You're white as
Amory considered the question. He tried to look at himself in the
mirror but even by squinting up one eye could only see as far as
the row of bottles behind the bar.
"Like som'n solid. We go get somesome salad."
He settled his coat with an attempt at nonchalance, but letting
go of the bar was too much for him, and he slumped against a
"We'll go over to Shanley's," suggested Carling, offering an
With this assistance Amory managed to get his legs in motion
enough to propel him across Forty-second Street.
Shanley's was very dim. He was conscious that he was talking in a
loud voice, very succinctly and convincingly, he thought, about a
desire to crush people under his heel. He consumed three club
sandwiches, devouring each as though it were no larger than a
chocolate-drop. Then Rosalind began popping into his mind again,
and he found his lips forming her name over and over. Next he was
sleepy, and he had a hazy, listless sense of people in dress
suits, probably waiters, gathering around the table....
...He was in a room and Carling was saying something about a knot
in his shoe-lace.
"Nemmine," he managed to articulate drowsily. "Sleep in 'em...."
He awoke laughing and his eyes lazily roamed his surroundings,
evidently a bedroom and bath in a good hotel. His head was
whirring and picture after picture was forming and blurring and
melting before his eyes, but beyond the desire to laugh he had no
entirely conscious reaction. He reached for the 'phone beside his
"Hellowhat hotel is this?
"Knickerbocker? All right, send up two rye highballs"
He lay for a moment and wondered idly whether they'd send up a
bottle or just two of those little glass containers. Then, with
an effort, he struggled out of bed and ambled into the bathroom.
When he emerged, rubbing himself lazily with a towel, he found
the bar boy with the drinks and had a sudden desire to kid him.
On reflection he decided that this would be undignified, so he
waved him away.
As the new alcohol tumbled into his stomach and warmed him, the
isolated pictures began slowly to form a cinema reel of the day
before. Again he saw Rosalind curled weeping among the pillows,
again he felt her tears against his cheek. Her words began
ringing in his ears: "Don't ever forget me, Amorydon't ever
"Hell!" he faltered aloud, and then he choked and collapsed on
the bed in a shaken spasm of grief. After a minute he opened his
eyes and regarded the ceiling.
"Damned fool!" he exclaimed in disgust, and with a voluminous
sigh rose and approached the bottle. After another glass he gave
way loosely to the luxury of tears. Purposely he called up into
his mind little incidents of the vanished spring, phrased to
himself emotions that would make him react even more strongly to
"We were so happy," he intoned dramatically, "so very happy."
Then he gave way again and knelt beside the bed, his head
half-buried in the pillow.
"My own girlmy own Oh"
He clinched his teeth so that the tears streamed in a flood from
"Oh ... my baby girl, all I had, all I wanted!... Oh, my girl,
come back, come back! I need you ... need you ... we're so
pitiful ... just misery we brought each other.... She'll be shut
away from me.... I can't see her; I can't be her friend. It's got
to be that wayit's got to be"
And then again:
"We've been so happy, so very happy...."
He rose to his feet and threw himself on the bed in an ecstasy of
sentiment, and then lay exhausted while he realized slowly that
he had been very drunk the night before, and that his head was
spinning again wildly. He laughed, rose, and crossed again to
At noon he ran into a crowd in the Biltmore bar, and the riot
began again. He had a vague recollection afterward of discussing
French poetry with a British officer who was introduced to him as
"Captain Corn, of his Majesty's Foot," and he remembered
attempting to recite "Clair de Lune" at luncheon; then he slept
in a big, soft chair until almost five o'clock when another crowd
found and woke him; there followed an alcoholic dressing of
several temperaments for the ordeal of dinner. They selected
theatre tickets at Tyson's for a play that had a four-drink
programmea play with two monotonous voices, with turbid, gloomy
scenes, and lighting effects that were hard to follow when his
eyes behaved so amazingly. He imagined afterward that it must
have been "The Jest."...
...Then the Cocoanut Grove, where Amory slept again on a little
balcony outside. Out in Shanley's, Yonkers, he became almost
logical, and by a careful control of the number of high-balls he
drank, grew quite lucid and garrulous. He found that the party
consisted of five men, two of whom he knew slightly; he became
righteous about paying his share of the expense and insisted in a
loud voice on arranging everything then and there to the
amusement of the tables around him....
Some one mentioned that a famous cabaret star was at the next
table, so Amory rose and, approaching gallantly, introduced
himself ... this involved him in an argument, first with her
escort and then with the headwaiterAmory's attitude being a lofty
and exaggerated courtesy ... he consented, after being confronted
with irrefutable logic, to being led back to his own table.
"Decided to commit suicide," he announced suddenly.
"When? Next year?"
"Now. To-morrow morning. Going to take a room at the Commodore,
get into a hot bath and open a vein."
"He's getting morbid!"
"You need another rye, old boy!"
"We'll all talk it over to-morrow."
But Amory was not to be dissuaded, from argument at least.
"Did you ever get that way?" he demanded confidentially
"My chronic state."
This provoked discussion. One man said that he got so depressed
sometimes that he seriously considered it. Another agreed that
there was nothing to live for. "Captain Corn," who had somehow
rejoined the party, said that in his opinion it was when one's
health was bad that one felt that way most. Amory's suggestion
was that they should each order a Bronx, mix broken glass in it,
and drink it off. To his relief no one applauded the idea, so
having finished his high-ball, he balanced his chin in his hand
and his elbow on the tablea most delicate, scarcely noticeable
sleeping position, he assured himselfand went into a deep
He was awakened by a woman clinging to him, a pretty woman, with
brown, disarranged hair and dark blue eyes.
"Take me home!" she cried.
"Hello!" said Amory, blinking.
"I like you," she announced tenderly.
"I like you too."
He noticed that there was a noisy man in the background and that
one of his party was arguing with him.
"Fella I was with's a damn fool," confided the blue-eyed woman.
"I hate him. I want to go home with you."
"You drunk?" queried Amory with intense wisdom.
She nodded coyly.
"Go home with him," he advised gravely. "He brought you."
At this point the noisy man in the background broke away from his
detainers and approached.
"Say!" he said fiercely. "I brought this girl out here and you're
Amory regarded him coldly, while the girl clung to him closer.
"You let go that girl!" cried the noisy man.
Amory tried to make his eyes threatening.
"You go to hell!" he directed finally, and turned his attention
to the girl.
"Love first sight," he suggested.
"I love you," she breathed and nestled close to him. She did have
"That's just Margaret Diamond. She's drunk and this fellow here
brought her. Better let her go."
"Let him take care of her, then!" shouted Amory furiously. "I'm
no W. Y. C. A. worker, am I?am I?"
"Let her go!"
"It's her hanging on, damn it! Let her hang!"
The crowd around the table thickened. For an instant a brawl
threatened, but a sleek waiter bent back Margaret Diamond's
fingers until she released her hold on Amory, whereupon she
slapped the waiter furiously in the face and flung her arms about
her raging original escort.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Amory.
"Come on, the taxis are getting scarce!"
"C'mon, Amory. Your romance is over."
"You don't know how true you spoke. No idea. 'At's the whole
AMORY ON THE LABOR QUESTION
Two mornings later he knocked at the president's door at Bascome
and Barlow's advertising agency.
Amory entered unsteadily.
"'Morning, Mr. Barlow."
Mr. Barlow brought his glasses to the inspection and set his
mouth slightly ajar that he might better listen.
"Well, Mr. Blaine. We haven't seen you for several days."
"No," said Amory. "I'm quitting."
"I don't like it here."
"I'm sorry. I thought our relations had been quiteahpleasant. You
seemed to be a hard workera little inclined perhaps to write
"I just got tired of it," interrupted Amory rudely. "It didn't
matter a damn to me whether Harebell's flour was any better than
any one else's. In fact, I never ate any of it. So I got tired of
telling people about itoh, I know I've been drinking"
Mr. Barlow's face steeled by several ingots of expression.
"You asked for a position"
Amory waved him to silence.
"And I think I was rottenly underpaid. Thirty-five dollars a
weekless than a good carpenter."
"You had just started. You'd never worked before," said Mr.
"But it took about ten thousand dollars to educate me where I
could write your darned stuff for you. Anyway, as far as length
of service goes, you've got stenographers here you've paid
fifteen a week for five years."
"I'm not going to argue with you, sir," said Mr. Barlow rising.
"Neither am I. I just wanted to tell you I'm quitting."
They stood for a moment looking at each other impassively and
then Amory turned and left the office.
A LITTLE LULL
Four days after that he returned at last to the apartment. Tom
was engaged on a book review for The New Democracy on the staff
of which he was employed. They regarded each other for a moment
"Good Lord, Amory, where'd you get the black eyeand the jaw?"
"That's a mere nothing."
He peeled off his coat and bared his shoulders.
Tom emitted a low whistle.
"What hit you?"
Amory laughed again.
"Oh, a lot of people. I got beaten up. Fact." He slowly replaced
his shirt. "It was bound to come sooner or later and I wouldn't
have missed it for anything."
"Who was it?"
"Well, there were some waiters and a couple of sailors and a few
stray pedestrians, I guess. It's the strangest feeling. You ought
to get beaten up just for the experience of it. You fall down
after a while and everybody sort of slashes in at you before you
hit the groundthen they kick you."
Tom lighted a cigarette.
"I spent a day chasing you all over town, Amory. But you always
kept a little ahead of me. I'd say you've been on some party."
Amory tumbled into a chair and asked for a cigarette.
"You sober now?" asked Tom quizzically.
"Pretty sober. Why?"
"Well, Alec has left. His family had been after him to go home
and live, so he"
A spasm of pain shook Amory.
"Yes, it is too bad. We'll have to get some one else if we're
going to stay here. The rent's going up."
"Sure. Get anybody. I'll leave it to you, Tom."
Amory walked into his bedroom. The first thing that met his
glance was a photograph of Rosalind that he had intended to have
framed, propped up against a mirror on his dresser. He looked at
it unmoved. After the vivid mental pictures of her that were his
portion at present, the portrait was curiously unreal. He went
back into the study.
"Got a cardboard box?"
"No," answered Tom, puzzled. "Why should I have? Oh, yesthere may
be one in Alec's room."
Eventually Amory found what he was looking for and, returning to
his dresser, opened a drawer full of letters, notes, part of a
chain, two little handkerchiefs, and some snap-shots. As he
transferred them carefully to the box his mind wandered to some
place in a book where the hero, after preserving for a year a
cake of his lost love's soap, finally washed his hands with it.
He laughed and began to hum "After you've gone" ... ceased
The string broke twice, and then he managed to secure it, dropped
the package into the bottom of his trunk, and having slammed the
lid returned to the study.
"Going out?" Tom's voice held an undertone of anxiety.
"Couldn't say, old keed."
"Let's have dinner together."
"Sorry. I told Sukey Brett I'd eat with him."
Amory crossed the street and had a high-ball; then he walked to
Washington Square and found a top seat on a bus. He disembarked
at Forty-third Street and strolled to the Biltmore bar.
"What'll you have?"
The advent of prohibition with the "thirsty-first" put a sudden
stop to the submerging of Amory's sorrows, and when he awoke one
morning to find that the old bar-to-bar days were over, he had
neither remorse for the past three weeks nor regret that their
repetition was impossible. He had taken the most violent, if the
weakest, method to shield himself from the stabs of memory, and
while it was not a course he would have prescribed for others, he
found in the end that it had done its business: he was over the
first flush of pain.
Don't misunderstand! Amory had loved Rosalind as he would never
love another living person. She had taken the first flush of his
youth and brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had
surprised him, gentleness and unselfishness that he had never
given to another creature. He had later love-affairs, but of a
different sort: in those he went back to that, perhaps, more
typical frame of mind, in which the girl became the mirror of a
mood in him. Rosalind had drawn out what was more than passionate
admiration; he had a deep, undying affection for Rosalind.
But there had been, near the end, so much dramatic tragedy,
culminating in the arabesque nightmare of his three weeks' spree,
that he was emotionally worn out. The people and surroundings
that he remembered as being cool or delicately artificial, seemed
to promise him a refuge. He wrote a cynical story which featured
his father's funeral and despatched it to a magazine, receiving
in return a check for sixty dollars and a request for more of the
same tone. This tickled his vanity, but inspired him to no
He read enormously. He was puzzled and depressed by "A Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Man"; intensely interested by "Joan and
Peter" and "The Undying Fire," and rather surprised by his
discovery through a critic named Mencken of several excellent
American novels: "Vandover and the Brute," "The Damnation of
Theron Ware," and "Jennie Gerhardt." Mackenzie, Chesterton,
Galsworthy, Bennett, had sunk in his appreciation from sagacious,
life-saturated geniuses to merely diverting contemporaries.
Shaw's aloof clarity and brilliant consistency and the gloriously
intoxicated efforts of H. G. Wells to fit the key of romantic
symmetry into the elusive lock of truth, alone won his rapt
He wanted to see Monsignor Darcy, to whom he had written when he
landed, but he had not heard from him; besides he knew that a
visit to Monsignor would entail the story of Rosalind, and the
thought of repeating it turned him cold with horror.
In his search for cool people he remembered Mrs. Lawrence, a very
intelligent, very dignified lady, a convert to the church, and a
great devotee of Monsignor's.
He called her on the 'phone one day. Yes, she remembered him
perfectly; no, Monsignor wasn't in town, was in Boston she
thought; he'd promised to come to dinner when he returned.
Couldn't Amory take luncheon with her?
"I thought I'd better catch up, Mrs. Lawrence," he said rather
ambiguously when he arrived.
"Monsignor was here just last week," said Mrs. Lawrence
regretfully. "He was very anxious to see you, but he'd left your
address at home."
"Did he think I'd plunged into Bolshevism?" asked Amory,
"Oh, he's having a frightful time."
"About the Irish Republic. He thinks it lacks dignity."
"He went to Boston when the Irish President arrived and he was
greatly distressed because the receiving committee, when they
rode in an automobile, would put their arms around the
"I don't blame him."
"Well, what impressed you more than anything while you were in
the army? You look a great deal older."
"That's from another, more disastrous battle," he answered,
smiling in spite of himself. "But the armylet me seewell, I
discovered that physical courage depends to a great extent on the
physical shape a man is in. I found that I was as brave as the
next manit used to worry me before."
"Well, the idea that men can stand anything if they get used to
it, and the fact that I got a high mark in the psychological
Mrs. Lawrence laughed. Amory was finding it a great relief to be
in this cool house on Riverside Drive, away from more condensed
New York and the sense of people expelling great quantities of
breath into a little space. Mrs. Lawrence reminded him vaguely of
Beatrice, not in temperament, but in her perfect grace and
dignity. The house, its furnishings, the manner in which dinner
was served, were in immense contrast to what he had met in the
great places on Long Island, where the servants were so obtrusive
that they had positively to be bumped out of the way, or even in
the houses of more conservative "Union Club" families. He
wondered if this air of symmetrical restraint, this grace, which
he felt was continental, was distilled through Mrs. Lawrence's
New England ancestry or acquired in long residence in Italy and
Two glasses of sauterne at luncheon loosened his tongue, and he
talked, with what he felt was something of his old charm, of
religion and literature and the menacing phenomena of the social
order. Mrs. Lawrence was ostensibly pleased with him, and her
interest was especially in his mind; he wanted people to like his
mind againafter a while it might be such a nice place in which to
"Monsignor Darcy still thinks that you're his reincarnation, that
your faith will eventually clarify."
"Perhaps," he assented. "I'm rather pagan at present. It's just
that religion doesn't seem to have the slightest bearing on life
at my age."
When he left her house he walked down Riverside Drive with a
feeling of satisfaction. It was amusing to discuss again such
subjects as this young poet, Stephen Vincent Benit, or the Irish
Republic. Between the rancid accusations of Edward Carson and
Justice Cohalan he had completely tired of the Irish question;
yet there had been a time when his own Celtic traits were pillars
of his personal philosophy.
There seemed suddenly to be much left in life, if only this
revival of old interests did not mean that he was backing away
from it againbacking away from life itself.
"I'm tres old and tres bored, Tom," said Amory one day,
stretching himself at ease in the comfortable window-seat. He
always felt most natural in a recumbent position.
"You used to be entertaining before you started to write," he
continued. "Now you save any idea that you think would do to
Existence had settled back to an ambitionless normality. They had
decided that with economy they could still afford the apartment,
which Tom, with the domesticity of an elderly cat, had grown fond
of. The old English hunting prints on the wall were Tom's, and
the large tapestry by courtesy, a relic of decadent days in
college, and the great profusion of orphaned candlesticks and the
carved Louis XV chair in which no one could sit more than a
minute without acute spinal disordersTom claimed that this was
because one was sitting in the lap of Montespan's wraithat any
rate, it was Tom's furniture that decided them to stay.
They went out very little: to an occasional play, or to dinner at
the Ritz or the Princeton Club. With prohibition the great
rendezvous had received their death wounds; no longer could one
wander to the Biltmore bar at twelve or five and find congenial
spirits, and both Tom and Amory had outgrown the passion for
dancing with mid-Western or New Jersey debbies at the
Club-de-Vingt (surnamed the "Club de Gink") or the Plaza Rose
Roombesides even that required several cocktails "to come down to
the intellectual level of the women present," as Amory had once
put it to a horrified matron.
Amory had lately received several alarming letters from Mr.
Bartonthe Lake Geneva house was too large to be easily rented;
the best rent obtainable at present would serve this year to
little more than pay for the taxes and necessary improvements; in
fact, the lawyer suggested that the whole property was simply a
white elephant on Amory's hands. Nevertheless, even though it
might not yield a cent for the next three years, Amory decided
with a vague sentimentality that for the present, at any rate, he
would not sell the house.
This particular day on which he announced his ennui to Tom had
been quite typical. He had risen at noon, lunched with Mrs.
Lawrence, and then ridden abstractedly homeward atop one of his
"Why shouldn't you be bored," yawned Tom. "Isn't that the
conventional frame of mind for the young man of your age and
"Yes," said Amory speculatively, "but I'm more than bored; I am
"Love and war did for you."
"Well," Amory considered, "I'm not sure that the war itself had
any great effect on either you or mebut it certainly ruined the
old backgrounds, sort of killed individualism out of our
Tom looked up in surprise.
"Yes it did," insisted Amory. "I'm not sure it didn't kill it out
of the whole world. Oh, Lord, what a pleasure it used to be to
dream I might be a really great dictator or writer or religious
or political leaderand now even a Leonardo da Vinci or Lorenzo de
Medici couldn't be a real old-fashioned bolt in the world. Life
is too huge and complex. The world is so overgrown that it can't
lift its own fingers, and I was planning to be such an important
"I don't agree with you," Tom interrupted. "There never were men
placed in such egotistic positions sinceoh, since the French
Amory disagreed violently.
"You're mistaking this period when every nut is an individualist
for a period of individualism. Wilson has only been powerful when
he has represented; he's had to compromise over and over again.
Just as soon as Trotsky and Lenin take a definite, consistent
stand they'll become merely two-minute figures like Kerensky.
Even Foch hasn't half the significance of Stonewall Jackson. War
used to be the most individualistic pursuit of man, and yet the
popular heroes of the war had neither authority nor
responsibility: Guynemer and Sergeant York. How could a schoolboy
make a hero of Pershing? A big man has no time really to do
anything but just sit and be big."
"Then you don't think there will be any more permanent world
"Yesin historynot in life. Carlyle would have difficulty getting
material for a new chapter on 'The Hero as a Big Man.'"
"Go on. I'm a good listener to-day."
"People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard.
But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier
or writer or philosophera Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a
Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My
Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It's the surest
path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over
"Then you blame it on the press?"
"Absolutely. Look at you; you're on The New Democracy, considered
the most brilliant weekly in the country, read by the men who do
things and all that. What's your business? Why, to be as clever,
as interesting, and as brilliantly cynical as possible about
every man, doctrine, book, or policy that is assigned you to deal
with. The more strong lights, the more spiritual scandal you can
throw on the matter, the more money they pay you, the more the
people buy the issue. You, Tom d'Invilliers, a blighted Shelley,
changing, shifting, clever, unscrupulous, represent the critical
consciousness of the raceOh, don't protest, I know the stuff. I
used to write book reviews in college; I considered it rare sport
to refer to the latest honest, conscientious effort to propound a
theory or a remedy as a 'welcome addition to our light summer
reading.' Come on now, admit it."
Tom laughed, and Amory continued triumphantly.
"We want to believe. Young students try to believe in older
authors, constituents try to believe in their Congressmen,
countries try to believe in their statesmen, but they can't. Too
many voices, too much scattered, illogical, ill-considered
criticism. It's worse in the case of newspapers. Any rich,
unprogressive old party with that particularly grasping,
acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can own a
paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of
tired, hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern
living to swallow anything but predigested food. For two cents
the voter buys his politics, prejudices, and philosophy. A year
later there is a new political ring or a change in the paper's
ownership, consequence: more confusion, more contradiction, a
sudden inrush of new ideas, their tempering, their distillation,
the reaction against them"
He paused only to get his breath.
"And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my
ideas either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins
on my soul without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into
people's heads; I might cause a poor, inoffensive capitalist to
have a vulgar liaison with a bomb, or get some innocent little
Bolshevik tangled up with a machine-gun bullet"
Tom was growing restless under this lampooning of his connection
"What's all this got to do with your being bored?"
Amory considered that it had much to do with it.
"How'll I fit in?" he demanded. "What am I for? To propagate the
race? According to the American novels we are led to believe that
the 'healthy American boy' from nineteen to twenty-five is an
entirely sexless animal. As a matter of fact, the healthier he is
the less that's true. The only alternative to letting it get you
is some violent interest. Well, the war is over; I believe too
much in the responsibilities of authorship to write just now; and
business, well, business speaks for itself. It has no connection
with anything in the world that I've ever been interested in,
except a slim, utilitarian connection with economics. What I'd
see of it, lost in a clerkship, for the next and best ten years
of my life would have the intellectual content of an industrial
"Try fiction," suggested Tom.
"Trouble is I get distracted when I start to write storiesget
afraid I'm doing it instead of livingget thinking maybe life is
waiting for me in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or at Atlantic
City or on the lower East Side.
"Anyway," he continued, "I haven't the vital urge. I wanted to be
a regular human being but the girl couldn't see it that way."
"You'll find another."
"God! Banish the thought. Why don't you tell me that 'if the girl
had been worth having she'd have waited for you'? No, sir, the
girl really worth having won't wait for anybody. If I thought
there'd be another I'd lose my remaining faith in human nature.
Maybe I'll playbut Rosalind was the only girl in the wide world
that could have held me."
"Well," yawned Tom, "I've played confidant a good hour by the
clock. Still, I'm glad to see you're beginning to have violent
views again on something."
"I am," agreed Amory reluctantly. "Yet when I see a happy family
it makes me sick at my stomach"
"Happy families try to make people feel that way," said Tom
TOM THE CENSOR
There were days when Amory listened. These were when Tom,
wreathed in smoke, indulged in the slaughter of American
literature. Words failed him.
"Fifty thousand dollars a year," he would cry. "My God! Look at
them, look at themEdna Ferber, Gouverneur Morris, Fanny Hurst,
Mary Roberts Rinehartnot producing among 'em one story or novel
that will last ten years. This man CobbI don't tink he's either
clever or amusingand what's more, I don't think very many people
do, except the editors. He's just groggy with advertising. Andoh
Harold Bell Wright oh Zane Grey"
"No, they don't even try. Some of them can write, but they won't
sit down and do one honest novel. Most of them can't write, I'll
admit. I believe Rupert Hughes tries to give a real,
comprehensive picture of American life, but his style and
perspective are barbarous. Ernest Poole and Dorothy Canfield try
but they're hindered by their absolute lack of any sense of
humor; but at least they crowd their work instead of spreading it
thin. Every author ought to write every book as if he were going
to be beheaded the day he finished it."
"Is that double entente?"
"Don't slow me up! Now there's a few of 'em that seem to have
some cultural background, some intelligence and a good deal of
literary felicity but they just simply won't write honestly;
they'd all claim there was no public for good stuff. Then why the
devil is it that Wells, Conrad, Galsworthy, Shaw, Bennett, and
the rest depend on America for over half their sales?"
"How does little Tommy like the poets?"
Tom was overcome. He dropped his arms until they swung loosely
beside the chair and emitted faint grunts.
"I'm writing a satire on 'em now, calling it 'Boston Bards and
"Let's hear it," said Amory eagerly.
"I've only got the last few lines done."
"That's very modern. Let's hear 'em, if they're funny."
Tom produced a folded paper from his pocket and read aloud,
pausing at intervals so that Amory could see that it was free
I place your names here
So that you may live
If only as names,
Sinuous, mauve-colored names,
In the Juvenalia
Of my collected editions."
"You win the iron pansy. I'll buy you a meal on the arrogance of
the last two lines."
Amory did not entirely agree with Tom's sweeping damnation of
American novelists and poets. He enjoyed both Vachel Lindsay and
Booth Tarkington, and admired the conscientious, if slender,
artistry of Edgar Lee Masters.
"What I hate is this idiotic drivel about 'I am GodI am manI ride
the windsI look through the smokeI am the life sense.'"
"And I wish American novelists would give up trying to make
business romantically interesting. Nobody wants to read about it,
unless it's crooked business. If it was an entertaining subject
they'd buy the life of James J. Hill and not one of these long
office tragedies that harp along on the significance of smoke"
"And gloom," said Tom. That's another favorite, though I'll admit
the Russians have the monopoly. Our specialty is stories about
little girls who break their spines and get adopted by grouchy
old men because they smile so much. You'd think we were a race of
cheerful cripples and that the common end of the Russian peasant
"Six o'clock," said Amory, glancing at his wrist-watch. "I'll buy
you a grea' big dinner on the strength of the Juvenalia of your
July sweltered out with a last hot week, and Amory in another
surge of unrest realized that it was just five months since he
and Rosalind had met. Yet it was already hard for him to
visualize the heart-whole boy who had stepped off the transport,
passionately desiring the adventure of life. One night while the
heat, overpowering and enervating, poured into the windows of his
room he struggled for several hours in a vague effort to
immortalize the poignancy of that time.
The February streets, wind-washed by night, blow full of strange
half-intermittent damps, bearing on wasted walks in shining sight
wet snow plashed into gleams under the lamps, like golden oil
from some divine machine, in an hour of thaw and stars.
Strange dampsfull of the eyes of many men, crowded with life
borne in upon a lull.... Oh, I was young, for I could turn again
to you, most finite and most beautiful, and taste the stuff of
half-remembered dreams, sweet and new on your mouth.
...There was a tanging in the midnight airsilence was dead and
sound not yet awokenLife cracked like ice!one brilliant note and
there, radiant and pale, you stood ... and spring had broken.
(The icicles were short upon the roofs and the changeling city
Our thoughts were frosty mist along the eaves; our two ghosts
kissed, high on the long, mazed wireseerie half-laughter echoes
here and leaves only a fatuous sigh for young desires; regret has
followed after things she loved, leaving the great husk.
In mid-August came a letter from Monsignor Darcy, who had
evidently just stumbled on his address:
MY DEAR BOY:
Your last letter was quite enough to make me worry about you. It
was not a bit like yourself. Reading between the lines I should
imagine that your engagement to this girl is making you rather
unhappy, and I see you have lost all the feeling of romance that
you had before the war. You make a great mistake if you think you
can be romantic without religion. Sometimes I think that with
both of us the secret of success, when we find it, is the
mystical element in us: something flows into us that enlarges our
personalities, and when it ebbs out our personalities shrink; I
should call your last two letters rather shrivelled. Beware of
losing yourself in the personality of another being, man or
His Eminence Cardinal O'Neill and the Bishop of Boston are
staying with me at present, so it is hard for me to get a moment
to write, but I wish you would come up here later if only for a
week-end. I go to Washington this week.
What I shall do in the future is hanging in the balance.
Absolutely between ourselves I should not be surprised to see the
red hat of a cardinal descend upon my unworthy head within the
next eight months. In any event, I should like to have a house in
New York or Washington where you could drop in for week-ends.
Amory, I'm very glad we're both alive; this war could easily have
been the end of a brilliant family. But in regard to matrimony,
you are now at the most dangerous period of your life. You might
marry in haste and repent at leisure, but I think you won't. From
what you write me about the present calamitous state of your
finances, what you want is naturally impossible. However, if I
judge you by the means I usually choose, I should say that there
will be something of an emotional crisis within the next year.
Do write me. I feel annoyingly out of date on you.
With greatest affection,
Within a week after the receipt of this letter their little
household fell precipitously to pieces. The immediate cause was
the serious and probably chronic illness of Tom's mother. So they
stored the furniture, gave instructions to sublet and shook hands
gloomily in the Pennsylvania Station. Amory and Tom seemed always
to be saying good-by.
Feeling very much alone, Amory yielded to an impulse and set off
southward, intending to join Monsignor in Washington. They missed
connections by two hours, and, deciding to spend a few days with
an ancient, remembered uncle, Amory journeyed up through the
luxuriant fields of Maryland into Ramilly County. But instead of
two days his stay lasted from mid-August nearly through
September, for in Maryland he met Eleanor.
The Education of a Personage
to hear the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills
into the places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the
slope and watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost
a further part of him that nothing could restore; and when he
lost it he lost also the power of regretting it. Eleanor was,
say, the last time that evil crept close to Amory under the mask
of beauty, the last weird mystery that held him with wild
fascination and pounded his soul to flakes.
With her his imagination ran riot and that is why they rode to
the highest hill and watched an evil moon ride high, for they
knew then that they could see the devil in each other. But
Eleanordid Amory dream her? Afterward their ghosts played, yet
both of them hoped from their souls never to meet. Was it the
infinite sadness of her eyes that drew him or the mirror of
himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of her mind? She
will have no other adventure like Amory, and if she reads this
she will say:
"And Amory will have no other adventure like me."
Nor will she sigh, any more than he would sigh.
Eleanor tried to put it on paper once:
"The fading things we only know
We'll have forgotten...
Desires that melted with the snow,
And dreams begotten
The sudden dawns we laughed to greet,
That all could see, that none could share,
Will be but dawns ... and if we meet
We shall not care.
Dear ... not one tear will rise for this...
A little while hence
Will stir for a remembered kiss
Not even silence,
When we've met,
Will give old ghosts a waste to roam,
Or stir the surface of the sea...
If gray shapes drift beneath the foam
We shall not see."
They quarrelled dangerously because Amory maintained that sea and
see couldn't possibly be used as a rhyme. And then Eleanor had
part of another verse that she couldn't find a beginning for:
"...But wisdom passes ... still the years
Will feed us wisdom.... Age will go
Back to the old For all our tears
We shall not know."
Eleanor hated Maryland passionately. She belonged to the oldest
of the old families of Ramilly County and lived in a big, gloomy
house with her grandfather. She had been born and brought up in
France.... I see I am starting wrong. Let me begin again.
Amory was bored, as he usually was in the country. He used to go
for far walks by himselfand wander along reciting "Ulalume" to
the corn-fields, and congratulating Poe for drinking himself to
death in that atmosphere of smiling complacency. One afternoon he
had strolled for several miles along a road that was new to him,
and then through a wood on bad advice from a colored woman ...
losing himself entirely. A passing storm decided to break out,
and to his great impatience the sky grew black as pitch and the
rain began to splatter down through the trees, become suddenly
furtive and ghostly. Thunder rolled with menacing crashes up the
valley and scattered through the woods in intermittent batteries.
He stumbled blindly on, hunting for a way out, and finally,
through webs of twisted branches, caught sight of a rift in the
trees where the unbroken lightning showed open country. He rushed
to the edge of the woods and then hesitated whether or not to
cross the fields and try to reach the shelter of the little house
marked by a light far down the valley. It was only half past
five, but he could see scarcely ten steps before him, except when
the lightning made everything vivid and grotesque for great
Suddenly a strange sound fell on his ears. It was a song, in a
low, husky voice, a girl's voice, and whoever was singing was
very close to him. A year before he might have laughed, or
trembled; but in his restless mood he only stood and listened
while the words sank into his consciousness:
"Les sanglots longs
Blessent mon coeur
The lightning split the sky, but the song went on without a
quaver. The girl was evidently in the field and the voice seemed
to come vaguely from a haystack about twenty feet in front of
Then it ceased: ceased and began again in a weird chant that
soared and hung and fell and blended with the rain:
Et bljme quand
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure...."
"Who the devil is there in Ramilly County," muttered Amory aloud,
"who would deliver Verlaine in an extemporaneous tune to a
"Somebody's there!" cried the voice unalarmed. "Who are
you?Manfred, St. Christopher, or Queen Victoria?"
"I'm Don Juan!" Amory shouted on impulse, raising his voice above
the noise of the rain and the wind.
A delighted shriek came from the haystack.
"I know who you areyou're the blond boy that likes 'Ulalume'I
recognize your voice."
"How do I get up?" he cried from the foot of the haystack,
whither he had arrived, dripping wet. A head appeared over the
edgeit was so dark that Amory could just make out a patch of damp
hair and two eyes that gleamed like a cat's.
"Run back!" came the voice, "and jump and I'll catch your handno,
not thereon the other side."
He followed directions and as he sprawled up the side, knee-deep
in hay, a small, white hand reached out, gripped his, and helped
him onto the top.
"Here you are, Juan," cried she of the damp hair. "Do you mind if
I drop the Don?"
"You've got a thumb like mine!" he exclaimed.
"And you're holding my hand, which is dangerous without seeing my
face." He dropped it quickly.
As if in answer to his prayers came a flash of lightning and he
looked eagerly at her who stood beside him on the soggy haystack,
ten feet above the ground. But she had covered her face and he
saw nothing but a slender figure, dark, damp, bobbed hair, and
the small white hands with the thumbs that bent back like his.
"Sit down," she suggested politely, as the dark closed in on
them. "If you'll sit opposite me in this hollow you can have half
of the raincoat, which I was using as a water-proof tent until
you so rudely interrupted me."
"I was asked," Amory said joyfully; "you asked meyou know you
"Don Juan always manages that," she said, laughing, "but I shan't
call you that any more, because you've got reddish hair. Instead
you can recite 'Ulalume' and I'll be Psyche, your soul."
Amory flushed, happily invisible under the curtain of wind and
rain. They were sitting opposite each other in a slight hollow in
the hay with the raincoat spread over most of them, and the rain
doing for the rest. Amory was trying desperately to see Psyche,
but the lightning refused to flash again, and he waited
impatiently. Good Lord! supposing she wasn't beautifulsupposing
she was forty and pedanticheavens! Suppose, only suppose, she was
mad. But he knew the last was unworthy. Here had Providence sent
a girl to amuse him just as it sent Benvenuto Cellini men to
murder, and he was wondering if she was mad, just because she
exactly filled his mood.
"I'm not," she said.
"Not mad. I didn't think you were mad when I first saw you, so it
isn't fair that you should think so of me."
"How on earth"
As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be "on a
subject" and stop talking with the definite thought of it in
their heads, yet ten minutes later speak aloud and find that
their minds had followed the same channels and led them each to a
parallel idea, an idea that others would have found absolutely
unconnected with the first.
"Tell me," he demanded, leaning forward eagerly, "how do you know
about 'Ulalume'how did you know the color of my hair? What's your
name? What were you doing here? Tell me all at once!"
Suddenly the lightning flashed in with a leap of overreaching
light and he saw Eleanor, and looked for the first time into
those eyes of hers. Oh, she was magnificentpale skin, the color
of marble in starlight, slender brows, and eyes that glittered
green as emeralds in the blinding glare. She was a witch, of
perhaps nineteen, he judged, alert and dreamy and with the
tell-tale white line over her upper lip that was a weakness and a
delight. He sank back with a gasp against the wall of hay.
"Now you've seen me," she said calmly, "and I suppose you're
about to say that my green eyes are burning into your brain."
"What color is your hair?" he asked intently. "It's bobbed, isn't
"Yes, it's bobbed. I don't know what color it is," she answered,
musing, "so many men have asked me. It's medium, I suppose No one
ever looks long at my hair. I've got beautiful eyes, though,
haven't I. I don't care what you say, I have beautiful eyes."
"Answer my question, Madeline."
"Don't remember them allbesides my name isn't Madeline, it's
"I might have guessed it. You look like Eleanoryou have that
Eleanor look. You know what I mean."
There was a silence as they listened to the rain.
"It's going down my neck, fellow lunatic," she offered finally.
"Answer my questions."
"Wellname of Savage, Eleanor; live in big old house mile down
road; nearest living relation to be notified, grandfatherRamilly
Savage; height, five feet four inches; number on watch-case, 3077
W; nose, delicate aquiline; temperament, uncanny"
"And me," Amory interrupted, "where did you see me?"
"Oh, you're one of those men," she answered haughtily, "must lug
old self into conversation. Well, my boy, I was behind a hedge
sunning myself one day last week, and along comes a man saying in
a pleasant, conceited way of talking:
"'And now when the night was senescent' (says he) 'And the star
dials pointed to morn
At the end of the path a liquescent' (says he) 'And nebulous
lustre was born.'
So I poked my eyes up over the hedge, but you had started to run,
for some unknown reason, and so I saw but the back of your
beautiful head. 'Oh!' says I, 'there's a man for whom many of us
might sigh,' and I continued in my best Irish"
"All right," Amory interrupted. "Now go back to yourself."
"Well, I will. I'm one of those people who go through the world
giving other people thrills, but getting few myself except those
I read into men on such nights as these. I have the social
courage to go on the stage, but not the energy; I haven't the
patience to write books; and I never met a man I'd marry.
However, I'm only eighteen."
The storm was dying down softly and only the wind kept up its
ghostly surge and made the stack lean and gravely settle from
side to side. Amory was in a trance. He felt that every moment
was precious. He had never met a girl like this beforeshe would
never seem quite the same again. He didn't at all feel like a
character in a play, the appropriate feeling in an unconventional
situationinstead, he had a sense of coming home.
"I have just made a great decision," said Eleanor after another
pause, "and that is why I'm here, to answer another of your
questions. I have just decided that I don't believe in
"Really! how banal!"
"Frightfully so," she answered, "but depressing with a stale,
sickly depression, nevertheless. I came out here to get wetlike a
wet hen; wet hens always have great clarity of mind," she
"Go on," Amory said politely.
"WellI'm not afraid of the dark, so I put on my slicker and
rubber boots and came out. You see I was always afraid, before,
to say I didn't believe in Godbecause the lightning might strike
mebut here I am and it hasn't, of course, but the main point is
that this time I wasn't any more afraid of it than I had been
when I was a Christian Scientist, like I was last year. So now I
know I'm a materialist and I was fraternizing with the hay when
you came out and stood by the woods, scared to death."
"Why, you little wretch" cried Amory indignantly. "Scared of
"Yourself!" she shouted, and he jumped. She clapped her hands and
laughed. "Seesee! Consciencekill it like me! Eleanor Savage,
materiologistno jumping, no starting, come early"
"But I have to have a soul," he objected. "I can't be rationaland
I won't be molecular."
She leaned toward him, her burning eyes never leaving his own and
whispered with a sort of romantic finality:
"I thought so, Juan, I feared soyou're sentimental. You're not
like me. I'm a romantic little materialist."
"I'm not sentimentalI'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you
know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will lastthe
romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't."
(This was an ancient distinction of Amory's.)
"Epigrams. I'm going home," she said sadly. "Let's get off the
haystack and walk to the cross-roads."
They slowly descended from their perch. She would not let him
help her down and motioning him away arrived in a graceful lump
in the soft mud where she sat for an instant, laughing at
herself. Then she jumped to her feet and slipped her hand into
his, and they tiptoed across the fields, jumping and swinging
from dry spot to dry spot. A transcendent delight seemed to
sparkle in every pool of water, for the moon had risen and the
storm had scurried away into western Maryland. When Eleanor's arm
touched his he felt his hands grow cold with deadly fear lest he
should lose the shadow brush with which his imagination was
painting wonders of her. He watched her from the corners of his
eyes as ever he did when he walked with hershe was a feast and a
folly and he wished it had been his destiny to sit forever on a
haystack and see life through her green eyes. His paganism soared
that night and when she faded out like a gray ghost down the
road, a deep singing came out of the fields and filled his way
homeward. All night the summer moths flitted in and out of
Amory's window; all night large looming sounds swayed in mystic
revery through the silver grainand he lay awake in the clear
Amory selected a blade of grass and nibbled at it scientifically.
"I never fall in love in August or September," he proffered.
"Christmas or Easter. I'm a liturgist."
"Easter!" She turned up her nose. "Huh! Spring in corsets!"
"Easter would bore spring, wouldn't she? Easter has her hair
braided, wears a tailored suit."
"Bind on thy sandals, oh, thou most fleet.
Over the splendor and speed of thy feet"
quoted Eleanor softly, and then added: "I suppose Hallowe'en is a
better day for autumn than Thanksgiving."
"Much betterand Christmas eve does very well for winter, but
"Summer has no day," she said. "We can't possibly have a summer
love. So many people have tried that the name's become
proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a
charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April.
It's a sad season of life without growth.... It has no day."
"Fourth of July," Amory suggested facetiously.
"Don't be funny!" she said, raking him with her eyes.
"Well, what could fulfil the promise of spring?"
She thought a moment.
"Oh, I suppose heaven would, if there was one," she said finally,
"a sort of pagan heavenyou ought to be a materialist," she
"Because you look a good deal like the pictures of Rupert
To some extent Amory tried to play Rupert Brooke as long as he
knew Eleanor. What he said, his attitude toward life, toward her,
toward himself, were all reflexes of the dead Englishman's
literary moods. Often she sat in the grass, a lazy wind playing
with her short hair, her voice husky as she ran up and down the
scale from Grantchester to Waikiki. There was something most
passionate in Eleanor's reading aloud. They seemed nearer, not
only mentally, but physically, when they read, than when she was
in his arms, and this was often, for they fell half into love
almost from the first. Yet was Amory capable of love now? He
could, as always, run through the emotions in a half hour, but
even while they revelled in their imaginations, he knew that
neither of them could care as he had cared once beforeI suppose
that was why they turned to Brooke, and Swinburne, and Shelley.
Their chance was to make everything fine and finished and rich
and imaginative; they must bend tiny golden tentacles from his
imagination to hers, that would take the place of the great, deep
love that was never so near, yet never so much of a dream.
One poem they read over and over; Swinburne's "Triumph of Time,"
and four lines of it rang in his memory afterward on warm nights
when he saw the fireflies among dusky tree trunks and heard the
low drone of many frogs. Then Eleanor seemed to come out of the
night and stand by him, and he heard her throaty voice, with its
tone of a fleecy-headed drum, repeating:
"Is it worth a tear, is it worth an hour,
To think of things that are well outworn;
Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
The dream foregone and the deed foreborne?"
They were formally introduced two days later, and his aunt told
him her history. The Ramillys were two: old Mr. Ramilly and his
granddaughter, Eleanor. She had lived in France with a restless
mother whom Amory imagined to have been very like his own, on
whose death she had come to America, to live in Maryland. She had
gone to Baltimore first to stay with a bachelor uncle, and there
she insisted on being a dibutante at the age of seventeen. She
had a wild winter and arrived in the country in March, having
quarrelled frantically with all her Baltimore relatives, and
shocked them into fiery protest. A rather fast crowd had come
out, who drank cocktails in limousines and were promiscuously
condescending and patronizing toward older people, and Eleanor
with an esprit that hinted strongly of the boulevards, led many
innocents still redolent of St. Timothy's and Farmington, into
paths of Bohemian naughtiness. When the story came to her uncle,
a forgetful cavalier of a more hypocritical era, there was a
scene, from which Eleanor emerged, subdued but rebellious and
indignant, to seek haven with her grandfather who hovered in the
country on the near side of senility. That's as far as her story
went; she told him the rest herself, but that was later.
Often they swam and as Amory floated lazily in the water he shut
his mind to all thoughts except those of hazy soap-bubble lands
where the sun splattered through wind-drunk trees. How could any
one possibly think or worry, or do anything except splash and
dive and loll there on the edge of time while the flower months
failed. Let the days move oversadness and memory and pain
recurred outside, and here, once more, before he went on to meet
them he wanted to drift and be young.
There were days when Amory resented that life had changed from an
even progress along a road stretching ever in sight, with the
scenery merging and blending, into a succession of quick,
unrelated scenestwo years of sweat and blood, that sudden absurd
instinct for paternity that Rosalind had stirred; the
half-sensual, half-neurotic quality of this autumn with Eleanor.
He felt that it would take all time, more than he could ever
spare, to glue these strange cumbersome pictures into the
scrap-book of his life. It was all like a banquet where he sat
for this half-hour of his youth and tried to enjoy brilliant
Dimly he promised himself a time where all should be welded
together. For months it seemed that he had alternated between
being borne along a stream of love or fascination, or left in an
eddy, and in the eddies he had not desired to think, rather to be
picked up on a wave's top and swept along again.
"The despairing, dying autumn and our lovehow well they
harmonize!" said Eleanor sadly one day as they lay dripping by
"The Indian summer of our hearts" he ceased.
"Tell me," she said finally, "was she light or dark?"
"Was she more beautiful than I am?"
"I don't know," said Amory shortly.
One night they walked while the moon rose and poured a great
burden of glory over the garden until it seemed fairyland with
beauty in curious elfin love moods. Then they turned out of the
moonlight into the trellised darkness of a vine-hung pagoda,
where there were scents so plaintive as to be nearly musical.
"Light a match," she whispered. "I want to see you."
The night and the scarred trees were like scenery in a play, and
to be there with Eleanor, shadowy and unreal, seemed somehow
oddly familiar. Amory thought how it was only the past that ever
seemed strange and umbelievable. The match went out.
"It's black as pitch."
"We're just voices now," murmured Eleanor, "little lonesome
voices. Light another."
"That was my last match."
Suddenly he caught her in his arms.
"You are mineyou know you're mine!" he cried wildly ... the
moonlight twisted in through the vines and listened ... the
fireflies hung upon their whispers as if to win his glance from
the glory of their eyes.
THE END OF SUMMER
"No wind is stirring in the grass; not one wind stirs ... the
water in the hidden pools, as glass, fronts the full moon and so
inters the golden token in its icy mass," chanted Eleanor to the
trees that skeletoned the body of the night. "Isn't it ghostly
here? If you can hold your horse's feet up, let's cut through the
woods and find the hidden pools."
"It's after one, and you'll get the devil," he objected, "and I
don't know enough about horses to put one away in the pitch
"Shut up, you old fool," she whispered irrelevantly, and, leaning
over, she patted him lazily with her riding-crop. "You can leave
your old plug in our stable and I'll send him over to-morrow."
"But my uncle has got to drive me to the station with this old
plug at seven o'clock."
"Don't be a spoil-sportremember, you have a tendency toward
wavering that prevents you from being the entire light of my
Amory drew his horse up close beside, and, leaning toward her,
grasped her hand.
"Say I amquick, or I'll pull you over and make you ride behind
She looked up and smiled and shook her head excitedly.
"Oh, do!or rather, don't! Why are all the exciting things so
uncomfortable, like fighting and exploring and ski-ing in Canada?
By the way, we're going to ride up Harper's Hill. I think that
comes in our programme about five o'clock."
"You little devil," Amory growled. "You're going to make me stay
up all night and sleep in the train like an immigrant all day
to-morrow, going back to New York."
"Hush! some one's coming along the roadlet's go! Whoo-ee-oop!"
And with a shout that probably gave the belated traveller a
series of shivers, she turned her horse into the woods and Amory
followed slowly, as he had followed her all day for three weeks.
The summer was over, but he had spent the days in watching
Eleanor, a graceful, facile Manfred, build herself intellectual
and imaginative pyramids while she revelled in the
artificialities of the temperamental teens and they wrote poetry
at the dinner-table.
When Vanity kissed Vanity, a hundred happy Junes ago, he pondered
o'er her breathlessly, and, that all men might ever know, he
rhymed her eyes with life and death:
"Thru Time I'll save my love!" he said ... yet Beauty vanished
with his breath, and, with her lovers, she was dead...
Ever his wit and not her eyes, ever his art and not her hair:
"Who'd learn a trick in rhyme, be wise and pause before his
sonnet there" ... So all my words, however true, might sing you
to a thousandth June, and no one ever know that you were Beauty
for an afternoon.
So he wrote one day, when he pondered how coldly we thought of
the "Dark Lady of the Sonnets," and how little we remembered her
as the great man wanted her remembered. For what Shakespeare must
have desired, to have been able to write with such divine
despair, was that the lady should live ... and now we have no
real interest in her.... The irony of it is that if he had cared
more for the poem than for the lady the sonnet would be only
obvious, imitative rhetoric and no one would ever have read it
after twenty years....
This was the last night Amory ever saw Eleanor. He was leaving in
the morning and they had agreed to take a long farewell trot by
the cold moonlight. She wanted to talk, she saidperhaps the last
time in her life that she could be rational (she meant pose with
comfort). So they had turned into the woods and rode for half an
hour with scarcely a word, except when she whispered "Damn!" at a
bothersome branchwhispered it as no other girl was ever able to
whisper it. Then they started up Harper's Hill, walking their
"Good Lord! It's quiet here!" whispered Eleanor; "much more
lonesome than the woods."
"I hate woods," Amory said, shuddering. "Any kind of foliage or
underbrush at night. Out here it's so broad and easy on the
"The long slope of a long hill."
"And the cold moon rolling moonlight down it."
"And thee and me, last and most important."
It was quiet that nightthe straight road they followed up to the
edge of the cliff knew few footsteps at any time. Only an
occasional negro cabin, silver-gray in the rock-ribbed moonlight,
broke the long line of bare ground; behind lay the black edge of
the woods like a dark frosting on white cake, and ahead the
sharp, high horizon. It was much colderso cold that it settled on
them and drove all the warm nights from their minds.
"The end of summer," said Eleanor softly. "Listen to the beat of
our horses' hoofs'tump-tump-tump-a-tump.' Have you ever been
feverish and had all noises divide into 'tump-tump-tump' until
you could swear eternity was divisible into so many tumps? That's
the way I feelold horses go tump-tump.... I guess that's the only
thing that separates horses and clocks from us. Human beings
can't go 'tump-tump-tump' without going crazy."
The breeze freshened and Eleanor pulled her cape around her and
"Are you very cold?" asked Amory.
"No, I'm thinking about myselfmy black old inside self, the real
one, with the fundamental honesty that keeps me from being
absolutely wicked by making me realize my own sins."
They were riding up close by the cliff and Amory gazed over.
Where the fall met the ground a hundred feet below, a black
stream made a sharp line, broken by tiny glints in the swift
"Rotten, rotten old world," broke out Eleanor suddenly, "and the
stupid? Look at you; you're stupider than I am, not much, but
some, and you can lope about and get bored and then lope
somewhere else, and you can play around with girls without being
involved in meshes of sentiment, and you can do anything and be
justifiedand here am I with the brains to do everything, yet tied
to the sinking ship of future matrimony. If I were born a hundred
years from now, well and good, but now what's in store for meI
have to marry, that goes without saying. Who? I'm too bright for
most men, and yet I have to descend to their level and let them
patronize my intellect in order to get their attention. Every
year that I don't marry I've got less chance for a first-class
man. At the best I can have my choice from one or two cities and,
of course, I have to marry into a dinner-coat.
"Listen," she leaned close again, "I like clever men and
good-looking men, and, of course, no one cares more for
personality than I do. Oh, just one person in fifty has any
glimmer of what sex is. I'm hipped on Freud and all that, but
it's rotten that every bit of real love in the world is
ninety-nine per cent passion and one little soupgon of jealousy."
She finished as suddenly as she began.
"Of course, you're right," Amory agreed. "It's a rather
unpleasant overpowering force that's part of the machinery under
everything. It's like an actor that lets you see his mechanics!
Wait a minute till I think this out...."
He paused and tried to get a metaphor. They had turned the cliff
and were riding along the road about fifty feet to the left.
"You see every one's got to have some cloak to throw around it.
The mediocre intellects, Plato's second class, use the remnants
of romantic chivalry diluted with Victorian sentimentand we who
consider ourselves the intellectuals cover it up by pretending
that it's another side of us, has nothing to do with our shining
brains; we pretend that the fact that we realize it is really
absolving us from being a prey to it. But the truth is that sex
is right in the middle of our purest abstractions, so close that
it obscures vision.... I can kiss you now and will...." He leaned
toward her in his saddle, but she drew away.
"I can'tI can't kiss you nowI'm more sensitive."
"You're more stupid then," he declared rather impatiently.
"Intellect is no protection from sex any more than convention
"What is?" she fired up. "The Catholic Church or the maxims of
Amory looked up, rather taken aback.
"That's your panacea, isn't it?" she cried. "Oh, you're just an
old hypocrite, too. Thousands of scowling priests keeping the
degenerate Italians and illiterate Irish repentant with
gabble-gabble about the sixth and ninth commandments. It's just
all cloaks, sentiment and spiritual rouge and panaceas. I'll tell
you there is no God, not even a definite abstract goodness; so
it's all got to be worked out for the individual by the
individual here in high white foreheads like mine, and you're too
much the prig to admit it." She let go her reins and shook her
little fists at the stars.
"If there's a God let him strike mestrike me!"
"Talking about God again after the manner of atheists," Amory
said sharply. His materialism, always a thin cloak, was torn to
shreds by Eleanor's blasphemy.... She knew it and it angered him
that she knew it.
"And like most intellectuals who don't find faith convenient," he
continued coldly, "like Napoleon and Oscar Wilde and the rest of
your type, you'll yell loudly for a priest on your death-bed."
Eleanor drew her horse up sharply and he reined in beside her.
"Will I?" she said in a queer voice that scared him. "Will I?
Watch! I'm going over the cliff!" And before he could interfere
she had turned and was riding breakneck for the end of the
He wheeled and started after her, his body like ice, his nerves
in a vast clangor. There was no chance of stopping her. The moon
was under a cloud and her horse would step blindly over. Then
some ten feet from the edge of the cliff she gave a sudden shriek
and flung herself sidewaysplunged from her horse and, rolling
over twice, landed in a pile of brush five feet from the edge.
The horse went over with a frantic whinny. In a minute he was by
Eleanor's side and saw that her eyes were open.
"Eleanor!" he cried.
She did not answer, but her lips moved and her eyes filled with
"Eleanor, are you hurt?"
"No; I don't think so," she said faintly, and then began weeping.
"Good God Yes!"
"Oh!" she wailed. "I thought I was going over. I didn't know"
He helped her gently to her feet and boosted her onto his saddle.
So they started homeward; Amory walking and she bent forward on
the pommel, sobbing bitterly.
"I've got a crazy streak," she faltered, "twice before I've done
things like that. When I was eleven mother wentwent madstark
raving crazy. We were in Vienna"
All the way back she talked haltingly about herself, and Amory's
love waned slowly with the moon. At her door they started from
habit to kiss good night, but she could not run into his arms,
nor were they stretched to meet her as in the week before. For a
minute they stood there, hating each other with a bitter sadness.
But as Amory had loved himself in Eleanor, so now what he hated
was only a mirror. Their poses were strewn about the pale dawn
like broken glass. The stars were long gone and there were left
only the little sighing gusts of wind and the silences between
... but naked souls are poor things ever, and soon he turned
homeward and let new lights come in with the sun.
A POEM THAT ELEANOR SENT AMORY SEVERAL YEARS LATER
"Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water,
Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light,
Bosoming day as a laughing and radiant daughter...
Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night.
Walking alone ... was it splendor, or what, we were bound with,
Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair?
Shadows we loved and the patterns they covered the ground with
Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.
That was the day ... and the night for another story,
Pale as a dream and shadowed with pencilled trees
Ghosts of the stars came by who had sought for glory,
Whispered to us of peace in the plaintive breeze,
Whispered of old dead faiths that the day had shattered,
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon;
That was the urge that we knew and the language that mattered
That was the debt that we paid to the usurer June.
Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not
Anything back of the past that we need not know,
What if the light is but sun and the little streams sing not,
We are together, it seems ... I have loved you so...
What did the last night hold, with the summer over,
Drawing us back to the home in the changing glade?
What leered out of the dark in the ghostly clover?
God!... till you stirred in your sleep ... and were wild
Well ... we have passed ... we are chronicle now to the eerie.
Curious metal from meteors that failed in the sky;
Earth-born the tireless is stretched by the water, quite weary,
Close to this ununderstandable changeling that's I...
Fear is an echo we traced to Security's daughter;
Now we are faces and voices ... and less, too soon,
Whispering half-love over the lilt of the water...
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon."
A POEM AMORY SENT TO ELEANOR AND WHICH HE CALLED "SUMMER STORM"
"Faint winds, and a song fading and leaves falling,
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter...
And the rain and over the fields a voice calling...
Our gray blown cloud scurries and lifts above,
Slides on the sun and flutters there to waft her
Sisters on. The shadow of a dove
Falls on the cote, the trees are filled with wings;
And down the valley through the crying trees
The body of the darker storm flies; brings
With its new air the breath of sunken seas
And slender tenuous thunder...
But I wait...
Wait for the mists and for the blacker rain
Heavier winds that stir the veil of fate,
Happier winds that pile her hair;
They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air
Upon me, winds that I know, and storm.
There was a season every wind was warm....
And now you pass me in the mist ... your hair
Rain-blown about you, damp lips curved once more
In that wild irony, that gay despair
That made you old when we have met before;
Wraith-like you drift on out before the rain,
Across the fields, blown with the stemless flowers,
With your old hopes, dead leaves and loves again
Dim as a dream and wan with all old hours
(Whispers will creep into the growing dark...
Tumult will die over the trees)
Tears from her wetted breast the splattered blouse
Of day, glides down the dreaming hills, tear-bright,
To cover with her hair the eerie green...
Love for the dusk ... Love for the glistening after;
Quiet the trees to their last tops ... serene...
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter..."
The Education of a Personage
The Supercilious Sacrifice
ATLANTIC CITY. Amory paced the board walk at day's end, lulled by
the everlasting surge of changing waves, smelling the
half-mournful odor of the salt breeze. The sea, he thought, had
treasured its memories deeper than the faithless land. It seemed
still to whisper of Norse galleys ploughing the water world under
raven-figured flags, of the British dreadnoughts, gray bulwarks
of civilization steaming up through the fog of one dark July into
the North Sea.
Amory looked down into the street below. A low racing car had
drawn to a stop and a familiar cheerful face protruded from the
"Come on down, goopher!" cried Alec.
Amory called a greeting and descending a flight of wooden steps
approached the car. He and Alec had been meeting intermittently,
but the barrier of Rosalind lay always between them. He was sorry
for this; he hated to lose Alec.
"Mr. Blaine, this is Miss Waterson, Miss Wayne, and Mr. Tully."
"How d'y do?"
"Amory," said Alec exuberantly, "if you'll jump in we'll take you
to some secluded nook and give you a wee jolt of Bourbon."
"That's an idea."
"Step inmove over, Jill, and Amory will smile very handsomely at
Amory squeezed into the back seat beside a gaudy,
"Hello, Doug Fairbanks," she said flippantly. "Walking for
exercise or hunting for company?"
"I was counting the waves," replied Amory gravely. "I'm going in
"Don't kid me, Doug."
When they reached an unfrequented side street Alec stopped the
car among deep shadows.
"What you doing down here these cold days, Amory?" he demanded,
as he produced a quart of Bourbon from under the fur rug.
Amory avoided the question. Indeed, he had had no definite reason
for coming to the coast.
"Do you remember that party of ours, sophomore year?" he asked
"Do I? When we slept in the pavilions up in Asbury Park"
"Lord, Alec! It's hard to think that Jesse and Dick and Kerry are
all three dead."
"Don't talk about it. These dreary fall days depress me enough."
Jill seemed to agree.
"Doug here is sorta gloomy anyways," she commented. "Tell him to
drink deepit's good and scarce these days."
"What I really want to ask you, Amory, is where you are"
"Why, New York, I suppose"
"I mean to-night, because if you haven't got a room yet you'd
better help me out."
"You see, Tully and I have two rooms with bath between at the
Ranier, and he's got to go back to New York. I don't want to have
to move. Question is, will you occupy one of the rooms?"
Amory was willing, if he could get in right away.
"You'll find the key in the office; the rooms are in my name."
Declining further locomotion or further stimulation, Amory left
the car and sauntered back along the board walk to the hotel.
He was in an eddy again, a deep, lethargic gulf, without desire
to work or write, love or dissipate. For the first time in his
life he rather longed for death to roll over his generation,
obliterating their petty fevers and struggles and exultations.
His youth seemed never so vanished as now in the contrast between
the utter loneliness of this visit and that riotous, joyful party
of four years before. Things that had been the merest
commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of beauty
around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left
were filled only with the great listlessness of his disillusion.
"To hold a man a woman has to appeal to the worst in him." This
sentence was the thesis of most of his bad nights, of which he
felt this was to be one. His mind had already started to play
variations on the subject. Tireless passion, fierce jealousy,
longing to possess and crushthese alone were left of all his love
for Rosalind; these remained to him as payment for the loss of
his youthbitter calomel under the thin sugar of love's
In his room he undressed and wrapping himself in blankets to keep
out the chill October air drowsed in an armchair by the open
He remembered a poem he had read months before:
"Oh staunch old heart who toiled so long for me, I waste my years
sailing along the sea"
Yet he had no sense of waste, no sense of the present hope that
waste implied. He felt that life had rejected him.
"Rosalind! Rosalind!" He poured the words softly into the
half-darkness until she seemed to permeate the room; the wet salt
breeze filled his hair with moisture, the rim of a moon seared
the sky and made the curtains dim and ghostly. He fell asleep.
When he awoke it was very late and quiet. The blanket had slipped
partly off his shoulders and he touched his skin to find it damp
Then he became aware of a tense whispering not ten feet away.
He became rigid.
"Don't make a sound!" It was Alec's voice. "Jilldo you hear me?"
"Yes" breathed very low, very frightened. They were in the
Then his ears caught a louder sound from somewhere along the
corridor outside. It was a mumbling of men's voices and a
repeated muffled rapping. Amory threw off the blankets and moved
close to the bathroom door.
"My God!" came the girl's voice again. "You'll have to let them
Suddenly a steady, insistent knocking began at Amory's hall door
and simultaneously out of the bathroom came Alec, followed by the
vermilion-lipped girl. They were both clad in pajamas.
"Amory!" an anxious whisper.
"What's the trouble?"
"It's house detectives. My God, Amorythey're just looking for a
"Well, better let them in."
"You don't understand. They can get me under the Mann Act."
The girl followed him slowly, a rather miserable, pathetic figure
in the darkness.
Amory tried to plan quickly.
"You make a racket and let them in your room," he suggested
anxiously, "and I'll get her out by this door."
"They're here too, though. They'll watch this door."
"Can't you give a wrong name?"
"No chance. I registered under my own name; besides, they'd trail
the auto license number."
"Say you're married."
"Jill says one of the house detectives knows her."
The girl had stolen to the bed and tumbled upon it; lay there
listening wretchedly to the knocking which had grown gradually to
a pounding. Then came a man's voice, angry and imperative:
"Open up or we'll break the door in!"
In the silence when this voice ceased Amory realized that there
were other things in the room besides people ... over and around
the figure crouched on the bed there hung an aura, gossamer as a
moonbeam, tainted as stale, weak wine, yet a horror, diffusively
brooding already over the three of them ... and over by the
window among the stirring curtains stood something else,
featureless and indistinguishable, yet strangely familiar....
Simultaneously two great cases presented themselves side by side
to Amory; all that took place in his mind, then, occupied in
actual time less than ten seconds.
The first fact that flashed radiantly on his comprehension was
the great impersonality of sacrificehe perceived that what we
call love and hate, reward and punishment, had no more to do with
it than the date of the month. He quickly recapitulated the story
of a sacrifice he had heard of in college: a man had cheated in
an examination; his roommate in a gust of sentiment had taken the
entire blamedue to the shame of it the innocent one's entire
future seemed shrouded in regret and failure, capped by the
ingratitude of the real culprit. He had finally taken his own
lifeyears afterward the facts had come out. At the time the story
had both puzzled and worried Amory. Now he realized the truth;
that sacrifice was no purchase of freedom. It was like a great
elective office, it was like an inheritance of powerto certain
people at certain times an essential luxury, carrying with it not
a guarantee but a responsibility, not a security but an infinite
risk. Its very momentum might drag him down to ruinthe passing of
the emotional wave that made it possible might leave the one who
made it high and dry forever on an island of despair.
...Amory knew that afterward Alec would secretly hate him for
having done so much for him....
...All this was flung before Amory like an opened scroll, while
ulterior to him and speculating upon him were those two
breathless, listening forces: the gossamer aura that hung over
and about the girl and that familiar thing by the window.
Sacrifice by its very nature was arrogant and impersonal;
sacrifice should be eternally supercilious.
Weep not for me but for thy children.
Thatthought Amorywould be somehow the way God would talk to me.
Amory felt a sudden surge of joy and then like a face in a
motion-picture the aura over the bed faded out; the dynamic
shadow by the window, that was as near as he could name it,
remained for the fraction of a moment and then the breeze seemed
to lift it swiftly out of the room. He clinched his hands in
quick ecstatic excitement ... the ten seconds were up....
"Do what I say, Alecdo what I say. Do you understand?"
Alec looked at him dumblyhis face a tableau of anguish.
"You have a family," continued Amory slowly. "You have a family
and it's important that you should get out of this. Do you hear
me?" He repeated clearly what he had said. "Do you hear me?"
"I hear you." The voice was curiously strained, the eyes never
for a second left Amory's.
"Alec, you're going to lie down here. If any one comes in you act
drunk. You do what I sayif you don't I'll probably kill you."
There was another moment while they stared at each other. Then
Amory went briskly to the bureau and, taking his pocket-book,
beckoned peremptorily to the girl. He heard one word from Alec
that sounded like "penitentiary," then he and Jill were in the
bathroom with the door bolted behind them.
"You're here with me," he said sternly. "You've been with me all
She nodded, gave a little half cry.
In a second he had the door of the other room open and three men
entered. There was an immediate flood of electric light and he
stood there blinking.
"You've been playing a little too dangerous a game, young man!"
The leader of the trio nodded authoritatively at a burly man in a
"All right, Olson."
"I got you, Mr. O'May," said Olson, nodding. The other two took a
curious glance at their quarry and then withdrew, closing the
door angrily behind them.
The burly man regarded Amory contemptuously.
"Didn't you ever hear of the Mann Act? Coming down here with
her," he indicated the girl with his thumb, "with a New York
license on your carto a hotel like this." He shook his head
implying that he had struggled over Amory but now gave him up.
"Well," said Amory rather impatiently, "what do you want us to
"Get dressed, quickand tell your friend not to make such a
racket." Jill was sobbing noisily on the bed, but at these words
she subsided sulkily and, gathering up her clothes, retired to
the bathroom. As Amory slipped into Alec's B. V. D.'s he found
that his attitude toward the situation was agreeably humorous.
The aggrieved virtue of the burly man made him want to laugh.
"Anybody else here?" demanded Olson, trying to look keen and
"Fellow who had the rooms," said Amory carelessly. "He's drunk as
an owl, though. Been in there asleep since six o'clock."
"I'll take a look at him presently."
"How did you find out?" asked Amory curiously.
"Night clerk saw you go up-stairs with this woman."
Amory nodded; Jill reappeared from the bathroom, completely if
rather untidily arrayed.
"Now then," began Olson, producing a note-book, "I want your real
namesno damn John Smith or Mary Brown."
"Wait a minute," said Amory quietly. "Just drop that big-bully
stuff. We merely got caught, that's all."
Olson glared at him.
"Name?" he snapped.
Amory gave his name and New York address.
"And the lady?"
"Miss Jill "
"Say," cried Olson indignantly, "just ease up on the nursery
rhymes. What's your name? Sarah Murphy? Minnie Jackson?"
"Oh, my God!" cried the girl cupping her tear-stained face in her
hands. "I don't want my mother to know. I don't want my mother to
"Come on now!"
"Shut up!" cried Amory at Olson.
An instant's pause.
"Stella Robbins," she faltered finally. "General Delivery,
Rugway, New Hampshire."
Olson snapped his note-book shut and looked at them very
"By rights the hotel could turn the evidence over to the police
and you'd go to penitentiary, you would, for bringin' a girl from
one State to 'nother f'r immoral purp'ses"he paused to let the
majesty of his words sink in. "Butthe hotel is going to let you
"It doesn't want to get in the papers," cried Jill fiercely. "Let
us off! Huh!"
A great lightness surrounded Amory. He realized that he was safe
and only then did he appreciate the full enormity of what he
might have incurred.
"However," continued Olson, "there's a protective association
among the hotels. There's been too much of this stuff, and we got
a 'rangement with the newspapers so that you get a little free
publicity. Not the name of the hotel, but just a line sayin' that
you had a little trouble in 'lantic City. See?"
"You're gettin' off lightdamn lightbut"
"Come on," said Amory briskly. "Let's get out of here. We don't
need a valedictory."
Olson walked through the bathroom and took a cursory glance at
Alec's still form. Then he extinguished the lights and motioned
them to follow him. As they walked into the elevator Amory
considered a piece of bravadoyielded finally. He reached out and
tapped Olson on the arm.
"Would you mind taking off your hat? There's a lady in the
Olson's hat came off slowly. There was a rather embarrassing two
minutes under the lights of the lobby while the night clerk and a
few belated guests stared at them curiously; the loudly dressed
girl with bent head, the handsome young man with his chin several
points aloft; the inference was quite obvious. Then the chill
outdoorswhere the salt air was fresher and keener still with the
first hints of morning.
"You can get one of those taxis and beat it," said Olson,
pointing to the blurred outline of two machines whose drivers
were presumably asleep inside.
"Good-by," said Olson. He reached in his pocket suggestively, but
Amory snorted, and, taking the girl's arm, turned away.
"Where did you tell the driver to go?" she asked as they whirled
along the dim street.
"If that guy writes my mother"
"He won't. Nobody'll ever know about thisexcept our friends and
Dawn was breaking over the sea.
"It's getting blue," she said.
"It does very well," agreed Amory critically, and then as an
after-thought: "It's almost breakfast-timedo you want something
"Food" she said with a cheerful laugh. "Food is what queered the
party. We ordered a big supper to be sent up to the room about
two o'clock. Alec didn't give the waiter a tip, so I guess the
little bastard snitched."
Jill's low spirits seemed to have gone faster than the scattering
night. "Let me tell you," she said emphatically, "when you want
to stage that sorta party stay away from liquor, and when you
want to get tight stay away from bedrooms."
He tapped suddenly at the glass and they drew up at the door of
an all-night restaurant.
"Is Alec a great friend of yours?" asked Jill as they perched
themselves on high stools inside, and set their elbows on the
"He used to be. He probably won't want to be any moreand never
"It was sorta crazy you takin' all that blame. Is he pretty
important? Kinda more important than you are?"
"That remains to be seen," he answered. "That's the question."
THE COLLAPSE OF SEVERAL PILLARS
Two days later back in New York Amory found in a newspaper what
he had been searching fora dozen lines which announced to whom it
might concern that Mr. Amory Blaine, who "gave his address" as,
etc., had been requested to leave his hotel in Atlantic City
because of entertaining in his room a lady not his wife.
Then he started, and his fingers trembled, for directly above was
a longer paragraph of which the first words were:
"Mr. and Mrs. Leland R. Connage are announcing the engagement of
their daughter, Rosalind, to Mr. J. Dawson Ryder, of Hartford,
He dropped the paper and lay down on his bed with a frightened,
sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. She was gone,
definitely, finally gone. Until now he had half unconsciously
cherished the hope deep in his heart that some day she would need
him and send for him, cry that it had been a mistake, that her
heart ached only for the pain she had caused him. Never again
could he find even the sombre luxury of wanting hernot this
Rosalind, harder, oldernor any beaten, broken woman that his
imagination brought to the door of his fortiesAmory had wanted
her youth, the fresh radiance of her mind and body, the stuff
that she was selling now once and for all. So far as he was
concerned, young Rosalind was dead.
A day later came a crisp, terse letter from Mr. Barton in
Chicago, which informed him that as three more street-car
companies had gone into the hands of receivers he could expect
for the present no further remittances. Last of all, on a dazed
Sunday night, a telegram told him of Monsignor Darcy's sudden
death in Philadelphia five days before.
He knew then what it was that he had perceived among the curtains
of the room in Atlantic City.
The Education of a Personage
The Egotist Becomes a Personage
"A fathom deep in sleep I lie
With old desires, restrained before,
To clamor lifeward with a cry,
As dark flies out the greying door;
And so in quest of creeds to share
I seek assertive day again...
But old monotony is there:
Endless avenues of rain.
Oh, might I rise again! Might I
Throw off the heat of that old wine,
See the new morning mass the sky
With fairy towers, line on line;
Find each mirage in the high air
A symbol, not a dream again...
But old monotony is there:
Endless avenues of rain."
UNDER THE GLASS portcullis of a theatre Amory stood, watching the
first great drops of rain splatter down and flatten to dark
stains on the sidewalk. The air became gray and opalescent; a
solitary light suddenly outlined a window over the way; then
another light; then a hundred more danced and glimmered into
vision. Under his feet a thick, iron-studded skylight turned
yellow; in the street the lamps of the taxi-cabs sent out
glistening sheens along the already black pavement. The unwelcome
November rain had perversely stolen the day's last hour and
pawned it with that ancient fence, the night.
snapping sound, followed by the heavy roaring of a rising crowd
and the interlaced clatter of many voices. The matinie was over.
He stood aside, edged a little into the rain to let the throng
pass. A small boy rushed out, sniffed in the damp, fresh air and
turned up the collar of his coat; came three or four couples in a
great hurry; came a further scattering of people whose eyes as
they emerged glanced invariably, first at the wet street, then at
the rain-filled air, finally at the dismal sky; last a dense,
strolling mass that depressed him with its heavy odor compounded
of the tobacco smell of the men and the fetid sensuousness of
stale powder on women. After the thick crowd came another
scattering; a stray half-dozen; a man on crutches; finally the
rattling bang of folding seats inside announced that the ushers
were at work.
New York seemed not so much awakening as turning over in its bed.
Pallid men rushed by, pinching together their coat-collars; a
great swarm of tired, magpie girls from a department-store
crowded along with shrieks of strident laughter, three to an
umbrella; a squad of marching policemen passed, already
miraculously protected by oilskin capes.
The rain gave Amory a feeling of detachment, and the numerous
unpleasant aspects of city life without money occurred to him in
threatening procession. There was the ghastly, stinking crush of
the subwaythe car cards thrusting themselves at one, leering out
like dull bores who grab your arm with another story; the
querulous worry as to whether some one isn't leaning on you; a
man deciding not to give his seat to a woman, hating her for it;
the woman hating him for not doing it; at worst a squalid
phantasmagoria of breath, and old cloth on human bodies and the
smells of the food men ateat best just peopletoo hot or too cold,
He pictured the rooms where these people livedwhere the patterns
of the blistered wall-papers were heavy reiterated sunflowers on
green and yellow backgrounds, where there were tin bathtubs and
gloomy hallways and verdureless, unnamable spaces in back of the
buildings; where even love dressed as seductiona sordid murder
around the corner, illicit motherhood in the flat above. And
always there was the economical stuffiness of indoor winter, and
the long summers, nightmares of perspiration between sticky
enveloping walls ... dirty restaurants where careless, tired
people helped themselves to sugar with their own used
coffee-spoons, leaving hard brown deposits in the bowl.
It was not so bad where there were only men or else only women;
it was when they were vilely herded that it all seemed so rotten.
It was some shame that women gave off at having men see them
tired and poorit was some disgust that men had for women who were
tired and poor. It was dirtier than any battle-field he had seen,
harder to contemplate than any actual hardship moulded of mire
and sweat and danger, it was an atmosphere wherein birth and
marriage and death were loathsome, secret things.
He remembered one day in the subway when a delivery boy had
brought in a great funeral wreath of fresh flowers, how the smell
of it had suddenly cleared the air and given every one in the car
a momentary glow.
"I detest poor people," thought Amory suddenly. "I hate them for
being poor. Poverty may have been beautiful once, but it's rotten
now. It's the ugliest thing in the world. It's essentially
cleaner to be corrupt and rich than it is to be innocent and
poor." He seemed to see again a figure whose significance had
once impressed hima well-dressed young man gazing from a club
window on Fifth Avenue and saying something to his companion with
a look of utter disgust. Probably, thought Amory, what he said
was: "My God! Aren't people horrible!"
Never before in his life had Amory considered poor people. He
thought cynically how completely he was lacking in all human
sympathy. O. Henry had found in these people romance, pathos,
love, hateAmory saw only coarseness, physical filth, and
stupidity. He made no self-accusations: never any more did he
reproach himself for feelings that were natural and sincere. He
accepted all his reactions as a part of him, unchangeable,
unmoral. This problem of poverty transformed, magnified, attached
to some grander, more dignified attitude might some day even be
his problem; at present it roused only his profound distaste.
He walked over to Fifth Avenue, dodging the blind, black menace
of umbrellas, and standing in front of Delmonico's hailed an
auto-bus. Buttoning his coat closely around him he climbed to the
roof, where he rode in solitary state through the thin,
persistent rain, stung into alertness by the cool moisture
perpetually reborn on his cheek. Somewhere in his mind a
conversation began, rather resumed its place in his attention. It
was composed not of two voices, but of one, which acted alike as
questioner and answerer:
Question.Wellwhat's the situation?
Answer.That I have about twenty-four dollars to my name.
Q.You have the Lake Geneva estate.
A.But I intend to keep it.
Q.Can you live?
A.I can't imagine not being able to. People make money in books
and I've found that I can always do the things that people do in
books. Really they are the only things I can do.
A.I don't know what I'll donor have I much curiosity. To-morrow
I'm going to leave New York for good. It's a bad town unless
you're on top of it.
Q.Do you want a lot of money?
A.No. I am merely afraid of being poor.
A.Just passively afraid.
Q.Where are you drifting?
A.Don't ask me!
Q.Don't you care?
A.Rather. I don't want to commit moral suicide.
Q.Have you no interests left?
A.None. I've no more virtue to lose. Just as a cooling pot gives
off heat, so all through youth and adolescence we give off
calories of virtue. That's what's called ingenuousness.
Q.An interesting idea.
A.That's why a "good man going wrong" attracts people. They stand
around and literally warm themselves at the calories of virtue he
gives off. Sarah makes an unsophisticated remark and the faces
simper in delight"How innocent the poor child is!" They're
warming themselves at her virtue. But Sarah sees the simper and
never makes that remark again. Only she feels a little colder
Q.All your calories gone?
A.All of them. I'm beginning to warm myself at other people's
Q.Are you corrupt?
A.I think so. I'm not sure. I'm not sure about good and evil at
all any more.
Q.Is that a bad sign in itself?
Q.What would be the test of corruption?
A.Becoming really insincerecalling myself "not such a bad
fellow," thinking I regretted my lost youth when I only envy the
delights of losing it. Youth is like having a big plate of candy.
Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state
they were in before they ate the candy. They don't. They just
want the fun of eating it all over again. The matron doesn't want
want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it
Q.Where are you drifting?
This dialogue merged grotesquely into his mind's most familiar
statea grotesque blending of desires, worries, exterior
impressions and physical reactions.
One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Streetor One Hundred and
Thirty-seventh Street.... Two and three look alikeno, not much.
Seat damp ... are clothes absorbing wetness from seat, or seat
absorbing dryness from clothes?... Sitting on wet substance gave
appendicitis, so Froggy Parker's mother said. Well, he'd had
itI'll sue the steamboat company, Beatrice said, and my uncle has
a quarter interestdid Beatrice go to heaven?... probably not He
represented Beatrice's immortality, also love-affairs of numerous
dead men who surely had never thought of him ... if it wasn't
appendicitis, influenza maybe. What? One Hundred and Twentieth
Street? That must have been One Hundred and Twelfth back there.
One O Two instead of One Two Seven. Rosalind not like Beatrice,
Eleanor like Beatrice, only wilder and brainier. Apartments along
here expensiveprobably hundred and fifty a monthmaybe two
hundred. Uncle had only paid hundred a month for whole great big
house in Minneapolis. Questionwere the stairs on the left or
right as you came in? Anyway, in 12 Univee they were straight
back and to the left. What a dirty riverwant to go down there and
see if it's dirtyFrench rivers all brown or black, so were
Southern rivers. Twenty-four dollars meant four hundred and
eighty doughnuts. He could live on it three months and sleep in
the park. Wonder where Jill wasJill Bayne, Fayne, Saynewhat the
devilneck hurts, darned uncomfortable seat. No desire to sleep
with Jill, what could Alec see in her? Alec had a coarse taste in
women. Own taste the best; Isabelle, Clara, Rosalind, Eleanor,
were all-American. Eleanor would pitch, probably southpaw.
Rosalind was outfield, wonderful hitter, Clara first base, maybe.
Wonder what Humbird's body looked like now. If he himself hadn't
been bayonet instructor he'd have gone up to line three months
sooner, probably been killed. Where's the darned bell
The street numbers of Riverside Drive were obscured by the mist
and dripping trees from anything but the swiftest scrutiny, but
Amory had finally caught sight of One One Hundred and
Twenty-seventh Street. He got off and with no distinct
destination followed a winding, descending sidewalk and came out
facing the river, in particular a long pier and a partitioned
litter of shipyards for miniature craft: small launches, canoes,
rowboats, and catboats. He turned northward and followed the
shore, jumped a small wire fence and found himself in a great
disorderly yard adjoining a dock. The hulls of many boats in
various stages of repair were around him; he smelled sawdust and
paint and the scarcely distinguishable fiat odor of the Hudson. A
man approached through the heavy gloom.
"Hello," said Amory.
"Got a pass?"
"No. Is this private?"
"This is the Hudson River Sporting and Yacht Club."
"Oh! I didn't know. I'm just resting."
"Well" began the man dubiously.
"I'll go if you want me to."
The man made non-committal noises in his throat and passed on.
Amory seated himself on an overturned boat and leaned forward
thoughtfully until his chin rested in his hand.
"Misfortune is liable to make me a damn bad man," he said slowly.
IN THE DROOPING HOURS
While the rain drizzled on Amory looked futilely back at the
stream of his life, all its glitterings and dirty shallows. To
begin with, he was still afraidnot physically afraid any more,
but afraid of people and prejudice and misery and monotony. Yet,
deep in his bitter heart, he wondered if he was after all worse
than this man or the next. He knew that he could sophisticate
himself finally into saying that his own weakness was just the
result of circumstances and environment; that often when he raged
at himself as an egotist something would whisper ingratiatingly:
"No. Genius!" That was one manifestation of fear, that voice
which whispered that he could not be both great and good, that
genius was the exact combination of those inexplicable grooves
and twists in his mind, that any discipline would curb it to
mediocrity. Probably more than any concrete vice or failing Amory
despised his own personalityhe loathed knowing that to-morrow and
the thousand days after he would swell pompously at a compliment
and sulk at an ill word like a third-rate musician or a
first-class actor. He was ashamed of the fact that very simple
and honest people usually distrusted him; that he had been cruel,
often, to those who had sunk their personalities in himseveral
girls, and a man here and there through college, that he had been
an evil influence on; people who had followed him here and there
into mental adventures from which he alone rebounded unscathed.
Usually, on nights like this, for there had been many lately, he
could escape from this consuming introspection by thinking of
children and the infinite possibilities of childrenhe leaned and
listened and he heard a startled baby awake in a house across the
street and lend a tiny whimper to the still night. Quick as a
flash he turned away, wondering with a touch of panic whether
something in the brooding despair of his mood had made a darkness
in its tiny soul. He shivered. What if some day the balance was
overturned, and he became a thing that frightened children and
crept into rooms in the dark, approached dim communion with those
phantoms who whispered shadowy secrets to the mad of that dark
continent upon the moon....
"You're too much wrapped up in yourself," he heard some one say.
"Get out and do some real work"
He fancied a possible future comment of his own.
"YesI was perhaps an egotist in youth, but I soon found it made
me morbid to think too much about myself."
Suddenly he felt an overwhelming desire to let himself go to the
devilnot to go violently as a gentleman should, but to sink
safely and sensuously out of sight. He pictured himself in an
adobe house in Mexico, half-reclining on a rug-covered couch, his
slender, artistic fingers closed on a cigarette while he listened
to guitars strumming melancholy undertones to an age-old dirge of
Castile and an olive-skinned, carmine-lipped girl caressed his
hair. Here he might live a strange litany, delivered from right
and wrong and from the hound of heaven and from every God (except
the exotic Mexican one who was pretty slack himself and rather
addicted to Oriental scents)delivered from success and hope and
poverty into that long chute of indulgence which led, after all,
only to the artificial lake of death.
There were so many places where one might deteriorate pleasantly:
Port Said, Shanghai, parts of Turkestan, Constantinople, the
South Seasall lands of sad, haunting music and many odors, where
lust could be a mode and expression of life, where the shades of
night skies and sunsets would seem to reflect only moods of
passion: the colors of lips and poppies.
Once he had been miraculously able to scent evil as a horse
detects a broken bridge at night, but the man with the queer feet
in Phoebe's room had diminished to the aura over Jill. His
instinct perceived the fetidness of poverty, but no longer
ferreted out the deeper evils in pride and sensuality.
There were no more wise men; there were no more heroes; Burne
Holiday was sunk from sight as though he had never lived;
Monsignor was dead. Amory had grown up to a thousand books, a
thousand lies; he had listened eagerly to people who pretended to
know, who knew nothing. The mystical reveries of saints that had
once filled him with awe in the still hours of night, now vaguely
repelled him. The Byrons and Brookes who had defied life from
mountain tops were in the end but flaneurs and poseurs, at best
mistaking the shadow of courage for the substance of wisdom. The
pageantry of his disillusion took shape in a world-old procession
of Prophets, Athenians, Martyrs, Saints, Scientists, Don Juans,
Jesuits, Puritans, Fausts, Poets, Pacifists; like costumed alumni
at a college reunion they streamed before him as their dreams,
personalities, and creeds had in turn thrown colored lights on
his soul; each had tried to express the glory of life and the
tremendous significance of man; each had boasted of synchronizing
what had gone before into his own rickety generalities; each had
depended after all on the set stage and the convention of the
theatre, which is that man in his hunger for faith will feed his
mind with the nearest and most convenient food.
Womenof whom he had expected so much; whose beauty he had hoped
to transmute into modes of art; whose unfathomable instincts,
marvellously incoherent and inarticulate, he had thought to
perpetuate in terms of experiencehad become merely consecrations
to their own posterity. Isabelle, Clara, Rosalind, Eleanor, were
all removed by their very beauty, around which men had swarmed,
from the possibility of contributing anything but a sick heart
and a page of puzzled words to write.
Amory based his loss of faith in help from others on several
sweeping syllogisms. Granted that his generation, however bruised
and decimated from this Victorian war, were the heirs of
progress. Waving aside petty differences of conclusions which,
although they might occasionally cause the deaths of several
millions of young men, might be explained awaysupposing that
after all Bernard Shaw and Bernhardi, Bonar Law and
Bethmann-Hollweg were mutual heirs of progress if only in
agreeing against the ducking of witcheswaiving the antitheses and
approaching individually these men who seemed to be the leaders,
he was repelled by the discrepancies and contradictions in the
There was, for example, Thornton Hancock, respected by half the
intellectual world as an authority on life, a man who had
verified and believed the code he lived by, an educator of
educators, an adviser to Presidentsyet Amory knew that this man
had, in his heart, leaned on the priest of another religion.
And Monsignor, upon whom a cardinal rested, had moments of
strange and horrible insecurityinexplicable in a religion that
explained even disbelief in terms of its own faith: if you
doubted the devil it was the devil that made you doubt him. Amory
had seen Monsignor go to the houses of stolid philistines, read
popular novels furiously, saturate himself in routine, to escape
from that horror.
And this priest, a little wiser, somewhat purer, had been, Amory
knew, not essentially older than he.
Amory was alonehe had escaped from a small enclosure into a great
labyrinth. He was where Goethe was when he began "Faust"; he was
where Conrad was when he wrote "Almayer's Folly."
Amory said to himself that there were essentially two sorts of
people who through natural clarity or disillusion left the
enclosure and sought the labyrinth. There were men like Wells and
Plato, who had, half unconsciously, a strange, hidden orthodoxy,
who would accept for themselves only what could be accepted for
all menincurable romanticists who never, for all their efforts,
could enter the labyrinth as stark souls; there were on the other
hand sword-like pioneering personalities, Samuel Butler, Renan,
Voltaire, who progressed much slower, yet eventually much
further, not in the direct pessimistic line of speculative
philosophy but concerned in the eternal attempt to attach a
positive value to life....
Amory stopped. He began for the first time in his life to have a
strong distrust of all generalities and epigrams. They were too
easy, too dangerous to the public mind. Yet all thought usually
reached the public after thirty years in some such form: Benson
and Chesterton had popularized Huysmans and Newman; Shaw had
sugar-coated Nietzsche and Ibsen and Schopenhauer. The man in the
street heard the conclusions of dead genius through some one
else's clever paradoxes and didactic epigrams.
Life was a damned muddle ... a football game with every one
off-side and the referee gotten rid ofevery one claiming the
referee would have been on his side....
Progress was a labyrinth ... people plunging blindly in and then
rushing wildly back, shouting that they had found it ... the
invisible kingthe ilan vitalthe principle of evolution ...
writing a book, starting a war, founding a school....
Amory, even had he not been a selfish man, would have started all
inquiries with himself. He was his own best examplesitting in the
rain, a human creature of sex and pride, foiled by chance and his
own temperament of the balm of love and children, preserved to
help in building up the living consciousness of the race.
In self-reproach and loneliness and disillusion he came to the
Another dawn flung itself across the river, a belated taxi
hurried along the street, its lamps still shining like burning
eyes in a face white from a night's carouse. A melancholy siren
sounded far down the river.
Amory kept thinking how Monsignor would have enjoyed his own
funeral. It was magnificently Catholic and liturgical. Bishop
O'Neill sang solemn high mass and the cardinal gave the final
absolutions. Thornton Hancock, Mrs. Lawrence, the British and
Italian ambassadors, the papal delegate, and a host of friends
and priests were thereyet the inexorable shears had cut through
all these threads that Monsignor had gathered into his hands. To
Amory it was a haunting grief to see him lying in his coffin,
with closed hands upon his purple vestments. His face had not
changed, and, as he never knew he was dying, it showed no pain or
fear. It was Amory's dear old friend, his and the others'for the
church was full of people with daft, staring faces, the most
exalted seeming the most stricken.
The cardinal, like an archangel in cope and mitre, sprinkled the
holy water; the organ broke into sound; the choir began to sing
the Requiem Eternam.
All these people grieved because they had to some extent depended
upon Monsignor. Their grief was more than sentiment for the
"crack in his voice or a certain break in his walk," as Wells put
it. These people had leaned on Monsignor's faith, his way of
finding cheer, of making religion a thing of lights and shadows,
making all light and shadow merely aspects of God. People felt
safe when he was near.
Of Amory's attempted sacrifice had been born merely the full
realization of his disillusion, but of Monsignor's funeral was
born the romantic elf who was to enter the labyrinth with him. He
found something that he wanted, had always wanted and always
would wantnot to be admired, as he had feared; not to be loved,
as he had made himself believe; but to be necessary to people, to
be indispensable; he remembered the sense of security he had
found in Burne.
Life opened up in one of its amazing bursts of radiance and Amory
suddenly and permanently rejected an old epigram that had been
playing listlessly in his mind: "Very few things matter and
nothing matters very much."
On the contrary, Amory felt an immense desire to give people a
sense of security.
THE BIG MAN WITH GOGGLES
On the day that Amory started on his walk to Princeton the sky
was a colorless vault, cool, high and barren of the threat of
rain. It was a gray day, that least fleshly of all weathers; a
day of dreams and far hopes and clear visions. It was a day
easily associated with those abstract truths and purities that
dissolve in the sunshine or fade out in mocking laughter by the
light of the moon. The trees and clouds were carved in classical
severity; the sounds of the countryside had harmonized to a
monotone, metallic as a trumpet, breathless as the Grecian urn.
The day had put Amory in such a contemplative mood that he caused
much annoyance to several motorists who were forced to slow up
considerably or else run him down. So engrossed in his thoughts
was he that he was scarcely surprised at that strange
phenomenoncordiality manifested within fifty miles of
Manhattanwhen a passing car slowed down beside him and a voice
hailed him. He looked up and saw a magnificent Locomobile in
which sat two middle-aged men, one of them small and anxious
looking, apparently an artificial growth on the other who was
large and begoggled and imposing.
"Do you want a lift?" asked the apparently artificial growth,
glancing from the corner of his eye at the imposing man as if for
some habitual, silent corroboration.
"You bet I do. Thanks."
The chauffeur swung open the door, and, climbing in, Amory
settled himself in the middle of the back seat. He took in his
companions curiously. The chief characteristic of the big man
seemed to be a great confidence in himself set off against a
tremendous boredom with everything around him. That part of his
face which protruded under the goggles was what is generally
termed "strong"; rolls of not undignified fat had collected near
his chin; somewhere above was a wide thin mouth and the rough
model for a Roman nose, and, below, his shoulders collapsed
without a struggle into the powerful bulk of his chest and belly.
He was excellently and quietly dressed. Amory noticed that he was
inclined to stare straight at the back of the chauffeur's head as
if speculating steadily but hopelessly some baffling hirsute
The smaller man was remarkable only for his complete submersion
in the personality of the other. He was of that lower secretarial
type who at forty have engraved upon their business cards:
"Assistant to the President," and without a sigh consecrate the
rest of their lives to second-hand mannerisms.
"Going far?" asked the smaller man in a pleasant disinterested
"Quite a stretch."
"Hiking for exercise?"
"No," responded Amory succinctly, "I'm walking because I can't
afford to ride."
"Are you looking for work? Because there's lots of work," he
continued rather testily. "All this talk of lack of work. The
West is especially short of labor." He expressed the West with a
sweeping, lateral gesture. Amory nodded politely.
"Have you a trade?"
NoAmory had no trade.
NoAmory was not a clerk.
"Whatever your line is," said the little man, seeming to agree
wisely with something Amory had said, "now is the time of
opportunity and business openings." He glanced again toward the
big man, as a lawyer grilling a witness glances involuntarily at
Amory decided that he must say something and for the life of him
could think of only one thing to say.
"Of course I want a great lot of money"
The little man laughed mirthlessly but conscientiously.
"That's what every one wants nowadays, but they don't want to
work for it."
"A very natural, healthy desire. Almost all normal people want to
be rich without great effortexcept the financiers in problem
plays, who want to 'crash their way through.' Don't you want easy
"But," continued Amory disregarding him, "being very poor at
present I am contemplating socialism as possibly my forte."
Both men glanced at him curiously.
"These bomb throwers" The little man ceased as words lurched
ponderously from the big man's chest.
"If I thought you were a bomb thrower I'd run you over to the
Newark jail. That's what I think of Socialists."
"What are you," asked the big man, "one of these parlor
Bolsheviks, one of these idealists? I must say I fail to see the
difference. The idealists loaf around and write the stuff that
stirs up the poor immigrants."
"Well," said Amory, "if being an idealist is both safe and
lucrative, I might try it."
"What's your difficulty? Lost your job?"
"Not exactly, butwell, call it that."
"What was it?"
"Writing copy for an advertising agency."
"Lots of money in advertising."
Amory smiled discreetly.
"Oh, I'll admit there's money in it eventually. Talent doesn't
starve any more. Even art gets enough to eat these days. Artists
draw your magazine covers, write your advertisements, hash out
rag-time for your theatres. By the great commercializing of
printing you've found a harmless, polite occupation for every
genius who might have carved his own niche. But beware the artist
who's an intellectual also. The artist who doesn't fit the
Rousseau, the Tolstoi, the Samuel Butler, the Amory Blaine"
"Who's he?" demanded the little man suspiciously.
"Well," said Amory, "he's ahe's an intellectual personage not
very well known at present."
The little man laughed his conscientious laugh, and stopped
rather suddenly as Amory's burning eyes turned on him.
"What are you laughing at?"
"These intellectual people"
"Do you know what it means?"
The little man's eyes twitched nervously.
"Why, it usually means"
"It always means brainy and well-educated," interrupted Amory.
"It means having an active knowledge of the race's experience."
Amory decided to be very rude. He turned to the big man. "The
young man," he indicated the secretary with his thumb, and said
young man as one says bell-boy, with no implication of youth,
"has the usual muddled connotation of all popular words."
"You object to the fact that capital controls printing?" said the
big man, fixing him with his goggles.
"Yesand I object to doing their mental work for them. It seemed
to me that the root of all the business I saw around me consisted
in overworking and underpaying a bunch of dubs who submitted to
"Here now," said the big man, "you'll have to admit that the
laboring man is certainly highly paidfive and six hour daysit's
ridiculous. You can't buy an honest day's work from a man in the
"You've brought it on yourselves," insisted Amory. "You people
never make concessions until they're wrung out of you."
"Your class; the class I belonged to until recently; those who by
inheritance or industry or brains or dishonesty have become the
"Do you imagine that if that road-mender over there had the money
he'd be any more willing to give it up?"
"No, but what's that got to do with it?"
The older man considered.
"No, I'll admit it hasn't. It rather sounds as if it had though."
"In fact," continued Amory, "he'd be worse. The lower classes are
narrower, less pleasant and personally more selfishcertainly more
stupid. But all that has nothing to do with the question."
"Just exactly what is the question?"
Here Amory had to pause to consider exactly what the question
AMORY COINS A PHRASE
"When life gets hold of a brainy man of fair education," began
Amory slowly, "that is, when he marries he becomes, nine times
out of ten, a conservative as far as existing social conditions
are concerned. He may be unselfish, kind-hearted, even just in
his own way, but his first job is to provide and to hold fast.
His wife shoos him on, from ten thousand a year to twenty
thousand a year, on and on, in an enclosed treadmill that hasn't
any windows. He's done! Life's got him! He's no help! He's a
spiritually married man."
Amory paused and decided that it wasn't such a bad phrase.
"Some men," he continued, "escape the grip. Maybe their wives
have no social ambitions; maybe they've hit a sentence or two in
a 'dangerous book' that pleased them; maybe they started on the
treadmill as I did and were knocked off. Anyway, they're the
congressmen you can't bribe, the Presidents who aren't
politicians, the writers, speakers, scientists, statesmen who
aren't just popular grab-bags for a half-dozen women and
"He's the natural radical?"
"Yes," said Amory. "He may vary from the disillusioned critic
like old Thornton Hancock, all the way to Trotsky. Now this
spiritually unmarried man hasn't direct power, for unfortunately
the spiritually married man, as a by-product of his money chase,
has garnered in the great newspaper, the popular magazine, the
influential weeklyso that Mrs. Newspaper, Mrs. Magazine, Mrs.
Weekly can have a better limousine than those oil people across
the street or those cement people 'round the corner."
"It makes wealthy men the keepers of the world's intellectual
conscience and, of course, a man who has money under one set of
social institutions quite naturally can't risk his family's
happiness by letting the clamor for another appear in his
"But it appears," said the big man.
"Where?in the discredited mediums. Rotten cheap-papered
"All rightgo on."
"Well, my first point is that through a mixture of conditions of
which the family is the first, there are these two sorts of
brains. One sort takes human nature as it finds it, uses its
timidity, its weakness, and its strength for its own ends.
Opposed is the man who, being spiritually unmarried, continually
seeks for new systems that will control or counteract human
nature. His problem is harder. It is not life that's complicated,
it's the struggle to guide and control life. That is his
struggle. He is a part of progressthe spiritually married man is
The big man produced three big cigars, and proffered them on his
huge palm. The little man took one, Amory shook his head and
reached for a cigarette.
"Go on talking," said the big man. "I've been wanting to hear one
"Modern life," began Amory again, "changes no longer century by
century, but year by year, ten times faster than it ever has
beforepopulations doubling, civilizations unified more closely
with other civilizations, economic interdependence, racial
questions, andwe're dawdling along. My idea is that we've got to
go very much faster." He slightly emphasized the last words and
the chauffeur unconsciously increased the speed of the car. Amory
and the big man laughed; the little man laughed, too, after a
"Every child," said Amory, "should have an equal start. If his
father can endow him with a good physique and his mother with
some common sense in his early education, that should be his
heritage. If the father can't give him a good physique, if the
mother has spent in chasing men the years in which she should
have been preparing herself to educate her children, so much the
worse for the child. He shouldn't be artificially bolstered up
with money, sent to these horrible tutoring schools, dragged
through college ... Every boy ought to have an equal start."
"All right," said the big man, his goggles indicating neither
approval nor objection.
"Next I'd have a fair trial of government ownership of all
"That's been proven a failure."
"Noit merely failed. If we had government ownership we'd have the
best analytical business minds in the government working for
something besides themselves. We'd have Mackays instead of
Burlesons; we'd have Morgans in the Treasury Department; we'd
have Hills running interstate commerce. We'd have the best
lawyers in the Senate."
"They wouldn't give their best efforts for nothing. McAdoo"
"No," said Amory, shaking his head. "Money isn't the only
stimulus that brings out the best that's in a man, even in
"You said a while ago that it was."
"It is, right now. But if it were made illegal to have more than
a certain amount the best men would all flock for the one other
reward which attracts humanityhonor."
The big man made a sound that was very like boo.
"That's the silliest thing you've said yet."
"No, it isn't silly. It's quite plausible. If you'd gone to
college you'd have been struck by the fact that the men there
would work twice as hard for any one of a hundred petty honors as
those other men did who were earning their way through."
"Kidschild's play!" scoffed his antagonist.
"Not by a darned sightunless we're all children. Did you ever see
a grown man when he's trying for a secret societyor a rising
family whose name is up at some club? They'll jump when they hear
the sound of the word. The idea that to make a man work you've
got to hold gold in front of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom.
We've done that for so long that we've forgotten there's any
other way. We've made a world where that's necessary. Let me tell
you"Amory became emphatic"if there were ten men insured against
either wealth or starvation, and offered a green ribbon for five
hours' work a day and a blue ribbon for ten hours' work a day,
nine out of ten of them would be trying for the blue ribbon. That
competitive instinct only wants a badge. If the size of their
house is the badge they'll sweat their heads off for that. If
it's only a blue ribbon, I damn near believe they'll work just as
hard. They have in other ages."
"I don't agree with you."
"I know it," said Amory nodding sadly. "It doesn't matter any
more though. I think these people are going to come and take what
they want pretty soon."
A fierce hiss came from the little man.
"Ah, but you've taught them their use."
The big man shook his head.
"In this country there are enough property owners not to permit
that sort of thing."
Amory wished he knew the statistics of property owners and
non-property owners; he decided to change the subject.
But the big man was aroused.
"When you talk of 'taking things away,' you're on dangerous
"How can they get it without taking it? For years people have
been stalled off with promises. Socialism may not be progress,
but the threat of the red flag is certainly the inspiring force
of all reform. You've got to be sensational to get attention."
"Russia is your example of a beneficent violence, I suppose?"
"Quite possibly," admitted Amory. "Of course, it's overflowing
just as the French Revolution did, but I've no doubt that it's
really a great experiment and well worth while."
"Don't you believe in moderation?"
"You won't listen to the moderates, and it's almost too late. The
truth is that the public has done one of those startling and
amazing things that they do about once in a hundred years.
They've seized an idea."
"What is it?"
"That however the brains and abilities of men may differ, their
stomachs are essentially the same."
THE LITTLE MAN GETS HIS
"If you took all the money in the world," said the little man
with much profundity, "and divided it up in equ"
"Oh, shut up!" said Amory briskly and, paying no attention to the
little man's enraged stare, he went on with his argument.
"The human stomach" he began; but the big man interrupted rather
"I'm letting you talk, you know," he said, "but please avoid
stomachs. I've been feeling mine all day. Anyway, I don't agree
with one-half you've said. Government ownership is the basis of
your whole argument, and it's invariably a beehive of corruption.
Men won't work for blue ribbons, that's all rot."
When he ceased the little man spoke up with a determined nod, as
if resolved this time to have his say out.
"There are certain things which are human nature," he asserted
with an owl-like look, "which always have been and always will
be, which can't be changed."
Amory looked from the small man to the big man helplessly.
"Listen to that! That's what makes me discouraged with progress.
Listen to that! I can name offhand over one hundred natural
phenomena that have been changed by the will of mana hundred
instincts in man that have been wiped out or are now held in
check by civilization. What this man here just said has been for
thousands of years the last refuge of the associated mutton-heads
of the world. It negates the efforts of every scientist,
statesman, moralist, reformer, doctor, and philosopher that ever
gave his life to humanity's service. It's a flat impeachment of
all that's worth while in human nature. Every person over
twenty-five years old who makes that statement in cold blood
ought to be deprived of the franchise."
The little man leaned back against the seat, his face purple with
rage. Amory continued, addressing his remarks to the big man.
"These quarter-educated, stale-minded men such as your friend
here, who think they think, every question that comes up, you'll
find his type in the usual ghastly muddle. One minute it's 'the
brutality and inhumanity of these Prussians'the next it's 'we
ought to exterminate the whole German people.' They always
believe that 'things are in a bad way now,' but they 'haven't any
faith in these idealists.' One minute they call Wilson 'just a
dreamer, not practical'a year later they rail at him for making
his dreams realities. They haven't clear logical ideas on one
single subject except a sturdy, stolid opposition to all change.
They don't think uneducated people should be highly paid, but
they won't see that if they don't pay the uneducated people their
children are going to be uneducated too, and we're going round
and round in a circle. Thatis the great middle class!"
The big man with a broad grin on his face leaned over and smiled
at the little man.
"You're catching it pretty heavy, Garvin; how do you feel?"
The little man made an attempt to smile and act as if the whole
matter were so ridiculous as to be beneath notice. But Amory was
"The theory that people are fit to govern themselves rests on
this man. If he can be educated to think clearly, concisely, and
logically, freed of his habit of taking refuge in platitudes and
prejudices and sentimentalisms, then I'm a militant Socialist. If
he can't, then I don't think it matters much what happens to man
or his systems, now or hereafter."
"I am both interested and amused," said the big man. "You are
"Which may only mean that I have neither been corrupted nor made
timid by contemporary experience. I possess the most valuable
experience, the experience of the race, for in spite of going to
college I've managed to pick up a good education."
"You talk glibly."
"It's not all rubbish," cried Amory passionately. "This is the
first time in my life I've argued Socialism. It's the only
panacea I know. I'm restless. My whole generation is restless.
I'm sick of a system where the richest man gets the most
beautiful girl if he wants her, where the artist without an
income has to sell his talents to a button manufacturer. Even if
I had no talents I'd not be content to work ten years, condemned
either to celibacy or a furtive indulgence, to give some man's
son an automobile."
"But, if you're not sure"
"That doesn't matter," exclaimed Amory. "My position couldn't be
worse. A social revolution might land me on top. Of course I'm
selfish. It seems to me I've been a fish out of water in too many
outworn systems. I was probably one of the two dozen men in my
class at college who got a decent education; still they'd let any
well-tutored flathead play football and I was ineligible, because
some silly old men thought we should all profit by conic
sections. I loathed the army. I loathed business. I'm in love
with change and I've killed my conscience"
"So you'll go along crying that we must go faster."
"That, at least, is true," Amory insisted. "Reform won't catch up
to the needs of civilization unless it's made to. A laissez-faire
policy is like spoiling a child by saying he'll turn out all
right in the end. He will if he's made to."
"But you don't believe all this Socialist patter you talk."
"I don't know. Until I talked to you I hadn't thought seriously
about it. I wasn't sure of half of what I said."
"You puzzle me," said the big man, "but you're all alike. They
say Bernard Shaw, in spite of his doctrines, is the most exacting
of all dramatists about his royalties. To the last farthing."
"Well," said Amory, "I simply state that I'm a product of a
versatile mind in a restless generationwith every reason to throw
my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart,
I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a
stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against
tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones.
I've thought I was right about life at various times, but faith
is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't a seeking for the
grail it may be a damned amusing game."
For a minute neither spoke and then the big man asked:
"What was your university?"
The big man became suddenly interested; the expression of his
goggles altered slightly.
"I sent my son to Princeton."
"Perhaps you knew him. His name was Jesse Ferrenby. He was killed
last year in France."
"I knew him very well. In fact, he was one of my particular
"He wasaquite a fine boy. We were very close."
Amory began to perceive a resemblance between the father and the
dead son and he told himself that there had been all along a
sense of familiarity. Jesse Ferrenby, the man who in college had
borne off the crown that he had aspired to. It was all so far
away. What little boys they had been, working for blue ribbons
The car slowed up at the entrance to a great estate, ringed
around by a huge hedge and a tall iron fence.
"Won't you come in for lunch?"
Amory shook his head.
The big man held out his hand. Amory saw that the fact that he
had known Jesse more than outweighed any disfavor he had created
by his opinions. What ghosts were people with which to work! Even
the little man insisted on shaking hands.
"Good-by!" shouted Mr. Ferrenby, as the car turned the corner and
started up the drive. "Good luck to you and bad luck to your
"Same to you, sir," cried Amory, smiling and waving his hand.
"OUT OF THE FIRE, OUT OF THE LITTLE ROOM"
Eight hours from Princeton Amory sat down by the Jersey roadside
and looked at the frost-bitten country. Nature as a rather coarse
phenomenon composed largely of flowers that, when closely
inspected, appeared moth-eaten, and of ants that endlessly
traversed blades of grass, was always disillusioning; nature
represented by skies and waters and far horizons was more
likable. Frost and the promise of winter thrilled him now, made
him think of a wild battle between St. Regis and Groton, ages
ago, seven years agoand of an autumn day in France twelve months
before when he had lain in tall grass, his platoon flattened down
close around him, waiting to tap the shoulders of a Lewis gunner.
He saw the two pictures together with somewhat the same primitive
exaltationtwo games he had played, differing in quality of
acerbity, linked in a way that differed them from Rosalind or the
subject of labyrinths which were, after all, the business of
"I am selfish," he thought.
"This is not a quality that will change when I 'see human
suffering' or 'lose my parents' or 'help others.'
"This selfishness is not only part of me. It is the most living
"It is by somehow transcending rather than by avoiding that
selfishness that I can bring poise and balance into my life.
"There is no virtue of unselfishness that I cannot use. I can
make sacrifices, be charitable, give to a friend, endure for a
friend, lay down my life for a friendall because these things may
be the best possible expression of myself; yet I have not one
drop of the milk of human kindness."
The problem of evil had solidified for Amory into the problem of
sex. He was beginning to identify evil with the strong phallic
worship in Brooke and the early Wells. Inseparably linked with
evil was beautybeauty, still a constant rising tumult; soft in
Eleanor's voice, in an old song at night, rioting deliriously
through life like superimposed waterfalls, half rhythm, half
darkness. Amory knew that every time he had reached toward it
longingly it had leered out at him with the grotesque face of
evil. Beauty of great art, beauty of all joy, most of all the
beauty of women.
After all, it had too many associations with license and
indulgence. Weak things were often beautiful, weak things were
never good. And in this new loneness of his that had been
selected for what greatness he might achieve, beauty must be
relative or, itself a harmony, it would make only a discord.
In a sense this gradual renunciation of beauty was the second
step after his disillusion had been made complete. He felt that
he was leaving behind him his chance of being a certain type of
artist. It seemed so much more important to be a certain sort of
His mind turned a corner suddenly and he found himself thinking
of the Catholic Church. The idea was strong in him that there was
a certain intrinsic lack in those to whom orthodox religion was
necessary, and religion to Amory meant the Church of Rome. Quite
conceivably it was an empty ritual but it was seemingly the only
assimilative, traditionary bulwark against the decay of morals.
Until the great mobs could be educated into a moral sense some
one must cry: "Thou shalt not!" Yet any acceptance was, for the
present, impossible. He wanted time and the absence of ulterior
pressure. He wanted to keep the tree without ornaments, realize
fully the direction and momentum of this new start.
The afternoon waned from the purging good of three o'clock to the
golden beauty of four. Afterward he walked through the dull ache
of a setting sun when even the clouds seemed bleeding and at
twilight he came to a graveyard. There was a dusky, dreamy smell
of flowers and the ghost of a new moon in the sky and shadows
everywhere. On an impulse he considered trying to open the door
of a rusty iron vault built into the side of a hill; a vault
washed clean and covered with late-blooming, weepy watery-blue
flowers that might have grown from dead eyes, sticky to the touch
with a sickening odor.
Amory wanted to feel "William Dayfield, 1864."
He wondered that graves ever made people consider life in vain.
Somehow he could find nothing hopeless in having lived. All the
broken columns and clasped hands and doves and angels meant
romances. He fancied that in a hundred years he would like having
young people speculate as to whether his eyes were brown or blue,
and he hoped quite passionately that his grave would have about
it an air of many, many years ago. It seemed strange that out of
a row of Union soldiers two or three made him think of dead loves
and dead lovers, when they were exactly like the rest, even to
the yellowish moss.
visible, with here and there a late-burning lightand suddenly out
of the clear darkness the sound of bells. As an endless dream it
went on; the spirit of the past brooding over a new generation,
the chosen youth from the muddled, unchastened world, still fed
romantically on the mistakes and half-forgotten dreams of dead
statesmen and poets. Here was a new generation, shouting the old
cries, learning the old creeds, through a revery of long days and
nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil
to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than
the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown
up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man
Amory, sorry for them, was still not sorry for himselfart,
politics, religion, whatever his medium should be, he knew he was
safe now, free from all hysteriahe could accept what was
acceptable, roam, grow, rebel, sleep deep through many nights....
There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still in
riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost
youthyet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his
soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of
old ambitions and unrealized dreams. Butoh, Rosalind!
"It's all a poor substitute at best," he said sadly.
And he could not tell why the struggle was worth while, why he
had determined to use to the utmost himself and his heritage from
the personalities he had passed....
He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky.
"I know myself," he cried, "but that is all."
End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of This Side of Paradise*****
this incident horrified Beatrice, it also secretly amused her and
with 'em before they get there?" He was encouraging a faint hope
as a summer lake when she answered her mother.
All through the summer months Amory and Frog Parker went each
visions." She pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes. "I
"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you
The last scene was laid on a roof-garden, and the 'cellos sighed
"Ted Converse? 'At's easy. He'll fail his exams, tutor all summer
"You're not thin."
Princeton of the daytime filtered slowly into his
Amory glanced through the issue.
By and by Amory's eyes wandered curiously to his fellow-luncher's
she had expected him to be dark and of garter-advertisement
his train left at twelve-eighteen that night. His trunk and
him. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god. He
They rode into Princeton as the sun was making colored maps of
"Registrar's Office," and weighed it nervously.
holdings. In fact, Beatrice wrote that she was putting the money
thing now is to collect some new ones, and the farther you look
Fred, who was just sitting down.
Sloane looked at him in amazement.
"Everything. I have to pick and choose, of course, but mostly
ridicule. Every one who knew him liked himbut what he stood for
"He's evil, I think, yet he's strong and sane."
dreamt that it had come true and woke up in a cold panic, for in
She did not answer.
I have written a keen for you which follows. I am sorry your
And so we linger on the windless decks,
But usyou and me and Alecoh, we'll get a Jap butler and dress for
ALEC: So that's where you all are! Amory Blaine is here.
ROSALIND: Honestly, there are only two costumes in the world that
AMORY: My dance.
ALEC: Hi, Amory!
AMORY: Come over here and kiss me.
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory
Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.
with The New Democracy.
FOR YEARS AFTERWARD when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still
Amory and Eleanor, dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal
wretchedest thing of all is meoh, why am I a girl? Why am I not a
"My horse dead?"
There was a summer every rain was rare;
The silence of the theatre behind him ended with a curious
to repeat her girlhoodshe wants to repeat her honeymoon. I don't
Amory smiled a bit.
entrance of the labyrinth.
"Of course not," said the secretary indignantly.
of you fellows."
"Thank you, Mr. Ferrenby, but I've got to get on."
Long after midnight the towers and spires of Princeton were