Part 4 out of 6
like the romantic side of the war, of course--like 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 for--for he took him as a representative of the Victorians.
Victorians, Victorians, who never learned to weep
Who sowed the bitter harvest that your children go to reap--
scribbled Amory in his note-book. The lecturer was saying something
about Tennyson's solidity and fifty heads were bent to take notes.
Amory turned over to a fresh page and began scrawling 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
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 virtuously--died."
"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
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,
Gantlets--but not to fling,
Thousands of old emotions
And a platitude for each,
Songs in the time of order--
And tongues, that we might sing."
* * * *
THE END OF MANY THINGS
Early April slipped by in a haze--a 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 regime.
"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 this--it'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 Arch--broken 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 generation--we'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 blue--a 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 roofs--it hurts . . .
"Good-by, Aaron Burr," Amory called toward deserted Nassau Hall, "you and
I knew strange corners of life."
His voice echoed in the stillness.
"The torches are out," whispered Tom. "Ah, Messalina, the long shadows
are building minarets on the stadium--"
For an instant the voices of freshman year surged around them and then
they looked at each other with faint tears in their eyes.
The last light fades and drifts across the land--the low, long land,
the sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again their lyres
and wander singing in a plaintive band down the long corridors of trees;
pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams,
and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower
something of this to keep, the essence of an hour.
No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of star
and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and earthy
afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting things
the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight my desire will
see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the splendor and the
sadness of the world.
May, 1917-February, 1919
A letter dated January, 1918, written by Monsignor Darcy to Amory,
who is a second lieutenant in the 171st Infantry, Port of Embarkation,
Camp Mills, Long Island.
MY DEAR BOY:
All you need tell me of yourself is that you still are; for the rest I
merely search back in a restive memory, a thermometer that records only
fevers, and match you with what I was at your age. But men will chatter
and you and I will still shout our futilities to each other across the
stage until the last silly curtain falls _plump!_ upon our bobbing heads.
But you are starting the spluttering magic-lantern show of life with much
the same array of slides as I had, so I need to write you if only to
shriek the colossal stupidity of people. . . .
This is the end of one thing: for better or worse you will never again be
quite the Amory Blaine that I knew, never again will we meet as we have
met, because your generation is growing hard, much harder than mine ever
grew, nourished as they were on the stuff of the nineties.
Amory, lately I reread Aeschylus and there in the divine irony of the
"Agamemnon" I find the only answer to this bitter age--all 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 world--and the Catholic
Church. I wonder where you'll fit in. Of one thing I'm sure--Celtic
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
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 things--we'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 splendid--rather
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
He is gone from me the son of my mind
And he in his golden youth like Angus Oge
Angus of the bright birds
And his mind strong and subtle like the mind of Cuchulin on
His brow is as white as the milk of the cows of Maeve
And his cheeks like the cherries of the tree
And it bending down to Mary and she feeding the Son of God.
His hair is like the golden collar of the Kings at Tara
And his eyes like the four gray seas of Erin.
And they swept with the mists of rain.
Mavrone go Gudyo
He to be in the joyful and red battle
Amongst the chieftains and they doing great deeds of valor
His life to go from him
It is the chords of my own soul would be loosed.
A Vich Deelish
My heart is in the heart of my son
And my life is in his life surely
A man can be twice young
In the life of his sons only.
Jia du Vaha Alanav
May the Son of God be above him and beneath him, before him and
May the King of the elements cast a mist over the eyes of the
King of Foreign,
May the Queen of the Graces lead him by the hand the way he can
go through the midst of his enemies and they not seeing him
May Patrick of the Gael and Collumb of the Churches and the five
thousand Saints of Erin be better than a shield to him
And he got into the fight.
Amory--Amory--I feel, somehow, that this is all; one or both of us is not
going to last out this war. . . . I've been trying to tell you how much
this reincarnation of myself in you has meant in the last few years . . .
curiously alike we are . . . curiously unlike. Good-by, dear boy,
and God be with you. THAYER DARCY.
* * * *
EMBARKING AT NIGHT
Amory moved forward on the deck until he found a stool under an electric
light. He searched in his pocket for note-book and pencil and then began
to write, slowly, laboriously:
"We leave to-night . . .
Silent, we filled the still, deserted street,
A column of dim gray,
And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat
Along the moonless way;
The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet
That turned from night and day.
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 tax--modern,
that's me all over, Mabel.
At any rate we'll have really knock-out rooms--you can get a job on some
fashion magazine, and Alec can go into the Zinc Company or whatever it
is that his people own--he'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
Tom, why don't you become a Catholic? Of course to be a good one you'd
have to give up those violent intrigues you used to tell me about,
but you'd write better poetry if you were linked up to tall golden
candlesticks and long, even chants, and even if the American priests are
rather burgeois, as Beatrice used to say, still you need only go to the
sporty churches, and I'll introduce you to Monsignor Darcy who really
is a wonder.
Kerry's death was a blow, so was Jesse's to a certain extent. And I have
a great curiosity to know what queer corner of the world has swallowed
Burne. Do you suppose he's in prison under some false name? I confess
that the war instead of making me orthodox, which is the correct reaction,
has made me a passionate agnostic. The Catholic Church has had its wings
clipped so often lately that its part was timidly negligible, and they
haven't any good writers any more. I'm sick of Chesterton.
I've only discovered one soldier who passed through the much-advertised
spiritual crisis, like this fellow, Donald Hankey, and the one I knew was
already studying for the ministry, so he was ripe for it. I honestly
think that's all pretty much rot, though it seemed to give sentimental
comfort to those at home; and may make fathers and mothers appreciate
their children. This crisis-inspired religion is rather valueless and
fleeting at best. I think four men have discovered Paris to one that
But us--you and me and Alec--oh, 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 owners--
or 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,
S'ever, dear Boswell,
The Education of a Personage
The time is February. The place is a large, dainty bedroom in the
Connage house on Sixty-eighth Street, New York. A girl's room: pink
walls and curtains and a pink bedspread on a cream-colored bed. Pink and
cream are the motifs of the room, but the only article of furniture in
full view is a luxurious dressing-table with a glass top and a three-
sided mirror. On the walls there is an expensive print of "Cherry Ripe,"
a few polite dogs by Landseer, and the "King of the Black Isles," by
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
ROSALIND: (Outside) What are you doing--trying 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 chorus.)
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
(This last suffices to draw CECELIA into the room.)
CECELIA: (Seating herself high upon lingerie) How do you mean--
temperamental? 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
(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_
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?
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 faces--and they come back
ALEC: They love it.
CECELIA: They hate it. She's a--she's a sort of vampire, I think--
and she can make girls do what she wants usually--only 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 average--smokes sometimes,
drinks punch, frequently kissed--Oh, yes--common knowledge--one 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
(ALEC and his mother go out.)
ROSALIND: (Outside) Oh, mother--
CECELIA: Mother's gone down.
(And now ROSALIND enters. ROSALIND is--utterly 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 it--but 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 herself--incipient 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
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,
On the night of her debut 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.
ROSALIND: Cecelia, darling, you don't know what a trial it is to be--
like 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. Now--if I were poor I'd go on the
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 man?
CECELIA: Often when you're particularly sulky, I've wondered why it
should all be wasted on just one family. (Getting up.) I think I'll
go down and meet Mr. Amory Blaine. I like temperamental men.
ROSALIND: There aren't any. Men don't know how to be really angry or
really happy--and 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 tell--
and 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 that--you'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 eyes--never 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
HE: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought--
SHE: (Smiling radiantly) Oh, you're Amory Blaine, aren't you?
HE: (Regarding her closely) And you're Rosalind?
SHE: I'm going to call you Amory--oh, come in--it'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
HE: I didn't know you were that way.
SHE: What did you expect?
HE: I thought you'd be sort of--sort of--sexless, you know, swim and play
SHE: Oh, I do--but not in business hours.
SHE: Six to two--strictly.
HE: I'd like to have some stock in the corporation.
SHE: Oh, it's not a corporation--it'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 know--in my mind.
HE: (Interested) Go on.
SHE: No, you--you go on--you've made me talk about myself. That's
against the rules.
SHE: My own rules--but 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
HE: No. I'm really quite dull.
(He evidently doesn't intend this to be taken seriously.)
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 dies."
HE: (Laughing) No, not that kind.
SHE: (Suddenly) I like you.
SHE: Modest too--
HE: I'm afraid of you. I'm always afraid of a girl--until I've kissed
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 afraid--but 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
HE: (Abstractedly) Yes, I suppose you could--like that.
SHE: Most people like the way I kiss.
HE: (Remembering himself) Good Lord, yes. Kiss me once more, Rosalind.
SHE: No--my 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
SHE: How old are you?
HE: Almost twenty-three. You?
HE: I suppose you're the product of a fashionable school.
SHE: No--I'm fairly raw material. I was expelled from Spence--I've
HE: What's your general trend?
SHE: Oh, I'm bright, quite selfish, emotional when aroused, fond of
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 mouth--hair, eyes,
shoulders, slippers--but _not_ my mouth. Everybody falls in love with
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't--if 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's--other people.
SHE: Let's pretend.
HE: No--I can't--it's sentiment.
SHE: You're not sentimental?
HE: No, I'm romantic--a sentimental person thinks things will last--
a romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is
SHE: And you're not? (With her eyes half-closed.) You probably flatter
yourself that that's a superior attitude.
HE: Well--Rosalind, Rosalind, don't argue--kiss me again.
SHE: (Quite chilly now) No--I have no desire to kiss you.
HE: (Openly taken aback) You wanted to kiss me a minute ago.
SHE: This is now.
HE: I'd better go.
SHE: I suppose so.
(He goes toward the door.)
SHE: (Laughing) Score--Home Team: One hundred--Opponents: Zero.
(He starts back.)
SHE: (Quickly) Rain--no 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: Good--I've been wanting to speak to you alone before we go
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 house--and unless things change Cecelia won't have the advantages
ROSALIND: (Impatiently) Well--what 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 one--or listening to it.
ROSALIND: (Sarcastically) Yes, listening to it _is_ better.
MRS. CONNAGE: And don't waste a lot of time with the college set--
little 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 cafes 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 done--you 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-night--youngish men.
ROSALIND: (Nodding wisely) About forty-five?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sharply) Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, _quite_ all right--they know life and are so adorably tired
looking (shakes her head)--but they _will_ dance.
MRS. CONNAGE: I haven't met Mr. Blaine--but I don't think you'll care
for him. He doesn't sound like a money-maker.
ROSALIND: Mother, I never _think_ about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You never keep it long enough to think about it.
ROSALIND: (Sighs) Yes, I suppose some day I'll marry a ton of it--out of
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
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.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come!
ROSALIND: One minute!
(Her mother leaves. ROSALIND goes to the glass where she gazes at
herself with great satisfaction. She kisses her hand and touches her
mirrored mouth with it. Then she turns out the lights and leaves the
room. Silence for a moment. A few chords from the piano, the discreet
patter of faint drums, the rustle of new silk, all blend on the staircase
outside and drift in through the partly opened door. Bundled figures
pass in the lighted hall. The laughter heard below becomes doubled and
multiplied. Then some one comes in, closes the door, and switches on the
lights. It is CECELIA. She goes to the chiffonier, looks in the drawers,
hesitates--then to the desk whence she takes the cigarette-case and
extracts one. She lights it and then, puffing and blowing, walks toward
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 grace--I b'lieve I've
heard my sister speak of you. Have a puff--they'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.)
* * * *
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The corner of a den down-stairs, filled by a very comfortable leather
lounge. A small light is on each side above, and in the middle, over the
couch hangs a painting of a very old, very dignified gentleman, period
1860. Outside the music is heard in a 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
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 blase, so indifferent--I still am.
ROSALIND: But not about me. I used to like you because you had brown
eyes and thin legs.
GILLESPIE: (Helplessly) They're still thin and brown. You're a vampire,
ROSALIND: The only thing I know about vamping is what's on the piano
score. What confuses men is that I'm perfectly natural. I used to think
you were never jealous. Now you follow me with your eyes wherever I go.
GILLESPIE: I love you.
ROSALIND: (Coldly) I know it.
GILLESPIE: And you haven't kissed me for two weeks. I had an idea that
after a girl was kissed she was--was--won.
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 nowadays.
GILLESPIE: Then why do you play with men?
ROSALIND: (Leaning forward confidentially) For that first moment, when
he's interested. There is a moment--Oh, just before the first kiss,
a whispered word--something 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 you--he 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 success.
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.
ROSALIND: I wonder if you know you love me.
RYDER: (Startled) What-- Oh--you 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 mean--mighty mean.
RYDER: Oh, I wouldn't say that.
ROSALIND: Oh, yes, I am--especially to the people nearest to me. (She
rises.) Come, let's go. I've changed my mind and I want to dance.
Mother is probably having a fit.
(Exeunt. Enter ALEC and CECELIA.)
CECELIA: Just my luck to get my own brother for an intermission.
ALEC: (Gloomily) I'll go if you want me to.
CECELIA: Good heavens, no--with 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 girls--I don't know. I'm awfully
attached to Amory. He's sensitive and I don't want him to break his
heart over somebody who doesn't care about him.
CECELIA: He's very good looking.
ALEC: (Still thoughtfully) She won't marry him, but a girl doesn't have
to marry a man to break his heart.
CECELIA: What does it? I wish I knew the secret.
ALEC: Why, you cold-blooded little kitty. It's lucky for some that the
Lord gave you a pug nose.
(Enter MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Where on earth is Rosalind?
ALEC: (Brilliantly) Of course you've come to the best people to find out.
She'd naturally be with us.
MRS. CONNAGE: Her father has marshalled eight bachelor millionaires to
ALEC: You might form a squad and march through the halls.
MRS. CONNAGE: I'm perfectly serious--for all I know she may be at the
Cocoanut Grove with some football player on the night of her debut.
You look left and I'll--
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
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?
GILLESPIE: (Desperately) I've been there. It's in the--the Middle West,
AMORY: (Spicily) Approximately. But I always felt that I'd rather be
provincial hot-tamale than soup without seasoning.
AMORY: Oh, no offense.
(GILLESPIE bows and leaves.)
ROSALIND: He's too much _people_.
AMORY: I was in love with a _people_ once.
AMORY: Oh, yes--her name was Isabelle--nothing at all to her except what
I read into her.
ROSALIND: What happened?
AMORY: Finally I convinced her that she was smarter than I was--then she
threw me over. Said I was critical and impractical, you know.
ROSALIND: What do you mean impractical?
AMORY: Oh--drive a car, but can't change a tire.
ROSALIND: What are you going to do?
AMORY: Can't say--run for President, write--
ROSALIND: Greenwich Village?
AMORY: Good heavens, no--I said write--not drink.
ROSALIND: I like business men. Clever men are usually so homely.
AMORY: I feel as if I'd known you for ages.
ROSALIND: Oh, are you going to commence the "pyramid" story?
AMORY: No--I was going to make it French. I was Louis XIV and you were
one of my--my-- (Changing his tone.) Suppose--we 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
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, nothing--only I want sentiment, real sentiment--
and I never find it.
AMORY: I never find anything else in the world--and 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: (Softly--the battle lost) I love you.
ROSALIND: I love you--now.
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
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
evening--always 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 July--in June. All life was
transmitted into terms of their love, all experience, all desires,
all ambitions, were nullified--their senses of humor crawled into corners
to sleep; their former love-affairs seemed faintly laughable and scarcely
For the second time in his life Amory had had a complete bouleversement
and was hurrying into line with his generation.
* * * *
A LITTLE INTERLUDE
Amory wandered slowly up the avenue and thought of the night as
inevitably his--the 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 singing--he
moved in a half-dream through the crowd as if expecting to meet Rosalind
hurrying toward him with eager feet from every corner. . . . How the
unforgettable faces of dusk would blend to her, the myriad footsteps,
a thousand overtures, would blend to her footsteps; and there would be
more drunkenness than wine in the softness of her eyes on his. Even his
dreams now were faint violins drifting like summer sounds upon the summer
The room was in darkness except for the faint glow of Tom's cigarette
where he lounged by the open window. As the door shut behind him,
Amory stood a moment with his back against it.
"Hello, Benvenuto Blaine. How went the advertising business 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!"
"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
"I knew you'd come to-night," she said softly, "like summer, just when I
needed you most . . . darling . . . darling . . ."
His lips moved lazily over her face.
"You _taste_ so good," he sighed.
"How do you mean, lover?"
"Oh, just sweet, just sweet . . ." he held her closer.
"Amory," she whispered, "when you're ready for me I'll marry 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 was--
was 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 office--
and where they might live. Sometimes, when he was particularly
loquacious, she went to sleep in his arms, but he loved that Rosalind--
all 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 that--and 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.
* * * *
FIVE WEEKS LATER
Again the library of the Connage house. ROSALIND is alone, sitting
on the lounge staring very moodily and unhappily at nothing. She has
changed perceptibly--she 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
ROSALIND: (With a very weary expression that is quite new to her face.)
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
income--and you know he's earning thirty-five dollars a week in
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 glances--and 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
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 me--so tired; I know every line of them.
(Their eyes meet for a second and then she begins to cry--a tearless
ROSALIND: Oh, we're so darned pitiful!
ROSALIND: Oh, I want to die!
AMORY: Rosalind, another night of this and I'll go to pieces. You've
been this way four days now. You've got to be more encouraging or I
can't work or eat or sleep. (He looks around helplessly as if searching
for new words to clothe an old, shopworn phrase.) We'll have to make a
start. I like having to make a start together. (His forced hopefulness
fades as he sees her unresponsive.) What's the matter? (He gets up
suddenly and starts to pace the floor.) It's Dawson Ryder, that's what
it is. He's been working on your nerves. You've been with him every
afternoon for a week. People come and tell me they've seen you together,
and I have to smile and nod and pretend it hasn't the slightest
significance for me. And you won't tell me anything as 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 office--couldn't write a line. Tell me
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 just--us. 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 afternoon--and, oh, Dawson took him on his lap and
talked to him and promised him an Indian suit--and next day he remembered
and bought it--and, oh, it was so sweet and I couldn't help thinking he'd
be so nice to--to our children--take care of them--and I wouldn't have to
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't--it won't!
ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memory--tucked away in my
AMORY: Yes, women can do that--but not men. I'd remember always, not
the beauty of it while it lasted, but just the bitterness, the long
AMORY: All the years never to see you, never to kiss you, just a gate
shut and barred--you don't dare be my wife.
ROSALIND: No--no--I'm taking the hardest course, the strongest course.
Marrying you would be a failure and I never fail--if 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 listen:
"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 time--let 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
AMORY: Rosalind, we're on each other's nerves. It's just that we're both
high-strung, and this week--
(His voice is curiously old. She crosses to him and taking his face in
her hands, kisses him.)
ROSALIND: I can't, Amory. I can't be shut away from the trees and
flowers, cooped up in a little flat, waiting for you. You'd hate me in
a narrow atmosphere. I'd make you hate me.
(Again she is blinded by sudden uncontrolled tears.)
ROSALIND: Oh, darling, go-- Don't make it harder! I can't stand it--
AMORY: (His face drawn, his voice strained) Do you know what you're
saying? Do you mean forever?
(There is a difference somehow in the quality of their 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 ways--in others--
well, I'm just a little girl. I like sunshine and pretty things and
cheerfulness--and 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, please--oh,
don't break my heart!
(She presses the ring softly into his hand.)
ROSALIND: (Brokenly) You'd better go.
(She looks at him once more, with infinite longing, infinite sadness.)
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory--
(He goes to the door, fumbles for the knob, finds it--she sees him throw
back his head--and 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.)
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 house--
a 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 decision--the 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.
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.
"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 things--people 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
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
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 some--some 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 Street.
Shanley's was very dim. He was conscious that he was talking in a loud
voice, very succinctly and convincingly, he thought, about a desire
to crush people under his heel. He consumed three club sandwiches,
devouring each as though it were no larger than a chocolate-drop.
Then Rosalind began popping into his mind again, and he found his lips
forming her name over and over. Next he was sleepy, and he had a hazy,
listless sense of people in dress suits, probably waiters, gathering
around the table. . . .
. . . He was in a room and Carling was saying something about a knot in
"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 high-balls--"
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.