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Table of contents
- The American (Webster's French Thesaurus Edition)
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- Et si je me confessais (Essais - Documents) (French Edition)
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I distrust that sort. All diamonds look big in the rough. I honestly think so sometimes. I want to pull strings, even for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle president. I want to be admired, Kerry. 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.
As soon as I get hold of a hand they sort of disconnect it from the rest of them. I wrote a St. Timothy girl a really loving letter last year. In one place I got rattled and said: February dripped snow and rain, the cyclonic freshman mid-years passed, and life in 12 Univee continued interesting if not purposeful. 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.
His father had been experimenting with mining stocks and, in consequence, his allowance, while liberal, was not at all what he had expected. 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. 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. Scott Fitzgerald 53 crowd at the next table would not mistake him for a bird, too, he would enjoy the encounter tremendously.
The American (Webster's French Thesaurus Edition)
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. You can borrow it if you want to. The world became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look at Princeton through the French addition: 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. Kerry thereupon rolled on the floor in stifled laughter. 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. 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 time, time 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 perception.
Where now he realized only his own inconsequence, effort would make him aware of his own impotency and insufficiency. The college dreamed on—awake. 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. Scott Fitzgerald 57 A belated freshman, his oilskin slicker rasping loudly, slushed along the soft path.
A hundred little sounds of the current drifting on under the fog pressed in finally on his consciousness. 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. 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. 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. A rare scene, the Casino.
A big, barn-like 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. 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.
All Triangle shows French atmospheric: 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. It was claimed though never proved that on one occasion the hired Elis were swelled by one of the real thing. They played through vacation to the fashionable of eight cities. Amory liked Louisville and Memphis best: Chicago he approved for a certain verve that transcended its loud accent however, 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. Everything was so hurried that there was no time to be bored, but when they French advertised: 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 live but 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 Huston-Carmelite to her popular daughter. 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 Then the swinging doors revolve and three bundles of fur mince in. The theatre comes afterward; then a table at the Midnight Frolic of 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.
Try to find the P. Amory found it rather fascinating to feel that any popular girl he met before eight he might quite possibly kiss before twelve. I wanted to come out here with you because I thought you were the best-looking girl in sight. What have I done to deserve it? 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. 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 had been sixteen years old for six months. 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 day the 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: 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: What sort of things? She felt rather in the capacity of a showman with her more exotic cousin. She was accustomed to be thus followed by her desperate past, and it never failed to rouse in her the same feeling of resentment; yet in a strange town it was an advantageous reputation.
Well let 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 French advantageous: 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 wintercarnival costume?
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. 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. 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 contact except 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 unpopular every girl there seemed to have had an affair with him at some time or other, but no one volunteered any really useful information.
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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 him she owed it to Sally. Suppose she were terribly disappointed. 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 below.
All impressions and, in fact, all ideas were extremely kaleidoscopic to Isabelle. She had that curious mixture of the social and the artistic temperaments French acquaintance: Scott Fitzgerald 65 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 magnetism. 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 it her 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 French absorbed: 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 of.
There was a stir, and Sally led the way over to their table. But really she felt as if a good speech had been taken from the star and given to a minor character The dinner-table glittered with laughter at the confusion of getting places and then curious eyes were turned on her, sitting near the head. Amory was on the other side, full of confidence and vanity, gazing at her in open admiration. He began directly, and so did Froggy: Isabelle turned to Amory shyly. Her face was always enough answer for any one, but she decided to speak. She leaned slightly toward him and looked modestly at the celery French admiration: Scott Fitzgerald 67 before her.
Froggy sighed he 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.
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Amory shook his head. 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. 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 French accessible: 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 pose it 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. She was conscious that they were a handsome pair, and seemed to belong distinctively in this seclusion, while lesser lights fluttered and chattered downstairs. Boys who passed the door looked in enviously girls who passed only laughed and frowned and grew wise within themselves.
They had now reached a very definite stage.
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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. 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. Scott Fitzgerald 69 commencing. Such is the power of young contralto voices on sink-down sofas.
She said there was a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored self-confidence in men. However, he sized up several people for her. Then they talked about hands. Amory had stayed over a day to see her, and his train left at twelveeighteen that night. His trunk and suitcase awaited him at the station; his watch was beginning to hang heavy in his pocket. 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.
He continued a bit huskily: 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. You do give a darn about me.
Et si je me confessais (Essais - Documents) (French Edition)
As he swung the door softly shut, the music seemed quivering just outside. The future vista of her life seemed an unending succession of scenes like this: He took her hand softly. With a sudden movement he turned it and, holding it to his lips, kissed the palm. Her breath came faster. 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 them on his side despair, on hers regret, and then the evening went on, with the reassured beaux and the eternal cutting in.
For an instant he lost his poise, and she felt a bit rattled when a satirical voice from a concealed wit cried: Isabelle turned to her quietly. In her eyes was the light of the idealist, the inviolate dreamer of Joan-like dreams. He had such a good-looking mouth would she ever? 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 unorthodox remarks. 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.
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. Tore over to Murray—Dodge on a bicycle—afraid it was a mistake.
Hear you got a good crowd. 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 window. Speed it up, kid! 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. There was an emphatic negative chorus. We can sell the car. Some people have lived on nothing for years at a time. Read the Boy Scout Monthly. Swinburne seemed to fit in somehow. I can see it in his eye. I ought to make up to-night; but I can telephone back, I suppose. Then they hurried through the little town and it all flashed upon his consciousness to a mighty pfan of emotion Oh, gentlefolk, stop the car!
First, he realized that the sea was blue and that there was an enormous quantity of it, and that it roared and roared really 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.
The food for one. Hand the rest around. When luncheon was over they sat and smoked quietly. Kerry, collect the small change. They sauntered leisurely toward the door, pursued in a moment by the suspicious Ganymede. At four there were refreshments in a lunch-room, and this time they paid an even smaller per cent on the total French cent: 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. Let me present Messrs. Connage, Sloane, Humbird, Ferrenby, and Blaine. Poor creature; Amory supposed she had never before been noticed in her life possibly she was half-witted.
While she accompanied them Kerry had invited her to supper she said nothing which could discountenance such a belief. 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 French coarse: Scott Fitzgerald 79 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-built black 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 was not a snob, though he knew only half his class. Servants worshipped him, and treated him like a god. He seemed the eternal example of what the upper class tries to be. This present type of party was made possible by the surging together of the class after club elections as 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.
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After supper they saw Kaluka to the boardwalk, and then strolled back along the beach to Asbury. 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 nonchalantly. 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 the sea.
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 quickdevelopment store. The photographer probably has them yet at least, they never called for them.
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The weather was perfect, and again they slept outside, and again Amory fell unwillingly asleep. Sunday broke French annoyance: Scott Fitzgerald 81 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. 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. 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 French aggravatingly: I mean the future, you know.
I may not come back next year. I wish my girl lived here. But marry not a chance. 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 French anybody: Scott Fitzgerald 83 the lights except the desk lamp and, sitting by the open windows with the picture before him, write her rapturous letters.
Your last letter came and it was wonderful! Be cure and be able to come to the prom. I often think over what you said on that night and wonder how much you meant. For I am through with everything. 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 French afraid: Then down deserted Prospect and along McCosh with song everywhere around them, up to the hot joviality of Nassau Street.
Princeton invariably gives the thoughtful man a social sense. I might have been a pretty fair poet. You chose to come to an Eastern college. They reached the sleeping school of Lawrenceville, and turned to ride back. Oh, for a hot, languorous summer and Isabelle! 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. 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.
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 night birds cried across the air A moment by an inn of lamps and shades, a yellow inn under a yellow moon then silence, where crescendo laughter fades 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 French adventure: Scott Fitzgerald 87 harpy effect that her old kimono gave her, and the cracked hollowness of her voice as she spoke: Under the full light of a roadside arc-light lay a form, face downward in a widening circle of blood. Amory thought of the back of that head that hair— that hair The car turned over.
Sloane, with his shoulder punctured, was on another lounge. He was half delirious, and kept calling something about a chemistry lecture at 8: 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-laces—Dick had tied them that morning. He had tied them, and now he was this heavy white mass. All that remained of French calling: All tragedy has that strain of the grotesque and squalid so useless, futile Amory was reminded of a cat that had lain horribly mangled in some alley of his childhood.
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 French alley: Scott Fitzgerald 89 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.
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. 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 softly. 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 French abandon: 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. 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. 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.
Amory stood there, covered with remorseful confusion. He became aware that he had not an ounce of real affection for Isabelle, but her coldness piqued him. He wanted to kiss her, kiss her a lot, because then he knew he could leave in the morning and not care. It would interfere vaguely with his idea of himself as a conqueror.
Perhaps she suspected this. At any rate, Amory watched the night that should have been the consummation of romance glide by with great moths overhead and the heavy fragrance of roadside gardens, but without those broken words, those little sighs He had told her a lot of things. You just sat and watched my eyes. He rose abstractedly and they walked to the foot of the stairs. Scott Fitzgerald 95 They were at the head of the stairs, and as Amory turned into his room he thought he caught just the faintest cloud of discontent in her face.
He lay awake in the darkness and wondered how much he cared—how much of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanity whether he was, after all, temperamentally unfitted for romance. The early wind stirred the chintz curtains at the windows and he was idly puzzled not to be in his room at Princeton with his school football picture over the bureau and the Triangle Club on the wall opposite.
He was out of bed, dressing, like the wind; he must get out of the house before he saw Isabelle. What had seemed a melancholy happening, now seemed a tiresome anticlimax. He was dressed at half past, so he sat down by the window; felt that the sinews of his heart were twisted somewhat more than he had thought. What an ironic mockery the morning seemed! There was a knock at the door. He took a sombre satisfaction in thinking that perhaps all along she had been nothing except what he had read French anticlimax: Yet that was what she had objected to in him; and Amory was suddenly tired of thinking, thinking!
It seemed a stupid way to commence his upper-class years, to spend four hours a morning in the stuffy room of a tutoring school, imbibing the infinite boredom of conic sections. Rooney, pander to the dull, conducted the class and smoked innumerable Pall Malls as he drew diagrams and worked equations from six in the morning until midnight. Scott Fitzgerald 97 The room was a study in stupidity—two huge stands for paper, Mr. Rooney in his shirt-sleeves in front of them, and slouched around on chairs, a dozen men: McDowell that Amory very nearly pushed him out of the open window when he said this Through the smoke and the air of solemn, dense earnestness that filled the room would come the inevitable helpless cry: He found it impossible to study conic sections; something in their calm and tantalizing respectability breathing defiantly through Mr.
Somehow, with the defection of Isabelle the idea of undergraduate success had loosed its grasp on his imagination, and he contemplated a possible failure to pass off his condition with equanimity, even though it would arbitrarily mean his removal from the Princetonian board and the slaughter of his chances for the Senior Council.
There was always his luck. He yawned, scribbled his honor pledge on the cover, and sauntered from the room. Your stock will go down like an elevator at the club and on the campus. Why rub it in? Amory returned the gaze pointedly. He was, of course, immediately sorry for what he had lost. His philosophy of success had tumbled down upon him, and he looked for the reasons.
My own idleness was quite in accord with my system, but the luck broke. Get a better one quick, or just bum around for two more years as a has-been? If his reactions to his environment could be tabulated, the chart would have appeared like this, beginning with his earliest years: Amory plus Beatrice plus Minneapolis. That had been his nearest approach to success through conformity. The fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been nearly snowed under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as his imagination was neither satisfied nor grasped by his own success, he had listlessly, half-accidentally chucked the whole thing and become again: The incongruity of death with either the beauties of Lake Geneva or with his French appeared: He decided that burial was after all preferable to cremation, and he smiled at his old boyhood choice, slow oxidation in the top of a tree.
The day after the ceremony he was amusing himself in the great library by sinking back on a couch in graceful mortuary attitudes, trying to determine whether he would, when his day came, be found with his arms crossed piously over his chest Monsignor Darcy had once advocated this posture as being the most distinguished , or with his hands clasped behind his head, a more pagan and Byronic attitude.
Barton, of Barton and Krogman, their lawyers, and himself, that took place several days after the funeral. The total expenditure that year had come to something over one hundred and ten thousand dollars. The rest was fully taken care of, and there were invariably items which failed to balance on the right side of the ledger.
In the volume for Amory was shocked to discover the decrease in the number of bond holdings and the great drop in the income. Very little of the oil had been burned, but Stephen Blaine had been rather badly singed. The next year and the next and the next showed similar decreases, and Beatrice had French boyhood: About the exact state of things Mr. Barton was quite vague and confused. There had been recent investments, the outcome of which was for the present problematical, and he had an idea there were further speculations and exchanges concerning which he had not been consulted.
In fact, Beatrice wrote that she was putting the money into railroad and street-car bonds as fast as she could conveniently transfer it. This Ford person has certainly made the most of that idea. So I am instructing Mr. Barton to specialize on such things as Northern Pacific and these Rapid Transit Companies, as they call the street-cars. I shall never forgive myself for not buying Bethlehem Steel. You must go into finance, Amory. You start as a messenger or a teller, I believe, and from that you go up almost indefinitely. Before I get any farther I want to discuss something.
Bispam, an over cordial little lady whom I met at a tea the other day, told me that her son, he is at Yale, wrote her that all the boys there wore their summer underwear all during the winter, and also went about with their heads wet and in low shoes on the coldest days. It not only inclines a young man to pneumonia and infantile paralysis, but to all forms of lung trouble, to which you are particularly inclined. You cannot French bonds: Scott Fitzgerald experiment with your health. I have found that out. I will not make myself ridiculous as some mothers no doubt do, by insisting that you wear overshoes, though I remember one Christmas you wore them around constantly without a single buckle latched, making such a curious swishing sound, and you refused to buckle them because it was not the thing to do.
The very next Christmas you would not wear even rubbers, though I begged you. I warned you in my last that the lack of money to do the things one wants to makes one quite prosy and domestic, but there is still plenty for everything if we are not too extravagant. Monsignor was growing a trifle stouter and his personality had expanded even with that, and Amory felt both rest and security in sinking into a squat, cushioned chair and joining him in the middle-aged sanity of a cigar.
I want to hear the whole thing. Anyways, mother would hate not having me graduate. Kerry Holiday wants me to go over with him and join the Lafayette Esquadrille. If we can do the next thing, and have an hour a day to think in, we can accomplish marvels, but as far as any French accomplish: I can do the one hundred things beyond the next thing, but I stub my toe on that, just as you stubbed your toe on mathematics this fall. It never seems the sort of thing I should do. You brushed three or four ornaments down, and, in a fit of pique, knocked off the rest of them. The thing now is to collect some new ones, and the farther you look ahead in the collecting the better.
But remember, do the next thing! It was a pose, I guess. I am afraid that I gave you too much assurance of your inevitable safety, and you must remember that I did that through faith in your springs of effort; not in the silly conviction that you will arrive without struggle. Some nuances of character you will have to take for granted in yourself, though you must be careful in confessing them to others.
You are unsentimental, almost incapable of affection, astute without being cunning and vain without being proud. An idealization of some such a man as Leonardo da Vinci would be a more valuable beacon to you at present. Do write me soon. Henry, John Fox, Jr. The undergraduate body itself was rather more interesting that year than had been the entirely Philistine Princeton of two years before. Things had livened surprisingly, though at the sacrifice of much of the spontaneous charm of freshman year. In the old Princeton they would never have discovered Tanaduke Wylie. At least so Tom and Amory took him.
So they surrendered Tanaduke to the futurists, deciding that he and his flaming ties would do better there. Scott Fitzgerald Amory rather scornfully avoided the popular professors who dispensed easy epigrams and thimblefuls of Chartreuse to groups of admirers every night. Well, here we are, your hundred sheep, Tune up, play on, pour forth Still, still I meet you here and there A radical comes down and shocks The atheistic orthodox?
And, sometimes, even chapel lures That conscious tolerance of yours, That broad and beaming view of truth Including Kant and General Booth And so from shock to shock you live, A hollow, pale affirmative Scott Fitzgerald That down the noisy aisle-ways beat Forget on narrow-minded earth The Mighty Yawn that gave you birth. The evening was so very young that they felt ridiculous with surplus energy, and burst into the cafi like Dionysian revellers.
Axia and Amory, acquaintances of an hour, jostled behind a waiter to a table at a point of vantage; there they took seats and watched. If you ask me, I want a double Daiquiri. They were mostly from the colleges, with a scattering of the male refuse of Broadway, and women of two types, the higher of which was the chorus girl.
On the whole it was a typical crowd, and their party as typical as any. Their party was scheduled to be one of the harmless kind. But strange things are prepared even in the dead of night, and the unusual, which lurks least in the cafi, home of the prosaic and inevitable, was preparing to spoil for him the waning romance of Broadway. The way it took was so inexpressibly terrible, so unbelievable, that afterward he never thought of it as experience; but it was a scene from a misty tragedy, played far behind the veil, and that it meant something definite he knew.
Sloane had been drinking consecutively and was in a state of unsteady exhilaration, but Amory was quite tiresomely sober; they had run across none of those ancient, corrupt buyers of champagne who usually assisted their New York parties. They were just through dancing and were making their way back to their chairs when Amory became aware that some one at a near-by table was looking at him.
He turned and glanced casually Scott Fitzgerald watching their party intently. Amory turned to Fred, who was just sitting down. In fact, it would be, perhaps, the thing to do in order to keep an eye on Sloane, who was not in a state to do his own thinking. Never would he forget that street It was a broad street, lined on both sides with just such tall, white-stone buildings, dotted with dark windows; they stretched along as far as the eye could see, flooded with a bright moonlight that gave them a calcium pallor. He imagined each one to have an elevator and a colored hall-boy and a key-rack; each one to be eight stories high and full of three and four room suites.
He wondered if it sounded priggish. That was all; for at the second that his decision came, he looked up and saw, ten yards from him, the man who had been in the cafi, and with his jump of astonishment the glass fell from his uplifted hand. There the man half sat, half leaned against a pile of pillows on the corner divan. Amory looked him over carefully and later he could have drawn him after a fashion, down to the merest details.
His mouth was the kind that is called frank, and he had steady gray eyes that moved slowly from one to the other of their group, with just the shade of a questioning expression. Then, suddenly, Amory perceived the feet, and with a rush of blood to the head he realized he was afraid. The feet were all wrong It was like weakness in a good woman, or blood on satin; one of those terrible incongruities that shake little things in the back of the brain.
He wore no shoes, but, instead, a sort of half moccasin, pointed, though, like the shoes they wore in the fourteenth century, French astonishment: Scott Fitzgerald and with the little ends curling up. They were a darkish brown and his toes seemed to fill them to the end They were unutterably terrible The man regarded Amory quizzically Then the human voices fell faintly on his ear: As they settled to the lower floor the feet came into view in the sickly electric light of the paved hall. Ten, fifteen steps away sounded the footsteps.
They were like a slow dripping, with just the slightest insistence in their fall. With the instinct of a child Amory edged in under the blue darkness of the white buildings, cleaving the moonlight for haggard seconds, once bursting into a slow run with clumsy stumblings. After that he stopped suddenly; he must keep hold, he thought.
His lips were dry and he licked them. Was every one followed in the moonlight? When again the pale sheen skimmed the cornices, it was almost beside him, and Amory thought he heard a quiet breathing. Suddenly he realized that the footsteps were not behind, had never been behind, they were ahead and he was not eluding but following Get to Know Us.
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