Tải bản đầy đủ

Beauty and mary blair


BeautyandMaryBlair
ANovel
byEthelMayKelley
BOSTONANDNEWYORK
HOUGHTONMIFFLINCOMPANY
TheRiversidePressCambridge
1921
Beauty—andMaryBlair


CHAPTERI
Motherdidn’tspeak.Ofcourse,Fatherdidn’treallyputanythinguptoher,but
thegeneralideawastherejustthesame.Whathewantedtoknowwas,whether
afamilylikeours,consistingofoneyoungmarriedfeminist,oneeligiblethough
unsusceptibleyoungunfeminist,oneincorrigiblekidbrother,andalarge,
sentimentalcoloredlady,couldbetrustedtolookafteritselfwhilethenatural
guardiansofittookaprotractedbusinesstripintoCanada.Therewasonlyone
answer,ofcourse,butMotherdidn’tmakeit.Amongotherthingsshedidn’t
wanttospendthemoney.
“Ifyouwerelookingforaniceathleticyoungdaughternow,”Isaid,“Iknowof

onethatwouldaccompanyyourwanderingsdelightedly.”
“I’mnot,”Fathersaid.“NotthatIwouldn’tliketohaveyou,Baby,butyour
mothercandrive,andsheknowswhattodoformeifIgetthecollywobblesand
—”
BobbywinkedatDella,whowasmovingmajesticallyaroundthetableserving
pie.
“Dellaatesomebread,Dellaatesomejelly,Dellawenttobed—”Bobbysays
everythingthatcomesintohisheadwithoutanyreferencetotimeandplace,or
whoeverelsehappenstobespeaking.
“IcandrivealmostaswellasMother,andIcouldgiveyoucastoroil,ifIcan
giveittoRex.”
Fathersmiled.
“Youpoureditonthepuppy’shead,Iunderstand,andhelickeditofftogetrid
ofit.PeculiarasitmayseemI’dratherhaveyourmother.”
ButMotherhedged.
“I’dliketogo,”shesaid.“YouknowIwould,Robert.”
“Wecouldgetacoupleofweeksofcamp,”Fathersuggested,“anditwouldset


youup.—Oh!Iknewyouwouldn’tthinkofitseriously.”
“No,”Mothersaid,“Ican’tleave.”Andthatendedit.
TheAngelinthehousetriedtogetusstartedonsomegeneralconversation,with
thecoffee.She’saprohibitionist,andacommunist,—sometimes.Atothertimes,
Ibelieve,she’sacentristoraleft-winger!—andshewon’tliveinthesamehouse
withherperfectlygoodhusband,asitisn’tdoneinthosecircles.
“It’sonlyaquestionofafewweekswheneveryStateintheUnionratifies,”she
said.
“It’snewstomethattheyhaven’t,”Fatherwasmomentarilyinterested.
“Iwastalkingofsuffrage,”theAngel—herrealnameisStella—condescended.
MotherturnedaratherintentlookonStella.Thewomenofourfamilyarea
greatpuzzletoeachother.Stella,withherbraidsboundroundthatburninghighbrowofhers,andherunquenchablecravingforintellectualbreakfastfood,isa
perpetualthorninMother’sflesh,dearlyasshelovestohaveonethere.Father’s,
too,thoughFatherisn’tquitesomuchgiventokissingthebeethatstingshim,as
itwere.FatherandMotherareonlygoingonforty,anyway.
“Isupposeifyouhadafamily,youwouldleaveittolookafteritselfwheneverit
wasconvenient,”Mothersaidmusingly.
Stellaisgoingtohaveafamily,butMother’ssocialerrordidn’tintheleastruffle
her.She’ssohigh-mindedshedoesn’tcarewhethershehasafamilyornot.I
shouldhaveverydecidedideasfororagainst.IunderstandthatMotherdid—
against.


“YouknowIbelieveintherightsoftheindividual,”Stellasaidgently.Well,so
doI,ifhecangetthem.
Fatherlookedsoworriedtome,asifsomethingagooddealmoreimportantthan
Mother’sgoingornotgoingtoCanadahunginthebalance,thatItackledhim
aboutit.
“Daddy,”Isaid,“doyouwantmetomakeMothergowithyouoranything?Do
youfeelawfullyseedy?Youknowshedoesn’twanttospendthemoney.”


“Iknowit,”Fathersaid.Thenhespokebetweenhisteeth:“Iwanttospendthe
money,”hesaid;“whathaveImadeitfor?”
“Youcouldn’t,seriously,Imean,spenditonme,Daddy?I’dlovetogo.”
“Toomuchofarow.Besides,Iwantyourmother.”Iknewfromhistonethathe
didwanther—heaps,morethanheaps.
“Daddy,”Isaid,“doyourchildrenboreyou?”
“Sometimes.Why?Notyou,Baby,exceptingassuch.”
“Oh!Iknowthat,”Isaid;“well,theyboreme,too,rather.Motherdoesn’tbore
you?”
“Never.”
“Don’tyouthinkthatthefactthatsheissoterriblygood-lookinghassomething
todowiththat?”
“Probably,”Fathersaid;“andletmegiveyouawordofadvice,Mary.Ifyou
reallywanttokeepaman—keephimgoing,youunderstand,andtruetoyou—
utilizehim;usehim,allthebestthereisinhim,andevenalittleoftheworstifit
comestothat.Usehistime,usehismoney.Makethemostofhim.Youcankeep
anyman,youknow,ifyoukeephimbusyenough—ifyoumakethemostof
him.”
“Father,”Isaid,“letmegotoCanadawithyou.I’dbebetterthannothing.”
AndIthinkIwouldhavebeen.
Iamoneofthosepeopletowhomlifeisaverygreatpuzzle.Somanypeople
seemtogetusedtoliving,butIdon’t.Ican’tseemtogetupanyreallysatisfying
philosophy,orfindanybodyoranythingtohelpmeaboutit.Iwanteverything,
littleandbig,fixedupinmymindbeforeIcanproceed.
EvenasaverysmallchildIalwayswantedmyplansmadeinadvance.Once
whenMotherhadabadsickheadache,Isatontheedgeofherbed,andbegged
hertotellmeifshethoughtshewasgoingtodie,soifshewasIcouldplantogo
andlivewithmyAuntMargaret.Iwasanodiousinfant,butallthesame,Ireally


wantedtoknow,andthat’sthewayIamtothisday!Iwanttoknowwhatthe
probabilitiesare,inordertoactaccordingly.Iwanttoknowabouthuman
beings,andhowtheygotintothefixtheyarein,andwhatthepossibilitiesareof
theirgettingoutofit.Iwantrtoknowwhatlifemeans,butnobodywantstotalk
aboutit.
Ipursueknowledgeinvariousways.Ireadagoodmanybooks,moresinceIleft
schoolthanbefore.I’vewadedthroughmostofourgreenclotheditionofthe
PopularScienceLibrary.Itisn’tverymoderntoreadDarwinandHuxleyand
JohnStuartMill,butIdon’tknowhowtopickandchoosebetterthings—thatis,
bettersoundthings.Iamhandicappedbyhavingasisterwhoknowseverything.
Shelightlyacquiredaclassicaleducation,becameaconspicuousbanner-bearing
feminist,andmarriedanotoriousradicaleditor,allbeforeshewastwenty.The
Angel’sawonder.IalwaysexpectMothertopeeloffsomelittleanecdoteabout
herhavingpreparedherownbabyfoodaccordingtoformula,attheageof
thirteenmonths.It’sawfullyhardtoimaginehereverhavingletMotherdoit.
ButSisterisn’tmuchhelptomebecauseshe’sanideacannibal.Ifshecan’tget
herrationofrawhumantheorytogorgeoneveryday,sheisn’tquitethesame
girl.Ifyouwon’tbepsychoanalyzed,orreadbooksaboutRussia,ortrytoget
upsomelittleprivatesystemofsolvinglaborquestions,why,Sister’sinterestin
youceases.IhopeherunluckyinfantwillbebornlispingtheEinsteintheoryof
Relativity.Idon’tknowwhatitis,butthatinfantwillhavetobeinformedonit
ifitexpectseitheroneofitsparentstotakeanintelligentinterestinit.Ican’t
liveonSister’sdiet.I’dgetmentalhookworm.
Mother’sliterarytastesareagaindifferent.Mother’sinclinedtoSpiritualism,
andthingsoccult.ShereadsalotoffaintlyPollyannaishnovelswithaWestern
settingifpossible,andshedoesn’tcareatallaboutbooksthatshowyouhowthe
heroandtheheroineconnectupwithlife.H.G.WellsandJohnGalsworthybore
herstiff,forinstance,andsheusedtocrywhenhermothermadeherread
GeorgeEliot.AndI’dcryifshemademereadallthosebooksaboutthe
RomancesoftheInsectWorld,andWhattheFlowersKnow,thatshe’ssofond
of.ThethingsIwanttoknownobodybutCarlyleandStevensonandBrowning
havehadmuchtosayabout,andthey’redead,andmuchlesscompanionablefor
thatreason.Sister’scultured,andMotherisn’t,Isupposethat’sthegistofit,and
I’mstuckinbetweenthemsomewhere,drowningbetweenthehigh-browsand
thedeep-blueseaofignorance.
Fatherissafelyoutofitall,becausehedoesn’treadanythingbutthe


newspapers.He’sgoodlookingenoughnottoneedtobeculturedintheleast.
It’stoobadthatSistertriedtolooksomuchlikehim,anddidn’tsucceed.She’s
gotthebigblueeyes,andthestraight-cutprofile,allthemakings,butshehasn’t
gotthelookitself.Fatherisacharmer.IamdarklikeMother,butnotsopretty,
thoughIamthankfultosaythatIlookmorelikemyselfthananyone.Mycolor
isgoodanyhow.Bobbylookslikeme.
IfIcouldthinkwhatitwasIwantedoflifeIwouldbeawholelotbetteroff.I
havealltheopportunitiesthereare,alltheadvantagesofalifeinNewYorkCity
inatwo-hundred-dollarapartmentthatwepaidahundredforfiveyearsago—all
theculturethereis;butitisn’tcultureI’mafter,someway.Iwanttogetthehang
ofthings,andIdon’tknowhowI’mgoingtodoitatpresent.
I’mtheonlyoneofthefamilywhoisverymuchinterestedinpeople,well,as
people,thoughweallhaveaweirdlotoffriends.TheAngelfillstheplacewith
ladiesinwell-cuttweeds,whoareeconomicallyindependentoftherace,and
Byronicboyswithrecordsasdraft-dodgers.Friendhusbandisthebestfriend
she’sgot,butofcourseshewon’ttakehisnameoranything.She’sstillMiss
Blairtothebornandunborn.EvangelineTuckerisherclosestwomanfriend,I
shouldsay.TheygettogetherontheJugo-Slavs,andexchangeconfidenceson
personalsubjectsliketheEasternquestion,andhowtomakeaconfirmed
aestheteofthepoorworking-girl.WhenIsitinatoneoftheseconfabsIalways
feelliketakingupwrestlingforalifework.Awrestlerusesthebonystructureof
hisskullasaweapon.Hebuttstheotherfellowinthestomachwithit.
Mother’sfriendsconsistoffatwomenwholookeighteenyearsolderthanshe
does,andhaven’thalfsuchgood-lookingfamilies—andElleryHowe.Idon’t
knowwhereMotherpickedhimup,butshe’shadhimforyears.He’samusic
houndandapicturesleuth.Motherdoesn’tcaremuchforeithermusicor
pictures,butshe’susedtoEllery,andsoarealltherestofus.AtonetimeI
thoughtthatStellamightmarryhimandgethimoutoftheway.Heseemedto
meltintosomeofthecrevicesofhergranitenature,butIdon’tthinkMother
likeditverymuch.Itseemedratherawaste,too;likespatteringaneggagainsta
stonewall.Thewalldoesnotabsorbit,andyoulosetheingredientofaperfectly
goodomelet.AningredientisaboutwhatElleryis.
FatherandIaremorealikeaboutfriends.Wedon’thavethemsomuchto
exchangesentimentswithaswedoforgeneralpurposesofamusement.Weboth
likefools,rather;thatis,peoplethataresillyandhealthyandgood-looking,and


knowtheirwayabout.That’swhyIliketheWebstergirlsandTommy
Nevers,andthat’swhyFatherisalwayshavinglunchwithladieswithearrings
andgreenturbans,andmenlikeJimmieGreer.IlikeJimmie,butIdefyany
othermemberofourrefinedfamilycircletofindagoodwordtosayforhim,
exceptthathe’sthefriendofFather’sbosom.
ItwasJimmiethatFatherthoughthecouldgettogowithhimontheCanadian
trip.Motherwasdeadagainstitbecausehedrinkssomuch,andwhenitturned
outthatJimmiecouldn’tgoanywayshewasaspleasedasifsomebodyhad
handedherapresent.
“Idon’tlikeJimmieGreer,”shesaid;“he’scoarse-fibred.Yourfatherwouldn’t
getthebenefitofhistripifhewerewithhim.”
“Idon’tseehowhe’sgoingtogetthebenefitofhistripanyway,”Iargued;“he
hatestogoaloneso,andhe’sstartingoffsounsatisfied.”
“It’stoobadhehastogoatall,”Mothersaid.
“Menareverychildishthings,Mother.Yououghttoknow.”
“It’stoobad,”Motherrepeated.
“Toobadthey’rechildishthings?”
“Toobadhe’sgottogo.”
“Buttheyare,”Isaid.—Andtheyare.Oh!dearme.
ItseemstomethatifMotherwantedtoknowanythingaboutFather,she’djust
havetogetrightdowntobrasstacksandstudyBobby.
ThenightthatFatherwentawayIfeltratherchildishmyself.Thedinnerwas
perfectlypunkforonething.WehadvealwhichFatherhated,andmacaroni,
whichhehatesworse,andcornfritters,whichhenevereats,andricepudding,
whichIdon’tthinkanymanevereats.Dellaisaprettygoodcook,butMother
orderedthisdinner,andsosheproducedit.Fatheratealittle,andthenwentoff
intotheliving-roomandsulked.Iputmyarmsaroundhim,butthatonlyseemed
toaddinsulttoinjury.Mothertranquillyknitted,andtheAngelspokelovingly
oftheAdriatic,andEsthonia,whateverthatis.


ThenElleryHowewasannounced,andFatherquitcold.Icorneredhiminthe
hallwithhishaton.
“Whitheraway,Daddy?”Isaid.
“I’mgoingouttogetsomethingtoeat.”
“Takeme.”
“Idon’tthinkso.”
ButhewouldhaveifTommyNevershadn’tputinhisappearanceatthatinstant.
“You’llhavetogoaway,Tommy,”Isaid,*’becauseI’mgoingoutwithFather.”
“Sheisn’t,though,”Fathersaid.“Takeheroffmyhands,Tommy.”
“It’sFather’slastnight,”Isaid.
Father’sreplytothiswasmerelytogooutandshutthedoor.
“Let’sgointothedug-out,”Tommysaid,meaningthelounging-holeI’vemade
outofmydressing-room.
“No,Iwanttogotowalk,”Isaid;“andifyouknowanythingthatwilltakethe
tasteofricepuddingoutofmymouthIwouldbeverygratifiedtohavesomeof
it.”
“Weusedtodrinkclaretlemonade,”Tommysaidregretfully.
“Theyusedtoraiselive-stockrightonBroadway,”Isaid.
WewalkedalongtheDriveforawhile,andTommytoldmewhathethought
aboutwomen.Hecertainlythinksalotaboutthem.Helikesagirlthatknows
whereshegetsoff,andthatmakesafellowcomfortable,andthatkeepsherself
rightuptothemark.He’dprefertohaveherhaveapermanentwaveifshegets
itdoneright,andtohaveherbeagoodsportwithoutevergettingoutbeyonda
certainpointwheretheiceistoothin.Iknowitallbyheart.
“Well,Tommy,”Isaidbriskly,“IthinkIanswerallthosequalifications,except
thepermanentwave.”


“Oh!youdo,”Tommyassuredmeearnestly.
“Istrivetoplease,”Isaid.Hehasn’tanysenseofhumor.“Ifyouwereaman,”I
addedhastily,“andyougotthekindofawifethatwasn’tallthosethings,andit
keptdraggingonandonandeverythinggoingwrong,orwrongishallthetime,
whatdoyouthinkthatyou’dfinallycometodoaboutit?”
“Idon’tknow,”Tommysaiduncertainly;“makethebestofabadbargain,I
suppose.”
“Butjustpractically,whatwouldyoudo?”Isaid.“Supposingyourwifewould
nevergowithyouanywhereorletyouspendanymoneyonheroranything?
Supposingshejustgottobekindoflackadaisicalaboutyou,andsataround
refusingtobeasportfornoparticularreason?”
“I’dfindsomebodythatwouldbeasport,then.”
“Butthatwouldberatherhardonyourfamily,wouldn’tit?”
“Iwouldn’thaveafamilyunderthosecircumstances,”Tommyargued.
“Butyoucan’talwayspickandchoosewhetheryouwillhaveafamilyornot!
Supposingyouhadonefirst,andthenthislackadaisicalconditiondeveloped
afterward,whatwouldyoudo?”
“Well,thisisaman’sworld,”Tommysaid,ratherthreateningly.
WewanderedovertotheHotelLaFrancealittlelater,andfoundoursamelittle
tableoveragainstthesidewall.Iadorehavingthesametable,andTommyis
prettyadequateaboutgettingitforme.Tommyissomuchbetterthannothing
thatIoftenwonderwhatIshouldeverdowithouthim.Idon’tlikesuitors,but
thenIdon’tverymuchlikethesegoodoldchumsthatletyoupayforyourown
refreshments.Idon’tknowwhyitisthataboythinksmoreofyouifyoueatat
hisexpensethanatyourown,butsuchindeedisthecase.TheAngelis
economicallyindependentonmoneythatGrandfatherearnedforGrandmother,
whenshewasparasiticallybringingeightchildrenintotheworld.Ihavenosuch
advantages,soIcan’tmarryanybodybutaconservative.
Afterwehadbeensittingthereforawhiledrinkinggingerale,andwaitingfor
thePeachMelbaswehadordered,incameFatherwithJimmieGreer,andoneof


thoseladiesinearringsthatJimmieimportseverylittlewhile.Ihadamomentof
realpang,becauseitwouldhavebeensomuchmoresuitableifIhadbeenthere
withDaddyandalltheotherswerenonesL
“There’sMary,”JimmieGreetsaid,indicatingme.
Fatherconsignedmetothenetherregionswithoutanupwardglance,andthe
ladystretchedinmydirection.Shewaswearinganimitationmoleskincoatwith
asquirrelcollar—ofallthings-andaniridescenthatshapedlikeasaladbowl,
withahearth-brusheffectovertherightear,thecurvedkindofhearth-brushthat
getsintoallthecornersandcrevices.
“There’syourfather,”saidTommy.
“You’veseenhimbeforethisevening.”
“Hewantsustogoovertohistable.”
“Hedoesn’t;JimmieGreerdoes.”
“Who’sthevamp?”
“She’sJimmie’svamp.”
Fathercameovertospeaktome.
“IranintoJimmieandMrs.VanderWater,afriendofhis.I’lljusthavea
sandwichandrunhome.Don’tstayouttoolateyourself,Kitten.”
“WhoisMrs.VanderWater?”
“ACanadianwoman,afriendofJimmie’s.Inevermetherbefore.”
WhenIgothomeMotherwassittingupandwaitingforFather.Stellawas
receivingoneofhersemi-weeklyvisitsfromherhusband,buttheywentoffinto
herownroomthemomenttheysawmeapproaching.Cosgrovehadhadhishair
cut,whichgavehimaratherbereftappearance.Amanwhohasthehabitof
wearinghishairlongalwayslookssodistraitwithoutit,someway.
Whatdoyousaytoyourmotherwhenyou’vejustseenyourfatherbaskingin


thesmilesofahand-paintedsiren,breakingtheprohibitionlawswiththeaidofa
concealedflaskandthreebottlesofWhiteRock?TheashofElleryHowe’s
Panatelawasstillsmokinginthejadeash-trayhebroughther.Everybodyhasa
righttoenjoythemselvesintheirownway—everybodywhoisdecent,thatis.I
hatetostirupanything.
“There’sbeerontheice,dear,”MothersaidtoFather,whenatlasthedidcome
in.
“I’vehadadrink,”Fathersaid,withasuspiciouslookatme.
“Where?”Motherasked.
“AttheLaFrance.Greerhaditinhispocket.”
“He’llgetarrestedsomeofthesedays,”Mothersaid.
“It’smylastnight,Helen,”Fathersaidslowly.
“Iknowit.Imustgettobedsoastobeuptogetyouoffinthemorning.”
“Iwishyouwerecoming.”
“IwishIwere,Robert,butit’ssomuchmoneyforsuchashorttime.”
“Iwishyou’dcomewithme,andspendit.”
Thentheykissed,andFatherwentofftohisroomandMothertohers.Thevoice
ofStellaandhershornradicalcouldbeheardeverandanonechoingthroughthe
apartment.TherewasagorgeousandgloriousmoonovertheDrive.Icouldsee
itfrommywindow,andIstoodthereandcried.Theredidn’tseemtobe
anythingaboutlife—ourlife—mylife—togetyourteethin.


CHAPTERII
AFewdaysafterFather’sdepartureElleryHowetookmetoapictureshow.
Motherhadaheadache,andhedecidedthatIwasbetterthangoingalone.Stella
wouldn’tgoforsomereasonbestknowntoStella.IthinkthereasonthatMother
hadaheadachewasthatFathertelegraphedherthatmorning,askingherifshe
wantedhimtogetherafull-lengthsealcoatworthtwelvehundreddollarsfor
half-price.OfcourseMotherwiredinapanicthatshewouldn’twearitunder
anycircumstances,buttheincidentupsether.PoorMother,shegrewuppoor,
anditaboutkillshertospreadout.Shejustcan’tseemtobelievethatour
incomewillbearourweight.She’sgotwhattheAngelcallsacomplexaboutit.
IputonmycrimsonfeatherturbanwhichIamcrazyaboutbecauseit’sthefirst
mature-lookinghatI’veeverhad.Awomanoffortycouldwearit,andit’svery
smart,too.Itgoesverywellwithmysuit,whichisbeavercolorandtrimmed
withbeaver.Ellerycastaveryslightlookofsatisfactiononmeaswestartedon
ourway.Ioughttoknowmoreaboutart,andsoIamalwaysgladofanychance
tolookatpictureswithanybodywhoknowsanythingaboutthem.Ellerytalks
toomuchgibberishtobeofmuchuse,butsometimesIgetagleam.
“Whatarewegoingtosee?”,Iaskedencouragingly,asthebusconductor
changedEllery’sdollarbillintodimesandnickels.Ialwaysliketoputthefares
intotheautomaticcollector,myself.OnceIputineightbeforetheconductor
couldstopme,butIwouldn’ttellElleryanythinglikethatforworlds.
“Wearegoingtosee”—hefedinthetwodimes—“mostlystudiesinabstract
form.Therearetobeafewportraitsinthenewmanner,butthecolorstudiesare
theinterestingthings.”
“TheyarenotCubistic,arethey?”
“Well,notexactly.Thisparticularexhibitionisbyagroupwhoarejustabout
halfwaybetweentheCubistsandtheVorticists.”
“Thewhich?”Isaid.Iwaswatchingtheautomaticcollectornibblingdimes.I
alwaysfeelasifsomebodywhowasclumsywouldgetarealnipifhedidn’t
watchout.


“TheVorticists.Youknowwhatavortexis.”
Icouldn’tthinkwhatitwasatthemoment.
“Isthatwhattheydo,paintvortexes?”Iasked,togaintime.
“Well,no,notexactly.Theyseemotionintermsofstaticform,though
sometimestheyconveytheactualvibrationbysomeeffectwithcolor.Don’tyou
rememberseeingthePrimitivesintheartmuseumwithhalosabouttheirheads,
crudelyrepresentingscintillation?”
“TheentireclasswenttoseetheItalianPrimitivesonce.Ilikedthembecause
theylookedlikethingsIcouldhavedonemyself.”
“Exactly.That’sthewholemoderntheory,reversiontothesimplestart
expressionwearecapableof.”
“Whydon’ttheydrawpicturesofcatsanddogsandhouses?”
“Theyaretryingtogetawayfromthepresentationofanyliteralimage,any
concreteidea.”
“Whataretheytryingtodo?”Isaid.Itwashardtokeepmymindonwhathe
wassayingbecause,speakingofvortexes,thatwaswhatFifthAvenuewasaswe
skimmedalongit,awhirling,swirlingmassofcolorandpersonalityandlife.
“Theyaretryingtoappealtotheimaginationbyachievingabalanceofabstract
colorandform.”
“Butwhy?”Isaid.
WhenwegotinsidethegallerytheinterestingthingwasEllery,thoughIadmit
thepicturesthemselveswerefearfulandwonderful.Seriously,that’swhatthey
were—fearfulandwonderful.Afteryoustudiedthemforawhileyougotafraid.
“Theyallmeansomething,”Ellerysaid.
“Ican’tseewhatthismeans.”Itwasacanvascoveredwithlongcurvedthings
likeladies’stockings,somewithfeetinthemandsomejusttwistedonce,allin
themostgorgeousandbrilliantcolors.


“It’sjustadesign.”
“Butwhat’sitfor?”
“Justastudyincolorandform.”
“Youreallylikeit?”Isaid.
“Betterthananythingelsehere.”
“Whatdoyougetoutofit?”
“Beauty.”
“Butthereisn’tanythere.”
“Lookagain.Takeagoodfiveminutes.”
Idid,andIgotsortofhypnotized.Therewasapersonalitybehindthatpicture
justthesameasthereisbehindotherpictures.Isuddenlygotawfullyhomesick
forWhistler’spictureofhismother.
“It’sbetterthanIthought,”Iadmitted;“itmightmeansomethingtosomebody,
butnottome.”
“Ifanymanisstrongenoughyoufeelhimthroughhismedium,”Ellerysaid.
Ilookedathimcritically.Hehasbigvelvet-browneyesandasweetsmile,and
hewearsputty-coloredclotheswithsolid-colorties,mostlyinbrilliantorange.
“WhatdoyoumeanbyBeauty?”Iaskedhimaswewendedourwayupthe
Avenue.Itsuddenlyoccurredtome.thathemustmeansomethingbythewayhe
goesaboutthings.There’smilkiChase?”
“Allthatcounts,”Isaid.
“Youwenttohisrooms,andyoudidn’tstay?”
Icringed.
“Yes,”Isaid.
“Robert,youareright,itwasmyfault.Maryisn’tachildIcanunderstand,butI
seewhereI’vebeenwrongjustthesame.”
“Yououghttohaveheldmetoaccount,”Isaid.
“Mary’shititagain,”Fathersaid;“yououghttohaveheldmetoaccount.
Somebody’sgottokeepthebooks.”
“IthoughtIkeptthemonlytoowell,”Mothersaidwithhernewcrookedsmile;
“wehaven’treachedanyconclusionexceptthatwe’vealldecidedwewere
wrong.”
“Wrongashell,”Fathersaidcheerfully.
“Willyougivemeaweek,Robert,todecidewhatIwanttodo?”
“Aslongasyoudecidemyway.”


“Whereis—Mrs.—Mrs.VanderWater?”
“GonetoCanada.”
“Tostay?”
“WithJimmieGreer,”saidFather.
“CallinBobby,”Isaid,afterapause,“andtalktohim.”
“WhatdoesBobbyknow?”Mothersaid.
“Almosteverything,”Isaid.
Bobbylookedaswhiteasasheetofpaperwhenhewassummoned.Nobody
realizeswhatthatchildgoesthroughinhisheadaboutallthefamilydifficulties.
“It’sgoingtobeallright,Bobby,”Isaid,asheappeared.
“It’sgettingfixed,”Fathersaid.
“Comehere,Bobby.”Mothersmoothedhishairbackfromhisforehead,andhe
puthisheadsilentlydownonhershoulder.
“Heneedsamother,too,”Isaid,“don’tyou,Bobby?”
Hejerkedhisheadtwice,withoutliftingit.
“He’smybaby,”Mothersaid.
“Well,Iguessheis,ifhe’llletyoudothattohim,”Isaid.“Comeon,Bobby,
let’shaveafewminutes’conversationamongourselvesoutside,”Iaddedas
Motherreleasedhimandlookedhelplesslyabout.Iknewshe’dhavetosay
somethingtoFatheraboutthatfurcoatbeforetheycouldpartamicably.
“Aretheygoingtocometogetheragain?”BobbyaskedmehoarselyafterIhad
bornehimofftothedug-out.
“Ithinkso,”Isaid.
“Whathasbecomeofthecorespondent?”


“Wheredidyoupickupsuchaword,Bobby?”Iaskedhimseverely.
“That’swhattheycallthem,isn’tit?”
“Wedon’thavetocallthisoneanything,”Isaid;“she’sgoneofftoCanada.”
“IthoughtshelookedkindoflikeThedaBara,didn’tyou?”
“No,Ididn’t,”Isaid;“ThedaBaraisfat.”
“Well,thisonelookedlikeherintheface,”Bobbyinsisted.“Idon’tseewhata
manwantstomakeafoolofhimselfoveravampfor.Icanimaginefallingin
lovewithanicecleangirllikeMaryPickford.”
“Well,don’tyouletmecatchyoufallinginlovewithanybody,”Isaid.
“IsMother’sbeaugoingtoSouthAmerica?”
“Bobby,thatisn’tveryrespectful.”
“Well,ishe?”
“Heisn’tcomingaroundhereverymuch,anyway.”
“Hewasallright,”Bobbysaid,“onlyhehungaroundtoomuch,Iguess.”
MotherexpressedsomeinterestinTonyCowlesafterthis,becausehiskeeping
onmytrailsopersistentlysuggestedanotherintriguetoher.Iexplainedtoher
thatsheneedn’tbarkupTonyCowles’streebecausehisinterestwasinPrunella,
andIwasonlyanoffshootofthatinterest.Itwasalittlebithumiliatingtokeep
onexplainingthattoeverybody,evenmyselfallthetime,butIkeptbravelytoit.
ShefinallydecidedthatTonywasaperfectlyharmlessfriendformetohave,and
subsided.
Ofcourse,itwaswonderfulformetohaveanybodylikethat.Wetooklong
walkstogetheranddrivesinthepark,andtalkedalongthelinesthatmyhungry
minddemanded.Hispointofviewoneverythingalmostexactlycoincideswith
mine,andwhenitdoesn’tallIhavetodoistoeducatemineuptoit.Heisso
soothinglyimpersonalabouteverything.Iusedtothinkthatthepersonalnote
wastheonlyoneitwasreallyinterestingtosound,butTonyhastaughtmehow


torunthewholescale,asitwere.WithCarringtontheonlythingIlikedtotalk
aboutwashowthingsaffectedme,andhelikedtogoonanalyzingthe
motivationoflife—andme—withthetacitideainmindofsomethingtocomeof
itthatItookatitsfacevalue.
“Ithinkweoughttohearsomemusictogether,”Tonysuggestedonedaywhen
weweresittinginthedug-outwiththewindowopenandthestrainsof
“Trovatore”oozingthroughthecrackfromahand-organdownbelow;“your
motherwouldn’tmindanoccasionalopera,wouldshe?Eveniftheyarelate.”
“I’vedoneworsethingsthanoperas,”Isaid;“onceIstayedoutallnightriding
upanddownthesubway.”
“That’sbetterthantheGrandCentralStation.IstayedallnightintheGrand
CentralStationoncewhenIcouldn’tgetahotel.”
“Thiswasn’tbecauseIcouldn’tgetahotel,”Isaid.
“Shocks?”heasked.
“Yes,”Isaid,“theworstone.TheoneIwenttomeethalfway.”
“Anddidn’tquitemake?”
“Ijustasbadasmadeit,”Isaid;“itwasonly”anaccidentthatIcameaway.The
belldidn’tring.”
“Didn’tit?”saidTonyencouragingly.
“It’sjustthesameasifithadrung,”Isaid,“asfarasmyintentionswent.There
isn’tanyreasonwhyyouoranybodyshouldthinkofmeasanespeciallynice
girl.”
“Ithinkwe’llbeginwiththe‘Coqd’Or,’”Tonysaidfrowningly,asifhehadn’t
beenlisteningtomydissertationonmyself.
“I’veheard‘Boris’and‘Parsifal’and‘Faust,’”Isaid,“andthat’sall.”
Tonylaughed.


“Didyoulikethemallequally?”
“Justabout.The‘Meistersingers’ismygreatambition,though.Idon’tknow
why,butI’vealwaysdreamedaboutit.”
“We’llhearitthefirsttimeit’sgiveninNewYork.Didyoulike’Parsifal’?”
“Itwashardtohearandhardtosee,butIacquiredatasteforit,”Isaid.“Iwent
withtheWebstergirlsintheircousin’sbox,anditdrovethemwild.”
“Ishouldthinkitmighthave,”Tonysmiled.
Hehasmetthemonce,andhefeelsaboutthemthewayFatherdoes,only
amusedbesides.Theybothmadehimbuttonuptheirwhitespats,whichare
aboutaslongasmybesteveninggloves.
“Ilovealloperaticmusic,”Isaid,“buttheonlykindIreallylikeisWagner.”
“Youremindmeofwhat.GeorgeMac-DonaldsaidofGod,”Tonysaid;“youare
easytopleaseandhardtosatisfy.”
“Well,Iguessthat’saboutit,”Isaid,“andyou’relikethatyourself.”
“Ami?”
“Yes,youare,”Isaid;“especiallyso—morethananybody.”
“Yousatisfyme,”Tonysaid.
FormysakeIthoughtwehadbettergetbacktothesubjectofPrunella.
“Prunellaisn’thardtosatisfy,”Isaid.
“She’sdelightfullyeasytoplease.Itookherthreepoundsofcaramelsyesterday
tiedupwithabowofblueribbon,ofthisthincloudystuff,youknow,andshe
tieditinthefrontofherblouseandhasbeenwearingiteversince.”
“Shelikesthosethings,”Isaid;“caramelsandattentions.”
“YouryoungfriendTommyNeversspendsallhissparetimewithher;didyou
knowit?”Tonyasked.


“Well,hetoldmethathedid.”
“Didhetellyouanythingelse?”
“HetoldmehowmuchhelikedPrunella.”
“Howmuchdoeshe?”
“Alot.”
“Doyouthinkhisattentionsareserious?”
“Onhispart,yes.”
“Ithinktheyareserious—onherpart,”saidTony,laughingatmygrammatical
construction.
“Doyouthinkshelikeshim?”Isaid.
“Ithinkshedoes.”
“Notreally?”
“Ithinkshe’sfallinginlovewithhimasfastasshecan.”
“Well,”Isaid.
“IalwaysregardedyoungNeversasratheryourproperty.”
“IalwaysregardedPrunella—”Isaid,andstopped.
“Oh!”hesaidthoughtfully.
“Tommytoldmethathewouldliketoliftheroutofhermisery,”Ibegan
rapidly;“hesaidhethoughtthatwhenamanfeltassorryforagirlashedidfor
Prunellathatwaswhathealwayswantedtodo.”
“Well,maybe.He’srightaboutthefresheningeffectsoffreshair,isn’the?”
“He’sverysweetaboutPrunella,”Isaid;“differentlyso,fromanywayI’veever
seenhimbefore.”


“He’sathoroughlyreliableboy.He’safflictedbyanacutecaseofyouth,that’s
all,andthatmendsitself.”
“I’mafflictedbyyouth,too,”Isaid.
“It’sbecomingtoyou”
“Ithinkmymotherandmyfatheraregoingtomakefriendsagain,”Isaid,
changingthesubjectoncemore.
“I’mgladtohearthat.”
“Idon’tknowthattheyaregoingtobehappyeverafter,”Isaid,“buttheywon’t
behappyanyotherway.”
“Loveisacuriousbusiness,”saidTonyCowles.
Icouldn’thelpwonderinghowheknew.
Thehand-organswitchedto“Thatdearoldpalofmine.”
“Youbelievethatyoucansmashathingtobits,andthenremoulditnearertothe
heart’sdesire,don’tyou?”Isaid.
“Ibelievethereisadestiny,”hesaid,smiling,“‘thatshapesourends,roughhew
themhowwewill.’Also,Ibelieve‘thattheworldissofullofanumberof
things’thatit’soursolemndutytobeashappyasthe—”
“Well-knownkings,”Ifinishedforhim.
“Yes,don’tyou—don’tyoureally?”
“I’vebeenawfullymiserable,”Isaid.
“Iknow.”
“DoyoubelieveinGod?”Isaid,afterasilence.
“Yes,dear,”saidTonyCowlesgently.


CHAPTERXIX
IWassopopularforafewdaysafterthisthatIhadhardlytimetoairoutthe
dug-outbetweenvisitations.Prunellacameandstitchedlingerierufflesina
smilingstateofabstraction,talkingagreatdealaboutTommyasifhewerea
matterofcourse,butnotallowingmeanythingbutgeneralizationsonthe
subject.TheWebstergirlscameandannouncedMertis’sengagementtoHanson
Hollowell,whomIdon’tthinkshehasanyintentionofmarrying;sheissoafraid
itwillgetintothepapers.
“WhenIcometothinkitalloverIdon’tthinkanythingwillinducemetoleave
Marion,”sheadmitted,“butIwantMariontogetanentanglementofherownfor
thetimebeing,andthenwecanseehowitworksout.”
“Hansonisrathernice,isn’the?”Isaid.
“Hehasabeastlytemper,”Mertissaid;“otherwiseImighttakehimmore
seriously.”
“Youcouldn’ttakehimmoreseriouslyonthefaceofit,”Isaid.
“Well,youknowhowthosethingsare.Yousortofdriftintothem,andthenyou
havetosaysomethingtoappeasethepoorman.Ifit’sno,youdon’tgetany
morepartiesandtheconfectionerysupplyabruptlyceases.”
“Iwillsayheisn’tatightwad,”Marionsaid;“youknowthat’sonethingI
alwayshadagainstyouracquisition,Maisie.Hewasawfullycarefulwithhis
money.Heactuallyletmepayforthattaxicabthattime,doyouremember?”
“Youinsisted,”Isaid.
“Well,whydidIinsist?Toberesisted,ofcourse.Ididn’twanttoforkoutmy
money.”
“Neitherdidhe,”saidMarion.
“Well,youlethimslip,didn’tyou,Maisie?”
“Yes,”Isaid,“Ireallydid.”


“Youcouldhaveheldontohimifyou’dwantedto.”
“Iknowit,”Isaid.
“Ihearnowthatthehyphenlady’shusbandisdivorcingher,andshe’sgoingto
marryCarrington.”
“Whathyphenlady?”
“Youknow,RedFeathers.”
“Doyouthinkit’sso?”Iasked.
“Well,it’sallovertown;butyounevercantell,canyou,Mertis?”
“Younevercan,”Mertisansweredcoolly.
“Well,”Marionsaid,“ifyouthinkofalikelycandidateforme,trothimalong,
andI’lllookhimover.Meantime,I’lldoasmuchforyou.”
“Maisiehasagentlemanfriend,”Mertissaidslyly,“AnthonyCowles.Maisie
knowswhichsideherbreadisbutteredonnow.”
“He’sawfullygoodpeople,”Marionsaid;“asgoodasHollowell,butisn’the
frightfullyheavyweight?”
“No,”Isaid,“heisn’t.He’sjustaboutright.”
“Hollowellneverhadanideainhislife,”Mertissaid;“that’swhyIlikehim.If
youtookoffthetopofhisheadnothingbutfeatherswouldflyout.”
“I’mgladyouthinkthat’sarecommendation,”Isaid.
“It’stheonlyone,”Mertissaidseriously,“ifyougetamanwhothinkshewants
todoyourthinkingforyou.”
ItmightbenecessaryinMertis’scase,buttherewasnogoodtellingherso.
Theyhadn’tbeenoutofthehousefiveminutesbeforeTommyarrived,bursting
withrevelations.Isteeredhimpastmyabsent-mindedmotherwhohaddoneher
politesttomybutterflyfriends,andhadsettleddowntocomparativequietagain,


writingaletter,toFatherIstronglysuspected,asshe’dhadalongonefromhim.
“OughtItostopandspeaktoher?”Tommyasked.“I’drathernot,ifitcanbe
avoided.I’msomoved,inagreatmanyways.”
“Mercy,no,”Isaid;“shehastroublesofherown.”
“MayIsmoke?”Tommysaid,aswesettled.
Helitupostentatiouslytoshowmehowhishandwastrembling.Itreallywas,
forthatmatter.
“She’sgoingto,”hesaidfinally.
“Marryyou?”
“Thinkofit,”Tommysaid;“shewantsaweektothinkitover.”
“Tellmeaboutit,”Idemanded.
“Well,it’stoosacredamattertospeakofverymuch,butthisiswhathappened.I
wentaroundtherethisafternoon,andthatCowlesfellowwasthere,buthesaw
thattherewassomethingseriousonandhewentaway.Ilikethatfellow.”
“SodoI,”Isaid.
“He’sbeenmightywhitetoPrunella.Shetoldmeabouthim.Well,hewent
away,andwesatdownonthesofatogether,and,well,youknowItoldyouhow
afellowfeelsaboutagirlthat’sinthestateoftroublePrunellaisin.Youhavean
irresistibleimpulsetosoothethem.Idon’tmeanthatyouthinkoftheminany—
anydesecratingway—”
“Iknowwhatyoumean,Tommy,”Isaid;“goon.”
“Well,Itookherhandinmine,andthenItoldher—”
“What?”Isaid.
“WhatI’vetoldyouaboutwantingtoliftheroutofhermisery.She—sheis
willing,itseems,orwillbewhenshehasthoughtitoverforaboutaweek.You
know,IfeelasifIcouldgetdownonmykneesandkissthehemofthatlittle


girl’sgarment.”
“Whydidn’tyou?”Iinquired.
“Idid,”saidTommyreverently.
“Whatabouthermother?”Isaid.
“Wedidn’tdiscussher;butsheknowsthatIwoulddotherightthingbyher
mother.”
“Shedrinks,youknow,Tommy.”
“Well,Idon’t,”Tommysaid;“wheredoesshegetit?”
“Idon’tknow.”
“Allthosethingswillsettlethemselves,”Tommysaid;“thelegislatureofmy
countryhastakensuchadisgracefulturnthatitmakesmybloodboilwhenI
thinkofit.IsupposeMrs.Pembertonisforcedtothesameshamefulexpedients
thatallotheranti-prohibitionistsare.”
“Well,youaren’t,Tommy,ifyoudon’tdrink.”
“It’stheprincipleofthething,”Tommysaid.“Weren’tyousurprisedthat
Prunellagavewaysoquickly?”
“Well,no,”Isaid.“TonyCowlestoldmetheotherdaythathethoughtNellawas
gettingdeeplyinterestedinyou.”
“Ilikethatfellow,”saidTommy.“WhatdoIhearaboutyourotherfriend
CarringtonChase?He’snamedascorespondentinadivorcecase.”
“Ididn’tknowthat,”Isaid.
“ThatMrs.Jones’shusbandisdivorcingheronCarrington’saccount.How’s
yourfather,Maisie?”
“Motherisn’tdivorcinghim,”Isaid,“ifthat’swhatyoumean.”
“I’mmightygladtohearthat.”


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