The Romantic Egotist
Spires and Gargoyles
AT FIRST Amory noticed only the wealth of sunshine creeping
across the long, green swards, dancing on the leaded
window-panes, and swimming around the tops of spires and towers
and battlemented walls. Gradually he realized that he was really
walking up University Place, self-conscious about his suitcase,
developing a new tendency to glare straight ahead when he passed
any one. Several times he could have sworn that men turned to
look at him critically. He wondered vaguely if there was
something the matter with his clothes, and wished he had shaved
that morning on the train. He felt unnecessarily stiff and
awkward among these white-flannelled, bareheaded youths, who must
be juniors and seniors, judging from the savoir faire with which
He found that 12 University Place was a large, dilapidated
mansion, at present apparently uninhabited, though he knew it
housed usually a dozen freshmen. After a hurried skirmish with
his landlady he sallied out on a tour of exploration, but he had
gone scarcely a block when he became horribly conscious that he
must be the only man in town who was wearing a hat. He returned
hurriedly to 12 University, left his derby, and, emerging
bareheaded, loitered down Nassau Street, stopping to investigate
a display of athletic photographs in a store window, including a
large one of Allenby, the football captain, and next attracted by
the sign "Jigger Shop" over a confectionary window. This sounded
familiar, so he sauntered in and took a seat on a high stool.
"Chocolate sundae," he told a colored person.
"Double chocolate jiggah? Anything else?"
He munched four of these, finding them of pleasing savor, and
then consumed another double-chocolate jigger before ease
descended upon him. After a cursory inspection of the
pillow-cases, leather pennants, and Gibson Girls that lined the
walls, he left, and continued along Nassau Street with his hands
in his pockets. Gradually he was learning to distinguish between
upper classmen and entering men, even though the freshman cap
would not appear until the following Monday. Those who were too
obviously, too nervously at home were freshmen, for as each train
brought a new contingent it was immediately absorbed into the
hatless, white-shod, book-laden throng, whose function seemed to
be to drift endlessly up and down the street, emitting great
clouds of smoke from brand-new pipes. By afternoon Amory realized
that now the newest arrivals were taking him for an upper
classman, and he tried conscientiously to look both pleasantly
blasi and casually critical, which was as near as he could
analyze the prevalent facial expression.
At five o'clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice, so he
retreated to his house to see if any one else had arrived. Having
climbed the rickety stairs he scrutinized his room resignedly,
concluding that it was hopeless to attempt any more inspired
decoration than class banners and tiger pictures. There was a tap
at the door.
A slim face with gray eyes and a humorous smile appeared in the
"Got a hammer?"
"Nosorry. Maybe Mrs. Twelve, or whatever she goes by, has one."
The stranger advanced into the room.
"You an inmate of this asylum?"
"Awful barn for the rent we pay."
Amory had to agree that it was.
"I thought of the campus," he said, "but they say there's so few
freshmen that they're lost. Have to sit around and study for
something to do."
The gray-eyed man decided to introduce himself.
"My name's Holiday."
"Blaine's my name."
They shook hands with the fashionable low swoop. Amory grinned.
"Where'd you prep?"
"Andoverwhere did you?"
"Oh, did you? I had a cousin there."
They discussed the cousin thoroughly, and then Holiday announced
that he was to meet his brother for dinner at six.
"Come along and have a bite with us."
At the Kenilworth Amory met Burne Holidayhe of the gray eyes was
Kerryand during a limpid meal of thin soup and anfmic vegetables
they stared at the other freshmen, who sat either in small groups
looking very ill at ease, or in large groups seeming very much at
"I hear Commons is pretty bad," said Amory.
"That's the rumor. But you've got to eat thereor pay anyways."
"Oh, at Princeton you've got to swallow everything the first
year. It's like a damned prep school."
"Lot of pep, though," he insisted. "I wouldn't have gone to Yale
for a million."
"You going out for anything?" inquired Amory of the elder
"Not meBurne here is going out for the Princethe Daily
Princetonian, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"You going out for anything?"
"Whyyes. I'm going to take a whack at freshman football."
"Play at St. Regis's?"
"Some," admitted Amory depreciatingly, "but I'm getting so damned
"You're not thin."
"Well, I used to be stocky last fall."
After supper they attended the movies, where Amory was fascinated
by the glib comments of a man in front of him, as well as by the
wild yelling and shouting.
"Oh, honey-babyyou're so big and strong, but oh, so gentle!"
"Kiss her, kiss 'at lady, quick!"
A group began whistling "By the Sea," and the audience took it up
noisily. This was followed by an indistinguishable song that
included much stamping and then by an endless, incoherent dirge.
She works in a Jam Factoree
But you can't-fool-me
For I knowDAMNWELL
That she DON'T-make-jam-all-night!
As they pushed out, giving and receiving curious impersonal
glances, Amory decided that he liked the movies, wanted to enjoy
them as the row of upper classmen in front had enjoyed them, with
their arms along the backs of the seats, their comments Gaelic
and caustic, their attitude a mixture of critical wit and
"Want a sundaeI mean a jigger?" asked Kerry.
They suppered heavily and then, still sauntering, eased back to
"It's a whiz."
"You men going to unpack?"
"Guess so. Come on, Burne."
Amory decided to sit for a while on the front steps, so he bade
them good night.
The great tapestries of trees had darkened to ghosts back at the
last edge of twilight. The early moon had drenched the arches
with pale blue, and, weaving over the night, in and out of the
gossamer rifts of moon, swept a song, a song with more than a
hint of sadness, infinitely transient, infinitely regretful.
He remembered that an alumnus of the nineties had told him of one
of Booth Tarkington's amusements: standing in mid-campus in the
small hours and singing tenor songs to the stars, arousing
mingled emotions in the couched undergraduates according to the
sentiment of their moods.
Now, far down the shadowy line of University Place a white-clad
phalanx broke the gloom, and marching figures, white-shirted,
white-trousered, swung rhythmically up the street, with linked
arms and heads thrown back:
"Going backgoing back,
Going backgoing back
Going backgoing back,
Amory closed his eyes as the ghostly procession drew near. The
song soared so high that all dropped out except the tenors, who
bore the melody triumphantly past the danger-point and
relinquished it to the fantastic chorus. Then Amory opened his
eyes, half afraid that sight would spoil the rich illusion of
He sighed eagerly. There at the head of the white platoon marched
Allenby, the football captain, slim and defiant, as if aware that
this year the hopes of the college rested on him, that his
hundred-and-sixty pounds were expected to dodge to victory
through the heavy blue and crimson lines.
Fascinated, Amory watched each rank of linked arms as it came
abreast, the faces indistinct above the polo shirts, the voices
blent in a pfan of triumphand then the procession passed through
shadowy Campbell Arch, and the voices grew fainter as it wound
eastward over the campus.
The minutes passed and Amory sat there very quietly. He regretted
the rule that would forbid freshmen to be outdoors after curfew,
for he wanted to ramble through the shadowy scented lanes, where
Witherspoon brooded like a dark mother over Whig and Clio, her
Attic children, where the black Gothic snake of Little curled
down to Cuyler and Patton, these in turn flinging the mystery out
over the placid slope rolling to the lake.
Princeton of the daytime filtered slowly into his
consciousnessWest and Reunion, redolent of the sixties,
Seventy-nine Hall, brick-red and arrogant, Upper and Lower Pyne,
aristocratic Elizabethan ladies not quite content to live among
shopkeepers, and, topping all, climbing with clear blue
aspiration, the great dreaming spires of Holder and Cleveland
From the first he loved Princetonits lazy beauty, its
half-grasped significance, the wild moonlight revel of the
rushes, the handsome, prosperous big-game crowds, and under it
all the air of struggle that pervaded his class. From the day
when, wild-eyed and exhausted, the jerseyed freshmen sat in the
gymnasium and elected some one from Hill School class president,
a Lawrenceville celebrity vice-president, a hockey star from St.
Paul's secretary, up until the end of sophomore year it never
ceased, that breathless social system, that worship, seldom
named, never really admitted, of the bogey "Big Man."
First it was schools, and Amory, alone from St. Regis', watched
the crowds form and widen and form again; St. Paul's, Hill,
Pomfret, eating at certain tacitly reserved tables in Commons,
dressing in their own corners of the gymnasium, and drawing
unconsciously about them a barrier of the slightly less important
but socially ambitious to protect them from the friendly, rather
puzzled high-school element. From the moment he realized this
Amory resented social barriers as artificial distinctions made by
the strong to bolster up their weak retainers and keep out the
Having decided to be one of the gods of the class, he reported
for freshman football practice, but in the second week, playing
quarter-back, already paragraphed in corners of the Princetonian,
he wrenched his knee seriously enough to put him out for the rest
of the season. This forced him to retire and consider the
"12 Univee" housed a dozen miscellaneous question-marks. There
were three or four inconspicuous and quite startled boys from
Lawrenceville, two amateur wild men from a New York private
school (Kerry Holiday christened them the "plebeian drunks"), a
Jewish youth, also from New York, and, as compensation for Amory,
the two Holidays, to whom he took an instant fancy.
The Holidays were rumored twins, but really the dark-haired one,
Kerry, was a year older than his blond brother, Burne. Kerry was
tall, with humorous gray eyes, and a sudden, attractive smile; he
became at once the mentor of the house, reaper of ears that grew
too high, censor of conceit, vendor of rare, satirical humor.
Amory spread the table of their future friendship with all his
ideas of what college should and did mean. Kerry, not inclined as
yet to take things seriously, chided him gently for being curious
at this inopportune time about the intricacies of the social
system, but liked him and was both interested and amused.
Burne, fair-haired, silent, and intent, appeared in the house
only as a busy apparition, gliding in quietly at night and off
again in the early morning to get up his work in the libraryhe
was out for the Princetonian, competing furiously against forty
others for the coveted first place. In December he came down with
diphtheria, and some one else won the competition, but, returning
to college in February, he dauntlessly went after the prize
again. Necessarily, Amory's acquaintance with him was in the way
of three-minute chats, walking to and from lectures, so he failed
to penetrate Burne's one absorbing interest and find what lay
Amory was far from contented. He missed the place he had won at
St. Regis', the being known and admired, yet Princeton stimulated
him, and there were many things ahead calculated to arouse the
Machiavelli latent in him, could he but insert a wedge. The
upper-class clubs, concerning which he had pumped a reluctant
graduate during the previous summer, excited his curiosity: Ivy,
detached and breathlessly aristocratic; Cottage, an impressive
milange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed philanderers;
Tiger Inn, broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by an honest
elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown,
anti-alcoholic, faintly religious and politically powerful;
flamboyant Colonial; literary Quadrangle; and the dozen others,
varying in age and position.
Anything which brought an under classman into too glaring a light
was labelled with the damning brand of "running it out." The
movies thrived on caustic comments, but the men who made them
were generally running it out; talking of clubs was running it
out; standing for anything very strongly, as, for instance,
drinking parties or teetotalling, was running it out; in short,
being personally conspicuous was not tolerated, and the
influential man was the non-committal man, until at club
elections in sophomore year every one should be sewed up in some
bag for the rest of his college career.
Amory found that writing for the Nassau Literary Magazine would
get him nothing, but that being on the board of the Daily
Princetonian would get any one a good deal. His vague desire to
do immortal acting with the English Dramatic Association faded
out when he found that the most ingenious brains and talents were
concentrated upon the Triangle Club, a musical comedy
organization that every year took a great Christmas trip. In the
meanwhile, feeling strangely alone and restless in Commons, with
new desires and ambitions stirring in his mind, he let the first
term go by between an envy of the embryo successes and a puzzled
fretting with Kerry as to why they were not accepted immediately
among the ilite of the class.
Many afternoons they lounged in the windows of 12 Univee and
watched the class pass to and from Commons, noting satellites
already attaching themselves to the more prominent, watching the
lonely grind with his hurried step and downcast eye, envying the
happy security of the big school groups.
"We're the damned middle class, that's what!" he complained to
Kerry one day as he lay stretched out on the sofa, consuming a
family of Fatimas with contemplative precision.
"Well, why not? We came to Princeton so we could feel that way
toward the small collegeshave it on 'em, more self-confidence,
dress better, cut a swathe"
"Oh, it isn't that I mind the glittering caste system," admitted
Amory. "I like having a bunch of hot cats on top, but gosh,
Kerry, I've got to be one of them."
"But just now, Amory, you're only a sweaty bourgeois."
Amory lay for a moment without speaking.
"I won't belong," he said finally. "But I hate to get anywhere by
working for it. I'll show the marks, don't you know."
"Honorable scars." Kerry craned his neck suddenly at the street.
"There's Langueduc, if you want to see what he looks likeand
Humbird just behind."
Amory rose dynamically and sought the windows.
"Oh," he said, scrutinizing these worthies, "Humbird looks like a
knockout, but this Langueduche's the rugged type, isn't he? I
distrust that sort. All diamonds look big in the rough."
"Well," said Kerry, as the excitement subsided, "you're a
literary genius. It's up to you."
"I wonder"Amory paused"if I could be. I honestly think so
sometimes. That sounds like the devil, and I wouldn't say it to
anybody except you."
"Wellgo ahead. Let your hair grow and write poems like this guy
D'Invilliers in the Lit."
Amory reached lazily at a pile of magazines on the table.
"Read his latest effort?"
"Never miss 'em. They're rare."
Amory glanced through the issue.
"Hello!" he said in surprise, "he's a freshman, isn't he?"
"Listen to this! My God!
"'A serving lady speaks:
Black velvet trails its folds over the day,
White tapers, prisoned in their silver frames,
Wave their thin flames like shadows in the wind,
Pia, Pompia, comecome away'
"Now, what the devil does that mean?"
"It's a pantry scene."
"'Her toes are stiffened like a stork's in flight;
She's laid upon her bed, on the white sheets,
Her hands pressed on her smooth bust like a saint,
Bella Cunizza, come into the light!'
"My gosh, Kerry, what in hell is it all about? I swear I don't
get him at all, and I'm a literary bird myself."
"It's pretty tricky," said Kerry, "only you've got to think of
hearses and stale milk when you read it. That isn't as pash as
some of them."
Amory tossed the magazine on the table.
"Well," he sighed, "I sure am up in the air. I know I'm not a
regular fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't
decide whether to cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist, or
to thumb my nose at the Golden Treasury and be a Princeton
"Why decide?" suggested Kerry. "Better drift, like me. I'm going
to sail into prominence on Burne's coat-tails."
"I can't driftI want to be interested. I want to pull strings,
even for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle
president. I want to be admired, Kerry."
"You're thinking too much about yourself."
Amory sat up at this.
"No. I'm thinking about you, too. We've got to get out and mix
around the class right now, when it's fun to be a snob. I'd like
to bring a sardine to the prom in June, for instance, but I
wouldn't do it unless I could be damn debonaire about itintroduce
her to all the prize parlor-snakes, and the football captain, and
all that simple stuff."
"Amory," said Kerry impatiently, "you're just going around in a
circle. If you want to be prominent, get out and try for
something; if you don't, just take it easy." He yawned. "Come on,
let's let the smoke drift off. We'll go down and watch football
Amory gradually accepted this point of view, decided that next
fall would inaugurate his career, and relinquished himself to
watching Kerry extract joy from 12 Univee.
They filled the Jewish youth's bed with lemon pie; they put out
the gas all over the house every night by blowing into the jet in
Amory's room, to the bewilderment of Mrs. Twelve and the local
plumber; they set up the effects of the plebeian drunkspictures,
books, and furniturein the bathroom, to the confusion of the
pair, who hazily discovered the transposition on their return
from a Trenton spree; they were disappointed beyond measure when
the plebeian drunks decided to take it as a joke; they played
red-dog and twenty-one and jackpot from dinner to dawn, and on
the occasion of one man's birthday persuaded him to buy
sufficient champagne for a hilarious celebration. The donor of
the party having remained sober, Kerry and Amory accidentally
dropped him down two flights of stairs and called, shame-faced
and penitent, at the infirmary all the following week.
"Say, who are all these women?" demanded Kerry one day,
protesting at the size of Amory's mail. "I've been looking at the
postmarks latelyFarmington and Dobbs and Westover and Dana
Hallwhat's the idea?"
"All from the Twin Cities." He named them off. "There's Marylyn
De Wittshe's pretty, got a car of her own and that's damn
convenient; there's Sally Weatherbyshe's getting too fat; there's
Myra St. Claire, she's an old flame, easy to kiss if you like it"
"What line do you throw 'em?" demanded Kerry. "I've tried
everything, and the mad wags aren't even afraid of me."
"You're the 'nice boy' type," suggested Amory.
"That's just it. Mother always feels the girl is safe if she's
with me. Honestly, it's annoying. If I start to hold somebody's
hand, they laugh at me, and let me, just as if it wasn't part of
them. As soon as I get hold of a hand they sort of disconnect it
from the rest of them."
"Sulk," suggested Amory. "Tell 'em you're wild and have 'em
reform yougo home furiouscome back in half an hourstartle 'em."
Kerry shook his head.
"No chance. I wrote a St. Timothy girl a really loving letter
last year. In one place I got rattled and said: 'My God, how I
love you!' She took a nail scissors, clipped out the 'My God' and
showed the rest of the letter all over school. Doesn't work at
all. I'm just 'good old Kerry' and all that rot."
Amory smiled and tried to picture himself as "good old Amory." He
February dripped snow and rain, the cyclonic freshman mid-years
passed, and life in 12 Univee continued interesting if not
purposeful. Once a day Amory indulged in a club sandwich,
cornflakes, and Julienne potatoes at "Joe's," accompanied usually
by Kerry or Alec Connage. The latter was a quiet, rather aloof
slicker from Hotchkiss, who lived next door and shared the same
enforced singleness as Amory, due to the fact that his entire
class had gone to Yale. "Joe's" was unfsthetic and faintly
unsanitary, but a limitless charge account could be opened there,
a convenience that Amory appreciated. His father had been
experimenting with mining stocks and, in consequence, his
allowance, while liberal, was not at all what he had expected.
"Joe's" had the additional advantage of seclusion from curious
upper-class eyes, so at four each afternoon Amory, accompanied by
friend or book, went up to experiment with his digestion. One day
in March, finding that all the tables were occupied, he slipped
into a chair opposite a freshman who bent intently over a book at
the last table. They nodded briefly. For twenty minutes Amory sat
consuming bacon buns and reading "Mrs. Warren's Profession" (he
had discovered Shaw quite by accident while browsing in the
library during mid-years); the other freshman, also intent on his
volume, meanwhile did away with a trio of chocolate malted milks.
By and by Amory's eyes wandered curiously to his fellow-luncher's
book. He spelled out the name and title upside down"Marpessa," by
Stephen Phillips. This meant nothing to him, his metrical
education having been confined to such Sunday classics as "Come
into the Garden, Maude," and what morsels of Shakespeare and
Milton had been recently forced upon him.
Moved to address his vis-`-vis, he simulated interest in his book
for a moment, and then exclaimed aloud as if involuntarily:
"Ha! Great stuff!"
The other freshman looked up and Amory registered artificial
"Are you referring to your bacon buns?" His cracked, kindly voice
went well with the large spectacles and the impression of a
voluminous keenness that he gave.
"No," Amory answered. "I was referring to Bernard Shaw." He
turned the book around in explanation.
"I've never read any Shaw. I've always meant to." The boy paused
and then continued: "Did you ever read Stephen Phillips, or do
you like poetry?"
"Yes, indeed," Amory affirmed eagerly. "I've never read much of
Phillips, though." (He had never heard of any Phillips except the
late David Graham.)
"It's pretty fair, I think. Of course he's a Victorian." They
sallied into a discussion of poetry, in the course of which they
introduced themselves, and Amory's companion proved to be none
other than "that awful highbrow, Thomas Parke D'Invilliers," who
signed the passionate love-poems in the Lit. He was, perhaps,
nineteen, with stooped shoulders, pale blue eyes, and, as Amory
could tell from his general appearance, without much conception
of social competition and such phenomena of absorbing interest.
Still, he liked books, and it seemed forever since Amory had met
any one who did; if only that St. Paul's crowd at the next table
would not mistake him for a bird, too, he would enjoy the
encounter tremendously. They didn't seem to be noticing, so he
let himself go, discussed books by the dozensbooks he had read,
read about, books he had never heard of, rattling off lists of
titles with the facility of a Brentano's clerk. D'Invilliers was
partially taken in and wholly delighted. In a good-natured way he
had almost decided that Princeton was one part deadly Philistines
and one part deadly grinds, and to find a person who could
mention Keats without stammering, yet evidently washed his hands,
was rather a treat.
"Ever read any Oscar Wilde?" he asked.
"No. Who wrote it?"
"It's a mandon't you know?"
"Oh, surely." A faint chord was struck in Amory's memory. "Wasn't
the comic opera, 'Patience,' written about him?"
"Yes, that's the fella. I've just finished a book of his, 'The
Picture of Dorian Gray,' and I certainly wish you'd read it.
You'd like it. You can borrow it if you want to."
"Why, I'd like it a lotthanks."
"Don't you want to come up to the room? I've got a few other
Amory hesitated, glanced at the St. Paul's groupone of them was
the magnificent, exquisite Humbirdand he considered how
determinate the addition of this friend would be. He never got to
the stage of making them and getting rid of themhe was not hard
enough for thatso he measured Thomas Parke D'Invilliers'
undoubted attractions and value against the menace of cold eyes
behind tortoise-rimmed spectacles that he fancied glared from the
"Yes, I'll go."
So he found "Dorian Gray" and the "Mystic and Somber Dolores" and
the "Belle Dame sans Merci"; for a month was keen on naught else.
The world became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look
at Princeton through the satiated eyes of Oscar Wilde and
Swinburneor "Fingal O'Flaherty" and "Algernon Charles," as he
called them in pricieuse jest. He read enormously every
nightShaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats, Synge, Ernest
Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh Benson, the
Savoy Operasjust a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly
discovered that he had read nothing for years.
Tom D'Invilliers became at first an occasion rather than a
friend. Amory saw him about once a week, and together they gilded
the ceiling of Tom's room and decorated the walls with imitation
tapestry, bought at an auction, tall candlesticks and figured
curtains. Amory liked him for being clever and literary without
effeminacy or affectation. In fact, Amory did most of the
strutting and tried painfully to make every remark an epigram,
than which, if one is content with ostensible epigrams, there are
many feats harder. 12 Univee was amused. Kerry read "Dorian Gray"
and simulated Lord Henry, following Amory about, addressing him
as "Dorian" and pretending to encourage in him wicked fancies and
attenuated tendencies to ennui. When he carried it into Commons,
to the amazement of the others at table, Amory became furiously
embarrassed, and after that made epigrams only before
D'Invilliers or a convenient mirror.
One day Tom and Amory tried reciting their own and Lord Dunsany's
poems to the music of Kerry's graphophone.
"Chant!" cried Tom. "Don't recite! Chant!"
Amory, who was performing, looked annoyed, and claimed that he
needed a record with less piano in it. Kerry thereupon rolled on
the floor in stifled laughter.
"Put on 'Hearts and Flowers'!" he howled. "Oh, my Lord, I'm going
to cast a kitten."
"Shut off the damn graphophone," Amory cried, rather red in the
face. "I'm not giving an exhibition."
In the meanwhile Amory delicately kept trying to awaken a sense
of the social system in D'Invilliers, for he knew that this poet
was really more conventional than he, and needed merely watered
hair, a smaller range of conversation, and a darker brown hat to
become quite regular. But the liturgy of Livingstone collars and
dark ties fell on heedless ears; in fact D'Invilliers faintly
resented his efforts; so Amory confined himself to calls once a
week, and brought him occasionally to 12 Univee. This caused mild
titters among the other freshmen, who called them "Doctor Johnson
Alec Connage, another frequent visitor, liked him in a vague way,
but was afraid of him as a highbrow. Kerry, who saw through his
poetic patter to the solid, almost respectable depths within, was
immensely amused and would have him recite poetry by the hour,
while he lay with closed eyes on Amory's sofa and listened:
"Asleep or waking is it? for her neck
Kissed over close, wears yet a purple speck
Wherein the pained blood falters and goes out;
Soft and stung softlyfairer for a fleck..."
"That's good," Kerry would say softly. "It pleases the elder
Holiday. That's a great poet, I guess." Tom, delighted at an
audience, would ramble through the "Poems and Ballades" until
Kerry and Amory knew them almost as well as he.
Amory took to writing poetry on spring afternoons, in the gardens
of the big estates near Princeton, while swans made effective
atmosphere in the artificial pools, and slow clouds sailed
harmoniously above the willows. May came too soon, and suddenly
unable to bear walls, he wandered the campus at all hours through
starlight and rain.
A DAMP SYMBOLIC INTERLUDE
The night mist fell. From the moon it rolled, clustered about the
spires and towers, and then settled below them, so that the
dreaming peaks were still in lofty aspiration toward the sky.
Figures that dotted the day like ants now brushed along as
shadowy ghosts, in and out of the foreground. The Gothic halls
and cloisters were infinitely more mysterious as they loomed
suddenly out of the darkness, outlined each by myriad faint
squares of yellow light. Indefinitely from somewhere a bell
boomed the quarter-hour, and Amory, pausing by the sun-dial,
stretched himself out full length on the damp grass. The cool
bathed his eyes and slowed the flight of timetime that had crept
so insidiously through the lazy April afternoons, seemed so
intangible in the long spring twilights. Evening after evening
the senior singing had drifted over the campus in melancholy
beauty, and through the shell of his undergraduate consciousness
had broken a deep and reverent devotion to the gray walls and
Gothic peaks and all they symbolized as warehouses of dead ages.
The tower that in view of his window sprang upward, grew into a
spire, yearning higher until its uppermost tip was half invisible
against the morning skies, gave him the first sense of the
transiency and unimportance of the campus figures except as
holders of the apostolic succession. He liked knowing that Gothic
architecture, with its upward trend, was peculiarly appropriate
to universities, and the idea became personal to him. The silent
stretches of green, the quiet halls with an occasional
late-burning scholastic light held his imagination in a strong
grasp, and the chastity of the spire became a symbol of this
"Damn it all," he whispered aloud, wetting his hands in the damp
and running them through his hair. "Next year I work!" Yet he
knew that where now the spirit of spires and towers made him
dreamily acquiescent, it would then overawe him. Where now he
realized only his own inconsequence, effort would make him aware
of his own impotency and insufficiency.
The college dreamed onawake. He felt a nervous excitement that
might have been the very throb of its slow heart. It was a stream
where he was to throw a stone whose faint ripple would be
vanishing almost as it left his hand. As yet he had given
nothing, he had taken nothing.
A belated freshman, his oilskin slicker rasping loudly, slushed
along the soft path. A voice from somewhere called the inevitable
formula, "Stick out your head!" below an unseen window. A hundred
little sounds of the current drifting on under the fog pressed in
finally on his consciousness.
"Oh, God!" he cried suddenly, and started at the sound of his
voice in the stillness. The rain dripped on. A minute longer he
lay without moving, his hands clinched. Then he sprang to his
feet and gave his clothes a tentative pat.
"I'm very damn wet!" he said aloud to the sun-dial.
The war began in the summer following his freshman year. Beyond a
sporting interest in the German dash for Paris the whole affair
failed either to thrill or interest him. With the attitude he
might have held toward an amusing melodrama he hoped it would be
long and bloody. If it had not continued he would have felt like
an irate ticket-holder at a prize-fight where the principals
refused to mix it up.
That was his total reaction.
"All right, ponies!"
"Shake it up!"
"Hey, ponieshow about easing up on that crap game and shaking a
The coach fumed helplessly, the Triangle Club president,
glowering with anxiety, varied between furious bursts of
authority and fits of temperamental lassitude, when he sat
spiritless and wondered how the devil the show was ever going on
tour by Christmas.
"All right. We'll take the pirate song."
The ponies took last drags at their cigarettes and slumped into
place; the leading lady rushed into the foreground, setting his
hands and feet in an atmospheric mince; and as the coach clapped
and stamped and tumped and da-da'd, they hashed out a dance.
A great, seething ant-hill was the Triangle Club. It gave a
musical comedy every year, travelling with cast, chorus,
orchestra, and scenery all through Christmas vacation. The play
and music were the work of undergraduates, and the club itself
was the most influential of institutions, over three hundred men
competing for it every year.
Amory, after an easy victory in the first sophomore Princetonian
competition, stepped into a vacancy of the cast as Boiling Oil, a
Pirate Lieutenant. Every night for the last week they had
rehearsed "Ha-Ha Hortense!" in the Casino, from two in the
afternoon until eight in the morning, sustained by dark and
powerful coffee, and sleeping in lectures through the interim. A
rare scene, the Casino. A big, barnlike auditorium, dotted with
boys as girls, boys as pirates, boys as babies; the scenery in
course of being violently set up; the spotlight man rehearsing by
throwing weird shafts into angry eyes; over all the constant
tuning of the orchestra or the cheerful tumpty-tump of a Triangle
tune. The boy who writes the lyrics stands in the corner, biting
a pencil, with twenty minutes to think of an encore; the business
manager argues with the secretary as to how much money can be
spent on "those damn milkmaid costumes"; the old graduate,
president in ninety-eight, perches on a box and thinks how much
simpler it was in his day.
How a Triangle show ever got off was a mystery, but it was a
riotous mystery, anyway, whether or not one did enough service to
wear a little gold Triangle on his watch-chain. "Ha-Ha Hortense!"
was written over six times and had the names of nine
collaborators on the programme. All Triangle shows started by
being "something differentnot just a regular musical comedy," but
when the several authors, the president, the coach and the
faculty committee finished with it, there remained just the old
reliable Triangle show with the old reliable jokes and the star
comedian who got expelled or sick or something just before the
trip, and the dark-whiskered man in the pony-ballet, who
"absolutely won't shave twice a day, doggone it!"
There was one brilliant place in "Ha-Ha Hortense!" It is a
Princeton tradition that whenever a Yale man who is a member of
the widely advertised "Skull and Bones" hears the sacred name
mentioned, he must leave the room. It is also a tradition that
the members are invariably successful in later life, amassing
fortunes or votes or coupons or whatever they choose to amass.
Therefore, at each performance of "Ha-Ha Hortense!" half-a-dozen
seats were kept from sale and occupied by six of the
worst-looking vagabonds that could be hired from the streets,
further touched up by the Triangle make-up man. At the moment in
the show where Firebrand, the Pirate Chief, pointed at his black
flag and said, "I am a Yale graduatenot my Skull and Bones!"at
this very moment the six vagabonds were instructed to rise
conspicuously and leave the theatre with looks of deep melancholy
and an injured dignity. It was claimed though never proved that
on one occasion the hired Elis were swelled by one of the real
They played through vacation to the fashionable of eight cities.
Amory liked Louisville and Memphis best: these knew how to meet
strangers, furnished extraordinary punch, and flaunted an
astonishing array of feminine beauty. Chicago he approved for a
certain verve that transcended its loud accenthowever, it was a
Yale town, and as the Yale Glee Club was expected in a week the
Triangle received only divided homage. In Baltimore, Princeton
was at home, and every one fell in love. There was a proper
consumption of strong waters all along the line; one man
invariably went on the stage highly stimulated, claiming that his
particular interpretation of the part required it. There were
three private cars; however, no one slept except in the third
car, which was called the "animal car," and where were herded the
spectacled wind-jammers of the orchestra. Everything was so
hurried that there was no time to be bored, but when they arrived
in Philadelphia, with vacation nearly over, there was rest in
getting out of the heavy atmosphere of flowers and grease-paint,
and the ponies took off their corsets with abdominal pains and
sighs of relief.
When the disbanding came, Amory set out posthaste for
Minneapolis, for Sally Weatherby's cousin, Isabelle Borgi, was
coming to spend the winter in Minneapolis while her parents went
abroad. He remembered Isabelle only as a little girl with whom he
had played sometimes when he first went to Minneapolis. She had
gone to Baltimore to livebut since then she had developed a past.
Amory was in full stride, confident, nervous, and jubilant.
Scurrying back to Minneapolis to see a girl he had known as a
child seemed the interesting and romantic thing to do, so without
compunction he wired his mother not to expect him ... sat in the
train, and thought about himself for thirty-six hours.
On the Triangle trip Amory had come into constant contact with
that great current American phenomenon, the "petting party."
None of the Victorian mothersand most of the mothers were
Victorianhad any idea how casually their daughters were
accustomed to be kissed. "Servant-girls are that way," says Mrs.
Huston-Carmelite to her popular daughter. "They are kissed first
and proposed to afterward."
But the Popular Daughter becomes engaged every six months between
sixteen and twenty-two, when she arranges a match with young
Hambell, of Cambell & Hambell, who fatuously considers himself
her first love, and between engagements the P. D. (she is
selected by the cut-in system at dances, which favors the
survival of the fittest) has other sentimental last kisses in the
moonlight, or the firelight, or the outer darkness.
Amory saw girls doing things that even in his memory would have
been impossible: eating three-o'clock, after-dance suppers in
impossible cafis, talking of every side of life with an air half
of earnestness, half of mockery, yet with a furtive excitement
that Amory considered stood for a real moral let-down. But he
never realized how wide-spread it was until he saw the cities
between New York and Chicago as one vast juvenile intrigue.
Afternoon at the Plaza, with winter twilight hovering outside and
faint drums down-stairs ... they strut and fret in the lobby,
taking another cocktail, scrupulously attired and waiting. Then
the swinging doors revolve and three bundles of fur mince in. The
theatre comes afterward; then a table at the Midnight Frolicof
course, mother will be along there, but she will serve only to
make things more secretive and brilliant as she sits in solitary
state at the deserted table and thinks such entertainments as
this are not half so bad as they are painted, only rather
wearying. But the P. D. is in love again ... it was odd, wasn't
it?that though there was so much room left in the taxi the P. D.
and the boy from Williams were somehow crowded out and had to go
in a separate car. Odd! Didn't you notice how flushed the P. D.
was when she arrived just seven minutes late? But the P. D. "gets
away with it."
The "belle" had become the "flirt," the "flirt" had become the
"baby vamp." The "belle" had five or six callers every afternoon.
If the P. D., by some strange accident, has two, it is made
pretty uncomfortable for the one who hasn't a date with her. The
"belle" was surrounded by a dozen men in the intermissions
between dances. Try to find the P. D. between dances, just try to
The same girl ... deep in an atmosphere of jungle music and the
questioning of moral codes. Amory found it rather fascinating to
feel that any popular girl he met before eight he might quite
possibly kiss before twelve.
"Why on earth are we here?" he asked the girl with the green
combs one night as they sat in some one's limousine, outside the
Country Club in Louisville.
"I don't know. I'm just full of the devil."
"Let's be frankwe'll never see each other again. I wanted to come
out here with you because I thought you were the best-looking
girl in sight. You really don't care whether you ever see me
again, do you?"
"Nobut is this your line for every girl? What have I done to
"And you didn't feel tired dancing or want a cigarette or any of
the things you said? You just wanted to be"
"Oh, let's go in," she interrupted, "if you want to analyze.
Let's not talk about it."
When the hand-knit, sleeveless jerseys were stylish, Amory, in a
burst of inspiration, named them "petting shirts." The name
travelled from coast to coast on the lips of parlor-snakes and P.
Amory was now eighteen years old, just under six feet tall and
exceptionally, but not conventionally, handsome. He had rather a
young face, the ingenuousness of which was marred by the
penetrating green eyes, fringed with long dark eyelashes. He
lacked somehow that intense animal magnetism that so often
accompanies beauty in men or women; his personality seemed rather
a mental thing, and it was not in his power to turn it on and off
like a water-faucet. But people never forgot his face.
She paused at the top of the staircase. The sensations attributed
to divers on spring-boards, leading ladies on opening nights, and
lumpy, husky young men on the day of the Big Game, crowded
through her. She should have descended to a burst of drums or a
discordant blend of themes from "Thais" and "Carmen." She had
never been so curious about her appearance, she had never been so
satisfied with it. She had been sixteen years old for six months.
"Isabelle!" called her cousin Sally from the doorway of the
"I'm ready." She caught a slight lump of nervousness in her
"I had to send back to the house for another pair of slippers.
It'll be just a minute."
Isabelle started toward the dressing-room for a last peek in the
mirror, but something decided her to stand there and gaze down
the broad stairs of the Minnehaha Club. They curved
tantalizingly, and she could catch just a glimpse of two pairs of
masculine feet in the hall below. Pump-shod in uniform black,
they gave no hint of identity, but she wondered eagerly if one
pair were attached to Amory Blaine. This young man, not as yet
encountered, had nevertheless taken up a considerable part of her
daythe first day of her arrival. Coming up in the machine from
the station, Sally had volunteered, amid a rain of question,
comment, revelation, and exaggeration:
"You remember Amory Blaine, of course. Well, he's simply mad to
see you again. He's stayed over a day from college, and he's
coming to-night. He's heard so much about yousays he remembers
This had pleased Isabelle. It put them on equal terms, although
she was quite capable of staging her own romances, with or
without advance advertising. But following her happy tremble of
anticipation, came a sinking sensation that made her ask:
"How do you mean he's heard about me? What sort of things?"
Sally smiled. She felt rather in the capacity of a showman with
her more exotic cousin.
"He knows you'reyou're considered beautiful and all that"she
paused"and I guess he knows you've been kissed."
At this Isabelle's little fist had clinched suddenly under the
fur robe. She was accustomed to be thus followed by her desperate
past, and it never failed to rouse in her the same feeling of
resentment; yetin a strange town it was an advantageous
reputation. She was a "Speed," was she? Welllet them find out.
Out of the window Isabelle watched the snow glide by in the
frosty morning. It was ever so much colder here than in
Baltimore; she had not remembered; the glass of the side door was
iced, the windows were shirred with snow in the corners. Her mind
played still with one subject. Did he dress like that boy there,
who walked calmly down a bustling business street, in moccasins
and winter-carnival costume? How very Western! Of course he
wasn't that way: he went to Princeton, was a sophomore or
something. Really she had no distinct idea of him. An ancient
snap-shot she had preserved in an old kodak book had impressed
her by the big eyes (which he had probably grown up to by now).
However, in the last month, when her winter visit to Sally had
been decided on, he had assumed the proportions of a worthy
adversary. Children, most astute of match-makers, plot their
campaigns quickly, and Sally had played a clever correspondence
sonata to Isabelle's excitable temperament. Isabelle had been for
some time capable of very strong, if very transient emotions....
They drew up at a spreading, white-stone building, set back from
the snowy street. Mrs. Weatherby greeted her warmly and her
various younger cousins were produced from the corners where they
skulked politely. Isabelle met them tactfully. At her best she
allied all with whom she came in contactexcept older girls and
some women. All the impressions she made were conscious. The
half-dozen girls she renewed acquaintance with that morning were
all rather impressed and as much by her direct personality as by
her reputation. Amory Blaine was an open subject. Evidently a bit
light of love, neither popular nor unpopularevery girl there
seemed to have had an affair with him at some time or other, but
no one volunteered any really useful information. He was going to
fall for her.... Sally had published that information to her
young set and they were retailing it back to Sally as fast as
they set eyes on Isabelle. Isabelle resolved secretly that she
would, if necessary, force herself to like himshe owed it to
Sally. Suppose she were terribly disappointed. Sally had painted
him in such glowing colorshe was good-looking, "sort of
distinguished, when he wants to be," had a line, and was properly
inconstant. In fact, he summed up all the romance that her age
and environment led her to desire. She wondered if those were his
dancing-shoes that fox-trotted tentatively around the soft rug
All impressions and, in fact, all ideas were extremely
kaleidoscopic to Isabelle. She had that curious mixture of the
social and the artistic temperaments found often in two classes,
society women and actresses. Her education or, rather, her
sophistication, had been absorbed from the boys who had dangled
on her favor; her tact was instinctive, and her capacity for
love-affairs was limited only by the number of the susceptible
within telephone distance. Flirt smiled from her large
black-brown eyes and shone through her intense physical
So she waited at the head of the stairs that evening while
slippers were fetched. Just as she was growing impatient, Sally
came out of the dressing-room, beaming with her accustomed good
nature and high spirits, and together they descended to the floor
below, while the shifting search-light of Isabelle's mind flashed
on two ideas: she was glad she had high color to-night, and she
wondered if he danced well.
Down-stairs, in the club's great room, she was surrounded for a
moment by the girls she had met in the afternoon, then she heard
Sally's voice repeating a cycle of names, and found herself
bowing to a sextet of black and white, terribly stiff, vaguely
familiar figures. The name Blaine figured somewhere, but at first
she could not place him. A very confused, very juvenile moment of
awkward backings and bumpings followed, and every one found
himself talking to the person he least desired to. Isabelle
manoeuvred herself and Froggy Parker, freshman at Harvard, with
whom she had once played hop-scotch, to a seat on the stairs. A
humorous reference to the past was all she needed. The things
Isabelle could do socially with one idea were remarkable. First,
she repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a
soupgon of Southern accent; then she held it off at a distance
and smiled at ither wonderful smile; then she delivered it in
variations and played a sort of mental catch with it, all this in
the nominal form of dialogue. Froggy was fascinated and quite
unconscious that this was being done, not for him, but for the
green eyes that glistened under the shining carefully watered
hair, a little to her left, for Isabelle had discovered Amory. As
an actress even in the fullest flush of her own conscious
magnetism gets a deep impression of most of the people in the
front row, so Isabelle sized up her antagonist. First, he had
auburn hair, and from her feeling of disappointment she knew that
she had expected him to be dark and of garter-advertisement
slenderness.... For the rest, a faint flush and a straight,
romantic profile; the effect set off by a close-fitting dress
suit and a silk ruffled shirt of the kind that women still
delight to see men wear, but men were just beginning to get tired
During this inspection Amory was quietly watching.
"Don't you think so?" she said suddenly, turning to him,
There was a stir, and Sally led the way over to their table.
Amory struggled to Isabelle's side, and whispered:
"You're my dinner partner, you know. We're all coached for each
Isabelle gaspedthis was rather right in line. But really she felt
as if a good speech had been taken from the star and given to a
minor character.... She mustn't lose the leadership a bit. The
dinner-table glittered with laughter at the confusion of getting
places and then curious eyes were turned on her, sitting near the
head. She was enjoying this immensely, and Froggy Parker was so
engrossed with the added sparkle of her rising color that he
forgot to pull out Sally's chair, and fell into a dim confusion.
Amory was on the other side, full of confidence and vanity,
gazing at her in open admiration. He began directly, and so did
"I've heard a lot about you since you wore braids"
"Wasn't it funny this afternoon"
Both stopped. Isabelle turned to Amory shyly. Her face was always
enough answer for any one, but she decided to speak.
"From everybodyfor all the years since you've been away." She
blushed appropriately. On her right Froggy was hors de combat
already, although he hadn't quite realized it.
"I'll tell you what I remembered about you all these years,"
Amory continued. She leaned slightly toward him and looked
modestly at the celery before her. Froggy sighedhe knew Amory,
and the situations that Amory seemed born to handle. He turned to
Sally and asked her if she was going away to school next year.
Amory opened with grape-shot.
"I've got an adjective that just fits you." This was one of his
favorite startshe seldom had a word in mind, but it was a
curiosity provoker, and he could always produce something
complimentary if he got in a tight corner.
"Ohwhat?" Isabelle's face was a study in enraptured curiosity.
Amory shook his head.
"I don't know you very well yet."
"Will you tell meafterward?" she half whispered.
"We'll sit out."
"Did any one ever tell you, you have keen eyes?" she said.
Amory attempted to make them look even keener. He fancied, but he
was not sure, that her foot had just touched his under the table.
But it might possibly have been only the table leg. It was so
hard to tell. Still it thrilled him. He wondered quickly if there
would be any difficulty in securing the little den up-stairs.
BABES IN THE WOODS
Isabelle and Amory were distinctly not innocent, nor were they
particularly brazen. Moreover, amateur standing had very little
value in the game they were playing, a game that would presumably
be her principal study for years to come. She had begun as he
had, with good looks and an excitable temperament, and the rest
was the result of accessible popular novels and dressing-room
conversation culled from a slightly older set. Isabelle had
walked with an artificial gait at nine and a half, and when her
eyes, wide and starry, proclaimed the ingenue most. Amory was
proportionately less deceived. He waited for the mask to drop
off, but at the same time he did not question her right to wear
it. She, on her part, was not impressed by his studied air of
blasi sophistication. She had lived in a larger city and had
slightly an advantage in range. But she accepted his poseit was
one of the dozen little conventions of this kind of affair. He
was aware that he was getting this particular favor now because
she had been coached; he knew that he stood for merely the best
game in sight, and that he would have to improve his opportunity
before he lost his advantage. So they proceeded with an infinite
guile that would have horrified her parents.
After the dinner the dance began ... smoothly. Smoothly?boys cut
in on Isabelle every few feet and then squabbled in the corners
with: "You might let me get more than an inch!" and "She didn't
like it eithershe told me so next time I cut in." It was trueshe
told every one so, and gave every hand a parting pressure that
said: "You know that your dances are making my evening."
But time passed, two hours of it, and the less subtle beaux had
better learned to focus their pseudo-passionate glances
elsewhere, for eleven o'clock found Isabelle and Amory sitting on
the couch in the little den off the reading-room up-stairs. She
was conscious that they were a handsome pair, and seemed to
belong distinctively in this seclusion, while lesser lights
fluttered and chattered down-stairs.
Boys who passed the door looked in enviouslygirls who passed only
laughed and frowned and grew wise within themselves.
They had now reached a very definite stage. They had traded
accounts of their progress since they had met last, and she had
listened to much she had heard before. He was a sophomore, was on
the Princetonian board, hoped to be chairman in senior year. He
learned that some of the boys she went with in Baltimore were
"terrible speeds" and came to dances in states of artificial
stimulation; most of them were twenty or so, and drove alluring
red Stutzes. A good half seemed to have already flunked out of
various schools and colleges, but some of them bore athletic
names that made him look at her admiringly. As a matter of fact,
Isabelle's closer acquaintance with the universities was just
commencing. She had bowing acquaintance with a lot of young men
who thought she was a "pretty kidworth keeping an eye on." But
Isabelle strung the names into a fabrication of gayety that would
have dazzled a Viennese nobleman. Such is the power of young
contralto voices on sink-down sofas.
He asked her if she thought he was conceited. She said there was
a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored
self-confidence in men.
"Is Froggy a good friend of yours?" she asked.
"He's a bum dancer."
"He dances as if the girl were on his back instead of in his
She appreciated this.
"You're awfully good at sizing people up."
Amory denied this painfully. However, he sized up several people
for her. Then they talked about hands.
"You've got awfully nice hands," she said. "They look as if you
played the piano. Do you?"
I have said they had reached a very definite stagenay, more, a
very critical stage. Amory had stayed over a day to see her, and
his train left at twelve-eighteen that night. His trunk and
suitcase awaited him at the station; his watch was beginning to
hang heavy in his pocket.
"Isabelle," he said suddenly, "I want to tell you something."
They had been talking lightly about "that funny look in her
eyes," and Isabelle knew from the change in his manner what was
comingindeed, she had been wondering how soon it would come.
Amory reached above their heads and turned out the electric
light, so that they were in the dark, except for the red glow
that fell through the door from the reading-room lamps. Then he
"I don't know whether or not you know what youwhat I'm going to
say. Lordy, Isabellethis sounds like a line, but it isn't."
"I know," said Isabelle softly.
"Maybe we'll never meet again like thisI have darned hard luck
sometimes." He was leaning away from her on the other arm of the
lounge, but she could see his eyes plainly in the dark.
"You'll meet me againsilly." There was just the slightest
emphasis on the last wordso that it became almost a term of
endearment. He continued a bit huskily:
"I've fallen for a lot of peoplegirlsand I guess you have,
tooboys, I mean, but, honestly, you" he broke off suddenly and
leaned forward, chin on his hands: "Oh, what's the useyou'll go
your way and I suppose I'll go mine."
Silence for a moment. Isabelle was quite stirred; she wound her
handkerchief into a tight ball, and by the faint light that
streamed over her, dropped it deliberately on the floor. Their
hands touched for an instant, but neither spoke. Silences were
becoming more frequent and more delicious. Outside another stray
couple had come up and were experimenting on the piano in the
next room. After the usual preliminary of "chopsticks," one of
them started "Babes in the Woods" and a light tenor carried the
words into the den:
"Give me your hand
We're off to slumberland."
Isabelle hummed it softly and trembled as she felt Amory's hand
close over hers.
"Isabelle," he whispered. "You know I'm mad about you. You do
give a darn about me."
"How much do you caredo you like any one better?"
"No." He could scarcely hear her, although he bent so near that
he felt her breath against his cheek.
"Isabelle, I'm going back to college for six long months, and why
shouldn't weif I could only just have one thing to remember you
"Close the door...." Her voice had just stirred so that he half
wondered whether she had spoken at all. As he swung the door
softly shut, the music seemed quivering just outside.
"Moonlight is bright,
Kiss me good night."
What a wonderful song, she thoughteverything was wonderful
to-night, most of all this romantic scene in the den, with their
hands clinging and the inevitable looming charmingly close. The
future vista of her life seemed an unending succession of scenes
like this: under moonlight and pale starlight, and in the backs
of warm limousines and in low, cosy roadsters stopped under
sheltering treesonly the boy might change, and this one was so
nice. He took her hand softly. With a sudden movement he turned
it and, holding it to his lips, kissed the palm.
"Isabelle!" His whisper blended in the music, and they seemed to
float nearer together. Her breath came faster. "Can't I kiss you,
IsabelleIsabelle?" Lips half parted, she turned her head to him
in the dark. Suddenly the ring of voices, the sound of running
footsteps surged toward them. Quick as a flash Amory reached up
and turned on the light, and when the door opened and three boys,
the wrathy and dance-craving Froggy among them, rushed in, he was
turning over the magazines on the table, while she sat without
moving, serene and unembarrassed, and even greeted them with a
welcoming smile. But her heart was beating wildly, and she felt
somehow as if she had been deprived.
It was evidently over. There was a clamor for a dance, there was
a glance that passed between themon his side despair, on hers
regret, and then the evening went on, with the reassured beaux
and the eternal cutting in.
At quarter to twelve Amory shook hands with her gravely, in the
midst of a small crowd assembled to wish him good-speed. For an
instant he lost his poise, and she felt a bit rattled when a
satirical voice from a concealed wit cried:
"Take her outside, Amory!" As he took her hand he pressed it a
little, and she returned the pressure as she had done to twenty
hands that eveningthat was all.
At two o'clock back at the Weatherbys' Sally asked her if she and
Amory had had a "time" in the den. Isabelle turned to her
quietly. In her eyes was the light of the idealist, the inviolate
dreamer of Joan-like dreams.
"No," she answered. "I don't do that sort of thing any more; he
asked me to, but I said no."
As she crept in bed she wondered what he'd say in his special
delivery to-morrow. He had such a good-looking mouthwould she
"Fourteen angels were watching o'er them," sang Sally sleepily
from the next room.
"Damn!" muttered Isabelle, punching the pillow into a luxurious
lump and exploring the cold sheets cautiously. "Damn!"
Amory, by way of the Princetonian, had arrived. The minor snobs,
finely balanced thermometers of success, warmed to him as the
club elections grew nigh, and he and Tom were visited by groups
of upper classmen who arrived awkwardly, balanced on the edge of
the furniture and talked of all subjects except the one of
absorbing interest. Amory was amused at the intent eyes upon him,
and, in case the visitors represented some club in which he was
not interested, took great pleasure in shocking them with
"Oh, let me see" he said one night to a flabbergasted delegation,
"what club do you represent?"
With visitors from Ivy and Cottage and Tiger Inn he played the
"nice, unspoilt, ingenuous boy" very much at ease and quite
unaware of the object of the call.
When the fatal morning arrived, early in March, and the campus
became a document in hysteria, he slid smoothly into Cottage with
Alec Connage and watched his suddenly neurotic class with much
There were fickle groups that jumped from club to club; there
were friends of two or three days who announced tearfully and
wildly that they must join the same club, nothing should separate
them; there were snarling disclosures of long-hidden grudges as
the Suddenly Prominent remembered snubs of freshman year. Unknown
men were elevated into importance when they received certain
coveted bids; others who were considered "all set" found that
they had made unexpected enemies, felt themselves stranded and
deserted, talked wildly of leaving college.
In his own crowd Amory saw men kept out for wearing green hats,
for being "a damn tailor's dummy," for having "too much pull in
heaven," for getting drunk one night "not like a gentleman, by
God," or for unfathomable secret reasons known to no one but the
wielders of the black balls.
This orgy of sociability culminated in a gigantic party at the
Nassau Inn, where punch was dispensed from immense bowls, and the
whole down-stairs became a delirious, circulating, shouting
pattern of faces and voices.
"Goo' boy, Tom, you got a good bunch in Cap."
"Oh, KerryI hear you went Tiger with all the weight-lifters!"
"Well, I didn't go Cottagethe parlor-snakes' delight."
"They say Overton fainted when he got his Ivy bid Did he sign up
the first day?oh, no. Tore over to Murray-Dodge on a
bicycleafraid it was a mistake."
"How'd you get into Capyou old roui?"
"'Gratulations yourself. Hear you got a good crowd."
When the bar closed, the party broke up into groups and streamed,
singing, over the snow-clad campus, in a weird delusion that
snobbishness and strain were over at last, and that they could do
what they pleased for the next two years.
Long afterward Amory thought of sophomore spring as the happiest
time of his life. His ideas were in tune with life as he found
it; he wanted no more than to drift and dream and enjoy a dozen
new-found friendships through the April afternoons.
Alec Connage came into his room one morning and woke him up into
the sunshine and peculiar glory of Campbell Hall shining in the
"Wake up, Original Sin, and scrape yourself together. Be in front
of Renwick's in half an hour. Somebody's got a car." He took the
bureau cover and carefully deposited it, with its load of small
articles, upon the bed.
"Where'd you get the car?" demanded Amory cynically.
"Sacred trust, but don't be a critical goopher or you can't go!"
"I think I'll sleep," Amory said calmly, resettling himself and
reaching beside the bed for a cigarette.
"Why not? I've got a class at eleven-thirty."
"You damned gloom! Of course, if you don't want to go to the
With a bound Amory was out of bed, scattering the bureau cover's
burden on the floor. The coast ... he hadn't seen it for years,
since he and his mother were on their pilgrimage.
"Who's going?" he demanded as he wriggled into his B. V. D.'s.
"Oh, Dick Humbird and Kerry Holiday and Jesse Ferrenby andoh
about five or six. Speed it up, kid!"
In ten minutes Amory was devouring cornflakes in Renwick's, and
at nine-thirty they bowled happily out of town, headed for the
sands of Deal Beach.
"You see," said Kerry, "the car belongs down there. In fact, it
was stolen from Asbury Park by persons unknown, who deserted it
in Princeton and left for the West. Heartless Humbird here got
permission from the city council to deliver it."
"Anybody got any money?" suggested Ferrenby, turning around from
the front seat.
There was an emphatic negative chorus.
"That makes it interesting."
"Moneywhat's money? We can sell the car."
"Charge him salvage or something."
"How're we going to get food?" asked Amory.
"Honestly," answered Kerry, eying him reprovingly, "do you doubt
Kerry's ability for three short days? Some people have lived on
nothing for years at a time. Read the Boy Scout Monthly."
"Three days," Amory mused, "and I've got classes."
"One of the days is the Sabbath."
"Just the same, I can only cut six more classes, with over a
month and a half to go."
"Throw him out!"
"It's a long walk back."
"Amory, you're running it out, if I may coin a new phrase."
"Hadn't you better get some dope on yourself, Amory?"
Amory subsided resignedly and drooped into a contemplation of the
scenery. Swinburne seemed to fit in somehow.
"Oh, winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the seasons of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover,
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
"The full streams feed on flower of"
"What's the matter, Amory? Amory's thinking about poetry, about
the pretty birds and flowers. I can see it in his eye."
"No, I'm not," he lied. "I'm thinking about the Princetonian. I
ought to make up to-night; but I can telephone back, I suppose."
"Oh," said Kerry respectfully, "these important men"
Amory flushed and it seemed to him that Ferrenby, a defeated
competitor, winced a little. Of course, Kerry was only kidding,
but he really mustn't mention the Princetonian.
It was a halcyon day, and as they neared the shore and the salt
breezes scurried by, he began to picture the ocean and long,
level stretches of sand and red roofs over blue sea. Then they
hurried through the little town and it all flashed upon his
consciousness to a mighty pfan of emotion....
"Oh, good Lord! Look at it!" he cried.
"Let me out, quickI haven't seen it for eight years! Oh,
gentlefolk, stop the car!"
"What an odd child!" remarked Alec.
"I do believe he's a bit eccentric."
The car was obligingly drawn up at a curb, and Amory ran for the
boardwalk. First, he realized that the sea was blue and that
there was an enormous quantity of it, and that it roared and
roaredreally all the banalities about the ocean that one could
realize, but if any one had told him then that these things were
banalities, he would have gaped in wonder.
"Now we'll get lunch," ordered Kerry, wandering up with the
crowd. "Come on, Amory, tear yourself away and get practical."
"We'll try the best hotel first," he went on, "and thence and so
They strolled along the boardwalk to the most imposing hostelry
in sight, and, entering the dining-room, scattered about a table.
"Eight Bronxes," commanded Alec, "and a club sandwich and
Juliennes. The food for one. Hand the rest around."
Amory ate little, having seized a chair where he could watch the
sea and feel the rock of it. When luncheon was over they sat and
"What's the bill?"
Some one scanned it.
"Rotten overcharge. We'll give them two dollars and one for the
waiter. Kerry, collect the small change."
The waiter approached, and Kerry gravely handed him a dollar,
tossed two dollars on the check, and turned away. They sauntered
leisurely toward the door, pursued in a moment by the suspicious
"Some mistake, sir."
Kerry took the bill and examined it critically.
"No mistake!" he said, shaking his head gravely, and, tearing it
into four pieces, he handed the scraps to the waiter, who was so
dumfounded that he stood motionless and expressionless while they
"Won't he send after us?"
"No," said Kerry; "for a minute he'll think we're the
proprietor's sons or something; then he'll look at the check
again and call the manager, and in the meantime"
They left the car at Asbury and street-car'd to Allenhurst, where
they investigated the crowded pavilions for beauty. At four there
were refreshments in a lunch-room, and this time they paid an
even smaller per cent on the total cost; something about the
appearance and savoir-faire of the crowd made the thing go, and
they were not pursued.
"You see, Amory, we're Marxian Socialists," explained Kerry. "We
don't believe in property and we're putting it to the great
"Night will descend," Amory suggested.
"Watch, and put your trust in Holiday."
They became jovial about five-thirty and, linking arms, strolled
up and down the boardwalk in a row, chanting a monotonous ditty
about the sad sea waves. Then Kerry saw a face in the crowd that
attracted him and, rushing off, reappeared in a moment with one
of the homeliest girls Amory had ever set eyes on. Her pale mouth
extended from ear to ear, her teeth projected in a solid wedge,
and she had little, squinty eyes that peeped ingratiatingly over
the side sweep of her nose. Kerry presented them formally.
"Name of Kaluka, Hawaiian queen! Let me present Messrs. Connage,
Sloane, Humbird, Ferrenby, and Blaine."
The girl bobbed courtesies all around. Poor creature; Amory
supposed she had never before been noticed in her lifepossibly
she was half-witted. While she accompanied them (Kerry had
invited her to supper) she said nothing which could
discountenance such a belief.
"She prefers her native dishes," said Alec gravely to the waiter,
"but any coarse food will do."
All through supper he addressed her in the most respectful
language, while Kerry made idiotic love to her on the other side,
and she giggled and grinned. Amory was content to sit and watch
the by-play, thinking what a light touch Kerry had, and how he
could transform the barest incident into a thing of curve and
contour. They all seemed to have the spirit of it more or less,
and it was a relaxation to be with them. Amory usually liked men
individually, yet feared them in crowds unless the crowd was
around him. He wondered how much each one contributed to the
party, for there was somewhat of a spiritual tax levied. Alec and
Kerry were the life of it, but not quite the centre. Somehow the
quiet Humbird, and Sloane, with his impatient superciliousness,
were the centre.
Dick Humbird had, ever since freshman year, seemed to Amory a
perfect type of aristocrat. He was slender but well-builtblack
curly hair, straight features, and rather a dark skin. Everything
he said sounded intangibly appropriate. He possessed infinite
courage, an averagely good mind, and a sense of honor with a
clear charm and noblesse oblige that varied it from
righteousness. He could dissipate without going to pieces, and
even his most bohemian adventures never seemed "running it out."
People dressed like him, tried to talk as he did.... Amory
decided that he probably held the world back, but he wouldn't
have changed him....
He differed from the healthy type that was essentially middle
classhe never seemed to perspire. Some people couldn't be
familiar with a chauffeur without having it returned; Humbird
could have lunched at Sherry's with a colored man, yet people
would have somehow known that it was all right. He was not a
snob, though he knew only half his class. His friends ranged from
the highest to the lowest, but it was impossible to "cultivate"
him. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god. He
seemed the eternal example of what the upper class tries to be.
"He's like those pictures in the Illustrated London News of the
English officers who have been killed," Amory had said to Alec.
"Well," Alec had answered, "if you want to know the shocking
truth, his father was a grocery clerk who made a fortune in
Tacoma real estate and came to New York ten years ago."
Amory had felt a curious sinking sensation.
This present type of party was made possible by the surging
together of the class after club electionsas if to make a last
desperate attempt to know itself, to keep together, to fight off
the tightening spirit of the clubs. It was a let-down from the
conventional heights they had all walked so rigidly.
After supper they saw Kaluka to the boardwalk, and then strolled
back along the beach to Asbury. The evening sea was a new
sensation, for all its color and mellow age was gone, and it
seemed the bleak waste that made the Norse sagas sad; Amory
thought of Kipling's
"Beaches of Lukanon before the sealers came."
It was still a music, though, infinitely sorrowful.
Ten o'clock found them penniless. They had suppered greatly on
their last eleven cents and, singing, strolled up through the
casinos and lighted arches on the boardwalk, stopping to listen
approvingly to all band concerts. In one place Kerry took up a
collection for the French War Orphans which netted a dollar and
twenty cents, and with this they bought some brandy in case they
caught cold in the night. They finished the day in a
moving-picture show and went into solemn systematic roars of
laughter at an ancient comedy, to the startled annoyance of the
rest of the audience. Their entrance was distinctly strategic,
for each man as he entered pointed reproachfully at the one just
behind him. Sloane, bringing up the rear, disclaimed all
knowledge and responsibility as soon as the others were scattered
inside; then as the irate ticket-taker rushed in he followed
They reassembled later by the Casino and made arrangements for
the night. Kerry wormed permission from the watchman to sleep on
the platform and, having collected a huge pile of rugs from the
booths to serve as mattresses and blankets, they talked until
midnight, and then fell into a dreamless sleep, though Amory
tried hard to stay awake and watch that marvellous moon settle on
So they progressed for two happy days, up and down the shore by
street-car or machine, or by shoe-leather on the crowded
boardwalk; sometimes eating with the wealthy, more frequently
dining frugally at the expense of an unsuspecting restaurateur.
They had their photos taken, eight poses, in a quick-development
store. Kerry insisted on grouping them as a "varsity" football
team, and then as a tough gang from the East Side, with their
coats inside out, and himself sitting in the middle on a
cardboard moon. The photographer probably has them yetat least,
they never called for them. The weather was perfect, and again
they slept outside, and again Amory fell unwillingly asleep.
Sunday broke stolid and respectable, and even the sea seemed to
mumble and complain, so they returned to Princeton via the Fords
of transient farmers, and broke up with colds in their heads, but
otherwise none the worse for wandering.
Even more than in the year before, Amory neglected his work, not
deliberately but lazily and through a multitude of other
interests. Co-ordinate geometry and the melancholy hexameters of
Corneille and Racine held forth small allurements, and even
psychology, which he had eagerly awaited, proved to be a dull
subject full of muscular reactions and biological phrases rather
than the study of personality and influence. That was a noon
class, and it always sent him dozing. Having found that
"subjective and objective, sir," answered most of the questions,
he used the phrase on all occasions, and it became the class joke
when, on a query being levelled at him, he was nudged awake by
Ferrenby or Sloane to gasp it out.
Mostly there were partiesto Orange or the Shore, more rarely to
New York and Philadelphia, though one night they marshalled
fourteen waitresses out of Childs' and took them to ride down
Fifth Avenue on top of an auto bus. They all cut more classes
than were allowed, which meant an additional course the following
year, but spring was too rare to let anything interfere with
their colorful ramblings. In May Amory was elected to the
Sophomore Prom Committee, and when after a long evening's
discussion with Alec they made out a tentative list of class
probabilities for the senior council, they placed themselves
among the surest. The senior council was composed presumably of
the eighteen most representative seniors, and in view of Alec's
football managership and Amory's chance of nosing out Burne
Holiday as Princetonian chairman, they seemed fairly justified in
this presumption. Oddly enough, they both placed D'Invilliers as
among the possibilities, a guess that a year before the class
would have gaped at.
All through the spring Amory had kept up an intermittent
correspondence with Isabelle Borgi, punctuated by violent
squabbles and chiefly enlivened by his attempts to find new words
for love. He discovered Isabelle to be discreetly and
aggravatingly unsentimental in letters, but he hoped against hope
that she would prove not too exotic a bloom to fit the large
spaces of spring as she had fitted the den in the Minnehaha Club.
During May he wrote thirty-page documents almost nightly, and
sent them to her in bulky envelopes exteriorly labelled "Part I"
and "Part II."
"Oh, Alec, I believe I'm tired of college," he said sadly, as
they walked the dusk together.
"I think I am, too, in a way."
"All I'd like would be a little home in the country, some warm
country, and a wife, and just enough to do to keep from rotting."
"I'd like to quit."
"What does your girl say?"
"Oh!" Amory gasped in horror. "She wouldn't think of marrying ...
that is, not now. I mean the future, you know."
"My girl would. I'm engaged."
"Are you really?"
"Yes. Don't say a word to anybody, please, but I am. I may not
come back next year."
"But you're only twenty! Give up college?"
"Why, Amory, you were saying a minute ago"
"Yes," Amory interrupted, "but I was just wishing. I wouldn't
think of leaving college. It's just that I feel so sad these
wonderful nights. I sort of feel they're never coming again, and
I'm not really getting all I could out of them. I wish my girl
lived here. But marrynot a chance. Especially as father says the
money isn't forthcoming as it used to be."
"What a waste these nights are!" agreed Alec.
But Amory sighed and made use of the nights. He had a snap-shot
of Isabelle, enshrined in an old watch, and at eight almost every
night he would turn off all the lights except the desk lamp and,
sitting by the open windows with the picture before him, write
her rapturous letters.
Oh, Isabelle, dearit's a wonderful night. Somebody is playing
"Love Moon" on a mandolin far across the campus, and the music
seems to bring you into the window. Now he's playing "Good-by,
Boys, I'm Through," and how well it suits me. For I am through
with everything. I have decided never to take a cocktail again,
and I know I'll never again fall in loveI couldn'tyou've been too
much a part of my days and nights to ever let me think of another
girl. I meet them all the time and they don't interest me. I'm
not pretending to be blasi, because it's not that. It's just that
I'm in love. Oh, dearest Isabelle (somehow I can't call you just
Isabelle, and I'm afraid I'll come out with the "dearest" before
your family this June), you've got to come to the prom, and then
I'll come up to your house for a day and everything'll be
And so on in an eternal monotone that seemed to both of them
infinitely charming, infinitely new.
June came and the days grew so hot and lazy that they could not
worry even about exams, but spent dreamy evenings on the court of
Cottage, talking of long subjects until the sweep of country
toward Stony Brook became a blue haze and the lilacs were white
around tennis-courts, and words gave way to silent cigarettes....
Then down deserted Prospect and along McCosh with song everywhere
around them, up to the hot joviality of Nassau Street.
Tom D'Invilliers and Amory walked late in those days. A gambling
fever swept through the sophomore class and they bent over the
bones till three o'clock many a sultry night. After one session
they came out of Sloane's room to find the dew fallen and the
stars old in the sky.
"Let's borrow bicycles and take a ride," Amory suggested.
"All right. I'm not a bit tired and this is almost the last night
of the year, really, because the prom stuff starts Monday."
They found two unlocked bicycles in Holder Court and rode out
about half-past three along the Lawrenceville Road.
"What are you going to do this summer, Amory?"
"Don't ask mesame old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake
GenevaI'm counting on you to be there in July, you knowthen
there'll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops,
parlor-snaking, getting boredBut oh, Tom," he added suddenly,
"hasn't this year been slick!"
"No," declared Tom emphatically, a new Tom, clothed by Brooks,
shod by Franks, "I've won this game, but I feel as if I never
want to play another. You're all rightyou're a rubber ball, and
somehow it suits you, but I'm sick of adapting myself to the
local snobbishness of this corner of the world. I want to go
where people aren't barred because of the color of their neckties
and the roll of their coats."
"You can't, Tom," argued Amory, as they rolled along through the
scattering night; "wherever you go now you'll always
unconsciously apply these standards of 'having it' or 'lacking
it.' For better or worse we've stamped you; you're a Princeton
"Well, then," complained Tom, his cracked voice rising
plaintively, "why do I have to come back at all? I've learned all
that Princeton has to offer. Two years more of mere pedantry and
lying around a club aren't going to help. They're just going to
disorganize me, conventionalize me completely. Even now I'm so
spineless that I wonder how I get away with it."
"Oh, but you're missing the real point, Tom," Amory interrupted.
"You've just had your eyes opened to the snobbishness of the
world in a rather abrupt manner. Princeton invariably gives the
thoughtful man a social sense."
"You consider you taught me that, don't you?" he asked
quizzically, eying Amory in the half dark.
Amory laughed quietly.
"Sometimes," he said slowly, "I think you're my bad angel. I
might have been a pretty fair poet."
"Come on, that's rather hard. You chose to come to an Eastern
college. Either your eyes were opened to the mean scrambling
quality of people, or you'd have gone through blind, and you'd
hate to have done thatbeen like Marty Kaye."
"Yes," he agreed, "you're right. I wouldn't have liked it. Still,
it's hard to be made a cynic at twenty."
"I was born one," Amory murmured. "I'm a cynical idealist." He
paused and wondered if that meant anything.
They reached the sleeping school of Lawrenceville, and turned to
"It's good, this ride, isn't it?" Tom said presently.
"Yes; it's a good finish, it's knock-out; everything's good
to-night. Oh, for a hot, languorous summer and Isabelle!"
"Oh, you and your Isabelle! I'll bet she's a simple one ... let's
say some poetry."
So Amory declaimed "The Ode to a Nightingale" to the bushes they
"I'll never be a poet," said Amory as he finished. "I'm not
enough of a sensualist really; there are only a few obvious
things that I notice as primarily beautiful: women, spring
evenings, music at night, the sea; I don't catch the subtle
things like 'silver-snarling trumpets.' I may turn out an
intellectual, but I'll never write anything but mediocre poetry."
They rode into Princeton as the sun was making colored maps of
the sky behind the graduate school, and hurried to the
refreshment of a shower that would have to serve in place of
sleep. By noon the bright-costumed alumni crowded the streets
with their bands and choruses, and in the tents there was great
reunion under the orange-and-black banners that curled and
strained in the wind. Amory looked long at one house which bore
the legend "Sixty-nine." There a few gray-haired men sat and
talked quietly while the classes swept by in panorama of life.
UNDER THE ARC-LIGHT
Then tragedy's emerald eyes glared suddenly at Amory over the
edge of June. On the night after his ride to Lawrenceville a
crowd sallied to New York in quest of adventure, and started back
to Princeton about twelve o'clock in two machines. It had been a
gay party and different stages of sobriety were represented.
Amory was in the car behind; they had taken the wrong road and
lost the way, and so were hurrying to catch up.
It was a clear night and the exhilaration of the road went to
Amory's head. He had the ghost of two stanzas of a poem forming
in his mind....
So the gray car crept nightward in the dark and there was no life
stirred as it went by.... As the still ocean paths before the
shark in starred and glittering waterways, beauty-high, the
moon-swathed trees divided, pair on pair, while flapping
nightbirds cried across the air....
A moment by an inn of lamps and shades, a yellow inn under a
yellow moonthen silence, where crescendo laughter fades ... the
car swung out again to the winds of June, mellowed the shadows
where the distance grew, then crushed the yellow shadows into
They jolted to a stop, and Amory peered up, startled. A woman was
standing beside the road, talking to Alec at the wheel. Afterward
he remembered the harpy effect that her old kimono gave her, and
the cracked hollowness of her voice as she spoke:
"You Princeton boys?"
"Well, there's one of you killed here, and two others about
"Look!" She pointed and they gazed in horror. Under the full
light of a roadside arc-light lay a form, face downward in a
widening circle of blood.
They sprang from the car. Amory thought of the back of that
headthat hairthat hair ... and then they turned the form over.
"It's DickDick Humbird!"
"Feel his heart!"
Then the insistent voice of the old crone in a sort of croaking
"He's quite dead, all right. The car turned over. Two of the men
that weren't hurt just carried the others in, but this one's no
Amory rushed into the house and the rest followed with a limp
mass that they laid on the sofa in the shoddy little front
parlor. Sloane, with his shoulder punctured, was on another
lounge. He was half delirious, and kept calling something about a
chemistry lecture at 8:10.
"I don't know what happened," said Ferrenby in a strained voice.
"Dick was driving and he wouldn't give up the wheel; we told him
he'd been drinking too muchthen there was this damn curveoh, my
God!..." He threw himself face downward on the floor and broke
into dry sobs.
The doctor had arrived, and Amory went over to the couch, where
some one handed him a sheet to put over the body. With a sudden
hardness, he raised one of the hands and let it fall back
inertly. The brow was cold but the face not expressionless. He
looked at the shoe-lacesDick had tied them that morning. He had
tied themand now he was this heavy white mass. All that remained
of the charm and personality of the Dick Humbird he had knownoh,
it was all so horrible and unaristocratic and close to the earth.
All tragedy has that strain of the grotesque and squalidso
useless, futile ... the way animals die.... Amory was reminded of
a cat that had lain horribly mangled in some alley of his
"Some one go to Princeton with Ferrenby."
Amory stepped outside the door and shivered slightly at the late
night winda wind that stirred a broken fender on the mass of bent
metal to a plaintive, tinny sound.
Next day, by a merciful chance, passed in a whirl. When Amory was
by himself his thoughts zigzagged inevitably to the picture of
that red mouth yawning incongruously in the white face, but with
a determined effort he piled present excitement upon the memory
of it and shut it coldly away from his mind.
Isabelle and her mother drove into town at four, and they rode up
smiling Prospect Avenue, through the gay crowd, to have tea at
Cottage. The clubs had their annual dinners that night, so at
seven he loaned her to a freshman and arranged to meet her in the
gymnasium at eleven, when the upper classmen were admitted to the
freshman dance. She was all he had expected, and he was happy and
eager to make that night the centre of every dream. At nine the
upper classes stood in front of the clubs as the freshman
torchlight parade rioted past, and Amory wondered if the
dress-suited groups against the dark, stately backgrounds and
under the flare of the torches made the night as brilliant to the
staring, cheering freshmen as it had been to him the year before.
The next day was another whirl. They lunched in a gay party of
six in a private dining-room at the club, while Isabelle and
Amory looked at each other tenderly over the fried chicken and
knew that their love was to be eternal. They danced away the prom
until five, and the stags cut in on Isabelle with joyous abandon,
which grew more and more enthusiastic as the hour grew late, and
their wines, stored in overcoat pockets in the coat room, made
old weariness wait until another day. The stag line is a most
homogeneous mass of men. It fairly sways with a single soul. A
dark-haired beauty dances by and there is a half-gasping sound as
the ripple surges forward and some one sleeker than the rest
darts out and cuts in. Then when the six-foot girl (brought by
Kaye in your class, and to whom he has been trying to introduce
you all evening) gallops by, the line surges back and the groups
face about and become intent on far corners of the hall, for
Kaye, anxious and perspiring, appears elbowing through the crowd
in search of familiar faces.
"I say, old man, I've got an awfully nice"
"Sorry, Kaye, but I'm set for this one. I've got to cut in on a
"Well, the next one?"
"WhataherI swear I've got to go cut inlook me up when she's got a
It delighted Amory when Isabelle suggested that they leave for a
while and drive around in her car. For a delicious hour that
passed too soon they glided the silent roads about Princeton and
talked from the surface of their hearts in shy excitement. Amory
felt strangely ingenuous and made no attempt to kiss her.
Next day they rode up through the Jersey country, had luncheon in
New York, and in the afternoon went to see a problem play at
which Isabelle wept all through the second act, rather to Amory's
embarrassmentthough it filled him with tenderness to watch her.
He was tempted to lean over and kiss away her tears, and she
slipped her hand into his under cover of darkness to be pressed
Then at six they arrived at the Borgis' summer place on Long
Island, and Amory rushed up-stairs to change into a dinner coat.
As he put in his studs he realized that he was enjoying life as
he would probably never enjoy it again. Everything was hallowed
by the haze of his own youth. He had arrived, abreast of the best
in his generation at Princeton. He was in love and his love was
returned. Turning on all the lights, he looked at himself in the
mirror, trying to find in his own face the qualities that made
him see clearer than the great crowd of people, that made him
decide firmly, and able to influence and follow his own will.
There was little in his life now that he would have changed....
Oxford might have been a bigger field.
Silently he admired himself. How conveniently well he looked, and
how well a dinner coat became him. He stepped into the hall and
then waited at the top of the stairs, for he heard footsteps
coming. It was Isabelle, and from the top of her shining hair to
her little golden slippers she had never seemed so beautiful.
"Isabelle!" he cried, half involuntarily, and held out his arms.
As in the story-books, she ran into them, and on that
half-minute, as their lips first touched, rested the high point
of vanity, the crest of his young egotism.