Direktlänk till inlägg 8 maj 2011

all day bare as a prairie

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.

 
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Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 11 maj 2011 08:16

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