A Concise Introduction to American

1 8 6 5 t o P r e s e n t

Amy Berke, PhD Robert R. Bleil, PhD Jordan Cofer, PhD Doug Davis, PhD the Nation

A Concise Introduction to

1 8 6 5 t o P r e s e n t

Amy Berke, PhD Robert R. Bleil, PhD Jordan Cofer, PhD Doug Davis, PhD Writing the Nation: A Concise Introduction to American Literature—1865 to Present is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This license allows you to remix, tweak, and build upon this work, even commercially, as long as you credit this original source for the creation and license the new creation under identical terms.

If you reuse this content elsewhere, in to comply with the attribution requirements of the license please attribute the original source to the University System of .

NOTE: The above license which University System of Georgia uses for their original content does not extend to or include content which was accessed and incorporated, and which is licensed under various other CC Licenses, such as ND licenses. Nor does it extend to or include any Special Permissions which were granted to us by the rightsholders for our use of their content.

Image Disclaimer: All images and figures in this are believed to be (after a reasonable investigation) either public domain or carry a compatible Creative Commons license. If you are the copyright owner of images in this book and you have not authorized the use of your work under these terms, please contact the University of North Georgia Press at [email protected] to have the content removed.

ISBN: 978-1-940771-34-2

Produced by: University System of Georgia

Published by: University of North Georgia Press Dahlonega, Georgia

Cover Design and Layout Design: Corey Parson

For more information, please visit http://ung.edu/university-press Or email [email protected]

If you need this text in another format, please contact [email protected] or call 706-864-1556 Table of C ontents

Chapter 1: Late (1855-1870) 1 1.1 Learning Outcomes 1 1.2 Introduction 2 1.3 4 1.3.1 5 1.3.2 “Oh Captain! My Captain!” 42 1.3.3 “CROSSING FERRY” 43 1.3.4 and Review Questions 47 1.4 48 1.4.1 “I TASTE A LIQUOR NEVER BREWED” 49 1.4.2 “THE SOUL SELECTS HER OWN ” 49 1.4.3 “BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH” 50 1.4.4 “MY LIFE HAD STOOD—A LOADED GUN” 50 1.4.4 Reading and Review Questions 51 1.5 Key Terms 51

Chapter 2: (1865-1890) 52 2.1 Learning Outcomes 52 2.2 Introduction 53 2.2.1 Local Color (1865-1885) 54 2.2.2 Regionalism (1875-1895) 55 2.3 56 2.3.1 “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras ” 57 2.3.2 Selections From Roughing It 61 2.3.3 “The War Prayer” 67 2.3.4 Reading and Review Questions 70 2.4 70 2.4.1 “Editha” 71 2.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 81 2.5 Bierce 81 2.5.1 “Chickamauga” 82 2.5.2 “Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge” 87 2.5.3 Reading and Review Questions 93 2.6 94 2.6.1 : A Study 95 2.6.2 Reading and Review Questions 135

Page | iii 2.7 136 2.7.1 “A White Heron” 137 2.7.2 Reading and Review Questions 144 2.8 Kate Chopin 145 2.8.1 “At The ‘Cadian Ball” 146 2.8.2 ”The Storm” 153 2.8.3 Reading and Review Questions 157 2.9 Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 157 2.9.1 “A New Nun” 158 2.9.2 “The Revolt of ‘Mother’” 167 2.9.3 Reading and Review Questions 178 2.10 Charles Waddell Chesnutt 179 2.10.1 “The Passing of Grandison” 180 2.10.2 Reading and Review Questions 192 2.11 Charlotte Perkins Gilman 192 2.11.1 “The Yellow Wall-Paper” 193 2.11.2 Reading and Review Questions 205 2.12 Key Terms 205

Chapter 3: (1890-1914) 206 3.1 Learning Outcomes 206 3.2 Introduction 207 3.3 208 3.3.1 “A Plea For Romantic ” 209 3.3.2 Selections from McTeague 212 3.3.3 Reading and Review Questions 297 3.4 298 3.4.1 “” 299 3.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 316 3.5 Jack 317 3.5.1 “To Build a Fire” 318 3.5.2 Reading and Review Questions 329 3.6 Key Terms 329

Chapter 4: Turn of the Twentieth Century and the Growth of (1893 - 1914) 330 4.1 Learning Outcomes 330 4.2 Introduction 331 4.3 Booker T. 332 4.3.1 Selections from Up From Slavery 333

Page | iv 4.3.2 Reading and Review Questions 350 4.4 W. E. B. Du Bois 350 4.4.1 Selections from 351 4.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 367 4.5 Zane Grey 367 4.5.1 Riders of the Purple Sage 368 4.5.2 Reading and Review Questions 559 4.6 Key Terms 559

Chapter 5: Modernism (1914 - 1945) 560 5.1 Learning Outcomes 560

5.2 Introduction 561 5.2.1 The Great War 561 5.2.2 Une Generation Perdue…(A ) 562 5.2.3 A Modern Nation 562 5.2.3 Technology 563 5.2.4 Modernist Literature 563 5.2.5 Further Reading: Additional Secondary Sources 565 5.3 566 5.3.1 “Mending Wall” 567 5.3.2 “Home Burial” 568 5.3.3 Reading and Review Questions 571 5.4 Stevens 572 5.4.1 “The Emperor of Ice Cream” 573 5.4.2 “Of Modern ” 573 5.4.3 Reading and Review Questions 573 5.5 574 5.5.1 “The Red Wheelbarrow” 575 5.5.2 “This Is Just To Say” 575 5.5.3 “The Dead Baby” 575 5.5.4 Reading and Review Questions 575 5.6 Pound 575 5.6.1 “In a Station of the Metro” 576 5.6.2 Reading and Review Questions 576 5.7 577 5.7.1 “Poetry” 578 5.7.2 Reading and Review Questions 579 5.8 T. S. Eliot 579 5.8.1 “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” 580 5.8.2 Reading and Review Questions 584

Page | v 5.9 Edna St. Vincent Millay 584 5.9.1 “First Fig” 585 5.9.2 “I Think I Should Have Loved You Presently” 585 5.9.3 Reading and Review Questions 586 5.10 e. e. cummings 586 5.10.1 “in Just-” 587 5.10.2 Reading and Review Questions 588 5.11 F. Scott Fitzgerald 589 5.11.1 “Winter Dreams” 590 5.11.2 “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” 606 5.11.3 “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” 635 5.11.4 Reading and Review Questions 653 5.12 653 5.12.1 “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” 654 5.12.2 “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” 654 5.12.3 Reading and Review Questions 654 5.13 655 5.13.1 Death of a Salesman 656 5.13.2 Reading and Review Questions 656 5.11 Southern – First Wave 656 5.14 Ellen 658 5.14.1 “Dare’s Gift” 659 5.14.2 Reading and Review Questions 682 5.15 683 5.15.1 “A Rose For Emily” 684 5.15.2 “Barn Burning” 684 5.15.3 Reading and Review Questions 684 5.16 Eudora Alice Welty 685 5.16.1 “A Worn Path” 686 5.16.2 Reading and Review Questions 686 5.17 The 686 5.17 Jessie Redmon Fauset 687 5.17.1 “The Wakes” 688 5.17.2 Reading and Review Questions 707 5.18 Zora Neale Hurston 708 5.18.1 “Sweat” 709 5.18.2 Reading and Review Questions 709 5.19 Nella Larsen 709 5.19.1 “Sanctuary” 710 5.19.2 Reading and Review Questions 710

Page | vi 5.20 711 5.20.1 “Christ in Alabama” 712 5.20.2 “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” 712 5.20.3 “Theme for English B” 713 5.20.4 Reading and Review Questions 713 5.21 713 5.21.1 “Heritage” 714 5.21.2 “Yet Do I Marvel” 715 5.21.3 Reading and Review Questions 715 5.22 715 5.22.1 Selections from Cane 716 5.22.2 Reading and Review Questions 716 5.23 Key Terms 717

Chapter 6: American Literature Since 1945 (1945 - Present) 718 6.1 Learning Outcomes 718

6.2 Introduction 719 6.3 Southern Literary Renaissance - Second Wave (1945-1965) 723 6.3.1 The and the Southern Literary Renaissance 723 6.3.2 Economic Prosperity 723 6.3.3 The in the South 724 6.3.4 and the Rise of the MFA program 724 6.3.5 Innovation 725 6.4 725 6.4.1 A Street Car Named Desire 726 6.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 726 6.5 727 6.5.1 “Cherrylog Road” 728 6.5.2 Reading and Review Questions 728 6.6 Flannery O’Connor 729 6.6.1 “A Good Man is Hard to Find” 730 6.6.2 “Good Country People” 730 6.6.3 Reading and Review Questions 730 6.7 730 6.8 733 6.8.1 “My Papa’s Waltz” 734 6.8.2 Reading and Review Questions 734 6.9 734 6.9.1 Selection from 735 6.9.2 Reading and Review Questions 735

Page | vii 6.10 736 6.10.1 “Sonny’s ” 737 6.10.2 Reading and Review Questions 737 6.11 737 6.10.2 “Supermarket in ” 738 6.10.3 Reading and Review Questions 738 6.11 739 6.11.1 “Diving into the Wreck” 740 6.11.2 Reading and Review Questions 740 6.12 741 6.12.1 “Recitatif” 742 6.12.2 Reading and Review Questions 742 6.13 742 6.13.1 “The School” 743 6.13.2 Reading and Review Questions 743 6.14 744 6.14.1 “Daddy” 745 6.14.2 “Fever 103” 745 6.14.3 Reading and Review Questions 745 6.15 Don DeLillo 746 6.15.1 “The Most Photographed Barn in ” (excerpt from ) 747 6.15.2 Reading and Review Questions 747 6.16 Alice Walker 748 6.16.1 “Everyday Use” 749 6.16.2 Reading and Review Questions 749 6.17 749 6.17.1 “The Yellow ” 750 6.17.2 Reading and Review Questions 750 6.18 751 6.18.1 “This is Water” 752 6.18.2 “Consider the Lobster” 752 6.18.3 Reading and Review Questions 752 6.19 Key Terms 752

Glossary 754

Page | viii LATE ROMANTICISM (1855-1870) Robert R. Bleil

1.1 Learning Outcomes 1After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Describe the key features of Romanticism. • Analyze the ways in which the works of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman broke from the American literary tradition of Emerson, , and Melville. • Analyze the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War on American literature. • Compare the ways in which Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman established new voices in American literature.

Page | 1 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

1.2 Introduction Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, the whose works appear in this chapter, are unlikely protagonists—or leading characters—for a literary movement. Each was an outsider: Dickinson, an unmarried woman who lived a life of quiet seclusion in , and Whitman, a vagabond who lived a life in search of community. Dickinson and Whitman promoted a spirit of exploration and inventiveness that matched the geographical, industrial, political, and social growth of the . From their works, we gain not so much a literary renaissance as we do a sense of artistic innovation that developed alongside these other areas of American life and commerce. As literary historians like William Charvat have noted, the development of an American literary tradition owes as much to the development of the American industry in the middle decades of the nineteenth century as it does to the prominence of individual authors like Catharine Maria Sedgwick, , , , , , , and . Sales of these authors’ works were dwarfed by the sales of pirated editions of by British authors like and Charles Dickens. Nonetheless, the success of these British imports convinced American publishers that the American market was sufficiently robust to demand new works; this demand created an opportunity for American to expand their , and a flourishing literary began to prosper. American authors still faced steep odds in seeing their works into print, and American literary publishing did not flourish until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 allowed the reliably consistent shipment of individuals and goods across the country. Additional technological improvements, including the widespread adoption of steam-powered machinery and gas-fueled lights, also provide the necessary conditions for the rapid production of printed materials and the means by which these materials could be enjoyed at the conclusion of a day of laboring. Thus, only when the Industrial Age expands the definition of leisure do begin to embrace the culture of print and expand the boundaries of American literature. The first attempts to define the literary culture of the mid-nineteenth century began in the 1930s and early 1940s as the United States took on a larger role in global , and the need for definition gained sharper focus with the publication of F. O. Matthiessen’s The American Renaissance in 1941. Matthiessen argued that writers like Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, and Thoreau represented the expansion of a uniquely American of writing that interacted with, and embraced, the North American landscape in new ways. What Matthiessen called a renaissance, however, was less of a cultural flourishing than the limited success of a few male authors from . Despite the real impact of Matthiessen’s work in recognizing the presence of significant male American writers, his catalogue still neglected writing of women, African-Americans, and Native Americans whose works would not be widely recognized until the 1970s.

Page | 2 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

In order to describe the work of these authors, Matthiessen and others turned to literary labels popularized in reference to British authors of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Romanticism, a literary movement emphasizing the and originality of self-expression that began in Europe at the end of the eighteenth century, also seemed to capture the spirit of nineteenth-century America and was frequently applied to authors of both and poetry. In the hands of these authors, the meadows of western Massachusetts replaced the Lake District as the source of inspiration, and the rejection of Puritan morality continued the American emphasis on freedom of expression. When Whitman and Dickinson began writing poetry in the 1850s, the thriving Abolitionist movement added urgency to the need for new voices and rapid change. When we refer to Whitman and Dickinson as late Romantics, we place them at the end of a period that begins in the 1820s, and we suggest that their works are merely derivative from those that preceded them chronologically. Yet Whitman’s and Dickinson’s poetry is contemporary with these other works, and it seems more fruitful to consider the differences in than the differences in chronology. Whitman and Dickinson achieved their fame by changing from patriotic and historical ballads to free —poetry that lacks both and regular meter— and musically inspired celebrations of the individual in the American landscape. Whitman and Dickinson are the most famous of the Late Romantics, and their work inspired successive generations of American authors. From these , Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, and Charles Chesnutt found the freedom to use a variety of American dialects in their work, the realists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries discovered the richness of the American landscape, and the Modernist poets located a source of new poetical forms to meet the needs of the adolescent Republic that came of age in the decades immediately following the Civil War. That national coming of age, in the years of Reconstruction, Western Expansion, Manifest Destiny, industrial might, and rapid immigration, also marks the traditional beginning of courses like this . The Civil War, while not a precise dividing , is regarded as the most reliable current method for marking the split between the first and second half of the literary of the United States. Teachers and critics quickly realized, however, that the continued growth of the literary and cultural productions of the United States required more precise divisions than the chronological division into pre-bellum and post-bellum periods can provide. This of follows those new divisions, with chapters on Late Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism, Pre-Modernism, Modernism, and post-1945 American Literature, but the boundaries between these divisions remain fluid. The readings that follow are arranged loosely by chronology, and the - editors of this collection have tried to provide useful headnotes to the sections and the individual authors, but do not be afraid to draw connections beyond the loose boundaries and invent new terms that better describe these works. As American literature continues to grow, we create new categories that better describe our shared experience.

Page | 3 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

1.3 Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

The second of nine children and born in 1819 to a Long Island farmer and carpenter, Walt Whitman is both the journeyman of American-ness and its champion. A journalist and editor throughout his life, Whitman worked as a clerk, a schoolteacher, a printer, a civil servant, and a hospital aide, but he was always writing; from his teenage years until his death, his byline was on constant view. Contemporary reports suggest that Whitman was an industrious worker but that he was Image 1.1 | Walt Whitman, 1887. often accused of idleness because his habit of Photographer | George C. Cox long midday walks contrasted sharply with Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain nineteenth-century attitudes toward work. In “Song of Myself,” Whitman addressed these critics directly by writing, “I loafe and invite my soul,/ I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass” (4- 5). For Whitman, too much industry dulled the ability to celebrate the ordinary. In the preface to the first of in 1855, Whitman expounds on his love for the common: “Other states indicate in their deputies…but the of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislators, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its or inventors…but always most in the common people.”1 Whitman’s love for the common people that he encountered and observed in the urban centers of the north is expressed in all of his poetry; if his British contemporary Alfred Lord Tennyson is the national poet of mourning, then Whitman is the national poet of celebration. Many readers feel confused and disoriented when reading Whitman for the first time. Without using the aid of rhyme and meter as a guide, Whitman’s poetry may initially appear disjointed and meandering, but at the same time readers often take great comfort in the simplicity of the language, the clarity of the images, and the deep cadences, or rhythms, of the verse. Such contradictions are at the heart of Whitman’s work. Much of Whitman’s success and endurance as a poet comes from his ability to marry embedded cultural forms to the needs of a growing and rapidly modernizing nation. Whitman first came to wide public attention with the publication of the first edition ofLeaves of Grass in 1855 when he was just twenty- five years old. Grand in scope if not in size, the first edition established Whitman as a poet who loved wordplay and common images; by the time of his death in 1892, Whitman had expanded the initial collection of just twelve poems over the course of six editions to one that ultimately included more than 400 poems. The

1 http://www.whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/figures/ppp.00271.010.jpg

Page | 4 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870) selection included here largely samples Whitman’s early poetry up through the Civil War. In the selections from Song of Myself and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” we see Whitman at his most iconic: sweeping views of everyday life that freely mingle high and low culture. Yet the poet of the common man did not spend all of his days gazing at his Americans. In the final selection from Whitman, we see Whitman rising as a national poet with “O Captain! My Captain!” one of two poems on the death of Abraham Lincoln. An urban poet who lived almost his entire life in New , , and Washington, DC, the enduring appeal of his works testifies to his ability to connect the great and the common through language.

1.3.1 Song of Myself

1 I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.

2 Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me. The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’d - rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind, A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, The of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,

Page | 5 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much? Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in , You shall not either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

3 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, But I do not talk of the beginning or the end. There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now, And will never be any more than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world. Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always , Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life. To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so. Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams, Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery here we stand. Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul. Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn. Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age, Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself. Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean, Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest. I am satisfied—I see, , laugh, sing; As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread, Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the house with their plenty, Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,

Page | 6 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

That they turn from gazing after and down , And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent, Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is ahead?

4 Trippers and askers surround me, People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation, The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, , authors old and new, My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations, Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; These come to me days and nights and go from me again, But they are not the Me myself. Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next, Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it. Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders, I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

5 I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you, And you must not be abased to the other. Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat, Not words, not or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best, Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning, How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare- stript heart, And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet. Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth, And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own, And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers, And that a kelson of the creation is love,

Page | 7 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields, And brown ants in the little wells beneath them, And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed.

6 A said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands, How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. Tenderly will I use you curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps, And here you are the mothers’ laps. This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, Darker than the colourless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps. What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas’d the moment life appear’d. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

7 Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?

Page | 8 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it. I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots, And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself, (They do not know how immortal, but I know.) Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine , For me those that have been boys and that love women, For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted, For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers, For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, For me children and the begetters of children. Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded, I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no, And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.

8 The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand. The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill, I peeringly view them from the top. The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom, I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen. The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders, The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor, The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted , pelts of snow-balls, The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs, The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital, The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall, The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his to the centre of the crowd, The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes, What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sunstruck or in fits, What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes, What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrain’d by decorum, Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips, I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I come and I depart.

Page | 9 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

9 The big of the country barn stand open and ready, The dried grass of the -time loads the slow-drawn wagon, The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged, The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow. I am there, I help, I came stretch’d atop of the load, I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other, I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy, And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

10 Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill’d game, Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by my side. The clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and scud, My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck. The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me, I tuck’d my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time; You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle. I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west, the bride was a red girl, Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders, On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand, She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d to her feet. The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside, I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile, Through the swung half- of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak, And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him, And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d feet, And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes, And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north, I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.

11 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore, Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;

Page | 10 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome. She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank, She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window. Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. Where are you off to, ? for I see you, You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room. Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather, The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them. The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair, Little streams pass’d all over their bodies. An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies, It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs. The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them, They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch, They do not think whom they souse with spray.

12 The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market, I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down. Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil, Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in the fire. From the cinder-strew’d threshold I follow their movements, The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms, Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure, They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

13 The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain, The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string-piece, His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band, His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead, The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs. I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there, I go with the team also. In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing, To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,

Page | 11 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Absorbing all to myself and for this song. Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life. My tread scares the wood- and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble, They rise together, they slowly circle around. I believe in those wing’d purposes, And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional, And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else, And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me, And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

14 The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky. The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the housesill, the chickadee, the -dog, The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, I see in them and myself the same old law. The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, They scorn the best I can do to relate them. I am enamour’d of growing out-doors, Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses, I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out. What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me, Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, Scattering it freely forever.

15 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft, The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp, The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner, The seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm, The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready,

Page | 12 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches, The deacons are ordain’d with cross’d hands at the altar, The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel, The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and looks at the oats and rye, The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm’d case, (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother’s bedroom;) The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript; The malform’d limbs are tied to the surgeon’s table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail; The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove, The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass, The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do not know him;) The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race, The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some their rifles, some sit on logs, Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece; The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee, As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle, The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other, The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof’d garret and harks to the musical rain, The sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron, The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm’d cloth is offering moccasins and bead- bags for sale, The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways, As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore- going passengers, The young sister holds out the skein while sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots, The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child, The clean-hair’d Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in the factory or mill, The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter’s lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the signpainter is lettering with blue and gold, The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread, The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him, The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions, The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white sails sparkle!)

Page | 13 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray, The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;) The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly, The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open’d lips, The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck, The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other, (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;) The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries, On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms, The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold, The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle, As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the jingling of loose change, The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof, the masons are calling for mortar, In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers; Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather’d, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!) Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground; Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface, The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe, Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees, Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through those drain’d by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas, Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw, Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them, In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day’s sport, The city sleeps and the country sleeps, The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time, The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife; And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them, And such as it is to be of these more or less I am, And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

16 I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise, Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse and stuff’d with the stuff that is fine, One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same, A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,

Page | 14 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth, A Kentuckian walking the vale of the in my deer-skin leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian, A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buck-eye; At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland, At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking, At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of , or the Texan ranch, Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving their big proportions,) Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat, A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest, A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons, Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and , A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker, Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest. I resist any thing better than my own diversity, Breathe the air but leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place. (The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place, The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place, The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)

17 These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me, If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing, If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing, If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing. This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is, This the common air that bathes the globe.

18 With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums, I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer’d and slain persons. Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. I beat and pound for the dead, I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them. Vivas to those who have fail’d!

Page | 15 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!

19 This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger, It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all, I will not have a single person slighted or left away, The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited, The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited, the venerealee is invited; There shall be no difference between them and the rest. This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair, This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning, This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face, This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again. Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has. Do you take it I would astonish? Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods? Do I astonish more than they? This hour I tell things in confidence, I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

20 Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you? All I mark as my own you shall it with your own, Else it were time lost listening to me. I do not snivel that snivel the world over, That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth. Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-remov’d, I wear my hat as I please indoors or out. Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious? Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel’d with doctors and calculated close, I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones. In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less, And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,

Page | 16 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. I know I am deathless, I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter’s compass, I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt at night. I know I am august, I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, I see that the elementary never apologize, (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.) I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware I sit content, And if each and all be aware I sit content. One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself, And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years, I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite, I laugh at what you call dissolution, And I know the amplitude of time.

21 I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, The of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. I chant the chant of dilation or pride, We have had ducking and deprecating about enough, I show that size is only development. Have you outstript the rest? are you the President? It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on. I am he that walks with the tender and growing night, I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night. Press close bare-bosom’d night—press close magnetic nourishing night! Night of south winds—night of the large few stars! Still nodding night—mad naked summer night. Smile O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow’d earth—rich apple-’d earth! Smile, for your lover comes.

Page | 17 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Prodigal, you have given me love—therefore I to you give love! O unspeakable passionate love.

22 You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess what you mean, I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers, I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me, We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land, Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse, Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you. Sea of stretch’d ground-swells, Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths, Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell’d yet always-ready graves, Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea, I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases. Partaker of influx and efflux, I, extoller of hate and conciliation, Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others’ arms. I am he attesting sympathy, (Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?) I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also. What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent, My gait is no fault-finder’s or rejecter’s gait, I moisten the roots of all that has grown. Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy? Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work’d over and rectified? I find one side a balance and the antipodal side a balance, Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine, Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early . This minute that comes to me over the past decillions, There is no better than it and now. What behaved well in the past or behaves well to-day is not such a wonder, The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.

23 Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse. A word of the faith that never balks, Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely. It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all, That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all. I accept Reality and dare not question it, first and last imbuing.

Page | 18 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Hurrah for positive ! long live exact demonstration! Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac, This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of the old cartouches, These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown , This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel, and this is a mathematician. Gentlemen, to you the first honors always! Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling, I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling. Less the reminders of told my words, And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and extrication, And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt, And beat the of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that plot and conspire.

24 Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of the son, Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding. No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them, No more modest than immodest. Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! Whoever degrades another degrades me, And whatever is done or said returns at last to me. Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current and index. I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy, By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms. Through me many long dumb voices, Voices of the interminable generation of prisoners and slaves, Voices of the diseas’d and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs, Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the father-stuff, And of the rights of them the others are down upon, Of the deform’d, trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung. Through me forbidden voices, Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil’d and I remove the veil, Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur’d. I do not press my fingers across my mouth, I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart, Copulation is no more rank to me than death is. I believe in the flesh and the appetites, Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.

Page | 19 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from, The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer, This head more than churches, , and all the creeds. If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it, Translucent mould of me it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you! Firm masculine colter it shall be you! Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you! You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life! Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you! My brain it shall be your occult convolutions! Root of wash’d sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you! Mix’d tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you! Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you! Sun so generous it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you! You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you! Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you! Hands I have taken, face I have ’d, mortal I have ever touch’d, it shall be you. I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious, Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy, I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish, Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again. That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be, A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. To behold the day-break! The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows, The air tastes good to my palate. Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising, freshly exuding, Scooting obliquely high and low. Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs, Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven. The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction, The heav’d challenge from the east that moment over my head, The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!

25 Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me, If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.

Page | 20 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun, We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the day-break. My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach, With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds. Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, Walt you contain enough, why don’t you let it out then? Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of articulation, Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are folded? in gloom, protected by frost, The dirt receding before my prophetical screams, I underlying causes to balance them at last, My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things, Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day.) My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really am, Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me, I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you. Writing and talk do not prove me, I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face, With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.

26 Now I will do nothing but listen, To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it. I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals. I hear the sound I love, the sound of the voice, I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following, Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night, Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals, The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick, The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence, The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters, The of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color’d lights, The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars, The slow march play’d at the head of the association marching two and two, (They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.) I hear the violoncello, (‘tis the young man’s heart’s complaint,) I hear the key’d cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears, It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.

Page | 21 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I hear the chorus, it is a grand , Ah this indeed is music—this suits me. A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me, The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full. I hear the train’d soprano (what work with hers is this?) The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies, It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess’d them, It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick’d by the indolent waves, I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath, Steep’d amid honey’d morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death, At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, And that we call Being.

27 To be in any form, what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,) If nothing lay more develop’d the quahaug in its callous shell were enough. Mine is no callous shell, I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop, They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me. I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy, To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.

28 Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity, Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them, My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself, On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs, Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, Depriving me of my best as for a purpose, Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist, Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields, Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me, No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger, Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while, Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me. The sentries desert every other part of me, They have left me helpless to a red marauder, They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me. I am given up by traitors,

Page | 22 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor, I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there. You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its throat, Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.

29 Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath’d hooded sharp-tooth’d touch! Did it make you ache so, leaving me? Parting track’d by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual loan, Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward. Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and vital, Landscapes projected masculine, full-sized and golden.

30 All truths wait in all things, They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, The insignificant is as big to me as any, (What is less or more than a touch?) Logic and sermons never convince, The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul. (Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, Only what nobody denies is so.) A minute and a drop of me settle my brain, I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.

31 I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels. I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots, And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over, And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons, But call any thing back again when I desire it. In vain the speeding or shyness,

Page | 23 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach, In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder’d bones, In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes, In vain the ocean setting in hollows and the great monsters lying low, In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky, In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs, In vain the takes to the inner passes of the woods, In vain the razor-bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador, I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.

32 I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. So they show their relations to me and I accept them, They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession. I wonder where they get those tokens, Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them? Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them, Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers, Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms. A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses, Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving. His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him, His well-built limbs tremble with as we race around and return. I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion, Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them? Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

33 Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess’d at, What I guess’d when I loaf’d on the grass, What I guess’d while I lay alone in my bed, And again as I walk’d the beach under the paling stars of the morning.

Page | 24 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps, I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents, I am afoot with my vision. By the city’s quadrangular houses—in log huts, camping with lumbermen, Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed, Weeding my onion-patch or hoeing rows of carrots and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in forests, Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a new purchase, Scorch’d ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river, Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the buck turns furiously at the hunter, Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish, Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou, Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail; Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower’d cotton plant, over the rice in its low moist field, Over the sharp-peak’d farm house, with its scallop’d scum and slender shoots from the gutters, Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav’d corn, over the delicate blue- flower flax, Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest, Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze; Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs, Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush, Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheatlot, Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month , where the great gold-bug drops through the dark, Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow, Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides, Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth- slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters; Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders, Where the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs, Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it myself and looking composedly down,) Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand, Where the she-whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it, Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke, Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water, Where the half-burn’d brig is riding on unknown currents,

Page | 25 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupting below; Where the dense-starr’d flag is borne at the head of the regiments, Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island, Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance, Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside, Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball, At he-, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter, At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw, At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find, At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings; Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps, Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are scatter’d, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel, Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen, Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks, Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie, Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near, Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding, Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh, Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the high weeds, Where band-neck’d partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out, Where burial coaches enter the arch’d gates of a cemetery, Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees, Where the yellow-crown’d heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs, Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon, Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the wall, Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with -wired leaves, Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs, Through the gymnasium, through the curtain’d saloon, through the office or public hall; Pleas’d with the native and pleas’d with the foreign, pleas’d with the new and old, Pleas’d with the homely woman as well as the handsome, Pleas’d with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously, Pleas’d with the tune of the choir of the whitewash’d church, Pleas’d with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, impress’d seriously at the camp-meeting; Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon, flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,

Page | 26 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn’d up to the clouds, or down a lane or along the beach, My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle; Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek’d bush-boy, (behind me he rides at the drape of the day,) Far from the settlements studying the print of animals’ feet, or the moccasin print, By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient, Nigh the coffin’d corpse when all is still, examining with a candle; Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure, Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and flickle as any, Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him, Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while, Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God by my side, Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars, Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles, Speeding with tail’d meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest, Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly, Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing, I tread day and night such roads. I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product, And look at quintillions ripen’d and look at quintillions green. I fly those flights of a fluid and swallowing soul, My course runs below the soundings of plummets. I help myself to material and immaterial, No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me. I anchor my ship for a little while only, My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me. I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a pike-pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue. I ascend to the foretruck, I take my place late at night in the crow’s-nest, We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough, Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty, The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is plain in all directions, The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my fancies toward them, We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged, We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still feet and caution, Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin’d city, The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe. I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading watchfires,

Page | 27 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself, I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips. My voice is the wife’s voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs, They fetch my man’s body up dripping and drown’d. I understand the large hearts of heroes, The courage of present times and all times, How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steamship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm, How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights, And chalk’d in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you; How he follow’d with them and tack’d with them three days and would not give it up, How he saved the drifting company at last, How the lank loose-gown’d women look’d when boated from the side of their prepared graves, How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp’d unshaved men; All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine, I am the man, I suffer’d, I was there. The disdain and calmness of martyrs, The mother of old, condemn’d for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on, The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover’d with sweat, The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous buckshot and the bullets, All these I feel or am. I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen, I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn’d with the ooze of my skin, I fall on the weeds and stones, The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks. Agonies are one of my changes of garments, I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person, My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe. I am the mash’d fireman with breast-bone broken, Tumbling walls buried me in their debris, Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my , I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels, They have clear’d the beams away, they tenderly life me forth. I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my sake, Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy,

Page | 28 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared of their fire-caps, The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches. Distant and dead resuscitate, They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself. I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort’s bombardment, I am there again. Again the long roll of the drummers, Again the attacking cannon, mortars, Again to my listeing ears the cannon responsive. I take part, I see and hear the whole, The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim’d shots, The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip, Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs, The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explosion, The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air. Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand, He gasps through the clot Mind not me—mind—the entrenchments.

34 Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth, (I tell not the fall of Alamo, Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,) ‘Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men. Retreating they had form’d in a hollow square with their for breastworks, Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance, Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone, They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv’d writing and seal, gave up their arms and march’d back prisoners of war. They were the glory of the race of rangers, Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate, Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters, Not a single one over thirty years of age. The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer, The work commenced about five o’clock and was over by eight. None obey’d the command to kneel, Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight, A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together, The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there, Some half-kill’d attempted to crawl away,

Page | 29 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

These were despatch’d with bayonets or batter’d with the blunts of muskets. A youth not seventeen years old seiz’d his assassin till two more came to release him, The three were all torn and cover’d with the boy’s blood. At eleven o’clock began the burning of the bodies; That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.

35 Would you hear of an old-time sea-fight? Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars? List to the yarn, as my grandmother’s father the sailor told it to me. Our foe was no skulk in his ship I tell you, (said he,) His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be; Along the lower’d eve he came horribly raking us. We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch’d, My captain lash’d fast with his own hands. We had receiv’d some eighteen pound shots under the water, On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead. Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark, Ten o’clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported, The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold to give them a chance for themselves. The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels, They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust. Our frigate takes fire, The other asks if we demand quarter? If our colors are struck and the fighting done? Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain, We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting. Only three guns are in use, One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy’s main-mast, Two well serv’d with grape and canister silence his musketry and clear his decks. The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top, They hold out bravely during the whole of the . Not a moment’s cease, The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder-magazine. One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking. Serene stands the little captain, He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low, His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns. Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us.

Page | 30 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

36 Stretch’d and still lies the midnight, Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness, Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer’d, The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet, Near by the corpse of the child that serv’d in the cabin, The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl’d whiskers, The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below, The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty, Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars, Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves, Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent, A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining, Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death- messages given in charge to survivors, The hiss of the surgeon’s knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw, Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan, These so, these irretrievable.

37 You laggards there on guard! look to your arms! In at the conquer’d doors they crowd! I am possess’d! Embody all presences outlaw’d or suffering, See myself in prison shaped like another man, And feel the dull unintermitted pain, For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch, It is I let out in the morning and barr’d at night. Not a mutineer walks handcuff’d to jail but I am handcuff’d to him and walk by his side, (I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips.) Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced. Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp, My face is ash-color’d, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat. Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them, I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.

38 Enough! enough! enough! Somehow I have been stunn’d. Stand back! Give me a little time beyond my cuff’d head, slumbers, dreams, gaping, I discover myself on the verse of a usual mistake.

Page | 31 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

That I could forget the mockers and insults! That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and hammers! That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning! I remember now, I resume the overstaid fraction, The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves, Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me. I troop forth replenish’d with supreme power, one of an average unending procession, Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years. Eleves, I salute you! come forward! Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.

39 The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for , or past it and it? Is he some Southwesterner rais’d out-doors? is he Kanadian? Is he from the country? Iowa, Oregon, California? The mountains? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea? Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him, They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them. Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as grass, uncomb’d head, laughter, and naivetè, Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations, They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers, They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.

40 Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask—lie over! You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also. Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands, Say, old top-knot, what do you want? Man or woman, I might tell how I like you, but cannot, And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot, And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days. Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself. You there, impotent, loose in the knees, Open your scarf’d chops till I blow grit within you, Spread your palms and life the flaps of your pockets, I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare, And any thing I have I bestow.

Page | 32 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me, You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you. To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean, On his right cheek I put the family kiss, And in my soul I swear I never will deny him. On women fit for conception I start bigger and nimbler babes, (This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.) To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door, Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed, Let the physician and the priest go home. I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will, O despairer, here is my neck, By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me. I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up, Every room of the house do I fill with an arm’d force, Lovers of me, bafflers of graves. Sleep—I and they keep guard all night, Not doubt, not disease shall dare to lay finger upon you, I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself, And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.

41 I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs, And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help. I heard what was said of the universe, Heard it and heard it of several thousand years; It is middling well as far as it goes—but is that all? Magnifying and applying come I, Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters, Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah, Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson, Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha, In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved, With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image, Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more, Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days, (They bore mites as for unfledg’d birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,) Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see, Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house, Putting higher claims for him there with his roll’d-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,

Page | 33 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation, Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars, Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction, Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr’d laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames; By the mechanic’s wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for every person born, Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels with shirts bagg’d out at their waists, The snag-tooth’d hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come, Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery; What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and not filling the square rod then, The bull and the bug never worshipp’d half enough, Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream’d, The of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes, The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious; By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator, Putting myself here and now to the ambush’d womb of the shadows.

42 A call in the midst of the crowd, My own voice, orotund sweeping and final. Come my children, Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates, Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass’d his prelude on the reeds within. Easily written loose-finger’d chords—I feel the thrum of your climax and close. My head slues round on my neck, Music rolls, but not from the organ, Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine. Ever the hard unsunk ground, Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless tides, Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real, Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn’d thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts, Ever the vexer’s hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring him forth, Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life, Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death. Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,

Page | 34 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning, Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going, Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving, A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming. This is the city and I am one of the citizens, Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools, The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate. The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail’d coats, I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,) I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me, What I do and say the same waits for them, Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them. I know perfectly well my own egotism, Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less, And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself. Not words of routine this song of mine, But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring; This printed and bound book—but the printer and the -office boy? The well-taken photographs—but your wife or close and solid in your arms? The black ship mail’d with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and engineers? In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture—but the host and hostess, and the look out of their eyes? The sky up there—yet here or next door, or across the way? The saints and sages in history—but you yourself? Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathomless human brain, And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?

43 I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over, My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths, Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern, Believing I shall come again upon the earth thousand years, Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun, Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in the circle of obis, Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the idols, Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and austere in the woods a gymnosophist, Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to Shastas and admirant, minding the Koran,

Page | 35 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum, Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing assuredly that he is divine, To the mass kneeling or the puritan’s prayer rising, or sitting patiently in a pew, Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me, Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land, Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits. One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey. Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded, Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten’d, atheistical, I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief. How the flukes splash! How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood! Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers, I take my place among you as much as among any, The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same, And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all precisely the same. I do not know what is untried and afterward, But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail. Each who passes is consider’d, each who stops is consider’d, not a single one can it fail. It cannot fail the young man who died and was buried, Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side, Nor the little child that peep’d in at the door, and then drew back and was never seen again, Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with bitterness worse than gall, Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad disorder, Nor the numberless slaughter’d and wreck’d, nor the brutish koboo call’d the ordure of , Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in, Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth, Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads that inhabit them, Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.

44 It is time to explain myself—let us stand up. What is known I strip away, I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown. The clock indicates the moment—but what does eternity indicate? We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.

Page | 36 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Births have brought us richness and variety, And other births will bring us richness and variety. I do not call one greater and one smaller, That which fills its period and place is equal to any. Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister? I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me, All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation, (What have I to do with lamentation?) I am an acme of things accomplish’d, and I an encloser of things to be. My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs, On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps, All below duly travel’d, and still I mount and mount. Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me, Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there, I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist, And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon. Long I was hugg’d close—long and long. Immense have been the preparations for me, Faithful and friendly the arms that have help’d me. Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen, For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings, They sent influences to look after what was to hold me. Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me, My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it. For it the nebula cohered to an orb, The long slow strata piled to rest it on, Vast vegetables gave it sustenance, Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care. All forces have been steadily employ’d to complete and delight me, Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.

45 O span of youth! ever-push’d elasticity! O manhood, balanced, florid and full. My lovers suffocate me, Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin, Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night, Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and chirping over my head, Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush, Lighting on every moment of my life, Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses, Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine. Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!

Page | 37 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows after and out of itself, And the dark hush promulges as much as any. I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems, And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems. Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding, Outward and outward and forever outward. My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels, He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit, And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them. There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage, If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run, We should surely bring up again where we now stand, And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther. A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do not hazard the span or make it impatient, They are but parts, any thing is but a part. See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that, Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that. My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain, The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms, The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.

46 I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured. I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!) My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods, No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair, I have no chair, no church, no , I lead no man to a dinner-table, , exchange, But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll, My left hand hooking you round the waist, My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road. Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you, You must travel it for yourself. It is not far, it is within reach, Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know, Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land. Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth, Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go. If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,

Page | 38 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me, For after we start we never lie by again. This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven, And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then? And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond. You are also asking me questions and I hear you, I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself. Sit a while dear son, Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink, But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence. Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams, Now I wash the gum from your eyes, You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life. Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore, Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

47 I am the teacher of athletes, He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own, He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher. The boy I love, the same becomes a man not through derived power, but in his own right, Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear, Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak, Unrequited love or a slight cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts, First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull’s eye, to sail a skiff, to sing a song or play on the banjo, Preferring scars and the beard and faces pitted with small-pox over all latherers, And those well-tann’d to those that keep out of the sun. I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me? I follow you whoever you are from the present hour, My words itch at your ears till you understand them. I do not say these things for a dollar or to fill up the time while I wait for a boat, (It is you talking just as much as myself, I as the tongue of you, Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen’d.) I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house, And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air. If you would understand me go to the heights or water-shore,

Page | 39 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves a key, The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words. No shutter’d room or school can commune with me, But roughs and little children better than they. The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows me well, that takes his axe and jug with him shall take me with him all day, The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my voice, In vessels that sail my words sail, I go with fishermen and seamen and love them. The soldier camp’d or upon the march is mine, On the night ere the pending battle many seek me, and I do not fail them, On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek me. My face rubs to the hunter’s face when he lies down alone in his blanket, The driver thinking of me does not mind the jolt of his wagon, The young mother and old mother comprehend me, The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment and forget where they are, They and all would resume what I have told them.

48 I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is, And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud, And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth, And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its confounds the learning of all times, And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero, And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe, And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes. And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, (No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.) I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least, Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself. Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass, I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go, Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

49 And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me. To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes,

Page | 40 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting, I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors, And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape. And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me, I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing, I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish’d breasts of melons. And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths, (No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.) I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven, O suns—O grass of graves—O perpetual transfers and promotions, If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing? Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest, Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight, Toss, sparkles of day and dusk—toss on the black stems that decay in the muck, Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs. I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night, I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected, And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.

50 There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me. Wrench’d and sweaty—calm and cool then my body becomes, I sleep—I sleep long. I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word unsaid, It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol. Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on, To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me. Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and sisters. Do you see O my brothers and sisters? It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is Happiness.

51 The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them, And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. Listener up there! what have you to confide to me? Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.) Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper? Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

Page | 41 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

52 The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering. I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. The last scud of day holds back for me, It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds, It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk. I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you.

1.3.2 “Oh Captain! My Captain!”

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

Page | 42 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.


1 Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face! Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me! On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose, And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

2 The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day, The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme, The similitudes of the past and those of the future, The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the street and the passage over the river, The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away, The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them, The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore, Others will watch the run of the flood-tide, Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east, Others will see the islands large and small; Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high, A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

3 It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not, I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence, Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt, Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,

Page | 43 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d, Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried, Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old, Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my head in the sunlit water, Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward, Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet, Look’d toward the lower bay to notice the vessels arriving, Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me, Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at anchor, The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars, The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants, The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-houses, The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels, The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset, The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening, The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite storehouses by the docks, On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank’d on each side by the barges, the hay-boat, the belated lighter, On the neighboring shore the fires from the foundry chimneys burning high and glaringly into the night, Casting their flicker of black contrasted with wild red and yellow light over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of streets.

4 These and all else were to me the same as they are to you, I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river, The men and women I saw were all near to me, Others the same—others who look back on me because I look’d forward to them, (The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)

Page | 44 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

5 What is it then between us? What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not, I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it, I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me, In the day among crowds of people sometimes they came upon me, In my walks home late at night or as I lay in my bed they came upon me, I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution, I too had receiv’d identity by my body, That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I should be of my body.

6 It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, The dark threw its patches down upon me also, The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious, My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre? Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil, I am he who knew what it was to be evil, I too knitted the old knot of contrariety, Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d, Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak, Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant, The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me, The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting, Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting, Was one with the rest, the days and haps of the rest, Was call’d by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as they saw me approaching or passing, Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of their flesh against me as I sat, Saw many I loved in the street or ferry-boat or public assembly, yet never told them a word, Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing, sleeping,

Play’d the part that still looks back on the actor or actress, The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we like, Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

Page | 45 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

7 Closer yet I approach you, What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you—I laid in my stores in advance, I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me? Who knows but I am enjoying this? Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

8 Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than mast-hemm’d Manhattan? River and sunset and scallop-edg’d waves of flood-tide? The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight, and the belated lighter?

What gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I approach? What is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face? Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you?

We understand then do we not? What I promis’d without mentioning it, have you not accepted? What the study could not teach—what the preaching could not accomplish is accomplish’d, is it not?

9 Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide! Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves! Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me! Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers! Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn! Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers! Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution! Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or street or public assembly!

Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name! Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress! Play the old role, the role that is great or small according as one makes it!

Page | 46 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be looking upon you; Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current; Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air; Receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you! Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any one’s head, in the sunlit water! Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail’d schooners, sloops, lighters! Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower’d at sunset! Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the houses!

Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are, You necessary , continue to envelop the soul, About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung out divinest aromas, Thrive, cities—bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers, Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual, Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers, We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward, Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us, We use you, and do not cast you aside—we plant you permanently within us, We fathom you not—we love you—there is perfection in you also, You furnish your parts toward eternity, Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.

1.3.4 Reading and Review Questions 1. How does Whitman’s use of challenge readers? What features and/or elements of Whitman’s poetry help us to understand how to read it? 2. How does Whitman’s use of natural elements compare to his use of man- made or urban elements in his poetry? 3. How would you describe the voice of Whitman’s poetry? 4. How does Whitman’s poetry engage with the Civil War?

Page | 47 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

1.4 Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)

Born into an influential and socially prominent New England family in 1830, Emily Dickinson benefited from a level of education and mobility that most of her contemporaries, female and male, could not comprehend. The middle child of Edward Dickinson and Emily Norcross, Dickinson, along with her older brother Austin and younger sister Lavinia, received both an extensive formal education and the informal education that came by way of countless visitors to the family homestead Image 1.2 | Emily Dickinson, 1848 during Edward Dickinson’s political career. Photographer | Unknown Contrary to popular depictions of her life, Source | Wikimedia Commons Dickinson did travel outside of Amherst but License | Public Domain ultimately chose to remain at home in the close company of family and friends. An intensely private person, Dickinson exerted almost singular control over the distribution of her poetry during her lifetime. That control, coupled with early portrayals of her as reclusive, has led many readers to assume that Dickinson was a fragile and timid figure whose formal, mysterious, concise, and clever poetry revealed the mind of a trapped in the rigid confines of the nineteenth century. More recent scholarship demonstrates not only the fallacy of Dickinson’s depiction as the ghostly “Belle of Amherst,” but also reveals the technical complexity of her poetry that predates the Modernism of T. S. Eliot, , William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore by almost three-quarters of a century. In the selections that follow, Dickinson’s poetry displays both her technical proficiency and her embrace of techniques that were new to the nineteenth century. Like her contemporary Walt Whitman, Dickinson used poetry to show her readers familiar landscapes from a fresh perspective. The selections that follow, from Dickinson’s most prolific years (1861-1865), illustrate the poet’s mastery of the lyric—a short poem that often expresses a single theme such as the speaker’s or feeling. “I taste a liquor never brewed –,” our first selection, celebrates the poet’s relationship to the natural world in both its wordplay (note the use of liquor in line one to indicate both an alcoholic beverage in the first stanza and a rich nectar in the third) and its naturalimagery . Here, as in many of her poems, Dickinson’s vibrant language demonstrates a vital spark in to her reclusive image. Our second selection, “The Soul selects her own Society –,” shows Dickinson using well-known images of power and authority to celebrate the independence of the soul in the face of expectations. In both of these first two poems, readers will note the celebrations of the individual will that engages fully with life without becoming either intoxicated or enslaved. The third

Page | 48 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870) selection, “Because I could not stop for Death –,” one of the most famous poems in the Dickinson canon, forms an important to our second selection in that both poems show Dickinson’s precise control over the speaker’s relationship to not only the natural world but also the divine. While death cannot be avoided, neither is it to be feared; the speaker of this poem reminds readers that the omnipresence of death does not mean that death is immanent. This idea of death as always present and potential comes full circle in the final selection in this unit, “My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –.” Here Dickinson plays with our preconceptions not only of death, but also of energy which appears always to be waiting for someone to unleash it. Considered carefully, these four poems demonstrate the range of Dickinson’s reach as a poet. In these lyrics, mortality and desire combine in precise lyrics that awaken both our imagination and our awareness of the natural world.


I taste a liquor never brewed, From tankards scooped in pearl; Not all the vats upon the Rhine Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I, And debauchee of dew, Reeling, through endless summer days, From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee Out of the foxglove’s door, When butterflies renounce their drams, I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats, And saints to windows run, To see the little tippler Leaning against the sun!


The soul selects her own society, Then shuts the door; On her divine majority Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing At her low gate;

Page | 49 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation Choose one; Then close the valves of her attention Like stone.


Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility.

We passed the school where children played, Their lessons scarcely done; We passed the fields of gazing grain, We passed the setting sun.


My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun— In Corners—till a Day The Owner passed—identified— And carried Me away—

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods— And now We hunt the Doe— And every time I speak for Him— The Mountains straight reply—

And do I smile, such cordial light Upon the Valley glow— It is as a Vesuvian face Had let its pleasure through—

And when at Night—Our good Day done— I guard My Master’s Head— ‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s Deep Pillow—to have shared—

To foe of His—I’m deadly foe— None stir the second time— On whom I lay a Yellow Eye— Or an emphatic Thumb—

Page | 50 Writing the Nation Late Romanticism (1855-1870)

Though I than He—may longer live He longer must—than I— For I have but the power to kill, Without—the power to die—

1.4.4 Reading and Review Questions 1. Many of Dickinson’s poems are rhythmically similar to popular nineteenth- century songs. How do those similarities help us to understand Dickinson’s poetry? 2. Death and isolation are common themes in Dickinson’s poetry, yet her poems rarely seem melancholy. What elements prevent her poems from becoming too solemn? 3. How do Dickinson’s poems support or challenge what we think we know about gender roles in the nineteenth century? 4. Compare and contract Dickinson’s isolation with Whitman’s aggressively public persona.


• Cadence • Imagery • Civil War • Lyric • Emily Dickinson • Meter • First Transcontinental • Rhyme Railroad • Romanticism • Free Verse • Walt Whitman

Page | 51 Realism (1865-1890) Amy Berke, Jordan Cofer, and Doug Davis

22.1 Learning Outcomes After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Describe the post-Civil War context of American culture at the time Realistic writing came into prominence. • List the features of American . • List the features of the two sub-movements that preceded Realism: Local Color and Regionalism. • Identify stylistic elements of Local Color, Regionalism, and Realism in literary selections. • Identify major distinctions and differences among the literary styles of Local Color, Regionalism, and Realism. • Analyze the ways in which women’s literature develops in this period. • Analyze themes in an early work by an African-American writer.

Page | 52 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.2 Introduction After the Civil War and toward the end of the nineteenth century, America experienced significant change. With the closing of the Western frontier and in- creasing urbanization and industrialization, and with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad and the advent of new communication technol- ogies such as the telegraph, America began to emerge as a more unified nation as it moved into the Industrial Age. As immigration from both Europe and Asia peaked during the last half of the nineteenth century, immigrants provided cheap labor to rising urban centers in the Northeast and eventually in the Midwest. There was a subsequent rise in the middle class for the first time in America, as the eco- nomic landscape of the country began to change. The country’s social, political, and began to change as well. Women argued for the right to vote, to own , and to earn their own living, and, as African-Americans began to rise to social and political prominence, they called for social equality and the right to vote as well. Workers in factories and businesses began to lobby for better working conditions, organizing to create unions. Free public schools opened throughout the nation, and, by the turn of the century, the majority of children in the United States attended school. Throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, activists and reformers worked to battle injustice and social ills. Within this heady mix of political, economic, social, and cultural change, American writ- ers began to look more to contemporary society and social issues for their writing material, rather than to the distant or fictional past. The first members of the new generation of writers sought to create anew American literature, one that distinctly reflected American life and values and did not mimic British literary customs. At the same time, these writers turned to the past, toward writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and , and reacted against their predecessors’ allegiance to the Romantic style of writ- ing which favored the ideal over the real representation of life in fiction. William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and Henry James wrote prolifically about the Realistic method, where writers created characters and plot based on average people expe- riencing the common concerns of everyday life, and they also produced their own literary masterpieces using this style. All writers in the Realistic shared a commitment to referential narra- tive. Their readers expected to meet characters that resembled ordinary people, often of the middle class, living in ordinary circumstances, who experienced plau- sible real-life struggles and who often, as in life, were unable to find resolution to their conflicts. Realists developed these characters by using ordinary speech in , commensurate to the ’s . Often in Realistic sto- ries, and plot became intertwined, as the plot was formed from the exploration of a character working through or reacting to a particular issue or struggle. In other words, character often drove the plot of the story. Characters in Realistic fiction were three-dimensional, and their inner lives were often revealed through an objective, omniscient narrator.

Page | 53 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Realists set their fiction in places that actually existed, and they were inter- ested in recent or contemporary life, not in history or . Setting in Realistic fiction was important but was not limited to a particular place or region. Realists believed in the accuracy of detail, and, for them, accuracy helped build the “truth” conveyed in the work. The implied assumption for these writers is that “reality” is verifiable, is separate from human perception of it, and can be agreed upon collec- tively. Finally, Realistic writers believed that the function of the author is to show, not simply tell. The story should be allowed to tell itself with a decided lack of au- thorial intrusion. Realistic writers attempted to avoid sentimentality or any kind of forced or heavy-handed emotional appeal. The three most prominent theorists and practitioners of American Literary Realism are Mark Twain, often called the comic Realist; William Dean Howells, often termed the social Realist; and Henry James, often characterized as the psychological Realist. Two earlier literary styles contributed to the emergence of Realism: Local Color and Regionalism. These two sub-movements cannot be completely sepa- rated from one another or from Realism itself, since all three styles have intersect- ing points. However, there are distinct features of each style that bear comparison.

2.2.1 Local Color (1865-1885)

After the Civil War, as the country became more unified, regions of the country that were previously “closed” politically or isolated geographically became interest- ing to the populace at large. Readers craved stories about eccentric, peculiar char- acters living in isolated locales. Local Color writing therefore involves a detailed setting forth of the characteristics of a particular locality, enabling the reader to “see” the setting. The writer typically is concerned with habits, customs, religious practices, dress, fashion, favorite foods, language, dialect, common expressions, peculiarities, and surrounding flora and fauna of a particular locale. Local Color pieces were sometimes told from the perspective of an outsider (such as travelers or journalists) looking into a particular rural, isolated locale that had been gener- ally closed off from the contemporary world. In some stories, the local inhabitants would examine their own environments, nostalgically trying to preserve in writing the “ways things were” in the “good old days.” The Local Color story often involved a worldly “stranger” coming into a rather closed off locale populated with com- mon folk. From there the story took a variety of turns, but often the stranger, who believed he was superior to the country bumpkins, was fooled or tricked in some way. Nostalgia and sentimentality, and even elements of the Romantic style of the earlier part of the century, may infuse a Local Color story. Often, the story is hu- morous, with a local trickster figure outwitting the more urbane outsider or inter- loper. In Local Color stories about the Old South, for example, nostalgia for a by- gone era may be prevalent. The “plantation ” popularized by , for instance, might offer a highly filtered and altered view of plantation life as idyllic, for both master and slave. Local Color stories about the West, such as Mark Twain’s “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” might offer raucous stories with

Page | 54 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) stock characters of gamblers or miners who outwit the interloper from the city, who flaunts his superiority over the locals. An early African-American writer, Charles Chesnutt, used the Local Color style of writing to deconstruct the plantation myth by showing the innate dignity, intelligence, and power of slaves or former slaves who outwit the white racist landowners. Local Color writing can be seen as a transitional type of writing that took Amer- ican literature away from the Romantic style and more firmly into the Realistic style. The characters are more realistically drawn, with very human, sometimes ignoble, traits: they swear, speak in regional dialect, swat flies away from their fac- es, and make mistakes; they are both comic and pitiable. The setting is realistically drawn as well: a real-life location, with accurate depictions of setting, people, and local customs. Local Color writing, however, does not reach the more stylistically and thematically complicated dimensions of Realistic writing. Local Color works tend to be somewhat sentimental stories with happy endings or at least endings where good prevails over evil. Characters are often flat or two-dimensional who are either good or bad. Outlandish and improbable events often happen during the course of the story, and characters sometimes undergo dramatic and unbelievable changes in characterization. Local Color did, however, begin a trend in American literature that allowed for a more authentic American style and storyline about characters who speak like Americans, not the British aristocracy, real-life Ameri- can places, and more down-to-earth, recognizably human characters.

2.2.2 Regionalism (1875-1895)

Regionalism can be seen as a more sophisticated form of Local Color, with the author using one main character (the protagonist) to offer a specific point of view in the story. Regionalist writers often employ Local Color elements in their fiction. After all, they are concerned with the characteristics of a particular locale or region. How- ever, regionalist writers tell the story empathetically, from the protagonist’s perspec- tive. That is, the Regional writer attempts to render a convincing surface of a partic- ular time and place, but investigates the psychological character traits from a more universal perspective. Characters tend to be more three-dimensional and the plot less formulaic or predictable. Often what prevents Regional writers from squarely falling into the category of “Realist” is their tendency toward nostalgia, sentimental- ity, authorial intrusion, or a rather contrived or happy ending. In Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron,” for example, the story has a number of features of Local Color stories: characters speak in a New England dialect, the landscape is described in detail, the customs and rituals of farming class families are described, and an outsider—the young male ornithologist—comes to this se- cluded region with a sense of superiority and is thwarted in his endeavors by young Sylvy who refuses to give up the secret location of the heron. However, the story is told from the perspective of Sylvy, and readers gain insight into her inner conflict as she attempts to make a difficult decision. We gain awareness of Sylvy’s complex- ity as a character, a young girl who is faced with making an adult decision, a choice

Page | 55 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) that will force her to grow up and face the world from a more mature stance. Jewett does, at times, allow the narrator to intrude in order to encourage readers to feel sympathy for Sylvy. Therefore, the story does not exhibit the objectivity of a Realistic story. Regionalism has often been used as a term to describe many works by during the late nineteenth century; however, it is a term which, unfortu- nately, has confined these women writers’ contribution to American literature to a particular style. Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins Freeman, for example, cer- tainly wrote about the New England region, but their larger focus was on ordinary women in domestic spaces who seek self-agency in a male-dominated culture. Kate Chopin set most of her works among the Creole and Acadian social classes of the Louisiana Bayou region, yet the larger themes of her works offer examinations of women who long for passionate and personal fulfillment and for the ability to live authentic, self-directed lives. Like the established theorists of Realism—Howells, Twain, and James—women writers of the time, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Ellen Glasgow, who are generally not thought of as Regional writers, produced work which often defied strict labeling and which contributed to the beginning of a feminist tradition in American literature. While literary labels help frame the style and method of stories written in the late nineteenth century, most literary works—especially those that have withstood the test of time—defy reductionism.

2.3 Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Mark Twain is the pen name of author Sam- uel Langhorne Clemmons. Twain was born in , , but grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, near the banks of the Mississippi Riv- er. This location was a major influence on his work and severed as the setting for many of his stories. Although Twain originally apprenticed as a printer, he spent eighteen months on the training as a riverboat pilot (the name Mark Twain is a reference to a nau- tical term). By the start of the Civil War (1861), traffic on the Mississippi River had slowed considerably, which led Twain to abandon his Image 2.1 | Mark Twain, 1907 dreams of piloting a riverboat. Twain claims to Photographer | A. F. Bradley have spent two weeks in the Marion Rangers, a Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain poorly organized local confederate militia, after leaving his on a riverboat. In 1861, Twain’s brother Orion was appointed by President Lincoln to serve as the Secretary of Nevada, and Twain initially accom- panied him out West, serving as the Assistant Secretary of Nevada. Twain’s adven-

Page | 56 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) tures out West would become the material for his successful book, Roughing It!, published in 1872, following on the heels of the success of his international trav- elogue, Innocents Abroad (1869). While living out West, Twain made a name for himself as a journalist, eventually serving as the editor of the City Daily Territorial Enterprise. The multi-talented Twain rose to prominence as a writer, journalist, , memoirist, , and public speaker. Twain was one of the most influential and important figures of American Literary Realism, achieving fame during his lifetime. Twain was hailed as America’s most famous writer, and is the author of several classic books such as The Adventure of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Roughing It!, Innocents Abroad, (1883), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). Twain is known for his use of dialect, regional humor, and , as well as the repeated theme of having jokes at the expense of an outsider (or work featuring an outsider who comes to fleece locals). In his famous “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” which has also been published under its original title “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” and “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Twain experiments with early versions of meta-fiction, embedding a story within a story. Furthermore, the sto- ry relies on local color humor and regional dialect (“Why blame my cats”) as well as featuring an outsider entering a new place, a staple in Twain’s work. In Roughing It!, which details Twain’s travels out West from 1861-1867, Twain details many adventures visiting with outlaws and other strange characters, as well as encoun- ters with notable figures of the age, such as Brigham Young and Horace Greeley. Furthermore, Roughing It! provided of the frontier from Nevada to San Francisco to to an audience largely unfamiliar with the area. Although he claimed it to be a work of non-fiction, Roughing It! features many fantastic stories of Twain’s travels in the West, several of which were exaggerated or untrue. In “The War Prayer,” a satire of the Spanish-American War (1898), Twain proves to be a master of . The story, which was originally rejected during Twain’s lifetime, begins as a prayer for American soldiers and, as it continues, highlights many of the horrors of war.

2.3.1 “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”

In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired af- ter my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as reques.ted to do, and I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death with some exasperating reminis- cence of him as long and as tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design it succeeded.

Page | 57 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of the di- lapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Engel’s, and noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up and gave me good-day. I told him a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some inquires about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley—Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, who be had heard was at one time a resident of Angel’s Camp. I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to him. Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned his initial sentence, be never betrayed the slightest suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly, that, so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendant genius in finesse. I let him go on in his own way, and never interrupted him once. “Rev. Leonidas W. H’m, Reverend Le—well, there was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of ‘49- or maybe it was the spring of ‘5o—I don’t recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because remember the big flume warn’t finished when he first come to the camp; but any way he was the curiosest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get anybody to on the other side; and if he couldn’t he’d change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him—any way just so’s he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn’t be no solit’ry thing mentioned but that feller’d offer to bet on it, and take any side you please as I was just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you’d find him flush or you’d find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a cat-fight he’d bet on it; if there was a -fight he’d bet on it; why, if there was two birds sitting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg’lar to bet on Parson Walker, which ·he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was too, and a good man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to—to wherever he was going to, and if you took him up he would foller that straddle-bug to but what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was . Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley, and can tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to him—he’d bet on any thing—the dangdest feller. Parson Walker’s wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn’t going to save her; but one morning he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said

Page | 58 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) she was considerable better—thank the Lord for his inf’nit mercy—and coming on so smart that with the blessing of Prov’dence she’d get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, “Well, I’ll resk two-and-a-half she don’t anyway.’’ Thish-yer Smiley had a mare—the boys called her· the fifteen minute nag, but that was only in fun, you know, because of course she was faster than that—and he used to win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and always had the asth- ma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or something of that kind. They used to give her two or three hundred yards’ start, and then pass her under way; but always at the fag end of the race she’d get excited and desperate-like, and come cavorting and straddling up and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and sometimes out to one side amongst the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose—and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near as you could cipher it down. And he had a little small bull-pup that to look at him you’d think he warn’t worth a cent but to set around and look ornery and lay for a chance to steal some- thing. But as soon as money was up on him he was a different dog; his under jaw began to stick out like the fo’castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces. And a dog might tackle him and bullyrag him, and bite him, and throw him over his shoulder two or three times, and Andrew Jackson—which was the name of the pup—Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was sat- isfied, and hadn’t expected nothing else—and the bets being doubled and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was all up; and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j’int of his hind leg and freeze to it—not chaw, you understand, but only just grip and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a year. Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till he harnessed a dog once that did’nt have no hind legs, because they’d been sawed off in a circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money was all up, and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a minute how he’d been imposed on, and how the other dog had him in the door, so to speak, and he ‘peared sur- prised, and then he looked sorter discouraged-like, and didn’t try no more to win the fight, and so he got shucked out bad. He give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn’t no hind legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence in a fight, and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good pup was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he’d lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius—I know it, because he hadn’t no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances if he hadn’t no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when I think of that last fight of his’n, and the way it turned out. Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tom-cats and all them kind of things, till you couldn’t rest, and you couldn’t fetch nothing f or him to bet on but he’d match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and

Page | 59 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) said be cal’lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He’d give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut-see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of catching flies, and kep’ him in practice so con- stant, that he’d nail a fly every time as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education and he could do ‘most anything—and I believe him. Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor—Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog—and sing out, “Flies Dan’l, flies!” and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had travelled and been everywhere, all said he laid over any frog that ever they see. Well, Smiley kep’ the in a little lattice box, and he used to fetch him down town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day, a feller—a stranger in the camp, he was—come acrost him with his box, and says: “What might it be that you’ve got in the box?” And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, “It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, maybe, but it ain’t—it’s only just a frog.” And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, “H’m—so ‘tis. Well, what’s he good for?” “Well,” Smiley, says, easy and careless, “he’s good enough for one thing, I should judge—he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county.” The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look, and gave it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, “Well,’’ he says, “I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.” “Maybe you don’t,” Smiley says. “Maybe you understand frogs and maybe you don’t understand ‘em; maybe you’ve had experience, and maybe you ain’t only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I’ve got my opinion and I’ll resk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county.” And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad like, ‘’Well, I’m only a stranger here, and I aint got no frog; but if I had a frog, I’d bet you.” And then Smiley says, “That’s all right—that’s all right—if you’ll hold my box a minute, I’ll go and get you a frog.’’ And so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley’s, and set down to wait. So he sat there a good while thinking and thinking to hisself, and then he got the frog out and prized his mouth

Page | 60 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) open and took a teaspoon and filled him full of quail shot—filled him pretty near up to his chin—and set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in the mud for along time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him in, and gave him to this feller and says: “Now, if you’re ready, set him alongside of Dan’l, with his fore-paws just even with Dan’l’s, and I’ll give the word.” Then he says, “One—two—three—git !” and him and the feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off lively, but Dan’l gave a heave, and hysted up his shoulders—so—like a Frenchman, but it warn’t no use—he couldn’t budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn’t no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal sur- prised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn’t have no idea what the matter was, of course. The feller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder—so—at Dan’l, and says again, very deliberate, “Well,” he says, “I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.” Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan’l a long time, and at last he says, “I do wonder what in the nation that frog throw’d off for—I wonder if there ain’t something the matter with him—he ‘pears to look mighty _baggy, somehow.” And he ketched Dan’l by the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, “Why, blame my cats if he don’t weigh five pound!” and turned him upside down and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man—he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never ketched him. And—” [Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up to see what was wanted.] And turning to me as he moved away, he said: “Just set where yon are, stranger, and rest easy—I ain’t going to be gone a second.” But, by your leave, I did not think that a of the history of the en- terprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away. At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he button-holed me and re-commenced: “Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller one-eyed cow that didn’t have no tail, only jest a short stump like a bannanner, and—“ However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave.

2.3.2 Selections From Roughing It

CHAPTER VII IT did seem strange enough to see a town again after what appeared to us such a long acquaintance with deep, still, almost lifeless and houseless solitude! We tumbled out into the busy street feeling like meteoric people crumbled off the cor- ner of some other world, and wakened up suddenly in this. For an hour we took as

Page | 61 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) much interest in Overland City as if we had never seen a town before. The reason we had an hour to spare was because we had to change our stage (for a less sump- tuous affair, called a “mud-wagon”) and transfer our freight of mails. Presently we got under way again. We came to the shallow, yellow, muddy South Platte, with its low banks and its scattering flat sand-bars and pigmy islands—a melancholy stream straggling through the centre of the enormous flat plain, and only saved from being impossible to find with the naked eye by its sentinel rank of scattering trees standing on either bank. The Platte was “up,” they said—which made me wish I could see it when it was down, if it could look any sicker and sor- rier. They said it was a dangerous stream to cross, now, because its quicksands were liable to swallow up horses, coach and passengers if an attempt was made to ford it. But the mails had to go, and we made the attempt. Once or twice in midstream the wheels sunk into the yielding sands so threateningly that we half believed we had dreaded and avoided the sea all our lives to be shipwrecked in a “mud-wagon” in the middle of a desert at last. But we dragged through and sped away toward the setting sun. Next morning, just before dawn, when about five hundred and fifty miles from St. Joseph, our mud-wagon broke down. We were to be delayed five or six hours, and therefore we took horses, by invitation, and joined a party who were just starting on a buffalo hunt. It was noble sport galloping over the plain in the dewy freshness of the morning, but our part of the hunt ended in disaster and disgrace, for a wounded buffalo bull chased the passenger Bemis nearly two miles, and then he forsook his horse and took to a lone tree. He was very sullen about the matter for some twen- ty-four hours, but at last he began to soften little by little, and finally he said: “Well, it was not funny, and there was no sense in those gawks making them- selves so facetious over it. I tell you I was angry in earnest for awhile. I should have shot that long gangly lubber they called Hank, if I could have done it with- out crippling six or seven other people—but of course I couldn’t, the old ‘Allen’s’ so confounded comprehensive. I wish those loafers had been up in the tree; they wouldn’t have wanted to laugh so. If I had had a horse worth a cent—but no, the minute he saw that buffalo bull wheel on him and give a bellow, he raised straight up in the air and stood on his heels. The saddle began to slip, and I took him round the neck and laid close to him, and began to pray. Then he came down and stood up on the other end awhile, and the bull actually stopped pawing sand and bel- lowing to contemplate the inhuman spectacle. Then the bull made a pass at him and uttered a bellow that sounded perfectly frightful, it was so close to me, and that seemed to literally prostrate my horse’s reason, and make a raving distracted maniac of him, and I wish I may die if he didn’t stand on his head for a quarter of a minute and shed tears. He was absolutely out of his mind—he was, as sure as truth itself, and he really didn’t know what he was doing. Then the bull came charging at us, and my horse dropped down on all fours and took a fresh start—and then for the next ten minutes he would actually throw one hand-spring after another so fast that the bull began to get unsettled, too, and didn’t know where to start

Page | 62 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) in—and so he stood there sneezing, and shovelling dust over his back, and bellow- ing every now and then, and thinking he had got a fifteen-hundred dollar circus horse for breakfast, certain. Well, I was first out on his neck—the horse’s, not the bull’s—and then underneath, and next on his rump, and sometimes head up, and sometimes heels—but I tell you it seemed solemn and awful to be ripping and tear- ing and carrying on so in the presence of death, as you might say. Pretty soon the bull made a snatch for us and brought away some of my horse’s tail (I suppose, but do not know, being pretty busy at the time), but something made him hungry for solitude and suggested to him to get up and hunt for it. And then you ought to have seen that spider-legged old skeleton go! and you ought to have seen the bull cut out after him, too—head down, tongue out, tail up, bellowing like everything, and actually mowing down the weeds, and tearing up the earth, and boosting up the sand like a whirlwind! By George, it was a hot race! I and the saddle were back on the rump, and I had the bridle in my teeth and holding on to the pommel with both hands. First we left the dogs behind; then we passed a jackass rabbit; then we overtook a cayote, and were gaining on an antelope when the rotten girth let go and threw me about thirty yards off to the left, and as the saddle went down over the horse’s rump he gave it a lift with his heels that sent it more than four hundred yards up in the air, I wish I may die in a minute if he didn’t. I fell at the foot of the only solitary tree there was in nine counties adjacent (as any creature could see with the naked eye), and the next second I had hold of the bark with four sets of nails and my teeth, and the next second after that I was astraddle of the main limb and blaspheming my luck in a way that made my breath smell of brimstone. I had the bull, now, if he did not think of one thing. But that one thing I dreaded. I dreaded it very seriously. There was a possibility that the bull might not think of it, but there were greater chances that he would. I made up my mind what I would do in case he did. It was a little over forty feet to the ground from where I sat. I cautiously unwound the lariat from the pommel of my saddle—” “Your saddle? Did you take your saddle up in the tree with you?” “Take it up in the tree with me? Why, how you talk. Of course I didn’t. No man could do that. It fell in the tree when it came down.” “Oh—exactly.” “Certainly. I unwound the lariat, and fastened one end of it to the limb. It was the very best green raw-hide, and capable of sustaining tons. I made a slip-noose in the other end, and then hung it down to see the length. It reached down twenty-two feet—half way to the ground. I then loaded every barrel of the Allen with a double charge. I felt satisfied. I said to myself, if he never thinks of that one thing that I dread, all right—but if he does, all right anyhow—I am fixed for him. But don’t you know that the very thing a man dreads is the thing that always happens? Indeed it is so. I watched the bull, now, with anxiety—anxiety which no one can conceive of who has not been in such a situation and felt that at any moment death might come. Pres- ently a thought came into the bull’s eye. I knew it! said I—if my nerve fails now, I am lost. Sure enough, it was just as I had dreaded, he started in to climb the tree—”

Page | 63 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“What, the bull?” “Of course—who else?” “But a bull can’t climb a tree.” “He can’t, can’t he? Since you know so much about it, did you ever see a bull try?” “No! I never dreamt of such a thing.” “Well, then, what is the use of your talking that way, then? Because you nev- er saw a thing done, is that any reason why it can’t be done?” “Well, all right—go on. What did you do?” “The bull started up, and got along well for about ten feet, then slipped and slid back. I breathed easier. He tried it again—got up a little higher—slipped again. But he came at it once more, and this time he was careful. He got gradual- ly higher and higher, and my spirits went down more and more. Up he came—an inch at a time—with his eyes hot, and his tongue hanging out. Higher and high- er— hitched his foot over the stump of a limb, and looked up, as much as to say, ‘You are my meat, friend.’ Up again—higher and higher, and getting more excited the closer he got. He was within ten feet of me! I took a long breath,—and then said I, ‘It is now or never.’ I had the coil of the lariat all ready; I paid it out slowly, till it hung right over his head; all of a sudden I let go of the slack, and the slip- noose fell fairly round his neck! Quicker than lightning I out with the Allen and let him have it in the face. It was an awful roar, and must have scared the bull out of his senses. When the smoke cleared away, there he was, dangling in the air, twenty foot from the ground, and going out of one convulsion into another faster than you could count! I didn’t stop to count, anyhow—I shinned down the tree and shot for home.” “Bemis, is all that true, just as you have stated it?” “I wish I may rot in my tracks and die the death of a dog if it isn’t.” “Well, we can’t refuse to believe it, and we don’t. But if there were some proofs—” “Proofs! Did I bring back my lariat?” “No.” “Did I bring back my horse?” “No.” “Did you ever see the bull again?” “No.” “Well, then, what more do you want? I never saw anybody as particular as you are about a little thing like that.” I made up my mind that if this man was not a liar he only missed it by the skin of his teeth. This episode reminds me of an incident of my brief sojourn in Siam, years afterward. The European citizens of a town in the neighborhood of Bangkok had a prodigy among them by the name of Eckert, an Englishman—a person famous for the number, ingenuity and imposing magnitude of his lies. They were always re- peating his most celebrated falsehoods, and always trying to “draw him out” before strangers; but they seldom succeeded. Twice he was invited to the house where I was visiting, but nothing could seduce him into a specimen lie. One day a planter named

Page | 64 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Bascom, an influential man, and a proud and sometimes irascible one, invited me to ride over with him and call on Eckert. As we jogged along, said he: “Now, do you know where the fault lies? It lies in putting Eckert on his guard. The minute the boys go to pumping at Eckert he knows perfectly well what they are after, and of course he shuts up his shell. Anybody might know he would. But when we get there, we must play him finer than that. Let him shape the conversa- tion to suit himself—let him drop it or change it whenever he wants to. Let him see that nobody is trying to draw him out. Just let him have his own way. He will soon forget himself and begin to grind out lies like a mill. Don’t get impatient—just keep quiet, and let me play him. I will make him lie. It does seem to me that the boys must be blind to overlook such an obvious and simple trick as that.” Eckert received us heartily—a pleasant-spoken, gentle-mannered creature. We sat in the veranda an hour, sipping English ale, and talking about the king, and the sacred white elephant, the Sleeping Idol, and all manner of things; and I noticed that my comrade never led the conversation himself or shaped it, but simply fol- lowed Eckert’s lead, and betrayed no solicitude and no anxiety about anything. The effect was shortly perceptible. Eckert began to grow communicative; he grew more and more at his ease, and more and more talkative and sociable. Another hour passed in the same way, and then all of a sudden Eckert said: “Oh, by the way! I came near forgetting. I have got a thing here to astonish you. Such a thing as neither you nor any other man ever heard of—I’ve got a cat that will eat cocoanut! Common green cocoanut—and not only eat the meat, but drink the milk. It is so—I’ll swear to it.” A quick glance from Bascom—a glance that I understood—then: “Why, bless my soul, I never heard of such a thing. Man, it is impossible.” “I knew you would say it. I’ll fetch the cat.” He went in the house. Bascom said: “There—what did I tell you? Now, that is the way to handle Eckert. You see, I have petted him along patiently, and put his suspicions to sleep. I am glad we came. You tell the boys about it when you go back. Cat eat a cocoanut—oh, my! Now, that is just his way, exactly—he will tell the absurdest lie, and trust to luck to get out of it again. Cat eat a cocoanut—the innocent fool!” Eckert approached with his cat, sure enough. Bascom smiled. Said he: “I’ll hold the cat—you bring a cocoanut.” Eckert split one open, and chopped up some pieces. Bascom smuggled a wink to me, and proffered a slice of the fruit to puss. She snatched it, swallowed it rav- enously, and asked for more! We rode our two miles in silence, and wide apart. At least I was silent, though Bascom cuffed his horse and cursed him a good deal, notwithstanding the horse was behaving well enough. When I branched off homeward, Bascom said: “Keep the horse till morning. And—you need not speak of this—foolishness to the boys.”

Page | 65 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

CHAPTER XIV Mr. Street was very busy with his telegraphic matters —and considering that he had eight or nine hundred miles of rugged, snowy, uninhabited mountains, and waterless, treeless, melancholy deserts to traverse with his wire, it was natural and needful that he should be as busy as possible. He could not go comfortably along and cut his poles by the roadside, either, but they had to be hauled by ox teams across those exhausting deserts—and it was two days’ journey from water to wa- ter, in one or two of them. Mr. Street’s contract was a vast work, every way one looked at it; and yet to comprehend what the vague words “eight hundred miles of rugged mountains and dismal deserts” mean, one must go over the ground in per- son—pen and ink descriptions cannot convey the dreary reality to the reader. And after all, Mr. S.’s mightiest difficulty turned out to be one which he had never tak- en into the account at all. Unto Mormons he had sub-let the hardest and heaviest half of his great undertaking, and all of a sudden they concluded that they were go- ing to make little or nothing, and so they tranquilly threw their poles overboard in mountain or desert, just as it happened when they took the notion, and drove home and went about their customary business! They were under written contract to Mr. Street, but they did not care anything for that. They said they would “admire” to see a “Gentile” force a Mormon to fulfil a losing contract in Utah! And they made them- selves very merry over the matter. Street said—for it was he that told us these things: “I was in dismay. I was under heavy bonds to complete my contract in a given time, and this disaster looked very much like ruin. It was an astounding thing; it was such a wholly unlooked-for difficulty, that I was entirely nonplussed. I am a business man—have always been a business man—do not know anything but busi- ness—and so you can imagine how like being struck by lightning it was to find myself in a country where written contracts were worthless!—that main securi- ty, that sheet-anchor, that absolute necessity, of business. My confidence left me. There was no use in making new contracts—that was plain. I talked with first one prominent citizen and then another. They all sympathized with me, first rate, but they did not know how to help me. But at last a Gentile said, ‘Go to Brigham Young!—these small fry cannot do you any good.’ I did not think much of the idea, for if the law could not help me, what could an individual do who had not even anything to do with either making the laws or executing them? He might be a very good patriarch of a church and preacher in its tabernacle, but something stern- er than religion and moral suasion was needed to handle a hundred refractory, half-civilized sub-contractors. But what was a man to do? I thought if Mr. Young could not do anything else, he might probably be able to give me some advice and a valuable hint or two, and so I went straight to him and laid the whole case before him. He said very little, but he showed strong interest all the way through. He ex- amined all the papers in detail, and whenever there seemed anything like a hitch, either in the papers or my statement, he would go back and take up the thread and follow it patiently out to an intelligent and satisfactory result. Then he made a list of the contractors’ names. Finally he said:

Page | 66 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“‘Mr. Street, this is all perfectly plain. These contracts are strictly and legally drawn, and are duly signed and certified. These men manifestly entered into them with their eyes open. I see no fault or flaw anywhere.’ Then Mr. Young turned to a man waiting at the other end of the room and said: ‘Take this list of names to So- and-so, and tell him to have these men here at such-and-such an hour.’ “They were there, to the minute. So was I. Mr. Young asked them a number of questions, and their answers made my statement good. Then he said to them: “‘You signed these contracts and assumed these obligations of your own free will and accord?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then carry them out to the , if it makes paupers of you! Go!’ And they did go, too! They are strung across the deserts now, working like bees. And I never hear a word out of them. There is a batch of governors, and judges, and other officials here, shipped from Washington, and they maintain the semblance of a republican form of government—but the petrified truth is that Utah is an absolute monarchy and Brigham Young is king!” Mr. Street was a fine man, and I believe his story. I knew him well during sev- eral years afterward in San Francisco. Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter. I had the will to do it. With the gush- ing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here—until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically “homely” creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, “No—the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure— and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosi- ty so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence.”

2.3.3 “The War Prayer”

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the reced- ing and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pas- tors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseech-

Page | 67 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) ing His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straight- way got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way. morning came—next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with mar- tial dreams—visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, wel- comed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy !

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory— An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoul- ders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes fol- lowing him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, uncon- scious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!” The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside—which the startled minister did—and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spell- bound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

Page | 68 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I come from the Throne—bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import—that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of—except he pause and think. “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two—one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspo- ken. Ponder this—keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it. “You have heard your servant’s prayer—the uttered part of it. I am commis- sioned of God to put into words the other part of it— which the pastor— and also you in your hearts—fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and un- thinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory— must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen! “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle— be Thou near them! With them—in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their sol- diers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrim- age, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen. (After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!” It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Page | 69 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.3.4 Reading and Review Questions 1. In “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” what is Jim Smiley’s talent? Why does he lose it? 2. Would you consider Mark Twain an experimental writer? How are his stories different from other authors of his time period? 3. In Twain’s “War Prayer,” how do the town’s people react to the prophet? Is his message clear? How is this a controversial story?

2.4 William Dean Howells (1837 - 1920)

William Dean Howells was born in Mar- tinsville, Ohio, in 1837. Howells’s father was a newspaper editor, and Howells learned the skills of a writer and editor under his father’s guidance. Howells continued to work in pub- lishing until he secured a position with Monthly in Massachusetts in 1866, where he served as Assistant Editor. In 1871, Howells was promoted to Editor of the maga- zine, and he continued working in that position until 1881. Howells, along with Mark Twain and Henry James, became one of the main ad- Image 2.2 | William Dean Howells, vocates and theorists of American Literary Re- 1906 alism, a style of writing that reacted against the Photographer | Van der Weyde previous Romantic era’s perceived literary ex- Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain cesses. Instead, the Realists praised the Ameri- can that presented characters, setting, and action as “true to life.” Howells’s scope of influence on a generation of American writers can be seen in his endorse- ment of Henry James, Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Charles Chesnutt, , Frank Norris, and Stephen Crane, to name but a few. Howells eventually became known as the “Dean of American Letters” and is considered the father of American Literary Realism. Howells produced his own creative work during his lifetime and is best remembered for two fine novels in the Realist tradition: A Modern Instance (1882) and (1885), as well as a host of short stories and theoretical works on Realism. Howells lived a long, productive life, dying in 1920 at the age of 83. With Mark Twain and Henry James, Howells wrote and spoke prolifically about Realism and its superiority over the earlier Romantic style practiced by authors such as James Fenimore Cooper. In Criticism and Fiction (1891), Howells set forth his views on Realism, arguing that fiction should be “life-like” and “true to human experience.” Howells, along with Twain in particular, rejected the idealistic, the

Page | 70 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) fantastic, the heroic, and the exaggerated, preferring instead simplicity and hon- esty in . Although there were some elements of reality that Howells preferred authors avoid, particularly the salacious and the sensational, Howells consistently privileged realism over idealism in his of writing fiction. How- ells’s own literary work espoused these principles. A Modern Instance (1882) and The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), two of his most famous novels, both deal with ordinary middle class people facing plausible personal conflicts in a contemporary setting. The characters are multi-faceted and dimensional, and the resolutions for the main characters are left open, as is often the case in “real life.” In his famous “Editha,” Howells explores a young woman’s patriotic impulses in con- trast to the reality of war. He sets the story on the eve of the Spanish-American War, when nationalism was soaring and the desire for war with Spain was strong. Editha, a young woman who lives in the “ideal,” is caught up in the patriotic fervor, taking her understanding of the heroic from Romantic ideas that glorify war. She insists her fiancé George enlist in the army, imagining him as a heroic warrior leav- ing to fight for her. The story contrasts Editha’s naïve understanding of war with the grim reality of what war means for George.

2.4.1 “Editha”

The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst. Editha sat looking out into the hot spring afternoon, with her lips parted, and panting with the intensity of the question whether she could let him go. She had decided that she could not let him stay, when she saw him at the end of the still leafless avenue, making slowly up towards the house, with his head down and his figure relaxed. She ran impatiently out on the veranda, to the edge of the steps, and imperatively demanded greater haste of him with her will before she called him aloud to him: “George!” He had quickened his in mystical response to her mystical urgence, before he could have heard her; now he looked up and answered, “Well?” “Oh, how united we are!” she exulted, and then she swooped down the steps to him, “What is it?” she cried. “It’s war,” he said. and he pulled her up to him and kissed her. She kissed him back intensely, but irrelevantly, as to their passion, and uttered from deep in her throat. “How glorious!” “It’s war,” he repeated, without consenting to her sense of it; and she did not know just what to think at first. She never knew what to think of him; that made his mystery, his charm. All through their courtship, which was contemporaneous with the growth of the war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even more than he abhorred it. She could have understood his abhorring any sort of bloodshed; that would have been a survival of his old life when he thought he would be a minister, and before he changed and took up the law. But making light of a cause so high and noble seemed to show a want of earnestness at the core of his being. Not but that she felt herself able to cope with a congenital

Page | 71 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) defect of that sort, and make his love for her save him from himself. Now perhaps the miracle was already wrought in him. In the presence of the tremendous fact that he announced, all triviality seemed to have gone out of him; she began to feel that. He sank down on the top step, and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, while she poured out upon him her question of the origin and authenticity of his news. All the while, in her duplex emotioning, she was aware that now at the very beginning she must put a guard upon herself against urging him, by any word or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed him to take, for the completion of her ideal of him. He was very nearly perfect as he was, and he must be allowed to perfect himself. But he was peculiar, and he might very well be reasoned out of his peculiarity. Before her reasoning went her emotioning: her nature pulling upon his nature, her womanhood upon his manhood, without her knowing the means she was using to the end she was willing. She had always supposed that the man who won her would have done something to win her; she did not know what, but some- thing. George Gearson had simply asked her for her love, on the way home from a concert, and she gave her love to him, without, as it were, thinking. But now, it flashed upon her, if he could do something worthy to have won her—be a hero, her hero—it would be even better than if he had done it before asking her; it would be grander. Besides, she had believed in the war from the beginning. “But don’t you see, dearest,” she said, “that it wouldn’t have come to this if it hadn’t been in the order of Providence? And I call any war glorious that is for the liberation of people who have been struggling for years against the cruelest oppres- sion. Don’t you think so, too?” “I suppose so,” he returned, languidly. “But war! Is it glorious to break the peace of the world?” “That ignoble peace! It was no peace at all, with that crime and shame at our very gates.” She was conscious of parroting the current phrases of the newspapers, but it was no time to pick and choose her words. She must sacrifice anything to the high ideal she had for him, and after a good deal of rapid argument she ended with the climax: “But now it doesn’t matter about the how or why. Since the war has come, all that is gone. There are no two sides any more. There is nothing now but our country.” He sat with his eyes closed and his head leant back against the veranda, and he remarked, with a vague smile, as if musing aloud, “Our country—right or wrong.” “Yes, right or wrong!” she returned, fervidly. “I’ll go and get you some lem- onade.” She rose rustling, and whisked away; when she came back with two tall glasses of clouded liquid on a tray, and the ice clucking in them, he still sat as she had left him, and she said, as if there had been no interruption: “But there is no question of wrong in this case. I call it a sacred war. A war for liberty and humanity, if ever there was one. And I know you will see it just as I do, yet.” He took half the lemonade at a gulp, and he answered as he set the glass down: “I know you always have the highest ideal. When I differ from you I ought to doubt myself.”

Page | 72 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

A generous sob rose in Editha’s throat for the humility of a man, so very nearly perfect, who was willing to put himself below her. Besides, she felt, more subliminally, that he was never so near slipping through her fingers as when he took that meek way. “You shall not say that! Only, for once I happen to be right.” She seized his hand in her two hands, and poured her soul from her eyes into his. “Don’t you think so?” she entreated him. He released his hand and drank the rest of his lemonade, and she added, “Have mine, too,” but he shook his head in answering, “I’ve no business to think so, un- less I act so, too.” Her heart stopped a beat before it pulsed on with leaps that she felt in her neck. She had noticed that strange thing in men: they seemed to feel bound to do what they believed, and not think a thing was finished when they said it, as girls did. She knew what was in his mind, but she pretended not, and she said, “Oh, I am not sure,” and then faltered. He went on as if to himself, without apparently heeding her: “There’s only one way of proving one’s faith in a thing like this.” She could not say that she understood, but she did understand. He went on again. “If I believed—if I felt as you do about this war—Do you wish me to feel as you do?” Now she was really not sure; so she said: “George, I don’t know what you mean.” He seemed to muse away from her as before. “There is a sort of fascination in it. I suppose that at the bottom of his heart every man would like at times to have his courage tested, to see how he would act.” “How can you talk in that ghastly way?” “It is rather morbid. Still, that’s what it comes to, unless you’re swept away by ambition or driven by conviction. I haven’t the conviction or the ambition, and the other thing is what it comes to with me. I ought to have been a preacher, after all; then I couldn’t have asked it of myself, as I must, now I’m a lawyer. And you believe it’s a holy war, Editha?” he suddenly addressed her. “Oh, I know you do! But you wish me to believe so, too?” She hardly knew whether he was mocking or not, in the ironical way he always had with her plainer mind. But the only thing was to be outspoken with him. “George, I wish you to believe whatever you think is true, at any and every cost. If I’ve tried to talk you into anything, I take it all back.” “Oh, I know that, Editha. I know how sincere you are, and how—I wish I had your undoubting spirit! I’ll think it over; I’d like to believe as you do. But I don’t, now; I don’t, indeed. It isn’t this war alone; though this seems peculiarly wanton and needless; but it’s every war—so stupid; it makes me sick. Why shouldn’t this thing have been settled reasonably?” “Because,” she said, very throatily again, “God meant it to be war.” “You think it was God? Yes, I suppose that is what people will say.” “Do you suppose it would have been war if God hadn’t meant it?”

Page | 73 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I don’t know. Sometimes it seems as if God had put this world into men’s keeping to work it as they pleased.” “Now, George, that is blasphemy.” “Well, ’t blaspheme. I’ll try to believe in your pocket Providence,” he said, and then he rose to go. “Why don’t you stay to dinner?” Dinner at Balcom’s Works was at one o’clock. “I’ll come back to supper, if you’ll let me. Perhaps I shall bring you a convert.” “Well, you may come back, on that condition.” “All right. If I don’t come, you’ll understand.” He went away without kissing her, and she felt it a suspension of their engage- ment. It all interested her intensely; she was undergoing a tremendous experience, and she was being equal to it. While she stood looking after him, her mother came out through one of the long windows onto the veranda, with a catlike softness and vagueness. “Why didn’t he stay to dinner?” “Because—because—war has been declared,” Editha pronounced, without turning. Her mother said, “Oh, my!” and then said nothing more until she had sat down in one of the large Shaker chairs and rocked herself for some time. Then she closed whatever tacit passage of thought there had been in her mind with the spoken words: “Well, I hope he won’t go.” “And I hope he will,” the girl said, and confronted her mother with a stormy ex- altation that would have frightened any creature less unimpressionable than a cat. Her mother rocked herself again for an interval of cogitation. What she arrived at in speech was: “Well, I guess you’ve done a wicked thing, Editha Balcom.” The girl said, as she passed indoors through the same window her mother had come out by: “I haven’t done anything—yet.” In her room, she put together all her letters and gifts from Gearson, down to the withered petals of the first flower he had offered, with that timidity of his veiled in that irony of his. In the heart of the packet she enshrined her engagement ring which she had restored to the pretty box he had brought it her in. Then she sat down, if not calmly yet strongly, and wrote: “George:—I understood when you left me. But I think we had better emphasize your meaning that if we cannot be one in everything we had better be one in nothing. So I am sending these things for your keeping till you have made up your mind. “I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry any one else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to say to me, “’I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more.’ “There is no honor above America with me. In this great hour there is no other honor. “Your heart will make my words clear to you. I had never expected to say so much, but it has come upon me that I must say the utmost. Editha.”

Page | 74 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

She thought she had worded her letter well, worded it in a way that could not be bettered; all had been implied and nothing expressed. She had it ready to send with the packet she had tied with red, white, and blue ribbon, when it occurred to her that she was not just to him, that she was not giv- ing him a fair chance. He had said he would go and think it over, and she was not waiting. She was pushing, threatening, compelling. That was not a woman’s part. She must leave him free, free, free. She could not accept for her country or herself a forced sacrifice. In writing her letter she had satisfied the impulse from which it sprang; she could well afford to wait till he had thought it over. She put the packet and the let- ter by, and rested serene in the consciousness of having done what was laid upon her by her love itself to do, and yet used patience, mercy, justice. She had her reward. Gearson did not come to tea, but she had given him till morning, when, late at night there came up from the village the sound of a fife and drum, with a tumult of voices, in shouting, , and laughing. The noise drew nearer and nearer; it reached the street end of the avenue; there it silenced itself, and one voice, the voice she knew best, rose over the silence. It fell; the air was filled with cheers; the fife and drum struck up, with the shouting, singing, and laughing again, but now retreating; and a single figure came hurrying up the avenue. She ran down to meet her lover and clung to him. He was very gay, and he put his arm round her with a boisterous laugh. “Well, you must call me Captain now; or Cap, if you prefer; that’s what the boys call me. Yes, we’ve had a meeting at the town-hall, and everybody has volunteered; and they selected me for captain, and I’m going to the war, the big war, the glorious war, the holy war ordained by the pocket Providence that blesses butchery. Come along; let’s tell the whole family about it. Call them from their downy beds, father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks!” But when they mounted the veranda steps he did not wait for a larger audience; he poured the story out upon Editha alone. “There was a lot of speaking, and then some of the fools set up a shout for me. It was all going one way, and I thought it would be a good to sprinkle a little cold water on them. But you can’t do that with a crowd that adores you. The first thing I knew I was sprinkling hell-fire on them. ‘Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.’ That was the style. Now that it had come to the fight, there were no two parties; there was one country, and the thing was to fight to a finish as quick as possible. I suggested volunteering then and there, and I wrote my name first of all on the roster. Then they elected me—that’s all. I wish I had some ice-water.” She left him walking up and down the veranda, while she ran for the ice-pitcher and a goblet, and when she came back he was still walking up and down, shout- ing the story he had told her to her father and mother, who had come out more sketchily dressed than they commonly were by day. He drank goblet after goblet of the ice-water without noticing who was giving it, and kept on talking, and laugh- ing through his talk wildly. “It’s astonishing,” he said, “how well the worse reason looks when you try to make it appear the better. Why, I believe I was the first con-

Page | 75 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) vert to the war in that crowd to-night! I never thought I should like to kill a man; but now I shouldn’t care; and the smokeless powder lets you see the man drop that you kill. It’s all for the country! What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!” Editha had a great, vital thought, an inspiration. She set down the ice-pitcher on the veranda floor, and ran up-stairs and got the letter she had written him. When at last he noisily bade her father and mother, “Well, good-night. I forgot I woke you up; I sha’n’t want any sleep myself,” she followed him down the ave- nue to the gate. There, after the whirling words that seemed to fly away from her thoughts and refuse to serve them, she made a last effort to solemnize the moment that seemed so crazy, and pressed the letter she had written upon him. “What’s this?” he said. “Want me to mail it?” “No, no. It’s for you. I wrote it after you went this morning. Keep it—keep it— and read it sometime—” She thought, and then her inspiration came: “Read it if ever you doubt what you’ve done, or fear that I regret your having done it. Read it after you’ve started.” They strained each other in embraces that seemed as ineffective as their words, and he kissed her face with quick, hot breaths that were so unlike him, that made her feel as if she had lost her old lover and found a stranger in his place. The strang- er said: “What a gorgeous flower you are, with your red hair, and your blue eyes that look black now, and your face with the color painted out by the white moon- shine! Let me hold you under the chin, to see whether I love blood, you tiger-lily!” Then he laughed Gearson’s laugh, and released her, scared and giddy. Within her wilfulness she had been frightened by a sense of subtler force in him, and mystical- ly mastered as she had never been before. She ran all the way back to the house, and mounted the steps panting. Her mother and father were talking of the great affair. Her mother said: “Wa’n’t Mr. Gearson in rather of an excited state of mind? Didn’t you think he acted curious?” “Well, not for a man who’d just been elected captain and had set ‘em up for the whole of Company A,” her father chuckled back. “What in the world do you mean, Mr. Balcom? Oh! There’s Editha!” She of- fered to follow the girl indoors. “Don’t come, mother!” Editha called, vanishing. Mrs. Balcom remained to reproach her husband. “I don’t see much of anything to laugh at.” “Well, it’s catching. Caught it from Gearson. I guess it won’t be much of a war, and I guess Gearson don’t think so either. The other will back down as soon as they see we mean it. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m going back to bed, myself.” Gearson came again next afternoon, looking pale and rather sick, but quite him- self, even to his languid irony. “I guess I’d better tell you, Editha, that I consecrated myself to your god of battles last night by pouring too many libations to him down my own throat. But I’m all right now. One has to carry off the excitement, somehow.”

Page | 76 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Promise me,” she commanded, “that you’ll never touch it again!” “What! Not let the cannikin clink? Not let the soldier drink? Well, I promise.” “You don’t belong to yourself now; you don’t even belong to me. You belong to your country, and you have a sacred charge to keep yourself strong and well for your country’s sake. I have been thinking, thinking all night and all day long.” “You look as if you had been crying a little, too,” he said, with his queer smile. “That’s all past. I’ve been thinking, and worshipping you. Don’t you suppose I know all that you’ve been through, to come to this? I’ve followed you every step from your old and opinions.” “Well, you’ve had a long row to hoe.” “And I know you’ve done this from the highest motives—” “Oh, there won’t be much pettifogging to do till this cruel war is—” “And you haven’t simply done it for my sake. I couldn’t respect you if you had.” “Well, then we’ll say I haven’t. A man that hasn’t got his own respect intact wants the respect of all the other people he can corner. But we won’t go into that. I’m in for the thing now, and we’ve got to face our future. My idea is that this isn’t going to be a very protracted struggle; we shall just scare the enemy to death before it comes to a fight at all. But we must provide for contingencies, Editha. If anything happens to me—” “Oh, George!” She clung to him, sobbing. “I don’t want you to feel foolishly bound to my memory. I should hate that, wherever I happened to be.” “I am yours, for time and eternity—time and eternity.” She liked the words; they satisfied her famine for phrases. “Well, say eternity; that’s all right; but time’s another thing; and I’m talking about time. But there is something! My mother! If anything happens—” She winced, and he laughed. “You’re not the bold soldier-girl of yesterday!” Then he sobered. “If anything happens, I want you to help my mother out. She won’t like my doing this thing. She brought me up to think war a fool thing as well as a bad thing. My father was in the Civil War; all through it; lost his arm in it.” She thrilled with the sense of the arm round her; what if that should be lost? He laughed as if divining her: “Oh, it doesn’t run in the family, as far as I know!” Then he added gravely: “He came home with misgivings about war, and they grew on him. I guess he and mother agreed between them that I was to be brought up in his final mind about it; but that was before my time. I only knew him from my moth- er’s report of him and his opinions; I don’t know whether they were hers first; but they were hers last. This will be a blow to her. I shall have to write and tell her—” He stopped, and she asked: “Would you like me to write, too, George?” “I don’t believe that would do. No, I’ll do the writing. She’ll understand a little if I say that I thought the way to minimize it was to make war on the largest possible scale at once—that I felt I must have been helping on the war somehow if I hadn’t helped keep it from coming, and I knew I hadn’t; when it came, I had no right to stay out of it.”

Page | 77 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Whether his sophistries satisfied him or not, they satisfied her. She clung to his breast, and whispered, with closed eyes and quivering lips: “Yes, yes, yes!” “But if anything should happen, you might go to her and see what you could do for her. You know? It’s rather far off; she can’t leave her chair—” “Oh, I’ll go, if it’s the ends of the earth! But nothing will happen! Nothing can! I—” She felt her lifted with his rising, and Gearson was saying, with his arm still round her, to her father: “Well, we’re off at once, Mr. Balcom. We’re to be formally accepted at the capital, and then bunched up with the rest somehow, and sent into camp somewhere, and got to the front as soon as possible. We all want to be in the van, of course; we’re the first company to report to the . I came to tell Editha, but I hadn’t got round to it.” She saw him again for a moment at the capital, in the station, just before the train started southward with his regiment. He looked well, in his uniform, and very soldier- ly, but somehow girlish, too, with his clean-shaven face and slim figure. The manly eyes and the strong voice satisfied her, and his preoccupation with some unexpected details of duty flattered her. Other girls were weeping and bemoaning themselves, but she felt a sort of noble distinction in the abstraction, the almost unconsciousness, with which they parted. Only at the last moment he said: “Don’t forget my mother. It mayn’t be such a walk-over as I supposed,” and he laughed at the notion. He waved his hand to her as the train moved off—she knew it among a score of hands that were waved to other girls from the platform of the car, for it held a letter which she knew was hers. Then he went inside the car to read it, doubtless, and she did not see him again. But she felt safe for him through the strength of what she called her love. What she called her God, always speaking the name in a deep voice and with the implication of a mutual understanding, would watch over him and keep him and bring him back to her. If with an empty sleeve, then he should have three arms instead of two, for both of hers should be his for life. She did not see, though, why she should always be thinking of the arm his father had lost. There were not many letters from him, but they were such as she could have wished, and she put her whole strength into making hers such as she imagined he could have wished, glorifying and supporting him. She wrote to his mother glori- fying him as their hero, but the brief answer she got was merely to the effect that Mrs. Gearson was not well enough to write herself, and thanking her for her letter by the hand of someone who called herself “Yrs truly, Mrs. W. J. Andrews.” Editha determined not to be hurt, but to write again quite as if the answer had been all she expected. Before it seemed as if she could have written, there came news of the first skirmish, and in the list of the killed, which was telegraphed as a trifling loss on our side, was Gearson’s name. There was a frantic time of trying to make out that it might be, must be, some other Gearson; but the name and the company and the regiment and the State were too definitely given. Then there was a lapse into depths out of which it seemed as if she never could rise again; then a lift into clouds far above all grief, black clouds, that blotted out the

Page | 78 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) sun, but where she soared with him, with George—George! She had the fever that she expected of herself, but she did not die in it; she was not even delirious, and it did not last long. When she was well enough to leave her bed, her one thought was of George’s mother, of his strangely worded wish that she should go to her and see what she could do for her. In the exaltation of the duty laid upon her—it buoyed her up instead of burdening her—she rapidly recovered. Her father went with her on the long railroad journey from northern to western Iowa; he had business out at Davenport, and he said he could just as well go then as any other time; and he went with her to the little country town where George’s mother lived in a little house on the edge of the illimitable corn- fields, under trees pushed to a top of the rolling prairie. George’s father had settled there after the Civil War, as so many other old soldiers had done; but they were Eastern people, and Editha fancied touches of the East in the June rose overhang- ing the front door, and the garden with early summer flowers stretching from the gate of the paling fence. It was very low inside the house, and so dim, with the closed blinds, that they could scarcely see one another: Editha tall and black in her crapes which filled the air with the smell of their dyes; her father standing decorously apart with his hat on his forearm, as at funerals; a woman rested in a deep arm-chair, and the woman who had let the strangers in stood behind the chair. The seated woman turned her head round and up, and asked the woman be- hind her chair: “Who did you say?” Editha, if she had done what she expected of herself, would have gone down on her knees at the feet of the seated figure and said, “I am George’s Editha,” for answer. But instead of her own voice she heard that other woman’s voice, saying: “Well, I don’t know as I did get the name just right. I guess I’ll have to make a little more light in here,” and she went and pushed two of the shutters ajar. Then Editha’s father said, in his public will-now-address-a-few-remarks : “My name is Balcom, ma’am—Junius H. Balcom, of Balcom’s Works, New York; my daughter—” “Oh!” the seated woman broke in, with a powerful voice, the voice that always surprised Editha from Gearson’s slender frame. “Let me see you. Stand round where the light can strike on your face,” and Editha dumbly obeyed. “So, you’re Editha Balcom,” she sighed. “Yes,” Editha said, more like a culprit than a comforter. “What did you come for?” Mrs. Gearson asked. Editha’s face quivered and her knees shook. “I came—because—because George—” She could go no further. “Yes,” the mother said, “he told me he had asked you to come if he got killed. You didn’t expect that, I suppose, when you sent him.” “I would rather have died myself than done it!” Editha said, with more truth in her deep voice than she ordinarily found in it. “I tried to leave him free—”

Page | 79 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Yes, that letter of yours, that came back with his other things, left him free.” Editha saw now where George’s irony came from. “It was not to be read before—unless—until—I told him so,” she faltered. “Of course, he wouldn’t read a letter of yours, under the circumstances, till he thought you wanted him to. Been sick?” the woman abruptly demanded. “Very sick,” Editha said, with self-pity. “Daughter’s life,” her father interposed, “was almost despaired of, at one time.” Mrs. Gearson gave him no heed. “I suppose you would have been glad to die, such a brave person as you! I don’t believe he was glad to die. He was always a timid boy, that way; he was afraid of a good many things; but if he was afraid he did what he made up his mind to. I suppose he made up his mind to go, but I knew what it cost him by what it cost me when I heard of it. I had been through one war before. When you sent him you didn’t expect he would get killed.” The voice seemed to compassionate Editha, and it was time. “No,” she hus- kily murmured. “No, girls don’t; women don’t, when they give their men up to their country. They think they’ll come marching back, somehow, just as gay as they went, or if it’s an empty sleeve, or even an empty pantaloon, it’s all the more glory, and they’re so much the prouder of them, poor things!” The tears began to run down Editha’s face; she had not wept till then; but it was now such a relief to be understood that the tears came. “No, you didn’t expect him to get killed,” Mrs. Gearson repeated, in a voice which was startlingly like George’s again. “You just expected him to kill some one else, some of those foreigners, that weren’t there because they had any say about it, but because they had to be there, poor wretches—conscripts, or whatever they call ‘em. You thought it would be all right for my George, your George, to kill the sons of those miserable mothers and the husbands of those girls that you would never see the faces of.” The woman lifted her powerful voice in a psalmlike note. “I thank my God he didn’t live to do it! I thank my God they killed him first, and that he ain’t livin’ with their blood on his hands!” She dropped her eyes, which she had raised with her voice, and glared at Editha. “What you got that black on for?” She lifted herself by her powerful arms so high that her helpless body seemed to hang limp its full length. “Take it off, take it off, before I tear it from your back!” The lady who was passing the summer near Balcom’s Works was sketching Editha’s beauty, which lent itself wonderfully to the effects of a colorist. It had come to that confidence which is rather apt to grow between artist and sitter, and Editha had told her everything. “To think of your having such a in your life!” the lady said. She added: “I suppose there are people who feel that way about war. But when you consider the good this war has done—how much it has done for the country! I can’t under- stand such people, for my part. And when you had come all the way out there to console her—got up out of a sick-bed! Well!”

Page | 80 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I think,” Editha said, magnanimously, “she wasn’t quite in her right mind; and so did papa.” “Yes,” the lady said, looking at Editha’s lips in nature and then at her lips in , and giving an empirical touch to them in the picture. “But how dreadful of her! How perfectly—excuse me—how vulgar!” A light broke upon Editha in the darkness which she felt had been without a gleam of brightness for weeks and months. The mystery that had bewildered her was solved by the word; and from that moment she rose from grovelling in shame and self-pity, and began to live again in the ideal.

2.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. Examine the tension between the “ideal” and the “real” in “Editha.” Which mode of representation is depicted as superior to the other? Why? 2. What strategies does Editha use to convince George to go to war? Why does she use these particular strategies? Are the principles she espouses truly hers? Or is she manipulating him using catch phrases from the time period? 3. What motivates George to finally enlist? 4. Characterize Editha’s feelings about George’s death. 5. Contrast Editha with George’s mother. 6. At the end of “Editha,” how does the word “vulgar” expressed by the artist help Editha return to living again in the ideal?

2.5 (1842–circa 1914)

Ambrose Bierce was born in a rural area of Meigs County, Ohio, in 1842. Although poor, Bierce’s father owned a collection of books and instilled in his son an appreciation for the writ- ten word. Bierce left home in his teens, eager to make his way in the world, living with relatives and attempting formal education. He eventual- ly joined the Union Army at the onset of the Civ- il War, serving in the 9th Indiana Infantry Reg- iment, eventually as a lieutenant. He survived some of the most brutal battles of the Civil War, including Shiloh and Chickamauga. After the Image 2.3 | Ambrose Bierce, 1892 Photographer | Unknown war, Bierce settled out West in San Francisco, Source | Wikimedia Commons married, and had three children. Bierce began License | Public Domain to write and publish a number of short stories while working at several well-known West Coast literary magazines. In 1892, he published Tales of Soldiers and Civil-

Page | 81 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) ians, a collection of his war stories, many of which are considered his best works today. After suffering a number of personal losses, including the death of two of his children and a divorce from his wife, who died soon thereafter, Bierce left the States to travel to Mexico. While many fictitious stories relaying the events of his last days persist, there is no conclusive proof of his fate. He was never heard from again after late 1913. Bierce was an iconoclast, a writer who was fiercely independent and who, using the power of his pen, cynically derided current trends in literature. He was sometimes referred to as “Bitter Bierce,” and his Devil’s Dictionary (1911), com- piled during most of his writing career, offered dark, satiric definitions of common words. While Bierce was praised by William Dean Howells as an important new writer on the literary scene in the , Bierce in his journalistic pieces for West Coast literary magazines could be brutal in his assessment of Howells and James, mocking them for their views on Realism, a mode which he considered too tame to tackle the breadth and depth of human experience. Not surprisingly, it is difficult to categorize Bierce’s work, particularly his war stories. His fiction is aligned, at least in principle, with Realist features such as the depiction of life-like characters and authentic details of setting. However, in Bierce’s war stories, the landscape often transforms beyond the objectively realistic, as Bierce probes the subjective reality of those who experience the nightmarish events most traumatically; the re- sult is that the story moves into the realm of the fantastic or the grotesque, partic- ularly in two of his most famous war stories, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” where Bierce lays bare the human cost of war. In “Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” the central civilian characters, a Southern planter and a young Southern boy, respectively, both seem to believe that they can participate in or “play” at war and remain unscathed. Whether as a result of impaired senses, naïvete, inexperience, or cultural conditioning, the characters are unable to read accurately the horror of war or to comprehend their own personal peril in “play- ing” war—until, that is, the horror of the moment is brought home to them: facing their own imminent death or the brutal death of a loved one.

2.5.1 “Chickamauga”

One sunny autumn afternoon a child strayed away from its rude home in a small field and entered a forest unobserved. It was happy in a new sense of freedom from control, happy in the opportunity of exploration and adventure; for this child’s spirit, in bodies of its ancestors, had for thousands of years been trained to memorable feats of discovery and conquest—victories in battles whose critical moments were centuries, whose victors’ camps were cities of hewn stone. From the cradle of its race it had conquered its way through two continents and passing a great sea had penetrated a third, there to be born to war and dominion as a heritage. The child was a boy aged about six years, the son of a poor planter. In his younger manhood the father had been a soldier, had fought against naked savages

Page | 82 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) and followed the flag of his country into the capital of a civilized race to the far South. In the peaceful life of a planter the warrior-fire survived; once kindled, it is never extinguished. The man loved military books and pictures and the boy had understood enough to make himself a wooden sword, though even the eye of his fa- ther would hardly have known it for what it was. This weapon he now bore bravely, as became the son of an heroic race, and pausing now and again in the sunny space of the forest assumed, with some exaggeration, the postures of aggression and de- fense that he had been taught by the engraver’s art. Made reckless by the ease with which he overcame invisible foes attempting to stay his advance, he committed the common enough military error of pushing the pursuit to a dangerous extreme, until he found himself upon the margin of a wide but shallow brook, whose rapid waters barred his direct advance against the flying foe that had crossed with illog- ical ease. But the intrepid victor was not to be baffled; the spirit of the race which had passed the great sea burned unconquerable in that small breast and would not be denied. Finding a place where some bowlders in the bed of the stream lay but a step or a leap apart, he made his way across and fell again upon the rear-guard of his imaginary foe, putting all to the sword. Now that the battle had been won, prudence required that he withdraw to his base of operations. Alas; like many a mightier conqueror, and like one, the might- iest, he could not curb the lust for war, Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star. Advancing from the bank of the creek he suddenly found himself confronted with a new and more formidable enemy: in the path that he was following, sat, bolt upright, with ears erect and paws suspended before it, a rabbit! With a startled cry the child turned and fled, he knew not in what direction, calling with inarticulate cries for his mother, weeping, stumbling, his tender skin cruelly torn by brambles, his little heart beating hard with terror—breathless, blind with tears—lost in the forest! Then, for more than an hour, he wandered with erring feet through the tangled undergrowth, till at last, overcome by fatigue, he lay down in a narrow space between two rocks, within a few yards of the stream and still grasping his toy sword, no longer a weapon but a companion, sobbed himself to sleep. The wood birds sang merrily above his head; the squirrels, whisking their bravery of tail, ran barking from tree to tree, unconscious of the pity of it, and somewhere far away was a strange, muffled thunder, as if the partridges were drumming in celebration of nature’s victory over the son of her immemorial enslavers. And back at the little plantation, where white men and black were hastily searching the fields and hedg- es in alarm, a mother’s heart was breaking for her missing child. Hours passed, and then the little sleeper rose to his feet. The chill of the eve- ning was in his limbs, the fear of the gloom in his heart. But he had rested, and he no longer wept. With some blind instinct which impelled to action he struggled through the undergrowth about him and came to a more open ground—on his right the brook, to the left a gentle acclivity studded with infrequent trees; over all, the gathering gloom of twilight. A thin, ghostly mist rose along the water. It frightened

Page | 83 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) and repelled him; instead of recrossing, in the direction whence he had come, he turned his back upon it, and went forward toward the dark inclosing wood. Suddenly he saw before him a strange moving object which he took to be some large animal—a dog, a pig—he could not name it; perhaps it was a bear. He had seen pictures of bears, but knew of nothing to their discredit and had vaguely wished to meet one. But something in form or movement of this object—something in the awkwardness of its approach—told him that it was not a bear, and curiosity was stayed by fear. He stood still and as it came slowly on gained courage every moment, for he saw that at least it had not the long, menacing ears of the rabbit. Possibly his impressionable mind was half conscious of something familiar in its shambling, awkward gait. Be- fore it had approached near enough to resolve his doubts he saw that it was followed by another and another. To right and to left were many more; the whole open space about him was alive with them—all moving toward the brook. They were men. They crept upon their hands and knees. They used their hands only, dragging their legs. They used their knees only, their arms hanging idle at their sides. They strove to rise to their feet, but fell prone in the attempt. They did nothing naturally, and nothing alike, save only to advance foot by foot in the same direction. Singly, in pairs and in little groups, they came on through the gloom, some halting now and again while others crept slowly past them, then resuming their movement. They came by dozens and by hundreds; as far on either hand as one could see in the deepening gloom they extended and the black wood behind them appeared to be inexhaustible. The very ground seemed in motion toward the creek. Occasionally one who had paused did not again go on, but lay motionless. He was dead. Some, pausing, made strange gestures with their hands, erected their arms and lowered them again, clasped their heads; spread their palms upward, as men are sometimes seen to do in public prayer. Not all of this did the child note; it is what would have been noted by an elder observer; he saw little but that these were men, yet crept like babes. Being men, they were not terrible, though unfamiliarly clad. He moved among them freely, going from one to another and peering into their faces with childish curiosity. All their fac- es were singularly white and many were streaked and gouted with red. Something in this—something too, perhaps, in their grotesque attitudes and movements—re- minded him of the painted clown whom he had seen last summer in the circus, and he laughed as he watched them. But on and ever on they crept, these maimed and bleeding men, as heedless as he of the dramatic contrast between his laughter and their own ghastly gravity. To him it was a merry spectacle. He had seen his father’s negroes creep upon their hands and knees for his amusement—had ridden them so, “making believe” they were his horses. He now approached one of these crawling figures from behind and with an agile movement mounted it astride. The man sank upon his breast, recovered, flung the small boy fiercely to the ground as an unbro- ken colt might have done, then turned upon him a face that lacked a lower jaw— from the upper teeth to the throat was a great red gap fringed with hanging shreds of flesh and splinters of bone. The unnatural prominence of nose, the absence of

Page | 84 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) chin, the fierce eyes, gave this man the appearance of a great bird of prey crimsoned in throat and breast by the blood of its quarry. The man rose to his knees, the child to his feet. The man shook his fist at the child; the child, terrified at last, ran to a tree near by, got upon the farther side of it and took a more serious view of the situation. And so the clumsy multitude dragged itself slowly and painfully along in hideous pantomime—moved forward down the slope like a swarm of great black beetles, with never a sound of going—in silence profound, absolute. Instead of darkening, the haunted landscape began to brighten. Through the belt of trees beyond the brook shone a strange red light, the trunks and branches of the trees making a black lacework against it. It struck the creeping figures and gave them monstrous shadows, which caricatured their movements on the lit grass. It fell upon their faces, touching their whiteness with a ruddy tinge, accentuating the stains with which so many of them were freaked and maculated. It sparkled on buttons and bits of metal in their clothing. Instinctively the child turned toward the growing splendor and moved down the slope with his horrible companions; in a few moments had passed the foremost of the throng—not much of a feat, considering his advantages. He placed himself in the lead, his wooden sword still in hand, and solemnly directed the march, conforming his pace to theirs and occasionally turning as if to see that his forces did not straggle. Surely such a leader never before had such a following. Scattered about upon the ground now slowly narrowing by the encroachment of this awful march to water, were certain articles to which, in the leader’s mind, were coupled no significant associations: an occasional blanket, tightly rolled lengthwise, doubled and the ends bound together with a string; a heavy knapsack here, and there a broken rifle—such things, in short, as are found in the rear of retreating troops, the “spoor” of men flying from their hunters. Everywhere near the creek, which here had a margin of lowland, the earth was trodden into mud by the feet of men and horses. An observer of better experience in the use of his eyes would have noticed that these footprints pointed in both directions; the ground had been twice passed over—in advance and in retreat. A few hours before, these desperate, stricken men, with their more fortunate and now distant comrades, had penetrated the forest in thousands. Their successive battalions, breaking into swarms and re-forming in lines, had passed the child on every side—had almost trodden on him as he slept. The rustle and murmur of their march had not awak- ened him. Almost within a stone’s throw of where he lay they had fought a battle; but all unheard by him were the roar of the musketry, the shock of the cannon, “the thunder of the captains and the shouting.” He had slept through it all, grasping his little wooden sword with perhaps a tighter clutch in unconscious sympathy with his martial environment, but as heedless of the grandeur of the struggle as the dead who had died to make the glory. The fire beyond the belt of woods on the farther side of the creek, reflected to earth from the canopy of its own smoke, was now suffusing the whole landscape. It transformed the sinuous line of mist to the vapor of gold. The water gleamed with dashes of red, and red, too, were many of the stones protruding above the

Page | 85 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) surface. But that was blood; the less desperately wounded had stained them in crossing. On them, too, the child now crossed with eager steps; he was going to the fire. As he stood upon the farther bank he turned about to look at the com- panions of his march. The advance was arriving at the creek. The stronger had already drawn themselves to the brink and plunged their faces into the flood. Three or four who lay without motion appeared to have no heads. At this the child’s eyes expanded with wonder; even his hospitable understanding could not accept a phenomenon implying such vitality as that. After slaking their thirst these men had not had the strength to back away from the water, nor to keep their heads above it. They were drowned. In rear of these, the open spaces of the forest showed the leader as many formless figures of his grim command as at first; but not nearly so many were in motion. He waved his cap for their encour- agement and smilingly pointed with his weapon in the direction of the guiding light—a pillar of fire to this strange exodus. Confident of the fidelity of his forces, he now entered the belt of woods, passed through it easily in the red illumination, climbed a fence, ran across a field, turn- ing now and again to coquet with his responsive shadow, and so approached the blazing ruin of a dwelling. Desolation everywhere! In all the wide glare not a living thing was visible. He cared nothing for that; the spectacle pleased, and he danced with glee in of the wavering flames. He ran about, collecting fuel, but ev- ery object that he found was too heavy for him to cast in from the distance to which the heat limited his approach. In despair he flung in his sword—a surrender to the superior forces of nature. His military career was at an end. Shifting his position, his eyes fell upon some outbuildings which had an oddly familiar appearance, as if he had dreamed of them. He stood considering them with wonder, when suddenly the entire plantation, with its inclosing forest, seemed to turn as if upon a pivot. His little world swung half around; the points of the com- pass were reversed. He recognized the blazing building as his own home! For a moment he stood stupefied by the power of the revelation, then ran with stumbling feet, making a half-circuit of the ruin. There, conspicuous in the light of the conflagration, lay the dead body of a woman—the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles—the work of a shell. The child moved his little hands, making wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries—something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey—a startling, soulless, unholy sound, the lan- guage of a devil. The child was a deaf mute. Then he stood motionless, with quivering lips, looking down upon the wreck.

Page | 86 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.5.2 “Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge”

I A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners—two private soldiers of the Fed- eral army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uni- form of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of stood with his rifle in the position known as “support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest—a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the centre of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it. Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground—a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loop-holed for ri- fles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass can- non commanding the bridge. Mid-way of the slope between bridge and fort were the spectators—a single company of infantry in line, at “parade rest,” the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the centre of the bridge, not a man moved. The com- pany faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference. The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the of his well-fitting frock-coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

Page | 87 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream! He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift—all had dis- tracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor un- derstand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by—it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and—he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequen- cy the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch. He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.” As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the ser- geant. The sergeant stepped aside.

II Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Ala- bama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Cir- cumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disas-

Page | 88 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) trous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglori- ous restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war. One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horse- man and inquired eagerly for news from the front. “The Yanks are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order.” “How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?” Farquhar asked. “About thirty miles.” “Is there no force on this side the creek?” “Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge.” “Suppose a man—a civilian and student of hanging—should elude the pick- et post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel,” said Farquhar, smiling, “what could he accomplish?” The soldier reflected. “I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow.” The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after night- fall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.

III As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost con- sciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened—ages later, it seemed to him—by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fibre of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid pe- riodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness—

Page | 89 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terri- ble suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud plash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suf- focating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!—the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface—knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be hanged and drowned,” he thought, “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair.” He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!—what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeav- or! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water-snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the un- doing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experi- enced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek! He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, pre- ternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic sys- tem had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf—saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of

Page | 90 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon-flies’ wings, the strokes of the water-spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat—all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water. He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two pri- vates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shout- ed and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic. Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a gray eye and remembered having read that gray eyes were keenest, and that all famous markmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed. A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning’s work. How coldly and pitilessly—with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforc- ing tranquillity in the men—with what accurately measured intervals fell those cruel words: “Attention, company! . . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!” Farquhar dived—dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slow- ly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncom- fortably warm and he snatched it out. As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream—nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually. The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigor- ously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.

Page | 91 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“The officer,” he reasoned, “will not make that martinet’s error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!” An appalling plash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps! A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond. “They will not do that again,” he thought; “the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me—the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun.” Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round—spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men—all were com- mingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular hor- izontal streaks of color—that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream—the southern bank—and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers in- to the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, rose- ate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of æolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape—was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken. A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest. All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman’s road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation. By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the bark- ing of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on , terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Over-head, as he looked up through this rift in the wood,

Page | 92 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign sig- nificance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which—once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue. His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it he found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue—he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet! Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an atti- tude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon—then all is darkness and silence! Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

2.5.3 Reading and Review Questions 1. In “Chickamauga,” what is the effect, at the end, of realizing that the story has been filtered through the eyes of a child who is deaf and mute? 2. In “Chickamauga,” how are ideas about war, glory, and the heroic absorbed by father and son in the story? Observe the use of words at the beginning of the story that are associated with war and warriors (“warrior-fire,” “adventure,” “memorable feats of discovery and conquest,” “intrepid victor,” “unconquerable,” “lust for war”). By the end of the story, how does the associated with war and warriors change? 3. In “Chickamauga,” contrast the young boy’s viewing the scene of wounded and dying soldiers retreating from battle and his viewing the scene of his destroyed home and dead mother. What does such a shift in perspective convey in terms of how those unfamiliar with war might view it? 4. Explain the story’s title “Chickamauga,” given the fact that the battle is never mentioned in the story. 5. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” examine the measuring and passing of time in the story. What is the significance of these references to time?

Page | 93 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

6. Compare the two stories in terms of the idea of the hero. Is the idea of a hero subverted in either or both stories? If so, how?

2.6 Henry James (1843 - 1916)

Henry James was born in in 1843 to a wealthy family. James’s father, Henry James, Sr., was a theologian and philosopher who provided James and his siblings with a life rich in travel and exposure to different and languages. Having lived abroad for sever- al years, the James family returned to Amer- ica to the start of the Civil War, settling in Newport, Rhode Island, and later in Cam- bridge, Massachusetts. Unable to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War as a result of a physical disability, James attended Harvard Image 2.4 | Henry James, 1910 Law School before deciding to embark on a life Publisher | Bain News Service of traveling and writing, eventually locating Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain to London in 1876. James’s short works soon came to the attention of William Dean Howells, then assistant editor at the At- lantic Monthly in , and James and Howells eventually became proponents and literary theorists for the Realism movement in literature that had reached American shores. Although gregarious and well-connected to leading artists and of his age, James never married, preferring to live alone and to focus his personal time on reading and writing. While James spent a number of years traveling between England and America, he lived most of his adult life in England, eventually receiving British citizenship in 1915, one year before he died. James was one of the leading proponents of American Literary Realism, along with William Dean Howells and Mark Twain. James’s The Art of Fiction (1884) sets forth many of James’s ideas about the nature and importance of Realistic fic- tion. Often described as a psychological Realist, James went further than Howells and Twain in terms of experimentation with point of view, particularly in employ- ing unreliable narrators and interior monologues. His notable novel-length works, including Daisy Miller (1878), (1881), The Bostonians (1886), What Maisie Knew (1897), (1898), and The Am- bassadors (1903), examine a variety of themes, such as the plight of strong-willed or precocious young women or children at odds with the pressures of conventional society, tensions arising from transatlantic travel and living abroad where Ameri- cans experience clashes between American and European cultures, and emotional devastation resulting from a life not fully lived.

Page | 94 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

James’s Daisy Miller, A Study (1878) is a that focuses on a young in- dependent-minded American girl traveling abroad with her mother and brother in Europe who meets an American living abroad, Frederick Winterbourne. Her in- teractions with Winterbourne provide an examination of ways in which Daisy is viewed by those acclimated to European manners and unwritten rules of etiquette and behavior for young women. Winterbourne’s obsessive desire to understand whether or not Daisy is “innocent” provides much of the plot of the story. He cannot determine, for example, whether she is a playful young girl, simply ignorant of the cultural conventions of place and time, or whether she is more worldly and manip- ulative than meets the eye. Winterbourne himself becomes a psychological study: is his preoccupation with Daisy’s innocence a reflection of his own inhibitions? Is he living essentially a half-life, unable or unwilling to commit fully to another person? Is he paralyzed in a complex web of social or psychological fears? In characteristic Realist style, James offers no resolution at the end of the story, allowing questions about Daisy’s character and Winterbourne’s future to go unanswered.

2.6.1 Daisy Miller: A Study

PART I At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels, for the of tourists is the busi- ness of the place, which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake—a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the “grand hotel” of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical, being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travelers are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an Amer- ican watering place. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an , of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of “stylish” young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the “Trois Couronnes” and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the “Trois Couronnes,” it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German wait- ers, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon. I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were up- permost in the mind of a young American, who, two or three years ago, sat in

Page | 95 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) the garden of the “Trois Couronnes,” looking about him, rather idly, at some of the graceful objects I have mentioned. It was a beautiful summer morning, and in whatever fashion the young American looked at things, they must have seemed to him charming. He had come from Geneva the day before by the little steamer, to see his aunt, who was staying at the hotel—Geneva having been for a long time his place of residence. But his aunt had a headache—his aunt had almost always a headache—and now she was shut up in her room, smelling camphor, so that he was at liberty to wander about. He was some seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva “studying.” When his enemies spoke of him, they said—but, after all, he had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there—a foreign lady—a person older than himself. Very few Americans—indeed, I think none—had ever seen this lady, about whom there were some singular stories. But Winterbourne had an old attachment for the little metropolis of ; he had been put to school there as a boy, and he had afterward gone to college there— circumstances which had led to his forming a great many youthful friendships. Many of these he had kept, and they were a source of great satisfaction to him. After knocking at his aunt’s door and learning that she was indisposed, he had taken a walk about the town, and then he had come in to his breakfast. He had now finished his breakfast; but he was drinking a small cup of coffee, which had been served to him on a little table in the garden by one of the waiters who looked like an attache. At last he finished his coffee and lit a cigarette. Presently a small boy came walking along the path—an urchin of nine or ten. The child, who was diminutive for his years, had an aged expression of countenance, a pale complexion, and sharp little features. He was dressed in knickerbockers, with red stockings, which dis- played his poor little spindle-shanks; he also wore a brilliant red cravat. He carried in his hand a long alpenstock, the sharp point of which he thrust into everything that he approached—the flowerbeds, the garden benches, the trains of the ladies’ dresses. In front of Winterbourne he paused, looking at him with a pair of bright, penetrating little eyes. “Will you give me a lump of sugar?” he asked in a sharp, hard little voice—a voice immature and yet, somehow, not young. Winterbourne glanced at the small table near him, on which his coffee service rested, and saw that several morsels of sugar remained. “Yes, you may take one,” he answered; “but I don’t think sugar is good for little boys.” This stepped forward and carefully selected three of the coveted frag- ments, two of which he buried in the pocket of his knickerbockers, depositing the other as promptly in another place. He poked his alpenstock, lance-fashion, into Winterbourne’s bench and tried to crack the lump of sugar with his teeth. “Oh, blazes; it’s har-r-d!” he exclaimed, pronouncing the adjective in a pecu- liar manner.

Page | 96 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Winterbourne had immediately perceived that he might have the honor of claiming him as a fellow countryman. “Take care you don’t hurt your teeth,” he said, paternally. “I haven’t got any teeth to hurt. They have all come out. I have only got seven teeth. My mother counted them last night, and one came out right afterward. She said she’d slap me if any more came out. I can’t help it. It’s this old Europe. It’s the climate that makes them come out. In America they didn’t come out. It’s these hotels.” Winterbourne was much amused. “If you eat three lumps of sugar, your moth- er will certainly slap you,” he said. “She’s got to give me some candy, then,” rejoined his young interlocutor. “I can’t get any candy here—any American candy. American candy’s the best candy.” “And are American little boys the best little boys?” asked Winterbourne. “I don’t know. I’m an American boy,” said the child. “I see you are one of the best!” laughed Winterbourne. “Are you an American man?” pursued this vivacious infant. And then, on Win- terbourne’s affirmative reply—”American men are the best,” he declared. His companion thanked him for the compliment, and the child, who had now got astride of his alpenstock, stood looking about him, while he attacked a second lump of sugar. Winterbourne wondered if he himself had been like this in his in- fancy, for he had been brought to Europe at about this age. “Here comes my sister!” cried the child in a moment. “She’s an American girl.” Winterbourne looked along the path and saw a beautiful young lady advancing. “American girls are the best girls,” he said cheerfully to his young companion. “My sister ain’t the best!” the child declared. “She’s always blowing at me.” “I imagine that is your fault, not hers,” said Winterbourne. The young lady meanwhile had drawn near. She was dressed in white muslin, with a hundred frills and flounces, and knots of pale-colored ribbon. She was bareheaded, but she balanced in her hand a large parasol, with a deep border of embroidery; and she was strikingly, admirably pretty. “How pretty they are!” thought Winterbourne, straightening himself in his seat, as if he were prepared to rise. The young lady paused in front of his bench, near the parapet of the garden, which overlooked the lake. The little boy had now converted his alpenstock into a vaulting pole, by the aid of which he was springing about in the gravel and kicking it up not a little. “Randolph,” said the young lady, “what ARE you doing?” “I’m going up the Alps,” replied Randolph. “This is the way!” And he gave an- other little jump, scattering the pebbles about Winterbourne’s ears. “That’s the way they come down,” said Winterbourne. “He’s an American man!” cried Randolph, in his little hard voice. The young lady gave no heed to this announcement, but looked straight at her brother. “Well, I guess you had better be quiet,” she simply observed. It seemed to Winterbourne that he had been in a manner presented. He got up and stepped slowly toward the young girl, throwing away his cigarette. “This little

Page | 97 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) boy and I have made acquaintance,” he said, with great civility. In Geneva, as he had been perfectly aware, a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young un- married lady except under certain rarely occurring conditions; but here at Vevey, what conditions could be better than these?—a pretty American girl coming and standing in front of you in a garden. This pretty American girl, however, on hear- ing Winterbourne’s observation, simply glanced at him; she then turned her head and looked over the parapet, at the lake and the opposite mountains. He wondered whether he had gone too far, but he decided that he must advance farther, rather than retreat. While he was thinking of something else to say, the young lady turned to the little boy again. “I should like to know where you got that pole,” she said. “I bought it,” responded Randolph. “You don’t mean to say you’re going to take it to Italy?” “Yes, I am going to take it to Italy,” the child declared. The young girl glanced over the front of her dress and smoothed out a knot or two of ribbon. Then she rested her eyes upon the prospect again. “Well, I guess you had better leave it somewhere,” she said after a moment. “Are you going to Italy?” Winterbourne inquired in a tone of great respect. The young lady glanced at him again. “Yes, sir,” she replied. And she said noth- ing more. “Are you—a—going over the Simplon?” Winterbourne pursued, a little embar- rassed. “I don’t know,” she said. “I suppose it’s some mountain. Randolph, what moun- tain are we going over?” “Going where?” the child demanded. “To Italy,” Winterbourne explained. “I don’t know,” said Randolph. “I don’t want to go to Italy. I want to go to America.” “Oh, Italy is a beautiful place!” rejoined the young man. “Can you get candy there?” Randolph loudly inquired. “I hope not,” said his sister. “I guess you have had enough candy, and mother thinks so too.” “I haven’t had any for ever so long—for a hundred weeks!” cried the boy, still jumping about. The young lady inspected her flounces and smoothed her again; and Winterbourne presently risked an observation upon the beauty of the view. He was ceasing to be embarrassed, for he had begun to perceive that she was not in the least embarrassed herself. There had not been the slightest alteration in her charming complexion; she was evidently neither offended nor flattered. If she looked another way when he spoke to her, and seemed not particularly to hear him, this was simply her habit, her manner. Yet, as he talked a little more and pointed out some of the ob- jects of interest in the view, with which she appeared quite unacquainted, she gradu- ally gave him more of the benefit of her glance; and then he saw that this glance was

Page | 98 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) perfectly direct and unshrinking. It was not, however, what would have been called an immodest glance, for the young girl’s eyes were singularly honest and fresh. They were wonderfully pretty eyes; and, indeed, Winterbourne had not seen for a long time anything prettier than his fair countrywoman’s various features—her complex- ion, her nose, her ears, her teeth. He had a great relish for feminine beauty; he was addicted to observing and analyzing it; and as regards this young lady’s face he made several observations. It was not at all insipid, but it was not exactly expressive; and though it was eminently delicate, Winterbourne mentally accused it—very forgiving- ly—of a want of finish. He thought it very possible that Master Randolph’s sister was a ; he was sure she had a spirit of her own; but in her bright, sweet, superfi- cial little visage there was no mockery, no irony. Before long it became obvious that she was much disposed toward conversation. She told him that they were going to Rome for the winter—she and her mother and Randolph. She asked him if he was a “real American”; she shouldn’t have taken him for one; he seemed more like a Ger- man—this was said after a little hesitation—especially when he spoke. Winterbourne, laughing, answered that he had met Germans who spoke like Americans, but that he had not, so far as he remembered, met an American who spoke like a German. Then he asked her if she should not be more comfortable in sitting upon the bench which he had just quitted. She answered that she liked standing up and walking about; but she presently sat down. She told him she was from New York State—“if you know where that is.” Winterbourne learned more about her by catching hold of her small, slippery brother and making him stand a few minutes by his side. “Tell me your name, my boy,” he said. “Randolph C. Miller,” said the boy sharply. “And I’ll tell you her name;” and he leveled his alpenstock at his sister. “You had better wait till you are asked!” said this young lady calmly. “I should like very much to know your name,” said Winterbourne. “Her name is Daisy Miller!” cried the child. “But that isn’t her real name; that isn’t her name on her cards.” “It’s a pity you haven’t got one of my cards!” said Miss Miller. “Her real name is Annie P. Miller,” the boy went on. “Ask him HIS name,” said his sister, indicating Winterbourne. But on this point Randolph seemed perfectly indifferent; he continued to supply information with regard to his own family. “My father’s name is Ezra B. Miller,” he announced. “My father ain’t in Europe; my father’s in a better place than Europe.” Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr. Miller had been removed to the sphere of celestial reward. But Randolph immediately added, “My father’s in Schenectady. He’s got a big business. My father’s rich, you bet!” “Well!” ejaculated Miss Miller, lowering her parasol and looking at the embroi- dered border. Winterbourne presently released the child, who departed, dragging his alpenstock along the path. “He doesn’t like Europe,” said the young girl. “He wants to go back.”

Page | 99 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“To Schenectady, you mean?” “Yes; he wants to go right home. He hasn’t got any boys here. There is one boy here, but he always goes round with a teacher; they won’t let him play.” “And your brother hasn’t any teacher?” Winterbourne inquired. “Mother thought of getting him one, to travel round with us. There was a la- dy told her of a very good teacher; an American lady—perhaps you know her— Mrs. Sanders. I think she came from Boston. She told her of this teacher, and we thought of getting him to travel round with us. But Randolph said he didn’t want a teacher traveling round with us. He said he wouldn’t have lessons when he was in the cars. And we ARE in the cars about half the time. There was an English lady we met in the cars—I think her name was Miss Featherstone; perhaps you know her. She wanted to know why I didn’t give Randolph lessons—give him ‘instruction,’ she called it. I guess he could give me more instruction than I could give him. He’s very smart.” “Yes,” said Winterbourne; “he seems very smart.” “Mother’s going to get a teacher for him as soon as we get to Italy. Can you get good teachers in Italy?” “Very good, I should think,” said Winterbourne. “Or else she’s going to find some school. He ought to learn some more. He’s only nine. He’s going to college.” And in this way Miss Miller continued to con- verse upon the affairs of her family and upon other topics. She sat there with her extremely pretty hands, ornamented with very brilliant rings, folded in her lap, and with her pretty eyes now resting upon those of Winterbourne, now wandering over the garden, the people who passed by, and the beautiful view. She talked to Winterbourne as if she had known him a long time. He found it very pleasant. It was many years since he had heard a young girl talk so much. It might have been said of this unknown young lady, who had come and sat down beside him upon a bench, that she chattered. She was very quiet; she sat in a charming, tranquil attitude; but her lips and her eyes were constantly moving. She had a soft, slen- der, agreeable voice, and her tone was decidedly sociable. She gave Winterbourne a history of her movements and intentions and those of her mother and brother, in Europe, and enumerated, in particular, the various hotels at which they had stopped. “That English lady in the cars,” she said—“Miss Featherstone—asked me if we didn’t all live in hotels in America. I told her I had never been in so many ho- tels in my life as since I came to Europe. I have never seen so many—it’s nothing but hotels.” But Miss Miller did not make this remark with a querulous accent; she appeared to be in the best humor with everything. She declared that the ho- tels were very good, when once you got used to their ways, and that Europe was perfectly sweet. She was not disappointed—not a bit. Perhaps it was because she had heard so much about it before. She had ever so many intimate friends that had been there ever so many times. And then she had had ever so many dresses and things from Paris. Whenever she a Paris dress she felt as if she were in Europe.

Page | 100 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“It was a kind of a wishing cap,” said Winterbourne. “Yes,” said Miss Miller without examining this analogy; “it always made me wish I was here. But I needn’t have done that for dresses. I am sure they send all the pretty ones to America; you see the most frightful things here. The only thing I don’t like,” she proceeded, “is the society. There isn’t any society; or, if there is, I don’t know where it keeps itself. Do you? I suppose there is some society some- where, but I haven’t seen anything of it. I’m very fond of society, and I have always had a great deal of it. I don’t mean only in Schenectady, but in New York. I used to go to New York every winter. In New York I had lots of society. Last winter I had seventeen dinners given me; and three of them were by gentlemen,” added Daisy Miller. “I have more friends in New York than in Schenectady—more gentleman friends; and more young lady friends too,” she resumed in a moment. She paused again for an instant; she was looking at Winterbourne with all her prettiness in her lively eyes and in her light, slightly monotonous smile. “I have always had,” she said, “a great deal of gentlemen’s society.” Poor Winterbourne was amused, perplexed, and decidedly charmed. He had never yet heard a young girl express herself in just this fashion; never, at least, save in cases where to say such things seemed a kind of demonstrative evidence of a certain laxity of deportment. And yet was he to accuse Miss Daisy Miller of actual or potential inconduite, as they said at Geneva? He felt that he had lived at Geneva so long that he had lost a good deal; he had become dishabituated to the American tone. Never, indeed, since he had grown old enough to appreciate things, had he encountered a young American girl of so pronounced a type as this. Certainly she was very charming, but how deucedly sociable! Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State? Were they all like that, the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentlemen’s society? Or was she also a designing, an audacious, an unscrupulous young person? Winterbourne had lost his instinct in this matter, and his reason could not help him. Miss Daisy Miller looked extremely innocent. Some people had told him that, after all, American girls were exceedingly innocent; and others had told him that, after all, they were not. He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt—a pretty American flirt. He had never, as yet, had any relations with young ladies of this category. He had known, here in Europe, two or three women—persons older than Miss Daisy Miller, and provided, for respectability’s sake, with husbands—who were great coquettes—dangerous, terrible women, with whom one’s relations were liable to take a serious turn. But this young girl was not a coquette in that sense; she was very unsophisticated; she was only a pretty American flirt. Winterbourne was almost grateful for having found the formula that applied to Miss Daisy Miller. He leaned back in his seat; he remarked to him- self that she had the most charming nose he had ever seen; he wondered what were the regular conditions and limitations of one’s intercourse with a pretty American flirt. It presently became apparent that he was on the way to learn. “Have you been to that old castle?” asked the young girl, pointing with her parasol to the far-gleaming walls of the Chateau de Chillon.

Page | 101 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Yes, formerly, more than once,” said Winterbourne. “You too, I suppose, have seen it?” “No; we haven’t been there. I want to go there dreadfully. Of course I mean to go there. I wouldn’t go away from here without having seen that old castle.” “It’s a very pretty excursion,” said Winterbourne, “and very easy to make. You can drive, you know, or you can go by the little steamer.” “You can go in the cars,” said Miss Miller. “Yes; you can go in the cars,” Winterbourne assented. “Our courier says they take you right up to the castle,” the young girl continued. “We were going last week, but my mother gave out. She suffers dreadfully from dys- pepsia. She said she couldn’t go. Randolph wouldn’t go either; he says he doesn’t think much of old castles. But I guess we’ll go this week, if we can get Randolph.” “Your brother is not interested in ancient monuments?” Winterbourne in- quired, smiling. “He says he don’t care much about old castles. He’s only nine. He wants to stay at the hotel. Mother’s afraid to leave him alone, and the courier won’t stay with him; so we haven’t been to many places. But it will be too bad if we don’t go up there.” And Miss Miller pointed again at the Chateau de Chillon. “I should think it might be arranged,” said Winterbourne. “Couldn’t you get some one to stay for the afternoon with Randolph?” Miss Miller looked at him a moment, and then, very placidly, “I wish YOU would stay with him!” she said. Winterbourne hesitated a moment. “I should much rather go to Chillon with you.” “With me?” asked the young girl with the same placidity. She didn’t rise, blushing, as a young girl at Geneva would have done; and yet Winterbourne, conscious that he had been very bold, thought it possible she was offended. “With your mother,” he answered very respectfully. But it seemed that both his audacity and his respect were lost upon Miss Dai- sy Miller. “I guess my mother won’t go, after all,” she said. “She don’t like to ride round in the afternoon. But did you really mean what you said just now—that you would like to go up there?” “Most earnestly,” Winterbourne declared. “Then we may arrange it. If mother will stay with Randolph, I guess Eugenio will.” “Eugenio?” the young man inquired. “Eugenio’s our courier. He doesn’t like to stay with Randolph; he’s the most fastidious man I ever saw. But he’s a splendid courier. I guess he’ll stay at home with Randolph if mother does, and then we can go to the castle.” Winterbourne reflected for an instant as lucidly as possible—“we” could on- ly mean Miss Daisy Miller and himself. This program seemed almost too agree- able for credence; he felt as if he ought to kiss the young lady’s hand. Possibly he would have done so and quite spoiled the project, but at this moment another person, presumably Eugenio, appeared. A tall, handsome man, with superb whis-

Page | 102 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) kers, wearing a velvet morning coat and a brilliant watch chain, approached Miss Miller, looking sharply at her companion. “Oh, Eugenio!” said Miss Miller with the friendliest accent. Eugenio had looked at Winterbourne from head to foot; he now bowed gravely to the young lady. “I have the honor to inform mademoiselle that luncheon is upon the table.” Miss Miller slowly rose. “See here, Eugenio!” she said; “I’m going to that old castle, anyway.” “To the Chateau de Chillon, mademoiselle?” the courier inquired. “Mademoi- selle has made arrangements?” he added in a tone which struck Winterbourne as very impertinent. Eugenio’s tone apparently threw, even to Miss Miller’s own apprehension, a slightly ironical light upon the young girl’s situation. She turned to Winterbourne, blushing a little—a very little. “You won’t back out?” she said. “I shall not be happy till we go!” he protested. “And you are staying in this hotel?” she went on. “And you are really an American?” The courier stood looking at Winterbourne offensively. The young man, at least, thought his manner of looking an offense to Miss Miller; it conveyed an imputation that she “picked up” acquaintances. “I shall have the honor of presenting to you a person who will tell you all about me,” he said, smiling and referring to his aunt. “Oh, well, we’ll go some day,” said Miss Miller. And she gave him a smile and turned away. She put up her parasol and walked back to the inn beside Eugenio. Winterbourne stood looking after her; and as she moved away, drawing her muslin furbelows over the gravel, said to himself that she had the tournure of a princess. He had, however, engaged to do more than proved feasible, in promising to present his aunt, Mrs. Costello, to Miss Daisy Miller. As soon as the former lady had got better of her headache, he waited upon her in her apartment; and, after the proper inquiries in regard to her health, he asked her if she had observed in the hotel an American family—a mamma, a daughter, and a little boy. “And a courier?” said Mrs. Costello. “Oh yes, I have observed them. Seen them—heard them—and kept out of their way.” Mrs. Costello was a widow with a fortune; a person of much distinction, who frequently intimated that, if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick headaches, she would probably have left a deeper impress upon her time. She had a long, pale face, a high nose, and a great deal of very striking white hair, which she wore in large puffs and rouleaux over the top of her head. She had two sons married in New York and another who was now in Europe. This young man was amusing himself at Hamburg, and, though he was on his travels, was rarely perceived to visit any particular city at the moment selected by his mother for her own appearance there. Her nephew, who had come up to Vevey expressly to see her, was therefore more attentive than those who, as she said, were nearer to her. He had imbibed at Geneva the idea that one must always be attentive to one’s aunt. Mrs. Costello had not seen him for many years, and she was greatly pleased with him, manifesting her approbation by initiating him into

Page | 103 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) many of the secrets of that social sway which, as she gave him to understand, she exerted in the American capital. She admitted that she was very exclusive; but, if he were acquainted with New York, he would see that one had to be. And her pic- ture of the minutely hierarchical constitution of the society of that city, which she presented to him in many different lights, was, to Winterbourne’s imagination, almost oppressively striking. He immediately perceived, from her tone, that Miss Daisy Miller’s place in the social scale was low. “I am afraid you don’t approve of them,” he said. “They are very common,” Mrs. Costello declared. “They are the sort of Ameri- cans that one does one’s duty by not—not accepting.” “Ah, you don’t accept them?” said the young man. “I can’t, my dear Frederick. I would if I could, but I can’t.” “The young girl is very pretty,” said Winterbourne in a moment. “Of course she’s pretty. But she is very common.” “I see what you mean, of course,” said Winterbourne after another pause. “She has that charming look that they all have,” his aunt resumed. “I can’t think where they pick it up; and she dresses in perfection—no, you don’t know how well she dresses. I can’t think where they get their taste.” “But, my dear aunt, she is not, after all, a Comanche savage.” “She is a young lady,” said Mrs. Costello, “who has an intimacy with her mam- ma’s courier.” “An intimacy with the courier?” the young man demanded. “Oh, the mother is just as bad! They treat the courier like a familiar friend—like a gentleman. I shouldn’t wonder if he dines with them. Very likely they have never seen a man with such good manners, such fine clothes, so like a gentleman. He probably corresponds to the young lady’s idea of a count. He sits with them in the garden in the evening. I think he smokes.” Winterbourne listened with interest to these disclosures; they helped him to make up his mind about Miss Daisy. Evidently she was rather wild. “Well,” he said, “I am not a courier, and yet she was very charming to me.” “You had better have said at first,” said Mrs. Costello with dignity, “that you had made her acquaintance.” “We simply met in the garden, and we talked a bit.” “Tout bonnement! And pray what did you say?” “I said I should take the liberty of introducing her to my admirable aunt.” “I am much obliged to you.” “It was to guarantee my respectability,” said Winterbourne. “And pray who is to guarantee hers?” “Ah, you are cruel!” said the young man. “She’s a very nice young girl.” “You don’t say that as if you believed it,” Mrs. Costello observed. “She is completely uncultivated,” Winterbourne went on. “But she is wonder- fully pretty, and, in short, she is very nice. To prove that I believe it, I am going to take her to the Chateau de Chillon.”

Page | 104 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“You two are going off there together? I should say it proved just the contrary. How long had you known her, may I ask, when this interesting project was formed? You haven’t been twenty-four hours in the house.” “I have known her half an hour!” said Winterbourne, smiling. “Dear me!” cried Mrs. Costello. “What a dreadful girl!” Her nephew was silent for some moments. “You really think, then,” he began earnestly, and with a desire for trustworthy information—”you really think that—” But he paused again. “Think what, sir?” said his aunt. “That she is the sort of young lady who expects a man, sooner or later, to carry her off?” “I haven’t the least idea what such young ladies expect a man to do. But I really think that you had better not meddle with little American girls that are uncultivat- ed, as you call them. You have lived too long out of the country. You will be sure to make some great mistake. You are too innocent.” “My dear aunt, I am not so innocent,” said Winterbourne, smiling and curling his mustache. “You are guilty too, then!” Winterbourne continued to curl his mustache meditatively. “You won’t let the poor girl know you then?” he asked at last. “Is it literally true that she is going to the Chateau de Chillon with you?” “I think that she fully intends it.” “Then, my dear Frederick,” said Mrs. Costello, “I must decline the honor of her acquaintance. I am an old woman, but I am not too old, thank Heaven, to be shocked!” “But don’t they all do these things—the young girls in America?” Winterbourne inquired. Mrs. Costello stared a moment. “I should like to see my granddaughters do them!” she declared grimly. This seemed to throw some light upon the matter, for Winterbourne remem- bered to have heard that his pretty cousins in New York were “tremendous flirts.” If, therefore, Miss Daisy Miller exceeded the liberal margin allowed to these young ladies, it was probable that anything might be expected of her. Winterbourne was impatient to see her again, and he was vexed with himself that, by instinct, he should not appreciate her justly. Though he was impatient to see her, he hardly knew what he should say to her about his aunt’s refusal to become acquainted with her; but he discovered, prompt- ly enough, that with Miss Daisy Miller there was no great need of walking on tiptoe. He found her that evening in the garden, wandering about in the warm starlight like an indolent sylph, and swinging to and fro the largest fan he had ever beheld. It was ten o’clock. He had dined with his aunt, had been sitting with her since dinner, and had just taken leave of her till the morrow. Miss Daisy Miller seemed very glad to see him; she declared it was the longest evening she had ever passed.

Page | 105 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Have you been all alone?” he asked. “I have been walking round with mother. But mother gets tired walking round,” she answered. “Has she gone to bed?” “No; she doesn’t like to go to bed,” said the young girl. “She doesn’t sleep—not three hours. She says she doesn’t know how she lives. She’s dreadfully nervous. I guess she sleeps more than she thinks. She’s gone somewhere after Randolph; she wants to try to get him to go to bed. He doesn’t like to go to bed.” “Let us hope she will persuade him,” observed Winterbourne. “She will talk to him all she can; but he doesn’t like her to talk to him,” said Miss Daisy, opening her fan. “She’s going to try to get Eugenio to talk to him. But he isn’t afraid of Eugenio. Eugenio’s a splendid courier, but he can’t make much impression on Randolph! I don’t believe he’ll go to bed before eleven.” It appeared that Randolph’s vigil was in fact triumphantly prolonged, for Winterbourne strolled about with the young girl for some time without meeting her mother. “I have been looking round for that lady you want to introduce me to,” his compan- ion resumed. “She’s your aunt.” Then, on Winterbourne’s admitting the fact and expressing some curiosity as to how she had learned it, she said she had heard all about Mrs. Costello from the chambermaid. She was very quiet and very comme il faut; she wore white puffs; she spoke to no one, and she never dined at the table d’hote. Every two days she had a headache. “I think that’s a lovely , headache and all!” said Miss Daisy, chattering along in her thin, gay voice. “I want to know her ever so much. I know just what YOUR aunt would be; I know I should like her. She would be very exclusive. I like a lady to be exclusive; I’m dying to be exclusive myself. Well, we ARE exclusive, mother and I. We don’t speak to every- one—or they don’t speak to us. I suppose it’s about the same thing. Anyway, I shall be ever so glad to know your aunt.” Winterbourne was embarrassed. “She would be most happy,” he said; “but I am afraid those headaches will interfere.” The young girl looked at him through the dusk. “But I suppose she doesn’t have a headache every day,” she said sympathetically. Winterbourne was silent a moment. “She tells me she does,” he answered at last, not knowing what to say. Miss Daisy Miller stopped and stood looking at him. Her prettiness was still visible in the darkness; she was opening and closing her enormous fan. “She doesn’t want to know me!” she said suddenly. “Why don’t you say so? You needn’t be afraid. I’m not afraid!” And she gave a little laugh. Winterbourne fancied there was a tremor in her voice; he was touched, shocked, mortified by it. “My dear young lady,” he protested, “she knows no one. It’s her wretched health.” The young girl walked on a few steps, laughing still. “You needn’t be afraid,” she repeated. “Why should she want to know me?” Then she paused again; she was close to the parapet of the garden, and in front of her was the starlit lake. There was

Page | 106 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) a vague sheen upon its surface, and in the distance were dimly seen mountain forms. Daisy Miller looked out upon the mysterious prospect and then she gave another little laugh. “Gracious! she IS exclusive!” she said. Winterbourne wondered whether she was seriously wounded, and for a moment almost wished that her sense of injury might be such as to make it becoming in him to attempt to reassure and comfort her. He had a pleasant sense that she would be very approachable for consolatory pur- poses. He felt then, for the instant, quite ready to sacrifice his aunt, conversationally; to admit that she was a proud, rude woman, and to declare that they needn’t mind her. But before he had time to commit himself to this perilous mixture of gallantry and impiety, the young lady, resuming her walk, gave an exclamation in quite an- other tone. “Well, here’s Mother! I guess she hasn’t got Randolph to go to bed.” The figure of a lady appeared at a distance, very indistinct in the darkness, and advancing with a slow and wavering movement. Suddenly it seemed to pause. “Are you sure it is your mother? Can you distinguish her in this thick dusk?” Winterbourne asked. “Well!” cried Miss Daisy Miller with a laugh; “I guess I know my own mother. And when she has got on my shawl, too! She is always wearing my things.” The lady in question, ceasing to advance, hovered vaguely about the spot at which she had checked her steps. “I am afraid your mother doesn’t see you,” said Winterbourne. “Or perhaps,” he added, thinking, with Miss Miller, the joke permissible—“perhaps she feels guilty about your shawl.” “Oh, it’s a fearful old thing!” the young girl replied serenely. “I told her she could wear it. She won’t come here because she sees you.” “Ah, then,” said Winterbourne, “I had better leave you.” “Oh, no; come on!” urged Miss Daisy Miller. “I’m afraid your mother doesn’t approve of my walking with you.” Miss Miller gave him a serious glance. “It isn’t for me; it’s for you—that is, it’s for HER. Well, I don’t know who it’s for! But mother doesn’t like any of my gen- tlemen friends. She’s right down timid. She always makes a fuss if I introduce a gentleman. But I DO introduce them—almost always. If I didn’t introduce my gen- tlemen friends to Mother,” the young girl added in her little soft, flat monotone, “I shouldn’t think I was natural.” “To introduce me,” said Winterbourne, “you must know my name.” And he proceeded to pronounce it. “Oh, dear, I can’t say all that!” said his companion with a laugh. But by this time they had come up to Mrs. Miller, who, as they drew near, walked to the par- apet of the garden and leaned upon it, looking intently at the lake and turning her back to them. “Mother!” said the young girl in a tone of decision. Upon this the elder lady turned round. “Mr. Winterbourne,” said Miss Daisy Miller, introducing the young man very frankly and prettily. “Common,” she was, as Mrs. Costello had pronounced her; yet it was a wonder to Winterbourne that, with her commonness, she had a singularly delicate grace.

Page | 107 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Her mother was a small, spare, light person, with a wandering eye, a very ex- iguous nose, and a large forehead, decorated with a certain amount of thin, much frizzled hair. Like her daughter, Mrs. Miller was dressed with extreme ; she had enormous diamonds in her ears. So far as Winterbourne could observe, she gave him no greeting—she certainly was not looking at him. Daisy was near her, pulling her shawl straight. “What are you doing, poking round here?” this young lady inquired, but by no means with that harshness of accent which her choice of words may imply. “I don’t know,” said her mother, turning toward the lake again. “I shouldn’t think you’d want that shawl!” Daisy exclaimed. “Well I do!” her mother answered with a little laugh. “Did you get Randolph to go to bed?” asked the young girl. “No; I couldn’t induce him,” said Mrs. Miller very gently. “He wants to talk to the waiter. He likes to talk to that waiter.” “I was telling Mr. Winterbourne,” the young girl went on; and to the young man’s ear her tone might have indicated that she had been uttering his name all her life. “Oh, yes!” said Winterbourne; “I have the pleasure of knowing your son.” Randolph’s mamma was silent; she turned her attention to the lake. But at last she spoke. “Well, I don’t see how he lives!” “Anyhow, it isn’t so bad as it was at Dover,” said Daisy Miller. “And what occurred at Dover?” Winterbourne asked. “He wouldn’t go to bed at all. I guess he sat up all night in the public parlor. He wasn’t in bed at twelve o’clock: I know that.” “It was half-past twelve,” declared Mrs. Miller with mild emphasis. “Does he sleep much during the day?” Winterbourne demanded. “I guess he doesn’t sleep much,” Daisy rejoined. “I wish he would!” said her mother. “It seems as if he couldn’t.” “I think he’s real tiresome,” Daisy pursued. Then, for some moments, there was silence. “Well, Daisy Miller,” said the elder lady, presently, “I shouldn’t think you’d want to talk against your own brother!” “Well, he IS tiresome, Mother,” said Daisy, quite without the asperity of a retort. “He’s only nine,” urged Mrs. Miller. “Well, he wouldn’t go to that castle,” said the young girl. “I’m going there with Mr. Winterbourne.” To this announcement, very placidly made, Daisy’s mamma offered no response. Winterbourne took for granted that she deeply disapproved of the projected excur- sion; but he said to himself that she was a simple, easily managed person, and that a few deferential protestations would take the edge from her displeasure. “Yes,” he began; “your daughter has kindly allowed me the honor of being her guide.” Mrs. Miller’s wandering eyes attached themselves, with a sort of appealing air, to Daisy, who, however, strolled a few steps farther, gently humming to herself. “I presume you will go in the cars,” said her mother.

Page | 108 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Yes, or in the boat,” said Winterbourne. “Well, of course, I don’t know,” Mrs. Miller rejoined. “I have never been to that castle.” “It is a pity you shouldn’t go,” said Winterbourne, beginning to feel reassured as to her opposition. And yet he was quite prepared to find that, as a matter of course, she meant to accompany her daughter. “We’ve been thinking ever so much about going,” she pursued; “but it seems as if we couldn’t. Of course Daisy—she wants to go round. But there’s a lady here—I don’t know her name—she says she shouldn’t think we’d want to go to see castles HERE; she should think we’d want to wait till we got to Italy. It seems as if there would be so many there,” continued Mrs. Miller with an air of increasing confi- dence. “Of course we only want to see the principal ones. We visited several in England,” she presently added. “Ah yes! in England there are beautiful castles,” said Winterbourne. “But Chil- lon here, is very well worth seeing.” “Well, if Daisy feels up to it—” said Mrs. Miller, in a tone impregnated with a sense of the magnitude of the enterprise. “It seems as if there was nothing she wouldn’t undertake.” “Oh, I think she’ll enjoy it!” Winterbourne declared. And he desired more and more to make it a certainty that he was to have the privilege of a tete-a-tete with the young lady, who was still strolling along in front of them, softly vocalizing. “You are not disposed, madam,” he inquired, “to undertake it yourself?” Daisy’s mother looked at him an instant askance, and then walked forward in silence. Then—”I guess she had better go alone,” she said simply. Winterbourne ob- served to himself that this was a very different type of maternity from that of the vigilant matrons who massed themselves in the forefront of social intercourse in the dark old city at the other end of the lake. But his meditations were interrupted by hearing his name very distinctly pronounced by Mrs. Miller’s unprotected daughter. “Mr. Winterbourne!” murmured Daisy. “Mademoiselle!” said the young man. “Don’t you want to take me out in a boat?” “At present?” he asked. “Of course!” said Daisy. “Well, Annie Miller!” exclaimed her mother. “I beg you, madam, to let her go,” said Winterbourne ardently; for he had never yet enjoyed the sensation of guiding through the summer starlight a skiff freighted with a fresh and beautiful young girl. “I shouldn’t think she’d want to,” said her mother. “I should think she’d rather go indoors.” “I’m sure Mr. Winterbourne wants to take me,” Daisy declared. “He’s so awful- ly devoted!” “I will row you over to Chillon in the starlight.” “I don’t believe it!” said Daisy.

Page | 109 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Well!” ejaculated the elder lady again. “You haven’t spoken to me for half an hour,” her daughter went on. “I have been having some very pleasant conversation with your mother,” said Winterbourne. “Well, I want you to take me out in a boat!” Daisy repeated. They had all stopped, and she had turned round and was looking at Winterbourne. Her face wore a charming smile, her pretty eyes were gleaming, she was swinging her great fan about. No; it’s impossible to be prettier than that, thought Winterbourne. “There are half a dozen boats moored at that landing place,” he said, pointing to certain steps which descended from the garden to the lake. “If you will do me the honor to accept my arm, we will go and select one of them.” Daisy stood there smiling; she threw back her head and gave a little, light laugh. “I like a gentleman to be formal!” she declared. “I assure you it’s a formal offer.” “I was bound I would make you say something,” Daisy went on. “You see, it’s not very difficult,” said Winterbourne. “But I am afraid you are chaffing me.” “I think not, sir,” remarked Mrs. Miller very gently. “Do, then, let me give you a row,” he said to the young girl. “It’s quite lovely, the way you say that!” cried Daisy. “It will be still more lovely to do it.” “Yes, it would be lovely!” said Daisy. But she made no movement to accompany him; she only stood there laughing. “I should think you had better find out what time it is,” interposed her mother. “It is eleven o’clock, madam,” said a voice, with a foreign accent, out of the neighboring darkness; and Winterbourne, turning, perceived the florid personage who was in attendance upon the two ladies. He had apparently just approached. “Oh, Eugenio,” said Daisy, “I am going out in a boat!” Eugenio bowed. “At eleven o’clock, mademoiselle?” “I am going with Mr. Winterbourne—this very minute.” “Do tell her she can’t,” said Mrs. Miller to the courier. “I think you had better not go out in a boat, mademoiselle,” Eugenio declared. Winterbourne wished to Heaven this pretty girl were not so familiar with her courier; but he said nothing. “I suppose you don’t think it’s proper!” Daisy exclaimed. “Eugenio doesn’t think anything’s proper.” “I am at your service,” said Winterbourne. “Does mademoiselle propose to go alone?” asked Eugenio of Mrs. Miller. “Oh, no; with this gentleman!” answered Daisy’s mamma. The courier looked for a moment at Winterbourne—the latter thought he was smiling—and then, solemnly, with a bow, “As mademoiselle pleases!” he said. “Oh, I hoped you would make a fuss!” said Daisy. “I don’t care to go now.” “I myself shall make a fuss if you don’t go,” said Winterbourne.

Page | 110 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“That’s all I want—a little fuss!” And the young girl began to laugh again. “Mr. Randolph has gone to bed!” the courier announced frigidly. “Oh, Daisy; now we can go!” said Mrs. Miller. Daisy turned away from Winterbourne, looking at him, smiling and fanning herself. “Good night,” she said; “I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!” He looked at her, taking the hand she offered him. “I am puzzled,” he answered. “Well, I hope it won’t keep you awake!” she said very smartly; and, under the escort of the privileged Eugenio, the two ladies passed toward the house. Winterbourne stood looking after them; he was indeed puzzled. He lingered beside the lake for a quarter of an hour, turning over the mystery of the young girl’s sudden familiarities and caprices. But the only very definite conclusion he came to was that he should enjoy deucedly “going off” with her somewhere. Two days afterward he went off with her to the Castle of Chillon. He waited for her in the large hall of the hotel, where the couriers, the servants, the foreign tour- ists, were lounging about and staring. It was not the place he should have chosen, but she had appointed it. She came tripping downstairs, buttoning her long gloves, squeezing her folded parasol against her pretty figure, dressed in the perfection of a soberly elegant traveling costume. Winterbourne was a man of imagination and, as our ancestors used to say, sensibility; as he looked at her dress and, on the great staircase, her little rapid, confiding step, he felt as if there were something romantic going forward. He could have believed he was going to elope with her. He passed out with her among all the idle people that were assembled there; they were all looking at her very hard; she had begun to chatter as soon as she joined him. Winterbourne’s preference had been that they should be conveyed to Chillon in a carriage; but she expressed a lively wish to go in the little steamer; she declared that she had a passion for steamboats. There was always such a lovely breeze upon the water, and you saw such lots of people. The sail was not long, but Winterbourne’s companion found time to say a great many things. To the young man himself their little excursion was so much of an escapade—an adventure—that, even allowing for her habitual sense of freedom, he had some expectation of seeing her regard it in the same way. But it must be confessed that, in this particular, he was disappoint- ed. Daisy Miller was extremely animated, she was in charming spirits; but she was apparently not at all excited; she was not fluttered; she avoided neither his eyes nor those of anyone else; she blushed neither when she looked at him nor when she felt that people were looking at her. People continued to look at her a great deal, and Winterbourne took much satisfaction in his pretty companion’s distin- guished air. He had been a little afraid that she would talk loud, laugh overmuch, and even, perhaps, desire to move about the boat a good deal. But he quite forgot his fears; he sat smiling, with his eyes upon her face, while, without moving from her place, she delivered herself of a great number of original reflections. It was the most charming garrulity he had ever heard. He had assented to the idea that she was “common”; but was she so, after all, or was he simply getting used to her com-

Page | 111 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) monness? Her conversation was chiefly of what metaphysicians term the objective cast, but every now and then it took a subjective turn. “What on EARTH are you so grave about?” she suddenly demanded, fixing her agreeable eyes upon Winterbourne’s. “Am I grave?” he asked. “I had an idea I was grinning from ear to ear.” “You look as if you were taking me to a funeral. If that’s a grin, your ears are very near together.” “Should you like me to dance a hornpipe on the deck?” “Pray do, and I’ll carry round your hat. It will pay the expenses of our journey.” “I never was better pleased in my life,” murmured Winterbourne. She looked at him a moment and then burst into a little laugh. “I like to make you say those things! You’re a queer mixture!” In the castle, after they had landed, the subjective element decidedly pre- vailed. Daisy tripped about the vaulted chambers, rustled her skirts in the cork- screw staircases, flirted back with a pretty little cry and a shudder from the edge of the oubliettes, and turned a singularly well-shaped ear to everything that Winterbourne told her about the place. But he saw that she cared very little for feudal antiquities and that the dusky traditions of Chillon made but a slight im- pression upon her. They had the good fortune to have been able to walk about without other companionship than that of the custodian; and Winterbourne ar- ranged with this functionary that they should not be hurried—that they should linger and pause wherever they chose. The custodian interpreted the bargain generously—Winterbourne, on his side, had been generous—and ended by leav- ing them quite to themselves. Miss Miller’s observations were not remarkable for logical consistency; for anything she wanted to say she was sure to find a pretext. She found a great many pretexts in the rugged embrasures of Chillon for asking Winterbourne sudden questions about himself—his family, his previous history, his tastes, his habits, his intentions—and for supplying information up- on corresponding points in her own personality. Of her own tastes, habits, and intentions Miss Miller was prepared to give the most definite, and indeed the most favorable account. “Well, I hope you know enough!” she said to her companion, after he had told her the history of the unhappy Bonivard. “I never saw a man that knew so much!” The history of Bonivard had evidently, as they say, gone into one ear and out of the other. But Daisy went on to say that she wished Winterbourne would travel with them and “go round” with them; they might know something, in that case. “Don’t you want to come and teach Randolph?” she asked. Winterbourne said that nothing could possibly please him so much, but that he had unfortunately other occupations. “Other occupations? I don’t believe it!” said Miss Daisy. “What do you mean? You are not .” The young man admitted that he was not in busi- ness; but he had engagements which, even within a day or two, would force him to go back to Geneva. “Oh, bother!” she said; “I don’t believe it!” and she began to talk about something else. But a few moments later, when he was pointing out to

Page | 112 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) her the pretty design of an antique fireplace, she broke out irrelevantly, “You don’t mean to say you are going back to Geneva?” “It is a melancholy fact that I shall have to return to Geneva tomorrow.” “Well, Mr. Winterbourne,” said Daisy, “I think you’re horrid!” “Oh, don’t say such dreadful things!” said Winterbourne—“just at the last!” “The last!” cried the young girl; “I call it the first. I have half a mind to leave you here and go straight back to the hotel alone.” And for the next ten minutes she did nothing but call him horrid. Poor Winterbourne was fairly bewildered; no young lady had as yet done him the honor to be so agitated by the announcement of his movements. His companion, after this, ceased to pay any attention to the curiosities of Chillon or the beauties of the lake; she opened fire upon the mysteri- ous charmer in Geneva whom she appeared to have instantly taken it for granted that he was hurrying back to see. How did Miss Daisy Miller know that there was a charmer in Geneva? Winterbourne, who denied the existence of such a person, was quite unable to discover, and he was divided between amazement at the rapidity of her induction and amusement at the frankness of her persiflage. She seemed to him, in all this, an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity. “Does she never allow you more than three days at a time?” asked Daisy ironically. “Doesn’t she give you a vacation in summer? There’s no one so hard worked but they can get leave to go off somewhere at this season. I suppose, if you stay another day, she’ll come after you in the boat. Do wait over till Friday, and I will go down to the landing to see her arrive!” Winterbourne began to think he had been wrong to feel disappointed in the temper in which the young lady had embarked. If he had missed the personal accent, the personal accent was now making its appearance. It sounded very distinctly, at last, in her telling him she would stop “teasing” him if he would promise her solemnly to come down to Rome in the winter. “That’s not a difficult promise to make,” said Winterbourne. “My aunt has taken an apartment in Rome for the winter and has already asked me to come and see her.” “I don’t want you to come for your aunt,” said Daisy; “I want you to come for me.” And this was the only allusion that the young man was ever to hear her make to his invidious kinswoman. He declared that, at any rate, he would certainly come. After this Daisy stopped teasing. Winterbourne took a carriage, and they drove back to Vevey in the dusk; the young girl was very quiet. In the evening Winterbourne mentioned to Mrs. Costello that he had spent the afternoon at Chillon with Miss Daisy Miller. “—of the courier?” asked this lady. “Ah, happily,” said Winterbourne, “the courier stayed at home.” “She went with you all alone?” “All alone.” Mrs. Costello sniffed a little at her smelling bottle. “And that,” she exclaimed, “is the young person whom you wanted me to know!”

Page | 113 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

PART II Winterbourne, who had returned to Geneva the day after his excursion to Chil- lon, went to Rome toward the end of January. His aunt had been established there for several weeks, and he had received a couple of letters from her. “Those people you were so devoted to last summer at Vevey have turned up here, courier and all,” she wrote. “They seem to have made several acquaintances, but the courier con- tinues to be the most intime. The young lady, however, is also very intimate with some third-rate Italians, with whom she rackets about in a way that makes much talk. Bring me that pretty novel of Cherbuliez’s—Paule Mere—and don’t come later than the 23rd.” In the natural course of events, Winterbourne, on arriving in Rome, would presently have ascertained Mrs. Miller’s address at the American banker’s and have gone to pay his compliments to Miss Daisy. “After what happened at Vevey, I think I may certainly call upon them,” he said to Mrs. Costello. “If, after what happens—at Vevey and everywhere—you desire to keep up the acquaintance, you are very welcome. Of course a man may know everyone. Men are welcome to the privilege!” “Pray what is it that happens—here, for instance?” Winterbourne demanded. “The girl goes about alone with her foreigners. As to what happens further, you must apply elsewhere for information. She has picked up half a dozen of the reg- ular Roman fortune hunters, and she takes them about to people’s houses. When she comes to a party she brings with her a gentleman with a good deal of manner and a wonderful mustache.” “And where is the mother?” “I haven’t the least idea. They are very dreadful people.” Winterbourne meditated a moment. “They are very ignorant—very innocent only. Depend upon it they are not bad.” “They are hopelessly vulgar,” said Mrs. Costello. “Whether or no being hope- lessly vulgar is being ‘bad’ is a question for the metaphysicians. They are bad enough to dislike, at any rate; and for this short life that is quite enough.” The news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful mustach- es checked Winterbourne’s impulse to go straightway to see her. He had, perhaps, not definitely flattered himself that he had made an ineffaceable impression upon her heart, but he was annoyed at hearing of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately flitted in and out of his own meditations; the image of a very pretty girl looking out of an old Roman window and asking herself urgently when Mr. Winterbourne would arrive. If, however, he determined to wait a little before reminding Miss Miller of his claims to her consideration, he went very soon to call upon two or three other friends. One of these friends was an American lady who had spent several winters at Geneva, where she had placed her children at school. She was a very accomplished woman, and she lived in the Via Gregoriana. Winterbourne found her in a little crimson drawing room on a third floor; the room was filled with southern sunshine. He had not been there ten minutes when the servant came in,

Page | 114 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) announcing “Madame Mila!” This announcement was presently followed by the en- trance of little Randolph Miller, who stopped in the middle of the room and stood staring at Winterbourne. An instant later his pretty sister crossed the threshold; and then, after a considerable interval, Mrs. Miller slowly advanced. “I know you!” said Randolph. “I’m sure you know a great many things,” exclaimed Winterbourne, taking him by the hand. “How is your education coming on?” Daisy was exchanging greetings very prettily with her hostess, but when she heard Winterbourne’s voice she quickly turned her head. “Well, I declare!” she said. “I told you I should come, you know,” Winterbourne rejoined, smiling. “Well, I didn’t believe it,” said Miss Daisy. “I am much obliged to you,” laughed the young man. “You might have come to see me!” said Daisy. “I arrived only yesterday.” “I don’t believe that!” the young girl declared. Winterbourne turned with a protesting smile to her mother, but this lady evad- ed his glance, and, seating herself, fixed her eyes upon her son. “We’ve got a bigger place than this,” said Randolph. “It’s all gold on the walls.” Mrs. Miller turned uneasily in her chair. “I told you if I were to bring you, you would say something!” she murmured. “I told YOU!” Randolph exclaimed. “I tell YOU, sir!” he added jocosely, giving Winterbourne a thump on the knee. “It IS bigger, too!” Daisy had entered upon a lively conversation with her hostess; Winterbourne judged it becoming to address a few words to her mother. “I hope you have been well since we parted at Vevey,” he said. Mrs. Miller now certainly looked at him—at his chin. “Not very well, sir,” she answered. “She’s got the dyspepsia,” said Randolph. “I’ve got it too. Father’s got it. I’ve got it most!” This announcement, instead of embarrassing Mrs. Miller, seemed to relieve her. “I suffer from the liver,” she said. “I think it’s this climate; it’s less bracing than Schenectady, especially in the winter season. I don’t know whether you know we reside at Schenectady. I was saying to Daisy that I certainly hadn’t found any one like Dr. Davis, and I didn’t believe I should. Oh, at Schenectady he stands first; they think everything of him. He has so much to do, and yet there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. He said he never saw anything like my dyspepsia, but he was bound to cure it. I’m sure there was nothing he wouldn’t try. He was just going to try something new when we came off. Mr. Miller wanted Daisy to see Europe for herself. But I wrote to Mr. Miller that it seems as if I couldn’t get on without Dr. Davis. At Schenectady he stands at the very top; and there’s a great deal of sickness there, too. It affects my sleep.” Winterbourne had a good deal of pathological gossip with Dr. Davis’s patient, during which Daisy chattered unremittingly to her own companion. The young man

Page | 115 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) asked Mrs. Miller how she was pleased with Rome. “Well, I must say I am disap- pointed,” she answered. “We had heard so much about it; I suppose we had heard too much. But we couldn’t help that. We had been led to expect something different.” “Ah, wait a little, and you will become very fond of it,” said Winterbourne. “I hate it worse and worse every day!” cried Randolph. “You are like the infant Hannibal,” said Winterbourne. “No, I ain’t!” Randolph declared at a venture. “You are not much like an infant,” said his mother. “But we have seen places,” she resumed, “that I should put a long way before Rome.” And in reply to Winter- bourne’s interrogation, “There’s Zurich,” she concluded, “I think Zurich is lovely; and we hadn’t heard half so much about it.” “The best place we’ve seen is the City of Richmond!” said Randolph. “He means the ship,” his mother explained. “We crossed in that ship. Randolph had a good time on the City of Richmond.” “It’s the best place I’ve seen,” the child repeated. “Only it was turned the wrong way.” “Well, we’ve got to turn the right way some time,” said Mrs. Miller with a lit- tle laugh. Winterbourne expressed the hope that her daughter at least found some gratification in Rome, and she declared that Daisy was quite carried away. “It’s on account of the society—the society’s splendid. She goes round everywhere; she has made a great number of acquaintances. Of course she goes round more than I do. I must say they have been very sociable; they have taken her right in. And then she knows a great many gentlemen. Oh, she thinks there’s nothing like Rome. Of course, it’s a great deal pleasanter for a young lady if she knows plenty of gentlemen.” By this time Daisy had turned her attention again to Winterbourne. “I’ve been telling Mrs. Walker how mean you were!” the young girl announced. “And what is the evidence you have offered?” asked Winterbourne, rather an- noyed at Miss Miller’s want of appreciation of the zeal of an admirer who on his way down to Rome had stopped neither at Bologna nor at , simply because of a certain sentimental impatience. He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty ones, and this gave a largeness to the axiom—were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness. “Why, you were awfully mean at Vevey,” said Daisy. “You wouldn’t do any- thing. You wouldn’t stay there when I asked you.” “My dearest young lady,” cried Winterbourne, with eloquence, “have I come all the way to Rome to encounter your reproaches?” “Just hear him say that!” said Daisy to her hostess, giving a twist to a bow on this lady’s dress. “Did you ever hear anything so quaint?” “So quaint, my dear?” murmured Mrs. Walker in the tone of a partisan of Win- terbourne. “Well, I don’t know,” said Daisy, fingering Mrs. Walker’s ribbons. “Mrs. Walk- er, I want to tell you something.”

Page | 116 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Mother-r,” interposed Randolph, with his rough ends to his words, “I tell you you’ve got to go. Eugenio’ll raise—something!” “I’m not afraid of Eugenio,” said Daisy with a toss of her head. “Look here, Mrs. Walker,” she went on, “you know I’m coming to your party.” “I am delighted to hear it.” “I’ve got a lovely dress!” “I am very sure of that.” “But I want to ask a favor—permission to bring a friend.” “I shall be happy to see any of your friends,” said Mrs. Walker, turning with a smile to Mrs. Miller. “Oh, they are not my friends,” answered Daisy’s mamma, smiling shyly in her own fashion. “I never spoke to them.” “It’s an intimate friend of mine—Mr. Giovanelli,” said Daisy without a tremor in her clear little voice or a shadow on her brilliant little face. Mrs. Walker was silent a moment; she gave a rapid glance at Winterbourne. “I shall be glad to see Mr. Giovanelli,” she then said. “He’s an Italian,” Daisy pursued with the prettiest serenity. “He’s a great friend of mine; he’s the handsomest man in the world—except Mr. Winterbourne! He knows plenty of Italians, but he wants to know some Americans. He thinks ever so much of Americans. He’s tremendously clever. He’s perfectly lovely!” It was settled that this brilliant personage should be brought to Mrs. Walker’s party, and then Mrs. Miller prepared to take her leave. “I guess we’ll go back to the hotel,” she said. “You may go back to the hotel, Mother, but I’m going to take a walk,” said Daisy. “She’s going to walk with Mr. Giovanelli,” Randolph proclaimed. “I am going to the Pincio,” said Daisy, smiling. “Alone, my dear—at this hour?” Mrs. Walker asked. The afternoon was draw- ing to a close—it was the hour for the throng of carriages and of contemplative pedestrians. “I don’t think it’s safe, my dear,” said Mrs. Walker. “Neither do I,” subjoined Mrs. Miller. “You’ll get the fever, as sure as you live. Remember what Dr. Davis told you!” “Give her some before she goes,” said Randolph. The company had risen to its feet; Daisy, still showing her pretty teeth, bent over and kissed her hostess. “Mrs. Walker, you are too perfect,” she said. “I’m not going alone; I am going to meet a friend.” “Your friend won’t keep you from getting the fever,” Mrs. Miller observed. “Is it Mr. Giovanelli?” asked the hostess. Winterbourne was watching the young girl; at this question his attention quick- ened. She stood there, smiling and smoothing her bonnet ribbons; she glanced at Winterbourne. Then, while she glanced and smiled, she answered, without a shade of hesitation, “Mr. Giovanelli—the beautiful Giovanelli.” “My dear young friend,” said Mrs. Walker, taking her hand pleadingly, “don’t walk off to the Pincio at this hour to meet a beautiful Italian.”

Page | 117 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Well, he speaks English,” said Mrs. Miller. “Gracious me!” Daisy exclaimed, “I don’t to do anything improper. There’s an easy way to settle it.” She continued to glance at Winterbourne. “The Pincio is only a hundred yards distant; and if Mr. Winterbourne were as polite as he pretends, he would offer to walk with me!” Winterbourne’s politeness hastened to affirm itself, and the young girl gave him gracious leave to accompany her. They passed downstairs before her moth- er, and at the door Winterbourne perceived Mrs. Miller’s carriage drawn up, with the ornamental courier whose acquaintance he had made at Vevey seated within. “Goodbye, Eugenio!” cried Daisy; “I’m going to take a walk.” The distance from the Via Gregoriana to the beautiful garden at the other end of the Pincian Hill is, in fact, rapidly traversed. As the day was splendid, however, and the concourse of vehicles, walkers, and loungers numerous, the young Americans found their prog- ress much delayed. This fact was highly agreeable to Winterbourne, in spite of his consciousness of his singular situation. The slow-moving, idly gazing Roman crowd bestowed much attention upon the extremely pretty young foreign lady who was passing through it upon his arm; and he wondered what on earth had been in Daisy’s mind when she proposed to expose herself, unattended, to its apprecia- tion. His own mission, to her sense, apparently, was to consign her to the hands of Mr. Giovanelli; but Winterbourne, at once annoyed and gratified, resolved that he would do no such thing. “Why haven’t you been to see me?” asked Daisy. “You can’t get out of that.” “I have had the honor of telling you that I have only just stepped out of the train.” “You must have stayed in the train a good while after it stopped!” cried the young girl with her little laugh. “I suppose you were asleep. You have had time to go to see Mrs. Walker.” “I knew Mrs. Walker—” Winterbourne began to explain. “I know where you knew her. You knew her at Geneva. She told me so. Well, you knew me at Vevey. That’s just as good. So you ought to have come.” She asked him no other question than this; she began to prattle about her own affairs. “We’ve got splendid rooms at the hotel; Eugenio says they’re the best rooms in Rome. We are going to stay all winter, if we don’t die of the fever; and I guess we’ll stay then. It’s a great deal nicer than I thought; I thought it would be fearfully quiet; I was sure it would be awfully poky. I was sure we should be going round all the time with one of those dreadful old men that explain about the pictures and things. But we only had about a week of that, and now I’m enjoying myself. I know ever so many people, and they are all so charming. The society’s extremely select. There are all kinds—English, and Germans, and Italians. I think I like the English best. I like their style of conversation. But there are some lovely Americans. I never saw anything so hospitable. There’s something or other every day. There’s not much dancing; but I must say I never thought dancing was everything. I was always fond of conversation. I guess I shall have plenty at Mrs. Walker’s, her rooms are so

Page | 118 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) small.” When they had passed the gate of the Pincian Gardens, Miss Miller began to wonder where Mr. Giovanelli might be. “We had better go straight to that place in front,” she said, “where you look at the view.” “I certainly shall not help you to find him,” Winterbourne declared. “Then I shall find him without you,” cried Miss Daisy. “You certainly won’t leave me!” cried Winterbourne. She burst into her little laugh. “Are you afraid you’ll get lost—or run over? But there’s Giovanelli, leaning against that tree. He’s staring at the women in the car- riages: did you ever see anything so cool?” Winterbourne perceived at some distance a little man standing with folded arms nursing his cane. He had a handsome face, an artfully poised hat, a glass in one eye, and a nosegay in his buttonhole. Winterbourne looked at him a moment and then said, “Do you mean to speak to that man?” “Do I mean to speak to him? Why, you don’t suppose I mean to communicate by signs?” “Pray understand, then,” said Winterbourne, “that I intend to remain with you.” Daisy stopped and looked at him, without a sign of troubled consciousness in her face, with nothing but the presence of her charming eyes and her happy dim- ples. “Well, she’s a cool one!” thought the young man. “I don’t like the way you say that,” said Daisy. “It’s too imperious.” “I beg your pardon if I say it wrong. The main point is to give you an idea of my meaning.” The young girl looked at him more gravely, but with eyes that were prettier than ever. “I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do.” “I think you have made a mistake,” said Winterbourne. “You should sometimes listen to a gentleman—the right one.” Daisy began to laugh again. “I do nothing but listen to gentlemen!” she ex- claimed. “Tell me if Mr. Giovanelli is the right one?” The gentleman with the nosegay in his bosom had now perceived our two friends, and was approaching the young girl with obsequious rapidity. He bowed to Winterbourne as well as to the latter’s companion; he had a brilliant smile, an intelligent eye; Winterbourne thought him not a bad-looking fellow. But he never- theless said to Daisy, “No, he’s not the right one.” Daisy evidently had a natural talent for performing introductions; she mentioned the name of each of her companions to the other. She strolled alone with one of them on each side of her; Mr. Giovanelli, who spoke English very cleverly—Winterbourne afterward learned that he had practiced the idiom upon a great many American heir- esses—addressed her a great deal of very polite nonsense; he was extremely urbane, and the young American, who said nothing, reflected upon that profundity of Italian cleverness which enables people to appear more gracious in proportion as they are more acutely disappointed. Giovanelli, of course, had counted upon something more intimate; he had not bargained for a party of three. But he kept his temper in a man-

Page | 119 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) ner which suggested far-stretching intentions. Winterbourne flattered himself that he had taken his measure. “He is not a gentleman,” said the young American; “he is only a clever imitation of one. He is a music master, or a penny-a-liner, or a third- rate artist. D__n his good looks!” Mr. Giovanelli had certainly a very pretty face; but Winterbourne felt a superior indignation at his own lovely fellow countrywoman’s not knowing the difference between a spurious gentleman and a real one. Giovanelli chattered and jested and made himself wonderfully agreeable. It was true that, if he was an imitation, the imitation was brilliant. “Nevertheless,” Winterbourne said to himself, “a nice girl ought to know!” And then he came back to the question wheth- er this was, in fact, a nice girl. Would a nice girl, even allowing for her being a little American flirt, make a rendezvous with a presumably low-lived foreigner? The ren- dezvous in this case, indeed, had been in broad daylight and in the most crowded corner of Rome, but was it not impossible to regard the choice of these circumstanc- es as a proof of extreme ? Singular though it may seem, Winterbourne was vexed that the young girl, in joining her amoroso, should not appear more impatient of his own company, and he was vexed because of his inclination. It was impossible to regard her as a perfectly well-conducted young lady; she was wanting in a certain indispensable delicacy. It would therefore simplify matters greatly to be able to treat her as the object of one of those sentiments which are called by romancers “lawless passions.” That she should seem to wish to get rid of him would help him to think more lightly of her, and to be able to think more lightly of her would make her much less perplexing. But Daisy, on this occasion, continued to present herself as an in- scrutable combination of audacity and innocence. She had been walking some quarter of an hour, attended by her two cavaliers, and responding in a tone of very childish gaiety, as it seemed to Winterbourne, to the pretty speeches of Mr. Giovanelli, when a carriage that had detached itself from the revolving train drew up beside the path. At the same moment Winterbourne perceived that his friend Mrs. Walker—the lady whose house he had lately left— was seated in the vehicle and was beckoning to him. Leaving Miss Miller’s side, he hastened to obey her summons. Mrs. Walker was flushed; she wore an excited air. “It is really too dreadful,” she said. “That girl must not do this sort of thing. She must not walk here with you two men. Fifty people have noticed her.” Winterbourne raised his eyebrows. “I think it’s a pity to make too much fuss about it.” “It’s a pity to let the girl ruin herself!” “She is very innocent,” said Winterbourne. “She’s very crazy!” cried Mrs. Walker. “Did you ever see anything so imbecile as her mother? After you had all left me just now, I could not sit still for thinking of it. It seemed too pitiful, not even to attempt to save her. I ordered the carriage and put on my bonnet, and came here as quickly as possible. Thank Heaven I have found you!” “What do you propose to do with us?” asked Winterbourne, smiling. “To ask her to get in, to drive her about here for half an hour, so that the world may see she is not running absolutely wild, and then to take her safely home.”

Page | 120 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I don’t think it’s a very happy thought,” said Winterbourne; “but you can try.” Mrs. Walker tried. The young man went in pursuit of Miss Miller, who had simply nodded and smiled at his interlocutor in the carriage and had gone her way with her companion. Daisy, on learning that Mrs. Walker wished to speak to her, retraced her steps with a perfect good grace and with Mr. Giovanelli at her side. She declared that she was delighted to have a chance to present this gentleman to Mrs. Walker. She immediately achieved the introduction, and declared that she had never in her life seen anything so lovely as Mrs. Walker’s carriage rug. “I am glad you admire it,” said this lady, smiling sweetly. “Will you get in and let me put it over you?” “Oh, no, thank you,” said Daisy. “I shall admire it much more as I see you driv- ing round with it.” “Do get in and drive with me!” said Mrs. Walker. “That would be charming, but it’s so enchanting just as I am!” and Daisy gave a brilliant glance at the gentlemen on either side of her. “It may be enchanting, dear child, but it is not the custom here,” urged Mrs. Walker, leaning forward in her victoria, with her hands devoutly clasped. “Well, it ought to be, then!” said Daisy. “If I didn’t walk I should expire.” “You should walk with your mother, dear,” cried the lady from Geneva, losing patience. “With my mother dear!” exclaimed the young girl. Winterbourne saw that she scented interference. “My mother never walked ten steps in her life. And then, you know,” she added with a laugh, “I am more than five years old.” “You are old enough to be more reasonable. You are old enough, dear Miss Miller, to be talked about.” Daisy looked at Mrs. Walker, smiling intensely. “Talked about? What do you mean?” “Come into my carriage, and I will tell you.” Daisy turned her quickened glance again from one of the gentlemen beside her to the other. Mr. Giovanelli was bowing to and fro, rubbing down his gloves and laughing very agreeably; Winterbourne thought it a most unpleasant scene. “I don’t think I want to know what you mean,” said Daisy presently. “I don’t think I should like it.” Winterbourne wished that Mrs. Walker would tuck in her carriage rug and drive away, but this lady did not enjoy being defied, as she afterward told him. “Should you prefer being thought a very reckless girl?” she demanded. “Gracious!” exclaimed Daisy. She looked again at Mr. Giovanelli, then she turned to Winterbourne. There was a little pink flush in her cheek; she was tremen- dously pretty. “Does Mr. Winterbourne think,” she asked slowly, smiling, throwing back her head, and glancing at him from head to foot, “that, to save my reputation, I ought to get into the carriage?” Winterbourne colored; for an instant he hesitated greatly. It seemed so strange to hear her speak that way of her “reputation.” But he himself, in fact, must speak

Page | 121 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) in accordance with gallantry. The finest gallantry, here, was simply to tell her the truth; and the truth, for Winterbourne, as the few indications I have been able to give have made him known to the reader, was that Daisy Miller should take Mrs. Walker’s advice. He looked at her exquisite prettiness, and then he said, very gen- tly, “I think you should get into the carriage.” Daisy gave a violent laugh. “I never heard anything so stiff! If this is improper, Mrs. Walker,” she pursued, “then I am all improper, and you must give me up. Goodbye; I hope you’ll have a lovely ride!” and, with Mr. Giovanelli, who made a triumphantly obsequious salute, she turned away. Mrs. Walker sat looking after her, and there were tears in Mrs. Walker’s eyes. “Get in here, sir,” she said to Winterbourne, indicating the place beside her. The young man answered that he felt bound to accompany Miss Miller, whereupon Mrs. Walker declared that if he refused her this favor she would never speak to him again. She was evidently in earnest. Winterbourne overtook Daisy and her companion, and, offering the young girl his hand, told her that Mrs. Walker had made an imperious claim upon his society. He expected that in answer she would say something rather free, something to commit herself still further to that “reck- lessness” from which Mrs. Walker had so charitably endeavored to dissuade her. But she only shook his hand, hardly looking at him, while Mr. Giovanelli bade him farewell with a too emphatic flourish of the hat. Winterbourne was not in the best possible humor as he took his seat in Mrs. Walker’s victoria. “That was not clever of you,” he said candidly, while the vehicle mingled again with the throng of carriages. “In such a case,” his companion answered, “I don’t wish to be clever; I wish to be EARNEST!” “Well, your earnestness has only offended her and put her off.” “It has happened very well,” said Mrs. Walker. “If she is so perfectly determined to compromise herself, the sooner one knows it the better; one can act accordingly.” “I suspect she meant no harm,” Winterbourne rejoined. “So I thought a month ago. But she has been going too far.” “What has she been doing?” “Everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up; sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all the evening with the same partners; receiving visits at eleven o’clock at night. Her mother goes away when visitors come.” “But her brother,” said Winterbourne, laughing, “sits up till midnight.” “He must be edified by what he sees. I’m told that at their hotel everyone is talking about her, and that a smile goes round among all the servants when a gen- tleman comes and asks for Miss Miller.” “The servants be hanged!” said Winterbourne angrily. “The poor girl’s only fault,” he presently added, “is that she is very uncultivated.” “She is naturally indelicate,” Mrs. Walker declared. “Take that example this morning. How long had you known her at Vevey?” “A couple of days.”

Page | 122 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Fancy, then, her making it a personal matter that you should have left the place!” Winterbourne was silent for some moments; then he said, “I suspect, Mrs. Walker, that you and I have lived too long at Geneva!” And he added a request that she should inform him with what particular design she had made him enter her carriage. “I wished to beg you to cease your relations with Miss Miller—not to flirt with her—to give her no further opportunity to expose herself—to let her alone, in short.” “I’m afraid I can’t do that,” said Winterbourne. “I like her extremely.” “All the more reason that you shouldn’t help her to make a scandal.” “There shall be nothing scandalous in my attentions to her.” “There certainly will be in the way she takes them. But I have said what I had on my conscience,” Mrs. Walker pursued. “If you wish to rejoin the young lady I will put you down. Here, by the way, you have a chance.” The carriage was traversing that part of the Pincian Garden that overhangs the wall of Rome and overlooks the beautiful Villa Borghese. It is bordered by a large parapet, near which there are several seats. One of the seats at a distance was occupied by a gentleman and a lady, toward whom Mrs. Walker gave a toss of her head. At the same moment these persons rose and walked toward the parapet. Winterbourne had asked the coachman to stop; he now descended from the car- riage. His companion looked at him a moment in silence; then, while he raised his hat, she drove majestically away. Winterbourne stood there; he had turned his eyes toward Daisy and her cavalier. They evidently saw no one; they were too deeply occupied with each other. When they reached the low garden wall, they stood a moment looking off at the great flat-topped pine clusters of the Villa Borghese; then Giovanelli seated himself, familiarly, upon the broad ledge of the wall. The western sun in the opposite sky sent out a brilliant shaft through a couple of cloud bars, whereupon Daisy’s companion took her parasol out of her hands and opened it. She came a little nearer, and he held the parasol over her; then, still holding it, he let it rest upon her shoulder, so that both of their heads were hidden from Winterbourne. This young man lingered a moment, then he began to walk. But he walked—not toward the couple with the parasol; toward the residence of his aunt, Mrs. Costello. He flattered himself on the following day that there was no smiling among the servants when he, at least, asked for Mrs. Miller at her hotel. This lady and her daughter, however, were not at home; and on the next day after, repeating his visit, Winterbourne again had the misfortune not to find them. Mrs. Walker’s party took place on the evening of the third day, and, in spite of the frigidity of his last inter- view with the hostess, Winterbourne was among the guests. Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad, make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society, and she had on this occasion collected sever- al specimens of her diversely born fellow mortals to serve, as it were, as . When Winterbourne arrived, Daisy Miller was not there, but in a few moments he

Page | 123 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) saw her mother come in alone, very shyly and ruefully. Mrs. Miller’s hair above her -looking temples was more frizzled than ever. As she approached Mrs. Walker, Winterbourne also drew near. “You see, I’ve come all alone,” said poor Mrs. Miller. “I’m so frightened; I don’t know what to do. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to a party alone, especially in this country. I wanted to bring Randolph or Eugenio, or someone, but Daisy just pushed me off by myself. I ain’t used to going round alone.” “And does not your daughter intend to favor us with her society?” demanded Mrs. Walker impressively. “Well, Daisy’s all dressed,” said Mrs. Miller with that accent of the dispassion- ate, if not of the philosophic, historian with which she always recorded the current incidents of her daughter’s career. “She got dressed on purpose before dinner. But she’s got a friend of hers there; that gentleman—the Italian—that she wanted to bring. They’ve got going at the ; it seems as if they couldn’t leave off. Mr. Giovanelli sings splendidly. But I guess they’ll come before very long,” concluded Mrs. Miller hopefully. “I’m sorry she should come in that way,” said Mrs. Walker. “Well, I told her that there was no use in her getting dressed before dinner if she was going to wait three hours,” responded Daisy’s mamma. “I didn’t see the use of her putting on such a dress as that to sit round with Mr. Giovanelli.” “This is most horrible!” said Mrs. Walker, turning away and addressing herself to Winterbourne. “Elle s’affiche. It’s her revenge for my having ventured to remon- strate with her. When she comes, I shall not speak to her.” Daisy came after eleven o’clock; but she was not, on such an occasion, a young lady to wait to be spoken to. She rustled forward in radiant loveliness, smiling and chattering, carrying a large bouquet, and attended by Mr. Giovanelli. Everyone stopped talking and turned and looked at her. She came straight to Mrs. Walker. “I’m afraid you thought I never was coming, so I sent mother off to tell you. I want- ed to make Mr. Giovanelli practice some things before he came; you know he sings beautifully, and I want you to ask him to sing. This is Mr. Giovanelli; you know I introduced him to you; he’s got the most lovely voice, and he knows the most charming set of songs. I made him go over them this evening on purpose; we had the greatest time at the hotel.” Of all this Daisy delivered herself with the sweetest, brightest audibleness, looking now at her hostess and now round the room, while she gave a series of little pats, round her shoulders, to the edges of her dress. “Is there anyone I know?” she asked. “I think every one knows you!” said Mrs. Walker pregnantly, and she gave a very cursory greeting to Mr. Giovanelli. This gentleman bore himself gallantly. He smiled and bowed and showed his white teeth; he curled his mustaches and rolled his eyes and performed all the proper functions of a handsome Italian at an eve- ning party. He sang very prettily half a dozen songs, though Mrs. Walker afterward declared that she had been quite unable to find out who asked him. It was appar- ently not Daisy who had given him his orders. Daisy sat at a distance from the

Page | 124 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) piano, and though she had publicly, as it were, professed a high admiration for his singing, talked, not inaudibly, while it was going on. “It’s a pity these rooms are so small; we can’t dance,” she said to Winterbourne, as if she had seen him five minutes before. “I am not sorry we can’t dance,” Winterbourne answered; “I don’t dance.” “Of course you don’t dance; you’re too stiff,” said Miss Daisy. “I hope you en- joyed your drive with Mrs. Walker!” “No. I didn’t enjoy it; I preferred walking with you.” “We paired off: that was much better,” said Daisy. “But did you ever hear any- thing so cool as Mrs. Walker’s wanting me to get into her carriage and drop poor Mr. Giovanelli, and under the pretext that it was proper? People have different ideas! It would have been most unkind; he had been talking about that walk for ten days.” “He should not have talked about it at all,” said Winterbourne; “he would never have proposed to a young lady of this country to walk about the streets with him.” “About the streets?” cried Daisy with her pretty stare. “Where, then, would he have proposed to her to walk? The Pincio is not the streets, either; and I, thank goodness, am not a young lady of this country. The young ladies of this country have a dreadfully poky time of it, so far as I can learn; I don’t see why I should change my habits for THEM.” “I am afraid your habits are those of a flirt,” said Winterbourne gravely. “Of course they are,” she cried, giving him her little smiling stare again. “I’m a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not? But I suppose you will tell me now that I am not a nice girl.” “You’re a very nice girl; but I wish you would flirt with me, and me only,” said Winterbourne. “Ah! thank you—thank you very much; you are the last man I should think of flirting with. As I have had the pleasure of informing you, you are too stiff.” “You say that too often,” said Winterbourne. Daisy gave a delighted laugh. “If I could have the sweet hope of making you angry, I should say it again.” “Don’t do that; when I am angry I’m stiffer than ever. But if you won’t flirt with me, do cease, at least, to flirt with your friend at the piano; they don’t understand that sort of thing here.” “I thought they understood nothing else!” exclaimed Daisy. “Not in young unmarried women.” “It seems to me much more proper in young unmarried women than in old married ones,” Daisy declared. “Well,” said Winterbourne, “when you deal with natives you must go by the custom of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom; it doesn’t exist here. So when you show yourself in public with Mr. Giovanelli, and without your mother—” “Gracious! poor Mother!” interposed Daisy. “Though you may be flirting, Mr. Giovanelli is not; he means something else.”

Page | 125 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“He isn’t preaching, at any rate,” said Daisy with vivacity. “And if you want very much to know, we are neither of us flirting; we are too good friends for that: we are very intimate friends.” “Ah!” rejoined Winterbourne, “if you are in love with each other, it is another affair.” She had allowed him up to this point to talk so frankly that he had no expec- tation of shocking her by this ejaculation; but she immediately got up, blushing visibly, and leaving him to exclaim mentally that little American flirts were the queerest creatures in the world. “Mr. Giovanelli, at least,” she said, giving her in- terlocutor a single glance, “never says such very disagreeable things to me.” Winterbourne was bewildered; he stood, staring. Mr. Giovanelli had finished singing. He left the piano and came over to Daisy. “Won’t you come into the other room and have some tea?” he asked, bending before her with his ornamental smile. Daisy turned to Winterbourne, beginning to smile again. He was still more perplexed, for this inconsequent smile made nothing clear, though it seemed to prove, indeed, that she had a sweetness and softness that reverted instinctively to the pardon of offenses. “It has never occurred to Mr. Winterbourne to offer me any tea,” she said with her little tormenting manner. “I have offered you advice,” Winterbourne rejoined. “I prefer weak tea!” cried Daisy, and she went off with the brilliant Giovanelli. She sat with him in the adjoining room, in the embrasure of the window, for the rest of the evening. There was an interesting at the piano, but neither of these young people gave heed to it. When Daisy came to take leave of Mrs. Walk- er, this lady conscientiously repaired the weakness of which she had been guilty at the moment of the young girl’s arrival. She turned her back straight upon Miss Miller and left her to depart with what grace she might. Winterbourne was stand- ing near the door; he saw it all. Daisy turned very pale and looked at her mother, but Mrs. Miller was humbly unconscious of any violation of the usual social forms. She appeared, indeed, to have felt an incongruous impulse to draw attention to her own striking observance of them. “Good night, Mrs. Walker,” she said; “we’ve had a beautiful evening. You see, if I let Daisy come to parties without me, I don’t want her to go away without me.” Daisy turned away, looking with a pale, grave face at the circle near the door; Winterbourne saw that, for the first moment, she was too much shocked and puzzled even for indignation. He on his side was greatly touched. “That was very cruel,” he said to Mrs. Walker. “She never enters my drawing room again!” replied his hostess. Since Winterbourne was not to meet her in Mrs. Walker’s drawing room, he went as often as possible to Mrs. Miller’s hotel. The ladies were rarely at home, but when he found them, the devoted Giovanelli was always present. Very often the brilliant little Roman was in the drawing room with Daisy alone, Mrs. Miller being apparently constantly of the opinion that discretion is the better part of sur- veillance. Winterbourne noted, at first with surprise, that Daisy on these occasions was never embarrassed or annoyed by his own entrance; but he very presently

Page | 126 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) began to feel that she had no more surprises for him; the unexpected in her behav- ior was the only thing to expect. She showed no displeasure at her tete-a-tete with Giovanelli being interrupted; she could chatter as freshly and freely with two gen- tlemen as with one; there was always, in her conversation, the same odd mixture of audacity and puerility. Winterbourne remarked to himself that if she was seri- ously interested in Giovanelli, it was very singular that she should not take more trouble to preserve the sanctity of their interviews; and he liked her the more for her innocent-looking indifference and her apparently inexhaustible good humor. He could hardly have said why, but she seemed to him a girl who would never be jealous. At the risk of exciting a somewhat derisive smile on the reader’s part, I may affirm that with regard to the women who had hitherto interested him, it very often seemed to Winterbourne among the possibilities that, given certain contingencies, he should be afraid—literally afraid—of these ladies; he had a pleasant sense that he should never be afraid of Daisy Miller. It must be added that this sentiment was not altogether flattering to Daisy; it was part of his conviction, or rather of his ap- prehension, that she would prove a very light young person. But she was evidently very much interested in Giovanelli. She looked at him whenever he spoke; she was perpetually telling him to do this and to do that; she was constantly “chaffing” and abusing him. She appeared completely to have for- gotten that Winterbourne had said anything to displease her at Mrs. Walker’s little party. One Sunday afternoon, having gone to St. Peter’s with his aunt, Winterbourne perceived Daisy strolling about the great church in company with the inevitable Giovanelli. Presently he pointed out the young girl and her cavalier to Mrs. Costello. This lady looked at them a moment through her eyeglass, and then she said: “That’s what makes you so pensive in these days, eh?” “I had not the least idea I was pensive,” said the young man. “You are very much preoccupied; you are thinking of something.” “And what is it,” he asked, “that you accuse me of thinking of?” “Of that young lady’s—Miss Baker’s, Miss Chandler’s—what’s her name?—Miss Miller’s intrigue with that little barber’s block.” “Do you call it an intrigue,” Winterbourne asked—“an affair that goes on with such peculiar publicity?” “That’s their folly,” said Mrs. Costello; “it’s not their merit.” “No,” rejoined Winterbourne, with something of that pensiveness to which his aunt had alluded. “I don’t believe that there is anything to be called an intrigue.” “I have heard a dozen people speak of it; they say she is quite carried away by him.” “They are certainly very intimate,” said Winterbourne. Mrs. Costello inspected the young couple again with her optical instrument. “He is very handsome. One easily sees how it is. She thinks him the most elegant man in the world, the finest gentleman. She has never seen anything like him; he is better, even, than the courier. It was the courier probably who introduced him; and if he succeeds in marrying the young lady, the courier will come in for a magnificent commission.”

Page | 127 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I don’t believe she thinks of marrying him,” said Winterbourne, “and I don’t believe he hopes to marry her.” “You may be very sure she thinks of nothing. She goes on from day to day, from hour to hour, as they did in the Golden Age. I can imagine nothing more vulgar. And at the same time,” added Mrs. Costello, “depend upon it that she may tell you any moment that she is ‘engaged.’” “I think that is more than Giovanelli expects,” said Winterbourne. “Who is Giovanelli?” “The little Italian. I have asked questions about him and learned something. He is apparently a perfectly respectable little man. I believe he is, in a small way, a cavaliere avvocato. But he doesn’t move in what are called the first circles. I think it is really not absolutely impossible that the courier introduced him. He is evident- ly immensely charmed with Miss Miller. If she thinks him the finest gentleman in the world, he, on his side, has never found himself in personal contact with such splendor, such opulence, such expensiveness as this young lady’s. And then she must seem to him wonderfully pretty and interesting. I rather doubt that he dreams of marrying her. That must appear to him too impossible a piece of luck. He has nothing but his handsome face to offer, and there is a substantial Mr. Miller in that mysterious land of dollars. Giovanelli knows that he hasn’t a title to offer. If he were only a count or a marchese! He must wonder at his luck, at the way they have taken him up.” “He accounts for it by his handsome face and thinks Miss Miller a young lady qui se passe ses fantaisies!” said Mrs. Costello. “It is very true,” Winterbourne pursued, “that Daisy and her mamma have not yet risen to that stage of—what shall I call it?—of culture at which the idea of catch- ing a count or a marchese begins. I believe that they are intellectually incapable of that conception.” “Ah! but the avvocato can’t believe it,” said Mrs. Costello. Of the observation excited by Daisy’s “intrigue,” Winterbourne gathered that day at St. Peter’s sufficient evidence. A dozen of the American colonists in Rome came to talk with Mrs. Costello, who sat on a little portable stool at the base of one of the great pilasters. The vesper service was going forward in splendid chants and organ tones in the adjacent choir, and meanwhile, between Mrs. Costello and her friends, there was a great deal said about poor little Miss Miller’s going really “too far.” Winterbourne was not pleased with what he heard, but when, coming out upon the great steps of the church, he saw Daisy, who had emerged before him, get into an open cab with her accomplice and roll away through the cynical streets of Rome, he could not deny to himself that she was going very far indeed. He felt very sorry for her—not exactly that he believed that she had completely lost her head, but because it was painful to hear so much that was pretty, and undefend- ed, and natural assigned to a vulgar place among the categories of disorder. He made an attempt after this to give a hint to Mrs. Miller. He met one day in the Corso a friend, a tourist like himself, who had just come out of the Doria Palace,

Page | 128 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) where he had been walking through the beautiful gallery. His friend talked for a moment about the superb portrait of Innocent X by Velasquez which hangs in one of the cabinets of the palace, and then said, “And in the same cabinet, by the way, I had the pleasure of contemplating a picture of a different kind—that pretty American girl whom you pointed out to me last week.” In answer to Win- terbourne’s inquiries, his friend narrated that the pretty American girl—prettier than ever—was seated with a companion in the secluded nook in which the great papal portrait was enshrined. “Who was her companion?” asked Winterbourne. “A little Italian with a bouquet in his buttonhole. The girl is delightfully pretty, but I thought I understood from you the other day that she was a young lady du meilleur monde.” “So she is!” answered Winterbourne; and having assured himself that his infor- mant had seen Daisy and her companion but five minutes before, he jumped into a cab and went to call on Mrs. Miller. She was at home; but she apologized to him for receiving him in Daisy’s absence. “She’s gone out somewhere with Mr. Giovanelli,” said Mrs. Miller. “She’s al- ways going round with Mr. Giovanelli.” “I have noticed that they are very intimate,” Winterbourne observed. “Oh, it seems as if they couldn’t live without each other!” said Mrs. Miller. “Well, he’s a real gentleman, anyhow. I keep telling Daisy she’s engaged!” “And what does Daisy say?” “Oh, she says she isn’t engaged. But she might as well be!” this impartial parent resumed; “she goes on as if she was. But I’ve made Mr. Giovanelli promise to tell me, if SHE doesn’t. I should want to write to Mr. Miller about it—shouldn’t you?” Winterbourne replied that he certainly should; and the state of mind of Daisy’s mamma struck him as so unprecedented in the annals of parental vigilance that he gave up as utterly irrelevant the attempt to place her upon her guard. After this Daisy was never at home, and Winterbourne ceased to meet her at the houses of their common acquaintances, because, as he perceived, these shrewd people had quite made up their minds that she was going too far. They ceased to invite her; and they intimated that they desired to express to observant Europeans the great truth that, though Miss Daisy Miller was a young American lady, her behavior was not representative—was regarded by her compatriots as abnormal. Winterbourne wondered how she felt about all the cold shoulders that were turned toward her, and sometimes it annoyed him to suspect that she did not feel at all. He said to himself that she was too light and childish, too uncultivated and unreason- ing, too provincial, to have reflected upon her ostracism, or even to have perceived it. Then at other moments he believed that she carried about in her elegant and irresponsible little organism a defiant, passionate, perfectly observant conscious- ness of the impression she produced. He asked himself whether Daisy’s defiance came from the consciousness of innocence, or from her being, essentially, a young person of the reckless class. It must be admitted that holding one’s self to a belief

Page | 129 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) in Daisy’s “innocence” came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter of fine-spun gallantry. As I have already had occasion to relate, he was angry at find- ing himself reduced to chopping logic about this young lady; he was vexed at his want of instinctive certitude as to how far her eccentricities were generic, national, and how far they were personal. From either view of them he had somehow missed her, and now it was too late. She was “carried away” by Mr. Giovanelli. A few days after his brief interview with her mother, he encountered her in that beautiful abode of flowering desolation known as the Palace of the Caesars. The early Roman spring had filled the air with bloom and perfume, and the rugged sur- face of the Palatine was muffled with tender verdure. Daisy was strolling along the top of one of those great mounds of ruin that are embanked with mossy marble and paved with monumental inscriptions. It seemed to him that Rome had never been so lovely as just then. He stood, looking off at the enchanting harmony of line and color that remotely encircles the city, inhaling the softly humid odors, and feeling the freshness of the year and the antiquity of the place reaffirm themselves in mys- terious interfusion. It seemed to him also that Daisy had never looked so pretty, but this had been an observation of his whenever he met her. Giovanelli was at her side, and Giovanelli, too, wore an aspect of even unwonted brilliancy. “Well,” said Daisy, “I should think you would be lonesome!” “Lonesome?” asked Winterbourne. “You are always going round . Can’t you get anyone to walk with you?” “I am not so fortunate,” said Winterbourne, “as your companion.” Giovanelli, from the first, had treated Winterbourne with distinguished polite- ness. He listened with a deferential air to his remarks; he laughed punctiliously at his pleasantries; he seemed disposed to testify to his belief that Winterbourne was a superior young man. He carried himself in no degree like a jealous wooer; he had obviously a great deal of tact; he had no objection to your expecting a little humility of him. It even seemed to Winterbourne at times that Giovanelli would find a certain mental relief in being able to have a private understanding with him—to say to him, as an intelligent man, that, bless you, HE knew how extraordi- nary was this young lady, and didn’t flatter himself with delusive—or at least TOO delusive—hopes of matrimony and dollars. On this occasion he strolled away from his companion to pluck a sprig of almond blossom, which he carefully arranged in his buttonhole. “I know why you say that,” said Daisy, watching Giovanelli. “Because you think I go round too much with HIM.” And she nodded at her attendant. “Every one thinks so—if you care to know,” said Winterbourne. “Of course I care to know!” Daisy exclaimed seriously. “But I don’t believe it. They are only pretending to be shocked. They don’t really care a straw what I do. Besides, I don’t go round so much.” “I think you will find they do care. They will show it disagreeably.” Daisy looked at him a moment. “How disagreeably?” “Haven’t you noticed anything?” Winterbourne asked.

Page | 130 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I have noticed you. But I noticed you were as stiff as an umbrella the first time I saw you.” “You will find I am not so stiff as several others,” said Winterbourne, smiling. “How shall I find it?” “By going to see the others.” “What will they do to me?” “They will give you the cold shoulder. Do you know what that means?” Daisy was looking at him intently; she began to color. “Do you mean as Mrs. Walker did the other night?” “Exactly!” said Winterbourne. She looked away at Giovanelli, who was decorating himself with his almond blossom. Then looking back at Winterbourne, “I shouldn’t think you would let peo- ple be so unkind!” she said. “How can I help it?” he asked. “I should think you would say something.” “I do say something;” and he paused a moment. “I say that your mother tells me that she believes you are engaged.” “Well, she does,” said Daisy very simply. Winterbourne began to laugh. “And does Randolph believe it?” he asked. “I guess Randolph doesn’t believe anything,” said Daisy. Randolph’s skepti- cism excited Winterbourne to further hilarity, and he observed that Giovanelli was coming back to them. Daisy, observing it too, addressed herself again to her coun- tryman. “Since you have mentioned it,” she said, “I AM engaged.” Winterbourne looked at her; he had stopped laughing. “You don’t believe!” she added. He was silent a moment; and then, “Yes, I believe it,” he said. “Oh, no, you don’t!” she answered. “Well, then—I am not!” The young girl and her cicerone were on their way to the gate of the enclosure, so that Winterbourne, who had but lately entered, presently took leave of them. A week afterward he went to dine at a beautiful villa on the Caelian Hill, and, on arriving, dismissed his hired vehicle. The evening was charming, and he prom- ised himself the satisfaction of walking home beneath the Arch of Constantine and past the vaguely lighted monuments of the Forum. There was a waning moon in the sky, and her radiance was not brilliant, but she was veiled in a thin cloud cur- tain which seemed to diffuse and equalize it. When, on his return from the villa (it was eleven o’clock), Winterbourne approached the dusky circle of the Colosse- um, it recurred to him, as a lover of the picturesque, that the interior, in the pale moonshine, would be well worth a glance. He turned aside and walked to one of the empty arches, near which, as he observed, an open carriage—one of the little Roman streetcabs—was stationed. Then he passed in, among the cavernous shad- ows of the great structure, and emerged upon the clear and silent arena. The place had never seemed to him more impressive. One-half of the gigantic circus was in deep shade, the other was sleeping in the luminous dusk. As he stood there he be-

Page | 131 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) gan to murmur Byron’s famous lines, out of “Manfred,” but before he had finished his quotation he remembered that if nocturnal meditations in the Colosseum are recommended by the poets, they are deprecated by the doctors. The historic atmo- sphere was there, certainly; but the historic atmosphere, scientifically considered, was no better than a villainous miasma. Winterbourne walked to the middle of the arena, to take a more general glance, intending thereafter to make a hasty retreat. The great cross in the center was covered with shadow; it was only as he drew near it that he made it out distinctly. Then he saw that two persons were stationed upon the low steps which formed its base. One of these was a woman, seated; her com- panion was standing in front of her. Presently the sound of the woman’s voice came to him distinctly in the warm night air. “Well, he looks at us as one of the old lions or tigers may have looked at the Christian martyrs!” These were the words he heard, in the familiar accent of Miss Daisy Miller. “Let us hope he is not very hungry,” responded the ingenious Giovanelli. “He will have to take me first; you will serve for dessert!” Winterbourne stopped, with a sort of horror, and, it must be added, with a sort of relief. It was as if a sudden illumination had been flashed upon the am- biguity of Daisy’s behavior, and the riddle had become easy to read. She was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect. He stood there, looking at her—looking at her companion and not reflecting that though he saw them vaguely, he himself must have been more brightly visible. He felt an- gry with himself that he had bothered so much about the right way of regarding Miss Daisy Miller. Then, as he was going to advance again, he checked himself, not from the fear that he was doing her injustice, but from a sense of the danger of appearing unbecomingly exhilarated by this sudden revulsion from cautious criticism. He turned away toward the entrance of the place, but, as he did so, he heard Daisy speak again. “Why, it was Mr. Winterbourne! He saw me, and he cuts me!” What a clever little reprobate she was, and how smartly she played at injured innocence! But he wouldn’t cut her. Winterbourne came forward again and went toward the great cross. Daisy had got up; Giovanelli lifted his hat. Winterbourne had now begun to think simply of the craziness, from a sanitary point of view, of a delicate young girl lounging away the evening in this nest of malaria. What if she WERE a clever little reprobate? that was no reason for her dying of the perniciosa. “How long have you been here?” he asked almost brutally. Daisy, lovely in the flattering moonlight, looked at him a moment. Then—“All the evening,” she answered, gently. “I never saw anything so pretty.” “I am afraid,” said Winterbourne, “that you will not think Roman fever very pretty. This is the way people catch it. I wonder,” he added, turning to Giovanelli, “that you, a native Roman, should countenance such a terrible indiscretion.” “Ah,” said the handsome native, “for myself I am not afraid.”

Page | 132 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Neither am I—for you! I am speaking for this young lady.” Giovanelli lifted his well-shaped eyebrows and showed his brilliant teeth. But he took Winterbourne’s rebuke with docility. “I told the signorina it was a grave indiscretion, but when was the signorina ever prudent?” “I never was sick, and I don’t mean to be!” the signorina declared. “I don’t look like much, but I’m healthy! I was bound to see the Colosseum by moonlight; I shouldn’t have wanted to go home without that; and we have had the most beau- tiful time, haven’t we, Mr. Giovanelli? If there has been any danger, Eugenio can give me some pills. He has got some splendid pills.” “I should advise you,” said Winterbourne, “to drive home as fast as possible and take one!” “What you say is very wise,” Giovanelli rejoined. “I will go and make sure the carriage is at hand.” And he went forward rapidly. Daisy followed with Winterbourne. He kept looking at her; she seemed not in the least embarrassed. Winterbourne said nothing; Daisy chattered about the beauty of the place. “Well, I HAVE seen the Colosseum by moonlight!” she ex- claimed. “That’s one good thing.” Then, noticing Winterbourne’s silence, she asked him why he didn’t speak. He made no answer; he only began to laugh. They passed under one of the dark archways; Giovanelli was in front with the carriage. Here Daisy stopped a moment, looking at the young American. “DID you believe I was engaged, the other day?” she asked. “It doesn’t matter what I believed the other day,” said Winterbourne, still laughing. “Well, what do you believe now?” “I believe that it makes very little difference whether you are engaged or not!” He felt the young girl’s pretty eyes fixed upon him through the thick gloom of the archway; she was apparently going to answer. But Giovanelli hurried her for- ward. “Quick! quick!” he said; “if we get in by midnight we are quite safe.” Daisy took her seat in the carriage, and the fortunate Italian placed himself beside her. “Don’t forget Eugenio’s pills!” said Winterbourne as he lifted his hat. “I don’t care,” said Daisy in a little strange tone, “whether I have Roman fever or not!” Upon this the cab driver cracked his whip, and they rolled away over the desultory patches of the antique pavement. Winterbourne, to do him justice, as it were, mentioned to no one that he had encountered Miss Miller, at midnight, in the Colosseum with a gentleman; but nevertheless, a couple of days later, the fact of her having been there under these circumstances was known to every member of the little American circle, and com- mented accordingly. Winterbourne reflected that they had of course known it at the hotel, and that, after Daisy’s return, there had been an exchange of remarks between the porter and the cab driver. But the young man was conscious, at the same moment, that it had ceased to be a matter of serious regret to him that the little American flirt should be “talked about” by low-minded menials. These peo- ple, a day or two later, had serious information to give: the little American flirt was

Page | 133 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) alarmingly ill. Winterbourne, when the rumor came to him, immediately went to the hotel for more news. He found that two or three charitable friends had preced- ed him, and that they were being entertained in Mrs. Miller’s salon by Randolph. “It’s going round at night,” said Randolph—“that’s what made her sick. She’s always going round at night. I shouldn’t think she’d want to, it’s so plaguy dark. You can’t see anything here at night, except when there’s a moon. In America there’s al- ways a moon!” Mrs. Miller was invisible; she was now, at least, giving her daughter the advantage of her society. It was evident that Daisy was dangerously ill. Winterbourne went often to ask for news of her, and once he saw Mrs. Miller, who, though deeply alarmed, was, rather to his surprise, perfectly composed, and, as it appeared, a most efficient and judicious nurse. She talked a good deal about Dr. Davis, but Winterbourne paid her the compliment of saying to himself that she was not, after all, such a monstrous goose. “Daisy spoke of you the other day,” she said to him. “Half the time she doesn’t know what she’s saying, but that time I think she did. She gave me a message she told me to tell you. She told me to tell you that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian. I am sure I am very glad; Mr. Giovanelli hasn’t been near us since she was taken ill. I thought he was so much of a gentleman; but I don’t call that very polite! A lady told me that he was afraid I was angry with him for taking Daisy round at night. Well, so I am, but I suppose he knows I’m a lady. I would scorn to scold him. Anyway, she says she’s not engaged. I don’t know why she wanted you to know, but she said to me three times, ‘Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne.’ And then she told me to ask if you remembered the time you went to that castle in Switzerland. But I said I wouldn’t give any such messages as that. Only, if she is not engaged, I’m sure I’m glad to know it.” But, as Winterbourne had said, it mattered very little. A week after this, the poor girl died; it had been a terrible case of the fever. Daisy’s grave was in the little Protestant cemetery, in an angle of the wall of imperial Rome, beneath the cypress- es and the thick spring flowers. Winterbourne stood there beside it, with a number of other mourners, a number larger than the scandal excited by the young lady’s career would have led you to expect. Near him stood Giovanelli, who came nearer still before Winterbourne turned away. Giovanelli was very pale: on this occasion he had no flower in his buttonhole; he seemed to wish to say something. At last he said, “She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable;” and then he added in a moment, “and she was the most innocent.” Winterbourne looked at him and presently repeated his words, “And the most innocent?” “The most innocent!” Winterbourne felt sore and angry. “Why the devil,” he asked, “did you take her to that fatal place?” Mr. Giovanelli’s urbanity was apparently imperturbable. He looked on the ground a moment, and then he said, “For myself I had no fear; and she wanted to go.” “That was no reason!” Winterbourne declared.

Page | 134 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

The subtle Roman again dropped his eyes. “If she had lived, I should have got nothing. She would never have married me, I am sure.” “She would never have married you?” “For a moment I hoped so. But no. I am sure.” Winterbourne listened to him: he stood staring at the raw protuberance among the April daisies. When he turned away again, Mr. Giovanelli, with his light, slow step, had retired. Winterbourne almost immediately left Rome; but the following summer he again met his aunt, Mrs. Costello at Vevey. Mrs. Costello was fond of Vevey. In the interval Winterbourne had often thought of Daisy Miller and her mystifying manners. One day he spoke of her to his aunt—said it was on his conscience that he had done her injustice. “I am sure I don’t know,” said Mrs. Costello. “How did your injustice affect her?” “She sent me a message before her death which I didn’t understand at the time; but I have understood it since. She would have appreciated one’s esteem.” “Is that a modest way,” asked Mrs. Costello, “of saying that she would have reciprocated one’s affection?” Winterbourne offered no answer to this question; but he presently said, “You were right in that remark that you made last summer. I was booked to make a mis- take. I have lived too long in foreign parts.” Nevertheless, he went back to live at Geneva, whence there continue to come the most contradictory accounts of his motives of sojourn: a report that he is “studying” hard—an intimation that he is much interested in a very clever foreign lady.

2.6.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. What features of Realism do you see in Daisy Miller? 2. How does James use point of view in the novella? For example, who is the narrator in the story? What effect does the narrative voice have in conveying the story as gossip? 3. Is Daisy Miller truly an innocent? Is she a victim of a cynical, hypocritical culture? Or does she bring about her own fate? 4. How is Winterbourne, also an American abroad, different from Daisy? Through what lens does he view Daisy? 5. Why does Winterbourne obsess over whether Daisy is “innocent” or not? What is Winterbourne seeking in Daisy? 6. What does the expression “Roman fever” mean in the context of the story? While the expression refers literally to malaria, what other figurative associations might the expression convey?

Page | 135 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.7 Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 - 1909)

Born in 1849 in the coastal town of South Berwick, Maine, Sarah Orne Jewett grew up accompanying her father, a doctor, on rounds across the rural countryside. She was educat- ed at South Berwick Academy, graduating in 1866. In spite of obstacles she would have faced as a woman seeking a medical education in the nineteenth century, Jewett harbored ambitions of becoming a doctor herself, but ill health pre- vented her from moving forward with the plan. Instead, she continued to educate herself by reading widely in her father’s private library, Image 2.5 | Sarah Orne Jewett, 1894 eventually deciding upon a life of writing. She Publisher | Houghton Mifflin published a short story at age nineteen in The Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain Atlantic Monthly, and her work was promoted by William Dean Howells, assistant editor at the magazine, who praised Jewett’s ability to capture the distinctive voice of ordinary people in the New England re- gion. As her reputation grew, she regularly traveled to Boston, where she enjoyed the company of other writers. Jewett never married but later in life befriended the widow of James Thomas Fields, Howells’s predecessor at The Atlantic Monthly. Annie Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett were companions for the rest of Jew- ett’s life. Jewett died in 1909 after a long illness. Jewett’s most notable works are her novels and short stories that explore char- acters firmly rooted in the New England region, particularly A Country Doctor (1884); A White Heron (1886), a ; and The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896). Jewett has been described as both a local colorist and a re- gionalist, and even as an early realist. The difficulty in labeling her work points to limits of categorizing literature using terms for distinct literary movements that developed at times parallel to one another and at other instances overlapped. Most literary critics, though, are comfortable describing Jewett’s work as representa- tive of American Literary Regionalism. Similar to fellow New England writer Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s fiction, Jewett’s work does exhibit features of Local Color— the important sense of locale in terms of geography and landscape, as well as the speech patterns and customs of the inhabitants. However, beyond the particulars of place, these stories focus on characterization, particularly in ways that plot or ac- tion in the story is filtered through the consciousness of a central protagonist, most often a young girl or a woman. In Jewett’s work, as in Freeman’s, there is evidence of three dimensional characters who must work through an internal conflict, and this dimensional characterization predicts the kind of psychological complexity of character that becomes even more refined and sophisticated in works by Realistic

Page | 136 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) writers such as Howells and James. Additionally, her work, with its focus on the lives of women and the limitations placed on them by the cultural and historical moment, predicts an early feminist realism. In one of her most important short stories, A White Heron, Sylvy’s internal conflict—whether or not to give away the location of the heron’s nest to the handsome male stranger—forms the basis of the plot of the story. Sylvy’s allegiance is challenged, then, in terms of whether she will protect the wild bird or please the young man. However, Sylvy must also decide a larger issue than whether she will be loyal to the bird or the ornithologist (and all each represents symbolically). She must determine who she is and whether she can be loyal to this new sense of self.

2.7.1 “A White Heron”

I The woods were already filled with shadows one June evening, just before eight o’clock, though a bright sunset still glimmered faintly among the trunks of the trees. A little girl was driving home her cow, a plodding, dilatory, provoking creature in her behavior, but a valued companion for all that. They were going away from whatever light there was, and striking deep into the woods, but their feet were familiar with the path, and it was no matter whether their eyes could see it or not. There was hardly a night the summer through when the old cow could be found waiting at the pasture bars; on the contrary, it was her greatest pleasure to hide herself away among the huckleberry bushes, and though she wore a loud bell she had made the discovery that if one stood perfectly still it would not ring. So Sylvia had to hunt for her until she found her, and call Co’ ! Co’ ! with never an answering Moo, until her childish patience was quite spent. If the creature had not given good milk and plenty of it, the case would have seemed very different to her owners. Be- sides, Sylvia had all the time there was, and very little use to make of it. Sometimes in pleasant weather it was a consolation to look upon the cow’s pranks as an in- telligent attempt to play hide and seek, and as the child had no playmates she lent herself to this amusement with a good deal of zest. Though this chase had been so long that the wary animal herself had given an unusual signal of her whereabouts, Sylvia had only laughed when she came upon Mistress Moolly at the swamp-side, and urged her affectionately homeward with a twig of birch leaves. The old cow was not inclined to wander farther, she even turned in the right direction for once as they left the pasture, and stepped along the road at a good pace. She was quite ready to be milked now, and seldom stopped to browse. Sylvia wondered what her grandmother would say because they were so late. It was a great while since she had left home at half-past five o’clock, but everybody knew the difficulty of -mak ing this errand a short one. Mrs. Tilley had chased the hornéd torment too many summer evenings herself to blame any one else for lingering, and was only thank- ful as she waited that she had Sylvia, nowadays, to give such valuable assistance. The good woman suspected that Sylvia loitered occasionally on her own account;

Page | 137 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) there never was such a child for straying about out-of-doors since the world was made! Everybody said that it was a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm. She thought often with wistful compassion of a wretched geranium that belonged to a town neighbor. “‘Afraid of folks,’” old Mrs. Tilley said to herself, with a smile, after she had made the unlikely choice of Sylvia from her daughter’s houseful of children, and was returning to the farm. “‘Afraid of folks,’ they said! I guess she won’t be troubled no great with ‘em up to the old place!” When they reached the door of the lonely house and stopped to unlock it, and the cat came to purr loudly, and rub against them, a deserted pussy, indeed, but fat with young robins, Sylvia whispered that this was a beautiful place to live in, and she never should wish to go home. The companions followed the shady wood-road, the cow taking slow steps and the child very fast ones. The cow stopped long at the brook to drink, as if the pas- ture were not half a swamp, and Sylvia stood still and waited, letting her bare feet cool themselves in the shoal water, while the great twilight moths struck softly against her. She waded on through the brook as the cow moved away, and listened to the thrushes with a heart that beat fast with pleasure. There was a stirring in the great boughs overhead. They were full of little birds and beasts that seemed to be wide awake, and going about their world, or else saying good-night to each other in sleepy twitters. Sylvia herself felt sleepy as she walked along. However, it was not much farther to the house, and the air was soft and sweet. She was not often in the woods so late as this, and it made her feel as if she were a part of the gray shadows and the moving leaves. She was just thinking how long it seemed since she first came to the farm a year ago, and wondering if everything went on in the noisy town just the same as when she was there, the thought of the great red-faced boy who used to chase and frighten her made her hurry along the path to escape from the shadow of the trees. Suddenly this little woods-girl is horror-stricken to hear a clear whistle not very far away. Not a bird’s-whistle, which would have a sort of friendliness, but a boy’s whistle, determined, and somewhat aggressive. Sylvia left the cow to what- ever sad fate might await her, and stepped discreetly aside into the bushes, but she was just too late. The enemy had discovered her, and called out in a very cheerful and persuasive tone, “Halloa, little girl, how far is it to the road?” and trembling Sylvia answered almost inaudibly, “A good ways.” She did not dare to look boldly at the tall young man, who carried a gun over his shoulder, but she came out of her bush and again followed the cow, while he walked alongside. “I have been hunting for some birds,” the stranger said kindly, “and I have lost my way, and need a friend very much. Don’t be afraid,” he added gallantly. “Speak up and tell me what your name is, and whether you think I can spend the night at your house, and go out gunning early in the morning.”

Page | 138 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Sylvia was more alarmed than before. Would not her grandmother consider her much to blame? But who could have foreseen such an accident as this? It did not seem to be her fault, and she hung her head as if the stem of it were broken, but managed to answer “Sylvy,” with much effort when her companion again asked her name. Mrs. Tilley was standing in the doorway when the came into view. The cow gave a loud moo by way of explanation. “Yes, you’d better speak up for yourself, you old trial! Where’d she tucked her- self away this time, Sylvy?” But Sylvia kept an awed silence; she knew by instinct that her grandmother did not comprehend the gravity of the situation. She must be mistaking the stranger for one of the farmer-lads of the region. The young man stood his gun beside the door, and dropped a lumpy game-bag beside it; then he bade Mrs. Tilley good-evening, and repeated his wayfarer’s story, and asked if he could have a night’s lodging. “Put me anywhere you like,” he said. “I must be off early in the morning, be- fore day; but I am very hungry, indeed. You can give me some milk at any rate, that’s plain.” “Dear sakes, yes,” responded the hostess, whose long slumbering hospitality seemed to be easily awakened. “You might fare better if you went out to the main road a mile or so, but you’re welcome to what we’ve got. I’ll milk right off, and you make yourself at home. You can sleep on husks or feathers,” she proffered gracious- ly. “I raised them all myself. There’s good pasturing for geese just below here towards the ma’sh. Now step round and set a plate for the gentleman, Sylvy!” And Sylvia promptly stepped. She was glad to have something to do, and she was hungry herself. It was a surprise to find so clean and comfortable a little dwelling in this New England wilderness. The young man had known the horrors of its most primitive housekeeping, and the dreary squalor of that level of society which does not rebel at the companionship of hens. This was the best thrift of an old-fashioned farm- stead, though on such a small scale that it seemed like a hermitage. He listened eagerly to the old woman’s quaint talk, he watched Sylvia’s pale face and shining gray eyes with ever growing enthusiasm, and insisted that this was the best supper he had eaten for a month, and afterward the new-made friends sat down in the door-way together while the moon came up. Soon it would be berry-time, and Sylvia was a great help at picking. The cow was a good milker, though a plaguy thing to keep track of, the hostess gossiped frankly, adding presently that she had buried four children, so Sylvia’s mother, and a son (who might be dead) in California were all the children she had left. “Dan, my boy, was a great hand to go gunning,” she explained sadly. “I never wanted for pa’tridges or gray squer’ls while he was to home. He’s been a great wand’rer, I expect, and he’s no hand to write letters. There, I don’t blame him, I’d ha’ seen the world myself if it had been so I could. “Sylvy takes after him,” the grandmother continued affectionately, after a min- ute’s pause. “There ain’t a foot o’ ground she don’t know her way over, and the wild

Page | 139 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) creaturs counts her one o’ themselves. Squer’ls she’ll tame to come an’ feed right out o’ her hands, and all sorts o’ birds. Last winter she got the jay-birds to bange- ing here, and I believe she’d ‘a’ scanted herself of her own meals to have plenty to throw out amongst ‘em, if I hadn’t kep’ watch. Anything but crows, I tell her, I’m willin’ to help support—though Dan he had a tamed one o’ them that did seem to have reason same as folks. It was round here a good spell after he went away. Dan an’ his father they didn’t hitch,—but he never held up his head ag’in after Dan had dared him an’ gone off.” The guest did not notice this hint of family sorrows in his eager interest in something else. “So Sylvy knows all about birds, does she?” he exclaimed, as he looked round at the little girl who sat, very demure but increasingly sleepy, in the moonlight. “I am making a collection of birds myself. I have been at it ever since I was a boy.” (Mrs. Tilley smiled.) “There are two or three very rare ones I have been hunting for these five years. I mean to get them on my own ground if they can be found.” “Do you cage ‘em up?” asked Mrs. Tilley doubtfully, in response to this enthu- siastic announcement. “Oh no, they’re stuffed and preserved, dozens and dozens of them,” said the ornithologist, “and I have shot or snared every one myself. I caught a glimpse of a white heron a few miles from here on Saturday, and I have followed it in this direc- tion. They have never been found in this district at all. The little white heron, it is,” and he turned again to look at Sylvia with the hope of discovering that the rare bird was one of her acquaintances. But Sylvia was watching a hop-toad in the narrow footpath. “You would know the heron if you saw it,” the stranger continued eagerly. “A queer tall white bird with soft feathers and long thin legs. And it would have a nest perhaps in the top of a high tree, made of sticks, something like a hawk’s nest.” Sylvia’s heart gave a wild beat; she knew that strange white bird, and had once stolen softly near where it stood in some bright green swamp grass, away over at the other side of the woods. There was an open place where the sunshine al- ways seemed strangely yellow and hot, where tall, nodding rushes grew, and her grandmother had warned her that she might sink in the soft black mud underneath and never be heard of more. Not far beyond were the salt marshes just this side the sea itself, which Sylvia wondered and dreamed much about, but never had seen, whose great voice could sometimes be heard above the noise of the woods on stormy nights. “I can’t think of anything I should like so much as to find that heron’s nest,” the handsome stranger was saying. “I would give ten dollars to anybody who could show it to me,” he added desperately, “and I mean to spend my whole vacation hunting for it if need be. Perhaps it was only migrating, or had been chased out of its own region by some bird of prey.” Mrs. Tilley gave amazed attention to all this, but Sylvia still watched the toad, not divining, as she might have done at some calmer time, that the creature wished

Page | 140 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) to get to its hole under the door-step, and was much hindered by the unusual spec- tators at that hour of the evening. No amount of thought, that night, could decide how many wished-for treasures the ten dollars, so lightly spoken of, would buy. The next day the young sportsman hovered about the woods, and Sylvia kept him company, having lost her first fear of the friendly lad, who proved to be most kind and sympathetic. He told her many things about the birds and what they knew and where they lived and what they did with themselves. And he gave her a jack-knife, which she thought as great a treasure as if she were a desert-islander. All day long he did not once make her troubled or afraid except when he brought down some un- suspecting singing creature from its bough. Sylvia would have liked him vastly better without his gun; she could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so much. But as the day waned, Sylvia still watched the young man with loving admiration. She had never seen anybody so charming and delightful; the woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love. Some premonition of that great power stirred and swayed these young creatures who traversed the sol- emn woodlands with soft-footed silent care. They stopped to listen to a bird’s song; they pressed forward again eagerly, parting the branches—speaking to each other rarely and in whispers; the young man going first and Sylvia following, fascinated, a few steps behind, with her gray eyes dark with excitement. She grieved because the longed-for white heron was elusive, but she did not lead the guest, she only followed, and there was no such thing as speaking first. The sound of her own unquestioned voice would have terrified her—it was hard enough to answer yes or no when there was need of that. At last evening began to fall, and they drove the cow home together, and Sylvia smiled with pleasure when they came to the place where she heard the whistle and was afraid only the night before.

II Half a mile from home, at the farther edge of the woods, where the land was highest, a great pine-tree stood, the last of its generation. Whether it was left for a boundary mark, or for what reason, no one could say; the woodchoppers who had felled its mates were dead and gone long ago, and a whole forest of sturdy trees, pines and oaks and maples, had grown again. But the stately head of this old pine towered above them all and made a landmark for sea and shore miles and miles away. Sylvia knew it well. She had always believed that whoever climbed to the top of it could see the ocean; and the little girl had often laid her hand on the great rough trunk and looked up wistfully at those dark boughs that the wind always stirred, no matter how hot and still the air might be below. Now she thought of the tree with a new excitement, for why, if one climbed it at break of day, could not one see all the world, and easily discover from whence the white heron flew, and mark the place, and find the hidden nest? What a spirit of adventure, what wild ambition! What fancied triumph and delight and glory for the later morning when she could make known the secret! It was almost too real and too great for the childish heart to bear.

Page | 141 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

All night the door of the little house stood open and the whippoorwills came and sang upon the very step. The young sportsman and his old hostess were sound asleep, but Sylvia’s great design kept her broad awake and watching. She forgot to think of sleep. The short summer night seemed as long as the winter darkness, and at last when the whippoorwills ceased, and she was afraid the morning would after all come too soon, she stole out of the house and followed the pasture path through the woods, hastening toward the open ground beyond, listening with a sense of comfort and companionship to the drowsy twitter of a half-awakened bird, whose perch she had jarred in passing. Alas, if the great wave of human interest which flooded for the first time this dull little life should sweep away the satisfactions of an existence heart to heart with nature and the dumb life of the forest! There was the huge tree asleep yet in the paling moonlight, and small and silly Sylvia began with utmost bravery to mount to the top of it, with tingling, eager blood coursing the channels of her whole frame, with her bare feet and fingers, that pinched and held like bird’s claws to the monstrous ladder reaching up, up, al- most to the sky itself. First she must mount the white oak tree that grew alongside, where she was almost lost among the dark branches and the green leaves heavy and wet with dew; a bird fluttered off its nest, and a red squirrel ran to and fro and scolded pettishly at the harmless housebreaker. Sylvia felt her way easily. She had often climbed there, and knew that higher still one of the oak’s upper branches chafed against the pine trunk, just where its lower boughs were set close together. There, when she made the dangerous pass from one tree to the other, the great enterprise would really begin. She crept out along the swaying oak limb at last, and took the daring step across into the old pine-tree. The way was harder than she thought; she must reach far and hold fast, the sharp dry twigs caught and held her and scratched her like angry talons, the pitch made her thin little fingers clumsy and stiff as she went round and round the tree’s great stem, higher and higher upward. The sparrows and robins in the woods below were beginning to wake and twitter to the dawn, yet it seemed much lighter there aloft in the pine-tree, and the child knew she must hurry if her project were to be of any use. The tree seemed to lengthen itself out as she went up, and to reach farther and farther upward. It was like a great main-mast to the voyaging earth; it must truly have been amazed that morning through all its ponderous frame as it felt this determined spark of human spirit wending its way from higher branch to branch. Who knows how steadily the least twigs held themselves to advantage this light, weak creature on her way! The old pine must have loved his new depen- dent. More than all the hawks, and bats, and moths, and even the sweet voiced thrushes, was the brave, beating heart of the solitary gray-eyed child. And the tree stood still and frowned away the winds that June morning while the dawn grew bright in the east. Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired but wholly trium-

Page | 142 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) phant, high in the tree-top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-mov- ing pinions. How low they looked in the air from that height when one had only seen them before far up, and dark against the blue sky. Their gray feathers were as soft as moths; they seemed only a little way from the tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the clouds. Westward, the woodlands and farms reached miles and miles into the distance; here and there were church steeples, and white villages, truly it was a vast and awesome world The birds sang louder and louder. At last the sun came up bewilderingly bright. Sylvia could see the white sails of ships out at sea, and the clouds that were purple and rose-colored and yellow at first began to fade away. Where was the white her- on’s nest in the sea of green branches, and was this wonderful sight and pageant of the world the only reward for having climbed to such a giddy height? Now look down again, Sylvia, where the green marsh is set among the shining birches and dark hemlocks; there where you saw the white heron once you will see him again; look, look! a white spot of him like a single floating feather comes up from the dead hemlock and grows larger, and rises, and comes close at last, and goes by the land- mark pine with steady sweep of wing and outstretched slender neck and crested head. And wait! wait! do not move a foot or a finger, little girl, do not send an arrow of light and consciousness from your two eager eyes, for the heron has perched on a pine bough not far beyond yours, and cries back to his mate on the nest and plumes his feathers for the new day! The child gives a long sigh a minute later when a company of shouting cat-birds comes also to the tree, and vexed by their fluttering and lawlessness the solemn heron goes away. She knows his secret now, the wild, light, slender bird that floats and wavers, and goes back like an arrow presently to his home in the green world beneath. Then Sylvia, well satisfied, makes her perilous way down again, not dar- ing to look far below the branch she stands on, ready to cry sometimes because her fingers ache and her lamed feet slip. Wondering over and over again what the stranger would say to her, and what he would think when she told him how to find his way straight to the heron’s nest. “Sylvy, Sylvy!” called the busy old grandmother again and again, but nobody answered, and the small husk bed was empty and Sylvia had disappeared. The guest waked from a dream, and remembering his day’s pleasure hurried to dress himself that it might sooner begin. He was sure from the way the shy lit- tle girl looked once or twice yesterday that she had at least seen the white heron, and now she must really be made to tell. Here she comes now, paler than ever, and her worn old frock is torn and tattered, and smeared with pine pitch. The grandmother and the sportsman stand in the door together and question her, and the splendid moment has come to speak of the dead hemlock-tree by the green marsh. But Sylvia does not speak after all, though the old grandmother fretfully rebukes her, and the young man’s kind, appealing eyes are looking straight in

Page | 143 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) her own. He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy, and he waits to hear the story she can tell. No, she must keep silence! What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes her dumb? Has she been nine years growing and now, when the great world for the first time puts out a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a bird’s sake? The murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears, she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak; she cannot tell the heron’s secret and give its life away. Dear loyalty, that suffered a sharp pang as the guest went away disappointed later in the day, that could have served and followed him and loved him as a dog loves! Many a night Sylvia heard the echo of his whistle haunting the pasture path as she came home with the loitering cow. She forgot even her sorrow at the sharp report of his gun and the sight of thrushes and sparrows dropping silent to the ground, their songs hushed and their pretty feathers stained and wet with blood. Were the birds better friends than their hunter might have been,—who can tell? Whatever treasures were lost to her, woodlands and summer-time, remember! Bring your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to this lonely country child!

2.7.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. What overlapping features of Local Color, Regionalism, and Realism can been seen in A White Heron? 2. What is the symbolic value in various elements of nature in the story, for example, of the tree, the cow, the heron, the sea, or even Sylvy (whose name means “the forest” or “woods”)? 3. How does the story convey a feminist or proto-feminist theme? 4. Is Sylvy saving only the heron when she keeps the heron’s location secret? Explain. 5. Even though Sylvy is only nine years old, how does Jewett explore the concept of heterosexual love in the story? How is the possibility of future love between Sylvy and the ornithologist portrayed? 6. What contrasts between the country and city are examined in terms of Sylvy’s characterization?

Page | 144 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.8 Kate Chopin (1850 - 1904)

Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin was born in 1850 in St. Louis, Missouri, to an affluent family. She was formally educated in a Catho- lic school for girls. At age twenty, she married Oscar Chopin and moved with him to New Or- leans. The couple eventually relocated to Clout- ierville in 1879, an area where many members of the Creole community lived. The Chopins lived, worked, and raised their six children to- gether until Oscar died unexpectedly in 1882, leaving his wife in serious debt. Chopin worked and sold the family business to pay off the debt, eventually moving back to St. Louis to be near Image 2.6 | Kate Chopin, 1894 her mother, who died soon after Chopin re- Photographer | Unknown turned. After experiencing these losses, Chopin Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain turned to reading and writing to deal with her grief. Her experiences in and Cloutierville provided rich writing ma- terial, and during the 1890s, she enjoyed success as a writer, publishing a number of stories in the Local Color tradition. By 1899, her style had evolved, and her im- portant work The Awakening, published that year, shocked the Victorian audience of the time in its frank depiction of a woman’s sexuality. Unprepared for the neg- ative critical reception that ensued, Chopin retreated from the publishing world. She died unexpectedly a few years later in 1904, from a brain hemorrhage. In her lifetime, Chopin was known primarily as a Local Color writer who pro- duced a number of important short stories, many of which were collected in Bay- ou Folk in 1894. Her ground-breaking novel The Awakening published in 1899 was ahead of its time in the examination of the rigid cultural and legal boundar- ies placed on women which limited or prevented them from living authentic, fully self-directed lives. The novel offers a sensuous portrait of a young married woman and mother, Edna Pontellier, who awakens to herself as a dimensional human be- ing with sexual longings and a strong will to live an authentic life, not the repressed half-life she is assigned by tradition and culture, through the institutions of mar- riage and motherhood, to “perform.” Though today it is viewed as an important early feminist work, the novel shocked and offended the turn of the century reading audience. It was all but for- gotten until interest in the novel and in Chopin’s work in general was revived in the 1960s. During this revival, an unpublished short story was discovered, “The Storm,” written in 1898 but not published until 1969. The story, which offers an erotic depiction of sex between a man and a woman who are not married to each other, would have been unpublishable by most, if not all, major literary magazines

Page | 145 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) in late nineteenth-century America. The story’s title indicates that it was intended as a to “At the ‘Cadian Ball,” first published in 1892 and reprinted inBayou Folk. Read together, the linked stories concern two couples, one from the upper class Creoles (Alcée and Clarisse), and the other from the less prominent Acadians or Cajuns (Calixta and Bobinôt). What begins as a strong flirtation in the first story between Calixta and Alcée, both single at the time and from different social classes, culminates in torrid lovemaking years later in the second story, years after Calixta had married Bobinôt and Alcée had married Clarisse. Beyond the candid, natural depiction of sexual intimacy between the lovers during a stormy afternoon, includ- ing the scenes of a woman clearly enjoying an afternoon of passion, the story offers a non-judgmental ending: no one appears to be hurt by the affair; in fact, after the storm passes, Alcée and Calixta go their separate ways, and everyone, the reader is told, is quite happy.

2.8.1 “At The ‘Cadian Ball”

Bobinôt, that big, brown, good-natured Bobinôt, had no intention of going to the ball, even though he knew Calixta would be there. For what came of those balls but heartache, and a sickening disinclination for work the whole week through, till Saturday night came again and his tortures began afresh? Why could he not love Ozéina, who would marry him to-morrow; or Fronie, or any one of a dozen oth- ers, rather than that little Spanish vixen? Calixta’s slender foot had never touched Cuban soil; but her mother’s had, and the Spanish was in her blood all the same. For that reason the prairie people forgave her much that they would not have over- looked in their own daughters or sisters. Her eyes, Bobinôt thought of her eyes, and weakened, the bluest, the drowsiest, most tantalizing that ever looked into a man’s, he thought of her flaxen hair that kinked worse than a mulatto’s close to her head; that broad, smiling mouth and tip-tilted nose, that full figure; that voice like a rich contralto song, with cadences in it that must have been taught by Satan, for there was no one else to teach her tricks on that ‘Cadian prairie. Bobinôt thought of them all as he plowed his rows of cane. There had even been a breath of scandal whispered about her a year ago, when she went to Assumption, but why talk of it? No one did now. “C’est Espagnol, ça,” most of them said with lenient shoulder-shrugs. “Bon chien tient de race,” the old men mumbled over their pipes, stirred by recollections. Nothing was made of it, except that Fronie threw it up to Calixta when the two quarreled and fought on the church steps after mass one Sunday, about a lover. Calixta swore roundly in fine ‘Cadian French and with true Spanish spirit, and slapped Fronie’s face. Fronie had slapped her back; “Tiens, bocotte, va!” “Espèce de lionèse; prends ça, et ça!” till the curé himself was obliged to hasten and make peace between them. Bobinôt thought of it all, and would not go to the ball. But in the afternoon, over at Friedheimer’s store, where he was buying a trace- chain, he heard some one say that Alcée Laballèire would be there. Then wild hors- es could not have kept him away. He knew how it would be or rather he did not

Page | 146 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) know how it would be if the handsome young planter came over to the ball as he sometimes did. If Alcée happened to be in a serious mood, he might only go to the card-room and play a round or two; or he might stand out on the galleries talking crops and politics with the old people. But there was no telling. A drink or two could put the devil in his head,—that was what Bobinôt said to himself, as he wiped the sweat from his brow with his red bandanna; a gleam from Calixta’s eyes, a flash of her ankle, a twirl of her skirts could do the same. Yes, Bobinôt would go to the ball.


That was the year Alcée Laballière put nine hundred acres in rice. It was put- ting a good deal of money into the ground, but the returns promised to be glorious. Old Madame Laballière, sailing about the spacious galleries in her white volante, figured it all out in her head. Clarisse, her goddaughter helped her a little, and to- gether they built more air-castles than enough. Alcée worked like a mule that time; and if he did not kill himself, it was because his constitution was an iron one. It was an every-day affair for him to come in from the field well-nigh exhausted, and wet to the waist. He did not mind if there were visitors; he left them to his mother and Clarisse. There were often guests: young men and women who came up from the city, which was but a few hours away, to visit his beautiful kinswoman. She was worth going a good deal farther than that to see. Dainty as a lily; hardy as a sun- flower; slim, tall, graceful, like one of the reeds that grew in the marsh. Cold and kind and cruel by turn, and everything that was aggravating to Alcée. He would have liked to sweep the place of those visitors, often. Of the men, above all, with their ways and their manners; their swaying of fans like women, and dandling about hammocks. He could have pitched them over the levee into the river, if it hadn’t meant murder. That was Alcée. But he must have been crazy the day he came in from the rice-field, and, toil-stained as he was, clasped Clarisse by the arms and panted a volley of hot, blistering love-words into her face. No man had ever spoken love to her like that. “Monsieur!” she exclaimed, looking him full in the eyes, without a quiver. Al- cée’s hands dropped and his glance wavered before the chill of her calm, clear eyes. “Par exemple!” she muttered disdainfully, as she turned from him, deftly ad- justing the careful toilet that he had so brutally disarranged. That happened a day or two before the cyclone came that cut into the rice like fine steel. It was an awful thing, coming so swiftly, without a moment’s warning in which to light a holy candle or set a piece of blessed palm burning. Old madame wept openly and said her beads, just as her son Didier, the New Orleans one, would have done. If such a thing had happened to Alphonse, the Laballière planting cot- ton up in Natchitoches, he would have raved and stormed like a second cyclone, and made his surroundings unbearable for a day or two. But Alcée took the misfor- tune differently. He looked ill and gray after it, and said nothing. His speechless- ness was frightful. Clarisse’s heart melted with tenderness; but when she offered

Page | 147 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) her soft, purring words of condolence, he accepted them with mute indifference. Then she and her nénaine wept afresh in each other’s arms. A night or two later, when Clarisse went to her window to kneel there in the moonlight and say her prayers before retiring, she saw that Bruce, Alcée’s negro servant, had led his master’s saddle-horse noiselessly along the edge of the sward that bordered the gravel-path, and stood holding him near by. Presently, she heard Alcée quit his room, which was beneath her own, and traverse the lower portico. As he emerged from the shadow and crossed the strip of moonlight, she perceived that he carried a pair of well-filled saddle-bags which he at once flung across the animal’s back. He then lost no time in mounting, and after a brief exchange of words with Bruce, went cantering away, taking no precaution to avoid the noisy gravel as the negro had done. Clarisse had never suspected that it might be Alcée’s custom to sally forth from the plantation secretly, and at such an hour; for it was nearly midnight. And had it not been for the telltale saddle-bags, she would only have crept to bed, to wonder, to fret and dream unpleasant dreams. But her impatience and anxiety would not be held in check. Hastily unbolting the shutters of her door that opened upon the gallery, she stepped outside and called softly to the old negro. “Gre’t Peter! Miss Clarisse. I was n’ sho it was a ghos’ o’ w’at, stan’in’ up dah, plumb in de night, dataway.” He mounted halfway up the long, broad flight of stairs. She was standing at the top. “Bruce, w’ere has Monsieur Alcée gone?” she asked. “W’y, he gone ‘bout he business, I reckin,” replied Bruce, striving to be non- committal at the outset. “W’ere has Monsieur Alcée gone?” she reiterated, stamping her bare foot. “I won’t stan’ any nonsense or any lies; mine, Bruce.” “I don’ ric’lic ez I eva tole you lie yit, Miss Clarisse. Mista Alcée, he all broke up, sho.” “W’ere - has - he gone? Ah, Sainte Vierge! faut de la patience! butor, va!” “W’en I was in he room, a-breshin’ off he clo’es to-day,” the darkey began, set- tling himself against the stair-rail, “he look dat speechless an’ down, I say, ‘You ‘pear tu me like some pussun w’at gwine have a spell o’ sickness, Mista Alcée.’ He say, ‘You reckin?’ ‘I dat he git up, go look hisse’f stiddy in de glass. Den he go to de chimbly an’ jerk up de quinine bottle an po’ a gre’t hoss-dose on to he han’. An’ he dat mess in a wink, an’ wash hit down wid a big dram o’ w’iskey w’at he keep in he room, aginst he come all soppin’ wet outen de fiel’. “He ‘lows, ‘No, I ain’ gwine be sick, Bruce.’ Den he square off. He say, ‘I kin mak out to stan’ up an’ gi’ an’ take wid any man I knows, lessen hit ‘s John L. Sulvun. But w’en God A’mighty an’ a ‘omen jines fo’ces agin me, dat ‘s one too many fur me.’ I tell ‘im, ‘Jis so,’ while’ I ‘se makin’ out to bresh a spot off w’at ain’ dah, on he coat colla. I tell ‘im, ‘You wants li’le res’, suh.’ He say, ‘No, I wants li’le fling; dat w’at I wants; an I gwine git it. Pitch me a fis’ful o’ clo’es in dem ‘ar saddle-bags.’ Dat

Page | 148 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) w’at he say. Don’t you bodda, missy. He jis’ gone a-caperin’ yonda to de Cajun ball. Uh - uh - de skeeters is fair’ a-swarmin’ like bees roun’ yo’ foots!” The mosquitoes were indeed attacking Clarisse’s white feet savagely. She had unconsciously been alternately rubbing one foot over the other during the darkey’s recital. “The ‘Cadian ball,” she repeated contemptously. “Humph! Par exemple! Nice conduc’ for a Laballière. An’ he needs a saddle-bag, fill’ with clothes, to go to the ‘Cadian ball!” “Oh, Miss Clarisse; you go on to bed, chile; git yo’ soun’ sleep. He ‘low he come back in couple weeks o’ so. I kiarn be repeatin’ lot o’ truck w’at young mans say, out heah face o’ a young gal.” Clarisse said no more, but turned and abruptly reentered the house. “You done talk too much wid yo’ mouf already, you ole fool nigga, you,” mut- tered Bruce to himself as he walked away.


Alcée reached the ball very late, of course—too late for the chicken gumbo which had been served at midnight. The big, low-ceiled room—they called it a hall—was packed with men and women dancing to the music of three fiddles. There were broad galleries all around it. There was a room at one side where sober-faced men were playing cards. Another, in which babies were sleeping, was called le parc aux petits. Any one who is white may go to a ‘Cadian ball, but he must pay for his lemonade, his coffee and chicken gumbo. And he must behave himself like a ‘Cadian. Grosboeuf was giving this ball. He had been giving them since he was a young man, and he was a middle-aged one, now. In that time he could recall but one disturbance, and that was caused by American railroaders, who were not with their surroundings and had no business there. “Ces maudits gens du raiderode,” Gros- boeuf called them. Alcée Laballière’s presence at the ball caused a flutter even among the men, who could not but admire his “nerve” after such misfortune befalling him. To be sure, they knew the Laballières were rich—that there were resources East, and more again in the city. But they felt it took a brave homme to stand a blow like that philosophically. One old gentleman, who was in the habit of reading a Paris newspaper and knew things, chuckled gleefully to everybody that Alcée’s conduct was altogether chic, mais chic. That he had more panache than Boulanger. Well, perhaps he had. But what he did not show outwardly was that he was in a mood for ugly things to-night. Poor Bobinôt alone felt it vaguely. He discerned a gleam of it in Alcée’s handsome eyes, as the young planter stood in the doorway, looking with rather feverish glance upon the assembly, while he laughed and talked with a ‘Cadian farmer who was beside him.

Page | 149 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Bobinôt himself was dull-looking and clumsy. Most of the men were. But the young women were very beautiful. The eyes that glanced into Alcée’s as they passed him were big, dark, soft as those of the young heifers standing out in the cool prairie grass. But the belle was Calixta. Her white dress was not nearly so handsome or well made as Fronie’s (she and Fronie had quite forgotten the battle on the church steps, and were friends again), nor were her slippers so stylish as those of Ozéina; and she fanned herself with a handkerchief, since she had broken her red fan at the last ball, and her aunts and uncles were not willing to give her another. But all the men agreed she was at her best to-night. Such animation! and abandon! such flashes of wit! “Hé, Bobinôt! Mais w’at’s the matta? W’at you standin’ planté là like ole Ma’ame Tina’s cow in the bog, you?” That was good. That was an excellent thrust at Bobinôt, who had forgotten the figure of the dance with his mind bent on other things, and it started a clamor of laughter at his expense. He joined good-naturedly. It was better to receive even such notice as that from Calixta than none at all. But Madame Suzonne, sitting in a corner, whispered to her neighbor that if Ozéina were to conduct herself in a like manner, she should immediately be taken out to the mule-cart and driven home. The women did not always approve of Calixta. Now and then were short lulls in the dance, when couples flocked out upon the galleries for a brief respite and fresh air. The moon had gone down pale in the west, and in the east was yet no promise of day. After such an interval, when the dancers again assembled to resume the interrupted quadrille, Calixta was not among them. She was sitting upon a bench out in the shadow, with Alcée beside her. They were acting like fools. He had attempted to take a little gold ring from her finger; just for the fun of it, for there was nothing he could have done with the ring but re- place it again. But she clinched her hand tight. He pretended that it was a very diffi- cult matter to open it. Then he kept the hand in his. They seemed to forget about it. He played with her ear-ring, a thin crescent of gold hanging from her small brown ear. He caught a wisp of the kinky hair that had escaped its fastening, and rubbed the ends of it against his shaven cheek. “You know, last year in Assumption, Calixta?” They belonged to the younger generation, so preferred to speak English. “Don’t come say Assumption to me, M’sieur Alcée. I done yeard Assumption till I ‘m plumb sick.” “Yes, I know. The idiots! Because you were in Assumption, and I happened to go to Assumption, they must have it that we went together. But it was nice hein, Calixta?—in Assumption?” They saw Bobinôt emerge from the hall and stand a moment outside the light- ed doorway, peering uneasily and searchingly into the darkness. He did not see them, and went slowly back. “There is Bobinôt looking for you. You are going to set poor Bobinôt crazy. You’ll marry him some day; hein, Calixta?”

Page | 150 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I don’t say no, me,” she replied, striving to withdraw her hand, which he held more firmly for the attempt. “But come, Calixta; you know you said you would go back to Assumption, just to spite them.” “No, I neva said that, me. You mus’ dreamt that.” “Oh, I thought you did. You know I ‘m going down to the city.” “W’en?” “To-night.” “Betta make has’e, then; it ‘s mos’ day.” “Well, to-morrow ‘ll do.” “W’at you goin’ do, yonda?” “I don’t know. Drown myself in the lake, maybe; unless you go down there to visit your uncle.” Calixta’s senses were reeling; and they well-nigh left her when she felt Alcée’s lips brush her ear like the touch of a rose. “Mista Alcée! Is dat Mista Alcée?” the thick voice of a negro was asking; he stood on the ground, holding to the banister-rails near which the couple sat. “W’at do you want now?” cried Alcée impatiently. “Can’t I have a moment of peace?” “I ben huntin’ you high an’ low, suh,” answered the man. “Dey - dey some one in de road, onda de mulbare-tree, want see you a minute.” “I would n’t go out to the road to see the Angel Gabriel. And if you come back here with any more talk, I ‘ll have to break your neck.” The negro turned mumbling away. Alcée and Calixta laughed softly about it. Her boisterousness was all gone. They talked low, and laughed softly, as lovers do. “Alcée! Alcée Laballière!” It was not the negro’s voice this time; but one that went through Alcée’s body like an electric shock, bringing him to his feet. Clarisse was standing there in her riding-habit, where the negro had stood. For an instant confusion reigned in Alcée’s thoughts, as with one who awakes suddenly from a dream. But he felt that something of serious import had brought his cousin to the ball in the dead of night. “W’at does this mean, Clarisse?” he asked. “It means something has happen’ at home. You mus’ come.” “Happened to maman?” he questioned, in alarm. “No; nénaine is well, and asleep. It is something else. Not to frighten you. But you mus’ come. Come with me, Alcée.” There was no need for the imploring note. He would have followed the voice anywhere. She had now recognized the girl sitting back on the bench. “Ah, c’est vous, Calixta? Comment ça va, mon enfant?” “Tcha va b’en; et vous, mam’zélle?”

Page | 151 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Alcée swung himself over the low rail and started to follow Clarisse, without a word, without a glance back at the girl. He had forgotten he was leaving her there. But Clarisse whispered something to him, and he turned back to say “Good-night, Calixta,” and offer his hand to press through the railing. She pretended not to see it.


“How come that? You settin’ yere by yo’se’f, Calixta?” It was Bobinôt who had found her there alone. The dancers had not yet come out. She looked ghastly in the faint, gray light struggling out of the east. “Yes, that ‘s me. Go yonda in the parc aux petits an’ ask Aunt Olisse fu’ my hat. She knows w’ere ‘t is. I want to go home, me.” “How you came?” “I come afoot, with the Cateaus. But I ‘m goin’ now. I ent goin’ wait fu’ ‘em. I ‘m plumb wo’ out, me.” “Kin I go with you, Calixta?” “I don’ care.” They went together across the open prairie and along the edge of the fields, stumbling in the uncertain light. He told her to lift her dress that was getting wet and bedraggled; for she was pulling at the weeds and grasses with her hands. “I don’ care; it ‘s got to go in the tub, anyway. You been sayin’ all along you want to marry me, Bobinôt. Well, if you want, yet, I don’ care, me.” The glow of a sudden and overwhelming happiness shone out in the brown, rugged face of the young Acadian. He could not speak, for very joy. It choked him. “Oh well, if you don’ want,” snapped Calixta, flippantly, pretending to be piqued at his silence. “Bon Dieu! You know that makes me crazy, w’at you sayin’. You mean that, Calixta? You ent goin’ turn roun’ agin?” “I neva tole you that much yet, Bobinôt. I mean that. Tiens,” and she held out her hand in the business-like manner of a man who clinches a bargain with a hand-clasp. Bobinôt grew bold with happiness and asked Calixta to kiss him. She turned her face, that was almost ugly after the night’s dissipation, and looked steadily into his. “I don’ want to kiss you, Bobinôt,” she said, turning away again, “not to-day. Some other time. Bonté divine! ent you satisfy, yet!” “Oh, I ‘m satisfy, Calixta,” he said.


Riding through a patch of wood, Clarisse’s saddle became ungirted, and she and Alcée dismounted to readjust it. For the twentieth time he asked her what had happened at home. “But, Clarisse, w’at is it? Is it a misfortune?” “Ah Dieu sait!” It ‘s only something that happen’ to me.”

Page | 152 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“To you!” “I saw you go away las night, Alcée, with those saddle-bags,” she said, halting- ly, striving to arrange something about the saddle, “an’ I made Bruce tell me. He said you had gone to the ball, an’ wouldn’ be home for weeks an’ weeks. I thought, Alcée—maybe you were going to—to Assumption. I got wild. An’ then I knew if you didn’t come back, now, to-night, I could n’t stan’ it,again.” She had her face hidden in her arm that she was resting against the saddle when she said that. He began to wonder if this meant love. But she had to tell him so, before he believed it. And when she told him, he thought the face of the Universe was changed—just like Bobinôt. Was it last week the cyclone had well-nigh ruined him? The cyclone seemed a huge joke, now. It was he, then, who, an hour ago was kissing little Calixta’s ear and whispering nonsense into it. Calixta was like a myth, now. The one, only, great reality in the world was Clarisse standing before him, telling him that she loved him. In the distance they heard the rapid discharge of pistol-shots; but it did not dis- turb them. They knew it was only the negro musicians who had gone into the yard to fire their pistols into the air, as the custom is, and to announce “le bal est fini.”

2.8.2 ”The Storm”

I The leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain. Bobinôt, who was accustomed to converse on terms of perfect equality with his little son, called the child’s attention to certain sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar. They were at Friedheimer’s store and decided to remain there till the storm had passed. They sat within the door on two empty kegs. Bibi was four years old and looked very wise. “Mama’ll be ‘fraid, yes, he suggested with blinking eyes. “She’ll shut the house. Maybe she got Sylvie helpin’ her this evenin’,” Bobinôt responded reassuringly. “No; she ent got Sylvie. Sylvie was helpin’ her yistiday,’ piped Bibi. Bobinôt arose and going across to the counter purchased a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond. Then he returned to his perch on the keg and sat stol- idly holding the can of shrimps while the storm burst. It shook the wooden store and seemed to be ripping great furrows in the distant field. Bibi laid his little hand on his father’s knee and was not afraid.

II Calixta, at home, felt no uneasiness for their safety. She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine. She was greatly occupied and did not notice the approaching storm. But she felt very warm and often stopped to mop her face on which the perspiration gathered in beads. She unfastened her white sacque at

Page | 153 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) the throat. It began to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors. Out on the small front gallery she had hung Bobinôt’s Sunday clothes to dry and she hastened out to gather them before the rain fell. As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone. She stood there with Bobinôt’s coat in her hands, and the big rain drops began to fall. Alcée rode his horse under the shelter of a side projection where the had huddled and there were plows and a harrow piled up in the corner. “May I come and wait on your gallery till the storm is over, Calixta?” he asked. Come ‘long in, M’sieur Alcée.” His voice and her own startled her as if from a trance, and she seized Bobinôt’s vest. Alcée, mounting to the porch, grabbed the trousers and snatched Bibi’s braid- ed jacket that was about to be carried away by a sudden gust of wind. He expressed an intention to remain outside, but it was soon apparent that he might as well have been out in the open: the water beat in upon the boards in driving sheets, and he went inside, closing the door after him. It was even necessary to put something beneath the door to keep the water out. “My! what a rain! It’s good two years sence it rain’ like that,” exclaimed Calixta as she rolled up a piece of bagging and Alcée helped her to thrust it beneath the crack. She was a little fuller of figure than five years before when she married; but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality; and her yellow hair, dishevelled by the wind and rain, kinked more stubbornly than ever about her ears and temples. The rain beat upon the low, shingled roof with a force and clatter that threat- ened to break an entrance and deluge them there. They were in the dining room the sitting room the general utility room. Adjoining was her bed room, with Bibi’s couch along side her own. The door stood open, and the room with its white, mon- umental bed, its closed shutters, looked dim and mysterious. Alcée flung himself into a rocker and Calixta nervously began to gather up from the floor the lengths of a cotton sheet which she had been sewing. lf this keeps up, Dieu sait if the levees goin’ to stan it!” she exclaimed. “What have you got to do with the levees?” “I got enough to do! An’ there’s Bobinôt with Bibi out in that storm if he only didn’ left Friedheimer’s!” “Let us hope, Calixta, that Bobinôt’s got sense enough to come in out of a cyclone.” She went and stood at the window with a greatly disturbed look on her face. She wiped the frame that was clouded with moisture. It was stiflingly hot. Alcée got up and joined her at the window, looking over her shoulder. The rain was coming down in sheets obscuring the view of far-off cabins and enveloping the distant wood in a gray mist. The playing of the lightning was incessant. A bolt struck a tall chinaberry tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space with a blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stood upon.

Page | 154 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward. Alcée’s arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew her close and spasmodically to him. “Bont!” she cried, releasing herself from his encircling arm and retreating from the window, “the house’ll go next! If I only knew w’ere Bibi was!” She would not com- pose herself; she would not be seated. Alcée clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh. “Calixta,” he said, “don’t be frightened. Nothing can happen. The house is too low to be struck, with so many tall trees standing about. There! aren’t you going to be quiet? say, aren’t you?” He pushed her hair back from her face that was warm and steaming. Her lips were as red and moist as pomegranate seed. Her white neck and a glimpse of her full, firm bosom disturbed him powerfully. As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire. He looked down into her eyes and there was nothing for him to do but to gather her lips in a kiss. It reminded him of Assumption. “Do you rememberin Assumption, Calixta?” he asked in a low voice broken by passion. Oh! she remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail. Now well, now her lips seemed in a manner free to be tasted, as well as her round, white throat and her whiter breasts. They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world. The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached. When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life’s mystery. He stayed cushioned upon her, breathless, dazed, enervated, with his heart beating like a hammer upon her. With one hand she clasped his head, her lips lightly touching his forehead. The other hand stroked with a soothing rhythm his muscular shoulders. The growl of the thunder was distant and passing away. The rain beat softly upon the shingles, inviting them to drowsiness and sleep. But they dared not yield.

III The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcée ride away. He turned and

Page | 155 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud. Bobinôt and Bibi, trudging home, stopped without at the cistern to make them- selves presentable. “My! Bibi, w’at will yo’ mama say! You ought to be ashame’. You oughta’ put on those good pants. Look at ‘em! An’ that mud on yo’ collar! How you got that mud on yo’ collar, Bibi? I never saw such a boy!” Bibi was the picture of pathetic resignation. Bobinôt was the embodiment of serious solicitude as he strove to remove from his own person and his son’s the signs of their tramp over heavy roads and through wet fields. He scraped the mud off Bibi’s bare legs and feet with a stick and carefully re- moved all traces from his heavy brogans. Then, prepared for the worst the meeting with an over-scrupulous housewife, they entered cautiously at the back door. Calixta was preparing supper. She had set the table and was dripping coffee at the hearth. She sprang up as they came in. “Oh, Bobinôt! You back! My! But I was uneasy. W’ere you been during the rain? An’ Bibi? he ain’t wet? he ain’t hurt?” She had clasped Bibi and was kissing him effusively. Bobinôt’s explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return. “I brought you some shrimps, Calixta,” offered Bobinôt, hauling the can from his ample side pocket and laying it on the table. “Shrimps! Oh, Bobinôt! you too good fo’ anything!” and she gave him a smack- ing kiss on the cheek that resounded, “J’vous rponds, we’ll have a feas’ to-night! umph-umph!” Bobinôt and Bibi began to relax and enjoy themselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballière’s.

IV Alcée Laballière wrote to his wife, Clarisse, that night. It was a loving letter, full of tender solicitude. He told her not to hurry back, but if she and the babies liked it at Biloxi, to stay a month longer. He was getting on nicely; and though he missed them, he was willing to bear the separation a while longer realizing that their health and pleasure were the first things to be considered.

V As for Clarisse, she was charmed upon receiving her husband’s letter. She and the babies were doing well. The society was agreeable; many of her old friends and acquaintances were at the bay. And the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days. Devoted as she was to her hus- band, their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while. So the storm passed and every one was happy.

Page | 156 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

2.8.3 Reading and Review Questions 1. How do either (or both) stories represent elements of Realistic or Naturalistic fiction? 2. In “At the ‘Cadian Ball,” what is the relationship between social classes presented in the story (Creoles and Acadians)? 3. In “The Storm,” what does the title suggest in terms of figurative meaning? 4. In “The Storm,” is it reasonable to accept that at the end “everyone was happy”? Or are consequences possible—or inevitable—beyond the ending of the story? 5. What does a reading of the stories in sequence provide readers in terms of interpretation of “The Storm” that a reading of the second story alone might not? 6. Examine the role social class plays in both stories.

2.9 Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852 - 1930)

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman was born in 1852 in Randolph, Massachusetts. After high school, Freeman attended Mount Holyoke Female Sem- inary and later completed her studies at West Brattleboro Seminary while she pursued writ- ing as a career. By her mid-thirties, Freeman’s parents had died, and she was alone with only a small inheritance. She lived with family friends and continued her writing, eventually support- ing herself by publishing important works rec- ognized and praised by William Dean Howells, Image 2.7 | Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Henry James, and other major writers of the 1900 day. While she wrote a number of novels, she is Photographer | Floride Green best known for her short stories, especially those Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain that focused on the New England region. How- ever, Freeman expanded her scope and produced a variety of fictional , in- cluding mysteries and ghost stories. A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891) stands as her most critically acclaimed achievement, a collection of regional stories focusing primarily on women and New England life. At forty-nine, Freeman mar- ried a physician, Dr. Charles Freeman from New Jersey. However, the marriage was marred by her husband’s alcoholism, and she eventually separated from him. He was ultimately committed to the New Jersey State Hospital for the mentally ill. She died in 1930 at the age of seventy-eight after suffering a heart attack.

Page | 157 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

While Freeman was a prolific writer, she is best remembered for two important collections of short stories, A Humble Romance and Other Stories (1887) and A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891). The stories in these collections con- cern rural New England life and focus, in particular, on the domestic concerns of women. Like Sarah Orne Jewett, Freeman has been labeled a local colorist. Howev- er, the fiction of Jewett and Freeman generally is considered more representative of American Literary Regionalism, especially since both authors develop in their work dimensional characters whose internal conflicts are explored. Freeman’s fo- cus in “A New England Nun” and “The Revolt of Mother” is on women’s redefining their place in the domestic sphere. In “A New England Nun,” Louisa rejects hav- ing her domestic world invaded or controlled by a male presence. She preserves dominion over her small home, gently suggesting to her betrothed Joe Daggett that they may not be a good match after all. Her choice is courageous—she forgoes the role of wife and mother that her culture pressures her to accept—and the peace, sol- itude, and self-determination that she claims in return are worth the price of her rebellion against cultural norms. In “The Revolt of Mother,” Sarah Penn is a New England woman who has accepted the traditional role of wife and mother for herself; nevertheless, like Louisa, she revolts against established cultural expectations for women. Sarah refuses to accept her husband’s dismissive attitude when she argues that the farming family needs a new house. Instead, she enacts a revolt where she, through action likened to a military general storming a fortress, makes the statement that her work on the family farm within the domestic sphere is just as important as her husband’s work as a farmer. Freeman’s fiction, as does Jewett’s, often moves beyond simply regional concerns to explore wider issues of women’s roles in late nineteenth-century America, thus approaching an early feminist realism.

2.9.1 “A New England Nun”

It was late in the afternoon, and the light was waning. There was a difference in the look of the tree shadows out in the yard. Somewhere in the distance cows were lowing, and a little bell was tinkling; now and then a farm-wagon tilted by, and the dust flew; some blue-shirted laborers with shovels over their shoulders plodded past; little swarms of flies were dancing up and down before the peoples’ faces in the soft air. There seemed to be a gentle stir arising over everything, for the mere sake of subsidences very premonition of rest and hush and night. This soft diurnal commotion was over Louisa Ellis also. She had been peaceful- ly sewing at her sitting-room window all the afternoon. Now she quilted her needle carefully into her work, which she folded precisely, and laid in a basket with her thimble and thread and scissors. Louisa Ellis could not remember that ever in her life she had mislaid one of these little feminine appurtenances, which had become, from long use and constant association, a very part of her personality. Louisa tied a green apron round her waist, and got out a flat straw hat with a green ribbon. Then she went into the garden with a little blue crockery bowl, to pick some currants for her tea. After the currants were picked she sat on the back

Page | 158 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) door-step and stemmed them, collecting the stems carefully in her apron, and af- terwards throwing them into the hen-coop. She looked sharply at the grass beside the step to see if any bad fallen there. Louisa was slow and still in her movements; it took her a long time to pre- pare her tea; but when ready it was set forth with as much grace as if she bad been a veritable guest to her own self. The little square table stood exactly in the centre of the kitchen, and was covered with a starched linen cloth whose bor- der pattern of flowers glistened. Louisa had a damask napkin on her tea-tray, where were arranged a cut—lass tumbler full of teaspoons, a silver cream-pitcher, a china sugar-bowl, and one pink china cup and saucer. Louisa used china every day-something which none of her neighbors did. They whispered about it among themselves. Their daily tables were laid with common crockery, their sets of best china stayed in the parlor closet, and Louisa Ellis was no richer nor better bred than they. Still she would use the china. She had for her supper a glass dish full of sugared currants, a plate of little cakes, and one of little white biscuits. Also a leaf or two of lettuce, which she cut up daintily. Louisa was very fond of lettuce, which she raised to perfection in her little garden. She ate quite heartily, though, in a delicate, pecking, way; it seemed almost surprising that any considerable bulk of should vanish. After tea she filled a plate with nicely baked thin corn- cakes, and carried them out into the back-yard. “Caesar!” she called. “Caesar! Caesar!” There was a little rush, and the clank of a chain, and a large yellow-and-white dog appeared at the door of his tiny hut, which was half hidden among the tall grasses and flowers. Louisa patted him and gave him the corn-cakes. Then she returned to the house and washed the tea-things, polishing the china carefully. The twilight had deepened; the chorus of the frogs floated in at the open window wonderfully loud and shrill, and once in a while a long sharp drone from a tree- toad pierced it. Louisa took off her green gingham apron, disclosing a shorter one of pink and white print. She lighted her lamp, and sat down again with her sewing. In about half an hour Joe Dagget came. She heard his heavy step on the walk, and rose and took off her pink-and- white apron. Under that was still another-white linen with a little cambric edging on the bottom; that was Louisa’s company apron. She never wore it without her calico sewing apron over it unless she had a guest. She had barely folded the pink and white one with methodical haste and laid it in a table-drawer when the door opened and Joe Dagget entered. He seemed to fill up the whole room. A little yellow canary that had been asleep in his green cage at the south window woke up and fluttered wildly, beating his little yellow wings against the wires. He always did so when Joe Dagget came into the room. “Good-evening,” said Louisa. She extended her hand with a kind of solemn cordiality. “Good-evening, Louisa,” returned the man, in a loud voice.

Page | 159 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

She placed a chair for him, and they sat facing each other, with the table be- tween them. He sat bolt-upright, toeing out his heavy feet squarely, glancing with a good-humored uneasiness around the room. She sat gently erect, folding her slender hands in her white-linen lap. “Been a pleasant day,” remarked Dagget. “Real pleasant,” Louisa assented, softly. “Have you been haying?” she asked, after a little while. “Yes, I’ve been baying all day, down in the ten-acre lot. Pretty hot work.” “It must be.” “Yes, it’s pretty hot work in the sun.” “Is your mother well to-day?” “Yes, mother’s pretty well.” “I suppose Lily Dyer’s with her now?” Dagget colored. “Yes, she’s with her,” he answered, slowly. He was not very young, but there was a boyish look about his large face. Louisa was not quite as old as he, her face was fairer and smoother, but she gave people the impression of being older. “I suppose she’s a good deal of help to your mother,” she said, further. “I guess she is; I don’t know how mother’d get along without her,” said Dagget, with a sort of embarrassed warmth. “She looks like a real capable girl. She’s pretty-looking too,” remarked Louisa. “Yes, she is pretty fair looking.” Presently Dagget began fingering the books on the table. There was a square red autograph , and a Young Lady’s Gift-Book which had belonged to Loui- sa’s mother. He took them up one after the other and opened them then laid them down again, the album on the Gift-Book. Louisa kept eying them with mild uneasiness. Finally she rose and changed the position of the books, putting the album underneath. That was the way they had been arranged in the first place. Dagget gave an awkward little laugh. “ Now what difference did it make which book was on top?” said he. Louisa looked at him with a deprecating smile. “ I always keep them that way,” murmured she. “You do beat everything,” said Dagget, trying to laugh again. His large face was flushed. He remained about an hour longer, then rose to take leave. Going out, he stum- bled over a rug, and trying to recover himself, hit Louisa’s work-basket on the ta- ble, and knocked it on the floor. He looked at Louisa, then at the rolling spools; he ducked himself awkwardly toward them, but she stopped him. “ Never mind,” said she I’ll pick them up after you’re gone.” She spoke with a mild stiffness. Either she was a little disturbed, or his nervous- ness affected her, and made her seem constrained in her effort to reassure him.

Page | 160 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

When Joe Dagget was outside he drew in the sweet evening air with a sigh, and felt much as an innocent and perfectly well-intentioned bear might after his exit from a china shop. Louisa, on her part, felt much as the kind-hearted, long- suffering owner of the china shop might have done after the exit of the bear. She tied on the pink, then the green apron, picked up all the scattered treasures and replaced them in her work- basket, and straightened the rug. Then she set the lamp on the floor, and began sharply examining the carpet. She even rubbed her fingers over it, and looked at them. “He’s tracked in a good deal of dust,” she murmured. “I thought he must have.” Louisa got a dust-pan and brush, and swept Joe Dagget’s track carefully. If he could have known it, it would have increased his perplexity and Uneasi- ness, although it would not have disturbed his loyalty in the least. He came twice a week to see Louisa Ellis, and every time, sitting there in her delicately sweet room, he felt as if surrounded by a hedge of lace. He was afraid to stir lest he should put a clumsy foot or hand through the fairy web, and he had always the consciousness that Louisa was watching fearfully lest he should. Still the lace and Louisa commanded perforce his perfect respect and patience and loyalty. They were to be married in a month, after a singular courtship which had lasted for a matter of fifteen years. For fourteen out of the fifteen years the two had not once seen each other, and they bad seldom exchanged letters. Joe had been all those years in Australia, where he had gone to make his fortune, and where be had stayed until be made it. He would have stayed fifty years if it had taken so long, and come home feeble and tottering, or never come home at all, to marry Louisa. But the fortune had been made in the fourteen years, and he had come home now to marry the woman who had been patiently and unquestioningly waiting for him all that time. Shortly after they were engaged he had announced to Louisa his determination to strike out into new fields, and secure a competency before they should be mar- ried. She had listened and assented with the sweet serenity which never failed her, not even when her lover set forth on that long and uncertain journey. Joe, buoyed up as he was by his sturdy determination, broke down a little at the last, but Louisa kissed him with a mild blush, and said good-by. “It won’t be for long,” poor Joe had said, huskily; but it was for fourteen years. In that length of time much had happened. Louisa’s mother and brother had died, and she was all alone in the world. But greatest of all-a subtle hap- pening which both were too simple to understand-Louisa’s feet had turned into a path, smooth maybe under a calm, serene sky, but so straight and unswerving that it could only meet a check at her grave, and so narrow that there was no room for any one at her side. Louisa’s first emotion when Joe Dagget came home (he had not apprised her of his coming) was consternation, although she would not admit it to herself, and he never dreamed of it. Fifteen years ago she had been in love with him-at least

Page | 161 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) she considered herself to be. Just at that time, gently acquiescing with and falling into the natural drift of girlhood, she had seen marriage ahead as a reasonable fea- ture and a probable desirability of life. She had listened with came docility to her mother’s views upon the subject. Her mother was remarkable for her cool sense and sweet, even temperament. She talked wisely to her daughter when Joe Dagget presented himself, and Louisa accepted him with no hesitation. He was the first lover she had ever had. She had been faithful to him all these years. She had never dreamed of the possibility of marrying any one else. Her life, especially for the last seven years, had been full of a pleasant peace, she had never felt discontented nor impatient over her lover’s absence; still she had always looked forward to his return and their marriage as the inevitable conclusion of things. However she had fallen into a way of placing it so far in the future that it was almost equal to placing it over the boundaries of another life. When Joe came she had been expecting him, and expecting to be married for fourteen years, but she was as much surprised and taken aback as if she had never thought of it. Joe’s consternation came later. He eyed Louisa with an instant confirmation of his old admiration. She had changed but little. She still kept her pretty manner and soft grace, and was, he considered, every whit as attractive as ever. As for himself, his stent was done; he had turned his face away from fortune-seeking, and the old winds of romance whistled as loud and sweet as ever through his ears. All the song which he had been wont to hear in them was Louisa; he had for a long time a loyal belief that he heard it still, but finally it seemed to him that although the winds sang always that one song, it had another name. But for Louisa the wind had never more than murmured; now it hid gone down, and everything was still. She listened for a little while with half-wistful attention then she turned quietly away and went to work on her wedding clothes. Joe had made some extensive and quite magnificent alterations in his house. It was the old homestead; the newly-married couple would live there, for Joe could not desert his mother, who refused to leave her old home. So Louisa must leave hers. Every morning rising and going about among her neat maidenly possessions, she felt as one looking her last upon the faces of dear friends. It was true that in a measure she could take them with her, but, robbed of their old environments, they would appear in such new guises that they would almost cease to be themselves. Then there were some peculiar features of her happy solitary life which she would probably be obliged to relinquish altogether. Sterner tasks than these graceful but half-needless ones would probably devolve upon her. There would be a large house to care for; there would be company to entertain; there would be Joe’s rigorous and feeble old mother to wait upon; and it would be contrary to all thrifty village traditions for her to keep more than one servant. Louisa had a little still, and she used to occupy herself pleasantly in summer weather with distilling the sweet and aromatic essences from roses and peppermint and spear- mint. By-and-by her still

Page | 162 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) must be laid away. Her store of essences was already considerable, and there would be no time for her to distil for the mere pleasure of it. Then Joe’s mother would think it foolishness; she had already hinted her opinion in the matter. Louisa dear- ly loved to sew a linen scam, not always for use, but for the simple, mild pleasure which she took in it. She would have been loath to confess how more than once she had ripped a seam for the mere delight of sewing it together again. Sitting at her window during long sweet afternoons, drawing her needle gently through the dain- ty fabric, she was peace itself. But there was small chance of such foolish comfort in the future. Joe’s mother, domineering, shrewd old matron that she was even in her old age, and very likely even Joe himself, with his honest masculine rudeness, would laugh and frown down all these pretty but senseless old maiden ways. Louisa had almost the enthusiasm of an artist over the mere order and clean- liness of her solitary home. She had throbs of genuine triumph at the sight of the windowpanes which she had polished until they shone like jewels. She gloated gen- tly over her orderly bureau-drawers, with their exquisitely folded contents red- olent with lavender and sweet clover and very . Could she be sure of the endurance of even this? She had visions, so startling that she half repudiated them as indelicate, of coarse masculine belongings strewn about in endless litter; of dust and disorder arising necessarily from a coarse masculine presence in the midst of all this delicate harmony. Among her forebodings of disturbance, not the least was with regard to Caesar. Caesar was a veritable hermit of a dog. For the greater part of his life he had dwelt in his secluded hut, shut out from the society of his kind and all innocent canine joys. Never had Caesar since his early youth watched at a woodchuck’s hole; never had he known the delights of a stray bone at a neighbor’s kitchen door. And it was all on account of a sin committed when hardly out of his puppyhood. No one knew the possible depth of remorse of which this mild-visaged, altogether innocent-looking old dog might be capable - but whether or not he had encountered remorse, he had encountered a full measure of righteous retribution. Old Caesar seldom lifted up his voice in a growl or a bark; he was fat and sleepy; there were yellow rings which looked like spectacles around his dim old eyes; but there was a neighbor who bore on his hand the imprint of several of Caesar’s sharp white youthful teeth, and for that be had lived at the end of a chain, all alone in a little but, for fourteen years. The neighbor, who was choleric and smarting with the pain of his wound, had demanded either Caesar’s death or complete ostracism. So Louisa’s brother, to whom the dog had belonged, had built him his little kennel and tied him up. It was now fourteen years since, in a flood of youthful spirits, he had inflicted that memorable bite, and with the exception of short excursions, always at the end of the chain, under the strict guardianship of his master or Louisa, the old dog had remained a close prisoner. It is doubtful if, with his limited ambition, he took much pride in the fact, but it is certain that lie was possessed of considerable cheap fame, He was regarded by all the children in the village and by many adults as a very monster of ferocity. St. George’s dragon could hardly have surpassed in evil repute Louisa Ellis’s old yellow dog. Mothers cleared their children with sol-

Page | 163 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) emn emphasis not to near to him, and the children listened and believed greedily, with a fascinated appetite for terror, and ran by Louisa’s house stealthi- ly, with many sidelong and backward glances at the terrible dog. If perchance he sounded a hoarse bark, there was a panic. Wayfarers chancing into Louisa’s yard eyed him with respect, and inquired if the chain were stout. Caesar at large might have seemed a very ordinary dog, and excited no comment whatever - chained, his reputation overshadowed him, so that he lost his own proper outlines and looked darkly vague and enormous. Joe Dagget, however, with his good-humored sense and shrewdness, saw him as he was. He strode valiantly up to him and patted him on the bead, in spite of Louisa’s soft clamor of warning, and even attempted to set him loose. Louisa grew so alarmed that he desisted, but kept announcing his opinion in the matter quite forcibly at intervals. “There ain’t a better-natured dog in town,” be would say, “ and it’s down-right cruel to keep him tied up there. Some day I’m going to take him out.” Louisa had very little hope that be would not, one of these days, when their interests and possessions should be more completely fused in one. She pictured to herself Caesar on the rampage through the quiet and unguarded village. She saw innocent children bleeding in his path. She was herself very fond of the old dog, because he had belonged to her dead brother, and he was always very gentle with her; still she had great faith in his ferocity. She always warned people not to go too near him. She fed him on ascetic fare of corn-mush and cakes, and never fired his dangerous temper with heating and sanguinary diet of flesh and bones. Louisa looked at the old dog munching his simple fare, and thought of her approaching marriage and trembled. Still no anticipation of disorder and confusion in lieu of sweet peace and harmony, no forebodings of Caesar on the rampage, no wild flut- tering of her little yellow canary, were sufficient to turn her a hairsbreadth. Joe Dagget had been fond of her and working for her all these years. It was not for her, whatever came to pass, to prove untrue and break his heart. She put the exquisite little studies into her wedding-garments, and the time went on until it was only a week before her wedding-day. It was a Tuesday evening, and the wedding was to be a week from Wednesday. There was a full moon that night. About nine o’clock Louisa strolled down the road a little way. There were harvest-fields on either hand, bordered by low stone walls. Luxuriant clumps of bushes grew beside the wall, and trees—wild cherry and old apple-trees-at intervals. Presently Louisa sat down on the wall and looked about her with mildly sorrowful reflectiveness. Tall shrubs of blueberry and mead- ow-sweet, all woven together and tangled with blackberry vines and horsebriers, shut her in on either side. She had a little clear space between them. Opposite her, on the other side of the road, was a spreading tree; the moon shone between its boughs, and the leaves twinkled like silver. The road was bespread with a beautiful shifting dapple of silver and shadow; the air was full of a mysterious sweetness. “I wonder if it’s wild grapes?” murmured Louisa. She sat there some time. She was just thinking of rising, when she beard footsteps and low voices, and remained qui-

Page | 164 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) et. It was a lonely place, and she felt a little timid. She thought she would keep still in the shadow and let the persons, whoever they might be, pass her. But just before they reached her the voices ceased, and the footsteps. She un- derstood that. their owners had also found seats upon the stone wall. She was won- dering if she could not steal away unobserved, when the voice broke the stillness. It was Joe Dagget’s. She sat still and listened. The voice was announced by a loud sigh, which was as familiar as itself. “Well,” said Dagget, “you’ve made up your mind, then, I suppose ?” “Yes,” returned another voice; “I’m going, day after tomorrow.” “That’s Lily Dyer,” thought Louisa to herself. The voice embodied itself in her mind. She saw a girl tall and full-figured, with a firm, fair face, looking fairer and firmer in the moonlight, her strong yellow hair braided in a close knot. A girl full of a calm rustic strength and bloom, with a masterful way which might have be- seemed a princess. Lily Dyer was a favorite with the village folk; she had just the qualities to arouse the admiration. She was good and handsome and smart. Louisa had often heard her praises sounded. “Well,” said Joe Dagget, “I ain’t got a word to say.” “I don’t know what you could say,” returned Lily Dver. “Not a word to say,” repeated Joe, drawing out the words heavily. Then there was a silence. “ I ain’t sorry,” he began at last, “that that happened yesterday—that we kind of let on how we felt to each other. I guess it’s just as well we knew. Of course I can’t do anything any different. I’m going right on an’ get married next week. I ain’t going back on a woman that’s waited for me fourteen years, an’ break her heart.” “If you should jilt her to-morrow, I wouldn’t have you,” spoke up the girl, with sudden vehemence. “Well, I ain’t going to give you the chance,” said he; “but I don’t believe you would, either.” “You’d see I wouldn’t. Honor’s honor, an’ right’s right. An’ I’d never think any- thing of any man that went against ‘em for me or any other girl - you’d find that out, Joe Dagget.” “Well, you’ll find out fast enough that I ain’t going against ‘em for you or any other girl,” returned he. Their voices sounded almost as if they were angry with each other. Louisa was listening eagerly. “I’m sorry you feel as if you must go away,” said Joe, “but I don’t know but it’s best.” “Of course it’s best. I hope you and I have got common-sense.” “Well, I suppose you’re right.” Suddenly Joe’s voice got an undertone of ten- derness. “Say, Lily,” said he, “I’ll get along well enough myself, but I can’t bear to think—You don’t suppose you’re going to fret much over it?” “I guess you’ll find out I sha’n’t fret much over a married man.” “Well, I hope you won’t-I hope you won’t, Lily. God knows I do. And - I hope - one of these days - you’ll -come across somebody else—”

Page | 165 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t.” Suddenly her tone changed. She spoke in a sweet, clear voice, so loud that she could have been heard across the street. “No, Joe Dagget,” said she, “I’ll never marry any other man as long as I live. I’ve got good sense, an’ I ain’t going to break my heart nor make a fool of myself; but I’m never going to be married, you can be sure of that. I ain’t that sort of a girl to feel this way twice.” Louisa heard an exclamation and a soft commotion behind the bushes; then Lily spoke again-the voice sounded as if she had risen. “This must be put a stop to,” said she. “We’ve stayed here long enough. I’m going home.” Louisa sat there in a daze, listening to their retreating steps. After a while she got up and slunk softly home herself. The next day she did her housework me- thodically; that was as much a matter of course as breathing; but she did not sew on her wedding-clothes. She sat at her window and meditated. In the evening Joe came. Louisa Ellis had never known that she had any diplomacy in her, but when she came to look for it that night she found it, although meek of its kind, among her little feminine weapons. Even now she could hardly believe that she had heard aright, and that she would not do Joe a terrible injury should she break her troth- plight. She wanted to sound him without betraying too soon her own inclinations in the matter. She did it successfully, and they finally came to an understanding - but it was a difficult thing, for he was as afraid of betraying himself as she. She never mentioned Lily Dyer. She simply said that while she had no cause of complaint against him, she had lived so long in one way that she shrank from making a change. “Well, I never shrank, Louisa,” said Dagget. “I’m going to be honest enough to say that I think maybe it’s better this way; but if you’d wanted to keep on, I’d have stuck to you till my dying day. I hope you know that.” “Yes, I do,” said she. That night she and Joe parted more tenderly than they had done for a long time. Standing in the door, holding each other’s hands, a last great wave of regret- ful memory swept over them. “Well, this ain’t the way we’ve thought it was all going to end, is it, Louisa?” said Joe. She shook her head. There was a little quiver on her placid face. “You let me know if there’s ever anything I can do for you,” said he. “I ain’t ever going to forget you, Louisa.” Then he kissed her, and went down the path. Louisa, all alone by herself that night, wept a little, she hardly knew why, but the next morning, on waking, she felt like a queen who, after fearing lest her do- main be wrested away from her, sees it firmly insured in her possession. Now the tall weeds and grasses might cluster around Caesar’s little hermit hut, the snow might fall on its roof year in and year out, but he never would go on a rampage through the unguarded village. Now the little canary might turn itself into a peace- ful yellow ball night after night, and have no need to wake and flutter with wild terror against its bars. Louisa could sew linen seams, and distil roses, and dust and

Page | 166 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) polish and fold away in lavender, as long as she listed. That afternoon she sat with her needle-work at the window, and felt fairly steeped in peace. Lily Dyer, tall and erect and blooming, went past; but she felt no qualm. If Louisa Ellis had sold her birthright she did not know it, the taste of the pottage was so delicious, and had been her sole satisfaction for so long. Serenity and placid narrowness had become to her as the birthright itself. She gazed ahead through a long reach of future days strung together like pearls in a rosary, every one like the others, and all smooth and flawless and innocent, and her heart went up in thankfulness. Outside was the fer- vid sunnier afternoon; the air was filled with the sounds of the busy harvest of men and birds and bees; there were halloos, metallic clattering, sweet calls, and long hummings. Louisa sat, prayerfully numbering her days, like an uncloistered nun.

2.9.2 “The Revolt of ‘Mother’”

“Father!” “What is it?” “What are them men diggin’ over there in the field for?” There was a sudden dropping and enlarging of the lower part of the old man’s face, as if some heavy weight had settled therein; he shut his mouth tight, and went on harnessing the great bay mare. He hustled the collar on to her neck with a jerk. “Father!” The old man slapped the saddle upon the mare’s back. “Look here, father, I want to know what them men are diggin’ over in the field for, an’ I’m goin’ to know.” “I wish you’d go into the house, mother, an’ ‘tend to your own affairs,” the old man said then. He ran his words together, and his speech was almost as inarticu- late as a growl. But the woman understood; it was her most native tongue. “I ain’t goin’ into the house till you tell me what them men are doin’ over there in the field,” said she. Then she stood waiting. She was a small woman, short and straight-waisted like a child in her brown cotton gown. Her forehead was mild and benevolent be- tween the smooth curves of gray hair; there were meek downward lines about her nose and mouth; but her eyes, fixed upon the old man, looked as if the meekness had been the result of her own will, never of the will of another. They were in the barn, standing before the wide open doors. The spring air, full of the smell of growing grass and unseen blossoms, came in their faces. The deep yard in front was littered with farm wagons and piles of wood; on the edges, close to the fence and the house, the grass was a vivid green, and there were some dandelions. The old man glanced doggedly at his wife as he tightened the last buckles on the harness. She looked as immovable to him as one of the rocks in his pasture-land, bound to the earth with generations of blackberry vines. He slapped the reins over the horse, and started forth from the barn. “Father!” said she. The old man pulled up. “What is it?”

Page | 167 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I want to know what them men are diggin’ over there in that field for.” “They’re diggin’ a cellar, I s’pose, if you’ve got to know.” “A cellar for what?” “A barn.” “A barn? You ain’t goin’ to build a barn over there where we was goin’ to have a house, father?” The old man said not another word. He hurried the horse into the farm wagon, and clattered out of the yard, jouncing as sturdily on his seat as a boy. The woman stood a moment looking after him, then she went out of the barn across a corner of the yard to the house. The house, standing at right angles with the great barn and a long reach of sheds and out-buildings, was infinitesimal com- pared with them. It was scarcely as commodious for people as the little boxes un- der the barn eaves were for doves. A pretty girl’s face, pink and delicate as a flower, was looking out of one of the house windows. She was watching three men who were digging over in the field which bounded the yard near the road line. She turned quietly when the woman entered. “What are they diggin’ for, mother?” said she. “Did he tell you?” “They’re diggin’ for—a cellar for a new barn.” “Oh, mother, he ain’t goin’ to build another barn?” “That’s what he says.” A boy stood before the kitchen glass combing his hair. He combed slowly and painstakingly, arranging his brown hair in a smooth hillock over his forehead. He did not seem to pay any attention to the conversation. “Sammy, did you know father was goin’ to build a new barn?” asked the girl. The boy combed assiduously. “Sammy!” He turned, and showed a face like his father’s under his smooth crest of hair. “Yes, I s’pose I did,” he said, reluctantly. “How long have you known it?” asked his mother. “‘Bout three months, I guess.” “Why didn’t you tell of it?” “Didn’t think ‘twould do no good.” “I don’t see what father wants another barn for,” said the girl, in her sweet, slow voice. She turned again to the window, and stared out at the digging men in the field. Her tender, sweet face was full of a gentle distress. Her forehead was as bald and innocent as a baby’s, with the light hair strained back from it in a row of curl-papers. She was quite large, but her soft curves did not look as if they covered muscles. Her mother looked sternly at the boy. “Is he goin’ to buy more cows?” said she. The boy did not reply; he was tying his shoes. “Sammy, I want you to tell me if he’s goin’ to buy more cows.” “I s’pose he is.” “How many?”

Page | 168 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Four, I guess.” His mother said nothing more. She went into the pantry, and there was a clat- ter of dishes. The boy got his cap from a nail behind the door, took an old arithme- tic from the shelf, and started for school. He was lightly built, but clumsy. He went out of the yard with a curious spring in the hips, that made his loose home-made jacket tilt up in the rear. The girl went to the sink, and began to wash the dishes that were piled up there. Her mother came promptly out of the pantry, and shoved her aside. “You wipe ‘em,” said she; “I’ll wash. There’s a good many this mornin’.” The mother plunged her hands vigorously into the water, the girl wiped the plates slowly and dreamily. “Mother,” said she, “don’t you think it’s too bad fa- ther’s goin’ to build that new barn, much as we need a decent house to live in?” Her mother scrubbed a dish fiercely. “You ain’t found out yet we’re women-folks, Nanny Penn,” said she. “You ain’t seen enough of men-folks yet to. One of these days you’ll find it out, an’ then you’ll know that we know only what men-folks think we do, so far as any use of it goes, an’ how we’d ought to reckon men-folks in with Providence, an’ not complain of what they do any more than we do of the weather.” “I don’t care; I don’t believe George is anything like that, anyhow,” said Nanny. Her delicate face flushed pink, her lips pouted softly, as if she were going to cry. “You wait an’ see. I guess George Eastman ain’t no better than other men. You hadn’t ought to judge father, though. He can’t help it, ‘cause he don’t look at things jest the way we do. An’ we’ve been pretty comfortable here, after all. The roof don’t leak—ain’t never but once—that’s one thing. Father’s kept it shingled right up.” “I do wish we had a parlor.” “I guess it won’t hurt George Eastman any to come to see you in a nice clean kitchen. I guess a good many girls don’t have as good a place as this. Nobody’s ever heard me complain.” “I ain’t complained either, mother.” “Well, I don’t think you’d better, a good father an’ a good home as you’ve got. S’pose your father made you go out an’ work for your livin’? Lots of girls have to that ain’t no stronger an’ better able to than you be.” Sarah Penn washed the frying-pan with a conclusive air. She scrubbed the outside of it as faithfully as the inside. She was a masterly keeper of her box of a house. Her one living-room never seemed to have in it any of the dust which the friction of life with inanimate matter produces. She swept, and there seemed to be no dirt to go be- fore the broom; she cleaned, and one could see no difference. She was like an artist so perfect that he has apparently no art. To-day she got out a mixing bowl and a board, and rolled some pies, and there was no more flour upon her than upon her daughter who was doing finer work. Nanny was to be married in the fall, and she was sewing on some white cambric and embroidery. She sewed industriously while her mother cooked, her soft milk-white hands and wrists showed whiter than her delicate work. “We must have the stove moved out in the shed before long,” said Mrs. Penn. “Talk about not havin’ things, it’s been a real blessin’ to be able to put a stove up in

Page | 169 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) that shed in hot weather. Father did one good thing when he fixed that stove-pipe out there.” Sarah Penn’s face as she rolled her pies had that expression of meek vigor which might have characterized one of the New Testament saints. She was making mince-pies. Her husband, Adoniram Penn, liked them better than any other kind. She baked twice a week. Adoniram often liked a piece of pie between meals. She hurried this morning. It had been later than usual when she began, and she wanted to have a pie baked for dinner. However deep a resentment she might be forced to hold against her husband, she would never fail in sedulous attention to his wants. of character manifests itself at loop-holes when it is not provided with large doors. Sarah Penn’s showed itself to-day in flaky dishes of pastry. So she made the pies faithfully, while across the table she could see, when she glanced up from her work, the sight that rankled in her patient and steadfast soul—the dig- ging of the cellar of the new barn in the place where Adoniram forty years ago had promised her their new house should stand. The pies were done for dinner. Adoniram and Sammy were home a few min- utes after twelve o’clock. The dinner was eaten with serious haste. There was never much conversation at the table in the Penn family. Adoniram asked a blessing, and they ate promptly, then rose up and went about their work. Sammy went back to school, taking soft sly lopes out of the yard like a rabbit. He wanted a game of marbles before school, and feared his father would give him some chores to do. Adoniram hastened to the door and called after him, but he was out of sight. “I don’t see what you let him go for, mother,” said he. “I wanted him to help me unload that wood.” Adoniram went to work out in the yard unloading wood from the wagon. Sarah put away the dinner dishes, while Nanny took down her curl-papers and changed her dress. She was going down to the store to buy some more embroidery and thread. When Nanny was gone, Mrs. Penn went to the door. “Father!” she called. “Well, what is it!” “I want to see you jest a minute, father.” “I can’t leave this wood nohow. I’ve got to git it unloaded an’ go for a load of gravel afore two o’clock. Sammy had ought to helped me. You hadn’t ought to let him go to school so early.” “I want to see you jest a minute.” “I tell ye I can’t, nohow, mother.” “Father, you come here.” Sarah Penn stood in the door like a queen; she held her head as if it bore a crown; there was that patience which makes authority royal in her voice. Adoniram went. Mrs. Penn led the way into the kitchen, and pointed to a chair. “Sit down, fa- ther,” said she; “I’ve got somethin’ I want to say to you.” He sat down heavily; his face was quite stolid, but he looked at her with restive eyes. “Well, what is it, mother?”

Page | 170 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I want to know what you’re buildin’ that new barn for, father?” “I ain’t got nothin’ to say about it.” “It can’t be you think you need another barn?” “I tell ye I ain’t got nothin’ to say about it, mother; an’ I ain’t goin’ to say nothin’.” “Be you goin’ to buy more cows?” Adoniram did not reply; he shut his mouth tight. “I know you be, as well as I want to. Now, father, look here”—Sarah Penn had not sat down; she stood before her husband in the humble fashion of a Scripture woman—“I’m goin’ to talk real plain to you; I never have sence I married you, but I’m goin’ to now. I ain’t never complained, an’ I ain’t goin’ to complain now, but I’m goin’ to talk plain. You see this room here, father; you look at it well. You see there ain’t no carpet on the floor, an’ you see the paper is all dirty, an’ droppin’ off the walls. We ain’t had no new paper on it for ten year, an’ then I put it on myself, an’ it didn’t cost but ninepence a roll. You see this room, father; it’s all the one I’ve had to work in an’ eat in an’ sit in sence we was married. There ain’t another wom- an in the whole town whose husband ain’t got half the means you have but what’s got better. It’s all the room Nanny’s got to have her company in; an’ there ain’t one of her mates but what’s got better, an’ their fathers not so able as hers is. It’s all the room she’ll have to be married in. What would you have thought, father, if we had had our weddin’ in a room no better than this? I was married in my mother’s parlor, with a carpet on the floor, an’ stuffed furniture, an’ a mahogany card-table. An’ this is all the room my daughter will have to be married in. Look here, father!” Sarah Penn went across the room as though it were a tragic stage. She flung open a door and disclosed a tiny bedroom, only large enough for a bed and bureau, with a path between. “There, father,” said she—“there’s all the room I’ve had to sleep in forty year. All my children were born there—the two that died, an’ the two that’s livin’. I was sick with a fever there.” She stepped to another door and opened it. It led into the small, ill-lighted pan- try. “Here,” said she, “is all the buttery I’ve got—every place I’ve got for my dishes, to set away my victuals in, an’ to keep my milk-pans in. Father, I’ve been takin’ care of the milk of six cows in this place, an’ now you’re goin’ to build a new barn, an’ keep more cows, an’ give me more to do in it.” She threw open another door. A narrow crooked flight of stairs wound upward from it. “There, father,” said she, “I want you to look at the stairs that go up to them two unfinished chambers that are all the places our son an’ daughter have had to sleep in all their lives. There ain’t a prettier girl in town nor a more ladylike one than Nanny, an’ that’s the place she has to sleep in. It ain’t so good as your horse’s stall; it ain’t so warm an’ tight.” Sarah Penn went back and stood before her husband. “Now, father,” said she, “I want to know if you think you’re doin’ right an’ accordin’ to what you profess. Here, when we was married, forty year ago, you promised me faithful that we should have a new house built in that lot over in the field before the year was out. You said you had money enough, an’ you wouldn’t ask me to live in no such place as this. It

Page | 171 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) is forty year now, an’ you’ve been makin’ more money, an’ I’ve been savin’ of it for you ever since, an’ you ain’t built no house yet. You’ve built sheds an’ cow-houses an’ one new barn, an’ now you’re goin’ to build another. Father, I want to know if you think it’s right. You’re lodgin’ your dumb beasts better than you are your own flesh an’ blood. I want to know if you think it’s right.” “I ain’t got nothin’ to say.” “You can’t say nothin’ without ownin’ it ain’t right, father. An’ there’s another thing—I ain’t complained; I’ve got along forty year, an’ I s’pose I should forty more, if it wa’n’t for that—if we don’t have another house. Nanny she can’t live with us after she’s married. She’ll have to go somewheres else to live away from us, an’ it don’t seem as if I could have it so, noways, father. She wa’n’t ever strong. She’s got consid- erable color, but there wa’n’t never any backbone to her. I’ve always took the heft of everything off her, an’ she ain’t fit to keep house an’ do everything herself. She’ll be all worn out inside of a year. Think of her doin’ all the washin’ an’ ironin’ an’ bakin’ with them soft white hands an’ arms, an’ sweepin’! I can’t have it so, noways, father.” Mrs. Penn’s face was burning; her mild eyes gleamed. She had pleaded her little cause like a Webster; she had ranged from severity to pathos; but her oppo- nent employed that obstinate silence which makes eloquence futile with mocking echoes. Adoniram arose clumsily. “Father, ain’t you got nothin’ to say?” said Mrs. Penn. “I’ve got to go off after that load of gravel. I can’t stan’ here talkin’ all day.” “Father, won’t you think it over, an’ have a house built there instead of a barn?” “I ain’t got nothin’ to say.” Adoniram shuffled out. Mrs. Penn went into her bedroom. When she came out, her eyes were red. She had a roll of unbleached cotton cloth. She spread it out on the kitchen table, and began cutting out some shirts for her husband. The men over in the field had a team to help them this afternoon; she could hear their halloos. She had a scanty pattern for the shirts; she had to plan and piece the sleeves. Nanny came home with her embroidery, and sat down with her needlework. She had taken down her curl-papers, and there was a soft roll of fair hair like an aureole over her forehead; her face was as delicately fine and clear as porcelain. Suddenly she looked up, and the tender red flamed all over her face and neck. “Mother,” said she. “What say?” “I’ve been thinking—I don’t see how we’re goin’ to have any—wedding in this room. I’d be ashamed to have his folks come if we didn’t have anybody else.” “Mebbe we can have some new paper before then; I can put it on. I guess you won’t have no call to be ashamed of your belongin’s.” “We might have the wedding in the new barn,” said Nanny, with gentle pettish- ness. “Why, mother, what makes you look so?” Mrs. Penn had started, and was staring at her with a curious expression. She turned again to her work, and spread out a pattern carefully on the cloth. “Nothin’,” said she.

Page | 172 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Presently Adoniram clattered out of the yard in his two-wheeled dump cart, standing as proudly upright as a Roman charioteer. Mrs. Penn opened the door and stood there a minute looking out; the halloos of the men sounded louder. It seemed to her all through the spring months that she heard nothing but the halloos and the noises of saws and hammers. The new barn grew fast. It was a fine edifice for this little village. Men came on pleasant Sundays, in their meeting suits and clean shirt bosoms, and stood around it admiringly. Mrs. Penn did not speak of it, and Adoniram did not mention it to her, although sometimes, upon a return from inspecting it, he bore himself with injured dignity. “It’s a strange thing how your mother feels about the new barn,” he said, confi- dentially, to Sammy one day. Sammy only grunted after an odd fashion for a boy; he had learned it from his father. The barn was all completed ready for use by the third week in July. Adoniram had planned to move his stock in on Wednesday; on Tuesday he received a letter which changed his plans. He came in with it early in the morning. “Sammy’s been to the post-office,” said he, “an’ I’ve got a letter from Hiram.” Hiram wasMrs. Penn’s brother, who lived in Vermont. “Well,” said Mrs. Penn, “what does he say about the folks?” “I guess they’re all right. He says he thinks if I come up country right off there’s a chance to buy jest the kind of a horse I want.” He stared reflectively out of the window at the new barn. Mrs. Penn was making pies. She went on clapping the rolling-pin into the crust, although she was very pale, and her heart beat loudly. “I dun’ know but what I’d better go,” said Adoniram. “I hate to go off jest now, right in the midst of hayin’, but the ten-acre lot’s cut, an’ I guess Rufus an’ the others can git along without me three or four days. I can’t get a horse round here to suit me, nohow, an’ I’ve got to have another for all that wood-haulin’ in the fall. I told Hiram to watch out, an’ if he got wind of a good horse to let me know. I guess I’d better go.” “I’ll get out your clean shirt an’ collar,” said Mrs. Penn calmly. She laid out Adoniram’s Sunday suit and his clean clothes on the bed in the little bedroom. She got his shaving-water and razor ready. At last she buttoned on his collar and fastened his black cravat. Adoniram never wore his collar and cravat except on extra occasions. He held his head high, with a rasped dignity. When he was all ready, with his coat and hat brushed, and a lunch of pie and cheese in a paper bag, he hesitated on the thresh- old of the door. He looked at his wife, and his manner was defiantly apologetic. “If them cows come to-day, Sammy can drive ‘em into the new barn,” said he; “an’ when they bring the hay up, they can pitch it in there.” “Well,” replied Mrs. Penn. Adoniram set his shaven face ahead and started. When he had cleared the door-step, he turned and looked back with a kind of nervous solemnity. “I shall be back by Saturday if nothin’ happens,” said he.

Page | 173 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Do be careful, father,” returned his wife. She stood in the door with Nanny at her elbow and watched him out of sight. Her eyes had a strange, doubtful expression in them; her peaceful forehead was contracted. She went in, and about her baking again. Nanny sat sewing. Her wed- ding-day was drawing nearer, and she was getting pale and thin with her steady sewing. Her mother kept glancing at her. “Have you got that pain in your side this mornin’?” she asked. “A little.” Mrs. Penn’s face, as she worked, changed, her perplexed forehead smoothed, her eyes were steady, her lips firmly set. She formed a maxim for herself, although incoherently with her unlettered thoughts. “Unsolicited opportunities are the guide-posts of the Lord to the new roads of life,” she repeated in effect, and she made up her mind to her course of action. “S’posin’ I had wrote to Hiram,” she muttered once, when she was in the pantry—“s’posin’ I had wrote, an’ asked him if he knew of any horse? But I didn’t, an’ father’s goin’ wa’n’t none of my doin’. It looks like a providence.” Her voice rang out quite loud at the last. “What you talkin’ about, mother?” called Nanny. “Nothin’.” Mrs. Penn hurried her baking; at eleven o’clock it was all done. The load of hay from the west field came slowly down the cart track, and drew up at the new barn. Mrs. Penn ran out. “Stop!” she screamed—“stop!” The men stopped and looked; Sammy upreared from the top of the load, and stared at his mother. “Stop!” she cried out again. “Don’t you put the hay in that barn; put it in the old one.” “Why, he said to put it in here,” returned one of the haymakers, wonderingly. He was a young man, a neighbor’s son, whom Adoniram hired by the year to help on the farm. “Don’t you put the hay in the new barn; there’s room enough in the old one, ain’t there?” said Mrs. Penn. “Room enough,” returned the hired man, in his thick, rustic tones. “Didn’t need the new barn, nohow, far as room’s concerned. Well, I s’pose he changed his mind.” He took hold of the horses’ bridles. Mrs. Penn went back to the house. Soon the kitchen windows were darkened, and a fragrance like warm honey came into the room. Nanny laid down her work. “I thought father wanted them to put the hay into the new barn?” she said, wonderingly. “It’s all right,” replied her mother. Sammy slid down from the load of hay, and came in to see if dinner was ready. “I ain’t goin’ to get a regular dinner to-day, as long as father’s gone,” said his mother. “I’ve let the fire go out. You can have some bread an’ milk an’ pie. I thought we could get along.” She set out some bowls of milk, some bread, and a pie on the

Page | 174 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) kitchen table. “You’d better eat your dinner now,” said she. “You might jest as well get through with it. I want you to help me afterward.” Nanny and Sammy stared at each other. There was something strange in their mother’s manner. Mrs. Penn did not eat anything herself. She went into the pantry, and they heard her moving dishes while they ate. Presently she came out with a pile of plates. She got the clothes-basket out of the shed, and packed them in it. Nanny and Sammy watched. She brought out cups and saucers, and put them in with the plates. “What you goin’ to do, mother?” inquired Nanny, in a timid voice. A sense of something unusual made her tremble, as if it were a ghost. Sammy rolled his eyes over his pie. “You’ll see what I’m goin’ to do,” replied Mrs. Penn. “If you’re through, Nanny, I want you to go up-stairs an’ pack up your things; an’ I want you, Sammy, to help me take down the bed in the bedroom.” “Oh, mother, what for?” gasped Nanny. “You’ll see.” During the next few hours a feat was performed by this simple, pious New England mother which was equal in its way to Wolfe’s storming of the Heights of Abraham. It took no more genius and audacity of bravery for Wolfe to cheer his wondering soldiers up those steep precipices, under the sleeping eyes of the ene- my, than for Sarah Penn, at the head of her children, to move all their little house- hold goods into the new barn while her husband was away. Nanny and Sammy followed their mother’s instructions without a murmur; indeed, they were overawed. There is a certain uncanny and superhuman quality about all such purely original undertakings as their mother’s was to them. Nanny went back and forth with her light loads, and Sammy tugged with sober energy. At five o’clock in the afternoon the little house in which the Penns had lived for forty years had emptied itself into the new barn. Every builder builds somewhat for unknown purposes, and is in a measure a prophet. The architect of Adoniram Penn’s barn, while he designed it for the com- fort of four-footed animals, had planned better than he knew for the comfort of . Sarah Penn saw at a glance its possibilities. Those great box-stalls, with quilts hung before them, would make better bedrooms than the one she had occu- pied for forty years, and there was a tight carriage-room. The harness-room, with its chimney and shelves, would make a kitchen of her dreams. The great middle space would make a parlor, by-and-by, fit for a palace. Up stairs there was as much room as down. With partitions and windows, what a house would there be! Sarah looked at the row of stanchions before the allotted space for cows, and reflected that she would have her front entry there. At six o’clock the stove was up in the harness-room, the kettle was boiling, and the table set for tea. It looked almost as home-like as the abandoned house across the yard had ever done. The young hired man milked, and Sarah directed him calmly to bring the milk to the new barn. He came gaping, dropping little blots of foam from the brimming pails on the grass. Before the next morning he had spread

Page | 175 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) the story of Adoniram Penn’s wife moving into the new barn all over the little vil- lage. Men assembled in the store and talked it over, women with shawls over their heads scuttled into each other’s houses before their work was done. Any deviation from the ordinary course of life in this quiet town was enough to stop all progress in it. Everybody paused to look at the staid, independent figure on the side track. There was a difference of opinion with regard to her. Some held her to be insane; some, of a lawless and rebellious spirit. Friday the minister went to see her. It was in the forenoon, and she was at the barn door shelling pease for dinner. She looked up and returned his salutation with dignity, then she went on with her work. She did not invite him in. The saintly expression of her face remained fixed, but there was an angry flush over it. The minister stood awkwardly before her, and talked. She handled the pease as if they were bullets. At last she looked up, and her eyes showed the spirit that her meek front had covered for a lifetime. “There ain’t no use talkin’, Mr. Hersey,” said she. “I’ve thought it all over an’ over, an’ I believe I’m doin’ what’s right. I’ve made it the subject of prayer, an’ it’s betwixt me an’ the Lord an’ Adoniram. There ain’t no call for nobody else to worry about it.” “Well, of course, if you have brought it to the Lord in prayer, and feel satis- fied that you are doing right, Mrs. Penn,” said the minister, helplessly. His thin gray-bearded face was pathetic. He was a sickly man; his youthful confidence had cooled; he had to scourge himself up to some of his duties as relentlessly as a Catholic ascetic, and then he was prostrated by the smart. “I think it’s right jest as much as I think it was right for our forefathers to come over from the old country ‘cause they didn’t have what belonged to ‘em,” said Mrs. Penn. She arose. The barn threshold might have been Plymouth Rock from her bear- ing. “I don’t doubt you mean well, Mr. Hersey,” said she, “but there are things people hadn’t ought to interfere with. I’ve been a member of the church for over forty year. I’ve got my own mind an’ my own feet, an’ I’m goin’ to think my own thoughts an’ go my own ways, an’ nobody but the Lord is goin’ to dictate to me unless I’ve a mind to have him. Won’t you come in an’ set down? How is Mis’ Hersey?” “She is well, I thank you,” replied the minister. He added some more perplexed apologetic remarks; then he retreated. He could expound the intricacies of every character study in the Scriptures, he was competent to grasp the Pilgrim Fathers and all historical innovators, but Sarah Penn was beyond him. He could deal with primal cases, but parallel ones worsted him. But, after all, although it was aside from his province, he wondered more how Adoniram Penn would deal with his wife than how the Lord would. Everybody shared the won- der. When Adoniram’s four new cows arrived, Sarah ordered three to be put in the old barn, the other in the house shed where the cooking-stove had stood. That added to the excitement. It was whispered that all four cows were domiciled in the house. Toward sunset on Saturday, when Adoniram was expected home, there was a knot of men in the road near the new barn. The hired man had milked, but he still

Page | 176 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) hung around the premises. Sarah Penn had supper all ready. There were brown- bread and baked beans and a custard pie; it was the supper that Adoniram loved on a Saturday night. She had on a clean calico, and she bore herself imperturbably. Nanny and Sammy kept close at her heels. Their eyes were large, and Nanny was full of nervous tremors. Still there was to them more pleasant excitement than any- thing else. An inborn confidence in their mother over their father asserted itself. Sammy looked out of the harness-room window. “There he is,” he announced, in an awed whisper. He and Nanny peeped around the casing. Mrs. Penn kept on about her work. The children watched Adoniram leave the new horse stand- ing in the drive while he went to the house door. It was fastened. Then he went around to the shed. That door was seldom locked, even when the family was away. The thought how her father would be confronted by the cow flashed upon Nanny. There was a hysterical sob in her throat. Adoniram emerged from the shed and stood looking about in a dazed fashion. His lips moved; he was saying something, but they could not hear what it was. The hired man was peeping around a corner of the old barn, but nobody saw him. Adoniram took the new horse by the bridle and led him across the yard to the new barn. Nanny and Sammy slunk close to their mother. The barn doors rolled back, and there stood Adoniram, with the long mild face of the great Canadian farm horse looking over his shoulder. Nanny kept behind her mother, but Sammy stepped suddenly forward, and stood in front of her. Adoniram stared at the group. “What on airth you all down here for?” said he. “What’s the matter over to the house?” “We’ve come here to live, father,” said Sammy. His shrill voice quavered out bravely. “What”—Adoniram sniffed—“what is it smells like cookin’?” said he. He stepped forward and looked in the open door of the harness-room. Then he turned to his wife. His old bristling face was pale and frightened. “What on airth does this mean, mother?” he gasped. “You come in here, father,” said Sarah. She led the way into the harness-room and shut the door. “Now, father,” said she, “you needn’t be scared. I ain’t crazy. There ain’t nothin’ to be upset over. But we’ve come here to live, an’ we’re goin’ to live here. We’ve got jest as good a right here as new horses an’ cows. The house wa’n’t fit for us to live in any longer, an’ I made up my mind I wa’n’t goin’ to stay there. I’ve done my duty by you forty year, an’ I’m goin’ to do it now; but I’m goin’ to live here. You’ve got to put in some windows and partitions; an’ you’ll have to buy some furniture.” “Why, mother!” the old man gasped. “You’d better take your coat off an’ get washed—there’s the wash-basin—an’ then we’ll have supper.” “Why, mother!” Sammy went past the window, leading the new horse to the old barn. The old man saw him, and shook his head speechlessly. He tried to take off his coat, but his

Page | 177 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) arms seemed to lack the power. His wife helped him. She poured some water into the tin basin, and put in a piece of soap. She got the comb and brush, and smoothed his thin gray hair after he had washed. Then she put the beans, hot bread, and tea on the table. Sammy came in, and the family drew up. Adoniram sat looking dazed- ly at his plate, and they waited. “Ain’t you goin’ to ask a blessin’, father?” said Sarah. And the old man bent his head and mumbled. All through the meal he stopped eating at intervals, and stared furtively at his wife; but he ate well. The home food tasted good to him, and his old frame was too sturdily healthy to be affected by his mind. But after supper he went out, and sat down on the step of the smaller door at the right of the barn, through which he had meant his Jerseys to pass in stately file, but which Sarah designed for her front house door, and he leaned his head on his hands. After the supper dishes were cleared away and the milk-pans washed, Sarah went out to him. The twilight was deepening. There was a clear green glow in the sky. Before them stretched the smooth level of field; in the distance was a cluster of hay-stacks like the huts of a village; the air was very cool and calm and sweet. The landscape might have been an ideal one of peace. Sarah bent over and touched her husband on one of his thin, sinewy shoulders. “Father!” The old man’s shoulders heaved: he was weeping. “Why, don’t do so, father,” said Sarah. “I’ll—put up the—partitions, an’—everything you—want, mother.” Sarah put her apron up to her face; she was overcome by her own triumph. Adoniram was like a fortress whose walls had no active resistance, and went down the instant the right besieging tools were used. “Why, mother,” he said, hoarsely, “I hadn’t no idee you was so set on’t as all this comes to.”

2.9.3 Reading and Review Questions 1. In Freeman’s “A New England Nun,” analyze the confinement or restraint of the bird and the dog in the story and examine how such images contribute to the story’s theme. 2. In “A New England Nun,” compare Louisa Ellis and Lily Dyer. How are they similar or different? 3. Examine the concept of “order” in Freeman’s “A New England Nun.” Why is Louisa so concerned with order? 4. In “A New England Nun,” why is Louisa likened to an “artist” and later a “queen” in the story? 5. In Freeman’s “Revolt of Mother,” examine the term “revolt” in the title. What does it mean in terms of the story’s theme? 6. Examine the central conflict in “Revolt of Mother.” Who is revolting, and what is he or she rebelling against both literally and symbolically?

Page | 178 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

7. What happens to Adoniram when he changes his mind at the end of the story? What kind of conversion does he experience?

2.10 Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858 - 1932)

Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in 1858 in Cleveland, Ohio, to parents who were free Afri- can-Americans. The family moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, when Chesnutt was a young boy, and there Chesnutt attended school, eventually be- coming a teacher and later a principal. Chesnutt’s parents were mixed race, and Chesnutt himself could have identified as white but chose to identify as African-American. After he married, he and his wife returned to Cleveland where Chesnutt passed the bar exam in 1887 and opened a court report- Image 2.8 | Charles Waddell ing firm, providing a prosperous life for his wife Chesnutt, circa 1898 and four children. In Cleveland, Chesnutt began Photographer | Unknown submitting his stories for publication and soon en- Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain joyed success publishing a number of his stories in prominent literary magazines, gaining the attention of William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and other writers in the Realist literary movement. While Chesnutt was never able to support himself and his family with earnings from his writing, he continued to write and publish through the turn of the century. Later in his life, he devoted time and energy to political activism, serving on the General Commit- tee for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization formed in 1909. Chesnutt was one of the first successful African-American writers producing fiction during the period of American Literary Realism. Chesnutt capitalized on the popularity of Local Color fiction after the Civil War and crafted stories about the Old South, depicting, for example, slaves living on plantations interacting with white plantation owners. Some of his first short stories, including the often-anthologized “The Goophered Grapevine” (1887), began appearing in literary magazines in 1887 and then were collected in The Conjure Woman (1899). In these stories about folk culture and voodoo practices in the slave community and later in the freed Afri- can-American community during Reconstruction, Chesnutt cleverly borrows the plantation tradition popular in Local Color fiction as a form which he then sub- verts by depicting African-American characters with innate humanity, intelligence, shrewdness, and an ability to outwit those in power. In a second collection of sto- ries, The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories (1899), Chesnutt works with similar themes, exploring in “The Passing of Grandison,” for example, issues of “passing,” or the process by which light-skinned African-Americans could pass as whites. In

Page | 179 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) this story, Chesnutt uses the term in a broader context by presenting a supposedly humble, untutored slave named Grandison whose apparent dedication to the plan- tation’s master, Colonel Owens, is quite possibly an act of passing; in other words, Grandison wears the mask of submission as a slave in order to trick Colonel Owens into believing that Grandison is no threat to the hierarchical order of the plantation so that eventually his planning to escape with his family goes unnoticed. As the end- ing of the story indicates, Grandison is, in fact, a much more dimensional, complex, determined, and daring person than the Colonel can see or even imagine.

2.10.1 “The Passing of Grandison”

I When it is said that it was done to please a woman, there ought perhaps to be enough said to explain anything; for what a man will not do to please a woman is yet to be discovered. Nevertheless, it might be well to state a few preliminary facts to make it clear why young Dick Owens tried to run one of his father’s negro men off to Canada. In the early fifties, when the growth of anti-slavery sentiment and the constant drain of fugitive slaves into the North had so alarmed the slaveholders of the border States as to lead to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, a young white man from Ohio, moved by compassion for the sufferings of a certain bondman who happened to have a “hard master,” essayed to help the slave to freedom. The attempt was discovered and frustrated; the abductor was tried and convicted for slave-steal- ing, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the penitentiary. His death, after the expiration of only a small part of the sentence, from cholera contracted while nursing stricken fellow prisoners, lent to the case a melancholy interest that made it famous in anti-slavery annals. Dick Owens had attended the trial. He was a youth of about twenty-two, intel- ligent, handsome, and amiable, but extremely indolent, in a graceful and gentle- manly way; or, as old Judge Fenderson put it more than once, he was lazy as the Devil,—a mere figure of speech, of course, and not one that did justice to the Enemy of Mankind. When asked why he never did anything serious, Dick would good-na- turedly reply, with a well-modulated drawl, that he didn’t have to. His father was rich; there was but one other child, an unmarried daughter, who because of poor health would probably never marry, and Dick was therefore heir presumptive to a large estate. Wealth or social position he did not need to seek, for he was born to both. Charity Lomax had shamed him into studying law, but notwithstanding an hour or so a day spent at old Judge Fenderson’s office, he did not make remarkable headway in his legal studies. “What Dick needs,” said the judge, who was fond of tropes, as became a scholar, and of horses, as was befitting a Kentuckian, “is the whip of necessity, or the spur of ambition. If he had either, he would soon need the snaffle to hold him back.” But all Dick required, in fact, to prompt him to the most remarkable thing he accomplished before he was twenty-five, was a mere suggestion from Charity

Page | 180 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Lomax. The story was never really known to but two persons until after the war, when it came out because it was a good story and there was no particular reason for its concealment. Young Owens had attended the trial of this slave-stealer, or martyr,—either or both,—and, when it was over, had gone to call on Charity Lomax, and, while they sat on the veranda after sundown, had told her all about the trial. He was a good talker, as his career in later years disclosed, and described the proceedings very graphically. “I confess,” he admitted, “that while my principles were against the prison- er, my sympathies were on his side. It appeared that he was of good family, and that he had an old father and mother, respectable people, dependent upon him for support and comfort in their declining years. He had been led into the matter by pity for a negro whose master ought to have been run out of the county long ago for abusing his slaves. If it had been merely a question of old Sam Briggs’s negro, nobody would have cared anything about it. But father and the rest of them stood on the principle of the thing, and told the judge so, and the fellow was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary.” Miss Lomax had listened with lively interest. “I’ve always hated old Sam Briggs,” she said emphatically, “ever since the time he broke a negro’s leg with a piece of cordwood. When I hear of a cruel deed it makes the Quaker blood that came from my grandmother assert itself. Personally I wish that all Sam Briggs’s negroes would run away. As for the young man, I regard him as a hero. He dared something for humanity. I could love a man who would take such chances for the sake of others.” “Could you love me, Charity, if I did something heroic?” “You never will, Dick. You’re too lazy for any use. You’ll never do anything harder than playing cards or fox-hunting.” “Oh, come now, sweetheart! I’ve been courting you for a year, and it’s the hard- est work imaginable. Are you never going to love me?” he pleaded. His hand sought hers, but she drew it back beyond his reach. “I’ll never love you, Dick Owens, until you have done something. When that time comes, I’ll think about it.” wait. One must read two years to become a lawyer, and work five more to make a reputation. We shall both be gray by then.” “Oh, I don’t know,” she rejoined. “It does n’t require a lifetime for a man to prove that he is a man. This one did something, or at least tried to.” “Well, I’m willing to attempt as much as any other man. What do you want me to do, sweetheart? Give me a test.” “Oh, dear me!” said Charity, “I don’t care what you do, so you do something. Really, come to think of it, why should I care whether you do anything or not?” “I’m sure I don’t know why you should, Charity,” rejoined Dick humbly, “for I’m aware that I ‘m not worthy of it.” “Except that I do hate,” she added, relenting slightly, “to see a really clever man so utterly lazy and good for nothing.”

Page | 181 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Thank you, my dear; a word of praise from you has sharpened my wits al- ready. I have an idea! Will you love me if I run a negro off to Canada?” “What nonsense!” said Charity scornfully. “You must be losing your wits. Steal another man’s slave, indeed, while your father owns a hundred!” “Oh, there’ll be no trouble about that,” responded Dick lightly; “I’ll run off one of the old man’s; we ‘ve got too many anyway. It may not be quite as difficult as the other man found it, but it will be just as unlawful, and will demonstrate what I am capable of.” “Seeing ‘s believing,” replied Charity. “Of course, what you are talking about now is merely absurd. I’m going away for three weeks, to visit my aunt in Tennes- see. If you’re able to tell me, when I return, that you ‘ve done something to prove your quality, I’ll—well, you may come and tell me about it.”

II Young Owens got up about nine o’clock next morning, and while making his toilet put some questions to his personal attendant, a rather bright looking young mulatto of about his own age. “Tom,” said Dick. “Yas, Mars Dick,” responded the servant. “I ‘m going on a trip North. Would you like to go with me?” Now, if there was anything that Tom would have liked to make, it was a trip North. It was something he had long contemplated in the abstract, but had never been able to muster up sufficient courage to attempt in the concrete. He was pru- dent enough, however, to dissemble his feelings. “I would n’t min’ it, Mars Dick, ez long ez you’d take keer er me an’ fetch me home all right.” Tom’s eyes belied his words, however, and his young master felt well assured that Tom needed only a good opportunity to make him run away. Having a com- fortable home, and a dismal prospect in case of failure, Tom was not likely to take any desperate chances; but young Owens was satisfied that in a free State but little persuasion would be required to lead Tom astray. With a very logical and char- acteristic desire to gain his end with the least necessary expenditure of effort, he decided to take Tom with him, if his father did not object. Colonel Owens had left the house when Dick went to breakfast, so Dick did not see his father till luncheon. “Father,” he remarked casually to the colonel, over the fried chicken, “I’m feel- ing a trifle run down. I imagine my health would be improved somewhat by a little travel and change of scene.” “Why don’t you take a trip North?” suggested his father. The colonel added to paternal affection a considerable respect for his son as the heir of a large estate. He himself had been “raised” in comparative poverty, and had laid the foundations of his fortune by hard work; and while he despised the ladder by which he had climbed,

Page | 182 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) he could not entirely forget it, and unconsciously manifested, in his intercourse with his son, some of the poor man’s deference toward the wealthy and well-born. “I think I’ll adopt your suggestion, sir,” replied the son, “and to New York; and after I’ve been there awhile I may go on to Boston for a week or so. I’ve never been there, you know.” “There are some matters you can talk over with my factor in New York,” re- joined the colonel, “and while you are up there among the Yankees, I hope you’ll keep your eyes and ears open to find out what the rascally abolitionists are saying and doing. They’re becoming altogether too active for our comfort, and entirely too many ungrateful niggers are running away. I hope the conviction of that fellow yesterday may discourage the rest of the breed. I’d just like to catch any one trying to run off one of my darkeys. He’d get short shrift; I don’t think any Court would have a chance to try him.” “They are a pestiferous lot,” assented Dick, “and dangerous to our institutions. But say, father, if I go North I shall want to take Tom with me.” Now, the colonel, while a very indulgent father, had pronounced views on the subject of negroes, having studied them, as he often said, for a great many years, and, as he asserted oftener still, understanding them perfectly. It is scarcely worth while to say, either, that he valued more highly than if he had inherited them the slaves he had toiled and schemed for. “I don’t think it safe to take Tom up North,” he declared, with promptness and decision. “He’s a good enough boy, but too smart to trust among those low-down abolitionists. I strongly suspect him of having learned to read, though I can’t imag- ine how. I saw him with a newspaper the other day, and while he pretended to be looking at a woodcut, I’m almost sure he was reading the paper. I think it by no means safe to take him.” Dick did not insist, because he knew it was useless. The colonel would have obliged his son in any other matter, but his negroes were the outward and visible sign of his wealth and station, and therefore sacred to him. “Whom do you think it safe to take?” asked Dick. “I suppose I’ll have to have a body-servant.” “What’s the matter with Grandison?” suggested the colonel. “He’s handy enough, and I reckon we can trust him. He’s too fond of good eating, to risk losing his regular meals; besides, he’s sweet on your mother’s maid, Betty, and I’ve prom- ised to let ‘em get married before long. I’ll have Grandison up, and we’ll talk to him. Here, you boy Jack,” called the colonel to a yellow youth in the next room who was catching flies and pulling their wings off to pass the time, “go down to the barn and tell Grandison to come here.” “Grandison,” said the colonel, when the negro stood before him, hat in hand. “Yas, marster.” “Have n’t I always treated you right?” “Yas, marster.” “Haven’t you always got all you wanted to eat?”

Page | 183 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Yas, marster.” “And as much whiskey and tobacco as was good for you, Grandison?” “Y-a-s, marster.” “I should just like to know, Grandison, whether you don’t think yourself a great deal than those poor free negroes down by the plank road, with no kind master to look after them and no mistress to give them medicine when they’re sick and—and”— “Well, I sh’d jes’ reckon I is better off, suh, dan dem low-down free niggers, suh! Ef anybody ax ‘em who dey b’long ter, dey has ter say nobody, er e’se lie erbout it. Anybody ax me who I b’longs ter, I ain’ got no ‘casion ter be shame’ ter tell ‘em, no, suh, ‘deed I ain’, suh!” The colonel was beaming. This was true gratitude, and his feudal heart thrilled at such appreciative homage. What cold-blooded, heartless monsters they were who would break up this blissful relationship of kindly protection on the one hand, of wise subordination and loyal dependence on the other! The colonel always be- came indignant at the mere thought of such wickedness. “Grandison,” the colonel continued, “your young master Dick is going North for a few weeks, and I am thinking of letting him take you along. I shall send you on this trip, Grandison, in order that you may take care of your young master. He will need some one to wait on him, and no one can ever do it so well as one of the boys brought up with him on the old plantation. I am going to trust him in your hands, and I’m sure you’ll do your duty faithfully, and bring him back home safe and sound—to old Kentucky.” Grandison grinned. “Oh yas, marster, I’ll take keer er young Mars Dick.” “I want to warn you, though, Grandison,” continued the colonel impressively, “against these cussed abolitionists, who try to entice servants from their comfort- able homes and their indulgent masters, from the blue skies, the green fields, and the warm sunlight of their southern home, and send them away off yonder to Can- ada, a dreary country, where the woods are full of wildcats and wolves and bears, where the snow lies up to the eaves of the houses for six months of the year, and the cold is so severe that it freezes your breath and curdles your blood; and where, when runaway niggers get sick and can’t work, they are turned out to starve and die, unloved and uncared for. I reckon, Grandison, that you have too much sense to permit yourself to be led astray by any such foolish and wicked people.” “’Deed, suh, I would n’ low none er dem cussed, low-down abolitioners ter come nigh me, suh, I’d—I’d—would I be ‘lowed ter hit ‘em, suh?” “Certainly, Grandison,” replied the colonel, chuckling, “hit ‘em as hard as you can. I reckon they ‘d rather like it. Begad, I believe they would! It would serve ‘em right to be hit by a nigger!” “Er ef I did n’t hit ‘em, suh,” continued Grandison reflectively, “I’d tell Mars Dick, en he ‘d fix ‘em. He’d smash de face off’n ‘em, suh, I jes’ knows he would.” “Oh yes, Grandison, your young master will protect you. You need fear no harm while he is near.”

Page | 184 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“Dey won’t try ter steal me, will dey, marster?” asked the negro, with sudden alarm. “I don’t know, Grandison,” replied the colonel, lighting a fresh cigar. “They’re a desperate set of lunatics, and there ‘s no telling what they may re- sort to. But if you stick close to your young master, and remember always that he is your best friend, and understands your real needs, and has your true interests at heart, and if you will be careful to avoid strangers who try to talk to you, you ‘ll stand a fair chance of getting back to your home and your friends. And if you please your master Dick, he ‘ll buy you a present, and a string of beads for Betty to wear when you and she get married in the fall.” “Thanky, marster, thanky, suh,” replied Grandison, oozing gratitude at every pore; “you is a good marster, to be sho’, suh; yas, ‘deed you is. You kin jes’ bet me and Mars Dick gwine git ‘long jes’ lack I wuz own boy ter Mars Dick. En it won’t be my fault ef he don’ want me fer his boy all de time, w’en we come back home ag’in.” “All right, Grandison, you may go now. You need n’t work any more today, and here’s a piece of tobacco for you off my own plug.” “Thanky, marster, thanky, marster! You is de bes’ marster any nigger ever had in dis worl’.” And Grandison bowed and scraped and disappeared round the cor- ner, his jaws closing around a large section of the colonel’s best tobacco. “You may take Grandison,” said the colonel to his son. “I allow he’s abolition- ist-proof.”

III Richard Owens, Esq., and servant, from Kentucky, registered at the fashion- able New York hostelry for Southerners in those days, a hotel where an atmosphere congenial to Southern institutions was sedulously maintained. But there were ne- gro waiters in the dining-room, and mulatto bell-boys, and Dick had no doubt that Grandison, with the native gregariousness and garrulousness of his race, would foregather and palaver with them sooner or later, and Dick hoped that they would speedily inoculate him with the virus of freedom. For it was not Dick’s intention to say anything to his servant about his plan to free him, for obvious reasons. To men- tion one of them, if Grandison should go away, and by legal process be recaptured, his young master’s part in the matter would doubtless become known, which would be embarrassing to Dick, to say the least. If, on the other hand, he should merely give Grandison sufficient latitude, he had no doubt he would eventually lose him. For while not exactly skeptical about Grandison’s perfervid loyalty, Dick had been a somewhat keen observer of human nature, in his own indolent way, and based his expectations upon the force of the example and argument that his servant could scarcely fail to encounter. Grandison should have a fair chance to become free by his own initiative; if it should become necessary to adopt other measures to get rid of him, it would be time enough to act when the necessity arose; and Dick Owens was not the youth to take needless trouble. The young master renewed some acquaintances and made others, and spent a week or two very pleasantly in the best society of the metropolis, easily accessible

Page | 185 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) to a wealthy, well-bred young Southerner, with proper introductions. Young wom- en smiled on him, and young men of convivial habits pressed their hospitalities; but the memory of Charity’s sweet, strong face and clear blue eyes made him proof against the blandishments of the one sex and the persuasions of the other. Mean- while he kept Grandison supplied with pocket-money, and left him mainly to his own devices. Every night when Dick came in he hoped he might have to wait upon himself, and every morning he looked forward with pleasure to the prospect of making his toilet unaided. His hopes, however, were doomed to disappointment, for every night when he came in Grandison was on hand with a bootjack, and a nightcap mixed for his young master as the colonel had taught him to mix it, and every morning Grandison appeared with his master’s boots blacked and his clothes brushed, and laid his linen out for the day. “Grandison,” said Dick one morning, after finishing his toilet, “this is the chance of your life to go around among your own people and see how they live. Have you met any of them?” “Yas, suh, I’s seen some of ‘em. But I don’ keer nuffin fer ‘em, suh, Dey‘re diffe’nt f’m de niggers down ou’ way. Dey ‘lows dey ‘re free, but dey ain’ got sense ‘nuff ter know dey ain’ half as well off as dey would be down Souf, whar dey ‘d be ‘preciated.” When two weeks had passed without any apparent effect of evil example upon Grandison, Dick resolved to go on to Boston, where he thought the atmosphere might prove more favorable to his ends. After he had been at the Revere House for a day or two without losing Grandison, he decided upon slightly different tactics. Having ascertained from a city directory the addresses of several wellknown abolitionists, he wrote them each a letter something like this:—DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER:—A wicked slaveholder from Kentucky, stopping at the Revere House, has dared to insult the liberty-loving people of Boston by bringing his slave into their midst. Shall this be tolerated? Or shall steps be taken in the name of liberty to rescue a fellow-man from bondage? For obvious reasons I can only sign myself, A FRIEND OF HUMANITY. That his letter might have an opportunity to prove effective, Dick made it a point to send Grandison away from the hotel on various errands. On one of these occasions Dick watched him for quite a distance down the street. Grandison had scarcely left the hotel when a long-haired, sharp-featured man came out behind him, followed him, soon overtook him, and kept along beside him until they turned the next corner. Dick’s hopes were roused by this spectacle, but sank correspond- ingly when Grandison returned to the hotel. As Grandison said nothing about the encounter, Dick hoped there might be some self-consciousness behind this unex- pected reticence, the results of which might develop later on. But Grandison was on hand again when his master came back to the hotel at night, and was in attendance again in the morning, with hot water, to assist at his master’s toilet. Dick sent him on further errands from day to day, and upon one occasion came squarely up to him—inadvertently of course—while Grandison was engaged in conversation with a young white man in clerical garb. When Grandison

Page | 186 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) saw Dick approaching, he edged away from the preacher and hastened toward his master, with a very evident expression of relief upon his countenance. “Mars Dick,” he said, “dese yer abolitioners is jes’ pesterin’ de life out er me tryin’ ter git me ter run away. I don’ pay no ‘tention ter ‘em, but dey riles me so sometimes dat I’m feared I’ll hit some of ‘em some er dese days, an’ dat mought git me inter trouble. I ain’ said nuffin’ ter you ‘bout it, Mars Dick, fer I did n’ wanter ‘sturb yo’ min’; but I don’ like it, suh; no, suh, I don’! Is we gwine back home ‘fo’ long, Mars Dick?” “We’ll be going back soon enough,” replied Dick somewhat shortly, while he in- wardly cursed the stupidity of a slave who could be free and would not, and regis- tered a secret vow that if he were unable to get rid of Grandison without assassinating him, and were therefore compelled to take him back to Kentucky, he would see that Grandison got a taste of an article of slavery that would make him regret his wasted opportunities. Meanwhile he determined to tempt his servant yet more strongly. “Grandison,” he said next morning, “I’m going away for a day or two, but I shall leave you here. I shall lock up a hundred dollars in this drawer and give you the key. If you need any of it, use it and enjoy yourself,—spend it all if you like,—for this is probably the last chance you’ll have for some time to be in a free State, and you ‘d better enjoy your liberty while you may.” When he came back a couple of days later and found the faithful Grandison at his post, and the hundred dollars intact, Dick felt seriously annoyed. His vexation was increased by the fact that he could not express his feelings adequately. He did not even scold Grandison; how could he, indeed, find fault with one who so sensi- bly recognized his true place in the economy of civilization, and kept it with such touching fidelity? “I can’t say a thing to him,” groaned Dick. “He deserves a leather , made out of his own hide tanned. I reckon I’ll write to father and let him know what a model servant he has given me.” He wrote his father a letter which made the colonel swell with pride and plea- sure. “I really think,” the colonel observed to one of his friends, “that Dick ought to have the nigger interviewed by the Boston papers, so that they may see how contented and happy our darkeys really are.” Dick also wrote a long letter to Charity Lomax, in which he said, among many other things, that if she knew how hard he was working, and under what difficul- ties, to accomplish something serious for her sake, she would no longer keep him in suspense, but overwhelm him with love and admiration. Having thus exhausted without result the more obvious methods of getting rid of Grandison, and diplomacy having also proved a failure, Dick was forced to consider more radical measures. Of course he might run away himself, and aban- don Grandison, but this would be merely to leave him in the United States, where he was still a slave, and where, with his notions of loyalty, he would speedily be reclaimed. It was necessary, in order to accomplish the purpose of his trip to the North, to leave Grandison permanently in Canada, where he would be legally free.

Page | 187 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“I might extend my trip to Canada,” he reflected, “but that would be too palpa- ble. I have it! I’ll visit Niagara Falls on the way home, and lose him on the Canada side. When he once realizes that he is actually free, I’ll warrant that he’ll stay.” So the next day saw them westward bound, and in due course of time, by the somewhat slow conveyances of the period, they found themselves at Niagara. Dick walked and drove about the Falls for several days, taking Grandison along with him on most occasions. One morning they stood on the Canadian side, watching the wild whirl of the waters below them. “Grandison,” said Dick, raising his voice above the roar of the cataract, “do you know where you are now?” “I’s wid you, Mars Dick; dat’s all I keers.” “You are now in Canada, Grandison, where your people go when they run away from their masters. If you wished, Grandison, you might walk away from me this very minute, and I could not lay my hand upon you to take you back.” Grandison looked around uneasily. “Let’s go back ober de ribber, Mars Dick. I’s feared I’ll lose you ovuh heah, an’ den I won’ hab no marster, an’ won’t nebber be able to git back home no mo’.” Discouraged, but not yet hopeless, Dick said, a few minutes later,— “Grandison, I ‘m going up the road a bit, to the inn over yonder. You stay here until I return. I’ll not be gone a great while.” Grandison’s eyes opened wide and he looked somewhat fearful. “Is dey any er dem dadblasted abolitioners roun’ heah, Mars Dick?” “I don’t imagine that there are,” replied his master, hoping there might be. “But I ‘m not afraid of yourrunning away, Grandison. I only wish I were,” he added to himself. Dick walked leisurely down the road to where the whitewashed inn, built of stone, with true British solidity, loomed up through the trees by the roadside. Ar- rived there he ordered a glass of ale and a sandwich, and took a seat at a table by a window, from which he could see Grandison in the distance. For a while he hoped that the seed he had sown might have fallen on fertile ground, and that Grandi- son, relieved from the restraining power of a master’s eye, and finding himself in a free country, might get up and walk away; but the hope was vain, for Grandison remained faithfully at his post, awaiting his master’s return. He had seated himself on a broad flat stone, and, turning his eyes away from the grand and awe-inspiring spectacle that lay close at hand, was looking anxiously toward the inn where his master sat cursing his ill-timed fidelity. By and by a girl came into the room to serve his order, and Dick very naturally glanced at her; and as she was young and pretty and remained in attendance, it was some minutes before he looked for Grandison. When he did so his faithful servant had disappeared. To pay his reckoning and go away without the change was a matter quickly ac- complished. Retracing his footsteps toward the Falls, he saw, to his great disgust, as he approached the spot where he had left Grandison, the familiar form of his

Page | 188 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) servant stretched out on the ground, his face to the sun, his mouth open, sleeping the time away, oblivious alike to the grandeur of the scenery, the thunderous roar of the cataract, or the insidious voice of sentiment. “Grandison,” soliloquized his master, as he stood gazing down at his ebony encumbrance, “I do not deserve to be an American citizen; I ought not to have the advantages I possess over you; and I certainly am not worthy of Charity Lomax, if I am not smart enough to get rid of you. I have an idea! You shall yet be free, and I will be the instrument of your deliverance. Sleep on, faithful and affectionate servi- tor, and dream of the blue grass and the bright skies of old Kentucky, for it is only in your dreams that you will ever see them again!” Dick retraced his footsteps towards the inn. The young woman chanced to look out of the window and saw the handsome young gentleman she had waited on a few minutes before, standing in the road a short distance away, apparently engaged in earnest conversation with a colored man employed as hostler for the inn. She thought she saw something pass from the white man to the other, but at that mo- ment her duties called her away from the window, and when she looked out again the young gentleman had disappeared, and the hostler, with two other young men of the neighborhood, one white and one colored, were walking rapidly towards the Falls.

IV Dick made the journey homeward alone, and as rapidly as the conveyances of the day would permit. As he drew near home his conduct in going back with- out Grandison took on a more serious aspect than it had borne at any previous time, and although he had prepared the colonel by a letter sent several days ahead, there was still the prospect of a bad quarter of an hour with him; not, indeed, that his father would upbraid him, but he was likely to make searching inquiries. And notwithstanding the vein of quiet recklessness that had carried Dick through his preposterous scheme, he was a very poor liar, having rarely had occasion or incli- nation to tell anything but the truth. Any reluctance to meet his father was more than offset, however, by a stronger force drawing him homeward, for Charity Lo- max must long since have returned from her visit to her aunt in Tennessee. Dick got off easier than he had expected. He told a straight story, and a truthful one, so far as it went. The colonel raged at first, but rage soon subsided into anger, and anger mod- erated into annoyance, and annoyance into a sort of garrulous sense of injury. The colonel thought he had been hardly used; he had trusted this negro, and he had broken faith. Yet, after all, he did not blame Grandison so much as he did the ab- olitionists, who were undoubtedly at the bottom of it. As for Charity Lomax, Dick told her, privately of course, that he had run his father’s man, Grandison, off to Canada, and left him there. “Oh, Dick,” she had said with shuddering alarm, “what have you done? If they knew it they’d send you to the penitentiary, like they did that Yankee.” “But they don’t know it,” he had replied seriously; adding, with an injured tone, “you don’t seem to appreciate my heroism like you did that of ; perhaps

Page | 189 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) it’s because I was n’t caught and sent to the penitentiary. I thought you wanted me to do it.” “Why, Dick Owens!” she exclaimed. “You know I never dreamed of any such outrageous proceeding. “But I presume I’ll have to marry you,” she concluded, after some insistence on Dick’s part, “if only to take care of you. You are too reckless for anything; and a man who goes chasing all over the North, being entertained by New York and Bos- ton society and having negroes to throw away, needs some one to look after him.” “It’s a most remarkable thing,” replied Dick fervently, “that your views corre- spond exactly with my profoundest convictions. It proves beyond question that we were made for one another.” They were married three weeks later. As each of them had just returned from a journey, they spent their honeymoon at home. A week after the wedding they were seated, one afternoon, on the piazza of the colonel’s house, where Dick had taken his bride, when a negro from the yard ran down the lane and threw open the big gate for the colonel’s buggy to enter. The colonel was not alone. Beside him, ragged and travel-stained, bowed with weariness, and upon his face a haggard look that told of hardship and privation, sat the lost Grandison. The colonel alighted at the steps. “Take the lines, Tom,” he said to the man who had opened the gate, “and drive round to the barn. Help Grandison down,—poor devil, he’s so stiff he can hardly move!—and get a tub of water and wash him and rub him down, and feed him, and give him a big drink of whiskey, and then let him come round and see his young master and his new mistress.” The colonel’s face wore an expression compounded of joy and indignation,— joy at the restoration of a valuable piece of property; indignation for reasons he proceeded to state. “It’s astounding, the depths of depravity the human heart is capable of! I was coming along the road three miles away, when I heard some one call me from the roadside. I pulled up the mare, and who should come out of the woods but Grandi- son. The poor nigger could hardly crawl along, with of a broken limb. I was never more astonished in my life. You could have knocked me down with a feather. He seemed pretty far gone,—he could hardly talk above a whisper,—and I had to give him a mouthful of whiskey to brace him up so he could tell his story. It’s just as I thought from the beginning, Dick; Grandison had no notion of running away; he knew when he was well off, and where his friends were. All the persuasions of abolition liars and runaway niggers did not move him. But the desperation of those fanatics knew no bounds; their guilty consciences gave them no rest. They got the notion somehow that Grandison belonged to a nigger-catcher, and had been brought North as a spy to help capture ungrateful runaway servants. They actually kidnaped him—just think of it!—and gagged him and bound him and threw him rudely into a wagon, and carried him into the gloomy depths of a Canadian forest, and locked him

Page | 190 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) in a lonely hut, and fed him on bread and water for three weeks. One of the scoun- drels wanted to kill him, and persuaded the others that it ought to be done; but they got to quarreling about how they should do it, and before they had their minds made up Grandison escaped, and, keeping his back steadily to the North Star, made his way, after suffering incredible hardships, back to the old plantation, back to his mas- ter, his friends, and his home. Why, it’s as good as one of Scott’s novels! Mr. Simms or some other one of our Southern authors ought to write it up.” “Don’t you think, sir,” suggested Dick, who had calmly smoked his cigar throughout the colonel’s animated recital, “that that kidnaping yarn sounds a little improbable? Is n’t there some more likely explanation?” “Nonsense, Dick; it’s the gospel truth! Those infernal abolitionists are capable of anything—everything! Just think of their locking the poor, faithful nigger up, beating him, kicking him, depriving him of his liberty, keeping him on bread and water for three long, lonesome weeks, and he all the time pining for the old plantation!” There were almost tears in the colonel’s eyes at the picture of Grandison’s suf- ferings that he conjured up. Dick still professed to be slightly skeptical, and met Charity’s severely questioning eye with bland unconsciousness. The colonel killed the fatted calf for Grandison, and for two or three weeks the returned wanderer’s life was a slave’s dream of pleasure. His fame spread through- out the county, and the colonel gave him a permanent place among the house ser- vants, where he could always have him conveniently at hand to relate his adven- tures to admiring visitors. About three weeks after Grandison’s return the colonel’s faith in sable human- ity was rudely shaken, and its foundations almost broken up. He came near losing his belief in the fidelity of the negro to his master,—the servile virtue most high- ly prized and most sedulously cultivated by the colonel and his kind. One Mon- day morning Grandison was missing. And not only Grandison, but his wife, Betty the maid; his mother, aunt Eunice; his father, uncle Ike; his brothers, Tom and John, and his little sister Elsie, were likewise absent from the plantation; and a hurried search and inquiry in the neighborhood resulted in no information as to their whereabouts. So much valuable property could not be lost without an effort to recover it, and the wholesale nature of the transaction carried consternation to the hearts of those whose ledgers were chiefly bound in black. Extremely energetic measures were taken by the colonel and his friends. The fugitives were traced, and followed from point to point, on their northward run through Ohio. Several times the hunters were close upon their heels, but the magnitude of the escaping party begot unusual vigilance on the part of those who sympathized with the fugitives, and strangely enough, the underground railroad seemed to have had its tracks cleared and signals set for this particular train. Once, twice, the colonel thought he had them, but they slipped through his fingers. One last glimpse he caught of his vanishing property, as he stood, accompanied by a United States marshal, on a wharf at a port on the south shore of Lake Erie. On the stern of a small steamboat which was receding rapidly from the wharf, with her nose pointing toward Canada,

Page | 191 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) there stood a group of familiar dark faces, and the look they cast backward was not one of longing for the fleshpots of Egypt. The colonel saw Grandison point him out to one of the crew of the vessel, who waved his hand derisively toward the colonel. The latter shook his fist impotently—and the incident was closed.

2.10.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. What elements of Local Color do you see in “The Passing of Grandison”? How does the story exhibit features of Realism? 2. Examine ways in which people may not be what they seem in the story. To what extent are any of the characters wearing “masks” or veiling their identities? 3. What is Chesnutt’s view toward the Old South in the story? 4. How is “passing” depicted in the story? What meanings might the word have in light of the ending of the story? 5. Examine the idea of the hero in the story, paying particular attention to Charity Lomax’s charge to Dick Owns to do something heroic. 6. Examine the layers of trickery in the story. Who wins, and who loses? Why?

2.11 Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860 - 1935)

As she writes in her , Charlotte Perkins Gilman had one overriding goal in her life: “the improvement of the human race.” The niece of both the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe and the suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker, Gilman was one of the most important feminist writers, editors, and activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She led an unconventional life that directly inspired her poetry, fiction, and alike. At Image 2.9 | Charlotte Perkins the age of thirty-four, she divorced a husband who Gilman, circa 1900 sought to “domesticate” her, leaving both him and Photographer | C .F. Lummis her daughter to pursue an independent career au- Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain thoring works of poetry, fiction, and social criticism; and publishing her own feminist magazine, Forerunner; and lecturing for the American Woman Suffrage Association and other organizations on the need for social reform to ensure equality between men and women. In the 1890s, Gil- man published three works that solidified her reputation as both a major American writer and a groundbreaking feminist theorist: a well-received collection of feminist poems, In This Our World (1893); the groundbreaking work of social theory, Wom- en and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation between Men and Women

Page | 192 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) as a Factor in Social Evolution (1898), in which she criticized the economic depen- dency of women upon men; and the shocking short story included in this chapter, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” (1892). Gilman remarried in 1900 and over the course of the first three decades of the twentieth century continued to edit, lecture, and pub- lish works that advocated for the progressive reform of society. In her utopian novel Herland (1915), for example, she imagines a peaceful and ecologically sustainable society comprised solely of women who use technology and not men to reproduce. While presented in the guise of a gothic tale of terror, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” is a fine example of political realism. Through this terrifying story of a woman locked in an ancient manor and haunted by a shadowy figure, Gilman shows that the real relationship between married men and women in her time is not one of equality but of domination and dependency. Gilman based the story on her own life. After giving birth to her daughter, Gilman fell into a state of depression and was sent to a clinic for treatment. Her doctor, a world-famous neurologist, advised her to quit all creative and intellectual activity and instead dedicate herself wholly to a pri- vate domestic routine. However, this so-called “rest-cure” only further deepened Gilman’s depression and so she sought—and found—a cure for herself in her true callings: the literary and political work to which she dedicated the rest of her life.

2.11.1 “The Yellow Wall-Paper”

It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ances- tral halls for the summer. A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate! Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it. Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted? John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage. John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense hor- ror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures. John is a physician, and PERHAPS—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do? My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing. So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and jour- neys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again.

Page | 193 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? I did write for a while in spite of them; but it DOES exhaust me a good deal— having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition. I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more soci- ety and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house. The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people. There is a DELICIOUS garden! I never saw such a garden—large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them. There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now. There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years. That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care—there is something strange about the house—I can feel it. I even said so to John one moonlight evening, but he said what I felt was a DRAUGHT, and shut the window. I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself—before him, at least, and that makes me very tired. I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it. He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another. He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more. He said we came here solely on my account, that I was to have perfect rest and all the air I could get. “Your exercise depends on your strength, my dear,” said he, “and your food somewhat on your appetite; but air you can absorb all the time.” So we took the nursery at the top of the house. It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymna- sium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.

Page | 194 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

The paint and paper look as if a boys’ school had used it. It is stripped off—the paper—in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to con- stantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide—plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strange- ly faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others. No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. There comes John, and I must put this away,—he hates to have me write a word. We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt like writing before, since that first day. I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is noth- ing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength. John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious! But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him. Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way! I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already! Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able,—to dress and entertain, and order things. It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I CANNOT be with him, it makes me so nervous. I suppose John never was nervous in his life. He laughs at me so about this wall-paper! At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies. He said that after the wall-paper was would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on. “You know the place is doing you good,” he said, “and really, dear, I don’t care to renovate the house just for a three months’ rental.” “Then do let us go downstairs,” I said, “there are such pretty rooms there.”

Page | 195 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain. But he is right enough about the beds and windows and things. It is an airy and comfortable room as any one need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim. I’m really getting quite fond of the big room, all but that horrid paper. Out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees. Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imag- inative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try. I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would re- lieve the press of ideas and rest me. But I find I get pretty tired when I try. It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. When I get really well, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. I wish I could get well faster. But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it KNEW what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are every- where. There is one place where two breadths didn’t match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other. I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more en- tertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy store. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big, old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend. I used to feel that if any of the other things looked too fierce I could always hop into that chair and be safe. The furniture in this room is no worse than inharmonious, however, for we had to bring it all from downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder! I never saw such ravages as the children have made here.

Page | 196 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother—they must have had perseverance as well as hatred. Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars. But I don’t mind it a bit—only the paper. There comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profes- sion. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick! But I can write when she is out, and see her a long way off from these windows. There is one that commands the road, a lovely shaded winding road, and one that just looks off over the country. A lovely country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows. This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design. There’s sister on the stairs! Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people are gone and I am tired out. John thought it might do me good to see a little company, so we just had mother and Nellie and the children down for a week. Of course I didn’t do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now. But it tired me all the same. John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. But I don’t want to go there at all. I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only more so! Besides, it is such an undertaking to go so far. I don’t feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and querulous. I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone. And I am alone a good deal just now. John is kept in town very often by serious cases, and Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her to. So I walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie down up here a good deal. I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps BE- CAUSE of the wall-paper. It dwells in my mind so! I lie here on this great immovable bed—it is nailed down, I believe—and fol- low that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been

Page | 197 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890) touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I WILL follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion. I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or , or anything else that I ever heard of. It is repeated, of course, by the breadths, but not otherwise. Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flour- ishes—a kind of “debased Romanesque” with delirium tremens—go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity. But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase. The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust my- self in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction. They have used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully to the confusion. There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radia- tion after all,—the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction. It makes me tired to follow it. I will take a nap I guess. I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able. And I know John would think it absurd. But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way—it is such a relief! But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief. Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much. John says I musn’t lose my strength, and has me take cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat. Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished. It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weak- ness I suppose. And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head. He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well. He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.

Page | 198 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

There’s one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to occupy this nursery with the horrid wall-paper. If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I wouldn’t have a child of mine, an impressionable little thing, live in such a room for worlds. I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all, I can stand it so much easier than a baby, you see. Of course I never mention it to them any more—I am too wise,—but I keep watch of it all the same. There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder—I begin to think—I wish John would take me away from here! It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so. But I tried it last night. It was moonlight. The moon shines in all around just as the sun does. I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, and always comes in by one win- dow or another. John was asleep and I hated to waken him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper DID move, and when I came back John was awake. “What is it, little girl?” he said. “Don’t go walking about like that—you’ll get cold.” I though it was a good time to talk, so I told him that I really was not gaining here, and that I wished he would take me away. “Why darling!” said he, “our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see how to leave before. “The repairs are not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town just now. Of course if you were in any danger, I could and would, but you really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I know. You are gain- ing flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you.” “I don’t weigh a bit more,” said I, “nor as much; and my appetite may be bet- ter in the evening when you are here, but it is worse in the morning when you are away!” “Bless her little heart!” said he with a big hug, “she shall be as sick as she pleas- es! But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!”

Page | 199 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

“And you won’t go away?” I asked gloomily. “Why, how can I, dear? It is only three weeks more and then we will take a nice little trip of a few days while Jennie is getting the house ready. Really dear you are better!” “Better in body perhaps—” I began, and stopped short, for he sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word. “My darling,” said he, “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not as a physician when I tell you so?” So of course I said no more on that score, and we went to sleep before long. He thought I was asleep first, but I wasn’t, and lay there for hours trying to decide wheth- er that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or separately. On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to a normal mind. The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream. The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one of a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions—why, that is something like it. That is, sometimes! There is one marked peculiarity about this paper, a thing nobody seems to no- tice but myself, and that is that it changes as the light changes. When the sun shoots in through the east window—I always watch for that first long, straight ray—it changes so quickly that I never can quite believe it. That is why I watch it always. By moonlight—the moon shines in all night when there is a moon—I wouldn’t know it was the same paper. At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour. I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can. Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal. It is a very bad habit I am convinced, for you see I don’t sleep. And that cultivates deceit, for I don’t tell them I’m awake—O no! The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John.

Page | 200 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look. It strikes me occasionally, just as a scientific hypothesis,—that perhaps it is the paper! I have watched John when he did not know I was looking, and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and I’ve caught him several times LOOKING AT THE PAPER! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once. She didn’t know I was in the room, and when I asked her in a quiet, a very quiet voice, with the most restrained manner possible, what she was doing with the paper—she turned around as if she had been caught stealing, and looked quite angry—asked me why I should frighten her so! Then she said that the paper stained everything it touched, that she had found yellow smooches on all my clothes and John’s, and she wished we would be more careful! Did not that sound innocent? But I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself! Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have some- thing more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was. John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wall-paper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was BECAUSE of the wall-paper—he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away. I don’t want to leave now until I have found it out. There is a week more, and I think that will be enough. I’m feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interest- ing to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime. In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing. There are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though I have tried conscientiously. It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there is something else about that paper—the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here. It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs. It gets into my hair. Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it—there is that smell! Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours in trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like.

Page | 201 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

It is not bad—at first, and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met. In this damp weather it is awful, I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me. It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house—to reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the COLOR of the paper! A yellow smell. There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs round the room. It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, a long, straight, even SMOOCH, as if it had been rubbed over and over. I wonder how it was done and who did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and round—round and round and round—it makes me dizzy! I really have discovered something at last. Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out. The front pattern DOES move—and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern—it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads. They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them up- side down, and makes their eyes white! If those heads were covered or taken off it would not be half so bad. I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And I’ll tell you why—privately—I’ve seen her! I can see her out of every one of my windows! It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight. I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines. I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once. And John is so queer now, that I don’t want to irritate him. I wish he would take another room! Besides, I don’t want anybody to get that woman out at night but myself. I often wonder if I could see her out of all the windows at once. But, turn as fast as I can, I can only see out of one at one time. And though I always see her, she MAY be able to creep faster than I can turn! I have watched her sometimes away off in the open country, creeping as fast as a cloud shadow in a high wind.

Page | 202 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try it, little by little. I have found out another funny thing, but I shan’t tell it this time! It does not do to trust people too much. There are only two more days to get this paper off, and I believe John is begin- ning to notice. I don’t like the look in his eyes. And I heard him ask Jennie a lot of professional questions about me. She had a very good report to give. She said I slept a good deal in the daytime. John knows I don’t sleep very well at night, for all I’m so quiet! He asked me all sorts of questions, too, and pretended to be very loving and kind. As if I couldn’t see through him! Still, I don’t wonder he acts so, sleeping under this paper for three months. It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it. Hurrah! This is the last day, but it is enough. John is to stay in town over night, and won’t be out until this evening. Jennie wanted to sleep with me—the sly thing! but I told her I should undoubt- edly rest better for a night all alone. That was clever, for really I wasn’t alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran to help her. I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper. A strip about as high as my head and half around the room. And then when the sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me, I declared I would finish it to-day! We go away to-morrow, and they are moving all my furniture down again to leave things as they were before. Jennie looked at the wall in amazement, but I told her merrily that I did it out of pure spite at the vicious thing. She laughed and said she wouldn’t mind doing it herself, but I must not get tired. How she betrayed herself that time! But I am here, and no person touches this paper but me—not ALIVE! She tried to get me out of the room—it was too patent! But I said it was so qui- et and empty and clean now that I believed I would lie down again and sleep all I could; and not to wake me even for dinner—I would call when I woke. So now she is gone, and the servants are gone, and the things are gone, and there is nothing left but that great bedstead nailed down, with the canvas mattress we found on it. We shall sleep downstairs to-night, and take the boat home to-morrow. I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare again. How those children did tear about here! This bedstead is fairly gnawed! But I must get to work.

Page | 203 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. I’ve got a rope up here that even Jennie did not find. If that woman does get out, and tries to get away, I can tie her! But I forgot I could not reach far without anything to stand on! This bed will NOT move! I tried to lift and push it until I was lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner—but it hurt my teeth. Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks hor- ribly and the pattern just enjoys it! All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision! I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the win- dow would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try. Besides I wouldn’t do it. Of course not. I know well enough that a step like that is improper and might be misconstrued. I don’t like to LOOK out of the windows even—there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did? But I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope—you don’t get ME out in the road there! I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard! It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please! I don’t want to go outside. I won’t, even if Jennie asks me to. For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way. Why there’s John at the door! It is no use, young man, you can’t open it! How he does call and pound! Now he’s crying for an axe. It would be a shame to break down that beautiful door! “John dear!” said I in the gentlest voice, “the key is down by the front steps, under a plantain leaf!” That silenced him for a few moments. Then he said—very quietly indeed, “Open the door, my darling!” “I can’t,” said I. “The key is down by the front door under a plantain leaf!” And then I said it again, several times, very gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it of course, and came in. He stopped short by the door. “What is the matter?” he cried. “For God’s sake, what are you doing!”

Page | 204 Writing the Nation Realism (1865-1890)

I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

2.11.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. As you read “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” you will be tempted to diagnose the narrator as suffering from postpartum depression. However, does the source of the narrator’s lingering illness reside entirely in her body? Consider other causes for her on-going malaise. Why isn’t she getting better? 2. Consider how the narrator’s loving doctor-husband John talks to and controls her. What does John allow—and, more importantly, forbid—his sick wife to think and do? 3. The narrator of this story is unreliable as she is suffering from mental illness, which leads her to misinterpret the nature of her confinement. For instance, the narrator presumes that she is confined within a child’s former playroom. Close-read the details of the story’s setting, contrasting the narrator’s interpretation of the details of her room—the bars on the windows, for instance—with your own sense of what these things mean.

2.12 Chapter Two Key Terms

• Acadian • Mark Twain • Ambrose Bierce • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman • American Literary Realism • Meta-fiction • Charles Waddell Chesnutt • NAACP • Charlotte Perkins Gilman • Passing • Creole • Realism • /Feminism • Realists • Henry James • Regionalism • Iconoclast • Rest-Cure • Immigration • Sarah Orne Jewett • Industrial Age • Satire • Industrialization • The Woman Suffrage • Kate Chopin Movement • Local Color • William Dean Howells

Page | 205 Naturalism (1890-1914) Amy Berke and Doug Davis

33.1 Learning Outcomes After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Describe the influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution and Zola’s theory of literary naturalism on American Naturalist writers. • List the features of American Literary Naturalism.

• Identify stylistic elements of Naturalism in literary selections. • Identify prominent similarities and differences among the literary works by Naturalist writers.

Page | 206 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

3.2 Introduction The generation of writers that followed William Dean Howells broke with their past, as did the Realists when they rejected Romanticism as a literary style. Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, , , Harold Frederic, Hamlin Garland, Ellen Glasgow and Kate Chopin, to name a few, rejected the limitations of Realism in terms of subject matter. While they all, to some extent, embraced the Realist style of writing with its attention to detail and authenticity, they rejected Realism’s tendency not to offend the sensibilities of readers in the genteel classes. The new writers were not afraid of provocative subject matters and wrote about the in starker, grimmer contexts. They all, to some extent, were influenced by not only scientific ideas of the day, including Charles Darwin’s views on evolution, but also European writers experimenting with this new style: Naturalism. Émile Zola, a prominent French novelist, had articulated a theory of Naturalism in Le Roman Expérimental (1880). Zola had argued for a kind of intense Realism, one that did not look away from any aspects of life, including the base, dirty, or ugly. Also influenced by Darwin, Zola saw the human in animal terms, and he argued that a novel written about the human animal could be set up as a kind of scientific experiment, where, once the ingredients were added, the story would unfold with scientific accuracy. He was particularly interested in how hereditary traits under the influence of a particular social environment might de- termine how a human behaves. The American writers Norris, Crane, and London, similarly characterize humans as part of the evolutionary landscape, as beings in- fluenced—and even determined—by forces of heredity and environment beyond their understanding or control. With Darwin’s and Zola’s influence apparent, the naturalists sought to push Realism even further, or as Frank Norris argued in his “A Plea for Romantic Fiction,” to go beyond the “meticulous presentation of teacups, rag carpets, wall paper, and hair-cloth sofas”—or beyond Realism as mere photographic accura- cy—and to embrace a kind of writing that explores the “unplumbed depths of the human heart, and the mystery of sex, and the black, unsearched penetralia of the souls of men.” Norris is calling for a grittier approach in examining the human be- ing as essentially an upright animal, a kind of walking complex combination of in- herited traits, attributes, and habits deeply affected by social and economic forces. Naturalistic works went where Realistic works did not go, dealing with taboo subjects for the time, subjects such as prostitution, alcoholism, domestic violence, violent deaths, crime, madness, and degeneration. Sometimes defined as pessi- mistic materialistic determinism, Naturalism sought to look at human nature in a scientific light, and the author often took on the role of scientist, coolly observing the human animal in a variety of plights, at the mercy of forces beyond his control or understanding, compelled by instinct and determined by cause and effect to behave in certain, often self-destructive, ways as a result of heredity and environ- ment. In such works, the plot plays out on the material evolutionary plain, where a benevolent deity or any supernatural form is absent and idealistic concepts, such

Page | 207 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) as justice, liberty, innate goodness, and morality, are shown as illusions, as simple fabrications of the human animal trying to elevate himself above the other animals. In the Naturalistic works, nature is depicted as indifferent, sometimes even hos- tile, to humans, and humans are often depicted as small, insignificant, nameless losers in battles against an all-powerful nature. Characters may dream of heroic actions in the midst of a battle to survive extreme conditions, but they are most often trapped by circumstances, unable to summon the will to change their deter- mined outcome. Characters rarely exhibit free will at all; they often stumble through events, victims of their own vices, weaknesses, hereditary traits, and grim social or natural environments. A male character in a Naturalistic novel is often character- ized as part “brute,” and he typically exhibits strong impulses, compulsions, or in- stinctive drives, as he attempts to satiate his greed, his sexual urges, his decadent lusts, or his desire for power or dominance. Female characters also typically exhibit subconscious drives, acting without knowing why, unable to change course. Naturalistic works are not defined by a region; the characters’ action may take place in the frozen wilderness, on the raging sea, or within the slums of a city. Stylistically, Naturalistic novels are written from an almost journalistic per- spective, with narrative distance from action and the characters. Often characters are not given names as a way to reinforce their cosmic insignificance. The plot of the story often follows the steady decline of a character into degeneration or death (known as the “plot of decline”).

3.3 Frank Norris (1870 - 1902)

Norris grew up in an affluent household in before moving to San Francisco at the age of fourteen. His father’s jewelry and real estate businesses provided for his education in the fine while his mother’s interest in romantic literature introduced him to authors such as Sir Walter Scott, whose novel of medi- eval , Ivanhoe, heavily influenced the young Norris. At the age of seventeen, Norris left his family for Paris to study , revel in the city’s delights, and pen romantic tales of medieval that he mailed to his young- er brother. Returning home, Norris attended the at Berkeley before transferring to Harvard to study creative writ- Image 3.1 | Frank Norris, 1911 ing. Although he never received a degree, Nor- Photographer | Unknown ris’s time at Harvard was crucial to his devel- Source | Wikimedia Commons opment as an author. While there, he followed License | Public Domain

Page | 208 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) the advice of his professors and developed a more realistic style while beginning the novels McTeague (1899), Blix (1900), and Vandover and the Brute (1914). He also came, in this period, to greatly admire the French novelist Émile Zola, whose emphasis on the power of nature and the environment over individual characters inspired the of McTeague in particular. Returning to San Francisco, Norris wrote over 150 articles as a journalist, traveling to remote na- tions such as South Africa and as a war reporter for McClure’s Magazine. He then moved to New York to work in publishing, where he is credited with discovering Theodore Dreiser’s (1900) for Doubleday & McClure Company. Before his untimely death from illness at the age of thirty-two, Norris published less than half a dozen novels, most notably the first two novels in his unfinished “Epic of Wheat” trilogy, The Octopus: A Story of California (1901) and (posthumously) The Pit (1903), both of which explore the brutality of the business world. Like fellow naturalist Jack London, Norris was more interested in the raw, vi- olent human animal than in the polite, civilized human being. In his most mem- orable stories, he sought to combine the scientific sensibilities of naturalism with the melodrama of romantic fiction. Norris produced a theory of naturalism in his critical essays, seeking to distinguish it from both , which he con- demned as too focused on the manners of middle-class society, and historical “cut and thrust” romances, which he saw as merely escapist entertainment. In the essay included here, “A Plea for Romantic Fiction,” Norris describes the Romance genre itself as a woman entering a house, imagining the intense, instructive she would uncover if she were to abandon medieval swordplay and instead visit an average middle-class American home. Norris puts his theory of naturalism into practice in his novel McTeague, craft- ing a titular protagonist—a “poor crude dentist of Polk Street, stupid, ignorant, vul- gar” with “enormous bones and corded muscles”—who is more animal than man. The novel traces the upward trajectory of McTeague, from the grim poverty of life in the mining camp to the middle class life of a practicing dentist in San Francis- co. However, McTeague, for all his apparent human striving, ultimately ends up where he started: in a mining camp, poor, uneducated, alone, and in trouble. He ends up a victim of instinctive, hereditary, and environmental influences and forc- es beyond his knowledge or his control.

3.3.1 “A Plea For Romantic Fiction”

Let us at the start make a distinction. Observe that one speaks of romanticism and not sentimentalism. One claims that the latter is as distinct from the former as is that other form of art which is called Realism. Romance has been often put upon and overburdened by being forced to bear the onus of abuse that by right should fall to sentiment; but the two should be kept very distinct, for a very high and illustrious place will be claimed for romance, while sentiment will be handed down the scullery stairs.

Page | 209 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Many people to-day are composing mere sentimentalism, and calling it and causing it to be called romance; so with those who are too busy to think much up- on these subjects, but who none the less love honest literature, Romance, too, has fallen into disrepute. Consider now the cut-and-thrust stories. They are all labeled Romances, and it is very easy to get the impression that Romance must be an affair of cloaks and daggers, or moonlight and golden hair. But this is not so at all. The true Romance is a more serious business than this. It is not merely a conjurer’s trick-box, full of flimsy quackeries, tinsel and claptraps, meant only to amuse, and relying upon deception to do even that. Is it not something better than this? Can we not see in it an instrument, keen, finely tempered, flawless an instrument with which we may go straight through the clothes and tissues and wrappings of flesh down deep into the red, living heart of things? Is all this too subtle, too merely speculative and intrinsic, too precieuse and nice and “literary”? Devoutly one hopes the contrary. So much is made of so-called Ro- manticism in present-day fiction that the subject seems worthy of discussion, and a protest against the misuse of a really noble and honest formula of literature ap- peals to be timely—misuse, that is, in the sense of limited use. Let us suppose for the moment that a romance can be made out of a cut-and-thrust business. Good Heavens, are there no other things that are romantic, even in this—falsely, falsely called—humdrum world of to-day? Why should it be that so soon as the novelist ad- dresses himself—seriously—to the consideration of contemporary life he must aban- don Romance and take up that harsh, loveless, colourless, blunt tool called Realism? Now, let us understand at once what is meant by Romance and what by Real- ism. Romance, I take it, is the kind of fiction that takes cognizance of variations from the type of normal life. Realism is the kind of fiction that confines itself to the type of normal life. According to this definition, then, Romance may even treat of the sordid, the unlovely—as for instance, the novels of M. Zola. (Zola has been dubbed a Realist, but he is, on the contrary, the very head of the Romanticists.) Also, Realism, used as it sometimes is as a term of reproach, need not be in the remotest sense or degree offensive, but on the other hand respectable as a church and proper as a deacon—as, for instance, the novels of Mr. Howells. The reason why one claims so much for Romance, and quarrels so pointedly with Realism, is that Realism stultifies itself. It notes only the surface of things. For it, Beauty is not even skin deep, but only a geometrical plane, without dimensions and depth, a mere outside. Realism is very excellent so far as it goes, but it goes no further than the Realist himself can actually see, or actually hear. Realism is min- ute! it is the of a broken teacup, the tragedy of a walk down the block, the ex- citement of an afternoon call, the adventure of an invitation to dinner. It is the visit to my neighbour’s house, a formal visit, from which I may draw no conclusions. I see my neighbour and his friends—very, oh, such very! probable people—and that is all. Realism bows upon the doormat and goes away and says to me, as we link arms on the sidewalk: “That is life.” And I say it is not. It is not, as you would very well see if you took Romance with you to call upon your neighbour.

Page | 210 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Lately you have been taking Romance a weary journey across the water—ages and the flood of years—and haling her into the fusby, musty, worm-eaten, moth-rid- dled, rust-corroded “Grandes Salles” of the and the Renaissance, and she has found the drama of a bygone age for you there. But would you take her across the street to your neighbour’s front parlour (with the bisque fisher-boy on the mantel and the photograph of Niagara Falls on glass hanging in the front win- dow); would you introduce her there? Not you. Would you take a walk with her on , or Beacon Street, or Michigan Avenue? No, indeed. Would you choose her for a companion of a morning spent in , or an afternoon in the Waldorf-Astoria? You just guess you would not. She would be out of place, you say—inappropriate. She might be awkward in my neighbour’s front parlour, and knock over the little bisque fisher-boy. Well, she might. If she did, you might find underneath the base of the statuette, hidden away, tucked away—what? God knows. But something that would be a complete revelation of my neighbour’s secretest life. So you think Romance would stop in the front parlour and discuss medicated flannels and mineral waters with the ladies? Not for more than five minutes. She would be off upstairs with you, prying, peeping, peering into the closets ofthe bedroom, into the nursery, into the sitting-room; yes, and into that little iron box screwed to the lower shelf of the closet in the library; and into those compartments and pigeon-holes of the secretaire in the study. She would find a heartache (may- be) between the pillows of the mistress’s bed, and a memory carefully secreted in the master’s deed-box. She would come upon a great hope amid the books and papers of the study-table of the young man’s room, and—perhaps—who knows an—affair, or, great Heavens, an intrigue, in the scented ribbons and gloves and hairpins of the young lady’s bureau. And she would pick here a little and there a little, making up a bag of hopes and fears and a package of joys and sorrows—great ones, mind you—and then come down to the front door, and, stepping out into the street, hand you the bags and package and say to you—“That is Life!” Romance does very well in the castles of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance chateaux, and she has the entree there and is very well received. That is all well and good. But let us protest against limiting her to such places and such times. You will find her, I grant you, in the chatelaine’s chamber and the dungeon of the man-at-arms; but, if you choose to look for her, you will find her equally at home in the brownstone house on the corner and in the office-building downtown. And this very day, in this very hour, she is sitting among the rags and wretchedness, the dirt and despair of the tenements of the East Side of New York. “What?” I hear you say, “look for Romance—the lady of the silken robes and golden crown, our beautiful, maiden of soft voice and gentle eyes—look for her among the vicious ruffians, male and female, of Allen Street and Mulberry Bend?” I tell you she is there, and to your shame be it said you will not know her in those surroundings. You, the aristocrats, who demand the fine linen and the purple in your fiction; you, the sensitive, the delicate, who will associate with your

Page | 211 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Romance only so long as she wears a silken gown. You will not follow her to the slums, for you believe that Romance should only amuse and entertain you, singing you sweet songs and touching the harp of silver strings with rosy-tipped fingers. If haply she should call to you from the squalour of a dive, or the awful degradation of a disorderly house, crying: “Look! listen! This, too, is life. These, too, are my children! Look at them, know them and, knowing, help!” Should she call thus you would stop your ears! you would avert your eyes and you would answer, “Come from there, Romance. Your place is not there!” And you would make of her a har- lequin, a tumbler, a sword-dancer, when, as a matter of fact, she should be by right divine a teacher sent from God. She will not often wear the robe of silk, the gold crown, the jeweled shoon; will not always sweep the silver harp. An iron note is hers if so she choose, and coarse garments, and stained hands; and, meeting her thus, it is for you to know her as she passes—know her for the same young queen of the blue mantle and lilies. She can teach you if you will be humble to learn—teach you by showing. God help you if at last you take from Romance her mission of teaching; if you do not believe that she has a purpose—a nobler purpose and a mightier than mere amusement, mere entertainment. Let Realism do the entertaining with its meticulous presentation of teacups, rag carpets, wall-paper and haircloth sofas, stopping with these, going no deeper than it sees, choosing the ordinary, the untroubled, the commonplace. But to Romance belongs the wide world for range, and the unplumbed depths of the human heart, and the mystery of sex, and the problems of life, and the black, unsearched penetralia of the soul of man. You, the indolent, must not always be amused. What matter the silken clothes, what matter the ’s houses? Ro- mance, too, is a teacher, and if—throwing aside the purple—she wears the camel’ s-hair and feeds upon the locusts, it is to cry aloud unto the people, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight his path.”

3.3.2 Selections from McTeague

CHAPTER 1 It was Sunday, and, according to his custom on that day, McTeague took his dinner at two in the afternoon at the car conductors’ coffee-joint on Polk Street. He had a thick gray soup; heavy, underdone meat, very hot, on a cold plate; two kinds of vegetables; and a sort of suet pudding, full of strong butter and sugar. On his way back to his office, one block above, he stopped at Joe Frenna’s saloon and bought a pitcher of steam beer. It was his habit to leave the pitcher there on his way to dinner. Once in his office, or, as he called it on his signboard, “Dental Parlors,” he took off his coat and shoes, unbuttoned his vest, and, having crammed his little stove full of coke, lay back in his operating chair at the bay window, reading the paper, drinking his beer, and smoking his huge porcelain pipe while his food digested; crop-full, stupid, and warm. By and by, gorged with steam beer, and overcome by the heat of the room, the cheap tobacco, and the effects of his heavy meal, he

Page | 212 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) dropped off to sleep. Late in the afternoon his canary bird, in its gilt cage just over his head, began to sing. He woke slowly, finished the rest of his beer—very flat and stale by this time—and taking down his concertina from the , where in week days it kept the company of seven volumes of “Allen’s Practical Dentist,” played upon it some half-dozen very mournful airs. McTeague looked forward to these Sunday afternoons as a period of relaxation and enjoyment. He invariably spent them in the same fashion. These were his only pleasures—to eat, to smoke, to sleep, and to play upon his concertina. The six lugubrious airs that he knew, always carried him back to the time when he was a car-boy at the Big Dipper Mine in Placer County, ten years before. He re- membered the years he had spent there trundling the heavy cars of ore in and out of the tunnel under the direction of his father. For thirteen days of each fortnight his father was a steady, hard-working shift-boss of the mine. Every other Sunday he became an irresponsible animal, a beast, a brute, crazy with alcohol. McTeague remembered his mother, too, who, with the help of the Chinaman, cooked for forty miners. She was an overworked drudge, fiery and energetic for all that, filled with the one idea of having her son rise in life and enter a profession. The chance had come at last when the father died, corroded with alcohol, collaps- ing in a few hours. Two or three years later a travelling dentist visited the mine and put up his tent near the bunk-house. He was more or less of a charlatan, but he fired Mrs. McTeague’s ambition, and young McTeague went away with him to learn his profession. He had learnt it after a fashion, mostly by watching the char- latan operate. He had read many of the necessary books, but he was too hopelessly stupid to get much benefit from them. Then one day at San Francisco had come the news of his mother’s death; she had left him some money—not much, but enough to set him up in business; so he had cut loose from the charlatan and had opened his “Dental Parlors” on Polk Street, an “accommodation street” of small shops in the residence quarter of the town. Here he had slowly collected a clientele of butcher boys, shop girls, drug clerks, and car conductors. He made but few acquaintances. Polk Street called him the “Doctor” and spoke of his enormous strength. For McTeague was a young gi- ant, carrying his huge shock of blond hair six feet three inches from the ground; moving his immense limbs, heavy with ropes of muscle, slowly, ponderously. His hands were enormous, red, and covered with a fell of stiff yellow hair; they were hard as wooden mallets, strong as vises, the hands of the old-time car-boy. Often he dispensed with forceps and extracted a refractory tooth with his thumb and finger. His head was square-cut, angular; the jaw salient, like that of the carnivora. McTeague’s mind was as his body, heavy, slow to act, sluggish. Yet there was nothing vicious about the man. Altogether he suggested the draught horse, im- mensely strong, stupid, docile, obedient. When he opened his “Dental Parlors,” he felt that his life was a success, that he could hope for nothing better. In spite of the name, there was but one room. It was a corner room on the second floor over the branch post-office, and faced the

Page | 213 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) street. McTeague made it do for a bedroom as well, sleeping on the big bed-lounge against the wall opposite the window. There was a washstand behind the screen in the corner where he manufactured his moulds. In the round bay window were his operating chair, his dental engine, and the movable rack on which he laid out his instruments. Three chairs, a bargain at the second-hand store, ranged themselves against the wall with military precision underneath a steel engraving of the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici, which he had bought because there were a great many figures in it for the money. Over the bed-lounge hung a rifle manufacturer’s advertisement calendar which he never used. The other ornaments were a small marble-topped centre table covered with back numbers of “The American System of Dentistry,” a stone pug dog sitting before the little stove, and a thermometer. A stand of shelves occupied one corner, filled with the seven volumes of “Allen’s Practical Dentist.” On the top shelf McTeague kept his concertina and a bag of bird seed for the ca- nary. The whole place exhaled a mingled odor of bedding, creosote, and ether. But for one thing, McTeague would have been perfectly contented. Just outside his window was his signboard—a modest affair—that read: “Doctor McTeague. Dental Parlors. Gas Given”; but that was all. It was his ambition, his dream, to have projecting from that corner window a huge gilded tooth, a molar with enormous prongs, something gorgeous and attractive. He would have it some day, on that he was resolved; but as yet such a thing was far beyond his means. When he had finished the last of his beer, McTeague slowly wiped his lips and huge yellow mustache with the side of his hand. Bull-like, he heaved himself labo- riously up, and, going to the window, stood looking down into the street. The street never failed to interest him. It was one of those cross streets pecu- liar to Western cities, situated in the heart of the residence quarter, but occupied by small tradespeople who lived in the rooms above their shops. There were cor- ner drug stores with huge jars of red, yellow, and green liquids in their windows, very brave and gay; stationers’ stores, where illustrated weeklies were tacked up- on bulletin boards; barber shops with cigar stands in their vestibules; sad-looking plumbers’ offices; cheap restaurants, in whose windows one saw piles of unopened oysters weighted down by cubes of ice, and china pigs and cows knee deep in layers of white beans. At one end of the street McTeague could see the huge power-house of the cable line. Immediately opposite him was a great market; while farther on, over the chimney stacks of the intervening houses, the glass roof of some huge public baths glittered like crystal in the afternoon sun. Underneath him the branch post-office was opening its doors, as was its custom between two and three o’clock on Sunday afternoons. An acrid odor of ink rose upward to him. Occasionally a ca- ble car passed, trundling heavily, with a strident whirring of jostled glass windows. On week days the street was very lively. It woke to its work about seven o’clock, at the time when the newsboys made their appearance together with the day labor- ers. The laborers went trudging past in a straggling file—plumbers’ apprentices, their pockets stuffed with sections of lead pipe, tweezers, and pliers; carpenters, carrying nothing but their little pasteboard lunch baskets painted to imitate leath-

Page | 214 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) er; gangs of street workers, their overalls soiled with yellow clay, their picks and long-handled shovels over their shoulders; plasterers, spotted with lime from head to foot. This little army of workers, tramping steadily in one direction, met and mingled with other toilers of a different description—conductors and “swing men” of the cable company going on duty; heavy-eyed night clerks from the drug stores on their way home to sleep; roundsmen returning to the precinct police station to make their night report, and Chinese market gardeners teetering past under their heavy baskets. The cable cars began to fill up; all along the street could be seen the shopkeepers taking down their shutters. Between seven and eight the street breakfasted. Now and then a waiter from one of the cheap restaurants crossed from one sidewalk to the other, balancing on one palm a tray covered with a napkin. Everywhere was the smell of coffee and of frying steaks. A little later, following in the path of the day laborers, came the clerks and shop girls, dressed with a certain cheap smartness, always in a hurry, glancing apprehensively at the power-house clock. Their employers followed an hour or so later—on the cable cars for the most part whiskered gentlemen with huge stom- achs, reading the morning papers with great gravity; bank cashiers and insurance clerks with flowers in their buttonholes. At the same time the school children invaded the street, filling the air with a clamor of shrill voices, stopping at the stationers’ shops, or idling a moment in the doorways of the candy stores. For over half an hour they held possession of the side- walks, then suddenly disappeared, leaving behind one or two stragglers who hur- ried along with great strides of their little thin legs, very anxious and preoccupied. Towards eleven o’clock the ladies from the great avenue a block above Polk Street made their appearance, promenading the sidewalks leisurely, deliberately. They were at their morning’s marketing. They were handsome women, beautiful- ly dressed. They knew by name their butchers and grocers and vegetable men. From his window McTeague saw them in front of the stalls, gloved and veiled and daintily shod, the subservient provision men at their elbows, scribbling hastily in the order books. They all seemed to know one another, these grand ladies from the fashionable avenue. Meetings took place here and there; a conversation was begun; others arrived; groups were formed; little impromptu receptions were held before the chopping blocks of butchers’ stalls, or on the sidewalk, around boxes of berries and fruit. From noon to evening the population of the street was of a mixed character. The street was busiest at that time; a vast and prolonged murmur arose—the min- gled shuffling of feet, the rattle of wheels, the heavy trundling of cable cars. At four o’clock the school children once more swarmed the sidewalks, again disappearing with surprising suddenness. At six the great homeward march commenced; the cars were crowded, the laborers thronged the sidewalks, the newsboys chanted the evening papers. Then all at once the street fell quiet; hardly a soul was in sight; the sidewalks were deserted. It was supper hour. Evening began; and one by one a mul- titude of lights, from the demoniac glare of the druggists’ windows to the dazzling

Page | 215 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) blue whiteness of the electric globes, grew thick from street corner to street corner. Once more the street was crowded. Now there was no thought but for amusement. The cable cars were loaded with -goers—men in high hats and young girls in furred opera cloaks. On the sidewalks were groups and couples—the plumbers’ apprentices, the girls of the ribbon counters, the little families that lived on the second stories over their shops, the dressmakers, the small doctors, the harness- makers—all the various inhabitants of the street were abroad, strolling idly from shop window to shop window, taking the air after the day’s work. Groups of girls collected on the corners, talking and laughing very loud, making remarks upon the young men that passed them. The tamale men appeared. A band of Salvationists began to sing before a saloon. Then, little by little, Polk Street dropped back to solitude. Eleven o’clock struck from the power-house clock. Lights were extinguished. At one o’clock the cable stopped, leaving an abrupt silence in the air. All at once it seemed very still. The ugly noises were the occasional footfalls of a policeman and the persistent calling of ducks and geese in the closed market. The street was asleep. Day after day, McTeague saw the same panorama unroll itself. The bay window of his “Dental Parlors” was for him a point of vantage from which he watched the world go past. On Sundays, however, all was changed. As he stood in the bay window, after fin- ishing his beer, wiping his lips, and looking out into the street, McTeague was con- scious of the difference. Nearly all the stores were closed. No wagons passed. A few people hurried up and down the sidewalks, dressed in cheap Sunday finery. A cable car went by; on the outside seats were a party of returning picnickers. The mother, the father, a young man, and a young girl, and three children. The two older people held empty lunch baskets in their laps, while the bands of the children’s hats were stuck full of oak leaves. The girl carried a huge bunch of wilting poppies and wild flowers. As the car approached McTeague’s window the young man got up and swung himself off the platform, waving goodbye to the party. Suddenly McTeague recog- nized him. “There’s Marcus Schouler,” he muttered behind his mustache. Marcus Schouler was the dentist’s one intimate friend. The acquaintance had begun at the car conductors’ coffee-joint, where the two occupied the same table and met at every meal. Then they made the discovery that they both lived in the same flat, Marcus occupying a room on the floor above McTeague. On different occasions McTeague had treated Marcus for an ulcerated tooth and had refused to accept pay- ment. Soon it came to be an understood thing between them. They were “pals.” McTeague, listening, heard Marcus go up-stairs to his room above. In a few minutes his door opened again. McTeague knew that he had come out into the hall and was leaning over the banisters. “Oh, Mac!” he called. McTeague came to his door. “Hullo! ‘sthat you, Mark?” “Sure,” answered Marcus. “Come on up.” “You come on down.”

Page | 216 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“No, come on up.” “Oh, you come on down.” “Oh, you lazy duck!” retorted Marcus, coming down the stairs. “Been out to the Cliff House on a picnic,” he explained as he sat down on the bed-lounge, “with my uncle and his people—the Sieppes, you know. By damn! it was hot,” he suddenly vociferated. “Just look at that! Just look at that!” he cried, dragging at his limp collar. “That’s the third one since morning; it is—it is, for a fact—and you got your stove going.” He began to tell about the picnic, talking very loud and fast, gesturing furiously, very excited over trivial details. Marcus could not talk without getting excited. “You ought t’have seen, y’ought t’have seen. I tell you, it was outa sight. It was; it was, for a fact.” “Yes, yes,” answered McTeague, bewildered, trying to follow. “Yes, that’s so.” In recounting a certain dispute with an awkward bicyclist, in which it appeared he had become involved, Marcus quivered with rage. “’Say that again,’ says I to um. ‘Just say that once more, and’”—here a rolling explosion of oaths—“’you’ll go back to the city in the Morgue wagon. Ain’t I got a right to cross a street even, I’d like to know, without being run down—what?’ I say it’s outrageous. I’d a knifed him in another minute. It was an outrage. I say it was an outrage.” “Sure it was,” McTeague hastened to reply. “Sure, sure.” “Oh, and we had an accident,” shouted the other, suddenly off on another tack. “It was awful. Trina was in the swing there—that’s my cousin Trina, you know who I mean—and she fell out. By damn! I thought she’d killed herself; struck her face on a rock and knocked out a front tooth. It’s a wonder she didn’t kill herself. It IS a wonder; it is, for a fact. Ain’t it, now? Huh? Ain’t it? Y’ought t’have seen.” McTeague had a vague idea that Marcus Schouler was stuck on his cousin Tri- na. They “kept company” a good deal; Marcus took dinner with the Sieppes every Saturday evening at their home at B Street station, across the bay, and Sunday af- ternoons he and the family usually made little excursions into the suburbs. McTe- ague began to wonder dimly how it was that on this occasion Marcus had not gone home with his cousin. As sometimes happens, Marcus furnished the explanation upon the instant. “I promised a duck up here on the avenue I’d call for his dog at four this afternoon.” Marcus was Old Grannis’s assistant in a little dog hospital that the latter had opened in a sort of alley just off Polk Street, some four blocks above Old Grannis lived in one of the back rooms of McTeague’s flat. He was an Englishman and an expert dog surgeon, but Marcus Schouler was a bungler in the profession. His fa- ther had been a veterinary surgeon who had kept a livery stable near by, on Califor- nia Street, and Marcus’s knowledge of the diseases of domestic animals had been picked up in a haphazard way, much after the manner of McTeague’s education. Somehow he managed to impress Old Grannis, a gentle, simple-minded old man, with a sense of his fitness, bewildering him with a torrent of empty phrases that he delivered with fierce gestures and with a manner of the greatest conviction.

Page | 217 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“You’d better come along with me, Mac,” observed Marcus. “We’ll get the duck’s dog, and then we’ll take a little walk, huh? You got nothun to do. Come along.” McTeague went out with him, and the two friends proceeded up to the avenue to the house where the dog was to be found. It was a huge mansion-like place, set in an enormous garden that occupied a whole third of the block; and while Marcus tramped up the front steps and rang the doorbell boldly, to show his indepen- dence, McTeague remained below on the sidewalk, gazing stupidly at the curtained windows, the marble steps, and the bronze griffins, troubled and a little confused by all this massive luxury. After they had taken the dog to the hospital and had left him to whimper be- hind the wire netting, they returned to Polk Street and had a glass of beer in the back room of Joe Frenna’s corner grocery. Ever since they had left the huge mansion on the avenue, Marcus had been at- tacking the capitalists, a class which he pretended to execrate. It was a pose which he often assumed, certain of impressing the dentist. Marcus had picked up a few half-truths of political economy—it was impossible to say where—and as soon as the two had settled themselves to their beer in Frenna’s back room he took up the theme of the labor question. He discussed it at the top of his voice, vociferating, shaking his fists, exciting himself with his own noise. He was continually making use of the stock phrases of the professional politician—phrases he had caught at some of the ward “rallies” and “ratification meetings.” These rolled off his tongue with incredible emphasis, appearing at every turn of his conversation—”Outraged constituencies,” “cause of labor,” “wage earners,” “opinions biased by personal in- terests,” “eyes blinded by party prejudice.” McTeague listened to him, awestruck. “There’s where the evil lies,” Marcus would cry. “ must learn self-control; it stands to reason. Look at the figures, look at the figures. Decrease the number of wage earners and you increase wages, don’t you? don’t you?” Absolutely stupid, and understanding never a word, McTeague would answer: “Yes, yes, that’s it—self-control—that’s the word.” “It’s the capitalists that’s ruining the cause of labor,” shouted Marcus, banging the table with his fist till the beer glasses danced; “white-livered drones, traitors, with their livers white as snow, eatun the bread of widows and orphuns; there’s where the evil lies.” Stupefied with his clamor, McTeague answered, wagging his head: “Yes, that’s it; I think it’s their livers.” Suddenly Marcus fell calm again, forgetting his pose all in an instant. “Say, Mac, I told my cousin Trina to come round and see you about that tooth of her’s. She’ll be in to-morrow, I guess.”

CHAPTER 2 After his breakfast the following Monday morning, McTeague looked over the appointments he had written down in the book-slate that hung against the screen.

Page | 218 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

His writing was immense, very clumsy, and very round, with huge, full- bellied l’s and h’s. He saw that he had made an appointment at one o’clock for Miss Baker, the retired dressmaker, a little old maid who had a tiny room a few doors down the hall. It adjoined that of Old Grannis. Quite an affair had arisen from this circumstance. Miss Baker and Old Grannis were both over sixty, and yet it was current talk amongst the lodgers of the flat that the two were in love with each other . Singularly enough, they were not even acquaintances; never a word had passed between them. At intervals they met on the stairway; he on his way to his little dog hospital, she returning from a bit of marketing in the street. At such times they passed each other with averted eyes, pretending a certain pre- occupation, suddenly seized with a great embarrassment, the timidity of a second childhood. He went on about his business, disturbed and thoughtful. She hurried up to her tiny room, her curious little false curls shaking with her agitation, the faintest suggestion of a flush coming and going in her with- ered cheeks. The emotion of one of these chance meetings remained with them during all the rest of the day. Was it the first romance in the lives of each? Did Old Grannis ever remember a certain face amongst those that he had known when he was young Grannis—the face of some pale- haired girl, such as one sees in the old cathedral towns of En- gland? Did Miss Baker still treasure up in a seldom opened drawer or box some faded daguerreotype, some strange old-fashioned likeness, with its curling hair and high stock? It was impossible to say. Maria Macapa, the Mexican woman who took care of the lodgers’ rooms, had been the first to call the flat’s attention to the affair, spreading the news of it from room to room, from floor to floor. Of late she had made a great discovery; all the women folk of the flat were yet vibrant with it. Old Grannis came home from his work at four o’clock, and between that time and six Miss Baker would sit in her room, her hands idle in her lap, doing nothing, listening, waiting. Old Grannis did the same, drawing his arm-chair near to the wall, knowing that Miss Baker was upon the other side, conscious, perhaps, that she was thinking of him; and there the two would sit through the hours of the afternoon, listening and waiting, they did not know exactly for what, but near to each other, separated only by the thin partition of their rooms. They had come to know each other’s habits. Old Grannis knew that at quarter of five precisely Miss Baker made a cup of tea over the oil stove on the stand between the bureau and the window. Miss Baker felt instinctive- ly the exact moment when Old Grannis took down his little binding apparatus from the second shelf of his clothes closet and began his favorite occupation of binding pamphlets—pamphlets that he never read, for all that. In his “Parlors” McTeague began his week’s work. He glanced in the glass sau- cer in which he kept his sponge-gold, and noticing that he had used up all his pel- lets, set about making some more. In examining Miss Baker’s teeth at the prelim- inary sitting he had found a cavity in one of the incisors. Miss Baker had decided to have it filled with gold. McTeague remembered now that it was what is called a

Page | 219 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“proximate case,” where there is not sufficient room to fill with large pieces of gold. He told himself that he should have to use “mats” in the filling. He made some doz- en of these “mats” from his tape of non-cohesive gold, cutting it transversely into small pieces that could be inserted edgewise between the teeth and consolidated by packing. After he had made his “mats” he continued with the other kind of gold fillings, such as he would have occasion to use during the week; “blocks” to be used in large proximal cavities, made by folding the tape on itself a number of times and then shaping it with the soldering pliers; “cylinders” for commencing fillings, which he formed by rolling the tape around a needle called a “broach,” cutting it afterwards into different lengths. He worked slowly, mechanically, turning the foil between his fingers with the manual dexterity that one sometimes sees in stupid persons. His head was quite empty of all thought, and he did not whistle over his work as another man might have done. The canary made up for his silence, trill- ing and chittering continually, splashing about in its morning bath, keeping up an incessant noise and movement that would have been maddening to any one but McTeague, who seemed to have no nerves at all. After he had finished his fillings, he made a hook broach from a bit of piano wire to replace an old one that he had lost. It was time for his dinner then, and when he returned from the car conductors’ coffee-joint, he found Miss Baker wait- ing for him. The ancient little dressmaker was at all times willing to talk of Old Grannis to anybody that would listen, quite unconscious of the gossip of the flat. McTeague found her all a-flutter with excitement. Something extraordinary had happened. She had found out that the wall-paper in Old Grannis’s room was the same as that in hers. “It has led me to thinking, Doctor McTeague,” she exclaimed, shaking her little false curls at him. “You know my room is so small, anyhow, and the wall-paper being the same—the pattern from my room continues right into his—I declare, I believe at one time that was all one room. Think of it, do you suppose it was? It almost amounts to our occupying the same room. I don’t know—why, really—do you think I should speak to the landlady about it? He bound pamphlets last night until half-past nine. They say that he’s the younger son of a baronet; that there are reasons for his not coming to the title; his stepfather wronged him cruelly.” No one had ever said such a thing. It was preposterous to imagine any mystery connected with Old Grannis. Miss Baker had chosen to invent the little fiction, had created the title and the unjust stepfather from some dim memories of the novels of her girlhood. She took her place in the operating chair. McTeague began the filling. There was a long silence. It was impossible for McTeague to work and talk at the same time. He was just burnishing the last “mat” in Miss Baker’s tooth, when the door of the “Parlors” opened, jangling the bell which he had hung over it, and which was absolutely unnecessary. McTeague turned, one foot on the pedal of his dental en- gine, the corundum disk whirling between his fingers.

Page | 220 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

It was Marcus Schouler who came in, ushering a young girl of about twenty. “Hello, Mac,” exclaimed Marcus; “busy? Brought my cousin round about that broken tooth.” McTeague nodded his head gravely. “In a minute,” he answered. Marcus and his cousin Trina sat down in the rigid chairs underneath the steel engraving of the Court of Lorenzo de’ Medici. They began talking in low tones. The girl looked about the room, noticing the stone pug dog, the rifle manufactur- er’s calendar, the canary in its little gilt prison, and the tumbled blankets on the unmade bed-lounge against the wall. Marcus began telling her about McTeague. “We’re pals,” he explained, just above a whisper. “Ah, Mac’s all right, you bet. Say, Trina, he’s the strongest duck you ever saw. What do you suppose? He can pull out your teeth with his fingers; yes, he can. What do you think of that? With his fingers, mind you; he can, for a fact. Get on to the size of him, anyhow. Ah, Mac’s all right!” Maria Macapa had come into the room while he had been speaking. She was making up McTeague’s bed. Suddenly Marcus exclaimed under his breath: “Now we’ll have some fun. It’s the girl that takes care of the rooms. She’s a greaser, and she’s queer in the head. She ain’t regularly crazy, but I don’t know, she’s queer. Y’ought to hear her go on about a gold dinner service she says her folks used to own. Ask her what her name is and see what she’ll say.” Trina shrank back, a little frightened. “No, you ask,” she whispered. “Ah, go on; what you ‘fraid of?” urged Marcus. Trina shook her head energetically, shutting her lips together. “Well, listen here,” answered Marcus, nudging her; then raising his voice, he said: “How do, Maria?” Maria nodded to him over her shoulder as she bent over the lounge. “Workun hard nowadays, Maria?” “Pretty hard.” “Didunt always have to work for your living, though, did you, when you ate offa gold dishes?” Maria didn’t answer, except by putting her chin in the air and shut- ting her eyes, as though to say she knew a long story about that if she had a mind to talk. All Marcus’s efforts to draw her out on the subject were unavailing. She only responded by movements of her head. “Can’t always start her going,” Marcus told his cousin. “What does she do, though, when you ask her about her name?” “Oh, sure,” said Marcus, who had forgotten. “Say, Maria, what’s your name?” “Huh?” asked Maria, straightening up, her hands on he hips. “Tell us your name,” repeated Marcus. “Name is Maria—Miranda—Macapa.” Then, after a pause, she added, as though she had but that moment thought of it, “Had a flying squirrel an’ let him go.” Invariably Maria Macapa made this answer. It was not always she would talk about the famous service of gold plate, but a question as to her name never failed

Page | 221 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) to elicit the same strange answer, delivered in a rapid undertone: “Name is Maria— Miranda—Macapa.” Then, as if struck with an after thought, “Had a flying squirrel an’ let him go.” Why Maria should associate the release of the mythical squirrel with her name could not be said. About Maria the flat knew absolutely nothing further than that she was Spanish-American. Miss Baker was the oldest lodger in the flat, and Maria was a fixture there as maid of all work when she had come. There was a legend to the effect that Maria’s people had been at one time immensely wealthy in Central America. Maria turned again to her work. Trina and Marcus watched her curiously. There was a silence. The corundum burr in McTeague’s engine hummed in a pro- longed monotone. The canary bird chittered occasionally. The room was warm, and the breathing of the five people in the narrow space made the air close and thick. At long intervals an acrid odor of ink floated up from the branch post-office immediately below. Maria Macapa finished her work and started to leave. As she passed near Mar- cus and his cousin she stopped, and drew a bunch of blue tickets furtively from her pocket. “Buy a ticket in the lottery?” she inquired, looking at the girl. “Just a dollar.” “Go along with you, Maria,” said Marcus, who had but thirty cents in his pock- et. “Go along; it’s against the law.” “Buy a ticket,” urged Maria, thrusting the bundle toward Trina. “Try your luck. The butcher on the next block won twenty dollars the last drawing.” Very uneasy, Trina bought a ticket for the sake of being rid of her. Maria dis- appeared. “Ain’t she a queer bird?” muttered Marcus. He was much embarrassed and disturbed because he had not bought the ticket for Trina. But there was a sudden movement. McTeague had just finished with Miss Baker. “You should notice,” the dressmaker said to the dentist, in a low voice, “he al- ways leaves the door a little ajar in the afternoon.” When she had gone out, Marcus Schouler brought Trina forward. “Say, Mac, this is my cousin, Trina Sieppe.” The two shook hands dumbly, McTe- ague slowly nodding his huge head with its great shock of yellow hair. Trina was very small and prettily made. Her face was round and rather pale; her eyes long and nar- row and blue, like the half-open eyes of a little baby; her lips and the lobes of her tiny ears were pale, a little suggestive of anaemia; while across the bridge of her nose ran an adorable little line of freckles. But it was to her hair that one’s attention was most attracted. Heaps and heaps of blue-black coils and braids, a royal crown of swarthy bands, a veritable sable tiara, heavy, abundant, odorous. All the vitality that should have given color to her face seemed to have been absorbed by this marvellous hair. It was the coiffure of a queen that shadowed the pale temples of this little bourgeoise. So heavy was it that it tipped her head backward, and the position thrust her chin out a little. It was a charming poise, innocent, confiding, almost infantile. She was dressed all in black, very modest and plain. The effect of her pale face in all this contrasting black was almost monastic.

Page | 222 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Well,” exclaimed Marcus suddenly, “I got to go. Must get back to work. Don’t hurt her too much, Mac. S’long, Trina.” McTeague and Trina were left alone. He was embarrassed, troubled. These young girls disturbed and perplexed him. He did not like them, obstinately cher- ishing that intuitive suspicion of all things feminine—the perverse dislike of an overgrown boy. On the other hand, she was perfectly at her ease; doubtless the woman in her was not yet awakened; she was yet, as one might say, without sex. She was almost like a boy, frank, candid, unreserved. She took her place in the operating chair and told him what was the matter, look- ing squarely into his face. She had fallen out of a swing the afternoon of the preceding day; one of her teeth had been knocked loose and the other altogether broken out. McTeague listened to her with apparent stolidity, nodding his head to time as she spoke. The keenness of his dislike of her as a woman began to be blunted. He thought she was rather pretty, that he even liked her because she was so small, so prettily made, so good natured and straightforward. “Let’s have a look at your teeth,” he said, picking up his mirror. “You better take your hat off.” She leaned back in her chair and opened her mouth, showing the rows of little round teeth, as white and even as the kernels on an ear of green corn, except where an ugly gap came at the side. McTeague put the mirror into her mouth, touching one and another of her teeth with the handle of an excavator. By and by he straightened up, wiping the moisture from the mirror on his coat-sleeve. “Well, Doctor,” said the girl, anxiously, “it’s a dreadful disfigurement, isn’t it?” adding, “What can you do about it?” “Well,” answered McTeague, slowly, looking vaguely about on the floor of the room, “the roots of the broken tooth are still in the gum; they’ll have to come out, and I guess I’ll have to pull that other bicuspid. Let me look again. Yes,” he went on in a moment, peering into her mouth with the mirror, “I guess that’ll have to come out, too.” The tooth was loose, discolored, and evidently dead. “It’s a curious case,” McTeague went on. “I don’t know as I ever had a tooth like that before. It’s what’s called necrosis. It don’t often happen. It’ll have to come out sure.” Then a discussion was opened on the subject, Trina sitting up in the chair, holding her hat in her lap; McTeague leaning against the window frame his hands in his pock- ets, his eyes wandering about on the floor. Trina did not want the other tooth removed; one hole like that was bad enough; but two—ah, no, it was not to be thought of. But McTeague reasoned with her, tried in vain to make her understand that there was no vascular connection between the root and the gum. Trina was blindly persistent, with the persistency of a girl who has made up her mind. McTeague began to like her better and better, and after a while commenced himself to feel that it would be a pity to disfigure such a pretty mouth. He became interested; perhaps he could do something, something in the way of a crown or bridge. “Let’s look at that again,” he said, picking up his mirror. He began to study the situation very carefully, really desiring to remedy the blemish.

Page | 223 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

It was the first bicuspid that was missing, and though part of the root of the second (the loose one) would remain after its extraction, he was sure it would not be strong enough to sustain a crown. All at once he grew obstinate, resolving, with all the strength of a crude and primitive man, to conquer the difficulty in spite of everything. He turned over in his mind the technicalities of the case. No, evidently the root was not strong enough to sustain a crown; besides that, it was placed a little irregularly in the arch. But, fortunately, there were cavities in the two teeth on either side of the gap—one in the first molar and one in the palatine surface of the cuspid; might he not drill a socket in the remaining root and sockets in the molar and cuspid, and, partly by bridging, partly by crowning, fill in the gap? He made up his mind to do it. Why he should pledge himself to this hazardous case McTeague was puzzled to know. With most of his clients he would have contented himself with the extraction of the loose tooth and the roots of the broken one. Why should he risk his reputa- tion in this case? He could not say why. It was the most difficult operation he had ever performed. He bungled it con- siderably, but in the end he succeeded passably well. He extracted the loose tooth with his bayonet forceps and prepared the roots of the broken one as if for filling, fitting into them a flattened piece of platinum wire to serve as a dowel. But this was only the beginning; altogether it was a fortnight’s work. Trina came nearly every other day, and passed two, and even three, hours in the chair. By degrees McTeague’s first awkwardness and suspicion vanished entirely. The two became good friends. McTeague even arrived at that point where he could work and talk to her at the same time—a thing that had never before been possible for him. Never until then had McTeague become so well acquainted with a girl of Tri- na’s age. The younger women of Polk Street—the shop girls, the young women of the soda fountains, the waitresses in the cheap restaurants—preferred another dentist, a young fellow just graduated from the college, a poser, a rider of bicycles, a man about town, who wore astonishing waistcoats and bet money on greyhound coursing. Trina was McTeague’s first experience. With her the feminine element suddenly entered his little world. It was not only her that he saw and felt, it was the woman, the whole sex, an entire new humanity, strange and alluring, that he seemed to have discovered. How had he ignored it so long? It was dazzling, deli- cious, charming beyond all words. His narrow point of view was at once enlarged and confused, and all at once he saw that there was something else in life besides concertinas and steam beer. Everything had to be made over again. His whole rude idea of life had to be changed. The male virile desire in him tardily awakened, aroused itself, strong and brutal. It was resistless, untrained, a thing not to be held in leash an instant. Little by little, by gradual, almost imperceptible degrees, the thought of Trina Sieppe occupied his mind from day to day, from hour to hour. He found himself thinking of her constantly; at every instant he saw her round, pale face; her nar- row, milk-blue eyes; her little out-thrust chin; her heavy, huge tiara of black hair.

Page | 224 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

At night he lay awake for hours under the thick blankets of the bed-lounge, star- ing upward into the darkness, tormented with the idea of her, exasperated at the delicate, subtle mesh in which he found himself entangled. During the forenoons, while he went about his work, he thought of her. As he made his plaster- of-paris moulds at the washstand in the corner behind the screen he turned over in his mind all that had happened, all that had been said at the previous sitting. Her little tooth that he had extracted he kept wrapped in a bit of newspaper in his vest pocket. Often he took it out and held it in the palm of his immense, horny hand, seized with some strange elephantine sentiment, wagging his head at it, heaving tremendous sighs. What a folly! At two o’clock on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays Trina arrived and took her place in the operating chair. While at his work McTeague was every minute obliged to bend closely over her; his hands touched her face, her cheeks, her ador- able little chin; her lips pressed against his fingers. She breathed warmly on his forehead and on his eyelids, while the odor of her hair, a charming feminine per- fume, sweet, heavy, enervating, came to his nostrils, so penetrating, so delicious, that his flesh pricked and tingled with it; a veritable sensation of faintness passed over this huge, callous fellow, with his enormous bones and corded muscles. He drew a short breath through his nose; his jaws suddenly gripped together vise-like. But this was only at times—a strange, vexing spasm, that subsided almost im- mediately. For the most part, McTeague enjoyed the pleasure of these sittings with Trina with a certain strong calmness, blindly happy that she was there. This poor crude dentist of Polk Street, stupid, ignorant, vulgar, with his sham education and plebeian tastes, whose only relaxations were to eat, to drink steam beer, and to play upon his concertina, was living through his first romance, his first idyl. It was delightful. The long hours he passed alone with Trina in the “Dental Parlors,” si- lent, only for the scraping of the instruments and the pouring of bud-burrs in the engine, in the foul atmosphere, overheated by the little stove and heavy with the smell of ether, creosote, and stale bedding, had all the charm of secret appoint- ments and stolen meetings under the moon. By degrees the operation progressed. One day, just after McTeague had put in the temporary gutta-percha fillings and nothing more could be done at that sitting, Trina asked him to examine the rest of her teeth. They were perfect, with one ex- ception—a spot of white caries on the lateral surface of an incisor. McTeague filled it with gold, enlarging the cavity with hard-bits and hoe-excavators, and burring in afterward with half-cone burrs. The cavity was deep, and Trina began to wince and moan. To hurt Trina was a positive anguish for McTeague, yet an anguish which he was obliged to endure at every hour of the sitting. It was harrowing—he sweated under it—to be forced to torture her, of all women in the world; could anything be worse than that? “Hurt?” he inquired, anxiously. She answered by frowning, with a sharp intake of breath, putting her fingers over her closed lips and nodding her head. McTeague sprayed the tooth with glycer-

Page | 225 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) ite of tannin, but without effect. Rather than hurt her he found himself forced to the use of anaesthesia, which he hated. He had a notion that the nitrous oxide gas was dangerous, so on this occasion, as on all others, used ether. He put the sponge a half dozen times to Trina’s face, more nervous than he had ever been before, watching the symptoms closely. Her breathing became short and irregular; there was a slight twitching of the muscles. When her thumbs turned in- ward toward the palms, he took the sponge away. She passed off very quickly, and, with a long sigh, sank back into the chair. McTeague straightened up, putting the sponge upon the rack behind him, his eyes fixed upon Trina’s face. For some time he stood watching her as she lay there, unconscious and helpless, and very pretty. He was alone with her, and she was absolutely without defense. Suddenly the animal in the man stirred and woke; the evil instincts that in him were so close to the surface leaped to life, shouting and clamoring. It was a crisis—a crisis that had arisen all in an instant; a crisis for which he was totally unprepared. Blindly, and without knowing why, McTeague fought against it, moved by an unreasoned instinct of resistance. Within him, a certain second self, another better McTeague rose with the brute; both were strong, with the huge crude strength of the man himself. The two were at grapples. There in that cheap and shabby “Dental Parlor” a dreaded struggle began. It was the old battle, old as the world, wide as the world—the sudden panther leap of the animal, lips drawn, fangs aflash, hideous, monstrous, not to be resisted, and the simultaneous arous- ing of the other man, the better self that cries, “Down, down,” without knowing why; that grips ; that fights to strangle it, to thrust it down and back. Dizzied and bewildered with the shock, the like of which he had never known before, McTeague turned from Trina, gazing bewilderedly about the room. The struggle was bitter; his teeth ground themselves together with a little rasping sound; the blood sang in his ears; his face flushed scarlet; his hands twisted them- selves together like the knotting of cables. The fury in him was as the fury of a young bull in the heat of high summer. But for all that he shook his huge head from time to time, muttering: “No, by God! No, by God!” Dimly he seemed to realize that should he yield now he would never be able to care for Trina again. She would never be the same to him, never so radiant, so sweet, so adorable; her charm for him would vanish in an instant. Across her fore- head, her little pale forehead, under the shadow of her royal hair, he would surely see the smudge of a foul ordure, the footprint of the monster. It would be a sac- rilege, an abomination. He recoiled from it, banding all his strength to the issue. “No, by God! No, by God!” He turned to his work, as if seeking a refuge in it. But as he drew near to her again, the charm of her innocence and helplessness came over him afresh. It was a final protest against his resolution. Suddenly he leaned over and kissed her, gross- ly, full on the mouth. The thing was done before he knew it. Terrified at his weak- ness at the very moment he believed himself strong, he threw himself once more

Page | 226 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) into his work with desperate energy. By the time he was fastening the sheet of rubber upon the tooth, he had himself once more in hand. He was disturbed, still trembling, still vibrating with the throes of the crisis, but he was the master; the animal was downed, was cowed for this time, at least. But for all that, the brute was there. Long dormant, it was now at last alive, awake. From now on he would feel its presence continually; would feel it tugging at its chain, watching its opportunity. Ah, the pity of it! Why could he not always love her purely, cleanly? What was this perverse, vicious thing that lived within him, knitted to his flesh? Below the fine fabric of all that was good in him ran the foul stream of hereditary evil, like a sewer. The vices and sins of his father and of his father’s father, to the third and fourth and five hundredth generation, tainted him. The evil of an entire race flowed in his veins. Why should it be? He did not desire it. Was he to blame? But McTeague could not understand this thing. It had faced him, as sooner or later it faces every child of man; but its significance was not for him. To reason with it was beyond him. He could only oppose to it an instinctive stubborn resistance, blind, inert. McTeague went on with his work. As he was rapping in the little blocks and cyl- inders with the mallet, Trina slowly came back to herself with a long sigh. She still felt a little confused, and lay quiet in the chair. There was a long silence, broken only by the uneven tapping of the hardwood mallet. By and by she said, “I never felt a thing,” and then she smiled at him very prettily beneath the rubber dam. Mc- Teague turned to her suddenly, his mallet in one hand, his pliers holding a pellet of sponge-gold in the other. All at once he said, with the unreasoned simplicity and directness of a child: “Listen here, Miss Trina, I like you better than any one else; what’s the matter with us getting married?” Trina sat up in the chair quickly, and then drew back from him, frightened and bewildered. “Will you? Will you?” said McTeague. “Say, Miss Trina, will you?” “What is it? What do you mean?” she cried, confusedly, her words muffled be- neath the rubber. “Will you?” repeated McTeague. “No, no,” she exclaimed, refusing without know- ing why, suddenly seized with a fear of him, the intuitive feminine fear of the male. McTeague could only repeat the same thing over and over again. Trina, more and more frightened at his huge hands—the hands of the old-time car-boy—his immense square-cut head and his enormous brute strength, cried out: “No, no,” behind the rubber dam, shaking her head violently, holding out her hands, and shrinking down before him in the operating chair. McTeague came nearer to her, repeating the same question. “No, no,” she cried, terrified. Then, as she exclaimed, “Oh, I am sick,” was suddenly taken with a fit of vomiting. It was the not unusual after effect of the ether, aided now by her excitement and nervousness. McTeague was checked. He poured some bromide of potassium into a graduated glass and held it to her lips. “Here, swallow this,” he said.

Page | 227 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

CHAPTER 3 Once every two months Maria Macapa set the entire flat in commotion. She roamed the building from garret to cellar, searching each corner, ferreting through every old box and trunk and barrel, groping about on the top shelves of closets, peering into rag-bags, exasperating the lodgers with her persistence and importu- nity. She was collecting junks, bits of iron, stone jugs, glass bottles, old sacks, and cast-off garments. It was one of her perquisites. She sold the junk to Zerkow, the rags-bottles-sacks man, who lived in a filthy den in the alley just back of the flat, and who sometimes paid her as much as three cents a pound. The stone jugs, how- ever, were worth a nickel. The money that Zerkow paid her, Maria spent on shirt waists and dotted blue neckties, trying to dress like the girls who tended the so- da-water fountain in the candy store on the corner. She was sick with envy of these young women. They were in the world, they were elegant, they were debonair, they had their “young men.” On this occasion she presented herself at the door of Old Grannis’s room late in the afternoon. His door stood a little open. That of Miss Baker was ajar a few inches. The two old people were “keeping company” after their fashion. “Got any junk, Mister Grannis?” inquired Maria, standing in the door, a very dirty, half-filled pillowcase over one arm. “No, nothing—nothing that I can think of, Maria,” replied Old Grannis, terribly vexed at the interruption, yet not wishing to be unkind. “Nothing I think of. Yet, however—perhaps—if you wish to look.” He sat in the middle of the room before a small pine table. His little binding apparatus was before him. In his fingers was a huge upholsterer’s needle threaded with twine, a brad- awl lay at his elbow, on the floor beside him was a great pile of pamphlets, the pages uncut. Old Grannis bought the “Nation” and the “Breeder and Sportsman.” In the latter he occasionally found articles on dogs which inter- ested him. The former he seldom read. He could not afford to subscribe regularly to either of the publications, but purchased their back numbers by the score, al- most solely for the pleasure he took in binding them. “What you alus sewing up them books for, Mister Grannis?” asked Maria, as she began rummaging about in Old Grannis’s closet shelves. “There’s just hun- dreds of ‘em in here on yer shelves; they ain’t no good to you.” “Well, well,” answered Old Grannis, timidly, rubbing his chin, “I—I’m sure I can’t quite say; a little habit, you know; a diversion, a—a—it occupies one, you know. I don’t smoke; it takes the place of a pipe, perhaps.” “Here’s this old yellow pitcher,” said Maria, coming out of the closet with it in her hand. “The handle’s cracked; you don’t want it; better give me it.” Old Grannis did want the pitcher; true, he never used it now, but he had kept it a long time, and somehow he held to it as old people hold to trivial, worthless things that they have had for many years. “Oh, that pitcher—well, Maria, I—I don’t know. I’m afraid—you see, that pitcher—” “Ah, go ‘long,” interrupted Maria Macapa, “what’s the good of it?”

Page | 228 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“If you insist, Maria, but I would much rather—” he rubbed his chin, perplexed and annoyed, hating to refuse, and wishing that Maria were gone. “Why, what’s the good of it?” persisted Maria. He could give no sufficient an- swer. “That’s all right,” she asserted, carrying the pitcher out. “Ah—Maria—I say, you—you might leave the door—ah, don’t quite shut it—it’s a bit close in here at times.” Maria grinned, and swung the door wide. Old Grannis was horribly embarrassed; positively, Maria was becoming unbearable. “Got any junk?” cried Maria at Miss Baker’s door. The little old lady was sitting close to the wall in her rocking-chair; her hands resting idly in her lap. “Now, Maria,” she said plaintively, “you are always after junk; you know I nev- er have anything laying ‘round like that.” It was true. The retired dressmaker’s tiny room was a marvel of neatness, from the little red table, with its three Gorham spoons laid in exact parallels, to the decorous geraniums and mignonettes growing in the starch box at the window, underneath the fish globe with its one venerable gold fish. That day Miss Baker had been doing a bit of washing; two pocket handkerchiefs, still moist, adhered to the window panes, drying in the sun. “Oh, I guess you got something you don’t want,” Maria went on, peering into the corners of the room. “Look-a-here what Mister Grannis gi’ me,” and she held out the yellow pitcher. Instantly Miss Baker was in a quiver of confusion. Every word spoken aloud could be perfectly heard in the next room. What a stupid drab was this Maria! Could anything be more trying than this position? “Ain’t that right, Mister Grannis?” called Maria; “didn’t you gi’ me this pitch- er?” Old Grannis affected not to hear; perspiration stood on his forehead; his ti- midity overcame him as if he were a ten-year-old schoolboy. He half rose from his chair, his fingers dancing nervously upon his chin. Maria opened Miss Baker’s closet unconcernedly. “What’s the matter with these old shoes?” she exclaimed, turning about with a pair of half-worn silk gaiters in her hand. They were by no means old enough to throw away, but Miss Baker was almost beside herself. There was no telling what might happen next. Her only thought was to be rid of Maria. “Yes, yes, anything. You can have them; but go, go. There’s nothing else, not a thing.” Maria went out into the hall, leaving Miss Baker’s door wide open, as if malicious- ly. She had left the dirty pillow-case on the floor in the hall, and she stood outside, between the two open doors, stowing away the old pitcher and the half- worn silk shoes. She made remarks at the top of her voice, calling now to Miss Baker, now to Old Grannis. In a way she brought the two old people face to face. Each time they were forced to answer her questions it was as if they were talking directly to each other. “These here are first-rate shoes, Miss Baker. Look here, Mister Grannis, get on to the shoes Miss Baker gi’ me. You ain’t got a pair you don’t want, have you? You two people have less junk than any one else in the flat. How do you manage, Mister Grannis? You old bachelors are just like old maids, just as neat as pins. You two are just alike—you and Mister Grannis—ain’t you, Miss Baker?”

Page | 229 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Nothing could have been more horribly constrained, more awkward. The two old people suffered veritable torture. When Maria had gone, each heaved a sigh of unspeakable relief. Softly they pushed to their doors, leaving open a space of half a dozen inches. Old Grannis went back to his binding. Miss Baker brewed a cup of tea to quiet her nerves. Each tried to regain their composure, but in vain. Old Gran- nis’s fingers trembled so that he pricked them with his needle. Miss Baker dropped her spoon twice. Their nervousness would not wear off. They were perturbed, up- set. In a word, the afternoon was spoiled. Maria went on about the flat from room to room. She had already paid Marcus Schouler a visit early that morning before he had gone out. Marcus had sworn at her, excitedly vociferating; “No, by damn! No, he hadn’t a thing for her; he hadn’t, for a fact. It was a positive persecution. Every day his privacy was invaded. He would complain to the landlady, he would. He’d move out of the place.” In the end he had given Maria seven empty whiskey flasks, an iron grate, and ten cents—the latter because he said she wore her hair like a girl he used to know. After coming from Miss Baker’s room Maria knocked at McTeague’s door. The dentist was lying on the bed-lounge in his stocking feet, doing nothing apparently, gazing up at the ceiling, lost in thought. Since he had spoken to Trina Sieppe, asking her so abruptly to marry him, McTeague had passed a week of torment. For him there was no going back. It was Trina now, and none other. It was all one with him that his best friend, Marcus, might be in love with the same girl. He must have Trina in spite of everything; he would have her even in spite of herself. He did not stop to reflect about the matter; he followed his desire blindly, recklessly, furious and raging at every obstacle. And she had cried “No, no!” back at him; he could not forget that. She, so small and pale and delicate, had held him at bay, who was so huge, so immensely strong. Besides that, all the charm of their intimacy was gone. After that unhappy sit- ting, Trina was no longer frank and straight-forward. Now she was circumspect, reserved, distant. He could no longer open his mouth; words failed him. At one sitting in particular they had said but good- day and good-by to each other. He felt that he was clumsy and ungainly. He told himself that she despised him. But the memory of her was with him constantly. Night after night he lay broad awake thinking of Trina, wondering about her, racked with the infinite desire of her. His head burnt and throbbed. The palms of his hands were dry. He dozed and woke, and walked aimlessly about the dark room, bruising himself against the three chairs drawn up “at attention” under the steel engraving, and stumbling over the stone pug dog that sat in front of the little stove. Besides this, the jealousy of Marcus Schouler harassed him. Maria Macapa, coming into his “Parlor” to ask for junk, found him flung at length upon the bed- lounge, gnawing at his fingers in an excess of silent fury. At lunch that day Marcus had told him of an excursion that was planned for the next Sunday afternoon. Mr. Sieppe, Trina’s father, belonged to a rifle club that was to hold a meet at Schuetzen Park across the bay. All the Sieppes were going; there was to be a basket picnic.

Page | 230 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Marcus, as usual, was invited to be one of the party. McTeague was in agony. It was his first experience, and he suffered all the worse for it because he was totally unprepared. What miserable complication was this in which he found himself in- volved? It seemed so simple to him since he loved Trina to take her straight to him- self, stopping at nothing, asking no questions, to have her, and by main strength to carry her far away somewhere, he did not know exactly where, to some vague country, some undiscovered place where every day was Sunday. “Got any junk?” “Huh? What? What is it?” exclaimed McTeague, suddenly rousing up from the lounge. Often Maria did very well in the “Dental Parlors.” McTeague was contin- ually breaking things which he was too stupid to have mended; for him anything that was broken was lost. Now it was a cuspidor, now a fire-shovel for the little stove, now a China shaving mug. “Got any junk?” “I don’t know—I don’t remember,” muttered McTeague. Maria roamed about the room, McTeague following her in his huge stockinged feet. All at once she pounced upon a sheaf of old hand instruments in a coverless cigar-box, pluggers, hard bits, and excavators. Maria had long coveted such a find in McTeague’s “Par- lor,” knowing it should be somewhere about. The instruments were of the finest tempered steel and really valuable. “Say, Doctor, I can have these, can’t I?” exclaimed Maria. “You got no more use for them.” McTeague was not at all sure of this. There were many in the sheaf that might be repaired, reshaped. “No, no,” he said, wagging his head. But Maria Macapa, knowing with whom she had to deal, at once let loose a torrent of words. She made the dentist believe that he had no right to withhold them, that he had promised to save them for her. She af- fected a great indignation, pursing her lips and putting her chin in the air as though wounded in some finer sense, changing so rapidly from one mood to another, filling the room with such shrill clamor, that McTeague was dazed and benumbed. “Yes, all right, all right,” he said, trying to make himself heard. “It WOULD be mean. I don’t want ‘em.” As he turned from her to pick up the box, Maria took ad- vantage of the moment to steal three “mats” of sponge-gold out of the glass saucer. Often she stole McTeague’s gold, almost under his very eyes; indeed, it was so easy to do so that there was but little pleasure in the theft. Then Maria took herself off. McTeague returned to the sofa and flung himself upon it face downward. A little before supper time Maria completed her search. The flat was cleaned of its junk from top to bottom. The dirty pillow-case was full to bursting. She took advantage of the supper hour to carry her bundle around the corner and up into the alley where Zerkow lived. When Maria entered his shop, Zerkow had just come in from his daily rounds. His decrepit wagon stood in front of his door like a stranded wreck; the miserable horse, with its lamentable swollen joints, fed greedily upon an armful of spoiled hay in a shed at the back.

Page | 231 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

The interior of the junk shop was dark and damp, and foul with all manner of choking odors. On the walls, on the floor, and hanging from the rafters was a world of debris, dust-blackened, rust-corroded. Everything was there, every trade was represented, every class of society; things of iron and cloth and wood; all the detritus that a great city sloughs off in its daily life. Zerkow’s junk shop was the last abiding-place, the almshouse, of such articles as had outlived their usefulness. Maria found Zerkow himself in the back room, cooking some sort of a meal over an alcohol stove. Zerkow was a Polish Jew—curiously enough his hair was fiery red. He was a dry, shrivelled old man of sixty odd. He had the thin, eager, cat-like lips of the covetous; eyes that had grown keen as those of a lynx from long searching amidst muck and debris; and claw-like, prehensile fingers—the fin- gers of a man who accumulates, but never disburses. It was impossible to look at Zerkow and not know instantly that greed—inordinate, insatiable greed—was the dominant passion of the man. He was the Man with the Rake, groping hourly in the muck-heap of the city for gold, for gold, for gold. It was his dream, his passion; at every instant he seemed to feel the generous solid weight of the crude fat metal in his palms. The glint of it was constantly in his eyes; the jangle of it sang forever in his ears as the jangling of cymbals. “Who is it? Who is it?” exclaimed Zerkow, as he heard Maria’s footsteps in the outer room. His voice was faint, husky, reduced almost to a whisper by his pro- longed habit of street crying. “Oh, it’s you again, is it?” he added, peering through the gloom of the shop. “Let’s see; you’ve been here before, ain’t you? You’re the Mexican woman from Polk Street. Macapa’s your name, hey?” Maria nodded. “Had a flying squirrel an’ let him go,” she muttered, absently. Zerkow was puzzled; he looked at her sharply for a moment, then dismissed the matter with a movement of his head. “Well, what you got for me?” he said. He left his supper to grow cold, absorbed at once in the affair. Then a long wrangle began. Every bit of junk in Maria’s pillow-case was discussed and weighed and disputed. They clamored into each other’s faces over Old Grannis’s cracked pitcher, over Miss Baker’s silk gaiters, over Marcus Schouler’s whiskey flasks, reaching the climax of disagreement when it came to McTeague’s instruments. “Ah, no, no!” shouted Maria. “Fifteen cents for the lot! I might as well make you a Christmas present! Besides, I got some gold fillings off him; look at um.” Zerkow drew a quick breath as the three pellets suddenly flashed in Maria’s palm. There it was, the virgin metal, the pure, unalloyed ore, his dream, his con- suming desire. His fingers twitched and hooked themselves into his palms, his thin lips drew tight across his teeth. “Ah, you got some gold,” he muttered, reaching for it. Maria shut her fist over the pellets. “The gold goes with the others,” she de- clared. “You’ll gi’ me a fair price for the lot, or I’ll take um back.”

Page | 232 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

In the end a bargain was struck that satisfied Maria. Zerkow was not one who would let gold go out of his house. He counted out to her the price of all her junk, grudging each piece of money as if it had been the blood of his veins. The affair was concluded. But Zerkow still had something to say. As Maria folded up the pillow-case and rose to go, the old Jew said: “Well, see here a minute, we’ll—you’ll have a drink before you go, won’t you? Just to show that it’s all right between us.” Maria sat down again. “Yes, I guess I’ll have a drink,” she answered. Zerkow took down a whiskey bottle and a red glass tumbler with a broken base from a cupboard on the wall. The two drank together, Zerkow from the bottle, Ma- ria from the broken tumbler. They wiped their lips slowly, drawing breath again. There was a moment’s silence. “Say,” said Zerkow at last, “how about those gold dishes you told me about the last time you were here?” “What gold dishes?” inquired Maria, puzzled. “Ah, you know,” returned the other. “The plate your father owned in Central America a long time ago. Don’t you know, it rang like so many bells? Red gold, you know, like oranges?” “Ah,” said Maria, putting her chin in the air as if she knew a long story about that if she had a mind to tell it. “Ah, yes, that gold service.” “Tell us about it again,” said Zerkow, his bloodless lower lip moving against the upper, his claw-like fingers feeling about his mouth and chin. “Tell us about it; go on.” He was breathing short, his limbs trembled a little. It was as if some hungry beast of prey had scented a quarry. Maria still refused, putting up her head, insist- ing that she had to be going. “Let’s have it,” insisted the Jew. “Take another drink.” Maria took another swallow of the whiskey. “Now, go on,” repeated Zerkow; “let’s have the story.” Ma- ria squared her elbows on table, looking straight in front of her with eyes that saw nothing. “Well, it was this way,” she began. “It was when I was little. My folks must have been rich, oh, rich into the millions—coffee, I guess—and there was a large house, but I can only remember the plate. Oh, that service of plate! It was wonderful. There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of them gold. You should have seen the sight when the leather trunk was opened. It fair dazzled your eyes. It was a yellow blaze like a fire, like a sunset; such a glory, all piled up together, one piece over the other. Why, if the room was dark you’d think you could see just the same with all that glitter there. There wa’n’t a piece that was so much as scratched; every one was like a mirror, smooth and bright, just like a little pool when the sun shines into it. There was dinner dishes and soup tureens and pitchers; and great, big platters as long as that and wide too; and cream-jugs and bowls with carved handles, all vines and things; and drinking mugs, every one a different shape; and

Page | 233 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) dishes for gravy and sauces; and then a great, big punch-bowl with a ladle, and the bowl was all carved out with figures and bunches of grapes. Why, just only that punch-bowl was worth a fortune, I guess. When all that plate was set out on a table, it was a sight for a king to look at. Such a service as that was! Each piece was heavy, oh, so heavy! and thick, you know; thick, fat gold, nothing but gold—red, shining, pure gold, orange red—and when you struck it with your knuckle, ah, you should have heard! No church bell ever rang sweeter or clearer. It was soft gold, too; you could bite into it, and leave the dent of your teeth. Oh, that gold plate! I can see it just as plain—solid, solid, heavy, rich, pure gold; nothing but gold, gold, heaps and heaps of it. What a service that was!” Maria paused, shaking her head, thinking over the vanished splendor. Illiterate enough, unimaginative enough on all other subjects, her distorted wits called up this picture with marvellous distinctness. It was plain she saw the plate clearly. Her description was accurate, was almost eloquent. Did that wonderful service of gold plate ever exist outside of her diseased imagination? Was Maria actually remembering some reality of a childhood of barbaric luxury? Were her parents at one time possessed of an incalculable for- tune derived from some Central American coffee plantation, a fortune long since confiscated by armies of insurrectionists, or squandered in the support of revolu- tionary governments? It was not impossible. Of Maria Macapa’s past prior to the time of her appear- ance at the “flat” absolutely nothing could be learned. She suddenly appeared from the unknown, a strange woman of a mixed race, sane on all subjects but that of the famous service of gold plate; but unusual, complex, mysterious, even at her best. But what misery Zerkow endured as he listened to her tale! For he chose to believe it, forced himself to believe it, lashed and harassed by a pitiless greed that checked at no tale of treasure, however preposterous. The story ravished him with delight. He was near someone who had possessed this wealth. He saw someone who had seen this pile of gold. He seemed near it; it was there, somewhere close by, under his eyes, under his fingers; it was red, gleaming, ponderous. He gazed about him wildly; nothing, nothing but the sordid junk shop and the rust-corroded tins. What exasperation, what positive misery, to be so near to it and yet to know that it was irrevocably, irretrievably lost! A spasm of anguish passed through him. He gnawed at his bloodless lips, at the hopelessness of it, the rage, the fury of it. “Go on, go on,” he whispered; “let’s have it all over again. Polished like a mir- ror, hey, and heavy? Yes, I know, I know. A punch-bowl worth a fortune. Ah! and you saw it, you had it all!” Maria rose to go. Zerkow accompanied her to the door, urging another drink upon her. “Come again, come again,” he croaked. “Don’t wait till you’ve got junk; come any time you feel like it, and tell me more about the plate.” He followed her a step down the alley. “How much do you think it was worth?” he inquired, anxiously.

Page | 234 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Oh, a million dollars,” answered Maria, vaguely. When Maria had gone, Zerkow returned to the back room of the shop, and stood in front of the alcohol stove, looking down into his cold dinner, preoccu- pied, thoughtful. “A million dollars,” he muttered in his rasping, guttural whisper, his finger-tips wandering over his thin, cat-like lips. “A golden service worth a million dollars; a punch- bowl worth a fortune; red gold plates, heaps and piles. God!”

CHAPTER 4 The days passed. McTeague had finished the operation on Trina’s teeth. She did not come any more to the “Parlors.” Matters had readjusted themselves a little between the two during the last sittings. Trina yet stood upon her reserve, and McTeague still felt himself shambling and ungainly in her presence; but that con- straint and embarrassment that had followed upon McTeague’s blundering decla- ration broke up little by little. In spite of themselves they were gradually resuming the same relative positions they had occupied when they had first met. But McTeague suffered miserably for all that. He never would have Trina, he saw that clearly. She was too good for him; too delicate, too refined, too prettily made for him, who was so coarse, so enormous, so stupid. She was for someone else—Marcus, no doubt—or at least for some finer- grained man. She should have gone to some other dentist; the young fellow on the corner, for instance, the poser, the rider of bicycles, the courser of grey-hounds. McTeague began to loathe and to envy this fellow. He spied upon him going in and out of his office, and noted his salmon-pink neckties and his astonishing waistcoats. One Sunday, a few days after Trina’s last sitting, McTeague met Marcus Schoul- er at his table in the car conductors’ coffee-joint, next to the harness shop. “What you got to do this afternoon, Mac?” inquired the other, as they ate their suet pudding. “Nothing, nothing,” replied McTeague, shaking his head. His mouth was full of pudding. It made him warm to eat, and little beads of perspiration stood across the bridge of his nose. He looked forward to an afternoon passed in his operating chair as usual. On leaving his “Parlors” he had put ten cents into his pitcher and had left it at Frenna’s to be filled. “What do you say we take a walk, huh?” said Marcus. “Ah, that’s the thing—a walk, a long walk, by damn! It’ll be outa sight. I got to take three or four of the dogs out for exercise, anyhow. Old Grannis thinks they need ut. We’ll walk out to the Presidio.” Of late it had become the custom of the two friends to take long walks from time to time. On holidays and on those Sunday afternoons when Marcus was not absent with the Sieppes they went out together, sometimes to the park, sometimes to the Presidio, sometimes even across the bay. They took a great pleasure in each other’s company, but silently and with reservation, having the masculine horror of any demonstration of friendship.

Page | 235 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

They walked for upwards of five hours that afternoon, out the length of Cali- fornia Street, and across the Presidio Reservation to the Golden Gate. Then they turned, and, following the line of the shore, brought up at the Cliff House. Here they halted for beer, Marcus swearing that his mouth was as dry as a hay-bin. Before starting on their walk they had gone around to the little dog hospital, and Marcus had let out four of the convalescents, crazed with joy at the release. “Look at that dog,” he cried to McTeague, showing him a finely-bred Irish set- ter. “That’s the dog that belonged to the duck on the avenue, the dog we called for that day. I’ve bought ‘um. The duck thought he had the distemper, and just threw ‘um away. Nothun wrong with ‘um but a little catarrh. Ain’t he a bird? Say, ain’t he a bird? Look at his flag; it’s perfect; and see how he carries his tail on a line with his back. See how stiff and white his whiskers are. Oh, by damn! you can’t fool me on a dog. That dog’s a winner.” At the Cliff House the two sat down to their beer in a quiet corner of the bil- liard-room. There were but two players. Somewhere in another part of the building a mammoth music- box was jangling out a quickstep. From outside came the long, rhythmical rush of the surf and the sonorous barking of the seals upon the seal rocks. The four dogs curled themselves down upon the sanded floor. “Here’s how,” said Marcus, half emptying his glass. “Ah-h!” he added, with a long breath, “that’s good; it is, for a fact.” For the last hour of their walk Marcus had done nearly all the talking. McTeague merely answering him by uncertain movements of the head. For that matter, the dentist had been silent and preoccupied throughout the whole afternoon. At length Marcus noticed it. As he set down his glass with a bang he suddenly exclaimed: “What’s the matter with you these days, Mac? You got a bean about somethun, hey? Spit ut out.” “No, no,” replied McTeague, looking about on the floor, rolling his eyes; “noth- ing, no, no.” “Ah, rats!” returned the other. McTeague kept silence. The two billiard players departed. The huge music-box struck into a fresh tune. “Huh!” exclaimed Marcus, with a short laugh, “guess you’re in love.” McTeague gasped, and shuffled his enormous feet under the table. “Well, somethun’s bitun you, anyhow,” pursued Marcus. “Maybe I can help you. We’re pals, you know. Better tell me what’s up; guess we can straighten ut out. Ah, go on; spit ut out.” The situation was abominable. McTeague could not rise to it. Marcus was his best friend, his only friend. They were “pals” and McTeague was very fond of him. Yet they were both in love, presumably, with the same girl, and now Marcus would try and force the secret out of him; would rush blindly at the rock upon which the two must split, stirred by the very best of motives, wishing only to be of service. Besides this, there was nobody to whom McTeague would have better preferred to tell his troubles than to Marcus, and yet about this trouble, the greatest trouble of his life, he must keep silent; must refrain from speaking of it to Marcus above everybody.

Page | 236 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

McTeague began dimly to feel that life was too much for him. How had it all come about? A month ago he was perfectly content; he was calm and peaceful, tak- ing his little pleasures as he found them. His life had shaped itself; was, no doubt, to continue always along these same lines. A woman had entered his small world and instantly there was discord. The disturbing element had appeared. Wherever the woman had put her foot a score of distressing complications had sprung up, like the sudden growth of strange and puzzling flowers. “Say, Mac, go on; let’s have ut straight,” urged Marcus, leaning toward him. “Has any duck been doing you dirt?” he cried, his face crimson on the instant. “No,” said McTeague, helplessly. “Come along, old man,” persisted Marcus; “let’s have ut. What is the row? I’ll do all I can to help you.” It was more than McTeague could bear. The situation had got beyond him. Stu- pidly he spoke, his hands deep in his pockets, his head rolled forward. “It’s—it’s Miss Sieppe,” he said. “Trina, my cousin? How do you mean?” inquired Marcus sharply. “I—I—I don’ know,” stammered McTeague, hopelessly confounded. “You mean,” cried Marcus, suddenly enlightened, “that you are—that you, too.” McTeague stirred in his chair, looking at the walls of the room, avoiding the other’s glance. He nodded his head, then suddenly broke out: “I can’t help it. It ain’t my fault, is it?” Marcus was struck dumb; he dropped back in his chair breathless. Suddenly McTeague found his tongue. “I tell you, Mark, I can’t help it. I don’t know how it happened. It came on so slow that I was, that—that—that it was done before I knew it, before I could help myself. I know we’re pals, us two, and I knew how—how you and Miss Sieppe were. I know now, I knew then; but that wouldn’t have made any difference. Before I knew it—it—it—there I was. I can’t help it. I wouldn’t ‘a’ had ut happen for anything, if I could ‘a’ stopped it, but I don’ know, it’s something that’s just stronger than you are, that’s all. She came there—Miss Sieppe came to the parlors there three or four times a week, and she was the first girl I had ever known,—and you don’ know! Why, I was so close to her I touched her face every minute, and her mouth, and smelt her hair and her breath—oh, you don’t know anything about it. I can’t give you any idea. I don’ know exactly myself; I only know how I’m fixed. I—I—it’s been done; it’s too late, there’s no going back. Why, I can’t think of anything else night and day. It’s everything. It’s—it’s—oh, it’s everything! I—I—why, Mark, it’s everything—I can’t explain.” He made a helpless movement with both hands. Never had McTeague been so excited; never had he made so long a speech. His arms moved in fierce, uncertain gestures, his face flushed, his enormous jaws shut together with a sharp click at every pause. It was like some colossal brute trapped in a delicate, invisible mesh, raging, exasperated, powerless to himself. Marcus Schouler said nothing. There was a long silence. Marcus got up and walked to the window and stood looking out, but seeing nothing. “Well, who

Page | 237 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) would have thought of this?” he muttered under his breath. Here was a fix. Mar- cus cared for Trina. There was no doubt in his mind about that. He looked for- ward eagerly to the Sunday afternoon excursions. He liked to be with Trina. He, too, felt the charm of the little girl—the charm of the small, pale forehead; the little chin thrust out as if in confidence and innocence; the heavy, odorous crown of black hair. He liked her immensely. Some day he would speak; he would ask her to marry him. Marcus put off this matter of marriage to some future period; it would be some time—a year, perhaps, or two. The thing did not take definite shape in his mind. Marcus “kept company” with his cousin Trina, but he knew plenty of other girls. For the matter of that, he liked all girls pretty well. Just now the singleness and strength of McTeague’s passion startled him. McTeague would marry Trina that very afternoon if she would have him; but would he— Marcus? No, he would not; if it came to that, no, he would not. Yet he knew he liked Trina. He could say—yes, he could say—he loved her. She was his “girl.” The Sieppes acknowledged him as Trina’s “young man.” Marcus came back to the table and sat down sideways upon it. “Well, what are we going to do about it, Mac?” he said. “I don’ know,” answered McTeague, in great distress. “I don’ want anything to—to come between us, Mark.” “Well, nothun will, you bet!” vociferated the other. “No, sir; you bet not, Mac.” Marcus was thinking hard. He could see very clearly that McTeague loved Tri- na more than he did; that in some strange way this huge, brutal fellow was capa- ble of a greater passion than himself, who was twice as clever. Suddenly Marcus jumped impetuously to a resolution. “Well, say, Mac,” he cried, striking the table with his fist, “go ahead. I guess you— you want her pretty bad. I’ll pull out; yes, I will. I’ll give her up to you, old man.” The sense of his own magnanimity all at once overcame Marcus. He saw him- self as another man, very noble, self- sacrificing; he stood apart and watched this second self with boundless admiration and with infinite pity. He was so good, so magnificent, so heroic, that he almost sobbed. Marcus made a sweeping gesture of resignation, throwing out both his arms, crying: “Mac, I’ll give her up to you. I won’t stand between you.” There were actually tears in Marcus’s eyes as he spoke. There was no doubt he thought himself sin- cere. At that moment he almost believed he loved Trina conscientiously, that he was sacrificing himself for the sake of his friend. The two stood up and faced each other, gripping hands. It was a great moment; even McTeague felt the drama of it. What a fine thing was this friendship between men! the dentist treats his friend for an ulcerated tooth and refuses payment; the friend reciprocates by giving up his girl. This was nobility. Their mutual affection and esteem suddenly increased enormously. It was Damon and Pythias; it was David and Jonathan; nothing could ever estrange them. Now it was for life or death. “I’m much obliged,” murmured McTeague. He could think of nothing better to say. “I’m much obliged,” he repeated; “much obliged, Mark.”

Page | 238 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“That’s all right, that’s all right,” returned Marcus Schouler, bravely, and it oc- curred to him to add, “You’ll be happy together. Tell her for me—tell her—-tell her—” Marcus could not go on. He wrung the dentist’s hand silently. It had not appeared to either of them that Trina might refuse McTeague. McTe- ague’s spirits rose at once. In Marcus’s withdrawal he fancied he saw an end to all his difficulties. Everything would come right, after all. The strained, exalted state of Marcus’s nerves ended by putting him into fine humor as well. His grief suddenly changed to an excess of gaiety. The afternoon was a success. They slapped each other on the back with great blows of the open palms, and they drank each other’s health in a third round of beer. Ten minutes after his renunciation of Trina Sieppe, Marcus astounded McTe- ague with a tremendous feat. “Looka here, Mac. I know somethun you can’t do. I’ll bet you two bits I’ll stump you.” They each put a quarter on the table. “Now watch me,” cried Marcus. He caught up a billiard ball from the rack, poised it a moment in front of his face, then with a sudden, horrifying distension of his jaws crammed it into his mouth, and shut his lips over it. For an instant McTeague was stupefied, his eyes bulging. Then an enormous laugh shook him. He roared and shouted, swaying in his chair, slapping his knee. What a josher was this Marcus! Sure, you never could tell what he would do next. Marcus slipped the ball out, wiped it on the tablecloth, and passed it to McTeague. “Now let’s see you do it.” McTeague fell suddenly grave. The matter was serious. He parted his thick mustaches and opened his enormous jaws like an anaconda. The ball disappeared inside his mouth. Marcus applauded vociferously, shouting, “Good work!” McTe- ague reached for the money and put it in his vest pocket, nodding his head with a knowing air. Then suddenly his face grew purple, his jaws moved convulsively, he pawed at his cheeks with both hands. The billiard ball had slipped into his mouth easily enough; now, however, he could not get it out again. It was terrible. The dentist rose to his feet, stumbling about among the dogs, his face working, his eyes starting. Try as he would, he could not stretch his jaws wide enough to slip the ball out. Marcus lost his wits, swearing at the top of his voice. McTeague sweated with terror; inarticulate sounds came from his crammed mouth; he waved his arms wildly; all the four dogs caught the excitement and be- gan to bark. A waiter rushed in, the two billiard players returned, a little crowd formed. There was a veritable scene. All at once the ball slipped out of McTeague’s jaws as easily as it had gone in. What a relief! He dropped into a chair, wiping his forehead, gasping for breath. On the strength of the occasion Marcus Schouler invited the entire group to drink with him. By the time the affair was over and the group dispersed it was after five. Mar- cus and McTeague decided they would ride home on the cars. But they soon found

Page | 239 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) this impossible. The dogs would not follow. Only Alexander, Marcus’s new setter, kept his place at the rear of the car. The other three lost their senses immediately, running wildly about the streets with their heads in the air, or suddenly starting off at a furious gallop directly away from the car. Marcus whistled and shouted and lathered with rage in vain. The two friends were obliged to walk. When they finally reached Polk Street, Marcus shut up the three dogs in the hospital. Alexander he brought back to the flat with him. There was a minute back yard in the rear, where Marcus had made a kennel for Alexander out of an old water barrel. Before he thought of his own supper Marcus put Alexander to bed and fed him a couple of dog biscuits. McTeague had followed him to the yard to keep him company. Alexander settled to his supper at once, chewing vigorously at the biscuit, his head on one side. “What you going to do about this—about that—about—about my cousin now, Mac?” inquired Marcus. McTeague shook his head helplessly. It was dark by now and cold. The little back yard was grimy and full of odors. McTeague was tired with their long walk. All his uneasiness about his affair with Trina had returned. No, surely she was not for him. Marcus or some other man would win her in the end. What could she ever see to desire in him—in him, a clumsy giant, with hands like wooden mallets? She had told him once that she would not marry him. Was that not final? “I don’ know what to do, Mark,” he said. “Well, you must make up to her now,” answered Marcus. “Go and call on her.” McTeague started. He had not thought of calling on her. The idea frightened him a little. “Of course,” persisted Marcus, “that’s the proper caper. What did you expect? Did you think you was never going to see her again?” “I don’ know, I don’ know,” responded the dentist, looking stupidly at the dog. “You know where they live,” continued Marcus Schouler. “Over at B Street sta- tion, across the bay. I’ll take you over there whenever you want to go. I tell you what, we’ll go over there Washington’s Birthday. That’s this next Wednesday; sure, they’ll be glad to see you.” It was good of Marcus. All at once McTeague rose to an appreciation of what his friend was doing for him. He stammered: “Say, Mark—you’re—you’re all right, anyhow.” “Why, pshaw!” said Marcus. “That’s all right, old man. I’d like to see you two fixed, that’s all. We’ll go over Wednesday, sure.” They turned back to the house. Alexander left off eating and watched them go away, first with one eye, then with the other. But he was too self-respecting to whimper. However, by the time the two friends had reached the second landing on the back stairs a terrible commotion was under way in the little yard. They rushed to an open window at the end of the hall and looked down. A thin board fence separated the flat’s back yard from that used by the branch post-office. In the latter place lived a collie dog. He and Alexander had smelt each other out, blowing through the cracks of the fence at each other. Suddenly the

Page | 240 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) quarrel had exploded on either side of the fence. The dogs raged at each other, snarling and barking, frantic with hate. Their teeth gleamed. They tore at the fence with their front paws. They filled the whole night with their clamor. “By damn!” cried Marcus, “they don’t love each other. Just listen; wouldn’t that make a fight if the two got together? Have to try it some day.”

CHAPTER 5 Wednesday morning, Washington’s Birthday, McTeague rose very early and shaved himself. Besides the six mournful concertina airs, the dentist knew one song. Whenever he shaved, he sung this song; never at any other time. His voice was a bellowing roar, enough to make the window rattle. Just now he woke up all the lodgers in his hall with it. It was a lamentable wail: “No one to love, none to caress, Left all alone in this world’s wilderness.” As he paused to strop his razor, Marcus came into his room, half-dressed, a startling in red flannels. Marcus often ran back and forth between his room and the dentist’s “Parlors” in all sorts of undress. Old Miss Baker had seen him thus several times through her half-open door, as she sat in her room listening and waiting. The old dressmaker was shocked out of all expression. She was outraged, offended, pursing her lips, putting up her head. She talked of complaining to the landlady. “And Mr. Grannis right next door, too. You can understand how trying it is for both of us.” She would come out in the hall after one of these apparitions, her little false curls shaking, talking loud and shrill to any one in reach of her voice. “Well,” Marcus would shout, “shut your door, then, if you don’t want to see. Look out, now, here I come again. Not even a porous plaster on me this time.” On this Wednesday morning Marcus called McTeague out into the hall, to the head of the stairs that led down to the street door. “Come and listen to Maria, Mac,” said he. Maria sat on the next to the lowest step, her chin propped by her two fists. The red-headed Polish Jew, the ragman Zerkow, stood in the doorway. He was talking eagerly. “Now, just once more, Maria,” he was saying. “Tell it to us just once more.” Maria’s voice came up the stairway in a monotone. Marcus and McTeague caught a phrase from time to time. “There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of them gold—just that punch-bowl was worth a fortune-thick, fat, red gold.” “Get onto to that, will you?” observed Marcus. “The old skin has got her started on the plate. Ain’t they a pair for you?” “And it rang like bells, didn’t it?” prompted Zerkow. “Sweeter’n church bells, and clearer.” “Ah, sweeter’n bells. Wasn’t that punch-bowl awful heavy?” “All you could do to lift it.” “I know. Oh, I know,” answered Zerkow, clawing at his lips. “Where did it all go to? Where did it go?”

Page | 241 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Maria shook her head. “It’s gone, anyhow.” “Ah, gone, gone! Think of it! The punch-bowl gone, and the engraved ladle, and the plates and goblets. What a sight it must have been all heaped together!” “It was a wonderful sight.” “Yes, wonderful; it must have been.” On the lower steps of that cheap flat, the Mexican woman and the red-haired Polish Jew mused long over that vanished, half-mythical gold plate. Marcus and the dentist spent Washington’s Birthday across the bay. The jour- ney over was one long agony to McTeague. He shook with a formless, uncertain dread; a dozen times he would have turned back had not Marcus been with him. The stolid giant was as nervous as a schoolboy. He fancied that his call upon Miss Sieppe was an outrageous affront. She would freeze him with a stare; he would be shown the door, would be ejected, disgraced. As they got off the local train at B Street station they suddenly collided with the whole of Sieppes—the mother, father, three children, and Trina—equipped for one of their eternal picnics. They were to go to Schuetzen Park, within walking distance of the station. They were grouped about four lunch baskets. One of the children, a little boy, held a black greyhound by a rope around its neck. Trina wore a blue cloth skirt, a striped shirt waist, and a white sailor; about her round waist was a belt of imitation alligator skin. At once Mrs. Sieppe began to talk to Marcus. He had written of their coming, but the picnic had been decided upon after the arrival of his letter. Mrs. Sieppe ex- plained this to him. She was an immense old lady with a pink face and wonderful hair, absolutely white. The Sieppes were a German-Swiss family. “We go to der park, Schuetzen Park, mit alle dem childern, a little eggs-kursion, eh not soh? We breathe der freshes air, a celubration, a pignic bei der seashore on. Ach, dot wull be soh gay, ah?” “You bet it will. It’ll be outa sight,” cried Marcus, enthusiastic in an instant. “This is m’ friend Doctor McTeague I wrote you about, Mrs. Sieppe.” “Ach, der doktor,” cried Mrs. Sieppe. McTeague was presented, shaking hands gravely as Marcus shouldered him from one to the other. Mr. Sieppe was a little man of a military aspect, full of importance, taking him- self very seriously. He was a member of a rifle team. Over his shoulder was slung a Springfield rifle, while his breast was decorated by five bronze . Trina was delighted. McTeague was dumfounded. She appeared positively glad to see him. “How do you do, Doctor McTeague,” she said, smiling at him and shaking his hand. “It’s nice to see you again. Look, see how fine my filling is.” She lifted a cor- ner of her lip and showed him the clumsy gold bridge. Meanwhile, Mr. Sieppe toiled and perspired. Upon him devolved the respon- sibility of the excursion. He seemed to consider it a matter of vast importance, a veritable expedition.

Page | 242 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Owgooste!” he shouted to the little boy with the black greyhound, “you will der hound und basket number three carry. Der tervins,” he added, calling to the two smallest boys, who were dressed exactly alike, “will releef one unudder mit der camp-stuhl und basket number four. Dat is comprehend, hay? When we make der start, you childern will in der advance march. Dat is your orders. But we do not start,” he exclaimed, excitedly; “we remain. Ach Gott, Selina, who does not arrive.” Selina, it appeared, was a niece of Mrs. Sieppe’s. They were on the point of starting without her, when she suddenly arrived, very much out of breath. She was a slender, unhealthy looking girl, who overworked herself giving lessons in hand-painting at twenty-five cents an hour. McTeague was presented. They all be- gan to talk at once, filling the little station-house with a confusion of tongues. “Attention!” cried Mr. Sieppe, his gold-headed cane in one hand, his Spring- field in the other. “Attention! We depart.” The four little boys moved off ahead; the greyhound suddenly began to bark, and tug at his leash. The others picked up their bundles. “Vorwarts!” shouted Mr. Sieppe, waving his rifle and assuming the attitude of a lieutenant of infantry leading a charge. The party set off down the railroad track. Mrs. Sieppe walked with her husband, who constantly left her side to shout an order up and down the line. Marcus followed with Selina. McTeague found himself with Trina at the end of the procession. “We go off on these picnics almost every week,” said Trina, by way of a begin- ning, “and almost every holiday, too. It is a custom.” “Yes, yes, a custom,” answered McTeague, nodding; “a custom—that’s the word.” “Don’t you think picnics are fine fun, Doctor McTeague?” she continued. “You take your lunch; you leave the dirty city all day; you race about in the open air, and when lunchtime comes, oh, aren’t you hungry? And the woods and the grass smell so fine!” “I don’ know, Miss Sieppe,” he answered, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground between the rails. “I never went on a picnic.” “Never went on a picnic?” she cried, astonished. “Oh, you’ll see what fun we’ll have. In the morning father and the children dig clams in the mud by the shore, an’ we bake them, and—oh, there’s thousands of things to do.” “Once I went sailing on the bay,” said McTeague. “It was in a tugboat; we fished off the heads. I caught three codfishes.” “I’m afraid to go out on the bay,” answered Trina, shaking her head, “sailboats tip over so easy. A cousin of mine, Selina’s brother, was drowned one Decoration Day. They never found his body. Can you swim, Doctor McTeague?” “I used to at the mine.” “At the mine? Oh, yes, I remember, Marcus told me you were a miner once.” “I was a car-boy; all the car-boys used to swim in the reservoir by the ditch every Thursday evening. One of them was bit by a rattlesnake once while he

Page | 243 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) was dressing. He was a Frenchman, named Andrew. He swelled up and began to twitch.” “Oh, how I hate snakes! They’re so crawly and graceful—but, just the same, I like to watch them. You know that drug store over in town that has a showcase full of live ones?” “We killed the rattler with a cart whip.” “How far do you think you could swim? Did you ever try? D’you think you could swim a mile?” “A mile? I don’t know. I never tried. I guess I could.” “I can swim a little. Sometimes we all go out to the Crystal Baths.” “The Crystal Baths, huh? Can you swim across the tank?” “Oh, I can swim all right as long as papa holds my chin up. Soon as he takes his hand away, down I go. Don’t you hate to get water in your ears?” “Bathing’s good for you.” “If the water’s too warm, it isn’t. It weakens you.” Mr. Sieppe came running down the tracks, waving his cane. “To one side,” he shouted, motioning them off the track; “der drain gomes.” A local passenger train was just passing B Street station, some quarter of a mile be- hind them. The party stood to one side to let it pass. Marcus put a nickel and two crossed pins upon the rail, and waved his hat to the passengers as the train roared past. The children shouted shrilly. When the train was gone, they all rushed to see the nickel and the crossed pins. The nickel had been jolted off, but the pins had been flattened out so that they bore a faint resemblance to opened scissors. A great contention arose among the children for the possession of these “scissors.” Mr. Sieppe was obliged to intervene. He reflected gravely. It was a matter of tremen- dous moment. The whole party halted, awaiting his decision. “Attend now,” he suddenly exclaimed. “It will not be soh soon. At der end of der day, ven we shall have home gecommen, den wull it pe adjudge, eh? A reward of merit to him who der bes’ pehaves. It is an order. Vorwarts!” “That was a Sacramento train,” said Marcus to Selina as they started off; “it was, for a fact.” “I know a girl in Sacramento,” Trina told McTeague. “She’s forewoman in a glove store, and she’s got consumption.” “I was in Sacramento once,” observed McTeague, “nearly eight years ago.” “Is it a nice place—as nice as San Francisco?” “It’s hot. I practised there for a while.” “I like San Francisco,” said Trina, looking across the bay to where the city piled itself upon its hills. “So do I,” answered McTeague. “Do you like it better than living over here?” “Oh, sure, I wish we lived in the city. If you want to go across for anything it takes up the whole day.” “Yes, yes, the whole day—almost.” “Do you know many people in the city? Do you know anybody named Oelber-

Page | 244 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) mann? That’s my uncle. He has a wholesale toy store in the Mission. They say he’s awful rich.” “No, I don’ know him.” “His stepdaughter wants to be a nun. Just fancy! And Mr. Oelbermann won’t have it. He says it would be just like burying his child. Yes, she wants to enter the convent of the Sacred Heart. Are you a Catholic, Doctor McTeague?” “No. No, I—” “Papa is a Catholic. He goes to Mass on the feast days once in a while. But mamma’s Lutheran.” “The Catholics are trying to get control of the schools,” observed McTeague, suddenly remembering one of Marcus’s political tirades. “That’s what cousin Mark says. We are going to send the twins to the kinder- garten next month.” “What’s the kindergarten?” “Oh, they teach them to make things out of straw and toothpicks—kind of a play place to keep them off the street.” “There’s one up on Sacramento Street, not far from Polk Street. I saw the sign.” “I know where. Why, Selina used to play the piano there.” “Does she play the piano?” “Oh, you ought to hear her. She plays fine. Selina’s very accomplished. She paints, too.” “I can play on the concertina.” “Oh, can you? I wish you’d brought it along. Next time you will. I hope you’ll come often on our picnics. You’ll see what fun we’ll have.” “Fine day for a picnic, ain’t it? There ain’t a cloud.” “That’s so,” exclaimed Trina, looking up, “not a single cloud. Oh, yes; there is one, just over Telegraph Hill.” “That’s smoke.” “No, it’s a cloud. Smoke isn’t white that way.” “’Tis a cloud.” “I knew I was right. I never say a thing unless I’m pretty sure.” “It looks like a dog’s head.” “Don’t it? Isn’t Marcus fond of dogs?” “He got a new dog last week—a setter.” “Did he?” “Yes. He and I took a lot of dogs from his hospital out for a walk to the Cliff House last Sunday, but we had to walk all the way home, because they wouldn’t follow. You’ve been out to the Cliff House?” “Not for a long time. We had a picnic there one Fourth of July, but it rained. Don’t you love the ocean?” “Yes—yes, I like it pretty well.” “Oh, I’d like to go off in one of those big sailing ships. Just away, and away, and away, anywhere. They’re different from a little yacht. I’d love to travel.” “Sure; so would I.”

Page | 245 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Papa and mamma came over in a sailing ship. They were twenty-one days. Mamma’s uncle used to be a sailor. He was captain of a steamer on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland.” “Halt!” shouted Mr. Sieppe, brandishing his rifle. They had arrived at the gates of the park. All at once McTeague turned cold. He had only a quarter in his pocket. What was he expected to do—pay for the whole party, or for Trina and himself, or merely buy his own ticket? And even in this latter case would a quarter be enough? He lost his wits, rolling his eyes helplessly. Then it occurred to him to feign a great abstraction, pretending not to know that the time was come to pay. He looked in- tently up and down the tracks; perhaps a train was coming. “Here we are,” cried Trina, as they came up to the rest of the party, crowded about the entrance. “Yes, yes,” observed McTeague, his head in the air. “Gi’ me four bits, Mac,” said Marcus, coming up. “Here’s where we shell out.” “I—I—I only got a quarter,” mumbled the dentist, miserably. He felt that he had ruined himself forever with Trina. What was the use of trying to win her? Des- tiny was against him. “I only got a quarter,” he stammered. He was on the point of adding that he would not go in the park. That seemed to be the only alternative. “Oh, all right!” said Marcus, easily. “I’ll pay for you, and you can square with me when we go home.” They filed into the park, Mr. Sieppe counting them off as they entered. “Ah,” said Trina, with a long breath, as she and McTeague pushed through the wicket, “here we are once more, Doctor.” She had not appeared to notice McTe- ague’s embarrassment. The difficulty had been tided over somehow. Once more McTeague felt himself saved. “To der beach!” shouted Mr. Sieppe. They had checked their baskets at the peanut stand. The whole party trooped down to the seashore. The greyhound was turned loose. The children raced on ahead. From one of the larger parcels Mrs. Sieppe had drawn forth a small tin steam- boat—August’s birthday present—a gaudy little toy which could be steamed up and navigated by means of an alcohol lamp. Her trial trip was to be made this morning. “Gi’ me it, gi’ me it,” shouted August, dancing around his father. “Not soh, not soh,” cried Mr. Sieppe, bearing it aloft. “I must first der eggsper- imunt make.” “No, no!” wailed August. “I want to play with ut.” “Obey!” thundered Mr. Sieppe. August subsided. A little jetty ran part of the way into the water. Here, after a careful study of the directions printed on the cover of the box, Mr. Sieppe began to fire the little boat. “I want to put ut in the wa-ater,” cried August. “Stand back!” shouted his parent. “You do not know so well as me; dere is dandger. Mitout attention he will eggsplode.” “I want to play with ut,” protested August, beginning to cry. “Ach, soh; you cry, bube!” vociferated Mr. Sieppe. “Mommer,” addressing Mrs. Sieppe, “he will soh soon be ge-whipt, eh?” “I want my boa-wut,” screamed August, dancing.

Page | 246 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Silence!” roared Mr. Sieppe. The little boat began to hiss and smoke. “Soh,” observed the father, “he gommence. Attention! I put him in der water.” He was very excited. The perspiration dripped from the back of his neck. The little boat was launched. It hissed more furiously than ever. Clouds of steam rolled from it, but it refused to move. “You don’t know how she wo-rks,” sobbed August. “I know more soh mudge as der grossest liddle fool as you,” cried Mr. Sieppe, fiercely, his face purple. “You must give it sh—shove!” exclaimed the boy. “Den he eggsplode, idiot!” shouted his father. All at once the boiler of the steamer blew up with a sharp crack. The little tin toy turned over and sank out of sight before any one could interfere. “Ah—h! Yah! Yah!” yelled August. “It’s go-one!” Instantly Mr. Sieppe boxed his ears. There was a lamentable scene. August rent the air with his outcries; his father shook him till his boots danced on the jetty, shouting into his face: “Ach, idiot! Ach, imbecile! Ach, miserable! I tol’ you he eggsplode. Stop your cry. Stop! It is an order. Do you wish I drow you in der water, eh? Speak. Silence, bube! Mommer, where ist mein stick? He will der grossest whippun ever of his life receive.” Little by little the boy subsided, swallowing his sobs, knuckling his eyes, gazing ruefully at the spot where the boat had sunk. “Dot is better soh,” commented Mr. Sieppe, finally releasing him. “Next dime berhaps you will your fat’er better pelief. Now, no more. We will der glams ge- dig, Mommer, a fire. Ach, himmel! we have der pfeffer forgotten.” The work of clam digging began at once, the little boys taking off their shoes and stockings. At first August refused to be comforted, and it was not until his fa- ther drove him into the water with his gold-headed cane that he consented to join the others. What a day that was for McTeague! What a never-to-be- forgotten day! He was with Trina constantly. They laughed together—she demurely, her lips closed tight, her little chin thrust out, her small pale nose, with its adorable little freckles, wrinkling; he roared with all the force of his lungs, his enormous mouth distended, striking sledge- hammer blows upon his knee with his clenched fist. The lunch was delicious. Trina and her mother made a clam chowder that melt- ed in one’s mouth. The lunch baskets were emptied. The party were fully two hours eating. There were huge loaves of rye bread full of grains of chickweed. There were weiner-wurst and frankfurter sausages. There was unsalted butter. There were pretzels. There was cold underdone chicken, which one ate in slices, plastered with a wonderful kind of mustard that did not sting. There were dried apples, that gave Mr. Sieppe the hiccoughs. There were a dozen bottles of beer, and, last of all, a crowning achievement, a marvellous Gotha truffle. After lunch came tobacco. Stuffed to the eyes, McTeague drowsed over his pipe, prone on his back inthe sun, while Trina, Mrs. Sieppe, and Selina washed the dishes. In the afternoon Mr. Sieppe disappeared. They heard the reports of his rifle on the range. The others

Page | 247 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) swarmed over the park, now around the swings, now in the Casino, now in the museum, now invading the merry-go-round. At half-past five o’clock Mr. Sieppe marshalled the party together. It was time to return home. The family insisted that Marcus and McTeague should take supper with them at their home and should stay over night. Mrs. Sieppe argued they could get no de- cent supper if they went back to the city at that hour; that they could catch an early morning boat and reach their business in good time. The two friends accepted. The Sieppes lived in a little box of a house at the foot of B Street, the first house to the right as one went up from the station. It was two stories high, with a funny red mansard roof of oval slates. The interior was cut up into innumerable tiny rooms, some of them so small as to be hardly better than sleeping closets. In the back yard was a contrivance for pumping water from the cistern that interested McTeague at once. It was a dog-wheel, a huge revolving box in which the unhappy black greyhound spent most of his waking hours. It was his kennel; he slept in it. From time to time during the day Mrs. Sieppe appeared on the back doorstep, cry- ing shrilly, “Hoop, hoop!” She threw lumps of coal at him, waking him to his work. They were all very tired, and went to bed early. After great discussion it was decided that Marcus would sleep upon the lounge in the front parlor. Trina would sleep with August, giving up her room to McTeague. Selina went to her home, a block or so above the Sieppes’s. At nine o’clock Mr. Sieppe showed McTeague to his room and left him to himself with a newly lighted candle. For a long time after Mr. Sieppe had gone McTeague stood motionless in the middle of the room, his elbows pressed close to his sides, looking obliquely from the corners of his eyes. He hardly dared to move. He was in Trina’s room. It was an ordinary little room. A clean white matting was on the floor; gray pa- per, spotted with pink and green flowers, covered the walls. In one corner, under a white netting, was a little bed, the woodwork gayly painted with knots of bright flowers. Near it, against the wall, was a black walnut bureau. A work-table with spiral legs stood by the window, which was hung with a green and gold window curtain. Opposite the window the closet door stood ajar, while in the corner across from the bed was a tiny washstand with two clean towels. And that was all. But it was Trina’s room. McTeague was in his lady’s bower; it seemed to him a little nest, intimate, discreet. He felt hideously out of place. He was an intruder; he, with his enormous feet, his colossal bones, his crude, brutal gestures. The mere weight of his limbs, he was sure, would crush the little bed-stead like an eggshell. Then, as this first sensation wore off, he began to feel the charm of the little chamber. It was as though Trina were close by, but invisible. McTeague felt all the delight of her presence without the embarrassment that usually accompanied it. He was near to her—nearer than he had ever been before. He saw into her daily life, her little ways and manners, her habits, her very thoughts. And was there not in the air of that room a certain faint perfume that he knew, that recalled her to his mind with marvellous vividness?

Page | 248 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

As he put the candle down upon the bureau he saw her hair- brush lying there. Instantly he picked it up, and, without knowing why, held it to his face. With what a delicious odor was it redolent! That heavy, enervating odor of her hair—her won- derful, royal hair! The smell of that little hairbrush was talismanic. He had but to close his eyes to see her as distinctly as in a mirror. He saw her tiny, round figure, dressed all in black—for, curiously enough, it was his very first impression of Tri- na that came back to him now—not the Trina of the later occasions, not the Trina of the blue cloth skirt and white sailor. He saw her as he had seen her the day that Marcus had introduced them: saw her pale, round face; her narrow, half-open eyes, blue like the eyes of a baby; her tiny, pale ears, suggestive of anaemia; the freckles across the bridge of her nose; her pale lips; the tiara of royal black hair; and, above all, the delicious poise of the head, tipped back as though by the weight of all that hair—the poise that thrust out her chin a little, with the movement that was so confiding, so innocent, so nearly infantile. McTeague went softly about the room from one object to another, beholding Trina in everything he touched or looked at. He came at last to the closet door. It was ajar. He opened it wide, and paused upon the threshold. Trina’s clothes were hanging there—skirts and waists, jackets, and stiff white petticoats. What a vision! For an instant McTeague caught his breath, spell- bound. If he had suddenly discovered Trina herself there, smiling at him, hold- ing out her hands, he could hardly have been more overcome. Instantly he rec- ognized the black dress she had worn on that famous first day. There it was, the little jacket she had carried over her arm the day he had terrified her with his blundering declaration, and still others, and others—a whole group of Trinas faced him there. He went farther into the closet, touching the clothes gingerly, stroking them softly with his huge leathern palms. As he stirred them a delicate perfume disengaged itself from the folds. Ah, that exquisite feminine odor! It was not only her hair now, it was Trina herself—her mouth, her hands, her neck; the indescribably sweet, fleshly aroma that was a part of her, pure and clean, and redolent of youth and freshness. All at once, seized with an unreasoned impulse, McTeague opened his huge arms and gathered the little garments close to him, plunging his face deep amongst them, savoring their delicious odor with long breaths of luxury and supreme content.


The picnic at Schuetzen Park decided matters. McTeague began to call on Trina regularly Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. He took Marcus Schouler’s place. Sometimes Marcus accompanied him, but it was generally to meet Selina by ap- pointment at the Sieppes’s house. But Marcus made the most of his renunciation of his cousin. He remembered his pose from time to time. He made McTeague unhappy and bewildered by wring- ing his hand, by venting sighs that seemed to tear his heart out, or by giving evi-

Page | 249 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) dences of an infinite melancholy. “What is my life!” he would exclaim. “What is left for me? Nothing, by damn!” And when McTeague would attempt remonstrance, he would cry: “Never mind, old man. Never mind me. Go, be happy. I forgive you.” Forgive what? McTeague was all at sea, was harassed with the thought of some shadowy, irreparable injury he had done his friend. “Oh, don’t think of me!” Marcus would exclaim at other times, even when Trina was by. “Don’t think of me; I don’t count any more. I ain’t in it.” Marcus seemed to take great pleasure in contemplating the wreck of his life. There is no doubt he enjoyed himself hugely during these days. The Sieppes were at first puzzled as well over this change of front. “Trina has den a new younge man,” cried Mr. Sieppe. “First Schouler, now der doktor, eh? What die tevil, I say!” Weeks passed, February went, March came in very rainy, putting a stop to all their picnics and Sunday excursions. One Wednesday afternoon in the second week in March McTeague came over to call on Trina, bringing his concertina with him, as was his custom nowadays. As he got off the train at the station he was surprised to find Trina waiting for him. “This is the first day it hasn’t rained in weeks,” she explained, “an’ I thought it would be nice to walk.” “Sure, sure,” assented McTeague. B Street station was nothing more than a little shed. There was no ticket of- fice, nothing but a couple of whittled and carven benches. It was built close to the railroad tracks, just across which was the dirty, muddy shore of San Francisco Bay. About a quarter of a mile back from the station was the edge of the town of Oakland. Between the station and the first houses of the town lay immense salt flats, here and there broken by winding streams of black water. They were covered with a growth of wiry grass, strangely discolored in places by enormous stains of orange yellow. Near the station a bit of fence painted with a cigar advertisement reeled over in- to the mud, while under its lee lay an abandoned gravel wagon with dished wheels. The station was connected with the town by the extension of B Street, which struck across the flats geometrically straight, a file of tall poles with intervening wires marching along with it. At the station these were headed by an iron electric-light pole that, with its supports and outriggers, looked for all the world like an immense grasshopper on its hind legs. Across the flats, at the fringe of the town, were the dump heaps, the figures of a few Chinese rag-pickers moving over them. Far to the left the view was shut off by the immense red-brown drum of the gas-works; to the right it was bounded by the chimneys and workshops of an iron foundry. Across the railroad tracks, to seaward, one saw the long stretch of black mud bank left bare by the tide, which was far out, nearly half a mile. Clouds of sea-gulls were forever rising and settling upon this mud bank; a wrecked and abandoned wharf crawled over it on tottering legs; close in an old sailboat lay canted on her bilge.

Page | 250 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

But farther on, across the yellow waters of the bay, beyond Goat Island, lay San Francisco, a blue line of hills, rugged with roofs and spires. Far to the west- ward opened the Golden Gate, a bleak cutting in the sand-hills, through which one caught a glimpse of the open Pacific. The station at B Street was solitary; no trains passed at this hour; except the distant rag-pickers, not a soul was in sight. The wind blew strong, carrying with it the mingled smell of salt, of tar, of dead seaweed, and of bilge. The sky hung low and brown; at long intervals a few drops of rain fell. Near the station Trina and McTeague sat on the roadbed of the tracks, at the edge of the mud bank, making the most out of the landscape, enjoying the open air, the salt marshes, and the sight of the distant water. From time to time McTeague played his six mournful airs upon his concertina. After a while they began walking up and down the tracks, McTeague talking about his profession, Trina listening, very interested and absorbed, trying to understand. “For pulling the roots of the upper molars we use the cow- horn forceps,” con- tinued the dentist, monotonously. “We get the inside beak over the palatal roots and the cow-horn beak over the buccal roots—that’s the roots on the outside, you see. Then we close the forceps, and that breaks right through the alveolus—that’s the part of the socket in the jaw, you understand.” At another moment he told her of his one unsatisfied desire. “Some day I’m going to have a big gilded tooth outside my window for a sign. Those big gold teeth are beautiful, beautiful—only they cost so much, I can’t afford one just now.” “Oh, it’s raining,” suddenly exclaimed Trina, holding out her palm. They turned back and reached the station in a drizzle. The afternoon was closing in dark and rainy. The tide was coming back, talking and lapping for miles along the mud bank. Far off across the flats, at the edge of the town, an electric car went by, stringing out a long row of diamond sparks on the overhead wires. “Say, Miss Trina,” said McTeague, after a while, “what’s the good of waiting any longer? Why can’t us two get married?” Trina still shook her head, saying “No” instinctively, in spite of herself. “Why not?” persisted McTeague. “Don’t you like me well enough?” “Yes.” “Then why not?” “Because.” “Ah, come on,” he said, but Trina still shook her head. “Ah, come on,” urged McTeague. He could think of nothing else to say, repeat- ing the same phrase over and over again to all her refusals. “Ah, come on! Ah, come on!” Suddenly he took her in his enormous arms, crushing down her struggle with his immense strength. Then Trina gave up, all in an instant, turning her head to his. They kissed each other, grossly, full in the mouth. A roar and a jarring of the earth suddenly grew near and passed them in a reek of steam and hot air. It was the Overland, with its flaming headlight, on its way across the continent.

Page | 251 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

The passage of the train startled them both. Trina struggled to free herself from McTeague. “Oh, please! please!” she pleaded, on the point of tears. McTeague re- leased her, but in that moment a slight, a barely perceptible, revulsion of feeling had taken place in him. The instant that Trina gave up, the instant she allowed him to kiss her, he thought less of her. She was not so desirable, after all. But this reaction was so faint, so subtle, so intangible, that in another moment he had doubted its oc- currence. Yet afterward it returned. Was there not something gone from Trina now? Was he not disappointed in her for doing that very thing for which he had longed? Was Trina the submissive, the compliant, the attainable just the same, just as deli- cate and adorable as Trina the inaccessible? Perhaps he dimly saw that this must be so, that it belonged to the changeless order of things—the man desiring the woman only for what she withholds; the woman worshipping the man for that which she yields up to him. With each concession gained the man’s desire cools; with every surrender made the woman’s adoration increases. But why should it be so? Trina wrenched herself free and drew back from McTeague, her little chin quiv- ering; her face, even to the lobes of her pale ears, flushed scarlet; her narrow blue eyes brimming. Suddenly she put her head between her hands and began to sob. “Say, say, Miss Trina, listen—listen here, Miss Trina,” cried McTeague, coming forward a step. “Oh, don’t!” she gasped, shrinking. “I must go home,” she cried, springing to her feet. “It’s late. I must. I must. Don’t come with me, please. Oh, I’m so—so,”— she could not find any words. “Let me go alone,” she went on. “You may—you come Sunday. Good-by.” “Good-by,” said McTeague, his head in a whirl at this sudden, unaccountable change. “Can’t I kiss you again?” But Trina was firm now. When it came to his pleading—a mere matter of words—she was strong enough. “No, no, you must not!” she exclaimed, with energy. She was gone in another instant. The dentist, stunned, bewildered, gazed stupidly after her as she ran up the extension of B Street through the rain. But suddenly a great joy took possession of him. He had won her. Trina was to be for him, after all. An enormous smile distended his thick lips; his eyes grew wide, and flashed; and he drew his breath quickly, striking his mallet-like fist upon his knee, and exclaiming under his breath: “I got her, by God! I got her, by God!” At the same time he thought better of himself; his self-respect increased enormously. The man that could win Trina Sieppe was a man of extraordinary ability. Trina burst in upon her mother while the latter was setting a mousetrap in the kitchen. “Oh, mamma!” “Eh? Trina? Ach, what has happun?” Trina told her in a breath. “Soh soon?” was Mrs. Sieppe’s first comment. “Eh, well, what you cry for, then?” “I don’t know,” wailed Trina, plucking at the end of her handkerchief.

Page | 252 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“You loaf der younge doktor?” “I don’t know.” “Well, what for you kiss him?” “I don’t know.” “You don’ know, you don’ know? Where haf your sensus gone, Trina? You kiss der doktor. You cry, and you don’ know. Is ut Marcus den?” “No, it’s not Cousin Mark.” “Den ut must be der doktor.” Trina made no answer. “Eh?” “I—I guess so.” “You loaf him?” “I don’t know.” Mrs. Sieppe set down the mousetrap with such violence that it sprung with a sharp snap.

CHAPTER 6 No, Trina did not know. “Do I love him? Do I love him?” A thousand times she put the question to herself during the next two or three days. At night she hardly slept, but lay broad awake for hours in her little, gayly painted bed, with its white netting, torturing herself with doubts and questions. At times she remembered the scene in the station with a veritable agony of shame, and at other times she was ashamed to recall it with a thrill of joy. Nothing could have been more sudden, more unexpected, than that surrender of herself. For over a year she had thought that Marcus would some day be her husband. They would be married, she sup- posed, some time in the future, she did not know exactly when; the matter did not take definite shape in her mind. She liked Cousin Mark very well. And then sud- denly this cross-current had set in; this blond giant had appeared, this huge, stolid fellow, with his immense, crude strength. She had not loved him at first, that was certain. The day he had spoken to her in his “Parlors” she had only been terrified. If he had confined himself to merely speaking, as did Marcus, to pleading with her, to wooing her at a distance, forestalling her wishes, showing her little attentions, sending her boxes of candy, she could have easily withstood him. But he had only to take her in his arms, to crush down her struggle with his enormous strength, to subdue her, conquer her by sheer brute force, and she gave up in an instant. But why—why had she done so? Why did she feel the desire, the necessity of being conquered by a superior strength? Why did it please her? Why had it suddenly thrilled her from head to foot with a quick, terrifying gust of passion, the like of which she had never known? Never at his best had Marcus made her feel like that, and yet she had always thought she cared for Cousin Mark more than for any one else. When McTeague had all at once caught her in his huge arms, something had leaped to life in her—something that had hitherto lain dormant, something strong and overpowering. It frightened her now as she thought of it, this second self that

Page | 253 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) had wakened within her, and that shouted and clamored for recognition. And yet, was it to be feared? Was it something to be ashamed of? Was it not, after all, natu- ral, clean, spontaneous? Trina knew that she was a pure girl; knew that this sudden commotion within her carried with it no suggestion of vice. Dimly, as figures seen in a waking dream, these ideas floated through Trina’s mind. It was quite beyond her to realize them clearly; she could not know what they meant. Until that rainy day by the shore of the bay Trina had lived her life with as little self-consciousness as a tree. She was frank, straightforward, a healthy, nat- ural human being, without sex as yet. She was almost like a boy. At once there had been a mysterious disturbance. The woman within her suddenly awoke. Did she love McTeague? Difficult question. Did she choose him for better or for worse, deliberately, of her own free will, or was Trina herself allowed even a choice in the taking of that step that was to make or mar her life? The Woman is awak- ened, and, starting from her sleep, catches blindly at what first her newly opened eyes light upon. It is a spell, a witchery, ruled by chance alone, inexplicable—a fairy queen enamored of a clown with ass’s ears. McTeague had awakened the Woman, and, whether she would or no, she was his now irrevocably; struggle against it as she would, she belonged to him, body and soul, for life or for death. She had not sought it, she had not desired it. The spell was laid upon her. Was it a blessing? Was it a curse? It was all one; she was his, indissolubly, for evil or for good. And he? The very act of submission that bound the woman to him forever had made her seem less desirable in his eyes. Their undoing had already begun. Yet neither of them was to blame. From the first they had not sought each other. Chance had brought them face to face, and mysterious instincts as ungovernable as the winds of heaven were at work knitting their lives together. Neither of them had asked that this thing should be—that their destinies, their very souls, should be the sport of chance. If they could have known, they would have shunned the fearful risk. But they were allowed no voice in the matter. Why should it all be? It had been on a Wednesday that the scene in the B Street station had taken place. Throughout the rest of the week, at every hour of the day, Trina asked herself the same question: “Do I love him? Do I really love him? Is this what love is like?” As she recalled McTeague—recalled his huge, square-cut head, his salient jaw, his shock of yellow hair, his heavy, lumbering body, his slow wits—she found little to admire in him beyond his physical strength, and at such moments she shook her head decisively. “No, surely she did not love him.” Sunday afternoon, however, Mc- Teague called. Trina had prepared a little speech for him. She was to tell him that she did not know what had been the matter with her that Wednesday afternoon; that she had acted like a bad girl; that she did not love him well enough to marry him; that she had told him as much once before. McTeague saw her alone in the little front parlor. The instant she appeared he came straight towards her. She saw what he was bent upon doing. “Wait a minute,” she cried, putting out her hands. “Wait. You don’t understand. I have got some-

Page | 254 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) thing to say to you.” She might as well have talked to the wind. McTeague put aside her hands with a single gesture, and gripped her to him in a bearlike embrace that all but smothered her. Trina was but a reed before that giant strength. McTeague turned her face to his and kissed her again upon the mouth. Where was all Trina’s resolve then? Where was her carefully prepared little speech? Where was all her hesitation and torturing doubts of the last few days? She clasped McTeague’s huge red neck with both her slender arms; she raised her adorable little chin and kissed him in return, exclaiming: “Oh, I do love you! I do love you!” Never afterward were the two so happy as at that moment. A little later in that same week, when Marcus and McTeague were taking lunch at the car conductors’ coffee-joint, the former suddenly exclaimed: “Say, Mac, now that you’ve got Trina, you ought to do more for her. By damn! you ought to, for a fact. Why don’t you take her out somewhere—to the theatre, or somewhere? You ain’t on to your job.” Naturally, McTeague had told Marcus of his success with Trina. Marcus had taken on a grand air. “You’ve got her, have you? Well, I’m glad of it, old man. I am, for a fact. I know you’ll be happy with her. I know how I would have been. I forgive you; yes, I forgive you, freely.” McTeague had not thought of taking Trina to the theatre. “You think I ought to, Mark?” he inquired, hesitating. Marcus answered, with his mouth full of suet pudding: “Why, of course. That’s the proper caper.” “Well—well, that’s so. The theatre—that’s the word.” “Take her to the variety show at the Orpheum. There’s a good show there this week; you’ll have to take Mrs. Sieppe, too, of course,” he added. Marcus was not sure of himself as regarded certain proprieties, nor, for that matter, were any of the people of the little world of Polk Street. The shop girls, the plumbers’ appren- tices, the small tradespeople, and their like, whose social position was not clearly defined, could never be sure how far they could go and yet preserve their “respect- ability.” When they wished to be “proper,” they invariably overdid the thing. It was not as if they belonged to the “tough” element, who had no appearances to keep up. Polk Street rubbed elbows with the “avenue” one block above. There were certain limits which its dwellers could not overstep; but unfortunately for them, these lim- its were poorly defined. They could never be sure of themselves. At an unguarded moment they might be taken for “toughs,” so they generally erred in the other di- rection, and were absurdly formal. No people have a keener eye for the amenities than those whose social position is not assured. “Oh, sure, you’ll have to take her mother,” insisted Marcus. “It wouldn’t be the proper racket if you didn’t.” McTeague undertook the affair. It was an ordeal. Never in his life had he been so perturbed, so horribly anxious. He called upon Trina the following Wednesday and made arrangements. Mrs. Sieppe asked if little August might be included. It would console him for the loss of his steamboat.

Page | 255 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Sure, sure,” said McTeague. “August too—everybody,” he added, vaguely. “We always have to leave so early,” complained Trina, “in order to catch the last boat. Just when it’s becoming interesting.” At this McTeague, acting upon a suggestion of Marcus Schouler’s, insisted they should stay at the flat over night. Marcus and the dentist would give up their rooms to them and sleep at the dog hospital. There was a bed there in the sick ward that old Grannis sometimes occupied when a bad case needed watching. All at once McTeague had an idea, a veritable inspiration. “And we’ll—we’ll—we’ll have—what’s the matter with having something to eat afterward in my “Parlors?” “Vairy goot,” commented Mrs. Sieppe. “Bier, eh? And some damales.” “Oh, I love tamales!” exclaimed Trina, clasping her hands. McTeague returned to the city, rehearsing his instructions over and over. The theatre party began to assume tremendous proportions. First of all, he was to get the seats, the third or fourth row from the front, on the left-hand side, so as to be out of the hearing of the drums in the orchestra; he must make arrangements about the rooms with Marcus, must get in the beer, but not the tamales; must buy for himself a white lawn tie—so Marcus directed; must look to it that Maria Maca- pa put his room in perfect order; and, finally, must meet the Sieppes at the ferry slip at half- past seven the following Monday night. The real labor of the affair began with the buying of the tickets. At the theatre McTeague got into wrong entrances; was sent from one wicket to another; was bewildered, confused; misunderstood directions; was at one moment suddenly convinced that he had not enough money with him, and started to return home. Finally he found himself at the box-office wicket. “Is it here you buy your seats?” “How many?” “Is it here—” “What night do you want ‘em? Yes, sir, here’s the place.” McTeague gravely delivered himself of the formula he had been reciting for the last dozen hours. “I want four seats for Monday night in the fourth row from the front, and on the right-hand side.” “Right hand as you face the house or as you face the stage?” McTeague was dumfounded. “I want to be on the right-hand side,” he insisted, stolidly; adding, “in order to be away from the drums.” “Well, the drums are on the right of the orchestra as you face the stage,” shout- ed the other impatiently; “you want to the left, then, as you face the house.” “I want to be on the right-hand side,” persisted the dentist. Without a word the seller threw out four tickets with a magnificent, supercil- ious gesture. “There’s four seats on the right-hand side, then, and you’re right up against the drums.”

Page | 256 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“But I don’t want to be near the drums,” protested McTeague, beginning to perspire. “Do you know what you want at all?” said the ticket seller with calmness, thrusting his head at McTeague. The dentist knew that he had hurt this young man’s feelings. “I want—I want,” he stammered. The seller slammed down a plan of the house in front of him and began to explain excitedly. It was the one thing lacking to com- plete McTeague’s confusion. “There are your seats,” finished the seller, shoving the tickets into McTeague’s hands. “They are the fourth row from the front, and away from the drums. Now are you satisfied?” “Are they on the right-hand side? I want on the right—no, I want on the left. I want—I don’ know, I don’ know.” The seller roared. McTeague moved slowly away, gazing stupidly at the blue slips of pasteboard. Two girls took his place at the wicket. In another moment Mc- Teague came back, peering over the girls’ shoulders and calling to the seller: “Are these for Monday night?” The other disdained reply. McTeague retreated again timidly, thrusting the tickets into his immense wallet. For a moment he stood thoughtful on the steps of the entrance. Then all at once he became enraged, he did not know exactly why; somehow he felt himself slighted. Once more he came back to the wicket. “You can’t make small of me,” he shouted over the girls’ shoulders; “you—you can’t make small of me. I’ll thump you in the head, you little—you little—you lit- tle—little—little pup.” The ticket seller shrugged his shoulders wearily. “A dollar and a half,” he said to the two girls. McTeague glared at him and breathed loudly. Finally he decided to let the mat- ter drop. He moved away, but on the steps was once more seized with a sense of injury and outraged dignity. “You can’t make small of me,” he called back a last time, wagging his head and shaking his fist. “I will—I will—I will—yes, I will.” He went off muttering. At last Monday night came. McTeague met the Sieppes at the ferry, dressed in a black Prince Albert coat and his best slate-blue trousers, and wearing the made-up lawn necktie that Marcus had selected for him. Trina was very pretty in the black dress that McTeague knew so well. She wore a pair of new gloves. Mrs. Sieppe had on lisle-thread mits, and carried two bananas and an orange in a net reticule. “For Owgooste,” she confided to him. Owgooste was in a Fauntleroy “costume” very much too small for him. Already he had been crying. “Woult you pelief, Doktor, dot bube has torn his stockun alreatty? Walk in der front, you; stop cryun. Where is dot berliceman?” At the door of the theatre McTeague was suddenly seized with a panic terror. He had lost the tickets. He tore through his pockets, ransacked his wallet. They were nowhere to be found. All at once he remembered, and with a gasp of relief removed his hat and took them out from beneath the sweatband.

Page | 257 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

The party entered and took their places. It was absurdly early. The lights were all darkened, the ushers stood under the galleries in groups, the empty auditorium echoing with their noisy talk. Occasionally a waiter with his tray and clean white apron sauntered up and doun the aisle. Directly in front of them was the great iron curtain of the stage, painted with all manner of advertisements. From behind this came a noise of hammering and of occasional loud voices. While waiting they studied their programmes. First was an overture by the orchestra, after which came “The Gleasons, in their mirth-moving musical farce, entitled ‘McMonnigal’s Court-ship.’” This was to be followed by “The Lamont Sis- ters, Winnie and Violet, serio-comiques and skirt dancers.” And after this came a great array of other “artists” and “specialty performers,” musical wonders, acro- bats, lightning artists, ventriloquists, and last of all, “The feature of the evening, the crowning scientific achievement of the nineteenth century, the kinetoscope.” McTeague was excited, dazzled. In five years he had not been twice to the theatre. Now he beheld himself inviting his “girl” and her mother to accompany him. He began to feel that he was a man of the world. He ordered a cigar. Meanwhile the house was filling up. A few side brackets were turned on. The ushers ran up and down the aisles, stubs of tickets between their thumb and finger, and from every part of the auditorium could be heard the sharp clap- clapping of the seats as the ushers flipped them down. A buzz of talk arose. In the gallery a street gamin whistled shrilly, and called to some friends on the other side of the house. “Are they go-wun to begin pretty soon, ma?” whined Owgooste for the fifth or sixth time; adding, “Say, ma, can’t I have some candy?” A cadaverous little boy had appeared in their aisle, chanting, “Candies, French mixed candies, popcorn, peanuts and candy.” The orchestra entered, each man crawling out from an opening under the stage, hardly larger than the gate of a rabbit hutch. At every instant now the crowd increased; there were but few seats that were not taken. The waiters hurried up and down the aisles, their trays laden with beer glasses. A smell of cigar-smoke filled the air, and soon a faint blue haze rose from all corners of the house. “Ma, when are they go-wun to begin?” cried Owgooste. As he spoke the iron ad- vertisement curtain rose, disclosing the curtain proper underneath. This latter cur- tain was quite an affair. Upon it was painted a wonderful picture. A flight of marble steps led down to a stream of water; two white swans, their necks arched like the capital letter S, floated about. At the head of the marble steps were two vases filled with red and yellow flowers, while at the foot was moored a gondola. This gondola was full of red velvet rugs that hung over the side and trailed in the water. In the prow of the gondola a young man in vermilion tights held a mandolin in his left hand, and gave his right to a girl in white satin. A King Charles spaniel, dragging a leading- string in the shape of a huge pink , followed the girl. Seven scarlet roses were scattered upon the two lowest steps, and eight floated in the water. “Ain’t that pretty, Mac?” exclaimed Trina, turning to the dentist. “Ma, ain’t they go-wun to begin now-wow?” whined Owgooste. Suddenly the lights all over the house blazed up. “Ah!” said everybody all at once.

Page | 258 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Ain’t ut crowdut?” murmured Mr. Sieppe. Every seat was taken; many were even standing up. “I always like it better when there is a crowd,” said Trina. She was in great spir- its that evening. Her round, pale face was positively pink. The orchestra banged away at the overture, suddenly finishing with a great flour- ish of violins. A short pause followed. Then the orchestra played a quick-step strain, and the curtain rose on an interior furnished with two red chairs and a green sofa. A girl in a short blue dress and black stockings entered in a hurry and began to dust the two chairs. She was in a great temper, talking very fast, disclaiming against the “new lodger.” It appeared that this latter never paid his rent; that he was given to late hours. Then she came down to the footlights and began to sing in a tremendous voice, hoarse and flat, almost like a man’s. The chorus, of a feeble originality, ran:

“Oh, how happy I will be, When my darling’s face I’ll see; Oh, tell him for to meet me in the moonlight, Down where the golden lilies bloom.”

The orchestra played the tune of this chorus a second time, with certain vari- ations, while the girl danced to it. She sidled to one side of the stage and kicked, then sidled to the other and kicked again. As she finished with the song, a man, evidently the lodger in question, came in. Instantly McTeague exploded in a roar of laughter. The man was intoxicated, his hat was knocked in, one end of his col- lar was unfastened and stuck up into his face, his watch- chain dangled from his pocket, and a yellow satin slipper was tied to a button-hole of his vest; his nose was vermilion, one eye was black and blue. After a short dialogue with the girl, a third actor appeared. He was dressed like a little boy, the girl’s younger broth- er. He wore an immense turned-down collar, and was continually doing hand- springs and wonderful back somersaults. The “act” devolved upon these three people; the lodger making love to the girl in the short blue dress, the boy playing all manner of tricks upon him, giving him tremendous digs in the ribs or slaps upon the back that made him cough, pulling chairs from under him, running on all fours between his legs and upsetting him, knocking him over at inopportune moments. Every one of his falls was accentuated by a bang upon the . The whole humor of the “act” seemed to consist in the tripping up of the intoxi- cated lodger. This horse-play delighted McTeague beyond measure. He roared and shouted every time the lodger went down, slapping his knee, wagging his head. Owgooste crowed shrilly, clapping his hands and continually asking, “What did he say, ma? What did he say?” Mrs. Sieppe laughed immoderately, her huge fat body shaking like a mountain of jelly. She exclaimed from time to time, “Ach, Gott, dot fool!” Even Trina was moved, laughing demurely, her lips closed, putting one hand with its new glove to her mouth.

Page | 259 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

The performance went on. Now it was the “musical marvels,” two men extrav- agantly made up as negro minstrels, with immense shoes and plaid vests. They seemed to be able to wrestle a tune out of almost anything—glass bottles, cigar- box fiddles, strings of sleigh-bells, even graduated brass tubes, which they rubbed with resined fingers. McTeague was stupefied with admiration. “That’s what you call musicians,” he announced gravely. “Home, Sweet Home,” played upon a . Think of that! Art could go no farther. The acrobats left him breathless. They were dazzling young men with beau- tifully parted hair, continually making graceful gestures to the audience. In one of them the dentist fancied he saw a strong resemblance to the boy who had tor- mented the intoxicated lodger and who had turned such marvellous somersaults. Trina could not bear to watch their antics. She turned away her head with a little shudder. “It always makes me sick,” she explained. The beautiful young lady, “The Society Contralto,” in evening dress, who sang the sentimental songs, and carried the sheets of music at which she never looked, pleased McTeague less. Trina, however, was captivated. She grew pensive over

“You do not love me—no; Bid me good-by and go;”

and split her new gloves in her enthusiasm when it was finished. “Don’t you love sad music, Mac?” she murmured. Then came the two comedians. They talked with fearful rapidity; their wit and repartee seemed inexhaustible. “As I was going down the street yesterday—” “Ah! as YOU were going down the street—all right.” “I saw a girl at a window—” “YOU saw a girl at a window.” “And this girl she was a corker—” “Ah! as YOU were going down the street yesterday you saw a girl at a window, and this girl she was a corker. All right, go on.” The other comedian went on. The joke was suddenly evolved. A certain phrase led to a song, which was sung with lightning rapidity, each performer making pre- cisely the same gestures at precisely the same instant. They were irresistible. Mc- Teague, though he caught but a third of the jokes, could have listened all night. After the comedians had gone out, the iron advertisement curtain was let down. “What comes now?” said McTeague, bewildered. “It’s the intermission of fifteen minutes now.” The musicians disappeared through the rabbit hutch, and the audience stirred and stretched itself. Most of the young men left their seats. During this intermission McTeague and his party had “refreshments.” Mrs. Sieppe and Trina had Queen Charlottes, McTeague drank a glass of beer, Owgooste ate the orange and one of the bananas. He begged for a glass of lemonade, which was finally given him.

Page | 260 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Joost to geep um quiet,” observed Mrs. Sieppe. But almost immediately after drinking his lemonade Owgooste was seized with a sudden restlessness. He twisted and wriggled in his seat, swinging his legs violently, looking about him with eyes full of a vague distress. At length, just as the musicians were returning, he stood up and whispered energetically in his mother’s ear. Mrs. Sieppe was exasperated at once. “No, no,” she cried, reseating him brusquely. The performance was resumed. A lightning artist appeared, drawing carica- tures and portraits with incredible swiftness. He even went so far as to ask for subjects from the audience, and the names of prominent men were shouted to him from the gallery. He drew portraits of the President, of Grant, of Washington, of Bonaparte, of Bismarck, of Garibaldi, of P. T. Barnum. And so the evening passed. The hall grew very hot, and the smoke of innumer- able cigars made the eyes smart. A thick blue mist hung low over the heads of the audience. The air was full of varied smells—the smell of stale cigars, of flat beer, of orange peel, of gas, of sachet powders, and of cheap perfumery. One “artist” after another came upon the stage. McTeague’s attention never wandered for a minute. Trina and her mother enjoyed themselves hugely. At every moment they made comments to one another, their eyes never leaving the stage. “Ain’t dot fool joost too funny?” “That’s a pretty song. Don’t you like that kind of a song?” “Wonderful! It’s wonderful! Yes, yes, wonderful! That’s the word.” Owgooste, however, lost interest. He stood up in his place, his back to the stage, chewing a piece of orange peel and watching a little girl in her father’s lap across the aisle, his eyes fixed in a glassy, ox-like stare. But he was uneasy. He danced from one foot to the other, and at intervals appealed in hoarse whispers to his mother, who disdained an answer. “Ma, say, ma-ah,” he whined, abstractedly chewing his orange peel, staring at the little girl. “Ma-ah, say, ma.” At times his monotonous plaint reached his mother’s con- sciousness. She suddenly realized what this was that was annoying her. “Owgooste, will you sit down?” She caught him up all at once, and jammed him down into his place. “Be quiet, den; loog; listun at der yunge girls.” Three young women and a young man who played a zither occupied the stage. They were dressed in Tyrolese costume; they were yodlers, and sang in German about “mountain tops” and “bold hunters” and the like. The yodling chorus was a marvel of flute-like modulations. The girls were really pretty, and were not made up in the least. Their “turn” had a great success. Mrs. Sieppe was entranced. In- stantly she remembered her girlhood and her native Swiss village. “Ach, dot is heavunly; joost like der old country. Mein gran’mutter used to be one of der mos’ famous yodlers. When I was leedle, I haf seen dem joost like dat.” “Ma-ah,” began Owgooste fretfully, as soon as the yodlers had departed. He

Page | 261 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) could not keep still an instant; he twisted from side to side, swinging his legs with incredible swiftness. “Ma-ah, I want to go ho-ome.” “Pehave!” exclaimed his mother, shaking him by the arm; “loog, der leedle girl is watchun you. Dis is der last dime I take you to der blay, you see.” “I don’t ca-are; I’m sleepy.” At length, to their great relief, he went to sleep, his head against his mother’s arm. The kinetoscope fairly took their breaths away. “What will they do next?” observed Trina, in amazement. “Ain’t that wonder- ful, Mac?” McTeague was awe-struck. “Look at that horse move his head,” he cried excit- edly, quite carried away. “Look at that cable car coming—and the man going across the street. See, here comes a truck. Well, I never in all my life! What would Marcus say to this?” “It’s all a drick!” exclaimed Mrs. Sieppe, with sudden conviction. “I ain’t no fool; dot’s nothun but a drick.” “Well, of course, mamma,” exclaimed Trina, “it’s—” But Mrs. Sieppe put her head in the air. “I’m too old to be fooled,” she persisted. “It’s a drick.” Nothing more could be got out of her than this. The party stayed to the very end of the show, though the kinetoscope was the last number but one on the programme, and fully half the audience left immedi- ately afterward. However, while the unfortunate Irish comedian went through his “act” to the backs of the departing people, Mrs. Sieppe woke Owgooste, very cross and sleepy, and began getting her “things together.” As soon as he was awake Ow- gooste began fidgeting again. “Save der brogramme, Trina,” whispered Mrs. Sieppe. “Take ut home to pop- per. Where is der hat of Owgooste? Haf you got mein handkerchief, Trina?” But at this moment a dreadful accident happened to Owgooste; his distress reached its climax; his fortitude collapsed. What a misery! It was a veritable ca- tastrophe, deplorable, lamentable, a thing beyond words! For a moment he gazed wildly about him, helpless and petrified with astonishment and terror. Then his grief found utterance, and the closing strains of the orchestra were mingled with a prolonged wail of infinite sadness. “Owgooste, what is ut?” cried his mother eyeing him with dawning suspicion; then suddenly, “What haf you done? You haf ruin your new Vauntleroy gostume!” Her face blazed; without more ado she smacked him soundly. Then it was that Owgooste touched the limit of his misery, his un- happiness, his horrible discomfort; his utter wretchedness was complete. He filled the air with his doleful outcries. The more he was smacked and shaken, the louder he wept. “What—what is the matter?” inquired McTeague. Trina’s face was scarlet. “Nothing, nothing,” she exclaimed hastily, looking away. “Come, we must be going. It’s about over.” The end of the show and the breaking up of the audience tided over the embarrassment of the moment.

Page | 262 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

The party filed out at the tail end of the audience. Already the lights were being extinguished and the ushers spreading druggeting over the upholstered seats. McTeague and the Sieppes took an uptown car that would bring them near Polk Street. The car was crowded; McTeague and Owgooste were obliged to stand. The little boy fretted to be taken in his mother’s lap, but Mrs. Sieppe em- phatically refused. On their way home they discussed the performance. “I—I like best der yodlers.” “Ah, the soloist was the best—the lady who sang those sad songs.” “Wasn’t—wasn’t that magic lantern wonderful, where the figures moved? Won- derful—ah, wonderful! And wasn’t that first act funny, where the fellow fell down all the time? And that musical act, and the fellow with the burnt-cork face who played ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ on the beer bottles.” They got off at Polk Street and walked up a block to the flat. The street was dark and empty; opposite the flat, in the back of the deserted market, the ducks and geese were calling persistently. As they were buying their tamales from the half-breed Mexican at the street corner, McTeague observed: “Marcus ain’t gone to bed yet. See, there’s a light in his window. There!” he exclaimed at once, “I forgot the doorkey. Well, Marcus can let us in.” Hardly had he rung the bell at the street door of the flat when the bolt was shot back. In the hall at the top of the long, narrow staircase there was the sound of a great scurrying. Maria Macapa stood there, her hand upon the rope that drew the bolt; Marcus was at her side; Old Grannis was in the background, looking over their shoulders; while little Miss Baker leant over the banisters, a strange man in a drab overcoat at her side. As McTeague’s party stepped into the doorway a half-dozen voices cried: “Yes, it’s them.” “Is that you, Mac?” “Is that you, Miss Sieppe?” “Is your name Trina Sieppe?” Then, shriller than all the rest, Maria Macapa screamed: “Oh, Miss Sieppe, come up here quick. Your lottery ticket has won five thou- sand dollars!”

CHAPTER 7 “What nonsense!” answered Trina. “Ach Gott! What is ut?” cried Mrs. Sieppe, misunderstanding, supposing a calamity. “What—what—what,” stammered the dentist, confused by the lights, the crowded stairway, the medley of voices. The party reached the landing. The others surrounded them. Marcus alone seemed to rise to the occasion. “Le’ me be the first to congratulate you,” he cried, catching Trina’s hand. Every one was talking at once.

Page | 263 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Miss Sieppe, Miss Sieppe, your ticket has won five thousand dollars,” cried Ma- ria. “Don’t you remember the lottery ticket I sold you in Doctor McTeague’s office?” “Trina!” almost screamed her mother. “Five tausend thalers! five tausend thal- ers! If popper were only here!” “What is it—what is it?” exclaimed McTeague, rolling his eyes. “What are you going to do with it, Trina?” inquired Marcus. “You’re a rich woman, my dear,” said Miss Baker, her little false curls quivering with excitement, “and I’m glad for your sake. Let me kiss you. To think I was in the room when you bought the ticket!” “Oh, oh!” interrupted Trina, shaking her head, “there is a mistake. There must be. Why—why should I win five thousand dollars? It’s nonsense!” “No mistake, no mistake,” screamed Maria. “Your number was 400,012. Here it is in the paper this evening. I remember it well, because I keep an account.” “But I know you’re wrong,” answered Trina, beginning to tremble in spite of herself. “Why should I win?” “Eh? Why shouldn’t you?” cried her mother. In fact, why shouldn’t she? The idea suddenly occurred to Trina. After all, it was not a question of effort or merit on her part. Why should she suppose a mis- take? What if it were true, this wonderful fillip of fortune striking in there like some chance-driven bolt? “Oh, do you think so?” she gasped. The stranger in the drab overcoat came forward. “It’s the agent,” cried two or three voices, simultaneously. “I guess you’re one of the lucky ones, Miss Sieppe,” he said. I suppose you have kept your ticket.” “Yes, yes; four three oughts twelve—I remember.” “That’s right,” admitted the other. “Present your ticket at the local branch of- fice as soon as possible—the address is printed on the back of the ticket—and you’ll receive a check on our bank for five thousand dollars. Your number will have to be verified on our official list, but there’s hardly a chance of a mistake. I congratulate you.” All at once a great shrill of gladness surged up in Trina. She was to possess five thousand dollars. She was carried away with the joy of her good fortune, a natural, spontaneous joy—the gaiety of a child with a new and wonderful toy. “ Oh, I’ve won, I’ve won, I’ve won!” she cried, clapping her hands. “Mamma, think of it. I’ve won five thousand dollars, just by buying a ticket. Mac, what do you say to that? I’ve got five thousand dollars. August, do you hear what’s happened to sister?” “Kiss your mommer, Trina,” suddenly commanded Mrs. Sieppe. “What efer will you do mit all dose money, eh, Trina?” “Huh!” exclaimed Marcus. “Get married on it for one thing. Thereat they all shouted with laughter. McTeague grinned, and looked about sheepishly. “Talk about luck,” muttered Marcus, shaking his head at the dentist; then suddenly he added:

Page | 264 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Well, are we going to stay talking out here in the hall all night? Can’t we all come into your ‘Parlors,’ Mac?” “Sure, sure,” exclaimed McTeague, hastily unlocking his door. “Efery botty gome,” cried Mrs. Sieppe, genially. “Ain’t ut so, Doktor?” “Everybody,” repeated the dentist. “There’s—there’s some beer.” “We’ll celebrate, by damn!” exclaimed Marcus. “It ain’t every day you win five thousand dollars. It’s only Sundays and legal holidays.” Again he set the company off into a gale of laughter. Anything was funny at a time like this. In some way every one of them felt elated. The wheel of fortune had come spinning close to them. They were near to this great sum of money. It was as though they too had won. “Here’s right where I sat when I bought that ticket,” cried Trina, after they had come into the “Parlors,” and Marcus had lit the gas. “Right here in this chair.” She sat down in one of the rigid chairs under the steel engraving. “And, Marcus, you sat here—” “And I was just getting out of the operating chair,” interposed Miss Baker. “Yes, yes. That’s so; and you,” continued Trina, pointing to Maria, “came up and said, ‘Buy a ticket in the lottery; just a dollar.’ Oh, I remember it just as plain as though it was yesterday, and I wasn’t going to at first—” “And don’t you know I told Maria it was against the law?” “Yes, I remember, and then I gave her a dollar and put the ticket in my pock- etbook. It’s in my pocketbook now at home in the top drawer of my bureau—oh, suppose it should be stolen now,” she suddenly exclaimed. “It’s worth big money now,” asserted Marcus. “Five thousand dollars. Who would have thought it? It’s wonderful.” Every- body started and turned. It was McTeague. He stood in the middle of the floor, wagging his huge head. He seemed to have just realized what had happened. “Yes, sir, five thousand dollars!” exclaimed Marcus, with a sudden unaccount- able mirthlessness. “Five thousand dollars! Do you get on to that? Cousin Trina and you will be rich people.” “At six per cent, that’s twenty-five dollars a month,” hazarded the agent. “Think of it. Think of it,” muttered McTeague. He went aimlessly about the room, his eyes wide, his enormous hands dangling.” A cousin of mine won forty dollars once,” observed Miss Baker. “But he spent every cent of it buying more tickets, and never won anything.” Then the reminiscences began. Maria told about the butcher on the next block who had won twenty dollars the last drawing. Mrs. Sieppe knew a gasfitter in Oak- land who had won several times; once a hundred dollars. Little Miss Baker an- nounced that she had always believed that lotteries were wrong; but, just the same, five thousand was five thousand. “It’s all right when you win, ain’t it, Miss Baker?” observed Marcus, with a certain sarcasm. What was the matter with Marcus? At moments he seemed sin- gularly out of temper.

Page | 265 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

But the agent was full of stories. He told his experiences, the and that had grown up around the history of the lottery; he told of the poor newsboy with a dying mother to support who had drawn a prize of fifteen thou- sand; of the man who was driven to suicide through want, but who held (had he but known it) the number that two days after his death drew the capital prize of thirty thousand dollars; of the little milliner who for ten years had played the lot- tery without success, and who had one day declared that she would buy but one more ticket and then give up trying, and of how this last ticket had brought her a fortune upon which she could retire; of tickets that had been lost or destroyed, and whose numbers had won fabulous sums at the drawing; of criminals, driven to vice by poverty, and who had reformed after winning competencies; of gam- blers who played the lottery as they would play a faro bank, turning in their win- nings again as soon as made, buying thousands of tickets all over the country; of superstitions as to terminal and initial numbers, and as to lucky days of purchase; of marvellous coincidences—three capital drawn consecutively by the same town; a ticket bought by a millionaire and given to his boot-black, who won a thousand dollars upon it; the same number winning the same amount an indefi- nite number of times; and so on to infinity. Invariably it was the needy who won, the destitute and starving woke to wealth and plenty, the virtuous toiler suddenly found his reward in a ticket bought at a hazard; the lottery was a great charity, the friend of the people, a vast beneficent machine that recognized neither rank nor wealth nor station. The company began to be very gay. Chairs and tables were brought in from the adjoining rooms, and Maria was sent out for more beer and tamales, and also com- missioned to buy a bottle of wine and some cake for Miss Baker, who abhorred beer. The “Dental Parlors” were in great confusion. Empty beer bottles stood on the movable rack where the instruments were kept; plates and napkins were upon the seat of the operating chair and upon the stand of shelves in the corner, side by side with the concertina and the volumes of “Allen’s Practical Dentist.” The canary woke and chittered crossly, his feathers puffed out; the husks of tamales littered the floor; the stone pug dog sitting before the little stove stared at the unusual scene, his glass eyes starting from their sockets. They drank and feasted in impromptu fashion. Marcus Schouler assumed the office of ; he was in a lather of excitement, rushing about here and there, opening beer bottles, serving the tamales, slapping McTeague upon the back, laughing and joking continually. He made McTeague sit at the head of the table, with Trina at his right and the agent at his left; he—when he sat down at all—occupied the foot, Maria Macapa at his left, while next to her was Mrs. Sieppe, opposite Miss Baker. Owgooste had been put to bed upon the bed-lounge. “Where’s Old Grannis?” suddenly exclaimed Marcus. Sure enough, where had the old Englishman gone? He had been there at first. “I called him down with everybody else,” cried Maria Macapa, “as soon as I saw in the paper that Miss Sieppe had won. We all came down to Mr. Schouler’s room

Page | 266 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) and waited for you to come home. I think he must have gone back to his room. I’ll bet you’ll find him sewing up his books.” “No, no,” observed Miss Baker, “not at this hour.” Evidently the timid old gentleman had taken advantage of the confusion to slip unobtrusively away. “I’ll go bring him down,” shouted Marcus; “he’s got to join us.” Miss Baker was in great agitation. “I—I hardly think you’d better,” she murmured; “he—he—I don’t think he drinks beer.” “He takes his amusement in sewin’ up books,” cried Maria. Marcus brought him down, nevertheless, having found him just preparing for bed. “I—I must apologize,” stammered Old Grannis, as he stood in the doorway. “I had not quite expected—I—find—find myself a little unprepared.” He was without collar and cravat, owing to Marcus Schouler’s precipitate haste. He was annoyed be- yond words that Miss Baker saw him thus. Could anything be more embarrassing? Old Grannis was introduced to Mrs. Sieppe and to Trina as Marcus’s employer. They shook hands solemnly. “I don’t believe that he an’ Miss Baker have ever been introduced,” cried Maria Macapa, shrilly, “an’ they’ve been livin’ side by side for years.” The two old people were speechless, avoiding each other’s gaze. It had come at last; they were to know each other, to talk together, to touch each other’s hands. Marcus brought Old Grannis around the table to little Miss Baker, dragging him by the coat sleeve, exclaiming: “Well, I thought you two people knew each oth- er long ago. Miss Baker, this is Mr. Grannis; Mr. Grannis, this is Miss Baker.” Nei- ther spoke. Like two little children they faced each other, awkward, constrained, tongue-tied with embarrassment. Then Miss Baker put out her hand shyly. Old Grannis touched it for an instant and let it fall. “Now you know each other,” cried Marcus, “and it’s about time.” For the first time their eyes met; Old Grannis trembled a little, putting his hand uncertainly to his chin. Miss Baker flushed ever so slightly, but Maria Macapa passed suddenly between them, carrying a half empty beer bottle. The two old people fell back from one another, Miss Baker resuming her seat. “Here’s a place for you over here, Mr. Grannis,” cried Marcus, making room for him at his side. Old Grannis slipped into the chair, withdrawing at once from the company’s notice. He stared fixedly at his plate and did not speak again. Old Miss Baker began to talk volubly across the table to Mrs. Sieppe about hot-house flowers and medicated flannels. It was in the midst of this little impromptu supper that the engagement of Tri- na and the dentist was announced. In a pause in the chatter of conversation Mrs. Sieppe leaned forward and, speaking to the agent, said: “Vell, you know also my daughter Trina get married bretty soon. She and der dentist, Doktor McTeague, eh, yes?” There was a general exclamation.

Page | 267 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“I thought so all along,” cried Miss Baker, excitedly. “The first time I saw them together I said, ‘What a pair!’” “Delightful!” exclaimed the agent, “to be married and win a snug little fortune at the same time.” “So—So,” murmured Old Grannis, nodding at his plate. “Good luck to you,” cried Maria. “He’s lucky enough already,” growled Marcus under his breath, relapsing for a moment into one of those strange moods of sullenness which had marked him throughout the evening. Trina flushed crimson, drawing shyly nearer her mother. McTeague grinned from ear to ear, looking around from one to another, exclaiming “Huh! Huh!” But the agent rose to his feet, a newly filled beer glass in his hand. He was a man of the world, this agent. He knew life. He was suave and easy. A diamond was on his little finger. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began. There was an instant silence. “This is in- deed a happy occasion. I—I am glad to be here to-night; to be a witness to such good fortune; to partake in these—in this celebration. Why, I feel almost as glad as if I had held four three oughts twelve myself; as if the five thousand were mine instead of belonging to our charming hostess. The good wishes of my humble self go out to Miss Sieppe in this moment of her good fortune, and I think—in fact, I am sure I can speak for the great institution, the great company I represent. The company congratulates Miss Sieppe. We—they—ah—They wish her every happi- ness her new fortune can procure her. It has been my duty, my—ah—cheerful duty to call upon the winners of large prizes and to offer the felicitation of the company. I have, in my experience, called upon many such; but never have I seen fortune so happily bestowed as in this case. The company have dowered the prospective bride. I am sure I but echo the sentiments of this assembly when I wish all joy and happiness to this happy pair, happy in the possession of a snug little fortune, and happy—happy in—” he finished with a sudden inspiration—”in the possession of each other; I drink to the health, wealth, and happiness of the future bride and groom. Let us drink standing up.” They drank with enthusiasm. Marcus was car- ried away with the excitement of the moment. “Outa sight, outa sight,” he vociferated, clapping his hands. “Very well said. To the health of the bride. McTeague, McTeague, speech, speech!” In an instant the whole table was clamoring for the dentist to speak. McTeague was terrified; he gripped the table with both hands, looking wildly about him. “Speech, speech!” shouted Marcus, running around the table and endeavoring to drag McTeague up. “No—no—no,” muttered the other. “No speech.” The company rattled upon the table with their beer glasses, insisting upon a speech. McTeague settled obstinately into his chair, very red in the face, shaking his head energetically. “Ah, go on!” he exclaimed; “no speech.” “Ah, get up and say somethun, anyhow,” persisted Marcus; “you ought to do it. It’s the proper caper.”

Page | 268 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

McTeague heaved himself up; there was a burst of applause; he looked slowly about him, then suddenly sat down again, shaking his head hopelessly. “Oh, go on, Mac,” cried Trina. “Get up, say somethun, anyhow, cried Marcus, tugging at his arm; “you GOT to.” Once more McTeague rose to his feet. “Huh!” he exclaimed, looking steadily at the table. Then he began: “I don’ know what to say—I—I—I ain’t never made a speech before; I—I ain’t never made a speech before. But I’m glad Trina’s won the prize—” “Yes, I’ll bet you are,” muttered Marcus. “I—I—I’m glad Trina’s won, and I—I want to—I want to—I want to—want to say that—you’re—all—welcome, an’ drink hearty, an’ I’m much obliged to the agent. Trina and I are goin’ to be married, an’ I’m glad everybody’s here to- night, an’ you’re—all—welcome, an’ drink hearty, an’ I hope you’ll come again, an’ you’re al- ways welcome—an’—I—an’—an’—That’s—about—all—I—gotta say.” He sat down, wiping his forehead, amidst tremendous applause. Soon after that the company pushed back from the table and relaxed in- to couples and groups. The men, with the exception of Old Grannis, began to smoke, the smell of their tobacco mingling with the odors of ether, creosote, and stale bedding, which pervaded the “Parlors.” Soon the windows had to be low- ered from the top. Mrs. Sieppe and old Miss Baker sat together in the bay window exchanging confidences. Miss Baker had turned back the overskirt of her dress; a plate of cake was in her lap; from time to time she sipped her wine with the delicacy of a white cat. The two women were much interested in each other. Miss Baker told Mrs. Sieppe all about Old Grannis, not forgetting the fiction of the title and the unjust stepfather. “He’s quite a personage really,” said Miss Baker. Mrs. Sieppe led the conversa- tion around to her children. “Ach, Trina is sudge a goote girl,” she said; “always gay, yes, und sing from morgen to night. Und Owgooste, he is soh smart also, yes, eh? He has der genius for machines, always making somethun mit wheels und sbrings.” “Ah, if—if—I had children,” murmured the little old maid a trifle wistfully, “one would have been a sailor; he would have begun as a midshipman on my brother’s ship; in time he would have been an officer. The other would have been a landscape gardener.” “Oh, Mac!” exclaimed Trina, looking up into the dentist’s face, “think of all this money coming to us just at this very moment. Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t it kind of scare you?” “Wonderful, wonderful!” muttered McTeague, shaking his head. “Let’s buy a lot of tickets,” he added, struck with an idea. “Now, that’s how you can always tell a good cigar,” observed the agent to Marcus as the two sat smoking at the end of the table. “The light end should be rolled to a point.” “Ah, the Chinese cigar-makers,” cried Marcus, in a passion, brandishing his fist. “It’s them as is ruining the cause of white labor. They are, they are for a fact. Ah, the rat-eaters! Ah, the white-livered curs!”

Page | 269 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Over in the corner, by the stand of shelves, Old Grannis was listening to Ma- ria Macapa. The Mexican woman had been violently stirred over Trina’s sudden wealth; Maria’s mind had gone back to her younger days. She leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands, her eyes wide and fixed. Old Grannis listened to her attentively. “There wa’n’t a piece that was so much as scratched,” Maria was saying. “Every piece was just like a mirror, smooth and bright; oh, bright as a little sun. Such a service as that was—platters and soup tureens and an immense big punch- bowl. Five thousand dollars, what does that amount to? Why, that punch-bowl alone was worth a fortune.” “What a wonderful story!” exclaimed Old Grannis, never for an instant doubt- ing its truth. “And it’s all lost now, you say?” “Lost, lost,” repeated Maria. “Tut, tut! What a pity! What a pity!” Suddenly the agent rose and broke out with: “Well, I must be going, if I’m to get any car.” He shook hands with everybody, offered a parting cigar to Marcus, congratu- lated McTeague and Trina a last time, and bowed himself out. “What an elegant gentleman,” commented Miss Baker. “Ah,” said Marcus, nodding his head, “there’s a man of the world for you. Right on to himself, by damn!” The company broke up. “Come along, Mac,” cried Marcus; “we’re to sleep with the dogs to-night, you know.” The two friends said “Good-night” all around and departed for the little dog hospital. Old Grannis hurried to his room furtively, terrified lest he should again be brought face to face with Miss Baker. He bolted himself in and listened until he heard her foot in the hall and the soft closing of her door. She was there close be- side him; as one might say, in the same room; for he, too, had made the discovery as to the similarity of the wallpaper. At long intervals he could hear a faint rustling as she moved about. What an evening that had been for him! He had met her, had spoken to her, had touched her hand; he was in a tremor of excitement. In a like manner the little old dressmaker listened and quivered. HE was there in that same room which they shared in common, separated only by the thinnest board partition. He was thinking of her, she was almost sure of it. They were strangers no longer; they were acquaintances, friends. What an event that evening had been in their lives! Late as it was, Miss Baker brewed a cup of tea and sat down in her rocking chair close to the partition; she rocked gently, sipping her tea, calming herself after the of that wonderful evening. Old Grannis heard the clinking of the tea things and smelt the faint odor of the tea. It seemed to him a signal, an invitation. He drew his chair close to his side of

Page | 270 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) the partition, before his work-table. A pile of half-bound “Nations” was in the little binding apparatus; he threaded his huge upholsterer’s needle with stout twine and set to work. It was their tete-a-tete. Instinctively they felt each other’s presence, felt each other’s thought coming to them through the thin partition. It was charming; they were perfectly happy. There in the stillness that settled over the flat in the half hour after midnight the two old people “kept company,” enjoying after their fashion their little romance that had come so late into the lives of each. On the way to her room in the garret Maria Macapa paused under the single gas-jet that burned at the top of the well of the staircase; she assured herself that she was alone, and then drew from her pocket one of McTeague’s “tapes” of non-co- hesive gold. It was the most valuable steal she had ever yet made in the dentist’s “Parlors.” She told herself that it was worth at least a couple of dollars. Suddenly an idea occurred to her, and she went hastily to a window at the end of the hall, and, shading her face with both hands, looked down into the little alley just back of the flat. On some nights Zerkow, the red-headed Polish Jew, sat up late, taking account of the week’s ragpicking. There was a dim light in his window now. Maria went to her room, threw a shawl around her head, and descended into the little back yard of the flat by the back stairs. As she let herself out of the back gate into the alley, Alexander, Marcus’s Irish setter, woke suddenly with a gruff bark. The col- lie who lived on the other side of the fence, in the back yard of the branch post-office, answered with a snarl. Then in an instant the endless feud between the two dogs was resumed. They dragged their respective kennels to the fence, and through the cracks raged at each other in a frenzy of hate; their teeth snapped and gleamed; the hackles on their backs rose and stiffened. Their hideous clamor could have been heard for blocks around. What a massacre should the two ever meet! Meanwhile, Maria was knocking at Zerkow’s miserable hovel. “Who is it? Who is it?” cried the rag-picker from within, in his hoarse voice, that was half whisper, starting nervously, and sweeping a handful of silver into his drawer. “It’s me, Maria Macapa;” then in a lower voice, and as if speaking to herself, “had a flying squirrel an’ let him go.” “Ah, Maria,” cried Zerkow, obsequiously opening the door. “Come in, come in, my girl; you’re always welcome, even as late as this. No junk, hey? But you’re welcome for all that. You’ll have a drink, won’t you?” He led her into his back room and got down the whiskey bottle and the broken red tumbler. After the two had drunk together Maria produced the gold “tape.” Zerkow’s eyes glittered on the instant. The sight of gold invariably sent a qualm all through him; try as he would, he could not repress it. His fingers trembled and clawed at his mouth; his breath grew short. “Ah, ah, ah!” he exclaimed, “give it here, give it here; give it to me, Maria. That’s a good girl, come give it to me.” They haggled as usual over the price, but to-night Maria was too excited over other matters to spend much time in bickering over a few cents.

Page | 271 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Look here, Zerkow,” she said as soon as the transfer was made, “I got some- thing to tell you. A little while ago I sold a lottery ticket to a girl at the flat; the draw- ing was in this evening’s papers. How much do you suppose that girl has won?” “I don’t know. How much? How much?” “Five thousand dollars.” It was as though a knife had been run through the Jew; a spasm of an almost physical pain twisted his face—his entire body. He raised his clenched fists into the air, his eyes shut, his teeth gnawing his lip. “Five thousand dollars,” he whispered; “five thousand dollars. For what? For nothing, for simply buying a ticket; and I have worked so hard for it, so hard, so hard. Five thousand dollars, five thousand dollars. Oh, why couldn’t it have come to me?” he cried, his voice choking, the tears starting to his eyes; “why couldn’t it have come to me? To come so close, so close, and yet to miss me—me who have worked for it, fought for it, starved for it, am dying for it every day. Think of it, Maria, five thousand dollars, all bright, heavy pieces—” “Bright as a sunset,” interrupted Maria, her chin propped on her hands. “Such a glory, and heavy. Yes, every piece was heavy, and it was all you could do to lift the punch-bowl. Why, that punch-bowl was worth a fortune alone—” “And it rang when you hit it with your knuckles, didn’t it?” prompted Zerkow, eagerly, his lips trembling, his fingers hooking themselves into claws. “Sweeter’n any church bell,” continued Maria. “Go on, go on, go on,” cried Zerkow, drawing his chair closer, and shutting his eyes in ecstasy. “There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of them gold—” “Ah, every one of them gold.” “You should have seen the sight when the leather trunk was opened. There wa’n’t a piece that was so much as scratched; every one was like a mirror, smooth and bright, polished so that it looked black—you know how I mean.” “Oh, I know, I know,” cried Zerkow, moistening his lips. Then he plied her with questions—questions that covered every detail of that service of plate. It was soft, wasn’t it? You could bite into a plate and leave a dent? The handles of the knives, now, were they gold, too? All the knife was made from one piece of gold, was it? And the forks the same? The interior of the trunk was quilted, of course? Did Maria ever polish the plates herself? When the company ate off this service, it must have made a fine noise—these gold knives and forks clinking together upon these gold plates. “Now, let’s have it all over again, Maria,” pleaded Zerkow. “Begin now with ‘There were more than a hundred pieces, and every one of them gold.’ Go on, be- gin, begin, begin!” The red-headed Pole was in a fever of excitement. Maria’s recital had become a veritable mania with him. As he listened, with closed eyes and trembling lips, he fan- cied he could see that wonderful plate before him, there on the table, under his eyes, under his hand, ponderous, massive, gleaming. He tormented Maria into a second

Page | 272 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) repetition of the story—into a third. The more his mind dwelt upon it, the sharper grew his desire. Then, with Maria’s refusal to continue the tale, came the reaction. Zerkow awoke as from some ravishing dream. The plate was gone, was irretrievably lost. There was nothing in that miserable room but grimy rags and rust-corroded iron. What torment! what agony! to be so near—so near, to see it in one’s distorted fancy as plain as in a mirror. To know every individual piece as an old friend; to feel its weight; to be dazzled by its glitter; to call it one’s own, own; to have it to oneself, hugged to the breast; and then to start, to wake, to come down to the horrible reality. “And you, you had it once,” gasped Zerkow, clawing at her arm; “you had it once, all your own. Think of it, and now it’s gone.” “Gone for good and all.” “Perhaps it’s buried near your old place somewhere.” “It’s gone—gone—gone,” chanted Maria in a monotone. Zerkow dug his nails into his scalp, tearing at his red hair. “Yes, yes, it’s gone, it’s gone—lost forever! Lost forever!” Marcus and the dentist walked up the silent street and reached the little dog hospital. They had hardly spoken on the way. McTeague’s brain was in a whirl; speech failed him. He was busy thinking of the great thing that had happened that night, and was trying to realize what its effect would be upon his life—his life and Trina’s. As soon as they had found themselves in the street, Marcus had relapsed at once to a sullen silence, which McTeague was too abstracted to notice. They entered the tiny office of the hospital with its red carpet, its gas stove, and its colored prints of famous dogs hanging against the walls. In one corner stood the iron bed which they were to occupy. “You go on an’ get to bed, Mac,” observed Marcus. “I’ll take a look at the dogs before I turn in.” He went outside and passed along into the yard, that was bounded on three sides by pens where the dogs were kept. A bull terrier dying of gastritis recognized him and began to whimper feebly. Marcus paid no attention to the dogs. For the first time that evening he was alone and could give vent to his thoughts. He took a couple of turns up and down the yard, then suddenly in a low voice exclaimed: “You fool, you fool, Marcus Schouler! If you’d kept Trina you’d have had that money. You might have had it yourself. You’ve thrown away your chance in life—to give up the girl, yes—but this,” he stamped his foot with rage—”to throw five thou- sand dollars out of the window—to stuff it into the pockets of someone else, when it might have been yours, when you might have had Trina and the money—and all for what? Because we were pals . Oh, ‘pals’ is all right—but five thousand dollars—to have played it right into his hands—God damn the luck!”

CHAPTER 8 The next two months were delightful. Trina and McTeague saw each other reg- ularly, three times a week. The dentist went over to B Street Sunday and Wednes-

Page | 273 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) day afternoons as usual; but on Fridays it was Trina who came to the city. She spent the morning between nine and twelve o’clock down town, for the most part in the cheap department stores, doing the weekly shopping for herself and the fam- ily. At noon she took an uptown car and met McTeague at the corner of Polk Street. The two lunched together at a small uptown hotel just around the corner on Sutter Street. They were given a little room to themselves. Nothing could have been more delicious. They had but to close the sliding door to shut themselves off from the whole world. Trina would arrive breathless from her raids upon the bargain counters, her pale cheeks flushed, her hair blown about her face and into the corners of her lips, her mother’s net reticule stuffed to bursting. Once in their tiny private room, she would drop into her chair with a little groan. “Oh, Mac, I am so tired; I’ve just been all over town. Oh, it’s good to sit down. Just think, I had to stand up in the car all the way, after being on my feet the whole blessed morning. Look here what I’ve bought. Just things and things. Look, there’s some dotted veiling I got for myself; see now, do you think it looks pretty?”—she spread it over her face—”and I got a box of writing paper, and a roll of crepe paper to make a lamp shade for the front parlor; and—what do you suppose—I saw a pair of lace curtains for forty-nine cents; isn’t that cheap? and some che- nille portieres for two and a half. Now what have you been doing since I last saw you? Did Mr. Heise finally get up enough courage to have his tooth pulled yet?” Trina took off her hat and veil and rearranged her hair before the looking-glass. “No, no—not yet. I went down to the sign painter’s yesterday afternoon to see about that big gold tooth for a sign. It costs too much; I can’t get it yet a while. There’s two kinds, one German gilt and the other French gilt; but the German gilt is no good.” McTeague sighed, and wagged his head. Even Trina and the five thousand dol- lars could not make him forget this one unsatisfied longing. At other times they would talk at length over their plans, while Trina sipped her chocolate and McTeague devoured huge chunks of butterless bread. They were to be married at the end of May, and the dentist already had his eye on a couple of rooms, part of the suite of a bankrupt photographer. They were situated in the flat, just back of his “Parlors,” and he believed the photographer would sublet them furnished. McTeague and Trina had no apprehensions as to their finances. They could be sure, in fact, of a tidy little income. The dentist’s practice was fairly good, and they could count upon the interest of Trina’s five thousand dollars. To McTeague’s mind this interest seemed woefully small. He had had uncertain ideas about that five thousand dollars; had imagined that they would spend it in some lavish fashion; would buy a house, perhaps, or would furnish their new rooms with overwhelming luxury—luxury that implied red velvet carpets and continued feasting. The old- time miner’s idea of wealth easily gained and quickly spent persisted in his mind. But when Trina had begun to talk of investments and interests and per cents, he was troubled and not a little disappointed. The lump sum of five thousand dollars

Page | 274 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) was one thing, a miserable little twenty or twenty-five a month was quite another; and then someone else had the money. “But don’t you see, Mac,” explained Trina, “it’s ours just the same. We could get it back whenever we wanted it; and then it’s the reasonable way to do. We mustn’t let it turn our heads, Mac, dear, like that man that spent all he won in buying more tickets. How foolish we’d feel after we’d spent it all! We ought to go on just the same as before; as if we hadn’t won. We must be sensible about it, mustn’t we?” “Well, well, I guess perhaps that’s right,” the dentist would answer, looking slowly about on the floor. Just what should ultimately be done with the money was the subject of endless discussion in the Sieppe family. The savings bank would allow only three per cent., but Trina’s parents believed that something better could be got. “There’s Uncle Oelbermann,” Trina had suggested, remembering the rich rela- tive who had the wholesale toy store in the Mission. Mr. Sieppe struck his hand to his forehead. “Ah, an idea,” he cried. In the end an agreement was made. The money was invested in Mr. Oelbermann’s business. He gave Trina six per cent. Invested in this fashion, Trina’s winning would bring in twenty-five dollars a month. But, besides this, Trina had her own little trade. She made Noah’s ark animals for Uncle Oelbermann’s store. Trina’s ancestors on both sides were Ger- man-Swiss, and some long-forgotten forefather of the sixteenth century, some worsted-leggined wood-carver of the Tyrol, had handed down the talent of the na- tional industry, to reappear in this strangely distorted guise. She made Noah’s ark animals, whittling them out of a block of soft wood with a sharp jack-knife, the only instrument she used. Trina was very proud to explain her work to McTeague as he had already explained his own to her. “You see, I take a block of straight-grained pine and cut out the shape, rough- ly at first, with the big blade; then I go over it a second time with the little blade, more carefully; then I put in the ears and tail with a drop of glue, and paint it with a ‘non-poisonous’ paint—Vandyke brown for the horses, foxes, and cows; slate gray for the elephants and camels; burnt umber for the chickens, zebras, and so on; then, last, a dot of Chinese white for the eyes, and there you are, all finished. They sell for nine cents a dozen. Only I can’t make the manikins.” “The manikins?” “The little figures, you know—Noah and his wife, and Shem, and all the others.” It was true. Trina could not whittle them fast enough and cheap enough to com- pete with the turning lathe, that could throw off whole tribes and peoples of mani- kins while she was fashioning one family. Everything else, however, she made—the ark itself, all windows and no door; the box in which the whole was packed; even down to pasting on the label, which read, “Made in France.” She earned from three to four dollars a week. The income from these three sources, McTeague’s profession, the interest of the five thousand dollars, and Trina’s whittling, made a respectable little sum tak-

Page | 275 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) en altogether. Trina declared they could even lay by something, adding to the five thousand dollars little by little. It soon became apparent that Trina would be an extraordinarily good house- keeper. Economy was her strong point. A good deal of peasant blood still ran undi- luted in her veins, and she had all the instinct of a hardy and penurious mountain race—the instinct which saves without any thought, without idea of — saving for the sake of saving, hoarding without knowing why. Even McTeague did not know how closely Trina held to her new-found wealth. But they did not always pass their luncheon hour in this discussion of incomes and economies. As the dentist came to know his little woman better she grew to be more and more of a puzzle and a joy to him. She would suddenly interrupt a grave discourse upon the rents of rooms and the cost of light and fuel with a brusque outburst of affection that set him all a-tremble with delight. All at once she would set down her chocolate, and, leaning across the narrow table, would exclaim: “Never mind all that! Oh, Mac, do you truly, really love me—love me big?” McTeague would stammer something, gasping, and wagging his head, beside himself for the lack of words. “Old bear,” Trina would answer, grasping him by both huge ears and swaying his head from side to side. “Kiss me, then. Tell me, Mac, did you think any less of me that first time I let you kiss me there in the station? Oh, Mac, dear, what a funny nose you’ve got, all full of hairs inside; and, Mac, do you know you’ve got a bald spot—” she dragged his head down towards her—“right on the top of your head.” Then she would seriously kiss the bald spot in question, declaring: “That’ll make the hair grow.” Trina took an infinite enjoyment in playing with McTeague’s great square- cut head, rumpling his hair till it stood on end, putting her fingers in his eyes, or stretching his ears out straight, and watching the effect with her head on one side. It was like a little child playing with some gigantic, good-natured Saint Bernard. One particular amusement they never wearied of. The two would lean across the table towards each other, McTeague folding his arms under his breast. Then Trina, resting on her elbows, would part his mustache-the great blond mustache of a viking—with her two hands, pushing it up from his lips, causing his face to as- sume the appearance of a Greek mask. She would curl it around either forefinger, drawing it to a fine end. Then all at once McTeague would make a fearful snorting noise through his nose. Invariably—though she was expecting this, though it was part of the game—Trina would jump with a stifled shriek. McTeague would bellow with laughter till his eyes watered. Then they would recommence upon the instant, Trina protesting with a nervous tremulousness: “Now—now—now, Mac, don’t; you scare me so.” But these delicious tete-a-tetes with Trina were offset by a certain coolness that Marcus Schouler began to affect towards the dentist. At first McTeague was unaware of it; but by this time even his slow wits began to perceive that his best friend—his “pal”—was not the same to him as formerly. They continued to meet at

Page | 276 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) lunch nearly every day but Friday at the car conductors’ coffee-joint. But Marcus was sulky; there could be no doubt about that. He avoided talking to McTeague, read the paper continually, answering the dentist’s timid efforts at conversation in gruff monosyllables. Sometimes, even, he turned sideways to the table and talked at great length to Heise the harness-maker, whose table was next to theirs. They took no more long walks together when Marcus went out to exercise the dogs. Nor did Marcus ever again recur to his generosity in renouncing Trina. One Tuesday, as McTeague took his place at the table in the coffee-joint, he found Marcus already there. “Hello, Mark,” said the dentist, “you here already?” “Hello,” returned the other, indifferently, helping himself to tomato catsup. There was a silence. After a long while Marcus suddenly looked up. “Say, Mac,” he exclaimed, “when you going to pay me that money you owe me?” McTeague was astonished. “Huh? What? I don’t—do I owe you any money, Mark?” “Well, you owe me four bits,” returned Marcus, doggedly. “I paid for you and Trina that day at the picnic, and you never gave it back.” “Oh—oh!” answered McTeague, in distress. “That’s so, that’s so. I—you ought to have told me before. Here’s your money, and I’m obliged to you.” “It ain’t much,” observed Marcus, sullenly. “But I need all I can get now-a-days.” “Are you—are you broke?” inquired McTeague. “And I ain’t saying anything about your sleeping at the hospital that night, ei- ther,” muttered Marcus, as he pocketed the coin. “Well—well—do you mean—should I have paid for that?” “Well, you’d ‘a’ had to sleep somewheres, wouldn’t you?” flashed out Marcus. “You ‘a’ had to pay half a dollar for a bed at the flat.” “All right, all right,” cried the dentist, hastily, feeling in his pockets. “I don’t want you should be out anything on my account, old man. Here, will four bits do?” “I don’t want your damn money,” shouted Marcus in a sudden rage, throwing back the coin. “I ain’t no beggar.” McTeague was miserable. How had he offended his pal? “Well, I want you should take it, Mark,” he said, pushing it towards him. “I tell you I won’t touch your money,” exclaimed the other through his clenched teeth, white with passion. “I’ve been played for a sucker long enough.” “What’s the matter with you lately, Mark?” remonstrated McTeague. “You’ve got a grouch about something. Is there anything I’ve done?” “Well, that’s all right, that’s all right,” returned Marcus as he rose from the ta- ble. “That’s all right. I’ve been played for a sucker long enough, that’s all. I’ve been played for a sucker long enough.” He went away with a parting malevolent glance. At the corner of Polk Street, between the flat and the car conductors’ cof- fee-joint, was Frenna’s. It was a corner grocery; advertisements for cheap butter and eggs, painted in green marking-ink upon wrapping paper, stood about on the sidewalk outside. The doorway was decorated with a huge Milwaukee beer sign.

Page | 277 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Back of the store proper was a bar where white sand covered the floor. A few ta- bles and chairs were scattered here and there. The walls were hung with gorgeous- ly-colored tobacco advertisements and colored lithographs of trotting horses. On the wall behind the bar was a model of a full-rigged ship enclosed in a bottle. It was at this place that the dentist used to leave his pitcher to be filled on Sunday afternoons. Since his engagement to Trina he had discontinued this habit. However, he still dropped into Frenna’s one or two nights in the week. He spent a pleasant hour there, smoking his huge porcelain pipe and drinking his beer. He never joined any of the groups of piquet players around the tables. In fact, he hard- ly spoke to anyone but the bartender and Marcus. For Frenna’s was one of Marcus Schouler’s haunts; a great deal of his time was spent there. He involved himself in fearful political and social discussions with Heise the harness-maker, and with one or two old German, habitues of the place. These discussions Marcus carried on, as was his custom, at the top of his voice, gesticulating fiercely, banging the table with his fists, brandishing the plates and glasses, exciting himself with his own clamor. On a certain Saturday evening, a few days after the scene at the coffee-joint, the dentist bethought him to spend a quiet evening at Frenna’s. He had not been there for some time, and, besides that, it occurred to him that the day was his birthday. He would permit himself an extra pipe and a few glasses of beer. When McTeague entered Frenna’s back room by the street door, he found Marcus and Heise already installed at one of the tables. Two or three of the old Germans sat opposite them, gulping their beer from time to time. Heise was smoking a cigar, but Marcus had before him his fourth whiskey cocktail. At the moment of McTeague’s entrance Marcus had the floor. “It can’t be proven,” he was yelling. “I defy any sane politician whose eyes are not blinded by party prejudices, whose opinions are not warped by a personal bias, to substantiate such a statement. Look at your facts, look at your figures. I am a free American citizen, ain’t I? I pay my taxes to support a good government, don’t I? It’s a contract between me and the government, ain’t it? Well, then, by damn! if the authorities do not or will not afford me protection for life, liberty, and the pur- suit of happiness, then my obligations are at an end; I withhold my taxes. I do—I do—I say I do. What?” He glared about him, seeking opposition. “That’s nonsense,” observed Heise, quietly. “Try it once; you’ll get jugged.” But this observation of the harness-maker’s roused Marcus to the last pitch of frenzy. “Yes, ah, yes!” he shouted, rising to his feet, shaking his finger in the other’s face. “Yes, I’d go to jail; but because I—I am crushed by a tyranny, does that make the tyranny right? Does might make right?” “You must make less noise in here, Mister Schouler,” said Frenna, from behind the bar. “Well, it makes me mad,” answered Marcus, subsiding into a growl and resum- ing his chair. “Hullo, Mac.” “Hullo, Mark.” But McTeague’s presence made Marcus uneasy, rousing in him at once a sense of wrong. He twisted to and fro in his chair, shrugging first one shoulder and then

Page | 278 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) another. Quarrelsome at all times, the heat of the previous discussion had awak- ened within him all his natural combativeness. Besides this, he was drinking his fourth cocktail. McTeague began filling his big porcelain pipe. He lit it, blew a great cloud of smoke into the room, and settled himself comfortably in his chair. The smoke of his cheap tobacco drifted into the faces of the group at the adjoining table, and Marcus strangled and coughed. Instantly his eyes flamed. “Say, for God’s sake,” he vociferated, “choke off on that pipe! If you’ve got to smoke rope like that, smoke it in a crowd of muckers; don’t come here amongst gentlemen.” “Shut up, Schouler!” observed Heise in a low voice. McTeague was stunned by the suddenness of the attack. He took his pipe from his mouth, and stared blankly at Marcus; his lips moved, but he said no word. Mar- cus turned his back on him, and the dentist resumed his pipe. But Marcus was far from being appeased. McTeague could not hear the talk that followed between him and the harness- maker, but it seemed to him that Mar- cus was telling Heise of some injury, some grievance, and that the latter was trying to pacify him. All at once their talk grew louder. Heise laid a retaining hand upon his companion’s coat sleeve, but Marcus swung himself around in his chair, and, fixing his eyes on McTeague, cried as if in answer to some protestation on the part of Heise: “All I know is that I’ve been soldiered out of five thousand dollars.” McTeague gaped at him, bewildered. He removed his pipe from his mouth a second time, and stared at Marcus with eyes full of trouble and perplexity. “If I had my rights,” cried Marcus, bitterly, “I’d have part of that money. It’s my due—it’s only justice.” The dentist still kept silence. “If it hadn’t been for me,” Marcus continued, addressing himself directly to McTeague, “you wouldn’t have had a cent of it—no, not a cent. Where’s my share, I’d like to know? Where do I come in? No, I ain’t in it any more. I’ve been played for a sucker, an’ now that you’ve got all you can out of me, now that you’ve done me out of my girl and out of my money, you give me the go-by. Why, where would you have been to-day if it hadn’t been for me?” Marcus shouted in a sudden exasperation, “You’d a been plugging teeth at two bits an hour. Ain’t you got any gratitude? Ain’t you got any sense of decency?” “Ah, hold up, Schouler,” grumbled Heise. “You don’t want to get into a row.” “No, I don’t, Heise,” returned Marcus, with a plaintive, aggrieved air. “But it’s too much sometimes when you think of it. He stole away my girl’s affections, and now that he’s rich and prosperous, and has got five thousand dollars that I might have had, he gives me the go-by; he’s played me for a sucker. Look here,” he cried, turning again to McTeague, “do I get any of that money?” “It ain’t mine to give,” answered McTeague. “You’re drunk, that’s what you are.” “Do I get any of that money?” cried Marcus, persistently. The dentist shook his head. “No, you don’t get any of it.”

Page | 279 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Now—now,” clamored the other, turning to the harness- maker, as though this explained everything. “Look at that, look at that. Well, I’ve done with you from now on.” Marcus had risen to his feet by this time and made as if to leave, but at every instant he came back, shouting his phrases into McTeague’s face, moving off again as he spoke the last words, in order to give them better effect. “This settles it right here. I’ve done with you. Don’t you ever dare speak to me again”—his voice was shaking with fury—“and don’t you sit at my table in the restaurant again. I’m sorry I ever lowered myself to keep company with such dirt. Ah, one-horse dentist! Ah, ten-cent zinc- plugger—hoodlum—mucker! Get your damn smoke outa my face.” Then matters reached a sudden climax. In his agitation the dentist had been pulling hard on his pipe, and as Marcus for the last time thrust his face close to his own, McTeague, in opening his lips to reply, blew a stifling, acrid cloud directly in Marcus Schouler’s eyes. Marcus knocked the pipe from his fingers with a sudden flash of his hand; it spun across the room and broke into a dozen fragments in a far corner. McTeague rose to his feet, his eyes wide. But as yet he was not angry, only sur- prised, taken all aback by the suddenness of Marcus Schouler’s outbreak as well as by its unreasonableness. Why had Marcus broken his pipe? What did it all mean, anyway? As he rose the dentist made a vague motion with his right hand. Did Mar- cus misinterpret it as a gesture of menace? He sprang back as though avoiding a blow. All at once there was a cry. Marcus had made a quick, peculiar motion, swinging his arm upward with a wide and sweeping gesture; his jack-knife lay open in his palm; it shot forward as he flung it, glinted sharply by McTeague’s head, and struck quivering into the wall behind. A sudden chill ran through the room; the others stood transfixed, as at the swift passage of some cold and deadly wind. Death had stooped there for an instant, had stooped and past, leaving a trail of terror and confusion. Then the door leading to the street slammed; Marcus had disappeared. Thereon a great babel of exclamation arose. The tension of that all but fatal instant snapped, and speech became once more possible. “He would have knifed you.” “Narrow escape.” “What kind of a man do you call that?” “’Tain’t his fault he ain’t a murderer.” “I’d have him up for it.” “And they two have been the greatest kind of friends.” “He didn’t touch you, did he?” “No—no—no.” “What a—what a devil! What treachery! A regular greaser trick!” “Look out he don’t stab you in the back. If that’s the kind of man he is, you never can tell.” Frenna drew the knife from the wall.

Page | 280 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“Guess I’ll keep this toad-stabber,” he observed. “That fellow won’t come round for it in a hurry; goodsized blade, too.” The group examined it with intense interest. “Big enough to let the life out of any man,” observed Heise. “What—what—what did he do it for?” stammered McTeague. “I got no quarrel with him.” He was puzzled and harassed by the strangeness of it all. Marcus would have killed him; had thrown his knife at him in the true, uncanny “greaser” style. It was inexplicable. McTeague sat down again, looking stupidly about on the floor. In a corner of the room his eye encountered his broken pipe, a dozen little fragments of painted porcelain and the stem of cherry wood and amber. At that sight his tardy wrath, ever lagging behind the original affront, suddenly blazed up. Instantly his huge jaws clicked together. “He can’t make small of ME,” he exclaimed, suddenly. “I’ll show Marcus Schouler—I’ll show him—I’ll—” He got up and clapped on his hat. “Now, Doctor,” remonstrated Heise, standing between him and the door, “don’t go make a fool of yourself.” “Let ‘um alone,” joined in Frenna, catching the dentist by the arm; “he’s full, anyhow.” “He broke my pipe,” answered McTeague. It was this that had roused him. The thrown knife, the attempt on his life, was beyond his solution; but the breaking of his pipe he understood clearly enough. “I’ll show him,” he exclaimed. As though they had been little children, McTeague set Frenna and the har- ness-maker aside, and strode out at the door like a raging elephant. Heise stood rubbing his shoulder. “Might as well try to stop a locomotive,” he muttered. “The man’s made of iron.” Meanwhile, McTeague went storming up the street toward the flat, wagging his head and grumbling to himself. Ah, Marcus would break his pipe, would he? Ah, he was a zinc-plugger, was he? He’d show Marcus Schouler. No one should make small of him. He tramped up the stairs to Marcus’s room. The door was locked. The dentist put one enormous hand on the knob and pushed the door in, snapping the wood-work, tearing off the lock. Nobody—the room was dark and empty. Never mind, Marcus would have to come home some time that night. McTeague would go down and wait for him in his “Parlors.” He was bound to hear him as he came up the stairs. As McTeague reached his room he stumbled over, in the darkness, a big pack- ing-box that stood in the hallway just outside his door. Puzzled, he stepped over it, and lighting the gas in his room, dragged it inside and examined it. It was addressed to him. What could it mean? He was expecting nothing. Never since he had first furnished his room had packing-cases been left for him in this fash- ion. No mistake was possible. There were his name and address unmistakably. “Dr. McTeague, dentist—Polk Street, San Francisco, Cal.,” and the red Wells Fargo tag.

Page | 281 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Seized with the joyful curiosity of an overgrown boy, he pried off the boards with the corner of his fireshovel. The case was stuffed full of excelsior. On the top lay an envelope addressed to him in Trina’s handwriting. He opened it and read, “For my dear Mac’s birthday, from Trina;” and below, in a kind of post-script, “The man will be round to-morrow to put it in place.” McTeague tore away the excelsior. Suddenly he uttered an exclamation. It was the Tooth—the famous golden molar with its huge prongs—his sign, his ambition, the one unrealized dream of his life; and it was French gilt, too, not the cheap German gilt that was no good. Ah, what a dear little woman was this Trina, to keep so quiet, to remember his birthday! “Ain’t she—ain’t she just a—just a jewel,” exclaimed McTeague under his breath, “a jewel—yes, just a jewel; that’s the word.” Very carefully he removed the rest of the excelsior, and lifting the ponderous Tooth from its box, set it upon the marble-top centre table. How immense it looked in that little room! The thing was tremendous, overpowering—the tooth of a gi- gantic fossil, golden and dazzling. Beside it everything seemed dwarfed. Even Mc- Teague himself, big boned and enormous as he was, shrank and dwindled in the presence of the monster. As for an instant he bore it in his hands, it was like a puny Gulliver struggling with the molar of some vast Brobdingnag. The dentist circled about that golden wonder, gasping with delight and stupe- faction, touching it gingerly with his hands as if it were something sacred. At every moment his thought returned to Trina. No, never was there such a little woman as his—the very thing he wanted—how had she remembered? And the money, where had that come from? No one knew better than he how expensive were these signs; not another dentist on Polk Street could afford one. Where, then, had Trina found the money? It came out of her five thousand dollars, no doubt. But what a wonderful, beautiful tooth it was, to be sure, bright as a mirror, shin- ing there in its coat of French gilt, as if with a light of its own! No danger of that tooth turning black with the weather, as did the cheap German gilt impostures. What would that other dentist, that poser, that rider of bicycles, that courser of greyhounds, say when he should see this marvellous molar run out from McTeague’s bay window like a flag of defiance? No doubt he would suffer veritable convulsions of envy; would be positively sick with jealousy. If McTeague could only see his face at the moment! For a whole hour the dentist sat there in his little “Parlor,” gazing ecstatically at his treasure, dazzled, supremely content. The whole room took on a different aspect because of it. The stone pug dog before the little stove reflected it in his protruding eyes; the canary woke and chittered feebly at this new gilt, so much brighter than the bars of its little prison. Lorenzo de’ Medici, in the steel engraving, sitting in the heart of his court, seemed to ogle the thing out of the corner of one eye, while the brilliant colors of the unused rifle manufacturer’s calendar seemed to fade and pale in the brilliance of this greater glory. At length, long after midnight, the dentist started to go to bed, undressing himself with his eyes still fixed on the great tooth. All at once he heard Marcus

Page | 282 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Schouler’s foot on the stairs; he started up with his fists clenched, but immediately dropped back upon the bed-lounge with a gesture of indifference. He was in no truculent state of mind now. He could not reinstate himself in that mood of wrath wherein he had left the corner grocery. The tooth had changed all that. What was Marcus Schouler’s hatred to him, who had Trina’s affection? What did he care about a broken pipe now that he had the tooth? Let him go. As Frenna said, he was not worth it. He heard Marcus come out into the hall, shouting aggrievedly to anyone within sound of his voice: “An’ now he breaks into my room—into my room, by damn! How do I know how many things he’s stolen? It’s come to stealing from me, now, has it?” He went into his room, banging his splintered door. McTeague looked upward at the ceiling, in the direction of the voice, muttering: “Ah, go to bed, you.” He went to bed himself, turning out the gas, but leaving the window-curtains up so that he could see the tooth the last thing before he went to sleep and the first thing as he arose in the morning. But he was restless during the night. Every now and then he was awakened by noises to which he had long since become accustomed. Now it was the cackling of the geese in the deserted market across the street; now it was the stoppage of the cable, the sudden silence coming almost like a shock; and now it was the in- furiated barking of the dogs in the back yard—Alec, the Irish setter, and the collie that belonged to the branch post-office raging at each other through the fence, snarling their endless hatred into each other’s faces. As often as he woke, McTe- ague turned and looked for the tooth, with a sudden suspicion that he had only that moment dreamed the whole business. But he always found it—Trina’s gift, his birthday from his little woman—a huge, vague bulk, looming there through the half darkness in the centre of the room, shining dimly out as if with some mysterious light of its own.

CHAPTER 9 Trina and McTeague were married on the first day of June, in the photogra- pher’s rooms that the dentist had rented. All through May the Sieppe household had been turned upside down. The little box of a house vibrated with excite- ment and confusion, for not only were the preparations for Trina’s marriage to be made, but also the preliminaries were to be arranged for the hegira of the entire Sieppe family. They were to move to the southern part of the State the day after Trina’s mar- riage, Mr. Sieppe having bought a third interest in an upholstering business in the suburbs of Los Angeles. It was possible that Marcus Schouler would go with them. Not Stanley penetrating for the first time into the Dark Continent, notNa- poleon leading his army across the Alps, was more weighted with responsibility, more burdened with care, more overcome with the sense of the importance of his undertaking, than was Mr. Sieppe during this period of preparation. From dawn to dark, from dark to early dawn, he toiled and planned and fretted, organizing

Page | 283 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) and reorganizing, projecting and devising. The trunks were lettered, A, B, and C, the packages and smaller bundles numbered. Each member of the family had his especial duty to perform, his particular bundles to oversee. Not a detail was for- gotten—fares, prices, and tips were calculated to two places of decimals. Even the amount of food that it would be necessary to carry for the black greyhound was determined. Mrs. Sieppe was to look after the lunch, “der gomisariat.” Mr. Sieppe would assume charge of the checks, the money, the tickets, and, of course, general supervision. The twins would be under the command of Owgooste, who, in turn, would report for orders to his father. Day in and day out these minutiae were rehearsed. The children were drilled in their parts with a military exactitude; obedience and punctuality became virtues. The vast importance of the undertaking was insisted upon with scrupulous iteration. It was a manoeuvre, an army changing its base of operations, a veritable tribal migration. On the other hand, Trina’s little room was the centre around which revolved another and different order of things. The dressmaker came and went, congratu- latory visitors invaded the little front parlor, the chatter of unfamiliar voices re- sounded from the front steps; bonnet-boxes and yards of dress-goods littered the beds and chairs; wrapping paper, tissue paper, and bits of string strewed the floor; a pair of white satin slippers stood on a corner of the toilet table; lengths of white veiling, like a snow-flurry, buried the little work-table; and a mislaid box of artifi- cial orange blossoms was finally discovered behind the bureau. The two systems of operation often clashed and tangled. Mrs. Sieppe was found by her harassed husband helping Trina with the waist of her gown when she should have been slicing cold chicken in the kitchen. Mr. Sieppe packed his frock coat, which he would have to wear at the wedding, at the very bottom of “Trunk C.” The minister, who called to offer his congratulations and to make arrangements, was mistaken for the expressman. McTeague came and went furtively, dizzied and made uneasy by all this bustle. He got in the way; he trod upon and tore breadths of silk; he tried to help carry the packing-boxes, and broke the hall gas fixture; he came in upon Trina and the dress-maker at an ill-timed moment, and retiring precipitately, overturned the piles of pictures stacked in the hall. There was an incessant going and coming at every moment of the day, a great calling up and down stairs, a shouting from room to room, an opening and shut- ting of doors, and an intermittent sound of hammering from the laundry, where Mr. Sieppe in his shirt sleeves labored among the packing-boxes. The twins clat- tered about on the carpetless floors of the denuded rooms. Owgooste was smacked from hour to hour, and wept upon the front stairs; the dressmaker called over the banisters for a hot flatiron; expressmen tramped up and down the stairway. Mrs. Sieppe stopped in the preparation of the lunches to call “Hoop, Hoop” to the greyhound, throwing lumps of coal. The dog-wheel creaked, the front door bell rang, delivery wagons rumbled away, windows rattled—the little house was in a

Page | 284 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) positive uproar. Almost every day of the week now Trina was obliged to run over to town and meet McTeague. No more philandering over their lunch now-a-days. It was busi- ness now. They haunted the house-furnishing floors of the great department hous- es, inspecting and pricing ranges, hardware, china, and the like. They rented the photographer’s rooms furnished, and fortunately only the kitchen and dining-room utensils had to be bought. The money for this as well as for her trousseau came out of Trina’s five thousand dollars. For it had been finally decided that two hundred dollars of this amount should be devoted to the establishment of the new household. Now that Trina had made her great winning, Mr. Sieppe no longer saw the necessity of dowering her further, especially when he considered the enormous expense to which he would be put by the voyage of his own family. It had been a dreadful wrench for Trina to break in upon her precious five thousand. She clung to this sum with a tenacity that was surprising; it had become for her a thing miraculous, a god-from-the-machine, suddenly descending upon the stage of her humble little life; she regarded it as something almost sacred and inviolable. Never, never should a penny of it be spent. Before she could be induced to part with two hundred dollars of it, more than one scene had been enacted be- tween her and her parents. Did Trina pay for the golden tooth out of this two hundred? Later on, the den- tist often asked her about it, but Trina invariably laughed in his face, declaring that it was her secret. McTeague never found out. One day during this period McTeague told Trina about his affair with Marcus. Instantly she was aroused. “He threw his knife at you! The coward! He wouldn’t of dared stand up to you like a man. Oh, Mac, suppose he had hit you?” “Came within an inch of my head,” put in McTeague, proudly. “Think of it!” she gasped; “and he wanted part of my money. Well, I do like his cheek; part of my five thousand! Why, it’s mine, every single penny of it. Marcus hasn’t the least bit of right to it. It’s mine, mine.—I mean, it’s ours, Mac, dear.” The elder Sieppes, however, made excuses for Marcus. He had probably been drinking a good deal and didn’t know what he was about. He had a dreadful tem- per, anyhow. Maybe he only wanted to scare McTeague. The week before the marriage the two men were reconciled. Mrs. Sieppe brought them together in the front parlor of the B Street house. “Now, you two fellers, don’t be dot foolish. Schake hands und maig ut oop, soh.” Marcus muttered an apology. McTeague, miserably embarrassed, rolled his eyes about the room, murmuring, “That’s all right—that’s all right—that’s all right.” However, when it was proposed that Marcus should be McTeague’s best man, he flashed out again with renewed violence. Ah, no! ah,no ! He’d make up with the dentist now that he was going away, but he’d be damned—yes, he would—before he’d be his best man. That was rubbing it in. Let him get Old Grannis.

Page | 285 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“I’m friends with um all right,” vociferated Marcus, “but I’ll not stand up with um. I’ll not be anybody’s best man, I won’t.” The wedding was to be very quiet; Trina preferred it that way. McTeague would invite only Miss Baker and Heise the harness-maker. The Sieppes sent cards to Se- lina, who was counted on to furnish the music; to Marcus, of course; and to Uncle Oelbermann. At last the great day, the first of June, arrived. The Sieppes had packed their last box and had strapped the last trunk. Trina’s two trunks had already been sent to her new home—the remodelled photographer’s rooms. The B Street house was deserted; the whole family came over to the city on the last day of May and stopped over night at one of the cheap downtown hotels. Trina would be married the fol- lowing evening, and immediately after the wedding supper the Sieppes would leave for the South. McTeague spent the day in a fever of agitation, frightened out of his wits each time that Old Grannis left his elbow. Old Grannis was delighted beyond measure at the prospect of acting the part of best man in the ceremony. This wedding in which he was to figure filled his mind with vague ideas and half-formed thoughts. He found himself continually wondering what Miss Baker would think of it. During all that day he was in a reflective mood. “Marriage is a—a noble institution, is it not, Doctor?” he observed to McTe- ague. “The—the foundation of society. It is not good that man should be alone. No, no,” he added, pensively, “it is not good.” “Huh? Yes, yes,” McTeague answered, his eyes in the air, hardly hearing him. “Do you think the rooms are all right? Let’s go in and look at them again.” They went down the hall to where the new rooms were situated, and the dentist inspected them for the twentieth time. The rooms were three in number—first, the sitting-room, which was also the dining-room; then the bedroom, and back of this the tiny kitchen. The sitting-room was particularly charming. Clean matting covered the floor, and two or three bright colored rugs were scattered here and there. The backs of the chairs were hung with knitted worsted tidies, very gay. The bay window should have been occupied by Trina’s sewing machine, but this had been moved to the other side of the room to give place to a little black walnut table with spiral legs, before which the pair were to be married. In one corner stood the parlor melode- on, a family possession of the Sieppes, but given now to Trina as one of her par- ents’ wedding presents. Three pictures hung upon the walls. Two were companion pieces. One of these represented a little boy wearing huge spectacles and trying to smoke an enormous pipe. This was called “I’m Grandpa,” the title being printed in large black letters; the companion picture was entitled “I’m Grandma,” a little girl in cap and “specs,” wearing mitts, and knitting. These pictures were hung on either side of the mantelpiece. The other picture was quite an affair, very large and striking. It was a colored lithograph of two little golden-haired girls in their night- gowns. They were kneeling down and saying their prayers; their eyes—very

Page | 286 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) large and very blue—rolled upward. This picture had for name, “Faith,” and was bordered with a red plush mat and a frame of imitation beaten brass. A door hung with chenille portieres—a bargain at two dollars and a half—admit- ted one to the bedroom. The bedroom could boast a carpet, three-ply ingrain, the de- sign being bunches of red and green flowers in yellow baskets on a white ground. The wall-paper was admirable—hundreds and hundreds of tiny Japanese mandarins, all identically alike, helping hundreds of almond-eyed ladies into hundreds of impossi- ble junks, while hundreds of bamboo palms overshadowed the pair, and hundreds of long-legged storks trailed contemptuously away from the scene. This room was pro- lific in pictures. Most of them were framed colored prints from Christmas editions of the London “Graphic” and “Illustrated News,” the subject of each picture inevitably involving very alert fox terriers and very pretty moon-faced little girls. Back of the bedroom was the kitchen, a creation of Trina’s, a dream of a kitch- en, with its range, its porcelain-lined sink, its copper boiler, and its overpowering array of flashing tinware. Everything was new; everything was complete. Maria Macapa and a waiter from one of the restaurants in the street were to prepare the wedding supper here. Maria had already put in an appearance. The fire was crackling in the new stove, that smoked badly; a smell of cooking was in the air. She drove McTeague and Old Grannis from the room with great gestures of her bare arms. This kitchen was the only one of the three rooms they had been obliged to fur- nish throughout. Most of the sitting- room and bedroom furniture went with the suite; a few pieces they had bought; the remainder Trina had brought over from the B Street house. The presents had been set out on the extension table in the sitting-room. Be- sides the parlor melodeon, Trina’s parents had given her an ice-water set, and a carving knife and fork with elk-horn handles. Selina had painted a view of the Golden Gate upon a polished slice of redwood that answered the purposes of a paper weight. Marcus Schouler—after impressing upon Trina that his gift was to HER, and not to McTeague—had sent a chatelaine watch of German silver; Uncle Oelbermann’s present, however, had been awaited with a good deal of curiosity. What would he send? He was very rich; in a sense Trina was his protege. A couple of days before that upon which the wedding was to take place, two boxes arrived with his card. Trina and McTeague, assisted by Old Grannis, had opened them. The first was a box of all sorts of toys. “But what—what—I don’t make it out,” McTeague had exclaimed. “Why should he send us toys? We have no need of toys.” Scarlet to her hair, Trina dropped into a chair and laughed till she cried behind her handkerchief. “We’ve no use of toys,” muttered McTeague, looking at her in perplexity. Old Grannis smiled discreetly, raising a tremulous hand to his chin. The other box was heavy, bound with withes at the edges, the letters and stamps burnt in. “I think—I really think it’s champagne,” said Old Grannis in a whisper. So it

Page | 287 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) was. A full case of Monopole. What a wonder! None of them had seen the like be- fore. Ah, this Uncle Oelbermann! That’s what it was to be rich. Not one of the other presents produced so deep an impression as this. After Old Grannis and the dentist had gone through the rooms, giving a last look around to see that everything was ready, they returned to McTeague’s “Par- lors.” At the door Old Grannis excused himself. At four o’clock McTeague began to dress, shaving himself first before the hand- glass that was hung against the woodwork of the bay window. While he shaved he sang with strange inappropriateness: “No one to love, none to Caress, Left all alone in this world’s wilderness.” But as he stood before the mirror, intent upon his shaving, there came a roll of wheels over the cobbles in front of the house. He rushed to the window. Trina had arrived with her father and mother. He saw her get out, and as she glanced upward at his window, their eyes met. Ah, there she was. There she was, his little woman, looking up at him, her ador- able little chin thrust upward with that familiar movement of innocence and con- fidence. The dentist saw again, as if for the first time, her small, pale face looking out from beneath her royal tiara of black hair; he saw again her long, narrow blue eyes; her lips, nose, and tiny ears, pale and bloodless, and suggestive of anaemia, as if all the vitality that should have lent them color had been sucked up into the strands and coils of that wonderful hair. As their eyes met they waved their hands gayly to each other; then McTeague heard Trina and her mother come up the stairs and go into the bedroom of the photographer’s suite, where Trina was to dress. No, no; surely there could be no longer any hesitation. He knew that he loved her. What was the matter with him, that he should have doubted it for an instant? The great difficulty was that she was too good, too adorable, too sweet, too delicate for him, who was so huge, so clumsy, so brutal. There was a knock at the door. It was Old Grannis. He was dressed in his one black suit of broadcloth, much wrinkled; his hair was carefully brushed over his bald forehead. “Miss Trina has come,” he announced, “and the minister. You have an hour yet.” The dentist finished dressing. He wore a suit bought for the occasion—a ready made “Prince Albert” coat too short in the sleeves, striped “blue” trousers, and new patent leather shoes—veritable instruments of torture. Around his collar was a wonderful necktie that Trina had given him; it was of salmon-pink satin; in its centre Selina had painted a knot of blue forget-me-nots. At length, after an interminable period of waiting, Mr. Sieppe appeared at the door. “Are you reatty?” he asked in a sepulchral whisper. “Gome, den.” It was like King Charles summoned to execution. Mr. Sieppe preceded them into the hall, moving at a funereal pace. He paused. Suddenly, in the direction of the sitting- room, came the strains of the parlor melodeon. Mr. Sieppe flung his arm in the air. “Vowaarts!” he cried.

Page | 288 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

He left them at the door of the sitting-room, he himself going into the bedroom where Trina was waiting, entering by the hall door. He was in a tremendous state of nervous tension, fearful lest something should go wrong. He had employed the period of waiting in going through his part for the fiftieth time, repeating what he had to say in a low voice. He had even made chalk marks on the matting in the places where he was to take positions. The dentist and Old Grannis entered the sitting-room; the minister stood be- hind the little table in the bay window, holding a book, one finger marking the place; he was rigid, erect, impassive. On either side of him, in a semi-circle, stood the in- vited guests. A little pock-marked gentleman in glasses, no doubt the famous Uncle Oelbermann; Miss Baker, in her black grenadine, false curls, and coral brooch; Marcus Schouler, his arms folded, his brows bent, grand and gloomy; Heise the harness-maker, in yellow gloves, intently studying the pattern of the matting; and Owgooste, in his Fauntleroy “costume,” stupefied and a little frightened, rolling his eyes from face to face. Selina sat at the parlor melodeon, fingering the keys, her glance wandering to the chenille portieres. She stopped playing as McTeague and Old Grannis entered and took their places. A profound silence ensued. Uncle Oelbermann’s shirt front could be heard creaking as he breathed. The most solemn expression pervaded every face. All at once the portieres were shaken violently. It was a signal. Selina pulled open the stops and swung into the wedding march. Trina entered. She was dressed in white silk, a crown of orange blossoms was around her swarthy hair—dressed high for the first time—her veil reached to the floor. Her face was pink, but otherwise she was calm. She looked quietly around the room as she crossed it, until her glance rested on McTeague, smiling at him then very prettily and with perfect self-possession. She was on her father’s arm. The twins, dressed exactly alike, walked in front, each carrying an enormous bouquet of cut flowers in a “lace-paper” holder. Mrs. Sieppe followed in the rear. She was crying; her handkerchief was rolled into a wad. From time to time she looked at the train of Trina’s dress through her tears. Mr. Sieppe marched his daughter to the exact middle of the floor, wheeled at right angles, and brought her up to the minister. He stepped back three paces, and stood planted upon one of his chalk marks, his face glistening with perspiration. Then Trina and the dentist were married. The guests stood in constrained atti- tudes, looking furtively out of the corners of their eyes. Mr. Sieppe never moved a muscle; Mrs. Sieppe cried into her handkerchief all the time. At the melodeon Seli- na played “Call Me Thine Own,” very softly, the tremulo stop pulled out. She looked over her shoulder from time to time. Between the pauses of the music one could hear the low tones of the minister, the responses of the participants, and the suppressed sounds of Mrs. Sieppe’s weeping. Outside the noises of the street rose to the windows in muffled undertones, a cable car rumbled past, a newsboy went by chanting the eve- ning papers; from somewhere in the building itself came a persistent noise of sawing. Trina and McTeague knelt. The dentist’s knees thudded on the floor and he

Page | 289 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) presented to view the soles of his shoes, painfully new and unworn, the leather still yellow, the brass nail heads still glittering. Trina sank at his side very gracefully, setting her dress and train with a little gesture of her free hand. The company bowed their heads, Mr. Sieppe shutting his eyes tight. But Mrs. Sieppe took advan- tage of the moment to stop crying and make furtive gestures towards Owgooste, signing him to pull down his coat. But Owgooste gave no heed; his eyes were start- ing from their sockets, his chin had dropped upon his lace collar, and his head turned vaguely from side to side with a continued and maniacal motion. All at once the ceremony was over before any one expected it. The guests kept their positions for a moment, eyeing one another, each fearing to make the first move, not quite certain as to whether or not everything were finished. But the cou- ple faced the room, Trina throwing back her veil. She—perhaps McTeague as well— felt that there was a certain inadequateness about the ceremony. Was that all there was to it? Did just those few muttered phrases make them man and wife? It had been over in a few moments, but it had bound them for life. Had not something been left out? Was not the whole affair cursory, superficial? It was disappointing. But Trina had no time to dwell upon this. Marcus Schouler, in the manner of a man of the world, who knew how to act in every situation, stepped forward and, even before Mr. or Mrs. Sieppe, took Trina’s hand. “Let me be the first to congratulate Mrs. McTeague,” he said, feeling very no- ble and heroic. The strain of the previous moments was relaxed immediately, the guests crowded around the pair, shaking hands—a babel of talk arose. “Owgooste, WILL you pull down your goat, den?” “Well, my dear, now you’re married and happy. When I first saw you two to- gether, I said, ‘What a pair!’ We’re to be neighbors now; you must come up and see me very often and we’ll have tea together.” “Did you hear that sawing going on all the time? I declare it regularly got on my nerves.” Trina kissed her father and mother, crying a little herself as she saw the tears in Mrs. Sieppe’s eyes. Marcus came forward a second time, and, with an air of great gravity, kissed his cousin upon the forehead. Heise was introduced to Trina and Uncle Oelber- mann to the dentist. For upwards of half an hour the guests stood about in groups, filling the little sitting-room with a great chatter of talk. Then it was time to make ready for supper. This was a tremendous task, in which nearly all the guests were obliged to as- sist. The sitting-room was transformed into a dining-room. The presents were re- moved from the extension table and the table drawn out to its full length. The cloth was laid, the chairs—rented from the dancing academy hard by—drawn up, the dishes set out, and the two bouquets of cut flowers taken from the twins under their shrill protests, and “arranged” in vases at either end of the table. There was a great coming and going between the kitchen and the sitting-room. Trina, who was allowed to do nothing, sat in the bay window and fretted, calling to

Page | 290 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) her mother from time to time: “The napkins are in the right-hand drawer of the pantry.” “Yes, yes, I got um. Where do you geep der zoup blates?” “The soup plates are here already.” “Say, Cousin Trina, is there a corkscrew? What is home without a corkscrew?” “In the kitchen-table drawer, in the left-hand corner.” “Are these the forks you want to use, Mrs. McTeague?” “No, no, there’s some silver forks. Mamma knows where.” They were all very gay, laughing over their mistakes, getting in one another’s way, rushing into the sitting-room, their hands full of plates or knives or glasses, and darting out again after more. Marcus and Mr. Sieppe took their coats off. Old Grannis and Miss Baker passed each other in the hall in a constrained silence, her grenadine brushing against the elbow of his wrinkled frock coat. Uncle Oelber- mann superintended Heise opening the case of champagne with the gravity of a magistrate. Owgooste was assigned the task of filling the new salt and pepper can- isters of red and blue glass. In a wonderfully short time everything was ready. Marcus Schouler resumed his coat, wiping his forehead, and remarking: “I tell you, I’ve been doing chores for my board.” “To der table!” commanded Mr. Sieppe. The company sat down with a great clatter, Trina at the foot, the dentist at the head, the others arranged themselves in haphazard fashion. But it happened that Marcus Schouler crowded into the seat beside Selina, towards which Old Grannis was directing himself. There was but one other chair vacant, and that at the side of Miss Baker. Old Grannis hesitated, putting his hand to his chin. However, there was no escape. In great trepidation he sat down beside the retired dressmaker. Neither of them spoke. Old Grannis dared not move, but sat rigid, his eyes riveted on his empty soup plate. All at once there was a report like a pistol. The men started in their places. Mrs. Sieppe uttered a muffled shriek. The waiter from the cheap restaurant, hired as Maria’s assistant, rose from a bending posture, a champagne bottle frothing in his hand; he was grinning from ear to ear. “Don’t get scairt,” he said, reassuringly, “it ain’t loaded.” When all their glasses had been filled, Marcus proposed the health of the bride, “standing up.” The guests rose and drank. Hardly one of them had ever tasted champagne before. The moment’s silence after the toast was broken by McTeague exclaiming with a long breath of satisfaction: “That’s the best beer I ever drank.” There was a roar of laughter. Especially was Marcus tickled over the dentist’s blunder; he went off in a very spasm of mirth, banging the table with his fist, laugh- ing until his eyes watered. All through the meal he kept breaking out into cackling imitations of McTeague’s words: “That’s the best beer I ever drank. Oh, Lord, ain’t that a break!” What a wonderful supper that was! There was oyster soup; there were sea bass

Page | 291 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) and barracuda; there was a gigantic roast goose stuffed with chestnuts; there were egg-plant and sweet potatoes—Miss Baker called them “yams.” There was calf’s head in oil, over which Mr. Sieppe went into ecstasies; there was lobster salad; there were rice pudding, and strawberry ice cream, and wine jelly, and stewed prunes, and cocoanuts, and mixed nuts, and raisins, and fruit, and tea, and coffee, and mineral waters, and lemonade. For two hours the guests ate; their faces red, their elbows wide, the perspiration beading their foreheads. All around the table one saw the same incessant movement of jaws and heard the same uninterrupted sound of chewing. Three times Heise passed his plate for more roast goose. Mr. Sieppe devoured the calf’s head with long breaths of contentment; McTeague ate for the sake of eating, without choice; every- thing within reach of his hands found its way into his enormous mouth. There was but little conversation, and that only of the food; one exchanged opinions with one’s neighbor as to the soup, the egg-plant, or the stewed prunes. Soon the room became very warm, a faint moisture appeared upon the windows, the air was heavy with the smell of cooked food. At every moment Trina or Mrs. Sieppe urged some one of the company to have his or her plate refilled. They were constantly employed in dishing potatoes or carving the goose or ladling gravy. The hired waiter circled around the room, his limp napkin over his arm, his hands full of plates and dishes. He was a great joker; he had names of his own for different articles of food, that sent gales of laughter around the table. When he spoke of a bunch of parsley as “scenery,” Heise all but strangled himself over a mouthful of potato. Out in the kitchen Maria Macapa did the work of three, her face scarlet, her sleeves rolled up; every now and then she uttered shrill but unintelligible outcries, supposedly addressed to the waiter. “Uncle Oelbermann,” said Trina, “let me give you another helping of prunes.” The Sieppes paid great deference to Uncle Oelbermann, as indeed did the whole company. Even Marcus Schouler lowered his voice when he addressed him. At the beginning of the meal he had nudged the harness-maker and had whispered behind his hand, nodding his head toward the wholesale toy dealer, “Got thirty thousand dollars in the bank; has, for a fact.” “Don’t have much to say,” observed Heise. “No, no. That’s his way; never opens his face.” As the evening wore on, the gas and two lamps were lit. The company were still eating. The men, gorged with food, had unbuttoned their vests. McTeague’s cheeks were distended, his eyes wide, his huge, salient jaw moved with a machine- like regularity; at intervals he drew a series of short breaths through his nose. Mrs. Sieppe wiped her forehead with her napkin. “Hey, dere, poy, gif me some more oaf dat—what you call—‘bubble-water.’” That was how the waiter had spoken of the champagne—“bubble-water.” The guests had shouted applause, “Outa sight.” He was a heavy josher was that waiter. Bottle after bottle was opened, the women stopping their ears as the corks were drawn. All of a sudden the dentist uttered an exclamation, clapping his hand to his

Page | 292 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) nose, his face twisting sharply. “Mac, what is it?” cried Trina in alarm. “That champagne came to my nose,” he cried, his eyes watering. “It stings like everything.” “Great BEER, ain’t ut?” shouted Marcus. “Now, Mark,” remonstrated Trina in a low voice. “Now, Mark, you just shut up; that isn’t funny any more. I don’t want you should make fun of Mac. He called it beer on purpose. I guess HE knows.” Throughout the meal old Miss Baker had occupied herself largely with Owgooste and the twins, who had been given a table by themselves—the black walnut table before which the ceremony had taken place. The little dressmaker was continually turning about in her place, inquiring of the children if they wanted for anything; inquiries they rarely answered other than by stare, fixed, ox-like, expressionless. Suddenly the little dressmaker turned to Old Grannis and exclaimed: “I’m so very fond of little children.” “Yes, yes, they’re very interesting. I’m very fond of them, too.” The next instant both of the old people were overwhelmed with confusion. What! They had spoken to each other after all these years of silence; they had for the first time addressed remarks to each other. The old dressmaker was in a torment of embarrassment. How was it she had come to speak? She had neither planned nor wished it. Suddenly the words had escaped her, he had answered, and it was all over—over before they knew it. Old Grannis’s fingers trembled on the table ledge, his heart beat heavily, his breath fell short. He had actually talked to the little dressmaker. That possibili- ty to which he had looked forward, it seemed to him for years—that companion- ship, that intimacy with his fellow-lodger, that delightful acquaintance which was only to ripen at some far distant time, he could not exactly say when—behold, it had suddenly come to a head, here in this over-crowded, over-heated room, in the midst of all this feeding, surrounded by odors of hot dishes, accompanied by the sounds of incessant mastication. How different he had imagined it would be! They were to be alone—he and Miss Baker—in the evening somewhere, withdrawn from the world, very quiet, very calm and peaceful. Their talk was to be of their lives, their lost illusions, not of other people’s children. The two old people did not speak again. They sat there side by side, nearer than they had ever been before, motionless, abstracted; their thoughts far away from that scene of feasting. They were thinking of each other and they were conscious of it. Timid, with the timidity of their second childhood, constrained and embar- rassed by each other’s presence, they were, nevertheless, in a little Elysium of their own creating. They walked hand in hand in a delicious garden where it was always autumn; together and alone they entered upon the long retarded romance of their commonplace and uneventful lives. At last that great supper was over, everything had been eaten; the enormous roast goose had dwindled to a very skeleton. Mr. Sieppe had reduced the calf’s

Page | 293 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) head to a mere skull; a row of empty champagne bottles—“dead soldiers,” as the facetious waiter had called them—lined the mantelpiece. Nothing of the stewed prunes remained but the juice, which was given to Owgooste and the twins. The platters were as clean as if they had been washed; crumbs of bread, potato parings, nutshells, and bits of cake littered the table; coffee and ice-cream stains and spots of congealed gravy marked the position of each plate. It was a devastation, a pil- lage; the table presented the appearance of an abandoned battlefield. “Ouf,” cried Mrs. Sieppe, pushing back, “I haf eatun und eatun, ach, Gott, how I haf eatun!” “Ah, dot kaf’s het,” murmured her husband, passing his tongue over his lips. The facetious waiter had disappeared. He and Maria Macapa foregathered in the kitchen. They drew up to the washboard of the sink, feasting off the remnants of the supper, slices of goose, the remains of the lobster salad, and half a bottle of champagne. They were obliged to drink the latter from teacups. “Here’s how,” said the waiter gallantly, as he raised his tea-cup, bowing to Ma- ria across the sink. “Hark,” he added, “they’re singing inside.” The company had left the table and had assembled about the melodeon, where Selina was seated. At first they attempted some of the popular songs of the day, but were obliged to give over as none of them knew any of the words beyond the first line of the chorus. Finally they pitched upon “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as the on- ly song which they all knew. Selina sang the “alto,” very much off the key; Marcus intoned the bass, scowling fiercely, his chin drawn into his collar. They sang in very slow time. The song became a dirge, a lamentable, prolonged wail of distress: “Nee-rah, my Gahd, to Thee, Nee-rah to Thee-ah.” At the end of the song, Uncle Oelbermann put on his hat without a word of warning. Instantly there was a hush. The guests rose. “Not going so soon, Uncle Oelbermann?” protested Trina, politely. He only nodded. Marcus sprang forward to help him with his overcoat. Mr. Sieppe came up and the two men shook hands. Then Uncle Oelbermann delivered himself of an oracular phrase. No doubt he had been meditating it during the supper. Addressing Mr. Sieppe, he said: “You have not lost a daughter, but have gained a son.” These were the only words he had spoken the entire evening. He departed; the company was profoundly impressed. About twenty minutes later, when Marcus Schouler was entertaining the guests by eating almonds, shells and all, Mr. Sieppe started to his feet, watch in hand. “Haf-bast elevun,” he shouted. “Attention! Der dime haf arrive, shtop eferyt- ing. We depart.” This was a signal for tremendous confusion. Mr. Sieppe immediately threw off his previous air of relaxation, the calf’s head was forgotten, he was once again the leader of vast enterprises. “To me, to me,” he cried. “Mommer, der tervins, Owgooste.” He marshalled his tribe together, with tremendous commanding gestures. The sleeping twins were

Page | 294 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) suddenly shaken into a dazed consciousness; Owgooste, whom the almond-eating of Marcus Schouler had petrified with admiration, was smacked to a realization of his surroundings. Old Grannis, with a certain delicacy that was one of his characteristics, felt instinctively that the guests—the mere outsiders—should depart before the family began its leave-taking of Trina. He withdrew unobtrusively, after a hasty good- night to the bride and groom. The rest followed almost immediately. “Well, Mr. Sieppe,” exclaimed Marcus, “we won’t see each other for some time.” Marcus had given up his first intention of joining in the Sieppe migration. He spoke in a large way of certain affairs that would keep him in San Francisco till the fall. Of late he had entertained ambitions of a ranch life, he would breed cattle, he had a little money and was only looking for some one “to go in with.” He dreamed of a cowboy’s life and saw himself in an entrancing vision involving silver spurs and untamed bronchos. He told himself that Trina had cast him off, that his best friend had “played him for a sucker,” that the “proper caper” was to withdraw from the world entirely. “If you hear of anybody down there,” he went on, speaking to Mr. Sieppe, “that wants to go in for ranching, why just let me know.” “Soh, soh,” answered Mr. Sieppe abstractedly, peering about for Owgooste’s cap. Marcus bade the Sieppes farewell. He and Heise went out together. One heard them, as they descended the stairs, discussing the possibility of Frenna’s place be- ing still open. Then Miss Baker departed after kissing Trina on both cheeks. Selina went with her. There was only the family left. Trina watched them go, one by one, with an increasing feeling of uneasiness and vague apprehension. Soon they would all be gone. “Well, Trina,” exclaimed Mr. Sieppe, “goot-py; perhaps you gome visit us somedime.” Mrs. Sieppe began crying again. “Ach, Trina, ven shall I efer see you again?” Tears came to Trina’s eyes in spite of herself. She put her arms around her mother. “Oh, sometime, sometime,” she cried. The twins and Owgooste clung to Trina’s skirts, fretting and whimpering. McTeague was miserable. He stood apart from the group, in a corner. None of them seemed to think of him; he was not of them. “Write to me very often, mamma, and tell me about everything—about August and the twins.” “It is dime,” cried Mr. Sieppe, nervously. “Goot-py, Trina. Mommer, Owgooste, say goot-py, den we must go. Goot-py, Trina.” He kissed her. Owgooste and the twins were lifted up. “Gome, gome,” insisted Mr. Sieppe, moving toward the door. “Goot-py, Trina,” exclaimed Mrs. Sieppe, crying harder than ever. “Doktor— where is der doktor—Doktor, pe goot to her, eh? pe vairy goot, eh, won’t you? Zum day, Dokter, you vill haf a daughter, den you know berhaps how I feel, yes.”

Page | 295 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

They were standing at the door by this time. Mr. Sieppe, half way down the stairs, kept calling “Gome, gome, we miss der drain.” Mrs. Sieppe released Trina and started down the hall, the twins and Owgooste following. Trina stood in the doorway, looking after them through her tears. They were going, going. When would she ever see them again? She was to be left alone with this man to whom she had just been married. A sudden vague terror seized her; she left McTeague and ran down the hall and caught her mother around the neck. “I don’t WANT you to go,” she whispered in her mother’s ear, sobbing. “Oh, mamma, I—I’m ‘fraid.” “Ach, Trina, you preak my heart. Don’t gry, poor leetle girl.” She rocked Trina in her arms as though she were a child again. “Poor leetle scairt girl, don’ gry— soh—soh—soh, dere’s nuttun to pe ‘fraid oaf. Dere, go to your hoasban’. Listen, popper’s galling again; go den; goot-by.” She loosened Trina’s arms and started down the stairs. Trina leaned over the banisters, straining her eyes after her mother. “What is ut, Trina?” “Oh, good-by, good-by.” “Gome, gome, we miss der drain.” “Mamma, oh, mamma!” “What is ut, Trina?” “Good-by.” “Goot-py, leetle daughter.” “Good-by, good-by, good-by.” The street door closed. The silence was profound. For another moment Trina stood leaning over the banisters, looking down into the empty stairway. It was dark. There was nobody. They—her father, her mother, the children—had left her, left her alone. She faced about toward the rooms—faced her husband, faced her new home, the new life that was to begin now. The hall was empty and deserted. The great flat around her seemed new and huge and strange; she felt horribly alone. Even Maria and the hired waiter were gone. On one of the floors above she heard a baby crying. She stood there an in- stant in the dark hall, in her wedding finery, looking about her, listening. From the open door of the sitting- room streamed a gold bar of light. She went down the hall, by the open door of the sitting- room, going on toward the hall door of the bedroom. As she softly passed the sitting-room she glanced hastily in. The lamps and the gas were burning brightly, the chairs were pushed back from the table just as the guests had left them, and the table itself, abandoned, deserted, presented to view the vague confusion of its dishes, its knives and forks, its empty platters and crum- pled napkins. The dentist sat there leaning on his elbows, his back toward her; against the white blur of the table he looked colossal. Above his giant shoulders rose his thick, red neck and mane of yellow hair. The light shone pink through the gristle of his enormous ears.

Page | 296 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Trina entered the bedroom, closing the door after her. At the sound, she heard McTeague start and rise. “Is that you, Trina?” She did not answer; but paused in the middle of the room, holding her breath, trembling. The dentist crossed the outside room, parted the chenille portieres, and came in. He came toward her quickly, making as if to take her in his arms. His eyes were alight. “No, no,” cried Trina, shrinking from him. Suddenly seized with the fear of him—the intuitive feminine fear of the male—her whole being quailed before him. She was terrified at his huge, square-cut head; his powerful, salient jaw; his huge, red hands; his enormous, resistless strength. “No, no—I’m afraid,” she cried, drawing back from him to the other side of the room. “Afraid?” answered the dentist in perplexity. “What are you afraid of, Trina? I’m not going to hurt you. What are you afraid of?” What, indeed, was Trina afraid of? She could not tell. But what did she know of McTeague, after all? Who was this man that had come into her life, who had taken her from her home and from her parents, and with whom she was now left alone here in this strange, vast flat? “Oh, I’m afraid. I’m afraid,” she cried. McTeague came nearer, sat down beside her and put one arm around her. “What are you afraid of, Trina?” he said, reassuringly. “I don’t want to frighten you.” She looked at him wildly, her adorable little chin quivering, the tears brimming in her narrow blue eyes. Then her glance took on a certain intentness, and she peered curiously into his face, saying almost in a whisper: “I’m afraid of you.” But the dentist did not heed her. An immense joy seized upon him—the joy of possession. Trina was his very own now. She lay there in the hollow of his arm, helpless and very pretty. Those instincts that in him were so close to the surface suddenly leaped to life, shouting and clamoring, not to be resisted. He loved her. Ah, did he not love her? The smell of her hair, of her neck, rose to him. Suddenly he caught her in both his huge arms, crushing down her struggle with his immense strength, kissing her full upon the mouth. Then her great love for Mc- Teague suddenly flashed up in Trina’s breast; she gave up to him as she had done before, yielding all at once to that strange desire of being conquered and subdued. She clung to him, her hands clasped behind his neck, whispering in his ear: “Oh, you must be good to me—very, very good to me, dear—for you’re all that I have in the world now.”

Page | 297 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

3.3.3 Reading and Review Questions 1. As you read the first nine chapters of McTeague, pay close attention to how Norris describes his protagonist. What environmental forces and natural drives motivate McTeague to descend from his position of working- class respectability to that of fugitive murderer? 2. Norris argues that true naturalistic romance can “teach you by showing.” What does McTeague teach us about the human condition by showing “the animal in the man”?

3.4 Stephen Crane (1871 - 1900)

Stephen Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1871. He was the fourteenth and last child born to a Methodist minister and his de- vout wife. After the death of his father, Crane attended military school and later college but eventually left to become a writer. He secured work as a freelance journalist, eventually ac- cepting an assignment as a in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. His first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, published in 1893, offered a raw exploration of a young woman’s struggle to thrive in the slums Image 3.2 | Stephen Crane, 1896 of New York amid poverty and prostitution, and Photographer | Unknown it represented a distinct departure from main- Source | Wikimedia Commons stream Realist works to a new literary style License | Public Domain known as Naturalism. Crane next turned his attention to the psychological ex- perience of war in The Red of Courage (1895), his second novel. Praised by and critics alike, the novel about a young Union soldier in the Civil War, secured Crane’s reputation as an important new writer on the scene and became his signature work. Through his short life, Crane was a prolific writer, producing a significant number of poems, short stories, and journalistic pieces, as well as several other novels. While he never married, Crane established a re- lationship with Cora Taylor, a free-spirited bohemian from Jacksonville, Florida. The two traveled and lived abroad, eventually settling in England where Crane’s health deteriorated from his long struggle with . Crane died at the young age of twenty-eight. Crane was an innovative author within the generation of writers that followed Howells and other Realists. Always the , Crane did not adhere to any one style. However, most critics today see many of his major works as representative of American Literary Naturalism. Taking issue with Howellsian Realism as too re-

Page | 298 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) strictive and genteel and under the influence of Darwin’s ideas, Naturalist writers such as Crane, Frank Norris, and Jack London pushed for Realism to go further in scope and subject matter, to tackle grittier subjects such as poverty, crime, vi- olence, and other sociological ills of the increasingly urban landscapes of the late nineteenth century. Naturalist writers also explored humans at odds with the nat- ural world—vast oceans, deserts, and frozen tundra—characterized as indifferent or even hostile to human striving and suffering. In Crane’s “The Open Boat,” based on a real-life ordeal that Crane endured off the coast of Florida, the shipwreck survivors are depicted not as larger than life figures able to control their destinies through free will but as small insignificant dots on the vast and indifferent sea, unable to understand their plight or control the outcome of their desperate cir- cumstances. While they fight for their lives, the correspondent comes to the stark conclusion that after a brutal and exhausting fight to reach shore and safety, the waves may cause their dinghy to crash on the rocks, raising yet another hurdle to survival for the weakened and injured men, who must now swim to shore among the dangerous rocks in order to save their lives. As mentioned before, ideas such as justice, fairness, and mercy are shown as illusions in the Darwinian environment. The men are at the mercy of natural forces that they can neither understand nor control, and while they may feel some solidarity with one another in the boat, once it swamps each man is alone in his struggle for survival.

3.4.1 “The Open Boat”

None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level, and were fastened upon the waves that swept toward them. These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops, which were of foaming white, and all of the men knew the colors of the sea. The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks. Many a man ought to have a bath-tub larger than the boat which here rode upon the sea. These waves were most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall, and each froth-top was a problem in small boat navigation. The cook squatted in the bottom and looked with both eyes at the six inches of gunwale which separated him from the ocean. His sleeves were rolled over his fat forearms, and the two flaps of his unbuttoned vest dangled as he bent to bail out the boat. Often he said: “Gawd! That was a narrow clip.” As he remarked it he invariably gazed eastward over the broken sea. The oiler, steering with one of the two oars in the boat, sometimes raised him- self suddenly to keep clear of water that swirled in over the stern. It was a thin little oar and it seemed often ready to snap. The correspondent, pulling at the other oar, watched the waves and wondered why he was there. The injured captain, lying in the bow, was at this time buried in that profound dejection and indifference which comes, temporarily at least, to even the bravest and most enduring when, willy nilly, the firm fails, the army loses, the ship goes

Page | 299 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) down. The mind of the master of a vessel is rooted deep in the timbers of her, though he command for a day or a decade, and this captain had on him the stern impression of a scene in the grays of dawn of seven turned faces, and later a stump of a top-mast with a white ball on it that slashed to and fro at the waves, went low and lower, and down. Thereafter there was something strange in his voice. Al- though steady, it was deep with mourning, and of a quality beyond oration or tears. “Keep’er a little more south, Billie,” said he. “‘A little more south,’ sir,” said the oiler in the stern. A seat in this boat was not unlike a seat upon a bucking broncho, and, by the same token, a broncho is not much smaller. The craft pranced and reared, and plunged like an animal. As each wave came, and she rose for it, she seemed like a horse making at a fence outrageously high. The manner of her scramble over these walls of water is a mystic thing, and, moreover, at the top of them were ordinarily these problems in white water, the foam racing down from the summit of each wave, requiring a new leap, and a leap from the air. Then, after scornfully bumping a crest, she would slide, and race, and splash down a long incline and arrive bob- bing and nodding in front of the next menace. A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully sur- mounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats. In a ten-foot dingey one can get an idea of the resources of the sea in the line of waves that is not probable to the average experience, which is never at sea in a dingey. As each slaty wall of water approached, it shut all else from the view of the men in the boat, and it was not difficult to imagine that this particular wavewas the final outburst of the ocean, the last effort of the grim water. There was a terrible grace in the move of the waves, and they came in silence, save for the snarling of the crests. In the wan light, the faces of the men must have been gray. Their eyes must have glinted in strange ways as they gazed steadily astern. Viewed from a balcony, the whole thing would doubtlessly have been weirdly picturesque. But the men in the boat had no time to see it, and if they had had leisure there were other things to occupy their minds. The sun swung steadily up the sky, and they knew it was broad day because the color of the sea changed from slate to emerald-green, streaked with amber lights, and the foam was like tumbling snow. The process of the break- ing day was unknown to them. They were aware only of this effect upon the color of the waves that rolled toward them. In disjointed sentences the cook and the correspondent argued as to the dif- ference between a life-saving station and a house of refuge. The cook had said: “There’s a house of refuge just north of the Mosquito Inlet Light, and as soon as they see us, they’ll come off in their boat and pick us up.” “As soon as who see us?” said the correspondent. “The crew,” said the cook. “Houses of refuge don’t have crews,” said the correspondent. “As I understand

Page | 300 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) them, they are only places where clothes and grub are stored for the benefit of ship- wrecked people. They don’t carry crews.” “Oh, yes, they do,” said the cook. “No, they don’t,” said the correspondent. “Well, we’re not there yet, anyhow,” said the oiler, in the stern. “Well,” said the cook, “perhaps it’s not a house of refuge that I’m thinking of as being near Mosquito Inlet Light. Perhaps it’s a life-saving station.” “We’re not there yet,” said the oiler, in the stern. II. As the boat bounced from the top of each wave, the wind tore through the hair of the hatless men, and as the craft plopped her stern down again the spray slashed past them. The crest of each of these waves was a hill, from the top of which the men surveyed, for a moment, a broad tumultuous expanse; shining and wind-riv- en. It was probably splendid. It was probably glorious, this play of the free sea, wild with lights of emerald and white and amber. “Bully good thing it’s an on-shore wind,” said the cook. “If not, where would we be? Wouldn’t have a show.” “That’s right,” said the correspondent. The busy oiler nodded his assent. Then the captain, in the bow, chuckled in a way that expressed humor, con- tempt, tragedy, all in one. “Do you think we’ve got much of a show, now, boys?” said he. Whereupon the three were silent, save for a trifle of hemming and hawing. To express any particular optimism at this time they felt to be childish and stupid, but they all doubtless possessed this sense of the situation in their mind. A young man thinks doggedly at such times. On the other hand, the ethics of their condition was decidedly against any open suggestion of hopelessness. So they were silent. “Oh, well,” said the captain, soothing his children, “we’ll get ashore all right.” But there was that in his tone which made them think, so the oiler quoth: “Yes! If this wind holds!” The cook was bailing: “Yes! If we don’t catch hell in the surf.” Canton flannel gulls flew near and far. Sometimes they sat down on the sea, near patches of brown sea-weed that rolled over the waves with a movement like carpets on line in a gale. The birds sat comfortably in groups, and they were envied by some in the dingey, for the wrath of the sea was no more to them than it was to a covey of prairie chickens a thousand miles inland. Often they came very close and stared at the men with black bead-like eyes. At these times they were uncan- ny and sinister in their unblinking scrutiny, and the men hooted angrily at them, telling them to be gone. One came, and evidently decided to alight on the top of the captain’s head. The bird flew parallel to the boat and did not circle, but made short sidelong jumps in the air in chicken-fashion. His black eyes were wistfully fixed upon the captain’s head. “Ugly brute,” said the oiler to the bird. “You look as if you were made with a jack-knife.” The cook and the correspondent swore darkly at the creature. The captain naturally wished to knock it away with the end of the

Page | 301 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) heavy painter, but he did not dare do it, because anything resembling an emphatic gesture would have capsized this freighted boat, and so with his open hand, the captain gently and carefully waved the gull away. After it had been discouraged from the pursuit the captain breathed easier on account of his hair, and others breathed easier because the bird struck their minds at this time as being somehow grewsome and ominous. In the meantime the oiler and the correspondent rowed. And also they rowed. They sat together in the same seat, and each rowed an oar. Then the oiler took both oars; then the correspondent took both oars; then the oiler; then the corre- spondent. They rowed and they rowed. The very ticklish part of the business was when the time came for the reclining one in the stern to take his turn at the oars. By the very last star of truth, it is easier to steal eggs from under a hen than it was to change seats in the dingey. First the man in the stern slid his hand along the thwart and moved with care, as if he were of Sevres. Then the man in the rowing seat slid his hand along the other thwart. It was all done with the most extraordinary care. As the two sidled past each other, the whole party kept watchful eyes on the coming wave, and the captain cried: “Look out now! Steady there!” The brown mats of sea-weed that appeared from time to time were like islands, bits of earth. They were travelling, apparently, neither one way nor the other. They were, to all intents stationary. They informed the men in the boat that it was mak- ing progress slowly toward the land. The captain, rearing cautiously in the bow, after the dingey soared on a great swell, said that he had seen the lighthouse at Mosquito Inlet. Presently the cook remarked that he had seen it. The correspondent was at the oars, then, and for some reason he too wished to look at the lighthouse, but his back was toward the far shore and the waves were important, and for some time he could not seize an opportunity to turn his head. But at last there came a wave more gentle than the others, and when at the crest of it he swiftly scoured the western horizon. “See it?” said the captain. “No,” said the correspondent, slowly, “I didn’t see anything.” “Look again,” said the captain. He pointed. “It’s exactly in that direction.” At the top of another wave, the correspondent did as he was bid, and this time his eyes chanced on a small still thing on the edge of the swaying horizon. It was precisely like the point of a pin. It took an anxious eye to find a lighthouse so tiny. “Think we’ll make it, captain?” “If this wind holds and the boat don’t swamp, we can’t do much else,” said the captain. The little boat, lifted by each towering sea, and splashed viciously by the crests, made progress that in the absence of sea-weed was not apparent to those in her. She seemed just a wee thing wallowing, miraculously, top-up, at the mercy of five oceans. Occasionally, a great spread of water, like white flames, swarmed into her. “Bail her, cook,” said the captain, serenely. “All right, captain,” said the cheerful cook. III

Page | 302 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

IT would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him. They were a captain, an oiler, a cook, and a correspondent, and they were friends, friends in a more curiously iron- bound degree than may be common. The hurt captain, lying against the water-jar in the bow, spoke always in a low voice and calmly, but he could never command a more ready and swiftly obedient crew than the motley three of the dingey. It was more than a mere recognition of what was best for the common safety. There was surely in it a quality that was personal and heartfelt. And after this devotion to the of the boat there was this comradeship that the correspondent, for instance, who had been taught to be cynical of men, knew even at the time was the best experience of his life. But no one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. “I wish we had a sail,” remarked the captain. “We might try my overcoat on the end of an oar and give you two boys a chance to rest.” So the cook and the corre- spondent held the mast and spread wide the overcoat. The oiler steered, and the little boat made good way with her new rig. Sometimes the oiler had to scull sharp- ly to keep a sea from breaking into the boat, but otherwise sailing was a success. Meanwhile the light-house had been growing slowly larger. It had now almost assumed color, and appeared like a little gray shadow on the sky. The man at the oars could not be prevented from turning his head rather often to try for a glimpse of this little gray shadow. At last, from the top of each wave the men in the tossing boat could see land. Even as the light-house was an upright shadow on the sky, this land seemed but a long black shadow on the sea. It certainly was thinner than paper. “We must be about opposite New Smyrna,” said the cook, who had coasted this shore often in schooners. “Captain, by the way, I believe they abandoned that life-saving station there about a year ago.” “Did they?” said the captain. The wind slowly died away. The cook and the correspondent were not now obliged to slave in order to hold high the oar. But the waves continued their old im- petuous swooping at the dingey, and the little craft, no longer under way, struggled woundily over them. The oiler or the correspondent took the oars again. Shipwrecks are apropos of nothing. If men could only train for them and have them occur when the men had reached pink condition, there would be less drown- ing at sea. Of the four in the dingey none had slept any time worth mentioning for two days and two nights previous to embarking in the dingey, and in the excite- ment of clambering about the deck of a foundering ship they had also forgotten to eat heartily. For these reasons, and for others, neither the oiler nor the correspondent was fond of rowing at this time. The correspondent wondered ingenuously how in the name of all that was sane could there be people who thought it amusing to row a boat. It was not an amusement; it was a diabolical punishment, and even a genius of mental aberrations could never conclude that it was anything but a horror to the

Page | 303 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) muscles and a crime against the back. He mentioned to the boat in general how the amusement of rowing struck him, and the weary-faced oiler smiled in full sympa- thy. Previously to the foundering, by the way, the oiler had worked double-watch in the engine-room of the ship. “Take her easy, now, boys,” said the captain. “Don’t spend yourselves. If we have to run a surf you’ll need all your strength, because we’ll sure have to swim for it. Take your time.” Slowly the land arose from the sea. From a black line it became a line of black and a line of white, trees, and sand. Finally, the captain said that he could make out a house on the shore. “That’s the house of refuge, sure,” said the cook. “They’ll see us before long, and come out after us.” The distant light-house reared high. “The keeper ought to be able to make us out now, if he’s looking through a glass,” said the captain. “He’ll notify the life-sav- ing people.” “None of those other boats could have got ashore to give word of the wreck,” said the oiler, in a low voice. “Else the life-boat would be out hunting us.” Slowly and beautifully the land loomed out of the sea. The wind came again. It had veered from the northeast to the southeast. Finally, a new sound struck the ears of the men in the boat. It was the low thunder of the surf on the shore. “We’ll never be able to make the light-house now,” said the captain. “Swing her head a little more north, Billie,” said the captain. “’A little more north,’ sir,” said the oiler. Whereupon the little boat turned her nose once more down the wind, and all but the oarsman watched the shore grow. Under the influence of this expansion doubt and direful apprehension was leaving the minds of the men. The manage- ment of the boat was still most absorbing, but it could not prevent a quiet cheerful- ness. In an hour, perhaps, they would be ashore. Their back-bones had become thoroughly used to balancing in the boat and they now rode this wild colt of a dingey like circus men. The correspondent thought that he had been drenched to the skin, but happening to feel in the top pocket of his coat, he found therein eight cigars. Four of them were soaked with sea-water; four were perfectly scatheless. After a search, somebody produced three dry matches, and thereupon the four waifs rode in their little boat, and with an assurance of an impending rescue shining in their eyes, puffed at the big cigars and judged well and ill of all men. Everybody took a drink of water. IV “COOK,” remarked the captain, “there don’t seem to be any signs of life about your house of refuge.” “No,” replied the cook. “Funny they don’t see us!” A broad stretch of lowly coast lay before the eyes of the men. It was of low dunes topped with dark vegetation. The roar of the surf was plain, and sometimes they could see the white lip of a wave as it spun up the beach. A tiny house was blocked out black upon the sky. Southward, the slim light-house lifted its little gray length. Tide, wind, and waves were swinging the dingey northward. “Funny they don’t

Page | 304 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) see us,” said the men. The surf’s roar was here dulled, but its tone was, nevertheless, thunderous and mighty. As the boat swam over the great rollers, the men sat listening to this roar. “We’ll swamp sure,” said everybody. It is fair to say here that there was not a life-saving station within twenty miles in either direction, but the men did not know this fact and in consequence they made dark and opprobrious remarks concerning the eyesight of the nation’s life-savers. Four scowling men sat in the dingey and surpassed records in the in- vention of epithets. “Funny they don’t see us.” The light-heartedness of a former time had completely faded. To their sharp- ened minds it was easy to conjure pictures of all kinds of incompetency and blind- ness and indeed, cowardice. There was the shore of the populous land, and it was bitter and bitter to them that from it came no sign. “Well,” said the captain, ultimately, “I suppose we’ll have to make a try for our- selves. If we stay out here too long, we’ll none of us have strength left to swim after the boat swamps.” And so the oiler, who was at the oars, turned the boat straight for the shore. There was a sudden tightening of muscles. There was some thinking. “If we don’t all get ashore—” said the captain. “If we don’t all get ashore, I sup- pose you fellows know where to send news of my finish?” They then briefly exchanged some addresses and admonitions. As for the re- flections of the men, there was a great deal of rage in them. Perchance they might be formulated thus: “If I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life? It is preposterous. If this old ninny-woman, Fate, cannot do better than this, she should be deprived of the management of men’s fortunes. She is an old hen who knows not her intention. If she has decided to drown me, why did she not do it in the beginning and save me all this trouble. The whole affair is absurd. . . . But, no, she cannot mean to drown me. She dare not drown me. She cannot drown me. Not after all this work.” Afterward the man might have had an impulse to shake his fist at the clouds: “Just you drown me, now, and then hear what I call you!” The billows that came at this time were more formidable. They seemed always just about to break and roll over the little boat in a turmoil of foam. There was a preparatory and long growl in the speech of them. No mind unused to the sea would have concluded that the dingey could ascend these sheer heights in time. The shore was still afar. The oiler was a wily surfman. “Boys,” he said, swiftly, “she won’t live three minutes more and we’re too far out to swim. Shall I take her to sea again, captain?” “Yes! Go ahead!” said the captain.

Page | 305 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

This oiler, by a series of quick miracles, and fast and steady oarsmanship, turned the boat in the middle of the surf and took her safely to sea again. There was a considerable silence as the boat bumped over the furrowed sea to deeper water. Then somebody in gloom spoke. “Well, anyhow, they must have seen us from the shore by now.” The gulls went in slanting flight up the wind toward the gray desolate east. A squall, marked by dingy clouds, and clouds brick-red, like smoke from a burning building, appeared from the southeast. “What do you think of those life-saving people? Ain’t they peaches?” “Funny they haven’t seen us.” “Maybe they think we’re out here for sport! Maybe they think we’re fishin’. Maybe they think we’re damned fools.” It was a long afternoon. A changed tide tried to force them southward, but wind and wave said northward. Far ahead, where coast-line, sea, and sky formed their mighty angle, there were little dots which seemed to indicate a city on the shore. “St. Augustine?” The captain shook his head. “Too near Mosquito Inlet.” And the oiler rowed, and then the correspondent rowed. Then the oiler rowed. It was a weary business. The human back can become the seat of more aches and pains than are registered in books for the composite anatomy of a regiment. It is a limited area, but it can become the theatre of innumerable muscular conflicts, tangles, wrenches, knots, and other comforts. “Did you ever like to row, Billie?” asked the correspondent. “No,” said the oiler. “Hang it.” When one exchanged the rowing-seat for a place in the bottom of the boat, he suffered a bodily depression that caused him to be careless of everything save an obligation to wiggle one finger. There was cold sea-water swashing to and fro in the boat, and he lay in it. His head, pillowed on a thwart, was within an inch of the swirl of a wave crest, and sometimes a particularly obstreperous sea came in-board and drenched him once more. But these matters did not annoy him. It is almost certain that if the boat had capsized he would have tumbled comfortably out upon the ocean as if he felt sure it was a great soft mattress. “Look! There’s a man on the shore!” “Where?” “There! See ‘im? See ‘im?” “Yes, sure! He’s walking along.” “Now he’s stopped. Look! He’s facing us!” “He’s waving at us!” “So he is! By thunder!” “Ah, now, we’re all right! Now we’re all right! There’ll be a boat out here for us in half an hour.” “He’s going on. He’s running. He’s going up to that house there.” The remote beach seemed lower than the sea, and it required a searching glance

Page | 306 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) to discern the little black figure. The captain saw a floating stick and they rowed to it. A bath-towel was by some weird chance in the boat, and, tying this on the stick, the captain waved it. The oarsman did not dare turn his head, so he was obliged to ask questions. “What’s he doing now?” “He’s standing still again. He’s looking, I think. . . . There he goes again. To- ward the house. . . . Now he’s stopped again.” “Is he waving at us?” “No, not now! he was, though.” “Look! There comes another man!” “He’s running.” “Look at him go, would you.” “Why, he’s on a bicycle. Now he’s met the other man. They’re both waving at us. Look!” “There comes something up the beach.” “What the devil is that thing?” “Why, it looks like a boat.” “Why, certainly it’s a boat.” “No, it’s on wheels.” “Yes, so it is. Well, that must be the life-boat. They drag them along shore on a wagon.” “That’s the life-boat, sure.” “No, by—, it’s—it’s an omnibus.” “I tell you it’s a life-boat.” “It is not! It’s an omnibus. I can see it plain. See? One of these big hotel omni- buses.” “By thunder, you’re right. It’s an omnibus, sure as fate. What do you suppose they are doing with an omnibus? Maybe they are going around collecting the life- crew, hey?” “That’s it, likely. Look! There’s a fellow waving a little black flag. He’s standing on the steps of the omnibus. There come those other two fellows. Now they’re all talking together. Look at the fellow with the flag. Maybe he ain’t waving it.” “That ain’t a flag, is it? That’s his coat. Why, certainly, that’s his coat.” “So it is. It’s his coat. He’s taken it off and is waving it around his head. But would you look at him swing it.” “Oh, say, there isn’t any life-saving station there. That’s just a winter resort hotel omnibus that has brought over some of the boarders to see us drown.” “What’s that idiot with the coat mean? What’s he signaling, anyhow?” “It looks as if he were trying to tell us to go north. There must be a life-saving station up there.” “No! He thinks we’re fishing. Just giving us a merry hand. See? Ah, there, Wil- lie.” “Well, I wish I could make something out of those signals. What do you sup-

Page | 307 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) pose he means?” “He don’t mean anything. He’s just playing.” “Well, if he’d just signal us to try the surf again, or to go to sea and wait, or go north, or go south, or go to hell—there would be some reason in it. But look at him. He just stands there and keeps his coat revolving like a wheel. The ass!” “There come more people.” “Now there’s quite a mob. Look! Isn’t that a boat?” “Where? Oh, I see where you mean. No, that’s no boat.” “That fellow is still waving his coat.” “He must think we like to see him do that. Why don’t he quit it. It don’t mean anything.” “I don’t know. I think he is trying to make us go north. It must be that there’s a life-saving station there somewhere.” “Say, he ain’t tired yet. Look at ‘im wave.” “Wonder how long he can keep that up. He’s been revolving his coat ever since he caught sight of us. He’s an idiot. Why aren’t they getting men to bring a boat out. A fishing boat—one of those big yawls—could come out here all right. Why don’t he do something?” “Oh, it’s all right, now.” “They’ll have a boat out here for us in less than no time, now that they’ve seen us.” A faint yellow tone came into the sky over the low land. The shadows on the sea slowly deepened. The wind bore coldness with it, and the men began to shiver. “Holy smoke!” said one, allowing his voice to express his impious mood, “if we keep on monkeying out here! If we’ve got to flounder out here all night!” “Oh, we’ll never have to stay here all night! Don’t you worry. They’ve seen us now, and it won’t be long before they’ll come chasing out after us.” The shore grew dusky. The man waving a coat blended gradually into this gloom, and it swallowed in the same manner the omnibus and the group of people. The spray, when it dashed uproariously over the side, made the voyagers shrink and swear like men who were being branded. “I’d like to catch the chump who waved the coat. I feel like soaking him one, just for luck.” “Why? What did he do?” “Oh, nothing, but then he seemed so damned cheerful.” In the meantime the oiler rowed, and then the correspondent rowed, and then the oiler rowed. Gray-faced and bowed forward, they mechanically, turn by turn, plied the leaden oars. The form of the light-house had vanished from the southern horizon, but finally a pale star appeared, just lifting from the sea. The streaked saffron in the west passed before the all-merging darkness, and the sea to the east was black. The land had vanished, and was expressed only by the low and drear thunder of the surf. “If I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be

Page | 308 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods, who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?” The patient captain, drooped over the water-jar, was sometimes obliged to speak to the oarsman. “Keep her head up! Keep her head up!” “’Keep her head up,’ sir.” The voices were weary and low. This was surely a quiet evening. All save the oarsman lay heavily and listlessly in the boat’s bottom. As for him, his eyes were just capable of noting the tall black waves that swept forward in a most sinister silence, save for an occasional subdued growl of a crest. The cook’s head was on a thwart, and he looked without interest at the water under his nose. He was deep in other scenes. Finally he spoke. “Billie,” he mur- mured, dreamfully, “what kind of pie do you like best?” “PIE,” said the oiler and the correspondent, agitatedly. “Don’t talk about those things, blast you!” “Well,” said the cook, “I was just thinking about ham sandwiches, and—“ A night on the sea in an open boat is a long night. As darkness settled finally, the shine of the light, lifting from the sea in the south, changed to full gold. On the northern horizon a new light appeared, a small bluish gleam on the edge of the wa- ters. These two lights were the furniture of the world. Otherwise there was nothing but waves. Two men huddled in the stern, and distances were so magnificent in the dingey that the rower was enabled to keep his feet partly warmed by thrusting them under his companions. Their legs indeed extended far under the rowing-seat until they touched the feet of the captain forward. Sometimes, despite the efforts of the tired oarsman, a wave came piling into the boat, an icy wave of the night, and the chilling water soaked them anew. They would twist their bodies for a moment and groan, and sleep the dead sleep once more, while the water in the boat gurgled about them as the craft rocked. The plan of the oiler and the correspondent was for one to row until he lost the ability, and then arouse the other from his sea-water couch in the bottom of the boat. The oiler plied the oars until his head drooped forward, and the overpowering sleep blinded him. And he rowed yet afterward. Then he touched a man in the bottom of the boat, and called his name. “Will you spell me for a little while?” he said, meekly. “Sure, Billie,” said the correspondent, awakening and dragging himself to a sitting position. They exchanged places carefully, and the oiler, cuddling down to the sea-water at the cook’s side, seemed to go to sleep instantly. The particular violence of the sea had ceased. The waves came without snarl- ing. The obligation of the man at the oars was to keep the boat headed so that the tilt of the rollers would not capsize her, and to preserve her from filling when the

Page | 309 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) crests rushed past. The black waves were silent and hard to be seen in the dark- ness. Often one was almost upon the boat before the oarsman was aware. In a low voice the correspondent addressed the captain. He was not sure that the captain was awake, although this iron man seemed to be always awake. “Cap- tain, shall I keep her making for that light north, sir?” The same steady voice answered him. “Yes. Keep it about two points off the port bow.” The cook had tied a life-belt around himself in order to get even the warmth which this clumsy cork contrivance could donate, and he seemed almost stove-like when a rower, whose teeth invariably chattered wildly as soon as he ceased his labor, dropped down to sleep. The correspondent, as he rowed, looked down at the two men sleeping under foot. The cook’s arm was around the oiler’s shoulders, and, with their fragmentary clothing and haggard faces, they were the babes of the sea, a grotesque rendering of the old babes in the wood. Later he must have grown stupid at his work, for suddenly there was a growling of water, and a crest came with a roar and a swash into the boat, and it was a won- der that it did not set the cook afloat in his life-belt. The cook continued to sleep, but the oiler sat up, blinking his eyes and shaking with the new cold. “Oh, I’m awful sorry, Billie,” said the correspondent, contritely. “That’s all right, old boy,” said the oiler, and lay down again and was asleep. Presently it seemed that even the captain dozed, and the correspondent thought that he was the one man afloat on all the oceans. The wind had a voice as it came over the waves, and it was sadder than the end. There was a long, loud swishing astern of the boat, and a gleaming trail of phosphorescence, like blue flame, was furrowed on the black waters. It might have been made by a monstrous knife. Then there came a stillness, while the correspondent breathed with the open mouth and looked at the sea. Suddenly there was another swish and another long flash of bluish light, and this time it was alongside the boat, and might almost have been reached with an oar. The correspondent saw an enormous fin speed like a shadow through the wa- ter, hurling the crystalline spray and leaving the long glowing trail. The correspondent looked over his shoulder at the captain. His face was hid- den, and he seemed to be asleep. He looked at the babes of the sea. They certainly were asleep. So, being bereft of sympathy, he leaned a little way to one side and swore softly into the sea. But the thing did not then leave the vicinity of the boat. Ahead or astern, on one side or the other, at intervals long or short, fled the long sparkling streak, and there was to be heard the whiroo of the dark fin. The speed and power of the thing was greatly to be admired. It cut the water like a gigantic and keen projectile. The presence of this biding thing did not affect the man with the same horror that it would if he had been a picnicker. He simply looked at the sea dully and

Page | 310 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) swore in an undertone. Nevertheless, it is true that he did not wish to be alone with the thing. He wished one of his companions to awaken by chance and keep him company with it. But the captain hung motionless over the water-jar and the oiler and the cook in the bottom of the boat were plunged in slumber. “IF I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods, who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?” During this dismal night, it may be remarked that a man would conclude that it was really the intention of the seven mad gods to drown him, despite the abom- inable injustice of it. For it was certainly an abominable injustice to drown a man who had worked so hard, so hard. The man felt it would be a crime most unnatural. Other people had drowned at sea since galleys swarmed with painted sails, but still— When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers. Then, if there be no tangible thing to hoot he feels, perhaps, the desire to con- front a personification and indulge in pleas, bowed to one knee, and with hands supplicant, saying: “Yes, but I love myself.” A high cold star on a winter’s night is the word he feels that she says to him. Thereafter he knows the pathos of his situation. The men in the dingey had not discussed these matters, but each had, no doubt, reflected upon them in silence and according to his mind. There was seldom any expression upon their faces save the general one of complete weariness. Speech was devoted to the business of the boat. To chime the notes of his emotion, a verse mysteriously entered the correspon- dent’s head. He had even forgotten that he had forgotten this verse, but it suddenly was in his mind. A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, There was lack of woman’s nursing, there was dearth of woman’s tears; But a comrade stood beside him, and he took that comrade’s hand And he said: “I shall never see my own, my native land.” In his childhood, the correspondent had been made acquainted with the fact that a soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, but he had never regarded the fact as important. Myriads of his school-fellows had informed him of the soldier’s plight, but the dinning had naturally ended by making him perfectly indifferent. He had never considered it his affair that a soldier of the Legion lay dying in Al- giers, nor had it appeared to him as a matter for sorrow. It was less to him than breaking of a pencil’s point. Now, however, it quaintly came to him as a human, living thing. It was no lon- ger merely a picture of a few throes in the breast of a poet, meanwhile drinking tea

Page | 311 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) and warming his feet at the grate; it was an actuality—stern, mournful, and fine. The correspondent plainly saw the soldier. He lay on the sand with his feet out straight and still. While his pale left hand was upon his chest in an attempt to thwart the going of his life, the blood came between his fingers. In the far Algerian distance, a city of low square forms was set against a sky that was faint with the last sunset hues. The correspondent, plying the oars and dreaming of the slow and slower movements of the lips of the soldier, was moved by a profound and perfect- ly impersonal comprehension. He was sorry for the soldier of the Legion who lay dying in Algiers. The thing which had followed the boat and waited had evidently grown bored at the delay. There was no longer to be heard the slash of the cut-water, and there was no longer the flame of the long trail. The light in the north still glimmered, but it was apparently no nearer to the boat. Sometimes the boom of the surf rang in the correspondent’s ears, and he turned the craft seaward then and rowed harder. Southward, someone had evidently built a watch-fire on the beach. It was too low and too far to be seen, but it made a shimmering, roseate reflection upon the bluff back of it, and this could be discerned from the boat. The wind came stronger, and sometimes a wave suddenly raged out like a mountain-cat and there was to be seen the sheen and sparkle of a broken crest. The captain, in the bow, moved on his water-jar and sat erect. “Pretty long night,” he observed to the correspondent. He looked at the shore. “Those life-sav- ing people take their time.” “Did you see that shark playing around?” “Yes, I saw him. He was a big fellow, all right.” “Wish I had known you were awake.” Later the correspondent spoke into the bottom of the boat. “Billie!” There was a slow and gradual disentanglement. “Billie, will you spell me?” “Sure,” said the oiler. As soon as the correspondent touched the cold comfortable sea-water in the bottom of the boat, and had huddled close to the cook’s life-belt he was deep in sleep, despite the fact that his teeth played all the popular airs. This sleep was so good to him that it was but a moment before he heard a voice call his name in a tone that demonstrated the last stages of exhaustion. “Will you spell me?” “Sure, Billie.” The light in the north had mysteriously vanished, but the correspondent took his course from the wide-awake captain. Later in the night they took the boat farther out to sea, and the captain directed the cook to take one oar at the stern and keep the boat facing the seas. He was to call out if he should hear the thunder of the surf. This plan enabled the oiler and the correspondent to get respite together. “We’ll give those boys a chance to get into shape again,” said the captain. They curled down and, after a few preliminary chatterings and trembles, slept once more the dead sleep. Neither knew they had

Page | 312 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) bequeathed to the cook the company of another shark, or perhaps the same shark. As the boat caroused on the waves, spray occasionally bumped over the side and gave them a fresh soaking, but this had no power to break their repose. The ominous slash of the wind and the water affected them as it would have affected mummies. “Boys,” said the cook, with the notes of every reluctance in his voice, “she’s drifted in pretty close. I guess one of you had better take her to sea again.” The correspondent, aroused, heard the crash of the toppled crests. As he was rowing, the captain gave him some whiskey and water, and this steadied the chills out of him. “If I ever get ashore and anybody shows me even a photograph of an oar—“ At last there was a short conversation. “Billie. . . . Billie, will you spell me?” “Sure,” said the oiler. WHEN the correspondent again opened his eyes, the sea and the sky were each of the gray hue of the dawning. Later, carmine and gold was painted upon the wa- ters. The morning appeared finally, in its splendor with a sky of pure blue, and the sunlight flamed on the tips of the waves. On the distant dunes were set many little black cottages, and a tall white wind- mill reared above them. No man, nor dog, nor bicycle appeared on the beach. The cottages might have formed a deserted village. The voyagers scanned the shore. A conference was held in the boat. “Well,” said the captain, “if no help is coming, we might better try a run through the surf right away. If we stay out here much longer we will be too weak to do anything for ourselves at all.” The others silently acquiesced in this reasoning. The boat was headed for the beach. The correspondent wondered if none ever ascended the tall wind-tower, and if then they never looked seaward. This tower was a giant, stand- ing with its back to the plight of the ants. It represented in a degree, to the corre- spondent, the serenity of nature amid the struggles of the individual—nature in the wind, and nature in the vision of men. She did not seem cruel to him, nor benefi- cent, nor treacherous, nor wise. But she was indifferent, flatly indifferent. It is, per- haps, plausible that a man in this situation, impressed with the unconcern of the universe, should see the innumerable flaws of his life and have them taste wickedly in his mind and wish for another chance. A distinction between right and wrong seems absurdly clear to him, then, in this new ignorance of the grave-edge, and he understands that if he were given another opportunity he would mend his conduct and his words, and be better and brighter during an introduction, or at a tea. “Now, boys,” said the captain, “she is going to swamp sure. All we can do is to work her in as far as possible, and then when she swamps, pile out and scramble for the beach. Keep cool now and don’t jump until she swamps sure.” The oiler took the oars. Over his shoulders he scanned the surf. “Captain,” he said, “I think I’d better bring her about, and keep her head-on to the seas and back her in.”

Page | 313 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

“All right, Billie,” said the captain. “Back her in.” The oiler swung the boat then and, seated in the stern, the cook and the correspondent were obliged to look over their shoulders to contemplate the lonely and indifferent shore. The monstrous inshore rollers heaved the boat high until the men were again enabled to see the white sheets of water scudding up the slanted beach. “We won’t get in very close,” said the captain. Each time a man could wrest his attention from the rollers, he turned his glance toward the shore, and in the expression of the eyes during this contemplation there was a singular quality. The correspondent, observing the others, knew that they were not afraid, but the full meaning of their glances was shrouded. As for himself, he was too tired to grapple fundamentally with the fact. He tried to coerce his mind into thinking of it, but the mind was dominated at this time by the muscles, and the muscles said they did not care. It merely occurred to him that if he should drown it would be a shame. There were no hurried words, no pallor, no plain agitation. The men simply looked at the shore. “Now, remember to get well clear of the boat when you jump,” said the captain. Seaward the crest of a roller suddenly fell with a thunderous crash, and the long white comber came roaring down upon the boat. “Steady now,” said the captain. The men were silent. They turned their eyes from the shore to the comber and waited. The boat slid up the incline, leaped at the furious top, bounced over it, and swung down the long back of the waves. Some water had been shipped and the cook bailed it out. But the next crest crashed also. The tumbling boiling flood of white water caught the boat and whirled it almost perpendicular. Water swarmed in from all sides. The correspondent had his hands on the gunwale at this time, and when the water entered at that place he swiftly withdrew his fingers, as if he objected to wetting them. The little boat, drunken with this weight of water, reeled and snuggled deeper into the sea. “Bail her out, cook! Bail her out,” said the captain. “All right, captain,” said the cook. “Now, boys, the next one will do for us, sure,” said the oiler. “Mind to jump clear of the boat.” The third wave moved forward, huge, furious, implacable. It fairly swallowed the dingey, and almost simultaneously the men tumbled into the sea. A piece of life-belt had lain in the bottom of the boat, and as the correspondent went over- board he held this to his chest with his left hand. The January water was icy, and he reflected immediately that it was colder than he had expected to find it off the coast of Florida. This appeared to his dazed mind as a fact important enough to be noted at the time. The coldness of the water was sad; it was tragic. This fact was somehow mixed and confused with his opinion of his own situation that it seemed almost a proper reason for tears. The water was

Page | 314 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) cold. When he came to the surface he was conscious of little but the noisy water. Af- terward he saw his companions in the sea. The oiler was ahead in the race. He was swimming strongly and rapidly. Off to the correspondent’s left, the cook’s great white and corked back bulged out of the water, and in the rear the captain was hanging with his one good hand to the keel of the overturned dingey. There is a certain immovable quality to a shore, and the correspondent won- dered at it amid the confusion of the sea. It seemed also very attractive, but the correspondent knew that it was a long journey, and he paddled leisurely. The piece of life-preserver lay under him, and sometimes he whirled down the incline of a wave as if he were on a hand-sled. But finally he arrived at a place in the sea where travel was beset with difficulty. He did not pause swimming to inquire what manner of current had caught him, but there his progress ceased. The shore was set before him like a bit of scenery on a stage, and he looked at it and understood with his eyes each detail of it. As the cook passed, much farther to the left, the captain was calling to him, “Turn over on your back, cook! Turn over on your back and use the oar.” “All right, sir!” The cook turned on his back, and, paddling with an oar, went ahead as if he were a canoe. Presently the boat also passed to the left of the correspondent with the captain clinging with one hand to the keel. He would have appeared like a man raising himself to look over a board fence, if it were not for the extraordinary gymnastics of the boat. The correspondent marvelled that the captain could still hold to it. They passed on, nearer to shore—the oiler, the cook, the captain—and follow- ing them went the water-jar, bouncing gayly over the seas. The correspondent remained in the grip of this strange new enemy—a current. The shore, with its white slope of sand and its green bluff, topped with little silent cottages, was spread like a picture before him. It was very near to him then, but he was impressed as one who in a gallery looks at a scene from Brittany or Algiers. He thought: “I am going to drown? Can it be possible? Can it be possible? Can it be possible?” Perhaps an individual must consider his own death to be the final phenomenon of nature. But later a wave perhaps whirled him out of this small deadly current, for he found suddenly that he could again make progress toward the shore. Later still, he was aware that the captain, clinging with one hand to the keel of the dingey, had his face turned away from the shore and toward him, and was calling his name. “Come to the boat! Come to the boat!” In his struggle to reach the captain and the boat, he reflected that when one gets properly wearied, drowning must really be a comfortable arrangement, a ces- sation of hostilities accompanied by a large degree of relief, and he was glad of it, for the main thing in his mind for some moments had been horror of the tempo- rary agony. He did not wish to be hurt. Presently he saw a man running along the shore. He was undressing with most

Page | 315 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) remarkable speed. Coat, trousers, shirt, everything flew magically off him. “Come to the boat,” called the captain. “All right, captain.” As the correspondent paddled, he saw the captain let him- self down to bottom and leave the boat. Then the correspondent performed his one little marvel of the voyage. A large wave caught him and flung him with ease and supreme speed completely over the boat and far beyond it. It struck him even then as an event in gymnastics, and a true miracle of the sea. An overturned boat in the surf is not a plaything to a swimming man. The correspondent arrived in water that reached only to his waist, but his con- dition did not enable him to more than a moment. Each wave knocked him into a heap, and the under-tow pulled at him. Then he saw the man who had been running and undressing, and undressing and running, come bounding into the water. He dragged ashore the cook, and then waded toward the captain, but the captain waved him away, and sent him to the correspondent. He was naked, naked as a tree in winter, but a halo was about his head, and he shone like a saint. He gave a strong pull, and a long drag, and a bully heave at the correspondent’s hand. The correspondent, schooled in the minor for- mulae, said: “Thanks, old man.” But suddenly the man cried: “What’s that?” He pointed a swift finger. The correspondent said: “Go.” In the shallows, face downward, lay the oiler. His forehead touched sand that was periodically, between each wave, clear of the sea. The correspondent did not know all that transpired afterward. When he achieved safe ground he fell, striking the sand with each particular part of his body. It was as if he had dropped from a roof, but the thud was grateful to him. It seems that instantly the beach was populated with men with blankets, clothes, and flasks, and women with coffee-pots and all the remedies sacred to their minds. The welcome of the land to the men from the sea was warm and generous, but a still and dripping shape was carried slowly up the beach, and the land’s welcome for it could only be the different and sinister hospitality of the grave. When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight, and the wind brought the sound of the great sea’s voice to the men on shore, and they felt that they could then be interpreters.

3.4.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. Trace the features of Naturalism in “The Open Boat.” 2. Why is Billie the Oiler the only man named in the “The Open Boat”? 3. In “The Open Boat,” why does the correspondent come to the conclusion that being in the open boat and trying to survive the shipwreck, in spite of all the horrors it brings, was the best experience of his life? 4. In “The Open Boat,” what does the correspondent mean when he wants to throw bricks at the temple and discovers there are no bricks and no temples? 5. How is nature characterized in “The Open Boat”?

Page | 316 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

6. What does the last line in “The Open Boat” mean, the last line being when the survivors, after hearing “the great sea’s voice,” feel that they can be “interpreters.”

3.5 Jack London (1876 - 1916)

“Let us be very humble,” Jack London once wrote to no less a reader than American Pres- ident Teddy Roosevelt. “We who are so very human are very animal.” Committed to pro- ducing 1000 words a day, London authored before his death at the age of forty over 400 works of non-fiction, twenty novels, and almost 200 short stories in numerous genres ranging from journalistic social criticism to juvenile, adventure, dystopian, and . As a teenager in Oakland, California, London was a voracious reader but received only a sporad- Image 3.3 | Jack London, 1903 ic and mostly informal education. Throughout Publisher | L C Page and Company Boston his youth he supported his family by working Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain in mills and canneries, upon sailing boats, and even as an oyster pirate. Before he was twenty-two, he had spent time in jail for vagrancy, lectured publicly on , attended one semester at the University of California, and ventured to the Canadian Yukon in search of gold. The prolific and adventurous London soon found great success as a writer, authoring many books while sailing around the world in his private yacht, and eventually becom- ing America’s first millionaire author. From the time of his youth, London was swept up in the intellectual and political movements of his day. He was especial- ly influenced by the of Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx. The theme that unites these three great thinkers—and that appealed to London—is struggle: Marx saw history as a struggle between classes; Darwin saw nature as a struggle for survival between species; and Nietzsche saw society as a struggle between brilliant individuals and social institutions. London’s jobs and adventures at the bottom of the work force, in the arctic, and at sea combined with the ideas of these thinkers to become the subjects of his popular literature. A literary naturalist, London is arguably best known today for his stories about dogs, most notably the novels Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906), and the story included here, “To Build a Fire” (1908). “To Build a Fire” is an excellent example of literary naturalism, for its plot centers around a man’s struggle for sur- vival. Interestingly, London published an earlier draft of this same story in 1902

Page | 317 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) in the juvenile Youth’s Magazine, in which he gave his protagonist a name (Tom Vincent) and set him out alone in the Yukon without a dog. However, in the revised and much more famous version of the story you read here, London does not name the man but instead has given him a dog. As man and dog journey together on a frozen trail, London shows how heredity and environment are just as much a part of the human condition as culture and individual character.

3.5.1 “To Build a Fire”

Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth- bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland. It was a steep bank, and he paused for breath at the top, excusing the act to himself by looking at his watch. It was nine o’clock. There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that made the day dark, and that was due to the absence of sun. This fact did not worry the man. He was used to the lack of sun. It had been days since he had seen the sun, and he knew that a few more days must pass before that cheerful orb, due south, would just peep above the sky-line and dip immediately from view. The man flung a look back along the way he had come. The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow. It was all pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where the ice-jams of the freeze-up had formed. North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was un- broken white, save for a dark hair-line that curved and twisted from around the spruce- covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted away into the north, where it disappeared behind another spruce-covered island. This dark hair- line was the trail—the main trail—that led south five hundred miles to the Chilcoot Pass, Dyea, and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St. Michael on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and half a thousand more. But all this—the mysterious, far-reaching hairline trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all—made no impression on the man. It was not because he was long used to it. He was a new-comer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and un- comfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe. Fifty degrees be- low zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against by the use of mittens, ear-flaps, warm moccasins, and thick socks. Fifty degrees below ze- ro was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything Page | 318 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head. As he turned to go on, he spat speculatively. There was a sharp, explosive crackle that startled him. He spat again. And again, in the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled. He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air. Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below—how much colder he did not know. But the temperature did not matter. He was bound for the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek, where the boys were already. They had come over across the divide from the Indian Creek country, while he had come the roundabout way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon. He would be in to camp by six o’clock; a bit after dark, it was true, but the boys would be there, a fire would be going, and a hot supper would be ready. As for lunch, he pressed his hand against the protruding bundle under his jacket. It was also under his shirt, wrapped up in a handkerchief and lying against the naked skin. It was the only way to keep the biscuits from freezing. He smiled agreeably to himself as he thought of those biscuits, each cut open and sopped in bacon grease, and each enclosing a generous slice of fried bacon. He plunged in among the big spruce trees. The trail was faint. A foot of snow had fallen since the last sled had passed over, and he was glad he was without a sled, travelling light. In fact, he carried nothing but the lunch wrapped in the handkerchief. He was surprised, however, at the cold. It certainly was cold, he con- cluded, as he rubbed his numbed nose and cheek-bones with his mittened hand. He was a warm- whiskered man, but the hair on his face did not protect the high cheek-bones and the eager nose that thrust itself aggressively into the frosty air. At the man’s heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, grey-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf. The animal was depressed by the tremendous cold. It knew that it was no time for travelling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man’s judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero. Since the freezing-point is thirty-two above zero, it meant that one hundred and seven degrees of frost obtained. The dog did not know anything about thermome- ters. Possibly in its brain there was no sharp consciousness of a condition of very cold such as was in the man’s brain. But the brute had its instinct. It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man’s heels, and that made it question eagerly every unwonted movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned fire, and it wanted fire, or else to burrow under the snow and cuddle its warmth away from the air. The frozen moisture of its breathing had settled on its fur in a fine powder of frost, and especially were its jowls, muzzle, and eyelashes whitened by its crys- talled breath. The man’s red beard and moustache were likewise frosted, but more solidly, the deposit taking the form of ice and increasing with every warm, moist

Page | 319 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) breath he exhaled. Also, the man was chewing tobacco, and the muzzle of ice held his lips so rigidly that he was unable to clear his chin when he expelled the juice. The result was that a crystal beard of the colour and solidity of amber was increas- ing its length on his chin. If he fell down it would shatter itself, like glass, into brit- tle fragments. But he did not mind the appendage. It was the penalty all tobacco- chewers paid in that country, and he had been out before in two cold snaps. They had not been so cold as this, he knew, but by the spirit thermometer at Sixty Mile he knew they had been registered at fifty below and at fifty-five. He held on through the level stretch of woods for several miles, crossed a wide flat of nigger-heads, and dropped down a bank to the frozen bed of a small stream. This was Henderson Creek, and he knew he was ten miles from the forks. He looked at his watch. It was ten o’clock. He was making four miles an hour, and he calcu- lated that he would arrive at the forks at half-past twelve. He decided to celebrate that event by eating his lunch there. The dog dropped in again at his heels, with a tail drooping discouragement, as the man swung along the creek-bed. The furrow of the old sled-trail was plain- ly visible, but a dozen inches of snow covered the marks of the last runners. In a month no man had come up or down that silent creek. The man held steadily on. He was not much given to thinking, and just then particularly he had nothing to think about save that he would eat lunch at the forks and that at six o’clock he would be in camp with the boys. There was nobody to talk to and, had there been, speech would have been impossible because of the ice-muzzle on his mouth. So he continued monotonously to chew tobacco and to increase the length of his amber beard. Once in a while the thought reiterated itself that it was very cold and that he had never experienced such cold. As he walked along he rubbed his cheek-bones and nose with the back of his mittened hand. He did this automatically, now and again changing hands. But rub as he would, the instant he stopped his cheekbones went numb, and the following instant the end of his nose went numb. He was sure to frost his cheeks; he knew that, and experienced a pang of regret that he had not devised a nose-strap of the sort Bud wore in cold snaps. Such a strap passed across the cheeks, as well, and saved them. But it didn’t matter much, after all. What were frosted cheeks? A bit painful, that was all; they were never serious. Empty as the man’s mind was of thoughts, he was keenly observant, and he noticed the changes in the creek, the curves and bends and timber-jams, and al- ways he sharply noted where he placed his feet. Once, coming around a bend, he shied abruptly, like a startled horse, curved away from the place where he had been walking, and retreated several paces back along the trail. The creek he knew was frozen clear to the bottom—no creek could contain water in that arctic winter—but he knew also that there were springs that bubbled out from the hillsides and ran along under the snow and on top the ice of the creek. He knew that the coldest snaps never froze these springs, and he knew likewise their danger. They were traps. They hid pools of water under the snow that might be three inches deep, or

Page | 320 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) three feet. Sometimes a skin of ice half an inch thick covered them, and in turn was covered by the snow. Sometimes there were alternate layers of water and ice-skin, so that when one broke through he kept on breaking through for a while, some- times wetting himself to the waist. That was why he had shied in such panic. He had felt the give under his feet and heard the crackle of a snow-hidden ice-skin. And to get his feet wet in such a temperature meant trouble and danger. At the very least it meant delay, for he would be forced to stop and build a fire, and under its protection to bare his feet while he dried his socks and moccasins. He stood and studied the creek-bed and its banks, and decided that the flow of water came from the right. He reflected awhile, rubbing his nose and cheeks, then skirted to the left, stepping gingerly and testing the footing for each step. Once clear of the danger, he took a fresh chew of tobacco and swung along at his four-mile gait. In the course of the next two hours he came upon several similar traps. Usually the snow above the hidden pools had a sunken, candied appearance that adver- tised the danger. Once again, however, he had a close call; and once, suspecting danger, he compelled the dog to go on in front. The dog did not want to go. It hung back until the man shoved it forward, and then it went quickly across the white, unbroken surface. Suddenly it broke through, floundered to one side, and got away to firmer footing. It had wet its forefeet and legs, and almost immediately the water that clung to it turned to ice. It made quick efforts to lick the ice off its legs, then dropped down in the snow and began to bite out the ice that had formed between the toes. This was a matter of instinct. To permit the ice to remain would mean sore feet. It did not know this. It merely obeyed the mysterious prompting that arose from the deep crypts of its being. But the man knew, having achieved a judgment on the subject, and he removed the mitten from his right hand and helped tear out the ice- particles. He did not expose his fingers more than a minute, and was astonished at the swift numbness that smote them. It certainly was cold. He pulled on the mitten hastily, and beat the hand savagely across his chest. At twelve o’clock the day was at its brightest. Yet the sun was too far south on its winter journey to clear the horizon. The bulge of the earth intervened between it and Henderson Creek, where the man walked under a clear sky at noon and cast no shadow. At half-past twelve, to the minute, he arrived at the forks of the creek. He was pleased at the speed he had made. If he kept it up, he would certainly be with the boys by six. He unbuttoned his jacket and shirt and drew forth his lunch. The action consumed no more than a quarter of a minute, yet in that brief moment the numbness laid hold of the exposed fingers. He did not put the mitten on, but, instead, struck the fingers a dozen sharp smashes against his leg. Then he sat down on a snow-covered log to eat. The sting that followed upon the striking of his fin- gers against his leg ceased so quickly that he was startled, he had had no chance to take a bite of biscuit. He struck the fingers repeatedly and returned them to the mitten, baring the other hand for the purpose of eating. He tried to take a mouth- ful, but the ice-muzzle prevented. He had forgotten to build a fire and thaw out. He

Page | 321 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) chuckled at his foolishness, and as he chuckled he noted the numbness creeping into the exposed fingers. Also, he noted that the stinging which had first come to his toes when he sat down was already passing away. He wondered whether the toes were warm or numbed. He moved them inside the moccasins and decided that they were numbed. He pulled the mitten on hurriedly and stood up. He was a bit frightened. He stamped up and down until the stinging returned into the feet. It certainly was cold, was his thought. That man from Sulphur Creek had spoken the truth when telling how cold it sometimes got in the country. And he had laughed at him at the time! That showed one must not be too sure of things. There was no mistake about it, it was cold. He strode up and down, stamping his feet and threshing his arms, until reassured by the returning warmth. Then he got out matches and proceeded to make a fire. From the undergrowth, where high water of the previous spring had lodged a supply of seasoned twigs, he got his firewood. Working carefully from a small beginning, he soon had a roaring fire, over which he thawed the ice from his face and in the protection of which he ate his biscuits. For the moment the cold of space was outwitted. The dog took satisfaction in the fire, stretching out close enough for warmth and far enough away to escape being singed. When the man had finished, he filled his pipe and took his comfortable time over a smoke. Then he pulled on his mittens, settled the ear-flaps of his cap firmly about his ears, and took the creek trail up the left fork. The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire. This man did not know cold. Possibly all the gen- erations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing-point. But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited . And it knew that it was not good to walk abroad in such fearful cold. It was the time to lie snug in a hole in the snow and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of outer space whence this cold came. On the other hand, there was keen intimacy between the dog and the man. The one was the toilslave of the other, and the only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip- lash and of harsh and menacing throat-sounds that threat- ened the whip-lash. So the dog made no effort to communicate its apprehension to the man. It was not concerned in the welfare of the man; it was for its own sake that it yearned back toward the fire. But the man whistled, and spoke to it with the sound of whip-lashes, and the dog swung in at the man’s heels and followed after. The man took a chew of tobacco and proceeded to start a new amber beard. Also, his moist breath quickly powdered with white his moustache, eyebrows, and lashes. There did not seem to be so many springs on the left fork of the Henderson, and for half an hour the man saw no signs of any. And then it happened. At a place where there were no signs, where the soft, unbroken snow seemed to advertise so- lidity beneath, the man broke through. It was not deep. He wetted himself half-way to the knees before he floundered out to the firm crust. He was angry, and cursed his luck aloud. He had hoped to get into camp with the boys at six o’clock, and this would delay him an hour, for he would have to

Page | 322 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) build a fire and dry out his foot-gear. This was imperative at that low tempera- ture—he knew that much; and he turned aside to the bank, which he climbed. On top, tangled in the underbrush about the trunks of several small spruce trees, was a high-water deposit of dry firewood—sticks and twigs principally, but also larger portions of seasoned branches and fine, dry, last-year’s grasses. He threw down several large pieces on top of the snow. This served for a foundation and prevented the young flame from drowning itself in the snow it otherwise would melt. The flame he got by touching a match to a small shred of birch-bark that he took from his pocket. This burned even more readily than paper. Placing it on the foundation, he fed the young flame with wisps of dry grass and with the tiniest dry twigs. He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the twigs with which he fed it. He squatted in the snow, pulling the twigs out from their entanglement in the brush and feeding directly to the flame. He knew there must be no failure. When it is seventy-five below zero, a man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire—that is, if his feet are wet. If his feet are dry, and he fails, he can run along the trail for half a mile and restore his circulation. But the circulation of wet and freezing feet cannot be restored by running when it is seventy-five below. No matter how fast he runs, the wet feet will freeze the harder. All this the man knew. The old-timer on Sulphur Creek had told him about it the previous fall, and now he was appreciating the advice. Already all sensation had gone out of his feet. To build the fire he had been forced to remove his mittens, and the fingers had quickly gone numb. His pace of four miles an hour had kept his heart pumping blood to the surface of his body and to all the extremities. But the instant he stopped, the action of the pump eased down. The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow. The blood of his body recoiled before it. The blood was alive, like the dog, and like the dog it wanted to hide away and cover itself up from the fearful cold. So long as he walked four miles an hour, he pumped that blood, willy-nilly, to the surface; but now it ebbed away and sank down into the recesses of his body. The extremities were the first to feel its absence. His wet feet froze the faster, and his exposed fingers numbed the faster, though they had not yet begun to freeze. Nose and cheeks were already freezing, while the skin of all his body chilled as it lost its blood. But he was safe. Toes and nose and cheeks would be only touched by the frost, for the fire was beginning to burn with strength. He was feeding it with twigs the size of his finger. In another minute he would be able to feed it with branches the size of his wrist, and then he could remove his wet foot-gear, and, while it dried, he could keep his naked feet warm by the fire, rubbing them at first, of course, with snow. The fire was a success. He was safe. He remembered the advice of the old-timer on Sulphur Creek, and smiled. The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty be- low. Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone; and he had saved

Page | 323 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) himself. Those oldtimers were rather womanish, some of them, he thought. All a man had to do was to keep his head, and he was all right. Any man who was a man could travel alone. But it was surprising, the rapidity with which his cheeks and nose were freezing. And he had not thought his fingers could go lifeless in so short a time. Lifeless they were, for he could scarcely make them move together to grip a twig, and they seemed remote from his body and from him. When he touched a twig, he had to look and see whether or not he had hold of it. The wires were pretty well down between him and his finger-ends. All of which counted for little. There was the fire, snapping and crackling and promising life with every dancing flame. He started to untie his moccasins. They were coated with ice; the thick German socks were like sheaths of iron half-way to the knees; and the mocassin strings were like rods of steel all twisted and knotted as by some conflagration. For a moment he tugged with his numbed fingers, then, realizing the folly of it, he drew his sheath-knife. But before he could cut the strings, it happened. It was his own fault or, rather, his mistake. He should not have built the fire under the spruce tree. He should have built it in the open. But it had been easier to pull the twigs from the brush and drop them directly on the fire. Now the tree under which he had done this carried a weight of snow on its boughs. No wind had blown for weeks, and each bough was fully freighted. Each time he had pulled a twig he had communicated a slight agitation to the tree—an imperceptible agitation, so far as he was concerned, but an agitation sufficient to bring about the disaster. High up in the tree one bough capsized its load of snow. This fell on the boughs beneath, capsizing them. This process continued, spreading out and involving the whole tree. It grew like an av- alanche, and it descended without warning upon the man and the fire, and the fire was blotted out! Where it had burned was a mantle of fresh and disordered snow. The man was shocked. It was as though he had just heard his own sentence of death. For a moment he sat and stared at the spot where the fire had been. Then he grew very calm. Perhaps the old-timer on Sulphur Creek was right. If he had only had a trail-mate he would have been in no danger now. The trail-mate could have built the fire. Well, it was up to him to build the fire over again, and this second time there must be no failure. Even if he succeeded, he would most likely lose some toes. His feet must be badly frozen by now, and there would be some time before the second fire was ready. Such were his thoughts, but he did not sit and think them. He was busy all the time they were passing through his mind, he made a new foundation for a fire, this time in the open; where no treacherous tree could blot it out. Next, he gathered dry grasses and tiny twigs from the high-water flotsam. He could not bring his fingers together to pull them out, but he was able to gather them by the handful. In this way he got many rotten twigs and bits of green moss that were undesirable, but it was the best he could do. He worked methodically, even collecting an armful of the larger branches to be used later when the fire gathered strength. And all the while the dog sat and watched him, a certain yearning wistfulness in its eyes, for it looked

Page | 324 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) upon him as the fire-provider, and the fire was slow in coming. When all was ready, the man reached in his pocket for a second piece of birch- bark. He knew the bark was there, and, though he could not feel it with his fingers, he could hear its crisp rustling as he fumbled for it. Try as he would, he could not clutch hold of it. And all the time, in his consciousness, was the knowledge that each instant his feet were freezing. This thought tended to put him in a panic, but he fought against it and kept calm. He pulled on his mittens with his teeth, and threshed his arms back and forth, beating his hands with all his might against his sides. He did this sitting down, and he stood up to do it; and all the while the dog sat in the snow, its wolf-brush of a tail curled around warmly over its forefeet, its sharp wolf-ears pricked forward intently as it watched the man. And the man as he beat and threshed with his arms and hands, felt a great surge of envy as he regard- ed the creature that was warm and secure in its natural covering. After a time he was aware of the first far-away signals of sensation in his beaten fingers. The faint tingling grew stronger till it evolved into a stinging ache that was excruciating, but which the man hailed with satisfaction. He stripped the mitten from his right hand and fetched forth the birch-bark. The exposed fingers were quickly going numb again. Next he brought out his bunch of sulphur matches. But the tremendous cold had already driven the life out of his fingers. In his effort to separate one match from the others, the whole bunch fell in the snow. He tried to pick it out of the snow, but failed. The dead fingers could neither touch nor clutch. He was very careful. He drove the thought of his freezing feet; and nose, and cheeks, out of his mind, devoting his whole soul to the matches. He watched, using the sense of vision in place of that of touch, and when he saw his fingers on each side the bunch, he closed them—that is, he willed to close them, for the wires were drawn, and the fingers did not obey. He pulled the mitten on the right hand, and beat it fiercely against his knee. Then, with both mittened hands, he scooped the bunch of matches, along with much snow, into his lap. Yet he was no better off. After some manipulation he managed to get the bunch between the heels of his mittened hands. In this fashion he carried it to his mouth. The ice crackled and snapped when by a violent effort he opened his mouth. He drew the lower jaw in, curled the upper lip out of the way, and scraped the bunch with his upper teeth in order to separate a match. He succeeded in getting one, which he dropped on his lap. He was no better off. He could not pick it up. Then he devised a way. He picked it up in his teeth and scratched it on his leg. Twenty times he scratched before he succeeded in lighting it. As it flamed he held it with his teeth to the birch-bark. But the burning brimstone went up his nostrils and into his lungs, causing him to cough spasmodically. The match fell into the snow and went out. The old-timer on Sulphur Creek was right, he thought in the moment of con- trolled despair that ensued: after fifty below, a man should travel with a partner. He beat his hands, but failed in exciting any sensation. Suddenly he bared both hands, removing the mittens with his teeth. He caught the whole bunch between the heels of his hands. His arm-muscles not being frozen enabled him to press the

Page | 325 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) hand-heels tightly against the matches. Then he scratched the bunch along his leg. It flared into flame, seventy sulphur matches at once! There was no wind to blow them out. He kept his head to one side to escape the strangling fumes, and held the blazing bunch to the birch-bark. As he so held it, he became aware of sensation in his hand. His flesh was burning. He could smell it. Deep down below the surface he could feel it. The sensation developed into pain that grew acute. And still he endured it, holding the flame of the matches clumsily to the bark that would not light readily because his own burning hands were in the way, absorbing most of the flame. At last, when he could endure no more, he jerked his hands apart. The blazing matches fell sizzling into the snow, but the birch-bark was alight. He began laying dry grasses and the tiniest twigs on the flame. He could not pick and choose, for he had to lift the fuel between the heels of his hands. Small pieces of rotten wood and green moss clung to the twigs, and he bit them off as well as he could with his teeth. He cherished the flame carefully and awkwardly. It meant life, and it must not per- ish. The withdrawal of blood from the surface of his body now made him begin to shiver, and he grew more awkward. A large piece of green moss fell squarely on the little fire. He tried to poke it out with his fingers, but his shivering frame made him poke too far, and he disrupted the nucleus of the little fire, the burning grasses and tiny twigs separating and scattering. He tried to poke them together again, but in spite of the tenseness of the effort, his shivering got away with him, and the twigs were hopelessly scattered. Each twig gushed a puff of smoke and went out. The fire-provider had failed. As he looked apathetically about him, his eyes chanced on the dog, sitting across the ruins of the fire from him, in the snow, making restless, hunching movements, slightly lifting one forefoot and then the other, shifting its weight back and forth on them with wistful eagerness. The sight of the dog put a wild idea into his head. He remembered the tale of the man, caught in a blizzard, who killed a steer and crawled inside the carcass, and so was saved. He would kill the dog and bury his hands in the warm body until the numbness went out of them. Then he could build another fire. He spoke to the dog, calling it to him; but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal, who had never known the man to speak in such way before. Something was the matter, and its suspicious nature sensed danger,—it knew not what dan- ger but somewhere, somehow, in its brain arose an apprehension of the man. It flattened its ears down at the sound of the man’s voice, and its restless, hunching movements and the liftings and shiftings of its forefeet became more pronounced but it would not come to the man. He got on his hands and knees and crawled to- ward the dog. This unusual posture again excited suspicion, and the animal sidled mincingly away. The man sat up in the snow for a moment and struggled for calmness. Then he pulled on his mittens, by means of his teeth, and got upon his feet. He glanced down at first in order to assure himself that he was really standing up, forthe absence of sensation in his feet left him unrelated to the earth. His erect position

Page | 326 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) in itself started to drive the webs of suspicion from the dog’s mind; and when he spoke peremptorily, with the sound of whip-lashes in his voice, the dog rendered its customary allegiance and came to him. As it came within reaching distance, the man lost his control. His arms flashed out to the dog, and he experienced genuine surprise when he discovered that his hands could not clutch, that there was neither bend nor feeling in the lingers. He had forgotten for the moment that they were frozen and that they were freezing more and more. All this happened quickly, and before the animal could get away, he encircled its body with his arms. He sat down in the snow, and in this fashion held the dog, while it snarled and whined and struggled. But it was all he could do, hold its body encircled in his arms and sit there. He realized that he could not kill the dog. There was no way to do it. With his helpless hands he could neither draw nor hold his sheathknife nor throttle the animal. He released it, and it plunged wildly away, with tail between its legs, and still snarling. It halted forty feet away and surveyed him curiously, with ears sharply pricked forward. The man looked down at his hands in order to locate them, and found them hanging on the ends of his arms. It struck him as curious that one should have to use his eyes in order to find out where his hands were. He began threshing his arms back and forth, beating the mittened hands against his sides. He did this for five minutes, violently, and his heart pumped enough blood up to the surface to put a stop to his shivering. But no sensation was aroused in the hands. He had an impression that they hung like weights on the ends of his arms, but when he tried to run the impression down, he could not find it. A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or of losing his hands and feet, but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against him. This threw him into a panic, and he turned and ran up the creek-bed along the old, dim trail. The dog joined in behind and kept up with him. He ran blindly, without intention, in fear such as he had never known in his life. Slowly, as he ploughed and floundered through the snow, he began to see things again—the banks of the creek, the old timber-jams, the leafless aspens, and the sky. The running made him feel better. He did not shiver. Maybe, if he ran on, his feet would thaw out; and, anyway, if he ran far enough, he would reach camp and the boys. Without doubt he would lose some fingers and toes and some of his face; but the boys would take care of him, and save the rest of him when he got there. And at the same time there was another thought in his mind that said he would never get to the camp and the boys; that it was too many miles away, that the freezing had too great a start on him, and that he would soon be stiff and dead. This thought he kept in the background and refused to consider. Sometimes it pushed itself forward and demanded to be heard, but he thrust it back and strove to think of other things. It struck him as curious that he could run at all on feet so frozen that he could not feel them when they struck the earth and took the weight of his body. He

Page | 327 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914) seemed to himself to skim along above the surface and to have no connection with the earth. Somewhere he had once seen a winged Mercury, and he wondered if Mercury felt as he felt when skimming over the earth. His theory of running until he reached camp and the boys had one flaw in it: he lacked the endurance. Several times he stumbled, and finally he tottered, crumpled up, and fell. When he tried to rise, he failed. He must sit and rest, he decided, and next time he would merely walk and keep on going. As he sat and regained his breath, he noted that he was feeling quite warm and comfortable. He was not shivering, and it even seemed that a warm glow had come to his chest and trunk. And yet, when he touched his nose or cheeks, there was no sensation. Running would not thaw them out. Nor would it thaw out his hands and feet. Then the thought came to him that the frozen portions of his body must be extending. He tried to keep this thought down, to forget it, to think of something else; he was aware of the panicky feeling that it caused, and he was afraid of the panic. But the thought asserted itself, and persisted, until it produced a vision of his body totally frozen. This was too much, and he made another wild run along the trail. Once he slowed down to a walk, but the thought of the freezing extending itself made him run again. And all the time the dog ran with him, at his heels. When he fell down a second time, it curled its tail over its forefeet and sat in front of him facing him curious- ly eager and intent. The warmth and security of the animal angered him, and he cursed it till it flattened down its ears appeasingly. This time the shivering came more quickly upon the man. He was losing in his battle with the frost. It was creep- ing into his body from all sides. The thought of it drove him on, but he ran no more than a hundred feet, when he staggered and pitched headlong. It was his last panic. When he had recovered his breath and control, he sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity. However, the conception did not come to him in such terms. His idea of it was that he had been making a fool of himself, running around like a chicken with its head cut off—such was the simile that occurred to him. Well, he was bound to freeze anyway, and he might as well take it decently. With this new-found peace of mind came the first glimmerings of drowsiness. A good idea, he thought, to sleep off to death. It was like taking an anaes- thetic. Freezing was not so bad as people thought. There were lots worse ways to die. He pictured the boys finding his body next day. Suddenly he found himself with them, coming along the trail and looking for himself. And, still with them, he came around a turn in the trail and found himself lying in the snow. He did not belong with himself any more, for even then he was out of himself, standing with the boys and looking at himself in the snow. It certainly was cold, was his thought. When he got back to the States he could tell the folks what real cold was. He drifted on from this to a vision of the old-timer on Sulphur Creek. He could see him quite clearly, warm and comfortable, and smoking a pipe. “You were right, old hoss; you were right,” the man mumbled to the old-timer of Sulphur Creek.

Page | 328 Writing the Nation Natur alism (1890-1914)

Then the man drowsed off into what seemed to him the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known. The dog sat facing him and waiting. The brief day drew to a close in a long, slow twilight. There were no signs of a fire to be made, and, besides, never in the dog’s experience had it known a man to sit like that in the snow and make no fire. As the twilight drew on, its eager yearning for the fire mastered it, and with a great lifting and shifting of forefeet, it whined softly, then flattened its ears down in anticipation of being chidden by the man. But the man remained silent. Later, the dog whined loudly. And still later it crept close to the man and caught the scent of death. This made the animal bristle and back away. A little longer it delayed, howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky. Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers.

3.5.2 Reading and Review Questions 1. Pay close attention to the imagery London uses to describe his Yukon setting. Do human beings belong here? 2. In venturing out into the cold with only a dog, what is the man struggling against? 3. As London’s story progresses, he continually invites the reader to contrast the unnamed man with the “proper wolf-dog” that is his companion. What do these comparisons show us about the man, the dog, and their relationships to their environment and each other?


• Charles Darwin • Karl Marx • Émile Zola • Naturalism • Frank Norris • Plot of Decline • Friedrich Nietzsche • Spanish-American War • Jack London • Stephen Crane

Page | 329 Turn of the Twentieth Century and the Growth of Modernism (1893 - 1914) 4Robert R. Bleil, Jordan Cofer, and Doug Davis 4.1 Learning Outcomes After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Analyze the ways in which the Industrial Revolution, western expansion, and significant immigration changed the nature of American literature. • Analyze the ways in which African-American literature develops in this period. • Explore the ways in which the two decades prior to defined American masculinity for much of the twentieth century. • Critique the development of Modernist poetry during this period.

Page | 330 Writing the Nation the Twentieth Century & Pre-Modernism (1893 - 1914)

4.2 Introduction In the twenty-one years between the World’s Columbian (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair) in 1893 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the economic, political, and social landscape changed forever. Unprecedented immigration irrevocably changed both the American landscape and American politics, and the colonial powers of nineteenth-century Europe began to lose their grip on their possessions and territories. American literature of the period reflected these changes. In the United States, the northern and western migration that followed Recon- struction (the period between 1865 and 1877 when the Federal government set the conditions by which the states of the former Confederacy would be readmitted to full participation in the national government) caused such rapid growth in Northern cities that the municipal governments were strained to the breaking point as they rushed to deliver services to millions of residents in thousands of languages. In the West, waves of migration were rapidly filling in the plains and ; this population boom set up a clash of cultures that continues to have repercussions in contemporary politics. In less than twenty years, the United States marked two population milestones: the population of New York City exceeded five million persons for the first time and, in 1915, the total population of the United States topped one hundred million. Many immigrants to the United States in this period were fleeing from the col- lapse of the ancient European monarchies and empires. When Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom died on January 22, 1901, more than half of the persons in the world owed her allegiance; by the outbreak of World War I, a new wave of self-gov- ernance had swept through Europe. The political consequences of this destabiliza- tion continue to be felt throughout the world today. These two decades were also remarkable for American literature. F. Scott Fitz- gerald, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway were born within three years of each other, and they would collectively reshape the American literary landscape in the twentieth century. Literary contributions were not, however, restricted to white males. Although Mark Twain continued to hold court as the most famous author in the country, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Kate Chopin, , and were also making literary and social headlines. Our readings in this chapter may seem at first to be randomly selected. Not one of the authors mentioned in the previous paragraph appears here; in the case of Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway, they had not yet made their mark on literary history. Gillman, Chopin, Wharton, and Cather, although they were writ- ing steadily during this period, had not yet been given appropriate recognition for their literary achievements. Instead, the selections in this chapter speak to two particular aspects of turn-of-the-century American literature: the growth of Afri- can-American literary culture and a mythological fascination with the West. The selections by Booker T. Washington (1901) and W. E. B. Du Bois (1903) both continue the tradition of African-American autobiography begun in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by and , and forge new ground as political and social manifestoes. In these works both authors advo-

Page | 331 Writing the Nation the Twentieth Century & Pre-Modernism (1893 - 1914) cated passionately, in the wake of the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision Plessey v. Ferguson, that the schools and municipal services provided to African-Americans were, in fact, not equal to those provided to the rest of the population. These works are not just autobiography, however: The Souls of Black Folk is often considered one of the earliest works in the field of sociology. The second selection in this chapter, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), defined a and an American ideal. Although Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) is often considered the first Western in American fiction, the plot of The Virginian is a fairly typical romance that is set in the West. In Riders of the Purple Sage, Grey offers readers a new type of character: a rough, independent, in- trospective cowboy with a pragmatically American, and personal, code of conduct. The last selection in this chapter, Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery (1895), demonstrates the development of African-American narrative and autobiography. Unlike Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Washington struck a more conciliatory tone aimed at lifting out of poverty in exchange for lesser political and individual autonomy. In the follow- ing decades, the debates between Du Bois and Washington formed the backdrop for the struggle over African-American art and literature during the Harlem Renaissance. The dawn of the twentieth century witnessed the first significant crisis of American identity since the end of the Civil War, and this time the crisis played out on the world stage. In the decades that followed World War I, the United States would undergo even more dramatic changes, and the most significant literary changes were yet to come.

4.3 Booker T. Washington (1856 - 1915)

Born a slave in Virginia, Booker T. Wash- ington grew up to become the most influential black author and activist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As discussed in his autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), Washington spent his early childhood working as a slave on a plantation. After Emancipa- tion, and while still a boy, he first worked with his stepfather in the coalmines and salt found- ries of and then as a houseboy. At the age of fourteen, Washington left home to attend the Hampton Normal and Agricul- Image 4.1 | Booker T. Washington, 1905 tural Institute in Virginia, a segregated school Photographer | Harris & Ewing for minorities, where he worked as a janitor Source | Wikimedia Commons while learning to be an educator. Washington License | Public Domain distinguished himself at the Hampton Institute, ultimately returning after grad- uation at the invitation of the school’s principal to teach there. In 1881, at the age

Page | 332 Writing the Nation the Twentieth Century & Pre-Modernism (1893 - 1914) of twenty-five, Washington was hired to build and lead the Tuskeegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskeegee University), a new school in Alabama whose mission was to train African Americans for agricultural and industrial la- bor. The school was so poorly funded that Washington and his students famously had to make their own bricks and construct their own school buildings. Through Washington’s inspiring leadership and tireless fundraising, Tuskeegee grew and prospered. In 1895, Washington gave a five-minute speech at the Cotton State and International Exposition that propelled him to the forefront of American politics and culture. American presidents called on him for advice about race re- lations and white business leaders sought him out to coordinate charitable giving to black institutions, earning Washington the moniker “the Moses of his race” in newspapers of the era. Washington wrote almost twenty books in his lifetime, including several autobi- ographies, a of Frederick Douglass, and inspirational self-improvement texts such as Sowing and Reaping (1900) and Character Building (1902). Two chapters from Washington’s biography, Up From Slavery, are included here. In the first chapter, Washington recounts his childhood up until the time of Emanci- pation. In the fourteenth chapter, he reprints his Exposition Address and discusses its startlingly positive reception by a largely white audience that up to that point was fearful of America’s black population. Unlike contemporaries such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Washington did not criticize the Supreme Court’s 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson that the nation’s different races should be treated as “separate but equal.” Instead, he sought to work within the law’s segregationist restrictions. Washington pragmatically wrote his biography to showcase the industry and integrity of all Afri- can Americans rather than to demonize his former owners or celebrate his personal accomplishments. As you read Washington’s two chapters, consider how Washing- ton uses the form of the to give examples not only of the horrors of slavery but also of harmonious and honorable race relations.

4.3.1 Selections from Up From Slavery

CHAPTER I A SLAVE AMOUNG SLAVES I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time. As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a cross-roads post-office called Hale’s Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are of the plantation and the slave quarters—the latter being the part of the plantation where the slaves had their cabins. My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others. I was born in a typical log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. In this cabin I lived

Page | 333 Writing the Nation the Twentieth Century & Pre-Modernism (1893 - 1914) with my mother and a brother and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free. Of my ancestry I know almost nothing. In the slave quarters, and even later, I heard whispered conversations among the coloured people of the tortures which the slaves, including, no doubt, my ancestors on my mother’s side, suffered in the middle passage of the slave ship while being conveyed from Africa to America. I have been uns