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There's little comfort in the wise. Rupert Brooke.
Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes. Oscar Wilde.
BOOK ONE: The Romantic Egotist
BOOK TWO: The Education of a Personage
BOOK ONE 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 understand her.
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 Convent-an educational extravagance that in her youth was only
for the daughters of the exceptionally wealthy-showed the exquisite delicacy of her features, the consummate
art and simplicity of her clothes. A brilliant education she had her -youth 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 perfect bud.
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. "Amory."
"Yes, Beatrice." (Such a quaint name for his mother; she encouraged it.)
"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."
"All right."
"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 sunshine."
Amory's penetrating green eyes would look out through tangled hair at his mother. Even at this age he had no
illusions about her.
"Oh, yes."
"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 this incident horrified Beatrice, it also secretly amused her and became part of what in a later
generation would have been termed her "line."
"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 hand 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 of ex-Westerners.
"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-they 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 dissimilar."
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
"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 me."
Amory became thirteen, rather tall and slender, and more than ever on to his Celtic mother. He had tutored
occasionally-the 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.
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.
Yours truly,
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:
"Aw-I 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 skates.
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
Thursday evening.
Amory Blaine.
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 protection.
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 that-as 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 him coldly.
"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, Amory."
"'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.
"Your uncle?"alarm.
"Oh, no just 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 bobs before it gets to the Minnehaha Club,
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 sighed aloud.
"What?" inquired Myra.
"Nothing. I was just yawning. Are we going to surely catch up with 'em before they get there?" He was
encouraging a faint hope 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.
"Why yes sure."
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 gasp.
"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
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 vaguely improper.
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 that?"
He shook his head.
"Nobody cares."
Myra hesitated.
"I care."
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
"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
"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 looks good."
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 the chaperon."
"You're such a funny boy," puzzled Myra.
"How d'y' mean?" Amory gave immediate attention, on his own ground at last.
"Oh always 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 boy the little fire the 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 pause.
"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
"I hate you!" she cried. "Don't you ever dare to speak to me again!"
"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 aware.
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 as a summer lake when she answered her mother.
"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."
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 emotional acting.
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 Mathewson.
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 superficially clever.
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. All through the summer months Amory and Frog Parker went each 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
"Don't embarrass me," murmured Amory.
"But, my dear boy, what odd clothes! They look as if they were a set don't they? Is your underwear purple,
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 chauffeurs.
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 tàte-`-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, gallant feat.
"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 Parker.
"Yes," continued Beatrice tragically, "I had dreams wonderful visions." She pressed the palms of her hands
into her eyes. "I 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 trumpets what?"
Amory had snickered.
"What, Amory?"
"I said go on, Beatrice."
"That was allit merely recurred and recurred gardens that flaunted coloring against which this would be quite
dull, moons that whirled and swayed, paler than winter moons, more golden than harvest moons"
"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 understood."
Amory was quite moved. He put his arm around his mother, rubbing his head gently against her shoulder.
"Poor Beatrice poor 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 to, Beatrice."
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 itself."
"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 Japanese invasion.
"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 who?"
"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
"Dear Beatrice"
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 sight the 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 conversation.
"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 school St. Regis's, you know."
"So your mother says a remarkable woman; have a cigarette I'm sure you smoke. Well, if you're like me, you
loathe all science and mathematics"
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."
"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you so early. You'll find plenty of that in
"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." Monsignor chuckled.
"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. "That's it."
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
"I was for Bonnie Prince Charlie," announced Amory.
"Of course you were and 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 scholastic heaven 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."
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." "Yes, sir."
"I've noticed you this year and I like you. I think you have in you the makings of a a 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.
"Ah I thought you might not understand exactly what it was they ah objected to. I'm going to tell you, because
I believe ah that when a boy knows his difficulties he's better able to cope with them to conform to what
others expect of him." He a-hemmed again with delicate reticence, and continued: "They seem to think that
you're ah rather 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'm I've got to go back now hope 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
"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."
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. "Oh you wonderful girl, What a wonderful girl you are"
sang the tenor, and Amory agreed silently, but passionately. "All your wonderful words 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!
The last scene was laid on a roof-garden, and the 'cellos sighed 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 that better, 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 hear:
"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
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," continued Paskert.
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 forenoon.
"Yes, sir, I'd marry that girl to-night!"
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.
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 contemptible weaknesses.
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 languid interest.
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 you."
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.
"Ted Converse? 'At's easy. He'll fail his exams, tutor all summer 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." "I'm not."
"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 of it.
"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 school."
"You're not a slicker," said Amory suddenly.
"A what?"
"A slicker."
"What the devil's that?"
"Well, it's something that that there'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?"
Amory considered.
"Why why, I suppose that the sign of it is when a fellow slicks his hair back with water."
"Like Carstairs?"
"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 concealed.
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 superficial but 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.
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.
BOOK ONE 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 they strolled.
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?"
"Why yes."
"Bacon bun?"
"Why yes."
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.
"Come in!"
A slim face with gray eyes and a humorous smile appeared in the doorway.
"Got a hammer?"
"No sorry. Maybe Mrs. Twelve, or whatever she goes by, has one."
The stranger advanced into the room.
"You an inmate of this asylum?"
Amory nodded.
"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?"
"Andover where did you?"
"St. Regis's."
"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."
"All right."
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 home.
"I hear Commons is pretty bad," said Amory.
"That's the rumor. But you've got to eat thereor pay anyways." "Crime!"
"Oh, at Princeton you've got to swallow everything the first year. It's like a damned prep school."
Amory agreed.
"Lot of pep, though," he insisted. "I wouldn't have gone to Yale for a million."
"Me either."
"You going out for anything?" inquired Amory of the elder brother.
"Not me Burne here is going out for the Prince the Daily Princetonian, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"You going out for anything?"
"Why-yes. 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 thin."
"You're not thin."
"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-baby-you're so big and strong, but oh, so gentle!"
"Oh, Clinch!"
"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.
"Oh-h-h-h-h She works in a Jam Factoree Andthat-may-be-all-right But you can't-fool-me For I
know-DAMN-WELL That she DON'T-make-jam-all-night! Oh-h-h-h!"
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 tolerant
"Want a sundaeI mean a jigger?" asked Kerry.
They suppered heavily and then, still sauntering, eased back to
"Wonderful night."
"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
"Going backgoing back, Going-back-to-Nas-sau-Hall, Going backgoing back- To the-Best-Old-Place-of-All.
Going back-going back, From all-this-earth-ly-ball, We'll-clear-the-track-as-we-go-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 harmony.
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
Princeton of the daytime filtered slowly into his 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 towers.
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 almost strong.
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 situation.
"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 beneath it.
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
"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."
"Well-go 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."
Amory glanced through the issue.
"Hello!" he said in surprise, "he's a freshman, isn't he?" "Yeah."
"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, come-come 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 slicker."
"Why decide?" suggested Kerry. "Better drift, like me. I'm going to sail into prominence on Burne's
"I can't drift-I 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
"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 practice."
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 lately-Farmington and Dobbs and Westover and Dana Hall-what's the idea?" Amory
"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 you-go home furious-come back in half
an hour-startle '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 failed completely.
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.
By and by Amory's eyes wandered curiously to his fellow-luncher's 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-`a-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 embarrassment.
"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 man-don't you know?"
"Oh, surely." A faint chord was struck in Amory's memory. "Wasn't the comic opera, 'Patience,' written about
"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 books."
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 next table.
"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
"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 and Boswell."
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.
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 perception.
"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 on-awake. 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, ponies-how about easing up on that crap game and shaking a mean hip?"
"Hey, ponies!"
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 thing.
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 mothers-and most of the mothers were Victorian-had 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 find her.
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 frank-we'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 deserve it?"
"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. D.'s.
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 dressing-room.
"I'm ready." She caught a slight lump of nervousness in her throat.
"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
"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 your eyes."
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're-you're considered beautiful and all that"she paused"and I guess he knows you've been
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 below.
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 she had expected
him to be dark and of garter-advertisement 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 of.
During this inspection Amory was quietly watching.
"Don't you think so?" she said suddenly, turning to him, innocent-eyed.
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 other."
Isabelle gasped-this 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 Froggy:
"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.
"How-from whom?"
"From everybody-for 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.
"Oh-what?" Isabelle's face was a study in enraptured curiosity. Amory shook his head.
"I don't know you very well yet."
"Will you tell me-afterward?" she half whispered.
He nodded.
"We'll sit out."
Isabelle nodded.
"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.
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."
Amory laughed.
"He dances as if the girl were on his back instead of in his arms."
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 stage-nay, more, a very critical stage. Amory had stayed over a
day to see her, and his train left at twelve-eighteen that night. His trunk 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, Isabelle-this sounds like a line,
but it isn't." "I know," said Isabelle softly.
"Maybe we'll never meet again like this-I 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 again-silly."
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 people-girls-and I guess you have, too-boys, I mean, but, honestly, you" he broke off
suddenly and leaned forward, chin on his hands: "Oh, what's the use-you'll go your way and I suppose I'll go
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 I'll understand 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 care-do 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 we-if I could only just have one
thing to remember you by-"
"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 ever?
"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 unorthodox remarks.
"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 wonder.
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
"Hi, Dibby-'gratulations!"
"Goo' boy, Tom, you got a good bunch in Cap."
"Say, Kerry"
"Oh, KerryI hear you went Tiger with all the weight-lifters!" "Well, I didn't go Cottage-the parlor-snakes'
"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 bicycle-afraid it was a mistake."
"How'd you get into Cap-you 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 window.
"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 coast"
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."
"Money-what'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, quick-I 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 forth."
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
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 smoked quietly.
"What's the bill?"
Some one scanned it.
"Eight twenty-five."
"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 Ganymede.
"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 walked out.
"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 test."
"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"
him. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god. He 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 nonchalantly.
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 the sea.
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."
"Me, too."
"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
"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 it's so hard to write you what I really fell when I think about you so much; you've gotten to mean to me a
dream that I can't put on paper any more. Your last letter came and it was wonderful! I read it over about six
times, especially the last part, but I do wish, sometimes, you'd be more frank and tell me what you really do
think of me, yet your last letter was too good to be true, and I can hardly wait until June! Be cure and be able
to come to the prom. It"ll be fine, I think, and I want to bring you just at the end of a wonderful year. I often
think over what you said on that night and wonder how much you ment. If it were anyone but you-but you see
I thought you were fickle the first time I say you and you are so popular and everthing that I can't imagine you
really liking me best.
...Oh, Isabelle, dear-it'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 perfect....
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 me-same 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 type!"
"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
"You consider you taught me that, don't you?" he asked quizzically, eying Amory in the half dark.
Amory laughed quietly.
"Didn't I?"
"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 that-been
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 ride back.
"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 passed.
"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."
They rode into Princeton as the sun was making colored maps of 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.
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 blue....
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 dead."
"My God!"
"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 hair-that hair ... and then they turned the
form over.
"It's Dick-Dick Humbird!"
"Oh, Christ!"
"Feel his heart!"
Then the insistent voice of the old crone in a sort of croaking triumph:
"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 use."
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 much-then there was this damn curve-oh, 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 childhood.
"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
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 fella."
"Well, the next one?"
"What-a-her-I swear I've got to go cut in-look me up when she's got a dance free."
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 softly.
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.
BOOK ONE The Romantic Egotist
The Egotist Considers
"OUCH! Let me go!"
He dropped his arms to his sides.
"What's the matter?"
"Your shirt stud-it hurt me-look!" She was looking down at her neck, where a little blue spot about the size of
a pea marred its pallor.
"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 second."
"It isn't," she said, after a moment of concentrated gazing, "it's still there-and 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 to laugh.
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 do?"
A quotation sailed into his head and he couldn't resist repeating it aloud.
"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 ice.
"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 her mouth.
"Oh, shut up!" she cried suddenly, and fled down the hallway toward her room. Amory stood there, covered
with remorseful confusion.
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 up."
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?"
"You did."
"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 kiss-or-or-nothing. It isn't as if you were refusing on moral grounds."
She hesitated.
"I really don't know what to think about you," she began, in a feeble, perverse attempt at conciliation. "You're
so funny." "How?"
"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
"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."
"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 cared-how 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 thinking, thinking!
"Damn her!" he said bitterly, "she's spoiled my year!"
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 be?"
Langueduc lazily shifts his six-foot-three of football material and tries to concentrate.
"Oh-ah-I'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 bet-I 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 again."
"Gladly. Now here's 'A'..."
The room was a study in stupidity-two 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
"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 Senior Council.
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
"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 "Registrar's Office," and weighed it nervously.
"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.
"No-something 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 comeback."
"No-I'm throughas far as ever being a power in college is concerned."
"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 broke."
"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
"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 earliest years:
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 again:
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 been consulted.
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 holdings. In fact, Beatrice wrote that she was putting the money 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 sensible
"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. Affectionately, MOTHER."
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 cigar.
"I've felt like leaving college, Monsignor."
"All my career's gone up in smoke; you think it's petty and all that, but"
"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 last."
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 year."
"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 personages."
"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 helpless!"
"That's certainly an idea."
"Now you've a clean start-a 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 thing now is to collect some new
ones, and the farther you look ahead in the collecting the better. But remember, do the next thing!"
"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 groove.
"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 your
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 Tradition.
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
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.
"Good-morning, Fool... 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?' And '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 Dionysian revellers.
"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 Fred, who was just sitting down.
"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 is he?"
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.
"Where now?"
"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 any food."
Phoebe reappeared with sandwiches, brandy bottle, siphon, and four glasses.
"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
"Well, look at Amory! Poor old Amory's sickold head going 'round?"
"Look at that man!" cried Amory, pointing toward the corner divan.
"You mean that purple zebra!" shrieked Axia facetiously. "Ooo-ee! Amory's got a purple zebra watching
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 worms....
"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.
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 footfalls.
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 Dick Humbird.
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.
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!"
Sloane looked at him in amazement.
"What do you mean?"
"This street, it's ghastly! Come on! let's get back to the Avenue!"
"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 stream.
"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 him.
"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 trouble."
"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 Rupert Brooke."
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 me!"
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
BOOK ONE 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 commence.
"Heard the latest?" said Tom, coming in late one drizzly evening with that triumphant air he always wore after
a successful conversational bout.
"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."
"Actual fact!"
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 him."
"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 resign?"
"Call it a fourth and be safe."
"Lord-who'd have thought it possible!"
There was a brisk knock at the door, and Burne himself came in. "Hello, Amory-hello, Tom."
Amory rose.
"'Evening, Burne. Don't mind if I seem to rush; I'm going to Renwick's."
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." "Read what?"
"Everything. I have to pick and choose, of course, but mostly 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 sacrifice.
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 clay feet.
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 role.
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 game.
Jesse Ferrenby had brought her to a smaller game a few weeks before, and had pressed Burne into serviceto
the ruination of the latter's misogyny.
"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
her-that's the real trouble."
"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 time.
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 whispering:
"Phyllis Styles must be awfully hard up to have to come with those two."
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: ridicule. Every one who knew him liked himbut what he
stood for (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 snowed under.
"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 coming."
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 Christianity.'"
"I do-I 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 celebrities-Tolstoi, Whitman, Carpenter, and
"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
do-I'm a regular fool about it."
"That's useless, you know."
"Quite possibly."
"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 subject.
"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; don't
"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 in."
"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?" "Well?"
"He's evil, I think, yet he's strong and sane."
"I've never met him. I'll bet, though, that he's stupid or insane."
"I've met him over and over and he's neither. That's why I think you're wrong."
"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 odd."
"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 do-be 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 recitation.
"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?"
"No-but he's got me all balled up. Either I've misjudged him or he's suddenly become the world's worst
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, Jesse."
"Hello there, Savonarola."
"I just read your editorial."
"Good boy-didn't know you stooped that low."
"Jesse, you startled me."
"How so?"
"Aren't you afraid the faculty'll get after you if you pull this irreligious stuff?"
"Like this morning."
"What the devil-that editorial was on the coaching system." "Yes, but that quotation"
Jesse sat up.
"What quotation?"
"You know: 'He who is not with me is against me.'"
"Well-what 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 generalities.'"
"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 waste-basket.
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 Isabelle.
He found a blank space on his programme, and began to scribble rapidly:
"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. "Yes-but 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, too-the 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!" "Say, Alec."
"Does it bother you?"
"Does what bother me?"
"My acting dazed and all that?"
"Why, no-of 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
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 o'clock.
"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 to Adam.
"Tell me about yourself." And she gave the answer that Adam must have given.
"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 sentence.
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 dreamt that it had come true and woke up
in a cold panic, for in 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?" Clara hesitated.
"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 conceited?"
"Well-no, you have tremendous vanity, but it'll amuse the people who notice its preponderance."
"I see."
"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 to high-balls."
"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 biassed."
"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 Darcy.
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
stained-glass light.
"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 must speak.
"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 matter.
"Nothing," she said slowly, "only this: five men have said that to me before, and it frightens me."
"Oh, Clara, is that your fate!"
She did not answer.
"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 you?"
"It was the twilight," he said wonderingly. "I didn't feel as though I were speaking aloud. But I love youor
adore youor worship you-"
"There you gorunning through your catalogue of emotions in five seconds."
He smiled unwillingly.
"Don't make me out such a light-weight, Clara; you are depressing sometimes."
"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 nay."
"There's so much spring in the air-there'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 month."
And then that wonderful girl and Amory raced to the corner like two mad children gone wild with pale-blue
"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.
"No-you'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
"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 gold..."
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 aliens-Greeks, 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 subjective ideal.
"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"
"Very well."
"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 worst"
"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."
"Go on."
"That's all-this is my particular duty. Even if right now I'm just a pawnjust sacrificed. God! Amoryyou don't
think I like the Germans!"
"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 Pennsylvania.
"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 disguise?"
"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
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 again.
"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 'Cathay.'"
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 before..."
Well, anyway....
"You met your children in your home'I've fixed it up!" you cried, Took your fifty years of Europe, and then
"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 waste."
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 note-book.
"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."
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 sense."
"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 magnificence."
"God! Haven't we raked the universe over the coals for four years?"
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 years."
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
For an instant the voices of freshman year surged around them and then they looked at each other with faint
tears in their eyes. "Damn!"
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.
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,
Amory-celibacy 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 splendidrather not!
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 malicious.
I have written a keen for you which follows. I am sorry your 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.
"Ochone 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 Muirtheme.
Awirra sthrue 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. Aveelia Vrone 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 behind him 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. Och Ochone."
Amory-AmoryI 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.
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.
And so we linger on the windless decks, 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 healthy.
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
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 discovered God.
But usyou and me and Alecoh, we'll get a Jap butler and dress for 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,
BOOK TWO The Education of a Personage
The Dibutante
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
her-she 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
ROSALIND: (Outside) What are you doingtrying it on? (CECELIA ceases and goes out carrying the garment
at the right shoulder.
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
ALEC: So that's where you all are! Amory Blaine is here. 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: Yes-nothing queer about him.
ALEC: Good Lord-ask him, he used to have a lot, and he's got some income now.
(MRS. CONNAGE appears.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec, of course we're glad to have any friend of yours
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 hooking me.
(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: Who-Mr. Amory Blaine? (ALEC nods.)
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 prerogative.
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 honesty-these 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 qualification-her 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.
ROSALIND: Honestly, there are only two costumes in the world that 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. CECELIA: Ha!
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 you do.
ROSALIND: Sometimes when I've felt particularly radiant I've thought, why should this be wasted on one
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 engaged.
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 wit-good-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
SHE: I'm going to call you Amoryoh, come init's all right-mother'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 you-you(pause)
SHE: Yes-all those things. (She crosses to the bureau.) See, here's my rouge-eye pencils.
HE: I didn't know you were that way.
SHE: What did you expect?
HE: I thought you'd be sort ofsort of-sexless, you know, swim and play golf.
SHE: Oh, I dobut not in business hours.
HE: Business?
SHE: Six to two-strictly.
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 a year.
HE: (Disapprovingly) Sort of a chilly proposition.
SHE: Well, Amory, you don't mind-do you? When I meet a man that doesn't bore me to death after two
weeks, perhaps it'll be different.
HE: Odd, you have the same point of view on men that I have on women.
SHE: I'm not really feminine, you knowin my mind.
HE: (Interested) Go on.
SHE: No, you-you go onyou've made me talk about myself. That's against the rules.
HE: 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.)
SHE: Liar.
HE: I'm-I'm religious-I'm literary. I've-I've even written poems.
SHE: Vers libre-splendid! (She declaims.)
"The trees are green, The birds are singing in the trees, The girl sips her poison The bird flies away the girl
HE: (Laughing) No, not that kind.
SHE: (Suddenly) I like you.
HE: Don't.
SHE: Modest too
HE: I'm afraid of you. I'm always afraid of a girluntil I've kissed her.
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 to ask.
SHE: (Knowing what's coming) After five minutes.
HE: But will you-kiss 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 kiss-definitely and thoroughly.)
HE: (After a breathless second) Well, is your curiosity satisfied?
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 dozens more.
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, Rosalind.
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 alike-except that I'm years older in experience.
SHE: How old are you?
HE: Almost twenty-three. You?
SHE: Nineteen-just.
HE: I suppose you're the product of a fashionable school. SHE: No-I'm fairly raw material. I was expelled
from SpenceI've forgotten why.
HE: What's your general trend?
SHE: Oh, I'm bright, quite selfish, emotional when aroused, fond of admiration
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 my mouth.
HE: It's quite beautiful.
SHE: It's too small.
HE: No it isn't-let'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'so-ther people.
SHE: Let's pretend.
HE: No-I can't-it'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 emotional.
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 argue-kiss 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: Oh!
(He turns.)
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 men.
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
MRS. CONNAGE: I haven't met Mr. Blainebut I don't think you'll care for him. He doesn't sound like a
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 it-out 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 comes.
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 to-night.
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.)
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're-they're Coronas. You don't smoke? What a pity! The king doesn't allow it, I
suppose. Yes, I'll dance.
(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.)
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 fox-trot.
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
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
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
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 play-Victory!
(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
ROSALIND: Is it I haven't seen it lately. I'm weary Do you mind sitting out a minute?
RYDER: Mind-I'm delighted. You know I loathe this "rushing" idea. See a girl yesterday, to-day, to-morrow.
RYDER: What?
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
CECELIA: Good heavens, nowith whom would I begin the next dance? (Sighs.) There's no color in a dance
since the French officers went back.
ALEC: (Thoughtfully) I don't want Amory to fall in love with Rosalind.
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
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.
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
ALEC: (Flippantly) Hadn't you better send the butler through the cellar?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Perfectly serious) Oh, you don't think she'd be there?
CECELIA: He's only joking, mother.
ALEC: Mother had a picture of her tapping a keg of beer with some high hurdler.
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.)
AMORY: My dance.
ROSALIND: Mr. Gillespie, this is Mr. Blaine.
GILLESPIE: I've met Mr. Blaine. From Lake Geneva, aren't you? AMORY: Yes.
GILLESPIE: (Desperately) I've been there. It's in the-the Middle West, isn't it?
AMORY: (Spicily) Approximately. But I always felt that I'd rather be provincial hot-tamale than soup without
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, you know.
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
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 great loves.
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 taste.
(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: Well?
AMORY: (Softly-the battle lost) I love you.
ROSALIND: I love younow.
(They kiss.)
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 you-from the moment I saw you.
ROSALIND: Me too-I-I-oh, 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 go-I don't care who knows what I do.
AMORY: Say it!
ROSALIND: I love you-now. (They part.) Oh-I am very youthful, thank God-and rather beautiful, thank
God-and happy, thank God, thank God (She pauses and then, in an odd burst of prophecy, adds) Poor Amory!
(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 regretted juvenalia.
For the second time in his life Amory had had a complete bouleversement and was hurrying into line with his
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 air.
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 to-day?"
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!"
Tom sighed.
"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 window-quite 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 ...
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 you."
"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
self-and that's enough for me."
"Tell me..."
"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 life-Oh, 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 you-not 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 can mean."
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 eccentric.
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 optimists.
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) Oh-what-oh-Amory-
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 face.) Motherplease
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 in advertising
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 dreamer-merely clever. (She implies that this quality in
itself is rather vicious.)
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.)
ALEC: Hi, Amory!
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 cry-a tearless sobbing.)
AMORY: Rosalind!
ROSALIND: Oh, we're so darned pitiful!
AMORY: Rosalind!
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 it develops.
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 you?
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 Ryder.
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 married-next week.
ROSALIND: We can't.
AMORY: Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, we can't. I'd be your squaw-in some horrible place.
AMORY: We'll have two hundred and seventy-five dollars a month all told.
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 failure.
AMORY: (Grimly) Go on.
ROSALIND: Oh-it is Dawson Ryder. He's so reliable, I almost feel that he'd be a-a background.
AMORY: You don't love him.
ROSALIND: I know, but I respect him, and he's a good man and a strong one.
AMORY: (Grudgingly) Yes-he's that.
ROSALIND: Well-here'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 suffering.
AMORY: What power we have of hurting each other!
ROSALIND: (Commencing to sob again) It's been so perfect-you 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'ti-t won't!
ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memorytucked away in my heart.
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
ROSALIND: No-no-I'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: Come over here and kiss me.
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 somewhere-you'll say Ella Wheeler Wilcox and laugh-but
"For this is wisdom-to 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 yours-you 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.)
AMORY: Rosalind
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 suffering.)
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 summer.
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.
AMORY: Good-by
(She looks at him once more, with infinite longing, infinite sadness.)
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory
AMORY: Good-by
(He goes to the door, fumbles for the knob, finds itshe sees him throw back his headand he is gone. Gone-she
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.)
BOOK TWO 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.
"Well, Amory..."
It was some one he had known at Princeton; he had no idea of the name.
"Hello, old boy" he heard himself saying.
"Name's Jim Wilson-you've forgotten."
"Sure, you bet, Jim. I remember."
"Going to reunion?"
"You know!" Simultaneously he realized that he was not going to reunion.
"Get overseas?"
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 the back.
"You've had plenty, old boy."
Amory eyed him dumbly until Wilson grew embarrassed under the scrutiny.
"Plenty, hell!" said Amory finally. "I haven't had a drink to-day."
Wilson looked incredulous.
"Have a drink or not?" cried Amory rudely.
Together they sought the bar.
"Rye high."
"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 a ghost."
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 chair.
"We'll go over to Shanley's," suggested Carling, offering an elbow.
With this assistance Amory managed to get his legs in motion enough to propel him across Forty-second
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 bed.
"Hello-what 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 forget
"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 sorrow.
"We were so happy," he intoned dramatically, "so very happy." Then he gave way again and knelt beside the
bed, his head half-buried in the pillow.
"My own girl-my own-Oh-"
He clinched his teeth so that the tears streamed in a flood from his eyes.
"Oh ... my baby girl, all I had, all I wanted!... Oh, my girl, come back, come back! I need you ... need you ...
we're so pitiful ... just misery we brought each other.... She'll be shut away from me.... I can't see her; I can't
be her friend. It's got to be that 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 Lethe....
At noon he ran into a crowd in the Biltmore bar, and the riot began again. He had a vague recollection
afterward of discussing French poetry with a British officer who was introduced to him as "Captain Corn, of
his Majesty's Foot," and he remembered attempting to recite "Clair de Lune" at luncheon; then he slept in a
big, soft chair until almost five o'clock when another crowd found and woke him; there followed an alcoholic
dressing of several temperaments for the ordeal of dinner. They selected theatre tickets at Tyson's for a play
that had a four-drink 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
"When? Next year?"
"Now. To-morrow morning. Going to take a room at the Commodore, get into a hot bath and open a vein."
"He's getting morbid!"
"You need another rye, old boy!"
"We'll all talk it over to-morrow."
But Amory was not to be dissuaded, from argument at least. "Did you ever get that way?" he demanded
confidentially fortaccio.
"My chronic state."
This provoked discussion. One man said that he got so depressed sometimes that he seriously considered it.
Another agreed that there was nothing to live for. "Captain Corn," who had somehow rejoined the party, said
that in his opinion it was when one's health was bad that one felt that way most. Amory's suggestion was that
they should each order a Bronx, mix broken glass in it, and drink it off. To his relief no one applauded the
idea, so having finished his high-ball, he balanced his chin in his hand and his elbow on the tablea most
delicate, scarcely noticeable sleeping position, he assured himselfand went into a deep stupor....
He was awakened by a woman clinging to him, a pretty woman, with brown, disarranged hair and dark blue
"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 butting in!"
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 beautiful eyes.
Some one leaned over and spoke in Amory's ear.
"That's just Margaret Diamond. She's drunk and this fellow here brought her. Better let her go."
"Let him take care of her, then!" shouted Amory furiously. "I'm no W. Y. C. A. worker, am I?am I?"
"Let her go!"
"It's her hanging on, damn it! Let her hang!"
The crowd around the table thickened. For an instant a brawl threatened, but a sleek waiter bent back
Margaret Diamond's fingers until she released her hold on Amory, whereupon she slapped the waiter furiously
in the face and flung her arms about her raging original escort.
"Oh, Lord!" cried Amory.
"Let's go!"
"Come on, the taxis are getting scarce!"
"Check, waiter."
"C'mon, Amory. Your romance is over."
Amory laughed.
"You don't know how true you spoke. No idea. 'At's the whole trouble."
Two mornings later he knocked at the president's door at Bascome and Barlow's advertising agency.
"Come in!"
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."
"Well-well-this is"
"I don't like it here."
"I'm sorry. I thought our relations had been quite-ah-pleasant. You seemed to be a hard workera little inclined
perhaps to write fancy copy"
"I just got tired of it," interrupted Amory rudely. "It didn't matter a damn to me whether Harebell's flour was
any better than any one else's. In fact, I never ate any of it. So I got tired of telling people about it-oh, I know
I've been drinking" Mr. Barlow's face steeled by several ingots of expression.
"You asked for a position"
Amory waved him to silence.
"And I think I was rottenly underpaid. Thirty-five dollars a weekless than a good carpenter."
"You had just started. You'd never worked before," said Mr. Barlow coolly.
"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
Four days after that he returned at last to the apartment. Tom was engaged on a book review for The New
Democracy on the staff of which he was employed. They regarded each other for a moment in silence.
"Good Lord, Amory, where'd you get the black eyeand the jaw?" Amory laughed.
"That's a mere nothing."
He peeled off his coat and bared his shoulders.
"Look here!"
Tom emitted a low whistle.
"What hit you?"
Amory laughed again.
"Oh, a lot of people. I got beaten up. Fact." He slowly replaced his shirt. "It was bound to come sooner or later
and I wouldn't have missed it for anything."
"Who was it?"
"Well, there were some waiters and a couple of sailors and a few stray pedestrians, I guess. It's the strangest
feeling. You ought to get beaten up just for the experience of it. You fall down after a while and everybody
sort of slashes in at you before you hit the ground-then they 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.
"Too bad."
"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
"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. "Hi, Amory!"
"What'll you have?"
"Yo-ho! Waiter!"
The advent of prohibition with the "thirsty-first" put a sudden stop to the submerging of Amory's sorrows, and
when he awoke one morning to find that the old bar-to-bar days were over, he had neither remorse for the past
three weeks nor regret that their repetition was impossible. He had taken the most violent, if the weakest,
method to shield himself from the stabs of memory, and while it was not a course he would have prescribed
for others, he found in the end that it had done its business: he was over the first flush of pain.
Don't misunderstand! Amory had loved Rosalind as he would never love another living person. She had taken
the first flush of his youth and brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had surprised him,
gentleness and unselfishness that he had never given to another creature. He had later love-affairs, but of a
different sort: in those he went back to that, perhaps, more typical frame of mind, in which the girl became the
mirror of a mood in him. Rosalind had drawn out what was more than passionate admiration; he had a deep,
undying affection for Rosalind. But there had been, near the end, so much dramatic tragedy, culminating in
the arabesque nightmare of his three weeks' spree, that he was emotionally worn out. The people and
surroundings that he remembered as being cool or delicately artificial, seemed to promise him a refuge. He
wrote a cynical story which featured his father's funeral and despatched it to a magazine, receiving in return a
check for sixty dollars and a request for more of the same tone. This tickled his vanity, but inspired him to no
further effort.
He read enormously. He was puzzled and depressed by "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"; intensely
interested by "Joan and Peter" and "The Undying Fire," and rather surprised by his discovery through a critic
named Mencken of several excellent American novels: "Vandover and the Brute," "The Damnation of Theron
Ware," and "Jennie Gerhardt." Mackenzie, Chesterton, Galsworthy, Bennett, had sunk in his appreciation
from sagacious, life-saturated geniuses to merely diverting contemporaries. Shaw's aloof clarity and brilliant
consistency and the gloriously intoxicated efforts of H. G. Wells to fit the key of romantic symmetry into the
elusive lock of truth, alone won his rapt attention.
He wanted to see Monsignor Darcy, to whom he had written when he landed, but he had not heard from him;
besides he knew that a visit to Monsignor would entail the story of Rosalind, and the thought of repeating it
turned him cold with horror.
In his search for cool people he remembered Mrs. Lawrence, a very intelligent, very dignified lady, a convert
to the church, and a great devotee of Monsignor's.
He called her on the 'phone one day. Yes, she remembered him perfectly; no, Monsignor wasn't in town, was
in Boston she thought; he'd promised to come to dinner when he returned. Couldn't Amory take luncheon with
"I thought I'd better catch up, Mrs. Lawrence," he said rather ambiguously when he arrived.
"Monsignor was here just last week," said Mrs. Lawrence regretfully. "He was very anxious to see you, but
he'd left your address at home."
"Did he think I'd plunged into Bolshevism?" asked Amory, interested.
"Oh, he's having a frightful time."
"About the Irish Republic. He thinks it lacks dignity." "So?"
"He went to Boston when the Irish President arrived and he was greatly distressed because the receiving
committee, when they rode in an automobile, would put their arms around the President."
"I don't blame him."
"Well, what impressed you more than anything while you were in the army? You look a great deal older."
"That's from another, more disastrous battle," he answered, smiling in spite of himself. "But the 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."
"What else?"
"Well, the idea that men can stand anything if they get used to it, and the fact that I got a high mark in the
psychological examination."
Mrs. Lawrence laughed. Amory was finding it a great relief to be in this cool house on Riverside Drive, away
from more condensed New York and the sense of people expelling great quantities of breath into a little space.
Mrs. Lawrence reminded him vaguely of Beatrice, not in temperament, but in her perfect grace and dignity.
The house, its furnishings, the manner in which dinner was served, were in immense contrast to what he had
met in the great places on Long Island, where the servants were so obtrusive that they had positively to be
bumped out of the way, or even in the houses of more conservative "Union Club" families. He wondered if
this air of symmetrical restraint, this grace, which he felt was continental, was distilled through Mrs.
Lawrence's New England ancestry or acquired in long residence in Italy and Spain.
Two glasses of sauterne at luncheon loosened his tongue, and he talked, with what he felt was something of
his old charm, of religion and literature and the menacing phenomena of the social order. Mrs. Lawrence was
ostensibly pleased with him, and her interest was especially in his mind; he wanted people to like his mind
againafter a while it might be such a nice place in which to live.
"Monsignor Darcy still thinks that you're his reincarnation, that your faith will eventually clarify."
"Perhaps," he assented. "I'm rather pagan at present. It's just that religion doesn't seem to have the slightest
bearing on life at my age."
When he left her house he walked down Riverside Drive with a feeling of satisfaction. It was amusing to
discuss again such subjects as this young poet, Stephen Vincent 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 print."
Existence had settled back to an ambitionless normality. They had decided that with economy they could still
afford the apartment, which Tom, with the domesticity of an elderly cat, had grown fond of. The old English
hunting prints on the wall were Tom's, and the large tapestry by courtesy, a relic of decadent days in college,
and the great profusion of orphaned candlesticks and the carved Louis XV chair in which no one could sit
more than a minute without acute spinal 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 beloved buses.
"Why shouldn't you be bored," yawned Tom. "Isn't that the conventional frame of mind for the young man of
your age and condition?"
"Yes," said Amory speculatively, "but I'm more than bored; I am restless."
"Love and war did for you."
"Well," Amory considered, "I'm not sure that the war itself had any great effect on either you or mebut it
certainly ruined the old backgrounds, sort of killed individualism out of our generation."
Tom looked up in surprise.
"Yes it did," insisted Amory. "I'm not sure it didn't kill it out of the whole world. Oh, Lord, what a pleasure it
used to be to dream I might be a really great dictator or writer or religious or political 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 finger"
"I don't agree with you," Tom interrupted. "There never were men placed in such egotistic positions sinceoh,
since the French Revolution."
Amory disagreed violently.
"You're mistaking this period when every nut is an individualist for a period of individualism. Wilson has
only been powerful when he has represented; he's had to compromise over and over again. Just as soon as
Trotsky and Lenin take a definite, consistent stand they'll become merely two-minute figures like Kerensky.
Even Foch hasn't half the significance of Stonewall Jackson. War used to be the most individualistic pursuit of
man, and yet the popular heroes of the war had neither authority nor responsibility: Guynemer and Sergeant
York. How could a schoolboy make a hero of Pershing? A big man has no time really to do anything but just
sit and be big."
"Then you don't think there will be any more permanent world heroes?"
"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 and over."
"Then you blame it on the press?"
"Absolutely. Look at you; you're on The New Democracy, considered the most brilliant weekly in the
country, read by the men who do things and all that. What's your business? Why, to be as clever, as
interesting, and as brilliantly cynical as possible about every man, doctrine, book, or policy that is assigned
you to deal with. The more strong lights, the more spiritual scandal you can throw on the matter, the more
money they pay you, the more the people buy the issue. You, Tom d'Invilliers, a blighted Shelley, changing,
shifting, clever, unscrupulous, represent the critical consciousness of the 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 with The New Democracy.
"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 cynically.
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"
"They try."
"No, they don't even try. Some of them can write, but they won't sit down and do one honest novel. Most of
them can't write, I'll admit. I believe Rupert Hughes tries to give a real, comprehensive picture of American
life, but his style and perspective are barbarous. Ernest Poole and Dorothy Canfield try but they're hindered by
their absolute lack of any sense of humor; but at least they crowd their work instead of spreading it thin. Every
author ought to write every book as if he were going to be beheaded the day he finished it."
"Is that double entente?"
"Don't slow me up! Now there's a few of 'em that seem to have some cultural background, some intelligence
and a good deal of literary felicity but they just simply won't write honestly; they'd all claim there was no
public for good stuff. Then why the devil is it that Wells, Conrad, Galsworthy, Shaw, Bennett, and the rest
depend on America for over half their sales?"
"How does little Tommy like the poets?"
Tom was overcome. He dropped his arms until they swung loosely beside the chair and emitted faint grunts.
"I'm writing a satire on 'em now, calling it 'Boston Bards and Hearst Reviewers.'"
"Let's hear it," said Amory eagerly.
"I've only got the last few lines done."
"That's very modern. Let's hear 'em, if they're funny." Tom produced a folded paper from his pocket and read
aloud, pausing at intervals so that Amory could see that it was free verse:
"So Walter Arensberg, Alfred Kreymborg, Carl Sandburg, Louis Untermeyer, Eunice Tietjens, Clara
Shanafelt, James Oppenheim, Maxwell Bodenheim, Richard Glaenzer, Scharmel Iris, Conrad Aiken, 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."
Amory roared.
"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
"What I hate is this idiotic drivel about 'I am GodI am manI ride the windsI look through the smokeI am the
life sense.'" "It's ghastly!"
"And I wish American novelists would give up trying to make business romantically interesting. Nobody
wants to read about it, unless it's crooked business. If it was an entertaining subject they'd buy the life of
James J. Hill and not one of these long office tragedies that harp along on the significance of smoke" "And
gloom," said Tom. That's another favorite, though I'll admit the Russians have the monopoly. Our specialty is
stories about little girls who break their spines and get adopted by grouchy old men because they smile so
much. You'd think we were a race of cheerful cripples and that the common end of the Russian peasant was
"Six o'clock," said Amory, glancing at his wrist-watch. "I'll buy you a grea' big dinner on the strength of the
Juvenalia of your collected editions."
July sweltered out with a last hot week, and Amory in another surge of unrest realized that it was just five
months since he and Rosalind had met. Yet it was already hard for him to visualize the heart-whole boy who
had stepped off the transport, passionately desiring the adventure of life. One night while the heat,
overpowering and enervating, poured into the windows of his room he struggled for several hours in a vague
effort to immortalize the poignancy of that time.
The February streets, wind-washed by night, blow full of strange half-intermittent damps, bearing on wasted
walks in shining sight wet snow plashed into gleams under the lamps, like golden oil from some divine
machine, in an hour of thaw and stars. Strange damps-full of the eyes of many men, crowded with life borne
in upon a lull.... Oh, I was young, for I could turn again to you, most finite and most beautiful, and taste the
stuff of half-remembered dreams, sweet and new on your mouth.
...There was a tanging in the midnight 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 swooned.)
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:
Your last letter was quite enough to make me worry about you. It was not a bit like yourself. Reading between
the lines I should imagine that your engagement to this girl is making you rather unhappy, and I see you have
lost all the feeling of romance that you had before the war. You make a great mistake if you think you can be
romantic without religion. Sometimes I think that with both of us the secret of success, when we find it, is the
mystical element in us: something flows into us that enlarges our personalities, and when it ebbs out our
personalities shrink; I should call your last two letters rather shrivelled. Beware of losing yourself in the
personality of another being, man or woman.
His Eminence Cardinal O'Neill and the Bishop of Boston are staying with me at present, so it is hard for me to
get a moment to write, but I wish you would come up here later if only for a week-end. I go to Washington
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
BOOK TWO The Education of a Personage
Young Irony
FOR YEARS AFTERWARD when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still to hear the wind sobbing
around him and sending little chills into the places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the slope and
watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost a further part of him that nothing could restore; and
when he lost it he lost also the power of regretting it. Eleanor was, say, the last time that evil crept close to
Amory under the mask of beauty, the last weird mystery that held him with wild fascination and pounded his
soul to flakes.
With her his imagination ran riot and that is why they rode to the highest hill and watched an evil moon ride
high, for they knew then that they could see the devil in each other. But 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... Put away... Desires that melted with the snow, And
dreams begotten This to-day: 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 No regret 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 sweeps around.
Suddenly a strange sound fell on his ears. It was a song, in a low, husky voice, a girl's voice, and whoever was
singing was very close to him. A year before he might have laughed, or trembled; but in his restless mood he
only stood and listened while the words sank into his consciousness:
"Les sanglots longs Des violons De l'automne Blessent mon coeur D'une langueur Monotone."
The lightning split the sky, but the song went on without a quaver. The girl was evidently in the field and the
voice seemed to come vaguely from a haystack about twenty feet in front of him.
Then it ceased: ceased and began again in a weird chant that soared and hung and fell and blended with the
"Tout suffocant Et bljme quand Sonne l'heure Je me souviens Des jours anciens Et je pleure...."
"Who the devil is there in Ramilly County," muttered Amory aloud, "who would deliver Verlaine in an
extemporaneous tune to a soaking haystack?"
"Somebody's there!" cried the voice unalarmed. "Who are you?-Manfred, St. Christopher, or Queen
"I'm Don Juan!" Amory shouted on impulse, raising his voice above the noise of the rain and the wind.
A delighted shriek came from the haystack.
"I know who you are-you're the blond boy that likes 'Ulalume'I recognize your voice."
"How do I get up?" he cried from the foot of the haystack, whither he had arrived, dripping wet. A head
appeared over the 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 did."
"Don Juan always manages that," she said, laughing, "but I shan't call you that any more, because you've got
reddish hair. Instead you can recite 'Ulalume' and I'll be Psyche, your soul." Amory flushed, happily invisible
under the curtain of wind and rain. They were sitting opposite each other in a slight hollow in the hay with the
raincoat spread over most of them, and the rain doing for the rest. Amory was trying desperately to see
Psyche, but the lightning refused to flash again, and he waited impatiently. Good Lord! supposing she wasn't
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 what?"
"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 it?"
"Yes, it's bobbed. I don't know what color it is," she answered, musing, "so many men have asked me. It's
medium, I suppose No one ever looks long at my hair. I've got beautiful eyes, though, haven't I. I don't care
what you say, I have beautiful eyes." "Answer my question, Madeline."
"Don't remember them allbesides my name isn't Madeline, it's Eleanor."
"I might have guessed it. You look like Eleanor-you have that Eleanor look. You know what I mean."
There was a silence as they listened to the rain.
"It's going down my neck, fellow lunatic," she offered finally. "Answer my questions."
"Well-name of Savage, Eleanor; live in big old house mile down road; nearest living relation to be notified,
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 immortality."
"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 concluded.
"Go on," Amory said politely.
"Well-I'm not afraid of the dark, so I put on my slicker and rubber boots and came out. You see I was always
afraid, before, to say I didn't believe in 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 what?"
"Yourself!" she shouted, and he jumped. She clapped her hands and laughed. "See-see! 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. "When then?"
"Christmas or Easter. I'm a liturgist."
"Easter!" She turned up her nose. "Huh! Spring in corsets!" "Easter would bore spring, wouldn't she? Easter
has her hair braided, wears a tailored suit."
"Bind on thy sandals, oh, thou most fleet. Over the splendor and speed of thy feet"
quoted Eleanor softly, and then added: "I suppose Hallowe'en is a better day for autumn than Thanksgiving."
"Much better-and Christmas eve does very well for winter, but summer..."
"Summer has no day," she said. "We can't possibly have a summer love. So many people have tried that the
name's become proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm
balmy nights I dream of in April. It's a sad season of life without growth.... It has no day." "Fourth of July,"
Amory suggested facetiously.
"Don't be funny!" she said, raking him with her eyes.
"Well, what could fulfil the promise of spring?"
She thought a moment.
"Oh, I suppose heaven would, if there was one," she said finally, "a sort of pagan heavenyou ought to be a
materialist," she continued irrelevantly.
"Because you look a good deal like the pictures of Rupert Brooke."
To some extent Amory tried to play Rupert Brooke as long as he knew Eleanor. What he said, his attitude
toward life, toward her, toward himself, were all reflexes of the dead Englishman's literary moods. Often she
sat in the grass, a lazy wind playing with her short hair, her voice husky as she ran up and down the scale from
Grantchester to Waikiki. There was something most passionate in Eleanor's reading aloud. They seemed
nearer, not only mentally, but physically, when they read, than when she was in his arms, and this was often,
for they fell half into love almost from the first. Yet was Amory capable of love now? He could, as always,
run through the emotions in a half hour, but even while they revelled in their imaginations, he knew that
neither of them could care as he had cared once 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 epicurean courses.
Dimly he promised himself a time where all should be welded together. For months it seemed that he had
alternated between being borne along a stream of love or fascination, or left in an eddy, and in the eddies he
had not desired to think, rather to be picked up on a wave's top and swept along again.
"The despairing, dying autumn and our lovehow well they harmonize!" said Eleanor sadly one day as they lay
dripping by the water.
"The Indian summer of our hearts" he ceased.
"Tell me," she said finally, "was she light or dark?"
"Was she more beautiful than I am?"
"I don't know," said Amory shortly.
One night they walked while the moon rose and poured a great burden of glory over the garden until it seemed
fairyland with Amory and Eleanor, dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal beauty in curious elfin love
moods. Then they turned out of the moonlight into the trellised darkness of a vine-hung pagoda, where there
were scents so plaintive as to be nearly musical. "Light a match," she whispered. "I want to see you."
Scratch! Flare!
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 mine-you know you're mine!" he cried wildly ... the moonlight twisted in through the vines and
listened ... the fireflies hung upon their whispers as if to win his glance from the glory of their eyes.
"No wind is stirring in the grass; not one wind stirs ... the water in the hidden pools, as glass, fronts the full
moon and so inters the golden token in its icy mass," chanted Eleanor to the trees that skeletoned the body of
the night. "Isn't it ghostly here? If you can hold your horse's feet up, let's cut through the woods and find the
hidden pools."
"It's after one, and you'll get the devil," he objected, "and I don't know enough about horses to put one away in
the pitch dark."
"Shut up, you old fool," she whispered irrelevantly, and, leaning over, she patted him lazily with her
riding-crop. "You can leave your old plug in our stable and I'll send him over to-morrow." "But my uncle has
got to drive me to the station with this old plug at seven o'clock."
"Don't be a spoil-sport-remember, you have a tendency toward wavering that prevents you from being the
entire light of my life."
Amory drew his horse up close beside, and, leaning toward her, grasped her hand.
"Say I am-quick, or I'll pull you over and make you ride behind me."
She looked up and smiled and shook her head excitedly.
"Oh, do!-or rather, don't! Why are all the exciting things so uncomfortable, like fighting and exploring and
ski-ing in Canada? By the way, we're going to ride up Harper's Hill. I think that comes in our programme
about five o'clock."
"You little devil," Amory growled. "You're going to make me stay up all night and sleep in the train like an
immigrant all day to-morrow, going back to New York."
"Hush! some one's coming along the road-let's go! Whoo-ee-oop!" And with a shout that probably gave the
belated traveller a series of shivers, she turned her horse into the woods and Amory followed slowly, as he
had followed her all day for three weeks. The summer was over, but he had spent the days in watching
Eleanor, a graceful, facile Manfred, build herself intellectual and imaginative pyramids while she revelled in
the artificialities of the temperamental teens and they wrote poetry at the dinner-table.
When Vanity kissed Vanity, a hundred happy Junes ago, he pondered o'er her breathlessly, and, that all men
might ever know, he rhymed her eyes with life and death:
"Thru Time I'll save my love!" he said ... yet Beauty vanished with his breath, and, with her lovers, she was
dead... Ever his wit and not her eyes, ever his art and not her hair: "Who'd learn a trick in rhyme, be wise and
pause before his sonnet there" ... So all my words, however true, might sing you to a thousandth June, and no
one ever know that you were Beauty for an afternoon.
So he wrote one day, when he pondered how coldly we thought of the "Dark Lady of the Sonnets," and how
little we remembered her as the great man wanted her remembered. For what Shakespeare must have desired,
to have been able to write with such divine despair, was that the lady should live ... and now we have no real
interest in her.... The irony of it is that if he had cared more for the poem than for the lady the sonnet would be
only obvious, imitative rhetoric and no one would ever have read it after twenty years....
This was the last night Amory ever saw Eleanor. He was leaving in the morning and they had agreed to take a
long farewell trot by the cold moonlight. She wanted to talk, she 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 tired horses.
"Good Lord! It's quiet here!" whispered Eleanor; "much more lonesome than the woods."
"I hate woods," Amory said, shuddering. "Any kind of foliage or underbrush at night. Out here it's so broad
and easy on the spirit."
"The long slope of a long hill."
"And the cold moon rolling moonlight down it."
"And thee and me, last and most important."
It was quiet that night-the straight road they followed up to the edge of the cliff knew few footsteps at any
time. Only an occasional negro cabin, silver-gray in the rock-ribbed moonlight, broke the long line of bare
ground; behind lay the black edge of the woods like a dark frosting on white cake, and ahead the sharp, high
horizon. It was much 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
The breeze freshened and Eleanor pulled her cape around her and shivered.
"Are you very cold?" asked Amory.
"No, I'm thinking about myself-my black old inside self, the real one, with the fundamental honesty that keeps
me from being absolutely wicked by making me realize my own sins."
They were riding up close by the cliff and Amory gazed over. Where the fall met the ground a hundred feet
below, a black stream made a sharp line, broken by tiny glints in the swift water.
"Rotten, rotten old world," broke out Eleanor suddenly, "and the wretchedest thing of all is meoh, why am I a
girl? Why am I not a stupid? Look at you; you're stupider than I am, not much, but some, and you can lope
about and get bored and then lope somewhere else, and you can play around with girls without being involved
in meshes of sentiment, and you can do anything and be 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
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't-I can't kiss you now-I'm more sensitive."
"You're more stupid then," he declared rather impatiently. "Intellect is no protection from sex any more than
convention is..."
"What is?" she fired up. "The Catholic Church or the maxims of Confucius?"
Amory looked up, rather taken aback.
"That's your panacea, isn't it?" she cried. "Oh, you're just an old hypocrite, too. Thousands of scowling priests
keeping the degenerate Italians and illiterate Irish repentant with gabble-gabble about the sixth and ninth
commandments. It's just all cloaks, sentiment and spiritual rouge and panaceas. I'll tell you there is no God,
not even a definite abstract goodness; so it's all got to be worked out for the individual by the individual here
in high white foreheads like mine, and you're too much the prig to admit it." She let go her reins and shook her
little fists at the stars.
"If there's a God let him strike me-strike me!"
"Talking about God again after the manner of atheists," Amory said sharply. His materialism, always a thin
cloak, was torn to shreds by Eleanor's blasphemy.... She knew it and it angered him that she 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 sudden tears.
"Eleanor, are you hurt?"
"No; I don't think so," she said faintly, and then began weeping.
"My horse dead?"
"Good God Yes!"
"Oh!" she wailed. "I thought I was going over. I didn't know" He helped her gently to her feet and boosted her
onto his saddle. So they started homeward; Amory walking and she bent forward on the pommel, sobbing
"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.
"Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water, Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light, Bosoming day as
a laughing and radiant daughter... Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night. Walking alone ... was
it splendor, or what, we were bound with, Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair? Shadows we
loved and the patterns they covered the ground with Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.
That was the day ... and the night for another story, Pale as a dream and shadowed with pencilled trees Ghosts
of the stars came by who had sought for glory, Whispered to us of peace in the plaintive breeze, Whispered of
old dead faiths that the day had shattered, Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon; That was the urge
that we knew and the language that mattered That was the debt that we paid to the usurer June.
Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not Anything back of the past that we need not know, What
if the light is but sun and the little streams sing not, We are together, it seems ... I have loved you so... What
did the last night hold, with the summer over, Drawing us back to the home in the changing glade? What
leered out of the dark in the ghostly clover? God!... till you stirred in your sleep ... and were wild afraid...
Well ... we have passed ... we are chronicle now to the eerie. Curious metal from meteors that failed in the
sky; Earth-born the tireless is stretched by the water, quite weary, Close to this ununderstandable changeling
that's I... Fear is an echo we traced to Security's daughter; Now we are faces and voices ... and less, too soon,
Whispering half-love over the lilt of the water... Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon."
"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; Again They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air Upon me, winds that I
know, and storm.
There was a summer every rain was rare; There was a season every wind was warm.... And now you pass me
in the mist ... your hair Rain-blown about you, damp lips curved once more In that wild irony, that gay despair
That made you old when we have met before; Wraith-like you drift on out before the rain, Across the fields,
blown with the stemless flowers, With your old hopes, dead leaves and loves again Dim as a dream and wan
with all old hours (Whispers will creep into the growing dark... Tumult will die over the trees) Now night
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..."
BOOK TWO 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.
"Well-Amory Blaine!"
Amory looked down into the street below. A low racing car had drawn to a stop and a familiar cheerful face
protruded from the driver's seat.
"Come on down, goopher!" cried Alec.
Amory called a greeting and descending a flight of wooden steps approached the car. He and Alec had been
meeting intermittently, but the barrier of Rosalind lay always between them. He was sorry for this; he hated to
lose Alec.
"Mr. Blaine, this is Miss Waterson, Miss Wayne, and Mr. Tully." "How d'y do?"
"Amory," said Alec exuberantly, "if you'll jump in we'll take you to some secluded nook and give you a wee
jolt of Bourbon." Amory considered.
"That's an idea."
"Step in-move over, Jill, and Amory will smile very handsomely at you."
Amory squeezed into the back seat beside a gaudy, vermilion-lipped blonde.
"Hello, Doug Fairbanks," she said flippantly. "Walking for exercise or hunting for company?"
"I was counting the waves," replied Amory gravely. "I'm going in for statistics."
"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 instead.
"Do I? When we slept in the pavilions up in Asbury Park" "Lord, Alec! It's hard to think that Jesse and Dick
and Kerry are all three dead."
Alec shivered.
"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
"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."
"Glad to."
"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 exaltation.
In his room he undressed and wrapping himself in blankets to keep out the chill October air drowsed in an
armchair by the open window.
He remembered a poem he had read months before:
"Oh staunch old heart who toiled so long for me, I waste my years sailing along the sea"
Yet he had no sense of waste, no sense of the present hope that waste implied. He felt that life had rejected
"Rosalind! Rosalind!" He poured the words softly into the half-darkness until she seemed to permeate the
room; the wet salt breeze filled his hair with moisture, the rim of a moon seared the sky and made the curtains
dim and ghostly. He fell asleep. When he awoke it was very late and quiet. The blanket had slipped partly off
his shoulders and he touched his skin to find it damp and cold.
Then he became aware of a tense whispering not ten feet away. He became rigid.
"Don't make a sound!" It was Alec's voice. "Jill-do you hear me?"
"Yes" breathed very low, very frightened. They were in the bathroom.
Then his ears caught a louder sound from somewhere along the corridor outside. It was a mumbling of men's
voices and a repeated muffled rapping. Amory threw off the blankets and moved close to the bathroom door.
"My God!" came the girl's voice again. "You'll have to let them in."
Suddenly a steady, insistent knocking began at Amory's hall door and simultaneously out of the bathroom
came Alec, followed by the vermilion-lipped girl. They were both clad in pajamas.
"Amory!" an anxious whisper.
"What's the trouble?"
"It's house detectives. My God, Amorythey're just looking for a test-case"
"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
Weep not for me but for thy children.
That-thought Amory-would be somehow the way God would talk to me. Amory felt a sudden surge of joy and
then like a face in a motion-picture the aura over the bed faded out; the dynamic shadow by the window, that
was as near as he could name it, remained for the fraction of a moment and then the breeze seemed to lift it
swiftly out of the room. He clinched his hands in quick ecstatic excitement ... the ten seconds were up.... "Do
what I say, Alec-do what I say. Do you understand?"
Alec looked at him 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
"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 evening."
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!" Amory laughed.
The leader of the trio nodded authoritatively at a burly man in a check suit.
"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 do?"
"Get dressed, quick-and tell your friend not to make such a racket." Jill was sobbing noisily on the bed, but at
these words she subsided sulkily and, gathering up her clothes, retired to the bathroom. As Amory slipped into
Alec's B. V. D.'s he found that his attitude toward the situation was agreeably humorous. The aggrieved virtue
of the burly man made him want to laugh. "Anybody else here?" demanded Olson, trying to look keen and
"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
"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 know."
"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 ponderously.
"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 off."
"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?"
"I see."
"You're gettin' off light-damn light-but"
"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 elevator."
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
out-doors-where 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.
"The station."
"If that guy writes my mother"
"He won't. Nobody'll ever know about thisexcept our friends and enemies."
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-time-do you
want something to eat?"
"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."
"I'll remember."
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 dingy counter.
"He used to be. He probably won't want to be any moreand never understand why."
"It was sorta crazy you takin' all that blame. Is he pretty important? Kinda more important than you are?"
Amory laughed.
"That remains to be seen," he answered. "That's the question."
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, Connecticut--"
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.
BOOK TWO 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.
The silence of the theatre behind him ended with a curious 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, tired, worried.
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
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. Well-what'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.
Q.Be definite.
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.
Q.Very afraid?
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 after that.
Q.All your calories gone?
A.All of them. I'm beginning to warm myself at other people's virtue.
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?
A.Not necessarily.
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 to repeat her girlhoodshe wants to repeat her honeymoon. I
don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.
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. Question-were 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.
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....
Amory smiled a bit.
"You're too much wrapped up in yourself," he heard some one say. And again
"Get out and do some real work"
"Stop worrying"
He fancied a possible future comment of his own.
"Yes-I 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.
Women-of 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 men themselves.
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 entrance of the labyrinth.
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.
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
Manhattan-when 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 problem.
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 way.
"Quite a stretch."
"Hiking for exercise?"
"No," responded Amory succinctly, "I'm walking because I can't afford to ride."
Then again:
"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?"
No-Amory had no trade.
"Clerk, eh?"
No-Amory 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 the jury.
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 money?"
"Of course not," said the secretary indignantly.
"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."
Amory laughed.
"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, but-well, 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
"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.
"Yes-and 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 it."
"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 trades-unions."
"You've brought it on yourselves," insisted Amory. "You people never make concessions until they're wrung
out of you." "What people?"
"Your class; the class I belonged to until recently; those who by inheritance or industry or brains or dishonesty
have become the moneyed class."
"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
Here Amory had to pause to consider exactly what the question was.
"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 children."
"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."
"Why not?"
"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 newspaper."
"But it appears," said the big man.
"Where?-in the discredited mediums. Rotten cheap-papered weeklies."
"All right-go 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 not."
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 of you fellows."
"Modern life," began Amory again, "changes no longer century by century, but year by year, ten times faster
than it ever has before-populations 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 pause.
"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 industries."
"That's been proven a failure."
"No-it 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 America."
"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 humanity-honor."
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." "Kids-child'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
But the big man was aroused.
"When you talk of 'taking things away,' you're on dangerous ground."
"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."
"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 impatiently.
"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 not through.
"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 very young."
"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
"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
"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."
"Did you?"
"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 friends."
"He was-a-quite 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.
"Thank you, Mr. Ferrenby, but I've got to get on." 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 theories."
"Same to you, sir," cried Amory, smiling and waving his hand.
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 life.
"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 part.
"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 beauty-beauty, 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 man.
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.
Long after midnight the towers and spires of Princeton were visible, with here and there a late-burning
light-and 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 shaken....
Amory, sorry for them, was still not sorry for himself-art, politics, religion, whatever his medium should be,
he knew he was safe now, free from all hysteria-he 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 youth-yet 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. But-oh, Rosalind! 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."
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