The Education of a Personage
FOR YEARS AFTERWARD when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still
to hear the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills
into the places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the
slope and watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost
a further part of him that nothing could restore; and when he
lost it he lost also the power of regretting it. Eleanor was,
say, the last time that evil crept close to Amory under the mask
of beauty, the last weird mystery that held him with wild
fascination and pounded his soul to flakes.
With her his imagination ran riot and that is why they rode to
the highest hill and watched an evil moon ride high, for they
knew then that they could see the devil in each other. But
Eleanordid Amory dream her? Afterward their ghosts played, yet
both of them hoped from their souls never to meet. Was it the
infinite sadness of her eyes that drew him or the mirror of
himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of her mind? She
will have no other adventure like Amory, and if she reads this
she will say:
"And Amory will have no other adventure like me."
Nor will she sigh, any more than he would sigh.
Eleanor tried to put it on paper once:
"The fading things we only know
We'll have forgotten...
Desires that melted with the snow,
And dreams begotten
The sudden dawns we laughed to greet,
That all could see, that none could share,
Will be but dawns ... and if we meet
We shall not care.
Dear ... not one tear will rise for this...
A little while hence
Will stir for a remembered kiss
Not even silence,
When we've met,
Will give old ghosts a waste to roam,
Or stir the surface of the sea...
If gray shapes drift beneath the foam
We shall not see."
They quarrelled dangerously because Amory maintained that sea and
see couldn't possibly be used as a rhyme. And then Eleanor had
part of another verse that she couldn't find a beginning for:
"...But wisdom passes ... still the years
Will feed us wisdom.... Age will go
Back to the old For all our tears
We shall not know."
Eleanor hated Maryland passionately. She belonged to the oldest
of the old families of Ramilly County and lived in a big, gloomy
house with her grandfather. She had been born and brought up in
France.... I see I am starting wrong. Let me begin again.
Amory was bored, as he usually was in the country. He used to go
for far walks by himselfand wander along reciting "Ulalume" to
the corn-fields, and congratulating Poe for drinking himself to
death in that atmosphere of smiling complacency. One afternoon he
had strolled for several miles along a road that was new to him,
and then through a wood on bad advice from a colored woman ...
losing himself entirely. A passing storm decided to break out,
and to his great impatience the sky grew black as pitch and the
rain began to splatter down through the trees, become suddenly
furtive and ghostly. Thunder rolled with menacing crashes up the
valley and scattered through the woods in intermittent batteries.
He stumbled blindly on, hunting for a way out, and finally,
through webs of twisted branches, caught sight of a rift in the
trees where the unbroken lightning showed open country. He rushed
to the edge of the woods and then hesitated whether or not to
cross the fields and try to reach the shelter of the little house
marked by a light far down the valley. It was only half past
five, but he could see scarcely ten steps before him, except when
the lightning made everything vivid and grotesque for great
Suddenly a strange sound fell on his ears. It was a song, in a
low, husky voice, a girl's voice, and whoever was singing was
very close to him. A year before he might have laughed, or
trembled; but in his restless mood he only stood and listened
while the words sank into his consciousness:
"Les sanglots longs
Blessent mon coeur
The lightning split the sky, but the song went on without a
quaver. The girl was evidently in the field and the voice seemed
to come vaguely from a haystack about twenty feet in front of
Then it ceased: ceased and began again in a weird chant that
soared and hung and fell and blended with the rain:
Et bljme quand
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure...."
"Who the devil is there in Ramilly County," muttered Amory aloud,
"who would deliver Verlaine in an extemporaneous tune to a
"Somebody's there!" cried the voice unalarmed. "Who are
you?Manfred, St. Christopher, or Queen Victoria?"
"I'm Don Juan!" Amory shouted on impulse, raising his voice above
the noise of the rain and the wind.
A delighted shriek came from the haystack.
"I know who you areyou're the blond boy that likes 'Ulalume'I
recognize your voice."
"How do I get up?" he cried from the foot of the haystack,
whither he had arrived, dripping wet. A head appeared over the
edgeit was so dark that Amory could just make out a patch of damp
hair and two eyes that gleamed like a cat's.
"Run back!" came the voice, "and jump and I'll catch your handno,
not thereon the other side."
He followed directions and as he sprawled up the side, knee-deep
in hay, a small, white hand reached out, gripped his, and helped
him onto the top.
"Here you are, Juan," cried she of the damp hair. "Do you mind if
I drop the Don?"
"You've got a thumb like mine!" he exclaimed.
"And you're holding my hand, which is dangerous without seeing my
face." He dropped it quickly.
As if in answer to his prayers came a flash of lightning and he
looked eagerly at her who stood beside him on the soggy haystack,
ten feet above the ground. But she had covered her face and he
saw nothing but a slender figure, dark, damp, bobbed hair, and
the small white hands with the thumbs that bent back like his.
"Sit down," she suggested politely, as the dark closed in on
them. "If you'll sit opposite me in this hollow you can have half
of the raincoat, which I was using as a water-proof tent until
you so rudely interrupted me."
"I was asked," Amory said joyfully; "you asked meyou know you
"Don Juan always manages that," she said, laughing, "but I shan't
call you that any more, because you've got reddish hair. Instead
you can recite 'Ulalume' and I'll be Psyche, your soul."
Amory flushed, happily invisible under the curtain of wind and
rain. They were sitting opposite each other in a slight hollow in
the hay with the raincoat spread over most of them, and the rain
doing for the rest. Amory was trying desperately to see Psyche,
but the lightning refused to flash again, and he waited
impatiently. Good Lord! supposing she wasn't beautifulsupposing
she was forty and pedanticheavens! Suppose, only suppose, she was
mad. But he knew the last was unworthy. Here had Providence sent
a girl to amuse him just as it sent Benvenuto Cellini men to
murder, and he was wondering if she was mad, just because she
exactly filled his mood.
"I'm not," she said.
"Not mad. I didn't think you were mad when I first saw you, so it
isn't fair that you should think so of me."
"How on earth"
As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be "on a
subject" and stop talking with the definite thought of it in
their heads, yet ten minutes later speak aloud and find that
their minds had followed the same channels and led them each to a
parallel idea, an idea that others would have found absolutely
unconnected with the first.
"Tell me," he demanded, leaning forward eagerly, "how do you know
about 'Ulalume'how did you know the color of my hair? What's your
name? What were you doing here? Tell me all at once!"
Suddenly the lightning flashed in with a leap of overreaching
light and he saw Eleanor, and looked for the first time into
those eyes of hers. Oh, she was magnificentpale skin, the color
of marble in starlight, slender brows, and eyes that glittered
green as emeralds in the blinding glare. She was a witch, of
perhaps nineteen, he judged, alert and dreamy and with the
tell-tale white line over her upper lip that was a weakness and a
delight. He sank back with a gasp against the wall of hay.
"Now you've seen me," she said calmly, "and I suppose you're
about to say that my green eyes are burning into your brain."
"What color is your hair?" he asked intently. "It's bobbed, isn't
"Yes, it's bobbed. I don't know what color it is," she answered,
musing, "so many men have asked me. It's medium, I suppose No one
ever looks long at my hair. I've got beautiful eyes, though,
haven't I. I don't care what you say, I have beautiful eyes."
"Answer my question, Madeline."
"Don't remember them allbesides my name isn't Madeline, it's
"I might have guessed it. You look like Eleanoryou have that
Eleanor look. You know what I mean."
There was a silence as they listened to the rain.
"It's going down my neck, fellow lunatic," she offered finally.
"Answer my questions."
"Wellname of Savage, Eleanor; live in big old house mile down
road; nearest living relation to be notified, grandfatherRamilly
Savage; height, five feet four inches; number on watch-case, 3077
W; nose, delicate aquiline; temperament, uncanny"
"And me," Amory interrupted, "where did you see me?"
"Oh, you're one of those men," she answered haughtily, "must lug
old self into conversation. Well, my boy, I was behind a hedge
sunning myself one day last week, and along comes a man saying in
a pleasant, conceited way of talking:
"'And now when the night was senescent' (says he) 'And the star
dials pointed to morn
At the end of the path a liquescent' (says he) 'And nebulous
lustre was born.'
So I poked my eyes up over the hedge, but you had started to run,
for some unknown reason, and so I saw but the back of your
beautiful head. 'Oh!' says I, 'there's a man for whom many of us
might sigh,' and I continued in my best Irish"
"All right," Amory interrupted. "Now go back to yourself."
"Well, I will. I'm one of those people who go through the world
giving other people thrills, but getting few myself except those
I read into men on such nights as these. I have the social
courage to go on the stage, but not the energy; I haven't the
patience to write books; and I never met a man I'd marry.
However, I'm only eighteen."
The storm was dying down softly and only the wind kept up its
ghostly surge and made the stack lean and gravely settle from
side to side. Amory was in a trance. He felt that every moment
was precious. He had never met a girl like this beforeshe would
never seem quite the same again. He didn't at all feel like a
character in a play, the appropriate feeling in an unconventional
situationinstead, he had a sense of coming home.
"I have just made a great decision," said Eleanor after another
pause, "and that is why I'm here, to answer another of your
questions. I have just decided that I don't believe in
"Really! how banal!"
"Frightfully so," she answered, "but depressing with a stale,
sickly depression, nevertheless. I came out here to get wetlike a
wet hen; wet hens always have great clarity of mind," she
"Go on," Amory said politely.
"WellI'm not afraid of the dark, so I put on my slicker and
rubber boots and came out. You see I was always afraid, before,
to say I didn't believe in Godbecause the lightning might strike
mebut here I am and it hasn't, of course, but the main point is
that this time I wasn't any more afraid of it than I had been
when I was a Christian Scientist, like I was last year. So now I
know I'm a materialist and I was fraternizing with the hay when
you came out and stood by the woods, scared to death."
"Why, you little wretch" cried Amory indignantly. "Scared of
"Yourself!" she shouted, and he jumped. She clapped her hands and
laughed. "Seesee! Consciencekill it like me! Eleanor Savage,
materiologistno jumping, no starting, come early"
"But I have to have a soul," he objected. "I can't be rationaland
I won't be molecular."
She leaned toward him, her burning eyes never leaving his own and
whispered with a sort of romantic finality:
"I thought so, Juan, I feared soyou're sentimental. You're not
like me. I'm a romantic little materialist."
"I'm not sentimentalI'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you
know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will lastthe
romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't."
(This was an ancient distinction of Amory's.)
"Epigrams. I'm going home," she said sadly. "Let's get off the
haystack and walk to the cross-roads."
They slowly descended from their perch. She would not let him
help her down and motioning him away arrived in a graceful lump
in the soft mud where she sat for an instant, laughing at
herself. Then she jumped to her feet and slipped her hand into
his, and they tiptoed across the fields, jumping and swinging
from dry spot to dry spot. A transcendent delight seemed to
sparkle in every pool of water, for the moon had risen and the
storm had scurried away into western Maryland. When Eleanor's arm
touched his he felt his hands grow cold with deadly fear lest he
should lose the shadow brush with which his imagination was
painting wonders of her. He watched her from the corners of his
eyes as ever he did when he walked with hershe was a feast and a
folly and he wished it had been his destiny to sit forever on a
haystack and see life through her green eyes. His paganism soared
that night and when she faded out like a gray ghost down the
road, a deep singing came out of the fields and filled his way
homeward. All night the summer moths flitted in and out of
Amory's window; all night large looming sounds swayed in mystic
revery through the silver grainand he lay awake in the clear
Amory selected a blade of grass and nibbled at it scientifically.
"I never fall in love in August or September," he proffered.
"Christmas or Easter. I'm a liturgist."
"Easter!" She turned up her nose. "Huh! Spring in corsets!"
"Easter would bore spring, wouldn't she? Easter has her hair
braided, wears a tailored suit."
"Bind on thy sandals, oh, thou most fleet.
Over the splendor and speed of thy feet"
quoted Eleanor softly, and then added: "I suppose Hallowe'en is a
better day for autumn than Thanksgiving."
"Much betterand Christmas eve does very well for winter, but
"Summer has no day," she said. "We can't possibly have a summer
love. So many people have tried that the name's become
proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a
charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April.
It's a sad season of life without growth.... It has no day."
"Fourth of July," Amory suggested facetiously.
"Don't be funny!" she said, raking him with her eyes.
"Well, what could fulfil the promise of spring?"
She thought a moment.
"Oh, I suppose heaven would, if there was one," she said finally,
"a sort of pagan heavenyou ought to be a materialist," she
"Because you look a good deal like the pictures of Rupert
To some extent Amory tried to play Rupert Brooke as long as he
knew Eleanor. What he said, his attitude toward life, toward her,
toward himself, were all reflexes of the dead Englishman's
literary moods. Often she sat in the grass, a lazy wind playing
with her short hair, her voice husky as she ran up and down the
scale from Grantchester to Waikiki. There was something most
passionate in Eleanor's reading aloud. They seemed nearer, not
only mentally, but physically, when they read, than when she was
in his arms, and this was often, for they fell half into love
almost from the first. Yet was Amory capable of love now? He
could, as always, run through the emotions in a half hour, but
even while they revelled in their imaginations, he knew that
neither of them could care as he had cared once beforeI suppose
that was why they turned to Brooke, and Swinburne, and Shelley.
Their chance was to make everything fine and finished and rich
and imaginative; they must bend tiny golden tentacles from his
imagination to hers, that would take the place of the great, deep
love that was never so near, yet never so much of a dream.
One poem they read over and over; Swinburne's "Triumph of Time,"
and four lines of it rang in his memory afterward on warm nights
when he saw the fireflies among dusky tree trunks and heard the
low drone of many frogs. Then Eleanor seemed to come out of the
night and stand by him, and he heard her throaty voice, with its
tone of a fleecy-headed drum, repeating:
"Is it worth a tear, is it worth an hour,
To think of things that are well outworn;
Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
The dream foregone and the deed foreborne?"
They were formally introduced two days later, and his aunt told
him her history. The Ramillys were two: old Mr. Ramilly and his
granddaughter, Eleanor. She had lived in France with a restless
mother whom Amory imagined to have been very like his own, on
whose death she had come to America, to live in Maryland. She had
gone to Baltimore first to stay with a bachelor uncle, and there
she insisted on being a dibutante at the age of seventeen. She
had a wild winter and arrived in the country in March, having
quarrelled frantically with all her Baltimore relatives, and
shocked them into fiery protest. A rather fast crowd had come
out, who drank cocktails in limousines and were promiscuously
condescending and patronizing toward older people, and Eleanor
with an esprit that hinted strongly of the boulevards, led many
innocents still redolent of St. Timothy's and Farmington, into
paths of Bohemian naughtiness. When the story came to her uncle,
a forgetful cavalier of a more hypocritical era, there was a
scene, from which Eleanor emerged, subdued but rebellious and
indignant, to seek haven with her grandfather who hovered in the
country on the near side of senility. That's as far as her story
went; she told him the rest herself, but that was later.
Often they swam and as Amory floated lazily in the water he shut
his mind to all thoughts except those of hazy soap-bubble lands
where the sun splattered through wind-drunk trees. How could any
one possibly think or worry, or do anything except splash and
dive and loll there on the edge of time while the flower months
failed. Let the days move oversadness and memory and pain
recurred outside, and here, once more, before he went on to meet
them he wanted to drift and be young.
There were days when Amory resented that life had changed from an
even progress along a road stretching ever in sight, with the
scenery merging and blending, into a succession of quick,
unrelated scenestwo years of sweat and blood, that sudden absurd
instinct for paternity that Rosalind had stirred; the
half-sensual, half-neurotic quality of this autumn with Eleanor.
He felt that it would take all time, more than he could ever
spare, to glue these strange cumbersome pictures into the
scrap-book of his life. It was all like a banquet where he sat
for this half-hour of his youth and tried to enjoy brilliant
Dimly he promised himself a time where all should be welded
together. For months it seemed that he had alternated between
being borne along a stream of love or fascination, or left in an
eddy, and in the eddies he had not desired to think, rather to be
picked up on a wave's top and swept along again.
"The despairing, dying autumn and our lovehow well they
harmonize!" said Eleanor sadly one day as they lay dripping by
"The Indian summer of our hearts" he ceased.
"Tell me," she said finally, "was she light or dark?"
"Was she more beautiful than I am?"
"I don't know," said Amory shortly.
One night they walked while the moon rose and poured a great
burden of glory over the garden until it seemed fairyland with
Amory and Eleanor, dim phantasmal shapes, expressing eternal
beauty in curious elfin love moods. Then they turned out of the
moonlight into the trellised darkness of a vine-hung pagoda,
where there were scents so plaintive as to be nearly musical.
"Light a match," she whispered. "I want to see you."
The night and the scarred trees were like scenery in a play, and
to be there with Eleanor, shadowy and unreal, seemed somehow
oddly familiar. Amory thought how it was only the past that ever
seemed strange and umbelievable. The match went out.
"It's black as pitch."
"We're just voices now," murmured Eleanor, "little lonesome
voices. Light another."
"That was my last match."
Suddenly he caught her in his arms.
"You are mineyou know you're mine!" he cried wildly ... the
moonlight twisted in through the vines and listened ... the
fireflies hung upon their whispers as if to win his glance from
the glory of their eyes.
THE END OF SUMMER
"No wind is stirring in the grass; not one wind stirs ... the
water in the hidden pools, as glass, fronts the full moon and so
inters the golden token in its icy mass," chanted Eleanor to the
trees that skeletoned the body of the night. "Isn't it ghostly
here? If you can hold your horse's feet up, let's cut through the
woods and find the hidden pools."
"It's after one, and you'll get the devil," he objected, "and I
don't know enough about horses to put one away in the pitch
"Shut up, you old fool," she whispered irrelevantly, and, leaning
over, she patted him lazily with her riding-crop. "You can leave
your old plug in our stable and I'll send him over to-morrow."
"But my uncle has got to drive me to the station with this old
plug at seven o'clock."
"Don't be a spoil-sportremember, you have a tendency toward
wavering that prevents you from being the entire light of my
Amory drew his horse up close beside, and, leaning toward her,
grasped her hand.
"Say I amquick, or I'll pull you over and make you ride behind
She looked up and smiled and shook her head excitedly.
"Oh, do!or rather, don't! Why are all the exciting things so
uncomfortable, like fighting and exploring and ski-ing in Canada?
By the way, we're going to ride up Harper's Hill. I think that
comes in our programme about five o'clock."
"You little devil," Amory growled. "You're going to make me stay
up all night and sleep in the train like an immigrant all day
to-morrow, going back to New York."
"Hush! some one's coming along the roadlet's go! Whoo-ee-oop!"
And with a shout that probably gave the belated traveller a
series of shivers, she turned her horse into the woods and Amory
followed slowly, as he had followed her all day for three weeks.
The summer was over, but he had spent the days in watching
Eleanor, a graceful, facile Manfred, build herself intellectual
and imaginative pyramids while she revelled in the
artificialities of the temperamental teens and they wrote poetry
at the dinner-table.
When Vanity kissed Vanity, a hundred happy Junes ago, he pondered
o'er her breathlessly, and, that all men might ever know, he
rhymed her eyes with life and death:
"Thru Time I'll save my love!" he said ... yet Beauty vanished
with his breath, and, with her lovers, she was dead...
Ever his wit and not her eyes, ever his art and not her hair:
"Who'd learn a trick in rhyme, be wise and pause before his
sonnet there" ... So all my words, however true, might sing you
to a thousandth June, and no one ever know that you were Beauty
for an afternoon.
So he wrote one day, when he pondered how coldly we thought of
the "Dark Lady of the Sonnets," and how little we remembered her
as the great man wanted her remembered. For what Shakespeare must
have desired, to have been able to write with such divine
despair, was that the lady should live ... and now we have no
real interest in her.... The irony of it is that if he had cared
more for the poem than for the lady the sonnet would be only
obvious, imitative rhetoric and no one would ever have read it
after twenty years....
This was the last night Amory ever saw Eleanor. He was leaving in
the morning and they had agreed to take a long farewell trot by
the cold moonlight. She wanted to talk, she saidperhaps the last
time in her life that she could be rational (she meant pose with
comfort). So they had turned into the woods and rode for half an
hour with scarcely a word, except when she whispered "Damn!" at a
bothersome branchwhispered it as no other girl was ever able to
whisper it. Then they started up Harper's Hill, walking their
"Good Lord! It's quiet here!" whispered Eleanor; "much more
lonesome than the woods."
"I hate woods," Amory said, shuddering. "Any kind of foliage or
underbrush at night. Out here it's so broad and easy on the
"The long slope of a long hill."
"And the cold moon rolling moonlight down it."
"And thee and me, last and most important."
It was quiet that nightthe straight road they followed up to the
edge of the cliff knew few footsteps at any time. Only an
occasional negro cabin, silver-gray in the rock-ribbed moonlight,
broke the long line of bare ground; behind lay the black edge of
the woods like a dark frosting on white cake, and ahead the
sharp, high horizon. It was much colderso cold that it settled on
them and drove all the warm nights from their minds.
"The end of summer," said Eleanor softly. "Listen to the beat of
our horses' hoofs'tump-tump-tump-a-tump.' Have you ever been
feverish and had all noises divide into 'tump-tump-tump' until
you could swear eternity was divisible into so many tumps? That's
the way I feelold horses go tump-tump.... I guess that's the only
thing that separates horses and clocks from us. Human beings
can't go 'tump-tump-tump' without going crazy."
The breeze freshened and Eleanor pulled her cape around her and
"Are you very cold?" asked Amory.
"No, I'm thinking about myselfmy black old inside self, the real
one, with the fundamental honesty that keeps me from being
absolutely wicked by making me realize my own sins."
They were riding up close by the cliff and Amory gazed over.
Where the fall met the ground a hundred feet below, a black
stream made a sharp line, broken by tiny glints in the swift
"Rotten, rotten old world," broke out Eleanor suddenly, "and the
wretchedest thing of all is meoh, why am I a girl? Why am I not a
stupid? Look at you; you're stupider than I am, not much, but
some, and you can lope about and get bored and then lope
somewhere else, and you can play around with girls without being
involved in meshes of sentiment, and you can do anything and be
justifiedand here am I with the brains to do everything, yet tied
to the sinking ship of future matrimony. If I were born a hundred
years from now, well and good, but now what's in store for meI
have to marry, that goes without saying. Who? I'm too bright for
most men, and yet I have to descend to their level and let them
patronize my intellect in order to get their attention. Every
year that I don't marry I've got less chance for a first-class
man. At the best I can have my choice from one or two cities and,
of course, I have to marry into a dinner-coat.
"Listen," she leaned close again, "I like clever men and
good-looking men, and, of course, no one cares more for
personality than I do. Oh, just one person in fifty has any
glimmer of what sex is. I'm hipped on Freud and all that, but
it's rotten that every bit of real love in the world is
ninety-nine per cent passion and one little soupgon of jealousy."
She finished as suddenly as she began.
"Of course, you're right," Amory agreed. "It's a rather
unpleasant overpowering force that's part of the machinery under
everything. It's like an actor that lets you see his mechanics!
Wait a minute till I think this out...."
He paused and tried to get a metaphor. They had turned the cliff
and were riding along the road about fifty feet to the left.
"You see every one's got to have some cloak to throw around it.
The mediocre intellects, Plato's second class, use the remnants
of romantic chivalry diluted with Victorian sentimentand we who
consider ourselves the intellectuals cover it up by pretending
that it's another side of us, has nothing to do with our shining
brains; we pretend that the fact that we realize it is really
absolving us from being a prey to it. But the truth is that sex
is right in the middle of our purest abstractions, so close that
it obscures vision.... I can kiss you now and will...." He leaned
toward her in his saddle, but she drew away.
"I can'tI can't kiss you nowI'm more sensitive."
"You're more stupid then," he declared rather impatiently.
"Intellect is no protection from sex any more than convention
"What is?" she fired up. "The Catholic Church or the maxims of
Amory looked up, rather taken aback.
"That's your panacea, isn't it?" she cried. "Oh, you're just an
old hypocrite, too. Thousands of scowling priests keeping the
degenerate Italians and illiterate Irish repentant with
gabble-gabble about the sixth and ninth commandments. It's just
all cloaks, sentiment and spiritual rouge and panaceas. I'll tell
you there is no God, not even a definite abstract goodness; so
it's all got to be worked out for the individual by the
individual here in high white foreheads like mine, and you're too
much the prig to admit it." She let go her reins and shook her
little fists at the stars.
"If there's a God let him strike mestrike me!"
"Talking about God again after the manner of atheists," Amory
said sharply. His materialism, always a thin cloak, was torn to
shreds by Eleanor's blasphemy.... She knew it and it angered him
that she knew it.
"And like most intellectuals who don't find faith convenient," he
continued coldly, "like Napoleon and Oscar Wilde and the rest of
your type, you'll yell loudly for a priest on your death-bed."
Eleanor drew her horse up sharply and he reined in beside her.
"Will I?" she said in a queer voice that scared him. "Will I?
Watch! I'm going over the cliff!" And before he could interfere
she had turned and was riding breakneck for the end of the
He wheeled and started after her, his body like ice, his nerves
in a vast clangor. There was no chance of stopping her. The moon
was under a cloud and her horse would step blindly over. Then
some ten feet from the edge of the cliff she gave a sudden shriek
and flung herself sidewaysplunged from her horse and, rolling
over twice, landed in a pile of brush five feet from the edge.
The horse went over with a frantic whinny. In a minute he was by
Eleanor's side and saw that her eyes were open.
"Eleanor!" he cried.
She did not answer, but her lips moved and her eyes filled with
"Eleanor, are you hurt?"
"No; I don't think so," she said faintly, and then began weeping.
"My horse dead?"
"Good God Yes!"
"Oh!" she wailed. "I thought I was going over. I didn't know"
He helped her gently to her feet and boosted her onto his saddle.
So they started homeward; Amory walking and she bent forward on
the pommel, sobbing bitterly.
"I've got a crazy streak," she faltered, "twice before I've done
things like that. When I was eleven mother wentwent madstark
raving crazy. We were in Vienna"
All the way back she talked haltingly about herself, and Amory's
love waned slowly with the moon. At her door they started from
habit to kiss good night, but she could not run into his arms,
nor were they stretched to meet her as in the week before. For a
minute they stood there, hating each other with a bitter sadness.
But as Amory had loved himself in Eleanor, so now what he hated
was only a mirror. Their poses were strewn about the pale dawn
like broken glass. The stars were long gone and there were left
only the little sighing gusts of wind and the silences between
... but naked souls are poor things ever, and soon he turned
homeward and let new lights come in with the sun.
A POEM THAT ELEANOR SENT AMORY SEVERAL YEARS LATER
"Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water,
Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light,
Bosoming day as a laughing and radiant daughter...
Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night.
Walking alone ... was it splendor, or what, we were bound with,
Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair?
Shadows we loved and the patterns they covered the ground with
Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.
That was the day ... and the night for another story,
Pale as a dream and shadowed with pencilled trees
Ghosts of the stars came by who had sought for glory,
Whispered to us of peace in the plaintive breeze,
Whispered of old dead faiths that the day had shattered,
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon;
That was the urge that we knew and the language that mattered
That was the debt that we paid to the usurer June.
Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not
Anything back of the past that we need not know,
What if the light is but sun and the little streams sing not,
We are together, it seems ... I have loved you so...
What did the last night hold, with the summer over,
Drawing us back to the home in the changing glade?
What leered out of the dark in the ghostly clover?
God!... till you stirred in your sleep ... and were wild
Well ... we have passed ... we are chronicle now to the eerie.
Curious metal from meteors that failed in the sky;
Earth-born the tireless is stretched by the water, quite weary,
Close to this ununderstandable changeling that's I...
Fear is an echo we traced to Security's daughter;
Now we are faces and voices ... and less, too soon,
Whispering half-love over the lilt of the water...
Youth the penny that bought delight of the moon."
A POEM AMORY SENT TO ELEANOR AND WHICH HE CALLED "SUMMER STORM"
"Faint winds, and a song fading and leaves falling,
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter...
And the rain and over the fields a voice calling...
Our gray blown cloud scurries and lifts above,
Slides on the sun and flutters there to waft her
Sisters on. The shadow of a dove
Falls on the cote, the trees are filled with wings;
And down the valley through the crying trees
The body of the darker storm flies; brings
With its new air the breath of sunken seas
And slender tenuous thunder...
But I wait...
Wait for the mists and for the blacker rain
Heavier winds that stir the veil of fate,
Happier winds that pile her hair;
They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air
Upon me, winds that I know, and storm.
There was a summer every rain was rare;
There was a season every wind was warm....
And now you pass me in the mist ... your hair
Rain-blown about you, damp lips curved once more
In that wild irony, that gay despair
That made you old when we have met before;
Wraith-like you drift on out before the rain,
Across the fields, blown with the stemless flowers,
With your old hopes, dead leaves and loves again
Dim as a dream and wan with all old hours
(Whispers will creep into the growing dark...
Tumult will die over the trees)
Tears from her wetted breast the splattered blouse
Of day, glides down the dreaming hills, tear-bright,
To cover with her hair the eerie green...
Love for the dusk ... Love for the glistening after;
Quiet the trees to their last tops ... serene...
Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter..."