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AMES- LANE - ALLEN 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
AT LOS ANGELES 




UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA 

AT 

LOS ANGELES 
LIBRARY 



I. F. M. 



THE HEROINE IN BRONZE 



THE HEROINE IN BRONZE 



A PORTRAIT OF A GIRL 



A Pastoral of the City 



BY 
JAMES LANE ALLEN 

AUTHOR OF "THE KENTUCKY CARDINAL" 
"THE CHOIR INVISIBLE," ETC. 



Nefo fforfc 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1912 

All rights reserved 



145978 



COPYRIGHT, 191*. 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1912. 



NortDoott \Jress 

J. 8. CuMiintf C<>. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



Dedication 

TO YOUTH ITS KINGDOM AND IDEALS 



There is no other healing for love, O Nicias, either 
as an ointment or as a plaster, except the Muses. But 
agreeable and desirable though this remedy be in the 
lives of men, it is not easy to procure. 

THEOCRITUS. 



I loved you, damsel, the first time you came ... to 
pluck hyacinths on the mountain with me as your guide. 
I could not leave off loving you the first time I beheld 
you. I could not leave off loving you afterwards. And 
I cannot leave off loving you now. 

THEOCRITUS. 



FIRST PART 
THE PARTING 



THE HEROINE IN BRONZE 




CHAPTER I 

FEW years ago, in the budding 
month of June, one morning as 
the east began to flush rose- 
colored with the dawn, I awoke ; 
and upon awaking, discovered 
that I had an original story to give to the 
world a perfect love-story of a youthful pair. 
Now a gift is often a galling load : alike to him 
who carries it and to him on whose shoulders it 
is laid and left. But the gift of a good story bur 
dens neither and lightens both. It is perhaps 
the only kindness that may always be safely 
offered to an enemy and to a stranger and to a 
friend ; it is surely the only traveller that, start 
ing anywhere, can journey everywhere without 
cost or risk; invigorating all minds without 
losing its vigor; emptying laughter and tears 
round the whole earth, yet keeping them un- 
3 



4 The Heroine in Bronze 

wasted like a cloud. The world never has too 
many good stories; it is perpetually impatient 
for one more ; it would be ready and grateful 
to listen to mine. 

This reflection encouraged me. The several 
pulplike romances on which I had first per 
suaded myself that I should help to nourish 
mankind had not sustained that favorable esti 
mate of their importance; mankind had not 
shared my view that those works held any of the 
nutriment of its delight. It had nibbled, but had 
decided not to partake, and had even left it to 
me to express the necessary regrets : I duly ex 
pressed them. 

I was pleased, moreover, that my story had 
come to me in the early hours of the morning 
while as yet the day had not a footstep on it, 
not a finger-print, not a breath that might be a 
stain. For the work itself, as I have intimated, 
was about youth life's dawn ; the white dews of 
nature still lay over it, over that land of youth. 

And then, finally, the story was so wholly 
mine and of myself. I had not had the ill-luck 
to find my treasure in the neighborhood of some 



The Parting 5 

other man's treasure, just outside the covers of 
his book, just beyond the range of his con 
versation. I had not been racked with the 
need of a story, had not been hunting for one 
through the forest of my brain as the beast must 
find within his jungle some quarry to keep him 
from starving. I had not done anything. It 
came as our best things, greatest things, always 
come, not by outside compulsion, but by growth 
within and as the silent rewards of what we our 
selves are, the inevitable rewards of what we 
are. The sculptor sometimes quietly awakens 
with his most human statue ; the musician with 
greater music ; the poet with a finer song ; the 
painter with a fairer country ; the scientist with 
some vaster law of the earth or of the air or 
of the stars all as the rewards of what they 
themselves are. I, an unknown writer of a few 
unsuccessful tales, a youth two seasons out of col 
lege and dowered as to fortune with one dry rec 
tangle of university parchment and twenty-two 
green years, I, by name Donald Clough, and by 
nature an optimist and by hope a philosopher 
of the heart, fired with the wish to create a 



6 Tlte Heroine in Bronze 

work which might by its shape and substance 
touch the unchangingly sound heart of mankind 
and thus become a classic, I, after failures and 
disappointments, awoke triumphantly with a 
little masterpiece. If any masterpiece may be 
called little, if so great a matter as perfection 
can have aught to do with so small a thing as 
size. 

The immediate resolve was to carry the ti 
dings of this good fortune to her whose approval 
of my work, whose approval of me, meant my 
happiness. The masterpiece as soon as fin 
ished would itself go to her as yet another of 
fering. I myself had been but an offering from 
the first day I beheld her, that perfect day of 
the June previous, with its balmy airs and blue 
sky, on her crowded, sunny, college campus, on 
the day of her distinguished graduation, when 
she, mounting with her elect sisterhood, all in 
white, a rose-twined platform, had read to a 
delirious audience her finishing essay (the essay 
that finished me) ; when afterwards, descending 
from the platform and standing with bowed 
head that exquisite head with the gold of 



The Parting 7 

dawn on it she, Muriel Dunstan, had received 
from an impersonal president the diploma of 
her dismissal in honor and peace ; and then had 
been turned sorrowfully out of doors by all her 
old professors in a body, to enter alone the 
rougher pathways of young men. Most sorrow 
fully by the professor of English whose favorite 
brilliant pupil she had been: though this was 
not the reason why he was in love with her, 
after the masklike antique manner of professors 
sometimes. I charge him here that salaries 
are paid to professors for staid ideas, not way 
ward emotions; for their felicitous learning, 
not their unhappy leaning. Yet I salute him, 
too, with grovelling respect that if he leaned 
perilously toward her, he leaned like the Tower 
of Pisa without falling : a human classic, rigid 
with his years. 

Turned out of doors to enter alone the rougher 
pathways of young men ! The young men were 
already there with their rougher pathways ; 
for a throng of them had quickly gathered about 
her, that sure and favorable sign. As one of 
that contesting group I was from that day forth 



8 The Heroine in Bronze 

none too gentle in trying to push the others out 
of the way; you may rest satisfied that they 
greatly rejoiced to push me. In vain for all of 
us ! As to myself, with my rustic gifts of nature, 
she had, as time went on, not been disdainful 
exactly ; to the contrary she had distantly scru 
tinized these as though she might so far be rather 
well pleased. But beyond that point she had 
demeaned herself as one who, looking you sol 
emnly, searchingly, in the eyes, shakes her 
head with a baffling smile and demands more, 
far more, immeasurably more. Thus between 
her and me life had for some time been at a 
standstill, at least love had, all because I 
had not the needful gifts to scatter at her feet ; 
and when love stands still and life goes on, the 
two perforce soon get too far apart. 

Please do not admonish me that love is not 
to be won by gifts. Love is not to be won with 
anything else. There is never any question 
between any two but the same question : 
whether one must needs surrender one's self to 
another in exchange for what one's desire can 
not do without. The barter may be very low, 



The Parting 9 

the barter may be very high; but it is always 
barter, barter, barter. All our sublimities even 
have to go to the highest bidder in the market 
place of ideals ; we trade in our souls as we sell 
apples for laces and wines for shoes. 

This was the exact ground for my present 
hope that the story might bring me nearer the 
end of my toilsome, wearisome journey toward 
her heart. It was the best gift I had yet been 
able to carry to her, for it was the best proof of 
what I myself was that very morning; and of 
course what I was that morning was proof in 
its turn of what I had been all the mornings of 
my life. I hoped, therefore, that she would 
accept it as the first real token of what, with 
added years, I might become in my profession 
I, aged enough for a full-grown lover, but not 
mature enough for a full-grown author. 

In truth, of late, after some tenderer partings 
I had left her, persuaded that at heart she had 
already accepted me as a lover and was holding 
back only because the lover of some twenty-two 
years could furnish her no assurance of what 
he might be accomplishing as a man at thirty- 



io The Heroine in Bronze 

five. She, planning prudently and proudly 
far ahead, was considering whether by that 
time or at some earlier or later time she might 
not find herself bound for life to a man who was 
neither a lover nor anything else. Alas, those 
women : can there be many of them ! 

I exulted in this challenge of hers: I desired 
that I be challenged to nothing less. But my 
difficulty was that I could not outstrip time, I 
could not advance more rapidly than nature 
herself. The proof of what I could do in my pro 
fession must be unfolded little by little piece 
by piece with sweat and toil through defeat 
often through patience and consecration al 
ways. I could no more drive my mind through 
the wall of future years, and drag from beyond 
them the deeds that belonged there, than a man, 
standing at the eastern base of a mountain, 
could thrust his arm through the mountain and 
gather gold on its western slope. 

She knew this ; and there was some beautiful 
justice in her ; and I think as she pondered her 
perfectly natural caution and my perfectly 
natural helplessness to satisfy it, I think that 



The Parting n 

under the leading of her heart though she had 
spoken no word about this she had given 
way far enough to narrow her demand to a single 
requirement : I must at least show one sign, 
one valid, solid, sweeping sign, that I would carry 
off in my profession some due share of its honors 
and not soon after marriage begin to drain to 
ward a wife the long dark sewer of a husband's 
failures. 

Let me put this matter in yet another way. 
It is very important and I wish it to be made 
perfectly clear. Therefore I shall employ a kind 
of parable of the fields because I like their 
language best, the simple honest forthright 
speech of the fields. She did not require, then, 
that at this outset of my career I should lead 
her as to some mountain-top from which she 
could descry the distant gold of my autumn 
harvest; she did not even ask for the sight of 
the full-stalked summer green. But she did 
demand that I reach down where I stood on my 
mountain of hope and pluck for her a handful of 
vigorous young wheat-blades as they show in 
early spring the promise of the ended season. 



12 The Heroine in Bronze 

Then perhaps she would be ready to let me know 
whether upon this evidence she would wed 
April and risk September. 

This morning I believed that I had in my 
hand April's promise my new story, my 
first masterwork. The thought robed the world 
with joy. This day might bring about my be 
trothal. At once it became solemn and beautiful 
beyond all my days. 

As I sprang out of bed with the belief that 
happy things were just ahead and that I might 
prepare myself for them, I was not even content 
to take my bath in one of those scant allowances 
of porcelain which are sometimes assigned to the 
less important tenants in a sumptuous New York 
apartment building. Too poor myself to keep a 
valet, I was rich enough to retain something 
better my faithful servitor Imagination : ever 
at my elbow to do for me what I could not do for 
myself; its duty being to better my lot in the 
world as often as I wished and as much as I 
might crave. I now invoked Imagination ; and 
then I took my bath as one who, with an eager 
start, leaps at the surf's edge from some high 



The Parting 13 

rock, soft to his bare feet with living moss and 
fragrant to him with wild rose and pine as 
one who with strong young limbs leaps from 
such a rock, clear-bodied in the morning light, 
and dives deep into blue ocean. 

From this imaginary bath rather than the 
actual one, this boundless primeval bath, I 
emerged dripping and aglow with its cold purity. 

When I descended to the street, ten floors down, 
I found that my earlier fancied union with the 
sea was succeeded by a kind of reality. With the 
deep breathing which is instinctive as we step 
into the open air, the smell of fresh brine swept 
into my nostrils; its moisture began to settle 
on my moustache and face; the ripple of it 
seemed to pass into the full-running channels of 
my blood. For during the night a vast vapor 
from the bay had overspread the city ; and now 
this vapor hung suspended like some finest 
dew-cloth spun far out on silver and azure sea : 
a vast dew-cloth, floating, drifting, invisible in a 
crystal ether. And falling through this cool, 
clear, dew-wet air came the splendors of the 
morning sun. 



14 The Heroine in Bronze 

I could but stand still in the street for a mo 
ment to drink it all in, to acknowledge the glory 
of it with my adoring soul, my thrilled body. 
What a masterpiece of a day ! And it was the 
birthday of what I hoped would be a masterwork 
in my hand. I made good omen for myself out 
of the benign aspects of the universe ; I let my 
mind dwell waveringly upon man's old fond be 
lief that his fairer deed finds a fairer day. 

Then, thus assured that all within and without 
was auspicious, I started eagerly across the city 
in a southeasterly direction toward her home. 




CHAPTER II 

HE lived within less than half a 
block of Fifth Avenue, that long, 
hard, stately, palace-crowded, dia- 
mond-bedusted, world-weary road 
the Via Dolorosa of great cities. 
And her residence was not far southward from 
Central Park that Arcady of Nature in town : 
slopes of greensward for dances of the children 
of the earth ; thickets for the nests and songs of 
the children of the air ; turf scattered plenteously 
over with dews and rains jewels that do not 
fret the fingers or the mind; trees with wild 
thorns which pierce no brow, such thorns as may 
strike through the down of pillows ; quiet waters 
into which the stars flash surer lights to go 
by than any that mirrors can reflect from chande 
liers ; paths that lead to shade for young lovers 
who grow faint in the sun ; and many a resting- 
place for the worker and for the old who are past 
their work. 

is 



1 6 The Heroine in Bronze 

Thus Fifth Avenue and Central Park were the 
figurative boundaries of her existence, the fron 
tiers of the two worlds of her spirit society and 
nature. She dwelt near both worlds; and she 
entered both ; she entered both freely and re 
turned from both free ; too free for my peace ! 

From this description you will understand that 
her home, that is, her father's residence, over 
which she presided, her famous mother being 
dead many years, you will understand that her 
home stood in perhaps the most beautiful, the 
most celebrated, and the most fashionable quar 
ter of the city. A house that can stand where it 
stood has to be a strong house. 

It showed its strength still further by the prom 
inence it took in a street of more modern houses 
whose partition walls conjoined. In the long 
block of these to the east and to the west, it, 
much the oldest of them, stood apart in its own 
yard. And it stood there with authority. The 
others wore the air of having won a shallow 
foothold by rude and hasty force; they sug 
gested that they were achievements in worldly 
competition. Here and there a door-step seemed 



The Parting 17 

ready to fawn at the right footstep or to insult 
the wrong one ; here and there windows looked 
out at the world, prepared to smirk or to frown ; 
and plainly certain chimney-tops were too rigid 
to bow or too obsequious to do so like hats 
quickly jerked off when the mightier pass. But 
her home reigned amid these with the quietness 
of unconcern, as if knowing that its foundations 
were built below the crumbling reefs of old and 
new, below the passing and repassing tides of 
New York names and fashions and fortunes. It 
did not so much appear to stand in the city as to 
grow in the soil, on one of the last visible ves 
tiges of lower Manhattan Island ; and you re 
sponded to it as you might to an unrulable oak 
which knows itself to be legal heir to its share of 
the forest and demands space for the freedom 
of its boughs. 

It affected me powerfully because it did stand 
aloof. The rows of buildings soldered together, 
wall by wall, annoyed me, a green country boy, 
much as if I had seen a neighborhood of farmers 
pinioned together by their shoulders. I could 
no more have wished my home, when I should 



1 8 The Heroine in Bronze 

have one, to be welded to any other man's home 
than I could have planned that my ribs should 
be nailed to his ribs. Often, as I looked at solid 
blocks of houses, I twisted and writhed to get 
loose with sun and air and space for life, growth, 
independence. This house satisfied my craving : 
it flourished unsupported ; nothing else held it 
up ; it seemed to say to the others : I stand on 
my foundation, stand on yours. If you cannot 
stand alone, fall alone. 

And its humanized countenance ! Have you 
in remembrance at the moment some strong, 
middle-aged, vanished face, in the wrinkles of 
which lurked gentle humors and moods of fun, 
but over which had settled one expression of 
mellowed dignity before the world ? This, for 
me, was quite the hallowed eloquence of its 
look. By some train of suggestion, possibly by 
some resemblance it bore to another house now 
dim and distant, and lost to me with those who 
once dwelt there, the first sight of it brought back 
the memory of a middle-aged face the most 
loved face in the world strong, but with inno 
cent humors peeping from behind the ravages 



The Parting 19 

of the years, and resting over it one expression 
of brooding tenderness, a kind of indestructible 
peace. 

Into this mystery of remembrance and re 
semblance I cannot go deeper here. I only 
know that from the first I liked the house 
because of earlier things in my own heart; 
because she had been born there and had passed 
her life there, with absences for sessions at col 
lege and for summers of travel ; because it still 
moulded her as its pliant mistress ; and because, 
in fine, I was making love to her in it and trying 
to entice her out of it. Beyond question this 
was why I loved it most : that I was trying to 
induce her to leave it. 

Please give some attention to details. A 
broad strip of yard extended along the eastern 
and the western side, and there was a broader 
strip at the rear. The stone steps in front 
descended to the street, but even on each side 
of the steps there was a narrow strip of yard. 
At one boundary of the enclosure there was a 
driveway entrance to the stables, and a servants' 
gate; and here also around the feet of the 



2O The Heroine in Bronze 

horses and the dogs, of the coachman and the 
footman, of the butler and the valet, of the 
maids and the cook, even around the issuing feet 
of these, there were little plots of priceless green. 
Each of those tiny expanses of grass, if valued 
in terms of the Wall Street Mint, would have 
been as a small field of the cloth of gold. Here 
was a family that held on to the common grass 
and let the commoner gold go. 

This grass, too, ensnared my affections. For 
it here becomes intrusive to inform you that 
New York City is not my birthplace. I came 
from a rich, wide-rolling, pastoral region several 
hundred miles away ; and I had dwelt on a farm 
until I was grown, getting my education from a 
small college town a few miles distant. It was 
only two years before this that I had made my 
solitary way to the vast city, America's Lon 
don a youth, a stranger, almost without 
money, without acquaintances, without in 
fluence, but with the determination to succeed 
in one of the most difficult of professions with 
out any man's aid. I had not succeeded 
amazingly, and I was yet homesick. As I 



The Parting 21 

walked about the city there being little else 
to do I carried with me a pair of eyes which 
alighted gladly upon any verdure. Any mere 
florist's window in spring decorated with boughs 
brought up torturing memories of native woods 
far away, beginning to bud and blossom. Any 
solitary tree on a sidewalk invited me, a summer 
day, to throw myself down under its round 
shade, look up at the infinite blue, and try to 
dream again the things that once were so easy 
when they were distant, but were now so diffi 
cult, being near. 

A more noteworthy feature still of this much- 
studied home of hers. 

With my habit of keeping eyes wide open on 
human life, I had made a small discovery in my 
limited travels ; and I always go in for my own 
discoveries. In some cities, as Washington and 
Boston and Baltimore, where the early influence 
of English architecture was decisive, a high 
stone wall, after the old English custom of 
aristocratic town houses, separates the family 
from the world. I had been much used to such 
walls, even in my little pastoral Southern town 



22 The Heroine in Bronze 

with its pure English tradition. But in New 
York City, where the Dutch did most of the 
building and the British chiefly camped, and 
decamped, this Anglo-Saxon stone wall does 
not stand. Aristocratic usage has adopted the 
iron fence barbed at the top an array of 
black spears in front of the enclosure. If 
further seclusion is desired for the grounds, a 
hedge is planted inside this fence : of privet or 
of arbor-vitae or of hemlock or of rhododendron. 
There was such a fence, such a hedge, in front 
of her residence. The passer could not see the 
ground premises. But over the top of this 
hedge he might have noticed that one entire 
wall of the house was covered with a mighty 
vine which made its way upward, in masses of 
foliage thickly looped, about the windows. On 
an October day I have seen that wall of the house 
glow dark red like an oak in the autumn woods. 
And late one afternoon, when there was a blue 
haze in the city air and a gray sky and a chilli 
ness, as I walked past with my eyes dubiously 
turned in that direction, I caught sight of her 
at one of her windows, standing quite still 



The Parting 23 

there, framed in the dark red autumn picture 
and looking down into the yard. That vision 
of her head and face with its gold and its fair 
ness was as an April glimpse of daffodils and 
lilies brought forward to the winter's edge. 

"At this moment," I mused, ill at ease about 
my own case, "she may be settling the fate of 
some one of us ! Let her be thanked, at least, 
for being thoughtful about it !" 

A more curious person, glancing over the hedge 
and fence, could further have seen the tops of 
evergreens and the roof of a vine-covered arbor. 
He might have thought such a grotto a conces 
sion to the artificial, with no more natural 
right to be there than a Swiss chalet for Marie 
Antoinette had artistic warrant to be trans 
planted to the forest of Versailles. It to him 
may have stood for the same species of mock 
rusticity that one finds in a landscape of Aubus- 
son tapestry or in the lawn of a Watteau fan. 
But I am sure that it was a very simple and sin 
cere place to her, because the yard had been 
her mother's plan, she told me ; and her mother 
had been reared in the country and had never 



24 The Heroine in Bronze 

been weaned from it. I am sure there was 
naught artificial in it to her, but a double ten 
derness for this reason; and I certainly know 
that I myself found out something very sincere 
in her nature from that very arbor. For after I 
had established my acquaintanceship well enough 
to be taken out of doors, one day she and I were 
walking there. It was sober twilight, and low 
overhead I suddenly heard the notes of a grackle 
alighting in the foliage. A few minutes before 
I had recognized the call of a starling as it de 
scended out of the darkening air. I turned 
toward her : 

" Birds must drop in here for the night," I said. 
"As they migrate in spring and migrate in autumn 
and make a great encampment of Central Park, 
sometimes the thin edge of a flying squadron must 
drop down here to tent for a night and a day." 

"They do stop here," she replied, evidently 
glad. "Sometimes from my window I hear 
them as they flutter in after dark; and some 
times I hear them utter their farewells as they 
leave at dawn. Sometimes one may linger for 
a few days." 



The Parting 25 

Then with a change of tone quite natural to 
her she added, with her eyes on the ground : 

"We are all birds of passage we human 
beings. From somewhere to somewhere. 
Either flying from dawn and spring toward 
winter and night; or from night and winter 
toward spring and dawn. I think, toward 
Perpetual Spring." 

There sounded the grave note in her. I had 
heard it first in her Commencement essay, 
and I shall never forget how it startled me. 
She there that June morning, in the great audi 
ence hall of her college, before that audience of 
old age so reverential to youth on such days, 
with that bold note of the immortal in her girl 
hood most musically, fearlessly, uttered it as from 
the hilltops of life's morning. Shall I ever 
forget, either, how that night, when I was at my 
own prayers, this spiritual flight of hers already 
toward eternity drew her mystically beside me, 
as though some day we should be together 
we two Donald Clough, Muriel Dunstan? 

But do not misunderstand about her serious 
ness ; it was not gloominess. Across the bright 



26 The Heroine in Bronze 

field of her consciousness lay that one slender 
dark bar just that one. Perhaps a refrain 
of pathos caught from her mother whom she 
vividly remembered and whose life had ended 
almost before girlhood itself. All the rest of 
her was luminous with joy and humor. And 
woe to you if you ever ran your head rashly into 
the general blaze of that humor ! The uncer 
tainty of when it might make its appearance, and 
the certainty that it was always there ready to 
appear ! It got to be a kind of terror to every 
man of us ! Not one of us in love with her but 
felt tremors for this reason. No man need be 
afraid of anything he can fight; but how can 
a man attack a girl's laughter at him ! It bowls 
him over, once and for all. He may rise again, 
smiling, to face death ; not to face her. 

As further bearing on this subject of her humor 
and also as still harping on the house ! 

After the yard-turf had stretched rearward a 
space it suddenly turned uncontrollably gay 
and burst into a garden. Not quite an Italian 
garden, not quite an American garden, not 
quite anything but itself. There were flower- 



The Parting 27 

beds, evergreens, and honeysuckles ; and through 
these went a little ramble lined with dwarf -box. 
It was a dwarf ramble. But then there are 
short rambles that can be long and long rambles 
that can be short: there is no criterion for 
rambles it depends upon the ramblers. This 
ramble led to the remotest corner of the enclos 
ure, where there was an iron filigree seat painted 
gray an iron seat, cold and gray, very iron, very 
cold, very gray. The world calls such a con 
trivance a settee; I called this one a seat- two. 
To my limited knowledge, it always did seat 
two ; and there could have been no calculable 
motive for any one to sit there alone : unless 
to enjoy self-misery, as people sometimes do. 
But why bother about self -misery when you are 
free to enjoy other people's ? I repeat that no 
one would have chosen to sit there alone. For 
in addition to the attractive qualities already 
enumerated, there arose from the four legs of 
this settee four iron grape-vines that trailed 
themselves across the bottom and up the back, 
profusely laden with bunches of very uncrush- 
able, unbacchanalian grapes. They prodded a 



28 The Heroine in Bronze 

man in the back and ribs like mailed fists ; and 
they administered the peace of cobblestones 
to him in other directions. 

This wanton piece of outdoor machinery 
was arranged behind shrubs and vines not 
artfully. When one of her suitors sat there 
with her, he may not have been arranged 
artfully, but he made that impression ; he con 
veyed that idea to the hostile beholder. I 
suspect that he made that impression upon 
her. 

For though still a youth, I have long been a 
student of human nature, particularly of the 
human nature of the sex that possesses nearly 
all of it. Very old ladies and middle-aged ladies 
are beyond me in time and in depth : what they 
are up to I shall never know. But the result 
of my study of the unaccountable beings of my 
own age is the belief that each of them puts her 
suitors to some same test. The suitors may 
never perceive what the test is : the investiga- 
tress knows admirably. And so far, I am sure, 
every girl is for weavings by day and unweavings 
by night, as the original Penelope. Of course 



The Parting 29 

you do not fall into the error of thinking there 
was never but one Penelope, and she a Greek and 
a married woman. The United States to-day 
is well peopled with young Penelopes who have 
never been to Greece and have never heard of 
the Ulysses : but they expect to hear of hus 
bands ! The middle-aged classic Penelope un 
wove for a return ; the youthful classic American 
weaves for an arrival. 

I am sure that this settee was her test : one 
of her weavings or castings. The caldron 
of the open sky there stewed the suitor to sim 
plicity; that misshapen crucible of torture 
grilled him to the bones of candor. I know that 
one afternoon when I called on her and was in 
vited to go out into the garden, as I drew near 
that farthest corner, I met one of the suitors 
hurrying away; he looked shrivelled, juiceless, 
drawn. There was iron to the rear of him 
but he had the iron in him the spear of her 
last word. I could almost see where it had gone 
through. I stepped quite to one side of the 
ramble that he might have the whole road of 
suffering to himself and wished him joy in 



30 The Heroine in Bronze 

his ruin. Thenceforth I called the bench the 
purgatory of the Last Judgment. 

For me it possessed fewer terrors than any 
other spot of her domain, because I belong out of 
doors and speak best in the open. The worst 
impressions I had ever made upon her had been 
attributable to the house. Never have I feared 
my species ; but I, a country boy, long could 
be awed by New York furniture. And there 
was furniture in her parlors that for a time 
nearly deprived me of the natural use of my limbs 
and my intelligence. The first wretched, clogged, 
futile, lying words of love I ever spoke to her were 
mumbled at her as I sat in a gilt chair with an 
embroidered fox at my back in full chase of an 
embroidered goose. She faced me on a gilt 
sofa with what at her back I know not cer 
tainly not Sour Grapes; and she sat under a 
large picture known as Botticelli's Spring so 
she had informed me upon my anxious inquiry. 
But if that was the best that Botticelli ever knew 
of spring, he must have had a queer four seasons 
in his native country ; and he must have been used 
to see queer people : it is not remarkable that 



The Parting 31 

he should have painted them wandering about 
unemployed, puzzled, and low-spirited ; and 
tempered in their unmannerly garments neither 
to the wind, the Lord, nor the tailor. Ah, no ! 
Had she and I only been out in the real spring 
on some warm, grassy slope of sun and shade ; 
near some wild grape whose blossoms scented 
the golden air; with a brook faintly heard 
running through banks of mint and violets; 
and with the silken rustling of doves' wings 
audible amid the white blossoms of wild plum 
trees. 

One last most important thing to tell you 
about this interminable yard ! But feel yourself 
honored by being taken even into her yard if it 
brings you closer to her. Perhaps you would 
prefer that I should begin to say less and she 
begin to say more. But I speak while I may. 
When she appears upon the scene and begins 
to speak for herself, I shall vanish and speak 
for nobody. 

A wall shut the yard in from the neighbor 
yard on one side, and where this wall met the 
front fence of iron spears there was formed a 



32 The Heroine in Bronze 

shaded nook. Perhaps in the whole city there 
was not an outdoor cranny where one who 
wished to read alone could be so undisturbed. 
Within a few yards of the passing world of 
realities, New York realities, you could ensconce 
yourself there, forget your surroundings, and 
make your journey to the ideal. If you had 
read in a story up to some point where you 
must stop to think, there was not a more favor 
able spot in which to indulge that mood of dream 
ing and longing which it is the duty of every 
right kind of book to bring on. 

The wall forming that nook of the yard is 
heavily covered with old ivy not the Gray's 
Elegy kind of ivy, none of that ; that does well 
enough for bards. In this nook there was a 
marble seat after the manner of the ancient 
Greeks and Alma Tadema. Within arm's reach 
of the seat, at one end, flourished one of her 
mother's rose-bushes, which puts forth in the 
month of June. Never shall I forget that rose 
bush or a quiet twilight when it flowered there 
and when Destiny stood behind it and touched a 
blossom. 



The Parting 33 

Here, then, in this strong, proud, gentle, old 
mansion, in this yard with its seclusion and ram 
ble and vines and seats, she lived with a house 
hold of four members Her father, whom she 
playfully called the Commodore, was a banker, 
a clubman, and a patriot prominent in yachting 
circles. He had had something to do with the 
international challenges not by way of wind 
and wave, but of mast and sail ; and he was more 
concerned over the hardy adventurous Britisher 
who might some day lift The America's cup than 
over the hardy adventurous American who might 
sooner lift his daughter. There were two 
younger brothers off at their New England 
college, but at home for riotous intervals. There 
was an aunt, the Commodore's sister, a divorced 
dowager, who declared dividends on her alimony. 
She declared a great many more things than 
dividends. At my first dinner there, being 
her alimentary attache, for the occasion, I re 
ceived some kind of notion that she consisted 
chiefly of diamonds, opinions, and a succession of 
silver forks. Her opinions were to be classed 
rather with forks than with diamonds. They 



34 The Heroine in Bronze 

did not flash; but they were solid and heavy; 
and she took them up and laid them down, one 
by one, during the routine of courses, and made 
them generally useful to herself while feeding. I 
am sure that her ideas were forks. She, like the 
Commodore, was of aquatic habits; but she 
went all the way across and inhabited the marshy 
watering-places of the Old World. I called her 
the Paludal Aunt ; and I still suspect that she was 
web-footed, and that if she had flapped her arms 
briskly enough, she could have walked across a 
good-sized pond without wetting her ankles. 

O Temporal O Mores! O Nuptice Americana! O 
P aludes I 

And thus with all that perfection of worldly 
estate, family ties scarcely existed in the house 
hold a breakdown of the home-lif e in the too 
common New York way. The Commodore was 
absorbed in his banking, his clubs, his yachts, the 
traditions of The America. I was not unaware, 
however, that he kept a landward eye on me : as 
I kept a weather eye on him. The brothers were 
given over to their athletics, their studies, their 
fraternities; to their getting tapped and to 



The Parting 35 

doing some tapping for themselves. The aunt 
diverted herself with waters and foods and divi 
dends and declarations. And thus she, daughter, 
sister, niece, and youthful mistress of them all, 
was left much to herself. Not like any of them, 
somewhat of a stranger among them. 

Society, with its quick perception of what is 
fresh and charming, had advanced hungrily upon 
her from all directions during that first year of 
her appearance in it. It encircled her to absorb 
her. In her social set were mothers who had 
known her mother ; in her father's set were men 
with sons dangerous to me as rivals. Life spread 
out around her in every direction for her to walk 
a rose path across it whither she would ; and al 
ways at the boundary waited the world's best. 
Sometimes at night the whole street would be 
blocked with the splendid motor cars and older- 
fashioned carriages of those who within the house 
rendered tribute to her. She bore her honors 
gladly. Yet I am sure that the deepest call of 
life did not reach her either from her family or 
from her social world. 

And she managed her responsibilities so well 



36 The Heroine in Bronze 

that she contrived to reserve days when the house 
and the yard were left to quietness. These were 
the days for which I watched and waited. Then I 
found her alone, and more nearly reached her 
deepest hidden self. Now as to the manner in 
which these reserve days became known to me, 
you will be left to puzzle that out for yourself. 
But cherish the observation that whenever a 
pleasant thing is a secret to one young person, it 
becomes a secret to another young person : only 
the old must have learned to keep their secrets. 

An occurrence took place the spring of that 
same year a few weeks before the time of which I 
write. 

It was about eleven o'clock, a brilliant morning 
in May: a day when youth is ready to drop 
work and laugh and dally. The red blood in it 
belongs to the blue sky and the golden sun; 
it would willingly throw itself down beside the 
first wayside temptation and give a hard life 
time for an hour of vagrant joy. 

Being in that quarter of the city, I could not 
resist the temptation to turn my steps into her 
street; I had gone thither determined not to 



The Parting 37 

resist. As I reached the fence with its hedge 
inside I stopped. The fragrance of the garden 
was wafted out to me on the sidewalk : the smell 
of privet blossoms, the aroma of boxboughs and 
pine-buds ; and rising from under the hedge, the 
odor of the strong moist earth. Recollection 
overcame me of spring days in my country. As 
though I were one cup of memory I filled this 
cup to the brim with draughts from her hedge and 
garden. Then the cup of memory plotted a little 
for its future. The street was quiet, no one 
near ; my audacious behavior could not scandal 
ize social conventions. Placing my face against 
the hedge, in a voice pitched not to be heard 
through the public atmosphere, but in a sheltered 
corner, I took the chance and murmured : 

"How do you do?" 

I heard a book close quickly, and I heard 
laughter, surprised, amused laughter (though 
she did not know I heard). Then she replied as 
though she had not laughed and in a voice uncon 
sciously lowered to go through hedges only : 

" Do you imagine I am going to talk to you 
there in the street ?" 



145978 



38 The Heroine in Bronze 

"At least, that is one remark ! A non-com 
mittal remark, but still a remark." 

"Why don't you come in ?" 

"Another remark ! I await still others." 

"There will not be any others. Only the one 
remark why don't you come ? " 

"Well, then, I do not wish to come in." 

"At least that is frank and civil." 

"But there is a reason." 

"Is the reason frank and civil in the same 
way?" 

"The reason is I would rather talk to you 
through a hedge this one time !" 

"Why through the hedge?" 

"It reminds me of old pleasant days in my 
country and of a happy scene, when I was young, 
before I felt the weight of my years." 

" The weight of your years must be very 
crushing! What had the hedge to do with the 
happy scene? " 

" It was a calm summer day in my sweet- 
breathed land. There was a hedge of black 
berry bushes growing along the fence. The 
berries hung soft like velvet; shining like jet; 



The Parting 39 

cooled by the thick shade. They melted on the 
tongue in purple juice the iron of the vine. 
I was one side of the fence, he on the other. 
We were picking the berries for the jam of our 
mothers, but our mothers knew that Nature's 
buckets would be filled before theirs. That is 
all. We were picking them and eating them, 
and we were talking through the hedge ; we were 
boys; we had no care; it was a happy time." 

She did not reply at once, and when her voice 
reached me, it came freighted with what I 
believed to be the deep call of life to her ; from 
a world older yet younger than the city : 

" I wish I were away out in the country and 
it were a sweet day and I were picking and eat 
ing blackberries along a fence and some one I 
loved were talking to me!" 

" That can be arranged for you. I can ar 
range it this summer." 

" Now that is very kind of you! Very con 
siderate! But don't you think I should rather 
arrange it for myself? Perhaps it might be 
wiser not to be passive in such a matter. But 
you said he; why not she? " 



4O The Heroine in Bronze 

11 When it was she, I stayed on the same side 
of the fence! " 

" Indeed! Oh, indeed! Did she get scratched 
by the briers? " 

" Not intentionally." 

" A New York brier might have scratched 
her intentionally. But all this is something 
new. Why did I never hear of this before? 
Did you love her? " 

" I thought I did." 

" Don't you think so now ? " 

" Not now! " 

" When did you begin to think you didn't, 
please? " 

" The first time I saw some one else." 

" The first time ! You seem to be very observ 
ing. How do you happen to be so observing ? " 

" An author has to be observing." 

" Are you an author? " 

" Well, an acorn is not an oak. And yet an 
acorn is an oak. I am the unstoppable acorn 
with the untoppable oak-like future." 

" It must be very nice to be sure of yourself 
so far in advance. It must be very flattering to 



The Parting 41 

one's vanity to be an acorn and foresee itself an 
oak." 

" It does help." 

" So : as an author you are sure of yourself 
and sure of the future. But when it comes to 
being in love with a girl in a brier patch, you 
don't seem to be so positive. You can be one 
thing at one time and another thing at another 
time : life is all present and no future." 

I thought the moment opportune to insert a 
question : 

" Are you sorry I changed ? Do you regret 
that I do not love her now? " 

" That is not a fit question to ask! And it 
is not fit to answer! And it is not the question 
at all! The point is that you are change 
able." 

" I was only a little fellow! " 

" Can't a big fellow change ? " 

" Not if a girl knows herself! " 

" Indeed! And so I suppose girls have it as 
their destiny to lie awake of nights, trying to 
know themselves. Meanwhile the heroes who 
cause all the anxiety sleep. When they are so 



42 The Heroine in Bronze 

disposed, they call on us. If they are no longer 
held by us, but feel like wandering, it is proof 
that we have not attained the necessary self- 
knowledge. Is that what you tried to say? " 

" That is what I said without trying. Still, 
you express my meaning far better than I could 
-with the carefulness of one who means to 
profit by experience! " 

I think there was more laughter. Then came 
an inquiry. 

This talk the time and place and manner 
of it had its comic phase. She being where 
she was and I being where I was, it had its 
absurdity. Her inquiry showed that it was the 
absurdity she wished to have openly recognized 
between us : 

" Does any one hear? Is any one passing? " 

" No one but I require no witnesses. On 
Fifth Avenue I see a stage passing, and motor 
cars and people in carriages ; on Sixth Avenue I 
behold a surface car and an elevated train and 
delivery wagons and more pedestrians ; let them 
pedester." 

"Then we will go back for a moment to those 



The Parting 43 

wonderful August days : to the girl who ate 
the blackberries on the same side of the fence. 
I did not wish any one to hear me speak of such 
a person ! Was she a little fellow too ? " 

"About my height. A quarter of an inch 
lower." 

"A quarter of an inch ! Very observing 
again ! You must have stood very close to 
her to observe that quarter of an inch ! " 

"I did." 

"And the relative position did not annoy you ? " 

"Not in the least!" 

"You speak as though it might have done the 
reverse, as though it might have pleased you 
surprisingly." 

"It did!" 

"It is fortunate for the world that you were 
not old enough to to kiss her !" 

"I was!" 

"Still, it is not to be supposed that you were 
swept off your feet by the impetuosity of your 
age!" 

"Hundreds of times!" 

"Now, that is strange ! Hundreds of times ! 



44 The Heroine in Bronze 

I wonder what hundreds could mean in such a 
case. I hear that once is supposed to mean 
everything. Hundreds ! No ; I don't think 
hundreds would mean anything at all. And 
how long did this obsession for hundreds last?" 

"One summer." 

"Hundreds of times in one summer! You 
seem to have been a capable little fellow ! Hard 
working at something that did not mean any 
thing ! It leads me to recall the Infant 
Hercules ! And you were not tired out?" 

"I had just begun." 

"Mercy! What kept you from continuing 
on into thousands in the autumn?" 

"She was sent away to school." 

"It served her right ! She should have been 
made a public example of in her community. 
But it could not have been a kissing-school 
unless she was entered as a post-graduate or 
perhaps as a teacher. No ! most likely a school 
of correction. And where were you sent to be 
corrected?" 

"I wasn't sent anywhere." 

"The man never is, I have heard. But what 



The Parting 45 

became of her in the institution that received 
her as an inmate ? She reformed ? Where is 
she now?" 

"She is living at her home." 

"And so she never married of course not! 
Not after such a record !" 

"She has hardly had time to marry; she 
graduated only last June." 

"Graduated! Is she a college girl? There 
seems to be somewhat too much of the College 
Girl!" 

"She is said to be very beautiful a budding 
Juno : the country girls there often are." 

"Really ! To fit them, I suppose, to go with 
the budding Jupiters. If it were only vouch 
safed to me to see one of the Jupiters ! " 

"This edge of sod on which I press my foot 
outside your yard fence she has two thousand 
acres of it like one lawn set with forest trees." 

"What interesting grass ! I should think 
you would go back to it ! Doesn't she encour 
age you to return to pasture ?" 

"I haven't been back for three years. I have 
not seen her for six years." 



46 The Heroine in Bronze 

"But I notice that you evade the question: 
does she not encourage you ? " 

"Not to my knowledge." 

"But she does not discourage you !" 

"Not to my knowledge ! I have no knowl 
edge on the subject, favorable or unfavorable." 

"Well, I have ! I think she encourages you. 
I feel that she does. I can feel it all through 
me. And that is why she does not marry. 
She is waiting for you to come back. And if 
you have not heard from her, you soon will 
hear. Oh, she will write ! asking whether it 
is not time for you to be coming home ; at least 
for old time's sake, to let her hear from you ! 
While I think of it, her being a Juno probably 
comes from eating blackberries : Junos always 
do make you think they have been fed on black 
berries. But I do not like Junos, whether pro 
duced by blackberries or by any other berries 
whatsoever. I do not like them : they frighten 
me. And under all the circumstances I think 
it safer for me to be in the house." 

After which the nook became silent. 

I walked away light-hearted. I trod on air. 



The Parting 47 

I had strengthened my position, and I thanked 
the day and the deed and the hedge all 
hedges. But had she supposed that she was 
the only enchantress? Had I slept all my life 
to the sex until I woke to her ? Had I arrived 
at being the right kind of youth without having 
travelled the road of being the right kind of 
urchin ? 

How easy it is to form a pleasant habit ! The 
next day at about the same hour I did not resist 
the temptation again to bury my face in the 
fragrant hedge and take a second chance and 
murmur : 

"How do you do." 

This time I heard no laughter. And there 
was no answer at first. When finally she did 
speak, her voice was repellent. It denoted 
displeasure at being intruded upon ; resentment 
at privacy violated. For me to stop there 
one day that was an impulse, a jest. To 
come again that was an intention my 
policy. Thus at least I explained the rebuke 
in her tone and question : 

"How did you know I was here?" 



48 The Heroine in Bronze 

"Do you think a hedge could hide you? I 
see you through these thick boughs as through 
your veil." 

Her reply descended over the fence on my head 
like a pikestaff : 

" Isn't that sentimental ? " 

"You will call it by another name some day 
a stronger name." 

"More sentimental." 

"Have it your capricious way now : the years 
will have it their steady way !" 

" Most sentimental! " 

Some moments of silence passed : I intended 
they should pass. I waited motionless by the 
hedge. I made not a sound. Then from out 
her bower of ivy came a query barely audi 
ble, timidly searching : 

"Have you gone?" 

The little sentence made its way through 
leaves and thorns like the tendril of a plant 
which reaches out to take hold of what it cannot 
see but would entwine. 

I did not stir and I did not answer. 

II Have you gone?" 



The Parting 49 

This time the query became louder, and it was 
poignant. There was disappointment in it 
a little shock a little wound. If she could 
have seen the calculated triumph on the counte 
nance outside the hedge, I do not know what 
would have become of the little green tendril, but 
I think I know what would have happened to 
the whole blooming bush : it would have frozen 
stiff and remained frozen stiff through the 
whole winter probably. The lowest tempera 
ture in New York the following February would 
have been found there. 

I tapped on one of the iron spears till it rang 
musically : 

"Did you hear that tap?" 

There was a secret laughter again most 
quickly checked ; and then a voice reached me, 
amazingly indifferent : 

"I did." 

"Well, you may have thought it a tap on the 
fence, but it was not. It was the politest, gentlest 
rap at the classic portal of a mind to make an 
inquiry: what were you thinking of when I 
stopped and spoke to you ?" 



50 The Heroine in Bronze 

11 A very prying question ! Very bold, very 
prying ! I was thinking of you." 

"I supposed so. Did you exhaust the sub 
ject ? Because the subject as it stands here feels 
a little exhausted ! " 

"I was not thinking of you in the way you 
are pleased to imagine not in connection with 
myself. I was thinking of you in connection 
with your books : that is very different !" 

"Well," I said, "there is a connection be 
tween me and my books. I wish the world 
thought so. But my publisher tells me it does 
not. He tells me that the world has never 
thought of my books in connection with me or 
in connection with anything else on this earth. 
That's the publisher's view. I am sorry. I 
may not have created the literature of ages, but 
I fear I have created the literature of one useful 
man's premature old age. And they say no one 
has ever invented perpetual motion. Well, at 
least, I am the genius that in the literature of 
this nation has invented eternal rest. Circu 
late ! As well expect the law of gravitation to 
circulate ! No ; there are three things on this 



The Parting 51 

windy globe that stay where they are : lost 
cannon-balls, my first editions, and gravity." 

"Sometimes I have wished that there wasn't 
any connection between you and some of your 
books. Sometimes. With some of them." 

"Well, at times I have wished that there 
wasn't any connection, too : at times at hard 
times. I am ready to be disconnected now if 
there were any agency to bring about the dis 
connection. But there isn't. Death won't do 
it. When I am dead, my books will settle over 
me like iron immortelles; heavy and lifeless 
but lasting." 

"Don't speak of being dead ! It fills the sky 
with clouds clouds that weep through years 
for loss and remembrance. Don't ! And I 
said that there have been times when I wished you 
had not written some of your books. But there 
are no such times now. And take back what 
you have just said against your stories !" 

The amount of fight there was in that one 
breath of hers so quietly breathed out of her 
green nook ! The Seventh Regiment moving 
down Fifth Avenue may look warlike to you; 



52 The Heroine in Bronze 

the West Point Cadets as they sweep by are a 
sign of future Spartan fields. By comparison 
with the spirit of combat in her at that moment 
these warriors are as wraiths of imaginary car 
nage. 

It was a stupendous revelation. Within a day, 
since that talk of the day previous, there had 
been a change in her. Never before had she 
espoused the championship of my books; now 
she had interposed her girlish figure the 
woman's heroic world-figure between the 
crowd and the man she would defend. 

While this was passing joyously in my mind, I 
did not delay my reply an instant. And I hid 
my happiness at the change I had noticed in 
her: 

"I had already taken my words back," I said 
quietly. "They were meant to be taken back 
after they had served their purpose to jest with. 
I have nothing against my books except youth 
and inexperience. Youth soon goes. Experi 
ence must come in time. May it not come to 
me too late for me to win what my youth waits 
for!" 



The Parting 53 

Well, she knew what it was my youth waited 
for ; and she was silent. She was always silent 
when I spoke of my love, as though each time 
she must pause to weigh it once more. Then 
she replied more quickly, as resolved to make 
her thought clear : 

"I was not thinking of that, either. Not of 
the books you have written, but of the stories 
you have not written; I was wondering why 
you have not written them." 

I was impetuous with my reply, for the trouble 
was an old trouble ; I had lived with it from the 
time I had begun to write. I was ready with 
my reply : 

"I, too, have wondered. I suppose we all 
do, whether we write stories or do not write 
stories. We all wonder about the stories we 
do not write. There are stories that flash upon 
the screens of our consciousness, remain an 
instant, then disappear again in the unknown. 
Stories sometimes follow us for days as closely 
as our shadows and then halt as if with weari 
ness and are lost behind us on the road. Stories 
hover in front of us like winged messengers, 



54 The Heroine in Bronze 

beckoning us on toward new worlds. Man is 
the story-telling animal. About all of us 
crowd mute things that ask at our hands the 
touch to awaken them, that plead with us for 
the gift of life. It is as if one common univer 
sal dust bespoke for itself evermore the miracle 
of creation and demanded that man give to it 
the cast of man. I, too, have wondered at the 
stories I have not written. Why out of so many 
I have written so few, and none of them among 
the great ones." 

There was stillness beyond the hedge, and this 
grew more intense. My ear then caught the 
sounds of movements : a book was laid down ; 
there were soft slippings of her silken draperies 
as she changed her position ; I heard her fingers 
- these wonderful fingers suddenly brush 
with an impetuous rippling movement across the 
leaves of the ivy as one might in a sweep of 
passion strike the strings of a harp. When she 
spoke, her voice had deepened, and it trembled. 

"I was not quite thinking of that, either. 
Not of the stories you have never chosen to write, 
but of the stories you have attempted to write 



The Parting 55 

but have never wholly written. You know that 
sometimes as we look at a rainbow our eyes 
wander from it to a fainter, higher rainbow span 
ning the lower glaring one. Both rainbows are 
parts of the same event of cloud and sun, of fall 
ing drops and falling light. And sometimes as I 
read one of your stories, I look from it to a story 
that seems to bend above it to the fainter, 
higher story you almost wrote in writing the 
other . I see a rainbow nearer the dome ; I see an 
unwritten story nearer greatness. Your actual 
stories always suggest greater stories; and I 
have more faith in you than I have in what you 
have done." 

Thus the truth in her must come out; she 
was as a child for very truth- telling. I was even 
quicker in my reply this time because this prob 
lem too was a familiar problem, the trouble of 
troubles, the woe of woes. I was quicker with 
my rejoinder and defence : 

"It is because I am young, because' I lack ex 
perience. Youth, inexperience that is the 
trouble ! I too know that each of my stories 
is a broken, uniinished arch. I know that the 



56 The Heroine in Bronze 

colors spread over that arch are not the colors of 
Nature: they are false and they are confused. 
No story that I have written is either the arch of 
form or the prism of light: I realize all this 
more deeply than any one else could." 

There I stopped : I could not bear to tell her 
that youth and inexperience were not the only 
obstacles ; that life otherwise had never given me 
my chance. I let it go at youth and inexperience 
and kept hindrances and struggles to myself. 

Her reply came eagerly back to me, as though 
she had scarcely waited for mine, as though 
nothing could now keep her from going to the 
limit of her purpose : 

"Youth soon goes, as you say. And experi 
ence may come, as you say. But how long may 
experience be in coming ? To how many has it 
come too late too late for life to have what 
makes life full and sweet. May not experience 
be hastened? If it can be hastened, ought it 
not to be hastened ? " 

I answered with ready scorn : 

"Tell how to hasten it I" 

For a while she did not answer. When she 



The Parting 57 

did, there was a fine withdrawal in her nature ; 
it had shrunk from touching the personal in this 
way. Yet, despite this, she would speak out : 

"Have you no help, no advice, no guidance?" 

I answered proudly : 

"My help, my advice, my guidance are the 
great models the great masters." 

She answered persuasively : 

"The great masters are dead. You can study 
the great models, the great models cannot study 
you. You can find out their faults, they cannot 
point out your faults. A living counsellor 
why have you none, to do that?" 

I answered with my stiff-necked confidence : 

"No living counsellor have I ; nor will I have." 

For a long time what seemed to me an end 
less time she deliberated. I could barely 
hear what she said at length, so timid was it, so 
shrinking with delicacy yet so resolute : 

"May I be your counsellor?" 

"You/ " 

"They used to say in college that I had some 
small gift of that sort, to judge things. The 
Professors told me this during the years that I 



58 The Heroine in Bronze 

studied under them. The Professor of English 
especially ; he would sometimes set before us the 
work of finding out where a great master was 
wrong where he nodded. My roommate 
would tell me this when we sometimes exchanged 
our exercises to see which could better the other. 
It may have been kindness in them all. It may 
not have been true that I have any such gift 
to find fault. But if I have " 

I answered her as at last meeting her alone in 
Life's road : 

"I can have but one counsellor : the woman I 
love, the woman who loves me : only to her could 
I throw open the gates that are shut against the 
world and say : See of what I am made. Here I 
am; here is all there is of me. These shapes, 
forms, images they are my ideals. These are 
my emotions, those are my enthusiasms. Here 
are my gifts, there are my hopes. As all these 
are mine and as you are mine, they are yours. 
Learn to be at home with them; then you will 
be at home with me. And help me ! So that 
I may perhaps leave one piece of work if but 
one that will long stand, drawing to itself the 



The Parting 59 

eyes of the world as an arch of eternal form and as 
the hues of Nature's light. I have asked you 
many times to marry me. I ask you now - 
will you? And will you be that counsellor?" 

The silence of the garden ! The emptiness of 
the beautiful day ! The paling brilliance of the 
sun ! That shadow and chill of noon ! She 
was gone ! 

Heart-sore and with heavy feet I walked away. 
But I was right. From her, of all persons in the 
world, I could accept no aid. If I must win her 
by what I was and what I could do, she must not 
help. If she required of me that I scale an all 
but unscalable wall to reach her, she must not 
open a gate through the wall that I might enter 
easily, slothfully. 

But well I knew, perhaps a little grudgingly, 
what a counsellor she could have been. And as 
I walked away, once more there rose before me 
the whole scene when I first beheld her : 

A slender figure on the edge of the platform 
in the great audience hall of her college, with a 
vast audience of young and old attentive and rev 
erent to her. She standing there with the reluc- 



60 The Heroine in Bronze 

tance of girlhood and shrinking modesty of na 
ture where she had never stood and would never 
again stand to speak to the world once and 
then retire : yet resolved to make the moment 
worth while if possible by uttering something 
true within herself. 

She had won the honors in Literature, and it 
was for Literature she had chosen to speak. And 
she spoke so simply, without display of scholarship 
which would have been easier than simplicity. 
In the most natural manner, and as though she 
could not help saying it, she drew attention to an 
ideal within the human spirit as to what no man 
hath done. That was the title of her essay, 
What No Man hath Done; and she unfolded her 
theme around one instinct of man which forever 
sends him onward along his road unsatisfied. 
No matter what book we read, she said, something 
within us lifts us above that book, leads us be 
yond that book : we must press on. No master 
piece in any art is a measure of what there is in 
any one of us. We are forever asking for pic 
tures that have never been painted. We see 
statues unquarried, yet in the marble of Paros. 



The Parting 61 

Our ears listen for music that has never reached 
human instruments. Our eyes vaguely make 
out temples that have never been built. In our 
hands lie the books that have never been written. 
It is thus with the human spirit in the arts. It 
cannot long fold its wings upon its own master 
piece; it rests there awhile, then must fly on. 
Thus all achievement is but small part of what 
man strives to achieve ; and thus the old always 
leave the young something to do. Forever the 
young ! The eyes of the world, fixed on the 
Road of Time, see the weary and broken figures 
of the old pass down it and disappear ; and look 
ing up the road, it always expects to see, coming 
to replace these, some youth, some stranger, some 
young unknown. Always a youth the young 
stranger who will do what no man hath done. 

The conversation through the blossom-sweet 
hedge, where our hearts one time almost met like 
birds in May, had taken place a few weeks before 
the morning of which I write. And now on that 
June morning I was on my way, swinging along 
across the city, to tell her of my first masterwork. 

I, a young stranger on the road of time. 




CHAPTER III 

RANG the door-bell as one on 
whose shoulders had fallen the 
Mantle of the Succession that 
Mantle of Beautiful Work which 
has descended through the ages 
from one youth to another youth, always to a 
youth. 

From impatience to enter I seemed to be 
made to wait too long. When at last the door 
was opened by the butler, who was not the one 
formally to open it, he looked flurried as though 
this duty had called him from other duties. 
Yet he was prepared to receive me ; and plainly 
acting under orders, he invited me to come out 
into the garden; whereupon he led the way 
through the hall to the rear veranda, from which 
the garden could be seen. 

As I followed, wondering at his unusual man 
ner and also at this unaccountable reception 
of me, further evidence offered itself that the 
62 



The Parting 63 

household was at this early hour not ready for 
visitors. Shawls and top-coats lay on the hat- 
rack; a maid flitted past me apologetically 
with wraps on her arm ; the doors of the break 
fast-room were opened, the breakfast service 
had not yet been removed, on the floor stood a 
hamper heaped with fruits and bonbons and 
bottles of wine; and when at the end of the 
hall the butler with another bow withdrew and 
I stepped out upon the veranda, there likewise 
was disorder. The veranda formed the south 
ern exposure of that older New York mansion ; it 
was already fitted up for early summer with 
fresh awnings, and I could but notice that the 
chairs were still grouped as guests of the even 
ing before had drawn them together. But in 
another instant I had caught sight of her and 
lost thought of everything else. 

She was walking along the path at the rear 
of the garden : slowly as though she waited for 
some one to seek her there by arrangement. 
At that vision of her I halted, as I remember 
still, with a downward step half taken ; I think 
my breath almost stopped. For it was as though 



64 The Heroine in Bronze 

the curtains of the ideal had been unexpectedly 
drawn apart, allowing me to see there in nature 
the heroine of my romance. There before my 
very eyes was the essence and fable of life's 
morning there in that slender, full-moulded 
form moving through the cool limpid air ; with 
dewdrops on the verdure about her feet ; with 
fragrant buds opening on the boughs around 
her hands and eyes. She looked all white and 
silver as though the mists of night had just un 
rolled themselves from her shape all white 
and silver except for the lustrous gold of her 
hair. The sun, beginning to fall into the garden 
above the roofs of the houses, sometimes touched 
her face, sometimes was shut off from it as she 
moved along. The Old Greek said that divine 
things go on light feet : she went on light feet. 

At a bend of the path she turned to retrace 
her steps, and as she did so cast a glance toward 
the house and discovered me, looking at her. 
With a quick gesture of grace she waved a 
white scarf she carried, so thin, so diaphanous 
that it floated on the air like a banner of morn 
ing frost. I do not know why, but it brought 



The Parting 65 

to mind Isolde's scarf shaken beckoningly at 
that ill-timed hunting hour with Tristan. Then 
as I hurried down toward her she advanced 
responsively toward me with steps of eagerness, 
her countenance marvellously lighted up. 

When we met, she laid her hands intimately 
in mine and came closer to me than she had 
ever stood and searched my face with emotions 
she had never revealed. There was some won 
derful change in her, some latent excitement; 
she might have welcomed me thus if actual tid 
ings of my happiness had outstripped my haste 
and apprised her of my coming. I lost not a 
moment to give her the explanation of my hur 
ried visit; and I endeavored with my first 
words to link it with something dear and sacred 
in her own memory. 

"Do you remember," I asked, smiling, "that 
last year on a June day like this, in a great col 
lege and before a great audience, one of the 
graduating class read an essay in which she had 
something to say about stories that no one has 
ever written and that the world waits for?" 

When I began to speak, her eyes were resting 



66 The Heroine in Bronze 

on mine with lights and shadows in them as 
though she were happy, yet not happy. Before 
H finished, their expression changed; only dis 
appointment darkened them, simple wonder 
ment at me for saying what I had said. And 
she replied reluctantly, as though not pleased to 
be forced to recall what had been her day of 
triumph. It was her triumph in it that always 
made her averse to mention it. 

"I remember, of course," she said. "But 
why do you bring that up now?" 

"Do you remember that a certain young 
stranger sat in the audience, listening to every 
word, as he told you soon afterwards?" 

"Of course," she replied again, still more 
against her will, as though those distant matters 
had no place in these intense moments. "But 
why do you go back to that at this time ? " 

"Because," I said, "I have brought you one 
of those stories. This morning when I awoke, 
it awoke with me : it begins my better work : 
all that I have so far done let that go ! With 
this I enter upon my real life-work. And I have 
hurried here to tell you to tell you first !" 



The Parting 67 

The light and warmth of her welcome died 
out of her face. Without a word she turned 
and walked away from me. 

I stood stricken in my tracks. She came back, 
and with a kind of sacred indignation reproached 
me : 

"Is that what brought you? Did you 
come to speak to me about one of your 
stories?" 

It was as though she whom I had thought 
the spirit of all gentleness, the incarnation of 
the exquisite, had put out her hand and with 
inconceivable brutality struck me a blow in 
the face. The glory of the day died out of the 
world; the gorgeous dream of the morning 
burst on the air like a roseate bubble and was 
gone; buoyancy of spirit tumbled headlong to 
the ground with a broken wing; enthusiasm 
was murdered. My silence seemed all the more 
to arouse her as she, in evident pain, reiterated 
her incredible words : 

"Did you come to tell me about a story?" 

I stepped back from her: 

"It was a mistake." 



68 The Heroine in Bronze 

She followed me closely up in the stress of 
her emotion: 

"Was my note to you a mistake ?" she asked. 
" Was it of no consequence that you pass it 
over in this way to speak of other things ? Was 
it not worth a thought, a word?" 

"Your note !" I cried, bewildered, but catch 
ing at a clew. "What note?" 

She in turn look bewildered, and she also 
grasped at a clew : 

"I sent you a note after breakfast. Did you 
not receive a note from me by messenger?" 

"I have received no note; I must have left 
my apartment before he reached there." 

"And you did not come in reply to my note ? " 
she insisted with some calmness, as though light 
were now breaking in upon her. 

"I have told you why I came." 

"Then you do not know what I wrote you. 
I wrote asking you to come and tell me 
good-by this morning ; we are going to Europe 
this afternoon." 

Since the first day of our acquaintance I had 
never been separated from her for any long 



The Parting 69 

time, a few weeks at farthest. Now this vast 
chasm of separation ! I seemed to stand on the 
edge of an abyss, gazing into vacancy. 

"How long will you be gone ?" 

"Until sometime in October." 

I counted the months; they made nearly 
half a year. 

"Are you going alone ?" 

"My father and I are the only members of 
the family to start; my brothers do not think 
that a summer in Europe promises as much 
pleasure as a summer in the United States. My 
aunt is to join us in Paris." 

She went on, at once taking me into full 
confidence. She made it her first point that I 
should have details. In the party to sail would 
be some old friends : father and mother and 
daughter. The daughter had been her college 
confidante and still was her most intimate friend. 
There lay peril for me : her brother was one of 
my rivals. It was enough that he could press 
his suit through his own worth. She continued : 
during part of the summer other friends would 
join them a mother and her son. The 



yo The Heroine in Bronze 

mother had been the friend of her mother's; 
the son was a University honor-man, and he 
was now pursuing post-graduate studies in 
Germany. I knew him well also another 
rival to be dreaded on his own account. Her 
father and aunt, she concluded, were to motor 
through France : she did not like to motor ; 
while they were away, her chaperon would 
be this mother the friend of her mother's. 

As she outlined these plans and pleasures, 
old savage instincts welled up within me, 
jealousy, rage, with their wretchedness. I 
wheeled upon her in the garden path : 

"And you arranged to be gone half a year 
with those you care for most and without a 
word to me until the last moment ? " 

I put into my voice the sense of a wrong ; the 
sense of a right; my disappointment in her 
character; my arraignment of the standards 
of her conduct. She stood silent and I repeated 
my words : 

"You did this! Is that what you thought of 
me?" 

She drew herself up in a quivering moral 



The Parting 71 

growth as though no such touch of censure had 
ever been laid upon her in life. 

"Was there any obligation that I should make 
you acquainted with our plans of summer 
travel?" 

"No," I cried. "There was no obligation! 
More than an obligation or nothing. But the 
last moment is too late for any good-by to you 
from me." 

I lifted my hat and turned away from her 
toward the house. After I had gone several 
steps her voice overtook me. It was half 
amused, half plaintive : 

' ' WiU you wait ? Will you listen ? ' ' 

I would neither wait nor listen. As I strode 
on, my eyes seemed blinded to the ground before 
me. She suddenly laid a light touch on my 
arm : 

" I could not tell you sooner ! I myself did not 
know!" 

I stopped. She had regained composure 
now, she was smiling again; and she looked 
into my eyes as though she had discovered 
there was nothing wrong between us, only the 



72 The Heroine in Bronze 

comedy of a misunderstanding. Then she 
explained : 

"There was no chance to tell you. My 
father came home late last night from a dinner 
with some friends at the Club. It was while 
there he learned that some of them were to sail 
to-day; and he at once decided that we should 
sail with them. You may not know that a 
day's notice is usually all the time that my father 
gives us : sailing anywhere seems to him so 
easy. He did not reach home until after mid 
night, and it was then too late for word to reach 
you. But I wrote immediately after breakfast, 
asking you to come and say good-by to me, 
and as the servants would be packing up and 
the house would be in disorder, I arranged to 
tell you good-by here." 

And then she added, after allowing time for 
this explanation to have due weight with me : 

"I thought this was a good deal for me to do. 
And when you came and paid no attention to 
our sailing to my note to a good-by - 
and began to speak of your work as though 
my going away meant nothing why, then, 



The Parting 73 

very naturally " She broke off and looked 
away from me. 

Our misunderstanding was over. We were 
walking slowly along the garden path in silence. 
Silence at such moments reunites more quickly 
than words. And as we walked, I am sure 
that our thoughts met once more on the few 
moments we were to be together and on all that 
must be said. 

As we passed the marble seat, she, with 
sudden notice of it and a slight gesture, led the 
way thither. There she seated herself, facing 
me. She linked her hands in her lap and bent 
slightly over toward me as though she were 
now impatiently coming back to something too 
long pushed aside. She spoke with a rush of 
eagerness : 

"And now the story ! What beautiful 
tidings to sail with and to keep by me all 
summer !" 

I barely heard her, for my thoughts were on 
the picture she made. 

The old wall of the garden darkly shadowed 



74 The Heroine in Bronze 

with ivy rose behind her; some of the topmost 
branches, falling outward and downward, almost 
overhung with leaves of tender green her golden 
head. Near her stood the rose-bush thickly 
crowded with the brief procession of its buds. 
She sat there under the blue sky of the summer 
morning with the freshness of the blue and silver 
sea in the air about her; an American vestal 
of the college in her land and race and time. 
Yet like a Greek vestal on the Greek-like seat; 
Greek-like in the softness of snowy vestments 
which we in our day touch only as the hardness 
of marble ; Greek-like in symmetry, grace, 
health. Not an ornament; not the simplest 
band of linked gold around her neck bared low; 
not a gem in the ear, nor bracelet on the arms 
bared to the elbows arms the chisellings of 
which were as of alabaster and the flesh tones 
of which was as alabaster shadowed by rose 
leaves. A comb of palest amber out of an old 
Greek sea caught up the soft gleaming gold of her 
hair : across the top of the comb lay a little 
garland of shaken windflowers. In her eyes 
the one blue of the sky and of the sea for the 
gladness of that day. 



The Parting 75 

" And now," she had said, bending over 
toward me with sympathy and eagerness, " the 
story ! " 

I slowly shook my head : 

" When I was ready to tell you, you were 
not ready to listen. Now you are ready to 
listen, and I cannot tell you." 

She looked at me with swift disappointment 
and waited for some explanation. 

" Do you remember Othello's words ? " I said, 
finding his mournful ones better than any of 
my own at that moment. " Do you remember 
Othello's words on that last night? When he 
took up the candle which was to light his way 
as he walked toward Desdemona in her sleep, 
he mused that if he put out the candle, he could 
light it again, but that if he put out the light 
of her life, no power could it relume. When I 
awoke this morning, I had within me a new 
flame, the light of something beautiful that was 
like a flame. I hurried here to you with it; 
and like a torch in the hand of one who runs 
through the air, with every step I took it flamed 
larger and more bright. But when I met you, 



76 The Heroine in Bronze 

as with one gust of black wet night you blew it 
out. It is not out like a life, I know, never to 
flame within me again. After you are gone, 
perhaps when I set to work to-night, I shall 
expect to rekindle it. But for this day at 
least it is out out like a candle. The thought 
of your going away fills me like darkness and 
rain ; the story is like a candle out in a rain at 
night." 

My sad words were as new life to her. I 
think she would not have had me suffer less at 
the thought of her going. But that she was not 
to hear the story only fed her desire to hear it. 
Her whole nature had quickly turned toward it 
as bringing me before her in new light, with a 
larger importance. She did not hesitate to 
voice her protest. 

" But I cannot go away without knowing ! 
Give me some little picture of it to take with 
me." And then she added, with a smile of 
archness and of warning : 

" You know it is all of yours I have to take ! " 

"What of yours have I to keep?" I said, 
glad of a demurrer on such grounds. 



The Parting 77 

With a quick impulse she lifted the scarf from 
her lap and lightly shook out its folds : 

" I will leave you this," she said. " Only, it 
has been around my neck." 

" Let it be around your neck once more that 
I may see the picture: then it will not be 
something apart from you." 

Laughing, she shook out the film of scarf and 
threw it as a band of white mist over her hair 
and let it slip down about her neck. Then 
taking an end of it in each hand she drew these 
down transversely across her breast and so sat 
looking at me as a portrait for remem 
brance. 

But as in a portrait the sitter may, unaware, 
let come into his eyes some look that will be 
full of meaning long after he has vanished, she 
unconsciously gave some revelation of herself to 
last while she was away. After which, with the 
careless air of one who is not unmindful that 
what is bestowed is worthless, she, smiling, 
folded the scarf and handed it to me that 
grave portrait light slowly vanishing in her 
eyes. 



7 8 The Heroine in Bronze 

For a third time she now made her request 
as one who has kept her part of a compact and 
has justice on her side. She leaned back against 
the marble seat so that she was a little shadowed 
under the tender green of the ivy boughs. 

" Now I will have what is coming to me," 
she said, laughing and eager. 

I turned half round to shut out the torment 
ing picture of her to put away the thoughts 
and emotions of the instant. It was as if some 
young worker in silver, one day, far from the 
surroundings of his craft and sitting beside her 
who was everything to him but his art, should 
be asked by her to forget love and life, and 
thinking of his art only, describe for her some 
work in silver of which he had as yet only 
dreamed in his distant shop. 

I could not do this at once, and I sat looking 
across the garden spread out under its blue 
sky, in its mesh of silver light, filled with morn 
ing freshness from the laughing sea, strewn with 
its dews, sweet with its opening buds. Then 
slowly I began, in order to give each word its 
full weight: 



The Parting 79 

She must imagine as the locale of the story 
the buildings and grounds of a Young Ladies' 
Seminary an old established American school 
especially liked by American families of culture 
and wealth. The opening would be the great 
day of the college year, Commencement Day. 
The actual scene would be the chapel of the 
college. The moment would be that when the 
heroine of the story, one of the graduates, would 
rise from her seat on the platform and come 
forward to read her essay. In the vast audience 
of old and young were strangers, and among 
these was a stranger youth. As she stood with 
every eye turned in beautiful reverence toward 
her while she read, he, too, looked and listened, 
and the first love of his life came to him. After 
wards, out on the sunny, crowded college campus, 
he singled her out and sought her acquaintance. 
She was standing in the shade of one of the old 
trees on the lawn, not alone. A professor of the 
college was talking with her. He had long 
loved her, but the relation of teacher and pupil 
had constrained him to silence. Within an hour 
that relation of constraint had ceased; and he 



8o The Heroine in Bronze 

was there in the open of nature and with all 
the rights of man. When the youth came up, 
it was the end of the professor's love-story; 
the two young people loved each other at sight 
and irrevocably: as irrevocably as Hero and 
Leander. The story would then take them 
through the two or three years of his courtship, 
with their misunderstandings and quarrels. It 
would bring them to her confession of her love 
and to their marriage. After marriage it would 
lead them on through the experiences of man 
hood and womanhood, of two lives deepening, 
broadening, being slowly harmonized. 

To that faint outline of the bare story I added 
a few words to show what its setting would be 
in the life of our country : 

"It may surprise you to discover what I have 
discovered that the field in which this story 
is laid has never been entered. If any American 
writer has ever found his way to it, his presence 
there was too unimportant to be noticed; if 
he worked in it, the traces of his work were too 
slight to be memorable. For more than a 
hundred years the American College Girl has 



The Parting 81 

been the triumphant figure in the womanhood 
of our civilization. She was that in the genera 
tion of our grandmothers. She was that in 
our mothers' time. She is more than ever that 
in the civilization of the country now. The 
whole nation has always been at work to bring 
her to perfect flower. It is she whom the nation 
has always regarded its typical bride, its 
fittest mate for the fireside, the safest, strongest 
mother of its men. Yet no American writer 
has lastingly touched this mighty truth. In a 
virgin field of the nation has stood, overlooked 
and unnoticed, the most exquisite figure of its 
girlhood the vestal of the American College. 
So that while the bare love-theme of my story 
is as simple and old as the tale of Hero and 
Leander, in our literature it has never, with its 
full meaning, found a place. My work will be 
something that no man has done." 

Then as the young worker in silver, having 
imparted to her whom he loved his dream of a 
masterpiece, might close the door of his distant 
shop with his thought now returned wholly to 
her, I added : 



82 The Heroine in Bronze 

"It is a faint, poor picture. But take it with 
you ! Take it ! Keep it ! All summer let it 
speak to you of me and make me best remem 
bered ! Do not forget that it is from me to 
you I" 

Thus I finished with my love-confession once 
more on my lips; it was the union of my love 
and my life-work. 

Instantly I became aware of what all along 
I had been barely conscious. No sooner had 
I begun to speak than the little movements 
which were spontaneous with her, movements 
of her head and neck, of the hands and arms, of 
the feet, of the whole body vibrant with health 
and joy, all these had ceased, and there had 
come on one intense stillness the stillness of 
an entire nature when it forgets itself in atten 
tion. 

Now this stillness lasted. I waited for some 
word of pleasure, praise, sympathy. None 
reached me. Until with amazement and pain 
and incredulity I turned to her for the meaning 
of such a mystery. As I did so, one cloud of 
faint red, the first I had ever seen there, surged 



The Parting 83 

outward and covered her from brow to throat. 
It was Nature's cloud to enwrap her for protec 
tion and concealment. And she did not speak 
because Nature spoke for her, and hi speaking 
went back to a language more ancient and in 
stinctive and powerful than words. By that 
changing hue of the skin, by that intense still 
ness of the body, by the lips that could not 
open, by the eyes which flashed on m6 their 
startled and swiftly changing lights, by the 
alarm of the whole countenance and its hostility 
and abhorrence by all these signs Nature 
spoke for her. 

The reading was too plain to miss, and I had 
to read it, and this was what I read : she had 
drawn the inference that it was my design to 
make use of her College and of her College life 
and of one of the College Professors and of 
myself in a piece of fiction that was to be given 
to the world. That was the shock. That was 
why she now sat, voicing through every avenue 
of her being except articulate speech the outcry 
of her astonishment and displeasure and pain. 

It was possible for me to imagine some of 



84 The Heroine in Bronze 

the pictures that were passing before her mind : 
the terrifying announcement of such a book by 
the publishers ; the crying of it by newsboys on 
trains : the stacks of it in shop windows, on the 
counters of department stores ; the reviews of it 
in the press with dissections of it of herself 
as a character in fiction where her words, thought 
less acts, innocent motives, little playfulnesses, 
had all been caught up and set down for the 
reading world to amuse itself with, then toss 
aside: and sooner or later the casting of the 
book into the swift, sad wastage of things with a 
rejected image of herself. I had to look upon 
still other pictures of her imagination which 
must so have startled and wounded her in those 
moments : the rinding of its way back by such 
a book to her College: the recognition of her 
self as a character in it by her Professors and 
old schoolmates and younger girls : the dubious 
delight with which they would read of a love 
affair between herself and a member of the 
faculty : the appearance of myself as the tri 
umphant hero : the carrying of our lives onward 
to the point of an engagement : the bad breed- 



The Parting 85 

ing of it, the bad manners, the bad taste, the 
bad everything ; the stupidity of it, the liberty, 
the audacity, the crudeness, the brutality, the 
ingratitude, the treachery, the hideousness of 
the mercenary. 

I sat there, seeing all this and saying noth 
ing. She could not stoop to words about it; 
neither could I stoop to words about it. When 
a man is wounded by a woman, what is he to do 
but let the wound bleed under his coat; least 
of all throw his coat open and point to the gash 
and laceration. I sat waiting for her to act 
to end her silence as she would; and by that 
curious feat of the mind which lets it escape to 
some little quiet thing far away, when great 
things are falling in upon it with crushing weight, 
there arose in my memory the dim story of 
another youth a Greek : How one summer 
day he, young hunter, with his pack of high- 
lineaged hounds, having wearied of the chase 
and fain to seek shade against the noon-day heat, 
drew near a forest, and innocently entering it, 
approached a grove with pointed cypresses and 
a running stream, where, unprofaned by human 



86 The Heroine in Bronze 

eye, Dian rested in noon-day seclusion; and 
how for this offence of having come too near, she 
had him torn to pieces by his own pack. I was 
in my way another Actaeon : the chosen hounds 
of my imagination, as I was in the very act of 
joyously cheering them on to capture an im 
mortal Joveliness, had been set on me as the 
common dogs of my own destruction. 

And this terrifying doubt of me which had 
overwhelmed her from the direction of the story 
was not alone. No doubt ever travels alone; 
it is always followed by a flock of doubts ; and 
during these moments of silence and suspense 
between us, when the old was gone and the new 
not yet come, the rest of a flock of suspicions 
and distrusts reached her and settled one by 
one in her mind. When they were all arrived, 
she was done with me. 

She rose, and with her native courtesy not 
lessened but more guarded she said : 

"Shall we walk?" 

In that instant she had discarded me. 

Now it is only the mind that can thus instantly 
dismiss. The mind takes hold as the hand takes 



The Parting 87 

hold, and it can let go as the hand lets go. The 
mind can for a moment, an hour, a year, a life 
time, hold to an idea, a cause, a man, a woman ; 
and in an instant it can drop idea or cause or 
man or woman. The mind can do this. But 
there is another power within us which does not 
thus take hold and cannot thus let go that 
' greater power which grasps the reins of our sym 
pathies, emotions, affection, attachments. Man, 
because he is unable to name this power which 
so rules him, poorly calls it the heart. The 
heart does not take hold as the hand takes hold, 
as the mind takes hold ; it cannot let go as the 
hand lets go, as the mind lets go. The heart 
takes hold as the flesh of one part of the hand 
seizes the flesh of the other part of the hand. 
And from what it has once grown to, the heart, if 
it must be separated, has to be torn. It is for 
the heart to have its fibres rent, to be wounded 
and to bleed, to suffer piteously and to be healed 
slowly if it is to be healed ever. The commonest 
tragedy of our everyday lives is the clinging of 
the heart to those whom the mind, long years 
before, may have rejected and condemned. 



88 The Heroine in Bronze 

She, as an act of her judgment, had discarded 
me in a moment's brevity. But she had still 
to take leave of me in the name of those other 
things that were not thus to be dismissed. And 
that was why, perhaps, in rising she did not at 
once return to the house. In her decision she 
had already returned to the house, but her heart 
lingered in the garden. 

And now as she started, with me walking 
beside her in silence, there came out what was 
so fine in her nature, so inbred, so strong. Her 
excitement and emotion increased every in 
stant ; and against these she had to draw more 
and more upon her self-control : there must be 
no disorder about anything so grave and sad 
as this no ungentleness no outbreak 
no disturbance of the right values of herself. 
Out of this struggle to come victorious, she 
had to gain time; and to gain time she began 
to break off a flower here and there along the 
garden ramble and to employ her words on 
these. 

"This is a nosegay to me from the garden 
for the steamer," she said tremblingly. Thus 



The Parting 89 

she plucked her flowers, and thus we passed 
along, I awkward and wretched and angry and 
wronged beyond endurance. She spoke trifles 
about this flower and that flower ; I replied with 
trifles. She laughed at nothing, I laughed at 
nothing. She sought calmness, I sought calm 
ness. I had offered her my best, and she had 
made the worst of it ; and as we faced our trag 
edy, we laughed and spoke of blossoms broken 
from the bushes. 

We reached the end of the ramble, and there 
before us was the iron seat. Once in the case 
of another man's misfortune I had amused my 
self by giving it a name. I had chosen to think 
that there she discarded her not quite worthy 
suitors. Now I confronted it; now it was my 
turn. 

She hesitated, standing beside a shrub and 
nervously twisting a spray of it for a bit of 
green ; not looking at me in the meantime ; un 
til with a voice which could not control itself 
she broke through all reserve with one warning 
and commanding question : 

"Are you going to write that story?" 



go The Heroine in Bronze 

She was giving me a last chance. I had clearly 
seen how intense was her hostility, how surely 
it would bring the end of everything between 
us. Therefore my better judgment might have 
come to my rescue ; and with better judgment 
a change of purpose. She afforded me this 
opportunity but the question had cost her a 
great effort. 

With all the deference I could express, with all 
regret, I replied : 

"I am going to write the story." 

She twisted off the tough stem and turned 
to the seat, and there, seating herself at one 
end, she scattered her flowers in her lap and 
began to put them together. 

Before I attempt to set down here the rest of 
our conversation, it should be borne in mind that 
this is done only as memory brings back the 
words, and memory in such a case is a poor his 
torian. We were both deeply moved ; we were 
greatly excited : within an hour I could not have 
recalled our exact words. Instead of an hour, 
years have passed since then. Great changes 



The Parting 91 

have taken place in life. Other feelings have 
replaced those of that morning ; quietude has 
settled on that scene : and a light falls on it 
now that did not rest there then. 

Our words were quick, living words, torn from 
us, not well ordered and well wrought together, 
little by little, like the links of a finished chain 
which has grown cold. Doubtless not one 
thing about her belonging to those years could 
I now set down as it actually was : I know the 
truth, but I cannot recall the little things that 
made up the truth. So that when I attempt to 
write down what she said, you must believe 
that time and memory and emotion have all 
been at work, covering her actual words as with . 
mosses, shedding on them softened shadows 
and lights, and throwing around them that 
tender veil of atmosphere which is distance. 

As for myself, as for what I said to her, short 
shrift will be made of that. 

She had taken her seat then, and having scat 
tered her flowers in her lap, sought for one with 
which to start her nosegay. And keeping her 



92 The Heroine in Bronze 

eyes always on her work she inquired with the 
courtesy of a stranger to another stranger : 
"Will you go home this summer?" 
I, watching the movements of her ringers 
and the shifting shadows on her face, made my 
quiet reply : 

"I expect to stay in New York." 
"But if you should go home, you might not 
return?" 

"If I went, I would return." 
"You expect to live on in New York, then?" 
"I expect to live on in New York." 
She dropped the flowers she had started with 
and began over again the making of the nose 
gay. 

"A summer brings so many changes. People 
go away, leaving people; when they return, 
everything has changed for them all. They 
may still be near, but they do not meet any 
more : the changes of a summer that come to 
us!" 

"It is an old saying, it is an old truth." 
"New York is so vast a place. Even if peo 
ple do not go away, they are thrown together 



The Parting 93 

for a while, and then they are thrown apart. 
Acquaintanceships begin in New York we do 
not quite know how ; and they come to an end, 
we do not quite know how." 

I made no comment. 

"And then the United States is so vast. 
Strangers who come to New York from distant 
parts of the country to live I am afraid that 
we who have always lived here never quite get 
over thinking of them as strangers. So 
often they do not look at life as we look at life. 
They do things that we may not do. As we 
may do things that they do not do. There are 
differences. For a while we get along together, 
then after a while we do not get along any more. 
We do not understand just how. The differ 
ences have come up meantime; I suppose that 
is the reason. And that means that we were 
never together from the first." 

"Not every stranger who comes to New York 
from a distance feels that way. There is not 
a different New York nature, but the same 
human nature." 

After a longer search among her flowers for 



94 The Heroine in Bronze 

the right one which seemed always harder to 
find now as the bouquet approached completion, 
she went on with her own thought, not replying 
to my thought : 

"Perhaps that was the reason my acquaint 
ance with you from the first was so different. It 
was something apart because you were apart; 
you were not like New York people ; not quite 
like any one I had known " 

Then something happened which lingers most 
vividly in my memory : it will be the last thing in 
life, I know, that I shall forget : 

She dropped her nosegay in her lap, holding it 
with both hands ; and in entire forgetfulness of 
it she sat looking across her garden looking 
into distance with eyes of mystical sincerity. 
And after a little she began to speak, less to me 
than as if reckoning up life with herself : 

"All my life one thing has haunted me: on 
the horizon of my thought at a dim distance 
there has always been a kind of beautiful sacred 
country : a land I have often looked to when . I 
did not wish to see anything else. I suppose it 
began to be built up in me when a child. My 



The Parting 95 

mother was from the country and always pined 
for the country and liked country life and coun 
try people and country ways. Perhaps it was 
her talks that first built up in me the visions of 
an ideal land my country. I cannot quite de 
scribe what it was. Except that I believed in it. 
The right things were there, the true things, and 
things most dear. As I grew to girlhood, I 
began to think that out of it sometime some one 
would come to me. When I met you, I do not 
know why, but you came from your distant 
country and began to tell -me how beautiful it 
was ; and I, looking within myself, saw my 
land. My land was like your land ; and in 
coming to me out of yours, you seemed to come 
to me out of mine." 

She took up her flowers again and went on 
arranging them : 

"I suppose it was a girl's dream. I walked 
too far and too fast toward my dream." 

"I not far enough toward mine." 

She put the last flower into her nosegay and 
turned it round and round, looking at it in 
silence ; then in silence she touched it to her 



96 The Heroine in Bronze 

eyes, one after the other, as mute balm for 
their threatened pain. 

Until with one ungovernable impulse she broke 
through restraint and asked with cruel stern 
ness : 

"How did you ever happen to come to New 
York in the first place?" 

"I wanted to do great things. I meant to do 
great things. And I mean to do them." 

"You mean your work ? " 

"I mean my work." 

We had come back to the subject that divided 
us: as though the mention of it dealt her a 
second indignity, she rose and started toward 
the house. 

And thus it was all over between us. Perhaps 
it is a woman's nature to pour out some little 
tenderness on what it is sending away. What 
matters it, since she has saved herself, if she 
threw her charity to the discarded. As we 
walked along she said: 

"I hope you will be happy." 

"I intend to be happy," I quickly retorted, 
but with no faith in my words. 



The Parting 97 

She glanced surprisedly at me as though my 
boast had done her a wrong. A moment later 
what seemed a difficult concession was wrung 
from her : 

" Almost you persuade one to believe in you 
as you believe in yourself." 

I answered in wrath : 

"I do not care for people who almost do things ; 
for people who almost love or almost hate ; for 
people who almost succeed or almost fail; for 
people who almost believe or do not believe." 

She drew herself up : 

"A woman can feel that way about a man. I 
feel that way. I could not marry a man who was 
almost something: almost a lawyer, almost a 
soldier, almost a painter, almost a writer." 

"You are right." 

We were near the house. She spoke with a 
kinder note the next time. It was more of her 
charity : 

"If a girl loved you, love would be everything 
to her. She would throw everything else away 
her judgment, cautions, reasons. Some day 
you may find a girl who would give her life for 



98 The Heroine in Bronze 

a summer with you away from the world : only 
herself and yourself in some spot. Sometime a 
girl may love you well enough to do that." 

"I hope so." 

Again she glanced at me as though my words 
had hurt her. 

We went up the steps of the veranda, and she 
turned toward the garden. As her glance rested 
on the marble seat under the ivy, she passed one 
hand quickly across her eyes as if to brush away 
the mournful sight of it. 

In the hall some of the trunks had been brought 
down. She stopped at them. In each of us 
there must have been at the same moment that 
vague swell of uneasiness which fills those who 
are about to separate at the sea. The misunder 
standings of life ! The thoughtless, rash, cruel 
words may be the last ! She stood looking down 
at the trunks and she left her flowers on one with 
some thought perhaps of coming back there 
when I was gone. 

We reached the front door, and I held out my 
hand : 

"Good-by!" 



The Parting 99 

She clasped her hands behind her head and 
pressed her head back against them. Then she 
turned her face sidewise as on a pillow : 

"Good-byl" 

As I went down the steps blindly, I turned. 
She had come to the door and was standing in 
the doorway with her hands still clasped behind 
her head, and she was pressing her head back 
against them in bitter effort. With the sad blue 
of the sea in her eyes she asked : 

"If anything really were to happen, would 
you would you understand?" 

Her eyes suddenly closed, and tears rushed out 
and hung on the lashes. 

I sprang back to her. 

"No, no, no!" she murmured to herself, 
stepping back and closing the door quickly. 



SECOND PART 
THE WAITING 




CHAPTER I 

HUS we parted : she to her sum 
mer amid the green valleys, around 
the blue lakes, beneath the snow- 
peaks of the Alps ; I to my summer 
in a pygmy apartment with an out 
look on tin roofs and kitchen chimneys, and 
around the horizon as 'my mountains against 
the sky-line the far-separated towers of the 
city, its torrid pinnacles of steel and stone. She 
to leisure and pleasure and to her wooing by my 
rivals; I to work and loneliness, waiting and 
doubt. She with a nature torn between casting 
me off and drawing me nearer ; I with a nature 
welded into one sorer want of her and into the 
will to win her yet. 

When she closed the door against me and 
against the temptation of her heart to yield, I 
did not return to my apartment. And that day 
I did not work. The stillness, the concentration, 

of work was impossible; the mere thought of 
103 



104 The Heroine in Bronze 

confinement within the paltry walls, which were 
the material measure of my importance in the 
world, brought rebellion to both mind and body. 
I was swept on toward the lives of men, the storm 
within me moving toward the storm without 
to the vast mortal plains where the tempests of 
millions are never quieted. All that day I 
wandered over the city, an unobserved specta 
tor in the ancient open-air theatre of the great 
passions. As into many lands I entered; I 
passed as through many races ; traversed many 
an age, met many a story. 

I beheld Abraham as he dwelt troubled of old 
on the Plains of Shinar. I saw Job crouched 
faithful amid the ashes of Uz. In an open square 
I encountered Rebecca with her pitcher; and 
away from me once Ruth went, not walking 
bare-footed amid the cleanness of alien corn, but 
slouching foul-shod amid the squalor of alien 
alleys. I heard Shylock demanding across a 
counter the due and forfeit of his bond. In the 
Italian quarter, behind a scarlet rag which cur 
tained a doorway, I came upon Tarquin leering 
at chaste Virginia. Along the city shores of the 



The Waiting 105 

Greeks, leaning against a door-post of a tenement, 
as once she leaned against the golden splendors of 
her proud father's hall, I discovered Nausicaa; 
and I heard fall from her lips the words which the 
world has never ceased hearing in memory 
stricken Nausicaa who loved and was not loved 
in return: "Farewell, stranger! See that thou 
remember me in thy country on a day." Where 
the Sicilians throng I met young Daphnis, tune- 
fulest of herdsmen, without his crook and pipe 
and goatskin mantle, but not without his thick 
locks and tawny skin and resistless smile, as cen 
turies ago Theocritus found him idling, comely, 
shapely, on the slopes of woody ^Etna home 
of fires and snows. Down at the pier of a Ger 
man steamship company on the seaward edge of 
a waiting crowd I saw Elsa with her rapt gaze 
turned down the bay ; and as the mighty steamer 
approached, I saw a warm Lohengrin just come 
from the valley of the Scheldt yellow-bearded, 
yellow-haired, blue-eyed, arrived never to leave 
her for the whiteness of Montsalvat. Through 
the windows of a French pastry shop I saw 
Pierrot flour-sprinkled ; and darting into the 



io6 The Heroine in Bronze 

shop from a rear room I saw Columbine fly at 
him, take his pasty cheeks between her thumbs 
and forefingers, and administer to his proper 
feature things well understood by them; then 
disappear again into the mysteries of her work 
and her joy. Once I thought I had a glimpse of 
Highland Mary. Once a street Ophelia of some 
unprincely Hamlet passed me with eyes too eager 
for the water's brink. Once I almost brushed 
against rouged Carmen as she wound in and out 
amid bold-eyed men, smoking and drinking under 
an awning on the sidewalk; I caught the fra 
grance of her crimson rose as it drooped over the 
passion-flower of her withered heart. And once, 
near a church, I beheld, moving slowly toward it 
in spiritual revery, saintly Elizabeth going to 
the shrine for Tannhauser whom Venus held fet 
tered to the mountain, while her own prayers for 
him took flight for Heaven. 

As I wandered that summer day these stories 
I saw and many others in imagination and re 
membrance. I matched my own story with many 
of them, understanding it more clearly in their 
distant lights, finding it overcast by their kindred 



The Waiting 107 

shadows. Far back I tracked the drama of the 
heart of men, forever changing, never changed. 

Toward sundown, miles away, as twilight be 
gan to sift down upon the streets and the side 
walks to become thronged with people hurrying 
to many points, I noticed how on every face, in 
whatsoever direction turned, there rested the same 
expression the common human look of going 
home; and suddenly I shared in this universal 
instinct and grew homesick for my shelter. In 
the morning I had rebelled against it; it had 
repelled me, irked me ; now the idea of being in 
it again brought a kind of familiar peace. Other 
wise, too, the tragic mood of the day had ebbed ; 
its pain and sadness had left me ; buoyancy and 
joyfulness had come in as an evening tide from a 
tranquil sea. Soon returning by the quickest 
route I stood at the door of my apartment with 
the key ready to insert in the lock ; and by that 
time I had regained the high spirits which are 
the rock of my birthright. 

Please, if you care to enter my legal domicile 
with me, be in high spirits yourself. Nothing de 
spondent ever gets across my threshold ; though 



io8 The Heroine in Bronze 

it may be that I shall not escape the lot of man 
and in years to come open a Doorway to Sorrows ; 
there to sit, long looking out upon the Fields of 
Sadness. Enter cheerfully, and do not let your 
cheerfulness be made to run away at the sight of 
cheerless things, of poor mean worthless things. 
For what you shall see will be most unlike all 
that you have by this time associated with her 
luxury. No rose-garden nor marble seat nor 
inestimable grass nor verandas and salons for 
me; but res augusta domi which is very good 
Latin for the American day of small things. 

And that small day was my meridian day : I 
dwelt in the cloudless noontide splendor of want. 

With the key in the lock I stooped to pick up 
the evening newspaper the six cents a week 
chronicle of the world ; and I drew from under the 
door-sill a few letters, the corners of which pro 
truded. Business letters were always my first 
concern, though there was not a business for any 
human being to write to me about. Entering, I 
threw up the window-sashes to replace with 
fresh air the stale heated atmosphere which had 
been in the rooms since morning, when the 



The Waiting 109 

chambermaid had fastened the foul air carefully 
in. One of my much-perforated, sand-colored 
window-shades had a worn-out catch ; and a care 
less touch set it off like a fly-wheel out of gear. 
This was one of the days when the shade wound 
itself at the top of the window, tangling with it 
the end of the cord; I must therefore mount a 
chair and draw it down into place. When I 
have become an author great and gray, I shall, 
like Goethe and Jean Jaques, write my autobiog 
raphy and trace for the good of my lesser fellow- 
men the road of my exceptional career. Among 
the little things that had the honor to train me, 
some space shall be devoted to this window- 
shade ; I duly setting it down that an impatient 
youth was by it disciplined to patience, or to 
impatience, it is yet uncertain which. 

Having descended from the chair, I sat down 
in it and looked over my letters. Always in 
those lean years I hoped that one might be from 
my publisher with some kind of miraculous good 
tidings. It is incomprehensible to me still 
why my self-importance was always increased 
even by a letter from him of no consequence 



no The Heroine in Bronze 

whatsoever. I think at that stage of my career 
I should have been puffed up by his condescen 
sion if he had notified me by post that he ex 
pected me to starve and would help. To-day 
there was no letter from him. Those in my hand 
represented New York romances. 

In such typical apartment buildings the poorer 
tenants are intermingled with people of wealth 
and social and professional awfulness ; but there 
is no partiality in the attentions which all receive 
from advertisers of their wares. Thus it came 
about that I, of no consequence to any one in a 
commercial way, was enabled vicariously to 
enter into the sensations of the rich and power 
ful. A famished spider, I was permitted to sit 
at the centre of a golden web ; and hundreds of 
firms in the course of a season agitated the web 
and warned me to run out and seize my easy prey 
on my own terms. 

That day five letters were dropped into the 
glittering net. A real estate agent, having com 
plimented me upon being a gentleman of such 
luxurious tastes that I could not possibly do 
without a residence in both town and country, 



The Waiting in 

felt sure that I should like to purchase on allur 
ing terms a fine old estate on Long Island. I con 
curred in this sentiment of the agent. A wine 
merchant begged the privilege of reminding me 
that I had not yet enjoyed at my dinner table 
some of his finest grades of wines; otherwise I 
would have opened an account with him which 
he now insisted that I do ; and on the list of his 
vintages he had made his personal little pencil 
mark opposite Mouton Rothschild. I upheld this 
contention of the wine dealer. And even a pencil 
mark which connected me with anything called 
Rothschild was a stimulant. Even though it 
were but a wine called mutton. Even had it 
been mutton called wine. A third letter was 
from a general agency which stated that it was 
prepared to do everything. But I thought that 
an agency prepared to do everything was pre 
pared to do too much. A fourth letter was 
addressed to my wife. It conveyed to her the 
intelligence that her name had been placed on a 
favored list of charge-persons; and that upon 
" visiting the emporium" she would merely be 
put to the trouble of mentioning her name to the 



ii2 The Heroine in Bronze 

saleslady and of buying whatever she liked. I 
bowed myself to the dust before this distinction 
accorded my spouse. Still it was rather disquiet 
ing to have even a manufactured wife thus 
publicly designated as a charge-person ; it almost 
suggested that a real wife might become a 
charge. The last letter was signed with the 
formidable name of Lucile. The writer stated 
that having held various positions of a secre 
tarial character, she had now opened an office of 
her own and was prepared to put the manuscript 
of inexperienced young authors into shape to 
secure their acceptance from the leading pub 
lishers at the highest rates of royalty : she gave 
these manuscripts, she announced, an unpreju 
diced reading and supplied ideas to strengthen 
and embellish. I acknowledged with humble 
ness the amazing wisdom and goodness of 
Lucile. 

These gallantries sometimes led me to wonder 
what would have become of the remnant of 
Don Quixote's brain, had he armed himself and 
ridden forth toward the chivalries of New York 
trade. What might have been the fate of a 



The Waiting 113 

tradesman now and then as the Don ran him 
through with the spear that knew no shams ? 

May I now proceed to say that I leased what 
is called a bachelor apartment, though why 
bachelor is not quite clear. On what ground 
should a tenant be required to pay for -an ob 
jectionable epithet affixed to his abode? If 
his legal domicile must be denned with reference 
to the nuptial bond, why not unmarried apart 
ment? Better unmarried than bachelor even 
for an apartment. A bachelor is a mere act 
of Providence; being unmarried is a state of 
grace. 

My apartment was at the rear of a magnificent 
structure, all the family apartments of which 
were at the front ; so that the aggregation could 
have been regarded as the house of lords and 
the house of commons : the lords to the front 
and the commons to the rear. I was then a 
very junior member of the house of commons. 
My apartment consisted of a front door, a 
hallway, a cranny dubbed kitchenette, an 
inquisitorial bath, and two rooms, in one of 
which I was expected to sleep and in the other 



ii4 The Heroine in Bronze 

not to sleep. If I had taken a position midway 
of my hall, extended my right arm toward the 
front door, my left arm toward the bath, my 
right leg toward the room in which I remained 
conscious, and my left leg toward the room in 
which I remained unconscious, I might accu 
rately have been described as occupying my 
apartment. The whole space had the size of 
one room in the old Southern farm-house which 
was my birthplace. As a child, I had been 
accustomed to partition that: in one corner 
was a stable, in another a garden, in a third 
a battle-field, and in the fourth a creek, where 
I sat on the foot of the bed and fished. 

I now turned on the water for my bath. It 
trickled through the pipes slowly and was too 
warm to refresh; so that in the kitchenette I 
chipped off a piece of ice from my daily costly 
lump and dropped it in. One extravagance I 
would not deny myself to bathe in my own 
melted ice. No torture of thirst within could 
deter me from this cutaneous magnificence out 
side. While the tub filled, I slipped off the 
clothes of the day and got into my bathrobe 



The Waiting 115 

and laid out fresh linen on my bed. Then I 
threw myself into an easy- chair easy as to 
the manufacturer's model, but uneasy as to giv 
ing way under the sitter's weight and with 
my eyes shut I listened to that satirical' trickle 
from the watershed of the Adirondacks. It was 
my nearest approach to the forest melody of 
swift water, to some cold stream surrounded by 
moisture and greenness over which ferns leaned, 
and near which a wood-thrush breathed softly 
on his wood- viol. 

I had my bath and put on my fresh clothes, 
and then laid out the things for my dinner ; for 
I was my own butler and set my own dinner 
table. This was a card- table covered with 
green baize and upheld by four folding legs. In 
the case of any four things in this world, one 
of tuem would be somehow wrong; and one of 
my four folding legs had a permanent fold 
the growing incurable ailment of a leg. The 
baize was not all greenness either, as of yore, but 
had its yellows and browns of upsets and down 
falls. 

The business of setting my table brings into 



n6 The Heroine in Bronze 

notice the richest furnishings of my establish 
ment. This was the family plate, I being the 
family ; and you must know about my dishes. 
Though a book lover, I collect no costly books 
nor ever shall, whatever wealth the future may 
have in store. Books to me are souls. Souls 
in this world must have bodies, and books must 
be bound. But my affection for a human soul 
goes out most freely to it when it is most simply 
dressed. Can any one love a monarch glitter 
ing on his throne ? Let a king be uniformed as 
a common soldier ; and if he is ever to win the 
love of human hearts, he will win it then as 
fighting man and human equal. So a great 
book to me is no longer approachable, lovable, 
when swaddled in another man's tinsel. Why 
should a pilgrim, reverently on his way toward 
the soul of a book, be bidden to stop and worship 
its coat and pantaloons, designed by a nobody ? 
Why set such antiquarian store on the vanities 
of any book-tailor? What was Aldus but a 
book-tailor ? What was Elzevir but a costumer, 
to be ranked no higher than other designers 
of fashion plates? Who wants his Socrates 



The Waiting 117 

tricked out like an actor strutting the stage or 
incrusted like an archbishop overlording it at 
the altar? Who cares to have his light of the 
Gospels illuminated by dark fingers? Let 
Horace be garbed in his poems for all time as 
what he was on his Sabine farm in his own day 
a soul of unaffected gentlemanliness and fas 
tidious simplicity. 

But glass and china ! Here is no question of 
souls, but of bodies only. Your finest piece of 
glass has no spirit ; your richest dish lies below 
the level of emotion; and so you may starve 
even your own spirit to buy these objects of 
mere fragile bodily beauty. That is why I 
often went without a meal for the sake of buy 
ing a dish. 

This buying habit had begun very naturally. 
I had arrived in New York with one treasure, 
a massive old silver tankard which was all that 
fell to me out of the wreck of family fortunes. 
That tankard once symbolized the manners 
and customs of whole people and period, it 
being the huge hearty cup which was freshly 
filled and offered first to the arrived guest and 



n8 The Heroine in Bronze 

was then passed from lip to lip among the 
members of the household in which his life, 
his comfort, his character had become sacred. 

Around this cup of good-will and good cheer 
and of simpler faith in simpler men I had built 
my scant collection. In one of the famous es 
tablishments on Fifth Avenue, on the second 
floor, I found a rack on which were exposed for 
sale odd pieces, remnants from breakage of 
glass and china. And here, waiting for me, I 
discovered my morning coffee cup deep, 
man-satisfying, hero-nurturing. If Wotan had 
drunk coffee instead of mead, this should have 
been his cup. Such curvature of the rim there 
was to fit a big eager immortal mouth ; such a 
true Walhalla handle through which to push 
an immortal forefinger until it met an immortal 
thumb. This cup that same day attached to 
its service a well-set-up cream-pitcher an elf 
of a pitcher cut of Nibelung a gold-digging 
imp who must henceforth bring to me on his 
back every morning a jug of golden cream. 

I pass over luncheon with the mere mention 
of one magnificent plate (the only one I had), no 



The Waiting 119 

doubt patterned and glazed for an English duke : 
it being of the finest English china and designed 
to hold the juiciest of Southdown chops: the 
duke got the chops, but I got the china. 

As to dinner I had a truly royal plate for game. 
In the bottom was painted a scene of the autumn 
fields a patch of brown grass, and half -hidden 
in the grass a quail. I might explain that the 
painted quail was the only game that ever ap 
peared in the bottom of my plate. I had estab 
lished in the basement ten floors down a pre 
carious cooking arrangement with the janitor; 
and many fuliginous things rose to me from the 
smoky pit. 

But I had always shrunk from the spectacle 
of blithe Bob White's arriving at my window 
lattice by means of so solemn and stately a 
catafalque. Instead of devouring him, I fel-t 
that I would have been converted into a 
mourner at his obsequies. As for other game, 
any bird smaller than a quail I was too large 
to eat ; and any bird larger than a quail I was 
too small to buy. At my present rate of gun 
ning I had made a calculation that I might, as 



I2O The Heroine in Bronze 

a literary marksman, begin to bring down grouse 
at forty-five and possibly report turkey at sixty 
years of age. 

For after-dinner hours I had two German 
drinking-cups, each of which represented a gold 
stag in the act of executing a high jump under 
the boughs of a golden pine tree in a golden 
German forest. It was a very short jump, but 
it was all gold while it lasted. 

For midnight my collection embraced some 
dishes and mugs, very jolly, very cheap, for 
a rarebit with friends. There was no beauty 
here, but something better than beauty ugli 
ness; to remind all guests that beauty in glass 
and china, as beauty in life, can only go so far : 
that it never reaches any final goal. Always 
there is a station on every road where beauty 
comes to the end of its journey : beyond it 
begins a better world, where good-looking and 
bad-looking are of no consequence in the pres 
ence of the great ultimate realities kindness, 
loyalty, good humor, good sense, and good 
principles. 

One last piece prized next to the silver 



The Waiting 121 

tankard heirloom. It, too, was a plate and 
here beauty came back again. A scene was 
painted in the bottom of the plate, a summer day 
with a soft light resting on high grassy mead 
ows. Beyond the meadows ravines sank darkly 
into abysses. Beyond the ravines blue, misty 
mountains soared upward to snow-peaks lost 
in the clouds. In the foreground of the scene 
a brook ; and sitting on the grass with her eyes 
on the brook a maid : sweet breathed, I know, 
sweet faced, sweet hearted. She was bare 
headed, bare-necked, and her heavy braids fell 
down her back. On her bare feet, which were 
stretched out straight before her on the grass, 
were peasant shoes ; her hands dropped for 
gotten in her lap; her bodice was blue like a 
blue morning-glory and her skirt of soft rose- 
color like her cheeks. She sat there, tender and 
alone in her high Alpine valley. Was she wait 
ing for her lover waiting to answer him that 
day? Or had he just left her, had she already 
answered? And as she now watched the swift 
stream rushing down toward her from the 
glaciers above, was she thinking that h^r girl- 



122 The Heroine in Bronze 

hood would go by yet more swift ? That plate 
I never put to base uses ; it was more than china. 

When I had set my table, I took up the paper 
and began to look for reviews of books and notes 
about authors. Through those dry pastures I 
browsed with a hunger that was beyond all pang 
of flesh the fierce hunger for fame. Then 
came an interruption. It was occasioned by the 
back-elevator boy with my usual evening loaf : 
the long brown loaf of bread in the short brown 
paper bag. He always held the loaf by the 
bread-end and handed me the bag-end. That 
was the end I ate, the pure-food end ; and often 
I wished that he might have had less politeness, 
that I might have had more loaf. 

A few minutes later I heard sounds approach 
ing from the cooking pit. They suggested that a 
rampant animal was steadily on his way to me, 
and that steel and concrete could not check the 
fury of his advance. The noises grew louder 
until they reached the window of my kitchenette ; 
there was a violent struggle to enter, and then a 
cessation of effort : the danger had arrived, but 



The Waiting 123 

could not get in: may it be so with all my 
dangers ! 

It was the dumb-waiter with my dinner. And 
hail here to the memory of that dumb-waiter, 
the only perfect one ! He came when he was 
summoned; he went when he was dismissed; 
he did not listen while he waited; he had no 
grasping but ungrateful palm; he spoke no 
language impolite; he belonged to no union; 
he could not strike ; and he was a good smoker. 
Hail to him ! 

Dumb as he was he contrived to bring me a 
dinner that surpassed him in dumbness. The 
individual dish-covers, as I lifted them off, re 
vealed substances which wore no dietary ex 
pression. And they arrived at the appropriate 
hour, inasmuch as, twilight is held to be the 
mildest hour ,of the day. My meal shared the 
placidity of the dusk : it was the hushed vespers 
of the appetite. 

Ravenous as always, I ate and craved more. 
Afterwards, placing the empty dishes in the 
dumb waiter, I jerked the rope for it to descend ; 
and then in glorious freedom of mind and body 



124 The Heroine in Bronze 

I lighted my pipe and drew my easiest chair to 
the windows. 

The true luxury, richness, splendor of my 
apartment, far beyond my family plate, con 
sisted in views from windows. One, quite 
small, opened on a street and disclosed a church 
opposite. The spire was on a level with my 
eyes. There was a little tower where the church 
bell hung and where a small ex-congregation of 
pigeons met, my prayerless, sermonless pigeons. 
How joyously they scattered when the bell 
pealed for prayers ! And how they disappeared 
entirely at the call to the sermon 1 

But my best windows opened to southwest. 
There the fresh breezes of summer entered. 
From there I could look across the city into the 
twilight sky and greet the Evening Star and 
watch the new moon come out and go down 
behind the city's jagged sky-line. That sky 
line sometimes made me think of it as the Wolf of 
the World lying on his back with his mouth open 
and his fangs showing. A long path of silvery 
haze far below showed me where Broadway ran 
through its demoniac fires; and farther south- 



The Waiting 125 

ward high up in the air as though it belonged 
neither to earth nor heaven was the great 
clock towards which millions turned their eyes : 
countenance of their pleasures, dial of their 
sorrows, slipping chain of their mortality. 

Many a time, sitting at one of these windows 
with the evening light in the sky, I would 
remember how in years gone, when I was a 
boy, it fell on the farm ; this same evening light 
fell on the darkening fields and woods; on 
members of the family as they came in one by 
one for the night. Such memories ! That was 
always the hour when I grew lonesomest; and 
then it was that I thought most solemnly of 
how strangely it had come about that I, instead 
of being on the farm still to move round and 
round its small boundaries all my years and 
measure my length at last there with my fore 
fathers of the soil how strangely it had come 
about that I should be at a window in New York, 
remembering it as a place not meant for me : my 
purpose being set to climb those human heights 
which long had beckoned to me in the distance, 
and ever as I travelled toward them beckoned as 
far off still. 



126 The Heroine in Bronze 

I smoked that night until it grew night, and 
around the horizon a million lights of the city 
were set to twinkle. I had no thought of how 
the light of the evening sky fell on the green 
land, but on the gray stretches of the sea and on 
an ocean steamer rushing away through the 
waves. In the wake of that steamer my spirit 
followed like a gull, asking for but a crumb on 
the waters. I pictured with agony details : the 
gorgeous dining-saloon ; the gay diners; their 
tables loaded with flowers of last remembrance 
from the land : the dimly lighted decks ; the 
long row of steamer chairs, each with its shawl, 
and on the shawl some book perhaps the 
work of some happy, prosperous author him 
self on board. 

This, then, was the downfall of the day, its 
overthrow, its demolition. At sunrise I had 
said that a man's fairer deed finds a fairer day. 
It had not turned out thus for me : the fair 
day had been most unfair. Instead of bringing 
my betrothal it had brought alienation; for 
closer companionship with her it had given 
absence ; her faith in me had been turned into 



The Waiting 127 

doubt ; I had offered her my best and she had 
made it the worst ; all that at daybreak I had, 
by night I had lost. 

One thing only I had gained : in the wrench 
of parting, in the grief of casting me off, some 
kind of confession had been torn from her : 
she loved me of that I felt sure now she 
had loved me ! 

I got up at last and went to my writing-desk 
and kindled my light, and for a while sat looking 
at the top of that poor bare table. A soldier 
standing at its edge might thus have looked 
over his battle-field of the morrow: on it he 
must either go down to defeat or the forces 
opposed to him go down to theirs. On that 
desk, now more than ever, it was for me to win 
her. 

I surveyed it as never before it and the 
little things that hung about it as its whole 
equipment : these were five. Tacked to the 
wall with an iron tack was a five-cent calendar : 
that stood for Time. Hanging beside this on 
an iron nail was a small stone face of a heathen 



128 The Heroine in Bronze 

god with bandaged eyes: he stood for the 
sightless, pitiless Power of the Eternal in the 
universe. Next hung a photograph of Balzac 
a monstrous extravagance to my pocket 
Louis Boulanger's portrait of him in his snow- 
white working robe : that stood for Toil and 
Poverty and Genius. Near by lay a penholder 
which some friends had brought me one summer 
from England, made of sweet stout cedar : that 
stood for the land of English classics, the home 
of the Anglo-Saxon masterpiece. 

These, then, were my standards, my colors, 

set up about my battle-fields; these the aged 

Sentinels holding around me their grim Bivouac : 

Time Destiny Toil and Poverty Genius 

-Art! 

There was one object more: out in front of the 
others, standing solitary on a projection of my 
desk, as on some little promontory beside that 
unknown troubled sea, was a small bronze 
figure of a girl. Her figure was bent slightly 
forward so that her eyes, being downcast, rested 
on my writing-paper. High above her head in 
one hand she held a lamp. The rays of it also 



The Waiting 129 

shone full on the spot where her eyes rested 
on my paper. 

She stood for Love bearing a Light. 

This statuette had come into my possession 
that spring. I eked out the means to livelihood 
by taking private pupils; and one day I had 
gone to two of them for lessons. They were 
brothers from my country who had come to New 
York to make their way; and they had night 
positions at some kind of work and slept the 
first half of the day and studied the other half. 
They had regarded me with special favor as 
their tutor, inasmuch as they were not always 
supplied with funds ; and I, not being supplied 
either, but being from their part of the world, 
could patriotically afford to wait. Patriotically 
or not, I often waited. 

That day they were prepared to give me my 
due, and rich with earnings in my pocket I set 
out on my return. My course lay through a 
residential quarter of the city where, in the 
northward sweep of trade, homes are giving 
way to shops ; and near the middle of the block 
I saw, waving far out across the sidewalk, the 



130 The Heroine in Bronze 

New York tricolor of financial ruin the red 
and white and black flag of the auctioneer. 
It announced a furniture sale in a dismantled 
house where perhaps a family had managed to 
hold together through one last winter then 
could hold together no longer. 

Now, ordinarily the only justification of my 
presence in an auction room would have been 
to put myself up to the highest bidder in order 
that I might reap the benefit at once of what 
soever small sum I might bring. But that day, 
feeling the power and spirit of adventure which 
comes from earnings in one's pocket, I followed 
the flag and entered. 

At one end of the suite of parlors, on a plat 
form, sat the auctioneer, and below him the apa 
thetic and discouraging bidders. As I entered he 
interrupted himself to announce that if any one 
wished to bid on any object, it would be put up 
at once. For a while I loitered to study the 
human nature of the scene and then turned to 
walk out ; but at the front door the attendant, 
looking a little mortified, offered a final induce 
ment : there were things upstairs. Loath to 



The Waiting 131 

hurt any man's feelings by refusing even to look 
at furniture which I could not buy, upstairs 
I went; and there in a rear room, under thick 
dust, abandoned to its fate, I found this statuette 
of the finest French bronze. 

Her lamp was empty that day, but with up- 
stretched arm she still held it high. Her eyes 
looked out upon defeat, but their expression 
remained pledged to victory. Old ties had come 
to an end there, humanity itself had failed; 
but she lived on fresh, charming, irresistible, 
victorious, supreme an immortal ideal amid 
a mortal ruin. 

She still waited there to serve, but with none 
to require her service. The sight touched me. 
I thought of her as a young traveller of old, 
wandering into some slave market, might have 
found a beautiful young slave whom misfortune 
had bereft of her master and whom the hardened 
buyers, sated with slaves of their own, did not 
care to purchase. 

The attendant, quick to read my face, asked 
whether I should like to have the piece put up 
at once. I said I should, and downstairs we 



132 The Heroine in Bronze 

went with it. There it made no appeal to any 
one else and passed into my possession; and 
that night it found its place on my desk as my 
lamp. At once I, amid the battling realities of 
daily life, forgot it, forgot even the mood which 
had led me to buy. 

But we may dwell amid our lifeless surround 
ings indefinitely, without realizing all that they 
can mean to us : this depends upon changes in 
ourselves. Long we dwell even with the living, 
never knowing what they mean : only after we 
need them will we understand them : when we 
need to the uttermost, they will be understood 
to their uttermost. This experience now befell 
me. I sat there that evening, as I have said, 
taking account as never before of my desk and 
the poor appointments : on the eve of a greater 
conflict than I had ever waged. And that day 
there had come into my life a new loneliness: 
all that living woman could mean to me had 
gone away in anger and distrust of me. 
Now as I struck a match and kindled the lamp, 
a new significance flashed upon me from that 
guardian torch. 



The Waiting 133 

I was like the prisoner who, on the first day 
of walking through the few rays of sunlight his 
prison afforded, saw springing up through the 
bricks a flower: which thenceforth took root 
in his soul, nourishing the soul it was rooted in. 
I was like another prisoner who, as his hand one 
day groped along the dark wall of his cell found 
there what he had never found before 
a crucifix left by some one who had poured faith 
out over it until prayer ceased. 

I now sat with my heart leaping up into that 
flame above my desk. It was as if on the day 
she went away changed toward me there had 
come in her place an image that stood for what 
she had been of old and that was change 
less. Here before my eyes was her grace, 
her slenderness ; the bared neck, the half- 
bared arm; the masses of hair gleaming with 
the dawn; the gayety, the sweetness, the 
purity. 

I sat there looking at it. It brought into my 
love of her a new element that emotion which 
haunts those lonely shores where worship is 
born and must ever dwell. With this image of 



134 The Heroine in Bronze 

her before me I almost came face to face with 
the tenderness, the splendor, of Religion. 

She stood there waiting alive, conscious, 
impatient. Her eyes rested on my writing 
paper; there she cast the rays of her light 
waiting. 

I stretched out my hand for the pen and began 
the story. 




CHAPTER II 

very opening of the story swept 
away all ground for the distress 
which she had caused herself and 
had caused me through belief that 
I had meant to make use of her 
life as material for my fiction ; that I, as the 
gay young Judas of American Novelists, meant 
to sell her to the world in the market-place of 
literature for so many pieces of silver per 
haps for very few. 

The scene of the story did not lie in the 
North, but in the South, in my own country 
where she had never been. The period of the 
story did not fall within her own lifetime, but 
lay three generations back, before even her 
father and mother had been born. She might 
have as reasonably been offended with Chateau 
briand for writing Paul and Virginia; as well 
have taken alarm lest living Americans should 

I3S 



136 The Heroine in Bronze 

mistakenly identify her as Scheherazade in The 
Arabian Nights. 

Certainly she could not have felt aggrieved 
that I should have had my own grandmother. 
I had to have a grandmother. Nor could she 
have been so ungenerous as to object to my 
grandmother's having gone to my grandmother's 
own school. Yet it was solely to my grand 
mother and to her having been educated of 
course, very badly educated that I owed the 
origin of my romance. In this wise : 

Among my earliest recollections was that of 
travelling from country to town and home again 
in the family carriage with a negro driver and 
a negro footman out on the box-seat. I envied 
the footman and ached to push him off his 
cushions : I desired to sit outside beside the 
driver, between the lamps, and occasionally to 
handle the reins ; and especially in wet weather 
to jump over the wheel into the mud to open 
gates. It had not escaped me that the jumping 
into the mud in his best clothes always amused 
the footman, and I did not see why jumping 
into the mud with my best clothes would not 



The Waiting 137 

amuse me; and I wished to be amused. This 
kind of energy being denied me, I was forced to 
ride inside, where my greatest activity consisted 
of trying to grind the wool off a sheepskin rug 
in the bottom of the carriage as I stood at the 
window, questioning my grandmother about 
every object on the roadside that could possibly 
be investigated. The more numerous the ques 
tions, the better pleased my grandmother, whose 
chief interest in life lay in answering all ques 
tions propounded by everybody. At home in 
the family circle if every one grew worn out and 
refused to entertain my grandmother with more 
questions, she would herself begin to propound 
them to the company and continue her enter 
tainment. My mother had too many young 
children to heed their questions. They might 
clamor at her apron strings for hours without 
disturbing her tranquil thoughts; nevertheless 
if any one of us asked a question worth answer 
ing, no doubt she never failed to answer it 
and wisely. 

One day, I being in the carriage with my grand 
mother, as we drew near the little rustic town 



138 The Heroine in Bronze 

which was our great city, and the fine old wood 
lands through which the turnpike ran became 
lawns and residences, I observed at the very 
edge of town that my grandmother leaned for 
ward in her seat and looked out of the window 
on her side of the carriage: she always sat on 
that side. I suddenly remembered that I had 
repeatedly seen her do this before. She bent 
over that day and looked out at a large build 
ing, the largest I had ever beheld. As I now 
think of it, it stood there, a kind of Gothic 
castle with battlemented turrets and diamond- 
paned windows; with ivy clambering over its 
walls, brown as with the mould of centuries; 
with honeysuckle massed about the lower 
windows. The whole place seemed to harbor 
the scholarly seclusion of a dim mediaeval 
cloister. Venerable forest trees were grouped 
about it ; silken bluegrass flowed deep over the 
lawn ; it was a paradise for birds. Noble it 
stood there that day, unlike the ignoble things 
springing up around it ; for the lawn was being 
cut into building lots, and ugly modern houses 
began to vulgarize it on the right and the left. 



The Waiting 139 

Perhaps that was the reason why, as my grand 
mother looked at it that day, a mist of tears 
gathered in her merry old eyes. I followed her 
glance and noted emotion as a child quickly 
does : 

"What is that place, grandmother?" 

"It is a boarding-house. That is where I 
went to school." 

"O grandmother!" I cried, looking up at 
her incredulously, "did you go to school in a 
boarding-house ? " 

"When I went to school there, it was not a 
boarding-house. It was a boarding-school, a 
female seminary. That is where I graduated." 

"O grandmother," I cried, "did you ever 
graduate?" 

Graduation, I thought, was tribulation re 
served for hardened, mischievous boys. Now 
I saw the world was going to turn out to be a 
hard place for everybody, both girls and boys 
being able to scrape through by the hardest. 

"Of course I graduated," replied my grand 
mother, a little indignant even at me. 

"What did you graduate in?" 



140 The Heroine in Bronze 

I had already made up my mind that I would 
graduate in as little as possible; I might tread 
in my grandmother's steps. In the family she 
was reputed to be very saving, and she might 
have been economic about graduating. 

"I graduated in arithmetic just barely. 
And there was a little algebra, but that was 
dreadful they hushed it up about my algebra. 
And in natural philosophy very easily : I 
flew through natural philosophy. And in rheto 
ric, of course. And in penmanship. And in 
French. And in botany. And in painting. 
And in music. And in deportment. And in 
my petticoats !" added my grandmother, laugh 
ing. "I was a highly accomplished young 
lady!" 

"O grandmother !" I cried, "did you gradu 
ate in petticoats ? How funny ! " 

"I graduated in as many as I could put on, 
and in those days we could put on a good many 
when we did our best," said my grandmother, 
brushing tears of merriment out of her eyes. "I 
had on sky-blue kid boots laced up my ankles 
and a dotted Swiss muslin flounced to the waist ; 



The Waiting 141 

and a lace bertha and a hoop-skirt and a broad 
blue sash fastened with a rosette on my left 
shoulder and sweeping across my breast " 

"Didn't it sweep across your back?" 

My grandmother laid her hand on mine to 
suggest no more interruptions : 

"My hair was curled in ringlets with a heated 
poker ; I had artificial pink roses sparkling with 
glass dewdrops pinned behind my ear on one 
side and three bands of pink satin ribbon run 
ning through my hair in front. I carried a 
hemstitched handkerchief and a white ivory 
fan." 

" O grandmother ! How did you look ? " 

" I looked perfectly beautiful ! " said my grand 
mother, triumphantly. "Don't you still see that 
I looked perfectly beautiful ? " 

I studied my grandmother's face carefully. 

"Grandmother," I said, "I do not. Far 
from it!" 

"Well, perhaps there have been some changes," 
said my grandmother, laughing indulgently. 
"And perhaps your taste is not fully formed 
either like the rest of you." My grandmother 



142 The Heroine in Bronze 

had a power of vigorous speech which she handled 
on people with wonderful enjoyment to her 
self. 

"What did you do when you graduated?" 

"I stood by the piano on the chapel stage and 
sang a beautiful song called I'd offer Thee 
This Hand of Mine. Then I read my composi 
tion. Then I received my diploma. And in 
the midst of all these honors I never failed to 
use my handkerchief and my fan," said my 
grandmother, tickled at her own candor. 

"What was the subject of your composi 
tion?" 

I fear there was impoliteness in my voice. 
My own compositions at school were a great 
source of pride to me : I thought them fine. 
And I was not edified now that my grandmother 
had exercised the family gift long before I ap 
peared upon the scene to exercise it myself. 

My grandmother opened her beaded reticule 
and nibbled a nutmeg. To this day I do not 
know which brings up her presence more vividly : 
her own daguerreotype or the scent of ground 
nutmeg. She was immensely entertained: 



The Waiting 143 

"My composition was on the Pleasures of 
Old Age." 

I clapped my hands : 

"Then you were old, weren't you? I knew 
you must have been old ! " 

"When I had finished reading my composi 
tion, a shower of bouquets descended on me. 
One of them was thrown by a young farmer. 
He had thick chestnut curls and a beautiful 
moustache, and he was scented with bergamot : 
I know I After we had gone out on the lawn 
for refreshments under the trees, he was intro 
duced to me, and we fell in love with each other 
as soon as we touched each other's hands. 
My, but he was handsome and eager and ardent ! 
And how I loved him ! How I loved him !" 

"What became of him, I wonder !" 

"He is your grandfather," replied my grand 
mother, catching me to her heart. 

"0 grandmother," I cried, "grandfather threw 
a bouquet at you? What a funny thing for 
him to do ! I knew he threw other things at 
people, but I never knew he threw flowers. I 
thought he didn't like flowers." 



144 The Heroine in Bronze 

"His bouquet had a note tucked in it." 

"How funny of grandfather !" 

"It was not in the least funny, you will un 
derstand some day." 

"I want to understand now." 

My grandmother's eyes twinkled : 

"You can't understand now." 

I thought I'd teach my grandmother a lesson : 

"And so grandfather was the only sweetheart 
you ever had," I remarked sagely. 

In reward for which sagacity, my grandmother 
promptly boxed my ears. Though not conceal 
ing her amusement : 

"You are too young to talk about such 
things," she commanded. Then she relapsed 
into silence and then broke it : 

"There was a sweetheart before your grand 
father the music teacher of the seminary. 
He was the only man in the seminary, and I 
had to be in love with somebody ! When he 
gave me singing lessons, he chewed mace, and 
I suppose that is why I eat nutmegs." 

This talk set up a rapid fermentation in my 
brain. After some moment, during which a 



The Waiting 145 

yeast-like growth overflowed the juvenile basin, 
I offered my grandmother the result : 

"Grandmother, when I am grown, I am going 
to put you, and grandfather, and the seminary, 
and the music teacher in a book." 

"Your grandfather's name and my name 
are already written in one Book, I hope," replied 
my grandmother, softly and gravely. "I hope 
they are written in the Good Book: that is 
enough ! Leave us out of yours ! One Book 
and the Day of Judgment will do for us !" 
she laughed a little prudently. 

"Mine wouldn't be a bad book." 

"Still I think there would be a difference; 
some slight difference." 

"But I can't write a book if I don't have 
people to put in it." 

"Well," said my grandmother, thumping 
my forehead affectionately, as though to impress 
upon it a reminder for all time, "when you 
think up your book, think up your people." 

That was the origin of my story. The idea 
of it had been dropped as a seed into the mind 



146 TJie Heroine in Bronze 

of a child. It had sprouted and afterwards 
been nourished by other things. Through 
years the stem of it had been growing toward 
the surface of consciousness ; and that morning 
when I awoke, there, at last, the flower of it 
lay open and perfect like a lotus at sunrise on 
the bosom of its lake. 

A story not of my grandmother, but of my 
grandmother's time ; not of my grandfather, 
but of my grandfather's time. With him would 
go the picture of farm life in his beautiful coun 
try, the like of which was not to be seen else 
where in the world. With her would go the 
picture of girl-life in one of those romantic Board 
ing Schools of the South those Female Semi 
naries those Daughters' Colleges through 
the windows and portals of which streamed the 
best light one half of the nation then had for 
its picked girlhood. No such bewildering efful 
gence as radiates from the great colleges of the 
republic in our time ; yet a true light leading 
onward, guiding upward the best there was : 
and not without its sublime reward. 

For the sentimental schoolgirls of those roman- 



The Waiting 147 

tic seminaries became the mighty women of the 
civil war, fierce Tyrtaean mothers of the South 
those fighting, praying, starving, broken, 
dying, never conquered, infuriated women, 
whose husbands, sons, lovers, brothers, dyed 
with their blood the battle trenches of their 
land and the battle trenches of the sea. Tender 
romantic schoolgirls at first, poorly educated, 
scarcely educated at all ; then Spartan women ; 
now most revered, most majestical figures on 
the landscape of the nation's history. Time 
that breaks all moulds has broken theirs and 
will never use it again one of the world's 
heroic moulds of womanhood. 

That was my story the time, the setting. 
And toward midnight there the opening of it lay 
before me on my desk. And through it I came 
back at midnight to where I had been at day 
break with the light of something beauti 
ful blazing in me once more. Here was some 
thing that could not misunderstand, and could 
not wrong me ; upon it I could pour out my best 
and be unfettered and free. Love may wrong, 
Art never. The arrow of its ideal, if shot into 



148 TJie Heroine in Bronze 

the air, will never afterwards be found sticking 
in one's heart. 

So in peace, but a sad peace, I slept that night 
as regarded my work, but heart-broken for her. 
Our quarrel had been so needless: a sentence 
would have set it right. But we, being sensible, 
were foolish. Alas for the hardships of a world 
in which the fools can never be sensible and the 
sensible can ever be fools. 

Summer now set in. There was a sign of this 
the morning after her departure : my electric 
bell was touched and it responded. If you can 
imagine a steel grouse very much frightened 
and trying to get away as soon as possible on a 
pair of steel wings, you will form some idea of 
the trepidation of sound that now quivered on 
the silence. 

It was the houseman : would I have my awn 
ings put up ? My draperies taken down ? My 
rugs dusted and laid away from moths? I 
welcomed the awnings; they would shade my 
southern windows against the tropical glare of 
noons soon to come. But that courtesy as to my 



The Waiting 149 

draperies and rugs ! A creature that could have 
bitten into any rug of mine must have been 
equipped by nature with a higher order of jaws 
and a lower order of intelligence than any 
possessed by moths. A New York moth would 
not have accepted my rugs as a free gift. All 
the more it became the houseman's duty to make 
his inquiry. It was not his prerogative to dis 
criminate among tenants as to whose rugs 
were valuable and whose not. All of us are 
rubbed most sore where the coarsest things of life 
touch us; and he understood human nature 
too well in his position not to be aware that 
tenants may be rubbed sore by their own coarse 
rugs. 

Other signs of summer followed rapidly. 
Some of my friends began to go away for their 
vacations for months, as they were graded in 
prosperity by stretch of absence. These went : 
and there were left those other friends who 
could get away to seashore or mountains only at 
week-ends. Now week-ends are the lonesome 
ones in a New York summer, and thus these 
other friends now disappeared when they were 



150 The Heroine in Bronze 

most needed. No one of them ever thought 
of staying in the city to spend a week-end with 
me who could not leave at all. But it was better 
thus : had any one of them remained to bear me 
company, I should have been too awed by the 
spectacle of his heroism to have sat at ease 
in his presence. I was glad they were all nor 
mally selfish men, so that my peace of mind 
might not be disturbed by them as enclosures 
of too many virtues. 

It being the order of things to go, one day the 
dumb-waiter took its leave. I received word 
from the basement that for me cooking would 
be suspended until October : and that after 
October a restaurant would be opened thus 
ending my attempts to be self-sustaining; but 
in the meantime I was thus turned out of doors 
to look for city table d'hotes. 

As everything was taking its departure, the 
back-elevator boy joined in this recessive move 
ment : he himself did not depart, but his draperies 
began to leave him. As the days grew warmer 
his woollens were shed as a furred animal drops 
its winter shag. He thus sartorially betook 



The Waiting 151 

himself back toward the artlessness of primitive 
man. And when in August he attained his 
midsummer metamorphosis, he regularly ap 
peared with the evening loaf as his own blend 
of the Baker and the Bone age. 

One day the final mournful seal of summer was 
set for me. Passing through the street where she 
lived, I saw the house closed, the front door 
barred, the shutters drawn emptiness and 
silence. As I walked away, most I thought of 
her rose-bush near the marble seat; with dews 
on it at dawn, with dews on it again at twilight ; 
its buds opening one by one and she not there. 

Not everything was going ; some things were 
coming. July was coming, and with the first 
week of July my royalties arrived sixteen 
dollars and forty cents. 

I took the check down to the greedy canons 
of the gold miners of lower Manhattan, to the 
palace of a trust company. The paying teller 
stood at his wicket of bevelled glass and Cir 
cassian walnut in his market-stall of avarice. 
Bank-notes tied in bunches of various sizes 
were piled about him as though they were the 



152 The Heroine in Bronze 

season's radishes and asparagus on sale; it 
was early, and there were few buyers as yet that 
day. 

Before that man in his wicket thousands of 
his fellow-creatures filed, and he asked each of 
them but one question : How little, how much ? 
That was his only measure of mankind year 
after year how little gold how much gold ? 
He had learned to know me as the author of 
some unsuccessful books through the publisher's 
checks, not through the books ; and even before 
I had reached his window that morning, he was 
ready with the question how little ? And it is 
possible that while he was looking at my check 
and pushing out to me what it called for, he had 
worked out a problem: if the interest for six 
months was sixteen dollars and forty cents and 
if the principal was ninety millions of Americans, 
what was the per cent levied by me on my 
countrymen? How much did my books cost 
the nation per suffering head? 

When we parted at his window, he and I 
lost sight of each other, but I think we never 
parted without a final shot. As a bank official 



The Waiting 153 

he was forbidden to speculate : still I think he 
speculated as to what became of me when I 
disappeared into private life. Did I by night 
hang myself up by my toes from the rafters of 
some unoccupied building and sleep economi 
cally like a bat? Many a time I would have 
been glad to do so. In turn, I took the liberty 
of taking his measure when he disappeared out 
of his palace : to what proportions did he 
shrink? Once I fancied I saw him emptying 
oil on the mosquito trenches which spread their 
lacustrine scenery around his box on the flats 
of New Jersey. And once I fancied I caught 
sight of him on a rocky hillside of the Bronx, 
on his knees in the evening light, draining with 
his moneyed fingers the bankrupt udders of the 
family goat. 

But that day, as I left the bank with my pit 
tance, never before had I come so near meeting 
that dread Shape which walks the streets of 
New York always in search of the young who 
have come in from the country; for the light- 
hearted, the too-trustful, too-hopeful youths of 
each sex : the appalling Shape of Failure. She 



154 The Heroine in Bronze 

wishes but to link her arm within that of a 
youth girl or boy and whisper : 

"I am Failure. You are a failure. You do 
not belong in these streets ; they are for success. 
Come out of them with me ; drop out of sight 
with me down this alley." 

Never had I so nearly met her as that day 
with that proof of my value. So that I came 
up town to the establishment on Fifth Avenue, 
where my salesman of the odd pieces always 
waited with a smile for an odd youth ; and I 
bought with the sixteen dollars a gold card 
plate, a piece looking like solid gold. I said I 
should lay that plate away against the time 
when the publisher would not mail me his check 
for my royalties, but would send them to me by 
his office boy. My butler would meet his office 
boy at my front-door ; and my gold card-plate 
would receive his gold-bearing document. In 
the teeth of failure that day I made this offering 
to Victory. 

This plate completed my family collection, 
and with it I closed the china closet for the rest 
of the summer it being necessary that I go 



The Waiting 155 

out to dine. Nothing is too small to have 
consequences, and even that trivial matter 
brought its own. For one evening it befell me 
to find my table d'hote in the rear yard of a little 
place down in the neighborhood of the Wash 
ington Arch. 

A great deal of human life lies scattered around 
the Arch, a wonderful commingling of lives and 
races; there are French, there are Italians, 
there are Swiss, there are many others. The 
proprietor of this hostelry which I found had 
tried to turn his rear-yard into an al fresco 
summer-evening dining ground. There were 
little tables ; with a light on each that glimmered 
out of grape-vines. It mattered not that the 
grape-vines were artificial. As you looked up 
ward, you did not see walls hung with old Flemish 
tapestries, but fire-escapes hung with other 
things that would have frightened Flanders. 
And if you looked on past these, you could see 
the infinitude of night and the cool stars : and 
after all, it is not what the eye must traverse, 
but what it finally rests on at the end of its 
vision, that counts. 



156 The Heroine in Bronze 

I began to go there and so made the acquaint 
ance of the proprietor and found that he was 
Swiss and had been a hotel clerk in many parts 
of Switzerland. 

Thus in after-dinner talks with him I too could 
spend much of my summer in Switzerland, where 
most I wished to be. He made it possible 
for me, by his descriptions, to follow her from 
place to place. I saw as with my own eyes the 
blue of Lake Leman she was to be there; 
I read under old chestnut trees on the slopes of 
Haute Savoie; now and then lifting my eyes to 
look across the lake at Lausanne, where also 
she was to be ; where Gibbon finished his De 
cline and Fall and where, perhaps, I would 
complete mine. My host was a Savoyard, 
and he was always homesick for the vineyards in 
which he had worked as a boy, had played as a 
youth, had begun to dream of life as a man. It 
was homesickness for native vineyards that 
explained the artificial grape-vines clambering 
around his dinner tables. 

Thus as the summer rose to its zenith of 
power, life descended to its nadir of nothingness. 



The Waiting 157 

Now it was August, and the Solstice raged. 

An August noon in New York ! As you look 
down Fifth Avenue, long and straight, ablaze 
with light and aquiver with heat, a solitary 
distant figure starts to cross it, a shining figure. 
It is the snow-white Moslem of the city, the 
street-sweeper moving not to his minaret of 
prayer, but to his mound of dust. Out at the 
Zoological Garden, in a stagnant pool, the rose- 
colored heron, with head hidden under its wing, 
stands on one leg, like a plant in the ooze of 
Indian marshes, flowering magnificently. In 
their cages, the tigers of Siberia lie flat against 
opposite walls as if to be removed as far as 
possible from each other's bodies : blood-heat 
within them, blood-heat outside. A gray 
squirrel, that master of nimbleness, lies stretched 
on a shaded rock in the reservoir wall as still 
as a newt, pressing its hot stomach against the 
cool stone. Far out in the middle of the reser 
voir, the surface of which is a sheet of still azure, 
matching the azure of the sky, a tiny boat is 
being pushed hither and thither as the skipper 
with his dip-net collects out of the blue the white 



158 The Heroine in Bronze 

feathers of gulls that have moulted. My Swiss 
hotel-keeper described for me the flocks of white 
gulls which in August float on Lake Leman. 
Had I been a gull that summer I think I would 
have moulted no feather in the reservoir of 
Central Park not if I had had wings for ocean 
travel. On the parched slope of Riverside 
Drive, under a sun-smitten oak, a nurse with a 
closed fan drowses beside the carriage of a sleep 
ing infant; and at her feet, curled on its back 
with its paws in the air, a dreaming bull-terrier 
snarls through his muzzle at the brazen sky. 
Below the group, at the foot of the slope, the 
great Hudson sleeps or moves toward the Bay 
as in a dream; and looking northward to the 
hills through which it has come dreaming, you 
see the horizon muffled in amethyst. On the 
green in Central Park, on that western edge of 
it where stands a scant grove of oaks and maples, 
the Park sheep lie suffering, even in their half- 
grown fleeces. The gaunt old shepherd, sitting 
on the ground with his back against a tree where 
the shadow falls, keeps his eyes on them from 
force of habit. Beside him his young collie 



The Waiting 159 

lies with his nose between his paws, watching 
also. In the eyes of the young dog is the steadi 
ness of instinct ; in the eyes of the old man lies 
the stillness of memories. 

August twilight in New York ! An orbless, 
flameless fury more deadly than sun-heat. As 
you stagger homeward, out on the steps of some 
unoccupied apartment building you are just able 
to see through the darkness there, on a stone 
abutment, the caretaker; a man from the 
tropics, a newcomer from the West Indies 
black; motionless there as an Arab in the fur 
nace of arid sands. Further on, another black 
man from the tropics further on, another 
black man from the tropics : Lybian figures in 
the desert of the city night. Thus centuries 
ago their race may have crouched around the 
marble entrances of palaces in ancient Carthage 
under the rule of the Caesars. 

August nights in New York ! 

And every night like a low star above the 
burning sands of life, my lamp with its beam 
on my work. My only companion that 
cool figure of radiant girlhood. That fragrant 



160 The Heroine in Bronze 

maid of life's dawn. That unwilted image of 
constancy. That flower of trust, shedding on 
me in my sweat and toil and discouragement 
and despair the freshness of an April dew-bent 
Narcissus. 




CHAPTER III 

ILL that summer no letter. Not a 
message to me from her moun 
tains, at the foot of which grew 
the flower of a day and on the 
summits of which lay the snows 
of ages. Could she be touched neither by the 
pathos of the brief or by the desolation of the 
lasting? Would she be warned neither by the 
glacier nor by the rose? 

To confront this studied silence of hers I 
marshalled one hope: that clearer thought 
would dawn on her ; that her heart would then 
hold out against an erring judgment; that 
until she had returned she would not decide ir 
revocably. If she would but return unpledged ! 
All summer my heart cried to her: wait, wait, 
wait ! Come back unpromised, come back free ! 
And all that summer I built and built and 
built for her; all the forces within me were 
called upon to work for her. For it must now 

M 161 



1 62 The Heroine in Bronze 

be divulged that while I had no thought of 
putting her into one book, I was secretly putting 
her into -another. 

When I arrived in New York, I was carried 
away by the daily spectacles of the streets. 
Especially at night there passed before me the 
procession of things seen. If you are thought 
ful, you must have become aware that this is 
your own experience : that wherever you live, 
as the last thing each night your mind casts up 
the account of the sun. There is some saving 
power within you which would lay hold of that 
worthiest to live the trait of strength the 
act of leadership the quality of mercy - 
every best thing in the world. When the mem 
bers of a family come together at night around 
the fire, speak, and then lapse into common 
silence, some one will break the silence with a 
narrative of the day which held the wit, the 
gayety, the wisdom, the justice of life. 

But after I had come to know her, every 
night I thought of her also ; and thus between 
thinking of her and thinking of the most per 
fect little story of the day, the two became 



The Waiting 163 

naturally acquainted : she drew the story to 
herself, the story drew her to itself: they be 
longed to each other, they grew together. 

On the night of the first of January of that 
year I had, then, begun a book, the plan of 
which was that on every night throughout the 
year I should write down the one occurrence of 
the day that asserted its right to abide as the 
best the world had offered : and at the end of 
the year to make of these a sheaf of the days 
to send to her. 

This is the story I found and wrote down the 
very day she sailed : 

As I wandered over the city, toward noon, it 
chanced that I was walking down the long 
avenue of elms which shade the Mall in Central 
Park. Near the entrance to this avenue there 
stands, as you may know, a bronze figure of 
Shakespeare. One day in the spring of 1864, 
when the people of this nation were at war with 
one another and that tragedy saddened every 
life, some citizens of the city yet had the breadth 
of nature, the long historic prospective, to meet 
under the young leaves of April in the ancient 



164 The Heroine in Bronze 

sunlight and dedicate this monument of peace 
on the three hundredth anniversary of the birth 
of the poet of humanity. 

The poet stands there on his pedestal. As 
the years go by, one of the elm trees behind 
him stretches out, nearer and nearer, one of its 
boughs as if, like a human hand, to touch his 
shoulder the touch of nature. He stands 
there with an open book in his hand, his eyes 
fixed not on the book, but on the earth before 
him on that dust out of which he evoked the 
vast throng of his human, his immortal, children. 

As I drew near that day I observed, quite 
motionless before the statue of the poet, the 
figure of an elderly gentleman with a profile as 
keen and sharp as any on a Greek coin. He 
had on a soft black hat and a well-worn black 
lounge suit ; his linen was emphatically respect 
able and his shoes well cared for. His whole 
demeanor suggested some thread-bare recluse 
of one of the libraries who might have come 
forth for a breath of fresh air from some dim 
alcove. 

He stood looking up into Shakespeare's face, 



The Waiting 165 

unconcerned about my approach, a sensitive 
but resolute friend. As I drew nearer, his 
revery reached its close, and he turned away; 
but having gone a few steps, he stopped, as one 
who remembers the very purpose that brought 
him thither; with a smile at his own absent- 
mindedness he thrust his hand in his coat 
pocket and jerked out a white flower; and 
coming back close under the statue, tossed it 
up so that it lodged on Shakespeare's arm. 
For a moment he lingered, smiling at his deed, 
and then happier went his way. He perhaps 
one of the lonely in the city of millions per 
haps without a single living tie. But his heart 
must find something on which to lavish its 
affection, and so he had walked back along the 
high-road of history three hundred years till he 
reached that other heart which had understood. 
That night I wrote the scene down. " It is 
what she would have done," I said. And forth 
with I removed the scholarly recluse from the 
story and put her in his place : I saw her as 
tossing a white flower of remembrance towards 
Shakespeare's eyes. 



1 66 TJte Heroine in Bronze 

The climax of the whole summer occurred one 
Saturday in the last week of August. 

The night had been too hot for sleep. Dawn 
brought no breeze. The sun as it rose flashed 
on no dew. My sheep in the Park, if they 
cropped the grass, found it warm and dry as 
their wool. As I got out of bed to lower the 
window awnings the cloth felt as though a hot 
iron had just been passed over it. 

Human nature in me came to an end that 
day, work would be impossible, there stretched 
out a strange prospect of idleness, of a holiday 
my one holiday during those scorching 
months. As I resolved to take one, instantly 
all that was in me turned toward the sea my 
arms, my face, my breast, my feet longed for 
the cold sea. I was twenty years old, a dweller 
in a pasture land, before I had ever seen the great 
mother of mankind. Only in stories, in his 
tory, had I heard the Ocean. It was a year 
or two before this that one summer twilight, awe- 
stricken and breathless, I had first drawn near 
the edge of the rolling wonder of the rolling 
planet, the cradle of our race, the story of 
our wanderings the symbol of our hope. 



The Waiting 167 

Idle for a while that morning, I stood at my 
windows, looking out on the roofs. A skylight 
was pushed open, and a scullery maid climbed 
out and crept over to a little wooden stool near 
a smoking chimney-top. She carried a bottle of 
cleansing fluid and some scraps of cloth in one 
hand and in the other a pair of pink ball slip 
pers ; and seating herself, she began merrily to 
clean the toe of one of the slippers : the universe 
that morning was reduced to a point to the 
soiled toe of that slipper. After a while, she 
drew out a letter, her eyes devoured it. The hot 
kitchen smoke issued a few feet away and drifted 
across her face ; she was unaware. The sun 
poured down its flame on her head ; it was 
unnoticed. Hard work, coarse work, meant 
nothing. Her ugliness meant nothing. She may 
not have asked of life very much, but the 
little she asked she got : that night on the deck 
of a steamer on the moonlit Hudson or in some 
pavilion at the edge of the Atlantic she would 
be dancing with the writer of that letter. 
Frousy, ragged, glorious little scullion with 
her slippers and her lover. 



1 68 The Heroine in Bronze 

She had noticed me standing at my windows 
with a proprietor's full right to enjoy the view : 
what did she care? Every housetop might 
have been crowded with observers, and she would 
have sat there undisturbed, cleansing her slipper 
toes and dreaming of her waltz. 

Turning away with a pang at the contrast 
between the story there and the one within me, 
I went across to the north side of my apart 
ment, where a small window disclosed a glimpse 
of a street and a church. In the belfry of a 
church my flock of pigeons sat listless; they 
scarce preened their feathers; and some sat 
out on the mouths of the gargoyles as if to 
be as near as possible to the gushing shower 
whenever it should arrive. Presently a huge 
pouter pigeon, which did not belong to the 
flock of my meek ones, alighted, and strutting 
officiously about began to push them over the 
precipices. Then he flew out to the gargoyles 
and pushed those off. I said he was a parson 
pigeon thinking himself entitled to strut and 
tyrannize because Nature with a sense of humor 
had made him a pouter. Never do I see the 



The Waiting 169 

gargoyles of the church without suspecting it 
is not the church only that needs gargoyles : 
the church members should have gargoyles also 
to wash them off to drain away their soot. 

Something occurred to end my fancies about 
the pigeons. The rattle of a wagon was heard, 
the whistle of a youth; the wagon stopped 
opposite, the youth jumped down from the 
driver's seat, and hurrying to the rear of his 
wagon began to pile loaves of bread into a 
basket. His cap was set on the back of his 
head to display to advantage his thick curled 
foretop ; his clean shirt-sleeves were rolled half 
way back, revealing his goodly arms. As he 
grasped his basket and turned toward the 
house, his whistle was checked, he stood still. 
Moving slowly down the street, with one hand 
sliding along the church fence and with the 
other grasping a cane which tapped the side 
walk, came a stranger smitten with eyes of per 
petual night ; before the church doors he paused 
and groped. 

The lad softly put down his basket and with 
slow, reverential footsteps went over and took 



170 The Heroine in Bronze 

him by the arm : he needed no introduction ex 
cept that of humanity. Removing his own cap, 
he led him into the church. A moment later he 
reappeared, sprang for his basket, delivered his 
loaves, jumped to his seat, and was gone. 

It was early that morning, yet I wrote this 
story down as the pastel of the day, persuaded 
I should see nothing more fit. Besides, when 
night fell, I should be far away. When she read 
it, mayhap it would help her to remember a 
blind youth who dwelt opposite the church 
blinded by Love : and mayhap she might decide 
to come to him and guide him to the altar. 

In the afternoon, under the steel roof of the 
vast station where the detonations of engines as 
they pulled in and drew out shattered the drum 
of the ear, I sat at the window of an overcrowded 
train on my way to the ocean. Men with 
hats off, coats off ; shopgirls with wilted waists, 
wilted faces. At last the train drew out and 
shot across the reedy marshes and hot sands; 
sometimes along a road-bed with sun-baked vines 
crawling as over an earth furnace; at spots 
scrub-oak blasted by fires, and low pine withered 



The Waiting 171 

by smoke and flame. Then hours later the low 
level moors and the first cool breath of air 
through the coaches ; and then from my window 
far off I saw the evening sky fretted with still 
clouds of green and gold; and under them the 
level shoreward billows of the cold sea the 
blue and silver sea. 

At a small hotel I engaged for the night one 
of the smallest of the rooms, and as I opened it 
paused to survey its luxury : a cheap washstand, 
on the rack of which hung two little pink- 
bordered ragged towels ; a pitcher with a broken 
handle suggested a one-winged penguin sitting 
upright and disconsolate on its eggless nest; 
on the floor a small quadrilateral oilcloth, at the 
edges of which only the eye could trace a pat 
tern ; on an iron bedstead a white counterpane 
not white; across one wall a drapery of faded 
chintz under which no doubt were nails where 
clothing might be hung ; here and there over the 
carpet the huge discolorations of orgies. As 
quickly as possible and with great gladness of 
heart I locked the room in and locked myself 
out. 



172 The Heroine in Bronze 

I had my dinner in a restaurant on a side 
street and then walked out to the promenade 
which stretches for miles between the city and the 
sea. I was one of a hundred thousand souls 
in the place that August Saturday night ; and 
two currents of souls, one passing southward 
and the other passing northward, met and min 
gled. I turned southward and began the long 
walk very slowly and observantly along 
that thoroughfare of the invitations: past the 
long sea-invading piers flashing with their 
myriad electric lights past the shops offering 
the wares of the world past the music-stands 
and past music where there was no stand past 
the little dens of the credulities past the bowl 
ing-alleys past the candy shops and the fish 
shops past all the tests of strength that one 
saw and past all the tests of strength that one 
did not see. 

I walked alone, yet I think not alone, for I 
prayed that she walk with me. 

At last I reached the end of the promenade, 
and descending the steps, reached the wide, 
hard, sloping floor of the sea and went on 



The Waiting 173 

till the last cottage had been passed the open- 
air hospital for children the summer resting- 
place for tired mothers. Farther and farther 
along that hard, clean floor of the sea, on one 
side the breaking billows, on the other the land. 

The country along there is sand-dunes rising in 
hillocks. There is scrub oak, scrub evergreen, 
creepers that can stand salt spray, dwarfed bushes 
with leaves as pungent as brine, even blackberry 
bushes. Where the dunes front the surf, they 
are highest, having been piled up by winds and 
tides and drifting sands and held in place by the 
fastnesses of vegetation. 

Under one of these, the edge of which was over 
hung by a bramble of blackberries, where the 
sand was clean with only a black tuft of seaweed 
here and there and white shells I stopped and 
looked back : far behind me lay the city, its lights 
barely visible, all its noises lost. 

I had around me the ancient open of Nature. 
And I threw myself at ease down on the sand. 

The moon was rising: the run of the disk 
looked like some dull red mountain top at in 
finite distance; then slowly the entire orb dis- 



174 The Heroine in Bronze 

engaged itself from the tossing waters. Its path 
of light began to strike across the tops of the 
spray and I began to see, breaking before me on 
the sand, the fragile laces of the waves. One be 
hind another, one behind another, one behind 
another, ever the same, ever the same, before 
me, a youth, as they were before some youth 
who watched them unknown thousands of years 
before. Higher rose the moon, the sky where 
the stars flashed thick became violet-dark. All 
the sand turned to silver, the sea took on a 
blacker violet, its laces formed and dissolved like 
snow. I there, watching it all ; sometimes turn 
ing my face to the bushes overhead through which 
I found now and then some fainter star. 
The vast, solemn, lonely beauty of the night ! 
******* 

Slowly I walked toward the edge, little by little 
delaying the luxury ; deeper I waded in until one 
breaker leaped against me with its foam. Then 
with out-thrown arms of impatient joy I plunged 
forward and swam. 

Long I revelled in my strength in that wild 
energy. Then far out where the surface was more 



The Waiting 175 

still I turned and crossed my arms under my 
head and crossed my feet and gave myself up to 
that bosom of all tenderness and all storm 
letting the tide bear me landward. The moon 
lit drops flashed and broke over the swimmer. 
The ocean became as a golden couch a tender 
ness of the old mother to him : no other golden 
bed had he. 

I did not return to my hotel, not to that room, 
not to the bed there. I made me a pillow of my 
coat and with the green boughs of the brier as 
my roof and the waves breaking a few feet away 
and the night wind cool upon me, I lay down. 
******* 

So few things I had with me there : stars and 
moon, the sea and the sound of it, the wind, the 
sand, the green thorn, summer and darkness. 
All the rest I put away from me the city up 
the beach and what the city plenteously, too 
plenteously, offered to its hundred thousand revel 
lers. That I might be alone and into my soli 
tude draw her nearer to me across the distance. 

I there with solemn beauty of the summer 
night: calling to her, calling, calling, calling. 



176 The Heroine in Bronze 

Before me the ceaseless wash of the ocean; 
within me the ceaseless breaking, breaking, 
breaking of all my nature shoreward to her out 
of the deeps. 

Calling, breaking calling, breaking. Until 
worn out to weariness I slept. 

******* 

Long afterwards, I awoke, or half-awoke, and 
with open, or half-open, eyes I saw not the moon, 
now high in the heavens shining down on the 
Atlantic, but that sea of dreams that older 
sea of love between Sestos and Abydos the 
Hellespont the sea of Leander and Hero. 

At summer twilight I saw Leander come down 
to the edge of the Hellespont and gaze across the 
strait. Then winding his mantle about his head 
to keep it dry above the waves, for a while he 
looked for the signal of the star that was to flash 
out from Hero's isolated tower beset with rocks 
and noises of the sea. Even while he waited the 
light flashed and he knew that Hero watched. 

As I sank back into slumber I thought how 
all that summer no beam had reached me from 
a dark shore. Only the bronze statuette on my 



The Waiting 177 

desk set the star of night to shine on the troubled 
sea of my romance. 

She was the Hero of that summer and the 
heroine. 

When I awoke again, the east was rosy, the 
level billows of the sea broke gray at my feet, 
the moon was gone, the lights of the city were 
out, above it stood the Morning Star. 

I swam again as the sun sent its first golden 
light across the gray waves. 



THIRD PART 
THE GETTING HOME 




CHAPTER I 

}NE day a wall of a rare old house 
in a beautiful quarter of the city 
glowed dark-red. The vine of 
mighty muscles twisted about her 
windows was burning its cool 
forest fires : the year at wane had come at last 
to October. 

I had not endured to see the place since that 
mournful day of early summer when it stood 
closed, darkened, empty. But a wistful after 
noon it was no longer possible to resist wandering 
by ; and what first drew the eye in the distance 
down the street was that vine with its autumn 
promise. And the house now waited : the 
front doors had been unbarred ; the front steps 
were fleckless; the brass of knob and knocker 
shone with the distinction between brass and 
brassiness ; the window-panes had a diamond-like 
brilliancy; the curtains inside hung fresh. 
Almost her hands parted them, her face almost 

181 



1 82 The Heroine in Bronze 

looked out. Even the tall vases, one on each 
side of the steps, had had their soil renewed and 
were brimming with forget-me-nots the most 
impatient of flower faces. As she got out of 
her carriage (she kept her carriage and would 
not use a motor car), she would pause to touch 
them a little custom of hers sometimes after 
a longer absence. 

I went home wild with joy and with one 
troubled thought : what would be her greeting ? 
For it was certain that she would arrange in 
some non-committal way to see me at least 
once : there were things she would wish to 
know. Her reception of me would definitely 
depend upon whether she returned free or 
pledged. I thought I should know instantly. 
The first expression of her eye, the first word, 
tone, touch, would divulge the truth. 

It is easier to wait by the month than by the 
hour; and with the certainty that she might 
arrive any hour there was yet an interminable 
week to drag by. Too restless to work, I began 
to wander over the city, proving to myself by 
this sign and by that sign that October really had 



The Getting Home 183 

come, already was going, and how needlessly 
she mocked the season by her absence. I made 
me a little Pilgrim Scrip of changes of earth 
and sky and city by which daily to refresh my 
discouraged feet. 

One day in the Park, I saw many sparrows on 
the grass, stripping the stems of seed : all 
feeding together. They had only appetites 
now, no emotions the law of the twain having 
become the law of the flock. The wings of some 
wore white patches, as if prophetically flecked 
for future snows : had it only been actual snow 
instead of snowlike feathers ! One day out 
on Riverside Drive, at a bathing place between 
a beef-packing establishment and a dock where 
the city's ashes are emptied, little boys of the 
poor ceased to dive into the Hudson, having 
been gloomily gathered from buckboards to 
blackboards, from a living river of nature to the 
dry rivers of maps. One day a florist's window 
was blazoned with mountain oak boughs, which 
glowed like coals in a grate, forerunners of 
hoar frosts ; and how gladly many times would 
I have given a year's royalties for a black frost. 



184 The Heroine in Bronze 

One day ripe pumpkins appeared on the green 
grocers' variegated embankments around their 
shop doors. My heart warmed to one with his 
ruddy countenance and clean linens as he 
picked up a pumpkin while talking to a cus 
tomer and with an upward and downward move 
ment of his arms fondled it as though he were 
about to pitch it into a wagon. From those 
motions, I knew that he had been a country boy, 
had followed the wagon into the fields, had helped 
to load it with pumpkins when silver spangled 
their gold. One day the transitory summer 
life of the city, which had ascended to roofs and 
housetops, began to move downward. Washing 
rains, chilly winds, flapping awnings sent 
clarionet and cornet, viol and mandolin under 
cover. One night the last dinner was eaten 
with my Swiss host in his little back yard with 
its artificial grapevines in memory of his be 
loved Savoy. Even as he and I lingered over 
our cigars, clouds rushed across the stars above 
our heads, drops fell on our faces, and a gust of 
wind blew our napkins indoors after us. I com 
plained : 



The Getting Home 185 

"Surely by this time enough snow must have 
fallen in the Alps to drive people home!" 

At last one evening upon my return to my 
apartment a letter protruded beneath the hall 
door. I snatched it, tore it open. 

They were at home, she wrote. Could I 
come the next afternoon for some tea? 

That was all an invitation to see them, 
for some tea, and not sent straight by messenger, 
but with deliberation by common post. 

I saw them! They were all plainly visi 
ble the following afternoon on the veranda. 
There was not only tea to be drunk bodily, 
there was a tea-party of some fifteen guests 
to be assimilated by the rebellious faculties. 
I was purposely the last guest to arrive, being 
of a mind to emulate her example in deliberate- 
ness; and instead of going straight, I would 
gladly have had myself sent by parcels-post, 
had it been possible to take advantage of such 
indirection of the Government. 

Remembering how we had parted, I did not 
hold out my hand ; but the moment she saw 
me she extended hers at arm's-length. She was 



1 86 The Heroine in Bronze 

pouring tea for some one and asking how many 
lumps of sugar were desired; and she poised 
the sugar-tongs with a lump in them, as I went 
forward, and kept her hold on the sugar-tongs 
with two fingers, and gave me the three others. 
But the three others did not tell me anything : 
Nature for ages has developed the thumb and 
the forefinger for the higher needs of civiliza 
tion; the three others are millions of years 
behind and remain what they were at the start 
one's tongs : taking hold of a piece of wood 
or of a piece of humanity with the same deadly 
precision and impartiality. She gave me her 
tongs : my preference would have been that she 
shake hands with the sugar-tongs. Thus I 
found out nothing from her hand-clasp. She 
had been smiling before I was announced, and 
the smile continued with no difference. And 
she looked me in the eyes as though I were 
not there, and indeed I felt myself but a roving 
phantom of other days. Then bending very 
graciously to one side, so that she might com 
municate with some one behind me, by this 
gesture and with a nod to me, she intimated 



The Getting Home 187 

that if I would retire to a certain table and 
chair and tea-cup, I would find a companion 
who would meet all my social requirements. 

The guests were seated for their veranda 
tea-party in the form of a crescent. She flashed 
at the top of the crescent its star. The seat 
designated to me was at one tip of the cres 
cent at the point where the new moon ceased : 
on all sides of me but one reigned nonentity. 
Unimportant as my arrival was, it seemed by 
general understanding to complete the after 
noon social orchestra, which, thereupon, entered 
upon the rendition of a stated programme. 
Whether I was to be fife or drum, piccolo or 
bassoon, yet remained to be discovered by me ; 
but it would be the part that none of the other 
performers had cared for, they having plainly 
monopolized the leading roles of the score. 

As I approached my tea-table it appeared 
that I was duetted with what seemed an able- 
bodied violoncello which had evidently been a 
good deal played upon at public entertainments. 
She was completely fitted out with a requisite 
set of screws they were plainly visible in and 



1 88 The Heroine in Bronze 

about her head; but she instantly conveyed 
the impression that some of the strings were 
gone, had snapped. No sooner, however, had 
she with admirable technique drawn her bow, 
than it became clear that the strings which held 
good were accustomed to do duty likewise for 
those missing. Had but one string been left, 
she would have played that to the world with 
unabated vigor, and even greater skill, for the 
whole instrument. And that made her one of 
Life's master musicians : people who can do 
that are the master musicians of the world. The 
other members of the tea orchestra should have 
risen and lifted their cups to her. 

From where I sat at the uttermost extrem 
ity of Cape Horn an up-ocean view of the 
other guests was to be had if any one cared to 
have it. My companion soon let me know that 
this was a farewell tea-party, the breaking up 
of the band of summer tourists and ocean trav 
ellers, who have such insatiable ways of hold 
ing on to each other after they land : they had 
chosen thus to drown their melancholy. 

The sons of the house were absent ; they had 



The Getting Home 189 

gone down in a tug, I learned, to meet the 
steamer, at quarantine ; had shouted their greet 
ings from the deck of the tug to the deck of the 
steamer and then had hurried back up the bay 
and back to their college. 

Next to the hostess on one side sat the mother 
and son, of whom early in this narrative fearful 
mention has been made : next to her, on the 
other side, sat the sister and the brother, also 
of previous fearful mention. I thanked Prov 
idence that at least they were both there, those 
rivals: it was proof that she had not yet de 
cided between them. Halfway down the cres 
cent on one side I saw the Paludal Aunt. Op 
posite on the other side of the crescent sat the 
Commodore, and with him what troubled me 
was the family physician. The two spoke 
earnestly together with eyes often turned toward 
the hostess. Yet still oftener the Commodore's 
glance which would have made the Byronic 
reputation of a Corsair wandered down to 
my companion; whereupon, unfailingly, the 
violoncello rendered back for him a movement 
that could not be misunderstood, even by a 



190 The Heroine in Bronze 

spectator : it was a plain capricioso, a palpable 
non troppo tar do. 

This, then, was the way she greeted me ! 
There was time and quiet for thinking it all over 
that night. It was a beautiful party. They 
made up a scene of such irrepressible high spirits. 
They were permeated by the luxurious tran 
quillity of mind, the buoyancy of temperament, 
which is the last hall-mark of the well-born and 
the well-to-do. They radiated that versatility 
of New York people whose lives consist in 
changes from one set of pleasures to another 
set of pleasures, the sole regret and hardship 
being that they cannot enjoy both at once. It 
really was an orchestra. Their whole conversa 
tion was melodious and harmonious with re 
fined little exclamations and outcries and reminis 
cences of the homeward voyage, of things seen 
in other lands. They seemed to illustrate a 
society given up to musical migrations. 

I felt a little betrayed misused. I had 
been drawn into a situation that I could not 
adorn, for I had never travelled. Somehow 
the experience left me with the comic feeling 



The Getting Home 191 

of a guest who might have been invited to a 
Spanish dinner because he had never been to 
Spain who had been asked to dress as a torea 
dor, because he had never seen a bull-fight. 

Only when I was leaving did she speak with 
me, and she was then claimed by those crowded 
about to sever the tourist ties. Quite without 
any special interest she asked : 

"Did you go home this summer?" 

I said I had not gone home. With the same 
smiling inadvertence she asked : 

"Did you write the story?" 

I said I was still writing it; it had grown into 
a book. 

That was the voluminousness of her conversa 
tion. But there was one other thing. Once I 
surprised her eyes searching me : with a look 
in them as though the tea-party did not exist, 
as though she sat there alone among them 
thus I one swift instant surprised her, trying to 
read me. 

What troubled me most was the presence of 
the family physician with a countenance sym 
pathetic and serious, and the long talk with the 



192 The Heroine in Bronze 

father. The weight of it could not be thrown 
off. It pointed like a finger to another barely 
discoverable fact that there was a change in 
her : as little as I saw of her, I saw that. Some 
thing grave had occurred. But I could ask no 
questions, I could do nothing. The seating of 
my rivals on each side of herself and the placing 
of me at the greatest possible distance reaffirmed 
upon her return what she had declared on her 
departure that the old tie between us had 
been snapped. 

I did not go to the house again. 

One forenoon as I worked there was a touch on 
my bell and a messenger delivered a note : 

"Was the tea so bad that afternoon? You 
did not drink yours. You tasted it twice and 
then were sure. It might be better another 
time. Could you come to-morrow and see? 
And if you are writing the story, why not bring 
it and read it to me ? I wish you would do this, 
for I desire very much to hear it." 

The hour of my reckoning with her had come 
at last ! 

The house was very quiet as I walked through 



The Getting Home 193 

the hall. I had been received at the door with 
the guarded air that the visitor was to be no 
one else. When I stepped out on the veranda, 
at one end of it she had already risen to greet 
me alone. 

She stood quite still, statuelike. The veranda 
might have been some beautifully draped 
salon of sculpture and she the only figure in the 
salon. Still, statuelike, she stood. About her 
fell vestments of the softness and tint of woven 
ivory. There were bands of purest white. There 
were other bands of blue the blue of summer 
dawn: at her belt were white violets. Her 
exquisite head with its banded gold had a little 
unconscious forward droop toward me as of 
questioning welcome : and as if there rested on it 
also the weight of chastened nobleness. There 
was a change : a new dignity, a new gravity ; a 
little of the girlishness gone, more of the woman 
unfolded. She gave me her hand with no more 
self-consciousness than if she had placed in mine 
the hand of another woman. And she ex 
claimed with quiet, quick relief as her eyes 
rested on it : 



194 The Heroine in Bronze 

" You have brought the story. I am so glad ! " 

I replied dryly : 

"The opening of it. The opening will be 
enough." 

We had our tea on another part of the ve 
randa, conversing yet saying nothing : and then 
we returned to where she had been before. 

A chair had been placed for her in that corner, 
not the chair of an invalid, yet restful and as 
designed to give aesthetic peace to one who might 
need peace of every kind, and need it at once. A 
little bookstand with books scattered over stood 
beside it. For me a table had been brought 
suitable to a reader's convenience, and beside it 
stood a chair in which John Milton might have 
sat to dictate Paradise Lost; it suggested to me 
my lost one. 

Both of our seats faced toward the open. 

Ready to listen, she leaned forward in her 
chair and placed her elbows on her table; the 
face propped between the palms, the eyes turned 
from me toward the garden. It was the posture 
of a self-shielded listener who wishes to listen 
with her whole being. 



The Getting Home 195 

Without prefatory word I began : 

A June morning long years ago three-quar 
ters of a century ago. A little town of rich proud 
people in a land of deep pasture. On the edge 
of it an old building of Gothic architecture with 
castle ivy on its brown walls ; a lawn of flower 
beds and forest trees. One of the romantic senti 
mental boarding-schools of the South for young 
ladies of that mid- Victorian period in the United 
States. Old times, old manners, old customs, 
old actors and actresses of the human comedy, 
long since fallen back to dust. 

The characters of the story : the three maiden 
sisters who were at the head of the Seminary ; a 
young music teacher the only man in the insti 
tution ; a young farmer whose estate was several 
miles distant ; a young Southern banker and plan 
ter from New Orleans ; and the heroine one of the 
graduates. A chapel scene with the heroine read 
ing her essay ; another scene under the trees of the 
lawn where the lovers meet : they love at sight. 

I finished. I had read, not as one who reads a 
story, but a verdict, a vindication, his own ac 
quittal. I laid the sheets aside and waited. If 



196 The Heroine in Bronze 

plainness had been needed, there was inevitable, 
inescapable plainness : now she knew that her 
wound had not been dealt by me : she had in 
flicted it herself. It was she who had brought 
on the storm that burst over her head; I had 
stayed under clear skies. She had conjured up 
the destructive hurricane ; I had wended my way 
across a landscape of still fruit. 

For a long time she did not stir. Then with 
her face still at rest on the palm of one hand she 
withdrew the other and extended it toward me 
sidewise : - 

" I understand now. It is all only too plain." 
Her voice took up life where it had been broken 
off between us, and she clasped my hand with 
long close strength. There in the hand, not 
on the lips, lay all her regret for the wound 
she had dealt me : for the injustice of which she 
was guilty. Both voice and hand sought to 
bring back unclouded happy days and to throw 
open again the gates of the future. Alas! the 
first unclouded days they were gone! The 
happy gates, the first gates they were closed 
and never now would we pass through them ! 



The Getting Home 197 

In an instant all that I had held against her 
and this was nearly everything that a man 
can hold against a woman was blotted out. 
Not a word was to be wasted on it, and gather 
ing up the sheets of the story, I said to her as 
one who but too willingly begins everything 
once more : 

"Tell me about your summer." 

She leaned back in her chair, seeking its 
restfulness; the strain of all this had left her 
trembling : almost her face was as a white 
violet. With her head at rest and with her 
hands in her lap she said to me with a smile : 

"I have not had any summer." 

She studied my face incredulously, for it 
must have worn a look of mystification : 

"Have you not heard? Did no one tell 
you ? I am just getting well. There are little 
breakdowns and weaknesses all through me 
yet because my strength has not come back. 
And that is why they put this chair here for 
me. And that is why - " her smile was plain 
tive "that is why I need it." 

Her story must evidently be told before relief 



198 The Heroine in Bronze 

could come to her as it had come to me. She 
placed herself at ease in her chair until she 
faced me, and then she began : 

"You have thought I had a happy summer. 
We went straight to Switzerland, and by the 
time we reached Switzerland I had developed 
typhoid fever. I was ill a long time so ill 
that I came very nearly not being ill any more. 
Another long time I was getting well enough to 
be moved. And then for another long time 
they were taking me from place to place ; from 
the mountains where I fell ill to the seashore; 
from the seashore to the lakes; from the lakes 
back to the valleys ; and then from the valleys 
up the mountains again, with a nurse and 
physician, and with every one doing all that 
could be done." 

She paused to give me a look almost aggres 
sive in its self-defence : 

"It was not what happened between us that 
brought on typhoid. After they had studied 
my case the physicians told my father that it 
was probably nature's settlement for my last year 
at college and first year in society. There was 



The Getting Home 199 

a great deal of hard work, that last year in col 
lege ; there was a great deal besides that was not 
hard work. There was ambition, a struggle, to 
get honors. And from this year of overwork 
I passed at once into society. And then hard 
work of another kind began there and more 
things that were not work, and ambition to 
win honors again. I suppose I never paused 
to consider that there could be an end of my 
strength, and that nature is made of things that 
can only stand so much. The physicians 
thought this: that typhoid had marked me as 
a desirable subject for punishment at least 
for a warning as to my future : I suppose the 
moral is that if I am ever again a schoolgirl, I 
must not strive for honors; and that if I am 
ever again a debutante, I must go to the wall and 
flourish against the wall." 

The old faint gleams of humor were beginning 
to return : 

"But then you see : after I had typhoid what 
had taken place between us made the typhoid 
worse. Shock and worry made the typhoid 
worse; and then the typhoid made the worry 



2oo The Heroine in Bronze 

worse ; and so I had to contend with both ; and 
that is why I did not have any summer." 

The current of her thought was seeking the 
easiest channel : it were better left to run as it 
would with no words from me set up as stones 
for it to dash against. 

"It was a shock what you said that morn 
ing. You may not know that a girl's school 
days are sometimes the most beautiful, the 
most sacred. My college life was that the 
most beautiful part of my memory, the most 
sacred thing in my past. As it drifts away, 
it becomes dearer, a closed experience of my 
girlhood, a rounded-out shape of something that 
I once was. The shock was that you were go 
ing to destroy this it was to be invaded, 
beclouded, ruined. And that brings me to the 
other shock. This I think you can understand, 
I believe all young people can understand it : 
it is the discovery that the older world is going 
to make use of us of us girls and boys, us 
young people, if it can; and it nearly always 
can. During my first year in society I had in 
timations that people there would use me if 



The Getting Home 201 

they could; but you can protect yourself from 
such people if you have the courage to do it, 
and those things have made no impression. 
But that morning ! You stood for the world 
that would use me : by you I was to be offered 
to the public for sale in trade. By you ! 
And the most beautiful part of my life my girl 
hood was to be at auction ! That was when 
the shock came to me which we who are young, 
I suppose, find to be our first bitterest lesson of 
distrust. It is the old cup of anguish to the 
young : I know it was my first cup of anguish." 

The deepest of all silence had fallen upon us 
and lasted. She had leaned forward once more 
and with her arms on the book-stand and her 
face buried in her palms : 

" I could not believe it of you ! I could not ! 
Yet I did not know what else to believe. The 
time was so short that morning ! And as you 
described the story you were going to write, it 
was all myself my college, my commencement 
day my essay myself and you ! " 

Her strength showed that it was taxed ; and 
yet new strength began to come and it brought 



2O2 The Heroine in Bronze 

new peace. I waited for her to go on and she 
asked for nothing but that I should wait: 

" That was one way I looked at it. Then 
another way opened up, and all through the 
typhoid I never could take my eyes from that. 
You came to me that morning, as you had said, 
with something beautiful flaming in you. There 
really was a light on your face an unforget- 
able light. Then I saw that light go out. I 
put it out. I shall never forget the look in 
your eyes as you saw me extinguish it. It was 
as if I had murdered in you something immortal 
just beginning to live. When I began to think 
of that I got worse. If you really had come 
to me in the first great moment of your career, 
I had thrown myself across your path ; I had 
thwarted you, had tried to end at once your 
dream of greatness; and I think I understood 
what a dream that was. Those were the two 
troubles all summer ; I was wretched and ill 
with the thought that you might go on with 
this work ; and I was wretched and ill with the 
thought that you might not go on with it. It 
was kind of choice between your destroying my 



The Getting Home 203 

happiness and my destroying your happiness. 
It was not easy that decision." 

Thus she shrived her soul of its error, not its 
sin ; and that power of pardon in nature which 
is so patient with our mistakes when these grow 
out of our ideals, that spirit of peace which never 
withholds its presence from our sincerity, must 
have descended upon her and granted its 
absolution. 

She turned toward me : 

" Can I say anything more? " 

******* 

At the very end she brought out what must 
have been in her consciousness from the be 
ginning, and had been held back for that 
very reason: it was the crux of the whole 
truth : 

" I suppose all the trouble came about be 
cause I am a woman and because a woman 
takes things to herself that are not meant for 
her. That must have caused a great deal of 
trouble in the world ! But a woman has to 
have some faults ! And that is among her useful 
ones. Have you thought of a woman's other 



2O4 The Heroine in Bronze 

peril, the fault just the reverse : not to take to 
herself the things that are meant for her ? Have 
you the least idea what other women think of 
such a woman, what they say of such a woman ? 
I wonder what you men think? So between 
taking to herself the things that are not meant 
for her and not taking to herself the things that 
are meant for her, she has to walk a very - 
straight and narrow road." 

She leaned back and smiled resignedly at the 
hardships of her sex. For the first time the old 
gayety, the old tide of humor overflowed. The 
black cloud which had hung so long overhead 
began to break up and to show white edges 
with sunlight rushing through to the earth. 
She betrayed signs of fatigue and I sought 
to dismiss the whole subject by making it 
ridiculous : 

"There must a kind of woman who for her 
own peace of mind should never take a walk out 
of doors on a clear night : if she saw a shooting 
star, she would say it was being shot at her 
and that she knew who did the shooting." 

She retorted in kind : 



The Getting Home 205 

"When a woman of that kind goes out with 
you, you should take the precaution to see that 
it is cloudy." 

Then with grave sympathetic impulse she 
turned to me : 

"Tell me about your summer." 

I answered summarily : 

"Oh, I have not had any summer. It was 
one morning early in June now it is an after 
noon in the middle of October : that has been my 
summer !" 

As I was about to take my leave, she gave a 
little outcry of humorous recollection : 

"Oh, wait! Do not go! I had nearly for 
gotten. There was something to tell you. Did 
you know that you had the seat of honor at the 
tea-party the other afternoon ? " 

That had not been my opinion, but I took 
refuge in conventions : 

"I had supposed all the seats were seats of 
honor." 

"But did you realize who your companion 
was? And why you were not more formally 
introduced? She is to be the new member of 



206 The Heroine in Bronze 

the family : the Commodore is going to be 
married." 

I thought of the strings that still held good. 

She now took up this little story and she 
blazed with the spirit of mischief : 

"That was another thing that resulted from 
the typhoid ! I became ill in a hotel, where 
she had just made our acquaintance. She was 
not allowed to nurse me, there were so many 
others. But make things for me she did. And 
while she showered attentions on me with one 
hand, she made nice things for the Commodore 
with the other. Sometimes the hands got 
crossed and the things that were meant for me 
went to him. That showed she really liked 
him her sending him the things meant for me : 
she made an exposure a Southern exposure. I 
liked her for it for the warm side. It meant 
that she really cared for him to the point of 
forgetting herself. Otherwise she would not 
have had him, for of course I could have pre 
vented it all if I had wished. After I began to 
get well, she and I arranged it that the Com 
modore must be married. We had no under- 



The Getting Home 207 

standing between ourselves. Two of us women 
accomplish so much more when we work without 
one. An understanding makes us responsible 
and we do not like to be responsible. So she 
and I have planned that there shall be one 
wedding in the family. It will be an alliance 
between the yacht and the tug. Which will 
sail away with the other I do not know. It 
will depend upon the weather : each of them 
will have the better of it in its own weather." 

We were walking through the hall toward the 
front door : she glanced from side to side : 

"And so these dear ancestral halls will soon 
not be mine any longer to rule in them. I 
have ruled in them a long time. And now 
just when I am beginning to understand the 
beauty of being a real tyrant in them, I abdi 
cate the throne and become a step-daughter. 
What the tug will by and by do with me that 
is a hazard of deep ocean !" 

Just inside the door she threw all this 
pleasantry aside and said with soberness : 

"Now will you bring the rest of the story ? I 
am intensely interested," and for an instant 



208 The Heroine in Bronze 

her eyes questioned mine : then the thick lashes 
veiled them. Thus she had released her hold on 
the past and grappled the future. 

As I walked away I felt much as though I had 
been experiencing not in the realm of music, but 
in the reality of life a great Symphony of Bee 
thoven the Pastoral Symphony: 

A traveller has in his journey reached a region 
of country of such charm that he stops there. 
But hardly has he entered upon full enjoyment 
of its pleasures before a storm suddenly bursts 
over the landscape. You feel the darkness, 
the chill; you dread the disturbance and the 
destruction ; you shudder most at peril of the 
bolt which strikes so blindly and so fatally. 
Then as suddenly as it came the storm has gone, 
the sun is out again, birds take up their songs, 
the peasant's hymn of praise and thanksgiving is 
heard ; and upon the black mass of the retreating 
thunder clouds is thrown the music of immortal 
safety. 

Our quarrel had come as quickly ; and now it 
had dissolved in rain and light and in spirit 
ual music above the dying storm. Still I could 



The Getting Home 209 

but recall a note of Beethoven's about his whole 
Symphony : that the spectator was left to solve 
the situation for himself ! This was now the 
case as regarded my symphony! 

There was much to ponder that night, chiefly 
the change in her, the growth of nature. This 
had showed itself in the filial sacrifice of her 
supremacy in the household that her father 
might enjoy a second, an autumnal, happiness. 
Her displacement as the social leader of the 
family pushed to a further stage her aloofness 
from its other members : this had always made 
her a slightly isolated figure in the domestic 
group. I wondered whether that power which 
had early taken the place of another parent to 
her were not partly responsible the strong 
old house-mother herself who stood alone 
among the other houses. Birthplaces lay upon 
their children their traits their littleness or 
their largeness, their weakness or their strength. 
It was certain that no other member of her 
family would ever be involved in her nuptials. 
She had planned her father's ; her father could 
never plan hers. The groom would wed all 
there was of her. 



2io The Heroine in Bronze 

And it had not escaped me how disciplined for 
matrimony she had further been by brothers 
those big, sturdy, ungovernable, hardy, riotous, 
college lads. Had I not received of late a sug 
gestive letter from a week-end friend, a dealer in 
rubber, who during his vacation had availed him 
self of its travels to journey on to wedlock? In 
the letter he had reviewed his conjugal disad 
vantages on this point. 

"Dear Old Comrade of Many Talks about 
our Future : Be advised by one who has out 
stripped you on the road to his. When you 
marry, let it be a girl who has spent her life 
with brothers. Thus you may reap the harvest 
of that training which only brothers can be 
stow. In the family of my wife there were no 
sons, and all the difficulties which she should 
have battled through with the brothers who 
never were, are being fought to a finish with 
the husband who is. They are not my fights; 
my fights are a husband's fights ; and Heaven 
be my witness that there are as many of these 
as I can stand up to. So, friend, be warned, 
be wise; and be assured that the distinction 



The Getting Home 211 

between a woman who has been reared with 
brothers and the woman who has not is as the 
difference between manufactured rubber and 
crude gum. My wife as to her general knowl 
edge of masculine nature is virgin gum. She 
is still in the Congo ; and I fear there will be 
many an outcry about man's atrocities before 
I ever get her to Belgium." 

Thus I dwelt on her perfections: but what 
did her perfections profit me unless it were 
thus to dwell on them? 

Now followed weeks when the world was 
without a shadow, the lute without a rift. The 
story entered upon better days ; for her happi 
ness passed into me, my happiness flowed into 
my work, and happy work is work with breath 
and wings. All because there was faith re 
stored between us and an attachment now 
sending deeper roots down into our strength. 

She had entered with delight upon the story 
itself and upon the study of an old Southern 
Female Seminary with its pupils of long ago. 
In gathering my materials I had gone to the 
attic to ransack musty trunks filled with letters 



212 TJie Heroine in Bronze 

and books and articles of dress of the period. 
Here I had found, yellowed, tattered, moth- 
eaten, my grandmother's music-book. The 
loose sheets almost fell open at a much-used 
place, and there I found a song : I'd offer Thee 
This Hand of Mine. Under it in my grand 
mother's handwriting was this memorial : My 
Graduating Song. 

Much delight she had with this old music-book. 

Meantime the story had begun to move to 
ward its depths: the heroine began to be re 
vealed. One day after a reading I received no 
praise. Turning to see why, I found her re 
garding me with the most curious expression. 
As nearly as it could be interpreted it expressed 
an amused toleration of what she had just heard 
and of me: she had the air of having dis 
covered what she had been expecting to dis 
cover ; but that I was helpless in the matter, 
and that it was something that she must endure : 
she was prepared to endure it, wished to endure 
it. 

This disconcerted me, and I exclaimed : "What 
an expression ! That is a new one ! " 



The Getting Home 213 

Whereupon the expression fled, and she laughed 
outright : 

"Is it ? Am I expected to have no more new 
expressions? Do you mean that my face has 
already used up its permissible expressions?" 

Thus with a jest she hid the truth, but did not 
remove it. I had been silent once before ; this 
time I determined to speak at once : 

"What is the trouble now?" 

Her face grew thoughtful: 

"Do not let it make any difference with the 
story. I beg you not to let it make any dif 
ference." 

And there came back to her face the same 
look, that the story had laid upon her a 
burden which she was resolved to bear wished 
to bear. 

"But tell me what the trouble is!" I cried. 

"I will not talk about it," she replied, rising 
to terminate the interview. 

This was intolerable to me. I went home at 
the end of my patience and sat down to study 
the meaning of the mystery. The first trouble 
I had understood at once ; she had done every- 



214 The Heroine in Bronze 

thing to make it understood. Here was trouble 
that she tried to conceal, and when unable to 
hide it, had refused to declare its nature. 

But the idea that the story should cast a 
burden upon her was unendurable. I withdrew 
myself and my work. I stopped the readings, 
stopped going to the house. I could have 
wished that my apartment might have been 
some iron citadel with iron walls, iron doors, 
iron windows, iron floors, that nothing could 
escape from me and my work to her. 

One day as I worked there was a touch on my 
bell : a servant stood at the door bringing some 
thing delicately. I received it, and closing the 
door, bore it to my writing-table. Lifting the 
napkin, I found a card : 

"Blanc-mange for the heroine." 

I sat staring at the blanc-mange. It was as 
if Judith , instead of taking off the head of Holo- 
fernes for his misdeeds, had walked up to him and 
mollified him with a saucer of sugar and starch. 

I returned no acknowledgment. A few days 
later a tray arrived with a card : 



The Getting Home 215 

"Calf's-foot jelly and lady-fingers for the 
heroine, who is not very well now and begins 
to need delicacies. From one who knows the 
value of delicacies at the right moment." 

I returned no acknowledgment. 

Then the iron citadel began to be bombarded. 
Things appeared to come through the door, 
through the windows, through the floor. A 
basket of orchids seemed to arrive through the 
ceiling. One day a note entered : 

"Dear Sir: Pardon my addressing you, being 
a total stranger. But I am making a collection 
of autographs; and being a great admirer of 
your work, I feel that my collection would be 
sadly incomplete without something from your 
pen. A stamped envelope with my address is 
enclosed. If with the autograph you could 
send a sentiment, it would be much appreciated. 
If you cannot give both the autograph and a 
sentiment, a sentiment is preferred. Do oblige 
me with a sentiment." 

I made no acknowledgment. 

Some days later an envelope arrived contain- 



2i6 The Heroine in Bronze 

ing a small sheet of paper, rose-hued and rose- 
scented. On it I found written two stanzas of 
my grandmother's graduation song : 

" I'd offer thee this hand of mine, 

If I could love thee less. 
But hearts as warm and pure as thine 

Should never know distress. 
My fortune is too hard for thee, 

'Twould chill thy dearest joy; 
I'd rather weep to see thee free, 

Than win thee to destroy. 

" I leave thee in thy happiness, 

As one too dear to love, 
As one I think of but to bless, 

As desolate I rove. 
But O, when sorrow's cup I drink, 

All bitter though it be, 
How sweet 'twill be for me to think 

It holds no drop for thee." 

I made no acknowledgment: I thought I 
would absent me from felicity yet a while. 

The bombardment continued. One day a 
note struck me on the breast : 

"Dear Sir: May I offer a suggestion? It 
might be of service. If at any time the heroine 



The Getting Home 217 

should need outdoor air, you might think of 
taking her to the Park ; but there are so many 
heroines in the Park ! I am writing to say that 
my father has a yard, that the yard has a ramble, 
and that the ramble leads to some seats. The 
seats are, one of iron and the other of marble. 
It is all very quiet and private, and you would 
be quite alone there with her. In the stillness 
of the autumn sunshine you could be very 
thoughtful, and she could be. I myself will see 
that you and she are not disturbed. I give 
you the word of one who is very much interested 
in her welfare and in your welfare and in the 
future of you both." 

Then I could absent me from felicity no 
longer. 

It was the middle of one afternoon of Indian 
summer. The sunlight fell faint and silvery. 
The air was so mild that one could sit out of 
doors in a yard with a book : drifting leaves of 
the book, leaves drifting from the trees. 

An afternoon of stillness, the stillness of 
Indian summer. The dweller in the city knew 



218 The Heroine in Bronze 

that out in the country over fields and woods 
and water that stillness rested : that in the 
motionless air hung a faint haze as of vanished 
camp-fires, as the burning of many-colored 
leaves in the mountains. Indian summer ! 
Spirit of yearning for things to be, pain of the 
unattainable in things near, regret for things 
gone. In spring the beauty of the world was 
sharply defined and embodied ; it had passed 
into the myriad forms of nature to inhabit 
them. Now all those forms have perished and 
before they perished they cast it out again, 
leaving it disembodied and a wanderer. 

But all homeless things touch us. And this 
beauty of the world without an abode, this 
breath we breathe which is the essence of a 
thousand things that have passed away, this 
threat of the final goal of the universe which 
will know the finite no more, subdues us, chas 
tens us, stirs within us our outcry against the 
brevity of our joy. 

It is so old this silence and stillness of 
the atmosphere. As it approaches from all 
sides and encamps about the city, so once on 



The Getting Home 219 

the Campagna it beleaguered the walls of Rome ; 
it beleaguered the walls of Troy before the 
Argives camped there; it beleaguered Babylon. 
All the noise of New York is less to it than the 
chirp of a grasshopper on a blade of brown 
grass. The noises soon die away ; it lasts 
that stillness and silence of the atmosphere on 
which all things perish and leave not a trace. 

I turned into her street and stopped beside 
the hedge : it was turning sere ; leaves rustled 
under my feet. But I buried my face in it 
once more as twice in spring when it was 
snow white with bloom and fragrance. I mur 
mured in an undertone : 

"How do you do?" 

The reply came at length as from a revery 
half broken : 

" I do not know how I do." 

" You are not unhappy? " 

" No, not unhappy." 

" But you are not happy ! " 

" No, not happy." 

" Not unhappy, not happy. Gray-blue like 
the day." 



22O The Heroine in Bronze 

" Yes, gray-blue like the day." 

Our words scarce reached one another; a 
spell weighed us down. We spoke as though we 
were side by side and yet too far from one 
another. 

After a silence, her voice reached me like some 
echo of itself : 

" Did you know that you look like Indian 
summer ? " 

"Is it so bad?" 

" Listen to this out of a story an unwritten 
story: His hair was dark oak-leaf brown like 
autumn oak leaves after they have fallen 
and lie thick and crisp and curled. The Old 
Greeks often spoke of hyacinthine hair hair 
that curls like hyacinths. His was hyacinthine. 
Sometimes there was a dry blue mist in it as of 
Indian summer. It was not peaceful, but tur 
bulent, as on the heads of young Greek athletes 
when they came from contests in the games. 
On his hands and face on his neck faint 
brown woodland shadows lay. Sometimes the 
brown shadow on his face had such still depths. 
Oh, such still depths ! His moustache was oak- 



The Getting Home 221 

leaf brown, no blue haze in it but a tinge of 
oak-leaf red under the brown. His eyes were 
Indian-summer blue-gray ; sometimes there was 
in them a look of such stillness and silence : then 
perhaps he was thinking of his own country. 
Did you ever read that description in any 
story?" 

" No." 

" I have read it in a story. Often I wonder 
how the story will end." 

Her voice seemed to die away upon the air. 
Softly I called to her : 

" Tell me ! Is there much Indian summer in 
your garden? " 

" Not much. There is never much in any 
garden, is there ? Only a little blue pool of the 
blue ocean." 

" Does the Indian summer in your garden 
cause you to think of things that have disap 
peared there? " 

" Sometimes." 

" Then sometimes do you think how in spring 
many things in it acted as though the garden 
existed for them, belonged to them: soil, air, 



222 The Heroine in Bronze 

sun, rain, dew, darkness, all belonged to 
them?" 

"Why should I tell you?" 

" Now the garden is there and they are gone. 
They passed over the surface of it as a cloud 
passes over the sky. And that other flower 
the flower of our spring the flower of our 
youth. It too believes that earth and air and 
rain and dew and sun and darkness are for it. 
It is as brief as the others : by and by the gar 
den is there ; youth is gone." 

"Well?" 

" Why do you keep me waiting? " 

There was a long silence : 

" If I kept you waiting, it would be cruel, it 
would be foolish. It is unkind to ask me such 
a question. Suppose I should ask you a ques 
tion : why do you keep me waiting ? " 

" Then it comes back once more to the same 
thing the book. You are waiting to know 
me better through the book : is that the truth?" 

" Would it not be wise? " 

" Then the book is to be the final test? " 

" It -will be a test." 



The Getting Home 223 

" Tell me this : how can it be a fair test, 
how can I do my best work on it, if it throws a 
shadow on you? " 

" It does not throw a shadow on me : it sheds 
a light." 




CHAPTER II 

'INTER in New York. 

Low leaden cloud beyond which 
the eye cannot trace the disk of the 
sun. Whirling, twisting, rebound 
ing winds that sting the cheek 
as freezing water bites the hand. The mud of 
the streets solidified as rock. Roofs, verandas, 
fences, door-steps; the poles of the telegraph, 
the posts of gas light and of electric light all 
ice-cased, snow-thatched. Along the city's 
great avenue by night palaces buried deep in 
warmth with frosted window-panes; through 
curtains of damask and of lace dim moonlike 
radiance glimmers. Waiting chauffeurs with 
flapping arms buried deep in their furs like 
Esquimaux. The wide river alongside the city 
with rhythmic ebb and flow between the sweet 
tide of the mountains and the salt tide of the 
sea now quieted under the rigor of the frost, 
each bank far out toward midstream covered 
224 



The Getting Home 225 

with the fixed ermine and silver of the frost. 
In the narrow mid-channel the grinding and 
crushing of loosened blocks of ice by the careful 
ferry-boats as they barely force their way to 
the gray-bearded piers. Out on the ocean great 
mystical steamers coming into port as if bring 
ing tidings from the Ice Age of the earth : their 
masts and decks spectral with the death of the 
North, their ice-plated prows tossing aside 
waters as white as breast feathers of Arctic 
swans. In the Park under a sky where the 
sharp-rimmed moon rides full and thick stars 
glisten in diamond ether, all nature snow-hung ; 
nights as still, brilliant, dead, as those on Lap 
land wastes. 

Winter in New York. 

Bleaker, darker than the winter in the city 
was the winter within me. The book had begun 
to fail. It had opened well, it had gone in 
credibly well through the simpler stages. Dur 
ing those autumn days after her return, es 
pecially, it had moved as on a high predestined 
road to an inevitable goal. Then without warn 
ing of its collapse it had begun to totter, to go 
Q 



226 The Heroine in Bronze 

to pieces, to fall. There was no failure, no 
dimming of the first vision of the work; in 
imagination it was a masterpiece yet. My 
trouble was the difference between imagining a 
masterpiece and writing a masterpiece. The 
tragedy of youth and inexperience was within 
me still. When the action of the story called 
upon the scene the great powers of the mind, 
the great passions of the heart, it lay beyond 
me, I was no longer ruler over my work. 

There were times when I put to myself the 
question : Was it youth ? was it inexperience ? 
Or was I one of those who can imagine but not 
create ? Did I swell the vast, pitiful, ever mov 
ing army of the young who all over the nation, 
from cities, villages, farms, when glowing 
visions of the imagination begin to rise within 
them, throw down their duties, quit their places, 
desert their people, and enter upon the pil 
grimage to New York with faith that visions 
will there become achievements? In me as in 
them was it but youth's blind belief in itself, 
which mistakes the desire to sing for the gift 
of song, the desire to act for the art of the 



The Getting Home 227 

stage, the desire to paint for the mastery of 
color, the desire of sculpture for supremacy over 
line? And was it to be my bitter lot that I 
asked only to dedicate myself to the highest, 
but the highest would not have me, thrusting 
me back with the rebuke : you are numbered 
among the millions who must work for bread; 
who for all their work will never have bread 
enough ? 

Now with each reading it became plainer 
to us that the story would be no master work: 
this was settled in advance of the end. She 
tried to conceal her disappointment it was 
well-nigh overwhelming: I was lowered in her 
eyes fatally. But by one of those mysterious 
compensations with which Nature so often 
equalizes her own inequalities, as this hope 
went out in her, a sympathetic and protective 
tenderness came forth perhaps woman's best, 
sublimest gift to a failing struggler. And there 
became manifest in her at the same time the 
practical, all but ungovernable, impulse to inter 
pose, to seize hold and direct. 

One dark December afternoon I read the 



228 The Heroine in Bronze 

worst yet. I finished without comment, she 
had listened without comment. Finally, at 
sacrifice of herself and under stress, she spoke 
out with unsparing candor : 

" Why do you not let me make suggestions ? 
Point out any mistakes I may possibly have 
seen ? One who looks on so often has an advan 
tage over one who is in action. Why will you 
not let me do this? " 

With sternness toward myself, I answered : 

"Not one word will I hear! Not a sugges 
tion must you make ! " 

She studied my face curiously: if there was 
no room for such thing as a masterpiece within 
me, to her there was space for magnificent folly. 
She laughed with humorous exasperation : 

"Do you expect to be able to see everything 
in the world that 7 see ? " 

"I expect to be able to see everything in my 
work that you see. It is my office to be able 
to discover every mistake in it that any one 
could discover. And that I will do ! If I can 
not, I am not fitted for my work." 

She said good-by at the door; it was snow- 



The Getting Home 229 

ing heavily, and as I stood on the step she 
watched, as with a kind of whimsical enjoyment, 
the flakes of snow as they fell on me. I do 
not know what enraged countenance I wore, 
but something brought out uttermost tenderness 
in her: 

"Will you come for a walk to-morrow after 
noon? The paths through the Park ought to 
be cleared by then." 

Never before had she invited me to walk. 

I went to the Opera that night, and close under 
the golden roof of the Opera House I hung far 
over and watched Siegfried : watched his youth 
his wild, untamed, singing, shouting, Mime- 
beating, bear-capturing, sword-forging, dragon- 
slaying, spear-shattering, fire-invading, maid- 
awakening youth. Most intensely I studied 
him when in the depths of the forest over his 
couch fell the forest music, dropping down upon 
him from waving boughs and young quivering 
leaves luted as by zephyrs. I watched him 
jerk his sword from its scabbard, and, striding 
to the pool, slash for himself a wild reed, and 
with the breath of youth undertake to give back 



230 The Heroine in Bronze 

to the forest its high inimitable melodies. 
Naught did he deem necessary but breath and 
reed and will to reproduce those myriad- 
linked harmonies of the winds. Again he 
slashed the reed and breathed on it; a third 
time he shortened it and blew again. Ever 
above him rolled the multitudinous billows of 
that weightless sea of ecstatic sound the for 
est music : not a note of it on his pipe or within 
his power. 

I, a youth, was vastly amused at him, another 
youth : what would he have thought of me had 
he watched me at my desk with my breath, 
my reed, my will, trying to produce offhand the 
music of humanity. He made me ridiculous; 
and seeing myself ridiculous I felt encouraged. 

The next afternoon I went for the walk. A 
heavy snow had fallen, no wind had followed, 
and it still lay on the trees as left by the clouds. 
It was my first snow- walk with her, and I could 
but marvel once more how she always triumphed 
over Nature. Out in the depths of winter she 
seemed a figure of such unassailable safety. The 
exuberance of health rebounded in her against 



The Getting Home 231 

everything rigorous without waiting there 
ready and impatient for happiness. The long 
sweeping ostrich plumes above her exquisite 
head were the blue messengers of bright skies. 
Richest dark sealskin enveloped her from throat 
to feet, and from under it there came out upon 
the winter air the faint odor of some most delicate 
flower. The mere playfulness of her feet in 
walking was a language the warm white 
feet in a kind of onward dance just above the 
snow. 

We had walked, and then we were returning 
slowly in the twilight. It was the hour of the 
great Nocturne of the City. 

Before us, as we threaded our way along the 
winding snow paths, stretched the evening land 
scape south and west : the white earth now 
in half shadow, the leafless trees snow-laden, 
the darker evergreens bearing the heavier bur 
dens of their kind. Through these a yellow 
gleam flashed here and there as the lamps were 
lighted. Along the edge of the Park towered 
the great black buildings beginning to be fretted 
with long vertical and horizontal lines of lights ; 



232 The Heroine in Bronze 

and infinitely behind in the background the far- 
spread crimson of the sky. We stopped to en 
joy the scene ; there it all was before us in one 
picture : Nature Man Dusk Eternity. 

As we reached the low brow of one hill there 
advanced toward us a little pageant of humility 
the procession of Park donkeys on their way 
to their stables, to their feed and their sleep. 
No doubt glad enough to be on their way thither, 
rough-coated, shaggy-legged, under-sized cav 
alry of the thoughtless. All day their backs 
had been as so many top fence-rails for gleeful 
children to straddle and bounce up and down 
on: the monotone of their lives an incessant 
downhill and uphill, with ever changing burdens, 
but with no change of burden. 

We stood aside in the narrow path to let the 
half-drowsy procession pass, and she stretched 
out her hand to stroke each beast ; but when the 
one who brought up in the rear, the meekest 
and forlornest and most imposed upon of them 
all, was tripping by, she suddenly caught him 
round the neck and drew his head against her 



The Getting Home 233 

heart and held him until with one hand she had 
pulled from under her cloak her flower and fas 
tened it in his bridle under one long wintry ear. 
Emotion in her must overflow, and it overflowed 
on the donkey. 

Well I knew who the real donkey in the case 
was. 

As for the four-legged image of myself there 
in the snow path, while this was going on, he 
threw one ear forward toward the stable for 
disappointment; and one ear rearward to his 
back for submission: experience had taught 
him that whenever people were nice to him, 
they meant to use him ; and as an asinine psy 
chologist he made out that she now meant to 
get up and was but decorating him that he 
might look the finer while she rode. 

We finished our walk in silence. 

After dinner late I was walking up the Avenue 
on the way home. The thoroughfare was brill 
iant that night: the sky clear, the moon out, 
snow on the street, with lights from lamp-post 
and doorways and hotel entrances and shop 
windows. It was possible to see what was 



234 The Heroine in Bronze 

going on and that was why something arrested 
my attention at one of the hotels ahead of me. 
A white marble balustrade ran in front of it, 
and on this at intervals stood tubs in each of 
which grew a dwarfed evergreen. Each of the 
little trees was well snowed under. A woman 
had paused with her face turned upward toward 
the balustrade and a tiny evergreen. As I 
approached she put up one hand and patted it 
as though it were a human head. Her face 
glowed with splendid health and happiness. 
She wore a hood and a long dark cloak, rather 
coarse but comfortable; and as she threw it 
back from one shoulder to stretch out her arm, 
I noticed under it the garb of a trained nurse. 
In the city of millions that winter night, she 
perhaps out on the street for short relief from 
hospital and sick, with warm fresh young blood 
coursing through her she there before the 
little frozen evergreen with her womanly im 
pulse to nurse, to caress. Did it bring up 
memories, tell a story? Or in her, was it 
absence of memories, a void in her heart ? 
As the pastel of the day I wrote the scene 



The Getting Home 235 

down that night : I dedicated the little story 
of the unknown woman who caressed the frozen 
pine to the unknown woman who caressed the 
half-frozen donkey. 

And that night a further question rose within 
me. Here once more I had come upon that 
strange dependence of the human heart upon 
some image that is not human : there was my 
threadbare scholar that summer day, tossing 
his white flower toward the face of Shakespeare ; 
there down by the Washington Arch was my 
Savoyard host, cultivating about his dinner 
tables artificial grape-vines in memory of the 
shores of Lake Leman ; here was a woman on a 
winter night with thousands around her reach 
ing out to the frozen tree. All one and the 
same thing the human heart trying to reach 
other human hearts through images not human. 

Now the question forced my mind further on : 
do we in turn use the human as an image through 
which we must try to reach things above hu 
manity ? 

What is any man's friend but an image to 
him through which he reaches things more to 



236 The Heroine in Bronze 

him than his friend is that were before his 
friend was, and that will be after his friend is 
gone? What is a man's love of a woman but 
of an image through which he holds steadfast 
and true to what is more to him than she her 
self ? If my friend fail in strength, in loyalty, 
in honor, do I love strength and loyalty and 
honor less because his image has crumbled and 
holds them no more? If the woman loved 
prove faithless or too faulty, does not the lover 
turn toward another woman not thus marred? 

And was this the reason why she must wait 
until she could be sure that in me she would 
find an image through which her nature might 
be released in its flight toward more than I could 
ever be ? 

The year now drew near its close, and my book 
of the little pageants of the streets drew near 
its end also. On the night of the thirtieth of 
December, I finished it. I gathered them to 
gether into a bundle of the days and sat down 
and wrote to her : 

"The Old Year goes out to-morrow. To 
night I bring to a close a work which was begun 



The Getting Home 237 

when it came in. The plan was that every 
day as I walked in this City of all life I should 
watch what was done before my eyes. At 
night I was to run over the scenes which stayed 
in memory as worthiest to be remembered and 
out of these to choose one the best. 

"This plan has been carried out. Not without 
effort. The days of the year have not all been 
spent at ease. Some have been troubled, some 
burdened, some have drawn my eyes from the 
deeds of others to the needs of myself. The 
nights have not always descended softly under 
their tranquil lights. Some have had shadows 
deeper than the shadow of the earth ; some have 
known storms that raged beyond the tempest 
of the air. But through trouble and burden, 
through shadow and through storm, I have held 
on to my appointed course: that each day I 
should look out upon the world about me for 
something actual and beautiful, and each night 
write this down and carry the strength of it into 
my sleep. 

"The work is done. I send it to you, it was 
meant for you. As I from the end look back 



238 The Heroine in Bronze 

to the start, I see how all the paths of the days 
have run into the one road of the year. The 
paths met in the road; the road leads to you, 
ends in you. 

"It is my way of telling you that you have 
been part of everything that I have found best 
in the world. Not one of these stories but I 
have claimed for you. I have observed no 
actor in any scene without displacing him and 
saying that you would thus have acted. 

"It may be that I shall never accomplish 
anything great; and being found out to be a 
commonplace person, I shall soon now be re 
minded to withdraw and leave you to look for 
greater things in some other man. If it must 
be, it will be. And I shall think you were 
right: that being what you are, you could not 
ask less of the man you are to love than that 
he do more in the world than I have thus far 
proved myself able to do. 

"Even with the loss of you I shall take with 
me one thing that I can never lose : the memory 
of what you were. 

"You will see that for one day of the year 



The Getting Home 239 

there is no story. Something is left out. That 
lack you will have to fill with your fancy ; you 
may sit and wonder what little lost perfection 
of the City was not found to tell you in one more 
way what I feel. To-morrow that little per 
fection will be born doomed to wander for 
ever lost because there was no one to guide 
it to your door." 

The next day I waited for some word ; I did 
not even leave my rooms, lest a message might 
come in the meantime. Often standing at my 
windows I looked out on the City the far- 
spread vista of roofs : snow slowly drifted down, 
they were all white, so that the landscape of them 
suggested a frozen sea with ridges and pinnacles, 
vast crumpled fields of ice piled in heaps. The 
day ended, twilight darkened over the vast 
scene, the lamps of New Year's Eve began to 
glimmer. Still not a word from her. 

Toward eleven o'clock there was a touch on 
my bell ; a messenger boy, his cap and the edges 
of his hair snow-sprinkled, his cheeks ruddy, 
his eyes dancing with the merriment of the night, 
handed me a letter : 



240 The Heroine in Bronze 

"When the parcel arrived last night, we had 
guests. Not until they were gone, not until the 
rest of the house was quiet, not even until the 
others were far away in dreams or dreamless- 
ness would I dare begin to read. All to-day I 
was needed for things that no one else could do. 
But early to-night I had myself excused to the 
outside world, I made my excuses to those at 
home ; I have been reading ever since and have 
just read to the end, and I am writing at once 
and I do not know what to say. 

"This I do say first : that having written this 
book, you need have no doubt of your future. 
To me henceforth your faith in yourself is 
warranted, more than justified; you will live 
your dream, you will do great things, you will go 
far up the heights. And if, as I write these words, 
my tears blot them, they are tears of joy, a 
woman's joy in the triumph of a man for whom 
she has planned leadership, rank hi his work. 
Here in this book is the proof of a thing you have 
hoped to achieve in the other book ; here is the 
touch upon life, the handling of life, the ideals 
of life, that face toward immortality. 



The Getting Home 241 

"You tell me that you wrote this book for 
me. I am unworthy of it; no one could be 
worthy of it; it is a vision of things that are 
perfect; it is the earthly flame of each day's 
deathless sun. It is not for me. I am not per 
fect, my imperfections are very many and very 
real. You must long since have found out that 
I am exacting, possibly you have thought 
that in some things I am without mercy and 
without pity. Let me only hope that if I am 
exacting, I never exact of any one that he be 
mean, that he be petty, that he be inferior, that 
he be weak, that he be false. If I were dis 
appointed by any one in these requirements, I 
suppose I should never forgive. If a man should 
awaken in me a great love in him, so that 
through him my spirit could pass outward to 
life's greater things if he could not afterwards 
meet this need in me, I think I should be heart 
broken. 

"No ; this book is not drawn from what I am, 
but from what you are. It throws no light 
upon my nature, but upon yours. I know you 
now as I have never known you and could never 

R 



242 The Heroine in Bronze 

have known you in any other way. By means 
of these little stories of every day of the year I 
have gone back and followed your road through 
it. I have tracked the footsteps of your thought. 
I have followed you every night into your 
dreams. And often I have recalled with each 
story what I on that day was doing. Particu 
larly I have hunted out the story you set down 
the day I sailed. I have gone through most care 
fully all those written during the summer while 
I was ill in Europe. And thus I have lived 
over your life throughout the year : I know how 
my path ran through it ; I now know how your 
path ran alongside mine; and how every day 
from your path you threw something over into 
my path. 

"But though this book is not for me, it is the 
call of a great silver trumpet to me from the 
heights. Your faith in me turns my face up 
ward. It must be true that love sees best, 
truest, most ; it is not blind. And if your love 
of me has seen these things in me, I can but 
hope that not all is a mistake. You may smile ; 
but if hereafter you should ever come to believe 



The Getting Home 243 

that any one of these things was not true of me, 
I fear I should think that you had grown 
unjust. 

"Thus your offering makes me new to myself. 
I see the city in which I have lived all my life as 
never before: the streets are new streets, the 
pageants are new pageants, my eyes are opened 
to what is going on around me. Never hereafter 
shall I walk in it without trying to find stories. 
A new year, a new city, a new life, a new book of 
life. 

" Once I told you that you gave me the greatest 
shock of my experience that the world would 
use me if it could. That is the shock of girlhood. 
And that was less than a year ago. But changes 
have taken place in me very rapidly : and now I 
am already enough a woman to understand the 
great shock to a woman that the world will 
not have her. The tragedy to a woman 
that the world, looking for all that it may use, 
looks at her and looks away. I begin to feel 
something of that tragedy that possibly I 
may live unused. If I can ever be a help to 
you in your work, may I? Do not tell the 



244 The Heroine in Bronze 

woman who cares for you that she can be of no 
service. 

"And one thing I ask even beyond the book 
you have sent me. Perfect as I think it, I yet 
leave it to go in search of the imperfect one 
which you fear will be a failure. From what is 
safe my heart goes out to what is in peril. My 
faith in you now is such that I expect you to do 
more than succeed ; you will wrest victory out of 
failure, and that is the noblest success a man 
can win. Now more impatiently than ever I 
shall watch for the end of the other book." 

I stood at my windows looking out on the 
crumpled sea of white roofs. Far southward 
through the snow-misty air I saw the pale gold 
of the great clock dial: the hands were point 
ing toward twelve. And now all around the 
horizon, from East River and North River, 
from the shores beyond, from the Bay, from 
every point within the city, faint and far and 
softened by the snow came the melodies of 
chimes and of horns the music of the New 
Year Morn. Voices of all nations blent in one 



The Getting Home 245 

greeting to the city. All the tongues of men in 
one tongue of humanity. 

I a new creature with them made new by 
her ! Her voice was the first that reached me 
from the human race with faith in what I could 
do. And with her faith now won for my work, 
closer about me I felt the approach of her love. 




CHAPTER III 

'INTER, rough-booted, gray-haired, 
gray-cloaked, and snarlish Shep 
herd, had gone northward beating 
sullenly down before him his bars 
of icicles and driving onward his 
disorderly flock of dark-fleeced clouds. Spring, 
barefoot amid young grass and young dews, had 
tripped by, trailing her fingers across sad boughs 
and bringing forth from them the quick merri 
ment of blossoms. And now Summer of the 
sweet breath and the sweet breast and quiet 
sandals had come to revisit her matured and 
gorgeous realm. 

June, the fateful month to me, had already 
sent one of its bright weeks away into the past ; 
and on a fateful night of the second week I was 
to write to the end of the story and terminate 
the uncertainties of its young pair of lovers. 
And the end also would bring to a conclusion, 
246 



The Getting Home 247 

either tragical or happy, the misgivings of its 
author toward her who, for some mysterious 
reason known only to herself, had decreed that 
upon the finished work she would base her 
decision to wed or not to wed him. There had 
long been a tacit understanding between us now 
that when I read her the final pages, she was to 
make known her acceptance or her rejection of 
me. And whether at the last moment she would 
be prepared to do this, my own will was fixed. 
I meant to say to her : 

"You have all along declared that this story 
would somehow furnish you with the key to my 
character. Has it done so? Whether or not 
this be true, I have waited long and I will wait 
no longer." 

I could have wished that the end of the story 
were otherwise. Books without intention judge 
their readers ; they are for them or against them ; 
they uphold them or condemn them. And this 
story at its finish would almost have the force 
and directness of an arraignment of her for her 
treatment of me, an assault upon certain traits 
of her character which she regarded as the bul- 



248 The Heroine in Bronze 

warks of her safety. The heroine of the book 
at the very end revealed herself as all that she, 
Muriel Dunstan, was not. When love came 
to her in her girlhood, she welcomed it as some 
thing she must not question; to her nature if 
love could not be trusted, nothing could be 
trusted ; and in simple faith she had quickly 
yielded herself without a plan for the future or 
doubt of him she loved. Thus when I came to 
read the final chapter, it would be invested with 
the brutality of an indictment. 

Now, if love be anything that can be named, 
it is gentleness. Almost it is enough for any 
one to say to any one else : "I love you because 
I believe that your love will always make you 
gentle with me." And I know that my whole 
nature toward her was one worship of gentleness. 
Yet I was thus forced by my work into a posi 
tion of antagonism, most ill-timed, most un 
fortunate, perhaps most disastrous. It would 
almost be requiring too much of her that she 
should not be wounded at such a moment 
that I should ask from her the confession of 
her love of me at the very instant in which I 



The Getting Home 249 

was stamping my disapproval upon the ele 
ments of her being. And thus at the end of the 
book came the greatest battle of all its many 
battles. Surely the work ought to have been 
of life since it had been as turbulent as reality 
itself. With a kind of grim humor as I looked 
back over its progress, I marvelled that so many 
different kinds of trouble could arise from the 
same thing. 

It is right that we should wring from our 
purses the uttermost farthing for life's greatest 
occasions. A thousand inconsiderable hours 
are but the servants of the few masterful ones 
which give to a career and character its whole 
higher meaning. Perhaps with this in mind 
I had ordered for myself that evening a most 
rich and lavish dinner ; when placed before me, 
it was pushed away uneaten. Coming home, 
I had thought to find solace through another 
sense and had drawn upon some very rare and 
fragrant tobacco. Filling my pipe, I took my 
seat for the usual quiet hour before beginning 
work. And by this time you must be well 
aware that the seat in question was at my win- 



250 The Heroine in Bronze 

dows opening toward the west and south, with 
the vast scene of the city below and the vaster 
scene of the twilight sky arched above. But 
whether the Evening Star and the New Moon 
were together in the clear welkin or were shut 
away from mortal ken by cloud I do not know. 
Nor how long I sat there do I know. When 
consciousness of time and place and circumstance 
returned to me, my rooms were in darkness and 
my pipe cold in my hand. It may have gone 
out quickly ; it may never have been lighted. 

I got up, and groping my way to my writing 
desk, lighted my lamp. And for a while I sat 
there with a certain overwhelming realization 
of the mystery and power of the uttered word. 
There before me were a few drops of ink and a 
pen point and a sheet of white paper, and with a 
few movements of the fingers one some of 
the earth's great ones could trace backward 
and forward a few simple markings that would 
bow many a head in tears, send laughter into 
a million hearts, and in a moment's writing 
leave his name writ for ages. That was not for 
me; but what was for me was the certainty 



The Getting Home 251 

that my words would go straight to one heart 
and there be poisoned arrows or the wings of 
faith. 

How serene and clear the lamplight fell on 
my paper ! I glanced up at the little statue of 
bronze. To my imagination her whole figure 
seemed conscious of the battle about to begin; 
it quivered with eagerness; all the features 
were tense with excitement; but the smile 
could not conceal lines of anxiety; under the 
eyes were shadows of solicitude. 

My mind ranged backward to old ages when 
on the eve of great events images took part; 
statues gave a sign; marble dripped with the 
sweat of agony; bronze oozed with the blood 
of suffering ; on some altar the figure of a saint 
beckoned or waved off ; at some shrine the eyes 
of a divinity were seen to move to the right or 
to the left. 

I asked for no miracle in my realistic lodgings. 
Always I had felt that were I a taker of snuff, 
I should take snuff to make me honestly sneeze, 
and not snuff that would lead me to wink even 
at miracles. On the eve of my battle my statue 



252 The Heroine in Bronze 

gave no sign that was superhuman. Only the 
signs that were human. And I asked of it noth 
ing more heavenly than innocence, more angelic 
than trust, more immortal than constancy. 

I set to work. It must have been toward 
midnight that I was impelled to lay down my 
pen and look at my own hand in wonderment 
that it could write words so brutal so bru 
tally true. I got up and walked the floor. 
Could not the end be softened, be changed? 
Must I go to her on a mission of life's concord, 
bearing a missile of life's war? How could it 
be that a mere creature of my own imagination 
a girl in a book should have such authority 
that I myself had no right to change her? 
Must a mere fancy mar life's greatest plan? 
Long I walked the floor; then coming back to 
my work I wrote it down as it had to be, as a 
mason hews his block to the straight line, as 
the stonecutter drives his chisel into granite. 

It was done. I leaned back in my chair. 
The hour must have been long past midnight. 
I suddenly became aware that the light around 
me and before me was gradually dying out. 



The Getting Home 253 

I looked up at the little figure of bronze. Her 
lamp was empty; the last drops of oil in the 
bowl had already passed into the wick and were 
being drawn toward the name. Lower and 
lower sank the final radiance. I bent quickly 
forward and fixed my eyes on the shadowy 
features of that patient keeper of my light. 
The marks of the struggle through which she 
had passed told on her; she looked weary; 
she asked to be released. In the words of 
Renan when his own end drew near she seemed 
to say : 

"I have earned my rest." 

"Then you shall rest!" I murmured within 
myself. " Never again shall your light be 
kindled for any other labor." 

The bluish ghost of flame on the wick went 
out, leaving the room in darkness. Groping 
my way to my bedside, I lighted my candle, 
and returning with it to the desk, set it on one 
side near the darkened statuette. Then I went 
to a drawer and took out the white scarf she 
had left with me that morning of farewell. 
Shaking this softly out, I returned with it and 



254 The Heroine in Bronze 

seated myself at the desk, with my eyes on the 
bronze : 

"Spirit of my Lamp, your vigils are over! 
Guest of constancy and sweetness, of grace and 
light, you did your part ! And now, protectress 
of my thoughts, nymph of the heart's clear run, 
warrior maid of the spirit's battle, steady bea 
con beside imagination's uncharted sea, narcissus 
flower that never drooped for drought, farewell ! 
If the elements of which thou are wrought 
allow thee any share in the balm of sleep, then 
sleep thou thus, wrapt in the snows of purity." 

I lifted the statue from her pedestal and began 
softly to wind the scarf about her. I began 
at the feet and wound upward around the waist, 
up to the shoulders, about the neck, across the 
lips until only the eyes were visible. Bending 
over and looking into these, I said : 

"Farewell!" 

I drew the mists of oblivion across her eyes 
and wove the frost of forgetfulness about her 
head till she was seen no more. 

I awoke next morning as the east was begin 
ning to flush rose color with the dawn, and as 



The Getting Home 255 

the light streamed into my room, I remembered 
how upon such a morning about a year before 
I had awakened with my first thought of the 
story; how I had hurried across the city to 
announce it to her. Now on the afternoon of 
this day I was to go to her and read the end. 

It was another masterpiece of a day nature 
is prodigal of masterworks. Out on the ocean 
blue waves were dancing; inland from the 
ocean ran the clean Hudson toward its mountains, 
capped with blue waves. That day steamers 
would be leaving for Europe, yachts would 
spread their snowy sail on the river. 

June ! the month of the colleges, the month 
of the nation's youth ! all over the land between 
its two oceans, from palmetto to pine, the col 
leges were making ready for their closing exer 
cises. Wherever in city or town or in rural 
seclusion there was one, eager preparations 
were going forward for Commencement Day 
that day when the army of the young would 
be turned out into the vaster army of the old, 
to mingle with them, to work with them, to 
fight against them; to find out each other, to 



256 The Heroine in Bronze 

combine to make a new world, a new nation. 
And from thousands and thousands and thou 
sands of homes all over the Republic how many 
thoughts turned toward these colleges ! with 
what hopes, prayers, solicitudes, prides ! All 
the future would on that day center about one 
figure the vestal of the college. Somehow 
the destinies of the land, its strength, its might, 
its power, announced themselves as dependent 
upon her with all her frailty : what she was, the 
nation was ; what she would be, the nation would 
be. Unless she were high, it would never be 
high; it could never rise beyond her elevation. 

It was the Nation's Month of the Vestal and 
the Rose. 

All day I remained in my rooms, touching and 
retouching the last pages. As the day waned I 
left my apartments, descended to the street, 
and started across the city. As I moved among 
thousands, an ordinary unnoticeable passer, 
giving no sign of the tragedy within me, I could 
but think that brushing against my shoulder 
perhaps were others as ordinary, as unnotice 
able, who as successfully hid their tragedies. 



The Getting Home 257 

From beside me another youth's story may 
have started on a journey that led him to blue- 
based, purple-aired Capri; another's may have 
journeyed to the Cedars of Lebanon ; another's 
may have found its perfume in the Desert of 
Arabia. 

The sun was low when I reached the house. 
The house was very quiet. I was received 
with the air that no one else was to be admitted. 
I went through the hall to the veranda, and 
stepping out saw her across the garden. The 
yard was already in half shadow. As if instinc 
tively, she had taken refuge in that nook of the 
wall where the marble seat was and the ivy and 
the rose bush now in full bloom. There it was 
that I had announced to her tidings from my 
masterwork ; it was no masterwork now. 

As I walked toward her, she rose and awaited 
me with I know not what marvellous blending of 
her girlhood and her womanliness. Both were 
speaking in her eyes, both were speaking to me, 
both said : 

"Be gentle with me!" 

But we greeted each other, I think, without 



258 The Heroine in Bronze 

a word. Of that I am not positive. I do not 
know what took place, what we said, how we 
acted. I do remember that before I began to 
read some effort was made to warn her : 

"There are things here you will not like. 
They will hurt you, they may offend you. I 
am sorry they had to be thus." 

She bent her head in acquiescence as though 
she already knew what to expect. 

No sooner had I begun to read than I grew 
calm. Trepidation is for life's lesser things. 
Facing the inevitable, the final, it is easy to be 
calm. But I think this very quietness in me 
increased her emotion. There was little out 
ward sign. The stillness of the marble was 
scarcely more absolute than hers. Emotion 
expressed itself only in her hands, the dumb 
tragedy of the hands. 

I finished. She sat in silence, I waited in 
silence. Then I turned to her : 

"That is the end of it all. And now I have 
waited long. I will wait no longer. You must 
decide." 

She did not reply, and I turned from her. Her 



The Getting Home 259 

light touch was on my arm. With a long, quiver 
ing breath she bent away from me toward the 
rose bush and began to search it over, looking 
among its blossoms for one that responded to 
her mood and meaning. Her eyes at last found 
one, and with a sign in them to me she drew 
my attention to it ; it was half opened, flawless. 
At sunrise it had been a bud, to-morrow it would 
be a full rose. With her whole attention turned 
to it she said : 

"Break it!" 

Thinking that she wished to avoid the thorns, 
I got up and broke it off, and returning to my 
seat, handed it to her. With her eyes fixed on 
it she shook her head, declining to receive it : 

"Tear it to pieces !" 

I looked at her, at a loss to understand a 
request so idle, whimsical, grotesque. It was 
too small a thing for me to do. She repeated 
her words with sad intensity : 

"Tear it to pieces!" 

I now discovered that there was that in her 
mood and meaning which was grave and sacred 
to her ; and awkwardly, unwillingly I acted 



260 The Heroine in Bronze 

the part she imposed upon me ; the petals lay 
strewn on the ground before us. She leaned 
over and looked down at them with that same 
expression of mystical sincerity which often 
came to her face : 

"Grind them back into the dust !" 
I would not. She repeated her words almost 
as a prayer : 

"Crush them back into the earth !" 
I did so. I had come to realize that her na 
ture at that moment had need to face life's 
possible cruelty, swift pathos, irretrievable 
ruin. 

For a while she looked down upon the ruin. 
Then as if withdrawing herself from such a 
scene, as if the symbol had sufficed, and she 
could now turn from it to safety she said in a 
voice that seemed to put an end to a long un 
certain story : 
"Put your hands together." 
I placed palm against palm. 
She pressed together her own palms and laid 
them between mine surrendered. And the 
whole stem of her delicate life now too storm- 



The Getting Home 261 

shaken to stand alone, her head sank lower 
until it touched my shoulder there to rest: 
there her eyes were hidden. 

"Muriel!" 

"Donald!" 

A low, long-famished cry to her and locked 
embraced. 

But what to her signified the destruction of 
the rose has always been her secret. Many 
mysteries in herself I have never sought to 
probe. Sometimes I thought that it was her 
comment on the fate of the heroine of the story ; 
that she, too trustful, had been broken from 
the parent stem, torn to pieces by life's vio 
lence and scattered by storm. Sometimes it 
has rather seemed that she was thinking not of 
the heroine of the story, but of girlhood itself 
girlhood that is radiant for its brief day and ends 
with marriage. The sun goes down, and it sur 
renders itself to love as the only guide, to enter 
darkness with it in search of happiness and in 
hope of a morning light. 



262 The Heroine in Bronze 

This, then, is a plodding narrative of how an 
imagined masterwork by a youth turned out to 
be no masterwork at all, and how its author 
passed from a state of grace to a state of gra- 
ciousness. 

The book was brought out that autumn under 
the title of In Years Gone By. More appro 
priately the title might have been In Ears Gone 
By; for while it came into existence, the main 
fact in the life of its author was the possession 
of a pair of terrified ears : terrified by what she 
said and much more terrified by what she re 
fused to say; so that when finally he ceased 
to hear the one and began to hear the other, it 
was as though his own ears also were by-gone 
and a new set of auriculars had emerged to equip 
his domelike and much-relieved laboratory. 

However this may be, the book was brought 
out, and the publishers, by the practice 
of those black arts of which they are such 
masters, persuaded the world to try me again, 
and the world having tried me again, decided 
that while the story was not just what it wanted, 
neither was it just what it did not want. But 



The Getting Home 263 

already it had become a hope of mine some day 
to write a book which, by day while not reading 
it, would so bedevil a man with the delusion 
that it was interesting, and by night when he 
was reading it so deaden him with the certainty 
of its being dull, that it would thus serve two 
useful ends: to hurry its reader into slumber 
when he should be asleep and help him to stay 
awake when he must keep his eyes open. I 
seemed to have succeeded sooner than I had 
hoped. But however that may be again, out 
of a widespread uncertainty of mind in the 
reading public I reaped my harvest from a 
field where all those who bought were wheat 
and all those who did not buy were tares : and 
how I did lament the tares ! They were so 
needlessly numerous. 

And thus to the amazement of both my pub 
lisher and myself each of us did well in point of 
avarice, though I still think the world did better 
in the matter of generosity. And all this was 
so astounding to my friends likewise that they 
could scarcely credit their own congratulations; 
whereupon one midwinter night, when there 



264 The Heroine in Bronze 

was snow on all roofs, my ugly mugs and 
dishes came down from the shelf with a clatter 
and a rattle; and a Welsh rabbit party was 
uproariously given by way of demonstration 
that the host was himself no literary rabbit. 
But my friends are like every other man's 
friends : if you succeed, they come and declare 
that it was what they always foresaw; and if 
you fail, they go to one another and whisper that 
it was what they long expected. 

The first week in January, one day an office 
boy appeared at my door actually ! with 
the publisher's note of felicitation, and with his 
check which ran toward many thousands and 
really ran past a few of them. When the boy 
was gone and the check had been judiciously 
scrutinized, forthwith I got out my gold-plated 
card receiver and with great pompous show of 
being both myself and my own butler, I bore 
it toward the author seated at his desk as though 
it were a peacock roasted in its feathers of blue 
and green and gold : blue for the heaven and 
green for the earth and gold for treasure. Then 
I clapped on my hat and hurried down-town and 



The Getting Home 265 

thrust the check under the grating of that little 
wicket where the paying teller, my old financial 
foe, stood cynical and adverse. He received 
it with his prearranged scorn and scanned it 
with contumely ; but then glanced up and bade 
me a civil, commercial good morning the 
only morning as respects me that had ever 
seemed good to him. 

I returned to my apartment, and summoning 
the superintendent, I leased one of the large 
marriageable apartments at the front of the 
building; and thus by a process of both con 
tracting and expanding, I passed from the house 
of commons to the house of lords. 

In June we were married. 

For the wedding journey she said she would 
like to go to my country, and thither we went 
and saw it when it is loveliest. She insisted 
upon seeing the place where I was born, where 
I had been "a little fellow" ; and she must be 
driven to a certain spot where once had been a 
fence and blackberry bushes. It was all changed 
now : no fence, no bushes, no little fellow, only 
the same sunlight. No inducements availed 



266 The Heroine in Bronze 

with her to be driven to that great lawn and 
forest where the other "little fellow" lived 
still though not there now and actually at 
that time in Europe on her own wedding jour 
ney. "I do not wish to see it," she said, "not 
her nor anything that is hers." As we started 
northward again and had reached the boundary, 
she looked from the car window a long time at 
the disappearing landscape : 

"Never again ! I wish it to be always on the 
dim border of my thoughts. After all, you did 
come out of my land of dreams." 

In the autumn she came to live with me in 
the married apartment, and I turned over to 
her my family plate, whereat she greatly 
marveled. 

And soon thereafter I set about the writing 
of my first masterpiece ! With her as my 
counselor I place no bounds to what that work 
may become. If I did well without her and 
despite her, surely with her aid I shall work 
some of those wonders which sometimes strangely 
emanate from authors who have wives. So 
that she seems likely to be one of the most 



The Getting Home 267 

celebrated of uncelebrated women the spouse 
of a genius : if Nature had only made him one. 

Our lives were united, aside from literary 
masterpieces, as compactly as half a splendid 
red winter apple is joined to the other half of 
the apple. 

And now before the Shears of Silence clip the 
threads which have woven this piece of life's 
tapestry and are near the margin of the canvas, 
let the shuttle be cast to and fro a little longer to 
depict one final scene that the last radiance 
of the whole picture may be left to rest on her. 

One cool twilight of last summer we walked 
out on the veranda and down into the yard. 
The heir of the house and heir of my royalties 
was already out there in the twilight. His 
nurse occupied the marble seat, nurses sooner 
or later always get the best seats out of doors, 
and she was slowly pushing to and fro the small, 
white, silken barge on which the heir slept; 
he being still at the head waters of the River of 
Time. I feel some hesitancy in thus referring 
to him as heir to my royalties for the reason 



268 The Heroine in Bronze 

that the servants of that narrow-minded, big 
oted household uniformly speak of him and 
rejoice in him as the Commodore's grandson. 
To them I am that strange being they call The 
Writer ; and as to what this may comprise they 
are most uncertain, the butler once on the eve 
of an election having asked me whether I had 
a vote. As for my paternal activities I am to 
them merely the negligible means in the hands 
of Providence by which the progeny of the 
Commodore are to be made to appear on the 
earth and celebrate the existence of their grand 
father. 

As we drew near, the nurse yielded the nook 
to us and started across the yard, the little, 
white, silken barge beginning to flutter softly 
like some enormous moth. We halted it and 
stood one on each side. I do not know what 
was in his mother's mind, what his father was 
thinking how perilously near he several times 
had come to never being born; how a word 
more than once had nearly pushed him back 
from the created universe; how one of his 
mother's zephyrlike sighs or one of his father's 



The Getting Home 269 

groans audible in any adjoining apartment was 
well-nigh a veto on his existence. 

How many after a few years of marriage 
still cherish against each other some grievance 
which belonged to the quarrels of their court 
ship, who secretly revolve some mystery in the 
character of each other which later acquaint 
anceship has not cleared away. In too many 
cases possibly such grievances, such mysteries, 
create their later tragedies. Certainly it must 
be true that such grievances dislike to come out, 
but, then, they dislike to stay in ; and so there is 
irritation because they cannot do both and are 
of a mind to do neither : until some unexpected 
moment arrives and then the exposure, the 
explosion. 

We sat awhile in silence: I smoked, she did 
nothing that last test of the perfect happi 
ness of two people with one another. Young 
wife, young mother, maturing woman, she sat 
there enthroned in peace, draped in the security 
of her life. And once as I glanced at her, I 
craved for myself that absolute rest of mind 
also : and then all at once an old grievance rolled 
out: 



270 The Heroine in Bronze 

"What was the mystery about the book? 
You said repeatedly that it would be a test; 
that when it was finished, you would know me 
better. How was it a test? How through it 
did you know me better?" 

A smile such as I had never seen came out 
upon her face. It was as though something 
long awaited had arrived at last : t 

"You have kept that to yourself a long time. 
How can a woman answer a question that has 
never been asked ? If you had inquired sooner, 
you might have understood sooner. And then 
how can one force the attention of a man upon 
himself ; and all this will compel you to employ 
your thoughts upon yourself." 

While I waited for her to begin her story 
I could but notice with how deep a pleasure it 
was going to be told ; whenever anything filled 
her with pleasure, she seemed to glow as though 
lighted from within a lamp of alabaster trans 
lucent with white spiritual flame : 

"One morning you came to me and told me 
a wonderful story of your first masterwork. 
The subject offended me. As far as you could 



The Getting Home 271 

foresee, if you wrote it, I would give you up. 
Virtually I told you at once to choose between 
me and the story. You stood by the story. 
If you had given up the story for me, I might 
have been gratified at the moment, but after 
wards I would never have had anything more 
to do with you. A man's work not work that 
is forced on him, but the work that he deliber 
ately chooses to do must be first with him 
because his chosen work is his character. A 
man's love of a woman is not his character. 
Love of women comes to men of all characters ; 
but a man's ideal work is himself, and if a man 
be false to that, then he can be false to anything. 
Falseness is falseness; if you are false at all, 
you may be false all through. That was the 
test at the outset. If you had sacrificed your 
work for me, then afterwards you might have 
sacrificed me for something else. If you had 
sacrificed your work, you would have sacrificed 
yourself; and if you could sacrifice yourself, 
then I did not want you. You let me go and 
stood to your work, stood true to yourself ; 
and though it hurt me at the time more than 



272 The Heroine in Bronze 

you can ever know, this was the turning point : 
from that moment you drew me to you." 

She was telling her story quite as though I 
were not listening, quite as though she were 
going over in memory her own past : 

"Later, another trouble came up about the 
book. This time it was something that I kept 
to myself : I did not wish you to understand the 
nature of it; I had my reason and the reason 
seemed to me absolutely good. I would not 
explain. This offended you and you sought 
to withdraw yourself and your work. You 
believed you were right and that I was wrong, 
and again you stood to your right and left me 
to the consequences of my error. You would not 
stop for what you could not understand; and 
that to me is one of life's greatest tests : to live 
in the light of all that you see and to let the 
unseen take care of itself. I suppose people go 
to pieces many a time over things in others 
that they cannot understand. Then once more 
the book began to fail, and I knew I could help 
you and you would not permit me to help. 
You threw it back upon yourself to know your 



The Getting Home 273 

work as well as I knew it, as well as any one 
could know it. You would not receive from me 
a single suggestion, even to save the book from 
being a failure. That was another test, a 
man's mastery of what he sets out, to do: it is 
perfectly true that if he cannot do his work, no 
one else can do it for him. And then the last 
test of all ! The end of the book was like an 
arraignment of me; it was like a judgment 
passed on me for my own traits of character; 
and you came to read it to me at a moment when 
you most desired to inflict no wound, to make me 
happy and to win me. But you adhered to the 
true course of your story: you stood by the 
heroine there and not by the heroine here. 
And I liked you best of all for that. If you 
had changed your work at its finish with any 
thought of me, you would have lowered yourself 
at the very instant when I wanted to see you 
highest." 

A long silence fell on us. She broke it with 
one of those humorous transitions which mark 
the equipoise of her character, its breadth, its 
balance : 



274 The Heroine in Bronze 

"Of course I should not speak of these things 
were it not about a piece of my own property. 
I am merely discussing my own property ; and 
it is a misfortune that the piece of property 
happens to be conscious and is obliged to over 
hear what is said." 

The piece of property did not object to being 
conscious, even though wooden. Still, to him 
the mystery had not wholly disappeared ; one 
darkest spot yet remained : 

"All this is very well as far as it goes. But 
the very heart of the trouble has not yet been 
reached: everything is now clear enough as 
regards me. But as to yourself: what was the 
unknown trouble? What was it that you re 
fused to explain? I have always believed that 
it related to the heroine of the story." 

"It did relate to her." 

"But in what way?" 

"I objected to the presence of such a heroine 
in a story." 

"But why?" 

"Because 7 was the heroine." 

I turned to her with blank stupefaction : 



The Getting Home 275 

"How could you possibly be the heroine of a 
story laid in the time of my grandmother 
three-quarters of a century ago in an old 
Southern seminary, nearly a thousand miles 
away?" 

"You transported me in time and place 
that is all." 

I pondered this new difficulty : 

"If I had written a story about Helen of 
Troy, would you have supposed yourself the 
heroine of that?" 

"It would have been my only chance to be 
Helen of Troy." 

"Do you possibly think yourself the heroine 
of the next book I am going to write of the 
one that I have not yet imagined ? " 

"There is not a doubt of it." 

"Do you expect to be the heroine of all the 
rest of them that I am to write?" 

"I do." 

"You mean that I have not only married 
you, but I am actually the husband of all my 
own heroines ? " 

"What a lucky husband !" 



276 The Heroine in Bronze 

"But you seem to glory in it, to demand it as 
a right." 

"I should not wonder." 

"And so you began by being offended at the 
idea of being the first heroine and you conclude 
by exacting that you be all the heroines." 

"Let any other woman dare !" 

"And so whatever I may write, it will always 
be of you?" 

"Did you not yourself once send me a Book 
of the Year made up of daily stories ; and did 
you not then say that I was in every story, that 
you always displaced the actor in each and put 
me in the actor's place? Alas for the vows of 
the young lover when they are translated into 
the deeds of a young husband ! You have al 
ready forgotten !" 

I went back over this whole troublous field 
and uttered my protest : 

"But this leaves me at my wit's end. The 
inconsistency of it all ! What are you going 
to do about the inconsistency?" 

She was radiant with enjoyment of the situa 
tion. There was almost the taunt of coquetry 



The Getting Home 277 

in her, for though as a girl she had revealed no 
touch of coquetry, as a young wife she was full 
of it. She now appeared to have brought the 
issue to a quarter of the battle field where she 
was sure of victory : 

"I am not going to do anything about the 
inconsistency ! That is the beauty of incon 
sistency that if you try to change it, you 
destroy it. What would life be without it? 
We might as well be bees, doomed to make 
only wax and fill it forever with honey. But 
only bees can abide with wax and honey. True, 
they fight, but then it must be when one con 
sistency runs against another consistency: it 
is a fight between two consistencies, each bent 
upon being consistent. In human life we make 
room for inconsistency ! " 

"That is a very fine theory of cloying sweet 
ness for wives," I said, "but I wonder how it 
would work out in practice for husbands. 
Would this scheme allow room for husbands?" 

"Ample room ! Ample or not, it is the only 
scheme for us to work with." 

She was laughing at me. She reigned abso- 



278 The Heroine in Bronze 

lute on the throne of woman's inconsistency, 
and even struck me on the head with her sceptre. 
After a few moments of reflection I wondered 
whether I might cast an instantaneous shadow 
on that luminous nature for the sake of with 
drawing the shadow and showing a steady light 
shining behind; might I be unkind for a mo 
ment, to demonstrate the nature of kindness? 
Slowly as though the words were torn from me 
with reluctance, I said : 

"What you have told me now brushes the 
mystery away: it is all clear light in whatso 
ever direction I look. That is your side. On 
my side there is something that you have never 
suspected. With you it has been an explanation, 
with me it will have to be a confession." 

That word fell as a chill on the twilight of 
the garden. It seemed to come out of darkness, 
to be a messenger of night, of things not seen. 
I said nothing more. I gave the evil charm time 
to work. The silence grew more intense, and 
I would not break it. At last I heard her voice 
at a greater distance from my ear for she 
had moved away from me: 



The Getting Home 279 

"What is the confession ?" 

I made no reply. I could feel fear taking 
possession of her. She said again in such a 
voice as I could not have believed to be hers : 

"I am waiting to hear." 

But I kept silent and turned away from her 
on the seat. She sprang up and came around 
on the other side of me and sat close that her 
eyes might read my features through the gloom. 
And again her tones, now tremulous, broken 
with dread and anguish : 

"I will know!" 

I began, moving away from her and turning 
my face off : 

"Then you shall know. The day you left 
me to go to Europe, you remember that you 
left me rejected, dismissed without reason. 
And I am human. It was more than I could 
endure. And I found another. And it was 
she who that long summer shared my loneliness. 
It was she who smiled, she who cheered me when 
I was discouraged and rested me when I was 
worn out. You have insisted that there was 
a heroine in that story. There was none in the 



280 The Heroine in Bronze 

sense you mean. There was one in the sense I 
mean : and you were not that heroine, she was 
the heroine. When I married you, I was false 
enough to forget her. Now, I begin to remem 
ber her again. That is my confession." 

I leaned over and looked into her face : it 
was white with terror. For a while she sat 
quite still, gazing simply out into the night. 
An incredible transformation had taken place 
in her : her face became the face of her girlhood : 
marriage had dropped away from her; she had 
repudiated it and me and her child; she was 
back in her girlhood, having fled from the pres 
ent to the safety of her past. 

Then without a word she suddenly started 
up and slipped swiftly away through the twi 
light and her white figure disappeared across 
the yard : unconsciously she took the direction 
that led her out of her father's home through 
the servant's gate : the difference between ser 
vant and mistress had been blotted out to her 
in her stricken humanity. 

I followed and found her at home, lying face 
downward on her couch it had been the couch 



The Getting Home 281 

of her girlhood wounded beyond her strength 
to bear, cold and shuddering. 

I lifted her, and, supporting her, led her into 
another room where I had stored some bachelor 
belongings. 

And there, taking down that image of herself 
from which all her mistakes and weaknesses 
had been refined away, leaving only those traits 
of her nature which I had always held to and 
which I believed would never fail me, I unveiled 
for her, hidden in the white mists of her scarf, 
the heroine in bronze. 



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OTHER NOVELS BY JAMES LANE ALLEN 

The Doctor's Christmas Eve 

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The propelling force which moves the characters to action and 
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The Bride of the Mistletoe 

Cloth, izmo, $1.25 

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A Kentucky Cardinal cioth, i 2m o, $1.00 

Aftermath. A sequel to A Kentucky Cardinal " 

Cloth, i2mo, $1.00 

Both of the above in one volume. Illustrated by Hugh Thomson. 

Cloth, gilt top, 8vo, $2.50 

" With the publication of ' A Kentucky Cardinal ' and ' After 
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beauty of the world which forever foils the sense while it 
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The Choir Invisible 

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The Reign of Law. A Tale of the Kentucky Hempfields 

" Mr. Allen has a style as original and almost as perfectly finished as Haw 
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Shorter Stories 

The Blue Grass Region of Kentucky. $1.50 

Flute and Violin, and Other Kentucky Tales. $1.50 

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1034 Allen - 
H45 The heroine 
In bronze . 



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