The Project Gutenberg eBook of Streets of Night, by John Dos Passos
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Title: Streets of Night
Author: John Dos Passos
Release Date: February 23, 2020 [eBook #61395]
[Most recently updated: February 18, 2021]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Laura Natal Rodrigues



John Dos Passos



Et si per talen
Pert tot mi joven,
Pauc mi valdran chan d'auzel.




"But I don't think I want to, Cham."

"Come along, Fanshaw, you've got to."

"But I wouldn't know what to say to them."

"They'll do the talking.... Look, you've got to come, date's all made an' everything."

Cham Mason stood in his drawers in the middle of the floor, eagerly waving a shirt into which he was fitting cuff-links. He was a pudgy-faced boy with pink cheeks and wiry light hair like an Irish terrier's. He leaned forward with pouting lips towards Fanshaw, who sat, tall and skinny, by the window, with one finger scratching his neck under the high stiff collar from which dangled a narrow necktie, blue, the faded color of his eyes.

"But jeeze, man," Cham whined.

"Well, what did you go and make it for?"

"Hell, Fanshaw, I couldn't know that Al Winslow was going to get scarlet fever.... Most fellers 'ld be glad of the chance. It isn't everybody Phoebe Sweeting'll go out with."

"But why don't you go alone?"

"What could I do with two girls in a canoe? And she's got to have her friend along. You don't realize how respectable chorus girls are."

"I never thought they were respectable at all."

"That shows how little you know about it."

Cham put on his shirt with peevish jerks and went into the next room. Fanshaw looked down at Bryce's American Commonwealth that lay spread out on his knees and tried to go on reading: This decision of the Supreme Court, however... But why shouldn't he? Fanshaw stretched himself yawning. The sunlight seeped through the brownish stencilled curtains and laid a heavy warm hand on his left shoulder. This decision of the Supreme ... He looked down into Mount Auburn Street. It was June and dusty. From the room below came the singsong of somebody playing Sweet and Low on the mandolin. And mother needn't know, and I'm in college ... see life. A man with white pants on ran across the street waving a tennis racket. Stoddard, on the Lampoon, knows all the chorines.

Cham, fully dressed in a tweed suit, stood before him with set lips, blinking his eyes to keep from crying.

"Fanshaw, I don't think you're any kind of a..."

"All right, I'll go, Cham, but I won't know what to say to them."

"Gee, that's great." Cham's face became cherubic with smiles. "Just act natural."

"Like when you have your photograph taken," said Fanshaw, laughing shrilly.

"Gee, you're a prince to do it.... I think Phoebe likes me.... It's just that I've never had a chance to get her alone."

Their eyes met suddenly. They both blushed and were silent. Fanshaw got to his feet and walked stiffly to the bookcase to put away his book.

"But Cham." He was hoarse; he cleared his throat. "I don't want to carry on with those girls. I don't ... I don't do that sort of thing."

"Don't worry, they won't eat you. I tell you they are very respectable girls. They don't want to carry on with anybody. They like to have a good time, that's all."

"But all day seems so long."

"We won't start till eleven or so. Phoebe won't be up. Just time to get acquainted."

From far away dustily came the bored strokes of the college bell.

"Ah, there's my three-thirty," said Fanshaw.

It was hot in the room. There was a faint smell of stale sweat from some soiled clothes that made a heap in the center of the floor. The strokes of the bell beat on Fanshaw's ears with a dreary, accustomed weight.

"How about walking into town instead?"

Fanshaw picked up a notebook out of a patch of sun on the desk. The book was warm. The beam of sunlight was full of bright, lazy motes. Fanshaw put the book up to his mouth and yawned. Still yawning, he said:

"Gee, I'd like to but I can't."

"I don't see why you took a course that came at such a damn-fool time."

"Can't argue now," said Fanshaw going out the door and tramping down the scarred wooden stairs.

* * * *

"You ask the clerk to call up and see if they're ready," said Cham. They stood outside the revolving door of the hotel, the way people linger shivering at the edge of a pool before diving in. Cham wore a straw hat and white flannel pants and carried a corded luncheon basket in one hand.

"But Cham, that's your business. You ought to do that." Fanshaw felt a stiff tremor in his voice. His hands were cold.

"Go ahead, Fanshaw, for crissake, we can't wait here all day," Cham whispered hoarsely.

Fanshaw found himself engaged in the revolving door with Cham pushing him from behind. From rocking chairs in the lobby he could see the moonfaces of two drummers, out of which eyes like oysters stared at him. He was blushing; he felt his forehead tingle under his new tweed cap. The clock over the desk said fifteen of eleven. He walked firmly over to the desk and stood leaning over the registry book full of blotted signatures and dates. He cleared his throat. He could feel the eyes of the drummers, of the green bellboy, of people passing along the street boring into his back. At last the clerk came to him, a greyfaced man with a triangular mouth and eyeglasses, and said in a squeaky voice:


"Are Miss ... Is Miss ...? Say, Cham, what are their names, Cham?" Guilty perspiration was trickling on Fanshaw's temples and behind his ears. He felt furiously angry at Cham for having got him into this, at Cham's back and straw hat tipped in the contemplation of the Selkirk Glacier over the fireplace. "Cham!"

"Miss Montmorency and Miss Sweeting," said Cham coolly in a businesslike voice.

The clerk had tipped up one corner of his mouth. Leaving Cham to talk to him, Fanshaw walked over to a rocker by the fireplace and hunched up in it sulkily. With relief he heard the clerk say:

"The young ladies will be down in a few minutes; would you please wait?"

Fanshaw stared straight ahead of him. He'd never speak to Cham again after this. When the bellboy leaned over the desk to say something to the clerk, the eight brass buttons on his coattails flashed in the light. The clerk laughed creakily. Fanshaw clenched his fists. Damn them, what had he let himself be inveigled into this for? He looked at the floor; balanced on the edge of a spittoon a cigar stub still gave off a little wisp of smoke. The temptations of college life; as he sat with his neatly polished oxfords side by side, making the chair rock by a slight movement of the muscles of his thin calves, he thought of the heart-to-heart talk Mr. Crownsterne had given the sixth form this time last year about the temptations of college life. The soapy flow of Mr. Crownsterne's voice booming in his ears: You are now engaged, fellows, in that perilous defile through which all of us have to pass to reach the serene uplands of adult life. You have put behind you the pleasant valleys and problems of boyhood, and before you can assume the duties and responsibilities of men you have to undergo—we all of us have had to undergo—the supreme test. You all know, fellows, the beautiful story of the Holy Grail ... Galahad ... purity and continence ... safest often the best course ... shun not the society of the lovely girls of our own class ... honest and healthy entertainment ... dances and the beautiful flow of freshness and youth ... but remember to beware in whatever circle of life the duties and responsibilities of your careers may call you to move, of those unfortunate women who have rendered themselves unworthy of the society of our mothers and sisters ... of those miserable and disinherited creatures who, although they do not rebuff and disgust us immediately with their loathsomeness as would common prostitutes, yet ... Remember that even Jesus Christ, our Saviour, prayed not to be led into temptation. O, fellows, when you go out from these walls I want you to keep the ideals you have learned and that you have taught by your example as sixth formers ... the spotless armor of Sir Galahad ...

The rocking chair creaked. The clock above the desk had ticked its way to eleven fifteen. Old Crowny's phrases certainly stayed in your mind. Suppose we met mother on the trolley? No, she'd be at church. Nonsense, and these were respectable girls anyway; they wouldn't lead into temptation. A heap lot more respectable than lots of the girls you met at dances. Why don't they come?

"Gee, I bet they weren't up yet," said Cham giggling.

"What, at eleven o'clock?"

"They don't usually get up till one or two."

"I suppose being up so late every night." Fanshaw could not get his voice above a mysterious whisper. He sat in the rocking chair without moving and stared at the clock. Eleven thirty-six. The bellboy stood in front of the desk, his eyes fixed on vacancy. The bellboy grinned and drew a red hand across his slick black hair.

"Did ye think we'd passed out up there?" came a gruff girl's voice behind him, interrupted by a giggle. He smelt perfume. Then he was on his feet, blushing.

They were shaking hands with Cham. One had curly brown hair and a doll's pink organdy dress and showed her teeth, even as the grains on an ear of sweet corn, in a continual smile. The other had a thin face and tow hair and wore the same dress in blue.

"I was coming up to help," shouted Cham.

"Ou, what's that?"

"It's a present." The blue dress hovered over the lunch basket.

"A case of Scotch!" They all shrieked with laughter.

"That's our eats," said Cham solemnly.

"And this is Mr.——?"

"Beg pardon, this is my friend, Mr. Macdougan ... answers to the name of Fanshaw."

Fanshaw shook their hands that they held up very high.

"This is Miss Phoebe Sweeting and this is Miss Elise Montmorency."

"We'll never be able to eat all that," said the blue girl tittering.

"We'll drink some of it," said Cham. "There's some Champagny water."

"My Gawd!"

"You carry it now, Fanshaw," said Cham in a hurried undertone, and pushed the pink girl out in front of him through the revolving door.

Fanshaw picked up the basket. It was heavy and rattled.

"O, I just do love canoeing," said the blue girl as they followed. "Don't you?"

* * * *

They stood on the landing at Norumbega. A man in a seedy red sweater torn at the elbows was bringing a canoe out of the boathouse. A cool weedy smell teasing to the nostrils came up out of the river.

"Ou, isn't it deep?" said Elise, pressing her fluffy dress against Fanshaw's leg.

"Stop it, I tell you ... You'll push me in the water ... Ow!" Cham was brandishing a bullrush at the pink girl, tickling her with it. She was protesting in a gruff baby lisp full of titters. "If you spoil my dress ..."

"I'm sure you paddle beautifully ... D'you mind if I call you Fanshaw ... It's a funny name like a stage name. Look at them!"

Phoebe had snatched the bullrush and was beating Cham over the head. The brown fluff fell about them bright in the streaming sunlight. Fanshaw found himself picking up Cham's straw hat, palping a dent in the rim with his finger. Cham's hair shone yellow; he grabbed the pink girl's hand. The bullrush broke off and the head fell into the river, floated in the middle of brown bright rings.

"Ow, damn it, you hurt," she cried shrilly. "There now, you made me say damn."

"Momma kiss it an' make it well."

Fanshaw found the blue girl's grey glance wriggling into his eyes.

"Silly, ain't they? Kids, are they not?"

The ain't stung in Fanshaw's ears. The girl was common. The thought made him blush.

"Come along, let's get started. Man the boats," cried Cham.

"I'm scared o' canoes. You can paddle all right, can't you, Fanshaw?" The blue girl pressed his hand tight as they stood irresolute a moment looking down into the canoe. The other canoe was off, upstream into the noon dazzle.

"Come along," shouted Cham. The sun flashed on his paddle. He began singing off key:

I know a place where the sun is like gold
And the cherryblooms burst with snow
And down underneath ...

"All right, Missy, step in," said the man in the red sweater who was holding the canoe to the landing with a paddle. "Easy now."

"Let m-m-me get in first," said Fanshaw stuttering a little. "I hope this isn't a tippy one."

"I'll help you in Missy," said the man in the red sweater. Fanshaw, from the stern seat he had plunked down in, saw the man's big red hand, like a bunch of sausages against the blue dress, clasp her arm, press against the slight curve of her breast as he let her down among the cushions. "Thanks," she said, as she tucked her dress in around her legs, giving the man a long look from under the brim of her hat.

"Ou, I'm scared to death, she said, leaning back gingerly. If you tip me over ..."

Fanshaw had pushed the canoe out from the landing. Over his shoulder he caught a glimpse of a grin on the face of the man with the red sweater. He paddled desperately. The other canoe was far ahead, black in the broad shimmering reach of the river. He was sweating. He splashed some water into the canoe.

"Ou you naughty ... Don't. You've gotten me all wet."

"I think I'll take my coat off if you don't mind."

"Don't mind me, go as far as you like," giggled Elise.

Fanshaw took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves. He was trying not to look at the pink legs in stockings of thin black silk with clocks on them that stretched towards him in the canoe, ending in crossed ankles and bronze high heel slippers.

"Warm, isn't it?"

"Hot, I call it. I hope they don't go awfully far. I don't want to get all sunburned ... A boy swiped my parasol." Her grey eyes flashed in his. She was giggling with her lips apart.

"How was that?" How solemn I sound, thought Fanshaw.

"I dunno, one o' them souvenir hunters out at the Roadside Inn." She pulled down her babyish-looking hat that had blue and pink roses on it so that it shaded her eyes.

"Whew, smell that!" she cried.

"Must be a sewer, or marshgas."

"Clothespins! Clothespins!" Elise was holding her nose and wriggling in the bottom of the canoe. Then she burst into giggles again and cried: "Gee, this little girl loves the country, nit!"

"Now it's better, isn't it?"

"I want to eat. Cham's crazy to go so far."

"They've got the picnic basket, so I don't see what we can do but follow."

"Follow on, follow on," sang Elise derisively. Upstream Cham's canoe had drawn up to the bank under a fringe of trees grey in the noon glare. Behind it a figure in white and a figure in pink, close together, were disappearing into the shadow.

"They'll have every single thing eaten up," wailed Elise.

"I'm afraid I'm not a very good paddler," said Fanshaw through clenched teeth.

"There you go again."

"Well, I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."

"You'll have to get me a new dress, that's all."

The canoe ran into the bank with a sliding thump.

Phoebe was looking at them from behind a clump of maples. She cooed at them in her most dollish voice.

"What have you kids been doing all by yourselves out in the river?"

"We saw you, don't you worry dearest," said Elise balancing to step out of the canoe. "O murder, I got my foot in it!"

"Bring the cushions, Fanshaw," shouted Cham, who was kneeling beside the open picnic basket with a bottle in his hand.

Fanshaw's hands were sticky. The warm champagne had made him feel a little sick. He sat with his back against a tree, his knees drawn up to his chin, looking across the gutted lunch basket at Cham and Phoebe, who lay on their backs and shrieked with laughter. Beside him he was conscious of the blue girl sitting stiff on a cushion, bored, afraid of spoiling her dress. Overhead the afternoon sun beat heavily on the broad maple leaves; patches of sunlight littered the ground like bright torn paper. Through the trees came the mud smell and the restless sheen of the river. Fanshaw was trying to think of something to say to the girl beside him; he daren't turn towards her until he had thought of something to say.

"Doggone it I've got an ant down my back," cried Cham, sitting up suddenly, his face pink.

"Momma catch it," spluttered Phoebe in the middle of a gust of laughter.

Cham was scratching himself all over, under his arm, round his neck, making an anxious monkey face till at last he ran his hand down the back of his neck.

"Yea, I got him."

"He's a case, he is," tittered Elise.

Cham was on his hands and knees whispering something in Phoebe's ear, his nose pressed into her frizzy chestnut hair.

"Stop blowin' in my ear," said the pink girl, pushing him away. "Wouldn't that jar you?"

"What we need is juss a lil more champagny water." Cham picked the two bottles out of the basket and tipped them up to the light. "There's juss a lil drop for everybody."

"Not for me ... I think you're trying to get us silly," said the blue girl.

"God did that."

"Well, I never."

"Ou somethin's ticklin' me ... Did you put that ant on me?" The pink girl scrambled to her feet and made for Cham.

"Honest, I didn't ..." cried Cham, jumping out of her way and doubling up with glee: "Honest, I didn't. Cross my heart, hope I may die, I didn't."

"Cham, you're lyin' like a fish. I got an ant down my dress. Ou, it tickles!"

"I'll catch it, Phoebe."

"Boys, don't look now. I'm goin' fishin' ... Ou ... I got him. O it's just a leaf ... O he looked. He's a cool one. I'm goin' to smack your face."

"Catch me first, Phoebe deary," cried Cham, running off up a path. She lit out after him. "Look out for your dress on them bushes," cried Elise.

"I should worry."

Fanshaw watched the pink dress disappear down the path, going bright and dull in the patches of sun and shadow among the maple trees. Their laughing rose to a shriek and stopped suddenly. Fanshaw and Elise looked at each other.

"Children must play," said Fanshaw stiffly.

"What time are we goin' home, d'you know?" said Elise yawning.

"You don't like—er—picnicking."

There was a silence. From down river came the splash of paddles and the sound of a phonograph playing "O Waltz Me Around Again Willie." Fanshaw sat still in the same position with his knees drawn up to his chin, as if paralyzed. With tightening throat he managed to say:

"What can they be doing ... They don't seem to be coming back."

"Ask me something hard," said the blue girl jeeringly.

Fanshaw felt himself blushing. He clasped his hands tighter round his knees. He felt the sweat making little beads on his forehead. Ought he to kiss her? He didn't want to kiss her with her rouged lips and her blonde hair all fuzzy like that, peroxide probably. A fool to come along, anyway. What on earth shall I say to her?

She got to her feet.

"I'm goin' to walk around a bit ... Ou, my foot's gone to sleep."

Fanshaw jumped up as if a spring had been released inside him.

"Which way shall we go?"

"I guess we'd better go the other way," said Elise tittering and smoothing out the back of her fluffy dress.

They walked beside the water; along the path were mashed cracker boxes, orange peel, banana skins. The river was full of canoes now. Above the sound of paddles occasionally splashing and the grinding undertone of phonographs came now and then a giggle or a man's voice shouting. Elise was humming School Days, walking ahead of him with mincing steps. He saw a woodpecker run down the trunk of an oak.

"Look, there's a woodpecker." Elise walked ahead, still humming, now and then taking a little dance step. "It's a red-headed woodpecker." As she still paid no attention, he walked behind her without saying anything, listening to the tapping of the woodpecker in the distance, watching her narrow hips sway under the pleats of her dress as she walked. A rank, heavy smell came from the muddy banks. He looked at his watch. Only four o'clock. She caught sight of the watch and turned round.

"What time is it, please?"

"It's only four o'clock.... We have lots of time yet."

"Don't I realize it? Say, what's the name of this old damn-fool park?"


"It's never again for me," she cried giggling. Then all at once she dropped down on the ground at the foot of a tree and began to sob with her dress all puffed up about her.

"But what's the matter?"

"Nothing ... My God, shut up and go away!" she whined through her sobs.

"All right, I'll go and see nobody swipes the canoe."

Biting his lips, Fanshaw started slowly back along the path.

* * * *

The air of the examination room was heavy and smelt of chalk. Through the open windows from the yard drifted the whir of lawnmowers and the fragrance of cut grass. Fanshaw had just finished three hundred words on The Classical Subject in Racine. He found himself listening to the lawnmowers and breathing in the rifts of warm sweetness that came from the mashed grass. It almost made him cry. The spring of Freshman year, the end of Freshman year. The fragrance of years mown down by the whirring, singsong blades. He stared at the printed paper: Comparative Literature 1. Devote one hour to one of the following subjects.... And the girl in the blue dress had plunked herself down under a tree and cried. What a fool I was to walk away like that. "What's that perfume? Mary Garden," she had said, and her grey glance had wriggled into his eyes and his hands had moved softly across the fluffy dress, feeling the whalebone corsets under the blue fluff. No, that's when I helped her back into the canoe. Elise Montmorency, the girl in the blue dress, had plunked herself down under a tree and cried because he hadn't kissed her. But he had kissed her; he had come back and lain on the grass beside her and kissed her till she wriggled in his arms under the blue fluff and the sunshine had lain a hot tingling coverlet over his back.

He sat stiff in his chair staring in front of him, his hands clasped tight under the desk. All his flesh was hot and tingling. He breathed deep of the smell of cut grass that drifted in through the window, under the smell of mashed grass and cloverblossoms, sweetness, heaviness, Mary Garden perfume. Gee, am I going to faint?

And there on beds of violets blue
And freshblown roses washed in dew,
Filled her with thee a daughter fair
So buxom blithe and debonair.

Fanshaw felt the blood suddenly rush to his face. If the proctor sees me blushing he'll think I've been cribbing. He hung his head over his paper again.

Devote one hour ... She was common and said ain't. That was not the sort of girl. He was glad he hadn't kissed her... The spotless armor of Sir Galahad. Maybe that was temptation. Maybe he'd resisted temptation. And lastly, Mr. Crownsterne's voice was booming in his ears: And lastly, fellows, let me wish each one of you the best and loveliest and most flower-like girl in the world for your wife. A lot old Crowny knew about it. Marriage was for ordinary people, but for him, love, two souls pressed each to each, consumed with a single fire.

Not the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

The moth's kiss, dearest. He was in a boat with red sails, in the stern of a boat with red lateen sails and she was in his arms and her hair was fluffy against his cheek, and the boat leapt on the waves and they were drenched in droning fragrance off the island to windward, wet rose gardens, clover fields, fresh-cut hay, tarry streets, Mary Garden perfume. That perfume was common like saying ain't.

Sudden panic seized him. The clock was at twenty-five past. Gosh, only thirty-five minutes for those two questions! The nib of his fountain pen was dry. He shook a drop out on the floor before he began to write.


"And did I tell you he said you played as if you had a soul?"

They were standing beside the coat-rack. Miss Fitzhugh was doing up her gloves with little jerky movements of a hairpin, talking all the while breathlessly. From the parlor at the end of the narrow green-papered hall came a whiff of tea and the sound of cups clinked against saucers.

"What he said was.... You won't mind if I tell you all, will you dear...? Anyway, I've always admired your way of playing Chabrier. He said your technique was rotten, but that you had a soul. And he turned down Mrs. Glendinning to come here this afternoon, honest he did. Will you turn on the light a sec, my hat's crooked ... There!..."

Miss Fitzhugh put back the hairpin and made a few jabs at the hair under her hat.

"If you want my plain opinion ... O, I do look a sight ... I think you've made a conquest, Nancibel. O, you are a lucky girl! And that Wendell boy's dreadfully good looking.... Well, I must go." Miss Fitzhugh drew the taller girl down on her firm plump bosom and kissed her moistly—"Just think of being loved by Salinski!" She kissed Nancibel on the mouth again and fled with a little giggle out the door.

"Poor fool!" muttered Nancibel. With her lips tightly compressed she walked back towards her guests. While still in the dark of the hall she closed her eyes for a second—O, I hope they go soon. Then with a smile she went back to her place by the teathings.

"Was Fitzie telling you all the Boston Theatre gossip?" asked a little girl with light fuzzy hair and a green dress.

"No, it was only about Mr. Salinski."

"She's jealous because he played here, I bet you."

"She doesn't want him to play with that dreadful ladies' orchestra, does she?" put in a tall girl with large teeth and a picture hat.

"You shouldn't laugh at people's misfortunes, Susan," said the fuzzy-haired girl with a shrill little titter.

"What are Miss Fitzhugh's misfortunes?" asked Fanshaw, who stood tall and blonde in a light grey suit, with his back to the fireplace.

"She's celloist on the famous ladies' orchestra."

"How delicious. The Fadettes!"

"Fitzie's an awful fool, but I like her," said Nancibel gruffly.

"Susan, we must go," said the fuzzy-haired girl.

"Must you, dear?" said Nancibel automatically.

Their dresses swished and kisses were exchanged in the hall beside the coatrack. When the door had closed behind the two women, Nancibel hurried back to the parlor.

"O, what a relief!" she cried, "I was so afraid there would be somebody left I'd overlooked."

"I'm about dead," said Wendell. "Nan, you ought to warn people when you have tea fights and celebrities. I tried to escape once I'd got in, but Fanshaw held on to my coat." He got up from where he had sat crouched in the corner by the window and walked over to the teatable. "Any food left?"

"Here, you poor child," said Nancibel, bouncing a section of sticky chocolate cake on to a plate. "I'll make some fresh tea in a minute. Do you realize that this afternoon is the first triumph in a career of fashionable music? O, it's too silly ..." She burst out laughing, letting herself drop limply into a chair.

"I thought it was going a little far when the stout, red-haired lady sailed in with those two poor little men like a liner being tugged up to the wharf," said Fanshaw, who still stood with his back to the unlit gaslogs.

"That's the famous Mrs. Hammond Tweed, who writes animal stories," burst out Nancibel, carried off on a fresh gust of hysterical laughter. "The way she said Ah when Salinski wriggled out of a cadenza, like people watching sky-rockets."

Nancibel rolled about on her chair. What fun it was to be giggling like this with Wenny and Fanshaw, like children who've done something naughty. Through the tears in her eyes she could see, beyond the big brass-topped teatable stacked with used teacups and crumb-covered plates where here and there a cigarette but blackened with its ash a few drops of tea left in a spoon, Wenny's brown face convulsed with laughter and greediness as he stuffed hunks of chocolate cake into his mouth. And Fitzie thinks I'm angling after old Salinski. The thought came to make her laugh the harder. Her foot knocked against the leg of the teatable and all the cups rattled.

"Look out, Nan, you'll have it over," said Fanshaw.

"Wouldn't care if I did. I'd like to smash something."

"You shan't smash Confucius there, young lady. I'll not let you." Fanshaw put the big blue Chinese teapot in a place of safety on the mantelpiece.

Nan got to her feet and wiped her eyes with her handkerchief.

"O, dear!... But I must give you children some fresh tea to make up for all you've suffered."

She ran out to the kitchenette to put fresh tea in the pot. From there she called: "Wenny, bring the debris, I'll leave it for the maid to clean up." The glasses in a row along a shelf whined with the vibration of her voice. She felt all at once curiously constrained. Absurd. She'd known Wenny when he was in knickerbockers. Why should it embarrass her to be alone with him in the kitchenette? The tea sizzled faintly, and the steam came up scalding in her face as she poured the boiling water into the pot. She did not turn around she was flushing so, when he heard Wenny's step and the rattle of china behind her.

"After the battle mother," sang Wenny as he put the tea things down beside the sink.

"Here, you cut this lemon and bring it in, Wenny, if you don't mind," she said and fled with the pot and a couple of clean cups into the other room. Fanshaw's voice was always so soothing when one was excited.

"There's still a bit of the afterglow," said Fanshaw from near the window. "It's wonderful how long it lingers these fall evenings."

Wenny had come back with the lemon and dropped a piece into each of the three cups. Then he sniffed at his hands.

"That's a splendid lemon. It's wonderful how good it makes your fingers smell."

She watched his lips form the words. Semetic lips, like in the Assyrians in the museum, she thought.

"Gertrude said"; Fanshaw was taking little sips of tea as he spoke, "You'ld be taken up with the spirits."

"Not gin I hope." She tossed her head up suddenly, lips pressed together. Fine gesture that, whispered some mocking demon in her.

Fanshaw smiled indulgently with thin lips.

"No, I mean spooks," he said. "Gertrude said you did extraordinary things with a ouija board. She's very silly, you know."

"Made me out a regular witch of Endor, did she?" Her voice was tense in spite of herself.

"O, I hate the longfaced way people talk about that guff ... as if people dead could be more important than people alive," Wenny blurted out angrily.

Nan found herself looking in his eyes; the black pupils widened as she looked in them. There was a warmth about her body as if his vehemence had communicated itself to her. Then the eyes flashed away.

"What nonsense, Wendell," she said. "Don't be so silly. I just played with a ouija board to see what people would say. We talked to Robinson Crusoe."

Fanshaw waved a long thin hand in the air.

"For Heaven's sake, don't squabble. After all those young women, I feel weak. There must have been a thousand of them ... I say, Nan, did you invite the whole conservatory?"

"No, but as they were all dying to say they'd been in the same room with Salinski, I went the limit."

"You certainly did."

"Gosh! The size of that star," came Wenny's voice from the window. In his black silhouette Nan was imagining the moulding of the muscles of the arms, the hollow between the shoulders, the hard bulge of calves. She got to her feet. The grey jade beads hung down from her neck as she lifted the teatable out of the way. The little demon in her head was hissing Careful Nancibel, careful Nancibel as she walked over to the window. Her arm hanging limply at her side touched his arm; writhing hump-backed flares danced an insane ballet through her body. Down the street a grindorgan was playing The Wearing of the Green. What wonderful lashes he has, she caught herself thinking, so much nicer than mine. Warm shudders came from his cheek to her cheek, from his moving lips.

"It looks as big as a chrysanthemum," he was saying. She had forgotten the star. She saw it then bristling with green horns of light.

Wenny wore a woolly suit that had been wet, as it had been raining; the smell of it mixed with a tang of tobacco filled her nostrils. She was looking at the star that seemed to palpitate with slow sucking rhythm, afloat in the evening like a jellyfish in shallow bay water. For an instant all her life palpitated hideously with the star. She turned. Her lips almost brushed Wenny's cheek.

"L'étoile du berger," said Fanshaw. His voice rasped through Nan's head.

Her hands were icecold. The little demon in her head with a voice like Aunt M's was whispering: You must meet my niece Nancibel Taylor, she's such a clever violinist. She pulled the shade down sharply in Wenny's face.

"You'ld be there all night mooning at that star," she said and tried to laugh.

They sat down in their chairs again.

"Well, Wenny, how have you been wasting your time?" Her voice rang false in her ears.

Wenny's brown eyes looked at her timidly for a moment. He spread his square hands on his knees and glanced down at their large knuckles. In Nan a cold voice exulted: he has the hands of a ditchdigger.

"I wish I knew," he said.

She looked at Fanshaw. His bluish green crepe necktie was the color his eyes were behind the round tortoiseshell spectacles. His arched nose and high forehead were what had made one of the girls say: There's a clever looking man. She was glad he was here. She always felt sane where Fanshaw was.

"Wenny," Fanshaw was saying as he got to to his feet.

"What's the matter?"

"Don't go," said Nan in a sudden panic at the idea of being left alone.

"But, Nan, I promised the Perkinses I'd bring Wenny to dinner and we are late already."

"O hell," muttered Wenny.

"I promised you'ld come, and I'm going to drag you along even if your shirt is dirty."

"It looked clean this morning," said Wenny flushing.

"Well, it's filthy now."

"That seems to me a darn good reason for not going."

The jade beads clinked as she followed them down the hall towards the door. For some reason she held out her hand to them formally. After the limpness of Fanshaw's hand, Wenny's seemed hard and hot. Again the phrase came to her mind: ditchdigger's hands.

"I don't want to go a bit, Nan...."

"Well, good evening," interrupted Fanshaw pushing Wenny towards the door with a gesture of proprietorship. As they turned towards the elevator, her eyes followed the fuzziness of Wenny's hair down the nape of his neck under the soft collar. The collar had a line of grime round it. Dirty little animal, said the voice in her. She closed the door, her nostrils full of the greasy smell of the elevator. The smile went out of her face.

The beads clinked as she walked back to the parlor. What was the matter with her today anyhow?—An old maid that's what you are like Aunt M. Nonsense, I'm too alive for all that rubbish. She stood with compressed lips looking about the room. How beastly small it was. There was a design in reddish orange on the bright blue curtains, that was echoed by the orange shade on the tall lamp that stood on the floor beside the piano. She'd thought herself clever to think up the colorscheme, with the warm buff walls as a background. It seemed hideous to her at that moment, like the decoration of a room in the window of a department store. There were still soiled teacups on the tables and along the mantel, and little plates with bits of sandwich and cake on them. She picked up the fat blue teapot Fanshaw had named Confucius. The smooth bulge of it in her hands was reassuring for a moment. Then solitude poured in upon her again. The Jacobean table with knobby legs opposite the fireplace and the books crammed into the bookcase and the battered Buhl cabinet in the corner all seemed squared and tiptoe with hostility. There was a faint bitter smell of tealeaves and burnt out cigarettebutts about everything.

She put down the teapot and flung herself on the pianostool. She would play madly. She would compose. A momentary thrill of huge chords, rising cadences to carry her with immense wingbeats out of the pit of sick yearning. She struck the keys with all ten fingers. The sound jangled loud through the room. She winced. Idiot, she said aloud, and went to the window. She raised the shade part way and let it fall behind her. The green star trembled in the west just above the dark mass of a building the other side of the Fenway. She watched it breathless while it sank out of sight.

* * * *

Nan climbed painfully out of slumber as one climbs a ladder. Sparrows were twittering outside. Her white bedroom was full of sunlight that poured through the wide window opposite her bed, smouldered hotly on the red and blue of the carpet, glinted on the tall mahogany bedpost and finally struck a warm tingling coverlet over her feet and legs. She snuggled into the bedclothes and lay staring at the ceiling wrapped in a delicious blank haze of sleepiness. A motortruck rasping by outside grated on her drowsy quiet and then rattled off into silence. Through the window she could see a lacework of treetops and the expressionless cubes of the further apartment houses and, beyond, a blue vaguely clouded sky. Two little sparrows, fat, fuzzy, with bright eyes, fluttered down past the window. She closed her eyes. In her ears something formed the words: So wonderfully secure.

She woke with a start from her doze. What was she trying to remember? She was suddenly wide awake, her heart pounding. The warm bulge of his arm against her arm, hard, male, and the bright jelly of his eyes between black lashes, last evening looking at the star. She tried to brush the memory off; it clung about her the way the sticky spiderwebs used to cling to her face and hair walking through the woods last summer. She didn't want to think of Wenny that way, she told herself. It would spoil everything, she must have more self-control. No, no, she said aloud as she put her toes into her slippers. Then she went about her dressing with compressed lips.

She threw herself into a flurry of things to be done. Sunday and late and the maid not coming. There was the percolator to put on, the water to run for her bath, the milk to take in, and the paper, and the caps to take off the milk bottle and the creambottle, and the flame under the percolator mustn't be too high and the bath mustn't be too hot. The familiar morning smells, gasflame, soap, bathwater, coffee-steam, were vaguely distasteful to her this morning, gave her a feeling of days succeeding days and years years, as alike and meaningless as milkbottles. As she was cleaning her teeth she stopped with her mouth full of lather and the tooth brush in her hand. It was two years and eight months she'd been living in this apartment. O something must happen soon. When she had rinsed her mouth she looked at herself a long while in the tilted mirror over the washbasin. On one side the nickel fixture of the shower over the bathtub, on the other a glimpse through the open door into the hall and a patch of blue and green curtain; in the middle her face, chestnut hair caught loosely away from the narrow forehead, straight eyebrows darker than her hair, fine lashes. She stared for a moment intensely in her own grey eyes, then closed them with a shudder. I have the thin New England lips, she said to herself. She pulled the nightgown off impatiently and stood with her hands on her scarcely formed breasts looking down into the pale green of the bathtub. Somewhere at the end of a long corridor of her mind she ran through the dappled shadow of woods, naked, swift, chased by someone brown, flushed, goatfooted. She could feel in her nostrils the roughness of the smell of Wenny's damp homespun suit. Aprèsmidi d'un Faune, the words formed in her mind, Music by Claude Debussy, Choreography by M. Nijinski; the big program in her hands with its smell of glazed printer's ink and the rustling of dresses about her at the Opera. What are you dawdling about? she muttered, and stepped into the water and began briskly soaping the facecloth.

Half an hour later Nancibel Taylor sat at the table beside the window in the livingroom sipping coffee and putting dabs of butter on the broken pieces of a sugared bun left over from tea. The sky had clouded over. Through the black tangle of twigs of the low trees in the Fenway here and there a slaty gleam of water flashed out. From a long way off came the unresonant tolling of a churchbell broken into occasionally by the shrill grind of a street car round a corner. Still chewing the last mouthful Nan picked up the cup and plate, absentmindedly brushing a few crumbs off the blue tablecover with one hand, and carried them into the kitchenette. Putting them in the sink she let the hot water run on them, and with her hand still on the tap, paused to think what she must do next. O, the garbage. She picked up the zinc pail a little gingerly, holding her face away from it, and put it on the dumbwaiter, then pulled on the grimy cord that made the dumbwaiter descend, past the kitchenettes of the apartments below into the lowest region of all where the janitor was and a smell of coalgas from the furnace. After that with a feeling of relief Nan washed her hands and put her hat on in front of the pierglass in her bedroom, a hat of fine black straw without trimming that seemed to her to go very well with her light grey tailored suit. Pulling on her gloves, with a faint glow in her of anticipation of streets and movement and faces, she walked down the stairs.

Outside the air was raw with a faint underlying rottenness of autumn. Nan walked briskly, rejoicing in the tap of her little heels on the even pavement, down a long street of brick apartments that merged into older brownstone houses with dusty steps and several bells beside the front door. The pianos were quieter than usual because it was Sunday, but occasionally the high voice of a girl doing her scales jerked out through a pair of muslin windowcurtains or there came the shriek of a violin being tuned. Down Commonwealth Avenue the elms were losing their leaves. In the windows bloated chrysanthemum flowers stood up stiffly out of jardinieres. In the Public Garden, where there was still a bit of flame in the leaves of the trees, in front of an asthmatic old man sitting on a bench with his chin on a silverhandled cane beside a little old grey woman in a porkpie hat, Nan found herself all of a sudden looking into the eager black eyes of Miss Fitzhugh.

"O, Nan, I'm so glad to see you."

Nan felt her neatly gloved fingers squeezed with sudden violence.

"Why, what's wrong?"

"Just let me tell you.... O, I'm so upset. I haven't been able to practice a minute all day. I haven't been so upset since I broke off my engagement and sent Billy back his ring.... It's about Mabel Worthington."

"But Fitzie, who's Mabel Worthington?"

"I must have told you about her. She was such a lovely girl, one of our second violins.... Nancibel, you never pay any attention when I tell you things; I think it's mean of you.... O, it's too dreadful and I'm just miserable about it.... Look, dear, won't you walk a little up Huntington Avenue? I was just going to get a soda ... so soothing, you know, dear, and I know the nicest candy store just a block up."

As they followed the path towards the Unitarian Church between grass patches dappled with russet of leaves, Nan could feel the eyes of the men on the benches, eyes indolent after a bloating Sunday breakfast, dazzled by following the smudgy sharpscented columns of Sunday newspapers, eyes blurred by Saturday night parties; their glances seemed to weave a warm shameful net to catch her wellpoised ankles and the erect slenderness of her figure in its closely tailored tweed. Fitzie was still talking.

"But, you must have seen her, dear, the last time you went to hear us play.... You did go, didn't you, that time I sent you the ticket? You said you'd been.... She was to the left beside the stage, just beside the first violin, a lovely girl with black curly hair."

At the corner they threaded their way among groups of heavyjowled people coming out of the church, men bristling with decorous stiffness, white points of starched collars, prickly scarfpins in satin of neckties, black curves of hats and gleaming shoetips, women fuzzy with boas and bits of fur and spotted veils.

"I had always thought," went on Fitzie's voice in a whine of dismay, "that she had a great future, and she seemed so much the best educated and ... you know ... most refined person there."

"But, what's happened to her?"

"I must begin at the beginning.... You see, dear, it was this way.... O, this is it. What will you have, dear?"

A smell of sodawater and chocolate and polished nickel encompassed them about. They sat at a little white table on which was a lace doily covered by a round piece of plate glass.

A waitress in black with tight starched bands at the wrists and waist hung over them.

"What are you having, dear?" said Fitzie again. "I'm goin' to have a banana split. I just love banana splits. Isn't it greedy of me? And before lunch, too."

"D'you know if you don't mind, Fitzie, I won't take anything. I'm going to dine with Aunt M. and she always feeds one a dreadful lot of stuffing on Sundays. She has such old-fashioned ideas about food."

"Well, as I was telling you, Nancibel, the first time I guessed anything was wrong was about a month ago, when I noticed a young Italian waiting outside the stage door. I was in a hurry and didn't notice him until I'd brushed against him. He was very poorly dressed and smelt dreadfully of garlic but I had to admit to myself that he was goodlooking, like a young Greek god!"

"Young Greek gods probably smelt of garlic too," said Nan laughing.

The banana split had arrived in a boatshaped plate. Miss Fitzhugh took up a dab of whipped cream on her spoon.

"Won't you have just a taste, Nancibel?... No? O, you are a Puritan, dear.... Well, to make a long story short, one day last week I met them on Washington Street, Mabel Worthington and that dreadful Italian. I was brushing by pretending not to see them.... I thought it would be less embarrassing for them, you understand, dear.... But not a bit of it, she stopped me and chatted for a minute, calm as a cucumber, and then she introduced me to him.... This is Giovanni, she said, and that's all she said, though they both flushed crimson. He bobbed his head awkwardly at me and smiled showing the most beautiful teeth. And that was all."

Fitzie was quiet for a minute and took three or four spoonfulls of yellow icecream in succession. She was talking in a rapid whisper, leaning far over the table towards Nan's unsmiling face.

"And yesterday morning she didn't turn up at rehearsal. And now it appears that she has gone off with him. Isn't it frightful. Because she was a lovely girl, really, a lovely girl. She reminded me of you."

"Well," said Nan, "she was probably in love with him."

"But I'm coming to the most dreadful part.... The wretched man had a wife and two squalling filthy little babies. They came round to the theatre and made a dreadful scene, a horrid coarse woman just like an immigrant.... And he is nothing but a common laborer, just think of it. O, how can people do such things? It just makes me sick to think of that lovely girl in the power of that horrible garlic-smelling ruffian.... It just makes me sick to think of it."

Miss Fitzhugh caught up the last yellow liquid on her plate with several swift scraping little strokes of her spoon. She started delving with two fingers in the back compartment of her alligatorskin purse.

"Just think of it, Nancibel, a common laborer. If he'd been a musician or a composer or something it would have been different even if he was an Italian, but ... O, Nancibel, won't you please let me have your hanky a sec I declare I've lost mine."

Nan handed over her handkerchief.

"I suppose she's in love with him," she said. "It's a good thing she makes her own living."

"But, don't you think it's dreadful?"

"How can we tell? But, anyway, I must run along. Aunt M. always expects me at twelve every Sunday and she thinks I have come to some dreadful end if I don't get there on the dot."

Nan was out in the street again. A dusty wind had come up and was making dead leaves and scraps of newspapers dance in the gutters, and tearing ragged holes in the clouds. O how poor Fitzie gets on my nerves, Nan was saying to herself, and a picture flashed through her mind of Fitzie opening her eyes wide, rapt, and saying, pausing with her mouth open a little between the words—Like a young Greek god.

She walked over to Beacon Street and down the row of houses that faces the Public Garden, looking now and then into front windows massed with ferns and autumn flowers. On small wellcleaned windowpanes a reflection of sky and clouds, shadows of sombredressed people passing, fleeting glint of limousines, then, beside a bunch of yellow curlypetalled chrysanthemums the face of Aunt M. Nan thought how ashy and wrinkled it looked beside the yellow flowers. The face smiled and bobbed showing a straight part and hair steelgrey slicked against the head on either side. Nan pulled at the shining brass knob of the bell. Immediately the door opened.

"Yer late, Miss Nancibel; the missus was agettin' anxious an' alookin' outa the winder," said the old woman in flounced cap and apron metallic with starch who let her in.

"I'm not so awfully late, am I, Mary Ann?"

Pulling off her gloves, Nan brushed through portieres of salmoncolored brocade into the parlor.

"O, my dear Nancibel, how glad I am to see you," said Aunt M. throwing stubby arms round her niece's neck. Nan's lips touched the wrinkled lifeless skin.

"I'm sorry to be late, Auntie."

"Well, one can't expect a budding virtuoso.... I suppose one should say virtuosa ... to be very punctual. And punctuality is fallen into disrepute among young people nowadays.... Now run up and take your things off like a good girl and come back quickly and talk to me so that we can have a good chat before the Turnstables come."

"Are they coming Auntie?"

"Yes, Cousin Jane Turnstable and her boy and girl are coming to dinner at half after one. It's quite thrilling to have so many young people in the house."

Running up the thickcarpeted stairs, Nan caught herself remembering running up those same stairs when she was still in short skirts, a Scotch plaid it was, accordionpleated, that day, and Mary Ann was polishing the brass rails that kept the carpet down, and her Aunt M., a tall omnipotent person then, had told her not to sing, O my darling Clementine, because it was a low vulgar song and somehow she hadn't been able to keep it in and had shouted out without meaning to:

Herring boxes without topses,
Sandals were for Clementine.

And Aunt M. had come out on the landing suddenly very cold and sharptoned and had made her stay in her room all afternoon and learn The Slave's Dream. As Nan went into the little room with Dutch blue wallpaper, which Aunt M. always called Nancibel's room, to throw her hat on the bed and give a hasty pat to her hair in front of the mirror,

Beside the ungathered rice he lay
His sickle in his hand,

bubbled up from somewhere deep in her mind. She smiled thinking how as the years had passed her relation to Aunt M. had changed, until now it was she who seemed the tall omnipotent person, skilled in all the world outside the house, and her aunt the timid one the housewalls protected from the shaggy world.

"Well, dear, what have you been up to all the week?" said Aunt M. when Nan had run down the stairs and back into the parlor. "I hope you haven't been gadding about a lot, like last week."

"Not a gad," said Nan laughing. They sat side by side on the curvebacked sofa in front of the window. Nan was looking down at Aunt M.'s old hands swollen at the knuckles that lay halfclenched on the full mauve satin of her dress. In her nostrils was a tang from the chrysanthemums.

"And how's your practicing?"

"Pretty good this week."

"You know how I feel about your music, Nancibel." There was a flame of blue in Aunt M.'s hazel eyes.

"You mustn't put too much faith in it," said Nan roughly. She went on hastily in a high nervous voice like her voice when she had people to tea: "Practiced every day but Thursday. Worked to a frazzle, really. How the neighbors must hate me. And there's somebody two floors down who plays the cornet all the morning, so we do a sort of distant duet with the effect quite ... modern."

"Why didn't you practice Thursday deary?"

"I went out to Nahant with Fanshaw and Wendell to see the surf. There was a wonderful noreaster blowing."

"You see a lot of those two young men."

"Of course I do.... But, Auntie, what have you been doing? When did you get the chrysanthemums? they're lovely."

"You can't get me off the track that way," said Aunt M. with a sly smile. "Which of them is it, Nancibel?"

"No, it's different from that.... O, I can't explain it." Nan saw herself and Wenny and Fanshaw running arm in arm on the turf at the cliffedge, leaning against the wind, the taste of spray on their lips. "It's so difficult to classify feelings. That's what Wenny says.... O, you wouldn't understand Auntie."

Nan felt the old woman beside her wince.

"O, I didn't mean that, Aunt M. Why am I so dreadfully inconsiderate?"

"I wonder why Cousin Jane Turnstable doesn't come. I hope they won't be late. It upsets poor Judkins so to have to keep dinner hot."

They were silent. O, I must think of something to talk about, Nan was saying over and over again in her mind. She was staring at the little Corot that hung beside the mantel. A poplar overhanging water greywhite like milkweed silk.

"Do you remember Auntie when I was a little girl what ecstasies I used to go into over that little picture? When you used to tell me about abroad I used to think of everything as pale green and silver grey, like that picture."

"A funny impatient little girl you were," said Aunt M. softly. "Poor Elizabeth used to worry so about your tantrums, but I used to reassure her by saying it was merely temperament and that you'd be a great artist some day.... If she had only been spared to us to hear you play...."

The door bell rang.

"There they are," said Nan with relief.

"And they are not late after all. Punctual to the minute.... O, my dear Cousin Jane, how glad I am to see you. And James you've grown I declare.... Helen, you'll kiss your old cousin, won't you, dear?"

Cousin Jane Turnstable was a tall woman with silvery hair caught up smoothly under a broad hat. Her eyebrows were black and her face had all over the same unwrinkled milky texture as her cheeks. The boy and girl were both blonde and very thin. They all stood in a group in the center of the buff and blue carpet of the parlor, and the voices of the Turnstables chimed softly together like well attuned bells against Nan's deep voice and the quavering voice of her aunt.

"Nancibel, you won't mind showing Cousin Jane and Cousin Helen where they can take their things off, will you dear?" said Aunt M. At the same moment Mary Ann came through the sliding doors that led to the dining room and announced solemnly: "Dinner's on the table, mum."

"This is nice," said Aunt M. when they were all seated round the table where amid a glitter of silverware the creases stood up stiffly in the heavily starched linen cloth: "Quite like old times." And as Nan let the brown croutons slide off the spoon into the tomato bisque a heartbreaking lassitude came over her—I'm twentyeight and every seventh day of my life I must have done this. Twentyeight by fiftytwo, what does that make? But some one was speaking to her. "And how did you enjoy September at Squirrel Island?" Cousin Jane Turnstable was asking in her musical voice.

After dinner with the thickness of overrich icecream still in their mouths they went into the parlor for coffee.

"I suppose I shall never go abroad again," Aunt M. was saying. "My travelling days are over. But if I did it would be to take for one last time that drive from Sorrento to Amalfi when the lemontrees are in bloom.... I'm afraid it is a little blasphemous to say it, but I can't imagine Heaven more beautiful. You surely have taken that drive, Nancibel."

"I've never been south of Florence, Auntie." With bitter poignance she sat remembering the smell of lemontrees. She was moving the spoon round her small cup of coffee with a slow movement of long fingers. She thought of Fitzie eating banana split and telling about the girl who'd run off with an Italian smelling of garlic like a young Greek god. Poor Fitzie who had none of that in her life, always making up romances for other people.

"I seem to remember," Aunt M. went on, "having heard Philips Brooks say that no one could really feel the beauty of such sights and remain an unbeliever."

"Ah, yes, so true," said Cousin Jane Turnstable.

"O dear," said James, his voice breaking.

Nan looked up at him suddenly. His face was crimson. He had spilt half a cup of coffee over his neatlypressed grey trousers. Nan took the cup out of his hand and set it on the mantel while he sheepishly fumbled for the spoon on the floor.

"No harm done," she said. "Come upstairs; it'll wash right out. I'll give you a cloth to rub it with."

"I'm afraid you think I'm dreadfully dumb, Cousin Nancibel. That was the dumbest thing to do," he said in tearful voice going up the stairs.

"Nonsense. I might have done it myself," she answered laughing. "Anything to break up the monotony of Sunday afternoon!... Right in here, James. You sit on the bathtub and hold it tight. I'll rub it with a little soap, Here's a cloth."

The boy did as he was told.

"Why, that'll come right out. You'll never notice it," said Nan briskly rubbing the cloth held against his thin thigh.

"You don't like Sunday either." His eyes looked up into hers with a sudden flash.

She wrinkled up her nose and he laughed.

From the wet woolly cloth came up a rough little smell like from Wenny's homespun. She felt herself flushing hotly. The boy looked up at her fixedly for a second and then the flush suffused his fair skin until it reddened his ears and the roots of his flaxen hair.

"That'll do," said Nan gruffly. "No one will notice it now." She walked hurriedly to the stairs and down.

"You'll play for us a bit, won't you, Nancibel?" said her Aunt when she was back in the parlor.

"All right. You'll accompany won't you?"

She brushed past James without looking at him as she went into the hall to fetch her violin. She was furious at herself for having blushed. As she leaned over to unstrap the violin case, the blood pounded in her temples and filled her eyes so that she could scarcely see. The blood in her ears was the sound of the grindorgan playing The Wearing of the Green after tea yesterday, when Wenny's cheek had been beside her cheek and they had looked at the throbbing star in the west. She tossed her head back and stood for a moment, her teeth firm together, the violin in one hand and bow in the other. And the girl who played the violin in the Fadettes had run off with an Italian who smelt of garlic like a young Greek god. O Fitzie's a romantic fool.

"How well you are looking today," said Aunt M. from the pianostool. "Shall it be Bach, Nancibel?"

* * * *

A yellow mist had come in off the harbor during the evening so that walking home after the concert the streets were dim and unfamiliar and each arclight had a ruddy halo. Nan walked beside Fanshaw whose greenish raincoat made him look taller and thinner even than usual. Ahead of them they could hear Wenny and Betty Thomas laughing together.

"What do you think of Betty?" Nan was saying in a low voice.

"She's your latest discovery isn't she?... A trifle ... er ... unconscious I should say. No harm in her.... I wish she hadn't such a burr in her voice."

"O you are chilly."

"I didn't mean to be so pompous. She seems to like music. So rare in a musician."

Nan laughed.

"You seem to be feeling very superior this evening, Fanshaw. What have you done to be so cocky?"

"Little enough, God knows.... Nan, I wish we could get Wenny settled somehow. I'm worried about him. He ought to get to work at something definite."

"But he's so enormously alive, Fanshaw. How can one worry about him. O, if I had half his vitality, sensitiveness...."

"So much of that is sheer nerves ... in a man. In you it's different. There's something rock bottom about women that men haven't at all. We are lichen. If we are too alive we burn up and shrivel.... I wonder if he isn't a little too alive."


"Do you know you do us a lot of good, Nan?"

"If you think, young man, that I'm going to be anybody's rock of ages, you are mistaken, I can tell you that."

The others were waiting for them at a corner where a drugstore sent planes of white and greenish light slanting to the gleaming mud-filmed pavement.

"This is my street, people," said Betty Thomas.

"But we'll take you to your door. Remember the holdups," said Wenny.

"It'ld be so dreadfully exciting to be held up."

"It's on my way home anyway, Betty." Nan took the girl's arm and pulled her with her across the street.

The two men followed them up a street of apartment houses where patches of lighted windows made a yellow blur in the fog above their heads. Before the word Swarthcote on a glass door they stopped.

"Good night all," said Betty Thomas. "Thank you, deary, for the lovely supper and everything."

The door closed behind her. With Nan in the middle the three of them walked on.

"How cosy it is this way in the fog?" she said.

"It makes me feel wonderfully sentimental," Wenny said slowly. "Wagner makes me feel sentimental anyway, but Wagner plus fog ... like sitting on the curbstone and letting great warm tears flow down my cheeks till the gutter simply gurgled with them."

"I say," said Fanshaw.

"Not a bit of it," broke in Nan. "I feel jolly, like roasting apples in front of an open fire. We're so secure all three of us together this way and the world drifting by, dinner at Aunt M.'s and tomato bisque and croutons and love and hate and all that outside drifting by like fog."

"Harmless you mean, Nan. I shouldn't say so.... Do you think its harmless, Wenny?"

"May be for some people, Fanshaw."

"No, I don't mean that. O, you are so lackadaisical, Fanshaw," Nan said bitterly. "I mean something more active.... The three of us conquering, shutting the fog and the misery out, all that helpless against us. But I'm talking like a book."

"You are a little, Nan," said Wenny laughing.

Nan felt what she wanted to say slipping out of her mind, ungraspable. The three of them walked on in silence, arm in arm, with Nan in the middle. Beginnings of sentences flared and sputtered out in her mind like damp fireworks. Slowly the yellow fog, the cold enormous fog that had somehow a rhythm of slow vague swells out at sea sifted in upon her, blurred the focus of herself that had been for a moment intensely sharp. She so wanted to say something that would make that moment permanent, that would pin down forever the sudden harmony of the three of them so that she could always possess it, no matter what happened after. Epigram, that was the word. There had been Greeks who had cut the flame of an instant deep on stone in broad letters for centuries to read.

"I wish we could walk like this always."

Her throat was dry. At the sound of her thin voice, all her thoughts scuttled into the dark like cockroaches in a kitchen cupboard. Her mind smoothed to vacancy.

"How do you mean?" asked Wenny.

"Well, here we are," said Fanshaw in a singsong tone.

The Swansea, in gold gothic letters shaded with black, stared at her from a wide glass door. Beyond white steps another glass door, unmarked. Nan remembered how she used to feel when she was a child and people were getting ready to go into dinner and bedtime came. She turned her back on the sourly familiar letters. Opposite a few twigs of trees leaned into the warm tent of light from a streetlamp out of dark immensity of fog. The light slanting out through the glass door gave a gleam on Fanshaw's glasses that hid his eyes. She pressed ever so slightly his long limp hand and Wenny's hard hand. Wenny's face was flushed from the rawness of the fog and there was a glint in his eyes that made her catch her breath joyously. She wanted to say something. They turned away, raised their hands vaguely and walked off. Fanshaw had leaned over and said something to Wenny that had made him laugh. The door closed behind her. She had a glimpse of the letters The Swansea inside out. She took her key out of her purse and unlocked the inner door. She hated Fanshaw, his glasses that hid his eyes, his long limp hands. They had gone off carelessly laughing. And Wenny too, with the grime round his collar and his shambling walk like an Italian laborer's. She pushed open the sliding door of the elevator that had a familiar everyday smell of dust and machine oil. The door slid to behind her. She put her finger on the button marked 4. It was the girl in the Fadettes who had gone off with a brown man, garlicky, with bright teeth like the Greeks' were who made epigrams. Nan closed her eyes as the elevator started to rise. She was very tired.


Fanshaw Macdougan's left shoe pinched the upper part of his foot and a damp chill from the fog-moistened pavement seeped through the thin soles as he walked with long strides beside Wenny. These things gave a vaguely peevish whine to the flow of thoughts through his head. If only I had the money, he was thinking, I would have ten pairs of shoes and a valet to wear them until they were comfortable. The form of an advertisement in a paper started into his head: Wanted a valet, must wear No. 9 shoes, best references required; and himself in a dressing gown of pale colored silk looking over the applicants from a great tapestried easychair. O, how one could live if one had the money, and the people who had it never seemed to know how to use it except Mrs. Jack Gardiner in her Italian palace.

"I was thinking what I'd do if I had a million dollars, Wenny."

Wenny turned, his eyes snapping, and laughed. The glimpse of his face laughing turned up into the full white glare of an arclight lingered in Fanshaw's eyes and faded, the way a stranger's face out of a crowd would sometimes linger and fade. Nan's face too, the profile as she turned to put her key in the lock of the glass door was still sharp in his mind, behind it a memory of the smell extraordinarily warm honied artificial of the flowers among the pictures in Mrs. Gardiner's gallery. Strange that Nan should have worn a hat like that this evening. Unbecoming, made her look like a schoolteacher. The New England in her coming out. Such a wonderful person had no right to look that way. That night at the fancy dress dance at the Logans she had looked her best, her face oval, Sienese, and the hair tight back from her forehead under a jewelled net like a girl by a Lombard painter. There had been such distinction in the modelling of her forehead and cheekbones and her slender neck among all those panting pigeonbreasted women. How rarely people were themselves. Out of the corner of an eye he glanced at Wenny walking beside him with short steps, doggedly, his face towards the ground. A trio we are, Nan and Wenny and I, a few friends my only comfort in this great snarling waste of a country. We don't fit here. We are like people floating down a stream in a barge out of a Canaletto carnival, gilt and dull vermilion, beautiful lean-faced people of the Renaissance lost in a marsh, in a stagnant canal overhung by black walls and towering steel girders. One could make a poem or an essay out of that idea, some people could; Wenny, if he weren't such a lazy little brute. Why couldn't I?

"Didn't you think Nan looked tired tonight?" asked Wenny suddenly.

Fanshaw was loath to break into the rhythm of his thoughts.

"I did," said Wenny again.

"Why should she be tired? She hasn't worked very hard this week."

Wenny said nothing. The street was muffled by the fog all about them. In Fanshaw's mind were phrases from Lamb, vague thought of fogs over London. They came out on the springy boards of the bridge that seemed to sway ever so little under their feet. The fog above the river was denser and colder. Their steps were loud on the slats of the sidewalk. Half way over they passed a man and a girl, bodies cleaving together so that they made a single silhouette. Fanshaw caught Wenny's backward glance after them. Rather unhealthy, the interest in those things, he thought. Further along they heard a regular heavy tread coming towards them, a policeman.

"He'll break their clinch," said Wenny giggling. Fanshaw was annoyed,—vulgar, he thought, why notice such things? Other ages perhaps had put beauty, romance in them; Paolo and Francesca floating cloudy through limbo.

"These last few days I have been often thinking of that passage, Pico della Mirandola riding into Florence in the time of lilies. Then it would have been less futile to be alive."

"How do you know Fanshaw?"

"You have no nostalgia of the past, have you, Wenny? It's that things were so much cleaner, fresher. Everything was not so muddled and sordid then."

"Can't things always have been muddled and sordid? I think they were."

"Those people on the bridge and you giggling at them. I can't understand it, it's so low."

"Then, by God, you can't understand anything." Wenny's voice broke; he was angry and walked faster. Fanshaw thought of a phrase out of The Book of Tea; a man without tea was a man without poise, refinement. Wenny had no tea. How amusing his rages were. They went along without speaking. In the bright circle of each arclight he glanced at Wenny's sullen face, the prominent lips, the strangely soft-textured cheeks, the slightness of the waist under the shirt that bagged at the belt revealed by the flapping unbuttoned coat, the clenched swinging hands. There were puddles in the road. It was dark between arclights, a few glows from windows loomed distant among weighty shadows. Shadows seemed to move slouchingly just out of sight. Fanshaw felt he was walking unawares through all manner of lives, complications of events. Thought of holdups brought a vague fear into his mind. There ought to be more lights. If it weren't for these wretched Irish politicians who ran things.... When they crossed the railway tracks there were little red and green lights in the fog, the wail of an engine far away. A bell began to ring and the old man dozing in a little shack with a red and a green flag propped against his knees—like Rembrandt the shadows thought Fanshaw—jumped up. The bar came down behind them. Lights flashed down the track and they could hear down towards Cambridgeport the chug of a locomotive and the slow bumping of the wheels of freightcars over a crossing.

"Let's stop and watch it go past," said Wenny.

"No, my feet are wet. I'm afraid of catching cold."

They walked on.

"I think I'll try an' get a job on a section gang on the railway this summer, Fanshaw."

"A fine Italian laborer you'd make, Wenny; why you would never get up early enough, and think of the food and the bunkhouses, fearful!"

"I think I'd like it for a while."

Through chinks in the great bulk of the Armory light and a racket of voices trickled out into the fog like sand out of a cart.

"I guess it's a dance," said Wenny.

The day that Ficino finished his great work—Plato was it?—Pico della Mirandola rode into Florence and the lilies were in bloom, Fanshaw was thinking, and wondering whether he would have enough money to go abroad comfortably next summer. If I could only leave Mother.

"For crissake lemme walk between yez a sec," came a breathless voice from behind them.

Fanshaw hastened his stride. His muscles were tense. A holdup.

"Walk slow like. Lemme walk between yez for crissake."

Fanshaw looked desperately up the long straight street towards the glare of Central Square. Not a policeman of course. The man walked panting between them with red sweating face stuck forward. Fanshaw dropped back a step and came up on the outside of Wenny.

"What's the trouble?" Wenny was saying.

"Hell to pay.... Fight in the Armory, see? I doan know what it was about.... I was lookin' at two fellows fightin' an' a guy, a big tall guy, comes up to me, an' says, Well, what about it? Then he called me a sonofabitch.... I guess he was a Catholic, one of them South Boston guys. I hit 'im in the jaw, see? An' then I saw the bulls comin' an' I beat it. You don't care if I walk between yez, just to the corner?"

"Of course not," said Wenny.

At the first corner the man left them.

"I'll run along to home and mother now," he said.

"Wasn't that rich," cried Wenny laughing. "Say suppose we go back to see what's happening."

"The policemen would probably arrest us as accessories. You don't believe that man's story, do you? Probably a burglar making off."

"You are an old sourbelly this evening. What's the matter?" Wenny hopped and skipped along beside him roaring with laughter.

"I am rather depressed. Music depresses me."

They had reached the long brightly lighted oblong of Central Square where the fog was thinned by the shine of the plateglass windows of cheap furniture stores and the twisted glint of tinware in the window of Woolworth's. Young men loafed on the edge of the sidewalk and stumpy girls chattered in the doorways of candy shops.

"Where were you born, Fanshaw? I can't seem to remember?"


"I was thinking up where people I knew were born. Nan was born in Boston, Beacon Hill.... Central Square would be a comical place to be born."

"You knew perfectly well I was born in Omaha. You just want the satisfaction of hearing me say it."

Scraps of talk kept impinging upon them as they threaded through the groups on the sidewalk.

"I only lived there until I was twelve," Fanshaw was saying. In his ears rang the phrase: An' I gave her one swell time. "Then my father died and Mother moved East. She'd always wanted to live in Boston. The day we were settled in our little house in Brookline she brought me in on the car to see the Abbey paintings. She was bound I'd take to the arts."

"By the way, how is your mother now?"

"About the same, Wenny. Poor lamb, I'm afraid she never will get much better. She's so patient about it."

They were out of the square walking past dwelling houses set back from the road. A smell of leaves and autumnal earth came to them. In Fanshaw's mind was the picture of a grey head against a pillow, heavy despairing wrinkles from the nose to the ends of the mouth where was a wry peevish twitch of pain; his mother shapeless in a lilac dressing gown propped up in the easy chair in the library amid a faint stale smell of cologne and medicines.

"I wonder if it will always be like this, this meaningless round of things. It would have been if I hadn't met you, Wenny."

"D'you mean I'm a horrible example to keep you on the straight paths of virtue?" said Wenny harshly. He shook off Fanshaw's hand that was on his arm and thrust his hands deep into his pockets.

"When I'm with you I feel as if there were something I could do about life. Remember the passage about 'to burn with a hard gemlike flame'?"

Wenny grunted.

"We must get something graceful and intense into it if we die in the attempt. I haven't the energy.... I'm going to talk about myself, you can't stop me, Wenny.... Mother has a curio cabinet. You know it, in the corner of the drawing room with a shepherd à la Watteau painted on the panel. Out in Nebraska when I was little I used to spend hours looking at the things: a filigree gondola from Venice, the Sistine Madonna in mosaic, carved wooden goats from Switzerland, the Nuremberg goose boy ... you know all those desperate little Mid-Victorian knick-knacks put in the cabinet so that they won't have to be dusted. I think my mind is like that. It opens. You can put things in and they stay there, but nothing moves. That's why I am so appropriate to the groves of Academe.... You're dynamic."

"A damn bundle of frustrations, that's all I am Fanshaw if you only knew. Funny how we each think the other has the inside dope on things.... My father had it about God or thought he did. He was sure of himself anyway."

"But you are sure of yourself."

"The hell I am.... Let's have a drink. I am fearfully thirsty."

"What you wanting a soda?"

Wenny laughed. They went into the candy store that was thick with the smell of fresh cooked chocolate. A boy with tow hair and a pimply face was washing glasses. Fanshaw found himself staring with a faint internal shudder at the red knuckles as his fingers moved round swiftly in glass under glass under the faucet. They drank glasses of orangeade in silence, Wenny paid the girl behind the cash-register who showed two gold teeth in a smile as they went out. Fanshaw was already thinking with eager anticipation of his room with its orange shaded lamp; the cosy bookish smell of it, the backs of his books in their case of well dusted mahogany and the discreet sheen of the gold letters of their titles in the lamplight, the sepia of the Primavera over the mantel, the neatness of his bedroom, the linen sheets on his bed, the clean aloofness of fresh pyjamas.

"I often wonder why I go out in the evenings at all."

"Why not?"

"Things seem to me so ugly now, all this rasping and grinding. It used not to be so when I was in college but now it makes me feel so unpleasantly futile. When I'm in my room with everything about me as I have grouped it I feel futile too, but pleasantly futile, artistically futile."

"Fanshaw, that's all utter rot."

"That's no argument, Wenny, to call a thing rot."

"But it's rot just the same."

They walked along silent again. How hopeless to make oneself understood. Through the sting of bitterness Fanshaw remembered the first time he had seen Wenny. He had sat beside him in a classroom in front of the yellow varnished desk of the instructor. There was the dry smell of chalk and outside lilacs swayed against a blue sky full of little rosy clouds; the hideous lassitude of words in an even voice that smelt of chalk and blackboards, and besides him a thin brownfaced boy with moist brown eyes intent on everything, the chalky words of the instructor, the lilacs outside, the swallows that flashed against the sky. And now they walked back side by side towards Cambridge as they had walked hundreds of other nights at about this hour, and his arm touched Wenny's arm occasionally as it swung. Was it four years, five years, they had known each other? Hopeless all these futile walks, this constant juggling of words. Wenny's stride was even with his stride now, occasionally the backs of their hands touched as they swung. For all they could tell each other they might be on different continents. Fanshaw felt frozen and rigid in ferocious loneliness. And now there was Nan. The thought that he might love her, that he might be losing himself to her disturbed him so that he tried to brush it aside.

"Strange how we are all settling down," he said. All the while he was thinking of love, his boyish idea of love elegant over teacups, suppertables on terraces at Capri, a handing of old fashioned bouquets with a rose in the center, red rose of passion, romaunt of the rose.

"I haven't settled down," said Wenny, savagely. "I wish I had."

In a smoker once Fanshaw had overheard a story about a rose. The recollection brought a curious little feeling of sickness, stale cigar smoke and smutty eyes in a leer, flabby jowls laughing.

"I mean all our group at college," he heard himself saying.

"What else can they do, they've none of them the guts to do anything or be anything.... Nan hasn't settled down."

"I was going to say. She has just started on the rampage."

"That's because she is a woman. They go on developing. Men don't."

They were walking up Mt. Auburn Street. A group of boys passed them, striding jauntily, chattering in high voices. Fanshaw caught the eager tilt of heads, the smoothness of the contours of faces in the greenish lamplight. There was a catch in his voice.

"How like a ghost it makes you feel," he said.

"Do you mean you wish you were back there again."

"After all youth is the only thing."

"If there is anything in my life I bitterly resent it is that. The time I wasted in college.... Sentimentality about youth is the cheapest of all sentimentalities."

"Won't you come in a minute, here we are."

Wenny shook his head.

They stood irresolute a moment on the doorstep.

"Do come up and tell me what you mean by your hatred of youth. You so rarely commit yourself to an arguable statement like that.... I'm open to conviction of almost anything."

"I must go along home," said Wenny. He turned, raising an arm, and walked fast down the street.

The stairs creaked under the carpet as Fanshaw climbed slowly, two steps at a time, to his room. He turned the key and went in. Objects were illuminated by a greenwhite swath of light from the arclight at the corner that cut through the curtains and made a bright oblong on the ceiling. On the broad desk beside the window papers gleamed white and an inkbottle gave a glint of jet. Fanshaw pulled down the shades of the two windows and clicked on the reading lamp on the desk. Examination books in blue covers made a neat pile on one corner. On another were bundles of folded papers held tight by elastics. In the center were many pencils and pens of different colors in a shallow copper tray. Fanshaw felt the peevish despair slipping off him. He went into the alcove where the bed was, took off his shoes and coat slowly thinking of nothing, his eyes following the twisting figures on the chintz window curtains. Then he walked across the floor to the bookcase, his feet at ease in slippers, and pulled aside the blue silk curtain that kept the dust off his books. For a long time he contemplated the colored oblongs of their backs, reading the gilt and black and red type of titles, deciding what he should read.

* * * *

The air was raw. Clouds ruddy from the glare of arclights sagged like awnings over the streets. They were walking briskly down an oozy black alley near the market.

"Where are you taking us, Wenny?" said Nan. She rested a greygloved hand on Fanshaw's arm for a moment as she stepped over a pile of fruit-skins on the curb.

"You said you wanted a walk before dinner"; Wenny sauntered ahead talking over his shoulder.

"We are getting it. I didn't know there were so many streets in Boston, did you, Nan?" Fanshaw spoke with a little sniggering laugh. The ooze of grimy unfamiliar lives out of these dark houses oppressed him. Unhealthy it must be down here, typhoid, consumption, typhus, diphtheria. He felt himself putting his feet down gently as he walked as if he feared that at a loud step the pulpy darkness would burst suddenly into oaths and shouts, dirty hands clutching at his coat and whisky-steaming faces thrust into his.

"Now you know where you are," said Wenny.

They had burst suddenly out into the shine and scuttle of Hanover Street, where men and women, dark bulky shadows in overcoats and mufflers and bits of fur, flitted constantly past the broad show-windows bright with intricate glints on shoes and hardware and sourish colors in clothing stores and gleaming cascades of cheap jewelry over black velvet under the three ominous gold balls of pawnbrokers.

"Gee, I'm glad it's Saturday night!"

"Why Wenny?" Fanshaw stood on the curb beside Nan, blinking a little, dazzled by the noise and hustle.

"Because it's Saturday night you old owl.... This way."

"You aren't going to take us into more dark alleys and get us black-jacked for your entertainment, are you Wenny?"

"I'm going to give you the best bottle of white wine you ever had in your life. Here we are."

VENICE read Fanshaw on the window. Stood in Venice by the Bridge of Sighs, a prison and a palace on each hand. Byron; rather a rotter he must have been, or perhaps passionate impulsive hot, like Wenny. The verdict of history.

They were sitting at a round table in the window. The waiter, a grey eggshaped man with sagging pockets under his eyes and a sagging vest too large for him was bending over the table. The others were ordering. How ravishing Nan was tonight in a black dress with great spots of burnt orange embroidery; her eyes under the small black hat trimmed with the same color, were full of little green sparks.

"I swear, Nan," Wenny was saying, "you are the only woman in this blooming town who knows how to dress."

"Where did you get that dress anyway? I have never seen it before," chimed in Fanshaw. He had a vague feeling of pique at not having said it first. Nan and Wenny seemed to get along so well this evening. He felt out of place down here in the slums. The food would probably be horrid.

"This is delightful, Wenny," Nan was saying. "What I want to know is why have you never brought us here before?"

The lint from the napkin came off on Fanshaw's blue serge suit. What a mess. Mechanically he started wiping off the knife and fork when the waiter set them down before him.

"Like in Europe," he said aloud. "You must forgive me Wenny, but I am suspicious of this famous restaurant of yours."

"And just looked there a fiasco just like in Italy," cried Nan, "Why this is wonderful."

"Genuine Orvieto, Miss," said the waiter solemnly.

"And look at the gondola ... Fanshaw, do get over being cross and look at the gondola at the foot of the stairs, with a lantern in it too."

"That's for the orchestra. They'll be here in a minute, a ladies' three-piece band as I heard a man call them one night. One of them's awfully good looking."

Fanshaw looked about the room. At another table a man and a woman were eating intently. They had sallow, puffy faces and looked into each other's eyes as they stuffed their mouths with spaghetti; depraved-looking thought Fanshaw. Probably Byron had been like that, a puffyfaced man, signs of dissipation. If it hadn't been for drink and women ... Why couldn't people be beautiful about life?

"Here they come," cried Nan and Wenny at the same moment.

Three women in white were behind the gondola prow tuning up their instruments. All at once with a nervous rush they started strumming away at O Sole Mio, with piano, 'cello and violin.

In the back of Fanshaw's mind were pictures of how he would have lived if he had had as much money as Lord Byron; a palazzo in Venice exquisitely hung with faded silk brocades, bedrooms with old rose and dull gold upholstery, and everything according to period, no jarring note, a villa on Fiesole hill, smothered in flowers with in the distance the russet roofs of Florence and the great dome.

"Nan, do you see the girl who's playing the violin?" whispered Wenny. "That's the girl I meant. She's lovely, isn't she?"

"Wenny, you are seeing things through the Orvieto, but she is beautiful."

"It's her lips and chin that are rather like yours."

"Musician's lips," said Fanshaw a little pompously. "Do you like those little snippets of veal, Nan? I don't. Too much garlic. We'll taste it for a week."

"Why it's fine," cried Wenny uproariously. "It'll put hair on your chest."

"I wonder," Nan was speaking slowly, "I wonder if that could be the girl Fitzie was telling me about. I rather think Fitzie said she looked like that."


"The violinist ... Must be a month ago I met Fitzie one day all excited about something. Poor Fitzie does take life so hard. She told me a long cock and bull story that ended by impressing me a great deal about a girl in the Fadettes ..."

At the mention of the Fadettes, Wenny laughed himself red in the face.

"Children should be seen and not heard, Wenny," went on Nan in an even amused voice. "About a girl in the Fadettes who eloped with an Italian boy and how his wife went round to the theatre dragging a lot of squalling brats and made a fearful scene. Fitzie couldn't understand how anyone could wreck their chances of a career like that. It would be wonderful if this were the girl."

"What would you have done?" asked Wenny eagerly leaning over the table.

"If I had been the girl? How can I know? I wonder sometimes if just the wanting so hard to succeed wouldn't make you throw the whole thing away in one mad moment. It's hard to explain."

"Sure, I know what you mean. No, but about the Italian?"

"What a silly question Wenny," said Fanshaw.

"Perhaps not so silly. Who can tell?"

They were silent a moment. The orchestra was playing The Soldiers Chorus. The waiter brought coffee.

"And another bottle," said Wenny jauntily.

Fanshaw frowned. They had had enough to drink. What a child Wenny was anyway. With unexpected tenderness he pictured himself putting him to bed drunk, unlacing his shoes, pulling off his trousers. A sudden desire came to him to draw a hand over Wenny's crisp short hair.

"There is something strangely fantastically dismal about that gondola with its red light as an end to romance. I wonder where those stairs go."

Nan nodded her head.

"That's what I meant. I wonder if she is the girl.... No, Wenny, I'm glad you brought us here, even if we shall taste garlic for a week."

"At least there is the satisfaction of having busted loose," said Wenny eagerly.

"I never can understand the amazing way people put themselves out to be miserable." Fanshaw found himself suddenly welling with bitter irritation.

"But, by God!" cried Wenny, "You have to put yourself out to live at all; every damn moment of your life you have to put yourself out not to fossilize. Most people are mere wax figures in a show window. Have you seen a dredger ever, a lot of buckets in a row on a chain going up an inclined plane. That's what people are, tied in a row on the great dredger of society.... I want to be a bucket standing on my own bottom, alone.... Why are you laughing Nan?"

"You are so eager about it, Wenny, dear."

"What in hell would you be eager about if not that?"

"Why be too eager about anything?" put in Fanshaw in his most languid voice.

"O you make me tired, Fanshaw."

Fanshaw flushed. The little rat, he thought, I'd like to smack him for being so silly. If he could get all that energy into something worth while. That's the difference between us and people like Pico della Mirandola or Petrarch. They could get all that energy into thought, art for the liberation of the world. We fritter it in silly complications. What a clever idea; if he could only make Wenny understand that.

"That's where my music comes in," Nan was saying, her voice grown suddenly tense as Wenny's. "By living it, by making myself great in it, I can bust loose of this fearful round of existence. What a wonderful phrase that is, the wheel of Karma! I understand why women throw themselves head over heels at the most puny man. They have got to escape, if only for a moment, from the humdrum, all the little silly objects, pots and pans and spools of thread that make up our lives. I've got to get that in my music. Nothing else matters."

Fanshaw was thinking for some reason of Dürer's portrait of himself at the age of twenty-eight. There was a man who had never needed to bust loose. They must have been less tied to the wheel in those days.

"But you always have to pay the piper, Nan," Wenny was saying. "It's no use trying to escape that. It's fearfully dangerous to live. I should say music was less safe than love."

"Not if you use your reason, Wenny," said Fanshaw.

"Who ever had any reason to use? It's an illusion, the result of thinking things over after they've happened."

Nan left the table. Fanshaw found himself glaring indignantly at Wenny.

"Gee, isn't Nan beautiful to look at tonight?"

"O, she is!" said Fanshaw smiling with forced frankness. He felt a tumult like frightened pigeons in a box inside him. Heavens, suppose he was in love with Nan!

Nan came down the redcarpeted stairs beside the gondola, pulling on her gloves. She stood a moment talking to the girls in the orchestra.

Fanshaw leaned across the table.

"Wenny, don't you think you had better not drink any more?"

"What the hell business is it of yours? Haven't had half enough to drink."

Nan came back to the table, a little sociable smile still playing about the corners of her mouth.

"Well, shall we go?" she said briskly.

"Look! Look outside!" cried Wenny, "it's beginning to snow."

In the black space above the muslin curtain that screened the window they could see big flakes gently, breathlessly tumbling.

"Thank you, sir; come again, sir," said the waiter as he let the tip slide into one of the pockets of his sagging vest.

They were out in the snowhushed streets, the snow brushing their cheeks with occasional feathery gentleness like tips of wings of very cold birds.

"Did you ask her?" said Wenny.

"No. I shall next time. She's awfully nice." Nan was buttoning the fur round her neck.

"Do you want to taxi?" asked Fanshaw, who had thin shoes on.

"Ridiculous, let's walk. I love this anyway. Don't you, Wenny?"

The black pavement shivered in squirms and lozenges of yellow and red and green light under the feet of people scuttling home out of the wet. All the sharpness of lights and colors and sounds was padded and blotched by the slow flutter of snowflakes swirling down out of the ruddy darkness overhead to vanish in the uneven glitter of the wet streets. Fanshaw took Nan's arm and made her walk fast, up towards the electric star that revolved slowly in front of a movie on Scollay Square, leaving Wenny to saunter behind them. They had passed the outdoor market where a few women with taut lantern jaws still hovered over the nearly empty pushcarts of the vegetable sellers and where brownfaced Italians still barked their apples and peppers and artichokes, when Wenny caught up to them with: "Say, wait a minute."

They stopped outside of a nickel Odeon that belched cigarette smoke and calcium light. Overhead painted in blue letters pricked with red was the sign: Pretty Girls Upstairs.

"Ever been up there, Nan?"

Nan shook her head.

"Let's go for a minute; the most grotesque thing you ever saw."

"Absurd. We'll do no such thing," snorted Fanshaw.

Loafers and office boys on their Saturday night bat and drunken sailors and little overpainted hardfaced girls of the street who had come into the broad entrance to get out of the snow looked at them curiously as they disputed.

"I think it would be fun, Fanshaw. Come on, be a sport," said Nan.

"It'll smell fearfully," said Fanshaw under his breath.

"All right, just for a minute."

Wenny paid the admission, and they tramped up a creaking stair littered with cigarette butts and marked with dark blotches where people had spat and through a swinging door into a tobacco-reeking place with seats. At the end of a smoky tunnel in front of a curtain the color of arsenic and gangrene five women badly stuffed into pink tights like worn dolls, twitched their legs in time to the accentless jangle of a piano. The light streamed out from them among eager red faces, moist lips, derbies, felt hats, caps shoved back on heads. At every pause in the music men whistled and shouted at the girls. Now and then a girl dropped out of the wiggling, tired dance and jerked herself off the stage or a new one joined in the invariable twitching step. Fanshaw felt the fetor of hostile bodies all about him. Standing in the back behind some sailors, holding Nan's arm firmly in his, he kept whispering in her ear: "Nan, let's get out of this." The man in front of them turned, and Fanshaw caught the bulge of his eyes as he stared at Nan.

"Come on, I'm going," he said aloud.

"Don't you go with that stiff, girlie. You stay along with me," said the man leaning drunkenly towards her. He had a yellow lean face with a hooked scar on one cheek.

"I'm going," said Nan suddenly in a cold, hard voice. "You can stay if you like, Wenny."

The door swung behind them. They brushed past some boys clattering up the stairs with shouts of laughter. Once on the pavement, Fanshaw breathed deep of the snowy air.

"We'll take the car at Scollay Square," he said in a reassuring businesslike tone. In him a voice kept saying: That dirty little kid, that dirty little kid, and exultantly, Nan can't like him after this.

Nan said nothing, but walked beside him with cold, precise steps. At the entrance to the subway, Wenny came up to them and said: "All right. Good night," in a sudden, curt tone, and went off walking fast down Hanover Street again.

The Huntington Avenue car filled up gradually with people. As it growled through the tunnel past Park and Boylston the row of faces opposite joggled as meaningless as turnips jounced over cobbles in a pushcart. And again Fanshaw throught of Albrecht Dürer's self-portrait with yellow curls and the dandified black and white flounced shirt and the calm, self-possessed mouth. If I could be like that, he was thinking, and not like these. And there's that suit I meant to have pressed today. I'll take it round after my nine o'clock class; and the weekly tests and Mrs. Gerald's dinner invitation to answer. He half closed his eyes. That wine makes me drowsy.

* * * *

"I've so wanted, so prayed, dear, that you might have a beautiful, lovely career," Fanshaw's mother was saying in a weak voice, her head swaying from side to side ever so little against the pillow.

Fanshaw nodded and drew up his chair beside her's. Outside the window some barberries were very red against the snow in the thin twilight of the winter afternoon. Snow scene by Brueghel.

"And really, dear, it must be admitted," went on Mrs. Macdougan with a little smile, "that you have done very well in the five years since you left college. You have made yourself beloved and respected, dear, in the walk of life you have chosen... Don't shake your head, you know it is true. Why Mrs. Appleby was telling me only yesterday how highly Mr. Appleby thought of your work under him. O, I was proud of you! And I shall be prouder yet, I know it, if I live long enough... Yes, I shall. O, dear boy, when I was raising you, and I had such trouble raising you, you were sickly, you know dear, like I am now... I used to think how you'd be big and strong and a comfort to me when I was old, just like you are. If God hadn't seen fit to try me with this affliction, how happy we would be together."

"But, mother, you are going to get well, you know. This summer maybe we'll be able to go abroad."

"Nice of you to say it, dearest.... Do you think you could make me a cup of tea? I'd so like a cup of tea. These afternoons are so long."

"But, mother, you know you're not supposed to have tea."

All the little wrinkles about her eyes and the corners of her mouth deepened. She patted her grey pompadour, that had slipped a little to one side of her head, with a querulous hand.

"I didn't have any yesterday," she whined. "I'm so thirsty, Fanshaw."

"All right, I'll get Susan to make some."

When he came back from the kitchen, she said, her grey eyes wide, staring with excitement:

"I was thinking, Fanshaw, supposing you married and some dreadful woman won you away from your poor mother; what should I do? You're so sweet to me; you take such care of me."

Fanshaw turned red to the roots of his sandy hair.

"Not much danger of that," he said stiffly. "We'll have a nice cup of tea in a minute, very weak, so that we shan't get too nervous, shan't we dear?"

"I know it's so, Fanshaw. Some girl has got a hold on you. Don't trust her dear, don't trust her. Women are so wicked. She's after your social position or thinks you make a good salary... O, I'd die, I'd die if someone got you away from me." Mrs. Macdougan was sitting bolt upright in the chair, beating on her knees with little puffy hands. A wisp of grey hair had fallen down over her forehead, revealing a bit of the black rat under the pompadour. "They are such scheming creatures, so deceitful and wicked, and I so want you to have a beautiful career and be a comfort to me."

"O, now please dear! O, now please dear!" Fanshaw was saying, clenching and unclenching his hands, staring into the crowded twilight of the library behind his mother's head.

Susan, tall, with genial horse teeth, came in with a tray of tea things.

"O, your hair's acomin' down, mum. Can't I fix it for you, mum?"

"Do, Susan, please," said Mrs. Macdougan in a faint voice, drooping against the pillow.

Fanshaw brought up a small table and poured out a cup of tea. His lips were compressed and trembling. When Susan had gone he said in a quiet, expressionless voice:

"Now, mother, you are getting yourself worked up over nothing. I assure you there is nothing whatever between me and any girl."

"You always were a truthful boy, but no matter, no matter... There's not enough sugar in this tea, dear. O, why don't people ever give me things the way I like them?"

Fanshaw dropped another lump in her cup. She began to drink the tea in little sips. The wrinkles in her face relaxed. Fanshaw was looking out of the window at the snow, rosy with sunset, and the intense purple shadows behind the barberry bushes. His mind was all drawn hotly into the image of Nan that day at the Logans' with a net of pearls over her hair like a girl by a Lombard painter. Against the snow, the fervid rose and purple, how fine she would be.

"Well, I must leave you, mother," he said. "I must go over to Cambridge."

"Don't be late this evening."

"No, dear."

* * * *

The wind was nipping and frosty with a smell of mudflats on it and salt-eaten piles. Fanshaw, walking up T Wharf between Wenny and Nan, sniffed with relish the harbor air, looking at the agewarped houses and the masts and tackle of the fishing schooners against the grey sky. He had pulled his buff woolen muffler up until it covered the lobes of his ears and had sunk his hands deep in his overcoat pockets. In the forehead between the eyes the wind pressed now and then like biting cold iron.

"If I had been a man," Nan was saying, "I should have gone to sea."

"But think of it in this weather... It's delightful to take a stroll and look at the harbor and the shipping and go back to a warm room. But think of being out in it always. Such beastly cold, grimy, monotonous work." Fanshaw felt his teeth almost on edge as he spoke. How differently made people must be who could stand that sort of thing.

The wharf was empty. From the stubby stovepipes of the galleys of the close-packed schooners came an occasional rift of blue smoke, a whiff of bacon and pipes and stuffy bunks snatched away in a gust of wind.

"I may go yet someday," said Wenny.

"But think," Fanshaw shuddered. "Think of handling frozen ropes in a wind like this." He thought of gritty ropes cutting through gloves and flesh, ripping the calloused flesh of men's palms. That story of Jack London's he had read years ago. It must have been that that put it in his head, the sight of blood on ice-jagged, tarry ropes.

The harbor was wide bright silver, tarnished where the wind made catspaws. One tug steamed seaward, cutting into the wind with a white rustle of foam about a bluff, grimy bow, dragging long coils of brown smoke. They were standing beside some piles at the end of the wharf.

"I have my chance now," said Wenny. "The bust-up was complete this time."

"How do you mean?" Fanshaw and Nan said in unison.

"My chance to go to sea ... I've broken off relations ... with my relations ... Bad pun, isn't it?"

"You mean you had a row with them?" said Fanshaw. "I can understand that. Poor mother and I nearly came to blows.... It's the holiday spirit. Christmas is a dreadful time. Don't you think so, Nan?"

"I like Christmas," said Wenny.

"But Wenny, you said complete." Nan put a hand on his arm.

"I mean it. I shall never have anything to do with them again... I never have rows."

"But what on earth happened?" Nan's voice was very gentle.

"Absolutely nothing. My father and I had a little chat about life and eternity. How silly, I'm getting all worked up talking about it. O, I suppose I'd better tell you to get it off my system. It's not a bit important. I laid on for life and he laid on for eternity ... Naturally, being a clergyman eternity is his line of goods. We got sore. I'm never going to take anything more from him, either his money or his insolence."

"But how are you going to live?" cried Fanshaw.

"What the hell? I've got as much muscle as the next man."

"But you're so impractical, Wenny."

"It must have been more than that. How did it start?" said Nan, tapping with her patent leather toe at a loose board.

"It started ..." There was a catch in Wenny's voice. Then gruffly: "He said something unpleasant about a snapshot I had on my desk. It's too ridiculous."

"But you'll have to give up your M. A.," went on Fanshaw.

"Damn good thing, too. I was just hanging round the Anthropology department in the hope of getting in on an expedition to South America."

And Wenny owes me a hundred dollars, the thought crept unexpectedly into Fanshaw's mind. Never get it now.

"But Wenny," Nan was pleading, "I think you are probably exaggerating the importance of the whole thing. I don't see that it's necessary to get on your high horse like that."

"You would, Nan, if you knew them. You can't imagine how fearful it is down there. A congregational minister's house in Washington. The snobbery and the mealymouthedness ... God, it's stinking... You see I never really lived with them. My mother's sister brought me up mostly here in Boston. You see I had three brothers and a sister, and I was the ugly duckling; and my aunt, who was an old maid, took me off their hands. She was a fine woman. She died the year I went to college. She lived on an annuity, and left me just enough money to skimp through on till Junior year, when my father said he'd help... I have nothing in common with those people down there, and now, because they were giving me money, they decided I must do what they wanted, and they hate me and I hate them. I was a filthy coward to ever take a cent from him, anyway.... And so here I am at twenty-three, penniless, ignorant, and full of the genteel paralysis of culture... Silly, isn't it, Nan?"

The rising wind whined through the rigging of the fishing schooners and the waves slapped noisily against their pitchy bows. Fanshaw's feet were numb and his forehead ached.

"Let's walk along," he said. "I'm frozen. I'd like some hot chocolate, would you, Nan?"

"But Wenny," Nan was saying, "You ought to stay on a little while to get your breath as it were... You took your room in Conant for the whole season."

"But, how am I going to pay the term bill, I'd like to know?" There was a little tremor in Wenny's voice that made him cut off his words sharp.

They turned and walked down the wharf again, the wind shoving and nudging at them from behind. In the lea of the buildings were a few old men with red faces sitting on boxes smoking pipes.

"Still," said Wenny with a sudden laugh. "I'm glad it happened. It tears off this fearful cotton wadding I've been swaddled in all my life. We'll see what the world is like now, won't we Fanshaw, old duck?" He slapped Fanshaw hard between the shoulders.

"The trouble is; can one live without it?" said Nan.

Fearfully good looking the boy is, all excited and flushed like this, Fanshaw thought.

"By God, I intend to!"

"I thought you looked different, Wenny, when you got off the train," Nan said.

"It was fearfully decent of you two to meet me... Makes me feel as if I had somebody, no matter what happened."

"I've often thought," Fanshaw said, "That there was something that cut us three off together, like people in a carnival in Venice who might drift in their wonderfully carved state gondola down a dark canal ..."

"And find themselves in the Charles ... Exactly!" cried Wenny laughing.

They had left the wharves and were walking through the grey many-angled buildings of the business section. It was the lunch hour, and the streets were full of clerks and stenographers hustling from their offices to their lunch; from out of the tiled caves of lunchrooms came a smell of bacon and old coffee grounds.

"What sort of work are you going to do? I suppose you'll try a newspaper; everybody does."

"Let's not talk about that now, Fanshaw. Where on earth are you taking us?"

"To Thompson's Spa."

"Why not the Parker House, where we can have something to drink?"

"I'd rather have hot chocolate. I am frozen," said Nan.

They rounded the old State House.

Thompson's Spa was like an aviary, full of shrill women's chatter, bobbing hats, rows of powdered faces eating at narrow counters, smell of chocolate and sandwiches and sarsaparilla.

"Look, there's Betty Thomas!... What are you doing here, Betty? Sit here before somebody nabs the place," said Nan.

"O, just shopping. Dear, you should see the hats, straws at Filenes. Why, how do you do, Mr. Macdougan, and ... you! Why, this is a reunion!"

"Are they reasonable?"

"What, the hats?... Marvellous values, really."

Betty Thomas's nose was a little red from the cold. She held, balanced between finger and thumb, a salad sandwich that dripped mayonnaise into her plate; the three unoccupied fingers were arched airily in space. There was something about her amiable chatter to Nan, about the amiable fussy chattiness of the women all about them that rasped on Fanshaw's nerves; the sum of it was shrill and ominous.

"But Wenny, what are you going to do?... I'm fearfully worried," he said in a low voice, leaning towards Wenny's ear. Like a haze about them was Nan's and Betty Thomas's chirruping talk:

"My dear, have you heard the latest? Up at the conservatoire ..."

"Honestly, I don't give a damn, Fanshaw. I'm so sick of this hanging on the outskirts of college ..."

"I think your department would get you a scholarship. You must go put it up to them. It's ridiculous to let a thing like this wreck your career."

"... And Mrs. Ambrose absolutely refused to sing a note ..."

"My dear Fanshaw, if you knew how utterly sick and fed up I was with all that ... No, I'm going to live this time."

"... And Salinski said ..."

"But don't be a fool. Look, I'll try to scrape up some cash for the term bill. I think I can do it."

"You mustn't. I don't want it paid... I'm not going to keep on with this farce any longer."

"... A middle register, like an angel.... And she told Fitzie that he said ..."

"You make me tired, Wenny. You must be sensible."

"Don't you see that I'm trying to be, for the first time in my life?"

"... met a man who said Romoulet wasn't teaching the belcanto at all.... O, I'm so afraid, dear, of ruining my voice.... So many people ..."

"Well, so long. I'm going to fetch my suitcase," said Wenny shortly. "I'll see you people later." He threaded his way out through groups of women and sallow men waiting for seats.

"I'm afraid your friend doesn't like me," said Betty Thomas pouting.

"He does, I assure you. He's a little diswrought today. He's often like that, isn't he Nan?"

Nan laughed, as she began fitting her gloves on again.

"Poor child.... All too often."

"It's no use taking it too seriously," said Fanshaw.

"No, I don't suppose one ought to take Wenny seriously," Nan whispered slowly, "And yet ..."

"Are we taking the car?" asked Betty Thomas.

"I'll come up as far as your place and then go on over to see Mother... I haven't been there all day," said Fanshaw. Career, he was thinking. Will Nan or this girl make careers? Career in music, diva, prima donna, like Ethel Barrymore in Tante, Adelina Patti; Doris Keene in Romance. Suites in hotels full of expensive flowers. For me a career wouldn't be like that. Too absurd, poor dear mother wanting me to have a lovely career. Epicurus would not have approved of a career.

At Symphony Hall they got out of the car.

"Nan, you'll invite me to your first concert in there, won't you?" said Betty Thomas.

"If you'll invite me first." They laughed to hide their eagerness.

They walked up a street of brick and brownstone houses with narrow windows stuffed with fussy curtains on the parlor floors. Occasionally a girl passed them with a folder of music under her arm. From the houses came a perpetual sound of scales taken with tenors, sopranos, contraltos, tinkled on pianos, scraped on 'cellos and violins, toodled on flutes. From somewhere came occasionally the muffled bray of an English horn.

"Fearful street, isn't it?" said Fanshaw.

"So Betty and I aren't the only ones ..."

"You mean who want to scale Symphony Hall? O, it's a common disease, Nan.... Well, I must go back and get the car over to Brookline. If Wenny goes to see you, do try and get him to be sensible."

* * * *

Fanshaw had marked the last paper in the test on Florentine sculpture. He got up from his desk yawning. O Lord! he was thinking, I'll never be able to look Donatello or the Ghiberti doors in the face again. He leaned over, arranged the pencils in their tray, put the papers away in the drawer, and slowly took off his tortoise-shell spectacles. My eyes are smarting; I mustn't work any more tonight. The case closed on his spectacles with a faint clack. Poor Wenny, what a rotten shame; but if he would not learn tact, discretion, what on earth was there to do? So idiotically childish. Fanshaw walked with long, leisurely stride into his bathroom, where he hung his dressing gown on the back of the door. He came back with yellowstriped pajamas under his arm and sat on the edge of the bed to take off his shoes. Fearful how this business upsets me, he muttered aloud. Much too fond of Wenny, his dark skin, his extraordinary bright eyes. One ought to have more control over one's emotions, senses. At grade school in Omaha, there had been that curlyhaired boy, Bunny Jones. Walking home from school one day, they took the roundabout way beyond the railroad yards. Must have been May, for the locusts were out. Mother never could abide the smell of locusts, insisted they gave her a headache. Bunny had suddenly put an arm round his neck and kissed him and run off crying in a funny little voice, "Gee, I'm skeered." Curious the way streaks like that turn up in one. Pico della Mirandola wouldn't have been afraid of such an impulse if it had come to him. There were so many scandalmongers about this place. How fearful anything like that would be. He wasn't free like Wenny. He had his mother to take care of, lovely career to make. How bitterly silly the idea was. He folded his trousers over the back of the chair. And it was really Nan he cared for. Love, he thought; the word somehow rasped in him. When he had put on his pajamas he stood in front of the dim mirror a second rubbing his fingers through his short sandy hair. Wonderful it would be to have yellow curls like Dürer in his portrait. He turned out the light and got into bed. O, the window! He got up, pushed the window up half way and retreated hastily before the blast of cold air that stung his flesh under the loose pajamas. Comfortable, this bed; better than the one I have at mother's place. He closed his eyes and drew the covers up about his chin. Streets, he thought of, long streets of blind windows, dark, cold under arclights, and himself and Wenny and Nan walking arm in arm, hurrying from corner to corner. Can't seem to find that street, and on to the next corner between endless rows of blind windows converging in a perspective utterly black beyond the cold lividness of arclights. Must have lost our way in these streets.

He opened his eyes with a jerk. The room was familiar and quiet about him, the accustomed bulk of the desk opposite the bed. Out on Mt. Auburn Street voices, occasional steps. He closed his eyes again and fell asleep.


Wenny walked alone down a long street of arclights, memories throbbing to the rhythm of his swift, nervous steps. Every instant he seemed to walk from end to end the whole street of his life. Back in his childhood it had been unaccountable and dark, overhung; where was it he had walked down a narrow alley between towering blind brick walls that trembled with a roar of hidden engines? The terror of it had been like that. Then breaks of lollipop-colored sunlight, little redroofed houses set back among lawns of green baize, set about with toy evergreens, at doors varnished farmers' wives in Dutch caps, tiny, like through the wrong end of the telescope, shepherding Noah's animals out of the cardboard ark; and the smell of the varnish scaling off toys, grain of wood grimed by the fingers, black gleam of the floor under the bay window. Then streets to go out in alone, runnings to the corner drugstore, vast, glittering, reeking with dangerous smells, to buy aspirin for Auntie. Terror of faces looking out through grated area windows. And now all that's over. I am going to live. The uneven frozen slush on the pavement crunched underfoot.

And the little funny store where they had candy canes striped like barberpoles and toy trumpets; tin shiny through green and red bright paint; and the feel of rough brown paper twisted funnel-shape, cornucopias, horns of plenty, Auntie said they were. And the smell of schoolrooms and ink on his fingers, and himself walking home fast to get away from Pug Williams, who said he'd smash his dirty mug in. Fire engines and bare, proud arms of firemen loafing in the enginehouse. Muckers, bad-smelling in brown black clothes, who threw snowballs at you and wrote dirty words on the pavement, reckless, who had no aunts to scold them. And tonight I walk fast to get away from all these memories, because tomorrow I am going to live.

And there had been the time he had first discovered memories, when he had held his life out at arms' length and looked at it. And the streets had been full of girls then, the tilt of heels, ankles, calves swelling under wind-yanked skirts; the hot blush and the sudden trembling heartbeat when his eyes met a girl's eyes; the girls giggling over sodas in corner drugstores. The smell of hot asphalt and oil from a steam-roller puffing and clanking in front of the house, the wonderfulness of engines and boats, whistles and the churned harbor-water as the liner left the wharf. Ballantyne read with smarting eyes after bedtime, black faces against blue sea and chattering paraquets greener than an emerald and himself brownly naked in the surf of lonely beaches. Now for all that. No more dreams, I'm going live tomorrow.

The funny excited anticipation when he first saw the sign in the subway: Out to Mass. Avenue and the College Yard; then the intonations of arguing voices, hands knocking the ashes out of pipes, card catalogues in the library, the dazzle of unimagined horizons with phrases of all the philosophers going by like the transparencies in a political parade. His aunt in a coffin, her grey face brittle under glass like the imitation flowers in showcases in Peabody. His father and mother bustling about. During the service he had run away and locked himself in the bathroom and cried like when he had been in a temper when he was very little. And now here I am, and what am I going to do to live without dreams? Tomorrow and tomorrow ... how silly that's Shakespeare.

He was walking down a straight deserted street through Cambridgeport. A few trees cut the cold glint of light against windows and scrawled shadows over the uneven snowpiles along the gutters. He walked fast, staring at the arclights that were violet in the center and gave off green and orange rays through the thin mist. At a corner in front of a red A. P. store a group of boys followed him with their eyes. Muckers.

"O, Algy!... It's late, Algernon," they taunted him in falsetto voices as he passed. A snowball whizzed past his ear.

"How in hell do they know I'm in college? Must be the smell," he muttered amusedly. A sudden tingle of curiosity went through him to know about those boys on the corner. How he'd lain awake at night thinking of muckers when he was a kid, making himself stories of fights, things with girls, adventures he'd do if he were a mucker, if he were to run away from Aunt Susan and be a mucker. He thought of himself scuttling over roofs from the cops, shots twanging hard in the zero-green night, dancing belly to belly with a painted girl in a cellar. But enough of dreams. Tomorrow I'm going to live.

Busy his mind had been all the evening, urging his tired legs on to its throb, clanking out memories raspingly, the way a press turns out papers; all at once he knew why. He had to keep from thinking of Nan.

"O Nan," he said between clenched teeth. For an instant he felt her acutely walking beside him, leaning on his arm, her cheek against his cheek. He trembled as he walked. His body was a funnel of blackness in which his life was sucked away, whirling like water out of a washbasin. He jerked himself to a stop. He was at a corner in front of a drugstore. At the top of the greenly lit window his eyes followed the letters of a Coca-Cola sign. That will be the first act, he was thinking, I shall tell Nan. I can't go now. I'm too tired now... And all at once a great wave of jollity bubbled up through him. Of course I'll go and tell Nan. To love Nan, to walk arm in arm with her, the ache of desiring all eased, to talk endlessly to her, touching her... Now I'll go home and go to bed. In the morning early I'll go to see her before she's up, arrive carrying the milk and the paper. His heart pounding with anticipation, he started walking fast again down a cross street. He had a feeling of suddenly scrambling on to a mountain top from which he could see endless valleys radiating into sunlight, full of gleam of roads and streams and beckoning woods, and swift shine of rails taut about the bulging hills. From now on he would burst through the stagnant film of dreams, his life would be a headlong adventure. Tomorrow Nan and real living. They'd go away from Boston, where they were caged by dead customs, where there were ghosts at every corner, constricting ghosts.

At Massachusetts Avenue the wind was like a razor in his face. The blundering yellow oblong of a car came towards him along the black straight track through the rutted snow. He ran, slipped and with a laugh landed on the step.

"Wait till the car stops," said the conductor mechanically. "Safety first."

Wenny dropped into the seat beside a lean redfaced man with floppy ears.

"Hullo, Wendell," the man said, "How's your museum work going?"

"It's gone. I'm chucking the whole shooting match."

"Why on earth?"

"I'm going abroad. I don't know what I'm going to do. I am going to do something. This isn't anything."

"But why drop out now? Why not wait for your M. A.? You haven't been fired, have you?"

Wenny laughed and laughed.

"No. Things have come to a jumping off place, that's all. I want some more satisfactory ..." Wenny smothered an impulse to boast.

"I see," said the man with a queer look.

"No, you don't ... Because I don't either.... But that's how things are, and to hell with the M. A."

It was good to pull off his heavy coat in his own room once the door had slammed behind him. The warmth made him very drowsy.

"Tomorrow," he said aloud as he tugged at his necktie. "Gee, it's lucky I had that row with Father. I'd never have waked up for years." When he had his clothes off he stretched himself and yawned. Old fool, Fanshaw, I wonder why I like him, he was thinking. We'll outlive his old dusty Picos and Mirandolas, anyway. O, and Nan, Nan. The thought of her body in his arms, of her slender body in the bed beside him, made his head swim in a haze of throbbing lights sharp like chirruping of crickets, sleepy like dryflies. He clicked off the electricity and let himself crumple on to the bed. After a minute he shivered and pulled the covers high about his face. And think that we're going abroad. Out among islands in a pearly blue sea dolphins danced, from the islands great gusts of fragrance came like music on the wind, the plunk of an anchor in blue bay-water, pink and yellow houses jostling each other on the sandy shore... He lay laughing happily, so that the bedsprings shook.

When he woke up the hands of his piefaced alarm clock were at seven. The sun was barely up. The poplars behind the dormitory cast streaky shadows on the pitted snow where here and there a bit of upturned crust glowed ruby and topaz color. Wenny reached out of the window for an icicle that glittered from the gutter above his head. It was cold against his tongue, tasted the way soot smells. He threw it at a sparrow perched fluffily on a bush. "Top of the mornin', Mr. Sparrow!" and closed the window. The sparrow was tiny and violet black as he flew into the dazzle of the sun. Wenny dressed hastily, wondering whether he should shave. I can't take the time; what the hell does it matter anyway? An old woman was scrubbing the stone steps. Cold, her hands must be, he thought as he rammed his hands into his overcoat pockets.

The lunchroom was almost empty.

"Scrambled eggs and bacon on toast and a cup of coffee," he said to the towhaired, pink-cheeked youth who was slipping into a white jacket behind the counter. "Fine morning, isn't it?"

"Aint no fine mornings at this job. I call a fine mornin' a mornin' I can lay in bed."

Wenny laughed. It'ld be fun to be a bussboy for a while, the grotesque people telling you yarns over coffee. Not here with these damn college snobs though, in a lunchwagon down in the North End. How many existences. Walt Whitman had it in The Song of Occupations. The toast and bacon crackled under his teeth. He noticed the clock. Hell's bells, only half past seven. I can't help it, I'll wake her up. She won't care. Nan asleep in her white bedroom, her hair plaited, sitting up in a dressing gown, he leaning over her talking to her, the smell of her hair in his nostrils. He would come up from behind and put his hands on her breasts and kiss her.

He paid the fat cashier, whose eyes drooped sleepily on either side of a spongy, pendulous nose. Wondered how long his money would last; one day, two days, four days? The icy pavement flew under his feet. Beside the Charles he stooped a moment to watch a rift widening, very black in the ice. Behind him was the throb of the power plant and the soaring brick chimneys. It would be fine to build chimneys like that. I mustn't dawdle. I'll go crazy if I don't see Nan. Kiss me Nan.

He was flushed and his ears and fingers tingled from the wind and his eyes were jumpy from the dazzle of the snow through the Fenway. The Swansea, the gilt letters, a little worn, slanted ornately down the glass door. His throat felt tight, all the blood seemed to have ebbed out of him. He wondered if he were going to faint. Miss Taylor, said the visiting card above the bell. The little black button bit into his finger he pushed it so hard. Again. Again. At last the thing in the lock clicked. He pushed the door open and ran up the stairs. On every landing papers, milk bottles. Cautiously Nan's door opened under his knock.

"Why, Wenny, you startled me half out of my wits," she said in a yawning voice. "I thought you were a telegram."

"I am."

She opened the door so that he could see half her face between the tumbled pile of her hair and the green dressing gown clutched about her chin.

"Wait a sec. Go into the library. I'll get something on. What on earth is the matter?"

In the library Wenny fell into the Morris chair and buried his face in his hands. He was trembling like a whipped dog. He was falling through zone after zone of misery like in a nightmare.

"Had any breakfast? I'm putting on coffee," came Nan's voice from the kitchenette.

"Fine!" Something unbearably false in his tone made him wince like a lash.

He stared about the room terribly afraid of the moment when Nan would come. Opposite him was the piano's great white complacent grin.

She was in the room, between him and the piano. He was looking up at her, at her oval face that capped the aloof slenderness of her body in green clinging crepe with long sleeves. O God, to put my hands on her breasts, to touch my lips to the richness of her neck.

"Well, you are an early bird this morning, Wenny."

She stopped beside the window. Behind her head clouds skidded across a green patch of sky.

"It's cold this morning," he heard his voice say.

"I'm afraid we'll have a thaw before the day is out.... O, Wenny, I hate this wretched climate. Why aren't we all millionaires so that we could escape the Boston climate?"

"Why not escape?" The words stuck in his throat. You damn fool, pull yourself together, a little furious voice was saying in his head.

"Ah, the coffee's boiling over.... Wenny, run and fetch the milk and the paper, will you, please?"

He ran eagerly to the front door. The paper had a bitter diurnal smell that smacked of his father. Black and white, stuffy-looking like his father in black with his collar round backwards. He dropped the paper again and slammed the door.

"Here's the milk."

The kitchenette was full of velvety warm coffeesteam.

"Do you mean to say those awful people downstairs have stolen my Herald again?"

"I left it there. I want to talk ... I've got to talk to you, can't you see?"

"What's the matter?"

Her eyes were in his. He couldn't see her, only her eyes, grey like the sea.

"Well, Wenny, we must have breakfast first. Have you patched it up with your family?" The words were elaborately emotionless, clinking, rounded like the cups and saucers she was putting on the tray. He was out of the trembling husk of his body looking at himself, hating, out of her grey eyes. When she leaned to take the tray he could see a faint coppery down on her neck under the dressing gown. To kiss her there.

He let himself fall heavily into a chair. She set the tray on the little table by the window.

"One or two? Of course you want two, don't you, Wenny? What fun to breakfast like this, you and me."

Wenny took a gulp of coffee.

"For God's sake don't be so casual.... It's hideous." The coffee choked him. He coughed. "Nan, I'm crazy about you."

"Now, Wenny, you haven't come here so bright and early to make love to me," she said with a hurried, nervous laugh.

"Don't, Nan." He yanked at her hand.

"Wenny, you hurt me, you're spilling my coffee.... Look, are you drunk?"

"I swear to God I've never been so serious in my life."

"Hold your horses, Wenny boy, we are too old friends to carry on this way. It's too silly. Do talk sensibly."

"I've been holding myself in so long.... I can't do it any more. I'm going to live like a human being, do you understand, Nan? From this moment on you and I are going to live."

As he jumped to his feet his knee hit the table, bowling over the cream pitcher.

"O, the carpet, Wenny," said Nan in a whining little voice. "Have you no respect for my carpet?"

"Damn the carpet, Nan. I'm crazy about you. I want to kiss you."

He fell back into the chair and covered his face with his hands, his fingers writhed in his hair that was curly with sweat. Nan ran out into the kitchenette and was back with a cloth sopping up the white puddle of milk. She rubbed the carpet tensely as if everything depended on its being unspotted.

"Nan, I'm so sorry to give you all that trouble."

"You are such a little silly."

"O what can I do? Nan, for God's sake understand that I love you. I must have you love me."

He went towards her blind with his arms out. She put her hands roughly on his shoulders and shook him the way an angry school teacher shakes a child. Her voice was full of shrill hatred.

"Be quiet, I tell you. You shall be quiet."

"You mean you don't love me."

"Of course not, you little fool.... Please go away, it's my time to practice. I don't love anyone that way."

Her eyes were dilated and burning. The kimono had fallen from one shoulder and showed the beginning of the curve of a breast. Her long fingers dug into the flesh of his shoulder. His back was against the door.

"O this is fearful, Nan."

The hat in his hand, red gleam of varnish on the door closing behind him. Then stairs again, numbered doors, milk bottles, newspapers. He brushed against the elevator man, whose eyes rolled white in a black face, and through the glass door where climbed the letters of Swansea in reverse, and out into the grey street. As he crossed a truck nearly hit him. A man with a grease smudge on an unshaven cheek under a shiny visored cap leaned out snarling: "Wanter git kilt ye sonofabitch?"

Sure I want to git kilt, sure I want to git kilt.

... Wenny picked his way very carefully across a snowpile and sat hunched on a bench under a skinny tree. Anything to forget Nan, her ringing voice saying: Of course not, you little fool, the warm curve of her breast, the down in the hollow of her back under the green crepe. He beat against his forehead with his fists. O he'd go mad if he didn't stop thinking of her. Anything to stop thinking of her. Death to stop thinking of her, death a motortruck hurtling down the frozen street and a voice shrieking: Wanter git kilt ye sonofabitch, and hard blackness, eternal. To crawl into bed and draw the covers up to your chin and sleep. That's what it would be like to git kilt. No more agony of hands to touch, lips to kiss, so downy and warm it would be asleep in a bed of blackness.

The back of the bench was hard against the nape of his neck. He was shivering. He got to his feet. The sky had become overcast with dovecolored mackerel clouds that cast a violet gloom over the apartment houses and the etched trees and the rutted yellow slush of the street. Wenny tugged at his watchfob. The familiar round face, slender Roman numbers. God, only half past nine? How many hours ahead. He walked on numbly.

* * * *

"Some cold, aint it?" came a voice beside him. "Aint no time for keepin' the benches warm." Wenny turned his head. Beside him on the bench was a fellow without an overcoat of about his own age, a compact, snubnosed face with lips blue and a little trembling from the cold. It was afternoon; he was sitting on the Common.

"Of course it's cold," said Wenny testily. He was staring straight before him through the trees at the dark shapes of people and automobiles passing in front of the shopwindows, gay and glinting along Tremont Street. Like that his thoughts passed and repassed, miserable silhouettes against the shine and color of his memories. It hurt him to leave the mood of processional sadness he had slipped into at the end of dumb hours of walking. After a long silence the man at the other end of the bench continued in the same confidential tone.

"Aint no time for keeping the benches warm I can tell you.... Out of a job, are you?"

Wenny nodded.

"Up against it?"

Wenny got to his feet.

"I guess I'll walk along," he said.

"Mind if I walk with you?" said the young man jumping up and thrashing his arm about. "Bad onct you let yesself git cold this weather. You don't never git warm agin. Got a flop for the night?"

Wenny nodded. They started walking down the path.

"I aint yet. I'll git one though. It's too tumble cold out."

"Are you flat?"

"Like a buckwheat cake."

"I mean, haven't you any money?"

"Money!" Wenny's companion stopped in his tracks shaking with laughter. "Jumpin' jeeze, that's funny. That sure strikes me funny. Why I aint had a piece of change the size of your little finger for so damn long ..."

"How do you make out?"

"O, I make out fine, 'xceptin' when my luck goes back on me like today."

"Been in Boston long?"

"Nope. Tumbled in here 'bout three days ago from Albany. Too cold up there. I aint got the hang of it yet. Bum town, I'd say. Though you can't tell about a town till you learn it."

A rolled up newspaper lay on the path before them. The young man without an overcoat made a grab for it, shooting a skinny chapped forearm out of the frayed sleeve of his coat.

"Useful things, newspapers," he said as they walked on. Then he turned and looked at Wenny fixedly a minute. "Lost your job?... You aint bummed much, have you? Lost your job?"

"I've hardly been out of Boston."

They were rounding the dry basin of one of the ponds that was piled with muddy snow from the paths.

"Et today?"

"Of course.... Look, I've still got a couple of dollars. Suppose you come and have a drink with me. Say, what's your name?"

"The guys called me Whitey down where I come from. And say, if you want to set me up to something for Gawd's sake make it a hamburger steak. Honest, I aint et a thing since I been in Boston city."

"Gosh, come along. I'll take you to Jake's."

"Hell, it don't hurt you not to eat onct you git used to it. I kin go days without eatin' an' never notice it."

"Gee, I'm hungry too. I forgot to eat any lunch."

In the German restaurant there was a thick smell of beer and fat wurst and sawdust. Whitey took off his cap exposing a closely cropped tow head and sat stiffly on the shiny reddish wooden bench. Wenny ordered beer and hamburger and potatoes of a fat-faced waiter who looked from one to the other out of suspicious pig eyes.

"Gee, you're treatin' me white. I guess you're millionaire on the loose."

"I wish I was," said Wenny laughing. "No, I just had a fight with my father."

"Like me when I left home."

"How long have you been bumming round like this?"

"'Bout a year an a half."

"Where do you come from?"

"Perkinville, a little jerkwater town back in South Dakota."

"Good beer, isn't it?"

"I'll tell the world it is.... So you had a fallin' out with the old man, did ye too?"

"I sure did."

"Did he trun a flatiron after you?"

"No," said Wenny laughing, his mouth full of potato.

"Mine did. A red hot one too."

"How did it happen?"

"O, I dunno. Things was pretty rough round our shack anyway. I used to run away for a week at a time an' stay with some guys I knew an' the old man kep' sayin' how's I ought to be workin' to support the family an' all that. He wasn't workin' but he always wanted us kids to work.... An' I come home one night feelin' top notch with a couple of drinks in me. We'd all been down the line, an' I was tellin' myself how I was goin' to lay off that stuff an' hold down a job. An' just as I gits to the house I hears em hollerin' blue murder.... Ma took in washin' an' used to do the ironin' in the evenin's.... Well, I looked through the kitchen winder and, jeeze, there was Ma and the old man chasin' her around the kitchen with the ironin' board an' beatin' at her with it, an' there was a tub full o' clothes to soak by the stove, and Ma just picked up that tub an' dumped it on the old man's head sayin': Take that, ye dirty beast, an' ran out of the house. And, jeeze, I was mad at him... An' I runs in and tells him to quit beatin' up Ma, and he had the clothes all hangin' round his neck and the water pourin' off his neck. But he was roarin' drunk though; jeeze it'd a been funny if I hadn't been so scared. I always was scared of the old man. An' he stood up with his eyes all red lookin' at me scoldin' an' cursin' at him. Curse at yer father, you yellow-bellied bastard, he said. An' then he picked up two flatirons, red hot on the stove, an' came after me... Honest to Gawd, I couldn't move, I was so scared, like when you're scared in your sleep. All I could do—jeeze, I remember it clear as anything—was yell: They're red hot, they're red hot. One of 'em went through the winder with an awful noise an' I ran out of the house and used my legs till I fell down cryin' on the side of the road a mile out o' town.... I jumped a freight an' went to Milwaukee, an' I aint been back since. I'm goin' though in about a year an' plant myself among the weeds. This aint no life for a white man."

"What about girls?"

"O, they don't bother me. I get it now and then. But I don't miss it."

"It bothers me."

"What I like is goin' round to new towns, hoppin' freights an' all that. Jeeze, I been some places in the last year. I've worked in Akron an' Cleveland, an' Chicago, an' Atlanta, Georgia. If I'd had the sense to stay down south I wouldn't be freezin' to death at this minute.... An' Tallahassee an' Key West. I passed up a chance to go to Havana. 'Count the lingo. An' Galveston an' South Bend an' Topeka an' Pittsburgh. That's where they pick you up an' put you on the stone crushers. An' Duluth an' Cairo an' Albany an' New Orleans. Ought to see them high yallers down there if you're stuck on girls. I didn't get to the coast but I was in New York and Philly...."

"Have some more beer?"

"No... Jeeze, I'm talkin' too much, I guess."

"Hell no, I like to hear you."

"Well, I'll beat it this time. Got to meet a friend o' mine on the Common.... See you some time."

He pulled his cap over his eyes, put up his collar and slouched out the door. Wenny sat sipping his beer. He wished Whitey had not gone. His mind was fearfully empty and dark. Why couldn't I do that, bum from town to town? That's the worst that can happen to me anyway, and that sounds fun. That way I can forget her and all this life. Start afresh as if I had just been born. He got to his feet firmly, put his two dollars down beside the cheque and walked out into the street. A sudden wild elation had seized him. He hadn't a cent in the world. What should he do now, reborn without a cent?

It was already dark. The wind made his cheeks tingle. Of course he knew what to do. He'd pawn his watch. Down the street a little way three gold balls glinted above a show window in the full glare of an arclight.

* * * *

His forehead and eyes in the carmine ring of a Ward 8 becoming oval as he tipped it to his mouth, half a slice of orange bobbing in the midst of it, the lemony claret taste in his mouth and excitement shooting in hot and cold shivers through his blood. Opposite a girl's face, cheeks firm under powder giving way suddenly in loose purplish skin under the eyes, hair fuzzy and yellow. Beyond, through blue arabesques of tobacco smoke, tops of instruments from the orchestra playing Goodby, Girls I'm Through, a chromo of George Washington in a gold frame hung with a festoon of red frilled paper. In his mind muddled the towns Whitey had told him about, Akron and Cleveland and Chicago and Atlanta, Georgia, and Tallahassee and Key West, and Fanshaw's delicately intoned voice saying: Like beautiful leanfaced people of the Renaissance lost in their vermillion barge.... Ellen wasn't leanfaced; plump cheeks, plump breasts. He was living now. Now he'd forget how his father looked with his collar round backwards, he'd forget Nan with Ellen, realer than old fool Fanshaw's vermillion barge.

"You're one of these college boys, aren't you, dear?"

Her tired fingers, overwhite, played nervously with a cigarette box on the table.


"Cause you keep askin' me my life history. I'm not a fiction magazine. Tellin' stories isn't in my line, see?"

"I'm sort of interested in people's life histories today, Ellen. I'm just beginning mine."

"I knew I was robbin' the cradle," she said, and laughed, showing to the gums a set of teeth like the teeth in a dentist's showcase. "But I didn't know it was that bad."

Wenny felt himself blushing. He took another long drink of the Ward 8. Leanfaced people of the Renaissance with falcons on their wrists, quoting Greek in bed with their great-limbed rosy lemans, riding days over parched hills to find the yellow, half-obliterated parchment that once spelled out would resolve the festering chaos of the world into radiant Elysian order. Whitey loafing on street corners in New Orleans watching the high yallers drive by in barouches. By God, I must live all that.

"Ever been abroad, Ellen?"

"The Fall River boat's about the biggest liner I ever took."

"Waiter, two more Ward 8's."

"Make mine a ginger ale highball, kiddo."

Silly, this blather of the Renaissance, ham actors mouthing To be or not to be... Like Whitey, that was better. But first I'll have to be so girls don't bother me. Shall I go home with her? I wish she was better looking. He wouldn't care how she looked.... I get it now and then, but I don't miss it. And Nan; is Nan just girls bothering me?

"You're blue this evenin', kiddo, ain't they treatin' you right? Tell it to mommer."

Wenny jerked his chair round and put an arm round her waist. Her head sank on his shoulder. Smell of her hair, what was the perfume she used? Rouge too, sweetish fatty smell of rouge from her lips. She beads her eyes. His hand touched her breast limp under her bodice. Firm Nan's breasts would have been. This morning how he had wanted to put his hands on Nan's firm breasts and kiss her. Don't think of it. When I am sated I will forget Nan, everything. He kissed her lips. Her eyes were bored unfired between their beaded lashes.

"Look out, kiddo, don't get too close. This is a respectable joint. I doan wanter get in wrong here."

Wenny seemed to stand apart from this body of his touching the girl's body, to look at it critically through the tobacco smoke as if from the bleary eyes of the chromo of Washington. And when he is sated, his voice seemed to say, when his flesh has grown very cold he'll be like Whitey, going round to new towns, walking down roads, hopping freights: Tallahassee and South Bend and Havana and Paris and Helsingfors and Khiva and Budapest and Khorasan ... riding over more parched hills than the leanfaced people of the Renaissance rode over, in search of words, of old gods' names more powerful than any they ever dreamed of. Under the table his hand was on her thigh. His heart was pounding.

"What do you think about when you're blue, Ellen?"

"Me? I don't think when I'm blue. I drink."

At the next table a man with three chins whose bald head swayed from side to side was trying to stroke with a puffy ringed hand the arm of the redhaired girl opposite him. A waiter hovered over them threateningly. The room was swinging round in smooth spirals to the sound of The Blue Danube from the orchestra.

Wenny's heart was pounding. His hands were cold. Afraid, are you? a voice sneered in his head. To live you can be afraid of nothing. The Greeks were not afraid. The lean-faced men were not afraid. By god they were. Men flagellated themselves round the altar of Apollo on Delos. They recanted on their deathbeds and stuck their tongues out eagerly for the wafer. And can David Wendell, silly little Wenny, son of a minister with his collar on backwards, can I conquer fear. I must. Her flesh was hot under his hand.

"Let's go, Ellen. Where do you live?"

"Aint so far from here. I'll show you. I got a swell room."

The wind blew cold down streets of blank windows. At the corner she slipped on a frozen puddle.

"Oopsidaisy!" He caught her with a laugh.

"Jeeze, I wrenched my ankle..." She drew the breath in sharply through her teeth. "Hell of a note... Say, kiddo, got plenty of jack?"

"I've got enough."

"I'll treat you nice, honest I will. I like you, real pash. Make it twenty, will you? A buck don't go far nowadays. Make it twenty, kiddo."

"I don't think I can give you as much as that. I'm broke."

Nan this morning in her green kimono shaking him, her long fingers digging into his shoulders. O, I must forget her.

"Not often you can get a girl like me, deary. I'm mighty careful...

"Don't worry, I'll give you all I've got."

They passed a Chinaman in a fur coat standing under an arclight.

Nan, I hate you. Nan, I'll kill you out of my mind. Tomorrow when I've killed you utterly, I'll begin to live.

They stopped at a red brick house with a sign Furnished Rooms in the window. The key was in the door, clicked; the door opened. Dim gaslight in the hall.

Whitey had said: O, they don't bother me.

I get it now and then, but I don't miss it. I'll be like that tomorrow.

The carpet on the stairs had big roses on green; it was frayed and torn. The stairs creaked. The house smelt mustily of rotting wallpaper, of ratnests.

"Here we are, deary... Aint bad, is it. Wait a sec, I'll light up."

Nan, you are beaten, dead. Must not is dead too. Wenny's legs were trembling. His tongue moved about in his mouth like a thirsty dog's. He dropped into a chair by the door. Nan, God, how I love you, Nan.

"Tired are you, deary? D'you know you look powerful like a guy I had a crush on wonct. Near croaked of it, honest... You see, for all I could do he wouldn't give it to me... Kerist, I'm glad that's over. Worse than a spell of sickness..."

To be free of this sickness of desire. I must break down my fear. Of what, of what? The social evil, prostitutions of the Caananites, venereal disease, what every young man should know, convention, duty, God. What rot.

"You get into bed, deary... I must fix my hair. Sheets are nice and clean, see. I always have clean sheets on my bed... Maybe you'll come to see me often now. Safer, I'm tellin' ye to go to one girl steady. You know what you're gettin' then... Pretty, ain't it, this chimmy? Got it at Filene's in the bargain basement..."

He was standing against the door crumpling his felt hat in his hands. He tried to speak; no words came.

She was naked sitting on the edge of the bed under the gas jet, eyes wide and mocking; her breasts hung free as she leaned towards him. In his head was a ghastly sniggering. He was out the door.

She grabbed him by the wrist.

"No, you don't. I've had them kind before ... just want to peek an' run. Gimme somethin' or I'll raise the roof, you low-down sonofabitch of a cheap skate you."

"Here, take that, it's all I've got."

He piled crumpled greenbacks in her hands. A half-dollar fell to the floor. She stooped, naked, groping for it.

He rushed down the stairs, slammed the door, out into the icy glare of the arclight in the street. Coward, the word was like a pack of hounds screaming about his ears, yelping, tearing. This is what you've done to me, Nan. Tomorrow was colonnades of stage scenery tumbling about his ears. Through it he was fainting with desire for the woman's body naked on the bed under the gas jet. Nan's eyes, sea-grey, drowning him, the smell of her hair. He leaned against a lamp post and stared with stinging eyes down the empty darkness of the street.


On Fanshaw's desk was a large white envelope and within that envelope another envelope which contained engraved cards faced with tissuepaper. Fanshaw pulled off the tissuepaper and ran the nail of his little finger lightly across the lettering.

Mr. and Mrs. Heaton W. Harrenden
Announce the Marriage of their Daughter
to Mr. Chamberlain C. Mason
at Twelve O'clock, Noon,
February Fifteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Twelve
at Harrenden Manor, Durham, Massachusetts.

Then there was a little card

For the accommodation of guests a special train will leave the North Station, Boston, at eleven fifteen, returning from Durham at five thirty.

And another little card

Mr. and Mrs. Heaton K. Harrenden request the pleasure of your company at the wedding breakfast at two o'clock, February Fifteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Twelve, at Harrenden Manor.

A letter from Cham had been tucked in:

Dear Fanshaw: You've got to come. Mrs. Harrenden says she wants an old-fashioned wedding, but Allie and I are going to try to pep it up a bit.

Yours, Cham.

Let's see, Fanshaw was thinking, what ought one to wear at a noon wedding? Noon. The time Cham and I took those two chorus girls canoeing at Norumbega Park, the mudsmell of the river.... And now Cham's marrying an heiress. Harrenden's Snowflake Meal. Like telegraph poles from the train the years slip by, so fast and nothing to catch hold of. Ought I to get a cutaway?

Through the coal smoke that gripped his throat Fanshaw caught a whiff of roses. A girl in a mink coat with a large bunch of pink roses at her waist had just brushed past him. She must be going to the wedding too, he thought, and started walking in the direction she had gone, following with his eyes the signs that announced the trains: Portland Express, North Shore Local....

"Hello, Macdougan, where the hell are you going?"

"I'm going to a wedding. What are you doing here this time of day, Henley?"

"I'm off to a wedding too." Henley had a booming voice; he was a tall dark man with a moustache, thickwaisted.

"Cham Mason's wedding?"

"Sure.... I didn't know that dignified people like you went in for weddings."

"I don't often, Henley.... But I roomed with Cham Mason when we were freshmen."

"Frankly, Macdougan, I find weddings of great anthropological interest.... Savage survivals."

They were in a crowd of very dressed people passing through a gate in the end platform, all about them fur coats, flowers, fuzzy hats, bright shoes. "O, how do you do, Mrs. Glendinning! Yes, dreadfully cold. Why everybody anyone ever knew in the world is here? No, those are the Pittsburgh people. Imagine having a special train. Yes, those are the Harrison-Smiths, my dear."

"Say, Macdougan, suppose we get in the smoker where we can chat quietly," whispered Henley fitting his derby back on his head. "This is too much of a good thing.... There's something so prurient about women at an affair like this."

"After all a wedding.... Go ahead."

"Why they are parlor cars.... Here we are.... Is the only piece of straight sex-ceremonial left to us."

"How's that?"

"The ring, my dear fellow, the ring.... What could be more of a symbol than a ring? Why, among the aborigines of the Caribbean ..."

"Why, look who's here?... Why, this is a class reunion, boys." A red, round face topped by straight black hair slicked across a bald forehead was poked in the door. "You remember me, don't you, Henley?"

"Sure I do, Randall. I haven't seen you since our last class day. How are you?... As I was saying, Macdougan, among the aborigines of the Caribbean ..."

"I think I'll join you fellers if you don't mind. Gee, it's great isn't it, that old Cham is gettin' hitched?"

"That depends...."

"Not if you know the bride," Randall hitched up his blue serge trousers and let himself sink down broadly on to the leather seat. "Ah ... A lovely, sweet girl."

"Yes, I know her," said Fanshaw frostily. He turned and looked out at the empty windows of the train on the next track. Through them he could see more windows, people sitting in a parlor car. There came a toot from the engine and the empty windows and the windows with people in them began to glide past. The seat rumbled; the train was moving, smoke cut out the view, cleared to reveal bridges and black water over which gulls veered screaming. Five gulls on the edge of a cake of ice.

A leather case of cigars was poked under his nose. "Thanks, I never smoke cigars." Fanshaw kept his face turned to the window, letting Henley talk to this Randall-man.

"Yes," he was saying with a heavy laugh, "I been to some mighty funny weddings."

"I never miss one when I can help it."

"There was a wedding down in Philadelphia I once went to where the groom passed out before the ceremony. That was a funny wedding."

"What was the matter?"

"Dry Martinis, that's all. We had to put him under the showerbath to bring him around enough to stagger up the aisle.... He got mixed up and tried to lead one of the bridesmaids up to the altar. It was a barrel of monkeys, that wedding was...."

Fanshaw was looking out at the bare trees and the rows of grey suburban houses. The smoke from the engine unrolled dense and white across the landscape against a leaden sky. Above the grinding rumble of wheels he could hear the two men talking beside him.

"I saw a man drop down stone dead at the altar once."

"You don't say."

"Dreadful thing... Heart failure it was that did it. The bride had just said about love, honor, and obey, when the fellow began to stagger around. When they picked him up he was dead. A good chap too, important in the Elks and secretary of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. It was a great shock to everyone. Marrying the girl he was going to marry had been thought the crowning success of his career."

"Funny time of year to have a country wedding, isn't it?"

Fanshaw turned laughing from the window.

"Most eccentric... Why, everything's full of hoar-frost."

When the train reached Durham station the sun was shining palely. The cars exuded furs and orchids and derby hats and canes from either end. Outside the station several limousines and taxicabs were lined up waiting for the guests, and in front of them, pacing up and down the platform with the stationmaster, was a tall sallow man in a silk hat and a frock coat of which the straight line was broken in front by a sudden little pot belly that looked like a football tucked in under his vest.

"That's Mr. Harrenden," said Henley. "Let's walk up to the house to avoid the rush... Gosh, look at that feather. I bet she's one of the Pittsburghers."

"In full warpaint too," said Fanshaw tittering.

"How do you do, Mr. Harrenden?"

"Howdy, boys... Glad to see you. Step right into one of those cars, or perhaps you'ld rather walk. Leave more room for the lovely ladies... See you up at the house... Why, how do you do, Mrs. Harrison-Smith?"

"Come on, Macdougan," said Henley. Fanshaw followed him through the station. They walked briskly through the main street of the town, past a row of new concrete stores, and out along a macadam road that crunched frostily underfoot. Now and then a limousine full of guests passed them.

"It's only half a mile and we have plenty of time."

"Do you know Miss Harrenden, Henley?"

"Very well... Why, I almost wanted to marry her myself at one time. She's a very lively young person."

Fanshaw glanced at him furtively out of the corners of his eyes. Henley had flushed red.

"Cold, the wind, isn't it?" Fanshaw said after a pause and turned up the velvet collar of his coat with a gloved hand.

"Extraordinary study a wedding is from the point of view of psychoanalysis."

"How do you mean?"

"Everybody gets a certain vicarious satisfaction out of it, don't you think so?"

"You mean the culmination of a romance? That sort of thing...?"

"I mean out of the two nice young things going off to bed together... The rest of it is just sublimation."

"I don't think that's altogether true... I think romance much more about how they are going to buy furniture and found a home and have new visiting cards printed."

"Sublimation all of it. Look how excited all those overdressed women are?"

"Just because they are going to a party and meeting their friends and trying to look their best... I don't agree with the Freudian emphasis on the lowest in our natures. I don't think it's a good thing... Anyway civilized people don't let themselves think about those subjects."

"That's what I'm saying... But what they think is just a veneer. Underneath our conscious thoughts and taboos we are over-sexed and anthropophagous savages."

They were walking up a drive bordered by barberry bushes of which the berries stood out scarlet over the greybrown lawn. They scraped the soles of their shoes against the scraper beside the door on the semicircular Colonial porch and found themselves being divested of their hats and overcoats by a maid who gave them numbered checks in return. Then clearing their throats slightly, smoothing the tails of their cutaways with one hand, they advanced up the hall to where in a black and silver dress with a tinsel Egyptian shawl over her shoulders stood Mrs. Harrenden smiling and pyramidal.

"Dick Henley, I haven't seen you for years. We must find time to have a chat... How do you do Mr... Mr..."


"Of course... You'll find the young people right upstairs in the library... I suppose you still are classed among the young people, Dick. All seems mere children to me at any rate... You will help me to make an oldfashioned jolly wedding of it, won't you? It's not a social affair at all. No one is invited but a few indispensable, intimate friends. So vulgar these great society weddings... So much nicer to have only a few intimate friends..."

With a silky swish Mrs. Harrenden stalked towards the door which was encumbered by a new car full of guests.

At the top of the brown-carpeted stairs they ran suddenly into Cham Mason who was crawling on his hands and knees across the upper hall.

"Hello, Cham."

"Why, if it isn't Fanshaw... Look, for crissake, help me... Susie Beveridge has broken her string of pearls. We're looking for them because with all these strange people... How do you do, Henley? I hadn't seen you." He got to his feet unsteadily and rubbed his hand across his closecropped yellow hair. "Gosh, I'm tight as a tick... Come into the library and have a cocktail... I got to have a lil' sip to sober me."

"I thought you were looking for the wedding ring," said Henley.

"Right after a lil' sip to sober up we mus' look for pearls again. Two of 'em rolled into the hall."

They followed Cham into the library, a great wainscoted room dense with the sweetness of the yellow mimosa that stood in pots in the fireplace. A group of girls and young men stood round a brass smoking table on which was a shaker and a great array of cocktail glasses shining in the grey light that poured in through a broad window. In a morrischair sat a fatfaced girl, her eyes brimmed with tears holding a lot of various sized pearls in her cupped hands.

"Count them again, Susie.... Maybe you've got them all," somebody said.

"Have a lil' cocktail with us and then we'll all look an we won't stop looking till we find every last one of 'em."

"But it's time, Cham," whined the girl in the morrischair.

"Well, where's Allie? I'm ready.... Here's looking at you, Fanshaw."

"Brush off your knees, they're all over dust.... I hear the orchestra tuning up. Come along, everybody."

"For God's sake, don't anybody get me started laughing," said Cham straightening himself up and goosestepping stiffly towards the door.

"Come on, Cham, they are waiting," said in a voice staccato with excitement a little grey-haired grey faced man in a frock coat too long for him who appeared in the door.

"All right, Dad, I'm coming.... But, where's Allie? I refuse to be married without Allie."

Fanshaw drank down his cocktail and followed. Behind him he heard a voice still whining, "I don't know where to put my pearls." He pulled the door to and started down the stairs beside a black toque with a cockade like a Westpointer's in it.

"My," the girl was saying, "You should have seen the rehearsal of the ceremony this morning. It was a scream. Everybody got the giggles so we couldn't go on."

"Sh-sh," went someone. Everything was quiet but for the rustle of dresses, an occasional cough or a sound of creaky tiptoeing. They were packed into a long drawing room down the middle of which an aisle had been made by a row of little orange trees in pots. Fanshaw flattened himself against the wall beside a picture that he was in constant fear of knocking down. The string orchestra grouped about the piano in the far corner behind the palms struck up. Everybody craned their necks.

"That's the overture," whispered someone.

"What, deary?" came in broken elderly tones.

"The overture, Mother,... Beethoven."

"Ah, Beethoven."


The overture stopped. In the silence feverish whispering was heard in the hall and a man's voice loud and angry: "And for Heaven's sake don't forget which pocket it's in."


The orchestra was playing Mendelssohn's Wedding March. Fanshaw could see the heads of people moving two by two up the aisle to the end of the room where the minister stood with a purple stole round his neck. The bride and groom were hidden by an orange tree but he could see the backs of the bridesmaids in peachcolored silk and a shimmer of orange tulle on their hats, and the light shining on Mr. Harrenden's bald head. A sneeze across the room was stifled in a handkerchief. There was some coughing in the wedding party and the minister began to read the service in a chanting nasal tone. Fanshaw was breathing deep of a heavy lemonsweet smell... Must be orange blossoms.

* * * *

The table stretched long and white in both directions, bordered by faces, black coats, bright colored hats. The shine of silver and plates and champagne glasses was blurred by cake crumbs, rind of fruit, nutshells, napkins.

Gracious, have I had too much to drink? the thought streaked across the shimmer of Fanshaw's brain and the sound of voices and the smell of food. He was half turned round in his chair, talking rapidly and smoothly, in spite of the fact that his tongue felt bigger than usual, to the girl next to him who wore a pink dress and kept laughing and laughing.

"Cultivated people in this generation," he was saying, "Are like foreigners who suddenly find themselves in a country whose language they do not know, whose institutions they do not understand, like people in one of those great state barges the Venetians had, that Canaletto drew so well..."

"Isn't this wedding a scream," said the girl in pink, laughing and laughing. "I've never been to such a nice wedding as this and this is my fourth already this winter... If a winter wedding's like this, what would a spring wedding be like? Aren't they just too lovely together? I think Chamberlain's awfully good-looking, don't you?"

They were standing up, moving into another room, bright dresses and black coats jamming the doorway. Fanshaw found himself sitting alone in a deep armchair smoking a cigar. What he needed was some coffee, he was saying to himself. After an oldfashioned jolly wedding he needed coffee. He got to his feet and walked with care and deliberation to the table where the coffee service was. My, things were happening fast. Careful, he must be careful. There was no one in the room but a short pudgy man in a grey suit who was drinking a whiskey and soda, shaking the glass meditatively between every sip.

"Where have they all gone?" asked Fanshaw querulously.

"Getting out the Stutz, I guess."

"How's that?" Fanshaw gulped some coffee.

"Didn't you know that the young couple were going on their honeymoon in the big red Stutz Harrenden gave them? An elegantly matched pair."

"Cham and I roomed together, Freshman year in college," Fanshaw found himself saying.

"Ah, College! That's the place to make connections."

They stood looking at each other nodding their heads knowingly, Fanshaw with his coffeecup, the pudgy man with his highball glass, when the sound of a racing motor attracted their attention. It was followed by a shout from the front of the house. Fanshaw went to the window and pulled back the curtain. The guests cheering and laughing filled the colonial porch and surged round a shaking roadster in the drive. Fanshaw caught a glimpse of Alice Harrenden's pale face under a little brown hat and veil as she climbed into the car. Her eyes were swollen and her lips tight as if she were going to cry. Cham waved a buff cap and opened the cutout. Rice hailed on the car. An old sneaker hit Cham in the head. He honked the horn, bent over the wheel and the car shot around the bend of the driveway. People looked at each other constrainedly and began going back into the house.

Somewhere quiet till this passes off, Fanshaw was thinking. He made his way back through the house and out into the garden. Why, I'm staggering down the path. Mucky underfoot from the thaw. Bench to sit on. Dry bench. He leaned back and stared up at the streaming greypurple clouds that brightened to yellow in spots where a little sun broke through. Oughtn't to have drunk so much champagne. After all, if no one noticed... Jolly thing an oldfashioned jolly wedding. My wedding. The Macdougan wedding. If it could be Nan. But Wenny... No, no. Someone I've not met yet. Perhaps she'd have red hair, auburn hair, a Titian blonde. Aretino had to flee Venice when he was accused of sodomy. He had eight beautiful mistresses in a great palace on the Grand Canal. And I've never had a woman. Wedding parties, fellows phoning easy girls, through all that lonely as a cloud. Horrible coward, I guess. That night walking with Wenny along the road to Blue Hill couples of girls wanting to be picked up, their eyes under the arclight clicking into ours. Hullo, kiddo. Hello, cutie. But Wenny, that sort of thing just isn't done. Danger of exposure too, scandal, disease. And the street through Somerville dark under the May-rustling trees, pink blobs of arclights and the shuddering green fringes of foliage about them and the hips, the wabbly hips of stumpy girls. When walking, when welldressed people walked, thinking of the Renaissance, of distant splendid things, all this surged about them out of the long streets of night. Festering web of desire, grimy probing hands, groping eyes, toughs and hard girls circling like dogs before a fight. Wrestling sweaty bodies, hands palping, feeling, feeling up.... O, I don't want to think of all that. Oldfashioned jolly wedding. Pull yourself together.

Fanshaw sat with his head buried in his hands, his elbows on his knees, staring at the gravel between his feet. After a while he got up, cold and stiff. The dazzle of the champagne had passed off. The orchestra in the house was playing a foxtrot. Probably caught a cold sitting out here like an idiot. He walked meditatively towards the conservatory, scraped his feet off on the mat and stepped in. The warm sugary air was soothing after the rawness of outdoors. He stood a long while looking at the little sprouts that had formed at the tips of the fronds of a big Australian fern. The door at the end of the conservatory opened letting in a burst of ragtime from the drawing room, voices, sliding of feet on a hardwood floor. All of a sudden he wanted to go away to be walking by himself down the road to the station. He went out into the garden again for fear someone should see him and speak to him. He'd slip away without saying goodby. Such a crowd no one could possibly notice. Groping in his pocket for his coatcheck he went round the house towards the front door. In an embrasure beside a fieldstone chimney was a trellised bench, on the bench a hat of orange tulle, beside the hat a fluffy peachcolored dress, a flushed face thrown back, a long lock of undone hair curling spikily over a shoulder, and stooped about her, half holding her up, a young man in a black suit. Her eyes were closed, his face crushed into hers. One hand gripped the young man hard like a claw by the elbow. Fanshaw stood a moment breathless staring at them. Then he walked off fast with the blood throbbing in his ears.

On the way to the station he kept thinking: And the years slip by like telegraph poles past you in the train and people marry and spoon on benches and I'm always, alone, moral, refined, restrained. If I were only made like Wenny, I'd enjoy life. Disgusting, though, out in the open like that where anybody could see, worse than factory hands at Norumbega.

One must try to be beautiful about life.


Drops fell shining from the trees about him into the trodden yellow slush of the path at his feet. In the air shuddering with the foretaste of spring of the thaw were constant rainbow glints of water. Wenny's knees and shoulders ached. His feet were swollen from frostbite. The bristles on his chin rasped against the upturned collar of his coat. Well, it would be spring soon, he was saying to himself, and this spring... Fanshaw's grey raincoat and long meditative stride and his rubbers flashed past among the Saturday afternoon crowd. Without thinking Wenny ran after him.

"Hello, Fanshaw."

"O, Wenny," Fanshaw thrust out both hands; "I've been almost worried sick about you. Where have you been? My dear boy, you look a wreck."

"I don't see why?"

"Here it is, three days you've vanished from the face of the earth."

"I haven't been anywhere else that I know of."

"Nan's been fearfully uneasy."

"That's funny."

"That's quite all right. She told me all about it. I told her it was just nerves, that morning. She thought it was, too. You must take better care of yourself. But Wenny, where have you been?"

"Looking for a job."

"You poor child! Look, I've got to go to the Touraine. We can wash up and go up to Nan's. She said she'd be in at teatime."

"No, I'd rather not."

"You must come, Wenny. O, when will you grow up? Let's walk along, we're obstructing traffic."

"First, you must lend me fifty cents," said Wenny with a dry little laugh. "I'm most split with hunger."

"Can't you wait till we get out to Nan's? She'll have tea for us."

"No, I can't, Fanshaw, you old fool. I haven't eaten since yesterday morning, or maybe it was the day before that."

"Good God! There's Dupont's opposite. Let's go up there, a horrid place, but you won't mind eating something there, will you? But Wenny, why didn't you tell me you were all out of money?"

As they climbed the stair a smell of food and baking powder filled Wenny's nostrils. He inhaled it eagerly. In the restaurant it was very stuffy, a couple of waitresses in starched aprons were sitting at tables. A grimy man in his shirtsleeves carried in a tray of freshwashed glasses in through a green baize door. As Wenny pulled off his overcoat he thought he was going to faint. Letting the coat drop to the floor he grabbed the table and lowered himself into a chair. The expression of consternation on Fanshaw's face as he picked up the coat made him laugh so that his eyes filled with tears.

"Well, what will you have? Don't eat too much, it might make you sick."

"O, Fanshaw, you're such an old woman."

The waitress, a rawboned woman with dead cod's eyes, hung over the table threateningly.

"Bring me some boiled eggs and tea and toast right away, please." Something in Wenny exulted strangely under the hostile glare of the waitress as she looked at his muddy shoes and unshaven chin.

"Three minutes?"

"Yes, and quickly please."

The waitress rustled starchily away.

"How funny Fanshaw, I'd been thinking of boiled eggs for hours and I never thought about their being three minutes."

"But, where have you been, you poor child?... I've been to Cham Mason's wedding."

"Heaps of wonderful places.... I've been finding my place in society."


"On the benches."

"But, why didn't you go to the Alumni Employment Bureau? They'd have found you a job."

"I didn't want that kind of a job."

The smell of the bread the waitress set before him was overpoweringly sweet. His fingers trembled so he spilt half the egg on the side of the glass breaking it. He ate hurriedly without tasting anything.

"Bring me two more eggs, please.... Lord, but tea is wonderful stuff." The warm savor of tea filled his head. All of a sudden he felt very talkative. "I tried to ship as a seaman. You stand in a large room full of pipesmoke and a man chalks up the names of ships on a blackboard.... The finest names of ships: there's been the Arethusa and the Adolphus Q. Bangs and the Heart's Desire and the Muskokacola or something like that.... But, I always seemed to get down to the office too late or I didn't have five dollars to give the mate or something. Didn't have much luck with bussboy either. It's amazing, Fanshaw, how many people are just crazy to wash dishes."

Wenny laughed and choked over a gulp of tea.

"Don't eat so fast," said Fanshaw in a strange hoarse voice.

"Why not?"

"You'll choke, that's why."

"God, I wish I would... Have you ever ... felt so's you didn't care if you choked or not? D'you know I met a fine kid named Whitey. He could go without eating three days an' never notice it. I could never do that. I don't guess there's much of any thing I could do."

Fanshaw was looking at his watch.

"Really, we should be going.... I've got to go out to dinner, Wenny, I wish there were something I could do to help."

"You can pay for my eggs, you old put you."

Fanshaw paid the cheque; then he said rather solemnly:

"Look, you must let me lend you some money."

"All right, give me five bucks."

At the door, Wenny waited a moment for Fanshaw to come from the washroom. His head was singing dizzily. It's all up now, he was saying to himself. He thought of his room and his bed; delicious it will be to stretch out between the clean smooth sheets and sleep.

Going up on the car he felt a haze of contentment stealing over him. All about people nodded to the joggle, hatchetfaced women and flabby jowled men. Fanshaw's talk and his own answers droned beyond a great drowsy curtain in which the phrase Par delicatesse j'ai perdu la vie, wove in and out endlessly. Outside autos slushed through streets running with the thaw. Fanshaw was saying something about the deceitful warmth of the day, spring-like.

In front of them, four seats ahead in a blue hat with cherries on it, was Ellen. Wenny clenched his teeth, why would his damn pulse speed up so? She turned and stared at him with a comical little expression about her mouth. He drew his eyes away quickly, felt himself hideously flushing.—You skunk afraid to recognize her because she's a whore, are you? Don't want Fanshaw to know, do you? snarled an angry voice in his head. Her lips were pale today. He remembered the sweetish fatty smell of the rouge on her lips that night. And only four nights ago; how long. He didn't dare look at her again.

The car stopped.

"Come on, Wenny," came Fanshaw's voice briskly.

They were splashing along towards the purple lacework of twigs of the Fenway trees. Fanshaw was talking unconcernedly about a Caravaggio the museum had bought that had turned out to be spurious. And there were the worn gold letters The Swansea sliding down the glass door and the oil smell of the elevator. O I must go away from here. Then Nan's oval face, her voice strangely caressing. Brainstorm, the comfortable word. Teacups clinking and the steam of the teapot and dusk very misty over the Fenway.

Why hadn't he gone away with Ellen, spoken to her, kissed her in front of Fanshaw. If she'd fallen in love with him it would have been up to the ears, the whole hog; those women were like that.

"You just missed Fitzie," Nan was saying. She had just poured herself out a cup of tea into which she shook meditatively a few drops of cream from the empty pitcher. "O she's such a scream... I don't know what I'd do without her. Now I know all the gossip and about the Summer Street murder case and everything... And do you remember the girl in the Fadettes we thought was the violinist at the Venice? Well, that wasn't the girl at all. Fitzie told me all about her... It seems she came back to try to get her job again and Mrs. Thing who runs it said of course it would be impossible. I don't see what her morals have to do with her playing, do you? And the poor girl's going to have a baby... Fitzie was so funny about it, said she thought it was terrible things like that should happen so soon... O what would I do without Fitzie?"

"But the fellow she went off with must be a scoundrel," said Fanshaw. "A man like that ought to be shot."

"She ought to have thought twice before she did it, that's all. It's not his fault particularly."

"And dry-rotted scraping out Light Cavalry for the Fadettes...." Wenny caught himself. No, he wasn't going to talk. Nan looked him full in the face for an instant. Her eyes were dark, dilated; he thought she was going to burst into tears.

"Such droll things have been going on at the Conservatoire." Nan, her face flushing, threw herself into a stream of talk. "Poor Isolda Jones is madly in love with Salinski and had hysterics during her violin lesson and there's a dreadful scandal about the last Symphony concert. It seems that..." She stopped talking. No one spoke. Fanshaw moved his spoon uneasily about in his saucer. "Wenny, have some more to eat," she said sharply and got to her feet and went to the window.

Wenny sat without moving, staring at her back dark and slender against the dusk.

"You must be dreadfully exhausted, Wenny," said Fanshaw in a low voice.

"The evening star's red tonight," said Nan from the window. "Is it on account of the mist, or is it Mars, I wonder?"

"We could look it up in the almanac," said Fanshaw vaguely.

Wenny stood for a moment in the window beside Nan. His blood throbbed with other remembered stars, blooming green in the amethyst sky above the Fenway, gulped suddenly by the stupid cubes of the further apartment houses. The green of them somehow shone in the lamps down brick streets where he and Nan had gone arm in arm in a forgotten dream of walking with her through a port town and seeing at the end of the street masts and tackle and bellying sails and white steam puffs from the sirens of steamers, and going off together alone some sunset. She's in love with me. If I had the courage....

"Well, I must be off to the Hargroves' for dinner," said Fanshaw cheerfully. "O it is a relief to know you are all right, Wenny. We were worried sick about you."

"I'm tired. I must go home," said Wenny firmly and turned away from Nan.

He went away without looking at her again.

* * * *

My dear son:

It has pleased me more than I can say to hear of your sensible and manly course in taking a job. I am sure that earning your own living you will find inspiring and helpful, and that you will come to regret your past callousness and restlessness. Indeed, this great trial may be a disguised blessing. We all have to learn by experience. I myself went through moments in my youth inexpressibly painful for me to recall, bitter moments of profligacy and despair, and that I came through them with my soul alive was only by the merciful Help of the Allknowing and Allforgiving Creator in Whom I have never lost faith, nay not for one instant.

You, my dear boy, I trust and pray will follow the same course. I cannot but think that had I not let my poor sister Elizabeth take you from us, from your real Christian home, your battle might have been less hard.

Your mother joins me in love and in the earnest hope that you will come back to us.

Your loving father,


Wenny folded the letter and put it back in his pocket. This was the third time he had read it. He gulped the rest of his coffee and left the lunchroom full of hurried breakfasters. Outside the east wind stung his face, made his eyes water.

Then it was March. Now it's April. Last time I told myself I'd kill myself if I stuck it another month. In September that was and in February and now it's April. The music of the spheres makes the months revolve... Think you fool, think. Bitter moments of profligacy and despair. That's me all right, except he got the profligacy and I get the despair. Go whoring and repent and yours is the kingdom of God. A fine system all right but he repented so damn hard he spoiled my chances. Like being a eunuch, funny that, a generation of eunuchs. Your sensible and manly course in taking a job wasting breath coaching Mr. Lelan's dubs, accounted quite a genius at it too. Inspiring and helpful. God! Poor Auntie's education. That's what it's done to me; and next winter teaching, helping to inoculate other poor devils with the same dry rot.

He was walking out along Massachusetts Avenue broad and dusty through the little jigsawed houses of Somerville. In was a bitter slategrey day of razorcold wind. In the irritation of his mood he took joy in the dust smarting in his eyes and the ache of the cold in his forehead. Gradually his thoughts faded under the regular beat of his steps. It was Sunday and church bells had begun to ring. Gee, I must go home or I'll be getting blue again, he said to himself; the biddy 'll have done the room. He walked back towards Cambridge without thinking of anything, shivering, his hands deep in his pockets. When he had slammed the door behind him he threw himself on the bed, his cheeks throbbing from the wind, and lay a long while staring blankly at the ceiling.

He looked at his watch. Ten-thirty. Now he's waiting while they sing the first hymn, fiddling with his prayerbook, wondering if he's forgotten any of the main headings of the sermon. And I'm just like him. Less energy that's all. A chip of the old block. Listen to them settling back flabbily into their pews in the mustard yellow, mudpurple, niggerpink light from the imitation stained glass windows. Now they're on their feet again, better than trained seals. His voice so suave so booming—my voice will be like that—Let us pray.

Wenny sat up on the edge of the bed. God damn my father; I will live him down if it kills me.

He started turning over the pages of the books on his table, seeking escape in their familiar chattering type, in the accustomedness of their smell from the eating acid of his thoughts.

* * * *

Outside of Herb Roscoe's door, Wenny was struck by the usual faint smell of oiled leather and pipesmoke. A tall man in a grey flannel shirt with face and neck and forearms lean and very tanned, opened the door slowly to his knock.

"How's the armory?" said Wenny.

"Pretty good. How's yourself?" said Roscoe in a deep drawling voice. "Sit down." As he spoke he swept a pile of books off the arms of the morrischair. Then he stood in the fireplace, where a pair of high leather moccasins were to soak in a pan of oil, polishing a rifle while he talked. "Gee, you should have seen the scores we made at rifle practice yesterday. Not a soul could hit a barn door. I think we'll have the rottenest damn team... God, I hate this place."

"So do I," said Wenny, lying back in the chair with his eyes half closed.

"Why don't you get out of it. I'm goin' the very minute I get my degree like a flash o' lightnin'."

"Haven't got the energy."

"Hell, man, it don't take much energy to buy a railroad ticket."

"Doesn't it?"

"How's your soft job?"

"I'm going to chuck it soon. I think I'll go to Mexico with you Herb."

"All right, come along. Better learn to shoot though."

"I've had another letter from my father."

"How's he now?"

"Tickled to death."

"Well, that's damn good. I'm damn glad to hear it. You know you oughtn't to be so highbrow about your father. I imagine he's a damn good scout." Roscoe put the rifle up on the rack over the mantel and began to fill a pipe slowly and methodically. "D'you know, I think all this father and son agitation is foolishness, Wendell. You are like your father, we all are, so why fuss about it? Nobody's forcin' you to live with him. But I wouldn't stay on round here. It isn't healthy for you, seeing how you feel about it. I wouldn't stay myself, except for the library."

Roscoe walked back and forth in front of the fireplace as he talked with the soft, lithe steps of a man trying to walk noiselessly through woods.

"Say, Herb, will you lend me that little .22 revolver of yours for a day or two?"

"What do you want with it? You aren't going to shoot up the dean of the Graduate School with it, are you?"

"No, no," said Wenny laughing a little shrilly. "It's curious ... I'd like to carry a gun for a day or two ... In the first place I've never done it, and the thought of death in my back pocket makes me a little nervous, and I'd like to try my nerve out, and then I just might need it ... I'll tell you why ... I'm going in for low life a little. Heavy slumming ... I'll tell you about it in a day or two, honestly I will, when things get under way a little. There's a woman in the case and everything, and a bum and a Chinaman."

"Gee, I wish you'll let me in on it. I'm just pining away for excitement in this dull hole."

"Honestly I'll tell you all about it in a day or two, but I'm such a damn coward I want to test my nerve out alone first. Don't be uneasy if I don't turn up for a day or two. I'll be all right."

Roscoe handed him a little blue steel revolver and a handful of cartridges.

"Don't get pinched for concealed weapons."

"Never fear," said Wenny jumping tensely to his feet.

"Do be careful, Wendell; it's always the man scared of a gun who shoots himself or the innocent bystanders instead of bagging his game. Get me?"

"O, I'll be careful. Anyway, there won't be any shooting. Just a precaution like rubbers. But I must be off. I have an engagement. Thanks a lot."

Wenny, going out the door, caught a contracted look of anxiety on Roscoe's tanned face as, puffing at his pipe, he strode back and forth in front of the fireplace. Wenny went down the dark brick corridor towards his own room, the gun in his back pocket pressing hard and cold on his thigh.

* * * *

Wenny walked among the muddy paths of the Fenway. Patches of snow among the shrubberies were crumbling fast in the tingle of spring that flushed the misty afternoon. The twigs of forsythias showed intensest yellow against the sopping grey of turf. In the gravel paths there was a tiny lisping sound of water as the frost came out of the ground. The rustle of it in the ruddy light was maddening like the rustle of silk. This womanish hysteria, he was saying to himself; to escape it tense and collected the way the earth slithers out from between the tight fists of winter. A man and a woman frowsy and middle-aged, a hat with mauve pansies beside a dust-grained derby; as Wenny passed the woman was tapping restlessly on the gravel with a narrow pointed toe. The thought came to him: Perhaps Nan and I will be like that, afraid to look in each other's eyes because we didn't dare when we were young and talk about if we'd done this and if we'd done that... What a rotten thing to think about the first day of spring.

In his back pocket a hard shape pressed against the fleshy part of his thigh; from its focus his whole being was stiffening to hardness.

He turned and with a sudden spring in his step crossed the street from the park, passed the livid tomblike oblong of the Dental Clinic, and pulled open the glass door of the Swansea. A grindorgan was playing at the curb. The glass door slammed behind him, cutting off the Marseillaise on an upward note. He ran up the stairs and stood still a moment in front of the reddish-stained door.

Through a bitter film of constraint he saw Nan in a pearlgrey dress pulling open the door for him.

"I never saw that one before."

"This dress? Do you like it?"

Down the hall came the aviary sound of people at tea.

"They'll be gone in a minute; don't look so worried." Nan looked in his face with a little mocking smile that faded out tremulously as she spoke. "Do wait, Wenny, I want to talk to you."

He followed the swish of her dress down the corridor. Richly the curve of her neck caught a glow of creamy rose from the pearlcolored silk.

"Have a cup of tea," she said in her hostess voice after introducing him to a large woman with beaded tragedy eyes and a lean whiny-voiced man who stood beside the teatable. Balancing a cup, Wenny settled himself against the wall beside the mantel, tried to think of nothing.

"... Dreadful, isn't it, how Boston is being transformed?"

"No, really, you wouldn't know it any more."

"We'd got used to the Irish, but now walking across the Common you don't see a soul who's not a Jew or an Italian."

"But don't you think they bring us anything?" Nan's voice, indifferent, from the teatable.

"What can they bring but fleas? The scum of south Europe...

"... O, Nancibel, you do have the most delightful teas."

"Why, Jane, I often wonder why on earth I do it. Doesn't it seem the height of absurdity to collect a lot of indifferent people, a regular zoo, in a room and pour a little tea down their throats and tell them: Now, have a good time?"

"But one must have some sort of society ... And you know perfectly well you are just fishing, Nancibel. Why, the cleverest people in Boston come to your teas, and as for celebrities!"

"Mr. Preston, won't you let me give you a little more tea? Yours looks cold and horrid...."

"... No, I wouldn't call 'The Way of All Flesh' a great novel.'"

"But, really, I'd like to know what is great then."

"A great satire, but not a great novel. . . . It's too embittered, not Olympian and balanced enough to be truly great."

"But as a philosopher ..."

"Ah, as a philosopher ..."

Through rigid glassy layers Wenny watched the nodding of heads, lifting of teacups, setting down of plates, brushing of fingertips. Occasionally he saw himself going through wooden gestures of politeness, heard himself speak. At last they had all gone; he was alone with Nan in the room that smelt of tea and scalded lemon and cake. Outside the windows the ruddy mist was purpling to twilight.

"O, Wenny, why on earth do I do it?"

"I guess because you like it, Nan."

"Probably you're right." She laughed happily. "I'd never thought of that before.... No, I hate it, and all those people. Imagine what Fitzie told me today. She said you always turned up as a sign that tea was over and it was time to wait not on the order of her going but go at once... Isn't she a fool? Then she added that it was rumored round Jordan that my engagement to Fanshaw would be announced any day... O, Wenny, people are a scream!"

"I probably do look rather grouchy when I come here and find a lot of those young hens cackling about your technique and that wretched old cadenza hound ..."

"It's pretty ridiculous, Wenny, that two people who know each other as well as we do can't talk...." Nan interrupted suddenly, speaking slowly, choosing her words: "Can't talk about our ... can't explain ourselves. O, I wonder if we'll ever know each other."

"Perhaps the fact that we need to explain ourselves ..."

"You mean it proves that we can't?"

Wenny nodded.

"Or perhaps it's just cowardice," he went on after a long pause, feeling everything within the cold bars of his ribs throb sickeningly. "Almost everything is that."

"Why can't we be sensible?"

"It's not sensible, it's alive I'd want to be ... But this is repeating," he said harshly with trembling lips, straightening himself up. It was as if a rind had burst in him letting out warm, sweetish floods; as if he were crying beside a grave where she had lain dead for years and lifetimes, his memory full of an ivory body he had loved.

They were silent, not looking at each other.

There was a knock at the door. Nan drew her breath in sharply and went to open. Wenny heard Fanshaw's voice in the hall.

"O I'm so glad to find you. I thought it'ld be just my luck to miss you both and spend a dull evening all alone. I have had the most detestable day."

"Let's walk in town to supper," said Nan in a hurried, throaty voice.

Walking down a broad street towards town, they had the dome of the Christian Science Church ahead of them swelled with purple against a tremendous scarletflaring sky across which grimy green clouds scudded on gusts of rising wind. Sharp flaws of cold were clotting the mist and chilling all reminiscence of thaw and spring out of the air. Footsteps rang shrill and fast on the pavements and were lost in the clang of streetcars and whirr of motors grinding slowly when they came out on Massachusetts Avenue. Overhead, above the bright shine of shop windows through which faces drifted steadily, outline drifting into outline, like snowflakes past an arclight, the sky was a churning of dark green clouds fast blotting the clear, fiery afterglow. Wenny could hear himself talking to Fanshaw as they walked, but all the while he was intent on the people he passed; smooth, velvety-warm masks of young men and girls, wooden masks of men bleached by offices, crumpled masks of old women; under them all seemed to tremble something jellylike and eager, something half caught sight of in their eyes that had thrilled to the warm afternoon, that this sudden cold searching through the dusty concrete grooves of the city congealed to shuddering crystals of terror. He felt a sudden maudlin desire to climb on a hydrant and talk, to draw people in circle after circle about him and explain all the joy and agony he felt in words so simple that they would tear off their masks and tell their lives too; it would be his face, his eyes, his mouth moulding words all about him when the masks were off. The picture brightened painfully in his mind.

"Look at all that yellow broom in the window," Fanshaw was saying. As they passed a flowershop they caught a momentary sweet gust of hothouses. "That's the real plantagenet, I think, that the Black Prince wore on his helmet. Strange to think of it this cold night in a Boston flowershop."

"Say it with flowers," Nan put in laughing.

"Exactly," said Fanshaw. "Yet why should there be that horrid rasp in the advertising phrase and the unction in 'langage des fleurs'? Do things seem beautiful only when they are unaccustomed?"

"Perhaps it's that not being customary and diurnal puts them in the proper light ... so that we can really see them," said Nan.

"I think it's just that we like to kid ourselves along. This may be a moment as important in the history of Boston as the time of lilies when Pico della Mirandola first rode into Florence, as you and Mr. Pater are so fond of telling us, Fanshaw," broke in Wenny. "But we don't know anything about it. We'd probably have gone grumbling and growling into town for dinner if we'd lived in Florence then, just like we do here, and complained what a dull town it was."

"But can't you imagine people of another caliber altogether from us?"

"Perhaps I can, Nan... out what I mean is it's our fault, not the fault of the century."

"What's our fault, Wenny?" asked Fanshaw smiling indulgently.

"That we are so damn rotten."

"But we're not. What we've lost in color and picturesqueness, we've made up in ..."

"In sheepishness and cowardice, I'll grant you that."

"Now Wenny."

Wenny saw himself in bitter distortion, standing on a hydrant confessing idiocies to crowds who wore his face as a mask on their own and bleated like sheep, baa, baa, at every pause. It all dissolved into an obscene muddle of leering faces. If I could only stop thinking.

They were cutting diagonally across the Common, under a hurrying sky lit by a last mustard-green flare from the west. The electric signs along Tremont Street bit icily through the lacy pattern of the stirring twigs of trees. The wind was getting steadier and colder, occasionally shot with a fine lash of snow.

"No, but we couldn't live without the ideal that somewhere at some time people had found life a sweeter, stronger draught than we find it," Fanshaw was saying. "That the flatness of our lives hasn't been the rule ... I don't think the fault's with us at all, Wenny. I think we're great people ... It's just this fearful environment we have to live down, the narrowness of our families, our bringing up, the moral code and all that. The people of the Renaissance were great because they lived in a great period...."

"Well, we haven't had much chance yet; give us time, Wenny," said Nan.

"Time means nothing. You can't make Narcissus into the Prelude from Tristan by working on it. The germ would be here."

"But we are learning, Wenny. Taught by our ideal of the past, of the Greeks and the people of the Renaissance, we are learning to surround ourselves with beautiful things, to live less ugly, money-grabbing lives."

"Culture, you mean. God, I'd rather rot in Childs' dairy lunches. Culture's mummifying the corpse with scented preservatives. Better let it honestly putrefy, I say."

"And while we argue about how we ought to live, things muddle along," said Nan.

"And the months go by ... Look at me, I'm twenty-three years old and I've done nothing ever, never anything of any sort," cried Wenny savagely.

"But you're not even hatched yet, Wenny. Give yourself time ... When you've got your M. A."

"Won't be any different ten years from now. I know it won't. You know it won't."

Nobody answered. Wenny walked along at Nan's side, his fists clenching and unclenching nervously. They had reached the Park Street corner of the Common where the steeple of the church stood up lithe and slender out of the muddle of arclights into the tumultuous sky where the frayed edges of clouds trailed along ruddy from the reflection of streets. In the lee of the subway stations sailors loafed with the broad collars of their jackets turned up watching the wind tussle with the skirts of a couple of girls who strutted back and forth with jerky impatient steps. A trail of Salvation Army lasses hobbled by following a fat redcheeked man with a cornet. Through the narrow crowded street towards Scollay Square the wind was less searching. In the floods of light in front of the moving picture houses dapper young men in overcoats belted at the waist waited for girls they had made dates with. A fat man threw away his cigarette and advanced towards a blonde girl who had just crossed the street; with one hand he was straightening his necktie. The smile on his puffy, razorscraped face kindled in her straight lips. Up a side street a man in a red sweater was preaching about something in a voice like a sea lion's. In the middle of the Square a policeman had hold of a holloweyed little man whiskered like a bottle cleaner whom he was shaking by the shoulder and roaring at. Wenny jumped back to avoid a truck lumbering up noisily out of Cornhill. Why didn't I let it run over me? Then the shop windows of Hanover Street full of price-signs were sliding past. Wenny felt vague interest in the streets and people he was walking among, the sort of disconnected interest he had felt when a child in the tableaux in the Old Mill at Revere, gliding along through expressionless dark, occasionally peering out at incidents, random gestures and faces. A year ago, he was thinking, I would have imagined every man, woman and child I met part of some absurd romantic vortex I was just on the point of being sucked into myself. I know better now. Do I?

"Funny, the thought," he said aloud, "That I pass people on the street and say to myself what wonderful lives they must be living, and they look at me out of their own emptiness and say the same thing... We're going to the Venice, aren't we?"

"Mind, no garlic," put in Fanshaw.

"We'll even let you have the eternal broiled lamb chop without hooting."

A flurry of snow fine as sand drove down the street.

"What do you think of this for the Boston climate?" said Nan.

"Here we are!"

The restaurant was nearly empty. They shook the snow off their overcoats and settled themselves at the round table in the window.

"What's so nice about this place, in spite of the garlic and the stains on the cloth and everything," Fanshaw was saying, "Is that it gives us a breathing space from Boston, a quiet eminence where we can sit undisturbed and look about us ... O, Wenny, do pull up your necktie."

"Now, Fanshaw, you shan't heckle Wenny," said Nan laughing.

The orchestra had struck up Funiculi, Funicula with great vigor. Wenny was looking at the girl who played the violin. Something in the tilt of the chin was painfully like Nan, only all the features were heavier, the lips coarser and less intense; many men had kissed them perhaps. To kiss Nan's lips. No, I mustn't think of all that. I will drive it out of me, down into me. Tonight it's calm; cold I must be, to weigh everything. In spite of him the tune filled his mind with streets full of carnival, scampering, heavybreasted women pelting him with flowers.

"The ladies' three-piece band is doing itself proud tonight," he shouted boisterously.

Like this always, these dreams. I must put an end to them. It's on account of these dream women I've not made Nan love me; everything has slipped by. What's the good of dreams? It's hard actuality I want, will have.

Yama, yama, blare of brass bands, red flags waving against picture postcard scenery, brown oarsmen with flashing teeth and roses behind their ears, and Nan; both of us lolling on red cushions. Bay of Naples and musical comedy moonlight and a phonograph in a flat in a smell of baby carriages and cabbage grinding out love songs. O, the mockery of it.

"Gee, what a horrible tune."

"Hacknied, I should say, Wenny, but it's rather jolly, and when they play it on those boats on the Grand Canal it's almost thrilling..."

"To Cook's tourists and little schoolma'ams from Grand Rapids."

"Isn't it a little like sour grapes that we should be so scornful of them?" put in Nan gently.

"I'm not scornful of them. I am them... We are just like them. Can't you see what I mean, Nan? I can see that they are ridiculous and pitiful. How much more ridiculous and pitiful we must be."

"But from that point of view everything must be ... well, just ashes; everybody ridiculous and pitiful," said Nan slowly with a flash in her eyes. "I'm willing to admit that in a sense, I suppose, yet certain things are dreadfully important to me—my friends, my music, my career, my sense of fitness. I don't see that those things are ridiculous... Of course, one can make oneself sound clever by making fun of anything, but that doesn't change it any way."

The hot light in her eyes, flushing her cheeks, her parted lips, were a stab of pain for him.

"O I can't say what I mean?" muttered Wenny.

"Do you know what you mean?" said Fanshaw.

"Perhaps not."

"And you forget what you're so fond of talking about Wenny."


"The gorgeousness of matter. That's your pet phrase."

Taste of veal with tomato and peppers, savor of frizzled olive oil, little seeds mashed between the front teeth into a prickly faint aroma, and wine, the cool curve of the glass against my lips, the tang of it like rainy sunsets. I could sit here imagining it and never drink, imagining Nan's lips... He picked up the glass and drank off the goldcolored wine at a gulp so that it choked him. He coughed and spluttered into his napkin.

"I follow you there, if you include the idea of material pleasures being purged of their grossness, by reason, fitness, as Nan says. So made the raw material of beauty," Fanshaw was saying. Wenny coughed and spluttered into his napkin.

"Drink a little water," Fanshaw added.

"More Orvieto, you mean," said Wenny hoarsely. "By the way, is Orvieto in Tuscany?"

"No, in Umbria, I think; that's where the great Signorelli frescos of the last judgment are, that strange dry hideously violent piece of macabre."

"Gee, I'd like to see them."

"You will some day."

"If I don't see the actual subject first ... No Burton Holmes, is as far as I'll ever get towards Umbria."

"Why, lots of people work their way over."

"You haven't seen me do it yet, have you? That's what I was saying. The world is full of people doing every conceivable sort of thing. The streets are full of them. You can see the things in their eyes."

"Well, why not you?" said Nan breathlessly.

"Before I came to college I spent my time dreaming, and now I spend it gabbling about my dreams that have died and begun to stink. Why the only genuine thing I ever did in my life was get drunk, and I haven't done that often."

Wenny drank down his wine again. His hair was wet. His heart pounded with exultation in the look of wincing pain on Nan's face.

"Suppose we start home," Nan said. "I have a little headache tonight."

Out in the streets the snowflakes danced dazzlingly, ruddy and green, and shivered gold through flaws and cones and crystals of light from windows and arclights. Faces bloomed and faded through a jumbled luminous mist, white as plaster casts, red as raw steak, yellow and warted like summer squashes, smooth and expressionless like cantaloupes. Occasionally a door yawned black and real in the spinning flicker of the snow and the lights, or a wall seemed to bulge to splitting with its denseness. In the shelter of the subway entrance they stood hesitating a moment.

"Why don't you both come out to my place?" said Nan in a pleading voice. "We'll make some chocolate or something."

"No, I want to think."

"But you can think there all you want... And it's such a miserable night."

"I'm going to Brookline to Mother's, anyway; I'll go as far as your door," said Fanshaw.

"You can amuse yourselves picking my character to pieces all the way out," said Wenny boisterously.

They none of them laughed.

"Well, then, good night."

Wenny watched them go down the steps, Nan in her long buff coat, Fanshaw with his wet hat pulled over his eyes. Nan half turned and waved with a little thwarted gesture of the hand. For a second she paused, then with the slightest shrug of the shoulders followed Fanshaw's tall figure out of sight past the change booth. Wenny took two steps to follow, but the impulse died sickeningly like a spoiled skyrocket falling. He thought he was going to cry, and turned about and walked recklessly into the blinding bright dance of the snow.

* * * *

The wind had dropped. Great sloppy flakes were spinning slowly down between the houses, filling with glitter the tents of light cast by the street lamps. Wenny had been walking fast with long irregular steps muffled by the crunching carpet of the snow. His feet and legs were wet and very cold. At a corner he stopped and leaned a moment against a wall. The shadows in the windows of the house opposite seemed concrete and the walls built heavily out of reddish darkness. People were grey ghosts with faces of unnatural bright pink that flitted past him through the leisurely chaos of the snow. In their eyes, at the edges of hats, from the ledges of shop windows glittered little globules of moist brightness. From gutters came a continual drip of melted snow. Now, what bar haven't I been to? he kept asking himself, as he stood listening to the little hiss of the snow and the slushy padding of footsteps.

I'd forgotten Frank Locke's; and he walked on with lurching strides.

After the velvety blur of the snow the bar room assailed him with needles and facets of glitter on brass and crystal that shivered in the mirrors into sharp angular grottoes. He shook the snow off his coat and let himself fall heavily into a chair. The hard shape in his back pocket rapped against his hip. His spine went cold at the touch of it.

"A Martini cocktail, please," he said to the thin, large-eyed man with a scrawny neck who came for his order.

The little mirrors in the ceiling and the glinty knobs and bottle ends of the partitions all radiated endlessly in dusty looking-glasses on the walls, so that Wenny felt himself drunkenly spinning through air heavy with beersmells and whisky and old tobacco smoke in the middle of a crazy merrygoround. The men at tables round him were tiny and gesticulating. The cocktail stung his mouth, sent writhing gold haze all through him. The glass was the center of a vortex into which were sucked the cutting edges of light, flickering cones of green and red brightness, the voices and the throbbing rubber faces of the men in the bar. In his mind Fanshaw's voice and his father's voice droning like antiphonal choirs: Leanfaced people of the Renaissance carried away helpless in their vermilion barge through snarling streets shaken with the roar of engines: Stand therefore having your loins girt about with the breastplate of righteousness ... Of course that's what it reminds me of here, looking through the globes in the drugstore window where I used to go to get aspirin for Auntie.

"Waiter, another cocktail, please."

This cocktail, smooth, smooth, hot tropic beaches, and the leanfaced men in their great barge deepchanting sliding through lagoons of islands of the South Seas (first love, first South Sea island, the great things of life); brown girls girdled with red hybiscus pulling nets full of writhing silver through parrotgreen water.... God! I must pull myself together. I must think, not dream... In the beginning was the word,... And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth... Poor little me, with holes in my stockings, sitting in my bedroom that had the cracked looking glass learning Genesis for Dad: The earth also was corrupt before God, the earth was filled with violence ... And God looked upon the earth and behold it was corrupt ... corrupt... I must think, not dream putrid dreams. Dreams, the corruption of misery, soggy, thwarted. If I had a clean, sharp knife to cut away dreams. Herb's little gun will do as well.

"Hey, another Martini, please."

He had no sense of being drunk any more. Things were still, icehard, iceclear all about him. The little neatly painted world of his childhood had been like that, breaks of lollipop-colored sunlight, little redroofed houses back among lawns of green baize, set about with toy evergreens, at doors varnished farmers' wives in Dutch caps shepherding Noah's animals out of a cardboard ark, all cute and tiny, like through the wrong end of a telescope; and the smell of the enamel scaling off toys, the grain of wood grimed by the fingers, the dark gleam on the floor under the bay window.

"Another Martini, please."

He drank it slowly in little sips, watching himself in the looking-glass beside him. His hair was very curly with sweat, his dark eyebrows jauntily arched, his lips moist and red. He drank and the man in the looking-glass drank. He stared into the black wells of his dilated pupils. Panic terror swooped on him all of a sudden; it was not his face. The face was thinner, the upper lip tight over the teeth, the hair smooth and steel grey, the jowls pinkish, close-shaved, constricted by a collar round backwards. My face, my father's face, and Dad's voice: David, my boy, taking a job has pleased me more than I can say, sensible and manly course ... I am sure that earning your living you will find inspiring and helpful and regret callousness and restlessness ... I, myself, bitter moments in my youth inexpressibly painful for me to recall of profligacy and despair ... A thin voice shrieking, interrupting in his head: My God, I'm going mad, mad, mad. The pulpit voice boomed louder in his ears: It was like this, David, I was not content with my lot and told myself in my boyish pride that life was short and the world wide, and wanted to run away to sea. I was one of those filthy dreamers mentioned in the Gospels who defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities. And I fell so low that inexpressibly painful to recall I took up in a low dive with a scarlet woman and arranged with her that she should give herself to me for five dollars, and I followed her to her room and she divested herself of her clothes and I stood before her trembling with lust, and all at once a sword cleaving me, a light searing me, I felt my flesh corrupt before God, and I felt the mercy of God in a great white light about me, and I rushed out sobbing and calling upon God. And that is how, dearly beloved brethren, I was called to the ministry... Let us pray...

Rustle of Sunday dresses, a couple of coughs from the back, Wenny in short pants kneeling trembling in the full booming blast of his father's prayer, watching the patches of pink and purple and mustard yellow light cast on the pew ahead by the sun shining through the colored glass of the windows, then caught away in a dream of red Indians running through a birch wood, and roused by the long droning infections: To do good and communicate forget not for with such sacrifice God is well pleased. Women's voices shrilling high:

How firm a foundation ye say-aints of the Lord ...

Everything was spinning again and he was saying over and over: must pull myself together, pull myself together, for that face is my face and my father's voice is my voice. I am my father.

"All right, mister, closing time." There was a heavy hand on his shoulder.

He reeled out into the street, his hand over his face to wipe away the memory of the dilated pupils of his eyes in the looking-glass. The air was cold and harsh in his nostrils, against his temples. He walked slowly through streets neatly carpeted with snow that made tiny whirlwinds at corners in the clear gusts of wind. His thoughts clicked with mechanical precision. I'm sober now, I've got to decide. Up towards Beacon Hill. Something always goes mad in me when I go to Frank Locke's. Mustn't go again. Again! How silly, as if there were going to be any agains. Now in me my father'll be dead. Mustn't hurry. Pleasant to stroll about a town the last night before going away; bought your ticket and everything. Where? Want ad: Respectable house offers agreeably furnished room suitable for suicide... How fine; to be cool like this. This is the secret at last. Never been happier in my life. Or am I just hideously drunk?

Slippery down this hill. The bridge the subway goes over, that's it. He felt for his watch. Gone, of course; pawned a thousand years ago to sleep with Ellen of Troy.

It was very quiet over the river. The snow lay straight on the ledges of the bridge. The lights of the esplanade flickered like stars through the clear, bleak night and cast little tremulous sparks over the lacquered surface of the water.

The wind had blown all tracks out of the snow. Wenny cleared off the rail behind one of the turrets and sat looking at the water.

Perhaps lovers have met here. No, the cops'ld be after them. No place for love in the city of Boston; place for death though.

He pulled the little revolver out of his back pocket and held it at arms' length.

I have nerve for this, why not for the rest; for shipping on a windjammer, for walking with Nan down streets unaccountable and dark between blind brick walls that tremble with the roar of engines, for her seagrey eyes in my eyes, her lips, the sweetish fatty smell of Ellen's lips. Maybe death's all that, sinking into the body of a dark woman, with proud cold thighs, hair black, black. I wonder if it shoots.

The trigger was well-oiled. The shot rang out over the water. The rebound jerked his hand up.

Shoot? sure it does. Quick, now, there'll be somebody coming. Spread out your bed for me, Nan Ellen death.

He climbed to his feet on the parapet and pressed the muzzle of the gun under his chin. Warm it was. Black terror shrieked through him. He was breathing hard. With cold, firm hands he made sure the barrel pointed straight through his throat to his brain. He pulled the trigger.

His body pitched from the parapet of the bridge, struck the snowcovered slant of the pier, and slid into the river.


Fanshaw opened his eyes, stretched himself in bed, and was aware hazily of luminous grey sheets of rain outside the window. He reached for his watch and his glasses. Seven-forty-three; that means ten minutes more of delicious languor. He took off his glasses again and lay staring at the ceiling, happily thinking of nothing. The steam pipes were popping and cracking, and there was a dribble of water from the bathroom. Ought to have them fix that faucet. His mind was groping to remember what the nine o'clock section meeting would be about. Fra Angelico, Lorenzo Monaco, Gozzoli, names of Italian painters streamed through his head. But we're through with them; must be about the Dutch, some Fleming. Why cudgel his brains? This was April: April, May, June, then the treadmill stopped. Freedom. Imagine living always free like a Chinese sage in a hut of rice-matting beside a waterfall; to retire to an exquisite pavillion ornamented with red and black lacquer, living on rice and tea and trout from the stream. The mist steaming up out of the valleys and the constant shimmer of moisture on the green, delicate leaves of ferns. And Wenny for an attendant to carry the begging bowl, or Wenny, brown from the sun, gleaming with sweat as he worked the rice fields with a piece of scarlet cloth about his loins. Days eternal with quiet to elaborate thoughts of such subtlety that ... How delicious to lie here and let his mind ramble. And Nan. Only five thousand a year would do amply for a villa in Italy somewhere, perhaps on the shore near Sorrento. The old dream of love; roses handed over supper-tables at Capri, on a terrace with low music ... Sweet and low, sweet and low, wind of the western sea ... and the moon rising out of the dark sea. No, Capri would be too crowded, full of noisy, fast people. A grey old house somewhere with a courtyard. Mr. and Mrs. J. Fanshaw Macdougan, at home. Nan the way she had looked that night at the fancy dress party at the Logans, her hair caught back from her forehead under a jewelled net, playing the violin in a long-raftered hall, a little musty with the smell of the old incense-drenched tapestries, and through the windows in great, cool gusts the smell of jessamine from the garden. Little trips to hilltowns to look at frescoes, caffe con latte in station restaurants, jokes about Karl Baedeker, a cab rattling pleasantly over the cobblestones driven by a brown youth with a flower behind his ear... Then he thought of his mother's wrinkled cheeks against the pillow and the peevish lines at the ends of her mouth. Poor lamb.

He jumped up with a jerk and looked at his watch. Lord, a quarter past eight. I shan't have time to shave. He ran, shivering a little, to shut the window. What beastly weather to be having in April.

The coffee at the cafeteria had a sour taste that morning, hastily swallowed amid a rattle of dishes on tin trays and shrill talk. Fanshaw was peevishly telling himself this was the last year he'd lead this dog's life, getting up out of bed this way every morning to hear a lot of young nincompoops make themselves ridiculous about the history of painting. If only it weren't for Mother, all the things he would be able to do! Crossing the yard, he began to feel better. His unbuckled arctics clinked cheerfully as he walked. The groups of boys in brown hats at the doors of the lecture halls, the tattoo of springy footsteps on the boardwalks, the ringing voices and the softmoulded cheeks flushed by the rain spun a net about him warm and full of freshness that gave him a sense of being within protecting walls and proceeding nonchalantly towards some aim. What else could he do that would give him such pleasant surroundings, and freedom for part of the year. And this youth always welling up about him. He sat down at the yellow-varnished desk in the semicircular lecture hall that smelt of chalk and turpentine that drifted in from the Museum, pushed off his arctics and strolled about, chatting with students and giving an occasional glance at his watch. Of course he might try being agent for some dealer, he was thinking as he talked. There was money to be made that way. Awfully low, of course. Still, for a year in Italy, to talk endlessly with good friends like Wenny and Nan at supper-tables in the moonlight in a smell of roses. The class was under way, would soon be over. That story overheard in a smoker about a rose. How disgusting, nauseating; one couldn't keep things like that out of one's head. "Rubens," he was saying. "No, I don't see why we should waste much time on Rubens, Mr. Jones; more acreage than intensity in Rubens, and all of it smeared with raspberry jam." The class laughed.

After the lecture hall had emptied, Fanshaw stood a moment behind the desk thoughtfully plucking at the elastic round a bundle of papers. Let's see, he'd have time to go over to Wenny's for a moment before starting to sort those photographs. Pulling on his arctics again, he walked down the road towards Conant. The snow had nearly vanished under the beat of the warm rain. Now there'd be some spring. It was time he and Wenny and Nan were going to Nahant again. He climbed the stairs and knocked at the room door. The door was unlatched and swung open. The bed had not been slept in. There were no papers on the desk. Fanshaw felt a sudden catch of excitement in his throat. Could he be out with some woman? Wenny, with drunken eyes and flushed cheeks, in the arms of a fat, painted blonde. Horrible. He was too fine for that sort of thing. Poor kid. On the mantelpiece was a little snapshot of Nan propped against some volumes of the Golden Bough. Fanshaw barely glanced at it and flushed as if he had caught himself intruding into some inner privacy. Poor Wenny, he probably is crazy about her.

Fanshaw scribbled a note on a piece of yellow paper and left it on the desk:

Wenny, you little debauchee, where are you hiding yourself? Come over at tea time. F.

In the hall outside he found Herb Roscoe shaking the water off an oilskin slicker.

"How do you do? Have you seen Wendell about anywhere recently?"

"No, I haven't seen him in the last couple of days.... I don't quite know what he's up to these days; looks like to me he was in love or somethin', he's been actin' so queer." Herb Roscoe laughed and gave the slicker a final shake.

Fanshaw's face stiffened.

"O, I don't think it's that," he said coldly, nodded, and went down the steps.

While he was crossing the little triangle of grass in front of the seated statue of John Harvard, Fanshaw stopped a moment to sniff the moist air that for the first time that season smelt of earth and gardens. The rain had stopped, and there were breaks of blue in the brightening sky. A grimyfaced boy ran by calling an extra. Fanshaw was turning away, so as not to see the great blocks of print, when his eye caught the headline:

Body of Harvard Graduate Student

Fanshaw grabbed the boy's shoulder.

"That paper."

"A nickel cause it's a extra."

I must go home. He folded the paper almost stealthily and strode across the yard, neither looking to the right or to the left. Get home before anyone speaks to me. How hideous if anyone should speak to me. Professor Walpole, grey beard and narrow, steelrimmed glasses, was coming down the boardwalk; he stopped and smiled benignantly at Fanshaw:

"You've heard the news, haven't you, Mr. Macdougan?"

"What news?" asked Fanshaw, his hands quaking, his tongue dry in his mouth from horror.

"Why we are going to have a Velasquez for two months...."

"How wonderful!... Pardon me, won't you, I've got a pressing engagement."

Fanshaw had shoved the paper into the pocket of his raincoat. He darted across Massachusetts Avenue in front of a trolley car. At last he was on Holyoke Street. O it was raining again. The drops danced in the puddle in front of his door. Green door, yellow house, here he was. He walked slowly up the stairs, locked and bolted his door on the inside. There he unfolded the paper carefully and began to read:

Body of Harvard Graduate Student Found Floating in Charles.

David Wendell, Washington, D. C., Boy, Shot Through Head; Was He Murdered on the East Cambridge Bridge? Police Completely Baffled.

At eighty twenty this morning ...

For a moment Fanshaw could not read the bleary print. The bitter smell of the newspaper filled his nostrils. Of course it's a mistake, a beastly mistake, he said aloud.

At eight twenty this morning Patrolman John H. Higgs of the seventh precinct observed an object that he took to be an old coat floating among cakes of ice near the Esplanade below the East Cambridge Bridge. Upon investigating, however, he decided that it must be the body of a drowned man and summoned assistance. When the body was recovered it was identified through a seaman's union card and a receipted bill from the Bursar of Harvard University as that of ...

Fanshaw let the paper fall to the ground. He was sitting, breathing deeply on the edge of the bed. He took off his coat and overshoes. Seaman's union card. So Wenny really was trying to go to sea? Wenny tugging at a frozen rope, his curly hair clotted and briny, the rope tearing the skin off his hands. Fanshaw picked up the paper again feverishly.

... According to the medical examiner at the Morgue where the body was immediately placed, death was not caused by drowning. The young man, Dr. Swanson alleged, had been shot through the jaw by a pistol of small calibre held close to the neck. The bullet had penetrated to the brain and death had resulted instantaneously. The hypothesis has been advanced that the young man might have been waylaid and robbed at some time during the phenomenally violent blizzard that swept this city last night and afterwards murdered and the body thrown into the Charles River Basin, perhaps from the East Cambridge Bridge...

How horrible! Of course it's true, something had to happen to Wenny; he was too reckless, too beautifully alive.

He crumpled the paper up. I must get Nan. We must go to see him at the morgue to make sure. O these filthy newspapers. He dropped the paper in the grate and set a match to it. The flame roared a moment in the chimney, then the black ash collapsed into flakes.

There was a knock at the door. Fanshaw stood a moment with his fists clenched. I suppose I must see who it is. He drew the bolt and stepped back, very pale, with compressed lips. "Come in," he said. A short youngish man with fat cheeks that showed a trace of black beard opened the door and came towards him holding out a hand effusively.

"Mr. Macdougan, I believe."

"My name is Macdougan."

"I have information that you could give me details of the life of that unfortunate young man; you see I'm a reporter from the American. My name is Rogers. I'm on special articles mostly." He looked up at Fanshaw sideways with a smile.

"Thank you... I know er ... nothing except what I just read in your paper... I'm afraid I can't talk to you now..." Fanshaw was desperately trying to think: These beasts'll try to get up a scandal. There's nothing they'll stick at. Nan and I must keep out of it... If I were to lose my instructorship...

"You see, it is this way, Mr. Macdougan ... Won't you take a cigarette?" Rogers settled himself in a chair, lit a cigarette, pulled his trousers up at the knees, and continued in his oily, wheedling voice: "You see, Mr. Macdougan, my paper, as you know, is at present out to clean up the police department of this city, which is disgracefully inefficient. We are going to fight them with every means in our power. Publicity and publicity and more publicity for every instance of neglect and corruption we can unearth. We intend to make the streets of Boston safe for the most delicate girl at any hour of the day or night.... That is why we are so interested in procuring all the details of a case like this accident that overwhelmed your unfortunate young friend. I'm sure you want to help us in this."

"But I don't know anything. I last saw David Wendell at dinner last night in Boston. I am not in the least certain that it's he who was murdered."

"What time last night?"

"O I suppose at around ten... We'd been dining on Hanover Street... But I can't talk about this now."

"I am sure you will appreciate my position, Mr. Macdougan; it's only in the interest of justice, with that poor young man's interest at heart that I intrude this way on your grief at the loss of a dear friend... Did you dine alone with him?"

"No... But, look here, I must go."

"You wouldn't mind giving me the name of the other party. He and you were probably the last to ever see him alive. He might be able to help us."

"I'm afraid I can't give you the name."

"The third party was a lady, then?"

Fanshaw blushed red. He stared hard in the man's wheedling eyes.

"I must get in touch with the police to find out what really happened... Please excuse me."

Fanshaw pulled on his overshoes and took his coat from the bed.

"Have you thought of any motive anyone could have for wanting to kill young Wendell, Mr. Macdougan?"

"None, of course not."

"Do you think it could have been suicide?"

Fanshaw felt the beads of sweat trickling down his cheek. He motioned the reporter out the door and slammed it behind them.

"I don't know... It might have been anything."

He started down the stairs.

"If you are going to the Morgue now I should be very glad to go with you, Mr. Macdougan," said the reporter, following him with the same confident smile.

"Thank you, no!"

Fanshaw started tearing down the street towards the college office. O, this is hideous, hideous.

The reporter stared after him blandly from the doorstep.

Publicity, thought Fanshaw, pitiless publicity. And his mind seethed with people in streetcars, in restaurants and bars, their eyes bulging with delight, people in subways and under streetlamps reading of Wenny's death in paragraphs of smeary print. The headlines seemed reflected in their ghoulish eyes as they read gluttonously every detail of the bullet searing the warm flesh, the warm flesh quenched in the water of the basin, the body that people had loved, talked to, walked with, floating like an old coat among the melting ice-cakes at eight-twenty this morning. Youth had been killed. In offices and stores and front parlors and lonely hall bedrooms sallow-jowled faces sucked the blood through the nasty smelling print of the extras. The streets swarmed and seethed with faces drinking Wenny's blood.

He walked hastily into the college office, past a row of scared freshmen waiting a reprimand, and asked for the Dean of the Graduate School. He felt calmer in the quiet dinginess, among the low voices of the office. All the blood and clamor and hideousness of the streets was shut outside.

"Yes, come right in, Mr. Macdougan."

* * * *

The steam from the spout of the big blue teapot rose between Fanshaw and the sunlight of the window. He sat staring at its slow spiral, his cup forgotten in his hand. Beside the mantelpiece Nan, her brows contracted and a flush on her face, was reading a piece of the Sunday newspaper. In the blue velvet armchair Miss Fitzhugh sat hunched up, occasionally giving her red eyes a little dab with a handkerchief.

"O dear," Miss Fitzhugh was quavering faintly, "I haven't been so upset since I broke off my engagement and sent Billy back his ring."

"Please don't break down again, Fitzie, dear," said Nan savagely, letting the paper drop out of her hands. "My sense of humor is somewhat worn to a frazzle... My God, what swine people are!"

"But after all, dear, it's not as if we really believed he was dead. The word has no meaning to me now... Why I fell so happy in his presence, more than when he was alive; don't you?"

"It's these papers that infuriate me, being dragged out naked this way by these beasts, these bloodsuckers for everybody to gloat over.... God, I never want to go out of doors again."

"But after all, dear, it's such a marvellous romance..."

"O, Fitzie, will you please shut up?"

Miss Fitzhugh got slowly to her feet and put her untasted teacup down on the table.

"I'll go away now and come back for a minute after supper to see if you want anything."

"O, you are a dear, Fitzie." Nan followed her out into the hall.

Fanshaw sat stiffly in his chair looking out of the window at the sunny, cloud-flecked sky. In his hands he was folding and unfolding the newspaper Nan had dropped. His mind seethed with its phrases. Headlines in the ornamental print of the magazine section danced and writhed and squirmed mockingly through his head: Was it love lured young David Wendell to his doom? Known to frequent low companions ... inveterate slummer ... Despair over money matters or jilting by Back Bay girl led him first to try to ship as a sailor and at last to that final orgy in a foreign restaurant on Hanover Street... Victim of infatuation for some beautiful flower of the slums ... I must get this out of my head or go mad. Fanshaw started walking back and forth in front of the window clasping and unclasping his hands behind his back.

Nan came back into the room, her face calmer, a little smile hovering at the edges of her lips.

"I'd have just lain down on the floor and shrieked if Fitzie had stayed any longer."

"She has the holy stupidity of an early Christian saint," said Fanshaw. "But let's have some hot tea, Lord knows we'll need it."

"There's fresh hot water on the gas."

"I'll get it."

In the kitchenette he stood still a moment with the teakettle in his hand. The smell of the Morgue, the old wax-faced man in uniform who led the way down a grey passage, and Nan's heart beating madly against his arm when they came to the slab where the body lay diminished and pitiful under a sheet ... Fanshaw tried to rid his mind of the memory. The steam from the kettle was scalding his hand. As he was leaning over to pour some hot water into the pot, Nan looked up into his face from the armchair and said:

"Do you feel this fearful ache, as if your head would burst with it all?"

Fanshaw nodded quietly, poured himself some fresh tea, and went to sit by the window. Wenny's face, when the sheet was pulled off, bruised and mashed, the strange smiling look of the blue full lips, and his shoulders rigid and calm like very old carved ivory.

"What have the people in the Fine Arts Department had to say about all these beastly insinuations?"

"They've been extremely decent, as far as I know; of course the University doesn't like one's getting in the papers."

"Poor little Wenny, even dead he gets us into scrapes."

"Doesn't it make you hate people?"

"I can't walk along the street without shuddering, Fanshaw... I'd always thought of all the faces drifting by along the pavement, joggling opposite you in trolley cars, as vaguely friendly and lovable; I wanted to be part of them, to dive into the crowd like into a sea..."

"That was Wenny's idea."

"But now I know what swine they are. If they had a drop of human kindness these hideous articles in the papers wouldn't be allowed."

The headlines were filing in procession again through Fanshaw's mind: Drink and infatuation for a woman lead minister's son to his death... Following the will-of-the-wisp of pleasure through the tortuous mazes of Boston's tenderloin shatters young graduate's career.... Lovely Back Bay girl Conservatoire student figures in East Cambridge bridge suicide. Mystery of missing revolver ...

"O, if I could get it out of my head and forget it."

"How's your mother, Fanshaw?"

"I really don't know, Nan ... No better and no worse."

The bell rang. Nan raised herself slowly from the chair and went to the door. "Why, Betty Thomas!" Fanshaw heard her exclaim.

In spite of himself, Fanshaw had unrolled the newspaper. It was a heavily ornamented magazine page with a picture in the upper left-hand corner of a young man in a dress suit brandishing a revolver in the middle of a spotchy snowstorm. See next Sunday's Magazine Section for What Drove David Wendell, Goodlooking, Successful, Beloved by Parents and Friends, to blow out his brains that night of wind and blizzard on the East Cambridge Bridge.

"Put that paper away," said Betty Thomas in her fresh, ringing voice. She wore a grey skirt and a burnt-orange sweater that moulded to the ample curves of her bosom. "I'm going to make Nancibel play some Bach or something with me... You people are getting morbid sitting around with these dirty yellow sheets all day."

"You're right, Betty," said Nan. "Will you have some tea?"

Betty Thomas shook her head, smiling.

"D'you mind if I open the window, though? The air's splendid outside, cold and smells of spring."

Nan had brought out her violin.

"Let's play ... I haven't practiced for three days."

Fanshaw sat by the window shivering a little in the cold air. The sound of the violin being tuned rasped on his ears. Then they started playing a solemn, circular tune that made him think of a minuet, and today made him twitch all over with impatience. He got to his feet and tiptoed out. Something about the two girls' absorption in the music annoyed him. He walked down the stairs and strolled across the Fenway where a few nursemaids were wheeling babies about in the late afternoon sun.

He crossed a bridge over a railroad track. The sound of a train whistle in the distance sent a pang through him of helpless nostalgia for travel and railway carriages and the smoke of stations and the unfamiliar smell of hotel rooms. He got so little of all he had longed for before he died, Fanshaw was thinking; and what I long for, how little of it shall I get! He felt tears welling up within him.

At the corner where he waited for the Brookline car some workmen were repairing the track. Under baggy blue shirts the muscles of arms and shoulders moved tautly. A smell of sweat and rank pipes came from them. Wenny would have wanted to be one of them, redfaced spitting men with skillful ugly hands. The men who had dug the grave had been like that, men digging everywhere were like that; strange how through all the tense idiocy of the funeral, and Wenny's father and mother very solemn and professional, and the father's little speech to the effect that he believed as he believed in God Almighty that his son had not died a suicide but had been done to death by some low companion or other, he had felt that the only people there Wenny would have liked were the two hickory-faced men with spades who filled in the grave, their thick backs bending and straightening as they shoveled in the reddish dirt. Fanshaw suddenly pressed his lips hard together as he remembered the undertaker's man in black broadcloth unscrewing the silver handles from the coffin before it was lowered into the grave, and Wenny's father in black broadcloth eloquently reading the burial service, and the rattle of the first shovelfull of dirt and stones on the coffin.

The car stopped in front of him with a shriek of brakes.

Fanshaw sat stiffly in the rattling streetcar that smelt of cheap perfume and overcoats and breathed out air, staring unseeing out of the window.

"O, Muriel, isn't that suicide case dreadful?"

A girl's voice from the seat ahead roused him. Two blonde girls in tamoshanters were bending over a newspaper.

"That boy never killed himself, I'm certain," said the other girl.

"Do you think he was murdered?"

"Yes, deary, I do, by the husband of the woman he had wronged ..."

"But, Muriel, he didn't wrong anybody ... He killed himself for grief because a Back Bay beauty spurned his love."

"Lot o' piffle, that stuff ... I wouldn't kill myself for any man."

"O, but Muriel, you might. Think, if he was a duke or something in disguise and dreadfully handsome, with curly hair and a strong, silent face."

"Like fun I would. Have a peppermint."

"O, but Muriel, don't you think it would be just wonderful to have something like that happen ... a suicide or something? Of course it'ld be just terrible, but ..."

A smell of chewed peppermints filtered gradually back to Fanshaw. The streetcar had speeded up noisily, so that he could no longer hear what they were saying.

* * * *

"I wonder, Nan, if death doesn't make one feel how very acutely one is alive, the thought of one's own death, or the death of someone beloved," Fanshaw said, turning suddenly to Nan, seeking out her eyes. It had been on his tongue all day, but somehow he had not been able to say it till now. He was tingling hot with the excitement of saying it.

"Or do you mean that we feel in ourselves the dead person alive?" Nan's eyes flashed green in his.

"No, no, Wenny wouldn't have meant that."

They sat on Fanshaw's overcoat, their backs against a rock. Behind them were patches of sprouting emerald grass in the clefts of rocks and rows of shingled cottages, shutters still fast for the winter. At their feet the surf hissed and rattled on the pebbly beach. The sea was slate-grey with an occasional whitecap. From the deep indigo line of the horizon cumulous clouds steamed up heavy and flushed with spring, with a hint of rain in their broad, shadowy bases. In the back of his mind Fanshaw was remembering the scalloped wavelets and the blown hair and the curves like grey rose petals of Botticelli's waveborn Venus. What was the Latin that went it: Cras amet qui numquam amavit...? No, how ridiculous.

"What did you think of his father, Fanshaw?"

"O, impossible, completely impossible."

"I wonder ..."

They were silent a long time looking out to sea. Fanshaw leaned back with halfclosed eyes, conscious of Nan beside him, felt vague rosy contours, slender and leaping like the figures on a black-figure vase, dancing within him. He was very happy.

"Nan, I wish I could paint."

"Who's stopping you?"

"I suppose that sort of thing is pretty futile nowadays ... It would have been fine, though, to have been born in a time ..."

"Wouldn't Wenny have been angry hearing you say that?"

They turned towards each other and laughed.

"Wenny could have done anything ... Think that all his life should be gone, like a glass of wine poured on the ground."

"Such a Biblical metaphor." Nan laughed deep in her throat. "Maybe you and I are the ground, Fanshaw, who can tell?"

"Tares and thistles probably ... Don't you wish we were the lilies of the field?"

"That makes me think of the Reverend Jonas ... I wonder if all of poor old Wenny's troubles didn't come from that. Wasn't it a case of ... what's the quotation about the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge?"

"Don't you think it's a little vulgar to know the Bible so well?"

They both laughed. Down the coast the sun had burst through the clouds. The spreading rays brightened on the sea to great patches of heaving silver. Far out the sails of a schooner shone out suddenly like mother of pearl.

"O, isn't it superb here this afternoon, Nan? And think that I didn't want to come."

"I like it ... Suppose we stayed forever."

"After all the hideousness of this Spring?"

"Let's not talk about it... I won't remember it. What's today?"

"I think it's the twentieth."

"Well, for me it's May first. I won't be cheated of my spring. I'm just going to begin it all over again. And practice! Fanshaw, if you only knew how I was going to practice!"

"Look down the coast now ... With the dark clouds and the rays from the sun and the sailboat and everything, isn't it exactly like one of those funny old English engravings? Seascapes they used to call them. Even to the musty color."

Nan's arm was against his arm. She had taken off her tailored jacket, and her round arm, faintly brownish against his grey tweed, was bare from above the elbow. She wore a sort of tunic of dull red silk with a little black embroidery on it that left a deep V at her neck and fell suavely over her slight breasts as she leaned back against the rock. A dizzying flush went through him as his eyes followed the shadowed curve of her neck to the sharp chin and up the oval contour of her cheeks. Her lips were parted. Suddenly he found her eyes, green and grey, very solemn, looking into his. His heart was thumping like mad in his chest. He gulped and looked away over the sea that was green and grey like her eyes. A quick inexplicable chill went down his spine. It was a moment before he could speak:

"Nan..." He paused, his tongue dry, "Nan, don't you think we need our tea?"

"Yes, come along," she said hoarsely, and jumped to her feet.

"I was getting a little chilly." Fanshaw bent to pick up a pebble to hide his flushed face. He threw the pebble as far as he could out across the surf, caught up his overcoat and followed Nan. She had already started across the rocks. They walked round the edge of the harbor towards the town. Under the grey sky slightly marbled with sunlight the shingled sharp-roofed houses scattered unevenly among lanes and low picket fences looked out hostilely through the small panes of their windows at the sprouting tulips and hyacinths in their dooryards.

"Are we going to the redheaded woman's?" said Fanshaw after a while.

"Where else can we go?"

"Nowhere, I suppose, but she does give one such small cups." His voice faltered as he spoke. What a waste of breath were all these trivialities when he ought to be telling Nan ... If he could only catch the proper note, mock-serious, flippant, as one would have made love to a marquise with powdered hair in a garden by LeNotre. And Wenny had loved Nan. Fanshaw was trying to imagine some sulfurous boiling passion. He saw Wenny brown and flushed, sweaty and dusty like a runner after a race, break through all this stage scenery of New England houses and trees and sea, tearing it apart with hard knobbed fingers the way he'd pulled down the window curtains one night when he was drunk. Wenny's face dead, purple-splotched under the sheet on the marble slab at the Morgue. And Nan and I going on, springtime and autumn, breakfast and luncheon and dinner.

They had reached the teahouse. A coldframe under the window was full of violets. They settled themselves at a little table, breathing deep of the fugitive scent of the violets.

After all, Fanshaw was thinking, does it bring any more to kick against the pricks? A certain position in the world ... He could hear his mother's tremulous voice: Your beautiful, lovely career. Perhaps it's best for Wenny that he died. Wenny grown old, sodden, drunken, losing his fire and his good looks; Verlaine's last absinthe-haunted days; Lord Byron, a puffy-faced Don Juan; the verdict of history. Circumspectly, with infinite grace, they went about life in the eighteenth century, never headlong, half-cocked. Nan and I can be like that.

"Delicious, isn't it, to smell this mixture of tea and violets?" he said.

"I was thinking," said Nan, "How wonderful if he were only here. Isn't it silly?"

"I was thinking of him too," said Fanshaw.

And Wenny loved Nan. Yet, was it any more unbearable for him than just now when I looked in her eyes and a light like the light bursting out from the center in that Greco Nativity shot all through me? Never to have held a woman in your arms and kissed her. Pent up aching rivers ... Called for madder music and for stronger wine.

The redhaired woman leaned over to put a plate of toasted muffins on the table. Her round breasts hung heavy against the thin muslin of her blouse There was a faint rancid smell from her armpits.

She doesn't wear corsets; sloppy that modern style. Here comes the bride, here comes the bride... Make a formal declaration. A marriage license engraved with cupids and hearts. Wobbling from side to side ... Sukie Smith and I walking round the block singing that one Fourth, smell of lindens, and people laughing at us and asking if we meant it, until Mother stopped us. Here come the groom, straight as a broom!

"What a comfort tea is, Nan. I feel my tongue getting loose again. I wish we could talk about ourselves a little."

"I hate it above anything, but let's ... Do you know, Fanshaw, I think sometimes that the more people see of each other the less they get to know. You can tell a stranger anything, but a friend ..."

"It's awfully hard to say anything about what I really feel ... If we only had the Eighteenth Century code of badinage."

"On ne badine pas avec l'amour."

Fanshaw felt something like terror chilling his spine. He was tapping with a teaspoon on the table. Nan looked straight at him with narrowed eyes.

"That's what I meant, Nan, I ..."

"But why not after all?... Why not play with love to keep it from playing with us?" cried Nan wildly. The radiance of her eyes hurt like a too bright light.

"O, Nan, what are we going to do about ourselves, you and I?"

"Fanshaw, whatever happens, remember that my music is terribly important to me."

"But life is more important to us than anything."

Nan put her hand out to him suddenly across the table. He pressed it gently with long, white fingers. He felt his carefully balanced restraint tottering. When he was very small once he had tried to balance himself on the fence of the back yard above a rosebush in flower, and somehow the drone of the bees and the fragrance of the dull carmine flowers had made him dizzy, and he had lost his balance and tottered and swung his arms wildly. Then he had fallen and lain crying on the path among the fallen petals, his face all scratched and bloody from the thorns. He patted her hand gently. Neither of them spoke.

"Dear Nan," he began when the silence had got to swirling fearfully about his head.

"There are the Turnstables," said Nan sharply. "They are coming in here."

They got to their feet. Mrs. Turnstable, in a long motor coat, came up to them, followed by her blonde son and daughter.

"Why, Nancibel, how delightful to run upon you here. And how do you do, Mr. Macdougan? Why, this is luck ... Isn't it delicious here today. Our first real spring day."

"Hello, Cousin Nancibel."

Chairs scraped. Another table was pushed up. Under cover of the clinking of more teacups being brought and Mrs. Turnstable's musical voice talking about what a dreadful spring it had been, Fanshaw sat silent, feeling his frenzy of excitement ebb deliciously. This was saner. Control. Control.

"O, Mr. Macdougan, have you seen Prunella? Such a beautiful play; I'm sure you'd like it. I've been twice, and I am taking the children tomorrow. So romantic and dainty ..."

"It's a Pierrot play, isn't it?"

"Yes, I was wondering if the veritable commedia del arte can't have been something like that."

"Why very probably."

While he talked Fanshaw was furtively watching James Turnstable's thin pink and white face. The boy was eating toast and staring at Nan with worshipping blue eyes. At length when she turned to him and said: "More tea, Jamesy," he grew red to the ears and stammered, "Please, Cousin Nancibel." An attractive kid, Fanshaw was thinking. O, the cycle of it.

"There'll be lots of room ... We'll all go back to Boston together in my car," Mrs. Turnstable was saying. "Don't you love Marblehead, Mr. Macdougan?"

* * * *

Fanshaw's mother sat by the library window looking out into the garden that was full of the fiery chalices of Darwin tulips.

"Once I'm well, Fanshaw, we must rebuild the garden. There aren't any paeonies. I've always wanted some of those beautiful yellow paeonies in the garden. You must get me some next time you see them in a flower shop."

"I will, indeed, Mother," said Fanshaw from the easy chair where he was reading.

"What are you reading, dear?"

"Just a thing about Umbrian painters."

"Come here and tell me about it... You never tell me anything about your work any more."

Fanshaw moved to the window ledge beside her chair and stared out into the garden.

"Mother," he said, without looking in her face, "what would you say if I were to marry some day?"

"But then we couldn't go abroad this summer, could we, dear?"

"I'm afraid we aren't going to be able to do that anyway."


"Because I'm afraid you won't be quite strong enough, dear."

"How ridiculous, Fanshaw. Of course I'll be well in a couple of months. How long is it now since Dr. Nickerson said I'd be well in a couple of months?"

"It's nearly a year, Mother dear. Of course he did not say that definitely ..."

"You wait and see how quickly I'll get well ... But, Fanshaw, I don't believe in a boy marrying too young."

"I'm nearly thirty, Mother, that's old enough surely."

"Your dear father was thirty-five when he married me. And, Fanshaw, there are so many things we'll want to do together when I get well. And if that girl loves you as she ought she'll wait for you years if need be ... And the expense of the wedding and all that ... O, I think it's an extravagant idea."

"I'll think about it, Mother."

"O, darling, I've got such a headache."

"Here comes Susan with your medicine, dear. That'll make you feel better."

Susan stood over her, showing her long teeth in a smile.

"Here's your tablet, mum, and I'm bringin' ye a cup of malted milk right away.

"Thank you, Susan," said Mrs. Macdougan with a wan frown. "And be sure to make it sweet enough. It was just horrid yesterday." Susan's eyes met Fanshaw's. She smiled tolerantly as she smoothed the grey hair back from the old woman's forehead.

* * * *

There was a Hellenic purity about the sunlight along the river that afternoon, Fanshaw was telling himself, something that made one think of Praxiteles and running grounds at Olympia. The stadium in the distance across the meadows and the white bodies of the rowers in the shells stretching and contracting to the bark of the coxswains stood out like the reliefs on a temple against the azure and silver sheen of the sky and the river. From some birches by the river the notes of a song sparrow tumbled glittering. On the wind came an indefinable mushroom-scent of spring. Fanshaw's mind was full of suave visions of the future that evolved rosily like slow highpiled clouds. He would get a scholarship from the department on which they might live in Italy for a year. Extra money might be made appraising and attributing things for some art dealer. There would be Spain and Greece and North Africa. Magazine articles might appear about pictures and places. They could get a villa somewhere with lemon trees near the sea, breakfast in the morning leaning over the balustrade watching the bronzelimbed fishermen draw their boats up on the beach below; long strolls in the moonlight through overgrown gardens of myrtle and cypress, and Nan, dressed as she had been that night at the Logans (she would always dress that way—like a Renaissance princess), in his arms, silken and shuddering.

Fanshaw felt himself flush as he walked with slow strides along the turf by the river.

And Wenny had loved Nan. Perhaps it was through his death they had been brought together. The ways of destiny, Fuerza del Destino, by Verdi. Perhaps they could afford an apartment in one of these places by the river. The Strathcona. Fun it would be decorating it. And Wenny had loved her. That's how I felt towards him, I suppose. No harm, now that he's dead. This afternoon the Attic gleam of rowers in the sun, swallows circling in a blue sky glittering as with mica; if I could paint I would do him against such a background, hair curling crisp about his eager narrow forehead, eyes laughing, lips winesmudged and full, brownly naked like the Bacchus in that picture by Velasquez, defying the world.

Fanshaw was twirling some pink clover blossoms between his fingers, occasionally sniffing at them. The sense of Wenny's presence became suddenly intense to him, as if he could feel the hard muscle of Wenny's shoulder against his arm, as when they had walked together. He closed his eyes for dizziness.

He opened his eyes and looked about him. Round a bend in the river at the end of a silvery blue reach was a bridge and beyond the fantastic pile of the Abattoir with its tall bottle-shaped chimney. A rough smell of singed hides came down the wind. Fanshaw turned into a path up the hill towards a shrubbery behind which showed the crowded obelisks and crosses of the cemetery, crossed a wooden bar and found himself wandering among neatly laid off grass plots and gravestones with the dust of the stone cutting still on them. He passed a mock orange in bloom and remembered how he used to breathe deep the fragrance from the bush at the corner of his mother's lawn in Omaha until he almost swooned from it. That fancy that Wenny had once had that all the tombstones ought to be effaced and cemeteries turned into amusement parks with dancehalls and rollercoasters and toodling calliopes. There was a smell of lilacs ... When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed. Perhaps that was what had made Wenny say that the smell of lilacs made him think of death. Then he was staring at the newest stone:


The Rev. Wendell, as Nan called him, had thought the Latin was appropriate to a scholar. On the reddish mound new grass fine as hair was sprouting. How little any of it had to do with Wenny. On the next grave a stalk of frail paper-white Madonna lilies trembled in the wind. It was in the time of lilies Pico della Mirandola had come to Florence and in the time of lilies he died, having failed in his great work of reconciling Christ and Apollo. Wenny would have been like that. O, if more people had only known him, if he had lived where there was an atmosphere of accomplishment instead of futility, his name might have rung like Pico's to the last syllable of recorded time.

"How do you do, sir?" came a wheezy voice from behind Fanshaw's back; he turned and found an old man with a pert, wizened face in blue cap and uniform standing beside him.

"A friend o' the party buried there, ain't you?" went on the old man.

"Why, yes, I am."

"I thought I'd recognized ye from the funeral," said the old man brightening up. "I guess you'll be a-noticin' that they's been tramplin' an' settin' on it."

"How frightful! No, I hadn't noticed it. But who would do such a thing?"

"O, they don't mean no harm by it. You see there ain't lights here."

"You don't mean they are body snatchers?"

"Lord no ... It's just young folks. You see, the watchman just can't make his rounds fast enough to keep 'em from grassin' ... 'Ticularly in the spring. It'ld fair surprise ye to see the mashin' and the spoonin' that goes on in the most high-class cemeteries. Yessiree, it'ld fair surprise ye."

"But how do they get in?"

"How did you get in? Ain't no fence at this end."

"You mean they come and make love in the cemetery?"

The old man looked up sideways at Fanshaw and gave a wrinkled wink.

"There's nothin' they don't do, I'm tellin' ye. Worse than the canoes in Norumbega Park for barefaced grassin'. Listen to what happened last night. You know that there tower atop o' the hill? Well, we always lock it up tight, but last night the watchman forgot to, and when the patrolman made his round at 'bout midnight he heard 'em agigglin' and carryin' on up in the tower and found the door was open, an' he went up with his lantern... And they wasn't a bit ashamed or mortified... They just laughed, the fellers and the girls, when he ran 'em out of there ... I don't know what young folks are comin' to in this day an' age ... And they wasn't furriners neither."

"How extraordinary," said Fanshaw as he walked away. He looked at his watch. Three o'clock; Nan would have finished practicing. He walked fast for fear the old man would catch up and talk to him again. Nasty old face, he had. And yet Nan and I, and Wenny, whom we loved, dead. Everywhere love springing like hair-fine grass to obliterate the new graves. O, the pitiful cycle of it. But life would be so unsatisfactory without her. Mother's voice, her wrinkled face yellow and limp against the pillow under the pompadour that was always a little crooked and showed the black coarse hair of the rat: And later, Fanshaw, dearest, when you've made yourself a lovely, beautiful career, you'll probably marry some sweet, homey girl and settle down and be a comfort to me. Probably Mother was right. There comes a time when you can't go on living alone any longer. Of course a quiet retreat with books one would always have to have. And with Nan's passionate interest in her music there would not be any difficulty in that. And then to let oneself go. At last someone with whom I can let myself go.

He was waiting outside the pompous wrought iron gates of the cemetery for a streetcar. He climbed on a half empty car and watched the people straggle in as it drew near to the subway entrance. There were old women with spiteful lips and peevish, shifty eyes, flashy young men in checked caps, lanternjawed girls, sallow, seedy fathers of families. Once, after a long argument, he had asked Wenny: But what do you want? and Wenny had looked round the car with eager eyes and said: Not to be myself, I guess, to be anybody, any one of those people but myself. In the subway Fanshaw looked, furtively so that they should not notice him, from face to face, noting the tired skin round their eyes. Comes from drudgery in offices and factories, he was telling himself, always regimented, under orders, and then, in the evening the sudden little spurt of human brilliance, shopgirls and little clerks and ditchdiggers walking merrily through twilight streets. Tremont before theatre time, or at six o'clock with the dome of the State House glowing through dusky trees. Then the night; mystery of doorways, gangs of boys loafing sullenly under arclights at corners, grassing in the cemetery, furtive loves over newlydug graves, always afraid of the policeman striding slowly down his beat; electric signs and burlesque shows, Pretty Girls Upstairs, lumpy women, stuffed in pink tights, twitching lewdly at the end of a smoke-rancid hall ... We can do better than that, Nan and I, escape all this grinding ugliness, make ourselves a garden walled against it all, shutting out all this garish lockstep travesty of civilization. Land where it is always afternoon. Afternoons reading on the balcony of a palace in Venice, vague splendors, relics from the Doges, Aretino, Titian, and Nan with her hair brushed back from her forehead, in a brocaded dress like a Florentine princess on a casone.

Park Street. Fanshaw got to his feet and shuffled in a jostling stream of people out the car.

* * * *

Nan had been playing Pelleas. Fanshaw sat looking out of the window into the glassy twilight in which a few stars already shimmered like bubbles ready to burst. The music and the incredible fresh green of the leaves in the darkening Fenway had brought on a mood of queer sensibility, so that he felt very happy and almost on the verge of tears. He got to his feet and walked over to the piano, where he stood awkwardly watching Nan's long fingers flash across the keys. Then he took her gently by the shoulders and said:

"Come and look at the twilight ... It's unbearably poignant, this violence of spring."

They stood side by side in the window looking out at the darkening trees.

"Nan, it'll be rather fun, won't it, setting up a ménage? And think how delightfully absurd the wedding will be and all that."

"Yes, I think it'll be fun. Will your mother hate me dreadfully?"

"Poor mother, she's like a child. She'll get used to you and be fearfully attached to you in no time."

"We must keep our liberty and our work, Fanshaw, whatever we do."

Fanshaw was startled by the tenseness in her voice. There was a hollow look about her cheeks he had never noticed before.

"Do you know," Nan was saying, "I'm rather frightened about my music tonight. I mean the divine fire, the power to let oneself go, to rule imperiously an instrument and an audience ... But I'm dreadfully determined. You won't go back on me, will you?"

"What a funny question."

"But why are we talking in this stilted way, already under the shadow of the holy institution ... We've known each other long enough to get married without a quiver, I should say."

"Perhaps it is that we've put on so many brakes in our time, that it's a little difficult to take them off now we want to," drawled Fanshaw with a wan smile.

Nan laughed excitedly. Fanshaw had put an arm around her shoulder. He felt her body stiffening against his.

"Fanshaw," she said in a changed voice, "do you see that star?"

"L'étoile du berger."

Above the dark roof of the apartment house across the park a star hovered green and trembling like jelly. They watched it in silence. Nan turned her face up quickly towards Fanshaw's in sudden passionate hunger. He folded her in his arms and kissed her lips lightly. With her head against his chest and her body rigid in his arms he stared out across her tumbled hair as the star sank flickering out of sight. He was trembling. He was full of swift shudders of foreboding. He bent his head to kiss her hair.

She tore herself away from him and threw herself sobbing into the armchair.

"Fanshaw, I can't ... I can't do it. It's all false," she was crying in a thin choked voice.

Fanshaw was standing stiffly in front of her. He felt desperately cold and tired.

"Nan, this is horrible ... Pull yourself together."

She turned to him a twisted face wet with tears.

"No, go away for the present ... Leave me alone."

She slipped to the floor and lay with her head on the blue velvet seat of the chair, her sandy hair undone, her body shaken with sobs.

In a curious maze of pain Fanshaw walked down the apartment house steps. Through spring-reeking streets, full of laughs and flower-scents and flushed cheeks and kidding voices of boys and girls arm in arm, he walked with long, sedate steps home.


There was a dark scattering of people through the beehive-shaped yellowshot emptiness of the Boston Theatre. On the stage in white dresses against red draperies the ladies' orchestra played the overture to Light Cavalry, violin bows sawing in unison, cheeks puffed out at trumpets, drumsticks dancing. In front stood the conductress in a neat tailored suit waving her arms discreetly. Nan sat in on the aisle with her little black hat topping some packages on the seat beside her, looking at the conductress's white gloves, thinking bitterly of suffragettes setting bombs under Asquith in London while the shiny glib marchtime of the music made her remember Balaklava and her spine going cold as she read: Into the valley of death charged the six hundred. How was it things she read never thrilled her now like that? Rights for Women ought to excite her as much as that silly antiquated poem. The music had stopped; two women in front of her were talking about the cretons at Jordan Marsh's. Let's see, had she bought the lace for the V, the ruching Miss Spence wanted, that blue crepe de chine, the buttons? She'd make sure on her list anyway after she'd picked up Fitzie. Fine it would be, if Miss Spence could finish it in time for Aunt M.'s tomorrow night. All those old people put her on her mettle; they'd think the brightness of it daring, bleared eyes watching her as she stood straight in tight royal blue, a gleam of red caught into her hair out of the violin. She had to affirm her separateness from poor dear Aunt M. and her friends. The orchestra was playing selections from The Tales of Hoffman which set Nan remembering being in Paris with Gertrude Fagan, the smell of tea and pastry through the foggy tang of the air on the rue Cambon, shopping, jumping in and out of cabs with silky things in tissue paper packages, hotel François Choiseuil and the two of them giggling together in the evening beside a pink shade over sole with wine sauce. If it had been Wenny in Gertrude's place; the thought set her blood seething. But I have you, my love: the word fluttered in her throat. She moistened her dry lips with her tongue. The music had stopped.

Nan looked about her restlessly. On the stage she could see Fitzie among the violins, next to a tall redhaired girl. That was where the other girl, Mabel something, used to stand last year, the girl who ran away with the flushfaced boy Fitzie told about, with bright teeth, the Italian who looked like a young Greek god, like Wenny perhaps. And he was dead. In all these months she should have got used to his being dead, but still when she thought of him she had to tell herself quickly he was dead, to escape the horrible pain of thinking of him, wishing him alive. Or did that all mean there was no death, that he was utterly surrendered to her. Fitzie 'ld say that, poor lonely Fitzie. Dull program it was this afternoon; a dismal ending for all that work and hysterical eagerness up at the conservatory, a lady 'celloist in the Fadettes.

Nan began to listen to the music again. They were playing the march from The Twilight of the Gods over-solemnly. The conductress brought down her baton for the last time. People got to their feet. The lights went on. Nan was adjusting her hat with two hatpins in her mouth. Had she got all her packages? She walked out slowly into the crimson sunset light of Washington Street, and round through a cold swirl of dustladen wind to the stage door. The women of the orchestra were coming out, short women in highcollared shirtwaists, a tall girl with high cheekbones and yellow hair, two stout women with glasses both rippling with the same laughter, the harpist, a consumptive-looking girl with white, drooping face and blue rings under her eyes; then Fitzie walking with jerky little steps, pigeonbreasted.

"O Nancibel, how sweet of you to wait... I'd just decided you wouldn't."

"Why should you think that?"

"O I don't know. I guess I must think sometimes that you're a little upstage, dear; simply horrid of me and I don't mean it a bit. Maybe it's that anybody who didn't know you would feel that you were a little, just the weenciest bit."

"I don't think I am, Fitzie."

They were drifting up the street in a compact stream of people like on a moving platform. Nan looked from face to face that passed her in a chilly flutter of expectation. She knew that before long she would see a man she would think was Wenny. What was this tremor that went through the procession of faces at sunset time, browned them, put blood in their lips, sparkle in their eyes, so that suddenly, as if dolls should come to life she would feel that she was going to meet Wenny. Dreading the pain of it, she tried to forget herself in Fitzie's shrill gossip of how the harpist had sauced the conductress and would have been fired except that she was such a good player and she'd only had to apologize and everybody had been in a dreadful temper and they'd played the Götterdämmerung piece much too slowly. So they reached Park Street.

"Fitzie, suppose we have tea at my place. D'you mind? I want to get there before Miss Spence goes away."

"It'll be charming, and is the dress finished, the blue satin? You will let me see it, won't you? I so love looking at lovely dresses the way I liked fairy tales when I was little. Even if I can't have them ..."

"There's nothing very fabulous about this one."

"O, you're so lucky, Nancibel, to be able to afford lovely dresses."

Nan thought of the dresses of the women in the Fadettes, angular, with the restlessness of bargain counters, fussily trimmed. It's not the money, she told herself, it's knowing what to wear.

"Is Mr. Macdougan back from Europe yet?" asked Fitzie with downcast eyes once they had settled themselves in the streetcar.

"Yes, he's back," said Nan drily. The car ground rattling round a corner in the tunnel and climbed out into the shattered dusk of the street. Nan had a glimpse of lights among the trees of the Public Garden. She narrowed her eyes to see the people along the pavements moving dark against the filmy brightness of shopwindows.

"Nancibel," said Fitzie after a pause, "I was so sorry about that ... when it happened."

"When what happened?"

"You know what I mean, dear ... Like Billy and me, you know."

"How absurd. I was never engaged to Fanshaw. Can't you people understand that a man and a woman can be friends? All this sentimental tommyrot makes me furious."

"It isn't that, dear. You shouldn't say such things, Nancibel, love is so beautiful."

Nan did not answer. She was thinking of Wenny bursting into her room that spring morning, how the flame of him had frozen her into a helpless clicking automaton, and when he had gone she had watched him from the window rush across the street and all the rigid life had gone out of her so that she lay with her head on the windowledge and looked at the empty snowpiled street ... agony not beauty that was.

Art Museum, called out the conductor. They alighted and walked slowly along past the pompous marble oblong of the dental clinic.

"O, Nancibel, I'd forgotten to tell you," cried Fitzie, suddenly turning excitedly to Nan, "I've seen Mabel Worthington."

"The girl from the Fadettes, your friend who eloped?"

"Yes, and just imagine it, she's terribly successful."

"What at?"

"Why, I don't just know. She's living at the Vendome, just think of that. I think she's managing concert tours, and she's married and everything. Several of the girls have been to see her."

"So she married the boy she eloped with? The Italian you said was so good looking."

"No, she didn't ... That's what so queer. She's Mrs. Van Troppfer and her husband's a Dutchman."

Nan burst out laughing.

"How shriekingly funny."

The Swansea: the gilt letters slanted down the glass door. They were in the elevator that had a familiar heavy oilsmell. Nan was still laughing. Under her laughter she was pleased to be getting back to her apartment. All afternoon she had looked forward to seeing how far her dress would be along.

"O, how do you do, Miss Taylor. I was just going," came Miss Spence's voice from the bedroom. "Now I can try fitting ... It was such a lovely afternoon, too lovely for words for those who can afford to go out in it... O, how do you do, Miss Fitzhugh, you'll be able to tell us what you think of the dress ... If you don't mind, we can fit it right now, because I mustn't be home late this evening and the cars are so crowded." Miss Spence was a little woman who talked continually, her mouth bristling with pins, in an even whiny voice; her hands were all the time darting about in front of her like lizards.

"What a beautiful blue," Fitzie was saying. "O, my dear, what a treat to see it fitted."

"Too lovely for words," echoed Miss Spence.

"It must have cost an enormous lot."

"Nonsense ... Fitzie, d'you mind putting some water to boil in the kitchenette ... When do you think you can have it ready, Miss Spence?"

"O, dear, now let me think; would day after tomorrow do?"

"But I want to wear it to dinner tomorrow. My aunt is giving one of her musical evenings."

"O, how lovely that must be. O, I must try." Miss Spence's little hands fluttered up and down the satiny front of the dress. "How about length?"

"Stunning, stunning!" cried Fitzie, who had come back from the kitchenette. "A wonderful concert gown it would make."

"Do you think so?" said Nan and felt a warm glow suffuse her whole being, so that she could not help throwing back her head a little and straightening her shoulders.

"Too lovely for words," whined Miss Spence through the pins in her mouth, standing back against the wall to look.

"I seem to remember having heard Phillips Brooks say once," Aunt M. was saying, "that a meal without fellowship was almost an enormity. It's so true. As one grows older, Nancibel, one has to eat so many lonely, tasteless meals."

Nan looked at her aunt across the round primly set table, where the four candles under their silver shades cast an uncertain creamy light on the starched cloth and gave forks and spoons and plates blue uncertain shadows.

"But I find it rather pleasant to have a meal alone now and then ... It gives me a chance to collect my thoughts."

Aunt M. was lifting a cup of cocoa to her lips, carefully like a child; she smiled wryly and said with a glint from the candles in her eyes:

"Because you can have company whenever you want. Nobody wants very much to have supper with an old woman like me."

"Why, Aunt M., you know I love to talk to you this way. The only reason I don't come oftener is that I'm so busy nowadays." Nan's fingers on her lap were tapping nervously against her knee.

"Of course, of course, dear, I understand. With your music and everything. I used to be very busy, too, and even now I'm not idle, am I?"

"I should say not."

"And then, watching your career, Nancibel, dear, I live over my own life. Think of it, dear, when I was young in those years after the rebellion ... Mary Ann, Miss Taylor will take her coffee in the other room."


Aunt M. got to her feet, brushing a few crumbs off her silk dress and went through the portieres into the parlor. Nan glanced at herself in the mirror over the mantel as she followed. How pale I look tonight, she thought.

"When I was young in those years after the rebellion, Boston was a very busy place. And we were all so sanguine for the future. But now, even if I were strong enough, I would go out very little. It all seems so strange and ugly to me. And where is it going, this hideous chase after money?"

"I find a sort of splendor in it," said Nan brutally. They sat side by side on the curvebacked sofa, Nan with a small coffee cup in one hand.

"I'm happier indoors. But even here there's no real peace. The traffic on Beacon Street is so distressing."

"Marblehead would be a nice place to live."

"O, no, you wouldn't have me leave this house, would you, Nancibel, dear? This is my home. Do you remember in Mr. Emerson's poem..."

Why seek Italy?
Who cannot circumnavigate the sea
Of thoughts and things at home?

"I feel that way about this house. Why since I lived in my mother's house I haven't lived anywhere else. How well I remember the first excitement of having a home of my own."

"When was that, Aunt M.?"

"I have never told you, have I? It was after I decided I would never marry." Aunt M. paused. Mary Ann rustled in to take the tray of coffee things.

"Anything else tonight, mum?"

"No, I won't need anything more. Good night, Mary Ann."

"Good night, mum."

"Nan, it's a long time since you brought Mr. Macdougan in to see me."

"He's very busy this year. He's giving a course of his own."

"A very clever young man, Nancibel ... But I was telling you about the events that led up to my taking this house. It was something very near to me, which I have told to very few."

Aunt M. turned towards Nan and let her voice drop to a shaky whisper. Her eyes seemed strangely large and young and tremulous, staring out of the yellow wrinkled face.

"I had engaged myself when very young—we were more precocious in those days—to a youth of good family and connections. You've even met him, but I shall not tell you who he is. We decided to wait several years before marrying, and in the meantime there was not a dance or party in Boston suitable to a young girl where I was not to be found merry with the merriest."

People in crinolines bowing low and dancing to waltzes by Auber; our generation is different from that. We count more. Music welling out from the broken moulds of old customs. We are really breaking away seeking something genuine; true culture. Aunt M. wouldn't believe if I tried to explain.

"One night at a dance on Beacon Hill I was much struck by the appearance of a young man. I'd never seen any one so handsome before and to this day I have never seen the like of him ... Nancibel, I'm getting old. A year ago, even, I don't think I would have been able to tell you all this without my heart fluttering ... You are a dear girl to listen so attentively to your poor old aunt's reminiscences. Don't let me forget to go up to bed the minute the clock strikes ten."

They were sitting side by side on the curvebacked sofa. The old woman had snuggled close to Nan and held her hand like a child listening to a ghost story. Nan's glance roamed nervously about the room. For a long while she stared at her Aunt's hand that lay pudgy and freckled, with swollen knuckles, in her slender white hand.

"He was an Englishman named Verrey, though his skin was so dark everyone thought him an Italian. He paid court to me more charmingly than you can imagine. Every day of my life he sent me a great bunch of Malmaison roses. Without telling anyone, I broke off my engagement. Mother was dreadfully uneasy about me, and all the family hated young Verrey because he looked so foreign. I was nearly ill about him. O, Nancibel, you can't imagine how wonderful he was, so dashing and chivalrous. And so it kept up. I stopped going out and used to spend all day in my room thinking of him. My father forbade him the house, so that the only way I had of communicating with him was that a certain time each day I used to come to the window and he would walk slowly up and down the street in front of the house. I thought I'd cry my eyes out, he looked so sad and dejected. Then, to make a long story short, he came to see me one day when I was alone in the house. He was so perturbed he could hardly speak. He said I must run away with him instantly or he'd go mad with love of me. He tried to kiss me. It was terrible. I ordered him out of the house and I never saw him again. But I was awfully ill. Several days after I went to bed with brain fever. For weeks they despaired of saving me."

Nan was pressing her aunt's hand hard.

"And then?"

"Nothing. When I got well, nothing seemed to matter much. Convalescence has that effect. From that day to this I've never been able to abide the smell of roses. But, my dear, I must go up to bed. I feel badly all day if I don't get my proper sleep ... Forgive my boring you with these old women's stories. We were very silly when I was a girl. How out of date I must seem to a generation brought up on Ibsen's plays."

"Yes, our ideas are a little different nowadays," said Nan.

Outside the streetlights sparkled diamond-hard in a clear wind. Nan walked fast, her thoughts desperately tumultuous. The keen October air and the clatter of her heels on the empty pavement of Beacon Street were a relief after the senile stuffiness of her aunt's parlor. And I will be like that, spending my life explaining why I didn't dare live. No! No! Poor Aunt M. had nothing to fall back on. I have my music, my career, my sense of humor; it's not as if I were helpless before things like Fitzie. And she remembered how she'd stood at the piano the other night in that closefitting dress of royal blue satin and felt their eyes on her, and felt light coming into the bleary eyes of old people as she played to them.

She had reached Massachusetts Avenue where the pavements were full of people coming out of the moving-picture theatres, standing in knots on the corner waiting for streetcars. For a moment she was caught up, elated, in the stream of windfreshened faces, bodies uncramping deliciously after the stiff seats of theatres. Her eyes ran thrillingly over faces that streamed past her, like her fingers over pianokeys. She walked fast, with exhilaration, until at a corner where she turned up past a drugstore, the curve of a cheek under a boy's mashed-down felt hat, full lips laughing, made her stop still suddenly. Dizzy blackness welled up through her. She stood panting on the corner. Whites of eyes, heads jerked towards her, puzzled looks as people passed. She walked back and forth in front of the drugstore. A hallucination, of course. But could she have seen him? Before she knew it she had called out: "Wenny!" People were looking at her. She walked hurriedly up the dark street, breathless, running away from them. She spun in the grip of a horrible nausea.

* * * *

"Why, Confucius looks sleeker than ever, Nan," said Fanshaw, and ran the tips of his fingers round the big blue teapot. They sat in the open window looking out at the misty russet trees of the Fenway, with the teatable between them.

"He never goes hungry, or rather thirsty."

"Imagine this weather for the end of October ... St. Martin's summer."

"That's a nice name for it."

"Nicer than ours. Indian summer always makes me think of Hiawatha."

A sound of pounding and spades cutting gravel came up from the street below. Nan watched the blue backs of three laborers bend and straighten, bend and straighten as they worked in a hole in the street. A man in a black felt hat with a corncob pipe stuck in his beet face stood over them.

"Curious for them to be tearing up the street at this time of the year," said Fanshaw, languidly.

"Our watermain burst. There wasn't a drop of water in the house this morning."

"How awkward."

Nan did not hear him. One of the laborers had looked up. For a moment his eyes were black, shining into hers. O, but he can't really see me from down there. The face was lean brown between curly black hair and an unshaven chin. With an eager child's smile he raised a hand. As the hand fell she had a glimpse of a dark chest scooped in taut muscles towards the belly under his open blue shirt. He was again a blue back bending and straightening with the three other backs. Crazy fires danced through her.

"Yes, I had to go round to Gertrude Fagan's to wash." There was a dead veil between her and Fanshaw.

"And how is the fiery Gertrude?"

"Very well."

"The last time I met that lady on the street she cut me dead ... I suppose she's too taken up with the world beyond to notice us terrestrial beings."

"Nonsense, Fanshaw, Gertrude's an awfully nice person ... You must have done something she didn't like. She's very easily offended."

"Do the spooks continue to flourish?"

"You mean her automatic writing. Well, what of it? You shouldn't scoff at things you don't understand."

"That's better than being awed by them, Nan."

"Anything more I can do for you, Miss?"

It was the Irish girl who came to clean. She stood in the shadow by the door with her hand at her sides. Pretty smiling lips.

"No, nothing tonight, Marion. I'm sorry I kept you so late today."

"That's all right. Good night, Miss."

Nan smiled warmly at her through the dusk of the room. At the end of the hall the door shut sharply.

"More tea, Fanshaw?"

"No, thanks."

While she poured a few drops of tea into her cup she glanced out the window again. Italians they were, probably, smelling of pipes and sweaty shirts and garlic. There's Marion. If I were Marion Reily instead of Nancibel Taylor ... to stroll along twilit streets with backward looks through the lashes; that boy'd rub the clay off his hands and follow me; kidding talk on park benches, fumbling work-rough hands, ditchdiggers' hands, hardmuscled arms crushing, moist hot lips bearing down, panting. The cold voice of Aunt M. when she was a little girl too excited at the circus: Careful, Nancibel, careful, Nancibel.

"But, Fanshaw," she was saying, straining to keep the tumult out of her voice, "suppose there were a life after death."

Fanshaw did not answer for a moment. She saw his eyes dusky grey, troubled. The straight line of his lips tightened. All this is me, smalltalk over teacups and polished hardwood floors and Fanshaw's drawling Harvardese. Marion's neat dark figure had gone off down the street with quick jerky steps. Nan looked back into the darkening room.

"Is there any reason to believe," Fanshaw was saying in a tone that arrested all her attention suddenly, "that people in the next life would be any less futile than people in this life? It's horrible to want to do way with death."

"How can you feel that way? It's all such fun," she said boisterously. So Fanshaw too ... She felt he was changing the subject.

"Coming back on the Baltic, Nan ... you should have seen Edgar. He blossomed into a regular society butterfly and actually forced me to play bridge with some dreadful girls named Van Ryn he dug up somewhere."

"New Yorkers?"


"Was the famous Mrs. Harry Van Ryn along?"

"Was she? You should have seen how she dressed! Might have thought it was the Lusitania. Her daughters were quieter than she was, and rather more intelligent, I must allow them that."

They were silent a while. Rosy afterglow flowed like water through the window.

"Where did you go besides Siena?"

"O, to Arezzo, Urbino, and then to Assissi and San Gimingiano."

"You wretch, stole a march on me ... And there I was up at Squirrel Island with Aunt M., bored to the ears. Never mind, I'll have my revenge some day."

Fitzie's Italian who smelt of garlic and looked like a young Greek god, dark face and a boy's full wistful smile. The gods were ever young and Mabel Worthington eloped with youth and married an elderly Dutchman for his money and lived at the Vendome.

Fanshaw was on his feet.

"Must you run away so soon?"

He nodded. Her cheerful social voice rang bitterly in her ears as she stood in the middle of the empty room. She was full of dull surprised pain like a disappointed child. So that's dead, she heard herself say. Am I growing old? Is everything going to die like that? Twenty-nine isn't old.

She switched on the light and took her violin. I can get in an hour's practice before getting ready to go to the Smithers ... O, I can't play. I'm too wretchedly nervous this afternoon. Perhaps Gertrude'll be in. She went to the phone in the hall to call the number. As she waited with the receiver against her ear, something made her remember Fitzie saying in her thrill excited whisper: And Salinski says you played as if you had a soul. Let's see, when was that? Think I've been in this apartment nearly four years, four years scraping on the fiddle. Gertrude doesn't answer. Tomorrow morning I must get hold of Fitzie. She promised to take me to see that girl. Quite exciting her career has been: the Fadettes and then that disreputable episode with the Italian. How much she must know about life! Probably decided she couldn't play or she wouldn't have gone into the agency business. Wonderful to cut loose the way she has. Fitzie says she comes from quite a good family out in Waltham.

Nan had put the teacups on the tray with the pot and was carrying them out into the kitchenette. O that wretched girl forgot the garbage. She took up the little zinc pail and put it on the dumbwaiter. I'll ask John to empty it as a special favor. While she stood pulling on the rope, gingerly so as not to dirty her hands, she heard loud laughter from one of the kitchens below. Wish I'd noticed more about the people living in this house; there must be some queer fish. She felt herself smiling. How shocked Aunt M. was when I told her where I'd taken an apartment. She washed the teacups and the pot and left them to dry in the rack beside the sink. When she opened the tin box to put the cake in, there came to her a familiar smell of stale bread and crackers. She dropped the lid sharply. Why do I go on doing these little things day after day? The indigestion of the little. A woman's life may always be that. O, I must know about other people's lives. Mabel Worthington, is her life just pots and pans and combs and nailfiles and doilies? She went into her bedroom. Only half-past six by the little porcelain clock on the mantel, a whole hour before I need be at the Smithers. She lifted the shade and peered down into the blue darkness of the street. The workmen had gone. Under the lamppost she could see the patched place they had left. She let herself sink into a chair and remained a long while looking out the window with the shade between her and her room. Occasionally a man or woman walked past from the direction of Huntington Avenue. On their way home to dinner. Endless family tables, and other tables, kept women pouring out champagne for fashionably dressed men, the fast set. Women throwing back their heads and laughing through the smoke of their cigarettes. Perhaps that's how Mabel Worthington would be, with high-piled hair bleached with peroxide and a whisky voice. If I were like that dining tonight with Wenny among cocktails and offcolor stories. The Back Bay siren. She shuddered and threw open the window. Fog was coming in, blurring the streetlights. He always loved the fog. Perhaps once more out of the streaming faces and the clicking feet, his funny shambling walk, his hands, ditchdiggers' hands, the hair curling crisply about his forehead the way it curled on foggy nights.... As the fog thickened the people passing under the window became shadowy and the sound of their steps dull and muffled.

Behind her in the room the clock struck seven silvery discreet little strokes. Nan jumped guiltily to her feet. She must dress. As she arranged her hair she wondered if she should take her violin. They'd be sure to ask her to play, but perhaps it would impress them more if she said she had forgotten it.

* * * *

"Perhaps it's suede you wanted, Miss," said the thin blonde saleslady, narrowing her eyes as she leaned towards Nan across the counter.

"The material doesn't matter a bit. It's a certain color I'm looking for, can't you understand?" said Nan peevishly. She held herself in and said again firmly in her natural voice: "A warm pearl grey."

Nan was very tired. The late afternoon bustle of the department store and the atmosphere of perfumes and women's furs and breathedout air and the close smell of fabrics were almost unbearable. She had been shopping all afternoon so that her legs ached and she had a faint pain between her eyes. While the woman went off for a new box of gloves, Nan stared dully at the holly-wreathed sign above the counter: Do Your Christmas Shopping Early. Her eyes followed the wearisome curlicues of the gothic capitals.

"Here you are, Miss," said the saleslady, with a desperate attempt at sprightliness in her voice.

"That's it," said Nan. She found herself looking in the white face of the saleslady, itself a little like wrinkled kid. "Busy time this must be for you."

"Busy! No time to breathe."

"I don't see how you do it."

"Don't think about it. Only way. Never think about things," said the saleslady, breathlessly writing out the slip.

Nan found herself drifting down the aisle of the store, a package added to those under her arm and stuffed into her bag, among fat jostling women and angular women with disapproving lips and small tired women with saggy eyes; she glanced in the waxen face under slimy hair of a floorwalker, tried ineffectually to approach the notions counter and at last found herself looking at the clock beside the elevator. Half-past four, time to meet Fitzie at the tearoom. The elevator smelt of oil, heavy like castor oil. Was it her mother's voice, or some governess's out of her childhood: Now, Nancibel, if you can't be more ladylike you'll have to take some castor oil? How tired she was this afternoon. Silly to come shopping in the afternoon so near the Christmas season.

Christmas comes but once a year.
Let us laugh and have good cheer,
La la dee dee, la la dee dee.

Beyond nodding cherries in a grey woman's hat, the face of the elevator man, black face with an ivory grin, and his suave negro voice announcing: Mezzanine Floor: Ladies' and Misses' garments and imported lingerie, Ladies' and Misses' hats and footwear. Way back, please ... Second Floor: Men's and Boys' clothes, ready and custom made, sporting goods; Men's and Boys' haberdashery and footwear. Let the lady out, please ... Third Floor: House furnishings, rugs, verandah furniture and imported goods ... At the top floor Nan stumbled out of the elevator and had to sit down on the bench in front of it, she was so tired. She counted over the little packages on her lap. That's right, I haven't lost anything.

"Nan, it's all fixed."

Fitzie, in a red hat with a feather, popped out of the soggy mass of women in the elevator crisp and bristling with excitement. She sat down beside Nan on the bench.

"My dear, you look a sight; you must be dreadfully tired. Never mind, some tea'll freshen you up famously.... But it's all fixed about our tour."

"You mean the orchestra?"

"Of course, Nancibel. We open next Monday in Montreal."

"It'll be dreadfully cold up there, I should think."

"But think, dearest, how wonderful! I've never traveled in my life before. We'll go all the way out to the Coast, San Francisco and all that."

"Fitzie, before you go we mustn't forget to call on Mabel Worthington. I'm very curious to meet her."

"O, we will, but let's get a table before they are all snapped up. I'm perishing."

The waitress had pretty brown eyes. She can't be more than eighteen, thought Nan as they sat down. Eleven years younger than I am. What happens in eleven years! Nothing. Everything. A mere kid Wenny would have been eleven years ago, inky-fingered curlypated schoolboy.

"And how's your aunt?" Fitzie was asking.

"I'm rather worried about her ... Poor Aunt M. hasn't been a bit well this last month. I've been trying to get her to go south."

"I should think Florida 'ld be just the thing."

"She's afraid she'd be lonely."

"Why don't you go with her?"

"But my music, Fitzie! I can't afford to lose a whole winter at this stage of the game, and Salinski's promised me some extra hours."

"O, I see."

Nan frowned.

"You don't mean you think I ought to give up everything and go, do you?"

"Of course not, but the conflict between one's love for one's family and one's wanting a career is sometimes dreadful, positively dreadful ... Of course, it's none of my business and I shan't say anything one way or the other."

"But what tommyrot ... You know perfectly well how I feel about my career."

"Of course, dear, of course," said Fitzie nibbling at a piece of toast. "You'll be interested in what Mabel has to say about that. She's made more of a career than any of the girls in our time at the Conservatory."

"I don't mean quite that by career," said Nan laughing.

"Of course not, you are much too wellbred, dearest ... But could you go tomorrow?"

"Not tomorrow ... But, how about Saturday?"

Nan gulped down a cup of weak milky tea with relief. The chatter at the tables round about and the smothered selection from the Arcadians out of the victrola in the corner of the tearoom sucked all the remaining energy out of her so that she sat limp, staring at her friend's new red hat. Utterly ridiculous, like a redbird, she was thinking.

"Why not tomorrow?" insisted Fitzie. "I shall be dreadfully busy Saturday. It'll be my last useful day. We leave Sunday night. Isn't it too wonderful! Think of the places I'll see and the people I'll meet and everything ... Of course it'll be exhausting too."

"I almost wish I were going with you."

"But you can't have engagements all day tomorrow, Nancibel."

"I'm going to stay in the house tomorrow."

"O, you poor dear!" Fitzie leaned over and patted Nan's hand. "That's quite all right. Of course, I understand. Of course, we'll go Saturday."

Nan winced. She felt a sudden rage against all this womanish chatter and chirping talk. The smell of women, perfume, furs, dry goods was choking her. I must get out of here.

"Walk with me to the Touraine, Fitzie. I'm going home in a taxi."

"You extravagant thing. But I simply can't. I've got so much to do ... preparations for departure."

"And that Worthington girl?" asked Nan in a carefully offhand voice as they were going down in the packed elevator.

"O, I'll call her up and make a date. She's always in at teatime. Shall I phone you, dear?"

"Yes, do." Fitzie's short pigeon-breasted figure was caught into the stream of women down the main aisle of the store, over which the arcs hovered like big lilac-white balloons. A last glimpse of the red hat. O, I should have spoken of it; she'll be offended. But such a sight ... The revolving doors swung Nan out on to the pavement, where the air was cold and hard. The signs down Washington Street brandished metallic facets of light. The crowd streamed endlessly dark against the motionlessness of the wide windows of stores. From automobiles moving in compact opposed streams came the rasp of racing motors and a smell of scorched gasoline. Nan made her way slowly through a barbed painful tunnel of light and noise and cold. With a little sigh she sank back into the springy seat of the taxi and let the packages slip out of her hands. There was a musty smell about it that brought up childish dreams of elegance. That picture eternally repeated in the movies of the elegantly gloved heroine stepping into her limousine. To arrive that way stately at the side doors of concert halls, to be handed out by sleekhaired men in frock coats, to stand a moment waiting in a long tightfitting dress of royal blue, her violin in one hand, a smell of roses about her, and from everywhere the terrible dizzy murmur of the waiting audience. Had Mabel Worthington attained all that already? Why, she can't even play, all she's done has been to flaunt her sex. She must be a veritable harlot. I must see her to find out.

They were turning the corner out of Massachusetts Avenue. Nan tapped suddenly on the window.

"I want to stop at that fruit store ... That's right."

"All right, Miss," said the driver smiling. He was a pertlooking young man with a red face and a horseshoe scarf pin.

Why am I so timid? I have personality as much as the next girl, she was thinking as warmed by the young man's smile she wandered about the fruit store trying to decide what to buy. At last she lit on some pears. While the Greek, a sallow man with a long nose and close-cropped hair, was putting them in a bag, she spied some Japanese persimmons in a box. "O, I must have some of those for the color."

"They are mighty good ... sweet as honey," said the Greek.

"At last!" she muttered, closing her eyes with a little sigh when, having paid off the taxi, she stood in the elevator of the Swansea. As she let the packages slide from her arms into the armchair in the living room, she felt a crushing sense of loneliness. She poured the orangered persimmons into a blue bowl on the teatable. How beautiful they are. If I only had someone to show them to. She threw herself into a bustle of preparations for supper. She lit two burners in the kitchenette. Toast and boiled eggs and then I'll go to bed with a book. The usualness of the smell of the gas-burners and boiling water and toast oppressed her. Was she going to spend all her life puttering about that miserable kitchenette? If I were at Aunt M.'s in the little room I had when I was a child it would be cosy to be made a fuss over and have breakfast brought up to me in bed by Mary Ann in the morning.

After supper she remembered she hadn't looked at the letters she had brought up from the mailbox. One from Salinski, what on earth?

Dear Miss Taylor:

It is with infinite regret that I must announce to you that on account of great and pressing business I shall be forced to omit your next three lessons, making our following engagement for January 26....

I know what that means. He's losing interest in me. He can't treat me like that. I'll phone him. He has no right not to explain what he means.

She went to the phone and jerked off the receiver. Then she put it back weakly and burst into tears. O, I'm all distraught this evening. How horribly silly. I'll go to bed and read.

Once in bed, in her white bedroom, with the reading light over her shoulder and the rest of the room in cosy shadow and the persimmons in their blue bowl on a chair within reach, she began to feel calmer. She lay a long while staring at the ceiling with Locke's Beloved Vagabond unopened in her hand. Is it just that I'm feeling low this evening, or is everything crumbling, breaking down to let in the floods of platitude the way the noise of pianolas seeps in through apartment-house walls?

The persimmons glowed like lacquer. Sweet as honey, the Greek had said they were. Vermilion, the color, was more than red or orange. Was it Wenny or Fanshaw used to talk about how the three of them were like people out of another age lost in a grey swamp of dullness in their vermilion barge? Another age. If she'd lived in another age. The grandeur that was Rome. Decline and fall. What careers women had then. Dread career of adultery and crime. Messalina. Was it on the Pincian her gardens had been? Somewhere in Baedeker. Carried in a litter through howling streets, swinging above the torches and the black dripping backs of slaves with an arm about the neck of a young curlyhaired lover, long ringed fingers clasped about the hard muscle of his shoulder, into the walled gardens winy with the smell of overripe fruits sweet as honey. Great gates closing on streets full of crowds that shrieked challenging, mocking, Messalina. In the hush of the garden on the Pincian she and Wenny in each other's arms, with their lips touching, sweet as honey. Nan felt hot shudders go through her, her cheeks were fire. She pressed her dry eyes against the white cool linen of the pillow and lay on her face rocking to and fro. Then she jumped out of bed and began to walk about her narrow bedroom. She must go out.

From the apartment below came the sound of a piano and a man's nasal voice singing:

I know a spot where the sun is like gold
And the cherry blooms burst with snow.

Nan threw open the window and looked out into the empty street. Two cats, arched scuttling shadows, were circling about the lampost. The night was suddenly ripped with their caterwauling. Shivering with cold and disgust, Nan sat a long time in the chair by the window, her palms pressed against her hot tearless eyes. Down the street she heard from time to time the lovewail of a cat.

* * * *

A bellboy's brown back shiny with buttons preceded them down the dark red-carpeted hall. In spite of Nan's casual stroll beside Fitzie who walked with her face pushed forward eagerly and a smile ready on her lips, she felt strangely uneasy. I merely want to see what she's like, she said to herself, constricting her flutter of excitement as she constricted her wrists buttoning her tight kid gloves. Merely to observe. The boy knocked on a brown door at the end of the hall. Nan could feel her heart pumping.

"Come!" The voice was deep, throaty under velvet. The room was bright, wide, looped salmon colored curtains, brisk air with a smell of flowers, freesias. The woman walked towards them, holding out a hand.

"Hello, Fitzie. Why, how splendid... I always wanted to meet you, Miss Taylor.... You see, I admired you from afar up at Jordan." Her hand was firm and cool. She had brown eyes, a skin flushed with olive, hair like ebony, and at the waist of a simply cut tuniclike black dress two small red chrysanthemums. "Do sit down. O it is good of you to have come."

As she sat down she spread out one arm along the top of the brocaded sofa. Above a long brown neck, Preraphaelite neck, poised a little pointed chin. Nan felt herself sitting stiffly with pursed lips. She let herself sink back in her chair.

"O Fitzie, I've heard about the tour. Isn't it great? I almost wish I were going along. Think of the squalling and squabbling there'll be; won't it be grand? It was funny enough going out to Worcester that time, but the grand continental tour of the embattled Fadettes'll be an unholy shriek."

There was a knock at the door. A waiter came in half hidden under a teatray balanced over one shoulder.

"Would either of you prefer a cocktail or a glass of port or something?"

"O no, tea will be just delicious," said Fitzie, shaking hastily the red feather of her hat.

"Nothing could be better than tea, Mrs. Van Troppfer," said Nan quietly.

"Did you know, Fitzie, I've given up the violin? After all this time, isn't it ridiculous?" The brown eyes were looking in Nan's, wide amused. "Yes, I'm afraid I'm a rolling stone, and certainly I shan't gather moss. Think how they'd be horrified up at the conservatory.... I'm going to try to sing again. You see, I always had wanted to sing and only took up the violin because I could get quicker money by it. Then I had mother to support."

"Really, I never knew that," said Fitzie, suspending a spoonful of pastry half way to her mouth.

"O families are a perpetual problem, aren't they?" said the Worthington girl, laughing.

Nan ate a cream cornucopia delicately, between sips of tea. The crisp pastry and the faint cheese flavor in the white cream made her think of Paris, station restaurants, and fogs and concerts.

"We are going abroad again in a week or two and I'm going to work like a Trojan ... try to strike while the iron's hot. You see, my husband and Hammerstein claim that I have a good stage presence and ought to take a whack at the Opera Comique. That's what the Fadettes did for me! I keep telling them that I'm too long-necked to be a singer ... but I guess I'll take a try at it. Maybe I'll have luck."

"Your husband must have great connections," said Fitzie in a humble tone.

"That won't do any good unless I manage to learn to sing, will it?" She turned laughing to Nan, "Do have a little more tea, I'm afraid I'm boring you with all my chatter.... I hear you are studying with Salinski, Miss Taylor. How do you find him? He knows the instrument all right, but it's difficult to hold him down, he's getting so social these days."

"Still if he's really interested in your work," Nan heard herself say.

"O, that's another thing ... He never was interested in me, I know that."

There was a knock at the door. "Come!" called the Worthington girl. The bellboy came in with a telegram on a plate.

"All right, bring it here; thanks."

It was a creamfaced boy with a snub nose. Nan watched a tense, adoring look come into his eyes as he put the plate within the Worthington girl's reach. That's how she does it. The boy left the room hurriedly, flushing as if her smile stung. With languid fingers she crumpled the telegram.

"You must excuse me," she said. "Isn't it wretched being in a hotel this way? They never give you any peace ... Did you ever study music in Paris, Miss Taylor?"

"No, only in Boston."

"I was wondering if they were as stupid over there about it as they are here. Isn't it hopeless?" She laughed happily, cuddling into the corner of the sofa and taking little bites out of a cream cornucopia. "Still, we'll see what turns up."

"Who are you studying with?"

"O, that's the great question ... It's really more difficult than getting married. I have to look them over and they have to look me over."

Nan began to put on her gloves.

"Must you go?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Then so must I," said Fitzie hastily. "It's been just lovely to see you, Mabel dear."

"I was hoping Van Troppfer would get in before you left.... He'll be disappointed not seeing you."

The Worthington girl went with them to the door. As they turned the corner of the red-carpeted hall Nan had a glimpse of her smiling at them from the half open door, tall and dark against a streak of light.

They walked down the stairs and out on the street in silence. Then Fitzie turned suddenly to Nan and said:

"Isn't she just wonderful?... Now you must tell me what you think of her. O, she's the girl who'll have a career."

"I suppose her vulgarity was to be expected. She wears her clothes beautifully, doesn't she?"

"Well, she always did do that. Everybody admitted her to be the best dressed girl in the orchestra."

"I wonder where she learned it?"

"I believe she came of a good family in reduced circumstances; that's all there is about it."

"Well, Fitzie, I'm going home. If I don't see you again before you go, here's wishing you all the luck in the world." Nan leant and kissed Fitzie on the cheek.

"You will write, won't you, dearie? I'll let you know the addresses."

"Of course, I will."

Nan walked fast down a cross street. What a relief to be alone. Shouldn't have left Fitzie so abruptly, but couldn't stand her chatter a moment longer. Silly to be so upset; what am I so upset about anyway? My nerves are jumpy as the dickens this winter. In a cold fury of dismay she walked home through the yellow twilight, her chin pressed into her fur neckpiece as she leaned against the wind that blew razorkeen down the long street that led to the Fenway and made her ears sting and her forehead ache. Muffled by closed windows, shattered by the gusty wind, there came to her from the houses on either hand wail and tinkle of music students doing their scales on piano and violin, growls of cellos, trilling of dramatic sopranos. Street of scales; they expect to climb into life up their scales like up ladders. She remembered savagely she hadn't practiced that day. And that Worthington girl, did she ever practice, did she work and contrive to get on, or was everything as easy to her as the bellboy's frightened blush under her smile? And this husband she had picked up, what could he be like? A short loud man in a checked suit probably, with a bulging red vest and a brown derby. I'm glad I didn't see him, men like that are too disgusting.

She dug her chin into her fur and battled furiously with the wind. If it'ld only snow it wouldn't be so cold. At length the letters spelling out The Swansea were dark against the light ahead of her, she was in the elevator, the key was clicking softly in the lock of her door. The homelike smell was soothing to her nostrils. Thank heavens, I left the heat on. Before taking off her hat and gloves she stood a moment in the window, her hands over the steampipes. The sky, beyond the hardetched tangle of branches of the Fenway and the purple cubes of the further apartment houses, was a wide empty yellow, chilling to green overhead. Nan felt its bitter emptiness like a rasp on a half-healed wound. With wincing lips she pulled down the shade and turned her back on the window.

That night she dreamed that she sat in the great yellowshot beehive of the Boston theatre and that Fanshaw sat on one side of her and Wenny on the other, both in evening dress, and she was a little girl in spotted calico with her hair in pigtails and on the stage was the orchestra of the Fadettes playing like mad and in front of them Mabel Worthington with her mouth open and her head thrown back and a sheet of music agitated in front of her and Nan kept turning to Wenny and to Fanshaw and saying: I can't hear a word, not a single word. Suddenly Wenny had slipped from her side and was in a taxi with his arms round the Worthington girl, kissing her, kissing her, and Nan was in another taxi driven by a young man with a red face and a diamond horseshoe in his tie and they were hurtling through red-flaring streets under a black sky, streets lined with faces staring and hands pointing and to all Nan's crying to them to tell her where he had gone there was no answer but hissing and stamping and catcalls.

Nan sat up in bed rubbing her forehead trying to remember what she had been dreaming. The glow of the street-light in her window was full of furtive padded movement. Snow.

* * * *

Nan closed the front door gently behind them.

"My, I'm glad to get in again," said Gertrude Fagan.

"Why, dear?"

"It's so horrible a night like this. I hate it all."

"What do you mean? But we'd better go up to my room. We'll wake Aunt M. if we sit down here, and it's so hard to get her to sleep again."

"I don't suppose she's much better, is she?" whispered Gertrude Fagan as they tiptoed up the heavily carpeted stairs. Nan winced when a board creaked on the second flight.

"No," she was whispering over her shoulder, "though there doesn't seem to be any danger of another stroke just at present. There doesn't seem to be any cure for the aphasia, though Doctor Smythe talks wisely enough about it ... Whew, it's hot in here."

Nan went to the window without turning on the light and pushed it up hard. A heavy scent of lilacs came in off the Public Garden where the occasional lights were misted with the green of young leaves. Beyond, the electric signs of Boylston and Tremont Streets sent a great glare up into the milky spring sky. An automobile whirred past. There were steps on the pavements. She turned back into the room.

Gertrude Fagan sat on the bed with her hat on her knee. The reading lamp she had just switched on threw her eyes into shadow.

"Look, Nancibel, at my shadow on the wall," she said harshly. "Wouldn't think I had a hooked beak like that, would you?"

"How absurd, Gertrude! Look, this is the room I used to have when I was a little girl ... I'll put you up next door."

"But, really, I ought to go home."

"No, you'll be perfectly comfortable here. You know you don't like going home alone at night."

"Not a night like this," said Gertrude Fagan shuddering.

"But it's the finest night we've had this spring."

"I hate it; it makes me feel unclean, as if I hadn't washed all day. And there's a sense of unclean things prowling about one ... It shatters my nerves a night like this."

"I wonder if I don't feel that way too, really," Nan said in a low dead voice. "Look, Gertrude, are you too tired to work the board again tonight?"

"You mean you want to try again?"

Nan nodded.

"Of course I could keep it up for a little while," said Gertrude Fagan, getting eagerly to her feet. "You're sure your aunt won't mind if I spend the night? Seeing me appear mysteriously at the breakfast table might surprise her."

"Poor Aunt M., she's gone beyond surprise, Gertrude; she probably won't recognize you. It's almost as if she were dead."

"Horrible! She was such a brilliant person ... I always felt there was a strange magnetism about her, something I couldn't explain, like about you. Probably all your family had it ... What a nice room this is, the antithesis of those horrible paths across the Common ... O, didn't you feel it, Nancibel, in the theatre and shoving our way through the crowd home, a horrible lack of spirituality in all the faces?"

"Rather that they have strange secrets I can never know." Nan was leaning over the chiffonier, fumbling in a drawer. "Here's the ouija board." She turned into the swath of light, holding out before her a yellow varnished board with a semicircle of letters on it.

"He taught you to think that. His was an earthspirit. Now he is purified."

"Please, Gertrude,... You never knew him," Nan snapped out. Her fingers were taut about the edge of the ouija board.

"Why, I met him several times."

"I mean really knew him."

"Why are you angry at me, Nancibel?"

Without answering, Nan began taking the books off the small table where the reading light stood. She drew up two chairs and put a small three-legged wooden pointer on the board. Then she went to the window again and looked down into the welter of broken lights and green-spun shadows of the Public Garden. That night of premature spring the three of them had walked into town under a sky of coppery flame and all the streets had seemed to fall into a procession behind them and they had seemed gay and strong enough to trample the whole world, was this all it led to these choking lilacs that smelt of death? Or was it all mirage, false? Behind her she could feel Gertrude Fagan moving restlessly about the room. Nan half closed her eyes and breathed deep of the fetor of blossoms and gasoline and lurking bodies; then came back to the table, her face still and pale. Gertrude Fagan already sat at the table with the tips of her fingers on the wooden pointer, her eyes black, fixed on the black of the window.

"Think of him, Nancibel," she said in a shaky voice.

Nan put her fingers on the other end of the pointer and closed her eyes. Above the pounding of her heart she could hear the slow rasp of the other girl's breathing. So they waited.


"Well, it was a great war while it lasted." Major Baldwin sat swinging his brightly polished puttees from the edge of Fanshaw's desk. "What are you going to do when you go home?" He turned towards Fanshaw a steaklike face from which emanated a distinct steam of cocktails.

Fanshaw looked up from the photographs of Red Cross activities he was sorting, let his eye roam across the golden and rusty roofs that stretched away under the window past domes and more domes towards St. Peter's and Janiculum, glanced at the blue reflected light on Major Baldwin's puttees, at his elegant whipcord breeches and Sam Browne belt, red and shiny as his puttees, until at last he found himself looking into his blue watery eyes.

"I suppose ... I guess there's nothing to it but to go back to teaching the young idea how to appreciate art."

"Why don't ye stay in relief work?... There'll be jobs for years." Major Baldwin kicked his heels against the desk and threw back his head and laughed and laughed.

"Colonel Hopkins is in there," said Fanshaw, jerking his head back towards the mahogany doors behind his desk.

"I don't give a hoot in hell about Hopkins ... Listen here, I've got some dope, see?..." He leaned over and whispered noisily in Fanshaw's ear. "Old Hopkins is going to get his ... They're starting an investigation of the organization from the ground up. A congressional investigation ... Goin' to be hell to pay. Let's get out and have a lil' drink."

Fanshaw looked at his watch.

"I can't go for half an hour yet ... I'm not supposed to leave my desk till five."

"Hell, up in my office we don't keep any hours at all."

"You aren't so near to centers of operation."

"You mean to that old fool?" Major Baldwin pointed with a stout forefinger at the mahogany doors. "The investigation'll fix him.... How soon are you packing up for home?"

"Probably in a couple of weeks ... I'm afraid I'll have to finish up this album of Child Relief, 1918-1919, first ... I'm bored to death with this work, aren't you?"

Major Baldwin got to his feet and went to the window. He stood a long while looking out, twirling his cane in one hand. Fanshaw continued sorting photographs of ragged Italian children.

"Gosh, I don't see it," said Major Baldwin suddenly.

"See what?" Fanshaw was poring over a group of a Red Cross captain and a nurse with soup ladles in their hands surrounded by ragged Neapolitan guttersnipes.

"Going home after this."

Fanshaw pushed his chair back silently and got up from the desk. They both leaned out of the window and hung over the city that seemed to sway in the great waves of honeycolored sunlight like jetsam in a harbor swell. They could smell gardens and scorched olive oil, and a drowsy afternoon murmur came up to them, punctuated occasionally by the screech of a tram round a corner or a shout or a distant church bell.

"That's true ... There have been many enjoyable ..."

"I tell you, Macdougan, it was a great war.... Gosh, look at that girl in the garden there.... No, just coming out from under the arbor. Look at that throat ... Isn't she a pippin?"

Fanshaw laughed.

"You're incorrigible, Baldwin."

"That's why I don't want to go home.... I'm afraid that if I go home they'll correct me."

"I don't know ... They say things are very gay in the States ... Flappers and all that."

"What's this about flappers?" came a cracked voice behind them. The voice broke into a wheezy laugh. "So this is how the publicity department does its work, is it?"

"Just about," said Fanshaw, turning round to face a small greyfaced man with shaggy eyebrows. "Are you shutting up shop, Petrie?"

"Yes, it's four minutes after five ... Look, does either of you men want to sail home from Palermo on the Canada next week?"

"Heavens, no, I'm staying on till they drive me away," shouted the Major.

"I'd like to go," Fanshaw said quietly. "I've been away two years. It's time I went to see what the university has to say about my job."

"Beginning to think of the girl I left behind me, are you?" asked the greyfaced man creakily.

"Ha, ha! that's it." Fanshaw laughed loud and lifted his hand as if to slap his thigh. He found himself looking with constraint at his lifted hand and put it stiffly into his pocket.

* * * *

Le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière had a red scar on his left cheek that stretched from the lower rim of his monocle to the tip of his distended nostril. As he sat beside Fanshaw in the joggling cab the medals clinked together on the breast of his tight-waisted khaki uniform.

"The people on the street are looking at us as we drive by," he was saying. "They are telling each other: There go two of the bravest of our allies ... The Italians like that sort of thing: medals and people riding by in cabs ... Captain Macdougan, never forget that there is a brotherhood among the Latin peoples." Thereupon he sat up stiffly in the cab, blonde moustaches bristling, and clicked his hand up to a salute. An Italian officer in a long blue cloak saluted ferociously from the curb. Fanshaw found himself also stiffening to salute ... Funny feeling, the victorious allies riding about in cabs, saluting one another to a clink of medals. America had done all that, won the war, and he had done his bit himself; after all, relief work ...

"Excuse me if I stop at this chemist's a moment," said the French captain. "There is something I must get before they close." And he poked the driver in the back with his cane, crying out: "Arretez ici, cré nom d'un chien!"

While le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière was in the shop, Fanshaw lolled in the cab and stared down the grey Palermo street where the dust gave a shimmering outline to the patches of sun and shadow. Now and then he straightened up and answered the salute of some Italian soldier. His puttees were too tight and cut into his legs above the ankle. Never mind, this was the last day. Tomorrow, sailing for home a civilian, no more uniform, no more inspecting colonels to talk to. Strange and different it will be coming back from the war. The thought was elating. And Nan Taylor, what will have become of her? A year since he'd heard of her. Poor Nan must be getting quite an old maid by this time, and, as for me, if it hadn't been for the war, this curious life in Italy, relief work ...

Le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière was coming out of the shop, red and spluttering.

"Did you get what you wanted?" asked Fanshaw.

"These dirty Sicilians don't seem to understand. We'll try another place. Alley oop! Continuez!... We'll dine in the grand manner, won't we?... Imagine, this is my first day of Europe after a year of Africa. If I had not chanced to meet you, Captain Macdougan, I should have bored myself to death."

"Then you weren't on the front for the victory?"

"I was in the battle that made the victory. The war was won in the first battle of the Marne ... That's where I almost lost my leg and picked up a medaille militaire ... Ah, there's another chemist ... Arretez donc. Bon ... Perhaps you could help me explain."

They got out of the cab and went into the shop.

"What I want is tincture of yohimbine ... a very useful product ... a slight aid, that's what it is."

The clerk was a small yellow man with a bald head who wore a stained pongee jacket. He looked up through slanting eyeglasses at the French captain who stood over him twirling the end of his moustache.

"Avez-vous de la teinture de yohimbine, monsieur?"

"Non comprendo, signore."

"Won't you explain to him what I want?... It's a little help, a slight aid." Le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière waved a tightly gloved hand under the druggist's nose.

Is this man crazy? Fanshaw was thinking. Why am I riding round in a cab with this man?

"Cré nom d'un chien, por l'amore!" shouted the French captain. "Teinture de yohimbine."

Fanshaw felt himself turn red.

"I don't imagine they have it," he said hastily and walked out of the shop. He had barely got into the cab when the French captain followed.

"Ce sale pays," he was muttering. As he climbed into the cab his usual bland smile crept back over his face. "Now we can dine," he said. "It takes more than a slight contrariety to ruffle old campaigners, eh, Captain Macdougan?"

"All right, let's have dinner," Fanshaw assented weakly.

How on earth did I get in with this ridiculous Frenchman, he was bitterly asking himself. Last day in Italy, too, that I had intended to be so pleasant. Intended to go up to Monreale to see the mosaics and the view.

"I cannot tell you, Captain Macdougan," his companion was saying, "how pleasant it is to spend an evening, after all those weary years of the war, frontier posts and that sort of thing, with a man of your culture and refinement, may I even say sophistication ... I said to myself when I met you this morning in the Red Cross office: There is a man of parts, an unusual person.... With me there are no half measures, I am a man of action.... So I immediately invited you to dinner. I am sure neither of us will regret it."

"Indeed, not for my part ..." stammered Fanshaw. They had driven up in front of a small empty restaurant. The hollow-eyed waiter at the door agitated his napkin in welcome.

Fanshaw and le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière sat in a cavernous stage box at the opera, Fanshaw with his chin on his hand leaning across the plush rail and the Frenchman sitting straight upright in his chair with his bemedalled chest expanded, nodding his head solemnly in time to the music. On one side was a mottled horeshoe of faces, on the other the dustily lighted stage across which moved processions of monks, tenors in knee-breeches, baritones with false beards; below them out of the glint of brasses and the shiny curves of violins and the gleaming bald heads of musicians the orchestra boomed and crashed. Verdi's long, emphatic tunes throatily sung brought up to Fanshaw's mind his boyish dreams out of Walter Scott and Bulwer of hazardous enterprises and maidens' love hardily won. He felt as if he wanted to cry. How silly and dusty this all is, he kept saying to himself. And here I am after the war a Red Cross captain, and everything has happened that can happen, and Wenny's dead years ago, dead as this old opera, and Nan's an old maid, and here I am sitting next to this crazy Frenchman with his medals and his stories of native women ... Right after the opera I'll leave him and go back to the hotel, get a good night's rest, and run up to Monreale before the boat goes; twelve that is; plenty of time. A long lyric duet had reached its inevitable finale. The horseshoe was full of clapping hands, nodding heads. The French captain got to his feet and clapped, leaning out from the box. Wants to have them see his medals, said a voice savagely in Fanshaw's head.

In the intermission they sat drinking Marsala in the bar.

"I didn't tell you," le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière was saying, "how I happened to be present at the battle of the Marne. It is a very funny story."

I'll say I have a headache and go home; I can't stand any more of this wretched man, Fanshaw was thinking.

"How did that happen?" he asked.

"It's very funny ... You know the little Moroccan ladies are charming. I had one at that time as a ... governess, to keep me out of mischief. I was sent from Casablanca to Marseilles on a little mission, so I got the idea of taking my little lady along and got a week's leave to go up to show her Paris. My wife was safely in Aix-les-Bains with her parents, and there we were, my Moorish governess and I, enjoying la ville lumière, when suddenly, boom, the war breaks out!" He took a sip of his glass and swept the faces of the people round the bar for a moment with his superior stare.

Too repulsive, the mentality of a man like that. It's not the immorality, it's the ugliness of that sort of thing that disgusts. When he finishes this story I'll go home. Fanshaw cleared his throat nervously.

"Of course I knew war was coming, but, as usual, I hadn't counted on its being so soon ... The first thing that happened was my wife wired to Paris that she'd meet me in Marseilles. All officers on leave were ordered back to their posts immediately. I was fond of my wife and I wanted to see her, but I knew I could never smuggle the little Moorish lady through Marseilles without her smelling a rat. What was I to do? I hung on in Paris a day trying to decide, and the next day packed off my little governess all alone. Poor little thing, she didn't know a word of French. Then I went to the Minister of War and got myself transferred to the French front and had my wife come up to Paris to see me off, and before I knew it I was right in the middle of the battle of the Marne. Comical, isn't it?"

Fanshaw laughed stiffly. The bell was ringing for the last act.

The two tenors and the two baritones had gone into a monastery. The soprano had become a hermit and lived in a cave. The contralto was disguised in a domino. The chorus promenaded with imitation torches through an arcade in the back of the bluelighted stage. Everything was monkish and ominous in the music. The two tenors threw their hoods off their heads and drew swords from under their cloaks and brandished them over the footlights and sang a duet. The baritones stepped stealthily out from behind the wings, and the duet was a quartet. The soprano threw herself shrieking between the swords of the tenors. The contralto, dressed as an abbess in purple robes, came out through a door in the back. It was a sextette. The tune, shrieked on tight vocal chords, filled to the roof the horseshoe-shaped theatre. Fanshaw half turned his head. The French captain was whispering with a stocky, sallowfaced young man who held his hat in his hand and leaned forward respectfully out of the back of the box. But things had happened on the stage. The tenors lay dying, the soprano had thrown herself to the ground, the contralto elevated a large cross with her portly arms, and the back of the stage was filling with the chorus of monks and their torches.

"Très bien, très bien!" cried le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière as the curtain came down, and clapped with gloved hands. "No, after you!" Then, as he followed Fanshaw down the steps into the lobby of the theatre, he said: "It would be a good thing if more French and American officers were seen together at these affairs. It would improve our relations with Italy ... They are impressionable people. In Italy one must be seen."

The sallowfaced young man was waiting for them outside the theatre. "Vous suivez moi," he said in nasal French.

"But where are you going? I'm afraid I must go back to my hotel."

"But surely you'll cast just a glance at them ... It won't take long. They are said to be very handsome."

"Why, who?" Fanshaw was suddenly very agitated. Think, if after all these years ... Of course, an interesting thing to see for once; sociological study. "What do you mean? I don't understand," he said.

His companion burst out laughing.

"The little ladies of Palermo, of course ... Come along, everything's arranged."

"All right." Of course, just a glimpse, to see what a place like that was like. Nobody could know, he'd never see this Frenchman again.

They followed the sallowfaced man up a steep dark street. Fanshaw looked up at the sky that was bubbling with stars. The bright streak overhead narrowed as the cornices of the houses drew together. The street was empty. Once a cat brushed past his legs. At last they stood panting on the broad stepping-stone in front of a door. The guide's three knocks resounded hollowly.

"Such calm," whispered le Capitaine Eustache de la Potinière in Fanshaw's ear, slipping a hand under his arm. "At such moments I admit that I am rather agitated always. I congratulate you on your calm."

The guide knocked again. Somewhere up the street a rooster crowed.

"It must be midnight," said the French captain.

The door opened softly. A fatfaced woman stood in the hallway holding a taper above her head, and stared at them searchingly through narrowed eyes. She and the guide talked in low hurried Sicilian.

"Vous suivez moi," said the sallowfaced man.

They walked after him up a winding stone stair, the woman following with the taper. They came out on a landing, went through a passageway and found themselves in a brightly lighted room with pink wallpaper and gold-framed mirrors.

"Ah!" said the French captain, pulling off his gloves. They sat down at a marble-topped table with carved ebony legs. The fatfaced woman who had opened the door hung over them, grinning. "Let's drink a little something ... Une bouteille de Marsala," he said and rubbed his hands. "I like the quiet, gentlemanly way you Americans do these things. Very distinguished."

The woman opened a cupboard and produced a bottle and glasses on a silver tray. She poured out four glasses.

"A desso," she said, and her grin reached nearly to her ears.

Two girls in evening dress swished in operatically through the door. One wore pink and the other blue. The girl who sat down beside Fanshaw had a small mouth and large tired brown eyes.

"Lei," she said with enthusiasm, "parla Italiano?"

"Si, un poco," stammered Fanshaw blushing.

"Ah, if you speak Italian, mon capitaine," said the French captain, "would you mind explaining to this little lady of mine what I told you about the Yohimbé tree?... It's very important."

"I don't remember," said Fanshaw in a crisp, angry voice, and turned again to the girl in pink beside him.

A bar of light burned his eyes. Through musty darkness from beyond the foot of the bed a bar of light came whitely at him. Gradually other streaks arranged themselves at right angles to the light. It was the sun through a shutter beyond the foot of the bed. He had no pajamas on. His chest suddenly contracted with sickening agitation. There was a sound of breathing beside him. Very cautiously he slipped from between the sheets and groped about the room. His clothes were on a chair. He pulled them on anyhow and put his hand on the knob of the door. The gentle breathing from the bed was regular like a child's. Softly he turned the knob and opened the door. The shriek of the hinges was a knife in his ribs. He hurried through the parlor with its pink wallpaper and gold-framed mirrors that smelt of stale cigarette smoke and lipsticks. The door on to the stairs was open. He slunk down the winding staircase, straightening his necktie as he went. Then he found himself in an enclosed court. In the upper wall that glowed with dazzling sunlight were windows with balconies full of potted geraniums, red and pink, stirring like flame in the sun. The pavings of the court had just been washed and a cool wet stone smell came from them. Which way now? Two geese waddled past him, letting a little querulous quacking noise dribble from their bloodorange bills. Under an archway an old woman sat shelling peas into a saucepan. She looked up at him and said something he did not catch as he darted past her and out the street door. He walked slowly down the sloping street. In the doorways were brightly dressed children with dirty mouths and stringy, uncombed hair. The street was full of dust and flies; shouts and shrieked talk, and sounds of braying donkeys and rattling carts swarmed about his ears. In front of the theatre he hailed a cab that carried him with a quick jingle of harness through sunny, humming streets to his hotel. There he went to his room and ordered a bath.

It was ten o'clock. He dressed again carefully in clean clothes, breakfasted off coffee and rolls and honey, paid his bill, and had himself driven to the boat.

Once on board in his ample white stateroom with his baggage about him, a terrible lassitude came over him. He sat in his bunk staring up at the blue round of the porthole through which came a sound of derricks and a smell of pitch and a sunseared wind off the harbor.

The day he and Nan had sat together on the beach at Marblehead and listened to the waves hiss and rattle among the pebbles and thought how all the strength of Wenny, now that he was dead, might perhaps ... Poor Nan, if I'd had the nerve ...

He looked at his watch. Half past. At the same moment the ship's whistle started booming loud and throbbing. The noise tailed off into a harsh wail.

Tarred and feathered and drawn in a cart
By the women of Marblehead.

Wenny used to sing that. Poor kid, he'd had nerve enough. The time he and Wenny had walked at night down a street in Somerville where the rare arclights were pinkish blobs among the shuddering green fringes of elms and Wenny had wanted to pick up a girl. Stumpy girls with heavy jowls strolling in couples, swaying from the hips. It was mostly the ugliness ... Yohimbine.

Tina had been pretty in her pink dress.

And now I'm going back. Venetian Art and Culture in the Eighteenth Century. The afterglow of the Renaissance. In a vermilion barge, lost ... in the Charles, Wenny had said.

And Nan had understood; she had never been surprised at Wenny's killing himself. Perhaps they'd had secrets, things in common, the two of them, that he had never known.

Exit to Massachusetts Avenue and the College Yard, and the museum and tea with professors' wives. Think of going back to that after this life overseas. If he could love Nan, if he could take her, it would be different. That was hopeless, dead as Wenny, dead as grand opera.

"Gosh, I don't see it ... Going home after this," Baldwin had said, and they had leaned out together over the gold and rusty roofs and the domes and obelisks swaying in the great waves of honeycolored sunlight, and smelt gardens and scorched olive oil, and seen a girl with a brown throat come out of an arbor beneath them.

Suppose he didn't go ... There was time to get off the boat. One crazy thing in a lifetime.

He got to his feet, his heart dancing. I won't go.

A bell started ringing far away on another deck. That means there's five minutes. There's time. I can get another Red Cross job.

He picked up a suitcase and opened the varnished door. The companionway was full of people, officers, Red Cross men, buzz and chatter of farewells. Fanshaw slammed the door of his stateroom and pushed his suitcase back under his bunk.

Don't be a fool.

He threw himself on his back on his bunk and put his hand over his eyes. Once they got out of sight of land he'd get a good nap. Now he must go up on deck and take a last look at Palermo. A fine sight: the town piling up to Monreale, and the gardens, and behind them the cloudy dark hills of Sicily.

I've been thinking too much. I won't think of anything any more.

And I'll go back and go to and fro to lectures with a notebook under my arm, and now and then in the evening, when I haven't any engagement, walk into Boston through terrible throbbing streets and think for a moment I have Nan and Wenny with me, and that we are young, leansouled people out of the Renaissance, ready to divide life like a cake with our strong hands.

The whistle soared from a loose rattle of steam into a drumming reverberation. The engines began to move slowly, thump after thump, and Fanshaw felt his bunk shake as the steamer drew away from the wharf.


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