The Project Gutenberg eBook of The unwelcome man

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Title: The unwelcome man

a novel

Author: Waldo David Frank

Release date: January 22, 2024 [eBook #72781]

Language: English

Original publication: Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1917

Credits: Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from scanned images of public domain material from the Google Books project.)


[The image of the bookcover is unavailable.]







Copyright, 1917,
By Little, Brown, and Company.

All rights reserved

Published, January, 1917

B. J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, U.S.A.






It threatened a Christmas of wet winds and heavy moods. The air was sluggish. Winter had died to a tepid dampness. Snowdrifts were mire; and where had been clear skies was now a dull and lowering shroud. It was as if, at its last effort, the year had lost heart and purpose. There was a note of spiritual sagging in this turn from the exuberance of cold to a siege of muddy rivulets and stagnant vapors and grey trees. The brilliant storm that had swept the country white was now a scourge of swamp upon the land-side. And through the minor harmony of dripping leafage and fulsome roads and drench-stained houses came a fret of chill, too slight to retrieve the season from its languor, yet real enough to stultify the warmth.

This was the setting of Quincy’s birth.


In from Main Street and away from the salt air that fluttered toward it like a curtain’s fringe, a paltry, sordid stretch of lights; a road much rutted by last summer’s traffic; a straggling array of shops, saloons, dim and bedraggled with the rain—the heart of Harriet, Long Island. And then, a narrow street, loomed over by great oaks and screening cedars alien in this regardless majesty of Nature to the pot-like,{4} worried houses that lay back in it, making their presence known with faint streaks of lights that fretted the calm gloom like human breath in a black dungeon. Beyond, scarce glimpsed, a rising motley of blue snow and rock,—a meadow. And just before this termination, where a sharp street-lamp ceased to blink against the vapors and the trees stopped,—the House. Irregular flagstones as a path to it through oozing sod that would be unkempt grass in June. A leak of orange lamp-light through the porch; another, faint from the upper story; a stocky shadow of façade, thrust in the more minor darkness.

This was the spot upon which Quincy was born.


A horse plodded down the street, the elastic beat of hoofs against the slough of mud. A lamp in revolt against the drizzling night, which it seemed somehow to fend off from its scant radiance, threw a glimpse upon the horse’s steaming form. He dragged a buggy sealed in rubber coverings; the reins passed over the drenched flap whence came the gleam in the swift lamp-light of two heavy hands. Without guidance, the horse turned up the carriage path at the side of the House, eagerly, while his load, rattling over the slight break from the street, mounted after. The stable door was open and they drew in—the snort of horse, the crush of wheels, the damp pungence of it all, a note of comfort against the weather. Josiah Burt unknit the rubber flap and emerged laboriously. He was a huge, heavy man with eyes that shone bright even by the dim glamor of two smoking lamps. Tenderly, he unharnessed his horse, rubbed him down, prodded his soft nose with a gesture of affection and let him trot clanking and neighing to his stall, with{5} a slap on his haunch. And then, while the brute settled with crunch and snort and hoof-tramp to his meal, Josiah Burt swung a blurred lantern from its hook. Where had been a sharp interplay of orange fields and shooting shadows, blackness now rushed in as the man went out. He slid the door shut, bolted it and made his way, humming a tune.

The dining room was a low, long apartment muffled with portières faded brown from red, and with coarse grey curtains that had been white. At the table, sat five children. There were two empty places, one for the father, one for Mrs. Cripper, who always took charge of the Burt household while Sarah was upstairs adding another to it or recuperating from the drain of the effort. Before this place steamed a broad dish of corn beef, and over it was the plentiful figure of a woman whose prim, dark blue dress seemed in curious contrast to her beefy arms, her round florid face and the little ringlets of hair that stood awry like relics of coquetry after a long dousing. Josiah thrust through the portières and silently sat down.

Then, “How’s everything, Christine?” he asked.

“Why don’t you go upstairs first to Sarah and find out?”

“After’ll do,” the man grunted.

The children agreed. They were waiting for their dinner.

Mrs. Cripper dished out a plate-full and called Sylvia, the eldest, with a smile: “Here.”

The girl was fourteen, angular, blond, nervously put up. She left the room. Beside her place was a lad but a year younger—Josiah junior—with a dark face that wore a scowl of pathetic disillusion. And on the table’s farther flank sat three others: Mars{6}den who was nine, Jonas who was six, Rhoda whose five years required her chair to be buttressed up by cushions. One mood joined them all—intentness upon dinner, indifference to all else. Mrs. Cripper doled out and sank into her chair. The prim dress was too tight, but it held. Sylvia returned, seated herself demurely and began to eat. Potatoes, doughnuts, tea were on the table. Mrs. Cripper helped the two youngest of those present; the others reached out for themselves. All ate what pleased them. No one spoke. And no one seemed adverse or uncomfortable, in the silence.

Mrs. Cripper, at length, had news to impart:

“Sarah’ll be gettin’ up, tomorrow.”

Josiah took the news, as if stoically. Then, his eyes twinkled and he looked up.

“So you’ll be goin’?” he observed.

“Yes, thank you.” Mrs. Cripper was offended.

“Oh, it probably’ll not be for long,” he appeased her.

“I think this is all, Josiah.”

“Thank God for that!” Bitter humor had precedence, in his tone, before the real hope.

“Don’t take on that way.”

The man examined the woman. A boiled potato stood on his fork. The brightness of his heavy-jowled face came out, as his lips curled.

“I can understand why you’re against race-suicide. It’s your livin’.”

Mrs. Cripper dropped her knife in protest. The rattling unleashed a repressed impulse in the man. A great fist fell on the flimsy table. “As for me—I’m sick and tired of the whole thing! I’m—” he changed his mood and added, “I’m a joke, I am!” And, as{7} if with relentless logic, his face wreathed in a smile that was actually merry.

Mrs. Cripper did not understand. She observed that Josiah was smiling. She did not like that. So she spoke to Sylvia:

“Did you look in and see if Adelaide and Thomas was all right?”

“They’re asleep—” said the young girl.

“And Mama too?”

“Guess so.”

Once more came the more comfortable silence.

This was the household into which Quincy was born.


The upper light, visible from the street through a pall of fog and a green shade and a drapery of curtain, came from a bedroom. Sarah lay propped up with pillows, her hair black and bronze against them. A lamp, shielded by a hand-embroidered guard—green on cream yellow—was on a table in the center of the room. The light fell on a faded carpet, the dun upholstered chairs, the wall papered in white with crimson flowers. In the shadows were the cabinet, the mantel littered with china ornament, and an old crib with its new burden of a much older story.

The door creaked open and Sylvia, carrying food, came in. She looked at her mother and saw a rather worn-out, emaciated woman with big eyes that seemed somehow hot. The spectacle displeased her. It went ill with her desire to eat her dinner. The room was musty, close, clinging. The woman in bed seemed similar in color, in mood, in nature. And even to Sylvia, the new old thing in the Family cradle was an irritating repetition. She looked on her mother as{8} in some pitiful way responsible, yet helpless; a sort of fated carrier for some objectionable germ.

“Thank you, Sylvia,” said Mrs. Burt as the child placed the dish before her. And then, she waited—as if for a greeting more desired than food.

Sylvia stepped to the door. She hesitated.

“Anything else, Mama?” she asked, miserable in this dull chamber of life.

“Nothing, thank you.”

The child closed the door gingerly behind her. And Sarah Burt, inured to a great want beyond the luxury of denying herself a lesser one, began her meal.

There was a long silent wait. The woman heard the burr of the fine rain on her window, the plash of a horse, the pierce of a passing voice. She heard her jaws, the faint crack in her ears as she swallowed. Ceasing, she heard her own breath. Holding it, she heard the breath of her child. Once, a fragment of crude rumble came from below—a shattering remark of her husband. She placed the empty plate on the floor beside her bed. Now, she heard the glow of the lamp; she heard the interminable rotting of the curtains, the ancient cabinet—the slow, measured swing of inanimate life. And then, rocked in the stifled rhythm of her room, she fell asleep.

When she awoke, her husband was standing beside her bed.

“Hello, Josiah,” she exclaimed in a high voice. “I must have dozed off.” What she feared was that he might think he had awakened her. That would irritate him. She must appear at once to have been expecting him, yet not to have been painfully expecting him; to be ill yet not to be unpleasantly ill; to fear him yet not to be afraid of him. So subtle a permu{9}tation is commonplace in the arithmetic of woman.

“How are you?” asked Josiah.

“I’m much better, dear. I’ll be up, tomorrow. I’ve told Christine. Do you want to come to bed?” Her pleasure at his interest had made her voluble.

Josiah looked at her a moment. His eyes travelled to the cradle. Then, he spoke.

“That’s what I wanted to speak to you about. I ain’t got much money, these days. But I’ve bought two single beds. They’ll be here tomorrow. They cost me twenty dollars. But they’ll be a good investment, even if I don’t get a cent for this one. Go to sleep now. I’m going to spend the night at the Inn.”

He left the room.

This was the mother of Quincy.{10}


Dr. Gresham joined Mr. and Mrs. Burt in the parlor. There they sat cowed by fear. Something was wrong with Sylvia and Josiah junior who lay upstairs in bed. The physician, with a broad glance, took in his audience before he spoke. The couple sat in opposite corners of the room—a square, colorless arrangement in false brocade, knick-knacks and musty varnish. Sarah was on a cane stool which enabled her long back to be as stiff and angular as possible. Her black hair was stringy over her sallow face. She was only thirty-three. But her eyes, deep, grey blue eyes with a wash of timidity and a fret of fever forever in them, showed that once she must have been passionate and responsive. Josiah lay half back in an armchair. Between his vest and his trousers was an hiatus of blue shirt. His thread tie looked comical against the expansive bulk of his body. His eyes were small, sheer, energetic. His mouth, also, was small. But its regressive curl bespoke inertia. A day’s beard stood in purple ridges upon his florid cheeks. He tapped the chair with stout fingers—whose nails he invariably bit. Sarah tapped the carpet with her house-slippers. Her feet had lost their shape.

“It’s as I feared: both of them have scarlet fever.”

Sarah caught her breath and passed a long hand over her forehead, brushing back the hair. Her eyes half closed. Then, she looked at her husband. He jumped up, his face tortured.{11}

“We’ll spare no expense, Doctor! Tell Sarah jest what to do. I’ll harness the buggy for the medicine.” He went toward the door.

“There’s one thing got to be done right off,” Dr. Gresham intercepted him. “Your wife can’t nurse these patients and her baby too. You’d better ride right over to Codgel’s Farm in North Harriet and take the infant with you. Mary’s just good, I happen to know. She can wet-nurse him till this is over. I’ll give you a short note. Mrs. Burt can stay here then,—and attend to things.”

“Right away?” At last came Sarah’s stifled voice.

The doctor nodded. “This thing is nearly a week old.”

The danger to the other children rushed into the woman’s mind. She held her panic. “I’ll get him ready.”

And husband and wife went together into the hall.

“I knew that kid meant bad luck,” growled Josiah as he marched toward the kitchen. And as Sarah mounted the laborious stairs, he might have heard, had he waited, lost in the slow thud of her feet on the steps, a tiny sob—the stolen luxury of womanhood for Sarah, behind his back.


These were hard days for Josiah Burt.

Nature seemed to have given him a fixed capacity of love. Upon Sylvia, his first-born, an overflowing measure had been showered. And to Josiah junior went an equal quantity, held so perhaps by the impetus of his name, which thereby singled out this son to be the recipient of his own hopes and dreams. With Marsden, enough of his natural bent remained to make an honorable showing. And the girls that{12} followed, Rhoda and Adelaide, were babies of such charm and irresistible persuasion that they received a share of quite esthetic love in place of the now low-running father’s instinct. With Thomas had come indifference; with Quincy Octavus, so named for the fifth son and the eighth child,—since Josiah nursed the belief that Quincy was a Yankee form of Quintus,—had come revolt. All of the man’s paternity was lodged in his two eldest children. And now, they lay in fever. All of the artist in him, which once had gone to a fresh and gracious wife, centered now upon the two baby girls whose hair and gleaming eyes made them famed in Harriet. And when he thought at all of Quincy, it was as a harbinger of greater want and worry, or as an eloquent reason for keeping henceforth aloof from Sarah.

Josiah had the heart of a child—primitively brave and tender, cowardly, and subtly, progressively savage. His children’s illness daunted him. So he protected his lack-courage and his pained affection by added coldness to his wife, whom he blamed explicitly for everything except the weather, and by a really Gargantuan animosity for the infant who had been sent sucking his father’s substance in North Harriet. Either the bad turn of his affairs was responsible for Quincy, or he for them. It mattered little. The dislike was engrained. Once that, it could easily branch out with catholic perseverance to the woman that had borne him and to all miseries that might happen after.

The upshot of the scarlet-fever was that both Sylvia and Josiah junior died. And now, in this bitter respite, Sarah remembered her last-born and brought him home.{13}

His profession of surveyor was the sole source of income to Josiah’s household. It was a steady, reasonable prop. But it made no provision for unintermittent doctor’s bills, two funerals and the wet-nursing of an eighth child. In most walks of life, it is more costly to bury a child than to support it. The family was in debt. Josiah had sold his horse and carriage; he had tried to sell an anonymous land lot near Red Bear, Wyoming, which hope of minerals had tempted him to purchase ten years before. At that time, he had been the prosperous, sanguine father of two children, the husband of a wife with an amiable figure. Stubbornness alone now kept him from letting the land lapse through failure of tax payment. He had lost hope of it. But a bitter strain in the man took pleasure in the irony of his remote, draining possession. It served him as a reminder of past projects, as a quite literally dry yet eloquent allusion to the downward grade which he fancied he had traversed by a route measured with the coming of new babies and the going of old hopes. Humor had a lodging in Josiah’s heart. And so it was that, mortgaging his cottage, he paid his tax on the Wyoming plot, all with a pinch of perverse amusement.

“We’ll save it as a burial ground for you and me, Sarah,” he remarked. And when his wife did not smile at the jest, wincing only with the gall beneath it, he was logical enough to know his pleasantry successful.

They sat in the parlor, that night of Quincy’s home-coming. The past year of Sarah’s life was stamped upon her face; or rather it seemed to have possessed it, to have wrung and tortured it into the very symbol of that past year’s spirit. The final trial had begun{14} with the first stirrings of Quincy. Indeed, this mute yet shattering oracle within a woman’s body is often a mark of agony upon her soul. At the end, is the travail of the flesh. But often, that anguish comes almost as a balm, when the soul’s misery and the mind’s labor have made her faint, to revive in the pain of birth a quickened mother from what was an almost lifeless woman, numbed with her foreboding. Such was the case with Sarah. While Nature worked in her, she had loathed her function. The long shadow of labor held her torpid, spiritless. The act of bearing flung her once more into the light, into the living. It was as if she, also, had been born. But the new throb in her breast, like that in her child, was frail and hazardous.

And then had come the fever; the bearing off of Quincy beyond sight and helping, almost beyond thought; the double loss; the sudden loom once more into reality of this infant whom a cloud of fate had shut off from the mother’s vision.

There, upstairs, he slept—isolated still. And Sarah, her elbows on the table, gazed wonderingly across to the brooding figure of her husband. The lamp-light reached out despairingly against the shadowed gloom. Its yellow fingers touched scantly on Josiah’s face. Sarah followed it. The folds of flesh were heavy and moist. The eyes were lost in their lids. It was a sorrowful face. The lamp-light was of no avail save to display it. And then,—the strangeness of her thought shocked Sarah: how should lamp-light affect a heart? what was light? what was anything? why was the dark uncomfortable, after all? Her mind groped upward toward her baby. But she could not find him. When her mind went groping,{15} always it stumbled down upon Sylvia and Josiah junior. She would think of the living; there came the dead. Why was this? Why did thinking of the two who were buried seem like the warm glow of the lamp, and thought of her last born appear like a vague depth lost in a shadow? It should have been reversed—this figure. Yet so it was. And Sarah did not care for shadows.

A half knitted garment was in Sarah’s hands. Listlessly she let it fall in her lap.

In the table drawer were letters from Sylvia and “Jo”—scrawls to her from the mountains, where last summer her husband had taken them, while she remained in Harriet with the other children—and Quincy under her heart. She took the letters, held them long and read them swiftly, again and again, as if each time, in her too cursory way (the product of inner conflict), she had lost a phrase....

The sweater for upstairs must be done, however.{16}


In the room of Sarah and Josiah stood two beds, in place of the one. It was to that one they had come, when they were married. Sarah was eighteen then, ten years the younger of the two. Josiah had begun by thriving in his affairs. He had taken on flesh in token of his natural love of living; he had taken on bitterness in token of Sarah’s rôle. So at least, it seemed to Sarah. She was thirty-three, and already she had outlived her husband.

At times, with this thought, a flood of anger came as she looked at the two prim, sneering beds that marked her punishment. For punishment it was—humiliating, permanent. But more often than anger and more lasting, came the sense of failure, the taste of ashes in her mouth, the waste of desert before her eyes. But Sarah had taken on no flesh. And she was not clever enough to take on bitterness.

With March had come a revival of winter, and of misfortune. The country had been frozen ruggedly. Marsden, the eldest now of the Burt children, had been playing Indian. He had scuffled to the low roof of the porch, where lay a thin, insidious scale of ice. He had slipped and fallen. Once more, the Mother was flung helpless, mindless, into the shadows. Marsden had been brought back from the Hospital in Brooklyn. His life was saved. It was to be the life of a cripple.

This afternoon in the late spring, Sarah stood alone{17} in the room, before the oval mirror of her bureau. She was examining herself.

Marsden lay muffled up on the porch. Quincy was asleep in the room that had been Marsden’s. The two windows facing forward to the street were open; but Sarah had thrown-to the shutters. The cries of the other children came up from the lawn—joyous, sharp, petulant variations on the theme of youth. Sarah could hear them well, and love them. A portion of her senses was forever fixed on them, interpreting their moods, primed to detect a signal of distress or danger as they romped on, and to rush down in help. Since the accident to Marsden, even in sleep she was a half-cocked trigger of anxieties, a wrack of nerves singing with strain.

But this was spring. And Sarah was only thirty-three. However her mind might bend to the deep business of her children, the eyes that looked at her from the mirror were not so much a mother’s as a woman’s.

She had come up to change her waist. She lingered, undressed, trying to understand. For Sarah knew that the reason given by Josiah was a pretext. There was but one truth, though there were a thousand reasons. That truth was—coldness. To Josiah, Sarah was no longer a woman to be loved.

So, with the spring sun splintering through the shutters, Sarah looked at herself and tried to understand. The room was in shadow. It appeared cramped and painful with its low ceiling and its dash of red flowers on the wall, its heavy draperies, and its unhappy beds. The bureau was between the shuttered windows. And where stood Sarah, a sun’s ray fell on her breast, one lighted a spray from her dull{18} mass of hair, another shot aslant her arm, pointing its poverty of curve, its pathos of angle and declivity where the flesh fell in and the bone ridged out. Yes:—she looked old enough. And yet, all that had once been lovable was still somehow there.

In Sarah was the contradiction of a woman given over to a conscious, self-fashioned life, in whom once had reigned the unconscious and wild fervors of girlhood. Her mouth was long, sensitive at its points, although the lips had flattened and grown less tender. There was a responsive fire in her eyes although some chill had curtailed it, even as the smoulder of her lips seemed dying out. Her expression—the gentle gradation of all her face together—had weathered best. Here was warmth, even strength. But as Sarah’s examining gaze fell, it found worse fortune. Her throat had lost its tightness; its vague bagginess beneath the chin was grey against the sun on her breast. And here too was failure. Her bosom was no longer fresh, elastic. It bespoke weariness. It lacked the quality that had always made her charming in Dutch neck. So Sarah covered it quickly with her waist, ere a too poignant recognition of her defeat here bore in upon her. For here, wishing could not defeat her eyes. Her efforts might cast a glamor on her face making her see afresh what once was there; but the drab dullness of her body was beyond the scope of her illusion.

It was all obvious: the stiff angle of her brown petticoat, the long rigidity of her back, the narrowness above her waist, the dry impoverishment of her shoulders, the fleshless nape of her neck, the unlit mass of her hair. And yet, a glimpse of her eyes as they went out, half suppliant, half proud, to prove{19} her worth, destroyed this obviousness. For beneath the blur of sadness in which their glance was bathed, there was a power of spirit, pregnant of miracles, if only the man she loved had cared to call them forth. But after all, it was inexorably true—the acknowledgment beat against what she chose to see:—dismissed from the fair office to which she had been originally called, thrown back upon a maze of service without the gift which had transfigured it, she was still really young! In the tremor of her mouth, the frightened passion of her eyes, flashed somehow forth a vision as of one being buried alive.

Rapidly, now, Sarah completed her dressing. With a care strange to her, she tidied her hair, making a ribbon serve as fillet for it. And then, she threw open the shutters. The golden light swept in upon her face. Two heavy lines within each cheek, a furrow hinting on the forehead came out, as her mood faded before the day’s more real brilliancy. So Sarah tore off the ribbon. With a last effort, she returned to her hair. With her brush, she tried to bring back to it a show of wave and of resiliency. But her touch was heavy; and the opaque mass failed to respond. The woman who can feel no decoration in her hair is miserable. For here, in most women, lurks the aura of their desire to please. The sense of beauty there lifts the plain woman above a too stifling consciousness. The sense of failure, there, will weigh on the fairest woman like a pall. Sarah’s next move was the gesture of a housewife, stubbornly resolved not to become a dowd. Sighing, she smoothed out her skirt over her hips. And then, she went to look after Quincy.

As she entered the little room which had been{20} Marsden’s, a flood of vague longing swept over her. She caught up the infant and strained him against her breast. Seated on his cot, she swayed widely to and fro, her child’s body warm upon her own. There was a bitter satisfaction in her embrace. With it, she had almost forgotten Quincy. He was, for the nonce, a mere luscious symbol of her dreary untempered life. He was to be hugged, to be felt, to be experienced.

She was holding him too tight. And he began to cry. In an instant, Sarah recalled the fact of her son. She held him now, carefully, tenderly. And the child’s crying ceased. She looked down upon his rosy, wrinkled face. She kissed his eyes—bright blue they were. She drew delight in cradling his dimpled fists in her own outdrawn hands. And then, she began to speak to him.

“Excuse me, dearest,” she said, “excuse me for everything. Excuse me, not only for having squeezed you so hard, but also for having given you birth.”

As she was silent, she wept. A deep sense of pain seemed to envelop them together. And in that sense, they became almost one, again.

“Quincy, my baby,—forgive me,” she whispered. She placed her wet face against his and held it there, waiting for his response. And so she remained—swayed in her uncharted feelings—agony and a sweet joy of life. And the strange conflict that swayed her rocked her child to sleep.

She placed him back between his covers and closed the door gently behind her. The spring in her heart was hurting her. She knew not what to do, where to go, in order to dispel this subtle restlessness. The children below were content without her. It was al{21}most time to be cooking supper. But she felt nauseous at the prompting. In her own house, in her own hall, she stood, hesitant, palpitant, unnerved and ill-at-ease. What was come over her? She sought refuge, back in her room. She flung herself face down, upon her bed—as a girl might, and as no woman should need to. And there she lay, not thinking, scarcely feeling, luxuriously adrift in an element that was both hot and cold. But this could not last. She must start supper going; she must put Thomas and Adelaide to bed. She did.


Sarah went to her husband in the parlor. He sat at the table, roughly fingering a batch of papers. Business had gone better this spring. But it had failed to pace the stride of outlay. The drain of the Brooklyn Hospital had sunk Josiah deeper than ever into debt. And he was brooding. No word of kindness or of fellowship came from him, those days. The seeming purpose of fate to meet him and the rise in his affairs with always another blow appealed to the man’s instinct for irony. It was to him as if he were playing a game, playing it well, yet destined to go down before stacked cards. Everything seemed to point to an invidious combination. The very fact of his increasing business, with the gall it added, seemed proof to him that an Intelligence was at work against him. His strokes of fortune made him suffer, since they did no good. His wife’s serene behavior made him suffer, since his emotions balked at acknowledging or rewarding it. The fact of his power always to stem a tide, always to go on barely, made him suffer, since it prevented what in his mood had seemed a luxury—the final breaking-up, the sureness of an End.{22}

As Sarah came in and took a rocker across the table, he lifted his head from his papers, glanced at her impatiently, and then plunged back into his scrutiny. And his behavior also made him suffer. For he craved to regain warmth for his wife; in hurting her he hurt himself with concomitant misgivings. He struggled hard against the new, indomitable habit of his heart, to couple Sarah with Quincy, and him with all the misery and sorrow that his coming had seemed to unleash upon them. But it was in vain. He could not battle against his growing nausea for all that was nearest to him. His mind might dilate with keenness upon the tribulations of Sarah, upon her strong humility, upon the puerile unfairness of his attitude. He could not mend that part of him which ruled him. He could not reach it, with all his reason. Always, this part within him flung him back upon the loss of his two favorite children, upon the accident to Marsden, upon the link between these misfortunes and his wife. And with his heart so turned, he could not divorce the association,—could not but regard Sarah with insuperable reproach.

Sarah was darning stockings. And when Josiah broke the silence her hands knocked nervously together. For she had been inured to his silence as the more bearable of evils. She gulped. Then she mastered her curious fright, set aside her work and looked up.

“Sarah,” her husband began, “I’ve found a way of gettin’ rid of the Wyoming land. And though it’s robbery and a loss, I’m goin’ to take it.”

“But Josiah—”

“The Shinone Land Company of Billings, Montana, offers me two thousand dollars. The fact that{23} they offer me anything at all makes me suspicious. But even a dollar of tax—well, I can’t feel I have a right to. So there’s an end of that fond story.”

He threw the letter over into her lap.

Sarah took it. But she did not read it. She was dwelling on his tone and on the breaking that it seemed to cover. She knew for what this land was symbol, in Josiah’s mind. She had no hope of it. But she feared to have its going added to the long list of other things now gone. As a property, it might be a worthless drain. As an idea, it still meant much to him. Her spirit faltered at the thought of this last mark of his enthusiastic youth erased by the present. Turning to look at him, Sarah was seconded in her conviction. Josiah was resting his head in his two hands, elbows upon the table. And his gaze went past her—far beyond. It seemed to be following the swift passage of a hope. This investment had not been the dearest portion of his hopes. Josiah was no materialist. Simply, it was the last. And now it was going—vanishing—to join the other ghosts.

Sarah rose and came to his side. She placed her hands on his two shoulders.

“Josiah,” she said.

The man gazed on.



It was not easy to talk to a man’s shoulders, particularly since she loved his face. But Sarah mustered courage.

“I have a feeling about that property, Josiah. Let’s hold on to it. For good luck, dear.”

“I can’t afford to.”

“But, Josiah—listen. You seem to have forgot{24}ten. That money of mine. It ain’t much. And it’s true—we was always going to let it lie, collecting interest for the children. But it’s not enough to count, that way. And it will pay that tax, for some time to come. Let’s take a chance, Josiah. Let’s be daring—and—and take a chance. Let’s hold on to the land.”

She stopped, because somehow—despite the trifling subject—there were too many tears.

Her husband jumped up and faced her. “I’ve got no hold on your money,” he said sharply.


He felt the pain expressed in her reproach. The knowledge of it made him uncomfortable. He saw that the one decent thing which he could do was to accept.

“All right, Sarah,” he spoke stiffly,—“if you’re fool enough to want it,” and left the room.{25}


Quincy lies on his back. He is at the age when one feels most completely, and yet when one’s world is most completely logical. Soon, his first birthday will be celebrated and the campaign of dwarfing his emotions, battering down the one sufficient Rationale of life that he will ever have, will be on foot. Innumerable projections from an indigestible world will come to trouble him. But now, everything that he absorbs, he absorbs literally. All of it becomes the stuff of himself, as surely as the milk he sucks. In his own world, he is omniscient and omnipresent.

None the less, he lies sprawling on his back. He is alone in the room. He is crying. His mother enters.

By now, he can distinguish her. The first state of his life is already buried; the woman that first gave him milk is a mere quality that he has transferred into this other woman. So, they are one in his sense and in his heart. For the most active portion of Quincy’s mind is still the portion that forgets. Each new event brings its deposit of sensation, departs, and leaves no trace. He is still All. And no thing is sensed by him except in its deposit. The wealth of sensation mounts. The causes flash up, die out. But his mother is a comforting exception. Somehow, she has a being of her own, constant, separate from what she does for him. She is Quincy’s first lesson in objectivity. And so, he places out his little hands to grasp{26} her. For the idea of Self is still unshakable within him. And in what follows, it is forever proven to be right....

His hands go up. And his hands receive. He is lifted from his cradle. He is pressed full and hard against this Quantity—his mother. It is all his doing, since his little hands went up. A feeling of infinite rightness floods him, crinkling his body. He gives up all his being to this sense, as he lies there embraced. A compact of fellowship and intercourse is signed in the imprint of his fingers upon her breast, her hair, her curiously protruding nose and eyes and mouth. He is wafted back upon a past which his mind militantly denies. All life begins with just this surging backward—synchronous with all life’s struggle, the command to wrench desire forward. But in his mother’s arms, the struggle dies and the primordial impulse swells to the full. Quincy is unabashed by this joy that holds him, when his mother holds him, making him warm and needless; making him happy to revert to a complete dark dependence. For Quincy has no morality. He has only logic. He is in the hand of love. And he is willing.

His world broadens vastly. His power to embrace his world soon meets its limit. It seems, then, that his world has shrunk. The cruel process of unfolding is incessant with its burden of surprises. All of life, then, assumes surprise as its tonal color. All of life becomes a swelling forth from self into new shadows. These harden to a part of substance. And the act begins afresh. New shadows. New crystallizings. New flooding-forth. Yet, through it all resounds still a chord of harmony,—himself. But already, the chord is minor. Already, Quincy grows{27} aware of a bewildering congeries of other things. He still persists throughout, but in a note that lessens. And this is why the minor chord is sorrowful.


Gradually, then, life was resolving itself in its full force to Quincy. He knew need and space and limitation. He was to know hostility and hate. In his world, came from time to time a massive creature with a face that stayed very far away. Generally, this occurred before a flood of darkness. At first the sense aroused was one of immateriality. This person was of no consequence. He loomed up, noised about, and then the gentle time stole over the great world. But Quincy learned ere long, now he was growing wise, that matters are not always what they seem. It was a great blow to Quincy. From his father, indeed, the infant came to feel a new quality of apartness. If his mother’s independence had been established, it was still always within the bounds of a strong empire—that empire, himself. Beyond this, her separateness had no impulse to break. But with his father it was different. He was not only apart in his movements and effects; he seemed connected by no bond whatever to the dominion that was Quincy! Indeed, his being, thrust ever within Quincy’s world, seemed an affair entirely fortuitous.

Here was a great, new truth to knead into his heart. His father came; his father was; and yet no even tenuous chord connected them. From this amazing seed of recognition sprang many varied, new impressions. And it was not long ere infantile wisdom had sensed the truth.

There was a reason for his father’s being there, with his rough distant body, and his cold eyes, and his{28} voluminous voice. All else in the world was a note in his own harmony, a weave of his own texture. His father alone—like him—lived with no deeper source. And between them, needed by them both, claimed by them both, was this delicious creature of sweet embrace and warm bestowal! There lay the kernel of all bitterness. For Quincy felt with the fibre of his being, that his mother was not completely, not exclusively his own. She served another.

Quincy rolled in the heavy lull that broods before a tempest. He could not grope unassisted across the floor of his world, but the daze of his blue eyes, the clench of his fists betokened already a sense of failure, a sense of loss. The vista-sneer of fatality and disillusion was already smiting its message upon his brow. For could one mistake the things that happened when his father came in upon them? At once, his mother’s touch lost its magic; her face in some way grew clouded. With tense arms she would hurt him; with tense arms lay him away.

Fully and splendidly, he came to hate his father. Every nerve of his body melted in fire-fretted agony when he was there. And in reaction, he strained more piteously toward his mother.

And so was fashioned above Quincy’s world, a universe.

To the bland, simple scheme of self, there now succeeded a period of conflict in which life and pain were grown more close together. The child careered mutely, sullenly, through an intricate design of needs and denials. His soul was become a field of warring colors and discordant forms. The passion rose to a fine crescendo. It was therefore destined to subside.

Rather than this, however, it was suddenly to dis{29}appear. The lifting of the fever pall was in no way gradual. The new calm flung upon him with the placid lilt of a swift bird, sailing downward on wide wings. His first world had been simply himself. On this had followed a universe of struggle and dumb passion. Now, there was born a vision in which Nature and society took smiling order. What had preceded was whirled off, leaving no trace save in the unlabelled deposits of thought and feeling that had foregathered upon Quincy, like heaps of the world’s scattered contents in huddled disarray after the passage of a cyclone.


Quincy forgot to hate his father. He forgot to love his mother with any intense personal desire, save when she was there, or some concrete demand of help—a fall or a fright—drove him back into the cosmos he had left.

Things beyond his father had the color of fear and struggle. Things beyond his mother possessed the qualities of joy. When his mind was centered, his father still could serve as symbol for life’s obstructions; his mother, of life’s happy possibilities. But Quincy was too concerned in the glad discovery of a far-flung world, in the adventuring forth upon its surprises and delights. He had in balance little energy for intensive feeling. His passions subsided—spread forth into a maze of sentiment. Where had been hate was now a mere sense of objection; where had been love remained a sense of comfort and attachment. His soul was unfolding itself among objective fields. The clash of pent-in conflict had died away.

His brothers and sisters now stepped within his world.{30}

There was Adelaide, for instance, just three years older than himself. (By this time Thomas, the seventh child, had gone with some mute regret and very little comment.) Adelaide was an admirable person to lead in adventure. She was courageous and passing wise. Upon one occasion, she had eaten grass to Quincy’s ecstasy. Her teeth and lips had turned a convincing green. And if she could steal a cookie with hardihood, she was not above sharing it with mercy. Her two blond braids, moreover, had a delightful way of tossing when one desired to catch hold of them and her cheeks were good to delve one’s nose in. The pair held the butterflies in equal fellowship. The great trees filled them both with the same wonder. And since, by the new dispensation, they slept side by side in two separate little cots, they exchanged secrets and dreams, giggles and deep sympathies for life’s sudden flares of sorrow, with mutual satisfaction.

Rhoda, who was quite tall and had black hair, was a formidable creature. Her little sister hated her, called her a “pig.” So Quincy joined in the compact of hostility. And since it comprehended chiefly the making of faces, the harassing of Rhoda’s dolls, the acquisition, separate from her, of pennies and cookies and the hoarding, to Rhoda’s green chagrin, of visionary secrets and a very real toad, Quincy enjoyed this passion hugely.

Farther aloof in the hierarchy stood Jonas, and dimly beyond, the ominous, still figure of Marsden. Marsden was unable to play and could not even hobble without a crutch. He was, hence, despicable,—to be clandestinely made fun of. But he was by no means to be pitied. He might perhaps have elicited this{31} feeling, had he not been so powerful, and had not mother and father so tiringly harped upon the need of it. Deep in the weave of Quincy’s life was this order of his parents to respect Marsden, to do his bidding, to look out for him. And in addition, there were his sharp, piercing eyes, the ugly curl of his thin lips, the hautain raise of his brow and, worst of all, his utter contempt and disregard for everything of Quincy’s. Against these elements, no natural affections could have prevailed. So Marsden was disliked, envied and as far as possible avoided.

Matters were different with Jonas. Approach to him was also difficult, as with Marsden or Rhoda. The distinction lay in the fact that it was a desirable, almost a dreamed-of thing. And in the active aloofness of this young, boisterous god, through the logic of his affection, Quincy read not a fault, but an added splendor. Jonas was apart, in his six more years. But he was justly, fitly so, in Quincy’s mind. And the fond hope was born in him that perhaps, some time, if only Jonas did not increase too rapidly and he could accelerate his rate, he might catch up, and a roseate fellowship be brought about.

Meantime, however, there was Adelaide, in whose seniority he felt a gentle guidance toward the elusive source of pleasure and away from the forever lurking shadow of misfortune. But this alliance was short-lived. Nor was this entirely without fault in Quincy. Doubtless, a moving factor in Adelaide’s defection was the longing she nursed to be of the company of Rhoda. Herein, her state was like that of Quincy toward his brother. But whereas the boy had felt a justice, fashioned almost a glory in his brother’s pointed superiority, Adelaide had resented this in Rhoda. Having{32} resented it, she turned to Quincy, with, however, a tinge of spite upon her feeling. And when, at length, Rhoda opened the way toward comradeship, her real desire to join her ranks, to exercise her smouldering sex-patriotism, was bound to show.

The nature of Quincy, however, made all this easier for Adelaide. These were perhaps the blandest years, the most harmonious, of his life. But even here there was within him a source of conflict, a rift, destined to debar him from gracious or facile living. Adelaide found him slow to follow up a game or play into which, with the best impulse, he had entered. Always, there lay in him the instinct to retire, to grow cool, to wander off lack-spirited before her own climax of enthusiasm. Suddenly, she would find that his mood was changed, that he was spiritually alone and aloof, while they pursued together the sequence of some sport. And, once thus removed from their common-ground of interest, there was no retrieving him. He would sit a-dream on the grass, cold before the sand pile which their mutual eagerness was to have transformed into a castle. If one addressed him then, he would not hear. If one tried to shake him from his reverie, he would scratch and bite and scream.

This was all Adelaide knew. But behind his failure, even as a child, to sustain his interest, it mattered little in what end, there lurked a serious cause. Quincy lacked soul-endurance. The part of him that should have fired his acts seemed scant of fuel. And from this want had come a timidness of purpose, a tendency to veer and flutter and give way. Not only in the face of opposition was this true, but in the effort of accomplishment, in the very fact of nearing what he had desired. The imminence of approach to that{33} toward which he had set out with heart a-gleam, served to slacken his pace and to disaffect his will.

Adelaide had suffered from this, in their serious business of play. Quincy’s own suffering, here as forever after, was to be indissolubly set in the suffering he helped to cause in others.

And at the time of this first instance, with its result of a tragic disaffection, he was not yet eight.{34}


There was but a short interim between the alliance with Adelaide and the beginning of the reign of Jonas.

These were dull days of autumn. And during them, Quincy was put to school. This new event, however, appeared to involve him slightly. It taxed a surface of his attention. Its influence was neither encompassing nor deep. For Quincy was the kind of child who always precedes, in that he is an individual, the class in which his years cause him arbitrarily to be placed. With such, the average drone-exercise of school is an ugly filler of what might elsewhere have been golden hours. But if the business of reading and addition meant little to him, the new will of Jonas to acknowledge him as vassal meant relatively much.

Prior to his eighth birthday came a shift in the house. Rhoda and Adelaide were brought together into one room—it had been their request. Quincy was ousted from his bed—he regarded it as a promotion; and his room was given over to the crippled Marsden who was old and crabbed even for his hoary seventeen years. Jonas was removed from his spacious quarters to a wide, transformed attic under the eaves where the ceiling sloped and an air of solitude pervaded. A cot was placed beside his wooden bed for Quincy. The room left vacant on the second floor was made ready to receive a lodger; for the Burt finances were, as ever, ragged. It was written that{35} no lodger should come. But there, at least, stood the empty room, in token of the family’s scrupulous intentions.

In this sharing of a room, apart from the ruck of life, with his life’s ideal, began an era in Quincy’s progress. The lad rejoiced in its marked position, under the roof. He rejoiced in the extra flight of stairs to be pattered up to reach it. He rejoiced in the singularity of the ceiling, in the lack of a conventional wall-paper,—the room was roughly wainscoted in pine, and plastered. But most of all, he rejoiced in the symbolism of his little white cot alongside the majestic bed. And so, since his happiness required precisely the meed of haughty tolerance, the stressed superiority of Jonas,—Quincy was happy.

Jonas was fourteen. In coloring and contour, he derived from his father. He was blond of hair and his eyes were brown. Already, an incipient fleshliness was there. His head was small—dull and indelicate in its square mass; his nose was short and thick and his mouth was heavy. He was an ordinary boy. But he was playful, arrogant, world-wise and fourteen. So, for the present, he suited the demands of the slight, dark, wiry child who was his brother.

Quincy lay wide-eyed in his cot, waiting for his brother, with rapt expectancy.

Since it was winter, he had retired after dark. His mother had taken him upstairs, while Jonas and the others remained below for their later supper.

“Well, dear,—I hope you won’t mind your new room.”

As she struck a match and lit the lamp, Quincy felt her presence as a rather hazardous protection from the dark which he had mind enough, now, to fear. He{36} clung to her skirts. This was a great event—this first night with Jonas. But like all such, it was fraught with peril, touched with the dizziness of enterprise. Below, in the old room, were less thrills, less promise; but also there was less fright, less mystery. The child forgot the exalted meaning of this new phase—a room with Jonas. He saw the scared gleam of the lamp against the shadows. He saw the loom of the great bed, marked off in what seemed an infinitude of space, an infinitude of ground for visions. And almost, his heart misgave him and he regretted the smug past with Adelaide when there had been steadfast company in the vast gloom of night.

“Come,” his mother put him off tenderly, “you aren’t afraid, are you?”

And so, a-tremble, he was put to bed. His mother moved about him in a glow of certainty, half merged in the uncertain darkness. And then came the last rite, before the lamp and mother went out together—the prayer.

He knelt on the cot, his head against her breast. And though the words he spoke were cold, fearless, high-sounding words, the prayer he really uttered was an appeal for comradeship in the vast night. From this standpoint, God could be of use to him and real. He did not need him for daily bread, nor for guidance from unheard-of evils and unguessed temptations. But with all energy, his mind fixed on Deity as a presence that would remain with him in the black, murmurous horror which would clap in upon him, when lamp and mother went out together. And with this spirit, there was fervor in his voice, though it gave forth unapt words; there was religious passion in the clutch of his little hands and the pressure of his head,{37} although they touched not God at all, but a still older, more eternal Mother. For her going out—with the lamp—was of the color of life itself, inevitable. And already, his eight years had taught Quincy to submit.

It happened. He lay straining beneath his covers. A dormer window had been opened. And from it came a ghostly stir of trees, a frozen glow of refracted light, a sibilance of brooding and foreboding. In the house itself, were the night’s innumerable voices—those that dared make themselves heard only when no soul but Quincy was about. Below, with Adelaide, they had been quiet; but a moment before, with mother, they were hushed. Now, they were at their occult revels. They chuckled and laughed and hissed; the forms that owned them creaked upon floors, made the walls to groan and bend, shuffled through the somehow resisting air. The child stared before him. Blackness. Was he blind? He turned his head and saw that he was not. For there, in the window was the soft blur of light, and beside it stood one of the night’s forms. It was a strange, half-real thing—a streak of gold and green with orange eyes and ears that swayed, and a mouth that came in the wrong place but gaped none the less. Quincy accepted it with difficulty. It did not somehow transmit to him its own frozen heart of horror. The child was even able to look away from it, into the impenetrable shadows where his feet, his cot, everything was swallowed up. He feared these more. A sense of engulfment crept over him. He closed his eyes. He slept.

And then, he was awake. The obsession of the early evening was still foremost in his mind: that he must stay awake for Jonas—to greet Jonas as he{38} came to the big bed. He was unconscious utterly that he had slept. The one cessation of which he was aware was of the horrors—of the voices and the forms and the green light. He lay quite still, half-expecting their return. They seemed so essential and fateful a part of a life alone. But a strange peace filled the room. It contained no fears, no visions. It seemed to be shaping calmly, rhythmically. It became a personality. And it was resting. What was that?—yes, the room was even breathing. Surely, softly, continuously it came—the breathing. Quincy lay wonder-struck in bed. How was this? It had not the stuff of a dream, nor of such forms as the gold-green monster he had discovered by the window. This was real!

He sat up in his cot. The breathing came and came. If only Jonas—. A thought flashed, and the child looked toward the bed. There it stood, huge, looming above the shadows. And in it, a lack of precision, then a sense of form, a concrete sense of breathing. Jonas was there. The mystery of how, did not distress him. Quincy accepted the glad wonder without question. For a long time, he sat up, drinking it in, basking in his new sure dominion of the room. And then, he sank back upon his pillow into sleep....


Still, there were disquieting things to be observed in Jonas. His attitude toward the family was in one case at least radically wrong. He and father seemed on the point of becoming chums! That autumn, already, Jonas had been allowed to follow on a snipe-shooting expedition. He was full, even now, of his father’s prowess—big, burly, muscular man that he was—in laying low the little sand-skipping creatures{39} that seemed less bird than insect. And now, not long after Quincy’s eighth birthday, when the weather was still a grumbling discord of cold and ice and when still, one went to bed in the dark, Jonas was taken on a trip to New York. He was away an interminable time—from early breakfast until bed-time. And he returned inarticulately stuffed with wonder and importance. What had transpired and in what respect New York was dissimilar to Harriet, Long Island, Quincy could not ascertain.

“Oh, you wouldn’t understand,” said Jonas. “It’s all a holler and a racket and a lot o’ stone towers where people live and you’re jigged up and down in elevators.”

For his superiority, Quincy forgave him. But when he observed: “Dad and me ’tended to business together,” Quincy disliked the association. Nor could his remark, couched in a prophetic voice: “We are goin’ to be rich, we are. Dad tol’ me,” wipe out the evil taste. The announcement indeed meant far less than the promise of half an orange.

With the spring, Josiah’s interest in the boy that resembled him grew ostentatiously. One Sunday afternoon, Jonas was accorded a puff of the paternal pipe. Gloatingly, he came over to Quincy, who sat sulking on the sofa, and blew into his face. Quincy observed that now Jonas’ breath was like his father’s. It hurt him. A favorite place for Jonas came to be his father’s knee. He would sit there and they would have long, mumbled converse together. Quincy would seek out his mother if she was present, and talk to her. Or if she was busy, he would press his face against the back of his chair and hold rival conversation with himself, biting the upholstery or punch{40}ing it with emphatic fists—eager above all to appear indifferent. But all that he would be really conscious of was his father’s low chuckle and the shrill peal of Jonas’ laughter.

“Do you like Dad?” the child asked his brother one evening, as Jonas stumbled noisily into their room.

“He’s great!” came the answer.

“I like mother,” said Quincy.

“Do you, molly-boy?”

And Quincy turned away his head in a flood of shame, tempered with pride.

Toward their sisters also, there came to be a gulf in policy. Jonas was actively adverse to both Adelaide and Rhoda. Quincy, who also did not love them, feared them and was anxious above all to be left alone. But if they addressed him with kindness, or some slight show of interest, his enmity subsided. He became glad, eager to respond. This inclination brought him the criticism of his brother. Jonas was for warfare and a perpetual offensive. He criticized Quincy’s amiable bent. And his way of criticism was a sneer that cut.

In Marsden, however, they had a common ground and a true grievance binding them against their sisters. For Rhoda curried favor with this sinister vicegerent of their parents’ will. And Adelaide always followed Rhoda. Both of them were forcibly inclined toward him, by reason of his unfortunate rut of life. And for these causes, Jonas and Quincy were impelled against them.


With his nine years, Quincy was admitted to dinner with the remainder of the family. And although this privilege might have been expected to prove welcome,{41} it marked a new cycle of suffering for Quincy. The two major instances were these: that it necessitated his climbing up alone to bed through the dark and terrible house, and that it brought out poignantly at last to the child how his own place therein differed from what he wished and from that occupied by all the others.

Marsden’s throne was a much pillowed chair, with broad arms and wheels. In this, he was rolled to his place at dinner. And dinner was the one time of congregation for the entire family. Josiah was almost invariably away at lunch—he was of that strange variety of men who prefer saloon fare with beer, to home cooking without it. Adelaide and Rhoda came home late from school. And Jonas preferred a box of sandwiches and cookies to be consumed away among his school-mates. In consequence, lunch as a rule was a scattered and unceremonious affair.

The order of seating at dinner was inflexible. At the end of the oblong table, nearest the red portières, sat father, leaning close over his plate, his elbows flat against the white cloth. At the other end, in strategic proximity to the kitchen, was the straight, stiff figure of mother, who jumped up from time to time, disappeared, and then returned motionless, creaseless to her fixed posture. On her left was brought the chair of Marsden, and beside him sat Rhoda, a tall girl of fourteen, with a red mouth that curled and great black eyes tokening a somnolent fire and an acerb spirit. On his mother’s right hand was Quincy’s place. Next to him came Adelaide with her ingratiating manner and her busily agitating curls of a sun-shot brown. And on his father’s right, Jonas had place for his{42} noisy, passionate consumption of all the food within his reach or not beyond his power.

From mother came a word of grace. During this tense moment, when the soup lay steaming with irresistible flavor before them, the children were supposed to bow their heads and cast their thoughts on high. But Quincy’s devotion was not so rapt as to preclude observance of his father, who sat stock-still, face up, during the prayer, and trimmed his nails or grimaced his open deprecation. Inspired so, Jonas, while not daring not to bow his head, frequently gave vent to a giggle or to an inward gesture of disrespect. The two girls were in earnest. Marsden simply continued the smirk and sullen countenance that were his wont. And over little Quincy, reverently inclined, stole a strange sense of a thing amiss, of a rift in the sacrificial rhythm.

“Amen,” was the signal for a reaction of noise. Father would cut a piece of bread-crust with a knife—a tooth splitting process. The girls would giggle; Jonas would empty his plate and then thrum the table with impatience. And Marsden would order his mother up to re-arrange his cushions.

And while the first sharp edge of appetite wore down, came a space of muffled sounds, with scanty words. Mother would rise noiselessly with that miraculous manner which forbade even the creaking of her chair. Silently, she would gather in the soup plates and pass out into the kitchen.

With regularity, this act was a sign for father. His heavy face would crease in smiles; his heavy hand would fetch down upon the table, upon his knee, upon the back of Jonas.

“Well, lad—what’s new?{43}

And a gay parley would take place between them.

Here was one invulnerable nucleus; another, three-fold, centered upon Marsden, whose sisters found confession and admiration good, at his indifferent shrine. Rhoda had noticed Marsden intent upon a book that she knew nothing of. But his intentness augured well to a curious impulse in herself. She desired to read a book provocative of such.

“I guess not,” says Marsden.


“Mother would never forgive me, if I let you,” he smiles maliciously.

“Oh—you will—” she pleads, tittering a bit at the point of his cajolery.

“Well, I can’t stop you.”

And Rhoda, titillated strangely by her prospect, jumps half out of her seat to embrace her brother.

“Here,” cries father, looking up in mock anger from his colloquy with Jonas. “Back in your place there! Mother’ll be here.”

And as if with one accord, a faint, vague sneer,—a parting of lips, a twinkle of eyes—steals over the entire company. Quincy alone is excepted. He does not understand. But again there presses upon him the sense of a piteous discord crying against life’s rhythm. Jonas tells an amusing incident from school. Father laughs broadly; Marsden laughs to the best of his ability, his flavor of acid for the nonce repressed; Rhoda laughs, feeling the fellowship of Marsden, and Adelaide giggles, following the lead of Rhoda. And then, the door opens and mother re-appears with the stew. It is as if a hushing pall had fallen. Quincy does not understand—once more. But the dinner nears completion.{44}

With the dessert, there is a shifting of places. The meal’s decorum breaks. Natural tendencies evolve still further. Jonas jumps to his father’s knee. He is busy stealing whiffs of smoke as it shoots past his nose. Rhoda and Adelaide flock to Marsden. He is their god, and in this fact their parents find delight and no small measure of solace for their son’s misfortune. Marsden’s hair is fine and black and long. Rhoda discovers with a shriek of delight that it is getting thin. Yet Marsden is not nineteen. The two girls pass their fingers over his head. Marsden growls and utters sharp words, basking, the while, in their devotion. Mother moves back and forth in the business of clearing the table. And Quincy sits alone, desolate, ignored, while father talks fishing with Jonas and his two sisters vie with each other at their new sport of making braids in Marsden’s hair.

The minutes pass. Quincy cannot hide his interest in this shared spectacle of love wherein he has no part. A dull regret, as for something he has never had, yet something perpetually desired and observed, weighs on him. And through the shroud of this deep, yet inchoate want upon his soul, darts now and then a flare of anger, a cut of pain. But the anger shoots off into a formless gloom. So Quincy remains still, doing nothing, mindful of little, articulate not even in resentment. And his mother passes to and fro, clearing the table, too busy to see.

At last, however, she stops before him. He feels the doom of her words, ere she can utter them.

“Quincy,” she says, “it’s bed-time. Say good-night.”

For a moment, he sits motionless. It is as if he were lost in an incongruous atmosphere, shutting in{45} his body. But his mind has gone out before him, from the room. Vaguely, yet poignantly, he is rehearsing in his little brain the dreadful drama that lies out there—the ordeal of going up to bed. In his mind, he feels already the black loom of the house, the fitful shiver of light in the long halls, the numerous attendance, in a thousand shadows, in a thousand forms, of night’s dire beings. And although he sits there in the light-flooded room, filled as it is with those whom he knows best, he is alone already, abandoned already to mystery and terror. And those who are about him serve not at all to attenuate the presence of what acts in his mind, or to protect him from it. For this is very real. And those about him are very lifeless in their care, very vague in their reality.

“Did you hear what your mother said?”

These are the sole words his father has for him, all of the dinner hour. They serve to throw Quincy to his feet. He stands and looks about him. He would draw strength from these faces to meet his trial, light from them to brave the darkness. But, though his mind grasp it not and his mouth have no word for it, he knows that he has failed. Almost, escape from here is good. But there is so little choice! And his untutored heart has no law to make decision between the shadows that threaten and this light that mocks.

It is the rule that he must bid “good-night” individually, to each of these persons—his family—who now direct their gaze on him with a certain prying interest, as if to gain a sensation from his antics. He feels this. He feels that to cry out or misbehave in some wild fashion as his panic prompts, would merely furnish a cordial to their repast. He feels{46} that to rush out, branding these salutes the mockery they are, would provide a pretext for dragging out his agony. And then, it comes back to him—the prospect beyond the door—! It is an odd impulse, indeed, that would impel rushing upon that. For that is one of those recurrent ills which his life’s reason teaches him to take, slowly, hushedly, with gritted teeth—the passage to his room.

So he moves doggedly from father to Marsden, from Marsden to Marsden’s two adoring sisters, and thence to Jonas, who revels in his place beside his father.

Last comes his mother. She takes him in her two hands, lifts him from his feet, embraces him sturdily, once, twice, again, as he dangles in the air. And then, turning him about, she sets him toward the door. The fervor of her message sends the child almost exultant to the stairs. It required so little to enspirit him! But at the landing, the maternal warmth wears weak and the chill gloom of the hall breaks through.

Clenching his fists, humming a tune that has in it the fever of true inspiration, he stumbles toward his goal. The creak of his little feet affrights him; the dull glare of the hall lamp, swept low an instant by some occult draught, the deep-breathing shadow of the rooms he passes—everything conjoins in a stifled symphony of shock and fear.

He reaches his attic. The door is shut. With a dexterity that he cannot understand, he opens. It is as if he were being driven in by the fantasies that press on behind, about, and threaten to attain him. All of the dimensionless way, he has felt them, creeping and clinging at his back.

And now the door’s healthy slam has shut them{47} out. A lamp is burning. Almost gaily, he watches the comb of its yellow flame spurting and receding. For the ordeal is over. And in his joy at this, he has no thought or fear of the morrow.{48}


A prospector in Wyoming and a Directors’ Board on the fifteenth floor of a great office-building in Chicago, brought by the benign twinkle of a star into an angle of conjunction, marked out an event in Harriet, Long Island. It was with the haphazard veer, the cold fatality of a compass. First, came the discovery of rich veins of metal on Josiah’s land and then, scarce with a breathing space, the plan of a railroad that gives currency to wealth in the great West, to nose its way through canyon and frozen lake into that very valley. No more than these two rods of fate were needed to mark fate’s point in Harriet, Long Island.

The first twenty-thousand dollars went to the prospector. Had he placed a claim or made contest to one-tenth of that amount, he would have found an antagonist in Josiah Burt. As it was, he remained silent and found a benefactor. The new magnate prepared to move his family to New York.

For Quincy, who was eleven, this trick of life had its own color and dimension.

It was a balmy day in early spring. He and Jonas had been across country on a jaunt, looking for rabbits. The elder boy had led his brother a breathless pace, with which Quincy only by sheer, desperate will managed to keep up. They had gone inland where a thick wood of birch and firs seemed to rise abrupt from the broad waste of sand-ground and dwarfed shrubs. Quincy’s going at all had been a matter of{49} tolerance on the part of Jonas. In order to drive home this detail, significant as it was to a man of sixteen, Jonas struck a gait that was severe even for him and ignored his brother as best he could. He was resolved, if they should meet any of the “fellows” or, worse still, any of the “girls,” that they should read the truth of his sublime forbearance in the rapidity of his walk and the fixed, impersonal air on his face. But Jonas loved the sport of a cross-country run. And as they sallied on, leaping over brambled rock and pattering stream, enough of the open’s generosity of spirit entered his soul to make him half admire the little fellow that labored doggedly on, beside him.

They did not see any rabbits. But they found a carpet of myrtle and some half-ripe strawberries which they consumed with gusto. Their chief discovery, however, was a beaver’s dam. The stream widened sluggishly beneath an almost veiling margin of thick bushes—aspen and willow and oak. The leafage, turned silver and deep blue in the sun, lay over the strolling water. Perhaps, Quincy’s chief delight in this unearthing was the chance it gave him to get back his breath. But he feigned well a more direct enthusiasm—no hard thing. And then, facing about, they trudged home at a more comfortable gait. For Jonas was appeased, soaked through, perhaps, with the gentle afflatus of the woods before the tread of evening.

As they entered the little stone path that led in from the street, Quincy observed his father standing on the porch and looking down toward them. It was early for him to be at home. They were still twenty steps away, when the man spoke. He was addressing Jonas.{50}

“Well, sonnie. It’s through. Went through, to-day. It’s panned out great!”

Jonas leaped forward. With a bound, he was on the porch, beside his father.

“O Dad,” he cried, “I am glad!”

Quincy, left behind, looked at the tall, portly man and the boy beside him. Jonas was slightly shorter and a good deal less stout. But the resemblance between the two was striking. And in the thrust-forward of their heads, the almost perpetual shrug of their shoulders, the movements of their hands, were the unmistakable gestures of accord. The consequence of these details, Quincy was well aware of, although he ignored the physical features. With instinctive logic he felt that friendship or love for one so like his father must be a meretricious and illusory thing. The first conscious articles of his revolt from Jonas were stirring in him.

Meantime, the pair had passed in together. Quincy mounted to the porch with a pang in his heart. They had gone in, rejoicing, oblivious of him. So whatever this new thing was, which had succeeded, which had made them happy, to Quincy it could bring no pleasure, for he had no share in it and it had served merely to give an accent to the old want and the old yearning.

In this spirit, he opened the door and stepped inside. The entire family was assembled in the parlor. And the glow of excitement that they gave out seemed to pervade the dingy room. The portières and other hangings took on a higher key of color. A vibrancy had shot through everything. Everything was rhythmed to this new joyous theme which he did not understand—everything save himself. He looked{51} more sharply. There were other exceptions. He went over to his mother. Sarah took his hand and held it tightly. For at that moment, Marsden was talking, and it was forever necessary to attend him.

“One thing let’s do:” he was saying, “—get out of Harriet.”

“But summer’s coming, dear,” replied Josiah, “It would be sort of foolish to go to New York just when every New Yorker that can afford it, is coming to Long Island.”

“Well, let’s get out of this house just the same,” spoke Rhoda, and rose to her feet as if to emphasize her hurry. By now, she was a tall, slender beauty. She knew it. She was clad in a pale pink frock, loosely hung from over her candid breasts. The skirt fell awkwardly. The color was too dull not to detract from the dusky splendor of her hair and eyes and soft-grey skin. It was an unbecoming frock, indeed. And this also, Rhoda knew.

“I want to go to New York and help Rhoda buy some dresses.” It was Adelaide who spoke. In her round, bright, golden face there shone another passion than that of altruism. A not uncommon trait in girls before they reach sixteen,—Adelaide was merely transferring her love of mature decoration to her sister against the time when she could glut it on herself.

Josiah was pacing the room, his hands clasped behind him. He had made a flying journey to New York and he was arrayed in his best finery—a capacious Prince Albert coat that flared below the waist like a rubber cylinder about to burst. His trousers were too tight. The knees were crinkled, puffy and turned-in, an anatomical detail which stout men share{52} with women. He wore an upstanding collar and in the wide frontal gap his heavy chin thrust down in amiable meditation.

“Well,” he said, as he paced, “I’ll tell you: choose for yourselves where you want to go, and I’ll foot the bill. Your mother can take you. I got to stay near Town, this summer.”

The panorama of promise overwhelmed them. They were silent. All of them, save Rhoda, were without a thought. After a pause, she uttered one word:


And with the comfortable way of crowds, all who were present fell upon her suggestion as if it had been the exact articulation of their desire.

“Good!” said Josiah. “Just make your plans,” and with a true sense of the dramatic, left the room. Jonas ran after him, noisily humming, half skipping. Rhoda and Adelaide clasped waists and danced away. There was the tramp of their feet, the sharp cadence of their voices. And then, came silence.

Marsden and Sarah and Quincy were left. And, as if by magic, the parlor’s mood had changed. Heavier than ever were the portières and other hangings; narrower and lower than before, the greyish cut of ceiling, the impress of walls. The cripple lay back in his cushions. His eyes were upturned. And he was musing. He did not philosophize his meditation. It was hurting too much for that.

But his looking up and within himself made it as if Sarah and her last-born had been alone.

She was seated on her favorite cane chair. At her knees stood Quincy, half leaning against them, his hands in hers, his head on a level with her eyes. And so, facing each other, they remained. There was a{53} pathetic similarity between this aging woman and this growing boy. Their faces were long and drawn; their heads were generously moulded. The eyes of both were a deep blue-grey that reminded one in her of faded violets, in him of violets that were fresh but in a shadow. Even their mouths were alike—large, tender-pointed, mobile. And at this moment, there played upon them a tremor like the echo of a single pain.

Sarah shifted her gaze. To her, this searching intercourse between them had become almost unbearable. It was as if, in this deep sympathy that had annealed them, lay infidelity toward the others to whom she was attached. For Quincy could not be the only one. In the rapt intensity which drove his spirit toward her, and in her impulse to respond just so intensely, just so wholeheartedly, it was as if, easily, it might be brought about that there should be no others. But such a blessed gift was not ordained for Quincy. Sarah repulsed her passionate inner gesture of bestowal; she beat down this mother in her which threatened to clasp Quincy to the exclusion of all else. She summoned her sense of duty, her social sense, her common sense. She looked toward Marsden for aid in her resolve. And deliberately, coldly, though she knew not the full nature of her act, she broke this blinding, seething current that threatened to submerge the pair, one with the other. She felt the presence in her eyes, in the expression of her face, of just this feeling of exclusion, of hopelessness, of irony that she found in his. She wiped all this away, forcing her mind and smiling. Within herself, she knew that this wealth was mockery for her—the gilding of a death’s-head. It would not return her hus{54}band to her, after eleven years of tolerant estrangement.

But, somehow, it was wrong that her child should feel such things within his mother. It was wrong that he should understand. So she turned hypocrite and smiled.

“Well, dearie,” she said, clapping his hands together within hers, “you’re goin’ to have fine clothes now, and—”

She stopped.

Quincy was withdrawing his hands. With a tremor of his eyelids, he turned silently and marched out of the room.

Sarah remained as she had been—half forward in her chair. Her smile was frozen on her face. And all of her was similarly frozen.

There had been something Quincy was not to understand. Here, then, was something beyond the understanding of Quincy’s mother.{55}


The European project had to be abandoned. Josiah could not leave his affairs for so prolonged a journey. And Sarah declined to leave Marsden. Beside, Rhoda and Jonas who were its instigators, had their doubts as to the pleasure of a jaunt in Europe with their mother as guide. And they were right. Sarah’s training and life in Harriet were scarce such as to have fitted her for Paris and Berlin, even if the comfortable aid of Cook’s had been invoked—as Josiah had suggested. So a short run out West with a peep-in on Yellowstone Park was arranged by way of compensation.

Sarah and Marsden remained behind in Harriet for the last months. Workmen and decorators had full swing in a broad, brown-stone house near Central Park on the West side of Manhattan. And meantime, Josiah, who needed at any rate to visit his property near Red Bear and to confer with his promoters in Helena, Butte and Billings, made ready to take his two daughters and two sons along. The preparation on his part consisted in the booking of two compartments to Chicago and thence West. For the children, it meant the buying of clothes, valises, toilet articles, and descriptive literature. There was much bustle, much serious discussion, less anticipation than sheer worry. And in all this, Quincy’s part was passive, disaffected. He knew that he was going along because his mother had insisted that he was not too{56} young to enjoy geysers. He should greatly have preferred to remain at home, considering the trip’s company and the air of fevered preparation that made it from the outset ominous. But Sarah had nursed the fond illusion that by including him in the arrangement he would become automatically one, in all its myriad, impromptu reckonings, with the family life whence she was wise enough to feel his past exclusion. Sarah, then, was sponsor of the child’s forced participation in the trip. Sarah, as so often before, was clumsily in error. But the serious element of this lay not in her mistake, not in the needless discomfort that her mistake brought on Quincy. It lay in the circumstance of Quincy’s knowing just these things, of his knowing how they and their like bore on his life. For Quincy was coming fatalistically, stoically, to adjudge his mother, to recognize her failures and to accept her in their shadow.

The trip was interminable. Chiefly, it consisted of long, stiflingly hot days in a cramped car that lurched and groaned and pounded and halted, getting nowhere in a scorch of wheat-fields. Nights, Quincy was perched far up under the chandelier, with no window through which to reaffirm, by looking out, his hold on the realities. This was insufferable. To be shuffled along through endless flatlands was bad enough if one could see. But to be thrust through the black with no sense of direction or of space, while one’s limbs ached with the unceasing murmurs of the train, bordered on nightmare. The cities, moreover, were an unmeaning jangle of lights and muddy, topless houses and clamoring traffic.

The gem of their journey—Yellowstone Park—proved to be the height of his torture. It lasted, by{57} count, four days. But by this period, Quincy’s sense of time had gone the way of his other senses. He was packed stiffly, hotly, into a high, swaying stagecoach. Before being swung to his position he always saw the horses that drew the wagon. He loved horses. And the fiery sinew of these Western beasts gave his heart a turn. He wished to pet them and feed them sugar and talk with them. But always, he was swung up between Josiah and Jonas where the horses were invisible. Their rhythmic patter he still heard, and it was bitter music to him, since he could not fix this one suggested joy by seeing. And now, as they swayed on, Quincy observed that the Park’s chief quality was not geysers at all, but dust. True, it was a peculiar sort of dust. Never had he tasted dust so thick, so bitter, so plentiful, so blinding. It rolled and plunged over the coach, over the crouched, packed creatures that hung upon its scruff, over the very skies. It came in great clouds. It cut into his eyes and ears and mouth. It made him itch and ache. And yet, so carefully had he been wedged against his father and his brother that he could not scratch where the dust itched, nor stretch where the ride stiffened him. At noontime, the coach creaked to a stand-still and there was a hotel, instead of dust, upon the map of living. He was fed at a long table where waitresses hurled thick crockery and men smelled of sweat. Before or after coach-time, he saw geysers.

Unpleasant, ill-natured, evil-tempered things they were to Quincy—freaks without form or beauty, uninspiring and meaningless. To any lad of vision, a brook with a bass sunning in its bed, a flower upon a ledge of rock, must mean immeasurably more. But for the vague impression of this truth, Quincy was{58} upbraided. He could not buttress it with clarifying questions, such, for instance, as whether a man with three noses would be deemed worshipful or a woman ten feet high entrancing. And if not, then why these freaks styled geysers? Quincy knew deeply that he would be more comfortable and more inspired in a copse of saplings. But to a continent with no imagination, these miserable spurts of water and hot mud are a property of pride. So, of course, the boy riled his father and the gaping girls by his indifference, the few times they turned to sound him.

And then, after the nightmare of dusty roads and advertised monstrosities which one was ordered to admire, as one is ordered to brush one’s teeth (and which seemed equally aside the point of living), came another scourge of trains. And between them, cities that deafened and terrified and bullied. And then, one blessed day, after the most abysmal and thundering of all the cities, there was Harriet at the end of the day’s journey!

With a real sense of joy, Quincy took in the modest, crumbled-wood station, the box-like freight house on the siding. And when the platform slid in beneath his staring eyes that seemed glued to the car-window, and there, in a grey dress and a black shawl over her head, was mother, he could not restrain himself from a demonstration. Here at last was something got to by trains that he could rejoice in and wonder at! For there, despite the ceaseless purgatory he had been hurled or pushed through, stood the old bulwark, the old love—as serenely unchanged as if all of it had been an angry dream. And so perchance it had been! Yet, Quincy did not on that account elect to linger in it. Dream or actuality, it was to be got behind!{59} And the one efficacious way of that was to storm from the train, to fling into the arms of the dear past—and to lie there, huddled, tearful, aglow, while the great iron monster with snort and scream pulled the horror—dream or actuality—forever after it, out of the station.

So, it was needful that Quincy act. And so, he acted. Oblivious of hat or coat, he rushed frantic down the aisle of the lugubrious car—his hands out, his mouth open. A trainman guarded the door. He passed him, nor could the car platform hold him. Down he flew, and stumbled upon the whirling walk of the station. His mother picked him up, bruised but happy.

He looked up at her. He had seen her first; he had reached her first. And now, here she was touching him, clasping his shoulders, smoothing his hair, brushing his coat. What mattered an abrasion on the knee or a burning on the forehead? He looked up, then, speechless, taking in his delight.

And his mother said, in the old voice which was somehow not quite the voice that he had so often summoned to him on his journey:

“You silly boy! You silly boy! Why couldn’t you wait until the train stops? It’s a wonder you weren’t killed.”

Whereupon, the train did stop—and the scolding, while Sarah went to greet the others.

For a moment, Quincy stood alone on the platform, next to a very sharp old man that seemed to be looking through him with steel eyes, so that he was ashamed. And the abrasion on his knee hurt very much; and the burning on his forehead seemed somehow to have scorched his heart.{60}


In early September, the workmen and the decorators left the big brown-stone house in a condition of coldness known as “modern” and a state of deadness known as “beautiful.” And then, the family of Burt moved in. At this time, Quincy was approaching his twelfth birthday.

Not as long as he lived did he forget the feeling that came over him, that first time, as he mounted the stoop and went through the ponderous carved door into the house that was now to be his home.

The coupé came to a stand-still. The horses had made a strange and muffled sing-song on the pavement. From time to time, this changed to a metallic patter in syncopation—a sound symbol, it seemed to Quincy, of affright. At these intervals, the carriage jolted, one wheel rolled high, the other was in a trough. Then again, all righted itself and the sing-song was resumed. In the coach, was gloom of blue upholstery and leather. His father and his sisters sat tight, thrilled, their eyes intent upon the passing city. It was a maelstrom of half impressions. Cars clanged, other horses sloughed off the view, a swaying coachman shouted, an insatiate tide of men and women ebbed and flowed. Marsden, mother, Jonas and the servant had gone before in another carriage. And now, the frenzy of Manhattan seemed to abate. It was like leaving the wind behind one on the water. They swung up the border of a Park. There were{61} trees and shrubs and grass! It was a wood, by all conventions. And yet it depressed Quincy who yearned for just such balm. The trees were grey; the grass was dull. Here was not life, but a show of artifice. Hard walks girded the green stretches like belts of steel. None of the free tang and give and sunniness, none of the lilt and smiling, none of the purple murmur of the woods was here. Central Park did not fool Quincy—could not have fooled him, even if cars had not swept back and forth between him and it; even if a depressing monotone of houses had not filled the other flank.

And now, the carriage rolled up. A crowded tramp of the horses and it came to a halt.

Rhoda and Adelaide seemed to emerge from a trance.

“Here we are!” they sighed, with a hollow note that bespoke the nervous feel in their stomachs. The carriage door flung open. They bounded out and ran up the stoop. Josiah half-lifted, half-pushed Quincy to the pavement. He stood there, balanced by his bewilderments, while his father paid the coachman.

“Come on, sir,” the big man tapped his shoulder. The carriage had disappeared. Quincy looked up.

Before him was an unbroken but uneven battlement of houses. Some were brown, some were red, some were grey. At their feet ran the wide, flagstoned pavement. Some were straight-stepped, some were curved, some were curiously decorated boxes. A few had no feet at all—with doorways punched abruptly in the wall. Before Quincy’s eyes it was brown; the protuberance with stairs was straight. Red doors were flung wide open—held so for passage of the trunks—and within was darkness. Above, it was all{62} very vague and high. Quincy felt this, though he did not look. He went up mechanically, with his father. As he stepped in, he felt a quick sensation of the sky—shrill blue, inexorably far away, yet good. It seemed like a short draught of water when one has been long athirst. It was but a momentary glimpse. And then, his body carried him beyond, within, where the sky was not. He saw the long hall, shadowed, and the wide stairs. It seemed clear to him now why it had been as if the sky was snuffed away. Everything loomed forward and smothered Quincy; filled up the crystal space within him that cared for the blue above and seemed somehow related to it. Everything loaded down upon him, occupied him, stayed there. As he trudged up, it was as if a mighty burden had come suddenly. Quincy observed no more, felt nothing more explicit. But for an instant a perspective flashed on him, though he deemed it merely a natural panic like a score of others he had undergone. In it, he saw himself, slight, small, stooped, his head strained back with his disordered tension, his legs careering stiffly with untrained, superfluous energy. In it, he saw about him a weight of gloom—the stuff and color of this house which was to be his home. And then, once more, he was a child. His mother stood at the head of the stairs. She was very busy, and rather dirty-looking.

“You had better go up to your room, dear, where you won’t be in the way.” She turned to Jonas who sat sprawling within vision, upon a great chair in green satin. “Jonas, will you take Quincy up?”

“Sure,” replied the boy. “Come along, Kid.”

It was easy to tell that what interested Jonas was the chance of showing.{63}

So they were still to share a room? Quincy learned this, as he took in the two white-enameled beds and the valise with “J.B.” upon it that he stumbled over as he entered. The sight of his mother and this new event which scarcely he had dared to hope for, seemed to enliven Quincy. He had not given up Jonas. He had had his pangs from him, as from his mother.

“Oh, Jonas,” he exclaimed, “aren’t you glad we’re here?”

“You bet,” said Jonas.

“No—I mean we—”

The elder boy looked down, first quizzically, then with a withering wrinkle upon his eyes and nose and mouth.

“For God’s sake, Quincy—what a sis you are!” Then,—“Ma says for you to stay up here,” and left the room.

So Quincy was alone.


The end of that first month was the beginning of the time when Quincy began once more to breathe in a normal fashion. For long, everything had been so new, all the old ceremonies had been so suddenly replaced, all the comfortable nooks of life which with difficulty he had carved for himself in Harriet were so miserably absent, that life had become a breathless trick like trying to ride bareback (as he had once essayed), or endeavoring not to irritate his sisters. There was, for instance, the problem of eating in the ominous, overbearing dining room, the problem of sleeping in a bed which shone like the exhibition motor in the shop on Main Street, the problem of being comfortable in blouses that had to be kept clean and with thin new stockings that had to be kept whole.{64} Also, there was the problem of loving his mother in a dazzling housegown of blue satin. These were like enemies, besetting the routes of life. And at first they had seemed insuperable. And at last they had faded quite away, and wonder about them, as well as memory, had died in the fresh, general glamor. But now, with his recovery, came a new shock.

Something of adoration had persisted in Quincy toward his room-mate despite constantly recurring disillusions, rational promptings, and rebuffs. In the fixations of childish fantasy and love there is the doggedness of plant-life which persists where it has grown, though all nature conspire to prove the folly of its position. Such plants will die, or they must be uprooted. They are such stubborn things precisely because of the logic of their existence—to rise from their roots. A similar instinct was in Quincy concerning Jonas. All the persuasions of deed or mind could prevail little against his intuitive attachment, because they were in different planes. He would hold to his sentiment for Jonas until the roots of energy which had thus grown were pointedly grasped and torn away. For a seed of his life instinct was there. And where it had fallen, it had remained. In Jonas, Quincy saw a future of his own growth—a boy, happy, cherished, of importance. What aided this admiration perhaps most of all was the sense of imperviousness to life’s problems which permeated Jonas. This, in particular, was a desideratum. But, after all, these were but rationalizations. The heart of the young boy’s attachment, no young boy could understand.

Quincy was in his room. It was but half an hour before dinner. The boy sat at his desk solving a{65} knotty problem in arithmetic with a facility beyond the power of his six-years-older brother. Quincy was very apt at mathematics. But also, he was good at literature. This double accomplishment militated against his being singled out for any talent. It is a way of people, to mark a virtue only when it is one-sided.

So Quincy sat at his little desk and worked. It was a slanting, box-shaped affair. Its top lifted upon a hinge, disclosing within a maze of paper, school-books, pencils, twine. In one corner, half hidden under a pad, were two unframed pictures—cheap photographs which he had clandestinely collected of the Farnese Hercules and the Venus de Milo. Quincy’s instinct told him that it would be well not to make show of these treasures. His mother would have found them naughty, Jonas would have seared them with the laughter of Philistia. So he hid them and, like forbidden fruit, enjoyed them. Of all the pictures he had ever seen, these meant the most to him. The huge, power-ridged torso of the Hercules filled him with fellowship to so much might and in some way seemed to make him share the giant’s merciless efficiency. He could repeat the Labors. The genius of this overweening man who had penetrated to all the corners of the earth and forever forced for himself acceptance and a welcome was dazzling to Quincy. He enjoyed gazing at a plastic wish fulfillment. But for the sentiment of the divine, he turned toward the Venus. Hercules was to him a successful man; Venus was a goddess. He loved to look at her. The subdued rhythm of her body, the gentle poise of her head and breasts justified Quincy in his own nature, whereas the brawny giant served to mitigate that nature’s real{66}ness and to exalt its opposite. So also, since the Venus reached him not by antithesis, but by a direct appeal to a deep, primal part of him, his love for her was more rapt, more pointless, sweeter. He spent more time with her than with the giant. But she made him think less. And he knew less about the instinct which drew him toward her.

Above Quincy’s head, as he worked, was an electric bracket. To his left were the two beds. In the direction that he faced were the windows, curtained in dainty, dun-colored mesh. To his right was a mahogany bureau. This was no ideal setting for his work. But Quincy had learned—it was one of the gifts of the poor days—to concentrate.

The door opened and Jonas slammed in. There was no formality between them. So Quincy went on working. But in the pause that followed, the child felt something which disturbed him. Still holding his pencil, he turned about. There, near the door, stood Jonas, looking at him. On his face was a gleam of triumph.

“What’s happened, Jonas?”

Jonas chuckled. “Time to get ready for supper, Quint.”

The child jumped up, to obey. “What has happened?”

“Oh, if you only knew!”

“Tell me.”

Jonas laughed tantalizingly. The little lad looked at him with a hopeless rebuke. And then, tossing his head, he moved to the bureau and began to brush his hair. His hair seemed to grow awry, to shoot out in a dozen directions from his scalp. So Quincy’s task was always a fairly hard one since his mother insisted{67} on a part; and since, when he did not succeed, she would brush it for him and invariably hurt him. So Quincy fell to. Jonas stood smiling at him still. Suddenly, he began to speak.

“I guess I will tell you. I’m going away to school—right off.”

The child leaped around. “Jonas!”

“Next week. To Exeter.”

Quincy’s head worked fast. Then, with effort: “Can’t I go, too?”

It was a fatal question. Jonas took it sneering. He was nearly seventeen and he had the sense of age and independence that ordinary boys are prone to.

“You? I guess not. I don’t want you ’round any more. You stay at home, where you belong—if you belong anywhere.” He smiled.

He would have said more in this great need of establishing his power and independence through attack on some one immeasurably weaker, in these things, than himself. But just then a flying brush hurled against his forehead. He looked up, not understanding. And then, he smiled through his pain. For it was not to be admitted that this infuriated child could hurt him.

“You little sinner!—” he stepped back instinctively. Then, again, he smiled.

And at this last smile, Quincy became an unaccountable demon. He saw what he had done. It moved him strangely. A need swept over him to rush up to Jonas, to fling arms about his neck, to kiss him, to implore him, to cry out: “Take me too. Please, please stop despising me!” This was all his need. And yet, out of the fullness of his love he had flung his brush. And out of his love again, there he was,{68} leaping upon his brother, biting him, scratching him, tearing his face. And all that became articulate of his beseechment was a liquid “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

Jonas grasped at his frenzied, writhing assailant. At length, he caught him comprehensively within his arms. And then, Quincy went flying through the air. He fell, safely, stomach downward, on the bed. And there he lay, tearless, motionless, overwhelmed with the bitterness of life.

The door opened. He did not budge. But he understood. The alarm had brought his father. And there in the door he felt the cold, looming figure of the man whose presence alone was needed to brim his misery. Stark, stiffly, he lay now—one nerve of agony. And when his father’s voice came, it was like the sharp touch of steel upon a nerve that is exposed.

“What is this?”

“Oh, nothing,” replied Jonas, moved again by the need of minimizing the damage done by a child not yet turned twelve. But his father could see the two bloody scratches on his cheek, the slight swelling on his forehead. And Quincy could hear the nervous clutch in his voice.

Josiah looked long, saying nothing. And then:

“It’s supper time, Jonas.... Come down.... And as to you, my lad,—” Quincy held his breath with his galled anguish,—“you’d better stay up here—and cool off.”

Quincy had felt the smile in this voice also. He felt the two, their eyes meeting and smiling together. Then the door slammed and they were gone.

Smiles, smiles—what a curse smiles seemed to him! There was so much laughter in the house. But when they looked at him, it became a smile. Never,{69} never did they laugh with him. Surely, then, he too must learn to smile. Rigid as ever, he turned on his back. And through his scarce-started tears, he looked up at the blurred electric lamp. And then, as he lay there, his mouth trembled and he learned to smile. It was an evil moment.

Never had there been so deep a silence. With outstretched body, it was to Quincy as if he had been swept beyond the bed. He seemed afloat, astride two worlds, strangely apart from the one in which he had been incontinently dropped. And then a thought of what had happened—a whispered thought like a dim memory—brushed him back into the actual living. With his face hot in fever, his mind seething in visions that burst out and vanished ere they had been caught, all of his life came to him in a clear, ghostly light. He saw the household, below stairs, joyously seated at the gleaming table, eating good things. He felt hungry. He wished to go out and steal some food. He wished to crash through the floor and fall, dead and mangled, upon that board of mocking plenty. But through it all, he managed still to smile.

And then, he looked up. His mother had come in, holding a tray.

“You were very naughty, Quincy,” she said in a voice that went up and down, “but I have brought you some dinner.”

Quincy was still smiling. He reached out his arm for a pillow and flung it at his mother. It fell short, doing no harm. Sarah placed the tray precipitately on a chair and rushed to the bed.

“Darling, darling!” she cried, “why are you like this? Tell mother, won’t you? What is it? Why? Why?{70}

She kissed his face. She pressed his hands. She clamped his ears so that they hurt deliciously. And Quincy lay silent, happy; his smile lost at last in the sweet tears.

Then, something came over his mother. She stopped.

“I must go now,” she said hurriedly. “Father was angry even at this. He said for Bridget to bring it up. He’ll be mad, dearest, if I stay.”

She leaned over and kissed her son, once more. He lay now, stiffly again and sternly. Then the door closed behind her.

For some time Quincy remained upon the bed. His face was a screen to a bitter battle. Bitterness had the victory. He jumped up and uncovered the dishes on the tray. Roast-beef soaking in gravy, peas and sweet-potatoes, apple-sauce and angel cake. Calmly and slowly he took a dish, moved to the low casement window, opened it, and threw out the contents. And in this gesture he continued, going back and forth, eyes bright with fever, mouth parted with passion,—until all of the food he craved had disappeared into the grey, deep night.


So Jonas went away to school, and the agony of this period in Quincy’s life set in—the end of the Reign of Jonas.

For the most part, it was the feeling of a void; to fill it, the creating of a fancied Jonas. And this, being in its essence art, Quincy discovered to be painful. In his relations with his school-mates, with his sisters, with Marsden, he missed him most. And the Jonas whom he regretted was a bland, kind brother, not reasoned-out but clear through the pleasing memory{71} that he inspired. In brief, Quincy was longing for a brother he himself had invented. And to this creation went little fact beyond the name of Jonas. If this new brother’s face was one with the old, at least his expression was so different as to transfigure it. If his voice was one, the words he spoke had varied even that. Besides, Quincy was happy with his creation. Had Jonas never returned, never shown his real face, his real spirit, doubtless Quincy would have prospered with his auspicious figment. And though life had turmoiled him in a dozen other ways, he would still have clung close to his dream, derived from it sustenance and so hewn out an indomitable faith. For no actual occurrence could have attained to splinter it. Jonas alone was so empowered.

Quincy had troubled his mother enough to know on what day Jonas was coming for his Christmas holidays. At first, knowledge of the day had sufficed. He had aimed his existence at that day. It had seemed a small enough target. But when the day came, Quincy realized his error. He learned of the vague, broad desert that a day can be. He felt the irony of implacable dimension when one’s heart strains toward a pin-point. He awoke in the morning with a bound of fear. What if Jonas was already there! He lay in bed and listened. No stirring. It was not too late. For Jonas always made a noise. And then, as a sense of gratitude came over him, it was dispelled at once by a succeeding sickish thought. His vacation did not begin until the morrow. He would, then, have to spend the morning—half of the day—out of sight and beyond watch. During that time, Jonas might walk in! The idea froze him. He thought of playing sick—just so sick as to be able to remain{72} at home. He did not care even if it did mean doctoring him. His fervor laughed at castor-oil. Once more, a glow of satisfaction, such as one feels after a great invention. But this also, was short-lived. The mournful countenance of duty had thrust in at the door. The school, that morning, was giving a Christmas Exercise. He had his rôle in the festivities. There was to be a masque of the nations, assembled to wish America a happy new year. In this great ceremony, Quincy was to take the part of Mexico. Leggins, sombrero, tasseled vest and practice in rolling out “carramba” had gone toward the occasion. He could not shirk this austere duty. The vision of staying luxuriously at home, of waiting in the warm house for Jonas, had disappeared.

And so, since he must run risks, he faced them. He jumped out of bed although it was a full hour before breakfast. He dressed and went downstairs. Perhaps Jonas might come in early—and he be there, alone, to greet him! He was disappointed. And then his mother appeared.

“You down so early?” she asked, looking for something wrong.

“Mama, when does Jonas come?”

“Today.” She went toward the pantry to signal the cook.

“Yes, Mama. But when to-day?”

Sarah looked at her little son as he stood there, all serious and expectant.

“I don’t know. Don’t bother me. By suppertime, I guess,” and she went out.

Breakfast went fast, since the threat of school was at its termination. And then, he and Adelaide were shuttled off in the brand-new limousine.{73}

Before he had gauged the event, he was on his feet. The thought of Jonas had lurked in a strategic corner of his consciousness. And it had gathered to it the energy which might have gone to stage-fright.

Before him lay countless amorphous rows of children, with stern sprinklings of teachers. He began. It was as if his voice went on of itself—uncontrolled, aloof from him, so that he heard it from afar. He had studied his rôle too well. It left no fear of his forgetting it. And in the relief, back stole the thought of Jonas, the possible catastrophe if he returned, while Quincy stood there droning out his duty. If his duty was to be done, at least it could be gone through quickly. The words flowed. He hurried them, as if pursuing from behind. It was a way of getting back. And then, suddenly, his words stopped. He realized that there were no others. He sat down.

He received little praise for his performance. His teacher, a stout, florid creature, came up to him showing her teeth, as she did always when she was irritated. She found fault with his rendition. But what bothered Quincy was the thought that his hurrying had not brought nearer his return. It had been useless.

He did not hate the woman only because of his indifference. About him was a bustle of holiday excitement. Children laughed and ran about. Teachers relaxed and Quincy noticed that when they became smirkingly human they were still more disagreeable than when they had been teachers. It was as if they had taken off their clothes. Greetings of “Merry Christmas” interspersed the general murmur of voices and light feet. It was all like a great, dim wave on the edge of Quincy’s consciousness.{74}

At last, however, the wave broke; the voices scattered; the eddies lessened. And then, Quincy came home.

Jonas was not there. So he ate his lunch, tossed between gladness at not having missed him and hollow perturbation at the deep-shadowed future. For in this state, the coming home of Jonas was Quincy’s future.

His mother had said to Rhoda:

“Dear, if you have nothing to do, will you take the children for a short walk in the Park?”

Rhoda had consented. The remainder of the meal was torture to Quincy. But out of his new anguish was born a device. For he was resolved not to go out, that afternoon.

As soon as the company had gotten up from the table, Quincy went bravely up to Rhoda who stood alone in a corner. Rhoda was seventeen—a remote, resplendent creature. She was dark and tall and very cold and very occupied in her own mysterious affairs. Quincy looked up at her with admiration, but with distance. He felt that she was beautiful. He felt that he would not have minded had she kissed him—which she never did; that he would have been glad, had she noticed him—which occurred scarce more often. Now, however, he was inspired. So he went up to her unhesitant, reached for her wrists, clasped them, and spoke.



“Please, sister—make Mama not make you take me out, to-day.”

“What’s wrong?” She looked down, interested.{75}

“Please, sister—I want to be here when Jonas is coming.”

He looked up piteously. And Rhoda laughed.

“All right. I don’t care, I’m sure. I’ll see to it.”

So Quincy went up to his room. He did not take out his toy engine or his soldiers. He knew he should not be able to do his vacation homework. For some strange reason, he was prompted to look at Hercules and Venus. But mostly, he waited. Waiting was by now the atmosphere he lived in. His mood had grown so wide, he scarcely noticed it, for want of something to contrast it with. His strain toward Jonas had grown so intense, he scarce saw him, felt him, thought of him any longer. His subconscious mind seemed to be the active one. So he merely waited, doing few external things, aware of few external qualities. And among those that went were time and Jonas. All that remained was the abstract waiting for him.

And then, a noise below. For a moment, it meant nothing. Then it flashed on him palpably that Jonas had arrived! He rushed to the door. He was downstairs. Jonas was before him.

“Brother!” he cried, aching to be caught up.

Jonas looked down at the intrusion.

“Oh, hello, Kid. How are you?” He had outgrown kissing. He threw his coat on a chair, lounged into another, lighted a cigarette and then went on: “Say, Ma—I’m hungry.”


If there was a shred of hope left, it went that evening.

The scene took place directly after supper. It took place before Quincy. And, most horrible of all, Quincy was its cause. Jonas objected to sharing a{76} room during his vacation with a twelve year old child. That was the crux. He explained amply what he meant. He had had a different sort of a room-mate at school. He was sorry now, that he had not accepted his invitation to go with him to Chicago. He’d not have been placed in the nursery, there. When fellows came home from “work” at Christmas, their families were expected to be a little considerate of them. Some had their breakfasts served in bed. He didn’t demand that. He wasn’t selfish. But there were certain indignities one had to draw the line at! He was not proposing to spend his vacation by going to bed with the chickens—or the babies. He expected to have “late dates” every night; “late sleeps” every morning. He did not wish to be disturbed. He was used to smoking in his bedroom, before sleep, before arising. This also, was a habit dear to his manhood. But, most important of all arguments, he simply would not have it! If the Kid stayed where he was, he, Jonas, would wire to his chum and take the sleeper to Chicago. Just watch and see if he didn’t! Didn’t he have cash enough in his pocket?

All this, Quincy heard, sitting quiet and alone in a corner, while his hero paced the floor, using his name, ignoring his presence, soiling his soul. And now, Rhoda chimed in, agreeing. And now they all agreed!

The broad sofa in the parental room was to be improvised at once into a bed. This would do for Quincy, during the vacation.

The servant was summoned, the deadly order given. Jonas called out a general “good-bye” that somehow did not include his brother in the corner, since he had not turned in that direction. He left the house to meet a friend, downtown.{77}


Two days Quincy had been going about with a soiled handkerchief. At last his mother noticed it, lost patience and sent him upstairs for a fresh one. Quincy grit his teeth and went. But the philosophy behind that handkerchief no one in the family was near to reckoning.

The truth was, he avoided his old room. Throughout the holidays, he stepped within it as little as was possible. And there his handkerchiefs were kept. Had he been wise, once there, he would have taken more than a day’s supplies. But Quincy did not have that manner of shrewdness. And even if he had, it would have been a costly risk to hide his linen in the room below. So, at times, a hurried visit was inevitable. In the old days, he had spent long hours there. And still, he might have, since Jonas generally was gone with lunch, not to return until vague hours after. But the charm and the glow of the room were dead. Enough of it remained to have turned into a sneer and mockery. For this room had been an altar to Quincy’s faith. In it, he had performed his services; here he had dwelt as a priest, in the abode of his faith. And he had been driven out and all of the temple had been sullied. And now, there was no god at all. So that the room served merely as a cold record of present miseries and lost illusions.

Meantime, for two weeks, he slept in a broad couch placed at the foot of his parents’ beds. And here was{78} a steadfast torture not to be avoided like the room above. A dilemma confronted Quincy. He was, for some reason, uneasy about lapsing into unconsciousness ere his parents came to retire; and yet, to be awake when they came in was a miserable trial. So between the two uncomfortable states, the child built up a fever of resentments. Although he could not so have worded it, his was a feeling more than all else of humiliation, of shame at this promiscuous arrangement. He went to bed with a weighing smart on his soul, like the mark of a blow that one can not avenge. And then, with gloomy prospect, he drew the covers high over his face and lay there, staring out, gripping his blanket, stiff with a sense of deep discomfort. And all manner of wild, ugly thoughts raced through his half somnolent mind—thoughts of vindication against Jonas, against his sisters, against his parents; lurid sweeps of chastisement in which there was neither mercy nor discrimination. Fairly, his blood boiled with his resentment at this cavalier disposal of him and the malignant token—his lying there!—of how well Fortune could distort his hopes. And then, generally, his body would prevail and he would fall asleep.

But with such rivalry, sleep could not be firm. Too much passion and reflection, thrown up by his unconscious self like the lava of a volcano, flooded the black slopes of Quincy’s night. And in his sleep came hectic, vivid dreams—dreams in which a burst of repressed wishes stormed to realization. Nor were the wishes good or gentle or composed....

In the midst of some fantasy, painting his sleep, Quincy slides across the faint border into consciousness. There are his parents. A light sears through{79} his closed eyes. He will keep them closed, though it meant never to be able again to open them. For solely by feigning sleep can he be sure his mother and father will not address him. And the idea of that is unbearable. How can he speak to these two tyrants about whom his thoughts contain so many guilty reservations? He lies still, strained, listening for all the little noises that will upset him, waiting for the light to go and rest to come. His parents never make mention of his name. They talk sparingly, and then of things that he does not understand. But every sound they make seems to him a monstrous thing. They are trying to be quiet. But of what avail, when the drop of a shoe on the floor twinges through him like a dart? when the creak of a bed plays on his nerves as on a jangled harp? when the repressed sound of their voices, whispering, becomes a source of suffering worse through the very quality of stillness and of effort?

And with the morning, the shame of getting up when they do; the grim refusal (though the price be their completer feeling of his “badness”) in such naked intimacy to share their life, as if he shared as well their cruelty and their dull perceptions. The agonized last minutes waiting under covers, though the dregs of sleep be turned into a bitter wide-awake, until they are dressed. And then, to spring up with a sick relief, to rush into clothes and go!... Above all, with the morning, the consciousness of the next night.


So came the New Year, while the City revelled. And then, at last this holiday of suffering was over. Jonas was gone. Quincy returned to his room. And it had no positive reaction upon him. Simply, he was{80} glad that certain things were gone. Passively, he accepted the present. He entered upon a period of calm, of seeming apathy. But this welcome state was destined to prove meretricious. Quincy had not really attained serenity or resignation, after his turbulent experience. His soul, rebuffed and bruised, was not yet content to retire within itself and glut its own demands. There was a long road, ere this, for Quincy. For the present, unconsciously of course, he delighted in his breathing space and with great readiness forgot the past with its poignant measure of prophetic warning. But, in truth, his soul was merely crouching ere it leaped out once more. It had not been discouraged. Within it, was too much vitality for that. It was lying low, only to attempt a higher flight, once a new object had been scented.

When Quincy was thirteen, he discovered Rhoda.

Jonas was still away—at college. Rhoda had done with school and the idea of college for a girl was not part of the mental outfit which the Burt family had brought along from Harriet, Long Island. Adelaide approached sixteen. Her educational trials were not yet over. Marsden was now literally a man. A certain surface of his mind had grown hard and polished, so that he was clever and ingenious; able to make bearable the largely mental life to which his body had condemned him. The depths of his mind had died, so that he was bitter in spirit, visionless, and well nigh content. He derived the same satisfaction from his dominion in the household that a normal man might glean from his part in a community. He drew joy from his ability to judge aloof; he created a sort of life from the business of poising the lives of others.

Some time, he had been watching Quincy. But the{81} period of their talks was not yet ripe. For the present, he was a cold, hard, cynical obstruction upon Quincy’s path—a creature that could sear and wither with a word, an intimate that exploited his foreknowledge with the evil unconcern of an outsider. Quincy hated him, feared him. For he was powerful beyond his parents when it became his listless fancy to ordain. And his mother loved him with a warmth that was thrice cursed, since it withdrew a part of her from Quincy, since it served as a common interest to veer her toward his father and since in the last fact, the love she did bestow upon him seemed somehow tainted and imperfect. Marsden had not yet been created in Quincy’s life. He stood there as a bitter, impersonal condition—an element, a natural detail. In this way, a pagan peasant might regard a mountain that stood north above his land—the womb of storms, the treasury of frosts, a thing under no circumstance to be explored.

Marsden’s time would come. But now, the child’s senses opened miraculously wide to Rhoda. With Rhoda, a new Adelaide was as well created. But in the counterpoint played by these sisters upon Quincy, the elder had the upper hand.

It was the common mistake of most people to call Rhoda the prettier of the two. Such are the triumphs of an aggressive spirit. For although the younger girl was essentially the finer girl, her subdued nature shone forth badly beside the obvious brilliance of her sister. Rhoda was tall and dark; Adelaide was short and blonde. Rhoda’s eyes were large, brown, pent-up always with whatever mood possessed her. Adelaide’s eyes were small and their blue was unobtrusive; their spirit was diffident; their suggestion of an Oriental{82} tilt seemed somehow to conceal itself. They were set deep and soft, seclusively almost. And the angle of their position with the faint thickness of their lids, the short fringe of golden lash above them (a sign of delicacy for who understood), served with most persons as an excuse for not noticing her at all. Rhoda’s eyes, on the other hand, squarely, unimaginatively set, came forward to command. At eighteen, it was obvious to her mother that she was to be what she herself termed a “belle.”

To Quincy, Rhoda became now, by degrees, a dominant and estimable figure. The evolution of this from early hatred and mistrust, through the period of apathy when Jonas had foregathered his affections, was of course not a conscious one. But gradually, Rhoda entered his dreams, later his thoughts—came in some way to merge with them and to be welcome there. The sporadic walks which she took in Central Park with Adelaide and him grew to be hours of anticipation. During them, this tall glamorous creature that lived so near seemed to relax from her haughty state and to be willing to consort with him.

Upon one occasion, he had chanced to see her as she was dressing. Rhoda had seemed unconcerned enough at this momentous incident. She had crossed her hands quickly upon her breasts, cried: “Go away!”—and been otherwise unmoved. In the shock of his amazement and swift retreat, he had seen little. Yet that little remained long, branded within the texture of his mind. He had not forgotten the event,—although he had no idea of what, exactly, he remembered.

For his thirteenth birthday, Quincy received a bicycle. With the spring, he determined to learn to{83} ride it. And Rhoda volunteered to teach him. They went to Central Park, to the circular abandoned road-way where once, ere Quincy’s memory, had stood a statue of Bolivar and which later great quantities of stone and sand turned into a manner of Park dump. With the strangely sweet presence of Rhoda beside him, he had learned rapidly. And having learned, he found that he had learned too rapidly, since now this presence would be no longer there, beside him, as he pedalled. Having stooped from her cold estate in the excitement of teaching her brother how to ride, Rhoda lost no time in clambering back again. And so, Quincy found a new want in his heart.

In his own way, he began to pay court to Rhoda. He was fully aware that he had rivals. Rhoda went to parties on many evenings. And on many others, she remained alone in the parlor with some caller whom Quincy never saw. A great curiosity came over him to see these men who were his rivals. Once, he slipped downstairs at the time when he was supposed to go up to bed, and hid in the portières. He knew that a caller was coming. But he became frightened and ran away even before the bell had rung. It was decidedly too dangerous an experiment. Quincy knew that his discovery in such flagrant badness before his sister’s caller would reflect on her. It would plunge them together into shame. Had not his mother told him that when he was bad, she always lost a bit of her prestige before her God? He did not wish that kind of sharing, with his sister. So he never stole downstairs again, to hide, when he had been sent to bed.

Quincy’s way of courting Rhoda gave little promise of his subsequent success with women. Quincy did{84} not understand his sister. It did not occur to him to psychologize beforehand the effect which his efforts would be likely to attain. It did not occur to him to find what she most wished by studying her nature, to suppress what was conflicting in himself and to feign what was harmonious. Gallantry is a sense in men capable of being tutored into art. At thirteen, it was already patent that Quincy’s sense of hearing did not promise the musician, nor his sense of sight the artist—nor his sense of pleasing, the diplomat or gallant. He was an ordinary boy. The most that one had ever said about him was that he was bright at school.

Now, when Quincy received a piece of chocolate or a box of soldiers or a flower, he was very happy. Also, in his new state, he needed—though he ignored the reason—to make Rhoda happy. His way was that of a miserable logic. When he received a cake of chocolate, in lieu of devouring it as his lust urged, a greater love restrained him. He saved it. And when, in the late afternoon, Rhoda came home from a tea, he rushed up to her, held out his offering before her, and said: “Here!”

In his accent, Quincy put neither a suggestion of his sacrifice nor a hint of the motive behind his gift. So perhaps Rhoda must be excused. She looked at the chocolate:

“I don’t want it.” The fact was that she had eaten too much pastry at the tea.

Quincy withdrew his offering and ate it, that night, before retiring.

On another occasion, it was a daisy that his mother gave him. It was the evening of the great dance to which Rhoda was going and for which preparations were on foot with the early afternoon. Now Quincy{85} had learned much of the mundane way. And one of the things he knew was that when his sister went to a dance, she always wanted flowers.

So he took his daisy and held it up to her.

“Will you wear this to-night?” he asked proudly.

Rhoda laughed. “Here,” she said, “—wear it yourself,—” and pinned it upon his blouse.

Quincy left it there. But he felt the condescension in her retort. Had he seen the bower of roses that one of the callers brought with him, after he had gone to bed, he might have understood. But also, he might not have gained much solace from his added wisdom, since roses were so pathetically far beyond his reach.

And so, time and again, Quincy’s assiduous courtship failed, not only of impression but of notice. Gradually, Quincy began to realize that his desire to be an entity in Rhoda’s life was for some reason quite as monstrous and preposterous as had been his kindred wish with Jonas. His mute attempts to share in the lives of those whom he was so apt to love, his efforts to inspire them to share in his, seemed, for some cause, to partake of the nature of a jest—of an extravagance.

Once more, his vital energies swirled and stormed and veered within him, hopeless of goal or outlet. His affection for his sister had at best been vague. Quincy had no conception of the deep ties and firm hold which a response in her would have called forth. He had no idea of the undirected force which this thwarting had thrown wildly back upon himself. All that he knew, was that life, somehow, hurt; and that his mother was indubitably right when she called him “bad” and constantly “growing worse.”

And meantime, near Rhoda, in whose cold, perverse,{86} spoiled beauty his ironic instinct had caused him to seek a haven, there was another sister, yearning for his companionship.

But Adelaide’s eyes were diffident, and her way was quiet. Quincy knew about her only that she was in Rhoda’s graces, and therefore to be tacitly envied and resented.{87}


With Quincy’s fifteenth year came a flare of recognition. But it was brief. By it, he saw his sister, Jonas, his parents, as they were. But the light had no fuel to subsist on. His untutored, indomitable needs flushed forth and drowned the momentary blaze of disillusion. And once again he was unable to see the futility of wishing and of striving in these barred directions. Wherefore, despite his sense of the sequel, the story of Rhoda, and Adelaide, and his mother was scarce begun.

For a long time it had hurt the boy to be forced witness to Marsden’s pampering and his sister’s demonstrations. It had hurt him to see the pointed, exclusive camaraderie between Jonas and his father, to feel the apologetic pitying note in his mother’s love for him. But during this long time, all these proofs of his want had not made him bitter. Gradually, he had poised and judged the value of these things he lacked. But his first impulse had not been to cry out, not to turn inward in dismay. A natural sense of justice is born in most of us. It is a part of our natal logic. One of our greatest blows comes from the late experience that that sense which we have transferred from our own heart to the heart of the world really does not obtain there. So with Quincy. Viewing these favors that were showered upon others, that seemed so strangely always to escape himself, his im{88}pulse was to believe the others right, to fix the fault within himself. Much of the impulse that had driven him toward Jonas and toward Rhoda was the desire to gain these things he lacked—or thought he lacked; was his wish to qualify within the circle where favors were dispensed. He had accepted that the fault was his. He had made his mute endeavor to correct it.

Now, however, came the grey, shivering spectre of defeat. And then, for the first time, Quincy was disposed to spare himself and to blame those who denied him what they seemed so lavishly able to give elsewhere.


This was the year of Quincy’s warfare—a scant guerilla. And its result? Consider the pre-conceptions of those within the house, and it must be clear that they seized on this new hard Quincy to justify the feelings they had already nurtured for the old. Their attitude, their lack of sympathy, by dint of an incessant effort through the years, had brought about this show of sullen animosity within him. So now they quoted this show of animosity as cause of their longstanding attitude and lack of sympathy. It is a common habit of mankind—an infinitely common.

It had its unhindered fling with Quincy. His family were not loth of the chance he offered them to justify their feelings. And it was to be a long time ere the effect of that short year would leave them, however poignant in reality and more true to type were the years that followed or preceded.

His father’s old resentments flared. Finding Quincy unresponsive, silent, disagreeable, he turned to Sarah and asked what, after all, her child was likely to be good for. Rhoda came to feel in him a deep,{89} glowing animosity that showed in the curl of his lips when she appeared in a ball gown, or in his refusal to look and join the chorus of admiration, when she received a present or a compliment. She tossed her head and decided that Quincy was an ugly little fellow with no respect for beauty or superiority—a little fellow whom she must in consequence ignore. Jonas discovered that when he wished to tell his brother some loathsome, funny story, Quincy declined to be dazzled or bewildered or amused. He learned to dislike heartily the cold aloofness with which, during that year, Quincy received his visits from college and rebuffed his chance efforts at attention. So Jonas also resolved to ignore his brother. It did not occur to him that he had already killed the boy’s love of fellowship with him; it did not occur to Rhoda that he needed protection from the anguish which her ways had brought to his rapt admiration. To the family, it was plain that a discordant element was within it. And that was all.

Sarah did not understand. She was almost won over by the very prevalence of the opinion that Quincy’s manner was a natural weed and the sole cause of his own tribulation. But although she was not mind-proof to this insidious crowd-psychology, her heart had power against it; and it bled at the breach which, at last, she had been brought to see. However she might feel called on to remonstrate with him, she was intuitively on Quincy’s side.

Of course, in the very fact of her remonstrance, she defeated the good her sympathy might have done. Quincy wished for no pity. He demanded full understanding. Her way was not whole-hearted enough; was too finite; was too eloquent of the influence of{90} the “other side.” Deprived of most, Quincy had become more exacting than ever. Feeling his mother’s sense of his own fault, a tendency in her to see a shred of right against him, he rejected her. And this he did cruelly, coldly,—without explanation; so that the bewildered Sarah wrung her hands and ate out her heart. In the boy’s breast smouldered not agony alone; but with it a need of vindication. The family were so far from him that he knew well the futility of reaching them. Even his resentment, he was aware, could not attain them. And so it was that not only his instinct for affection had been starved; even his sense of injury, since it was unblazoned, had been injured also.

Here, Quincy’s mother was an opportunity of Nature. In her lack of a splendid giving, she was inadequate. At least, she offered a chance for him to retrieve his sense of injury. She was near enough to be hurt. So a sad satisfaction came of injuring his mother, who alone would receive his injury. The boy was cruel, cold to her. He knew it. He could not help it. But the knowledge that he was making miserable the one whom he loved most, brought Quincy’s cup to overflowing.

Sarah took his attacks in disarray. She did not understand them. And Quincy raged that she did not understand. He yearned for her help against himself. He received merely tears and lamentations which, far from softening him, gave satisfaction to the appetite which had called them forth.

Had he been able to cry: “Mother, mother! Don’t you understand? It is because I am near to you whom I love that I can hurt you. It is because I am far away from those who hurt me, that I cannot{91} hurt them. My ugly passions are not meant for you. Understand them. Then, they will cease. Come unreservedly, my mother. Come, and take me!”—had he been able to cry out thus, his problem would have been less vexed. But he was only a child.

Or had Sarah been able to say to him: “Darling, I understand your cruelty to me. It has no effect. I love you. There is nothing else!”—she would have found a truer Quincy, tearful but happy against her breast. But Sarah had other loves. And Sarah had little understanding.

And so, the year swerved on, miraculously void of light, shot through with pities. And Quincy grew less friendly, less boyish, almost less alive. He was become almost an inhabitant of the house, rather than a member of the household. Of course, only a severe observer could have caught this truth. For in a child of fourteen the difference is a nuance. And if its subtle tragedy were open to the casual observer, man would be more horrified at the thing’s prevalence.

Quincy sought solitude. But he found no real comfort in his loneliness. Simply, he had reached a stage in his life’s struggle, where he did not care for comfort. He felt that there was merely a choice of pains. He had lost the sheer idealism that admits of a pure happiness. And of the choice of pains that he envisaged, he preferred the rarefied, controllable sort that solitude fermented to the sharp improvisations of other people. So he remained alone as long as possible. He nursed and refined his misery. He grew used to it. He came almost to cherish it.

He had simply transferred upon his family the rôle that they had seemed intent on giving him. Though he had combatted consciousness of it through the years{92} of his naïve endeavors, they had forced him to see himself as an intruder. Instinctively, he reversed the order. He made of himself a world, and a society. And they who came upon him were the intruders! He had gone out with love and been refused. Here, in his world-reversal, was his mother’s part. She came to him with love. She was rejected.

The machinery of his mood worked now despite himself. Though he longed for tenderness, he could not be tender; though he longed for his mother, he could not be gently passive for her advance. Something within him that was wounded turned his tenderness to spite; his inarticulate love into an expressed rebuff. The old way he had tried—of giving in the faith that he would receive, of going forward in the faith that he would be taken up. The sprouting sunward was turned in. The perfume was crushed. The tendrils were thorns.

Yet what a flimsy farce was this new, lonely world of Quincy! Its very nature was the proof of his enduring need still to go forth, to love, to harmonize with others. The pith of every condition is a ground common with its opposite.


Thus came the summer.

His mother’s strict surveillance over him was lifted. He was getting old, now! He was allowed to go alone on walks. And summer meant country. So far, however much he loved the wide fresh sky and the sense of cheer that country meant, it had served rather to sharpen the boy’s moods than to assuage them. For he had been hindered from meeting it alone. The tantalizing charm within the fields and woods which, left to himself, he must have grasped, evaded him, sur{93}rounded as he was by the ties of home. And these ties were strict. Had Quincy been chief in the affections of his parents, his mother could not have been more nervous, more loth to set him free. Freedom had not come as recompense for solitude.

But now, at last, one day, when the mood seized him to stroll, he was not prevented. He followed the road out of the village. And then, as if a long restraint on a long hunger had suddenly been lifted, he dashed into the thick woods.

At first, his strongest sense was one of fright, of discomfort, almost of embarrassment. His soul did not know what to do. His mind was conscious, dominantly, that he had not expected this reaction of malaise. What had his mind expected? Whence had it been prompted to expect anything? What could be rational in a sense of disappointment, sprung from nothing?

Vaguely, Quincy came to feel that he had set hopes upon the woods, that he had built upon these murmurous companions, fondly, unconsciously, a hope of solace and of haven. What a strange feeling it was, as he trudged on, over the uneven path of rock and root, to know that this deep heart of Nature with its accent of green had dwelt, unknown, within his own heart and there persevered, a bulwark of promise against the blast of his reality! Yet, poignantly, was this true. A great urge in the lad’s soul had swept back from life in the city to the rural setting that preceded it. Man will have his happiness, though he distort childhood, fabricate history, to attain it. The usual happy conception, in man’s mind, of childhood is an example. Quincy, miserable with the present, had been forced back in his search of that mystic Eden{94} which each man and each race must cherish, to make of it a goal and pattern for the future. And in his innocent regression, what could he fix on better than this fringe of his life, vague and therefore easily idealized? He could not fix, for this purpose, on any member of his family. They were still with him; they had already fought—as if with all their powers—against this zealous effort. The one great distinction between the unhappy present and the past that he willed to serve as contrast, was this same gentle, all-pervasive thing—the woods, the meadows. Here was an element which had disappeared with his fictitious happiness.

Yet, doubtless, a something deeper than these reasonings gave Nature her deep place in Quincy’s heart; doubtless, the sole fact of herself, of her still depths and her mystic penetrations, of her transcendent eloquence and her calm, stately love. No child could live within the murmur of her breath, within the perfume of her energies, and utterly escape her. For the swaying of trees is a blessing; and the wind in their laced branches is a prayer; and the stirring of life packed with myriad simpleness throughout the reaches of the wood is an unforgettable music. And to sleep where the air comes brushing, be it only from the dryest grass or the lowest shrub, is to have slept in an embrace that neither mortal love nor hatred can abolish.

And now, Quincy was walking in the woods, dazed and abashed, as might be a man in sudden presence before the woman of his forgotten dreams. He felt nothing deeply. He and the woods seemed very separate. And curiously, of them the woods seemed the more personal and alive. He took in, with his undiscerning eyes, the intricate recurrence of design, the{95} sumptuous harmony of sky and ground and forest, the minor notes, as of universe in universe, traced by moss and vine and flower within the sweeping whole. But, though he strove to feel his measure in this whole, a sense of nervous fear prevented him. He walked on, against his instinct to turn back and keep the road. Something within him seemed to know that it took time to grow used to one’s divinity. And even so, as he marched on, he came to unlimber. A lump within him thawed and he was bathed in a glow that had still a tang of frost. But, yet, his mind had never been so vacant.

And then, a new thing happened.

It was as if the trees had bent down, of a sudden, and possessed him; as if their acrid juices had been shot within him; as if their leaves were brushing upon his face like amorous fingers. The woods were a vibrant, sinuous form against his body, pressing it to a sweet numbness like a mother’s breast. Quincy’s blood tingled. A madness gripped him, mounted him, spurred him into flight. He ran. There was nothing else. The woods were in him. And they were an ecstasy. So, sustaining it, he ran.

And then, breathless, capless, he stopped. All of it seemed not over-strange. He knew it would be useless to seek his cap. Besides, he did not care. He turned instinctively toward where he thought the road must lie. He rejoined it. And then, he made for home. Half way, he grew conscious of a slight pain in his left foot. He looked down and was impressed to find that the shoe was torn and that blood lay thick-matted with the dust upon the stocking that showed through. Immediately, he was aware that the pain had been with him long; that it stung frightfully. He{96} began straightway to limp. And as the pain grew stronger, the charm that had made his visitation in the woods seem natural and calm, wore gradually out. He looked back, now, with wonder upon his frenzied running. What had happened? how long and why had he done as he had done? But at best, amazement was feeble. He accepted the corybantic mystery. It filled him now with a strange satiety. Even the foot that made him limp did not deter his startling consciousness of being happy. And the cottagers he passed, who gazed at this strange apparition of the Burt boy, hatless, dishevelled, limping, failed to arouse him from his reverie. In this manner, he reached his home.

Adelaide was knitting on the porch, alone. She looked up and saw her brother, dirty, torn, wounded—lost in a glamor of recollection which she at first mistook for the daze after an accident. She threw her work aside, rushed down to him, and though he was nearly as tall as she, carried him bodily to the porch.

“Why, Quincy!” she exclaimed, “what has happened?”

The lad was still too far away for an answer. But Adelaide had seen the wound. In a flash, she had brought water and cotton. Tenderly so that it scarcely hurt, she drew off his stocking and cleaned his wound. There was considerable blood, much dirt, no depth. A sharp twig had torn a gash between the toes. Silently, she set to work, rinsing the cut and disinfecting it. While this was to be done, after all, there was no need in asking her brother questions. He was sitting quietly enough.

At last, in her task, Quincy grew aware of her, kneeling at his feet, caring for him. He watched her{97} silently, as she worked. The pain was there, but it was dull, now, and quite unobtrusive. What a strange sweet afternoon it was! And why, a pain with it?

He looked down at his sister. And now, she glanced up at him. Their eyes met and held. With one hand upon the bandage, the other clasped about and bracing his bared leg, she paused.

“Thank you, Adelaide.” The boy spoke with an accent of maturity that may come at any age, with a real emotion.

“Don’t be silly, dear,” Adelaide replied. And then she added: “How did it happen, brother?”

“I don’t know.”

The girl smiled, actually as if she understood.

“Perhaps you were running too fast, eh?”

Quincy looked sharp.

“Did you ever run in the woods?” he asked with ill-concealed excitement.

“Yes, indeed,” she confessed.

Quincy was silent. Adelaide drew a clean stocking over the bandaged foot, and then, a hand-knitted, crimson slipper.

“See if that’s comfy, now,” she said.

“Whose slipper is that?”

“Mine. You don’t care ...?” She spoke with a strange respect.

Quincy got up and walked. “It’s all right.” And then, facing Adelaide, he stopped. Once more, he was embarrassed. He wished he had been elsewhere.

“Thank you, sister,” he said with effort.

The girl looked at him lingeringly. It was a curious, beautiful look. It came through tears—at least, so it seemed to Quincy—like the sky through thin clouds.{98} And this made him grope vaguely back within his soul for something he had forgotten.

And then, again, came an unaccountable impulse. Adelaide had put out her arms. His impulse was to rush within them. It was as if he would cover many wounds, if he did that. He thought of this. And in the instant of thinking, doubt slipped within—doubt and the looming presence of the house, the memory of those within it, of what they were to him and of that which they had done. He must guard himself against a fresher wound—one of a sort different from this which Adelaide had bandaged. He must beware. He must consider the tribe of Adelaide, with her seeming love and her eyes that feigned a plea. He must remember the impossibility of this which appeared to be before him—the impossibility of love, of understanding; the reality of disillusion. He must cut through this day-dream....

There was a cloud of resolution. With it, the boy’s face hardened. He turned about and limped upstairs—like a wounded wild thing, afraid with returned vigor, of the good Samaritan that had succored it.

And Adelaide sank back to her chair. She forgot to remove the signs of Quincy’s accident. She forgot to knit. She remembered her father and Rhoda. And then, her breast rose stertorously, and she began to sob. For what she had felt, she understood.


The family returned early in September to New York. For Josiah and Rhoda had strong within them a country family’s lust for the City. And with the first burning of the leaves in autumn, they missed the streets and the traffic and the theatres and the hotel-lobbies. Nor was Marsden loth. He was able to{99} move about New York, in their motor; he was able even to visit Broadway since the Burt finances made feasible the purchase of a theatre-box. But Marsden did not care really for these. He preferred New York to the country, with the first burning of the leaves in autumn, merely because he had just been in the country. By Christmas, he would welcome a visit to Atlantic City or Bermuda; by April, he would again be longing for the mountains. The Burt family never summered at the sea-shore. It was too like Long Island. And so, the big house near Central Park, where the leaves die greyly instead of burning out, was made ready. And Quincy was hurried back—so it seemed to him—to live the year’s most passionate season in the City.

All of the summer, the mark had remained of the strange encounter with Adelaide and with the woods. He had avoided the woods, he had been shy with Adelaide. Several times, they walked forth together. But the girl’s efforts to make a breach in his world had been avail-less. They had marched on, silent for the most part; helpless utterly. And Nature was very far away.

She had ached for inspiration and she had failed. She blamed herself. Adelaide was no tactician. When she forced activity on her desire, she was even less expressive than when it lay painfully quiescent within her heart.

Yet there was an issue to her inspiration, even if she was not to be the one who gained. With the fall came a new spurt of hope and confidence to Quincy. It was still Rhoda. The boy ignored, of course, that the fuel for this new hope had come from Adelaide; that his élan toward Rhoda was due to Adelaide’s en{100}couragement. He had never looked on his younger sister in a warm light. The fire with which Rhoda touched him had never ceased to burn. And it was the season of lost passions—the season of burning leaves. Adelaide saw the event with conscious eyes—its irony, its hopelessness. It was she who had yearned and who had planned; it was Rhoda who ignored and who received.

And then, of course, came the same result. Quincy made ready for a still surer, harder state of disillusion.


The climax of sullen naughtiness was over.

After all, his condition had been chiefly due to his own sense of weakness, to his lack of pride. There had been so little impetus to pride! It was not that he was an unremarkable boy. He was. But most such feel distinction at least within their family. The illustriousness that the world will, of course, deny them, they receive at the hand of a parent, or a sister—a little world. And this little world they coax into sufficiency so that the basic need of holding up one’s head is answered; and, often to tragic consequence, the cold outer world comes to be ignored.

This was not Quincy’s case. He had succeeded poorly in judging his family’s view of him to be a blind one. Now, however, matters changed to a degree.

Quincy was at an age to sound the springs of manhood, and to glean childish joy therefrom. Above his poverty of gifts, there arose now a sense of power and of promise that thrilled him the more for its bare setting. Quincy was to be a man—a tall, strong master endowed with all the honors of his sex! This was something to one who had been an unpetted child{101} in a large family. And the new feeling brought revolution to his ways and views. The new element that entered in was one of confidence—potential self-assertion. It was a sickly, scarce noticeable thing. It was not strong enough to appear in its own light. But it gave to Quincy a sense of a reserve, a flair of a future. And however vague, this was a vital thing in one whose soul had been so constantly flung back upon a fancy-builded past.

A laborious task is the nurturing of pride in one who has lived long without it. Its growth is an imperceptible evolving. No member of the household—not Marsden who saw through idleness, not Adelaide who saw through love—was well aware of it in Quincy. To them, he was merely “behaving better.” His moroseness was less militant. His silence had less of a sneer and a scowl. But silence it was still. Quincy scarce knew of it himself, until the climax that with one shock bared his transfiguration. But until that climax, it seemed none the less to Quincy that life’s pain had subsided; that his surroundings were more bearable. He still felt the selfish attitude of Rhoda; his father’s stretches of ignoring him and sudden spurts of tyranny still wracked him; his mother was no less inadequate; Marsden was still the mordant sphinx. But now, a new element within him told him to abide his time—bade him grow and hope.

It was not until the spring that he learned how pervasively this new and hidden sense had fretted all of his being; how strongly it had attuned the fibres of his soul to its own message.


It was April and late afternoon. All of the Burt children were in the sitting room, on the second floor.{102} Jonas was in town for the Easter holidays. And Rhoda had just returned from a visit to Savannah where, incidentally, she had become engaged. So there was a general human glow about the place.

It was a conventionally furnished room, eloquent of the overpaid house-decorator. The walls were a thick, red silk above high panellings in oak. Two sets of curtains, red-plush and cream-colored net, shut out the gleam of the low sun that fell athwart the street. The chairs were lavishly upholstered, in light green with silvered wood. In the right corner of the room was Adelaide’s piano—Rhoda did not play. The center table was covered in brocade, bronze tinged. Upon it were ornaments—sculptured book-racks in mahogany, sumptuous paper cutters, a fan of ivory lace, a leather sécrétaire embossed in gold—all of it curiously travestied with a litter of cheap magazines. Against the left wall was a sofa and on it sat Adelaide, and Jonas puffing a pipe. At his left was a great settle with collapsible back, book-rest and foot-guard—the throne of Marsden. Rhoda had drawn her chair beside him. They were looking together at a comic weekly, and munching from a box of candy conveniently between them. On the room’s other side, near the piano, was Quincy,—relaxed far back in a high arm-chair, his legs dangling.


Marsden and Rhoda were seriously at their jokes, enjoying the candies together. Jonas pulled at his pipe, a smirk of ruddy satisfaction on his face. Adelaide was drowsy. She had set aside her book. There was little general conversation. And yet, an atmosphere of contentment pervaded the heavy, over-furnished room.{103}

Quincy, also, was drowsy. He had just stepped in for a magazine. An impulse that came seldom had prompted him to stay. No attention had been paid to him. So he had seated himself, half resolved to read. And now, he was contemplatively taking in the scene. The hour was between day and evening—in happier climes, the twilight. But New York has no stomach for nuances. With her greatness, the Metropolis has driven out the gentle hour wherein night’s mystery comes to meet the day’s assertiveness. It was already evening in the room. In the street, it was still day. The City’s life came muffled, as from another world.

Quincy’s mood made him observant. A touch of comradeship was in the motive that made him stay. He was hoping someone would talk to him. And in his wish, he studied the shadowed features of those from whom he seemed almost to be desiring a grace.

Quincy remarked how scant Marsden’s hair had become. Marsden was twenty-four. But he looked immeasurably old. Quincy observed that there was a discomforting presence in Rhoda. Her eyes were big and soft, yet what came from them was hard and—it came almost in its true terms to Quincy—mean. Her mouth had a fire about it; yet the broad lips did not suggest that the fire was contained. In looking at Rhoda, Quincy was minded of an iceberg swimming in a sea of flame. It was a fascinating thought. And he could not keep from thinking that if one were in the flame the ice would smart deliciously; whereas, if one were on the ice, the flame would be a balm. He did not understand very clearly about Rhoda. He knew that it was rather disconcerting to look long at her. He knew that her pale, dark face was beautiful. Just now, a stray gleam of the sun stood orange on her{104} hair. And her body, tight beneath its dress of silken crêpe, seemed strangely sweet and secret. He remembered then what he had seen on that one occasion. And then, he grew ashamed.

Beside her, Marsden was almost fearfully grotesque. His forehead bulged and his hair had a streak of grey. His eyes were now dull, now glistening. And his fingers were very long and made an irritating sound as he clicked them against his chair.

Jonas was a man of a dead mystery to Quincy. His ruddy, flashing face had been fully fathomed. He was a stranger whom once Quincy had been eager to know. The eagerness had died. The rather stout mass of his body, the weak puffiness of his lips, his nasal slang and his coarse straight hair were to Quincy an impersonal assortment.

With Adelaide he felt curiously unaroused. If this girl moved him at all, it was unpleasantly. There was a cloying, humble atmosphere about her. Quincy did not care for her. Frequently, he would forget that she was in the room.

And now, it had grown too dark, even for comic pictures. Marsden and Rhoda whispered together; his raucous chuckle chimed well with the cold ring of her laughter. And the night rose above them. Quincy’s mind went leaping through it as if light were a barrier at last effaced. He was comfortable in his chair. He wondered whether, perhaps, he was not face to face with a more comfortable future. His heart went out to his brothers and sisters, so eager was he to prove his dream’s verisimilitude. One so beautiful as Rhoda could not be hard of heart; nor one so rubicund as Jonas, nor so suffering as Marsden, nor so meek as Adelaide. Oh! if they but gave him{105} a chance—how good and kind and loving he would be! He was getting old now. He was fifteen. He could find ways to be of use. He could make his new happiness efficient. He could read to Marsden when he was tired; he could try to learn jokes to tell to Jonas; he could run errands for his sisters. He would use his body and his mind to show his gratitude, to prove his worth. Quincy went swimming through the element of his desire. The hum of the Elevated trains, the croon of the cars past the street, the rattle of a wagon merged into a varied harmony, all pliant to his gentle mood. The little fellow clasped the arm of his chair as if to hold on to this fleet state of happiness and so sustain it....

Marsden’s voice cut into him, like a knife.

“Quincy,” it said, “turn on the lights.”

The lad jumped up and complied. The cold glare of the electric beat out the gentle color of the dusk. But already, his brother’s tone had dispersed the dream which that dusk had nurtured. Quincy went back to his chair. But he was very wide-awake, now; and his thoughts were pragmatic. How he did spin nonsense to himself! A double resentment was on foot: against reality purely as such, and also as the disturber of his fancies. He looked at Marsden in the cruel light and found that he despised him. Rhoda was smugly smiling over a magazine she had now resumed. He hated her, for that. She had not felt the sting in Marsden’s order, or, if she had, it was with a feeling of approval. It required no more than this to turn the edge of Quincy’s mood. Jonas began to talk. He was boasting of a college celebration; of his friends. He alluded slyly to a girl. Rhoda, in her new magnanimous contentment, nodded her sym{106}pathy for his crass pranks. To Quincy it was as if all of his brother’s triumphs had been related to draw attention to his own social poverty. So he resented Jonas. And since even Marsden’s fastidious attention had been drawn, he blanketed in his bitter sense of exclusion all of those whom but a minute before he had been glowing to embrace. Adelaide, meantime, had actually fallen asleep. Her head was thrown back on the upholstered couch. Her lips were parted. Quincy observed how small and white her teeth were. He found her stupid.

There was a step in the hall. Josiah brushed into the room. He wore a wide-brimmed, black, slouch hat—such a hat as the owner of a Western mine, born in Long Island, is likely to deem appropriate.

“Good evening, my dears,” he said. And then, he met the sharp gaze of Rhoda.

“Can’t you remember the hat-rack, downstairs?” she reprimanded him.

Josiah swept the hat from his head, with a big, red hand. His hair was streaked with grey. But still, his face had retained freshness and vitality despite its bulk and the ponderous chin that sagged over the low collar. Josiah was fifty-eight. He winced slightly at his daughter’s just remark. And then, he espied Quincy, still ensconced in his big chair. In the boy, was an outlet for his irritation caused by the episode of the hat. To display it toward Rhoda was unthought of.

“Here,” he pointed with his hand toward Quincy, “bring my hat downstairs.” And then, having thrown out his remark, as to a lackey, he turned toward Marsden. “Well, my boy—and what sort of a day did you have?{107}

A general conversation sprang up. Quincy stepped up to the table where his father had flung his slouch and went on his errand. He did not mind the errand. But his father’s tone fitted too painfully well within his growing mood.

It was out of a sense of pride that he returned to the room, the hat deposited. Every instinct in his body drove him to go upstairs to his own floor,—every instinct save this new one that led him back into the overbearing presence.

As he resumed his seat, Josiah asked:

“Where’s your Ma?”

Marsden thought he knew: “She’s shopping with the machine.”

“She is not!” replied Josiah, emphatic through his own importance, rather than by virtue of the subject. “I had the car. Farrel said she’d dismissed him at four o’clock until the time to call for me.”

“Well, then I don’t know.” Marsden raised his brow to show that also he did not care.

Josiah stood pondering. “That’s funny,” he said. And once more, he espied Quincy, unobtrusively lost in his great chair.

The thought of not knowing his wife’s whereabouts distressed him; again, out of his need of knowing everything, rather than by virtue of any warm solicitude. He felt strongly ill-at-ease, there in his own room, before his children, who paid no attention to him. He had already been reprimanded by his daughter. And now, it seemed that he was generally misinformed. Sarah’s absence was of no significance. It was not late. But the smug posture of his children, seated, while he stood—first scolded, then found ignorant—heightened his sense of umbrage. It had{108} been a close, busy day. And his head had ached. Moreover, there was Quincy, snug in his chair—on his face a look of supreme unconcern.

“Quincy,” he called out in a voice unnecessarily loud, “suppose you go down and asked Farrel where your Ma is. I think he’s waitin’.”

Quincy jumped up again. Fatally, he caught the spirit behind his father’s words and his father’s tone. Unmistakably, he knew that he was being used, that moment, as a release for his father’s mood, for his father’s aches and for his father’s uncomfortable, silly sense of humiliation. All this hurt—this seeing clear. But none the less, he moved stiffly to the door in order to comply. His legs moved laggardly. Something within him repelled this motion of obedience. It was not fair to be exploited as a release for an old man’s aches and tempers and sense of limitation! And in addition, he felt the cold eyes of the company upon him, indifferently watching him on his way, ignorant of his misery, careless of its cause. But now, he was at the door. He opened it. And then, the impulse that said “Nay!” moved something in him, something perverse, ineffectual, foolish, so that he spoke. He knew the folly of this compromise between his sense of duty and of justice. But it was too late. The words came:—

“Suppose the chauffeur doesn’t know?”

For the moment, there was a pause. Marsden, Jonas and Rhoda turned in gleeful expectation toward their glowering father. They knew the outburst such inanity must occasion. And Adelaide, who alone felt fear and pain in this lull of fever, broke into a nervous giggle which Quincy totally misunderstood.

Josiah’s face was scarlet. He had need of just this{109} outburst for a bath of temper wherein to wash away the day’s accumulated irritations.

“Suppose the chauffeur doesn’t know, eh?” he half-sneered, half-shouted. “Then—find out!”

The door shut behind the boy....

The shower of temper had had the wished-for result. At once, Josiah was in an excellent mood. He dropped into the chair that had held Quincy, spread himself amply and began to talk—convivially, cleverly, cheerfully, as was his way when he desired to overcome an earlier impression. The others joined him, now, with truer participation. And so, half an hour sped.

Then once more, there was a step in the hall.

The door opened, and Sarah entered. She wore furs, despite the season. A bewildering creation of flowers and feathers, rimmed in black velvet, sat square upon her head. As she stepped in, Josiah jumped with unwonted speed from his comfortable place. This, in itself, was enough to cause Sarah to stand still and look.

“Adelaide,” said Josiah, without greeting his wife, “go upstairs and see if Quincy’s in his room.”

He spoke nervously, quickly, sweetly withal. Rhoda and Jonas rose, seeking his eyes, impelled also by a sudden thought. Even Marsden smiled uncomfortably.

Adelaide flew out, on her mission. And Sarah, flinging her furs aside, stepped forward, as if to ease some necessary action. The ominous, knowing concert of all these eyes brought panic to her ignorance.

“Josiah!” she began. “Where’s Quincy—? What{110}—”

“Shut up!” cut in her husband. “Don’t get excited!”

“What have you—” Sarah’s heart had read the uncommon fear on her husband’s face.

Just then, Adelaide returned.

“Quincy’s not there,” she said in a high voice that came out above her angry breathing. Instinctively, she ranged herself beside her mother.

For a moment, Sarah stood swaying, before her husband. And then, in a burst of passion she rushed upon him.

“Oh! Oh!” she cried. “So at last you’ve done it! So at last, you’ve driven him away! You’ve driven him away!{111}


Quincy found himself on the street. The machine stood before him. Beyond two obstructing tires and a net-work of gleaming steel sat Farrel, the chauffeur. His peaked cap was over his brow. A cigarette lay on his lips, the smoke a perpendicular thread in composition with his square-massed face. A newspaper was below his nose. Quincy stood beyond the barriers and called.


There was no response.


The man turned his head. The look in his eye was grey and filmed and sluggish like the thread of smoke. The mind was gone.

“Where’s mother, Farrel?”

“I don’t know. I left her shopping.”

Farrel rustled his pink paper ostentatiously. Then, folding it, he slapped it into a receptive shape with his bulky hand and plunged to a new page of screaming nullities. He had forgotten Quincy. He was piqued at having to remain there, he knew not how long. He wished to go home to his wife. He had learned that the Burts were very careless about discharging him at the end of a day’s long work. He was not minded to be polite to Quincy. For Quincy was a Burt, so that he resented him; yet an insignificant Burt, so that he could show it.{112}

Quincy turned toward the house.

It was evening. A gentle, blue haze was on the street. The lights came out suddenly, in periodic spurts, as if separate from the mist that lulled about them. There was in the air a languid note, such as may follow a siege of fever. The traffic pounded heavily by, as if in token of its weary passengers. And now, Quincy looked toward the house.

What he saw there drove his hands cup-like to his head. A flash of fire shot through his mind. Then, motively, he connected his sensations. On his head was a cap. The great red door was shut. Something within Quincy had worked deliberately through his body, yet told his consciousness no word. Still it worked; still Quincy bowed to it, unknowing. His hands fell from their momentary, cup-like grasp. They clenched at his side. And then, rhythmically, he struck out in the direction of Central Park.

The electric light over Farrel’s head threw a concentrated glow of yellow on his page. A car on the Avenue crashed past, wheels groaning, bell a-jangle. Then, Quincy crossed. With huddled shoulder he mounted the sloping asphalt whose lights shot shadows of black and floods of blue against its marge of trees. A distant symphony of whistles and of fog-horns rose dimly from the Hudson over his back. Beyond him, the Park traced out its purple monotone, flecked with the cut of lights.

People were walking here. Their foot-fall was like a noise heard in a dream and doubted. Their words were like the impact of water falling on stone. Their forms were comets flashing from nowhere into nowhere through a sombre and thick infinitude. They left a wake of drab. They were innumerable. And{113} the sum of all their wakes made almost an atmosphere. This cloyed and choked and somehow had a sneer in it. So Quincy walked fast. And as he did so, the forms blocked in upon the flow of being with less frequence, less consistency. The Park itself had become the undertone. The curving of the paths gave to his motion a tonality. The bushes lay deep in their beds of grass. Above was a lacing of trees, a shameless cover for the naked night. For so the trees seemed to Quincy. The bright sky that shone through and above them was like the hot skin of some empassioned creature—a thing consumed in sex. And the short trees and ruffled bushes that lay before it were like shreds of lace on a vast nudity. They pricked it, they heightened it; even they adorned it. They did not hide it. And somehow, it was suggested to Quincy that they meant to hide it. Quincy’s lips were parted as he walked. And there was moisture on them. Also, there was a veil of dryness on his eyes. And the sky reclined before him like a woman’s breast—like Rhoda’s. Its slope was infinitely slight, delicate yet vast. He recalled the time when he had seen his sister. So he knew! And knowing, so he enjoyed. But in this overwhelming symbol entered more than that experience of sight. This mighty, pulsing sweep of sky gave him a glow, half-memory and half-eternal. For what are instincts but unconscious recollections? So, perhaps, it was natural that of a sudden, his mother came to him, stayed there, pervaded him; and in the spreading grew so vague that his mind caught no glimpse of her.

Quincy walked, then, beneath this naked breast with its empurpled shreds of green. And his mind slept—slept perhaps in the same cadence wherein he had slept{114} once, tight in a woman’s arms. And meantime, his feet beat on their way, even as had then his heart. And his lips were moist, taking in life.

Quincy was tired, so he sat on a bench. His fingers dug in the damp paint. He brought them before his eyes. They were stained slightly green. This was a jarring note. It disturbed him. It caused a separate vibrating. A tendril of his mind quivered, as if in warning that he was to begin to think. The motion projected by this faint jarring upon himself had to be absorbed. It had to be absorbed either in mind or body. If in the former, he would think; if in the latter, he would walk. He walked.

He was always in the Park. His veerings minimized the distance he had come. As he proceeded now, a tinge of questioning traversed him. He had been too close within himself to poise even an outline of his experience. Now he seemed somehow to fall apart from himself. This did not gain him vision; it did inspire a question. What was he about? Quincy’s eyes were no longer dry, and his mouth moist. The ecstasy of the night went before a shrinking sense of its strangeness. And now, his eyes were moist and his lips parched. He breathed heavily. He was, after all, only a boy, young for his years in those external sophistries men call experience. And so, fear filtered in with the chill. He walked fast. He was man enough to strive not to escape his situation but to escape the fright it brought him. He was animal enough not to entertain a mental quandary,—to go on, as his will drove him. He was child enough to blink up at the transformed heavens and find fault with them. This fear was a thing, after all, scarce distinguishable from the chill he felt through having failed{115} to bring an overcoat. He knew this. And so, in speeding on, he found dual relief.

He went up a steep path. And then, on the brow of a promontory he came to a halt. He was in that section of the Park known as the Rambles—a maze of diverse traceries on uneven ground, upon one spur of which stands a Belvedere, curiously heroic viewed in the spirit of its purpose and environs.

Quincy faced south. A tuft of cool wind filled his eyes. This was a balm. Below him fell a rock-buttressed gulch, filled with the night. From a rustic bridge that spanned it, softly separate from the air, he could see a black opening in purple haze—a cavern. Water dripped luridly on the rock. The coarse, trim shrubs behind him seemed the flourish of a filigree mocking the romantic mood before him. From the south came a cold glow, the upshot of myriad downtown lights swelling like an aureole above the sunken Park. And beneath this, against the mass of trees, gleamed the City’s fires, fitful and fantastic, some set in rigid form, some straggled, some leading deep, some flaming forth.

The boy found a bench. Now he faced west. Manhattan’s murmur came on him. A shiver seemed to rise from the far-spun houses. Here was more regularity—a frigid diapason of lights, serried, unfriendly, looming. And spaced upon it, deep cuts of black, the gloomy westward streets—one of which was his! Quincy cupped his chin in his hands and gazed. A tiny thread of train swept between two darknesses on far Columbus Avenue.

And then the hollow tread of feet below him on the walk. Quincy straightened up. There was a musical note in their pad. They were leisurely. There{116} was a long mounting of suspense. At last, over the brow, was a man.

He was tall and thin. A derby hat that seemed too small for him disclosed a height of forehead. He walked on, his head turned westward. He had but glimpsed the figure on the bench. And as he spoke now, he did not face the boy.

“A splendid night!” The man’s remark, for some reason, had a ring far deeper than the banal usage of his words.

“New York’s at her best, when she’s bathed in a blue gloom. Ever notice that?—Blue’s her color.”

He stopped, still gazing, his back full on Quincy.

The night seemed, for a moment, hushed. It was as if, before this subtle audience, it wished to show its best. The mists gyred before the battlements of light. And the Park breathed deeply. Quincy wished to get up and leave. Somehow, he failed. And an impression of his discomfort must have struck his anonymous companion. The man turned. Then, he stepped forward.

“Why,” he exclaimed, “you’re only a lad!” He came closer. “Tall, though, for your age.”

Quincy clasped the bench with his two hands. The man stood before him, calmly observant.

“What’s wrong?” he said. His voice was cool but interested. It had in it the poise of a physician who is concerned yet unharassed. Quincy could not speak.

“Have you run away?” the man went on. And then, he began to laugh—quietly, to himself, as if in retrospect upon some joke. “Good for you,” he continued. “Good for you.... Tell me, can’t stand your father?{117}

“That’s not so!” Quincy choked out, indignant yet ignoring exactly why.

“Oh, I see! Father can’t stand you.”

The boy had craned forward. This stroke thrust him back, almost huddled on his bench. And the man thought he had guessed true.

“I ran away once,” he began, musingly aloof.

There was a pause while he thought. And then, as if for the first time, he seemed to espy the boy. He stepped still farther forward and grasped his shoulder with a wiry hand. Of a sudden, he was serious and intense. And he uttered his words as a man speaks an order in a quick emergency.

“Good for you,” he said. “Good for you, to have come away! And now—no weakening! No getting sentimental! Ah—I see it. Don’t start thinking about mother—about how mother’ll carry on. Every man for himself. Mothers keep you for themselves. Give you a penny-worth of love for the privilege of sucking your soul. Keep you, but don’t sustain you. Keep you, but don’t protect you. I know. Tears—that’s their weapon. A coward’s—as you’d know in any one save a mother. You must be sixteen. Am I right?”

“Fifteen—” Quincy was awed into response.

“Good! Now, heart of steel; thin lips curled slightly downward—that’s armor to hold you tight. I went back. I thought that was more heroic, harder, nobler. Well, perhaps it was. Also, it was damn-foolishness!”

He stopped and released Quincy’s shoulder. And again, in a flash, his mood transformed.

“Good-bye, sonny,” he said, once more aloof and without trace of the intensity which had cut sharp{118} his former words. “I guess I’ll go below. The stars may be visible through the mist from the cave’s mouth.” He turned into the path.

“Blue’s certainly her color—Don’t think of family!” he mused aloud, as he went down.


Quincy sat, dazed for a while. And then, quite as if the power to do so had not before been utterly away, he glided rapid and easy into thinking. Consciousness of where he was—that whose myriad colors had obsessed him—now went entirely. He had been whirled in a maelstrom of sensation. Now, he flew along a track of thought. So at least, however wrong, it appeared to Quincy.

For a while longer he sat. And then, he got up and walked.

He had turned in the direction of his house. Already, he was gone a considerable distance ere he learned this. He stopped. He did not change his route. He merely stood stock still, while his future should be born within him. This also, was how it appeared to Quincy.

He was near a lamp-post. The path he had descended fell abruptly upon a wider walk that sloped down from it at a right angle, A rustic railing ran along it. Great clusters of rhododendron filled the sides. Opposite, on the wider walk, was a sheer rock, ensconced in shrubbery, crowned with a tree. Beside this, was the lamp. And here stood Quincy. A policeman, rounding his beat from above, caught sight of him. He also stopped.

He saw a boy, already tall, fixed and intent—but upon what, he could not discover. The boy stood as if charmed, his face full toward the lamp. The officer{119} took in his long, dark face over which the tweed cap lay low. He felt the delicate, firm fibre of his body, disclosed through his tight sack suit. The boy’s arms were held straight at his sides. He was faintly swaying in his balance.

Curiosity is a duty if one happen to wear an official uniform. So the officer drew nearer. He saw now that the boy was slightly shivering and that his eyes were intent upon no thing other than the lamp itself! His face was brought out clearly in the sheet of light. The man gleaned the impression of a tender, nervous, high-wrought mood, such as Park-suicides were supposed to have. Clearly, here was a case to be investigated.

Marching up close, he spoke: “A bit chilly, young feller?”

Quincy looked sharply. In his eyes were irritation and alarm. Then, turning his back on the patrolman, he started down the hill.

“Hold on!” cried the Law.

Quincy stopped without turning back. This required of the policeman to catch up to him. Abreast, they faced each other.

“What you doin’ here?” he demanded. The boy’s demeanor had dispersed the sympathy which his good clothes aroused.

“What I’m doing?” Quincy got the question by repeating it. “I’m walking, of course.”

“Is that what you call standin’ in front of a lamp-post fer half an hour, starin’ like a madman?”

Quincy straightened perceptibly. And then, an angry look came into his eyes.

“Look here,” he said, “you leave me alone!”

He marched down the walk. And the policeman{120} mounted back to the height of the hill. For once, Law had been chastened and the individual not crushed, in their perpetual encounter.


What the man in the Rambles had not done, this last completed.

The boy walked now, sturdily, though slowly, toward the Park gate by which he had flung in. An acute observer might have remarked, as he walked on, a curious asymmetry between the force that he seemed to be requiring as he went and the little speed that he attained. A portion of the boy’s energies appeared to load his heels and to impede him. The full swing of his legs was evidently not impressed upon the business of walking. The jerky, heavy gait that he maintained, despite his efforts, proved a divorce of purpose. Quincy’s upper body, his head, his arms were in the rhythm of a steady stride. His legs, somehow, were recalcitrant. And in consequence of this, the boy moved slowly, veered perceptibly in a way that to a tyro might have seemed the signal of intoxication.

Doubtless, the strange sermon of the man in the Rambles had let loose the flow of argument that surged in Quincy. And the rational conclusion to which his thinking brought him was all of a harmony with that strange sermon. Yet, Quincy was going home!

Indeed, in this seeming contradiction, lay the crux of his experience. Quincy was sounding, vividly, the paltriness of logic, the bland imperviousness to it, of truth. His mind swirled in and out of the channels of his resentment, his miseries, his hopes. His mind measured, of course, in flood or ebb, exactly with these channels which it could not escape. And yet, though{121} their course lay outward, he was going home! Before, while he thought his mind submerged and gone, he had yet acted by it. His going forth had been a mental sally though his mind slept. His going-home was an irrepressible emotion, though his mind clamored against it. What a strange paradox for fifteen years to glimpse, though the way of sight was only a pervasive sense of helpless pain, an almost cosmic irritation. Quincy walked on. And his thoughts surged against his walking. And gradually, as he walked, he grappled with his thoughts, grimly determined to deflect them, to turn them back, in stride with his own steps. All of his power went into this battle. His mind must be convinced, won over! He, long since, and ere he had so much as guessed it, had been won over. But even now, Quincy did not know. While he strove to force his intellect into compliance, he believed himself merely in process of thinking out his problem. The struggle to bend his mind to the way of his soul came to him merely as the mechanics of deliberation. Long ago, Quincy was decided. There remained, now, only to propitiate his mind. And this paltry afterlude assumed within him the dimensions of the whole. He would perhaps have called it “making up his mind.” He did not dream that this was an act of kindly reconciliation—the winning over of an un-needed minority in whose dissent lay, at the worst, a source of irritation.

But mind holds the channels of our consciousness—controls the self’s publicity. And from this not inconsiderable power, it has built up a prestige for itself. It delays the announcement of any state until it has been approached; and then, it so gives out the news{122} that its consent seems necessary, not for the mere announcement through its channels, but for the state itself. And so, the mind’s acknowledgment—often a hard-wrung effort to make it face a long accomplished fact—seems a protagonist where it is naught but a chorus, commissioned to explain and to chime in.

The real decision, then, impelling Quincy homeward, was not an affair of words or of deliberation. It had been born in that deep land of him that is never heard save through its far remote ambassadors. It had been born of that will which does not argue, which makes its indomitable revelation and then subsides, while its deed runs subtly through innumerable channels to the outer lands. Here then, takes place the clash of denial and of argument. Within, there is the serenity of fate. But if Quincy’s recognition was to come only within the shadow of his goal, it was none the less acute for the delay. However wrong was his belief that, in this struggle of deliberation which held him now, lay the finality of what he was to do, by means of it he at least came to understand.

As he walked, he thought of life as it would be, if he did not return. At once, he had the picture of it, uncensored by the least knowledge of reality. He saw himself living in a miraculous family, a group of persons who would respect him, leave him alone, and welcome with attentive eagerness his least advance. Of course, out of his graciousness, he did advance, at times. This family knew his worth and felt his tragedy. Under their roof he grew and his powers spread. And his life became one of great service. But of pleasure, there was little. He kept to himself, nursing his delicious sorrow, a beneficent knight{123}-errant, with the bleeding soul of a recluse. But gradually, the edifice of his good deeds rose into view. And at last, it came within the ken of those that had driven him away. Partly through age, his parents’ hair would by now be white; mostly, however, through remorse. All of his old family, in heroic resolution, had shouldered the guilt for his departure. And now, he returned to them, magnanimous, loving, and forgave them. He kissed his father’s wrinkled face down which tears of contrition fell. Rhoda also was there—husbandless, somehow, chastened, eyes soft with the wish to be accepted. And he went up to her, and took first her hands and then, her head, and gave forgiveness. With her came the others—respectful, humbled, yearning toward him. (His mother was not in the picture. But he was unaware of this.) He exacted no punishment; he said no word of sorrowful reminder. He threw open his arms for all and took them in. And there was happiness.

Here was a roseate arrangement; and yet, to Quincy, one certain of accomplishment, if only he would face about. But he walked on. Why?

He saw his family, coldly, clearly, in the event of his return. He read the added sneer of their lips, the arching of brows that meant indulgence for one who was hopelessly foolish and incompetent. He saw the wrath of his father at this new turn on his dignity which he had played him; the knowing whistle of Marsden, discounting childish weakness; the sharp unconcern of Rhoda, not honoring his adventure even with contempt. And he dramatized for himself the sensations of his mother. She would be glad to have him back—oh, yes! But how little she would understand! To her, his going would seem an escapade{124} luckily done with—a spurt of temper, subsiding fortunately. She would think thus:

“Quincy was naughty. But thank God, he thought better of it. Thank God, he was too weak to turn naughtiness into badness. Quincy was too much of a child to do real injury to me. Thank God, for Quincy’s childishness!”

In her regard, as in that of all the others, he would have lost. His return would mean the sacrifice of those few considerations which he had somehow won. It would mark a new depth for his inferiority, forge a new weapon for tyranny and contempt and misconstruction. To stay away meant a path of glory. To return meant skulking back into a cell made dingier and poorer for him in his absence. And in his act, no single one of them would see aught but a lack of will, a dearth of spirit, a sickly fall. And yet, in this direction went his feet!

No tinge of cowardice was there. Quincy knew too little of the world to be afraid of it, to hesitate in choice between his home that he did know, and it. His going-out had been the irresistible plunge of a long propped-up weight, rushing toward the goal of its momentum. In his return—if return he did—there was no falling; rather, a laborious, painful urging back against the sweep of that momentum. The one way, craned his thoughts and his ambition. The way he went, a voice he did not recognize or know of, had sent a syllable.

But now, he came to feel its nature. The words of the man had been wise words indeed. That was perhaps a reason for defeating them. They had singled out the fact of mother, and there dwelt. And though Quincy was inclined to think him right, these very{125} words had inspired within him a protest of antithesis. His mother! Was the man wrong in his uncanny penetration? What had she helped him? How sustained him? how really served to protect him? Her love was real enough. But was it not a sickly, swaying plant—roots spread too wide for clinging, leaves thrust too close within the shadow of others, to have the sun? What did he owe her? Was her love not in its essence selfish, weakly? Did it not subsist on tears and sterile moments? Could he conceive of living on such sustenance, of mounting with such feeble help?

The man had been right. Quincy’s mind agreed. But Quincy in each step proved that both man and mind were wrong. For Quincy was going back to this discredited mother. Mentally, he nullified her and discarded her. Always, she stood there, with outstretched arms, as he rushed toward her. He thought he knew the formula of her tears, yet they ate deep in him. He thought he knew the grammar of her words; yet they commanded him. Quincy was learning.

And now, the Park was behind him. The adventure stood at its climax. And if there be gods who cease at times their celestial indifference, when the gleam of a real heroism smarts in their dull eyes from earth, they were now watching Quincy. Learn the book of life and the nature of the heroic becomes plain. It is the deliberate negation of what is sense and rote, of that which the interminable average makes life; it is the disavowal of all laws, the compliance with what is but a shadow, a shred, and a suggestion. It is the leaning on an instant and the despising of all time. It is the paradoxical resolve to prove a spot of star greater and wider and more important than{126} the mass of earth. It is the truth. And it is even more, for it is the acting on it.

Quincy knew to what he was returning. He knew that no soul within the house would feel the power of his temptation to stay away, though it meant starving. He knew that she for whom he walked back into the shambles would translate his deed to fit in her own petty scope and wishes and perturbations. He knew the utter vainness of his act for his own self; the bitter fruit that it must bear; the insufferable slur that it would cast upon his fine rush for freedom.

For a moment, he paused, lost in a cloud almost of extinction. And then, something put force upon his finger. And his finger pressed the bell....{127}


It may have been his mother, the net of impulse which she spun, that swept Quincy home. But in his act, spontaneously sprang to knowledge a new state—the sense of challenge. Indeed, the smouldering, grim awareness deep within him that he had a right to home, a right there to remain and make demands, had lain upon his mind since the beginning. It had been co-ordinate there with the sentiments that drove him back. It had, at that outset, been a sentiment itself, rather than a conviction shot through with thought. It had been leaven to his strong emotions and had made active the unarguing voice which ordered his return. But in that period of germination and later, carrying-out, this sense of challenge was at best subliminal. He could not have quoted a program by it; he could not have numbered his rights or his capacities for claiming them. This was a later birth—the coming into consciousness of this. But as his finger pressed the bell, and the moment stood before him in all its painful nudity, a great shock went through Quincy. And with it, Quincy’s sense of challenge grew articulate. All of his powers needed at such a moment to be summoned. All of his weapons he needed in his hands. And what was more, he needed not merely to find them there, but a conscious grasping them and a sharp perfection. Else, he had foundered. And so, in this general calling forth to{128} arms, to service, of whatever lay within him, this sense emerged. He felt a state of right; he knew an order of demands. The door opening for him, there was Challenge in place of Sacrifice, as he stepped inside.


The door was opened by his father. He was in his vest. By this sure sign, Quincy learned that he had been anxious. For Josiah always gave way to worry by taking off his coat. But Quincy did not guess the nature of his concern. It would not have flattered him. He saw his father’s face, cold, solemn, bitterly relieved, who stood there, slightly to one side, waiting for words. Quincy met his arrogant gaze an instant. He felt that he had given answer, in his own expression. Spontaneously, he stepped past and went up the stairs.

The door to the sitting room was open. He felt behind him the astounded figure of his father still near the door, too outraged to act. Within the sitting room, ere he was on a level to look in, he felt the congregated presence of the others. Their mood seemed one with the cold gleam they sat in, and which reached him from above as he marched up the stairs. He turned down the hall. It was darkened. It gave accent to the light of the room where now he saw the others. There was a piercing note to his walking through that narrow, darkened passage, braving the glare where they were, in order to pass them and mount higher. His mother stood in the threshold. She called forth his name. And then, rushing into the hall, she caught him up.

He gave way to her warm, silent arms. He allowed himself gladly to be pressed and kissed and{129} strained against her. For a moment, challenge went down.

And then, holding him at arm’s length, she looked at him with questioning eyes. Within, the others sat, mutely, coldly, interested.

“Why did you run away, Quincy?” his mother asked.

The boy was hurled back upon himself.

He felt the curious attention of those others within the room. Their almost perceptible craning forward to catch his answer ate like acid into his heart. Below, he heard his father’s steps approaching;—approaching, it seemed to Quincy, in order to complete the audience. And he the spectacle—he the victim, while his mother served to show him through his paces! Why was she so cruelly stupid? Why must she have asked that searing question? Why could she not have understood how he yearned really to answer it for her, how her asking it now—under such conditions, before these!—made that answer vain, and his desire a mockery? Her embraces given without calculation, had been better. Then, for the moment, she had been on his side—been as he wanted her. But now, she had fallen over. She might not have meant it. But did her ignorance allay his pain—bring back to life the sweet impulse she had killed? She was serving them, siding with them; and through her hold and his expectancy of better, proving the worst of them all!

He hated her for it. He hated her for her stupidity; and for the love he bore her. He hated her for the hope she had, one moment gone, inspired in him....

He shoved her aside and rushed upstairs—all of{130} the scene, she, they of the sitting room, his father, like a wide burn upon his brain.

As he reached his room, he heard her sob. And for her suffering, as he flung himself upon his bed, he hated her the more.{131}





The fall of his eighteenth birthday, Quincy went to college. He had completed his examinations in June; and he had passed them with a single deficiency. Although his college was out-of-town, these hours of trial had been set in the city—in a vast, cold gymnasium filled with little stubby tables and larded with apparatus that in their similarity to instruments of torture seemed appropriate enough. Here he sat, weighed down with the stupid sense of the authority about him. He had gazed at the printed slips with their silly, circumscribed demands upon his knowledge and been impressed with the irrelevance of higher education. In one instance, he had been impressed too well. He had failed. And for the purpose of passing off this failure, he had now to start from home two days before the beginning of the term.

He took his leave in the sitting room. The family had just returned from the country. The room was still muffled in camphor draperies and grey-blue covers. There were no curtains. And the cleaning to which the sedulous Sarah had subjected it had robbed the room of the one glow of ease and warmth it might have kept—the dusty deposits of the summer. The room, then, was cold and harsh. The table shone out with its bare mahogany red. All else was under the protective cloths.

Quincy came down, suit-case in hand. Upstairs,{134} he had applied the last minute attentions, putting off the ultimate plunge with a zealous mania for details, much as a diver sticks his toe into the water. Thrice he had locked his suit-case and reopened it—to brush his hair again, to take out a letter of announcement for the Dean, to see if aught was missing. Long he looked at himself in the mirror, adjusting his fresh collar and his tie. Then he unfastened his silver watch from its leather chain and placed it before him on the bureau for constant consultation. Changing his mind, fearful lest he forget it, he replaced it in his pocket. This also, made him nervous. He wished to track the lapse of time. So once again, the watch was out before him. He wondered if his watch was right. It was really too early to leave for the train. But perhaps it was five minutes later than he thought. In a trice, he had convinced himself of this imagining,—was ready to act upon it. He flung on his coat, strapped his suit-case and made for the stairs. He descended, clumsily, conscious of his feet.

He placed his suit-case in the hall and entered the room, where his mother and Adelaide were seated.

“Well, is it time to go?” his mother spoke. “Or can you sit down a few minutes?”

“I’m afraid not, Mama.” The boy shifted nervously from foot to foot.

With this Adelaide got up.

“Have you room for this in your valise?” she asked, handing him a tidily wrapped box.

Quincy reached out his hand. “What is it?”

“Oh, I thought—perhaps—” she faltered, “now you are to be a college man—you might want to smoke.” There was a pause. “It is a tin of cigarettes.{135}

“Child! Why put the idea into his head?” cried Sarah.

“I had the idea before,” Quincy retorted. And then, he thanked his sister who stood expectant, not yet knowing whether she had done a thing extremely felicitous or awkward.

“Even if I don’t smoke there’ll be plenty of the boys who will,” was his colorless observation. He slipped the box into his pocket.

“Good-bye, Quincy, and good luck.” Adelaide kissed him. “And don’t get homesick.”

“Homesick? No chance!”

Sarah took his head in her hands. “Won’t you get a little homesick for me, dear—just once in a while?”

At this, Quincy smiled. He preferred it. Yet of the two, his sister’s had been the selfless remark.

He kissed them both—unostentatiously, though both longed to linger with his dark, serious head beside their own. Both of these women loved him. Yet, at the time, they were no more than momentary details on his path—obstructions of no import on his vision. So he drew his head away from their hands and lips as quickly as he could. And then, stung triflingly by conscience at the fact that he had done just this, he stepped back, half-way across the room, kissed them again, saw the gleam of tears in their eyes, and sturdily marched out.

“Don’t come downstairs!”

But they stepped after him. Adelaide helped him on with his new coat. His mother gave a loving brush to his new hat. And then, Adelaide spoke.

“Oh, Quincy! You’ve fifty minutes yet.” She had espied the parlor clock.

The boy held back, ashamed at his puerile impa{136}tience. The girl clapped her hands with a sudden thought that evidently gave her pleasure.

“I’ll take you to the station, Quincy.”

“No. That’s ridiculous.” He did not want her.

“And why not?” said Sarah. “It’s an excellent idea.”

“Do let me! I’ll just be a minute. I’ll throw on a coat and hat—”

Quincy stood, unable to reject her; lacking the wits for it, yet loathing this adventitious family concern, clinging upon him on his way to college. Adelaide dashed upstairs.

“That’s a very good idea,” pondered Sarah. “You’ve lots of time.”

Quincy paced nervously up and down; he was distressed. He did not like what seemed the significance of this—he did not like the afterthought.

And then an idea came to Sarah that gave her pleasure also.

“Why,” she said, “you might have the machine! I’m sure your father hasn’t got it.”

“No! No! No!” cried Quincy, heaping on this proposal much of the vehement denial brought over from the first.

“Why, you silly boy?”

“I don’t want it. I’ll take the car.”

“Nonsense!” Sarah looked uncomprehending, doubting his protest. Then, she moved toward the telephone.

“Mother,” said Quincy from his position near the door, “I don’t want your automobile. Do you hear? If you call for it, I’ll not take it. I’ll not take it, even if it should come this very minute.”

Sarah paused.{137}

“You’re a very ungracious boy,” she said slowly.

His face turned pale, with a white fire.

“Oh, am I?—Very well, then—.” He grasped his suit-case. Thrusting his hat low over his eyes, he dashed away.

Adelaide returned to the head of the stairs. A cozy rough wool coat was close against her body; a brown cloth hat clustered with strawberries was atilt over her wavy hair. She saw her mother standing alone near the open door.

“Has he gone?” she said.

Sarah sighed. “The usual Quincy—”

And as she went on, Adelaide descended. “I offered him the car and he flew into a passion—into a passion, and out of the house. Oh! Oh!”

Now Adelaide was beside her.

“One would think, the way he acts, we didn’t love him.”

“We don’t love him right, Mama,” the girl spoke calmly and threw off her coat.

Sarah turned on her with anger: “How dare you say that? What’s wrong with you now? What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s true. And he feels it.”

All of Sarah’s suppressed emotion turned on her daughter.

“Didn’t I offer him the machine, out of consideration?” she cried with a rasp in her voice.

“Yes—at the last minute. For a guest, you’d have thought of it two hours ago.”

“Well, what about your suggestion. When did you think of offering to go with him?”

“At the last minute, also, Mama.”

“And does that prove you don’t love him?{138}

“I didn’t say that.”

“Does that prove you don’t love him enough?”

“I didn’t say that either.”

Sarah threw out her arms in a gesture of bewilderment.

“I said we didn’t love him right,” Adelaide continued.

Sarah gazed in silence at her daughter. She was awed by the conciseness of the answer, however little she understood it. Then, fronting her, she put her question.


The girl shook her head.

“It’s not our fault. It’s in the house. It’s the spirit here. I can’t explain. But you should understand. We can’t help it. But he feels it. Yes,—he feels it.”

She stopped and the two women were still. Both of them were looking far, vaguely, beyond the open door.

“He’s gone, now,” said Sarah.{139}


The morning of Quincy’s departure, it had rained. Then, it had cleared. To the plashy gloom of an autumn storm succeeded a sudden cheer of Indian Summer. When, in his “usual” manner, the boy dashed from the house, the sky was a shrill blue shredded with fragile clouds. And below foot, were still the puddles and grey odors of the rain.

Filled with a painful, pleasurable sense of having been unjust, Quincy boarded a car at the corner. Then he alighted. There was so much time, he had decided to walk from the place of transfer—a trifling journey.

In the car his thoughts had been at once intensely personal and inchoate. He was thinking back. He resolved to write his mother an affectionate letter of apology. Yes: he would write to Adelaide as well. He had not wanted to bother them. Many a time, they had made him feel—oh, perhaps not these two, but they—how little it was wise to bother them. He was going to a new life. He wished to start on it, alone. There was no reason in not cutting clean, when cut one had to. His last thought gave him pause. He was going to a new life. A new life. Life....

The car clanked and screeched, the braked wheels slid—to a halt; the conductor bawled out the place of transfer.

Quincy was suddenly aware only of the pungent{140} dampness in the car. He pushed his way to the platform, clumsily. But what hindered him was solely the fact of his suit-case. He stepped down—into a wide, flat puddle. And he was piqued, only because his shoes were freshly shined. He righted himself, waiting for a safe chance to cross. With his thoughts had come the need of moving. And this had stopped his thoughts. He stood midway in the sopping thoroughfare with the sun’s glad drench above his head. The new life began.


He heard the voices. The starting, clanking, abruptly halted cars that swung with groan of wood and iron. The darting flash of wagons, brittle and uproarious of wheel over the asphalt’s crevices or the weave of tracks. The heavier trucks, plunging along with perched, gesticulating drivers, that gave forth their rumble like a flood of undertone shot through with lighter notes. The dull-rhythmed matrix—the crowd’s shuffle—wherein the metallic urge of cars, the tangent flurries of light wheels, the impress of thick masses glowed and hummed and pounded while the air swung response. And through it all, catching it up, knitting it together, the web—the web whereof now Quincy grew aware. For it was none of these: not the traffic’s voice, not the crowd’s shuffle. It was the crowd itself.

Everywhere—interminably movemented, yet inexorably fixed. The base, the weave, the limits of this cacophony. The web, gapped solitarily by the air—and air that stifled, died within the web’s cloying interstices.

The crowd closed on Quincy’s heart. And Quincy felt the crowd. He grasped his burden tightly, and{141} pushed ahead. But meantime, and for the first time, he was a-feel with this new substance. What it gave him went to all the senses. It was a sharp, quick taste that drew and a pungent odor that clouded eyes. It was subtle and it was slight. Yet, once impinged upon his being, it remained. And now, he recognized it:—

A desire not to go on—a yearning to cease altogether. A weariness, which in its scope was cosmic, yet in its application seemed almost not to be!

Still, the boy’s energies pricked him on. There was no tremor of hesitation in his walk or in his face. But it was as if the spirit that had forged these energies by which he was now acting, had flickered out. As the light of a star, after the star has died, pierces through space uncaring, so it seemed that Quincy pursued his goal, with his source gone. All this about him seemed to have sapped his soul. It was all so huge and crass and crushing. It cared so little for him. He was a particle within it, too light to sink, too heavy to ascend.

The crowd. And the boy on his way to college.

He had not reckoned on this thing. He had lived within it all of his life. Yet, until this moment, it had been as remote as non-existence. Now, ere he knew how, it was at work upon him. And already, he was weary!

Quincy knew enough—just enough—to be horrified at this; to feel the fitness of a venturing spirit, eager, elastic, for a beginning; and to grow sick at the lack. He did not know enough even to blame the crowd. Nor did he know that the glad face and joyous limbs of the pioneer are figments of fable-weaving; that the mood of the morning is ever a grim facing forward against the soul’s pull backward; and that{142} he shared this weariness that so distressed him with most men who, aching of sinew and sick of heart, go out and win.

An impulse murmured to go back. He crushed it. Back, there was all he yearned to overcome. The impulse which made it preferable to the unknown filled him with shame. He had not been this shirker, two years past. He trudged on. Before him, was much unknown, but one thing certain—Struggle. As he envisaged this, a part of Quincy blanched. It was not because he feared; because he lacked daring for pain or for discomfort. Both of these lay behind him. He thought, and rightly, to have sounded them. What was unbearable in the future was the struggle, the exertion. Whatever the fruit of it, with struggle the price seemed vain. Whatever the bitter emptiness he left behind, since he could lie still and without deeds, seemed welcome. While the world shrieked about him, horrible in its clangor of steel and its dull delirium of feet, Quincy was filled with the desire to share nothing with it, to cut loose, aloof, to cast out whatever element he might conceal in common.

He was weary because this crowd seemed tireless; he craved peace because it breathed out conflict; he longed for abnegation, though it was failure, since the crowd was as it was, with its attainment. Subreptively, unformed, the desire stirred within him, if this hideous pervasion was life, for non-existence.

And then, he thrust that from him, also. For though the source seemed cold, the light was flashing forth. Clearly, he knew that he did not court the future; that he would fain have gone from his past into a region without measure. But none the less, he had reached the station. While his soul yearned for{143} a state without time, his eyes had seen the clock and his brain grasped that it was later than he had surmised. While his soul longed for an endless truce to goal and striving, he had doubled his pace so as not to miss his train. And with his heart set against any sequel whatsoever, he had bought a ticket for the immediate future!

The crowds swirled in eddies and great streams to the narrow gates that sucked them in. The vibrance of movement and adventure hummed in the air. The incense of man’s activity reached his nostrils. He, also, was caught up. His feet carried him down the throbbing passage. The long, silent train lay out like a mystery, beyond his sight. There was a Song in this commotion; a Promise in these steps....

Quincy caught hold of the platform bar. And a lithe, eager body swung aboard the train.{144}


Quincy found one of the last seats. A string of cars at the rear had not been opened. By this means, the astute Company packed its patrons economically and, as the traffic overflowed, opened another car. The boy made himself at ease by the window. He hoped fervently that no one would come beside him. But especially, he hoped that no one of the other fellows whom he saw grouped and chatting in the corridor, on the platform, would be his neighbor, if neighbor he must have. Quincy feared that with one of these there would be danger of a conversation. And he feared that. He feared it, because he felt that he should have things in common with his prospective mates. And he had none—that he could think of.

Greatly to his relief, then, just as the filled train glided into motion, a huge man with a great black slouch hat, sat down beside him.

Quincy gazed steadily out of the window. He half observed his neighbor open a leather case, draw from it a batch of pamphlets and proceed, quietly, unflaggingly, to go through them. They were well on their way before the boy’s interest made him turn for a look at the nature of these pamphlets. The big man had placed all of them back in his case, save the one he was reading. This one he held close, vertically, before his face so that Quincy could not possibly have seen its subject. He did remark, however, that this man must be very near-sighted. Then he looked at{145} him more keenly. Could it be that he was a professor? His bad eyes and his portfolio seemed proof. But his huge, strong body and his western hat belied it. The man had a strong, yet gentle face. All of his features were large, yet all of them were soft in an harmonious expression. As he read, he bit nervously at his lips. His massive, fleshy hands clutched periodically at the fragile paper, rumpling it. His nostrils distended as he took breath.

And then, of a sudden, as Quincy looked, the man turned from his reading and their gaze met. The boy was embarrassed. He wished to look away. But the big brown smile in the man’s eyes held his.

“This your first year?”

“Yes, sir.” He wished to ask whether “freshman” was really writ so large upon him. But instead, he smiled rather sheepishly.

“This paper,” the man went on, talking with a free confidence, “is so stupid, that if I go on reading it, I shall be ill-humored by the time I reach home.” He placed it, face-downward, on his lap.

“M-may I see what it is?” Quincy stammered.

The man broke into a hearty laughter that sounded liquid above the rush of the train.

“Oh! Oh!” he said, “after what I’ve said of it, it would scarcely be discreet—would it, now? You see, it’s by a colleague.” He seemed to leave the verdict to Quincy.

“Excuse me. I—I didn’t know.”

“You agree, then?” asked the man.

“I certainly do,” replied Quincy with conviction.

“Good!” And this paper also, was thrust back with the others. There was a pause. Then, he continued: “I’ll tell you, however, generally, what it{146} was that I found stupid. It was one of those ‘common-sense’ ideas. They’re usually stupid. This is a paper on education. It talks chiefly of teaching rules.”

“Yes?” asked the boy, awaiting more.

“Well—isn’t that enough? Can you imagine anything more stupid and less educational than teaching rules?”

Quincy beamed with amazement. “You really think that?”

“Have rules ever done you any good,” went on the professor; “any rules except such as you dug out for yourself? What’s a good rule on a false basis? And what’s the use of any rule at all, if the right thing’s underneath? Do you have to teach a rule to a tree to make it grow—or to a ball to make it fall? If we build up from a right basis, the rest—the right rule—must follow by mathematical law. Isn’t that reasonable? And if, with a true foundation, the rules an individual derives clash with the rules accepted,—why the accepted rules are simply wrong. I think, to tell you the truth, that we all teach rules the way the good-hearted practice charity—to overcome with an act what has grown wrong from the bottom up.”

“I’m glad to hear you talk that way,” replied the boy. “It seems strange.”

The man laughed.

“Do you—” Quincy hesitated,—“Are you a—teacher?”

“My name is Deering.”

“Not Professor Lawrence Deering!” Quincy demanded. The other nodded.

So this was the famous Professor Deering. “Oh! And you teach that way yourself?{147}

“I try to. But it’s hard in an institution that doesn’t agree with you. Hard also, with products so nearly finished as—say—you are. I should have gone in for kindergartening.”

What an open candor this was, thought Quincy, from a great man to an unknown boy! From this moment of realization, he would have gone far and suffered much for Professor Deering. Then it occurred to him that since he knew the professor’s name, he must announce his own.

“My name is Burt—Quincy Burt,” he said.

The great man’s hand went out warmly. “I am glad to know you, Mr. Burt. I hope you will like your college years.”

“Oh—I’m sure now, I will!”

“You have lots of friends, I suppose, entering with you?”

“None at all,” the boy answered quickly, “I come from a private school in New York. There were only ten boys in my class. None of them is coming up here.”

“Then, if I may ask,” the man spoke deferentially, “why are you so confident that you will enjoy your college course?”

Quincy looked up with feeling, at his questioner.

“I seem somehow,” he said, “to have been welcomed.”

There was a note in the boy’s voice that silenced the big man. Quincy, in that moment, felt that Professor Deering must be very sensitive. He also would have been silenced by such a leak of sentiment.

“You make me glad I spoke to you,” he said at last. “Our college is not too well adapted for boys{148} who enter without a crowd. That very fact is a good thing, if the boys really have the stuff.”

Quincy’s amazement here was that a scholar famed throughout America should employ slang.

“What do you mean, exactly, by stuff?” he asked.

Professor Deering examined him closely. “Well, you see,” he said, “there’s an empire of false standards in such a college as ours,—in all American institutions, to speak frankly. The flaw lies in the creed, which is fostered by the faculty, that college is a place to do things, a standard-in-itself, a place-in-itself. For this arbitrary creed, arbitrary goals and targets are set up—secret societies, athletic insignia, a host of extra-curriculum activities. These are looked on, not as play, but as ends. They become the business of the bulk of our students. By senior year, the students themselves laugh at them—at the professors for fostering them—with real life before them. But at the beginning, it is hard to hold one’s balance, to remember that college as a thing-in-itself is trumpery; that it can be exalted only if it be made subservient to personal, spiritual growth.”

“Results, then—you mean—are bad?”

“They’re as bad as rules,” laughed Professor Deering.

This excited Quincy. “How then can you give marks in your classes?”

The Professor looked at him, not with anger as Quincy had feared, after putting this question, but with pleasure. He smiled.

“You haven’t got me there! I must give marks, since our College thinks it must give degrees. But I give the marks only nominally. In my classes, each June, the students hand in to me their own {149}marks—given to themselves in honor and by their personal lights. In that way, I outdo the authorities above me.”

“Does anyone ever flunk himself?”

“It has happened frequently. My practice, moreover, has proved to me how little conceit there really is in youth.” Quincy’s eyes glowed at this. “I have a reputation for very low marking. Of course, it is the men who are responsible. But I never over-ride their judgment, in either extreme.”

“Even if you disagree?”

“Would that be reasonable?” flashed back Professor Deering.

Just then, a man came up and placed his hand on the Professor’s shoulder.

“I’ve been all through the train, looking for you, Deering,” he said. “Didn’t you know we had an extra seat for you in the Pullman? Will you come?”

The Professor smiled as a man does who is found out, once again, in an old foible. Then, he turned politely to his neighbor.

“If you’ll excuse me, Mr. Burt?”

Quincy wished to speak graciously. “Thank you,” he said, with what seemed irrelevance.

The big man nodded seriously—embarrassed at such embarrassment.

He gathered up his coat and his portfolio and trudged away, supporting himself with his massive hands down the corridor of the swinging train.


The time that remained—though the long part of the journey—was brief to Quincy. He now had his seat to himself—and he was doubly glad. For he could have thought of no substitute for Professor Deering who would not have been sacrilege.{150}

What an amazing adventure this had been! Quincy had found strange opinions in books; but to meet them vitally, poignantly in life, to hear them imparted, not to the world, but to him, and to him, not as the humble listener he would willingly have been, but as the equal, the critic, the fellow-thinker! In these things that had actually come to pass should have lain almost ecstasy to Quincy. Yet, he was bewildered at not being more bewildered by them. He could not understand how he was managing, in their light, to contain himself. For it dawned on him that he was taking all these wonders quite calmly, almost as matters-of-course; as if their like had occurred even in fancy, many times before. It seemed they should have dazzled him, flung him into some land where such things belong. And instead, here he was solidly in his seat, while the train rushed on, in full possession of his nature, sturdily, serenely eased with life.

Quincy found himself watching the shoulders, the necks, the heads of two young men who were several seats in front of him. From the tilt of their hats, the cool assurance of their nods, he knew them as upperclassmen. They fascinated him, somehow. They seemed very remote from Professor Deering. They seemed more the expected thing. And always, the expected thing tended to unnerve him, even as the sudden flash of wonder gave him a grip on the realities.

The forward door opened suddenly. There was the inrush of air, the clatter of pounding wheels, the swift slam as the door fell to. Before it, stood a tall, svelte fellow, exuding a smooth confidence. He espied the two men whom Quincy had been watching. Hands went up; names were called warmly. He{151} rushed to them. And with affectionate hand-shakes and stout slaps on shoulders, they gave greeting after the summer’s separation. Then, they began to talk. The svelte newcomer leaned over from the aisle and words flew fast. Evidently, it was the man by the window for whom his words were especially intended. This continued for some time, and then the man directly below him got up. The newcomer protested suavely. Quincy marvelled at such affection and ceremonious courtesy. The man who had arisen evidently assured the other that he would gladly and easily find another seat so that the two might with more comfort impart their urgent news. He stepped away. The newcomer, as quickly and utterfully forgetful as he had been solicitous, slipped into the seat. And he who had given it up came down the aisle and placed himself with Quincy.

They examined each other; Quincy surreptitiously, the upperclassman with a bland impudence. Quincy was thoroughly ill at ease. He turned his face full on the window. And then he heard the man’s voice coming toward him. He was a rather stout, florid fellow with fat lips and eyes that would have been a merry blue had they not turned so hard.

“Goin’ up, first time?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Quincy.

“Where do you come from?”

“New York.”

The man shook his head impatiently. “What prep, I mean.”

“None.” He named his private school.

With unconcealed effrontery, the man looked him over,—his clothes, his hands, his face. At Quincy’s answer, a change had come over the fellow. It was{152} as if the boy had admitted that he was a pauper or an idiot. He had been in a mood for asking questions; Quincy’s admission that he came unlabeled, unclassified, uncounted, put him in a mood for giving advice.

“Well,” said the upperclassman, “you’ll find that your coming in alone will make no difference—” as if his manner had not stultified his words! “This is a democratic place. Every man has as good a chance to make good as another. Prep school prominence wears off by midyears. Don’t let it worry you. Go in for as many activities as you can. You look as if you could run. Can you?”

“Yes,” said Quincy.

“Fine! Go in for track. Go in for the papers, whether you can write or not. Keep a cool head. You got the odds against you, of course, coming in alone. But if you can sprint or tear off funny stories better than the next fellow, you’ll make good, just the same.”

Quincy did not like this man—nor understand him. His words gave him a sense of faintness. He wished to be silent. But his consciousness of the new life made him feel that he must try to understand, even if it did mean a process so painful and disagreeable as the asking of questions. So he nerved himself and spoke:

“What exactly do you mean by ‘making good’?”

The upperclassman smiled with an air of amiable sufferance.

“Getting there, of course,” he said. “Doing something.... You’ll find out soon enough.”

This explanation was very vague to Quincy. He thought perhaps he might help him to explain.{153}

“Do you mean,” he asked, “being elected to a fraternity?”

His neighbor turned upon him with a look of horror in his eyes. He seemed speechless with an inexplicable pain, much as Quincy thought he might be, if some stranger suddenly, gratuitously, should insult his sister. And then, after a pause, the wounded upperclassman spoke.

“Look here!” he said, in a solemn monotone that was suffused with deep emotion. “Do you want to get queered? Shut up about such things; do you understand? Shut up tight!”

The boy sat there, ashamed and helpless as if he had been stripped. He could not get away. He could not defend himself. He could not act as if he had done nothing. He could not apologize. So he merely sat there and faced his tormentor with eyes that had in them both pride and humiliation.

The upperclassman seemed pleased with the result of his gentle warning. He seemed even a little sorry; and it tickled him, doubtless, to entertain so generous a sentiment toward a freshman. He nodded wisely, shook his head as if conscious of the lavish weakness in so kind an attitude, and then got up. The visitor forward, had gone. As he left for his own seat, he turned back to Quincy and bowed.

“My name is Guthridge. I’m a senior. Come and see me, any time. I’ll be glad if I can be of service.” He seemed to be easing himself of a formula as well learned as was his name. Then he left.

Quincy remembered that Professor Deering had not invited him to call. How thrilled and happy that would have made him! And here was an invitation he would have gone far in order to avoid—had there{154} been compulsion of accepting it. There were curious ironies in this new life.

By the time the train-man had shouted out his station and they had rolled, with airy sighings and steely creakings, to a stand-still, these impressions of the new reality were still swirling inchoate, hectically colored, in his head. He was far from having mastered them. He had not yet even faced them. Yet, here it was!{155}


The early bewilderments of college did not wear away. They formed a swirling veil through which the unknown features of his new life seemed glamorous and splendid. The pulsing rhythm of so much youth centered about a point gave college a lilt that did not fail to whirl Quincy with it. For a time, the mere sense of motion suffused his consciousness. He was content.

And then, he understood. A windstorm in a desert is engrossing. But while one dashed off the onslaught of hot sand, sweeping one’s senses, there might still come stirring through the monotone of sting and color the thought of other action, the doubt of this fight’s good. So, now, with Quincy. Life as he knew it had been largely desert. Here was merely a new stormy stretch. But despite this, his longing for somewhat else grew, as the lack went on. His longing was based upon no fact. It was becoming slowly a basis for all future facts.

During the first glamor and the first fright of freshman year, Quincy observed a tone of affability about him in his mates. They, also, were unsure of their position, unsure of the importance of this fellow student, Quincy Burt. And they were cautious. Therefore, they were hospitable, affable. They introduced themselves and asked him to call. Numbers of them called on him. Quincy was touched, excited by this reality of comradeship. But he soon learned that{156} something would rise up, as a barrier, between him and his tentative friends. The feeling of a difference, a gulf of reservation would come upon the onset of an attempt at fellowship. In their talks, these boys seemed to have a definite ideal. And in Quincy’s lack of one, they found an unforgivable distinction. Their ideals were pragmatic and immediate. They referred to foot-ball or to the music-clubs or to golf. It made little difference. But it welded the class together. And it left Quincy out.

A few solicitous fellows told him: “You must try for something. It doesn’t matter if you make a team or not—so long as you try.”

Quincy was too slight for foot-ball. So he “went out” for the track team.

He got the necessary suit and shoes. And he reported.

Quincy had reached full height at seventeen. He was fairly tall, lithe, splendidly loose-knit. His muscles were soft but long. His shoulders were sharp. His neck was thin and he held his head always slightly forward. He looked to be excellent material. The coach selected him for the “220 yard dash,” since he had no pre-conceptions on the matter.

In that first try-out, Quincy won his race. It was a strange and sharp experience for him. Ten panting fellows lined out beside him under the bleak sky. The cold air ate against the heat of his body. He felt free and the feeling gave him a sense almost of shame. He had no right to win that race! As his feet tore ground away, something within him told him to come in second, if need be—but not first! But he was unleashed. He raced with his soul. And he won, as if he had committed an improper act.{157}

The upperclassmen congratulated him. His fellows also, did not seem to think that he had had no right to win. That night at dinner, his every word was respectfully attended. He was consulted upon the effect of cigarettes on “wind.” He was asked how many medals he had won at school. And when he answered that he had never raced before, they smiled with deprecation as if the fact of his nonage had been a boast of supernatural powers.

But in the atmosphere of new impressions, this strange event did not intrude too much. He slept well and early. He began to be troubled by the attentions of his class-mates. A few days later, he ran the “100 yard dash” and won again. He was subjected, now, to very direct attention, at the track house. He was rubbed down, massaged, questioned about his habits. The boys took him for granted. Upon the third day, he was asked in the field if he would try the “440.” He was willing. He finished third in excellent company. This time the captain of the college track team shook his hand.

“Burt, you’re the real thing,” he said. “Now work—! Train! There’s glory for you.”


Quincy got back to his room and discovered that he hated this favor into which he had fallen. He loved to run. He loved to race, although the conspicuousness of winning made him uncomfortable. What he detested was the “business” and the importance that had been attached to a quite natural and unassuming exercise. If it was joy to hurl himself through the air and wind, with his breast atingle and his head aflame, it was torture straightway to be currycombed—mentally and physically—like a race-horse. It was torture to{158} be patronized by a shallow-mouthed senior who, by some insuperable right, was his captain and his mentor. It was torture to be told what to eat, when to rest, how to pace. And it was torture to feel himself engaged, harnessed, to run—whether the mood was there or no.

For a week more, Quincy bore this tyranny to which his prowess had subjected him. And then, calmly, bravely, he quit. He was not aware of the heroism of his act. And to be sure, there was no voice nor mind about him so to paint it. What he had done was cowardly, perverse, vicious and monstrous in the light of this new world. There was no possible alternative in viewpoint.

He had told the captain that he loved to run, but that he did not wish to make sprinting the master of his time and soul. The captain had smiled knowingly.

“I know it’s hard. But you have to, Burt. It’s the way.”

“Well—I’d rather not.”

The captain looked at him sharply. “You got to, I say!”

“How do you mean—I got to?”

“You can’t keep on a team and not practice every day. And not train all the time.”

And the man had walked off, not dreaming of a further protest.

Quincy, then, came close to the truth. There was something sacred, almost prayerful in running. It was the service of the trees and brooks. The strain of his muscles, the pant of his breath, the burn of his eyes, the hewing-down by this fleet spirit within him of the world’s resistances, came to him as romance, as worship. And to yoke this splendor to an affair of points and team-work seemed sacrilege. He could{159} run when he wished. He had now learned the glory of that. He would not prostitute his best delight.

He broke training and failed to report.

The captain called on him. There was a stormy half-hour, in which the captain showed his native lights and talked much of treachery to one’s college. And so, Quincy was queered.

At the fall fraternity elections, he was left out. He knew that he had been marked for slaughter. The majority of his class now evinced nervousness at talking to him. They had fallen off as quickly as they had first rushed to accept him. He had committed the unpardonable sin. He stood there, in their midst, as a rebuke to their standards and activities—as an individual—as one who prized his pleasure and rejected the college shibboleth of “doing something.” There was no health in him. And there was danger of being associated with him, if one were seen too much about with him. Elections came. And Quincy, courageous as he had been in the lists of decision, was too young to smile and too weak not to suffer.

But a firm idea had been implanted in his soul; and a great gift given it. Each afternoon now, in the days that came before the snow, and while he should have been sprinting for his Alma Mater, he went out in the sparse woods beyond the field and ran and raced with his own spirit. This was the gift that had been given him. The idea was one of criticism. He began to see the poverty of this college scope, to deplore the lack of a real, free romanticism in its routine and aspirations. He longed for the opportunity to talk with Professor Deering. But the Professor taught only upperclassmen.

And then, Quincy thought of expressing his idea{160} more vicariously. He worked a week on an essay that he entitled “College Cramps.” In it, he made reference to the grip of college routine and business on all the native energies of youth that should run wild; to the effort through team-work and club-work, to channel ebullience into a trough where college gods—cattle of iron and wood—could drink and guzzle. He sent his essay to the college literary magazine. It was sent back. Across the title page a witty editor had scribbled: “We’re sorry you have them, old man.”

Then the boy retouched his essay and mailed it to Professor Deering. Within, he enclosed a note stating that it had been rejected by the college paper. He hoped, however, that it would be read by the man who really had inspired it.

He heard nothing from Professor Deering. And soon after, he made a momentous journey to New York. But before this, he had found a friend.{161}


His name was Garsted—Simon Garsted.

One day, Quincy crossed the campus with him. He had been a slight ways behind. He had overtaken Quincy.

“Aren’t you Burt of the freshman class?” he asked, introducing himself. He was a junior—an obscure one as far as college honors were concerned.

“I was at a tea, last Sunday, at Professor Deering’s house,” Garsted explained. “He read your paper aloud.”

“Did he?”

For a moment, Quincy was rejoiced. And then it occurred to him that Mr. Deering might have acknowledged the paper’s receipt—if he had thought so highly of it—might have asked his permission about reading it aloud. So Quincy withdrew into his shell. And since only Garsted was there, congratulating him, he turned his resentment upon him.

“I hope you liked it,” he said icily.

“You’re a mighty independent young chap, Burt,” Garsted went on, “I like that.”


Garsted stopped, causing Quincy to do likewise and to face him. And then, he smiled.

“Look here, Burt,” he said softly, “Deering’s a strange, sloppy man. But he’s the biggest man here. Don’t take what he did amiss. If I know him, he forgot even to invite you to his tea. That’s just like him.{162} One day, when his interest in your paper is a bit subsided, he’ll recall that there’s more to you than it—that you’re behind it. Then he’ll drop you a note. Meantime, however, don’t be sensitive—with him.”

There was a pause. Quincy was looking a trifle sheepish. Garsted was laughing: “Save your sensitiveness for other things, Burt—and come and see me.” He put out his hand.

Quincy inclined his head slightly and as their hands clasped their eyes met. Garsted caught the deep pathos of this boy, lost and alone in a college campus. He felt a thrill as one does at some beautiful flash of thought. He saw the contrast between this silent, stubborn boy and the easy obviousness of the things about him.

“Let me see,” he said in a still more quiet tone, “these indefinite invitations are insulting.” It was the second time he had caught the cause of Quincy’s trouble. “What about a date to-night? Can you come?”

Quincy looked at him. The first general wave of invitations, and that succeeding flood when he was harnessed to the track team, had died utterly away. He had been alone for three weeks. He was sensitive and he was skeptical. But Garsted was different. And it was hard to transfer upon him so sustainedly his irritation at Mr. Deering. Garsted was a close-set fellow. His head was long, almost ponderous, with coarse, blond, short-cropped hair. His nose was massive, angularly chiseled, his mouth was broad and showed a row of teeth immaculately white and separate one from the other. All of him seemed roughly hewn out of some stubborn stone—abrupt, big, yet anomalously delicate. As he spoke, he stammered at{163} the beginning of each sentence; but once over this initial barrier, he went on freely, until the pause.

“I have nothing on, to-night.”

“Very well,” said Garsted. “Come at six. There’s my dorm. Room number ten.” He pointed, and dashed off.

Quincy had never seen such a room as this. Through a maze of tobacco smoke, a naked gas-jet gave out its light. Garsted, in suspenders, loomed out of the shadows, looking like some grotesque statue, his hair dishevelled, a cigarette dropping from his lips. “Hello. Come in,” he said without a sign of stammering.

Quincy felt his way into the room. It was long and low. It had three leaded lattice windows. Above one was the gas-jet. On the full wall was a suspended book-case, littered with manuscripts, papers and exotic-looking volumes. Below, was a cot, unmade; and lost in the heterogeneous bed-clothes were trousers, books, two hats and a carelessly flung fiddle. Below the two other windows was a plain kitchen table, unvarnished and bewilderingly strewn with hodge-podge of small things. Beside a pen was a tooth-brush. Mingled with clean sheets of paper were pipes, neckties and a pile of silver change. In one corner stood an antiquated typewriter. Garsted seemed splendidly at home and in a key with all this harmonious medley.

He flung three paper volumes from a chair to the floor and offered the seat to Quincy. Quincy took it. Garsted rolled a cigarette, lighted it from the gas and suggested that they dine at the town’s most expensive restaurant. Then, he looked down at his shoes.

“Damn it,” he said with a chuckle, “they’ll never{164} do.” He excused himself and went out into the hall, leaving the door ajar behind him.

“Oh, Bobby! Oh, Bobby!” he sang out. A door opened.

“Going fussing to-night?” cried Garsted.

“No,” came the distant voice.

“Let me have your good shoes?”

There were more footsteps above. Presently, Quincy heard Garsted at the bottom of the stairs catch one shoe and muff the second. Then, he entered and without comment pulled off his own, tossed them under the kitchen-study table and put on the others.

“I’m hungry; let’s go,” said Garsted, moving toward the door.

“Should I put out the light?” said Quincy, who was behind him.

“Lord, no! I never have any matches. I’d have to go to bed in the dark.” And still more Quincy marvelled. Gas had to be paid for, in the college dormitories.

The waiters in the town’s most expensive restaurant (the only one with metropolitan prices) treated Simon Garsted as if he had lived in a mansion. They judged by the sort of dinner he ordered and his taste in wine. Garsted made it a rule not to enter the place save his purse was full. Also, in order that this might not be too infrequently, he would go long without good nourishment, subsisting on coffee, tobacco and free lunch. Another of his economies was in matches.

However, it was a memorable evening for Quincy. He did not pretend to understand. He was subtle enough to be dazzled as much by the incident of the borrowed shoes as by the salaams of the headwaiter. He saw a dizzy accomplishment in either. He liked{165} Garsted, besides admiring him. He found it easy to converse with him. And Garsted proved his entire comfort by not stammering once after the oysters.

They talked long. Quincy discovered in himself ideas—and ideas, in addition, to which an evidently brilliant upperclassman was glad to listen. He found that many of his host’s spicily couched remarks were final forms of feelings he had long vaguely nursed. And, being human, he respected Garsted for this reason as well as for another.

There were, moreover, many points in his new friend’s mind that had never occurred, even remotely, to the boy. Most of these, as Garsted made them, seemed bewilderingly true. Others, he argued frantically, unaware that he was in this way defending his old grounds, his old spiritual habits.

It was obvious from the outset that Garsted was a rebel. He told him so.

“Well, so are you,” retorted the older man. And this was news to Quincy.

“Why, that’s anarchism!” cried Quincy, when Garsted was inveighing against the theoretic right of imprisonment for crime.

“And what was your leaving the track team?” came the quick rejoinder.

So, by this penetrating means the boy gained insight into himself. Small wonder, then, that he found himself growing enthusiastically fond of Garsted. There is no commoner cause, among the honest, for devoted friendships.

No middle way exists in natures like that of Quincy. Once they let go their blanketing reserve, they feel no shame in nakedness. They have not learned a technique of graded confidence. They withhold every{166}thing with a single grip. They know only how to maintain that grip or to release it. They lack experience in the nuances of human correlations. Their rule is not to adventure. When they break it—since it is so sincere a rule—they break it utterly. For behind the rule, is the great, incessant need of what the rule forbids—the conviction that in such intensity of need abstinence is good.

Quincy flung his reserves out from him, that evening. And Garsted had no reason to dream that this candid boy could be as secretive as a cat. He sat high up in his chair, haled by his wine, receiving Quincy’s brave opinions with an equal gusto. His own remarks served to expose and annotate them. Garsted had a genius in apt conversation. He knew when to obtain a major effect by playing obbligato. Quincy’s purposes and judgments were put forth acridly, naked, crudely, as seventeen years are wont. Had the boy heard himself as he actually spoke, he must have felt the strident immaturity of his opinions, been rebuffed by them and so reacted against Garsted. But here, this young man’s cleverness came out. As Quincy’s thoughts ran, Garsted dressed them, trimmed them, softened them. Such was the mission of his own accompanying remarks. And in consequence of this, Quincy’s impressions were not of his ideas alone, but of these tempered and glorified by his host’s part. So Quincy glowed with a strange assurance. And his subliminal gratitude for Garsted inspired a conscious admiration.

They parted late.

Quincy lay, stare-eyed, in bed; and by fancy continued his past conversation, until sleep cheated him. Even so, a young knight of old, fresh from a first{167} tourney, might over and over again have fought in vision, stroke by stroke, the battle he had won.


One of the remarks of Simon Garsted had been responsible for Quincy’s journey to New York. The boy had claimed the years he lived there as credentials of his knowledge of the city.

“But your family’s been there with you, all that time?” asked Garsted.

“Of course.”

“Then you know less of New York than the immigrant who lands at South Ferry from Ellis Island. He at least has been receptive to the real welcome—attack, if you will. With you, inevitably, the home you lived in and the hordes of people you knew must have interfered.”

Quincy smiled at these “hordes.” But he resolved to meet New York without the fact or reservation of his family within his mind.

Garsted had summarized: “Knowing a city is being open to the vibrance of its crowds and buildings. A family stops these apertures.”


The time was early in November. Fraternity elections had just placed a mark upon Quincy’s lack of favor. They had thrown him into a gloom. But what really harassed the boy was not the disapproval of his class, so much as the palpable weakness which he read into the fact that this had troubled him. This was the source of real misgivings. If he was what he was, had done with conscience that which he had done, the results should have been powerless to distress him. They were not. His unpopularity, now brutally concreted, gave him periods of despond. And{168} seeing this, he rebelled at his own self-styled fatuity and thereby fixed his mood.

It was in such a mood that he set out to meet New York. The thrill of real adventure shot through him as he stepped forth, under these new auspices, upon the crashing street. The power of suggestion had availed. It seemed indeed as if he had never before known the great city.

He plunged at once into the subway and alighted at Brooklyn Bridge. There had been no plan in this. But it had seemed the natural tendency. Quincy had merely flowed along. Here was one channel of the city’s life that had happened to catch him in. Since he was there to invite and to enhance this receptivity, it would have been wrong to choose.

So Quincy reached the street from the subway. At once, he was washed along like a splinter of wood on a rising wave, into a screaming welter of humanity and trolley-cars. He was in the terminal whence soars the incline pathway rising to the Manhattan Tower of Brooklyn Bridge.

It was not yet four o’clock. And the sparse stream of early hurriers about him was as nothing against his feeling of solitude. He recalled almost vaguely now the packed recesses whence he had emerged—the delirium of cars churning the crowds, the hammer of the outlying city.

Before him swept the bridge. He felt that every cable of the web-like maze was vibrant with stress and strain. With these things he was alone. Yet he felt no insecurity, such as the crowds inspired. Beyond, through the net-work of steel, huddled Brooklyn. And below his very feet, tumbled together as if some giant had tipped the city eastward and sent all the houses{169} pell-mell toward the down-tilted corner, lay the wharves and slums of Manhattan. It seemed to Quincy that he was being caught upon a monstrous swing and swept with its pulsed lilt above the grovelling life of the metropolis. Suddenly, the fancy flashed upon him that from his perch of shivering steel the power should indeed come to poise and judge the swarm above which he rocked. The bridge that reeled beyond him seemed an arbiter. It bound the city. It must know the city’s soul since it was so close to the city’s breath. In its throbbing cables there must be a message. In its lacings and filigrees of steel, there must be subtle words!...

He was already above the river. The sun was cold. The waters of the harbor cut out like sapphire fretted with gleam. Beyond, Brooklyn was in shadow—shadow that sprang rather from its nature than the sun’s lack. Quincy turned north where the great East Side crowded out under two bridges, stifling the river to an inlet. The city rose in a blue haze. Quincy recalled the words of the man in the Park: “Blue’s her color.” It was all like the piled ascent of some brobdingnagian ant-hill. He scrutinized it carefully,—from the stall-like wharves to the tower, turreted and carved in ice at the hill’s crest. It seemed ugly. And yet, as his eyes went back over the mazy whole, down from the notched skyline to the turmoiled streets that fell brown and grey into the water, it seemed beautiful as well. Quincy was puzzled. He did not know that in this flaunting grandeur, building from myriad misery and ugliness, lay the nature of New York.

Quincy too was cold. Instinctively, he turned south. The sun was very ineffectual against the lower city{170} with its escarpments of wrought stone. There was a cruelty about these that laughed at the falling sun. The tall buildings were ugly—fearfully so. They lacked grace and color. One of them was a titanic telescope done in cake and sugar. A huge structure farther north—ridiculous with a flounce as a flank and its tiny turrets—reminded him of building-blocks. And this brought to Quincy the idea of giant babies, sportively responsible for it all. But there was tragedy as well as farce. The vaster buildings rose all white and impervious and cool from the wallow of unlit mediocrity below. Monsters indeed, they seemed to have sucked the strength for rising from the nondescript ruck that they submerged. Ferocious, sapping prodigies they seemed, now, to Quincy—the sort to which men are sacrificed and that make slaves of their creators.

All of this was like the blow of a mailed fist to the boy. It made him turn toward Brooklyn. The borough of homes appeared shabby and foul, a neglected step-sister unworthy the name of Cinderella. For here was no virtue under the spell of persecution. Brooklyn also was sinister enough. Merely, she had been less successful. Homes, evidently, counted little.

Suddenly, Quincy found that he had left the bridge and was standing upon a street in Brooklyn. He struck down its dingy length. He wondered if the wealth that had raised all the glories he had just observed was in some manner parent to this squalor. For not more than fifteen minutes, he searched the swart, hovelled depths below the Bridge. He saw a ferry-boat at the foot of a street, relieved with plants and romping boys, which had been turned into a con{171}sumptives’ home. He was not used to stinking court-ways, houses that leered, rank saloons advertising rum and sidewalks crumbling with neglect. He looked up at the span of bridge. It seemed an unattainable pathway. His nerves told him he would be better looking down at Brooklyn. So he returned.

The whole world had become another world in half an hour. Quincy surveyed the sky, the river, distant Manhattan. It came to him with a thrill that nothing was the same—that everything was radically something else. It was night—boldly, suddenly, entirely. If New York had a tongue of its own, would there be a word in it for evening?

What impressed Quincy at once was that night was not falling, as poetry books would have it, but ascending; and ascending, not in a steady advance like the shadows on a mountain, but in sudden starts, in impulsive sallies, like clouds of guerilla warriors pressing up, free of each other, repulsed here, there held at bay, and here again triumphant.

In the north, Manhattan was already dark. It loomed up, loftier yet more subdued in mist that was forever turning thicker and more sombre. Not a light pierced the haze to Quincy’s eye. He seemed now to be looking down upon an illimitable graveyard. Each house was become a tomb-stone, each towering building, in the light of day a sentinel of progress, appeared now a monument to some great death. Below the liquid green of the two uptown bridges, the East River was opaque amethyst, streaked here and there where some boat had cut a swathe. The moiling tenements glowed forth like coral. Poverty, catching a deflected ray, turned lurid.

Now, as he marched on, Quincy observed the south.{172} The arm of Liberty, wisp-like in the mist, pointed to a blood-orange ball of sun. The nearer island lay in a deeper purple; its trees waved through a thicker film. But the waters were in shadow as if night had been an emanation from them, pushing the sun relentlessly back across the rim of the world. Above the harbor, was a deep pall, night’s advance guard in its grey, the sun’s resistance in its orange fretting. The pall fell and the waters grew more brackish. The sun plunged down against the mists, pouring a frenzy of disparted color that shot about the buildings of South Manhattan. And now, a sheet of gold cloud came underneath it. Slowly, yet visibly, the gold turned to yellow, to lemon, to silver—and went grey. Steeped as if in its own blood, the sun sank through the mists, and disappeared.

Quincy shuddered as if he had been witness to a tragedy. Then, huddled in his coat, he pressed on toward Manhattan.

The lower buildings had receded into shadow. The upper turrets were still shooting white against a shrill blue sky. Below, Manhattan was retreating; in the higher line, it still advanced. Quincy thought that the tall buildings slanted forward, that they must topple into the river. And throughout the long expanse, came streaks of smoke, all pointing north, all twining with harmonious measure into the sky.

But now, was the most startling change of all. The phalanx of white smoke seemed to hesitate, broke and scattered. With the sun had gone the wind; and with it, given up to the play of a thousand lesser currents, the smoke eddied forth, curled back and reverted in formless disarray.

Then, with a flash, Quincy was aware of a glitter{173} of lights along the precipice. They were everywhere—huge bars of them in the north, clusters of them in the south. The lights of a city do not come out, one by one. A moment before, he had not noticed any. This, however, Quincy did remark: at first the lights appeared faint, almost fancied within the clear eminence of buildings. But by degrees, the lights, thickening in numbers, grew as well in strength, became more real and more brilliant. In measure, the cold outline of stone against the blue melted and merged; the two values—sky and building—fell back into one wash of grey. And the lights took firmer form in their dimming casements, and gleamed forth like a new city of flame in place of the city of stone. Manhattan of the day, with its sharp, cruel outlines and its clumsy angles, hostile to subtlety and to suggestion, was fading utterly before this faëry Manhattan with its swarms of color and its deep store of fancy.

Quincy fought his way to the street through the frantic turbulence of clattering cars and thronging home-goers. He felt as if he had been dropped down the muddy vortex of a whirlpool. Night was thick above him. Great clouds of people swirled toward the bridge and subway, amid the clangor of traffic and the cacophony of newsboys.

Bruised, frightened, Quincy turned away, eager only to escape. Suddenly, amazement stopped him. Across the dismal mouth of the street was the bridge—a giant causeway. One arc-light underneath broke off a circlet of yellow-white from the surrounding gloom. Above shone a ragged strip of sky. The air was rank. The solitary light tumbled and flashed in the vapors.{174}

Panic clutched the boy. There seemed a half uttered charm about this place. He pressed on. And now, he slipped along the wet walks of Fulton Market where the fish of a thousand pushcarts had dropped blood and ooze during the day. Facing the low, red houses with the hectic, gas-burning shops, Quincy observed Broadway beyond—a long, high gauze of flame. Ponderous trucks rattled past. And a thin stream of drab humanity shuffled toward the ancient ferry that plies to Brooklyn.

Quincy went north on South Street, past the swinging doors of saloons and shops where marling-spikes and flag-trucks made display. Under the Bridge itself he went—looming above him like a curse; and into the rookeries of Cherry Hill.

Quincy had had enough. He was frightened, horrified.

He pushed up Water Street and westward, eager above all to escape the omnipresent Bridge. He passed through fetid piles of tenement, pouring their produce into the street. Crowds jostled him; cars clashed; machines went braying, shuttling. The taste of New York was bitter on his lips. Through its sheer bulk, it threatened to submerge him. He wished to run, in order to be rid of it. But he held himself back. He must be calm, courageous. All of this delirium, this lurid show of filth and vice and an inexplicable beauty—was it not life? Would he avoid life, would he be rid of it? Was he not of it? was he not also life?

And so, aching in his soul, for his experience, yet aware deeply that he had somehow been visiting himself, Quincy reached the station and journeyed back to college.{175}

The depth of the impression of this trip on Quincy was such that he did not begin really to know it until somewhat later. Great shocks often compound a spiritual bath which takes a long time to soak upon the nerves. Quincy’s experience, as he looked back on it, was in the nature of a shock—a physical one. It grew blurred, dimensionless within his mind. And in proportion, grew the mental reflex. It seemed now, to Quincy, that the vagueness of what he had encountered was his own subjective vagueness; as if indeed he had pried into the arcana of existence. Of course, such a venture into truth could not have the petty clarity of fact. He learned that a glance within himself gave just such dim results. Yet here, dimness did not detract from poignancy. And so, with New York. There was a firm analogy between these delvings; and between their consequences, at first elusive, physical, and finally outspreading into an aura of deep importance.

He spoke freely of all this to Garsted.

“Why,” asked Garsted, “do you fail to divorce the sense of beauty from even the vilest thing you saw?”

“That I can’t understand,” said Quincy.

“You don’t seem to know what the sense of beauty means.”

“Let me see if I can figure it out.” Quincy knit his brow, and his blue eyes softened. It was as if he had spiritually relaxed, instinctively aware that in this way one can receive.

“Perhaps,” he groped on, “perhaps, when I feel beauty, I am really feeling a sense of welcome. A welcome of the spirit.”

“Good!” cried Garsted. “And when do we welcome? Now, look out for your answer! No senti{176}mentalism. Hypothetically, we welcome when we are charitable, altruistic, Christian. But actually—”

“When we want, I guess.”

“We feel a sense of welcome, when we feel a sense of one-ness. Is that not so? Well—now we’re at the kernel. Beauty is nothing but a sense of welcome within, that we transfer onto an object, because the impulse of life is to transfer. A sense of harmony, in other words.”

“A sense of harmony with filthy hovels and cruel skyscrapers!”

“Absolutely. Something in them is in you,—is truth. You feel that vaguely, through the filth and the stolen decoration. And you call all of it beautiful.”

“Why,” laughed Quincy, “you make me think I was paying a visit to myself, in extension.”

“Well, what else gripped you? Was it the architecture?”

They laughed together. And then, in the silence, the boy pondered.

“You’re right,” he said at last. “I felt it also,—that I had been looking into myself. Now, I can do more than feel it—thanks to you; I can express it.” He paused.

“The devil! Then all these brutalities and contrasts and flauntings are truth? And they’re in me, also—at least, what makes them be!”

“Don’t you also belong to the world?”

Quincy looked sharply at his friend. This question moved him. He thought of his life, so far. He thought of the havoc which even this little glimpse of the world had played with him. He grew sombre and his eyes lost their liquid glow of relaxation.{177}

“Something’s wrong,” he said solemnly. “If I belong to the world, there’s that within me objects to it. It cries out, objecting. It felt the beauty, that day. And, as you say, that meant that it recognized a fellowship, a harmony. But it hurt, Garsted,—it hurt like being crushed!”

Garsted laughed—alone. He could go only a certain way with Quincy. This seemed jejune sensitiveness.

From the moment of that laughter, the boy discovered that there were things and states about which it was unwise to talk, even in the rare circumstance of being able to.{178}


One day, on the street, Quincy saw Professor Deering. Quincy was hurt at the Professor. He was in a mood for a cold bow that would leave its mark. But the big man stopped him and talked the mood away in cordiality.

“Mr. Burt—I am ashamed of myself,” he smiled wanly. “There have been worries and they have made me rude. Walk me home, now, will you?”

Quincy followed tacitly at his side.

“I was very grateful for that paper,” went on the Professor. “I gave Snowdon of the Monthly a piece of my mind for rejecting it. But tell me, how are you?”

“I am getting on, thank you, Professor Deering.”

“That is as it should be. I am glad to hear it. I wasn’t so sure of you, you see.”

Quincy’s heart sank. It was as if he had been found out, as if a guilt had been fixed on him. Yet, he knew that the Professor’s words tokened merely respect and an unusual interest.

The Professor went on: “You evidently have qualities of rebellion, Mr. Burt. If you have the strength to support what these qualities will always bring you, I have no fear for you. But it is more common to revolt than to support what revolt sets up.”

“I’m all right, Mr. Deering,” Quincy replied; “I am not in the least worried. I am having a bully time.{179}

“Will you come in just a few minutes? It is tea hour.”

Quincy hesitated clumsily; grew aware of his awkwardness, and agreed, in order to conceal it.

They were before the Deering House. It looked very like a big, paste-board box, dropped directly upon the street by some careless errand-boy. There was no lawn before it. Two low steps led to a tiny porch, scarcely wider than the door, yet big enough for two banks of flower-pots. These were now barren and frozen. The house was of white frame and square. The two windows of the façade seemed to have been punched upon it as an afterthought.

Mr. Deering unlocked the door and Quincy was led across a narrow hall into the library. The room was spacious and bare. The center table had no cover; the three windows had no curtains; the walls were entirely occupied with plain book-racks, the height of the ceiling. A wood fire burned in the hearth, before which lay a tiger skin. This touch of Oriental glamor in the room’s prim contour stood out. With the exception of one upholstered arm-chair, the furniture was plain. Domestic rugs pieced out the soft-wood floor. There was a small gas stove in the corner of two book shelves. On it were a pewter kettle, several cups and a decanter of spirits.

“Sit down, and let me brew you some tea,” said Mr. Deering.

Quincy complied. “This is where you work?”

“Yes. When I close the doors, I am in an inviolable castle.”

The boy remarked that on the center table lay a low pile of unused papers, a single pen and, in the corner, a small rack containing half a dozen books.{180} Even the table seemed impoverished and empty. No artistic wealth of abandon was about it. Meantime, Professor Deering was boiling water.

“You must come here often, Mr. Burt,” he spoke as he leaned over the little table.

Quincy liked the massive stretch of his back, the wide, high head poised gracefully upon a short, thick neck and closely covered, like a cap, with hair.

During the process of tea-soaking there was no further talk. The host seemed absorbed. The guest had naught to say. But now, after the perfunctory questions relative to sugar and brandy and lemon, Mr. Deering came forward with two cups. He made Quincy move to the hearth and sat down beside him.

“Mr. Burt,” he said, stirring his tea, into which Quincy observed that he had poured a plentiful quantity of cognac, “I am anxious to get to know you. I want to hear if you have any plans.”

He questioned the boy about his courses; he asked for candid views of text-books and instructors. He got them. It never occurred to Quincy that the chance of their meeting might seem in contradiction to Professor Deering’s interest. There was about the man an impressionistic note that made harmonious this chance renewal of their acquaintance. Everything about the room, from the kettle to the curtainless windows, suggested a free, airy impressionism. The tidy desk with its bare batch of papers, also. Professor Deering appeared to need about him a liberal space, unhampered and untrammeled by pre-conceptions or too much furniture whatsoever, be it in the physical or the ideal world. Thus only, his creative mind was able to career. So it was natural that a very real re{181}sult should come of a quite impromptu meeting. Wherefore, Quincy did not restrain himself.

Of a sudden there was a knock. Mr. Deering clattered his tea-cup nervously and arose. A woman had made open the door without waiting for a signal.

“Oh, excuse me, Lawrence,” she said. But at the same time, she stepped inside. And Quincy heard her excuse as if it had been ironical.

Mr. Deering stood strangely embarrassed, his weight thrown back so as to give him an air of difficult balance.

“Julia—this is Mr. Burt. My wife—” he added.

“May I speak to you, one moment, Lawrence? I am sure Mr. Burt will excuse you.”

The big man hesitated again, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Then, he went forward without turning to Quincy and the door shut behind the pair. Quincy had remarked that the embarrassment was all with Mr. Deering. His wife had scarce deigned to nod to him. But now that he was alone for a few moments, he had the chance to bring to consciousness the impression he had had of her.

He recalled her as a slender, supple figure, framed in the doorway. Her eyes were very bright and dark, her chin was long and seemed to point protrusively. She wore a waist of dull blue silk that draped loose from her shoulders. These were narrow and high. Above the dull blue gleamed in his vision that black mass of her hair. Two great coils of it stood out, disordered, above her ears. A curve was low over the flat, cool forehead. He remembered that she was pale and that just below her eyes the blood shone strangely in two flecks through her delicate, hard skin. Also, her hands were large. And tight sleeves drew out the{182} thinness of her arms. She seemed to have the bosom of a boy.

Now, the door opened. The silence of the hall whence Mr. Deering stepped back beside him, taking up his tea-cup, brought out a memory of her voice. It had been low and vibrant. Quincy thought, without too great awareness why, of a velvet casing over a silver knife. Then, Mr. Deering continued the conversation.

In a few minutes, Quincy, with a poise that himself was stranger to, arose and left.

He admired Professor Deering for having so beautiful a wife. Then, she was beautiful—this Julia Deering, whose first name he had not lost? It occurred to him that she had been very beautiful indeed, framed there, in the doorway....{183}


Now came the Christmas vacation.

A time of ill-suppressed anticipation in a college town. Spirits soar and marks descend. Men laugh more readily; kindness comes to the surface of expression. Charity and self-indulgence, disguised as a fine denial conscious of its temporary being, give life a buoyancy. Energy juts into the future, leaving the swamp of deserted channels for the present. Eyes and mind and above all, the softer sense, wait upon the morrow. There is an abstinence about, as of guests before a feast not quite ready to begin.

And then, the last day, the last hour. The swift march of feet bedecking the frozen station road like flowers. The ring of voices in prospect and good wish, fretting the grey air like tendrils of warm sun. The mad largess to drivers; the luxury of lugging fat valises; the display of bright neckwear and urban suits. There may be slush and ice on the station road-way, but there is spring in the feet that tread it.

Quincy, also, went home for his Christmas vacation. He was one of the few that felt these things about him. Most were in these things, making their sum. He was outside, so he felt and understood. The glitter and ring grew and transformed in him, as he forsook them. Things spiritual too, however fair, have shadows, when they stand within the flood of some subjective sun. So stood these bright things to{184} Quincy’s spirit. Their shadows broadened upon him. And they made him gloomy; for the shadow, even of a painted picture, will be dark.

When he reached New York, with home before him, he smiled ironically to himself. The grey loom from the past brightness was wide across him. He bethought himself that he was going jerkily, obtusely, through a set of motions meaning nothing to him. He was partaking of a ceremony without its spirit. It was a deep and pregnant ritual for these others—home turned host, home in a roseate smile and at attention. So much the hollower did its successive rhythms sound in his own emptiness. For without the promise of felicity, what is baptism but an untimely wetting? Yet, he was caught within this process and with one speed, one exterior, he had been lifted up and hurried homeward. If he lacked knowledge of his own direction, he saw the pomp of promise of the others. And in this combination, his spirits fell and his eyes and lips grew subtly vagrant, as if they had desired to escape from the pain whereof his face was symbol.

A home of prophets would have understood this boy’s distress, launched on them at the set, rigid hour of vacation. But in his home if he came upon it as he was now, journeying uptown, the sullen silence would be received as if the mark were already known, shrugged at with the sole possible comment that one had hoped for college to have bettered him. All this, as well, Quincy understood.

So, as he rang the bell, he feared already his reception. And knowing what its consequence must be, he shut down his mood. He found a smile, inspired by his fear. It was perhaps a meagre smile.{185} But its source was not a common one for cheerfulness. And at this moment, he had no other source.

In this way, he entered.


Many things in the Christmas fortnight served to move Quincy out of himself upon a vantage-point where self might be envisaged.

All of it was a Pattern to him, once it was behind. And in the process of its unfolding, he was the unit that recurred persistently within it. He was the dark part of the design: richly, suavely black. About him fell burstings of color, scatteredly composed and half drawn toward him, as if a slightly stronger force prevailed against the colors’ impulse to fly clear. The whole was restless. The dark center-part—himself—seemed strangely unmoved. It was Quincy’s first intensive lesson in the design of spirit—that mad craftsman who hurls strident clashings into a harmony so fluent that all the world, if one step back and look, falls to a monochrome.

There was no distinguishable episode, at first. His strollings in New York, lit by his own fluttering lights far more than by the city’s screaming incandescence, made no chapter apart. His family was there, all-swerving in its crowd-way: Rhoda with her flagrant and acid beauty; Marsden the oracle; Adelaide the unformidable sphinx; his mother, lacking a motor to her sentiments, beyond the power to clap her hands painfully about his ears; his father with his language of greed; the city with its tongue of brass. But the two weeks were one. And the shadow of college was within them,—indivisible like any shadow, so that our minds alone and not our senses know it for a projection.{186}

The Pattern’s early form was allied with the city....

There was a great tongue of metal that had sharp, cutting edges. It struck against tooth and palate with ironic clangor. The teeth were cold buildings, and the lips about which the metal tongue drew blood were the pervasive helpless passions of the city’s life. In reality, the soft and suffering things were hidden and the metal shone. In his impression, the agony stood out and the element which cut and punished seemed insidiously hid. This inversion his own wish explained. He yearned for optimism. He still had strong within him the essential touch of a gay nature, made for a gay God. Perhaps, since such inversions are a part of wit, the gay God was the merrier for this.

Out of the mouth came speech. Rhoda had Julia Deering as a refrain. There was a rhyming sequence between his father and the Professor. Adelaide was at once a low refrain and an epigram that bit under a soft semblance. Strangely, his mother figured little by herself. But her part was never lacking. She had the ubiquity of intonation.

His impressions crystallized, drew back into actual events. But these events from which logically his impressions had gained life seemed a tracing not to a former, but to a later thing. The Pattern was clear in Quincy’s mind before the events were clear, that caused it.


Above all, there was an afternoon, spent in her room with Adelaide.

“If you have time, Quint,” she had said to him on the first evening after his arrival, “I hope we’ll see something of each other.{187}

“I have no engagements, Adelaide.”

So, when the time came: “Shall we just talk, this once?” she asked him.

They went up to her room.

It had been “Rhoda’s room” when the two sisters shared it. But Rhoda had been married nearly a year. Yet, the old name and the old association clung to Quincy as they arose from luncheon—Marsden, Adelaide, his mother and himself.

“Well, children, I must run.” Sarah looked at her daughter. “It wouldn’t hurt you, Adelaide, to come along and help your mother.” It was a case of belated Christmas shopping—gifts Sarah had overlooked.

“Mother, Quint and I have planned a cozy afternoon upstairs in my room.”

Sarah gazed tragically at the window. The sleet pounded against it like a snare-drum. She had discovered lately that Adelaide was very prone to make a sanctuary in her room. She had to say something. This inspired her.

“And what would you have done, if Rhoda were still here with you?” she asked.

“But she isn’t, Mother.”

“Perhaps,” judged Marsden, opening a book, “it is only fair Adelaide should have some benefit out of her loss of Rhoda.”

“Oh, very well, I’ll go alone,” Sarah shifted her point, with unconscious agility. And once more she observed the storm, as if she had been called upon to brave it. “Let your Mother go alone in the snow.”

“I’ll help you into the machine, Mama,” said Quincy. This irritated Sarah. The mention of the car lessened the woman’s heroism in braving such a{188} storm to gladden a few more forgotten hearts. And what right had a son to deprive a woman of her heroism, whom wealth had deprived already of her less far-fetched qualities?

But at last, Sarah got off. As Marsden settled in his splendid chair, he smiled quizzically at Adelaide, left alone with him for a minute.

“What are you going to talk about?” he asked.

The girl looked at her brother. He was nearly twenty-seven. His grey eyes lay light and remote in the dark, unhealthy folds of his skin. She looked at them. And they seemed unrelated to her brother. Her brother was the cripple. The curl of his lips, the morbid delicacy of his greying hair, the eternal pain that pinched his brow—these were her brother; and the words that the curled lips had spoken. But those remote, grey eyes! They were fair and bright and beckoned eerily. Adelaide could not understand them. She could understand and answer only her brother, the cripple. And at him, for his words, she was angry.

“What do you think?” she retorted.

“It’s beyond thought,” his mouth said. “To know what you will have to say to Quincy would require inspiration.”

“Speak out,” his eyes asked her.

“Pooh!” She scowled and was silent.

But in the silence, this mystery of one to whom she lived so close came uncomfortably nigh. She preferred the cynic-cripple, though his tongue did sear her. He, at least, might be answered or escaped. She went upstairs wondering why the ties of family were so strangely false, why they solved so little and why, since they gave so little, they should demand so{189} much. It did not occur to her that the ties of family were ties of least effort, glutton ties, carnal ties. It did not occur to her that the tuft of white soul within her must revolt, by its very nature, against a law that hallowed such! Adelaide was not strong enough to let things like that occur to her. She merely wondered and went upstairs.

Quincy examined the books on the table, though they had not changed in four months; nor in six. He scrutinized the pictures on the walls; he examined a cheap photograph, in an elaborate ivory frame, of Sylvia who had died the winter he was born. He resented, unconsciously, his sister’s perpetuation of this traditional child. His mother could be forgiven for dwelling on Sylvia and Josiah junior. But Adelaide had no excuse. Somewhere within the boy, a recollection must have smouldered of how his father had reckoned up his own unwelcome birth with the death of his two favorites. But this childish embryon of memory had grown, from the boy’s own rationalization, into a distrust of so sheerly sentimental an attachment as must be Adelaide’s for a sister who had died when she was three.

While Quincy moved about to hide his deep discomfiture at this set occasion, and to submerge in casualness his qualms as to meeting expectations, Adelaide sat calmly in an armless chair and waited for her brother to subside. She ventured no word. She did not appear to dislike this silence which was so patently wracking him. The truth was that she was forcing herself to bear it. It hurt. But it was the one way, she thought, of testing Quincy’s willingness to be a friend and to be loved. That she might hazard a first step toward a desired consequence with equal{190} right, simply did not occur to Adelaide. She was the sort of girl to whom social initiative was as repugnant as nakedness—and for the self-same reason. The obscure channelings of sex in girls spread it at times so widely from its normal moorings that the remotest mental regions become colored, with the result that some amenities of social life are as impossible for them as a crude, physical aggression. Most girls of this girl’s age and background would have been just so silent and so passive before a man from whom they awaited a proposal. Adelaide hoped for a mere sisterly relation—the privilege of friendship with a brother. Yet, with this seemingly humble dream, her way was that of a girl aroused and wooed. And the reason, although she might never know it, was that within, her condition also was the same.

Of course, Quincy did not understand. He saw merely that Adelaide was at her ancient trick of silence and of resenting his—as if the right of silence lay all with her, the need of speaking entirely with him. This, with the set formality of their retiring to her room, and the portrait of Sylvia and an indescribable something that was Adelaide herself, conjoined to complete his mood. It was a mood pathetically different from what Adelaide had hoped for. And this also dawned on Quincy:—that it would have been easier for him had she succeeded.

In this mood, silence grew too oppressive and he began to speak. Wonder was small that the girl’s first confession at his words was pain. But from the discord of these two unrhythmed ones—a discord ashamed of itself—came a great pity; and from this at length, a sort of rhythm between them. So talk grew possible, and there was born, slow and unheeded,{191} the boy’s intuition:—that Adelaide was in the ruck and base of life, and that, with her at life’s pinnacle, there had been room there, too, for him.

She showed her wish to know about his friends. Quincy spoke of Garsted.

“Next time you come to town, why not bring him with you?”

“If I knew—” he stopped.

“If you knew what?” she asked. She could easily have completed his remark. It had to do with his insecurity at home. He would not care to bring a friend—granted it was allowed—and have himself humiliated before a guest. Garsted had never seemed to understand his rank at home. Garsted told him, in a year college would respect him. And his family had had seventeen years.

Now, Quincy was silent. Adelaide blushed for him, in his emotion.

“I—I’ll see to it, he has a nice time. You know, we can take him to the theatres. Dad isn’t stingy about the money.”

“No, but Mama is.”

“We’ll get the money from Dad.”

Quincy had found a stiff position in a chair—across the room from Adelaide. Now he arose.

“Adelaide! That isn’t everything,” he rebuked her.

At least, Adelaide felt rebuked;—as if she had not known! as if it had not been delicacy that made her also waive the issue!

“Quincy—don’t get angry with me.”

“I’m not!”

Once more, he picked up a book from the table near which, as if unconsciously for help, he had found his{192} seat. It was a folio volume with colored pictures. They really interested him. So he turned them over, one by one.

“If you’re not going to talk with me, Quincy—”

He placed away the book at once. And they began afresh.

Another remark opened the problem of the track-team. By now, something was tiring deep down in them. Each of these failures in rapport made the new effort wearier. But on they struggled, with a heroism that was the more poignant for its hopeless inarticulation.

Quincy’s attempt to explain about the track-team suffered from an earlier behavior of the others. This subject had come up, the first evening at dinner. Suddenly, he had seen the expression about the soft mouth of Jonas that had been there in the old days when his one-time idol placed a captured fly in a spider-web. And Jonas had said, knowing already:

“You did not make a fraternity, did you?”

The expression had stung. “I would have, if I’d wanted to stay on the track-team.”

This was beyond Jonas’ comprehension. “If you’d wanted to?” he sneered. And the conversation changed before a saving word from Adelaide. For Adelaide had noticed. And now, in Quincy’s rigid manner, she knew that she was suffering for Jonas. Adelaide knew much. But her mind lacked a motor. And so hampered, it could not reach those increments which are the flower of knowledge.

Quincy recalled her saving him. He deemed her act the result of mercy, of pity—as if she shared Jonas’ incredulity but lacked his wish to make him suffer.{193}

“I just didn’t wish to bind myself. Lots of men in college thought I was right. That’s how I got to know Garsted.” He began gropingly and ended in a hurry.

“Don’t you think, perhaps, it was wrong to antagonize your class?”

“I do not. Damn the class.”

“Well, then you were right, if you think that way about it. But then—but then, you can scarcely blame the fraternities.”

“And who blamed ’em?” cried Quincy.

Of course, it was Adelaide who blamed them. She was about to say so. But evidently, from his outburst, her next step must be to concur in his refusal to.

“Of course,” she smiled, “I don’t blame them. Who cares?”

There was a pause. Adelaide got up, came to his side:

“Well, I love you, Quincy dear.”

Audiences laugh when clumsy acrobats fall over tables. So it is fair to assume that the gods laughed at Adelaide.

The conversation died once more. And when it was renewed with a last painful effort, it was far less personal. At once, now, Quincy threw himself in it. He careered freely, happily. And in this abandon, his remarks seemed brutal to his sister. It was her turn to be hurt in this pitiful ricochet.

Garsted had told him he had a mistress. Quincy gloried in this. He knew all of Garsted’s arguments against Puritan morality. Here was another case of sex gratified in purely psychic channels. The boy launched upon a eulogy of his friend’s free life.

“Isn’t he going to marry her?” asked Adelaide.{194} She was gripping herself. She did not mind this open talk with Quincy. Her bringing-up forbade it. And the discrepancy between the tingling pleasure that she felt and the horror that she should have felt, made her insecure. So she gripped herself and gave Quincy rein. Adelaide rode horseback—now that they were rich. A vision flashed across her of her latest mount, galloping in Central Park. She had always felt a similar strange discord between the prim Park and her joy in galloping. But the vision went, without a challenge.

“Oh,” her brother was saying, “when he has money enough, if he still loves her, I guess he’ll marry her.”

“But suppose, Quincy, suppose he stops loving her!”


“Don’t you see, how terrible it would be? What could the poor girl do?”

The boy looked at his sister. She seemed actually suffering. But the wealth of feeling that flowered in her pain had, as usual, gone wrong. He did not care to have his friend’s course criticized. So he attacked his sister, by extolling his friend’s mistress.

“She’s the sort of girl, I suppose,” he answered sharply, “who has other qualifications to recommend her, besides virginity.”

Tears came to Adelaide’s eyes. Quincy was contrite. He jumped up and kissed her. But her tears had made her ugly. Her tender little lids were red. Her hair seemed a trifle colorless. She was three years older than he. Why should he be able to make her weep? He despised her for it. This rôle, he disliked more heartily than being bullied. Could he{195} not find a balance somewhere? or a pleasurable subjection? He thought of Rhoda and of Mrs. Deering. And the tenderness of Adelaide seemed cloying....

Soon, Rhoda came in for tea. And there was Adelaide—perversely at the bottom.

“Well, have you had a nice long chat?” were her first words.

Quincy could not help thinking of her as Mrs. Theodore Cram. Her husband was so important a man. Quincy disliked him so much. And he was so serenely above any feeling, even of dislike, for Quincy. All this hurt. Rhoda was fresh and cool and full as compared to Adelaide, who now looked moist and warm and straggly.

The sisters embraced heartily. Quincy got Rhoda’s hand.

“You’re getting too old to kiss,” she smiled at him. Previously, perhaps, he had not been old enough?

“I am not,” cried Quincy. It was one of those quick flashes of effrontery that mark the strain of deprivation in timid boys.

He came forward and held Rhoda’s head, vise-like in his hands. Quincy was of full height. His tall, nervous figure bent over the voluptuous lined woman in striking contrast. While she was everywhere firmly composed, his form was uncertain and angular and loose.

“Behave yourself, Quincy!” Rhoda struggled.

The boy laughed feverishly. His hands held her head. But her body was writhing away. He meant to kiss her cheek. But Rhoda flashed back her head and his mouth skimmed her lips. His heart melted with the flame of that instant. And then, she broke away altogether. Quincy stood where the event had{196} happened, arms still out, hands still before him, feeling the floor gratefully beneath his feet.

“Why, you impudent boy!” Rhoda sneered at him; “how dared you?”

“You talk as if a brother hasn’t a right to kiss his sister,” said Adelaide.

Rhoda turned upon her in a white fury: “You—shut up!”

And Quincy felt Adelaide melt into a corner. He was still looking at Rhoda.

“I am sorry if I hurt you,” he said.

“You did hurt me, you little fool,” the woman’s instinct for giving pain was unerring; “why else do you think I’m angry? You hurt me—here.” She placed a hand above her waist. “If that’s the sort of nonsense you learn at college, my dear Quincy—”

Then she had not even been angry at the kiss? This submerged the boy’s spirits altogether.

And now, with a quick change of mood and a sweet word, she drew Adelaide out of her repentant corner. The two sisters seated themselves for a quiet chat. The servant brought tea on a mahogany platter, based with glass. With a few healing smiles, there was Adelaide, once more glad to bask in Rhoda’s sunshine. Quincy drew up a chair in order to have a place in the sun. But he fared ill. Rhoda’s resentment took the direction of ignoring him. And Adelaide was feeble at bringing him within the conversation. Rhoda feinted her attempts with phrases that recalled the hand-twist of a clever fencer. The boy was being ruthlessly punished. He had had hopes of Rhoda, now he was a college man. And here he was in disgrace with her! What a clumsy, inopportune brute he had been!{197}

Soon, he gave up his desperate attempts—they made him bleed, although she ignored them—to play an integral rôle, at least for the moment, in her consciousness. He retired spiritually. He would have gone away altogether, but he was afraid that his going would not be noticed; this would hurt too much. So he sat there, gloomily, brooding. And again, without restraint or question, his mind fell upon that unknown quality in his experience, Julia Deering. Were all women like either Adelaide or Rhoda? He feared, then, Mrs. Deering must be like the latter. She was splendid, also. And splendid women despised men. How came it, they ever married? What curious streak of humility and mercy made them do this? He knew women were incomprehensible by general consent. This must be the crux of their enigma: that, despite their splendor, suddenly they gave themselves to man! And then, some of them grew to be like his own mother. He was sure she had been like Rhoda, also. Adelaide resembled Jonas and his father. Marsden and Rhoda and he had the grey colorings of his mother.

Yet, where spiritually did he fit in? He was alone. He used to think he was only an adopted child, in the early days of familial agony. Then, he had allowed of his mother, excluding still his father. For some secret reason, it was decided that his father call Quincy “son.” But he knew his lack of authorship. That was why he despised Quincy. Also, he was jealous. For Quincy’s real father had not been so fat, so gruff, so stupid, with breath so foul smelling and hands crusted with little stains. But now, he failed to feel the link even with his mother. For if there was a link with her, surely it must extend{198} to Marsden and to Rhoda. And this was palpably untrue. Oh! it was all a grim play of nature. Doubtless, this fat, crushing, vulgar man was really the only father he had ever had; doubtless this woman with a submerged soul like violets under stagnant waters—was it not patent in her eyes?—had justice in calling him her son. Doubtless, the young woman who had wounded him and the girl who spoke an irritating language he could not respond to, were really sisters. It was a grim jest of nature. He might as well crunch cookies that were good and look forward to the less sneering world of which college was the gate. And yet, at college also—

The door opened and his mother was there.

“Quincy, don’t spoil your appetite for dinner.”

She had first busily kissed Rhoda, maternally kissed Adelaide, and inquiringly kissed him. He had held a half-eaten cookie during all this cycle.

It was now night. The snow had subsided. Most of it had melted as it fell. An odor of moist discomfort came from the streets with Sarah—the odor of the city shopping for Christmas gifts. It was warm and cozy in Adelaide’s room. But as Quincy stood against the window and looked out, this petty ease lay in the back of his brain like a sucking plaster. The street was grey and brown. The lamp-light stumbled through the mists and vapors. A motor car went swaying, snorting; its reeking tires seemed to cut swaths in the thick gutter, like hot irons.

His mother was reciting her adventures in half-a-dozen stores. Also, she was repeating for Rhoda a series of petty household troubles which already he and Adelaide had heard four times. But Adelaide never seemed to grow impatient. And the majestic{199} Rhoda was at attention. Quincy found in this no virtue.

Little huddled figures were sprayed through the street. They moved slowly, but laboriously. They were wet and irritated by the weather. Soon they would enter homes, like his, and recite to those they found there, eager to listen, the same round of petty trouble and smug adventure and fallacious sentiment. Would they find one among their various audiences who, like himself, objected? like himself was there through a grim jest of Nature? like himself, longed to be elsewhere? And if so, why could not he, Quincy, discover him? Why could not they be given one to another? A delivery wagon came splashing to their house and stopped. The horse shook his drenched hide. A boy leaped out, laden with packages. He saw the quick crunch of his feet, the stamp of the horse’s hoofs. And then, the bell rang loud and long. Everything outside, this sound reminded him, was muffled. It and he were inexorably separate. Yet, the house and the interminably repeated talk in the back of his brain—was it a solace for this isolation? The wagon churned its way from sight. Vaguely, he heard the rattle of the wheels. After it was gone, an elevated train mounted uptown with a slow rhythm. A car’s clear clang came to him, draped in fog. Two men trudged on the farther sidewalk. One of them laughed and slapped his comrade’s shoulder. The other pulled his hat low and turned up the collar of his coat. They disappeared—for ever. The lamps glared in the darkness that kept away from them. And his mother’s voice crushed on the melody of all these vagrant notes, bathed in the minor harmony of the night.{200}

“Quincy—father’s just come. Suppose you go down and greet him and tell him we’re all up here.”


Then, there was the day—a Sunday—when his mother was ill and Quincy stayed with her, in her bedroom.

Adelaide had gone on an excursion. Jonas and Marsden never bothered. In the afternoon, for a while, his father came as if to perform a duty. On the mandate of his mother that he needed air, Quincy strolled out alone. This too, fell into the Pattern, as he traced back for it.

After the departure of the others, Quincy’s visit had begun with the reading aloud of two columns in the paper and of five pages in a magazine. This effort tired the good Sarah who, in the Harriet days, with an equal illness would not have deemed it worthy of mention to her husband. When Sarah was tired, she grew nervous. And like so many nervous women, she balanced herself with talk. The effect that women force by dint of words is a stimulant for them as insidious as liquor. The volume of words is a mere subsidiary, like the number of glasses. The effect, in either instance, is the heart of the habit. In the drinker the effect is immediate; in the talker, it rebounds from the attention of the victims talked to. In this way, it will be seen that of the two vices, talking is the worse. Drinking may confine its ravages to the drinker. At most, it will aggrieve only his close relations. The talker, however, is a curse-carrier with no conscience and no limit. Unfortunately, Quincy’s mother had lapsed into this weakness. She had been repressed, silent, really noble for so long a term! She had the right to wreak vengeance on so{201}ciety. Moreover, she loved her son. This called for an intense reparation.

She lectured him, that morning. For three hours, she trod on his soul, harassed his spirit and crucified his secret self for being secret—here lay the real reason of her irritation. And then, she said:

“Dearie, would you like to have your dinner brought up, so you can eat with your mother and keep her company?”

Of course, Quincy was delighted. So Quincy’s food was brought to him on the same mahogany platter with glass base. And meanwhile, the maternal service flowed. The misunderstanding boy writhed in the quandary of two necessities—loving this woman and being hurt by her. The hand of the gay God was still too strong on him; he did not know that these two elements—love and pain—must be rejoicingly accepted. Often, his mother spoke of how her children had made her suffer.

“You can never know, my boy, what a mother goes through, for a child.”

Such remarks also, were designed to instil love and veneration. But again, the gay God intervened. The idea of pain still horrified the boy. Its perversion into a boast still filled him with disgust. He would fain have had it that motherhood be joyous; that the best things be the happy things of life. His mother’s lugubrity in speaking of her works of love struck him as sacrilege. And to a gay God, it was.

Quincy was simply not grown-up. But it seemed to Sarah that in matters of sympathy and feeling, he was strangely backward.

“I should like to be able to talk to you like a man, my dear. You are no longer a child.{202}

And through divers thrusts, Quincy learned what she meant by this. To be like a man was to be moved by ugly things—like business and money and machinery. To be like a man was to be edified by things not only ugly but wrong,—like pain, and that murder of self called sacrifice. To be like a man was to agree, in everything, with a battered, complaining woman whose drowned violet eyes had always been a mother’s. He looked at her. He tried to understand and to consent. But it was revolting work.

“Think of the privilege your father has given you,” she said, “in letting you grow up in New York.”

“Mama—New York is ugly!”

“It is the center of the greatest country of the world,” Sarah replied. “Isn’t that of importance?”

Quincy was moved by her eloquence. Perhaps, that was of importance. Yet something in him mutely stirred negation. He was impressed. But he could not agree. And this conflict fevered him.

“An ugly metropolis is less important than a wild-flower!” he cried, stung to inspiration by his failure to express himself calmly.

Sarah smiled. She had lived among wild-flowers; she knew. She had drudged among them; sweated among them; wanted among them. She was angered by such dangerous illusions in a son of hers.

“My dear—you are talking nonsense. You’d do far better to grasp your opportunities, than to go wool-gathering—like a poet.”

“I am not a poet,” Quincy defended himself.

“That’s precisely it, my dear.” Sarah rose on her pillows and leaned toward him, taking his hand. Her skin was very grey and rough beside the whiteness of her night-gown and the smoothness of her bed-{203}clothes. Brown streaks robbed the grey in her hair of dignity. It was drawn close over her scalp and a single, poorly braid was caught up and fastened at the back. Her arms were bone and her throat was a rugose mass of folds that lacked even the pomp of fat. Sarah was an old wreck for her fifty years. And Quincy looked at her. He was no physiognomist. But it pierced him that his mother was an ill argument for her own ways of living.

“That’s just it, my dear,” Sarah repeated. “You’re not a poet. You’re an ordinary person like the rest of us. We’ve got to get our beauty—not in wild flowers, but in all this—” she waved her tortured hand about the room and let it fall on the rich linen.

“If your skin were more white and smooth, little mother,” Quincy thought silently, “I wouldn’t care if the bed-clothes were of coarse cotton.”

His mother was still speaking. “You must work hard, dear. You must prepare yourself to get along in the world. You know—you mustn’t expect too much from your father. He will give you an education. But remember, there are five of you. And, of course, Marsden and the girls will deserve most of what little there is. Only by working now, my dear, can you earn the comfort and time to do your day dreaming later.”

“And when my skin is yellow, I also will have white linen,” the boy thought to himself.

Oh! he demanded so little. And all the plenty that was forced on him contained not that little. Everywhere, about him, above him, that little was. Yet, he could not reach it. He did not know how; he did not dare, even if he had known! For it seemed to{204} him that all the world of men was a conspiracy against his having this mite he needed, this mite that had once been strewn through all the world and that now, only the despised were left to revel in. And he did not dare. For, vague as his knowledge was, he saw that the arch-conspirators against his having it were those he loved. To gain his little would be to wound these loved ones. With the thought, his heart broke in two.

So Quincy merely sat there. And finally, he allowed his mussed head with its flood of delicate black hair to fall on his mother’s faultless linen, where her old hand could stroke it. And in this posture of strain and of devotion, the woman that gripped his soul as once her womb had gripped his body, gave forth the poison-nourishment that he drank in. When was he to be born of her, again?

“Quincy, my boy,” she said, “there are so many ways for you to change, that it gives your mother a big pain to think of them. You must be thankful for these pains, my dear. A mother’s suffering should be a treasure and a reminder of duty, that you should never forget.”

And the old, weary canons of a herd-race, hedging in its deformities and greed against the flaming grandeur of a nature it has denied, were vented to make this child conform, in whom a tinge of the old gaieties and loves still dared to linger. A mother’s advice! How stubborn is the strength of man, that through these generations man’s tender sprouts should have outlived a mother’s advice! By the old laws, she bears her child—the old laws of nature and of joy, of fertility and courage and abandon. And by the new laws, she rears him—the laws of compromise{205} and pain, of soul-oppression and cowardice and cover. And by the fair love of the first law, she presses her advantage for the law of the herd that claims her creature as a slave. A queen, conceiving in her regal bed, enslaved and giving birth to a slave-child. Here is the cycle of most women.

Quincy held his head low as his mother admonished and advised him. It was all still dim and uncertain in his mind, why these things seemed wrong to him; why they revolted him; why the common wisdom and love of his mother should be despised. Quincy did not understand, as she went on, how apt it was that his head should be held low.

A glimmer there was, in the Pattern—he saw that, later—of the truth: that he had been so moved that day, only because the woman who spoke was his mother. Quincy knew that she was stupid; that she parroted her moralities and arguments; that mentally, she was a slave of the herd-leaders who cared no whit for either of them. He saw, then, the fallacy in this: that by reason of a mother’s love, he should have hearkened to a plea voiced for a vast, impersonal machine to which he mattered nothing save as a conforming cog. Of course, that part of his mother was also such a cog. It had no right to exploit the bonds of the real mother who knew and cared for no machine.

All this bred resentment. And there began for Quincy the period in which he despised his mother, judged her ruthlessly and had little thought for her when she was not about.


His father came in at four. So Quincy left for a walk.{206}

That walk was in the Pattern. But when he traced back his feelings for his father, he could not fix, as in the other cases, upon some event of this fortnight that lodged within him as a form. Thought and emotion about his father rushed back with an indefeasible momentum to the days of Harriet, to his running away or to the nights when he was sent up, a-tremble, through the hollow house, to bed or on an errand. As he traced back, now, for signs of his father that were alive, all he caught up was that his entering on that afternoon had spread a surface of great toleration upon his mother’s words. He had gone forth in peace with her. Perhaps, he recalled enough of the old days to feel that she might need his sympathy, being alone with her husband. There had been such times.

Quincy had cold crisp hours for his walk. He went northward in the Park. At first he had had a qualm. He had told his mother New York was ugly. He had escaped to sophistry and metaphysics in order to prove with Garsted that it was beautiful. It did not occur to the boy that since in both cases he had been sincere, he had no cause for worry. He racked his brain in order to find out in which instance he had said the truth. And to his mother, he felt the debt of an apology. But it occurred to him how ludicrous it would be to beg his mother’s pardon on such a subject. She would think him wilder and more scatter-brained than ever. Doubtless, she had long since forgotten his remark. At least, she attached no importance to it. This aggrieved Quincy. And in his new-born resentment, he forgot about inconsistencies and pardons. Soon, he was engrossed in the City.

This was at the point where the Park ends and{207} Eighth Avenue begins afresh, with a new acquisition in the clatter and grime and darkness of the elevated structure. During his swift walk in the Park, it had been simple to cogitate upon himself. The Park did not hold Quincy. It was a rough, varied and knotted expanse of dirty snow and gaunt, dwarfed trees. It had none of the mystery, none of the tonic, of a winter woodland. It was a large back-yard of the City. Through it, cut wide, cleared swathes for City vehicles and narrow ones, less cleared, more tortuous, for those inhabitants that went on foot. There were few people, though the day had been bright. It was too cold. New Yorkers suffer such inclemency of life that the least inclemency of weather rids them of spirit. So Quincy had advanced through the Park without a thrill of nature. Though he was a messenger of her spirit—he who ran bare-headed through the woods—this cut-in mass of rocks and trees had no voice for him. The girders of steel and stone that on all sides bound the Park have smothered the soul which that fragment of forest must once have had. Central Park is a half-dead thing, at best. Its winter snows are grey; its summer trees are grey; its autumn fever is a wasting chill without the flame. Some day, inevitably, this must be true also of the great Park in the Bronx.

But now, on the noisy Avenue, matters were different.

Quincy recalled his feeling that the City’s life spoke to him. Night was there. Most of the shops were closed. But beneath the blinds of the saloons, lights shone and a welcome winked. In the tall dun buildings, all enterprise seemed choked like the space, into a rigid ever-recurrent form. The movement on the{208} Avenue was dogged, outcast, heavy. But its dullness did not penetrate behind the brick and plaster. The trains crashed past angrily as if they had preferred to linger, and also watch. Beneath the structure, the lights seemed badly nourished. Those in the houses were of a yellow that suggested malady and poison. It was the life throbbing in these that spoke to Quincy. What did it say?

Something he had heard before: something he had already suffered. Again, there was the strident tongue of metal and the lips that bled. Again, the lips lay quiveringly forward, piteous and eloquent, while the tongue lurked back and darted forth in the swings of pain. And behind the mouth were words; below the rhythm was a music, as fire is beneath the smoke.

It was his own experience; it was his family; it was his life. All of the City spoke it—sang it—the obscure, muffled rooms, and the frangent traffic; the glimmer of breath in the dark hallways and the flash of commerce on the elevated structure, as a train met ice with its current. The entire symphony of twisted, agonizing life, bent upon false errands, hungering with false lusts, deforming the red heart of nature, spoke out to Quincy. And that which he heard was that which he already knew, that whence he had come bleeding and whither he must return to bleed some more.

And so, with subtle intertwinings, this vast impersonal life and his own narrow living became one, as the Pattern whirled.

There were many other salient parts of it; many other clarified events, as he traced back. And the veins and curvings were to dispart and spread and{209} multiply. But even the tight seed was a weighty form, lodged in his mind....


Greatly increased with the new year, Quincy had returned to college.{210}


At this point, Fortune resumed a hand. She had been singularly absent in Quincy’s life since her intrusive visit of his first two years when the fate of the two eldest children, the accident to Marsden and the Burt finances had so obliquely glanced against his own. From then, his life had been pure enough of hazard to be in that regard exceptional. For hazard is the term we apply to striking moments; and each life by its own testimony, is replete with such. But now, upon his return to college, after that purging and clarifying fortnight, an apt facilitation came to his affairs. The Deerings gave a party. There were about a score of guests. And Quincy was among them.

He was the one member of his class to be invited. Garsted was his sole haven from the social waves. And Garsted, having other friendships there, had other responsibilities. In consequence, the boy was somewhat lost. The gathering had the proclivity of breaking up into small groups, discussing in hushed and exclusive tones. Over these fragmentary units, the clear loud laughter of Professor Deering rolled at times, himself the heart of the largest fragment. Quincy was afraid to make himself one of this, since his relation with Professor Deering might be so easily abused. He did not know how to join with any of the others. So not long after the onset of the evening, there he was dangling, miserable at first, then conscious of his misery and at length fearful lest this{211} consciousness in him project to those about him and so crystallize his discord with them. In this state his hostess rescued him.

He had scarce noticed her before. She was a much used pigment in the bright picture’s pallet. But she had scarcely been a figure. Her general affability with her reserve kept her from distinctness. But now he saw her coming, directly toward him. Her air was not that of a rescuer. She seemed to be saying: “I know you are having a splendid time without me. But I’m greedy. I’m not having a splendid time without you.” This was half the battle. She began casually and soon they were seated together. Fitfully, others joined her. But he alone remained. She left him to persuade an eminent pianist to perform. But she returned to listen to the music. The artist played several complex pieces—modern—that stirred Quincy potently.

“I can’t understand that music,” said Mrs. Deering.

“I’m not trying to,” he said, “I get all relaxed and then it comes in and—understands me.”

This answer seemed to impress her hugely.

“That was an infinite answer, Mr. Burt,” she said. And, then, the pianist joined them. He was introduced to Mr. Carvalho. And his remark about the music was repeated, as a gem, word for word. In her mouth, it rang profound. Mr. Carvalho, also, was impressed.

“Probably, you compose?” he asked.

The bringing in of the pianist meant the loss of Mrs. Deering, who left now, and did not return. There had been fully half-an-hour of her company. And the energy which she had aroused propelled him happily through the remainder of the evening. As soon as he{212} was free of Mr. Carvalho, to whom he had absolutely naught to say, and who forsook him as soon as he politely could in order to trail after Mrs. Deering, Quincy crossed into the study where the Professor held an intent group.

At the rear of his room which Quincy, of course, knew, the door had been thrown open into a smaller chamber in which stood the piano. This was Mrs. Deering’s. It was rather closely furnished and fully ornamented. It contrasted strikingly with the naked, larger room. Here they had sat—close to the music. Quincy did not catch many details on this occasion. He recalled a languid couch, littered with barbaric cushions—the modern German school—and bowered by a canopy of orange silk that turned the blue base below it into a liquid marine color. He recalled several cozy arm-chairs wherein guests were ensconced deeply, a tea-table of Japanese wood upon which was a case of cloisonné. Out of it, the guests took cigarettes. This was essentially a setting for the hostess. Her figure, thin and tense and simply draped in a dull violet dress, stood out nobly in this rather lavish mass. Even so, the generous and ample form of the Professor was well marked against the scant rigor of his study.

Quincy found him sprawling in a Windsor fan-backed chair—an old spindle of oak. One heavy leg was thrown over the side, the other curled up on the seat. His evening clothes, which were a bit too tight, had the semblance of broadcloth in the soft haze of the candles. The Professor puffed on a rich, red briar pipe.

“Bring a chair up—right here. There’s room,” he hailed him from a distance.{213}

As he came, Quincy felt a strained pressure about him. These half-dozen men had banded themselves into a unit, designed for the momentary purpose of enjoying the big man that sat among them. Tacitly, unconsciously they had grown together; they felt together; they gave out a voice together. Their vibrance murmured adversely at this intrusion. They were a crowd, conservative, greedy like all crowds. A primitive mist came from them. Behind, in the other room, such groups were also—fashioned for their own delectation, to enjoy their hostess or some other person who had something to give out. Everywhere, Quincy felt these subtle bands, these correlated breathings, these intense concentrations of many energies upon some little temporary point. He was unused to gatherings. He could still understand them. But he could not understand himself. There was no hint in him of why, alone after his half hour with the Professor’s wife, he had gone straight toward the Professor.

In Quincy’s mind remained the print of these two rooms, undulant in their candle-glow, where many persons sat, restrained, vital, softened only by the tremor of the lights, subdued by skin-deep custom; yet eager, all, for acquisition and enjoyment to a degree that rubbed menacingly close to the frailties that hemmed them in. In his mind was the great, sanguine figure of the Professor, dominating, laughing at this little crowded drama; was the sharp, nervous body of Julia Deering, a-field in it, like some splendid animal that furrows. That was all.

But Garsted told him that he had acquitted himself with honor. And that Fairfax and Littleton had asked about him....{214}

During the rest of freshman year, the boy was at the Deering home perhaps six times. Outside, he saw the Professor seldom. But no more was needed to establish him as idol in that youthful sanctuary. Garsted, of course, was the high priest. And though the ultimate presence was but briefly, and then scantily, approached, Garsted was always there. The junior had constant recourse to Mr. Deering in his work. Also, he was a friend of Julia Deering. This was an added bond for Quincy.

“I knew her when she was Julia Cairn,” he told him. “She is of old New England stock, but her parents had so little sense of fitness as to permit her to be born in Omaha, where they had settled. She’s been married only three years, you know. From private school in New York, she went to Paris. No—she did not study there. She has never studied, that I know of. After Paris, she returned to Omaha! Actually! And stood it two years. By then, she had been made president of so many women’s clubs and circles, forcibly—you know her opinion of such truck—that she escaped to an aunt in Bangor, Maine. From cellar to refrigerator. Next, she came to New York and began to work.”

“I thought you said she had never studied.”

“She never did. But she worked. She got a job as teacher of English in the private school which she had graduated from, five years before. Without a degree, without anything very much, except her power to get anything she desires. Her knowledge in English literature is rather rudimentary. But she had read tremendously in French and Spanish and Italian.”

“Why, then, didn’t she get a job in one of these languages?” asked Quincy.{215}

“I don’t know. Except that Julia Cairn never did what was expected, any more than does Julia Deering now. It was down there I heard of her and met her—at a silly tea, which she veined with gold. A friend of mine, Betty Robinson, used to tell me about their amazing lectures in English literature, delivered by a Miss Cairn. It seems her course was devoted to a systematic proof of the inferiority of English letters to the French. Think of it! In a respectable private school. And her adoring principal never minded. While the girls in their French course were reading Erckmann-Chatrian, Halèvy, Ohnet and other fourth-rate writers, she, in the English department, made them acquainted with Flaubert and Balzac, Zola and Stendhal, so that they might see for themselves how unutterably second-rate were Eliot and Thackeray. She made them read the Englishmen. But she made them love the real European literatures. In that way, she justified teaching what she had often told me she deemed a language that has been ‘decadent since the time of Swift.’ Lead up to these things, yourself. She’ll tell you.”

“And what happened then?” Quincy was not interested in a decadent literature.

“She taught in that one school until the principal, Doctor Tomley, went and died. She was twenty-six, then, at least. Although I’m not sure of her age.”

“Did she lose her job or leave it?”

“She says she was told to go, by the new man who had been assistant master and who probably, in that menial position, had learned to hate her. I am convinced she could never have found another school to tolerate her original ideas of the duties of an English teacher. But she did not try. She insists she could{216} have won over another principal, had she been forced to. It is highly probable. Certainly, Dr. Tomley had agreed with none of her views. And yet, he kept her there. At all events, the boast never went to the proof.”

“Well?” Quincy was impatient.

“Well, one fine day, she married Deering—bless his great soul. That’s all. And came up here.”

Here, somehow, with the entrance of the Professor upon the scene, Quincy’s real interest began. But his friend’s news ended.

“I know nothing about that, Quint,” he smiled. “One never really asks Julia Deering anything. One inclines toward a subject. And if she inclines back, one gets something. On the subject of her personal life, she has always declined, with a firm sweetness. I have no idea, even of where they met or how. No one else has, either. I suppose,” the upperclassman threw a cigarette out of the window and reached for a pipe, “I suppose they were married and will live happily ever after. Julia Deering is so damned exceptional that it will be just like her to do that most commonplace of things.”

“Is living happily ever after really commonplace?”

“Well,” Garsted laughed, “if it is rare, she is all the more sure to do it. So I’ve got you, either way.”

On the campus, however, there was a legend about this pair. College men have myths for their distinguished teachers. But like all myths, this one expressed exclusively the myth-makers; and it was Garsted’s conviction that there was no truth in it save as a commentary on the undergraduate state of mind.

It was this: that the big, gentle man who was over{217} forty when the marriage happened, had been proposed to by correspondence. The letter was so brilliantly couched, its choice of phrases was so concise, so just, so Greek, that the scholar wired to the writer to appear at once. Julia Cairn came on the following train and they were married that afternoon by the college president, who was a minister of the gospel. The legend went on to relate that the writer of the happy letter was not Mrs. Deering at all, but one of her girl pupils. This beautiful but anonymous victim had been caught by her teacher writing in class. Her letter was detected and confiscated; later on employed with slight corrections, to fit the purpose of Miss Cairn. Since the Professor’s discovery of his wife’s plagiarism, the myth concluded, the pair’s lot had been a miserable one. But Mrs. Deering was too dominant to be got rid of.

Of course, Quincy laughed at this legend. But its conclusion—that the marriage was unhappy, that the great man had been betrayed, that he needed sympathy and rescue—stuck attractively in his mind. For this very reason, perhaps, he failed to see how the myth reflected the student body’s general emotional condition. As Garsted told him, since his state also was reflected by the myth, there was no mystery in his failure to psychologize it.

It was plain, all of that freshman year, however, that strange conflicts raged in the boy about the Deering household.

“She always comes in and bothers him,” he remarked. “And the minute she comes in, he tells her just what we’ve been talking about.”

“He knows you don’t mind,” said Garsted.

“But I do!{218}

“Will you stop confiding in him? Doesn’t that prove you don’t object?”

At length came an hour alone with her.

“Come in to see me, some afternoon,” she called to him from the stairs, as the Professor and he sat in the study. Later, as he was leaving, he found her watering the flowers. She was dressed in a frock of faint rose. A bonnet hid all of her black hair. Her hands were covered with sod.

“Come next Monday, Mr. Burt,” she said, scarce looking up from her work, and not in the least anxious as to an answer. Quincy found it awkward to accept to the back of her head. So he went on, without a word, perfectly aware that he would be expected.

His anticipation of the visit was perturbed. He was fearful of what it would entail. He was unwilling to leave it to hazard. He improvised their dialogue; he edited his inventions and kept constantly transforming them. All of his fancies were delightful. In them, he impressed Mrs. Deering greatly. And in the later ones, when he gained courage, she told him that she liked him more than any other of the students. She confided in him what she had kept hidden from Garsted—the secrets of her life. Quincy did not go into details with this. He thought he might best leave that to her. But at the end, he went completely disgusted with himself. He knew that the reality and his imaginings would not agree. In his own fancies, he had exhausted the pleasant possibilities. Infallibly, therefore, that which was going to take place could not be pleasant. As he rang the bell, he felt that he had injured the prospect of a happy time by imagining that happy time. And then, as she opened the door{219} for him, he forgot his speculations. He began living in the present.

Before the summer, there were two more tea hours with her. Each of them stood alone. No word uttered at one could ever have been confused with any word uttered at the others. Yet, despite their clearness, they were indissoluble. They lay together in Quincy’s mind as the boundary to a great and vague impression. The vague impression was first; behind, remoter, were these clear visits. As the boy envisaged them, it was as if, before them, Julia Deering had not existed. Instinctively, he accepted this: that before them, she had not existed, although his reason told him otherwise. And of course, his reason did not count. In like fashion, does a primitive people accept a day and an event when the world began. Its reason also, had it been consulted, would have judged otherwise.


“Why am I interested in the household life of a philosopher? Why do I resent his wife yet dream of her? Why, when I dwell on his perfections, does she seem to mar them? Why, when I let her vision come does his seem to dim? What business are all these things to me? I am a protégé of Professor Deering. Each year, out of the incoming mass, he selects a few like me. I have interested a woman happening to be his wife, who, being an interesting woman, is naturally capable of interest in another. There is nothing more. Yet my mind goes—like fingers picking rags—hoping for a fabulous jewel; tremulously. What is wrong with me?”

These questions Quincy put to himself, as the sun mellowed and the spring burst forth from the brown earth and the haggard trees. Quincy took them with{220} him on his country runs. The ground was damp with moisture. Maple buttons stood on the long twigs. And as he ran or sauntered or reclined on a dry rock, garlanded in the shoots of little elms and oaks, the question rounded like a fist, hardened and struck him silent.

All of that spring this phenomenon was repeated. There would sprawl the questions, pricking or stroking him—no more. Suddenly, a vital force would encompass, then compress them. They would become a fist and strike him. He would startle, resist, give way. And then, as suddenly, the fist would once more disintegrate. Again, there would be relaxation until the following blow. All of that spring, moreover, there was no conclusion.

Certain things were plain enough.

Professor Deering was the greatest man in the world. His friendship was priceless. But Julia Deering was the first woman in the world willing to consort with him. Was that less a treasure? And why should it be? Why did some sickly sense within him tell him of a conflict between these two possessions? He had a mind; he had a soul. Did these two possessions menace one another? Perhaps that explained the mist about the two new human elements. But with all this, the boy’s head hurt. And his mind helped him out, through some centrifugal tangent.

There was nothing really personal in the relation of Quincy and Julia Deering. There was nothing really personal in the relation of Quincy and Lawrence Deering. The personal, in either instance, was the boy’s contribution. The man believed to have discovered in him a mind; he had not gone far enough yet with him to view this, save as a specimen, as a relief, perhaps,{221} in his work. The woman thought to have found in him a spirit. She also had not gone far enough to adventure there, preferring to bring it up within the scope of her own play. Quincy, quite with an equal egoism, had subjected these to his own lights. But his lights were feebler than their medium. So it was he who was refracted, rather than they who were transfigured. Quincy was the suffering one; for Quincy was the changing one.

All this was a whirling in the dark for him. He understood so little. His year at college seemed so sounding a failure. What had it got him?


He sat on a rock, panting for breath, from his run up-hill. Columbine and azalias flourished about him. The fresh hum of insects deepened the glow of last autumn’s leaves, heightened the clear tenderness of the anemones. A great oak twisted above him on its tortuous way to the sun-flushed sky. Numerous little oak trees with fresh red leaves, most of them doomed to perish, ran riot with the other foliage in the cleft where he sat. Solomon’s seal and chestnut sprouts, liquid patches of wild violets, geranium and slender sprays of the wild grape with its leaves ruddy red and velvet green, shared his nook with him. Below swept the valley, splashed with dogwood, an infinity of greens and rose-bathed white. Through all the woodland, the wind raced daintily. A copse of aspen swayed in a complex unison, while the sun danced counterpoint on the leaves. Blossoming fragrance and a humid acrid strain of fecund life waved over him. The sky came down, its blue burning upon him. And beyond, the sun slanted westward, bursting well up in a haze that consumed its less gentle fires.{222}

So garrisoned, Quincy met himself, and sought an accounting of his year in college. The boy frowned. And the day’s grandeur went over him like a rich garment over a soiled body. He shivered for it. He was ashamed. He understood nothing save his own impotence. He felt nothing save his suffering. He was nothing, before a universe of splendor. Family and friendship, fellowship and duty—in all relations, he seemed slipping, tottering. There was no name for what he was, since there was no name to describe anything within his life. He was unsure of qualities at home. In the house of college as in the house of Deering, he was uncertain. He was a nameless thing. And all the nameless things that touched him, for want of appellation, faded to naught or turned against him; all things save this one thing that grew greater without a title: his unhappiness.

The sun sent a spear of flame through the haze. It gleamed on his face, as he sat there, gazing with steady eyes. His eyes were in shadow. Deep purple they were, a pathetic counterpart of black. The lashes lay long about them. On his mouth were myriad little nervous frets, such as make up a pathetic counterpart of smiling. Quincy turned his eyes toward the falling sun. They glowed now, a limpid blue. And the black lashes were bronze. And the moist mouth opened and grew strong.

Meanwhile, however, the sun was falling.{223}


Quincy was not very well, that summer. He had always been hardy. His supple muscles, which he could trace ridging beneath the white skin of his arms and shoulders, had seemed a barrier to trouble, despite the delicate tension of his nerves. Even on this occasion, he was not really ill.

He had caught cold in the woods. Often, although he did not tell the doctor this, he would throw himself prone on the moist soil and fling his head into a tuft of verdure, where he could absorb the incense of new-born things. Often he would clamber on a tree—an apple tree groaning with blossoms was his predilection—and lie there, across a branch, arms balancing his weight, until his eyes grew heavy and he had to go, lest sleep tumble him down. Or—this was a new discovery of that spring—he would find a sudden cleft on a high bench above a brook, made smooth and sweet with the last season’s underbrush. Seating himself at its head, he would slide down through brambles of blackberry and over clumps of moss, arms waving, head bare. Running hatless in the rain was an ecstasy that even he was wary of. But more than once that spring, with the rain pouring, his head grew waterlogged with lessons and meditations—neither of which he seemed able to bring to a conclusion. He would throw himself from his desk, board a trolley to the outskirts of the town and trudge forth on the muddy road until there came a space{224} where there was no one in sight. Then, off would come his hat, and like a wild thing vaguely aware of trespass, he would cut into the drenching fields, bare-headed, ardent, until his body glowed and his feet weighed like lead. Then, with his face down he would return and silently change his clothes.

But about this spirit of a faun was after all the body of a man. Congestion and inflammation fastened on Quincy. The doctor made a long face, gave him a diet and told him to stay as much as possible on the porch.

Needless to say, the Burt household moved from the sweating city every June. Summer torridity in New York is an unnatural thing. It does not come gently like the fires of France or Italy. It is as if the monstrous city had been rushing, rushing, rushing—all of the winter. At last it got overheated. That was the summer. Only a very young and healthy person can rush himself into a sweat and husband his good nature. New York’s overheatedness is angry. So those that can, leave her alone, until she is cool again and ready for another rushing.

The summer house of the Burts on this occasion was an old splendid mansion hidden in three acres of uncultivated woodland. It was but an hour from New York. From the macadam highway where the motors flashed continually by, a rustic road led past a fence and a tiny wooden bridge. The bridge was over a thread of brooklet. Thick shrubs smothered it from sight. And all of the gentle green things here were stained with dust and matted with gasoline. The road ran a hundred yards, between great oaks and willows. Here, shielded splendidly, was the house. There were great white pillars. The forward wall was brick.{225} The porch was broad and open. And within, the high-ceilinged, ample rooms were perpetually cool. Rambler roses, petunias and canna surrounded the porch, above which on either side were frames for wistaria and grape-vines. From the porch one could hear the crash of the motors, glimpse their dust. And in the evenings, their lamps shot into view, flooded a space of foliage and then clapped away. This did not interest Quincy—although it was Marsden’s chief delight. But at the house’s rear lay a thick, brambled bit of forest—a complete miniature of nature. Within a few acres, the boy discovered rocks and hills, valleys and rivers, a settlement of birds that made symphony each night over a sunken pond where the frogs croaked, and a dingle utterly enclosed in elder-bushes where a space of grass lay sweet and gentle, in contrast to the riot of rough foliage without. Here he could steal away and be as well secluded from alien sight and sound as if home were in another State—save when the wind brought him his mother’s voice, scolding the servants in the kitchen.

“Look here, little East Wind,” he would scold in turn, “are you turned traitor, to bring me that?” And straightway, the wind would curl about the willow tree, and giggle a bit and stop.

He had been gazing at that tree a long time—and many times. His dingle sloped somewhat so that, for comfort, he had always to lie facing one way. That way was nearly west. And it brought the willow full into his vision. Of a sudden, this struck him as a portent.

“Oh, great willow tree,” he asked, “is it on purpose that I must always gaze on you and see the sun fall through your fingers?{226}

A bright red bug with purple stripes, round and fatherly, had climbed on his cuff. Presently, it jumped off in his palm. He held it up and as it trudged toward his finger tips, it too faced westward.

“Admire the sun, little bourgeois!” Quincy commanded.

Of a sudden, the bug hopped away. There had been no food on his palm, for it.

“You refuse to admire the sun?” said the boy, thoroughly serious. “Well, you’re a lucky little bourgeois not to have to.”

In ways like this, Quincy managed to forget himself. He was alert always, for a dialogue in the woods. But a few hundred yards beyond, in the old house, he was forever still and eaten-up with moods.

Despite the real simplicity of their house, the Burts liked it. Rhoda and her husband consented to spend a month there with them. Later, during her husband’s vacation, they were going to the mountains. Rhoda’s close presence that July was of import to Quincy. His family had several more acute impressions to inject in him before its full task was done. And what with his undigested year at college still upon him, and the vague threats of a second year to impose upon a first which had not yet retired into a spiritual composition, Quincy was in a sensitive state for new shocks and for new colors. His self-constituted idylls back of the house were not all of his summer. Life in the raw came to the country with him. Nor was it ashamed, it seemed, to grate and pound and give ruthless exhibitions, even if the flowers and trees and birds did sing outside the windows.

There was an excursion into new land. And of{227} course, all of these things, new and old, while they seemed at first merely to make more mud of his problems, were really a solvent to help clear them. The new excursion came in the form of a girl—a friend of Adelaide—Clarice Lodge.

The Lodge family had a house, half a mile away, not nearly so splendid as the one which the Burts rented. But Mr. Lodge owned his house and they lived in it, all of the year. He was a lawyer, in New York—a real commuter. Adelaide had met Clarice in the city. They were not very close friends, at the summer’s outset. Nor were they any closer at the summer’s end. Adelaide, who was twenty-one, explained that she could never possibly grow intimate with a girl who was only seventeen. Withal, Clarice looked up to her and vigorously sought her out, when she learned that the Burts had leased the Frondham mansion.

That was the title of the house. It was owned by Miss Juliet Frondham, an ancient lady of an ancient stock. She was too poor to live in this mocking relic of her whilom glory. But she was too proud to sell it and too fond of it to live far away. So Miss Frondham with her maid lived in a suite of rooms in the more built-up section of the township. She kept her own house immaculate and rented it for as long periods as she could.

Two years later, this proud, poor lady—the last of her line—died, leaving a fortune of three hundred thousand dollars to her maid. Three brothers came like a storm out of Illinois. The will was contested and eventually broken. The faithful maid proved to be a villain who with fiendish cunning had turned her mistress against her entire kin. She ended in the{228} penitentiary. And Josiah Burt bought the Frondham mansion.


Into the press, then, of Quincy’s summer went these three new ingredients: a feeling of Rhoda’s married life, the tide-like load upon him of all the first year’s happenings at college, and Clarice.

The awful inconsequentiality of life, the absoluteness of each moment and the doom of never-more that lurks in each moment’s easy, gliding pace, the state of death to which inexorably each new state of life is born—these are the things of which youth happily is unaware. He plunges on like a swift runner upon a path pied with sweet flowers. He does not really know that these flowers are everything and the goal, a mere place for dropping off. He says: “These flowers are as naught, to the flowers yonder.” So he suffers them to escape past him in a blurred line of recollection. Their intimate detail he sacrifices to a distant vagueness. He refrains from fingering the down on their petals, from breathing their live perfume in order to be possessed by a monster builded of his own energy. If the truth flashed his way, he would stand still and the world would stand still. He would fear to venture and to desire. Or his steps would become the groping of a blind man in a wilderness. He would make a universe out of a single flower at his foot; not make a flower at his foot out of the universe. But the greater truth is doubtless that he should not know the truth; that he should press on unheeding. For courage is an ignorant and fresh-born thing that is wiser and older than wisdom.

July was the month of Rhoda, August the month of Clarice. Julia Deering, of course, was always pres{229}ent. There was a strange bitterness to see the un-ideal intercourse of Rhoda and her husband. Since their marriage, Quincy had seen less of them than one does of a good acquaintance. He had not accepted Theodore Cram. But in his capacity of mate to Rhoda, he had idealized him. He did not consciously idealize his brilliant sister, but in his own quality of younger brother, he had accepted her as, of course, winningly adjusted. Now, came this sordid revelation. Rhoda and her husband could quarrel with each other, sneer at each other, remain indifferent to each other’s presence, and make a pleasure of each other’s irritations! These were all little things, of course. Sarah would smile in her rocker, folding her hands and declaring that such insignificant disagreements were inevitable. Josiah did not pay heed enough even to pass them over. To Marsden, they furnished amusement. Jonas, like his father, seemed temperamentally impervious, and Adelaide, as with most things that happened in the household, would be quickly aggrieved and as quickly her unruffled self again. To Quincy, these little quarrels—that Rhoda or Theodore were the last to take seriously or to remember—were soilings of dirt on a work of art. The analogy was perfect, since the thing soiled was indeed his handicraft. But they were more: they were a source of stirring the old waters. They led to speculations about Julia Deering and her husband; they compelled painful efforts to seek conclusions and to avoid conclusions, about the generality of men and women.

It was unbearable to think of Professor Deering as so haggled and so upset. Yet, could one have guessed from the calm brow of Theodore Cram, from the{230} smooth bosom of his magnificent sister, that such things could be? Was all of the world a hypocrite? Could there be worms beneath the surface of his marble masterpiece, before even the soil marred it to the eyes?

It was a droll commentary upon justice that Quincy, at whom this couple snapped their fingers, should have been hurt by their delinquencies. Of course, in the old days, there had been murmurings at home about Rhoda. He recalled her as a child, screaming and scratching, carrying war upon Adelaide and Jonas. But always, it had been successful war—war with a quick and unqualified decision. Adelaide was always surrendering, Jonas was always being overwhelmed. That justified Rhoda. There had been a sweep of power in her place at home. She had dominated; she had wielded her sway. When she sneered at Adelaide or him, her sneer cut true. When she shot angry words at her mother, or Jonas, or her father, these words stood trembling, like an arrow, in the heart of the target. And with Marsden, there had been always a deference and a calm—like two great Powers at balance on a continent between their mutual dependencies.

Here, however, it was different. Theodore Cram did not bleed at her sneers, nor lie transfixed with her angry words. Theodore Cram could cut back and shoot back. And tears came more readily in Rhoda’s eyes than the flash of pain on her husband’s mouth. Rhoda had her match. And in the poise of this even combat, Quincy learned its pettiness and sordidness. From this conclusion, came the inevitable step: that her warfare of old must have been similarly petty, and that the woman who waged such, with such incessance,{231} must be of a measure with her battles. The boy’s brain receded before it would take on this lesson. Was Rhoda narrow and petty and mean of spirit? Had her cause of battle against them all been sordid? and her victims, the result not of her own excellence but of their own mediocrity? Here were two strong and striking observations to make lie together: that in their marital irritations, Rhoda was no more generous or ideal than her hard-hearted husband—and that, in her appearance and her charm, Rhoda was as enfevering and inspiring as ever. Could these two knowledges couple and give birth to strength in Quincy? At least the struggle of conception and the ensuing labor were painful interludes. A woman, then, could be beautiful, dominant, entrancing, yet have a soul of flint? a woman could hold one, yet by qualities that one despised? a woman could forge sovereignty at home, yet abdicate to the level of those she ruled at her maturity? What was this creature, woman? And how came it that he, Quincy, full with his eighteen years, could compute and reckon his superiority all of a forenoon in the woods, yet be a mute, inglorious thing before her glance, at lunch?

In Theodore Cram there was no longer any glamor. The man was without vision or ideals or beauty. Yet Rhoda loved him! gave herself to him! And an hour after those dark mystic hours they must have spent together, she could despise him or ignore him—he could despise her or ignore her! Was there not this ugly identity between them? And then how, viewing her husband’s pettiness, could Rhoda be deemed better? How, with these things established, could she still have power and charm for Quincy? It had sufficed merely to glimpse them to cause Theodore Cram{232} to lose his glamor. Oh! the perplexities were myriad and infinitely intertwining.

Perhaps he might have solved—or at least met them—had they led no farther than these two. But irrevocably, the perplexities flowed out to Julia Deering, to his mother, to himself. Until the whole whirled like a dizzy dream, where arms, outstretched for a firm hold, turned into gyres and spun along.

Though the act was unconscious, Quincy fixed on Clarice Lodge to solve these problems, answer these questions. She had no part in his emotions. She seemed solid and dependable to Quincy. He did not know that when she also had been drawn into the furnace of his feeling, she also would swirl with the fire and fumes. Childishly confident, he fixed on her, being unaware that at his age to attach upon another is really to absorb that other and burn that other up. Even so does flame fix on a twig. But Quincy was sure that he would learn everything from her and that his interest was scientific.

She was known as a pretty girl. And until one time when he really saw her, this had seemed the right term to Quincy. Thereafter, it appeared to him to be injustice.

It was at their house. Adelaide was below the porch, trimming the roses that had drooped too low. Clarice leaned over the porch railing. Quincy was to one side and unobserved. He had stepped out through the door. The two girls chatted brightly. Clarice led the conversation. She was coaxing her friend to admit that red was far more beautiful than blue. In a prim, white jumper, with Dutch neck, she bent her alert body downward. The pressure of the rail below her waist drew the frail cloth tight against her breasts.{233} She was bending toward the left. When she laughed—which was half the time—a tremor went through her body as if it too were laughing. When she talked, she swayed gently, her whole form together, to and fro against the railing that first ate hard upon her and then gave her up. In this way the fluted railing spokes marked out their pattern against her body. Her right knee was forward and her right foot dangled. This gave accent to her rhythm. The discovered leg with its black silk stockings, pointed with tiny, white-canvas slippers, was straight and strong and fleshless. It cut like a tangent movement to the misty sway of her body. And here, Quincy kept his eyes enchanted. In the slow, steady rhythm of her body, to and fro against the railing, while her words sparked brightly, there seemed a faint, voluptuous deliberation. Her voice was a moist crystal. The nape of her neck was a nook with tiny and bronzed ringlets. He did not see her face. But now, in the pause, the girl’s subtle sense came into play. She felt him there; she straightened and turned toward him. And their eyes met.

Both of them felt the burn of their blushing. With a soft hand, Clarice smoothed her skirt in front from the waist down—slowly. It had been very faintly ruffled. But the fact that her consciousness was there, drove Quincy’s eyes to her face, though in his quandary they had once more fallen. He did not know how to take them entirely away.

At that moment, it came about that he discovered it unjust to call Clarice merely pretty.

With a sudden fervor, he had said to her: “Will you go walking with me, tomorrow?”

She had given one peal of laughter, grown serious{234} and between the two states, replied: “Why—of course, I will!”

But if their walks, that summer, through the woods were so many wild-flowers, they were of the sort that onrushing youth could not stop to contemplate. Quincy deemed commendably mature the dispassionate way in which he set out to take Clarice. They were to be simply friends, and perhaps they might bring good to one another. The boy was sure that, had she known, his mother would have approved his conduct. But the doubting Sarah had no insight into his calm. Her eyes grew cloudy and troubled when his walks with Clarice became engrossingly frequent. On one occasion she said to him:

“Are there no young men about for you to play with?”

Quincy had seen the young men in the town’s post-office, and at the soda fountains. They were a typical group—shallow-eyed, and narrow-headed, with the manners of fox-terriers and the souls also—probably. They were the sort of boys who instinctively stiffened their necks when Quincy was about. There were no other boys—Clarice’s brother was fourteen. So Quincy’s mother should have been less fearful of this new friendship.

Adelaide found a way to express her view of it.

“Clarice is a child—a dear child,” she fell into repeating. She seemed to believe that childhood was a race. One who was once a child would remain one always. Never could the chance be admitted that there exist in Clarice at seventeen, things which would one day grow like Adelaide at twenty-one. Perhaps, Adelaide was right Perhaps, childhood is a generic quality. But, howsoever, from the days of{235} Quincy’s absorption, there was a barrier between the girls.

Clarice felt this. And being with Quincy was a way of resenting it. She was a fresh, unspoiled sprout at seventeen. Her body was tall. But her head was little and rounded and her face was rather soft in contrast to the firm, narrow lines of the rest of her. Quincy called her “Buttercup.” For her hair was gold and her cheeks were tanned and her eyes were green in the sun rather than blue.

But the unfortunate thing was that, although Quincy enjoyed all this, he seemed to be learning very little about the ultimate qualities of woman. He caught himself up at times, in his enjoyment. He seemed of the opinion that if he enjoyed himself, he could not profit. In this treasurable thought, a stain of schooling had indeed fixed on his else impervious nature.

With the heavy heat of August, when the trees turn purple and a translucent flame waves over nature and sears her gentle freshness, Quincy learned that in his rigid purpose he had failed altogether. He learned also that his mother had been silently right—just as often she had been volubly wrong. Clarice was become a part of the fire and fumes. He could not help this. But he could keep from seeing her so often. He resented her attraction. And with set teeth and a stern eye, he put a censorship upon their walks.

A few days later than Rhoda—in the height of August—Clarice also was leaving for the mountains. Rhoda and her husband approved of the Lodges.

“He is a big lawyer,” said he.

“She was a Querelton,” said she. And always, she had smiled when Quincy’s attention to a Querelton’s daughter came up to her notice.{236}

“See her as much as you can;” she advised him once. “When she makes her début next season, you’ll not be looked at—I assure you. You know,” Rhoda turned to her mother, “the Lodges are coming to live in town next winter, just so that Clarice has a chance.”

This speech rankled Quincy and amazed him. He pondered it for some time, after the Crams had gone. When his wild flower “had a chance” to become a wired thing of wax, she would, then, welcome it? and he who must stand in her spirit for the scent of the moist fern and the dancing of the brook would not be noticed?

There were a few days left of Clarice when these words, spoken at random, crystallized their effect on Quincy. It was well in the period of holding off from Clarice—and of resentment that she should have given him so little knowledge, yet occupied so fiery a part within him. At once, his ardor and his curiosity re-kindled. He sought her out for a last walk in the woods.

Clarice told him that she was very busy packing. But she would take an afternoon from her important duty.

If she was reluctant, as he called her downstairs, so was the sun that came through the pervasive grey like a little shot of fire. They went forth, and the sun gave way, altogether, before the clouds.

It was evident to Quincy that Clarice was angry at his sudden lessening of attention. He did not know that this anger might have been adduced from the fact that his behavior left a void in her heart. He thought only her pride was injured. That was why he said, by way of buttress to it:{237}

“I understand—Rhoda told me—you were going to live in New York next winter and have society.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“Are you glad about dances and parties?”

Clarice puckered her pale-red lips. “No! I shall hate them.”

“Then,” Quincy went on, gladdened, “why are you going to do it?”

“You have to—of course. Everybody does.” Clarice talked as to one who could not possibly understand. And Quincy, acquiescent in the import of her tone, grew silent.

They wandered along a neglected road, half green with grass. A barbed wire fence straggled through the opaque bushes, laden with berries. They were walking rather more rapidly than their wont. It was as if the unconscious impulse of their limbs was to free each from the other. Quincy wore a grey, soft shirt. He had flared it at the throat, allowing his blue tie to fall low over his chest. Instinctively, his fingers groped to his neck, buttoned the collar close and drew up the tie.

“I’ve packed all my rompy clothes, Quint,” said Clarice, suggesting thereby that their ancient habit of striking across fence and meadow must be abandoned for want of a fit dress.

“Well, at least don’t let us rush so,” the boy said. “This is a bully road. Remember where it goes to? Three miles of rolling country and then that farm-house where they have the buttermilk.”

“Oh, my!” said Clarice, “I can’t go that far! There’s not time.”

All of the things she said were true enough—and pardonable. Yet in her manner, she seemed making{238} stock of these unfortunate contingencies. It was this that hurt Quincy. He resolved to try again.

“Clarice dear,” he began, “if you knew why I’ve not seen you so much of late, you’d not be mad at me.”

“Who said I was mad at you?”

“Well—I meant—”

“Sometimes, you’re too funny for words, Quincy Burt,” said the girl, serious as a sermon.

“Oh—be quiet!” The boy rebelled at this suggestion of being laughed at, despite the lack of a particle of smile in her. “I’m glad you’re not mad. All I wanted to say was—was that—well—the reason I’ve seen you less is not that I like you less.”

Clarice took this in silence.

“Look here!” The boy turned to her roughly almost—and stopped walking. The girl, of course, stopped also. He was turned so that she faced him. And still, she was quiet.

“Clarice, don’t you like me, too?”

She met his face. It was very still and solemn. And the mouth quivered a bit, though he drew it close in order to control it. And the eyes were a very deep, piercing blue, indeed. It was the inevitable moment for seventeen girlish years to laugh.

“What do you think—you silly? Would I have seen you so much—?”

“Then, Clarice,” Quincy put his hands forward and broke in, so eager was he, “you will see me, next winter?”

Of course, Clarice drew back, bodily, from his onrush. And of course, her words symbolized her action. It was nothing more.

“I shall be awful busy, Quint.”

They stood in the middle of the road. It was long{239} and green and silent. A great elm, its trunk choking in poison-ivy, leaned over them. The boy grasped her shoulders and drew her toward him.

“Promise me, Clarice dear,—you’ll see me when I come to New York, next Christmas. Even with all the parties. Give me a kiss in promise.”

Her face was directly under his. And her lips were smiling. With no effort, he kissed them. They were cool and soft and pricking. It was as if he had kissed a smile. How different from this granted kiss had been the stolen one, of Rhoda! But now, her face was a little flushed and the smile was gone—as if he had kissed it away. Clarice fell back a step. And Quincy spoke though a bubble of warmth kept rising in his throat.

“That was a promise, Clarice?”

The girl frowned. “It was nothing of the sort!”

“Clarice!” he cried, in amazement.

But still she was angry. Her face was first red, then almost grey. “I’m going home,” she said and turned away.

Quincy reached for her fleeing waist and threw her back into his arms.

“You shan’t behave that way, toward me!”

“Shan’t I, though? Good-bye! You needn’t come along.” And once more she made a start.

The boy stopped her. He took her angrily and bent her backward, until her face was under his.

“If you behave like that, I’ll kiss you again!”

He kissed her—savagely. And Clarice, as before, lay there in his arms, almost unheeding. He kissed her again—tenderly. And then, he looked at her. The lips were parted and moist. Her spirit seemed slumbering beneath a covert. Only her mouth was{240} a taste of it. Her eyes were meaningless. She was not beautiful after all.

He set her up once more upon her balance.

“You have promised me now—to let me see you next Christmas?”

Clarice straightened herself. “I have done nothing of the sort.”

She spoke with a wrinkle of her forehead and her kissed mouth dryly puckered. “Next Christmas—” she paused and tilted her head vaguely up with a distant look, “Next Christmas—who knows?”

“Then why,” said the angry boy, as he followed after her, “then why did you let me kiss you?”

This time, Clarice stopped.

“Are you sorry?” she asked.

“I most certainly am!” burst from him.

Unscathed, Clarice shrugged her shoulders.

They walked to her home, in silence.

“Good-bye,” said she.

“Good-bye,” said Quincy.{241}


College once more.

It had the busy serenity of a bee hive. Its murmurous exclusiveness went against the vision of an outer world as a rebuke and a rebuff. But within the compact regions of honey and smug larvæ and pompous leaders, for those who were not really of it, however deeply in it, there was the quality of the sting.

Quincy came back, moved and settled within new chambers, and looked about him. A sophomore. The heir, that meant, of the hum and the comb and the autonomy—laden with the equally strict traditions to enjoy these and to perpetuate them. A generation of larvæ lay, already, cuddled underneath him. And without, there was the world to which no visit must be dreamed of, no glance directed, save as a place of furnishing and fodder for the hive. All of it stretched out, a mere subsidiary. Its flowers were servants, its fertility was impost to the hive. In it, as in his home, were cloying and shutting-out and a sting. These were the first impressions. They came without bidding. But Quincy was resolved not to be satisfied with such. He went forth, therefore, to look about him.

Perhaps his new instructor in English helped him as much as anything to bearings. His name was Egbert Simson. He was a graduate of the college. He had won honors in all the possible fields of it. He had{242} won his letter in track; he had served on the college monthly; he had led his class in scholarship and presided over the college branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association, He was a perfect man. And now, he was a member of the faculty. In a year, he would have his doctor’s thesis. In five years, he would be grappling toward a professorship. In ten years, he would publish an edition of the Poems of Suckling. All his life he would continue humming and honey-gathering for the hive.

Quincy came to know him, sophomore year, in his capacity of preceptor. For each student had such a one. Early in the fall term, was the time when he had to see the estimable Simson—twice in two weeks. This served greatly, together with the general impression of the class.

Mr. Simson was tall and inclined to fullness of figure. His face had once had lines, hard and aplenty. But general happiness would soon abolish them to roundness. His little clear blue eyes shone forth from their soft frames with an easy prospect, as if they knew beforehand what they were going to see—and should somewhat else be there, they would simply refuse to see it. His nose was still straight, nor had the incipient rising fleshliness of his cheeks yet undermined its shallow impertinence. His lips were of the general blown-ness that smacked often, smiled at will and were not employed when a guttural throat-sound announced laughter. Mr. Simson’s forehead was narrow and smooth and round below his sleek brown hair. His hands were fat but the soft fingers tapered gently. In all of his being there glamored fluency, serenity and an inviolable blindness. This man was one of the favorite figures in the hive. His hum was forever{243} marked and forever sought. If he had not been a male, one might readily have called him “Queen.” But even his maleness was unobtrusive, since the hive worshipped the more passive sort. Mr. Simson’s voice was soft and high. He was easily shocked and when he was, he wiggled his lissom form and threw back his perfectly rounded head. He was staid and Christian. It was meant to be quite evident that when he married the daughter of some affluent trustee, he would go to her in a state of virginity that would save her blushes. It was quite evident as well that he would never marry the daughter of any one less trustful and less affluent than a trustee. Mr. Simson lacked money. But it was known that several of his relations were financial kings. All of his friends, moreover, were as well chosen as his relations. And since he had not chosen his own father, one never heard of him. Mr. Simson, however, was far too proper not to be untiringly devoted to his mother. One heard often of that. Moreover, she had an infallible eye for trustfulness and affluence. Frequently she went along on a friend’s yachting tour with him.

On Mr. Simson’s more specific qualifications for teaching English literature, it would be sheer pedantry to dwell.

“You should see,” Quincy explained to Garsted, “with what scruples Simson discharges his duties as preceptor, toward me.” The boy laughed. “He can’t stand me.”

“I go into the study. Simson is at the desk—typing a sonnet for the Lit. ‘Oh, good day, Mr. Burt,’ without getting up, ‘and what is there this morning?’ I give him the papers. Without looking at them he signs them. ‘I am convinced, Mr. Burt,{244} they are as they should be.’ There is at least one ‘Mr. Burt’ in every sentence. I am about to leave and a qualm catches him. He smiles and when he smiles his round face breaks into two triangles with the nose as the common base. ‘Does my class satisfy you, Mr. Burt?’ he asks. As the result of that question, he tells the others at the Graduates’ Club how frankly he takes each student into his confidence—asks their advice.”

“Yes,” interrupted Garsted, “they despise Deering, but they all imitate him. Well?”

“Well—I answer: ‘Mr. Simson, why did we skip The Miller’s Tale? I think it is one of the best Chaucer wrote.’ ‘It is good,’ he answers, tapping a finger on his mahogany desk—yes, there’s a huge seal ring on the tapping finger—‘It is good, Mr. Burt, but it’s unpleasant; it is coarse. We must remember that sometimes Chaucer’s surroundings,’ I was sure he was going to say Mr. Chaucer, since he despised him too, ‘sometimes Chaucer’s surroundings got the upper hand of his good taste. Despite its matter, that tale is good. For Chaucer was a genius. He could not help making even a licentious story interesting and human.’

Here Garsted roared: “Even a licentious story! The old hypocrite! You know Simson, my dear Quint. You saw his human little eyes and his round lips and his belly—at twenty-seven! Do you think that is his real opinion of a licentious story?”

“I know it isn’t,” answered Quincy. “Several of the boys whom he cares for—Society brothers of course—were repeating some of his own jokes. I heard them.”

“Ugh—let’s have lunch,” said Garsted.{245}

Not alone diffidence held Quincy from calling on the Deerings until late October. His own turmoiled spring and summer had indeed made him unsure of himself toward them and hence unsure of them toward him. It is hard for the man whose sleep has been wracked with dreams to understand the serenity of sleep of the one beside him. So Quincy restrained his impulse to seek out the great man and his wife. He wished, moreover, to adventure a trifle more in the atmosphere of college. He seemed seriously firm and set and steady there. He enjoyed this new sensation. He was afraid lest the Deerings show up its superficial strength. This, of course, was a fear he did not avow to himself. His affairs, his reluctance to seem too pressing in his return sufficed for the admitted reasons. And meanwhile he was able to bask in his new sense of self-dominion.

Garsted had grown aware of this.

“You’re a different man,” he remarked to him; “you must have had a successful love affair this summer.”

“You’re wrong, Simon,” replied Quincy, who was so well over the skirmish with Clarice as not to resent allusion to it.

“Then there was a girl. And didn’t you kiss her?”

“I did.”

“What did I tell you?”

“Is that success?” asked Quincy.

“Rake!” Garsted misunderstood him. And Quincy blushed. Here again, it was impossible to go farther even with his dearest friend.

But at length, one evening, the need of going to the little box-frame house came over Quincy. It was at dinner. There had been six weeks in which to go;{246} yet he had not gone. And now, it seemed imperative that he must go—and that he must, at once. He rushed through his meal, half eating it. He ate his slice of beef, neglected the vegetables and then, when it was too late, found himself still hungry and gulped two cups of coffee whose heat displeased him. A great worry gripped him—lest they be out—or the evening inopportune. He might telephone; no, he did not dare to. He might wait until a surer time; no, he was not able to. He must go, this night. And if the evening was ill, so would be the omen. Was it that of a sudden, his new impression of college was digested and fresh food craved,—that, psychically, he had been released once more for living, now that the state of dormancy (called strength) was over?

Howbeit, Quincy went. He found the Professor and his wife alone and ready to receive him. And when, at eleven, he returned campus-ward through the crisp shadows, the impression of the six fresh weeks came at length to a formed consciousness within him.

In this way was that evening a peak whence he was able to look back upon the path he had just come, and forward upon the path ahead. And from its relative height, both paths were new and clear before him. Even so, as the climber stands upon an eminence does he descry for the first time the way that he has taken and view that past with the same eye of interest wherewith he peers into the future.

It was as if the boys, his classmates, stepped outward from their general hum, disintegrated and took on a clear dimension. He saw them now as a seed that the wind would scatter. He felt them as plants that a varied, self-sufficient soil would wrench to its own uses. He knew the blindness of the seed and the planned{247} frailty of this little circled harbor holding it up for the air’s sowing. He respected everything save the boys’ pretensions, save the false eternity of the fragile harbor. He saw the bloomless death that there would be, were these pretensions even tinged with the truth. He wondered at the need of these pretensions. He despised the powers—the faculty—that bred them in order to slough over their own crass sterility.

He could not hold to this sudden and veracious vision. Himself intruded. His strong impressions, so flecked and bulged, were of less value and a greater interest. Here then, was he, among the disintegrated boys—among the seed. But with that instant, he could not go on. The boys faded back into the general hum. He did not seem to stand among them, to have an independent contact with them, to be even clearly outside of them. His mind failed to view simply him and them alone. It gave no response to this relation, it left no mark to fix on, no ring to hear as a tonality.

At once, Quincy veered back to the couple he had left—and however he approached himself, there were they, also.

The evening had been auspicious. Since he had ruled—an aboriginal residue in him—that an ill evening should augur ill, surely it was right to read a happy omen from a happy time. Quincy did not hesitate. As he walked home down the silent avenue where the black trees murmurously bent upon the lights, he was convinced. His firmness and grip had not gone from him! He was elated—yet certain of himself. And all of that last spring and summer, he had been a fool.

The three had talked together. And it had been natural to remain till late. There had been no sign{248} of fire or haze or friction. As he sat there, he had seemed lifted up. The supple, blue steel of the Professor’s mind had seemed the girders of a firmament whose life-invigorating breath was Julia. There had seemed no crass way of differentiating them. Of course, one was star-metal; the other was æther. But together, they had made the firmament. And within this, he had taken breath and heart. Quincy saved himself from angry laughter at his early qualms and worries and presentiments by promptly forgetting most of them. This is a common function of forgetting—to save from angry laughter. He had blithely become unaware of the intangible misgiving which like a cancer, for all its formlessness, had gnawed into the marrow of the months preceding. He had launched upon an era of confidence and dreaming. He had no inkling of the sheer dogged resolution it had required to swing his rumbling energies from their near concrete pasture into those hinterlands of fantasy and rationalization. He did not guess that this sudden melting of past worries was caused by the laborious effort of his spirit to transform itself from the true state in which such worries could be prompted—that his fresh certainty of life was due to a quick leap from the realities which must be doubtful, to dreams fashioned at will to exclude doubt. The realities were to have their revenge. The dreams, formed as an escape from them, were to be found fitless and wanting. Meantime, however, Quincy tramped bravely down the shadowed street.

Of course, much truth lay in this fresh construed idealism; much health was in this sublimation of his energies. No long process in human nature can omit any part of human nature. A pondered crime has, in its texture, whatever of good or truth the criminal con{249}ceal. A deed of service hides all the infirmities and selfishness of the noble man. So, this long grown flower in Quincy, blossoming now in a period of exultant confidence, had come not only from his need of harbor for himself and of translating a truth to fancy, but as well from his rich fund of spirit and his deep strain of nature. His dream as he nursed it, now, was in good sooth extravagant. But the wildest dream has its root in the truth; and the most mendacious is a mere branching out from a confession.

Quincy, then, with his second year at college, revelled in a philosophy. Like all personal things at nineteen years, it was very concise and pointed, left to its own ways; and very vague when he endeavored to articulate it. Quincy of course could not admit this to himself. So when Garsted was dubious or unconvinced, he blamed Garsted’s obtuseness to spiritual things and withdrew farther from the realities.

The authorship of Deering in most of his ideas was manifest. The Professor was welcome in this capacity. Quincy did not object to a descent from such. Of course, Julia had no conscious part. He was the steel; she at best was color. He knew her now as a splendid woman, as a fit mate for a great man. That he had ever doubted this fitness or this harmony or this completeness was as far from Quincy as the once real days when he had lain as a center-presence in his crib. Yet, all of these truths remained. He was, of course, like all of us, still a center-presence to himself; he was of course, like all of us, a doubter of the otherness in a thing desired. But for the moment these truths were latent.

There had been real fire beneath the smoke that had blurred his past spring and summer. But Quincy was{250} in a state where fire is denied and the smoke blown off by a new draught of energy that gains its intensity through a clear heat. All misgivings, then, about the Deerings went. And went as well, his misgivings about himself, his misgivings about life.

“A new accomplishment of Quincy,” said Rhoda that Christmas; “he’s become conceited.”

The creed of Professor Deering was unmistakable. Nor did Quincy mistake it. He mistook merely himself in believing he had adopted it, because a corner of his being—his intellect—had managed to nod “Yes” to it.

The creed was big and simple like the man that lived it. It was a thoroughfaring, militant idealism, a sublimation indeed throughout the sensory gamut of fact to truth. In it, Lawrence Deering careered, and toward it loved to tender by the hand those about him who were willing. It transfigured the smallest things of life; thereby the smaller souls grew aware of it. It flowed over everything like a fine mist at sunrise, yet protruded nowheres against force; thereby the small souls were made tolerant. The Professor was not molested at college. He was not molested at home. When a barrier came against the spirit’s flow, it wafted over. It had filled Quincy like a meadow, rough with low shrubs to hold it. He was already known in his class as one of the inevitable Deering disciples. A few each year—from the class standpoint—“went wrong” this way, even as a few each year “went wrong” with women. To the busy, humming majority who never took his courses, Deering was an endemic problem. Like the poets—Browning or Francis Thompson—who write nonsense, he had a national renown. But these were their inner confessions. To{251} the world, these very philistines, in boasting of their Alma Mater, would have made much of Professor Deering.

It was, then, chiefly charged with the Professor, that Quincy began his period of effervescence. He now denied all troubles by fitting them into the scheme of “inevitable good.” He denied all evils by stalking so far beyond the mass as to catch its “inevitable harmony.” He overlooked all barriers by soaring so high as to see only the globe’s “inevitable curves.” He was radiant with the same vigor grown extensive which, while intensive, had made him gloomy. He was perfectly able, in these days, to argue the rightness of injustice—viewed in its propulsion of virtue; or the beauty of ugliness—as a part of nature’s composition. These were the days when he was consciously “vibrant to the whole” and when a deed was pragmatic instead of practical. Sex, moreover, was a germ that might “push upward into a flower”; there was an ideal conduit leading from “mortal brain to infinite mind”; matter was a “badge”; Christ’s import was not in his ethics but in his “substantiation of the spiritual,”—and before the advent of Deering the greatest men of the world had been merely steps in the preparation.

Innumerable concepts taken from the Professor and studdings of amplification and conclusion—his own part, mostly,—stood on the surface of Quincy’s soul and made faces at reality. Family became a cot he had left, finding it narrow and moist and over-rich in covers. College was a big emptiness in which a few true accents rang the more truly because of the acoustic of that emptiness. Quincy himself, it was plain, was a man of sensitive depths.

There then, were all these trappings and borrowings{252} and mind-absorptions upon the surface of his soul, grimacing at the world and hiding what lay behind from the world’s onslaught. But the world had already shot its shaft and made a piercing with its seed. It might stay out now—shooed off effectually by all these grimaces—and laugh. For it was destined to laugh last. It had done its part. Quincy’s soul, in its too late seclusion, would unassisted perform the rest. It could only guard—it could not undo—the future.

So the boy went blandly on, with his ideals and his sublimations,—nurturing, the while, the fruit of his past intercourse with life.{253}


There were sublime moments in that period—moments that were sparks for later fires and that abided with him until the end.

Professor Deering had said to him: “The atheist is a man in whom a sense is lacking.”

Armed with this, Quincy went forth into the night to be alone with it. He sought a terrain that he already knew. The road crawled out of the town at a low incline. And then, abrupt from it, rose a path over a hill that was clad thick in summer. Now, it lay naked above the squatting road—a vast blue grey, a round of briar stalks and matted underbrush that sang with his racing feet. Upon the summit was a rock that Quincy loved. From one approach it was sheer and rugged. Beyond, a cleft in it, deepened with soil, curved gently down to a copse of elder bushes. From its sheer corner rose an oak tree. Several new tufts sprang from its foot. Above twined ivy and at the top a blaze of quartz, set in the granite, made a seat so that the hill’s declivity rolled away from the eyes to a distant murmurous valley. Here, flashing in sun or moonlight, one caught the river—agleam through its thick marge of summer, or swift and sleek without hindrance for the eye when the gaunt trees of winter basketed its flow.

Upon the rock, now, Quincy sat and shivered a bit and looked up at the frozen stars and the steely pool of heaven and asked to sense God.

Everything stood in silence. The voice of the forest was in the silence like the grain in a smooth surface,{254}—perceptible but without harm to it. And such a surface, so fretted by innumerable stirrings, was the silence. Quincy huddled low, head forward, and let the silence enter and pervade him. At last he was drenched with it. And now, it frightened him no longer. He felt free, now, to career in it; since he was part of it, he could go forth beyond it and hear the voice it scabbarded. While his heart had beat against it, he had sat there, strangely afraid and alien to it all. But now, his heart rhythmed to its measure so that he heard it beat no longer. Now, his soul was swathed and soaked to its color, so that he could mount upon the silence and traverse it without sinking, and attain beyond. He and the silence were one. He, then, could know what it knew; feel the purple flame that gave it forth; and sense the slow-moving pulse of which its undulant shadows were a shroud.

With his eyes so freed, Quincy looked up, his head no longer stiffly straining forward.


And then, slowly, like the colors of sunset upon the eastern sky, it came to him. A fibre here, in his soul; a dart there, of fire, and beyond, over a space of grey, a shred of light. Until at last, like the glow of the hid sun below the land, all of him was athrob and painted with it, all of him flamed and sang and quickened to it. There against the stars; there in the deep mazes where other stars lay drowned like pearls in wine; there in that hinted ecstasy of space before which the vibrant lights were hung like a fine girdle before a quivering passion.

And below sat Quincy, breathing a calm breath, knowing no cold, no fear, no strangeness—in communion....{255}

His soul loosed within him. Without pain, it broke the bonds of body and went forth. The firm air was an illimitable path, whose boundlessness pointed one way toward that which made it as a candle’s flash, short and ephemeral. All of the world breathed and rolled underneath. All of the world and its firm atmosphere—he saw it swinging eastward, away from the night and toward the long-set sun that it must meet again at dawn. He rested above the rock and above the hill. But beyond him were the stars and the veiled voice, so that he also swung—back, back, back ... to meet the morning.

And so poised, in tremulous unison with the earth and the other stars, he rested—while below, vaguely, he was aware of his crouched body and his burning eyes....


A tuft of wind fingered his hair. It tumbled against his forehead. The soft bonds of his body clamped close upon his soul. Like a dream on waking, the stars retreated; and as they went, closed in to an infinitude of hopeless depth the subtle Hand that had drawn him forth with its own ecstasied advance.

He sat there, cold under the heavens. A fresh wind pierced him. He shivered with it. He arose. He sought out the squatting road that tumbled back into the town. And he was glad to find it; glad of the vulgar lights that blinked against the noiseless houses, glad of the rattle of the car that brought bed nearer.

Like a magnet had the Hand drawn from him that which could be at home with silence and the stars. And like the tremor of a harp, the voice came on the wind:

“I keep you until each time that you seek Me. Then, shall you come forth and receive.{256}


The rift was started by a visit home.

The Burts had moved into an apartment near the Hudson. In fact, from the windows of the drawing room and sitting room one’s sight dodged several towering structures and met the river, flat and cool below the city. Beyond, rose the serried strokes of the Palisades, purple for the most part, athwart the blue haze of New York.

It was a splendid apartment and Quincy’s family had moved to it after his return to college. So this was his first view. All the old furniture was gone. Sarah and Adelaide had had a fresh start. The seven years since Harriet therefore marked their change in the new trappings. For these years had nourished Adelaide. And her word was final in all things pertaining to the household. Long since, Sarah had sighingly accepted that “she had no heart” to manage servants nor the “trumpery” to decorate a parlor. It was by savage encroachments of this sort upon her ancient territory, that Sarah’s languor and decomposition were effected. It requires intellect to be a happy idle woman.

As they sat down to dinner something in the room’s blatancy gave the boy pause—rendered cloud-like the texture of the life he had been living. The room was panelled high in oak. The inevitable favrille-glass inverted bowl loomed over the table. Above, at the ceil{257}ing, was another cluster of lights. These shed their unimaginative glow. And the chandelier was dark. It seemed menacing to Quincy, like a rich thing without a spirit. But it was indefeasibly real. There was a side-board, also of oak, cut by a swinging door, radiant with silver. Upon the mantel stood four porcelain vases which Sarah had seen and rebelliously acquired. They were the room’s rococo residue—and the sole things in it Sarah could warm up to. They shrieked with their dove-blue and their rose-pink against the room’s sombre munificence. Between them stood a chaste, dull wooden clock—by Thomas, whose every tick was a protest against its neighbors.

Quincy was oppressed once more. He wished to get away. His afflatus seemed asthmatic in this rigid air. In sympathy, he almost liked the towering porcelain vases. They, at least, with their quaint scrollings and flutings, seemed to aspire upwards. The rest of the room’s dead perfection was a dead weight downward. It lacked even the falsetto spirit of the vases. The family teased Sarah about them. And Quincy took his mother’s part. This troubled Adelaide to silence. Marsden seldom stooped to teasing, Josiah had leaned on Adelaide and Jonas was busy eating. So Quincy’s word won the day for the rococo vases.

What was this acrid reality within his mother that brooked no blinking and ate into the substance of his dreams? Why did she make something—of all people—totter within him? Was she more real than the rest of the world? He could laugh at it!

Quincy went back to college, militant more than ever against her, yet unknowing of how great a tribute this militancy was. She was indeed more real within him than the rest of the world he laughed at. For we{258} laugh only at things outside of us. The man lies who says he has laughed at himself—save his laughter be hysterical. Quincy could not laugh at his mother, for she was of him. But he could deny her, despise her, rail against her.

In this spirit of idealism, he returned to college.

And now, began the subtle dégringolade toward the great cross-road where Quincy was to meet himself. The stone that starts an avalanche need not be at the summit of the precipice. It may lie far down toward the valley. And its crumbling may unleash, farther and farther upward, stone after stone, in indirect progression, until the top be loosed and the whole mountain-side crush downward. But long ere this the lowly stone that started will lie buried in the valley. Such a stone was Sarah.

She lay low in the slope of her boy’s emotions. And as her stirring loosed the soil above her, she was the first to be overwhelmed. Quincy had suffered a sharp, rude shock in this reality of which she was the basis—the family that he had looked on as an outgrown cradle! This reality, the juices of his dream-life could not digest. As he left home, he therefore made his effort to cast it out. All this came rationally to the surface in fault-finding. But in the effort of rejection, a shock tremored through all of the boy’s factitious structure. And this shock was to have sequels.

Julia reappeared in his dreams. Quincy instinctively feared an omen. Almost at once, Julia was no more in his dreams. He began to dream of Rhoda and of bloody scenes wherein his father suffered—nightmares in which an anonymous woman lurked vaguely, clothed in the mystery of prize and instigator. Then came a time when he could not catch his dreams at all.{259} As he awoke, there in his mind would lift a smoke of struggle. But as he grasped at it, it went and underneath was nothing.

Meantime, the year wore away. Christmas vacation happened. Quincy experienced a radiant New Year. For naught took place. His projection of dream had the æther to itself. There were no obstructions great enough to make him conscious that he was gliding—that the avalanche had subtly started. His mother had been ill and was South during the holidays. This may have saved him. But howsoever, the New Year came radiant upon its tracks of ice.


With January, there was an afternoon that revealed many things already long alive.

It was the first “tea” with Julia Deering since the last May. In Quincy’s still confident state this fact required no comment beyond the probability that she had had no inclination or no time for him, alone. Her previous favors in this light called neither for sequel nor for conclusion. He went that afternoon then, splendidly at ease, eager by anticipation to show his friend how full and serious a man he was. He knew he must impress her. And in that impress, she would see the handwork of her husband. This must delight a devoted spouse.

Quincy did not recall, even, as he rang the bell, how he had come that first time, a year since. His grip on memory was of rare efficiency. This grip it was, forsooth, that made the delusion possible of his grip on life. There was no happy mean in Quincy’s nature. He had suffered through too wide a surface of fine feeling. His memory had been too keen to suggest ways in which the present and the future might attack{260} him. Too great had been his liking to an exposed nerve. And now, there was no surface at all for life to sting, no memory at all for life to grope by, no meeting on life’s plane. He was beyond the rule of the realities. He was a boy, nursing his spirit. And no more unreal being can be found in the vast Mirage called Truth.

As he came, then, that day, to chat and perhaps clumsily gulp down his tea, a subtle streak fenced off the real Quincy from the conscious one. These two mingled their accents. To the thoughts of the one, the other expressed speech; to the feelings of the other, the first gave utterance. And at times, the lips and the hearts of each made instantaneous counterpoint. The harmony of all this was minor. A mere thread of vibrance often drew the line between them. And in such faint distinctions, voiced at once, lies discord. Music, builded upon this searching wisdom, Quincy had not failed to love, that night at the Deering party. The subtle barriers of its sound, thrown together into a stirring discord, had gone forth and understood him. Julia had not loved the music. But here, played on this gentler instrument, the same, weird, lingering detonations gripped and swayed her. At last, in his gestures and his words and the flash of his eyes, the Modern Music was articulate enough for her to hear.

From the point of her reception, of her vibration in response, life turned to red for Quincy. For it is dangerous in a boy to be as music for a woman.

But meantime, he chatted blandly and balanced his uncomfortable tea-cup and was assured of the depths of his composure.

They sat in her room. The door into the study was shut. But the Professor was out.{261}

She wore a dress of faint blue crêpe, with still gentler streakings of orange. The bodice was caught high under her arms by a double seam. Here, an elastic drew the dress close to her body. Her black hair was knotted low so that the two coils of it above her ears which he had previously noticed, were not in evidence. Now her ears were covered. The hair lay flat, cutting apart from the center of her forehead. In this way, its cold, froward whiteness and her eyes’ warm depths came to accentuation.

As the boy sat with her, a delicate aroma seemed to flow into him from her. He could almost fix its point of issuance—her tantalizing, tight corsage. It held him firmly, like a soft bond that gives but cannot break.

And as she sat with him, it came to Julia Deering with irresistible force, that here was a sensitive mind which would receive whatever she might choose to grant. It is hard to withstand this feeling—when one is dizzy with being straight—of a great, free depth to fall in. It is the sensation of the weary man before the brink of the precipice—of one whose muscles ache from holding him so long erect. Below, there lies a patch of cool waters and fanning trees. Upon the rock, the sun sears and the shadows cannot live.

A remark of his started her upon that inevitable forward lurch—the giving way to self-confession. And for an hour, Quincy heard, his eyes steadfast, as if he feared that the least movement would break the charm.

She saw him preponderant, as she spoke. And his sight was the tonal of her words. He leaned forward in his chair. His legs huddled beneath him. In one bony, knotted hand—throughout that hour—a cup{262} was held with its remnant of tepid tea. And his lank body stood out, loose and tense, responsive infinitely, yet lost clumsily within his blue serge suit. His face was a little drawn. But his eyes beat the measures as she talked, with the gentle drooping of their lids as a point went home, and with a sudden fire as she left a conclusion for his delicacy. His lips, all of this time, moved also. They would lie parted. And then, he would slowly moisten them with his tongue, purse them, as if to strangle a tell-tale quiver, and once more let them fall faintly away from his control, until again his interest parched them.

What she told him was nothing. What she made him know was fraught with fever. It was as if a burning rod had struck clear through his pretty treasury of cobwebs and scalded them away. Where they had been—gleaming in the sun of his conceit like a fine lacework—remained an emptiness that ached.

Quincy said little in response. The woman smiled at his silence and his lack of judgment.

“I must go now.” He suddenly jumped up.

She also rose. She came beside him. And the mist of her bodice came over him afresh.

“Do—if you wish to,” she said, quite close to him.

He moved toward the door.

“Good-bye,” she stopped him. Her tone had the lilt of two rhythms intertwined—a conversational happiness and a pathetic fatalism forcing it. She held out her hand.

Quincy grasped it. It was soft at the first touch, and then, in the ensuing instant, fearfully strong and masterful.

After that, he was in his rooms. He was unconscious of having walked there.{263}

Here, then, was Quincy face to face with a problem.

For what Julia Deering, saying no thing, had given him to know was that her married life had been an endless failure and that, within the great man, was a limited creature—not cruelly so, not deliberately so, of course—but yet a creature who could deny and crush and misunderstand another!

His room, waiting for him, as he entered it, had the air and nature of a mighty list. There was naught to do but to step up and prepare for battle. The pictures on the walls, the books he loved in their racks, the letter he had just received from Adelaide, the bed in the alcove—everything alive there, seemed tense and expectant, concentrated on him. He had read of ancient tournaments. Here was his gallery, looming about him, with intricate weavings of smile and scowl, a mass of emotional tangents; yet unisoned all in the word it spoke:

“We watch you, now. It is your turn.”


The first phase of the conflict lasted two weeks. It began largely with cautious measurings of mount and lance. And of course, these gained nothing. They were signs of a deep reluctance for a clash—finger-feelings and toe-feelings where the truth called for blood and body. They measured nothing.

Out of this phase, Quincy emerged, equally undoubting of Julia’s truthfulness and of Professor Deering’s greatness. And a new discretion was born in him. Why should he endeavor to solve this problem? What was it to him? He could not help. He would be broad—and ignore both sides. In this serene state, he went back to the box-frame house.

“I am afraid,” she said to him, “from the way you{264} acted, you may have misunderstood my words. I was mistaken to talk to you at all. Some of you is so old—but the conscious part of you is so very young!”

Quincy protested that he was inimitably broad—broad enough to ignore both sides. These were of course not his words. But Julia also was receiving, now, not what he spoke but what he gave her to know. They changed the subject. They talked of books and of music. She was her old commanding self. He understood what this meant: that she once more despised him.

The Professor entered.

“Hello! Hello!” he cried. “Stay to supper, Mr. Burt. Can he, Julia?”

“Why, Lawrence,—we’re going out.”

Professor Deering was caught up by this rebuke. For he knew that they were not going out. Soon, he left them.

“That was a lie—about our going out,” she said, at once, “But I am not sure, Quincy, that you quite deserve to dine, at present, at the Professor’s table.”

With this twist of her two-edged sword, she let him go.

It was all plain enough to Quincy now. His ignoring both sides had been ignorance. And ignorance meant weakness. The finger-feeling stage was dead.

Down this new slope, events continued until March. He did not return to her. He saw the Professor only casually. But the sight of either was unnecessary. There was progress without them. The conflict was really on. The boy lumbered out his musty weapons of ideals, groaningly shouldered them and so fell to, against the seething, searing inroads of the enemy.

Of course, of all this there could be no word with{265} Garsted. Quincy was inarticulate enough by nature, of his realities. But to talk of a deep thing that was still chaos in him was impossible. For silence, he did not have to lean on an ideal of chivalry. The stoppage caused by his other ideals sufficed for that. So the boy withdrew utterly. He was alone. And this he felt with a twinge of self-commiseration. His friend, also, felt something.

“My dear Quint,” he said, “you are become like a sounding cave—which gives forth from its mouth only a lugubrious counterpart of what is spoken to it.”

“Talk sense, Simon.”

Quincy was at his desk, doing a page of Cicero’s immortal tract On Friendship. His coat was on the floor near a chair where he had meant to throw it. He wore a plain white shirt with a soft collar. His chest and shoulders ridged fluently. He looked strong and at ease. Garsted sprawled, head up, mouth open, on the window seat. One leg lay high over the other knee. He was smoking a pipe.

“All right,” he said; “—what the devil’s wrong?”

“Nothing, old man.”

“Now you’ve delivered yourself of the conventional denial, dispense with the conventional ten pages of hesitation and come to the avowal.”

“I am not a character in a novel.” Quincy was incensed.

“You don’t talk enough to be a character in a play.”

“I’ll say anything you want. Only you’ve got to tell me what it is you want.” Quincy went ahead gingerly, for he felt his guilt.

Garsted rolled over to face him, on his cushioned window-seat.{266}

“Very well,” he said, “first of all—close your book.” The boy complied. “Now listen. We are going to reverse the order of examination. I shall tell you your symptoms. And you shall tell me what they mean.”

They were quite ordinary things, Garsted had found in Quincy. But they flattered him. That his eyes were given over to sudden reveries, that he spoke strangely cynical doubts about humanity, that he seemed only partially present in discussions which formerly he had entered with a whole spirit—these qualities, seen in him by a friend, resolved themselves to Quincy into an aura of mystic and romantic import. He was very happy to be so enigmatic. He began to feel that his was a beautiful dilemma. These were of course the days before that dilemma really gripped him. So he beamed on Garsted who had just accused him of being emotional in his statements and shoddy in his observations—as if he had been flattered.

“I am sure, Simon,” he said, “I can’t help you. Since you’ve done the symptoms, you’ll have to do the diagnosis also.”

“Well!” Garsted stretched, yawned and jumped up, “I guess perhaps it is nothing after all but the spring fever a month too early. Good-bye.”

And Quincy despised him for being so easily satisfied, so lightly affected at the end, in this outward mystery of his soul. Had he known Garsted would drop his inquiry so soon, he would have made his reticence more savory with a few gleams of the great truth.

Here then, he was—alone with himself, and the rustiness of his armor beginning to scratch and shriek.

He had a month of this. And when, at the end of it, a note from Julia marked still another phase, matters{267} were at least more clearly before him, even if he had not resolved them. It was a step to have reconnoitred his position,—however far he was from having fathomed it.


Plainly, his ideals and aspirations lined out before him, with the Professor as their captain and their priest. And as flatly on the other side, stood Julia with her deep heart and her still soul and her cherished charm, reaching within him also. Within these antipodes was all of him, needing, in order to embrace them all, to reconcile them and make them one. Did they really destroy each other? Did they deny each other? Did they drive home the wrongness to some part of him who craved them all? Why did the whole of him seem shaken, if any part of his possession in these two threatened to disappear? What lay beneath his grim resolve to save them both, prove them both right, prove them both one—these antipodes? If the meat of his convictions lay really in him, why this desperate need of saving them? Were they merely a treasure he loved, or a prop of all his structure? And if a prop, why should they not be steadfast, unified, as a prop must be? Why was recognizing one needfully a blow to the other? Why could he not take his treasures blindly, like the rest of the world, and forget about them?

Pathetic little gained him his unceasing questions. There in his soul, the insidious, beautiful woman and the man who embodied the one program of happiness he had ever known, seemed grimacing and threatening. In the man, he had learned a technique of happiness; in the woman found a field for exercising his new, life-giving powers. By all the laws of justice, these two{268} should smile upon each other, be supplements in an eternal concord. Yet here they were, plotting mutual destruction! And in his need of saving them both, Quincy was fighting for the one strain of happiness he had ever had. Without the way, what was the means? Without the means, how empty was the way! And more. How could he place his faith in the one, if by so doing, it destroyed the necessary other?

Quincy sensed his quandary. He must be faithful endlessly to him, in order to have faith in her. Yet, in receiving her with what she gave him, where went the faith in him? It was as if the moon, which has her light from the sun, should say:

“If you would have my light, first you must destroy the sun.”

In Quincy’s ideal world, the problem was just so unreal and just so reasonless. Yet—though he argued it away into non-existence—there it was! A sun that would not shine, save he denied the moon; and a moon that left dark the night, save he destroyed the sun through which not alone the day but herself had come to life! The petty wisdom of the savage, Quincy did not possess. For the young race, in its tactful henotheism, says by day: “O sun, thou art the one God”—and by night: “O moon, thou alone reignest.” But Quincy had gone beyond such paltry compromise. Morality and faith and an inflexible law buoyed him up. By all means and forever, his sun and moon should shine at once—and side by side—in the astonished heavens. He would have it so! With commendable courage, he set about his task.

Any little human spark may strike clear to heaven. And it is probable that heaven linked up the immemorial conflicts of the stars and of the races of men, with{269} this infinitely small yet infinitely old attempt of Quincy’s to wed what he wanted, with what he had.

Like a somnambulist, he had tasted a balm in his walking-sleep. His waking had ever been so painful! And now, again, his eyes were being opened. Surely, he would fight well for his dreams!

In March, came the note from Julia.

Professor Deering had gone to Chicago. Here, for two weeks, he was to represent his college at a conference. Quincy was bidden to dinner. He was told that they would be alone.

He went, armed with his resolution to beat down as superficial and untrue, any discrepancy between his ideal and his reality. He was eager to go, yet fearful. Knowledge had pricked him that this woman could do with him, according to her will; and that her will might disagree with his.

She received him, in a simple, straight-cut, black gown—caught up close, like all her garments, below her breast—a soft and singing thing. Quincy was in a dinner coat which he had had two years and had outgrown. The padded shoulder and artificial box effect made his slenderness seem gaunt. But he was really pale.

It was a plain meal and took little time. There was no wine. And, with academic grace, Julia Deering carved the chicken and served the fruit, herself. But when Quincy arose from the table, he was flushed and exalted as if the little supper had been a feast. A glow fretted the green pallor of his cheeks.

He followed Julia into her room and sank upon the primmest chair, holding his knees. When she went to light a lamp, he did not offer to assist her. He watched her supple figure bend over the table. He saw{270} the gap caused by her posture, between her breast and the garment. The glow gave a red note to her hair. Then, she passed him, her dress forever singing, and composed herself upon the couch—cushions supporting her back and one of gleaming copper, which she had carefully smoothed, before her to rest her hand. The other arm was flung behind her head. She faced him, erect from her waist, with her gown lost in the shadow.

“What have you done, this last month?” she suddenly asked. “Have you been thinking of me?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“And what have you been thinking?”

“I’ve been wondering why you liked me.”

“Should I tell you?” She questioned him with her eyes also. “I like you because you are all in the future. When women get to be my age, they love to feel that they have a hold on the future. I am thirty-two,” she laughed.

“I don’t understand,” he stammered.

“You are a bit of my future,” she went on, “you shan’t ever lose the trace of me that I shall put in you. In that way, some of me has its youth still before it.”

Quincy had no impulse to break his silence. She continued. The lamp burned against her face, for him; against his face, for her. The room rolled away from it in a warm shadow.

“Can you deny that a trace of me will be indelible in you? I understand you so. Tell me, my boy—am I not the first woman who was ever kind to you?”

All of his manful air died out. There were tears in his eyes. He had thought of mentioning the girl he had kissed—and Adelaide, and mother. But he was afraid she might laugh.{271}

“Do not think less of my kindness, Quincy, because I mentioned it.”

These words came low, and that which followed fitted almost into the shadows, so warm and still was it.

“You have been kind to me. You have helped me also—more than I ever can help you. I need you to be kind to, Quincy.”

He gazed at her. Her eyes came straight and true to him. There was no doubting them. And in the vibrance of their aim, they rang upon the flint of his old challenge. Thus it was that his words came sudden, unpremeditated, hard.

“And your husband—?” he asked.

Her face did not move, save for her mouth which closed as if it had been stung. Then, again, it parted.

“Lawrence lives entirely in his ideas. A woman is no idea. Neither is a child.”

“A child—” he cried. At once, she caught him up, crystallizing his presentiment of what she meant into a certainty.

“Yes, Quincy—” she spoke in a biting tone, “I have no child.”

But even his certainty required propping, so vast was the weight of dream and fancy which tumbled on it. He raked at her heart with a clumsy savagery.

“Did you—did you want—?”

“It would have been something,” she broke in, “to have been kind to. Do you understand? It would have been kind to give me that.”

Again, the silence, while she sat looking at him, gently poised, one hand pressed sensuously down within its copper setting, the other dull behind her hair, and all of her body a vague rhythm within the shadows.

Quincy was looking within himself. His task, in{272} that tense moment, was there to find himself and to give her what he found. He felt that his word must be the next. He felt that it must be sincere. Surely, she would judge him by it. He was resolved that it should serve them well.

Within the brief space of stillness, what did he find? A great pain for himself, in this tearing predicament, that faded utterly before the pain of her who had bared it for him. A great gratitude born of this offering. A blind rush of resolution searing his mind like lightning, that she should receive what she desired, though his life and his dreams tottered for his gift! A vague thrill of the need of risk and of its beauty.

He knew that he must accept ere he could give. And though, within the press of that brief pause, no mind or thought could turn about, he must elect—must place the treasures of his life upon a pin-point altar, and give her all—or the smoke—incense—of that All’s destruction.

His word was this:

“You may be kind to me.”

She took it in. “Come here,” she said.

He came beside her—awkward.

“Give me a kiss,” she commanded. And her lips waited.

He bent over and kissed her. An agony flashed through the back of his neck—an agony for more.

“That kiss was a promise?” she asked.

His heart faltered. “A promise—of what?”

“Kiss me again!”

This time, his knees sank upon the couch. His arms went out and he clasped her, cool and piercing, to himself. His breathing allowed no word.

“Was that kiss a promise?” she repeated.{273}

“Everything—” he stopped himself.

There she was, still poised in her throne, unruffled, unmoved. But no! He looked at her bosom. She, also, was breathing hard. But she was trying to laugh. She was denying this, to herself.

“You are kind, boy,” she said, her voice raised high, with her struggle to constrain it. “You are kind to let me be kind to you.”

He stepped back toward his chair.

“No!” She stopped him.

The hand that had been behind her hair pressed low against her throat. That word had been almost a cry. She went on, composedly:

“I am afraid it is time for you to go.”

She released her throat and held out her hand. Quincy grasped it. It was warm and masterful altogether. Then he went.


Julia Deering heard the door softly shut. She flung herself face-down upon the couch and began tearlessly to sob. Behind her back, her two arms went out, straining and rigid. The fists were clenched.{274}


From that day, life was a battleground for Quincy.

The next time that he saw Julia Deering, he was swept clear of strong emotions. And this made his countenance easier to uphold. She wished no more, it seemed, than to have him docile at her feet, avid for whatever she might say. So it was needless for her to give much. And in his swept condition, it was easy for him to receive little. The kiss had been forgotten. The promise was being only tacitly lived up to.

No remorse had gripped him, after that evening. Remorse requires a consciousness of what has been, to cause it. And this, he lacked. He had kissed her. But what was in that kiss? Had it indeed been more than a promise of their fellowship? He had no way of knowing how it had seemed to Julia, and how much of her had gone out with her lips, or been there, when for a brief moment he had clasped her body.

Quincy envisaged dimly the wide variations that spirit makes in human action. In his dreams no more than such a kiss had made him drunk with joy; a fancied embrace no longer than this real one which had been, had made him faint with the need of giving. But these realities were far less sharply limned, their contents and their meanings were infinitely more complex than the willed dramas of his dreams. So Quincy felt no remorse. He was far too wildly drained by puzzlement.

The way of his soul was like a lake, wide and clear{275} and full, at one end of which was a lock. And at times, the bolt in the lock slipped out and the waters rushed away with marvellous swiftness and there remained but a hollow basin, reeking and vaporous. So had been the week after that night. He had seen her again. But she had seemed content with his empty self. It did not occur to Quincy that this might have been, because she also had been swept of her fullness.

And then, gradually, came a healing. There had been no other sequel. The Professor had returned. He had not dared speculate upon the meeting him and facing him. But when, one day, the great man stopped him on the Campus, all of the torture he had imagined for this moment seemed strangely fanciful. He talked with him, calmly, and mentioned the dinner with his wife, and smiled at an apt remark and responded with another. Beyond, behind, he glimpsed in his brain another Quincy, spotted with red, writhing in his quandary. But this was upon the plane of his imagined tortures, a remote plane. He went away, wondering if he was a hypocrite, questioning which Quincy was the false one, hating his adaptability with life. For in his thoughts, a situation half so hard would have made his head whirl, and his heart bleed and his breath smother. Yet here he was, coolly at his lessons, chatting, digesting normally! He grew to be a wonder to himself greater than Julia was, or the Professor.

And all of the remainder of the year, there was no sequel. His calm was the calm of a great battle. But since Quincy had accepted the traditional idea of conflict, he did not know how deeply he was fighting. Yet he who has fought knows well that there is no calm so vast and so profound as the calm of conflict. Above it, the clouds may writhe and the air clash with{276} thunder. Before it, the soul may quake and after it, the heart may bleed. But in the conflict, there is no energy at leisure to make a storm within. All of man’s power to stir has been projected outward. Within, there can be only peace. And then, little by little, as the struggle flags, the mind begins to move—the mind which is the herald of the soul. And as the inner forces put about and return homeward, they bring the turmoil and the stirring with them. And the mind catches these. And the mind speaks of bleeding or of winning, of dying or of living. And this is the consciousness of conflict—when the conflict flags.

So came it, that at that time which his jejune imaginings had pictured as unbearably upsetting, Quincy moved quietly about. And where he had dreamed of a decision in an open lists, behold! in the glamor, there was only the announcement of what had been done in secret from himself.

Julia allowed him to be alone. She demanded nothing. He saw her scarce more often than before. And when they were together, he found her reserved and smiling, with a deep suggestion of confidence and seriousness. All this helped him to a decision. And his decision was: that a great responsibility had come to him. His task must be to add Julia to her husband’s conscious treasures—to his ideals. In all ways, he must help herself to give herself to him. For he was sure that it was his failure to go out toward her, and hers to go out toward him—no more—which caused this state of famine. He did not seek a word for his emotion toward Julia. He admired her intensely; and she was a woman. That sufficed. As a woman, she did not see her husband as fully as did he. And her husband had limitations—in his capacity for living.{277} But fortunately, he was there—he, Quincy, with his mission. He thanked God for it.

One night, after long pondering upon his ideal and strong bond with Julia, a strange lust devoured Quincy. In the hands of it he went and spent several hours with a woman whom he had met, liked, but not dreamed before of visiting. The adventure was an empty, dismal failure. And Quincy found more joy in telling Julia about it, than he had felt all of those set, uncomfortable hours.

Julia listened with her old, deep smile.

“You’re not the sort to do things like that,” she said.

And Quincy agreed. He was hungry no more—until the lust next possessed him.

Three times, that spring, he went forth that way, joyless, hopeless, brutal all at once after a roseate revery about his friend. And each time, he returned, smiling bitterly at his folly, cured of his possession, yet filled with an acrid will for something which that visit, somehow, had not come near supplying. But after the first occasion, he spoke no more of such things, to Julia. A shame had caught him, which he had not felt at first. There seemed less innocence, now, in talking to her, than there had been. He was beginning—a part of him—to understand.

Then, also, there were other storms,—sudden lusts of another stamp that swung him elsewhere away for satisfaction. At such times, he seemed a fool himself, and his task a mockery.

“Take her for what she is,” he cried then. “You’ve spun her all over with your ideals. These blind you to her and keep you off from her. What has she to do with the greatness of her husband’s brain? That is one thing. If he, the man, is so sated that he does{278}n’t need her, the woman—well—” and he would sit there, late at night, in his chair, and strip her lusciously of these ideals he had spun about her; strip her with trembling hands as if it had been her clothes that fell away. And he would strip also himself of his ideals and his aspirations. Until, there they two would stand—naked and shivering, needful of each other’s bodies to be warm.

But Quincy had not abandoned his brisk daily runs. He learned that when he missed his exercise, these lusts were best able to overwhelm him. So he sought his woods and the throb of his ridging muscles as a storm-threatened ship seeks harbor.

One day, they walked together. It seemed to Quincy as if he had never been less near to the meaning of the swaying woodland. All of him was shut to it. And most of him was shut as well to her. He did not know, of course, that here his customary tension against her had given him an outward signal. For this same effort to shut out her, although it might pass unnoticed in his room, had brought as its effect to shut out nature. In her wan smile, he felt however, that she knew something of which he was not aware.

It was a sterile hour that stung. But after she had left him and he was home, the memory of it seemed to blossom forth into a thing of a rare beauty and a lingering perfume, so that he soon forgot that it had been a sterile hour. If his own walks in the woods had been wild-flowers, this walk had been a rose. But the rose was as yet a small, tight bud. The thorns had grown more quickly.


And now, without clash of decision, or glamor of sequel, the summer holidays were near.{279}

He sat in his room, one night. It had been a sultry day. All of the cloying afternoon, he had lain on his windowseat and given himself to reveries so nebulous that the humid air about seemed thicker to him. Below his window a forever changing crowd of boys laughed and gamboled and played at simple games. The music of their mingled feet and voices came up from underneath and seemed to shove him farther from them. He had neglected his lessons. So now he sat at his desk with an electric lamp beside him. The windows were wide open. The night breathed heavily, as if it were unwell. Then it began to rain and thunder.

At first, the water fell in clouds, drenching his window cushions. He spread a mackintosh to cover them. He did not wish to shut out the storm. He felt that he must choke without the fresh, panting vigor of the rain. Here was something elemental, simple, clear. Although he did not understand, he yearned for this, he with his mist-clogged soul, as a parched throat yearns for water. And then the downfall subsided partly and the lightning drew near. Flash after flash submerged the glow of his electric lamp. The thunder shot about him like a whirling battery in the air.

It came to Quincy that with the bolts so thick and near, it was dangerous to sit beside his lamp. He was impelled to shut his window, put out the threatened light and luxuriate in the storm from the safe haven of his bed. And then, a stronger impulse stopped him.

I want to test God!” he said, placing his hand about the supple steel of the student’s lamp.

Doubtless the danger was not great. But with his challenge he had heightened it. He sat thrilled, expectant, ready to be struck. And with the fierceness{280} of his imagining and his fancied gauntlet flung to fate, it was a brave thing he did.

As the last flash had bared the sky, careening with its black clouds above his window, so his test came to illumine the cluttered mystery of his soul. He did not know if he was guilty, if he was weak, if he was wrong. Let the lightning tell!

In the breathless pauses of the storm, he heard his heart leaping against his throat. He felt the weight of his body vibrant in the atmosphere. And so he stayed—awaiting his doom, if it cared to meet him, purified by this arbitrary danger and the dread contact it afforded with the illimitable, groaning heavens. It was a game; and in it, he for the nonce, seemed the opponent of an infinitude.

The fires swept past him. And he remained unscathed. He felt this and smiled at his recklessness. For even if there had been no danger, he had created one and braved it. Now, in the lull, his reveries grew less inchoate, his sense of fear and danger crystallized and fixed upon a less fancied, sweeping thing. He began to think of Julia.

He realized that he had done nothing; and solved nothing.

He realized that he loved her—as a woman.

The thought that at his age, he had earned this eternal, mystic guerdon—love—went through him like the bolt he had invited. And then, subtly, sweetly almost, came the bolt’s aftermath: like the crumbled, gutted charring of a tree that has sung high its song of death as the storm embraced it. And that aftermath for him was all that seemed left of his proud structure of ideals:—Professor Deering, a ruined tree with its leaves piteously seared!{281}

Before this menace of fire, Quincy at last jumped from his seat, which the storm had not made him quit. He paced his room, to and fro, delirious with this new birth, hands tremulously open, and head bowed. It could not be! It must not be! He would save his ideals; he would not be a Judas to his Christ. She who stood burning now, in the corner of his brain, must be cast out like a brand, ere her fearful conflagration caught.

He went to bed; and still the flame of her danced and still the leaves of his tree trembled piteously and fell away. Here he felt conflict; here he felt tempest. For the battle was over.

All of the night, he lay wakeful and rocked in the fever of decision which had been now so glamorously announced to him,—and so treacherously made without him, since in truth, within him.

He awoke aching and broken and inflamed. His serenity was gone. The mask, in which he had careered all of these months so featly and so gracefully through life, was burned away. He stumbled now against the meanest barrier. The least of his duties reared itself into a crucifix. He suffered. And he struggled. Even so, struggles the beast after the trap has inexorably set.

In his pain, he ran about seeking solace. Yet, wherever he turned, he rejected help. He was afraid of Julia. In fact, she seemed scarcely at all in his mind. It was an effort to think of her. He had to force his brain to grasp the fact of her reality; and a concrete vision of what and how she was, became impossible. In his dreams, there was a looming, aching mass of agony which menaced him, or turned into a bath of luscious poison. This, he termed “Julia.{282}” But it was not really she. It was an inchoate Thing—a thing untinged with the fixed meaning of a woman, a thing at most that a woman had engendered.

So, fearing her, ignoring her, hoping for balm from her, not recking of her really, he at last sought her out.

At once, before her, his storm subsided and became unreal; the swollen waves rolled languorously without aim or meaning.

Even now, he scarcely saw her—and knew her not at all. The time of consciousness was passed.

But it was sweet still, to be before her—helpless, mute,—while her smile glanced on him and her little, intimate movements,—the touch of her hand on her hair or the quiver of her eyelid,—cut through him like steel and played upon him like soft fingers upon a harp.

In this way, pent-up, giving nothing out, came June.

Quincy’s life rushed into summer, as a swift stream falls over a smooth precipice....{283}


The first agile months left him a vision of her. He believed it was herself. He remained motionless and the warm days glided over him. But this they left. And since the vision, too, was soft and warm and murmurous and madding, it seemed indeed a part of themselves that the first agile months had left.

He could see her now; and fix his yearnings upon her; and recognize in the void a place where she was not. He could hear her. He could feel her. It mattered little that, as ever, he could not understand her.

A slender, vibrant form she was, standing alone upon his consciousness, as the strip of ocean stands upon the beach. Beyond the horizon, it wanders infinitely. This was his sense of her. She had eyes that felt rather than saw; and fingers that played rather than touched; and the sharp, firm lines of her body bounded him, rather than herself.

There was nothing after all, to this time, save the vision. Nature was not. Family was not. And then came the note.

It was like the dawn—a haze of disparted color heralding the sun, formless, beingless save in this, that it was drenched in the sun’s coming. And then, from beneath the clouds of blue and green and orange, a spur of fire. This is without color. But it has all that the dawn lacked, for it has form and being. It is not the dawn; it is the sun. And before its flash of flame, the deep mists of radiance fade away—orange{284} to red and red to green and blue to the low sky. Meantime, the sun has mounted.

In this way came the note. It read:

Dear kind boy:

I am in New York at the Hotel, you see. In a week, I must join Lawrence in Maine. But I got weary of the little house and closed it behind me. I don’t know what I hoped to find in the burning city. But will you ride one hour to spend another hour with me?

Julia Deering.

He went.

The city burned indeed. But as he traversed it—slowly to preserve his neatness—he knew that he was proof against such fire. As he approached the hotel, his thoughts veered altogether backward. His thoughts were a feeble countercurrent to the great part of him that propelled so swiftly forward as to encumber his feet and place a straining awkwardness upon his effort to go slowly. Thought of what lay before him was altogether wanting. He was thinking of what he had said to his mother. He had lied to her. All of his life he could recall no lie to teach him how to utter this one. Yet he had lied glibly—and with success. He was almost proud of this—that little part of him which could pay heed, at such a moment, to any past. He had spoken of a college friend in town for a few days—one his mother knew nothing of.

“You will be back to-night?” she had said.

And then, strangely, so callous did this one falsehood seem to have made him, that he had answered: “I can’t be sure. Better not expect me.”

Why this gratuitous blow to his mother’s faith? He{285} knew he would be back. What could keep him in New York? Surely, not a summer “show”? Only his desire to fend off his mother, a perverse consequence of lying to her, could explain his answer. Well: that was settled. A falsehood did not wait long ere it sowed its poison seed.

But now, he found his heart beating hard and painfully against his throat. It knew, before his eyes, that the hotel was there!

A dark, cool lobby, after the street’s glare—a monster with many eyes, that he must pass. It was filled with moving, mumbling creatures—each one an eye. And an eye upon a pivot that touched him and soiled him and then brushed on. It seemed to stir nervously at his intrusion, to demand his secret as indemnity for its disturbance. It was cynical and real. It must be warded off without a contact. For a contact would leave him spotted. An elevator hurled him up, from its vaporous presence.

The hall, also, lived. The soft carpet held back his feet perversely. The dark doors set in the bright grey walls marked a mocking rhythm to his interminable progress. Each turn in the passage was a mute thrust against his carefully reckoned gait. The silence of two chambermaids who had been chatting was a badge on him, and the thud of his feet also was a comment. Then, the door opened before he had to knock.

She did not smile—any more than had the vision. Such visions are serious. So was she, now, in reality. Her hand meant nothing. She took this hat. And her voice caressed him with all the firmness and mastery of her hand, that last evening of the kiss.

“You were kind to come. Take your coat off.{286} Look—I have a cool drink ready for you. You like orange, don’t you?”

He sat at a little table, near the window, and sipped the beverage. Opposite, was she. Heavy blinds warded away the heat and the sharp clamor of the city. The room was cool and shaded. Julia sat watching him. She wore a housegown of pongee—the color of parched violets. Her hair stood in coils over her ears.

“I am not warm,” she said. “I have stayed in, during the heat.”

His eyes had questioned if she, too, was thirsty.

“It is deliciously comfortable here.”

Her head tossingly measured the room. Quincy did not see it. But he felt its cool, fresh walls and the white wood and the cane furniture. It was a sitting room. Two heavy doors in a dark varnish gave accent to its breezy tidiness.

She chatted gaily. Allusions to his abstention from her while he was still at college shafted to him and inflamed him. But she laughed at his excuses.

“I am not exacting,” she declared.

And then, once more, she was serious. It had been so long, she was not sure now, that she still knew him. What, all this time, had happened to him? His answers showed his discomfort. Julia arose and stood over him.

“What is wrong?” she said. Her hand went to his brow. “Why is that ruffled?” And then, with the other hand beneath his chin, she turned his head upward.

A veil went over Quincy’s eyes.

“Is it my turn,” she spoke softly, “to be kind to you?{287}

And in reply, he wrenched his head from her grasp and bent it so low that she could not see his face. He felt her hands lifting his shoulders. And in this way, he came to his feet.

“Big boy, why do you hang your head?”

He raised it. In a flash, she lay in his arms. But he did not touch her.

“I want you,” he cried and then was silent.

Julia stepped away from him. A joy was in her face that he could not mistake.

And then, she took his hand. And she seated herself. And somehow, Quincy was at her feet with his head upon her lap. This seemed exquisitely right. Yet, though he thrilled with joy and the near warmth of her body intoxicated him, he sobbed. She held his head and his shoulders as if he needed sustenance until this ecstasy of relief was over. And so he remained, until his eyes were dry and his heart spoke dear within him, like a bell.


She held him until the morrow. She nursed him and cherished him as if he had been sick. She hid him while the unknowing waiter brought food into the sitting-room. And then, laughing with her joke, she shut out the world once more, which had been permitted to intrude with the staid dress and visage of the lackey, and served him herself.

Avid for sleep, the big boy slumbered in her arms all of the night—a sleep broken with jewel-like gleams of consciousness wherein, waking from dreamless rest to a dream-like reality, he could clasp his fantasy and breathe her breath and feel the murmurous rhythm of her body against his and, twining his fingers through her vagrant hair, slumber afresh.{288}

When she let him go, she took his hand and held it under her heart.

“Will your mother have worried at your absence?” She felt the worry, as if she had been the mother she had never met.

“Why, no!” he cried. “That’s funny. I told her I should not be back!”

But there was no need of fearing lest Julia misunderstand. For a brief moment, perhaps, the doubt pricked her about the boy’s sincerity. And then, she saw. Women understand these mystic intuitions, for women reap the harvest of them. She was elated at the chance impulse that made Quincy warn his mother, lest her worrying bring a flaw to their true holiday.

And then, she sent him back.{289}


One week before its opening, Quincy returned to college.

It was a brisk and cloudless September day. But already, though work had not yet begun and behind him were months of ostensible recreation, his angular gait showed that the boy was tired. Indeed, what was directly past had been a hostile, clumsy way for him. With an intensity that made his other struggles pale, the conflict in him had been renewed. And there among his family, he had lived on, bearing his secret and constrained to keep it from them. It had not seemed particularly hard for him. It was natural to be silent and secretive and to furrow himself with stubborn questionings. But the heat of it had over-wearied him, although he knew so little of it.

He was aware that none of the eager spring of a new year was in his body as he marched up the main street of the college town. He was aware that he was apathetic and dull of eye. But the full force of what had caused this, he had not gauged. As he looked back upon the element of his family, it seemed to him, even, that it had helped. It had supplied the tang of sweet retribution in this fact, that he, so generally of no account, nourished a life within him more marvelous than anything his family had dreamed. As ever, Adelaide sought him and groped for him and failed. As ever Quincy felt the need of what she had to give yet ignored the conduit to her. For Adelaide knew there was something. She saw him bowed down with a{290} new suffering and dazed with some still more perilous splendor. But her incessant efforts to share and help merely heightened his distress. With his mother, it was different. Sarah saw nothing, understood nothing. And now, when she lectured him upon his need of growing up and of preparing for responsibilities which, luckily, he did not as yet possess, it was delicious for him to smile and know and in silence suffer her misapprehension. For now, at last, he seemed to have a proof which he had always craved—of her injustice. What had hurt before was the insidious fear that she was right. Now, in his great secret, did he not know her wrong? So, the mixed element of family had not seemed unbearable. For Quincy could not know that his perverse delight in watching his mother, by her words, tear down her hold in him was far more ruinous to his composure than the pain of failure to help Adelaide build up hers. By permitting his mother to act counter to her primal place in his emotions, he was merely tangling and maiming them. This rational proof of her disharmony could distress him. But it could not touch her hold. It could serve merely to make it a less bearable, but not less real thing.

Here then, was college, once more—the callous theater in which he would enact his scene.

There had been no word or letter between him and Julia. He was glad of this. It made his march across the Campus toward the Professor’s office a less fearful effort. It justified the conviction which he willed, that she had loosed her hold on him, bade him follow his conscience. But was he following his conscience?

He stood before the silent, yellow door of the office. He straightened visibly as if he had meant to measure{291} himself against it—against what it signified. What was he following? What was it, while he pondered, that had driven him here; and now—had driven his list in signal against the yellow door?

Silence, again. And in this lack of substance in response, something fell away from him. It was as if he had leaned all his soul against an answer and found only emptiness. He was glad. He would go away. He would never come back. He feared lest perhaps the Professor should be there. He tried to retreat. And the door opened. There he was—big and undiminished, smiling invulnerably at him. His outstretched hand drew Quincy back.

“Will you wait—just five minutes? I am busy with another man.”

There was no way of escape. Quincy sat down on the step and waited. His mind was empty. He felt the grey stone stair about him. He saw a break in the plastered ceiling. He put his fingers against his eyes and asked how it was that what these round things saw, he also seemed to see. He tried to rehearse the ordeal that impended—to ascertain what it was to be. He got no farther than: “How do you do, Mr. Deering?” He repeated this, over and over and over. It became a drone and a sing-song and a mockery.... And then, he was actually within—alone with him. And he had forgotten to say the one thing he had rehearsed: “How do you do, Mr. Deering?”

The Professor looked at him searchingly, made him sit down at the big desk, stood, himself, between him and the window, his generous hands clasped behind his back.

“Well, Mr. Burt—what brings you here?” A pause. “You are in trouble?{292}

“Yes, Mr. Deering.”

The big man’s face softened. He moved away beneath a high rack of books, in order that the boy should not need to stare into the light.

“Would you rather have me sit down, also?”

Quincy felt his consideration. “No,” he said.

“Very well, then—” The Professor’s face was gently serious, as if he could not brook the weakness of a delay in starting.

“Professor Deering—Professor Deering—” But Quincy could not go on. He arose to his feet. That helped. But what he said amazed him as deeply as the other. “Professor Deering—tell me about you and your wife.”

Mr. Deering took the remark without a tremor. His face darkened and his brow brooded. His clasped hands fell forward to his side. He did not mistake the nature of the boy.

“You have a right to know?” he asked, softly.

“I love her, Professor Deering.”

They stood, not far apart, facing each other, firmly. And in the pause, neither of them breathed. It seemed to Quincy at that moment impossible that all this should be true. He watched the scene with a fiendish interest, as if waiting for an inevitable ruin.

The Professor swallowed hard. And then, he spoke.

“You love her. So do I. That gives you a right to ask what you have asked. Sit down.”

He gestured the boy back into his seat.

“We are in strangely similar positions, Mr. Burt. We both love her. Neither of us has her. There is no more to say.”

“Neither of us—?{293}

“Yes. She is my wife; but she is not mine. At first, of course, I believed she was. But she withdrew.”

“She accuses you of withdrawing, Mr. Deering!” The boy cried this out, as if in pain.

The other bit his lip, savagely. “Then you have heard both sides, Mr. Burt? What more can you demand?”

And again, there was a pause.

“Did you come here,” the big man’s voice was low and vibrant with his question, “did you come here to judge me?”

Quincy hid his face in his hands. “To judge you? To judge you? Good God! I came here to ask you to judge me!”

A jet of understanding shivered through the man. Quincy was not looking. And in that moment, his face broke. He righted himself, mastered himself and strode toward the boy. He wrenched his hands from his face.

“Look up!” he cried.

And Quincy met his clear, deep brown eyes—met them unflinchingly, his head strained up to do so, his body still huddled in his chair, his wrists hotly clenched in the hands of the Professor.

The Professor dropped his hold.

“We cannot judge each other, Quincy. That would be as unfair, one way as the other. I do not understand. But I have stopped questioning. We can spare one another that. And without tangling one another further, we can go on, solving our lives.”

He stopped; and stepping back, surveyed the boy. “You will not misunderstand the spirit in which I have received you. Do not turn your back on {294}anything—on me, for instance, or on her. Be a man. Now go.”

He spoke with a gigantic effort. And now, he held out his hand.

Quincy looked at it. He leaned back rigidly against the easy path of taking it.

“Professor,” he said, “I cannot take your hand.”

The hand dropped back to the Professor’s side. A flash of anger went before a cloud of pain. Both of these Quincy saw on his face. And then, after a silence, Mr. Deering spoke:

“Mr. Burt,” he said, “your impulse in being unwilling to take my hand, since you were willing to come to me—I confess—I cannot understand it. It is due either to weakness or to a worse thing. You have disappointed me,—for the first time.... Think it over. And come back to me, when you can take my hand.” He walked toward the door, and, flinging it open—: “Good-bye,” he said.

So Quincy went away.


Such were the auspices of junior year.

Everything seemed gone which he had so bravely builded up. Eighteen years it had taken him to gain a vantage point in life, to breathe life’s air without pain and meet life’s onslaught with a kind of joy. And then, after one brief excursion, everything had collapsed, everything had died; and only he remained—he, the eternal constant, but bruised and shrunken and stripped of even the glimmer of understanding. What had been wrong with him? What false fire had this been, making his warmth and his vision?

Quincy trudged through the campus, bound for his room, as a wounded beast seeks his lair. Several of his mates passed him. He was forced to stop and{295} shake their hands and meet their perfunctory questions as to his summer. And all of them felt the coldness of this fellow, Burt; and Quincy knew that all of them felt this. So he avoided stopping when he could. And he shut the door of his room behind him—it was as if to blot out the serene self-satisfaction of the college buildings under whose stony eyes he had had to pass. And he rejoiced at the emptiness of his room. And so, he sank into a chair and began feeling for his wound.

But it was utterly hopeless.

The room had not yet been placed in order. A trunk stood on the floor; a carpet was rolled away in the corner; chiffonière and book-box and divan huddled together, giving an air of disarray. He could not find his wound, in such a clutter. He knew merely that its pain submerged him, flooded its position, made him feel that all of him was drenched with blood. Vacantly, like this, he sat for an hour. And then, an idea drew him from the room.

He boarded a car. And now, he was in the open; hatless, panting, seeking nature as a solace. The gentle woods flared away in their autumnal dress. The wind tarried in the branches, shaking the red leaves downward with the fresh force of its news. Quincy marched on, over the full-blown grass. A copse of locust trilling before him, a harsh space where malignant-colored sumachs mingled with the thickspread blackberry briars that caught and stung him—and then, he reached a grove of fir. Here, he sat down. The ground was moist and green. And a great spruce spread out its balmful verdure. Beyond lay the parched woods. But he was free and cut off from them. Here, he should be able to fix his wound.{296}

From the clouds of feeling that swirled up in him, the clear-cut figure of Julia Deering came forth. He resented her. There was no love in his beholding her. This hurt. For it was an emptiness that ached. And then, a strange sensation filtered through. Why did he resent her? Despise her almost? He had hurt her; that was why. He had been unfair to her; that was why. He had betrayed her and she lay silent in his mind throughout, unstirring, unprotesting. This was the unforgivable thing. This was why. How could he love a creature himself had maimed?

For a brief moment, Quincy veered upon the truth. Had he but dared to alight there, to go no farther, to drive his standard and hold firm! Quincy began to see how weak and straddling it had been to go to him, to remain silent toward her; began to see what a fund of cowardly uncertainty his virtue hid, that prompted him to feel a guilt toward him, instead of a right for her; began to see that in his action lay a hedging, a shallowness of feeling, a failure to build up his own morale and his own measure, as a force which was life-saving should! He had maimed everything. He had not stood by him, not stood by her. From each, he had been willing to receive; and his response in each case had been a blow in the back, once that back was turned. Oh! there was health in this hatred, this detestation of himself which gripped him now like a storm! It was torture. But from such torture he could arise and still create. All that he needed was not to escape the storm; to invite, rather, the heart of it; to remain drowned in it, till it had swept him clean.

But though he had veered so nigh, he was too unstable not to fly on and past. The vision of the truth died out behind him in the spray-dashed horizon.{297} Quincy began to defend himself, to rationalize, to seek a way of self-forgiveness. And of course, that which he sought, he found. He did not know what Julia had meant. He had been mad with Julia; and his madness was over, as madness should be. Perhaps, she also had been mad and her madness, also, had disappeared. His scruple, driving him to Professor Deering, was a clean and brave one. He had a conscience. What could a conscience be, but good and strong? Who ever had dared suggest that conscience was a coward and a traitor? Professor Deering simply had not understood. He would not lose him, he would make him understand. And the great man, regretting his injustice, would cry him welcome and crave his pardon. As to Julia—he felt with strong effort, he might still be able to look upon her as a friend. His infatuation was gone. But so might go, also, his new repulsion.

Many times, Quincy had alighted in this false haven. He should have known its meretriciousness. He should have known that it would as surely fail him as it had failed before. So now, a moment after, the smooth way receded, the storm swept back and he was no better off than he had been. But far beyond the passed horizon, the shore of truth had died away. Ahead might be illimitable seas, lashed with his fury. But the truth was gone.

And so, unsuccored even by this last resort, Quincy abandoned his fir grove and went back, unheeding, through the magnificence of autumn.


College resumed its mechanical paces; Quincy went through them poorly. His marks fell to dangerously near the point of failing. But he sustained them, barely, as he sustained the business of taking food and{298} sleep. Garsted was gone. He had graduated and Quincy rejoiced in his absence. It would have been impossible to talk with him. It would have been more difficult with him about, to remain hedged in his solitude, as he desired.

And so, through the fall, his feelings fought each other. There was no giving out. The conflict was within, mute, targetless, internecine. At times, his repulsion for Julia paled before mad lapses into passion. These turned upon him, smote him and sent him shuddering back into repulsion. There had been no word of her, no glimpse of her. He knew with clearness, only that this was his own doing. The Professor he saw twice weekly, in his class. But he was so easily aloof on his high platform, fronting a score of boys, that this habitual sight was nothing.

There had been months of his silence.

And then, one day—without preamble—Quincy went out to see Julia Deering. It was not his old passion; nor his still older love. It was a need—all of his energies centered upon seeing her—no more. He rang the bell. And while the maid left him waiting in the hall, he stood consumed by his fears of disgrace and by a miserable effort to hold up his head. The maid returned with word that she was out. He walked away, every fiber of him straining against the direction of his walking, reiterant that she was there and that, with a little force, he might have seen her. Next day, he returned. And upon his fourth attempt, the maid with a bland smile of sympathy showed him into the little over-decorated room.

And now, she stepped within. Deliberately, her back toward him, she shut the door. Then, she faced about.{299}

“I decided after all,” she said, “to let you see me. The first time you came I was here. The other two times, I was really out. How are you?”

He did not answer, so full he was of looking at her. She seemed older. The drawn skin below her eyes was flushed and feverish. Her eyes were immeasurably deep and soft—as if some psychic lance had pierced them. Her body was strained forward. It seemed to tremble as does a delicate blade of steel when it resounds. Surely, this was an ineffably lovely thing that he had lost! For he had lost her. Her lips showed that, in their quivering strength; ere she had spoken. And her hands showed that, in their calm mastery,—and the backward jerk of her shoulders and the cold fullness of her hair. This was no lover; this was a creature without his ken, whom he had wounded. For every vibrance of her voice and form seemed a response, not to his need, not to his love, not even to his weakness, but to his hurt.

He stood there, forgetful of himself. And all of the words that were spoken came from her.

“I thought,” she said, “after your so plainly-speaking silence, that you would understand, without inflicting this upon us both.”

Then, she smiled. There was no rancor. But she could not keep her hurt from speaking.

“Dear, poor, Quincy,” she went on, almost as if he had been the messenger of the dead boy, her lover, “don’t you see, that after what you have done, after what you have failed to do, the one thing left that will not be altogether horrible, is to have an end? There are times in life, boy, when an end is the one salvation.” She smiled again, as if at her idea. “Of course, the final one of these times is death. But we{300} have had no difficulty, have we, to put an end to this—without that?”

Quincy shuddered. He wished to ask her if she loved him, had ever loved him. But he could say nothing. She went on:

“I idealized you, Quincy. I do not regret it. As long as I dared hope—as long, that is, as I could keep from seeing you as you really are, I was so happy! I needed you. You were kind—for a little while. And then, you, also, could not bear my kindness. So it was, was it not? That was the reason why you stayed away? Well—there are women like me, whose kindness is unbearable. I often think—it is a little game of mine that brings me solace—that men who yearn have a better chance. The poet can create a universe to serve. This is wide enough to stem his aching. But a woman—all she can have is a mate and a child, to cover up her wound. Her intensity is equal to the poet’s. I am sure of that. But what she has is not equal to what he has. That is unfair, is it not?”

Quincy was hushed before the spectacle of his loss. Why could he not still throw himself at her feet? Did his unworthiness at length shame him from even hoping? How rich and full was this living beauty before the bloodless, craven things in his mind—ideals, conscience, aspirations—for which he had cast her out!

Again, respecting his silence, she spoke to him:

“There is one thing, Quincy, I still hope for. One thing I am still so humble as to ask of you. You remember what I once said to you:—that what I needed was the feeling that I would live on, in some way, in your own life. Quincy dear, do not let that part of me that stays in you turn bitter! Keep it pure, dear{301} boy. Let it make you happy, once in a while. Cherish it! Oh, I beg this of you!” She stopped and her hands clenched before her.

“I ask this, not selfishly. I know you so well! If you can keep this part of me happy and clean within you, it may save you some day. I know that—and I fear, I fear what may come, if you do not.”

Now tears were there, glistening down her cheeks.

She seemed to be waiting for his promise—waiting for him to give her the hope she had been humble enough to ask. But Quincy stood there silent; full of, and measuring, his loss. And as her glance sought out his eyes, it came back from them, unrefreshed and undiminished.

Slowly, she closed her eyes as if thereby shutting in the last effort of her soul to venture forth.

And then, with a faint tremble, she turned away.

“Good-bye,” she said softly, and so left the room.{302}


The rest of the year was a shadow under which he walked.

He abandoned himself completely. He let his life slip utterly from his hands. It was as if it had been a thing so strange and so repugnant, that it was useless, even as it was loathsome, to keep it with him. So he allowed himself, without effort or regret, to slip away.

He did not go back to the Deering house, nor did he ever again shake Professor Deering’s hand. These were things that had gone from him with his dreams. He did his work. He spoke more affably than before, to his comrades. He even joined them a little in their activities. But it was vacant intercourse.

The woods were redolent of bitter memories, so he avoided them. When he walked through them their rebuke prompted him to run. And when he ran, as of old, their rich suggestion held him back. So he abandoned both.

He joined the track-team in the spring. But he ran badly, now that he strained so to win his race. The students had not forgiven him. They saw him come, and when he failed to prove his worth, they dropped him without a glimmer of regret.

His dreams he turned savagely against, and against all that nurtured them, or harbored them or swung in tune with them. He gave up reading. He proved to himself that art was a mockery, and culture a delusion. He turned toward science, about which—knowing{303} nothing of it—he could find no ancient landmark of himself to hate. He came to disapprove of college. He decided to lead a useful life and to obey his mother. He believed that at last he had found a way to gain his family’s respect and that their past evaluation of his merits had come very near the truth. But now, he was done with the clouds of fancy. He knew he had a good mind. He would set it to some concrete plow and make, at last, a concrete furrow for his life.

He told his father that he had had enough of college. He asked him, after a short vacation, to find a place for him in business—that he might enter in the fall. His father agreed, looking at him queerly, asking no question. His mother said: “Well, you lasted longer than Jonas.” Rhoda congratulated him and Adelaide seemed hurt. But none of these typical reactions worried Quincy. He had known what to expect.

He decided that he must cultivate his brother, Marsden. He sensed the cripple’s flinty empiricism, and this seemed to him the proper weapon to beat away, once and for all time, the residue of dream that clogged his life.

And so, the year came to an end.

He had turned away his face from it—from all that it contained—from Julia. He thought that by so doing, he was turning his face forward.{305}{304}





Beauty is a rose that needs tears to keep it fresh. Sensing the purport of this, Quincy resolved that there be no more crying.

He was in an office—a huge, dinning, polished office of which the remote head was an acquaintance of his father, a man avid, according to Josiah’s warning, for youths who were alert, and relentless against youths with any but “serious” ideas. He was a capitalist. And since, by circumstance and lack of soul, all of his life had been expended in leash to a grindstone, he was convinced that just this fact, and it alone, contained the essence of good and right. The business wherein he had lived he made to be a temple wherein he might worship himself. And there was no temple but his temple, no success but his success. His obtuseness was the cornerstone, his narrowness the nave, his greed the altar, his purblind word the choir of that temple. His limitations were its creed, and his life’s chanceful directions were its law. He moreover, taken in form, was apotheosis. He was the sentimental sort of business man, the type known by America as “hard-headed and conservative.” No sex-bound woman could have been more moved by a romance than he, by a failure. Indeed, to his feeling, dabbling in stocks was as gross a sin as, to the feeling of the priest, adultery. His name was Amos Cugeller. And Josiah Burt was rather surprised at himself for having done Quincy so good a turn. But Quincy was convinced{308} that his “serious” days were come, his worthless period over. He believed himself now capable of putting Marsden and his father to blush with his materialism. He had screwed himself tight and rigid, calling this confidence.

With Mr. Cugeller, of course, the archetype of “seriousness” was the cog of a machine; the nadir of “worthlessness” was to stand alone, making no money—like a wild-flower.


The first year of his new life, Quincy was at home. It was the family’s last year in town. The Frondham mansion had been purchased and was in process of redecoration. Upon the following fall, with Jonas comfortably married, Quincy’s parents and Adelaide and Marsden were to move back to the land. New York had never really welcomed them. The period of dazzlement was over. The period of sheer discomfort had long since set in. And it had been enhanced by their ignoring that New York never really welcomed anyone. They moved away then, with a feeling of resentment. And thereby, Quincy came to live alone. So this new year of sharing life at home was to become a vivid one, when, later, it was seen to be the last.

What confronted the boy most immediately was, of course, the city. All the rest was new perhaps. But its newness was a growth, and that which had gone before had subliminally taught him what such growth must be. New York, however, as he now received it, was unheralded and unanticipated. Mornings, as he went downtown, its acerb qualities entered him most forcibly. This was due perhaps to the night’s influence upon himself in opening his spiritual pores, making him{309} more sensitive, since more alien, to the city’s nature. But also, doubtless, the early drubbing itself awake from the miasma of its sleep calls to the surface in the morning the City’s essences.

Quincy’s heart misgave him in these first trials. He hung on a strap in the elevated train. The shaken condiment of sluggish bodies and drowned voices and falsetto-screaming newspapers was like a plaster for drawing out his strength. As they lurched on, the cadenced rise and fall of the train’s pace grew to be a hammer on his consciousness. The streets hurled by in a drab monotone whose single, ugly accent could be no other than that of a fierce indifference. The crowd congealed within itself, a maze of cluttered energies, having no mind. And as the mournful streets struck past, a tithe of the crowd leaked out, mute, sullen, while those remaining gave no flash of interest. None of the murmurous expectancy of a crowd turned to adventure, none of the resilient interplay of personality transfigured the dull mass. A community this was! The iron car and the vile brick houses moved. It seemed to rot! Quincy felt lonely unto pain in it. So cruel the silences of the woods had never been, as this inert cacophony of union.

And then, the sequel, as the train swung on, leaving him behind at the place which irony called his “destination.” The huddled, nervous, slack-eyed flow churned by some unknown design between the dizzy walls of offices and there absorbed as if to add by their own crushed spirit to the towers of brick and mortar. The poisonous sense of innumerable little cells—like the one to which he went—where all this half-quick matter was laid out, agitant yet fixed like flies in the shifting scum of stagnant waters. A pulp it was for the{310} increasing of the City. Quincy thought of the innumerable living things of the sea whose rotted bones made up the chalk cliffs of England. So, it appeared to him, had the City come to be. For what other than some such passion, inexorable and perverse, could explain the blind din of traffic merging into the barriers of buildings—monuments all to work’s travesty, where the pride of labor was shrunk to an interminable lamentation?

Each morning, at first, these things gripped Quincy while his heart forsook him. So that he found it hard to go, hard to bear, easy to fall away.

And in the office, the dread rhythm was continued. Here, men, boys, girls were drawn together, the secret of their lives apart forever a little dimmer in their eyes. And here, unendingly, they stayed with no hope more bright than that fortune hold them there, since that hold was living, and with no intercourse more high than that of wolves sharing a carcass, through want of strength, not will, to drive each other off. How poor a thing it was for which each day, they shook off their souls, trampled those flowers, their thoughts, to conjoin and fit in here! And yet, little as they accomplished, that little was not theirs. Theirs was merely the naked hold on living, the taste of the shared carcass,—life. But was this living? Decomposition rather—the blind, inglorious making of chalk cliffs! Quincy could almost see the process. Soon the spirit they were forever starving would die, and the flowers they were forever trampling would cease to bloom. And if the rotting carcass grew not noisome to them, it must inexorably be that their senses were rotting also. And lo! a higher city, from their miserable contribution.{311}

Quincy was alert to the danger of these feelings. He sensed in them a recrudescence of the life he had determined to shut out. He resolved not to see these things since to do so was to have eyes and to have eyes was to have tears. He elected to look upon these things as a treachery to the new self which he believed was born—strong and rebellious—from his past mistakes. His effort to shake off such thoughts, trample such moods, he chose to know as will. And his savage muting of the least vibrance in him toward his surroundings, he chose to know as strength. He had not yet learned of the power and the efficiency of weakness.

And so, from the first loathing, grew a system of defenses; from the first bewilderment, a hedge of rationalization—the world’s course, miniatured....

It had been a common way with Quincy to bear about with him an undigested load of his past experiences. So it had been in childhood, in love; so it was still. The pitiful unknitting of his life at college had been no analysis at all. Even as the pattern of the effect of home upon him had been the later consequence of tracing back from its felt stamp, so now, away from it, Quincy was to attempt a reason of his abandoning college.

The conscious mind is an interpreter, a journal. It does not create; neither does it impartially report. Rather does it deflect, refract and so transform what is, into a thing acceptable to the mind’s ego—the journal’s reader. And what it gives, with the nature of its versions, the demand brings about. So now, with Quincy—the call had gone forth for an accounting. It was as if he had sent in his query: “I am here. How did it come about that I am here? And{312} above all, let there be nothing in the report that I can not endure!” For this is the way of all men. And until each man has sharpened his instrument for vision within himself, there is no need in his decrying, or attempting to reform, the frauds and mockeries of government and church and public utterance. The amount of misconception swells with the mass. He who clears the eyes of one child toward itself does more for the truth than the leader of a national rebellion. And until there be a nation made up of men who were just such children, all reform and all revolt must be a romantic variant upon some theme of falsehood.

It pleased Quincy, then, to look upon the calamities of college as the result of foolish conduct and false direction. His idealizing, his dream-gathering, his emotion had been at fault. Manifestly, then, the turn to make was away from ideals and dreams and feeling. These things upon which he had leaned had given way. They must therefore have been fictions. For if one leans upon Reality, one finds support. All that Professor Deering and his wife and his attitudes at college seemed to imply must have been fictions. Reality must lie at the outset, in the antipodal direction—away, that is, from culture, truth-seeking, love and the qualities of self. He had been sleeping with stars, creating flowers, parleying with extramundane fires. He had made great mistakes. He could now make reparation. So, in this way of finding superficial fault, Quincy escaped a scrutiny of his more basic weaknesses—escaped the truth.

Here he was, then, launched upon a rushing tide of complete reaction—an adverse avalanche. He did not know that he was again rushing from himself, that falsehood is an easing drug, and that it was the truth{313} which had hurt him. Long, long since, the flash of it which he had entertained that autumn day in the woods after his talk with the Professor, had fallen beyond the rim of his world. He did not know how cowardice had betrayed him in the guise of loyalty and virtue, and how the very subtle plea of the herd had filled his ears, edging him on to serve it and deny himself, give up to it his treasures, in hope of some vague interest which the herd proclaimed as duty and morality and good. He did not suspect a weakness rotting far deeper than his attempt to bridge from Julia’s love to the Professor’s friendship, menacing far more than was implied in his failure to hold either. In the tingling rebuke of his dismissal upon both sides, he did not see a measure of his deserts, nor in Julia’s fears for him did he understand the possibility of reason. The real truth must have swelled that love, meeting the other friendship; the real good must have nurtured both. But Quincy missed wider than these. He had defiled the separate gifts of a man and a woman, with his crude effort to bind and compass them in a view imposed and a standard borrowed. But Quincy had erred deeper than this. For he did not guess that, behind it all, lay the fear of venturing alone, the fear of being a measure to himself and of wielding his life as his life’s measure. He did not dare to dream that there was in him, glorying itself, the ancient, leprous fear of the herd’s children to graze outside of the herd’s shadow. All of these truths had trembled in him; he had rejected them as unendurable; they had died away. And now, worst of all, he was content! His failure was breeding a self-satisfaction—failure’s way. For in that breeding lies failure’s secret—its birth and its recurrence. The eternal slave lauds his cell and his{314} shackles, calling them home and law. The rare master ignores his freedom, looking beyond it.


This year was the one when he was least at odds with his family. He sensed a truce in his father, as if the old man had held off, stepped back and were scrutinizing him. One day, toward Christmas, his father spoke to him, before they went in to the paneled dining room:

“I saw your boss, Mr. Cugeller, to-day.”

Sarah was at once intent, laying aside her knitting—for Rhoda’s expected baby.

“He seems satisfied with you, my boy.”

There was a stroke of tender respect in the appellation. His mother smiled with surprise and sighed with relief.

“Come, dear—dinner.”

Here was a new atmosphere indeed. Quincy sat down with a sense of mastership that goes with a sense of having been accepted. He judged that his parents were good, homely folk. He judged their respect a worthy thing. He felt arms go out and draw him within the circle. And it seemed to him that this was what he had longed for, fought for, always. He judged his past revolts as misapplied. He judged himself, if anything, more harshly than had they.

That evening, Adelaide found him in his room. He had brought home some sales-slips which by rights belonged to office hours.

“Do you really care for business, Quint?” she asked, seating herself on his bed.

The boy had not changed for his sister. He resented her lack of vision into his revolution. Something unconscious within him must have told him that{315} if Adelaide failed to see it, it could not, after all, be so very deep. This made him strike an imperious and patronizing air.

“Of course I do!”

“You never seemed to be turning in that direction.”

“I had no direction at all, my dear. Now, I have one.”

Adelaide leaned forward, her hands supporting her head.

“Why, Quint!” she said, “You talk as if business were the one direction possible.”

“Well—” he combatted her in this easy way of combatting himself, “what other direction is there?”

“You ask me? I—I—thought you might study—something.”

Her vagueness pleased him. It made her easier to confound. “Study something! That just about expresses it.”

She knew that the Deerings were forbidden ground. She was untaught in leading up to such without an immediate trespass. So she was silent. But here was a chance for Quincy to deal a blow at that self of him which he had buried partially alive. He went on, with eloquence.

“Adelaide—I was a fool. I’m surprised you didn’t see it, for yourself. I made a mess of things. I was a dreamer. I’ve stopped now!” He brandished his pile of yellow papers. “America has no place for men who make a profession of what fills leisure moments. What do philosophizing and book-reading get you? What earning capacity have they? It’s been my experience—and I’ve had enough to speak—that these professional fillers of leisure moments fall flat as dough when real life strikes them.{316}

Adelaide was looking at him intently. It seemed to Quincy that she was heeding with so serious an air not so much his words as a part of him that had been silent.

“Why don’t you speak frankly with me, ever?” she said at last.

“What do you want to know?”

“I want to know about you, Quincy—not about all these ideas with which you keep on fighting yourself!”

He sneered at her. “Aren’t they worth anything, then?”

“Not in your mouth, Quincy,” was her quick rejoinder.

It was his turn to look intent. He felt somewhat ashamed to meet her little, soft eyes. He saw the crinkly flesh about them. He felt guilty in so scrutinizing her. But to hide his shame and guilt he had to keep on looking. And as he did so, Adelaide grew fearful of her boldness, regretful lest she had wounded him. Truth, after all, was less important than his well-being. If truth made him uncomfortable, it was a thing to be slain! With a real victory in her hands, she gave it up. She rose and went toward the door.

“You’re busy. I’ll not disturb you now”—and she left.

Quincy looked where she had gone. And then, he looked at his work.

“Damn!” he said. “I’m too tired to-night”

He put on his hat and coat and went to a nearby vaudeville. He had an empty evening. Thereby, he managed to escape his sister, himself, the suddenly obnoxious sales-slips. For the sales-slips, he hated Adelaide; for Adelaide, he hated the sales-slips;—for entertaining either feeling, he hated himself. It was a{317} little case of general annihilation—a first, subtle, unconscious taste of the delights of emptiness....

This taste was nourished in talk with Marsden.

Marsden was thirty. Without aid or consultation, there he was—a mature man! This seemed wonderful to Quincy who had never dared or cared to watch him grow, It seemed right to him that a cripple should be a child—or a young man. But to be thirty and have to be wheeled about; to have grey hair and no salary; to be very wise, yet very helpless! Quincy felt the same malaise in Marsden’s presence that might have been expected of a stranger. He was resolved that this must change. And it was interesting, now they talked together, to watch this gnarled being gather itself tight and close from the mists which in Quincy’s former thoughts had constituted Marsden. As Quincy now listened to his words, he watched his head. And he was minded of a shell, full of the murmur of some vastness which it derided through its own emptiness. Here also, was a sense to be submerged like his first taste of the City.

Said Marsden: “I never had much use for you, Quincy, for I always took you for a ninny.”


As the boy asked, he heard his voice, rather high and tremulous against the resonance of Marsden’s. This contrast made him conscious that he was being swayed, in the very accusation, to agree with it.

Marsden answered him. His willingness to talk to Quincy was a new thing—a compliment. So, at least, the boy took it. He was being noticed, he was being taken into consideration. The boy allowed no doubt of the value of all this. He allowed no memory of other notice, of other consideration which had been{318} given him, and in the light of which all this was mockery. That way lay hating his new self. And self-satisfaction had to win.

Marsden had been aware of his desire, exerted through all his youth, to erect idealities against life’s barrenness and to feed on these. Marsden seemed to assume that, of course, such a behavior was both bad and foolish; that life’s barrenness was the sole thing to acknowledge, that feeding on any ideality, or any ideality on which to feed, was adjunct to the name of “ninny.” The boy bowed—asserting that he had changed.

“I think you have,” said Marsden. And Quincy was gratified once more.

It was now, that the sensation and the delight of emptiness were furthered.

“What is the use,” Marsden rhetorically asked, “what is the use of blinking the facts?—Here we are, having to feed ourselves and get some pleasure out of the world. If you deny the world it will deny you, and that means—wipe you out. If you please it, it will give you a little something. Of course, even then, it will cheat you and finally run you through the shoulder-blades. But if you don’t please it, it won’t give you even the little that cheating you implies. It won’t give you even the breathing-space before the dagger-thrust. It will not let you come to life, at all. And then, what have you got? Dreams;—a handful of shoddy, aged make-believes that will poison you with their mold and rust.”

All this—and more of the sort—proved Marsden’s new friendship for his brother. Quincy was very glad to have it. It occurred to him that here was a cripple happier than he had been! a cripple, therefore,{319} to be emulated! He wanted to be happy. He had not been happy long on the old path. If dry bones and a bent back pointed an easier way than the glad promptings of his own rhythmic body, then manifestly the impellings of free muscles and of eyes that danced in the sun must be denied. It might seem natural to find gaiety through them and the old plays that he had undertaken. But it was not so. Wiser it was, then, to incline before the successful mandate of dry bones and a bent back. Moreover, in this new atmosphere of business, Marsden seemed to fit in as less of an anomaly, more of a norm. There was a somewhat all about him kindred to this cripple with his aging head and his brittle, tottering body and his cavernous hot eyes. Marsden appeared to him almost as a symbol and a prophet. If he accepted the City, it was an apt step to accept him. And if he went about in the City extolling its nature, denying its deformities, then Marsden also ceased to be a sickly monster. To this Quincy had brought himself—to this brink of assimilation. In his old world, the sun’s slant through the trees had been the morning’s journalistic headline, a tender man’s word the affair of state, his own surviving spirit the season’s crop;—there, Marsden had indeed been a poor, pitiable outcast, a grotesque denial of the world’s lilt, to be avoided and to be feared. But now it was different. Marsden’s limbs seemed no longer an exception to the world’s meaning—which had grown also lame and palsied. His malignant power, smouldering in the gloom of his infirmities, seemed of a note with the world’s might, smothered as deep in its rotting malady. Marsden’s philosophy sat on his helplessness and healthlessness, making them power and a grim enjoyment. And even so, Quincy’s new world builded its{320} prestige from its barriers, mined its pride from the innumerable things—its wealth and laws—that cluttered it, gleaned pleasure from a poverty of vision making real freedom and real adventure undesirable.

Marsden and the City—how one they were! Marsden in his cripple’s chair that was the seat of his dominion, Marsden who had builded his state and founded his pleasure in the sick senses of his being. And the City which gained its eminence and reason also from its shackles, from its myopia, from its deformities. Eloquently, these two, shut off alike from nature’s rhythm, thriving alike in the shelter of their moribund condition, fitted together.

And now, won by the hard glamor of their perfection within their morbid limits, Quincy elected to join their company. Marsden the cripple must be his captain. For no wild flower, standing alone, was shielded in such permanence and might as he.

This extremity of choice tokened the violence of effort which Quincy put to his so-called adjustment; and this violence of effort proved the strength of what still held him back. Needless to say, in all this time, Quincy did not grow fond of Marsden; he never reached the stage of even being comfortable in his presence. But in so far as he had not grown fond of work, nor of the City either—not grown comfortable in them, the analogy of resolution to abide with them and with his brother suffered no shock. If aught gave way in this factitious structure, it must be the base. All had been builded logically. And logic in a superstructure is a good thing; logic in a foundation is a lie. And the first gust of feeling, the first tremor of the unconscious, may make it totter.

Meantime, Quincy furrowed a rut for himself in{321} Mr. Cugeller’s office. He went about with Adelaide and with her friends. He struck up an acquaintance with a young man called Herbert Lamory, who worked beside him.

Lamory was a cousin of Mr. Cugeller—a handsome boy who spent money handsomely even though he did not have it. He took Quincy about—introduced him to his acquaintances—undertook his education. He was bright and charmful, shallow and content. Quincy grew very fond of him.

And so, the year went. Work progressed admirably. Its new intricate developments from the stupid beginnings captivated Quincy in a sense. So he applied himself. And he had a mind that could have mastered far more difficult tasks than those of business. That is, he had a real mind, whereas business requires chiefly an applied and unvarying intuition. This same mind, intent on business, must have made him prosper. But mind has a way of varying and wandering. And if this takes place, it is worse in business—infinitely worse—than no mind at all. However, that time was not yet.


Herbert Lamory became a help to Marsden. By this friendship was assuaged in Quincy the lingering discomfort of being a disciple. Herbert seemed pleasant practice to what his brother had so miserably marked in theory. Herbert also was warped, eyeless, deformed. Yet, with all this, he had contrived to found a really pleasurable Helicon. Quincy liked Herbert. And the spirit within him of his Protestant forefathers was glad at having so amiable a pasture wherein to let out his brother’s and the City’s perverted dogmas.{322}

At a subscription dance to which Herbert took him, Quincy again met Clarice Lodge.

The lit cold room seemed to glance off from the slender heads and the throats of the men and women, so that it was they who were really lit and cold. The figures pressed down below the rigid walls smothered in gilt and fluting and brocade—a mass of colorless detail despite the gowns, a cluttering of motionless undeviation despite the dancing. And of a sudden, all of it was a unit addressing Quincy with a strained air—like some beplastered woman between the times of desire and seed, who talks to an indifferent neighbor, glancing beyond him. Yes: it was old, it was rouged and, if one watched beneath the dazzle of lace, even a trifle knock-kneed and a trifle lame! Yet its voice as it addressed him was high and piercing. What troubled Quincy was that there should be no way of answer. He went through the gesture of understanding and of being part. He also talked to an indifferent neighbor, yearning beyond.

The dance and rigid music gave way to innumerable little eddies physical and murmurous, of conversation. The long hall shrunk in this more intricate design. The crowd turned upon itself with false gestures of ease, deeply aware of its own stiffness. All of this life moved as if embarrassed by what neighbored it. So its impulse became broken also, its voice became a sum of flinty, too small mosaics, its movements lignified. Here and there was the gleam of an eye lit by a mind. And where that was, there was a note dissenting, a line out of all composition with the rest. Quincy was learning balance. He held himself erect in this disharmony of currents, joined so compactly because the place and the purpose formed a like{323} disharmony. He was swirled about here, like a canoeist amid mild breakers, where the ocean meets the land and it is neither land nor ocean. There was no sense here of direction so that his swirling to and fro was proper. All that was needed was not to be submerged. And this prowess, Quincy had attained. By being aware of the unit of all this, the surface grew hard beneath him so as to support him. In this consciousness, he was sustained from pressing upon one point, from sinking with a weight of interest below the convention-outlined waves. So long as he could survive in this impersonality, he was safe.

And then, he espied Clarice Lodge.

With this stress, the dance grew tenuous; the crowd turned from hard, choked material to vapor; the music which had been obtrusive, separate, was a mere rhythm of accompaniment. All of it in a trice became an incense to him. It had been external, alien—copable. Now, it was no case of balancing above it nor of falling in. All of it was an atmosphere. And all of him was a maze of pores, aching and yearning to receive.

He pressed his way toward her through shreds and fragments of life that gesticulated, gyred, sent up and over him their acrid wafts of perfume. A silk gown swished against him; a bare arm touched his hand; a pointed slipper scarred the surface of his own. The couples stood close together, clapped their hands metallically for an encore. The band turned back into the nearly naked rhythm it had just torn to scraps—repiecing it. The couples swayed and slid away. He lost his quarry in the once more thickening, knotted turmoil—half substance and half atmosphere. He was whiffed to the margin of it. He stood now, flanked by a long straggled row of men, until once more{324} the music gave him respite to resume his search.

The crowds streaked off with the last chord—veering from the center maëlstrom in tangents of silk and strutting black, subsiding once more in little puddles of voice and posture. As Quincy passed, he felt about him the heat of barely mastered sex slakishly a-stir beneath its gossamer guards of dress and of convention; he caught the shrill flush of the repressed and the unconscious, fretting the smooth lines of talk and rendering cramped the lissome carriage of these bodies. Though his eyes saw no soil, no awkwardness, it was as if he felt the presence of a creamy silk smutted with sweat, or of a gentle drapery tortured from shape by some protrusion. Then he almost ran into Clarice.

She was far more surprised as their hands clasped, than he. For she had changed more. And this was her domain. He had kissed her, so of course she recalled everything about him. He who had been, remained like a crystal in her memory. This Quincy, she knew. Of no other Quincy had she the slightest cognizance. So she was really amazed, finding him in this new strange milieu that was her own, who in her mind could never change from the wild boy of nearly four years past. This flash from her old self had an effect almost as intimate as if his embrace and talk had actually been repeated, there in the glitter of the ball. And as she must have rebuffed any advance at such a time, so now she turned cold and hot for Quincy, from no reason more real than the reality of her recollections.

But if Clarice was disturbed by the old spirit—all she caught,—Quincy was dazed by the new, outer form. And this was the more unwieldly, so that, in a trice, she was the master. Close on her impulse to{325} fend him off for having ventured an old impression in so unapt and new a place, came a desire to attach to him, a nostalgia for her old self whom he had known. In him, she could enjoy this glint of herself at seventeen. For there was the lad she had played with! Her proper partners would not see her metamorphosis. She could be the old Clarice, as this stiff young man was the old Quincy. Her technique of delusion—her need of it—was sharp enough for far harder, less true games.

And so it was that in the blare of a waltz on a crowded floor, Quincy was seen more truly than he would see himself that night, at home, surrounded by the pretensions that he dared not give up.

Clarice cut back to their last talk, once they were alone. Quincy tried bravely to show in the words he spoke that he had changed. And Clarice laughed him out quite as she had laughed out his older pretensions. Thus, they fared well together. And with another dance, filched like the first from one of the proper partners, she invited him to call.

The City’s intricate machinery for bringing about what is already there—an engine for making paper leaves grow on real trees—creates a pathetic dualism even in its girls. It provides well that the gulf of after-marriage between their natures and their positions may be sure to have had time to widen. Already in their choice of friends, girls know the limitations of the laws that bind them, develop a technique of evasion, straddle two mounts in order to ride two ways. And if later, as a clear due of this, they are torn limb from limb, man with his insect vision blames their desire to ride, instead of the false direction in which they have been placed.{326}

It was with some such canny calculation that Clarice welcomed Quincy. She knew well the sort of man whom she must wed. She was able to judge how his capacity for filling certain major needs of a conventionalized life must unfit him for many pleasant matters. She was well prepared to split herself in two, dally with Quincy—while she went on hunting for a husband. And having already classified his assets and her demands on him, she was little prone to tolerate Quincy’s offering aught else. She was well able to cope with the boy’s set resolve to be one of the City’s crowd in his relations. She had plenty of such. And besides, his very desperate wish, now, to show his right within those ranks was proof that she knew, far better than he, what Quincy really was.

And so it came about that the first evening in which he called at her home was the onset of a new consciousness in Quincy. He found it difficult even to mention what at home, or with Herbert, was almost a matter of boast:—that he had abandoned college after three years in order to enter business. He found it hard to air his new born materialism; then hard not to conceal it. He found it hard to take pride in his new contentment; and finally, to be content! Doubtless he felt already that these elements, wherewith he had won recognition since his return, were not the ones that Clarice sought in him. But the significance of this was a slow-dawning thing. First it was imperative that he somewhat understand the qualities of her who was to cherish those self-stultified qualities of himself.

He found a fund of disillusion in Clarice. Bravely and openly she despised the atmosphere she lived in. He was afraid to. For with him, to despise it, was to stop breathing it. For her, this did not seem to{327} follow. Clarice was not alone quite sure that she would persevere in this land whose mockeries she knew; she was willing to. And she gleaned a constructive aim for her energies in knocking down as she ran along. Here was a mystery for Quincy. The strange admixture of tenderness and flint, joy and detachment, which Clarice displayed, was unknown to him. Willingly, he would have stated that such a girl could not in reality exist. Yet there she was—intellectually radical, emotionally set and conserved—more than existing, living with a clear efficiency and a firm conscience! Nothing she gave him, Adelaide could not have given him to know. But his spirit’s pores were open here. With his unfortunate sister all of him was shut and rigid. That was why these talks counted more.

Clarice knew Herbert Lamory slightly. She had never asked him to call.

“He is pretty empty, I think,” she said. “When I talk with him, it is as if I were talking with a glazed terra-cotta brick on the wall of some one of a million buildings in New York. He fits in just so unobtrusively.”

Quincy realized that this was true, and that, because of this very fitness and his desire to emulate it, he had aligned himself with Herbert.

She went on: “I really can’t understand your devotion to him. You say you’re chums? It reminds me a bit—” she smiled, “of the devotion of a man in the sea for a piece of sea-weed that happens to be floating.”

“A man in the sea is out of his element,” protested Quincy.

“Precisely,” she was content with saying. And as he pondered, there came a pause.{328}

Clarice had something to say upon the subject of failure. Quincy had broached it.

“Think of all those young fellows in our office,” he exclaimed, “and as many more in any other office. How few of them could ever, by reason of actual physical conditions rise from the menial places they now hold! After all, each office has only a few heads. And twenty years from now there won’t be enough new offices to give high places to all these men.”

“No,” said Clarice. “But don’t you think very probably, that only those who really fit will get ahead? I don’t think it is brains or hard work or even luck that makes men succeed in New York. It’s fitting-in.”

“Well, can’t that be learned?”

“I know something about dogs,” said Clarice. “That’s what I’m really talking about, only I’m substituting offices for kennels. Well, blue ribbons aren’t earned, you know. The quality that wins them is there from the beginning. Your other puppies get the same food and the same care. But they don’t earn the ribbon even though they are twice as clever and as strong as the dog that does. Isn’t there an artificial standard for getting ahead in an artificial city? Well—diligence and mind are natural things, the result of natural energies. And what have natural energies to do with artificial standards? I tell you, you must fit in from the beginning. If you don’t, you’ll be like the vast majority of dogs in a kennel—an underdog.”

Quincy felt embarassed. He avoided Clarice’s eyes. But she smiled into him.

“Why did you come and join the kennel, my faun friend?”

“Why did you?” he flashed back at her.{329}

“I am happy here.”

“Well, so am I.”

“It’s the happiness of a bravado. Wait till it wears off. But no, Quincy—don’t wait! You’ll be used to life here, by then. Used to it, that is, enough not to be able to get used to any other. Used to nothing—in other words.”

“You are a very wise girl, Clarice.”

“I was wiser than you, even that summer. That was why I was willing to like you—willing to like you, Quincy, as much as you cared to ask for;—but not willing to see you in New York! In fact, you were exceedingly foolish.”

The young man leaned back in his chair (a posture denoting ease) and looked at her. Four years had at once subdued and strengthened her. Her hair was a duller gold and her eyes looked grey in the shaded light, whereas the gleam of the summer sun had then brought out the spring in them—the green. Her body was no less slender, no taller. But her mastership had calmed it, given it a composure in unison with the firm cut of her dainty mouth and the regular line of her small nose. Quincy had not liked her hands, since they had been both short and soft. Now they seemed lighter, freer, longer. They seemed to have the power now to poise and balance. They had been the paws of a rather destructive savage; they and her eyes had altered most. Quincy was awed, not by herself but by the feeling of aloofness that stood between them, making their past of comradeship unreal. Yet the dash and spice of this made her all the more desirable, despite the accent of mentorship and of superiority that now seemed natural to her.

And then, from this easeful figure so composed be{330}fore him, his mind glanced back—she was still too hard for piercing—and fell upon himself. Again, it seemed to Quincy that he had made a mistake. Again, it became easier to turn against himself, plough there, rend there, than give calm heed to the force that did this and make his venture elsewhere.

Clarice seemed so intact, so right! Quincy felt disgust at his own lack of measure before this girl. She was younger than himself in years; he had branded her, and, he was sure, once turned her down as a hard flirt. Yet, despite her lack of mind and of experience, how ably she had mastered her environment compared to him; how well turned all the swirling things about her to her advantage, to her own channels, in contrast to his floundering and illusions and utterly unformed bravado! For what could he think of his new armor and his new creeds when a few talks with Clarice disintegrated them, sent them pell-mell, haphazard like the little evil live things seen through a microscope in a glass of dirty water?

He thought of Adelaide and his behavior there came to him more nearly in its proper light. He had never faced her, either. But since she was tender and soft and inefficient, he had been able to fend her off. That was not prowess. He felt sorry for her ineptitude; angry at her for not being able better to present her case since it was worthy and since he had need of it. Adelaide, self-asserting, might have saved him from these pitiful, merciless results of a few encounters outside the Rut. He blamed her for it. And once again the old vision of Marsden came to him—as if it had been new—of Marsden the unclean thing, and of the City that was his temple.

But all of these things were uncomfortable and fleet{331}ing as yet. For both reasons they must not seem important; they must not seem to last.

Here, before him was Clarice, looking at him, delving within him doubtless, for the causes of his silence.

What if she were to find them!

Quincy clasped his hands, and let them fall cavalierly to his knees. He was in danger—that part of him that was the City’s thing. So the City came to his rescue. It supplied him with a smile, a fund of evasive talk, an armor for fencing himself away. And so, with sick foreknowledge how, he made his slippery escape.

The rest of the evening was a duel—her knowing thrusts, his parryings that grew forever more self-conscious, more defensive, more half-hearted.{332}


Quincy was in his new room, alone. Just back of and above his head burned a naked gas-jet for which he had not yet bought a globe. To his right was an open window and within it, the street; within the street were autumn and the city. It was a quiet street. Its smooth pavements answered the beat of traffic as a windless lake responds to the tossing of pebbles. From each liquid impact went forth a wreath of murmurs to an impassive marge, like ripples on the water. He was that marge. Yet, from another point he was that stone, weighted and insignificant, dropped on the surface murmur now turned lake, and wrinkling for the brief span of passage—to the bottom. Car-bells and human voices lay upon the undertone like false jewels on a rich garment. Their movement trembled, cutting through the haze of evening sound as a jewel’s gleam might fall on satin. Quincy stood silently receptive, while the light dozed about him and the violet evening grew purple night through the window. Before his eyes was a mirror. He was examining himself.

He saw his face. He saw his sinewed neck drawn down within the flaring collar of his open shirt. He saw the muscles move on his haired forearm; he saw the knotted twist and the lean length of his hand. He met his eyes. From the reflected yellow flame, they glowed almost bronze beneath their blue. It was as if violets were blooming among autumn stubble—an im{333}possibility. Just so, there was the hectic flush beside the spring freshness of their mien. He was young. Yet, his way of gazing in the glass was the way of one who had been a journey. He left his eyes and saw his mouth. The lips were brown. Vertical, faint lines broke their roundness as the parch cracks the earth. And then, his eyes’ focus wandered, receiving all of him. He saw himself.

As he looked, the form of his long head and of his flaring forehead fallen over with black hair was within his gaze like a clear thing in a mist. As he looked, he could not but watch his mouth part, his upper teeth bite down upon his lower lip, his jaw thrust gradually forward, the lines of his throat straighten and hollow with strain. At the same time, his eyes grew more reflective of the glow above him, less tinged with the blue that came from within. His eyes also were rigid. His hands were on his hips. And his arms fell, relaxed as his face rose, stiffened. But gradually there was less of this; always less. For it was not this at which he looked.

As the picture on the glass grew dimmer, he began to think—another way of looking. The mental picture waxed, until it was no less clear, no less striking. But it was bitterly at variance with the other. He had not escaped the charm of strength and rhythm in this portrait of himself. But all of it was irony, as he turned inward. And thus inclined, the outer semblance hung upon his thoughts as does a gay refrain pinned, for its recurrent mockery, to a sad song.


There had been this scene at home—the new home—the Frondham mansion, as they let their guests know.{334}

“If your father commutes, I don’t see why you can’t.”

“But Mother, Father doesn’t have to be in town until so much later.”

“Well,—you’re so much younger. That evens matters.”

“Perhaps Quincy doesn’t want to live at home any more,” Adelaide suggested.

“I guess that’s it,” from Quincy. “It’s a good chance to strike out alone.”

“Very well, my son.” Josiah whipped himself into a state of being injured. “Go, by all means. But if you leave the house—you pay your own way.”

“I can afford to. I’m making twenty dollars a week.”

“Go, then,” said the old man. “It’ll do you good.”

Sarah sighed. Adelaide, who suffered most, was the one who did not cast a dart by way of godspeed.

“You’ll come out week-ends, dear?” she said, placing her hands about his face.

But Quincy was angry at the ease with which his father seemed to shake him off.

“If I have nothing better to do,” he exclaimed, stepping away from Adelaide. His mother clasped her hands at this. And his father shook his head angrily, thinking thus to token his indifference.

“You may come when you like—or stay away!” he said.

“So this is how I am repaid! This is how I am repaid!” cried Sarah.

“Why, Mama—”

“Don’t talk to me! I’m beginning to see how right your father used to be. Come, Josiah.”

She was the more severe, because, that season,{335} Quincy had been the more amenable. Only parents who are not fond are not bullies.

Meantime, Marsden, knowing long ere this that he had lost his short-lived disciple, whistled a tune.

For there had been many things prior to this brief and trenchant consummation. But this was the immediate way that Quincy came to live alone, that autumn, in a boarding house in Murray Hill.

It was a natural step to take with his family an hour from the City. And this, his family knew. He had even mentioned contemplating it, that summer. There had been no talk then. But it would have been unseemly to their particular etiquette not to have protested at the moment of action. Had Quincy succumbed to their formal outburst and remained, he would have won for it no praise or grateful comment. Nor, in the stand he made, did he incur a serious blame. The family was sure to forget the strained discomfort which, by tradition bound, it was required to inject on any move, any decision whatsoever. Quincy would not be harshly judged. Quincy would not be less welcome. He knew that this being disagreeable merely eased a family, that the throwing its weight to “Nay” and tarnishing a normal impulse with its inertia’d hue and cry went always, by its nature, before accepting.

That first evening, he had seen Clarice.

He had taken her to dine at one of the French restaurants that garnish the side-streets of Broadway. He was aglow in the momentum of his self-freeing step. He had found his friend at first remarkably atune to the glad impulse in him.

They faced each other over the narrow little table. The unusual surroundings, the packed clamor of the guests, sharpened in each a sense of intimacy with{336} the other. They drank the red wine that had been brought without their asking for it. Quincy was proud of the fresh firm girl that marked him off from the other men with their faded or drab or hectic women. And Clarice was proud, seeing in Quincy a man strong enough to run the race when its rhythm pleased him, without the engulfment that degraded all these other men—their slavish dress, and their inelastic hands and their stamped features.

She lifted her glass; its scarlet made her wrist a mere shred of white.

“Here’s to the new, old unbroken Quincy. May he have the strength he needs!”

The boy did not understand. As they clinked glasses:

“What do you mean?” he said.

“Are you so confident that you don’t feel the need even of a toast to hearten you?”

“What do you mean?” he could do no better than repeat.

She laughed and leaned back in her chair and poised him so.

“There is only one side of you—or is it depth?—that means anything to me, at all. One side only, that I will tolerate. I drank to that.”

And then, seeing his quandary in his eyes, she went on.

“Can you imagine yourself, Quincy dear, as just a lost note in this ugly din?—here it is all about us. Of course you can’t! But I can. Because I know so many such—because most of me is just that sort—and dedicated to it. Well, if you shrink ever to be just part of the din, you’ll be lost to me; you’ll be worse, even worse than I am. You’ll be utterly and{337} dismally negligible. I shan’t be able to notice you at all.” She paused. “Quincy—I’m straining with you with all my might, so that shan’t be.”

Why would she not accept him, whatever he might be, or turn to? Why was she always a taskmaster before she would be friend? Why did she demand that he work for her smile?

At last, he spoke this out.

“You don’t care for me a bit, just for myself.”

“That’s sentimental! Of course, it is what you can give me, what differentiates you, that I can care for. Otherwise, why am I dining just with you?”

He shook his head. He had come there swinging in his momentum. And Clarice was standing still. She had a philosophy against moving with him. It occurred to him that this rational friendship was the antipode of love. And this troubled him—unreasonably, since he felt no love for her.

There was a dear light in Clarice’s eyes—while all his mind grew blurred.

“You don’t despise—just being,” she rebuked him. “Just being has eaten into you a bit. Whenever I look at you, I feel the danger that you are going to melt away; and that in your place where I was so glad to know you, I shall some day find a ghost, an echo, an empty shell—like the rest.”

“And what do you give me, to help keep me real? A set of rules!”

Clarice sobered. He had touched her, there. She wanted him to be strong, to be true. But out of her own weakness yearning for all this in him, there came no strength to help him. She shrugged. But she could not deny his accusation.

Gradually their talk sagged into a minor key. It{338} was clear to Quincy that if he failed—even if he complied with the life about him—he would simply, automatically fade from Clarice’s consciousness; it would be as if he were not, and as if—passing him on a crowded street—her eyes looked through him and did not warm. It was clear to him that this was not right. And it was clear to her that this could not be different.

But to neither of them was it known that perhaps her need was as great, in all this, as his....

So they had parted. Here also, there was no mischance, no real clash.

If he stood that night before his mirror, fearful and harassed, it was entirely what Quincy found within himself—or failed to find—that tortured him.


He thought, then.

Another year laden to his accounts. And no doubt of how to qualify that year—a year, another year of treachery! By it the latter episodes of college had not been erased. Rather they had served as easy slopes leading down to that which followed. A nadiral year!

But Quincy’s jaw thrust out. He knew it. He was alone. He stood against a blank, grey wall, facing the truth. There was no praise of self, no pride, no confidence in his position. There was no alternative. There were merely the nausea of the past, the grim facing of the present, the not caring for the future.

Quincy was about to enact, simply, clumsily, the Word that his heart spoke; to become sincere; to become chastened of all things save that Word’s sim{339}plicity and the co-ordination with it, of his deed. Quincy was about to be a man.

He was become eased of worldly irritations. They seemed to have left him permanently. They had been a help to his false self, what time he shut his senses to the hurts of spirit. In dwelling upon them, he had been better able to persevere without a consciousness of deeper pains. All of that had belonged to the first year. He had chafed, then writhed, then railed against the City....

The hammering monotony of huge buildings that were neither beautiful to look upon nor useful to be dwelt in—monuments of vanity and folly, hideous with stolen decoration no one understood, or lavished with detail, intricate, costly, stupid that no one ever saw, sheathed in insincerities whose one successful purpose was to hide the structures,—and these, twice as tall as conditions warranted, built with money that was needed—sorely needed—elsewhere; the fetid subways, packed with humanity as no humane company would pack a poultry car, cesspools that stunk in summer and were a stain upon the community that used them, always; the crass, nasty, lying theaters of Broadway, expressive of a mudworm’s aspirations; the spiritless cafés that interspersed them, ruled and erected to glorify the souls of lackeys, serving bad food no one would eat elsewhere at the expense of entertainments no one would sit through elsewhere: the unending blight of magazines and journals—made from the crushing of fair forests into wood-pulp!—one built upon the sweaty, fatuous dimensions of a traveling salesman, one leveled at the rouged, frilled creature that lazes in a cheap flat, mothers a puppy and dreams of motors, a third aimed to titillate the woman{340} with less sex, more children, a wider hallway but no more brains—littered all and innumerably, with false optimism, false advice, false pictures and false plots: the blatancy of the ensemble—its utter uselessness—journals screaming above the houses, traffic screaming above the public halls, clubs glittering above the shops, theaters and restaurants exhibiting above the brothels—all of it shutting out the blue of heaven, the glance of the sun on the Hudson, the murmur of the few surviving trees, the spirit of the few surviving souls. And the mad misery of the dwellers!—proud to be smothered in the biggest subway, proud to be cheated in the biggest stores, proud to be lied to by the biggest journals, proud to be sheep in the biggest pen!...

But all this was behind Quincy. All this was behind him, as is the surface when a man has burrowed deep. All this was. But it was unimportant. And none of it would be, if each man so burrowed beneath it to the poisoned ego of which all of it, in cumulation, was a putrescent outer deposit. It interested Quincy no longer. He had no time to dwell on it, or to inveigh against it. He was engaged upon himself.

Here was a new sort of serenity—the sort that accepts a certain thing as an economy of strength for fighting elsewhere; the economy, not of blinking the truth, but of indifference to superficial falsehood. This is the economy of the artist toward what is evil, and of the priest toward what is contradictory to his faith. Quincy applied it to what had so far engrossed and maddened him.

Dwelling upon the City’s faults—by feeling them, combatting them—he had no time or muscle for himself. Now, he plowed deeper.

But all of this was, after all, no wondrous vision{341} or wondrous might coming to Quincy. So it did not seem even to him, although in contrast to the darkness and debility of his former states, he might well have been pardoned if it had. Quincy was not, of a sudden, over his stammering and his stumbling.

He had exhausted two extremes of error. He was bound—he was sure—to be, this time, less wrong than he had been. As the wise East has said: All progress is through a series of disgusts.

Here he was, then, twenty-two, earning his living, living alone—unhampered by too great devotion either for any man or for any woman. He had the feeling, now that the City no longer troubled him, that family was gone, and business ran smooth, of being able to swing his arms and legs without obstruction. This was his start. Here was his race. During it, his sense of progress was in the things he passed. Until the end, he would not know in his weariness how fast and hard he had gone; in his position how far and whither he had come. The rest of the consciousness of Quincy was to be the consciousness of motion.

He had himself now, to traverse, to judge, to reckon with. His freedom of external bars did not give him freedom, did not make him light. But it loosed him upon the realler things. It gave him a movement wherein, for the first time, really to know. And a dark thing known is a dark thing made light. A heavy thing in motion is a heavy thing to stop.

Here, then, was Quincy’s start within himself. At last, he was flowing forward—all of him, from depth to surface. He had bent back reality to fit childish loves of mother or of dream; he had warped the natural offshoot of these loves to make them fit reality; he had denied one or the other, twisted them, dammed{342} up his life’s current in order to have a smooth lake for lolling or a dry place for forgetting. This was over. He was flowing forward. Stormily, muddily, cramped. But yet, a passage....{343}


Quincy sat on a rock that formed part of a stone fence. About him were briars of blackberry in bloom. It was May. Before him, the brow of the hill rose gently a half hundred feet. And above that was the falling sun. Its golden glow flushed the green stretch; little innumerable shadows, greyish purple, were in those depths of the grass where the sun could not enter. A single tree—an elm—stood between the skyline and Quincy’s fence, just to the left of the sun. The wind skimmed up the hill and turned the elm-leaves silver. Below Quincy’s back, through a thick fringe of elder and maple bushes, was a collaret of locust trees. And in the valley was a little town. Its murmurs rose and mingled with the trill of the trees. A subtle counterpoint met Quincy’s ears—a fugue of leaf and whistle and children’s voices; of a motor-horn and a girl’s laugh and a raven’s crow; of an infant’s cry and a wagon’s crunch and a cricket....

Meantime, the sun went down for Quincy. In the village, it was still day,—and on the hill-top.

Quincy descended to the railroad station. But by that time, of course, it was evening everywhere.

He took a train back to the City. He had been in country only for the day. He wore a smart straw hat. A faint moustache composed the tremorous length of his mouth. His eyes gleamed like pale lights in a hollow. Under them were rings of grey. His{344} cheeks were drawn. His head seemed longer than it had been. He had a gaunt and dry look for one who had been in converse with the May sun. There seemed little fire in him. Even his eyes appeared to catch their color from the dark grey that went about them.

Quincy preferred these little lonely trips to the duty-calls on Frondham mansion. He preferred them always. And when, like this day, his mood was strong, even a monthly visit home would have been unbearable.

He left the train, swept toward the exit like a half-floating thing among light jetsam upon a rapid current. This occurred to him. For, though he did not associate the thought, he said to himself:

“Most people succeed in America, not because they have brains or shrewdness or luck, but because the current is too strong to let them sink.”

Then, he struck across town toward his little flat. As he passed Sixth Avenue, the conjoined noises of the cars, the elevated trains, the trucks, the motors, the newsboys and the surging, shuffling crowds rose, of a sudden, to a terrifying climax—thundered, trembled, crashed. Quincy clenched his fists.

“Good God!” he cried aloud. But the woman with a shawl over her greasy hair, who passed so near as to brush his hand, heard not a word.

Quincy’s head had been empty of thought. He reached the sidewalk. He needed some cigarettes. There was a store at that corner. A fire automobile, painted red, added the clangor of its bell to the general din. Quincy watched it swerve and swing and dodge through the maze of traffic. With his eyes on its twisting thread of crimson, he walked toward the shop and passed the threshold. Next to the tobacco-{345}store there was a pawn-shop. He had entered this, by error.

The wickered counter was before him. Behind it stood a little, swarthy man in a skull cap. At either side was a litter of jewelry, gold watches, ticking alarm-clocks, resplendent canes and pictures. He and the man were in the shop alone.

“What can I do for you, sir?”

Quincy was sure he was going to explain, apologize and leave. His eyes were on a gun-metal object hanging below a gleaming samovar. He lifted his arm.

“How much is that?” he asked.

“The revolver—?”

Quincy trembled. He saw the little man’s sharp eyes stand on his thoughts like beads.

He went home, taking his purchase. He tucked it away beneath some winter underwear that he had camphored for the summer. Then he took off his clothes and calmly went to bed.


He slept well—three hours—until midnight. And then, all of a sudden, he awoke, clear-headed and sleep-less; his state as distinct from that of an earlier instant as is a bright cliff from the sea that slumbers at its foot.

And now, he ceased being the automaton that had gone forth that morning and come back that evening, laden, it is true, with new experience and new possession, but until then unconscious save of the reality of having moved.

He lay in his bed, high up above himself, as if he had stood indeed upon a cliff above the sleepy sea. It was a clear, white cliff. Before him, the sun lay on the opalescent waters. It shot a ray of flame be{346}low his feet. It struck the stone and fell back gleaming to the little waves that lapped it in. Above the sun was a purple cloud. In the cloud was orange lightning! There was the sun, farthest away from all, faintly receding toward the cliff, falling short and tumbling away into the water. There was the orange storm, lurid and encompassing, a little nearer—also beyond. And all about him, despite the sun, despite the glinted sea, was night. Upon it, these many things were visitations.

Was he awake after all? Yes. For there, with all the rest, was his room. He faced a door—a very black door. Its transom was thrown open. And through it came the yellow vagueness of the hall. Other doors were also on that hall. And within them, other people. The little transom let them in and let him out. His watch sang away on a chair, next to his pillow. The vague light of the hall drifted to one side and met the vague light of the window at his head. In this conflict, he saw the meagre gleam of the glass in his bureau. In the morning, he could turn upon one side and see himself reflected there. Now it was a mere ghost of light—a grey pall hung over the darkness. He thought: “I can not see myself, now.” Then, he began to think of himself. The glass in the bureau had helped.

Two years passed through his mind—passed many times; muddled pell-mell, grotesquely stressed, fancifully slurred, parts of them repeated with endless variance until his nerves shrieked for respite, other parts lurking away in the Hinterland, lurid yet ashamed. No reason for this disorder; no rule for the unimaginable gaps, the huddled over-determinations. And yet, withal, a rhythm and a lilt that held him there,{347} gently receptive as one who listens to a well-studied symphony, finding it new.

Rather a dream than a recapitulation. The one measured thing was the little watch, singing away that monotone, the time. Yet, since all the rest lay like a mighty matrix for that beat, it too must have had measure. Perhaps the master of this symphony was a complex composer—too complex to be measured, yet too great not to be enjoyed.

Two years.

What must two years be, in which is nothing that outweighs their number. Not failure. For failure is infinite. Not achievement. For though that be limited, it too transcends counting. What then? Weariness, perhaps? Or a clutter of details signifying the same thing? Or a mass of grey without that spot of gleam which makes parts brighter, greater, than the whole? Or somewhat of all these?

He could rehearse the parts, if he desired. But it seemed more real to let them gyre about at will—as they were doing. Clarice, business, Adelaide and home—a friend looked for, an acquaintance had but not cherished. The indefatigable past, limed with indifference lest it bring nausea. Mother who clamped his ears when she was ineffectually fond. A raise and praise from his employer. Two weeks in the mountains with Lamory whom he had long since detested.... Whom else to go with? Two weeks with himself was no vacation.... Here was such an hour—with himself. And only the lying on his back, so that the two years slid over him, made that hour possible! Two weeks—a thousand such hours? They would have been unlivable! Lamory prevented the woods from speaking to him. At least, since La{348}mory was there, he blamed Lamory. He was glad, therefore, that Lamory had been there. Suppose he had been alone and the woods had not spoken! Yet, there had been this very afternoon. Well—the village had made noises behind his back. Can a pagan make love with a Christian boy peeping through the curtains? Small wonder, the elm trees and the clambering grass had remained silent. By the mercy of God, let it not be that really, really, the woods were always, now, to be silent to him! Quincy shivered in bed and prayed for that.

And his prayer broke away in the middle, to a waking dream. Clarice walked by his side along a path of poplars and silver-birch that was familiar.

“Quincy,” she said, “why don’t you tell me that you love me?”

“Why—do you love me, Clarice?”

He recalled the day when the sun had been a tiny golden pool in a grey firmament and he had kissed her. Now, he kissed her again. He was very happy, somehow, to recall the earlier occasion. And this angered him. His prayer had broken. Now, also, broke his waking dream. He recalled that he had been praying. It seemed strangely significant that he could never sustain his prayers and dreams. Always, always, they straggled into sleep—or into something else. They were the realest of things to Quincy. Naturally, then, his other ways fared little better.

Once more, the two years, outweighing all within them.

Why, just two years? He remembered. Of course, it was an approximation. But with that last summer spent with the family in their unfitting home, the great disgust had been born. It had been the great{349} disgust, not because it was intrinsically greater than all the others marking his life, but because it was the first that he had met—the first that he had grasped—the first that he had dared! He had remained until the fall, marshalling his resolution, throwing away his garret-full of insincerities. And then, clean, light, glistening with spiritual sinew, he had come away to the little room in Murray Hill. Here, his fight had begun. What made him think it was ended? Only two years.

He could find nothing to hate or to deny in those two years. That was a signal reason for recalling them and no other term of his ill-fitting life. He could find nothing to alter or undo. And this also, was brilliantly unique. Yet no more. What pregnancy in these two years? What achievement? What hope gained? Quincy asked himself.... He had bought a pistol.

Then two years, virgin of misdeed, free of dross, forged in a true fire, gave no more than the muddy, lazing, treacherous years before them! Gave no more? Gave less! For those years in which he had stultified himself and which, in turn, he had repudiated, offered memories. He could pasture among them. Filthy and false as he had branded them, they had borne something. Their sin had had a fruit that was sweet. Their wrongness had been pregnant with something that endured. These last two years had been chaste—and sterile. Here was an encouraging observation. It was wrong! He would fight for the true, two years of his life! He would deny the rest—deny Garsted and Deering, deny the woods, deny Rhoda and his mother, deny his dreams. He would deny Julia most of all! All of these things had been wrong, yet they{350} lived! All of these last two years were dead, yet they were right! Here was a new thing to ponder.

The City came into the lists. He had been awaiting this. It threw the balance into a solution. He began to understand.

Two years again—wearying to have lived, wearying to think of. The two years in which he had been alone with the City.

A little squirming thread came out of the welter and ran to an open place. This place was cold and barren and utterly disagreeable. The welter had been fretted with sweet things, streaked with warmth, bathed with perfume. But it had no dimension, no perspective. And the cold place that was open had both of these! The thread was crimson like the fire-car that he had seen in the cold City lights. That rushed to a place which presumably was hot. This thread of his shivered its way to a place that was cold. It was unfortunate. The City had given him a comparison that made him yearn. There was a seed in this!

What was unhappiness? He had been thinking about the City. Now, he pondered this? Well—let his mind reel like a drunken man. It is as good a gait, when one has no place to go, as straight ahead. And that is why drunkards reel. The liquor gives sway to their unconscious self. They do not care to go where they are going. So they go reelingly. So his mind, perhaps. Here it was vainly philosophizing? Let it go.

With relaxation, magically, came an answer.

He had said to himself: “I am unhappy.”

And he had followed it with: “I am glad.”

He would never understand the complete depth of{351} this sincere reaction: that unhappiness is the energy of life, its purest facet, its semen of progression: that to be swept with it is therefore to be alive: and that youth’s glorying in unhappiness is not a fancy, not a form, but an immortal intuition whereby youth renders its account of the world’s essence. Not to be unhappy is not to be destined to create. And every fiber of youth’s soul is drenched with just that destiny, fashioned toward just that consummation—to create. Wherefore, youth’s eternal syllogism: “I am unhappy. I am glad.”

All of this was not conscious to Quincy, lying between night and day under his sheets with the sleepy glow of the transom full in his eyes. But he knew that with his double cry something flew free in him, hovered in the air and beat its wings. He was no longer in a welter now, nor in an open place that froze. He was in New York. And he understood that the barrenness of the two years wherein he had been himself accrued from the inexorable bar between that which he had been and the City which should have mothered his desire. Two of a different form may couple. But they will not bear fruit. He and the City had been together. He had remained himself and so had it. They had been barren of each other. There was the solution.

A good fight it had been. And yet, a hopeless one. Quincy lay in his bed, a-quiver as never before with the sense of the inevitable, with the sense of tragedy. Why had he not made the City molten to his ends? Why, barring this, had he himself been rigid, untransformable? Oh, he had tried! He had twisted himself enough, tortured himself, cut off parts that protruded, warped away parts that differed. But that{352} had been in vain. Here was no task for carpenters. He had tried every means save the two means that were achievement—the two means of mastery. For it requires mastery to mould the City to one’s own end, in one’s own fire. But it requires mastery no less to give all of oneself, wholly, freely, bravely, to be reshaped and recreated. This which he might have done, he had failed to do.

The old fault—the old weakness. Was it the crux of all his interminable misdirections? That he could never give himself entirely—was this why he had not received. That he could never lose himself utterly—was this why he had not found?

Julia flashed on his mind and he did not spurn her. And the point of this association—it flashed also on his mind. The old story—the crux—the kernel of his misadventures.

Was it too late? He was unhappy. That was a sign of hope. But no. It was a token merely that the end was not yet there. He would go on fighting, struggling. But he would not win. Already he knew that he could not hope. He still wished to win; he still wished to hope. This proved only that the end was not yet there.

Quincy lay cold within his sheets, awed by the beauty of his vision.


Like a dank breath, morning blew into the open window. The world shivered; the air was streaked and tremorous with chill. A piercing gleam, splintered into myriad tiny weakling emanations, came stirring upon him with the burdened air. A faint murmur lay hesitant above the damp-drenched streets. The smell of a fresh round to life was shrill in the blue{353} glow. The murmur broke into sharp noises, desperate, marvelously clear. The color of the whole was an unclean reluctance. Here was not morning’s birth, but the night’s grave; the winding sheet of rest; a pall upon the City.

Quincy fell asleep.


The summer was hot and clinging. It sucked the moisture and fruitfulness of men. Quincy suffered along. But he suffered more. For most, the City had its compensations. There were the beaches, the garish playgrounds of Coney Island, the dirty rocks and rotten wharves of East River, studded with naked bodies of boys, draped, crouching forms of girls, who swam and dived and reveled despite the City ordinance forbidding it and the pestiferous state of the sewer-soaked river. None of these means of wringing pleasure from the heat attracted Quincy. The last summer, when it had been far more a bearable proposal, he had declined his mother’s offer that he commute to them. This summer it was out of thought. His mother did not even make the suggestion. So he was alone. Clarice, the one girl he really cared to be with, was away. And he avoided Lamory, ranking him now with half a dozen other uncongenial friends.

He worked hard. He took an occasional harbor sail in the evening. But the fragor of the beaches was foretasted by the packed, chattering masses on the boats. So that there was very little harbor and much intimate association with nursing mothers, with romping boys, with clamorous, obtrusive minstrels, with beery men. The water lay below all this, a satined stretch, ruffled by rude craft, faintly musical and faintly blue and faintly perfumed with the salt. But{354} the irrepressible boat shut it out for the most part. About it, there was naught faint or vague. Quincy would sit in the stern and watch the huddled buildings of lower Manhattan draw together as he drew away. What an eloquent memorial they were—these unkempt buildings—to a vast energy run wild, arrogant, lacking a soul to guide it. He knew the scene’s repute for beauty. But he did little more than shrug his shoulders. New York’s aesthetic he had long since recognized as an uncritical sentimentalism. A mass of ill-related, misshapen, meaningless structures prodding the air with imitation cathedral towers or Egyptian pyramids or fortress battlements could not be beautiful. Yet, as they died away and the blue mist of the harbor thickened and the myriad gold lights came out, shooting their gleam into an overtone, and the water’s murmur turned to a sheen of silver, and the whistles of the water-craft thridded the vagueness with their sharp reports, Quincy changed his mind. The City was now a ghost looming away, a thing of uncanny life, vibrant and portentous;—a thing of beauty. Quincy went back to that first visit of discovery when he had come down, thrilled with adventure, from his college and walked Brooklyn Bridge. The City then had not needed the veil of night and the garlands of the water to make it beautiful. It had not changed. He had. Was it for the better?

It was a heavy summer. Quincy declined his two weeks’ vacation, earning by this display of his heart’s emptiness, the praise of his employer. Week-ends, he spent at home. But they did not rest him. And the little copse in the rear of the house where he had once made revel, was a mockery. The willow tree through whose fingers the sun fell each day became a burden{355} upon Quincy’s sight. It hurt him. He avoided it. He remained with his family. He bathed with them, motored with them, sat on the veranda, doing naught with them. Adelaide had never found him so pliant, so agreeable, so heart-wrenchingly sad. But it was too late to alter the course of this petty tragedy. They were side by side, needing each other, as they had always done, starving and wasting away. They had no hands to clasp each other with, no arms to hold with. But they had breasts, hearts—vainly, since their lips were silent and their words did not concord.


And so, came the fall.

There was naught very new with Quincy. He was unhappy. He was conscious that some day that unhappiness must cease. And that day would be auspicious of what already he felt mistily impending.

Meantime, however, he doubled his visits to Clarice. And Clarice was glad. She had played badly her game of straddling two mounts. Disgust for the one direction, yearning to leave it, grew. And her respect, her need of the new, old Quincy, the brave Quincy that called things by their thrillingly right names, grew also. They were intimate friends. But Quincy never forgot the philosophy that she had given him as hers—her stern determination to mark her life along pragmatic measures. He did not venture to change this; he was not sure that he really cared to. He was fond of Clarice. Encouraged, this fondness might have been easily transfigured. But although Clarice came to look on him as the one fresh part of her living, she also still persisted in the false routine of traveling the desert. So she helped him in no aggressive way to love her, to win her. And no less a way could have{356} swerved Quincy. He had no fuel for passion. Clarice had plenty. But the old creed in her prevented her from giving it. Thus matters stood.

So far, he had been well. But with this fall, he felt an ebb in his physical reserve. He needed more sleep; he ate less food; he drowsed over his work. Often, he came to the office with limbs like lead.

In November came an early snow-storm. Quincy caught cold. He failed to shake it off as he had other colds. He drove himself each morning out of bed, with his head aching and his eyes hot. The office-manager who prized him said to him:

“Quincy—you’re not well. Business is slack. Why not take two weeks off?”

But the boy demurred. What should he do with “two weeks off”? Was not the hard régime of business his salvation, his redemption from the barrenness that parched him, bit into him, when his mind turned toward it? He grew worse. But he persevered. And the office-manager, meeting Josiah Burt one day by chance, mentioned his boy’s condition. Josiah spoke to Sarah. Quincy’s mother took a six o’clock train the following morning to New York. At seven-thirty she was in Quincy’s room. He lay there awake, in bed, parched with fever, his brain sweating with effort, looking at her.

Too disconsolate to demur long, the boy agreed to accompany his mother to Atlantic City.


Thanksgiving time. A vast sea, flashing in the sun. A golden beach standing upon the sea. A squadron of miserable shops and huge hotels, loudly awry in line and decoration, standing upon the beach. A number of garish piers, muddy, shapeless, plastered with{357} advertisements, reaching over the purled waters like the fingers of a lecherous man upon a woman’s breast.

From the far corner of the pier Quincy could sit and hold the ocean in his soul. If he turned, the city sprawled out before him, defiling the sun that shone on it. Innumerable little creatures crawled upon the gleaming board-walk, a black line spotted with the blare of women’s colors. Also, on the beach they pranced like sand-fleas, or rode horses that caught the sun’s spark on their flanks along the combers.

But to turn was not necessary. He sat there, his mother chattering beside him, and essayed not to listen. For hours he would sit and watch the symphony of light within the waves, for hours play at the game of trying to tell the water’s colors. If only his mother had had less to ask him! How he longed for a more humble mother, one to respect his silence, to be mute before his ecstasy. How he would have cherished such a one! But she who was there meant just as well, albeit her deed was different. He must endeavor to bear this in mind.

Sarah’s chief theme was scolding him because he had allowed himself to sicken; and, granting that, because he had not at once called on her. There were many variations—rather similar—to this. But at times, the plethora of words would cease, and then, despite the ugly charm she could cast on him when he silenced her, with her injured mien, the sea came up and spoke to him.

“How wondrous this beach would be,” he cried—a flash of his old self, “if only there were no hotels, no piers, no board-walk!”

“Nonsense!” Sarah, like all good Americans, felt personally hurt at the suggestion that her race had not{358} improved on Nature’s America. “Where could you sleep?—or have your chair rolled?”

There were too many people about; there was too much of this fond mother, who knew so well about Quincy’s body, so little of Quincy’s soul. At least, on these, Quincy blamed the failure of his ironic journey. The passionate sea had beckoned so beautifully to him—to him that once might have known its accent.

He stood alone on the longest pier; his mother left at the hotel. His eyes went out to the horizon and his ears met the plash of the cool, deep waves against the slimed concrete posts. It seemed to him that he must jump—and die. It was a real impulse—one to be squarely met.

No! There was enjoyment in this coolth, hope in the waves’ music, health in the easy, limbered kiss of the sky and the water. The waves slumbered in their bronze rings, topped with sapphire. Beyond was a streak of opal—about a mass of murmurous emerald slaked with fire. How unutterably beautiful was this! He did not wish to be below the waves. It could not be so beautiful when one failed to catch the changes of the sun on the waves’ surfaces. He thought of life. Were its beauties also the sun’s and the sky’s gleam on it? Was it also an opaque mass—smothering, colorless, eyeless—below its surface? The ocean was dead without the wind and the air, the elemental fires and their tides. It was really separate from these. Was this true of life? Was this true of him?

No!—the sun had been a part of him. And if the wind had not, why had he understood its words so well? Desperately, he would cling to his conviction, that though the sea was a subtle, mighty mirror, he was a part of the far things of beauty that swept and flamed{359} and trilled above them both. Unto the last, he would cling to this. And a man clinging lives.


Sarah was back in her home. Quincy was back in the City.

The first evening which the much-affaired young lady found for him, he went to see Clarice. She had to break a dance engagement in order to fit him in, at all. This gladdened Quincy. But the evening was none the less a failure. Clarice seemed mostly the self she showed to the world. Her talk was practical and hard. Within, the cause of this was solely her irritation at Quincy’s supine acceptance of just that self. She longed to have him crush it away—in his arms if need be. So she flaunted it in his face. She meant to goad Quincy on. But she succeeded merely in dejecting him. He was past fighting the van-guards of the City. Its body had annihilated him. He needed help, revivement—not taunting. But Clarice was not yet inclined, even had she felt this, to go so far. Wherefore, Quincy went away, resolved not to come back too soon again.

Meantime, December crept along on its frozen feet—crept along half of its ironic passage. Frost and the blare of lights, frost and the heat of music, frost and the fluency of crowds. A month of paradox is December in Manhattan. Quincy was in no mood for it, even as for its offshoot, the methods of Clarice.

And now, the New Year shook out the wrinkles from its frills and made announcement of its hilarious advent.

Quincy decided to stay alone—not to go home, not to make an engagement. To stay really alone among the millions.{360}

But as the day drew near, something old and clamorous and yearning stirred once more within him. A swan song perhaps, but it amazed him with its lilt and fervor. He feared that lonely night as any lad, brimming with vitality. He wished to live, to joy, to share. Life bubbled. He threw over his diseased resolve—for so he termed it—to stay alone. He was unhappy. He would be glad. His mind swam to Clarice in a bath of colored feeling. He saw her differently. He saw that he wanted her. He saw that she wanted him. He looked upon his place of business as one of promise. He counted his prospects—his income in one year, in two, in ten! He knew that he wished to share the New Year’s Eve with her, with no one else,—and with no one else, his life!

Throbbing with expectancy, half parched in his fever, he dashed off a note to her, inviting her to dine with him alone on the year’s last day—to revel with him alone, into the New. He put a special delivery stamp upon his note and mailed it, fatefully. Then he waited. New Year’s Eve was four days beyond. Would she come? Would he live? Was there a difference between these questions?

That night, her answer came. It read:

Dear, dear Quincy:

Why did you not ask me before? Why do you ask me an impossible thing? You know how I long to spend New Year’s Eve with you. But how can I leave the family party? Please understand! I am broken-hearted. And come soon—soon. I have a date on January 2 that I will break for you. Oh, I would have broken any other date! You will come then. Come to dinner. The family are going out. We will be alone. Oh! how{361} miserable you have made me by holding out this promise of a joyous time that I can not have.

Until January 2—


A blow in the face would have shattered Quincy less than this girlish, forward promise of sympathy and love.

On the last day of the year—late afternoon—Quincy lay on his couch, on his stomach, supporting his head in his two hands, re-reading that letter.

The promise was precisely what he could not bear. The widening train of cherished things possessed, of things to do, was what he could not bear. Quincy was weary. All of him that was still flushed with life he had raised in his invitation for that night—no other—to a point. He had hoped his highest hope, fixed his highest joy, named his highest holding. He had missed—or Clarice had missed. He wanted nothing more. He wanted no longer any hope or joy or holding. He was done.

So, at least, it seemed to Quincy. Once more he laid his trouble upon one place and thought thereby to make it no longer his.

He thought little of Clarice as he went out, that last night of the year, to eat alone.


New Year’s Eve. Carnival time in the City. Carnival in the Latin lands makes one forget poverty. Carnival in New York makes one remember it.

It was late when Quincy had done dining. The restaurant had been nearly empty. He alone sat without a neighbor. A huge woman in a red waist that made her lips look blue fed her lover—a wisp of a man—with a spoon; fed him soup. All of the restaurant{362} laughed at this. In a corner were two slack-chinned Jewish men talking business. They also stopped and laughed. Quincy felt nothing.

He faced uptown. He had dined at a well-known eating place on Grand Street. His idea was to run the gamut of the City. Now, he was on the Bowery.

The night was bitterly, humidly cold. It ate into his face and hands like innumerable pointed icicles. Clotted throngs of revelers—pale boys, daubed girls—shouting, pushing, scrambling past him. Pied horns at their mouths, feather mops to tickle with in their unsavory hands. A crass atmosphere of roughness, ugly and strained and starved. The dingy Bowery rolled ahead with its sepulchral lodging-houses, its crashing elevated structure, its glint of drink. Squalid eating shops in a pathetic holiday regalia: American flags, red ruching, vari-colored placards bidding “Happy New Year!” enflamed the dirty windows like paint on a grey visage. Turkeys, apples, meat-pies swelled the decoration. Prices and meretricious welcomes were iced together on the panes. All of it laughed gutturally.

A mob before the theater, sweating within, frozen without—pushing, cursing, empty. Clouds of boys, dark like flies in the glitter of an arc-lamp before the lurid posters of the “movies.” A cry with a laugh encased. Quincy felt nothing.

Then a dismal stretch of darkness—Broadway below the section of it that is aflame with life. Huge dead buildings here, cars echoing back from the grey walls as lambent metal would fall if thrown against them. Sparse passers-by, hurrying, freezing, absent. The cold air seemed to shiver, to splinter like powdered{363} glass. A derelict, coatless and gloveless, shuffled uptown as an injured moth sways toward a lamp.

And then, beyond, between the gaping walls of the chill orifice, the gleam of fire, the light-limned towers, the flaring incandescence—Broadway that lives.

In the open square was a vast Christmas tree, gawdy and colorless with varicolored electric lamps. Deep about it lay the shadow of humanity. Under its paltry dazzle of illumination that the chill air crushed inward was an open stand. A band spluttered religious music. Upon a wide sheet aloft, the words of an old hymn were lanterned. Beyond, stood a great tower, dim and frigid, topped by a clock and an electric star. The sheltered volunteers cried out the song after the band. Their voices were hard, laggard, frozen also. A stray voice rose in scanty concord from the crowd. But for the most part, the crowd was silent—murmurously, sullenly watchful. A leader exhorted the mass to sing. The arc-lamps crashed against the cold. The police shredded the thick maze of humans into shape. The band blared. Quincy felt nothing.

He stood and watched the heavy silence that sank below the music like a fearful shadow beneath a troubled boat in a deep lake. He watched the dumb buildings and the clamorous lights and the cut of the air and the spiritless, sordid mass—a swarm of insects pressed against a window that shut them out.

The exhorter bullied for voices that did not exist.

Then Quincy heard some one speak beside him:

“For some folk, religion seems to be simply this: put off till tomorrow what you can’t have to-day.”

“I like that!” cried Quincy with spontaneous pleasure. His mood broke in an instant.{364}

“Do you?” asked the woman.

They looked at each other.

She was young and dark, with hot grey eyes.

They turned uptown together. They fell in line with the regimented revelers, whipped into form by the mounted police. Confetti flooded them. Ticklers threatened their eyes. The lurching mob pressed them together. He felt her, hot and lithe beneath her drab, stiff coat. They entered a café. Quincy paid a dollar for a little table tucked away under a stair. Only wine was served that night. And “wine” in America means champagne. They began to drink, and to crumble burning chestnuts on the gleaming, clothless table.

Outside, the crowds seethed, torn with voices, undulant and angular, hot and cold, deliberate and head-long. The stuffy room with its blinking light mellowed with the wine. Women grew loose of arm and breast, slack of mouth, heedless of word. Men grew hard, savage, wet-lipped.

Quincy and she leaned over the table, drinking and looking at each other. For the most part, they were silent. Each of them was still alone. It was easier so. Each of them fended the other from the hectic floods of light and life. Each of them shut the other in.

Quincy melted with the wine. He grew warm. He poured offerings unto this woman, saying no word. He made her an altar, not knowing her name; a goddess, not knowing her will. She was beautiful with the wine fretting her grey cheeks and the fire fanning in her eyes. She said no thing that spoiled his incantation. She, before him at his table, drinking his bought wine, loomed nearer and higher. She was greater than the madness out-of-doors; sharper than{365} the frenzy in the blinking room where they sat. She was greater than his memories.

Soon there were no memories. Then she was greater than everything. She was a mighty ocean wherein to pour the sun and wherein to let dance the winds.

The night wore away. The crimson tide ebbed on the avenue. It grew more savage, more snarling, sharper. Within, the spirits simmered, turned yellow, acid. A woman wished to tear off her waist. Two men fought to stay her. Another woman they carried out. She was asleep. A man stood on a chair and made ribald eloquence. The waiters yawned, knowing there would be no more wine bought—only wine spilt.

Quincy and she began to speak.

He listened with rapt and equal interest to her words and his, quavering between them, over their glasses. They were indifferent words. It mattered little what they meant. These words, also, were part of the great, rhythmic flow wherein the sun could pour and the winds could play.

A bitter lust steeped up through his veins, stiffening his body, tightening the clasp of his fingers about her hand. He leaned over, and she leaned over, and they kissed. He caught no scent of her hair. But the feel of her lips was sharp and clinging. They drew him. They heated the liquor in his veins. They made his veins burst.

“Come!” he said, crushing her hands.

Her arms were stiff.



She wrenched away her hands.{366}

“No,” she said, in a new sharp voice.

Quincy stood up, towering over her.

“Come, I say. Come, I say,” he cried.

“No!” She held her seat.

“Why not?” He swayed in his arrested energy.

“Sit down, boy.” She seemed frightened. “Sit down. Sit down, first.”

He sank stiffly to his seat. She leaned back rigidly in hers. Their eyes met.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t.”

“Why not—” He put his fist out on the table, as if to crush her reason as she gave it.

“Can’t you guess?” she almost pleaded.

He waited until her words came, like a bath of melted ice.

“There’s something wrong, boy,—with me. I don’t want you to—just because we’ve been good pals,—not that!”

A man began to sing “America.” Outside, an ambulance crashed past. A dull tussle in the street lay below a screen of piercing voices.

A pause.

Quincy was sober.

He watched her with a tender interest that was almost whimsical. She glittered in anger and defiance, now she had given away her secret. With that act of humiliation, her pride had risen. She was sober also.

“Do you think,” she spoke piercingly, leaning back still in her chair, “do you think, if it hadn’t been for somethin’ wrong, I’d ’a’ been out to-night, alone?”

He nodded. Over and over again, he nodded. That was his answer to her. His eyes were watching{367} inward a mute, innumerable procession where little huddled things, grey, warped, stunted, slid away.

She spoke again. “Tell me, boy. You’re alone, too, ain’t you. What’s wrong with you?

The last grey thing slid out.

Quincy followed it.

In the street was dawn! Dawn with confetti and mud and ice. The street was yellow and hollow and disillusioned. It was a painted harlot after an orgy—a creature of streaked rouge and clotted sweat and bedraggled hair. Quincy left it behind.


On his desk was the letter of Clarice.

Hope. Love. Life. Which was the most unbearable, the most impossible to face—they or their opposite? Which was wrong—they or their denial? Hope, love, life danced and beckoned. Quincy knew he must escape them. Hope, love, life—these were the nadirs of pain, these were the ecstasies to be annihilated. How?

He was weary. He was weary of all things. Most, he was weary of good things—things one dreams of, things one spins out one’s life in fashioning. And now, with Clarice’s letter in his hand, these things threatened to be born—to be born again? Hope and love and life, they might really be, with him so weary? All of his years had been the travail of their first stirring, of their first impulse for the sun. He must begin afresh? He must mother them again? The answer to that seared his soul. What he must do was to escape—escape the fire and the ineffable anguish of just these things.


His hands were cool as was that he held within them—that which might be the way. He flung his mind beyond the act which stood there ready, beyond the flash and then the passing. His eyes and all the world within them would become as two blank, black spaces. He would be lifted beyond his eyes. But was he sure? Was this the way? Could he know that? How?


A dawn came to Quincy. Was this not another climax, another ecstasy to be shunned? What led him always and again to the steep scaling of some height, to the bitter plunge of some depth? This was not the way. This was merely a last variant of the old painful yearning. The weapon in his hand blandished him also to a pinnacle that was sharp and throbbing, imperious and mighty. How then, if not this way?

Quincy stood in his room and his weighted hand dropped to his side and the pistol within his hand thudded upon the floor.

What a fearful temptation it had been, like all the others, beckoning and dancing. Travail and ecstasy—could he not escape them? And if the letter of Clarice and this—the height and the depth—were one, with a hair holding them apart in chaos, was there no middle space, unmovemented, between?

Quincy’s head dropped a little, and his shoulders fell forward. And a tuft of black hair crowded his eyes that were half closed. So he remained. Did he feel? He tried to feel if he was feeling. Did he live? He tried to feel if he was living. And so standing, the simple way came, like a magic garment, and possessed him.{369}

A tendril of his consciousness, faint yet infinitely fine, went out to the world of people. All of a sudden, he knew that they were dead. He knew that they had long been dead. They ate and laughed and danced—the dead. They builded cities on the murmurous landsides and haunted the free waters of the sea—the dead. They had sonorous names for the rhythm of their rotting—the dead. He—had been alive. He had not been one of them. He had suffered. He had been unwelcome. But now? What was the easeful languor through him? the warmth that swathed him, the fellowship that buoyed him? He no longer suffered. He was one of them. He was dead also! He had found the way!

All that remained to seal his brotherhood was to forget even that he had found it, to forget even that he was dead, to walk the way blankly, blindly. All of his dead life remained for doing that. The battle had been waged!...


It was the New Year—the New Year, and Quincy welcome in it.

The rising sun flamed into his room.

He pulled down the blind, shutting out the sun.

Then he went to bed in the made, swart shadows, and fell asleep.




There was no sequel with Clarice. She had expressed her will and pleasure, concerning him; together with her fears. She had gone out with the old. For Quincy’s senses understood what his relation with her called for; and all of that was abdicated; and that alone was needed. Had he gone to her now, it must have been with knowledge of the dead burden she had no power to bear, and no heart to quicken. To this conclusion, over and again, she had expressed herself. And to this end, Quincy honored her word. For within his state lay the bar to a more active course and to a clearer vision.

They did meet, however.

The adverse currents of a great street—relentless and cold and varicolored—threw them upon each other. The impact stopped them, while the flood went on. And the obtrusive instinct of their first glance lighted in each the farce of their words, the irony even of their stopping. The tearing shuffle of the crowd was the true note. Athwart it, their attempts to reach each other were refracted, shredded, lost. He held her gloved hand a moment, he looked into her eyes; and then he dropped both hold and gaze. It was the final act of letting-go. She joined her current; his swept him on....


The City is a maze of channels. Through them moves everlastingly a turbid Stream. Its weight eats{371} downward; deepens the channels; heightens their walls. And as the City tilts, so runs the Stream.

The history of Quincy is lost in the Stream’s clotted pressure. He is one more molecule, replenishing its substance. Alone in its blind level of mass and flow, of clinging death and leaping restlessness, has he a true reality.

The Stream is a solution of what had been the flaring, eager things of life. The Stream’s source is Quincy. Quincy’s epilogue is the Stream.


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

to tranfigure it=> to transfigure it {pg 71}

the mental outfit=> the mental oufit {pg 80}

Accross the dismal=> Across the dismal {pg 173}

He was unscious=> He was unconscious {pg 262}

felt embarassed=> felt embarrassed {pg 328}

But the frangor=> But the fragor {pg 353}