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Full text of "A Story Of The Buried Life Look Homeward Angel"

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LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



MODERN STANDARD AUTHORS 

A STORY OF THE BURIED LIFE 

LOOK HOMEWARD 
ANGEL 

By 
THOMAS WOLFE 

ILLUSTRATED BY DOUGLAS W. GORSLINE 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

MAXWELL E. PERKINS 



CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
NEW YORK 



Copyright 1929, 1947, 1952 
by Charles Scnbner's Sons 

Printed m the 
United States of America 



All rights reserved. No part of this 
book may be reproduced in any form 
without the permission of Charles 
Scnbner's Sons. 



Acknowledgment 

The essay on Thomas Wolfe by Max- 
well E. Perkins is reprinted from the 
Harvard Library Bulletin, Vol. I, 
No. 3 (Autumn 1947), by permission 
of the President and Fellows of Har- 
vard College. 




"Then, as all my soules bee, 
Emparadis'd in you, (in whom alone 
I understand, and grow and see,) 
The rafters of my body, bone 
Being still with you, the Muscle, Smew, and Veine, 
Which tile this house, will come againe." 



THOMAS WOLFE 1 

When in the spring of 1947 William B. Wisdom, of 
New Orleans, presented to the Harvard College Library 
his distinguished collection of Thomas Wolfe, it was at 
once apparent that the person above all others to pro- 
vide an introduction to it was Maxwell E. Perkins, '07, 
of Charles Scribner's Sons, editor of Wolfe's first novels, 
and allied to Wolfe by the closest ties of profession and 
of friendship. Mr. Perkins gladly consented to prepare 
an article; he was engaged upon it at his sudden death 
on 17 June 1947. Although the article was to have 
been expanded by another three thousand words, with 
a more detailed discussion of Wolfe as a person, as it 
stands it has the effect of a self-contained statement. It 
is published as the last writing of Maxwell Perkins and 
as an expression of the memorial which he planned to 
compose to Thomas Wolfe. 



I think that there is not in any one place so nearly complete a collection 
of an author's writings and records as that of Thomas Wolfe's now in 
the Harvard Library. When he died on that sad day in September 1938, 
when war was impending, or soon after that, I learned that I was his 
executor and that he had actually left little as he would have thought, 

1 The article is printed in the form received from Mr. Perkins's secretary two days 
after his death, with some slight modifications m punctuation and with the addition of 
a title. [Note by the Editor of the Harvard Library Bulletin.] 

vii 



Introduction 

and as it seemed then besides his manuscripts. It was my obligation 
to dispose of them to the advantage of his beneficiaries and his memory, 
and though the times were bad, and Wolfe had not then been recog- 
nized as what he now is, I could have sold them commercially, piece- 
meal, through dealers, for more money than they ever brought. I was 
determined that this literary estate should remain a unit, available to 
writers and students, and I tried to sell it as such; but at that time, with 
war clouds gathering and soon bursting, I could find no adequate 
buyer. 

Then Aline Bernstein, to whom Wolfe had given the manuscript 
of Look Homeward, Angel, sold it by auction for the relief of her 
people in misfortune, on the understanding that it would be given to 
Harvard. Not long after that William B. Wisdom, who had recognized 
Wolfe as a writer of genius on the publication of the Angel, and whose 
faith in him had never wavered, offered to purchase all of his manu- 
scripts and records. He had already accumulated a notable collection 
of Wolfiana. His correspondence showed me that he thought as 1 did 
that the point of supreme importance was that these records and writ- 
ings should not be scattered to the four winds, that they be kept intact. 
And so the whole great packing case of material letters, bills, docu- 
ments, notebooks and manuscripts went to him on the stipulation, 
which I never need have asked for, that he would will it all to one 
institution. Since Look Homeward, Angel was already in Harvard, 
since Tom Wolfe had loved the reading room of the Library where, as 
he so often told me, he devoured his hundreds of books and spent most 
of his Harvard years, Mr. Wisdom made a gift of all this to Harvard. 
And there it now is. 

Though I had worked as an editor with Thomas Wolfe on two 
huge manuscripts, Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River, 
I was astonished on that Spring evening of 1935 when Tom, about to 
sail for England, brought to our house on East 49th Street, because 
Scribner's was closed, the huge packing case containing all his literary 
material. Tom and I and the taxi man carried it in and set it down. 
Then Tom said to the man, 'What is your name?' He said, 'Lucky.' 



Introduction 

'Lucky!' said Tom I think it was perhaps an Americanization of some 
Italian name and grasped his hand. It seemed a good omen. We three 
had done something together. We were together for that moment. We 
all shook hands. But for days, that huge packing case blocked our hall, 
until I got it removed to Scribner's. 

The first time I heard of Thomas Wolfe I had a sense of fore- 
boding. I who love the man say this. Every good thing that comes is 
accompanied by trouble. It was in 1928 when Madeleine Boyd, a 
literary agent, came in. She talked of several manuscripts which did not 
much interest me, but frequently interrupted herself to tell of a wonder- 
ful novel about an American boy. I several times said to her, k Why 
don't you bring it in here, Madeleine?' and she seemed to evade the 
question. But finally she said, 4 I will bring it, if you promise to read 
every word of it.' I did'promise, but she told me other things that made 
me realize that Wolfe was a turbulent spirit, and that we were in for 
turbulence. When the manuscript came, I was fascinated by the first 
scene where Eugene's father, Oliver W. Gant, with his brother, two 
little boys, stood by a roadside in Pennsylvania and saw a division of 
Lee's Army on the march to Gettysburg. 

But then there came some ninety-odd pages about Oliver Gant's 
life in Newport News, and Baltimore, and elsewhere. All this was what 
Wolfe had heard, and had no actual association with which to reconcile 
it, and it was inferior to the first episode, and in fact to all the rest of 
the book. I was turned off to other work and gave the manuscript to 
Wallace Meyer, thinking, "Here is another promising novel that prob- 
ably will come to nothing.' Then Meyer showed me that wonderful 
night scene in the cafe where Ben was with the Doctors, and Horse 
Hines, the undertaker, came in. I dropped everything and began to 
read again, and all of us were reading the book simultaneously, you 
might say, including John Hall Wheelock, and there never was the 
slightest disagreement among us as to its importance. 

After some correspondence between me and Wolfe, and between 
nim and Madeleine Boyd, from which we learned how at the October 
Fair in Germany he had been almost beaten to death when I realized 

ix 



Introduct on 

again that we had a Moby Dick to deal with Wolfe arrived in New 
York and stood in the doorway of my boxstall of an office leaning 
against the door jamb. When I looked up and saw his wild hair and 
bright countenance although he was so altogether different physically 
I thought of Shelley. He was fair, but his hair was wild, and his face 
was bright and his head disproportionately small. 

We then began to work upon the book and the first thing we did, 
to give it unity, was to cut out that wonderful scene it began with and 
the ninety-odd pages that followed, because it seemed to me, and he 
agreed, that the whole tale should be unfolded through the memories 
and senses of the boy, Eugene, who was born in Asheville. We both 
thought that the story was compassed by that child's realization; that 
it was life and the world as he came to realize them. When he had tried 
to go back into the life of his father before he arrived in Asheville, with- 
out the inherent memory of events, the reality and the poignance were 
diminished but for years it was on my conscience that I had per- 
suaded Tom to cut out that first scene of the two little boys on the 
roadside with Gettysburg impending. 

And then what happened? In Of Time and the River he brought 
the scene back to greater effect when old Gant was dying on the gallery 
of the hospital in Baltimore and in memory recalled his olden days. 
After that occurred I felt much less anxiety in suggesting cuts: I began 
then to realize that nothing Wolfe wrote was ever lost, that omissions 
from one book were restored in a later one. An extreme example of 
this is the fact that the whole second half of The Web and the Rock 
was originally intended to be the concluding episode in Of Time and 
the River. But most, and perhaps almost all, of those early incidents 
of Gant's life were worked into The Web and the Rock and You Can't 
Go Home Again. 

I had realized, for Tom had prefaced his manuscript with a 
statement to that effect, that Look Homeward, Angel was auto- 
biographical, but I had come to think of it as being so in the sense that 
David Copperfield is, or War and Peace, or Pendennis. But when we 
were working together, I suddenly saw that it was often almost literally 



Introduction 

autobiographical that these people in it were his people. I am sure my 
face took on a look of alarm, and Tom saw it and he said, 'But Mr. 
Perkins, you don't understand. I think these people are great people 
and that they should be told about.' He was right. He had written a 
great book, and it had to be taken substantially as it was. And in truth, 
the extent of cutting in that book has somehow come to be greatly 
exaggerated. Really, it was more a matter of reorganization. For in- 
stance, Tom had that wonderful episode when Gant came back from 
his far-wandering and rode in early morning on the trolley car through 
the town and heard about who had died and who had been born and 
saw all the scenes that were so familiar to Tom or Eugene, as the old 
trolley rumbled along. This was immediately followed by an episode 
of a similar kind where Eugene, with his friends, walked home from 
school through the town of Asheville. That was presented in a Joycean 
way, but it was the same sort of thing some one going through the 
town and through his perceptions revealing it to the reader. By putting 
these episodes next to each other the effect of each was diminished, 
and I think we gave both much greater value by separating them. We 
did a great deal of detailed cutting, but it was such things as that I 
speak of that constituted perhaps the greater part of the work. 

Of Time and the River was a much greater struggle for Tom. 
Eventually, I think it was on Thanksgiving Day 1933, he brought me 
in desperation about two feet of typescript. The first scene in this was 
the platform of the railroad station in Asheville when Eugene was 
about to set out for Harvard, and his family had come to see him off. 
It must have run to about 30,000 words and I cut it to perhaps 10,000 
and showed it to Tom. He approved it. When you are waiting for a 
train to come in, there is suspense. Something is going to happen. You 
must, it seemed to me, maintain that sense of suspense and you can't 
to the extent of 30,000 words. There never was any cutting that Tom 
did not agree to. He knew that cutting was necessary. His whole 
impulse was to utter what he felt and he had no time to revise and 
compress. 

So then we began a year of nights of work, including Sundays, 

xi 



Introduction 

and every cut, and change, and interpolation, was argued about and 
about. The principle that I was working on was that this book, too, got 
its unity and its form through the senses of Eugene, and I remember 
how, if I had had my way, we should, by sticking to that principle, have 
lost one of the most wonderful episodes Wolfe ever wrote the death 
of Gant. One night we agreed that certain transitions should be written 
in, but instead of doing them Wolfe brought on the next night some five 
thousand words about Eugene's sister in Asheville when her father was 
ill, and a doctor there and a nurse. I said, Tom, this is all outside the 
story, and you know it. Eugene was not there, he was in Cambridge; 
all of this was outside his perception and knowledge at the time.' Tom 
agreed with me, but the next night, he brought me another five thou- 
sand words or so which got up into the death of Gant. And then I 
realized I was wrong, even if right in theory. What he was doing was too 
good to let any rule of form impede him. 

It is said that Tolstoy never willingly parted with the manuscript 
of War and Peace. One could imagine him working on it all through 
his life. Certainly Thomas Wolfe never willingly parted from the proofs 
of Of Time and the River. He sat brooding over them for weeks in the 
Scribner library and not reading. John Wheelock read them and we 
sent them to the printer and told Tom it had been done. I could believe 
that otherwise he might have clung to them to the end. 

He dedicated that book to me in most extravagant terms. I never 
saw the dedication until the book was published and though 1 was most 
grateful for it, I had forebodings when I heard of his intention. I think 
it was that dedication that threw him off his stride and broke his 
magnificent scheme. It gave shallow people the impression that Wolfe 
could not function as a writer without collaboration, and one critic even 
used some such phrases as, 'Wolfe and Perkins Perkins and Wolfe, 
what way is that to write a novel.' Nobody with the slightest compre- 
hension of the nature of a writer could accept such an assumption. No 
writer could possibly tolerate the assumption, which perhaps Tom 
almost himself did, that he was dependent as a writer upon anyone 
else. He had to prove to himself and to the world that this was not so. 

xii 



Introduction 

And that was the fundamental reason that he turned to another 
publisher. If he had not but by the time he did it was plain that he had 
to tell, in the medium of fiction and through the transmutation of his 
amazing imagination, the story of his own life he never would have 
broken his own great plan by distorting Eugene Gant into George 
Webber. That was a horrible mistake. I think Edward Aswell, of 
Harper & Brothers, agrees with me in this, but when the manuscript 
that came to form The Web and the Rock and You Can't Go 
Home Again got to him to work on, and in some degree to me, as 
Wolfe's executor, Tom was dead, and things had to be taken as they 
were. 

The trouble began after the publication of Of Time and the River, 
which the reviewers enormously praised but many of them asserted 
that Wolfe could only write about himself, that he could not see the 
world or anything objectively, with detachment that he was always 
autobiographical. Wolfe was extremely sensitive to criticism, for all his 
tremendous faith in his genius as an obligation put upon him to fulfill. 
One day when I lived on East 49th Street near Second Avenue, and he 
on First Avenue, just off the corner of 49th, I met him as I was going 
home. He said he wanted to talk to me, as we did talk every evening 
about that time, and we went into the Waldorf. He referred to the 
criticisms against him, and said that he wanted to write a completely 
objective, unautobiographical book, and that it would show how 
strangely different everything is from what a person expects it to be. 
One might say that he was thinking of the theme that has run through 
so many great books, such as Pickwick Papers and Don Quixote, where 
a man, young or old, goes hopefully out into the world slap into the 
face of outrageous reality. He was going to put on the title page what 
was said by Prince Andrei, in War and Peace, after his first battle, 
when the praise fell upon those who had done nothing and blame 
almost fell upon one who had done everything. Prince Andrei, who 
saved the battery commander who most of all had held back the French 
from the blame that Little Tushin would have accepted, walked out 
with him into the night. Then as Tushin left, Tolstoy said, 'Prince 

xiii 



Introduction 

Andrei looked up at the stars and sighed; everything was so different 
from what he thought it was going to be/ 

Tom was in a desperate state. It was not only what the critics 
said that made him wish to write objectively, but that he knew that 
what he had written had given great pain even to those he loved the 
most. The conclusion of our talk was that if he could write such an 
objective book on this theme within a year, say, to the extent of per- 
haps a hundred thousand words, it might be well to do it. It was this 
that turned him to George Webber, but once he began on that he really 
and irresistibly resumed the one story he was destined to write, which 
was that of himself, or Eugene Gant. 

And so, the first half of The Web and the Rock, of which there is 
only a typescript, is a re-telling in different terms of Look Homeward, 
Angel. Wolfe was diverted from his natural purpose and even had 
he lived, what could have been done? Some of his finest writing is that 
first half of The Web and the Rock. Could anybody have just tossed 
it out? 

But if Tom had held to his scheme and completed the whole story 
of his life as transmuted into fiction through his imagination, I think 
the accusation that he had no sense of form could not have stood. He 
wrote one long story, The Web of Earth,' which had perfect form, for 
all its intricacy. I remember saying to him, 'Not one word of this should 
be changed.' One might say that as his own physical dimensions were 
huge so was his conception of a book. He had one book to write about 
a vast, sprawling, turbulent land America as perceived by Eugene 
Gant. Even when he was in Europe, it was of America he thought. If 
he had not been diverted and had lived to complete it, I think it would 
have had the form that was suited to the subject. 

His detractors say he could only write about himself, but all that he 
wrote of was transformed by his imagination. For instance, in You 
Can't Go Home Again he shows the character Foxhall Edwards at 
breakfast. Edwards's young daughter enters 'as swiftly and silently as 
a ray of light.' She is very shy and in a hurry to get to school. She tells 
of a theme she has written on Walt Whitman and what the teacher said 

xiv 



Introduction 

of Whitman. When Edwards urges her not to hurry and makes various 
observations, she says, 4 Oh, Daddy, you're so funny!' What Tom did 
was to make one unforgettable little character out of three daughters 
of Foxhall Edwards. 

He got the ray of light many years ago when he was with me in my 
house in New Canaan, Connecticut, and one daughter, at the age of 
about eight or ten, came in and met this gigantic stranger. After she 
was introduced she fluttered all about the room in her embarrassment, 
but radiant, like a sunbeam. Then Tom was present when another 
daughter, in Radcliffe, consulted me about a paper she was writing on 
Whitman, but he put this back into her school days. The third, of 
which he composed a single character, was the youngest, who often 
did say, partly perhaps, because she was not at ease when Tom was 
there, 'Oh, Daddy, you're so silly.' That is how Tom worked. He cre- 
ated something new and something meaningful through a transmuta- 
tion of what he saw, heard, and realized. 

I think no one could understand Thomas Wolfe who had not seen 
or properly imagined the place in which he was born and grew up. 
Asheville, North Carolina, is encircled by mountains. The trains wind 
in and out through labyrinths of passes. A boy of Wolfe's imagination 
imprisoned there could think that what was beyond was all wonderful 
different from what it was where there was not for him enough of 
anything. Whatever happened, Wolfe would have been what he was. 
I remember on the day of his death saying to his sister Mabel that I 
thought it amazing in an American family that one of the sons who 
wanted to be a writer should have been given the support that was 
given Tom, and that they all deserved great credit for that. She said it 
didn't matter, that nothing could have prevented Tom from doing what 
he did. 

That is true, but I think that those mountainous walls which his 
imagination vaulted gave him the vision of an America with which 
his books are fundamentally concerned. He often spoke of the artist 
in America how the whole color and character of the country was 
completely new never interpreted; how in England, for instance, the 

xv 



Introduction 

writer inherited a long accretion of accepted expression from which he 
could start. But Tom would say and he had seen the world 4 who has 
ever made you know the color of an American box car?' Wolfe was in 
those mountains he tells of the train whistles at night the trains 
were winding their way out into the great world where it seemed to the 
boy there was everything desirable, and vast, and wonderful. 

It was partly that which made him want to see everything, and 
read everything, and experience everything, and say everything. There 
was a night when he lived on First Avenue that Nancy Hale, who 
lived on East 49th Street near Third Avenue, heard a kind of chant, 
which grew louder. She got up and looked out of the window at two 
or three in the morning and there was the great figure of Thomas 
Wolfe, advancing in his long country-man's stride, with his swaying 
black raincoat, and what he was chanting was, 4 I wrote ten thousand 
words today I wrote ten thousand words today.' 

Tom must have lived in eight or nine different parts of New York 
and Brooklyn for a year or more. He knew in the end every aspect of 
the City he walked the streets endlessly but he was not a city man. 
The city fascinated him but he did not really belong in it and was never 
satisfied to live in it. He was always thinking of America as a whole 
and planning trips to some part that he had not yet seen, and in the 
end taking them. His various quarters in town always looked as if he 
had just moved in, to camp for awhile. This was partly because he 
really had no interest in possessions of any kind, but it was also because 
he was in his very nature a Far Wanderer, bent upon seeing all places, 
and his rooms were just necessities into which he never settled. Even 
when he was there his mind was not. He needed a continent to range 
over, actually and in imagination. And his place was all America. It 
was with America he was most deeply concerned and I believe he 
opened it up as no other writer ever did for the people of his time and 
for the writers and artists and poets of tomorrow. Surely he had a thing 
to tell us. 

MAXWELL E. PERKINS 



xvi 



TO THE READER 

Jihis is a first book, and in it the author has written of experience 
which is now far and lost, hut which was once part of the fabric of his life. 
If any reader, therefore, should say that the book is "autobiographical" 
the writer has no answer for him: it seems to him that all serious work 
in fiction is autobiographical that, for instance, a more autobiographical 
work than "Gulliver's Travels" cannot easily be imagined. 

This note, however, is addressed principally to those persons whom 
the writer may have known in the period covered by these pages. To these 
persons, he would say what he believes they understand already: that this 
book was written in innocence and nakedness of spirit, and that the 
writer's main concern was to give fulness, life, and intensity to the actions 
and people in the book he was creating. Now that it is to be published, 
he would insist that this book is ajiction, and that he meditated no man's 
portrait here. 

But we are the sum of all the moments of our lives all that is ours 
is in them: we cannot escape or conceal it. If the writer has used the 
clay of life to make his book, he has only used what all men must, what 
none can keep from using. Fiction is not fact, but fiction is fact selected 
and understood, fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose. Dr. 
Johnson remarked that a man would turn over half a library to make a 
single book: in the same way, a novelist may turn over half the people in 
a town to make a single figure in his novel. This is not the whole method 
but the writer believes it illustrates the whole method in a book that is 
written from a middle distance and is without rancour or bitter intention. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 




PART ONE 



. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door ; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the 
forgotten faces. 

Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know 
our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeak- 
able and incommunicable prison of this earth. 

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his 
father's heart 7 Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent 7 Which of us 
is not forever a stranger and alone 7 

O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this most 
weary unbright cinder, lost f Remembering speechlessly we seek the great jor- 
gotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unjound door. 
Where 7 When? 

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again. 




1 

A destiny that leads the English to the Dutch is strange enough; 
but one that leads from Epsom into Pennsylvania, and thence into the 
hills that shut in Altamont over the proud coral cry of the cock, and the 
soft stone smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance 
which makes new magic in a dusty world. 

Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nak- 
edness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand 
years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas. 

The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin 
of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a 
Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each mo- 
ment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like 
flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time. 

This is a moment: 

An Englishman named Gilbert Gaunt, which he later changed to 
Gant (a concession probably to Yankee phonetics), having come to 
Baltimore from Bristol in 1837 on a sailing vessel, soon let the profits 
of a public house which he had purchased roll down his improvident 

i 



2 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

gullet. He wandered westward into Pennsylvania, eking out a danger- 
ous living by matching fighting cocks against the champions of country 
barnyards, and often escaping after a night spent in a village jail, with 
his champion dead on the field of battle, without the clink of a coin in 
his pocket, and sometimes with the print of a farmer's big knuckles on 
his reckless face. But he always escaped, and coming at length among 
the Dutch at harvest time he was so touched by the plenty of their land 
that he cast out his anchors there. Within a year he married a rugged 
young widow with a tidy farm who like all the other Dutch had been 
charmed by his air of travel, and his grandiose speech, particularly when 
he did Hamlet in the manner of the great Edmund Kean. Every one 
said he should have been an actor. 

The Englishman begot children a daughter and four sons lived 
easily and carelessly, and bore patiently the weight of his wife's harsh 
but honest tongpe. The years passed, his bright somewhat staring eyes 
grew dull and bagged, the tall Englishman walked with a gouty shuffle: 
one morning when she came to nag him out of sleep she found him 
dead of an apoplexy. He left five children, a mortgage and in his 
strange dark eyes which now stared bright and open something that 
had not died: a passionate and obscure hunger for voyages. 

So, with this legacy, we leave this Englishman and are concerned 
hereafter with the heir to whom he bequeathed it, his second son, a boy 
named Oliver. How this boy stood by the roadside near his mother's 
farm, and saw the dusty Rebels march past on their way to Gettysburg, 
how his cold eyes darkened when he heard the great name of Virginia, 
and how the year the war had ended, when he was still fifteen, he had 
walked along a street in Baltimore, and seen within a little shop smooth 
granite slabs of death, carved lambs and cherubim, and an angel poised 
upon cold phthisic feet, with a smile of soft stone idiocy this is a 
longer tale. But I know that his cold and shallow eyes had darkened 
with the obscure and passionate hunger that had lived in a dead man's 
eyes, and that had led from Fenchurch Street past Philadelphia. As 
the boy looked at the big angel with the carved stipe of lilystalk, a cold 
and nameless excitement possessed him. The long fingers of his big 
hands closed. He felt that he wanted, more than anything in the world, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 3 

to carve delicately with a chisel. He wanted to wreak something dark 
and unspeakable in him into cold stone. He wanted to carve an angel's 
head. 

Oliver entered the shop and asked a big bearded man with a 
wooden mallet for a job. He became the stone cutter's apprentice. He 
worked in that dusty yard five years. He became a stone cutter. When 
his apprenticeship was over he had become a man. 

He never found it. He never learned to carve an angel's head. The 
dove, the lamb, the smooth joined marble hands of death, and letters 
fair and fine but not the angel. And of all the years of waste and 
loss the riotous years in Baltimore, of work and savage drunkenness, 
and the theatre of Booth and Salvini, which had a disastrous effect upon 
the stone cutter, who memorized each accent of the noble rant, and 
strode muttering through the streets, with rapid gestures of the enor- 
mous talking hands these are blind steps and gropings of our exile, the 
painting of our hunger as, remembering speechlessly, we seek the great 
forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, a door. 
Where? When? 

He never found it, and he reeled down across the continent into the 
Reconstruction South a strange wild form of six feet four with cold 
uneasy eyes, a great blade of nose, and a rolling tide of rhetoric, a pre- 
posterous and comic invective, as formalized as classical epithet, which 
he used seriously, but with a faint uneasy grin around the corners of his 
thin wailing mouth. 

He set up business in Sydney, the little capital city of one of the 
middle Southern states, lived soberly and industriously under the atten- 
tive eye of a folk still raw with defeat and hostility, and finally, his good 
name founded and admission won, he married a gaunt tubercular spin- 
stress, ten years his elder, but with a nest egg and an unshakable will to 
matrimony. Within eighteen months he was a howling maniac again, 
his little business went smash while his foot stayed on the polished rail, 
and Cynthia, his wife whose life, the natives said, he had not helped 
to prolong died suddenly one night after a hemorrhage. 

So, all was gone again Cynthia, the shop, the hard-bought praise 
of <iohprnft<^ thft angel's head he walked through the street*; at Hark- 



4 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

yelling his pentameter curse at Rebel ways, and all their indolence; but 
sick with fear and loss and penitence, he wilted under the town's reprov- 
ing stare, becoming convinced, as the flesh wasted on his own gaunt 
frame, that Cynthia's scourge was doing vengeance now on him. 

He was only past thirty, but he looked much older. His face was 
yellow and sunken; the waxen blade of his nose looked like a beak. 
He had long brown mustaches that hung straight down mournfully. 

His tremendous bouts of drinking had wrecked his health. He was 
thin as a rail and had a cough. He thought of Cynthia now, in the lonely 
and hostile town, and he became afraid. He thought he had tuberculosis 
and that he was going to die. 

So, alone and lost again, having found neither order nor establish- 
ment in the world, and with the earth cut away from his feet, Oliver 
resumed his aimless drift along the continent. He turned westward to- 
ward the great fortress of the hills, knowing that behind them his evil 
fame would not be known, and hoping that he might find in them 
isolation, a new life, and recovered health. 

The eyes of the gaunt spectre darkened again, as they had in his 
youth. 

All day, under a wet gray sky of October, Oliver rode westward 
across the mighty state. As he stared mournfully out the window at the 
great raw land so sparsely tilled by the futile and occasional little farms, 
which seemed to have made only little grubbing patches in the wilder- 
ness, his heart went cold and leaden in him. He thought of the great 
barns of Pennsylvania, the ripe bending of golden grain, the plenty, the 
order, the clean thrift of the people. And he thought of how he had 
set out to get order and position for himself, and of the rioting confusion 
of his life, the blot and blur of years, and the red waste of his youth. 

By God! he thought. I'm getting old! Why here? 

The grisly parade of the spectre years trooped through his brain. 
Suddenly, he saw that his life had been channelled by a series of acci- 
dents: a mad Rebel singing of Armageddon, the sound of a bugle on 
the road, the mule-hoofs of the army, the silly white face of an angel in 
a dusty shop, a slut's pert wiggle of her hams as she passed by. He had 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 5 

reeled out of warmth and plenty into this barren land: as he stared out 
the window and saw the fallow unworked earth, the great raw lift of the 
Piedmont, the muddy red clay roads, and the slattern people gaping at 
the stations a lean farmer gangling above his reins, a dawdling negro, 
a gap-toothed yokel, a hard sallow woman with a grimy baby the 
strangeness of destiny stabbed him with fear. How came he here from 
the clean Dutch thrift of his youth into this vast lost earth of rickets? 
The train rattled on over the reeking earth. Rain fell steadily. A 




brakeman came draftily into the dirty plush coach and emptied a scuttle 
of coal into the big stove at the end. High empty laughter shook a group 
of yokels sprawled on twct turned seats. The bell tolled mournfully 
above the clacking wheels. There was a droning interminable wait at a 
junction-town near the foot-hills. Then the train moved on again across 
the vast rolling earth. 

Dusk came. The huge bulk of the hills was foggily emergent. Small 
smoky lights went up in the hillside shacks. The train crawled dizzily 
across high trestles spanning ghostly hawsers of water. Far up, far 
down, plumed with wisps of smoke, toy cabins stuck to bank and gulch 
and hillside. The train toiled sinuously up among gouged red cuts with 



6 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

slow labor. As darkness came, Oliver descended at the little town of 
Old Stockade where the rails ended. The last great wall of the hills lay 
stark above him. As he left the dreary little station and stared into the 
greasy lamplight of a country store, Oliver felt that he was crawling, 
like a great beast, into the circle of those enormous hills to die. 

The next morning he resumed his journey by coach. His destination 
was the little town of Altamont, twenty-four miles away beyond the rim 
of the great outer wall of the hills. As the horses strained slowly up the 
mountain road Oliver's spirit lifted a little. It was a gray-golden day in 
late October, bright and windy. There was a sharp bite and sparkle in 
the mountain air: the range soared above him, close, immense, clean, 
and barren. The trees rose gaunt and stark: they were almost leafless. 
The sky was full of windy white rags of cloud; a thick blade of mist 
washed slowly around the rampart of a mountain. 

Below him a mountain stream foamed down its rocky bed, and he 
could see little dots of men laying the track that would coil across the 
hill toward Altamont. Then the sweating team lipped the gulch of the 
mountain, and, among soaring and lordly ranges that melted away in 
purple mist, they began the slow descent toward the high plateau on 
which the town of Altamont was built. 

In the haunting eternity of these mountains, rimmed in their enor- 
mous cup, he found sprawled out on its hundred hills and hollows a 
town of four thousand people. 

There were new lands. His heart lifted. 

This town of Altamont had been settled soon after the Revolu- 
onary war. It had been a convenient stopping-off place for cattle- 
drovers and farmers in their swing eastward from Tennessee into South 
Carolina. And, for several decades before the Civil war, it had enjoyed 
the summer patronage of fashionable people from Charleston and the 
plantations of the hot South. When Oliver first came to it it had begun 
to get some reputation not only as a summer resort, but as a sanitarium 
for tuberculars. Several rich men from the North had established hunt- 
ing lodges in the hills, and one of them had bought huge areas of moun- 
tain land and, with an army of imported architects, carpenters and 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 1 

masons, was planning the greatest country estate in America some- 
thing in limestone, with pitched slate roofs, and one hundred and eighty- 
three rooms. It was modelled on the chateau at Blois. There was also 
a vast new hotel, a sumptuous wooden barn, rambling comfortably upon 
the summit of a commanding hill. 

But most of the population was still native, recruited from the hill 




and country people in the surrounding districts. They were Scotch-Irish 
mountaineers, rugged, provincial, intelligent, and industrious. 

Oliver had about twelve hundred dollars saved from the wreckage 
of Cynthia's estate. During the winter he rented a little shack at one 
edge of the town's public square, acquired a small stock of marbles, and 
set up business. But he had little to do at first save to think of the pro- 
spect of his death. During the bitter and lonely winter, while he thought 
he was dying, the gaunt scarecrow Yankee that flapped muttering 
through the streets became an object of familiar gossip to the towns- 
people. All the people at his boarding-house knew that at night he 
walked his room with great caged strides, and that a long low moan 
that seemed wrung from his bowels quivered incessantly on his thin 
lips. But he spoke to no one about it. 



8 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

And then the marvellous hill Spring came, green-golden, with brief 
spurting winds, the magic and fragrance of the blossoms, warm gusts 
of balsam. The great wound in Oliver began to heal. His voice was 
heard in the land once more, there were purple flashes of the old rhetoric, 
the ghost of the old eagerness. 

One day in April, as with fresh awakened senses, he stood before 
his shop, watching the flurry of life in the square, Oliver heard behind 
him the voice of a man who was passing. And that voice, flat, drawling, 
complacent, touched with sudden light a picture that had lain dead in 
him for twenty years. 

"Hit's a comin'! Accordin' to my figgers hit's due June 11, 1886." 

Oliver turned and saw retreating the burly persuasive figure of the 
prophet he had last seen vanishing down the dusty road that led to 
Gettysburg and Armageddon. 

"Who is that?" he asked a man. 

The man looked and grinned. 

"That's Bacchus Pentland," he said. "He's quite a character. There 
are a lot of his folks around here." 

Oliver wet his great thumb briefly. Then, with a thin grin, he said : 

"Has Armageddon come yet?" 

"He's expecting it any day now," said the man. 

Then Oliver met Eliza. He lay one afternoon in Spring upon the 
smooth leather sofa of his little office, listening to the bright piping 
noises in the Square. A restoring peace brooded over his great extended 
body. He thought of the loamy black earth with its sudden young light 
of flowers, of the beaded chill of beer, and of the plumtree's dropping 
blossoms. Then he heard the brisk heel-taps of a woman coming down 
among the marbles, and he got hastily to his feet. He was drawing on 
his well brushed coat of heavy black just as she entered. 

"I tell you what," said Eliza, pursing her lips in reproachful banter, 
**I wish I was a man and had nothing to do but lie around all day on a 
good easy sofa." 

"Good afternoon, madam," said Oliver with a flourishing bow. 
"Yes," he said, as a faint sly grin bent the corners of his thin mouth, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 9 

"I reckon you've caught me taking my constitutional. As a matter of 
fact I very rarely he down in the daytime, but I've been in bad health 
for the last year now, and I'm not able to do the work I used to." 

He was silent a moment; his face drooped in an expression of 
hangdog dejection. "Ah, Lord! I don't know what's to become of 
me!" 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza briskly and contemptuously. "There's noth- 
ing wrong with you in my opinion. You're a big strapping fellow, in 
the prime of life. Half of it's only imagination. Most of the time we 
think we're sick it's all in the mind. I remember three years ago I was 
teaching school in Hominy Township when I was taken down with pneu- 
monia. Nobody ever expected to see me come out of it alive but I got 
through it somehow; I well remember one day I was sitting down as 
the fellow says, I reckon I was convalescin' ; the reason I remember is 
Old Doctor Fletcher had just been and when he went out I saw him 
shake his head at my cousin Sally. 'Why Eliza, what on earth,' she said, 
just as soon as he had gone, 'he tells me you're spitting up blood ever 
time you cough; you've got consumption as sure as you live.' 'Pshaw,' 
I said. I remember I laughed just as big as you please, determined to 
make a big joke of it all; I just thought to myself, I'm not going to give 
into it, Til fool them all yet; 'I don't believe a word of it' (I said)," she 
nodded her head smartly at him, and pursed her lips, " 'and besides, 
Sally' (I said) 'we've all got to go some time, and there's no use worrying 
about what's going to happen. It may come to-morrow, or it may come 
later, but it's bound to come to all in the end.' " 

"Ah Lord!" said Oliver, shaking his head sadly. "You hit the 
nail on the head that time. A truer word was never spoken." 

Merciful God! he thought, with an anguished inner grin. How long 
is this to keep up? But she's a pippin as sure as you're born. He looked 
appreciatively at her trim erect figure, noting her milky white skin, her 
black-brown eyes, with their quaint child's stare, and her jet black hair 
drawn back tightly from her high white forehead. She had a curious 
trick of pursing her lips reflectively before she spoke; she liked to take 
her time, and came to the point after interminable divagations down all 
the lane-ends of memory and overtone, feasting upon the golden pag- 



10 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

eant of all she had ever said, done, felt, thought, seen, or replied, with 
egocentric delight. 

Then, while he looked, she ceased speaking abruptly, put her neat 
gloved hand to her chin, and stared off with a thoughtful pursed mouth. 

"Well," she said after a moment, "if you're getting your health 
back and spend a good part of your time lying around you ought to 
have something to occupy your mind." She opened a leather portman- 
teau she was carrying and produced a visiting card and two fat volumes. 
"My name," she said portentously, with slow emphasis, "is Eliza 
Pentland, and I represent the Larkin Publishing Company." 

She spoke the words proudly, with dignified gusto. Merciful God! 
A book-agent! thought Gant. 

"We are offering," said Eliza, opening a huge yellow book with a 
fancy design of spears and flags and laurel wreaths, "a book of poems 
called Gems of Verse for Hearth and Fireside as well as Larkin' s Domestic 
Doctor and Book of Household Remedies, giving directions for the cure 
and prevention of over five hundred diseases." 

"Well," said Gant, with a faint grin, wetting his big thumb briefly, 
"I ought to find one that I've got out of that." 

"Why, yes," said Eliza, nodding smartly, "as the fellow says, you 
can read poetry for the good of your soul and Larkin for the good of 
your body." 

"I like poetry," said Gant, thumbing over the pages, and pausing 
with interest at the section marked Songs of the Spur and Sabre. "In 
my boyhood I could recite it by the hour." 

He bought the books. Eliza packed her samples, and stood up 
looking sharply and curiously about the dusty little shop. 

"Doing any business?" she said. 

"Very little," said Oliver sadly. "Hardly enough to keep body and 
soul together. I'm a stranger in a strange land." 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza cheerfully. "You ought to get out and meet 
more people. You need something to take your mind off yourself. If I 
were you, I'd pitch right in and take an interest in the town's progress. 
We've got everything here it takes to make a big town scenery, climate, 
and natural resources, and we all ought to work together. If I had a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 11 

few thousand dollars I know what I'd do," she winked smartly at 
him, and began to speak with a curiously masculine gesture of the 
hand forefinger extended, fist loosely clenched. "Do you see this cor- 
ner here the one you're on? It'll double in value in the next few years. 
Now, here!" she gestured before her with the loose masculine gesture. 
"They're going to run a street through there some day as sure as you live. 
And when they do " she pursed her lips reflectively, "that property is 
going to be worth money." 

She continued to talk about property with a strange meditative 
hunger. The town seemed to be an enormous blueprint to her: her head 
was stuffed uncannily with figures and estimates who owned a lot, 
who sold it, the sale-price, the real value, the future value, first and 
second mortgages, and so on. When she had finished, Oliver said with 
the emphasis of strong aversion, thinking of Sydney: 

"I hope I never own another piece of property as long as I live 
save a house to live in. It is nothing but a curse and a care, and the 
tax-collector gets it all in the end." 

Eliza looked at him with a startled expression, as if he had uttered 
a damnable heresy. 

"Why, say! That's no way to talk!" she said. "You want to lay 
something by for a rainy day, don't you?" 

"I'm having my rainy day now," he said gloomily. "All the property 
I need is eight feet of earth to be buried in." 

Then, talking more cheerfully, he walked with her to the door of 
the shop, and watched her as she marched primly away across the 
square, holding her skirts at the curbs with ladylike nicety. Then he 
turned back among his marbles again with a stirring in him of a joy he 
thought he had lost forever. 



The Pentland family, of which Eliza was a member, was one of the 
strangest tribes that ever came out of the hills. It had no clear title to 
the name of Pentland: a Scotch-Englishman of that name, who was a 
mining engineer, the grandfather of the present head of the family, had 
come into the hills after the Revolution, looking for copper, and lived 



12 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

there for several years, begetting several children by one of the pioneer 
women. When he disappeared the woman took for herself and her 
children the name of Pentland. 

The present chieftain of the tribe was Eliza's father, the brother 
of the prophet Bacchus, Major Thomas Pentland. Another brother had 
been killed during the Seven Days. Major Pentland's military title was 
honestly if inconspicuously earned. Whale Bacchus, who never rose 
above the rank of Corporal, was blistering his hard hands at Shiloh, the 
Major, as commander of two companies of Home Volunteers, was 
guarding the stronghold of the native hills. This stronghold was never 
threatened until the closing days of the war, when the Volunteers, am- 
buscaded behind convenient trees and rocks, fired three volleys into a 
detachment of Sherman's stragglers, ajid quietly dispersed to the defense 
of their attendant wives and children. 

The Pentland family was as old as any in the community, but it 
had always been poor, and had made few pretenses to gentility. By 
marriage, and by intermarriage among its own kinsmen, it could boast 
of some connection with the great, of some insanity, and a modicum 
of idiocy. But because of its obvious superiority, in intelligence and 
fibre, to most of the mountain people it held a position of solid respect 
among them. 

The Pentlands bore a strong clan-marking. Like most rich per- 
sonalities in strange families their powerful group-stamp became more 
impressive because of their differences. They had broad powerful noses, 
with fleshy deeply scalloped wings, sensual mouths, extraordinarily 
mixed of delicacy and coarseness, which in the process of thinking they 
convolved with astonishing flexibility, broad intelligent foreheads, and 
deep flat cheeks, a trifle hollowed. The men were generally ruddy of 
face, and their typical stature was meaty, strong, and of middling height, 
although it varied into gangling cadaverousness. 

Major Thomas Pentland was the father of a numerous family of 
which Eliza was the only surviving girl. A younger sister had died a few 
years before of a disease which the family identified sorrowfully as "poor 
Jane's scrofula." There were six boys: Henry, the oldest, was now 
thirty, Will was twenty-six, Jim was twenty-two, and Thaddeus, Elmer 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 13 

and Greeley were, in the order named, eighteen, fifteen, and eleven. 
Eliza was twenty-four. 

The four oldest children, Henry, Will, Eliza, and Jim, had passed 
their childhood in the years following the war. The poverty and pr- 
vation of these years had been so terrible that none of them ever spoke 
of it now, but the bitter steel had sheared into their hearts, leaving 
scars that would not heal. 

The effect of these years, upon the oldest children was to develop 
in them an insane niggardliness, an insatiate love of property, and a 
desire to escape from the Major's household as quickly as possible. 

"Father," Eliza had said with ladylike dignity, as she led Oliver 
for the first time into the sitting-room of the cottage, "I want you to 
meet Mr. Gant." 

Major Pentland rose slowly from his rocker by the fire, folded a 
large knife, and put the apple he had been peeling on the mantel. 
Bacchus looked up benevolently from a whittled stick, and Will, glanc- 
ing up from his stubby nails which he was paring as usual, greeted the 
visitor with a birdlike nod and wink. The men amused themselves 
constantly with pocket knives. 

Major Pentland advanced slowly toward Gant. He was a stocky 
fleshy man m the middle fifties, with a ruddy face, a patriarchal beard, 
and the thick complacent features of his tribe. 

"It's W. O. Gant, isn't it?" he asked in a drawling unctuous voice. 

"Yes," said Oliver, "that's right." 

"From what Eliza s s been telling me about you," said the Major, 
giving the signal to his audience, "1 was going to say it ought to be 
L. E. Gant." 

The room sounded with the fat pleased laughter of the Pentlands. 

"Whew!" cried Eliza, putting her hand to the wing of her broad 
nose. "I'll vow, father! You ought to be ashamed of yourself." 

Gant grinned with a thin false painting of mirth. 

The miserable old scoundrel, he thought. He's had that one bottled 
up for a week. 

"You've met Will before," said Eliza. 



14 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Both before and aft," said Will with a smart wink. 

When their laughter had died down, Eliza said: "And this as the 
fellow says is Uncle Bacchus." 

"Yes, sir," said Bacchus beaming, "as large as life an' twice as 
sassy." 

"They call him Back-us everywhere else," said Will, including them 
all in a brisk wink, "but here in the family we call him Behind-us." 

"I suppose," said Major Pentland deliberately, "that you've served 
on a great many juries?" 

"No," said Oliver, determined to endure the worst now with a 
frozen grin. "Why?" 

"Because," said the Major looking around again, "I thought you 
were a fellow who'd done a lot of courtiri" 

Then, amid their laughter, the door opened, and several of the 
others came in Eliza's mother, a plain worn Scotchwoman, and Jim, 
a ruddy porcine young fellow, his father's beardless twin, and Thaddeus, 
mild, ruddy, brown of hair and eye, bovine, and finally Greeley, the 
youngest, a boy with lapping idiot grins, full of strange squealing noises 
at which they laughed. He was eleven, degenerate, weak, scrofulous, 
but his white moist hands could draw from a violin music that had in 
it something unearthly and untaught. 

And as they sat there in the hot little room with its warm odor of 
mellowing apples, the vast winds howled down from the hills, there was 
a roaring in the pines, remote and demented, the bare boughs clashed. 
And as they peeled, or pared, or whittled, their talk slid from its rude 
jocularity to death and burial: they drawled monotonously, with evil 
hunger, their gossip of destiny, and of men but newly lain in the earth. 
And as their talk wore on, and Gant heard the spectre moan of the 
wind, he was entombed in loss and darkness, and his soul plunged 
downward in the pit of night, for he saw that he must die a stranger 
that all, all but these triumphant Pentlands, who banqueted on death 
must die. 

And like a man who is perishing in the polar night, he thought of 
the rich meadows of his youth: the corn, the plum tree, and ripe grain. 
Why here? O lost! 




married Eliza in May. After their wedding trip to Phila- 
delphia, they returned to the house he had built for her on Woodson 
Street With his great hands he had laid the foundations, burrowed out 
deep musty cellars in the earth, and sheeted the tall sides over with 
smooth trowellings of warm brown plaster. He had very little money, 
but his strange house grew to the rich modelling of his fantasy: when he 
had finished he had something which leaned to the slope of his narrow 
uphill yard, something with a high embracing porch in front, and warm 
rooms where one stepped up and down to the tackings of his whim. 
He built his house close to the quiet hilly street; he bedded the loamy 
soil with flowers; he laid the short walk to the high veranda steps with 
great square sheets of colored marble; he put a fence of spiked iron 
between his house and the world. 

Then, in the cool long glade of yard that stretched four hundred 
feet behind the house he planted trees and grape vines. And whatever 
he touched in that rich fortress of his soul sprang into golden life: as the 
years passed, the fruit trees the peach, the plum, the cherry, the apple 
grew great and bent beneath their clusters. His grape vines thickened 

15 



16 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

into brawny ropes of brown and coiled down the high wire fences of 
his lot, and hung in a dense fabric, upon his trellises, roping his domain 
twice around. They climbed the porch end of the house and framed the 
upper windows in thick bowers. And the flowers grew in rioting glory 
in his yard the velvet-leaved nasturtium, slashed with a hundred tawny 
dyes, the rose, the snowball, the redcupped tulip, and the lily. The honey- 
suckle drooped its heavy mass upon the fence; wherever his great hands 
touched the earth it grew fruitful for him. 

For him the house was the picture of his soul, the garment of his 
will. But for Eliza it was a piece of property, whose value she shrewdly 
appraised, a beginning for her hoard. Like all the older children of 
Major Pentland she had, since her twentieth year, begun the slow accre- 
tion of land: from the savings of her small wage as teacher and book- 
agent, she had already purchased one or two pieces of earth. On one 
of these, a small lot at the edge of the public square, she persuaded him 
to build a shop. This he did with his own hands, and the labor of two 
negro men: it was a two-story shack of brick, with wide wooden steps, 
leading down to the square from a marble porch. Upon this porch, 
flanking the wooden doors, he placed some marbles; by the door, he 
put the heavy simpering figure of an angel. 

But Eliza was not content with his trade: there was no money in 
death. People, she thought, died too slowly. And she foresaw that her 
brother, Will, who had begun at fifteen as helper in a lumber yard, and 
was now the owner of a tiny business, was destined to become a rich 
man. So she persuaded Gant to go into partnership with Will Pentland: 
at the end of a year, however, his patience broke, his tortured egotism 
leaped from its restraint, he howled that Will, whose business hours 
were spent chiefly in figuring upon a dirty envelope with a stub of a 
pencil, paring reflectively his stubby nails, or punning endlessly with a 
birdlike wink and nod, would ruin them all. Will therefore quietly 
bought out his partner's interest, and moved on toward the accumula- 
tion of a fortune, while Oliver returned to isolation and his grimy 
angels. 

The strange figure of Oliver Gant cast its famous shadow through 
the town. Men heard at night and morning the great formula of his 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 17 

curse to Eliza. They saw him plunge to house and shop, they saw him 
bent above his marbles, they saw him mould in his great hands with 
curse, and howl, with passionate devotion the rich texture of his home. 
They laughed at his wild excess of speech, of feeling, and of gesture. 
They were silent before the maniac fury of his sprees, which occurred 
almost punctually every two months, and lasted two or three days. 
They picked him foul and witless from the cobbles, and brought him 
home the banker, the policeman, and a burly devoted Swiss named 
Jannadeau, a grimy jeweller who rented a small fenced space among 
Gant's tombstones. And always they handled him with tender care, 
feeling something strange and proud and glorious lost in that drunken 
ruin of Babel. He was a stranger to them: no one not even Eliza 
ever called him by his first name. He was and remained thereafter 
"Mister" Cant. 

And what Eliza endured in pain and fear and glory no one knew. 
He breathed over them all his hot lion-breath of desire and fury: when 
he was drunk, her white pursed face, and all the slow octopal movements 
of her temper, stirred him to red madness. She was at such times m 
real danger from his assault : she had to lock herself away from him. 
For from the first, deeper than love, deeper than hate, as deep as the 
unfleshed bones of life, an obscure and final warfare was being waged 
between them. Eliza wept or was silent to his curse, nagged briefly in 
retort to his rhetoric, gave like a punched pillow to his lunging drive 
and slowly, implacably had her way. Year by year, above his howl of 
protest, he did not know how, they gathered in small bits of earth, paid 
the hated taxes, and put the money that remained into more land. Over 
the wife, over the mother, the woman of property, who was like a man, 
walked slowly forth. 

In eleven years she bore him nine children of whom six lived. The 
first, a girl, died in her twentieth month, of infant cholera; two more 
died at birth/ The others outlived the grim and casual littering. The 
oldest, a boy, was born in 1885. He was given the name of Steve. The 
second, born fifteen months later, was a girl Daisy. The next, likewise 
a girl Helen came three years later. Then, in 1892, came twins 
boys to whom Gant, always with a zest for politics, gave the names of 



18 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. And the last, Luke, was born 
two years later, in 1894. 

Twice, during this period, at intervals of five years, Gant's periodic 
spree lengthened into an unbroken drunkenness that lasted for weeks. 
He was caught, drowning in the tides of his thirst. Each time Eliza sent 
him away to take a cure for alcoholism at Richmond. Once, Eliza and 
four of her children were sick at the same time with typhoid fever. But 
during a weary convalescence she pursed her lips grimly and took them 
off to Florida. 

Eliza came through stolidly to victory. As she marched down these 
enormous years of love and loss, stained with the rich dyes of pain and 
pride and death, and with the great wild flare of his alien and passionate 
life, her limbs faltered in the grip of ruin, but she came on, through 
sickness and emaciation, to victorious strength. She knew there had 
been glory in it: insensate and cruel as he had often been, she remembered 
the enormous beating color of his life, and the lost and stricken thing 
in him which he would never find. And fear and a speechless pity rose 
in her when at times she saw the small uneasy eyes grow still and darken 
with the foiled and groping hunger of old frustration. O lost! 




In the great processional of the years through which the history 
of the Gants was evolving, few years had borne a heavier weight of 
pain, terror, and wretchedness, and none was destined to bring with it 
more conclusive events than that year which marked the beginning of 
the twentieth century. For Gant and his wife, the year 1900, in which 
one day they found themselves, after growing to maturity in another 
century a transition which must have given, wherever it has happened, 
a brief but poignant loneliness to thousands of imaginative people 
had coincidences, too striking to be unnoticed, with other boundaries 
in their lives. 

In that year Gant passed his fiftieth birthday: he knew he was half 
as old as the century that had died, and that men do not often live as 
long as centuries. And in that year, too, Eliza, big with the last child 
she would ever have, went over the final hedge of terror and desperation 
and, in the opulent darkness of the summer night, as she lay flat in her 
bed with her hands upon her swollen belly, she began to design her life 
for the years when she would cease to be a mother. 

In the already opening gulf on whose separate shores their lives 

19 



20 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

were founded, she was beginning to look, with the infinite composure, 
the tremendous patience which waits through half a lifetime for an event, 
not so much with certain foresight, as with a prophetic, brooding in- 
stinct. This quality, this almost Buddhistic complacency which, rooted 
in the fundamental structure of her life, she could neither suppress nor 
conceal, was the quality he could least understand, that infuriated him 
most. He was fifty: he had a tragic consciousness of time he saw the 
passionate fulness of his life upon the wane, and he cast about him like 
a senseless and infuriate beast. She had perhaps a greater reason for 
quietude than he, for she had come on from the cruel openings of her 
life, through disease, physical weakness, poverty, the constant immi- 
nence of death and misery: she had lost her first child, and brought the 
others safely through each succeeding plague; and now, at forty-two, 
her last child stirring in her womb, she had a conviction, enforced by 
her Scotch superstition, and the blind vanity of her family, which saw 
extinction for others but not for itself, that she was being shaped to a 
purpose. 

As she lay in her bed, a great star burned across her vision in the 
western quarter of the sky; she fancied it was climbing heaven slowly. 
And although she could not have said toward what pinnacle her life 
was moving, she saw in the future freedom that she had never known, 
possession and power and wealth, the desire for which was mixed inex- 
tinguishably with the current of her blood. Thinking of this in the dark, 
she pursed her lips with thoughtful satisfaction, unhumorously seeing 
herself at work in the carnival, taking away quite easily from the hands 
of folly what it had never known how to keep. 

"I'll get it!" she thought, "I'll get it. Will has it! Jim has it. And 
I'm smarter than they are." And with regret, tinctured with pain and 
bitterness, she thought of Gant: 

"Pshaw! If I hadn't kept after him he wouldn't have a stick to call 
his own to-day. What little we have got I've had to fight for; we wouldn't 
have a roof over our heads; we'd spend the rest of our lives in a rented 
house" which was to her the final ignominy of shiftless and improv- 
ident people. 

And she resumed: "The money he squanders every year in licker 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 21 

would buy a good lot: we could be well-to-do people now if we'd 
started at the very beginning. But he's always hated the very idea of 
owning anything: couldn't bear it, he told me once, since he lost his 
money in that trade in Sydney. If I'd been there, you can bet your bot- 
tom dollar there'd been no loss. Or, it'd be on the other side," she 
added grimly. 

And lying there while the winds of early autumn swept down from 
the Southern hills, filling the black air with dropping leaves, and making, 
in intermittent rushes, a remote sad thunder in great trees, she thought 
of the stranger who had come to live in her, and of that other stranger, 
author of so much woe, who had lived with her for almost twenty years. 
And thinking of Gant, she felt again an inchoate aching wonder, recall- 
ing the savage strife between them, and the great submerged struggle 
beneath, founded upon the hatred and the love of property, in which 
she did not doubt of her victory, but which baffled her, foiled her. 

"Til vow!" she whispered. 'Til vow! I never saw such a man!" 

Gant, faced with the loss of sensuous delight, knowing the time 
had come when all his Rabelaisian excess in eating, drinking, and loving 
must come under the halter, knew of no gain that could compensate 
him for the loss of libertinism; he felt, too, the sharp ache of regret, 
feeling that he had possessed powers, had wasted chances, such as his 
partnership with Will Pentland, that might have given him position and 
wealth. He knew that the century had gone in which the best part of 
his life had passed; he felt, more than ever, the strangeness and lone- 
liness of our little adventure upon the earth: he thought of his child- 
hood on the Dutch farm, the Baltimore days, the aimless drift down 
the continent, the appalling fixation of his whole life upon a series of 
accidents. The enormous tragedy of accident hung like a gray cloud 
over his life. He saw more clearly than ever that he was a stranger in 
a strange land among people who would always be alien to him. Strang- 
est of all, he thought, was this union, by which he had begotten children, 
created a life dependent on him, with a woman so remote from all he 
understood. 

He did not know whether the year 1900 marked for him a begin- 
ning or an ending; but with the familiar weakness of the sensualist, he 



22 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

resolved to make it an ending, burning the spent fire in him down to a 
guttering flame. In the first half of the month of January, still peni- 
tently true to the New Year's reformation, he begot a child: by Spring, 
when it was evident that Eliza was again pregnant, he had hurled him- 
self into an orgy to which even a notable four months' drunk in 1896 
could offer no precedent. Day after day he became maniacally drunk, 
until he fixed himself in a state of constant insanity : in May she sent 
him off again to a sanitarium at Piedmont to take the "cure," which 
consisted simply in feeding him plainly and cheaply, and keeping him 
away from alcohol for six weeks, a regime which contributed no more 
ravenously to his hunger than it did to his thirst. He returned, out- 
wardly chastened, but inwardly a raging furnace, toward the end of 
June: the day before he came back, Eliza, obviously big with child, 
her white face compactly set, walked sturdily into each of the town's 
fourteen saloons, calling up the proprietor or the bar-man behind his 
counter, and speaking clearly and loudly in the sodden company of bar 
clientry: 

"See here: I just came in to tell you that Mr. Gant is coming back 
to-morrow, and I want you all to know that if I hear of any of you 
selling him a drink, I'll put you in the penitentiary." 

The threat, they knew, was preposterous, but the white judicial face, 
the thoughtful pursing of the lips, and the right hand, which she held 
loosely clenched, like a man's, with the forefinger extended, emphasizing 
her proclamation with a calm, but somehow powerful gesture, froze 
them with a terror no amount of fierce excoriation could have produced. 
They received her announcement in beery stupefaction, muttering at 
most a startled agreement as she walked out. 

"By God," said a mountaineer, sending a brown inaccurate stream 
toward a cuspidor, "she'll do it, too. That woman means business." 

"Hell!" said Tim O'Donnel, thrusting his simian face comically 
above his counter, "I wouldn't give W. O. a drink now if it was fifteen 
cents a quart and we was alone in a privy. Is she gone yet?" 

There was vast whisky laughter. 

"Who is she?" some one asked. 

"She's Will Pentland's sister." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 23 

"By God, she'll do it then," cried several; and the place trembled 
again with their laughter. 

Will Pentland was in Loughran's when she entered. She did not 
greet him. When she had gone he turned to a man near him, prefacing 
his remark with a birdlike nod and wink: "Bet you can't do that," he 
said. 

Gant, when he returned, and was publicly refused at a bar, was 
wild with rage and humiliation. He got whisky very easily, of course, 
by sending a drayman from his steps, or some negro, in for it; but, in 
spite of the notoriety of his conduct, which had, he knew, become a 
classic myth for the children of the town, he shrank at each new adver- 
tisement of his behaviour; he became, year by year, more, rather than 
less, sensitive to it, and his shame, his quivering humiliation on mornings 
after, product of rasped pride and jangled nerves, was pitiable. He felt 
bitterly that Eliza had with deliberate malice publicly degraded him: he 
screamed denunciation and abuse at her on his return home. 

All through the summer Eliza walked with white boding placidity 
through horror she had by now the hunger for it, waiting with terrible 
quiet the return of fear at night. Angered by her pregnancy, Gant went 
almost daily to Elizabeth's house in Eagle Crescent, whence he was 
delivered nightly by a band of exhausted and terrified prostitutes into 
the care of his son Steve, his oldest child, by now pertly free with nearly 
all the women in the district, who fondled him with good-natured vul- 
garity, laughed heartily at his glib innuendoes, and suffered him, even, 
to slap them smartly on their rumps, making for him roughly as he 
skipped nimbly away. 

"Son," said Elizabeth, shaking Gant's waggling head vigorously, 
"don't you carry on, when you grow up, like the old rooster here. But 
he's a nice old boy when he wants to be," she continued, kissing the 
bald spot on his head, and deftly slipping into the boy's hand the wallet 
Gant had, in a torrent of generosity, given to her. She was scrupulously 
honest. 

The boy was usually accompanied on these errands by Jannadeau 
and Tom Flack, a negro hack-man, who waited in patient constraint 
outside the latticed door of the brothel until the advancing tumult within 



24 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

announced that Gant had been enticed to depart. And he would go, 
either struggling clumsily and screaming eloquent abuse at his suppliant 
captors, or jovially acquiescent, bellowing a wanton song of his youth 
along the latticed crescent, and through the supper-silent highways of 
the town. 

"Up m that back room, boys, 
Up in that back room, 
All among the fleas and bugs, 
I pit-tee your sad doom/' 

Home, he would be cajoled up the tall veranda stairs, enticed into 
his bed; or, resisting all compulsion, he would seek out his wife, shut 
usually in her room, howling taunts at her, and accusations of unchastity, 
since there festered in him dark suspicion, fruit of his age, his wasting 
energy. Timid Daisy, pale from fright, would have fled to the neigh- 
boring arms of Sudie Isaacs, or to the Tarkintons; Helen, aged ten, even 
then his delight, would master him, feeding spoonfuls of scalding soup 
into his mouth, and slapping him sharply with her small hand when he 
became recalcitrant. 

"You drink this! You better!" 

He was enormously pleased: they were both strung on the same 
wires. 

Again, he was beyond all reason. Extravagantly mad, he built roar- 
ing fires in his sitting-room, drenching the leaping fire with a can of oil; 
spitting exultantly into the answering roar, and striking up, until he 
was exhausted, a profane chant, set to a few recurrent bars of music, 
which ran, for forty minutes, somewhat like this: 

"O-ho Goddam, 
Goddam, Goddam, 
O-ho Goddam, 
Goddam Goddam." 

adopting usually the measure by which clock-chimes strike out the 
hour. 

And outside, strung like apes along the wide wires of the fence, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 25 

Sandy and Fergus Duncan, Seth Tarkinton, sometimes Ben and Grover 
themselves, joining in the glee of their friends, kept up an answering 
chant: 

"Old man Gant 

Came home drunk ! 

Old man Gant 

Came home drunk!" 

Daisy, from a neighbor's sanctuary, wept in shame and fear. But 
Helen, small thin fury, held on relentlessly: presently he would subside 
into a chair, and receive hot soup and stinging slaps with a grin. Upstairs 
Eliza lay, white-faced and watchfully. 

So ran the summer by. The last grapes hung in dried and rotten 
clusters to the vines; the wind roared distantly; September ended. 

One night the dry doctor, Cardiac, said: "I think we'll be through 
with this before to-morrow evening." He departed, leaving in the house 
a middle-aged country woman. She was a hard-handed practical nurse. 

At eight o'clock Gant returned alone. The boy Steve had stayed 
at home for ready despatch at Eliza's need; for the moment the 
attention was shifted from the master. 

His great voice below, chanting obscenities, carried across the 
neighborhood: as she heard the sudden wild roar of flame up the 
chimney, shaking the house in its flight, she called Steve to her side, 
tensely: "Son, he'll burn us all up!" she whispered. 

They heard a chair fall heavily below, his curse; they heard his 
heavy reeling stride across the dining-room and up the hall; they heard 
the sagging creak of the stair-rail as his body swung against it. 

"He's coming!" she whispered, "He's coming! Lock the door, 
son!" 

The boy locked the door. 

"Are you there?" Gant roared, pounding the flimsy door heavily 
with his great fist. "Miss Eliza: are you there?" howling at her the 
ironical title by which he addressed her at moments like this. 

And he screamed a sermon of profanity and woven invective: 

"Little did I reck," he began, getting at once into the swing of 
preposterous rhetoric which he used half furiously, half comically, "little 



26 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

did I reck the day I first saw her eighteen bitter years ago, when she 
came wriggling around the corner at me like a snake on her belly [a 
stock epithet which from repetition was now heart-balm to him] little 
did I reck that that that it would come to this," he finished lamely. 
He waited quietly, in the heavy silence, for some answer, knowing that 
she lay in her white-faced calm behind the door, and filled with the old 
choking fury because he knew she would not answer. 

"Are you there? I say, are you there, woman?" he howled, barking 
his big knuckles in a furious bombardment. 

There was nothing but the white living silence. 

"Ah me! Ah me!" he sighed with strong self-pity, then burst into 
forced snuffling sobs, which furnished a running accompaniment to his 
denunciation. "Merciful God!" he wept, "it's fearful, it's awful, it's 
croo-el. What have I ever done that God should punish me like this in 
my old age?" 

There was no answer. 

"Cynthia! Cynthia!" he howled suddenly, invoking the memory of 
his first wife, the gaunt tubercular spinstress whose life, it was said, his 
conduct had done nothing to prolong, but whom he was fond of sup- 
plicating now, realizing the hurt, the anger he caused to Eliza by doing 
so. "Cynthia! O Cynthia! Look down upon me in my hour of need! 
Give me succour! Give me aid! Protect me against this fiend out of 
Hell!" 

And he continued, weeping in heavy snuffling burlesque: "O-boo- 
hoo-hoo! Come down and save me, I beg of you, I entreat you, I 
implore you, or I perish." 

Silence answered. 

"Ingratitude, more fierce than brutish beasts," Gant resumed, get- 
ting off on another track, fruitful with mixed and mangled quotation. 
"You will be punished, as sure as there's a just God in heaven. You 
will all be punished. Kick the old man, strike him, throw him out on 
the street: he's no good any more. He's no longer able to provide for 
the family send him over the hill to the poorhouse. That's where he 
belongs. Rattle his bones over the stones. Honor thy father that thy 
days may be long. Ah, Lord! 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 27 

" 'Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through; 
See what a rent the envious Casca made, 
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed; 
And, as he plucked his cursed steel away, 
Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it ' " 

"Jeemy," said Mrs. Duncan at this moment to her husband, "ye'd 
better go over. He's loose agin, an' she's wi' chile." 

The Scotchman thrust back his chair, moved strongly out of the 
ordered ritual of his life, and the warm fragrance of new-baked bread. 

At the gate, outside Gant's, he found patient Jannadeau, fetched 
down by Ben. They spoke matter-of-factly, and hastened up the steps 
as they heard a crash upstairs, and a woman's cry. Eliza, in only her 
night-dress, opened the door: 

"Come quick!" she whispered. "Come quick!" 

"By God, I'll kill her," Gant screamed, plunging down the stairs 
at greater peril to his own life than to any other. "I'll kill her now, and 
put an end to my misery." 

He had a heavy poker in his hand. The two men seized him; the 
burly jeweller took the poker from his hand with quiet strength. 

"He cut his head on the bed-rail, mama," said Steve descending. 
It was true: Gant bled. 

"Go for your Uncle Will, son. Quick!" He was off like a hound. 

"I think he meant it that time," she whispered. 

Duncan shut the door against the gaping line of neighbors beyond 
the gate. 

"Ye'll be gettin' a cheel like that, Mrs. Gant." 

"Keep him away from me! Keep him away!" she cried out strongly. 

"Aye, I will that!" he answered in quiet Scotch. 

She turned to go up the stairs, but on the second step she fell 
heavily to her knees. The country nurse, returning from the bathroom, 
in which she had locked herself, ran to her aid. She went up slowly 
then between the woman and Grover. Outside Ben dropped nimbly 
from the low eave on to the lily beds: Seth Tarkinton, clinging to fence 
wires, shouted greetings. 



28 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Gant went off docilely, somewhat dazed, between his two guardians: 
as his huge limbs sprawled brokenly in his rocker, they undressed him. 
Helen had already been busy in the kitchen for some time: she appeared 
now with boiling soup. 

Gant's dead eyes lit with recognition as he saw her. 

"Why baby," he roared, making a vast maudlin circle with his 
arms, "how are you?" She put the soup down; he swept her thin body 
crushingly against him, brushing her cheek and neck with his stiff- 
bristled mustache, breathing upon her the foul rank odor of rye whisky. 

"Oh, he's cut himself!" the little girl thought she was going to cry. 

"Look what they did to me, baby," he pointed to his wound and 
whimpered. 

Will Pentland, true son of that clan who forgot one another never, 
and who saw one another only in times of death, pestilence, and terror, 
came in. 

"Good evening; Mr. Pentland," said Duncan. 

"Jus' tolable," he said, with his bird-like nod and wink, taking in 
both men good-naturedly. He stood in front of the fire, paring medita- 
tively at his blunt nails with a dull knife. It was his familiar gesture 
when in company: no one, he felt, could see what you thought about 
anything, if you pared your nails. 

The sight of him drew Gant instantly from his lethargy: he remem- 
bered the dissolved partnership; the familiar attitude of Will Pentland, 
as he stood before the fire, evoked all the markings he so heartily loathed 
in the clan its pert complacency, its incessant punning, its success. 

"Mountain Grills!" he roared. "Mountain Grills! The lowest of 
the low! The vilest of the vile!" 

"Mr. Gant! Mr. Gant!" pleaded Jannadeau. 

"What's the matter with you, W. O.?" asked Will Pentland, look- 
ing up innocently from his fingers. "Had something to eat that didn't 
agree with you?" he winked pertly at Duncan, and went back to his 
fingers. 

"Your miserable old father," howled Gant, "was horsewhipped on 
the public square for not paying his debts." This was a purely imagi- 
native insult, which had secured itself as truth, however, in Gant's mind, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 29 

as had so many other stock epithets, because it gave him heart-cockle 
satisfaction. 

"Horsewhipped upon his public square, was he?" Will winked 
again, unable to resist the opening. "They kept it mighty quiet, didn't 
they?" But behind the intense good-humored posture of his face, his 
eyes were hard. He pursed his lips meditatively as he worked upon his 
fingers. 

"But I'll tell you something about him, W. O.," he continued after 
a moment, with calm but boding judiciousness. "He let his wife die a 
natural death in her own bed. He didn't try to kill her." 

"No, by God!" Gant rejoined. "He let her starve to death If the 
old woman ever got a square meal in her life she got it under my roof. 
There's one thing sure: she could have gone to Hell and back,twice over, 
before she got it from old Tom Pentland, or any of his sons." 

Will Pentland closed his blunt knife and put it in his pocket. 

"Old Major Pentland never did an honest day's work in his life," 
Gant yelled, as a happy afterthought. 

"Come now, Mr. Gant!" said Duncan reproachfully. 

"Hush! Hush!" whispered the girl fiercely, coming before him 
closely with the soup. She thrust a smoking ladle at his mouth, but he 
turned his head away to hurl another insult. She slapped him sharply 
across the mouth. 

"You drink this!" she whispered. And grinning meekly as his eyes 
rested upon her, he began to swallow soup. 

Will Pentland looked at the girl attentively for a moment, then 
glanced at Duncan and Jannadeau with a nod and wink. Without say- 
ing another word, he left the room, and mounted the stairs. His sister 
lay quietly extended on her back. 

"How do you feel, Eliza?" The room was heavy with the rich odor 
of mellowing pears; an unaccustomed fire of pine sticks burned in the 
grate: he took up his place before it, and began to pare his nails. 

"Nobody knows nobody knows," she began, bursting quickly 
into a rapid flow of tears, "what I've been through." She wiped her 
eyes in a moment on a corner of the coverlid : her broad powerful nose, 
founded redly on her white face, was like flame. 



30 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"What you got good to eat?" he said, winking at her with a comic 
gluttony. 

"There are some pears in there on the shelf, Will. I put them there 
last week to mellow." 

He went into the big closet and returned in a moment with a large 
yellow pear; he came back to the hearth and opened the smaller blade 
of his knife. 

"I'll vow, Will," she said quietly after a moment. "I've had all I 
can put up with. I don't know what's got into him. But you can bet 
your bottom dollar I won't stand much more of it. I know how to shift 
for myself," she said, nodding her head smartly. He recognized the tone. 

He almost forgot himself: "See here, Eliza," he began, "if you 
were thinking of building somewhere, I" but he recovered himself m 
time "I'll make you the best price you can get on the material," he 
concluded. He thrust a slice of pear quickly into his mouth. 

She pursed her mouth rapidly for some moments. 

"No," she said. "I'm not ready for that yet, Will. I'll let you 
know." The loose wood-coals crumbled on the hearth. 

"I'll let you know," she said again. He clasped his knife and thrust 
it in a trousers pocket. 

"Good night, Eliza," he said. "I reckon Pett will be in to see you. 
I'll tell her you're all right. 

He went down the stairs quietly, and let himself out through the 
front door. As he descended the tall veranda steps, Duncan and 
Jannadeau came quietly down the yard from the sitting-room. 

"How's W. O.?" he asked. 

"Ah, he'll be all right now," said Duncan cheerfully. "He's fast 
asleep." 

"The sleep of the righteous?" asked Will Pentland with a wink. 

The Swiss resented the implied jeer at his Titan. "It is a gread 
bitty," began Jannadeau in a low guttural voice, "that Mr. Gant drinks. 
With his mind he could go far. When he's sober a finer man doesn't 
live." 

"When he's sober?" said Will, winking at him in the dark. "What 
about when he's asleep?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



31 



"He's all right the minute Helen gets hold of him," Mr. Duncan 
remarked in his rich voice. "It's wonderful what that little girl can do 
to him." 

"Ah, I tell you!" Jannadeau laughed with guttural pleasure. "That 
little girl knows her daddy in and out." 

The child sat in the big chair by the waning sitting-room fire: she 
read until the flames had died to coals then quietly she shovelled ashes 
on them. Gant, fathoms deep in slumber, lay on the smooth leather 
sofa against the wall. She had wrapped him well in a blanket; now she 
put a pillow on a chair and placed his feet on it. He was rank with 
whisky stench; the window rattled as he snored. 

Thus, drowned in oblivion, ran his night; he slept when the great 
pangs of birth began in Eliza at two o'clock; slept through all the patient 
pain and care of doctor, nurse, and wife. 





Ihe baby was, to reverse an epigram, an unconscionable time in 
getting born; but when Gant finally awoke just after ten o'clock next 
morning, whimpering from tangled nerves, and the quivering shame of 
dim remembrance, he heard, as he drank the hot coffee Helen brought 
to him, a loud, long lungy cry above. 

"Oh, my God, my God," he groaned. And he pointed toward the 
sound. "Is it a boy or a girl?" 

"I haven't seen it yet, papa," Helen answered. "They won't let us 
in. But Doctor Cardiac came out and told us if we were good he might 
bring us a little boy." 

There was a terrific clatter on the tin roof, the scolding country 
voice of the nurse: Steve dropped like a cat from the porch roof to the 
lily bed outside Gant's window. 

"Steve, you damned scoundrel," roared the manor-lord with a 
momentary return to health, "what in the name of Jesus are you doing?" 

The boy was gone over the fence. 

"I seen it! I seen it!" his voice came streaking back. 

"I seen it too!" screamed Grover, racing through the room and 
out again in simple exultancy. 

32 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 33 

"If I catch you younguns on this roof agin," yelled the country 
nurse aloft, "I'll take your hide off you." 

Gant had been momentarily cheered when he heard that his latest 
heir was a male; but he walked the length of the room now, making 
endless plaint. 

"Oh my God, my God! Did this have to be put upon me in my 
old age? Another mouth to feed! It's fearful, it's awful, it's croo-el," 
and he began to weep affectedly. Then, realizing presently that no one 
was near enough to be touched by his sorrow, he paused suddenly and 
precipitated himself toward the door, crossing the dining-room, and, 
going up the hall, making loud lament: 

"Eliza! My wife! Oh, baby, say that you forgive me!" He went 
up the stairs, sobbing laboriously. 

"Don't you let him in here!" cried the object of this prayer sharply 
with quite remarkable energy. 

"Tell him he can't come in now," said Cardiac, in his dry voice, 
to the nurse, staring intently at the scales. "We've nothing but milk to 
drink, anyway," he added. 
Gant was outside. 

"Eliza, my wife! Be merciful, I beg of you. If I had known- " 

"Yes," said the country nurse opening the door rudely, "if the dog 
hadn't stopped to lift his leg he'd a-caught the rabbit! You get away 
from here!" And she slammed it violently in his face. 

He went downstairs with hang-dog head, but he grinned slyly as 
he thought of the nurse's answer. He wet his big thumb quickly on his 
tongue. 

"Merciful God!" he said, and grinned. Then he set up his caged 
lament. 

"I think this will do," said Cardiac, holding up something red, 
shiny, and puckered by its heels, and smacking it briskly on its rump, 
to liven it a bit. 

The heir apparent had, as a matter of fact, made his debut com- 
pletely equipped with all appurtenances, dependences, screws, cocks, 
faucets, hooks, eyes, nails, considered necessary for completeness of 
appearance, harmony of parts, and unity of effect in this most energetic, 



34 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

driving, and competitive world. He was the complete male in miniature, 
the tiny acorn from which the mighty oak must grow, the heir of all 
the ages, the inheritor of unfulfilled renown, the child of progress, the 
darling of the budding Golden Age and, what's more, Fortune and her 
Fairies, not content with well-nigh smothering him with these blessings 
of time and family, saved him up carefully until Progress was rotten-ripe 
with glory. 

"Well, what are you going to call it?" inquired Dr. Cardiac, refer- 
ring thus, with shocking and medical coarseness, to this most royal imp. 

Eliza was better tuned to cosmic vibrations. With a full, if inexact, 
sense of what portended, she gave to Luck's Lad the title of Eugene, a 
name which, beautifully, means "well born," but which, as any one will 
be able to testify, does not mean, has never meant, "well bred." 

This chosen incandescence, to whom a name had already been 
given, and from whose centre most of the events in this chronicle must 
be seen, was borne in, as we have said, upon the very spear-head of 
history. But perhaps, reader, you have already thought of that? You 
haven't? Then let us refresh your historical memory. 

By 1900, Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler had almost 
finished saying the things they were reported as saying, and that Eugene 
was destined to hear, twenty years later; most of the Great Victorians 
had died before the bombardment began; William McKmley was up for 
a second term, the crew of the Spanish navy had returned home in a 
tugboat. 

Abroad, grim old Britain had sent her ultimatum to the South 
Africans in 1899; Lord Roberts ("Little Bobs," as he was known affec- 
tionately to his men) was appointed commander-in-chief after several 
British reverses; the Transvaal Republic was annexed to Great Britain 
in September 1900, and formally annexed in the month of Eugene's 
birth. There was a Peace Conference two years later. 

Meanwhile, what was going on in Japan? I will tell you: the first 
parliament met in 1891, there was a war with China in 1894-95, Formosa 
was ceded in 1895. Moreover, Warren Hastings had been impeached 
and tried; Pope Sixtus the Fifth had come and gone; Dalmatia had been 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 35 

subdued by Tiberius; Belisarius had been blinded by Justinian; the wed- 
ding and funeral ceremonies of Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of 
Brandenburg-Ansbach and King George the Second had been solem- 
nized, while those of Berengaria of Navarre to King Richard the First 
were hardly more than a distant memory; Diocletian, Charles the Fifth, 
and Victor Amadeus of Sardinia, had all abdicated their thrones; Henry 
James Pye, Poet Laureate of England, was with his fathers; Cassiodorus, 
Quintihan, Juvenal, Lucretius, Martial, and Albert the Bear of Branden- 
burg had answered the last great roll-call, the battles of Antietam, 
Smolensko, Drumclog, Inkerman, Marcngo, Cawnpore, Kilhecrankie, 
Sluys, Actium, Lepanto, Tewkesbury, Brandywine, Hohenhnden, 
Salamis, and the Wilderness had been fought both by land and by sea; 
Hippias had been expelled from Athens by the Alcaemomdae and the 
Lacedaemonians; Simonides, Menander, Strabo, Moschus, and Pindar 
had closed their earthly accounts; the beatified Eusebius, Athanasius, 
and Chrysostom had gone to their celestial niches; Menkaura had built 
the Third Pyramid; Aspalta had led victorious armies; the remote Ber- 
mudas, Malta, and the Windward Isles had been colonized. In addition, 
the Spanish Armada had been defeated; President Abraham Lincoln 
assassinated, and the Halifax Fisheries Award had given $5,500,000 to 
Britain for twelve-year fishing privileges. Finally, only thirty or forty 
million years before, our earliest ancestors had crawled out of the 
primeval sbme; and then, no doubt, finding the change unpleasant, 
crawled back in again. 



Such was the state of history when Eugene entered the theatre of 
human events in 1900. 

We would give willingly some more extented account of the world 
his life touched during the first few years, showing, in all its perspectives 
and implications, the meaning of life as seen from the floor, or from the 
crib, but these impressions are suppressed when they might be told, not 
through any fault of intelligence, but through lack of muscular control, 
the powers of articulation, and because of the recurring waves of lone- 
liness, weariness, depression, aberration, and utter blankness which war 



36 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

against the order in a man's mind until he is three or four years old. 
Lying darkly in his crib, washed, powdered, and fed, he thought 
quietly of many things before he dropped off to sleep the interminable 
sleep that obliterated time for him, and that gave him a sense of having 
missed forever a day of sparkling life. At these moments, he was heart- 
sick with weary horror as he thought of the discomfort, weakness, 
dumbness, the infinite misunderstanding he would have to endure be- 
fore he gained even physical freedom. He grew sick as he thought of 
the weary distance before him, the lack of co-ordination of the centres 
of control, the undisciplined and rowdy bladder, the helpless exhibition 
he was forced to give in the company of his sniggering, pawing brothers 
and sisters, dried, cleaned, revolved before them. 
i He was in agony because he was poverty-stricken in symbols : his 
mind was caught in a net because he had no words to work with. He 
had not even names for the objects around him: he probably defined 
them for himself by some jargon, reinforced by some mangling of the 
speech that roared about him, to which he listened intently day after 
day, realizing that his first escape must come through language. He 
indicated as quickly as he could his ravenous hunger for pictures and 
print: sometimes they brought him great books profusely illustrated, 
and he bribed them desperately by cooing, shrieking with delight, mak- 
ing extravagant faces, and doing all the other things they understood in 
him. He wondered savagely how they would feel if they knew what he 
really thought: at other times he had to laugh at them and at their 
whole preposterous comedy of errors as they pranced around for his 
amusement, waggled their heads at him, tickled him roughly, making 
him squeal violently against his will. The situation was at once pro- 
foundly annoying and comic: as he sat in the middle of the floor and 
watched them enter, seeing the face of each transformed by a foolish 
leer, and hearing their voices become absurd and sentimental whenever 
they addressed him, speaking to him words which he did not yet under- 
stand, but which he saw they were mangling in the preposterous hope 
of rendering intelligible that which has been previously mutilated, he 
had to laugh at the fools, in spite of his vexation. 

And left alone to sleep within a shuttered room, with the thick 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 37 

sunlight printed in bars upon the floor, unfathomable loneliness and 
sadness crept through him: he saw his life down the solemn vista of a 
forest aisle, and he knew he would always be the sad one: caged in that 
little round of skull, imprisoned in that beating and most secret heart, 
his life must always walk down lonely passages. Lost. He understood 
that men were forever strangers to one another, that no one ever comes 
really to know any one, that imprisoned in the dark womb of our 
mother, we come to life without having seen her face, that we are given 
to her arms a stranger, and that, caught in that insoluble prison of 
being, we escape it never, no matter what arms may clasp us, what 
mouth may kiss us, what heart may warm us. Never, never, never, 
never, never. 

He saw that the great figures that came and went about him, the 
huge leering heads that bent hideously into his crib, the great voices 
that rolled incoherently above him, had for one another not much 
greater understanding than they had for him: that even their speech, 
their entire fluidity and ease of movement were but meagre communi- 
cants of their thought or feeling, and served often not to promote 
understanding, but to deepen and widen strife, bitterness, and prejudice. 

His brain went black with terror. He saw himself an inarticulate 
stranger, an amusing little clown, to be dandled and nursed by these 
enormous and remote figures. He had been sent from one mystery into 
another: somewhere within or without his consciousness he heard a 
great bell ringing faintly, as if it sounded undersea, and as he listened, 
the ghost of memory walked through his mind, and for a moment he 
felt that he had almost recovered what he had lost. 

Sometimes, pulling himself abreast the high walls of his crib, he 
glanced down dizzily at the patterns of the carpet far below; the world 
swam in and out of his mind like a tide, now printing its whole sharp 
picture for an instant, again ebbing out dimly and sleepily, while he 
pieced the puzzle of sensation together bit by bit, seeing only the dancing 
fire-sheen on the poker, hearing then the elfin clucking of the sun-warm 
hens, somewhere beyond in a distant and enchanted world. Again, he 
heard their morning-wakeful crowing clear and loud, suddenly becoming 
a substantial and alert citizen of life; or, going and coming in alternate 



38 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

waves of fantasy and fact, he heard the loud, faery thunder of Daisy's 
parlor music. Years later, he heard it again, a door opened in his brain: 
she told him it was Paderewski's "Minuet." 

His crib was a great woven basket, well mattressed and pillowed 
within; as he grew stronger, he was able to perform extraordinary acro- 
batics in it, tumbling, making a hoop of his body, and drawing himself 
easily and strongly erect: with patient effort he could worm over the 
side on to the floor. There, he would crawl on the vast design of the 
carpet, his eyes intent upon great wooden blocks piled chaotically on 
the floor. They had belonged to his brother Luke: all the letters of the 
alphabet, in bright multi-colored carving, were engraved upon them. 

Holding them clumsily in his tiny hands, he studied for hours the 
symbols of speech, knowing that he had here the stones of the temple 
of language, and striving desperately to find the key that would draw 
order and intelligence from this anarchy. Great voices soared far above 
him, vast shapes came and went, lifting him to dizzy heights, depositing 
him with exhaustless strength. The bell rang under the sea. 

One day when the opulent Southern Spring had richly unfolded, 
when the spongy black earth of the yard was covered with sudden, 
tender grass, and wet blossoms, the great cherry tree seethed slowly with 
a massive gem of amber sap, and the cherries hung ripening in prodigal 
clusters, Gant took him from his basket in the sun on the high front 
porch, and went with him around the house by the lily beds, taking him 
back under trees singing with hidden birds, to the far end of the lot. 

Here the earth was unshaded, dry, clotted by the plough. Eugene 
knew by the stillness that it was Sunday: against the high wire fence 
there was the heavy smell of hot dock- weed. On the other side, Swain's 
cow was wrenching the cool coarse grass, lifting her head from time to 
time, and singing in her strong deep voice her Sunday exuberance. In 
the warm washed air, Eugene heard with absolute clearness all the brisk 
backyard sounds of the neighborhood, he became acutely aware of the 
whole scene, and as Swain's cow sang out again, he felt the flooded 
gates in him swing open. He answered "Moo!" phrasing the sound 
timidly but perfectly, and repeating it confidently in a moment when 
the cow answered. 




Gant's delight was boundless. He turned and raced back toward 
the house at the full stride of his legs. And as he went, he nuzzled his 
stiff mustache into Eugene's tender neck, mooing industriously and 
always getting an answer. 

"Lord a' mercy!" cried Eliza, looking from the kitchen window as 
he raced down the yard with breakneck strides, "He'll kill that child 
yet." 

And as he rushed up the kitchen stepsall the house, save the 



40 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

upper side was off the ground she came out on the little latticed 
veranda, her hands floury, her nose stove-red. 

"Why, what on earth are you doing, Mr. Gant?" 

"Moo-o-o! He said 'Moo-o-o!' Yes he did!" Gant spoke to 
Eugene rather than to Eliza. 

E'igene answered him immediately he felt it was all rather silly, 
and he saw he would be kept busy imitating Swain's cow for several 
days, but he was tremendously excited, nevertheless, feeling now that 
that wall had been breached. 

Eliza was likewise thrilled, but her way of showing it was to turn 
back to the stove, hiding her pleasure, and saying: "I'll vow, Mr. Gant. 
I never saw such an idiot with a child." 

Later, Eugene lay wakefully in his basket on the sitting-room floor, 
watching the smoking dishes go by in the eager hands of the combined 
family, for Eliza at this time cooked magnificently, and a Sunday dinner 
was something to remember. For two hours since their return from 
church, the little boys had been prowling hungrily around the kitchen: 
Ben, frowning proudly, kept his dignity outside the screen, making 
excursions frequently through the house to watch the progress of cook- 
ery; Grover came in and watched with frank interest until he was driven 
out; Luke, his broad humorous little face split by a wide exultant smile, 
rushed through the house, squealing exultantly: 

"Weenie, weedie, weeky 
Weenie, weedie, weeky, 
Weenie, weedie, weeky, 
Wee, Wee, Wee." 

He had heard Daisy and Josephine Brown doing Caesar together, 
and his chant was his own interpretation of Caesar's brief boast: "Veni, 
Vidi, Vici." 

As Eugene lay in his crib, he heard through the open door the 
dining-room clatter, the shrill excitement of the boys, the clangor of 
steel and knife as Gant prepared to carve the roast, the repetition of the 
morning's great event told over and over without variation, but with 
increasing zest 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 41 

"Soon," he thought, as the heavy food fragrance floated in to him, 
"I shall be in there with them." And he thought lusciously of mysterious 
and succulent food. 

All through the afternoon upon the veranda Gant told the story, 
summoning the neighbors and calling upon Eugene to perform. Eugene 
heard clearly all that was said that day: he was not able to answer, but 
he saw now that speech was imminent. 

Thus, later, he saw the first two years of his life in brilliant and 
isolated flashes. His second Christmas he remembered vaguely as a 
period of great festivity: it accustomed him to the third when it came. 
With the miraculous habitude children acquire, it seemed that he had 
known Christmas forever. 

He was conscious of sunlight, rain, the leaping fire, his crib, the 
grim jail of winter: the second Spring, one warm day, he saw Daisy 
go off to school up the hill: it was the end of the noon recess, she had 
been home for lunch. She went to Miss Ford's School For Girls; it 
was a red brick residence on the corner at the top of the steep hill: he 
watched her join Eleanor Duncan just below. Her hair was braided in 
two long hanks down her back: she was demure, shy, maidenly, a timid 
and blushing girl; but he feared her attentions to him, for she bathed 
him furiously, wreaking whatever was explosive and violent beneath her 
placidity upon his hide. She really scrubbed him almost raw. He howled 
piteously. As she climbed the hill, he remembered her. He saw she 
was the same person. 

\ He passed his second birthday with the light growing/ Early in the 
following Spring he became conscious of a period of neglect: the house 
was deadly quiet; Gant's voice no longer roared around him, the boys 
came and went on stealthy feet. Luke, the fourth to be attacked by the 
pestilence, was desperately ill with typhoid: Eugene was intrusted almost 
completely to a young slovenly negress. He remembered vividly her 
tall slattern figure, her slapping lazy feet, her dirty white stockings, and 
her strong smell, black and funky. One day she took him out on the 
side porch to play: it was a young Spring morning, bursting moistly 
from the thaw of the earth. The negress sat upon the side-steps and 
yawned while he grubbed in his dirty little dress along the path, and 



42 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

upon the lily bed. Presently, she went to sleep against the post. Craftily, 
he wormed his body through the wide wires of the fence, into the cin- 
dered alley that wound back to the Swains', and up to the ornate wood- 
en palace of the Milliards. 

They were among the highest aristocracy of the town: they had 
come from South Carolina, "near Charleston," which in itself gave them 
at that time a commanding prestige. The house, a huge gabled structure 
of walnut-brown, which gave the effect of many angles and no plan, 
was built upon the top of the hill which sloped down to Gant's; the 
level ground on top before the house was tenanted by lordly towering 
oaks. Below, along the cindered alley, flanking Gant's orchard, there 
were high singing pines. 

Mr. Milliard's house was considered one of the finest residences in 
the town. The neighborhood was middle-class, but the situation was 
magnificent, and the Milliards carried on in the grand manner, lords 
of the castle who descended into the village, but did not mix with its 
people. All of their friends arrived by carnage from afar; every day 
punctually at two o'clock, an old liveried negro drove briskly up the 
winding alley behind two sleek brown mares, waiting under the carriage 
entrance at the side until his master and mistress should come out. 
Five minutes later they drove out, and were gone for two hours. 
I This ritual, followed closely from his father's sitting-room window, 
fascinated Eugene for years after: the people and the life next door were 
crudely and symbolically above him. 

He felt a great satisfaction that morning in being at length in 
Milliard's alley: it was his first escape, and it had been made into a 
forbidden and enhaloed region. He grubbed about in the middle of the 
road, disappointed in the quality of the cinders. The booming court- 
house bell struck eleven times. 

Now, exactly at three minutes after eleven every morning, so un- 
failing and perfect was the order of this great establishment, a huge 
gray horse trotted slowly up the hill, drawing behind him a heavy 
grocery wagon, musty, spicy, odorous with the fine smells of grocery- 
stores and occupied exclusively by the Milliard victuals, and the driver, 
a young negro man who, at three minutes past eleven every morning, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 43 

according to ritual, was comfortably asleep. Nothing could possibly go 
wrong: the horse could not have been tempted even by a pavement of 
oats to betray his sacred mission. 

Accordingly he trotted heavily up the hill, turned ponderously into 
the alley ruts, and advanced heavily until, feeling the great circle of his 
right forefoot obstructed by some foreign particle, he looked down and 
slowly removed his hoof from what had recently been the face of a little 
boy. 

Then, with his legs carefully straddled, he moved on, drawing the 
wagon beyond Eugene's body, and stopping. Both negroes awoke si- 
multaneously; there were cries within the house, and Eliza and Gant 
rushed out of doors. The frightened negro lifted Eugene, who was quite 
unconscious of his sudden return to the stage, into the burly arms of 
Doctor McGuire, who cursed the driver eloquently. His thick sensitive 
fingers moved swiftly around the bloodly little face and found no 
fracture. 

He nodded briefly at their desperate faces: "He's being saved for 
Congress," said he. "You have bad luck and hard heads, W.O." 

"You Goddamned black scoundrel," yelled the master, turning 
with violent relief upon the driver. "I'll put you behind the bars for 
this." He thrust his great length of hands through the fence and choked 
the negro, who mumbled prayers, and had no idea what was happening 
to him, save that he was the centre of a wild commotion. 

The negro girl, blubbering, had fled inward. 

"This looks worse than it is," observed Dr. McGuire, laying the 
hero upon the lounge. "Some hot water, please." Nevertheless, it took 
two hours to bring him round. Every one spoke highly of the horse. 

"He had more sense than the nigger," said Gant, wetting his 
thumb. 

But all this, as Eliza knew in her heart, was part of the plan of the 
Dark Sisters. The entrails had been woven and read long since: the frail 
shell of skull which guarded life, and which might have been crushed as 
easily as a man breaks an egg, was kept intact. But Eugene carried the 
mark of the centaur for many years, though the light had to fall properly 
to reveal it. 



44 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

When he was older, he wondered sometimes if the Milliards had 
issued from their high place when he had so impiously disturbed the 
order of the manor. He never asked, but he thought not: he imagined 
them, at the most, as standing superbly by a drawn curtain, not quite 
certain what had happened, but feeling that it was something unpleasant, 
with blood in it. 

Shortly after this, Mr. Milliard had a "No-Trespassing" sign staked 
up in the lot. 





Luke got well after cursing doctor, nurse, and family for several 
weeks: it was stubborn typhoid. 

Gant was now head of a numerous family, which rose ladderwise 
from infancy to the adolescent Steve who was eighteen and the maid- 
enly Daisy. She was seventeen and in her last year at high school. She 
was a timid, sensitive girl, looking like her name Daisy-ish industrious 
and thorough in her studies: her teachers thought her one of the best 
students they had ever known. She had very little fire, or denial in her; 
she responded dutifully to instructions; she gave back what had been 
given to her. She played the piano without any passionate feeling for 
the music; but she rendered it honestly with a beautiful rippling touch. 
And she practised hours at a time. 

It was apparent, however, that Steve was lacking in scholarship. 
When he was fourteen, he was summoned by the school principal to 
his little office, to take a thrashing for truancy and insubordination. 
But the spirit of acquiescence was not in him: he snatched the rod from 
the man's hand, broke it, smote him solidly in the eye, and dropped 
gleefully eighteen feet to the ground. 

45 



46 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

This was one of the best things he ever did: his conduct in other 
directions was less fortunate. Very early, as his truancy mounted, and 
after he had been expelled, and as his life hardened rapidly in a defiant 
viciousness, the antagonism between the boy and Gant grew open and 
bitter. Gant recognized perhaps most of his son's vices as his own: 
there was little, however, of his redeeming quality. Steve had a piece 
of tough suet where his heart should have been. 

Of them all, he had had very much the worst of it. Since his child- 
hood he had been the witness of his father's wildest debauches. He had 
not forgotten. Also, as the oldest, he was left to shift for himself while 
Eliza's attention focussed on her younger children. She was feeding 
Eugene at her breast long after Steve had taken his first two dollars to 
the ladies of Eagle Crescent. 

He was inwardly sore at the abuse Gant heaped on him; he was 
not insensitive to his faults, but to be called a "good-for-nothing bum," 
"a worthless degenerate," "a pool-room loafer," hardened his outward 
manner of swagger defiance. Cheaply and flashily dressed, with peg-top 
yellow shoes, flaring striped trousers, and a broad-brimmed straw hat 
with a colored band, he would walk down the avenue with a preposterous 
lurch, and a smile of strained assurance on his face, saluting with servile 
cordiality all who would notice him. And if a man of property greeted 
him, his lacerated but overgrown vanity would seize the crumb, and he 
would boast pitifully at home: "They all know Little Stevie! He's got 
the respect of all the big men in this town, all right, all right! Every one 
has a good word for Little Stevie except his own people. Do you know 
what J. T. Collins said to me to-day?" 

"What say? Who's that? Who's that?" asked Eliza with comic 
rapidity, looking up from her darning. 

"J. T. Collins that's who! He's only worth about two hundred 
thousand. 'Steve,' he said, just like that, 4 if I had your brains' " He 
would continue in this way with moody self-satisfaction, painting a pic- 
ture of future success when all who scorned him now would flock to his 
standard. 

"Oh, yes," said he, "they'll all be mighty anxious then to shake 
Little Stevie's hand." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 47 

Ga..., Airy, gave him a hard beating when he had been expelled 

from school. He had never forgotten. Finally, he was told to go to 
work and support himself: he found desultory employment as a soda- 
jerker, or as delivery boy for a morning paper. Once, with a crony, 
Gus Moody, son of a foundry-man, he had gone off to see the world. 
Grimy from vagabondage they had crawled off a freight-train at Knox- 
ville, Tennessee, spent their little money on food, and in a brothel, and 
returned, two days later, coal-black but boastful of their exploit. 

"I'll vow," Eliza fretted, "I don't know what's to be come of that 
boy." It was the tragic flaw of her temperament to get to the vital 
point too late, she pursed her lips thoughtfully, wandered off in another 
direction, and wept when misfortune came. She always waited. More- 
over, in her deepest heart, she had an affection for her oldest son, which, 
if it was not greater, was at least different in kind from what she bore for 
the others. His glib boastfulness, his pitiable brag, pleased her: they 
were to her indications of his "smartness," and she often infuriated her 
two studious girls by praising them. Thus, looking at a specimen of his 
handwriting, she would say: 

"There's one thing sure: he writes a better hand than any of the 
rest of you, for all your schooling." 

Steve had early tasted the joys of the bottle, stealing, during the 
days when he was a young attendant of his father's debauch, a furtive 
swallow from the strong rank whisky in a half-filled flask: the taste 
nauseated him, but the experience made good boasting for his fellows. 

At fifteen, he had found, while smoking cigarettes with Gus Moody, 
in a neighbor's barn, a bottle wrapped in an oats sack by the worthy 
citizen, against the too sharp examination of his wife. When the man 
had come for secret potation some time later, and found his bottle 
half-empty, he had grimly dosed the remainder with Croton oil: the 
two boys were nauseously sick for several days. 

One day, Steve forged a check on his father. It was some days 
before Gant discovered it: the amount was only three dollars, but his 
anger was bitter. In a pronouncement at home, delivered loudly enough 
to publish the boy's offense to the neighborhood, he spoke of the peni- 
tentiary, of letting him go to jail, of being disgraced in his old age a 



48 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

period of his life at which he had not yet arrived, but which he used to 
his advantage in times of strife. 

He paid the check, of course, but another name that of "forger" 
was added to the vocabulary of his abuse. Steve sneaked in and out of 
the house, eating his meals alone for several days. When he met his 
father little was said by either: behind the hard angry glaze of their eyes, 
they both looked depthlessly into each other; they knew that they could 
withhold nothing from each other, that the same sores festered in each, 
the same hungers and desires, the same crawling appetites polluted their 
blood. And knowing this, something in each of them turned away in 
grievous shame. 

Gant added this to his tirades against Eliza; all that was bad in the 
boy his mother had given him. 

"Mountain Blood! Mountain Blood!" he yelled. "He's Greeley 
Pentland all over again. Mark my words," he continued, after striding 
feverishly about the house, muttering to himself and bursting finally into 
the kitchen, "mark my words, he'll wind up in the penitentiary." 

And, her nose reddened by the spitting grease, she would purse her 
lips, saying little, save, when goaded, to make some return calculated 
to infuriate and antagonize him. 

"Well, maybe if he hadn't been sent to every dive in town to pull 
his daddy out, he would turn out better." 

"You he, Woman! By God, you he!" he thundered magnificently 
but illogically. 

Gant drank less: save for a terrifying spree every six or eight weeks, 
which bound them all in fear for two or three days, Eliza had little to 
complain of on this score. But her enormous patience was wearing very 
thin because of the daily cycle of abuse. They slept now in separate 
rooms upstairs: he rose at six or six-thirty, dressed and went down to 
build the fires. As he kindled a blaze in the range, and a roaring fire in 
the sitting-room, he muttered constantly to himself, with an occasional 
oratorical rise and fall of his voice. In this way he composed and pol- 
ished the flood of his invective: when the demands of fluency and em- 
phasis had been satisfied he would appear suddenly before her in the 




kitchen, and deliver himself without preliminary, as the grocer's negro 
entered with pork chops or a thick steak: 

"Woman, would you have had a roof to shelter you to-day if it 
hadn't been for me? Could you have depended on your worthless old 
father, Tom Pentland, to give you one? Would Brother Will, or Brother 
Jim give you one? Did you ever hear of them giving any one anything? 
Did you ever hear of them caring for anything but their own miserable 
hides? Did you? Would any of them give a starving beggar a crust of 
bread? By God, no! Not even if he ran a bakery shop! Ah me! Twas 
a bitter day for me when I first came into this accursed country: little 
did I know what it would lead to. Mountain Grills! Mountain Grills!" 
and the tide would reach its height. 



50 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

At times, when she tried to reply to his attack, she would burst 
easily into tears. This pleased him: he liked to see her cry. But usually 
she made an occasional nagging retort: deep down, between their blind 
antagonistic souls, an ugly and desperate war was being waged. Yet, 
had he known to what lengths these daily assaults might drive her, he 
would have been astounded: they were part of the deep and feverish 
discontent of his spirit, the rooted instinct to have an object for his 
abuse. 

Moreover, his own feeling for order was so great that he had a 
passionate aversion for what was slovenly, disorderly, diffuse. He was 
goaded to actual fury at times when he saw how carefully she saved bits 
of old string, empty cans and bottles, paper, trash of every description: 
the mania for acquisition, as yet an undeveloped madness m Eliza, 
enraged him. 

"In God's name!" he would cry with genuine anger. "In God's 
name! Why don't you get rid of some of this junk?" And he would 
move destructively toward it. 

"No you don't, Mr. Gant!" she would answer sharply. "You never 
know when those things will come in handy." 

It was, perhaps, a reversal of custom that the deep-hungering spirit 
of quest belonged to the one with the greatest love of order, the most 
pious regard for ritual, who wove into a pattern even his daily tirades 
of abuse, and that the sprawling blot of chaos, animated by one all- 
mastering desire for possession, belonged to the practical, the daily 
person. 

Gant had the passion of the true wanderer, of him who wanders 
from a fixed point. He needed the order and the dependence of a home 
he was intensely a family man: their clustered warmth and strength 
about him was life. After his punctual morning tirade at Eliza, he went 
about the rousing of the slumbering children. Comically, he could not 
endure feeling, in the morning, that he was the only one awake and 
about. 

His waking cry, delivered by formula, with huge comic gruffness 
from the foot of the stairs, took this form: 

"Steve! Ben! Grover! Luke! You damned scoundrels: get up! In 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 51 

God's name, what will become of you ! You'll never amount to anything 
as long as you live." 

He would continue to roar at them from below as if they were 
wakefully attentive above. 

"When I was your age, I had milked four cows, done all the chores, 
and walked eight miles through the snow by this time." 

Indeed, when he described his early schooling, he furnished a land- 
scape that was constantly three feet deep in snow, and frozen hard. He 
seemed never to have attended school save under polar conditions. 

And fifteen minutes later, he would roar again: "You'll never 
amount to anything, you good-for-nothing bums! If one side of the 
wall caved in, you'd roll over to the other." 

Presently now there would be the rapid thud of feet upstairs, and 
one by one they would descend, rushing naked into the sitting-room with 
their clothing bundled in their arms. Before his roaring fire they would 
dress. 

By breakfast, save for sporadic laments, Gant was in something 
approaching good humor. They fed hugely: he stoked their plates for 
them with great slabs of fried steak, grits fried in egg, hot biscuits, jam, 
fried apples. He departed for his shop about the time the boys, their 
throats still convulsively swallowing hot food and coffee, rushed from 
the house at the warning signal of the mellow-tolling final nine-o'clock 
school bell. 

He returned for lunch dinner, as they called it briefly garrulous 
with the morning's news; in the evening, as the family gathered in again, 
he returned, built his great fire, and launched his supreme invective, a 
ceremony which required a half hour in composition, and another three- 
quarters, with repetition and additions, in delivery. They dined then 
quite happily. 

So passed the winter. Eugene was three; they bought him alphabet 
books, and animal pictures, with rhymed fables below. Gant read them 
to him mdefatigably: in six weeks he knew them all by memory. 

Through the late winter and spring he performed numberless times 
for the neighbors: holding the book in his hands he pretended to read 
what he knew by heart. Gant was delighted: he abetted the decep- 



52 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

tton. Every one thought it extraordinary that a child should read so 
young, 

In the Spring Gant began to drink again; his thirst withered, how- 
ever, in two or three weeks, and shamefacedly he took up the routine 
of his life. But Eliza was preparing for a change. 

It was 1904; there was in preparation a great world's exposition at 
Saint Louis: it was to be the visual history of civilization, bigger, better, 
and greater than anything of its kind ever known before. Many of the 
Altamont people intended to go: Eliza was fascinated at the prospect of 
combining travel with profit. 

"Do you know what?" she began thoughtfully one night, as she 
laid down the paper, "I've a good notion to pack up and go." 
"Go? Go where?" 

"To Saint Louis," she answered. "Why, say if things work out 
all right, we might simply pull out and settle down there." She knew 
that the suggestion of a total disruption of the established life, a voyage 
to new lands, a new quest of fortune fascinated him. It had been talked 
of years before when he had broken his partnership with Will Pentland. 
"What do you intend to do out there?" How are the children going 
to get along?" 

"Why, sir," she began smugly, pursing her lips thoughtfully, and 
smiling cunningly, "I'll simply get me a good big house and drum up a 
trade among the Altamont people who are going." 

"Merciful God, Mrs. Gant!" he howled tragically, "you surely 
wouldn't do a thing like that. I beg you not to." 

"Why, pshaw, Mr. Gant, don't be such a fool. There's nothing 
wrong in keeping boarders. Some of the most respectable people in 
this town do it." She knew what a tender thing his pride was: he could 
not bear to be thought incapable of the support of his family one of 
his most frequent boasts was that he was "a good provider." Further, 
the residence of any one under his roof not of his blood and bone sowed 
the air about with menace, breached his castle walls. Finally, he had a 
particular revulsion against lodgers: to earn one's living by accepting 
the contempt, the scorn, and the money of what he called "cheap 
boarders" was an almost unendurable ignominy. 

She knew this but she could not understand his feeling. Not merely 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 53 

to possess property, but to draw income from it was part of the religion 
of her family, and she surpassed them all by her willingness to rent out 
a part of her home. She alone, in fact, of all the Pentlands was willing 
to relinquish the little moated castle of home; the particular secrecy and 
privacy of their walls she alone did not seem to value greatly. And she 
was the only one of them that wore a skirt. 

Eugene had been fed from her breast until he was more than three 
years old: during the winter he was weaned. Something in her stopped; 
something began. 

She had her way finally. Sometimes she would talk to Gant thought- 
fully and persuasively about the World's Fair venture. Sometimes, dur- 
ing his evening tirades, she would snap back at him using the project 
as a threat. Just what was to be achieved she did not know. But she 
felt it was a beginning for her. And she had her way finally. 

Gant succumbed to the lure of new lands. He was to remain at 
home: if all went well he would come out later. The prospect, too, of 
release for a time excited him. Something of the old thrill of youth 
touched him. He was left behind, but the world lurked full of unseen 
shadows for a lonely man. Daisy was in her last year at school: she 
stayed with him. But it cost him more than a pang or two to see Helen 
go. She was almost fourteen. 

In early April, Eliza departed, bearing her excited brood about her, 
and carrying Eugene in her arms. He was bewildered at this rapid 
commotion, but he was electric with curiosity and activity. 

The Tarkintons and Duncans streamed in: there were tears and 
kisses. Mrs. Tarkinton regarded her with some awe. The whole neigh- 
borhood was a bit bewildered at this latest turn. 

"Well, well, you never can tell," said Eliza, smiling tearfully and 
enjoying the sensation she had provided. "If things go well we may 
settle down out there." 

"You'll come back," said Mrs. Tarkinton with cheerful loyalty. 
"There's no place like Altamont." 

They went to the station in the street-car: Ben and Grover gleefully 
sat together, guarding a big luncheon hamper. Helen clutched nervously 
a bundle of packages. Eliza glanced sharply at her long straight legs 
and thought of the half-fare. 



54 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Say," she began, laughing indefinitely behind her hand, and nudg- 
ing Gant, "she'll have to scrooch up, won't she? They'll think you're 
mighty big to be under twelve," she went on, addressing the girl directly. 

Helen stirred nervously. 

"We shouldn't have done that," Gant muttered. 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza, "No one will ever notice her." 

He saw them into the train, disposed comfortably by the solicitous 
Pullman porter. 

"Keep your eye on them, George," k he said, and gave the man a 
coin. Eliza eyed it jealously. 

He kissed them all roughly with his mustache, but he patted his 
little girl's bony shoulders with his great hand, and hugged her to him. 
Something stabbed sharply in Eliza. 

They had an awkward moment. The strangeness, the absurdity of 
the whole project, and the monstrous fumbling of all life, held them 
speechless. 

"Well," he began, "I reckon you know what you're doing." 

"Well, I tell you," she said, pursing her lips, and looking out the 
window, "you don't know what may come out of this." 

He was vaguely appeased. The train jerked, and moved off slowly. 
He kissed her clumsily. 

"Let me know as soon as you get there," he said, and he strode 
swiftly down the aisle. 

"Good-by, good-by," cried Eliza, waving Eugene's small hand at 
the long figure on the platform. "Children," she said, "wave good-by 
to your papa." They all crowded to the window. Eliza wept. 



Eugene watched the sun wane and redden on a rocky river, and on 
the painted rocks of Tennessee gorges : the enchanted river wound into 
his child's mind forever. Years later, it was to be remembered in dreams 
tenanted with elvish and mysterious beauty. Stilled in great wonder, he 
went to sleep to the rhythmical pounding of the heavy wheels. 

They lived in a white house on the corner. There was a small plot 
of lawn in front, and a narrow strip on the side next to the pavement. 



NGEL 55 

He realized vaguely that it was far from the great central web and roar 
of the city he thought he heard some one say four or five miles. Where 
was the river? 

Two little boys, twins, with straight very blond heads, and thin, 
mean faces, raced up and down the sidewalk before the house inces- 
santly on tricycles. They wore white sailor-suits, with blue collars, and 
he hated them very much. He felt vaguely that their father was a bad 
man who had fallen down an elevator shaft, breaking his legs. 

The house had a back yard, completely enclosed by a red board 
fence. At the end was a red barn. Years later, Steve, returning home, 
said: "That section's all built up out there now." Where? 

One day in the hot barren back yard, two cots and mattresses had 
been set up for airing. He lay upon one luxuriously, breathing the hot 
mattress, and drawing his small legs up lazily. Luke lay upon the other. 
They were eating peaches. 

A fly grew sticky on Eugene's peach. He swallowed it. Luke howled 
with laughter. 

"Swallowed a fly! Swallowed a fly!" 

He grew violently sick, vomited, and was unable to eat for some 
time. He wondered why he had swallowed the fly when he had seen it 
all the time. 

The summer came down blazing hot. Gant arrived for a few days, 
bringing Daisy with him. One night they drank beer at the Delmar 
Gardens. In the hot air, at a little table, he gazed thirstily at the beaded 
foaming stein: he would thrust his face, he thought, in that chill foam 
and drink deep of happiness. Eliza gave him a taste; they all shrieked 
at his bitter surprised face. 

Years later he remembered Gant, his mustache flecked with foam, 
quaffing mightily at the glass: the magnificent gusto, the beautiful thirst 
inspired in him the desire for emulation, and he wondered if all beer 
were bitter, if there were not a period of initiation into the pleasures of 
this great beverage. 

Faces from the old half-forgotten world floated in from time to 
time. Some of the Altamont people came and stayed at Eliza's house. 
One day, with sudden recollective horror he looked up into the brutal 



56 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

shaven face of Jim Lyda. He was the Altamont sheriff; he lived at the 
foot of the hill below Gant. Once, when Eugene was past two, Eliza 
had gone to Piedmont as witness in a trial. She was away two days; he 
was left in care of Mrs. Lyda. He had never forgotten Lyda's playful 
cruelty the first night. 

Now, one day, this monster appeared again, by devilish sleight, 
and Eugene looked up into the heavy evil of his face. Eugene saw Eliza 
standing near Jim; and as the terror in the small face grew, Jim made as 
if to put his hand violently upon her. At his cry of rage and fear, they 
both laughed: for a blind moment or two Eugene for the first time hated 
her: he was mad, impotent with jealousy and fear. 

At night the boys, Steve, Ben, and Grover, who had been sent out 
at once to seek employment by Eliza, returned from the Fair Grounds, 
chattering with the lively excitement of the day's bustle. Sniggering 
furtively, they talked suggestively about the Hoochy-Koochy: Eugene 
understood it was a dance. Steve hummed a monotonous, suggestive 
tune, and writhed sensually. They sang a song; the plaintive distant 
music haunted him. He learned it: 

"Meet me in Saint Lou iss, loo ee, 
Meet me at the Fair, 
If you see the boys and girlies, 
Tell them I'll be there. 
We will dance the Hoochy-Koochy " 

and so on. 

Sometimes, lying on a sunny quilt, Eugene grew conscious of a 
gentle peering face, a soft caressing voice, unlike any of the others in 
kind and quality, a tender olive skin, black hair, sloeblack eyes, ex- 
quisite, rather sad, kindliness. He nuzzled his soft face next to Eugene's, 
fondled and embraced him. On his brown neck he was birth-marked 
with a raspberry: Eugene touched it again and again with wonder. 
This was Grover the gentlest and saddest of the boys. 

Eliza sometimes allowed them to take him on excursions. Once, 
they made a voyage on a river steamer: he went below and from the 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 57 

side-openings looked closely upon the powerful yellow snake, coiling 
slowly and resistlessly past. 

The boys worked on the Fair Grounds. They were call-boys at a 
place called the Inside Inn. The name charmed him: it flashed con- 
stantly through his brain. Sometimes his sisters, sometimes Eliza, some- 
times the boys pulled him through the milling jungle of noise and figures, 
past the rich opulence and variety of the life of the Fair. He was drugged 
in phantasy as they passed the East India tea-house, and as he saw tall 
turbaned men who walked about within and caught for the first time, 
so that he never forgot, the slow incense of the East. Once in a huge 
building roaring with sound, he was rooted before a mighty locomotive, 
the greatest monster he had ever seen, whose wheels spun terrifically in 
grooves, whose blazing furnaces, raining hot red coals into the pit 
beneath, were fed incessantly by two grimed fire-painted stokers. The 
scene burned in his brain like some huge splendor out of Hell: he was 
appalled and fascinated by it. 

Again, he stood at the edge of the slow, terrific orbit of the Ferris 
Wheel, reeled down the blaring confusion of the midway, felt his stag- 
gering mind converge helplessly into all the mad phantasmagoria of the 
carnival; he heard Luke's wild story of the snake-eater, and shrieked in 
agony when they threatened to take him in. 

Once Daisy, yielding to the furtive cat-cruelty below her mild pla- 
cidity, took him with her through the insane horrors of the scenic rail- 
way; they plunged bottomlessly from light into roaring blackness/ and 
as his first yell ceased with a slackening of the car, rolled gently into a 
monstrous lighted gloom peopled with huge painted grotesques, the red 
maws of fiendish heads, the cunning appearances of death, nightmare, 
and madness. His unprepared mind was unrooted by insane fear: the 
car rolled downward from one lighted cavern to another, and as his 
heart withered to a pea, he heard from the people about him loud gusty 
laughter, in which his sister joined. His mind, just emerging from the 
unreal wilderness of childish fancy, gave way completely in this Fair, 
and he was paralyzed by the conviction, which often returned to him in 
later years, that his life was a fabulous nightmare and that, by cunning 
and conspirate artifice, he had surrendered all his hope, belief, and con- 



58 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

fidence to the lewd torture of demons masked in human flesh. Half- 
sensible, and purple with gasping terror, he came out finally into the 
warm and practical sunlight. 

His last remembrance of the Fair came from a night in early 
autumn: with Daisy again he sat upon the driver's seat of a motor bus, 
listening for the first time to the wonder of its labored chugging, as they 
rolled, through ploughing sheets of ram, around the gleaming roads, and 
by the Cascades, pouring their water down before a white building 
jewelled with ten thousand lights. 

The summer had passed. There was the rustling of autumn winds, 
a whispering breath of departed revelry : carnival was almost done 

And now the house grew very still: he saw his mother very little, 
he did not leave the house, he was in the care of his sisters, and he was 
constantly admonished to silence. 

One day Gant came back a second time. Grover was down with 
typhoid. 

"He said he ate a pear at the Fair grounds," Eliza repeated the 
story for the hundredth time. "He came home and complained of feeling 
sick. I put my hand on his head and he was burning up. 'Why, child/ 
I said, 'what on earth ?' " 

Her black eyes brightened in her white face: she was afraid. She 
pursed her lips and spoke hopefully. 

"Hello, son," said Gant, casually entering the room; his heart 
shrivelled as he saw the boy. 

Eliza pursed her lips more and more thoughtfully after each visit 
the doctor made; she seized every spare crumb of encouragement 
and magnified it, but her heart was sick. Then one night, tearing away 
the mask suddenly, she came swiftly from the boy's room. 

"Mr. Gant," she said in a whisper, pursing her lips. She shook her 
white face at him silently as if unable to speak. Then, rapidly, she 
concluded: "He's gone, he's gone, he's gone!" 

Eugene was deep in midnight slumber. Some one shook him, 
loosening him slowly from his drowsiness. Presently he found himself 
in the arms of Helen, who sat on the bed holding him, her morbid, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 59 

stricken little face fastened on him. She spoke to him distinctly 
and slowly in a subdued voice, charged somehow with a terrible 
eagerness : 

"Do you want to see Grover?" she whispered. "He's on the cooling 
board." 

He wondered what a cooling board was; the house was full of 
menace. She bore him out into the dimly lighted hall, and carried him 
to the room at the front of the house. Behind the door he heard low 
voices. Quietly she opened it; the light blazed brightly on the bed. 
Eugene looked, horror swarmed like poison through his blood. Behind 
the little wasted shell that lay there he remembered suddenly the warm 
brown face, the soft eyes, that once had peered down at him: like one 
who has been mad, and suddenly recovers reason, he remembered that 
forgotten face he had not seen in weeks, that strange bright loneliness 
that would not return. O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come 
back again. 

Eliza sat heavily on a chair, her face bent sideways on her rested 
hand. She was weeping, her face contorted by the comical and ugly 
grimace that is far more terrible than any quiet beatitude of sorrow. 
Gant comforted her awkwardly but, looking at the boy from time to 
time, he went out into the hall and cast his arms forth in agony, in 
bewilderment. 

The undertakers put the body in a basket and took it away. 

"He was just twelve years and twenty days old," said Eliza over 
and over, and this fact seemed to trouble her more than any other. 

"You children go and get some sleep now," she commanded sud- 
denly and, as she spoke, her eye fell on Ben who stood puzzled and 
scowling, gazing in with his curious old-man's look. She thought of the 
severance of the twins; they had entered life within twenty minutes of 
each other; her heart was gripped with pity at the thought of the boy's 
loneliness. She wept anew. The children went to bed. For some time 
Eliza and Gant continued to sit alone in the room. Gant leaned his face 
in his powerful hands. "The best boy I had," he muttered. "By God, 
he was the best of the lot." 

And in the ticking silence they recalled him, and in the heart of 



60 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

each was fear and remorse, because he had been a quiet boy, and there 
were many, and he had gone unnoticed. 

"I'll never be able to forget his birthmark," Eliza whispered. 
"Never, never." 

Then presently each thought of the other; they felt suddenly the 
horror and strangeness of their surroundings. They thought of the vine- 
wound house in the distant mountains, of the roaring fires, the tumult, 
the cursing, the pain, of their blind and tangled lives, and of blundering 
destiny which brought them here now in this distant place, with death, 
after the carnival's close. 

Eliza wondered why she had come: she sought back through the 
hot and desperate mazes for the answer: 

"If I had known," she began presently, "if I had known how it 
would turn out " 

"Never mind," he said, and he stroked her awkwardly. "By God!" 
he added dumbly after a moment. "It's pretty strange when you come 
to think about it." 



And as they sat there more quietly now, swarming pity rose in 
them not for themselves, but for each other, and for the waste, the 
confusion, the groping accident of life. 

Gant thought briefly of his four and fifty years, his vanished youth, 
his diminishing strength, the ugliness and badness of so much of it; and 
he had the very quiet despair of a man who knows the forged chain may 
not be unlinked, the threaded design unwound, the done undone. 

"If I had known. If I had known," said Eliza. And then: "I'm 
sorry." But he knew that her sorrow at that moment was not for him 
or for herself, or even for the boy whom idiot chance had thrust in the 
way of pestilence, but that, with a sudden inner flaming of her clair- 
voyant Scotch soul, she had looked cleanly, without pretense for the 
first time, upon the inexorable tides of Necessity, and that she was sorry 
for all who had lived, were living, or would live, fanning with their 
prayers the useless altar flames, suppliant with their hopes to an un- 
witting spirit, casting the tiny rockets of their belief against remote 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



61 



eternity, and hoping for grace, guidance, and delivery upon the spinning 
and forgotten cinder of this earth. O lost. 

They went home immediately. At every station Gant and Eliza 
made restless expeditions to the baggage-car. It was gray autumnal 
November: the mountain forests were quilted with dry brown leaves. 
They blew about the streets of Altamont, they were deep in lane and 
gutter, they scampered dryly along before the wind. 

The car ground noisily around the curve at the hill-top. The Gants 
descended: the body had already been sent on from the station. As 
Eliza came slowly down the hill, Mrs Tarkmton ran from her house 
sobbing. Her eldest daughter had died a month before. The two women 
gave loud cries as they saw each other, and rushed together. 

In Gant's parlor, the coffin had already been placed on trestles, 
the neighbors, funeral-faced and whispering, were assembled to greet 
them. That was all. 





1 he death of Grover gave Eliza the most terrible wound of her 
life: her courage was snapped, her slow but powerful adventure toward 
freedom was abruptly stopped. Her flesh seemed to turn rotten when 
she thought of the distant city and the Fair: she was appalled before the 
hidden adversary who had struck her down. 

With her desperate sadness she encysted herself within her house 
and her family, reclaimed that life she had been ready to renounce, lived 
laborious days and tried to drink, in toil, oblivion. But the dark lost 
face gleamed like a sudden and impalpable faun within the thickets of 
memory: she thought of the mark on his brown neck and wept. 

During the grim winter the shadows lifted slowly. Gant brought 
back the roaring fires, the groaning succulent table, the lavish and 
explosive ritual of the daily life. The old gusto surged back in their 
lives. 

And, as the winter waned, the interspersed darkness in Eugene's 
brain was lifted slowly, days, weeks, months began to emerge in conse- 
cutive brightness; his mind came from the confusion of the Fair: life 
opened practically. 

62 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 63 

Secure and conscious now in the guarded and sufficient strength of 
home, he lay with well-lined belly before the roasting vitality of the fire, 
poring insatiably over great volumes in the bookcase, exulting m the 
musty odor of the leaves, and in the pungent smell of their hot hides. 
The books he delighted in most were three huge calf-skin volumes called 
RidpatKs History of the World. Their numberless pages were illustrated 
with hundreds of drawings, engravings, wood-cuts: he followed the pro- 
gression of the centuries pictorially before he could read. The pictures 
of battle delighted him most of all. Exulting in the howl of the beaten 
wind about the house, the thunder of great trees, he committed himself 
to the dark storm, releasing the mad devil's hunger all men have in them, 
which lusts for darkness, the wind, and incalculable speed. The past 
unrolled to him in separate and enormous visions; he built unending 
legends upon the pictures of the kings of Egypt, charioted swiftly by 
soaring horses, and something infinitely old and recollective seemed to 
awaken in him as he looked on fabulous monsters, the twined beards 
and huge beast-bodies of Assyrian kings, the walls of Babylon. His brain 
swarmed with pictures Cyrus directing the charge, the spear-forest of 
the Macedonian phalanx, the splintered oars, the numberless huddle of 
the ships at Salamis, the feasts of Alexander, the terrific melee of the 
knights, the shattered lances, the axe and the sword, the massed pike- 
men, the beleaguered walls, the scaling ladders heavy with climbing men 
hurled backward, the Swiss who flung his body on the lances, the press 
of horse and foot, the gloomy forests of Gaul and Caesarean conquests. 
Gant sat farther away, behind him, swinging violently back and forth in 
a stout rocker, spitting clean and powerful spurts of tobacco-juice over 
his son's head into the hissing fire. 

Or again, Gant would read to him with sonorous and florid rhetoric 
passages from Shakespeare, among which he heard most often Marc 
Antony's funeral oration, Hamlet's soliloquy, the banquet scene in 
Macbeth, and the scene between Desdemona and Othello before he 
strangles her. Or, he would recite or read poetry, for which he had a 
capacious and retentive memory. His favorites were: "O why should 
the spirit of mortal be proud" ("Lincoln's favorite poem," he was fond 
of saying); " 'We are lost,' the captain shouted, As he staggered down 



64 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the stairs"; "I remember, I remember, the house where I was born"; 
"Ninety and nine with their captain, Rode on the enemy's track, Rode 
in the gray light of morning, Nine of the ninety came back" ; "The boy 
stood on the burning deck"; and "Half a league, half a league, half a 
league onward." 

Sometimes he would get Helen to recite "Still sits the schoolhouse 
by the road, a ragged beggar sunning; Around it still the sumachs grow, 
and blackberry vines are running." 

And when she had told how grasses had been growing over the 
girl's head for forty years, and how the gray-haired man had found in 
life's harsh school how few hated to go above him, because, you see, 
they love him, Gant would sigh heavily, and say with a shake of his 
head: 

"Ah me! There was never a truer word spoken than that." 

The family was at the very core and ripeness of its life together. 
Gant lavished upon it his abuse, his affection, and his prodigal provi- 
sioning. They came to look forward eagerly to his entrance, for he 
brought with him the great gusto of living, of ritual. They would watch 
him in the evening as he turned the corner below with eager strides, 
follow carefully the processional of his movements from the time he 
flung his provisions upon the kitchen table to the re-kindling of his fire, 
with which he was always at odds when he entered, and on to which 
he poured wood, coal and kerosene lavishly. This done, he would 
remove his coat and wash himself at the basin vigorously, rubbing his 
great hands across his shaven, tough-bearded face with the cleansing 
and male sound of sand-paper. Then he would thrust his body against 
the door jamb and scratch his back energetically by moving it violently 
to and fro. This done, he would empty another half can of kerosene on 
the howling flame, lunging savagely at it, and muttering to himself. 

Then, biting off a good hunk of powerful apple tobacco, which lay 
ready to his use on the mantel, he would pace back and forth across 
his room fiercely, oblivious of his grinning family who followed these 
ceremonies with exultant excitement, as he composed his tirade. Finally, 
he would burst in on Eliza in the kitchen, plunging to the heart of 
denunciation with a mad howl. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 65 

His turbulent and undisciplined rhetoric had acquired, by the reg- 
ular convention of its usage, something of the movement and directness 
of classical epithet: his similes were preposterous, created really in a 
spirit of vulgar mirth, and the great comic intelligence that was in the 
family down to the youngest was shaken daily by it. The children 
grew to await his return in the evening with a kind of exhilaration. 
Indeed, Eliza herself, healing slowly and painfully her great hurt, got a 
certain stimulation from it; but there was still in her a fear of the periods 
of drunkenness, and latently, a stubborn and unforgiving recollection 
of the past. 

But, during that winter, as death, assaulted by the quick and healing 
gaiety of children, those absolute little gods of the moment, lifted itself 
slowly out of their hearts, something like hopefulness returned to her. 
They were a life unto themselves how lonely they were they did not 
know, but they were known to every one and friended by almost no 
one. Their status was singular if they could have been distinguished 
by caste, they would probably have been called middle-class, but the 
Duncans, the Tarkintons, all their neighbors, and all their acquaintances 
throughout the town, never drew m to them, never came into the strange 
rich color of their lives, because they had twisted the design of all 
orderly life, because there was in them a mad, original, disturbing 
quality which they did not suspect. And companionship with the elect 
those like the Milliards was equally impossible, even if they had had 
the gift or the desire for it. But they hadn't. 

Gant was a great man, and not a singular one, because singularity 
does not hold life in unyielding devotion to it. 

As he stormed through the house, unleashing his gathered bolts, 
the children followed him joyously, shrieking exultantly as he told Eliza 
he had first seen her "wriggling around the corner like a snake on her 
belly," or, as coming in from freezing weather he had charged her and 
all the Pentlands with malevolent domination of the elements. 

"We will freeze," he yelled, "we will freeze in this hellish, damnable, 
cruel and God-forsaken climate. Does Brother Will care? Does Brother 
Jim care? Did the Old Hog, your miserable old father, care? Merciful 
God! I have fallen into the hands of fiends incarnate, more savage, 



66 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

more savage, more cruel, more abominable than the beasts of the field. 
Hellhounds that they are, they will sit by and gloat at my agony until 1 
am done to death." 

He paced rapidly about the adjacent wash-room for a moment, 
muttering to himself, while grinning Luke stood watchfully near. 

"But they can eat!" he shouted, plunging suddenly at the kitchen 
door. 'They can eat when some one else will feed them. I shall never 
forget the Old Hog as long as 1 live. Cr-unch, Cr-unch, Cr-unch," 
they were all exploded with laughter as his face assumed an expression 
of insane gluttony, and as he continued, in a slow, whining voice 
intended to represent the speech of the late Major: " 'Eliza, if you don't 
mind I'll have some more of that chicken,' when the old scoundrel had 
shovelled it down his throat so fast we had to carry him away from the 
table." 

As his denunciation reached some high extravagance the boys would 
squeal with laughter, and Gant, inwardly tickled, would glance around 
slyly with a faint grin bending the corners of his thin mouth. Eliza her- 
self would laugh shortly, and then exclaim roughly: "Get out of here! 
I've had enough of your goings-on for one night." 

Sometimes, on these occasions, his good humor grew so victorious 
that he would attempt clumsily to fondle her, putting one arm stiffly 
around her waist, while she bridled, became confused, and half-attempted 
to escape, saying: "Get away! Get away from me! It's too late for that 
now." Her white embarrassed smile was at once painful and comic: 
tears pressed closely behind it. At these rare, unnatural exhibitions of 
affection, the children laughed with constraint, fidgeted restlessly, and 
said: "Aw, papa, don't." 

Eugene, when he first noticed an occurrence of this sort, was getting 
on to his fifth year: shame gathered in him in tangled clots, aching in 
his throat; he twisted his neck about convulsively, smiling desperately 
as he did later when he saw poor buffoons or mawkish scenes in the 
theatre. And he was never after able to see them touch each other with 
affection, without the same inchoate and choking humiliation: they 
were so used to the curse, the clamor, and the roughness, that any 
variation into tenderness came as a cruel affectation. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 67 

But as the slow months, gummed with sorrow, dropped more 
clearly, the powerful germinal instinct for property and freedom began 
to re-awaken in Eliza, and the ancient submerged struggle between their 
natures began again. The children were growing up Eugene had found 
playmates Harry Tarkmton and Max Isaacs. Her sex was a fading 
coal. 

Season by season, there began again the old strife of ownership and 
taxes. Returning home, with the tax-collector's report m his hand, Gant 
would be genuinely frantic with rage. 

"In the name of God, Woman, what are we coming to? Before 
another year we'll all go to the poorhouse. Ah, Lord ! 1 see very well 
where it will all end. I'll go to the wall, every penny we've got will go 
into the pockets of those accursed swindlers, and the rest will come under 
the sheriff's hammer. I curse the day I was ever fool enough to buy the 
first stick. Mark my words, we'll be living m soup-kitchens before this 
fearful, this awful, this hellish and damnable winter is finished." 

She would purse her lips thoughtfully as she went over the list, 
while he looked at her with a face of strained agony. 

"Yes, it does look pretty bad," she would remark. And then: "It's 
a pity you didn't listen to me last summer, Mr. Gant, when we had a 
chance of trading m that worthless old Owenby place for those two 
houses on Carter Street. We could have been getting forty dollars a 
month rent on them ever since." 

"I never want to own another foot of land as long as I live," he 
yelled. "It's kept me a poor man all my life, and when I die they'll have 
to give me six feet of earth m Pauper's Field." And he would grow 
broodmgly philosophic, speaking of the vanity of human effort, the last 
resting-place m earth of rich and poor, the significant fact that we could 
"take none of it with us," ending perhaps with "Ah me! It all comes to 
the same m the end, anyway." 

Or, he would quote a few stanzas of Gray's Elegy, using that ency- 
clopaedia of stock melancholy with rather indefinite application: 

" Await alike th' inevitable hour, 
The paths of glory lead but to the grave." 



68 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

But Eliza sat grimly on what they had. 

Gant, for all his hatred of land ownership, was proud of living 
under his own shelter, and indeed proud in the possession of anything 
that was sanctified by his usage, and that gave him comfort. He would 
have liked ready and unencumbered affluence the possession of huge 
sums of money in the bank and in his pocket, the freedom to travel 
grandly, to go before the world spaciously. He liked to carry large sums 
of money in his pocket, a practice of which Eliza disapproved, and for 
which she reprimanded him frequently. Once or twice, when he was 
drunk, he had been robbed: he would brandish a roll of bills about 
under the stimulation of whisky, and dispense large sums to his chil- 
dren ten, twenty, fifty dollars to each, with maudlin injunctions to 
"take it all! Take it all, God damn it!" But next day he was equally 
assiduous in his demands for its return: Helen usually collected it from 
the sometimes unwilling fingers of the boys. She would give it to him 
next day. She was, fifteen or sixteen years old, and almost six feet high: a 
tall thin girl, with large hands and feet, big-boned, generous features, 
behind which the hysteria of constant excitement lurked. 

The bond between the girl and her father grew stronger every day : 
she was nervous, intense, irritable, and abusive as he was. She adored 
him. He had begun to suspect that this devotion, and his own response 
to it, was a cause more and more of annoyance to Eliza, and he was 
inclined to exaggerate and emphasize it, particularly when he was drunk, 
when his furious distaste for his wife, his obscene complaint against her, 
was crudely balanced by his maudlin docility to the girl. 

And Eliza's hurt was deeper because she knew that just at this time, 
when her slightest movement goaded him, did what was most rawly 
essential in him reveal itself. She was forced to keep out of his way, 
lock herself in her room, while her young daughter victoriously subdued 
him. 

The friction between Helen and Eliza was often acute: they spoke 
sharply and curtly to each other, and were painfully aware of the other's 
presence in cramped quarters. And, in addition to the unspoken rivalry 
over Gant, the girl was in the same way, equally, rasped by the temper- 
amental difference of Eliza driven to fury at times by her slow, mouth- 




pursing speech, her placidity, the intonations of her voice, the deep 
abiding patience of her nature. 

They fed stupendously. Eugene began to observe the food and the 
seasons. In the autumn, they barrelled huge frosty apples in the cellar. 
Gant bought whole hogs from the butcher, returning home early to 
salt them, wearing a long work-apron, and rolling his sleeves half up his 
lean hairy arms. Smoked bacons hung in the pantry, the great bins 
were full of flour, the dark recessed shelves groaned with preserved 
cherries, peaches, plums, quinces, apples, pears. All that he touched 
waxed in rich pungent life: his Spring gardens, wrought in the black wet 
earth below the fruit trees, flourished in huge crinkled lettuces that 
wrenched cleanly from the loamy soil with small black clots stuck to 



70 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

their crisp stocks; fat red radishes; heavy tomatoes. The rich plums lay 
bursted on the grass; his huge cherry trees oozed with heavy gum jewels; 
his apple trees bent with thick green clusters. The earth was spermy for 
him like a big woman. 

Spring was full of cool dewy mornings, spurting winds, and storms 
of intoxicating blossoms, and in this enchantment Eugene first felt the 
mixed lonely ache and promise of the seasons. 

In the morning they rose in a house pungent with breakfast cookery, 
and they sat at a smoking table loaded with brains and eggs, ham, hot 
biscuit, fried apples seething in their gummed syrups, honey, golden 
butter, fried steak, scalding coffee. Or there were stacked batter-cakes, 
rum-colored molasses, fragrant brown sausages, a bowl of wet cherries, 
plums, fat juicy bacon, jam. At the mid-day meal, they ate heavily: a 
huge hot roast of beef, fat buttered lima-beans, tender corn smoking 
on the cob, thick red slabs of sliced tomatoes, rough savory spinach, 
hot yellow corn-bread, flaky biscuits, a deep-dish peach and apple cob- 
bler spiced with cinnamon, tender cabbage, deep glass dishes piled with 
preserved fruits cherries, pears, peaches. At night they might eat fried 
steak, hot squares of grits fried in egg and butter, pork-chops, fish, 
young fried chicken. 

For the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts four heavy turkeys were 
bought and fattened for weeks: Eugene fed them with cans of shelled 
corn several times a day, but he could not bear to be present at their 
executions, because by that time their cheerful excited gobbles made 
echoes in his heart. Eliza baked for weeks in advance: the whole energy 
of the family focussed upon the great ritual of the feast. A day or two 
before, the auxiliary dainties arrived in piled grocer's boxes the magic 
of strange foods and fruits was added to familiar fare: there were 
glossed sticky dates, cold rich figs, cramped belly to belly in small boxes, 
dusty raisins, mixed nuts the almond, pecan, the meaty nigger-toe, 
the walnut, sacks of assorted candies, piles of yellow Florida oranges, 
tangerines, sharp, acrid, nostalgic odors. 

Seated before a roast or a fowl, Gant began a heavy clangor on his 
steel and carving knife, distributing thereafter Gargantuan portions to 
each plate. Eugene feasted from a high chair by his father's side, filled 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 71 

his distending belly until it was drum-tight, and was permitted to stop 
eating by his watchful sire only when his stomach was impregnable to 
the heavy prod of Gant's big finger. 

"There's a soft place there," he would roar, and he would cover 
the scoured plate of his infant son with another heavy slab of beef. 
That their machinery withstood this hammer-handed treatment was a 
tribute to their vitality and Eliza's cookery. 

Gant ate ravenously and without caution. He was immoderately 
fond of fish, and he invariably choked upon a bone while eating it. 
This happened hundreds of times, but each time he would look up sud- 
denly with a howl of agony and terror, groaning and crying out strongly 
while a half-dozen hands pounded violently on his back. 

"Merciful God!" he would gasp finally, "I thought I was done for 
that time." 

"I'll vow, Mr. Gant," Eliza was vexed. "Why on earth don't you 
watch what you're doing? If you didn't eat so fast you wouldn't always 
get choked." 

The children, staring, but relieved, settled slowly back in their 
places. 

He had a Dutch love of abundance: again and again he described, 
the great stored barns, the groaning plenty of the Pennsylvanians. 

On his journey to California, he had been charmed in New Orleans 
by the cheapness and profusion of tropical fruits : a peddler offered him 
a great bunch of bananas for twenty-five cents, and Gant had taken 
them at once, wondering desperately later, as they moved across the 
continent, why, and what he was going to do with them. 




Ihis journey to California was Gant's last great voyage. He made 
it two years after Eliza's return from St. Louis, when he was fifty-six 
years old. In the great frame was already stirring the chemistry of pain 
and death. Unspoken and undefined there was in him the knowledge 
that he was at length caught in the trap of life and fixity, that he was 
being borne under in this struggle against the terrible will that wanted 
to own the earth more than to explore it. This was the final flare of the 
old hunger that had once darkened in the small gray eyes, leading a 
boy into new lands and toward the soft stone smile of an angel. 

And he returned from nine thousand miles of wandering, to the 
bleak bare prison of the hills on a gray day late in winter. 

In the more than eight thousand days and nights of this life with 
Eliza, how often had he been wakefully, soberly and peripatetically 
conscious of the world outside him between the hours of one and five 
A. M.? Wholly, for not more than nineteen nights one for the birth 
of Leslie, Eliza's first daughter; one for her death twenty-six months 
later, cholera infantis; one for the death of Major Tom Pentland, Eliza's 
father, in May, 1902; one for the birth of Luke; one, on the train west- 

72 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 73 

bound to Saint Louis, en route to Grover's death; one for the death in 
the Playhouse (1893) of Uncle Thaddeus Evans, an aged and devoted 
negro; one, with Eliza, in the month of March, 1897, as deathwatch to 
the corpse of old Major Isaacs; three at the end of the month of July, 
1 897, when it was thought that Eliza, withered to a white sheeting of 
skin upon a bone frame, must die of typhoid; again in early April, 1903, 
for Luke, typhoid death near; one for the death of Greeley Pentland, 
aged twenty-six, congenital scrofulous tubercular, violinist, Pentlandian 
punster, petty check-forger, and six weeks' jailbird; three nights, from 
the eleventh to the fourteenth of January, 1905, by the rheumatic cruci- 
fixion of his right side, participant in his own grief, accuser of himself 
and his God; once in February, 1896, as deathwatch to the remains of 
Sandy Duncan, aged eleven; once in September, 1895, pemtentially alert 
and shamefast in the City "calaboose" ; in a room of the Keeley Institute 
at Piedmont, North Carolina, June 7, 1896; on March 17, 1906, between 
Knoxville, Tennessee, and Altamont, at the conclusion of a seven weeks' 
journey to California. 

How looked the home-earth then to Gant the Far- Wanderer? Light 
crept grayly, melting on the rocky river, the engine smoke streaked out 
on dawn like a cold breath, the hills were big, but nearer, nearer than 
he thought. And Altamont lay gray and withered in the hills, a bleak 
mean wintry dot. He stepped carefully down m squalid Toytown, noting 
that everything was low, near, and shrunken as he made his Gullivenan 
entry. He had a roof-and-gulley high conviction; with careful tucked-m 
elbows he weighted down the heated Toytown street-car, staring pain- 
fully at the dirty pasteboard pebbledash of the Pisgah Hotel, the brick 
and board cheap warehouses of Depot Street, the rusty clapboard flim- 
siness of the Florence (Railway Men's) Hotel, quaking with beef-fed 
harlotry. 

So small, so small, so small, he thought. I never believed it. Even 
the hills here. I'll soon be sixty. 

His sallow face, thin-flanked, was hang-dog and afraid. He stared 
wistful-sullenly down at the rattan seat as the car screeched round into 
the switch at the cut and stopped; the motorman, smoke-throated, slid 



74 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the door back and entered with his handle. He closed the door and sat 
down yawning. 

"Where you been, Mr. Gant?" 

"California," said Gant. 

"Thought I hadn't seen you," said the motorman. 

There was a warm electric smell and one of hot burnt steel. 

But two months dead! But two months dead! Ah, Lord! So it's 
come to this. Merciful God, this fearful, awful, and damnable climate. 
Death, death! Is it too late? A land of life, a flower land. How clear 
the green clear sea was. And all the fishes swimming there. Santa Cata- 
lina. Those in the East should always go West. How came I here? 
Down, down always down, did I know where? Baltimore, Sydney 
In God's name, why? The little boat glass-bottomed, so you could look 
down. She lifted up her skirts as she stepped down. Where now? A 
pair of pippins. 

"Jim Bowles died while you were gone, I reckon," said the motor- 
man. 

"What!" howled Gant. "Merciful God!" he clucked mournfully 
downward. "What did he die of?" he asked. 

"Pneumonia," said the motorman. "He was dead four days after 
he was took down." 

"Why, he was a big healthy man in the prime of life," said Gant. 
"I was talking to him the day before I went away," he lied, convincing 
himself permanently that this was true. "He looked as if he had never 
known a day's sickness in his life." 

"He went home one Friday night with a chill," said the motorman, 
"and the next Tuesday he was gone." 

There was a crescent humming on the rails. With his thick glove 
finger he pushed away a clearing in the window-coated ice scurf and 
looked smokily out on the raw red cut-bank. The other car appeared 
abruptly at the end of the cut and curved with a skreeking jerk into the 
switch. 

"No, sir," said the motorman, sliding back the door, "you never 
know who'll go next. Here to-day and gone to-morrow. Hit gits the 
big 'uns first sometimes." 




He closed the door behind him and jerkily opened three notches of 
juice. The car ground briskly off like a wound toy. 

In the prime of life, thought Gant. Myself like that some day. 
No, for others. Mother almost eighty-six. Eats like a horse, Augusta 
wrote. Must send her twenty dollars. Now in the cold clay, frozen. 
Keep till Spring. Rain, rot, rain. Who got the job? Brock or Saul 
Gudger? Bread out of my mouth. Do me to death the stranger. 
Georgia marble, sandstone base, forty dollars. 

"A gracious friend from us is gone, 
A voice we loved is fled, 
But faith and memory lead us on : 
He lives; he is not dead." 



76 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Four cents a letter. Little enough, God knows, for the work you 
do. My letters the best. Could have been a writer. Like to draw too. 
And all of mine! I would have heard if anything he would have told 
me. I'll never go that way. All right above the waist. If anything hap- 
pens it will be down below. Eaten away. Whisky holes through all 
your guts. Pictures in Cardiac's office of man with cancer. But several 
doctors have to agree on it. Criminal offense if they don't. But, if worst 
comes to worst all that's outside. Get it before it gets up in you. Still 
live. Old man Haight had a flap in his belly. Ladled it out in a cup. 
McGuire damned butcher. But he can do anything. Cut off a piece 
here, sew it on there. Made the Hominy man a nose with a piece of 
shinbone. Couldn't tell it. Ought to be possible. Cut all the strings, tie 
them up again. While you wait. Sort of job for McGuire rough and 
ready. They'll do it some day. After I'm gone. Things standing thus, 
unknown but kill you maybe. Bull's too big. Soon now the Spring. 
You'd die. Not big enough. All bloody in her brain. Full filling fountains 
of bull-milk. Jupiter and what's-her-name. 

But westward now he caught a glimpse of Pisgah and the western 
range. It was more spacious there. The hills climbed sunward to the 
sun. There was width to the eye, a smoking sun-hazed amplitude, the 
world convoluting and opening into the world, hill and plain, into the 
west. The West for desire, the East for home. To the east the short 
near mile-away hills reeked protectively above the town. Birdseye, Sun- 
set. A straight plume of smoke coiled thickly from Judge Buck Sevier's 
smut-white clapboard residence on the decent side of Pisgah Avenue, 
thin smoke- wisps rose from the nigger shacks in the ravine below. 
Breakfast. Fried brains and eggs with streaky rashers of limp bacon. 
Wake, wake, wake, you mountain grills! Sleeps she yet, wrapped dirtily 
in three old wrappers in stale, airless yellow-shaded cold. The chapped 
hands sick-sweet glycenned. Gum-headed bottles, hairpins, and the bits 
of string. No one may enter now. Ashamed. 

A paper-carrier, number 7, finished his route on the corner of Vine 
Street, as the car stopped, turned eastwards now from Pisgah Avenue 
toward the town core. The boy folded, bent, and flattened the fresh 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 77 

sheets deftly, throwing the block angularly thirty yards upon the porch 
of Shields the jeweller; it struck the boarding and bounded back with 
a fresh plop. Then he walked off with fatigued relief into time toward 
the twentieth century, feeling gratefully the ghost-kiss of absent weight 
upon his now free but still leaning right shoulder. 

About fourteen, thought Gant. That would be Spring of 1864. The 
mule camp at Harrisburg. Thirty a month and keep. Men stank worse 
than mules. I was in third bunk on top. Gil m second. Keep your 
damned dirty hoof out of my mouth. It's bigger than a mule's. That 
was the man. If it ever lands on you, you bastard, you'll think it is a 
mule's, said Gil. Then they had it. Mother made us go. Big enough to 
work, she said. Born at the heart of the world, why here? Twelve miles 
from Gettysburg. Out of the South they came. Stove-pipe hats they had 
stolen. No shoes. Give me a drink, son. That was Fitzhugh Lee. After 
the third day we went over. Devil's Den. Cemetery Ridge. Stinking 
piles of arms and legs. Some of it done with meat-saws. Is the land 
richer now? The great barns bigger than the houses. Big eaters, all of 
us. I hid the cattle in the thicket. Belle Boyd, the Beautiful Rebel Spy. 
Sentenced to be shot four times. Took the despatches from his pocket 
while they danced. Probably a little chippie. 

Hog-chithns and hot cracklin' bread. Must get some. The whole 
hog or none. Always been a good provider. Little I ever had done for 
me. 

The car still climbing, mounted the flimsy cheap-boarded brown- 
gray smuttmess of Skyland Avenue. 

America's Switzerland. The Beautiful Land of the Sky. Jesus God! 
Old Bowman said he'll be a rich man some day. Built up all the way 
to Pasadena. Come on out. Too late now. Think he was in love with 
her. No matter. Too old. Wants her out there. No fool like White 
bellies of the fish. A spring somewhere to wash me through. Clean as 
a baby once more. New Orleans, the night Jim Corbett knocked out 
John L. Sullivan. The man who tried to rob me. My clothes and my 
watch. Five blocks down Canal Street in my nightgown. Two A. M. 
Threw them all in a heap watch landed on top. Fight in my room. 
Town full of crooks and pickpockets for prizefight. Make good story. 



78 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Policeman half hour later. They come out and beg you to come in. 
Frenchwomen. Creoles. Beautiful Creole heiress. Steamboat race. Cap- 
tain, they are gaining. I will not be beaten. Out of wood. Use the bacon 
she said proudly. There was a terrific explosion. He got her as she 
sank the third time and swam to shore. They powder in front of the 
window, smacking their lips at you. For old men better maybe. Who 
gets the business there? Bury them all above ground. Water two feet 
down. Rots them. Why not? All big jobs. Italy. Carrara and Rome. 
Yet Brutus is an hon-or-able man. What's a Creole? French and 
Spanish. Has she any nigger blood? Ask Cardiac? 

The car paused briefly at the car-shed, in sight of its stabled broth- 
ers. Then it moved reluctantly past the dynamic atmosphere of the 
Power and Light Company, wheeling bluntly into the gray frozen ribbon 
of Hatton Avenue, running gently up hill nears its end into the frore 
silence of the Square. 

Ah, Lord! Well do I remember. The old man offered me the whole 
piece for $1,000 three days after I arrived. Millionaire to-day if 

The car passed the Tuskegee on its eighty-yard climb into the 
Square. The fat slick worn leather-chairs marshalled between a fresh- 
rubbed gleaming line of brass spittoons squatted massively on each side 
of the entry door, before thick sheets of plate-glass that extended almost 
to the sidewalks with indecent nearness. 

Many a fat man's rump upon the leather. Like fish in a glass case. 
Travelling man's wet chewed cigar, spit-limp on his greasy lips. Staring 
at all the women. Can't look back long. Gives advantage. 

A negro bellboy sleepily wafted a gray dust-cloth across the leather. 
Within, before the replenished crackle-dance of the wood-fire, the night- 
clerk sprawled out in the deep receiving belly of a leather divan. 

The car reached the Square, jolted across the netting of north- 
south lines, and came to a halt on the north side, facing east. Scurfing 
a patch away from the glazed window, Gant looked out. The Square 
in the wan-gray frozen morning walled round him with frozen unnatural 
smallness. He felt suddenly the cramped mean fixity of the Square: this 
was the one fixed spot in a world that writhed, evolved, and changed 
constantly in his vision, and he felt a sick green fear, a frozen con- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 79 

striction about his heart because the centre of his life now looked so 
shrunken. He got very definitely the impression that if he flung out his 
arms they would strike against the walls of the mean three-and-four- 
story brickbuilt buildings that flanked the Square raggedly. 

Anchored to earth at last, he was hit suddenly by the whole cumula- 
tion of sight and movement, of eating, drinking, and acting that had 
gathered in him for two months. The limitless land, wood, field, hill, 
prairie, desert, mountain, the coast rushing away below his eyes, the 
ground that swam before his eyes at stations, the remembered ghosts 
of gumbo, oysters, huge Frisco seasteaks, tropical fruits swarmed with 
the infinite life, the ceaseless pullulation of the sea. Here only, in this 
unreal-reality, this unnatural vision of what he had known for twenty 
years, did life lose its movement, change, color. 

The Square had the horrible concreteness of a dream. At the far 
southeastern edge he saw his shop: his name painted hugely in dirty 
scaly white across the brick near the roof: W. O. Gant Marbles, 
Tombstones, Cemetery Fixtures. It was like a dream of hell, when a man 
finds his own name staring at him from the Devil's ledger; like a dream 
of death, when he who comes as mourner finds himself in the coffin, or 
as witness to a hanging, the condemned upon the scaffold. 

A sleepy negro employed at the Manor Hotel clambered heavily up 
and slumped into one of the seats reserved for his race at the back. In 
a moment he began to snore gently through his blubbered lips. 

At the east end of the Square, Big Bill Messier, with his vest half- 
unbuttoned over his girdled paunch-belly, descended slowly the steps 
of the City Hall, and moved soundingly off with country leisure along 
the cold-metallic sidewalk. The fountain, ringed with a thick bracelet 
of ice, played at quarter-strength a sheening glut of ice-blue water. 

Cars droned separately into their focal positions; the carmen 
stamped their feet and talked smokily together; there was a breath of 
beginning life. Beside the City Hall, the firemen slept above their 
wagons : behind the bolted door great hoofs drummed woodenly. 

A dray rattled across the east end of the Square before the City 
Hall, the old horse leaning back cautiously as he sloped down into the 
dray market by the oblique cobbled passage at the southeast that cut 




Gant's shop away from the market and "calaboose." As the car moved 
eastward again, Gant caught an angular view of Niggertown across this 
passage. The settlement was plumed delicately with a hundred tiny 
fumes of smoke. 

The car sloped swiftly now down Academy Street, turned, as the 
upper edge of the negro settlement impinged steeply from the valley 
upon the white, into Ivy Street, and proceeded north along a street 
bordered on one side by smutty pebble-dash cottages, and on the other 
by a grove of lordly oaks, in which the large quaking plaster pile of old 
Professor Bowman's deserted School for Young Ladies loomed deso- 
lately, turning and stopping at the corner, at the top of the Woodson 
Street hill, by the great wintry, wooden, and deserted barn of the Ivy 
Hotel. It had never paid. 

Gant kneed his heavy bag before him down the passage, deposit- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 81 

ing it for a moment at the curbing before he descended the hill. The 
unpaved frozen clay fell steeply and lumpily away. It was steeper, 
shorter, nearer than he thought. Only the trees looked large. He saw 
Duncan come out on his porch, shirtsleeved, and pick up the morning 
paper. Speak to him later. Too long now. As he expected, there was 
a fat coil of morning smoke above the Scotchman's chimney, but none 
from his own. 

He went down the hill, opening his iron gate softly, and going 
around to the side entrance by the yard, rather than ascend the steep 
veranda steps. The grape vines, tough and barren, writhed about the 
house like sinewy ropes. He entered the sitting-room quietly. There was 
a strong odor of cold leather. Cold ashes were strewn thinly in the grate. 
He put his bag down and went back through the wash-room into the 
kitchen. Eliza, wearing one of his old coats, and a pair of fingerless 
woollen gloves, poked among the embers of a crawling little fire. 

"Well, I'm back," Gant said. 

"Why, what on earth!*' she cried as he knew she would, becoming 
flustered and moving her arms indeterminately. He laid his hand clum- 
sily on her shoulder for a moment. They stood awkwardly without 
movement. Then he seized the oil-can, and drenched the wood with 
kerosene. The flame roared up out of the stove. 

"Mercy, Mr. Gant," cried Eliza, "you'll burn us up!" 

But, seizing a handful of cut sticks and the oil-can, he lunged 
furiously toward the sitting-room. 

As the flame shot roaring up from the oiled pine sticks, and he 
felt the fire-full chimney-throat tremble, he recovered joy. He brought 
back the width of the desert; the vast yellow serpent of the river, alluvial 
with the mined accretions of the continent; the rich vision of laden 
ships, masted above the sea-walls, the world-nostalgic ships, bearing 
about them the filtered and concentrated odors of the earth, sensual 
negroid rum and molasses, tar, ripening guavas, bananas, tangerines, 
pineapples in the warm holds of tropical boats, as cheap, as profuse, as 
abundant as the lazy equatorial earth and all its women; the great names 
of Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California; the blasted fiend- 
world of the desert, and the terrific boles of trees, tunnelled for the 



82 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

passage of a coach; water that fell from a mountain-top in a smoking 
noiseless coil, internal boiling lakes flung skywards by the punctual 
respiration of the earth, the multitudinous torture in form of granite 
oceans, gouged depthlessly by canyons, and iridescent with the daily 
chameleon-shift beyond man, beyond nature, of terrific colors, below 
the un-human iridescence of the sky. 

Eliza, still excited, recovering speech, followed him into the sitting- 
room, holding her chapped gloved hands clasped before her stomach 
while she talked. 

"I was saying to Steve last night, 'It wouldn't surprise me if your 
papa would come rolling in at any minute now' I just had a feeling, 
I don't know what you'd call it," she said, her face plucked inward by 
her sudden fabrication of legend, "but it's pretty strange when you come 
to think about it. I was in Garret's the other day ordering some things, 
some vanilla extract, soda and a pound of coffee when Aleck Carter 
came up to me. 'Eliza,' he said, 'when's Mr. Gant coming back I 
think I may have a job for him?' 'Why, Aleck,' I said, 'I don't much 
expect him before the first of April.' Well, sir, what do you know I 
had no sooner got out on the street I suppose I must have been 
thinking of something else, because I remember Emma Aldrich came 
by and hollered to me and I didn't think to answer her until she had 
gone on by, so I called out just as big as you please to her, 'Emma!' 
the thing flashed over me all of a sudden I was just as sure of it as 
I'm standing here 'what do you think? Mr. Gant's on his way back 
home.' " 

Jesus God! thought Gant. It's begun again. 

Her memory moved over the ocean-bed of event like a great octo- 
pus, blindly but completely feeling its way into every seacave, rill, and 
estuary, focussed on all she had done, felt and thought, with sucking 
Pentlandian intentness, for whom the sun shone, or grew dark, rain 
fell, and mankind came, spoke, and died, shifted for a moment in time 
out of its void into the Pentlandian core, pattern and heart of purpose. 
Meanwhile, as he laid big gleaming lumps of coal upon the wood, 
he muttered to himself, his mind ordering m a mounting sequence, with 
balanced and climactic periods, his carefully punctuated rhetoric. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 83 

Yes, musty cotton, baled and piled under long sheds of railway 
sidings; and odorous pine woodlands of the level South, saturated with 
brown faery light, and broken by the tall straight leafless poles of trees; 
a woman's leg below an elegantly lifted skirt mounting to a carriage in 
Canal Street (French or Creole probably) ; a white arm curved reaching 
for a window shade, French-olive faces window-glimmering, the Georgia 
doctor's wife who slept above him going out, the unquenchable fish- 
filled abundance of the unfenced, blue, slow cat-slapping lazy Pacific; 
and the river, the all-drinking, yellow, slow-surging snake that drained 
the continent. His life was like that river, rich with its own deposited 
and onward-borne agglutinations, fecund with its sedimental accretions, 
filled exhaustlessly by life in order to be more richly itself, and this life, 
with the great purpose of a river, he emptied now into the harbor of his 
house, the sufficient haven of himself, for whom the gnarled vines wove 
round him thrice, the earth burgeoned with abundant fruit and blossom, 
the fire burnt madly. 

"What have you got for breakfast?" he said to Eliza. 

"Why," she said, pursing her lips meditatively, "would you like 
some eggs?" 

"Yes," said he, "with a few rashers of bacon and a couple of pork 
sausages." 

He strode across the dining-room and went up the hall. 

"Steve! Ben! Luke! You damned scoundrels!" he yelled. "Get 
up!" 

Their feet thudded almost simultaneously upon the floor. 

"Papa's home!" they shrieked. 

Mr. Duncan watched butter soak through a new-baked roll. He 
looked through his curtain angularly down, and saw thick acrid smoke 
biting heavily into the air above Gant's house. 

"He's back," said he, with satisfaction. * 

So, at the moment looking, Tarkinton of the paints said: "W. O.'s 
back." 

Thus came he home, who had put out to land westward, Gant the 
Far-Wanderer. 




8 

tl/ugene was loose now in the limitless meadows of sensation: his 
sensory equipment was so complete that at the moment of perception 
of a single thing, the whole background of color, warmth, odor, sound, 
taste established itself, so that later, the breath of hot dandelion brought 
back the grass-warm banks of Spring, a day, a place, the rustling of 
young leaves, or the page of a book, the thin exotic smell of tangerine, 
the wintry bite of great apples; or, as with Gulliver's Travels, a bright 
windy day in March, the spurting moments of warmth, the drip and 
reek of the earth-thaw, the feel of the fire. 

He had won his first release from the fences of home he was not 
quite six, when, of his own insistence, he went to school. Eliza did not 
want him to go, but his only close companion, Max Isaacs, a year his 
senior, was going, and there was in his heart a constricting terror that 
he would be left alone again. She told him he could not go: she felt, 
somehow, that school began the slow, the final loosening of the cords 
that held them together, but as she saw him slide craftily out the gate 
one morning in September and run at top speed to the corner where the 
other little boy was waiting, she did nothing to bring him back. Some- 
thing taut snapped in her; she remembered his furtive backward glance, 

84 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 85 

and she wept. And she did not weep for herself, but for him: the hour 
after his birth she had looked in his dark eyes and had seen something 
that would brood there eternally, she knew, unfathomable wells of 
remote and intangible loneliness : she knew that m her dark and sorrow- 
ful womb a stranger had come to life, fed by the lost communications 
of eternity, his own ghost, haunter of his own house, lonely to himself 
and to the world. O lost. 

Busy with the ache of their own growing-pains, his brothers and 
sisters had little time for him: he was almost six years younger than 
Luke, the youngest of them, but they exerted over him the occasional 
small cruelties, petty tormentings by elder children of a younger, inter- 
ested and excited by the brief screaming insanity of his temper when, 
goaded and taunted from some deep dream, he would seize a carving 
knife and pursue them, or batter his head against the walls. 

They felt that he was "queer" the other boys preached the smug 
cowardice of the child-herd, defending themselves, when their persecu- 
tions were discovered, by saying they would make a "real boy" of him. 
But there grew up in him a deep affection for Ben who stalked occa- 
sionally and softly through the house, guarding even then with scowling 
eyes, and surly speech, the secret life. Ben was a stranger: some deep 
instinct drew him to his child-brother, a portion of his small earnings 
as a paper-carrier he spent in gifts and amusement for Eugene, admon- 
ishing him sullenly, cuffing him occasionally, but defending him before 
the others. 

Gant, as he watched his brooding face set for hours before a fire- 
lit book of pictures, concluded that the boy liked books, more vaguely, 
that he would make a lawyer of him, send him into politics, see him 
elected to the governorship, the Senate, the presidency. And he un- 
folded to him time after time all the rude American legendry of the 
country boys who became great men because they were country boys, 
poor boys, and hard-working farm boys. But Eliza thought of him as 
a scholar, a learned man, a professor, and with that convenient after- 
thought that annoyed Gant so deeply, but by which she firmly convinced 
herself, she saw in this book-brooder the fruit of her own deliberate 
design. 



86 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"I read every moment I could get the chance the summer before 
he was born," she said. And then, with a complacent and confidential 
smile which, Gant knew, always preceded some reference to her family, 
she said: "I tell you what: it may all come out in the Third Generation." 

"The Third Generation be Goddamned!" answered Gant furiously. 

"Now, I want to tell you," she went on thoughtfully, speaking with 
her forefinger, "folks have always said that his grandfather would have 
made a fine scholar if " 

"Merciful God!" said Gant, getting up suddenly and striding about 
the room with an ironical laugh. "I might have known that it would 
come to this! You may be sure," he exclaimed in high excitement, 
wetting his thumb briefly on his tongue, "that if there's any credit to 
be given I won't get it. Not from you! You'd rather die than admit 
it! No, but I'll tell you what you will do! You'll brag about that 
miserable old freak who never did a hard day's work in his life." 

"Now, I wouldn't be so sure of that if I were you," Eliza began, 
her lips working rapidly. 

"Jesus God!" he cried, flinging about the room with his customary 
indifference to reasoned debate. "Jesus God! What a travesty! A trav- 
esty on Nature! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!" he exclaimed, 
indefinitely but violently, and then as he strode about, he gave way to 
loud, bitter, forced laughter. 



Thus, pent in his dark soul, Eugene sat brooding on a fire-lit book, 
a stranger in a noisy inn. The gates of his life were closing him in from 
their knowledge, a vast aerial world of phantasy was erecting its fuming 
and insubstantial fabric. He steeped his soul in streaming imagery, 
rifling the book-shelves for pictures and finding there such treasures as 
With Stanley in Africa, rich in the mystery of the jungle, alive with 
combat, black battle, the hurled spear, vast snake-rooted forests, 
thatched villages, gold and ivory; or Stoddard's Lectures, on whose 
slick heavy pages were stamped the most- visited scenes of Europe and 
Asia; a Book of Wonder, with enchanting drawings of all the marvels 
of the age Santos Dumont in his balloon, liquid air poured from a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 87 

kettle, all the navies of the earth lifted two feet from the water by an 
ounce of radium (Sir William Crookes), the building of the Eiffel Tower, 
the Flatiron Building, the stick-steered automobile, the submarine. 
After the earthquake in San Francisco there was a book describing it, 
its cheap green cover lurid with crumbling towers, shaken spires, top- 
pling many-stoned houses plunging into the splitting flame-jawed earth. 
And there was another called Palaces of Sin, or The Devil in Society, 
purporting to be the work of a pious millionaire, who had drained his 




vast fortune in exposing the painted sores that blemish the spotless- 
seeming hide of great position, and there were enticing pictures showing 
the author walking in a silk hat down a street full of magnificent palaces 
of sin. 

Out of this strange jumbled gallery of pictures the pieced-out world 
was expanding under the brooding power of his imagination: the lost 
dark angels of the Dore "Milton" swooped into cavernous Hell beyond 
this upper earth of soaring or toppling spires, machine wonder, maced 
and mailed romance. And, as he thought of his future liberation into 
this epic world, where all the color of life blazed brightest far away 
from home, his heart flooded his face with lakes of blood. 

He had heard already the ringing of remote church bells over a 



88 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

countryside on Sunday night; had listened to the earth steeped in the 
brooding of dark, and the million-noted little night things; and he 
had heard thus the far retreating wail of a whistle in a distant valley, 
and faint thunder on the rails; and he felt the infinite depth and width 
of the golden world in the brief seductions of a thousand multiplex and 
mixed mysterious odors and sensations, weaving, with a blinding 
interplay and aural explosions, one into the other. 

He remembered yet the East India Tea House at the Fair, the 
sandalwood, the turbans, and the robes, the cool interior and the smell 
of India tea; and he had felt now the nostalgic thrill of dew- wet morn- 
ings in Spring, the cherry scent, the cool clarion earth, the wet loammess 
of the garden, the pungent breakfast smells and the floating snow of 
blossoms. He knew the inchoate sharp excitement of hot dandelions 
in young Spring grass at noon; the smell of cellars, cobwebs, and built-on 
secret earth; in July, of watermelons bedded in sweet hay, inside a 
farmer's covered wagon; of cantaloupe and crated peaches; and the 
scent of orange rind, bitter-sweet, before a fire of coals. He knew the 
good male smell of his father's sitting-room; of the smooth worn leather 
sofa, with the gaping horse-hair rent; of the blistered varnished wood 
upon the hearth; of the heated calf-skin bindings; of the flat moist 
plug of apple tobacco, stuck with a red flag; of wood-smoke and burnt 
leaves in October; of the brown tired autumn earth; of honey-suckle 
at night; of warm nasturtiums; of a clean ruddy farmer who comes 
weekly with printed butter, eggs and milk; of fat limp underdone bacon 
and of coffee; of a bakery-oven m the wind; of large deep-hued string- 
beans smoking-hot and seasoned well with salt and butter; of a room 
of old pine boards in which books and carpets have been stored, long 
closed; of Concord grapes in their long white baskets. 

Yes, and the exciting smell of chalk and varnished desks; the smell 
of heavy bread-sandwiches of cold fried meat and butter; the smell of 
new leather in a saddler's shop, or of a warm leather chair; of honey 
and of unground coffee; of barrelled sweet-pickles and cheese and all 
the fragrant compost of the grocer's; the smell of stored apples in the 
cellar, and of orchard-apple smells, of pressed-cider pulp; of pears 
ripening on a sunny shelf, and of ripe cherries stewing with sugar on 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 89 

hot stoves before preserving; the smell of whittled wood, of all young 
lumber, of sawdust and shavings; of peaches stuck with cloves and 
pickled in brandy; of pine-sap, and green pine-needles; of a horse's 
pared hoof; of chestnuts roasting, of bowls of nuts and raisins; of hot 
crackhn, and of young roast pork; of butter and cinnamon melting on 
hot candied yams. 

Yes, and of the rank slow river, and of tomatoes rotten on the 
vine; the smell of rain-wet plums and boiling quinces; of rotten lily- 
pads; and of foul weeds rotting in green marsh scum; and the exquisite 
smell of the South, clean but funky, like a big woman; of soaking trees 
and the earth after heavy rain. 

Yes, and the smell of hot daisy-fields in the morning; of melted 
puddlmg-iron in a foundry; the winter smell of horse-warm stables 
and smoking dung; of old oak and walnut; and the butcher's smell of 
meat, of strong slaughtered lamb, plump gouty liver, ground pasty 
sausages, and red beef; and of brown sugar melted with slivered bitter 
chocolate; and of crushed mint leaves, and of a wet lilac bush; of 
magnolia beneath the heavy moon, of dogwood and laurel; of an old 
caked pipe and Bourbon rye, aged m kegs of charred oak; the sharp 
smell of tobacco; of carbolic and nitric acids; the coarse true smell of 
a dog; of old imprisoned books; and the cool fern-smell near springs; 
of vanilla m cake-dough; and of cloven ponderous cheeses. 

Yes, and of a hardware store, but mostly the good smell of nails; 
of the developing chemicals in a photographer's dark-room; and the 
young-life smell of paint and turpentine; of buckwheat batter and black 
sorghum; and of a negro and his horse, together; of boiling fudge; the 
brine smell of pickling vats; and the lush undergrowth smell of southern 
hills; of a slimy oyster-can, of chilled gutted fish; of a hot kitchen 
negress; of kerosene and linoleum; of sarsapanlla and guavas; and of 
ripe autumn persimmons; and the smell of the wind and the rain; and 
of the acrid thunder; of cold starlight, and the bnttle-bladed frozen 
grass; of fog and the misted winter sun; of seed-time, bloom, and 
mellow dropping harvest. 

And now, whetted intemperately by what he had felt, he began, at 



90 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

school, in that fecund romance, the geography, to breathe the mixed 
odors of the earth, sensing in every squat keg piled on a pier-head a 
treasure of golden rum, rich port, fat Burgundy; smelling the jungle 
growth of the tropics, the heavy odor of plantations, the salt-fish smell 
of harbors, voyaging in the vast, enchanting, but unperplexmg world. 

Now the innumerable archipelago had been threaded, and he stood, 
firm-planted, upon the unknown but waiting continent. 

He learned to read almost at once, printing the shapes of words 
immediately with his strong visual memory; but it was weeks later be- 
fore he learned to write, or even to copy, words. The ragged spume 
and wrack of fantasy and the lost world still floated from time to time 
through his clear schoolday morning brain, and although he followed 
accurately all the other instruction of his teacher, he was walled in his 
ancient unknowing world when they made letters. The children made 
their sprawling alphabets below a line of models, but all he accomplished 
was a line of jagged wavering spear-points on his sheet, which he 
repeated endlessly and rapturously, unable to see or understand the 
difference. 

"I have learned to write," he thought. 

Then, one day, Max Isaacs looked suddenly, from his exercise, on 
Eugene's sheet, and saw the jagged line. 

"That ain't wntm'," said he. 

And clubbing his pencil in his warted grimy hand, he scrawled a 
copy of the exercise across the page. 

The line of life, that beautiful developing structure of language that 
he saw flowing from his comrade's pencil, cut the knot in him that 
all instruction failed to do, and instantly he seized the pencil, and wrote 
the words in letters fairer and finer than his friend's. And he turned, 
with a cry in his throat, to the next page, and copied it without hesi- 
tation, and the next, the next. They looked at each other a moment 
with that clear wonder by which children accept miracles, and they 
never spoke of it again. 

"That's writin' now," said Max. But they kept the mystery caged 
between them. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 91 

Eugene thought of this event later; always he could feel the open- 
ing gates in him, the plunge of the tide, the escape; but it happened like 
this one day at once. Still midget-near the live pelt of the earth he 
saw many things that he kept in fearful secret, knowing that revelation 
would be punished with ridicule. One Saturday in Spring, he stopped 
with Max Isaacs above a deep pit in Central Avenue where city work- 
men were patching a broken watermain. The clay walls of their pit 
were much higher than their heads; behind their huddled backs there 
was a wide fissure, a window in the earth which opened on some dark 
subterranean passage. And as the boys looked, they gripped each other 
suddenly, for past the fissure slid the flat head of an enormous serpent; 
passed, and was followed by a scaled body as thick as a man's; the 
monster slid endlessly on into the deep earth and vanished behind the 
working and unwitting men. Shaken with fear they went away, they 
talked about it then and later in hushed voices, but they never revealed it. 

He fell now easily into the School-Ritual; he choked his breakfast 
with his brothers every morning, gulped scalding coffee, and rushed off 
at the ominous warning of the final bell, clutching a hot paper-bag of 
food, already spattered hungrily with grease blots. He pounded along 
after his brothers, his heart hammering in his throat with excitement 
and, as he raced into the hollow at the foot of the Central Avenue hill, 
grew weak with nervousness, as he heard the bell ringing itself to sleep, 
jerking the slatting rope about in its dying echoes. 

Ben, grinning evilly and scowling, would thrust his hand against 
the small of his back and rush him screaming, but unable to resist the 
plunging force behind, up the hill. 

In a gasping voice he would sing the morning song, coming in 
pantingly on the last round of a song the quartered class took up at 
intervals : 

" Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, 
Life is but a dream." 

Or, in the frosty Autumn mornings: 

"Waken, lords and ladies gay, 
On the mountain dawns the day." 



92 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Or the Contest of the West Wind and the South Wind. Or the Miller's 
Song: 

"I envy no man, no, not I, 
And no one envies me." 

He read quickly and easily; he spelled accurately. He did well with 
figures. But he hated the drawing lesson, although the boxes of crayons 
and paints delighted him. Sometimes the class would go into the woods, 
returning with specimens of flowers and leaves the bitten flaming red 
of the maple, the brown pine comb, the brown oak leaf. These they 
would paint; or in Spring a spray of cherry-blossom, a tulip. He sat 
reverently before the authority of the plump woman who first taught 
him: he was terrified lest he do anything common or mean in her eyes. 

The class squirmed: the little boys invented tortures or scrawled 
obscenities to the little girls. And the wilder and more indolent seized 
every chance of leaving the room, thus: 'Teacher, may I be excused?" 
And they would go out into the lavatory, sniggering and dawdling about 
restlessly. 

He could never say it, because it would reveal to her the shame 
of nature. 

Once, deathly sick, but locked in silence and dumb nausea, he had 
vomited finally upon his cupped hands. 

He feared and hated the recess periods, trembled before the brawling 
confusion of the mob and the playground, but his pride forbade that 
he skulk within, or secrete himself away from them. Eliza had allowed 
his hair to grow long; she wound it around her finger every morning 
into fat Fauntleroy curls: the agony and humiliation it caused him was 
horrible, but she was unable or unwilling to understand it, and mouth- 
pursingly thoughtful and stubborn to all solicitation to cut it. She had 
the garnered curls of Ben, Grover, and Luke stored in tiny boxes: she 
wept sometimes when she saw Eugene's, they were the symbol of his 
babyhood to her, and her sad heart, so keen in marking departures, 
refused to surrender them. Even when his thick locks had become the 
luxuriant colony of Harry Tarkmton's lice, she would not cut them: 
she held his squirming body between her knees twice a day and ploughed 
his scalp with a fine-toothed comb. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 93 

As he made to her his trembling passionate entreaties, she would 
smile with an affectation of patronizing humor, make a bantering hum- 
ming noise in her throat, and say: "Why, say you can't grow up yet. 
You're my baby." Suddenly baffled before the yielding inflexibility of 
her nature, which could be driven to action only after incessant and 
maddening prods, Eugene, screaming-mad with helpless fury, would 
understand the cause of Gant's frenzy. 

At school, he was a desperate and hunted little animal. The herd, 
infallible in its banded instinct, knew at once that a stranger had been 
thrust into it, and it was merciless at the hunt. As the lunch-time recess 
came, Eugene, clutching his big grease-stained bag, would rush for the 
playground pursued by the yelping pack. The leaders, two or three big 
louts of advanced age and deficient mentality, pressed closely about him, 
calling out suppliantly, "You know me, 'Gene. You know me"; and 
still racing for the far end, he would open his bag and hurl to them one 
of his big sandwiches, which stayed them for a moment, as they fell 
upon its possessor and clawed it to fragments, but they were upon him 
in a moment more with the same yelping insistence, hunting him down 
into a corner of the fence, and pressing in with outstretched paws and 
wild entreaty. He would give them what he had, sometimes with a 
momentary gust of fury, tearing away from a greedy hand half of a 
sandwich and devouring it. When they saw he had no more to give, 
they went away. 

The great fantasy of Christmas still kept him devout. Gant was 
his unwearied comrade; night after night in the late autumn and early 
winter, he would scrawl petitions to Santa Claus, listing interminably 
the gifts he wanted most, and transmitting each, with perfect trust, to 
the roaring chimney. As the flame took the paper from his hand and 
blew its charred ghost away with a howl, Gant would rush with him to 
the window, point to the stormy northern sky, and say: "There it goes! 
Do you see it?" 

He saw it. He saw his prayer, winged with the stanch convoying 
winds, borne northward to the rimed quaint gables of Toyland, into 
frozen merry Elfland: heard the tiny silver anvil-tones, the deep-lunged 
laughter of the little men, the stabled cries of aerial reindeer. Gant saw 
and heard them, too. 



94 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He was liberally dowered with bright-painted gimcracks upon 
Christmas Day; and in his heart he hated those who advocated "useful" 
gifts. Gant bought him wagons, sleds, drums, horns best of all, a 
small fireman's ladder wagon: it was the wonder, and finally the curse, 
of the neighborhood. During his unoccupied hours, he lived for months 
in the cellar with Harry Tarkinton and Max Isaacs: they strung the 
ladders on wires above the wagon, so that, at a touch, they would fall 
in accurate stacks. They would pretend to doze m their quarters, as 
firemen do, would leap to action suddenly, as one of them imitated the 
warning bell : "Clang-a-lang-a-lang." Then, quite beyond reason, Harry 
and Max yoked in a plunging team, Eugene in the driver's seat, they 
would leap out through the narrow door, gallop perilously to a neigh- 
bor's house, throw up ladders, open windows, effect entries, extinguish 
imaginary flames, and return oblivious to the shrieking indictment of 
the housewife. 

For months they lived completely in this fantasy, modelling their 
actions on those of the town's firemen, and on Jannadeau, who was the 
assistant chief, child-proud over it: they had seen him, at the sound of 
the alarm, rush like a madman from his window in Gant's shop, leaving 
the spattered fragments of a watch upon his desk, and arriving at his 
duty just as the great wagon hurtled at full speed into the Square. The 
firemen loved to stage the most daring exhibitions before the gaping 
citizenry; helmeted magnificently, they hung from the wagons in gym- 
nastic postures, one man holding another over rushing space, while 
number two caught in mid-air the diving heavy body of the Swiss, who 
deliberately risked his neck as he leaped for the rail. Thus, for one 
rapturous moment they stood poised triangularly over rocking speed : 
the spine of the town was chilled ecstatically. 

And when the bells broke through the drowning winds at night, 
his demon rushed into his heart, bursting all cords that held him to the 
earth, promising him isolation and dominance over sea and land, in- 
habitation of the dark: he looked down on the whirling disk of dark 
forest and field, sloped over singing pines upon a huddled town, and 
carried its grated guarded fires against its own roofs, swerving and 
pouncing with his haltered storm upon their doomed and flaming walls, 




howling with thin laughter above their stricken heads and, fiend-voiced, 
calling down the bullet wind. 

Or, holding in fief the storm and the dark and all the black powers 
of wizardry, to gaze, ghoul-visaged, through a storm-lashed window- 
pane, briefly planting unutterable horror in grouped and sheltered life; 
or, no more than a man, but holding, in your more than mortal heart, 
demoniac ecstasy, to crouch against a lonely storm-swept house, to 
gaze obliquely through the streaming glass upon a woman, or your 
enemy, and while still exulting in your victorious dark all-seeing isola- 
tion, to feel a touch upon your shoulder, and to look, haunter-haunted, 
pursuer-pursued, into the green corrupted hell-face of malignant death. 

Yes, and a world of bedded women, fair glimmers in the panting 
darkness, while winds shook the house, and he arrived across the world 
between the fragrant columns of delight. The great mystery of their 
bodies groped darkly in him, but he had found there, at the school, 
instructors to desire the hair-faced louts of Doubleday. They struck 
fear and wonder into the hearts of the smaller, gentler boys, for Double- 
day was that infested region of the town-grown mountaineers, who 



96 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

lurked viciously through the night, and came at Hallowe'en to break 
the skulls of other gangs in rock warfare. 

There was a boy named Otto Krause, a cheese-nosed, hair-faced, 
inch-browed German boy, lean and swift in the legs, hoarse-voiced and 
full of idiot laughter, who showed him the gardens of delight. There 
was a girl named Bessie Barnes, a black-haired, tall, bold-figured girl 
of thirteen years who acted as model. Otto Krause was fourteen, Eugene 
was eight: they were in the third grade. The German boy sat next to 
him, drew obscenities on his books, and passed his furtive scrawled 
indecencies across the aisle to Bessie. 

And the nymph would answer with a lewd face, and a contemptuous 
blow against her shapely lifted buttock, a gesture which Otto considered 
as good as a promise, and which tickled him into hoarse sniggers. 

Bessie walked in his brain. 

In their furtive moments at school, he and Otto amused each other 
by drawing obscenities in their geographies, bestowing on the represen- 
tations of tropical natives sagging breasts and huge organs. And they 
composed on tiny scraps of paper dirty little rhymes about teachers and 
principal. Their teacher was a gaunt red-faced spinster, with fierce glar- 
ing eyes: Eugene thought always of the soldier and the tinder and the 
dogs he had to pass, with eyes like saucers, windmills, the moon. Her 
name was Miss Groody, and Otto, with the idiot vulgarity of little boys, 
wrote of her: 

"Old Miss Groody 
Has Good Toody." 

And Eugene, directing his fire against the principal, a plump, soft, 
foppish young man whose name was Armstrong, and who wore always 
a carnation in his coat, which, after whipping an offending boy, he was 
accustomed to hold delicately between his fingers, sniffing it with sen- 
sitive nostrils and lidded eyes, produced m the first rich joy of creation 
scores of rhymes, all to the discredit of Armstrong, his parentage, and 
his relations with Miss Groody. 

He was obsessed; he spent the entire day now in the composition of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 97 

poetry all bawdy variations of a theme. And he could not bring him- 
self to destroy them. His desk was stuffed with tiny crumpled balls of 
writing: one day, during the geography lesson, the woman caught him. 
His bones turned to rubber as she bore down on him glaring, and took 
from the concealing pages of his book the paper on which he had been 
writing. At recess she cleared his desk, read the sequence, and, with 
boding quietness, bade him to see the principal after school. 

"What does it mean? What do you reckon it means?" he whispered 
dryly to Otto Krause. 

"Oh, you'll ketch it now!" said Otto Krause, laughing hoarsely. 

And the class tormented him slily, rubbing their bottoms when 
they caught his eye, and making grimaces of agony. 

He was sick through to his guts. He had a loathing of physical 
humiliation which was not based on fear, from which he never recov- 
ered. The brazen insensitive spirit of the boys he envied but could not 
imitate: they would howl loudly under punishment, in order to miti- 
gate it, and they were vamgloriously unconcerned ten minutes later. 
He did not think he could endure being whipped by the fat young man 
with the flower: at three o'clock, white-faced, he went to the man's 
office. 

Armstrong, slit-eyed and thin lipped, began to swish the cane he 
held in his hand through the air as Eugene entered. Behind him, 
smoothed and flatted on his desk, was stacked the damning pile of 
rhymed insult. 

"Did you write these?" he demanded, narrowing his eyes to little 
points in order to frighten his victim. 

"Yes," said Eugene. 

The principal cut the air again with his cane. He had visited Daisy 
several times, had eaten at Gant's plenteous board. He remembered 
very well. 

"What have I ever done to you, son, that you should feel this way?" 
he said, with a sudden change to whining magnanimity. 

"N-n-nothing," said Eugene. 

"Do you think you'll ever do it again?" said he, becoming ominous 
again. 



98 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"N-no, sir," Eugene answered, in the ghost of a voice. 

"All right," said God, grandly, throwing away his cane. "You can 

go-" 

His legs found themselves only when he had reached the play- 
ground. 

But oh, the brave autumn and the songs they sang; harvest, and 
the painting of a leaf; and "half-holiday to-day"; and "up in the air 
so high"; and the other one about the tram "the stations go whistling 
past"; the mellow days, the opening gates of desire, the smoky sun, 
the dropping patter of dead leaves. 

"Every little snowflake is different in shape from every other." 

"Good grashus! All of them, Miss Pratt?" 

"All of the little snowflakes that ever were. Nature never repeats 
herself." 

"Aw!" 

Ben's beard was growing: he had shaved He tumbled Eugene on 
the leather sofa, played with him for hours, scraped his stubble chin 
against the soft face of his brother. Eugene shrieked. 

"When you can do that you'll be a man," said Ben. 

And he sang softly, in his thin humming ghost's voice: 

"The woodpecker pecked at the schoolhouse door, 
He pecked and he pecked till his pecker got sore. 
The woodpecker pecked at the schoolhouse bell, 
He pecked and he pecked till his pecker got well." 

They laughed Eugene with rocking throatiness, Ben with a quiet 
snicker. He had aqueous gray eyes, and a sallow bumpy skin. His head 
was shapely, the forehead high and bony. His hair was crisp, maple- 
brown. Below his perpetual scowl, his face was small, converging to a 
point: his extraordinarily sensitive mouth smiled briefly, flickeringly, 
inwardly like a flash of light along a blade. And he always gave a cuff 
instead of a caress: he was full of pride and tenderness. 




Yes, and in that month when Proserpine comes back, and Ceres' 
dead heart rekindles, when all the woods are a tender smoky blur, and 
birds no bigger than a budding leaf dart through the singing trees, and 
when odorous tar comes spongy in the streets, and boys roll balls of 
it upon their tongues, and they are lumpy with tops and agated marbles; 
and there is blasting thunder in the night, and the soaking millionfooted 
rain, and one looks out at morning on a stormy sky, a broken wrack of 
cloud; and when the mountain boy brings water to his kinsmen laying 
fence, and as the wind snakes through the grasses hears far in the 
valley below the long wail of the whistle, and the faint clangor of a bell; 
and the blue great cup of the hills seem closer, nearer, for he has heard 
an inarticulate promise: he has been pierced by Spring, that sharp knife. 

And life unscales its rusty weathered pelt, and earth wells out in 
tender exhaustless strength, and the cup of a man's heart runs over 
with dateless expectancy, tongueless promise, indefinable desire. Some- 
thing gathers in the throat, something blinds him in the eyes, and faint 
and valorous horns sound through the earth. 

The little girls trot pigtailed primly on their dutiful way to school; 
but the young gods loiter: they hear the reed, the oatenstop, the running 



100 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

goathoofs in the spongy wood, here, there, everywhere : they dawdle, 
listen, fleetest when they wait, go vaguely on to their one fixed home, 
because the earth is full of ancient rumor and they cannot find the way. 
All of the gods have lost the way. 



But they guarded what they had against the barbarians. Eugene, 
Max, and Harry ruled their little neighborhood: they made war upon 
the negroes and the Jews, who amused them, and upon the Pigtail 
Alley people, whom they hated and despised. Catlike they prowled 
about in the dark promise of night, sitting at times upon a wall in the 
exciting glare of the corner lamp, which flared gaseously, winking noisily 
from time to time. 

Or, crouched in the concealing shrubbery of Gant's yard, they 
waited for romantic negro couples climbing homewards, jerking by a 
cord, as their victims came upon the spot, a stuffed black snake-appearing 
stocking. And the dark was shrill with laughter as the loud rich comic 
voices stammered, stopped, and screamed. 

Or they stoned the cycling black boy of the markets, as he swerved 
down gracefully into an alley. Nor did they hate them: clowns are 
black. They had learned, as well, that it was proper to cuff these people 
kindly, curse them cheerfully, feed them magnanimously. Men are kind 
to a faithful wagging dog, but he must not walk habitually upon two 
legs. They knew that they must "take nothin' off a nigger," and that 
the beginnings of argument could best be scotched with a club and a 
broken head. Only, you couldn't break a nigger's head. 

They spat joyously upon the Jews. Drown a Jew and hit a nigger. 

The boys would wait on the Jews, follow them home shouting 
"Goose Grease! Goose Grease!" which, they were convinced, was the 
chief staple of Semitic diet; or with the blind acceptance of little boys 
of some traditional, or mangled, or imaginary catchword of abuse, 
they would yell after their muttering and tormented victim: "Veesha- 
madye! Veeshamadye!" confident that they had pronounced the most 
unspeakable, to Jewish ears, of affronts. 

Eugene had no interest in pogroms, but it was a fetich with Max. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 101 

The chief object of their torture was a little furtive-faced boy, whose 
name was Isaac Lipmski. They pounced cattishly at him when he 
appeared, harried him down alleys, over fences, across yards, into barns, 
stables, and his own house; he moved with amazing speed and stealth, 
escaping fantastically, teasing them to the pursuit, thumbing his fingers 
at them, and grinning with wide Kike constant derision. 

Or, steeped catlike in the wickedness of darkness, adrift in the 
brooding promise of the neighborhood, they would cluster silently under 
a Jew's home, grouped in a sniggering huddle as they listened to the 
rich excited voices, the throaty accentuation of the women; or convulsed 
at the hysterical quarrels which shook the Jew-walls almost nightly. 

Once, shrieking with laughter, they followed a running fight through 
the streets between a young Jew and his father-in-law, in which each 
was pursued and pummelled, or pursuing and pummelling; and on the 
day when Louis Greenberg, a pale Jew returned from college, had 
killed himself by drinking carbolic acid, they stood curiously outside 
the dingy wailing house, shaken by sudden glee as they saw his father, 
a bearded orthodox old Jew, clothed in rusty, greasy black, and wearing 
a scarred derby, approach running up the hill to his home, shaking his 
hands in the air, and wailing rhythmically: 

"Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi, 
Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi, 
Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi." 

But the whiteheaded children of Pigtail Alley they hated without 
humor, without any mitigation of a most bitter and alienate hate. 
Pigtail Alley was a muddy rut which sprawled down hill off the lower 
end of Woodson Street, ending vaguely in the rank stench of a green- 
scummed marsh bottom. On one side of this vile road there was a 
ragged line of whitewashed shacks, inhabited by poor whites, whose 
children were almost always whitehaired, and who, snuff-mouthed bony 
women, and tobacco-jawed men, sprawled stupidly in the sun-stench 
of their rude wide-boarded porches. At night a smoky lamp burned 
dismally in the dark interiors, there was a smell of frying cookery and 
of unclean flesh, strident rasping shrews' cries, the drunken maniacal 
mountain drawl of men: a scream and a curse. 



102 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Once, in the cherry time, when Gant's great White Wax was loaded 
with its clusters, and the pliant and enduring boughs were dotted thickly 
by the neighbor children, Jews and Gentiles alike, who had been herded 
under the captaincy of Luke, and picked one quart of every four for 
their own, one of these white-haired children had come doubtfully, 
mournfully, up the yard. 

"All right, son," Luke, who was fifteen, called out in his hearty 
voice. "Get a basket and come on up." 

The child came up the gummed trunk like a cat: Eugene rocked 
from the slender spiral topmost bough, exulting in his lightness, the 
tree's resilient strength, and the great morning-clarion fragrant backyard 
world. The Alley picked his bucket with miraculous speed, skinned 
spryly to the ground and emptied it into the heaping pan, and was half- 
way up the trunk again when his gaunt mother streaked up the yard 
toward him. 

"You, Reese,"' she shrilled, "what' re you doin' hyar?" She jerked 
him roughly to the ground and cut across his brown legs with a switch. 
He howled. 

"You git along home," she ordered, giving him another cut. 

She drove him along, upbraiding him in her harsh voice, cutting 
him sharply with the switch from moment to moment when, desperate 
with pride and humiliation, he slackened his retreat to a slow walk, or 
balked muhshly, howling again, and speeding a few paces on his short 
legs, when cut by the switch. 

The treed boys sniggered, but Eugene, who had seen the pain upon 
the gaunt hard face of the woman, the furious pity of her blazing eyes, 
felt something open and burst stabbingly m him like an abscess. 

"He left his cherries," he said to his brother. 

Or, they jeered Loney Shytle, who left a stale sharp odor as she 
passed, her dirty dun hair covered in a wide plumed hat, her heels 
out of her dirty white stockings. She had caused incestuous rivalry 
between her father and her brother, she bore the scar of her mother's 
razor in her neck, and she walked, in her rundown shoes, with the wide 
stiff-legged hobble of disease. 

One day as they pressed round a trapped alley boy, who backed 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 103 

slowly, fearfully, resentfully into a reeking wall, Willie Isaacs, the 
younger brother of Max, pointing with sniggering laughter, said' 

"His mother takes in washinY' 

And then, almost bent double by a soaring touch of humor, he 
added : 

"His mother takes in washin' from an ole nigger." 

Harry Tarkmton laughed hoarsely. Eugene turned away indefi- 
nitely, craned his neck convulsively, lifted one foot sharply from the 
ground. 

"She don't!" he screamed suddenly into their astounded faces. 
"She don't!" 

Harry Tarkinton's parents were English. He was three or four 
years older than Eugene, an awkward, heavy, muscular boy, smelling 
always of his father's paints and oils, coarse-featured, meaty sloping 
jaw and a thick catarrhal look about his nose and mouth. He was the 
breaker of visions; the proposer of iniquities In the cool thick evening 
grass of Gant's yard one sunset, he smashed forever, as they lay there 
talking, the enchantment of Christmas; but he brought in its stead the 
smell of paint, the gaseous npstink, the unadorned, sweating, and image- 
less passion of the vulgar. But Eugene couldn't follow his barn-yard 
passion: the strong hen-stench, the Tarkintoman paint-smell, and the 
rank-mired branch-smell which mined under the filthy shambles of the 
backyard, stopped him. 

Once, in the deserted afternoon, as he and Harry plundered through 
the vacant upper floor of Gant's house, they found a half-filled bottle 
of hair-restorer. 

"Have you any hairs on your belly?" said Harry. 

Eugene hemmed; hinted timidly at shagginess; confessed. They 
undid their buttons, smeared oily hands upon their bellies, and waited 
through rapturous days for the golden fleece. 

"Hair makes a man of you," said Harry. 

More often, as Spring deepened, he went now to Gant's shop on 
the Square. He loved the scene: the bright hill-cooled sun, the blown 



104 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

sheets of spray from the fountain, the garrulous firemen emerging from 
the winter, the lazy sprawling draymen on his father's wooden steps, 
snaking their whips deftly across the pavement, wrestling in heavy horse- 
play, Jannadeau in his dirty fly-specked window prying with delicate 
monocled intentness into the entrails of a watch, the reeking mossiness 
of Gant's fantastical brick shack, the great interior dustiness of the main 
room in front, sagging with gravestones small polished slabs from 
Georgia, blunt ugly masses of Vermont granite, modest monuments 
with an urn, a cherub figure, or a couchant lamb, ponderous fly-specked 
angels from Carrara in Italy which he bought at great cost, and never 
sold they were the joy of his heart. 

Behind a wooden partition was his wash-room, layered with stone- 
dust coarse wooden trestles on which he carved inscriptions, stacked 
tool-shelves filled with chisels, drills, mallets, a pedalled emery wheel 
which Eugene worked furiously for hours, exulting in its mounting roar, 
piled sandstone bases, a small heat-blasted cast-iron stove, loose piled 
coal and wood. 

Between the workroom and the ware-room, on the left as one 
entered, was Gant's office, a small room, deep in the dust of twenty 
years, with an old-fashioned desk, sheaves of banded dirty papers, a 
leather sofa, a smaller desk layered with round and square samples of 
marble and granite. The dirty window, which was never opened, looked 
out on the sloping market Square, pocketed obliquely off the public 
Square, and filled with the wagons of draymen and county peddlers, 
and on the lower side on a few Poor White houses and on the ware- 
house and office of Will Pentland. 

Eugene would find his father, leaning perilously on Jannadeau's 
dirty glass showcase, or on the creaking little fence that marked him 
off, talking politics, war, death, and famine, denouncing the Democrats, 
with references to the bad weather, taxation, and soup-kitchens that 
attended their administration, and eulogizing all the acts, utterances, 
and policies of Theodore Roosevelt. Jannadeau, gutteral, judiciously 
reasonable, statistically argumentative, would consult, in all disputed 
areas, his library a greasy edition of the World Almanac, three years 
old, saying, triumphantly, after a moment of dirty thumbing: "Ah just 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 105 

as I thought: the municipal taxation of Milwaukee under Democratic 
administration in 1905 was $2.25 the hundred, the lowest it had been in 
years. I cannot imagine why the total revenue is not given." And he 
would argue with animation, picking his nose with his blunt black 
fingers, his broad yellow face breaking into flaccid creases, as he laughed 
gutturally at Gant's unreason. 

"And you may mark my words," proceeded Gant, as if he had 
never been interrupted, and had heard no dissenting judgment, "if they 
get in again we'll have soup-kitchens, the banks will go to the wall, and 
your guts will grease your backbone before another winter's over." 

Or, he would find his father in the workroom, bending over a 
trestle, using the heavy wooden mallet with delicate care, as he guided 
the chisel through the mazes of an inscription. He never wore work- 
clothes; he worked dressed in well brushed garments of heavy black, 
his coat removed, and a long striped apron covering all his front. As 
Eugene saw him, he felt that this was no common craftsman, but a 
master, picking up his tools briefly for a chef-d'oeuvre. 

"He is better at this than any one in all the world," Eugene thought, 
and his dark vision burned in him for a moment, as he thought that 
his father's work would never, as men reckon years, be extinguished, 
but that when that great skeleton lay powdered in earth, in many a 
tangled undergrowth, in the rank wilderness of forgotten churchyards, 
these letters would endure. 

And he thought with pity of all the grocers and brewers and cloth- 
iers who had come and gone, with their perishable work a forgotten 
excrement, or a rotted fabric; or of plumbers, like Max's father, whose 
work rusted under ground, or of painters, like Harry's, whose work 
scaled with the seasons, or was obliterated with newer brighter paint; 
and the high horror of death and oblivion, the decomposition of life, 
memory, desire, in the huge burial-ground of the earth stormed through 
his heart. He mourned for all the men who had gone because they had 
not scored their name upon a rock, blasted their mark upon a cliff, 
sought out the most imperishable objects of the world and graven there 
some token, some emblem that utterly they might not be forgotten. 

Again, Eugene would find Gant moving with bent strides across 



106 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the depth of the building, tearing madly along between the sentinel 
marbles that aisled the ware-room, muttering, with hands gripped be- 
hind him, with ominous ebb and flow. Eugene waited. Presently, when 
he had shuttled thus across his shop some eighty times, he would leap, 
with a furious howl, to his front door, storming out upon the porch, 
and delivering his Jeremiad to the offending draymen: 

"You are the lowest of the low, the vilest of the vile. You lousy 
good-for-nothing bums : you have brought me to the verge of starva- 
tion, you have frightened away the little business that might have put 
bread in my mouth, and kept the wolf from my door. By God, I hate 
you, for you stink a mile off. You low degenerates, you accursed repro- 
bates; you would steal the pennies from a dead men's eyes, as you have 
from mine, fearful, awful, and bloodthirsty mountain grills that you 
are!" 

He would tear back into the shop muttering, to return almost at 
once, with a strained pretense at calmness, which ended in a howl: 

"Now I want to tell you: I give you fair warning once and for all. 
If I find you on my steps again, I'll put you all m jail." 

They would disperse sheepishly to their wagons, flicking their whips 
aimlessly along the pavements. 

"By God, somethin's sure upset the ole man." 

An hour later, like heavy buzzing flies, they would drift back settling 
from nowhere on the broad steps. 

As he emerged from the shop into the Square, they would greet 
him cheerfully, with a certain affection. 

"'Day, Mr. Gant." 

"Good day, boys," he would answer kindly, absently. And he would 
be away with his gaunt devouring strides. 

As Eugene entered, if Gant were busy on a stone, he would say 
gruffly, "Hello, son," and continue with his work, until he had polished 
the surface of the marble with pumice and water. Then he would take 
off his apron, put on his coat, and say, to the dawdling, expectant boy: 
"Come on. I guess you're thirsty." 

And they would go across the Square to the cool depth of the 
drug-store, stand before the onyx splendor of the fountain, under the 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 107 

revolving wooden fans, and drink chill gaseous beverages, limeade so 
cold it made the head ache, or foaming ice-cream soda, which returned 
in sharp delicious belches down his tender nostrils. 

Eugene, richer by twenty-five cents, would leave Gant then, and 
spend the remainder of the day in the library on the Square. He read 
now rapidly and easily; he read romantic and adventurous novels, with 
a tearing hunger. At home he devoured Luke's piled shelves of five- 
cent novels* he was deep in the weekly adventures of Young Wild West, 
fantasied in bed at night of virtuous and heroic relations with the 
beautiful Arietta, followed Nick Carter, through all the mazes of metro- 
politan crime, Frank Mernwell's athletic triumphs, Fred Fearnot, and 
the interminable victories of The Liberty Boys of "76 over the hated 
Redcoats. 

He cared not so much for love at first as he did for material success: 
the straw figures of women in boys' books, something with hair, danc- 
ing eyes, and virtuous opinions, impeccably good and vacant, satisfied 
him completely: they were the guerdon of heroism, something to be 
freed from villainy on the nick by a blow or a shot, and to be enjoyed 
along with a fat income. 

At the library he ravaged the shelves of boys' books, going un- 
weanedly through all the infinite monotony of the Algers Pluck and 
Luck, Sink or Swim, Grit, Jack's Ward, Jed the Poor-house Boy and 
dozens more. He gloated over the fat money-getting of these books (a 
motif in boys' books that has never been sufficiently recognized); all of 
the devices of fortune, the loose rail, the signalled train, the rich reward 
for heroism; or the full wallet found and restored to its owner; or the 
value of the supposedly worthless bonds; or the discovery of a rich 
patron in the city, sunk so deeply into his desires that he was never 
after able to quench them. 

And all the details of money the value of the estate usurped by 
the scoundrelly guardian and his caddish son, he feasted upon, reckon- 
ing up the amount of income, if it were not given, or if it were, dividing 
the'annual sum into monthly and weekly portions, and dreaming on 
its purchasing power. His desires were not modest no fortune under 
$250,000 satisfied him: the income of $100,000 at six per cent would 



108 (LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

pinch one, he felt, from lavishness; and if the reward of virtue was only 
twenty thousand dollars, he felt bitter chagrin, reckoning life insecure, 
and comfort a present warmth. 

He built up a constant exchange of books among his companions, 
borrowing and lending in an intricate web, from Max Isaacs, from 
"Nosey" Schmidt, the butcher's son, who had all the rich adventures 
of the Rover Boys; he ransacked Gant's shelves at home, reading trans- 
lations of the Iliad and the Odyssey at the same time as Diamond Dick, 
Buffalo Bill, and the Algers, and for the same reason; then, as the first 
years waned and the erotic gropings became more intelligible, he turned 
passionately to all romantic legendry, looking for women in whom blood 
ran hotly, whose breath was honey, and whose soft touch a spurting 
train of fire. 

And in this pillage of the loaded shelves, he found himself wedged 
firmly into the grotesque pattern of Protestant fiction which yields the 
rewards of Dionysus to the loyal disciples of John Calvin, panting and 
praying in a breath, guarding the plumtree with the altar fires, outdoing 
the pagan harlot with the sanctified hussey. 

Aye, thought he, he would have his cake and eat it too but it 
would be a wedding-cake. He was devout in his desire to be a good 
man; he would bestow the accolade of his love upon nothing but a 
Virgin; he would marry himself to none but a Pure Woman. This, he 
saw from the books, would cause no renunciation of delight, for the 
good women were physically the most attractive. 

He had learned unknowingly what the exquisite voluptuary finds, 
after weary toil, much later that no condition of life is so favorable to 
his enjoyment as that one which is rigidly conventionalized. He had all 
the passionate fidelity of a child to the laws of the community: all the 
filtered deposit of Sunday Morning Presbyteriamsm had its effect. 

He entombed himself in the flesh of a thousand fictional heroes, 
giving his favorites extension in life beyond their books, carrying their 
banners into the gray places of actuality, seeing himself now as the 
militant young clergyman, arrayed, in his war on slum conditions, 
against all the moneyed hostility of his fashionable church, aided in his 
hour of greatest travail by the lovely daughter of the millionaire tene- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 109 

ment owner, and winning finally a victory for God, the poor, and 
himself. 

. . . They stood silently a moment in the vast deserted nave of 
Saint Thomas'. Far in the depth of the vast church Old Michael's 
slender hands pressed softly on the organ-keys. The last rays of the 
setting sun poured in a golden shaft down through the western win- 
dows, falling for a moment, in a cloud of glory, as if in benediction, 
on Mainwanng's tired face. 

"I am going," he said presently. 

"Going?" she whispered. "Where?" 

The organ music deepened. 

"Out there," he gestured briefly to the West. "Out there among 
His people." 

"Going?" She could not conceal the tremor of her voice. "Going? 
Alone?" 

He smiled sadly. The sun had set. The gathering darkness hid the 
suspicious moisture in his gray eyes. 

"Yes, alone," he said. "Did not One greater than I go out alone 
some nineteen centuries ago?" 

"Alone? Alone?" A sob rose in her throat and choked her. 

"But before I go," he said, after a moment, in a voice which he 
strove in vain to render steady, "I want to tell you " He paused a 
moment, struggling for mastery of his feelings. 

"Yes?" she whispered. 

" That I shall never forget you, little girl, as long as I live. Never." 
He turned abruptly to depart. 

"No, not alone! You shall not go alone!" she stopped him with a 
sudden cry. 

He whirled as if he had been shot. 

"What do you mean? What do you mean?" he cried hoarsely. 

"Oh, can't you see! Can't you see!" She threw out her little hands 
imploringly, and her voice broke. 

"Grace! Grace! Dear heaven, do you mean it!" 

"You silly man! Oh, you dear blind foolish boy! Haven't you 



110 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

known for ages since the day I first heard you preach at the Murphy 
Street settlement?" 

He crushed her to him in a fierce embrace; her slender body yielded 
to his touch as he bent over her; and her round arms stole softly across 
his broad shoulders, around his neck, drawing his dark head to her as 
he planted hungry kisses on her closed eyes, the column of her throat, 
the parted petal of her fresh young lips. 

"Forever," he answered solemnly. "So help me God." 

The organ music swelled now into a triumphant paean, filling with 
its exultant melody the vast darkness of the church. And as old Michael 
cast his heart into the music, the tears flowed unrestrained across his 
withered cheeks, but smiling happily through his tears, as dimly through 
his old eyes he saw the two young figures enacting again the age-old tale 
of youth and love, he murmured, 

"I am the resurrection and the life, Alpha and Omega, the first 
and the last, the beginning and the end" . . . 

Eugene turned his wet eyes to the light that streamed through the 
library windows, winked rapidly, gulped, and blew his nose heavily. 
Ah, yes! Ah, yes! 

. . . The band of natives, seeing now that they had no more to 
fear, and wild with rage at the losses they had suffered, began to advance 
slowly toward the foot of the cliff, led by Taomi, who, dancing with 
fury, and hideous with warpaint, urged them on, exhorting them in a 
shrill voice. 

Glendenning cursed softly under his breath as he looked once more 
at the empty cartridge belts, then grimly, as he gazed at the yelling horde 
below, slipped his two remaining cartridges into his Colt. 

"For us?" she said, quietly. He nodded. 

"It is the end?" she whispered, but without a trace of fear. 

Again he nodded, and turned his head away for a moment. Presently 
he lifted his gray face to her. 

"It is death, Veronica," he said, "and now I may speak." 

"Yes, Bruce," she answered softly. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 111 

It was the first time he had ever heard her use his name, and his 
heart thrilled to it. 

"I love you, Veronica," he said. "I have loved you ever since I 
found your almost lifeless body on the beach, during all the nights I 
lay outside your tent, listening to your quiet breathing within, love you 
most of all now in this hour of death when the obligation to keep silence 
no longer rests upon me." 

"Dearest, dearest," she whispered, and he saw her face was wet 
with tears. "Why didn't you speak? I have loved you from the first." 

She leaned toward him, her lips half-parted and tremulous, her 
breathing short and uncertain, and as his bare arms circled her fiercely 
their lips met in one long moment of rapture, one final moment of life 
and ecstasy, in which all the pent longing of their lives found release 
and consummation now at this triumphant moment of their death. 

A distant reverberation shook the air. Glendenning looked up 
quickly, and rubbed his eyes with astonishment. There, in the island's 
little harbor were turning slowly the lean sides of a destroyer, and even 
as he looked, there was another burst of flame and smoke, and a whistling 
five-inch shell burst forty yards from where the natives had stopped. 
With a yell of mingled fear and baffled rage, they turned and fled off 
toward their canoes. Already, a boat, manned by the lusty arms of a 
blue-jacketed crew, had put off from the destroyer's side, and was coming 
in toward shore. 

"Saved! We are saved!" cried Glendenning, and leaping to his 
feet he signalled the approaching boat. Suddenly he paused. 

"Damn!" he muttered bitterly. "Oh, damn!" 

"What is it, Bruce?" she asked. 

He answered her in a cold harsh voice. 

"A destroyer has just entered the harbor. We are saved, Miss 
Mullins. Saved!" And he laughed bitterly. 

"Bruce! Dearest! What is it? Aren't you glad? Why do you act 
so strangely? We shall have all our life together." 

"Together?" he said, with a harsh laugh. "Oh no, Miss Mullins. 
I know my place. Do you think old J. T. Mullins would let his daughter 
marry Bruce Glendenning, international vagabond, jack of all trades, 



112 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

and good at none of them? Oh no. That's over now, and it's good- by. 
I suppose," he said, with a wry smile, "I'll hear of your marriage to 
some Duke or Lord, or some of those foreigners some day. Well, good- 
by, Miss Mullins. Good luck. We'll both have to go our own way, I 
suppose." He turned away. 

"You foolish boy! You dear bad silly boy!" She threw her arms 
around his neck, clasped him to her tightly, and scolded him tenderly. 
"Do you think I'll ever let you leave me now?" 

"Veronica," he gasped. "Do you mean it?" 

She tried to meet his adoring eyes, but couldn't: a rich wave of 
rosy red mantled her cheek, he drew her rapturously to him and, for 
the second time, but this time with the prophecy of eternal and abundant 
life before them, their lips met in sweet oblivion. . . . 



Ah, me! Ah, me! Eugene's heart was filled with joy and sadness 
with sorrow because the book was done. He pulled his clotted hand- 
kerchief from his pocket and blew the contents of his loaded heart into 
it in one mighty, triumphant and ecstatic blast of glory and sentiment. 
Ah, me! Good old Bruce-Eugene. 



Lifted, by his fantasy, into a high interior world, he scored off 
briefly and entirely all the grimy smudges of life: he existed nobly in a 
heroic world with lovely and virtuous creatures. He saw himself in 
exalted circumstances with Bessie Barnes, her pure eyes dim with tears, 
her sweet lips tremulous with desire: he felt the strong handgrip of 
Honest Jack, her brother, his truehearted fidelity, the deep eternal lock- 
ing of their brave souls, as they looked dumbly at each other with misty 
eyes, and thought of the pact of danger, the shoulder-to-shoulder 
drive through death and terror which had soldered them silently but 
implacably. 

Eugene wanted the two things all men want: he wanted to be 
loved, and he wanted to be famous. His fame was chameleon, but its 
fruit and triumph lay at home, among the people of Altamont. The 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 113 

mountain town had for him enormous authority: with a child's egotism 
it was for him the centre of the earth, the small but dynamic core of 
all life. He saw himself winning Napoleonic triumphs in battle, falling, 
with his fierce picked men, like a thunderbolt upon an enemy's flank, 
trapping, hemming, and annihilating. He saw himself as the young 
captain of industry, dominant, victorious, rich; as the great criminal- 
lawyer bending to his eloquence a charmed court but always he saw 
his return from the voyage wearing the great coronal of the world upon 
his modest brows. 

The world was a phantasmal land of faery beyond the misted hem 
of the hills, a land of great reverberations, of genii-guarded orchards, 
wine-dark seas, chasmed and fantastical cities from which he would 
return into this substantial heart of life, his native town, with golden 
loot. 

He quivered deliciously to temptation he kept his titillated honor 
secure after subjecting it to the most trying inducements: the groomed 
beauty of the rich man's wife, publicly humiliated by her brutal hus- 
band, defended by Bruce-Eugene, and melting toward him with all the 
pure ardor of her lonely and womanly heart, pouring the sad measure 
of her life into his sympathetic ears over the wineglasses of her candled, 
rich, but intimate table. And as, in the shaded light, she moved yearn- 
ingly toward him, sheathed plastically in her gown of rich velvet, he 
would detach gently the round arms that clung about his neck, the firm 
curved body that stuck gluily to his. Or the blonde princess in the 
fabulous Balkans, the empress of gabled Toyland, and the Doll Hus- 
sars he would renounce, in a great scene upon the frontiers, her prof- 
fered renunciation, drinking eternal farewell on her red mouth, but 
wedding her to himself and to the citizenship of freedom when revolution 
had levelled her fortune to his own. 



But, steeping himself in ancient myths, where the will and the deed 
were not thought darkly on, he spent himself, quilted in golden meadows, 
or in the green light of woods, in pagan love. Oh to be king, and see a 
fruity wide-hipped Jewess bathing on her roof, and to possess her; or a 



114 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

cragged and castled baron, to execute le droit de seigneur upon the 
choicest of the enfeoffed wives and wenches, in a vast chamber loud 
with the howling winds and lighted by the mad dancing flames of great 
logs! 

But even more often, the shell of his morality broken to fragments 
by his desire, he would enact the bawdy fable of school-boys, and pic- 
ture himself in hot romance with a handsome teacher. In the fourth 
grade his teacher was a young, inexperienced, but well-built woman, 
with carrot-colored hair, and full of reckless laughter. 

He saw himself, grown to the age of potency, a strong, heroic, 
brilliant boy, the one spot of incandescence in a backwoods school 
attended by snag-toothed children and hair-faced louts. And, as the 
mellow autumn ripened, her interest in him would intensify, she would 
"keep him in" for imaginary offenses, setting him, in a somewhat con- 
fused way, to do some task, and gazing at him with steady yearning eyes 
when she thought he was not looking. 

He would pretend to be stumped by the exercise: she would come 
eagerly and sit beside him, leaning over so that a few fine strands of 
carrot-colored hair brushed his nostrils, and so that he might feel the 
firm warmth of her white-waisted arms, and the swell of her tight-skirted 
thighs. She would explain things to him at great length, guiding his 
fingers with her own warm, slightly moist hand, when he pretended not 
to find the place; then she would chide him gently, saying tenderly: 

"Why are you such a bad boy?" or softly: "Do you think you're 
going to be better after this?" 

And he, simulating boyish, inarticulate coyness, would say: "Gosh, 
Miss Edith, I didn't mean to do nothin'." 

Later, as the golden sun was waning redly, and there was nothing 
in the room but the smell of chalk and the heavy buzz of the old October 
flies, they would prepare to depart. As he twisted carelessly into his 
overcoat, she would chide him, call him to her, arrange the lapels and 
his necktie, and smooth out his tousled hair, saying: 

"You're a good-looking boy. I bet all the girls are wild about 
you." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 115 

He would blush in a maidenly way and she, bitten with curiosity, 
would press him : 

"Come on, now. Who's your girl?" 

"I haven't got one, honest, Miss Edith." 

"You don't want one of these silly little girls, Eugene," she would 
say, coaxingly. "You're too good for them you're a great deal older 
than your years. You need the understanding a mature woman can 
give you." 

And they would walk away in the setting sun, skirting the pine- 
fresh woods, passing along the path red with maple leaves, past great 
ripening pumpkins in the fields, and under the golden autumnal odor of 
persimmons. 

She would live alone with her mother, an old deaf woman, in a 
little cottage set back from the road against a shelter of lonely singing 
pines, with a few grand oaks and maples in the leaf-bedded yard. 

Before they came to the house, crossing a field, it would be neces- 
sary to go over a stile; he would go over first, helping her down, looking 
ardently at the graceful curve of her long, deliberately exposed, silk-clad 
leg. 

As the days shortened, they would come by dark, or under the 
heavy low-hanging autumnal moon. She would pretend to be frightened 
as they passed the woods, press in to him and take his arm at imaginary 
sounds, until one night, crossing the stile, boldly resolved upon an issue, 
she would pretend difficulty in descending, and he would lift her down 
in his arms. She would whisper: 

"How strong you are, Eugene." Still holding her, his hand would 
shift under her knees. And as he lowered her upon the frozen clotted 
earth, she would kiss him passionately, again and again, pressing him 
to her, caressing him, and under the frosted persimmon tree fulfilling 
and yielding herself up to his maiden and unfledged desire. 



"That boy's read books by the hundreds," Gant boasted about the 
town. "He's read everything in the library by now." 

"By God, W. O., you'll have to make a lawyer out of him. That's 



116 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



what he's cut out for." Major Liddell spat accurately, out of his high 
cracked voice, across the pavement, and settled back in his chair below 
the library windows, smoothing his stained white pointed beard with a 
palsied hand. He was a veteran. 





10 

Jjut this freedom, this isolation in print, this dreaming and un- 
limited time of fantasy, was not to last unbroken. Both Gant and Eliza 
were fluent apologists for economic independence: all the boys had 
been sent out to earn money at a very early age. 

"It teaches a boy to be independent and self-reliant," said Gant, 
feeling he had heard this somewhere before. 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza. "It won't do them a bit of harm. If they 
don't learn now, they won't do a stroke of work later on. Besides, 
they can earn their own pocket money." This, undoubtedly, was a 
consideration of the greatest importance. 

Thus, the boys had gone out to work, after school hours, and in 
the vacations, since they were very young. Unhappily, neither Eliza 
nor Gant were at any pains to examine the kind of work their children 
did, contenting themselves vaguely with the comfortable assurance that 
all work which earned money was honest, commendable, and formative 
of character. 

By this time Ben, sullen, silent, alone, had withdrawn more closely 
than ever into his heart: in the brawling house he came and went, 

117 



118 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

and was remembered, like a phantom. Each morning at three o'clock, 
when his fragile unfurnished body should have been soaked in sleep, he 
got up under the morning stars, departed silently from the sleeping 
house, and went down to the roaring morning presses and the inksmell 
that he loved, to begin the delivery of his route. Almost without consid- 
eration by Gant and Eliza he slipped quietly away from school after 
the eighth grade, took on extra duties at the paper's office and lived, 
in sufficient bitter pride, upon his earnings. He slept at home, ate per- 
haps one meal a day there, loping home gauntly at night, with his 
father's stride, thin long shoulders, bent prematurely by the weight of 
the heavy paper bag, pathetically, hungrily Gantian. 

He bore encysted in him the evidence of their tragic fault: he walked 
alone in the darkness, death and the dark angels hovered, and no one 
saw him. At three-thirty in the morning, with his loaded bag beside 
him, he sat with other route boys in a lunch room, with a cup of coflee 
in one hand and a cigarette in the other, laughing softly, almost noise- 
lessly, with his flickering exquisitely sensitive mouth, his scowling gray 
eyes. 

At home he spent hours quietly absorbed in his life with Eugene, 
playing with him, cuffing him with his white hard hands from time to 
time, establishing with him a secret communication to which the life of 
the family had neither access nor understanding. From his small wages 
he gave the boy sums of spending-money, bought him expensive presents 
on his birthdays, at Christmas, or some special occasion, inwardly 
moved and pleased when he saw how like Maecenas he seemed to 
Eugene, how deep and inexhaustible to the younger boy were his meagre 
resources. What he earned, all the history of his life away from home, 
he kept in jealous secrecy. 

"It's nobody's business but my own. By God, I'm not asking any 
of you for anything," he said, sullenly and irritably, when Eliza pressed 
him curiously. He had a deep scowling affection for them all: he never 
forgot their birthdays, he always placed where they might find it, some 
gift, small, inexpensive, selected with the most discriminating taste. 
When, with their fervent over-emphasis, they went through long ecstasies 
of admiration, embroidering their thanks with florid decorations, he 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 119 

would jerk his head sideways to some imaginary listener, laughing softly 
and irritably, as he said : 

"Oh for God's sake! Listen to this, won't you!" 

Perhaps, as pigeon-toed, well creased, brushed, white-collared, Ben 
loped through the streets, or prowled softly and restlessly about the 
house, his dark angel wept, but no one else saw, and no one knew. He 
was a stranger, and as he sought through the house, he was always 
aprowl to find some entrance into life, some secret undiscovered door 
a stone, a leaf, that might admit him into light and fellowship. His 
passion for home was fundamental, in that jangled and clamorous house- 
hold his sullen and contained quiet was like some soothing opiate on 
their nerves: with quiet authority, white-handed skill, he sought about 
repairing old scars, joining with delicate carpentry old broken things, 
prying quietly about a circuited wire, a defective socket. 

'That boy's a born electrical engineer," said Gant. "I've a good 
notion to send him off to school." And he would paint a romantic 
picture of the prosperity of Mr. Charles Liddell, the Major's worthy 
son, who earned thousands by his electrical wizardry, and supported his 
father. And he would reproach them bitterly, as he dwelt on his own 
merit and the worthlessness of his sons: 

"Other men's sons support their fathers in their old age not mine! 
Not mine! Ah Lord it will be a bitter day for me when I have to 
depend on one of mine. Tarkinton told me the other day that Rafe has 
given him five dollars a week for his food ever since he was sixteen. Do 
you think I could look for such treatment from one of mine? Do you? 
Not until Hell freezes over and not then!" And he would refer to the 
hardships of his own youth, cast out, so he said, to earn his living, at 
an age which varied, according to his temper, at from six to eleven 
years, contrasting his poverty to the luxury in which his own children 
wallowed. 

"No one ever did anything for me," he howled. "But everything's 
been done for you. And what gratitude do I get from you? Do you ever 
think of the old man who slaves up there in his cold shop in order to 
give you food and shelter? Do you? Ingratitude, more fierce than 
brutish beasts!" Remorseful food stuck vengefully in Eugene's throat. 



120 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Eugene was initiated to the ethics of success. It was not enough 
that a man work, though work was fundamental; it was even more 
important that he make money a great deal if he was to be a great 
success but at least enough to "support himself." This was for both 
Gant and Eliza the base of worth. Of so and so, they might say: 

"He's not worth powder enough to kill him. He's never been able 
to support himself," to which Eliza, but not Gant, might add: 

"He hasn't a stick of property to his name." This crowned him 
with infamy. 

In the fresh sweet mornings of Spring now, Eugene was howled 
out of bed at six-thirty by his father, descended to the cool garden, and 
there, assisted by Gant, filled small strawberry baskets with great 
crinkled lettuces, radishes, plums, and green apples somewhat later, 
with cherries. With these packed in a great hamper, he would peddle 
his wares through the neighborhood, selling them easily and delight- 
fully, in a world k of fragrant morning cookery, at five or ten cents a 
basket. He would return home gleefully with empty hamper in time for 
breakfast: he liked the work, the smell of gardens, of fresh wet vegeta- 
bles; he loved the romantic structure of the earth which filled his pocket 
with chinking coins. 

He was permitted to keep the money of his sales, although Eliza 
was annoyingly insistent that he should not squander it, but open a 
bank account with it with which, one day, he might establish himself in 
business, or buy a good piece of property. And she bought him a little 
bank,' into which his reluctant fingers dropped a portion of his earnings, 
and from which he got a certain dreary satisfaction from time to time 
by shaking it close to his ear and dwelling hungrily on all the purchas- 
able delight that was locked away from him in the small heavy bullion- 
chinking vault. There was a key, but Eliza kept it. 

But, as the months passed, and the sturdy child's body of his in- 
fancy lengthened rapidly to some interior chemical expansion, and he 
became fragile, thin, pallid, but remarkably tall for his age, Eliza began 
to say: "That boy's big enough to do a little work." 

Every Thursday afternoon now during the school months, and 
thence until Saturday, he was sent out upon the streets to sell The 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 121 

Saturday Evening Post, of which Luke held the local agency. Eugene 
hated the work with a deadly sweltering hatred; he watched the approach 
of Thursday with sick horror. 

Luke had been the agent since his twelfth year: his reputation for 
salesmanship was sown through the town; he came with wide grin, 
exuberant vitality, wagging and witty tongue, hurling all his bursting 
energy into an insane extraversion. He lived absolutely in event: there 
was in him no secret place, nothing withheld and guarded he had an 
instinctive horror of all loneliness. 

He wanted above all else to be esteemed and liked by the world, 
and the need for the affection and esteem of his family was desperately 
essential. The fulsome praise, the heartiness of hand and tongue, the 
liberal display of sentiment were as the breath of life to him: he was 
overwhelmingly insistent in the payment of drinks at the fountain, the 
bringer-home of packed ice-cream for Eliza, and of cigars to Gant and, 
as Gant gave publication to his generosity, the boy's need for it in- 
creased he built up an image of himself as the Good Fellow, witty, 
unselfish, laughed at but liked by all as Big-Hearted Unselfish Luke. 
And this was the opinion people had of him. 

Many times in the years that followed, when Eugene's pockets were 
empty, Luke thrust a coin roughly and impatiently in them, but, hard 
as the younger boy's need might be, there was always an awkward 
scene painful, embarrassed protestations, a distressful confusion be- 
cause Eugene, having accurately and intuitively gauged his brother's 
hunger for gratitude and esteem, felt sharply that he was yielding up his 
independence to a bludgeoning desire. 

He had never felt the slightest shame at Ben's bounty: his enor- 
mously sensitized perception had told him long since that he might get 
the curse of annoyance, the cuff of anger, from his brother, but that 
past indulgences would not be brandished over him, and that even the 
thought of having bestowed gifts would give Ben inward shame. 
In this, he was like Ben: the thought of a gift he made, with its self- 
congratulatory implications, made him writhe. 

Thus, before he was ten, Eugene's brooding spirit was nettled in 
the complexity of truth and seeming. He could find no words, no 



122 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

answers to the puzzles that baffled and maddened him: he found him- 
self loathing that which bore the stamp of virtue, sick with weariness and 
horror at what was considered noble. He was hurled, at eight years, 
against the torturing paradox of the ungenerous-generous, the selfish- 
unselfish, the noble-base, and unable to fathom or define those deep 
springs of desire in the human spirit that seek public gratification by 
virtuous pretension, he was made wretched by the conviction of his own 
sinfulness. 

There was in him a savage honesty, which exercised an uncontrol- 
lable domination over him when his heart or head were deeply involved. 
Thus, at the funeral of some remote kinsman, or of some acquaintance 
of the family, for whom he had never acquired any considerable affec- 
tion, he would grow bitterly shamefast if, while listening to the solemn 
drone of the minister, or the sorrowful chanting of the singers, he felt 
his face had assumed an expression of unfelt and counterfeited grief: as 
a consequence he would shift about matter-of-factly, cross his legs, gaze 
indifferently at the ceiling, or look out of the window with a smile, until 
he was conscious his conduct had attracted the attention of people, 
and that they were looking on him with disfavor. Then, he felt a certain 
grim satisfaction as if, although having lost esteem, he had recorded his 
life. 

But Luke flourished hardily in all the absurd mummery of the 
village: he gave heaping weight to every simulation of affection, grief, 
pity, good-will, and modesty there was no excess that he did not 
underscore heavily, and the world's dull eye read him kindly. 

He spun himself outward with ceaseless exuberance: he was gen- 
uinely and whole-heartedly involved. There was in him no toilsome web 
that might have checked him, no balancing or restraining weight he 
had enormous energy, hungry gregariousness, the passion to pool his life. 

In the family, where a simple brutal tag was enough for the appraisal 
of all fine consciences, Ben went simply as "the quiet one," Luke as the 
generous and unselfish one, Eugene as the "scholar." It served. The 
generous one, who had never in all his life had the power to fasten his 
mind upon the pages of a book, or the logic of number, for an hour 
together, resented, as he see-sawed comically from one leg to another, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 123 

stammering quaintly, whistling for the word that stuck in his throat, 
the brooding abstraction of the youngest. 

"Come on, this is no time for day-dreaming," he would stammer 
ironically. "The early bird catches the worm it's time we went out on 
the street." 

And although his reference to day-dreams was only part of the 
axiomatic mosaic of his speech, Eugene was startled and confused, 
feeling that his secret world, so fearfully guarded, had been revealed to 
ridicule. And the older boy, too, smarting from his own dismal per- 
formances at school, convinced himself that the deep inward turning 
of the spirit, the brooding retreat into the secret place, which he recog- 
nized in the mysterious hypnotic power of language over Eugene, was 
not only a species of indolence, for the only work he recognized was 
that which strained at weight or sweated in the facile waggery of the 
tongue, but that it was moreover the indulgence of a "selfish" family- 
forgetting spirit. He was determined to occupy alone the throne of 
goodness. 

Thus, Eugene gathered vaguely but poignantly, that other boys of 
his age were not only self-supporting, but had for years kept their 
decrepit parents in luxury by their earnings as electrical engineers, presi- 
dents of banks, or members of Congress. There was, in fact, no excess 
of suggestion that Gant did not use upon his youngest son he had 
felt, long since, the vibration to every tremor of feeling of the million- 
noted little instrument, and it pleased him to see the child wince, gulp, 
tortured with remorse. Thus, while he piled high with succulent meat 
the boy's platter, he would say sentimentally: 

"I tell you what: there are not many boys who have what you 
have. What's going to become of you when your old father's dead and 
gone?" And he would paint a ghastly picture of himself lying cold in 
death, lowered forever into the damp rot of the earth, buried, forgotten 
an event which, he hinted sorrowfully, was not remote. 

"You'll remember the old man, then," he would say. "Ah, Lord! 
You never miss the water till the well goes dry," noting with keen pleas- 
ure the inward convulsion of the childish throat, the winking eyes, the 
tense constricted face. 



124 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"I'll vow, Mr. Gant," Eliza bridled, also pleased, "you oughtn't to 
do that to the child." 

Or, he would speak'sadly of "Little Jimmy," a legless little boy 
whom he had often pointed out to Eugene, who lived across the river 
from Riverside, the amusement park, and around whom he had woven 
a pathetic fable of poverty and orphanage which was desperately real 
now to his son. When Eugene was six, Gant had promised him care- 
lessly a pony for Christmas, without any intention of fulfilling his 
promise. As Christmas neared he had begun to speak touchmgly of 
"Little Jimmy," of the countless advantages of Eugene's lot and, after 
a mighty struggle, the boy had renounced the pony, in a scrawled 
message to Elfland, in favor of the cripple. Eugene never forgot, even 
when he had reached manhood the deception of "Little Jimmy" re- 
turned to him, without rancor, without ugliness, only with pain for 
all the blind waste, the stupid perjury, the thoughtless dishonor, the 
crippling dull deceit. 

Luke parroted all of his father's sermon, but earnestly and witlessly, 
without Gant's humor, without his chicanery, only with his sentimen- 
tality. He lived in a world of symbols, large, crude, and gaudily painted, 
labelled "Father," "Mother," "Home," "Family," "Generosity," 
"Honor," "Unselfishness," made of sugar and molasses, and gummed 
glutinously with tear-shaped syrup. 

"He's one good boy," the neighbors said. 

"He's the cutest thing," said the ladies, who were charmed by his 
stutter, his wit, his good nature, his devout attendance on them. 

"That boy's a hustler. He'll make his mark," said all the men in 
town. 

And it was as the smiling hustler that he wanted to be known. 
He read piously all the circulars the Curtis Publishing Company sent 
to its agents : he posed himself in the various descriptive attitudes that 
were supposed to promote business the proper manner of "approach," 
the most persuasive manner of drawing the journal from the bag, the 
animated description of its contents, in which he was supposed to be 
steeped as a result of his faithful reading "the good salesman," the 
circulars said, "should know in and out the article he is selling" a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 125 

knowledge that Luke avoided, but which he replaced with eloquent 
invention of his own. 

The literal digestion of these instructions resulted in one of the 
most fantastical exhibitions of print-vending ever seen: fortified by his 
own unlimited cheek, and by the pious axioms of the exhortations that 
"the good salesman will never take no for his answer," that he should 
"stick to his prospect" even if rebuffed, that he should "try to get the 
customer's psychology," the boy would fall into step with an unsus- 
pecting pedestrian, open the broad sheets of The Post under the man's 
nose, and in a torrential harangue, sown thickly with stuttering speech, 
buffoonery, and ingratiation, delivered so rapidly that the man could 
neither accept nor reject the magazine, hound him before a grinning 
public down the length of a street, backing him defensively into a wall, 
and taking from the victim's eager fingers the five-cent coin that 
purchased his freedom. 

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir," he would begin in a sonorous voice, dropping 
wide-leggedly into the "prospect's" stride. 'This week's edition of The 
Saturday Evening Post, five cents, only a nickel, p-p-p-purchased weekly 
by t-t-two million readers. In this week's issue you have eighty-six pages 
of f-f-fact and fiction, to say n-n-nothing of the advertisements. If you 
c-c-c-can't read you'll get m-m-more than your money's worth out of 
the p-p-pictures. On page 13 this week, we have a very fine article, by 
I-I-l-Isaac F. Marcosson, the f-f-f-famous traveller and writer on poli- 
tics; on page 29, you have a story by Irvin S. Cobb, the g-g-g-greatest 
living humorist, and a new story of the prize-ring by J-J-Jack London. 
If you b-b-bought it in a book, it'd c-c-cost you a d-d-dollar-and-a-half." 

He had, besides these chance victims, an extensive clientry among 
the townsfolk. Swinging briskly and cheerily down the street, full of 
greetings and glib repartee, he would accost each of the grinning men 
by a new title, in a rich stammering tenor voice. 

"Colonel, how are you! Major here you are, a week's reading 
hot off the press. Captain, how's the boy?" 

"How are you, son?" 

"Couldn't be better, General slick as a puppy's belly!" 

And they would roar with wheezing, red-faced, Southern laughter: 



126 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"By God, he's a good 'un. Here, son, give me one of the damn 
things. I don't want it, but I'll buy it just to hear you talk." 

He was full of pungent and racy vulgarity: he had, more than 
any of the family, a Rabelaisian earthiness that surged in him with limit- 
less energy, charging his tongue with unpremeditated comparisons, Gar- 
gantuan metaphors. Finally, he wet the bed every night in spite of 
Eliza's fretting complaints: it was the final touch of his stuttering, 
whistling, cheerful, vital, and comic personality he was Luke, the 
unique, Luke, the incomparable: he was, in spite of his garrulous and 
fidgeting nervousness, an intensely likable person and he really had 
in him a bottomless well of affection. He wanted bounteous praise for 
his acts, but he had a deep, genuine kindliness and tenderness. 

Every week, on Thursday, in Gant's dusty little office, he would 
gather the grinning cluster of small boys who bought The Post from 
him, and harangue them before he sent them out on their duties : 

"Well, have you thought of what you're going to tell them yet? 
You know you can't sit around on your little tails and expect them to 
look you up. Have you got a spiel worked out yet? How do you 
approach 'em, eh?" he said, turning fiercely to a stricken small boy. 
"Speak up, speak up, G-G-G-God-damn it don't s-s-stand there look- 
ing at me. Haw!" he said, laughing with sudden wild idiocy, "look at 
that face, won't you?" 

Gant surveyed the proceedings from afar with Jannadeau, grinning. 

"All right, Christopher Columbus," continued Luke, goodhumor- 
edly, "What do you tell 'em, son?" 

The boy cleared his throat timidly: "Mister, do you want to buy 
a copy of The Saturday Evening Post?" 

"Oh, twah-twah," said Luke, with mincing delicacy, as the boys 
sniggered, "sweet twah-twah! Do you expect them to buy with a spiel 
like that? My God, where are your brains? Sail into them. Tackle 
them, and don't take no for an answer. Don't ask them if they want 
to buy. Dive into them: 'Here you are, sir hot off the press.' Jesus 
Christ," he yelled, looking at the distant court-house clock with sudden 
fidget, "we should have been out an hour ago. Come on don't stand 
there : here are your papers. How many do you want, you little Kike?" 




for he had several Jews in his employ: they worshipped him and he 
was very fond of them he liked their warmth, richness, humor. 

"Twenty." 

"Twenty !" he yelled. "You little loafer you'll t-t-take fifty. G-g-go 
on, you c-c-can sell 'em all this afternoon. By G-G-God, papa," he 
said, pointing to the Jews, as Gant entered the office, "it 1-1-looks like 
the Last S-S-Supper, don't it? All right!" he said, smacking across the 
buttocks a small boy who had bent for his quota. "Don't stick it in 
my face." They shrieked with laughter. "Dive m to them now. Don't 



128 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

let 'em get away from you." And, laughing and excited, he would send 
them out into the streets. 

To this kind of employment and this method of exploitation Eugene 
was now initiated. He loathed the work with a deadly, an inexplicable 
loathing. But something in him festered deeply at the idea of disposing 
of his wares by the process of making such a wretched little nuisance of 
himself that riddance was purchased only at the price of the magazine. 
He writhed with shame and humiliation, but he stuck desperately to 
his task, a queer curly-headed passionate little creature, who raced along 
by the side of an astonished captive, pouring out of his dark eager face 
a hurricane of language. And men, fascinated somehow by this strange 
eloquence from a little boy, bought. 

Sometimes the heavy paunch-bellied Federal judge, sometimes an 
attorney, a banker would take him home, bidding him to perform for 
their wives, the members of their families, giving him twenty-five cents 
when he was done, and dismissing him. "What do you think of that!" 
they said. 

His first and nearest sales made, in the town, he would make the 
long circle on the hills and in the woods along the outskirts, visiting 
the tubercular sanitariums, selling the magazines easily and quickly 
"like hot cakes" as Luke had it to doctors and nurses, to white, un- 
shaven, sensitive-faced Jews, to the wisp of a rake, spitting his rotten 
lungs into a cup, to good-looking young women who coughed slightly 
from time to time, but who smiled at him from their chairs, and let 
their warm soft hands touch his slightly as they paid him. 

Once, at a hillside sanitarium, two young New York Jews had taken 
him to the room of one of them, closed the door behind him, and 
assaulted him, tumbling him on the bed, while one drew forth a pocket 
knife and informed him he was going to perform a caponizing operation 
on him. They were two young men bored with the hills, the town, the 
deadly regime of their treatment, and it occurred to him years later 
that they had concocted the business, days ahead, in their dull lives, 
living for the excitement and terror they would arouse in him. His 
response was more violent than they had bargained for: he went mad 
with fear, screamed, and fought insanely. They were weak as cats, he 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 129 

squirmed out of their grasp and off the bed cuffing and clawing tiger- 
ishly, striking and kicking them with blind and mounting rage. He was 
released by a nurse who unlocked the door and led him out into the 
sunlight, the two young consumptives, exhausted and frightened, remain- 
ing in their room. He was nauseated by fear and by the impacts of his 
fists on their leprous bodies. 

But the little mound of nickels and dimes and quarters chinked 
pleasantly in his pockets: leg-weary and exhausted he would stand 
before a gleaming fountain burying his hot face in an iced drink. Some- 
times conscience-tortured, he would steal an hour away from the weary 
streets and go into the library for a period of enchantment and oblivion : 
he was often discovered by his watchful and bustling brother, who drove 
him out to his labor again, taunting and spurring him into activity. 

"Wake up! You're not in Fairyland. Go after them." 

Eugene's face was of no use to him as a mask : it was a dark pool 
in which every pebble of thought and feeling left its circle his shame, 
his distaste for his employment was obvious, although he tried to con- 
ceal it: he was accused of false pride, told that he was "afraid of a little 
honest work," and reminded of the rich benefits he had received from 
his big-hearted parents. 

He turned desperately to Ben. Sometimes Ben, loping along the 
streets of the town, met him, hot, tired, dirty, wearing his loaded canvas 
bag, scowled fiercely at him, upbraided him for his unkempt appearance, 
and took him into a lunch-room for something to eat rich foaming 
milk, fat steaming kidney-beans, thick apple-pie. 

Both Ben and Eugene were by nature aristocrats. Eugene had just 
begun to feel his social status or rather his lack of one; Ben had felt 
it for years. The feeling at bottom might have resolved itself simply 
into a desire for the companionship of elegant and lovely women: 
neither was able, nor would have dared, to confess this, and Eugene 
was unable to confess that he was susceptible to the social snub, or the 
pain of caste inferiority: any suggestion that the companionship of 
elegant people was preferable to the fellowship of a world of Tarkmtons, 
and its blousy daughters, would have been hailed with heavy ridicule 
by the family, as another indication of false and undemocratic pride. 



130 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He would have been called "Mr. Vanderbilt" or "the Prince of Wales." 

Ben, however, was not to be intimidated by their cant, or deceived 
by their twaddle. He saw them with bitter clarity, answered their pre- 
tensions with soft mocking laughter, and a brief nod upwards and to 
the side to the companion to whom he communicated all his contemp- 
tuous observation his dark satiric angel: "Oh, my God! Listen to 
that, won't you?" 

There was behind his scowling quiet eyes, something strange and 
fierce and unequivocal that frightened them: besides, he had secured for 
himself the kind of freedom they valued most the economic freedom 
and he spoke as he felt, answering their virtuous reproof with fierce 
quiet scorn. 

One day, he stood, smelling of nicotine, before the fire, scowling 
darkly at Eugene who, grubby and tousled, had slung his heavy bag 
over his shoulder, and was preparing to depart. 

"Come here, you little bum," he said. "When did you wash your 
hands last?" Scowling fiercely, he made a sudden motion as if to strike 
the boy, but he finished instead by re-tying, with his hard delicate hands, 
his tie. 

"In God's name, mama," he burst out irritably to Eliza, "haven't 
you got a clean shirt to give him? You know, he ought to have one 
every month or so." 

"What do you mean? What do you mean?" said Eliza with comic 
rapidity, looking up from a basket of socks she was darning. "I gave 
him that one last Tuesday." 

"You little thug!" he growled, looking at Eugene with a fierce pain 
in his eyes. "Mama, for heaven's sake, why don't you send him to the 
barber's and get that lousy hair cut off? By God, I'll pay for it, if you 
don't want to spend the money." 

She pursed her lips angrily and continued to darn. Eugene looked 
at him dumbly, gratefully. After Eugene had gone, the quiet one smoked 
moodily for a time, drawing the fragrant smoke in long gulps down into 
his thin lungs. Eliza, recollective and hurt at what had been said, worked 
on. 

"What are you trying to do with your kid, mama?" he said in a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 131 

hard quiet voice, after a silence. "Do you want to make a tramp out of 
him?" 

"What do you mean? What do you mean?" 

"Do you think it's right to send him out on the streets with every 
little"thug in town?" 

"Why, I don't know what you're talking about, boy," she said im- 
patiently. "It's no disgrace for a boy to do a little honest work, and 
no one thinks so." 

"Oh, my God," he said to the dark angel. "Listen to that!" 

Eliza pursed her lips without speaking for a time. 

"Pride goeth before a fall," she said after a moment. "Pride goeth 
before a fall." 

"I can't see that that makes much difference to us," said he. "We've 
got no place to fall to." 

"I consider myself as good as any one," she said, with dignity. 
"I hold my head up with any one I meet." 

"Oh, my God," Ben said to his angel. "You don't meet anyone. 
I don't notice any of your fine brothers or their wives coming to see 
you." 

This was true, and it hurt. She pursed her lips. 

"No mama," he continued after a moment's pause, "you and the 
Old Man have never given a damn what we've done so long as you 
thought you might save a nickel by it." 

"Why, I don't know what you're talking about, boy," she answered. 
"You talk as if you thought we were Rich Folks. Beggars can't be 
choosers." 

"Oh, my God," he laughed bitterly. "You and the Old Man like 
to make out you're paupers, but you've a sock full of money." 

"I don't know what you mean," she said angrily. 

"No," he said, with his frequent negative beginning, after a moody 
silence, "there are people in this town without a fifth what we've got 
who get twice as much out of it. The rest of us have never had anything, 
but I don't want to see the kid made into a little tramp." 

There was a long silence. She darned bitterly, pursing her lips 
frequently, hovering between quiet and tears. 



132 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"I never thought," she began after a long pause, her mouth trem- 
ulous with a bitter hurt smile, "that I should live to hear such talk 
from a son of mine. You had better watch out," she hinted darkly, "a 
day of reckoning cometh. As sure as you live, as sure as you live. You 
will be repaid threefold for your unnatural," her voice sank to a tearful 
whisper, "your unnatural conduct!" She wept easily. 

"Oh, my God," answered Ben, turning his lean, gray, bitter, bumpy 
face up toward his listening angel. "Listen to that, won't you?" 





11 

tiliza saw Altamont not as so many hills, buildings, people: she 
saw it in the pattern of a gigantic blueprint. She knew the history of 
every piece of valuable property who bought it, who sold it, who owned 
it in 1893, and what it was now worth. She watched the tides of traffic 
cannily; she knew by what corners the largest number of people passed 
m a day or an hour; she was sensitive to every growing-pain of the 
young town, gauging from year to year its growth in any direction, and 
deducing the probable direction of its future expansion. She judged 
distances critically, saw at once where the beaten route to an important 
centre was stupidly circuitous, and looking in a straight line through 
houses and lots, she said: 

"There'll be a street through here some day." 

Her vision of land and population was clear, crude, focal there 
was nothing technical about it: it was extraordinary for its direct inten- 
sity. Her instinct was to buy cheaply where people would come; to keep 
out of pockets and cuts de sac, to buy on a street that moved toward a 
centre, and that could be given extension. 

Thus, she began to think of Dixieland. It was situated five minutes 

133 



134 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

from the public square, on a pleasant sloping middleclass street of 
small homes and boarding-houses. Dixieland was a big cheaply con- 
structed frame house of eighteen or twenty drafty high-ceilmged rooms: 
it had a rambling, unplanned, gabular appearance, and was painted a 
dirty yellow. It had a pleasant green front yard, not deep but wide, 
bordered by a row of young deep-bodied maples: there was a sloping 
depth of one hundred and ninety feet, a frontage of one hundred and 
twenty. And Eliza, looking toward the town, said: 'They'll put a street 
behind there some day." 

In winter, the wind blew howling blasts under the skirts of Dixie- 
land: its back end was built high off the ground on wet columns of rotting 
brick. Its big rooms were heated by a small furnace which sent up, 
when charged with fire, a hot dry enervation to the rooms of the first 
floor, and a gaseous but chill radiation to those upstairs. 

The place was for sale. Its owner was a middle-aged horse-faced 
gentleman whose name was the Reverend Wellington Hodge: he had 
begun life favorably in Altamont as a Methodist minister, but had run 
foul of trouble when he began to do double service to the Lord God of 
Hosts and John Barleycorn his evangelical career came to an abrupt 
ending one winter's night when the streets were dumb with falling snow. 
Wellington, clad only in his winter heavies, made a wild sortie from 
Dixieland at two in the morning, announcing the kingdom of God and 
the banishment of the devil, in a mad marathon through the streets 
that landed him panting but victorious in front of the Post Office. Since 
then, with the assistance of his wife, he had eked out a hard living at the 
boarding-house. Now, he was spent, disgraced, and weary of the town. 

Besides, the sheltering walls of Dixieland inspired him with horror 
he felt that the malign influence of the house had governed his own 
disintegration. He was a sensitive man, and his promenades about his 
estate were checked by inhibited places: the cornice of the long girdling 
porch where a lodger had hanged himself one day at dawn, the spot in 
the hall where the consumptive had collapsed in a hemorrhage, the 
room where the old man cut his throat. He wanted to return to his 
home, a land of fast horses, wind-bent grass, and good whisky 
Kentucky. He was ready to sell Dixieland. 




Eliza pursed her lips more and more thoughtfully, went to town 
by way of Spring Street more and more often. 

"That's going to be a good piece of property some day," she said 
to Gant. 



He made no complaint. He felt suddenly the futility of opposing 
an implacable, an inexorable desire. 
"Do you want it?" he said. 



136 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

She pursed her lips several times: "It's a good buy," she said. 

"You'll never regret it as long as you live, W. O.," said Dick 
Gudger, the agent. 

"It's her house, Dick," said Gant wearily. "Make out the papers 
in her name." 

She looked at him. 

"I never want to own another piece of property as long as I live," 
said Gant. "It's a curse and a care, and the tax-collector gets all you 
have in the end." 

Eliza pursed her lips and nodded. 

She bought the place for seventy-five hundred dollars. She had 
enough money to make the first payment of fifteen hundred. The balance 
was to be paid in installments of fifteen hundred dollars a year. This 
she knew she had to pay chiefly from the earnings of the house. 

In the young autumn when the maples were still full and green, 
and the migratory swallows filled secretly the trees with clamor, and 
swooped of an evening in a black whirlwind down, drifting at its funnel 
end, like dead leaves, into their chosen chimney, Eliza moved into Dixie- 
land. There was clangor, excitement, vast curiosity in the family about 
the purchase, but no clear conception of what had really happened. 
Gant and Eliza, although each felt dumbly that they had come to a 
decisive boundary in their lives, talked vaguely about their plans, spoke 
of Dixieland evasively as "a good investment," said nothing clearly. In 
fact, they felt their approaching separation instinctively: Eliza's life was 
moving by a half-blind but inevitable gravitation toward the centre of 
its desire the exact meaning of her venture she would have been un- 
able to define, but she had a deep conviction that the groping urge 
which had led her so blindly into death and misery at Saint Louis had 
now impelled her in the right direction. Her life was on the rails. 

And however vaguely, confusedly, and casually they approached 
this complete disruption of their life together, the rooting up of their 
clamorous home, when the hour of departures came, the elements 
resolved themselves immutably and without hesitation. 

Eliza took Eugene with her. He was the last tie that bound her to 
all the weary life of breast and cradle; he still slept with her of nights; 
she was like some swimmer who ventures out into a dark and desperate 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 137 

sea, not wholly trusting to her strength and destiny, but with a slender 
cord bound to her which stretches still to land. 

Wifh scarcely a word spoken, as if it had been known anciently and 
forever, Helen stayed with Gant. 

The time for Daisy's marriage was growing near: she had been 
sought by a tall middle-aged shaven life-insurance agent, who wore 
spats, collars of immaculate starchiness five inches m height, who spoke 
with an unctuous and insane croon, chortling gently in his throat from 
time to time for no reason at all. His name was Mr. McKissem," and 
she had screwed up enough courage, after an arduous siege, to refuse 
him, upon the private grounds of insanity. 

She had promised herself to a young South Carolinian, who was 
connected rather vaguely with the grocery trade. His hair was parted 
in the middle of his low forehead, his voice was soft, drawling, amiable, 
his manner hearty and insistent, his habits large and generous. He 
brought Gant cigars on his visits, the boys large boxes of assorted 
candies. Every one felt that he had favorable prospects. 

As for the others Ben and Luke only they were left floating in 
limbo; for Steve, since his eighteenth year, had spent most of his life 
away from home, existing for months by semi-vagabondage, scrappy 
employment, and small forgeries upon his father, in New Orleans, 
Jacksonville, Memphis, and reappearing to his depressed family after 
long intervals by telegraphing that he was desperately sick or, through 
the intermediacy of a crony who borrowed the title of "doctor" for the 
occasion, that he was dying, and would come home in a box if he was 
not sent for in the emaciated flesh. 

Thus, before he was eight, Eugene gained another roof and lost 
forever the tumultuous, unhappy, warm centre of his home. He had 
from day to day no clear idea where the day's food, shelter, lodging was 
to come from, although he was reasonably sure it would be given: he 
ate wherever he happened to hang his hat, either at Gant's or at his 
mother's ; occasionally, although infrequently, he slept with Luke in the 
sloping, alcoved, gabled back room, rude with calcimine, with the high 
drafty steps that slanted to the kitchen porch, with the odor of old 
stacked books in packing-cases, with the sweet orchard scents. There 



138 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

were two beds; he exulted in his unaccustomed occupancy of an entire 
mattress, dreaming of the day of manlike privacy. But Eliza did not 
allow this often: he was riven into her flesh. 

Forgetful of him during the day's press, she summoned him at 
night over the telephone, demanding his return, and upbraiding Helen 
for keeping him. There was a bitter submerged struggle over him be- 
tween Eliza and her daughter: absorbed in the management of Dixieland 
for days, she would suddenly remember his absence from meals, and 
call for him angrily across the phone. 

"Good heavens, mama," Helen would answer irritably. "He's your 
child, not mine. I'm not going to see him starve." 

"What do you mean ^ What do you mean? He ran off while dinner 
was on the table. I've got a good meal fixed for him here. H-m! A good 
meal." 

Helen put her hand over the mouthpiece, making a face at him as 
he stood catlike and sniggering by, burlesquing the Pentland manner, 
tone, mouthing. 

"H-m! Why, law me, child, yes it's good soup." 

He was convulsed silently. 

And then aloud: "Well, it's your own lookout, not mine. If he 
doesn't want to stay up there, I can't help it." 

When he returned to Dixieland, Eliza would question him with 
bitter working lips; she would prick at his hot pride in an effort to keep 
him by her. 

"What do you mean by running off to your papa's like that? If I 
were you, I'd have too much pride for that. I'd be a-sha-a-med!" Her 
face worked with a bitter hurt smile. "Helen can't be bothered with 
you. She doesn't want you around." 

But the powerful charm of Gant's house, of its tacked and added 
whimsy, its male smell, its girdling rich vines, its great gummed trees, 
its roaring internal seclusiveness, the blistered varnish, the hot calf- 
skin, the comfort and abundance, seduced him easily away from the 
great chill tomb of Dixieland, particularly in winter, since Eliza was 
most sparing of coal. 

Gant had already named it "The Barn" ; in the morning now, after 
his heavy breakfast at home, he would swing gauntly toward town by 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 139 

way of Spring Street, composing en route the invective that he had 
formerly reserved to his sitting-room. He would stride through the 
wide chill hall of Dixieland, bursting in upon Eliza, and two or three 
negresses, busy preparing the morning meal for the hungry boarders 
who rocked energetically upon the porch. All of the objections, all of 
the abuse that had not been uttered when she bought the place, were 
vented now. 

"Woman, you have deserted my bed and board, you have made a 
laughing stock of me before the world, and left your children to perish. 
Fiend that you are, there is nothing that you would not do to torture, 
humiliate and degrade me. You have deserted me in my old age; you 
have left me to die alone. Ah, Lord! It was a bitter day for us all when 
your gloating eyes first fell upon this damnable, this awful, this mur- 
derous and bloody Barn. There is no ignominy to which you will not 
stoop if you think it will put a nickel in your pocket. You have fallen 
so low not even your own brothers will come near you. 4 Nor beast, nor 
man hath fallen so far.' " 

And in the pantries, above the stove, into the dining-room, the rich 
voices of the negresses chuckled with laughter. 

"Dat man sho' can tawk!" 

Eliza got along badly with the negroes. She had all the dislike and 
distrust for them of the mountain people. Moreover, she had never 
been used to service, and she did not know how to accept or govern it 
graciously. She nagged and berated the sullen negro girls constantly, 
tortured by the thought that they were stealing her supplies and her 
furnishings, and dawdling away the time for which she paid them. And 
she paid them reluctantly, dribbling out their small wages a com or two 
at a time, nagging them for their laziness and stupidity. 

"What have you been doing all this time? Did you get those back 
rooms done upstairs?" 

"No'm," said the negress sullenly, slatting flatfootedly down the 
kitchen. 

"I'll vow," Eliza fretted. "I never saw such a good-for-nothing 
shiftless darkey in my life. You needn't think I'm going to pay you 
for wasting your time." 

This would go on throughout the day. As a result, Eliza would 



140 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

often begin the day without a servant: the girls departed at night mut- 
tering sullenly, and did not appear the next morning. Moreover, her 
reputation for bickering pettiness spread through the length and breadth 
of Niggertown. It became increasingly difficult for her to find any one 
at all who would work for her. Completely flustered when she awoke 
to find herself without help, she would immediately call Helen over the 
telephone, pouring her fretful story into the girl's ears and entreating 
assistance: 

"I'll declare, child, I don't know what I'm going to do. I could 
wring that worthless nigger's neck. Here I am left all alone with a house 
full of people." 

"Mama, in heaven's name, what's the matter? Can't you keep a 
nigger in the house? Other people do. What do you do to them, 
anyway?" 

But, fuming and irritable, she would leave Gant's and go to her 
mother's, serving the tables with large heartiness, nervous and animated 
good-humor. All the boarders were very fond of her: they said she was 
a fine girl. Every one did. There was a spacious and unsparing gener- 
osity about her, a dominant consuming vitality, which ate at her pooi 
health, her slender supply of strength, so that her shattered nerves drew 
her frequently toward hysteria, and sometimes toward physical collapse. 
She was almost six feet tall: she had large hands and feet, thin straight 
legs, a big-boned generous face, with the long full chin slightly adroop. 
revealing her big gold-traced upper teeth. But, in spite of this gaunt ness, 
she did not look hard-featured or raw-boned. Her face was full of heart- 
iness and devotion, sensitive, whole-souled, hurt, bitter, hysterical, bui 
at times transparently radiant and handsome. 

It was a spiritual and physical necessity for her to exhaust hersell 
in service for others, and it was necessary for her to receive heavj 
slatherings of praise for that service, and especially necessary that sh( 
feel her efforts had gone unappreciated. Even at the beginning, she 
would become almost frantic reciting her grievances, telling the storj 
of her service to Eliza in a voice that became harsh and hysterical : 

"Let the least little thing go wrong and she's at the phone. It'i 
not my place to go up there and work like a nigger for a crowd of ok 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 141 

cheap boarders. You know that, don't you? Don't you?" 

"Yes'm," said Eugene, meekly serving as audience. 

"But she'd die rather than admit it. Do you ever hear her say a 
word of thanks? Do I get," she said laughing suddenly, her hysteria 
crossed for the moment with her great humor, "do I get so much as 
go-to-helT for it?" 

"No r squealed Eugene, going off in fits of idiot laughter. 

"Why, law me, child. H-m! Yes. It's good soup," said she, 
touched with her great earthy burlesque. 

He tore his collar open, and undid his trousers, sliding to the floor 
in an apoplexy of laughter. 

"Sdop! Sdop! You're g-g-gilling me!" 

"H-m! Why, law me! Yes," she continued, grinning at him as if 
she hoped to succeed. 

Nevertheless, whether Eliza was servantless or not, she went daily 
at dinner, the mid-day meal, to help at table, and frequently at night 
when Gant and the boys ate with Eliza instead of at home. She went 
because of her deep desire to serve, because it satisfied her need for 
giving more than was returned, and because, in spite of her jibes, along 
with Gant, at the Barn, and the "cheap boarders," the animation of 
feeding, the clatter of plates, the braided clamor of their talk, stimulated 
and excited her. 

Like Gant, like Luke, she needed extension in life, movement, ex- 
citement: she wanted to dominate, to entertain, to be the life of the 
party. On small solicitation, she sang for the boarders, thumping the 
cheap piano with her heavy accurate touch, and singing in her strong, 
vibrant, somewhat hard soprano a repertory of songs classical, senti- 
mental, and comic. Eugene remembered the soft cool nights of summer, 
the assembled boarders and "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," 
which Gant demanded over and over; "Love Me and the World Is 
Mine"; "Till the Sands of the Desert Grow Cold"; "Dear Old Girl, 
the Rob-fern Sings Above You"; "The End of a Perfect Day"; and 
"Alexander's Rag-Time Band," which Luke had practised in a tortured 
house for weeks, and sung with thunderous success in the High School 
Minstrels. 



142 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Later, in the cool dark, Gant, rocking violently, would hold forth 
on the porch, his great voice carrying across the quiet neighborhood, as 
he held the charmed boarders by his torrential eloquence, his solution 
of problems of state, his prejudiced but bold opinion upon current news. 

" And what did we do, gentlemen? We sank their navy in an 
action that lasted only twenty minutes, stormed at by shot and shell, 
Teddy and his Rough Riders took the hill at Santiago it was all over, 
as you well know, in a few months. We had declared war with no 
thought of ulterior gain; we came because the indignation of a great 
people had been aroused at the oppression of a smaller one, and then, 
with a magnanimity well worthy the greatest people of the face of the 
earth, we paid our defeated enemy twenty millions of dollars. Ah, 
Lord ! That was magnanimity indeed ! You don't think any other nation 
would have done that, do you?" 

"No, sir," said the boarders emphatically. 

They didn't always agree with his political opinions Roosevelt 
was the faultless descendant of Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and 
Abraham Lincoln but they felt he had a fine head and would have 
gone far in politics. 

"That man should have been a lawyer,'* said the boarders. 

And yet, there was surging into these chosen hills the strong thrust 
of the world, like a kissing tide, which swings lazily in with a slapping 
glut of waters, and recoils into its parent crescent strength, to be thrown 
farther inward once again. 

It was an element of Eliza's primitive and focal reasoning that men 
and women withered by the desert would seek an oasis, that those who 
were thirsty would seek water, and that those panting on the plains 
would look into the hills for comfort and relief. She had that bull's-eye 
accuracy which has since been celebrated, when plum-picking's over, 
under the name of "vision." 

The streets, ten years before raw clay, were being paved: Gant 
went into frenzies over the paving assessments, cursed the land, the day 
of his birth, the machinations of Satan's children. But Eugene followed 
the wheeled casks of boiling tar; watched the great roller, a monster 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 143 

that crushed him in night-mares, powder the layered rock; felt, as he 
saw the odorous pressed tongue of pavement lengthen out, a swelling 
ecstasy. 

From time to time, a stilted Cadillac gasped cylindrically up the 
hill past Dixieland: Eugene said a spell, as it faltered, for its success 
Jim Sawyer, a young blood, came for Miss Cutler, the Pittsburgh beauty: 
he opened a door behind in the fat red belly They got m. 

Sometimes, when Eliza awoke to find her servants gone, he was 
sent down into Niggertown to capture a new one: in that city of rickets 
he searched into their fetid shacks, past the slow stench of little rills of 
mire and sewage, in fetid cellars, through all the rank labyrinth of the 
hill-sprawled settlement. He came, in the hot sealed dungeons of their 
rooms, to know the wild grace of their bodies, thrown upon a bed, their 
rich laughter, their smell of the jungle tropics stewed in with frying 
cookery and a boiling wash. 

"Do you want a job?" 

"Whose little boy are you?" 

"Mrs. Eliza Gant's." 

Silence. Presently: "Dere's a gal up de street at Mis' Cawpening's 
who's lookin' fo' wuk. You go see /?w/7." 

Eliza watched them with a falcon's eye for thefts. Once, with a 
detective, she searched a departed girl's room in Niggertown, finding 
there sheets, towels, spoons that had been stolen from her. The girl 
went to the penitentiary for two years. Eliza loved the commotion of 
law, the smell and tension of the courts. Whenever she could go to law 
she did so: she delighted in bringing suit against people, or in having 
suit brought against her. She always won. 

When her boarders defaulted payments she seized their belongings 
triumphantly, delighting particularly m eleventh-hour captures at the 
railway station, with the aid of an obedient constabulary, and ringed 
by the attentive offal of the town. 

Eugene was ashamed of Dixieland. And he was again afraid to 
express his shame. As with The Post, he felt thwarted, netted, trapped. 
He hated the indecency of his life, the loss of dignity and seclusion, the 



144 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

surrender to the tumultuous rabble of the four walls which shield us 
from them. He felt, rather than understood, the waste, the confusion, 
the blind cruelty of their lives his spirit was stretched out on the rack 
of despair and bafflement as there came to him more and more the con- 
viction that their lives could not be more hopelessly distorted, wrenched, 
mutilated, and perverted away from all simple comfort, repose, happi- 
ness, if they set themselves deliberately to tangle the skein, twist the 
pattern. He choked with fury: he thought of Eliza's slow speech, her 
endless reminiscence, her maddening lip-pursing, and turned white with 
constricted rage. 

He saw plainly by this time that their poverty, the threat of the 
poorhouse, the lurid references to the pauper's grave, belonged to the 
insensate mythology of hoarding;' anger smouldered like a brand in 
him at their sorry greed. There was no place sacred unto themselves, 
no place fixed for their own inhabitation, no place proof against the 
invasion of the boarders. 

As the house filled, they went from room to little room, going 
successively down the shabby scale of their lives. He felt it would hurt 
them, coarsen them: he had even then an intense faith in food, in 
housing, in comfort he felt that a civilized man must begin with them; 
he knew that wherever the spirit had withered, it had not withered 
because of food and plumbing. 

As the house filled, in the summer season, and it was necessary to 
wait until the boarders had eaten before a place could be found for him, 
he walked sullenly about beneath the propped back porch of Dixieland, 
savagely exploring the dark cellar, or the two dank windowless rooms 
which Eliza rented, when she could, to negresses. 

He felt now the petty cruelty of village caste. On Sunday for several 
years, he had bathed, brushed, arrayed his anointed body in clean under- 
wear and shirting and departed, amid all the pleasurable bustle of 
Sunday morning, for the Presbyterian Sunday School. He had by this 
time been delivered from the instruction of the several spinsters who had 
taught his infant faith the catechism, the goodness of God, and the 
elements of celestial architecture. The five-cent piece which formerly he 
had yielded up reluctantly, thinking of cakes and ale, he now surrendered 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 145 

more gladly, since he usually had enough left over for cold gaseous 
draughts at the soda-fountain. 

In the fresh Sunday morning air he marched off with brisk excite- 
ment to do duty at the altars, pausing near the church where the mar- 
shalled ranks of the boys' military school split cleanly into regimented 
Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians. 

The children assembled in a big room adjacent to the church, honey- 
combed to right and left with small classrooms, which they entered after 
the preliminary service was finished. They were exhorted from the plat- 
form by the superintendent, a Scotch dentist with a black-gray beard, 
fringed by a small area of embalmed skin, whose cells, tissues, and 
chemical juices seemed to have been fixed in a state of ageless suspension, 
and who looked no older from one decade to another. 

He read the text, or the parable of the day's study, commented on 
it with Cassarean dryness and concision, and surrendered the service to 
his assistant, a shaven, spectacled, Wilsonian-looking man, also Scotch, 
who smiled with cold affection at them over his high shiny collar, and 
led them through the verses of a hymn, heaving up his arms and leering at 
them encouragingly, as they approached the chorus. A sturdy spinstress 
thumped heavily upon a piano which shook like a leaf. 

Eugene liked the high crystal voices of the little children, backed 
by the substantial marrow of the older boys and girls, and based on the 
strong volume of the Junior and Senior Baraccas and Philatheas. They 
sang: 

"Throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline, 
Someone is sinking to-day-ee" 

on the mornings when the collection went for missionary work. And 
they sang: 

"Shall we gather at the river, 
The bew-tee-ful, the bew-tee-ful r-hiver." 

He liked that one very much. And the noble surge of "Onward, 
Christian Soldiers." 

Later, he went into one of the little rooms with his class. The 



146 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

sliding doors rumbled together all around; presently there was a quiet 
drone throughout the building. 

He was now in a class composed entirely of boys. His teacher was 
a tall white-faced young man, bent and thin, who was known to all the 
other boys as secretary of the Y. M. C. A. He was tubercular; but the 
boys admired him because of his former skill as a baseball and basket- 
ball player. He spoke in a sad, sugary, whining voice; he was oppres- 
sively Christ-like; he spoke to them intimately about the lesson of the 
day, asking them what it might teach them in their daily lives, in acts of 
obedience and love to their parents and friends, m duty, courtesy, and 
Christian charity. And he told them that when they were in doubt about 
their conduct they should ask themselves what Jesus would say: he 
spoke of Jesus often in his melancholy, somewhat discontented voice 
Eugene became vaguely miserable as he talked, thinking of something 
soft, furry, with a wet tongue. 

He was nervous and constrained: the other boys knew one another 
intimately they lived on, or in the neighborhood of, Montgomery 
Avenue, which was the most fashionable street in town. Sometimes, one 
of them said to him, grinning: "Do you want to buy The Saturday 
Evening Post, Mister?" 

Eugene, during- the week, never touched the lives of any of them, 
even in a remote way. His idea of their eminence was grossly exag- 
gerated; the town had grown rapidly from a straggling village it had 
few families as old as the Pentlands, and, like all resort towns, its caste 
system was liquidly variable, depending chiefly upon wealth, ambition, 
and boldness. 

Harry Tarkinton and Max Isaacs were Baptists, as were most of 
the people, the Scotch excepted, in Gant's neighborhood. In the social 
scale the Baptists were the most populous and were considered the most 
common: their minister was a large plump man with a red face and a 
white vest, who reached great oratorical effects, roaring at them like a 
lion, cooing at them like a dove, introducing his wife into the sermon 
frequently for purposes of intimacy and laughing, in a programme which 
the Episcopalians, who held the highest social eminence, and the Presby- 
terians, less fashionable, but solidly decent, felt was hardly chaste. The 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



147 



Methodists occupied the middle ground between vulgarity and decorum. 
This starched and well brushed world of Sunday morning Presby- 
terianism, with its sober decency, its sense of restraint, its suggestion of 
quiet wealth, solid position, ordered ritual, seclusive establishment, 
moved him deeply with its tranquillity. He felt concretely his isolation 
from it, he entered it from the jangled disorder of his own life once a 
week, looking at it, and departing from it, for years, with the sad heart 
of a stranger. And from the mellow gloom of the church, the rich 
distant organ, the quiet nasal voice of the Scotch minister, the inter- 
minable prayers, and the rich little pictures of Christian mythology 
which he had collected as a child under the instruction of the spinsters, 
he gathered something of the pain, the mystery, the sensuous beauty of 
religion, something deeper and greater than this austere decency. 





12 

It was the winter, and the sullen dying autumn that he hated most 
at Dixieland the dim fly-specked lights, the wretched progress about 
the house in search of warmth, Eliza untidily wrapped in an old sweater, 
a dirty muffler, a cast-off man's coat. She glycerined her cold-cracked 
hands. The chill walls festered with damp: they drank in death from the 
atmosphere: a woman died of typhoid, her husband came quickly out 
into the hall and dropped his hands. They were Ohio people. 

Upstairs, upon a sleeping porch, a thin-faced Jew coughed through 
the interminable dark. 

"In heaven's name, mama," Helen fumed, "why do you take them 
in? Can't you see he's got the bugs?" 

"Why, no-o," said Eliza, pursing her lips. "He said he only had a 
little bronchial trouble. I asked him about it, and he laughed just as 
big as you please: 'Why, Mrs. Gant,' he said " and there would follow 
and endless anecdote, embellished with many a winding rivulet. The 
girl raged: it was one of Eliza's basic traits to defend blindly whatever 
brought her money. 

The Jew was a kind man. He coughed gently behind his white 

148 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 149 

hand and ate bread fried in battered egg and butter. Eugene developed 
a keen appetite for it: innocently he called it "Jew Bread" and asked for 
more. Lichenfels laughed gently, coughed his wife was full of swart 
rich laughter. The boy did small services for him : he gave him a coin 
from week to week. He was a clothier from a New Jersey town. In the 
Spring he went to a sanitarium; he died there later. 

In the winter a few chill boarders, those faces, those personalities 
which become mediocre through repetition, sat for hours before the 
coals of the parlor hearth, rocking interminably, dull of voice and 
gesture, as hideously bored with themselves and Dixieland, no doubt, 
as he with them. 

He liked the summers better. There came slow-bodied women from 
the hot rich South, dark-haired white-bodied girls from New Orleans, 
corn-haired blondes from Georgia, nigger-drawling desire from South 
Carolina. And there was malarial lassitude, tinged faintly with yellow, 
from Mississippi but with white biting teeth. A red-faced South Caro- 
linian, with nicotined fingers, took him daily" U/ the baseball games; a 
lank yellow planter, malarial from Mississippi, climbed hill, and wand- 
ered through the fragrant mountain valleys with him; of nights he heard 
the rich laughter of the women, tender and cruel, upon the dark porches, 
heard the florid throat-tones of the men; saw the yielding stealthy 
harlotry of the South the dark seclusion of their midnight bodies, their 
morning innocence. Desire, with bloody beak, tore at his heart like 
jealous virtue: he was moral for that which was denied him. 

Of mornings he stayed at Gant's with Helen, playing ball with 
Buster Isaacs, a cousin of Max, a plump jolly little boy who lived next 
door; summoned later by the rich incense of Helen's boiling fudge. She 
sent him to the little Jewish grocery down the street for the sour relishes 
she liked so well: tabled in mid-morning they ate sour pickles, heavy 
slabs of ripe tomatoes, coated with thick mayonnaise, amber percolated 
coffee, fig-newtons and ladyfingers, hot pungent fudge pebbled with 
walnuts and coated fragrantly with butter, sandwiches of tender bacon 
and cucumber, iced belchy soft-drinks. 

His trust in her Gantian wealth was boundless: this rich store of 
delight came from inexhaustible resources. Warm lively hens cackled 



150 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

cheerfully throughout the morning neighborhood; powerful negroes 
brought dripping ice in iron talons from their smoking wagons; he stood 
beneath their droning saws and caught the flying ice-pulp in his hands; 
he drank in the combined odor of their great bodies together with the 
rich compost of the refrigeration, and the sharp oiliness of the dining- 
room linoleum; and in the horsehair walnut parlor at mid-day, good 
with the mellow piano-smell and the smell of stale varnished wood, she 
played for him, and made him sing: "William Tell," "My Heart at Thy 
Sweet Voice," "The Song Without Words," "Celeste Aida? "The Lost 
Chord," her long throat lean and tendoned as her vibrant voice rang 
out. 

She took insatiable delight in him, stuffing him with sour and 
sugared relishes, tumbling him, in a random moment of her restless 
activity, upon Gant's lounge, and pinioning him while she slapped his 
squirming face sharply with her big hand. 

Sometimes, frantic with some swift tangle of her nerves, she would 
attack him viciously, hating him for his dark brooding face, his full 
scalloped underlip, his deep absorption in a dream. Like Luke, and 
like Gant, she sought in the world ceaseless entertainment for her rest- 
less biting vitality: it infuriated her to see other people seek absorption 
within themselves she hated him at times when, her own wires strum- 
ming, she saw his dark face brooding over a book or on some vision. 
She would tear the book from his hands, slap him, and stab him with 
her cruel savage tongue. She would pout out her lip, goggle her face 
about stupidly on a drooping neck, assume an expression of dopey 
idiocy, and pour out on him the horrible torrent of her venom. 

"You little freak wandering around with your queer dopey face. 
You're a regular little Pentland you funny little freak, you. Every- 
body's laughing at you. Don't you know that? Don't you? We're going 
to dress you up as a girl, and let you go around like that. You haven't 
got a drop of Gant blood in you papa's practically said as much 
you're Greeley all over again; you're queer. Pentland queerness sticking 
out all over you." 

Sometimes her sweltering and inchoate fury was so great that she 
threw him on the floor and stamped on him. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 151 

He did not mind the physical assault so much as he did the poi- 
sonous hatred of her tongue, insanely clever in fashioning the most 
wounding barbs. He went frantic with horror, jerked unexpectedly from 
Elfland into Hell, he bellowed madly, saw his bountiful angel change in 
a moment to a snake-haired fury, lost all his sublime faith in love and 
goodness. He rushed at the wall like an insane little goat, battered his 
head screaming again and again, wished desperately that his constricted 
and overloaded heart would burst, that something in him would break, 
that somehow, bloodily, he might escape the stifling pnsonhouse of 
his life. 

This satisfied her desire; it was what deeply she had wanted she 
had found purging release in her savage attack upon him, and now she 
could drain herself cleanly in a wild smother of affection. She would 
seize him, struggling and screaming, in her long arms, plaster kisses all 
over his red mad face, soothing him with hearty flattery addressed in 
the third person: 

"Why, he didn't think I meant it, did he? Didn't he know I was 
only joking? Why, he's strong as a little bull, isn't he? He's a regular 
little giant, that's what he is. Why, he's perfectly wild, isn't he? His 
eyes popping out of his head. I thought he was going to knock a hole 
in the wall. Yes, ma'am. Why, law me, yes, child. It's good soup," 
resorting to her broad mimicry in order to make him laugh. And he 
would laugh against his will between his sobs, in a greater torture because 
of this agony of affection and reconciliation than because of the abuse. 

Presently, when he had grown quiet, she would send him off to the 
store for pickles, cakes, cold bottled drinks; he would depart with red 
eyes, his cheeks furrowed dirtily byjiis tears, wondering desperately as 
he went down the street why the thing had happened, and drawing his 
foot sharply off the ground and craning his neck convulsively as shame 
burnt in him. 

There was in Helen a restless hatred of dulness, respectability. Yet 
she was at heart a severely conventional person, in spite of her occasional 
vulgarity, which was merely a manifestation of her restless energy, a 
very naive, a childishly innocent person about even the simple wicked- 
ness of the village. She had several devoted young men on her list 



152 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

plain, hard-drinking country types: one, a native, lean, red-faced, alco- 
holic, a city surveyor, who adored her; another, a strapping florid blond 
from the Tennessee coal fields; another, a young South Carolinian, 
townsman of her older sister's fiance. 

These young men Hugh Parker, Jim Phelps, and Joe Cathcart, 
were innocently devoted; they liked her tireless and dominant energy, 
the eager monopoly of her tongue, her big sincerity and deep kindliness. 
She played and sang for them threw all her energy into entertaining 
them. They brought her boxes of candy, little presents, were divided 
jealously among themselves, but united in their affirmation that she was 
"a fine girl." 

And she would get Jim Phelps and Hugh Parker to bring her a 
drink of whisky as well: she had begun to depend on small potations 
of alcohol for the stimulus it gave her fevered body a small drink was 
enough to operate electrically in her blood: it renewed her, energized 
her, gave her a temporary and hectic vitality. Thus, although she never 
drank much at a time and showed, beyond the renewed vitality and 
gaiety, no sign of intoxication, she nibbled at the bottle. 

"I'll take a drink whenever I can get it," she said. 

She liked, almost invariably, young fast women. She liked the hectic 
pleasure of their lives, the sense of danger, their humor and liberality. 
She was drawn magnetically to all the wedded harlotry, which, escaping 
the Sunday discipline of a Southern village, and the Saturday lust of 
sodden husbands, came gaily to Altamont in summer. She liked people 
who, as she said, "didn't mind taking a little drink now and then." 

She liked Mary Thomas, a tall jolly young prostitute who came 
from Kentucky: she was a manicurist in an Altamont Hotel. 

"There are two things I want to see," said Mary, "a rooster's 
you-know-what and a hen's what-is-it." She was full of loud compelling 
laughter. She had a small room with a sleeping porch, at the front of 
the house upstairs. Eugene brought her some cigarettes once: she stood 
before the window in a thin petticoat, her feet wide apart, her long 
sensual legs outlined against the light. 

Helen wore her dresses, hats, and silk stockings. Sometimes they 
drank together. And, with humorous sentimentality, she defended her. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 153 

"Well, she's no hypocrite. That's one thing sure. She doesn't care 
who knows it." Or, 

"She's no worse than lot of your little goody-goodies, if the truth's 
known. She's only more open about it." 

Or again, irritated at some implied criticism of her own friendliness 
with the girl, she would say angrily; 

"What do you know about her? You'd better be careful how you 
talk about people. You'll get into trouble about it some day." 

Nevertheless, she was scrupulous in her public avoidance of the 
girl and, illogically, in a moment of unreasoning annoyance she would 
attack Eliza: 

"Why do you keep such people in your house, mama? Every one 
in town knows about her. Your place is getting the reputation of a 
regular chippyhouse all over town." 

Eliza pursed her lips angrily: 

"I don't pay any attention to them," she said. "I consider myself as 
good as any one. I hold my head up, and I expect every one else to do 
likewise. You don't catch me associating with them." 

It was part of her protective mechanism. She pretended to be 
proudly oblivious to any disagreeable circumstance which brought her 
in money. As a result, by that curious impalpable advertisement which 
exists among easy women, Dixieland became known to them they 
floated casually in the semi-public, clandestine prostitutes of a tourist 
town. 

Helen had drifted apart from most of her friends of high school 
days the hard-working plain-faced Genevieve Pratt, daughter of a 
schoolmaster, "Teeney" Duncan, Gertrude Brown. Her companions 
now were livelier, if somewhat more vulgar, young women Grace 
Deshaye, a plumber's daughter, an opulent blonde; Pearl Hmes, daugh- 
ter of a Baptist saddle-maker: she was heavy of body and face, but she 
had a powerful rag-time singing voice. 

Her closest companion, however, was a girl whose name was Nan 
Gudger: she was a brisk, slender, vital girl, with a waist so tightly 
corsetted that a man's hands might go around it. She was the trusted, 
accurate, infallible bookkeeper of a grocery store. She contributed 



154 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

largely to the support of her family a mother whom Eugene looked 
upon with sick flesh, because of the heavy goitre that sagged from her 
loose neck; a crippled sister who moved about the house by means of 
crutches and the propulsive strength of her powerful shoulders; and 
two brothers, hulking young thugs of twenty and eighteen years, who 
always bore upon their charmed bodies fresh knife-wounds, blue lumps 
and swellings, and other marks of their fights in poolroom and brothel. 
They lived in a two-story shack of rickety lumber on Clingman Street: 
the women worked uncomplainingly in the support of the young men. 
Eugene went here with Helen often: she liked the vulgarity, the humor, 
the excitement of their lives and it amused her particularly to listen to 
Mary's obscene earthy conversation. 

Upon the first of every month, Nan and Mary gave to the boys a 
portion of their earnings, for pocket money and for their monthly visit 
to the women of Eagle Crescent. 

"Oh, surely not, Mary? Good heavens!" said Helen with eager 
unbelief. 

"Why, hell yes, honey," said Mary, grinning her coarse drawl, 
taking her snuff-stick out of the brown corner of her mouth, and holding 
it m her strong hand. "We always give the boys money fer a woman once 
a month." 

"Oh, no r You're joking," Helen said, laughing. 

"Good God, child, don't you know that?" said Mary, spitting 
inaccurately at the fire, "Hit's good fer their health. They'd git sick if 
we didn't." 

Eugene began to slide helplessly toward the floor. He got an instant 
panorama of the whole astonishing picture of humor and solemn super- 
stition the women contributing their money, in the interests of sani- 
tation and health, to the debauches of the two grinning hairy nicotined 
young louts. 

"What're you laughin' at, son?" said Mary, gooching him roughly 
in the ribs, as he lay panting and prostrate. "You ain't hardly out of 
didies yet." 

She had all the savage passion of a mountaineer: crippled, she 
lived in the coarse heat of her brothers' lust. They were crude, kindly, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 155 

ignorant, and murderous people. Nan was scrupulously respectable and 
well-mannered: she had thick negroid lips that turned outward, and 
hearty tropical laughter. She replaced the disreputable furniture of the 
house by new shiny Grand Rapids chairs and tables. There was a 
varnished bookcase, forever locked, stored with stiff sets of unread 
books The Harvard Classics, and a cheap encyclopaedia. 

When Mrs. Selborne first came to Dixieland from the hot South 
she was only twenty-three but she looked older. Ripeness with her was 
all: she was a tall heavy-bodied blonde, well kept and elegant. She 
moved leisurely with a luxurious sensual swing of the body: her smile 
was tender and full of vague allurement, her voice gentle, her sudden 
laughter, bubbling out of midnight secrecy, rich and full. She was one 
of several handsome and bacchic daughters of a depleted South Caro- 
linian of good family; she had married at sixteen a red heavy man who 
came and went from her incomparable table, eating rapidly and heartily, 
muttering, when pressed, a few shy-sullen words, and departing to the 
closed leather-and-horse smell of his little office in the livery-stable he 
owned. She had two children by him, both girls : she moved with wasted 
stealth around all the quiet slander of a South Carolina mill-town, 
committing adultery carefully with a mill owner, a banker, and a lumber 
man, walking circumspectly with her tender blonde smile by day past all 
the sly smiles of town and trade, knowing that the earth was mined 
below her feet, and that her name, with clerk and merchant, was a sign 
for secret laughter. The natives, the men in particular, treated her with 
even more elaborate respect than a woman is usually given in a Southern 
town, but their eyes, behind the courteous unctions of their masks, were 
shiny with invitation. 

Eugene felt when he first saw her, and knew about her, that she 
would never be caught and always known. His love for her was des- 
perate. She was the living symbol of his desire the dim vast figure of 
love and maternity, ageless and autumnal, waiting, corn-haired, deep- 
breasted, blond of limb, in the ripe fields of harvest Demeter, Helen, 
the ripe exhaustless and renewing energy, the cradling nurse of weariness 
and disenchantment. Below the thrust of Spring, the sharp knife, the 




voices of the young girls in the darkness, the sharp inchoate expec- 
tancies of youth, his deep desire burned inextinguishably: something 
turned him always to the older women. 

When Mrs. Selborne first came to Dixieland her oldest child was 
seven years old, her youngest five. She received a small check from 
her husband every week, and a substantial one from the lumber man. 
She brought a negro girl with her: she was lavish in her dispensations to 
the negress, and to her children: this wastefulness, ease of living, and 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 157 

her rich seductive laughter fascinated Helen, drew her to the older 
woman. 

And, at night, as Eugene listened to the low sweet voice of the 
woman, heard the rich sensual burst of her laughter, as she sat in the 
dark porch with a commercial traveller or some merchant in the town, 
his blood grew bitter with the morality of jealousy : he withered with his 
hurt, thought of her little sleeping children, and, with a passionate sense 
of fraternity, of her gulled husband. He dreamed of himself as the 
redemptive hero, saving her in an hour of great danger, making her 
penitent with grave reproof, accepting purely the love she offered. 

In the morning, he breathed the seminal odor of her fresh bathed 
body as she passed him, gazed desperately into the tender sensuality of 
her face and, with a sense of unreality, wondered what change darkness 
wrought in this untellmg face. 

Steve returned from New Orleans after a year of vagabondage. The 
old preposterous swagger, following the ancient whine, reappeared as 
soon as he felt himself safely established at home again. 

"Stevie doesn't have to work," said he. "He's smart enough to 
make the others work for him." This was his defiance to his record of 
petty forgeries against Gant : he saw himself as a clever swindler although 
he had never had courage to swindle any one except his father. People 
were reading the Get-Rich-Quick Wallmgford stories: there was an 
immense admiration for this romantic criminal. 

Steve was now a young man in the first twenties. He was somewhat 
above the middle height, bumpy of face and sallow of skin, with a light 
pleasing tenor voice. Eugene had a feeling of disgust and horror when- 
ever his oldest brother returned: he knew that those who were physically 
least able to defend themselves, which included Eliza and himself, would 
bear the brunt of his whining, petty bullying, and drunken obscenity. 
He did not mind the physical abuse so much as he did its cowardly 
stealth, weakness, and slobbering reconciliations. 

Once, Gant, making one of his sporadic efforts to get his son fixed 
in employment, had sent him out to a country graveyard to put up a 
small monument. Eugene was sent along. Steve worked steadily in the 
hot sun for an hour, growing more and more irritable because of the 



158 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

heat, the rank weedy stench of the graveyard, and his own deep antip- 
athy to work. Eugene waited intensely for the attack he knew was 
coming. 

"What are you standing there for?" screamed Big Brother at length, 
looking up in an agony of petulance. He struck sharply at the boy's 
shin with a heavy wrench he held in his hand, knocking him to the 
ground, and crippling him for the moment. Immediately, he was palsied, 
not with remorse, but with fear that he had injured him badly and 
would be discovered. 

"You're not hurt, are you, buddy? You're not hurt?" he began in 
a quivering voice, putting his unclean yellow hands upon Eugene. And 
he made the effort at reconciliation Eugene so dreaded, whimpering, 
blowing his foul breath upon his brother's cringing flesh, and entreating 
him to say nothing of the occurrence when he went home. Eugene 
became violently nauseated: the stale odor of Steve's body, the clammy 
and unhealthy sweat that stank with nicotine, the touch of his tainted 
flesh filled him with horror. 

There still remained, however, in the cast and carriage of his head, 
in his swagger walk, the ghost of his ruined boyishness: women were 
sometimes attracted to him. It was his fortune, therefore, to secure 
Mrs. Selborne for his mistress the first summer she came to Dixieland. 
At night her rich laughter welled up from the dark porch, they walked 
through the quiet leafy streets, they went to Riverside together, walking 
beyond the lights of the carnival into the dark sandy paths by the river. 

But, as her friendship with Helen ripened, as she saw the revushon 
of the Gants against their brother, and as she began to see what damage 
she had already done to herself by her union with this braggart who 
had brandished her name through every poolroom in town as a tribute 
to his own power, she cast him off, quietly, implacably, tenderly. When 
she returned now, summer by summer, she met with her innocent and 
unwitting smile all of his obscene innuendoes, his heavily suggestive 
threats, his bitter revelations behind her back. Her affection for Helen 
was genuine, but it was also, she felt, strategic and useful. The girl intro- 
duced her to handsome young men, gave parties and dances at Gant's 
and Eliza's for her, was really a partner in her intrigues, assuring her of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 159 

privacy, silence, and darkness, and defending her angrily when the evil 
whispering began. 

"What do you know about her? You don't know what she does. 
You'd better be careful how you talk about her. She's got a husband 
to defend her, you know. You'll get your head shot off some day." 
Or, more doubtfully: 

"Well, I don't care what they say. I like her. She's mighty sweet. 
After all, what can we say about her for sure? No one can prove anything 
on her." 

And in the winters now she made short visits to the South Carolina 
town where Mrs. Selborne lived, returning with an enthusiastic descrip- 
tion of her reception, the parties "in her honor," the food, the lavish 
entertainment. Mrs. Selborne lived in the same town as Joe Gambell, 
the young clerk to whom Daisy was engaged. He was full of sly hints 
about the woman, but before her his manner was obsequious, confused, 
reverential, and he accepted without complaint the presents of food and 
clothing which she sent him after their marriage. 

Daisy had been married m the month of June following Eliza's 
purchase of Dixieland: the wedding was arranged on a lavish scale, 
and took place in the big dining-room of the house. Gant and his two 
older sons grinned sheepishly in unaccustomed evening dress, the Pent- 
lands, faithful in their attendance at weddings and funerals, sent gifts 
and came. Will and Pett gave a heavy set of carving steels. 

"I hope you always have something to use them on," said Will, 
flensing his hand, and winking at Joe Gambell, 

Eugene remembered weeks of frantic preparation, dress fittings, 
rehearsals, the hysteria of Daisy, who stared at her nails until they went 
blue, and the final splendor of the last two days the arriving gifts, 
the house, unnaturally cheerful with rich carpets and flowers, the per- 
ilous moment when their lives joined, the big packed dining-room, the 
droning interminable Scotch voice of the Presbyterian minister, the 
mounting triumph of the music when the grocery clerk got his bride. 
Later, the confusion, the greetings, the hysteria of the women. Daisy 
sobbing uncontrollably in the arms of a distant cousin, Beth Pentland, 
who had come up with her hearty red husband, the owner of a chain 



160 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

of small groceries in a South Carolina town, bringing gifts and a giant 
watermelon, and whose own grief was enhanced by the discovery, after 
the wedding, that the dress she had worked on weeks in advance she 
had put on, in her frenzy, wrong side out. 

Thus Daisy passed more or less definitely out of Eugene's life, 
although he was to see her briefly on visits, but with decreasing fre- 
quency, in the years that followed. The grocery clerk was making the 
one daring gesture of his life: he was breaking away from the cotton 
town, in which all the years of his life had been passed, and from the 
long lazy hours of grocery clerks, the languorous gossip of lank cotton 
farmers and townsmen, to which he had been used. He had found 
employment as a commercial traveller for a food products company: 
his headquarters was to be in Augusta, Georgia, but he was to travel 
into the far South. 

This rooting up of his life, this adventure into new lands, the effort 
to improve his fortune and his state, was his wedding gift to his wife 
a bold one, but imperilled already by distrust, fear, and his peasant 
suspicion of new scenes, new faces, new departures, of any life that 
differed from that of his village. 

"There's no place like Henderson," said he, with complacent and 
annoying fidelity, referring to that haven of enervation, red clay, ignor- 
ance, slander, and superstition, in whose effluent rays he had been 
reared. 

But he went to Augusta, and began his new life with Daisy in a 
lodging house. She was twenty-one, a slender, blushing girl who played 
the piano beautifully, accurately, academically, with a rippling touch, 
and with no imagination. Eugene could never remember her very well. 

In the early autumn after her marriage, Gant made the journey to 
Augusta, taking Eugene with him. The inner excitement of both was 
intense; the hot wait at the sleepy junction of Spartanburg, the ride in 
the dilapidated day coaches of the branch line that ran to Augusta, the 
hot baked autumnal land, rolling piedmont and pine woods, every detail 
of the landscape they drank in with thirsty adventurous eyes. Gant's 
roving spirit was parched for lack of travel: for Eugene, Saint Louis was 
a faint unreality, but there burned in him a vision of the opulent South, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 161 

stranger even than his passionate winter nostalgia for the snow-bound 
North, which the drifted but short-lived snows in Altarnont, the seizure 
of the unaccustomed moment for sledding and skating on the steep hills 
awakened in him with a Northern desire, a desire for the dark, the storm, 
the winds that roar across the earth and the triumphant comfort of 
warm walls which only a Southerner perhaps can know. 

And he saw the town of Augusta first not in the drab hues of 
reality, but as one who bursts a window into the faery pageant of the 
world, as one who has lived in prison, and finds life and the earth in 
rosy dawn, as one who has lived in all the fabulous imagery of books, 
and finds in a journey only an extension and verification of it so did 
he see Augusta, with the fresh washed eyes of a child, with glory, with 
enchantment. 

They were gone two weeks. He remembered chiefly the brown 
stains of the recent flood, which had flowed through the town and 
inundated its lower floors, the broad main street, the odorous and 
gleaming drug-store, scented to him with all the spices of his fancy, 
the hills and fields of Aiken, in South Carolina, where he sought vainly 
for John D. Rockefeller, a legendary prince who, he heard, went there 
for sport, marvelling that two States could join imperceptibly, without 
visible markings, and the cotton gin where he saw the great press mash 
the huge raw bales cleanly into tight bundles half their former size. 

Once, some children on the street had taunted him because of his 
long hair, and he had fallen into a cursing fury; once, in a rage at some 
quarrel with his sister, he set off on a world adventure, walking furiously 
for hours down a country road by the river and cotton fields, captured 
finally by Gant who sought for him in a hired rig. 

They went to the theatre: it was one of the first plays he had 
seen. The play was a biblical one, founded on the story of Saul and 
Jonathan, and he had whispered to Gant from scene to scene the trend 
of coming events a precocity which pleased his father mightily, and 
to which he referred for months. 

Just before they came home, Joe Gambell, in a fit of concocted 
petulance, resigned his position, and announced that he was returning 
to Henderson. His adventure had lasted three months. 




13 

In the years that followed, up to his eleventh or twelfth year when 
he could no longer travel on half fares, Eugene voyaged year by year 
into the rich mysterious South. Eliza, who, during her first winter at 
Dixieland, had been stricken by severe attacks of rheumatism, induced 
partly by kidney trouble, which caused her flesh to swell puffily, and 
which was diagnosed by the doctor as Bright's Disease, began to make 
extensive, although economical, voyages into Florida and Arkansas in 
search of health and, rather vaguely, in search of wealth. 

She always spoke hopefully of the possibility of opening a boarding- 
house at some tropical winter resort, during the seasons there and in 
Altamont, In winter now, she rented Dixieland for a few months, some- 
times for a year, although she really had no intention of allowing the 
place to slip through her fingers during the profitable summer season: 
usually, she let the place go, more or less deliberately, to some unscrup- 
ulous adventuress of lodging houses, good for a month's or two months' 
rent, but incapable of the sustained effort that would support it for a 
longer time. On her return from her journey, with rents in arrears, or 
with some other violation of the contract as an entering wedge, Eliza 



LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 163 

would surge triumphantly into battle, making a forced entrance with 
police, plain-clothes men, warrants, summonses, writs, injunctions, and 
all the other artillery of legal warfare, possessing herself forcibly, and 
with vindictive pleasure, of her property. 

But she turned always into the South the North for her was a 
land which she threatened often to explore, but which secretly she held 
m suspicion: there was in her no deep animosity because of an old war, 
her feeling was rather one of fear, distrust, alienation the "Yankee" 
to whom she humorously referred was foreign and remote. So, she 
turned always into the South, the South that burned like Dark Helen in 
Eugene's blood, and she always took him with her. They still slept 
together. 

His feeling for the South was not so much historic as it was of the 
core and desire of dark romanticism that unlimited and inexplicable 
drunkenness, the magnetism of some men's blood that takes them into 
the heart of the heat, and beyond that, into the polar and emerald cold 
of the South as swiftly as it took the heart of that incomparable roman- 
ticist who wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, beyond which there 
is nothing. And this desire of his was unquestionably enhanced by all 
he had read and visioned, by the romantic halo that his school history 
cast over the section, by the whole fantastic distortion of that period 
where people were said to live in "mansions," and slavery was a benevo- 
lent institution, conducted to a constant banjo-strumming, the strewn 
largesses of the colonel and the shuffle-dance of his happy dependents, 
where all women were pure, gentle, and beautiful, all men chivalrous 
and brave, and the Rebel horde a company of swagger, death-mocking 
cavaliers. Years later, when he could no longer think of the barren 
spiritual wilderness, the hostile and murderous intrenchment against all 
new life when their cheap mythology, their legend of the charm of 
their manner, the aristocratic culture of their lives, the quaint sweetness 
of their drawl, made him writhe when he could think of no return to 
their life and its swarming superstition without weariness and horror, 
so great was his fear of the legend, his fear of their antagonism, that 
he still pretended the most fanatic devotion to them, excusing his 
Northern residence on grounds of necessity rather than desire. 



164 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Finally, it occurred to him that these people had given him nothing, 
that neither their love nor their hatred could injure him, that he owed 
them nothing, and he determined that he would say so, and repay their 
insolence with a curse. And he did. 

So did his boundaries stretch into enchantment into fabulous and 
solitary wonder broken only by Eliza's stingy practicality, by her lack 
of magnificence in a magnificent world, by the meals of sweet rolls and 
milk and butter in an untidy room, by the shoe boxes of luncheon carried 
on the trains and opened in the diner, after a lengthy inspection of the 
menu had led to the ordering of coffee, by the interminable quarrels 
over price and charges in almost every place they went, by her com- 
mands to him to "scrooch up" when the conductor came through for 
the tickets, for he was a tall lank boy, and his half-fare age might be 
called to question. 

She took him to Florida in the late winter following Gant's return 
from Augusta: they went to Tampa first, and, a few days later, to Saint 
Petersburg. He plowed through the loose deep sand of the streets, fished 
interminably with jolly old men at the end of the long pier, devoured a 
chest full of dime novels that he found in the rooms she had rented in a 
private house. They left abruptly, after a terrific quarrel with the old 
Cracker who ran the place, who thought himself tricked out of the best 
part of a season's rent, and hurried off to South Carolina on receipt of 
a hysterical message from Daisy which bade her mother to "come at 
once." They arrived in the dingy little town, which was sticky with wet 
clay, and clammy with rain, in late March: Daisy's first child, a boy, 
had been born the day before. Eliza, annoyed at what she considered 
the useless disruption of her holiday, quarrelled bitterly with her daugh- 
ter a day or two after her arrival, and departed for Altamont with the 
declaration, which Daisy ironically applauded, that she would never 
return again. But she did. 

' The following winter she went to New Orleans at the season of the 
Mardi Gras, taking her youngest with her. Eugene remembered the huge 
cisterns for rain-water, in the back yard of Aunt Mary's house, the 
heavy window-rattling thunder of Mary's snores at night, and the vast 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 165 

pageantry of carnival on Canal Street: the storied floats, the smiling 
beauties, the marching troops, the masks grotesque and fantastical. 
And once more he saw ships at anchor at the foot of Canal Street ; and 
their tall keels looked over on the street behind the sea walls; and in 
the cemeteries all the graves were raised above the ground "because," 
said OH, Gant's nephew, "the water rots 'em." 

And he remembered the smells of the French market, the heavy 
fragrance of the coffee he drank there, and the foreign Sunday gaiety 
of the city's life the theatres open, the sound of hammer and saw, the 
gay festivity of crowds. He visited the Boyles, old guests at Dixieland, 
who lived in the old French quarter, sleeping at night with Frank Boyle 
in a vast dark room lighted dimly with tapers: they had as cook an 
ancient negress who spoke only French, and who returned from the 
Market early in the morning bearing a huge basket loaded with vege- 
tables, tropical fruits, fowls, meats. She cooked strange delicious food 
that he had never tasted before heavy gumbo, garnished steaks, sauced 
fowls. 

And he looked upon the huge yellow snake of the river, dreaming 
of its distant shores, the myriad estuaries lush with tropical growth that 
fed it, all the romantic life of plantation and canefields that fringed it, 
of moonlight, of dancing darkies on the levee, of slow lights on the gilded 
river boat, and the perfumed flesh of black-haired women, musical 
wraiths below the phantom drooping trees. 

They had but shortly returned from Mardi Gras when, one howling 
night in winter, as he lay asleep at Gant's, the house was wakened by 
his father's terrible cries. Gant had been drinking heavily, day after 
fearful day. Eugene had been sent in the afternoons to his shop to fetch 
him home, and at sundown, with Jannadeau's aid, had brought him, 
behind the negro's spavined horse, roaring drunk to his house. There 
followed the usual routine of soup-feeding, undressing, and holding him 
in check until Doctor McGuire arrived, thrust his needle deeply into 
Gant's stringy arm, left sleeping-powders, and departed. The girl was 
exhausted; Gant himself had ravaged his strength, and had been brought 
down by two or three painful attacks of rheumatism. 

Now, he awoke in the dark, possessed by his terror and agony, for 




the whole right side of his body was paralyzed by such pain as he did 
not know existed. He cursed and supplicated God alternately in his 
pain and terror. For days doctor and nurse strove with him, hoping 
that the leaping inflammation would not strike at his heart. He was 
gnarled, twisted, and bent with a savage attack of inflammatory rheu- 
matism. As soon as he had recovered sufficiently to travel, he departed, 
under Helen's care, for Hot Springs. Almost savagely, she drove all 
other assistance from him, devoting every minute of the day to his care: 
they were gone six weeks occasionally post-cards and letters describing 
a life of hotels, mineral baths, sickness and lameness, and the port of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 167 

the blooded rich, came to add new colors to Eugene's horizon: when 
they returned Gant was able again to walk, the rheumatism had been 
boiled from his limbs, but his right hand, gnarled and stiff, was perma- 
nently crippled. He was never again able to close it, and there was 
something strangely chastened m his manner, a gleam of awe and terror 
in his eyes. 

But the union between Gant and his daughter was finally consum- 
mated. Before Gant lay, half-presaged, a road of pain and terror which 
led on to death, but as his great strength dwindled, palsied, broke along 
that road, she went with him inch by inch, welding beyond life, beyond 
death, beyond memory, the bond that linked them. 

"I'd have died if it hadn't been for that girl," he said over and 
over. "She saved my life. I couldn't get along without her." And he 
boasted again and again of her devotion and loyalty, of the expenses 
of his journey, of the hotels, the wealth, the life they both had seen. 

And, as the legend of Helen's goodness and devotion grew, and 
his dependence upon her got further advertisement, Eliza pursed her 
lips more and more thoughtfully, wept sometimes into the spitting 
grease of a pan, smiled, beneath her wide red nose, a smile tremulous, 
bitter, terribly hurt. 

"I'll show them," she wept. "I'll show them." And she rubbed 
thoughtfully at a red itching patch that had appeared during the year 
upon the back of her left hand. 

She went to Hot Springs in the winter that followed. They stopped 
at Memphis for a day or two: Steve was at work there in a paint store; 
he slipped quickly in and out of saloons, as he took Eugene about the 
city, leaving the boy outside for a moment while he went "in here to 
see a fellow" a "fellow" who always sent him forth, Eugene thought, 
with an added impetuosity to his swagger. 

Dizzily they crossed the river: at night he saw the small bleared 
shacks of Arkansas set in malarial fields. 

Eliza sent him to one of the public schools of Hot Springs: he 
plunged heavily into the bewildering new world performed brilliantly, 
and won the affection of the young woman who taught him, but paid 
the penalty of the stranger to all the hostile and banded little creatures 



168 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



of the class. Before his first month was out, he had paid desperately for 
his ignorance of their customs. 

Eliza boiled herself out at the baths daily; sometimes, he went 
along with her, leaving her with a sensation of drunken independence, 
while he went into the men's quarter, stripping himself in a cool room, 
entering thence a hot one lined with couches, shutting himself in a steam- 
closet where he felt himself momently dwindling into the raining puddle 
of sweat at his feet, to emerge presently on trembling legs and to be 
rolled and kneaded about magnificently in a huge tub by a powerful 
grinning negro. Later, languorous, but with a feeling of deep punfica- 
cation, he lay out on one of the couches, victoriously his own man in a 
man's world. They talked from couch to couch, or walked pot-belliedly 
about, sashed coyly with bath towels malarial Southerners with mala- 
rial drawls, paunch-eyed alcoholics, purple-skinned gamblers, and 
broken down prizefighters. He liked the smell of steam and of the 
sweaty men. 

Eliza sent him out on the streets at once with The Saturday Evening 
Post. 

"It won't hurt you to do a little light work after school," said she. 
And as he trudged off with his sack slung from his neck, she would 
call after him: 

"Spruce up, boy! Spruce up! Throw your shoulders back. Make 
folks think you're somebody." And she gave him a pocketful of printed 
cards, which bore this inscription: 



SPEND YOUR SUMMERS AT 

DIXIELAND 
In Beautiful Altamont, 
America's Switzerland. 

Rates Reasonable Both Transient and Tourist. 
Apply Eliza E. Gant, Prop. 



"You've got to help me drum up some trade, if we're to live, boy,'* 
she said again, with the lip-pursing, mouth-tremulous jocularity that was 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 169 

coming to wound him so deeply, because he felt it was only an obvious 
mask for a more obvious insincerity. 

He writhed as he saw himself finally a toughened pachyderm in 
Eliza's world sprucing up confidently, throwing his shoulders back 
proudly, making people "think he was somebody" as he cordially 
acknowledged an introduction by producing a card setting forth the 
joys of life in Altamont and at Dixieland, and seized every opening in 
social relations for the purpose of "drumming up trade." He hated the 
jargon of the profession, which she had picked up somewhere long 
before, and which she used constantly with such satisfaction smacking 
her lips as she spoke of "transients," or of "drumming up trade." In 
him, as in Gant, there was a silent horror of selling for money the bread 
of one's table, the shelter of one's walls, to the guest, the stranger, the 
unknown friend from out the world; to the sick, the weary, the lonely, 
the broken, the knave, the harlot, and the fool. 

Thus, lost in the remote Ozarks, he wandered up Central Avenue, 
fringed on both sides by the swift-sloping hills, for him, by the borders 
of enchantment, the immediate portals of a land of timeless and never- 
ending faery. He drank endlessly the water that came smoking from 
the earth, hoping somehow to wash himself clean from all pollution, 
beginning his everlasting fantasy of the miraculous spring, or the bath, 
neck-high, of curative mud, which would draw out of a man's veins 
each drop of corrupted blood, dry up in him a cancerous growth, 
dwindle and absorb a cyst, remove all scorbutic blemishes, scoop and 
suck and thread away the fibrous slime of all disease, leaving him again 
with the perfect flesh of an animal. 

And he gazed for hours into the entrances of the fashionable hotels, 
staring at the ladies' legs upon the verandas, watching the great ones 
of the land at their recreations, thinking, with a pang of wonder, that 
here were the people of Chambers, of Phillips, of all the society novelists, 
leading their godlike lives in flesh, recording their fiction. He was deeply 
reverential before the grand manner of these books, particularly before 
the grand manner of the English books: these people loved, but not as 
other people, elegantly; their speech was subtle, delicate, exquisite; 
even in their passions there was no gross lust or strong appetite they 



170 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

were incapable of the vile thoughts or the meaty desire of Common 
people. As he looked at the comely thighs of the young women on 
horses, fascinated to see their shapely legs split over the strong good 
smell of a horse, he wondered if the warm sinuous vibration of the great 
horse-back excited them, and what their love was like. The preposterous 
elegance of their manner in the books awed him: he saw seduction con- 
summated in kid gloves, to the accompaniment of subtle repartee. Such 
thoughts, when he had them, filled him with shame at his own base- 
ness he imagined for these people a love conducted beyond all the laws 
of nature, achieving the delight of animals or of common men by the 
electrical touch of a finger, the flicker of an eye, the intonation of a 
phrase exquisitely and incorruptibly. 

And as they looked at his remote fabulous face, more strange now 
that its thick fringing curls had been shorn, they bought of him, paying 
him several times his fee, with the lazy penitence of wasters. 

Great fish within the restaurant windows swam in glass wells 
eels coiled snakily, white-bellied trout veered and sank: he dreamed of 
strange rich foods within. 

And sometimes men returned in carriages from the distant river, 
laden with great fish, and he wondered if he would ever see that river. 
All that lay around him, near but unexplored, filled him with desire 
and longing. 

And later, again, along the sandy coast of Florida, with Eliza, he 
wandered down the narrow lanes of Saint Augustine, raced along the 
hard packed beach of Daytona, scoured the green lawns of Palm Beach, 
before the hotels, for cocoanuts, which Eliza desired as souvenirs, filling 
a brown tow sack with them and walking, with the bag hung from his 
shoulders, down the interminable aisles of the Royal Pomciana or the 
Breakers, target of scorn, and scandal, and amusement from slave and 
prince; or traversed the spacious palm-cool walks that cut the penin- 
sula, to see, sprawled in the sensual loose sand the ladies' silken legs, 
the brown lean bodies of the men, the long seaplunges in the unending 
scroll-work of the emerald and infinite sea, which had beat in his brain 
from his father's shells, which had played at his mountain heart, but 
which never, until now, had he seen. Through the spattered sunlight of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 171 

the palms, in the smooth walks, princess and lord were wheeled: in 
latticed bar-rooms, droning with the buzzing fans, men drank from 
glaced tall glasses. 

Or again, they came to Jacksonville, lived there for several weeks 
near Pett and Greeley; he studied under a little crippled man from 
Harvard, going to lunch with his teacher at a buffet, where the man 
consumed beer and pretzels. Eliza protested the tuition when she left: 
the cripple shrugged his shoulders, took what she had to offer. Eugene 
twisted his neck about, and lifted his foot from the ground. 

Thus did he see first, he the hill-bound, the sky-girt, of whom the 
mountains were his masters, the fabulous South. The picture of flashing 
field, of wood, and hill, stayed in his heart forever: lost in the dark land, 
he lay the night-long through within his berth, watching the shadowy 
and phantom South flash by, sleeping at length, and waking suddenly, 
to see cool lakes in Florida at dawn, standing quietly as if they had 
waited from eternity for this meeting; or hearing, as the train in the dark 
hours of morning slid into Savannah, the strange quiet voices of the 
men upon the platform, the boding faint echoes of the station, or seeing, 
m pale dawn, the phantom woods, a rutted lane, a cow, a boy, a drab, 
dull-eyed against a cottage door, glimpsed, at this moment of rushing 
time, for which all life had been aplot, to flash upon the window and 
be gone. 

The commonness of all things in the earth he remembered with a 
strange familiarity he dreamed of the quiet roads, the moonlit wood- 
lands, and he thought that some day he would come to them on foot, 
and find them there unchanged, in all the wonder of recognition. They 
had existed for him anciently and forever. 

Eugene was almost twelve years old. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 




PART TWO 




14 

Ihe plum-tree, black and brittle, rocks stiffly in winter wind. Her 
million little twigs are frozen in spears of ice. But in the Spring, lithe 
and heavy, she will bend under her great load of fruit and blossoms. 
She will grow young again. Red plums will ripen, will be shaken des- 
perately upon the tiny stems. They will fall bursted on the loamy warm 
wet earth; when the wind blows m the orchard the air will be filled 
with dropping plums; the night will be filled with the sound of their 
dropping, and a great tree of birds will sing, burgeoning, blossoming 
richly, filling the air also with warm-throated plum-dropping bird-notes. 

The harsh hill-earth has moistly thawed and softened, rich soaking 
rain falls, fresh-bladed tender grass like soft hair growing sparsely streaks 
the land. 

My Brother Ben's face, thought Eugene, is- like a piece of slightly 
yellow ivory; his high white head is knotted fiercely by his old man's 
scowl; his mouth is like a knife, his smile the flicker of light across a 
blade. His face is like a blade, and a knife, and a flicker of light: it is 
delicate and fierce, and scowls beautifully forever, and when he fastens 
his hard white fingers and his scowling eyes upon a thing he wants to 
fix, he sniffs with sharp and private concentration through his long 

175 



176 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

pointed nose. Thus women, looking, feel a well of tenderness for his 
pointed, bumpy, always scowling face: his hair shines like that of a 
young boy it is crinkled and crisp as lettuce. 

Into the April night-and-morning streets goes Ben. The night is 
brightly pricked with cool and tender stars. The orchard stirs leafily in 
the short fresh wind. Ben prowls softly out of the sleeping house. His 
thin bright face is dark within the orchard. There is a smell of nicotine 
and shoe leather under the young blossoms. His pigeon-toed tan shoes 
ring musically up the empty streets. Lazily slaps the water in the fountain 
on the Square; all the firemen are asleep but Big Bill Mernck, the 
brave cop, hog-jowled and red, leans swinishly over mince-pie and coffee 
in Uneeda Lunch. The warm good ink-smell beats in rich waves into 
the street: a whistling tram howls off into the Springtime South. 

By the cool orchards m the dark the paper-carriers go. The copper 
legs of negresses in their dark dens stir. The creek brawls cleanly. 

A new one, Number 6, heard boys speak of Foxy: 

"Who's Foxy?" asked Number 6. 

"Foxy's a bastard, Number 6. Don't let him catch you." 

"The bastard caught me three times last week. In the Greek's 
every time. Why can't they let us eat?" 

Number 3 thought of Friday morning he had the Niggertown 
route. 

"How many 3?" 

"One hundred and sixty-two." 

"How many Dead Heads you got, son?" said Mr. Randall cyni- 
cally. "Do you ever try to collect from them?" he added, thumbing 
through the book. 

"He takes it out in Poon-Tang," said Foxy, grinning. "A week's 
subscription free for a dose." 

"What you got to say about it?" asked Number 3 belligerently. 
"You've been knocking down on them for six years." 

"Jazz 'em all if you like," said Randall, "but get the money. Ben, 
I want you to go round with him Saturday." 

Ben laughed silently and cynically into the air: 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 177 

- ' "Oh, my God!" he said. "Do you expect me to check up on the 
ittle thug? He's been knocking down on you for the last six months." 

"All right! All right!" said Randall, annoyed. 'That's what I want 
/ou to find out." 

"Oh, for God's sake, Randall," said Ben contemptuously, "he's 
*ot niggers on that book who've been dead for five years. That's what 
/ou get for keeping every little crook that comes along." 

"If you don't get a move on, 3, I'll give your route to another 
3oy," said Randall. 

"Hell, get another boy. I don't care," said Number 3, toughly. 

"Oh, for God's sake' Listen to this, won't you?" said Ben, laughing 
Jiinly and nodding to his angel, indicating Number 3 with a scowling 
jerk of his head. 

"Yes, listen to this, won't you! That's what I said," Number 3 
answered pugnaciously. 

"All right, little boy. Run on and deliver your papers now, before 
you get hurt," said Ben, turning his scowl quietly upon him and looking 
at him blackly for a moment. "Ah, you little crook," he said with 
profound loathing, "I have a kid brother who's worth six like you." 

Spring lay strewn lightly like a fragrant gauzy scarf upon the earth; 
the night was a cool bowl of lilac darkness, filled with fresh orchard 
scents. 

Gant slept heavily, rattling the loose window-sash with deep rasping 
mores; with short explosive thunders, ripping the lilac night, 36 began 
to climb Saluda. She bucked helplessly like a goat, her wheels spun 
furiously on the rails, Tom Clme stared seriously down into the milky 
boiling creek, and waited. She slipped, spun, held, ploughed slowly up, 
like a straining mule, into the dark. Content, he leaned far out the cab 
and looked: the starlight glimmered faintly on the rails. He ate a thick 
sandwich of cold buttered fried meat, tearing it raggedly and glueily 
staining it under his big black fingers. There was a smell of dogwood and 
laurel in the cool slow passage of the world. The cars clanked humpily 
across the spur; the switchman, bathed murkily in the hot yellow light 
of his perilous bank-edged hut, stood sullen at the switch. 



178 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Arms spread upon his cab-sill, chewing thoughtfully, Tom, goggle- 
eyed, looked carefully down at him. They had never spoken. Then in 
silence he turned and took the milk-bottle, half full of cold coffee, that 
his fireman offered him. He washed his food down with the large easy 
gurgling swallows of a bishop. 

At 18 Valley Street, the red shack-porch, slime-scummed with a 
greasy salve of yellow negroid mud, quaked rottenly. Number 3's 
square-folded ink-fresh paper struck flat against the door, falling on its 
edge stiffly to the porch like a block of light wood. Within, May Cor- 
penmg stirred nakedly, muttering as if doped and moving her heavy 
copper legs, in the fetid bed-warmth, with the slow noise of silk. 

Harry Tugman lit a Camel, drawing the smoke deep into his power- 
ful ink-stained lungs as he watched the press run down. His bare arms 
were heavy-muscled as his presses. He dropped comfortably into his 
pliant creaking chair and tilted back, casually scanning the warm pun- 
gent sheet. Luxurious smoke steamed slowly from his nostrils. He cast 
the sheet away. 

"Christ!" he said. "What a makeup !" 

Ben came down stairs, moody, scowling, and humped over toward 
the ice-box. 

"For God's sake, Mac," he called out irritably to the Make-up 
Man, as he scowled under the lifted lid, "don't you ever keep anything 
except root-beer and sour milk?" 

"What do you want, for Christ's sake?" 

"I'd like to get a Coca-Cola once in a while. You know," he said 
bitingly, "Old Man Candler down in Atlanta is still making it." 

Harry Tugman cast his cigarette away. 

"They haven't got the news up here yet, Ben," said he. "You'll 
have to wait till the excitement over Lee's surrender has died down. 
Come on," he said abruptly, getting up, "let's go over to the Greasy 
Spoon." 

He thrust his big head down into the deep well of the sink, letting 
the lukewarm water sluice refreshingly over his broad neck and blue- 
white sallow night-time face, strong, tough, and humorous. He soaped 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 179 

his hands with thick slathering suds, his muscles twisting slowly like 
big snakes. 

He sang in his powerful quartette baritone: 

"Beware! Beware! Beware! 
Many brave hearts lie asleep in the deep, 
So beware! Bee- ware'" 

Comfortably they rested in the warm completed exhaustion of the 
quiet press-room: upstairs the offices, bathed in green-yellow light, 
sprawled like men relaxed after work. The boys had gone to their routes. 
The place seemed to breathe slowly and wearily. The dawn-sweet air 
washed coolly over their faces. The sky was faintly pearled at the horizon. 

Strangely, in sharp broken fragments, life awoke in the lilac dark- 
ness. Clop-clopping slowly on the ringing street, Number Six, Mrs. 
Goulderbilt's powerful brown mare, drew inevitably on the bottle- 
clinking cream-yellow wagon, racked to the top with creamy extra- 
heavy high-priced milk. The driver was a fresh-skinned young country- 
man, richly odorous with the smell of fresh sweat and milk. Eight miles, 
through the starlit dewy fields and forests of Biltburn, under the high 
brick English lodgegate, they had come into the town. 

At the Pisgah Hotel, opposite the station, the last door clicked 
softly; the stealthy footfalls of the night ceased; Miss Bernice Redmond 
gave the negro porter eight one-dollar bills and went definitely to bed 
with the request that she be not disturbed until one o'clock; a shifting 
engine slatted noisily about in the yard; past the Biltburn crossing Tom 
Cline whistled with even, mournful respirations. By this time Number 3 
had delivered 142 of his papers; he had only to ascend the rickety 
wooden stairs of the Eagle Crescent bank to finish the eight houses of 
the Crescent. He looked anxiously across the hill-and-dale-sprawled 
negro settlement to the eastern rim: behind Birdseye Gap the sky was 
pearl-gray the stars looked drowned. Not much time left, he thought. 
He had a blond meaty face, pale-colored and covered thickly with young 



180 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

blond hair. His jaw was long and fleshy: it sloped backward. He ran 
his tongue along his full cracked underlip. 

A 1910 model, four-cylinder, seven-passenger Hudson, with mount- 
ing steady roar, shot drunkenly out from the station curbing, lurched 
into the level negro-sleeping stretch of South End Avenue, where the 
firemen had their tournaments, and zipped townward doing almost 
fifty. The station quietly stirred in its sleep: there were faint reverber- 
ating noises under the empty sheds; brisk hammer-taps upon car wheels, 
metallic heel-clicks in the tiled waiting-room. Sleepily a negress slopped 
water on the tiles, with languid sullen movement pushing a gray sopping 
rag around the floor. 



It was now five-thirty. Ben had gone out of the house into the 
orchard at three twenty-five. In another forty minutes Gant would 
waken, dress, and build the morning fires. 

"Ben," said Harry Tugman, as they walked out of the relaxed 
office, "if Jimmy Dean comes messing around my press-room again they 
can get some one else to print their lousy sheet. What the hell! I can 
get a job on the Atlanta Constitution whenever I want it." 

"Did he come down to-night?" asked Ben. 

"Yes," said Harry Tugman, "and he got out again. I told him to 
take his little tail upstairs." 

"Oh, for God's sake!" said Ben. "What did he say?" 

"He said, 7'm the editor! I'm the editor of this paper!' 'I don't 
give a good goddam,' I said, 'If you're the President's snotrag. If you 
want any paper to-day keep out of the press-room.' And believe me, he 
went!" 

In cool blue-pearl darkness they rounded the end of the Post Office 
and cut diagonally across the street to Uneeda Lunch No. 3. It was a 
small beanery, twelve feet wide, wedged in between an optician's and 
a Greek shoe parlor. 

Within, Dr. Hugh McGuire sat on a stool patiently impaling kidney 
beans, one at a time, upon the prongs of his fork. A strong odor of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 181 

corn whisky soaked the air about him. His thick skilful butcher's hands, 
hairy on the backs, gripped the fork numbly. His heavy-jowled face was 
blotted by large brown patches. He turned round and stared owlishly 
as Ben entered, fixing the wavering glare of his bulbous red eyes finally 
upon him. 

"Hello, son," he said in his barking kindly voice, "what can I do 
for you?" 

"Oh, for God's sake," said Ben laughing contemptuously, and jerk- 
ing his head toward Tugman. "Listen to this, won't you?" 

They sat down at the lower end. At this moment, Horse Hines, the 
undertaker, entered, producing, although he was not a thin man, the 
effect of a skeleton clad in a black frock coat. His long lantern mouth 
split horsily in a professional smile displaying big horse teeth in his white 
heavily starched face. 

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," he said for no apparent reason, rubbing 
his lean hands briskly as if it was cold. His palm-flesh rattled together 
like old bones. 

Coker, the Lung Shark, who had not ceased to regard McGuire's 
bean-hunt with sardonic interest, now took the long cigar out of his 
devil's head and held it between his stained fingers as he tapped his 
companion. 

"Let's get out," he grinned quietly, nodding toward Horse Hines. 
"It will look bad if we're seen together here." 

"Good morning, Ben," said Horse Hines, sitting down below him. 
"Are all the folks well?" he added, softly. 

Sideways Ben looked at him scowling, then jerked his head back to 
the counterman, with a fast bitter flicker of his lips. 

"Doctor," said Harry Tugman with servile medicine-man respect, 
"what do you charge to operate?" 

"Operate what?" McGuire barked presently, having pronged a 
kidney bean. 

"Why appendicitis," said Harry Tugman, for it was all he could 
think of. 

"Three hundred dollars when we go into the belly," said McGuire. 
He coughed chockingly to the side. 



182 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"You're drowning in your own secretions," said Coker with his 
yellow grin. "Like Old Lady Sladen." 

"My God!" said Harry Tugman, thinking jealously of lost news. 
"When did she go?" 

"To-night," said Coker. 

"God, I'm sorry to hear that," said Harry Tugman, greatly relieved. 

"I've just finished laying the old lady out," said Horse Hines gently. 
"A bundle of skin and bones." He sighed regretfully, and for a moment 
his boiled eye moistened. 

Ben turned his scowling head around with an expression of nausea. 

"Joe," said Horse Hines with merry professionalism, "give me a 
mug of that embalming fluid." He thrust his horsehead indicatively at 
the coffee urn. 

"Oh, for God's sake," Ben muttered in terms of loathing. "Do 
you ever wash your damned hands before you come in here?" he burst 
out irritably. 

Ben was twenty. Men did not think of his age. 

"Would you like some cold pork, son?" said Coker, with his 
yellow malicious grin. 

Ben made a retching noise in his throat, and put his hand upon 
his stomach. 

"What's the matter, Ben?" Harry Tugman laughed heavily and 
struck him on the back. 

Ben got off the stool, took his coffee mug and the piece of tanned 
mince pie he had ordered, and moved to the other side of Harry Tugman. 
Every one laughed. Then he jerked his head toward McGuire with a 
quick frown. 

"By God, Tug," he said. "They've got us cornered." 

"Listen to him," said McGuire to Coker. "A chip off the old block, 
isn't he. I brought that boy into the world, saw him through typhoid, 
got the old man over seven hundred drunks, and I've been called eighteen 
different kinds of son of a bitch for my pains ever since. But let one of 
'em get a belly ache," he added proudly, "and you'll see how quick they 
come running to me. Isn't that right, Ben?" he said, turning to him. 

"Oh, listen to this!" said Ben, laughing irritably and burying his 
peaked face in his coffee mug. His bitter savor filled the place with life, 
with tenderness, with beauty. They looked on him with drunken, kindly 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 183 

eyes at his gray scornful face and the lonely demon flicker of his smile. 

"And I tell you something else," said McGuire, ponderously wheel- 
ing around on Coker, "if one of them's got to be cut open, see who gets 
the job. What about it, Ben?" he asked. 

"By God, if you ever cut me open, McGuire," said Ben, "I'm 
going to be damned sure you can walk straight before you do." 

"Come on, Hugh," said Coker, prodding McGuire under his 
shoulder. "Stop chasing those beans around the plate. Crawl ofT or 
fall off that damned stool I don't care which." 

McGuire, drunkenly lost in revery, stared witlessly down at his 
bean plate and sighed. 

"Come on, you damned fool," said Coker, getting up, "you've 
got to operate in forty-five minutes." 

"Oh, for God's sake," said Ben, lifting his face from the stained 
mug, "who's the victim? I'll send flowers." 

". . . all of us sooner or later," McGuire mumbled puffily through 
his puff-lips. "Rich and poor alike. Here to-day and gone to-morrow. 
Doesn't matter . . . doesn't matter at all." 

"In heaven's name," Ben burst out irritably to Coker. "Are you 
going to let him operate like that? Why don't you shoot them instead? 

Coker plucked the cigar from his long malarial grinning face: 

"Why, he's just getting hot, son," said he. 

Nacreous pearl light swam faintly about the hem of the lilac dark- 
ness; the edges of light and darkness were stitched upon the hills. 
Morning moved like a pearl-gray tide across the fields and up the hill- 
flanks, flowing rapidly down into the soluble dark. 

At the curb now, young Dr. Jefferson Spaugh brought his Buick 
roadster to a halt, and got out, foppishly drawing off his gloves and 
flicking the silk lapels of his dinner jacket. His face, whisky-red, was 
highboned and handsome; his mouth was straightlipped, cruel, and 
sensual. An inherited aura of mountain-cornfield sweat hung scentlessly 
but telepathically about him; he was a smartened-up mountaineer with 
country-club and University of Pennsylvania glossings. Four years in 
Philly change a man. 

Thrusting his gloves carelessly into his coat, he entered. McGuire 



184 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

slid bearishly off his stool and gazed him into focus. Then he made 
beckoning round-arm gestures with his fat hands. 

"Look at it, will you," he said. "Does any one know what it is?" 

"It's Percy," said Coker. "You know Percy Van der Gould, don't 
you?" 

"I've been dancing all night at the Hilliards," said Spaugh ele- 
gantly. "Damn! These new patent-leather pumps have ruined my feet." 
He sat upon a stool, and elegantly displayed his large country feet, 
indecently broad and angular in the shoes. 

"What's he been doing?" said McGuire doubtfully, turning to 
Coker for enlightenment. 

"He's been dancing all night at the Hilliards," said Coker in a 
mincing voice. 

McGuire shielded his bloated face coyly with his hand. 

"O crush me!" he said, "I'm a grape! Dancing at the Hilliards, 
were you, you damned Mountain Grill. You've been on a Poon-Tang 
Picnic in Niggertown. You can't load that bunk on us." 

Bull-lunged, their laughter filled the nacreous dawn. 

"Patent-leather pumps!" said McGuire. "Hurt his feet. By God, 
Coker, the first time he came to town ten years ago he'd never been 
curried above the knees. They had to throw him down to put shoes on 
him." 

Ben laughed thinly to the Angel. 

"A couple of slices of buttered toast, if you please, not too brown," 
said Spaugh delicately to the counterman. 

"A mess of hog chitlings and sorghum, you mean, you bastard. 
You were brought up on salt pork and cornbread." 

"We're getting too low and coarse for him, Hugh," said Coker, 
"Now that he's got drunk with some of the best families, he's in great 
demand socially. He's so highly thought of that he's become the official 
midwife to all pregnant virgins." 

"Yes," said McGuire, "he's their friend. He helps them out. He 
not only helps them out, he helps them in again." 

"What's wrong with that?" said Spaugh. "We ought to keep it in 
the family, oughtn't we?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 185 

Their laughter howled out into the tender dawn. 

"This conversation is getting too rough for me," said Horse Hines 
banteringly as he got off his stool. 

"Shake hands with Coker before you go, Horse," said McGuire. 
"He's the best friend you've ever had. You ought to give him royalties." 

The light that filled the world now was soft and otherworldly like 
the light that fills the sea-floors of Catalina where the great fish swim. 
Flat-footedly, with kidney-aching back, Patrolman Leslie Roberts all 
unbuttoned slouched through the submarine pearl light and paused, 
gently agitating his club behind him, as he turned his hollow liverish 
face toward the open door. 

"Here's your patient," said Coker softly, "the Constipated Cop." 

Aloud, with great cordiality, they all said: "How are you, Les?" 

"Oh, tolable, tolable," said the policeman mournfully. As draggled 
as his mustaches, he passed on, hocking into the gutter a slimy gob of 
phlegm. 

"Well, good morning, gentlemen," said Horse Hines, making to go. 

"Remember what I told you, Horse. Be good to Coker, your best 
friend." McGuire jerked a thumb toward Coker. 

Beneath his thin joviality Horse Hines was hurt. 

"I do remember," said the undertaker gravely. "We are both 
members of honorable professions: in the hour of death when the 
storm-tossed ship puts into its haven of rest, we are the trustees of the 
Almighty." 

"Why, Horse!" Coker exclaimed, "this is eloquence!" 

"The sacred rites of closing the eyes, of composing the limbs, and 
of preparing for burial the lifeless repository of the departed soul is 
our holy mission; it is for us, the living, to pour balm upon the broken 
heart of Grief, to soothe the widow's ache, to brush away the orphan's 
tears; it is for us, the living, to highly resolve that " 

" Government of the people, for the people, and by the people," 
said Hugh McGuire. 

"Yes, Horse," said Coker, "you are right. I'm touched. And what's 
more, we do it all for nothing. At least," he added virtuously, "I never 
charge for soothing the widow's ache." 



186 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"What about embalming the broken heart of Grief?" asked 
McGuire. 

"I said balm" Horse Hines remarked coldly. 

"Say, Horse," said Harry Tugman, who had listened with great 
interest, "didn't you make a speech with all that in it last summer at 
the Undertakers' Convention?" 

"What's true then is true now," said Horse Hines bitterly, as he left 
the place. 

"Jesus!" said Harry Tugman, "we've got him good and sore. I 
thought I'd bust a gut, doc, when you pulled that one about embalming 
the broken heart of Grief." 

At this moment Dr. Ravenel brought his Hudson to a halt across 
the street before the Post Office, and walked over rapidly, drawing his 
gauntlets off. He was bareheaded; his silver aristocratic hair was thinly 
rumpled; his surgical gray eyes probed restlessly below the thick lenses 
of his spectacles. He had a famous, calm, deeply concerned face, shaven, 
ashen, lean, lit gravely now and then by humor. 

"Oh Christ!" said Coker. "Here conies Teacher!" 

"Good morning, Hugh," he said as he entered. "Are you going 
into training again for the bughouse?" 

"Look who's here!" McGuire roared hospitably. "Dead-eye Dick, 
the literary sawbones, whose private collection of gallstones is the finest 
in the world. When d jew get back, son?" 

"Just in time, it seems," said Ravenel, holding a cigarette cleanly 
between his long surgical fingers. He looked at his watch. "I believe 
you have a little engagement at the Ravenel hospital in about half an 
hour. Is that right?" 

"By God, Dick, you're always right," McGuire yelled enthusias- 
tically. "What'd you tell 'em up there, boy?" 

"I told them," said Dick Ravenel, whose affection was like a flower 
that grew behind a wall, "that the best surgeon in America when he 
was sober was a lousy bum named Hugh McGuire who was always 
drunk." 

"Now wait, wait. Hold on a minute!" said McGuire, holding up 
his thick hand. "I protest, Dick. You meant well, son, but you got 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 187 

that mixed up. You mean the best surgeon in America when he's not 
sober." 

"Did you read one of your papers?" said Coker. 

"Yes," said Dick Ravenel. "I read one on carcinoma of the liver." 

"How about one on pyorrhea of the toe-nails?" said McGuire. 
"Did you read that one?" 

Harry Tugman laughed heavily, not wholly knowing why. McGuire 
belched into the silence loudly and was witlessly adrift for a moment. 

"Literature, literature, Dick," he returned portentously. "It's been 
the ruin of many a good surgeon. You read too much, Dick. Yon 
Cassius hath a lean and hungry look. You know too much. The letter 
killeth the spirit, you know. Me Dick, did you ever know me to take 
anything out that I didn't put back? Anyway, don't I always leave 'em 
something to go on with? I'm no scholar, Dick. I've never had your 
advantages. I'm a self-made butcher. I'm a carpenter, Dick. I'm an 
interior decorator. I'm a mechanic, a plumber, an electrician, a butcher, 
a tailor, a jeweller. I'm a jewel, a gem, a diamond in the rough, Dick. 
I'm a practical man. I take out their works, spit upon them, trim off 
the dirty edges, and send them on their way again. I economize, Dick; 
I throw away everything I can't use, and use everything I throw away. 
Who made the Pope a tailbone from his knuckle? Who made the dog 
howl? Aha that's why the governor looks so young. We are filled up 
with useless machinery, Dick. Efficiency, economy, power' Have you 
a Little Fairy in your Home? You haven't! Then let the Gold Dust 
Twins do the work! Ask Ben he knows!" 

"O my God!" laughed Ben thinly, "listen to that, won't you?" 

Two doors below, directly before the Post Office, Pete Mascari 
rolled upward with corrugated thunder the shutters of his fruit shop. 
The pearl light fell coolly upon the fruity architecture, on the pyramided 
masonry of spit-bright wmesaps, the thin sharp yellow of the Florida 
oranges, the purple Tokays, sawdust-bedded. There was a stale fruity 
odor from the shop of ripening bananas, crated apples, and the acrid 
tang of powder; the windows were filled with Roman candles, crossed 
rockets, pinwheels, squat green Happy Hooligans, and mutilating Jack 
Johnsons, red cannoncrackers, and tiny acrid packets of crackling spat- 



188 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

tering firecrackers. Light fell a moment on the ashen corpsiness of his 
face and on the liquid Sicilian poison of his eyes. 

"Don' pincha da grape. Pinch da banan'!" 

A street-car, toy-green with new Spring paint, went squareward. 

"Dick," said McGuire more soberly, "take the job, if you like." 

Ravenel shook his head. 

"I'll stand by," said he. "I won't operate. I'm afraid of one like 
this. It's your job, drunk or sober." 

"Removing a tumor from a woman, ain't you?" said Coker. 

"No," said Dick Ravenel, "removing a woman from a tumor." 

"Betyouit weighs fifty pounds, if itweighs anounce/'said McGuire 
with sudden professional interest. 

Dick Ravenel winced ever so slightly. A cool spurt of young wind, 
clean as a kid, flowed by him. McGuire's meaty shoulders recoiled 
burlily as if from the cold shock of water. He seemed to waken. 

"I'd like a bath," he said to Dick Ravenel, "and a shave." He 
rubbed his hand across his blotched hairy face. 

"You can use my room, Hugh, at the hotel," said Jeff Spaugh, 
looking at Ravenel somewhat eagerly. 

"I'll use the hospital," he said. 

"You'll just have time," said Ravenel. 

"In God's name, let's get a start on," he cried impatiently. 

"Did you see Kelly do this one at Hopkins?" asked McGuire. 

"Yes," said Dick Ravenel, "after a very long prayer. That's to give 
power to his elbow. The patient died." 

"Damn the prayers!" said McGuire. "They won't do much good 
to this one. She called me a low-down hckered-up whisky-drinking bas- 
tard last night: if she still feels like that she'll get well." 

"These mountain women take a lot of killing," said Jeff Spaugh 
sagely. 

"Do you want to come along?" McGuire asked Coker. 

"No, thanks. I'm getting some sleep," he answered. "The old girl 
took a hell of a time. I thought she'd never get through dying." 

They started to go. 

"Ben," said McGuire, with a return to his former manner, "tell 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 189 

the Old Man I'll beat hell out of him if he doesn't give Helen a rest. Is 
he staying sober?" 

"In heaven's name, McGuire, how should I know?" Ben burst out 
irritably. "Do you think that's all I've got to do watching your hcker- 
heads?" 

"That's a great girl, boy," said McGuire sentimentally. "One in a 
million." 

"Hugh, for God's sake, come on," cried Dick Ravenel. 

The four medical men went out into the pearl light. The town 
emerged from the lilac darkness with a washed renascent cleanliness. 
All the world seemed as young as Spring. McGuire walked across to 
Ravenel's car, and sank comfortably with a sense of invigoration into 
the cool leathers. Jeff Spaugh plunged off violently with a ripping 
explosion of his engine and a cavalier wave of his hand. 

Admiringly Harry Tugman's face turned to the slumped burly 
figure of Hugh McGuire. 

"By God 1 " he boasted, "I bet he does the damnedest piece of 
operating you ever heard of." 

"Why, hell," said the counterman loyally, "he ain't worth a damn 
until he's got a quart of corn licker under his belt. Give him a few 
drinks and he'll cut off your damned head and put it on again without 
your knowing it." 

As Jeff Spaugh roared off Harry Tugman said jealously: "Look at 
that bastard. Mr. Vanderbilt. He thinks he's hell, don't he? A big pile 
of bull. Ben, do you reckon he was really out at the Hilhards to-night?" 

"Oh for God's sake," said Ben irritably, "how the hell should I 
know! What difference does it make?" he added furiously. 

"I guess Little Maudie will fill up the column to-morrow with some 
of her crap," said Harry Tugman. " The Younger Set,' she calls it! 
Christ! It goes all the way from every little bitch old enough to wear 
drawers, to Old Man Redmond. If Saul Gudger belongs to the Younger 
Set, Ben, you and I are still in the third grade. Why, hell, yes," he said 
with an air of conviction to the grinning counterman, "he was bald as a 
pig's knuckle when the Spanish American War broke out." 

The counterman laughed. 



190 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Foaming with brilliant slapdash improvisation Harry Tugman 
declaimed: 

"Members of the Younger Set were charmingly entertained last 
night at a dinner dance given at Snotwood, the beautiful residence of 
Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Firkins, in honor of their youngest daughter, 
Gladys, who made her debutt this season. Mr. and Mrs. Firkins, accom- 
panied by their daughter, greeted each of the arriving guests at the 
threshhold in a manner reviving the finest old traditions of Southern 
aristocracy, while Mrs. Firkins' accomplished sister, Miss Catherine 
Hipkiss, affectionately known to members of the local younger set as 
Roaring Kate, supervised the checking of overcoats, evening wraps, 
jock-straps, and jewelry. 

"Dinner was served promptly at eight o'clock, followed by coffee 
and Pluto Water at eight forty-five. A delicious nine-course collation 
had been prepared by Artaxerxes Papadopolos, the well-known confec- 
tioner and caterer, and proprietor of the Bijou Cafe for Ladies and 
Gents. 

"After first-aid and a thorough medical examination by Dr. Jeffer- 
son Reginald Alfonso Spaugh, the popular gm-ecologist, the guests 
adjourned to the Ball Room where dance music was provided by Zeke 
Buckner's Upper Hominy Stringed Quartette, Mr. Buckner himself 
officiating at the trap drum and tambourine. 

"Among those dancing were the Misses Aline Titsworth, Lena 
Ginster, Ophelia Legg, Gladys Firkins, Beatrice Slutsky, Mary White- 
sides, Helen Shockett, and Lofta Barnes. 

"Also the Messrs. I. C. Bottom, U. B. Freely, R. U. Reddy, O. I. 
Lovett, Cummings Strong, Sansom Horney, Preston Updyke, Dows 
Wicket, Pettigrew Biggs, Otis Goode, and J. Broad Stern." 

Ben laughed noiselessly, and bent his pointed face into the mug 
again. Then, he stretched his thin arms out, extending his body sensually 
upward, and forcing out in a wide yawn the night-time accumulation 
of weariness, boredom, and disgust. 

"Oh-h-h-hmyGod!" 

Virginal sunlight crept into the street in young moteless shafts. 







At this moment Gant awoke. 

He lay quietly on his back for a moment in the pleasant yellow- 
shaded dusk of the sitting-room, listening to the rippling flutmess of the 
live piping birdy morning. He yawned cavernously and thrust his right 
hand scratching into the dense hairthicket of his breast. 

The fast cackle-cluck of sensual hens. Come and rob us. All through 
the night for you, master. Rich protesting yielding voices of Jewesses. 
Do it, don't it. Break an egg in them. 

Sleepless, straight, alert, the counterpane moulded over his gaunt 
legs, he listened to the protesting invitations of the hens. 

From the warm dust, shaking their fat feathered bodies, protesting 
but satisfied they staggered up. For me. The earth too and the vine. 
The moist new earth cleaving like cut pork from the plough. Or like 
water from a ship. The spongy sod spaded cleanly and rolled back like 
flesh. Or the earth loosened and hoed gently around the roots of the 
cherry trees. The earth receives my seed. For me the great lettuces. 
Spongy and full of sap now like a woman. The thick grapevine in 
August the heavy clustered grapes How there? Like milk from a 
breast. Or blood through a vein. Fattens and plumps them. 

All through the night the blossoms dropping. Soon now the White 
Wax. Green apples end of May. Isaacs' June Apple hangs half on my 
side. Bacon and fried green apples. 



192 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

With sharp whetted hunger he thought of breakfast. He threw the 
sheet back cleanly, swung in an orbit to a sitting position and put his 
white somewhat phthisic feet on the floor. Standing up tenderly, he 
walked over to his leather rocker and put on a pair of clean white-footed 
socks. Then he pulled his nightgown over his head, looking for a 
moment in the dresser mirror at his great boned structure, the long 
stringy muscles of his arms, and his flat-meated hairy chest. His stomach 
sagged paunchily. He thrust his white flaccid calves quickly through 
the shrunken legs of a union suit, stretched it out elasticly with a com- 
fortable widening of his shoulders and buttoned it. Then he stepped into 
his roomy sculpturally heavy trousers and drew on his soft-leathered 
laceless shoes. Crossing his suspender braces over his shoulders, he 
strode into the kitchen and had a brisk fire of oil and pine snapping in 
the range within three minutes. He was stimulated and alive in all the 
fresh wakefulness of the Spring morning. 

Through Birdseye Gap, in the dewy richness of Lunn's Cove, Judge 
Webster Tayloe, the eminent, prosperous, and aristocratic corporation 
counsel (retired, but occasional consultations), rose in the rich walnut 
twilight of his bedchamber, noted approvingly, through the black lenses 
of the glasses that gave his long, subtle, and contemptuous face its final 
advantage over the rabble, that one of his country bumpkins was coming 
from the third pasture with a slopping pail of new milk, another was 
sharpening a scythe in the young glint of the sun, and another, emu- 
lating his more intelligent fellow, the horse, was backing a buggy slowly 
under the carriage shed. 

Approvingly he watched his young mulatto son come over the lawn 
with lazy cat-speed, noting with satisfaction the grace and quickness of 
his movements, the slender barrel strength of his torso, his smallboned 
resiliency. Also the well-shaped intelligent head, the eager black eyes, 
the sensitive oval face, and the beautiful coprous olive of the skin. He 
was very like a better-class Spaniard. Quod potui perfeci. By this fusion, 
perhaps, men like men. 

By the river the reed-pipes, the muse's temple, the sacred wood 
again. Why not? As in this cove. I, too, have lived in Arcady. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 193 

He took off his glasses for a moment and looked at the ptotic 
malevolence of his left eye, and the large harlequmesque wart in the 
cheek below it. The black glasses gave the suggestion that he was half- 
masked; they added a touch of unsearchable mystery to the subtle, 
sensual and disquieting intelligence of his face. His negro man appeared 
at this moment and told him his bath was ready. He drew the long thin 
nightgown over his freckled Fitzsimmons body and stepped vigorously 
into tepid water. Then for ten minutes he was sponged, scraped, and 
kneaded, upon a long table by the powerful plastic hands of the negro. 
He dressed in fresh laundered underwear and newly pressed clothes of 
black. He tied a black string carelessly below the wide belt of starched 
collar and buttoned across his straight long figure a frock coat that 
reached his knees. He took a cigarette from a box on his table and 
lighted it. 

Bouncing tinnily down the coiling road that came through the Gap 
from the town, a flivver glinted momently through the trees. Two men 
were in it. His face hardened against it, he watched it go by his gates 
on the road with a scuffle of dust. Dimly he saw their lewd red moun- 
tain faces, and completed the image with sweat and corduroy. And m 
the town their city cousins. Brick, stucco, the white little eczema of 
Suburbia. Federated Half-Breeds of the World. 

Into my valley next with lawnmowers and front lawns. He ground 
out the life of the cigarette against an ashtray, and began a rapid window 
calculation of his horses, asses, kme, swine, and hens; the stored pleni- 
tude of his great barn, the heavy fruitage of his fields and orchards. A 
man came toward the house with a bucket of eggs in one hand and a 
bucket of butter in the other; each cake was stamped with a sheaf of 
wheat and wrapped loosely in clean white linen cloths. He smiled 
grimly: if attacked he could withstand a prolonged siege. 

At Dixieland, Eliza slept soundly in a small dark room with a 
window opening on the uncertain light of the back porch. Her chamber 
was festooned with a pendant wilderness of cord and string; stacks of 
old newspapers and magazines were piled in the corners; and every 
shelf was loaded with gummed, labelled, half-filled medicine bottles. 



194 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

There was a smell in the air of mentholatum, Vick's Pneumonia Cure, 
and sweet glycerine. The negress arrived, coming under the built-up 
house and climbing lazily the steep tunnel of back steps. She knocked 
at the door. 

"Who's there!" cried Eliza sharply, waking at once, and coming 
forward to the door. She wore a gray flannel nightgown over a heavy 
woollen undershirt that Ben had discarded : the pendant string floated 
gently to and fro as she opened the door, like some strange seamoss 
floating below the sea. Upstairs, in the small front room with the 
sleeping-porch, slept Miss Billie Edwards, twenty-four, of Missouri, the 
daring and masterful liontamer of Johnny L. Jones Combined Shows, 
then playing in the field on the hill behind the Plum Street School. 
Next to her, in the large airy room at the corner, Mrs. Marie Pert, forty- 
one, the wife of an itinerant and usually absent drug salesman, lay deep 
in the pit of alcoholic slumber. Upon each end of the mantel was a small 
snapshot in a silver frame one of her absent daughter, Louise, eighteen, 
and one of Benjamin Gant, lying on the grass-bank in front of the house, 
propped on his elbow and wearing a wide straw hat that shaded all his 
face except his mouth. Also, in other chambers, front and back, Mr. 
Conway Richards, candy-wheel concessionaire with the Johnny L. Jones 
Combined Shows, Miss Lily Mangum, twenty-six, trained nurse, Mr. 
William H. Baskett, fifty-three, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, cotton 
grower, banker, and sufferer from malaria, and his wife; in the large 
room at the head of the stairs Miss Annie Mitchell, nineteen, of Valdosta, 
Georgia, Miss Thelma Cheshire, twenty-one, of Florence, South Car- 
olina, and Mrs. Rose Levin, twenty-eight, of Chicago, Illinois, all mem- 
bers of the chorus of "Molasses" Evans and His Broadway Beauties, 
booked out of Atlanta, Georgia, by the Piedmont Amusement Agency. 

"O G-hirls! The Duke of Gorgonzola and the Count of Limburger 
are on their way here now. I want all you girls to be nice to them and 
to show them a good time when they arrive." 

"You bet we will." 

"And keep your eye on the little one he's the one with all the 
money." 

"I'll say we will. Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah!" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 195 

"We are the girls that have the fun, 
We're snappy and happy every one; 
We're jolly and gay 
And ready to play, 
And that is why we say-ee " 

Behind a bill-plastered fence-boarding on upper Valley Street, oppo- 
site the Y. M. I. (colored), and in the very heart of the crowded amuse- 
ment and commercial centre of Altamont's colored population, Moses 
Andrews, twenty-six, colored, slept the last great sleep of white and 
black. His pockets, which only the night before had been full of the 
money Saul Stein, the pawnbroker, had given him in exchange for cer- 
tain articles which he had taken from the home of Mr. George Rollins, 
the attorney (as an 18-carat Waltham gold watch with a heavy chain 
of twined gold, the diamond engagement ring of Mrs. Rollins, three 
pairs of the finest silk stockings, and two pairs of gentlemen's under- 
drawers), were now empty, a half-filled bottle of Cloverleaf Bonded 
Kentucky Rye, with which he had retired behind the boards to slumber, 
lay unmolested in the flaccid grip of his left hand, and his broad black 
throat gaped cleanly open from ear to ear, as a result of the skilled 
razor-work of his hated and hating rival, Jefferson Flack, twenty-eight, 
who now lay peacefully, unsuspected and unsought, with their mutual 
mistress, Miss Molly Fiske, in her apartment on east Pine Street. Moses 
had been murdered in moonlight. 

A starved cat walked softly along by the boards on Upper Valley: 
as the courthouse bell boomed out its solid six strokes, eight negro 
laborers, the bottoms of their overalls stiff with agglutinated cement, 
tramped by like a single animal, in a wedge, each carrying his lunch in 
a small lard bucket. 

Meanwhile, the following events occurred simultaneously through- 
out the neighborhood: 

Dr. H. M. McRae, fifty-eight, minister of the First Presbyterian 
Church, having washed his lean Scotch body, arrayed himself in stiff 
black and a boiled white shirt, and shaved his spare clean un-aging face, 
descended from his chamber in his residence on Cumberland Avenue, 



196 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

to his breakfast of oatmeal, dry toast, and boiled milk. His heart was 
pure, his mind upright, his faith and his life like a clean board scrubbed 
with sandstone. He prayed in thirty-minute prayers without imperti- 
nence for all men and the success of all good ventures. He was a white 
unwasting flame that shone through love and death; his speech rang out 
like steel with a steady passion. 

In Dr. Frank Engel's Sanitarium and Turkish Bath Establishment 
on Liberty Street, Mr. J. H. Brown, wealthy sportsman and publisher 
of the Altamont Citizen, sank into dreamless sleep, after five minutes 
in the steam-closet, ten in the tub, and thirty in the drying-room, where 
he had submitted to the expert osteopathy of "Colonel" Andrews (as 
Dr. Engel's skilled negro masseur was affectionately known), from the 
soles of his gouty feet to the veinous silken gloss of his slightly purple 
face. 

Across the street, at the corner of Liberty and Federal, and at the 
foot of Battery Hill, a white-jacketed negro sleepily restacked in boxes 
the scattered poker-chips that covered the centre table m the upstairs 
centre room of the Altamont City Club. The guests, just departed, were 
Mr. Gilbert Woodcock, Mr. Reeves Stikeleather, Mr. Henry Pentland, 
Jr., Mr. Sidney Newbeck, of Cleveland, Ohio (retired), and the afore- 
mentioned Mr. J. H. Brown. 

"And, Jesus, Ben!" said Harry Tugman, emerging at this moment 
from Uneeda No. 3, "I thought I'd have a hemorrhage when they pulled 
the Old Man out of the closet. After all the stuff he printed about 
cleaning up the town, too." 

"It wouldn't surprise me if Judge Sevier had them raid him," said 
Ben. 

"Why certainly, Ben," said Harry Tugman impatiently, "that's the 
idea, but Queen Elizabeth was behind it. You don't think there's any- 
thing she doesn't hear about, do you? So help me Jesus, you never 
heard a yap out of him for a week. He was afraid to show his face out 
of the office." 

At the Convent School of Saint Catherine's on Saint Clement's 
Road, Sister Theresa, the Mother Superior, walked softly through the 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 197 

dormitory lifting the window-shade beside each cot, letting the orchard 
cherry-apple bloom come gently into the long cool glade of roseleaf 
sleeping girls. Their breath expired gently upon their dewy half-opened 
mouths, light fell rosily upon the pillowed curve of their arms, their 
slender young sides, and the crisp pink buds of their breasts. At the 
other end of the room a fat girl lay squarely on her back, her arms and 
legs outspread, and snored solidly through blubbering lips. They had 
yet and hour of sleep. 

From one of the little white tables between the cots Theresa picked 
up an opened book incautiously left there the night before, read below 
her gray mustache with the still inward smile of her great-boned face, 
its title The Common Law, by Robert W. Chambers and gripping a 
pencil in her broad earthstamed hand, scrawled briefly in jagged male 
letters: "Rubbish, Elizabeth but see for yourself," Then, on her soft 
powerful tread, she went downstairs, and entered her study, where 
Sister Louise (French), Sister Mary (History), and Sister Bernice (An- 
cient Languages) were waiting for the morning consultation. When 
they had gone, she sat down to her desk and worked for an hour on 
the manuscript of that book, modestly intended for school children, 
which has since celebrated her name wherever the noble architecture of 
prose is valued the great Biology. 

Then the gong rang in the dormitory, she heard the high laughter 
of young maidens, and rising saw, coming from the plum-tree by the 
wall, a young nun, Sister Agnes, with blossoms in her arms. 

Below, tree-hidden, in the Biltburn bottom, there was a thunder on 
the rails, a wailing whistle cry. 

Beneath the City Hall, in the huge sloping cellar, the market booths 
were open. The aproned butchers swung their cleavers down on fresh 
cold joints, slapping the thick chops on heavy sheets of mottled paper, 
and tossing them, roughly tied, to the waiting negro delivery-boys. 

The self-respecting negro, J. H. Jackson, stood in his square vege- 
table-stall, attended by his two grave-faced sons, and his spectacled 
businesslike daughter. He was surrounded by wide slanting shelves of 
fruit and vegetables, smelling of the earth and morning great crinkled 
lettuces, fat radishes still clotted damply with black loam, quill-stemmed 



198 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

young onions newly wrenched from gardens, late celery, spring potatoes, 
and the thin rinded citrous fruits of Florida. 

Above him, Sorrell, the fish and oyster man, drew up from the 
depths of an enamelled ice-packed can dripping ladlefuls of oysters, 
pouring them into thick cardboard cartons. Wide-bellied heavy sea- 
fish carp, trout, bass, shad lay gutted in beds of ice. 

Mr. Michael Walter Creech, the butcher, having finished his hearty 
breakfast of calves' liver, eggs and bacon, hot biscuits and coffee, made 
a sign to one of the waiting row of negro boys. The line sprang forward 
like hounds; he stopped them with a curse and a lifted cleaver. The 
fortunate youth who had been chosen then came forward and took the 
tray, still richly morselled with food and a pot half full of coffee. As 
he had to depart at this moment on a delivery, he put it down in the 
sawdust at the end of the bench and spat copiously upon it in order to 
protect it from his scavenging comrades. Then he wheeled off, full of 
rich laughter and triumphant malice. Mr. Creech looked at his niggers 
darkly. 

The town had so far forgotten Mr. Creech's own African blood 
(an eighth on his father's side, old Walter Creech, out of Yellow Jenny) 
that it was about ready to offer him political preferment; but Mr. Creech 
himself had not forgotten. He glanced bitterly at his brother, Jay, who, 
happily ignorant of hatred, that fanged poison which may taint even a 
brother's heart, was enthusiastically cleaving spare-ribs on the huge bole 
of his own table, singing meanwhile in a rich tenor voice the opening 
bars of "The Little Gray Home In The West:" 

". . . there are blue eyes that shine 
Just because they meet mine . . ." 

Mr. Creech looked venomously at Jay's yellow jowls, the fat throb- 
bing of his jaundiced throat, the crisp singed whorl of his hair. 

By God, he thought in his anguish of spirit, he might be taken 
for a Mexican. 

Jay's golden voice neared its triumph, breaking with delicate re- 
straint, on the last note, into a high sweet falsetto which he maintained 
for more than twenty seconds. All of the butchers stopped working,, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 199 

several of them, big strong men with grown-up families dashed a tear 
out of their eyes. 

The great audience was held spellbound. Not a soul stirred. Not 
even a dog or a horse stirred. As the last sweet note melted away in a 
gossamer tremolo, a silence profound as that of the tombs, nay, of death 
itself, betokened the highest triumph the artist is destined to know upon 
this earth. Somewhere in the crowd a woman sobbed and collapsed in 
a faint. She was immediately carried out by two Boy Scouts who hap- 
pened to be present, and who administered first aid to her in the rest- 
room, one of them hastily kindling a crackling fire of pine boughs by 
striking two flints together, while the other made a tourniquet, and tied 
several knots in his handkerchief. Then pandemonium broke loose. 
Women tore the jewels from their fingers, ropes of pearls from their 
necks, chrysanthemums, hyacinths, tulips and daisies from their expen- 
sive corsages, while the fashionably-dressed men in the near-by stalls 
kept up a constant bombardment of tomatoes, lettuces, new potatoes, 
beef-tallow, pigs' knockles, fish-heads, clams, loin-chops, and pork- 
sausages. 

Among the stalls of the market, the boarding-house keepers of 
Altamont walked with spying bargain-hunting eyes and inquisitive nose. 
They were of various sizes and ages, but they were all stamped with 
the print of haggling determination and a pugnacious closure of the 
mouth. They pried in among the fish and vegetables, pinching cabbages, 
weighing onions, exfoliating lettuce-heads. You've got to keep your 
eye on people or they'll skin you. And if you leave things to a lazy 
shiftless nigger she'll waste more than she cooks. They looked at one 
another hardfaced Mrs. Barrett of the Grosvenor at Mrs. Neville of 
Glen View; Mrs. Ambler of the Colonial at Miss Mamie Featherstone 
of Ravencrest; Mrs. Ledbetter of the Belvedere 

"I hear you're full up, Mrs. Coleman," said she inquiringly. 

"O, I'm full up all the time," said Mrs. Coleman. "My people are 
all permanents, I don't want to fool with the transients," she said 
loftily. 

"Well," said Mrs. Ledbetter acidly, "I could fill my house up at 
any time with lungers who call themselves something else, but I won't 



200 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

have them. I was saying the other day " 

Mrs. Michalove of Oakwood at Mrs. Jarvis of The Waverley; 
Mrs. Cowan of Ridgmont at 

The city is splendidly equipped to meet the demands of the great 
and steadily growing crowd of tourists that fill the Mountain Metropolis 
during the busy months of June, July, and August. In addition to eight 
hotels de luxe of the highest quality, there were registered at the Board of 
Trade in 1911 over 250 private hotels, boarding-houses and sanitariums 
all catering to the needs of those who come on missions of business, 
pleasure, or health. 

Stop their baggage at the station. 

At this moment Number 3, having finished his route, stepped softly 
on to the slime-scummed porch of the house on Valley Street, rapped 
gently at the door, and opened it quietly, groping his way through black 
miasmic air to the bed in which May Corpening lay. She muttered as 
if drugged as he touched her, turned toward him, and sleepily awakened, 
drew him down to her with heavied and sensual caress, yoked under 
her big coppery arms. Tom Chne clumped greasily up the steps of his 
residence on Bartlett Street, swinging his tin pail; Ben returned to the 
paper office with Harry Tugman; and Eugene, in the back room on 
Woodson Street, waking suddenly to Gant's powerful command from 
the foot of the stairs, turned his face full into a momentary vision of 
roseflushed blue sky and tender blossoms that drifted slowly earthward. 




15 

Ihe mountains were his masters. They rimmed in life. They were 
the cup of reality, beyond growth, beyond struggle and death. They 
were his absolute unity in the midst of eternal change. Old haunt-eyed 
faces glimmered in his memory. He thought of Swain's cow, St. Louis, 
death, himself in the cradle. He was the haunter of himself, trying for a 
moment to recover what he had been part of. He did not understand 
change, he did not understand growth. He stared at his framed baby 
picture in the parlor, and turned away sick with fear and the effort to 
touch, retain, grasp himself for only a moment. 

And these bodiless phantoms of his life appeared with terrible pre- 
cision, with all the mad nearness of a vision. That which was five years 
gone came within the touch of his hand, and he ceased at that moment 
to believe in his own existence. He expected some one to wake him; he 
would hear Cant's great voice below the laden vines, would gaze sleepily 
from the porch into the rich low moon, and go obediently to bed. But 
still there would be all that he remembered before that and what if 
Cause flowed ceaselessly into cause. 

He heard the ghostly ticking of his life; his powerful clairvoyance, 

201 



202 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the wild Scotch gift of Eliza, burned inward back across the phantom 
years, plucking out of the ghostly shadows a million gleams of light a 
little station by the rails at dawn, the road cleft through the pineland 
seen at twilight, a smoky cabin-light below the trestles, a boy who ran 
among the bounding calves, a wisp-haired slattern, with snuff-sticked 
mouth, framed in a door, floury negroes unloading sacks from freight- 
cars on a shed, the man who drove the Fair Grounds bus at Saint Louis, 
a cool-lipped lake at dawn. 

His life coiled back into the brown murk of the past like a twined 
filament of electric wire; he gave life, a pattern, and movement to these 
million sensations that Chance, the loss or gain of a moment, the turn 
of the head, the enormous and aimless impulsion of accident, had thrust 
into the blazing heat of him. His mind picked out in white living bright- 
ness these pinpoints of experience and the ghostliness of all things else 
became more awful because of them. So many of the sensations that 
returned to open haunting vistas of fantasy and imagining had been 
caught from a whirling landscape through the windows of the train. 

And it was this that awed him the weird combination of fixity 
and change, the terrible moment of immobility stamped with eternity 
in which, passing life at great speed, both the observer and the observed 
seem frozen in time. There was one moment of timeless suspension 
when the land did not move, the train did not move, the slattern in the 
doorway did not move, he did not move. It was as if God had lifted 
his baton sharply above the endless orchestration of the seas, and the 
eternal movement had stopped, suspended in the timeless architecture 
of the absolute. Or like those motion-pictures that describe the move- 
ments of a swimmer making a dive, or a horse taking a hedge move- 
ment is petrified suddenly in mid-air, the inexorable completion of an 
act is arrested. Then, completing its parabola, the suspended body plops 
down into the pool. Only, these images that burnt in him existed with- 
out beginning or ending, without the essential structure of time. Fixed 
in no-time, the slattern vanished, fixed, without a moment of transition. 

His sense of unreality came from time and movement, from imag- 
ining the woman, when the train had passed, as walking back into the 
house, lifting a kettle from the hearth embers. Thus life turned shadow, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 203 

the living lights went ghost again. The boy among the calves. Where 
later? Where now? 

I am, he thought, a part of all that I have touched and that has 
touched me, which, having for me no existence save that which I gave 
to it, became other than itself by being mixed with what I then was, 
and is now still otherwise, having fused with what I now am, which is 
itself a cumulation of what I have been becoming. Why here? Why 
there? Why now? Why then? 

The fusion of the two strong egotisms, Eliza's inbrooding and 
Gant's expanding outward, made of him a fanatical zealot in the religion 
of Chance. Beyond all misuse, waste, pain, tragedy, death, confusion, 
unswerving necessity was on the rails; not a sparrow fell through the 
air but that its repercussion acted on his life, and the lonely light that 
fell upon the viscous and interminable seas at dawn awoke sea-changes 
washing life to him. The fish swam upward from the depth. 

The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin 
of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a 
Georgia slattern because a London cut-purse went unhung. Through 
Chance, we are each a ghost to all the others, and our only reality; 
through Chance, the huge hinge of the world, and a grain of dust; the 
stone that starts an avalanche, the pebble whose concentric circles 
widen across the seas. 

He believed himself thus at the centre of life; he believed the moun- 
tains rimmed the heart of the world; he believed that from all the chaos 
of accident the inevitable event came at the inexorable moment to add 
to the sum of his life. 

Against the hidden other flanks of the immutable hills the world 
washed like a vast and shadowy sea, alive with the great fish of his 
imagining. Variety, m this unvisited world, was unending, but order 
and purpose certain: there would be no wastage in adventure courage 
would be regarded with beauty, talent with success, all merit with its 
true deserving. There would be peril, there would be toil, there would 
be struggle. But there would not be confusion and waste. There would 



204 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

not be groping. For collected Fate would fall, on its chosen moment, 
like a plum. There was no disorder in enchantment. 

Spring lay abroad through all the garden of this world. Beyond 
the hills the land bayed out to other hills, to golden cities, to rich 
meadows, to deep forests, to the sea. Forever and forever. 

Beyond the hills were the mines of King Solomon, the toy republics 
of Central America, and little tinkling fountains in a court; beyond, the 
moonlit roofs of Bagdad, the little grated blinds of Samarkand, the 
moonlit camels of Bythinia, the Spanish ranch-house of the Triple Z, 
and J. B. Montgomery and his lovely daughter stepping from their 
private car upon a western track; and the castle-haunted crags of 
Graustark; the fortune-yielding casino of Monte Carlo; and the blue 
eternal Mediterranean, mother of empires. And instant wealth ticked 
out upon a tape, and the first stage of the Eiffel Tower where the restau- 
rant was, and Frenchmen setting fire to their whiskers, and a farm in 
Devon, white cream, brown ale, the winter's chimney merriment, and 
Lorna Doone; and the hanging gardens of Babylon, and supper in the 
sunset with the queens, and the slow slide of the barge upon the Nile, 
or the wise rich bodies of Egyptian women couched on moonlit balus- 
trades, and the thunder of the chariots of great kings, and tomb-treasure 
sought at midnight, and the wine-rich chateau land of France, and calico 
warm legs in hay. 

Upon a field in Thrace Queen Helen lay, her lovely body dappled 
in the sun. 

Meanwhile, business had been fairly good. Eliza's earning power 
the first few years at Dixieland had been injured by her illnesses. Now, 
however, she had recovered, and had paid off the last installment on the 
house. It was entirely hers. The property at this time was worth per- 
haps $12,000. In addition she had borrowed $3,500 on a twenty-year 
$5,000 life insurance policy that had only two years more to run, and 
had made extensive alterations: she had added a large sleeping-porch 
upstairs, tacked on two rooms, a bath, and a hallway on one side, and 
extended a hallway, adding three bedrooms, two baths, and a water- 




closet, on the other. Downstairs she had widened the veranda, put in 
a large sun-parlor under the sleeping-porch, knocked out the archway 
in the dining-room, which she prepared to use as a big bedroom in the 
slack season, scooped out a small pantry in which the family was to 
eat, and added a tiny room beside the kitchen for her own occupancy. 
The construction was after her own plans, and of the cheapest 
material: it never lost the smell of raw wood, cheap varnish, and flimsy 
rough plastering, but she had added eight or ten rooms at a cost of only 
$3,000. The year before she had banked almost $2,000 her bank 
account was almost $5,000. In addition, she owned jointly with Gant the 



206 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

shop on the Square, which had thirty feet of frontage, and was valued 
at $20,000, from which he got $65 a month in rent; $20 from Jannadeau, 
$25 from the McLean Plumbing Company in the basement, and $20 
from the J. N. Gillespie Printing Co., which occupied all of the second 
story. 

There were, besides, three good building-lots on Merrion Avenue 
valued at $2,000 apiece, or at $5,500 for all three; the house on Woodson 
Street valued at $5,000; 110 acres of wooded mountainside with a farm- 
house, several hundred peach, apple and cherry trees, and a few acres 
of arable ground for which Gant received $120 a year in rent, and which 
they valued at $50 an acre, $5,500; two houses, one on Carter Street, 
and one on Duncan, rented to railway people, for which they received 
$25 a month apiece, and which they valued together at $4,500; forty- 
eight acres of land two miles above Biltburn, and four from Altamont, 
upon the important Reynoldsville Road, which they valued at $210 an 
acre, or $10,000; three houses in Niggertown one on lower Valley 
Street, one on Beaumont Crescent, just below the negro Johnson's big 
house, and one on Short Oak, valued at $600, $900, and $1,600 respec- 
tively, and drawing a room-rental of $8, $12, and $17 a month (total: 
$3,100 and $37 rental); two houses across the river, four miles away in 
West Altamont, valued at $2,750 and at $3,500, drawing a rental of $22 
and $30 a month; three lots, lost in the growth of a rough hillside, a 
mile from the main highway through West Altamont, $500; and a house, 
unoccupied, object of Gantian anathema, on Lower Hatton Avenue, 
$4,500. 

In addition, Gant held 10 shares, which were already worth $200 
each ($2,000), in the newly organized Fidelity Bank; his stock of stones, 
monuments, and fly-specked angels represented an investment of $2,700, 
although he could not have sold them outright for so much; and he had 
about $3,000 deposited in the Fidelity, the Merchants, and the Battery 
Hill banks. 

Thus, at the beginning of 1912, before the rapid and intensive devel- 
opment of Southern industry, and the consequent tripling of Altamont's 
population, and before the multiplication of her land values, the wealth 
of Gant and Eliza amounted to about $100,000, the great bulk of which 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 207 

was solidly founded in juicy well chosen pieces of property of Eliza's 
selection, yielding them a monthly rental of more than $200, which, 
added to their own earning capacities at the shop and Dixieland, gave 
them a combined yearly income of $8,000 or $10,000. Although Gant 
often cried out bitterly against his business and declared, when he was 
not attacking property, that he had never made even a bare living from 
his tombstones, he was rarely short of ready money, he usually had 
one or two small commissions from country people, and he always 
carried a well-filled purse, containing $150 or $200 in five- and ten-dollar 
bills, which he allowed Eugene to count out frequently, enjoying his 
son's delight, and the feel of abundance. 

Eliza had suffered one or two losses in her investments, led astray 
by a strain of wild romanticism which destroyed for the moment her 
shrewd caution. She invested $1,200 in the Missouri Utopia of a col- 
onizer, and received nothing for her money but a weekly copy of the 
man's newspaper, several beautiful prospectuses of the look of things 
when finished, and a piece of clay sculpture, eight inches in height, show- 
ing Big Brother with his little sisters Jenny and Kate, the last with thumb 
in her mouth. 

"By God," said Gant, who made savage fun of the proceeding, 
"she ought to have it on her nose." 

And Ben sneered, jerking his head toward it, saying: 

"There's her $1,200." 

But Eliza was preparing to go on by herself. She saw that co-oper- 
ation with Gant in the purchase of land was becoming more difficult 
each year. And with something like pain, something assuredly like 
hunger, she saw various rich plums fall into other hands or go unbought. 
She realized that in a very short time land values would soar beyond her 
present means. And she proposed to be on hand when the pie was cut. 

Across the street from Dixieland was the Brunswick, a well-built 
red brick house of twenty rooms. The marble facings had been done by 
Gant himself twenty years before, the hardwood floors and oak timber- 
ing by Will Pentland. It was an ugly gabled Victorian house, the mar- 
riage gift of a rich Northerner to his daughter, who died of tuberculosis. 

"Not a better built house in town," said Gant. 



208 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Nevertheless he refused to buy it with Eliza, and with an aching 
heart she saw it go to St. Greenberg, the rich junk-man, for $8,500. 
Within a year he had sold off five lots at the back, on the Yancy Street 
side, for $1,000 each, and was holding the house for $20,000. 

"We could have had our money back by now three times over," 

She did not have enough money at the time for any important 
investment. She saved and she waited. 

Will Pentland's fortune at this time was vaguely estimated at from 
$500,000 to $700,000. It was mainly in property, a great deal of which 
was situated warehouses and buildings near the passenger depot of 
the railway. 

Sometimes Altamont people, particularly the young men who loafed 
about Colhster's drug-store, and who spent long dreamy hours esti- 
mating the wealth of the native plutocracy, called Will Pentland a mil- 
lionaire. At this time it was a distinction in American life to be a mil- 
lionaire. There were only six or eight thousand. But Will Pentland 
wasn't one. He was really worth only a half million. 

Mr. Goulderbilt was a millionaire. He was driven into town in a 
big Packard, but he got out and went along the streets like other men. 

One time Gant pointed him out to Eugene. He was about to enter 
a bank. 

"There he is," whispered Gant. "Do you see him?" 

Eugene nodded, wagging his head mechanically. He was unable to 
speak. Mr. Goulderbilt was a small dapper man, with black hair, black 
clothes, and a black mustache. His hands and feet were small. 

"He's got over $50,000,000," said Gant. "You'd never think it to 
look at him, would you?" 

And Eugene dreamed of these money princes living in a princely 
fashion. He wanted to see them riding down a street in a crested coach 
around which rode a teetering guard of livened outriders. He wanted 
their fingers to be heavily gemmed, their clothes trimmed with ermine, 
their women coroneted with flashing mosaics of amethyst, beryl, ruby, 
topaz, sapphire, opal, emerald, and wearing thick ropes of pearls. And 
he wanted to see them living in palaces of alabaster columns, eating in 
vast halls upon an immense creamy table from vessels of old silver 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 209 

eating strange fabulous foods swelling unctuous paps of a fat pregnant 
sow, oiled mushrooms, calvered salmon, jugged hare, the beards of 
barbels dressed with an exquisite and poignant sauce, carps' tongues, 
dormice and camels' heels, with spoons of amber headed with diamond 
and carbuncle, and cups of agate, studded with emeralds, hyacinths, and 
rubies everything, m fact, for which Epicure Mammon wished. 

Eugene met only one millionaire whose performances in public 
satisfied him, and he, unhappily, was crazy. His name was Simon. 

Simon, when Eugene first saw him, was a man of almost fifty years. 
He had a strong, rather heavy figure of middling height, a lean brown 
face, with shadowy hollows across the cheeks, always closely shaven, 
but sometimes badly scarred by his gouging fingernails, and a long thin 
mouth that curved slightly downward, subtle, sensitive, lighting his 
whole face at times with blazing demoniac glee. He had straight abund- 
ant hair, heavily grayed, which he kept smartly brushed and flattened 
at the sides. His clothing was loose and well cut he wore a dark coat 
above baggy gray flannels, silk shirts rayed with broad stripes, a collar 
to match, and a generous loosely knotted tie. His waistcoats were 
of a ruddy-brown chequered pattern. He had an appearance of great 
distinction. 

Simon and his two keepers first came to Dixieland when difficulties 
with several of the Altamont hotels forced them to look for private 
quarters. The men took two rooms and a sleeping-porch, and paid 
generously. 

44 Why, pshaw!" said Eliza persuasively to Helen. "I don't believe 
there's a thing wrong with him. He's as quiet and well-behaved as you 
please." 

At this moment there was a piercing yell upstairs, followed by a 
long peal of diabolical laughter. Eugene bounded up and down the 
hall in his exultancy and delight, producing little squealing noises in 
his throat. Ben, scowling, with a quick flicker of his mouth, drew back 
his hard white hand swiftly as if to curl his brother. Instead, he jerked 
his head sideways to Eliza, and said with a soft, scornful laugh: "By 
God, mama, 1 don't see why you have to take them in. You've got 
enough of them in the family already." 



210 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Mama, in heaven's name " Helen began furiously. At this 
moment Gant strode in out of the dusk, carrying a mottled package of 
pork chops, and muttering rhetorically to himself. There was another 
long peal of laughter above. He halted abruptly, startled, and lifted his 
head. Luke, listening attentively at the foot of the stairs, exploded in 
a loud boisterous guffaw, and the girl, her annoyance changing at once 
to angry amusement, walked toward her father's inquiring face, and 
prodded him several times in the ribs. 

"Hey?" he said startled. "What is it?" 

"Miss Eliza's got a crazy man upstairs," she sniggered, enjoying 
his amazement. 

"Jesus God!" Gant yelled frantically, wetting his big thumb swiftly 
on his tongue, and glancing up toward his Maker with an attitude of 
exaggerated supplication in his small gray eyes and the thrust of his 
huge bladelike nose. Then, letting his arms slap heavily at his sides, in 
a gesture of defeat, he began to walk rapidly back and forth, clucking 
his deprecation loudly. Eliza stood solidly, looking from one to another, 
her lips working rapidly, her white face hurt and bitter. 

There was another long howl of mirth above. Gant paused, caught 
Helen's eye, and began to grin suddenly in an unwilling sheepish manner. 

"God have mercy on us," he chuckled. "She'll have the place filled 
with all of Barnum's freaks the next thing you know." 

At this moment, Simon, self-contained, distinguished and grave in 
his manner, descended the steps with Mr. Gilroy and Mr. Flannagan, 
his companions. The two guards were red in the face, and breathed 
stertorously as if from some recent exertion. Simon, however, preserved 
his habitual appearance of immaculate and well-washed urbanity. 

"Good evening," he remarked suavely. "I hope I have not kept 
you waiting long." He caught sight of Eugene. 

"Come here, my boy," he said very kindly. 

"It's all right," remarked Mr. Gilroy, encouragingly. "He wouldn't 
hurt a fly." 

Eugene moved into the presence. 

"And what is your name, young man?" said Simon with his 
beautiful devil's smile. 

"Eugene." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 211 

"That's a very fine name," said Simon. "Always try to live up to 
it." He thrust his hand carelessly and magnificently into his coat 
pocket, drawing out under the boy's astonished eyes, a handful of 
shining five and ten-cent pieces. 

"Always be good to the birds, my boy," said Simon, and he poured 
the money into Eugene's cupped hands. 

Every one looked doubtfully at Mr. Gilroy. 

"Oh, that's all right!" said Mr. Gilroy cheerfully. "He'll never miss 
it. There's lots more where that came from." 

"He's a mul-tye-millionaire," Mr. Flannagan explained proudly. 
"We give him four or five dollars in small change every morning just 
to throw away." 

Simon caught sight of Gant for the first time. 

"Look out for the Stingaree," he cried. "Remember the Maine." 

"I tell you what," said Eliza laughing. "He's not so crazy as you 
think." 

"That's right," said Mr. Gilroy, noting Gant's grin. "The Sting- 
aree's a fish. They have them in Florida." 

"Don't forget the birds, my friends," said Simon, going out with 
his companions. "Be good to the birds." 

They became very fond of him. Somehow he fitted into the pattern 
of their life. None of them was uncomfortable in the presence of mad- 
ness. In the flowering darkness of Spring, prisoned in a room, his 
satanic laughter burst suddenly out: Eugene listened, thrilled, and slept, 
unable to forget the smile of dark flowering evil, the loose pocket 
chinking heavily with coins. 

Night, the myriad rustle of tiny wings. Heard lapping water of the 
inland seas. 

And the air will be filled with warm-throated plum-dropping 
bird-notes. He was almost twelve. He was done with childhood. As 
that Spring ripened he felt entirely, for the first time, the full delight of 
loneliness. Sheeted m his thin nightgown, he stood in darkness by the 
orchard window of the back room at Gant's, drinking the sweet air 
down, exulting in his isolation in darkness, hearing the strange wail of 
the whistle going west. 



212 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

The prison walls of self had closed entirely round him; he was 
walled completely by the esymplastic power of his imagination he had 
learned by now to project mechanically, before the world, an acceptable 
counterfeit of himself which would protect him from intrusion. He no 
longer went through the torment of the recess flight and pursuit. He was 
now in one of the upper grades of grammar school, he was one of the 
Big Boys. His hair had been cut when he was nine years old, after a 
bitter seige against Eliza's obstinacy. He no longer suffered because of 
the curls. But he had grown like a weed, he already topped his mother 
by an inch or two; his body was big-boned but very thin and frag- 
ile, with no meat on it; his legs were absurdly long, thin, and straight, 
giving him a curious scissored look as he walked with long bounding 
strides. 

Stuck on a thin undeveloped neck beneath a big wide-browed head 
covered thickly by curling hair which had changed, since his infancy, 
from a light maple to dark brown-black, was a face so small, and so 
delicately sculptured, that it seemed not to belong to its body. The 
strangeness, the remote quality of this face was enhanced by its brooding 
fabulous concentration, by its passionate dark intensity, across which 
every splinter of thought or sensation flashed like a streak of light across 
a pool. The mouth was full, sensual, extraordinarily mobile, the lower 
lip deeply scooped and pouting. His rapt dreaming intensity set the face 
usually in an expression of almost sullen contemplation; he smiled, 
oftener than he laughed, inwardly, at some extravagant invention, or 
some recollection of the absurd, now fully appreciated for the first time. 
He did not open his lips to smile there was a swift twisted flicker across 
his mouth. His thick heavily arched eyebrows grew straight across the 
base of his nose. 

That Spring he was more alone than ever. Eliza's departure for 
Dixieland three or four years before, and the disruption of established 
life at Gant's, had begun the loosening of his first friendships with the 
neighborhood boys, Harry Tarkmton, Max Isaacs, and the others, and 
had now almost completely severed them. Occasionally he saw these 
boys again, occasionally he resumed again, at sporadic intervals, his 
association with them, but he now had no steady companionship, he had 




only a series of associations with children whose parents stayed for a 
time at Dixieland, with Tim O'Doyle, whose mother ran the Brunswick, 
with children here and there who briefly held his interest. 

But he became passionately bored with them, plunged into a mias- 
mic swamp of weariness and horror, after a time, because of the dulness 
and ugliness of their lives, their minds, their amusements. Dull people 
filled him with terror: he was never so much frightened by tedium in 
his own life as in the lives of others his early distaste for Pett Pentland 
and her grim rusty aunts came from submerged memories of the old 
house on Central Avenue, the smell of mellow apples and medicine in 
the hot room, the swooping howl of the wind outside, and the endless 
monotone of their conversation on disease, death, and misery. He was 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 215 

tried vainly to imitate the precision and power of this movement, which 
drove the ball in a smoking arc out of the lot, but he was never able: 
he chopped down clumsily and blindly, knocking a futile bounder to 
some nimble baseman. In the field he was equally useless: he never 
learned to play in a team, to become a limb of that single animal which 
united telepathically in a concerted movement. He became nervous, 
highly excited, and erratic in team-play, but he spent hours alone with 
another boy, or, after the mid-day meal, with Ben, passing a ball back 
and forth. 

He developed blinding speed, bending all the young suppleness of 
his long thin body behind the ball, exulting as it smoked into the pocket 
of the mitt with a loud smack, or streaked up with a sharp dropping 
curve. Ben, taken by surprise by a fast drop, would curse him savagely, 
and in a rage hurl the ball back into his thm gloved hand. In the Spring 
and Summer he went as often as he could afford it, or was invited, to 
the baseball games in the district league, a fanatic partisan of the town 
club and its best players, making a fantasy constantly of himself in a 
heroic game-saving role. 

But he was in no way able to submit himself to the discipline, the 
hard labor, the acceptance of defeat and failure that make a good 
athlete; he wanted always to win, he wanted always to be the general, 
the heroic spear-head of victory. And after that he wanted to be loved. 
Victory and love. In all of his swarming fantasies Eugene saw himself 
like this unbeaten and beloved. But moments of clear vision returned 
to him when all the defeat and misery of his life was revealed. He saw 
his gangling and absurd figure, his remote unpractical brooding face, 
too like a dark strange flower to arouse any feeling among his compan- 
ions and his km, he thought, but discomfort, bitterness, and mockery; 
he remembered, with a drained sick heart, the countless humiliations, 
physical and verbal, he had endured, at the hands of school and family, 
before the world, and as he thought, the horns of victory died within 
the wood, the battle-drums of triumph stopped, the proud clangor of 
the gongs quivered away in silence. His eagles had flown; he saw him- 
self, in a moment of reason, as a madman playing Caesar. He craned his 
head aside and covered his face with his hand. 



214 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

filled with terror and anger against them because they were able to live, 
to thrive, in this horrible depression that sickened him. 

Thus, the entire landscape, the whole physical background of his 
life, was now dappled by powerful prejudices of liking and distaste 
formed, God knows how, or by what intangible affinities of thought, 
feeling and connotation. Thus, one street would seem to him to be a 
"good street" to exist in the rich light of cheerful, abundant, and high- 
hearted living; another, inexplicably, a "bad street," touching him 
somehow with fear, hopelessness, depression. 

Perhaps the cold red light of some remembered winter's afternoon, 
waning pallidly over a playing-field, with all its mockery of Spring, 
while lights flared up smokily in houses, the rabble-rout of children 
dirtily went in to supper, and men came back to the dull but warm 
imprisonment of home, oil lamps (which he hated), and bedtime, clotted 
in him a hatred of the place which remained even when the sensations 
that caused it were forgotten. 

Or, returning from some country walk in late autumn, he would 
come back from Cove or Valley with dewy nose, clotted boots, the 
smell of a mashed persimmon on his knee, and the odor of wet earth 
and grass on the palms of his hands, and with a stubborn dislike and 
suspicion of the scene he had visited, and fear of the people who lived 
there. 

He had the most extraordinary love of incandescence. He hated 
dull lights, smoky lights, soft, or sombre lights. At night he wanted to 
be in rooms brilliantly illuminated with beautiful, blazing, sharp, 
poignant lights. After that, the dark. 

He played games badly, although he took a violent interest in 
sports. Max Isaacs continued to interest him as an athlete long after 
he had ceased to interest him as a person. The game Max Isaacs excelled 
in was baseball. Usually he played one of the outfield positions, ranging 
easily about in his field, when a ball was hit to him, with the speed of a 
panther, making impossible catches with effortless grace. He was a 
terrific hitter, standing at the plate casually but alertly, and meeting the 
ball squarely with a level swinging smack of his heavy shoulders. Eugene 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 215 

tried vainly to imitate the precision and power of this movement, which 
drove the ball in a smoking arc out of the lot, but he was never able: 
he chopped down clumsily and blindly, knocking a futile bounder to 
some nimble baseman. In the field he was equally useless: he never 
learned to play in a team, to become a limb of that single animal which 
united telepathically in a concerted movement. He became nervous, 
highly excited, and erratic in team-play, but he spent hours alone with 
another boy, or, after the mid-day meal, with Ben, passing a ball back 
and forth. 

He developed blinding speed, bending all the young suppleness of 
his long thin body behind the ball, exulting as it smoked into the pocket 
of the mitt with a loud smack, or streaked up with a sharp dropping 
curve. Ben, taken by surprise by a fast drop, would curse him savagely, 
and m a rage hurl the ball back into his thin gloved hand. In the Spring 
and Summer he went as often as he could afford it, or was invited, to 
the baseball games in the district league, a fanatic partisan of the town 
club and its best players, making a fantasy constantly of himself in a 
heroic game-saving role. 

But he was in no way able to submit himself to the discipline, the 
hard labor, the acceptance of defeat and failure that make a good 
athlete; he wanted always to win, he wanted always to be the general, 
the heroic spear-head of victory. And after that he wanted to be loved. 
Victory and love. In all of his swarming fantasies Eugene saw himself 
like this unbeaten and beloved. But moments of clear vision returned 
to him when all the defeat and misery of his life was revealed. He saw 
his gangling and absurd figure, his remote unpractical brooding face, 
too like a dark strange flower to arouse any feeling among his compan- 
ions and his kin, he thought, but discomfort, bitterness, and mockery; 
he remembered, with a drained sick heart, the countless humiliations, 
physical and verbal, he had endured, at the hands of school and family, 
before the world, and as he thought, the horns of victory died within 
the wood, the battle-drums of triumph stopped, the proud clangor of 
the gongs quivered away in silence. His eagles had flown; he saw him- 
self, in a moment of reason, as a madman playing Caesar. He craned his 
head aside and covered his face with his hand. 




16 

Ihe Spring grew ripe. There was at mid-day a soft drowsiness in 
the sun. Warm sporting gusts of wind howled faintly at the eaves; the 
young grass bent; the daisies twinkled. 

He pressed his high knees uncomfortably against the bottom of his 
desk, grew nostalgic on his dreams. Bessie Barnes scrawled vigorously 
two rows away, displaying her long full silken leg. Open for me the 
gates of delight. Behind her sat a girl named Ruth, dark, with milk- 
white skin, eyes as gentle as her name, and thick black hair, parted in 
middle. He thought of a wild life with Bessie and of a later resurrection, 
a pure holy life, with Ruth. 

One day, after the noon recess, they were marshalled by the teach- 
ers all of the children in the three upper grades and marched upstairs 
to the big assembly hall. They were excited, and gossiped in low voices 
as they went. They had never been called upstairs at this hour. Quite 
often the bells rang in the halls: they sprang quickly into line and were 
marched out in double files. That was fire drill. They liked that. Once 
they emptied the building in four minutes. 

This was something new. They marched into the big room and sat 

216 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 217 

down in blocks of seats assigned to each class: they sat with a seat 
between each of them. In a moment the door of the principal's office 
on the left where little boys were beaten was opened, and the prin- 
cipal came out. He walked around the corner of the big room and 
stepped softly up on the platform. He began to talk. 

He was a new principal. Young Armstrong, who had smelled the 
flower so delicately, and who had visited Daisy, and who once had 
almost beaten Eugene because of the smutty rhymes, was gone. The 
new principal was older. He was about thirty-eight years old. He was 
a strong rather heavy man a little under six feet tall; he was one of a 
large family who had grown up on a Tennessee farm. His father was 
poor but he had helped his children to get an education. All this Eugene 
knew already, because the principal made long talks to them in the 
morning and said he had never had their advantages. He pointed to 
himself with some pride. And he urged the little boys, playfully but 
earnestly, to "be not like dumb driven cattle, be a hero in the strife." 
That was poetry, Longfellow. 

The principal had thick powerful shoulders; clumsy white arms, 
knotted with big awkward country muscles. Eugene had seen him once 
hoeing in the schoolyard; each of them had been given a plant to set 
out He got those muscles on the farm. The boys said he beat very 
hard. He walked with a clumsy stealthy tread awkward and comical 
enough, it is true, but he could be up at a boy's back before you 
knew it. Otto Krause called him Creeping Jesus. The name stuck, 
among the tough crowd. Eugene was a little shocked by it. 

The principal had a white face of waxen transparency, with deep 
flat cheeks like the Pentlands, a pallid nose, a trifle deeper in its color 
than his face, and a thin slightly-bowed mouth. His hair was coarse, 
black, and thick, but he never let it grow too long. He had short dry 
hands, strong, and always coated deeply with chalk. When he passed 
near by, Eugene got the odor of chalk and of the schoolhouse: his heart 
grew cold with excitement and fear. The sanctity of chalk and school 
hovered about the man's flesh. He was the one who could touch with- 
out being touched, beat without being beaten Eugene had terrible fan- 
tasies of resistance, shuddering with horror as he thought of the awful 



218 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

consequences of fighting back: something like God's fist in lightning. 
Then he looked around cautiously to see if any one had noticed. 

The principal's name was Leonard. He made long speeches to the 
children every morning, after a ten-minute prayer. He had a high 
sonorous countrified voice which often trailed off in a comical drawl; 
he got lost very easily in revery, would pause in the middle of a sentence, 
gaze absently off with his mouth half-open and an expression of stupe- 
faction on his face, and return presently to the business before him, his 
mind still loose, with witless distracted laugh. 

He talked to the children aimlessly, pompously, dully for twenty 
minutes every morning: the teachers yawned carefully behind their 
hands, the students made furtive drawings, or passed notes. He spoke 
to them of "the higher life" and of "the things of the mind." He 
assured them that they were the leaders of to-morrow and the hope of 
the world. Then he quoted Longfellow. 

He was a good man, a dull man, a man of honor. He had a broad 
streak of coarse earthy brutality in him. He loved a farm better than 
anything in the world except a school. He had rented a big dilapidated 
house in a grove of lordly oaks on the outskirts of town: he lived there 
with his wife and his two children. He had a cow he was never without 
a cow: he would go out at night and morning to milk her, laughing his 
vacant silly laugh, and giving her a good smacking kick in the belly to 
make her come round into position. 

He was a heavy-handed master. He put down rebellion with good 
cornfield violence. If a boy was impudent to him he would rip him 
powerfully from his seat, drag his wriggling figure into his office, breath- 
ing stertorously as he walked along at his clumsy rapid gait, and saying 
roundly, in tones of scathing contempt: "Why, you young upstart, we'll 
just see who's master here. I'll just show you, my sonny, if I'm to be 
dictated to by every two-by-four whippersnapper who comes along." 
And once within the office, with the glazed door shut, he published the 
stern warning of his justice by the loud exertion of his breathing, the 
cutting swish of his rattan, and the yowls of pain and terror that he 
exacted from his captive. 

He had called the school together that day to command it to write 

Viim o rrmT>r*oittri The* rViilrlrr cat ctarinrr HiimKlxA iir* at him ac hf* 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 219 

made a rambling explanation of what he wanted. Finally he announced 
a prize. He would give five dollars from his own pocket to the student 
who wrote the best paper. That aroused them. There was a rustle of 
interest. 

They were to write a paper on the meaning of a French picture called 
The Song of the Lark. It represented a French peasant girl, barefooted, 
with a sickle in one hand, and with face upturned in the morning-light 
of the fields as she listened to the bird-song. They were asked to describe 
what they saw in the expression of the girl's face. They were asked to 
tell what the picture meant to them. It had been reproduced in one of 
their readers. A larger print was now hung up on the platform for 
their inspection. Sheets of yellow paper were given them. They stared, 
thoughtfully masticating their pencils. Finally, the room was silent save 
for a minute scratching on paper. 

The warm wind spouted about the eaves; the grasses bent, whistling 
gently. 

Eugene wrote: "The girl is hearing the song of the first lark. She 
knows that it means Spring has come. She is about seventeen or eigh- 
teen years old. Her people are very poor, she has never been anywhere. 
In the winter she wears wooden shoes. She is making out as if she was 
going to whistle. But she doesn't let on to the bird that she has heard 
him. The rest of her people are behind her, coming down the field, but 
we do not see them. She has a father, a mother, and two brothers. 
They have worked hard all their life. The girl is the youngest child. 
She thinks she would like to go away somewhere and see the world. 
Sometimes she hears the whistle of a train that is going to Paris. She 
has never ridden on a train in her life. She would like to go to Pans. 
She would like to have some fine clothes, she would like to travel. 
Perhaps she would like to start life new in America, the Land of Oppor- 
tunity. The girl has had a hard time. Her people do not understand 
her. If they saw her listening to the lark they would poke fun at her. 
She has never had the advantages of a good education, her people are 
so poor, but she would profit by her opportunity if she did, more than 
some people who have. You can tell by looking at her that she's 
intelligent." 

It was early in May; examinations came in another two weeks. 



220 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He thought of them with excitement and pleasure he liked the period 
of hard cramming, the long reviews, the delight of emptying out abund- 
antly on paper his stored knowledge. The big assembly room had about 
it the odor of completion, of sharp nervous ecstasy. All through the 
summer it would be drowsy- warm; if only here, alone, with the big 
piaster cast of Minerva, himself and Bessie Barnes, or Miss Miss 

"We want this boy," said Margaret Leonard. She handed Eugene's 
paper over to her husband. They were starting a private school for boys. 
That was what the paper had been for. 

Leonard took the paper, pretended to read half a page, looked off 
absently into eternity, and began to rub his chin reflectively, leaving a 
slight coating of chalk-dust on his face. Then, catching her eye, he 
laughed idiotically, and said: "Why, that little rascal! Huh? Do you 
suppose ?" 

Feeling delightfully scattered, he bent over with a long suction of 
whining laughter, slapping his knee and leaving a chalk print, making a 
slobbering noise in his mouth. 

"The Lord have mercy!" he gasped. 

"Here! Never you mind about that," she said, laughing with tender 
sharp amusement. "Pull yourself together and see this boy's people." 
She loved the man dearly, and he loved her. 

A few days later Leonard assembled the children a second time. 
He made a rambling speech, the purport of which was to inform them 
that one of them had won the prize, but to conceal the winner's name. 
Then, after several divagations, which he thoroughly enjoyed, he read 
Eugene's paper, announced his name, and called him forward. 

Chalkface took chalkhand. The boy's heart thundered against his 
ribs. The proud horns blared, he tasted glory. 

Patiently, all through the summer, Leonard laid siege to Gant and 
Eliza. Gant fidgeted, spoke shiftily, finally said: 

"You'll have to see his mother." Privately he was bitterly scornful, 
roared the merits of the public school as an incubator of citizenship. 
The family was contemptuous. Private school! Mr. Vanderbilt! Ruin 
him for good! 

Which made Eliza reflective. She had a good streak of snobbism. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 221 

Mr. Vanderbilt? She was as good as any of them. They'd just see. 

"Who are you going to have?" she asked. "Have you drummed 
any one up yet?" 

Leonard mentioned the sons of several fashionable and wealthy 
people, of Dr. Kitchen, the eye, ear, nose and throat man, Mr. Arthur, 
the corporation lawyer, and Bishop Raper, of the Episcopal diocese. 

Eliza grew more reflective. She thought of Pett. She needn't give 
herself airs. 

"How much are you asking?" she said. 

He told her the tuition was one hundred dollars a year. She pursed 
her lips lingermgly before she answered. 

"Hm-m!" she began, with a bantering smile, as she looked at 
Eugene. 'That's a whole lot of money. You know," she continued with 
her tremulous smile, "as the darkey says, we're pore-folks." 

Eugene squirmed. 

"Well what about it, boy?" said Eliza bantenngly. "Do you think 
you're worth that much money?" 

Mr. Leonard placed his white dry hand upon Eugene's shoulders, 
affectionately sliding it down his back and across his kidneys, leaving 
white chalk prints everywhere. Then he clamped his meaty palm tightly 
around the slender bracelet of boy-arm. 

"That boy's worth, it," he said, shaking him gently to and fro. 
"Yes, sir!" 

Eugene smiled painfully. Eliza continued to purse her lips. She felt 
a strong psychic relation to Leonard. They both took time. 

"Say," she said, rubbing her broad red nose, and smiling slyly, "I 
used to be a school-teacher. You didn't know that, did you? But I 
didn't get any such prices as you're asking," she added. "I thought 
myself mighty lucky if I got my board and twenty dollars a month." 

"Is that so, Mrs. Gant?" said Mr. Leonard with great interest. 
"Well, sir!" He began to laugh in a vague whine, pulling Eugene about 
more violently and deadening his arm under his crushing grip. 

"Yes," said Eliza, "I remember my father it was long before you 
were born, boy," she said to Eugene, "for I hadn't laid eyes on your 
papa as the feller says, you were nothing but a dish-rag hanging out 



222 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

in heaven I'd have laughed at any one who suggested marriage then 
Well, I tell you what [she shook her head with a sad pursed deprecating 
mouth], we were mighty poor at the time, I can tell you. I was thinking 
about it the other day many's the time we didn't have food in the house 
for the next meal. Well, as I was saying, your grandfather [addressing 
Eugene] came home one night and said Look here, what about it? 
Who do you suppose I saw to-day? I remember him just as plain as 
if I saw him standing here I had a feeling [addressing Leonard with 
a doubtful smile] I don't know what you'd call it but it's pretty strange 
when you come to think about it, isn't it? I had just finished helping 
Aunt Jane set the table she had come all the way from Yancey County 
to visit your grandmother when all of a sudden it flashed over me 
mind you [to Leonard] I never looked out the window or anything but 
1 knew just as well as I knew anything that he was coming mercy I 
cried here he comes why what on earth are you talking about, Eliza? 
said your grandma I remember she went to the door and looked out 
down the path there's no one there He's acoming, I said wait and 
see Who? said your grandmother Why, father, I said he's carrying 
something on his shoulder and sure enough I had no sooner got the 
words out of my mouth than there he was just acoming it for all he was 
worth, up the path, with a tow-sack full of apples on his back you could 
tell by the way he walked that he had news of some sort well sure 
enough without stopping to say howdy-do I remembered he began 
to talk almost before he got into the house O father, I called out 
you've brought the apples it was the year after I had almost died of 
pneumonia I'd been spitting up blood ever since and having hemor- 
rhages and I asked him to bring me some apples Well sir, mother 
said to him, and she looked mighty queer, I can tell you that's the 
strangest thing I ever heard of and she told him what had happened 
Well, he looked pretty serious and said Yes, I'll never forget the way 
he said it I reckon she saw me. I wasn't there but I was thinking of 
being there and coming up the path at that very moment I've got news 
for you he said who do you suppose I saw to-day why, I've no idea, 
I said why old Professor Truman he came rushing up to me in town 
and said, see here: where's Eliza I've got a job for her if she wants it, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 223 

teaching school this winter out on Beaverdam why, pshaw, said your 
grandfather, she's never taught school a day in her life and Professor 
Truman laughed just as big as you please and said never you mind 
about that Eliza can do anything she sets her mind on well sir, that's 
the way it all came about." High-sorrowful and sad, she paused for a 
moment, adrift, her white face slanting her life back through the aisled 
grove of years. 

"Well, sir!" said Mr. Leonard vaguely, rubbing his chin, "You 
young rascal, you!" he said, giving Eugene another jerk, and beginning 
to laugh with narcissistic pleasure. 

Eliza pursed her lips slowly. 

"Well," she said, "I'll send him to you for a year." That was the 
way she did business. Tides run deep in Sargasso. 

So, on the hairline of million-minded impulse, destiny bore down 
on his life again. 

Mr. Leonard had leased an old pre-war house, set on a hill wooded 
by magnificent trees. It faced west and south, looking toward Biltburn, 
and abruptly down on South End, and the negro flats that stretched to 
the depot. One day early in September he took Eugene there. They 
walked across town, talking weightily of politics, across the Square, 
down Hatton Avenue, south into Church, and southwesterly along the 
bending road that ended in the schoolhouse on the abutting hill. 

The huge trees made sad autumn music as they entered the grounds. 
In the broad hall of the squat rambling old house Eugene for the first 
time saw Margaret Leonard. She held a broom in her hands, and was 
aproned. But his first impression was of her shocking fragility. 

Margaret Leonard at this time was thirty-four years old. She had 
borne two children, a son who was now six years old, and a daughter 
who was two. As she stood there, with her long slender fingers splayed 
about the broomstick, he noted, with a momentary cold nausea, that 
the tip of her right index finger was flattened out as if it had been crushed 
beyond healing by a hammer. But it was years before he knew that 
tuberculars sometimes have such fingers. 

Margaret Leonard was of middling height, five feet six inches per- 



224 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

haps. As the giddiness of his embarrassment wore off, he saw that she 
could not weigh more than eighty or ninety pounds. He had heard of 
the children. Now he remembered them, and Leonard's white muscular 
bulk, with a sense of horror. His swift vision leaped at once to the 
sexual relation, and something in him twisted aside, incredulous and 
afraid. 

She had on a dress of crisp gray gingham, not loose or lapping 
round her wasted figure, but hiding every line in her body, like a draped 
stick. 

As his mind groped out of the pain of impression he heard her 
voice and, still feeling within him the strange convulsive shame, he lifted 
his eyes to her face. It was the most tranquil and the most passionate 
face he had ever seen. The skin was sallow with a dead ashen tinge; 
beneath, the delicate bone-carving of face and skull traced itself clearly : 
the cadaverous tightness of those who are about to die had been checked. 
She had won her way back just far enough to balance carefully in the 
scales of disease and recovery. It was necessary for her to measure 
everything she did. 

Her thin face was given a touch of shrewdness and decision by the 
straight line of her nose, the fine long carving of her chin. Beneath the 
sallow minutely pitted skin in her cheeks, and about her mouth, several 
frayed nerve-centres twitched from moment to moment, jarring the skin 
slightly without contorting or destroying the passionate calm beauty 
that fed her inexhaustibly from within. This face was the constant field 
of conflict, nearly always calm, but always reflecting the incessant strug- 
gle and victory of the enormous energy that inhabited her, over the 
thousand jangling devils of depletion and weariness that tried to pull 
her apart. There was always written upon her the epic poetry of beauty 
and repose out of struggle he never ceased to feel that she had her 
hand around the reins of her heart, that gathered into her grasp were all 
the straining wires and sinews of disunion which would scatter and un- 
joint her members, once she let go. Literally, physically, he felt that, the 
great tide of valiance once flowed out of her, she would immediately go 
to pieces. 

She was like some great general, famous, tranquil, wounded unto 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



225 



death, who, with his fingers clamped across a severed artery, stops for 
an hour the ebbing of his life sends on the battle. 

Her hair was coarse and dull-brown, fairly abundant, tinged lightly 
with gray: it was combed evenly in the middle and bound tightly m a 
knot behind. Everything about her was very clean, like a scrubbed 
kitchen board: she took his hand, he felt the firm nervous vitality of 




her fingers, and he noticed how clean and scrubbed her thin somewhat 
labor-worn hands were. If he noticed her emaciation at all now, it was 
only with a sense of her purification: he felt himself in union not with 
disease, but with the greatest health he had ever known. She made a 
high music in him. His heart lifted. 

"This," said Mr. Leonard, stroking him gently across the kidneys, 
"is Mister Eugene Gant." 

"Well, sir," she said, in a low voice, in which a vibrant wire was 
thrumming, "I'm glad to know you." The voice had in it that quality 
of quiet wonder that he had sometimes heard in the voices of people 
who had seen or were told of some strange event, or coincidence, that 



226 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

seemed to reach beyond life, beyond nature a note of acceptance; and 
suddenly he knew that all life seemed eternally strange to this woman, 
that she looked directly into the beauty and the mystery and the tragedy 
in the hearts of men, and that he seemed beautiful to her. 

Her face darkened with the strange passionate vitality that left no 
print, that lived there bodiless like life; her brown eyes darkened into 
black as if a bird had flown through them and left the shadow of its 
wings. She saw his small remote face burning strangely at the end of 
his long unfleshed body, she saw the straight thin shanks, the big feet 
turned awkwardly inward, the dusty patches on his stockings at the 
knees, and his thin wristy arms that stuck out painfully below his cheap 
ill-fitting jacket; she saw the thin hunched line of his shoulders, the 
tangled mass of hair and she did not laugh. 

He turned his face up to her as a prisoner who recovers light, as a 
man long pent in darkness who bathes himself in the great pool of dawn, 
as a blind man who feels upon his eyes the white core and essence of 
immutable brightness. His body drank in her great light as a famished 
castaway the rain: he closed his eyes and let the great light bathe him, 
and when he opened them again, he saw that her own were luminous 
and wet. 

Then she began to laugh. "Why, Mr. Leonard," she said, "what 
in the world! He's almost as tall as you. Here, boy. Stand up here 
while I measure." Deft-fingered, she put them back to back. Mr. 
Leonard was two or three inches taller than Eugene. He began to whine 
with laughter. 

"Why, the rascal," he said. "That little shaver." 

"How old are you, boy?" she asked. 

"I'll be twelve next month," he said. 

"Well, what do you know about that!" she said wondenngly. "I 
tell you what, though," she continued. "We've got to get some meat 
on those bones. You can't go around like that. I don't like the way 
you look." She shook her head. 

He was uncomfortable, disturbed, vaguely resentful. U embar- 
rassed and frightened him to be told that he was "delicate"; it touched 
sharply on his pride. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 227 

She took him into a big room on the left that had been fitted out 
as a living-room and library. She watched his face light with eagerness 
as he saw the fifteen hundred or two thousand books shelved away in 
various places. He sat down clumsily in a wicker chair by the table and 
waited until she returned, bringing him a plate of sandwiches and a tall 
glass full of clabber, which he had never tasted before. 

When he had finished, she drew a chair near to his, and sat down. 
She had previously sent Leonard out on some barnyard errands; he 
could be heard from time to time shouting in an authoritative country 
voice to his live stock. 

"Well, tell me boy," she said, "what have you been reading?" 

Craftily he picked his way across the waste land of printery, naming 
as his favorites those books which he felt would win her approval. As 
he had read everything, good and bad, that the town library contained, 
he was able to make an impressive showing. Sometimes she stopped 
him to question about a book he rebuilt the story richly with a blazing 
tenacity of detail that satisfied her wholly. She was excited and eager 
she saw at once how abundantly she could feed this ravenous hunger for 
knowledge, experience, wisdom. And he knew suddenly the joy of obed- 
ience: the wild ignorant groping, the blind hunt, the desperate baffled 
desire was now to be ruddered, guided, controlled. The way through 
the passage to India, that he had never been able to find, would now be 
charted for him. Before he went away she had given him a fat volume 
of nine hundred pages, shot through with spirited engravings of love 
and battle, of the period he loved best. 

He was drowned deep at midnight m the destiny of the man who 
killed the bear, the burner of windmills and the scourge of banditry, in 
all the life of road and tavern in the Middle Ages, m valiant and beautiful 
Gerard, the seed of genius, the father of Erasmus. Eugene thought The 
Cloister and the Hearth the best story he had ever read. 

The Altamont Fitting School was the greatest venture of their lives. 
All the delayed success that Leonard had dreamed of as a younger man 
he hoped to realize now. For him the school was independence, master- 
ship, power, and, he hoped, prosperity. For her, teaching was its own 



228 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

exceeding great reward her lyric music, her life, the world in which 
plastically she built to beauty what was good, the lord of her soul that 
gave her spirit life while he broke her body. 

In the cruel volcano of the boy's mind, the little brier moths of his 
idolatry wavered in to their strange marriage and were consumed. One 
by one the merciless years reaped down his gods and captains. What 
had lived up to hope? What had withstood the scourge of growth and 
memory? Why had the gold become so dim? All of his life, it seemed, 
his blazing loyalties began with men and ended with images; the life 
he leaned on melted below his weight, and looking down, he saw he 
clasped a statue; but enduring, a victorious reality amid his shadow- 
haunted heart, she remained, who first had touched his blinded eyes 
with light, who nested his hooded houseless soul. She remained. 

O death in life that turns our men to stone! O change that levels 
down our gods! If only one lives yet, above the cinders of the con- 
suming years, shall not this dust awaken, shall not dead faith revive, 
shall we not see God again, as once in morning, on the mountain? Who 
walks with us on the hills? 





17 

liugene spent the next four years of his life in Leonard's school. 
Against the bleak horror of Dixieland, against the dark road of pain 
and death down which the great limbs of Gant had already begun to 
slope, against all the loneliness and imprisonment of his own life which 
had gnawed him like hunger, these years at Leonard's bloomed like 
golden apples. 

From Leonard he got little a dry campaign over an arid waste 
of Latin prose: first, a harsh, stiff, unintelligent skirmishing among the 
rules of grammar, which frightened and bewildered him needlessly, and 
gave him for years an unhealthy dislike of syntax, and an absurd 
prejudice against the laws on which the language was built. Then, a 
year's study of the lean, clear precision of Caesar, the magnificent struc- 
ture of the style the concision, the skeleton certainty, deadened by the 
disjointed daily partition, the dull parsing, the lumbering cliche of 
pedantic translation: 

"Having done all things that were necessary, and the season now 
being propitious for carrying on war, Caesar began to arrange his legions 
in battle array." 

229 



230 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

All the dark pageantry of war in Gaul, the thrust of the Roman 
spear through the shield of hide, the barbaric parleys in the forests, and 
the proud clangor of triumph all that might have been supplied in the 
story of the great realist, by one touch of the transforming passion with 
which a great teacher projects his work, was lacking. 

Instead, glibly, the wheels ground on into the hard rut of method 
and memory. March 12, last year three days late. Cogitata. Neut.pl. 
of participle used as substantive. Quo used instead of ut to express 
purpose when comparative follows. Eighty lines for to-morrow. 

They spent a weary age, two years, on that dull dog, Cicero. De 
Senectute. De Amicitia. They skirted Virgil because John Dorsey 
Leonard was a bad sailor he was not at all sure of Virgilian navigation. 
He hated exploration. He distrusted voyages. Next year, he said. And 
the great names of Ovid, lord of the elves and gnomes, the Bacchic piper 
of Amores, or of Lucretius, full of the rhythm of tides. Nox est per pet ua. 

"Huh?" drawled Mr. Leonard, vacantly beginning to laugh. He 
was fingermarked with chalk from chin to crotch. Stephen ("Pap") 
Rheinhart leaned forward gently and fleshed his penpoint in Eugene 
Gant's left rump. Eugene grunted painfully. 

"Why, no," said Mr. Leonard, stroking his chin. "A different sort 
of Latin." 

"What sort?" Tom Davis insisted. "Harder than Cicero?" 

"Well, said Mr. Leonard, dubiously, "different. A little beyond 
you at present." 

" est perpetua. Una dormienda. Luna dies et nox" 

"Is Latin poetry hard to read?" Eugene said. 

"Well," said Mr. Leonard, shaking his head. "It's not easy. 
Horace " he began carefully. 

"He wrote Odes and Epodes," said Tom Davis. "What is an Epode, 
Mr. Leonard?" 

"Why," said Mr. Leonard reflectively, "it's a form of poetry." 

"Hell!" said "Pap" Rheinhart in a rude whisper to Eugene. "I 
knew that before I paid tuition." 

Smiling lusciously, and stroking himself with gentle fingers, Mr. 
Leonard turned back to the lesson. 

"Now let me see," he began. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 231 

"Who was Catullus?" Eugene shouted violently. Like a flung spear 
in his brain, the name. 

"He was a poet," Mr. Leonard answered thoughtlessly, quickly, 
startled. He regretted. 

"What sort of poetry did he write?" asked Eugene. 

There was no answer. 

"Was it like Horace?" 

"No-o," said Mr. Leonard reflectively. "It wasn't exactly like 
Horace." 

"What was it like?" said Tom Davis. 

"Like your granny's gut," "Pap" Rheinhart toughly whispered. 

"Why he wrote on topics of general interest in his day," said 
Mr. Leonard easily. 

"Did he write about being in love?" said Eugene in a quivering 
voice. 

Tom Davis turned a surprised face on him. 

"Gre-a-at Day!" he exclaimed, after a moment. Then he began to 
laugh. 

"He wrote about being in love," Eugene cried with sudden certain 
passion. "He wrote about being in love with a lady named Lesbia. Ask 
Mr. Leonard if you don't believe me." 

They turned thirsty faces up to him. 

"Why no yes I don't know about all that," said Mr. Leonard, 
challengingly, confused. "Where' d you hear all this, boy?" 

"I read it in a book," said Eugene, wondering where. Like a flung 
spear, the name. 

Whose tongue was fanged like a serpent, flung spear of ecstasy 
and passion. 

Odi et amo: quare idfaciam . . . 

"Well, not altogether," said Mr. Leonard. "Some of them," he 
conceded. 

. . . fortasse requiris. Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior. 

"Who was she?" said Tom Davis. 

"Oh, it was the custom in those days," said Mr. Leonard care- 
lessly. "Like Dante and Beatrice. It was a way the poet had of paying 
a compliment." 



232 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

The serpent whispered. There was a distillation of wild exultancy 
in his blood. The rags of obedience, servility, reverential awe dropped 
in a belt around him. 

"She was a man's wife!" he said loudly. "That's who she was." 

Awful stillness. 

"Why here who told you that?" said Mr. Leonard, bewildered, 
but considering matrimony a wild and possibly dangerous myth. "Who 
told you, boy?" 

"What was she, then?" said Tom Davis pointedly. 

"Why not exactly," Mr. Leonard murmured, rubbing his chin. 

"She was a Bad Woman," said Eugene. Then, most desperately, he 
added: "She was a Little Chippie." 

"Pap" Rheinhart drew in his breath sharply. 

"What's that, what's that, what's that?" cried Mr. Leonard rapidly 
when he could speak. Fury boiled up in him. He sprang from his chair. 
"What did you say, boy?" 

But he thought of Margaret and looked down, with a sudden sense 
of palsy, into the white ruination of boy-face. Too far beyond. He sat 
down again, shaken. 

Whose foulest cry was shafted with his passion, whose greatest 
music flowered out of filth . 

"Nulla potest mulier tantum se dicere amatam 
Vere, quantum a me Lesbia amata mea es" 

"You should be more careful of your talk, Eugene," said Mr. 
Leonard gently. 

"See here!" he exclaimed suddenly, turning with violence to his 
book. "This is getting no work done. Come on, now!" he said heartily, 
spitting upon his intellectual hands. "You rascals you!" he said, noting 
Tom Davis' grin. "I know what you're after you want to take up the 
whole period." 

Tom Davis' heavy laughter boomed out, mingling with his own 
whine. 

"All right, Tom," said Mr. Leonard briskly, "page 43, section 6, 
line 15. Begin at that point." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 233 

At this moment the bell rang and Tom Davis' laughter filled the 



room. 



Nevertheless, in charted lanes of custom, he gave competent instruc- 
tion. He would perhaps have had difficulty in constructing a page of 
Latin prose and verse with which he had not become literally familiar 
by years of repetition. In Greek, certainly, his deficiency would have 
been even more marked, but he would have known a second aonst or 
an optative in the dark (if he had ever met it before). There were two 
final years of precious Greek: they read the Anabasis. 

"What's the good of all this stuff?" said Tom Davis argumentatively. 

Mr. Leonard was on sure ground here. He understood the value of 
the classics. 

"It teaches a man to appreciate the Finer Things. It gives him the 
foundations of a liberal education. It trains his mind." 

"What good's it going to do him when he goes to work?" said 
"Pap" Rhemhart "It's not going to teach him how to grow more corn." 

"Well I'm not so sure of that," said Mr. Leonard with a protesting 
laugh. "I think it does." 

"Pap" Rheinhart looked at him with a comical cock of the head. 
He had a wry neck, which gave his humorous kindly face a sidelong 
expression of quizzical maturity. 

He had a gruff voice; he was full of rough kindly humor, and chewed 
tobacco constantly. His father was wealthy. He lived on a big farm in 
the Cove, ran a dairy and had a foundry in the town. They were 
unpretending people German stock. 

"Pshaw, Mr. Leonard," said "Pap" Rheinhart. "Are you going to 
talk Latin to your farmhands?" 

"Egibus wantibus a peckibus of cormbus," said Tom Davis with 
sounding laughter. Mr. Leonard laughed with abstracted appreciation. 
The joke was his own. 

"It trains the mind to grapple with problems of all sorts," he said. 

"According to what you say," said Tom Davis, "a man who has 
studied Greek makes a better plumber than one who hasn't." 

"Yes, sir," said Mr. Leonard, shaking his head smartly, "you know, 



234 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

I believe he does." He joined, pleased, with their pleasant laughter, a 
loose slobbering giggle. 

He was on trodden ground. They engaged him in long debates: 
as he ate his lunch, he waved a hot biscuit around, persuasive, sweetly 
reasonable, exhaustively minute in an effort to prove the connection of 
Greek and groceries. The great wind of Athens had touched him not 
at all. Of the delicate and sensuous intelligence of the Greeks, their 
feminine grace, the constructive power and subtlety of their intelli- 
gence, the instability of their character, and the structure, restraint and 
perfection of their forms, he said nothing. 

He had caught a glimpse, in an American college, of the great struc- 
ture of the most architectural of languages: he felt the sculptural per- 
fection of such a word as 7w<ui<os, but his opinions smelled of chalk, 
the classroom, and a very bad lamp Greek was good because it was 
ancient, classic, and academic. The smell of the East, the dark tide of 
the Orient that flowed below, touching the lives of poet and soldier, 
with something perverse, evil, luxurious, was as far from his life as 
Lesbos. He was simply the mouthpiece of a formula of which he was 
assured without having a genuine belief. 

Kal Kara yfjv KCU Kara BaKarrav. 

The mathematics and history teacher was John Dorsey's sister 
Amy. She was a powerful woman, five feet ten inches tall, who weighed 
185 pounds. She had very thick black hair, straight and oily, and very 
black eyes, giving a heavy sensuousness to her face. Her thick forearms 
were fleeced with light down. She was not fat, but she corsetted tightly, 
her powerful arms and heavy shoulders bulging through the cool white 
of her shirtwaists. In warm weather she perspired abundantly: her 
waists were stained below the arm-pits with big spreading blots of sweat; 
in the winter, as she warmed herself by the fire, she had about her the 
exciting odor of chalk, and the strong good smell of a healthy animal. 
Eugene, passing down the wind-swept back porch one day in winter, 
looked in on her room just as her tiny niece opened the door to come 
out. She sat before a dancing coal-fire, after her bath, drawing on her 
stockings. Fascinated, he stared at her broad red shoulders, her big 
body steaming cleanly like a beast. 




She liked the fire and the radiance of warmth: sleepily alert she sat 
by the stove, with her legs spread, sucking in the heat, her large earth 
strength more heavily sensuous than her brother's. Stroked by the slow 
heat-tingle she smiled slowly with indifferent affection on all the boys. 
No men came to see her: like a pool she was thirsty for lips. She sought 
no one. With lazy cat-warmth she smiled on all the world. 

She was a good teacher of mathematics: number to her was innate. 
Lazily she took their tablets, worked answers lazily, smiling good- 
naturedly with contempt. Behind her, at a desk, Durand Jarvis moaned 
passionately to Eugene, and writhed erotically, gripping the leaf of his 
desk fiercely. 

Sister Sheba arrived with her consumptive husband at the end of 



k or/"*riH \ffoi_ 



liahtlv rm the 1in<i with 



<;eventv- 



236 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

three years old. They said he was forty-nine sickness made him look 
old. He was a tall man, six feet three, with long straight mustaches, 
waxen and emaciated as a mandarin. He painted pictures impression- 
ist blobs sheep on a gorsey hill, fishboats at the piers, with a warm red 
jumble of brick buildings in the background. 

Old Gloucester Town, Marblehead, Cape Cod Folks, Captains 
Courageous the rich salty names came reeking up with a smell of 
tarred rope, dry codheads rotting in the sun, rocking dories knee-deep 
in gutted fish, the strong loin-smell of the sea in harbors, and the quiet 
brooding vacancy of a seaman's face, sign of his marriage with ocean. 
How look the seas at dawn in Spring? The cold gulls sleep upon the 
wind. But rose the skies. 

They saw the waxen mandarin walk shakily three times up and 
down the road. It was Spring, there was a south wind high in the big 
trees. He wavered along on a stick, planted before him with a blue 
phthisic hand. His eyes were blue and pale as if he had been drowned. 

He had begotten two children by Sheba girls. They were exotic 
tender blossoms, all black and milky white, as strange and lovely as 
Spring. The boys groped curiously. 

"He must be a better man than he looks yet," said Tom Davis. 
"The little 'un's only two or three years old." 

"He's not as old as he looks," said Eugene. "He looks old because 
he's been sick. He's only forty-nine." 

"How do you know?" said Tom Davis. 

"Miss Amy says so," said Eugene innocently. 

"Pap" Rheinhart cocked his head on Eugene and carried his quid 
deftly on the end of his tongue to the other cheek. 

"Forty-nine!" he said, "you'd better see a doctor, boy. He's as 
old as God." 

"That's what she said," Eugene insisted doggedly. 

"Why, of course she said it!" "Pap" Rheinhart replied. "You don't 
think they're going to let it out, do you? When they're running a school 
here." 

"Son, you must be simple!" said Jack Candler who had not thought 
of it up to now. ~~ 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 237 

"Hell, you're their Pet. They know you'll believe whatever they tell 
you," said Julius Arthur. "Pap" Rheinhart looked at him searchmgly, 
then shook his head as if a cure was impossible. They laughed at his 
faith. 

"Well, if he's so old," said Eugene, "why did old Lady Lattimer 
marry him?" 

"Why, because she couldn't get any one else, of course," said 
"Pap" Rheinhart, impatient at this obtuseness. 

"Do you suppose she has had to keep him up?" said Tom Davis 
curiously. Silently they wondered. And Eugene, as he saw the two 
lovely children fall like petals upon their mother's heavy breast, as he 
saw the waxen artist faltering his last steps to death, and heard Sheba's 
strong voice levelling a conversation at its beginning, expanding in 
violent burlesque all of her opinions, was bewildered again before the 
unsearchable riddle out of death, life, out of the coarse rank earth, a 
flower. 

His faith was above conviction. Disillusion had come so often that 
it had awakened in him a strain of bitter suspicion, an occasional mock- 
ery, virulent, coarse, cruel, and subtle, which was all the more scalding 
because of his own pain. Unknowingly, he had begun to build up in 
himself a vast mythology for which he cared all the more deeply because 
he realized its untruth. Brokenly, obscurely, he was beginning to feel 
that it was not truth that men must live for the creative men but for 
falsehood. At times his devouring, unsated brain seemed to be beyond 
his governance: it was a frightful bird whose beak was in his heart, 
whose talons tore unceasingly at his bowels. And this unsleeping demon 
wheeled, plunged, revolved about an object, returning suddenly, after it 
had flown away, with victorious malice, leaving stripped, mean, and 
common all that he had clothed with wonder. 

But he saw hopefully that he never learned that what remained 
was the tinsel and the gold. He was so bitter with his tongue because 
his heart believed so much. 

The merciless brain lay coiled and alert like a snake, it saw every 
gesture, every quick glance above his head, the shoddy scaffolding of 
all deception. But these people existed for him in a world remote from 



238 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

human error. He opened one window of his heart to Margaret, together 
they entered the sacred grove of poetry ; but all dark desire, the dream of 
fair forms, and all the misery, drunkenness, and disorder of his life at 
home he kept fearfully shut. He was afraid they would hear. Desper- 
ately he wondered how many of the boys had heard of it. And all the 
facts that levelled Margaret down to life, that plunged her in the defiling 
stream of life, were as unreal and horrible as a nightmare. 

That she had been near death from tuberculosis, that the violent 
and garrulous Sheba had married an old man, who had begotten two 
children and was now about to die, that the whole little family, power- 
ful in cohesive fidelity, were nursing their great sores in privacy, build- 
ing up before the sharp eyes and rattling tongues of young boys a 
barrier of flimsy pretense and evasion, numbed him with a sense of un- 
reality. 

Eugene believed in the glory and the gold. 



He lived more at Dixieland now. He had been more closely bound 
to Eliza since he began at Leonard's. Gant, Helen, and Luke were 
scornful of the private school. The children were resentful of it a little 
jealous. And their temper was barbed now with a new sting. They would 
say: 

"You've ruined him completely since you sent him to a private 
school." Or, "He's too good to soil his hands now that he's quit the 
public school." 

Eliza herself kept him sufficiently reminded of his obligation. She 
spoke often of the effort she had to make to pay the tuition fee, and of 
her poverty. She said, he must work hard, and help her all he could 
in his spare hours. He should also help her through the summer and 
"drum up trade" among the arriving tourists at the station. 

"For God's sake! What's the matter with you?" Luke jeered. 
"You're not ashamed to do a little honest work, are you?" 

This way, sir, for Dixieland. Mrs. Eliza E. Gant, proprietor. Just 
A Whisper Off The Square, Captain. All the comforts of the Modern 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 239 

Jail. Biscuits and home-made pies just like mother should have made 
but didn't. 

That boy's a hustler. 

At the end of Eugene's first year at Leonard's, Eliza told John 
Dorsey she could no longer afford to pay the tuition. He conferred with 
Margaret and, returning, agreed to take the boy for half price. 

"He can help you drum up new prospects," said Eliza, 

"Yes," Leonard agreed, "that's the very thing." 



Ben bought a new pair of shoes. They were tan. He paid six dollars 
for them. He always bought good things. But they burnt the soles of 
his feet. In a scowling rage he loped to his room and took them off. 

"Goddam it!" he yelled, and hurled them at the wall. Eliza came 
to the door. 

"You'll never have a penny, boy, as long as you waste money the 
way you do. I tell you what, it's pretty bad when you think of it." She 
shook her head sadly with puckered mouth. 

"O for God's sake!" he growled. "Listen to this! By God, you 
never hear me asking any one for anything, do you?" he burst out in a 
rage. 

She took the shoes and gave them to Eugene. 

"It would be a pity to throw away a good pair of shoes," she said. 
"Try 'em on, boy." 

He tried them on. His feet were already bigger than Ben's. He 
walked about carefully and painfully a few steps. 

"How do they feel?" asked Eliza. 

"All right, I guess," he said doubtfully. "They're a little tight." 

He liked their clean strength, the good smell of leather. They were 
the best shoes he had ever had. 

Ben entered the kitchen. 

"You little brute!" he said. "You've a foot like a mule." Scowl- 
ing, he knelt and touched the straining leather at the toes. Eugene 
winced. 

"Mama, for God's sake," Ben cried out irritably, "don't make the 



240 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

kid wear them if they're too small. I'll buy him a pair myself if you're 
too stingy to spend the money." 

"Why, what's wrong with these?" said Eliza. She pressed them 
with her fingers. "Why, pshaw!" she said. "There's nothing wrong 
with them. All shoes are a little tight at first. It won't hurt him a bit." 

But he had to give up at the end of six weeks. The hard leather did 
not stretch, his feet hurt more every day. He limped about more and 
more painfully until he planted each step woodenly as if he were walk- 
ing on blocks. His feet were numb and dead, sore on the palms. One 
day, m a rage, Ben flung him down and took them off. It was several 
days before he began to walk with ease again. But his toes that had 
grown through boyhood straight and strong were pressed into a pulp, 
the bones gnarled, bent and twisted, the nails thick and dead. 

"It does seem a pity to throw those good shoes away," sighed Eliza. 

But she had strange fits of generosity. He didn't understand. 

A girl came down to Altamont from the west. She was from Sevier, 
a mountain town, she said. She had a big brown body, and the black 
hair and eyes of a Cherokee Indian. 

"Mark my words," said Gant. "That girl's got Cherokee blood in 
her somewhere." 

She took a room, and for days rocked back and forth in a chair 
before the parlor fire. She was shy, frightened, a little sullen her man- 
ners were country and decorous. She never spoke unless she was spoken 
to. 

Sometimes she was sick and stayed in bed. Eliza took her food 
then, and was extremely kind to her. 

Day after day the girl rocked back and forth, all through the stormy 
autumn. Eugene could hear her large feet as rhythmically they hit the 
floor, ceaselessly propelling the rocker. Her name was Mrs. Morgan. 

One day as he laid large crackling lumps upon the piled glowing 
mass of coals, Eliza entered the room. Mrs. Morgan rocked away 
stolidly. Eliza stood by the fire for a moment, pursing her lips reflec- 
tively, and folding her hands quietly upon her stomach. She looked out 
the window at the stormy sky, the swept windy bareness of the street. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 241 

"I tell you what," she said, "it looks like a hard winter for the 
poor folks." 

"Yes'm," said Mrs. Morgan sullenly. She kept on rocking. 

Eliza was silent a moment longer. 

"Where's your husband?" she asked presently. 

"In Sevier," Mrs. Morgan said. "He's a railroad man." 

"What's that, what's that?" said Eliza quickly, comically. "A 
railroad man, you say?" she inquired sharply. 

"Yes'm." 

"Well, it looks mighty funny to me he hasn't been in to see you," 
said Eliza, with enormous accusing tranquillity." I'd call it a pretty poor 
sort of man who'd act like that." 

Mrs. Morgan said nothing. Her tar-black eyes glittered in fireflame. 

"Have you got any money?" said Eliza. 

"No'm," said Mrs. Morgan. 

Eliza stood solidly, enjoying the warmth, pursing her lips. "When 
do you expect to have your baby?" said Eliza suddenly. 

Mrs. Morgan said nothing for a moment. She kept on rocking. 

"In less'n a month now, I reckon," she answered. 

She had been getting bigger week after week. 

Eliza bent over and pulled her skirt up, revealing her leg to the 
knee, cotton-stockinged and lumpily wadded with her heavy flannels. 

"Whew!" she cried out coyly, noticing that Eugene was staring. 
"Turn your head, boy," she commanded, snickering and rubbing her 
finger along her nose. The dull green of rolled banknotes shone through 
her stockings. She pulled the bills out. 

"Well, 1 reckon you'll have to have a little money," said Eliza, 
peeling off two tens, and giving them to Mrs. Morgan. 

"Thank you, ma'am," said Mrs. Morgan, taking the money. 

"You can stay here until you're able to work again," said Eliza. 
"I know a good doctor." 



"Mama, in heaven's name," Helen fumed. "Where on earth do you 
get these people?" 



242 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Merciful God!" howled Gant, "you've had 'em all blind, lame, 
crazy, chippies and bastards. They all come here." 

Nevertheless, when he saw Mrs. Morgan now, he always made a 
profound bow, saying with the most florid courtesy: 

"How do you do, madam?" Aside, to Helen, he said: 

"I tell you what she's a fine-looking girl." 

"Hahahaha," said Helen, laughing in an ironic falsetto, and prod- 
ding him, "you wouldn't mind having her yourself, would you?" 

"B'God," he said humorously, wetting his thumb, and grinning 
slyly at Eliza, "she's got a pair of pippins." 

Eliza smiled bitterly into popping grease. 

"Hm!" she said disdainfully. "I don't care how many he goes 
with. There's no fool like an old fool. You'd better not be too smart. 
That's a game two can play at." 

"Hahahahaha!" laughed Helen thinly, "she's mad now." 

Helen took Mrs. Morgan often to Gant's and cooked great meals 
for her. She also brought her presents of candy and scented soap from 
town. 

They called in McGuire at the birth of the child. From below 
Eugene heard the quiet commotion in the upstairs room, the low moans 
of the woman, and finally a high piercing wail. Eliza, greatly excited, 
kept kettles seething with hot water constantly over the gas flame of 
the stove. From time to time she rushed upstairs with a boiling kettle, 
descending a moment later more slowly, pausing from step to step while 
she listened attentively to the sounds in the room. 

"After all," said Helen, banging kettles about restlessly in the 
kitchen, "what do we know about her? Nobody can say she hasn't got 
a husband, can they? They'd better be careful! People have no right to 
say those things," she cried out irritably against unknown detractors. 

It was night. Eugene went out on to the veranda. The air was 
frosty, clear, not very cool. Above the black bulk of the eastern hills, 
and in the great bowl of the sky, far bright stars were scintillant as 
jewels. The light burned brightly in neighborhood houses, as bright as 
and hard as if carved from some cold gem. Across the wide yard-spaces 
wafted the warm odor of hamburger steak and fried onions. Ben stood 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 243 

inhalations. Eugene went over and stood by him. They heard the wail 
upstairs. Eugene snickered, looking up at the thin ivory mask. Ben 
lifted his white hand sharply to strike him, but dropped it with a growl 
of contempt, smiling faintly. Far before them, on the top of Birdseye, 
faint lights wavered in the rich Jew's castle. In the neighborhood there 
was a slight mist of supper, and frost-far voices. 

Deep womb, dark flower. The Hidden. The secret fruit, heart-red, 
fed by rich Indian blood. Womb-night brooding darkness flowering 
secretly into life. 

Mrs. Morgan went away two weeks after her child was born. He 
was a little brown-skinned boy, with a tuft of elvish black hair, and 
very black bright eyes. He was like a little Indian. Before she left Eliza 
gave her twenty dollars. 

"Where are you going?" she asked. 

"I've got folks in Sevier," said Mrs. Morgan. 

She went up the street carrying a cheap imitation-crocodile valise. 
At her shoulder the baby waggled his head, and looked merrily back 
with his bright black eyes. Eliza waved to him and smiled tremulously; 
she turned back into the house sniffling, with wet eyes. 

Why did she come to Dixieland, I wonder? Eugene thought. 

Eliza was good to a little man with a mustache. He had a wife and 
a little girl nine years old. He was a hotel steward; he was out of work 
and he stayed at Dixieland until he owed her more than one hundred 
dollars. But he split kindling neatly, and carried up coal; he did handy 
jobs of carpentry, and painted up rusty places about the house. 

She was very fond of him; he was what she called "a good family 
man." She liked domestic people; she liked men who were house- 
broken. The little man was very kind and very tame. Eugene liked him 
because he made good coffee. Eliza never bothered him about the 
money. Finally, he got work at the Inn, and quarters there. He paid 
Eliza all he owed her. 

Eugene stayed late at the school, returning in the afternoon at three 
or four o'clock. Sometimes it was almost dark when he came back to 



244 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Dixieland. Eliza was fretful at his absences, and brought him his dinner 
crisped and dried from its long heating in the oven. There was a heavy 
vegetable soup thickly glutinous with cabbage, beans, and tomatoes, and 
covered on top with big grease blisters. There would also be warmed- 
over beef, pork or chicken, a dish full of cold lima beans, biscuits, slaw, 
and coffee. 

But the school had become the centre of his heart and life 
Margaret Leonard his spiritual mother. He liked to be there most in 
the afternoons when the crowd of boys had gone, and when he was 
free to wander about the old house, under the singing majesty of great 
trees, exultant in the proud solitude of that fine hill, the clean windy 
rain of the acorns, the tang of burning leaves. He would read wolfishly 
until Margaret discovered him and drove him out under the trees or 
toward the flat court behind Bishop Raper's residence at the entrance, 
which was used for basketball. Here, while the western sky reddened, 
he raced down toward the goal, passing the ball to a companion, 
exulting in his growing swiftness, agility, and expertness in shooting the 
basket. 

Margaret Leonard watched his health jealously, almost morbidly, 
warning him constantly of the terrible consequences that followed phys- 
ical depletion, the years required to build back what had once been 
thrown carelessly away. 

"Look here, boy!" she would begin, stopping him in a quiet boding 
voice. "Come in here a minute. I want to talk to you." 

Somewhat frightened, extremely nervous, he would sit down beside 
her. 

"How much sleep have you been getting?" she asked. 

Hopefully, he said nine hours a night. That should be about right. 

"Well, make it ten," she commanded sternly. "See here, 'Gene, 
you simply can't afford to take chances with your health. Lordy, boy, 
I know what I'm talking about. I've had to pay the price, I tell you. 
You can't do anything in this world without your health, boy." 

"But I'm all right," he protested desperately, frightened. "There's 
nothing wrong with me." 

"You're not strong, boy. You've got to get some meat on your 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 245 

bones. I tell you what, I'm worried by those circles under your eyes. 
Do you keep regular hours?" 

He did not: he hated regular hours. The excitement, the movement, 
the constant moments of crisis at Gant's and Eliza's had him keyed to 
their stimulation. The order and convention of domestic life he had 
never known. He was desperately afraid of regularity. It meant dulness 
and inanition to him. He loved the hour of midnight. 

But obediently he promised her that he would be regular regular 
in eating, sleeping, studying, and exercising. 

But he had not yet learned to play with the crowd. He still feared, 
disliked and distrusted them. 

He shrank from the physical conflict of boy life, but knowing her 
eye was upon him he plunged desperately into their games, his frail 
strength buffeted in the rush of strong legs, the heavy jar of strong 
bodies, picking himself up bruised and sore at heart to follow and join 
again the mill of the burly pack. Day after day to the ache of his body 
was added the ache and shame of his spirit, but he hung on with a pallid 
smile across his lips, and envy and fear of their strength in his heart. He 
parroted faithfully all that John Dorsey had to say about the "spirit 
of fair play," "sportsmanship," "playing the game for the game's sake," 
"accepting defeat or victory with a smile," and so on, but he had no 
genuine belief or understanding. These phrases were current among 
all the boys at the school they had been made somewhat too conscious 
of them and, as he listened, at times the old, inexplicable shame re- 
turned he craned his neck and drew one foot sharply off the ground. 

And Eugene noted, with the old baffling shame again, as this cheap 
tableau of self-conscious, robust, and raucously aggressive boyhood was 
posed, that, for all the mouthing of phrases, the jargon about fair play 
and sportsmanship, the weaker, at Leonard's, was the legitimate prey 
of the stronger. Leonard, beaten by a boy in a play of wits, or in an 
argument for justice, would assert the righteousness of his cause by 
physical violence. These spectacles were ugly and revolting: Eugene 
watched them with sick fascination. 

Leonard himself was not a bad man he was a man of considerable 
character, kindliness, and honest determination. He loved his family, 



246 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

he stood up with some courage against the bigotry in the Methodist 
church, where he was a deacon, and at length had to withdraw because 
of his remarks on Darwin's theory. He was, thus, an example of that 
sad liberalism of the village an advanced thinker among the Method- 
ists, a bearer of the torch at noon, an apologist for the toleration of 
ideas that have been established for fifty years. He tried faithfully to 
do his duties as a teacher. But he was of the earth even his heavy- 
handed violence was of the earth, and had in it the unconscious brutality 
of nature. Although he asserted his interest in "the things of the mind," 
his interest in the soil was much greater, and he had added little to his 
stock of information since leaving college. He was slow-witted and quite 
lacking in the sensitive intuitions of Margaret, who loved the man with 
such passionate fidelity, however, that she seconded all his acts before 
the world. Eugene had even heard her cry out in a shrill, trembly voice 
against a student who had answered her husband insolently: "Why, I'd 
slap his head off! That's what I'd do !" And the boy had trembled, with 
fear and nausea, to see her so. But thus, he knew, could love change 
one. Leonard thought his actions wise and good: he had grown up in 
a tradition that demanded strict obedience to the master, and that would 
not brook opposition to his rulings. He had learned from his father, a 
Tennessee patriarch who ran a farm, preached on Sundays, and put 
down rebellion in his family with a horse-whip and pious prayers, the 
advantages of being God! He thought little boys who resisted him 
should be beaten. 

Upon the sons of his wealthiest and most prominent clients, as 
well as upon his own children, Leonard was careful to inflict no chas- 
tisement, and these young men, arrogantly conscious of their immunity, 
were studious in their insolence and disobedience. The son of the 
Bishop, Justin Raper, a tall thin boy of thirteen, with black hair, a thin 
dark bumpy face, and absurdly petulant lips, typed copies of a dirty 
ballad and sold them among the students at five cents a copy. 

"Madam, your daughter looks very fine, 

Slapoon! 

Madam, your daughter looks very fine, 
Slapoon!" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 247 

Moreover, Leonard surprised this youth one afternoon in Spring, 
on the eastern flank of the hill, in the thick grass beneath a flowering 
dogwood, united in sexual congress with Miss Hazel Bradley, the daugh- 
ter of a small grocer who lived below on Biltburn Avenue, and whose 
lewdness was already advertised m the town. Leonard, on second 
thought, did not go to the Bishop. He went to the Grocer. 




"Well," said Mr. Bradley, brushing his long mustache reflectively 
away from his mouth, "you ought to put up a no-tresspassin' sign." 

The target of concentrated abuse, both for John Dorsey and the 
boys, was the son of a Jew. The boy's name was Edward Michalove. 
His father was a jeweller, a man with a dark, gentle floridity of manner 
and complexion. He had white delicate fingers. His counters were filled 
with old brooches, gemmed buckles, ancient incrusted watches. The boy 
had two sisters large handsome women. His mother was dead. None 
of them looked Jewish: they all had a soft dark fluescence of appear- 
ance. 

At twelve, he was a tall slender lad, with dark amber features, and 
the mincing effeminacy of an old maid. He was terrified in the company 
of other boys, all that was sharp, spmsterly, and venomous, would come 
protectively to the surface when he was ridiculed or threatened, and he 



248 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

would burst into shrill unpleasant laughter, or hysterical tears. His 
mincing walk, with the constant gesture of catching maidenly at the 
fringe of his coat as he walked along, his high husky voice, with a volup- 
tuous and feminine current playing through it, drew upon him at once 
the terrible battery of their dislike. 

They called him "Miss" Michalove; they badgered him into a state 
of constant hysteria, until he became an unpleasant snarling little cat, 
holding up his small clawed hands to scratch them with his long nails 
whenever they approached; they made him detestable, master and boys 
alike, and they hated him for what they made of him. 

Sobbing one day when he had been kept in after school hours, he 
leaped up and rushed suddenly for the doors. Leonard, breathing ster- 
torously, pounded awkwardly after him, and returned in a moment 
dragging the screaming boy along by the collar. 

"Sit down!" yelled John Dorsey, hurling him into a desk. Then, 
his boiling fury unappeased, and baffled by fear of inflicting some crip- 
pling punishment on the boy, he added illogically: "Stand up!" and 
jerked him to his feet again. 

"You young upstart!" he panted. "You little two-by-two whip- 
persnapper! We'll just see, my sonny, if I'm to be dictated to by the 
like of you." 

"Take your hands off me!" Edward screamed, in an agony of phys- 
ical loathing. "I'll tell my father on you, old man Leonard, and he'll 
come down here and kick your big fat behind all over the lot. See if 
he don't." 

Eugene closed his eyes, unable to witness the snuffing out of a 
young life. He was cold and sick about his heart. But when he opened 
his eyes again Edward, flushed and sobbing, was standing where he 
stood. Nothing had happened. 

Eugene waited for God's visitation upon the unhappy blasphemer. 
He gathered, from the slightly open paralysis that had frozen John 
Dorsey's and Sister Amy's face, that they were waiting too. 

Edward lived. There was nothing beyond this nothing. 

Eugene thought of this young Jew years later with the old piercing 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 249 

shame, with the riving pain by which a man recalls the irrevocable 
moment of some cowardly or dishonorable act. For not only did he 
join in the persecution of the boy he was also glad at heart because 
of the existence of some one weaker than himself, some one at whom 
the flood of ridicule might be directed. Years later it came to him that 
on the narrow shoulders of that Jew lay a burden he might otherwise 
have borne, that that overladen heart was swollen with a misery that 
might have been his. 

Mr. Leonard's "men of to-morrow" were doing nicely. The spirit 
of justice, of physical honor was almost unknown to them, but they 
were loud in proclaiming the letter. Each of them lived in a fear of 
discovery; each of them who was able built up his own defenses of 
swagger, pretense, and loud assertion the great masculine flower of 
gentleness, courage, and honor died in a foul tangle. The great clan of 
go-getter was emergent in young boys big in voice, violent in threat, 
withered and pale at heart the "He-men" were on the rails. 

And Eugene, encysted now completely behind the walls of his 
fantasy, hurled his physical body daily to defeat, imitated, as best he 
could, the speech, gesture, and bearing of his fellows, joined, by act or 
spirit, in the attack on those weaker than himself, and was compensated 
sometimes for his bruises when he heard Margaret say that he was "a 
boy with a fine spirit." She said it very often. 

He was, fortunately, thanks to Gant and Eliza, a creature that was 
dominantly masculine in its sex, but in all his life, either at home or 
in school, he had seldom known victory. Fear he knew well. And so 
incessant, it seemed to him later, had been this tyranny of strength, that 
in his young wild twenties when his great boneframe was powerfully 
fleshed at last, and he heard about him the loud voices, the violent 
assertion, the empty threat, memory would waken in him a maniacal 
anger, and he would hurl the insolent intruding swaggerer from his 
path, thrust back the jostler, glare insanely into fearful surprised faces 
and curse them. 

He never forgot the Jew; he always thought of him with shame. 
But it was many years before he could understand that that sensitive 
and feminine person, bound to him by the secret and terrible bonds of 



250 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



his own dishonor, had in him nothing perverse, nothing unnatural, 
nothing degenerate. He was as much like a woman as a man. That was 
all. There is no place among the Boy Scouts for the androgyne it must 
go to Parnassus. 





18 

In the years that had followed Eliza's removal to Dixieland, by a 
slow inexorable chemistry of union and repellence, profound changes 
had occurred in the alignment of the Gants. Eugene had passed away 
from Helen's earlier guardianship into the keeping of Ben This separa- 
tion was inevitable. The great affection she had shown him when he 
was a young child was based not on any deep kinship of mind or body 
or spirit, but on her vast maternal feeling, something that poured from 
her in a cataract of tenderness and cruelty upon young, weak, plastic 
life. 

The time had passed when she could tousle him on the bed in a 
smother of slaps and kisses, crushing him, stroking him, biting and 
kissing his young flesh. He was not so attractive physically he had lost 
the round contours of infancy, he had grown up like a weed, his limbs 
were long and gangling, his feet large, his shoulders bony, and his head 
too big and heavy for the scrawny neck on which it sagged forward. 
Moreover, he sank deeper year by year into the secret life, a strange wild 
thing bloomed darkly in his face, and when she spoke to him his eyes 
were filled with the shadows of great ships and cities. 

And this secret life, which she could never touch, and which she 

251 



252 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

could never understand, choked her with fury. It was necessary for her 
to seize life in her big red-knuckled hands, to cuff and caress it, to fondle, 
love, and enslave it. Her boiling energy rushed outward on all things 
that lived in the touch of the sun. It was necessary for her to dominate 
and enslave, all her virtues her strong lust to serve, to give, to nurse, 
to amuse came from the imperative need for dominance over almost 
all she touched. 

She was herself ungovernable; she disliked whatever did not yield 
to her governance. In his loneliness he would have yielded his spirit 
into bondage willingly if in exchange he might have had her love which 
so strangely he had forfeited, but he was unable to reveal to her the 
flowering ecstasies, the dark and incommunicable fantasies in which his 
life was bound. She hated secrecy; an air of mystery, a crafty but know- 
ing reticence, or the unfathomable depths of other-worldliness goaded 
her to fury. 

Convulsed by a momentary rush of hatred, she would caricature 
the pout of his lips, the droop of his head, his bounding kangaroo walk. 

"You little freak. You nasty little freak. You don't even know 
who you are you little bastard. You're not a Gant. Any one can see 
that. You haven't a drop of papa's blood in you. Queer one! Queer 
one! You're Greeley Pentland all over again." 

She always returned to this she was fanatically partisan, her hys- 
terical superstition had already lined the family in embattled groups of 
those who were Gant and those who were Pentland. On the Pentland 
side, she placed Steve, Daisy, and Eugene they were, she thought, the 
"cold and selfish ones," and the implication of the older sister and the 
younger brother with the criminal member of the family gave her an 
added pleasure. Her union with Luke was now inseparable. It had 
been inevitable. They were the Gants those who were generous, fine, 
and honorable. 

The love of Luke and Helen was epic. They found in each other 
the constant effervescence, the boundless extraversion, the richness, the 
loudness, the desperate need to give and to serve that was life to them. 
They exacerbated the nerves of each other, but their love was beyond 
grievance, and their songs of praise were extravagant. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 253 

"I'll criticise him if I like," she said pugnaciously. "I've got the 
right to. But I won't hear any one else criticise him. He's a fine gener- 
ous boy the finest one in this family. That's one thing sure." 

Ben alone seemed to be without the grouping. He moved among 
them like a shadow he was remote from their passionate fullblooded 
partisanship. But she thought of him as "generous" he was, she 
concluded, a "Gant." 

In spite of this violent dislike for the Pentlands, both Helen and 
Luke had inherited all Gant's social hypocrisy. They wanted above 
all else to put a good face on before the world, to be well liked and to 
have many friends. They were profuse in their thanks, extravagant in 
their praise, cloying m their flattery. They slathered it on. They kept 
their ill-temper, their nervousness, and their irritability for exhibition 
at home. And in the presence of any members of Jim or Will Pentland's 
family their manner was not only friendly, it was even touched slightly 
with servility. Money impressed them. 

It was a period of incessant movement in the family. Steve had 
married a year or two before a woman from a small town in lower 
Indiana. She was thirty-seven years old, twelve years his senior, a squat 
heavy German with a big nose and a patient and ugly face. She had 
come to Dixieland one summer with another woman, a spinster of life- 
long acquaintance, and allowed him to seduce her before she left. The 
winter following, her father, a small manufacturer of cigars, had died, 
leaving her $9,000 in insurance, his home, a small sum of money in 
the bank, and a quarter share in his business, which was left to the 
management of his two sons. 

Early m Spring the woman, whose name was Margaret Lutz, re- 
turned to Dixieland. One drowsy afternoon Eugene found them at 
Gant's. The house was deserted save for them. They were sprawled 
out face downward, with their hands across each other's hips, on Gant's 
bed. They lay there silently, while he looked, in an ugly stupor. Steve's 
yellow odor filled the room. Eugene began to tremble with insane fury. 
The Spring was warm and lovely, the air brooded slightly in a flowering 
breeze, there was a smell of soft tar. He had come down to the empty 
house exultantly, tasting its delicious silence, the cool mustmess of in- 



254 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

doors, and a solitary afternoon with great calf volumes. In a moment 
the world turned hag. 

There was nothing that Steve touched that he did not taint. 

Eugene hated him because he stunk, because all that he touched 
stunk, because he brought fear, shame, and loathing wherever he went; 
because his kisses were fouler than his curses, his whines nastier than 
his threats. He saw the woman's hair blown gently by the blubbered 
exhalations of his brother's foul breath. 

"What are you doing there on papa's bed?" he screamed. 

Steve rose stupidly and seized him by the arm. The woman sat 
up, dopily staring, her short legs widened. 

"I suppose you're going to be a little Tattle-tale," said Steve, blud- 
geoning him with heavy contempt. "You're going to run right up and 
tell mama, aren't you?" he said. He fastened his yellow fingers on 
Eugene's arm. 

"Get off papa's bed," said Eugene desperately. He jerked his arm 
away. 

"You're not going to tell on us, buddy, are you?" Steve wheedled, 
breathing pollution in his face. 

He grew sick. 

"Let me go," he muttered. "No." 

Steve and Margaret were married soon after. With the old sense 
of physical shame Eugene watched them descend the stairs at Dixieland 
each morning for breakfast. Steve swaggered absurdly, smiled com- 
placently, and hinted at great fortune about the town. There was rumor 
of a quarter-million. 

"Put it there, Steve," said Harry Tugman, slapping him powerfully 
upon the shoulder. "By God, I always said you'd get there." 

Eliza smiled at swagger and boast, her proud, pleased, tremulous 
sad smile. The first-born. 

"Little Stevie doesn't have to worry any longer," said he. "He's 
on Easy Street. Where are all the Wise Guys now who said 4 I told you 
so'? They're all mighty glad to give Little Stevie a Big Smile and the 
Glad Hand when he breezes down the street. Every Knocker is a Booster 
now all right, all right." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 255 

"I tell you what," said Eliza with proud smiles, "he's no fool. He's 
as bright as the next one when he wants to be." Brighter, she thought. 

Steve bought new clothes, tan shoes, striped silk shirts, and a wide 
straw hat with a red, white and blue band. He swung his shoulders in a 
wide arc as he walked, snapped his fingers nonchalantly, and smiled 
with elaborate condescension on those who greeted him. Helen was 
vastly annoyed and amused; she had to laugh at his absurd strut, and 
she had a great rush of feeling for Margaret Lutz. She called her 
""honey," felt her eyes mist warmly with unaccountable tears as she 
looked into the patient, bewildered, and slightly frightened face of the 
German woman. She took her in her arms and fondled her. 

"That's all right, honey," she said, "you let us know if he doesn't 
treat you right. We'll fix him." 

"Steve's a good boy," said Margaret, "when he isn't drinking. I've 
nothing to say against him when he's sober." She burst into tears. 

"That awful, that awful curse," said Eliza, shaking her head sadly, 
"the curse of licker. It's been responsible for the ruination of more 
homes than anything else." 

"Well, she'll never win any beauty prizes, that's one thing sure," 
said Helen privately to Eliza. 

"I'll vow!" said Eliza. 

"What on earth did he mean by doing such a thing!" she con- 
tinued. "She's ten years older than he if she's a day." 

"I think he's done pretty well, if you ask me," said Helen, annoyed. 
"Good heavens, mama! You talk as if he's some sort of prize. Every 
one in town knows what Steve is." She laughed ironically and angrily. 
"No, indeed! He got the best of the bargain. Margaret's a decent girl." 

"Well," said Eliza hopefully, "maybe he's going to brace up now 
and make a new start He's promised that he'd try " 

"Well, I should hope so," said Helen scathingly. "I should hope 
so. It's about time." 

Her dislike for him was innate. She had placed him among the 
tribe of the Pentlands. But he was really more like Gant than any one 
else. He was like Gant in all his weakness, with none of his cleanliness, 
his lean fibre, his remorse. In her heart she knew this and it increased 



256 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

her dislike for him. She shared in the fierce antagonism Gant felt 
toward his son. But her feeling was broken, as was all her feeling, by 
moments of friendliness, charity, tolerance. 

"What are you going to do, Steve?" she asked. "You've got a 
family now, you know." 

"Little Stevie doesn't have to worry any longer," he said, smiling 
easily. "He lets the others do the worrying." He lifted his yellow fingers 
to his mouth, drawing deeply at a cigarette. 

"Good heavens, Steve," she burst out angrily. "Pull yourself to- 
gether and try to be a man for once. Margaret's a woman. You surely 
don't expect her to keep you up, do you?" 

"What business is that of yours, for Christ's sake?" he said in a 
high ugly voice. "Nobody's asked your advice, have they? All of you 
are against me. None of you had a good word for me when I was down 
and out, and now it gets your goat to see me make good." He had 
believed for years that he was persecuted his failure at home he attrib- 
uted to the malice, envy, and disloyalty of his family, his failure abroad 
to the malice and envy of an opposing force that he called "the world." 

"No," he said, taking another long puff at the moist cigarette, 
"don't worry about Stevie. He doesn't need anything from any of you, 
and you don't hear him asking for anything. You see that, don't you?" 
he said, pulling a roll of banknotes from his pocket and peeling off a 
few twenties. "Well, there's lots more where that came from. And I'll 
tell you something else: Little Stevie will be right up there among the 
Big Boys soon. He's got a couple of deals coming off that'll show 
the pikers in this town where to get off. You get that, don't you?" 
he said. 

Ben, who had been sitting on the piano stool all this time, scowling 
savagely at the keys, and humming a little recurrent tune to himself 
while he picked it out with one finger, turned now to Helen, with a sharp 
flicker of his mouth, and jerked his head sideways. 

"I hear Mr. Vanderbilt's getting jealous," he said. 

Helen laughed ironically, huskily. 

"You think you're a pretty wise guy, don't you?" said Steve heav- 
ily. "But I don't notice it's getting you anywhere." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 257 

Ben turned his scowling eyes upon him, and sniffed sharply, 
unconsciously. 

"Now, I hope you're not going to forget your old friends, Mr. 
Rockefeller," he said in his subdued, caressing ominous voice. "I'd like 
to be vice-president if the job's still open." He turned back to the key- 
board and searched with a hooked finger. 

"All right, all right," said Steve. "Go ahead and laugh, both of 
you, if you think it's funny. But you notice that Little Stevie isn't a 
fifteen-dollar clerk in a newspaper office, don't you? And he doesn't 
have to sing in moving-picture shows, either," he added. 

Helen's bigboned face reddened angrily. She had begun to sing in 
public with the saddlemaker's daughter. 

"You'd better not talk, Steve, until you get a job and quit bumming 
around," she said. "You're a fine one to talk, hanging around pool- 
rooms and drug-stores all day on your wife's money. Why, it's absurd!" 
she said furiously. 

"Oh for God's sake!" Ben cried irritably, wheeling around. "What 
do you want to listen to him for? Can't you see he's crazy?" 

As the summer lengthened, Steve began to drink heavily again. 
His decayed teeth, neglected for years, began to ache simultaneously: 
he was wild with pain and cheap whisky. He felt that Eliza and Margaret 
were in some way responsible for his woe he sought them out day 
after day when they were alone, and screamed at them. He called them 
foul names and said they had poisoned his system. 

In the early hours of morning, at two or three o'clock, he would 
waken, and walk through the house weeping and entreating release. 
Eliza would send him to Spaugh at the hotel or to McGwire, at his 
residence, in Eugene's charge. The doctors, surly and half-awake, peeled 
back his shirtsleeve and drove a needle loaded with morphine deep in 
his upper arm. After that, he found relief and sleep again. 

One night, at the supper hour, he returned to Dixieland, holding 
his tortured jaws between his hands. He found Eliza bending over the 
spitting grease of the red-hot stove. He cursed her for bearing him, he 
cursed her for allowing him to have teeth, he cursed her for lack of 
sympathy, motherly love, human kindliness. 



258 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Her white face worked silently above the heat. 

"Get out of here," she said. "You don't know what you're talking 
about. It's that accursed hcker that makes you so mean/' She began 
to weep, brushing at her broad red nose with her hand. 

"I never thought I'd live to hear such talk from a son of mine," 
she said. She held out her forefinger with the old powerful gesture. 

"Now, I want to tell you," she said, "I'm not going to put up with 
you any longer. If you don't get out of here at once I'm going to call 
38 and let them take you." This was the police station. It awoke un- 
pleasant memories. He had spent the day in jail on two similar occa- 
sions. He became more violent than before, screamed a vile name at 
her, and made a motion to strike her. At this moment, Luke entered; 
he was on his way to Gant's. 

The antagonism between the boy and his older brother was deep 
and deadly. It had lasted for years. Now, trembling with anger, Luke 
came to his mother's defense. 

"You m-m-m-miserable d-d-d-degenerate," he stuttered, uncon- 
sciously falling into the swing of the Gantian rhetoric. "You ought to 
b-b-b-be horsewhipped." 

He was a well grown and muscular young fellow of nineteen years, 
but too sensitive to all the taboos of brotherhood to be prepared for 
the attack Steve made on him. Steve drove at him viciously, smashing 
drunkenly at his face with both hands. He was driven gasping and 
blinded across the kitchen. 

Wrong forever on the throne. 

Somewhere, through fear and fury, Eugene heard Ben's voice hum- 
ming unconcernedly, and the slow picked tune on the piano. 

"Ben!" he screamed, dancing about and grasping a hammer. 

Ben entered like a cat. Luke was bleeding warmly from the nose. 

"Come on, come on, you big bastard," said Steve, exalted by his 
success, throwing himself into a fancy boxing posture. "Til take )ou 
on now. You haven't got a chance, Ben," he continued, with elaborate 
pity. "You haven't got a chance, boy. I'll tear your head off with what 
I know." 

Ben scowled quietly at him for a moment while he pranced softly 




about, proposing his fists in Police Gazette attitudes. Then, exploding 
suddenly in maniacal anger, the quiet one sprang upon the amateur 
pugilist with one bound, and flattened him with a single blow of his 
fist. Steve's head bounced upon the floor in a most comforting fashion. 
Eugene gave a loud shriek of ecstasy and danced about, insane with joy, 
while Ben, making little snarling noises in his throat, leaped on his 
brother's prostrate body and thumped his bruised skull upon the 
boards. There was a beautiful thoroughness about his wakened anger 
it never made inquiries till later. 

"Good old Ben," screamed Eugene, howling with insane laughter. 
"Good old Ben." 

Eh/a, who had been calling out loudly for help, the police, and the 
interference of the general public, now succeeded, with Luke's assist- 



"Well, forget about it," she said, "all of you. Life's too short." 

Life was. At these moments, after battle, after all the confusion, 
antagonism, and disorder of their lives had exploded in a moment of 
strife, they gained an hour of respose in which they saw themselves with 
sad tranquillity. They were like men who, driving forward desperately 
at some mirage, turn, for a moment, to see their footprints stretching 
interminably away across the waste land of the desert; or I should say, 
they were like those who have been mad, and who will be mad again, 
but who see themselves for a moment quietly, sanely, at morning, 
looking with sad untroubled eyes into a mirror. 

Their faces were sad. There was great age in them. They felt sud- 
denly the distance they had come and the amount they had lived. They 
had a moment of cohesion, a moment of tragic affection and union, 
vslueh drew them together like small jets of flame against all the senseless 
nihilism of life. 

Margaret came in fearfully Her eyes were red, her broad German 
face \vhite and tearful. A group of excited boarders \\hispered in the 
hall 

"I'll lose them all now/' Eh/a fretted. "The last time three left. 
Over twenty dollars a ueek and money so hard to get. I don't know 
what's to become of us all " She wept again 

"Oh, for heaven's sake/' said Helen impatiently. "Forget about 
the boarders once in a while/' 

Steve sank stupidly into a chair by the long table. From time to 
time he muttered sentimentally to himself. Luke, his face sensitive, hurt, 
ashamed around his mouth, stood by him attentively, spoke gently to 
him, and brought him a glass of water. 

"Give him a cup of coffee, mama/' Helen cried irritably. "For 
heaven's sake, you might do a little for him/' 

"Why here, here," said Eliza, rushing awkwardly to the gas range 
and lighting a burner. "1 never thought I'll have some in a minute." 

Margaret sat in a chair on the other side of the disorderly table, 
leaning her face in her hand and weeping. Her tears dredged little 
gulches through the thick compost of rouge and powder with which she 
coated her rough skin. 



260 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

ance, in checking Ben's assault, and pulling him up from his dazec 
victim. She wept bitterly, her heart laden with pain and sadness, whil 
Luke, forgetful of his bloody nose, sorrowful and full of shame onl' 
because brother had struck brother, assisted Steve to his feet and brushe< 
him off. 

A terrible shame started up in each of them they were unable t< 
meet one another's gaze. Ben's thin face was very white; he trcmblei 
violently and, catching sight of Steve's bleared eyes for a moment, h 
made a retching noise in his throat, went over to the sink, and drank 
glass of cold water. 

"A house divided against itself cannot stand," Eliza wept. 

Helen came in from town with a bag of warm bread and cakes. 

"What's the matter?" she said, noting at once all that had happenec 

"I don't know," said Eliza, her face working, shaking her head fo 
several moments before she spoke. "It seems that the judgment of Go 
is against us. There's been nothing but misery all my life. All I want i 
a little peace." She wept softly, wiping her weak bleared eyes with th 
back of her hand. 

"Well, forget about it," said Helen quietly. Her voice was casua 
weary, sad. "How do you feel, Steve?" she asked. 

"I wouldn't make any trouble for any one, Helen," he said, wit 
a maudlin whimper. "No! No!" he continued in a brooding voic< 
"They've never given Steve a chance. They're all down on him. The 
jumped on me, Helen. My own brothers jumped on me, sick as I an 
and beat me up. It's all right. I'm going away somewhere and try t 
forget. Stevie doesn't hold any grudge against any one. He's not bui 
that way. Give me your hand, buddy," he said, turning to Be 
with nauseous sentimentality and extending his yellow fingers, *Ti 
willing to shake your hand. You hit me to-night, but Steve's willing t 
forget." 

"Oh my God," said Ben, grasping his stomach. He leaned weakl 
across the sink and drank another glass of water. 

"No. No." Steve began again. "Stevie isn't built " 

.He would have continued indefinitely in this strain, but Hcle 
checked him with weary finality. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 261 

"Well, forget about it," she said, "all of you. Life's too short." 

Life was. At these moments, after battle, after all the confusion, 
antagonism, and disorder of their lives had exploded in a moment of 
strife, they gained an hour of respose in which they saw themselves with 
sad tranquillity. They were like men who, driving forward desperately 
at some mirage, turn, for a moment, to see their footprints stretching 
interminably away across the waste land of the desert; or I should say, 
they were like those who have been mad, and who will be mad again, 
but who see themselves for a moment quietly, sanely, at morning, 
looking with sad untroubled eyes into a mirror. 

Their faces were sad There was great age in them. They felt sud- 
denly the distance they had come and the amount they had lived. They 
had a moment of cohesion, a moment of tragic affection and union, 
which drew them together like small jets of flame against all the senseless 
nihilism of life. 

Margaret came in fearfully Her eyes were red, her broad German 
face white and tearful. A group of excited boarders whispered in the 
hall. 

"I'll lose them all now," Eliza fretted. "The last time three left. 
Over twenty dollars a week and money so hard to get. I don't know 
what's to become of us all " She wept again. 

"Oh, for heaven's sake," said Helen impatiently. "Forget about 
the boarders once in a while." 

Steve sank stupidly into a chair by the long table. From time to 
time he muttered sentimentally to himself. Luke, his face sensitive, hurt, 
ashamed around his mouth, stood by him attentively, spoke gently to 
him, and brought him a glass of water. 

"Give him a cup of coffee, mama," Helen cried irritably. "For 
heaven's sake, you might do a little for him." 

"Why here, here," said Eliza, rushing awkwardly to the gas range 
and lighting a burner. "I never thought Hi have some in a minute." 

Margaret sat in a chair on the other side of the disorderly table, 
leaning her face in her hand and weeping. Her tears dredged little 
gulches through the thick compost of rouge and powder with which she 
coated her rough skin. 



262 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Cheer up, honey," said Helen, beginning to laugh. "Christmas is 
coming." She patted the broad German back comfortingly. 

Ben opened the torn screen door and stepped out on the back 
porch. It was a cool night in the rich month of August; the sky was 
deeply pricked with great stars. He lighted a cigarette, holding the 
match with white trembling fingers. There were faint sounds from sum- 
mer porches, the laughter of women, a distant throb of music at a dance. 
Eugene went and stood beside him: he looked up at him with wonder, 
exultancy, and with sadness. He prodded him half with fear, half with 
joy. 

Ben snarled softly at him, made a sudden motion to strike him, 
but stopped. A swift light flickered across his mouth. He smoked. 



Steve went away with the German woman to Indiana, where, at 
first, came news of opulence, fatness, ease, and furs (with photographs), 
later of brawls with her honest brothers, and talk of divorce, reunion 
and renascence. He gravitated between the two poles of his support, 
Margaret and Eliza, returning to Altamont every summer for a period 
of drugs and drunkenness that ended in a family fight, jail, and a 
hospital cure. 

"Hell commences," howled Gant, "as soon as he comes home. 
He's a curse and a care, the lowest of the low, the vilest of the vile. 
Woman, you have given birth to a monster who will not rest until he 
has done me to death, fearful, cruel, and accursed reprobate that he is!" 

But Eliza wrote her oldest son regularly, enclosed sums of money 
from time to time, and revived her hopes incessantly, against nature, 
against reason, against the structure of life. She did not dare to come 
openly to his defense, to reveal frankly the place he held in her heart's 
core, but she would produce each letter in which he spoke boastfully of 
his successes, or announced his monthly resurrection, and read them to 
an unmoved family. They were florid, foolish letters, full of quotation 
marks and written in a large fancy hand. She was proud and pleased at 
all their extravagances; his flowery illiteracy was another proof to her 
of his superior intelligence. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 263 

Dear Mama: 

Yours of the llth to hand and must say I was glad to know you 
were in "the land of the living" again as I had begun to feel it was a 
"long time between drinks" since your last. ("1 tell you what," said 
Eliza, looking up and sniggering with pleasure, "he's no fool." Helen, 
with a smile that was half ribald, half annoyed, about her big mouth, 
made a face at Luke, and lifted her eyes patiently upward to God as 
Eliza continued. Gant leaned forward tensely with his head craned up- 
ward, listening carefully with a faint grin of pleasure.) Well, mama, 
since I last wrote you things have been coming my way and it now 
looks as if the "Prodigal Son" will come home some day in his own 
private car. ("Hey, what's that?" said Gant, and she read it again for 
him. He wet his thumb and looked about with a pleased grin. "Wh-wh- 
what's the matter?" asked Luke. "Has he b-b-bought the railroad?" 
Helen laughed hoarsely. "I'm from Missouri," she said.) It took me a 
long time to get started, mama, but things were breaking against me 
and all that little Stevie has ever asked from any one in this "vale of 
tears" is a fair chance. (Helen laughed her ironical husky falsetto. "All 
that little S-S-Stevie has ever asked," said Luke, reddening with annoy- 
ance, "is the whole g-g-g-goddam world with a few gold mines thrown 
in.") But now that I'm on my feet at last, mama, I'm going to show 
the world that I haven't forgotten those who stood by me in my "hour of 
need," and that the best friend a man ever had is his mother. ("Where's 
the shovel?" said Ben, snickering quietly.) 



"That boy writes a good letter," said Gant appreciatively. "I'm 
damned if he's not the smartest one of the lot when he wants to be," 

"Yes," said Luke angrily, "he's so smart that you'll b-b-beheve any 
fairy tale he wants to tell you. B-b-b-but the one who's stuck by you 
through thick and thin gets no c-c-credit at all." He glanced meaningly 
at Helen. "It's a d-d-damn shame." 

"Forget about it," she said wearily. 

"Well," said Eliza thoughtfully, holding the letter in her folded 
hands and gazing away, "perhaps he's going to turn over a new leaf 



264 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

now. You never know." Lost in pleased revery she looked into vacancy, 
pursing her lips. 

"I hope so!" said Helen wearily. "You've got to show me." 
Privately: "You see how it is, don't you?" she said to Luke, mount- 
ing to hysteria. "Do I get any credit? Do I? I can work my fingers 
to the bone for them, but do I get so much as Go to Hell for my trouble? 
Do I?" 

In these years Helen went off into the South with Pearl Hines, the 
saddlemaker's daughter. They sang together at moving-picture theatres 
in country towns. They were booked from a theatrical office in Atlanta. 

Pearl Hines was a heavily built girl with a meaty face and negroid 
lips. She was jolly and vital. She sang ragtime and nigger songs with 
a natural passion, swinging her hips and shaking her breasts erotically. 



"Here comes my da-dad-dy now 
O pop, O pop, Oo pop." 



They earned as much as $100 a week sometimes. They played in 
towns like Waycross, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; Hattiesburg, 
Mississippi, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

They brought with them the great armor of innocency. They were 
eager and decent girls. Occasionally the village men made cautious 
explorative insults, relying on the superstition that lives in small towns 
concerning "show girls." But generally they were well treated. 

For them, these ventures into new lands were eager with promise. 
The vacant idiot laughter, the ribald enthusiasm with which South 
Carolina or Georgia countrymen, filling a theatre with the strong smell 
of clay and sweat, greeted Pearl's songs, left them unwounded, pleased, 
eager. They were excited to know that they were members of the pro- 
fession; they bought Variety regularly, they saw themselves finally a 
celebrated high-salaried team on "big time" in great cities. Pearl was 
to "put over" the popular songs, to introduce the rag melodies with 
the vital rhythm of her dynamic meatiness, Helen was to give operatic 
dignity to the programme. In a respectful hush, bathed in a pink spot, 
she sang ditties of higher quality Tosti's "Goodbye," "The End of a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 265 

Perfect Day/' and "The Rosary." She had a big, full, somewhat metallic 
voice: she had received training from her Aunt Louise, the splendid 
blonde who had lived in Altamont for several years after her separation 
from Elmer Pentland. Louise gave music lessons and enjoyed her wan- 
ing youth with handsome young men. She was one of the ripe, rich, 
dangerous women that Helen liked. She had a little girl and went away 
to New York with the child when tongues grew fanged. 

But she said: "Helen, that voice ought to be trained for grand 
opera." 

Helen had not forgotten. She fantasied of France and Italy: the 
big crude glare of what she called "a career in opera," the florid music, 
the tiered galleries winking with gems, the torrential applause directed 
toward the full-blooded, dominant all-shadowing songsters struck up 
great anthems in her. It was a scene, she thought, in which she was 
meant to shine. And as the team of Gant and Hines (The Dixie Melody 
Twins) moved on their jagged circuit through the South, this desire, 
bright, fierce, and formless, seemed, in someway, to be nearer realization. 

She wrote home frequently, usually to Gant. Her letters beat like 
great pulses; they were filled with the excitement of new cities, presenti- 
ments of abundant life. In every town they met "lovely people" 
everywhere, in fact, good wives and mothers, and nice young men, were 
attracted hospitably to these two decent, happy, exciting girls. There 
was a vast decency, an enormous clean vitality about Helen that sub- 
jugated good people and defeated bad ones. She held under her domin- 
ion a score of young men masculine, red-faced, hard-drinking and shy. 
Her relation to them was maternal and magistral, they came to listen 
and to be ruled; they adored her, but few of them tried to kiss her. 

Eugene was puzzled and frightened by these lamb-like lions. Among 
men, they were fierce, bold, and combative; with her, awkward and 
timorous. One of them, a city surveyor, lean, highboned, alcoholic, was 
constantly involved in police-court brawls; another, a railroad detec- 
tive, a large fair young man, split the skulls of negroes when he was 
drunk, shot several men, and was himself finally killed in a Tennessee 
gun-fight. 

She never lacked for friends and protectors wherever she went. 



266 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Occasionally, Pearl's happy and vital sensuality, the innocent gusto with 
which she implored 

"Some sweet old daddy 
Come make a fuss over me." 

drew on village rakedom to false conjectures. Unpleasant men with wet 
cigars would ask them to have a convivial drink of corn whisky, call 
them "girley," and suggest a hotel room or a motorcar as a meeting- 
place. When this happened, Pearl was stricken into silence; helpless 
and abashed, she appealed to Helen. 

And she, her large loose mouth tense and wounded at the corners, 
her eyes a little brighter, would answer: 

"I don't know what you mean by that remark. I guess you've made 
a mistake about us." This did not fail to exact stammering apologies 
and excuses. 

She was painfully innocent, temperamentally incapable of wholly 
believing the worst about any one. She lived m the excitement of rumor 
and suggestion: it never seemed to her actually possible that the fast 
young women who excited her had, in the phrase she used, "gone the 
limit." She was skilled in gossip, and greedily attentive to it, but of the 
complex nastiness of village life she had little actual knowledge. Thus, 
with Pearl Hines, she walked confidently and joyously over volcanic 
crust, scenting only the odor of freedom, change, and adventure. 

But this partnership came to an end. The intention of Pearl Hines* 
life was direct and certain. She wanted to get married, she had always 
wanted to get married before she was twenty-five. For Helen, the sing- 
ing partnership, the exploration of new lands, had been a gesture toward 
freedom, an instinctive groping toward a centre of life and purpose to 
which she could fasten her energy, a blind hunger for variety, beauty, 
and independence. She did not know what she wanted to do with her 
life; it was probable that she would never control even partially her 
destiny: she would be controlled, when the time came, by the great 
necessity that lived in her. That necessity was to enslave and to serve. 

For two or three years Helen and Pearl supported themselves by 
these tours, leaving Altamont during its dull winter lassitude, and return- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 267 

ing to it in Spring, or in Summer, with money enough to suffice them 
until their next season. 

Pearl juggled carefully with the proposals of several young men 
during this period. She had the warmest affection for a ball-player, the 
second baseman and manager of the Altamont team. He was a tough 
handsome young animal, forever hurling his glove down in a frenzy of 
despair during the course of a game, and rushing belligerently at the 
umpire. She liked his hard assurance, his rapid twang, his tanned lean 
body. 

But she was in love with no one she would never be and caution 
told her that the life-risk on bush-league ball-players was very great. 
She married finally a young man from Jersey City, heavy of hand, hoof, 
and voice, who owned a young but flourishing truck and livery business. 

Thus, the partnership of the Dixie Melody Twins was dissolved. 
Helen, left alone, turned away from the drear monotony of the small 
towns to the gaiety, the variety, and the slaking fulfilment of her desires, 
which she hoped somehow to find in the cities. 

She missed Luke terribly. Without him she felt incomplete, un- 
armored. He had been enrolled in the Georgia School of Technology 
in Atlanta for two years. He was taking the course in electrical engi- 
neering, the whole direction of his life had been thus shaped by Gant's 
eulogies, years before, of the young electrical expert, Liddell He was 
failing in his work his mind had never been forced to the discipline of 
study. All purpose with him was broken by a thousand impulses: his 
brain stammered as did his tongue, and as he turned impatiently and 
irritably to the logarithm tables, he muttered the number of the page 
in idiot repetition, keeping up a constant wild vibration of his leg upon 
the ball of his foot. 

His great commercial talent was salesmanship; he had superla- 
tively that quality that American actors and men of business call "per- 
sonality" a wild energy, a Rabelaisian vulgarity, a sensory instinct for 
rapid and swingeing repartee, and a hypnotic power of speech, torren- 
tial, meaningless, mad, and evangelical. He could sell anything because 
in the jargon of salesmen, he could sell himself; and there was a fortune 



268 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

in him in the fantastic elasticity of American business, the club of all 
the queer trades, of wild promotions, where, amok with zealot rage, 
he could have chanted the yokels into delirium, and cut the buttons 
from their coats, doing every one, everything, and finally himself. He 
was not an electrical engineer he was electrical energy. He had no 
gift for study he gathered his unriveted mind together and bridged 
with it desperately, but crumpled under the stress and strain of calculus 
and the mechanical sciences. 

Enormous humor flowed from him like crude light. Men who had 
never known him seethed with strange internal laughter when they saw 
him, and roared helplessly when he began to speak. Yet, his physical 
beauty was astonishing. His head was like that of a wild angel coils 
and whorls of living golden hair flashed from his head, his features were 
regular, generous, and masculine, illuminated by the strange inner smile 
of idiot ecstasy. 

His broad mouth, even when stammering irritably or when nervous- 
ness clouded his face, was always cocked for laughter unearthly, ex- 
ultant, idiot laughter. There was in him demonic exuberance, a wild 
intelligence that did not come from the brain. Eager for praise, for 
public esteem, and expert in ingratiation, this demon possessed him 
utterly at the most unexpected moments, in the most decorous sur- 
roundings, when he was himself doing all in his power to preserve the 
good opinion in which he was held. 

Thus, listening to an old lady of the church, who with all her 
power of persuasion and earnestness was unfolding the dogmas of Pres- 
byterianism to him, he would lean forward in an attitude of exaggerated 
respectfulness and attention, one broad hand clinched about his knee, 
while he murmured gentle agreement to what she said: 

"Yes? . . . Ye-e-es? . . . Ye-e-e-es? . . . Ye-e-es? ... Is that 
right? . . . Ye-e-es?" 

Suddenly the demonic force would burst in him. Insanely tickled 
at the cadences of his agreement, the earnest placidity and oblivion of 
the old woman, and the extravagant pretense of the whole situation, his 
face flooded with wild exultancy, he would croon in a fat luscious 
bawdily suggestive voice: 

"Y-ah-s? . . . Y-a-h-s? . . . Y-ah-s? . . .Y-ah-s?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 269 

And when at length too late she became aware of this drowning 
flood of demonic nonsense, and paused, turning an abrupt startled face 
to him, he would burst into a wild "Whah-whah-whah-whah" of laugh- 
ter, beyond all reason, with strange throat noises, tickling her roughly 
in the ribs. 

Often Eliza, in the midst of long, minutely replenished reminiscence, 
would grow conscious, while she was purse-lipped in revery, of this 
annihilating mockery, would slap at his hand angrily as he gooched 
her, and shake a pursed piqued face at him, saying, with a heavy scorn 
that set him off into fresh "whah-whahs" : "I'll declare, boy! You act 
like a regular idiot," and then shaking her head sadly, with elaborate 
pity: "I'd be ash-a-a-med! A-sha-a-med." 

His quality was extraordinary; he had something that was a great 
deal better than most intelligence; he saw the world in burlesque, and 
his occasional answer to its sham, hypocrisy, and intrigue was the idiot 
devastation of "whah-whah!" But he did not possess his demon; it 
possessed him from time to time. If it had possessed him wholly, con- 
stantly, his life would have pervailed with astonishing honesty and pre- 
cision. But when he reflected, he was a child with all the hypocrisy, 
sentimentality and dishonest pretense of a child. 

His face was a church in which beauty and humor were married 
the strange and the familiar were at one in him. Men, looking at Luke, 
felt a start of recognition as if they saw something of which they had 
never heard, but which they had known forever. 

Once or twice, during the Winter and Spring, while she was touring 
with Pearl Hines, Helen got into Atlanta to see him. In Spring they 
attended the week of Grand Opera. He would find employment for one 
night as a spearman in Aida and pass the doorman for the remainder of 
the week with the assurance that he was "a member of the company 
Lukio Gantio." 



His large feet spread tightly out in sandals; behind the shingreaves 
his awkward calves were spined thickly with hair; a thick screw of hair 
writhed under the edge of his tin helmet, as he loafed in the wings, 
leaning comically on his spear, his face lit with exultancy. 



270 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Caruso, waiting his entrance, regarded him from time to time with 
a wide Wop smile. 

"Wotta you call yourself, eh?" asked Caruso, approaching and 
looking him over. 

"W-w-w-why," he said,"d-don't you know one of your s-s-s soldiers 
when you see him?" 

"You're one hell of a soldier," said Caruso. 

"Whah-whah-whah!" Luke answered. With difficulty he restrained 
his prodding fingers. 



In the summer now he returned to Altamont, finding employment 
with a firm of land-auctioneers, and assisting them at the sale of a tract 
or a parcel of lots. He moved about above the crowd in the bed of a 
wagon, exhorting them to bid, with his hand at the side of his mouth, 
in a harangue compounded of frenzy, passionate solicitation, and baw- 
dry. The work intoxicated him. With wide grins of expectancy they 
crowded round the spokes. In a high throaty tenor he called to them : 

"Step right up, gentlemen, lot number 17, in beautiful Homewood 
we furnish the wood, you furnish the home. Now gentlemen, this hand- 
some building-site has a depth of 179 feet, leaving plenty of room for 
garden and backhouse (grow your own corn cobs in beautiful Home- 
wood) with a frontage of 1 14 feet on a magnificent new macadam road." 

"Where is the road?" some one shouted. 

"On the blueprint, of course, Colonel. You've got it all in black 
and white. Now, gentlemen, the opportunity of your lives is kicking 
you in the pants. Are you men of vision? Think what Ford, Edison, 
Napoleon Bonaparte, and Julius Caesar would do. Obey that impulse. 
You can't lose. The town is coming this way. Listen carefully. Do you 
hear it? Swell. The new courthouse will be built on yonder hill, the 
undertaker and the village bakery will occupy handsome edifices of 
pressed brick just above you. Oyez, oyez, oyez. What am I offered? 
What am I offered? Own your own home in beautiful Homewood, with- 
in a cannonshot of all railway, automobile, and airplane connections. 
Running water abounds within a Washingtonian stone's throw and in 




all the pipes. Our caravans meet all trains. Gentlemen, here's your 
chance to make a fortune. The ground is rich in mineral resources- 
gold, silver, copper, iron, bituminous coal and oil, will be found in large 
quantities below the roots of all the trees." 

"What about the bushes, Luke?" yelled Mr. Halloran, the dairy- 
lunch magnate. 

"Down in the bushes, that is where she gushes," Luke answered 
amid general tumult. "All right, Major. You with the face. What am 
I offered? What am I offered?" 



272 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

When there was no sale, he greeted incoming tourists at the station- 
curbing with eloquent invitations to Dixieland, rich, persuasive, dom- 
inant above all the soliciting babel of the car-drivers, negro hotel-porters, 
and boarding-house husbands. 

"I'll give you a dollar apiece for every one you drum up," said 
Eliza. 

"O that's all right." O modestly. Generously. 

"He'd give you the shirt off his back," said Gant. 

A fine boy. As she cooled from her labors in the summer night, 
he brought her little boxes of ice-cream from town. 

He was a hustler: he sold patent washboards, trick potato-peelers, 
and powdered cockroach-poison from house to house. To the negroes 
he sold hair-oil guaranteed to straighten kinky hair, and religious litho- 
graphs, peopled with flying angels, white and black, and volant cherubs, 
black and white, sailing about the knees of an impartial and crucified 
Saviour, and subtitled "God Loves Them Both." 

They sold like hot cakes. 

Otherwise, he drove Gant's car a 1913 five-passenger Ford, pur- 
chase of an inspired hour of madness, occupant now of half Gant's 
conversation, object of abuse, boast, and anathema. It was before every 
one owned a car. Gant was awed and terrified by his rash act, exalted 
at the splendor of his chariot, appalled at its expense. Each bill for 
gasoline, repairs, or equipment brought a howl of anguish from him; a 
puncture, a breakdown, a minor disorder caused him to circle about 
in maddened strides, cursing, praying, weeping. 

"I've never had a moment's peace since I bought it," he howled. 
"Accursed and bloody monster that it is, it will not be content until it 
has sucked out my life-blood, sold the roof over my head, and sent me 
out to the pauper's grave to perish. Merciful God," he wept, "it's fear- 
ful, it's awful, it's cruel that I should be afflicted thus in my old age." 
Turning to his constrained and apologetic son abruptly, he said: "How 
much is the bill? Hey?" His eyes roved wildly in his head. 

"D-d-d-don't get excited, papa," Luke answered soothingly, 
teetering from foot to foot, "it's only $8.92." 

"Jesus God!" Gant screamed. "I'm ruined." Sobbing in loud 
burlesque sniffles, he began his caged pacing. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 273 

But it was pleasant at dusk or in the cool summer nights, with 
Eliza or one of his daughters beside him, and a fragrant weed between 
his pallid lips, to hinge his long body into the back seat, and ride out 
into the fragrant countryside, or through the long dark streets of town. 
At the approach of another car he cried out in loud alarm, by turns 
cursing and entreating his son to caution. Luke drove nervously, errat- 
ically, wildly his stammering impatient hands and knees communi- 
cated their uneven fidget to the flivver. He cursed irritably, plunged in 
exacerbated fury at the brake, and burst out in an annoyed "tuh-tuh- 
tuh-tuh," when the car stalled. 

As the hour grew late, and the streets silent, his madness swelled 
in him. Lipping the rim of a long hill street, tree-arched and leafy and 
shelving in even terraces, he would burst suddenly into insane laughter, 
bend over the wheel, and pull the throttle open, his idiot "whah-whahs" 
filling the darkness as Gant screamed curses at him. Down through the 
night they tore at murderous speed, the boy laughing at curse and prayer 
alike as they shot past the blind menace of street-crossings. 

"You Goddamned scoundrel!" Gant yelled. "Stop, you mountain 
grill, or I'll put you m jail." 

"Whah-whah." His laughter soared to a crazy falsetto. 

Daisy, arrived for a few weeks of summer coolness, quite blue with 
terror, would clutch the most recent of her annual arrivals to her breast, 
melodramatically, and moan : 

"I beg of you, for the sake of my family, for the sake of my innocent 
motherless babes " 

"Whah-whah-whah!" 

"He's a fiend out of hell," cried Gant, beginning to weep. "Cruel 
and criminal monster that he is, he will batter our brains out against 
a tree, before he's done." They whizzed with a perilous swerve by a 
car that, with a startled screech of its brakes, balked at the corner like 
a frightened horse. 

"You damned thug!" Gant roared, plunging forward and fastening 
his great hands around Luke's throat. "Will you stop?" 

Luke added another notch of blazing speed. Gant fell backward 
with a howl of terror. 

On Sunday they made long tours into the country. Often they 



274 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

drove to Reynoldsville, twenty-two miles away. It was an ugly little 
resort, noisy with arriving and departing cars, with a warm stench of 
oil and gasoline heavy above its broad main street. But people were 
coming and going from several States: Southward they came up from 
South Carolina and Georgia, cotton-farmers, small tradesmen and their 
families in battered cars coated with red sandclay dust. They had a 
heavy afternoon dinner of fried chicken, corn, string-beans, and sliced 
tomatoes, at one of the big wooden boarding-house hotels, spent another 
hour in a drugstore over a chocolate nut-sundae, watched the summer 
crowd of fortunate tourists and ripe cool-skinned virgins flow by upon 
the wide sidewalk in thick pullulation, and returned again, after a brief 
tour of the town, on the winding immediate drop to the hot South. 
New lands. 

Fluescent with smooth ripe curves, the drawling virgins of the 
South filled summer porches. 

Luke was a darling. He was a dear, a fine boy, a big-hearted gen- 
erous fellow, and just the cutest thing. Women liked him, laughed at 
him, pulled fondly the thick golden curls of his hair. He was senti- 
mentally tender to children girls of fourteen years. He had a grand 
romantic feeling for Delia Selborne, the oldest daughter of Mrs. Sel- 
borne. He bought her presents, was tender and irritable by turns. Once, 
at Gant's, on the porch under an August moon and the smell of ripening 
grapes, he caressed her while Helen sang in the parlor. He caressed her 
gently, leaned his head over her, and said he would like to lay it on 
her b-b-b-b-breast. Eugene watched them bitterly, with an inch of poison 
round his heart. He wanted the girl for himself: she was stupid, but 
she had the wise body and faint hovering smile of her mother. He 
wanted Mrs. Selborne more, he fantasied passionately about her yet, 
but her image lived again in Delia. As a result, he was proud, cold, 
scornful and foolish before them. They disliked him. 

Enviously, with gnawn heart, he observed Luke's ministrations to 
Mrs. Selborne. His service was so devout, so extravagant that even 
Helen grew annoyed and occasionally jealous. And nightly, from a 
remote corner at Gant's or Eliza's, or from a parked automobile before 
the house, he heard her rich welling laughter, full of tenderness, sur- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 275 

render, and mystery. Sometimes, waiting m pitch darkness on the stairs 
at Eliza's, at one or two o'clock in the morning, he felt her pass him. 
As she touched him in the dark, she gave a low cry of terror; with an 
uncivil grunt he reassured her, and descended to bed with a pounding 
heart and a burning face. 

Ah, yes, he thought, with green morality, observing his brother 
throned m laughter and affection, you Big Fool, you you're just a 
sucker! You show off and act big, my sonny, and spend your money 
bringing ice-cream for them but what do you get out of it? How do 
you feel when she gets out of an automobile at two o'clock in the morn- 
ing after grunting m the dark with some damned travelling-man, or 
with old Poxy Logan who's been keeping a nigger woman up for years. 
"May I p-p-p-put my head on your breast?" You make me sick, you 
damned fool. She's no better, only you don't know beans. She'll let 
you spend all your money on her and then she'll run off with some little 
pimp in an automobile for the rest of the night. Yes, that's so. Do you 
want to make anything out of it? You big bluff. Come out into the 
back yard. . . . I'll show you . . . take that . . . and that . . . and that . . . 

Pumping his fists wildly, he fought his phantom into defeat and 
himself into exhaustion. 



Luke had several hundred dollars saved from The Saturday Evening 
Post days, when he went off to school. He accepted very little money 
from Gant. He waited on tables, he solicited for college boarding- 
houses, he was the agent for a tailor who made Kippy Kampus Klothes. 
Gant boasted of these efforts. The town shifted its quid, nodded pertly, 
and spat, saying: 

'That boy'll make his mark." 

Luke worked as hard for an education as any other self-made man. 
He made every sacrifice. He did everything but study. 

He was an immense popular success, so very extra, so very Luky. 
The school sought and adored him. Twice, after football games, he 
mounted a hearse and made funeral orations over the University of 
Georgia. 



276 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



But, in spite of all his effort, toward the end of his third year he 
was still a sophomore, with every prospect of remaining one. One day 
in Spring he wrote the following letter to Gant : 

"The b-b-b-bastards who r-r-run this place have it in for me. I've 
been c-c-c-crooked good and proper. They take your hard-earned 
m-m-money here and skin you. I'm g-g-g-gomg to a real school." 

He went to Pittsburgh and found work with the Westinghouse 
Electric Company. Three times a week at night he attended courses at 
the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He made friends. 

The war had come. After fifteen months in Pittsburgh he moved 
on to Dayton where he got employment at a boiler factory engaged in 
the fabrication of war materials. 

From time to time, in summer for a few weeks, at Christmas for 
a few days, he returned to celebrate his holidays with his family. Always 
he brought Gant a suitcase stocked with beer and whisky. That boy was 
"good to his father." 





19 

vJne afternoon m the young summer, Gant leaned upon the rail, 
talking to Jannadeau. He was getting on to sixty-five, his erect body 
had settled, he stooped a little. He spoke of old age often, and he wept 
in his tirades now because of his stiffened hand. Soaked in pity, he 
referred to himself as "the poor old cripple who has to provide for them 
all." 

The indolence of age and disintegration was creeping over him. 
He now rose a full hour later, he came to his shop punctually, but he 
spent long hours of the day extended on the worn leather couch of his 
office, or in gossip with Jannadeau, bawdy old Liddell, Cardiac, and 
Fagg Sluder, who had salted away his fortune in two big buildings on 
the Square and was at the present moment titled comfortably in a chair 
before the fire department, gossiping eagerly with members of the ball 
club, whose chief support he was. It was after five o'clock, the game was 
over. 

Negro laborers, grisly with a white coating of cement, sloped down 
past the shop on their way home. The draymen dispersed slowly, a 
slouchy policeman loafed down the steps of the city hall picking his 

277 



278 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

teeth, and on the market side, from high grilled windows, there came 
the occasional howls of a drunken negress. Life buzzed slowly like a 
fly. 

The sun had reddened slightly, there was a cool flowing breath from 
the hills, a freshening relaxation over the tired earth, the hope, the 
ecstasy of evening in the air. In slow pulses the thick plume of fountain 
rose, fell upon itself, and slapped the pool in lazy rhythms. A wagon 
rattled leanly over the big cobbles; beyond the firemen, the grocer Bradly 
wound up his awning with slow creaking revolutions. 

Across the Square, at its other edge, the young virgins of the eastern 
part of town walked lightly home in chattering groups. They came to 
town at four o'clock in the afternoon, walked up and down the little 
avenue several times, entered a shop to purchase small justifications, 
and finally went into the chief drugstore, where the bucks of the town 
loafed and drawled in lazy alert groups. It was their club, their bras- 
serie, the forum of the sexes. With confident smiles the young men 
detached themselves from their group and strolled back to booth and 
table. 

"Heytheah! Wheahd you come from?" 
"Move ovah theah, lady. I want to tawk to you." 
Eyes as blue as Southern skies looked roguishly up to laughing 
gray ones, the winsome dimples deepened, and the sweetest little tail 
in dear old Dixie slid gently over on the polished board. 

Gant spent delightful hours now in the gossip of dirty old men 
their huddled bawdry exploded in cracked high wheezes on the Square. 
He came home at evening stored with gutter tidings, wetting his thumb 
and smiling slyly as he questioned Helen hopefully: 
"She's no better than a regular little chippie eh?" 
"Ha-ha-ha-ha-," she laughed mockingly. "Don't you wish you 
knew?" 

His age bore certain fruits, emoluments of service. When she came 
home in the evening with one of her friends, she presented the girl with 
jocose eagerness to his embrace. And, crying out paternally, "Why, 
bless her heart! Come kiss the old man," he planted bristling mustache 
kisses on their white throats, their soft lips, grasping the firm meat of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 279 

one arm tenderly with his good hand and cradling them gently. They 
shrieked with throaty giggle-twiddles of pleasure because it tuh-tuh-tuh- 
tuh-tickled so. 

"Ooh! Mr. Gant! Whah-whah-whah!" 

"Your father's such a nice man," they said. "Such lovely manners." 

Helen's eyes fed fiercely on them. She laughed with husky-harsh 
excitement. 

"Hah-ha-ha! He likes that, doesn't he? It's too bad, old boy, isn't 
it? No more monkey business." 

He talked with Jannadeau, while his fugitive eyes roved over the 
east end of the Square. Before the shop the comely matrons of the town 
came up from the market. From time to time they smiled, seeing him, 
and he bowed sweepingly. Such lovely manners. 

"The King of England," he observed, "is only a figurehead. 
He doesn't begin to have the power of the President of the United 
States." 

"His power is severely lim/7ed," said Jannadeau gutturally, "by 
custom but not by statute. In actua//7y he is still one of the most power- 
ful monarchs in the world." His thick black fingers probed carefully into 
the viscera of a watch. 

"The late King Edward for all his faults," said Gant, wetting his 
thumb, "was a smart man. This fellow they've got now is a nonentity 
and a nincompoop." He grinned faintly, craftily, with pleasure at the 
big words, glancing silly at the Swiss to see if they had told. 

His uneasy eyes followed carefully the stylish carriage of "Queen" 
Elizabeth's well clad figure as she went down by the shop. She smiled 
pleasantly, and for a moment turned her candid stare upon smooth 
marble slabs of death, carved lambs and cherubim. Gant bowed 
elaborately. 

"Good-evening, madam," he said. 

She disappeared. In a moment she came back decisively and 
mounted the broad steps. He watched her approach with quickened 
pulses. Twelve years. 

"How's the madam?" he said gallantly. "Elizabeth, I was just 
telling Jannadeau you were the most stylish woman in town." 



280 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

44 Well, that's mighty sweet of you, Mr. Gant," she said in her cool 
poised voice. "You've always got a word for every one." 

She gave a bright pleasant nod to Jannadeau, who swung his huge 
scowling head ponderously around and muttered at her. 

"Why, Elizabeth," said Gant, "you haven't changed an inch in 
fifteen years. I don't believe you're a day older." 

She was thirty-eight and pleasantly aware of it. 

"Oh, yes," she said laughing. "You're only saying that to make 
me feel good. I'm no chicken any more." 

She had a pale clear skin, pleasantly freckled, carrot-colored hair, 
and a thin mouth live with humor. Her figure was trim and strong no 
longer young. She had a great deal of energy, distinction, and elegance 
in her manner. 

"How are all the girls, Elizabeth?" he asked kindly. 

Her face grew sad. She began to pull her gloves off. 

"That's what I came in to see you about," she said. "I lost one of 
them last week." 

"Yes," said Gant gravely, "I was sorry to hear of that." 

"She was the best girl I had," said Elizabeth. "I'd have done any- 
thing in the world for her. We did everything we could," she added. 
"I've no regrets on that score. I had a doctor and two trained nurses 
by her all the time." 

She opened her black leather handbag, thrust her gloves into it, and 
pulling out a small bluebordered handkerchief, began to weep quietly. 

"Huh-huh-huh-huh-huh," said Gant, shaking his head. "Too bad, 
too bad, too bad. Come back to my office," he said. They went back 
and sat down. Elizabeth dried her eyes. 

"What was her name?" he asked. 

"We called her Lily her full name was Lillian Reed." 

"Why, I knew that girl," he exclaimed. "I spoke to her not over 
two weeks ago." 

"Yes," said Elizabeth, "she went like that one hemorrhage right 
after another, down here." She tapped her abdomen. "Nobody ever 
knew she was sick until last Wednesday. Friday she was gone." She 
wept again. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 281 

T-t-t-t-t-t," he clucked regretfully. "Too bad, too bad. She was 
pretty as a picture." 

"I couldn't have loved her more, Mr. Gant," said Elizabeth, "if 
she had been my own daughter." 

"How old was she?" he asked. 

"Twenty-two," said Elizabeth, beginning to weep again. 

"What a pity! What a pity!" he agreed. "Did she have any 
people?" 

"No one who would do anything for her," Elizabeth said. "Her 
mother died when she was thirteen she was born out here on the 
Beetree Fork and her father," she added indignantly, "is a mean old 
bastard who's never done anything for her or any one else. He didn't 
even come to her funeral." 

"He will be punished," said Gant darkly. 

"As sure as there's a God in heaven," Elizabeth agreed, "he'll 
get what's coming to him in hell. The old bastard!" she continued 
virtuously, "I hope he rots!" 

"You can depend upon it," he said grimly. "He will. Ah, Lord." 
He was silent a moment while he shook his head with slow regret. 

"A pity, a pity," he muttered. "So young." He had the moment 
of triumph all men have when they hear some one has died. A moment, 
too, of grisly fear. Sixty-four. 

"I couldn't have loved her more," said Elizabeth, "if she'd been 
one of my own. A young girl like that, with all her life before her." 

"It's pretty sad when you come to think of it," he said. "By God, 
it is." 

"And she was such a fine girl, Mr. Gant," said Elizabeth, weeping 
softly. "She had such a bright future before her. She had more oppor- 
tunities than I ever had, and I suppose you know" she spoke modestly- 
estly "what I've done." 

"Why," he exclaimed, startled, "you're a rich woman, Elizabeth 
damned if I don't believe you are. You own property all over town." 

"I wouldn't say that," she answered, "but I've got enough to live 
on without ever doing another lick of work. I've had to work hard all 
my life. From now on I don't intend to turn my hand over." 



282 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

She regarded him with a shy pleased smile, and touched a coil of 
her fine hair with a small competent hand. He looked at her atten- 
tively, noting with pleasure her firm uncorseted hips, moulded com- 
pactly into her tailored suit, and her cocked comely legs tapering to 
graceful feet, shod in neat little slippers of tan. She was firm, strong, 
washed, and elegant a faint scent of lilac hovered over her: he looked 
at her candid eyes, lucently gray, and saw that she was quite a great lady. 

"By God, Elizabeth," he said, "you're a fine-looking woman." 

"I've had a good life," she said. "I've taken care of myself." 

They had always known each other since first they met. They 
had no excuses, no questions, no replies. The world fell away from 
them. In the silence they heard the pulsing slap of the fountain, the 
high laughter of bawdry in the Square. He took a book of models from 
the desk, and began to turn its slick pages. They showed modest blocks 
of Georgia marble and Vermont granite. 

"I don't want any of those," she said impatiently. "I've already 
made up my mind. I know what I want." 

He looked up surprised. "What is it?" 

"I want the angel out front." 

His face was shocked and unwilling. He gnawed the corner of his 
thin lip. No one knew how fond he was of the angel. Publicly he called 
it his White Elephant. He cursed it and said he had been a fool to order 
it. For six years it had stood on the porch, weathering, in all the wind 
and the rain. It was now brown and fly-specked. But it had come from 
Carrara in Italy, and it held a stone lily delicately in one hand. The 
other hand was lifted in benediction, it was poised clumsily upon the 
ball of one phthisic foot, and its stupid white face wore a smile of soft 
stone idiocy. 

In his rages, Gant sometimes directed vast climaxes of abuse at 
the angel. "Fiend out of Hell!" he roared. "You have impoverished 
me, you have ruined me, you have cursed my declining years, and now 
you will crush me to death, fearful, awful, and unnatural monster that 
you are." 

But sometimes when he was drunk he fell weeping on his knees 
before it, called it Cynthia, and entreated its love, forgiveness, and 




blessing for its sinful but repentant boy. There was laughter from the 
Square. 

"What's the matter?" said Elizabeth. "Don't you want to sell 
it?" 

"It will cost you a good deal, Elizabeth," he said evasively, 

"I don't care," she answered, positively. "I've got the money. 
How much do you want?" 

He was silent, thinking for a moment of the place where the angel 
stood. He knew he had nothing to cover or obliterate that place it left 
a barren crater in his heart. 

"All right," he said. "You can have it for what I paid for it 
$420." 



284 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

She took a thick sheaf of banknotes from her purse and counted 
the money out for him. He pushed it back. 

"No. Pay me when the job's finished and it has been set up. You 
want some sort of inscription, don't you?" 

"Yes. There's her full name, age, place of birth, and so on," she 
said, giving him a scrawled envelope. "I want some poetry, too some- 
thing that suits a young girl taken off like this." 

He pulled his tattered little book of inscriptions from a pigeonhole, 
and thumbed its pages, reading her a quatrain here and there. To each 
she shook her head. Finally, he said: 

"How's this one, Elizabeth?" He read: 

She went away in beauty's flower, 
Before her youth was spent; 
Ere life and love had lived their hour 
God called her, and she went. 

Yet whispers Faith upon the wind: 
No grief to her was given. 
She left your love and went to find 
A greater one in heaven. 

"Oh, that's lovely lovely," she said. "I want that one." 

"Yes," he agreed, "I think that's the best one." 

In the musty cool smell of his little office they got up. Her gallant 
figure reached his shoulder. She buttoned her kid gloves over the small 
pink haunch of her palms and glanced about her. His battered sofa filled 
one wall, the line of his long body was printed in the leather. She looked 
up at him. His face was sad and grave. They remembered. 

"It's been a long time, Elizabeth," he said. 

They walked slowly to the front through aisled marbles. Sentinelled 
just beyond the wooden doors, the angel leered vacantly down. Janna- 
deau drew his great head turtle wise a little further into the protective 
hunch of his burly shoulders. They went out on to the porch. 

The moon stood already, like its own phantom, in the clear washed 
skies of evening. A little boy with an empty paper-delivery bag swung 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 285 

lithely by, his freckled nostrils dilating pleasantly with hunger and the 
fancied smell of supper. He passed, and for a moment, as they stood 
at the porch edge, all life seemed frozen in a picture: the firemen and 
Fagg Sluder had seen Gant, whispered, and were now looking toward 
him; a policeman, at the high side-porch of the Police Court, leaned 
on the rail and stared; at the near edge of the central grass-plot below 
the fountain, a farmer bent for water at a bubbling jet, rose dripping, 
and stared; from the Tax Collector's office, City Hall, upstairs, Yancey, 
huge, meaty, shirtsleeved, stared. And in that second the slow pulse of 
the fountain was suspended, life was held, like an arrested gesture, in 
photographic abeyance, and Gant felt himself alone move deathward 
in a world of seemings as, in 1910, a man might find himself again in a 
picture taken on the grounds of the Chicago Fair, when he was thirty 
and his mustache black, and, noting the bustled ladies and the derbied 
men fixed in the second's pullulation, remember the dead instant, seek 
beyond the borders for what was there (he knew); or as a veteran who 
finds himself upon his elbow near Ulysses Grant, before the march, m 
pictures of the Civil War, and sees a dead man on a horse; or I should 
say, like some completed Don, who finds himself again before a tent 
in Scotland in his youth, and notes a cricket-bat long lost and long for- 
gotten, the face of a poet who has died, and young men and the tutor 
as they looked that Long Vacation when they read nine hours a day for 
"Greats." 

Where now? Where after? Where then? 




20 

CjTant, during these years in which Helen and Luke, the two for 
whom he felt the deepest affection, were absent a large part of the time, 
lived a splintered existence at home and at Eliza's. He feared and hated 
a lonely life, but habit was deeply rooted in him, and he was unwilling 
to exchange the well-used comfort of his own home for the bald wintri- 
ness of Eliza's. She did not want him. She fed him willingly enough, 
but his tirades and his nightly sojourns, both longer and more frequent 
now that his daughter was absent, annoyed her more than they ever 
had before. 

"You have a place of your own," she cried fretfully. "Why don't 
you stay in it? I don't want you around making trouble." 

"Send him on," he moaned bitterly. "Send him on. Over the stones 
rattle his bones, he's only a beggar that nobody owns. Ah, Lord! The 
old drayhorse has had its day. Its race is run. Kick him out: the old 
cripple can no longer provide them with victuals, and they will throw 
him on the junkheap, unnatural and degenerate monsters that they are." 

But he remained at Dixieland as long as there was any one to listen 
to him, and to the bleak little group of winter boarders he brought 

286 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 287 

magic. They fed hungrily on all the dramatic gusto with which, lunging 
back and forth in a big rocker, before the blazing parlor fire, he told 
and retold the legends of his experience, taking, before their charmed 
eyes, an incident that had touched him romantically, and embellishing, 
weaving and building it up. A whole mythology grew up as, goggle- 
eyed, they listened: 

General Fitzhugh Lee, who had reined up before the farmer boy 
and asked for a drink of water, now tossed off an oaken bucketful, 
questioned him closely concerning the best roads into Gettysburg, asked 
if he had seen detachments of the enemy, wrote his name down in a 
small book, and went off saying to his staff: "That boy will make his 
mark. It is impossible to defeat an enemy which breeds boys like that." 

The Indians, whom he had passed amicably as he rode out into 
the New Mexican desert on a burro, seeking the ancient fort, now 
spurred after him with fell intent and wild scalping whoops. He rode 
furiously through muttering redskin villages, and found the protection 
of two cattlemen in the nick of time. The thief who had entered his 
room at dead of night in New Orleans, and picked up his clothes, and 
whom he had fought desperately upon the floor, he now pursued naked 
for seventeen blocks (not five) down Canal Street. 

He went several times a week to the moving-picture shows, taking 
Eugene, and sitting, bent forward in hunched absorption, through two 
full performances. They came out at ten-thirty or eleven o'clock, on 
cold ringing pavements, into a world frozen bare a dead city of closed 
shops, dressed windows, milliners' and clothiers' models posturing with 
waxen gaiety at congealed silence. 

On the Square the slackened fountain dropped a fat spire of freez- 
ing water into its thickening rim of ice. In summer, a tall spire blown 
in blue sheets of spray. When they turned it down it wilted that was 
like a fountain, too. No wind blew. 

His eyes fixed on the clean concrete walk, Gant strode on, muttering 
dramatically, composing a narrative of the picture. The cold steel of 
new sewing-machines glinted in dim light. The Singer building. Tallest 
in the world. The stitching hum of Eliza's machine. Needle through 



288 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

your finger before you know it. He winced. They passed the Sluder 
Building at the corner of the Square and turned left. Gets over $700 a 
month in office-rent from this alone. The window on the corner was 
filled with rubber syringes and thermos bottles. Drink Coca Cola. They 
say he stole the formula from old mountain woman. $50,000,000 now. 
Rats in the vats. Dope at Wood's better. Too weak here. He had 
recently acquired a taste for the beverage and drank four or five glasses 
a day. 

D. Stern had his old shack on that corner twenty years before Fagg 
bought it. Belonged to Paston estate. Could have bought it for a song. 
Rich man now. D. moved to North Main now. The Jew's rich. For- 
tune out of winnies. They're hot, they're hot. In a broken pot. If I had 
a little time I'd make a little rhyme. Thirteen kids she had one every 
year. As broad as she's long. They all get fat. Every one works. Sons 
pay father board. None of mine, I can assure you. The Jews get there. 

The hunchback what did they call him? One of Nature's Cruel 
Jests. Ah, Lord! What's become of old John Bunny? I used to like 
his pictures. Oh yes. Dead. 

That pure look they have, at the end, when he kisses her, mused 
Eugene. Later A Warmer Clime. Her long lashes curled down over 
her wet eyes, she was unable to meet his gaze. The sweet lips trembled 
with desire as, clasping her in a grip of steel, he bent down over her 
yielding body and planted hungry kisses on her mouth. When the purple 
canopy of dawn had been reft asunder by the rays of the invading sun. 
The Stranger. It wouldn't do to say the next morning. They have a 
thick coat of yellow paint all over their face. Meanwhile, in Old Eng- 
land. I wonder what they say to each other. They're a pretty tough lot, 
I suppose. 

A swift thrust of conviction left him unperturbed. The other was 
better. 

He thought of the Stranger. Steel-gray eyes. A steady face. An 
eighth of a second faster on the draw than any one else. Two-gun Bill 
Hart. Anderson of the Essanay. Strong quiet men. 

He clapped his hand against his buttock with a sharp smack and 
shot the murderous forefinger at an ashcan, a lamp-post, and a barber- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 289 

pole, with a snapping wrist. Gant, startled in composition, gave him a 
quick uneasy look. They walked on. 

Came a day when Spring put forth her blossoms on the earth again. 
No, no not that. Then all grew dark. Picture of a lily trampled on 
the earth. That means he bigged her. Art. Filled her with thee a baby 
fair. You can't go away now. Why? Because because her eyes drop- 
ped shyly, a slow flush mantled her cheek. He stared at her blankly for 
a moment, then his puzzled gaze (O good!) fell to the tiny object 
she was fingering nervously, with dawning comprehension. Blushing 
rosily, she tried to conceal the little jacket behind her. Grace! A great 
light broke on him! Do you mean it? She went to him with a cry, half 
laugh, half sob, and buried her burning face in his neck. You silly boy. 
Of course I mean it (you bastard!). The little dance girl. Smiling with 
wet lechery and manipulating his moist rope of cigar, Faro Jim shuffled 
a pack of cards slowly and fixed on her his vulturesque eye. A knife 
in his shiny boots, a small derringer and three aces up his ruffled sleeve, 
and suave murder in his heart. But the cold gray eyes of the Stranger 
missed nothing. Imperturbably he drank his Scotch, wheeled from the 
mirror with barking Colt just one-sixth of a second before the gambler 
could fire. Faro coughed and slid forward slowly upon the floor. 

There was no sound now in the crowded room of the Triple Y. 
Men stood petrified. The face of Bad Bill and the two Mexicans had 
turned a dirty gray. Finally, the sheriff spoke, turning with awe from 
the still figure on the sawdust floor. 

"By God, stranger!" he ejaculated. "I never knew the man lived 
who could beat Faro to the draw. What's yore name?" 

"In the fam'ly Bible back home, pardner," the Stranger drawled, 
"it's Eugene Gant, but folks out here generally calls me The Dixie 
Ghost." 

There was a slow gasp of wonder from the crowd. 

"Gawd!" some one whispered. "It's the Ghost!" 

As the Ghost turned coolly back to finish his interrupted drink, he 
found himself face to face with the little dancing girl. Two smoking 
globes of brine welled from the pellucid depths of her pure eyes and fell 
with a hot splash on his bronzed hand. 



290 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"How can I ever thank you!" she cried. "You have saved me from 
a fate far worse than death." 

But the Ghost, who had faced death many times without a flicker 
of a lash, was unable to face something he saw now in a pair of big 
brown eyes. He took off his sombrero and twisted it shyly in his big 
hands. 

"Why, that's all right, ma'am," he gulped awkwardly. "Glad to 
be of service to a lady any time." 

By this time the two bartenders had thrown a table-cloth over Faro 
Bill, carried the limp body into the back room, and returned to their 
positions behind the bar. The crowd clustered about in little groups, 
laughing and talking excitedly, and in a moment, as the pianist began 
to hammer out a tune on the battered piano, broke into the measures 
of a waltz. 

In the wild West of those days, passions were primitive, vengeance 
sudden, and retribution immediate. 

Two dimples sentinelled a platoon of milk-white teeth. 

"Won't you dance with me, Mr. Ghost?" she coaxed. 

Thoughtfully he pondered on love's mystery. Pure but passionate. 
Appearances against her, 'tis true. The foul breath of slander. She 
worked in a bawdy-house but her heart was clean. Outside of that, 
what can one say against her? He thought pleasantly of murder. With 
child's eyes he regarded his extinct enemies. Men died violently but 
cleanly, in the movies. Bang-bang. Good-by, boys, I'm through. 
Through the head or heart a clean hole, no blood. He had kept 
innocency. Do their guts or their brains come spilling out? Currant 
jelly where a face was, the chin shot off. Or down there that other 
His arm beat the air like a wing: he writhed. If you lose that? Done, 
die. He clutched his throat in his anguish. 

They bent down eastward along Academy Street, having turned 
right from the little caudal appendage that gave on the northeastern 
corner of the Square. They boy's mind flamed with bright streaming 
images, sharp as gems, mutable as chameleons. His life was the shadow 
of a shadow, a play within a play. He became the hero-actor-star, the 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 291 

lord of the cinema, and the lover of a beautiful movie-queen, as heroic 
as his postures, with a superior actuality for every make-believe. He 
was the Ghost and he who played the Ghost, the cause that minted 
legend into fact. 

He was those heroes whom he admired, and the victor, in beauty, 
nobility, and sterling worth, over those whom he despised because they 
always triumphed and were forever good and pretty and beloved of 
women. He was chosen and beloved of a bevy of internationally re- 
nowned beauties, vampires and pure sweet girls alike, with fruity blondes 
in the lead, all contesting for his favors, and some of the least scrupulous 
resorting to underhand practices in order to win him. Their pure eyes 
turned up to him in everlasting close-ups: he feasted virtuously upon 
their proffered lips and, conflict over, murder sanctified, and virtue 
crowned, walked away with his siren into the convenient blaze of a 
constantly setting sun. 

With burning sidelong face he looked quickly up at Gant, twisting 
his convulsive neck. 

Across the street, a calcium glare from the corner light bathed 
coldly the new brick facade of the Orpheum Theatre. All This Week 
Gus Nolan and His Georgia Peaches. Also the Piedmont Comedy Four 
and Miss Bobbie Dukane. 

The theatre was dark, the second show was over. They stared 
curiously across the street at the posters. In this cold silence where 
were the Peaches? At the Athens now, upon the Square. They always 
went there after. Gant looked at his watch. 11.12. Big Bill Messier 
outside swinging his club and watching them. On the counter stools a 
dozen bucks and ogling rakehells. I've got a car outside. Dalliance 
under difficulties. Later, the Genevieve on Liberty Street. They all stay 
there. Whisperings. Footfalls. Raided. 

Girls from good families, some of them, I suppose, Gant thought. 

Opposite the Baptist church a hearse was drawn up before Gorham's 
Undertaking Parlors. A light burned dimly through the ferns. Who 
can that be? he wondered. Miss Annie Patton critically ill. She's past 
eighty. Some lunger from New York. A little Jew with a peaked face. 




Some one all the time. Await alike th' inevitable hour. Ah, Lord! 

With loss of hunger, he thought of undertaking and undertakers, 
and in particular of Mr. Gorham. He was a man with blond hair and 
white eyebrows. 

Waited to marry her when that rich young Cuban died, so they 
could take honeymoon to Havana. 

They turned down Spring Street by the Baptist Church. This is 
really like a city of the dead, Eugene thought. The town, rimed with 
frost, lay frozen below the stars in a cataleptic trance. The ammacy of 
life hung in abeyance. Nothing grew old, nothing decayed, nothing died. 
It was a triumph over time. If a great demon snapped his fingers and 
stopped all life in the world for an instant that should be a hundred 
years, who would know the difference? Every man a Sleeping Beauty. 
If you're waking call me early, call me early, mother dear. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 293 

He tried to see life and movement behind the walls, and failed. 
He and Gant were all that lived. For a house betrays nothing: there 
may be murder behind its very quiet face. He thought that Troy should 
be like this perfect, undecayed as the day when Hector died. Only they 
burned it. To find old cities as they were, unruined the picture charmed 
him. The Lost Atlantis. Ville d'Ys. The old lost towns, seasunken. 
Great vacant ways, unrusted, echoed under his lonely feet; he haunted 
vast arcades, he pierced the atrium, his shoes rang on the temple flags. 

Or to be, he lusciously meditated, left alone with a group^of pretty 
women in a town whence all the other people had fled from some terror 
of plague, earthquake, volcano, or other menace to which he, quite 
happily, was immune. Lolling his tongue delicately, he saw himself 
loafing sybantically through first-class confectioners' and grocers* shops, 
gorging like an anaconda on imported dainties: exquisite small fish from 
Russia, France, and Sardinia; coal-black hams from England; ripe 
olives, brandied peaches, and liqueur chocolates. He would loot old 
cellars for fat Burgundies, crack the gold necks of earth-chilled bottles 
of Pol Roger against the wall, and slake his noonday thirst at the spout- 
ing bung of a great butt of Munchener dunkels. When his linen was 
soiled he would outfit himself anew with silk underwear and the finest 
shirtings; he would have a new hat every day in the week and new suits 
whenever he pleased. 

He would occupy a new house every day, and sleep in a different 
bed every night, selecting the most luxurious residence ultimately for 
permanent occupancy, and bringing together in it the richest treasures 
of every notable library in the city. Finally, when he wanted a woman 
from the small group that remained and that spent its time in weaving 
new enticements for him, he would summons her by ringing out the 
number he had given her on the Court House bell. 

He wanted opulent solitude. His dark vision burned on kingdoms 
under the sea, on windy castle crags, and on the deep elf kingdoms at 
the earth's core. He groped for the doorless land of faery, that illimit- 
able haunted country that opened somewhere below a leaf or a stone. 
And no birds sing. 

More practically, he saw for himself great mansions in the ground, 



294 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

grottoes buried in the deep heart of a hill, vast chambers of brown 
earth, sumptuously appointed with his bee-like plunder. Cool hidden 
cisterns would bring him air; from a peephole in the hillside he could 
look down on a winding road and see armed men seeking for him, or 
hear their thwarted gropings overhead. He would pull fat fish from 
subterranean pools, his great earth cellars would be stocked with old 
wine, he could loot the world of its treasures, including the handsomest 
women, and never be caught. 

King Solomon's mines. She. Prosperine. Ali Baba. Orpheus and 
Eurydice. Naked came I from my mother's womb. Naked shall I re- 
turn. Let the mothering womb of earth engulf me. Naked, a valiant 
wisp of man, in vast brown limbs engulfed. 



They neared the corner above Eliza's. For the first time the boy 
noted that their pace had quickened, and that he had almost broken 
into a trot in order to keep up with Gant's awkward plunging strides. 

His father was moaning softly with long quivering exhalations of 
breath, and he had one hand clasped over his pain. The boy spluttered 
idiotically with laughter. Gant turned a glance full of reproach and 
physical torture upon him. 

"Oh-h-h-h-h! Merciful God," he whined, "it's hurting me." 

Abruptly, Eugene was touched with pity. For the first time he saw 
plainly that great Gant had grown old. The sallow face had yellowed 
and lost its smew. The thin mouth was petulant. The chemistry of decay 
had left its mark. 

No, there was no return after this. Eugene saw now that Gant was 
dying very slowly. The vast resiliency, the illimitable power of former 
times had vanished. The big frame was breaking up before him like a 
beached ship. Gant was sick. He was old. 

He had a disease that is very common among old men who have 
lived carelessly and lustily enlargement of the prostate gland. It was 
not often in itself a fatal disease it was more often one of the flags of 
age and death, but it was ugly and uncomfortable. It was generally 
treated successfully by surgery the operation was not desperate. But 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 295 

Gant hated and feared the knife: he listened eagerly to all persuasions 
against it. 

He had no gift for philosophy. He could not view with amusement 
and detachment the death of the senses, the waning of desire, the waxing 
of physical impotence. He fed hungrily, lewdly, on all news of seduc- 
tion: his amusement had in it the eyes of eagerness, the hot breath of 
desire. He was incapable of the pleasant irony by which the philosophic 
spirit mocks that folly it is no longer able to enjoy. 

Gant was incapable of resignation. He had the most burning of all 
lusts the lust of memory, the ravenous hunger of the will which tries 
to waken what is dead. He had reached the time of life when he read 
the papers greedily for news of death. As friends and acquaintances 
died he shook his head with the melancholy hypocrisy of old men, say- 
ing: "They're all going, one by one. Ah, Lord! The old man will be 
the next." But he did not believe it. Death was still for the others, not 
for himself. 

He grew old very rapidly. He began to die before their eyes a 
quick age, and a slow death, impotent, disintegrating, horrible because 
his life had been so much identified with physical excess huge drink- 
ing, huge eating, huge noting debauchery. It was fantastic and terrible 
to see the great body waste. They began to watch the progress of his 
disease with something of the horror with which one watches the move- 
ments of a dog with a broken leg, before he is destroyed a horror 
greater than that one feels when a man has a similar hurt, because a 
man may live without legs. A dog is all included in his hide. 

His wild bombast was tempered now by senile petulance. He cursed 
and whined by intervals. At the dead of night he would rise, full of 
pain and terror, blaspheming vilely against his God at one moment, 
and frantically entreating forgiveness at the next. Through all this 
tirade ran the high quivering exhalation of physical pain actual and 
undeniable. 

"Oh-h-h-h-h-h! I curse the day I was born! ... I curse the day I 
was given life by that bloodthirsty Monster up above . . . Oh-h-h-h-h-h! 
Jesus! I beg of you. I know I've been bad. Forgive me. Have mercy and 
pity upon me! Give me another chance, in Jesus' name . . . Oh-h-h-h-h!" 



296 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Eugene had moments of furious anger because of these demon- 
strations. He was angry that Gant, having eaten his cake, now howled 
because he had stomach-ache and at the same time begged for more. 
Bitterly he reflected that his father's life had devoured whatever had 
served it, and that few men had had more sensuous enjoyment, or had 
been more ruthless in their demands on others. He found these exhi- 
bitions, these wild denunciations and cowardly grovellings in propiti- 
ation of a God none of them paid any attention to in health, ugly and 
abominable. The constant meditation of both Gant and Eliza on the 
death of others, their morbid raking of the news for items announcing 
the death of some person known to them, their weird absorption with 
the death of some toothless hag who, galled by bedsores, at length found 
release after her eightieth year, while fire, famine, and slaughter in other 
parts of the world passed unnoticed by them, their extravagant super- 
stition over what was local and unimportant, seeing the intervention of 
God in the death of a peasant, and the suspension of divine law and 
natural order in their own, filled him with choking fury. 

But Eliza was in splendid condition now to ponder upon the death 
of others. Her health was perfect. She was in her middle fifties: she 
had grown triumphantly stronger after the diseases of the middle years. 
White, compact, a great deal heavier now than the had ever been, she 
performed daily tasks of drudgery in the maintenance of Dixieland, that 
would have floored a strong negro. She hardly ever got to bed before 
two o'clock in the morning, and was up again before seven. 

She admitted her health grudgingly. She made the most of every 
ache, and she infuriated Gant by meeting every complaint with a corre- 
sponding account of her own disorders. When badgered by Helen be- 
cause of her supposed neglect of the sick man or when the concentration 
of attention upon the invalid piqued her jealousy, she smiled with white 
tremulous bitterness, hinting darkly: 

"He may not be the first to go. I had a premonition I don't know 
what else you'd call it the other day. I tell you what it may not be 
long now " Her eyes bleared with pity shaking her puckered mouth, 
she wept at her own funeral. 

"Good heavens, mama!" Helen burst out furiously. "There's noth- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 297 

ing wrong with you. Papa's a sick man! Don't you realize that?" 

She didn't. 

"Pshaw!" she said. "There's nothing much wrong with him. 
McGuire told me two men out of three have it after they're fifty." 

His body as it sickened distilled a green bile of hatred against her 
crescent health. It made him mad to see her stand so strong. Murderous 
impotent, baffled a maniacal anger against her groped for an outlet 
in him, sometimes exploding in a wild inchoate scream. 

He yielded weakly to invalidism, he became tyrannous of attention, 
jealous of service. Her indifference to his health maddened him, created 
a morbid hunger for pity and tears. At times he got insanely drunk and 
tried to frighten her by feigning death, one time so successfully that Ben, 
bending over his rigid form in the hallway, was whitened with conviction. 

"I can't feel his heart, mama," he said, with a nervous whicker of 
his lips. 

"Well," she said, picking her language with deliberate choosiness, 
"the pitcher went to the well once too often. I knew it would happen 
sooner or later." 

Through a slotted eye he glared murderously at her. Judicially, 
with placid folded hands, she studied him. Her calm eye caught the 
slow movement of a stealthy inhalation. 

"You get his purse, son, and any papers he may have," she directed. 
"I'll call the undertaker." 

With an infuriate scream the dead awakened. 

"I thought that would bring you to," she said complacently. 

He scrambled to his feet. 

"You hell-hound!" he yelled. "You would drink my heart's blood. 
You are without mercy and without pity inhuman and bloody monster 
that you are." 

"Some day," Eliza observed, "you'll cry wolf- wolf once too often." 

He went three times a week to Cardiac's office for treatment. The 
dry doctor had grown old; behind his dusty restraint, the prim author- 
ity of his manner, there was a deepening well of senile bawdry. He had 
a comfortable fortune, he cared little for his dwindling practice. He was 



298 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

still a brilliant bacteriologist: he spent hours over slides etched in flower- 
ing patterns of bacilli, and he was sought after by diseased prostitutes, 
to whom he rendered competent service. 

He dissuaded the Gants from surgery. He was jealously absorbed 
in the treatment of Gant's disease, scoffed at operations, and insisted 
he could give adequate relief by manipulation of the affected parts and 
the use of the catheter. 

The two men became devoted friends. The doctor gave up entire 
mornings to the treatment of Gant's disease. The consulting-room was 
rilled with their sly laughter while scrofulous mountaineers glared dully 
at the pages of Life in the antechamber. As Gant sprawled out volup- 
tuously on the table after his masseur had finished his work, he listened 
appreciatively to the secrets of light women, or to tidbits from books of 
pseudoscientific pornography, of which the doctor had a large number. 

"You say," he demanded eagerly, "that the monks petitioned the 
archbishop?" 

"Yes," said the doctor. "They suffered during the hot weather. 
He wrote 'granted' across the petition. Here's a photograph of the 
document." He held the book open in his clean parched fingers. 

"Merciful God!" said Gant, staring. "I suppose it's pretty bad in 
those hot countries." 

He licked his thumb, smiling lewdly to himself. The late Oscar 
Wilde, for instance. 




21 

During the first years of this illness Gant showed a diminished, 
but not a seriously impaired, energy. At first he had, under the doctor's 
treatment, periods of tranquillity when he almost believed himself well. 
There were also times when he became a whining dotard over night, lay 
indolently abed for days, and was flabbily acquiescent to his disorder. 
These climaxes usually came on the heels of a roaring spree. The saloons 
had been closed for years: the town had been one of the first to vote 
on "local option." 

Gant had piously contributed his vote for purity. Eugene remem- 
bered the day, years before, when he went proudly with his father to 
the polls. The militant "drys" had agreed to advertise their vote by 
wearing a scrap of white silk in their lapels. That was for purity. The 
defiant wets wore "red." 

Announced by violent trumpetings in the Protestant churches, the 
day of atonement dawned on a seasoned army of well drilled teetotalers. 
Those wets who had victoriously withstood the pressure of hearth and 
pulpit their number (aie, aie,) was small went to their death with the 
gallant swagger, and with the gleam of purloined honor, of men who 
are to die fighting most desperately against the engulfing mob. 

299 



300 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

They did not know how gallant was their cause: they knew only 
that they had stood against the will of a priest-ridden community the 
most annihilating force in the village. They had never been told they 
stood for liberty; they stood rubily, stubbornly, with the strong brown 
smell of shame in their nostrils, for the bloodshot, malt-mouthed, red- 
nosed, loose-pursed Demon Rum. So, they came down with vine leaves 
in their hair, and a good fog of rye upon their breaths, and with brave 
set smiles around their determined mouths. 

As they approached the polls, glancing, like surrounded knights,, 
for an embattled brother, the church women of the town, bent like 
huntresses above the straining leash, gave the word to the eager children 
of the Sunday schools. Dressed all in white, and clutching firmly in 
their small hands the tiny stems of American flags, the pigmies, mon- 
strous as only children can be when they become the witless mouths of 
slogans and crusades, charged hungrily, uttering their shrill cries, upon 
their Gulliver. 

"There he is, children. Go get him." 

Swirling around the marked man in wild elves' dance, they sang 
with piping empty violence: 

"We are some fond mother's treasure, 

Men and women of to-morrow, 
For a moment's empty pleasure 
Would you give us lifelong sorrow? 

Think of sisters, wives, and mothers, 
Of helpless babes in some low slum, 

Think not of yourself, but others, 
Vote against the Demon Rum." 

Eugene shuddered, and looked up at Gant's white emblem with coy 
pride. They walked happily by unhappy alcoholics, deltaed in foaming 
eddies of innocence, and smiling murderously down at some fond 
mother's treasure. 

If they were mine I'd warm their little tails, they thought privately. 

Outside the corrugated walls of the warehouse, Gant paused for a 
moment to acknowledge the fervent congratulation of a group of ladies 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 301 

from the First Baptist Church: Mrs. Tarkinton, Mrs. Fagg Sluder, 
Mrs. C. M. McDonnei, and Mrs. W. H. (Pett) Pentland, who, heavily 
powdered, trailed her long skirt of gray silk with a musty rustle, and 
sneered elegantly down over her whaleboned collar. She was very fond 
of Gant. 

"Where's Will?" he asked. 

"Feathering the pockets of the licker interests, when he ought to 
be down here doing the Lord's Work," she replied with Christian bitter- 
ness. "Nobody but you knows what I've had to put up with, Mr. Gant. 
You've had to put up with the queer Pentland streak, in your own 
home," she added with lucid significance. 

He shook his head regretfully, and stared sorrowfully at the gutter. 

"Ah, Lord, Pett! We've been through the mill both of us." 

A smell of drying roots and sassafras twisted a sharp spiral from 
the warehouse into the thin slits of his nostrils. 

"When the time comes to speak up for the right," Pett announced 
to several of the ladies, "you'll always find Will Gant ready to do his 
part." 

With far-seeing statesmanship he looked westward toward Pisgah. 

"Licker," he said, "is a curse and a care. It has caused the sufferings 
of untold millions " 

"Amen, Amen," Mrs. Tarkinton chanted softly, swaying her wide 
hips rhythmically. 

" it has brought poverty, disease, and suffering to hundreds of 
thousands of homes, broken the hearts of wives and mothers, and taken 
bread from the mouths of little orphaned children." 

"Amen, brother." 

"It has been," Gant began, but at this moment his uneasy eye 
lighted upon the broad red face of Tim O'Doyle and the fierce whiskered 
whiskiness of Major Ambrose Nethersole, two prominent publicans, 
who were standing near the entrance not six feet away and listening 
attentively. 

"Go on!" Major Nethersole urged, with the deep chest notes of a 
bullfrog. "Go on, W.O., but for God's sake, don't belch!" 

"Begod!" said Tim O'Doyle, wiping a tiny rill of tobacco juice 



302 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

from the thick simian corner of his mouth, "I've seen him start for the 
door and step through the windey. When we see him coming we hire 
two extra bottle openers. He used to give the barman a bonus to get 
up early." 

"Pay no attention to them, ladies, I beg of you," said Gant scath- 
ingly. "They are the lowest of the low, the whisky-besotted dregs of 
humanity, who deserve to bear not even the name of men, so far have 
they retrograded backwards." 

With a flourishing sweep of his slouch hat he departed into the 
warehouse. 

"By God!" said Ambrose Nethersole approvingly. "It takes W.O. 
to tie a knot in the tail of the English language. It always did." 

But within two months he moaned bitterly his unwetted thirst. 
For several years he ordered, from time to time, the alloted quota a 
gallon of whisky every two weeks from Baltimore. It was the day of 
the blind tiger. The town was mined thickly with them. Bad rye and 
moonshine corn were the prevailing beverages. He grew old, he was 
sick, he still drank. 

A slow trickle of lust crawled painfully down the parched gulley 
of desire, and ended feebly in dry fumbling lechery. He made pretty 
young summer widows at Dixieland presents of money, underwear, and 
silk stockings, which he drew on over their shapely legs in the dusty 
gloom of his little office. Smiling with imperturbable tenderness, Mrs. 
Selborne thrust out her heavy legs slowly to swell with warm ripe smack 
his gift of flowered green-silk garters. Wetting his thumb with sly thin 
after-smile, he told. 

A grass widow, forty-nine, with piled hair of dyed henna, corseted 
breasts and hips architecturally protuberant in a sharp diagonal, meaty 
mottled arms, and a gulched face of leaden flaccidity puttied up brightly 
with cosmetics, rented the upstairs of Woodson Street while Helen was 
absent. 

L,"She looks like an adventuress, hey?" said Gant hopefully. 

She had a son. He was fourteen, with a round olive face, a soft 
white body, and thin legs. He bit his nails intently. His hair and eyes 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 303 

were dark, his face full of sad stealth. He was wise and made himself 
unobtrusively scarce at proper times. 

Gant came home earlier. The widow rocked brightly on the porch. 
He bowed sweepingly, calling her Madam. Coy-kittenish, she talked 
down at him, slogged against the creaking stair rail. She leered cosily 
at him. She came and went freely through his sitting-room, where he 
now slept. One evening, just after he had entered, she came in from the 
bathroom, scented lightly with the best soap, and beefily moulded into 
a flame-red kimono. 

A handsome woman yet, he thought. Good evening, madam. 

He got up from his rocker, put aside the crackling sheets of the 
evening paper (Republican), and undipped his steel-rimmed glasses 
from the great blade of his nose. 

She came over with sprightly gait to the empty hearth, clasping her 
wrapper tightly with veinous hands. 

Swiftly, with a gay leer, she opened the garment, disclosing her thin 
legs, silkshod, and her lumpy hips, gaudily clothed m ruffled drawers of 
blue silk. 

"Aren't they pretty?" she twittered invitingly but obscurely. Then, 
as he took an eager stride forward, she skipped away like a ponderous 
maenad soliciting Bacchic pursuit. 

" A pair of pippins," he agreed, inclusively. 

After this, she prepared breakfast for him. From Dixieland, Eliza 
surveyed them with a bitter eye. He had no talent for concealment. His 
visits morning and evening were briefer, his tongue more benevolent. 

"I know what you're up to down there," she said. "You needn't 
think I don't." 

He grinned sheepishly and wet his thumb. Her mouth worked 
silently at attempted speech for a moment. She speared a frying steak 
and flipped it over on its raw back, smiling vengefully in a mounting 
column of greasy blue vapor. He poked her clumsily with his stiff fin- 
gers; she shrieked a protest mixed of anger and amusement, and moved 
awkwardly out of his reach with bridling gait. 

"Get away! I don't want you round me! It's too late for that." 
She laughed with nagging mockery. 



304 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



"Don't you wish you could, though? Fll vow!" she continued, 
kneading her lips for several seconds in an effort to speak. "I'd be 
ashamed. Every one's laughing at you behind your back." 

"You lie! By God, you lie!" he thundered magnificently, touched. 
Hammer-hurling Thor. 

But he tired .very quickly of his new love. He was weary, and 




frightened by his depletion. For a time he gave the widow small sums 
of money, and forgot the rent. He transferred to her his storming abuse, 
muttered ominously to himself in long aisle-pacings at his shop, when 
he saw that he had lost the ancient freedom of his house and saddled 
himself with a tyrannous hag. One evening he returned insanely drunk, 
routed her out of her chamber and pursued her unfrocked, untoothed, 
unputtied, with a fluttering length of kimono in her palsied hand, driv- 
ing her finally into the yard beneath the big cherry tree, which he circled, 
howling, making frantic lunges for her as she twittered with fear, casting 
splintered glances all over the listening neighborhood as she put on the 
crumpled wrapper, hid partially the indecent jigging of her breasts, and 
implored succor. It did not come. 

"You bitch!" he screamed. "I'll kill you. You have drunk my 
heart' s-blood, you have driven me to the brink of destruction, and you 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 305 

gloat upon my misery, listening with fiendish delight to my death-rattle, 
bloody and unnatural monster that you are." 

She kept the tree deftly between them and, when his attention was 
diverted for a moment to the flood of anathema, tore off on fear-quick 
feet, streetward to the haven of the Tarkintons' house. As she rested 
there, in Mrs. Tarkmton's consolatory arms, weeping hysterically and 
dredging gullies in her poor painted face, they heard his chaotic foot- 
steps blundering within his house, the heavy crash of furniture, and his 
fierce curse when he fell. 

"He'll kill himself! He'll kill himself!" she cried. "He doesn't 
know what he's doing. Oh, my God!" she wept. "I've never been talked 
to that way by any man in my life!" 

Gant fell heavily within his house. There was silence. She rose 
fearfully. 

"He's not a bad man," she whispered. 

One morning in early summer, after Helen had returned, Eugene 
was wakened by scuffling feet and excited cries along the small board- 
walk that skirted the house on its upper side and led to the playhouse, 
a musty little structure of pine with a single big room, which he could 
almost touch from the sloping roof that flowed about his gabled back- 
room window. The playhouse was another of the strange extrava- 
gancies of Gantian fancy: it had been built for the children when they 
were young. It had been for many years closed, it was a retreat of delight ; 
its imprisoned air, stale and cool, was scented permanently with old 
pine boards, cased books, and dusty magazines. 

For some weeks now it had been occupied by Mrs. Selborne's South 
Carolina cook, Annie, a plump comely negress of thirty-five, with a 
rich coppery skin. The woman had come into the mountains for the 
summer: she was a good cook and expected work at hotels or boarding- 
houses. Helen engaged her for five dollars a week. It was an act of 
pride. 

That morning, Gant had wakened earlier and stared at his ceiling 
thoughtfully. He had risen, dressed, and wearing his leather slippers, 
walked softly back, along the boards, to the playhouse. Helen was 



306 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

roused by Annie's loud protests. Tingling with premonition she came 
down stairs, and found Gant wringing his hands and moaning as he 
walked up and down the washroom. Through the open doors she heard 
the negress complaining loudly to herself as she banged out drawers 
and slammed her belongings together. 

"I ain't used to no such goins-on. I'se a married woman, I is. I 
ain't goin' to stay in dis house anothah minnit." 

Helen turned furiously upon Gant and shook him. 

"You rotten old thing, you!" she cried. "How dare you!" 

"Merciful God!" he whined, stamping his foot like a child, and 
pacing up and down. "Why did this have to come upon me in my old 
age!" He began to sniffle affectedly. "Boo-hoo-hoo ! O Jesus, it's fear- 
ful, it's awful, it's cruel that you should put this affliction on me." His 
contempt for reason was Parnassian. He accused God for exposing 
him ; he wept because he had been caught. 

Helen rushed out to the playhouse and with large gesture and 
hearty entreaty strove to appease outraged Annie. 

"Come on, Annie," she coaxed. "I'll give you a dollar a week more 
if you stay. Forget about it!" 

"No'm," said Annie stubbornly. "I cain't stay heah any longer. 
I'se afraid of dat man." 

Gant paused m his distracted pacing from time to time long enough 
to cock an eager ear. At each iteration of Annie's firm refusals, he 
fetched out a deep groan and took up his lament again. 

Luke, who had descended, had fidgeted about in a nervous prance 
from one large bare foot to another. Now he went to the door and 
looked out, bursting suddenly into a large Whah-Whah as he caught 
sight of the sullen respectability of the negress' expression. Helen came 
back into the house with an angry perturbed face. 

"She'll tell this all over town," she announced. 

Gant moaned in lengthy exhalations. Eugene, shocked at first, and 
frightened, flung madly across the kitchen linoleum in twisting leaps, 
falling catlike on his bare soles. He squealed ecstatically at Ben who loped 
in scowling, and began to snicker in short contemptuous fragments. 

"And of course she'll tell Mrs. Selborne all about it, as soon as she 
goes back to Henderson." Helen continued. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 307 

"O my God!" Gant whined, "why was this put on me " 

"O gotohell! Gotohell!" she said comically, her wrath loosened 
suddenly by a ribald and exasperated smile. They howled. 

"I shall dy-ee." 

Eugene choked in faint hiccoughs and began to slide gently down 
the kitchen-washroom door jamb. 

"Ah! you little idiot!" Ben snarled, lifting his white hand sharply. 
He turned away quickly with a flickering smile. 

At this moment, Annie appeared on the walk outside the door, 
with a face full of grieved decorum. 

Luke looked nervously and gravely from his father to the negress, 
fidgeting from one big foot to the other. 

'Tse a married woman," said Anna. "I ain't used to nothin' like 
dis. I wants my money." 

Luke blew up in an explosion of wild laughter. 

"Whah-whah!" He pronged her larded ribs with scooped fingers. 
She moved away angrily, muttering. 

Eugene lolled about feebly on the floor, kicking one leg out gently 
as if he had just been decapitated, and fumbling blindly at the neck- 
band of his nightshirt. A faint clucking sound came at intervals from 
his wide-open mouth. 

They laughed wildly, helplessly, draining into mad laughter all the 
welled and agglutinated hysteria that had gathered in them, washing 
out in a moment of fierce surrender all the fear and fatality of their lives, 
the pain of age and death. 

Dying, he walked among them, whining his lament against God's 
lidless stare, gauging their laughter cautiously with uneasy prying eyes, 
a faint tickled grin playing craftily about his wailing mouth. 

Roofing the deep tides, swinging in their embrace, rocked Eliza's 
life Sargassic, as when, at morning, a breath of kitchen air squirmed 
through her guarded crack of door, and fanned the pendant clusters of 
old string in floating rhythm. She rubbed the sleep gently from her small 
weak eyes, smiling dimly as she thought, unwakened, of ancient losses. 
Her worn fingers still groped softly in the bed beside her, and when she 
found it vacant, she awoke. Remembered. My youngest, my oldest, 



308 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

final bitter fruit, O dark of soul, O far and lonely, where? Remembered 
O his face! Death-son, partner of my peril, last coinage of my flesh, 
who wanned my flanks and nestled to my back. Gone? Cut off from 
me? When? Where? 

The screen slammed, the market boy dumped ground sausage on 
the table, a negress fumbled at the stove. Awake now. 

Ben moved quietly, but not stealthily, about, confessing and deny- 
ing nothing. His thin laughter pierced the darkness softly above the 
droning creak of the wooden porch-swing. Mrs. Pert laughed gently, 
comfortingly. She was forty-three: a large woman of gentle manners, 
who drank a great deal. When she was drunk, her voice was soft, low, 
and fuzzy, she laughed uncertainly, mildly, and walked with careful 
alcoholic gravity. She dressed well : she was well fleshed, but not sensual- 
looking. She had good features, soft oaken hair, blue eyes, a little 
bleared. She laughed with a comfortable, happy chuckle. They were 
all very fond of her. Helen called her "Fatty." 

Her husband was a drug salesman : he travelled through Tennessee, 
Arkansas, and Mississippi, and returned to Altamont for a fortnight 
every four months. Her daughter, Catherine, who was almost Ben's age, 
came to Dixieland for a few weeks each summer. She was a school- 
teacher in a public school in a Tennessee village. Ben squired both. 

Mrs. Pert chuckled softly when she spoke to him, and called him 
"Old Ben." In the darkness he sat, talking a little, humming a little, 
laughing occasionally in his thin minor key, quietly, with a cigarette 
between his forked ivory fingers, drawing deeply. He would buy a flask 
of whisky and they would drink it very quietly. Perhaps they talked a 
little more. But they were never riotous. Occasionally, they would rise 
at midnight from the swing, and go out into the street, departing under 
leafy trees. They would not return during the night. Eliza, ironing out a 
great pile of rumpled laundry in the kitchen, would listen. Presently, 
she would mount the stairs, peer carefully into Mrs. Pert's room, and 
descend, her lips thoughtfully kneaded. 

She had to speak these things to Helen. There was a strange defiant 
communion between them. They laughed or were bitter together. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 309^ 

"Why, of course," said Helen, impatiently, "I've known it all 
along." But she looked beyond the door curiously, her big gold-laced* 
teeth half-shown in her opened mouth, the child look of belief, wonder, 
scepticism, and hurt innocency in her big highboned face. 

"Do you suppose he really does? Oh surely not mama. She's old 
enough to be his mother." 

Across Eliza's white puckered face, thoughtful and reproving, a sly 
smile broke. She rubbed her finger under the broad wings of her nose 
to conceal it, and snickered. 

"I tell you what!" she said. "He's a chip off the old block. His 
father over again," she whispered. "It's in the blood." 

Helen laughed huskily, picking vaguely at her chin, and gazing out 
across the weedy garden. 

"Poor old Ben!" she said, and her eyes, she did not know why, 
were sheeted with tears. "Well, Tatty's' a lady. 1 like her I don't care 
who knows it," she added defiantly. "It's their business anyway. They're 
quiet about it. You've got to say that much for them." 

She was silent a moment. 

"Women are crazy about him," she said. "They like the quiet ones, 
don't they? He's a gentleman." 

Eliza shook her head portentously for several moments. 

"What do you think 1 " she whispered, and shook her pursed lips 
again. "Always ten years older at least." 

"Poor old Ben!" Helen said again. 

"The quiet one. The sad one. I tell you what!" Eliza shook her 
head, unable to speak. Her eyes too were wet. 

They thought of sons and lovers : they drew closer in their com- 
munion, they drank the cup of their twin slavery as they thought of the 
Gant men who would always know hunger, the strangers on the land, 
the unknown farers who had lost their way. O lost ! 

The hands of women were hungry for his crisp hair. When they 
came to the paper office to insert advertisements they asked for him. 
Frowning gravely, he leaned upon the counter with feet crossed, read- 
ing, in a somewhat illiterate monotone, what they had written. His 



310 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

thin hairy wrists slatted leanly against his starched white cuffs, his strong 
"nervous fingers, ivoried by nicotine, smoothed out the crumples. Scowl- 
ing intently, he bent his fine head, erasing, arranging. Empathic lady- 
fingers twitched. "How's that?" Answers vague-voiced, eyes tangled 
in crisp hair. "Oh, much better, thank you." 

Wanted: frowning boy-man head for understanding fingers of 
mature and sympathetic woman. Unhappily married. Address Mrs. 
B. J. X., Box 74. Eight cents a word for one insertion. "Oh, [tenderly] 
thank you, Ben." 

"Ben," said Jack Eaton, the advertising manager, thrusting his 
plump face into the city editor's office, "one of your harem's out there. 
She wanted to murder me when I tried to take it. See if she's got a 
friend." 

"Oh, listen to this, won't you?" Ben snickered fiercely to the City 
Editor. "You missed your calling, Eaton. What you want is the end- 
man's job with Honeyboy Evans." 

Scowling, he cast the cigarette from his ivory hand, and loped out 
into the office. Eaton remained a moment to laugh with the City Editor. 
O rare Ben Gant! 

Sometimes, returning late at night to Woodson Street, in the 
crowded summer season, he slept with Eugene in the front room up- 
stairs where they had all been born. Propped high on pillows in the old 
cream-colored bed, painted gaily at head and foot with round medals 
of clustering fruit, he read aloud in a quiet puzzled voice, fumbling over 
pronunciation, the baseball stones of Ring Lardner. You know me, Al. 
Just outside the windows the flat veranda roof was still warm from its 
daytime exhalations of tar-calked tin. Rich cobwebbed grapes hung in 
packed clusters among the broad leaves. / didn't raise my boy to be a 
southpaw. I've a good mind to give Gleason a sock in the eye. 

Ben read painfully, pausing a moment later to snicker. Thus, like a 
child, he groped intently at all meanings, with scowling studiousness. 
Women liked to see him scowl and study so. He was sudden only in 
anger, and in his quick communications with his angel. 




22 

loward the beginning of Eugene's fourteenth year, when he had 
been a student at Leonard's for two years, Ben got work for him as a 
paper carrier. Eliza grumbled at the boy's laziness. She complained 
that she could get him to do little or nothing for her. In fact, he was not 
lazy, but he hated ail the dreariness of boarding-house routine. Her 
demands on him were not heavy, but they were frequent and unexpected. 
He was depressed at the uselessness of effort in Dixieland, at the total 
erasure of all daily labor. If she had given him position, the daily 
responsibility of an ordered task, he could have fulfilled it with zeal. 
But her own method was much too random: she wanted to keep him on 
tap for an occasional errand, and he did not have her interest. 

Dixieland was the heart of her life. It owned her. It appalled him. 
When she sent him to the grocer's for bread, he felt wearily that the 
bread would be eaten by strangers, that nothing out of the effort of their 
lives grew younger, better, or more beautiful, that all was erased in a 
daily wash of sewage. She sent him forth in the rank thicket of her 
garden to hoe out the swarming weeds that clustered about her vege- 
tables, which flourished, as did all the earth, under her careless touch. 

311 



312 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He knew, as he chopped down in a weary frenzy, that the weeds would 
grow again in the hot sun-stench, that her vegetables weeded or not 
would grow fat and be fed to her boarders, and that her life, hers alone, 
would endure to something. As he looked at her, he felt the weariness 
and horror of time: all but her must die in a smothering Sargasso. 
Thus, flailing the clotted earth drunkenly, he would be brought to sud- 
denly by her piercing scream from the high back porch, and realize that 
he had destroyed totally a row of young bladed corn. 

"Why, what on earth, boy!" she fretted angrily, peering down at 
him through a shelving confusion of wash-tubs, limp drying stockings, 
empty milk-bottles, murky and unwashed, and rusty lard-buckets. "I'll 
vow!" she said, turning to Mr. Baskett, the Hattiesburg cotton merchant, 
who grinned down malarially through his scraggly mustaches, "what 
am I going to do with him? He's chopped down every stock of corn in 
the row." 

"Yes," Mr. Baskett said, peering over, "and missed every weed. 
Boy," he added judicially, "you need two months on a farm." 

The bread that I fetch will be eaten by strangers. I carry coal and 
split up wood for fires to warm them. Smoke. Fuimusfumus. All of our 
life goes up in smoke. There is no structure, no creation in it, not even 
the smoky structure of dreams. Come lower, angel; whisper in our ears. 
We are passing away in smoke and there is nothing to-day but weariness 
to pay us for yesterday's toil. How may we save ourselves? 

He was given the Niggertown route the hardest and least profit- 
able of all. He was paid two cents a copy for weekly deliveries, given 
ten per cent of his weekly collections, and ten cents for every new sub- 
scription. Thus, he was able to earn four or five dollars a week. His 
thin undeveloped body drank sleep with insatiable thirst, but it was 
now necessary for him to get up at half-past three in the morning with 
darkness and silence making an unreal humming in his drugged ears. 

Strange aerial music came fluting out of darkness, or over his slow- 
wakening senses swept the great waves of symphonic orchestration. 
Fiend-voices, beautiful and sleep-loud, called down through darkness 
and light, developing the thread of ancient memory. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 313 

Staggering blindly in the whitewashed glare, his eyes, sleepcorded 
opened slowly as he was born anew, umbilically cut, from darkness. 

Waken, ghost-eared boy, but into darkness. Waken, phantom, O 
into us. Try, try, O try the way. Open the wall of light. Ghost, ghost, 
who is the ghost? O lost. Ghost, ghost, who is the ghost? O whisper- 
tongued laughter. Eugene! Eugene! Here, O here, Eugene. Here, 
Eugene. The way is here, Eugene. Have you forgotten? The leaf, the 
rock, the wall of light. Lift up the rock, Eugene, the leaf, the stone, the 
unfound door. Return, return. 

A voice, sleep-strange and loud, forever far- near, spoke. 

Eugene! 

Spoke, ceased, continued without speaking, to speak. In him spoke. 
Where darkness, son, is light. Try, boy, the word you know remember. 
In the beginning was the logos. Over the border the borderless green- 
forested land. Yesterday, remember? 

Far-forested, a horn-note wound. Sea-forested, water-far, the 
grotted coral sea-far horn-note. The pilhoned ladies witch-faced in 
bottle-green robes saddle-swinging. Merwomen unsealed and lovely in 
sea-floor colonnades. The hidden land below the rock. The flitting 
wood-girls growing into bark. Far-faint, as he wakened, they besought 
him with lessening whir. Then deeper song, fiend-throated, wind-shod. 
Brother, O brother! They shot down the brink of darkness, gone on the 
wind like bullets. O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back 
again. 

He dressed and descended the stairs gently to the back porch. The 
cool air, charged with blue starlight, shocked his body into wakefulness, 
but as he walked townward up the silent streets, the strange ringing in 
his ears persisted. He listened, like his own ghost, to his footsteps, heard 
from afar the winking flicker of the street-lamps, saw, from sea-sunk 
eyes, the town. 

There sounded in his heart a solemn music. It filled the earth, the 
air, the universe; it was not loud, but it was omnipresent, and it spoke 
to him of death and darkness, and of the focal march of all who lived 
or had lived, converging on a plain. The world was filled with silent 



314 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

marching men: no word was spoken, but in the heart of each there was 
a common knowledge, the word that all men knew and had forgotten, 
the lost key opening the prison gates, the lane-end into heaven, and as 
the music soared and filled him, he cried: "I will remember. When I 
come to the place, I shall know." 

Hot bands of light streamed murkily from the doors and windows 
of the office. From the press-room downstairs there was an ascending 
roar as the big press mounted to its capacity. As he entered the office 
and drank in the warm tides of steel and ink that soaked the air, he 
awoke suddenly, his light-drugged limbs solidifying with a quick shock, 
as would some aerial spirit, whose floating body corporealizes the instant 
it touches earth. The carriers, waiting in a boisterous line, filed up to 
the circulation manager's desk, depositing their collections, cold hand- 
fuls of greasy coin. Seated beneath a green-shaded light, he ran swiftly 
down their books, totalling up their figures and counting nickels, dimes, 
and pennies into the little spooned trays of a drawer. Then he gave to 
each a scrawled order for his morning quota. 

They ran downstairs, eager as whippets to be off, brandishing their 
slips at a sullen counter whose black fingers galloped accurately across 
the stiff ridges of a great sheaf. He allowed them two "extras." If the 
carrier was not scrupulous, he increased his number of spare copies by 
keeping on his book the names of a half-dozen discontinued subscribers. 
These surplus copies were always good for coffee and pie with the lunch- 
man, or as tribute to a favorite policeman, fireman, or motorman. 

In the press-pit Harry Tugman loafed under their stare comfort- 
ably, a fat trickle of cigarette smoke coiling from his nostrils. He glanced 
over the press with professional carelessness, displaying his powerful 
chest with its thick bush, which lay a dark blot under his sweat-wet 
under-shirt. An assistant pressman climbed nimbly among roaring 
pistons and cylinders, an oil-can and a bunch of waste in his hand. A 
broad river of white paper rushed constantly up from the cylinder and 
leaped into a mangling chaos of machinery whence it emerged a second 
later, cut, printed, folded and stacked, sliding along a board with a 
hundred others in a fattening sheaf. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 315 

Machine-magic! Why not men, like that? Doctor, surgeon, poet, 
priest stacked, folded, printed. 

Harry Tugman cast away his wet fragment of cigarette with a 
luxurious grimace. The carriers eyed him reverently. Once he had 
knocked a sub-pressman down for sitting in his chair. He was Boss. 
He got $55 a week. If he was not pleased he could get work at any 
time on the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Louisville Courier Journal 
the Atlanta Constitution, the Knoxville Sentinel, the Norfolk Pilot. He 
could travel. 

In a moment more they were out on the streets, hobbling along 
rapidly under the accustomed weight of the crammed canvas bags. 

He was most desperately afraid of failure. He listened with con- 
stricted face to Eliza's admonition. 

"Spruce up, boy! Spruce up! Make them think you are somebody!" 

He had little confidence in himself; he recoiled in advance from 
the humiliation of dismissal. He feared the sabre-cut of language, and 
before his own pride he drew back and was afraid. 

For three mornings he accompanied the retiring carrier, gathering 
his mind to focal intensity while he tried to memorize each stereotyped 
movement of the delivery, tracing again and again the labyrinthine web 
of Niggertown, wreaking his plan out among the sprawled chaos of clay 
and slime, making incandescent those houses to which a paper was 
delivered, and forgetting the others. Years later, alone in darkness, 
when he had forgotten the twisted anarchy of that pattern, he still 
remembered a corner where he left his bag while he climbed a spur of 
hill, a bank down which he clambered to three rotting shacks, a high 
porched house into which accurately he shot his folded block of news. 

The retiring carrier was a robust country boy of seventeen who 
had been given better employment at the paper office. His name was 
Jennings Ware. He was tough, good-humored, a little cynical, and he 
smoked a great many cigarettes. He was clothed in vitality and comfort. 
He taught his pupil when and where to expect the prying face of "Foxy," 
how to escape discovery under the lunch-room counter, and how to 
fold a paper and throw it with the speed and accuracy of a ball. 




In the 

the Mil of Into past the 

of all the the and 

of As the stiff of 

on the of a or the 

of a they by a of 

this one said "if you 

Sh for sk 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 317 

"This one," he said, flipping a paper quietly on a door mat, "is good 
pay. They're good niggers. You'll get your money every Wednesday." 

"There's a High Yaller in here," he said, hurling the paper against 
the door with a whizzing smack and smiling, as a young full-meated 
woman's yell of indignation answered, a thin devil's grin. "You can 
have that if you want it." 

A wan smile of fear struggled across Eugene's mouth. Jennings 
Ware looked at him shrewdly, but did not press him. Jennings Ware 
was a good-hearted boy. 

"She's a pretty good old girl," he said. ''You've got a right to a 
few dead-heads. Take it out in trade." 

They walked on down the dark unpaved street, folding papers 
rapidly during the intervals between delivery. 

"It's a hell of a route," said Jennings Ware. "When it rains it's 
terrible. You'll go into mud up to your knees. And you can't collect 
from half the bastards." He hurled a paper viciously. 

"But, oh man!" he said, after a moment. "If you want Jelly Roll 
you've come to the right place. I ain't kidding you!" 

"With with niggers?" Eugene whispered, moistening his dry lips. 

Jennings Ware turned his red satirical face on him. 

"You don't see any Society Belles around here, do you?" he said. 

"Are niggers good?" Eugene asked in a small dry voice. 

"Boy!" The word blew out of Jennings Ware's mouth like an 
explosion. He was silent a moment. 

"There ain't nothing better," he said. 

At first, the canvas strap of the paper-bag bit cruelly across his 
slender shoulders. He strained against the galling weight that pulled 
him earthwards. The first weeks were like a warring nightmare: day 
after day he fought his way up to liberation. He knew all the sorrow of 
those who carry weight; he knew, morning by morning, the aerial 
ecstasy of release. As his load lightened with the progress of his route, 
his leaning shoulder rose with winged buoyancy, his straining limbs 
grew light: at the end of his labor his flesh, touched sensuously by 
fatigue, bounded lightly from the earth. He was Mercury chained by 



318 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

fardels, Ariel bent beneath a pack: freed, his wingshod feet trod bright- 
ness. He sailed in air. The rapier stars glinted upon his serfdom: dawn 
reddened on release. He was like a sailor drowned within the hold, who 
gropes to life and morning through a hatch; a diver twined desperately 
in octopal feelers, who cuts himself from death and mounts slowly from 
the sea-floor into light. 

Within a month a thick hummock of muscle hardened on his 
shoulder: he bent jubilantly into his work. He had now no fear of 
failure. His heart lifted like a proud crested cock. He had been dropped 
among others without favor, and he surpassed them. He was a lord of 
darkness; he exulted in the lonely sufficiency of his work. He walked 
into the sprawled chaos of the settlement, the rifleman of news for 
sleeping men. His fast hands blocked the crackling sheet, he swung his 
lean arm like a whip. He saw the pale stars drown, and ragged light 
break open on the hills. Alone, the only man alive, he began the day 
for men, as he walked by the shuttered windows and heard the long 
denned snore of the tropics. He walked amid this close thick sleep, 
hearing again the ghostly ring of his own feet, and the vast orchestral 
music of darkness. As the gray tide of morning surged westward he 
awoke. 

And Eugene watched the slow fusion of the seasons; he saw the 
royal processional of the months; he saw the summer light eat like a 
river into dark; he saw dark triumph once again; and he saw the minute- 
winning days, like flies, buzz home to death. 

In summer, full day had come before he finished : he walked home 
in a world of wakenings. The first cars were grouped on the Square as 
he passed, their new green paint giving them the pleasant appearance of 
fresh toys. The huge battered cans of the milkmen glinted cleanly in the 
sun. Light fell hopefully upon the swarthy greasmess of George 
Chakales, nightman of the Athens Cafe. The Hellenic Dawn. And in 
Uneeda No. 1, upon the Square, Eugene sat, washing an egg-sandwich 
down with long swallows of pungent coffee, stooled in a friendly com- 
pany of motormen, policemen, chauffeurs, plasterers, and masons. It 
was very pleasant, he felt, to complete one's work when all the world 
was beginning theirs. He went home under singing trees of birds. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 319 

In autumn, a late red moon rode low in the skies till morning. The 
air was filled with dropping leaves, there was a solemn thunder of great 
trees upon the hills; sad phantasmal whisperings and the vast cathedral 
music deepened in his heart. 

In winter, he went down joyously into the dark howling wind, lean- 
ing his weight upon its advancing wall as it swept up a hill; and when in 
early Spring the small cold rain fell from the reeking sky he was content. 
He was alone. 



He harried his deficient subscribers for payment, with a wild tenac- 
ity. He accepted their easy promises without question; he hunted them 
down in their own rooms, or in the rooms of a neighbor, he pressed so 
doggedly that, at length, sullenly or good-humoredly, they paid a part 
of their debt. This was more than any of his predecessors had accomp- 
lished, but he fretted nervously over his accounts until he found that 
he had become, for the circulation manager, the exemplar for indolent 
boys. As he dumped his desperately gathered pile of "chicken feed" 
upon the man's desk, his employer would turn accusingly to a delinquent 
boy, saying: 

"Look at that! He does it every week! Niggers, too!" 

His pallid face would flame with joy and pride. When he spoke to 
the great man his voice trembled. He could hardly speak. 

As the wind yelled through the dark, he burst into maniacal 
laughter. He leaped high into the air with a scream of insane exult- 
ancy, burred in his throat idiot animal-squeals, and shot his papers 
terrifically into the flimsy boarding of the shacks. He was free. He was 
alone. He heard the howl of a train-whistle, and it was not so far away. 
In the darkness he flung his arm out to the man on the rails, his goggled 
brother with steel-steady rail-fixed eyes. 

He did not shrink so much, beneath the menace of the family fist. 
He was more happily unmindful of his own unworthiness. 

Assembled with three or four of the carriers in the lunchroom, he 
learned to smoke: in the sweet blue air of Spring, as he sloped down to 
his route, he came to know the beauty of Lady Nicotine, the delectable 



320 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

wraith who coiled into his brain, left her poignant breath in his young 
nostrils, her sharp kiss upon his mouth. 

He was a sharp blade. 

The Spring drove a thorn into his heart, it drew a wild cry from 
his lips. For it, he had no speech. 

He knew hunger. He knew thirst. A great flame rose in him. He 
cooled his hot face in the night by bubbling water jets. Alone, he wept 
sometimes with pain and ecstasy. At home the frightened silence of his 
childhood was now touched with savage restraint. He was wired like a 
race-horse. A white atom of inchoate fury would burst in him like a 
rocket, and for a moment he would be cursing mad. 

"What's wrong with him? Is it the Pentland crazy streak coming 
out?" Helen asked, seated m Eliza's kitchen. 

Eliza moulded her lips portentously for some time, shaking her 
head slowly. 

"Why," she said, with a cunning smile, "don't you know, child?" 

His need for the negroes had become acute. He spent his afternoons 
after school combing restlessly through the celled hive of Niggertown. 
The rank stench of the branch, pouring its thick brown sewage down a 
bed of worn boulders, the smell of wood-smoke and laundry stewing in 
a black iron yard-pot, and the low jungle cadences of dusk, the forms 
that slid, dropped, and vanished, beneath a twinkling orchestration of 
small sounds. Fat ropes of language in the dusk, the larded sizzle of 
frying fish, the sad faint twanging of a banjo, and the stamp, far-faint, of 
heavy feet; voices Nilotic, river- wailing, and the greasy light of four 
thousand smoky lamps in shack and tenement. 

From the worn central butte round which the colony swarmed,the 
panting voices of the Calvary Baptist Church mounted, in an exhausting 
and unceasing frenzy, from seven o'clock until two in the morning, in 
their wild jungle wail of sin and love and death. The dark was hived 
with flesh and mystery. Rich wells of laughter bubbled everywhere. 
The catforms slid. Everything was immanent. Everything was far. 
Nothing could be touched. 

In this old witch-magic of the dark, he began to know the awful 
innocence of evil, the terrible youth of an ancient race; his lips slid 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 321 

back across his teeth, he prowled in darkness with loose swinging arms, 
and his eyes shone. Shame and terror, indefinable, surged through him. 
He could not face the question in his heart. 

A good part of his subscription list was solidly founded among 
decent and laborious darkies barbers, tailors, grocers, pharmacists, 
and ginghamed black housewives, who paid him promptly on a given 
day each week, greeting him with warm smiles full of teeth, and titles 
of respect extravagant and kindly: "Mister," "Colonel," "General," 
"Governor," and so on. They all knew Gant. 

But another part the part in which his desire and wonder met 
were "floaters," young men and women of precarious means, variable 
lives, who slid mysteriously from cell to cell, who peopled the night with 
their flitting stealth. He sought these phantoms fruitlessly for weeks, 
until he discovered that he might find them only on Sunday morning, 
tossed like heavy sacks across one another, in the fetid dark of a tene- 
ment room, a half-dozen young men and women, in a snoring exhaustion 
of whisky-stupor and sexual depletion. 

One Saturday evening, in the fading red of a summer twilight, he 
returned to one of these tenements, a rickety three-story shack, that 
cropped its two lower floors down a tall clay bank at the western ledge, 
near the whites. Two dozen men and women lived here. He was on the 
search for a woman named Ella Corpemng. He had never been able 
to find her: she was weeks behind in her subscriptions. But her door 
stood open to-night: a warm waft of air and cooking food came up to 
him. He descended the rotten steps that climbed the bank. 

Ella Corpening sat facing the door in a rocking chair, purring lazily 
in the red glow of a little kitchen range, with her big legs stretched com- 
fortably out on the floor. She was a mulatto of twenty-six years, a 
handsome woman of Amazonian proportions, with smooth tawny skin. 

She was dressed in the garments of some former mistress: she wore 
a brown woollen skirt, patent-leather shoes with high suede tops pearl- 
buttoned, and gray silk hose. Her long heavy arms shone darkly through 
the light texture of a freshly laundered white shirtwaist. A lacing of 
cheap blue ribbon gleamed across the heavy curve of her breasts. 



322 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

There was a bubbling pot of cabbage and sliced fat pork upon the 
stove. 

"Paper boy," said Eugene. "Come to collect." 

"Is you de boy?" drawled Ella Corpening with a lazy movement 
of her arm. "How much does I owe?" 

"$1.20," he answered. He looked meaningfully at one extended 
leg, where, thrust in below the knee, a wadded bank-note gleamed dully. 

"Dat's my rent money," she said. "Can't give you dat. Dollah- 
twenty!" She brooded. "Uh! Uh!" she grunted pleasantly. "Don't 
seem lak it ought to be dat much." 

"It is, though," he said, opening his account book. 

"It mus' is," she agreed, "if de book say so." 

She meditated luxuriously for a moment. 

"Does you collec' Sunday mawnin'?" she asked. 

"Yes," he said. 

"You come roun' in de mawnin'," she said hopefully. "I'll have 
somethin' fo' yuh, sho. 1'se waitin' fo' a white gent'man now. He's 
goin' gib me a dollah." 

She moved her great limbs slowly, and smiled at him. Forked 
pulses beat against his eyes. He gulped dryly : his legs were rotten with 
excitement. 

"What's what's he going to give you a dollar for?" he muttered, 
barely audible. 

"Jelly Roll," said Ella Corpening. 

He moved his lips twice, unable to speak. She got up from her 
chair. 

"What yo' want?" she asked softly. "Jelly Roll?" 

"Want to see to see!" he gasped. 

She closed the door opening on the bank and locked it. The stove 
cast a grated glow from its open ashpan. There was a momentary rain 
of red cinders into the pit. 

Ella Corpening opened the door beyond that, leading to another 
room. There were two dirty rumpled beds; the single window was 
bolted and covered by an old green shade. She lit a smoky little lamp, 
and turned the wick low. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 323 

There was a battered little dresser with a mottled glass, from which 
the blistered varnish was flaking. Over the screened hearth, on a low 
mantel, there was a Kewpie doll, sashed with pink ribbon, a vase with 
fluted edges and gilt flowers, won at a carnival, and a paper of pins. 
A calendar, also, by courtesy of the Altamont Coal and Ice Company, 
showing an Indian maid paddling her canoe down an alley of paved 
moonlight, and a religious motto in flowered scrollwork, framed in 
walnut: God Loves Them Both. 

"What yo' want?" she whispered, facing him. 

Far off, he listened to the ghost of his own voice. 

"Take off your clothes." 

Her skirt fell in a ring about her feet. She took off her starched 
waist. In a moment, save for her hose, she stood naked before him. 

Her breath came quickly, her full tongue licked across her mouth. 

"Dance!" he cried. "Dance!" 

She began to moan softly, while an undulant tremor flowed through 
her great yellow body; her hips and her round heavy breasts writhed 
slowly in a sensual rhythm. 

Her straight oiled hair fell across her neck in a thick shock. She 
extended her arms for balance, the lids closed over her large yellow 
eyeballs. She came near him. He felt her hot breath on his face, the 
smothering flood of her breasts. He was whirled like a chip in the wild 
torrent of her passion. Her powerful yellow hands gripped his slender 
arms round like bracelets. She shook him to and fro slowly, fastening 
him tightly against her pelt. 

He strained back desperately against the door, drowning in her 
embrace. 

"Get-'way-nigger. Get-'way," he panted thickly. 

Slowly she released him: without opening her eyes, moaning, she 
slid back as if he had been a young tree. She sang, in a wailing minor 
key, with unceasing iteration: 

"Jelly Roll! Je-e-e-ly Roll!" 

her voice falling each time to a low moan. 



324 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



Her face, the broad column of her throat, and her deep-breasted 
torso were rilled with sweat. He fumbled blindly for the door, lunged 
across the outer room and, gasping, found his way into the air. Her 
chant, unbroken and undisturbed by his departure, followed him up the 
flimsy steps. He did not pause to get his breath until he came to the 
edge of the market square. Below him in the valley, across on the butte, 
the smoky lamps of Niggertown flared in the dusk. Faint laughter, rich, 
jungle-wild, welled up from hived darkness. He heard lost twangling 
notes, the measured thump of distant feet; beyond, above, more thin, 
more far than all, the rapid wail of sinners m a church. 





23 



<rra#jLi6us rpets 7rapa9a77as TrevTeKaLdeKa eirl rbv 



lie did not tell the Leonards that he was working in the early 
morning. He knew they would oppose his employment, and that their 
opposition would manifest itself m the triumphant argument of low- 
ered grades. Also, Margaret Leonard, he knew, would talk ominously 
of health undermined, of the promise of future years destroyed, of the 
sweet lost hours of morning sleep that could never be regained. He was 
really more robust now than he had ever been. He was heavier and 
stronger. But he sometimes felt a gnawing hunger for sleep: he grew 
heavy at mid-day, revived in the afternoon, but found it difficult to 
keep his sleepy brain fixed on a book after eight o'clock m the evening. 

He learned little of discipline. Under the care of the Leonards he 
came even to have a romantic contempt for it. Margaret Leonard had 
the marvelous vision, of great people, for essences. She saw always the 
dominant color, but she did not always see the shadings. She was an 
inspired sentimentalist. She thought she "knew boys": she was proud 

325 



326 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

of her knowledge of them. In fact, however, she had little knowledge of 
them. She would have been stricken with horror if she could have 
known the wild confusion of adolescence, the sexual nightmares of 
puberty, the grief, the fear, the shame in which a boy broods over the 
dark world of his desire. She did not know that every boy, caged in 
from confession by his fear, is to himself a monster. 

She did not have knowledge. But she had wisdom. She found im- 
mediately a person's quality. Boys were her heroes, her little gods. She 
believed that the world was to be saved, life redeemed, by one of them. 
She saw the flame that burns in each of them, and she guarded it. She 
tried somehow to reach the dark gropings toward light and articulation, 
of the blunt, the stolid, the shamefast. She spoke a calm low word to 
the trembling racehorse, and he was still. 

Thus, he made no confessions. He was still prison-pent. But he 
turned always to Margaret Leonard as toward the light: she saw the 
unholy fires that cast their sword-dance on his face, she saw the hunger 
and the pain, and she fed him majestic crime! on poetry. 

Whatever of fear or shame locked them in careful silence, what- 
ever decorous pretense of custom guarded their tongues, they found 
release in the eloquent symbols of verse. And by that sign, Margaret 
was lost to the good angels. For what care the ambassadors of Satan, 
for all the small fidelities of the letter and the word, if from the singing 
choir of earthly methodism we can steal a single heart lift up, flame- 
tipped, one great lost soul to the high sinfulness of poetry? 

The wine of the grape had never stained her mouth, but the wine 
of poetry was inextinguishably mixed with her blood, entombed in her 
flesh. 

By the beginning of his fifteenth year Eugene knew almost every 
major lyric in the language. He possessed them to their living core, not 
in a handful of scattered quotations, but almost line for line. His thirst 
was drunken, insatiate: he added to his hoard entire scenes from 
Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, which he read by himself in German; the lyrics 
of Heine, and several folk songs. He committed to memory the entire 
passage in the Anabasis, the mounting and triumphal Greek which 



LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 327 

described the moment when the starving remnant of the Ten Thousand 
had come at length to the sea, and sent up their great cry, calling it by 
name. In addition, he memorized some of the sonorous stupidities of 
Cicero, because of the sound, and a little of Caesar, terse and lean. 

The great lyrics of Burns he knew from music, from reading, or 
from hearing Gant recite them. But 'Tarn O'Shanter" Margaret 
Leonard read to him, her eyes sparkling with laughter as she read: 

"In hell they'll roast thee like a hernnV 

The shorter Wordsworth pieces he had read at grammar school. 
"My heart leaps up," "I wandered lonely as a cloud," and "Behold her, 
single in the field," he had known for years; but Margaret read him the 
sonnets and made him commit "The world is too much with us" to 
memory. Her voice trembled and grew low with passion when she 
read it. 

He knew all the songs in Shakespeare's plays, but the two that 
moved him most were: "O mistress mine, where are you roaming?" 
which blew a far horn m his heart, and the great song from Cymbeline: 
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun." He had tried to read all the sonnets, 
and failed, because their woven density was too much for his experience, 
but he had read, and forgotten, perhaps half of them, and remembered 
a few which burned up from the page, strangely, immediately, like 
lamps for him. 

Those that he knew were: "When, in the chronicle of wasted time," 
"To me, fair friend, you never can be old," "Let me not to the marriage 
of true minds," "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame," "When to 
the sessions of sweet silent thought," "Shall I compare thee to a sum- 
mer's day?" "From you have I been absent in the spring," and "That 
time of year thou mayest in me behold," the greatest of all, which 
Margaret brought him to, and which shot through him with such electric 
ecstasy when he came to "Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds 
sang," that he could hardly hold his course unbroken through the rest 
of it. 

He read all the plays save Timon, Titus Andronicus, Pericles, 




Coriolanus, and King John, but the only play that held his interest from 
first to last was King Lear. With most of the famous declamatory pas- 
sages he had been familiar, for years, by Gant's recitation, and now 
they wearied him. And all the wordy pinwheels of the clowns, which 
Margaret laughed at dutifully, and exhibited as specimens of the mas- 
ter's swingeing wit, he felt vaguely were very dull. He never had any 
confidence in Shakespeare's humor his Touchstones were not only 
windy fools, but dull ones. 

"For my part I had rather bear with you than bear you; yet 1 
should bear no cross if I did bear you, for I think you have no money 
in your purse." 

This sort of thing reminded him unpleasantly of the Pentlands. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 329 

The Fool in "Lear" alone he thought admirable a sad, tragic, mys- 
terious fool. For the rest, he went about and composed parodies, which, 
with a devil's grin, he told himself would split the sides of posterity. 
Such as: "Aye, nuncle, an if Shrove Tuesday come last Wednesday, 
I'll do the capon to thy cock, as Tom O'Ludgate told the shepherd when 
he found the cowslips gone. Dost bay with two throats, Cerberus? 
Down, boy, down!" 

The admired beauties he was often tired of, perhaps because he 
had heard them so often, and it seemed to him, moreover, that Shakes- 
peare often spoke absurdly and pompously when he might better have 
spoken simply, as in the scene where, being informed by the Queen of 
the death of his sister by drowning, Laertes says: 

"Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, 
And therefore I forbid my tears." 

You really can't beat that (he thought). Aye, Ben! Would he had 
blotted a hundred ! A thousand! 

But he was deep in other passages which the elocutionist misses, 
such as the terrible and epic invocation of Edmund, in King Lear, 
drenched in evil, which begins: 

'Thou, Nature, art my goddess," 
and ends, 

"Now, gods, stand up for bastards." 

It was as dark as night, as evil as Niggertown, as vast as the ele- 
mental winds that howled down across the hills: he chanted it in the 
blacks hours of his labor, into the dark and the wind. He understood; 
he exulted in its evil which was the evil of earth, of illicit nature. It 
was a call to the unclassed; it was a cry for those beyond the fence, for 
rebel angels, and for all of the men who are too tall. 

He knew nothing of the Elizabethan drama beyond Shakespeare's 
plays. But he very early came to know a little of the poetry of Ben 



330 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Jonson, whom Margaret looked on as a literary Falstaff, condoning, 
with the familiar weakness of the schoolmarm, his Gargantuan excesses 
as a pardonable whimsy of genius. 

She was somewhat academically mirthful over the literary baccha- 
nalia, as a professor in a Baptist college smacks his lips appetizmgly and 
beams ruddily at his classes when he reads of sack and porter and 
tankards foaming with the musty ale. All this is part of the liberal 
tradition. Men of the world are broadmmded. Witness Professor Albert 
Thorndyke Firkins, of the University of Chicago, at the Falcon m Soho. 
Smiling bravely, he sits over a half-pint of bitter beer, in the company 
of a racing tout, a swaybacked barmaid, broad in the stern, with adjust- 
able teeth, and three companionable tarts from Lisle street, who are 
making the best of two pints of Guinness. With eager impatience he 
awaits the arrival of G. K. Chesterton and E. V. Lucas. 

"O rare Ben Jonson!" Margaret Leonard sighed with gentle 
laughter. "Ah, Lord!" 

"My God, boy!'' Sheba roared, snatching the suggested motif of 
conversation out of the air, and licking her buttered fingers noisily as 
she stormed into action. "God bless him!" Her hairy red face burned 
like clover, her veinous eyes were tearful bright. "God bless him, 'Gene ! 
He was as English as roast beef and a tankard of musty ale!" 

"Ah, Lord!" sighed Margaret. "He was a genius if ever there was 
one." With misty eyes she gazed far off, a thread of laughter on her 
mouth. "Whee!" she laughed gently. "Old Ben!" 

"And say, 'Gene!" Sheba continued, bending forward with a fat 
hand gripped upon her knee. "Do you know that the greatest tribute 
to Shakespeare's genius is from his hand?" 

"Ah, I tell you, boy!" said Margaret, with darkened eyes. Her 
voice was husky. He was afraid she was going to weep. 

"And yet the fools!" Sheba yelled. "The mean little two-by-two 
pusillanimous swill-drinking fools " 

"Whee!" gently Margaret moaned. John Dorsey turned his chalk- 
white face to the boy and whined with vacant appreciation, winking his 
head pertly. Ah absently! 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 331 

"for that's all they are, have had the effrontery to suggest that 
he was jealous." 

"Pshaw!" said Margaret impatiently. "There's nothing in that." 

"Why, they don't know what they're talking about!" Sheba turned 
a sudden grinning face upon him. "The little upstarts! It takes us to 
tell 'em, 'Gene," she said. 

He began to slide floorwards out of the wicker chair. John Dorsey 
slapped his meaty thigh, and bent forward whining mchoately, drooling 
slightly at the mouth. 

"The Lord a' mercy!" he wheezed, gasping. 

"I was talking to a feller the other day," said Sheba, "a lawyer that 
you'd think might know a little something, and I used a quotation out 
of The Merchant of Venice that every schoolboy knows The quality 
of mercy is not strained.' The man looked at me as if he thought I was 
crazy!" 

"Great heavens!" said Margaret in a still voice. 

"I said, 'Look here, Mr. So-and-so, you may be a smart lawyer, 
you may have your million dollars that they say you have, but there 
are a lot of things you don't know yet. There are a lot of things money 
can't buy, my sonny, and one of them is the society of cult-shered men 
and women.' " 

"Why, pshaw!" said Mr. Leonard. "What do these little whipper- 
snappers know about the things of the mind? You might as well expect 
some ignorant darkey out in the fields to construe a passage in Homer." 
He grasped a glass half full of clabber, on the table, and tilting it intently 
in his chalky fingers, spooned out a lumpy spilth of curds which he slid, 
quivering, into his mouth. "No, sir!" he laughed. "They may be Big 
Men on the tax collector's books, but when they try to associate with 
educated men and women, as the feller says, 'they they ' " he began 
to whine, " 'why, they just ain't nothin'.' " 

"What shall it profit a man," said Sheba, "if he gain the whole 
world, and lose " 

"Ah, Lord!" sighed Margaret, shaking her smoke-dark eyes. "I 
tell you!" 

She told him. She told him of the Swan's profound knowledge of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the human heart, his universal and well-rounded characterization, his 
enormous humor. 

"Fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock!" She laughed. "The 
fat rascal! Imagine a man keeping the time!" 

And, carefully: "It was the custom of the time, 'Gene. As a matter 
of fact, when you read some of the plays of his contemporaries you see 
how much purer he is than they are." But she avoided a word, a line, 
here and there. The slightly spotty Swan muddied a little by custom. 
Then, too, the Bible. 

The smoky candle-ends of time. Parnassus As Seen From Mount 
Sinai: Lecture with lantern-slides by Professor McTavish (D.D.) of 
Presbyterian College. 

"And observe, Eugene," she said, "he never made vice attractive." 

"Why didn't he?" he asked. "There's Falstaff." 

"Yes," she replied, "and you know what happened to him, don't 
you?" 

"Why," he considered, "he died!" 

"You see, don't you?" she concluded, with triumphant warning. 

I see, don't I? The wages of sin. What, by the way, are the wages 
of virtue? The good die young. 

Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo! 
I really feel so blue! 

I was given to crime, 

And cut off in my prime 
When only eighty-two. 

"Then, note," she said, "how none of his characters stand still. 
You can see them grow, from first to last. No one is the same at the 
end as he was in the beginning." 

In the beginning was the word. I am Alpha and Omega. The 
growth of Lear. He grew old and mad. There's growth for you. 

This tin-currency of criticism she had picked up in a few courses 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 333 

at college, and in her reading. They were are, perhaps, still part of 
the glib jargon of pedants. But they did her no real injury. They were 
simply the things people said. She felt, guiltily, that she must trick out 
her teaching with these gauds : she was afraid that what she had to offer 
was not enough. What she had to offer was simply a feeling that was 
so profoundly right, so unerring, that she could no more utter great 
verse meanly than mean verse well. She was a voice that God seeks. 
She was the reed of demonic ecstasy. She was possessed, she knew not 
how, but she knew the moment of her possession. The singing tongues 
of all the world were wakened into life again under the incantation of 
her voice. She was inhabited. She was spent. 

She passed through their barred and bolted boy-life with the direct 
stride of a spirit. She opened their hearts as if they had been lockets. 
They said: "Mrs. Leonard is sure a nice lady." 

He knew some of Ben Jonson's poems, including the fine Hymn to 
Diana, "Queen and huntress, chaste and fair," and the great tribute to 
Shakespeare which lifted his hair at 

". . . But call forth thundering ^Eschylus, 
Euripides and Sophocles to us." 

and caught at his throat at: 

"He was not for an age, but for all time! 
And all the Muses still were in their prime . . ." 

The elegy to little Salathiel Pavy, the child actor, was honey from 
the lion's mouth. But it was too long. 

Of Hernck, sealed of the tribe of Ben, he knew much more. The 
poetry sang itself. It was, he thought later, the most perfect and un- 
failing lyrical voice in the language a clean, sweet, small, unfaltering 
note. It is done with the incomparable ease of an inspired child. The 
young men and women of our century have tried to recapture it, as they 
have tried to recapture Blake and, a little more successfully, Donne. 



334 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Here a little child I stand 
Heaving up my either hand; 
Cold as paddocks though they be, 

Here I lift them up to Thee, 

For a benison to fall 

On our meat and on us all. Amen. 

There was nothing beyond this nothing that surpassed it in 
precision, delicacy, and wholeness. 

Their names dropped musically like small fat bird-notes through 
the freckled sunlight of a young world: prophetically he brooded on the 
sweet lost bird-cries of their names, knowing they never would return. 
Herrick, Crashaw, Carew, Suckling, Campion, Lovelace, Dekker. O 
sweet content, O sweet, O sweet content! 

He read shelves of novels: all of Thackeray, all the stories of Poe 
and Hawthorne, and Herman Melville's Omoo and Typee, which he 
found at Gant's. Of Moby Dick he had never heard. He read a half- 
dozen Coopers, all of Mark Twain, but failed to finish a single book of 
Howells or James. 

He read a dozen of Scott, and liked best of all Quentin Durward, 
because the descriptions of food were as bountiful and appetizing as any 
he had ever read. 

Eliza went to Florida again during his fourteenth year and left him 
to board with the Leonards. Helen was drifting, with crescent weariness 
and fear, through the cities of the East and Middle- West. She sang for 
several weeks in a small cabaret in Baltimore, she moved on to Phila- 
delphia and thumped out popular tunes on a battered piano at the 
music counter of a five and ten cent store, with studious tongue out- 
thrust as she puzzled through new scores. 

Gant wrote her faithfully twice a week a blue but copious log of 
existence. Occasionally he enclosed small checks, which she saved, 
uncashed. 

"Your mother," he wrote, "has gone off on another wild-goose 
chase to Florida, leaving me here alone to face the music, freeze, or 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 335 

starve. God knows what we'll all come to before the end of this fearful, 
hellish, and damnable winter, but I predict the poorhouse and soup- 
kitchens like we had in the Cleveland administration. When the Demo- 
crats are in, you may as well begin to count your ribs. The banks have 
no money, people are out of work. You can mark my words everything 
will go to the taxcollector under the hammer before we're done. The 
temperature was 7 above when I looked this morning, coal has gone up 
seventy-five cents a ton. The Sunny South. Keep off the grass said 
Bill Nye. Jesus God! I passed the Southern Fuel Co. yesterday and 
saw old Wagner at the window with a fiendish smile of gloatation on his 
face as he looked out on the sufferings of the widows and orphans. 
Little does he care if they all freeze. Bob Grady dropped dead Tuesday 
morning as he was coming out of the Citizen's Bank. I had known him 
twenty-five years. He'd never been sick a day in his life. All, all are 
gone, the old familiar faces. Old Gant will be the next. I have been 
eating at Mrs. Sales' since your mother went away. You've never seen 
such a table as she keeps in your life a profusion of fruits piled up in 
pyramids, stewed prunes, peaches, and preserves, big roasts of pork, 
beef, lamb, cold cuts of ham and tongue, and a half dozen vegetables 
in an abundance that beggars description. How in God's name she does 
it for thirty-five cents I don't know. Eugene is staying with the Leonards 
while your mother's away. I take him up to Sales' with me once or 
twice a week and give him a square meal. They look mighty serious 
when they see those long legs coming. God knows where he puts it 
all he can eat more than any three people I ever saw. I suppose he 
gets pretty lean pickings at the school. He's got the lean and hungry 
Gant look. Poor child. He has no mother any more. I'll do the best I 
can for him until the smash comes. Leonard comes and brags about 
him every week. He says his equal is not to be found anywhere. Every 
one in town has heard of him. Preston Carr (who's sure to be the next 
governor) was talking to me about him the other day. He wants me to 
send him to the State university law school where he will make lifelong 
friends among the people of his own State, and then put him into poli- 
tics. It's what I should have done. I'm going to give him a good edu- 
cation. The rest is up to him. Perhaps he'll be a credit to the name. 



336 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

You haven't seen him since he put on long pants. His mother picked 
out a beautiful suit at Moale's Christmas. He went down to Daisy's 
for Christmas and put them on. I bought him a cheap pair at the 
Racket Store for every-day wear. He can save the good ones for 
Sunday. Your mother has let the Old Barn to Mrs. Revell until she gets 
back. I went in the other day and found it warm for the first time in 
my life. She keeps the furnace going and she's not afraid to burn coal. 
I hardly ever see Ben from one week to another. He comes in and 
prowls around in the kitchen at one and two o'clock in the morning 
and I'm up and gone hours before he's awake. You can get nothing 
out of him he never says a half-dozen words and if you ask him a 
civil question he cuts you off short. I see him down-town late at night 
sometimes with Mrs. P. They're thick as thieves together. I guess she's 
a bad egg. This is all for this time. John Duke was shot and killed by 
the house detective at the Whitstone hotel Sunday night. He was drunk 
and threatening to shoot every one. It's a sad thing for his wife. He 
left three children. She was in to see me to-day. He was well-liked by 
every one but a terror when he drank. My heart bled for her. She's a 
pretty little woman. Liquor has caused more misery than all the other 
evils in the world put together. I curse the day it was first invented. 
Enclosed find a small check to buy yourself a present. God knows what 
we're coming to. Aff. Your Father, W. O. Gant." 

She saved carefully all his letters written on his heavy slick busi- 
ness stationery in the huge Gothic sprawl of his crippled right hand. 

In Florida, meanwhile, Eliza surged up and down the coast, stared 
thoughtfully at the ungrown town of Miami, found prices too high at 
Palm Beach, rents too dear at Daytona, and turned inland at length to 
Orlando, where, groved round with linked lakes and citrous fruits, the 
Pentlands waited her approach, Pett, with a cold lust of battle on her 
face, Will with a grimace of itching nervousness while he scaled stubbily 
at the flaky tetter of his hand. 




24 

With thick chalked fingers John Dorsey thoughtfully massaged 
his torso from loin to chin. 

"Now, let me see," he whined with studious deliberation, "what he 
gives on this." He fumbled for the notes. 

Tom Davis turned his reddening cheeks toward the window, a low 
sputter of laughter escaping from his screwed lips. 

Guy Doak gazed solemnly at Eugene, with a forked hand stroking 
his grave pallid face. 

"Entgegen" said Eugene, in a small choked voice, "follows its 
object." 

John Dorsey laughed uncertainly, and shook his head, still search- 
ing the notes. 

"I'm not so sure of that," he said. 

Their wild laughter leaped like freed hounds. Tom Davis hurled 
himself violently downward over his desk. John Dorsey looked up, 
adding uncertainly his absent falsetto mirth. 

From time to time, in spite of himself, they taught him a little 
German, a language of which he had been quite happily ignorant. The 

337 



338 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

lesson had become for them a daily hunger: they worked it over with 
mad intensity, speeding and polishing their translation in order to enjoy 
his bewilderment. Sometimes, deliberately, they salted their pages with 
glib false readings, sometimes they interpolated passages of wild absurd- 
ity, waiting exultantly for his cautious amendment of a word that did 
not exist. 

"Slowly the moonlight crept up the chair in which the old man 
was sitting, reaching his knees, his breast, and finally," Guy Doak 
looked up slyly at his tutor, "giving him a good punch in the eye." 

"No-o," said John Dorsey, rubbing his chin, "not exactly. 'Catching 
him squarely in the eye' gets the idiom better, I think." 

Tom Davis thrust a mouthful of strange gurgling noises into his 
desk, and waited for the classic evasion. It came at once. 

"Let me see," said John Dorsey, turning the pages, "what he gives 
on this." 

Guy Doak scrawled a brief message across a crumpled wad and 
thrust it on Eugene's desk. Eugene read: 

"Gebe mir em Stuck Papier, 
Before I bust you on the ear." 

He detached two slick sheets from his tablet, and wrote in answer: 
"Du bist wie erne bum-me." 

They read sweet gluey little stories, fat German tear-gulps: Im- 
mensee, Hoher als die Kirche, Der Zerbrochene Krug. Then, Wilhelm 
Tell. The fine lyrical measure of the opening song, the unearthly siren 
song to the fisher-boy, haunted them with its faery music. The heavy 
melodrama of some of the scenes was unhackneyed to them: they bent 
eagerly to the apple-shooting scene, and the escape by boat. As for the 
rest, it was, they wearily recognized, Great Literature. Mr. Schiller, they 
saw, was religiously impressed, like Patrick Henry, George Washington, 
and Paul Revere, with the beauties of Liberty. His embattled Swiss 
bounded ponderously from crag to crag, invoking it in windy speeches. 

"The mountains," observed John Dorsey, touched, in a happy 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 339 

moment, by the genius of the place, "have been the traditional seat of 
Liberty." 

Eugene turned his face toward the western ranges. He heard, far 
off, a whistle, a remote thunder on the rails. 

During this season of Eliza's absence he roomed with Guy Doak. 

Guy Doak was five years his senior. He was a native of Newark, 
New Jersey: his speech was touched with Yankee nasality, his manner 
with Yankee crispness. His mother, a boarding-house mistress, had 
come to Altamont a year or two before to retrieve her health: she was 
tubercular, and spent part of the winter m Florida. 

Guy Doak had a trim cocky figure of medium height, black hair, 
bright dark eyes, a pale, very smooth oval face, somehow suggestive, 
Eugene thought, of a fish's belly, with somewhat unhappily full jaws 
which made his lower features seem larger than his upper. He was 
foppishly neat in his dress. People called him a good-looking boy. 

He made few friends. To the boys at Leonard's this Yankee was 
far more remote than the rich Cuban boy, Manuel Quevado, whose fat 
dark laughter and broken speech was all for girls. He belonged to a 
richer South, but they knew him. 

Guy Doak had none of their flondity. He was lacking in their 
hearty violence. He did not laugh loudly. He had a sharp, bright, 
shallow mind, inflexibly dogmatic. His companions were bad Southern 
romantics, he was a false Yankee realist. They arrived, thus, by different 
means, at a common goal of superstition. Guy Doak had already 
hardened into the American city-dweller's mould of infantile cynicism. 
He was occasionally merry with the other boys in the classic manner of 
the city fellow with the yokels. He was wise. Above all, he was wise. 
It was safe to assume, he felt, that Truth was always on the scaffold, and 
Wrong forever on the throne. So far from being depressed by the slaugh- 
ter of the innocents, the spectacle gave him much bitter amusement. 

Outside of this, Guy Doak was a very nice fellow sharp, obstinate, 
unsubtle, and pleased with his wit. They lived on the first floor at 
Leonard's: at night, by a roaring wood fire, they listened carefully to 
the great thunder of the trees, and to the stealthy creaking foot-steps 



340 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

of the master as he came softly down the stairs, and paused by their 
door. They ate at table with Margaret, John Dorsey, Miss Amy, the 
two children, John Dorsey, junior, nine, and Margaret, five, and two of 
Leonard's Tennessee nephews Tyson Leonard, a ferret-faced boy of 
eighteen, foulmouthed and sly, and Dirk Barnard, a tall slender boy, 
seventeen, with a bumpy face, brown merry eyes, and a quick temper. 
At table they kept up a secret correspondence of innuendo and hidden 
movement, fleshing a fork in a grunting neighbor as John Dorsey said 
the blessing, and choking with smothered laughter. At night, they 
tapped messages on floor and ceiling, crept out for sniggering conven- 
tions in the windy dark hall, and fled to their innocent beds as John 
Dorsey stormed down on them. 

Leonard was fighting hard to keep his little school alive. He had 
less than twenty students the first year, and less than thirty the second. 
From an income of not more than $3,000 he had to pay Miss Amy, who 
had left a high school position to help him, a small salary. The old 
house on its fine wooded hill was full of outmoded plumbing and drafty 
corridors: he had leased it at a small rental. But the rough usage of 
thirty boys demanded a considerable yearly restoration. The Leonards 
were fighting very stubbornly and courageously for their existence. 

The food was scant and poor: at breakfast, a dish of blue, watery 
oatmeal, eggs and toast; at lunch, a thin soup, hot sour cornbread, and 
a vegetable boiled with a piece of fat pork; at dinner, hot biscuits, a 
small meat loaf, and creamed or boiled potatoes. "No one was permitted 
coffee or tea, but there was an abundance of fresh creamy milk. John 
Dorsey always kept and milked his own cow. Occasionally there was a 
deep, crusted pie, hot, yolky muffins, or spicy gingerbread of Margaret's 
make. She was a splendid cook. 

Often, at night, Guy Doak slid quietly out through the window on 
to the side porch, and escaped down the road under the concealing roar 
of the trees. He would return from town within two hours, crawling in 
exultantly with a bag full of hot frankfurter sandwiches coated thickly 
with mustard, chopped onion, and a hot Mexican sauce. With a crafty 
grin he unfoiled two five-cent cigars, which they smoked magnificently, 
with a sharp tang of daring, blowing the smoke carefully up the chimney 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 341 

in order to thwart a possible irruption by the master. And Guy brought 
back, from the wind and the night, the good salt breath of gossip in 
street and store, news of the town, and the brave swagger of the drug- 
store gallants. 

As they smoked and stuffed fat palatable bites of sandwich into 
their mouths, they would regard each other with pleased sniggers, 
carrying on thus an insane symphony of laughter: 
"Chuckle, chuckle! laugh of gloatation." 
"Tee-hee, tee-hee, tee-hee!. .laugh of titterosity." 
"Snuh-huh, snuh-huh, snuh-huh!. .laugh of gluttonotiousness." 
The vigorous warmth of burning wood filled their room pleasantly: 
over their sheltered heads the dark gigantic wind howled through the 
earth. O sheltered love, nooked warmly in against this winter night. O 
warm fair women, whether within a forest hut, or by the town ledged 
high above the moaning seas, shot upon the wind, I come. 

Guy Doak toyed gently at his belly with his right hand, and stroked 
his round chin slowly with his left. 

"Now let me see," he whined, "what he gives on this." 
Their laughter rang around the walls. Too late, they heard the 
aroused stealthy foot-falls of the master, creaking down the hall. Later 
silence, the dark, the wind. 

Miss Amy closed her small beautifully kept grade book, thrust her 
great arms upward, and yawned. Eugene looked hopefully at her and 
out along the playing court, reddened by the late sun. He was wild, 
uncontrollable, erratic. His mad tongue leaped out in class. He could 
never keep peace a full day. He amazed them. They loved him, and 
they punished him piously, affectionately. He was never released at the 
dismissal hour. He was always "kept in." 

John Dorsey noted each whisper of disorder, or each failure in 
preparation, by careful markings in a book. Each afternoon he read 
the names of delinquents, amid a low mutter of sullen protest, and 
stated their penalties. Once Eugene got through an entire day without a 
mark. He stood triumphantly before Leonard while the master searched 
the record. 



342 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

John Dorsey began to laugh foolishly; he griped his hand affec- 
tionately around the boy's arm. 

"Well, sir!" he said. "There must be a mistake. I'm going to keep 
you in on general principles." 

He bent to a long dribbling suction of laughter. Eugene's wild eyes 
were shot with tears of anger and surprise. He never forgot. 

Miss Amy yawned, and smiled on him with slow powerful affec- 
tionate contempt. 

"Go on!" she said, in her broad, lazy accent. "I don't want to fool 
with you any more. You're not worth powder enough to blow you up." 

Margaret came in, her face furrowed deeply between smoke-dark 
eyes, full of tender sternness and hidden laughter. 

"What's wrong with the rascal?" she asked. "Can't he learn 
algebra?" 

"He can learn!" drawled Miss Amy. "He can learn anything. 
He's lazy that's what it is. Just plain lazy." 

She smacked his buttock smartly with a ruler. 

"I'd like to warm you a bit with this," she laughed, slowly and 
richly. "You'd learn then." 

"Here!" said Margaret, shaking her head in protest. "You leave 
that boy alone. Don't look behind the faun's ears. Never mind about 
algebra, here. That's for poor folks. There's no need for algebra where 
two and two make five." 

Miss Amy turned her handsome gypsy eyes on Eugene. 

"Go on. I've seen enough of you." She made a strong weary 
gesture of dismissal. 

Hatless, with a mad whoop, he plunged through the door and 
leaped the porch rail. 

"Here, boy!" Margaret called. "Where's your hat?" 

Grinning, he galloped back, picked up a limp rag of dirty green 
felt, and pulled it over his chaotic hair. Curly tufts stuck through the 
gaping crease-holes. 

"Come here!" said Margaret gravely. Her nervous fingers pulled 
his frayed necktie around to the front, tugged down his vest, and but- 
toned his coat over tightly, while he peered at her with his strange devil's 




grin. Suddenly she trembled with laughter. 

"Good heavens, Amy," she said. "Look at that hat." 

Miss Amy smiled at him with indifferent sleepy cat-warmth. 

"You want to fix yourself up, 'Gene," she said, "so the girls will 
begin to notice you." 

He heard the strange song of Margaret's laughter. 

"Can you see him out courting?" she said. "The poor girl would 
think she had a demon lover, sure." 

"As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted 
By woman wailing for her demon lover." 

His eyes burned on her face, flowing with dark secret beauty. 
"Get along, you scamp!" she ordered. 

He turned, and, crying fiercely in his throat, tore down the road 
with bounding strides. 

All the dusk blurred in her eyes. 

"Leave him alone!" she whispered to no one. "Leave him alone!" 

A light wind of April fanned over the hill. There was a smell of 
burning leaves and rubble around the school. In the field on the hill 
flank behind the house a plowman drove his big horse with loose clank- 
ing traces around a lessening square of dry fallow earth. Gee, woa. 



344 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

His strong feet followed after. The big share bit cleanly down, cleaving 
a deep spermy furrow of moist young earth along its track. 

John Dorsey Leonard stared fascinated out the window at the 
annual rejuvenation of the earth. Before his eyes the emergent nymph 
was scaling her hard cracked hag's pelt. The golden age returned. 

Down the road a straggling queue of boys were all gone into the 
world of light. Wet with honest sweat, the plowman paused at the turn, 
and wiped the blue shirting of his forearm across his beaded forehead. 
Meanwhile, his intelligent animal, taking advantage of the interval, 
lifted with slow majesty a proud flowing tail, and added his mite to the 
fertility of the soil with three moist oaty droppings. Watching, John 
Dorsey grunted approvingly. They also serve who only stand and wait. 
b "Please, Mr. Leonard," said Eugene, carefully choosing his moment, 
"can I go?" 

John Dorsey Leonard stroked his chin absently, and stared sight- 
lessly at his book. Others abide our question, thou art free. 

"Huh?" he purred vaguely. Then, with a high vacant snigger he 
turned suddenly, and said: 

"You rascal, you! See if Mrs. Leonard wants you." He fastened 
his brutal grip with keen hunger into the boy's thin arm. April is the 
cruellest of months. Eugene winced, moved away, and then stood 
quietly, checked by memory of the old revolt from awe. 

He found Margaret in the library reading to the children from The 
Water Babies. 

"Mr. Leonard says to ask you if I can go?" he said. 

And her eyes were darkened wholly. 

"Yes, you scamp. Go on," she said. "Tell me, boy," she coaxed, 
softly, "can't you be a little bit better?" 

"Yes'm," he promised, easily. "I'll try." Say not the struggle 
naught availeth. 

She smiled at his high mettled prancing nervousness. 

"In hell they'll roast thee like a hernn'," she said gently. "Get out 
of here." 

He bounded away from the nunnery of the chaste breast and quiet 
mind. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 345 

As he leaped down the stairs into the yard he heard Dirk Barnard's 
lusty splashing bathtub solo. Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my 
song. Tyson Leonard, having raked into every slut's corner of nature 
with a thin satisfied grin, emerged from the barn with a cap full of fresh 
eggs. A stammering cackle of protest followed him from angry hens 
who found too late that men betray. At the barnside, under the carriage 
shed, "Pap" Rheinhart tightened the bellyband of his saddled brown 
mare, swinging strongly into the saddle, and with a hard scramble of 
hoofs, came up the hill, wheeled in behind the house, and drew up by 
Eugene. 

"Jump on, 'Gene," he invited, patting the mare's broad rump. 
"I'll take you home." 

Eugene looked up at him grinning. 

"You'll take me nowhere," he said. "I couldn't sit down for a week 
last time." 

"Pap" boomed with laughter. 

"Why, pshaw, boy!" he said. "That was nothing but a gentle little 
dog-trot." 

"Dog-trot your granny," said Eugene. "You tried to kill me." 

"Pap" Rheinhart turned his wry neck down on the boy with grave 
dry humor. 

"Come on," he said gruffly. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'll teach 
you how to ride a horse." 

"Much obliged, Pap," said Eugene ironically. "But I'm thinking 
of using my tail a good deal in my old age. 1 don't want to wear it out 
while I'm young." 

Pleased with them both, "Pap" Rheinhart laughed loud and deep, 
spat a brown quid back over the horse's crupper, and, digging his heels 
in smartly, galloped away around the house, into the road. The horse 
bent furiously to his work, like a bounding dog. With four-hooved 
thunder he drummed upon the sounding earth. Quadrupedante putrem 
sonitu quatit ungula canipum. 

At the two-posted entry, by the bishop's boundary, the departing 
students turned, split quickly to the sides, and urged the horseman on 
with shrill cries. "Pap," bent low, with loose-reined hands above the 



346 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

horse-mane, went through the gate like the whiz of a cross-bow. Then, 
he jerked the mare back on her haunches with a dusty skid of hoofs, and 
waited for the boys to come up. 

"Hey!" With high bounding exultancy Eugene came down the road 
to join them. Without turning, stolid Van Yeats threw up his hand 
impatiently and greeted the unseen with a cheer. The others turned, 
welcoming him with ironical congratulation. 

" 'Highpockets,' " said "Doc" Hines, comically puckering his small 
tough face, "how'd you happen to git out on time?" He had an affected, 
high-pitched nigger drawl. When he spoke he kept one hand in his coat 
pocket, fingering a leather thong loaded with buckshot. 

"J. D. had to do his spring plowing," said Eugene. 

"Well, if it ain't ole Handsome," said Julius Arthur. He grinned 
squintily, revealing a mouthful of stained teeth screwed in a wire clamp. 
His face was covered with small yellow pustulate sores. How begot, 
how nourished? 

"Shall we sing our little song for Handsome Hal?" said Ralph 
Rolls to his copesmate Julius. He wore a derby hat jammed over his 
pert freckled face. As he spoke he took a ragged twist of tobacco from 
his pocket and bit off a large chew with a rough air of relish. 

"Want a chew, Jule?" he said. 

Julius took the twist, wiped off his mouth with a loose male grin, 
and crammed a large quid into his cheek. 

He brought me roots of relish sweet. 

"Want one, Highpockets?" he asked Eugene, grinning. 

I hate him that would upon the rack of this tough world stretch 
me out longer. 

"Hell," said Ralph Rolls. "Handsome would curl up and die if 
he ever took a chew." 

In Spring like torpid snakes my enemies awaken. 

At the corner of Church Street, across from the new imitation 
Tudor of the Episcopal church, they paused. Above them, on the hill, 
rose the steeples of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Ye 
antique spires, ye distant towers ! 

"Who's going my way?" said Julius Arthur. "Come on, 'Gene. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 347 

The car's down here. I'll take you home." 

"Thanks, but I can't," said Eugene. "I'm going up-town." Their 
curious eyes on Dixieland when I get out. 

"You going home, Villa?" 

"No," said George Graves. 

"Well, keep Hal out of trouble," said Ralph Rolls. 

Julius Arthur laughed roughly and thrust his hand through Eugene's 
hair. "Old Hairbreadth Hal," he said. "The cutthroat from Saw-Tooth 
Gap!" 

"Don't let 'em climb your frame, son," said Van Yeats, turning his 
quiet pleasant face on Eugene. "If you need help, let me know." 

"So long, boys." 

"So long." 

They crossed the street, mixing in nimble horse-play, and turned 
down past the church along a sloping street that led to the garages. 
George Graves and Eugene continued up the hill. 

"Julius is a good boy," said George Graves. "His father makes 
more money than any other lawyer in town." 

"Yes," said Eugene, still brooding on Dixieland and his clumsy 
deceptions. 

A street-sweeper walked along slowly uphill, beside his deep wedge- 
bodied cart. From time to time he stopped the big slow-footed horse 
and, sweeping the littered droppings of street and gutter into a pan, 
with a long-handled brush, dumped his collections into the cart. Let 
not Ambition mock their useful toil. 

Three sparrows hopped deftly about three fresh smoking globes of 
horse-dung, pecking out tidbits with dainty gourmandism. Driven 
away by the approaching cart, they skimmed briskly over to the bank, 
with bright twitters of annoyance. One too like thee, tameless, and 
swift, and proud. 

George Graves ascended the hill with a slow ponderous rhythm, 
staring darkly at the ground. 

"Say, 'Gene!" he said finally. "I don't believe he makes that 
much." 

Eugene thought seriously for a moment. With George Graves, it 



348 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

was necessary to resume a discussion where it had been left off three 
days before. 

"Who?" he said, "John Dorsey? Yes, I think he does," he added, 
grinning. 

"Not over $2,500, anyway," said George Graves gloomily. 

"No three thousand, three thousand!" he said, in a choking voice. 

George Graves turned to him with a sombre, puzzled smile. 
"What's the matter?" he asked. 

"O you fool! You damn fool!" gasped Eugene. "You've been 
thinking about it all this time." 

George Graves laughed sheepishly, with embarrassment, richly. 

From the top of the hill at the left, the swelling unction of the 
Methodist organ welled up remotely from the choir, accompanied by 
a fruity contralto voice, much in demand at funerals. Abide with me. 

Most musical of mourners, weep again! 

George Graves turned and examined the four large black houses, 
ascending on flat terraces to the church, of Paston Place. 

"That's a good piece of property, 'Gene," he said. "It belongs to 
the Paston estate." 

Fast falls the even-tide. Heaves the proud harlot her distended 
breast, in intricacies of laborious song. 

"It will all go to Gil Paston some day," said George Graves with 
virtuous regret. "He's not worth a damn." 

They had reached the top of the hill. Church Street ended levelly 
a block beyond, in the narrow gulch of the avenue. They saw, with 
quickened pulse, the little pullulation of the town. 

A negro dug tenderly in the round loamy flowerbeds of the Presby- 
terian churchyard, bending now and then to thrust his thick fingers 
gently in about the roots. The old church, with its sharp steeple, rotted 
slowly, decently, prosperously, like a good man's life, down into its 
wet lichened brick. Eugene looked gratefully, with a second's pride, at 
its dark decorum, its solid Scotch breeding. 

"I'm a Presbyterian," he said. "What are you?" 

"An Episcopalian, when I go," said George Graves with irreverent 
laughter. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 349 

"To hell with these Methodists!" Eugene said with an elegant, 
disdainful face. "They're too damn common for us." God in three 
persons blessed Trinity. "Brother Graves," he continued, in a fat 
well-oiled voice, "I didn't see you at prayer-meeting Wednesday night. 
Where in Jesus' name were you?" 

With his open palm he struck George Graves violently between his 
meaty shoulders. George Graves staggered drunkenly with high 
resounding laughter. 

"Why, Brother Gant," said he, "I had a little appointment with one 
of the Good Sisters, out in the cow-shed." 

Eugene gathered a telephone pole into his wild embrace, and threw 
one leg erotically over its second foot-wedge. George Graves leaned his 
heavy shoulder against it, his great limbs drained with laughter. 

There was a hot blast of steamy air from the Appalachian Laundry 
across the street and, as the door from the office of the washroom 
opened, they had a moment's glimpse of negresses plunging their wet 
arms into the liquefaction of their clothes. 

George Graves dried his eyes. Laughing wearily, they crossed over. 

"We oughtn't to talk like that, 'Gene," said George Graves 
reproachfully. "Sure enough! It's not right." 

He became moodily serious rapidly. "The best people in this .town 
aie church members," he said earnestly. "It's a fine thing." 

"Why?" said Eugene, with an idle curiosity. 

"Because." said George Graves, "you get to know all the people 
who are worth a damn." 

Worth being damned, he thought quickly. A quaint idea. 

"It helps you in a business way. They come to know you and 
respect you. You won't get far in this town, 'Gene, without them. It 
pays," he added devoutly, "to be a Christian." 

"Yes," Eugene agreed seriously, "you're right." To walk together 
to the kirk, with a goodly company. 

He thought sadly of his lost sobriety, and of how once, lonely, he 
had walked the decent lanes of God's Scotch town. Unbidden they 
came again to haunt his memory, the shaven faces of good tradesman, 
each leading the well washed kingdom of his home m its obedient ritual, 



350 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



the lean hushed smiles of worship, the 
chained passion of devotion, as they im- 
plored God's love upon their ventures, or 
delivered their virgin daughters into the 
holy barter of marriage. And from even 
deeper adyts of his brain there swam up 
slowly to the shores of his old hunger the 
great fish whose names he scarcely knew 
whose names, garnered with blind toil 
from a thousand books, from Augustine, 
himself a name, to Jeremy Taylor, the 
English metaphysician, were brief evoca- 
tions of scalded light, electric, phosphor- 
escent, illuminating by their magic con- 
notations the vast far depths of ritual 
and religion: They came Bartholomew, 
Hilarius, Chrysostomos, Polycarp, An- 
thony, Jerome, and the forty martyrs of 
Cappadocia who walked the waves 
coiled like their own green shadows for a moment, and were gone. 

"Besides," said George Graves, "a man ought to go anyway. 
Honesty's the best policy." 

Across the street, on the second floor of a small brick three-story 
building that housed several members of the legal, medical, surgical, and 
dental professions, Dr. H. M. Smathers pumped vigorously with his 
right foot, took a wad of cotton from his assistant, Miss Lola Bruce, 
and thrusting it securely into the jaw of his unseen patient, bent his 
fashionable bald head intently. A tiny breeze blew back the thin cur- 
tains, and revealed him, white-jacketed, competent, drill in hand. 
"Do you feel that?" he said tenderly. 
"Wrogdgdogurk!" 

"Spit!" With thee conversing, I forget all time. 
"I suppose," said George Graves thoughtfully, "the gold they use 
in people's teeth is worth a lot of money." 

"Yes," said Eugene, finding the idea attractive, "if only one person 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 351 

in ten has gold fillings that would be ten 
million in the United States alone. You 
can figure on five dollars' worth each, 
can't you?" 

"Easy!" said George Graves. "More 
than that." He brooded lusciously a mo- 
ment. "That's a lot of money," he said. 

In the office of the Rogers-Malone 
Undertaking Establishment the painful 
family of death was assembled, "Horse" 
Hines, tilted back in a swivel chair, with 
his feet thrust out on the broad window- 
ledge, chatted lazily with Mr. C. M. 
Powell, the suave silent partner. How 
sleep the brave, who sink to rest. Forget 
not yet. 

"There's good money in undertak- 
ing," said George Graves. "Mr. Powell's 
well off." 

Eugene's eyes were glued on the lantern face of "Horse" Hines. 
He beat the air with a convulsive arm, and sank his fingers in his throat. 

"What's the matter?" cried George Graves. 

"They shall not bury me alive," he said. 

"You can't tell," George Graves said gloomily. "It's been known 
to happen. They've dug them up later and found them turned over on 
their faces." 

Eugene shuddered. "I think," he suggested painfully, "they're sup- 
posed to take out your insides when they embalm you." 

"Yes," said George Graves more hopefully, "and that stuff they 
use would kill you anyway. They pump you full of it.'* 

With shrunken heart, Eugene considered. The ghost of old fear, 
that had been laid for years, walked forth to haunt him. 

In his old fantasies of death he had watched his living burial, had 
foreseen his waking hfe-in-death, his slow, frustrated efforts to push 
away the smothering flood of earth until, as a drowning swimmer claws 




352 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

the air, his mute and stiffened fingers thrust from the ground a call for 
hands. 

Fascinated, they stared through screen-doors down the dark central 
corridor, flanked by jars of weeping ferns. A sweet funereal odor of 
carnations and cedar-wood floated on the cool heavy air. Dimly, beyond 
a central partition, they saw a heavy casket, on a wheeled trestle, with 
rich silver handles and velvet coverings. The thick light faded there in 
dark. 

"They're laid out in the room behind," said George Graves, 
lowering his voice. 

To rot away into a flower, to melt into a tree with the friendless 
bodies of unburied men. 

At this moment, having given to misery all he had (a tear), the 
very Reverend Father James O'Haley, S.J., among the faithless faithful 
only he, unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, emerged plumply from the 
chapel, walked up the soft aisle rug with brisk short-legged strides, and 
came out into the light. His pale blue eyes blinked rapidly for a moment, 
his plump uncreased face set firmly in a smile of quiet benevolence; he 
covered himself with a small well-kept hat of black velvet, and set off 
toward the avenue. Eugene shrank back gently as the little man walked 
past him: that small priestly figure in black bore on him the awful 
accolade of his great Mistress, that smooth face had heard the unut- 
terable, seen the unknowable. In this remote outpost of the mighty 
Church, he was the standard-bearer of the one true faith, the consecrate 
flesh of God. 

"They don't get any pay," said George Graves sorrowfully. 

"How do they live, then?" Eugene asked. 

"Don't you worry!" said George Graves, with a knowing smile. 

"They get all that's coming to them. He doesn't seem to be starving, 
does he?" 

"No," said Eugene, "he doesn't." 

"He lives on the fat of the land," said George Graves. "Wine at 
every meal. There are some rich Catholics in this town." 

"Yes," said Eugene. "Frank Moriarty's got a pot full of money 
that he made selling licker." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 353 

"Don't let them hear you," said George Graves, with a surly laugh. 
"They've got a family tree and a coat of arms already." 

"A beer-bottle rampant on a field of hmburger cheese, gules," said 
Eugene. 

"They're trying to get the Princess Madeleine into Society," said 
George Graves. 

"Hell fire!" Eugene cried, grinning. "Let's let her in, if that's all 
she wants. We belong to the Younger Set, don't we?" 

"You may," said George Graves, reeling with laughter, "but I 
don't. I wouldn't be caught dead with the little pimps." 

"Mr. Eugene Gant was the host last night at a hot winnie roast 
given to members of the local Younger Set at Dixieland, the beautiful 
old ancestral mansion of his mother, Mrs. Eliza Gant." 

George Graves staggered. "You oughtn't to say that, 'Gene," he 
gasped. He shook his head reproachfully. "Your mother's a fine 
woman." 

"During the course of the evening, the Honorable George Graves, 
the talented scion of one of our oldest and wealthiest families, the 
Chesterfield Graveses, ($10 a week and up), rendered a few appropriate 
selections on the jews-harp." 

Pausing deliberately, George Graves wiped his streaming eyes, and 
blew his nose. In the windows of Bain's millinery store, a waxen riymph 
bore a confection of rakish plumes upon her false tresses, and extended 
her simpering fingers in elegant counterpoise. Hats For Milady. O that 
those lips had language. 

At this moment, with a smooth friction of trotting rumps, the 
death-wagon of Rogers-Malone turned swiftly in from the avenue, and 
wheeled by on ringing hoofs. They turned curiously and watched it 
draw up to the curb. 

"Another Redskin bit the dust," said George Graves. 

Come, delicate death, serenely arriving, arriving. 

"Horse" Hines came out quickly on long flapping legs, and opened 
the doors behind. In another moment, with the help of the two men 
on the driver's seat, he had lowered the long wicker basket gently, and 
vanished, quietly, gravely, into the fragrant gloom of his establishment. 



354 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

As Eugene watched, the old fatality 
of place returned. Each day, he thought, 
we pass the spot where some day we must 
die; or shall I, too, ride dead to some 
mean building yet unknown? Shall this 
bright clay, the hill-bound, die in lodgings 
yet unbuilt? Shall these eyes, drenched 
with visions yet unseen, stored with the 
viscous and interminable seas at dawn, 
with the sad comfort of unfulfilled Ar- 
cadias, seal up their cold dead dreams 
upon a tick, as this, in time, in some hot 
village of the plains? 

He caught and fixed the instant. A 
telegraph messenger wheeled vigorously 
in from the avenue with pumping feet, 
curved widely into the alley at his right, 
jerking his wheel up sharply as he took 
the curb and coasted down to the delivery 
boy's entrance. And post o'er land and ocean without rest. Milton, thou 
shouldst be living at this hour. 

Descending the dark stairs of the Medical Building slowly, Mrs. 
Thomas Hewitt, the comely wife of the prominent attorney (of Arthur, 
Hewitt, and Grey), turned out into the light, and advanced slowly to- 
ward the avenue. She was greeted with flourishing gestures of the hat 
by Henry T. Merriman (Merriman and Mernman), and Judge Robert C. 
Allan, professional colleagues of her husband. She smiled and shot each 
quickly with a glance. Pleasant is this flesh. When she had passed they 
looked after her a moment. Then they continued their discussion of the 
courts. 

On the third floor of the First National Bank building on the right 
hand corner, Fergus Paston, fifty-six, a thin lecherous mouth between 
iron-gray dundrearies, leaned his cocked leg upon his open window, 
and followed the movements of Miss Bernie Powers, twenty-two, 
crossing the street. Even in our ashes live their wonted fires. 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



355 



On the opposite corner, Mrs. Roland 
Rawls, whose husband was manager of 
the Peerless Pulp Company (Plant No. 3), 
and whose father owned it, emerged from 
the rich seclusion of Arthur N. Wright, 
jeweller. She clasped her silver meshbag, 
and stepped into her attendant Packard. 
She was a tall black-haired woman of 
thirty-three with a good figure: her face 
was dull, flat, and Mid-western. 

"She's the one with the money," said 
George Graves. "He hasn't a damn thing. 
It's all in her name. She wants to be an 
opera singer." 

"Can she sing?" 

"Not worth a damn," said George 
Graves. "I've heard her. There's your 
chance, 'Gene. She's got a daughter 
about your age." 

"What does she do?" said Eugene. 

"She wants to be an actress," said George Graves, laughing 
throatily. 

"You have to work too damn hard for your money," said Eugene. 

They had reached the corner by the Bank, and now halted, inde- 
cisively, looking up the cool gulch of afternoon. The street buzzed with 
a light gay swarm of idlers: the faces of the virgins bloomed in and out 
like petals on a bough. Advancing upon him, an inch to the second, 
Eugene saw, ten feet away, the heavy paralyzed body of old Mr. Avery. 
He was a very great scholar, stone-deaf, and seventy-eight years old. 
He lived alone m a room above the Public Library. He had neither 
friends nor connections. He was a myth. 

"Oh, my God!" said Eugene. "Here he comes!" 

It was too late for escape. 

Gasping a welcome, Mr. Avery bore down on him, with a violent 
shuffle of his feet and a palsied tattoo of his heavy stick which 




356 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

brought him over the intervening three yards in forty seconds. 
"Well, young fellow," he panted, "how's Latin?" 
"Fine," Eugene screamed into his pink ear. 
"Poeta nascitur, nonfit" said Mr. Avery, and went off into a silent 
wheeze of laughter which brought on a fit of coughing strangulation. 
His eyes bulged, his tender pink skin grew crimson, he roared his terror 
out in a phlegmy rattle, while his goose-white hand trembled frantically 
for his handkerchief. A crowd gathered. Eugene quickly drew a dirty 
handkerchief from the old man's pocket, and thrust it into his hands. 
He tore up from his convulsed organs a rotting mass, and panted rapidly 
for breath. The crowd dispersed somewhat dejectedly. 

George Graves grinned darkly. "That's too bad," he said. "You 
oughtn't to laugh, 'Gene." He turned away, gurgling. 

"Can you conjugate?" gasped Mr. Avery. "Here's the way I 
learned: 

"A mo, amas, 
I love a lass. 
Amat, 
He loves her, too." 

Quivering with tremors of laughter, he launched himself again. 
Because he could not leave them, save by the inch, they moved off 
several yards to the curb. Grow old along with me! 

"That's a damn shame," said George Graves, looking after him 
and shaking his head. "Where's he going?" 

"To supper," said Eugene. 

"To supper!" said George Graves. "It's only four o'clock. Where 
does he eat?" 

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. 

"At the Uneeda," said Eugene, beginning to choke. "It takes him 
two hours to get there." 

"Does he go every day?" said George Graves, beginning to laugh. 

"Three times a day," Eugene screamed. "He spends all morning 
going to dinner, and all afternoon going to supper." 

A whisper of laughter came from their weary jaws. They sighed 
like sedge. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 357 

At this moment, dodging briskly through the crowd, with a loud 
and cheerful word for every one, Mr. Joseph Bailey, secretary of the 
Altamont Chamber of Commerce, short, broad, and ruddy, came by 
them with a hearty gesture of the hand: 

"Hello, boys!" he cried. "How're they going?" But before either 
of them could answer, he had passed on, with an encouraging shake of 
his head, and a deep applauding "Thafs right." 

"Whafs right?" said Eugene. 

But before George Graves could answer, the great lung specialist, 
Dr. Fairfax Grinder, scion of one of the oldest and proudest families 
in Virginia, drove in viciously from Church Street, with his sinewy 
length of six feet and eight inches coiled tensely in the deep pit of his 
big Buick roadster. Cursing generally the whole crawling itch of Con- 
federate and Yankee postwar rabbledom, with a few special parentheses 
for Jews and niggers, he drove full tilt at the short plump figure of 
Joe Zamschmck, men's furnishings ("Just a Whisper Off The Square"). 

Joseph, two yards away from legal safety, hurled himself with a wild 
scream headlong at the curb. He arrived on hand and knees, but under 
his own power. 

"K-hurses!" said Eugene. "Foiled again." 

Twas true! Dr. Fairfax Grinder's lean bristled upper lip drew 
back over hu> strong yellow teeth. He jammed on his brakes, and lifted 
his car round with a complete revolution of his long arms. Then he 
roared away through scattering traffic, in a greasy blue cloud of gasoline 
and burnt rubber. 

Joe Zamschmck frantically wiped his gleaming bald head with a 
silk handkerchief and called loudly on the public to bear witness. 

"What's the matter with him?" said George Graves, disappointed. 
"He usually goes up on the sidewalk after them if he can't get them on 
the street." 

On the other side of the street, attracting no more than a languid 
stare from the loafing natives, the Honorable William Jennings Bryan 
paused benevolently before the windows of the H. Martin Grimes 
Bookstore, allowing the frisking breeze to toy pleasantly with his famous 
locks. The tangles of Neaera's hair. 



358 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

The Commoner stared carefully at 
the window display which included sev- 
eral copies of Before Adam, by Jack 
London. Then he entered, and selected a 
dozen views of Altamont and the sur- 
rounding hills. 

"He may come here to live," said 
George Graves. "Dr. Doak's offered to 
give him a house and lot in Doak Park." 
"Why?" said Eugene. 
"Because the advertising will be 
worth a lot to the town," said George 
Graves. 

A little before them, that undaunted 
daughter of desires, Miss Elizabeth 
Scragg, emerged from Woolworth's Five 
and Ten Cent Store, and turned up to- 
ward the Square. Smiling, she acknowl- 
edged the ponderous salute of Big Jeff 
White, the giant half-owner of the Whitstone hotel, whose fortunes had 
begun when he had refused to return to his old comrade, Dickson Reese, 
the embezzling cashier, ninety thousand dollars of entrusted loot. Dog 
eat dog. Thief catch thief. It is not growing like a tree, in bulk doth 
make man better be. 

His six-and-a-half-foot shadow flitted slowly before them. He 
passed, in creaking number twelves, a massive smooth-jowled man with 
a great paunch girdled in a wide belt. 

Across the street again, before the windows of the Van W. Yeats 
Shoe Company, the Reverend J. Brooks Gall, Amherst ('61), and as 
loyal a Deke as ever breathed, but looking only sixty of his seventy- 
three years, paused in his brisk walk, and engaged in sprightly mono- 
logue, three of his fellow Boy Scouts the Messrs. Lewis Monk, seven- 
teen, Bruce Rogers, thirteen, and Malcolm Hodges, fourteen. None 
knew as well as he the heart of a boy. He, too, it seems, had once been 
one himself. Thus, as one bright anecdote succeeded, or suggested, a 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 359 

half-dozen others, they smiled dutifully, 
with attentive respect, below the lifted 
barrier of his bristly white mustache, into 
the gleaming rhyme of his false teeth. 
And, with rough but affectionate camara- 
derie, he would pause from time to time 
to say: "Old Male!" or "Old Bruce!" 
gripping firmly his listener's arm, shaking 
him gently. Pallidly, on restless feet, they 
smiled, plotting escape with slant-eyed 
stealth. 

Mr. Buse, the Oriental rug merchant, 
came around the corner below them from 
Liberty Street. His broad dark face was 
wreathed in Persian smiles. I met a trav- 
eller from an antique land. 

In the Bijou Cafe for Ladies and 
Gents, Mike, the counter man, leaned his 
hairy arms upon the marble slab, and 

bent his wrinkled inch of brow upon a week-old copy of Atlantis. Fride 
Chicken To-day with Swet Potatos. Hail to thee, blithe spirit, bird thou 
never wert. A solitary fly darted swiftly about the greasy cover of a glass 
humidor, under which a leathery quarter of mince pie lay weltering. 
Spring had come. 

Meanwhile, having completed twice their parade up and down the 
street from the Square to the post-office, the Misses Christine Ball, 
Viola Powell, Aline Rollins, and Dorothy Hazzard were accosted out- 
side Wood's Drug Store by Tom French, seventeen, Roy Duncan, 
nineteen, and Carl Jones, eighteen. 

"Where do you think you're going?" said Tom French, insolently. 

Gayly, brightly, in unison, they answered: 

"Hey ee!" 

"Hay's seven dollars a ton," said Roy Duncan, and immediately 
burst into a high cackle of laughter, in which all the others joined, 
merrily 




360 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"You craz-ee!" said Viola Powell tenderly. Tell me, ye merchants' 
daughters, did ye see another creature fair and wise as she. 

"Mr. Duncan," said Tom French, turning his proud ominous face 
upon his best friend, "I want you to meet a friend of mine, Miss Rollins." 

"I think I've met this man somewhere before," said Aline Rollins. 
Another Splendor on his mouth alit. 

"Yes," said Roy Duncan, "I go there often." 

His small tight freckled impish face was creased again by his high 
cackle. All I could never be. They moved into the store, where drouthy 
neibors neibors meet, through the idling group of fountain gallants. 

Mr. Henry Sorrell (It Can Be Done), and Mr. John T. Howland 
(We Sell Lots and Lots of Lots), emerged, beyond Arthur N. Wright's, 
jeweller, from the gloomy dusk of the Gruner Building. Each looked 
into the subdivisions of the other's heart; their eyes kept the great Vision 
of the guarded mount as swiftly they turned into Church Street where 
Sorrell's Hudson was parked. 

White-vested, a trifle paunchy, with large broad feet, a shaven 
moon of red face, and abundant taffy-colored hair, the Reverend John 
Smallwood, pastor of the First Baptist Church, walked heavily up the 
street, greeting his parishioners warmly, and hoping to see his Pilot 
face to face. Instead, however, he encountered the Honorable William 
Jennings Bryan, who was coming slowly out of the bookstore. The two 
close friends greeted each other affectionately, and, with a firm friendly 
laying on of hands, gave each to each the Chntsian aid of a benevolent 
exorcism. 

"Just the man I was looking for," said Brother Smallwood. In 
silence, slowly, they shook hands for several seconds. Silence was 
pleased. 

"That," observed the Commoner with grave humor, "is what I 
thought the Great American People said to me on three occasions." 
It was a favorite jest ripe with wisdom, mellowed by the years, yet, 
withal, so characteristic of the man. The deep furrows of his mouth 
widened in a smile. Our master famous, calm, and dead. 

Passed, on catspaw rubber tread, from the long dark bookstore, 
Professor L. B. Dunn, principal of Graded School No. 3, Montgomery 
Avenue. He smiled coldly at them with a gimlet narrowing of his spec- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 361 

tacled eyes. The tell-tale cover of The New Republic peeked from his 
pocket. Clamped under his lean and freckled arm were new library 
copies of The Great Illusion, by Norman Angell, and The Ancient 
Grudge, by Owen Wister. A lifelong advocate of a union of the two 
great English-speaking (sic) nations, making together irresistibly for 
peace, truth, and righteousness in a benevolent but firm authority over 
the less responsible elements of civilization, he passed, the Catholic 
man, pleasantly dedicated to the brave adventuring of minds and the 
salvaging of mankind. Ah, yes! 

"And how are you and the Good Woman enjoying your sojourn 
in the Land of the Sky?" said the Reverend John Smallwood. 

"Our only regret," said the Commoner, "is that our visit here must 
be measured by days and not by months. Nay, by years." 

Mr. Richard Gorman, twenty-six, city reporter of The Citizen, 
strode rapidly up the street, with proud cold news-nose lifted. His com- 
placent smile, hard-lipped, loosened into servility. 

"Ah, there, Dick," said John Smallwood, clasping his hand affec- 
tionately, and squeezing his arm, "Just the man I was looking for. Do 
you know Mr. Bryan?" 

"As fellow newspaper men," said the Commoner, "Dick and I 
have been close friends for how many years is it, my boy?" 

"Three, 1 think, sir," said Mr. Gorman, blushing prettily. 

"I wish you could have been here, Dick," said the Reverend 
Smallwood, "to hear what Mr. Bryan was saying about us. The good 
people of this town would be mighty proud to hear it." 

"I'd like another statement from you before you go, Mr. Bryan," 
said Richard Gorman. "There's a story going the rounds that you may 
make your home with us in the future." 

When questioned by a Citizen reporter, Mr. Bryan refused either 
to confirm or deny the rumor: 

"I may have a statement to make later," he observed with a signi- 
ficant smile, "but at present I must content myself by saying that if I 
could have chosen the place of my birth, I could not have found a fairer 
spot than this wonderland of nature." 

Earthly Paradise, Thinks Commoner. 

"I have travelled far in my day," continued the man who had 



362 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



been chosen three times by a great Party 
to contend for the highest honor within 
the gift of the people. "I have gone from 
the woods of Maine to the wave-washed 
sands of Florida, from Hatteras to Hali- 
fax, and from the summits of the Rockies 
to where Missouri rolls her turgid flood, 
but I have seen few spots that equal, and 
none that surpass, the beauty of this 
mountain Eden." 

The reporter made notes rapidly. 
The years of his glory washed back 
to him upon the rolling tides of rhet- 
oric the great lost days of the first cru- 
sade when the money barons trembled 
beneath the shadow of the Cross of 
Gold, and Bryan! Bryan! Bryan! Bryan! 
burned through the land like a comet. 
Ere I was old. 1896. Ah, woful ere, 
which tells me youth's no longer here. 
Forsees Dawn of New Era. 

When pressed more closely by the reporter as to his future plans, 
Mr. Bryan replied: 

"My schedule is completely filled, for months to come, with speak- 
ing engagements that will take me from one end of the country to the 
other, in the fight I am making for the reduction of the vast armaments 
that form the chief obstacle to the reign of peace on earth, good-will to 
men. After that, who knows?" he said, flashing his famous smile. 
"Perhaps I shall come back to this beautiful region, and take up my 
life among my good friends here as one who, having fought the good 
fight, deserves to spend the declining years of his life not only within 
sight, but within the actual boundaries, of the happy land of Canaan." 
Asked if he could predict with any certainty the date of his pro- 
posed retirement, the Commoner answered characteristically with the 
following beautiful quotation from Longfellow : 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



363 



"When the war-drum throbbed no longer, 
And the battle-flags were furled 
Tn the Parliament of man, 
The Federation of the world." 

The magic cell of music the elec- 
tric piano in the shallow tiled lobby of 
Altamont's favorite cinema, the Ajax, 
stopped playing with firm, tinny abrupt- 
ness, hummed ominously for a moment, 
and without warning commenced anew. 
It's a long way to Tipperary. The world 
shook with the stamp of marching men. 

Miss Margaret Blanchard and Mrs. 
C. M. McReady, the druggist's drugged 
wife who, by the white pitted fabric of 
her skin, and the wide bright somnolence 
of her eyes, on honey-dew had fed too 
often, came out of the theatre and turned 
down toward Wood's pharmacy. 

To-day: Maurice Costello and Edith M. Storey in Throw Out the 
Life-line, a Vitagraph Release. 

Goggling, his great idiot's head lolling on his scrawny neck, wearing 
the wide-rimmed straw hat that covered him winter and summer, Willie 
GotT, the pencil merchant, jerked past, with inward lunges of his crip- 
pled right foot. The fingers of his withered arm pointed stiffly toward 
himself, beckoning to him, and touching him as he walked with stiff 
jerking taps, in a terrible parody of vanity. A gaudy handkerchief with 
blue, yellow and crimson patterns hung in a riotous blot from his breast^ 
pocket over his neatly belted gray Norfolk jacket, a wide loose collar 
of silk barred with red and orange stripes flowered across his narrow 
shoulders. In his lapel a huge red carnation. His thin face, beneath the 
jutting globular head, grinned constantly, glutting his features with 
wide, lapping, receding, returning, idiot smiles. For should he live a 
thousand years, he never will be out of humor. He burred ecstatically 
at the passers-by, who grinned fondly at him, and continued down to 




364 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Wood's where he was greeted with loud cheers and laughter by a group 
of young men who loitered at the fountain's end. They gathered around 
him boisterously, pounding his back and drawing him up to the foun- 
tain. Pleased, he looked at them warmly, gratefully. He was touched 
and happy. 

"What're you having, Willie?" said Mr. Tobias Pottle. 

"Give me a dope," said Willie Goff to the grinning jerker, "a dope 
and lime." 

Pudge Carr, the politician's son, laughed hilariously. "Want a dope 
and lime, do you, Willie?" he said, and struck him heavily on the back. 
His thick stupid face composed itself. 

"Have a cigarette, Willie," he said, offering the package to Willie 
Goff. 

"What's yours?" said the jerker to Toby Pottle. 

"Give me a dope, too." 

"I don't want anything," said Pudge Carr. Such drinks as made 
them nobly wild, not mad. 

Pudge Carr held a lighted match to Willie's cigarette, winking 
slowly at Brady Chalmers, a tall, handsome fellow, with black hair, 
and a long dark face. Willie Goff drew in on his cigarette, lighting it 
with dry smacking lips. He coughed, removed the weed, and held it 
awkwardly between his thumb and forefinger, looking at it, curiously. 

They sputtered with laughter, involved and lost in clouds of fume, 
and guzzling deep, the boor, the lackey, and the groom. 

Brady Chalmers took Willie's colored handkerchief gently from his 
pocket and held it up for their inspection. Then he folded it carefully 
and put it back. 

"What are you all dressed up about, Willie?" he said. "You must 
be going to see your girl." 

Willie Goff grinned cunningly. 

Toby Pottle blew a luxurious jet of smoke through his nostrils. 
He was twenty-four, carefully groomed, with slick blond hair, and a 
pink massaged face. 

"Come on, Willie," he said, blandly, quietly, "you've got a girl, 
haven't you?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 365 

Willie Goff leered knowingly; at the counter-end, Tim McCall, 

twenty-eight, who had been slowly feeding cracked ice from his cupped 

fist into his bloated whisky-fierce jowls, collapsed suddenly, blowing a 

bright rattling hail upon the marble ledge. 

"I've got several," said Willie Goff. "A fellow's got to have a little 
Poon-Tang, hasn't he?" 

Flushed with high ringing laughter, they smiled, spoke respectfully, 
uncovered before Miss Tot Webster, Miss Mary McGraw, and Miss 
Martha Cotton, older members of the Younger Set. They called for 
stronger music, louder wine. 
"How do you do?" 

"Aha! Aha!" said Brady Chalmers to Miss Mary McGraw. 
"Where were you that time?" 

"You'll never know," she called back. It was between them their 
little secret. They laughed knowingly with joy of possession. 

"Come on back, Pudge," said Euston Phipps, their escort. "You 
too, Brady." He followed the ladies back tall, bold, swagger a young 
alcoholic with one sound lung. He was a good golfer. 

Pert boys rushed from the crowded booths and tables to the foun- 
tain, coming up with a long slide. They shouted their orders rudely, 
nagging the swift jerkers glibly, stridently. 

"All right, son. Two dopes and a mint limeade. Make it snappy." 
"Do you work around here, boy?" 

The jerkers moved in ragtime tempo, juggling the drinks, tossing 
scooped globes of ice-cream into the air and catching them in glasses, 
beating swift rhythms with a spoon. 

Seated alone, with thick brown eyes above her straw regardant, 
Mrs. Thelma Jarvis, the milliner, drew, in one swizzling guzzle, the last 
beaded chain of linked sweetness long drawn out from the bottom of 
her glass. Drink to me only with thine eyes. She rose slowly, looking 
into the mirror of her open purse. Then, fiuescent, her ripe limbs 
moulded in a dress of silk henna, she writhed carefully among the 
crowded tables, with a low rich murmur of contrition. Her voice was 
ever soft, gentle, and low an excellent thing in a woman. The high 
light chatter of the tables dropped as she went by. For God's sake, hold 



366 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



your tongue and let me love! On amber 
undulant limbs she walked slowly up 
the aisle past perfume, stationery, rubber 
goods, and toilet preparations, pausing 
at the cigar counter to pay her check. 
Her round, melon-heavy breasts nodded 
their heads in slow but sprightly dance. 
A poet could not but be gay, in such a 
jocund company. 

But at the entrance, standing in 
the alcove by the magazine rack, Mr. 
Paul Goodson, of the Dependable Life, 
closed his long grinning dish-face abrupt- 
ly, and ceased talking. He doffed his hat 
without effusiveness, as did his compan- 
ion, Coston Smathers, the furniture man 
(you furnish the girl, we furnish the 
house). They were both Baptists. 

Mrs. Thelma Jarvis turned her warm 
ivory stare upon them, parted her full small mouth in a remote smile, 
and passed, ambulant. When she had gone they turned to each other, 
grinning quietly. We'll be waiting at the river. Swiftly they glanced 
about them. No one had seen. 

Patroness of all the arts, but particular sponsor for Music, Heavenly 
Maid, Mrs. Franz Wilhelm Von Zeck, wife of the noted lung specialist, 
and the discoverer of Von Zeck's serum, came imperially from the doors 
of the Fashion Mart, and was handed tenderly into the receiving cushions 
of her Cadillac by Mr. Louis Rosalsky. Benevolently but distantly she 
smiled down upon him: the white parchment of his hard Polish face 
was broken by a grin of cruel servility curving up around the wings of 
his immense putty-colored nose. Frau Von Zeck settled her powerful 
chins upon the coarse shelving of her Wagnerian breasts and, her pon- 
derous gaze already dreaming on remote philanthropies, was charioted 
smoothly away from the devoted tradesman. Nur wer die Sehnsucht 
kennt, weiss was Ich leide. 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 367 

Mr. Rosalsky returned into his store. 

For the third time the Misses Mil- 
dred Shuford, Helen Pendergast, and 
Mary Catherine Bruce drove by, clus- 
tered together like unpicked cherries in 
the front seat of Miss Shuford's Reo. 
They passed, searching the pavements 
with eager, haughty eyes, pleased at their 
proud appearance. They turned up Lib- 
erty Street on their fourth swing round 
the circle Waltz me around again, Willie. 

"Do you know how to dance, 
George?" Eugene asked. His heart was 
full of bitter pride and fear. 

44 Yes," said George Graves absently, 
"a little bit. I don't like it." He lifted 
his brooding eyes. 

"Say, 'Gene," he said, "how much 
do you think Dr. Von Zeck is worth?" 

He answered Eugene's laughter with a puzzled sheepish grin. 

"Come on," said Eugene. "Til match you for a drink." 

They dodged nimbly across the narrow street, amid the thickening 
afternoon traffic. 

"It's getting worse all the time," said George Graves. "The people 
who laid the town out didn't have any vision. What's it going to be 
like, ten years from now?" 

"They could widen the streets, couldn't they?" said Eugene. 

"No. Not now. You'd have to move all the buildings back. 
Wonder how much it would cost?" said George Graves thoughtfully. - 

"And if we don't," Professor L. B. Dunn's precise voice sounded 
its cold warning, "their next move will be directed against us. You may 
yet live to see the day when the iron heel of militarism is on your neck, 
and the armed forces of the Kaiser do the goose-step up and down this 
street. When that day comes " 

"I don't put any stock m those stones," said Mr. Bob Webster 




368 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

rudely and irreverently. He was a small man, with a gray, mean face, 
violent and bitter. A chronic intestinal sourness seemed to have left its 
print upon his features. "In my opinion, it's all propaganda. Those 
Germans are too damn good for them, that's all. They're beginning to 
call for calf-rope." 

"When that day comes," Professor Dunn implacably continued, 
"remember what I told you. The German government has imperialistic 
designs upon the whole of the world. It is looking to the day when it 
shall have all mankind under the yoke of Krupp and Kultur. The fate 
of civilization is hanging in the balance. Mankind is at the crossroads. 
I pray God it shall not be said that we were found wanting. I pray God 
that this free people may never suffer as little Belgium suffered, that our 
wives and daughters may not be led off into slavery or shame, our 
children maimed and slaughtered." 

"It's not our fight," said Mr. Bob Webster. "I don't want to send 
my boys three thousand miles across the sea to get shot for those 
foreigners. If they^come over here, I'll shoulder a gun with the best of 
them, but until they do they can fight it out among themselves. Isn't 
that right, Judge?" he said, turning toward the party of the third part, 
Judge Walter C. Jeter, of the Federal Circuit, who had fortunately been 
a close friend of Grover Cleveland. Ancestral voices prophesying war. 

"Did you know the Wheeler boys?" Eugene asked George Graves. 
"Paul and Clifton?" 

"Yes," said George Graves. "They went away and joined the 
French army. They're in the Foreign Legion." 

"They're in the aviation part of it," said Eugene. "The Lafayette 
Esky-drill. Clifton Wheeler has shot down more than six Germans." 

"The boys around here didn't like him," said George Graves. 
"They thought he was a sissy." 

Eugene winced slightly at the sound of the word. 

"How old was he?" he asked. 

"He was a grown man," said George. "Twenty-two or three." 

Disappointed, Eugene considered his chance of glory. (Ich binja 
noch ein Kind.) 

" But fortunately," continued Judge Walter C. Jeter deliberately, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 369 

"we have a man in the White House on whose farseeing statemanship 
we can safely rely. Let us trust to the wisdom of his leadership, obeying, 
in word and spirit, the principles of strict neutrality, accepting only as a 
last resort a course that would lead this great nation again into the 
suffering and tragedy of war, which," his voice sank to a whisper, "God 
forbid!" 

Thinking of a more ancient war, in which he had borne himself 
gallantly, Colonel James Buchanan Pettigrew, head of the Pettigrew 
Military Academy (Est. 1789), rode by in his open victoria, behind an 
old negro driver and two well-nourished bro\\n mares. There was a 
good brown smell of horse and sweat-cured leather. The old negro 
snaked his whip gently across the sleek trotting rumps, growling softly. 

Colonel Pettigrew was wrapped to his waist in a heavy rug, his 
shoulders were covered with a gray Confederate cape. He bent forward, 
leaning his old weight upon a heavy polished stick, which his freckled 
hands gripped upon the silver knob. Muttering, his proud powerful old 
head turned shakily from side to side, darting fierce splintered glances 
at the drifting crowd. He was a very parfit gentil knight. 

He muttered. 

"Suh?" said the negro, pulling in on his reins, and turning around. 

"Go on! Go on, you scoundrel!" said Colonel Pettigrew. 

"Yes, suh," said the negro. They drove on. 

In the crowd of loafing youngsters that stood across the threshold 
of Wood's pharmacy, Colonel Pettigrew's darting eyes saw two of his 
own cadets. They were pimply youths, with slack jaws and a sloppy 
carriage. 

He muttered his disgust. Not the same! Not the same! Nothing 
the same! In his proud youth, in the only war that mattered, Colonel 
Pettigrew had marched at the head of his own cadets. There were 117, 
sir, all under nineteen. They stepped forward to a man . . . until not a 
single commissioned officer was left . . . 36 came back . . . since 1789 . . . 
it must go on! ... 19, sir all under one hundred and seventeen . . . 
must ... go ... on! 

His sagging cheek-flanks trembled gently. The horses trotted out of 
sight around the corner, with a smooth-spoked rumble of rubber tires. 



370 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



George Graves and Eugene entered Wood's pharmacy and stood 
up to the counter. The elder soda-jerker, scowling, drew a sopping rag 
across a puddle of slop upon the marble slab. 

"What's yours?" he said irritably. 

"I want a chock-lut milk," said Eugene. 

"Make it two," added George Graves. 

O for a draught of vintage that hath been cooled a long age in 
the deep-delved earth! 





25 

Yes. The enormous crime had been committed. And, for almost 
a year, Eugene had been maintaining a desperate neutrality. His heart, 
however, was not neutral. The fate of civilization, it appeared, hung 
in the balance. 

The war had begun at the peak of the summer season. Dixieland 
was full. His closest friend at the time was a sharp old spinstress with 
frayed nerves, who had been for thirty years a teacher of English in a 
New York City public school. Day by day, after the murder of the 
Grand Duke, they watched the tides of blood and desolation mount 
through the world. Miss Crane's thin red nostrils quivered with indig- 
nation. Her old gray eyes were sharp with anger. The idea! The idea! 

For, of all the English, none can show a loftier or more inspired 
love for Albion's Isle than American ladies who teach its noble tongue. 

Eugene was also faithful. With Miss Crane he kept a face of 
mournful regret, but his heart drummed a martial tattoo against his 
ribs. The air was full of fifes and flutes; he heard the ghostly throbbing 
of great guns. 

"We must be fair!" said Margaret Leonard. "We must be fair!" 

371 



372 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

But her eyes darkened when she read the news of England's entry, and 
her throat was trembling like a bird's. When she looked up her eyes 
were wet. 

"Ah, Lord!" she said. "You'll see things now." 

"Little Bobs!" roared Sheba. 

"God bless him! Did you see where he's going to take the field?" 

John Dorsey Leonard laid down the paper, and bent over with high 
drooling laughter. 

"Lord a'mercy!" he gasped. "Let the rascals come now!" 

Ah, well they came. 

All through that waning summer, Eugene shuttled frantically from 
the school to Dixieland, unable, in the delirium of promised glory, 
to curb his prancing limbs. He devoured every scrap of news, and 
rushed to share it with the Leonards or Miss Crane. He read every 
paper he could lay his hands on, exulting in the defeats that were forcing 
the Germans back at every point. For, he gathered from this wilderness 
of print, things were going badly with the Huns. At a thousand points 
they fled squealing before English steel at Mons, fell suppliantly before 
the French charge along the Marne; withdrew here, gave way there, 
ran away elsewhere. Then, one morning, when they should have been 
at Cologne, they were lined up at the walls of Pans. They had run in 
the wrong direction. The world grew dark. Desperately, he tried to 
understand. He could not. By the extraordinary strategy of always 
retreating, the German army had arrived before Paris. It was some- 
thing new in warfare. It was several years, in fact, before Eugene could 
wholly understand that some one in the German armies had done some 
fighting. 

John Dorsey Leonard was untroubled. 

"You wait!" he said confidently. "You just wait, my sonny. That 
old fellow Joffer knows what he's about. This is just what he's been 
waiting for. Now he's got them where he wants them." 

Eugene wondered for what subtle reason a French general might 
want a German army at Pans. 

Margaret lifted her troubled eyes from the paper. 

"It looks mighty serious," she said. "I tell you!" She was silent a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 373 

moment, a torrent of passion rose up in her throat. Then she added in 
a low trembling voice: "If England goes, we all go." 

"God bless her!" Sheba yelled. 

"God bless her, 'Gene," she continued, tapping him on the knee. 
"When I stepped ashore on her dear old soil that time, I just couldn't 
help myself. I didn't care what any one thought. I knelt right down 
there in the dirt, and pretended to tie my shoe, but say, boy" her 
bleared eyes glistened through her tears "God bless her, I couldn't help 
it. Do you know what I did? I leaned over and kissed her earth." 
Large gummy tears rolled down her red cheeks. She was weeping loudly, 
but she went on. "I said: This is the earth of Shakespeare, and Milton, 
and John Keats and, by God, what's more, it's mine as well! God bless 
her! God bless her!" 

Tears flowed quietly from Margaret Leonard's eyes. Her face was 
wet. She could not speak. They were all deeply moved. 

"She won't go," said John Dorsey Leonard "We'll have a word 
to say to that! She won't go! You wait!" 

In Eugene's fantasy there burned the fixed vision of the great hands 
clasped across the sea, the flowering of green fields, and the developing 
convolutions of a faery London mighty, elfin, old, a romantic labyrinth 
of ancient crowded ways, tall, leaning houses, Lucullan food and drink, 
and the mad imperial eyes of genius burning among the swarm of quaint 
originality. 

As the war developed, and the literature of war-enchantment began 
to appear, Margaret Leonard gave him book after book to read. They 
were the books of the young men the young men who fought to blot 
out the evil of the world with their blood. In her trembling voice she 
read to him Rupert Brooke's sonnet "If I should die, think only this 
of me" and she put a copy of Donald Hankey's A Student in Arms 
into his hand, saying: 

"Read this, boy. It will stir you as you've never been stirred before. 
Those boys have seen the vision!" 

He read it. He read many others. He saw the vision. He became 
a member of this legion of chivalry young Galahad-Eugene a spear- 
head of righteousness. He had gone a-Grailing. He composed dozens 



374 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

of personal memoirs, into which quietly, humorously, with fine-tempered 
English restraint, he poured the full measure of his pure crusading heart. 
Sometimes, he came through to the piping times of peace minus an 
arm, a leg, or an eye, diminished but ennobled ; sometimes his last radiant 
words were penned on the eve of the attack that took his life. With 
glistening eyes, he read his own epilogue, enjoyed his post-mortem 
glory, as his last words were recorded and explained by his editor. 
Then, witness of his own martyrdom, he dropped two smoking tears 
upon his young slain body. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. 

Ben loped along, scowling, by Wood's pharmacy. As he passed the 
idling group at the tiled entrance, he cast on them a look of sudden 
fierce contempt. Then he laughed quietly, savagely. 

"Oh, my God!" he said. 

At the corner, scowling, he waited for Mrs. Pert to cross from the 
Post Office. She came over slowly, reeling. 

Having arranged to meet her later in the pharmacy, he crossed 
over, and turned angularly down Federal Street behind the Post Office. 
At the second entrance to the Doctors' and Surgeons' Building, he 
turned in, and began to mount the dark creaking stairs. Somewhere, 
with punctual developing monotony, a single drop of water was falling 
into the wet black basin of a sink. He paused in the wide corridor of 
the first floor to control the nervous thudding of his heart. Then he 
walked half-way down and entered the waiting-room of Dr. J. H. 
Coker. It was vacant. Frowning, he sniffed the air. The whole building 
was sharp with the clean nervous odor of antiseptics. A litter of maga- 
zines Life, Judge, The Literary Digest, and The American on the black 
mission table, told its story of weary and distressed fumbling. The inner 
door opened and the doctor's assistant, Miss Ray, came out. She had 
on her hat. She was ready to depart. 

"Do you want to see the doctor?" she saked. 

"Yes," said Ben, "is he busy?" 

"Come on in, Ben," said Coker, coming to the door. He took his 
long wet cigar from his mouth, grinning yellowly. "That's all for to-day, 
Laura. You can go." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 375 

"Good-bye," said Miss Laura Ray, departing. 

Ben went into Coker's office. Coker closed the door and sat down 
at his untidy desk. 

"You'll be more comfortable if you lie down on that table," he 
said grinning. 

Ben gave the doctor's table a look of nausea. 

"How many have died on that thing?" he asked. He sat down 
nervously in a chair by the desk, and lighted a cigarette, holding the 
flame to the charred end of cigar Coker thrust forward. 

"Well, what can I do for you, son?" he asked. 

"I'm tired of pushing daisies here," said Ben. "I want to push 
them somewhere else." 

"What do you mean, Ben?" 

"I suppose you've heard, Coker," said Ben quietly and insultingly, 
"that there's a war going on in Europe. That is, if you've learned to 
read the papers." 

"No, I hadn't heard about it, son," said Coker, puffing slowly and 
deeply. "I read a paper the one that comes out in the morning. I 
suppose they haven't got the news yet." He grinned maliciously. "What 
do you want, Ben?" 

"I'm thinking of going to Canada and enlisting," said Ben. "I 
want you to tell me if I can get in." 

Coker was silent a moment. He took the long chewed weed from 
his mouth and looked at it thoughtfully. 

"What do you want to do that for, Ben?" he said. 

Ben got up suddenly, and went to the window. He cast his cigarette 
away into the court. It struck the cement well with a small dry plop. 
When he turned around, his sallow face had gone white and passionate. 

"In Christ's name, Coker," he said, "what's it all about? Are you 
able to tell me? What in heaven's name are we here for? You're a 
doctor you ought to know something." 

Coker continued to look at his cigar. It had gone out again. 

"Why?" he said deliberately. "Why should I know anything?" 

"Where do we come from? Where do we go to? What are we here 
for? What the hell is it all about?" Ben cried out furiously in a rising 



376 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

voice. He turned bitterly, accusingly, on the older man. "For God's 
sake, speak up, Coker. Don't sit there like a damned tailor's dummy. 
Say something, won't you?" 

"What do you want me to say?" said Coker. "What am I? A 
mind-reader? A spiritualist? I'm your physician, not your priest. I've 
seen them born, and I've seen them die. What happens to them before 
or after, I can't say." 

"Damn that!" said Ben. "What happens to them in between?" 

"You're as great an authority on that as I am, Ben," said Coker. 
"What you want, son, is not a doctor, but a prophet." 

"They come to you when they're sick, don't they?" said Ben. 
"They all want to get well, don't they? You do your best to cure them, 
don't you?" 

"No," said Coker. "Not always. But I'll grant that I'm supposed 
to. What of it?" 

"You must all think that it's about something," said Ben, "or you 
wouldn't do it!" 

"A man must live, mustn't he?" said Coker with a grin. 

"That's what I'm asking you, Coker. Why must he?" 

"Why," said Coker, "in order to work nine hours a day in a news- 
paper office, sleep nine hours, and enjoy the other six in washing, 
shaving, dressing, eating at the Greasy Spoon, loafing in front of 
Wood's, and occasionally taking the Merry Widow to see Francis X. 
Bushman. Isn't that reason enough for any man? If a man's hard- 
working and decent, and invests his money in the Building and Loan 
every week, instead of squandering it on cigarettes, coca-cola, and 
Kuppenheimer clothes, he may own a little home some day." Coker's 
voice sank to a hush of reverence. "He may even have his own car, 
Ben. Think of that! He can get in it, and ride, and ride, and ride. He 
can ride all over these damned mountains. He can be very, very happy. 
He can take exercise regularly in the Y. M. C. A. and think only clean 
thoughts. He can marry a good pure woman and have any number of 
fine sons and daughters, all of whom may be brought up in the Baptist, 
Methodist, or Presbyterian faiths, and given splendid courses in Eco- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 377 

nomics, Commercial Law, and the Fine Arts, at the State university. 
There's plenty to live for, Ben. There's something to keep you busy 
every moment." 

"You're a great wit, Coker," Ben said, scowling. "You're as funny 
as a crutch." He straightened his humped shoulders self-consciously, 
and filled his lungs with air. 

"Well, what about it?" he asked, with a nervous grin. "Am I fit 
to go?" 

"Let's see," said Coker deliberately, beginning to look him over. 
"Feet pigeon-toed, but good arch." He looked at Ben's tan leathers 
closely. 

"What's the matter, Coker?" said Ben. "Do you need your toes 
to shoot a gun with?" 

"How' re your teeth, son?" 

Ben drew back his thin lips and showed two rows of hard white 
grinders. At the same moment, casually, swiftly, Coker prodded him 
with a strong yellow finger in the solar plexus. His distended chest 
collapsed; he bent over, laughing, and coughed dryly. Coker turned 
away to his desk and picked up his cigar. 

"What's the matter, Coker?" said Ben. "What's the idea?" 

"That's all, son. I'm through with you," said Coker. 

"Well, what about it?" said Ben nervously. 

"What about what?" 

"Am I all right?" 

"Certainly you're all right," said Coker. He turned with burning 
match. "Who said you weren't all right?" 

Ben stared at him, scowling, with fear-bright eyes. 

"Quit your kidding, Coker," he said. "I'm three times seven, you 
know. Am I fit to go?" 

"What's the rush?" said Coker. "The war's not over yet. We may 
get into it before long. Why not wait a bit?" 

"That means I'm not fit," said Ben. "What's the matter with me, 
Coker?" 

"Nothing," said Coker carefully. "You're a bit thin. A little run 



378 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

down, aren't you, Ben? You need a little meat on those bones, son. 
You can't sit on a stool at the Greasy Spoon, with a cigarette in one 
hand and a cup of coffee in the other, and get fat." 

"Am I all right or not, Coker?" 

Coker's long death's-head widened in a yellow grin. 

"Yes," he said. "You're all right, Ben. You're one of the most all 
right people I know." 

Ben read the true answer in Coker's veined and weary eyes. His 
own were sick with fear. But he said bitingly: 

"Thanks, Coker. You're a lot of help. T appreciate what you've 
done a lot. As a doctor, you're a fine first baseman." 

Coker grinned. Ben left the office. 

As he went out on the street he met Harry Tugman going down to 
the paper office. 

"What's the matter, Ben?" said Harry Tugman. "Feeling sick?" 

"Yes," said Ben, scowling at him. "I've just had a shot of 606." 

He went up the street to meet Mrs. Pert. 





26 

In the autumn, at the beginning of his fifteen year his last year 
at Leonard's Eugene went to Charleston on a short excursion. He 
found a substitute for his paper route. 

"Come on!" said Max Isaacs, whom he still occasionally saw. 
"We're going to have a good tune, son." 

"Yeah, man!" said Malvin Bowden, whose mother was conducting 
the tour. "You can still git beer in Charleston," he added with a 
dissipated leer. 

"You can go swimmin' in the ocean at the Isle of Palms," said Max 
Isaacs. Then, reverently, he added: "You can go to the Navy Yard an' 
see the ships." 

He was waiting until he should be old enough to join the navy. 
He read the posters greedily. He knew all the navy men at the enlist- 
ment office. He had read all the booklets he was deep in naval lore. 
He knew to a dollar the earnings of firemen, second class, of radio men, 
and of all kinds of C. P. O.'s. 

His father was a plumber. He did not want to be a plumber. He 
wanted to join the navy and see the world. In the navy, a man was 

379 



380 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

given good pay and a good education. He learned a trade. He got good 
food and good clothing. It was all given to him free, for nothing. 

"H'm!" said Eliza, with a bantering smile. "Why, say, boy, what 
do you want to do that for? You're my baby!" 

It had been years since he was. She smiled tremulously. 

"Yes'm," said Eugene. "Can I go? It's only for five days. I've got 
ine money." He thrust his hand into his pocket, feeling. 

"I tell you what!" said Eliza, working her lips, smiling. "You may 
wish you had that money before this winter's over. You're going to 
need new shoes and a warm overcoat when the cold weather comes. 
You must be mighty rich. I wish I could afford to go running off on a 
trip like that." 

"Oh, my God 1" said Ben, with a short laugh. He tossed his cigarette 
into one of the first fires of the year. 

"I want to tell you, son," said Eliza, becoming grave, "you've got 
to learn the value of a dollar or you'll never have a roof to call your 
own. I want you to have a good time, boy, but you mustn't squander 
your money." 

"Yes'm," said Eugene. 

"For heaven's sake!" Ben cried. "It's the kid's own money. Let 
him do what he likes with it. If he wants to throw it out the damned 
window, it's his own business." 

She clasped her hands thoughtfully upon her waist and stared 
away, pursing her lips. 

"Well, I reckon it'll be all right," she said. "Mrs. Bowden will take 
good care of you." 

It was his first journey to a strange place alone. Eliza packed an 
old valise carefully, and stowed away a box of sandwiches and eggs. 
He went away at night. As he stood by his valise, washed, brushed, 
excited, she wept a little. He was again, she felt, a little farther off. The 
hunger for voyages was in his face. 

"Be a good boy," she said. "Don't get into any trouble down 
there." She thought carefully a moment, looking away. Then she went 
down in her stocking, and pulled out a five-dollar bill. 

"Don't waste your money," she said. "Here's a little extra. You 
may need it." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 381 

"Come here, you little thug!" said Ben. Scowling, his quick hands 
worked busily at the boy's stringy tie. He jerked down his vest, slipping 
a wadded ten-dollar bill into Eugene's pocket. "Behave yourself," he 
said, "or I'll beat you to death." 

Max Isaacs whistled from the street. He went out to join them. 

There were six in Mrs. Bowden's party: Max Isaacs, Malvin 
Bowden, Eugene, two girls named Josie and Louise, and Mrs. Bowden. 
Josie was Mrs. Bowden's niece and lived with her. She was a tall bean- 
pole of a girl with a prognathous mouth and stick-out grinning teeth. 
She was twenty. The other girl, Louise, was a waitress. She was small, 
plump, a warm brunette. Mrs. Bowden was a little sallow woman with 
ratty brown hair. She had brown worn-out eyes. She was a dressmaker. 
Her husband, a carpenter, had died in the Spring. There was a little 
insurance money. That was how she came to take the trip. 

Now, by night, he was riding once more into the South. The day- 
coach was hot, full of the weary smell of old red plush. People dozed 
painfully, distressed by the mournful tolling of the bell, and the grinding 
halts. A baby wailed thinly. Its mother, a gaunt wisp-haired moun- 
taineer, turned the back of the seat ahead, and bedded the child on a 
spread newspaper. Its wizened face peeked dirtily out of its swaddling 
discomfort of soiled jackets and pink ribbon. It wailed and slept. At 
the front of the car, a young hill-man, high-boned and red, clad in cor- 
duroys and leather leggings, shelled peanuts steadily, throwing the shells 
into the aisle. People trod through them with a sharp masty crackle. 
The boys, bored, paraded restlessly to the car-end for water. There was 
a crushed litter of sanitary dnnking-cups upon the floor, and a stale 
odor from the toilets. 

The two girls slept soundly on turned seats. The small one breathed 
warmly and sweetly through moist parted lips. 

The weariness of the night wore m upon their jaded nerves, lay 
upon their dry hot eyeballs. They flattened noses against the dirty 
windows, and watched the vast structure of the earth sweep past 
clumped woodlands, the bending sweep of the fields, the huge flowing 
lift of the earth-waves, cyclic intersections bewildering the American 
earth rude, immeasurable, formless, mighty. 

His mind was bound in the sad lulling magic of the car wheels. 



382 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Clackety-clack. Clackety-clack. Clackety-clack. Clackety-clack. He 
thought of his life as something that had happened long ago. He had 
found, at last, his gateway to the lost world. But did it lie before or 
behind him? Was he leaving or entering it? Above the rhythm of the 
wheels he thought of Eliza's laughter over ancient things. He saw a 
brief forgotten gesture, her white broad forehead, a ghost of old grief 
in her eyes. Ben, Gant their strange lost voices. Their sad laughter. 
They swam toward him through green walls of fantasy. They caught 
and twisted at his heart. The green ghost-glimmer of their faces coiled 
away. Lost. Lost. 

"Let's go for a smoke," said Max Isaacs. 

They went back and stood wedged for stability on the closed 
platform of the car. They lighted cigarettes. 

Light broke against the east, in a murky rim. The far dark was 
eaten cleanly away. The horizon sky was barred with hard fierce strips 
of light. Still buried in night, they looked across at the unimpinging 
sheet of day. They looked under the lifted curtain at brightness. They 
were knifed sharply away from it. Then, gently, light melted across the 
land like dew. The world was gray. 

The east broke out in ragged flame. In the car, the little waitress 
breathed deeply, sighed, and opened her clear eyes. 

Max Isaacs fumbled his cigarette awkwardly, looked at Eugene, 
and grinned sheepishly with delight, craning his neck along his collar, 
and making a nervous grimace of his white fuzz-haired face. His hair 
was thick, straight, the color of taffy. He had blond eyebrows. There 
was much kindness in him. They looked at each other with clumsy 
tenderness. They thought of the lost years at Woodson Street. They 
saw with decent wonder their awkward bulk of puberty. The proud 
gate of the years swung open for them. They felt a lonely glory. They 
said farewell. 



Charleston, fat weed that roots itself on Lethe wharf, lived in 
another time. The hours were days, the days weeks. 

They arrived in the morning. By noon, several weeks had passed, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 383 

and he longed for the day's ending. They were quartered in a small 
hotel on King Street an old place above stores, with big rooms. After 
lunch, they went out to see the town. Max Isaacs and Malvm Bowden 
turned at once toward the Navy Yard. Mrs. Bowden went with them. 
Eugene was weary for sleep. He promised to meet them later. 

When they had gone, he pulled off his shoes and took off his coat 
and shirt, and lay down to sleep in a big dark room, into which the 
warm sun fell in shuttered bars. Time droned like a sleepy October fly. 

At five o'clock, Louise, the little waitress, came to wake him. She, 
too, had wanted to sleep. She knocked gently at the door. When he 
did not answer, she opened it quietly and came in, closing it behind her. 
She came to the side of the bed and looked at him for a moment. 

"Eugene!" she whispered. "Eugene." 

He murmured drowsily, and stirred. The little waitress smiled and 
sat down on the bed. She bent over him and tickled him gently in the 
ribs, chuckling to see him squirm. Then she tickled the soles of his feet. 
He wakened slowly, yawning, rubbing sleep from his eyes. 

"What is it?" he said. 

"It's time to go out there," she said. 

"Out where?" 

"To the Navy Yard. We promised to meet them." 

"Oh, damn the Navy Yard!" he groaned. "I'd rather sleep." 

"So would I!" she agreed. She yawned luxuriously, stretching her 
plump arms above her head. "I'm so sleepy. I could stretch out any- 
where." She looked meaningly at the bed. 

He wakened at once, sensuously alert. He lifted himself upon one 
elbow: a hot torrent of blood swarmed through his cheeks. His pulses 
beat thickly. 

"We're all alone up here," said Louise smiling. "We've got the 
whole floor to ourselves." 

"Why don't you he down and take a nap, if you're still sleepy?" 
he asked. "I'll wake you up," he added, with gentle chivalry. 

"I've got such a little room. It's hot and stuffy. That's why I got 
up," said Louise. "What a nice big room you've got!" 



384 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Yes," he said. "It's a nice big bed, too." They were silent a 
waiting moment. 

"Why don't you lie down here, Louise?" he said, in a low unsteady 
voice. "I'll get up," he added hastily, sitting up. "I'll wake you." 

"Oh, no," she said, "I wouldn't feel right." 

They were again silent. She looked admiringly at his thin young 
arms. 

"My!" she said. "I bet you're strong." 

He flexed his long stringy muscles manfully, and expanded his 
chest. 

"My!" she said. "How old are you, 'Gene?" 

He was just at his fifteenth year. 

"I'm going on sixteen," he said. "How old are you, Louise?" 

"I'm eighteen," she said. "I bet you're a regular heart-breaker, 
'Gene. How many girls have you got?" 

"Oh I don't know. Not many," he said truthfully enough. He 
wanted to talk he wanted to talk madly, seductively, wickedly. He 
would excite her by uttering, in grave respectful tones, honestly, matter- 
of-factly, the most erotic suggestions. 

"I guess you like the tall ones, don't you?" said Louise. "A tall 
fellow wouldn't want a little thing like me, would he? Although," she 
said quickly, "you never know. They say opposites attract each other." 

"I don't like tall girls," said Eugene. "They're too skinny. I like 
them about your size, when they've got a good build." 

"Have I got a good build, 'Gene?" said Louise, holding her arms 
up and smiling. 

"Yes, you have a pretty build, Louise a fine build," said Eugene 
earnestly. "The kind I like." 

"I haven't got a pretty face. I've got an ugly face," she said 
invitingly. 

"You haven't got an ugly face. You have a pretty face," said 
Eugene firmly. "Anyway, the face doesn't matter much with me," he 
added, subtly. 

"What do you like best, 'Gene?" Louise asked. 

He thought carefully and gravely. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 385 

"Why," he said, "a woman ought to have pretty legs. Sometimes 
a woman has an ugly face, but a pretty leg. The prettiest legs I ever 
saw were on a High Yellow." 

"Were they prettier than mine?" said the waitress, with an easy 
laugh. 

She crossed her legs slowly and displayed her silk-shod ankle. 

"I don't know, Louise," he said, staring critically. "1 can't see 
enough." 

"Is that enough?" she said, pulling her tight skirt above her calves. 

"No," said Eugene. 

"Is that?" she pulled her skirt back over her knees, and displayed 
her plumb thighs, gartered with a ruffled band of silk and red rosettes. 
She thrust her small feet out, coyly turning the toes in. 

"Lord!" said Eugene, staring with keen interest at the garter. "I 
never saw any like that before. That's pretty " He gulped noisily. 
"Don't those things hurt, you, Louise?" 

"Uh-uh," she said, as if puzzled, "why?" 

"I should think they'd cut into your skin," he said. "I know mine 
do if I wear them too tight. See." 

He pulled up his trousers' leg and showed his young gartered shank, 
lightly spired with hair. 

Louise looked, and felt the garter gravely with a plump hand. 

"Mine don't hurt me," she said. She snapped the elastic with a 
ripe smack. "See!" 

"Let me see," he said. He placed his trembling fingers lightly upon 
her garter. 

"Yes," he said unsteadily. "I see." 

Her round young weight lay heavy against him, her warm young 
face turned blindly up to his own. His brain reeled as if drunken, he 
dropped his mouth awkwardly upon her parted lips. She sank back 
heavily on the pillows. He planted dry and clumsy kisses upon her 
mouth, her eyes, in little circles round her throat and face. He fumbled 
at the throat-hook of her waist, but his fingers shook so violently that 
he could not unfasten it. She lifted her smooth hands with a comatose 
gesture, and unfastened it for him. 




Then he lifted his beet-red face, and whispered tremulously, not 
knowing well what he said: 

"You're a nice girl, Louise. A pretty girl." 

She thrust her pink fingers slowly through his hair, drew back his 
face into her breasts again, moaned softly as he kissed her, and clutched 
his hair in an aching grip. He put his arms around her and drew her to 
him. They devoured each other with young wet kisses, insatiate, un- 
happy, trying to grow together in their embrace, draw out the last 
distillation of desire in a single kiss. 

He lay sprawled, scattered and witless with passion, unable to collect 
and focus his heat. He heard the wild tongueless cries of desire, the 
inchoate ecstasy that knows no gateway of release. But he knew fear 
not the social fear, but the fear of ignorance, of discovery. He feared 
his potency. He spoke to her thickly, wildly, not hearing himself speak. 

"Do you want me to? Do you want me to, Louise?" 

She drew his face down, murmuring: 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 387 

"You won't hurt me, 'Gene? You wouldn't do anything to hurt 
me, honey? If anything happens " she said drowsily. 

He seized the straw of her suggestion. 

"I won't be the first. I won't be the one to begin you. I've never 
started a girl off," he babbled, aware vaguely that he was voicing an 
approved doctrine of chivalry. "See here, Louise!" he shook her she 
seemed drugged. "You've got to tell me before . I won't do that! I 
may be a bad fellow, but nobody can say I ever did that. Do you hear!" 
His voice rose shrilly; his face worked wildly; he was hardly able to 
speak. 

"I say, do you hear? Am I the first one, or not? You've got to 
answer! Did you ever before?" 

She looked at him lazily. She smiled. 

"No," she said. 

"I may be bad, but I won't do that." He had become inarticulate; 
his voice went off into a speechless jargon. Gasping, stammering, with 
contorted and writhing face, he sought for speech. 

She rose suddenly, and put her warm arms comfortingly around 
him. Soothing and caressing him, she drew him down on her breast. 
She stroked his head, and talked quietly to him. 

"I know you wouldn't, honey. I know you wouldn't. Don't talk. 
Don't say anything. Why, you're all excited, dear. There. Why, you're 
shaking like a leaf. You're high-strung, honey. That's what it is. You're 
a bundle of nerves." 

He wept soundlessly into her arm. 

He became quieter. She smiled, and kissed him softly. 

"Put on your clothes," said Louise. "We ought to get started if 
we're going out there." 

In his confusion he tried to draw on a pair of Mrs. Bowden's cast- 
off pumps. Louise laughed richly, and thrust her fingers through his 
hair. 

At the Navy Yard, they could not find the Bowdens nor Max 
Isaacs. A young sailor took them over a destroyer. Louise went up a 
railed iron ladder with an emphatic rhythm of her shapely thighs. She 



388 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

showed her legs. She stared impudently at a picture of a chorus lady, 
cut from the Police Gazette. The young sailor rolled his eyes aloft with 
an expression of innocent debauchery. Then he winked heavily at 
Eugene. 

The deck of the Oregon. 

"What's that for?" said Louise, pointing to the outline in nails of 
Admiral Dewey's foot. 

"That's where he stood during the fight," said the sailor. 

Louise put her small foot within the print of the greater one. The 
sailor winked at Eugene. You may fire when you are ready, Gndley. 

"She's a nice girl," said Eugene. 

"Yeah," said Max Isaacs. "She's a nice lady." He craned his neck 
awkwardly, and squinted. "About how old is she?" 

"She's eighteen," said Eugene. 

Malvin Bowden stared at him. 

"You're crazy!" said he. "She's twenty-one." 

"No," said Eugene, "she's eighteen. She told me so." 

"I don't care," said Malvin Bowden, "she's no such thing. She's 
twenty-one. I reckon I ought to know. My folks have known her for 
five years. She had a baby when she was eighteen." 

"Aw!" said Max Isaacs. 

"Yes," said Malvin Bowden, "a travelling man got her in trouble. 
Then he ran away." 

"Aw!" said Max Isaacs. "Without marryin' her or anything?" 

"He didn't do nothing for her. He ran away," said Malvm Bowden. 
"Her people are raising the kid now." 

"Great Day!" said Max Isaacs slowly. Then, sternly, he added, 
"A man who'd do a thing like that ought to be shot." 

"You're right!" said Malvin Bowden. 

They loafed along the Battery, along the borders of ruined Camelot. 
"Those are nice old places," said Max Isaacs. "They've been good 
houses in their day." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 389 

He looked greedily at wrought-iron gateways; the old lust of his 
childhood for iron-scraps awoke. 

"Those are old Southern mansions," said Eugene, reverently. 

The bay was still: there was a green stench of warm standing 
water. 

'They've let the place run down," said Malvm. "It's no bigger now 
than it was before the Civil War." 

No, sir, and, by heaven, so long as one true Southern heart is left 
alive to remember Appomattox, Reconstruction, and the Black parlia- 
ments, we will defend with our dearest blood our menaced, but sacred, 
traditions 

"They need some Northern capital," said Max Isaacs sagely. They 
all did. 

An old woman, wearing a tiny bonnet, was led out on a high 
veranda from one of the houses, by an attentive negress. She seated 
herself in a porch rocker and stared blindly into the sun. Eugene looked 
at her sympathetically. She had probably not been informed by her 
loyal children of the unsuccessful termination of the war. United in 
their brave deception, they stinted themselves daily, reining in on their 
proud stomachs in order that she might have all the luxury to which she 
had been accustomed. What did she eat? The wing of a chicken, no 
doubt, and a glass of dry sherry. Meanwhile, all the valuable heirlooms 
had been pawned or sold. Fortunately, she was almost blind, and could 
not see the wastage of their fortune. It was very sad. But did she not 
sometimes think of that old time of the wine and the roses? When 
knighthood was in flower? 

"Look at that old lady," whispered Malvm Bowden. 

"You can tell she's a lady," said Max Isaacs. "I bet she's never 
turned her hand over." 

"An old family," said Eugene gently. "The Southern aristocracy." 

An old negro came by, fringed benevolently by white whiskers. A 
good old man an ante-bellum darkey. Dear Lord, their number was 
few in these unhappy days. 

Eugene thought of the beautiful institution of human slavery, 
which his slaveless maternal ancestry had fought so valiantly to pre- 



390 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

serve. Bress de Lawd, Marse! Ole Mose doan' wan' to be free niggah. 
How he goan' lib widout marse? He doan' wan' stahve wid free 
nigghahs. Har, har, bar! 

Philanthropy. Pure philanthropy. He brushed a tear from his een. 

They were going across the harbor to the Isle of Palms. As the 
boat churned past the round brick cylinder of Fort Sumter, Malvm 
Bowden said: 

"They had the most men. If things had been even, we'd have 
beaten them." 

"They didn't beat us," said Max Isaacs. "We wore ourselves out 
beating them." 

"We were defeated," said Eugene, quietly, "not beaten." 

Max Isaacs stared at him dumbly. 

"Aw!" he said. 

They left the little boat, and ground away toward the beach in a 
street-car. The land had grown dry and yellow in the enervation of the 
summer. The foliage was coated with dust: they rattled past cheap 
summer houses, baked and blistered, stogged drearily in the sand. They 
were small, flimsy, a multitudinous vermin all with their little wooden 
sign of lodging. "The Ishkabibble," "Seaview," "Rest Haven," "At- 
lantic Inn, Eugene looked at them, reading with weariness the bleached 
and jaded humor of their names. 

"There are a lot of boarding-houses in the world," said he. 

A hot wind of beginning autumn rustled dryly through the long 
parched leaves of stunted palms. Before them rose the huge rusted 
spokes of a Ferris Wheel. St. Louis. They had reached the beach. 

Malvin Bowden leaped joyously from the car. 

"Last one in's a rotten egg!" he cried, and streaked for the bath- 
house. 

"Kings! I've got kings, son," yelled Max Isaacs. He held up his 
crossed fingers. The beach was bare: two or three concessions stood 
idly open for business. The sky curved over them, a cloudless blue 
burnished bowl. The sea offshore was glazed emerald: the waves rode 
heavily in, thickening murkily as they turned with sunlight and sediment 
to a beachy yellow. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 391 

They walked slowly down the beach toward the bathhouse. The 
tranquil, incessant thunder of the sea made in them a lonely music. 
Seawards, their eyes probed through the seething glare. 

"I'm going to join the navy, 'Gene," said Max Isaacs. "Come on 
and go with me." 

"I'm not old enough," said Eugene. "You're not, either." 

"I'll be sixteen in November," said Max Isaacs defensively. 

"That's not old enough." 

"I'm going to he to get in," said Max Isaacs. "They won't bother 
you. You can get in. Come on." 

"No," said Eugene. "I can't." 

"Why not?" said Max Isaacs. "What are you going to do?" 

"I'm going to college," said Eugene. "I'm going to get an education 
and study law." 

"You'll have lots of time," said Max Isaacs. "You can go to col- 
lege when you come out. They teach you a lot in the navy. They give 
you a good training. You go everywhere." 

"No," said Eugene. "I can't." 

But his pulse throbbed as he listened to the lonely thunder of the 
sea. He saw strange dusky faces, palm frondage, and heard the little 
tinkling sounds of Asia. He believed m harbors at the end. 

Mrs. Bowden's niece and the waitress came out on the next car. 
After his immersion he lay, trembling slightly under the gusty wind, 
upon the beach. A fine tang of salt was on his lips. He licked his clean 
young flesh. 

Louise came from the bathhouse and walked slowly toward him. 
She came proudly, her warm curves moulded into her bathing-suit: her 
legs were covered with stockings of green silk. 

Far out, beyond the ropes, Max Isaacs lifted his white heavy arms, 
and slid swiftly through a surging wall of green water. His body glim- 
mered greenly for a moment; he stood erect wiping his eyes and shaking 
water from his ears. 

Eugene took the waitress by the hand and led her into the water. 
She advanced slowly, with little twittering cries. An undulant surge 
rolled in deceptively, and rose suddenly to her chin, drinking her breath. 



392 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

She gasped and clung to him. Initiated, they bucked deliriously through 
a roaring wall of water, and, while her eyes were still closed, he caught 
her to him with young salty kisses. 

Presently they came out, and walked over the wet strip of beach 
into the warm loose sand, bedding their dripping bodies gratefully in 
its warmth. The waitress shivered: he moulded sand over her legs and 
hips, until she was half buried. He kissed her, stilling his trembling lips 
upon her mouth. 

"I like you! I like you a lot!" he said. 

"What did they tell you about me?" she said. "Did they talk 
about me?" 

"I don't care," he said. "I don't care about that. I like you." 

"You won't remember me, honey, when you start going with the 
girls. You'll forget about me. Some day you'll see me, and you won't 
even know me. You won't recognize me. You'll pass without speaking." 

"No," he said. "I'll never forget you, Louise. So long as I live." 

Their hearts were filled with the lonely thunder of the sea. She 
kissed him. They were hill-born. 

He returned in late September. 

In October, Gant, with Ben and Helen, departed for Baltimore. 
The operation, too long deferred, was now inevitable. His disease had 
grown steadily worse. He had gone through a period of incessant pain. 
He was enfeebled. He was frightened. 

Rising at night, he would rouse the sleeping house with his cries, 
commanding terror with his old magnificence. 

"I see it! I see it! The knife! The knife! ... Do you see its 
shadow? . . . There! There! There!" 

With Boothian gusto he recoiled, pointing to invulnerable nothings. 

"Do you see him standing there in the shadows? So you've come 
at last to take the old man with you? . . . There he stands the Grim 
Reaper as I always knew he would. Jesus, have mercy on my soul!" 

Gant lay in a long cot in the Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins. 
Every day a cheerful little man came briskly in and looked at his chart. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 393 

He talked happily and went away. He was one of the greatest surgeons 
in the country. 

"Don't worry," said the nurse encouragingly, "the mortality's only 
four per cent. It used to be thirty. He's reduced it." 

Gant groaned, and slipped his big hand into his daughter's vital 
grasp. 

"Don't worry, old boy!" she said, "you're going to be as good as 
you ever were, after this." 

She fed him with her life, her hope, her love. He was almost 
tranquil when they wheeled him in to his operation. 

But the little gray-haired man looked, shook his head regretfully, 
and trimmed deftly. 

"All right!" he said, four minutes later, to his assistant. "Close the 
wound." 

Gant was dying of cancer. 

Gant sat in a wheeled chair upon the high fifth-floor veranda, look- 
ing out through bright October air at the city spread far into the haze 
before him. He looked very clean, almost fragile. A faint grin of 
happiness and relief hovered about his thin mouth. He smoked a long 
cigar, with fresh-awakened senses. 

"There," he said pointing, "is where I spent part of my boyhood. 
Old Jeff Streeter's hotel stood about there," he pointed. 

"Dig down!" said Helen, grinning. 

Gant thought of the years between, and the vexed pattern of fate. 
His life seemed strange to him. 

"We'll go to see all those places when you get out of here. They're 
going to let you out of here, day after to-morrow. Did you know that? 
Did you know you're almost well?" she cried with a big smile. 

"I'm going to be a well man after this," said Gant. "I feel twenty 
years younger!" 

"Poor old papa!" she said. "Poor old papa!" 

Her eyes were wet. She put her big hands on his face, and drew 
his head against her. 




27 

JVly Shakespeare, rise! He rose. The bard rose throughout the 
length and breadth of his brave new world. He was not for an age, but 
for all time. Then, too, his tercentenary happened only once at the 
end of three hundred years. It was observed piously from Maryland to 
Oregon. Eighty-one members of the House of Representatives, when 
asked by literate journalists for their favorite lines, replied instantly 
with a quotation from Polonius: "This above all: to thine own self be 
true." The Swan was played, and pageanted, and essayed in every 
schoolhouse in the land. 

Eugene tore the Chandos portrait from the pages of the Independent 
and nailed it to the calcimined wall of the back-room. Then, still full of 
the great echoing paean of Ben Jonson's, he scrawled below it in large 
trembling letters: "My Shakespeare, rise!" The large plump face "as 
damned silly a head as ever I looked at" stared baldly at him with 
goggle eyes, the goatee pointed ripe with hayseed vanity. But, lit by the 
presence, Eugene plunged back into the essay littered across his table. 

He was discovered. In an unwise absence, he left the Bard upon 
the wall. When he returned, Ben and Helen had read his scrawl. There- 

394 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 395 

after, he was called poetically to table, to the telephone, to go an errand. 

"My Shakespeare, rise!" 

With red resentful face, he rose. 

"Will My Shakespeare pass the biscuit?" or, "Could I trouble My 
Shakespeare for the butter?" said Ben, scowling at him. 

"My Shakespeare! My Shakespeare! Do you want another piece 
of pie?" said Helen. Then, full of penitent laughter, she added: "That's 
a shame! We oughtn't to treat the poor kid like that." Laughing, she 
plucked at her large straight chin, gazing out the window, and laughing 
absently penitently, laughing. 

But "his art was universal. He saw life clearly and he saw it 
whole. He was an intellectual ocean whose waves touched every shore 
of thought. He was all things in one: lawyer, merchant, soldier, doctor, 
statesman. Men of science have been amazed by the depth of his 
learning. In The Merchant of Venice, he deals with the most technical 
questions of law with the skill of an attorney. In King Lear, he boldly 
prescribes sleep as a remedy for Lear's insanity. 'Sleep that knits up 
the ravelPd sleave of care.' Thus, he has foreseen the latest researches 
of modern science by almost three centuries. In his sympathetic and 
well-rounded sense of characterization, he laughs with, not at, his 
characters." 

Eugene won the medal bronze or of some other material even 
more enduring. The Bard's profile murkily indented. W. S. 1616-1916. 
A long and useful life. 

The machinery of the pageant was beautiful and simple. Its author 
Dr. George B. Rockham, at one time, it was whispered, a trouper with 
the Ben Greet players had seen to that. All the words had been written 
by Dr. George B. Rockham, and all the words, accordingly, had been 
written for Dr. George B. Rockham. Dr. George B. Rockham was the 
Voice of History. The innocent children of Altamont's schools were 
the mute illustrations of that voice. 

Eugene was Prince Hal. The day before the pageant his costume 
arrived from Philadelphia. At John Dorsey Leonard's direction he put 
it on. Then he came out sheepishly before John Dorsey on the school 



396 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

veranda, fingering his tin sword and looking somewhat doubtfully at 
his pink silk hose which came three quarters up his skinny shanks, and 
left exposed, below his doublet, a six-inch hiatus of raw thigh. 

John Dorsey Leonard looked gravely. 

"Here, boy," he said. "Let me see!" 

He pulled strongly at the top of the deficient hose, with no result 
save to open up large runs in them. Then John Dorsey Leonard began 
to laugh. He slid helplessly down upon the porch rail, and bent over, 
palsied with silent laughter, from which a high whine, full of spittle, 
presently emerged. 

"Ooh my Lord!" he gasped. "Egscuse me!" he panted, seeing the 
boy's angry face. "It's the funniest thing I ever " at this moment his 
voice died of paralysis. 

"I'll fix you," said Miss Amy. "I've got just the thing for you." 

She gave him a full baggy clown's suit, of green linen. It was a 
relic of a Hallowe'en party; its wide folds were gartered about his 
ankles. 

He turned a distressed, puzzled face toward Miss Amy. 

"That's not right, is it?" he asked. "He never wore anything like 
that, did he?" 

Miss Amy looked. Her deep bosom heaved with full contralto 
laughter. 

"Yes, that's right! That's fine!" she yelled. "He was like that, any- 
way. No one will ever notice, boy." She collapsed heavily into a wicker 
chair which widened with a protesting creak. 

"Oh, Lord!" she groaned, wet-cheeked. "I don't believe I ever 
saw " 

The pageant was performed on the embowered lawns of the Manor 
House. Dr. George B. Rockham stood in a green hollow a natural 
amphitheatre. His audience sat on the turf of the encircling banks. As 
the phantom cavalcades of poetry and the drama wound down to him. 
Dr. George B. Rockham disposed of each character neatly in descrip- 
tive pentameter verse. He was dressed in the fashion of the Restora- 
tion a period he coveted because it understood the charms of muscular 




calves. His heavy legs bulged knottily below a coy fringe of drawer- 
ruffles. 

Eugene stood waiting on the road above, behind an obscuring wall 
of trees. It was rich young May. "Doc" Hines (Falstaff) waited beside 
him. His small tough face grinned apishly over garments stuffed with 
yards of wadding. Grinning, he smote himself upon his swollen paunch : 
the blow left a dropsical depression. 

He turned, with a comical squint, on Eugene: 

"Hal," said he, "you're a hell of a looking prince." 

"You're no beauty, Jack," said Eugene. 

Behind him, Julius Arthur (Macbeth), drew his sword with a 
flourish. 

"I challenge you, Hal," said he. 



398 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

In the young shimmering light their tin swords clashed rapidly. 
Twittered with young bird-laughter, on bank and saddle sprawled, all 
of the Bard's personce. Julius Arthur thrust swiftly, was warded, then, 
with loose grin, buried his brand suddenly in "Doc" Mines' receiving 
paunch. The company of the immortal shrieked happily. 

Miss Ida Nelson, the assistant director, rushed angrily among them. 

"Sh!" she hissed loudly. "Sh-h!" She was very angry. She had 
spent the afternoon hissing loudly. 

Swinging gently in her side-saddle, Rosalind, on horseback, a ripe 
little beauty from the convent, smiled warmly at him. Looking, he 
forgot. 

Below them, on the road, the crowded press loosened slowly, broke 
off in minute fragments, and disappeared into the hidden gulch of 
Dr. George Rockham's receiving voice. With fat hammy sonority he 
welcomed them. 

But he had not come to Shakespeare. The pageant had opened 
with the Voices of Past and Present voices a trifle out of harmony 
with the tenor of event but necessary to the commercial success of the 
enterprise. These voices now moved voicelessly past four frightened 
sales-ladies from Schwartzberg's, clad decently in cheese-cloth and 
sandals, who came by bearing the banner of their concern. Or, as the 
doctor's more eloquent iambics had it: 

"Fair Commerce, sister of the arts, thou, too, 
Shalt take thy lawful place upon our stage." 

They came and passed: Ginsberg's "the glass of fashion and the 
mould of form"; Bradley the Grocer "when first Pomona held her 
fruity horn"; The Buick Agency "the chariots of Oxus and of Ind." 

Came, passed like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream. 

Behind them, serried ranks of cherubim, the marshalled legions of 
Altamonf s Sunday schools, each in white arrayed and clutching grimly 
in tiny hands two thousand tiny flags of freedom, God's small angels, 
and surely there for God knows what far-off event, began to move into 
the hollow. Their teachers nursed them gently into action, with tapping 
feet and palms. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 399 

"One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Quickly, children!" 

A hidden orchestra, musical in the trees, greeted them, as they 
approached, with holy strains: the Baptists, with the simple doctrine of 
"It's the Old-time Religion"; the Methodists, with "I'll Be Waiting at 
the River"; the Presbyterians, with "Rock of Ages"; the Episcopalians, 
with "Jesus, Lover of My Soul"; and rising to lyrical climactic passion, 
the little Jews, with the nobly marching music of "Onward, Christian 
Soldiers." 

They passed without laughter. There was a pause. 

"Well, thank God for that!" said Ralph Rolls coarsely in a solemn 
quiet. The Bard's strewn host laughed, rustled noisily into line. 

"Sh-h! Sh-h!" hissed Miss Ida Nelson. 

"What the hell does she think she us?" said Julius Arthur, "a steam 
valve?" 

Eugene looked attentively at the shapely legs of the page, Viola. 

"Wow!" said Ralph Rolls, with his accustomed audibility. "Look 
who's here!" 

She looked on them all with a pert impartial smile. But she never 
told her love. 

Miss Ida Nelson caught the doctor's stealthy sign. Carefully, in 
slow twos, she fed them down to him. 

The Moor of Venice (Mr. George Graves), turned his broad back 
upon their jibes, and lurched down with sullen-sheepish grin, unable to 
conceal the massive embarrassment of his calves. 

"Tell him who you are, Villa," said Doc Mines. "You look like 
Jack Johnson." 

The town, in its first white shirting of Spring, sat on the turfy banks, 
and looked down gravely upon the bosky little comedy of errors; the 
encircling mountains, and the gods thereon, looked down upon the 
slightly larger theatre of the town; and, figuratively, from mountains 
that looked down on mountains, the last stronghold of philosophy, the 
author of this chronicle looked down on everything. 

"Here we go, Hal," said Doc Hines, nudging Eugene. 

"Give 'em hell, son," said Julius Arthur. "You're dressed for the 
part." 



400 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"He looks it, you mean," said Ralph Rolls. "Boy, you'll knock 
'em dead," he added with an indecent laugh. 

They descended into the hollow, accompanied by a low but grow- 
ing titter of amazement from the audience. Before them, the doctor 
had just disposed of Desdemona, who parted with a graceful obeisance. 
He was now engaged on Othello, who stood, bullish and shy, till his 
ordeal should finish. In a moment, he strode away, and the doctor 
turned to Falstaff, reading the man by his padded belly, briskly, with 
relief: 

"Now, Tragedy, begone, and to our dell 
Bring antic Jollity with cap and bells: 
Falstaff, thou prince of jesters, lewd old man 
Who surfeited a royal prince with mirth, 
And swayed a kingdom with his wanton quips " 



Embarrassed by the growing undertone of laughter, Doc Hines 
squinted around with a tough grin, gave a comical hitch to his padded 
figure, and whispered a hoarse aside to Eugene: "Hear that, Hal? I'm 
hell on wheels, ain't I?" 

Eugene saw him depart in a green blur, and presently became aware 
that an unnatural silence had descended upon Doctor George B. 
Rockham. The Voice of History was, for the moment, mute. Its long 
jaw, in fact, had fallen ajar. 

Dr. George B. Rockham looked wildly about him for succor. He 
rolled his eyes entreatingly upwards at Miss Ida Nelson. She turned 
her head away. 

"Who are you?" he said hoarsely, holding a hairy hand carefully 
beside his mouth. 

"Prince Hal," said Eugene, likewise hoarsely and behind his hand. 

Dr. George B. Rockham staggered a little. Their speech had 
reached the stalls. But firmly, before the tethered chafing laughter, he 
began: 

"Friend to the weak and comrade of the wild, 
By folly sired to wisdom, dauntless Hal " 

Laughter, laughter unleashed and turbulent, laughter that rose flood 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 401 

by flood upon itself, laughter wild, earth-shaking, thunder-cuffing, 
drowned Dr. George B. Rockham and all he had to say. Laughter! 
Laughter! Laughter! 

Helen was married in the month of June a month sacred, it is 
said, to Hymen, but used so often for nuptials that the god's blessing is 
probably not infallible. 

She had returned to Altamont in May, from her last singing engage- 
ment. She had been in Atlanta for the week of opera, and had come 
back by way of Henderson, where she had visited Daisy and Mrs. 
Selborne. There she had found her mate. 

He was not a stranger to her. She had known him years before in 
Altamont, where he had lived for a short time as district agent for the 
great and humane corporation that employed him the Federal Cash 
Register Company. Since that time he had gone to various parts of the 
country at his master's bidding, carrying with him his great message of 
prosperity and thrift. At the present time, he lived with his sister and 
his aged mother, whose ponderous infirmity of limb had not impaired 
her appetite, in a South Carolina town. He was devoted and generous 
to them both. And the Federal Cash Register Company, touched by 
his devotion to duty, rewarded him with a good salary. His name was 
Barton. The Bartons lived well. 

Helen returned with the unexpectedness in which all returning 
Cants delighted. She came in on members of her family, one afternoon, 
in the kitchen at Dixieland. 

"Hello, everybody!" she said. 

"Well, for G-g-god's sake," said Luke after a moment. "Look 
who's here!" 

They embraced heartily. 

"Why, what on earth!" cried Eliza, putting her iron down on the 
board, and wavering on her feet, in an effort to walk in two directions 
at once. They kissed. 

"I was just thinking to myself," said Eliza, more calmly, "that it 
wouldn't surprise me a bit if you should come walking in. I had a 
premonition, I don't know what else you'd call it " 



402 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Oh, my God!" groaned the girl, good-humoredly, but with a shade 
of annoyance. "Don't start that Pentland spooky stuff! It makes my 
flesh crawl." 

She exchanged a glance of burlesque entreaty with Luke. Winking, 
he turned suddenly, and with an idiotic laugh, tickled Eliza sharply. 

"Get away!" she shrieked. 

He chortled madly. 

"I'll declare, boy!" she said fretfully. "I believe you're crazy. I'll 
vow I do!" 

Helen laughed huskily. 

"Well," said Eliza, "how'd you leave Daisy and the children?" 

"They're all right, I suppose," said Helen wearily. "Oh, my God! 
Deliver me!" she laughed. "You never saw such pests! I spent fifty 
dollars on them in toys and presents alone! You'd never think it from 
the thanks I get. Daisy takes it all as her due! Selfish! Selfish! Selfish!" 

"For G-g-god's sake!" said Luke loyally. 

She was one fine, girl. 

"I paid for everything I got at Daisy's, I can assure you!" she said, 
sharply, challengingly. "1 spent no more time there than I had to. I 
was at Mrs. Selborne's nearly all the time. I had practically all my meals 
there." 

Her need for independence had become greater; her hunger for 
dependents acute. Her denial of obligation to others was militant. She 
gave more than she received. 

"Well, I'm in for it," she said presently, trying to mask her strong 
eagerness. 

"In for what?" asked Luke. 

"I've gone and done it at last," she said. 

"Mercy!" shrieked Eliza. "You're not married, are you?" 

"Not yet," said Helen, "but I will be soon." 

Then she told them about Mr. Hugh T. Barton, the cash register 
salesman. She spoke loyally and kindly of him, without great love. 

"He's ten years older than I am," she said. 

"Well," said Eliza thoughtfully, moulding her lips. "They some- 
times make the best husbands." After a moment, she asked: "Has he 
got any property?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 403 

"No," said Helen, "they live up all he makes. They live in style, 
I tell you. There are two servants in that house all the time. The old 
lady doesn't turn her hand over." 

"Where are you going to live?" said Eliza sharply. "With his 
folks?" 

"Well, I should say not! I should say not!" said Helen slowly and 
emphatically. "Good heavens, mama!" she continued irritably. "I want 
a home of my own. Can't you realize that? I've been doing for others 
all my life. Now I'm going to let them do for me. I want no in-laws 
about. No, sir!" she said emphatically. 

Luke bit his nails nervously. 

"Well, he's g-g-getting a great g-g-girl," he said. "I hope he has 
sense enough to realize that." 

Moved, she laughed bigly, ironically. 

"I've got one booster, haven't I?" she said. She looked at him 
seriously with clear affectionate eyes. "Well, thanks, Luke. You're one 
of the lot that's always had the interests of the family at heart." 

Her big face was for a moment tranquil and eager. A great calm 
lay there: the radiant decent beauty of dawn and rainwater. Her eyes 
were as luminous and believing as a child's. No evil dwelt in her. She 
had learned nothing. 

"Have you told your papa?" said Eliza, presently. 

"No," she said, after a pause, "I haven't." 

They thought of Gant in silence, with wonder. Her going was a 
marvel. 

"I have a right to my own life," said Helen angrily, as if some one 
disputed that right, "as much as any one. Good heavens, mama! You 
and papa have lived your lives don't you know that? Do you think 
it's right that I should go on forever looking after him? Do you?" Her 
voice rose under the stress of hysteria. 

"Why, no-o. I never said " Eliza began, flustered and conciliatory. 

"You've spent your life f-f-finking of others and not of yourself," 
said Luke. "That's the trouble. They don't appreciate it." 

"Well, I'm not going to any longer. That's one thing sure! No, 
indeed! I want a home and some children. I'm going to have them!" 
she said defiantly. In a moment, she added tenderly: 



404 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Poor old papa! I wonder what he's going to say?" 
He said very little. The Gants, after initial surprise, moulded new 
event very quickly into the texture of their lives. Abysmal change 
widened their souls out in a brooding unconsciousness. 



Mr. Hugh Barton came up into the hills to visit his affianced kin. 
He came, to their huge delight, lounging in the long racing chassis of a 
dusty brown 1911 Buick roadster. He came, in a gaseous coil, to the 
the roaring explosion of great engines. He descended, a tall, elegant 
figure, dyspeptic, lean almost to emaciation, very foppishly laundered 
and tailored. He looked the car over slowly, critically, a long cigar 
clamped in the corner of his saturnine mouth, drawing his gauntlets off 
deliberately. Then, in the same unhurried fashion, he removed from his 
head the ten-gallon gray sombrero the only astonishing feature of his 
otherwise undebatable costume and shook each long thin leg delicately 
for a moment to straighten out the wrinkles. But there were none. 
Then, deliberately, he came up the walk to Dixieland, where the Gants 
were assembled. As he came, unhurried, he took the cigar from his 
mouth calmly and held it in the fingers of his lean, hairy, violently 
palsied hand. His thin black hair, fine spun, was fanned lightly from 
its elegance by a wantoning breeze. He espied his betrothed and grinned, 
with dignity, sardonically, with big nuggets of gold teeth. They greeted 
and kissed. 

"This is my mother, Hugh," said Helen. 

Hugh Barton bent slowly, courteously, from his thin waist. He 
fastened on Eliza a keen penetrating stare that discomposed her. His 
lips twisted again in an impressive sardonic smile. Every one felt he 
was going to say something very, very important. 

"How do you do?" he asked, and took her hand. 

Every one then felt that Hugh Barton had said something very, 
very important. 

With equal slow gravity he greeted each one. They were somewhat 
awed by his lordliness. Luke, however, burst out uncontrollably: 

"You're g-g-getting a fine girl, Mr. B-b-barton." 




Hugh Barton turned on him slowly and fixed him with his keen 
stare. 

"I think so," he said gravely. His voice was deep, deliberate, with 
an impressive rasp. He was selling himself. 

In an awkward silence he turned, grinning amiably, on Eugene. 

"Have a cigar?" he asked, taking three long powerful weeds from 
his upper vest pocket, and holding them out in his clean twitching 
fingers. 

"Thanks," said Eugene with a dissipated leer, "I'll smoke a Camel." 



406 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He took a package of cigarettes from his pocket. Gravely, Hugh 
Barton held a match for him. 

"Why do you wear the big hat?" asked Eugene. 

"Psychology," he said. "It makes 'em talk." 

"I tell you what!" said Eliza, beginning to laugh. "That's pretty 
smart, isn't it?" 

"Sure!" said Luke. "That's advertising! It pays to advertise!" 

"Yes," said Mr. Barton slowly, "you've got to get the other 
fellow's psychology." 

The phrase seemed to describe an action of modified assault and 
restrained pillage. 

They liked him very much. They all went into the house. 



Hugh Barton's mother was in her seventy-fourth year, but she had 
the strength of a healthy woman of fifty, and the appetite of two of forty. 
She was a powerful old lady, six feet tall, with the big bones of a man, 
and a heavy full-jawed face, sensuous and complacent, and excellently 
equipped with a champing mill of strong yellow horse-teeth. It was 
cake and pudding to see her at work on corn on the cob. A slight 
paralysis had slowed her tongue and thickened her speech a little, so 
that she spoke deliberately, with a ponderous enunciation of each word. 
This deformity, which she carefully hid, added to, rather than sub- 
tracted from, the pontifical weight of her opinions: she was an earnest 
Republican in memory of her departed mate and she took a violent 
dislike to any one who opposed her political judgment. When thwarted 
or annoyed in any way, the heavy benevolence of her face was dislodged 
by a thunder-cloud of petulance, and her wide pouting underlip rolled 
out like a window-shade. But, as she barged slowly along, one big hand 
gripping a heavy stick on which she leaned her massive weight, she was 
an impressive dowager. 

"She's a lady a real lady," said Helen proudly. "Any one can 
see that! She goes out with all the best people." 

Hugh Barton's sister, Mrs. Genevieve Watson, was a sallow 
woman of thirty-eight years, tall, wren-like and emaciated, like her 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 407 

brother; dyspeptic, and very elegantly kept. The divorced Watson was 
conspicuous for his absence from all conversations: there was once or 
twice a heavy flutter around his name, a funereal hush, and a muttered 
suggestion of oriental debauchery. 

"He was a beast," said Hugh Barton, "a low dog. He treated sister 
very badly." 

Mrs. Barton wagged her great head with the slow but emphatic 
approval she accorded all her son's opinions. 

"O-o-h!" she said. "He was a ter-nb-bul man." 

He had, they inferred, been given to hellish practices. He had 
"gone after other women." 

Sister Veve had a narrow discontented face, a metallic vivacity, 
an effusive cordiality. She was always very smartly dressed. She had 
somewhat vague connections in the real estate business; she spoke 
grandly of obscure affairs; she was always on the verge of an indefinite 
"Big Deal." 

"I'm getting them lined up, brother," she would say with cheerful 
confidence. "Things are coming my way. J. D. came in to-day and 
said: 'Veve you're the only woman in the world that can put this 
thing across. Go to it, little girl. There's a fortune in it for you.' " 
And so on. 

Her conversation, Eugene thought, was not unlike Brother Steve's. 

But their affection and loyalty for one another was beautiful. Its 
unaccustomed faith, its abiding tranquillity, puzzled and disturbed the 
Gants. They were touched indefinably, a little annoyed, because of it. 

The Bartons came to Woodson Street two weeks before the wed- 
ding. Within three days after their arrival, Helen and old lady Barton 
were at odds. It was inevitable. The heat of the girl's first affection for 
Barton's family wore off very quickly: her possessive instinct asserted 
itself she would halve no one's love, she would share with no other a 
place in the heart. She would own, she would possess completely. She 
would be generous, but she would be mistress. She would give. It was 
the law of her nature. 

She began immediately, by force of this essential stress, to make 
out a case against the old woman. 



408 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Mrs. Barton, too, felt the extent of her loss. She wanted to be sure 
that Helen realized the extent of her acquisition of one of the latter-day 
saints. 

Rocking ponderously in the dark on Gant's veranda, the old 
woman would say: 

"You are get-ting a good boy, Hel-en." She would wag her power- 
ful head from side to side, pugnaciously emphatic. "Though I do say 
it myself, you are get-ting one good boy, Hel-en. A bet-ter boy than 
Hugh does-ent live." 

"Oh, I don't know!" said Helen, annoyed. "I don't think it's such 
a bad bargain for him either, you know. I think pretty well of myself, 
too." And she would laugh, huskily, heartily, trying in laughter to 
conceal her resentment, but visibly, to every eye but Mrs Barton's, 
angered. 

A moment later, on some pretext, she would be back into the 
house, where, with a face contorted by her rising hysteria, to Luke, 
Eugene, or any sympathetic audience, she would burst out: 

"You heard that, didn't you? You heard that? You see what I've 
got to put up with, don't you? Do you see? Do you blame me for not 
wanting that damned old woman around? Do you? You see how she 
wants to run things, don't you? Do you see how she rubs it into me 
whenever she gets a chance? She can't bear to give him up. Of course 
not! He's her meal-ticket. They've bled him white. Why, even now, if 
it came to a question of choosing between us " her face worked 
strongly. She could not continue. In a moment she quieted herself, and 
said decisively: "I suppose you know now why we're going to live away 
from them. You see, don't you? Do you blame me?" 

"No'm," said Eugene, obedient after pumping. 

"It's a d-d-damn shame!" said Luke loyally. 

At this moment Mrs. Barton, kindly but authoritative, called from 
the veranda : 

"Hel-en! Where are you, Hel-en?" 

"O gotohell. Gotohell!" said Helen, in a comic undertone. 

"Yes? What is it?" she called out sharply. 

You see, don't you? 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 409 

She was married at Dixieland, because she was having a big 
wedding. She knew a great many people. 

As her wedding-day approached, her suppressed hysteria mounted. 
Her sense of decorum grew militant: she attacked Eliza bitterly for 
keeping certain dubious people in the house. 

"Mama, in heaven's name! What do you mean by allowing such 
goings-on right in the face of Hugh and his people? What do you 
suppose they think of it? Have you no respect for my feelings? Good 
heavens, are you going to have the house full of chippies on the night 
of my wedding?" Her voice was high and cracked. She almost wept. 

44 Why, child!" said Eliza, with troubled face. 44 What do you mean? 
I've never noticed anything." 

44 Are you blind! Every one's talking about it! They're practically 
living together!" This last was a reference to a condition existing be- 
tween a dissipated and alcoholic young man and a darkly handsome 
young woman, slightly tubercular. 

To Eugene was assigned the task of digging this couple out of their 
burrow. He waited sternly outside the girl's room, watching the shadow 
dance at the door crack. At the end of the sixth hour, the besieged 
surrendered the man came out. The boy pallid, but proud of his 
trust told the house-defiler that he must go. The young man agreed 
with cheerful alcoholism He went at once. 

Mrs. Pert was saved in the house-cleaning. 

44 After all," said Helen, 44 what do we know about her? They can 
say what they like about Fatty. 1 like her." 

Ferns, flowers, potted plants, presents and guests arriving. The 
long nasal drone of the Presbyterian minister. The packed crowd. The 
triumphant booming of 44 The Wedding March." 

A flashlight: Hugh Barton and his bride limply astare frightened; 
Cant, Ben, Luke, and Eugene, widely, sheepishly agnn; Eliza, high- 
sorrowful and sad; Mrs. Selborne and a smile of subtle mystery; the 
pert flower-girls; Pearl Hines' happy laughter. 

When it was over, Eliza and her daughter hung in each other's 
arms, weeping. 



410 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

Eliza repeated over and over, from guest to guest: 

"A son is a son till he gets him a wife, 

But a daughter's a daughter all the days of her life." 

She was comforted. 

They escaped at length, wilted, from the thronging press of well- 
wishing guests. White-faced, scared witless, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Barton 
got into a closed car. It was done! They would spend the night at the 
Battery Hill. Ben had engaged the wedding-suite. To-morrow, a honey- 
moon to Niagara. 

Before they went, the girl kissed Eugene with something of the old 
affection. 

"I'll see you in the Fall, honey. Come over as soon as you're 
settled." 

For Hugh Barton was beginning life with his bride in a new place. 
He was going to the capital of the State. And it had already been 
determined, chiefly by Gant, that Eugene was going to the State 
University. 

But Hugh and Helen did not go honeymooning the next morning, 
as they had planned. During the night, as she lay at Dixieland, old 
Mrs. Barton was taken with a violent, a retching sickness. For once, 
her massive digestive mechanism failed to meet the heavy demands she 
had put upon it during the pre-nuptial banqueting. She came near death. 

Hugh and Helen returned abruptly next morning to a scene of 
dismal tinsellings and jaded lilies. Helen hurled her vitality into the 
sick woman's care; dominant, furious, all-mastering, she blew back her 
life into her. Within three days, Mrs. Barton was out of danger; but 
her complete recovery was slow, ugly, and painful. As the days length- 
ened out wearily, the girl became more and more bitter over her 
thwarted honeymoon. Rushing out of the sick-room, she would enter 
Eliza's kitchen with writhen face, unable to control her anger: 

"That damned old woman! Sometimes I believe she did it on pur- 
pose. My God, am I to get no happiness from life? Will they never 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 411 

leave me alone? Urr-p! Urr-p!" Her rough bacchic smile played 
loosely over her large unhappy face. "Mama, in God's name where 
does it all come from?" she said, grinning tearfully. "I do nothing but 
mop up after her. Will you please tell me how long it's going to last?" 

Eliza laughed slyly, passing her finger under her broad nosewing. 

"Why, child!" she said. "What in the world! I've never seen the 
like! She must have saved up for the last six months." 

"Yes, sir!" said Helen, looking vaguely away, with a profane smile 
playing across her mouth, "I'd just like to know where the hell it all 
comes from. I've had everything else," she said, with a rough angry 
laugh, "I'm expecting one of her kidneys at any minute." 

"Whew-w!" cried Eliza, shaken with laughter. 

"Hel-en! Oh Hel-en!" Mrs. Barton's voice came feebly in to them. 

"O gotohell!" said the girl, sotto-voce. "Urr-p! Urr-p!" She burst 
suddenly into tears: "Is it going to be like this always! I sometimes 
believe the judgment of God is against us all. Papa was right." 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza, wetting her fingers, and threading a needle 
before the light. "I'd go on and pay no more attention to her. There's 
nothing wrong with her. It's all imagination!" It was Eliza's rooted 
conviction that most human ills, except her own, were "all imagination." 

"Hel-en!" 

"All right! I'm coming!" the girl cried cheerfully, turning an angry 
grin on Eliza as she went. It was funny. It was ugly. It was terrible. 

It seemed, in fact, that papa was right, and that the chief celestial 
Cloud-Pusher, the often hymned, whom our bitter moderns have some- 
times called "the ancient Jester" had turned his frown upon their 
fortunes. 

It began to rain rain incessant, spouting, torrential rain, fell 
among the reeking hills, leaving grass and foliage drowned upon the 
slopes, starting the liquid avalanche of earth upon a settlement, glutting 
lean rocky mountain-streams to a foaming welter of yellow flood. It 
mined the yellow banks away with unheard droppings; it caved in hill- 
sides; it drank the steep banked earth away below the rails, leaving 
them strung to their aerial ties across a gutted canyon. 



412 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

There was a flood in Altamont. It swept down in a converging 
width from the hills, filling the little river, and foaming beyond its banks 
in a wide waste Mississippi. It looted the bottomlands of the river; it 
floated iron and wooden bridges from their piers as it might float a leaf; 
it brought ruin to the railway flats and all who dwelt therein. 

The town was cut off from every communication with the world. 
At the end of the third week, as the waters slid back into their channels, 
Hugh Barton and his bride, crouched grimly in the great pit of the 
Buick, rode out through flooded roads, crawled desperately over ruined 
trestles, daring the irresistible wrath of water to achieve their wilted 
anti-climactic honeymoon. 

"He will go where I send him or not at all," Gant spoke his final 
word, not loudly. 

Thus, it was decided that Eugene must go to the State University. 

Eugene did not want to go to the State University. 

For two years he had romanced with Margaret Leonard about his 
future education. It was proposed that, m view of his youth, he should 
attend Vanderbilt (or Virginia) for two years, go to Harvard for two 
years more, and then, having arrived by easy stages at Paradise, "top 
things off" with a year or two at Oxford. 

"Then," said John Dorsey Leonard, who talked enchantingly on 
the subject, between mouthfuls of clabber, "then, my sonny, a man may 
begin to say he's really 'cultsherd.' After that, of course," he continued 
with a spacious carelessness, "he may travel for a year or so." 

But the Leonards were not yet ready to part with him. 

"You're too young, boy," said Margaret Leonard. "Can't you per- 
suade your father to wait another year? You're only a child in years, 
Eugene. You have all the time in the world." Her eyes darkened as she 
talked. 

Gant would not be persuaded. 

"He's old enough," he said. "When I was his age I had been 
earning my living for years. I'm getting old. I won't be here much 
longer. I want him to begin to make a name for himself before I die." 

He refused stubbornly to consider any postponement. In his young- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



413 



est son he saw the last hope of his name's survival in laurels in the 
political laurels he so valued. He wanted his son to be a great and far- 
seeing statesman and a member of the Republican or Democratic party. 
His choice of a university was therefore a measure of political exped- 
iency, founded upon the judgment of his legal and political friends. 

"He's ready to go," said Gant, "and he's going to the State Uni- 
versity, and nowhere else. He'll be given as good an education there 
as he can get anywhere. Furthermore, he will make friends there who 
will stand by him the rest of his life." He turned upon his son a glance 
of bitter reproach. "There are very few boys who have had your 
chance," said he, "and you ought to be grateful instead of turning up 
your nose at it. Mark my words, you'll live to see the day when you'll 
thank me for sending you there. Now, I've given you my last word: 
you'll go where I send you or you'll go nowhere at all." 




LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



~ k& 

- - < T k 



RIVE SLOW 

WE LOVE 
>UR CHILDREN 




PART THREE 




28 

JL/ugene was not quite sixteen years old when he was sent away 
to the university. He was, at the time, over six feet and three inches 
tall, and weighed perhaps 130 pounds. He had been sick very little in 
his life, but his rapid growth had eaten sharply at his strength : he was 
full of a wild energy of mind and body that devoured him and left him 
exhausted. He tired very quickly. 

He was a child when he went away: he was a child who had looked 
much on pain and evil, and remained a fantasist of the Ideal. Walled 
up in his great city of visions, his tongue had learned to mock, his lip 
to sneer, but the harsh rasp of the world had worn no grooving in the 
secret life. Again and again he had been bogged in the gray slough of 
factuality. His cruel eyes had missed the meaning of no gesture, his 
packed and bitter heart had sweltered in him like a hot ingot, but all 
his hard wisdom melted at the glow of his imagination. He was not a 
child when he reflected, but when he dreamt, he was; and it was the 
child and dreamer that governed his belief. He belonged, perhaps, to 
an older and simpler race of men: he belonged with the Mythmakers. 
For him, the sun was a lordly lamp to light him on his grand adven- 

417 



418 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

turing. He believed in brave heroic lives. He believed in the fine flowers 
of tenderness and gentleness he had little known. He believed in beauty 
and in order, and that he would wreak out their mighty forms upon the 
distressful chaos of his life. He believed in love, and in the goodness 
and glory of women. He believed in valiance, and he hoped that, like 
Socrates, he would do nothing mean or common in the hour of danger. 
He exulted in his youth, and he believed that he could never die. 

Four years later, when he was graduated, he had passed his adol- 
escence, the kiss of love and death burned on his lips, and he was still 
a child. 

When it was at last plain that Gant's will was on this inflexible, 
Margaret Leonard had said, quietly: 

"Well, then, go your ways, boy. Go your ways. God bless you." 

She looked a moment at his long thin figure and turned to John 
Dorsey Leonard with wet eyes : 

"Do you remember that shaver in knee-pants who came to us four 
years ago? Can you believe it?" 

John Dorsey Leonard laughed quietly, with weary gentle relaxation. 

"What do you know about it?" he said. 

When Margaret turned to him again her voice, low and gentle, 
was charged with the greatest passion he had ever heard in it. 

"You are taking a part of our heart with you, boy. Do you know 
that?" 

She took his trembling hand gently between her own lean fingers. 
He lowered his head and closed his eyelids tightly. 

"Eugene," she continued, "we could not love you more if you were 
our own child. We wanted to keep you with us for another year, but 
since that cannot be, we are sending you out with our hopes pinned to 
you. Oh, boy, you are fine. There is no atom in you that is not fine. 
A glory and a chrism of bright genius rest upon you. God bless you: 
the world is yours." 

The proud words of love and glory sank like music to his heart, 
evoking their bright pictures of triumph, and piercing him with the 
bitter shame of his concealed desires. Love bade him enter, but his 
soul drew back, guilty of dust and sin. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 419 

He tore his hand from her grasp, clinching, with the strangled cry 
of an animal, his convulsive throat. 

"I can't!" he choked. "You mustn't think " He could not go on; 
his life groped blindly to confessional. 

Later, after he left her, her light kiss upon his cheek, the first she 
had ever given him, burned like a ring of fire. 

That summer he was closer to Ben than ever before. They occupied 
the same room at Woodson Street. Luke had returned to the Westing- 
house plant at Pittsburgh after Helen's marriage. 

Gant still occupied his sitting-room, but the rest of the house he 
had rented to a sprightly gray-haired widow of forty. She looked after 
them beautifully, but she served Ben with an especial tenderness. At 
night, on the cool veranda, Eugene would find them below the ripening 
clusters, hear the quiet note of his brother's voice, his laugh, see the slow 
red arc of his cigarette in darkness. 

The quiet one was more quiet and morose than he had ever been 
before: he stalked through the house scowling ferociously. All his con- 
versation with Eliza was short and bitterly scornful; with Gant he spoke 
hardly at all. They had never talked together. Their eyes never met a 
great shame, the shame of father and son, that mystery that goes down 
beyond motherhood, beyond life, that mysterious shame that seals the 
lips of all men, and lives in their hearts, had silenced them. 

But to Eugene, Ben talked more freely than ever before. As they 
sat upon their beds at night, reading and smoking before they slept, all 
of the pain and bitterness of Benjamin Gant's life burst out in violent 
denunciation. He began to speak with slow sullen difficulty, halting 
over his words as he did when he read, but speaking more rapidly as his 
quiet voice became more passionate. 

"I suppose they've told you how poor they are?" he began, tossing 
his cigarette away. 

"Well," said Eugene, "I've got to go easy. I mustn't waste my 
money." 

"Ah-h!" said Ben, making an ugly face. He laughed silently, with 
a thin and bitter contortion of his lips. 



420 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Papa said that a lot of boys pay their own way through college 
by waiting on tables and so on. Perhaps I can do something like that." 

Ben turned over on his side until he faced his brother, propping 
himself on his thin hairy forearm. 

"Now listen, 'Gene," he said sternly, "don't be a damned little fool, 
do you hear? You take every damn cent you can get out of them," he 
added savagely. 

"Well, I appreciate what they're doing. I'm getting a lot more than 
the rest of you had. They're doing a lot for me," said the boy. 

"For you, you little idiot!" said Ben, scowling at him in disgust. 
"They're doing it all for themselves. Don't let them get away with that. 
They think you'll make good and bring a lot of credit to them some day. 
They're rushing you into it two years too soon, as it is. No, you take 
everything you can get. The rest of us never had anything, but 1 want 
to see you get all that's coming to you. My God!" he cried furiously. 
"Their money's doing no one any good rotting in the damned bank, is 
it? No, 'Gene, get all you can. When you get down there, if you find 
you need more to hold your own with the other boys, make the old man 
give it to you. You've never had a chance to hold your head up in 
your own home town, so make the most of your chances when you get 
away." 

He lighted a cigarette and smoked in bitter silence for a moment. 

"To hell with it all!" he said. "What in God's name are we living 
for!" 

Eugene's first year at the university was filled for him with loneli- 
ness, pain, and failure. Within three weeks of his matriculation, he had 
been made the dupe of a half-dozen classic jokes, his ignorance of all 
campus tradition had been exploited, his gullibility was a byword. He 
was the greenest of all green Freshmen, past and present: he had listened 
attentively to a sermon in chapel by a sophomore with false whiskers; 
he had prepared studiously for an examination on the contents of the 
college catalogue; and he had been guilty of the inexcusable blunder of 
making a speech of acceptance on his election, with fifty others, to the 
literary society. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 421 

And these buffooneries a little cruel, but only with the cruelty of 
vacant laughter, and a part of the schedule of rough humor in an 
American college salty, extravagant, and national opened deep 
wounds in him, which his companions hardly suspected. He was con- 
spicuous at once not only because of his blunders, but also because of 
his young wild child's face, and his great raw length of body, with the 
bounding scissor legs. The undergraduates passed him in grinning 
clusters: he saluted them obediently, but with a sick heart. And the 
smug smiling faces of his own classmen, the wiser Freshmen, com- 
placently guiltless of his own mistakes, touched him at moments with 
insane fury. 

"Smile and smile and s-mile damn you!" he cursed through his 
grating teeth. For the first time in his life he began to dislike whatever 
fits too snugly in a measure. He began to dislike and envy the incon- 
spicuous mould of general nature the multitudinous arms, legs, hands, 
feet, and figures that are comfortably shaped for ready-made garments. 
And the prettily regular, wherever he found it, he hated the vacantly 
handsome young men, with shining hair, evenly parted in the middle, 
with sure strong middling limbs meant to go gracefully on danccfloors. 
He longed to see them commit some awkward blunder to trip and 
sprawl, to be flatulent, to lose a strategic button in mixed company, 
to be unconscious of a hanging shirt-tail while with a pretty girl. But 
they made no mistakes. 

As he walked across the campus, he heard his name called mock- 
ingly from a dozen of the impartial windows, he heard the hidden laugh- 
ter, and he ground his teeth. And at night, he stiffened with shame in 
his dark bed, ripping the sheet between his fingers as, with the un- 
balanced vision, the swollen egotism of the introvert, the picture of a 
crowded student-room, filled with the grinning historians of his exploits, 
burned in his brain. He strangled his fierce cry with a taloned hand. 
He wanted to blot out the shameful moment, unweave the loom. It 
seemed to him that his ruin was final, that he had stamped the begin- 
ning of his university life with folly that would never be forgotten, and 
that the best he could do would be to seek out obscurity for the next 
four years. He saw himself in his clown's trappings and thought of his 



422 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

former vision of success and honor with a lacerating self-contempt. 

There was no one to whom he could turn: he had no friends. His 
conception of university life was a romantic blur, evoked from his read- 
ing and tempered with memories of Stover at Yale, Young Fred Fearnot, 
and jolly youths with affectionate linked arms, bawling out a cheer- 
song. No one had given him even the rudimentary data of the some- 
what rudimentary life of an American university. He had not been 
warned of the general taboos. Thus, he had come greenly on his new 
life, unprepared, as he came ever thereafter on all new life, save for his 
opium visions of himself a stranger in Arcadias. 

He was alone. He was desperately lonely. 

But the university was a charming, an unforgettable place. It was 
situated in the little village of Pulpit Hill, in the central midland of the 
big State. Students came and departed by motor from the dreary tobacco 
town of Exeter, twelve miles away: the countryside was raw, powerful, 
and ugly, a rolling land of field, wood, and hollow; but the university 
itself was buried In a pastoral wilderness, on a long tabling butte, which 
rose steeply above the country. One burst suddenly, at the hill-top, on 
the end of the straggling village street, flanked by faculty houses, and 
winding a mile in to the town centre and the university. The central 
campus sloped back and up over a broad area of rich turf, groved with 
magnificent ancient trees. A quadrangle of post- Revolutionary buildings 
of weathered brick bounded the upper end: other newer buildings, in 
the modern bad manner (the Pedagogic Neo-Greeky), were scattered 
around beyond the central design: beyond, there was a thickly forested 
wilderness. There was still a good flavor of the wilderness about the 
place one felt its remoteness, its isolated charm. It seemed to Eugene 
like a provincial outpost of great Rome: the wilderness crept up to it 
like a beast. 

Its great poverty, its century-long struggle in the forest, had given 
the university a sweetness and a beauty it was later to forfeit. It had the 
fine authority of provincialism the provincialism of an older South. 
Nothing mattered but the State: the State was a mighty empire, a rich 
kingdom there was, beyond, a remote and semi-barbaric world. 

Few of the university's sons had been distinguished in the nation's 




life there had been an obscure President of The United States, and a 
few Cabinet members, but few had sought such distinction : it was glory 
enough to be a great man in one's State. Nothing beyond mattered very 
much. 

In this pastoral setting a young man was enabled to loaf com- 
fortably and delightfully through four luxurious and indolent years. 
There was, God knows, seclusion enough for monastic scholarship, but 
the rare romantic quality of the atmosphere, the prodigal opulence of 
Springtime, thick with flowers and drenched in a fragrant warmth of 
green shimmering light, quenched pretty thoroughly any incipient rash 
of bookishness. Instead, they loafed and invited their souls or, with 
great energy and enthusiasm, promoted the affairs of glee-clubs, athletic 
teams, class politics, fraternities, debating societies, and dramatic clubs. 
And they talked always they talked, under the trees, against the ivied 
walls, assembled in their rooms, they talked in limp sprawls inces- 
sant, charming, empty Southern talk; they talked with a large easy flu- 
ency about God, the Devil, and philosophy, the girls, politics, athletics, 
fraternities and the girls My God! how they talked! 



424 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Observe," lisped Mr. Torrington, the old Rhode's Scholar (Pulpit 
Hill and Merton, '14), "observe how skilfully he holds suspense until 
the very end. Observe with what consummate art he builds up his 
climax, keeping his meaning hidden until the very last word." Further, 
in fact. 

At last, thought Eugene, I am getting an education. This must be 
good writing, because it seems so very dull. When it hurts, the dentist 
says, it does you good. Democracy must be real, because it is so very 
earnest. It must be a certainty, because it is so elegantly embalmed in this 
marble mausoleum of language. Essays For College Men Woodrow 
Wilson, Lord Bryce and Dean Briggs. 

But there was no word here of the loud raucous voice of America, 
political conventions and the Big Brass Band, Tweed, Tammany, the 
Big Stick, lynching bees and black barbecue parties, the Boston Irish, 
and the damnable machinations of the Pope as exposed by the Babylon 
Hollow Trumpet (Dem.), the rape of the Belgian virgins, rum, oil, Wall 
Street and Mexico. 

All that, Mr. Torrington would have said, was temporary and 
accidental. It was unsound. 

Mr. Torrington smiled moistly at Eugene and urged him tenderly 
into a chair drawn intimately to his desk. 

"Mr. ? Mr. ? " he said, fumbling at his index cards. 

"Gant," said Eugene. 

"Ah, yes Mr. Gant," he smiled his contrition. "Now about your 
outside reading?" he began. 

But what, thought Eugene, about my inside reading? 

Did he like to read? Ah that was good. He was so glad to hear 
it. The true university m these days, said Carlyle (he did hope Eugene 
like rugged old Thomas), was a collection of books. 

"Yes, sir," said Eugene. 

That, it seemed to him, was the Oxford Plan. Oh, yes he had 
been there, three years, in fact. His mild eye kindled. To loaf along the 
High on a warm Spring day, stopping to examine in the bookseller's 
windows the treasures that might be had for so little. Then to Buol's 
or to a friend's room for tea, or for a walk in the meadows or Magdalen 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 425 

gardens, or to look down into the quad, at the gay pageant of youth 
below. Ah Ah! A great place? Well he'd hardly say that. It all 
depended what one meant by a great place. Half the looseness in 
thought unfortunately, he fancied, more prevalent among American 
than among English youth came from an indefinite exuberance of ill- 
defined speech. 

"Yes, sir," said Eugene. 

A great place? Well, he'd scarcely say that. The expression was 
typically American. Butter-lipped, he turned on the boy a smile of soft 
unfriendliness: 

"It kills," he observed, "a man's useless enthusiasms." 

Eugene whitened a little. 

"That's fine," he said. 

Now let him see. Did he like plays the modern drama? Excel- 
lent. They were doing some very interesting things in the modern drama. 
Barne oh, a charming fellow! What was that? Shaw! 

"Yes, sir," said Eugene. "I've read all the others. There's a new 
book out." 

"Oh, but really! My dear boy!" said Mr. Tornngton with gentle 
amazement. He shrugged his shoulders and became politely indifferent. 
Very well, if he liked. Of course, he thought it rather a pity to waste 
one's time so when they were really doing some first-rate things. That 
was just the trouble, however. The appeal of a man like that was mainly 
to the unformed taste, the uncritical judgment. He had a flashy attrac- 
tion for the immature. Oh, yes! Undoubtedly an amusing fellow. 
Clever yes, but hardly significant. And didn't he think a trifle 
noisy? Or had he noticed that? Yes there was to be sure an amusing 
Celtic strain, not without charm, but unsound. He was not in line with 
the best modern thought. 

"I'll take the Barne," said Eugene. 

Yes, he rather thought that would be better. 

"Well, good day. Mr. Mr. ? ?" he smiled, fumbling again 
with his cards. 

"Gant." 

Oh yes, to be sure, Gant. He held out his plump limp hand. He 



426 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

did hope Mr. Gant would call on him. Perhaps he'd be able to advise 
him on some of the little problems that, he knew, were constantly crop- 
ping up during the first year. Above all, he mustn't get discouraged. 

"Yes, sir," said Eugene, backing feverishly to the door. When he 
felt the open space behind him, he fell through it, and vanished. 

Anyway, he thought grimly, I've read all the damned Barnes. I'll 
write the damned report for him, and damned well read what I damn 
well please. 

God save our King and Queen! 



He had courses besides in Chemistry, Mathematics, Greek, and 
Latin. 

He worked hard and with interest at his Latin. His instructor was a 
tall shaven man, with a yellow saturnine face. He parted his scant hair 
cleverly in such a way as to suggest horns. His lips were always twisted 
in a satanic smile, his eyes gleamed sideward with heavy malicious 
humor. Eugene had great hopes of him. When the boy arrived, panting 
and breakfastless, a moment after the class had settled to order, the 
satanic professor would greet him with elaborate irony: "Ah, there, 
Brother Gant! Just in time for church again. Have you slept well?" 

The class roared its appreciation of these subtleties. And later, in 
an expectant pause, he would deepen his arched brows portentously, 
stare up mockingly under his bushy eyebrows at his expectant audience, 
and say, in a deep sardonic voice: 

"And now, I am going to request Brother Gant to favor us with 
one of his polished and scholarly translations." 

These heavy jibes were hard to bear because, of all the class, two 
dozen or more, Brother Gant was the only one to prepare his work 
without the aid of a printed translation. He worked hard on Livy and 
Tacitus, going over the lesson several times until he had dug out a 
smooth and competent reading of his own. This he was stupid enough 
to deliver in downright fashion, without hesitation, or a skilfully affected 
doubt here and there. For his pains and honesty he was handsomely 
rewarded by the Amateur Diabolist. The lean smile would deepen as 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 427 

the boy read, the man would lift his eyes significantly to the grinning 
class, and when it was over, he would say: 

"Bravo, Brother Gant! Excellent! Splendid' You are riding a good 
pony but a little too smoothly, my boy. You ride a little too well." 

The class sniggered heavily. 

When he could stand it no longer, he sought the man out one day 
after the class. 

"See here, sir! See here!" he began in a voice choking with fury 
and exasperation. "Sir I assure you " he thought of all the grinning 
apes in the class, palming off profitably their stolen translations, and he 
could not go on. 

The Devil's Disciple was not a bad man; he was only, like most 
men who pride themselves on their astuteness, a foolish one. 

"Nonsense, Mr. Gant," said he kindly. "You don't think you can 
fool me on a translation, do you? It's all right with me, you know," 
he continued, grinning. "If you'd rather ride a pony than do your own 
work, I'll give you a passing grade so long as you do it well." 

"But " Eugene began explosively. 

"But I think it's a pity, Mr. Gant," said the professor, gravely, 
"that you're willing to slide along this way. See here, my boy, you're 
capable of doing first-rate work. I can see that. Why don't you make an 
effort? Why don't you buckle down and really study, after this?" 

Eugene stared at the man, with tears of anger in his eyes. He 
sputtered but could not speak. But suddenly, as he looked down into 
the knowing leer, the perfect and preposterous injustice of the thing 
like a caricature overcame him: he burst into an explosive laugh of 
rage and amusement which the teacher, no doubt, accepted as confession. 

"Well, what do you say?" he asked. "Will you try?" 

"All right! Yes!" the boy yelled. "I'll try it." 

He bought at once a copy of the translation used by the class. 
Thereafter, when he read, faltering prettily here and there over a phrase, 
until his instructor should come to his aid, the satamc professor listened 
gravely and attentively, nodding his head in approval from time to time, 
and saying, with great satisfaction, when he had finished: "Good, Mr. 
Gant. Very good. That shows what a little real work will do." 



428 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

And privately, he would say: "You see the difference, don't you? 
I knew at once when you stopped using that pony. Your translation is 
not so smooth, but it's your own now. You're doing good work, my 
boy, and you're getting something out of it. It's worth it, isn't it?" 

"Yes," said Eugene gratefully, "it certainly is " 

By far the most distinguished of his teachers this first year was 
Mr. Edward Pettigrew ("Buck") Benson, the Greek professor. Buck 
Benson was a little man in the middle-forties, a bachelor, somewhat 
dandified, but old-fashioned, in his dress. He wore wing collars, large 
plump cravats, and suede-topped shoes. His hair was thick, heavily 
grayed, beautifully kept. His face was courteously pugnacious, fierce, 
with large yellow bulging eyeballs, and several bulldog pleatings around 
the mouth. It was an altogether handsome ugliness. 

His voice was low, lazy, pleasant, with an indolent drawl, but 
without changing its pace or its inflection he could flay a victim with as 
cruel a tongue as ever wagged, and in the next moment wipe out hostility, 
restore affection, heal all wounds by the same agency. His charm was 
enormous. Among the students he was the subject for comical specu- 
lation in their myths, they made of him a passionate and sophisticated 
lover, and his midget cycle-car, which bounded like an overgrown toy 
around the campus, the scene of many romantic seductions. 

He was a good Grecian an elegant indolent scholar. Under his 
instruction Eugene began to read Homer. The boy knew little gram- 
mar he had learned little at Leonard's but, since he had had the bad 
judgment to begin Greek under some one other than Buck Benson, 
Buck Benson thought he knew even less than he did. He studied des- 
perately, but the bitter dyspeptic gaze of the elegant little man frightened 
him into halting, timorous, clumsy performances. And as he proceeded, 
with thumping heart and tremulous voice, Buck Benson's manner would 
become more and more weary, until finally, dropping his book, he 
would drawl: 

"Mister Gant, you make me so damned mad I could throw you out 
the window." 

But, on the examination, he gave an excellent performance, and 
translated from sight beautifully. He was saved. Buck Benson com- 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



429 



mended his paper publicly with lazy astonishment, and gave him a fair 
grade. Thereafter, they slipped quickly into an easier relation: by Spring, 
he was reading Euripides with some confidence. 

But that which remained most vividly, later, in the drowning years 
which cover away so much of beauty, was the vast sea-surge of Homer 
which beat in his brain, his blood, his pulses, as did the sea-sound in 
Gant's parlor shells, when first he heard it to the slowly pacing feet and 
the hexametrical drawl of Buck Benson, the lost last weary son of Hellas. 

Dwaney de clangay genett, argereoyo beeoyo above the whistle's 
shriek, the harsh scream of the wheel, the riveter's tattoo, the vast long 
music endures, and ever shall. What dissonance can quench it? What 
jangling violence can disturb or conquer it entombed in our flesh when 
we were young, remembered like "the apple tree, the singing, and the 
gold"? 





29 

Oefore his first year was ended, the boy had changed his lodging 
four or five times. He finished the year living alone in a big bare car- 
petless room an existence rare at Pulpit Hill, where the students, with 
very few exceptions, lived two or three to a room. In that room began 
a physical isolation, hard enough to bear at first, which later became 
indispensable to him, mind and body. 

He had come to Pulpit Hill with Hugh Barton, who met him at 
Exeter and drove him over in the big roadster. After his registration, 
he had secured lodging quickly at the house of an Altamont widow 
whose son was a student. Hugh Barton looked relieved and departed, 
hoping to reach home and his bride by nightfall. 

With fine enthusiasm, but poor judgment, Eugene paid the widow 
two months in advance. Her name was Bradley: she was a flabby 
petulant woman with a white face and heart-disease. But her food was 
excellent. Mrs. Bradley's student son answered to his initial letters 
"G. T." G. T. Bradley, a member of the sophomore class, was a surly 
scowling youth of nineteen a mixture, in equal parts, of servility and 
insolence. His chief, but thwarted, ambition was to be elected to mem- 
bership in a fraternity. Having failed to win recognition by the exercise 
of his natural talents, he was driven by an extraordinary obsession that 

430 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 431 

fame and glory would come to him if he were known as the slave-driver 
of a number of Freshmen. 

But these tactics, tried on Eugene, produced at once defiance and 
resentment. Their hostility was bitter: G. T. set himself to thwart and 
ruin the beginnings of the boy's university life. He trapped him into 
public blunders, and solicited audiences to witness his humiliation; he 
wheedled his confidence, and betrayed it. But there is a final mockery, 
an ultimate treachery that betrays us into shame: our capacity for 
villainy, like all our other capacities, is so small. The day came when 
Eugene was free from bondage. He was free to leave the widow's house 
of sorrow. G. T. approached him, scowling, diffidently. 

"I hear you're leaving us, 'Gene," he said. 

"Yes," said Eugene. 

"Is it because of the way I've acted?" 

"Yes," said Eugene. 

"You take things too seriously, 'Gene," he said. 

"Yes," said Eugene. 

"I don't want you to go having hard feelings, 'Gene. Let's shake 
hands and be friends." 

He thrust his hand out stiffly. Eugene looked at the hard weak face, 
the furtive, unhappy eyes casting about for something they might call 
their own. The thick black hair was plastered stiff with grease; he saw 
white points of dandruff at the roots. There was an odor of talcum 
powder. He had been borne and nourished in the body of his white- 
faced motherfor what? To lap the scornful stroking fingers of posi- 
tion; to fawn miserably before an emblem. Eugene had a moment of 
nausea. 

"Let's shake hands, 'Gene," said the boy once more, waggling his 
out-thrust fingers. 

"No," said Eugene. 

"You don't hate me, do you?" whined G. T. 

"No," said Eugene. 

He had a moment of pity, of sickness. He forgave because it was 
necessary to forget. 

Eugene lived in a small world, but its ruins for him were actual. 



432 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

and calamitous. He withdrew deeply and scornfully into his cell. He 
was friendless, whipped with scorn and pride. He set his face blindly 
against all the common united life around him. 

It was during this bitter and desperate autumn that Eugene first 
met Jim Trivett. 

Jim Trivett, the son of a rich tobacco farmer in the eastern part of 
the State, was a good-tempered young tough of twenty years. He was 
a strong, rather foul-looking boy, with a coarse protruding mouth, full- 
meated and slightly ajar, constantly rayed with a faint loose smile and 
blotted at the corner with a brown smear of tobacco juice. He had bad 
teeth. His hair was light-brown, dry, and unruly: it stuck out in large 
untidy mats. He was dressed in the last cheap extreme of the dreadful 
fashion of the time: skin-tight trousers that ended an inch above his 
oxford shoes exposing an inch of clocked hose, a bobtailed coat belted 
in across his kidneys, large striped collars of silk. Under his coat he 
wore a big sweater with high-school numerals. 

Jim Trivett lived with several other students from his community 
in a lodging-house near Mrs. Bradley's but closer to the west gate of the 
university. There were four young men banded together for security 
and companionship in two untidy rooms heated to a baking dryness by 
small cast-iron stoves. They made constant preparations for study, but 
they never studied: one would enter sternly, announcing that he had 
"a hell of a day to-morrow," and begin the most minute preparations 
for a long contest with his books: he would sharpen his pencils carefully 
and deliberately, adjust his lamp, replenish the red-hot stove, move his 
chair, put on an eyeshade, clean his pipe, stuff it carefully with tobacco, 
light, relight, and empty it, then, with an expression of profound relief, 
hear a rapping on his door. 

"Come in the house, Goddamn it!" he would roar hospitably. 

"Hello, 'Gene! Pull up a chair, son, and sit down," said Tom 
Grant. He was a thickly built boy, gaudily dressed; he had a low fore- 
head, black hair, and a kind, stupid, indolent temper. 

"Have you been working?" 

"Hell, yes!" shouted Jim Trivett. "I've been working like a 
son-of-a-bitch." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 433 

"God!" said Tom Grant, turning slowly to look at him. "Boy, 
you're going to choke to death on one of those some day." He shook 
his head slowly and sadly, then continued with a rough laugh. "If old 
man Tnvett knew what you were doing with his money, damn if he 
wouldn't bust a gut." 

" 'Gene!" said Jim Trivett, "what the hell do you know about this 
damned English, anyway 9 " 

"What he doesn't know about it," said Tom Grant, "you could 
write out on the back of a postage stamp. Old man Sanford thinks 
you're hell, 'Gene " 

"I thought you had Tornngton," said Jim Trivett. 

"No," said Eugene, "I wasn't English enough. Young and crude. 
I changed, thank God! What is it you want. Jim?" he asked. 

"I've got a long paper to write. I don't know what to write about," 
said Jim Tnvett. 

"What do you want me to do? Write it for you?" 

"Yes," said Jim Tnvett. 

"Write your own damn paper," said Eugene with mimic toughness, 
"I won't do it for you. I'll help you if I can." 

"When are you going to let Hard Boy take you to Exeter?" said 
Tom Grant, winking at Jim Trivett. 

Eugene flushed, making a defensive answer. 

"I'm ready to go any time he is," he said uneasily. 

"Look here, Legs!" said Jim Trivett, grinning loosely. "Do you 
really want to go with me or are you just bluffing?" 

"I'll go with you! I've told you I'd go with you!" Eugene said 
angrily. He trembled a little. 

Tom Grant grinned slyly at Jim Tnvett. 

"It'll make a man of you, 'Gene," he said. "Boy, it'll sure put hair 
on your chest." He laughed, not loudly, but uncontrollably, shaking 
his head as at some secret thought. 

Jim Tnvett's loose smile widened. He spat into the woodbox. 

"Gawd!" he said. "They'll think Spring is here when they see old 
Legs. They'll need a stepladder to git at him." 

Tom Grant was shaken with hard fat laughter. 



434 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"They sure God will!" he said. 

"Well, what about it, 'Gene?" Jim Trivett demanded suddenly. 
"Is it a go? Saturday?" 

"Suits me!" said Eugene. 

When he had gone, they grinned thirstily at each other for a 
moment, the pleased corrupters of chastity. 

"Pshaw!" said Tom Grant. "You oughtn't to do that, Hard Boy. 
You're leading the boy astray." 

"It's not going to hurt him," said Jim Trivett. "It'll be good for 
him." 

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, grinning. 

"Wait a minute!" whispered Jim Trivett. "I think this is the place." 

They had turned away from the centre of the dreary tobacco town. 
For a quarter of an hour they had walked briskly through drab autumnal 
streets, descending finally a long rutted hill that led them, past a thinning 
squalor of cheap houses, almost to the outskirts. It was three weeks 
before Christmas: the foggy air was full of chill menace. There was a 
brooding quietness, broken by far small sounds. They turned into a 
sordid little road, unpaved, littered on both sides with negro shacks and 
the dwellings of poor whites. It was a world of rickets. The road was 
unlighted. Their feet stirred dryly through fallen leaves. 

They paused before a two-storey frame house. A lamp burned 
dimly behind lowered yellow shades, casting a murky pollen out upon 
the smoky air. 

"Wait a minute," said Jim Trivett, in a low voice, "I'll find out." 

They heard scuffling steps through the leaves. In a moment a negro 
man prowled up. 

"Hello, John," said Jim Trivett, almost inaudibly. 

"Evenin', boss!" the negro answered wearily, but in the same tone. 

"We're looking for Lily Jones' house," said Jim Trivett. "Is this 
it?" 

"Yes, suh," said the negro, "dis is it." 

Eugene leaned against a tree, listening to their quiet conspiratorial 
talk. The night, vast and listening, gathered about him its evil attentive 
consciousness. His lips were cold and trembled. He thrust a cigarette 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 435 

between them and, shivering, turned up the thick collar of his overcoat. 

"Does Miss Lily know you're comin'?" the negro asked. 

"No," said Jim Tnvett. "Do you know her?" 

"Yes, suh," said the negro. "I'll go up dar wid yo'." 

Eugene waited in the shadow of the tree while the two men went 
up to the house. They avoided the front veranda, and went around to 
the side. The negro rapped gently at a latticed door. There were always 
latticed doors. Why? 

He waited, saying farewell to himself. He stood over his life, he 
felt, with lifted assassin blade. He was mired to his neck, inextricably, 
in complication. There was no escape. 

There had been a faint closed noise from the house: voices and 
laughter, and the cracked hoarse tone of an old phonograph. The sound 
stopped quickly as the negro rapped: the shabby house seemed to listen. 
In a moment, a hinge creaked stealthily: he caught the low startled blur 
of a woman's voice. Who is it? Who? 

In another moment. Jim Tnvett returned to him, and said quietly: 

"It's all right, 'Gene. Come on." 

He slipped a coin into the negro's hand, thanking him. Eugene 
looked for a moment into the black broad friendliness of the man's 
face. He had a flash of warmth through his cold limbs. The black 
bawd had done his work eagerly and kindly: over their bought unlovely 
loves lay the warm shadow of his affection. 

They ascended the path quietly and, mounting two or three steps, 
went in under the latticed door. A woman stood beside it, holding it 
open. When they had entered, she closed it securely. Then they crossed 
the little porch and entered the house. 

They found themselves m a little hall which cleft the width of the 
house. A smoky lamp, wicked low, cast its dim circle into the dark. 
An uncarpeted stair mounted to the second floor. There were two doors 
both to left and right, and an accordion hat-rack, on which hung a 
man's battered felt hat. 

Jim Tnvett embraced the woman immediately, grinning, and 
fumbling in her breast. 

"Hello, Lily," he said. 

"Gawd!" She smiled crudely, and continued to peer at Eugene, 



436 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

curious at what the maw of night had thrown in to her. Then, turning 
to Jim Trivett with a coarse laugh, she said: 

"Lord a' mercy! Any woman that gits him will have to cut off 
some of them legs." 

"I'd like to see him with Thelma," said Jim Trivett, grinning. 

Lily Jones laughed hoarsely. The door to the right opened and 
Thelma, a small woman, slightly built, came out, followed by high 
empty yokel laughter. Jim Trivett embraced her affectionately. 

"My Gawd!" said Thelma, in a tinny voice. "What've we got here?" 
She thrust out her sharp wrenny face, and studied Eugene insolently. 

"I brought you a new beau, Thelma," said Jim Trivett. 

"Ain't he the lankiest feller you ever seen?" said Lily Jones imper- 
sonally. "How tall are you, son?" she added, addressing him in a kind 
drawl. 

He winced a little. 

"I don't know," he said. "I think about six three." 

"He's more than that!" said Thelma positively. "He's seven foot 
tall or I'm a liar." 

"He hasn't measured since last week," said Jim Trivett. "He' can't 
be sure about it." 

"He's young, too," said Lily, staring at him intently. "How old 
are you, son?" 

Eugene turned his pallid face away, indefinitely. 

"Why," he croaked, "I'm about " 

"He's going on eighteen," said Jim Trivett loyally. "Don't you 
worry about him. Old Legs knows all the ropes, all right. He's a bear- 
cat. I wouldn't kid you. He's been there." 

"He don't look that old," said Lily doubtfully. "I wouldn't call 
him more'n fifteen, to look at his face. Ain't he got a little face, though?" 
she demanded in a slow puzzled voice. 

"It's the only one I've got," said Eugene angrily. "Sorry I can't 
change it for a larger one." 

"It looks so funny stickin' way up there above you," she went on 
patiently. 

Thelma nudged her sharply. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 437 

"That's because he's got a big frame," she said. "Legs is all right. 
When he begins to fill out an' put some meat on them bones he's goin' 
to make a big man. You'll be a heartbreaker sure, Legs," she said 
harshly, taking his cold hand and squeezing it. In him the ghost, his 
stranger, turned grievously away. O God! I shall remember, he 
thought. 

"Well," said Jim Trivett, "let's git gom'." He embraced Thelma 
again. They fumbled amorously. 

"You go on upstairs, son," said Lily. "I'll be up in a minute. The 
door's open " 

"See you later, 'Gene," said Jim Trivett. "Stay with them, son." 

He hugged the boy roughly with one arm, and went into the room 
to the left with Thelma. 

Eugene mounted the creaking stairs slowly and entered the room 
with the open door. A hot mass of coals glowed flamelessly in the 
hearth. He took off his hat and overcoat and threw them across a 
wooden bed. Then he sat down tensely in a rocker and leaned forward, 
holding his trembling fingers to the heat. There was no light save that 
of the coals; but, by their dim steady glow, he could make out the old 
and ugly wall-paper, stained with long streaks of water rust, and scaling, 
in dry tattered scrolls, here and there. He sat quietly, bent forward, but 
he shook violently, as with an ague, from time to time. Why am I here? 
This is not I, he thought. 

Presently he heard the woman's slow heavy tread upon the stairs: 
she entered in a swimming tide of light, bearing a lamp before her. She 
put the lamp down on a table and turned the wick. He could see her 
now more plainly. Lily was a middle-aged country woman, with a broad 
heavy figure, unhealthily soft. Her smooth peasant face was mapped 
with fine little traceries of wrinkles at the corners of mouth and eyes, 
as if she had worked much in the sun. She had black hair, coarse and 
abundant. She was whitely plastered with talcum powder. She was 
dressed shapelessly in a fresh loose dress of gingham, unbelted. She 
was dressed like a housewife, but she conceded to her profession stock- 
ings of red silk, and slippers of red felt, trimmed with fur, in which she 
walked with a flat-footed tread. 



438 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

The woman fastened the door, and returned to the hearth where 
the boy was now standing. He embraced her with feverish desire, fond- 
ling her with his long nervous hands. Indecisively, he sat in the rocker 
and drew her down clumsily on his knee. She yielded her kisses with 
the coy and frigid modesty of the provincial harlot, turning her mouth 
away. She shivered as his cold hands touched her. 

"You're cold as ice, son," she said. "What's the matter?" 

She chafed him with rough embarrassed professionalism. In a 
moment she rose impatiently. 

"Let's git started," she said. "Where's my money?" 

He thrust two crumpled bills into her hand. 

Then he lay down beside her. He trembled, unnerved and impotent. 
Passion was extinct in him. 

The massed coals caved in the hearth. The lost bright wonder died. 

When he went down stairs, he found Jim Trivett waiting in the hall, 
holding Thelma by the hand. Lily led them out quietly, after peering 
through the lattice into the fog, and listening for a moment. 

"Be quiet," she whispered, "there's a man across the street. They've 
been watching us lately." 

"Come again, Slats," Thelma murmured, pressing his hand. 

They went out softly, treading gently until they reached the road. 
The fog had thickened: the air was saturated with fine stinging moisture. 

At the corner, in the glare of the street-lamp, Jim Trivett released 
his breath with loud relief, and stepped forward boldly. 

"Damn!" he said. "I thought you were never coming. What were 
you trying to do with the woman, Legs?" Then, noting the boy's face, 
he added quickly, with warm concern: "What's the matter, 'Gene? 
Don't you feel good?" 

"Wait a minute!" said Eugene thickly. "Be all right!" 

He went to the curb, and vomited into the gutter. Then he straight- 
ened, mopping his mouth with a handkerchief. 

"How do you feel?" asked Jim Trivett. "Better?" 

"Yes," said Eugene, "I'm all right now." 

"Why didn't you tell me you were sick?" said Jim Trivett chidingly. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 439 

"It came on all of a sudden," said Eugene. He added presently: 
"I think it was something I ate at that damn Greek's to-night." 

"I felt all right," said Jim Trivett. "A cup of coffee will fix you up," 
he added with cheerful conviction. 

They mounted the hill slowly. The light from winking cornerlamps 
fell with a livid stare across the fronts of the squalid houses. 

"Jim," said Eugene, after a moment's pause. 

"Yes. What is it?" 

"Don't say anything about my getting sick," he said awkwardly. 

Surprised, Jim Trivett stared at him. 

"Why not? There's nothing in that," he said. "Pshaw, boy, any 
one's likely to get sick." 

"Yes, I know. But I'd rather you wouldn't." 

"Oh, all right. I won't. Why should I?" said Jim Trivett. 

Eugene was haunted by his own lost ghost: he knew it to be irre- 
coverable. For three days he avoided evfcry one: the brand of his sin, 
he felt, was on him. He was published by every gesture, by every word. 
His manner grew more defiant, his greeting to life more unfriendly. He 
clung more closely to Jim Trivett, drawing a sad pleasure from his 
coarse loyal praise. His unappeased desire began to burn anew: it con- 
quered his bodily disgust and made new pictures. At the end of the 
week he went again, alone, to Exeter. No more of him, he felt, could 
be lost. This time he sought out Thelma. 

When he went home for Christmas, his loins were black with 
vermin. The great body of the State lay like a barren giant below the 
leaden reek of the skies. The train roared on across the vast lift of the 
Piedmont: at night, as he lay in his berth, in a diseased coma, it crawled 
up into the great fortress of the hills. Dimly, he saw their wintry bulk, 
with its bleak foresting. Below a trestle, silent as a dream, a white rope 
of water coiled between its frozen banks. His sick heart lifted in the 
haunting eternity of the hills. He was hillborn. But at dawn, as he 
came from the cars with the band of returning students, his depression 
revived. The huddle of cheap buildings at the station seemed meaner 
and meaner than ever before. The hills, above the station flats, with 




their cheap propped houses, had the unnatural closeness of a vision. 
The silent Square seemed to have rushed together during his absence, 
and as he left the car and descended the street to Dixieland, it was as if 
he devoured toy-town distances with a giant's stride. 

The Christmas was gray and chill. Helen was not there to give it 
warmth. Gant and Eliza felt the depression of her absence. Ben came 
and went like a ghost. Luke was not coming home. And he himself 
was sick with shame and loss. 

He did not know where to turn. He paced his chill room at night, 
muttering, until Eliza's troubled face appeared above her wrapper. His 
father was gentler, older than he had ever seen him; his pain had re- 
turned on him. He was absent and sorrowful. He talked perfunctorily 
with his son about college. Speech choked in Eugene's throat. He 
stammered a few answers and fled from the house and the vacant fear 
in Gant's eyes. He walked prodigiously, day and night, in an effort to 
command his own fear. He believed himself to be rotting with a leprosy. 
And there was nothing to do but rot. There was no cure. For such had 
been the instruction of the moralists of his youth. 

He walked with aimless desperation, unable to quiet for a moment 
his restless limbs. He went up on the eastern hills that rose behind 
Niggertown, A winter's sun labored through the mist. Low on the 
meadows, and high on the hills, the sunlight lay on the earth like milk. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 441 

He stood looking. A shaft of hope cut through the blackness of 
his spirit. J will go to my brother, he thought. 

He found Ben still in bed at Woodson Street, smoking. He closed 
the door, then spun wildly about as if caged. 

"In God's name!" Ben cried angrily. "Have you gone crazy? 
What's wrong with you?" 

"I'm I'm sick!" he gasped. 

"What's the matter? Where've you been?" asked Ben sharply. He 
sat up in bed. 

"I've been with a woman," said Eugene. 

"Sit down, 'Gene," said Ben quietly, after a moment. "Don't be 
a little idiot. You're not going to die, you know. When did this happen?" 

The boy blurted out his confession. 

Ben got up and put on his clothes. 

"Come on," said he, "we'll go to sSeJMcGuire." 

As they walked townward, he tne& Tjr t$fk, explaining himself in 
babbling incoherent spurts. ^ 

"It was like this," he began, "if I had known, but at that time I 
didn't of course I know it was my own fault for " 

"Oh, for God's sake!" said Ben impatiently. "Dry up! I don't 
want to hear about it. I'm not your damned Guardian Angel." 

The news was comforting. So many people, after our fall from 
grace, are. 

They mounted to the wide dark corridor of the Doctors' and 
Surgeons', with its sharp excitement of medical smells. McGuire's ante- 
room was empty. Ben rapped at the inner door. McGuire opened it: 
he pulled away the wet cigarette that was plastered on his heavy lip, 
to greet them. 

"Hello, Ben. Hello, son!" he barked, seeing Eugene. "When'dyou 
get back?" 

"He thinks he's dying of galloping consumption, McGuire," said 
Ben, with a jerk of the head. "You may be able to do something to 
prolong his life." 

"What's the matter, son?" said McGuire. 

Eugene gulped dryly, craning his livid face. 



442 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"If you don't mind," he croaked. "See you alone." He turned 
desperately upon his brother. "You stay here. Don't want you with 
me." 

"I don't want to go with you," said Ben surlily. "I've got troubles 
enough of my own." 

Eugene followed McGuire's burly figure into the office; McGuire 
closed the door, and sat down heavily at his littered desk. 

"Sit down, son," he commanded, "and tell me about it." He lit a 
cigarette and stuck it deftly on his sag wet lip. He glanced keenly at the 
boy, noting his contorted face. 

"Take your time, son," he said kindly, "and control yourself. 
Whatever it is, it's probably not as bad as you think." 

"It was this way," Eugene began in a low voice. "I've made a 
mistake. I know that. I'm willing to take my medicine. I'm not making 
any excuses for what has happened," his voice rose sharply; he got half- 
way out of his chair, and b^gan to pound fiercely upon the untidy desk. 
"I'm putting the blame on no one. Do you understand that?" 

McGuire turned a bloated bewildered face slowly upon his patient. 
His wet cigarette sagged comically from his half-opened mouth. 

"Do I understand what?" he said. "See here, 'Gene: what the hell 
are you driving at? I'm no Sherlock Holmes, you know. I'm your 
doctor. Spit it out." 

The boy answered with a bitter wnthen face. 

"What I've done," he said dramatically, "thousands have done. 
Oh, I know they may pretend not to. But they do! You're a doctor 
you know that. People high-up in society, too. I'm one of the unlucky 
ones. I got caught. Why am I any worse than they are? Why " he 
continued rhetorically. 

"I think I catch your drift," said McGuire dryly. "Let's have a 
look, son." 

Eugene obeyed feverishly, still declaiming. 

"Why should I bear the stigma for what others get away with? 
Hypocrites a crowd of damned, dirty, whining hypocrites, that's what 
they are. The Double-Standard! Hah! Where's the justice, where's the 
honor of that? Why should I be blamed for what people in High 
Society " 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 443 

McGuire lifted his big head from its critical stare, and barked 
comically. 

"Who's blaming you? You don't think you're the first one who 
ever had this sort of trouble, do you? There's nothing wrong with 
you, anyway." 

"Can can you cure me?" Eugene asked. 

"No. You're incurable, son!" said McGuire. He scrawled a few 
hieroglyphics on a prescription pad. "Give this to the druggist," he 
said, "and be a little more careful hereafter of the company you keep. 
People in High Society, eh?" he grinned. "So that's where you've been?" 

The great weight of blood and tears had lifted completely out of the 
boy's heart, leaving him dizzily buoyant, wild, half-conscious only of 
his rushing words. 

He opened the door and went into the outer room. Ben got up 
quickly and nervously. 

"Well," he said, "how much longer has he got to live?" Seriously, 
in a low voice, he added: "There's nothing wrong with him, is there?" 

"No," said McGuire, "I think he's a little off his nut. But, then, 
you all are." 

When they came out on the street again, Ben said: 

"Have you had anything to eat?" 

"No," said Eugene. 

"When did you eat last?" 

"Some time yesterday," said Eugene. "I don't remember." 

"You damned fool!" Ben muttered. "Come on let's eat." 

The idea became very attractive. The world was washed pleasantly 
in the milky winter sunshine. The town, under the stimulus of the holi- 
days and the returning students, had wakened momentarily from its 
winter torpor: warm brisk currents of life seethed over the pavements. 
He walked along at Ben's side with a great bounding stride, unable to 
govern the expanding joy that rose yeastily m him. Finally, as he turned 
in on the busy avenue, he could restrain himself no longer: he leaped 
high in the air, with a yelp of ecstasy: 

"Squee-ee!" * , 

"You little idiot!" Ben cried sharply. "Are you crazy!" 



444 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He scowled fiercely, then turned to the roaring passersby, with a 
thin smile. 

"Hang on to him, Ben!" yelled Jim Pollock. He was a deadly little 
man, waxen and smiling under a black mustache, the chief compositor, 
a Socialist. 

"If you cut off his damned big feet," said Ben, "he'd go up like a 
balloon." 

They went into the big new lunch-room and sat at one of the tables. 

"What's yours?" said the waiter. 

"A cup of coffee and a piece of mince pie," said Ben. 

"I'll take the same," said Eugene. 

"Eat!" said Ben fiercely. "Eat!" 

Eugene studied the card thoughtfully. 

"Bring me some veal cutlets breaded with tomato sauce," he said, 
"with a side-order of hash-brown potatoes, a dish of creamed carrots 
and peas, and a plate of hot biscuits. Also a cup of coffee." 

Eugene got back his heart again. He got it back fiercely and care- 
lessly, with an eldritch wildness. During the remainder of his holiday, 
he plunged recklessly through the lively crowds, looking boldly but with- 
out insolence at the women and young girls. They grew unexpectedly 
out of the waste drear winter like splendid flowers. He was eager and 
alone. Fear is a dragon that lives among crowds and in armies. It 
lives hardly with men who are alone. He felt released beyond the last 
hedge of desperation. 

Freed and alone, he looked with a boding detachment at all the 
possessed and possessing world about him. Life hung for his picking 
fingers like a strange and bitter fruit. They the great clan huddled there 
behind the stockade for warmth and safety could hunt him down some 
day and put him to death: he thought they would. 

But he was not now afraid he was content, if only the struggle 
might be fruitful. He looked among the crowds printed with the mark 
of his danger, seeking that which he might desire and take. 

He went back to the university sealed up against the taunts of the 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 445 

young men: in the hot green Pullman they pressed about him with 
thronging jibe, but they fell back sharply, as fiercely he met them, with 
constraint. 

There came and sat beside him Tom French, his handsome face 
vested in the hard insolence of money. He was followed by his court 
jester, Roy Duncan, the slave with the high hard cackle. 

"Hello, Gant," said Tom French harshly. "Been to Exeter lately?" 
Scowling, he winked at grinning Roy. 

"Yes," said Eugene, "I've been there lately, and I'm on my way 
there now. What's it to you, French?" 

Discomfited by this hard defiance, the rich man's son drew back. 

"We hear you're stepping out among them, 'Gene," said Roy 
Duncan, cackling. 

"Who's we?" said Eugene. "Who's them?" 

"They say," said Tom French, "that you're as pure as the flowing 
sewer." 

"If I need cleaning," said Eugene, "I can always use the Gold Dust 
Twins, can't I? French and Duncan, the Gold Dust Twins who never 
do any work." 

The cluster of grinning students, the young impartial brutes who 
had gathered above them on the seats back and front, laughed loudly. 

"That's right! That's right! Talk to them, 'Genp!" said Zeno 
Cochran, softly. He was a tall lad of twenty, slender and powerful, with 
the grace of a running horse. He had punted against the wind for eighty 
yards in the Yale Bowl. He was a handsome fellow, soft-spoken and 
kindly, with the fearless gentleness of the athlete. 

Confused and angry, with sullen boastfulness, Tom French said: 

"Nobody has anything on me. I've been too slick for them. Nobody 
knows anything about me." 

"You mean," said Eugene, "that every one knows all about you, 
and nobody wants to know anything about you." 

The crowd laughed. 

"Wow!" said Jimmy Revell. 

"What about that, Tom?" he asked challengmgly. He was very 
small and plump, the son of a carpenter, offensively worthy, working 



446 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

his way through college by various schemes. He was a "kidder," an 
egger-on, finding excuse for his vulgarity and malice in a false and loud 
good-humor. 

Eugene turned quietly on Tom French. "Stop it!" he said. "Don't 
go on because the others are listening. I don't think it's funny. I don't 
like it. I don't like you. I want you to leave me alone now. Do you 
hear?" 

"Come on," said Roy Duncan, rising, "leave him alone, Tom. He 
can't take a joke. He takes things too seriously." 

They left him. Unperturbed, relieved, he turned his face toward 
the vast bleak earth, gray and hoary in the iron grip of winter. 

Winter ended. The sleety frozen earth began to soften under thaw 
and the rain. The town and campus paths were dreary trenches of mud 
and slime. The cold rain fell: the grass shot up in green wet patches. 
He hurtled down the campus lanes, bounding along like a kangaroo, 
leaping high at the lower boughs to clip a budding twig with his teeth. 
He cried loudly in his throat a whinnying squeal the centaur-cry of 
man or beast, trying to unburden its overladen heart in one blast of 
pain and joy and passion. At other times he slouched by, depressed by 
an unaccountable burden of weariness and dejection. 

He lost count of the hours he had no sense of time no regular 
periods for sleep, work, or recreation, although he attended his classes 
faithfully, and ate with fair regularity by compulsion of dming-hall or 
boarding-house schedules. The food was abundant, coarse, greasily and 
badly cooked. It was very cheap : at the college commons, twelve dollars 
a month; at the boarding-houses, fifteen. He ate at the commons for a 
month: his interest in food was too profound and too intelligent to stand 
it longer. The commons was housed in a large bleak building of white 
brick. It was called officially Stiggins Hall, but, in the more descriptive 
epithet of the students The Sty. 

He went to see Helen and Hugh Barton several times. They lived 
thirty-five miles away at Sydney, the State capital. It was a town of 
thirty thousand people, sleepy, with quiet leafy pavements, and a cap- 
hoi Square in the centre, with radial streets. At the head of the main 




street, across from the capitol, a brown weathered building of lichened 
stone, was a cheap hotel the largest and most notorious brothel in 
town. There were also three denominational colleges for young women. 

The Bartons had rented quarters in an old house on the street above 
the Governor's Mansion. They lived in three or four rooms on the 
ground floor. 

It was to Sydney that Gant had come, a young man, from Baltimore, 
on his slow drift to the South. It was in Sydney that he had first started 
business for himself and conceived, from the loss of his first investments, 
his hatred of property. It was in Sydney that he had met and wedded 
the sainted Cynthia, the tubercular spinstress who had died within two 
years of their marriage. 

Their father's great ghost haunted them: it brooded over the town, 
above the scouring oblivion of the years that wipes all trace of us away. 

Together, they hunted down into the mean streets, until they stood 
at length before a dreary shop on the skirts of the negro district. 

"This must be it," she said. "His shop stood here. It's gone now." 



448 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

She was silent a moment. "Poor old Papa." She turned her wet 
eyes away. 

There was no mark of his great hand on this bleak world. No vines 
grew round the houses. That part of him which had lived here was 
buried buried with a dead woman below the long gray tide of the years. 
They stood quietly, frightened, in that strange place, waiting to hear 
the summons of his voice, with expectant unbelief, as some one looking 
for the god in Brooklyn. 

In April the nation declared war on Germany. Before the month 
was out, all the young men at Pulpit Hill who were eligible those who 
were twenty-one were going into service. At the gymnasium he watched 
the doctors examine them, envying them the careless innocence with 
which they stripped themselves naked. They threw off their clothes in 
indifferent heaps and stood, laughing and certain, before the doctors. 
They were clean-limbed, sound and white of tooth, graceful and fast 
in their movements. The fraternity men joined first those merry and 
extravagant snobs of whom he had never known, but who now repre- 
sented for him the highest reach of urbane and aristocratic life. He had 
seen them, happy and idle, on the wide verandas of their chapter 
houses those temples where the last and awful rites of initiation were 
administered. He had seen them, always together, and from the herd 
of the uninitiated always apart, laughing over their mail at the post- 
office, or gambling for "black cows," at the drug store. And, with a 
stab of failure, with regret, with pain at his social deficiency, he had 
watched their hot campaigns for the favor of some desirable freshman 
some one vastly more elegant than himself, some one with blood and 
with money. They were only the sons of the little rich men, the lords 
of the village and county, but as he saw them go so surely, with such 
laughing unconstraint, in well-cut clothes, well-groomed, well-brushed, 
among the crowd of humbler students, who stiffened awkwardly with 
peasant hostility and constraint, they were the flower of chivalry, the 
sons of the mansion-house. They were Sydney, Raleigh, Nash. And 
now, like gentlemen, they were going to war. 

The gymnasium was thick with the smell of steam and of sweating 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 449 

men coming in to the showers from the playing fields. Washed, with 
opened shirt, Eugene walked slowly away into the green budding shade 
of the campus, companioned by an acquaintance, Ralph Hendrix. 

"Look!" said Ralph Hendrix, in a low angry tone. "Look at that, 
will you!" He nodded toward a group of students ahead. "That little 
Horse's Neck is booting the Dekes all over the campus." 

Eugene looked, then turned to examine the bitter common face 
beside him. Every Saturday night, after the meeting of the literary 
society, Ralph Hendrix went to the drug-store and bought two cheap 
cigars. He had bent narrow shoulders, a white knobby face, and a low 
forehead. He spoke in a monotonous painful drawl. His father was 
foreman in a cotton mill. 

"They're all Horse's Necks," he said. "They can go to hell before 
I'll boot to get in." 

"Yes," said Eugene. 

But he wanted to get in. He wanted to be urbane and careless. He 
wanted to wear well-cut clothes. He wanted to be a gentleman. He 
wanted to go to war. 

On the central campus, several students who had been approved 
by the examining board, descended from the old dormitories, bearing 
packed valises. They turned down under the trees, walking toward the 
village street. From time to time they threw up an arm in farewell. 

"So long, boys! See you in Berlin." The shining and dividing sea 
was closer and not so wide. 

He read a great deal but at random, for pleasure. He read Defoe, 
Smollet, Sterne, and Fielding the fine salt of the English novel lost, 
during the reign of the Widow of Windsor, beneath an ocean of tea 
and molasses. He read the tales of Boccaccio, and all that remained of 
a tattered copy of the Heptameron. At Buck Benson's suggestion, he 
read Murray's Euripides (at the time he was reading the Greek text of 
the Alcestis noblest and loveliest of all the myths of Love and Death). 
He saw the grandeur of the Prometheus fable but the fable moved him 
more than the play of ^schylus. In fact, ^schylus he found sublime 
and dull: he could not understand his great reputation. Rather he 



450 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

could. He was Literature a writer of masterpieces. He was almost as 
great a bore as Cicero that windy old moralist who came out so boldly 
in favor of Old Age and Friendship. Sophocles was an imperial poet 
he spoke like God among flashes of lightning: the CEdipus Rex is not 
only one of the greatest plays in the world, it is one of the greatest 
stories. This story perfect, inevitable, and fabulous wreaked upon 
him the nightmare coincidence of Destiny. It held him birdhke before 
its great snake-eye of wisdom and horror. And Euripides (whatever the 
disparagement of pedantry) he thought one of the greatest lyrical singers 
in all poetry. 

He liked all weird fable and wild invention, in prose or verse, from 
the Golden Ass to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the chief prince of the moon 
and magic. But he liked the fabulous wherever he found it, and for 
whatever purpose. 

The best fabulists have often been the greatest satirists: satire (as 
with Aristophanes, Voltaire, and Swift) is a high and subtle art, quite 
beyond the barnyard snipings and wholesale geese-slaughterings of the 
present degenerate age. Great satire needs the sustenance of great fable. 
Swift's power of invention is incomparable: there's no better fabulist 
in the world. 

He read Poe's stories, Frankenstein, and the plays of Lord Dunsany. 
He read Sir Gawayne and the Greene Knight and the Book of Tobit. 
He did not want his ghosts and marvels explained. Magic was magic. 
He wanted old ghosts not Indian ghosts, but ghosts m armor, the 
spirits of old kings, and pilhoned ladies with high coned hats. Then, for 
the first time, he thought of the lonely earth he dwelt on. Suddenly, it 
was strange to him that he should read Euripides there in the wilderness. 

Around him lay the village; beyond, the ugly rolling land, sparse 
with cheap farmhouses; beyond all this, America more land, more 
wooden houses, more towns, hard and raw and ugly. He was reading 
Euripides, and all around him a world of white and black was eating 
fried food. He was reading of ancient sorceries and old ghosts, but did 
an old ghost ever come to haunt this land? The ghost of Hamlet's 
Father, in Connecticut. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 451 

" I am thy father's spirit, 

Doomed for a certain term to walk the night 
Between Bloommgton and Portland, Maine." 

He felt suddenly the devastating impermanence of the nation. Only 
the earth endured the gigantic American earth, bearing upon its awful 
breast a world of flimsy rickets. Only the earth endured this broad 
terrific earth that had no ghosts to haunt it. Stogged in the desert, half- 
broken and overthrown, among the columns of lost temples strewn, there 
was no ruined image of Menkaura, there was no alabaster head of 
Akhnaton. Nothing had been done in stone. Only this earth endured, 
upon whose lonely breast he read Euripides. Within its hills he had 
been held a prisoner; upon its plain he walked, alone, a stranger. 

O God! O God! We have been an exile in another land and a 
stranger in our own. The mountains were our masters: they went home 
to our eye and our heart before we came to five. Whatever we can do 
or say must be forever hillbound. Our senses have been fed by our 
terrific land; our blood has learned to run to the imperial pulse of 
America which, leaving, we can never lose and never forget. We walked 
along a road in Cumberland, and stooped, because the sky hung down 
so low; and when we ran away from London, we went by little rivers in 
a land just big enough. And nowhere that we went was far: the earth 
and the sky were close and near. And the old hunger returned the 
terrible and obscure hunger that haunts and hurts Americans, and that 
makes us exiles at home and strangers wherever we go. 

Eliza visited Helen in Sydney in the Spring. The girl was quieter, 
sadder, more thoughtful than she had ever been. She was subdued by 
the new life: chastened by her obscurity. She missed Gant more than 
she would confess. She missed the mountain town. 

"What do you have to pay for this place?" said Eliza, looking 
around critically. 

"Fifty dollars a month," said Helen. 

"Furnished?" 

"No, we had to buy furniture." 



452 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"I tell you what, that's pretty high," said Eliza, "just for down 
stairs. I believe rents are lower at home." 

"Yes, I know it's high," said Helen. "But good heavens, mama! 
Do you realize that this is the best neighborhood in town? We're only 
two blocks from the Governor's Mansion, you know. Mrs. Mathews 
is no common boarding-house keeper, I can assure you! No sir!" she 
exclaimed, laughing. "She's a real swell goes to all the big functions 
and gets in the papers all the time. You know Hugh and I have 
got to try to keep up appearances. He's a young man just starting out 
here." 

"Yes. I know," Eliza agreed thoughtfully. "How's he been doing?" 

"OToole says he's the best agent he's got," said Helen. "Hugh's 
all right. We could get along together anywhere, as long as there's no 
damned family about. It makes me furious at times to see him slaving 
to feather O'Toole's pockets. He works like a dog. You know, OToole 
gets a commission on every sale he makes. And Mrs. O'T. and those two 
girls ride around in a big car and never turn their hands over. They're 
Catholics, you know, but they get to go everywhere." 

"I tell you what," said Eliza with a timid half-serious smile, "it 
might not be a bad idea if Hugh became his own boss. There's no use 
doing it all for the other fellow. Say, child!" she exclaimed, "why 
wouldn't it be a good idea if he tried to get the Altamont agency? I 
don't believe that fellow they've got is much account. He could get it 
without trying." 

There was a pause. 

"We've been thinking of that," the girl admitted slowly. "Hugh 
has written in to the main office. Anyway," she said a moment later, 
"he'd be his own boss. That's something." 

"Well," said Eliza slowly, "I don't know but what it'd be a good 
idea. If he works hard there's no reason why he shouldn't build a good 
business up. Your papa's been complaining here lately about his 
trouble. He'd be glad to have you back." She shook her head slowly 
for a moment. "Child! they didn't do him a bit of good, up there. It's 
all come back." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 453 

They drove over to Pulpit Hill at Easter for a two days' visit. 
Eliza took him to Exeter and bought him a suit of clothes. 

"I don't like those skimpy trousers," she told the salesman. "I 
want something that makes him look more of a man." 

When he was newly dressed, she puckered her lips, smiling, and 
said: 

"Spruce up, boy! Throw your shoulders back! That's one thing 
about your father he carries himself straight as an arrow. If you go 
all humped over like that, you'll have lung trouble before you're twenty- 
five." 

"I want you to meet my mother," he said awkwardly to Mr. Joseph 
Ballantyne, a smooth pink young man who had been elected president 
of the Freshman class. 

"You're a good smart-looking fellow," said Eliza smiling, "I'll 
make a trade with you. If you drum up some boarders for me among 
your friends here in this part of the State, I'll throw in your board free. 
Here are some of my cards," she added, opening her purse. "You might 
hand a few of them out, if you get a chance, and say a good word for 
Dixieland in the Land of the Sky." 

"Yes, ma'am," said Mr. Ballantyne, in a slow surprised voice, "I 
certainly will." 

Eugene turned a hot distressed face toward Helen. She laughed 
huskily, ironically, then turning to the boy, said: 

"You're welcome at any time, Mr. Ballantyne, boarders or not. 
We'll always find a place for you." 

When they were alone, in answer to his stammering and confused 
protests, she said with an annoyed grin: 

"Yes, I know. It's pretty bad. But you're away from it most of 
the time. You're the lucky one. You see what I've had to listen to, the 
last week, don't you? You see, don't you?" 



When he went home at the end of the year, late in May, he found 
that Helen and Hugh Barton had preceded him. They were living with 



454 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Gant, at Woodson Street. Hugh Barton had secured the Altamont 
agency. 

The town and the nation boiled with patriotic frenzy violent, in a 
chaotic sprawl, to little purpose. The spawn of Attila must be crushed 
("exterminated," said the Reverend Mr. Smallwood) by the sons of 
freedom. There were loans, bond issues, speech-making, a talk of drafts, 
and a thin trickle of Yankees into France. Pershing arrived in Paris, 
and said, "Lafayette, we are here!", but the French were still looking. 
Ben went up before the enlistment board and was rejected. "Lungs 
weak!" they said quite definitely. "No not tubercular. A tendency. 
Underweight." He cursed. His face was a little more like a blade 
thinner, grayer. The cleft of his scowl was deeper. He seemed more 
alone. 

Eugene came up into the hills again and found them in their rich 
young summer glory. Dixieland was partly filled by paying guests. 
More arrived. 

Eugene was sixteen years old. He was a College Man. He walked 
among the gay crowd of afternoon with a sense of elation, answering 
the hearty greetings with joy, warming to its thoughtless bombast. 

"They tell me you're batting a thousand down there, son," yelled 
Mr. Wood, the plump young pharmacist, who had been told nothing 
at all. "That's right, boy! Go get 'em." The man passed forward 
cheerfully, up the prosperous glade of his store. Fans droned. 

After all, Eugene thought, he had not done so badly. He had felt 
his first wounds. He had not been broken. He had seen love's bitter 
mystery. He had lived alone. 




30 

Ihere was at Dixieland a girl named Laura James. She was 
twenty-one years old. She looked younger. She was there when he 
came back. 

Laura was a slender girl, of medium height, but looking taller than 
she was. She was very firmly moulded: she seemed fresh and washed 
and clean. She had thick hair, very straight and blonde, combed in a 
flat bracelet around her small head. Her face was white, with small 
freckles. Her eyes were soft, candid, cat-green. Her nose was a little too 
large for her face: it was tilted. She was not pretty. She dressed very 
simply and elegantly in short plaid skirts and waists of knitted silk. 

She was the only young person at Dixieland. Eugene spoke to her 
with timid hauteur. He thought her plain and dull. But he began to sit 
with her on the porch at night. Somehow, he began to love her. 

He did not know that he loved her. He talked to her arrogantly 
and boastfully as they sat in the wooden porch-swing. But he breathed 
the clean perfume of her marvellous young body. He was trapped in 
the tender cruelty of her clear green eyes, caught in the subtle net of her 
smile, 

455 



456 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Laura James lived in the eastern part of the State, far east even of 
Pulpit Hill, in a little town built on a salt river of the great coastal plain. 
Her father was a wealthy merchant a wholesale provisioner. The girl 
was an only child: she spent extravagantly. 

Eugene sat on the porch rail one evening and talked to her. Before, 
he had only nodded, or spoken stiffly a word or two. They began 
haltingly, aware painfully of gaps in their conversation. 

"You're from Little Richmond, aren't you?" he said. 

"Yes," said Laura James, "do you know any one from there?" 

"Yes," said he, "I know John Bynum and a boy named Ficklen. 
They're from Little Richmond, aren't they?" 

"Oh, Dave Ficklen! Do you know him? Yes. They both go to 
Pulpit Hill. Do you go there?" 

"Yes," he said, "that's where I knew them." 

"Do you know the two Barlow boys? They're Sigma Nus," said 
Laura James. 

He had seen them. They were great swells, football men. 

"Yes, I know them," he said, "Roy Barlow and Jack Barlow." 

"Do you know 'Snooks' Warren? He's a Kappa Sig." 

"Yes. They call them Keg Squeezers," said Eugene. 

"What fraternity are you?" said Laura James. 

"I'm not any," he said painfully. "I was just a Freshman this 
year." 

"Some of the best friends I have never joined fraternities," said 
Laura James. 

They met more and more frequently, without arrangement, until 
by silent consent they met every night upon the porch. Sometimes they 
walked along the cool dark streets. Sometimes he squired her clumsily 
through the town, to the movies, and later, with the uneasy pugnacity 
of youth, past the loafing cluster at Wood's. Often he took her to 
Woodson Street, where Helen secured for him the cool privacy of the 
veranda. She was very fond of Laura James. 

"She's a nice girl. A lovely girl. I like her. She's not going to take 
any beauty prizes, is she?" She laughed with a trace of good-natured 
ridicule. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 457 

He was displeased. 

"She looks all right," he said. "She's not as ugly as you make out." 

But she was ugly with a clean lovely ugliness. Her face was 
freckled lightly, over her nose and mouth: her features were eager, 
unconscious, turned upward in irregular pertness. But she was exqui- 
sitely made and exquisitely kept: she had the firm young line of Spring, 
budding, slender, virginal. She was like something swift, with wings, 
which hovers in a wood among the feathery trees suspected, but 
uncaught, unseen. 

He tried to live before her in armor. He showed off before her. 
Perhaps, he thought, if he were splendid enough, she would not see the 
ugly disorder and meanness of the world he dwelt in. 

Across the street, on the wide lawn of the Brunswick the big brick 
gabled house that Eliza once had coveted Mr. Pratt, who crawled in 
that mean world in which only a boarding-house husband can exist, 
was watering wide green spaces of lawn with a hose. The flashing water 
motes gleamed in the red glare of sunset. The red light fell across the 
shaven pinched face. It glittered on the buckles of his arm-bands. 
Across the walk, on the other lobe of grass, several men and women 
were playing croquet. There was laughter on the vine-hid porch. Next 
door, at the Belton, the boarders were assembled on the long porch in 
bright hash-house chatter. The comedian of the Dixie Ramblers arrived 
with two chorus girls. He was a little man, with the face of a weasel 
and no upper teeth. He wore a straw hat with a striped band, and a 
blue shirt and collar. The boarders gathered in around him. In a 
moment there was shrill laughter. 

Julius Arthur sped swiftly down the hill, driving his father home. 
He grinned squintily and flung his arm up in careless greeting. The 
prosperous lawyer twisted a plump Van Dyked face on a wry neck 
curiously. Unsmiling, he passed. 

A negress in the Brunswick struck on the several bells of a Japanese 
gong. There was a scramble of feet on the porch; the croquet players 
dropped their mallets and walked rapidly toward the house. Pratt 
wound his hose over a wooden reel. 

A slow bell-clapper in the Belton sent the guests in a scrambling 
drive for the doors. In a moment there was a clatter of heavy plates and 



458 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

a loud foody noise. The guests on the porch at Dixieland rocked more 
rapidly, with low mutters of discontent. 

Eugene talked to Laura in thickening dusk, sheeting his pain in 
pride and indifference. Eliza's face, a white blur in the dark, came up 
behind the screen. 

"Come on out, Mrs. Gant, and get a breath of fresh air," said 
Laura James. 

"Why no-o, child. I can't now. Who's that with you?" she cried, 
obviously flustered. She opened the door. "Huh? Heh? Have you 
seen 'Gene? Is it 'Gene?" 

"Yes," he said. "What's the matter?' 5 

"Come here a minute, boy," she said. 

He went into the hall. 

"What is it?" he asked. 

"Why, son, what in the world! I don't know. You'll have to do 
something," she whispered, twisting her hands together. 

"What is it, mama? What are you talking about?" he cried 
irritably. 

"Why Jannadeau's just called up. Your papa's on a rampage 
again and he's coming this way. Child! There's no telling what hell 
do. I've all these people in the house. He'll rum us." She wept. "Go 
and try to stop him. Head him off if you can. Take him to Woodson 
Street." 

He got his hat quickly and ran through the door. 

"Where are you going?" asked Laura James. "Are you going off 
without supper?" 

"I've got to go to town,** he said. "I won't be long. Will you wait 
for me?" 

"Yes," she said. 

He leaped down on the walk just as his father lurched in from the 
street by the high obscuring hedge that shut the house from the spacious 
yard of the attorney Hall. Gant reeled destructively, across a border of 
lilies, on to the lawn, and strode for the veranda. He stumbled, cursing, 
on the bottom step and plunged forward in a sprawl upon the porch. 
The boy jumped for him, and half dragged, half lifted his great drunken 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 459 

body erect. The boarders shrank into a huddle with a quick scattering 
of chairs: he greeted them with a laugh of howling contempt. 

"Are you there? I say, are you there? The lowest of the low 
boarding-house swine! Merciful God! What a travesty! A travesty on 
Nature! That it should come to this!" 

He burst into a long peal of maniacal laughter. 

"Papa! Come on!" said Eugene in a low voice. He took his father 
cautiously by the sleeve. Gant flung him half across the porch with a 
gesture of his hand. As he stepped in again swiftly, his father struck at 
him with a flailing arm. He evaded the great mowing fist without 
trouble, and caught the falling body, swung from its own pivot, in his 
arms. Then quickly, before Gant could recover, holding him from 
behind, he rushed him toward the door. The boarders scattered away 
like sparrows. But Laura James was at the screen before him: she flung 
it open. 

"Get away! Get away!" he cried, full of shame and anger. "You 
stay out of this." For a moment he despised her for seeing his hurt. 

"Oh, let me help you, my dear," Laura James whispered. Her eyes 
were wet, but she was not afraid. 

Father and son plunged chaotically down the wide dark hall, Eliza, 
weeping and making gestures, just before them. 

"Take him in here, boy. Take him in here," she whispered, motion- 
ing to a large bed- room on the upper side of the house. Eugene propelled 
his father through a blind passage of bath room, and pushed him over 
on the creaking width of an iron bed. 

"You damned scoundrel!" Gant yelled, again trying to reap him 
down with the long arm, "let me up or I'll kill you!" 

"For God's sake, papa," he implored angrily, "try to quiet down. 
Every one in town can hear you." 

"To hell with them!" Gant roared. "Mountain Grills all of them, 
fattening upon my heart's-blood. They have done me to death, as sure 
as there's a God in heaven." 

Eliza appeared in the door, her face contorted by weeping. 

"Son, can't you do something to stop him?" she said. "He'll ruin 
us all. He'll drive every one away." 



460 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Gant struggled to stand erect when he saw her. Her white face 
stirred him to insanity. 

"There it is! There! There! Do you see! The fiend-face I know 
so well, gloating upon my misery. Look at it! Look! Do you see its 
smile of evil cunning? Greeley, Will, The Hog, The Old Major! The 
Tax Collector will get it all, and I shall die in the gutter!" 

"If it hadn't been for me," Eliza began, stung to retaliation, "you'd 
have died there long ago." 

"Mama, for God's sake!" the boy cried. "Don't stand there talking 
to him! Can't you see what it does to him! Do something, in heaven's 
name! Get Helen! Where is she?" 

"I'll make an end to it all!" Gant yelled, staggering erect. "I'll do 
for us both now." 

Eliza vanished. 

"Yes, sir, papa. It's going to be all right," Eugene began sooth- 
ingly, pushing him back on the bed again. He dropped quickly to his 
knees, and began to draw off one of Gant's soft tongueless shoes, mut- 
tering reassurances all the time: "Yes, sir. We'll get you some good 
hot soup and put you to bed in a jiffy. Everything's going to be all right," 
the shoe came off in his hand and, aided by the furious thrust of his 
father's foot, he went sprawling back. 

Gant got to his feet again and, taking a farewell kick at his fallen 
son, lunged toward the door. Eugene scrambled up quickly, and leaped 
after him. The two men fell heavily into the roughly grained plaster of 
the wall. Gant cursed, flailing about clumsily at his tormentor. Helen 
came in. 

"Baby!" Gant wept, "they're trying to kill me. O Jesus, do some- 
thing to save me, or I perish." 

"You get back in that bed," she commanded sharply, "or I'll 
knock your head off." 

Very obediently he suffered himself to be led back to bed and 
undressed. In a few minutes she was sitting beside him with a bowl of 
smoking soup. He grinned sheepishly as she spooned it into his opened 
mouth. She laughed almost happily thinking of the lost and irre- 
vocable years. Suddenly, before he slept, he lifted himself strongly from 




the pillows that propped him, and with staring eyes, called out in savage 
terror : 

"Is it a cancer? I say, is it a cancer?" 
"Hush!" she cried. "No. Of course not! Don't be foolish." 
He fell back exhausted, with eyes closed. But they knew that it was. 
He had never been told. The terrible name of his malady was never 
uttered save by him. And in his heart he knew what they all knew 
and never spoke of before him that it was, it was a cancer. All day, 



462 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

with fear-stark eyes, Gant had sat, like a broken statue, among his 
marbles, drinking. It was a cancer. 

The boy's right hand bled very badly across the wrist, where his 
father's weight had ground it into the wall. 

"Go wash it off," said Helen. "I'll tie it up for you." 

He went into the dark bathroom and held his hand under a jet of 
lukewarm water. A very quiet despair was in his heart, a weary peace 
that brooded too upon the house of death and tumult, that flowed, like 
a soft exploring wind, through its dark halls, bathing all things quietly 
with peace and weariness. The boarders had fled like silly sheep to the 
two houses across the street: they had eaten there, they were clustered 
there upon the porches, whispering. And their going brought him peace 
and freedom, as if his limbs had been freed from a shackling weight. 
Eliza, amid the slow smoke of the kitchen, wept more quietly over the 
waste of supper; he saw the black mournful calm of the negress's face. 
He walked slowly up the dark hall, with a handkerchief tied loosely 
round his wound. He felt suddenly the peace that comes with despair. 
The sword that pierces very deep had fared through the folds of his poor 
armor of pride. The steel had shared his side, had bitten to his heart. 
But under his armor he had found himself. No more than himself could 
be known. No more than himself could be given. What he was he 
was: evasion and pretense could not add to his sum. With all his heart 
he was glad. 

By the door, in the darkness, he found Laura James. 

"I thought you had gone with the others," he said. 

"No," said Laura James, "how is your father?" 

"He's all right now. He's gone to sleep," he answered. "Have you 
had anything to eat?" 

"No," she said, "I didn't want it." 

"I'll bring you something from the kitchen," he said. "There's 
plenty there." In a moment he added: "I'm sorry, Laura." 

"What are you sorry for?" she asked. 

He leaned against the wall limply, drained of his strength at her 
touch. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 463 

"Eugene. My dear," she said. She pulled his drooping face down 
to her hps and kissed him. "My sweet, my darling, don't look like that.'* 
All his resistance melted from him. He seized her small hands, 
crushing them in his hot fingers, and devouring them with kisses. 

"My dear Laura! My dear Laura!" he said in a choking voice. 
"My sweet, my beautiful Laura! My lovely Laura. I love you, I love 
you." The words rushed from his heart, incoherent, unashamed, foam- 
ing through the broken levees of pride and silence. They clung together 
in the dark, with their wet faces pressed mouth to mouth. Her perfume 
went drunkenly to his brain; her touch upon him shot through his 
limbs a glow of magic; he felt the pressure of her narrow breasts, eager 
and lithe, against him with a sense of fear as if he had dishonored 
her with a sickening remembrance of his defilement. 

He held between his hands her elegant small head, so gloriously 
wound with its thick bracelet of fine blonde hair, and spoke the words 
he had never spoken the words of confession, filled with love and 
humility. 

"Don't go! Don't go! Please don't go!" he begged. "Don't leave, 
dear. Please!" 

"Hush!" she whispered. "I won't go! I love you, my dear." 

She saw his hand, wrapped in its bloody bandage: she nursed it 
gently with soft little cries of tenderness. She fetched a bottle of iodine 
from her room and painted the stinging cut with a brush. She wrapped 
it with clean strips of fine white cloth, torn from an old waist, scented 
with a faint and subtle perfume. 

Then they sat upon the wooden swing. The house seemed to sleep 
in darkness. Helen and Eliza came presently from its very quiet depth. 

"How's your hand, 'Gene?" Helen asked. 

"It's all right," he said. 

"Let me see! O-ho, you've got a nurse now, haven't you?" she 
said, with a good laugh. 

"What's that? What's that? Hurt his hand? How'd you do that? 
Why, here say I've got the very thing for it, son," said Eliza, trying 
to bustle off in all directions. 

"Oh, it's all right now, mama. It's been fixed," he said wearily, 



464 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

reflecting that she had the very thing always too late. He looked at 
Helen grinning: 

"God bless our Happy Home!" he said. 

"Poor old Laura!" she laughed, and hugged the girl roughly with 
one hand. "It's too bad you have to be dragged into it." 

"That's all right," said Laura. "I feel like one of the family now 
anyhow." 

"He needn't think he can carry on like this," said Eliza resentfully. 
"Fm not going to put up with it any longer." 

"Oh forget about it!" said Helen wearily. "Good heavens, mama. 
Papa's a sick man. Can't you realize that?" 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza scornfully. "I don't believe there's a thing in 
the world wrong with him but that vile licker. All his trouble comes 
from that." 

"Oh how ridiculous! How ridiculous! You can't tell me!" Helen 
exclaimed angrily. 

"Let's talk about the weather," said Eugene. 

Then they all sat quietly, letting the darkness soak into them. 
Finally Helen and Eliza went back into the house: Eliza went unwill- 
ingly, at the girl's insistence, casting back the doubtful glimmer of her 
face upon the boy and girl. 

The wasting helve of the moon rode into heaven over the bulk of 
the hills. There was a smell of wet grass and lilac, and the vast brooding 
symphony of the million-noted little night things, rising and falling in a 
constant ululation, and inhabiting the heart with steady unconscious 
certitude. The pallid light drowned out the stars, it lay like silence on 
the earth, it dripped through the leafy web of the young maples, printing 
the earth with swarming moths of elvish light. 

Eugene and Laura sat with joined hands in the slowly creaking 
swing. Her touch shot through him like a train of fire: as he put his 
arm around her shoulders and drew her over to him, his fingers touched 
the live firm cup of her breast. He jerked his hand away, as if he had 
been stung, muttering an apology. Whenever she touched him, his flesh 
got numb and weak. She was a virgin, crisp like celery his heart shrank 
away from the pollution of his touch upon her. It seemed to him that 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 465 

he was much the older, although he was sixteen, and she twenty-one. 
He felt the age of his loneliness and his dark perception. He felt the 
gray wisdom of sin a waste desert, but seen and known. When he held 
her hand, he felt as if he had already seduced her. She lifted her lovely 
face to him, pert and ugly as a boy's; it was inhabited by a true and 
steadfast decency, and his eyes were wet. All the young beauty in the 
world dwelt for him in that face that had kept wonder, that had kept 
innocency, that had lived in such immortal blindness to the terror and 
foulness of the world. He came to her, like a creature who had travelled 
its life through dark space, for a moment of peace and conviction on 
some lonely planet, where now he stood, in the vast enchanted plain of 
moonlight, with moonlight falling on the moonflower of her face. For 
if a man should dream of heaven and, waking, find within his hand a 
flower as token that he had really been there what then, what then? 
"Eugene," she said presently, "how old are you?" 
His vision thickened with his pulse. In a moment he answered with 
terrible difficulty. 

"I'm just sixteen." 

"Oh, you child!" she cried. "I thought you were more than that!" 
"I'm old for my age," he muttered. "How old are you?" 
"I'm twenty-one," she said. "Isn't it a pity?" 
"There's not much difference," he said. "1 can't see that it matters." 
"Oh, my dear," she said. "It does' It matters so much!" 
And he knew that it did how much he did not know. But he had 
his moment. He was not afraid of pain, he was not afraid of loss. He 
cared nothing for the practical need of the world. He dared to say the 
strange and marvellous thing that had bloomed so darkly in him. 

"Laura," he said, hearing his low voice sound over the great plain 
of the moon, "let's always love each other as we do now. Let's never 
get married. I want you to wait for me and to love me forever. I am 
going all over the world. I shall go away for years at a time; I shall 
become famous, but I shall always come back to you. You shall live 
in a house away in the mountains, you shall wait for me, and keep 
yourself for me. Will you?" he said, asking for her life as calmly as 
for an hour of her time. 



466 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Yes, dear," said Laura in the moonlight, "I will wait for you 
forever." 

She was buried in his flesh. She throbbed in the beat of his pulses. 
She was wine in his blood, a music in his heart. 

"He has no consideration for you or any one else," Hugh Barton 
growled. He had returned late from work at his office, to take Helen 
home. "If he can't do better than this, we'll find a house of our own. 
I'm not going to have you get down sick on account of him." 

"Forget about it," Helen said. "He's getting old." 

They came out on the veranda. 

"Come down to-morrow, honey," she said to Eugene. "I'll give 
you a real feed. Laura, you come too. It's not always like this, you 
know." She laughed, fondling the girl with a big hand. 

They coasted away downhill. 

"What a lovely girl your sister is," said Laura James. "Aren't you 
simply crazy about her?" 

Eugene made no answer for a moment. 

"Yes," he said. 

"She is about you. Any one can see that," said Laura. 

In the darkness he caught at his throat. 

"Yes," he said. 

The moon quartered gently across heaven. Eliza came out again, 
timidly, hesitantly. 

"Who's there? Who's there?" she spoke into the darkness. 
"Where's 'Gene? Oh! I didn't know! Are you there, son?" She knew 
very well. 

"Yes," he said. 

"Why don't you sit down, Mrs. Gant?" asked Laura. "I don't see 
how you stand that hot kitchen all day long. You must be worn out." 

"I tell you what!" said Eliza, peering dimly at the sky. "It's a fine 
night, isn't it? As the fellow says, a night for lovers." She laughed 
uncertainly, then stood for a moment in thought. 

"Son," she said in a troubled voice, "why don't you go to bed and 
get some sleep? It's not good for you staying up till all hours like this." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 467 

"That's where I should be," said Laura James, rising. 

"Yes, child," said Eliza. "Go get your beauty sleep. As the saying 
goes, early to bed and early to rise " 

"Let's all go, then. Let's all go!" said Eugene impatiently and 
angrily, wondering if she must always be the last one awake in that 
house. 

"Why law, no!" said Eliza. "I can't, boy. I've all those things to 
iron." 

Beside him, Laura gave his hand a quiet squeeze, and rose. Bitterly, 
he watched his loss. 

"Good-night, all. Good-night, Mrs. Gant." 

"Good-night, child." 

When she had gone, Eliza sat down beside him, with a sigh of 
weariness. 

"I tell you what," she said. "That feels good. I wish I had as much 
time as some folks, and could sit out here enjoying the air." In the 
darkness, he knew her puckering lips were trying to smile. 

"Hm!" she said, and caught his hand in her rough palm. "Has 
my baby gone and got him a girl?" 

"What of it? What if it were true?" he said angrily. "Haven't I a 
right as much as any one?" 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza. "You're too young to think of them. I 
wouldn't pay any attention to them, if I were you. Most of them haven't 
an idea in the world except going out to parties and having a good time. 
I don't want my boy to waste his time on them." 

He felt her earnestness beneath her awkward banter. He struggled 
in a chaos of confused fury, trying for silence. At last he spoke in a 
low voice, filled with his passion: 

"We've got to have something, mama. We've got to have some- 
thing, you know. We can't go on always alone alone." 

It was dark. No one could see. He let the gates swing open. He 
wept. 

"I know!" Eliza agreed hastily. "I'm not saying " 

"My God, my God, where are we going? What's it all about? 
He's dying can't you see it? Don't you know it? Look at his life. 



468 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Look at yours. No light, no love, no comfort nothing." His voice 
rose frantically: he beat on his ribs like a drum. "Mama, mama, in 
God's name, what is it? What do you want? Are you going to strangle 
and drown us all? Don't you own enough? Do you want more string? 
Do you want more bottles? By God, I'll go around collecting them if 
you say so." His voice had risen almost to a scream. "But tell me what 
you want. Don't you own enough? Do you want the town? What is 
it?" 

"Why, I don't know what you're talking about, boy," said Eliza 
angrily. "If I hadn't tried to accumulate a little property none of you 
would have had a roof to call your own, for your papa, I can assure 
you, would have squandered everything." 

"A roof to call our own!" he yelled, with a crazy laugh. "Good 
God, we haven't a bed to call our own. We haven't a room to call our 
own. We have not a quilt to call our own that might not be taken from 
us to warm the mob that rocks upon this porch and grumbles." 

"Now, you may sneer at the boarders all you like " Eliza began 
sternly. 

"No," he said. "I can't. There's not breath or strength enough in 
me to sneer at them all I like." 

Eliza began to weep. 

"I've done the best I could!" she said. "I'd have given you a home 
if I could. I'd have put up with anything after Grover's death, but he 
never gave me a moment's peace. Nobody knows what I've been 
through. Nobody knows, child. Nobody knows." 

He saw her face in the moonlight, contorted by an ugly grimace of 
sorrow. What she said, he knew, was fair and honest. He was touched 
deeply. 

"It's all right, mama," he said painfully. "Forget about it! I 
know." 

She seized his hand almost gratefully and laid her white face, still 
twisted with her grief, against his shoulder. It was the gesture of a 
child: a gesture that asked for love, pity, and tenderness. It tore up great 
roots in him, bloodily. 

"Don't!" he said. "Don't, mama! Please!" 




"Nobody knows," said Eliza. "Nobody knows. I need some one 
too. I've had a hard life, son, full of pain and trouble." Slowly, like a 
child again, she wiped her wet weak eyes with the back of her hand. 

Ah, he thought, as his heart twisted in him full of wild pain and 
regret, she will be dead some day and I shall always remember this. 
Always this. This. 

They were silent a moment. He held her rough hand tightly, and 
kissed her. 

"Well," Eliza began, full of cheerful prophecy, "I tell you what: 
I'm not going to spend my life slaving away here for a lot of boarders. 
They needn't think it. I'm going to set back and take things as easy as 
any of them." She winked knowingly at him. "When you come home 



470 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

next time, you may find me living in a big house in Doak Park. I've 
got the lot the best lot out there for view and location, far better than 
the one W. J. Bryan has. I made the trade with old Dr. Doak himself, 
the other day. Look here! What about!" She laughed. "He said, 'Mrs. 
Gant, I can't trust any of my agents with you. If I'm to make anything 
on this deal, I've got to look out. You're the sharpest trader in this 
town.' 'Why, pshaw! Doctor,' I said (I never let on I believed him or 
anything), 'all I want is a fair return on my investment. I believe in 
every one making his profit and giving the other fellow a chance. Keep 
the ball a-rolling!' I said, laughing as big as you please. 'Why, Mrs. 
Gant!' he said " She was off on a lengthy divagation, recording with 
an absorbed gusto the interminable minutia of her transaction with the 
worthy Quinine King, with the attendant phenomena, during the time, 
of birds, bees, flowers, sun, clouds, dogs, cows, and people. She was 
pleased. She was happy. 

Presently, returning to an abrupt reflective pause, she said: "Well, 
I may do it. I, want a place where my children can come to see me and 
bring their friends, when they come home." 

"Yes," he said, "yes. That would be nice. You mustn't work all 
your life." 

He was pleased at her happy fable: for a moment he almost believed 
in a miracle of redemption, although the story was an old one to him. 

"I hope you do," he said. "It would be nice. . . . Go on to bed 
now, why don't you, mama? It's getting late." He rose. "I'm going 
now." 

"Yes, son," she said, getting up. "You ought to. Well, good-night." 
They kissed with a love, for the time, washed clean of bitterness. Eliza 
went before him into the dark house. 

But before he went to bed, he descended to the kitchen for matches. 
She was still there, beyond the long littered table, at her ironing board, 
flanked by two big piles of laundry. At his accusing glance she said 
hastily: 

"I'm a-going. Right away. I just wanted to finish up these towels." 

He rounded the table, before he left, to kiss her again. She fished 
into a button-box on the sewing-machine and dug out the stub of a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 471 

pencil. Gripping it firmly above an old envelope, she scrawled out on 
the ironing board a rough mapping. Her mind was still lulled in its 
project. 

"Here, you see," she began, "is Sunset Avenue, coming up the hill. 
This is Doak Place, running off here at right angles. Now this corner- 
lot here belongs to Dick Webster; and right here above it, at the very 
top is " 

Is, he thought, staring with dull interest, the place where the Buried 
Treasure lies. Ten paces N.N.E. from the Big Rock, at the roots of the 
Old Oak Tree. He went off into his delightful fantasy while she talked. 
What if there was a buried treasure on one of Eliza's lots? If she kept 
on buying, there might very well be. Or why not an oil-well? Or a coal- 
mine? These famous mountains were full (they said) of minerals. 150 
Bbl. a day right in the backyard. How much would that be? At $3.00 
a Bbl., there would be over $50.00 a day for every one in the family. 
The world is ours! 

"You see, don't you?" she smiled triumphantly. "And right there 
is where I shall build. That lot will bring twice its present value in five 
years." 

"Yes," he said, kissing her. "Good-night, mama. For God's sake, 
go to bed and get some sleep." 

"Good-night, son," said Eliza. 

He went out and began to mount the dark stairs. Benjamin Gant, 
entering at this moment, stumbled across a mission-chair in the hall. 
He cursed fiercely, and struck at the chair with his hand. Damn it! Oh 
damn it ! Mrs. Pert whispered a warning behind him, with a fuzzy laugh. 
Eugene paused, then mounted softly the carpeted stair, so that he would 
not be heard, entering the sleeping-porch at the top of the landing on 
which he slept. 

He did not turn on the light, because he disliked seeing the raw 
blistered varnish of the dresser and the bent white iron of the bed. It 
sagged, and the light was dim he hated dim lights, and the large moths, 
flapping blindly around on their dusty wings. He undressed in the moon. 
The moonlight fell upon the earth like a magic unearthly dawn. It wiped 
away all rawness, it hid all sores. It gave all common and familiar 



472 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

things the sagging drift of the barn, the raw shed of the creamery, the 
rich curve of the lawyer's crab-apple trees a uniform bloom of wonder. 
He lighted a cigarette, watching its red glowing suspiration in the mirror, 
and leaned upon the rail of his porch, looking out. Presently, he grew 
aware that Laura James, eight feet away, was watching him. The moon- 
light fell upon them, bathing their flesh in a green pallor, and steeping 
them in its silence. Their faces were blocked in miraculous darkness, out 
of which, seeing but unseen, their bright eyes lived. They gazed at each 
other in that elfin light, without speaking. In the room below them, the 
light crawled to his father's bed, swam up the cover, and opened across 
his face, thrust sharply upward. The air of the night, the air of the hills, 
fell on the boy's bare flesh like a sluice of clear water. His toes curled 
in to grip wet grasses. 

On the landing, he heard Mrs. Pert go softly up to bed, fumbling 
with blind care at the walls. Doors creaked and clicked. The house 
grew solidly into quiet, like a stone beneath the moon. They looked, 
waiting for a spell and the conquest of time. Then she spoke to him 
her whisper of his name was only a guess at sound. He threw his leg 
across the rail, and thrust his long body over space to the sill of her 
window, stretching out like a cat. She drew her breath in sharply, and 
cried out softly, "No! No!" but she caught his arms upon the sills and 
held him as he twisted in. 

Then they held each other tightly in their cool young arms, and 
kissed many times with young lips and faces. All her hair fell down 
about her like thick corn-silk, in a sweet loose wantonness. Her straight 
dainty legs were clad in snug little green bloomers, gathered in by an 
elastic above the knee. 

They were locked limb to limb: he kissed the smooth sheen of her 
arms and shoulders the passion that numbed his limbs was governed 
by a religious ecstasy. He wanted to hold her, and go away by himself 
to think about her. 

He stooped, thrusting his arm under her knees, and lifted her up 
exultantly. She looked at him frightened, holding him more tightly. 

"What are you doing?" she whispered. "Don't hurt me." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 473 

"I won't hurt you, my dear," he said. "I'm going to put you to 
bed. Yes. I'm going to put you to bed. Do you hear?" He felt he must 
cry out in his throat for joy. 

He carried her over and laid her on the bed. Then he knelt beside 
her, putting his arm beneath her and gathering her to him. 

"Good-night, my dear. Kiss me good-night. Do you love me?" 

"Yes." She kissed him. "Good-night, my darling. Don't go back 
by the window. You may fall." 

But he went, as he came, reaching through the moonlight exultantly 
like a cat. For a long time he lay awake, in a quiet delirium, his heart 
thudding fiercely against his ribs. Sleep crept across his senses with 
goose-soft warmth: the young leaves of the maples rustled, a cock 
sounded his distant elfin mmistrelsy, the ghost of a dog howled. He 
slept. 

He awoke with a high hot sun beating in on his face through the 
porch awnings. He hated to awake in sunlight. Some day he would 
sleep in a great room that was always cool and dark. There would be 
trees and vines at his windows, or the scooped-out lift of the hill. His 
clothing was wet with night-damp as he dressed. When he went down- 
stairs he found Gant rocking miserably upon the porch, his hand gripped 
over a walkingstick. 

"Good-morning," he said, "how do you feel?" 
His father cast his uneasy flickering eyes on him, and groaned. 
"Merciful God! I'm being punished for my sins." 
"You'll feel better in a little," said Eugene. "Did you eat anything?" 
"It stuck in my throat," said Gant, who had eaten heartily. "I 
couldn't swallow a bite. How's your hand, son?" he asked very humbly. 
"Oh, it's all right," said Eugene quickly. "Who told you about my 
hand?" 

"She said I had hurt your hand," said Gant sorrowfully. 
"Ah-h!" said the boy angrily. "No. I wasn't hurt." 
Gant leaned to the side and, without looking, clumsily, patted his 
son's uninjured hand. 



474 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"I'm sorry for what I've done," he said. "I'm a sick man. Do you 
need money?" 

"No," said Eugene, embarrassed. "I have all I need." 

"Come to the office to-day, and I'll give you something," said Gant. 
"Poor child, I suppose you're hard up." 

But instead, he waited until Laura James returned from her morning 
visit to the city's bathing-pool. She came with her bathing-suit in one 
hand, and several small packages in the other. More arrived by negro 
carriers. She paid and signed. 

"You must have a lot of money, Laura?" he said. "You do this 
every day, don't you?" 

"Daddy gets after me about it," she admitted, "but I love to buy 
clothes. I spend all my money on clothes." 

"What are you going to do now?" 

"Nothing whatever you like. It's a lovely day to do something, 
isn't it?" 

"It's a lovely day to do nothing. Would you like to go off some- 
where, Laura?" 

"I'd love to go off somewhere with you," said Laura James. 

"That is the idea, my girl. That is the idea," he said exultantly, in 
throaty and exuberant burlesque. "We will go off somewhere alone 
we will take along something to eat," he said lusciously. 

Laura went to her room and put on a pair of sturdy little slippers. 
Eugene went into the kitchen. 

"Have you a shoe-box?" he asked Eliza. 

"What do you want that for?" she said suspiciously. 

"I'm going to the bank," he said ironically. "I wanted something 
to carry my money in." But immediately he added roughly: 

"I'm going on a picnic." 

"Huh? Hah? What's that you say?" said Eliza. "A picnic? Who 
are you going with? That girl?" 

"No," he said heavily, "with President Wilson, the King of England, 
and Dr. Doak. We're going to have lemonade I've promised to bring 
the lemons." 

"I'll vow, boy!" said Eliza fretfully. "I don't hke it your running 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 475 

off this way when I need you. I wanted you to make a deposit for me, 
and the telephone people will disconnect me if I don't send them the 
money to-day." 

"Omama! For God's sake!" he cried annoyed. "You always need 
me when I want to go somewhere. Let them wait ! They can wait a day." 

"It's overdue," she said. "Well, here you are. I wish I had time to 
go off on picnics." She fished a shoe-box out of a pile of magazines 
and newspapers that littered the top of a low cupboard. 

"Have you got anything to eat?" 

"We'll get it," he said, and departed. 

They went down the hill, and paused at the musty little grocery 
around the corner on Woodson Street, where they bought crackers, 
peanut butter, currant jelly, bottled pickles, and a big slice of rich yellow 
cheese. The grocer was an old Jew who muttered jargon into a rabbi's 
beard as if saying a spell against Dybbuks. The boy looked closely to 
see if his hands touched the food. They were not clean. 

On their way up the hill, they stopped for a few minutes at Gant's. 
They found Helen and Ben in the dining-room. Ben was eating break- 
fast, bending, as usual, with scowling attention, over his coffee, turning 
from eggs and bacon almost with disgust. Helen insisted on contribut- 
ing boiled eggs and sandwiches to their provision: the two women went 
back into the kitchen. Eugene sat at table with Ben, drinking coffee. 

"O-oh my God!" Ben said at length, yawning wearily. He lighted 
a cigarette. "How's the Old Man this morning?" 

"He's all right, I think. Said he couldn't eat breakfast." 

"Did he say anything to the boarders?" 

" 'You damned scoundrels! You dirty Mountain Grills! Whee !' 
That was all." 

Ben snickered quietly. 

"Did he hurt your hand? Let's see." 

"No. You can't see anything. It's not hurt," said Eugene, lifting 
his bandaged wrist. 

"He didn't hit you, did he?'" asked Ben sternly. 

"Oh, no. Of course not. He was just drunk. He was sorry about 
it this morning." 



476 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Yes," said Ben, "he's always sorry about it after he's raised all 
the hell he can." He drank deeply at his cigarette, inhaling the smoke 
as if in the grip of a powerful drug. 

"How'd you get along at college this year, 'Gene?" he asked 
presently. 

"I passed my work. I made fair grades if that's what you mean? 
I did better this Spring," he added, with some difficulty. "It was hard 
getting started at the beginning." 

"You mean last Fall?" 

Eugene nodded. 

"What was the matter?" said Ben, scowling at him. "Did the other 
boys make fun of you?" 

"Yes," said Eugene, in a low voice. 

"Why did they? You mean they didn't think you were good enough 
for them? Did they look down on you? Was that it?" said Ben savagely. 

"No," said Eugene, very red in the face. "No. That had nothing 
to do with it. I look funny, I suppose. I looked funny to them." 

"What do^you mean you look funny?" said Ben pugnaciously. 
"There's nothing wrong with you, you know, if you didn't go around 
looking like a bum. In God's name," he exclaimed angrily, "when did 
you get that hair cut last? What do you think you are: the Wild Man 
from Borneo?" 

"I don't like barbers!" Eugene burst out furiously. "That's why! 
I don't want them to go sticking their damned dirty fingers in my mouth. 
Whose business is it, if I never get my hair cut?" 

"A man is judged by his appearance to-day," said Ben sententiously. 
"I was reading an article by a big business man in The Post the other 
day. He says he always looks at a man's shoes before he gives him a 
job." 

He spoke seriously, haltingly, in the same way that he read, without 
genuine conviction. Eugene writhed to hear his fierce condor prattle 
this stale hash of the canny millionaires, like any obedient parrot in a 
teller's cage. Ben's voice had a dull flat quality as he uttered these 
admirable opinions: he seemed to grope behind it all for some answer, 
with hurt puzzled eyes. As he faltered along, with scowling intensity, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



477 



through a success-sermon, there was something poignantly moving in 
his effort: it was the effort of his strange and lonely spirit to find some 
entrance into life to find success, position, companionship. And it was 
as if, spelling the words out with his mouth, a settler in the Bronx from 
the fat Lombard plain, should try to unriddle the new world by deciph- 
ering the World Almanac, or as if some woodsman, trapped by the 




winter, and wasted by an obscure and terrible disease, should hunt its 
symptoms and its cure in a book of Household Remedies. 

"Did the Old Man send you enough money to get along on?" 
Ben asked. "Were you able to hold your own with the other boys? 
He can afford it, you know. Don't let him stint you. Make him give it 
to you, 'Gene." 

"I had plenty," said Eugene, "all that I needed." 

"This is the time you need it not later," said Ben. "Make him 
put you through college. This is an age of specialization. They're 
looking for college-trained men." 

"Yes," said Eugene. He spoke obediently, indifferently, the hard 
bright mail of his mind undinted by the jargon: within, the Other One, 
who had no speech, saw. 

"So get your education," said Ben, scowling vaguely. "All the Big 



478 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Men Ford, Edison, Rockefeller whether they had it or not, say it's a 
good thing." 

"Why didn't you go yourself?" said Eugene curiously. 

"I didn't have any one to tell me," said Ben. "Besides, you don't 
think the Old Man would give me anything, do you?" He laughed 
cynically. "It's too late now." 

He was silent a moment; he smoked. 

"You didn't know I was taking a course in advertising, did you?" 
he asked, grinning. 

"No. Where?" 

"Through the Correspondence School," said Ben. "I get my lessons 
every week. I don't know," he laughed diffidently, "I must be good at 
it. I make the highest grades they have 98 or 100 every time. I get a 
diploma, if I finish the course." 

A blinding mist swam across the younger brother's eyes. He did 
not know why. A convulsive knot gathered in his throat. He bent his 
head quickly and fumbled for his cigarettes. In a moment he said: 

"I'm glad you're doing it. I hope you finish, Ben." 

"You know," Ben said seriously, "they've turned out some Big 
Men. I'll show you the testimonials some time. Men who started with 
nothing: now they're holding down big jobs." 

"I hope you do," said Eugene. 

"So, you see you're not the only College Man around here," said 
Ben with a grin. In a moment, he went on gravely: "You're the last 
hope, 'Gene. Go on and finish up, if you have to steal the money. The 
rest of us will never amount to a damn. Try to make something out of 
yourself. Hold your head up! You're as good as any of them a damn 
sight better than these little pimps about town." He became very fierce; 
he was very excited. He got up suddenly from the table. "Don't let 
them laugh at you! By God, we're as good as they are. If any of them 
laughs at you again, pick up the first damn thing you get your hand on 
and knock him down. Do you hear?" In his fierce excitement he 
snatched up the heavy carving steel from the table and brandished it. 

"Yes," said Eugene awkwardly. "I think it's going to be all right 
now. I didn't know how to do at first." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 479 

"I hope you have sense enough now to leave those old hookers 
alone?" said Ben very sternly. Eugene made no answer. "You can't 
do that and be anything, you know. And you're likely to catch every- 
thing. This looks like a nice girl," he said quietly, after a pause. "For 
heaven's sake, fix yourself up and try to keep fairly clean. Women 
notice that, you know. Look after your fingernails, and keep your 
clothes pressed. Have you any money?" 

"All 1 need," said Eugene, looking nervously toward the kitchen. 
"Don't, for God's sake!" 

"Put it in your pocket, you little fool," Ben said angrily, thrusting 
a bill into his hand. "You've got to have some money. Keep it until 
you need it." 

Helen came out on the high front porch with them as they departed. 
As usual, she had added a double heaping measure to what they needed. 
There was another shoe-box stuffed with sandwiches, boiled eggs, and 
fudge. 

She stood on the high step-edge, with a cloth wound over her head, 
her gaunt arms, pitted with old scars, akimbo. A warm sunny odor 
of nasturtiums, loamy earth, and honeysuckle washed round them its 
hot spermy waves. 

"Oho! A-ha!" she winked comically. "I know something! I'm 
not as blind as you think, you know " She nodded with significant 
jocularity, her big smiling face drenched in the curious radiance and 
purity that occasionally dwelt so beautifully there. He thought always, 
when he saw her thus, of a sky washed after rain, of wide crystalline 
distances, cool and clean. 

With a rough snigger she prodded him in the ribs: 

"Ain't love grand! Ha-ha-ha-ha! Look at his face, Laura." She 
drew the girl close to her in a generous hug, laughing, Oh, with laughing 
pity, and as they mounted the hill, she stood there, in the sunlight, her 
mouth slightly open, smiling, touched with radiance, beauty, and wonder. 

They mounted slowly toward the eastern edge of town, by the long 
upward sweep of Academy Street, which bordered the negro settlement 
sprawled below it. At the end of Academy Street, the hill loomed 



480 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

abruptly; a sinuous road, well paved, curved up along the hillside to the 
right. They turned into this road, mounting now along the eastern edge 
of Niggertown. The settlement fell sharply away below them, rushing 
down along a series of long clay streets. There were a few frame houses 
by the roadside: the dwellings of negroes and poor white people, but 
these became sparser as they mounted. They walked at a leisurely pace 
up the cool road speckled with little dancing patches of light that filtered 
through the arching trees and shaded on the left by the dense massed 
foliage of the hill. Out of this green loveliness loomed the huge raw 
turret of a cement reservoir: it was streaked and blotted coolly with 
water-marks. Eugene felt thirsty. Further along, the escape from a 
smaller reservoir roared from a pipe in a foaming hawser, as thick as a 
man's body. 

They climbed sharply up, along a rocky trail, avoiding the last 
long corkscrew of the road, and stood in the gap, at the road's summit. 
They were only a few hundred feet above the town: it lay before them 
with the sharp nearness of a Sienese picture, at once close and far. On 
the highest ground, he saw the solid masonry of the Square, blocked 
cleanly out in light and shadow, and a crawling toy that was a car, and 
men no bigger than sparrows. And about the Square was the treeless 
brick jungle of business cheap, ragged, and ugly, and beyond all this, 
in indefinite patches, the houses where all the people lived, with little 
bright raw ulcers of suburbia further off, and the healing and concealing 
grace of fair massed trees. And below him, weltering up from the hollow 
along the flanks and shoulders of the hill, was Niggertown. There seemed 
to be a kind of centre at the Square, where all the cars crawled in and 
waited, yet there was no purpose anywhere. 

But the hills were lordly, with a plan. Westward, they widened into 
the sun, soaring up from buttressing shoulders. The town was thrown 
up on the plateau like an encampment: there was nothing below him 
that could resist time. There was no idea. Below him, in a cup, he felt 
that all life was held: he saw it as might one of the old schoolmen writ- 
ing in monkish Latin a Theatre of Human Life; or like Peter Breughel, 
in one of his swarming pictures. It seemed to him suddenly that he had 
not come up on the hill from the town, but that he had come out of 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 481 

the wilderness like a beast, and was staring now with steady beast-eye 
at this little huddle of wood and mortar which the wilderness must one 
day repossess, devour, cover over. 

The seventh from the top was Troy but Helen had lived there; 
and so the German dug it up. 

They turned from the railing, with recovered wind, and walked 
through the gap, under Philip Roseberry's great arched bridge. To the 
left, on the summit, the rich Jew had his cattle, his stables, his horses 
his cows, and his daughters. As they went under the shadow of the 
bridge Eugene lifted his head and shouted. His voice bounded against 
the arch like a stone. They passed under and stood on the other side 
of the gap, looking from the road's edge down into the cove. But they 
could not yet see the cove, save for green glimmers. The hillside was 
thickly wooded, the road wound down its side in a white perpetual 
corkscrew. But they could look across at the fair wild hills on the 
other side of the cove, cleared half-way up their flanks with ample field 
and fenced meadow, and forested above with a billowing sea of greenery. 

The day was like gold and sapphires: there was a swift flash and 
sparkle, intangible and multifarious, like sunlight on roughened water, 
all over the land. A rich warm wind was blowing, turning all the leaves 
back the same way, and making mellow music through all the lute- 
strings of flower and grass and fruit. The wind moaned, not with the 
mad fiend-voice of winter in harsh boughs, but like a fruitful woman, 
deep-breasted, great, full of love and wisdom; like Demeter unseen and 
hunting through the world. A dog bayed faintly in the cove, his howl 
spent and broken by the wind. A cowbell tinkled gustily. In the thick 
wood below them the rich notes of birds fell from their throats, straight 
down, like nuggets. A woodpecker drummed on the dry unbarked hole 
of a blasted chestnut-tree. The blue gulf of the sky was spread with light 
massy clouds: they cruised like swift galleons, tacking across the hills 
before the wind, and darkening the trees below with their floating 
shadows. 

The boy grew blind with love and desire: the cup of his heart was 
glutted with all this wonder. It overcame and weakened him. He grasped 
the girl's cool fingers. They stood leg to leg, riven into each other's 



482 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

flesh. Then they left the road, cutting down across its loops along steep 
wooded paths. The wood was a vast green church; the bird-cries fell 
like plums. A great butterfly, with wings of blue velvet streaked with 
gold and scarlet markings, fluttered heavily before them in freckled sun- 
light, tottering to rest finally upon a spray of dogwood. There were light 
skimming noises in the dense undergrowth to either side, the swift 
bullet-shadows of birds. A garter snake, greener than wet moss, as long 
as a shoelace and no thicker than a woman's little finger, shot across the 
path, its tiny eyes bright with terror, its small forked tongue playing from 
its mouth like an electric spark. Laura cried out, drawing back in sharp 
terror; at her cry he snatched up a stone in a wild lust to kill the tiny 
creature that shot at them, through its coils, the old snake-fear, touching 
them with beauty, with horror, with something supernatural. But the 
snake glided away into the undergrowth and, with a feeling of strong 
shame, he threw the stone away. "They won't hurt you," he said. 

At length, they came out above the cove, at a forking of the road. 
They turned left, to the north, toward the upper and smaller end. To 
the south, the cove widened out in a rich little Eden of farm and pasture. 
Small houses dotted the land, there were green meadows and a glint of 
water. Fields of young green wheat bent rhythmically under the wind; 
the young corn stood waist-high, with light clashing blades. The 
chimneys of Rheinhart's house showed above its obscuring grove of 
maples; the fat dairy cows grazed slowly across the wide pastures. And 
further below, half tree-and-shrub-hidden, lay the rich acres of Judge 
Webster Tayloe. The road was thickly coated with white dust; it dipped 
down and ran through a little brook. They crossed over on white rocks, 
strewn across its bed. Several ducks, scarcely disturbed by their cross- 
ing, waddled up out of the clear water and regarded them gravely, like 
little children in white choir aprons. A young country fellow clattered 
by them in a buggy filled with empty milk-cans. He grinned with a 
cordial red face, saluting them with a slow gesture, and leaving behind 
an odor of milk and sweat and butter. A woman, in a field above 
them, stared curiously with shaded eyes. In another field, a man was 
mowing with a scythe, moving into the grass like a god upon his enemies, 
with a reaping hook of light. 




They left the road near the head of the cove, advancing over the 
fields on rising ground to the wooded cup of the hills. There was a 
powerful masculine stench of broad dock-leaves, a hot weedy odor. 
They moved over a pathless field, knee-high in a dry stubbly waste, 
gathering on their clothes clusters of brown cockle-burrs. All the field 
was sown with hot odorous daisies. Then they entered the wood again, 
mounting until they came to an island of tender grass, by a little brook 
that fell down from the green hill along a rocky ferny bed in bright 
cascades. 

"Let's stop here," said Eugene. The grass was thick with dande- 
lions : their poignant and wordless odor studded the earth with yellow 
magic. They were like gnomes and elves, and tiny witchcraft in flower 
and acorn. 

Laura and Eugene lay upon their backs, looking up through the 
high green shimmer of leaves at the Caribbean sky, with all its fleet of 
cloudy ships. The water of the brook made a noise like silence. The 
town behind the hill lay in another unthinkable world. They forgot its 
pain and conflict. 

"What time is it?" Eugene asked. For, they had come to a place 



484 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

where no time was. Laura held up her exquisite wrist, and looked at her 
watch. 

"Why!" she exclaimed, surprised. "It's only half-past twelve!" 

But he scarcely heard her. 

"What do I care what time it is!" he said huskily, and he seized 
the lovely hand, bound with its silken watch-cord, and kissed it. Her 
long cool fingers closed around his own; she drew his face down to her 
mouth. 

They lay there, locked together, upon that magic carpet, in that 
paradise. Her gray eyes were deeper and clearer than a pool of clear 
water; he kissed the little freckles on her rare skin; he gazed reverently 
at the snub tilt of her nose; he watched the mirrored dance of the 
sparkling water over her face. All of that magic world flower and 
field and sky and hill, and all the sweet woodland cries, sound and sight 
and odor grew into him, one voice in his heart, one tongue in his brain, 
harmonious, radiant, and whole a single passionate lyrical noise. 

"My dear! Darling! Do you remember last night?' 1 he asked 
fondly, as if recalling some event of her childhood. 

"Yes," she gathered her arms tightly about his neck, "why do you 
think I could forget it?" 

"Do you remember what I said what I asked you to do?" he 
insisted eagerly. 

"Oh, what are we going to do? What are we going to do?" she 
moaned, turning her head to the side and flinging an arm across her 
eyes. 

"What is it? What's the matter? Dear?" 

"Eugene my dear, you're only a child. I'm so old a grown 
woman." 

"You're only twenty-one," he said. "There's only five years' 
difference. That's nothing." 

"Oh!" she said. "You don't know what you're saying. It's all the 
difference in the world." 

"When I'm twenty, you'll be twenty-five. When I'm twenty-six, 
you'll be thirty-one. When I'm forty-eight, you'll be fifty-three. What's 
that?" he said contemptuously. "Nothing." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 485 

"Everything," she said, "everything. If I were sixteen, and you 
twenty-one it would be nothing. But you're a boy and I'm a woman. 
When you're a young man I'll be an old maid; when you grow old I 
shall be dying. How do you know where you'll be, what you'll be doing 
five years from now?" she continued in a moment. "You're only a 
boy you've just started college. You have no plans yet. You don't 
know what you're going to do." 

"Yes, I do!" he yelled furiously. "I'm going to be a lawyer. That's 
what they're sending me for. I'm going to be a lawyer, and I'm going 
into politics. Perhaps," he added with gloomy pleasure, "you'll be sorry 
then, after I make a name for myself." With bitter joy he foresaw his 
lonely celebrity. The Governor's Mansion. Forty rooms. Alone. Alone. 

"You're going to be a lawyer," said Laura, "and you're going 
everywhere in the world, and I'm to wait for you, and never get married. 
You poor kid!" She laughed softly. "You don't know what you're 
going to do." 

He turned a face of misery on her; brightness dropped from the 
sun. 

"You don't care?" he choked. "You don't care?" He bent his head 
to hide his wet eyes. 

"Oh, my dear," she said, "I do care. But people doiVt live like that. 
It's like a story. Don't you know that I'm a grown woman? At my age, 
dear, most girls have begun to think of getting married. What what if 
I had begun to think of it, too?" 

"Married!" The word came from him in a huge gasp of horror as 
if she had mentioned the abominable, proposed the unspeakable. Then, 
having heard the monstrous suggestion, he immediately accepted it as a 
fact. He was like that. 

"So! That's it!" he said furiously. "You're going to get married, 
eh? You have fellows, have you? You go out with them, do you? 
You've known it all the time, and you've tried to fool me " 

Nakedly, with breast bare to horror, he scourged himself, knowing 
in the moment that the nightmare cruelty of life is not in the remote and 
fantastic, but in the probable the horror of love, loss, marriage, the 
ninety seconds treason in the dark. 



486 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"You have fellows you let them feel you. They feel your legs, 
they play with your breasts, they " His voice became inaudible through 
strangulation. 

"No. No, my dear. I haven't said so," she rose swiftly to a sitting 
position, taking his hands. "But there's nothing unusual about getting 
married, you know. Most people do. Oh, my dear! Don't look like 
that! Nothing has happened. Nothing! Nothing!" 

He seized her fiercely, unable to speak. Then he buried his face in 
her neck. 

"Laura! My dear! My sweet! Don't leave me alone! I've been 
alone! I've always been alone!" 

"It's what you want, dear. It's what you'll always want. You 
couldn't stand anything else. You'd get so tired of me. You'll forget 
this ever happened. You'll forget me. You'll forget forget." 

"Forget! I'll never forget! I won't live long enough." 

"And I'll never love any one else! I'll never leave you! I'll wait 
for you forever! Oh, my child, my child!" 

They clung together in that bright moment of wonder, there on the 
magic island, where the world was quiet, believing all they said. And 
who shall say whatever disenchantment follows that we ever forget 
magic, or that we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple-tree, 
the singing, and the gold? Far out beyond that timeless valley, a train, 
on the rails for the East, wailed back its ghostly cry: life, like a fume of 
painted smoke, a broken wrack of cloud, drifted away. Their world was 
a singing voice again: they were young and they could never die. This 
would endure. 

He kissed her on her splendid eyes ; he grew into her young Maenad's 
body, his heart numbed deliciously against the pressure of her narrow 
breasts. She was as lithe and yielding to his sustaining hand as a willow 
rod she was bird-swift, more elusive in repose than the dancing water- 
motes upon her face. He held her tightly lest she grow into the tree 
again, or be gone amid the wood like smoke. 

Come up into the hills, O my young love. Return! O lost, and by 
the wind grieved, ghost, come back again, as first I knew you in the 
timeless valley, where we shall feel ourselves anew, bedded on magic in 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 



487 



the month of June. There was a place where all the sun went glistering 
in your hair, and from the hill we could have put a finger on a star. 
Where is the day that melted into one rich noise? Where the music of 
your flesh, the rhyme of your teeth, the dainty languor of your legs, 
your small firm arms, your slender fingers, to be bitten like an apple, 
and the little cherry-teats of your white breasts? And where are all the 
tiny wires of finespun maidenhair? Quick are the mouths of earth, and 
quick the teeth that fed upon this loveliness. You who were made for 
music, will hear music no more: in your dark house the winds are silent. 
Ghost, ghost, come back from that marriage that we did not foresee, 
return not into life, but into magic, where we have never died, into the 
enchanted wood, where we still lie, strewn on the grass. Come up into 
the hills, O my young love: return. O lost, and by the wind grieved, 
ghost, come back again. 





31 

One day, when June was coming to its end, Laura James said to 
him: 

"I shall have to go home next week." Then, seeing his stricken face, 
she added, "but only for a few days not more than a week." 

"But why? The summer's only started. You will bum up down 
there." 

"Yes. It's silly, I know. But my people expect me for the Fourth 
of July. You know, we have an enormous family hundred of aunts, 
cousins, and in-laws. We have a family re-union every year a great 
barbecue and picnic. I hate it. But they'd never forgive me if I didn't 
come." 

Frightened, he looked at her for a moment. 

"Laura! You're coming back, aren't you?" he said quietly. 

"Yes, of course," she said. "Be quiet." 

He was trembling violently; he was afraid to question her more 
closely. 

"Be quiet," she whispered, "quiet!" She put her arms around him. 

488 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 489 

He went with her to the station on a hot mid-afternoon. There 
was a smell of melted tar in the streets. She held his hand beside her in 
the rattling trolley, squeezing his fingers to give him comfort, and 
whispering from time to time: 

"In a week! Only a week, dear." 

"I don't see the need," he muttered. "It's over 400 miles. Just for 
a few days." 

He passed the old one-legged gateman on the station platform very 
easily, carrying her baggage. Then he sat beside her in the close green 
heat of the pullman until the train should go. A little electric fan droned 
uselessly above the aisle; a prim young lady whom he knew, arranged 
herself amid the bright new leather of her bags. She returned his greet- 
ing elegantly, with a shade of refined hauteur, then looked out the 
window again, grimacing eloquently at her parents who gazed at her 
raptly from the platform. Several prosperous merchants went down 
the aisle in expensive tan shoes that creaked under the fan's drone. 

"Not going to leave us, are you, Mr. Morris?" 

"Hello, Jim. No, I'm running up to Richmond for a few days." 
But even the gray weather of their lives could not deaden the excitement 
of that hot chariot to the East. 

"'Board!" 

He got up trembling. 

"In a few days, dear." She looked up, taking his hand in her small 
gloved palms. 

"You will write as soon as you get there? Please!" 

"Yes. To-morrow at once." 

He bent down suddenly and whispered, "Laura you will come 
back. You will come back!" 

She turned her face away and wept bitterly. He sat beside her once 
more; she clasped him tightly as if he had been a child. 

"My dear, my dear! Don't forget me ever!" 

"Never. Come back. Come back." 

The salt print of her kiss was on his mouth, his face, his eyes. It 
was, he knew, the guttering candle-end of time. The train was in 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

motion. He leaped blindly up the passage with a cry in his throat. 

"Come back again!" 

But he knew. Her cry followed him, as if he had torn something 
from her grasp. 

Within three days he had his letter. On four sheets of paper, 
bordered with victorious little American flags, this: 

"My dear: I got home at half-past one, just too tired to move. I 
couldn't sleep on the train at all last night, it seemed to get hotter all 
the way down. I was so blue when I got here, I almost cried. Little 
Richmond is too ghastly for words everything burned up and every 
one gone away to the mountains or the sea. How can I ever stand it 
even for a week!" (Good! he thought. If the weather holds, she will 
come back all the sooner.) "It would be heaven now to get one breath 
of mountain air. Could you find your way back to our place in the 
valley again?" (Yes, even if I were blind, he thought.) "Will you promise 
to look after your hand until it gets well? I worried so after you had 
gone, because I forgot to change the bandage yesterday. Daddy was 
glad to see me: he said he was not going to let me go again but, don't 
worry, I'll have my own way in the end. I always do. I don't know any 
one at home any more all of the boys have enlisted or gone to work 
in the shipyards at Norfolk. Most of the girls I know are getting married, 
or married already. That leaves only the kids." (He winced. As old as 
I am, maybe older.) "Give my love to Mrs. Barton, and tell your 
mother I said she must not work so hard in that hot kitchen. And all 
the little cross-marks at the bottom are for you. Try to guess what 
they are. 

LAURA." 

He read her prosy letter with rigid face, devouring the words more 
hungrily than if they had been lyrical song. She would come back! She 
would come back ! Soon. 

There was another page. Weakened and relaxed from his excite- 
ment, he looked at it. There he found, almost illegibly written, but at 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 491 

last in her own speech, as if leaping out from the careful aimlessness 
of her letter, this note: 

"July 4. 

"Richard came yesterday. He is twenty-five, works in Norfolk. 
I've been engaged to him almost a year. We're going off quietly to 
Norfolk to-morrow and get married. My dear! My dear! I couldn't 
tell you! I tried to, but couldn't. I didn't want to lie. Everything else 
was true. I meant all I said. If you hadn't been so young, but what's 
the use of saying that? Try to forgive me, but please don't forget me. 
Good-by and God bless you. Oh, my darling, it was heaven! 1 shall 
never forget you." 

1 When he had finished the letter, he re-read it, slowly and carefully. 
Then he folded it, put it in his inner breast-pocket, and leaving Dixie- 
land, walked for forty minutes, until he came up in the gap over the 
town again. It was sunset. The sun's vast nm, blood-red, rested upon 
the western earth, in a great field of murky pollen. It sank beyond the 
western ranges. The clear sweet air was washed with gold and pearl. 
The vast hills melted into purple solitudes: they were like Canaan and 
rich grapes. The motors of cove people toiled up around the horse-shoe 
of the road. Dusk came. The bright winking lights in the town went 
up. Darkness melted over the town like dew: it washed out all the 
day's distress, the harsh confusions. Low wailing sounds came faintly 
up from Niggertown. 

And above him the proud stars flashed into heaven: there was one, 
so rich and low, that he could have picked it, if he had climbed the hill 
beyond the Jew's great house. One, like a lamp, hung low above the 
heads of men returning home. (O Hesperus, you bring us all good 
things.) One had flashed out the light that winked on him the night that 
Ruth lay at the feet of Boaz; and one on Queen Isolt; and one on 
Corinth and on Troy. It was night, vast brooding night, the mother of 
loneliness, that washes our stains away. He was washed in the great 
river of night, in the Ganges tides of redemption. His bitter wound 
was for the moment healed in him: he turned his face upward to the 
proud and tender stars, which made him a god and a grain of dust, the 



492 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

brother of eternal beauty and the son of death alone, alone. 

"Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" Helen laughed huskily, prodding him in the 
ribs. "Your girl went and got married, didn't she? She fooled you. 
You got left." 

"Wh-a-a-a-t!" said Eliza banteringly, "has my boy been as the 
fellow says" (she sniggered behind her hand) "has my boy been a- 
courtin'?" She puckered her lips in playful reproach. 

"Oh, for God's sake," he muttered angrily, "What fellow says!" 

His scowl broke into an angry grin as he caught his sister's eye. 
They laughed. 

"Well, 'Gene," said the girl seriously, "forget about it. You're only 
a kid yet. Laura is a grown woman." 

"Why, son," said Eliza with a touch of malice, "that girl was 
fooling you all the time. She was just leading you on." 

"Oh, stop it, please." 

"Cheer up!" said Helen heartily. "Your time's coming. You'll 
forget her in a week. There are plenty more, you know. This is puppy 
love. Show her that you're a good sport. You ought to write her a 
letter of congratulation." 

"Why, yes," said Eliza, "I'd make a big joke of it all. I wouldn't 
let on to her that it affected me. I'd write her just as big as you please 
and laugh about the whole thing. I'd show them! That's what I'd " 

"Oh, for God's sake!" he groaned, starting up. "Leave me alone, 
won't you?" 

He left the house. 

But he wrote the letter. And the moment after the lid of the mail- 
box clanged over it, he was writhen by shame. For it was a proud and 
boastful letter, salted with scatterings of Greek, Latin, and English 
verse, quotable scraps, wrenched into the text without propriety, without 
accuracy, without anything but his pitiful and obvious desire to show 
her his weight in the point of his wit, the depth of his learning. She 
would be sorry when she knew her loss! But, for a moment at the end, 
his fiercely beating heart stormed through: 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 493 

". . . and I hope he's worth having you he can't deserve you, 
Laura; no one can. But if he knows what he has, that's something. 
How lucky he is! You're right about me I'm too young. I'd cut off 
my hand now for eight or ten years more. God bless and keep you, 
my dear, dear Laura. 

"Something in me wants to burst. It keeps trying to, but it won't, 
it never has. O God! If it only would! I shall never forget you. I'm 
lost now and I'll never find the way again. In God's name write me a 
line when you get this. Tell me what your name is now you never 
have. Tell me where you're going to live. Don't let me go entirely, I 
beg of you, don't leave me alone." 

He sent the letter to the address she had given him to her father's 
house. Week melted into week: his life mounted day by day in a terrible 
tension to the delivery of the mail, morning and afternoon, fell then 
into a miasmic swamp when no word came. July ended. The summer 
waned. She did not write. 

Upon the darkening porch, awaiting food, the boarders rocked, 
oh rocked with laughter. 

The boarders said: "Eugene's lost his girl. He doesn't know what 
to do, he's lost his girl." 

"Well, well! Did the Old Boy lose his girl?" 

The little fat girl, the daughter of one of the two fat sisters whose 
husbands were hotel clerks in Charleston, skipped to and from him, in 
slow May dance, with fat calves twinkling brownly above her socks. 

"Lost his girl! Lost his girl! Eugene, Eugene, has lost his girl." 

The fat little girl skipped back to her fat mother for approbation: 
they regarded each other with complacent smiles loosely netted in their 
full-meated mouths. 

"Don't let them kid you, big boy. What's the matter: did some one 
get your girl?" asked Mr. Hake, the flour salesman. He was a dapper 
young man of twenty-six years, who smoked large cigars; he had a 
tapering face, and a high domey head, bald on top, fringed sparsely 
with fine blond hair. His mother, a large grass-widow near fifty, with 
the powerful craggy face of an Indian, a large mass of dyed yellow hair, 



494 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

and a coarse smile, full of gold and heartiness, rocked mightily, laughing 
with hoarse compassion: 

"Git another girl, 'Gene. Why, law! I'd not let it bother me two 
minutes." He always expected her to spit, emphatically, with gusto, 
after speaking. 

"You should worry, boy. You should worry!" said Mr. Parrel, of 
Miami, the dancing instructor. "Women are like street-cars : if you miss 
one, there's another along in fifteen minutes. Ain't that right, lady?" 
he said pertly, turning to Miss Clark, of Valdosta, Georgia, for whom 
it had been uttered. She answered with a throaty confused twiddle-giggle 
of laughter. "Oh, aren't men the awfullest " 

Leaning upon the porch rail in the thickening dusk, Mr. Jake Clapp, 
a well-to-do widower from Old Hominy, pursued his stealthy courtship 
of Miss Florry Mangle, the trained nurse. Her limp face made a white 
blot in the darkness; she spoke in a tired whine: 

"I thought she was too old for him when I saw her. 'Gene's only 
a kid. He's taken it hard, you can tell by looking at him how miserable 
he is. He's going to get sick if he keeps on at this rate. He's thin as a 
bone. He hardly eats a bite. People get run down like that and catch 
the first disease that comes along " 

Her melancholy whine continued as Jake's stealthy thigh fumbled 
against her. She kept her arms carefully folded across her sagging 
breasts. 

In the gray darkness, the boy turned his starved face on them. His 
dirty clothes lapped round his scarecrow body: his eyes burned like a 
cat's in the dark, his hair fell over his forehead in a matted net. 

"He'll git over it," said Jake Clapp, in a precise country drawl, 
streaked with a note of bawdry. "Every boy has got to go through the 
Calf-Love stage. When I was about 'Gene's age " He pressed his hard 
thigh gently against Florry, grinning widely and thinly with a few gold 
teeth. He was a tall solid man, with a hard precise face, lewdly decorous, 
and slanting Mongol eyes. His head was bald and knobby. 

"He'd better watch out," whined Florry sadly. "I know what I'm 
talking about. That boy's not strong he has no business to go prowling 
around to all hours the way he does. He's on the verge of " 

Eugene rocked gently on his feet, staring at the boarders with a 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 495 

steady hate. Suddenly he snarled like a wild beast, and started down the 
porch, unable to speak, reeling, but snarling again and again his choking 
and insane fury. 

"Miss Brown" meanwhile sat primly at the end of the porch, a 
little apart from the others. From the dark sun-parlor at the side came 
swiftly the tall elegant figure of Miss Irene Mallard, twenty-eight, of 
Tampa, Florida. She caught him at the step edge, and pulled him round 
sharply, gripping his arms lightly with her cool long fingers. 

"Where are you going, 'Gene?" she said quietly. Her eyes of light 
violet were a little tired. There was a faint exquisite perfume of rosewater. 

"Leave me alone!" he muttered. 

"You can't go on like this," she said in a low tone. "She's not 
worth it none of them are. Pull yourself together." 

"Leave me alone!" he said furiously. "I know what I'm doing!" 
He wrenched away violently, and leaped down into the yard, plunging 
around the house in a staggering run. 

"Ben!" said Irene Mallard sharply. 

Ben rose from the dark porch-swing where he had been sitting with 
Mrs. Pert. 

"See if you can't do something to stop him," said Irene Mallard. 

"He's crazy," Ben muttered. "Which way did he go?" 

"By there around the house. Go quick!" 

Ben went swiftly down the shallow steps and loped back over the 
lawn. The yard sloped sharply down: the gaunt back of Dixieland was 
propped upon a dozen rotting columns of whitewashed brick, fourteen 
feet high. In the dim light, by one of these slender piers, already mined 
with crumbling ruins of wet brick, the scarecrow crouched, toiling with 
the thin grapevine of his arms against the temple. 

"I will kill you, House," he gasped. "Vile and accursed House, I 
will tear you down. I will bring you down upon the whores and boarders. 
I will wreck you, House." 

Another convulsion of his shoulders brought down a sprinkling rain 
of dust and rubble. 

"I will make you fall down on all the people in you, House," he 
said. 

"Fool!" cried Ben, leaping upon him, "what are you trying to do?" 



496 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

He caught the boy's arms from behind and dragged him back. "Do 
you think you can bring her back to you by wrecking the house? Are 
there no other women in the world, that you should let one get the best 
of you like this?" 

"Let me go! Let me go!" said Eugene. "What does it matter to 
you?" 

"Don't think, fool, that I care," said Ben fiercely. "You're hurting 
no one but yourself. Do you think you'll hurt the boarders by pulling 
the house down on your own head? Do you think, idiot, that any one 
cares if you kill yourself?" He shook the boy. "No. No. I don't care 
what you do, you know. I simply want to save the family the trouble 
and expense of burying you." v ^ * J * ' ^^y ^| N ^ V^*~ 

With a great cry of rage and bafflement Eugene tried to free himself^ 



But the older brother held on as desperately as the(QJd Man of the Sea 
Then, with a great effort of his hands and shoulders, the boy lifted his 
captor off the ground, and dashed him back against the white brick wall 
of the cellar. Ben collapsed, releasing him, with a fit of dry coughing, 
holding his hand against his thin breast. 

"Don't be a fool," he gasped. 

"Did I hurt you?" said Eugene dully. 

"No. Go into the house and wash yourself. You ought to comb 
your hair once or twice a week, you know. You can't go around like a 
wild man. Get something to eat. Have you any money?" 

"Yes I have enough." 

"Are you all right now?" 

"Yes don't talk about it, please." 

"I don't want to talk about it, fool. I want you to learn a little 
sense," said Ben. He straightened, brushing his whitened coat. In a 
moment, he went on quietly: "To hell with them, 'Gene. To hell with 
them all. Don't let them worry you. Get all that you can. Don't give 
a damn for anything. Nothing gives a damn for you. To hell with it 
all ! To hell with it ! There are a lot of bad days. There are a lot of good 
ones. You'll forget. There are a lot of days. Let it go." 

"Yes," said Eugene wearily, "let it go. It's all right now. I'm too 
tired. When you get tired you don't care, do you? I'm too tired to 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 497 

care. I'll never care any more. I'm too tired. The men in France get 
tired and don't care. If a man came and pointed a gun at me now, I 
wouldn't be scared. I'm too tired." He began to laugh, loosely, with a 
sense of delicious relief. "I don't care for any one or anything. I've 
always been afraid of everything, but when 1 got tired I didn't care. 
That's how I shall get over everything. I shall get tired." 

Ben lighted a cigarette. 

"That's better," he said. "Let's get something to eat." He smiled 
thinly. "Come along, Samson." 

They walked out slowly around the house. 

He washed himself, and ate a hearty meal. The boarders finished, 
and wandered off into the darkness variously some to the band-concert 
on the Square, some to the moving-pictures, some for walks through 
the town. When he had fed he went out on the porch. It was dark and 
almost empty save where, at the side, Mrs. Selborne sat in the swing 
with a wealthy lumber man from Tennessee. Her low rich laughter 
bubbled up softly from the vat of the dark. "Miss Brown" rocked 
quietly and decorously by herself. She was a heavily built and quietly 
dressed woman of thirty-nine years, touched with that slightly comic 
primness that careful gentility that marks the conduct of the pros- 
titute incognito. She was being very refined. She was a perfect lady and 
would, if aroused, assert the fact. 

< "Miss Brown" lived, she said, in Indianapolis. She was not ugly: 
her face was simply permeated with the implacable dullness of the Mid- 
Westerner. In spite of the lewdness of her wide thin mouth, her look 
was smug. She had a fair mass of indifferent brown hair, rather small 
brown eyes, and a smooth russet skin. 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza. "I don't believe her name's 'Miss Brown' any 
more than mine is." 

There had been rain. The night was cool and black; the flower- 
bed before the house was wet, with a smell of geraniums and drenched 
pansies. He lighted a cigarette, sitting upon the rail. "Miss Brown" 
rocked. 



498 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"It's turned off cool," she said. "That little bit of rain has done a 
lot of good, hasn't it?" 

"Yes, it was hot," he said. "I hate hot weather." 

"I can't stand it either," she said. "That's why I go away every 
summer. Out my way we catch it. You folks here don't know what 
hot weather is." 

"You're from Milwaukee, aren't you?" 

"Indianapolis." 

"I knew it was somewhere out there. Is it a big place?" he asked 
curiously. 

"Yes. You could put Altamont in one corner of it and never miss 
it." 

"How big is it?" he said eagerly. "How many people have you 
there?" 

"I don't know exactly over three hundred thousand with the 
suburbs." 

He reflected with greedy satisfaction. 

"Is it pretty? Are there a lot of pretty houses and fine buildings?" 

"Yes I think so," she said reflectively. "It's a nice homelike 
place." 

"What are the people like? What do they do? Are they rich?" 

"Why yes. It's a business and manufacturing place. There are a 
lot of rich people." 

"I suppose they live in big houses and ride around in big cars, 
eh?" he demanded. Then, without waiting for a reply, he went on: "Do 
they have good things to eat? What?" 

She laughed awkwardly, puzzled and confused. 

"Why, yes. There's a great deal of German cooking. Do you like 
German cooking?" 

"Beer!" he muttered lusciously. "Beer eh? You make it out 
there?" 

"Yes." She laughed, with a voluptuous note in her voice. "I believe 
you're a bad boy, Eugene." 

"And what about the theatres and libraries? You have lots of 
shows, don't you?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 499 

"Yes. A lot of good shows come to Indianapolis. All the big hits 
in New York and Chicago." 

"And a library you have a big one, eh?" 

"Yes. We have a nice library." 

"How many books has it?" 

"Oh, I can't say as to that. But it's a good big library." 

"Over 100,000 books, do you suppose? They wouldn't have half a 
million, would they?" He did not wait for an answer, he was talking 
to himself. "No, of course not. How many books can you take out at 
a time? What?" 

The great shadow of his hunger bent over her; he rushed out of 
himself, devouring her with his questions. 

"What are the girls like? Are they blonde or brunette? What?" 

"Why, we have both kinds more dark than fair, I should say." 
She looked through the darkness at him, grinning. 

"Are they pretty?" 

"Well! I can't say. You'll have to draw your own conclusions, 
Eugene. I'm one of them, you know." She looked at him with demure 
lewdness, offering herself for inspection. Then, with a laugh of teasing 
reproof, she said: "I believe you're a bad boy, Eugene. I believe you're 
a bad boy." 

He lighted another cigarette feverishly. 

"I'd give anything for a smoke," muttered "Miss Brown." "I don't 
suppose I could here?" She looked round her. 

"Why not?" he said impatiently. "There's no one to see you. It's 
dark. What does it matter anyway?" 

Little electric currents of excitement played up his spine. 

"I believe I will," she whispered. "Have you got a cigarette?" 

He gave her his package; she stood up to receive the flame he 
nursed in his cupped hands. She leaned her heavy body against him as, 
with puckered face and closed eyes, she held her cigarette to the fire. 
She grasped his shaking hands to steady the light, holding them for a 
moment after. 

"What," said "Miss Brown," with a cunning smile, "what if your 
mother should see us? You'd catch it!" 



500 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"She'll not see us," he said. "Besides," he added generously, "why 
shouldn't women smoke the same as men? There's no harm in it." 

"Yes," said "Miss Brown," "I believe in being broad-minded about 
these things, too." 

But he grinned in the dark, because the woman had revealed herself 
with a cigarette. It was a sign the sign of the province, the sign 
unmistakable of debauchery. 

Then, when he laid his hands upon her, she came very passively 
into his embrace as he sat before her on the rail. 

"Eugene! Eugene!" she said in mocking reproof. 

"Where is your room?" he said. 

She told him. 

Later, Eliza came suddenly and silently out upon them, on one of 
her swift raids from the kitchen. 

"Who's there? Who's there?" she said, peering into the gloom 
suspiciously. "Huh? Hah? Where's Eugene? Has any one seen Eugene?" 
She knew very well he was there. 

"Yes, here I am," he said. "What do you want?" 

"Oh! Who's that with you? Hah?" 

" 'Miss Brown' is with me." 

"Won't you come out and sit down, Mrs. Gant?" said "Miss 
Brown." "You must be tired and hot." 

"Oh!" said Eliza awkwardly, "is that you, 'Miss Brown'? I couldn't 
see who it was." She switched on the dim porch light. "It's mighty dark 
out here. Some one coming up those steps might fall and break a leg. 
1 tell you what," she continued conversationally, "this air feels good. 
I wish I could let everything go and just enjoy myself." 

She continued in amiable monologue for another half hour, her 
eyes probing about swiftly all the time at the two dark figures before 
her. Then hesitantly, by awkward talkative stages, she went into the 
house again. 

"Son," she said before she went, troubled, "it's getting late. You'd 
better go to bed. That's where we all ought to be." 

"Miss Brown" assented gracefully and moved toward the door. 

"I'm going now. I feel tired. Good-night, all." 




He sat quietly on the rail, smoking, listening to the noises in the 
house. It went to sleep. He went back and found Eliza preparing to 
retire to her little cell. 

4 "Son!" she said, in a low voice, after shaking her puckered face 
reproachfully for a moment, "I tell you what I don't like it. It doesn't 
look right your sitting out alone with that woman. She's old enough 
to be your mother." 

"She's your boarder, isn't she?" he said roughly, "not mine. I 
didn't bring her here." 

"There's one thing sure," said Eliza, wounded. "You don't catch 
me associating with them. I hold up my head as high as any one." She 
smiled at him bitterly. 

"Well, good-night, mama," he said, ashamed and hurt. "Let's 
forget about them for a while. What does it matter?" 

"Be a good boy," said Eliza timidly. "I want you to be a good boy, 
son." 

There was a sense of guilt in her manner, a note of regret and 
contrition. 

"Don't worry!" he said, turning away suddenly, wrenched bitterly, 
as he always was, by a sense of the child-like innocence and steadfastness 
that lay at the bottom of her life. "It's not your fault if I'm not. I 
shan't blame you. Good-night." 



502 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

The kitchen-light went out; he heard his mother's door click gently. 
Through the dark house a shaft of air blew coolly. Slowly, with thudding 
heart, he began to mount the stairs. 

But on that dark stair, his foot-falls numbed in the heavy carpet, 
he came squarely upon a woman's body that, by its fragrance, like 
magnolia, he knew was that of Mrs. Selborne. They held each other 
sharply by the arms, discovered, with caught breath. She bent toward 
him: a few strands of her blonde hair brushed his face, leaving it aflame. 

"Hush-h!" she whispered. 

So they paused there, holding each other, breast to breast, the only 
time that they had ever touched. Then, with their dark wisdom of each 
other confirmed, they parted, each a sharer in the other's life, to meet 
thereafter before the world with calm untelling eyes. 

He groped softly back along the dark corridor until he came to the 
door of "Miss Brown's" room. It was slightly ajar. He went in. 

She took all his medals, all that he had won at Leonard's school 
the one for debating, the one for declaiming, the one in bronze for 
William Shakespeare. W. S. 1616-1916 Done for a Ducat! 

He had no money to give her: she did not want much a coin or 
two at a time. It was, she said, not the money: it was the principle of 
the thing. He saw the justice of her argument. 

"For," said she, "if I wanted money, I wouldn't fool with you. 
Somebody tries to get me to go out every day. One of the richest men 
in this town (old man Tyson) has been after me ever since I came. He's 
offered me ten dollars if I'll go out in his car with him. I don't need 
your money. But you've got to give me something. I don't care how 
little it is. I wouldn't feel decent unless you did. I'm not one of your 
little Society Chippies that you see every day uptown. I've too much 
self-respect for that." 

So, in lieu of money, he gave her his medals as pledges. 

"If you don't redeem them," said "Miss Brown," "I'll give them to 
my own son when I go home." 

"Have you a son?" 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 503 

"Yes. He's eighteen years old. He's almost as tall as you are and 
twice as broad. All the girls are mad about him." 

He turned his head away sharply, whitening with a sense of nausea 
and horror, feeling in him an incestuous pollution. 

"That's enough, now," said "Miss Brown" with authority. "Go to 
your room and get some sleep." 

But, unlike the first one in the tobacco town, she never called him 
"son." 

"Poor Butterfly, for her heart was break-king, 
Poor Butterfly, for she loved him so-o " 

Miss Irene Mallard changed the needle of the little phonograph in 
the sun-parlor, and reversed the well-worn record. Then as with stately 
emphasis, the opening measure of "Katinka" paced out, she waited for 
him, erect, smiling, slender, beautiful, with long lovely hands held up 
like wings to his embrace. She was teaching him to dance. Laura James 
had danced beautifully : it had maddened him to see her poised in the 
arms of a young man dancing. Now, clumsily, he moved off on a con- 
scientious left foot, counting to himself. One, two, three, four! Irene 
Mallard slipped and veered to his awkward pressure, as bodiless as a 
fume of smoke. Her left hand rested on his bony shoulder lightly as a 
bird: her cool fingers were threaded into his hot sawing palm. 

She had thick hair of an oaken color, evenly parted in the middle; 
her skin was pearl-pale, and transparently delicate; her jaw was long, 
full, and sensuous her face was like that of one of the pre-Raphaelite 
women. She carried her tall graceful body with beautiful erectness, but 
with the slightly worn sensuousness of fragility and weariness: her lovely 
eyes were violet, always a little tired, but full of slow surprise and tender- 
ness. She was like a Luini madonna, mixed of holiness and seduction, 
the world and heaven. He held her with reverent care, as one who would 
not come too near, who would not break a sacred image. Her exquisite 
and subtle perfume stole through him like a strange whisper, pagan and 
divine. He was afraid to touch her and his hot palm sweated to her 
fingers. 



504 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

Sometimes she coughed gently, smiling, holding a small crumpled 
handkerchief, edged with blue, before her mouth. 

She had come to the hills not because of her own health, but 
because of her mother's, a woman of sixty-five, rustily dressed, with the 
petulant hang-dog face of age and sickness. The old woman suffered 
from asthma and heart-disease. They had come from Florida. Irene 
Mallard was a very capable business woman; she was the chief book- 
keeper of one of the Altamont banks. Every evening Randolph Gudger, 
the bank president, telephoned her. 

Irene Mallard pressed her palm across the mouthpiece of the tele- 
phone, smiling at Eugene ironically, and rolling her eyes entreatingly 
aloft. 

Sometimes Randolph Gudger drove by and asked her to go with 
him. The boy went sulkily away until the rich man should leave: the 
banker looked bitterly after him. 

"He wants me to marry him, 'Gene," said Irene Mallard. "What 
am I going to do?" 

"He's old enough to be your grandfather," said Eugene. "He has 
no hair on the top of his head; his teeth are false, and I don't know 
what-all!" he said resentfully. 

"He's a rich man, 'Gene," said Irene, smiling. "Don't forget that." 

"Go on, then! Go on!" he cried furiously. "Yes go ahead. Marry 
him. It's the right thing for you. Sell yourself. He's an old man!" he 
said melodramatically. Randolph Gudger was almost forty-five. 

But they danced there slowly in a gray light of dusk that was like 
pain and beauty; like the lost light undersea, in which his life, a lost 
merman, swam, remembering exile. And as they danced she, whom he 
dared not touch, yielded her body unto him, whispering softly to his ear, 
pressing with slender fingers his hot hand. And she, whom he would not 
touch, lay there, like a sheaf of grain, in the crook of his arm, token of 
the world's remedy the refuge from the one lost face out of all the 
faces, the anodyne against the wound named Laura a thousant flitting 
shapes of beauty to bring him comfort and delight. The great pageantry 
of pain and pride and death hung through the dusk its awful vision, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 505 

touching his sorrow with a lonely ioy. He had lost; but all pilgrimage 
across the world was loss: a moment of cleaving, a moment of tak- 
ing away, the thousand phantom shapes that beaconed, and the high 
impassionate grief of stars. 

It was dark. Irene Mallard took him by the hand and led him out 
on the porch. 

"Sit down here a moment, 'Gene. I want to talk to you." Her voice 
was serious, low-pitched. He sat beside her in the swing, obediently, 
with the sense of an impending lecture. 

"I've been watching you these last few days," said Irene Mallard. 
"I know what's been going on." 

"What do you mean?" he said thickly, with thudding pulses. 

"You know what I mean," said Irene Mallard sternly. "Now you're 
too fine a boy, 'Gene, to waste yourself on that Woman. Any one can 
see what she is. Mother and I have both talked about it. A woman 
like that can ruin a young boy like you. You've got to stop it." 

"How did you know about it?" he muttered. He was frightened 
and ashamed. She took his trembling hand and held it between her 
cool palms until he grew quieter. But he drew no closer to her: he 
halted, afraid, before her loveliness. As with Laura James, she seemed 
too high for his passion. He was afraid of her flesh; he was not afraid 
of "Miss Brown's." But now he was tired of the woman and didn't 
know how he could pay her. She had all his medals. 

All through the waning summer he walked with Irene Mallard. 
They walked at night through the cool streets filled with the rustle of 
tired leaves. They went together to the hotel roof and danced; later 
"Pap" Rheinhart, kind and awkward and shy, and smelling of his horse, 
came to their little table, sitting and drinking with them. He had spent 
the years since Leonard's at a military school, trying to straighten the 
wry twist of his neck. But he remained the same as ever quizzical, 
dry, and humorous. Eugene looked at that good shy face, remembering 
the lost years, the lost faces. And there was sorrow in his heart for 
what would come no more. August ended. 



506 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

September came, full of departing wings. The world was full of 
departures. It had heard the drums. The young men were going to the 
war. Ben had been rejected again in the draft. Now he was preparing 
to drift off in search of employment in other towns. Luke hadjjiven up 
his employment in a war-munitions factory at Dayton, Ohio, and had 
enlisted in the Navy. He had come home on a short leave before his 
departure for the training-school at Newport, Rhode Island. The street 
roared as he came down at his vulgar wide-legged stride, in flapping 
blues, his face all on the grin, thick curls of his unruly hair coiling below 
the band of his hat. He was the cartoon of a gob. 

"Luke!" shouted Mr. Fawcett, the land-auctioneer, pulling him in 
from the street to Wood's pharmacy, "by God, son, you've done your 
bit. I'm going to set you up. What are you going to have?" 

"Make it a dope," said Luke. "Colonel, yours truly!" He lifted the 
frosty glass in a violently palsied hand, and stood posed before the 
grinning counter. "F-f-f-Forty years ago," he began, in a hoarse 
voice, "I might have refused, but now I can't, G-G-G-God help me! I 
c-c-c-c-can't!" 

Gant's sickness had returned on him with increased virulence. His 
face was haggard and yellow: a tottering weakness crept into his limbs. 
It was decided that he must go again to Baltimore. Helen would go 
with him. 

"Mr. Gant," said Eliza persuasively, "why don't you just give up 
everything and settle down to take things easy the rest of your days? 
You don't feel good enough to tend to business any more; if I were you, 
I'd retire. We could get $20,000 for your shop without any trouble 
If 1 had that much money to work with, I'd show them a thing or two." 
She nodded pertly with a smart wink. "I could turn it over two or three 
times within two years' time. You've got to trade quick to keep the 
ball a-rolling. That's the way it's done." 

"Merciful God!" he groaned. "That's my last refuge on earth. 
Woman, have you no mercy? I beg of you, leave me to die in peace: it 
won't be long now. You can do what you please with it after I'm gone, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 507 

but give me a little peace now. In the name of Jesus, I ask it!" He 
sniffled affectedly. 

"Pshaw!" said Eliza, thinking no doubt to encourage him. "There's 
nothing wrong with you. Half of it's only imagination." 

He groaned, turning his head away. 

Summer died upon the hills. There was a hue, barely guessed, upon 
the foliage, of red rust. The streets at night were filled with said lispings : 
all through the night, upon his porch, as in a coma, he heard the strange 
noise of autumn. And all the people who had given the town its light 
thronging gaiety were vanished strangely overnight. They had gone back 
into the vast South again. The solemn tension of the war gathered about 
the nation. A twilight of grim effort hovered around him, above him. 
He felt the death of joy ; but the groping within him of wonder, of glory. 
Out of the huge sprawl of its first delirium, the nation was beginning to 
articulate the engines of war engines to mill and print out hatred and 
falsehood, engines to pump up glory, engines to manacle and crush 
opposition, engines to drill and regiment men. 

But something of true wonder had come upon the land the flares 
and rockets of the battle-fields cast their light across the plains as well. 
Young men from Kansas were going to die in Picardy. In some foreign 
earth lay the iron, as yet unmoulded, that was to slay them. The strange- 
ness of death and destiny was legible upon lives and faces which held 
no strangeness of their own. For, it is the union of the ordinary and 
the miraculous that makes wonder. 

Luke had gone away to the training-school at Newport. Ben went 
to Baltimore with Helen and Gant, who, before entering the hospital 
again for radium treatment, had gone on a violent and unruly spree 
which had compelled their rapid transference from one hotel to another 
and had finally brought Gant moaning to his bed, hurling against God 
the anathemas that should have been saved for huge riotings in raw 
oysters washed down chaotically with beer and whisky. They all drank 
a great deal: Gant's excesses, however, reduced the girl to a state of 
angry frenzy, and Ben to one of scowling and cursing disgust. 

"You damned old man!" cried Helen, seizing and shaking his pas- 



508 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

sive shoulders as he lay reeking and sodden on an untidy bed. "I could 
wear you out! You're not sick; I've wasted my life nursing you, and 
you're not as sick as I am! You'll be here long after I'm gone, you 
selfish old man! It makes me furious!" 

"Why, baby!" he roared, with a vast gesture of his arms, "God 
bless you, I couldn't do without you." 

"Don't 'baby' me!" she cried. 

But she held his hand next day as they rode out to the hospital, 
held it as, quaking, he turned for an instant and looked sadly at the city 
stretched behind and below him. 

"I was a boy here," he muttered. 

"Don't worry," she said, "we're going to make you well again. 
Why! You'll be a boy again!" 

Hand in hand they entered the lobby where, flanked with death 
and terror and the busy matter-of-factness of the nurses and the hundred 
flitting shapes of the quiet men with the gray faces and gimlet eyes who 
walk so surely in among the broken lives with arms proposed in an 
attitude of enormous mercy many times bigger than G ant's largest 
angel is an image of gentle Jesus. 

Eugene went to see the Leonards several times. Margaret looked 
thin and ill, but the great light in her seemed on this account to burn 
more brightly. Never before had he been so aware of her enormous 
tranquil patience, the great health of her spirit. All of his sin, all of his 
pain, all the vexed weariness of his soul were washed away in that deep 
radiance: the tumult and evil of life dropped from him its foul and 
ragged cloak. He seemed to be clothed anew in garments of seamless 
light. 

But he could confess little that lay on his heart: he talked freely of 
his work at the university, he talked of little else. His heart was packed 
with its burden for confessional, but he knew he could not speak, that 
she would not understand. She was too wise for anything but faith. 
Once, desperately, he tried to tell her of Laura: he blurted out a con- 
fession awkwardly in a few words. Before he had finished she began to 
laugh. 

"Mr. Leonard!" she called. "Imagine this rascal with a girl! Pshaw, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 509 

boy! You don't know what love is. Get along with you. There'll be 
time enough to think of that ten years from now." She laughed tenderly 
to herself, with absent misty gaze. 

"Old 'Gene with a girl! Pity the poor girl! Ah, Lord, Boy! That's 
a long way off for you. Thank your stars!" 

He bent his head sharply, and closed his eyes. O! My lovely Saint! 
he thought. How close you have been to me, if any one. How I have 
cut my brain open for you to see, and would my heart, if I had dared, 
and how alone I am, and always have been. 

He walked through the streets at night with Irene Mallard; the 
town was thinned and saddened by departures. A few people hurried 
past, as if driven along by the brief pouncing gusts of wind. He was 
held in the lure of her subtle weariness: she gave him comfort and he 
never touched her. But he unpacked the burden of his heart, trembling 
and passionate. She sat beside him and stroked his hand. It seemed to 
him that he never knew her until he remembered her years later. 

The house was almost empty. At night Eliza packed his trunk care- 
fully, counting the ironed shirts and mended socks with satisfaction. 

"Now, you have plenty of good warm clothes, son. Try to take 
care of them." She put Gant's check in his inner pocket and fastened 
it with a safety-pin. 

"Keep a sharp eye on your money, boy. You never know who 
you'll run up with on a train." 

He dawdled nervously toward the door, wishing to melt away, not 
end in leave-taking. 

"It does seem you might spend one night at home with your 
mother," she said querulously. Her eyes grew misty at once, her lips 
began to work tremulously in a bitter self-pitying smile. "I tell you 
what! It looks mighty funny, doesn't it? You can't stay with me five 
minutes any more without wanting to be up and off with the first woman 
that comes along. It's all right! It's all right. I'm not complaining. It 
seems as if all I was fit for is to cook and sew and get you ready to go 
off." She burst volubly into tears. "It seems that that's the only use 



510 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"No," he said bitterly, "you've been too busy looking after the 
boarders. Don't think, mama, that you can work on my feelings here 
at the last minute," he cried, already deeply worked-on. "It's easy to 
cry. But I was here all the time if you had had time for me. Oh, for 
God's sake! Let's make an end to this ! Aren't things bad enough with- 
out it? Why must you act this way whenever I go off? Do you want to 
make me as miserable as you can?" 

"Well, I tell you," said Eliza hopefully, becoming dry-eyed at once, 
"if I make a couple of deals and everything goes well, you may find me 
waiting for you in a big fine house when you come back next Spring. 
I've got the lot picked out. I was thinking about it the other day," she 
went on, giving him a bright and knowing nod. 

"Ah-h!" he made a strangling noise in his throat and tore at his 
collar. "In God's name! Please!" There was a silence. 

"Well," said Eliza gravely, plucking at her chin, "I want you to be 
a good boy and study hard, son. Take care of your money I want you 
to have plenty of good food and warm clothes but you mustn't be 
extravagant, boy. This sickness of your papa's has cost a lot of money. 
Everything is going out and nothing's coming in. Nobody knows where 
the next dollar's coming from. So you've got to watch out." 

Again silence fell. She had said her say; she had come as close as 
she could, but suddenly she felt speechless, shut out, barred from the 
bitter and lonely secrecy of his life. 

"I hate to see you go, son," she said quietly, with a deep and 
indefinable sadness. 

He cast his arms up suddenly in a tortured incomplete gesture. 

"What does it matter! Oh God, what does it matter!" 

Eliza's eyes filled with tears of real pain. She grasped his hand and 
held it. 

"Try to be happy, son," she wept, "try to be a little more happy. 
Poor child! Poor child! Nobody ever knew you. Before you were 
born," she shook her head slowly, speaking in a voice that was drowned 
and husky with her tears. Then, huskily, clearing her throat, she 
repeated, "Before you were born " 




32 

When he returned to the university for his second year, he found 
the place adjusted soberly to war. It seemed quieter, sadder the num- 
ber of students was smaller and they were younger. The older ones had 
gone to war. The others were in a state of wild, but subdued, restlessness. 
They were careless of colleges, careers, successes the war had thrilled 
them with its triumphing Now. Of what use To-morrow! Of what use 
all labor for To-morrow! The big guns had blown all spun schemes to 
fragments: they hailed the end of all planned work with a fierce, a 
secret joy. The business of education went on half-heartedly, with an 
abstracted look: in the classroom, their eyes were vague upon the book, 
but their ears cocked attentively for alarums and excursions without. 

Eugene began the year earnestly as room-mate of a young man 
who had been the best student in the Altamont High School. His name 
was Bob Sterling. Bob Sterling was nineteen years old, the son of a 
widow. He was of middling height, always very neatly and soberly 
dressed; there was nothing conspicuous about him. For this reason, he 
could laugh good-naturedly, a little smugly, at whatever was conspicu- 

511 



512 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

ous. He had a good mind bright, attentive, studious, unmarked by 
originality or inventiveness. He had a time for everything: he appor- 
tioned a certain time for the preparation of each lesson, and went over 
it three times, mumbling rapidly to himself. He sent his laundry out 
every Monday. When in merry company he laughed heartily and en- 
joyed himself, but he always kept track of the time. Presently, he would 
look at his watch, saying: "Well, this is all very nice, but it's getting no 
work done," and he would go. 

Every one said he had a bright future. He remonstrated with 
Eugene, with good-natured seriousness, about his habits. He ought not 
to throw his clothes around. He ought not to let his shirts and drawers 
accumulate in a dirty pile. He ought to have a regular time for doing 
each lesson; he ought to live by regular hours. 

They lived in a private dwelling on the edge of the campus, in a 
large bright room decorated with a great number of college pennants, 
all of which belonged to Bob Sterling. 

Bob Sterling had heart-disease. He stood on the landing, gasping, 
when he had* climbed the stairs. Eugene opened the door for him. Bob 
Sterling's pleasant face was dead white, spotted by pale freckles. His 
lips chattered and turned blue. 

"What is it, Bob? How do you feel?" said Eugene. 

"Come here," said Bob Sterling with a grin. "Put your head down 
here." He took Eugene's head and placed it against his heart. The great 
pump beat slowly and irregularly, with a hissing respiration. 

"Good God!" cried Eugene. 

"Do you hear it?" said Bob Sterling, beginning to laugh. Then he 
went into the room, chafing his dry hands briskly. 

But he fell sick and could not attend classes. He was taken to the 
College Infirmary, where he lay for several weeks, apparently not very 
ill, but with lips constantly blue, a slow pulse, and a sub-normal tem- 
perature. Nothing could be done about it. 

His mother came and took him home. Eugene wrote him regularly 
twice a week, getting in return short but cheerful messages. Then one 
day he died. 

Two weeks later the widow returned to gather together the boy's 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 513 

belongings. Silently she collected the clothing that no one would ever 
wear. She was a stout woman in her forties. Eugene took all the pen- 
nants from the wall and folded them. She packed them in a valise and 
turned to go. 

"Here's another," said Eugene. 

She burst suddenly into tears and seized his hand. 

"He was so brave," she said, "so brave. Those last days I had not 
meant to Yours letters made him so happy." 

She's alone now, Eugene thought. 

I cannot stay here, he thought, where he has been. We were here 
together. Always I should see him on the landing, with the hissing valve 
and the blue lips, or hear him mumbling his lessons. Then, at night, the 
other cot would be empty. I think I shall room alone hereafter. 

But he roomed the remainder of the term in one of the dormitories. 
He had two room-mates one, an Altamont young man who answered 
to the name of L. K. Duncan (the "L" stood for Lawrence, but every 
one called him "Elk") and the other, the son of an Episcopal minister, 
Harold Gay. Both were several years older than Eugene: Elk Duncan 
was twenty-four, and Harold Gay, twenty-two. But it is doubtful 
whether a more precious congress of freaks had ever before gathered in 
two small rooms, one of which they used as a "study." 

Elk Duncan was the son of an Altamont attorney, a small Demo- 
cratic politician, mighty in county affairs. Elk Duncan was tall an inch 
or two over six feet and incredibly thin, or rather narrow. He was 
already a little bald, he had a high prominent forehead, and large pale 
bulging eyes: from that point his long pale face sloped backward to his 
chin. His shoulders were a trifle bowed and very narrow; the rest of his 
body had the symmetry of a lead pencil. He always dressed very fop- 
pishly, in tight suits of blue flannel, with high stiff collars, fat silken 
cravats, and colored silk handkerchiefs. He was a student in the Law 
School, but he spent a large part of his time, industriously, in avoiding 
study. 

The younger students particularly the Freshmen gathered around 
him after meals with mouths slightly ajar, feeding upon his words like 



514 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

manna, and hungrily demanding more, the wilder his fable became. His 
posture toward life was very much that of the barker of a carnival side- 
show: loquacious, patronizing, and cynical. 

The other room-mate, Harold Gay, was a good soul, no older than 
a child. He wore spectacles, which gave the only glister to the dull 
grayness of his face; he was plain and ugly without any distinction: he 
had been puzzled so long by at least four-fifths of the phenomena of 
existence that he no longer made any effort to comprehend them. In- 
stead, he concealed his shyness and bewilderment under a braying laugh 
that echoed at all the wrong places, and a silly grin full of an absurd 
and devilish knowingness. His association with Elk Duncan was one of 
the proud summits of his life: he weltered in the purple calcium which 
bathed that worthy, he smoked cigarettes with a debauched leer, and 
cursed loudly and uneasily with the accent of a depraved clergyman. 

"Harold! Harold!" said Elk Duncan reprovingly. "Damn, son! 
You're getting hard! If you go on like this, you'll begin to chew gum, 
and fritter away your Sunday-school money at the movies. Think of the 
rest of us, please. 'Gene here's only a young boy, as pure as a barnyard 
privy, and, as for me, I've always moved in the best circles, and asso- 
ciated with only the highest class of bartenders and ladylike street- 
walkers. What would your father say if he could hear you? Don't you 
know he'd be shocked? He'd cut off your cigarette money, son." 

"I don't give a damn what he'd do, Elk, nor you either!" said 
Harold toughly, grinning. "So, what the hell!" he roared as loudly as 
he could. There was an answering howl from the windows of the whole 
dormitory cries of "Go to hell!" "Cut it out!" and ironical cheers, 
at which he was pleased. 

The scattered family drew together again at Christmas. A sense of 
impending dissolution, of loss and death, brought them back. The sur- 
geon at Baltimore had given no hope. He had, rather, confirmed Gant's 
death-warrant. 

"Then how long can he live?" asked Helen. 

He shrugged his shoulders. "My dear girl!" he said. "I have no 
idea. The man's a miracle. Do you know that he's Exhibit A here? 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 515 

Every surgeon in the place has had a look. How long can he last? Fll 
swear to nothing I no longer have any idea. When your father left 
here, the first time, after his operation, I never expected to see him again. 
I doubted if he would last the winter through. But he's back again. He 
may be back many times." 

"Can you help him at all? Do you think the radium does any 
good?" 

"I can give him relief for a time. I can even check the growth of 
the disease for a time. Beyond that, I can do nothing. But his vitality 
is enormous. He is a creaking gate which hangs by one hinge but 
which hangs, nevertheless." 

Thus, she had brought him home, the shadow of his death sus- 
pended over them like a Damocles sword. Fear prowled softly through 
their brains on leopard feet. The girl lived in a condition of repressed 
hysteria: it had its outburst daily at Eliza's or m her own home. Hugh 
Barton had purchased a house to which he had taken her. 

"You'll get no peace," he said, "as long as you're near them. That's 
what's wrong with you now." 

She had frequent periods of sickness. She went constantly to the 
doctors for treatment and advice. Sometimes she went to the hospital 
for several days. Her illness manifested itself in various ways some- 
times in a terrible mastoid pain, sometimes in nervous exhaustion, some- 
times in an hysterical collapse in which she laughed and wept by turns, 
and which was governed partly by Gant's illness and a morbid despair 
over her failure to bear a child. She drank stealthily at all times she 
drank in nibbling draughts for stimulus, never enough for drunkenness. 
She drank vile liquids seeking only the effect of alcohol and getting at 
it in strange ways through a dozen abominations called "tonics" and 
"extracts." Almost deliberately she ruined her taste for the better sort of 
potable liquors, concealing from herself, under the convenient labellmgs 
of physic, the ugly crawling hunger in her blood. This self-deception 
was characteristic of her. Her life expressed itself through a series of 
deceptions of symbols: her dislikes, affections, grievances, brandishing 
every cause but the real one. 




But, unless actually bedridden, she was never absent from her 
father for many hours. The shadow of his death lay over their lives. 
They shuddered below its horror; its protracted menace, its unsearch- 
able enigma, deprived them of dignity and courage. They were dom- 
inated by the weary and degrading egotism of life, which is blandly 
philosophical over the death of the alien, but sees in its own the 
corruption of natural law. It was as hard for them to think of Gant's 
death as of God's death: it was a great deal harder, because he was 
more real to them than God, he was more immortal than God, he 
was God. 

This hideous twilight into which their lives had passed froze Eugene 
with its terror, and choked him with fury. He would grow enraged after 
reading a letter from home and pound the grained plaster of the dor- 
mitory wall until his knuckles were bloody. They have taken his courage 
away! he thought. They have made a whining coward out of him! No, 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 517 

and if I die, no damned family about. Blowing their messy breaths in 
your face! Snuffling down their messy noses at you! Gathering around 
you till you can't breathe. Telling you how well you're looking with 
hearty smiles, and boo-hooing behind your back. O messy, messy, messy 
death! Shall we never be alone? Shall we never live alone, think alone, 
live in a house by ourselves alone? Ah! but I shall! I shall! Alone, 
alone, and far away, with falling rain. Then, bursting suddenly into the 
study, he found Elk Duncan, with unaccustomed eye bent dully upon a 
page of Torts, a bright bird held by the stare of that hypnotic snake, the 
law. 

"Are we to die like rats?" he said. "Are we to smother in a hole?" 

"Damn!" said Elk Duncan, folding the big calfskin and cowering 
defensively behind it. 

"Yes, that's right, that's right! Calm yourself. You are Napoleon 
Bonaparte and I'm your old friend, Oliver Cromwell. Harold!" he called. 
"Help! He killed the keeper and got out." 

" 'Gene!" yelled Harold Gay, hurling a thick volume from him 
under the spell of Elk's great names. "What do you know about 
history? Who signed Magna Charta, eh?" 

"It wasn't signed," said Eugene. "The King didn't know how to 
write, so they mimeographed it." 

"Correct!" roared Harold Gay. "Who was ^thelred the Un- 
ready?" 

"He was the son of Cynewulf the Silly and Undine the Unwashed," 
said Eugene. 

"On his Uncle Jasper's side," said Elk Duncan, "he was related to 
Paul the Poxy and Genevieve the Ungenerous." 

"He was excommunicated by the Pope in a Bull of the year 903, 
but he refused to be cowed," said Eugene. 

"Instead, he called together all the local clergy, including the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, Dr. Gay, who was elected Pope," said Elk 
Duncan. "This caused a great schism in the Church." 

"But as usual, God was on the side of the greatest number of 
canons," said Eugene. "Later on, the family migrated to California, 
and made its fortune in the Gold Rush of '49." 



518 LOOK HOMEWARD, A NGEL 

"You boys are too good for me!" yelled Harold Gay, getting up 
abruptly. "Come on! Who's going to the Pic?" 

The Pic was the only purchasable entertainment that the village 
afforded steadily. It was a moving-picture theatre, inhabited nightly by 
a howling tribe of students who rushed down aisles, paved with peanut- 
shells, through a shrapnel fire of flying goobers, devoting themselves 
studiously for the remainder of the evening to the unhappy heads and 
necks of Freshmen, and less attentively, but with roars of applause, 
indignation, or advice, to the poor flicker-dance of puppets that wav- 
ered its way illegibly across the worn and pleated screen. A weary but 
industrious young woman with a scrawny neck thumped almost con- 
stantly at a battered piano. If she was idle for five minutes, the whole 
pack howled ironically, demanding: "Music, Myrtle! Music!" 

It was necessary to speak to every one. If one spoke to every one, 
one was "democratic" ; if one did not, one was a snob, and got few 
votes. The appraisal of personality, like all other appraisal with them, 
was coarse and blunt. They were suspicious of all eminence. They had 
a hard peasant hostility to the unusual. A man was brilliant? Was there 
a bright sparkle to him? Bad, bad! He was not safe; he was not 
sound. The place was a democratic microcosmos seething with political 
interests: national, regional, collegiate. 

The campus had its candidates, its managers, its bosses, its ma- 
chines, as had the State. A youngster developed in college the political 
craft he was later to exert in Party affairs. The son of a politician was 
schooled by his crafty sire before the down was off his cheeks : at sixteen, 
his life had been plotted ahead to the governorship, or to the proud 
dignities of a Congressman. The boy came deliberately to the university 
to bait and set his first traps: deliberately he made those friendships 
that were most likely to benefit him later. By his junior year, if he was 
successful, he had a political manager, who engineered his campus 
ambitions; he moved with circumspection, and spoke with a trace of 
pomp nicely weighed with cordiality : 

"Ah, there, gentlemen." "Gentlemen, how are you?" "A nice day, 
gentlemen." 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 519 

The vast champaign of the world stretched out its limitless wonder, 
but few were seduced away from the fortress of the State, few ever heard 
the distant reverberation of an idea. They could get no greater glory 
for themselves than a seat in the Senate, and the way to glory the way 
to all power, highness, and distinction whatsoever was through the 
law, a string tie, and a hat. Hence politics, law schools, debating soci- 
eties, and speechmakmg. The applause of listening senates to command. 

The yokels, of course, were in the saddle they composed nine- 
tenths of the student body: the proud titles were in their gift, and they 
took good care that their world should be kept safe for yokelry and the 
homespun virtues. Usually, these dignities the presidencies of student 
bodies, classes, Y. M. C. A.'s, and the managerships of athletic teams 
were given to some honest serf who had established his greatness behind 
a plough before working in the college commons, or to some industrious 
hack who had shown a satisfactory mediocrity in all directions. Such 
an industrious hack was called an "all-round man." He was safe, sound, 
and reliable. He would never get notions. He was the fine flower of 
university training. He was a football scrub, and a respectable scholar 
in all subjects. He was a universal Two Man. He always got Two on 
everything, except Moral Character, where he shone with a superlative 
Oneness. If he did not go into the law or the ministry, he was appointed 
a Rhodes Scholar. 

In this strange place Eugene flourished amazingly. He was outside 
the pale of popular jealousies: it was quite obvious that he was not 
safe, that he was not sound, that decidedly he was an irregular person. 
He could never be an all-round man. Obviously, he would never be 
governor. Obviously, he would never be a politician, because he said 
funny things. He was not the man to lead a class or say a prayer; he 
was a man for curious enterprise. Well, thought they benevolently, we 
need some such. We are not all made for weighty business. 

He was happier than he had ever been in his life, and more careless. 
His physical loneliness was more complete and more delightful. His 
escape from the bleak horror of disease and hysteria and death impend- 
ing, that hung above his crouched family, left him with a sense of aerial 



520 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

buoyance, drunken freedom. He had come to the place alone, without 
companions. He had no connections. He had, even now, not one close 
friend. And this isolation was in his favor. Every one knew him at 
sight: every one called him by name, and spoke to him kindly. He was 
not disliked. He was happy, full of expansive joy, he greeted every one 
with enthusiastic gusto. He had a vast tenderness, an affection for the 
whole marvellous and unvisited earth, that blinded his eyes. He was 
closer to a feeling of brotherhood than he had ever been, and more 
alone. He was filled with a divine indifference for all appearance. Joy 
ran like a great wine through his young expanding limbs; he bounded 
down the paths with wild cries in his throat, leaping for life like an 
apple, trying to focus the blind desire that swept him apart, to melt 
down to a bullet all of his formless passion, and so, slay death, slay 
love. 

He began to join. He joined everything. He had never "belonged" 
to any group before, but now all groups were beckoning him. He had 
without much trouble won a place for himself on the staff of the college 
paper and the magazine. The small beginning trickle of distinctions 
widened into a gushet. It began to sprinkle, then it rained. He was 
initiated into literary fraternities, dramatic fraternities, theatrical fra- 
ternities, speaking fraternities, journalistic fraternities, and in the Spring 
into a social fraternity. He joined enthusiastically, submitted with fanat- 
ical glee to the hard mauling of the initiations, and went about lame 
and sore, more pleased than a child or a savage, with colored ribbons 
in his coat lapel, and a waistcoat plastered with pins, badges, symbols, 
and Greek letterings. 

But not without labor had his titles come. The early autumn was 
lustreless and slack: he could not come from the shadow of Laura. 
She haunted him. When he went home at Christmas, he found the 
hills bleak and close, and the town mean and cramped in the grim 
stinginess of winter. There was a ludicrous, a desperate gaiety in the 
family. 

"Well!" said Eliza sorrowfully, as she peered above the stove, "let's 
all try to be happy this time and enjoy a quiet Christmas. You never 
know! You never know!" She shook her head, unable to continue. 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 521 

Her eyes were wet. "It may be the last time we're all together. The old 
trouble! The old trouble!" she said hoarsely, turning to him. 

"What old trouble?" he said angrily. "Good God, why are you so 
mysterious?" 

"My heart!" she whispered, with a brave smile. "I've said nothing 
to any one. But last week I thought I was gone." This was delivered 
in a boding whisper. 

"Oh, my God!" he groaned. "You'll be here when the rest of us 
are rotten." 

Helen burst into a raucous angry laugh, looking at his sullen face, 
and prodding him roughly with her big fingers. 

"K-K-K-K-K-K-K! Did you ever know it to fail? Did you? If 
you come to her with one of your kidneys gone, she's always got some- 
thing worse the matter with her. No, sir! I've never known it to fail!" 

"You may laugh! You may laugh!" said Eliza with a smile of 
watery bitterness. "But I may not be here to laugh at much longer." 

"Good heavens, mama!" the girl cried irritably. "There's nothing 
wrong with you. You're not the sick one! Papa's the sick one. He's 
the one that needs attention. Can't you realize that he's dying. He 
may not last the winter out. I'm the sick one! You'll be here long after 
we're both gone." 

"You never know," said Eliza mysteriously. "You never know 
who'll be the first one to go. Only last week, there was Mr. Cosgrave, as 
fine a looking man as " 

"They're off!" Eugene screamed with a crazy laugh, stamping up 
and down the kitchen in a frenzy. "By God! They're off!" 

At this moment, one of the aged harpies, of whom the house 
always sheltered two or three during the grim winter, lurched from the 
hall back into the door-space. She was a large raw-boned hag, a con- 
firmed drug-eater, who moved by a violent and dissonant jerking of her 
gaunt limbs, pawing abruptly at the air with a gnarled hand. 

"Mrs. Gant," said she, writhing her loose gray lips horribly before 
she could speak. "Did I get a letter? Have you seen him?" 

"Seen who? Go on!" said Eliza fretfully. "I don't know what 
you're talking about, and I don't believe you do, either." 

Smiling hideously at them all, and pawing the air, the monster got 



522 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

under way again, disappearing like an old wagon with loose wheels. 
Helen began to laugh, hoarsely, as Eugene's face hung forward with 
mouth half-open in an expression of sullen stupefaction. Eliza laughed, 
too, slily, rubbing her nosewing with a finger. 

"I'll vow!" she said. "I believe she's crazy. She takes dope of some 
sort that's certain. It makes my flesh crawl when she comes around." 

"Then why do you keep her in the house?" said Helen resentfully. 
"Good heavens, mama! You could get rid of her if you wanted to. 
Poor old 'Gene!" she said, beginning to laugh again. "You always 
catch it, don't you?" 

"The time draws near the birth of Christ," said he, piously. 

She laughed; then, with abstracted eyes, plucked vaguely at her 
large chin. 

His father spent most of the day staring vacantly into the parlor 
fire. Miss Florry Mangle, the nurse, gave him the morbid comfort of 
her silence: she rocked incessantly before the fire, thirty heel-taps to 
the minute, with arms tight-folded on her limp breasts. Occasionally 
she talked of death and disease. Gant had aged and wasted shockingly. 
His heavy clothes wound round his feeble shanks: his face was waxen 
and transparent it was like a great beak. He looked clean and fragile. 
The cancer, Eugene thought, flowered in him like some terrible but 
beautiful plant. His mind was very clear, not doting, but sad and old. 
He spoke little, with almost comical gentleness, but he ceased to listen 
almost as soon as one answered. 

"How have you been, son?" he asked. "Are you getting along all 
right?" 

"Yes. I am a reporter on the paper now; I may be managing editor 
next year. I have been elected to several organizations," he went on 
eagerly, glad of the rare chance to speak to one of them about his life. 
But when he looked up again, his father's stare was fixed sadly in the 
fire. The boy stopped in confusion, pierced with a bitter pain. 

"That's good," said Gant, hearing him speak no more. "Be a good 
boy, son. We're proud of you." 

Ben came home two days before Christmas : he prowled through 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 523 

the house like a familiar ghost. He had left the town early in the autumn, 
after his return from Baltimore. For three months he had wandered 
alone through the South, selling to the merchants in small towns space 
for advertisements upon laundry cards. How well this curious business 
succeeded he did not say: he was scrupulously neat, but threadbare and 
haggard, and more fiercely secretive than ever. He had found em- 
ployment at length upon a newspaper in a rich tobacco town of the 
Piedmont. He was going there after Christmas. 

He had come to them, as always, bearing gifts. 

Luke came in from the naval school at Newport, on Christmas eve. 
They heard his sonorous tenor shouting greetings to people in the street; 
he entered the house upon a blast of air. Every one began to grin. 

"Well, here we are! The Admiral's back! Papa, how's the boy! 
Well, for God's sake!" he cried, embracing Gant, and slapping his back. 
"I thought I was coming to see a sick man! You're looking like the 
flowers that bloom in the Spring." 

"Pretty well, my boy. How are you?" said Gant, with a pleased 
grin. 

"Couldn't be better, Colonel. 'Gene, how are you, Old Scout? 
Good!" he said, without waiting for an answer. "Well, well, if it isn't 
Old Baldy," he cried, pumping Ben's hand. "I didn't know whether 
you'd be here or not. Mama, old girl," he said, as he embraced her, 
"how're they going? Still hitting on all six. Fine!" he yelled, before any 
one could reply to anything. 

"Why, son, what on earth!" cried Eliza, stepping back to look at 
him. "What have you done to yourself? You walk as if you are lame." 

He laughed idiotically at sight of her troubled face and prodded 
her. 

"Whah whah! I got torpedoed by a submarine," he said. "Oh, 
it's nothing," he added modestly. "I gave a little skin to help out a 
fellow in the electrical school." 

"What!" Eliza screamed. "How much did you give?" 

"Oh, only a little six-inch strip," he said carelessly. "The boy was 
badly burned: a bunch of us got together and chipped in with a little 
hide." 



524 LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 

"Mercy!" said Eliza. "You'll be lame for life. It's a wonder you 
can walk." 

"He always thinks of others that boy !" said Gant proudly. "He'd 
give you his heart's-blood." 

The sailor had secured an extra valise, and stocked it on the way 
home with a great variety of beverages for his father. There were 
several bottles of Scotch and rye whiskies, two of gin, one of rum, and 
one each of port and sherry wine. 

Every one grew mildly convivial before the evening meal. 

"Let's give the poor kid a drink," said Helen. "It won't hurt him." 

"What! My ba-a-by! Why, son, you wouldn't drink, would you?" 
Eliza said playfully. 

"Wouldn't he!" said Helen, prodding him. "Ho! ho! ho!" 

She poured him out a stiff draught of Scotch whiskey. 

"There!" she said cheerfully. "That's not going to hurt him." 

"Son," said Eliza gravely, balancing her wine-glass, "I don't want 
you ever to acquire a taste for it." She was still loyal to the doctrine of 
the good Major. 

"No," said Gant. "It'll ruin you quicker than anything in the 
world, if you do." 

"You're a goner, boy, if that stuff ever gets you," said Luke. 
"Take a fool's advice." 

They lavished fair warnings on him as he lifted his glass. He choked 
as the fiery stuff caught in his young throat, stopping his breath for a 
moment and making him tearful. He had drunk a few times before 
minute quantities that his sister had given him at Woodson Street. 
Once, with Jim Trivett, he had fancied himself tipsy. 

When they had eaten, they drank again. He was allowed a small one. 
Then they all departed for town to complete their belated shopping. He 
was left alone in the house. 

What he had drunk beat pleasantly through his veins in warm 
pulses, bathing the tips of ragged nerves, giving to him a feeling of power 
and tranquillity he had never known. Presently, he went to the pantry 
where the liquor was stored. He took a water tumbler and filled it 



LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL 525 

experimentally with equal portions of whiskey, gin, and rum. Then, 
seating himself at the kitchen table, he began to drink the mixture 
slowly. 

The terrible draught smote him with the speed and power of a 
man's fist. He was made instantly drunken, and he knew instantly why 
men drank. It was, he knew, one of the great moments m his life he 
lay, greedily watching the mastery of the grape over his virgin flesh, like 
a girl for the first time in the embrace of her lover. And suddenly, he 
knew how completely he was his father's son how completely, and 
with what added power and exquisite refinement of sensation, was he 
Gantian. He exulted in the great length of his limbs and his body, 
through which the mighty liquor could better work its wizardry. In all 
the earth there was no other like him, no other fitted to be so sublimely 
and magmficiently drunken. It was greater than all the music he had 
ever heard; it was as great as the highest poetry. Why had he never 
been told? Why had no one ever written adequately about it? Why, 
when it was possible to buy a god in a bottle, and drink him off, and 
become a god oneself, were men not forever drunken? 

He had a moment of great wonder the magnificent wonder with 
which we disc