Alla inlägg den 8 maj 2011

Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 8 maj 2011 06:43

Then he rode out to St. Voltaire's, slew his horse at the door, and presented the carcass to the monastery cook. "At five o'clock that night he felt, for the first time, free--forever free from sex. No woman could enter the monastery; no monk could descend below the second story. So as he climbed the winding stair that led to his cell at the very top of the Tower of Chastity he paused for a moment by an open window which looked down fifty feet on to a road below. It was all so beautiful, he thought, this world that he was leaving, the golden shower of sun beating down upon the long fields, the spray of trees in the distance, the vineyards, quiet and green, freshening wide miles before him. He leaned his elbows on the window casement and gazed at the winding road. "Now, as it happened, Thérèse, a peasant girl of sixteen from a neighboring village, was at that moment passing along this same road that ran in front of the monastery. Five minutes before, the little piece of ribbon which held up the stocking on her pretty left leg had worn through and broken. Being a girl of rare modesty she had thought to wait until she arrived home before repairing it, but it had bothered her to such an extent that she felt she could endure it no longer. So, as she passed the Tower of Chastity, she stopped and with a pretty gesture lifted her skirt--as little as possible, be it said to her credit--to adjust her garter. "Up in the tower the newest arrival in the ancient monastery of St. Voltaire, as though pulled forward by a gigantic and irresistible hand, leaned from the window. Further he leaned and further until suddenly one of the stones loosened under his weight, broke from its cement with a soft powdery sound--and, first headlong, then head over heels, finally in a vast and impressive revolution tumbled the Chevalier O'Keefe, bound for the hard earth and eternal damnation. "Thérèse was so much upset by the occurrence that she ran all the way home and for ten years spent an hour a day in secret prayer for the soul of the monk whose neck and vows were simultaneously broken on that unfortunate Sunday afternoon. "And the Chevalier O'Keefe, being suspected of suicide, was not buried in consecrated ground, but tumbled into a field near by, where he doubtless improved the quality of the soil for many years afterward. Such was the untimely end of a very brave and gallant gentleman. What do you think, Geraldine?" But Geraldine, lost long before, could only smile roguishly, wave her first finger at him, and repeat her bridge-all, her explain-all: "Crazy!" she said, "you cra-a-azy!" His thin face was kindly, she thought, and his eyes quite gentle. She liked him because he was arrogant without being conceited, and because, unlike the men she met about the theatre, he had a horror of being conspicuous. What an odd, pointless story! But she had enjoyed the part about the stocking! After the fifth cocktail he kissed her, and between laughter and bantering caresses and a half-stifled flare of passion they passed an hour. At four-thirty she claimed an engagement, and going into the bathroom she rearranged her hair. Refusing to let him order her a taxi she stood for a moment in the doorway. "You _will_ get married," she was insisting, "you wait and see." Anthony was playing with an ancient tennis ball, and he bounced it carefully on the floor several times before he answered with a soup?on of acidity: "You're a little idiot, Geraldine." She smiled provokingly. "Oh, I am, am I? Want to bet?" "That'd be silly too." "Oh, it would, would it? Well, I'll just bet you'll marry somebody inside of a year." Anthony bounced the tennis ball very hard. This was one of his handsome days, she thought; a sort of intensity had displaced the melancholy in his dark eyes.

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Mrs. Gilbert blinked very fast--her bosom trembled, inflated, remained so for an instant, and with the exhalation her words flowed out in a torrent. She knew, she cried in a whisper; oh, yes, mothers see these things. But what could she do? He knew Gloria. He'd seen enough of Gloria to know how hopeless it was to try to deal with her. Gloria had been so spoiled--in a rather complete and unusual way. She had been suckled until she was three, for instance, when she could probably have chewed sticks. Perhaps--one never knew--it was this that had given that health and _hardiness_ to her whole personality. And then ever since she was twelve years old she'd had boys about her so thick--oh, so thick one couldn't _move_. At sixteen she began going to dances at preparatory schools, and then came the colleges; and everywhere she went, boys, boys, boys. At first, oh, until she was eighteen there had been so many that it never seemed one any more than the others, but then she began to single them out. She knew there had been a string of affairs spread over about three years, perhaps a dozen of them altogether. Sometimes the men were undergraduates, sometimes just out of college--they lasted on an average of several months each, with short attractions in between. Once or twice they had endured longer and her mother had hoped she would be engaged, but always a new one came--a new one-- The men? Oh, she made them miserable, literally! There was only one who had kept any sort of dignity, and he had been a mere child, young Carter Kirby, of Kansas City, who was so conceited anyway that he just sailed out on his vanity one afternoon and left for Europe next day with his father. The others had been--wretched. They never seemed to know when she was tired of them, and Gloria had seldom been deliberately unkind. They would keep phoning, writing letters to her, trying to see her, making long trips after her around the country. Some of them had confided in Mrs. Gilbert, told her with tears in their eyes that they would never get over Gloria ... at least two of them had since married, though.... But Gloria, it seemed, struck to kill--to this day Mr. Carstairs called up once a week, and sent her flowers which she no longer bothered to refuse. Several times, twice, at least, Mrs. Gilbert knew it had gone as far as a private engagement--with Tudor Baird and that Holcome boy at Pasadena. She was sure it had, because--this must go no further--she had come in unexpectedly and found Gloria acting, well, very much engaged indeed. She had not spoken to her daughter, of course. She had had a certain sense of delicacy and, besides, each time she had expected an announcement in a few weeks. But the announcement never came; instead, a new man came. Scenes! Young men walking up and down the library like caged tigers! Young men glaring at each other in the hall as one came and the other left! Young men calling up on the telephone and being hung up upon in desperation! Young men threatening South America! ... Young men writing the most pathetic letters! (She said nothing to this effect, but Dick fancied that Mrs. Gilbert's eyes had seen some of these letters.) ... And Gloria, between tears and laughter, sorry, glad, out of love and in love, miserable, nervous, cool, amidst a great returning of presents, substitution of pictures in immemorial frames, and taking of hot baths and beginning again--with the next. That state of things continued, assumed an air of permanency. Nothing harmed Gloria or changed her or moved her. And then out of a clear sky one day she informed her mother that undergraduates wearied her. She was absolutely going to no more college dances. This had begun the change--not so much in her actual habits, for she danced, and had as many "dates" as ever--but they were dates in a different spirit. Previously it had been a sort of pride, a matter of her own vainglory. She had been, probably, the most celebrated and sought-after young beauty in the country. Gloria Gilbert of Kansas City! She had fed on it ruthlessly--enjoying the crowds around her, the manner in which the most desirable men singled her out; enjoying the fierce jealousy of other girls; enjoying the fabulous, not to say scandalous, and, her mother was glad to say, entirely unfounded rumors about her--for instance, that she had gone in the Yale swimming-pool one night in a chiffon evening dress. And from loving it with a vanity that was almost masculine--it had been in the nature of a triumphant and dazzling career--she became suddenly anaesthetic to it. She retired. She who had dominated countless parties, who had blown fragrantly through many ballrooms to the tender tribute of many eyes, seemed to care no longer. He who fell in love with her now was dismissed utterly, almost angrily. She went listlessly with the most indifferent men. She continually broke engagements, not as in the past from a cool assurance that she was irreproachable, that the man she insulted would return like a domestic animal--but indifferently, without contempt or pride. She rarely stormed at men any more--she yawned at them. She seemed--and it was so strange--she seemed to her mother to be growing cold. Richard Caramel listened. At first he had remained standing, but as his aunt's discourse waxed in content--it stands here pruned by half, of all side references to the youth of Gloria's soul and to Mrs. Gilbert's own mental distresses--he drew a chair up and attended rigorously as she floated, between tears and plaintive helplessness, down the long story of Gloria's life. When she came to the tale of this last year, a tale of the ends of cigarettes left all over New York in little trays marked "Midnight Frolic" and "Justine Johnson's Little Club," he began nodding his head slowly, then faster and faster, until, as she finished on a staccato note, it was bobbing briskly up and down, absurdly like a doll's wired head, expressing--almost anything. In a sense Gloria's past was an old story to him. He had followed it with the eyes of a journalist, for he was going to write a book about her some day. But his interests, just at present, were family interests. He wanted to know, in particular, who was this Joseph Bloeckman that he had seen her with several times; and those two girls she was with constantly, "this" Rachael Jerryl and "this" Miss Kane--surely Miss Kane wasn't exactly the sort one would associate with Gloria!

ANNONS
Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 8 maj 2011 06:41

so was Gloria. They were both willing--anxious; they assured each other of it. The evening ended on a note of tremendous sentiment, the majesty of leisure, the ill health of Adam Patch, love at any cost. "Anthony!" she called over the banister one afternoon a week later, "there's some one at the door." Anthony, who had been lolling in the hammock on the sun-speckled south porch, strolled around to the front of the house. A foreign car, large and impressive, crouched like an immense and saturnine bug at the foot of the path. A man in a soft pongee suit, with cap to match, hailed him. "Hello there, Patch. Ran over to call on you." It was Bloeckman; as always, infinitesimally improved, of subtler intonation, of more convincing ease. "I'm awfully glad you did." Anthony raised his voice to a vine-covered window: "Glor-i-_a_! We've got a visitor!" "I'm in the tub," wailed Gloria politely. With a smile the two men acknowledged the triumph of her alibi. "She'll be down. Come round here on the side-porch. Like a drink? Gloria's always in the tub--good third of every day." "Pity she doesn't live on the Sound." "Can't afford it." As coming from Adam Patch's grandson, Bloeckman took this as a form of pleasantry. After fifteen minutes filled with estimable brilliancies, Gloria appeared, fresh in starched yellow, bringing atmosphere and an increase of vitality. "I want to be a successful sensation in the movies," she announced. "I hear that Mary Pickford makes a million dollars annually." "You could, you know," said Bloeckman. "I think you'd film very well." "Would you let me, Anthony? If I only play unsophisticated r?les?" As the conversation continued in stilted commas, Anthony wondered that to him and Bloeckman both this girl had once been the most stimulating, the most tonic personality they had ever known--and now the three sat like overoiled machines, without conflict, without fear, without elation, heavily enamelled little figures secure beyond enjoyment in a world where death and war, dull emotion and noble savagery were covering a continent with the smoke of terror. In a moment he would call Tana and they would pour into themselves a gay and delicate poison which would restore them momentarily to the pleasurable excitement of childhood, when every face in a crowd had carried its suggestion of splendid and significant transactions taking place somewhere to some magnificent and illimitable purpose.... Life was no more than this summer afternoon; a faint wind stirring the lace collar of Gloria's dress; the slow baking drowsiness of the veranda.... Intolerably unmoved they all seemed, removed from any romantic imminency of action. Even Gloria's beauty needed wild emotions, needed poignancy, needed death.... "... Any day next week," Bloeckman was saying to Gloria. "Here--take this card. What they do is to give you a test of about three hundred feet of film, and they can tell pretty accurately from that." "How about Wednesday?" "Wednesday's fine. Just phone me and I'll go around with you--" He was on his feet, shaking hands briskly--then his car was a wraith of dust down the road. Anthony turned to his wife in bewilderment. "Why, Gloria!" "You don't mind if I have a trial, Anthony. Just a trial? I've got to go to town Wednesday, _any_how." "But it's so silly! You don't want to go into the movies--moon around a studio all day with a lot of cheap chorus people." "Lot of mooning around Mary Pickford does!" "Everybody isn't a Mary Pickford." "Well, I can't see how you'd object to my _try_ing." "I do, though. I hate actors." "Oh, you make me tired. Do you imagine I have a very thrilling time dozing on this damn porch?" "You wouldn't mind if you loved me."

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It seemed to Anthony that during the last year Bloeckman had grown tremendously in dignity. The boiled look was gone, he seemed "done" at last. In addition he was no longer overdressed. The inappropriate facetiousness he had affected in ties had given way to a sturdy dark pattern, and his right hand, which had formerly displayed two heavy rings, was now innocent of ornament and even without the raw glow of a manicure. This dignity appeared also in his personality. The last aura of the successful travelling-man had faded from him, that deliberate ingratiation of which the lowest form is the bawdy joke in the Pullman smoker. One imagined that, having been fawned upon financially, he had attained aloofness; having been snubbed socially, he had acquired reticence. But whatever had given him weight instead of bulk, Anthony no longer felt a correct superiority in his presence. "D'you remember Caramel, Richard Caramel? I believe you met him one night." "I remember. He was writing a book." "Well, he sold it to the movies. Then they had some scenario man named Jordan work on it. Well, Dick subscribes to a clipping bureau and he's furious because about half the movie reviewers speak of the 'power and strength of William Jordan's "Demon Lover."' Didn't mention old Dick at all. You'd think this fellow Jordan had actually conceived and developed the thing." Bloeckman nodded comprehensively. "Most of the contracts state that the original writer's name goes into all the paid publicity. Is Caramel still writing?" "Oh, yes. Writing hard. Short stories." "Well, that's fine, that's fine.... You on this train often?" "About once a week. We live in Marietta." "Is that so? Well, well! I live near Cos Cob myself. Bought a place there only recently. We're only five miles apart." "You'll have to come and see us." Anthony was surprised at his own courtesy. "I'm sure Gloria'd be delighted to see an old friend. Anybody'll tell you where the house is--it's our second season there." "Thank you." Then, as though returning a complementary politeness: "How is your grandfather?" "He's been well. I had lunch with him to-day." "A great character," said Bloeckman severely. "A fine example of an American." THE TRIUMPH OF LETHARGY Anthony found his wife deep in the porch hammock voluptuously engaged with a lemonade and a tomato sandwich and carrying on an apparently cheery conversation with Tana upon one of Tana's complicated themes. "In my countree," Anthony recognized his invariable preface, "all time--peoples--eat rice--because haven't got. Cannot eat what no have got." Had his nationality not been desperately apparent one would have thought he had acquired his knowledge of his native land from American primary-school geographies. When the Oriental had been squelched and dismissed to the kitchen, Anthony turned questioningly to Gloria: "It's all right," she announced, smiling broadly. "And it surprised me more than it does you." "There's no doubt?" "None! Couldn't be!" They rejoiced happily, gay again with reborn irresponsibility. Then he told her of his opportunity to go abroad, and that he was almost ashamed to reject it. "What do _you_ think? Just tell me frankly." "Why, Anthony!" Her eyes were startled. "Do you want to go? Without me?" His face fell--yet he knew, with his wife's question, that it was too late. Her arms, sweet and strangling, were around him, for he had made all such choices back in that room in the Plaza the year before. This was an anachronism from an age of such dreams. "Gloria," he lied, in a great burst of comprehension, "of course I don't. I was thinking you might go as a nurse or something." He wondered dully if his grandfather would consider this. As she smiled he realized again how beautiful she was, a gorgeous girl of miraculous freshness and sheerly honorable eyes. She embraced his suggestion with luxurious intensity, holding it aloft like a sun of her own making and basking in its beams. She strung together an amazing synopsis for an extravaganza of martial adventure. After supper, surfeited with the subject, she yawned. She wanted not to talk but only to read "Penrod," stretched upon the lounge until at midnight she fell asleep. But Anthony, after he had carried her romantically up the stairs, stayed awake to brood upon the day, vaguely angry with her, vaguely dissatisfied. "What am I going to do?" he began at breakfast. "Here we've been married a year and we've just worried around without even being efficient people of leisure." "Yes, you ought to do something," she admitted, being in an agreeable and loquacious humor. This was not the first of these discussions, but as they usually developed Anthony in the r?le of protagonist, she had come to avoid them. "It's not that I have any moral compunctions about work," he continued, "but grampa may die to-morrow and he may live for ten years. Meanwhile we're living above our income and all we've got to show for it is a farmer's car and a few clothes. We keep an apartment that we've only lived in three months and a little old house way off in nowhere. We're frequently bored and yet we won't make any effort to know any one except the same crowd who drift around California all summer wearing sport clothes and waiting for their families to die." "How you've changed!" remarked Gloria. "Once you told me you didn't see why an American couldn't loaf gracefully." "Well, damn it, I wasn't married. And the old mind was working at top speed and now it's going round and round like a cog-wheel with nothing to catch it. As a matter of fact I think that if I hadn't met you I _would_ have done something. But you make leisure so subtly attractive--" "Oh, it's all my fault--" "I didn't mean that, and you know I didn't. But here I'm almost twenty-seven and--" "Oh," she interrupted in vexation, "you make me tired! Talking as though I were objecting or hindering you!" "I was just discussing it, Gloria. Can't I discuss--" "I should think you'd be strong enough to settle--" "--something with you without--" "--your own problems without coming to me. You _talk_ a lot about going to work. I could use more money very easily, but _I'm_ not complaining. Whether you work or not I love you." Her last words were gentle as fine snow upon hard ground. But for the moment neither was attending to the other--they were each engaged in polishing and perfecting his own attitude. "I have worked--some." This by Anthony was an imprudent bringing up of raw reserves. Gloria laughed, torn between delight and derision; she resented his sophistry as at the same time she admired his nonchalance. She would never blame him for being the ineffectual idler so long as he did it sincerely, from the attitude that nothing much was worth doing. "Work!" she scoffed. "Oh, you sad bird! You bluffer! Work--that means a great arranging of the desk and the lights, a great sharpening of pencils, and 'Gloria, don't sing!' and 'Please keep that damn Tana away from me,' and 'Let me read you my opening sentence,' and 'I won't be through for a long time, Gloria, so don't stay up for me,' and a tremendous consumption of tea or coffee. And that's all. In just about an hour I hear the old pencil stop scratching and look over. You've got out a book and you're 'looking up' something. Then you're reading. Then yawns--then bed and a great tossing about because you're all full of caffeine and can't sleep. Two weeks later the whole performance over again." With much difficulty Anthony retained a scanty breech-clout of dignity. "Now that's a _slight_ exaggeration. You know _darn well_ I sold an essay to The Florentine--and it attracted a lot of attention considering the circulation of The Florentine. And what's more, Gloria, you know I sat up till five o'clock in the morning finishing it." She lapsed into silence, giving him rope. And if he had not hanged himself he had certainly come to the end of it. "At least," he concluded feebly, "I'm perfectly willing to be a war correspondent."

ANNONS
Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 8 maj 2011 06:38

He looked at her unwillingly. At that moment nothing seemed of more importance than to idle on that shady porch drinking mellowed Scotch, while his host reminisced interminably on the byplay of some forgotten political campaign. "We've really got to go," repeated Gloria. "We can get a taxi to the station.... Come on, Anthony!" she commanded a bit more imperiously. "Now see here--" Merriam, his yarn cut off, made conventional objections, meanwhile provocatively filling his guest's glass with a high-ball that should have been sipped through ten minutes. But at Gloria's annoyed "We really _must!_" Anthony drank it off, got to his feet and made an elaborate bow to his hostess. "It seems we 'must,'" he said, with little grace. In a minute he was following Gloria down a garden-walk between tall rose-bushes, her parasol brushing gently the June-blooming leaves. Most inconsiderate, he thought, as they reached the road. He felt with injured na?vete that Gloria should not have interrupted such innocent and harmless enjoyment. The whiskey had both soothed and clarified the restless things in his mind. It occurred to him that she had taken this same attitude several times before. Was he always to retreat from pleasant episodes at a touch of her parasol or a flicker of her eye? His unwillingness blurred to ill will, which rose within him like a resistless bubble. He kept silent, perversely inhibiting a desire to reproach her. They found a taxi in front of the Inn; rode silently to the little station.... Then Anthony knew what he wanted--to assert his will against this cool and impervious girl, to obtain with one magnificent effort a mastery that seemed infinitely desirable. "Let's go over to see the Barneses," he said without looking at her. "I don't feel like going home." --Mrs. Barnes, née Rachael Jerryl, had a summer place several miles from Redgate. "We went there day before yesterday," she answered shortly. "I'm sure they'd be glad to see us." He felt that that was not a strong enough note, braced himself stubbornly, and added: "I want to see the Barneses. I haven't any desire to go home." "Well, I haven't any desire to go to the Barneses." Suddenly they stared at each other. "Why, Anthony," she said with annoyance, "this is Sunday night and they probably have guests for supper. Why we should go in at this hour--" "Then why couldn't we have stayed at the Merriams'?" he burst out. "Why go home when we were having a perfectly decent time? They asked us to supper." "They had to. Give me the money and I'll get the railroad tickets." "I certainly will not! I'm in no humour for a ride in that damn hot train." Gloria stamped her foot on the platform. "Anthony, you act as if you're tight!" "On the contrary, I'm perfectly sober." But his voice had slipped into a husky key and she knew with certainty that this was untrue. "If you're sober you'll give me the money for the tickets." But it was too late to talk to him that way. In his mind was but one idea--that Gloria was being selfish, that she was always being selfish and would continue to be unless here and now he asserted himself as her master. This was the occasion of all occasions, since for a whim she had deprived him of a pleasure. His determination solidified, approached momentarily a dull and sullen hate. "I won't go in the train," he said, his voice trembling a little with anger. "We're going to the Barneses." "I'm not!" she cried. "If you go I'm going home alone." "Go on, then." Without a word she turned toward the ticket office; simultaneously he remembered that she had some money with her and that this was not the sort of victory he wanted, the sort he must have. He took a step after her and seized her arm. "See here!" he muttered, "you're _not_ going alone!" "I certainly am--why, Anthony!" This exclamation as she tried to pull away from him and he only tightened his grasp. He looked at her with narrowed and malicious eyes. "Let go!" Her cry had a quality of fierceness. "If you have _any_ decency you'll let go." "Why?" He knew why. But he took a confused and not quite confident pride in holding her there. "I'm going home, do you understand? And you're going to let me go!" "No, I'm not." Her eyes were burning now. "Are you going to make a scene here?" "I say you're not going! I'm tired of your eternal selfishness!" "I only want to go home." Two wrathful tears started from her eyes. "This time you're going to do what _I_ say." Slowly her body straightened: her head went back in a gesture of infinite scorn. "I hate you!" Her low words were expelled like venom through her clenched teeth. "Oh, _let_ me go! Oh, I _hate_ you!" She tried to jerk herself away but he only grasped the other arm. "I hate you! I hate you!"

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It was the same Anthony, more restless, inclined to quicken only under the stimulus of several high-balls, faintly, almost imperceptibly, apathetic toward Gloria. But Gloria--she would be twenty-four in August and was in an attractive but sincere panic about it. Six years to thirty! Had she been less in love with Anthony her sense of the flight of time would have expressed itself in a reawakened interest in other men, in a deliberate intention of extracting a transient gleam of romance from every potential lover who glanced at her with lowered brows over a shining dinner table. She said to Anthony one day: "How I feel is that if I wanted anything I'd take it. That's what I've always thought all my life. But it happens that I want you, and so I just haven't room for any other desires." They were bound eastward through a parched and lifeless Indiana, and she had looked up from one of her beloved moving picture magazines to find a casual conversation suddenly turned grave. Anthony frowned out the car window. As the track crossed a country road a farmer appeared momentarily in his wagon; he was chewing on a straw and was apparently the same farmer they had passed a dozen times before, sitting in silent and malignant symbolism. As Anthony turned to Gloria his frown intensified. "You worry me," he objected; "I can imagine _wanting_ another woman under certain transitory circumstances, but I can't imagine taking her." "But I don't feel that way, Anthony. I can't be bothered resisting things I want. My way is not to want them--to want nobody but you." "Yet when I think that if you just happened to take a fancy to some one--" "Oh, don't be an idiot!" she exclaimed. "There'd be nothing casual about it. And I can't even imagine the possibility." This emphatically closed the conversation. Anthony's unfailing appreciation made her happier in his company than in any one's else. She definitely enjoyed him--she loved him. So the summer began very much as had the one before. There was, however, one radical change in ménage. The icy-hearted Scandinavian, whose austere cooking and sardonic manner of waiting on table had so depressed Gloria, gave way to an exceedingly efficient Japanese whose name was Tanalahaka, but who confessed that he heeded any summons which included the dissyllable "Tana." Tana was unusually small even for a Japanese, and displayed a somewhat na?ve conception of himself as a man of the world. On the day of his arrival from "R. Gugimoniki, Japanese Reliable Employment Agency," he called Anthony into his room to see the treasures of his trunk. These included a large collection of Japanese post cards, which he was all for explaining to his employer at once, individually and at great length. Among them were half a dozen of pornographic intent and plainly of American origin, though the makers had modestly omitted both their names and the form for mailing. He next brought out some of his own handiwork--a pair of American pants, which he had made himself, and two suits of solid silk underwear. He informed Anthony confidentially as to the purpose for which these latter were reserved. The next exhibit was a rather good copy of an etching of Abraham Lincoln, to whose face he had given an unmistakable Japanese cast. Last came a flute; he had made it himself but it was broken: he was going to fix it soon. After these polite formalities, which Anthony conjectured must be native to Japan, Tana delivered a long harangue in splintered English on the relation of master and servant from which Anthony gathered that he had worked on large estates but had always quarrelled with the other servants because they were not honest. They had a great time over the word "honest," and in fact became rather irritated with each other, because Anthony persisted stubbornly that Tana was trying to say "hornets," and even went to the extent of buzzing in the manner of a bee and flapping his arms to imitate wings. After three-quarters of an hour Anthony was released with the warm assurance that they would have other nice chats in which Tana would tell "how we do in my countree." Such was Tana's garrulous première in the gray house--and he fulfilled its promise. Though he was conscientious and honorable, he was unquestionably a terrific bore. He seemed unable to control his tongue, sometimes continuing from paragraph to paragraph with a look akin to pain in his small brown eyes. Sunday and Monday afternoons he read the comic sections of the newspapers. One cartoon which contained a facetious Japanese butler diverted him enormously, though he claimed that the protagonist, who to Anthony appeared clearly Oriental, had really an American face. The difficulty with the funny paper was that when, aided by Anthony, he had spelled out the last three pictures and assimilated their context with a concentration surely adequate for Kant's "Critique," he had entirely forgotten what the first pictures were about. In the middle of June Anthony and Gloria celebrated their first anniversary by having a "date." Anthony knocked at the door and she ran to let him in. Then they sat together on the couch calling over those names they had made for each other, new combinations of endearments ages old. Yet to this "date" was appended no attenuated good-night with its ecstasy of regret. Later in June horror leered out at Gloria, struck at her and frightened her bright soul back half a generation. Then slowly it faded out, faded back into that impenetrable darkness whence it had come--taking relentlessly its modicum of youth. With an infallible sense of the dramatic it chose a little railroad station in a wretched village near Portchester. The station platform lay all day bare as a prairie, exposed to the dusty yellow sun and to the glance of that most obnoxious type of countryman who lives near a metropolis and has attained its cheap smartness without its urbanity. A dozen of these yokels, red-eyed, cheerless as scarecrows, saw the incident. Dimly it passed across their confused and uncomprehending minds, taken at its broadest for a coarse joke, at its subtlest for a "shame." Meanwhile there upon the platform a measure of brightness faded from the world. With Eric Merriam, Anthony had been sitting over a decanter of Scotch all the hot summer afternoon, while Gloria and Constance Merriam swam and sunned themselves at the Beach Club, the latter under a striped parasol-awning, Gloria stretched sensuously upon the soft hot sand, tanning her inevitable legs. Later they had all four played with inconsequential sandwiches; then Gloria had risen, tapping Anthony's knee with her parasol to get his attention.

Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 8 maj 2011 06:36

On the very first Sunday after Sophia's departure, Mr. Povey did not go to chapel in the morning, and he offered no reason for his unusual conduct. He ate his breakfast with appetite, but there was something peculiar in his glance that made Mrs. Baines a little uneasy; this something she could not seize upon and define. When she and Constance returned from chapel Mr. Povey was playing "Rock of Ages" on the harmonium--again unusual! The serious part of the dinner comprised roast beef and Yorkshire pudding--the pudding being served as a sweet course before the meat. Mrs. Baines ate freely of these things, for she loved them, and she was always hungry after a sermon. She also did well with the Cheshire cheese. Her intention was to sleep in the drawing-room after the repast. On Sunday afternoons she invariably tried to sleep in the drawing- room, and she did not often fail. As a rule the girls accompanied her thither from the table, and either 'settled down' likewise or crept out of the room when they perceived the gradual sinking of the majestic form into the deep hollows of the easy-chair. Mrs. Baines was anticipating with pleasure her somnolent Sunday afternoon. Constance said grace after meat, and the formula on this particular occasion ran thus-- "Thank God for our good dinner, Amen.--Mother, I must just run upstairs to my room." ('MY room'-Sophia being far away.) And off she ran, strangely girlish. "Well, child, you needn't be in such a hurry," said Mrs. Baines, ringing the bell and rising. She hoped that Constance would remember the conditions precedent to sleep. "I should like to have a word with you, if it's all the same to you, Mrs. Baines," said Mr. Povey suddenly, with obvious nervousness. And his tone struck a rude unexpected blow at Mrs. Baines's peace of mind. It was a portentous tone. "What about?" asked she, with an inflection subtly to remind Mr. Povey what day it was. "About Constance," said the astonishing man. "Constance!" exclaimed Mrs. Baines with a histrionic air of bewilderment. Maggie entered the room, solely in response to the bell, yet a thought jumped up in Mrs. Baines's brain, "How prying servants are, to be sure!" For quite five seconds she had a grievance against Maggie. She was compelled to sit down again and wait while Maggie cleared the table. Mr. Povey put both his hands in his pockets, got up, went to the window, whistled, and generally behaved in a manner which foretold the worst.

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Well," said Mr. Povey, rising from the rocking-chair that in a previous age had been John Baines's, "I've got to make a start some time, so I may as well begin now!" And he went from the parlour into the shop. Constance's eye followed him as far as the door, where their glances met for an instant in the transient gaze which expresses the tenderness of people who feel more than they kiss. It was on the morning of this day that Mrs. Baines, relinquishing the sovereignty of St. Luke's Square, had gone to live as a younger sister in the house of Harriet Maddack at Axe. Constance guessed little of the secret anguish of that departure. She only knew that it was just like her mother, having perfectly arranged the entire house for the arrival of the honeymoon couple from Buxton, to flit early away so as to spare the natural blushing diffidence of the said couple. It was like her mother's commonsense and her mother's sympathetic comprehension. Further, Constance did not pursue her mother's feelings, being far too busy with her own. She sat there full of new knowledge and new importance, brimming with experience and strange, unexpected aspirations, purposes, yes--and cunnings! And yet, though the very curves of her cheeks seemed to be mysteriously altering, the old Constance still lingered in that frame, an innocent soul hesitating to spread its wings and quit for ever the body which had been its home; you could see the timid thing peeping wistfully out of the eyes of the married woman. Constance rang the bell for Maggie to clear the table; and as she did so she had the illusion that she was not really a married woman and a house-mistress, but only a kind of counterfeit. She did most fervently hope that all would go right in the house--at any rate until she had grown more accustomed to her situation. The hope was to be disappointed. Maggie's rather silly, obsequious smile concealed but for a moment the ineffable tragedy that had lain in wait for unarmed Constance. "If you please, Mrs. Povey," said Maggie, as she crushed cups together on the tin tray with her great, red hands, which always looked like something out of a butcher's shop; then a pause, "Will you please accept of this?" Now, before the wedding Maggie had already, with tears of affection, given Constance a pair of blue glass vases (in order to purchase which she had been obliged to ask for special permission to go out), and Constance wondered what was coming now from Maggie's pocket. A small piece of folded paper came from Maggie's pocket. Constance accepted of it, and read: "I begs to give one month's notice to leave. Signed Maggie. June 10, 1867." "Maggie!" exclaimed the old Constance, terrified by this incredible occurrence, ere the married woman could strangle her. "I never give notice before, Mrs. Povey," said Maggie, "so I don't know as I know how it ought for be done--not rightly. But I hope as you'll accept of it, Mrs. Povey." "Oh! of course," said Mrs. Povey, primly, just as if Maggie was not the central supporting pillar of the house, just as if Maggie had not assisted at her birth, just as if the end of the world had not abruptly been announced, just as if St. Luke's Square were not inconceivable without Maggie. "But why--" "Well, Mrs. Povey, I've been a-thinking it over in my kitchen, and I said to myself: 'If there's going to be one change there'd better be two,' I says. Not but what I wouldn't work my fingers to the bone for ye, Miss Constance." Here Maggie began to cry into the tray. Constance looked at her. Despite the special muslin of that day she had traces of the slatternliness of which Mrs. Baines had never been able to cure her. She was over forty, big, gawky. She had no figure, no charms of any kind. She was what was left of a woman after twenty-two years in the cave of a philanthropic family. And in her cave she had actually been thinking things over! Constance detected for the first time, beneath the dehumanized drudge, the stirrings of a separate and perhaps capricious individuality. Maggie's engagements had never been real to her employers. Within the house she had never been, in practice, anything but 'Maggie'--an organism. And now she was permitting herself ideas about changes! "You'll soon be suited with another, Mrs. Povey," said Maggie. "There's many a--many a--" She burst into sobs. "But if you really want to leave, what are you crying for, Maggie?" asked Mrs. Povey, at her wisest. "Have you told mother?" "No, miss," Maggie whimpered, absently wiping her wrinkled cheeks with ineffectual muslin. "I couldn't seem to fancy telling your mother. And as you're the mistress now, I thought as I'd save it for you when you come home. I hope you'll excuse me, Mrs. Povey." "Of course I'm very sorry. You've been a very good servant. And in these days--" The child had acquired this turn of speech from her mother. It did not appear to occur to either of them that they were living in the sixties. "Thank ye, miss." "And what are you thinking of doing, Maggie? You know you won't get many places like this." "To tell ye the truth, Mrs. Povey, I'm going to get married mysen." "Indeed!" murmured Constance, with the perfunctoriness of habit in replying to these tidings. "Oh! but I am, mum," Maggie insisted. "It's all settled. Mr. Hollins, mum." "Not Hollins, the fish-hawker!" "Yes, mum. I seem to fancy him. You don't remember as him and me was engaged in '48. He was my first, like. I broke it off because he was in that Chartist lot, and I knew as Mr. Baines would never stand that. Now he's asked me again. He's been a widower this long time." "I'm sure I hope you'll be happy, Maggie. But what about his habits?" A trifle! A nothing! Yet somehow, in the quiet customerless shop, the episode, with the scarce perceptible difference in Samuel's tone at his second remark, was delicious to Constance. Somehow it was the REAL beginning of her wifehood. (There had been about nine other real beginnings in the past fortnight.) Mr. Povey came in to supper, laden with ledgers and similar works which Constance had never even pretended to understand. It was a sign from him that the honeymoon was over. He was proprietor now, and his ardour for ledgers most justifiable. Still, there was the question of her servant. "Never!" he exclaimed, when she told him all about the end of the world. A 'never' which expressed extreme astonishment and the liveliest concern! But Constance had anticipated that he would have been just a little more knocked down, bowled over, staggered, stunned, flabbergasted. In a swift gleam of insight she saw that she had been in danger of forgetting her role of experienced, capable married woman. "I shall have to set about getting a fresh one," she said hastily, with an admirable assumption of light and easy casualness. Mr. Povey seemed to think that Hollins would suit Maggie pretty well. He made no remark to the betrothed when she answered the final bell of the night. He opened his ledgers, whistling. "I think I shall go up, dear," said Constance. "I've a lot of things to put away." "Do," said he. "Call out when you've done."

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