The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница

bother my former friends.' But I need no charity calls, and no criticism

disguised as good advice--" Then he added apologetically: "I'm

sorry--but really, Muriel, you mustn't talk like a lady slum-worker even

if you are visiting the lower middle classes." He turned his bloodshot

eyes on her reproachfully--eyes that had once been a deep, clear blue,

that were weak now, strained, and half-ruined from reading when he

was drunk.

"Why do you say such awful things?" she protested. You talk as if you

and Gloria were in the middle classes."

"Why pretend we're not? I hate people who claim The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница to be great aristocrats

when they can't even keep up the appearances of it."

"Do you think a person has to have money to be aristocratic?"

Muriel ... the horrified democrat ...!

"Why, of course. Aristocracy's only an admission that certain traits

which we call fine--courage and honor and beauty and all that sort of

thing--can best be developed in a favorable environment, where you don't

have the warpings of ignorance and necessity."

Muriel bit her lower lip and waved her head from side to side.

"Well, all _I_ say is that if a person comes from a good family The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница they're

always nice people. That's the trouble with you and Gloria. You think

that just because things aren't going your way right now all your old

friends are trying to avoid you. You're too sensitive--"

"As a matter of fact," said Anthony, "you know nothing at all about it.

With me it's simply a matter of pride, and for once Gloria's reasonable

enough to agree that we oughtn't go where we're not wanted. And people

don't want us. We're too much the ideal bad examples."

"Nonsense! You can't park your pessimism in my The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница little sun parlor. I

think you ought to forget all those morbid speculations and go to work."

"Here I am, thirty-two. Suppose I did start in at some idiotic business.

Perhaps in two years I might rise to fifty dollars a week--with luck.

That's _if_ I could get a job at all; there's an awful lot of

unemployment. Well, suppose I made fifty a week. Do you think I'd be any

happier? Do you think that if I don't get this money of my grandfather's

life will be _endurable?_"

Muriel smiled complacently.

"Well," she said, "that may The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница be clever but it isn't common sense."

A few minutes later Gloria came in seeming to bring with her into the

room some dark color, indeterminate and rare. In a taciturn way she was

happy to see Muriel. She greeted Anthony with a casual "Hi!"

"I've been talking philosophy with your husband," cried the

irrepressible Miss Kane.

"We took up some fundamental concepts," said Anthony, a faint smile

disturbing his pale cheeks, paler still under two days' growth of beard.

Oblivious to his irony Muriel rehashed her contention. When she had

done, Gloria said quietly:

"Anthony's right. It The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница's no fun to go around when you have the sense that

people are looking at you in a certain way."

He broke in plaintively:

"Don't you think that when even Maury Noble, who was my best friend,

won't come to see us it's high time to stop calling people up?" Tears

were standing in his eyes.

"That was your fault about Maury Noble," said Gloria coolly.

"It wasn't."

"It most certainly was."

Muriel intervened quickly:

"I met a girl who knew Maury, the other day, and she says he doesn't

drink any more. He's getting pretty cagey."

"Doesn The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница't?"

"Practically not at all. He's making _piles_ of money. He's sort of

changed since the war. He's going to marry a girl in Philadelphia who

has millions, Ceci Larrabee--anyhow, that's what Town Tattle said."

"He's thirty-three," said Anthony, thinking aloud. But it's odd to

imagine his getting married. I used to think he was so brilliant."



"He was," murmured Gloria, "in a way."

"But brilliant people don't settle down in business--or do they? Or what

do they do? Or what becomes of everybody you used to know and have so

much in common The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница with?"

"You drift apart," suggested Muriel with the appropriate dreamy look.

"They change," said Gloria. "All the qualities that they don't use in

their daily lives get cobwebbed up."

"The last thing he said to me," recollected Anthony, "was that he was

going to work so as to forget that there was nothing worth working for."

Muriel caught at this quickly.

"That's what _you_ ought to do," she exclaimed triumphantly. "Of course

I shouldn't think anybody would want to work for nothing. But it'd give

you something to do. What do you do with yourselves, anyway? Nobody ever

sees you The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница at Montmartre or--or anywhere. Are you economizing?"

Gloria laughed scornfully, glancing at Anthony from the corners of her

eyes.

"Well," he demanded, "what are you laughing at?" "You know what I'm

laughing at," she answered coldly.

"At that case of whiskey?"

"Yes"--she turned to Muriel--"he paid seventy-five dollars for a case of

whiskey yesterday."

"What if I did? It's cheaper that way than if you get it by the bottle.

You needn't pretend that you won't drink any of it."

"At least I don't drink in the daytime."

"That's a fine distinction The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница!" he cried, springing to his feet in a weak

rage. "What's more, I'll be damned if you can hurl that at me every

few minutes!"

"It's true."

"It is _not!_ And I'm getting sick of this eternal business of

criticising me before visitors!" He had worked himself up to such a

state that his arms and shoulders were visibly trembling. "You'd think

everything was my fault. You'd think you hadn't encouraged me to spend

money--and spent a lot more on yourself than I ever did by a long shot."

Now Gloria rose to her The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница feet.

"I _won't_ let you talk to me that way!"

"All right, then; by Heaven, you don't have to!"

In a sort of rush he left the room. The two women heard his steps in the

hall and then the front door banged. Gloria sank back into her chair.

Her face was lovely in the lamplight, composed, inscrutable.

"Oh--!" cried Muriel in distress. "Oh, what _is_ the matter?"

"Nothing particularly. He's just drunk."

"Drunk? Why, he's perfectly sober. He talked----"

Gloria shook her head.

"Oh, no, he doesn't show it any more unless he can hardly stand The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница up, and

he talks all right until he gets excited. He talks much better than he

does when he's sober. But he's been sitting here all day

drinking--except for the time it took him to walk to the corner for a

newspaper."

"Oh, how terrible!" Muriel was sincerely moved. Her eyes filled with

tears. "Has this happened much?"

"Drinking, you mean?"

"No, this--leaving you?"

"Oh, yes. Frequently. He'll come in about midnight--and weep and ask me

to forgive him."

"And do you?"

"I don't know. We just go on."

The two women sat there in the lamplight The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница and looked at each other, each

in a different way helpless before this thing. Gloria was still pretty,

as pretty as she would ever be again--her cheeks were flushed and she

was wearing a new dress that she had bought--imprudently--for fifty

dollars. She had hoped she could persuade Anthony to take her out

to-night, to a restaurant or even to one of the great, gorgeous moving

picture palaces where there would be a few people to look at her, at

whom she could bear to look in turn. She wanted this because she knew

her cheeks were flushed and because her dress was The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница new and becomingly

fragile. Only very occasionally, now, did they receive any invitations.

But she did not tell these things to Muriel.

"Gloria, dear, I wish we could have dinner together, but I promised a

man and it's seven-thirty already. I've got to _tear_."

"Oh, I couldn't, anyway. In the first place I've been ill all day. I

couldn't eat a thing."

After she had walked with Muriel to the door, Gloria came back into the

room, turned out the lamp, and leaning her elbows on the window sill

looked out at Palisades Park, where the The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница brilliant revolving circle of

the Ferris wheel was like a trembling mirror catching the yellow

reflection of the moon. The street was quiet now; the children had gone

in--over the way she could see a family at dinner. Pointlessly,

ridiculously, they rose and walked about the table; seen thus, all that

they did appeared incongruous--it was as though they were being jiggled

carelessly and to no purpose by invisible overhead wires.

She looked at her watch--it was eight o'clock. She had been pleased for

a part of the day--the early afternoon--in walking along that Broadway

of Harlem, One Hundred and Twenty The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница-fifth Street, with her nostrils alert

to many odors, and her mind excited by the extraordinary beauty of some

Italian children. It affected her curiously--as Fifth Avenue had

affected her once, in the days when, with the placid confidence of

beauty, she had known that it was all hers, every shop and all it held,

every adult toy glittering in a window, all hers for the asking. Here on

One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street there were Salvation Army bands and

spectrum-shawled old ladies on door-steps and sugary, sticky candy in

the grimy hands of shiny-haired children--and the late sun The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница striking down

on the sides of the tall tenements. All very rich and racy and savory,

like a dish by a provident French chef that one could not help enjoying,

even though one knew that the ingredients were probably left-overs....

Gloria shuddered suddenly as a river siren came moaning over the dusky

roofs, and leaning back in till the ghostly curtains fell from her

shoulder, she turned on the electric lamp. It was growing late. She knew

there was some change in her purse, and she considered whether she would

go down and have some coffee and rolls where the liberated subway made a

roaring cave The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница of Manhattan Street or eat the devilled ham and bread in

the kitchen. Her purse decided for her. It contained a nickel and

two pennies.

After an hour the silence of the room had grown unbearable, and she

found that her eyes were wandering from her magazine to the ceiling,

toward which she stared without thought. Suddenly she stood up,

hesitated for a moment, biting at her finger--then she went to the

pantry, took down a bottle of whiskey from the shelf and poured herself

a drink. She filled up the glass with ginger ale, and returning to her

chair finished an The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница article in the magazine. It concerned the last

revolutionary widow, who, when a young girl, had married an ancient

veteran of the Continental Army and who had died in 1906. It seemed

strange and oddly romantic to Gloria that she and this woman had been

contemporaries.

She turned a page and learned that a candidate for Congress was being

accused of atheism by an opponent. Gloria's surprise vanished when she

found that the charges were false. The candidate had merely denied the

miracle of the loaves and fishes. He admitted, under pressure, that he

gave full credence to the stroll upon the water.

Finishing her first drink The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница, Gloria got herself a second. After slipping

on a negligйe and making herself comfortable on the lounge, she became

conscious that she was miserable and that the tears were rolling down

her cheeks. She wondered if they were tears of self-pity, and tried

resolutely not to cry, but this existence without hope, without

happiness, oppressed her, and she kept shaking her head from side to

side, her mouth drawn down tremulously in the corners, as though she

were denying an assertion made by some one, somewhere. She did not know

that this gesture of hers was years older than history, that, for a

hundred generations of men, intolerable The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница and persistent grief has offered

that gesture, of denial, of protest, of bewilderment, to something more

profound, more powerful than the God made in the image of man, and

before which that God, did he exist, would be equally impotent. It is a

truth set at the heart of tragedy that this force never explains, never

answers--this force intangible as air, more definite than death.

RICHARD CARAMEL

Early in the summer Anthony resigned from his last club, the Amsterdam.

He had come to visit it hardly twice a year, and the dues were a

recurrent burden. He had joined it on his return from Italy because The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница it

had been his grandfather's club and his father's, and because it was a

club that, given the opportunity, one indisputably joined--but as a

matter of fact he had preferred the Harvard Club, largely because of

Dick and Maury. However, with the decline of his fortunes, it had seemed

an increasingly desirable bauble to cling to.... It was relinquished at

the last, with some regret....

His companions numbered now a curious dozen. Several of them he had met

in a place called "Sammy's," on Forty-third Street, where, if one

knocked on the door and were favorably passed on from behind a grating The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница,

one could sit around a great round table drinking fairly good whiskey.

It was here that he encountered a man named Parker Allison, who had been

exactly the wrong sort of rounder at Harvard, and who was running

through a large "yeast" fortune as rapidly as possible. Parker Allison's

notion of distinction consisted in driving a noisy red-and-yellow

racing-car up Broadway with two glittering, hard-eyed girls beside him.

He was the sort who dined with two girls rather than with one--his

imagination was almost incapable of sustaining a dialogue.

Besides Allison there was Pete Lytell, who wore a gray The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница derby on the side

of his head. He always had money and he was customarily cheerful, so

Anthony held aimless, long-winded conversation with him through many

afternoons of the summer and fall. Lytell, he found, not only talked but

reasoned in phrases. His philosophy was a series of them, assimilated

here and there through an active, thoughtless life. He had phrases about

Socialism--the immemorial ones; he had phrases pertaining to the

existence of a personal deity--something about one time when he had been

in a railroad accident; and he had phrases about the Irish problem, the

sort of woman he respected, and the The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница futility of prohibition. The only

time his conversation ever rose superior to these muddled clauses, with

which he interpreted the most rococo happenings in a life that had been

more than usually eventful, was when he got down to the detailed

discussion of his most animal existence: he knew, to a subtlety, the

foods, the liquor, and the women that he preferred.

He was at once the commonest and the most remarkable product of

civilization. He was nine out of ten people that one passes on a city

street--and he was a hairless ape with two dozen tricks. He was the hero

of a thousand romances of The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница life and art--and he was a virtual moron,

performing staidly yet absurdly a series of complicated and infinitely

astounding epics over a span of threescore years.

With such men as these two Anthony Patch drank and discussed and drank

and argued. He liked them because they knew nothing about him, because

they lived in the obvious and had not the faintest conception of the

inevitable continuity of life. They sat not before a motion picture with

consecutive reels, but at a musty old-fashioned travelogue with all

values stark and hence all implications confused. Yet they themselves

were not confused, because there was nothing in The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница them to be

confused--they changed phrases from month to month as they

changed neckties.

Anthony, the courteous, the subtle, the perspicacious, was drunk each

day--in Sammy's with these men, in the apartment over a book, some book

he knew, and, very rarely, with Gloria, who, in his eyes, had begun to

develop the unmistakable outlines of a quarrelsome and unreasonable

woman. She was not the Gloria of old, certainly--the Gloria who, had she

been sick, would have preferred to inflict misery upon every one around

her, rather than confess that she needed sympathy or assistance. She was

not above whining now; she was not The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница above being sorry for herself. Each

night when she prepared for bed she smeared her face with some new

unguent which she hoped illogically would give back the glow and

freshness to her vanishing beauty. When Anthony was drunk he taunted her

about this. When he was sober he was polite to her, on occasions even

tender; he seemed to show for short hours a trace of that old quality of

understanding too well to blame--that quality which was the best of him

and had worked swiftly and ceaselessly toward his ruin.

But he hated to be sober. It made him conscious of The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница the people around

him, of that air of struggle, of greedy ambition, of hope more sordid

than despair, of incessant passage up or down, which in every metropolis

is most in evidence through the unstable middle class. Unable to live

with the rich he thought that his next choice would have been to live

with the very poor. Anything was better than this cup of perspiration

and tears.

The sense of the enormous panorama of life, never strong in Anthony, had

become dim almost to extinction. At long intervals now some incident,

some gesture of Gloria's, would take his fancy--but the gray veils had

come down The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница in earnest upon him. As he grew older those things

faded--after that there was wine.

There was a kindliness about intoxication--there was that indescribable

gloss and glamour it gave, like the memories of ephemeral and faded

evenings. After a few high-balls there was magic in the tall glowing

Arabian night of the Bush Terminal Building--its summit a peak of sheer

grandeur, gold and dreaming against the inaccessible sky. And Wall

Street, the crass, the banal--again it was the triumph of gold, a

gorgeous sentient spectacle; it was where the great kings kept the money

for their wars....

... The fruit of youth or of The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница the grape, the transitory magic of the

brief passage from darkness to darkness--the old illusion that truth and

beauty were in some way entwined.

As he stood in front of Delmonico's lighting a cigarette one night he

saw two hansoms drawn up close to the curb, waiting for a chance drunken

fare. The outmoded cabs were worn and dirty--the cracked patent leather

wrinkled like an old man's face, the cushions faded to a brownish

lavender; the very horses were ancient and weary, and so were the

white-haired men who sat aloft, cracking their whips with a grotesque

affectation of gallantry. A The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница relic of vanished gaiety!

Anthony Patch walked away in a sudden fit of depression, pondering the

bitterness of such survivals. There was nothing, it seemed, that grew

stale so soon as pleasure.

On Forty-second Street one afternoon he met Richard Caramel for the

first time in many months, a prosperous, fattening Richard Caramel,

whose face was filling out to match the Bostonian brow.

"Just got in this week from the coast. Was going to call you up, but I

didn't know your new address."

"We've moved."

Richard Caramel noticed that Anthony was wearing a soiled shirt, that

his cuffs were slightly but The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница perceptibly frayed, that his eyes were set

in half-moons the color of cigar smoke.

"So I gathered," he said, fixing his friend with his bright-yellow eye.

"But where and how is Gloria? My God, Anthony, I've been hearing the

dog-gonedest stories about you two even out in California--and when I

get back to New York I find you've sunk absolutely out of sight. Why

don't you pull yourself together?"

"Now, listen," chattered Anthony unsteadily, "I can't stand a long

lecture. We've lost money in a dozen ways, and naturally people have

talked--on account of the The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница lawsuit, but the thing's coming to a final

decision this winter, surely--"

"You're talking so fast that I can't understand you," interrupted Dick

calmly.

"Well, I've said all I'm going to say," snapped Anthony. "Come and see

us if you like--or don't!"

With this he turned and started to walk off in the crowd, but Dick

overtook him immediately and grasped his arm.

"Say, Anthony, don't fly off the handle so easily! You know Gloria's my

cousin, and you're one of my oldest friends, so it's natural for me to

be interested The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница when I hear that you're going to the dogs--and taking her

with you."

"I don't want to be preached to."

"Well, then, all right--How about coming up to my apartment and having a

drink? I've just got settled. I've bought three cases of Gordon gin from

a revenue officer."

As they walked along he continued in a burst of exasperation:

"And how about your grandfather's money--you going to get it?"

"Well," answered Anthony resentfully, "that old fool Haight seems

hopeful, especially because people are tired of reformers right now--you

know it might make a slight difference, for instance The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница, if some judge

thought that Adam Patch made it harder for him to get liquor."

"You can't do without money," said Dick sententiously. "Have you tried

to write any--lately?"

Anthony shook his head silently.

"That's funny," said Dick. "I always thought that you and Maury would

write some day, and now he's grown to be a sort of tight-fisted

aristocrat, and you're--"

"I'm the bad example."

"I wonder why?"

"You probably think you know," suggested Anthony, with an effort at

concentration. "The failure and the success both believe in their hearts

that they have accurately The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница balanced points of view, the success because

he's succeeded, and the failure because he's failed. The successful man

tells his son to profit by his father's good fortune, and the failure

tells _his_ son to profit by his father's mistakes."

"I don't agree with you," said the author of "A Shave-tail in France."

"I used to listen to you and Maury when we were young, and I used to be

impressed because you were so consistently cynical, but now--well, after

all, by God, which of us three has taken to the--to the intellectual

life? I don't want to sound The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница vainglorious, but--it's me, and I've always

believed that moral values existed, and I always will."

"Well," objected Anthony, who was rather enjoying himself, "even

granting that, you know that in practice life never presents problems as

clear cut, does it?"

"It does to me. There's nothing I'd violate certain principles for."

"But how do you know when you're violating them? You have to guess at

things just like most people do. You have to apportion the values when

you look back. You finish up the portrait then--paint in the details

and shadows."

Dick shook his head with a The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница lofty stubbornness. "Same old futile cynic,"

he said. "It's just a mode of being sorry for yourself. You don't do

anything--so nothing matters."

"Oh, I'm quite capable of self-pity," admitted Anthony, "nor am I

claiming that I'm getting as much fun out of life as you are."

"You say--at least you used to--that happiness is the only thing worth

while in life. Do you think you're any happier for being a pessimist?"

Anthony grunted savagely. His pleasure in the conversation began to

wane. He was nervous and craving for a drink.

"My The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница golly!" he cried, "where do you live? I can't keep walking forever."

"Your endurance is all mental, eh?" returned Dick sharply. "Well, I live

right here."

He turned in at the apartment house on Forty-ninth Street, and a few

minutes later they were in a large new room with an open fireplace and

four walls lined with books. A colored butler served them gin rickeys,

and an hour vanished politely with the mellow shortening of their drinks

and the glow of a light mid-autumn fire.

"The arts are very old," said Anthony after a while. With a few glasses

the tension The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница of his nerves relaxed and he found that he could

think again.

"Which art?"

"All of them. Poetry is dying first. It'll be absorbed into prose sooner

or later. For instance, the beautiful word, the colored and glittering

word, and the beautiful simile belong in prose now. To get attention

poetry has got to strain for the unusual word, the harsh, earthy word

that's never been beautiful before. Beauty, as the sum of several

beautiful parts, reached its apotheosis in Swinburne. It can't go any

further--except in the novel, perhaps."

Dick interrupted him impatiently:

"You know these new novels make me tired The Beautiful and Damned 28 страница. My God! Everywhere I go some

silly girl asks me if I've read 'This Side of Paradise.' Are our girls

really like that? If it's true to life, which I don't believe, the next

generation is going to the dogs. I'm sick of all this shoddy realism. I

think there's a place for the romanticist in literature."

Anthony tried to remember what he had read lately of Richard Caramel's.

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