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Title: Morning Journey
Author: Hilton, James (1900-1954)
Date of first publication: 1951
Edition used as base for this ebook: Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951 ["An Atlantic Monthly Press Book"]
Date first posted: 1 January 2022
Date last updated: 1 January 2022
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #1677

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Morning Journey

by James Hilton



THE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK ARE FICTITIOUS AND THE SITUATIONS IMAGINARY. THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO PORTRAY ANY ACTUAL PERSONS OR INCIDENTS


Prologue



George Hare (of Hare, Briggs, Burton, and Kurtnitz) met Carey Arundelfor the first time at the annual Critics' Dinner at Verino's. She was toreceive a plaque for the best actress performance of the year, GregWilson was to get the actor's, and Paul Saffron the director's. Thesedinners were rather stuffy affairs, but the awards were worth getting;this year Morning Journey was the picture that had swept the board,all the winners having scored in it. George had seen the picture andthought it good, if a trifle tricky. He was far more concerned with hisluck in being next to Carey at the dinner, for his own well-concealedimportance in the movie world did not always receive such rewards.George had an eye for beauty which, combined with a somewhat cynicalnose for fame, made him take special notice of her. Of course he hadseen her on the stage as well as on the screen, but he thought shelooked best of all in real life--which meant, even more remarkably, thatshe looked really alive at a party such as this, not merely brought tolife by ambition or liquor.

George left her to her other neighbor for a while; he was lazy socially,content often to talk with those who would seek him out, which manypeople did, liking him personally and eager for any titbit of scandalthat might slip from his legally acquired store. He never spilledanything important, but always seemed about to, and nobody realized thathe picked up far more than he let drop. He was so shrewd in businessthat people thought his air of innocence could not possibly be real, butthere was a sense in which it was, and thus he often fooled and foiledhis adversaries. It was this innocence that had made him say, whenintroduced to Carey at the table: "You played in Boston once when I wasat Harvard--I can't remember the play, but I couldn't forget you." Shehad laughed, and somebody who had overheard said later that nobody hadever pinned an age on an actress more securely (though that had not beenGeorge's intention at all). But now, turning to him again more thanhalfway through the meal, she said: "I think it must have been QualityStreet you saw me in, Mr. Hare."

George was surprised she had even caught his name, and this was notmodesty so much as an awareness that in a community where big names area dime a dozen, some of the higher price tags are on the big-nameless.

He said: "That's right, so it was."

"Because I don't believe I ever played in Boston in anything else. Notin those days."

"Not so very long ago," he commented gallantly.

"Twenty years."

He smiled. "What does it feel like to be a well-known actress all thattime and then have people behave out here as if they'd discovered you?"

She laughed. "It's funny."

"I hope you'll tell them that in your speech."

She seemed a little perturbed. "Oh, do I have to make a speech?"

"I'm sure we all hope you will. But it needn't be a long one. Dospeeches make you nervous?"

"Other people's do occasionally." He thought it was just a witticismtill she added: "Paul's especially, Paul Saffron--the director. He canbe so tactless." She went on hastily: "No, I'm not exactly scared tospeak in public, but I find it much harder than acting. Perhaps thatonly means I find it hard to act the part of myself."

"Ethel Barrymore once told me practically the same thing." He proceededto compliment her on Morning Journey, her first picture and such asuccess, and she thanked him with a genuine pleasure that lit her facelike a girl's, but with life rather than mere youthfulness. Georgewondered (as one always must with an actress) whether thetransfigurement was natural or a practised artifice; frankly he couldnot judge, and admiringly he did not care--it was quite remarkableeither way.

"Of course you won't go back to the stage again," he said, andcontinued: "I say that because I hope you will."

"I might."

"But first, I suppose, another picture?"

"No, I've no plans for that. I've no definite plans for anything, exceptperhaps a vacation in Ireland.... By the way, Mr. Hare, you're thelawyer, aren't you?"

"The lawyer? Let's settle for a lawyer."

"I wonder if you could help me."

"Of course. Trouble of some kind?"

He guessed she must have some other lawyer or lawyers somewhere,together with the usual outfit of agents, business managers, taxconsultants, and so on; he knew also how impulsively actors getthemselves into a mess and how capriciously they can turn on those whomthey pay to get them out. Maybe she was in a mood for such a change. Hehimself had tried to winnow down his clientele into those who were hispersonal friends and who, if they did get into trouble, would give himthe pleasure as well as the task of extrication. He wondered if he wouldwant Carey Arundel as such a client, even if she asked him. Possibly.

She was answering his question: "Oh, nothing very important. I justthought of subletting my apartment while I go to Ireland, but the leasesays I can't."

George might well have replied that if the lease said she couldn't, thenvery probably she couldn't; or he might have tactfully conveyed that hewas a busy and expensive lawyer and that any financial advantage ofsubtenancy could easily turn out to be less than his fees if she gotinto any trouble over it. But simply because he continued to like thelook of her, and also the sound of her voice, he said instead: "Be gladto help you. Send--or better still bring--the lease along to my officeand I'll see if anything can be done." The chairman was pounding hisgavel for silence so he hastened to add: "Any time. Tomorrow morning ifyou like."

"Thanks. Tomorrow morning then," she said hurriedly, fixing her face forthe degree of attention that was appropriate in one about to be honored.

The chairman made a very dull speech about the significance of motionpictures in the national life, and during the applause that followedGeorge said: "Are you by any chance going on to the Fulton-Griffins'when this thing is over?"

"Oh, I don't think so. I was asked, but I understand there's such acrowd always there and I hate crowds."

"So do I, but a Fulton-Griffin party is something you ought to see ifyou haven't been to one before. I thought if you were going I'd have achance to talk to you without all these interruptions."

"Oh yes, I'd like that, but I really think I ought to go home. I've beenrather tired since the picture finished and----"

The chairman was introducing the next speaker, a local politician whowould present the awards. He was her neighbor on the other side, so themechanics of it would be simple. But he talked too long, though he waseasier to listen to and told a few mildly amusing stories. Presently heveered his remarks in her direction and announced her as the winner ofthe actress award.

George applauded with more than his usual fervor when she accepted theplaque. Then she made a short but charming speech in which there was nodiscernible trace of nervousness at all. He wondered if it wereconcealed, or whether she had made a habit of telling people about it inadvance and then surprising them. George, however, was not surprised. Hehad seen tricks like that before, and had sometimes practised them incourt with much success. But he admired the total effect of herperformance and was more than sincere in his whispered "Bravo" when shesat down. "You did very well," he commented.

"Did I? Who's next? Is it Greg?"

It was Greg. He was a handsome fellow invariably cast for heroic parts;not a great actor, not even in his own estimation. Sufficient that in afew ill-chosen sentences he could mumble thanks and work off a laboredgag about golf, which was his passion and pastime; any eloquence, eventoo much coherence, would have been almost disconcerting from such asource.

Then the director's award to Paul Saffron. For some reason Saffron wasseated far down the table and had to come forward to a microphone; as hedid so George studied him with curiosity, chiefly because of Carey'sremark that his speeches were apt to make her nervous. George wonderedhow many of them she had been forced to hear. Saffron was certainly apersonality: his face large and jowly, the expression that of a manfacing limitless challenge; there was a certain splendor, though, in thecontour of cheeks and forehead, caprice in the waving wispy hair,something of a Pan-like sparkle in the small blue-gray eyes. Georgewondered if he had drunk too much; a few minutes later he was beginningto wonder what else could be the matter with the man.

For it was, by and large, the most deplorable exhibition George couldremember. Saffron, in a strident staccato that would have been loudenough even without a microphone, began by telling the donors of theaward that he considered their choice a bad one. At first some of theaudience thought this must be a joke, but he glared them down and wenton to state categorically that Morning Journey was the worst picturehe had ever made. "Of course an artist gets used to being praised forall the wrong reasons--he's lucky to be praised at all--and in my owncase I can boast that my best work was never praised, it was nevereven finished--they wouldn't allow me to finish it." (He didn't say who"they" were, but by this time it was abundantly clear that he was notcracking jokes.) "As for Morning Journey, I have this to say, and asan artist I must say it, that the picture you have so extravagantlypraised and undeservedly honored is a product of the gigantic factorythat does for entertainment what Henry Ford has done for automobiles. Acompetent picture--oh yes. A clever picture--perhaps. But a greatpicture?... Oh dear no, let us save that word for some occasion whenit might possibly be needed--even here. Because it has been neededhere--in earlier days. Griffith could have claimed the word--andChaplin--perhaps a few others whose names are less well known, perhaps afew whose names are by now completely forgotten...."

George shared the general discomfort with which all this was received.It was not that he specially disagreed: he had no great opinion ofHollywood and all it stood for; to him it was a place to earn a living,a place also in which he had found friends. A few of Saffron's remarkshe would not have disputed at all--for instance: "This place is full ofcraftsmen who might have been artists if only they'd stayed away." That,in a magazine article, might have been worth saying and quotable; on anoccasion such as this it seemed merely graceless. There was, indeed, anappalling disregard of the feelings of others in the whole spectacle,and George, who considered manners more important than sincerity on manyof the occasions of life, felt as if his mental well-being were beingsandpapered. When, he speculated, does such an irritant make one get upand punch somebody on the nose? Then he chanced to catch Carey's faceand saw in it a disturbance so extreme that his own indignationsharpened. By that time Saffron had abruptly finished; with the plaquein his hand, he had not even said thank you.

There was perhaps as little applause as a speaker could ever receivewithout being actually booed or hissed; the chairman rose and, borethough he was, eased the situation and won a grateful laugh by saying:"I think, Mr. Saffron, we must all feel that you are a better maker ofpictures than a judge of them."

The affair broke up very quickly after that, many showing an embarrassedeagerness to escape. Held in conversation with his other neighbor,George was presently aware that Carey had left the table without a signor a good night. As he mingled with the departing crowd, he caught sightof Randolph, the producer of Morning Journey. Randolph, whom he knewfairly well, was in consternation; all he could mutter was: "What gotinto that guy? Is he crazy? You saw the press taking it all down--theyloved it--I suppose that's what he's after--what else could he beafter?"

George thought it pathetic that Randolph should not even contemplate thepossibility that Saffron, however nastily, had been actuated by a desireto tell what he believed to be the truth. One need not, of course, thinkof such a thing nine times out of ten, but it was foolish to deny thatit could conceivably happen. All of which, however, George wisely keptto himself.

Suddenly voices upraised near the exit revealed the by now unmistakableelement of Saffron's, his high-pitched tenor, involved in an argument."Of course she's an artist," he was shouting. "Not a supreme artist, Igrant you, but----"

"What d'you mean?" someone interrupted. "Are you talking like God, orjust jealous of her success?"

"I'm proud of her success. It was always my ambition----"

"So you take all the credit?"

George was near enough now to recognize the other man as a youngjournalist named Hazelton who wrote movie criticism for one of the localpapers.

"I take much of the credit," Saffron was retorting, "because I know sheneeds someone else to bring out what she has, which is quite enchantingin its own way----"

"Then how can you say she isn't a great artist?"

"Supreme was the word I used."

"All right. Supreme. Maybe she isn't. Maybe she isn't even great.After your speech tonight we know how you feel about the word. But she'sgood--or do you deny that?"

"Of course I don't, but you don't know how good she is. How couldyou? Are you an actor? Have you directed plays? Do you know anythingabout acting and the theater?"

This was so brazen that it had to lead to either a fight or laughter.Hazelton chose to laugh. "I won't argue that, Saffron, except to tellyou I've seen her act when you had nothing to do with it."

"In what, may I ask?"

Hazelton mentioned a Broadway comedy that had enjoyed a long run duringthe later years of the Second World War.

Saffron snorted. "Rubbish."

"But she was good in it."

"No."

"Did you see her?"

"My friend, I had the misfortune to spend that period of my life in aninternment camp in France while you were gadding about to New Yorktheaters----"

Hazelton laughed again. "I happened to be on leave from the Pacific, butlet that pass. The point is--and take my word for it--she was good inthat play."

"And take my word for it she was best of all in Desdemona, before youwere born, and as Candida in the Shaw play, and as Mrs. Vincent in aplay called The Widow in the Forest which was a great hit when youmust have been in knee pants----"

"All of which, Saffron, by sheer coincidence you directed yourself?"

"No coincidence at all. She's always best when I direct her."

"Ah--so now we know. She has to have you."

"Yes. And she knows it. She knows it better than anybody."

Hazelton moved away still laughing and Saffron completed his exit to thecorridor. When he had gone Hazelton spotted George, whom he knew, andwalked over to him. "You heard all that? What a guy! What an evening!Well, it's something to write about, anyhow. The most exciting thing ata show like this since De Mille called the Chinese Ambassador aJap--remember that?"

Randolph said: "I suppose it's no good asking you boys to play it down.A packet of bad publicity for the whole industry...."

Of course it was no use. One might be able to buy a certain amount ofgood publicity spacewise, but the real news nuggets, the mishaps andmisfires of the celebrated, were so precious that no paper could affordto let them go. By that reckoning a table brawl at Ciro's was alwaysmore important than the Nobel Peace Prize.

* * *

George went on to the Fulton-Griffins', where the party was already infull swing and where every new arrival from the Critics' Dinner wasbeing asked what had really happened. George took pleasure in loweringthe temperature. "No," he kept on saying, "there were no blowstraded--nobody got hurt--it wasn't half as exciting as you think.Saffron made a silly speech, that's all."

"But he insulted Miss Arundel, didn't he?"

"No. All he said was that Morning Journey was the worst picture he'dever made, which by implication of course wasn't so very kind to----"

"But didn't he say she was a bad actress and couldn't do a thing withouthim as director?"

"That was afterwards--and anyhow, that wasn't what he said at all. As amatter of fact he defended her--he said she was enchanting----"

But George knew that rumor could never be overtaken by fact. He brokeoff with a shrug: "Ask someone else. I wasn't the only one there."

But he also knew that others who had been asked, or would be before theevening was out, were less trained than he in the reporting of evidence,as well as possibly less ethical. He edged away from the crowd and foundhis usual comfortable corner with a drink which he could make last along time, and with enough people to enjoy talking to among those whowould look for him. He kept thinking of Carey and wondering how soon thetwists and exaggerations of what had happened would get to her ears.Several people he talked to mentioned her sympathetically; during theshort time she had been on the Coast she seemed to have made herselfgenerally liked. Saffron, by contrast, was in the special doghousereserved for those whose unpopularity has somehow not deprived them ofstature. Diagnosis of him veered from the surly genius to thepsychopathic charlatan; anecdotes in proof or disproof were in steadysupply as argument grew livelier. An actor who had had a small part inMorning Journey remembered that Miss Arundel had once quarreledbitterly with Saffron in one of the studio dressing rooms during themaking of the picture.

George acquired for a moment his courtroom air. "You heard this quarrelyourself?"

"One of the prop men told me--seems it was the lunchtime when nobodyelse was around. He said Saffron had a gun and was threatening her withit."

"Why didn't the prop man do something?"

"Aw, why should he get mixed up in what wasn't his business? That's whathe said."

"Even if a man's threatening a woman with a gun?"

"Apparently she wasn't hurt."

"And she didn't complain?"

"I guess not."

"And they both went on with the picture after lunch as if nothing hadhappened?"

"I know--it's hard to believe. But so was tonight hard tobelieve--unless you were there."

"But I was there. And already the whole thing's inflated out of allrelation to the truth."

But again it was no use. George settled down to enjoying himself as aguest at a party; why work for nothing?

Towards midnight someone brought him news which at first he could onlythink was another rumor--that Carey Arundel had actually arrived at theparty. At that stage of the evening, with two or three hundred personsoverflowing from a large house into floodlit gardens, the presence orabsence of any individual was not easy to determine outside the range ofsight, and George recollected that he was probably the only person towhom Carey's intention of not coming to the Fulton-Griffin party hadbeen definitely stated only a few hours before. So he doubted the reportuntil he saw her approaching him.

The first thing he noticed was an almost astonishing radiance about her,as if she had given herself some central glow to match the exteriorlighting of beauty. She had also changed into another dress, much morestartling than the one she had worn at the dinner; it had an austeresimplicity of line that permitted a special drama of color and texture.George would say afterwards "A sort of crimson velvet" and leave it atthat.

"Hello, Mr. Hare," she said smiling.

"Well, Miss Arundel, this is a surprise. You changed your mind?"

"I often do."

"So we can finish our talk. That's good."

"Yes, but let's go outside. The gardens are lovely."

He led her through the French windows on to a terrace that stepped downto the swimming pool where a fair-sized crowd had congregated. He founda side path leading through a grove of eucalyptus trees.

"I felt I had to come," she said, "just to show I don't feel all thethings people are thinking I feel."

"You're very wise," he answered, taking her arm. "What Saffron did say,as opposed to all the talk of what he said, wasn't really against you.Therefore there's nothing for you to be hurt or humiliated about."

"I'm so glad you think that."

"Just stupid of him and in bad taste."

"Oh yes, oh yes, I know it was."

"Rather odd--coming just after you'd told me his speeches sometimes madeyou nervous."

"Yes, wasn't it odd?"

"You must have had a lot of experience of him."

She said quietly: "Well, we were married once."

He could not conceal the measure of his surprise. "You were?"

"Didn't you know?"

"I didn't, and as everybody else here must, it's rather astonishingnobody happened to mention it to me. I suppose they assumed I knew."

"So you've been talking about me to people?"

"A few people have been talking about you to me."

"What do they say?"

"They like you--and they don't like him."

"They don't have to couple us together any more."

"Except that you were in the picture together."

"Yes--for a special reason; but that's a long story--I might tell yousometime if you're interested."

Some men and girls were approaching.

"Maybe tomorrow? Don't forget you have a date at my office. Make iteleven-thirty and I'll take you to lunch."

"Fine." And she added as they walked back towards the house: "He didn'tshow up here tonight, did he?"

"No. I'm sure I'd have known if he had. Did you think he might?"

"He's capable of it. If he'd been here I'd have wanted to leave--Icouldn't stand any more."

"I don't blame you."

"I'm just about at the limit of what I can stand, to be frank.

"You probably need that holiday in Ireland you talked about. But whyIreland?"

"I was born there. Where were you born?"

"Vermont... on a farm."

"So was I. In County Kildare. The greenest fields and my father rode thewildest and most beautiful horses...." She paused as if some secretrecollection had stolen her away; George watched her till she caught hislook. She smiled embarrassedly. "Oh, I guess we all feel that aboutwhere we were born. Vermont is beautiful too."

"Yes, very...." The people who were approaching had voices herecognized; he said hastily: "There's just time for one more questionbefore the mob finds you again... a rather personal question, sodon't be startled.... Did Saffron ever--in a dressing room at thestudio while the picture was being made--did he ever quarrel with youand threaten you with a gun?"

She looked amazed, then laughed. "Good heavens, no. Who on earth madethat one up?"

* * *

They separated inside the house and soon afterwards George left; it wasalready long past his usual bedtime. A few hours later (nine, to beexact) he was telling his secretary he would see Miss Arundel as soon asshe arrived. But she did not arrive, and about noon he found out whereshe lived and telephoned. It was a fashionable apartment hotel and thedesk informed him she was out. He thought she was probably on her way,but after a late lunch alone he was concerned enough to telephoneRandolph at the studio. Randolph said she had not only not been there,but they had been trying for hours to find where she was and why she hadbroken an appointment to see some publicity people. It was not like her,Randolph said, to be either forgetful or unco-operative and already hewas a little worried. "The hotel people were cagey at first about whattime she got home, but finally they said it was about one o'clock."

"Sounds reasonable. I left the Fulton-Griffins' soon after midnight andshe was still there. She had a date to see me at eleven-thirty thismorning."

"I didn't know she was one of your clients."

"She wasn't--till last night."

"Was it important business--or I suppose you can't tell me that?"

George Hare was a highly successful lawyer for a number of reasons, oneof which was that he never kept a secret that didn't matter.

"Of course I'll tell you--she wanted to know if she could sublet herapartment while she takes a vacation in Ireland. Hardly headline news,is it?"

"Talking of headlines, what do you think of the Saffron thing?"

"Been too busy to see the papers yet. Do they make much of it?"

"You bet they do, and in some ways I'm glad they could tie it all intoone story. Sort of takes the edge off what he said when the police foundhim drunk."

"I don't--quite--get you, Randolph. How do the police come into it?"

"You mean you don't know what happened after he left the dinner?"

"I told you I hadn't seen the papers."

"Well, read 'em, they'll give you the details. Not that there's much toit if it hadn't been him, but he was a fool to talk back to the cops.That's probably why they took him along. Of course as a studio we're notinterested--so far as he's concerned we're through. But we don't likehim upsetting her."

"Naturally. And from what she told me last night she's had enough of himto last a lifetime. By the way, how much of a lifetime did it last?Her marriage, I mean?"

"To Saffron? Oh, that was all years ago."

"Did she never marry again?"

"Sure, she's got a husband now--but they're supposed to be separating orseparated. Millionaire banker, broker, something like that. NewYork.... The latest gossip links her with Greg Wilson."

Oh no, George thought in protest--not Greg Wilson. But then he realizedwhat was behind the protest, and being skilled in self-diagnosis, he wasastonished. For already he was aware of something quite unexampled inhis experience. He liked women and had frequently thought he loved them,but never before had he been able to contemplate marriage. Now, quitesuddenly, he was able. Not a desire, of course, just a pleasure inabstract thought. And it was absurd--after an hour or so of acquaintanceand a few scraps of conversation. Yet it did not seem absurd, and thatwas what made it such an astonishment to him. He had not known he wascapable of it.

Randolph was waiting, so he said lightly: "Sounds a little confusing,Randy."

"Did you ever know the life of an actress that wasn't? Not that GregWilson seems to me her type."

"Maybe she doesn't have a type. She isn't one, why should she have one?Well, call me up later if you get more news."

George then sent out for the morning papers and while they were cominghe brushed aside the work on his desk and indulged in a daydream. Hewondered if what she really sought from him was advice on matters moreimportant than subletting an apartment--her marriage problem, maybe?Perhaps she wanted a divorce from the millionaire? George was an expertin getting divorces from (and for) millionaires. It would be exciting tobe able to help her, to show off a little in doing so, to say in thatcalm casual way that had reassured so many clients during their firstprofessional interview: "Sure, we'll get what you want. Not a doubt ofit. Just relax and don't worry...."

The papers then arrived and he found the Saffron affair two-columned onthe front page under the caption: "Abuses Hollywood, Then Cops; NotedDirector Makes Morning Journey to Jail." There was the usual photographthrough prison bars, and the story had been written up in that style ofdeadpan glee which, by long experience, has proved most effective inmaking the fall of the mighty pleasurable to the masses.

Paul Saffron, director of the hit picture Morning Journey, gave Hollywood a straight punch to the jaw in his speech at the Critics' Dinner last night... [Then a technically indisputable but thoroughly tendentious summary of what Saffron had said.] Unfortunately Mr. Saffron was just as mad with the police an hour later when they asked why he had bashed in the fenders of a parked car outside his apartment... [Etc. etc.]

George telephoned a few people who would know and found that the case,though trivial, would make further headlines if only because ofSaffron's emphatic denials and generally truculent behavior in courtthat morning. But as he had admitted a few drinks at the dinner and beenunable to pass a sobriety test, he might just as well have pleadedguilty from the outset. On the whole he was lucky to get off with afifty-dollar fine.

George was working late at the office that evening and about ten o'clockRandolph called him again. "Still missing, George, but a scrap morenews. We finally got the hotel clerk to admit that she went out againabout half an hour after checking in. She'd changed to street clothesand drove off in her car. Now where could she go alone at half-past onein the morning?"

"Ah," said George, beginning to chuckle because of the twinge ofjealousy that made him catch his breath.

Randolph ignored the frivolity. "Well, it so happens we do know whereshe went, because the clerk eavesdropped on a phone call. You'd neverguess."

"I probably wouldn't. Where was it?"

"The Observatory on Mount Wilson. She called up somebody there and askedif she could look at the stars."

"Any proof that she did?"

"Not yet, but someone's on his way there to find out. Have to treadcarefully, we don't want the papers to make another sensation."

After Randolph hung up George telephoned the Observatory. He wouldn'thave been a good lawyer if he hadn't been able to ask a straightquestion without making it seem important. Within five minutes he wastalking to a quiet-spoken man who said he was Professor Lingard andreadily confirmed that Miss Arundel had indeed visited the Observatorythe previous night. "Anything wrong?" asked the Professor.

"Not a thing," answered George. "She just didn't keep an appointment forlunch, but she often does things like that--she's a little haywire abouttimes and places. We just wondered what she was up to during the smallhours, that's all. 'We' is her studio and I'm her lawyer." And helaughed as if the whole thing was just part of some goodhearted fun hewas having.

The Professor did not attempt to share the fun, but he explained withgreat seriousness how it had all come about. He said that about one A.M.Miss Arundel had telephoned to ask if it were a right time for coming upto look at the sky. No, he didn't know her well, he had met her onlyonce before, but they had talked about astronomy and he had invited herto visit the Observatory some suitable night. That night being one ofthe best, he had answered, Sure, come by all means. He himself was atwork with his assistant, as always when weather conditions were thusfavorable. She had reached the Observatory about two-thirty, and he hadbeen slightly surprised that she was alone--she hadn't mentioned anyoneelse, but somehow he had assumed she would have company on the ratherlonely drive to the mountaintop. They had spent perhaps an hour at thebig telescope; she had then said she must go. He and his assistant hadtaken her to her car about a quarter to four.

"Did she say she was going straight home?"

"I imagined she was. We talked about it being sunrise before she'd getthere."

"So she's probably asleep still.... Well, thanks, Professor, it'sbeen very kind of you."

He was just about to hang up when the Professor added, with a blandnessthat George thought remarkable: "I suppose she never arrived home at alland you're looking for her? I'm afraid I can't help you much about that.She was wide awake when she left and certainly able to drive a car. Imyself drove down the mountain about half an hour later and there was nosign of any accident."

"Did you expect one?" George asked sharply.

"There's a dangerous part of the road where several cars have gone overin recent months."

"And you wondered about it enough to follow her and make sure?"

"Yes... for some reason I can't quite explain... I did."

"That's a strange thing."

"It is, isn't it? But she was rather strange too. Behind a surfacecheerfulness I'd have guessed her in acute distress of some kind."

"Look here, Professor, I think we ought to meet personally to talk aboutall this...."

The Professor agreed, but before George could fix an appointment hissecretary had entered with a typewritten message: "Randolph's beentrying to phone you again. He said it's important--about Miss Arundel."

George got rid of the Professor as best he could and then calledRandolph, who said simply: "She's gone off with Saffron. It'll be in themorning papers along with the drunk case. The real topper of toppers.Some paper up the coast just spotted them together in a hotel. Calls itan elopement. I daresay this means we're through with her as well--Idon't know what else we can do. If only these people would realize wedon't give a damn what their morals are provided they don't make troublefor us with 'em.... Personally, I can't understand it. Not onlythrowing away a career but for God's sake, what on earth can she see inSaffron? What on earth did she see? Don't suppose we'll ever get thewhole truth about that."

"Do you ever expect to get the whole truth about anything?" Georgeasked, with all his lawyer's experience. But behind the hard-boilednesshe felt a little sad. He was rather sure he would never meet anotherwoman who would make him--even fleetingly--question the validity of hisbachelorhood. He added: "She must have had an interesting life, Randy.Born in Ireland, she told me--on a farm.... I wonder how she ever..."

But there were so many things he wondered.



Part One


At the convent school just outside Dublin, Carey had nourished ambitionsto be either a nun or an actress; the nuns dissuaded her from theformer, and her mother was equally against the latter. Mrs. Arundel,however, died when Carey was fifteen, and a year later, after a periodof idleness at home, the girl managed to get a small part at the AbbeyTheatre. It was in a bad play that lasted a week, and the sole pressreport that noticed her at all called her "an interesting newcomer." Butwhatever she had or lacked, she was both eager and popular, so thatduring later seasons she was given a number of even smaller parts inother plays. She read all the books she could get hold of about actingand theatercraft, she studied plays and actors and tried to copy theirtricks (some of which, at the Abbey, were among the neatest in theworld), and occasionally she put into her lines a curious quality thatriveted an audience's attention in the wrong place and made the directorwrinkle his forehead in dismay.

She was a small girl, delicately featured, with a generous expressivemouth that twisted a little when she smiled, as if (a doctor admireronce said) she had once had a very slight attack of Bell's palsy and hadonly 99 per cent recovered. Dark hair and gray-blue eyes added to atotal that might have taken no first prize in a beauty contest, yetmight well have drawn more glances than the winner. Her figure, slow todevelop, was still boyish at a time when her voice had already acquireda richness rare even in a mature woman; it was the most striking thingabout her, this voice--low-pitched, never shrill, yet capable ofcatching the random ear as color catches the eye. (Much later, a criticsaid: "Whenever she speaks, her voice gives a command performance," but"command" was not quite the word for a compulsion yielded to so happily.And another critic said, also much later: "She has a quality ofwomanhood so ample, and in a peculiar way so purposeless, that thenerves of the critic unclench and even his judgment is off guard; forthis reason she can often be overpraised, but never under-enjoyed.") Atschool she had been a bright, gay, normal pupil, cleverer than theaverage, but no bluestocking. She liked horses, games, picnics. A ribaldsense of humor had sometimes got her into scrapes, but never seriously;she had many friends and no enemies, and when she recited Portia'sspeech at the school's annual concert the nuns applauded affectionately,not thinking she was specially good (and she wasn't), but beguiled byher voice into a vision they found vicariously satisfying--that ofwifehood and motherhood in the well-tempered Catholic life.

Those years culminated in the period of the Sinn Fein "troubles"; by thetime she made her first stage appearance the treaty with England hadbeen signed and the Free State, precariously born, was already fightingfor its life against the Republican Army. At the height of thefratricide Rory O'Connor and his men were shelled in the Four Courts(within a few streets of the Abbey Theatre), and many a night the cityechoed to sporadic rooftop shooting. One of the lively areas was theneighborhood of the Portobello Bridge, which lay on a direct routebetween the theater and the southern suburb of Terenure, where Careylived with her stepfather. Several times, along with other passengers,she flattened herself on the floor of a tram as it crossed the bridgeduring a fusillade, and whenever she could arrange it she drove homewith an actress friend named Ursula, who had a very ancient car; theycould then make long detours through safer districts. Sometimes also ifthere were shooting near the theater she would spend the night withanother friend named Mona who lived in an apartment approachable by asheltered route from the stage door itself. Since the Terenure house hadno telephone, her stepfather could not be notified, but she had alwaysurged him not to worry or stay up for her return.

Often, though, when she got home late at night she found him still hardat work in the room which he called his study. He was learning Gaelic asan apt expression of his enthusiasm for the new Ireland, and perhaps asan aid to promotion in his job--he was an official in the Tax Departmentof the Dublin City Corporation. "How was it out tonight?" he would ask,as about the weather.

"Ursula heard there was something going on in Rathmines, so we drovearound by Donnybrook. It wasn't so bad that way."

"Ah, I thought I heard something--I wouldn't have been surprised ifyou'd stayed all night with Mona again.... Rathmines, eh? Well, well,that's getting pretty close." His casualness was part of an Englishmanner that many years in Ireland had not effaced and which, combinedwith short stature and a strutting walk, gave him an appearance which toIrish eyes was sometimes a little ridiculous. But he was a kindly man."You know, Carey, you can always give it up if the journeys make younervous."

"Oh, but I love the work--I wouldn't know what to do with my life if Ididn't have it to think about."

"Well, well, so long as it doesn't get you down. These are certainlygreat days in the history of our country. And of course there's not muchreal danger--to you girls, I mean."

"Oh no." Which was true--statistically. "It's fun, in a way."

But this was not quite so true, for after the strain of a theaterperformance all one wanted to do was to go home quickly and get to bed;the effort to find a quiet route and the perhaps ten-thousand-to-onechance of stopping a stray bullet added no pleasurable thrills. "Atleast I'm getting to know much more about Dublin, finding all thesedifferent ways home." It was a cheerful way to look at it, and thecolorful topography of Dublin and suburbs--such names as Crumlin,Dolphin's Barn, Harold's Cross, Beggarsbush, Drumnagh,Rathfarnham--became the symbols of her almost nightly ordeals.

One rainy morning about two o'clock, as she and Ursula detoured throughBallsbridge, a man, hatless and trench-coated and pointing a gun,stepped into the dark street in front of the car. When Ursula brakedhard, he jumped into the back seat and gave curt orders. "Drive throughPalmerston Park and towards Dundrum. Not too fast but don't slow down.Keep in the middle of the road. I'll tell you when to stop. And for yourown sakes, no tricks."

Ursula, panicked into silence, concentrated on the driving, but Careywas panicked into just the opposite. She began chattering and gigglingfor a reason she could not at first discover, but soon her nervespropelled her more and more surely into a pattern of behavior; she feltthe kind of unspeakable terror she sometimes felt on the stage, butwhich she could always with an effort control, and which sometimesseemed to help rather than hinder her performance; and this too, shedecided, must be a performance. So she fell into a rather broad andbawdy impersonation of a girl who had had too many drinks and was notparticularly distressed at being kidnaped in the middle of the night bya forceful and handsome male. The man made no response. After a fewmiles there was a stretch of lonely country, and here he gave the orderto stop; he then changed places with Ursula and took the wheel. Carey,sitting now beside him, kept her eyes on his stern profile and prayedthat somehow, during the short interval of the drive to wherever theywere bound for, she could talk herself and Ursula out of being raped, oreven into being raped as a substitute for being murdered; maybe if sheplayed up to him with all she had she could win him over. So she played.Actually the man was an exceptionally high-minded member of theRepublican Army, burning with political zeal and puritanical to thepoint of primness. He had never even had a woman, much less raped one,and his only murders had been cold-blooded ones of men; on this occasionall he wanted was the car. Amidst empty moorland, where the climb begantowards the Sally Gap, he brusquely ordered the two girls into the road,gave them a receipt for the commandeered vehicle (correct IRAprocedure), and drove off with scarcely concealed contempt for a coupleof prostitutes.

Carey, indeed, had proved herself an effective actress, but her judgmenthad not been shrewd in her choice of the play. It was a combination thatwas to happen again in her life. The more immediate result, however, wasa near collapse from the strain of the whole incident, for the two girlshad to walk miles in the rain before they were picked up; they bothcaught bad chills. Furthermore, the theft of the car meant that fromthen on the problem of getting home from the theater would be much moreburdensome. "It's Ursula I'm really sorry for," Carey told herstepfather. "The car wasn't insured and she hadn't finished paying forit."

"She should keep the receipt," he answered judicially. "A trulyindependent Ireland has a responsibility in all such cases--I'm sureeventually it will realize that."

During her next non-acting spell Carey visited her great-uncle inKingstown. He had been her childhood hero, and as he lived in a districtwhere there had never been any "trouble," she could expect to relax moreeasily than at home. Captain Halloran (retired from the British Navyafter a somewhat eccentric career) lived in a hillside house overlookingthe harbor; he was seventy odd, keen-eyed, loganberry-red incountenance, with endearing qualities; he liked youngsters and animals,gave generously to the undeserving, and was a cheerful loser atLeopardstown races. Comfortably off, he kept a couple of horses which hegalloped over the local countryside, or else hitched to a variety oftwo-wheeled vehicles that might well have been in a museum. Carey wasdriving one of these things on an August afternoon when she met PaulSaffron.

* * *

Paul was then twenty-nine, attractive in a slightly mannered way thatsometimes suggested the feminine but never the effeminate; a littleplump, with wavy black hair, intense blue-gray eyes, and a long strongnose, he was striking enough to be noticed in a crowd, and much more soon a quiet Irish road. Carey stared at him from some way off, and withgrowing apprehension, for he was hatless and wore a raincoat whosepockets bulged.

In truth the bulge on one side was from cigars, the other was from arather conspicuous copy of the New York Times. The reason for this wasthat he wanted to be taken for an American before anyone could shoothim, and the reason he thought such a thing possible was that, being thekind of journalist as well as the kind of person he was, he thoughtanything possible. He had, in fact, just lately stepped down the gangwayonto Irish soil with an almost conditioned reflex of naïveté, for heknew his job was to write something about Ireland that would be readableby those who were not really interested in Ireland at all. Somewhat tohis carefully nurtured surprise there had been no ambush on the pier asthe boat from Holyhead put in, so he had ignored the waiting train toDublin and strolled inland through the first Irish streets he came to.It was often his luck to find things to write about thus casually--a dogor a child or a shop window or anything that met his eye. (One of hismost successful pieces had been about a cat playing with a skein of woolin the ruins of an earthquake.) This time it was a girl, a girl drivinga horse and some sort of a buggy along the road towards him, and hefirst noticed her because she was sitting on one leg in a way thatlooked uncomfortable. Now why? Or was it uncomfortable? Good enoughfor a start... Then he glanced at her face, which did not seem to himbeautiful so much as appealing and piquant; it had a look that somehowcomplemented the question mark of the posture. Maybe a talk with such achance-met native would save him the effort of walking further, for hedisliked walking; so he stepped to the middle of the road in front ofthe cantering horse.

"Well?" she said, before he could speak a word, and he caught then aquality in her voice that stirred him far more than anything in herlooks. He did not guess that it was fear, and that she had not yetnoticed his Times.

"Can you tell me where this road leads to?" he asked.

"Just up in the hills."

"Ah, then I've lost my way. Are you driving into town? Could you give mea lift back?"

"Sure. Jump up."

She had been too scared not to invite him, and he took her readiness foraffability. This made him pleased with her, for he liked people to likehim, and when he thought they specially did so he paid them the supremecompliment of talking about himself. He did this then, as theyclop-clopped through the peaceful downhill streets; he told her who hewas, of his recent arrival in Ireland, his mission to report on thatdisturbed country for an American magazine, his real ambition which wasquite different, and the extreme likelihood that he would one day befamous. He talked to her, indeed, as he could always do to anyone(whether celebrity or bell hop) when he felt in the mood or thought itworth while--as if he had known and would continue to know them all hislife, and as if neither his nor theirs could possibly have been completebefore the meeting. It was a technique that had won him both friends andenemies, and would have perhaps worked out all right on balance if hehad ever felt a need to discover who were which.

Carey, on her part, was warming to the relief of finding him not anothergunman, and the warmth put her at odds with herself for having been somistaken. She listened to his chatter in a daze, unwilling to try hervoice lest there might still be too much tremor in it. By the time theyreached the center of the town she had said scarcely a word, and wasalready chagrined to find him so content with her silence. The looks shegave him were increasingly quizzical. "Well, here we are," she said atlength, pulling up at a corner.

"Already? This is as far as you go? Well, thanks. Very good of you. CanI get a streetcar from here into Dublin?"

Streetcar? "Oh yes, of course. They stop over there." She pointed.

"Much obliged for the lift," he said, climbing down with caution. Shenoticed he was not very agile. "It's a hot day," he added, mopping hisforehead. "How about having a cup of tea somewhere?"

"And what would I do with the horse?" She half-smiled, not so much tohim as to herself about him. Maybe he thought a two-year-old would waitat the curb like a car--a city fellow, evidently (she was wrong aboutthat, for he came from Iowa, but she was basically right, since he hadalways been peculiarly inept at country ways). Paul Saffron. He had toldher his name but had shown no curiosity about hers, and that too hadrankled, giving her a sudden defensive pride in being Irish, and in theduality of Irish life that made nobody either countrified or citified toan absurd extent.

He was still mopping his forehead. "I wonder, then, is there a place Icould get some ice-cold beer?"

"Ice in Dunleary in the month of August?" She shook her head at a ruefulangle.... Paul Saffron. "And besides, the pubs aren't open yet."

"I see. Like the English. I thought you were free of them now."

"Sure, but they had us so long we learned all their bad habits."

He grinned. (More for his article. Irish counterpart of the New Yorktaxi driver--never at a loss for an answer.) "You said some name justthen that I didn't quite catch?"

"Dunleary? It's the new name for Kingstown. Or rather the old namebefore our oppressors changed it. So we changed it back. It's spelledDun Laoghaire.... And Dublin is Baile Atha Cliath."

"Tell me that again. How must I say it?"

"Better not say it at all, or nobody'll know what you're talking about.It's a craze they have these days for turning everything into Gaelic.Dublin's still good enough for most people." She gave "Dublin" this timethe caressing, almost Brooklynese vowels of the patois.

He looked as if the whole subject of place names and pronunciations wereinfinitely beyond his comprehension, for he had heard again thatpeculiar note in her voice that set him listening without taking in thewords. It made him, from the sidewalk, give her a slow upward scrutinyand then put the question that had been in his mind from the first."What's the matter with your leg?" For she was still sitting on it.

"'Tis broke," she answered.

Her voice was so much in his ears that he didn't immediately show thathe caught the joke; and this, it seemed, was an extra joke at hisexpense, for after a few full seconds of relish she drove off laughing.

* * *

When she got back to the house on the hill, she could not stop thinkingabout the American, for he had told her, amongst so much else, thatthough his current task was journalism, he had directed plays in NewYork and the real love of his life was the theater. Which would havebeen a natural cue for her to tell him about herself, but she had failedto do so, partly because she was still recovering from the initial shockof the meeting, but chiefly because his complete absorption in his ownaffairs had teased her to a more and more deliberate concealment ofhers. She would not disclose anything that would interest him so much.Or would it? As soon as the doubt prevailed she wished she had told him.Fortunately it would be easy to let him know, since there were onlythree Dublin hotels at which he would be likely to stay.

Neither could Paul, on the tram, stop thinking of her, and for a reasonthat flattered them both; he had already diagnosed what he called ahistrionic personality. Not of course that it was specially rare; manytypes in all walks of life were apt to be so equipped (auctioneers,athletes, and the clergy, for instance); besides which, one often metthe unlikeliest people who made their personal or professional world astage and their own lives a continuous play. To be an actor, a realactor, much more was needed than any kind of personality; nevertheless,to have the right kind was a good start.

By midnight of that August evening he was already blaming himself forthe incredible stupidity of not having inquired even the girl'sname--how on earth could he trace her, even if he should want to? For itmight well become a whim to do so, as casual as her own voice answeringhim about her leg. "'Tis broke." It was the way he would have liked herto say it if it had been a line in a play.

By that same late evening Carey was writing three identical notesaddressed to Mr. Paul Saffron at the Gresham, the Shelbourne, and theHibernian hotels. She wrote that since he had stressed so much hisinterest in the theater, doubtless he would like to visit the famous onein Dublin, so she would leave a couple of tickets for next week'sopening night for him to pick up at the box-office in Middle AbbeyStreet. She signed herself "Carey Arundel," but she still left it to himto discover, if and when he cared to, what she was.

* * *

He was not, as it happened, staying at any of the three hotels, but at aprivate house called Venton League, the home of a rich brewer whom hehad met at a party in London, and who had promptly extended theinvitation on learning of his Irish visit. Brewing, one of the morehistoric trades, has almost escaped the stigma of being a trade at all,and its distinguished dynasties rank high and are considerablyinternational; Michael Rowden, in his late fifties, was a fine fleurof the culture, a Rothschild of his line, with family connections wellscattered across England, Europe, and America, and financialinterlockings from Milwaukee to Dortmund. Had he been a younger son hemight have made an excellent diplomat, bishop, or even cardinal (for hewas both a Catholic and a bachelor); as it was, he sold beer (with aninverted snobbery that made him thus describe his business), drank wine,collected French Impressionist paintings, and found ample time tocultivate the habits of a gentleman-savant. Temperament and wealthinsulated him from most of the troubles of life, even from the Irish"troubles," for neither side wished to drive into exile a man soeminently taxable. The hotheads had once put Venton League on their listof large houses to be burned, but Rowden had let it be known that hedidn't much care; its destruction would spare him the eventual problemof whether to demolish it for villa development or bequeath it to HolyChurch for some institutional use. And there really was a sense in whichhe did not care; he would be quite happy, if he had to be, in London orPalm Beach or Capri. Yet Venton League did, for all that, give him aspecial sort of satisfaction; it was the house of his ancestors, as farback as four generations, and family pride well-tempered with cynicismabout it was strong in him. Moreover, since this was Dublin and not anyother place in the world, there was a uniqueness in the kind of life hecould live there--an eighteenth-century quality marvelously andmiraculously preserved into the fabric of the twentieth. Leisurelyelegance, half urban and half arcadian, part scholarly, part merelysophisticated, gave a ripeness even to anachronism; the kitchens weremonstrous and old-fashioned, yet the bathrooms combined the luxuries ofancient Rome and modern America; the library windows offered a view offormal gardens backgrounded by green mountains, yet at the end of thehalf-mile carriage drive, and just outside the lodge gates, thethreepenny tram started for the Pillar in O'Connell Street. All thissuited him and immensely intrigued his constant succession of houseguests. For as a suave Maecenas to young men of promise he performed afunction all the more admirable because he took so much pleasure in it;at Venton League there was always apt to be some visiting painter,writer, musician, or even tennis champion, and the language at dinnerwas almost as often French or Italian as English. Rowden had not neededmuch acquaintance with Paul at that London party to decide that he wouldmake an apt recruit, both culturally and racially, to the Venton Leagueménage--a young American with literary and theatrical connections...good... he could stay as long as he liked.

Paul, compared with all this, was brash; he had met Americanmillionaires, and even American millionaire brewers, but they had notbeen in the least like Rowden. To that extent he was secretly baffled,but he gave Rowden the usual treatment of brilliant talk and affableself-display, hopeful though by no means sure that the man was beingimpressed. One evening wine unleashed his tongue to such vainglory thatRowden smiled and put his hand under the youth's arm as they walked intothe library for coffee and cognac; Paul by that time was in the midst ofa survey of all the grandiose theatrical ideas that had ever effervescedin his mind, one of which he had just thought of suddenly at the diningtable and which lifted him to a peak of excitement the more he enlargedupon it--Othello with an all-Negro cast, except for Othello himself,who should be white. Into a rare and breathless silence Rowden thenmanaged to interject: "My dear young man, I admire your enthusiasms andI think it quite possible you are almost as wonderful as you say. Buttell me... how are you going to live in this world?"

"Live?"

"Yes. Make a living."

"You mean money? Oh, I manage. I pick up a bit from journalism, and thenI have a traveling fellowship--rather a juicy one--it's supposed toenable me to do 'creative writing,' whatever that means; but there's noproblem, because if the worst comes to the worst I'll bundle some of myarticles together and call 'em creative--who the hell can swear theyaren't?"

"You, of course, know that they aren't."

"Oh, sure. I'm not really a writer. I've got creativeness in me, butit's not that kind.... But don't worry--I'll get by. The fellowship'sa racket, but it helps me around--they might even renew it for anotheryear. And sometimes I meet rich people who save me hotel bills."

Rowden was at first antagonized by what he took to be boorishness; butthen, beneath it, he caught other notes--frustration, ambition, coolself-criticism, and a sort of celestial you-be-damnedness. On the wholehe was beginning to like Paul very much indeed.

Paul added, with a grin: "I'm only kidding. If you think I'd stay herejust for that you don't know me. I'm really grateful to you. But itisn't all on one side, is it? I'd have been worth my keep in the olddays when artists had patrons. Then you could have built a theater forme and I'd have made you famous."

"Quite a proposition."

"I'm still kidding. You must think I have a nerve."

"I do." Rowden smiled and continued: "Do you write as you talk?"

"God, no. I wouldn't sell much if I did. I'm a sort of actor in print.I've created a fictional character that I call Myself, so I never writewhat I think, but what I think this character would think. Thenovelist does that all the time, but he does it honestly--he labels itfiction, but I pretend I really am the slightly ridiculous fellow I'veinvented."

Rowden eyed him critically, as if wondering how much of all this tosuspect or discount. "Isn't it rather confusing at times?"

"Sure, though of course it's nothing new--the public always tend toidentify an actor with his part."

"Not the educated public?"

"Yes, to some extent. Or else why would the man who plays Jesus in theOberammergau Passion Play have to quit smoking and drinking?"

"I didn't know that he did. Tell me, how did you launch yourself intothis rather strange journalistic career?"

"Ah, that's a story in itself."

He told it, but he didn't tell the whole truth about it, which was asfollows. He had been in England just after the 1918 Armistice, awaitingthe voyage home and demobilization. His war service had comprised a yearin an Army office in London. The reason he had not been sent to fightwas a pituitary condition which made him put on weight with alarmingease; without proper dieting or treatment, he was at that time in dangerof becoming almost comically fat. (Back home as a civilian, a yearlater, he took medical advice, lost most of the excess poundage, andmanaged after that to remain merely stoutish.) It happened that duringthe early days of 1919 Mr. Lloyd George was to leave for the opening ofthe Peace Conference in Paris, and reporters were badgering him in vainfor a scoop. In such circumstances one would have thought it sheerlyridiculous for Paul to seek an interview with the great man for anAmerican small-town paper; and so it was, yet he succeeded. He simplysent a letter on United States Army notepaper and enclosed a photograph."You will see from this," he wrote, "the sort of fellow I am--Icertainly carry a lot of weight around here, but it isn't the kind thathelps. In fact, Mr. Lloyd George, I'm just a Yank without rank who'd beproud indeed to shake hands with you before I go home to Reedsville,Iowa." Perhaps the P.M. was seduced, or amused, or merely obliging; itis even possible that he practised the same mixture of innocence andguile, for he had never been unmindful of the value of Americanpublicity. At any rate, Private Paul Saffron was invited to call atNumber Ten Downing Street at four-thirty one January afternoon. Ofcourse there was no political scoop, they didn't talk about politics orthe war at all, but they did discuss America, England, Wales, tea,coffee, the beauties of nature, and choral singing; moreover Paul, whohad a rather pleasing bel canto tenor, was able to demonstrate that alament of the Seminole Indians was remarkably similar to a hymn tunepopular among the slate miners of Blenau Festiniog. Amidst theseamenities half an hour passed, and then an hour, whereupon Mrs. LloydGeorge joined them and Paul had to sing again. It was all veryneighborly, more like Iowa than London's West End--which, of course, wasexactly the point that Paul made in the two-column piece he wrote. Andthe whole article, which was picked up by some of the big newspapersafter its debut in the Reedsville Clarion, proved something elsetoo--that America was much more interested in a number of other thingsthan in war and politics.

After this flash-in-the-pan success, Paul felt he had it in him to earna living from journalism if he had to, though he hoped he wouldn't, forhis passionate leanings had already centered themselves elsewhere. Butan editor named Merryweather had become interested in him and was shrewdenough to realize that while magazines and newspapers were full of stuffemanating from informed sources, the uninformed source, the fall guywho steps in where experts fear to tread, could be equally readable in asmall corner of his own. (Later the technique was developed into one ofthe humaner and more profitable arts by Will Rogers and later still byErnie Pyle.) It was the pose of having no pose--the trick of telling thepublic, in reporting a war, how scared one was, or of an internationalconference, how bored.

"I'm the Little Man," Paul said, gulping Rowden's brandy to give himselfthe right feeling about it. "I'm the world's hero because I'm not ahero--I'm Constant Reader, Pro Bono Publico, Worried Taxpayer, AverageCitizen--I write as if writing's easy, unprofessional, no particulartalent required, just a few pipes of tobacco and a sort of cute way oflooking at things.... I'm low-brow and I'm human--my God, how human Iam--when I did a piece about my dog's birthday I got over five hundredletters and a truckload of dog food from readers.... Did that everhappen to Shakespeare?... And I haven't got a dog, I don't smoke apipe, and I think I'd loathe the fellow I pretend to be if ever I methim. One of these days, when I've made a big hit with a play, I'm goingto lose all my public in one grand gesture--I shall confess that all thetime I've been secretly enjoying Beethoven quartets.... Only I'mafraid the editor wouldn't publish it, he wouldn't let me destroy myhumble little Frankenstein, God's wide-eyed Mite, always on the watchfor the Funny Side of Things, bless his tiny guts.... And finding ittoo. My first article on Ireland--you'd never guess how I'll startit--nothing about the Free State, or Cosgrave, or the shooting--leavethat to the regular writers--I'll do a piece about a girl--I met herjust after I came ashore at Kingstown, Dunleary, whatever you call theplace--I took a walk in the town and saw this girl driving a horse andbuggy and she was sitting with one leg bent under her... the oddestthing... like this...." He got up from the chair and reseatedhimself with his own leg clumsily imitating the posture. He was aware bythen that he had drunk too much.

Rowden said: "Charming, I'm sure. Some more brandy? No?... But comingback to the stage... of course you know about our own Abbey Theatre?Maybe we should go one evening while you're here...."

* * *

They went to the Abbey to see a new play called Moon of the Galtees,by a new Irish writer whom some of the critics had praised. It wastypical of Rowden that he did not choose the opening night, that hebought seats in the third row, and that he took Paul to the city bytram. The chauffeur and Rolls-Royce would pick them up afterwards.

Paul was naturally astonished when he recognized Carey on the stage, asof course he did immediately, despite her part as a rather minorleprechaun. (It was that kind of play.) His desire to see her againrevived and expanded, during the first act, into all kinds of agreeableexpectations. At the interval he told Rowden excitedly that here was anamazing coincidence, that leprechaun was actually the girl at Kingstown,the one he intended to write about! Perhaps they could go backstageafter the show? But Rowden, at first vaguely assenting, then demurred."I'm afraid it'll be rather hot and noisy--if you'd like to meet BarryFitzgerald and Arthur Shields I can have them to dinner at the housesome evening. I know them fairly well. Yes, that's quite an idea. Yeats,too--you must meet him--he's usually here, but I don't see himtonight. And perhaps Lennox Robinson and Dr. Starkie and A.E.... Wehave a genuine intelligentsia--just the people you'll enjoy meeting."

"But I'd like to see that girl."

"The little girl?"

"Sure. The leprechaun. After meeting her the way I did it would beamusing----"

"I'd preserve my illusions if I were you. The article might work outbetter."

"I wasn't thinking of the article."

"You like her acting then?"

"Hell, no." He added hastily: "I mean, she's not good for the part, thepart's not good, she seems to be untrained, or else badly trained, orsomething."

Rowden smiled. "It would be hard to make conversation then. Why don'tyou write your little friend a note? And I'll try to fix our party fornext Sunday--that's always a good day."

So they didn't go backstage, but Paul left a scribbled message fordelivery to her after the show, and the next day he sent flowers. Hewasn't the kind of person who sent flowers to girls and he was rathersurprised at himself for thinking of it.

She wrote back: "Thank you for the roses. I love roses, and everybodywondered who they were from. I didn't see you in the audience, but I'dhalf expected you on opening night, because I'd left tickets for you atthe box-office. I'd written to you about that at three hotels, I neverthought you'd be staying anywhere else. All this sounds complicated,I'll explain when we meet. You don't say if you liked the play. Tomorrowwill do fine--say two-thirty at the Pillar."

The Pillar was the Nelson Pillar, stuck squarely and squatly astride thegreat width of O'Connell Street. Buildings on both sides had beendestroyed in the 'sixteen rebellion, but the Pillar had escaped exceptfor bullet nicks; it dominated the scene, providing a terminal point fortram routes and a lofty monument to an Englishman whose public andprivate life made his memory a constantly delightful anachronism in thestreets of Dublin. So Rowden had remarked to Paul, and it proved a goodway to start a conversation when he met the girl, for he wasunaccountably nervous at first. He had been late at the rendezvous owingto delay in getting away from Venton League after lunch, for he had nottold Rowden he was going to meet the girl. He had even wondered if shewould wait when he did not arrive; the first thing he must do was toapologize. But he forgot all about that when he saw her, and as she didnot mention it, the fact that she had been standing for half an houramidst the scurrying crowd vanished for both of them as if it had neverexisted. She wore a blue dress and the kind of pert cloche hat that wasin style in those days and happened to suit her; she came towards himsmiling, having seen him first, a few anxious seconds first, for afterleaving a taxi to cross the road he had nearly been run down by a tramwhose driver gave him some picturesque language in passing. "I keepforgetting you keep to the left in this country," were his firstbreathless words of greeting.

"I know, I saw it," she said. "But there's terrible traffic here all thetime. The Pillar gets in the way of everything."

Which led him to repeat Rowden's remark about it, and she too found thesubject helpful to begin with; she told him how the City Corporation hadconsidered moving the Pillar (as a traffic hazard, so as to dodge thepolitical issue), but so far nothing had been done because it would costtoo much.

"At least they could change the statue on the top," Paul said. "Why notsome Irish hero?"

"Och, there mightn't be time. Before we could hoist him up there,somebody would have shot him as a traitor and half the country wouldn'tthink him a hero at all. That's what happened to Michael Collins."

"That's almost what happened to Lincoln."

"It's a curse on all of us then. The English don't do things like that."

"They do as bad." He laughed. "Come now, don't say you're on theirside."

"My stepfather's English. I wish there weren't any sides."

"Ah, then that accounts for it. He's the one that keeps youbroadminded."

"Not him--he's more Irish than some of the Irish. Spells his nameS-e-a-n instead of James and it's pronounced 'Shawn.'"

"Then I give up. This is a strange country."

"You can't give up if you've got to write about us."

"I shan't touch on politics much."

"No?... Perhaps that's sensible. But don't romanticize, whatever youdo--none of the Killarney-blarney, broth of a boy, top o' the marnin' toye--that's the stuff we can't stand."

When he reflected that this was the kind of article Merryweather wouldprobably like, he almost blushed. "Maybe you'd rather be laughed at? Icould do an amusing piece about those Gaelic changes you talked about."

"Why not, then? It's a good subject. The ancient tongue of Ireland thatnobody speaks any more except a handful of peasants in the far west, sothere have to be a handful of professors in Dublin to decide what theancient Irish would have called a telephone if they'd ever seen one."

"If I wrote that way it would seem like an attack."

"And why not? 'Tis time someone attacked us in fun instead ofseriously." She showed him the book under her arm. It was MartinChuzzlewit, a library copy. "I've just been reading this. Dickenscertainly didn't spare the Americans. And it wasn't all fun either."

"D'you know, I've never read Chuzzlewit."

"Why don't you? I'll lend you this--I've finished it."

"Thanks."

"It'll probably make you angry."

"I'll bet it won't. My family hadn't come to America when it waswritten, so why would I feel insulted? I'll tell you what I think whenI've read it."

They went on talking, as vagrantly as that, while they skirted the quayspast the burned-out Four Courts and entered Phoenix Park. It was windyon the upland there, with fast scudding clouds and a hint of rain. Theview of mountains reminded him of a backdrop, gray-blue shapes as if cutin cardboard. He told her this, and it gave her the cue to remark thathe still hadn't said how he liked the play.

"Oh, that? Well, it wasn't bad. In some ways it wasn't bad enough. Youknow when a play is really bad, anything good in it shows like a sort ofoutcropping. Take Twelfth Night----"

He wondered if the notion that a Shakespeare play could be called badwould shock her, and he had used the example chiefly to find out. Butshe seemed unconcerned. Or perhaps she had read Shaw. Or more likelystill, her mind was anchored to the main issue, for she went on: "So youdidn't like Moon of the Galtees? Och, nor did anybody. They're takingit off.... And I don't suppose you liked me in it either."

"It wasn't much of a part for you, was it?"

She grimaced. "As good as I generally get. I try to believe it's becausethey think I'm too young."

"How old are you?"

"Seventeen. Nearly eighteen."

"I'd have guessed you nearer twenty."

"I feel like twenty. And I dress to look older, but none of it seemsto work. There's a fourteen-year-old part in a new play they'reconsidering--I'll bet they offer it to me."

"Juliet was fourteen."

"Ah, now, if only I could have a chance like that!"

"Would you take it?"

"Who wouldn't? Or is it absurd of me to be so ambitious? Maybe I shouldstick to leprechauns?"

"Leprechauns or Juliet--it's all acting."

"I know. And you haven't yet told me how--if--you liked my acting."

"You really want me to?"

"Sure. I can bear it."

He said judicially after a pause: "I don't think you know how to act,but I think you have something--I don't quite know what--but it'ssomething you'd be lucky to have as well, even if you did know how toact."

"All I have to do, then, is to learn?"

"Yes. And unlearn."

"Ah, I see."

The inflection he caught in her voice made him continue quickly:"Remember, that's only my opinion." The words didn't sound like his, andhe wondered how far the impulse to speak them could be identified ashumility, truculence, or a simple desire to spare her feelings.

"It's what I asked for. Thank you."

"Yes, but--but----"

"But what?"

"Well, what I mean is, don't let anybody's opinion worry you. Becauseworrying wouldn't help. And unless the person who criticizes hassomething constructive to say----" He checked himself, aware of immensepitfalls.

She said musingly after a pause: "I expect you're right--that I'veeverything to learn and unlearn."

"I didn't say everything. You weren't at a dramatic school?"

"No. Is that what I need?"

"On the contrary, I rather thought you had been to some school." Helaughed. "They teach a lot of the wrong things."

"Ah now, Mr. Saffron, am I as bad as that?"

"My name's Paul, by the way. I wish you'd call me Paul."

"All right. Paul. And I don't know how to act, according to you. Maybeyou think you could teach me?"

"Heavens, no. I'm not a teacher. I can't act myself--I haven't thevaguest idea how it's done." Again he knew that this was anattitude-cliché, with just enough truth in it for guile. "All I do--allI hope to do--is to... if I had to put it into a sentence... to...to communicate a sort of excitement." Well, that was true--fairlytrue, anyhow. "If you challenge me to say I could do that with you, thenI'll say it--I'd try to, anyhow.... I mean, if I were directing aplay you were in."

"Excitement?"

"Of course there's much more to it than just that--there's style andtechnique and a hundred other things. But the essential thing is thekindling of emotion in the actor--in his mind, in his voice, in hismovements."

"Emotional excitement?"

"Call it anything you like. Perhaps it's what Oscar Wilde meant when hesaid he felt in a mood to pick his teeth with the spire of a cathedral."

"He said that?"

He nodded, amused at what he guessed--that to her Catholic mind the namewas necessarily a symbol of wickedness. "Are you surprised?"

"Oh, no. But I'd never heard it before. It's a wonderful phrase."

"Wilde was one of the wittiest men who ever lived."

"I know. I've read his plays. Under the bedclothes with a flashlight."She caught his look and added: "That was at school. They were strictabout the books we got, but we used to smuggle them in. I also read DeProfundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol."

"You were interested in Wilde at that age?"

"Oh yes--and my great-uncle often talked about him--still does. He knewhim. They were at T.C.D. together." Again she intercepted the look."That's Trinity College, Dublin."

He gaped, a little enchanted by this strange Irish world in which therecould be so much intimacy and innocence combined; for of all the reasonsfor being concerned about Wilde, surely the fact that one's great-unclehad been at college with him was unmatchable.

She broke into his reverie by saying: "Did you ever have thatfeeling--that you could pick your teeth with the spire of a cathedral?"

The answer that came to his mind (that he was enjoying such a sensationthere and then) was too simple and astonishing to confess, so he said:"Well, on a first night when you know the play's a hit you feel prettygood." (He had never had this experience.)

She nodded, more with encouragement than assent, and he went onfeverishly: "And sometimes also it happens at quieter moments--whenyou're alone or with just one other person... the heart suddenlybeating a little faster, putting its private exclamation mark at the endof every thought."

"That's not a bad phrase either." (It was his own, but he had used itbefore in some article.) "You could be Irish, the way the words come."

He laughed. "A real Playboy of the Western World, with an Americanaccent."

"Yes, and you ought to visit the West, by the way--our West--Kerry,Clare, Connemara...."

"Perhaps I will when I've straightened out a few ideas about Ireland ingeneral."

"Not too straight or they'll surely not be right. Remember we're atwisted people."

"And I'm a twisted man."

She said quietly: "What do you mean by that?"

"Nothing, nothing. A joke. Can't I joke too? But I am getting afeeling of this country and I think I do know what you mean when youcall it twisted."

It was true that he was already aware of Ireland as anatmosphere--something at once garrulous and secretive, warmhearted yetslightly mocking, as if after a thousand years of insolubility a problemcould become itself a kind of dark inscrutable answer. So far he hadbeen in Dublin a week and had written not a line; all he had done was tosight-see, read newspapers, talk to everyone he met, hear a few shots inthe distance, and go to the theater. Yet deeper than such surfacecontacts was something that came to him by the same channel that itcould pass from him to others--a communication of excitement, as he hadcalled it, so that, had Dublin been a play, he would have been aching toput it on the stage. There was a symmetry in the emotion that the citygave him, and his meeting with Carey seemed part of it.

She on her side was equally aware that she had never met anyone whointerested her so much as Paul. As he went on talking she was sure hemust realize how comparatively ignorant she was, yet at the same timeshe knew how little it mattered; she had wits to match his in theprofound escapade which, at first, is every human relationship ofconsequence. Nor had she been really hurt by his telling her that shedidn't know how to act, because she felt he would have been more politeif he had been less interested in her (though in that she was wrong);and, as the hours progressed till it was time to return to the streets,she passionately wanted to retain his interest, not only for its ownsake, but for the strength she already felt she could draw from such anew thing in her life. For she alone knew how events during recentmonths had strained her nerve, had set up tensions that had kept hersleepless often till dawn, weakening even ambition, so that from theoriginal "I want to be a great actress" that had kept her emotionallyalive as a schoolgirl, she had caught herself lately in half-wistfulclingings, as if the dream were becoming a prop instead of an urge. Butsuddenly, talking to Paul, she had felt the urge again.

When he took her hand outside the theater he said he hoped it wasn't thelast time they would see each other.

"Oh yes, I hope so too. When are you leaving?"

"Don't know exactly. Depends on how soon I finish the job I'm here for."He smiled. "Maybe I won't hurry."

"Fine. So we really ought to meet again."

They waited, each for the other; then he said, taking the plunge: "Whatabout tomorrow?"

"Oh dear, there's a matinee on Saturdays. But you could come for tea atMona's afterwards. She has a little flat just round the corner--I alwaysgo there between shows on matinee days."

"Who's Mona?"

"My best friend. She was Pegeen in the play, if you remember.... Canyou come?"

There wouldn't be much time, between the end of a theater matinee anddinner at Venton League, but he made a note of the address and said hewould be there.

* * *

All evening and the next morning and afternoon he had the recurrentfeeling that to have made such an appointment was a mistake; he wantedto see Carey again, but only alone; to meet her with her friend waspointless, for he so often did not get along with strangers, especiallygirls, and he had a gloomy foreboding that Mona would prove to be one oranother kind of bore. Up to five o'clock he was in mind not to go, butthen it began to rain, the soft Irish rain that seemed to caress the aireven more than sunshine. The rooms of Venton League darkened as theclouds rolled over, yet only the house was melancholy; the rain temptedone out of doors into a luminous gray cheerfulness. He put on amackintosh and walked down the drive, relishing the fragrance of lawnsand shrubs. A tram was at the terminus outside the lodge gates; boardingit he climbed to the upper deck where the rain lashed the windowssoundlessly. He rubbed a clear space on the pane and stared down at theglistening pavements and bobbing umbrella tops as the journey began. Hetried to think what it was in Carey that so attracted him, something inher like a magnet to a compass needle, luring him into behavior that wasout of character--or perhaps only out of the character he had hithertodecided was his own. In this sense his discovery of her was a discoveryof himself, and he was puzzled as well as fascinated. Was it merely hervoice that did such things to him, or her slight slanting smile, MonaLisa among the leprechauns, or her face in quiet profile that was likethe figurehead of a ship on a calm day? An actress? Yes, she had themakings of one in her. But the act that enticed him was that of hersimple existence.

He left the tram at the Pillar and explored through the rain till hefound the flat. A tall Regency house had been subdivided; the flat wason the third floor. He climbed with his heart pounding only partly fromthe physical exertion, but when Carey opened the door all his tensionvanished as if a switch had been pulled. The first exchange of looksconfirmed the ease she could give him, instantly, so that he even forgotabout Mona. Then when she was taking his dripping hat and mackintosh shementioned that Mona was out.

"I don't mind," he said wryly.

"Oh, but you'll find her interesting--you could get at least an articleout of her."

"About what?"

"Irish legends--antiquities--old Dublin--she knows it all. This house,for instance, had quite a history before it came down in the world."

"I'd say that with you here it hasn't come down in the world at all."

He wasn't good at compliments, and this one sounded stilted andartificial. But she warmed it to life with her laughter. "Oh, what asweet thing to say. But it really was a grand house in the old days--itbelonged to Lord Fitzhugh--the Catholic Fitzhughs. They were a wildeccentric family--one of them fought with Wolfe Tone, and another wasalways called the holy man because he----"

"Are you a Catholic?" he interrupted, brushing aside the Fitzhughs.

"Yes, but I'm not very holy."

"You mean religion doesn't matter much to you?"

"Oh no, it matters a lot, but I'm just not conscious of it all the time.Like when you have a good digestion and you don't worry about what youeat."

"So you'd call a saint a fellow with a touch of spiritual indigestion?"

"Ah now, you're laughing at me."

"I'm never quite sure when you're joking."

"Neither am I. That's the trouble sometimes."

"Oh? What trouble? When?"

"Well... during the worst of the street fighting recently nobodywould believe how scared I really was."

"I think I'd be scared too."

"But you probably wouldn't laugh about it as I did."

"No, I'd just run--very seriously."

"But you can't, when you're in a panic. It transfixes you. Perhapsyou've never known panic."

So the subject was panic, he thought, with the kind of acceptance thatcomes in a dream. He had a wild idea to tell her about the panic he hadindeed known, the secret panic that sprang from his ambition whenever herealized how time was passing and he was no nearer accomplishment, therage that sometimes followed the panic, so that he said stupid brutalthings that were often held against him forever. Panic--yes, he had feltit every birthday when he looked back on the year and reckoned his lackof advancement. Would she understand that if he tried to explain it?Would her own ambitions give her any inkling? He said gruffly: "I'venever been shot at except by life and that goes on all the time."

"Because you find battles everywhere, Paul... don't you?"

"They are everywhere, except... a few moments... a few people...you, for instance." And saying that, in words so simple, even banal,gave him a comfort that was partly an immense laziness, so that hecould relax the sinews of his spirit in her company and let come whatmight in either words or actions.

She exclaimed: "Oh, I'm so glad about that. I wondered if you'd everwant to see me again after yesterday."

"Why on earth shouldn't I?"

"I'm not as clever as you. I don't know very much. I thought you werejust trying to get material out of me for an article."

"Good heavens, do you think I'm always using people?"

"I wouldn't blame you if you were. You're a writer--an artist. It'sjustified by the results."

"You really think it is in my case?"

And again the impulse overwhelmed him to tell her, of all things, thetruth; to confess it as she would doubtless confess to a priest. Hecould begin, at least, by admitting that all his boasts and brashnesswere to cover an almost complete lack of success in anything he hadreally wanted to do so far; he could say that the articles he had thetrick of writing were always trivial and sometimes contemptible, that hehad had long spells of fruitless striving and agonized self-disgust,that he was still practically unknown on Broadway despite his poses andpretensions abroad, that he had directed only two plays in his entirelife, both of them at an experimental theater in a New York suburb; thatneither had attracted attention or been popular; and that even thesemeager achievements had taken place several years before, since when hehad been unable to persuade anyone else to give him a third chance. Allthis he could tell her, and then, perhaps, could follow even othertruths....

He said: "Listen... you've been so kind, so... so friendly and...and sympathetic... I don't want you to get any wrong ideasabout me.... Oh God, don't answer it--they'll call again if it'sanything important... let it ring, let it ring...."

But it wasn't the telephone, for the flat possessed none. Careyhesitated, but there was clearly nothing else she could do but admitMona. Nervously effusive, devoured by curiosity, Mona was alsomaddeningly discreet in the way she had forborne to use her key.

Paul froze instantly, became glum, and soon got up to go. The fact thatit was Mona's flat did not prevent him from regarding her as a completeintruder. Carey took him downstairs. They said nothing till they were inthe hallway and could see out into the street. The rain had stopped anda watery sunlight glinted on the wet pavements. They were both aware ofthings unsaid that might never be said on any other occasion. Shetouched his arm and whispered: "Oh, Paul, I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too, if I was rude, but I was just getting in a mood totalk--I mean, really talk."

"I know."

"I wonder if you do know."

She made no answer to that, but presently said: "We can meet again. Doyou like the country--I mean, getting out of thecity--mountains--scenery?"

He didn't, but he rallied himself to give a grudging assent.

"We might go to Glendalough, if you have a day to spare, or even half aday. I could borrow Mona's car--it's terribly old and shabby, but itruns. There's the lake and the famous Round Tower--might be somethingelse for one of your articles."

"Oh, damn the articles. I'd like to go, though, but when?"

"Yes, I know how busy you are----"

"Sunday's your best day, isn't it? What about this Sunday?"

"Tomorrow? Again tomorrow? Oh yes, if I can get the car. Do you mindif it rains? It probably will... this kind of weather... oh, itdoesn't matter, does it? Would ten o'clock be too early to start? Icould pick you up where you're staying...."

"Venton League? You know where that is?"

"Of course--everyone knows Mr. Rowden's house. It's less than a milefrom where I live, and directly on our way.... Tomorrow, then."

* * *

But they never did go to Glendalough. Late that evening, when hementioned the planned excursion, Rowden said suavely: "But my dear Paul,aren't you forgetting the party we had planned? A.E.'s coming, and evenYeats promised--besides the Abbey crowd...."

Paul had forgotten, but recovered himself enough, he hoped, to concealthe fact. "I know--I'm looking forward to it immensely, but if I startearly I'll be back in plenty of time for dinner."

"It happens to be a lunch party."

"Lunch? I thought you said----"

"Several of them couldn't come in the evening--Yeats in particular--andas I was anxious to have you meet our leading lights--good material fora journalist, apart from the fun you might have----"

Paul felt a sharp concern, realizing it wasn't Rowden's fault, yetunwilling to accept at any price the cancellation of his appointmentwith Carey.

"And you can go to Glendalough some other time," Rowden was continuing."I won't accompany you, I've been there so often, the place bores me alittle. But you should go--it's worth seeing, touristically. You canhave Roberts for the day." And after a pause: "Or had you other plans?Perhaps you'd arranged to go with someone else?"

"Well yes, I had, to be frank...."

"Why don't you, then, by all means, take this--this someone else?Roberts can drive you both--any time except tomorrow."

It seemed reasonable, even generous, though the thought of driving instate with a uniformed chauffeur at the wheel of Rowden's Rolls-Roycewas completely unenticing. Besides, how did he know he would stay atVenton League as long as the following Sunday, and of course Sunday washer best day. He already wished he had been truculent enough to say atthe outset: I'm sorry, I must go to Glendalough tomorrow, party or noparty. But Rowden's conciliatoriness had outmaneuvered him, so that nowhe could only mutter: "Okay, I suppose that's what it'll have to be."Deprived of power to be adamant, he could only take refuge inungraciousness.

It was too late to communicate with Carey that night to explain matters;she would already have left the theater and he did not know her homeaddress. He would have to tell her when she arrived at Venton League inthe morning, and though he guessed that she too would be disappointed,somehow that bothered him less than the thought of any possible meetingbetween her and Rowden, or even the chance that Rowden might see herdriving up to the house in that "terribly old and shabby" car. Ahalf-realized awkwardness in the whole situation kept him awake towonder how he could circumvent it; and in the morning, just before ten,he walked down the drive and past the lodge gates with the idea ofintercepting her in the roadway outside. She was punctual, andimmediately he told her what had happened. Because he was so chagrinedhe was rather testy and offhand, making almost no effort to seemblameless. She was not reproachful, assuring him that she fullyunderstood and that naturally it would be impossible for him to miss thelunch party. They did not talk long, and after separating (with no plansfor any future meeting) he began to wonder whether she had been toodisappointed or not disappointed enough. Whichever it was had put him inno mood for meeting celebrities.

They came, a little later, some by tram, others in cars far more ancientand battered than the one Carey had been driving. Dublin in those dayswas like that. And Paul, unhappy at first, was soon swept into alivelier mood by such exciting contacts; once or twice during the lunchhe felt a stab of regret that he was not where he had planned to be, buthe killed it by self-derision--was it possible that he preferred naïvechatter with a girl of seventeen to an exchange of ideas with some ofthe brightest minds in such a captivating country? If so, then what onearth had happened to him? And all the discomforts of a long drive in arattletrap car with nothing but scenery at the end of it? For Paul didnot enjoy travel for its own sake; art he loved, and a long way off andby no means next to it, nature. Moreover, he shared Dr. Johnson'sattitude towards mountains, partly because of an aversion to mostphysical effort; even the mountain view from Phoenix Park had impressedhim only because he had seen it momentarily as a backdrop.

All this while he was listening to a very eminent poet recite some linesfrom one of his poems. Candidly, Paul did not think he recited verywell, but since it was actually himself reciting himself, what morecould one ask? And then the almost equally famous Mr. So-and-so, who wasopposite Paul, engaged him in talk that soon veered to a subject thatwas one of the few on which Paul had no ideas of his own--that ofco-operative creameries; and for the next ten minutes there ensued afascinating monologue to which Paul listened in growing wondermentcoupled with the ghost of a feeling that he was missing something moreinteresting elsewhere. But presently Rowden suggested an adjournment tothe garden, and once out there it was possible to escape fromco-operative creameries and switch to another group who were discussingthe theater.

Paul was capricious in conversation; his rare silences might indicatethat he was either bored or entranced; but so might his talkativeness,for if he were bored he would take quick refuge in the pleasure of hisown voice, and if entranced, there would be generated in him sooner orlater a terrific desire to entrance the entrancer. This latter occurredduring the talk in the garden when Paul, having silently worshiped awell-known literary critic during the latter's eloquent opinion aboutthe proper way to produce the plays of Synge, suddenly interrupted withan opinion of his own. It began modestly, soon acquired an eloquencefully equal to the critic's, and grew to a quite brilliant exegesis thatattracted several listeners from another group.

And in the thick of it, without a nod or a word, the well-known literarycritic walked off.

Paul finished his sentence and stopped. He felt himself flushing to theroots of his hair, and the aboriginal in him responded with a mental andalmost muttered: Why, the son of a bitch.... He knew he had beensnubbed, and though it was not the first time, the identity of thesnubber made it perhaps the most devastating in his experience.

One of the group around him, an actor later to become world famous,laughed and said: "Don't mind him, boy. He's just not used to beingcontradicted."

"But I wasn't contradicting him! I was merely explaining----"

They all laughed then as if the whole incident had been a supreme jokeclimaxed by his own declaration of innocence. A tall thin youngishplaywright whose white hair made effective contrast with his bead-blackeyes remarked: "I imagine you must have found Moscow very interesting,Mr. Saffron."

"Moscow? I've never been to Moscow."

"Indeed? I thought you must be a disciple of Stanislavski."

"Who?"

The playwright looked as if the question could be damnation either way;the revelation of Paul as an ignoramus, or cover for his appropriationof another person's ideas.

Actually Paul had not caught the name, but the wine he had drunkincreased the dismay he felt at having been snubbed by a man he admiredand laughed at for a joke he couldn't share. He exclaimed hotly: "So Inever heard of somebody?... So what? You guys never heard of me tilltoday, did you?"

Later it occurred to him that the name had been Stanislavski, and thathe had behaved as if it were unknown to him. The gaucherie completed hismortification.

* * *

The party dispersed soon after that, and Paul, still troubled, foundhimself a couple of hours later in the library, staring at the Cézanneswith his mind half elsewhere on a road that wandered disconcertinglybetween Moscow and Glendalough. The butler brought in a tray of teathings, and Rowden entered soon afterwards. Paul noticed idly that hewore different clothes; must have an enormous wardrobe, changed forevery meal, a fad maybe... and he recollected something that Robertshad told him with evident pride during one of their drives: "Mr. Rowden,sir, is very particular. Clean sheets and pillow slips every time hegoes to bed--even when he takes his little nap in the afternoon. Veryparticular, he is." So he's probably been taking his little nap, Paulreflected.

Rowden attended to the tea making, a ritual he always performed himself,because it involved bringing the water exactly to a boil over the spiritkettle, mixing the leaves from separate caddies, heating the silver potwith a swill of boiling water and then rinsing it into a bowl; theresult, no doubt, was an excellent brew, but Paul didn't like tea anywayand only drank it from politeness.

Rowden said, handing Paul a cup: "What on earth did you do to ourlatter-day Coleridge? He went off in a considerable huff and somebodytold me you'd insulted him."

"I insulted him? All I did was to beg to differ from a few things hesaid. He'd been laying the law down--it was time someone else put in aword."

"I'm afraid you upset him."

"I'm sorry if I did--I didn't mean to. But he was talking about thefunction of the stage director and I'm just as entitled to an opinionabout that as he is about books."

"He directs plays too."

"Then I don't think he can be very good at it."

Rowden laughed. "Confidentially, I rather agree."

"Why confidentially?"

"Because if you criticize him in this town it means you're agin thegovernment, and as I'm not agin any government, provided it governs, Ikeep my mouth shut. I'm afraid you're too politically naïve tounderstand our local situation."

"Probably. That's why I was sent here to write about it."

"It might interest you, though, to note what happens to a writer whensome accident of history makes him a cultural pontiff over a nationalistliterature. The first result is that he ceases to produce any literaturehimself. The next thing is a tremendous inflation of his ego."

"I can see you don't like him much."

"Did you?"

Paul hadn't liked him at all, yet he stirred uneasily at any sign ofagreement with Rowden on such an issue. The important fact was that theliterary critic, likable or not, was indisputably an inhabitant of theworld that Paul claimed as his own. He said: "I certainly didn't intendany disrespect and I'd hate to think he was so put out by anything Isaid that he wouldn't visit your house again. Maybe I should write him anote?"

"I wouldn't bother. He'll be here again, don't worry. He's on so manycommittees he couldn't leave me alone for long. Whenever there's moneyto be raised for one thing or another these people change their tune."

Again Paul felt the uneasiness; he could not allow Rowden to have thatkind of last word. "If they do," he retorted, "maybe it's because theyknow so many tunes and changing them's so easy. Don't forget they havetheir opinion of you just as you have of them, and like you, they'resmart enough to keep it to themselves. When they ask for money you thinkthey're humbling themselves, and they let you think it because theyfigure they get more that way, but actually there's something in themthat your checkbook couldn't buy, and secretly you resent that, so yougive it a nasty name--you call it an inflated ego." Paul laughed to takeaway some of the sting. "Excuse me for being so personal. It's allbecause I enjoyed meeting the people you had here today. They're amongthe really important people in the world--a thousand times more so thanall the politicians and gunmen----"

"Why don't you add 'and millionaires'?"

Paul laughed again. "That would be too personal, but it's not a badidea for my article."

"I thought it was going to be about the little girl."

"Oh, I start with her, that's all. Then I work around to art andartists."

"From what you said about her acting I shouldn't have thought there wasmuch connection."

Paul felt that in a rather dangerous way a core of antagonism betweenthem had been found and now needed only to be exploited. He saidlightly: "The way I write, there don't have to be connections. That'sthe trick--anything'll do that comes into my head."

"So long as you keep a cool head. Something I said just now seemed torub you the wrong way."

"No, but it made me realize what side I'm on."

"Oh come now, Paul, aren't you rather deliberately misunderstanding me?You must know I'm not a Philistine. I appreciate art and I respectartists as much as you do. If I don't take them quite as seriously assome of them take themselves, that's because I have a sense of humor."

"No, sir, that's because you have a million in the bank, or ten million,or whatever it is."

Rowden flushed. "Please don't call me 'sir.' And believe me when I say Iwas far more amused than shocked by your gaffe this afternoon. Itwas funny--one of the really important people in the world--by yourown estimate, not mine--and you send him scurrying off like a--like aspanked puppy!"

"I've said I'm sorry. What else can I do?"

"Not a thing--or you'd probably make it worse.... Some more tea?"

"No thanks."

"When are you going to write the article?"

"Tomorrow, I think."

"Fine. You can have the library here to yourself and I'll tell Briggsyou aren't to be interrupted. Would you like a secretary for thetyping?"

"Heavens, no--I do all that myself. What sort of life do you think I'mused to?"

"I was really only trying to be of service."

Paul found himself suddenly touched. He was always sensitive to thehidden note in a voice, and in Rowden's last sentence there had beensuch a note, of humility, almost of self-abasement. But after beingtouched, he was disturbed; the note came too uneasily from a man likeRowden and after such an argument. He knew then that what was happeningbetween him and Rowden was a repetition of what had happened before inhis life--the progress of a relationship to the point of chafing, as ifthere were something fundamentally raw in his personality that madefriendship difficult and hostility almost welcome as a relief. He feltashamed of his rudeness, yet at the same time he slightly resentedhaving been outgeneraled by Rowden's better manners, and he silentlyupbraided himself in words he remembered because he had once spoken themaloud, after a similar incident with someone else: I shouldn't everargue about art with people who aren't artists--I really ought to keepoff the subject--I get a chip on my shoulder, I don't know why, I guessit's the way I'm made.

"Might I read the article before you send it off?" Rowden was asking.

"Why sure, but it won't be much in your line."

"Perhaps not, but I'm interested.... You see, I've done a littlewriting myself from time to time--though not commercially." He went toone of the library shelves and took down a small Morocco-bound volume;Paul was moving to inspect it when Rowden hastily put it back. "No,no--not now. There's another copy on the shelf by your bed--I thoughtyou might have noticed it."

Paul said he hadn't. "If I'd known it was something of yours... but Ihaven't done much reading in bed while I've been here, I've been toosleepy.... I certainly won't miss it tonight, though." And then, withan effect of release from stress, he remembered the copy of MartinChuzzlewit he had borrowed from Carey. He hadn't had time to look atthat either.

Rowden's uneasiness had now reached a point of evident urgency. "Pleasedon't take any trouble about it. I've inscribed the book to you--I wouldbe happy for you to have it. Just a few verses I wrote yearsago--trivial, one reviewer said--the only reviewer, in fact. Anotherword he used was 'unpleasant.'"

"Unpleasant? How did he make that out?"

"Perhaps he was a little prim. Today that kind of attitude is rare amongsophisticated people--almost as rare as scholarship. Some of the verses,by the way, are in Latin and Greek."

"Without a translation? Not much good to me, then. I know Latinslightly, but no Greek at all."

"They have their uses, the classical tongues. One can sometimes putthoughts into them that are--shall I say--appropriately hidden from thecasual reader. Gibbon... no doubt, the same with his footnotes....You've read Gibbon? You should... a great stylist... but to getback to my own small foray into the literary arena--you've no idea howcompletely it was ignored--even by the few--the very few--who might havebeen expected to catch the mood of it."

"Classical scholars, you mean?"

"Not entirely.... But I bear no grudge. The book's utter failure mayhave been merited. Certainly that one word 'unpleasant' was the onlyripple it stirred."

Paul was uncomfortable again; he felt that Rowden was trying to makesome tortuous amends, to heal a rift that had developed between them,yet that in so doing he might soon be creating other stresses even lessendurable.

Rowden went on: "I suppose you're surprised I should confess all this?"

Paul laughed nervously. "No, because I think you're as proud of it inyour own way as other people are proud of success."

"You're very shrewd. I--I admire your intelligence, Paul--in fact, Ihope you'll always remember me as one of your earliest admirers."

"Well, thanks. I appreciate that. I'm sure you're a pretty good judge.I'll bet all those Picassos and Cézannes you have were bought at thebeginning, before the prices went up."

"Some of them were, though I don't brag about it."

"I know you don't. I just guessed. And I also guess if you admire me itmeans I'll go sky-high too one of these days."

"I think you will, and you'll enjoy it, because you worship success farmore than you should.... But tell me, Paul, what is the barrierbetween us? I think there must be one--you seem unwilling to become asclose a friend to me as I could be to you. To take a trivialexample--absurdly trivial--I call you Paul, my own name's Michael, butyou've never called me that.... It's true you don't call me MisterRowden--you never give me any name at all, I've noticed. I think itsymbolizes that barrier.... And another thing--also absurdly trivial.You never told me you'd seen that little actress, had met her, Imean--the child who was the leprechaun in that rather dreadful play."

"Yes, I did meet her one afternoon. We took a walk in Phoenix Park. Howdid you know?"

"Pure chance--Roberts happened to be driving through and saw youtogether. It's of no importance at all--except that it seems strange youdidn't mention it."

"I didn't think you were interested in her."

"I'm not. But you evidently were.... Are you still?"

Paul answered musingly: "Yes, in a sort of way. She's my kind if I had akind."

"You mean if you were to have a girl?"

"No... not exactly."

"Then I don't quite know what you mean by saying she's your kind if youhad a kind."

"I don't quite know either.... And she's not a child, by the way.She's seventeen."

There followed a considerable silence which was broken (and Paul wasglad of it) by the entrance of Briggs, carrying an envelope on a tray."For you, Mr. Saffron. It just came."

Paul opened it: a cablegram from Boston as follows: PLEASE DROP IRISHASSIGNMENT AND PROCEED LONDON AND ROME IMMEDIATELY STOP WOULD LIKE YOUTO INTERVIEW ITALIAN POLITICIAN NAMED BENITO MUSSOLINI SAID TO BE COMINGMAN STOP AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS BY CABLE AT LONDON OFFICE (Signed)MERRYWEATHER.

Paul read this with utter astonishment, then reread it while a sharppinpoint of relief transfixed him.

"Not bad news, I hope?" Rowden was saying.

Paul called his thoughts to order. Now that he knew he could leaveVenton League so soon and with such a valid excuse he felt at ease; thepinpoint of relief expanded inside him rapidly. "Did I look as if it wasbad news? I'm sorry.... It'll seem pretty exciting when I've got overthe first shock.... I expect the real reason I never called youMichael is the difference in our ages, but I will from now on." Hesmiled and passed the cable over. "I never heard of this Mussolinifellow--he's probably a tough nut to crack, and since I don't speakItalian... It beats me why I'm picked on for this kind of job. Justbecause I once had luck with Lloyd George is no guarantee I'll manage itagain."

Rowden handed back the cable. "Immediately too."

"That's what it says. A hell of a life, isn't it?"

"And just when you were beginning to feel at home here."

"Yes.... Too bad."

"I suppose--you don't think--you could ignore the instructions--and stayon awhile?"

"What?" Paul laughed. "Ignore an editor? That's not exactly the way tokeep one's job."

"But you said you didn't like the job--that it was only a stopgap tillyou found a new play to direct?"

Suddenly Paul wondered if Rowden would give or lend him a few thousandpounds to stage a play, say a Shakespeare production, in London or NewYork. Perhaps Rowden would enjoy a flutter of that kind, with all thepatronly contacts it would involve. Certainly Paul had no qualms abouttaking money from a rich man and probably losing most of it. The ideatempted, fascinated, then grew suddenly sour; and he heard his ownvoice, speaking as much to himself as to Rowden: "You bet I'd give upjournalism if I could make a living in the theater, but till I can--andI will--I have to do what the boss says."

"I see. The boss. This man Merryweather."

"Well, he pays me for writing the stuff."

Rowden nodded, lit a cigarette, and pressed the bell. "Then we must tellBriggs about your packing. You haven't time to catch the night boat, butthere's another sails at eight in the morning. Leave here aboutseven--Roberts will drive you to Kingstown. If you'll excuse me, I won'tget up to see you off, but we must certainly drink a good wine thisevening--to celebrate your Roman holiday. Not champagne, I think--thatis for cocottes... but I have a rather special Burgundy...."

* * *

Dinner was gay; Rowden could be the most gracious of hosts, and Paulliked him almost feverishly now they were so soon to separate. Naturallymuch of their talk was of Rome and Italy. "I wish I were coming withyou, Paul. To be with anyone when he first crosses the Alps, but youespecially--a young American--tabula rasa.... Who is this manMerryweather? An editor, yes, I know that; but what sort of person--ishe simpatico--does he have any idea of his power--to whisk you aboutthe world--London--Dublin--Rome--to offer you, at the impressionableage, such unrivaled chances of experience--some lifetime friendship,maybe, or fate itself, in one guise or another? Or is it merely that hewants those little articles that you write with such deplorable skill?"

"Probably only that."

"How unimaginative."

"Well, he knows what he wants and he doesn't care what I want. I onceasked him if I could do the drama criticism, but he said no--I knew toomuch, he was afraid I'd be high-brow."

"Surely a strain, though, as it becomes harder for you to find subjectsyou know nothing about. Or perhaps it doesn't?"

"That's where travel helps. Widens the circle of ignorance. Theunsophisticated viewpoint on Rome--I'll get it, you see."

"Rome might even make you feel unsophisticated. It has a uniquesociety--or rather two societies, one based on the aristocracy and theother on the Vatican. I must give you some introductions."

"Thanks--I'll be the Iowa farmboy amongst all that--it'll suitMerryweather fine. Because in spite of Emily Post, America loves the guywho isn't sure what knife and fork to use."

"Aren't you?"

"I try not to be too sure. And where finger bowls are concerned Iguard all my innocence. Haven't you caught me at it?"

"No, but it fits well with your somewhat complex behavior. You're anexceedingly complex character--did you ever realize that? A certaincharm, when you care to use it, hides your arrogance, and your arrogancehides your humility, and your humility hides... what, I wonder? Idon't know, and nor do you--you can't know--yet. Meanwhile if I canhelp you... I shall write a few letters you can take to Italy; Briggswill give them to you before you leave in the morning. They'll be toquite influential people--but Mussolini isn't among them, unfortunately.He's something new in the Roman firmament since my day."

"You know Rome well?"

"As a youth I lived there several years--till soon after my father died.I was being trained for the priesthood."

"And then you found you had no vocation?"

"To be less dramatic, I found I had a brewery. My father had left it tomy elder brother, but when he died suddenly I got it.... Of courseyou're quite right--I couldn't have had any real vocation."

Paul thought this over and then said: "I suppose what you did proved it.And yet, isn't it a bit too neat--that everything's all for the best,whether you give up something or not? I'm lucky--I know what I'll nevergive up, and anyone can put me to any test they like." He checkedhimself, realizing that there was in all this an implied condemnation ofthe other, anxious also to avoid an exchange of confessions. He had acurious feeling that he and Rowden could understand each other if theytried, but he did not want to try; on the contrary, he felt embarrassedand evasive, as if he were discovered without a passport at a frontier.He said: "I wouldn't be surprised if I've been talking a lot ofnonsense.... Of course I'll be glad to meet your friends, it's verykind of you to suggest it, though I don't know how long I'll be in Rome.It all depends on Mussolini----"

"May I give you a word of advice?" Rowden leaned towards Paul across thetable. "Just this: Let the big man talk. Don't tell him what a fool heis if you can possibly avoid it."

Paul was almost ready to resent this as a second return to an issue thathad already been terminated, but with relief inside him now rising toenthusiasm, he found it possible to laugh heartily.

Rowden laughed too. "You know, Paul, I've been searching for a word todescribe what's the real trouble with you, and I think I've got it....You're not world-broken."

"World-broken? What's that?... On the analogy of----"

"That's it. You don't care what you do--or where. And to continue themetaphor, you'll end up shivering in an outdoor kennel instead ofbasking on the hearthrug in front of a warm fire."

"Okay, Michael.... So long as I have even the kennel, to hell withthe hearthrug." (It was the first and last time he ever called himMichael.)

"You're probably still young enough to be able to make the choice. Howlucky you are indeed!"

* * *

Paul said his good-bys in the corridor outside their bedrooms, andRowden left him with a cordial invitation to visit Venton League again.Paul promised he would, though with a premonition that it would neverhappen. There was so much in the man that he liked and admired, and muchtoo that he felt he could make use of--not in any sense of exploitation,but rather as part of the process of self-enlightenment. He wonderedwhether Rowden guessed that Venton League was the first house he hadever visited where dressing for dinner was routine and not show-off,where vintage wines were drunk ritually but not snobbishly, and whereservants shined shoes and packed for guests. His own packed bag facedhim now, and on top, where Briggs must have placed it as a reminder, laythe Martin Chuzzlewit from the city library. With that as a goad, thethought of Carey leaped at him unleashed and with extra strength becauseall day, it seemed, he had been holding it at bay. Now that he was alonethe enormity of having canceled the planned excursion sank in his mindwith an effect of sickness. He contemplated the possibility that hewould never see her again, that Rowden and Merryweather had between themset an end to the relationship, the one with a touch of forethought andthe other unwittingly, while he himself had weakly acquiesced.

He knew he could not sleep with such thoughts in his mind. He paced theroom, staring at the furniture, the pictures, anything that might stirsome feeble counter-interest. Suddenly he saw the volume of Rowden'sverses on his bedside shelf, hard to miss if he had ever before giventhe books any attention. He sat on the edge of the bed and read a fewpages. The title was Leaves, it had been privately printed, and therewas no publication date. He soon decided that Rowden's low estimate ofits worth (however insincere) was the plain truth. It was interesting,though, as a clue to the man's tastes and personality. Somewhat in thestyle of Swinburne or Baudelaire--perhaps written as long ago as that,when their kind of writing was in vogue. Paul reread a few of the poemsand tried to decide on an adjective for them. "Unpleasant" would neverhave entered his mind had not Rowden laid such stress on the word; as itwas, with an idea thus implanted, Paul diagnosed here and there a sortof strained morbidity, perhaps considered decadent at one time, butnowadays merely outmoded. Of course the items in Latin and Greek werebeyond him. Having skimmed the book through (it was very short) he putit aside and forgot it was his own property, Rowden having inscribed itfor him; so that the next day, after he had gone, its presence still atthe bedside conveyed a far more crushing verdict than any he hadformulated. Though he never knew this, it was the reason why Rowden didnot reply to several letters Paul sent him during the next few weeks;and, indeed, it was the end of their fleeting contact.

Next, and in some sense as an antidote, he picked up Chuzzlewit andturned to the American section; its sheer readableness diverted him fora few moments, but all the time he was imagining what Carey might havethought of America and Americans whilst reading it. Perhaps he shouldwrite her a letter to go back with the book; Briggs could mail them tothe theater the next day. He went to a desk and filled several sheets ofnotepaper, chiefly about Chuzzlewit; it was his first letter to her,indeed, except for the mere note he had sent backstage. Then he noticedthat the inside of the book cover contained a library card with heraddress in Terenure, and an idea was born in him that speedily rose tohuge dimensions. For he knew now where she lived, where she was at thatmoment--and she had said it was less than a mile away. Why shouldn't hewalk over to her house before going to bed and make his own delivery ofthe book and the letter? Of course she would be asleep at such an hour,but he could come close to her for a moment, perhaps for the last time,and she would later know that he had been there. It was odd howsatisfying that was to him as he contemplated it.

Venton League was locked and bolted, but the garden door had a simplelatch, and he knew there was a side gate several hundred yards from thehouse that led through unused stables and another gate into a road. Healso knew the general direction of Terenure, but that was all.Fortunately he soon met a late-homing tram driver who directed him tothe address. As he approached it he heard, in the very far distance, thecrackle of rifle shots. It spurred him, matching his own feeling ofexcitement in what he was doing--walking at this late hour (and hedisliked walking at any hour) through the unknown streets of an unknowncity. A mysterious schizophrenic city, he reflected, passing thesuburban villas one after the other, each one dark and silent, while afew miles away on rooftops a handful of zealots risked their lives tomake history. He could not help thinking of it theatrically--the vastpopulous inertia of the sleeping suburbs as a background to thesilhouette of the lone man wide awake with a gun. The idea fascinated,then grew larger as he tried to imagine the play whose staging he hadalready pictured with the eye of his mind. He had no politicalintelligence, but for that reason he sometimes caught a whiff of eventsthat the analysts and short-range tipsters missed.

When he reached the house he was surprised to see lights in several ofthe windows, both upstairs and down. He walked up the short path to theporch and dropped both book and note in the mailbox as quietly as hecould. But someone must have heard, for before he reached the streetagain the front door opened and Carey's voice called out: "Who is it?"Her voice sounded curious rather than startled. He turned back a fewpaces into the zone of light from the doorway; then she came rushing outto him with an eagerness equally curious. "Paul!... Won't you comein?" That startled him. She almost dragged him into the house, leadingthe way to a small room opening off the narrow lobby--a den, it couldhave been called, with an old-fashioned roll-top desk, shabby chairs,and of all things, a complicated gymnastic apparatus of ropes andpulleys. He felt again the overmastering physical ease of being in herpresence, the relief of finding her eager to see him despite the fiascoof the canceled trip; but in addition there was a strangeness he wasjust faintly aware of, a tension in her face and attitude that he hadnot seen before.

He began rapidly: "You must think me crazy to be here this time ofnight, but the fact is, I'm leaving for London early tomorrow and Iwanted to return the book.... I wrote this note too--never thoughtI'd see you... nothing important in it--mostly about the book."

"The book?"

"Martin Chuzzlewit... don't you remember?"

She answered, almost dreamily: "I didn't know you knew where I lived."

"That was in the book too--on a library card."

"A library book? Oh yes, I do remember.... Would you--would youcare for a drink?"

"Thanks, no--I'll have to be going in a minute. Must have some sleep.The boat sails at eight."

"Why are you going away so soon?"

"My editor cabled me. I've got to do a job for him in Italy."

"Italy? And before you've finished all you wanted to do here?"

"Looks like it. I certainly haven't done much, have I? And I'm speciallysorry about Glendalough."

"That couldn't be helped--you had the party instead. Was itinteresting?"

"Very--but I was missing Glendalough all the time." How untrue that was,and yet how revealing, even to himself, of the truth; for it was now,with her in that small room, that he was acutely missing something, ofwhich Glendalough could well stand as a name and symbol. "If I'd guessedit would be my last chance, I don't know but what----"

"Oh no, you couldn't possibly. And it was just as well."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because..." She hesitated, then chattered on: "You'll probably getto hear about it.... No, you wouldn't, though, if you're leaving sosoon. Anyhow, it's nothing that affects you, but if we had gone toGlendalough it would have been worse... for me."

"For you?"

"I'm sorry--it's my fault for not getting to the point...." Sheseemed to steady herself as if for the repetition of a lesson, then saidin a level voice: "My stepfather died this morning."

"What?" He stared at her, disturbed by her look and manner as much asby what she had said. "Carey! Oh. I'm sorry.... Had he been ill? Youdidn't tell me.... Was it sudden?... But if you'd rather not talkabout it..."

"I don't mind.... He was all right early this morning--I saw himbefore he left for eight o'clock mass at St. Peter's--that's the longmass. I went to the nine o'clock at St. Columba's--that's the short one.I was back here by half-past ten after meeting you, and I could see hewas back too and had had his breakfast--then I heard the water runningin the bath upstairs. The water's never hot enough early in the morning,so on Sundays..."

She hesitated as if the details were becoming too trivial, and he made amurmur of encouragement.

"Well, it became a sort of Sunday treat--he always stayed in the bath along time and had his grammar books with him--he was learningGaelic.... After the water stopped running I heard him saying overthe words... but he was there so long I began to wonder if anythingwas the matter, so I called out and knocked at the door, but there wasno reply. Mrs. Kennedy--she's the housekeeper we've had since my motherdied--she said he'd been all right at breakfast--quite chatty andcheerful with her. But after a time I told her I was nervous, so webroke the lock and found him... in the bath... he was dead bythen."

She paused breathlessly and he made haste to offer the only comfort hecould think of. "Carey, I know there's nothing I can say that can reallyhelp, but of all the ways to die, it might have been the easiest--afainting fit--suddenly--the hot bath on top of a meal----"

"No, I don't think it was that."

"Why... why not?"

"It wasn't like that." She gave him a strained look.

"What did the doctor say?"

"He said what you said--more or less. But I still don't think----"

"Did you tell him you didn't?"

"No, I haven't told anybody that--till now."

"Carey, what's on your mind?"

She said, in a level voice again: "I think he killed himself."

"But--how--why--what on earth makes you... Look here, you'd bettertell me what really is on your mind."

She went on: "He had asthma sometimes. He took pills for it with opiumin them, and the doctor told him never to take more than two at a time,no matter how bad the attack was. They were in a little bottle that hecarried in his vest pocket. Today, when I looked, it was empty. He musthave taken at least a dozen."

"But how can you possibly know that? Didn't the doctor ask about thepills?"

"No. It wasn't the same doctor that gave him the prescription--that oneleft the district, and this is a new man who hadn't seen him before."

"So what did he say?"

"He thought it was a heart attack. I told him he had been warned by theother doctor about his heart."

"Had he?"

The strain touched her lips now, making them veer and tremble. "I toldthe doctor he had."

Paul didn't speak for a moment; he was pondering. Presently he said:"I'm still puzzled--I can't see that you've any reason to draw theconclusion you do. When and where did you last see the bottle with pillsin it?"

"On his bedside table. It was nearly full. I was taking him a cup of teabefore breakfast. A few days ago--perhaps a week."

"Then how can you be certain about what happened this morning? Any timeduring the past week he could have----"

"But he wouldn't, unless he had an attack, and he hadn't had onesince--oh, months."

"How do you know that?"

"He'd have told me, or else I'd have noticed. He always coughed so muchand it left him weak afterwards. It's not something you can hide frompeople in the same house."

"That may be, but I still say there's no proof that he took all thosepills this morning."

"I think he must have."

"But why? Surely you don't want to think so? And if the doctor wassatisfied--he was, wasn't he?"

"Yes--after I talked to him. He wrote out a certificate, but I don'tthink he would have if he'd seen the empty bottle."

He said sharply: "What did you do with the bottle?"

"That's why I'm glad we didn't go to Glendalough. I broke it into littlepieces and buried them in the garden."

"You did? Let's hope you were lucky and nobody saw you.... Anddon't you ever tell anyone else about all this."

"Oh, I won't. But there's something I haven't told even you--yet." Shewent over to the roll-top desk and opened it. "This was the Irishgrammar he worked from, and the pencil and exercise book he used. Theywere on the chair by the side of the bath, and there was a note clippedto the book, written on a torn page. Here it is. Nobody else has seenit."

She took it out of the pocket of her skirt and unfolded it. Paul readthe carefully penciled script:

Dear Carey, I know now it was a mistake ever to come to Ireland but I did it to please your mother and I pretended to be happy here, but I'm not, and actually I never have been. It's a terrible thing when all at once you realize you're learning a language that bores you and going to a church you don't really believe in. (I turned Catholic too, you know, to please her.) They don't like me at the office, they don't like my English accent, they have a nickname for me--they call me Fitzpomp. It's odd how all sorts of things can go on and on for years and you can stand them, and then suddenly you feel you can't stand a single one of them for another minute. Well, why should you? There's a line in some Latin writer--Seneca, I think--that says: "We cannot complain of life, for it keeps no one against his will." So I don't complain, and this letter, though it may tell you more about me than you have ever suspected, is really no more than a...

The letter ended at that and had no signature; it was as if the writerhad been seized with illness in mid-sentence.

Paul was wondering why she had not shown him the letter at thebeginning, it would have saved so much argument. The detached part ofhis mind caused him to pick up the exercise book and compare the writingin it with the note; they were the same, there was no doubt of that. Hesaw her watching him make the test, but he could not guess what she wasthinking.

He said at length: "How old were you when your mother married again?"

"Twelve."

"And your real father... you remember him?"

"I was ten when he died.... We lived in Kildare near the Curragh. Heused to hunt with the cavalrymen--oh, you should have seen him on ahorse! We had a farm, but it never paid.... Such wonderful times,though--and every Christmas he took me to the Theatre Royal to see thepantomime. That's when I first decided I wanted to be an actress."

"You didn't have such good times with your stepfather?"

"No.... But he was all right--we got along quite well."

He handed the letter back. "You were lucky to find this too, beforeanyone else did. Are you going to keep it?"

"You think... you think I'd better not?" She hesitated a moment, thenstruck a match and held the paper to it. When the flame was down to thelast corner she crumpled the charred pieces into an ash tray.

He said: "Perhaps that's wise."

"You don't blame me, do you?"

"Blame you? Blame you? What on earth for? Did you ever guess he wasso unhappy?"

"I never guessed anything he said in the letter. That's what makes itall such a shock. How could he not love Ireland, the poor little man...though dear knows it's had its troubles. And I never heard that theycalled him Fitzpomp at the office. Fitzpomp..." She spoke the wordas if sampling it. "He seemed so keen on learning the Gaelic--hedidn't have to do that if he didn't want to--he'd been looking forwardto taking an examination--it must have been on his mind at the endbecause he was saying over the words--I heard him.... And the lastthing--almost the last thing he did was so normal--so tidy... just ashe always was... so tidy..."

"What was that?"

"He screwed on the top of the empty bottle and put it back in his vestpocket. That's where I found it."

Her voice had a note that made him exclaim: "Carey, you must pullyourself together--isn't there anyone else here in the house to helpyou?"

"I'm all right. My aunt and uncle came over from Sandymount--they'llstay till--oh, till afterwards. And there's Mrs. Kennedy too. I'm allright now--really I am. I'm glad I told somebody the truth and I'm gladit was you. I expect I told you because you're a stranger and leaving sosoon. And I'm glad you made me destroy the letter."

"I didn't make you, but----"

"I know, I know, and you were right. Ah God, he wasn't a bad man. He waskind to my mother--she bossed him a lot--it's true he did everything toplease her. He was lonely after she died, but he seemed to manage. Hetook up all sorts of things--hobbies--studies--memory-training--thosethings in correspondence lessons to help with the Gaelic. Every eveninghe'd put in a couple of hours. And the machine over there--he boughtthat--it's supposed to develop muscles.... I got so used to him, Idon't know yet how much I shall miss him. I'm watching myself, in a sortof way, to find out. It's like when you're on the stage--you don'texactly feel, you feel yourself feel. I suppose that's the troublewith me now--I'm really acting--I can't stop it--I've been doing itall day, more or less--I had to with the doctor--and then with all theothers since... Are you shocked? Is there something wrong with me tobe like that?"

He wasn't shocked, of course; he had already diagnosed that she wasacting; the problem, to him, was in the fact that he himself was notdirecting. If their conversation since he entered the house had reallybeen stage dialogue, he would have known exactly what the playingattitude should be, but because it was all happening in life he wasuncertain how to behave. He knew that his compassion was one of thewarmest excitements he had ever felt, but he could find no words for it.

Fortunately she had now given him the kind of cue he could pick up. Hesaid, taking her arm a little roughly: "There's nothing wrong with youat all. Don't you know how natural it is for any artist to come to termswith an emotion through the medium of his own art? It's the great thingthat compensates him--whatever he suffers, he has that outlet thatnobody else has--he can use up what he feels, he can do something withit, create something out of it, so that even pain, in a sort of way,seems worth while. If, for instance, he's a writer, he can make personalsorrow work for him in a book--a musician can put it into his music--apainter can see it on canvas. And all that never surprises anyone. Butwith the actor, the art is acting--so that whenever something happensto you that matters enough, that's just what you do. Most peoplewouldn't understand it, because they think of acting as a kind ofpretense or sham--anyhow, they don't often notice it in a good actor,because it's his art not to seem to be acting at all. But he is, and heknows he is, and--as you say--he can't stop it. It's really the highestform of sincerity--and since you liked your stepfather, it's a tributeto him that you should be doing it... as you are now... sowell."

"Am I?" She was moved almost to tears, and he did not tell her thathis long speech had been a repetition, personalized and slightlyadapted, of a paragraph in an article on acting which he had submittedto various magazines so far without success.

She added: "Paul, since you say that, is there--do you think--any chancefor me?"

"As an actress?" Trying to assemble his judgment, he was excited by heremotion; it was intoxicating to think that she must assume his eloquenceto have been improvised.

"I know it's the most awful time to ask," she went on, noticing hishesitation. "But I have asked, so won't you answer? Is there themerest outside chance? You're leaving so soon and you can help me eitherway. If you say no, I'll give up the whole idea, because I don't want towaste my time. But if you say yes, then..."

His judgment still balked, and he could only remember what he hadrealized from the first--that she possessed the genuine histrionicpersonality plus a quality of her own that the stage might eitherdestroy or magnify, depending of course on how she was trained anddirected. What was it? Talent? Some half-physical attribute? Heanswered: "Yes. I think you might have a chance." His words had the kindof delayed sincerity that made him feel, a few seconds after speakingthem, that he hadn't been insincere at all. (For presumably she did havea chance, at the Abbey, of being properly directed.) He went on,gathering confidence: "Why, sure--of course you have."

"You really think so?"

"I do.... I do...."

The answer made the thing seem like some sort of ceremony involving themin vows and pledges: I do, I do, his mind kept echoing, incredulously.

"Oh, bless you, Paul--even if you don't mean it.... No, don'targue--not another word--I know you have to go----"

Actually he didn't want to go now at all: he wanted to explore arelationship that had begun to fascinate.

"But Carey----"

"Dear no, I've talked too long already--I'll bet my aunt and uncle arewondering who that man is. Thank you, Paul--you've helped me so much--inso many ways----"

"Will you do something for me then? As soon as I've gone, go to bed andtry to sleep."

"Yes, yes, I promise that. I promise."

In her changed mood she was almost shooing him out of the house.

"And I'll write to you from Rome----"

"Yes, if you have time--but you'll be so busy----"

"I'll find time, Carey... because I..."

"Good-by, Paul--good-by." They shook hands in the lobby as she openedthe door. All the way back to Venton League he wondered why he had notkissed her. It did not seem important till he himself was in bed andtrying to sleep. Then, with the mailboat to catch in a few hours, hefelt hemmed in by timings and mistimings.

* * *

Paul wrote to her from the Holyhead boat the next day--a constrainedletter, oddly aloof, because there was a battle going on in his ownmind. He was fated, it seemed, to fight too late, when the issue couldnot be affected and the victory of second thoughts could only bringregrets and remorse. This time it was the fact that he had left Carey insuch trouble, deserting her when she might most need him. Actually hedoubted whether he could have helped her more than he already had by hisadvice and encouragement; but this prompt physical departure from thescene had an air of callousness which shocked him when now hecontemplated it. Surely it would seem to her that he could cancelanything except business, and for anyone except her. If she mattered tohim, he ought to have stayed in Dublin for at least a few days, even ifhe had left Venton League and taken a room at a hotel. But perhaps, hereflected, the fact that he was now on his way elsewhere proved that shedidn't matter to him. It was an argument that made him uneasy, as ifin his bones, he wished her to matter to him and would suffer if itwere proved otherwise.

He wrote to her again from London, but there was no time for her toreply before he was off to Rome; he gave her an address there. If shedidn't reply, it might mean that she too had sized up the situation asone calling for caution, or at least for a meditative pause. During hisfirst week in Rome he glanced many times across the hotel desk to thepigeonhole where his mail was put when he had any; he was curious, butnot too anxious yet. No letter came from her; and then, as if to makethat a bad start in retrospect, other things began to go wrong too.Mussolini was neither in Rome nor willing to see him, and from asuccession of urgent cables it was clear how confidently and absurdlyMerryweather had been counting on a repetition of the Lloyd Georgefluke. Paul almost wished he could share the editor's concern; as itwas, he felt only increasing distaste for the kind of fraud he wasbeginning to think he was. Perhaps the sooner he failed as a journalistthe better, but it must be quick and catastrophic, before he couldrescue himself by another fluke. Because he so nearly had pulled offthat interview with Mussolini, and the reason for missing at the lastmoment had been nothing but his own caprice, if one could let it go atthat; he had neglected to exploit one of Rowden's letters ofintroduction to an Italian of wealth and influence. The man hadevidently liked Paul on sight and been ready to pull some final string,but Paul, after one short meeting, had fought shy of him from a personalsqueamishness as hard to admit as to ignore.

So having fluffed, he left Italy and traveled to Paris to await furtherword from Merryweather; if none came he could take it that there were nomore assignments for the time being. He certainly did not feel he couldreturn to Dublin to face Rowden's curiosity whetted by some likelycommunication from the Italian friend. The one thing that tempted wasthe chance to see Carey again, but even this did not preponderate tillafter a certain evening in Paris. He had gone alone to a performance ofthe Magic Flute; he did not as a rule care for operas, because hefound their dramatic foolishness hard to take, but this was asuperlative blend of music and spectacle that made everything elseforgettable and therefore tolerable; he sat entranced, and later,strolling along a boulevard, suddenly realized that not to see Careyagain, not to follow up their relationship, would be like avoidingMozart because one had once been bored by Bizet. At a sidewalk café hestopped for a drink, the goggle-eyed American in Paris to all misleadingappearance; for in truth he was lost in abstractions that soon becameself-incredulous--how unlikely that a seventeen-year-old Irish girlwhom he had talked to for no more than a few hours could not only haveoccupied his mind since then, but could now reach out to touch thetroubled parts of it! It occurred to him also, and as an afterthought,that no one before had so attracted him by sheerly femininequalities--the lilt of her voice from the first word of that firstencounter, her lips twisting when she smiled, even the piquantly allwrong quality she had given to a small stage part (the director's fault,not hers). But most of all, and never an afterthought, was the mysteryshe shared with all (and how few they were) who had it in them to make afingerpoint of contact with life through art--a feminine, creativemystery, the secret nerve that could break down every withholding inhimself, whether from man or woman.

He wrote again that night, telling her whimsically that Mussolini hadrefused to have anything to do with him, so he would soon have to returnto America, his travel-fellowship year being almost over; but he wouldlike to see her again before that. He didn't think he would revisitDublin, but if by any chance she could travel part of the way--toHolyhead, perhaps, or Liverpool... of course he could well imaginethere might be circumstances to prevent that, and he would fullyunderstand, but still, if it were at all possible to arrange arendezvous...

Even while he was writing he knew that part of him was counting on anegative answer or none at all, a rock-ribbed alibi for the rest of hislife, so that he could always tell himself he had done his best, he hadasked her anyway, it was fate and not he that had foreclosed. But atthis the battle was joined again, the feeling in his bones against thearguments of his brain. Eventually he tore up the letter and wroteanother, shorter and much more urgent; he told her he must see heragain; he would come to Dublin if necessary and if she were still there,but if not, then somehow, somewhere, anywhere...

By return came a note as short as his own. Legal matters, she said, hadcropped up in connection with her stepfather's small estate; there was alawyer in London she had to visit almost immediately--wouldn't London beas convenient for a meeting as Dublin?

More so, of course. He left Paris the next morning, having wired her toreach him at the Ellesmere Hotel, Euston Road. It was a cheap butrespectable place, all he could afford, and he remembered it becauseduring the war he had worked in an office of the United States Army justacross from Euston Station. That part of London he knew as well as NewYork, or Reedsville, Iowa, and for the same reason: he had been lonelythere.

* * *

The battle continued during his cross-Channel journey; first he wasbuoyant at the thought of seeing her so soon, then he half-regrettedhaving planned the meeting at all. As he entered the gloomy lobby of theEllesmere Hotel he even hoped for some unavoidable hitch (but it wouldhave to be unavoidable)--perhaps his wire had never been delivered,perhaps her own London trip had been canceled. Yet when, at the desk, heasked if there had been any inquiries for him and was told no, he feltacutely dismayed. The dismay increased during the next few hours; hecouldn't think what he would do with himself in London if she did notcome; perhaps he ought to wire her in Dublin again. He unpacked in thecomfortless third-floor bedroom; once the telephone rang, but it was themanager asking if he were a British subject--"I shouldn't have botheredyou, sir, but I noticed you gave an address in New York--we have to keepa record, you know, sir." Paul had sprung to the instrument with sucheagerness that he hardly knew how to reply through the deflation hefelt; he stammered: "What's that? Yes--I mean no--not British....American.... By the way, I'm expecting a call--you're sure therehasn't been one so far?"

It came much later, about nine o'clock, and he had waited in the bedroomall the time, not caring to go out for dinner--having no appetite, hediscovered, and as time passed not even the inclination to read. He layon the bed and wondered what was still happening to him--a newexperience, and he had always thought he would welcome one, whatever itwas; yes, he did welcome it; all over the world there must be millionsof young men concerned, as he was, about a girl; reassuring to findhimself like so many others... or was he? Suppose someone were tooffer him there and then a play to direct, a great play, wouldn't thathave power to preoccupy, to excite, to thrust everything else out of hismind? Wouldn't it? Or would it? After her first words--"Paul, is thatyou?"--he knew the answer; by God yes, it's I, it's me, bring on theplay, bring on a thousand plays, here I am, Paul Saffron, you haven'theard of me yet, but you will, you will....

"Carey.... Where are you?"

"I didn't know when you'd arrive--I've only just got here myself--thetrain was late.... Oh, darling, it's so good to hear your voiceagain."

"It is? You feel like that too?... Carey, I... I've so manythings to ask.... Where're you staying? How long will you be inLondon? I want to see a lot of you.... I do hope you won't be busyall the time...."

"As much as you want--it'll be several days at least. I'm staying withan aunt at Putney."

"Putney?"

"That's not far out. About an hour... Oh no, I'm not there yet--I'mat the station--Euston--I told you--I've only just arrived----"

"Euston?... Then what are we wasting time like this for? Just acrossthe street! Listen, Carey--under the clock in the station hall... gotthat?... A couple of minutes...."

He hung up, raced down the stairs rather than ring for the crawlinglift, and on his way across the lobby called out to the clerk in sheerexuberance: "Yes, I'm American--what do I have to do--register with thepolice or something?"

"No, sir--just for our records. Was that the call you were expecting?"

He snapped out a "You bet" that was lost in the segments of therevolving door.

Crossing the Euston Road (and it was drizzling with rain as it had beenso many times before), he thought of Dante's saying that the bitterestof all pangs was to remember happier days; put that in reverse and itwas equally true, for there was actual relish now in thinking of the waryear that he had spent so safely and drearily in London. Not that it hadbeen London's fault; he had liked the people and the city too, so far asit belonged to them in his mind and not to the associations of Armylife. That he had hated, utterly and absolutely, more probably than hewould or could hate anything else in life. The little square where thehut had been was now just a square again, rain-drenched lawns coveringso much drab and unrecorded experience; he could still call back thesmell of that interior, its mixture of stale smoke, gas heaters, chewinggum, human sweat. Men had swarmed in continuously from the great near-byterminals--Euston, St. Pancras, King's Cross; and it had been his job(the snob job, given him because of his better education, forsooth!) tohandle the officers, telling them where they had been allotted rooms,what to see in London during a few days' leave, the best shows, where tofind the best women. (Much joking about that, especially from an angleneither flattering to him nor true about him--but what could he do, orsay? So he had joined in the laughs, Pagliacci-style.) It was all so"cushy," to use the overworked British adjective then current--"cushy"to sit out the war in London with a telephone in one hand and filingcabinets within reach of the other--practically a hotel clerk inuniform, humorously servile, falsely jocular. He and a dozen otherclerks took turns at the job, day and night; they fed at a canteen andslept on Army cots in a commandeered boardinghouse in Southampton Row.They had varicose veins, weak hearts, hernias; he had his pituitarytrouble. They were decent fellows, and he tried to conceal from them hispassionate hope that when the war was over he would never see any ofthem again. Once or twice there were air raids, spicing the routine withexcitement rather than danger--Zeppelins like silver cigars in theblue-black sky. On his time off he wandered all over London, visitingmuseums and art galleries, but his secret contempt for the who, what,and when of military life made him fumble into all kinds of troubleabout dress and saluting. He got to know a few girls, one of whom,chance-met in the next seat at a concert, became a friend until she hadwaited for him once outside the Army office and been shocked byoverheard badinage. Neither of them had had enough importance to theother to be able to think it merely funny. He had made one man friendalso, an English policeman who sometimes idled into the office at nightsfor a chat over the stove. The policeman had a sister in Alberta and aromantic feeling about America as a whole. He took Paul several times tosupper at his little house near the Angel, Islington. Paul liked himfrom the moment he had said: "If I 'ad your job, mate, I'd shoot meself.'Avin' to put up with all them jokes from them officers and no chawnceto answer back--it's worse'n bein' a bloody bartender. Specially whenthey all think you've got it so cushy." It was true; he knew how he wasenvied by some of the men on their way to the front, and how little theyguessed there could be any way in which he envied them. Yet he did--andthen he didn't, so many times; there had been conflict, even in thosedays, between physical distaste (fear, too, but no more than anyone elsehad) and a mental longing to put himself to the test, to find out if hecould face what other men faced.

And now, three years later, he entered Euston Station, happilyremembering how miserable he had been.

* * *

As soon as he saw her he knew that their relationship was on a differentlevel, established at the house in Terenure that night, but sincefortified by time, absence, and--who could say?--perhaps by a telepathyof awareness between them. She rushed up to him in the station hall andlaughed her first words above the din of porters and luggage trucks."Oh, Paul--Paul--I never dreamed I'd see you so soon--I didn't know howto answer your letters at first--they sounded so cold, as if you didn'twant to see me again, but then when you said you did----"

"Carey, I did--I do--I've missed you--in such an extraordinary way.Carey, you look unbelievable.... Had dinner? No? Nor have I. Thisaunt of yours in Putney can wait.... Where's your luggage? Just theone bag? We'll take it along then."

They drove to a small French restaurant in Lisle Street that he knewof--quiet, informal, expensive. He had economized by staying at theEllesmere, but now he would be extravagant--he would ask Merryweatherfor more work, would write a hundred articles, would interview Lenin,Gandhi, Bernard Shaw, Suzanne Lenglen--the whole who's who of the world.That was his mood as he consulted the menu. Normally he was no gourmet,and his appetite was voracious rather than fastidious. But now hesuddenly hankered after delicacies--terrapin, caviare, frogs'legs--careless of how they mixed or what they cost; and it was she, intune with his emotion yet thinking of his pocketbook, who talked him outof the wilder whims. Eventually he compromised on smoked salmon, pouleten casserole, and a bottle of Heidsieck--forgetting that Rowden hadcalled champagne a wine for cocottes. And meanwhile they talked almostantiphonally, as if their respective concerns matched each other--hisfailure in Rome, her own bereavement in Dublin; the Magic Flute inParis, a new play at the Abbey in which (sure enough) she had beenoffered the fourteen-year-old part. But she had had to turn it down inorder to come to London. She didn't care--any more than he cared aboutMerryweather's disappointment. It was one of the few times in his lifehe had found anyone who could talk as much as he did without seeming tointerrupt or to wait anxiously for chances to butt in; a musical simileagain occurred to him--that they were somehow improvising on a keyboardof speech while their underlying thoughts made deeper harmony in whatwas left unsaid.

Over the coffee he remembered that aunt of hers. "Carey, hadn't youbetter telephone you'll be late?"

"She doesn't know I'm coming at all till I do telephone."

"She doesn't? Oh, fine. Then we don't have to worry, except that if theold lady goes to bed early----"

"She's not old. She's not much older than I am."

"No?"

"My mother was the eldest of fifteen and Sylvia's the youngest. She'smarried to a landscape gardener. They have three children and I don'tknow how many dogs--they breed them--wire-haired terriers all over theplace. It's good for children to live in an atmosphere like that.They've won any amount of prizes. The dogs, I mean." She made a grimace."All this must be so enthralling to you. Now tell me things like thatabout your own life--I wish you would--I hardly know anything aboutyou."

"You know all that matters."

"Ah yes, but tell me something that doesn't matter for a change."

"You mean I'm too serious? I talk too much about my ambitions?"

"Darling, no--how could you--to me? Our ambitions are so alike----"

"That's where you're wrong. Acting's a completely different functionfrom----"

"I daresay it is." She began to giggle. "I wouldn't argue about it forthe world. Oh Paul, you've got to humor me--I want some personalthing--about your childhood, schooldays, family--any little detail----"

He looked at her, stern at first because of the note of raillery in hervoice, as if she were daring to be amused by him. Then he softened, asone who can indulge a whim out of some deeper geniality of the spirit;he didn't really mind her laughing at him; his tolerance of that hadbeen set at their first meeting.

He said: "Not much to tell, Carey. I was born in Reedsville, Iowa. Smalltown. I went to grade school there. Then to high school and Iowa StateUniversity. My father was a farmer. He came fromPennsylvania--Pennsylvania-Dutch stock--Germany before that. My mother'sstill living--she's in Milwaukee with my brother and his wife. That'sabout all there is. I have no other brothers and sisters."

"And no girl? You don't have a girl in America? I don't know why I neverasked that before."

"I don't have a girl anywhere."

"You say that either forlornly or proudly. Which is it?"

"Neither. Just a fact. To tell you the truth, I--I don't seem to scorevery heavily with the other sex--as a rule--except as friends. At leastI haven't so far."

"So far," she echoed. "That's not very far."

He went on hurriedly: "How about you? I expect you're popular enoughwith all kinds of men."

"Some kinds. But I don't know many--even as friends. You can't, whenyou're only free one evening a week. They won't put up with that."

"Nonsense! If a man were to fall in love with you--hasn't that everhappened?"

"Yes."

"Well, did he object?"

"Object?"

"To your work--to seeing you only one night a week?"

"He saw me every night. He was acting with me."

"Oh then it was simple for you----"

"No--it didn't work."

"Why not? Didn't you love him?"

"I thought I did at the time. Perhaps I did. But it wasn't a success."

He asked sharply: "Why not? What happened? Which of you broke it off?"

"Oh, Paul..." She began to laugh. "You suddenly get so--sopouncy--like a prosecuting counsel--as if I were on trial----"

"Well, I'm curious. You were curious about me--you asked for somethingpersonal. What went wrong in this affair you had with this man?"

"It wasn't an affair--at least not that kind of affair. Perhaps that'swhy it went wrong. He wanted it to be."

"And you didn't?"

"No."

"Why? Moral reasons?"

"Partly. Maybe."

"Because you're a Catholic?"

"Maybe."

"But you're not sure?"

"The way you're cross-examining me I don't feel too sure of anything.You'd make a terrifying lawyer."

"I'm sorry. And I think you were quite right to refuse--atseventeen.... Though it's none of my business."

"It isn't really, is it? And I was sixteen then.... But it's myfault. I admit--I began all this questioning...."

"No, my fault--I'm much too inquisitive. Sixteen! Good God!"

"Now tell me if you've ever been in love."

"Me? Why... Why, yes... hundreds of times."

"That's like saying never."

"Carey, I assure you, I fall for every clever or beautiful woman Imeet--you mustn't think because I'm not a Casanova that there's anythingabout me that's--that's against women. It's just that--well, I supposeI'm not quite the type for these headlong passions, though no doubt oneof them will come along someday and bowl me over completely----"

"How convenient to have it come along like that. Nothing for you to dobut just wait."

"No, that's not my attitude, because--really--I should like--verymuch--to--to..." He began to color, then looked at his watch andlaughed. "Now who's cross-examining?"

"It's my turn again--isn't that fair? Besides, it's good for both of us.Wouldn't you like us to get to know each other really well?"

"Of course I would." He signaled the waiter and asked for more coffee.She said relaxingly: "Oh, I'm so glad you did that. When you looked atyour watch I thought you were going to say it was time we were leaving."

"It is, but I don't mind."

"Nor do I, though I haven't any idea how to get to Putney if I miss thelast train."

"We'll take a taxi."

"We? But you needn't bother to----"

"I certainly wouldn't dream of letting you go alone at this time ofnight--I don't know how far the place is or what it's like--it's absurdfor you to think of----"

"All right--all right--I give in."

The waiter refilled their cups. She said after a little silence: "I'mfinding you unbelievable too. When do you have to go back to America?"

"When the cash runs out. Not that I have any there except what I earn,so perhaps I could starve in London just as well.... I'm kidding--Iknow I won't starve. I can always write something. I'm not a bad writer.Not really good, but not bad either."

"I wish you were going to direct a play here."

"I wish I were going to direct a play anywhere."

"But here especially, then you could give me a chance."

She had said that jauntily, so he answered in the same vein: "And you'requite positive I'd do that?"

"Yes, because you said just now you were curious about me, and I thinkyou'd be curious to find out what you could make of me."

"I know what I could make of you." The boast startled him by itspromptness, then appalled him a little when he gave it a second thought.

"I half-believe you, Paul."

He said, continuing the joke: "And the other half I resent. Still it'sgood to know you'd even be willing to stay in London if you were offeredenough inducement--say Candida or Desdemona, with your name in lightsand a thumping salary."

"You don't really think I'm as arrogant as you, do you?"

"So you think I am?"

"You have to be. You couldn't make anything of me--or even ofyourself--unless you were.... See, I do understand you a bit. Willthe cash last a week--or ten days perhaps?"

"Could you stay too? How soon will your business with the lawyer befinished?"

"Darling, there isn't any lawyer. I didn't really have to come to Londonat all. Now you know."

He felt an unclassifiable emotion for a second, sharp and intense: thenhe diagnosed it as sheer pleasure and took extra pleasure in so doing."So you wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see you? That makes usquits. But why invent an excuse?"

"In case you felt burdened with responsibility for bringing me here. Incase you'd changed your mind about me again. You do change your mind.First you like me--then you think because I'm a girl you can't like me.Or else you don't want to dare to like me, or don't dare to want to likeme, or something. So I thought if that were to happen you might feelbetter if I had another reason for coming."

He said seriously: "That was very considerate of you."

Because in a way he knew it was, and he was impressed: he was also awarethat their whole conversation since meeting had been a succession ofmoods on both sides, never clashing but never identical as if they wereboth breathlessly sparring for position in some game that had as yetscarcely begun and might turn out to be not entirely a game.

He added: "But you've told me now. You've burned your boats. Or burnedmine. Which is it?"

"I don't know. But I promise you this--if you do change your mind againI'll go back to Dublin without any fuss."

"That's a threat, not a promise. And all this about changing mymind--I'm not so fickle--it's only that I'm a bit scared when I rememberother times I've tried...." What he really meant, but would not exactlysay, was that his few previous affairs had disappointed him as aestheticexperiences while at the same time they had satisfied him as biologicaldemonstrations. "And that's why... with you... the closer I get toknowing you the more I like you, and therefore the more... the moreI want to take care not to have anything spoil the relationship. Likebetting on the same number--the oftener you win, the more amazing it is,and the more nervous you get about doubling the stakes." He stirredrestlessly, then forced a laugh. "Far too subtle, all this. The reallyworst fate for any human relationship is to be analyzed to death."

"Paul, perhaps the mistake you made was to try too hard--those othertimes."

"I didn't mean try in the sense of make an effort. I meant trylike--like sampling something."

"Oh I see. To discover how you felt?"

"Yes. An experiment that wasn't too successful. But with you I almostknow how I feel."

"In advance? Without the--the sampling?"

"That's how it seems. Remember the Oscar Wilde remark--about the spireof a cathedral? It's that kind of moment for me now--meeting you likethis... here. It's--it's superb. In fact the real danger is if I wereto develop one of those headstrong passions--I never have before,but----"

"Oh, darling--for me? If only you would."

"You--wish--that?"

"It would be fun. Maybe that's what you never had before--fun. And I'mquite enough in love with you--I daresay you guessed----"

"You--what? Carey, you're joking----"

"I'm serious too. Did you never guess how I felt?"

"I--I wondered--sometimes--if--if such a thing were possible."

She touched his arm across the table. "Oh Paul... don't... don'tbe so humble." Her eyes brimmed over. "I expect it's the first timeanyone ever said that to you--and a few minutes ago I was calling youarrogant. But where's the danger? I don't see any. Because I'm tooyoung?"

"No, not exactly--though that's a reason why it would be speciallyunfair to you if it didn't work out."

"But it might. At least it might."

"It didn't between you and that actor."

"I told you why that was."

"I know, and an excellent reason, as I said."

"But I don't think it could apply to us--to you."

"Oh, and why not? Why are you so sure I wouldn't want what he wanted?"

"Paul, don't pounce on me like that--of course I'm not sure at all----"

"Then why couldn't it apply to me?"

"Only because of my answer if you did ask. I'm different now--not only ayear older... but--well, I told you--I'm in love with you enough."

He was so touched he felt shocked, as by the revelation of some hithertounsuspected compound of guilt and innocence inside himself. He muttered:"Carey, what the hell are we talking about? Let's get the bill."

* * *

They didn't go to Putney, but to a hotel in South Kensington. On a veryfew previous occasions when Paul had embarked on an adventure like this,the moment when he first knew there would be no refusal had been one ofdismay, even dejection, as if his sufficient pleasure had been in themere pursuit of an uncertainty. But now there was no dismay, and itsabsence would alone have made the experience unique. There was, however,between Carey and himself a more positive novelty, and this hediscovered gradually and with delight; it was a tenderness that flowedover the raw edges of rapture and gave to all functioning an aspect ofinevitability. Till then he had sometimes thought that if all forms ofsexual behavior could only be energized artistically in terms of theateror ballet, then his problem would be solved, since directorially hecould be the spectator or participant in any proportion he chose, andnobody would question or deny him credit. But now, with Carey, theproblem was nonexistent; and with this perfect outcome the quality thathad attracted him first of all in her voice was able to entrance overthe whole range of sensibility. It was as if, he told himself at thetime and later told her, it was as if her body had brains. Naturallyfrom him this was the supreme tribute, causing him to add another to hisshort list of ambitions; it was to marry her.

So they were married, after the necessary period of waiting, at aregistry office in the Strand. A Catholic priest had previously declinedto solemnize a mixed marriage except on conditions, but later, onlearning that a civil ceremony had already taken place, he complied. Theservice, at a church in Putney, was attended by Aunt Sylvia and herhusband; after which the couple enjoyed a gay wedding breakfast amongthe wire-haired terriers. Paul was, for the first time in his life,superlatively happy; a cloud that had seemed to overshadow him waslifted, and in the unimagined radiance he realized how dark it hadsometimes been. He wrote exultant letters to his mother, to Rowden, toMerryweather, and to half a dozen others. All sent theircongratulations, except Rowden, and Merryweather was generous besides;he suggested some articles about England and enclosed a check onaccount.

They spent a week at a seaside hotel by way of honeymoon; then oneafternoon Paul took Carey to Hampstead, a part of London he especiallyliked. Careful search yielded nothing they could afford except a smallsecond-floor flat (first floor, as the English called it), but it wasconveniently close to the Tube station as well as to an old-fashionedpublic house where, of an evening, writers and artists mingled withartisans and clerks in mutual unawareness of any trick successfullyperformed. Paul fitted easily into this society, and it was soon knownwho he was; he made friends and enemies as promptly as always, but fewerenemies than usual, since much was forgiven a stranger and a goodtalker, and it was also possible that his private happiness surroundedhim with a visible aura of fellowship. Anyhow, it was in this pub thathe met a man named Henry Foy who owned and subsidized a theater in theneighborhood--an old barn of a place, full of dry rot, moth-eatenscenery, and other drawbacks, but not too far from the Tube, andtherefore accessible to a London West End theater audience. Comfortablyoff, unmarried, and in his fifties, Foy was something of a dilettante;he had produced and directed plays himself, but so poorly that criticshad generally ignored him except by attending his parties, which werefrequent and colorful. He was a likably gregarious personality, andthere was no doubt that if he ever did anything remotely worth whileeveryone would jump to praise him. Besides a passion for the theaterwhich did not quite amount to devotion, he had a certain flair for newideas and a willingness to try them which a more balanced mind or a morerestricted pocketbook might well have checked. He had put on such playsas Brieux's Les Hannetons, Hauptmann's Hannele, and Ibsen's LittleEyolf, but none of these had done well, or attracted much comment. Nottill he tried Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore did fortune smile:certain local groups objected to the title in lights over the theaterentrance, a newspaper controversy was stirred up, and many Londonersthereby discovered the existence and (even more important) thewhereabouts of the Nonesuch Theatre. It was just after this succès descandale that Foy met Paul and was instantly captured by the idea of anall-Negro Othello except for a white Othello (that random product ofgood wine and good talk at the Venton League dinner table). Foy wantedto stage it immediately, for it was the sort of thing he had always beenhappy to lose money over, like The Duchess of Malfi in modern dress,or Hauton Timorumenos as a musical comedy. They left the pub arm inarm. Carey between the two men; at Foy's big house in Well Walk theytalked till long past midnight, electrically conscious that somethingimportant had happened in their lives. Unfortunately, as they found nolater than the next morning, there were not enough Negro actors then inLondon to make the project feasible; but by that time Foy was keen onthe play even if it were to be produced normally: or rather, he washypnotized into a belief that anything with Paul in control would bebetter than anything else. It was luck indeed for Paul to have met sucha man. Within a few hours Foy had engaged him to direct and choose acast, and what had once been a joke became suddenly and fatefullytrue--Carey Arundel as Desdemona. A great chance for her, undoubtedly,and in grabbing it she was to learn much about acting and Shakespeareand herself, but even more about the man she had married.

* * *

The first thing she discovered was that his work made him a changedperson. He was possessed, and by something that could excusably becalled a devil since angelic possession exacts no price in sweat andfury. It had one curious and immediate effect; he was only in his latetwenties, yet as soon as he took the stage he seemed old enough for noone to think of him disparagingly as young--at least ten years wereadded in appearance, plus an indefinable quality that made Foy onceremark to Carey: "Is he aiming to be a maestro, or does it comenaturally? It's a Continental trick--English and Americans as a ruledon't pick it up." Carey was more surprised than Foy, because her ownlimited theater experience had prepared her so little for the effortthat Paul demanded from everyone around him, including herself. It was ademand outrageous enough to stifle the protest that anything morereasonable might have drawn. For he had made it clear from the outsetthat he must be taken as he was or not at all; that being established,the situation left no opening for lukewarmness or compromise. Very soonshe came to know what he had meant by defining a director's role as thecommunication of excitement. Hour after hour were spent, not in speakingor memorizing lines (which, in the beginning, he made light of) but indiscussing the play from every angle until a law of diminishing returnsseemed to operate and arguments became sharper without being morehelpful. Up to that point, however, he had incited controversy, onedispute over the precise motivation of Iago's behavior grew so heatedthat the actor taking that part walked off the stage in a huff. Pauldragged him back, exclaiming loudly enough to be heard by all the rest:"D'you realize what you've been doing? Here's a complex academic pointin the interpretation of a character in a play written three hundredyears ago--yet today on this stage you were almost coming to blows aboutit!"

Iago began to stammer apologies.

"No, no," Paul interrupted. "It's wonderful! Because it shows we'vetaken the first step--we're beginning to think the characters matter tous--we're shouting about them as if they were people we know. That'swhat I hoped for. But now comes the next step. Understanding is abasis for emotion, but no substitute. From now on we must begin tofeel. The mind has had its feast--now comes the turn of the heart."

Paul had a store of such gaudy sayings about acting and theatercraft:"Just as the stage is larger than life, so words about it can afford tobe bigger and more extravagant" was another of them. They did not alwaysprobe deeply, but they decorated his instruction and were apt to seemtalismanic towards the end of a grueling rehearsal. He got along wellwith the cast; he was thoughtful of them as artists, and the excitementhe generated helped them to endure his occasional tantrums. As usual,there was no one at the Nonesuch Theatre shrewd enough to find outexactly how little Paul had done in New York, so he could magnify thatachievement, not only for personal vainglory but because he knew thatthe greater they thought he was the luckier they would think themselves.In all this he was sustained by his own passionate belief in himself asa child of destiny in the theater; he was like a poor man writingpost-dated checks for large sums but with complete assurance that he washonest.

During this time his private happiness with Carey was equallysustaining, though he spent few daytime hours alone with her, and therewas no moment of their lives, however intimate, which he was incapableof turning into a lecture or a lesson or some fragment of a rehearsal.In a half-amused way she relished this, for her own ambition had beenrejuvenated and she was beginning to realize, not yet how much she waslearning, but how little she had ever known before. She found she couldhelp him too by her own greater tact in handling countless smallsituations--a stage carpenter he had unwisely yelled at, the landlady oftheir flat who objected to Mozart on the phonograph at two A.M. He wasusually inconsiderate about such matters. One thing, however, seemedlarge enough for her real concern--his attitude towards Henry Foy. Paulhad become cool to the man, treating him offhandedly at rehearsals,sometimes omitting to consult him on points that were clearly in atheater owner's and play backer's province. Carey rather liked Foy, whowas always genial, conciliatory, and generous alike with hospitality andadvice. But Paul declined to weigh all this. "Look, Carey, let's faceit--at bottom he's an amateur, a dabbler--he's actually a nuisance atrehearsals--if I can make him stop attending them so much the better."

"But surely the man has a right to potter about his own theater."

"No, not if he gets in the way. When he signed me to direct he delegatedhis rights--it's like a ship that carries the president of the line--thecaptain still gives the orders even though the other man owns theoutfit."

"But I'm sure a tactful captain tries to say a few polite words to thepresident now and again."

"I've never been impolite. I'm just too busy to go to his parties andsit up half the night listening to pseudo-artistic claptrap."

"I thought you enjoyed his parties. That first night we went to hishouse and stayed for hours--you were so enthusiastic."

"Only because I knew I'd talked him into engaging me. I thought most ofhis ideas were half-baked, but it was worth while to let him believe Iwas impressed."

"You know, Paul, you scare me sometimes--you're so utterly shameless.Don't you ever feel that Harry's giving you a big chance?"

"I'm giving him a chance too. So far he's done nothing but lose moneyand fool around, but now he's due for a huge success and his preciouslittle flea-bitten theater will become famous all over London."

"You really are quite sure of that, aren't you?"

"Yes. Aren't you?"

"Darling, of course."

He went on, scrutinizing her: "I think I can read your mind. You'rewondering if I was equally sure in New York. You were wondering that,weren't you?" (It was true, she had been.) "Well, the answer's yes. Andthe plays flopped. I don't admit that to others, but you probablyguessed anyhow.... And what does it prove? That I can be wrong? Doesthat need proving?... All I can say is, count on me this time.Carey, it's terribly important that you should feel about it as I do.You have to."

She smiled and told him she did. She knew by now the rich support hetook from her, and her satisfaction in that was almost enough to createthe faith he asked for.

With her own performance in the play he was both patient and severe.After the first week she said unhappily: "You don't seem to likeanything I do. I'd hate to spoil the play and from the way youcriticize----"

"I criticize the others just as much, only you don't hear me. I nevercriticize anyone in the presence of anyone else."

She was a little relieved by that, but still troubled. "I can't helpwondering, though, if I'm equal to a part like this. Perhaps someactress with more experience in Shakespeare----"

"Carey, you're not losing your ambition! You wouldn't give up now?"

"Not if I can satisfy you, but if I can't--I couldn't bear not to--andthere'll be some other play later on--something easier, maybe----"

"Oh?" He assumed the attitude which she called his "pounce." "And whatmakes you think you'd be any better in anything easier? I suppose you'rehankering after some frothy little comedy where you have to lightcigarettes and mix cocktails all the time! Don't kid yourself--you'd bejust as bad in that if you're bad at all. But you aren't bad, andyou're going to be good--you're going to be very good! Don't youbelieve in yourself yet?"

There was no answering this sort of thing. Logical or not, it hadrallying power. But she could not help marking the contrast between hisfirst cautious opinion of her in Dublin and his unbounded optimism now;surely the change which that represented was in him far more thancould possibly have happened in the quality of her acting. Yet she feltalso that there was no conscious insincerity in his enthusiasm--that hisown mind, under the hypnosis of the task, swung continually between thesame poles--never satisfied, always confident. But what really tickledher was the way this attitude extended itself even to the play and theauthor; in Dublin he had often criticized Shakespeare, but now, as therehearsals progressed, Shakespeare became faultless and Othello thegreatest play ever written in the history of the world.

One afternoon she met Foy in the street near his house. He asked her tocome inside and see some designs for scenery that had just arrived."Oppeler should have sent them to Paul, not to me--try to convince yourhusband this is no plot against his authority." His eyes twinkled as hesaid this, and she liked him for sharing with her an understanding ofPaul that the latter would have vehemently denied.

The designs she thought excellent, though she knew she was no judge.They had been suggested in a general way by Paul himself after longsessions with the artist; Foy's willingness to spend freely, and hisalmost naïve pleasure in giving Paul anything he wanted, touched her asit always did. She stayed for a while, enjoying conversation that wascomfortable and, for a change, unexciting. Then, with the designs underher arm, she returned to the flat.

Paul was sitting hunched over the living-room fire. He had taken a chilland had been dosing himself unsatisfactorily since early morning. He wasinclined to baby himself over such things, and she thought there weresigns in his posture that he had assumed it too quickly on hearing herfootsteps on the stairs. She was beginning to find out these thingsabout him now, and to love him all the more generously for most of them.He was a bad actor, as he often said; indeed, he said it so often thatshe wondered if he hoped that someday he would be contradicted. But shewas willing enough to humor him, to fit herself into whatever dramacould compensate him for a bad cold. She put her arm affectionatelyround his shoulder and felt him pretend (she was sure it was that) to bestartled. "Hello, darling--still feeling rotten?... Look atthese--Harry sent them over." She gave him the folio of drawings,watching his face for a verdict. To her surprise he glanced at only afew of them, casually, then let them slip to the floor.

"Don't you think they're good? Or would you rather not bother about themnow? They can wait.... How about some coffee, or a stiff drink,maybe?"

He said sharply, looking up: "Why did Oppeler send them to Foy?"

"I don't know, and neither does Harry--he particularly asked me to tellyou it wasn't his fault they didn't come direct to you. They shouldhave, he knows it."

"That relieves my mind enormously."

"Oh now, Paul, don't talk like that. How could he help it if the artistmade a mistake?"

"These drawings seem to be another of his mistakes."

"You really haven't looked at them yet."

"Enough to know that I'd rather do without scenery altogether. He'llhave to try again."

"They're as bad as that?"

"How bad do they have to be? If they aren't good enough, they're bad."

"Are you sure Oppeler's the right man? Perhaps someone else----"

"Of course he's the right man. He's the best set designer in London ifhe ever gets a chance to prove it."

"Tell him that, then he'll want to try again." She wondered how farhis obduracy was loyalty to the artist or to his own judgment inchoosing him, but whatever it was, the switch from attack to defense wascharacteristic. While she was thinking of this he turned on hersuddenly. "How did it happen you got these from Foy?"

"I met him in the street and he told me they'd just come."

"He had them with him?"

"No. They were at his house."

"So you went to his house?"

"Yes."

"What time did you meet him?"

"I--I don't know--about two o'clock. Or soon after."

"It's four now. How long did you stay at his house?"

"Perhaps an hour. Does it matter?"

"How could you spend a whole hour there? He's such a bore----"

"He doesn't bore me. We just talked."

"What about?"

"The theater, of course--the play--you--me--him--he likes you so much."She said that because he always liked to hear that people liked him,even if he didn't like them, but this time there was no response exceptthe sort of sarcasm that might have come from a bookish schoolboy; hesaid: "Again my mind is infinitely relieved."

She faced him with dawning astonishment. "Paul... what's happened?Why are you talking about Harry like this?"

"Harry?... So you call him Harry?"

"So do you. So does everybody--we did from our first meeting, didn't we?Paul... please... it can't be that you--oh no, that would be tooridiculous."

He stood up with his back to the fire, his face flushed, eyes glinting."Carey, I'm not a fool--do you suppose I haven't noticed the way youlook at that man every time he comes to the theater? And his manner toyou--he knows he attracts you--no wonder he won't miss a rehearsal. Andthe other day when he made all that fuss about something in his eye--achildish maneuver----"

"But there was something, a little fly, and I got it out."

"He didn't have to ask you! Any excuse, though--these drawings areanother----"

"Paul! This is really funny... almost.... You think a man puts afly in his eye just for the pleasure of----"

"Carey, tell me this, why should he ask you to his house? Why not sendover the drawings by messenger--he has servants and its only a fewblocks away! And an hour--with him--just for talk. How much do youexpect me to swallow?"

She was speechless for a moment; it was now beyond a joke, and as fullawareness of what was happening took possession of her, she found shehad no voice for anything but a few scattered sentences. "Paul, you knowI love you. Are we actually quarreling--and about something so utterlybeyond reason?... I don't know what to say, except that... yoursuspicion... any suspicion you can possibly have... about anything...is just plain silly. You believe me, Paul, don't you?"

He stared at her with hard eyes. "I believe you're becoming a very goodactress."

That changed her mood abruptly; she stepped away from him in a cold ragethat made her feel physically sick. "All right. What more can I say?...It would be wasted time. I'm going out for a walk.... Take yourtemperature and see if you still have a fever. Maybe that's what'sdriving you crazy."

She dashed out of the room, snatching hat and coat on the way to thedoor. In the street a car just missed her as she ran across. She knewpeople were staring; she heard the man who had nearly run her downcalling after her in anger. She checked her pace and turned into thefirst side street. A few yards along this she heard footsteps overtakingher; Paul, disheveled and panting, seized her arm and pulled her roughlyto a standstill. "Come back--come back----" he gasped.

Even at such a moment there was faint comedy in the thought that he whohated to run had actually been forced into a chase. She might have begunto smile had not she seen that his own gasps and chokings were partly oflaughter. That made her more furious than ever. "No--leave me alone--Idon't want to talk to you."

"Carey--come back--I'll explain everything----"

"Please let me take my walk."

"But I want to explain--I can't talk to you while you're walking--Carey,darling--come back.... I've got a temperature--I oughtn't to be outhere in the cold air----"

Two things leaped to her mind--first, that he had called her "darling".He never had before--it was a word that did not come easily to him,except ironically or extravagantly when he addressed others. The secondthing was his temperature. A gust of anxiety shook her about that. Shelet him lead her back to the flat without further protest and wentstraight to the bathroom for the thermometer.

"Only just over ninety-nine," he said, following her and waving theinstrument aside. "I took it just now--nothing to worry about. Let'shave that drink."

By this time her own emotions were too confused to seek expression. Shefelt weak and empty of concern, one way or another. "I must rest for aminute, Paul. This kind of thing upsets me."

He came beside her, kneeling on the floor by the chair and pressing herhand to his face.

"Listen to me, Carey--no need to be upset... just let me explain...don't interrupt...."

"I'm too tired to interrupt."

"Carey, I want to talk to you--about jealousy. Sexual jealousy. It's aterrible thing. It destroys the mind, it warps the judgment--it can makeclever people stupid and stupid people murderous--it infects--itpoisons--and when the victim's innocent the others become innocent too,but in a horrible kind of way.... Do you remember how you firstreacted--the feeling you had when I told you my suspicion? You werestupefied. Not indignant, at first--not angry--not even protesting... but bewildered. The look on yourface--blank--expressionless--uncomprehending. Then later you told mevery simply how much you loved me, how wrong I was.... Only afterthat, when I said I still didn't believe you--only then you got madand lost your temper... for which I don't blame you a bit.... Didyou ever notice the eyes of a dog that hasn't done what he's accused of,but because master is master his only reaction is innocence itself--thesheer acceptance of limitless injustice from the limitlessly beloved?You have to think of animals nowadays to visualize that--a modernheroine isn't capable of it. But Desdemona was, the poor sucker, andit's the key to the whole interpretation--you have to play the first twoattitudes--bewilderment and pure heartbreaking innocence--without evertouching the third one--anger! See?... And by the way, there was onetrue thing I said--that you were becoming a good actress. That's whatstruck me as funny--to pay you my first real compliment and have youstalk out of the room as if you'd been insulted!... But those twothings--hang on to them, won't you?--first the bewilderment, then thesimple statement of innocence.... Why, what's wrong? What's thematter?"

"I think I'm beginning to find out--what's the matter--with you."

He laughed again, but comfortably now--a chuckle, as at a practical jokeso comic that the victim should at least be sporting enough to smile."Carey, don't you see--I wanted you to learn from the heart, not fromthe mind! And you did--even my bad acting took you in completely. GoodGod, it must have done, for you to think that... and Harry of allpeople!... But I believe it'll help you to feel the character--she'sa difficult dame, probably the hardest of all Shakespeare's heroines,because the way she takes a beating isn't really meekness, it's a sortof strength in disguise. Fascinating the way it builds up during thecourse of the play--if you'd like us both to go over it again--thehandkerchief scene, begin with----"

"Oh no, no. It isn't so much the part that's troubling me now."

"Good. I'm glad you feel more confident."

She couldn't control her tears of pity for him as well as of fadinganger and growing relief, but there was a glimpse of horror in his readyassumption that all was well, that his explanation, once made, couldinstantly undo all the mischief.

He continued jauntily: "Remember in Dublin I said that when an actorfeels an emotion intensely it's natural for him to act? Here's thecorollary--that to make him act you must sometimes make him feelintensely... shock treatment... to get the final rightness--to pinit down once and for all. We'll know tomorrow if that's happened toyou."

"Something else may have happened too. Isn't it a bit dreadful, Paul, tobe willing to risk so much? Supposing you hadn't caught up with me inthe street--suppose I'd had hours to walk and think and worry...Wouldn't it have mattered to you at all? Perhaps you'd have laughed allthe more.... And I nearly got run over." She began to laugh herselfat last, though with a touch of hysteria. "Quite a joke, on every score.And all those things you said about Harry--the nonsense youinvented--how can you use your friends like that?"

"Now look, Carey, I only called him a bore--and I think he is, but ifyou don't, that's fine--he's not a bad fellow, we both know that...."Then he caught a note behind her laughter that made him add, in simplewonderment: "You aren't really upset, are you?... Oh, if you are,I'm sorry. I'm a son of a bitch at times like this--I have the damnedplay on my mind--I don't think of anything else. But if you ever leaveme I don't know what I'll do.... That's what I was thinking all thetime I was talking the nonsense--I was thinking: Suppose it was true,suppose you were carrying on with Harry or some other man... whatwould I do?"

She was laughing now in the sheer pleasure of hearing him confess somuch. "Strangle me, perhaps, as in the play?"

"No, I'd think you were lucky and I deserved what I got, because I knowI'm not good enough for you. I mean that, Carey."

They made love, then had drinks, then looked over the drawings to decidewhat had to be changed. By that time it was dusk and he declared hiscold to be so much better that he would enjoy a good dinner in town, sothey went to the restaurant in Lisle Street in a mood of celebration.After the bizarre events of the day she was very happy.

The extraordinary thing was that when she rehearsed in the morning therewas such a marked improvement in her performance that she startledherself as well as the others. For the first time in her life sheenjoyed an experience that was later to become the thing aimed for--asudden swimming bliss in which her own self split effortlessly into twoidentities, the one Desdemona, the other a calm observer of herselfacting. When she finished there was no need for Paul to tell her she hadbeen excellent. She knew it in her bones, with a warm satisfaction thatmade it pleasant to reply quietly: "You said I would be, didn't you?"

Paul, of course, enjoyed no such serenities. Nor, she was sure, didthere ever come to him a sense of incredibility in the contrast betweenthis terrific emotional and creative effort on the part of a dedicatedfew and the apathy of the multitude which, if the play were to succeed,it must conquer and divert. She had an idea that Paul regarded audiencestoo arrogantly even to think of this, much less to be appalled by it: hewould give people not what they wanted, but what he wanted, thusinvolving him in the further task of making them want what he wanted.No one could essay this without an eagerness to be consumed, and it wastrue that as opening night approached, Paul reached flashpoint; hiswhole being clenched into a total effect of alertness, so that it couldbe said that he neither saw nor heard, but constantly watched andlistened. She wondered how he could keep it up, but she guessed thatsome of the physical energy he forbore to expend was somehow transmutedinto these more combustible channels. Yet there was nothing of theconventional ascetic about him; he ate prodigiously (he could do thiswithout gaining weight during such stressful days), drank quite enough,smoked cigars all the time, sat up half the night, and fell intodreamless sleep from about four A.M. till ten. While he was asleep hisbreathing was often imperceptible, he rarely turned or stirred, and hisface, usually pale because he spent so little time out of doors, becamepaler still; there was only one word that occurred to her, though shetried never to think of it--he looked dead, as if he had switched offthe waking turbine by some act of deliberation. Physically he grewlazier as the ultimate ordeal approached; he would call a taxi for theshort distance to the theater, and during later rehearsals he would sitin one of the back-row seats for hours on end, summoning actors next tohim for private talk. Or else Foy would arrive with news about programs,posters, advertisements, box-office arrangements, and be regallymotioned to another adjacent seat to wait his turn. Paul had a livelyfinger in every pie, and was quite capable of making the size of theticket stubs an issue for first-class bickering. It was against hisnature to delegate authority, he much preferred to enlist willingslaves; and perhaps Carey's appeal to him to treat Foy more generouslydid have some effect, for during the final weeks of preparation Paulreceived him back to favor in the role of an overburdened butunfailingly cheerful office boy.

To Carey the kind of man she had married became a source of increasingwonderment. She was aware of his separateness in a world she could notinvade with him, and when he returned to her, as from this world, it wasoften to talk of its glories in a way that might have bored her had shenot loved him. She knew him too well now to expect him to share so manysimple things that she enjoyed--a few hours taking potluck at a localcinema, fun with the landlady's cat, a walk on Hampstead Heath in themorning, with the yellow autumn sun peering through mists above London'srooftops. Yet she remembered that their first real acquaintance had beenduring a long walk in Phoenix Park, and that on the night before he leftDublin he had actually walked the mile or so from Rowden's house to herown in Terenure. Walking thus became a symbol of what he had once done,for her and with her, but would no longer do. Was it because, as withhis first cordiality to Foy, he could always bring himself to do thingsif he thought them worth while for some personal end? She did not muchcare. If he had been so keen to know her that he had paid a price of anykind, it only proved how keen he had been. And he still was, she knewthat, because he had explored so much more of the ways in which shecould help him. She sometimes thought that after the crisis oflovemaking came a second and perhaps to him a deeper one that had grownup out of her own subconscious desire to play whatever part he cast herfor; in this she would cradle him in an embrace that was almost sexless,yet as close to him (she felt instinctively) as she could ever get.

Once he talked about his mother in Milwaukee. "She doesn't get on toowell with my brother and his wife. The first thing I'll do when I'vemade some money is to take her away somewhere else--New York, London,anywhere--she wouldn't mind, so long as it's near me.... I supposeyou're surprised to find I have an ambition in life that isn't connectedwith the theater?"

"Yes," she answered. "But I'm rather glad. It seems to give me achance."

* * *

It would be an exaggeration to say that Paul Saffron's Othello(Shakespeare's being a name too well known to be worth mentioning), atthe Nonesuch Theatre, Hampstead, on December Twenty-Seventh,Nineteen-Twenty-Two, made theatrical history; it was, however, a bigevent in the lives of both Paul and Carey, because it was their firstsuccess together, so they could both feel they were lucky for eachother. The London press was favorable, and since praise for aShakespeare play is primarily for the production, Paul could not havefound a better vehicle to advertise himself. Carey was praised too, herperformance being hailed by one important reviewer as "the onlyDesdemona I ever saw who didn't seem more dumb than innocent."

In other respects Paul's optimistic prophecies proved wrong. Foy did notmake any fortune, nor did his theater achieve the fame that wouldestablish it in the regular West End firmament (indeed, the controversyabout 'Tis Pity She's a Whore had given it far more spectacularpublicity). The truth was that only a limited number of people wished tosee Othello, however well done, and only a limited number of thesewould make the journey by Tube to Hampstead. The play, moreover, hadbeen staged so expensively, to meet Paul's every whim, that it couldyield only a moderate profit if the house were always full, and afterthe first few weeks there were enough empty seats to whittle down anyaccumulated surplus. All of which might have been called adisappointment by those who remembered Paul's extravagant forecasts.Paul was not one of them. He seemed unperturbed, even bored by thebox-office returns, and once he casually remarked that he had neverexpected financial success at all, and that the excellent criticalnotices were a complete satisfaction of his aim. Whether or not this wastrue, Carey reached a tentative conclusion that in the larger sense hewas indifferent to money; what he did want were plaudits, power,prestige, and the satisfaction of a boundless artistic ego--plus, ofcourse, enough of someone else's money to spend and if necessary tolose. There remained, however, a question she could not answer eitherthen or whenever afterwards it recurred--was his tremendous,all-embracing optimism before the opening night of any of his playsauthentic, or part of an enthusiasm deliberately generated as part ofthe basic strategy of stage direction? Or, to put it another way, did healways fool himself when he fooled others?

Something else emerged as an insight into his make-up: the play beingnow launched, he clearly suffered a kind of spiritual anticlimax. Heidled and became restless, flinging himself into occasionalre-rehearsals as if in desperate intent to recapture something. Duringthe nightly performances he would watch from the wings in a state ofexcitement mainly self-induced because he felt it his continuing duty toinspire and encourage, but the effort wore thin at times, and on the wayhome afterwards he was often morose until she had cheered him, as shealways could and did.

Othello lasted twelve weeks and then ended not because of Foy'sinsistence on a profit (as Paul wrote years later in a book ofreminiscences, though it would not have been too unreasonable even iftrue), but because Paul himself had by that time received several offersto direct plays in the real West End and had already chosen one ofthem--with a part for Carey, of course. Foy sized up the situationshrewdly and was amiable enough to do so without resentment. It had beenall right while it lasted, he told Carey, though he added: "You probablythink Paul and I have got along pretty well, but actually there've beena few times when I'd have punched his nose if I hadn't remembered thathitting a genius is like hitting a woman--except that they deserve itoftener."

"So you'd call Paul a genius?"

"I wouldn't dare deny it if someone else challenged me. Just watchinghim taught me more about the theater in four months than I'd learnedbefore in twenty years. He made me feel an amateur."

She knew him almost well enough to reply: "That's what he said youwere," but it would have been too much the sort of riposte that Paulhimself could never have resisted. Yet there was, between her and Foy,and later between her and many other people, an awareness of Paul as aphenomenon to be discussed in a spirit of detached investigation, withno sense of personal disloyalty and little capacity to be startled oreven hurt by what was revealed.

"So you see," Foy added, "it's been an experience for me and asteppingstone for him--now he can push ahead and discover the facts oflife, such as how many seats in the house, how much per seat, how muchon the weekly salary sheet--that kind of thing. He's so wonderful ateverything else, he really ought to learn arithmetic.... Anyway, Iwish him well and I hope he scores a real hit with the new play."

Paul didn't. It was a flop--so instant and ignominious that he crossedthe Atlantic immediately.



Part Two


One day about seven years later she was driving with Paul to the PoconoMountains. Their play had closed down for the summer and it was a reliefto escape from the heat of New York to the scarcely cooler but much moreendurable countryside. They had a house near Stroudsburg and would spendJuly and August there; Carey loved the place, and if Paul treated it asa necessary boredom to be lived through from time to time, she was sureit did him good in many ways he would have strenuously denied. Theservants from the apartment had gone on ahead and everything would be inorder when they arrived--much more so, doubtless, than ever again duringtheir stay, for Paul had a habit of disrupting household arrangements intown and country alike.

She had made this journey often enough for the Delaware Water Gap tohave become a symbol of holiday, the mental borderline of work andrelaxation. Now, as she saw it again, she could not restrain herdelight. "Paul, it's so good to be here at last--it makes me know howmuch I needed this." The words and the way she spoke them sounded olderthan her looks, which were at the full radiance of twenty-four; butearly success and early marriage had built in her an illusion ofmaturity that was at least as real as a part well played. She sometimesthought that the ways in which Paul had never grown up were compensatedfor by those in which she herself had done so, fast and far.

Paul did not answer because he had fallen asleep. He was a littleoverweight (a long run always did that to him), and the drive hadcombined with a rather dull play script to make him drowsy. She gave himthe warm yet wry scrutiny of a woman who had been married a number ofyears to a celebrity; that is, she enjoyed the spectacle of the herounheroic--the large lolling head, papers crumpled under a finicky hand,the face dubiously somber and far too pale. Enough of the world concedednow that Paul was a great stage director, including those who alsothought she herself was a pretty good actress. She treasured thattottering compliment; it seemed to suit her private thesis that if shewere even near good it was because she was near Paul.

As always when he was asleep he had that look of absence that sometimesscared her, making him ageless, so that it was odd, rather than hard, torealize he was only thirty-six. Probably he had only escaped beingcalled a boy wonder because in public he had never looked like a boy.But in this, as in so many other things, he ran to extremes--babyishnessat moments, usually for her alone to witness and indulge; at othermoments the air of being Biblically, almost Mosaically old. Yet at alltimes in his work he wore the authority of one whose years had had noreal meaning in his life. She often wondered what their children wouldhave been--either geniuses or idiots, she told people, glossing overwith a joke the fact that they could have no children.

She watched the familiar road as it curved alongside the river. Theirhouse was halfway up a hillside a few miles ahead; fat maples surroundedit, which could have been why it was called Mapledurham, though therewas a place in England of the same name that might have some connection.It was a pleasant house, old enough to have been worth an expensivemodernizing; the rooms were large and cool to the eye; the gardens nottoo formal. And on their arrival there would be tea waiting,English-style (coffee for Paul); Walter would have put on a white jacketand transformed himself from a caretaker to a butler of sorts, and hisAiredale would break established rules by nibbling from her plate. Allthis to look forward to as the Packard covered the miles on a summerafternoon.

In sheer exuberance she chatted with Jerry during the last lap of thejourney. He was a good-looking Southern boy whom they had employed aschauffeur for several years and who had developed an affectionatetolerance for the habits of theater people. He said now, offhand asusual: "Mr. Paul got another play in mind?"

She said no; the one they had been in all the year would be resumed inSeptember.

"I just figgered he might have, though--he's bin acting like he wantedone, these last few weeks."

This alarmed her a little, for she had caught a whiff of the samemisgiving herself. But she answered decisively, as if saying so couldmake it final: "He needs a rest, Jerry, and so do I. That's what we'vecome here for. I don't care how bored he is, he's got to rest."

It had happened before, and doubtless would do so again--that Paul,having launched a highly successful play, had tired of it after thefirst few months and was secretly longing for it to end, so that hecould give his undivided attention to something else. Whereas Carey wasalways happy throughout a long run, because it meant comparative easeand assured prosperity--things she was human enough to enjoy as long asthey would last. Of course Paul was comfortably off; they had both hadluck during recent years, and a flop now and again could not harass themfinancially. But there was more than money in her reckoning. A new playwas an ordeal, increasingly so as both Paul and the critics expectedmore of her; the weeks of rehearsal could become a nightmare of hardwork and high tension--thrilling if it all ended in triumph, but noexperience to be sought wantonly. And this wantonness was in Paul. Itwas not that he did not enjoy success himself--he worshiped it; but hewas like a mountaineer who cannot relax on a summit to enjoy a smoke andthe view, but must itch immediately to descend and climb another.

At Mapledurham not only the tea and the Airedale were duly waiting, butalso, standing up as they entered the drawing room, there was a tallslim young man who introduced himself as Malcolm Beringer. The name wasunknown to her and the elegant way he pronounced it did not remove hersuspicion that he had no business there, or at least that his businesswas of a kind they didn't want to be bothered with on their first day inthe country. "I hope you'll excuse this intrusion..." he begansmoothly, whereupon Paul looked him up and down and snapped: "You'redamned right it's an intrusion. I don't know you and I don't care whoyou are or what you've come for, you can't see me or my wife without anappointment."

Carey turned back into the hall where Jerry was dumping bags from thecar. She hated scenes, and this was a type she could never get used to.She was usually torn between solicitude for Paul, who needed protectionfrom all kinds of crackpots and time wasters, and sympathy with theadventurers who wanted him to read their plays or give them acting jobs.But today she had no such sympathy; it seemed intolerable that astranger should actually stalk them to their retreat. She sought outWalter. "Why on earth did you let that man in? What does he want? Howlong has he been here?"

"'Bout an hour. I didn't know whether to let him in or not, but he saidhe knew Mr. Paul would want to see him. Something about a play, hesaid."

"Oh Walter, how could you be so easily handled?... Well, we canexpect to see him thrown out on his ear any moment now... you knowwhat Paul's like." It was natural for her to speak of him as Paul tothose within the household; they called him Mr. Paul, with the Mistersomehow a mark of deference to her rather than to him.

Ten minutes passed, and Paul's voice from the adjoining room, at firstupraised, had become mysteriously inaudible. Carey felt she mustinvestigate; once a similar silence had been due to a young manfainting. She re-entered the drawing room with the upset feeling thatPaul's behavior so often caused her. Surprisingly, however, she found aquiet, almost a cozy conversation in progress, and when Paul turned toher there was the beam on his face that was usually reserved for a goodperformance at a final dress rehearsal. It disconcerted her now, andstill more so when he called out briskly: "Oh Carey, I've asked Mr.Beringer to stay to dinner. Will you tell Walter? And by the way...you remember I once said Wagner might have done Everyman as an opera,but he didn't.... Well now, here's this Mr. Beringer with anotheridea...."

Carey smiled wanly, murmuring something, and was glad of an excuse toget away. Oh God, she thought. Oh God... For this sort of thing toohad happened before.

She did not conceal her ill-humor when she joined them at the table acouple of hours later. It was maddening that this first evening atMapledurham, which she had hoped to spend alone with Paul, chattingunimportantly, strolling in the garden with the dog and going to bedearly, should be taken up by an outsider. During the meal the subject ofEveryman did not crop up again, and she was heartily glad of that: shewas in no mood for any kind of shop talk. She wondered if Mr. Beringerwere canny enough to sense this, for once or twice he seemed to steerconversation away from the theater when Paul was inching towards it. Hewas certainly an entertaining young man if one had wanted to beentertained. As it was, she treated him with a minimum of warmth andexcused herself as soon after the coffee as she decently could. Paul andhe would doubtless discuss their precious Everyman when she had gone.

Hours later, while she was still reading in bed, she heard the frontdoor bang but no sound of a car starting. Then Paul came in. He was inthe condition she often called "basking"; it occurred whenever contactwith some new idea or personality swept the accumulated dust of boredomout of his mind.

"I told you, Carey, this fellow Beringer has an idea for Everyman."

"Has he? Who is he, anyway?"

"A neighbor--he's staying at Moat Farm. He walked over. Pity it wastonight when you were tired, but I suppose he was anxious to break theice of a first meeting. You certainly gave him that.... The ice, Imean."

"And you bawled him out at the top of your voice."

"Yeah, I did at first, didn't I?" He laughed as if it were already areminiscence of long ago, to be savored with amazement. "Well, we'll beseeing him again and you'll probably like him better."

There was no use opposing the inevitable. She said, summoningcheerfulness: "Darling, I'm sure I will, and if he's going to be afriend of yours I'll be specially nice to him next time."

"Oh, you don't have to put on any act. It's me he wants to impress."

He had the look in his eyes she knew so well and was afraid of, becauseit was both shrewd and guileless, so that in recognizing that the youngman had sought to impress him he did not debar himself from awillingness to be impressed.

"What is it he wants you to do?" she asked quietly.

"He has an idea, that's all. He thinks Everyman would make a motionpicture."

"And of course he wants to interest you in the project?"

"There is no project, but I am interested in Everyman--you knowthat. Seems he read some piece I wrote about it years ago. That's why hecame to me rather than any of the picture people. He wanted my advice."

"Only advice?"

"That's all. I told him I knew nothing at all about motion pictures."

"Then what kind of advice could you give him?"

"Oh now, Carey, you're splitting hairs. There's all kinds of advice Ican give a bright young man if he's interested in something I'minterested in. You know I've always had an idea to do Everyman on thestage."

She could see his face in the mirror; he was taking his tie off with agesture she felt she would remember if she were to go blind and deaf andforget his looks and his voice. He had once told her, apropos of somediscussion of ballet, that of all the movements incidental to maleundressing, only the removal of a bow tie could be done with flair; theothers, particularly the stepping out of pants, were banal.... Shesaid sleepily: "So long as you don't get yourself stuck with anything,Paul. You promised you were going to take a real rest."

He nodded. "I know, and if that damned play weren't reopening inSeptember..."

The implication was that if the play, their almost fabulously successfulplay, were not reopening in September he could have all the rest heneeded; and this, she knew, was nonsense; only the play kept him fromthe far more arduous business of staging its successor. But it had gotto the point now when the play was a scapegoat: he hated its guts,though towards the end of August he would order a few frantic correctiverehearsals in which he would behave as if it were a masterpiece. Therewas, of course, no compelling reason why he could not put on anotherplay while the successful one was still running, but he shied away fromthis, partly because he wanted a part for Carey in everything hedirected, but mainly because he shrank from proving that anything he hadonce started could possibly continue to exist without his constantattention. Nor could he tell himself rationally and mundanely that herewas a harmless little comedy hit that might run another year, maybelonger--easy on audiences, because it didn't make them think, easy onCarey because it was tailor-made for her, easy on the pay sheet becausethere was just one set with a cast of five. True, it was a trifle, butsince he had chosen to do it in the first place, why complain because itwas making a small fortune for everyone connected with it, includinghimself?

She said: "Look, Paul, get to bed and don't lie awake thinking aboutplays or anything else. I'm going to sleep the clock round, and thentomorrow..." She was about to say she would take a long walk, butthat was one of the things he would not share with her, so she changedit to: "Tomorrow we'll sit in the garden and pretend we haven't a carein the world. Not much pretense needed either. We're very luckypeople--doesn't that ever occur to you?"

"Sure, but we mustn't sit back and hoard luck. That's just the way tolose it."

It seemed to her about the most disquieting answer he could have given.

* * *

Carey had received several offers from motion picture companies but hadturned them down because she would not think of doing anything withoutPaul, and though Paul had received feelers himself, they had never inhis case reached the point of a firm offer because he had always made itclear that he would want complete control of everything--story, cast,direction, production, cutting, and music; and as he was prompt to addthat he knew nothing about motion pictures and hardly ever saw them, themovie moguls were doubtless intrigued, but not enough to buy Carey atsuch a price. Actually all this was very much of a pose. He knew a greatdeal about motion pictures and had seen many. It was also a fact thatshortly after their marriage he and Carey had lived in Hollywood forabout a year. That year had been one of failure, and as if to propitiateobscure destinies he would never talk of it, or even admit itsexistence. Carey had no such feeling herself, but she was aware of his,and made it one of her own secrets also. It was thus without any senseof untruth that Paul could indulge in one of his favoriteconfessions--that when once he had been stranded in Los Angeles for afew hours he had been curious enough to ask a taximan to drive himaround Hollywood, but the expedition had covered such dreary territorythat he could only (in fairness to such a world-famous name) concludethat the driver must have lost his way.

But now a few conversations with Malcolm Beringer, a young man of noparticular standing or importance, were enough to effect a change--not,it is true, in his attitude towards Hollywood, but certainly in hisangle of aloofness towards motion pictures in general. Perhaps Malcolm'sdeficiencies were even an asset, for Paul was no respecter of big namesand rather enjoyed the caprice of paying attention to the unknown,always provided they had qualities to attract him. Malcolm, moreover,was fey, and Carey, being Irish, was on her guard against this from theoutset. After his second visit to Mapledurham, she tried to find out howfar Paul was in danger of losing his normally keen judgment, but all shegot was another discussion of Everyman. Then suddenly, to her directquestion, Paul answered: "I'll tell you one reason why I like him. It'sbecause he reminds me of myself at his age. No money, no name--justideas and ambition."

She had to laugh at that. "It can't be so long since you were his age,Paul. He must be thirty at least. So don't treat him like a son."

"Of course I wouldn't. To him I'm just an older man who's already madehis way in the world. A very pleasant relationship can be had on thatbasis."

"Like you and Mr. Rowden in Dublin?"

"Perhaps... though I hadn't thought of it."

(She knew she had touched a nerve. Rowden was dead; they had seen it inthe papers some years back. Paul had been sad after reading the obituaryand had said then, without subsequent explanation: "I don't think Itreated him very well. He wanted to help me and I wouldn't let him.")

She answered: "Perhaps, then, it isn't Malcolm who's anything like youused to be, but you who fancy yourself growing up to be like Mr.Rowden.... Only I hope you won't."

"Oh? I wouldn't be ashamed of myself if I did."

"But I still hope you don't."

Some sort of major issue was being stated by them, but in a minor keyand without emphasis. He said after a pause: "All I meant is that Rowdenwas kind to me and I wasn't as kind to him as I ought to have been, insome ways. You don't know all the facts."

It was on her tongue to reply: "Perhaps you don't either"--but shechecked herself and smiled. She said instead: "Darling, we're gettinginto deep waters. Just don't let Malcolm tempt you into anything youdon't really want. That's all I mean."

He laughed and said there was no fear of Malcolm tempting him atall--either into what he wanted or what he didn't want. "I only temptmyself," he added. "And then invariably I yield." This being the kind ofepigram, half-purloined as a rule, with which he liked to end anargument, she was satisfied to say no more for the time being.

But Malcolm still remained, to her at least, a somewhat mysteriousperson. Everyman to him was charged with modern significance; he readinto it some vast cosmic meaning that Carey would not for the world havedisputed. Paul, on the other hand, saw it theatrically--as sheerspectacle and drama. They were probably well matched as collaborators,which is what Carey soon discovered them to be; and again it alarmedher, if only because it was unlike Paul to be able to collaborate withanybody about anything. Then it appeared that Paul was actually planningpicture shots while Malcolm was writing a script.

She pretended to be casual. "It's all right if it interests you, Paul,but what does Malcolm expect to come of it? I hope you haven't promisedhim anything. It's so easy nowadays to get yourself in a tangle."

"Oh, he's not that kind. We have no written agreements, anyway. Nothingto sue about."

"He can't be working like this for fun, though."

"Why not? What would you have him do for fun? Play golf?"

"All right, darling--enjoy your joke. Golf wouldn't do your figure anyharm."

"I'm thinning it down again now. I lost two pounds last week."

Another bad sign. She said, still trying to disguise her seriousness:"Paul, why don't you tell me what's in that busy mind of yours?"

"Sure. There's no secret about it--never has been. I've always said thatone of these days I'll make a picture."

"But when will you find the time? The play's quite likely to run allthrough next year."

"If it does it won't need me to keep it going."

This was the first time he had ever said anything so sensible, yet inanother way so ominous. She replied, still casually: "True, of course.Plenty of people commute between New York and Hollywood."

"Hollywood? Good God, you can't imagine anyone there would be interestedin Everyman?"

"Who would, then?"

Expansively he answered: "Only the public. Only Thomas, Richard andHenry, to whose pursuit of happiness the movies ought to be dedicated.Only the kind of people who paid to see Shakespeare and hear Wagner andread Dickens--only the world audience that never has missed a good thingwhenever one comes along."

This was the surest danger signal of all because she knew he did notmean it. Artistically he was an authoritarian: he did what pleased himand had small regard for popular taste as an arbiter of quality. Butwhen it suited him he could take the opposite and currently fashionableview, and chance acquaintances who caught him in such moods were apt toretain a wrong impression for life. Carey, however, was not taken in.She knew that when he said something he did not mean he must be meaningsomething he would not say.

She said quietly (ignoring Thomas, Richard and Henry, as well asShakespeare, Wagner and Dickens): "But what about Malcolm? Has he donefilm work before? Come to that, Paul, has he had any theatrical ordramatic experience at all?"

Paul gave her an affectionately derisive pat. "You're so practical,Carey. I'm glad I can answer yes. Malcolm once worked with Reinhardt inGermany."

"I shouldn't have thought that would have recommended him to you."

He began to chuckle in lazy anticipation of a point about to be scored."Ah, but Reinhardt fired him. I checked up on it. They disagreed. Youknow, Carey, he practically told Reinhardt to go jump in a lake!" Headded, still chuckling: "And in German, I hope."

He had had this grudge against Reinhardt ever since their first and onlymeeting, though the real reason why the two had apparently disliked eachother on sight was doubtless that they were both dictators andperfectionists. At any rate, they had had a fantastic tantrum aboutsomething--fantastic because in its final stages Reinhardt had volleyedin German and Paul in English, both shouting together, with a Reinhardtminion translating like mad between them and Carey standing by in muchembarrassment but with an awareness that she would find the incidentexquisitely funny in retrospect. Which she always did--as now.

* * *

For the one thing she had held on to, throughout all the routines ofeffort and failure, effort and success, was a sense of humor. It was anodd humor, rooted in a profound acceptance of the incongruities of lifeand perhaps also in that background of Ireland and Catholicism which,though she might seem to have lost both, was--at a deeper level--beyondher power to surrender. Paul, she knew, did not laugh in the same way orat the same things; especially he could not laugh at himself. Butgradually, over a period of years, he had grown used to the way shelaughed at him, and at themselves; he believed he had conceded her theprivilege, and she never let him realize it was something neither ofthem could have prevented. Nor did he know how many times her ownspecial humor had eased him out of trouble. When he was mostunreasonable there was a way her mouth could twist which was hardly asmile, yet could bring the temperature down like a breeze through anopened window.

So in admitting that she would have been nothing without him, she hadprivate knowledge that he without her would have made extra enemies andkept fewer friends. The one field in which he was almost impeccable andinfallible was the theater itself--that abstraction which to him was farmore than the building or even the play. The theater freed him from allthat made muddle in his life, so that on the stage decision came to himpurely and instantly from something deeper than his mind and sharperthan his brain. When he directed her in comedy he seemed even tounderstand her sense of humor, doubtless because he was then in controlof it. To understand anything he had to be in control. "I'm right when Ido what I want," he had once told her. "I'm wrong when I try tocompromise or please others." He meant, of course, in his work, but itwas perhaps natural that an arrogance so unarguably justified shouldtend to become a habit elsewhere.

Those weeks at Mapledurham during that summer of 1929 were somehowcrucial to Carey; it was as if the Everyman-Beringer affair acted likea catalyst, intensifying a vision of things already seen obscurely. Herlife with Paul, she realized, had acquired a texture. She must guard himconstantly from the kind of mundane error he was prone to: on the otherhand, in anything touched by his infallibility she must not try toinfluence him at all, and for her own ultimate sake as much as his. Theproblem lay in the delimiting of worlds. Perhaps it was a good thing,she reflected with a twisted smile for herself alone, that popes shouldnot marry.

Thus, when she saw that the Everyman collaboration was more than awhim, she ceased to be openly critical of it, though she kept a watchfuleye on Malcolm. That young man spent most of his time at Mapledurham,walking over from Moat Farm early in the morning and returning late atnight; he and Paul were closeted together (the old-fashioned phraseseemed to suit the situation) for five or six hours each day. UsuallyPaul had discussed all his work with her, seeking not advice but asounding board for his ideas; about this Everyman project, however, hebecame gradually less confiding. Once when she taxed him with this heanswered that he knew she didn't approve what he was doing, so he hadchosen not to worry her.

"But Paul, I'd worry still more if I thought you had secrets from me."

"Well, it's no secret any more. I'm going to make a film with Malcolm inGermany."

"Germany?"

"They have the best techniques there--and in France--they're the onlyplaces where the art of the film isn't dying of infantile paralysis."

"And it's all... arranged... already?"

"Practically all."

"Including the financing angle?"

"Sure. No trouble about that."

She was at the breakfast table with him (the only meal of the dayguaranteed to be without Malcolm) when this conversation had sprung up,and she had an idea that unless she had broached the subject he wouldnot have told her, even yet. She said at length, calmly: "I supposeyou're sure what you're doing is the right thing, Paul."

"No, I'm not sure, this time. It's a new venture--an experiment. That'swhy I've kept you out of it.... But if it's a success you can counton me--one of these days I'll make you into a movie star." He laughedand added: "Besides, you'd hate to walk out of a play that still has afew hundred nights to run."

"I would, I'll admit that. But it isn't going to be easy for me, awayfrom you."

"Oh, you'll manage. A play like that can jog along."

"I wasn't thinking about the play.... When do you go?"

"Sail on August twenty-fifth."

"You've even fixed that?"

"Have to book far ahead, the boats are crowded."

"Yes, I know, but... Well, when do you expect to come back?"

"Before Christmas.... Carey, you're not really upset, are you?"

"Darling, if you're doing what you feel you have to do, theneverything's fine so far as I'm concerned. That's the way I disciplinemyself--if I didn't, you'd never put up with me. It's a bit of amiracle, really, the way we manage to put up with each other. But I'llmiss you, Paul. That's something I can't help."

* * *

She didn't miss him nearly as much as she had expected; indeed, she wasrather startled to find how much smoother, in many ways, life waswithout him. Provided he was doing what he wanted in that infallibleworld of his, she could face the few months of his absence withsomething more than equanimity. She missed him most at the rehearsalbefore the beginning of the new theater season, for she knew there werethings he would not have tolerated, that the play could have benefitedfrom the kind of sprucing up he would have given it; on the other hand,it was booked solid till January and the audience at the reopeninglaughed as loudly and as often as ever, not noticing (she was sure) thelack of that little extra quality that Paul could always squeeze out ofa performance. Perhaps the squeeze did not matter so much, in a comedy.She was torn between a schooled integrity that insisted it did matter,and a feeling of relaxation in being able to do a competent job nightafter night without having to worry about what Paul had said to offendone of the carpenters, or the house manager, or somebody from anewspaper.

He wrote to her, fairly frequently but irregularly, from Berlin, givingher little information about the Everyman project, but conveying animpression that all was going well with it. He hardly ever mentionedMalcolm, and her own gossip about New York and the play never drew hisanswering comment. She was not surprised at any of this. Again, so longas he was all right, doing the work that satisfied him, she was content.She went to a few parties and enjoyed herself, discovering reluctantlyhow pleasant it was not to watch for danger across a crowded room, forPaul's feuds with so many people had always made acceptance of a partyinvitation something of a risk. More often, though, she spent pleasanthours by herself--reading, shopping, attending matinees of other playson her own free afternoons. Life went easily--at the theater, at herapartment, and in a curious way within her inmost self.

Towards the end of that October came the big break on Wall Street. Likemost people, she and Paul were "in the market"; not to do what everyoneelse was doing would have seemed perilously close to that act of sellingAmerica short which was, of course, a sin as well as an error. So, asthey had accumulated more cash than they could spend, they had acquiredthe services of Andrew Reeves to manage the surplus--an elderly, highlyrespectable and even conservative stockbroker who recommended only theblue chips and was cautious about too much buying on margin. All hadgone well, and there had come a time when Carey could reckon, withoutundue excitement, that they were probably worth a quarter of a milliondollars between them. Carey, in fact, was the one who dealt with allfinancial matters; she and Paul had separate accounts, but Paul had toldReeves that Carey was the one to say yes or no to any specificproposition. For Paul was fundamentally bored with money except when heneeded it, so that the less he needed it the more bored he became. Hewould sign checks and documents without looking at them if Carey hadapproved them first, and she doubted that he knew the names of thestocks that had given him quite large paper profits.

Carey did not follow the affairs of Wall Street with any day to daypreoccupation, but she could not miss the headlines on October 23, whenmarket leaders plunged as many as fifty points. Alarm was in the air bythen; it was already affecting theater audiences. At her apartment afterthe performance she found a wire from Reeves asking for additionalmargin on certain stocks she held. The amount was not more than shecould afford, but the drop in prices was so different from anything sheor Reeves had considered possible that she wondered if she should sellout the stuff on which she and Paul still had a profit. It was anuisance, his having left without giving her legal power to act for him;but perhaps she could contact him by cable. The next morning she visitedReeves in his office on a day long to be remembered. Alarm had nowmounted to panic, and she was aware of something in the atmosphere thattouched her far beyond any question of personal loss--something she hadnot felt since those homeward journeys from the Abbey Theatre when therewas shooting in the Dublin streets. She fought her way through yellingcrowds into the broker's sanctum and at last managed to get a word withhim. She was dismayed by his appearance and by his wan smile as hestruggled to close the door of an inner office so that their voicescould be heard, but what shocked her most was the way his telephone keptringing and he made no move to answer it. This, from a man sopunctilious, seemed to her an utmost symbol of disintegration. She likedhim; they had had many lunches together at downtown restaurants, wherehe was obviously pleased to be seen with her, and he had attended allher first nights and had been half-affectionately proprietary when hepaid his respects in her dressing room afterwards. There had always beenin his attitude a sense of kindly guardianship; his eyes upon her toldothers that here was a beautiful young actress who naturally knewnothing about business, so she had put her financial affairs in thehands of safe old Uncle Andy and could henceforth sleep at nightswithout worrying her pretty head about them. It was a fairy-talerelationship, harmless enough, and Carey had not discouraged it. And nowUncle Andy was running his fingers through his whitening hair andrefusing to answer telephone calls--perhaps from other pretty heads. "Ican't figure what's happened, Carey. Of course it's absurd--U. S. Steelunder 200--that shows you how absurd it is.... Too bad you didn'ttake Paul's advice."

"Paul's? He never... Why, what about Paul?"

He was too bewildered to notice her bewilderment. He went on, still withthe same wan smile: "One of the few I know who got out right at the top.Good for him."

Amidst the bedlam of that morning she finally elicited that Paul hadactually visited the broker's office in late August, had shown a livelyinterest in his holdings and what they were worth, and had shockedReeves immeasurably by giving an explicit order to sell everything. Itwas obeyed, of course, and a few days later he had collected a cashier'scheck, again in person. What he did with it, if and how he reinvestedthe whole or any part, Reeves couldn't say. He had naturally assumedthat Carey had known all about it. "I was surprised," he said, "thatyou'd let him act like that, though God knows he was smarter than eitherof us."

Carey made the obvious guess as to what had happened to the money, butshe did not mention it to Reeves. What troubled her most was not whatPaul had done, but the way he had done it; it was the first time he hadfailed to consult her on the business angle of any enterprise. She wroteto him, as soon as she got back to the apartment--a short,straightforward letter, saying she had learned he had sold out, which inview of what had happened since was fortunate, but why had he kept it sosecret? And had he put money into the Everyman project? If so, shehoped he had a reliable lawyer or business manager in Germany to lookafter his interests. After she had mailed the letter, Reeves telephoned.He told her things had steadied a little during the afternoon, Morgan'swere supporting the market. Late that evening he telephoned again. Hewould be working all night, he said, to help his clerks bring some kindof order out of chaos. She hardly recognized his voice; it sounded notonly strange, but the voice of a stranger. He added that after studyingher account he was afraid the extra coverage she had agreed to sendwould not now be nearly enough. He was terribly sorry--it was for her todecide whether to put up more cash and hang on, or sell out and take therather heavy loss. He was sorry it had come to that; of course shewasn't the only one, there were thousands in the same position orworse--some had been wiped out completely. And he was sorry he couldn'tadvise her what to do--after all, his advice hadn't been so good lately,she would admit. True, if one believed in America at all, the market wasbristling with bargains--U. S. Steel at 200, for instance--on the otherhand some people, probably bear operators, believed prices could golower. So that was how it was, he simply couldn't advise her at all. Hekept repeating that he was sorry till at last she realized whom he wasreminding her of--an English butler they had had once who hid brandy invinegar bottles and always apologized profusely when found out. Shesmiled then, knowing how utterly unlike a drunken butler Reeves couldever be, unless he and the whole world were to go as crazy as themarket. It was cheering, anyhow, to find something to smile at. She saidlightly: "Sell the stuff, Andy, and let's get it off our minds. I wasall for taking medicine at one gulp when I was a kid. And I neverworried about money when I had none--why should I now? Besides, there'llbe some left, won't there?"

"Oh yes," he answered eagerly. "You aren't nearly as badly off asothers."

Less was left than she had expected, though there would have beennothing at all had she delayed action; she had that much consolation.She did not definitely worry, but it was discouraging to find thattaking one's medicine in one gulp could not close the issue; for allaround her, as the days passed and the market fell further,reverberations affected her life in countless ways--through the changedfortunes of her friends, the atmosphere in shops and restaurants, and bya sharp downturn in theater prosperity. There was talk of cuttingadmission prices and salaries, and though nobody had yet suggested theplay should be taken off, already it looked as if it would not last farinto the new year. People said how fortunate that it was a comedy, sincein bad times everybody wants to laugh. Carey heard this truism so oftenthat she began to feel like medicine herself, and she wondered if itmade her act better or worse; Paul could doubtless have informed her.

One of his most irritating habits was that, in letter writing as inpersonal argument, he was capable of blandly ignoring what had been saidor asked by the other party. He did this in a way that would have beenalmost more forgivable had it been deliberate, but Carey knew that itrepresented the absence from his mind of any real concern for anythingoutside the circle of his own dominating interest at the time. Thus, inreply to her letter, he made no comment about the sale of his stocks,and neither confirmed nor denied that he had put money into the Everymanproject. And when, in a second letter, she told him frankly she had lostheavily herself, and that all phases of New York life were hard hit,including Broadway--to all this he replied by a casual suggestion thatmaybe she could sell Mapledurham--he had always thought it was tooexpensive for what they got out of it. The rest of his letter was aboutthe beauty of some lakes near Berlin where he was apparently working onthe picture. And in a P.S. he added: "Sounds like a bad theater seasonover there. I hope Mother isn't worried. Try to cheer her up."

This reference to his mother further exasperated Carey because, of allthe people she knew, Paul's mother had least to worry about. The firstthing he had done when success came was to fulfill an ambition to bringthe old lady from Milwaukee to New York and set her up in an apartmentof her own; then, with the profits of his first long run, he had boughther a comfortable annuity. All of which had been very dutiful andsensible, but it did, Carey felt, put Mrs. Saffron in a position whereshe needed less cheering up than a great many younger people. She was awoman of strong character and personality, rather terrifying in someways ("fabulous" was the adjective she tried to live up to), and Paul'sdevotion to her was probably the most consistent emotion in his life. Assuch, Carey had been careful to respect it, but she was constantlyamused by the aspect of angelic boyhood he assumed whenever he was withhis mother. Play acting himself down to the level of a teen-ager, he wasoften quite ridiculous; yet there must have been something in it, for nomatter how dark or tempestuous his mood, he could always appearfrolicsome with her.

Carey made a special visit in response to the P.S. Paul had been in thelong-established habit of paying his mother a short call every day,except on Sundays when she came over to dinner; since he had been awayCarey had kept up the Sunday dinners and made one or two return callsduring the week. This could have looked like kindness to a lonely soul,except that Mrs. Saffron was neither lonely nor the kind of person whois called a soul. She enjoyed her independence, she could afford a dailymaid, and she had a visiting clientele of elderly admirers who acceptedher domination and constantly lost small sums to her at pinochle;moreover her health was good and most mornings she pottered brisklyabout the Fifth Avenue shops with an eagle eye for a bargain. Careyalways felt during her visits that she was being treated to a specialdemonstration of how close were mother and son, for invariably Mrs.Saffron could produce a letter from Paul which she did not show or readin its entirety, but quoted a few sentences from here and there. Apartfrom the fact that these letters were longer and more regular than theones he sent to her, Carey thought them unremarkable; Paul was not agood letter writer. This time, however, Mrs. Saffron's voice was chargedwith extra emphasis as she made the usual opening announcement: "I'vejust heard from Paul, my dear...." She went on, as if she couldn'twait for even the most perfunctory response: "He says you've been losingmoney in the stock market."

"Oh yes, a little." So Paul, despite his anxiety that she should notworry, had given her the news.

"I'm sorry you weren't as smart as he was."

Of course that explained it. Her own loss made a neat dramatic contrastto the good news he had been able to give his mother about himself.

She said: "Yes, I am too."

"Of course he talked to me about it beforehand, and I said to him, Son,I said, it's your money, you made it, you do what you want with it. So Iguess that's what made him sell at the right time."

Carey had no comment.

"It's rather funny what he said about it in his letter." Mrs. Saffronput on her spectacles, searched for the page, and ran her finger downwith a great show of omitting other things. "He says... this is whatPaul says, my dear... he says, 'I've just seen some American papersand oh boy, Wall Street certainly did take a beating. I can just imaginehow old Reeves must feel. I didn't dare tell him I was going to bringthe cash to Germany to make a picture--he'd have raised such ashindig--but golly, even if the picture's a flop I won't be worse offthan if I'd left things as they were....'"

How true that was, Carey reflected, and how characteristic in a letterto his mother were such expressions as "Oh boy!" "shindig" and"golly"--a kind of slang he would never have dreamed of using elsewhere.

Towards the end of November he wrote that the picture was going well butmore slowly than he had expected, so that he couldn't return till sometime in the new year, perhaps March or April if he could manage it. Forthe first time, in that letter, he showed interest in her affairs--hehoped the play was still making money and that she hadn't lost "toomuch" in the market crash. If she had, and had any use for a thousanddollars or so, there was that much cash in a safe-deposit box of his (hegave the number and location) which he had forgotten to empty when heleft--she was welcome to it. As for the picture, it was going to bewonderful.... It was also the first time he had sounded such anoptimistic note about the work he was doing.

News of the delay in his return did not prevent this letter fromcheering Carey considerably. She was touched by the evidence of hisconcern for her, even though the form it took had a typical streak ofimpracticality. She replied:

Darling, it was sweet of you to tell me about the safety deposit box, but I really don't need the money and in any case the bank wouldn't let me touch it if it's in your name--didn't you know that?... The play's still running and audiences seem to be picking up a little, and I've been approached in a vague way about several other plays next year, so I don't think I shall be out of work. Even if I were, I could enjoy a holiday, and I'm not penniless, you know. So please don't worry about me, and take all the time you need for what you want to do.... I see your mother regularly and she tells me you've lost ten pounds and are very proud of it--I know what this is a sign of--the creative yeast beginning to ferment, didn't you once call it that? Don't work too hard, though, and give me more news of the picture--I'm so happy about it....

She spent a busy but enjoyable Christmas, and on New Year's Eve shewondered sentimentally but not anxiously what Paul was doing and figuredout that it was already New Year's Day in Europe. She sent him a cable.

The play finally petered out in the third week of January, and thoughshe was not definitely signed for a successor, there was another comedyby the same author shaping up and with an obvious part for her. She tooka trip to Florida with theater friends and was back in New York by thebeginning of March, the earliest month that Paul had said he mightpossibly return. Recent letters, however, had not confirmed this, orindeed mentioned the matter again. His last letter had been fromRiesbach, near Interlaken, Switzerland, where he had taken part of thecompany on location, so he said. He did not explain further, and Careywondered how Swiss scenery could become necessary in a film ofEveryman; but she was not especially surprised.

Then one Sunday, as she was walking through the lobby of the Plaza tolunch, she ran into Malcolm Beringer. She almost literally ran into him,and was sure from his instant look that he would have avoided her if hecould. Even his suavity deserted him a little as she made him stop."Malcolm! I didn't know you were back from Europe even--Paul never tellsme things. Can't you sit down for a moment and give me all the news?"

She practically forced him to a chair and hoped he did not see her handtrembling as she offered him a cigarette. She had a sudden premonitionof things not quite right. "So you left Paul there? How is he? Tell meabout the picture.... He writes that it's going ahead well."

"I believe it is," Malcolm agreed, but without enthusiasm.

"You believe it is? Don't you know?"

He said: "I left Berlin in November. I can't say what's been happeningsince."

"But I thought you and Paul were working together?"

"We were... till then." He continued, with a faint smile: "It's along story--much too complicated to explain."

"I'll bet it's complicated. Anything to do with Paul usually is. Whatdid you do--quarrel?"

Then his faint smile vanished altogether. "We didn't see eye to eyeabout certain things."

"Of course you didn't. I was always surprised how well you got on atMapledurham. Paul's not what you might call one of nature'scollaborators."

"It wasn't exactly that."

"Oh, wasn't it?"

He fidgeted to the edge of the chair, scrutinizing the passing crowd asif hoping for rescue by someone. "You'll excuse me, Carey, I ought to belooking for a man who's coming to lunch with me."

"So ought I, but both of them can wait. You've just time to tell me veryquickly what happened."

"Why, nothing happened--particularly." He stubbed out his cigarette andlet his long slender fingers tap some message of uncertainty on thetable top.

"Then what is it that's too complicated to explain?"

"Why don't you ask Paul?"

"How can I ask him about nothing particular--and that's what you sayhappened?"

"It's all too personal, Carey, and if Paul doesn't mention it perhaps hethinks it's of no importance. And perhaps it isn't."

"You must know how that kind of answer scares me."

"I'm sorry. I don't think there's anything to get scared about."

"Mysteries always scare me. You've made me feel I want to leave forGermany tomorrow."

"Switzerland now, I understand."

"Yes, that's right. Some place near Interlaken."

"You know that? He told you where he was?"

"Of course. Why shouldn't he?"

A very elegant young man approached the table, bowed slightly, and hadto be introduced. Malcolm did not ask him to join them. Carey saidlightly: "Pity there isn't time for a longer chat. Maybe we could havedinner together soon----"

He murmured something about having to leave for Washington. She didn'tbelieve a word of it and she knew he knew she didn't. She added, shakinghands: "Well, I might take a trip to Interlaken one of these days--wouldyou recommend that?"

"They say it's a very beautiful place."

Oh God, she thought--couldn't you have thought of a better exit line,and you supposed to be a writer?... And then she remembered somethingthat Paul had once said, that all the time-worn clichés that sound tooabsurd nowadays for any modern play are still used in life by people whoare either too unsophisticated or too disconcerted to think of anythingmore original. And of these Malcolm could clearly belong only to thesecond class.

She acted a part throughout lunch, appearing very carefree; it waseasier to overdo it than merely to quell a mounting nervousness. Laterthat day she wrote to Paul, saying that she had met Malcolm accidentallyand that he had given her the news. She did not say what news, and hopedthat the equivocal phrase might evoke some revealing answer. But itfailed to do so; the letters Paul continued to write, both to her andhis mother, were no different from before and contained no mention ofMalcolm at all. It was maddening, the way he could ignore things. Aftera month of it, and with the new play still not definitely lined up, shecame to an abrupt decision. She would go to Interlaken. To Mrs.Saffron she made the excuse of another trip to Florida; what the oldlady would think when no letters from Florida arrived she neither knew,nor, in the mood she had reached, particularly cared. She caught theOlympic and reached Paris on an April day whose flavor gave her apang. She and Paul had spent much time in that city, and had loved it,but now she merely hastened across from one station to another.Traveling all night, she arrived in Interlaken the next day about noon.She had never visited Switzerland before, and the loveliness as shestepped out of the train was overpowering. A cabdriver said thatRiesbach was several miles away, a tourist's resort with a hotel,approachable only by steamer across the Lake of Brienz. It sounded soremote she didn't think she would want to stay there if Paul had goneback to Germany, which was a possibility; so she booked a room at ahotel near the station and left her luggage. Then she took a cab throughthe town to the lakeside and boarded the tiny side-wheeler. She wasalready more, or perhaps less, than entranced; she felt that the beautysurrounding her hit below the emotional belt. And how industriously theSwiss had exploited everything, never vulgarizing though sometimesprettifying, building their parks and esplanades into perfect line withthe white cone of the Jungfrau, running funiculars here and there tocatch a special view, electrifying their trains into docile cleanliness;it was unbelievable that people should have come to such cozy terms withgrandeur. The whole place, with its keen bright air and gay decorum, hadan air of holiday that made Florida, steeped in stock-market andreal-estate gloom, seem like a melancholy shambles by comparison.

The boat chugged across the lake, putting in at various resorts beforearriving at Riesbach. Only a few passengers alighted there. The hotelwas perched high above the water; a funicular climbed to it from thedockside. Every step in this long verifying journey from New York seemedto have increased her excitement in geometric progression; the oceancrossing, lasting a week, had been tense but endurable; the overnighttrain from Paris had left her restless; the boat trip across the lakehad been an excruciating dream; and now these few minutes in thefunicular seemed the culminating race of her heart to some kind ofextinction. But at the very end, at the hotel desk as she asked if a Mr.Paul Saffron were staying there, she was becalmed. Yes, they said, buthe was out at the moment--he was probably taking a walk in the woods.Doubtless he would be back soon. Would she care to wait? She agreed, andsat down in the lobby for a while. Then she went to the terrace and sawthe trail leading into the woods with romantic deliberateness, thelittle signpost giving time in hours as well as distance inkilometers--all so neat and satisfactory, so safe in an unsafe world.She began to walk along the trail, not intending to go far, in case Paulmight return by some other route. The woods were cool and fresh-scented,sloping to the lake at an angle that gave sudden glimpses of blue amidstthe green. Wild flowers, buttercups and crocuses speckled theundergrowth, and at pleasing intervals a waterfall tumbled over rocksthat seemed too casual not to have been arranged.

After ten minutes or so she turned a corner and saw two people somehundred yards ahead, and one of them, she thought from the slow walk,could possibly be Paul. The other was a girl. But what surprised her wasthat he was carrying a huge clump of wild flowers and that every fewyards both he and the girl stopped to gather more. This was so totallyunlike Paul, who cared for flowers only enough to buy them at highprices, that she almost doubted her own recognition till she came closerand could see the familiar head balanced heavily on the familiarshoulders. The rest was less familiar, for he was wearing shorts,woollen stockings, and boots spectacularly different from anything inhis American wardrobe. Then she noticed that the girl had straw-coloredhair of the kind usually provided by wigmakers for use in Wagnerianopera.

Carey caught herself insisting that this encounter was a joke which theymust both share with the girl, whoever she was. She was afraid theywould hear her footsteps and turn, and for some reason she wanted tochoose her own time; she stopped therefore, partly to gain breath andpartly in the sheer fascinatedness of being able to count now inseconds, after the minutes, hours, days, and weeks of waiting. She feltcuriously elated. And the flowers and the girl's hair and the blue seenthrough the green and the snow-capped mountains dazzling in thedistance--it was all rather like an opera, or like that recurrentcrisis in an opera when something silly but quite tuneful is about tohappen. "Paul!" she cried out abruptly. She had not known till thenhow silent everything was, except for the murmur of the waterfalls.Strange, she thought, that she had not heard them talking together. Itwas so odd of Paul to be walking, and even odder for him not to betalking.

He turned, stared, muttered something either to the girl or to himself,then began back along the trail, towards her, the girl following him. Hewas somewhat shortsighted and could not, she knew, recognize her at sucha distance, but surely he must have known her voice. But then sherealized that her voice had not sounded like her own voice at all."Hello," she said conversationally, but projecting a little, as shewould have done on the stage.

Then came, in a rush, the inevitable exclamations andcounter-exclamations. "Carey! For heaven's sake! You? You didn'ttell me you were coming! Why on earth didn't you write? Carey, I can'tbelieve it's you...."

"Oh Paul, I ought to have let you know, but I made up my mind sosuddenly and I thought if you'd gone back to Germany I didn't want tointerfere with your plans--I mean, if you hadn't been here it would havebeen all right--it's such a glorious place and I needed a vacation--itwas either here or Florida, and there's no comparison, is there? Andbesides, you don't tell me everything, why should I tell you? That'sfair, isn't it?... My goodness, you're looking well!"

It was true. His usually pale face was bronzed, and he had lost nearertwenty than ten pounds, she would have judged. She had never seen him insuch condition and it was doubtless absurd of her to reflect that, in acertain sense, it didn't suit him.

Then the girl came up, and Carey gasped, for she was a blond beauty,Wagnerian perhaps, but slim and exquisite, the flaxen hair framing theface like an ivory miniature.

Paul said: "This is Miss Wanda Hessely--she plays the lead in thepicture." He turned to the girl and said, in very bad German: "This isCarey Arundel."

Carey smiled and the girl smiled back.

Paul said: "She doesn't speak English and I still can't manage muchGerman, but I can tell you she's a fine actress."

"That's wonderful. I hope I'm not interrupting your morning."

Carey hadn't intended that to be sarcastic, it was simply what shesincerely felt, but as soon as she said it she wished it had soundeddifferently. Already she was half-regretting the whole trip; to meetPaul was one thing, but to sneak up on two people gathering wild flowersin a wood was somehow too naïve. Besides, she knew Paul had his own waysof rehearsing privately with actors--perhaps there was a flower scene inthe picture and they had been taking themselves off to some quiet spotwhere Paul would have her go through a part. But to think that wasperhaps also naïve. Already she knew that any twinge of jealousy shefelt had not come from seeing the girl, but from hearing Paul call her afine actress.

Paul said: "Oh no, we were just out for a stroll. Nowhere special. Wandaloves flowers. Let's go back to the hotel and have a drink.... Shetalks French, if you can remember enough."

They walked back together, Paul between them. The girl was not onlylovely, she was charming and spoke enchantingly, with a quality of voicethat Carey knew must set her high in Paul's regard; and though Carey hadnot used her French for years, it began to ripple fast between them bythe time they reached the hotel. Paul, indeed, was left rather out ofthings; he kept glancing first to one side and then to the other, as ifuncertain whether what was happening was altogether what he wanted. Hewas a bad linguist, and could not follow the conversation. "So you doremember your French," he commented ruefully, as they chose a table onthe terrace.

"Of course. And since she doesn't know English I'll tell you this muchin front of her--she's just about the loveliest thing I've ever seen. Isshe well known?"

"She will be. She's my discovery--she used to work in a departmentstore. A natural actress. You should see some of the rushes."

"I'd like to. May I?"

"They're in Berlin."

"But aren't you making part of the picture here?"

"We were shooting a few mountain scenes, but that's all done now. We'rejust killing time for a while."

"A nice place to do it. Everybody must be very happy."

"No, the others have gone back to Germany till there's more money. Mineturned out to be not nearly enough. You've no idea how costs run up. Isold out half my interest. I had to--we couldn't have gone on without."

"So you spent all your money and now you only own half the picture?"

"Maybe not even that, by the time we're through. But if I'd kept it instocks, what then?"

"Exactly. You were so right."

"I didn't know I was right. I just knew I wanted the money.... Andit's a good picture, Carey, really it is."

"Oh Paul, I'm very happy about that."

"Are you? You look happy."

"Why shouldn't I be? I've owed myself a real vacation for years. Lastsummer at Mapledurham wasn't much of one."

"I know. Because you didn't like Malcolm. Maybe you were right about himjust as I was about the stocks."

"You mean accidentally right?"

"Well, you couldn't have known."

"Couldn't have known what?"

"Oh well, let's not hold a post-mortem."

"He told me he hadn't seen eye to eye with you--that was the phrase. Isuppose you had a big row."

"An impossible row, Carey."

"You're pretty hard to collaborate with."

"Oh, it hadn't anything to do with that."

"So he said, too."

The waiter came and Paul, without consultation, ordered three doubleAmer Picons, which Carey thought rather massive for that time of theday, but she was too preoccupied to ask for anything else.

"What was the row about then?"

"Wanda, mainly. He didn't like her."

"You mean, in the part?"

"That as well."

"As well as what?"

"Oh, it was all rather personal."

"Perhaps he was jealous."

"Not in the way you'd expect."

She laughed. "Darling, how do you know what I'd expect?"

"That's enough in English. Say something to her in French."

She spoke across him to the girl; she said: "My husband tells me you'revery wonderful in the picture."

She watched the girl's response, and saw shock (if there were any)mingle with pleasure at the compliment into a cool shyness, halfdisconcerted, half serene. The more Carey studied her the more she foundher utterly delightful. They talked on till the drinks came, less andless importantly; by that time Paul looked forlorn again and was itchingfor a chance to interrupt.

"You two seem to be hitting it off together," he said, at the firstopportunity. "Hitting it off" was his favorite phrase for success in anyand all human contacts.

"Paul, I think she's adorable."

"How do you like the Amer Picon?"

"I'm not used to drinks at all so early, but it's no more unusual thanmy being here, is it? I left my luggage in Interlaken, by the way."

"The hotel people can send over for it."

"As a matter of fact I booked a room there at the Splendide--I wasn'tcertain you'd be here and Interlaken looked very nice."

"Sure, but you can cancel it now. Let me go to the desk and fix things."

She talked with Wanda till he came back a few moments later. "They'veput you in the room across from me for tonight," he said, "but tomorrowwe can switch to the royal suite--it's probably that--two bedrooms witha real bathroom in between--quite sensational for these parts. And Iasked them to telephone the Splendide to cancel your room and send overthe stuff. It won't arrive till tomorrow, but I don't suppose thatmatters."

She could not help thinking how strange it was for him to have made allthese businesslike arrangements. Usually when they traveled it was shewho did everything at hotel desks, booking and inspecting rooms,checking luggage, and so on. It was certainly strange of him to berushing to handle such details himself, and courtesy seemed laughable asa possible explanation. Perhaps, though, it was no stranger than thewalking in the woods, and the flowers, and the shorts. As for thearrangements themselves, they were quite normal. For years he had beenapt to sit up half the night reading and smoking cigars, and for thisreason separate rooms had become a habit, and in hotels wheneverpossible they had always tried to fix up a two-bedroomed suite.

Then, in the swiftly gathering dusk, she noticed a small group of peopleat the end of the terrace staring in a certain direction, some withbinoculars. Paul explained that it was the alpenglow transfiguring thesnow peaks, evidently a much-esteemed local spectacle. They moved overto join the group. It appeared often in clear weather, Paul went on,with something of a Chamber of Commerce pridefulness, but this evening'sshow was the most colorful he had yet seen. "That incrediblesaffron..." he remarked, adding quickly: "And no joke intended."

"That makes it a better one," she laughed, feeling the drink in her headand legs simultaneously. "Because you are that incredible Saffron, andI only wish I could translate it into French for Wanda.... Anyhow, it'spretty--the color, I mean. Just like slabs of pink blanc mange....I think I'll find where my room is now and get myself freshened up."

"Sure, I'll take you."

They entered the hotel, leaving Wanda on the terrace, and climbed thestaircase to the second floor. Everywhere looked rather empty, and Paulexplained that it was in between seasons, the snow being now too softfor skiing and the yearly influx of family vacationers having not yetbegun. He talked with a satisfied air of proprietorship, as if the hotelas well as the girl had been his own discovery. "It's just the spot torest and relax," he said, amazingly when she recollected all the othercountry places which with her he had found just the spots to get boredin. He unlocked the doors of both their rooms, then strode across hersto fling open the windows. "No screens, of course, they never have themout here, but there aren't insects either." Screens were his fetish; itwas the one feature she had to look for first when she was booking at anAmerican hotel, and how often they had passed up a good one for lack ofthem! "I think you'll like it here," he went on. Both rooms werebare-boarded, cheerful, spotless, but austere by American standards;Paul's was smaller than hers, with a single bed and not much of a view.He said he had taken it because it was cheap, which she could wellbelieve. She was wondering how much tact she need employ to offer him aloan (probably none at all if he needed the money) when he said with agrin: "Carey, what really made you come here?"

"An idea I got suddenly. I just wanted to see you. I wanted to make sureyou were all right. Malcolm scared me."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing. That's what scared me. I got so that I had to find out formyself."

"I don't blame you."

"That's nice. I knew you wouldn't."

"Well, I mean it, Carey. I don't blame you."

"And I don't blame you either."

He did not reply, but went on grinning, and after a pause she continued:"Anyhow, you look so well and happy... and why shouldn't you be, witha good picture nearly finished?"

"Yes, it is good. I wasn't certain at first, but I know now I can do agreat job for the screen just as for the stage."

"I'm glad you haven't changed, Paul."

"Don't you think I have? I've lost a lot of weight."

"I meant that if I ever found you modest I really would thinksomething had happened."

He laughed. "You know me pretty well, don't you?"

She laughed with him. "Does Wanda think you're going to make her a greatactress?"

He became suddenly serious. "She nearly is already. You'd agree if yousaw the rushes."

"But I can't, can I? She's a better actress than me, I suppose?"

"Yes."

"When you say so as solemnly as that, I know how true it must be."

"It's also true that I've missed you, Carey."

"You have? Really? I wouldn't put it past you, as they say in Dublin."

"There's one thing Wanda hasn't got."

"That makes her human, anyhow."

"But it's something I miss--though perhaps it's only due to the languagebarrier.... A sense of humor, Carey--the kind you have."

"And the kind I need, too, darling. When do we get dinner?"

"Six. We'll drink champagne."

"Provided you let me buy it."

"Thanks, and since we're on that subject, do you think you could lend mea little cash? I'm a bit short till we get some more out of Germany."

She began to open her purse. "Anything you want, Paul--within limits.We're neither of us as well-heeled as we used to be. Matter of fact,this room suits me perfectly--why bother making any change tomorrow? Wedon't need a suite when the hotel's so empty--it's no hardship to walkdown the corridor to a bathroom."

* * *

The dinner was good, and in a somewhat underpopulated dining room theexplosion of champagne corks seemed a ceremony to announce the seasonyet unborn. The hotel manager smiled his approval and sent them cognacon the house. Carey talked a good deal to Wanda, and Paul offered hisconstant interruptions, irrelevantly but not without a sort of bizarreharmony. In the rays of the table lamp Wanda was an alpenglow herself,something to be stared at like a natural phenomenon. Her beauty was of akind, Carey thought, that would make anything she did forgivable, whilethe beauty itself remained unforgivable--because in an imperfect worldnobody had a right to such flawlessness. Even the flaw Paul hadmentioned was more likely to be his own than hers, for Carey guessedthat Wanda did have a sense of humor; it was Paul who had failed todiscover it because he hadn't nearly so much himself, as his stress onthe language barrier showed; for it was wit, of which he had plenty,that required speech; humor could pass wordlessly from eye to eye, asWanda's did to hers, even when their chatter in French was quiteordinary and serious. And they need not tell each other much about Paul,Carey thought, because they could look at each other about him; andthis they had been doing all the time so far, with Paul presidingbetween them with an air of performing a conjuring trick that nobody wasinterested in.

It was during the later stages of dinner that Carey realized howimpossible it would be to find out anything that could be called theabsolute truth. She knew Paul well enough to know how rarely he could beattracted sexually; she knew too that there was nothing in the outwardappearance of his attitude to make it certain that Wanda was or had beenhis mistress. He adored beautiful women, extravagantly and romantically,and a beautiful woman combined with a fine actress would surely drivehim to every kind of distraction--with only one possible but not quiteguaranteeable exception. It might well, for instance, expend itself inan ecstasy of gathering wild flowers, wearing shorts, and losing twentypounds of superfluous weight. During the seven years Carey had livedwith Paul, she had witnessed the strangest manifestations of hisenthusiasms for other women, yet she had never really believed him to beunfaithful, and had only very occasionally wondered about it. For shehad the best of reasons for knowing how hazardous he found therelationship of man and woman, a problem worth solving once in alifetime, if at all, and then to be given up not so much in despair asin thankful disregard.

And yet, looking at Wanda, Carey could not be sure. From the girl'sangle a liaison with Paul might easily seem desirable as a means ofkeeping him interested in her till he had given what he had to give--andif she were a good actress, let alone a great one, she would know howmuch that was. There was a composure about her that Carey could notinterpret, but admired because she knew from stage experience how hardit was to simulate if it were not felt; so that in Wanda it must eitherbe sincere or else a piece of acting equally to be envied. She wishedshe could see the rushes of the picture, not because she doubted Paul'sword about their merit, but to reach in her own heart that point atwhich envy must spill over into hate or love; for she had never hatedanyone yet, and wondered if she could.

She decided then that she was not jealous, but mainly curious, with acuriosity disciplined by her own surmise as to what would happen if shewere to ask Paul a plain question. Because whatever his answer shewouldn't know whether to believe it. She could imagine him, in pridethat was a sort of self-defense, assuring her that of course he andWanda had had an affair--what did she think he was made of? (Once ortwice in the past he had hinted at conquests which later she had foundto be mere boasting.) Or she could imagine him answering no, with muchindignation, merely to spare what he would assume to be herfeelings--such an assumption being often no more than a reflection ofhis own high opinion of himself. "I didn't want you to be hurt," hewould say when he would be hurt himself if she ever told him she hadn'tbeen.

And if she were to put the same plain question to Wanda there would bean equal impasse; something transfiguring would happen again, a glow ontop of a glow, the look that could come to the same bashful terms withguilt or innocence, as Carey had seen already in the girl's response tothat deliberately testing phrase "my husband." And there was nothingmore to be learned.

Except one matter, which Carey held herself justified in probing at thefirst chance. It came when Paul left them at the table to buy a cigar.Carey said then, changing the subject abruptly: "I saw Malcolm Beringerin New York before I sailed. He gave me an impression that he and Paulhad quarreled while they were working on the picture."

"Is Mr. Beringer a friend of yours, Mrs. Saffron?"

"No, I wouldn't call him that. Why do you ask?"

And then a long cool silence, until the girl continued: "You see, it hasbeen hard for me to exchange ideas with Paul, because of the language,but Mr. Beringer spoke German well--so he acted as interpreter amongstall of us."

"Yes, I can understand that, but how did it affect the quarrel?"

Wanda smiled. "He was able to say things about Paul that were not true."

"I see. And when you found out they weren't true...?"

"Yes, then there was the trouble."

Paul was already returning with the cigar. There was no time to explorefurther, nor perhaps any need either. Carey said, deliberately gay forPaul's benefit: "Paul's quick enough at most other things, I wonder whyhe's so slow at picking up languages?"

"I will tell you why," Wanda answered, in the same key. "First, it isbecause he does not really listen when others are talking. And second,it is because he feels the whole world has no right not to knowEnglish."

Paul sat down and lit his cigar, pleasantly aware that they were havingsome joke at his expense; he did not know enough French to enjoy it withthem, but he was sure it must be harmless.

* * *

Carey stayed at Riesbach for a week, and in many ways it was a verypleasant time. All the things she had long wished that Paul would carefor he now apparently did care for--hours of sheer laziness in deckchairs, rowing placidly on the lake, picnics in the woods, even walkingif it were not too athletic. Wanda was wise enough not to persuade himto do other things that she herself enjoyed; she used her power, if itexisted, with a sparing scrupulousness. So when she felt in a mood toclimb a mountain or play tennis or take part in the impromptu dancesthat often sprang up at the hotel after dinner, she made no attempt todrag Paul along; and of course there were always young men anxious tofill the gap. Paul seemed to have no jealousy when he saw her in thearms of some handsome ski instructor; he and Carey would sit watching,Paul relishing the spectacle theatrically and passing frequent remarkson Wanda's beauty and accomplishments.

Carey did not need to be told that Paul was happy. He gave every sign ofit, and the loss of weight and healthier life had added a new kind ofvigor--more physical, less nervous. In a sort of way Carey found himless like himself, which could also be called in some ways a change forthe better. She noticed that he ate, drank and smoked less, that hewould choose fruit as a dessert instead of chocolate pudding, that hedid not smoke his first cigar till after lunch. Little things. Once asthe three of them were returning from an afternoon on the lake,windblown and sun-browned, they passed a large mirror in the hotellobby, and Paul, in the middle, drew them both to a standstill withencircling arms. "Don't we look wonderful?" he exclaimed, and it wastrue that they did. But at the very moment of joining in a laughingassent, Carey caught Wanda's eye in the mirror and saw in it somethingso friendly, yet at the same time so inquisitive, that she felt Paul'squestion was being repeated rather than answered. Carey said: "Well, weought to, with the kind of life we're leading. Sunshine and fresh airand no work."

Paul said: "One of these days I shall make a picture about children, andwhen I do I shall remember Riesbach."

He drew them away from the mirror, but the look in Wanda's eyes whichCarey intercepted before they left it was less inquisitive now, had moreof shared awareness, as if she were saying: We both know that cryptickind of remark, don't we?... And Carey returned the look, as if toanswer: Of course we do, it's his way of clinching something in his mindby a dramatic attitude, as he would have an actor do the thing on thestage... and just to prove it isn't as silly as it sounds, heprobably will make a picture about children someday and it'll be sogood that people will think what a lovely childhood he must have hadhimself to understand it so well; but the truth is, Wanda, his own realchildhood wasn't lovely at all--he hated his father, he was miserableand lonely and insufferably precocious... this Riesbach interlude isa dream of his, and we are the playmates he never had before--he'sseeing us now, with his arms round both of us, symbolically as well asactually, in a mirror....

One morning the Riesbach interlude came to a sudden end. She had cabledher address to Bill Michaelson, her New York agent, merely as routine,but on the breakfast table there was a cabled reply saying that the newplay was now finished, should he mail it over, or was she likely to bereturning soon? Had this come alone she might have wondered whether toignore it, at least for the time being; but for Paul also there was amessage, summoning him to Berlin to complete the picture, new moneyhaving at last been raised. As they sat, the three of them, drinkingcoffee on the terrace in the mountain sunshine and exchanging theseitems of news, it seemed quite providential that so much had happenedsimultaneously, thus canceling out blame, remorse, and responsibility.They packed that morning and took the lake steamer to Interlaken in theafternoon. The spell was over, and Paul was more normally nervous andexcitable, fidgeting over trifles and almost absent-mindedly inquiringabout the New York play. Carey told him what she knew, which wasn'tmuch, except that it was another comedy guaranteed to be a winner likethe last one. He said moodily: "It's about time you were bored withcomedy," which she knew was his oblique way of telling her that he was,or rather that he was so interested in something else that the idea ofcoming back to New York to direct the play wasn't touching even remotelythe fringe of his mind. Towards dusk at Interlaken station they boardedtwo trains that left, again by coincidence, almost at the same momentand in opposite directions--Wanda and Paul to Germany via Lucerne, Careyby the express to Paris. Two days later she was on the Berengaria.

As soon as she embarked at Cherbourg she felt tired and lackluster. Itwas as if the Riesbach interlude, now that it was over, had withdrawnits own illusion of well-being, leaving only the memory of anenchantment too slight to lean on. The good-by to Paul, so far fromupsetting her, had been in some sense a relief, and though he had saidhe planned to be back in America by September, she was surprised to findthat the idea of his return did not fit into her mind as somethingterrific to look forward to--rather, in her present mood, as merelyanother and a further horizon of ordeal. For the new play was alreadythe nearer one, and although she knew how difficult Paul was when he wasdirecting, the thought of some other director made her feel very glum.But of course it could not be helped. Thank goodness Paul's all right,he's happy, let him get back to his work and I to mine; in this spiritshe could face any future. On the boat she surrendered to something elsethat was harder to analyze--not quite depression, but a deep lassitudeof the body that matched an inner indifference the like of which shecould not remember in her life before; it centered on the new play,which of course she would study as soon as she reached New York, but shewas actually glad she hadn't it with her during the trip--she lackedeven a desire to read it.

She spent the first four days at sea in her room, the weather beingrough. On the fifth day, approaching the Grand Banks, the skies clearedand the rolling lessened, so that many of the passengers, like herself,appeared on deck for the first rime. She did the regulation walk, thenfound a vacant chair, a rug, and a novel. Next to her in the long linewas a gray-haired man, rather good-looking and apparently asleep. Therewas something about him that made her think she might have seen himbefore--not that she could know him personally, for she had a goodmemory for acquaintances, but perhaps his was one of the faces thatsometimes emerge from the blur beyond the footlights, randomly and as achallenge when an audience is cold: See that man at the end of rowthree, center aisle? He's not laughing, make him laugh, make himlaugh.... Occasionally in comedy one got as desperate as that, and itwas significant that now, with the new play distantly on her mind, suchdesperations were easy to remember. She was staring at the man, stillwondering and remembering, when she realized he had opened his eyes andwas staring back at her.

He smiled and said slowly: "Miss Arundel, isn't it?"

She was used to this kind of thing, and though it was sometimes anuisance, she knew that if it ever ceased happening she would have muchmore to worry about; apart from which in this instance she had beenstaring first. So she returned his smile. "Yes, that's right."

"I thought I recognized you." She was glad he didn't try to get up orperform any polite maneuver, tucked in as he was under a very luxuriousfur rug. "I'm one of your countless admirers, Miss Arundel. My name isBond--Austen Bond."

"My real name is Saffron. Mrs. Paul Saffron."

"Ah yes." She couldn't be sure whether the name Saffron meant anythingto him or whether he was merely being cool towards the revelation. "Areyou coming back to New York to give us a new play?"

It was the one thing she didn't want to talk about. "I expect so," sheprevaricated, "sooner or later."

"I hope sooner."

"Thank you."

"No, no, it's I who should thank you for giving me so much pleasure."

To which by all usage she should have murmured vague appreciation andchanged the subject, thus ending the see-saw before it began to beridiculous; but instead she let what was uppermost in her mind dictate areply--she said: "Don't forget the director also--and the author--theyhave a lot to do with a good play."

"Of course. And I notice you put the director before the author."

"That was accidental--or perhaps it's because my husband is thedirector--was, that is, of my last play."

The steward came with bowls of hot soup. The effort of dealing with themseemed to make the conversation more intimate, if also more scattered.They discussed foreign travel for a time (she told him she had beenvisiting Switzerland, and he said he had been on a business trip toSweden); then the novel on her lap led to gossip about books andwriters. He talked intelligently but not learnedly. Now that he wassitting up she could see he was less elderly than she had thought atfirst; the gray hair was misleading, he did not look more than fifty. Hehad a proud, strong type of face, the kind that looks sculptured, andthere was a sense in which his voice and accent conveyed rather thanbetrayed the fact that he was American. If he were an actor, shereflected, Paul would probably not cast him for the part of anambassador because he looked too much like one.

Presently he asked if she were traveling alone, and when she said yes,he asked if she usually dined alone, or had made friends on board. Sheanswered ruefully that so far on the trip she hadn't dined at all.

"I think there'll be better weather from now on," he said.

"I hope so. I'm not a good sailor, though I'm probably not the worst oneeither."

"Then perhaps you'd care to join me for dinner this evening?"

When she hesitated, not knowing whether she wanted to or not, he addedwith quick tact: "That is, if it keeps smooth." He got up with rathersurprising agility and stooped to lift her hand. "Shall we say seveno'clock in the bar near the small restaurant? I'll look for you there,but if you don't feel equal to it, please don't bother. I'llunderstand."

She noticed as he walked away that he was tall and had a goodfigure--perhaps he was still in his forties and the gray hair could beregarded as premature.

By six o'clock she had almost made up her mind not to keep theappointment. He had given her an easy out, and it was true that the windwas freshening and the sea not quite so calm. But most of all she feltin herself a renewal of the inertia of indifference, plus a somewhatprofessional feeling that if she were not in a mood to be attractive shehad no business to inflict herself on an audience, even a chance-metmale audience of one. Then suddenly and for no reason she could think ofexcept again a professional awareness of challenge, she decided to meetMr. Bond at least for a drink and, if that much bored her, to excuseherself from dinner afterwards. The challenge thus accepted, even inpart, she felt immediately encouraged; she dressed carefully and gaveherself cautious approval in the mirror. She looked a little off color,but the reason for it was obvious, and a drink was doubtless one of thethings she needed.

He was waiting when she got to the bar, and in a dinner jacket he hadthe kind of anonymous distinction that the English have succeeded sowell in making fashionable. Only perhaps by someone Irish could thething be seen through and at the same time admired as an accomplishment.She smiled a greeting and began: "Well, I managed it. I won't prophesy,but I think I can last out a Martini."

He took her to a table. "Good. It must be very trying to be travelingalone when you don't feel well."

"Oh, I haven't been really ill. Just resting and reading."

"Lonely, though."

"No--or rather, if it has been, I've enjoyed it. Such a change fromone's normal life--whole days of nothing to do, nobody to argue with, noproblems, no appointments, no worries...."

"Do you usually have worries?"

"Doesn't everybody?" The play that she hadn't wanted to talk about camein useful now. "I think an actress always worries about her next playeven before she knows what it will be."

"Don't you know yet?"

She told him about the new comedy by the author of her recent bigsuccess; she would read it as soon as she got to New York, it was partlyfor this she was returning. "I suppose it won't come on till the fall,so there'll be plenty of time for rehearsing and polishing up--rewritingthis scene and that, and the usual mood of wondering whether it's amasterpiece or a piece of junk."

"Somehow you don't sound as if you were looking forward to all that."

"Oh, I'm used to it."

"But not looking forward to it this time?"

He had a very quiet, persistent, but kindly way of refusing an answerthat evaded.

"To tell you the truth," she said, and wondered why she was doing it,"I'm too tired right now to be looking forward to anything."

"You'll feel better on dry land." The drinks arrived, which made himadd: "Too bad it is a dry land."

So they had the usual exchange of views about Prohibition, and that ledto general chatter about American affairs, including inevitably thestock market. She told him she had lost money and gave a lightheartedaccount of her husband's action in selling at the top in order tofinance a film-making enterprise in Germany. "He'll probably lose itthat way too, but how much more worth while."

"Why should you think he'll lose it?"

And she had to ask herself the same question. She answered, honestly,after a pause: "I expect it's my own conceit. You see, this is the firsttime he made a deal on his own without asking my advice."

"Would your advice have been against it?"

"I don't know. I don't know what the deal is. And what right have I topose as business adviser anyway? I haven't proved myself so smartlately."

"Nor have a great many business people.... Would you like anotherdrink here or at the table?"

She smiled and he asked her why. She said: "It reminded me of what theyteach waitresses. Years ago when we were hard up I was one for a while,and whenever anyone ordered pie we were told to ask whether they wantedwhipped cream or ice cream with it. The customer who didn't want eitherhad to make a stand."

"I hope you won't make a stand now."

"No, I haven't the strength. Four customers out of five hadn't. It wasgood psychology."

"That's very interesting." He gave the order to the waiter, then said:"So you've had your hard times?"

"Oh, nothing very dreadful. Before we made our first hit we went througha few bad patches, that's all."

"In New York?"

"Yes--and other places. It was in California that I was a waitress. Onlyfor a short time--till Paul found a play."

"You've worked together as a sort of team?"

"Not deliberately--but I suppose it has been, more or less."

"Until this German enterprise?"

"Oh well, I couldn't expect to be in that. I've had no pictureexperience."

From his silence she knew he realized how stupid the remark was exceptas a revelation of things it did not say. Presently she went on: "Don'tlet me bore you with all this talk of my own affairs."

"How could I be bored when I've been asking all the questions?"

That was so. She replied: "Yes, but theater shop can be pretty dull tothose outside the business, and I rather imagine you are."

He nodded. "Yes, my own profession is far less romantic--and popular....I'm in a broker's office." The second drinks arrived and he raised hisglass. "Well, here's to the new play. Whatever it turns out to be Ishall make a point of seeing you in it."

"I'll send you tickets for the first night."

"That would be very kind of you."

It would indeed, she reflected, considering they were so much soughtafter and he was someone she had met for the first time that day. Sheadded: "If you promise to laugh at all the jokes, no matter how hard itis."

"I promise. But why should it be hard?"

"Well, for one thing, they may not be such good jokes. And then too itmust be pretty hard for a broker to see a joke in anything nowadays. Myown broker's having a nervous breakdown... Andy Reeves... I wonderif you happen to know him?"

"I'm afraid not."

"He's much older than you, I should imagine."

"Now how old would you imagine I am?"

"I guessed fifty-five when I first saw you but you've been growingyounger ever since."

He seemed amused by that and she felt the beginnings of a mood shesometimes got into when she was emerging out of fatigue--a sort ofimpishness, making her say things that were quite helplessly silly andonly funny to others if she found them funny enough herself.

Then suddenly she keeled over and would have slipped to the floor had henot held her. It could hardly have been the drink, for she had had onlyone; the bar was rather stuffy, perhaps that was the reason. People madeway for an emergency that had happened many times before on oceanliners, except that in this case it wasn't that particular emergency atall. As soon as he had helped her to the fresh air on deck she fullyrecovered, but he led her to her cabin and summoned the stewardess. Hewas very gracious and attentive and took his leave when the stewardessarrived. She didn't feel ill, or quite well either, so she swallowedsome aspirin, undressed, and went to sleep. The next morning the seaswere rough again, so she stayed in bed all day. He sent flowers.

* * *

The morning after that, the Berengaria arrived at New York. Amidst thelast-minute scurry of packing and formalities she half-wondered if shewould see him again, but she did not look for him, and when the shipdocked she followed her usual habit of waiting till nearly all thepassengers were off before making her own way down the gangway to thecustoms. She soon found her luggage, among the last of the "S" group,but as she approached it an elderly stranger touched his hat, evidentlyrecognizing her. "Mrs. Saffron? Mr. Bond asked me to help you through."

"Well, that's very kind of him, but I haven't anything dutiable, so----"

"It'll be easy then. Your car's meeting you?"

"No, I'll take a taxi, but please don't bother----"

The man had already stepped to the customs officer and was sayingsomething in his ear, with a result quite astonishing--the immediatepassage of all her bags without inspection. Normally she disliked beingsingled out for special favor, but this time the act was performed sosimply and quickly as to give her no time for embarrassment, and she wasgrateful besides, for she had had experience of customs men who seemedto have a special distrust of actresses.

While the man was giving further instructions to a porter she saidhalf-jokingly: "That's one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.Thank you, and please thank Mr. Bond. He really must know the rightpeople."

"Well, Mrs. Saffron, I daresay he does.... He also asked me to giveyou this letter."

She couldn't figure quite what the man was--a servant, an employee? Hehadn't introduced himself by name and he was dressed as nondescriptly asa hotel detective. She thanked him again and read the letter on the wayto her apartment. It said merely:

I'm sure you consider we owe each other at least one dinner. Will you let me know an evening that suits you after you get settled? Yours sincerely,

Austen Bond (aged forty-six)

Not till several days later did she happen to mention Mr. Bond to afriend as "the only man I spoke to during the entire trip--tall andrather handsome--something in a broker's office, he said."

"My goodness, not Austen Bond, by any chance?"

"Why, yes."

At which the friend laughed raucously. She was a lively old snob whofancied herself as a connoisseur of that overworld which is in its wayquite as secret as the underworld; everything in her private Who's Whodepended on what kind of duke, what kind of millionaire, even whatkind of actress. Carey happened to be her kind, which was the kindthat could be invited to the Colony Club. She said: "Well, darling, Iguess you could call him something in a broker's office if you wanted.D'you really mean you've never heard of him?... I suppose that'spossible--he's not the type that goes popping toy balloons at nightclubs. Neither are you, for that matter--you two ought to get on welltogether."

"Oh, I don't suppose we shall meet again."

"You mean you won't call him up?"

"I'll be so busy with the play from now on. I think I'll take it to thecountry and let it simmer in my mind for a few weeks."

Michaelson gave her a typescript the next day, after which she went toVermont to stay with the Whitmores, old friends whom she had known sincethe year of "the struggle," as she called it to herself--that first yearin America when Paul couldn't find any kind of job. The Whitmores hadbeen the means by which he had finally got the chance he needed. Theywere comfortably off, but not rich, and the small paper mill which theyowned and in which Harry Whitmore worked was a mile from their house atthe other end of the small town. An open invitation to visit them anytime she could spare was her only effective consolation for having soldMapledurham, and now she was quick to avail herself of it. She read thenew play in the Whitmores' garden, and thought it pretty good; but evenwhile she thought so she was distrusting her own judgment--was itgood, was it really good? Of course there were comedies that made onelaugh aloud at a first skim-through and later proved complete flops onthe stage; perhaps the reverse could also operate. She certainly did notlaugh or even smile during the several hours she gave to a carefulreading, and afterwards she picked up a published copy that theWhitmores had of her last play and tried to imagine that that too wasnew--would it have seemed amusing either? But of course the test wasinvalid--the lines came to the ear as well as to the eye, and with theremembered laughter of an audience as punctuation. When Michaelsontelephoned later in the day, eager to know her reaction, she had to tellhim that she liked the new play well enough, because it would haveseemed absurd to confess that her lukewarmness was probably due to someprivate mood of her own.

A few days later Michaelson arrived with contracts. He had made aspecial trip to get her signature. Somehow she had not expected therewould be that degree of urgency, but such evidence of being sought aftergave her a touch of cheerful panic. She signed, measuring the weeks tillAugust, when rehearsals would begin. Plenty of time to work up the rightmood of enthusiasm....

Towards the middle of July she returned to New York and met the author,who took her to lunch and proved, almost by algebra, that he had writtena sure-fire successor to a success. But later the same day at a partyshe met another author who said he had heard a rumor that the new playwas a bit of a letdown--what did she think? She used up all hernew-found confidence in denying it vehemently.

That evening at her apartment she read the play again, speaking many ofthe lines aloud, and in the midst of so doing she remembered Paul'sremark: "It's about time you were bored with comedy." Was it that? Orwas she still just tired?

Suddenly she doubted that she would be any less bored or tired had itbeen a tragedy and the greatest play ever written. And in that mood, arather frantic one, she ransacked her desk for Austen Bond's note anddialed his number. She knew by then who he was.



Part Three


Austen Bond was not well known in the modern metropolitan sense--thatis, to newspaper columnists, headwaiters, and the man in the street. Hewas rich, and had his own importance, but the firm of investment brokersof which he was head was not one of those on everybody's lips and he hadno ambition to make it so. There was something in his mental attitudethat always preferred quality to size, and his place in financialcircles was of this kind also; he was satisfied to make a personalfortune just less than sensational and to influence, occasionally andobliquely, those who had greater influence. The stock market collapsehad not affected in the slightest degree the routine of his privatelife, which had long been unpretentious. His attitude towards thefuture, including his own, was affected by his unspoken opinion thatcapitalism had begun to die. He did not think this was good, but hebelieved it was inevitable; and he had found from a few scraps of earlyexperience that many people assume that the man who prophesies somethingalso wishes it to happen. In his case this was not true, and would havebeen absurd if it had been; but his knowledge of how easily anddangerously he would be misunderstood made him keep his mouth shut. Hewas less tempted to open it because he also believed that, on the scaleof events that he foresaw, nothing he could do or persuade others to docould change the outcome to any worthwhile extent. He therefore confinedhis activities to certain machinations of the market, in which it wouldhave been as naïve to be a Marxian as to be a Seventh-Day Adventist.

Within this somewhat chilly circumference the intimate structure of hislife had developed, up to a point, quite genially and not veryremarkably. He had been left money and a job by his father, a WallStreet man of the old school, while his mother had contributed goodlooks and an equipment of innate good tastes in the arts. Education atGroton and Harvard had followed, after which there had been years ofhard work. In 1920, aged thirty-six, he had married a New Hampshire girlwho loved horses and dogs and enjoyed New York only as a visitingcountry cousin; so he had bought some land in Connecticut and there theyhad spent much of each year quietly and very happily indeed. In 1925 shehad died in an influenza epidemic, leaving a boy of three named Norris.After that he had lived even more retiringly, but mainly in the oldfamily house in the East Sixties that he had inherited from his father.He had an unmarried aunt who often played hostess at his small and nottoo frequent dinner parties; he belonged to a few good clubs and likedto go to plays, art exhibitions, and concerts. During school holidays,when Norris was at home, he sometimes took the boy to places like theMetropolitan Museum and the Statue of Liberty. He had, behind a reservethat was hard to penetrate, a quietly inflexible will and a loyalty tothose who worked for him, so that those who knew and liked him best weredoubtless his employees and servants.

Austen had hardly expected to pick up an acquaintance with an actress onboard the Berengaria. Not that he felt superior to the actingprofession; on the contrary, he had a playgoer's affection for itsleading figures, and Carey had often pleased him from the other side ofthe footlights. But he would not, had anyone forecast it, have agreedthat he was at all likely to take initiative in getting to know her.What had made him do so was that she looked unhappy. Minutes before shesaw him he had recognized her; then he had closed his eyes to wonderwhat could be the matter, for though he was not simple enough to thinkthat comedy stars must always be gay, the contrast between hisrecollection of her on the stage and the way she looked in the adjacentdeck chair had been too startling to ignore. Perhaps it was just theeffects of a rough crossing; he hoped so, but he wished he could findout. Finally a kindly curiosity had made him speak.

And of course she had proved to be a mixture of everything he rememberedand much that he could now so pleasantly discover for himself, once theplunge had been taken; she still looked unhappy yet she was goodcompany, and certainly hard to put out of his mind when the trip wasover.

During dinner on that first evening at home he had said to Dunne, hisbutler: "I suppose you got Miss Arundel through the customs all right?"

"Yes, sir. And she asked me to thank you. A very charming lady... andI mean a lady." (Dunne, a Scotsman, was careful to avoid the behaviorof the stereotyped English butler--he was not obsequious, and he neverused the phrase "if I may say so.")

"Oh, and what makes you so sure of that?"

"She knew better than to tip me."

Austen laughed--which did not mean that he failed to take the diagnosisseriously. He had a very high regard for Dunne's social assessments;there was something professional about them, as if he himself were tooffer his opinion of Portuguese Fours. Indeed, he had a high regard forthe man altogether. As his father's butler Dunne had been his boyhoodfriend, had taught him chess, and to ride a bicycle, and how to identifydifferent birds in Central Park; Dunne had taken him for vagrant walksalong Madison Avenue, explaining the difference between real and shamantiques in the shops; Dunne had lent him money when he had overspenthis schoolboy allowance, had visited him at Harvard after his father'sdeath to break the news that his mother was seriously ill. And Dunne,after Fran's death, though no one knew about this, had helped himthrough the worst crisis of bereavement. Austen had sometimes wonderedif in an improved world, where there would doubtless be no master andservant, any other framework for such a relationship would be devised.If not, he would consider the improvement overrated.

When Carey telephoned he felt a stab of pleasure as he heard her voice.After the long interval he had ceased to expect her to call; he assumedshe must regard their acquaintance as a mere shipboard freak. He had agenuine modesty that made him consider himself dull by the standardsthat professional entertainers might set, and that an actress shouldseek his company must mean either that she liked him or that she wascoldly appraising his social and financial eligibility. All his instinctwas to believe Carey incapable of the latter.

He invited her to dine with him the following evening at his house, andher prompt acceptance sounded so much like that of an old friend that helet himself forget that they knew each other so slightly. Theirtelephone conversation was short, and that too pleased him; she couldnot, he reflected, have known how he disliked telephoning and how rarelyhe gave anyone his private number. Then he asked himself why he had,since the postal address would have sufficed, and the reason he fastenedon was that he had wished to give her a better chance to act on impulse.After all, it was impulse that had made him speak to her on theBerengaria, and impulse, having begun so well, might claim a right tobe encouraged. For him it was at least a novelty in a life so largelyreasoned and reasonable. He sat in his favorite chair in thedark-paneled library and meditated long after he had spoken to her. Onlyonce did he have a flash of misgiving--when he wondered again if shewould find an evening with him pretty dull--if, for instance, she wouldexpect a lively party, or even for that matter a tête-a-tête--for ofcourse his old aunt would be present, he would observe all theproprieties, at any rate until friendship had become established. And hemust tell her, he decided, why it was that he hadn't invited her to arestaurant.

He told her while they drank sherry together in that same room the nextevening. He noted her dress--black and gold, very becoming, and alsotactfully suitable to whatever he or others might have been wearing, forin the brevity of his invitation he had given her no clues. He noticedalso her gray-blue eyes and the little gap between one side tooth andits neighbor, a gap too small for a dentist to fill, yet a pleasingimperfection, especially when she gave the slightly twisting smile thatmatched her prevalent mood.

He was saying: "I hope you wouldn't have preferred going to arestaurant, but the fact is, as long as Prohibition's the law of theland I don't care to break it publicly." He smiled. "You can judge howmoral that attitude is from the way I'm willing to transgress inprivate."

"I think it could still be a moral attitude," she answered. "They're aptto be stronger than morals--or rather, they can hang on long aftermorals give up."

Wondering what was in her mind, he went on lightly: "It also happensthat I hate noise and commotion and sitting amongst strangers--except,of course, when it's all made worth while by a good play. Tell me, how'sthe new one coming along?"

He saw a shadow cross her face till she made the effort of dismissal."Oh pretty well. I've read it and signed the contracts, but we don'tbegin rehearsing till August so there's nothing much to do just yet."

"No learning of lines?"

"Not till after the first readings--the stage readings, I mean, with thecast and the director. So many changes are made then, as a rule--itwouldn't help much to be word-perfect in the play as it is.... Butlearning lines isn't hard once you get the real feel of the play. Ifyou're absorbed you seem to memorize even when you read it privately."

"Is that happening to you with this play?"

"Well no--not so much."

"Then the play hasn't absorbed you--yet?"

"Not altogether... which means that Paul might be right--Paul, myhusband."

"Yes, I know. What did he say?"

"He hasn't read the play, of course--he's in Germany--but when we metrecently he said it was time I was bored with comedy."

"And are you?"

"Oh dear, I'd better not be. He just put the idea into my head. Isuppose I ought to be used to that by now--he's so full of ideas--theyshoot out like sparks when he's directing."

"And the director of the new play doesn't have any sparks?"

"I haven't experienced them yet. Maybe he will. Or maybe it'll be myfault for not being electrified. I hope all this doesn't sound toooccult."

"No more than my own work would sound to you if I talked about it."

"But you don't--and you set me a good example."

"No, no--that wasn't what I meant. I'm really interested in thetheater--not only as a playgoer but--well, for one reason--because ofyou. So please go on. I wish I knew more about it--what rehearsals arelike, how the director functions, and so on."

"Come along and see, someday, if you think you'd enjoy the experience."

"To a rehearsal?"

"Yes. I daresay I could sneak you in." She laughed a little and hisquestioning look made her add: "I'm laughing to think how impossiblethat would have been if Paul had been here. One of his inflexiblerules--no strangers at rehearsals."

"I can't say I blame him."

"You would, if you'd ever seen him turn somebody out."

"From the look on your face I can see you don't blame him either."

"Not with my heart, because I think I understand him, but with my mindI've called him all kinds of names."

The way she said that made him catch his breath, for the words had abeauty that seemed to belong out of their context, as if she werespeaking some kind of benediction on a vastly larger matter. Then hisaunt came into the room, and introductions broke the spell. Aunt Mildredwas in her late sixties, obviously though not slavishly devoted to hernephew, a serene good-humored woman. She had developed the technique ofbeing an unobtrusive hostess without ever accepting the role of merechaperone, and she and Carey liked each other in an instant way thatneither of them took any trouble to conceal.

The dinner, Austen thought, was a definite success. Of course the foodand drink were excellent, they always were (another of the advantages ofhome, or rather of being able to afford a French chef), and theconversation did not flag amongst the three of them. He knew Carey mustbe enjoying herself because he could imagine that a stranger meeting herfor the first time would not think her unhappy at all, though he himselfstill caught a darker mood behind her gaiety--not that the gaiety wasever false. It was strange to feel such confidence that he understoodher; so that after coffee, when Aunt Mildred excused herself to go tobed early, he hinted at a movie with the near-certainty as well as thehope that she would decline. She said: "Frankly, I'd rather see picturesin the afternoon when I've nothing else to do."

"Good. Then let's take it easy."

They went by elevator to the roof above the sixth floor, where a smallsecluded garden had been laid out in tubs and boxes. The air wafted theflavor and sounds of the streets, yet it was a pleasant place to relaxon a July evening. When she finally left, not long before midnight, shesaid warmly: "I have enjoyed myself--I like going somewhere withoutbeing involved in terrific plans to go somewhere else--I like sittingand talking to someone who doesn't feel it's boring to do just that."

He said: "I hope we're going to meet again--often."

"Oh yes. And don't forget to come to a rehearsal. Not just yet--one ofthe last would probably be most fun for you. That would be late inAugust."

"And in the meantime... during the hot weather... I have a farm inConnecticut--sometimes I invite a few friends there for the week end. Ifyou'd care to... if you like the country..."

"I love it. I was born on a farm. So was Paul--but he hated it. That's astrange difference between us--or perhaps between Iowa and Ireland,though I've never seen Iowa."

"Then I'll arrange something quite soon. Not a big party. Doanything--or nothing--swim, dance, play bridge----"

"Which of them do you do?"

"Bridge I rather like, but that won't matter--there'll be others whodon't play, and the effort to entertain you will be very slight indeed.For myself, during the daytime I mostly potter about with the man whoruns the place for me--sometimes I ride over a few fields and try tothink I'm a genuine farmer."

"But you really enjoy it--pottering about like that?"

"Oh yes, I wouldn't do it otherwise--why should I? It's like you witha new play--if you didn't like it, you wouldn't feel you had to act init.... May I fix a date, then, and let you know? We might drive outtogether."

There were many things that surprised him after she had gone. To beginwith, that he had invited her to the farm at all, and also that, indoing so, he hadn't told her the complete truth. He was a littleappalled by what faced him now--a reopening of old memories, anultimatum to grief, arrangements and complications and decisions, thewelcome of local people who hadn't seen him for years and would regardhis return as evidence that a new stage in his life had been reached.And perhaps it had. In the morning he told Dunne of his intention andactually asked the old man whom he should invite--he was as uninterestedas that in all his guests except one. Dunne pondered and spoke a fewnames. They were not of close friends, for Austen hadn't any, exceptDunne himself; but there were many people he knew fairly well, andliked, and who liked him. After a list had been compiled he said: "Ithink I'll ask Mrs. Saffron too--she's charming, isn't she? I could seeyou were thinking that yourself last night."

"I was indeed, sir."

Austen looked up gratefully. He wondered, at that early stage, how hewould have acted had his butler disapproved.

* * *

The farm was about two hours' drive from the city and a dozen milesinland. A house dating from Revolutionary times formed a nucleus thathad been cleverly added to; there was a large barn where dances andparties could be held, as well as a group of modern guest cottages. Theland sloped from the main building to a stream, widened in one place tomake a swimming pool that seemed a part of the natural landscape. Treesfringed a formal garden, and there were woods beyond, rising to a ridge.The whole property covered six or seven hundred acres, most of ittilled; there was a second farmhouse, not so old and much morepractical, in which Grainger lived. Grainger, like Dunne, had worked forAusten's father.

When Austen arrived with Carey towards evening on the last Friday inJuly he braced himself for the shock of seeing again the place where hehad been so happy, but the shock was not what he had expected: itstruck, but without the leaden bruise; it was more a sharpness that madehim specially sensitive to Carey at his side. "Well, here we are," hesaid, as they drove up. He hoped she would catch, as he did, the beautyof the old brick in the sunset glow, and when she remarked on it, assurely as if he had pointed it out, an unbelievable pleasure filled him.They left the car, Dunne (who had been there since morning) helping themand taking the bags; the familiar entrance and hall beyond faced himwithout challenge. He had thought he would remember Fran; but instead hecould only think of Carey.

Several other guests had already arrived; more were expected later. Theywere not celebrities, though not nonentities either; the PeterRushmores--he an architect--had probably the best-known name. There wereno brokers or financiers. Austen did not like to talk his own shop, butother people's interested him--he had a wistful curiosity about suchthings as how to run a woman's page, or excavate for a sub-basement, orcook clam chowder. All the people he liked enough to have at the farmwere working people in an extended sense; it was not that he did notcare for drones, but that drones were usually the kind of people he didnot care for. And perhaps because the people he did care for wereattractive and hard working, they were often successful in their ownfields--successful enough for them not to think of him primarily as aperson "worth knowing." He was, indeed, immensely wealthier than theywere, and quick to help them in any financial emergency (there had beensome lately, since the stock market collapse), but he liked their ownsuccess to guarantee him against the fear that their friendship couldhave any ulterior motive. To this extent, wealth had been a restrictiveinfluence in his life; it had made him cautious in affection, notbecause he was afraid of being sponged on, but because he shrank from anemotional investment that might turn out humiliatingly. In a profoundsense he knew the corrupting power of wealth, and on a scale impossibleto convey to anyone outside his own business; he knew that not onlyindividuals, but whole classes and generations and empires could catchthe Midas infection, and it was his belief (private, like most of hisbeliefs) that America in the twenties had been so infected. Apart fromthe personal havoc which was tragic and obvious around him, he could notregret what had been happening in Wall Street since the previousOctober; but he would never say so, because his own position as eitherCassandra or moralist would be clearly impossible. Once again hisimpulse to be secretive was geared to the likelihood that few peoplewould understand him. On perhaps the worst day in Wall Street's historya frenzied speculator had somehow pierced his line of clerks andsecretaries and demanded face-to-face how he could reconcile it with hisconscience to profit out of national disaster. Austen must have beendisturbed or he would not have replied, as he did: "The nationaldisaster is not that prices should now fall, but that they should everhave been forced so high. To that disaster I did not contribute--on theother hand, my own operations tended to prevent them from going higher.And today, my friend, while you have been adding to what you call thedisaster by selling, I have been supporting prices by buying back. Thefact that I personally profited is immaterial." It was the only time(and an ill-chosen one) that he attempted a logical, indeed a classicdefense of his own function, and the reason (illogically) was that thetroubles of other people did affect him, and all the more because evento say so would have seemed hypocritical.

That week end at the farm made proof, if he had ever needed it, thatCarey could come close to his heart and mind if she wished. Whether thiswas likely he could not yet decide. But he guessed that her husband'sreturn (in September, she had said) would set limits to whatever had notbeen accomplished before.

"You must be looking forward to it," he said, as they inspected thestables and milking sheds that Sunday morning.

"Oh yes," she answered eagerly, and then added, as if she were having tothink it out: "Yes, I think so."

"Only that?"

She laughed. "It's really quite a lot. I couldn't ever really explainjust how I do feel about Paul."

He took that as a closure of the subject till she went on: "It'sstrange--I'm quite happy without him so long as I know he's happy. Idon't miss him, exactly, and I know when he does come home what a to-dothere'll be--everything upside down, the whole of my life in an uproar.He consumes people. It's probably good for me, though--I'm naturallyrather lazy."

"How's his film progressing?"

"All right, I suppose. He doesn't write much about it."

"Don't you ask him?"

"Yes, and he doesn't answer."

"So he doesn't answer, and you don't miss him, and you don't really wantyour life to be in an uproar, and yet... there must be an 'and yet.'"

"There is... but I don't know what it is."

"It might be love."

"Yes, it might, mightn't it? I expect we all love differently."

They walked some way while he told her about the farm, the way he hadacquired it, and his plans for development. Apparently it had been onlyhalf arable land at first, and he had made a point of reclaiming moreand more each year, clearing, liming and fertilizing; he had taken ascientific interest in soil conservation and had experimented withdifferent kinds of crop rotation. Everything that modern farm managementcould do was still in progress, for he had good men working for him; butthe way he talked of it somehow conveyed a revival of his own interestafter a long interval, and he could guess that she sensed this. So hesaid abruptly: "I misled you when I asked you here. I gave you animpression that these week ends were a normal thing for me. Actuallythis is the first time I've been here since my wife died."

"Yes, the Rushmores told me."

"You must have thought I hadn't been very frank."

"I don't think it matters, now that I know."

"I'm glad you know. Fran and I were so very happy."

"I was told that too."

"I didn't think I'd ever have the nerve to face all the memories--placeswe did this and that, the walks we took--Sunday morning walks, just likethis.... My boy Norris comes home soon. Will you spend another weekend here and get to know him?"

"I'd like to very much."

He took her arm. "Good--because we must make the most of our time,mustn't we, before your play opens?"

"Yes, I'll be pretty busy then, one way and another."

He was fairly sure that the same interpretation of that was in boththeir minds.

* * *

She visited the farm again, but this time he had no one else thereexcept Norris and Aunt Mildred. He had expected Norris to like Carey,and the boy did, but it somewhat amazed him that she seemed to enjoy themeeting for its own sake. He himself was devoted to his son, but hefound it hard to establish contact with a somewhat difficulteight-year-old, and he had set the age of fifteen in his mind as a datefrom which he and Norris could really begin to understand each other.And of course it would be easier still, later on. He looked forward mostof all to a young man, home from Harvard, discovering his father as anequal.

"He's so friendly and intelligent," Carey said. "It's fun to talk tohim."

"Because you know how."

"Well, most children are actors, so we have that in common.... Paulused to say he could make an actor of any child under ten--and untilhe was ten."

"Did... does Paul like children?"

"I think he would have, if we'd had any. Whenever he directed childrenin a play he was like a rather sinister Santa Claus, if you can imaginesuch a thing. They were fascinated."

"As you were too."

"Me? Oh no, I wasn't taken in for a moment."

"I meant that you must have been fascinated in some kind of way--whenyou first met him.... A man so... so remarkable..."

"Oh, then? Yes, I was seventeen and he came to Dublin on business. Hewas the first brilliant man I ever knew. And the most brilliant. Healways has been. I only wish he'd be brilliant now about the new play."

"It's worrying you?"

"Not exactly. It's just that I'm not excited enough. One ought to beexcited about a new play."

"Or else not be in it at all?"

"But the part's made for me--written for me, in fact. I don't know whatthere is wrong--maybe nothing. I expect I'll be all right on the night.That comes under the heading of famous last words."

"You don't get nervous?"

"Heavens, yes. Paul does too--he can lose ten pounds during rehearsals.And that doesn't do him any harm either."

"He's a big man?"

"Big?" The word seemed to amuse her. "Well, he's... I think I'vegot a photograph."

She opened her handbag and found a snapshot. "I took this several yearsago--it's good because it doesn't flatter like the professional ones."

Paul was unlike anything Austen had in the least expected, and from thenon, in a curious way, he thought of Carey a little differently.

He said: "A personality--one can tell that.... And what a prettygarden."

"It is, isn't it? Only a small place, near Stroudsburg, not really asbeautiful as here, but I used to love it."

"You don't go there any more?"

"We had to sell--or rather, I had to--last year. I lost a lot in themarket and I didn't think I could keep up two homes."

"Didn't you once tell me Paul sold out at the top?"

"Oh yes, he did. He was smart--or else lucky."

He gripped her arm. "I'll tell you one way he's lucky, and that's tohave you.... I hope he realizes it."

"But I'm lucky too. I'd never have been successful on the stage withouthim."

"You're very modest to say that. Does he agree with you?"

"You bet he does. He's not modest."

She laughed, and he had again a feeling which only now he was able toput into words for his own private consideration later: that Paul didnot make her happy, but that in some incurable way she was able to takedelight in him.

* * *

She had scored such a definite hit with Norris that it was obvious toassume another meeting soon. Austen was pleased on the boy's behalf, buthe was also glad for himself because it meant a further stage in theirown advancing friendship. He knew by now that he was very much in lovewith Carey.

They met often during the weeks that followed. She visited the farm atweek ends, when there were sometimes, but not always, outside guests;she dined frequently at the house in the East Sixties, where there wasusually only Aunt Mildred with them. He realized that she found, both atthe farm and at the house, some kind of comfort that appealed to her. Asthe rehearsals for the new play got under way, he guessed that what hecould offer, if nothing else, was actually a refuge from the theater--aplace where she could not be reached on business, where she need nottalk or even think about it if she wished not to. He had once called forher at her own small apartment, and during the short time he was therehad heard her end of several long telephone conversations; they hadsounded to him as if the play were in trouble of some kind, though whenhe hinted this she said lightly that it was no more than usual. But shehad seemed harassed and glad to escape.

One evening she arrived at his house with a look that did not wear offafter the first drink. He gave her time to tell him anything amiss thatmight have happened, and when she kept up the effort to talk gaily heasked what was the matter.

"The matter?... Why?... So I really am a bad actress?"

"It's because you know you don't have to act with me, and that makes youhalf-act."

"Oh well, if that's the case, I'll tell you, though it's not startling.I mean, it's the sort of thing that's happened before--and doubtlesswill again."

"Trouble with the show?"

"My show... no, not particularly. I had a letter from Paul thismorning."

He did not reply, and was surprised to find how fast his heart wasbeating.

She went on: "He's in some kind of a mess with that film."

"Serious?"

"I don't know. It's hard to tell from his letter what exactly has beenhappening, but he seems to have had trouble with the people who'reputting up the money. They're trying to dispossess him--or somethinglike that.... Can you be dispossessed of a film you've madeyourself?"

"I should think so. It's like any other property."

"Well, of course to Paul it isn't. He didn't mind when I sold the housein the country--in fact, it was he who suggested it--but his work...that's different. It's like an artist having his own canvasesseized for debt."

"That could probably happen too, in certain circumstances. Is the filmfinished?"

"He says it is, but they want a different ending and he refuses to makeone. I suppose it depends on the kind of contract.... Well, let's nothave it spoil our evening. I didn't intend to tell you--after all, whyshould you be burdened with someone else's worries?"

He said: "If I had to answer that, I'd ask why you should be burdened bya rather difficult little problem child who doesn't happen to be yourown."

"I see. Your son and my husband... you'd class them both asproblems?"

"Aren't they?"

"But I like Norris, and I don't think you'd like Paul. Unless hehappened to be in one of his charming moods."

"You think I'd find him irresistible then?"

"I've known it to happen."

"Does his letter ask your advice?"

"I'm afraid he's had that--I told him at the outset to make sure of agood lawyer. I wish I could help him, but what can I do--from here? Andif I went over to try to straighten things out--I can't, of course--I'dprobably find that the people he's up against have a case."

"You've known that happen too?"

"Yes."

"Tell me... well no, it's little use even discussing things at thisrange.... Would you like another drink?"

"Yes, I would. And I can talk of something else, I assure you. I'm notgoing to worry."

For the rest of the evening it seemed that she didn't, or perhaps shewas only keeping a promise not to; they talked of other subjects and insome ways their conversation had never been livelier. Aunt Mildred,before she went up to bed, even commented on Carey's high spirits--howwell she was looking, evidently the week ends at the farm agreed withher and so on. Later, when they were alone in the library, Austen said:"I don't want to intrude, but I have certain contacts in Germany...people who could probably find out the facts about Paul's situation...strictly for ourselves--Paul wouldn't even need to know it was beingdone. Would you like me to write to them?"

She seemed touched by his offer, then amused by it. "You're sotactful--you say Paul wouldn't even need to know about it. As if he'dcare."

"Well, so much the better. Just an outside and impartial report. Untilwe have that there's nothing else can be done."

"I never thought there was. It's kind of you, though, to suggest writingto your... contacts. They're not private detectives, by any chance?"

He wondered what was in her mind to have said that. "No, just financialpeople, quite respectable, but they have a good nose for other people'saffairs."

He cabled that night, after she had gone, and for ten days there was noreply except an acknowledgment; nor did she hear again from Paul. Shetold him that such a gap in her husband's letter writing need not be ofany significance; he was alive and well, she knew that much from hisregular letters to his mother. More and more Austen was gettingacquainted with the structure of her life, and Paul's mother was clearlya part of it. He was reluctant to put personal questions, but he did askher once if these letters to the old lady contained any fresh news abouthis business troubles.

She answered: "Oh no, and they wouldn't be likely to. She only getsgood news. He adores her--she's the last person he'd worry if thingswere going wrong."

A few days later Austen received a long communication whose contentsmade him postpone rather than expedite his next meeting with Carey. Hehad much to think about and decide. When he had done so he invited herto the farm for a week end. On their usual Sunday morning walk Graingerwas with them at first, discussing crops and animals; then when theywere alone, Austen began with no preamble: "I have some informationabout Paul. He's in the midst of a legal mix-up, and he does have alawyer, of course, but I'm afraid--as you guessed--he hasn't got toogood a case."

"They can't put him in prison if he loses it, can they?"

"Oh no, it's a purely civil action.... Why, what makes you...?"

He paused, reconsidering the question as too personal, but she answeredwithout reluctance: "He once got into trouble in England over some moneyhe'd borrowed to stage a play."

"What happened?"

"The judge said he didn't think he'd actually intended to defraudanyone; and anyhow, by that time a play I was in was making money so wecould repay the amount."

"I can see you've had your difficulties."

"Yes.... But after that Paul left all money affairs in my hands--thatis, until recently. What sort of people is he fighting?"

"A few Berlin businessmen who're much like other businessmen--they don'tlike to lose money."

"First of all, though, Paul spent his own money."

"Yes, and to be fair, he seems to have been just as extravagant withthat."

"How about the film itself? Is it good?"

"My informant didn't say. It's probably the last thing anybody'swondering about till the lawsuit is over--except you and Paul."

"He's not wondering. He knows. He told me it was good."

"Then why did you ask, Carey--unless you think he could be wrong?"

She suddenly put her hand to her eyes. "Yes, why did I ask? He toldme, and if I ever lose that kind of faith in him, I'll lose it inmyself.... Perhaps that's what's been happening to me lately."

"Carey!"

She had a puzzled look. "It's true, though. I don't seem to be able toact any more."

"Are you serious?"

"Yes, that's the trouble. After all, it's a comedy and if I'm seriousI'm no help." She began to laugh then. "Perhaps it's only temporary,till I get used to a new situation. It's odd--when I was a girl I hadambition to be a great actress, which was absurd, because I haven't itin me. When Paul came along he soon convinced me of that, but on theother hand he did make me a pretty big success--he saw something in meand developed it more than I could ever have imagined or hoped for. Butin a way I surrendered everything in the process--even ambition. Ididn't need ambition, with him around--his was enough for both of us,and of course everything he did included me--until lately. So now I haveto get hold of myself, I suppose."

From that moment something that Austen had already dreamed of became inhis mind a possibility to be handled with care and calm and infinitepatience. And to do this, to envisage the remote chance and guide it,partly following it, to the safe haven of happening--this was a task forwhich few minds were better equipped.

What he already dreamed was that Carey should someday divorce Paul andmarry him. But that, in itself, was not enough, or even desirable,unless it came about in a positive way--not only by her own realizationthat he, Austen, could make her happier than Paul had, but by her owndesire for that extra happiness. Mere disillusionment with Paul wouldnot perform the miracle; Austen had no desire to capture her on any kindof rebound. And yet, at the right moment, disillusionment might help. Hehad given the matter much thought, and he believed he would know theright moment if and when it came--or at least he would know when it hadnot yet come. For this reason he did not tell her more than a fractionof what he had learned about Paul. His German informants had done athorough job, but the weapon as handed him was too clumsy; he shrankfrom the practice of emotional blackmail, even if it would work. Butbeyond his fastidiousness was a sense of timing as subtle, in its way,as an actor's. It was not the first time he had had to judge when theday was rainy enough to make necessary the disclosure of a hiddenreserve. There was no such urgency--yet; and on Paul's return the wholething might even have to be postponed indefinitely. In that case he,Austen, would be thankful for not having precipitated the kind of crisisthat would make his own future relationship with Carey impossible. Shewould have time; indeed, it was hard to realize she was still so young.Perhaps it was self-flattery that he always thought of her as older thanshe was; or perhaps it was the one thing Paul had done--unwittingly,unforgivably, yet fortunately--for his successor. He had aged her.

After dinner that evening Austen said: "I expect you've been wonderinghow we can help Paul. How would you like me to buy an interest in thepicture?"

"You?"

"It wouldn't be so far out of my line."

"But how would it help?"

He smiled. "You were upset this afternoon--that's why I didn't go intodetails then. As I size up the situation, there are a group ofbusinessmen who originally had faith in Paul. All they want now is tocut a loss and be rid of him. Specifically, they want to bring inanother director to change the ending of the picture--to make it morecommercial, I suppose. That's what the legal sparring is all about. ButI've an idea that if someone were to come along and offer to buy theirinvestment at so many cents on the dollar--and perhaps not so very manyat that--they'd jump at it."

"It mightn't be a profitable investment for you."

"Listen--you said the picture must be good because Paul told you so.I'll take your word for it, just as you take his."

"But I meant good artistically."

"Let me keep my cynical belief that there can be money even in art."

"But how--if you did buy--how would it help him?"

"By ending all the legal tangle, with him left in full artistic control,because naturally I shouldn't interfere. It's not, by the way, a verycostly picture, by American standards. When I said he'd beenextravagant, I meant relatively."

"Austen... it's terribly generous of you, but I can't see why youshould do it."

"I won't unless I can get a bargain, so don't call it generous. Anyhow,there's no harm in having my people over there feel things out. And inthe meantime, not a word in your letters to Paul. This kind ofnegotiation has to be done rather secretly. I hope he won't mind."

"Oh, I'm not worrying about that. He'll be happy enough as long as youleave him alone."

"I'll leave him alone all right."

A couple of weeks later they had news for each other. They met at hisNew York house and he told her as casually as he could that he hadbought the film. "It was pretty much as I thought--which means that theprice was low. So low, indeed, that I really don't see how I can lose."

"Then why did they sell?"

"I don't know, but if you want me to guess I'd say that Paul's been sucha headache they're glad to get out at any price."

"That's possible."

She seemed so disinterested that he waited for her to reveal why. Aftera silence he went on: "You don't seem very excited."

"I'm sorry. I'd already heard about it from Paul. I had a letter thismorning."

"Oh, I see. And what's his attitude?"

She shook her head as if in despair at being able to convey it. "He'sunpredictable--I'd have thought he'd be glad, or at least that hewouldn't care... but the kind of letter he sent me... about someWall Street millionaire buying the picture over his head--you'd thinkhe'd been insulted."

"Perhaps he doesn't realize yet that I don't intend to interfere. Whenhe does he may feel differently."

"I doubt it. Now that the picture's finished and the trouble's allover, I'll bet the whole thing's already half out of his mind. He'slike that.... He's not coming back just yet, by the way."

"No?"

"He'd planned it for next month, but now he says he can't get away tilllater in the year."

"That's too bad... for you."

"Yes, it's disappointing, isn't it? But the reason he gives is funny--hesays he's working on an idea for another picture only this time it'll beall his own and he's not going to have interference from anybody."

She began to laugh rather wildly at that. He came over to her chair andtouched her shoulder. He had never felt more tempted to put the issue tosome kind of test, but caution prevailed. He said: "I'm glad you're notupset." (Although he wondered if she were.) "Personally I'm lookingforward to seeing his picture. I've asked them to ship me a print andI'll find some place we can have it run for us. Now tell me about yourown affairs. How's the play going?"

"It's shaping up. We open for a trial week in New Haven after LaborDay."

"Then I'd better fix a time for coming to one of your rehearsals."

"Yes, if you still want to. I thought you'd forgotten. You might find itinteresting."

He did indeed, for it was a completely novel experience to sit in analmost empty theater and watch a play without benefit of scenery,adequate lighting, or audience response. As an outsider he was struck atfirst by the improvisations--the stage manager's "ting-a-ling" toindicate a telephone call, the way in which nonexistent properties wereassumed to be touchable and movable by the actors. It was as fascinatingas the inside of a piano to a little boy who sees it tuned for the firsttime, and there was enough of the little boy in Austen to keep himpreoccupied for at least ten minutes. After that he began to listen withan effort to judge the play as a whole. Never before had he taken adeliberately critical mind to a theater; usually, like most patrons, hewent to be entertained and either was or wasn't, with no particular needto decide why. He realized he had no specialized critical equipment,still less any experience that would enable him to discount theconditions of a rehearsal. Yet the intelligence to know what he lackedwas itself a sort of equipment, and on this basis, he found himselfdoubtful, halfway through the first act, that the play was good enough,and sure, halfway through the second act, that it wasn't. By "goodenough" he meant, modestly, the kind of play he would have put moneyinto had he been the kind of speculator who backs plays at all. That wasthe only way he felt qualified to make a decision, and fortunately hehadn't to make it. Later he privately decided that the play's onlychance of success was in the stratosphere of some miraculous carnivalmood, if the latter should take hold of Carey; there was no sign of ityet, or even that it was possible. At least, however, he would give itno discouragement. So he told her, when she met him afterwards, that hehad enjoyed himself and thought she might have another winner.

"You're very sweet, Austen. Paul was like that too--a play before itopened was always going to be the biggest hit that ever was. Salvationby faith, I suppose. But it didn't prevent him from taking the actorsaside and telling them separately how bad they were."

The reception at New Haven was more favorable than Austen had expected;the house was sold out and applause, especially for Carey, considerable.Yet he returned to New York the next day with a strong feeling that thetheater was another of the things he must rescue her from. His insideglimpse into the lives of actors had fascinated him, but withoutenchantment; he had been chiefly impressed by the strain anduncertainties of their work, the last-minute anxieties and confusion,the wear and tear on the nervous fabric.

The New York opening also went better than he had expected, but by thenhe had come to expect so little that this was faint praise, and theapplause seemed almost an effort by an audience that liked Carey to makeamends for not having laughed enough at the play. He went to herdressing room afterwards and joined in the general chorus ofcongratulation; he felt that nobody was sincere, yet that the play hadnot failed so conspicuously as to make insincerity mercifullyimpossible. He was sensitive to atmosphere, even in an unfamiliar world,and excused himself from an after-the-show party chiefly for the reasonthat he doubted how long he could match the professional make-believersin their make-believe. Carey understood, or he thought she did; sheseemed relieved to let him go. The next day, calling at his house, sheconfirmed that the party had been a progressively dismal affair,culminating in the reading of the notices in the morning papers. He hadread them himself at the breakfast table, and they had scarcelysurprised him, except by the extent to which some confirmed his ownpersonal yet hesitant opinions.

She said, sinking into a chair: "Well, Austen, there's oneconsolation--now the bad news is out, we can all relax."

"How long do you think it will run?"

"After those notices? A week... maybe."

"It's a pity... all that effort... time... hopes..."

"To say nothing of money. Fortunately it wasn't mine.... Oh dear, whydid we all kid each other? If only someone had had the guts to say:Look, this is junk--what are we going ahead with it for?... Nobodyreally believed in the thing from the start--I didn't--I don't thinkyou did, either, after that rehearsal. But you were too polite--or elseyou didn't want to be the wet blanket. It's incredible--the way we allsleepwalked into it--why didn't somebody wake up?"

"Why didn't you wake up, Carey?"

"That's a fair question. I suppose the truth is that once rehearsalsbegin it's always a question of jobs--you don't like to do anything thatthrows people out of work, especially these days. And the author hadwritten hits before--he kept saying this would be another. Maybe hebelieved it.... You never can go by what an author thinks of his ownwork, Paul always says."

"Do you think with Paul as director it could have been a success?"

"He'd have got far more out of me and everyone else, that's certain. Andthe play isn't so much worse than others that have been hits.... Andyet I'm doubtful. Somehow I've an idea Paul's neatest trick would havecome when he'd first read the script--he'd have said No. And then he'dhave telephoned the author. Believe me, that was something to listento--Paul saying no to an author."

"You mean he was brutal?"

"Usually he was charming, and especially on the telephone. He would talkone way and look at me another. He didn't really like authors, but heknew they were a bit necessary in the theater business."

"It would have saved him trouble if he'd written plays himself."

"Oh yes, he tried, but he used to say it cramped him to thinktheatrically in terms of mere words. Isn't that a beautiful way to admitthere was something he couldn't do?"

She laughed, and her cheeks were flushed; she did not look as if thefate of the play were distressing her much. But perhaps it was somethingelse; for he had often noticed that when she talked about Paul, andespecially when she reminisced about him, she could launch herself intoan almost hilarious mood, as if he were still a core of pleasantry, ifnot of pleasure, in her heart.

She said, sighing: "Oh, what a cool calm house this is, Austen!...It's such a relief to be here."

"I always hoped you'd find it that. What are you going to do when theplay closes?"

"Look for another, I suppose."

"It wouldn't do you any harm to take a rest."

"Sure, it would be fun to be unemployed if I didn't have to earn aliving."

"You don't have to worry about earning one immediately."

"Oh no, I'm not quite on the rocks. And perhaps Paul's film will make afortune." Then she evidently recollected the facts and added, with someembarrassment: "A fortune for you and success for him--that'll be allfair and square." She seemed still more embarrassed at that, as if thejoke had made it worse instead of better. "By the way, when are we goingto see it? You said you were having a print shipped over."

Expecting her to be unhappy about the play, he had planned to postponegiving her the latest news about Paul, but now he thought he might aswell. He said: "I'm afraid there may be some delay."

"Oh? Why?"

"Paul... it seems... isn't pleased with me for havingintervened--as I thought--on his behalf."

"So I gathered from that last letter he wrote me, which was weeks ago.The Hidden Hand of Wall Street, Art versus Dollars--it had some ringingphrases.... Anything happened since?"

"He evidently likes litigation."

"What makes you say that?"

"He's already changed his lawyer and started suit against me."

"Against you? What on earth for?"

"He disputes my title to the property."

"You mean the film? But can he?"

"Naturally he can dispute anything he likes, but an honest lawyer wouldtell him when it's no use. Apparently his original lawyer was honest, sohe had to find another."

"Oh dear, I'm so very sorry."

"Carey, it isn't your fault."

"I wasn't apologizing. Sorry can mean--sorrow... can't it? That'swhat I feel."

And suddenly she looked it. He sat on the arm of her chair and tried tocomfort her. She soon controlled herself and pressed his hand. "Oh,Austen, don't worry about me. There's nothing you can do."

"Carey, I know your trouble. I think I've known it ever since I met youon the boat. Or part of it. Carey... may I be very frank--even at therisk of putting my nose in where I shouldn't? You're a success, thatgoes without saying--one flop does nothing to disprove it--and I'veadmired you on the stage just as thousands of others have... butsince I've got to know you personally I've admired you... so muchmore... in other ways... that... that... Please rememberthis is none of my business unless you wish it to be.... I'vewondered... lately... is it enough for you? Do you have a senseof vocation that makes everything worth while? You're so happy at thefarm--doing simple things--talking to Norris, having a quiet time...you somehow don't fit in with all the scurry and bustle of stage life."

"I wonder."

"Of course you're the first actress I've ever known, I admit that."

"Yes--and this is the first play you've ever been on the inside of,isn't it? That's a pity, because it really was exceptional. Most playshave a chance--or at least you genuinely think they have--you wait forthe opening night like judgment day, but not like the electric chair.From the first reading to last night's fiasco the prisoner marchedconfidently from the condemned cell to the deathhouse.... I've neverknown anything quite like that before. So please don't generalize fromyour one play--or from your one actress."

"I wish my one actress would take a long vacation--a year at least, torid herself of all kinds of trouble."

"All kinds?"

"It ought to be possible, if you let yourself face the futurerealistically."

"I'm glad we've stopped talking of me as herself." She began to laugh."Like an Abbey play.... And what kind of future do youthink--realistically--I have to face?"

He said tensely: "That's a straight question, but I can't answer itwithout talking about Paul."

"Oh, talk about him, I don't mind. I talk about him to you."

"Carey... do you really love him?"

"I've told you I don't miss him--except his better judgment in sayingno."

"So you're not really upset by the delay in his return?"

"I'm upset by the mess he seems to be getting himself into over there."

"Yes, I know, but if a cable came now that he was arriving in New Yorktonight--how would you feel?"

"Oh, my goodness--horrible--because I'd hate him to see the play."

"But apart from that?"

"It's very hard for me to think of Paul apart from plays."

"That's been your life together--principally?"

"Yes--you could say so. Principally. Except for a short time--at first."

"Then we're back to what I said before. It isn't enough. You've gonewithout a great deal."

"Oh, I'm sure I have."

"You ought to have had children of your own."

"I don't know whose fault that was--Paul's or mine."

It seemed to him an answer to a question he wouldn't have presumed toask. He went on, after a silence: "Carey, it all boils down to this...how long are you willing to endure a situation that can't make youreally happy--your nature being what it is?"

"Is there an alternative?"

"Of course."

She said, almost flippantly: "Oh, you mean divorce him? Sure, I could dothat--he's probably been unfaithful with somebody or other... butwhat exactly would be the point?"

In a single sentence she had blunted the weapon he had furbished forsome possible use at a clinching moment. He knew now it would beanticlimax to give her certain facts about Paul; worse than anticlimax,it would recoil ignominiously on himself. He was devoutly thankful hehad made good taste the better part of wisdom.

He said simply: "The point, Carey, is that I'd want to marry you if youwere free."

She looked up with interest rather than surprise or enthusiasm, thenexclaimed, still flippantly: "You would, Austen? Why, you've nevereven made love to me!"

"That isn't because I..."

"I know, I know, you've been so careful not to spoil things--I'm surethat's how you've thought of it, and that's why it's so funny when youtalk about my nature being what it is. You just don't know my nature."

"You think I don't?"

"I'm sure you don't. Or else you do, and you've been a bit afraid ofit."

"Carey..." He took her into his arms, yet amidst his joy, theoverwhelming joy of finding himself not rebuffed, he was aware of herlaughter limiting as well as inviting him.

"Oh Austen... you're very sweet not to have understood me for solong. That's why I'm laughing, not because I'm not just as serious asyou are."

* * *

The play came off after four nights, and Austen was sheerly delighted.Now that he had entered on this new relationship with Carey, everythingelse was in order; he was happy again, after an interval of years which,in retrospect, seemed like a tunnel from which he had just emerged. Hehad had affairs during that period, not very many, but they had all beenrigidly circumscribed, if not furtive, and never had any of them led himto the most abstract contemplation of marriage. But now, with Carey, thefulfillment of a desire reinforced the ambition he had had (he could nowrealize) from the beginning.

They went to the farm and found all the familiar things doubly enjoyablein a new emotional context--the walks and rides, the pottering about,the first fires of autumn, a long day's drive to the Catskills to catchthe trees in deepest crimson. One brief conversation, at a moment whenboth were in a mood for practicality, had settled the future as farahead as could be; it was understood that she would ask Paul for adivorce. Austen did not verify if and when she had done so, and not tilla month had passed did he bring up the matter at all. She said then thatshe had written, but that Paul had not replied. It was like him, ofcourse, not to write for long periods--or perhaps, if he were on a tripsomewhere, he might not yet have received her letter. She said she wouldwrite again, and Austen wondered, preoccupyingly but not urgently, whyshe had not thought to do that already.

Nor did they ever discuss whether she would retire permanently from thestage or merely take a long vacation. Austen sensed how unwise it wouldbe to mix this question with the so much more important one of theirlives together; if he could make her happy with him, he felt fairly sureshe would have a strong impulse, not so much to surrender a career, asto cling to the kind of life which a career would prohibit. He wasalways ready to barter the shadow of intention for the substance oflikelihood. Out of her very happiness he aimed to build a defenseagainst whatever lure the stage could exert; he would make her lifecomfortable but not placid, exciting enough yet without strain. He notonly loved her, but was a connoisseur of qualities he had found in her,and this gave his love an aspect of guardianship.

As for his feeling for Paul, it was hard for him to make up a cool mind,since he so much resented the harm he believed Paul to have done. Yetbecause Carey usually seemed amused when she talked about Paul, he knewhe must never invite her to share his serious condemnation; he mustpretend that he too thought Paul a forgivable genius, whom one could nomore enchain by marriage than escape from by divorce. For she had saidto him reflectively when they had first discussed the future: "I don'tquite know what Paul and I had in common--it certainly didn't make amarriage." He had heard that with joy, especially the past tense of it.But then she had continued, less happily for him: "So what it did make,if anything, perhaps a divorce can't take away." He had quelled hismind's retort that he hoped Paul and all Paul meant to her would betaken away, eventually and finally, not only by legal instrument but bythe passage of time and the growth of compensating joys.

She kept up her visits to Paul's mother, and he did not suggest that shemake any change in this. He asked her once if Paul and his mother stillcorresponded regularly and she said yes, just as usual, once a week,like clockwork and about as interestingly, if one judged from theexcerpts that Mrs. Saffron read aloud when she visited her.

"It seems to prove, though, that he must have received both your recentletters, so that if he doesn't reply to them it's only because hedoesn't choose to."

"Yes, probably."

A few weeks later came Thanksgiving, the second since Paul had leftAmerica. The previous year she had visited Mrs. Saffron, but had foundher in such large company, all eager to finish dinner and play pinochle,that she almost wondered if the old lady had invited her just todemonstrate how little need she had of filial duty. This year Carey sawno reason to repeat the experience, apart from her own desire to spendthe day with Austen, but she thought it polite to announce the change inadvance and as tactfully as possible. She came to Austen's house directfrom this encounter, and her face, flushed and a little agitated, toldhim at once that something had happened. He took her into the libraryand knew better than to start a cross-examination.

She sat by the fire and drank a glass of sherry before ceasing tochatter about unimportant things. His house seemed to give her calmnesswhenever she needed it. Then she exclaimed: "Oh, what a terrifyingperson, Austen. No wonder Paul always capered with her. Capered, yes.I can see now he had to do something in self-defense."

Austen poured a drink for himself and threw a log on the fire. "Does shemind if you don't eat with her on Thursday?" he asked with deliberatematter-of-factness.

"Oh no, that's all right. She's the center of a sort of salon--shewon't be alone. But we got on to much more dangerous topics thanThanksgiving.... She's incredible, Austen. She's been writing toPaul about us for weeks."

"What?"

"Writing to him... all the time..."

"You'd better tell me how all this cropped up."

"Yes... quite a scene it was, believe me. I've never pretended Ididn't know you, but since she didn't mention you to me till today, Inever did to her. Yet all the time, it seems, she's been gatheringinformation--gossip, I suppose--and sending it on to Paul. In factthey've been having a long correspondence together--about you--and me.She knew, for instance, that I'd asked Paul to give me a divorce."

He said, in a clipped voice that was a further attempt to suppress hisown tensions: "Does she know whether he will?"

"She hates me, so she's in favor of it... but she wants Paul to bringthe suit himself, and she'd like him to make all kinds of accusations.Involving you, I'm afraid."

"Except for your sake, Carey, I wouldn't give a damn. But never mindwhat she wants--what's he going to do?--that's the issue."

"Nothing."

"Nothing?... Nothing?... How can anyone do nothing?" He added,taking her hand: "I'm sorry. I really must keep my temper."

She nodded in sympathy. "I know. Paul always had the most subtle ways ofbeing a nuisance."

"It's not subtle and I'd call it worse than a nuisance."

She did not reply to that, and after a silence he continued: "So he justwon't give an answer at all.... Is that what it amounts to?"

"No, he's been quite frank in a letter to his mother. He says I can gothrough any legal procedure I want, but he won't do anything. He won'tcontest it, or agree to it, or acknowledge it, or discuss it with me oranyone else--he won't accept or sign any papers or answer letters--hesimply won't make a move of any kind." She began to smile and there camefrom her a sound that was amazingly like a giggle, but her face had lostits flush and was now very pale. She was clearly under a strain perhapsas great as his own.

He said, in a level voice: "Well, I think we can handle all that if weput it in the right hands. The main point is that he won'tcontest--unless he changes his mind."

"Oh, I don't think he'll do that, from the mood he's in.... He'sdifferent from his mother, although in so many ways she's made him whathe is. He turned down flat her idea of accusing me... of us... ofanything. I saw the letter. I was surprised at the tone of it--I don'tbelieve he ever squashed her quite so utterly before. He doesn't reallywant to harm people."

"Carey, he couldn't harm us if he tried. Take my word that hecouldn't--he's in no position to--he's... oh well, so long as yourealize that, let's not argue. It's something, of course, that he isn'tas vindictive as his mother, but I don't think I'll express anygratitude. I'm not one of those disappointed authors whom he makes aspecialty of charming."

He would have regretted and apologized for the sarcasm had he not seenher smiling again, in the way that hurt him immeasurably, yet which hedid not dare comment on, much less rebuke her for. She said: "I'd liketo see him trying to charm you, though"--and then continued, as ifeased by the thought: "She showed me the letter. She was so angry Idon't think she realized that some of it was what she wouldn't haveliked me to know. I mean, the part where Paul told her off.... Ididn't think he was capable of it.... Imagine, though, she'd beenstoring all this up for weeks--never a word about it all the times I'vebeen meeting her... till today."

He could well imagine it, being schooled in such reticences himself, buthe answered: "Put the whole thing out of your mind, Carey, if you can.It's just a lawyer's problem from now on. So long as we both get what wewant in the end, and we know what that is, the details aren't of anyconsequence."

"But some of them are so funny, Austen--such as when he said in theletter that every true Catholic would applaud his attitude. Actually,yes--those were his words! He isn't a Catholic, and nor is she, and it'sdue to him, probably, that I'm not much of one myself any more--yet hecan talk about every true Catholic applauding him! You'd think he wasleading the Counter-Reformation or something! Just how important does hethink he and his attitudes are?"

Even though the mockery was against Paul, and quite scathing, he couldnot share the spirit of it, because there was nothing in what he knew ofPaul to impel him to any kind of laughter. He said, bringing her back toseriousness: "Well, after what happened this afternoon, you certainlywon't want to see his mother again."

"Probably not. I'm not good at having rows--they upset me. That's whyI'm a bit upset now."

"I understand that, Carey. I hate rows too. I never want to see again aperson I've quarreled with."

"And I hate to quarrel with anyone I hope to see again. Is thatthe--same thing?"

He took some satisfaction from thinking it might be. At any rate, theold routines of her life were breaking up, and, as he planned it, thenew ones under his guidance would presently take possession.

The next day he had a long interview with his lawyers, as a result ofwhich Carey visited another lawyer recommended by them. Austen wasanxious that she should have as little as possible to do with the actualmachinery of the suit, that she should not even know the state of itsprogress, beyond what was necessary; and for this reason he rarelyreferred to it during the weeks that followed, though he himself waskept informed of every detail. His lawyers had served him for years andhe trusted them enough to be perfectly frank about his own interest inthe case; he told them also of the somewhat peculiar attitude to beexpected from the husband. Doubtless they passed this on to Carey'slawyer, whom Austen was careful not to meet or have any direct dealingswith. He was all for employing that discretion which was the betterpart, not only of valor, but of getting his own way. Nor had he beencompletely candid with Carey in saying he would be indifferent to anyaccusations made against him, nor was it true that Paul had no power toharm by smearing. The power to do this, as he well knew, is conferred bythe person whose position is high enough to be smearable, and thoughordinary scandal could not affect him professionally he was personallysensitive to it and had an almost pathological distaste for publicity.All these things were much on his mind while he never spoke of them.

Christmas and New Year passed with nothing accomplished. Letters to Paulfrom Carey's lawyer were not only unanswered but presently came back asundeliverable, which seemed to indicate that Paul had changed hisaddress and might well succeed in hiding himself if he were sodetermined. In the meantime he had apparently dropped the suit about thefilm--perhaps to facilitate his evasion of the larger issue. As weekafter week went by with no sign of escape from the impasse, Austencaught himself yielding to the beginnings of obsession; he resented Paulnot only on account of Carey, but because he felt they were at hostilepoles in their entire techniques of thought and action. Although he wasrelieved that Paul had refused to bring counter charges, he would havedisliked him for them no more than for this nonsensical and exasperatingobstructionism--so baffling because it was in essence so childish.Perhaps he disliked him most of all because he could not understandhim--he could not understand why, if Paul wanted Carey, he did notreturn and seek to reclaim her; or why, if he did not want her, he wouldnot gladly unload his responsibility on a successor. There seemed nologic in the man, not even the logic of unregeneracy.

And all this while, during the interval of wasted time, Austen'srelations with Carey were in some danger of languishing. Knowing more ofthe complications than she did, his were doubtless the greaterrestraints, yet she too had her own, and it was an extra anxiety that hecould not always discern them. That she was happy with him he wasconfident; but he wished he could see into her mind and heart aboutPaul--yet he knew better than to ask, or even to mention Paul's name. Hehad the feeling once or twice that the pending case had disappeared fromher thoughts, which was almost too much what he had wished for; and whenpapers had to be signed she did so with such little apparent interestthat he remembered a remark of hers about the play fiasco--that she hadsleepwalked into it. He hoped she was not sleepwalking into marriagewith him, though even if she were, he would still want her.

The only thing she asked about fairly often was the Everyman picture;and there was nothing more to tell, for the reason that though Paul wasno longer claiming ownership, the actual physical film had so far beenimpossible to locate. Here, too, was bafflement that made Austen feelnot so much defeated by an adversary as scorned by a child who thumbshis nose from a safe distance. He wanted a print of that film as part ofthe establishment of adult discipline, though if it should arrive he haddecided to conceal the fact from Carey. Whether it was good or bad (orperhaps especially if it were good), he did not wish her to see it yet;as a product of Paul's mind he was afraid of it.

Towards spring the print still had not come, but he was no longerbaffled, merely determined. For he had sized up Paul's outlandishweapons, and had devised counter weapons of his own; one of them wasguile. In this new mood (not really so new, for guile was part of hisprofessional equipment), he made a fresh approach to the major problem.Hitherto Nevada had been thought of as the place to bring suit, but now,in face of Paul's continued inaccessibility, Mexico came underconsideration. A divorce there would be more dubious legally, but therewere procedures in certain of the Mexican states by which Paul's tacticscould be circumvented if it could be shown, evidentially, that he hadexpressed an intention not to contest the case. And he had--though onlyin that letter to his mother which Carey had seen.

Thus, at the extreme of the dilemma, Austen found himself acting in away so contrary to what he would have said were all his normalprinciples that he could only conclude that his affection for Careyamounted to sheer self-abandonment. He was startled to discover this,for he had not suspected himself capable of it; and perhaps he wassecretly gratified, for to a man of his age a grand passion is a renewalof youth. He had loved Fran very deeply, but never to such a point,unless it was merely that he had won her against fewer obstacles and hadthus escaped the test. Like all men who govern themselves austerely hewas shocked to think he was in the throes of any desire that he couldnot control, and ashamed to employ the ruthlessness which a weaker manwould have enjoyed. Yet here again he was secretly excited; it was a newthing in his life at a time when most things were already getting to beold. Actually his self-knowledge did not go far enough to see the wholething in perspective--to realize that the average routine of his dailybusiness was just as ruthless as his behavior now in a different field,and that most of his desires were uncontrollable in the sense that if hewanted something enough there were few plans he would not put intooperation to get it. His shock and shame, therefore, were in the natureof sentimental luxuries--or at most, the fastidiousness of a man whonormally does unpleasant things at such long range that he escapes allpersonal contact with the event.

There came a day when he called at his lawyers' office and was told thatcertain information he had asked for could now be furnished.

"But you understand, Mr. Bond, that's as far as we can go. We've no ideawhat kind of organization these people have--we certainly do notguarantee or recommend them in any way. The whole thing is really faroutside our province."

"I know all that. And if they do what I want it won't be a testimonialto their respectability--I know that too. I hate this sort of thing, butI can't see an alternative."

"Then be sure you take precautions. There's always a chance ofblackmail, especially if they find out who's paying them."

"They won't. Dunne will arrange everything, and for cash. He'sdiscreet."

"So long as you realize there's a risk."

"I don't think there's much, but what there is I'll have to take."

A week or so afterwards, Dunne returned to the house late in the eveningafter a day filled with Oppenheimerish detail, for he had used a varietyof subways uptown and downtown, and had taken several taxis in confusingdirections. Entering the library with a tray, he approached Austen in amanner so carefully customary that he was obviously relishing the dramaof the occasion. Austen had been dozing in a chair and woke to staresharply, then exclaimed: "You're back then?... What happened?"

"It's here, sir. In this envelope."

"What?... You've got it? Already?"

"Sure. And I paid them. They didn't try to welsh on a bargain either."

Austen stared at the envelope, controlling his excitement. "Did theytell you how they managed it?"

"I didn't ask for details. After all, you couldn't expect them to revealtheir methods."

"I suppose not. I was just curious."

"I got the impression, though, that they used the daily maid, and theydid say it was stuffed away in a drawer with a lot of other letters. Soit may not be missed, and if it is the old lady may think she lost it."

"Fine.... So there was no hitch of any kind?"

"Apparently not. They're reliable people, I should guess, in their way."

"But what a way!"

Now that he knew the thing was in his possession he had no eagerness toinspect it. He did not open the envelope till some time after Dunne hadgone: then he read the letter once before mailing it special delivery tohis lawyers. Photostated, it might do the trick, but he could notforgive Paul for having made all this necessary. Again, it was his blindspot; he did not realize that the daily tricks of his trade were sosimilar in degree that their difference in kind was not fundamental.

Two months later Carey obtained a decree of divorce and the next day, inthe same Mexican state, she married Austen. She did not know the deviousmeans by which Paul had been held to be a consenting party, or the highcost of deviousness in fees to all the deviators; and as the documentswere in Spanish, there was not much likelihood of her finding out.Publicity, too, was at a minimum, for the story did not leak till it wasalready stale, and the news item as reported lacked sensation. The pairstayed in Mexico for several weeks, then took an extended motor trip inNew Mexico and Arizona. They were in Santa Fe when Austen received newsfrom his German lawyers that Paul was showing Everyman in Berlin, andwhat should they do about it? He cabled them to take no action, but tosend him news of what the film was like, how it had been received, andso on. And in the meantime he still said nothing about it to Carey.

Not till they were back at the farm in July did he decide to mention it,partly because for some time she had not asked, and he thought hersilence might have been deliberately aimed to please him at a cost toherself. He said one morning when the mail arrived: "Oh, by the way,here are some clippings from Berlin papers about the Everyman film.You know German? Quite good notices on the whole."

She must have translated them somehow or other, because at lunch thesame day she said: "The critics call it wonderful, Austen--I'm so happyfor Paul's sake. When can we see it over here?"

"I don't know exactly. I must find out what the situation is."

The situation was clear enough, had he made it so, but he was content tolet it acquire and remain in obscurity, with the result that Everymannever reached America and was hardly seen at all outside Germany. It wasnot a commercial success even there. For some reason also fewer printsthan usual had been made, and several were destroyed in a fire. Soon thefilm entered the category of those that are far more talked about byconnoisseurs than seen by the public, and in due course it becamesomewhat legendary, like the reputation of its maker.



Part Four


In 1936 Norris was fourteen, a shy sensitive boy, hard to make friendswith. He was so far advanced in some of his studies (English andhistory, for instance) and so backward in others (mathematics andFrench) that teachers held widely different opinions of him, especiallyas he did not care for organized games and would not even pretend to. Hewas physically delicate, yet fond of long walks and uncompetitiveoutdoor exercise; in a quiet way his personality was effective, and atschool he was never bullied though quite often bored. He adored Carey,whom he treated as he might have an elder sister, certainly not as hewould have his mother, had she lived. Carey had been promising for yearsto take him on a vacation trip to Ireland, and at last, during thissummer, the chance came, made easier because it could be fitted in withbusiness visits that Austen had to make to various European capitals.Dublin was not one of them, so it was arranged that Carey and Norrisshould join him in London before returning to America.

Carey was thirty-one and something seemed to have happened to make herbeautiful. She had never quite deserved this adjective during childhoodor girlhood, but now there was a special ripeness about her that wasconspicuous even in the company of other beautiful women; it was thisthat attracted artists, and several had done portraits of her that hadbeen widely exhibited. Her marriage with Austen had been a happy one;they got along well, enjoying the domestic tranquillity that both valuedso much and that made each of them precious to the other because theyknew how shared and contributory it was. Austen was in his fifties, notmuch older in looks than when Carey had seen him first, but increasinglybusy in a field which, amidst depression and the collapse of currencies,had become increasingly mysterious if not sinister. He remained unknownto the man in the street, though his marriage to Carey had made himslightly more newsworthy to gossip columnists had there been anything inhis life to gossip about. There never was.

Carey and Norris left the ship at Cobh, while Austen went on toSouthampton. She was looking forward to her first revisiting of Irelandsince she had left it fourteen years before, but most of all she wantedto show Norris the country as if it were a gift to him from herself.They stayed in Cork for a night, rented a car the next day, and set outon the westward road through Bandon. Norris drove. Probably he was notsupposed to at his age, but he was an excellent driver and tall enoughnot to be questioned. She relaxed in the small two-seater and watchedthe boy's eager profile against the green background of Irish hills.Though he was not her real son, the experience came near to afulfillment so profound that her eyes were proud, yet she did not knowwhether it was her pride in the country as seen by the boy, or in theboy as seen by the country. Because people did stare at Norris; or so itseemed to her, for she was never fully aware of how often they werestaring at herself, or at the remarkably handsome pair of them. Norris,as he drove along the winding lanes, looked radiant. It was the firsttime they had ever faced a long spell together without Austen, and sheknew he was happier now than if Austen had been with them.

They reached Glengarriff by evening and stayed at a hotel perchedsomewhat inland on a hill, with a view of the harbor over watersidewoods. It was an old-fashioned place where the food was excellent, andwhere, in the absence of gas or electricity, oil lamps swung yellowbeams into the shadows and guests carried lighted candles upstairs totheir high-ceilinged bedrooms. All of this was the exact opposite,Norris said, of those places on the Boston Post Road where things aredone by candlelight because the proprietor considers it part of theatmosphere he charges extra for. Norris had the wit to express a thoughtof this kind, and Carey was delighted because it seemed to her a signthat he would accept Ireland without too much regard for plumbing on theone hand or shamrock on the other. She knew how hard it was forAmericans abroad to be neither condemnatory nor sentimental.

The next day they drove through Kenmare to Killarney, where the hotelwas less primitive--indeed, in a forlorn and stupefying way, rathergrand. Norris diagnosed Killarney as the kind of showplace that everycountry needs, since it concentrates in one spot all the naïve elementsin tourism, thus preserving other places equally and sometimes morebeautiful. This verdict, Carey thought, was too cynical; but after all,he was at an age when cleverness runs to that, and when the deliberatelyunromantic viewpoint almost achieves a romanticism of its own. In anearlier generation (hers, by a slight stretch of arithmetic) he wouldhave been influenced by Shaw and Mencken; as it was, he gyrated amidst avague flotsam of assorted disillusionments about war, peace, government,capitalism, religion, and sex--all of which created in him a personalattitude not more than skin deep. One of the troubles that Austen gavehimself needlessly, (and which made it harder for him to get to know theboy) was that he took at its face value so much that Norris said when hewas merely flexing his mental muscles to satisfy an exhibitionist whimof the moment. Carey, as an actress, understood this intuitively.

"It isn't what he says," Austen had complained once, "it's his wholeoutlook. He seems to have no faith in anything. Even if certain beliefsare questionable, one shouldn't lose them till later on in life."

"Austen, I think that's far more cynical than anything Norris has eversaid."

Austen had tried to understand what she meant by that. But he remained(to his distress) incapable of coming to intimate terms with Norris, andthe greater his effort the more intractable yet polite grew the barrierbetween them.

Norris had once asked her glibly: "What does Father do all day to makehim so serious in the evenings?"

Carey had answered: "What do you do all day to make you bait him somuch when he comes home tired after his work? You seem to store up sharpthings to say, and if he takes them all seriously maybe that's becausehe doesn't think they're funny."

But now, in Ireland, clouds such as this had lifted and it was clearthat without Austen Norris was a less combative, though stilldisputatious personality. They drove on through Limerick and Nenagh toDublin, detouring on the way through the place in Kildare where she hadlived until she was ten years old. The house was unchanged, but thefarmland looked better cultivated, and in the neighboring town therewere modern stores and neon signs. Approaching Dublin she noted muchdevelopment--streets of new houses that might have been on Long Islandor outside London--"the sprawling anonymity of the suburbs," Norriscalled it, pleased with his phrase, and Carey thought it good too,though not quite valid, for the brownstone houses that made up so muchof metropolitan New York, or the Regency streets of Limerick, were intheir own ways just as anonymous. And come to think of it, anonymity washonest, and if there could be anything more depressing than a row ofidentical suburban villas, surely it was one of those streets in whichthe builder makes each unit deliberately different from its neighbor.She chattered on these lines to Norris, and they were still arguingabout it when they arrived at the Shelbourne. Then followed a week ofsight-seeing--art galleries, churches, the Zoo in Phoenix Park, and along excursion to Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains. But here againGlendalough, a showplace, did not appeal so strongly to Norris asGlenmalure, the lonely dead end from which the mountains rise steeply tothe peak of Lugnaquilla. By a coincidence they went that same evening tothe Abbey Theatre where Synge's The Shadow of the Glen was in thebill. Norris was much taken with it. He had been to the theater often inNew York and had even seen the Abbey Players there during one of theirtours, but the Dublin performance made him conscious of something in adifferent dimension. He tried to explain this to Carey, who was herselfwarmed by memories that came to her not only of the play but of thephysical stage, the red seats, the black and gold striped curtain, andthe tricky Dublin audience. She had told him, of course, that this waswhere she had made her first professional appearance, and he naturallyput questions, all of which she answered as truthfully as she could tillhe asked: "What made you leave Ireland and come to America?"

"It's a long story, Norris--too long to tell during a theater interval."

"You were married in Dublin, weren't you, to your first husband?"

"No, not in Dublin--in London."

"You don't mind talking about him, do you?"

"Of course not." After all, it was Austen who would not talk about himany more, who had doubtless never told Norris of his existence, thoughit was clearly impossible to keep the boy always in ignorance of such aplain fact.

"Is he alive?"

"Oh yes. We were divorced."

"I knew that. Dunne told me. But that's about all I do know. What sortof a person was he?"

She smiled, sampling the enormity of the question. Then she said, withfar greater ease than she could have anticipated: "He was... is, Imean... a very clever man... quite brilliant. He directed plays--Ibelieve that's what he's still doing. That and motion pictures."

Norris pricked up his ears, for he was a patron of the screen far moreconsistently than of the stage. "What's his name?"

"Paul Saffron." She saw no reason not to tell him, but more pressinglyshe could not think of any sensible way to evade the question. Yet sheknew it would have displeased Austen.

"Paul Saffron?... Oh, you mean those German pictures--Ohne dieWahrheit and Donnergepolter.... Wonderful!... I saw them at alittle theater on Ninety-fifth Street--there weren't even any Englishtitles dubbed in, but you could understand without knowing thelanguage."

"I didn't know you'd ever seen them, Norris. You never mentioned it."

"It was last Easter, just before you and Father came back from Florida.I'm glad now I didn't happen to mention it."

"Oh?"

"Well, Father wouldn't have liked it, I'm certain."

Had he gained that impression from Dunne? Or by intuition? She wasrelieved when the curtain rose on the second item of the one-acterprogram--Lady Gregory's Workhouse Ward, an old favorite and soineluctably Irish that it could hardly survive a journey across theChannel, much less the Atlantic. Norris seemed to enjoy it to the full,but at the next interval he plunged immediately into a renewal of theearlier conversation. "Carey... where does Paul Saffron live?"

"I don't know exactly. On the Continent somewhere."

"Is he foreign? Is it Saffron?" He gave the word a Frenchpronunciation.

"No--American. He was born in America."

"I'd certainly like to meet him someday."

To hear him say that gave her a shock which only in retrospect she foundtantalizingly pleasant. She said: "You might, possibly, if you travelabroad later on, though I'd have to warn you against him." And then,realizing how he might misunderstand unless she said more, she continuedhastily: "I mean--he'd probably be rude to you if you didn't have anyparticular reason to see him."

"But if I said you were married to my father, wouldn't that be areason?"

"Oh, my goodness, I don't know."

"You think he'd be mad at me? After all, I couldn't help it even ifyou were my mother--and you're not." He went on, thoughtfully: "I'llbet he'd be interested in me on account of you.... What broke up yourmarriage with him?"

Carey felt herself flushing deeply; this was going too far, no matterhow preordained it was that he must eventually explore and chart thesituation. She contrived a laugh as she said: "I can't discuss it,Norris. I'm sorry."

"You think I oughtn't to know things like that till I'm older?"

"Maybe--and if you were older you wouldn't ask. Now please let's talkof something else."

"Sure. I didn't mean to upset you."

"I'm not upset at all, darling, but you mustn't ask any more personalquestions of that kind."

As if to signify acceptance of her taboo he changed the subject abruptlyby saying: "It's odd, isn't it, that I've never seen you act. Were youvery good at it?"

"What?" She hadn't been listening.

He repeated the question, adding: "Is that too personal, too?"

"Not a bit. It's just hard to answer except by a plain No. I wasn'tvery good.... that is, I wasn't a Bernhardt or a Duse. But I musthave been fairly good, or I wouldn't have been able to take leadingparts on Broadway."

"With your name in electric lights?"

"Oh yes."

Clearly he was impressed by that. He mused after a pause: "I've oftenwondered if people like them--Bernhardt and Duse--would disappoint us ifwe could see them today. There's no way of knowing, exactly, is there?It's different with an old film--you can make allowances if the print'sworn or the style's out of date--the acting still comes through. Butgreat stage actors--after they're dead, how can you tell what theywere like?"

"It's true we can't judge them ourselves, Norris, but we can read whatpeople thought at the time--critics and others who wrote about them. Weknow from all that how good they must have been."

"Just as you must have been."

"Except that I was never in their class at all. And I'm not dead yeteither."

"It's the same kind of argument, though. Circumstantial evidence....I still wish I'd seen you, Carey."

She laughed. "Maybe you will, one of these days. We'll get up a playsome week end at the farm. The Rushmores would love it, I know."

"Oh, amateurs," he said, not contemptuously, but with the most crushingdisinterest. She did not wish to approve such an attitude, yet she couldnot bring herself to dispute it. She was relieved again when the curtainrose on the third and final item. It did not hold her, perhaps becauseit was a recently written playlet that evoked no memories--or perhapsbecause of the cross-examination she seemed barely to have survived. Itwas odd, though, that Norris had never seen her on the stage, so thathe could not know that part of her which was professional andaccomplished. Her life since marrying Austen had been too peaceful toprovide acting moments off stage, and even if it hadn't been, she wasprobably too proficient to be suspected of them. So she was ruefullysure he had no idea how good she was; and she had a sudden vision ofhim, amazed and starry-eyed, bursting into her dressing room after atriumphant opening night.... Oh, Carey, you were wonderful!...the word he had used about Paul's films.

And yet, when she came to think about it, she did act occasionally--evenwith Austen. Sometimes, when she was the gracious hostess at a dinnerparty, the thought had come that she was playing the role of hiswife--not instead of being it, but in addition; so that he was gettingdouble service. But Norris, she knew, got only single service--she neverplayed any role with him, if only because she did not know what it wouldbe. Stepmother? The word seemed as unfitting as any she could think of.That there was deep friendship between them she was certain, a warmththat had helped her reclaim him from the category of problem child. Orrather, she had tried to make Austen see the problem as the larger oneof himself, herself, and the world.

And so in Dublin with Norris, and without Austen, she was thoroughlyenjoying herself. One day they took the Terenure tram and walked pastthe semidetached villa where James Fitzroy had learned his Gaelic to thelast. Another day they visited Kingstown and climbed the hill to hergreat-uncle's old house; he had died only a few years before, and a newhouse built close by obscured the view of the harbor on which he had sooften trained binoculars. She remembered the spot (to within a dozenyards) where she had first mistaken Paul for an advancing gunman...only fourteen years ago, yet it seemed, and was, in another age, for bynow the gunmen were in office and grown respectable--a typical Irishprogression. Even the Abbey Theatre had followed it, becoming by now arather conservative institution whose leading personnel had mostly leftfor the fleshpots of America, and in which the early plays of O'Caseywere exhibited from time to time like upheld relics of an uproariouspast. She felt not only a stranger in Dublin but a stranger to the kindof city it had become, and this made her feel a stranger to the kind ofgirl she had once been herself--not merely innocent then of what theworld was about, but ignorant of the fact that the truth was not to bediscovered. As the wife of a rich American she was doubtless now envied,and as a beautiful woman she could be admired, but as an Irishwoman shehad been suspect from the moment the porters at the Shelbourne saw herHartmann luggage and knew she would throw half-crowns about likesixpences. She was aware of all this, but it was Norris who gave itmeaning. He, with his American birth, background, and accent, wasreal; and she noticed also that he was far less shy than in his owncountry. It was as if being a foreigner gave him greater confidence tobe himself.

He kept his word by asking no more personal questions (that is, abouther previous marriage), but he often skirted the subject, and sometimesher unsatisfactory answers must have told him he had touched it. Aswhen, for instance, he probed her acting career in Dublin--what partsshe had played, how she had become successful, had it been easy or hard,sudden or gradual. She was deliberately vague, until he sensed she wasconcealing something; he then said: "Don't you like to look back?"

"I don't mind, Norris. Why should I?"

"I just thought you might have some regrets."

"Darling, if you only knew how little I did here to have any regretsabout. They only gave me the smallest parts." She hoped the evasionwould satisfy him, but of course it failed to.

"That wasn't what I thought you might regret. It was the idea of givingit all up--later--after you'd been a success. I wondered if coming backhere and thinking about it might make you wish you hadn't."

"Oh no. I was glad to give it up--you've no idea how exhausting thetheater can be, even if you are successful. Perhaps especially ifyou're successful. Anyhow, I've been very happy since, and if I everwanted to. I daresay I could go back." She added mischievously: "Wouldit give you a thrill if I did?"

"Me? You bet. But not Father."

"I didn't ever promise I wouldn't go back."

"All the same, he doesn't expect you to."

"That wouldn't matter if I wanted to do it."

Then she checked herself, a little appalled. She wasn't sure she hadspoken the truth, but even if she had, it was hardly a thing to haveconfided in Norris. She must not let this vacation, with all itschances, generate a conspiracy between the two of them against Austen.She went on hastily: "Of course I don't really mean that. It wouldmatter, but I'm sure if I wanted to do it your father would wish me to."

To which Norris retorted derisively: "Why don't you try him one of thesedays and see? Tell him Hollywood's offered you a big contract to star ina film."

"Hollywood? Why should I say that?"

"Well, it could happen, couldn't it? Didn't they ever go after you?"

"Yes, but--"

"Why did you turn them down?"

"Oh, there were many reasons--so many I can't even remember them all."

He said judicially: "You know, Carey, I think you'd be good on thescreen. You're so beautiful--you'd be a joy to photograph."

"Well, thanks. I love compliments."

He went on, still judicially: "And also, as you said, you aren't one ofthe very great actresses. In films you don't have to be.... No, Imean it--I'm not kidding. I know something about films--at school wehave a society to study them and I'm president of it. I'd like to directfilms someday. That's why I'm such an admirer of--of PaulSaffron...." He looked embarrassed to have mentioned the name, as ifhe felt it might constitute a breach of the agreement. "Anyway, what Isaid is true--I do think you'd be a success in films. You have the faceand the voice and the personality."

"Plus a slight knowledge of acting which I could forget if I found it anuisance.... Yes, I daresay you'd make a good director."

"Oh? Why?"

"You've already learned how to flatter a woman one minute and squash herthe next, so that she doesn't know whether she's in heaven or thedoghouse."

"Is that what they do?"

"Some do."

We're still talking about Paul, she reflected, and Norris guesses it....She took the boy's arm (they were walking along O'Connell Street nearthe Pillar) and said: "Let's go to a movie, if you're so keen onthem." It wasn't a specially good one, but he responded excitedly as toice cream, animals in a zoo, a catchy song, or any of a dozen othersimple enjoyments. He was old for his age, perhaps, but there was also asense in which he was young for his brains. Nor did she take tooseriously his announcement that he would like to be a movie director.There was already a long list of trades and professions, from liontaming to private detection, that he had declared himself in favor of.

A few days later they drove north to Belfast and the Giant's Causeway,then crossed to Scotland and toured the Highlands.

By this time Austen had finished his European business trips and waswaiting for them to join him in London. They had an enjoyable weekthere, sight-seeing and going to theaters, but perhaps the mostinteresting event was again one in which Austen had no part. It wasduring a day he had reserved for business appointments in the City;Carey and Norris were strolling along Oxford Street when a poster facedthem outside a small cinema--it was of a youth and a girl, hand in hand,against an idyllic background of forest. Over it was the title in largetype, PASSION FLOWER, and in brackets under it in small type: ErsteFreundschaft. Clearly the English exhibitors had felt themselves ableto improve on a literal translation. To Norris, however, the two titlesoffered more than a joke; he exclaimed, tugging at Carey's arm: "It'sone of Paul's pictures... your Paul.... Oh, we must seeit.... Carey, don't you want to?"

She didn't know whether she wanted to or not. Several times, in NewYork, she had seen films that Paul had made, and had enjoyed them underdifficulties, aware that Austen would have been unhappy had he knownabout it, and half-conscious of guilt because of that. She wondered howshe had happened to miss Erste Freundschaft: maybe that was the yearthey had spent so little time in New York. Norris was chattering on:"It's probably our only chance, with Father not with us--an old picturetoo--we mightn't ever catch it anywhere else.... Carey, even if youdon't want to see it, may I? Do you mind? I'll be back at the hotel byfive...."

She was staring at a name in even smaller type on the poster--WANDAHESSELY.

"I'll come with you," she said.

The girl at the box-office told them, with complete lack of enthusiasm,that the "big picture" had been on about ten minutes. They went inside.It was an old-fashioned building dating from the early days offilms--very oblong, with a steep slope and bare walls. Not more thanforty or fifty people were scattered about the middle. Carey and Norrisfound seats in an empty row. The print was old and flickered badly. Theoccasional English dialogue, flashed on the screen on top of thepicture, was often absurd and always distracting. The sound track wasworn, so that both voices and music sounded metallic. Twice during theperformance the film broke and there were moments of dark silence thatfidgeted everybody. And yet, against all these disadvantages, a vividbeauty was alive on the screen and somehow communicated itself, not onlyto Carey and Norris, but to the small English audience who might well,after seeing the posters, have expected something very different.

For Erste Freundschaft was, in essence, nothing but a story of firstlove, but portrayed with such warmth and tenderness that its simplicitywas almost disguised. There was no need for the overprinted Englishdialogue; one almost felt there was no pressing need for the Germanvoices even if one had understood German. It was really (as Norrisacutely remarked afterwards) a silent picture with the kind of accessoryuse for sound that silent pictures had had--no more.

Carey was glad the theater was darker than most, for the film moved herin places, not so much to tears as to a helpless acquiescence that wouldhave made her speechless had Norris offered any comment, but he did not;he seemed as enthralled as she was, though of course less personally.For he did not know she had met Wanda Hessely; and come to think of it,the picture must have been made only a short time after that meeting atInterlaken. Carey's acquiescence was partly with Paul's opinion ofWanda--that she was a great actress, great enough to weave herpersonal beauty into the total spell of the picture; or perhaps this wasPaul's achievement. But it was when she came to thinking about Paulhimself that acquiescence became most helpless yet also puzzled; for howhad he ever managed to tell such a story? The man who made this pictureis a man who understands love, she would have thought, had she not oncebeen Paul's wife. Yet the impact of what she had seen on the screen wasso great that eventually she was thinking: He does understand, or did,in his own world, however far that has come to be from mine.

When they left the cinema dusk was falling and neither she nor Norrishad much to say during the short taxi ride to the hotel. She wonderedwhether he was old enough not to have found the theme sentimental. Hehad been so enthusiastic over the other Saffron pictures; it would beironic if this one had pleased him less.

"I thought it was very beautiful," she said simply.

He replied, as they climbed the steps to the hotel: "I wonder why hecalled it Erste Freundschaft? That means First Friendship. But itwas love, not friendship."

That evening Austen took them to the theater to see a popular play thatnone of them liked, and the next morning they left for Southampton andboarded the Normandie.

* * *

One morning in the spring of 1939 Carey was walking along Fifth Avenuewhen she saw a man coming out of a shop who looked so much like Paulthat she caught her breath. She stared fascinatedly while he saunteredacross the pavement to signal a taxi, lighting a cigar as he did so.Then, because he suddenly saw her and spoke her name, she caught herbreath again, with astonishment not only that it was Paul indeed, butalso, and illogically, that he had changed so greatly.

"Carey, this is really incredible. How are you?"

They shook hands, and for a moment she could not call herself to anykind of order. It was not so much that he looked older (after all, itwas almost a decade since she had seen him, and presumably she lookedolder too), but he had become weightier in a way that somehow suggestedmental rather than physical substance; his head seemed bigger and hiseyes brighter and smaller, and there was a somber twinkle in thegreeting he gave, stooping slightly over her hand with a gesture thatoffered the verdict she had been fumbling for in her mind--that helooked every inch, and in all dimensions, a maestro. Which was (as Foyhad once said at the old Hampstead theater) a Continental trick; and ina flash of whimsy she saw this changed Paul, dressed more Gallically,but with the same brooding effervescence, on some Paris posteradvertising an apéritif.

"Carey.... Have lunch with me?... Of course you will.... Taxi!"

A cab came up, and before she could think of an objection (if there wereany), he had bundled her inside and ordered the man to drive toTwenty-One. A bit of a character, this driver, independent spirited butnot surly, and honest enough to remark that since Twenty-One was onlyround the corner it was hardly worth getting in for. Whereupon Paulreplied, mock-suavely (exactly as to some callow actor's suggestion thata line in a play be changed): "May we have a ride, please, instead of ageography lesson?" To which the man retorted, with a shrug: "Okay,buddy, any way you want it." This little incident, so convincing in itsmessage that Paul had not changed altogether, would have amused Careyhad she not been gathering her wits to realize what would happen if theydid lunch at Twenty-One--a minor sensation on the spot and later ingossip columns. She was not going to let herself in for this at anyprice, but she had barely time to countermand Paul's instructions andtell the driver to turn on Sixth Avenue and enter the Park.

"Okay," Paul then said, grinning at her. "Any way you want it."

"I'm sorry, Paul. I hope you don't mind. But some other place----"

"Of course--wherever you like. Now tell me about yourself--all the newsof what's been happening to you."

But it was not so easy to begin, besides which she knew how incapable hewas of letting anyone else talk. Nor did he help by exclaiming, loudlyenough for the driver to hear: "So you married Moneybags in that Mexicanplace that dogs are named after." He spoke indulgently, as of a childishescapade for which she had already been forgiven, and she recognized hisfamiliar technique of making a remark in such thoroughly bad taste thatthere was nothing to do but put up with it or start a row. As she didnot want to start a row she said merely: "Please don't shout, Paul."

"Are you happy, that's the main thing?"

"Yes."

"You've retired from the stage?"

"I suppose so, though I've never definitely----"

"You like being idle?"

"I'm not idle."

"Any children?"

"No."

"Just the two of you, alone and rich?"

"My husband has a son by his previous marriage--a boy now at college.Rather clever. He's interested in films. He's studied your work andadmires it."

"Well, bully for him."

She said after a short pause: "You've been away from this country toolong."

"I have?"

"People don't say 'bully' any more."

"I know. I was a boy when they did. But I didn't, not then. I nevercared to be in a fashion."

"I suppose you speak other languages now?"

"French and German like a native.... So he's interested in films, ishe? You're not by any chance asking me to find him a job?"

"I think he'll find one quite well himself when he leaves Harvard. Whathe seems to want to do is to write."

"For films?"

"Not particularly. Not at all, so far as I know."

"Written anything already?"

"A few short stories. You might like them."

"Are you hinting I should buy them for pictures?"

"I don't believe they'd do for pictures and apart from that I wouldn'trecommend anyone to have business dealings with you."

"Listen--I've made money lately. I can pay top prices for all the movierights I want."

"I daresay. I've followed your career. You've done very well."

"So have you, by God."

And then they both laughed. Antagonism between them, though genuine, hadalways had to take its turn with countless other emotions. She knew hehad been trying to be as rude as he could, and she hadn't been toopolite herself; it was all some kind of preliminary bout, not to be heldof much importance even if the traded blows were hard. She saidseriously: "I saw Erste Freundschaft. A great picture, Paul."

His face lit up with a delight in being praised that had enoughwonderment in it to make his boasting almost tolerable. "You reallythink so? You mean that?"

"And I liked Als Ob Nichts Vorgefallen Sei nearly as well."

"You liked what?"

"Als Ob Nichts Vorgefallen Sei." She did not know much German and torepeat the words, possibly mispronounced, with his smile widening onher, made her blush with embarrassment. "Isn't that right?"

"Sure.... But your native sounds even worse than mine."

She began to giggle. "Paul..."

"And you laugh just the same--and as if that were not enough, you'relovelier than ever when you do it. I hope our friend in front realizeshow privileged he is."

"You bet," the driver called out over his shoulder. "I've driven 'em allin my time--Groucho Marx, Dorothy Parker, Katie Hepburn, MauriceChevalier, Sophie Tucker.... Who are you two?"

"Did you ever hear of Carey Arundel?"

"Who?"

"Carey Arundel."

"Can't say I... sounds kind of familiar, though. Are you him?"

"No, my friend. But you are so right about the name. It sounds familiar,yet nobody remembers it.... Well, Carey, what did you expect afterten years?"

She laughed again through her fresh embarrassment, and thought howexempt she had been from this kind of thing during the years of whatPaul called "idleness." Just to imagine Austen exchanging three-waybadinage with herself and a taxi driver was as fantastic as the conceptof some natural law in reverse; yet she knew it did not prove thatAusten was a snob, or even that Paul was democratic. It proved nothing,in fact, except that Paul was still Paul.

She said: "I didn't expect to be remembered, so it doesn't bother me atall to find I'm not. You, of course, can't understand that.... Whydon't we lunch somewhere on Upper Broadway?"

"Suits me. Take us to the best place you know, driver."

"On Upper Broadway? All among the Hoi Polloi? Okay, buddy."

He drove them to a restaurant that was supposed to look like an Englishchophouse. Paul tipped him extravagantly and was very regal with aheadwaiter who was not used to regality, the table waiter, however,turned out to be a Frenchman on whom he could lavish exuberantconversation in that language. Carey noted that though his command of itwas fluent, his accent was execrable. Eventually, having maneuveredthemselves into the center of a whirlpool of fuss, they were served withexactly the kind of average food they would have got with no fuss atall. Paul ate voraciously, seeming not to be aware (thank heaven) of anydeficiencies. She remembered he had always had that sort of innocence; asteak that sizzled was good, and crêpes suzette pleased him so much asa spectacle that he could enjoy them even when they were leathery. Untilthe coffee stage they had the waiter almost constantly at hand for Paulto demonstrate his French on and his personal importance to; finally,however, having brought Paul a double brandy, he edged behind the sceneswith obvious readiness to escape.

And then for several moments Paul had nothing to say. She wondered if hewere actually uncomfortable to be alone with her, and if his behaviorhad been designed to postpone that as long as possible; he lookeddeflated, as so often when the stimulus of an audience had been removed.How well she knew that look, the look that said: "I have spent all mybrilliance on others; now you, my wife, are privileged either to sharemy silence or talk me out of my fatigue." But she was not his wife now,nor was she disposed to assume an old function. She watched himquizzically, till at length he broke the silence himself by saying, witha sudden sweetness that touched her more than she had been prepared for:"It's good to see you again, Carey. I'm glad you're happy."

She controlled herself to ask how long he intended to be in New York.

"I'm sailing in a few hours."

"Back to Europe? Today?"

"Midnight. It's been just a short visit. Less than a week. I was in timefor what I came for."

"Some of those top-price movie rights?"

"No. My mother died."

"Oh Paul...." She reached out her hand to touch his across the table."I'm sorry. I didn't know, or I'd have----"

"Nothing anybody could do. A chill and then pneumonia. She kept herselfalive till I got here."

"I can believe that, Paul. She was always devoted to you."

"Yes, she really was, and so was I to her. I had her over with me inEurope for a few years, but she hated foreigners and after the Munichcrisis she insisted on coming back. She wanted me to come back also, andI promised I would, as soon as I'd cleared up existing commitments, butI wonder if I should have. I wonder. The promise made her happy, anyway.And now, of course..."

She said: "Now you don't have to do anything unless you want to."

"That's about it. When something happens like this you feel lost andfree at the same time.... You didn't like her, did you?"

"I liked her more, I think, than she did me."

"That may have been partly my fault--I mean, how she felt about you. Ilet her think I didn't care for you much. It pleased her. But then ofcourse it made her think I'd be better off without you."

It was on her tongue to ask: "Have you been?"--but she quelled theimpulse, feeling nevertheless that he read the question in her eyes.After a pause he went on, perhaps evading it in his own way: "And onceshe got an idea, no matter how absurd it was, she wouldn't let it go.For instance, she insisted there was going to be war last September. Itold her it would all blow over, as of course it did, but that didn'tstop her fidgeting."

"It hasn't stopped a good many other people, Paul."

"I know. And there'll probably be more scares. But actual war--my bet'sstill against it, and I do have hunches about things, don't I? Rememberwhen I sold out at the top before the crash?"

She remembered. She remembered also that it had not been any hunch ofhis at all, but the simple fact that he had wanted money at a particulartime for a particular purpose. Presumably since then he had built thewhole situation into drama, with himself as the clairvoyant speculator;and if that could give him pleasure at such a time as now, she had nowish to spoil it.

She said: "I only hope you're right about things in Europe. I'm notnearly so optimistic."

"You read too many newspapers. If you were working you wouldn't havetime. What kind of job could an artist do if he worried over headlinesevery morning? The artist never did believe in security, so he isn'tupset to find it doesn't exist. And he'd always rather take chances thanplay for so-called safety. Why, I'm taking a chance now, merely beinghere."

"How do you make that out?"

"Your husband could cause me a lot of trouble if he knew I was on thisside of the Atlantic. He could sue me over that Everyman affair--maybehe could even have me arrested or jailed or something."

"Oh, don't be silly, Paul. First, he wouldn't, and second, I'm prettysure he couldn't. Anyhow, if you're really going about in fear ofarrest, why did you want to lunch at Twenty-One where just about all NewYork would recognize you?"

"Taking a chance, as I said."

But she knew it wasn't that at all. It was just a secondary drama he hadimprovised to embellish the occasion. More and more, as she talked tohim, she wondered how she could ever have accepted his tricks andtantrums, all that mercurial pretense and deviousness, as part of thenorm of life; she wondered how her nerves had survived the wear and tearof those feverish years. And yet she knew she was excited to see himagain, an old excitement without any of the old heart strain. For shehad no qualms about him now, or anxieties on his behalf; he was asuccess, as he had always wished to be, and she could enjoy thespectacle warmly, but with detachment. Her enjoyment, moreover, easedeverything between them, so that he began to bask in it happily--toohappily even to show off his French again when the waiter reappeared. Heordered another brandy, in English, and launched suddenly into adeclaration of his future plans--a picture, he said, based on the Bookof Job. For over an hour he talked about this, not grandiloquently orboastfully, but with the subdued eloquence of a mature mind operating ata peak of capability; and she was entranced. She knew then that theyears had increased his stature in his own infallible world, andlistening to him, she felt a certain dreamy contentment, a pride inhaving been once his wife, in being still whatever she was to him evenif they should never meet again. She wondered if they would, not hopingit especially, but with an awareness that she was storing up a reserveof memories impossible yet to assess or classify. To have met Paul, forthese few hours before he returned to Europe, to have heard him talkabout something which in due course the world would perhaps find worthtalking about--how remarkable it might all seem in restrospect.Presently she realized he had stopped talking and was staring at her.

"You're not listening, Carey."

"I was.... I think it's a great idea... great."

But this time he seemed to derive no pleasure. He said, in a troubledvoice: "You say you're happy. Tell me, what sort of a man is he?"

"Who?"

"This Austen Bond."

"Oh, him.... He's... why, he's older than--than you, and ratherquiet in manner, and... and he's kind."

"Sounds like an epitaph."

She smiled, glad of his change of mood to break the spell she hadrecently been under. "If it does, Paul, it isn't such a bad one." Shelooked at her watch. Four o'clock already--she must be getting backhome. It was all over.

He knew that too and signaled the waiter.

They shared a taxi as far as Saks, where she said she had to make acall. During the journey they talked incessantly and quite trivially. Asthe cab drew up outside the shop she said: "Paul, I'm glad we met. And Ido hope you keep on having success.... Good-by, Paul."

He took her gloved hand and put his lips to it, whether impulsively orfrom Continental habit she could not tell. "God rest your soul, Carey.We'll see each other again." (Drama in that too, doubtless, both in theCatholic invocation and in the emphatic prophecy of something souncertain.)

She smiled and kept smiling from the curb till the cab drove away. As ifto complete an ordered cycle of events, she entered Saks, walked round,then left by a different door and took another taxi home. Norris was atcollege, Austen had not yet returned from downtown, and Richards (thebutler whom they still called "new," though it was four years sinceDunne's death) said there had been no calls. She sat by the fire in thelibrary and glanced through the afternoon papers. News from Europelooked bad again. She thought of Paul packing in his hotel room, havingdinner somewhere (he could find company if he wanted it), perhaps goingto a theater, then driving down to the pier to catch the boat. He hadnot named it, and she consulted the list to find what sailed atmidnight. The Bremen.

Austen came in, and they had the usual drink before going up to change,then another drink before dinner. She gazed at him admiringly,challenging herself to think how handsome he was for fifty-five. And sokind....

"Carey, you look exhausted."

"Do I? Goodness knows I haven't done much--just a few odds and ends ofshopping." (Idle? Could the word be used about her life? She managedAusten's domestic affairs efficiently, she was on committees of variousorganizations, she gave teas and lunches to raise funds for goodcauses....)

"Must be the weather, Carey. When it began that sleeting drizzle thisafternoon I kept wishing we'd stayed a few weeks longer in Florida."

She hadn't really noticed the sleeting drizzle. She said: "We can lookforward to the summer. It's nearly April already.... Do you thinkthere'll be a war in Europe?"

"I imagine so."

"When? This year?"

"Oh, I can't say that. I thought you meant within the foreseeablefuture."

"How far into the future can you foresee?"

He smiled. "Why do you ask? The news in the paper?"

"It's serious, isn't it?"

"I think it is."

"Isn't there any kind of security anywhere?"

"You mean some country to run to or put money in?"

"More than that. Isn't there some way of feeling that whatever happenscertain things in one's own life are safe? Maybe that's a selfishfeeling, but it's what I mean by security."

"I'd call it only an illusion of security at best, but of course forthose whom it satisfies it's all right."

"Well, how can one get it?"

"I don't really know. I suppose some people buy it--hence the uses ofgood investment stocks. And others imagine it--perhaps religion helps inthat."

"Oh dear, what an icy way of looking at things."

"It's an icy world, Carey, except for the small corner of warmth atone's own fireside."

She knew he was telling her, obliquely in his fashion, how much he lovedher, and it was comforting, but at the moment she found it easier to bedisturbed by the remarkable similarity of Paul's views and his aboutsecurity. Nothing, she felt, could symbolize insecurity more than theiragreement.

On an impulse to treat him as frankly as he deserved, she said: "Guesswhom I saw today on Fifth Avenue?... Paul... of all people."

Just as Paul would make drama, so Austen would destroy it if he could.He answered, in a tone that could have been a parody of an Englishmanreceiving news that his house was on fire: "Really? What was he doing inNew York--or didn't you stop to talk to him?"

"He's sailing back to Europe tonight. He dragged me off to lunch, and itwas all I could do to keep him from taking me to Twenty-One. We went toa place on Upper Broadway. I don't suppose anyone saw us."

"Doesn't much matter if they did. How is he? Quite prosperous nowadays,I believe."

"He seems to be. His mother died. That's what he came over for. Just ashort visit. He has big plans for a new picture."

"Still in Germany?"

"No, France now."

"Well, that makes a change. He's really a true internationalist--hedoesn't care where he lives provided he can do the work he wants....He didn't talk of coming back here to direct any more plays?"

"No, and I don't think he will. The stage doesn't give him the chance tobe such a dictator. Or so I gathered, though of course he didn't put itthat way. In films he can control more people more of the time."

"Provided he makes it pay. One flop and that kind of dictatorship canend up pretty badly. The same, by the way, applies to Hitler. He can'tafford to have a flop either. As long as he goes on winning he's safe,but sooner or later something else will happen and... By the way, hasPaul married again?"

"He didn't say. I should imagine not."

"You mean you didn't ask?"

"To tell the truth I never thought about it. Paul married or unmarriedmakes so little difference to the kind of person he'd be----"

"And which he still is, I presume?"

"Oh yes. I thought at first he'd changed a lot, but it was only theshock of seeing him. He doesn't look much older."

"Fatter? You always told me he put on weight easily."

"Perhaps. Or perhaps not. He looked more... to me... it's hard tothink of the right word...."

"Well now, what did he look?"

Austen was smiling and she answered honestly, yet knowing it would takethe smile from his face: "He looked greater, Austen."

* * *

It had always been Austen's dream that as Norris grew older theirmisunderstandings would disappear and a friendly father and sonrelationship develop; but this did not happen by the end of the boy'sschooldays, and Harvard, which was to have performed the miracle ifnothing else could, proved a special disappointment. For it was therethat Norris became avant-garde both artistically and in politics, andthis worried Austen all the more because he found it difficult to telleither Carey or Norris exactly why. Clearly it was not because he wasshocked by the boy's opinions as such, and it annoyed him to guess thatNorris thought so. But it was one thing for himself, in private and withregret, to doubt the future of the capitalist system, and quite anotherthing for Norris to do so openly and disputatiously. Thus even thefeeling they shared was a barrier rather than a union, especially withthe approaching need for Norris to consider what he was going to do inthe world.

Years before, when a brash newspaper reporter had asked Austen to whathe attributed his business success, Austen had been stung to theepigram: "I always sell too soon." Actually this was true; he had soldout, and what was more, sold short, as early as 1928, and during thefirst half of 1929 it had required iron nerve not to admit himself wrongand get back into the market. The years that followed had trebled hisfortune, and during this period there had doubtless developed thetight-lipped ambivalence of his attitude towards life. For he was agenuinely kind man, devoted to the few whom he considered his friends:and the spectacle of ruin all around him, the ruin that was of suchprofit to himself, gave him a complete absence of personal pleasure aswell as grim satisfaction in finding how right he had been.

And by the same principle of "always sell too soon" he had decided,about midway during the thirties, that the planning of Norris's futuredemanded a sacrifice from himself on the altar of that long-rangeexpediency which was so often his almost unknown god; he would not urgethe boy to follow exactly in his own footsteps, entering the brokeragefirm, learning the ropes, and eventually taking over. Since Norris hadnever shown any wish to do this, the decision presented no problem atthe time; the real problem would come later, when Austen's more positiveplan would require skilled unveiling. Briefly, it was that the boyshould graduate into the same world as his own but under slightlydifferent auspices--the slight difference, perhaps, between somethingthat had a past and something else that might have a future. Banking wasthe profession he had in mind, but not ordinary banking--rather the newsemi-governmental kind, of which the Bank for International Settlementsat Basel was but the first of probably an illustrious succession. Withhis influence he might find Norris a job of that sort in which the boycould start a career that might conceivably lead to high and highlysecret places. In all this Austen was pushing antennae, as it were, intothe years ahead--a vastly more subtle accomplishment than mereindulgence in prophecy.

Father and son had once come close, but not nearly close enough, to adiscussion of the issue, during which Austen had been driven to say:"Even assuming that all your extreme ideas are correct, don't yourealize that even in Russia financial experts are necessary? Of coursethere'd be no place for a firm such as mine, but banking people, fiscaland treasury officials.... Why, I've met some of them,Norris--brilliant fellows--I've sat in conference with them. Naturallythey didn't talk politics--they didn't have to--because the field wewere all specialists in is by no means tied to Wall Street or theso-called competitive system or any other particular bête noire ofyours. Every country, no matter what economic road it takes, hascurrency and exchange problems."

All this time Norris had been listening more and more cryptically.Presently he said: "You know, Father, I'm not easily shocked, but youalmost do that to me. Are you seriously suggesting I should enter a bankand learn the tricks of the trade so that when the time comes I can beCommissar for Currency and Exchange?"

This was the kind of remark that grieved Austen immeasurably, bringinghim to the edge of a mental abyss. He retorted sharply: "Don't be sonaïve. All I'm suggesting, if you want to know..." And then hehesitated. Even if Norris did want to know, did he want Norris to know?He had all the embarrassment that fathers of an earlier generation weresupposed to have when faced with the problem of telling their sons thefacts of life. But the facts in those happier days had been merelysexual; now they were economic and cosmic, and in Norris's casecomplicated by the shattering likelihood that he knew them already andwas wondering how innocent his father was.

"Yes, I would like to know, Father."

The tone was ironic, forcing Austen to make some sort of a reply. Thishe did, coming to grips with the situation as squarely as he ever couldor did. "All I'm suggesting, Norris, is that the world of the futurewill be increasingly in charge of experts, and that politics, of thestreet corner or even the congressional variety, is becoming very muchof a smoke screen behind which the real rulers quietly get to work withthe real issues. If you'd rather be a part of the smoke screen,fine--though you'll find it tough going, in the direction you favor, andI shan't be able to help you. Whereas for the expert, life will continueto offer fascinating employment, a secret choice of sides according tothe dictates of one's mind and heart, and a very fair chance ofsurviving catastrophe.... Technical brains, remember, are the bootythat the modern conqueror cannot afford to destroy--while mere soldiersand shouters are a dime a dozen in all countries."

Norris was silent for so long that Austen added, more uncomfortably thanever: "Well, it's your future, after all--you have the brains--no oneelse can finally decide how you use them. Perhaps at least I've givenyou something to think about."

Norris answered, in a bemused way: "You sure have. You've really openedmy eyes. I'd no idea you had such a... a mind. What a mind!"

The matter was never again broached with such near-frankness. He wasless certain now that he wanted to be a writer, despite his ability tosell an occasional magazine article or short story. With rareself-criticism he admitted his lack of everything but talent, and aspiritual arrogance made him feel that talent was not enough. Presentlyit came to be understood that after finishing at Harvard he would take ayear for travel during which he would make up his mind what he wanted todo, not merely what he wanted not to do--an apparent surrender on thepart of Austen. But of course Austen never really surrendered, either onthat or any other matter; it was his campaign plan of life to avoiddirect challenge, to stave off the final no, to make opposition tohimself a bore even if it were not to be a hazard.

Meanwhile the war had started in Europe, and once again Austen was facedwith his familiar cross: something which he foresaw as inevitable yetalso deeply regretted. This was America's intervention. Liking the causeof the European Allies as little as did the Chicago Tribune, yet asanxious for them to win as was the William Allen White Committee, hefound himself gagged as usual by his own awareness of how readily hewould be misunderstood; and among those who would misunderstand wascertainly Norris. So he would hardly discuss the war with him, though henoted with some satisfaction the boy's utter confusion about it; at onemoment he was violently anti-Hitler, at other times pacifistic, the twooften blending into a "plague-on-both-your-houses" cynicism. All of thisseemed to Austen relatively unimportant compared with the extremelypractical problem of what Norris should do when the war (as Austen wascertain it would) engulfed America. Since Norris would be of militaryage he would have to get into uniform somehow or other, and Austen'sidea was to pull strings to have him commissioned as soon as possible inone of the services; then other strings could be pulled. Unfortunatelyall this was the kind of thing Austen knew he could not discuss with theboy without risking a direct rebuff, and during the summer of 1941 therelations between them grew strained to the point of an infinitepoliteness. Sometimes Norris talked to strangers in the Park far morefreely than he ever could or did at home, and once he got into anargument that led to a fist fight. He had happened to remark that it wasstrange that people who professed to follow a religion founded by acarpenter should be so derisive because a certain ruler had once been ahouse painter. Part of the small crowd took this to be anti-Christian,another part took it to be pro-Nazi; and as Norris was neither, thewhole episode became a lesson to keep his mouth shut such as (though henever guessed it) his father had well learned in his own youth.

A few weeks after returning to Harvard Norris suddenly settled the wholeissue in his own fashion by an act which to Austen seemed quiteappalling; he volunteered for the American Field Service which was thensending ambulance units to work with the British in Africa. When Norrisannounced what he had done, Austen could not hide his grief nor the boya certain sardonic comfort. "I don't know why you're worrying so much,Father," he said. "America's bound to get into the war soon, and then Iprobably wouldn't have any choice."

"Choice?... But my dear boy..." It was impossible, of course, tosay what was in his mind.

"Besides," Norris went on, enjoying the effect of his own casualness,"if I waited to be drafted I think I'd have to be a conscientiousobjector. So you ought to be glad I've spared you that to worry about."

Actually Norris was only just in time, for he was on a troopship inmid-Atlantic on the day of Pearl Harbor.

* * *

For Austen the war, on the emotional level, was his anxiety over Norris.The boy was at Tobruk, then at El Alamein; he was risking his life, andit was not part of Austen's plan that this should have happened. In asort of way he was proud, and he was also aware that countless otherparents were suffering like himself; but neither pride nor anxietyincreased his sense of fellowship with his countrymen as individuals,any more than the fortune he had made after the market crash haddiminished his sympathy with the victims. So far as his own personalaffairs were concerned, it was not too difficult to bring even the warinto the master plan. Indeed, one of the changes it made in his lifesuited him very well, for within a few weeks of Pearl Harbor he hadaccepted a dollar-a-year job in Washington, and it could truthfully besaid that he had never worked so happily as when he found himselfserving his country. Was this patriotism? He was honest enough not toassume so, and sensible enough not to deny it if others called it that.The truth was that the war, by enabling him to take a government postwithout giving up his firm, had made it comfortingly possible to serveGod and Mammon, had put the future and the past in some sort oftemporary truce.

As for Carey, the war led indirectly to the fulfillment of her ownteasing dream about Norris--that he should sometime see her in a play.But it happened far differently from anything she had envisioned. Tobegin with, it was not a first night, but nearer a hundred and first,and Norris, who should have been starry-eyed, was almost condescendinglycynical. Perhaps this was just another disguise for his real emotions,whatever they were, but she had not reckoned on it any more than she hadpictured him clumping into her dressing room in a uniform that made himboth shy and truculent.

She herself had returned to the stage in the fall of 1942, and for anumber of reasons, none of them separately decisive, but allcontributing to the event. First, there were Austen's frequent absenceson business that took him mysteriously by air across oceans andcontinents, so that she was left increasingly alone and for the firsttime in her life lonely. Austen had never had a wide circle ofacquaintances, and this had suited her well enough when he was with herall the time, but as soon as he was gone (and with Norris also away) sherealized how many friends she had practically given up since hermarriage. Most of them were in the theatrical world, and once shere-established contact with them it was inevitable that the idea of aplay should crop up. She was still remembered by producers, and sinceher biggest success had been in a rather trifling comedy, the fact thatwartime audiences favored light entertainment brought her manyapproaches. The lure of the stage, so harped upon and romanticized, didnot specially operate; on the contrary, the fear of the stage, thememory of strain and tension, nearly made her say no to everyproposition. Then a play came along that exactly suited her style; shewas good, the critics were warm, it made a hit, and at the back of hermind was always the escape clause that if she got bored, or felt herselftoo spent, she could give up. Perhaps because of this she enjoyedsuccess for the first time in her life without qualification.

Nor had Austen opposed the idea; if he had, she would probably not haveindulged what had originally been hardly more than a whim. But he merelycautioned her against overwork and stressed the escape clause. He seemedto regard the whole thing as covered by some aura of wartime expediency,like his own missions abroad and the loss of his butler to become abutler in uniform.

Norris had enlisted in the A.F.S. for a year, but it was the spring of1943 before he came home for transfer to a regular medical unit. He hadsailed from Egypt on a slow boat round the Cape; it had dumped him in asouthern port where red tape had held him for days before he could get afurlough. It was like him not to wire the news of his return until hecould give the time of his arrival in New York; he did not want hisfather to start doing things on his behalf. As it happened, Austen wasaway at the time, and it was Carey who met him at Penn Station. Thetrain was late and after an almost frantically embarrassed greeting shehad to leave immediately for the theater. She had thought he would wantto go home for a good meal and a rest, but instead he said he wouldrather have a bath at the station, see the show, and take her to supper.She was too excited to argue about it, so she arranged for him to haveone of the house seats and asked him to come round to her dressing roomafterwards. This he did, joining the group of admirers whose shrill andfashionable chatter made him stay in the background till she caughtsight of him. By this time her excitement over his return had becomepart of her usual exuberance after a performance, and she could view himwith a certain detachment. He was handsome enough, she perceived, totranscend the ill-fitting uniform; that is, it looked even moreeccentric on him than he did inside it. She gave him a lavish welcome,her pride masquerading as motherliness, for she felt, as always after ashow, extravagant in all her emotions, both genuine and acted.

"Well!" she exclaimed, embracing him as she wouldn't have done exceptat such a moment. "What's the verdict? How did you like it?"

"I laughed," he answered, and then with careful timing added: "Quiteoften."

He had probably thought this out as a thing to say, and it served apurpose by giving him status among the elegant civilians.

She exclaimed gaily as she introduced him around: "Can youimagine--Norris has never seen me in a play before! That's a fact!Darling, don't you dare tell what you think of me!"

"Oh yes, I will. You were much better than I expected."

More amusement, amidst which he thankfully reverted to the backgroundtill the others had left and he could remind her she had promised tohave supper with him.

"Why, of course. I've been looking forward to it all evening. Oh Norris,did you really enjoy yourself? I warned you it wasn't the kind of playyou'd choose."

"It wasn't," he answered. "But to see you on the stage was fun. You'regood, aren't you? So sure of yourself up there--the audience eatingout of your hand--your eyes bright and your voice and movements soperfectly controlled... but I guess all that just proves I'm as naïveas Father says I am."

"I didn't know he did... but please go on. I'd rather have youropinion than most people's."

"Well... the sheer competence of it all impressed me--just as I'mimpressed by championship tennis or Capehart record changers or H. V.Kaltenborn adlibbing.... The way you got the laughs--even the factthat you remembered all the lines. And then, on a different level. I wasimpressed by the play."

"You were?"

"Because of the remarkable teamwork between actors and audience. Bothhad to forget how stupid the thing really was."

She giggled. "I shall quote that as my own.... You did laugh, though,or were you just saying so out of politeness?"

"Sure I laughed. Couldn't help it. You had me eating out of your handtoo. But I'd have enjoyed you better in something moreimportant--something worthier of your abilities."

"How do you know anything more important would be? I'm not really animportant actress, Norris. I just happen to have something that pleasesan audience if it's properly exploited--that is, in a certain kind ofplay. It doesn't have to be a great part."

"I still think you'd be good in films."

"So does Hollywood, apparently. I've had one or two interesting offerslately."

"But you're still not tempted?"

She shook her head. "I have a feeling I wouldn't like it there....Let's have something to eat. I'm starving."

She took him across the street to a restaurant much favored by theaterpeople, where the food was good and she knew she could get a table. "Nowtell me about yourself," she said, over their first drink. "You haven'tsaid much in your letters."

"There's not been much to say that's sayable."

She sensed a cloud of meaning and felt aching sympathy. "Have you...have you had a bad time?" she asked.

"Not particularly. Did you think I would?"

"Well.... I worried about it, and so did your father. Not the dangersonly, but... the whole Army setup. It didn't seem the sort of thingyou'd easily come to terms with."

"It wasn't. That's why I avoided rank. Stay as low as you can when youknow you're on the wrong ladder. Be anonymous. I've found I can getalong pretty well with most people--fellows in the same tent and Italianprisoners and Arab kids and girls we sometimes meet in Cairo and so on."

"Girls?"

"Sure. Anonymous girls for anonymous men."

"I don't believe it."

"You don't believe what?"

"That even you could be anonymous so--so personally. That is, if itmeant anything to you."

"Who said it did?"

"Then it will, one of these days.... Coming back to your opinion ofthe play, didn't you think----"

"No, let's explore the other subject, it's the most cheerful we'vestruck so far. Since you raised the point, I'd like you to know that allwomen are anonymous to me--with one exception."

He looked excited, as if the first taste of liquor had releasedstored-up emotions that the entire evening had generated.

She answered: "I didn't raise any point, Norris----"

"Then I will, because it's about time. I fell in love with you when Iwas a boy. Didn't you ever guess that?"

Of course she laughed, then felt herself blushing deeply. "Norris,that's absurd...."

"True, though. All that vacation we had together--Glengarriff,Killarney, Dublin--everything we did and said--I haven't forgotten athing. Erste Freundschaft.... Couldn't have been more appropriate,though at the time I missed the meaning of it."

"I remember a lot too--we certainly had a grand time. So if you didfancy yourself in love with me then, it must be rather delightful--aswell as amusing--to look back to.... Shall we catch the waiter's eyeand order some food?"

"After another drink."

"For you, Norris, not for me."

"Oh now, don't get angry."

"Angry? My goodness, how could I possibly----"

"You're just refusing to take me seriously, is that it?"

"I'm not in a very serious mood, I will admit."

"That's too bad."

"But I earn my living by not being, remember. Oh darling, don't you beserious either. This is such fun--I always dreamed about it--you seeingme on the stage and then meeting me in my dressing room and taking meout to supper.... How long are you home for? A good long leave, Ihope."

"Furlough, not leave. That's for officers. I've got to be back in NewOrleans by Wednesday, which means I have to start on Monday."

"Oh dear, is that all you have--and after all this time?"

"They're in a hurry to put me in a real uniform, I suppose. Theyprobably have a feeling that the A.F.S. was a bit amateurish. And itwas, in the beginning."

"So tomorrow's your one whole day----" She was just realizing it andthinking of nothing else.

"I'm afraid it is, so if you can spare any more of your time--"

"Of course I can. Lucky it's Sunday."

"And you aren't by any chance giving a lunch party for the Yugoslav WarRelief or Bundles for Timbuctoo or something?"

"If I were I'd have you along to help out. But I always try to keepSunday as lazy as possible."

"I'll bet you need it, and from now on I promise to conform to all theproper habits--I'll not be serious--I'll be just as lazy as youwant--get up late--breakfast in bed----"

"Oh, not too late--say ten. Then we can take a walk in the Park----"

"Fine--once round the reservoir and home for lunch----"

"No, lunch out somewhere. While your father's away the servants go onSundays after breakfast----"

"The Plaza, then. And home after that with the Sunday papers and theradio. A noble routine.... Are you sure you won't have one more drinkbefore we order?"

"Yes, I'll change my mind--and the drink. Let's have a bottle ofchampagne."

She did not know why she had given such a late signal for celebration,or why the two of them so easily slipped into an air of having somethingspecial and personal to celebrate. They stayed at the restaurant tillalmost two, his dark mood lifting till they were chatting and laughingas if the world were indeed unserious all around them; then they took ataxi to the house. The watchman who sat up all night let them in,greeting Norris and telling them that Austen had arrived after a longair journey and had gone to bed.

"You told him Norris was home on leave?" Carey asked.

"Yes, ma'am, and he said he was too sleepy to wait up, so he'd get agood night's rest and see him in the morning for breakfast about nine."

Carey and Norris stood close together in the small slow-movingself-service elevator that took them up to their separate floors. Norrismuttered: "Ten, we said. But he says nine. Matter of fact, I stillsay ten." He yawned and swayed. "And by the way, Carey--it's furlough,not leave. Remember that even if you forget everything else I've said."

"I'll remember." She pulled the sliding door for him as the elevatorstopped. "Sleep well. Ring for Collins if you want anything.... Goodnight, darling."

* * *

In the morning Austen was still suffering from the strain of travel. Hehad been down at nine, and had waited in the breakfast room, drinkingcoffee and reading the papers. He greeted Norris warmly when the latterappeared about eleven. By coincidence Austen also had just come fromAfrica, having flown back by way of Bathurst and Brazil; he did not meanto be either pompous or mysterious about it, but Norris made him seemboth; and as had so often happened, father and son soon touched thefrayed edges of each others nerves. To Norris his own humble uniformconferred unlimited freedom to deride; to Austen it was a symbol of theboy's obstinate folly. Neither knew of recent physical discomforts thatwere fairly even between them--that Norris had stood up in a packedchair car across half a continent, that Austen had been bumped abouthour after hour over unmapped desert and jungle. But the latter, as acivilian, had traveled with importance, and Norris could not helpmatching it against his own self-chosen lack. He seemed at once proudand scornful of the difference. But bigger differences occurred to Careyas she looked at the two of them--that Austen was old and Norris young,yet that Austen, however exhausted, had got up early to meet his son,whereas Norris, fresh and eager after a late night and too much todrink, was in a mood to bait his father. She was unhappy about it andrelieved when the day was over. The next afternoon Norris left, and asshe had a matinee it was Austen who saw him off at the station. LaterAusten did not say much, except that the train had been crowded and anM.P. had checked Norris's pass and found something wrong with it, thoughafterwards it had turned out to be the man's own mistake. "But noapologies. Just a surly admission. That's the sort of thing he's upagainst--the way he had to take insolence without protest, whereas anofficer would have----"

"Oh, I don't know, Austen. It isn't all a matter of uniform. Suppose youwere insolent to one of your employees at the office, do you think he'danswer back just because he's a civilian?"

She could see he was puzzled by her having asked such a question. "ButI'd never dream of talking to anyone like that fellow at thestation----"

"I know you wouldn't, but if you did... my point is that.... Ohwell, never mind, it isn't important. And I expect the insolence didn'tbother Norris half as much as it did you."

"Actually he seemed glad I'd been a witness of it. As if he enjoyedproving to me how humble and insignificant he was. Does that makesense?"

"Probably--to him. You're a big shot, so he'll show you he's a littleshot."

"Sheer perversity."

"Well, it's his method of scoring off people."

"But why should he want to score off his own father? That's what I can'tunderstand. Does he ever try to score off you?"

"Oh yes, often. He enjoys telling me I'm not a great actress. Of courseI know I'm not, but he never loses a chance to remind me. And he wasscathing about the play."

"Collins also told me he got a little drunk last night."

She was suddenly furious. "Collins had no right to say such a thing----"

"Oh, he wasn't saying it against him. It isn't against himanyway--home on leave for the first time----"

"Furlough, not leave. And he was drunk slightly--so was I--we went tosupper and had champagne."

"Fine. Why not? I wish I'd got home in time myself--I'd have joined you.What I meant was... the only reason I had for bringing up the matter,I assure you... was that that might have been the reason why hecriticized your play."

She answered gaily: "Oh, Austen, don't try to soften the blow. He wascold sober when he criticized it. He thought it deplorably insignificantcompared with today's events on land, sea, and in the air. And itis.... But it made him laugh. I'm so glad about that. We had a verypleasant evening together."

* * *

In the late spring of 1945, when the war in Europe was over andeverybody's story was beginning to leak out, Carey learned for the firsttime what had happened to Paul. She met at a party a British navalofficer who had been in liaison with the French at Bordeaux during theconfused days following the German collapse; it was near Bordeaux that acamp for internees had been located, and Paul, having been one of them,had passed through the city after his release. The Englishman had spokento him. "He looked sad. It's not unusual, though. When the firstexcitement wears off, those who've spent years behind barbed wire areapt to be like that. The reality never turns out to be as wonderful asthe dream beforehand. Maybe that was so in his case. But there wereothers from the camp who read him differently--they said he was upsetbecause the Germans lost the war. That doesn't make sense and I simplydon't believe it. Talking to me, he hadn't a good word for the Germansor for his fellow prisoners either--in fact, he seemed pretty fed upwith everybody, one way and another."

A few weeks later she heard from a different source (a journalist) thatPaul was back in America--in Washington, trying to stir up officialinterest in the fate of his unfinished film based on the Book of Job.Nobody in Washington cared, but his technique of being charming and anuisance in well-adjusted doses was having some result--invitations tococktail parties, meetings with a few minor government personages, andso on. "He might pull something," the journalist admitted. "You nevercan tell. A lot of people don't realize he's American--that's in hisfavor. Being able to jabber French to an attaché counts for more in someWashington circles than having been born in--where was it?--Iowa?"

"Yes. How did you know?"

"I caught the accent and then looked him up in Who's Who. But theaccent's a bit encrusted by now. You could take him for aforeigner--especially when he wears his opera cloak."

"What? A real opera cloak? With top hat and gloves and cane----"

"No, you've got the wrong layout. A crushed black Homburg, a walkingstick that he carries into a room and leans on, and a very tatteredbriefcase. How old is he, by the way?"

"He must be--let me see--fifty--fifty-two."

"Well, he looks sixty-two. Cultural Ambassador, Liberated War Victim,Man of Genius. It's a good line with the hostesses of our nation'scapital. He has a good line with publicity too, if he doesn't overdo it.When he said he'd never heard of Lana Turner he hit the news wires....Am I being too flippant? I've often noticed that ex-wives enjoy a goodlaugh about their ex-husbands."

Carey had been honestly glad to learn that Paul had come through the waryears safely; she had also been amused at the picture of him at one ofthose Washington parties; but now she caught a conspiratorial air in thejournalist's attitude, as if he were inviting her to snicker a little inprivate. She said: "Well, I certainly hope he has luck," and managed tocatch the eye of someone she knew. She did not talk to the man again.

Nor did she pass on the news to Austen. Since her accidental meetingwith Paul in 1939 she had sensed that Austen did not care to discusshim; she had sensed too that though Austen did not blame her for themeeting and had said not a word in criticism, he still wished it had nothappened.

One Saturday morning in late August she grabbed up her mail in a hurryand did not glance at it till she was in the car on the way to the farm.Austen was driving, and when they reached the dull high-speed stretchesalong the parkway she began opening envelopes randomly and without muchinterest. One of them was a Western Union wire; it said, with aWashington return address: CAN YOU LUNCH WITH ME SAME RESTAURANT ONUPPER BROADWAY NEXT WEDNESDAY ONE P.M. IMPORTANT. PAUL. She felt hercheeks warming as she reread the message and hastily slipped it withother mail into her purse; the warmth, she soon decided, was largelyindignant. The wire might easily have been read over the telephone toRichards. And the phrase SAME RESTAURANT, as if they had made a habit ofsecret meetings... Her first impulse was to tell Austen immediately,but then she saw his unclouded face: he was enjoying the drive andlooking forward to his first postwar arrival at the farm--better waittill later in the day, perhaps till after dinner when they were bothrelaxed.

But she told him before that. They took an afternoon walk to see whatnew land could be cleared, and returning across the fields she showedhim the wire.

"I'd rather you didn't go," he said, handing it back.

"I hadn't even thought of going."

He walked some way without comment. Then he said: "If it's important, ashe says it is, he can write and give you details."

"Yes, of course. This is really too absurd, whatever it is he wants."

"Probably only money."

She felt her indignation suddenly deflate. Austen's mood was soreasonable, but his voice was cold; his guess was as plausible as anyother, yet from him it came unsympathetically. It was like the wrongkind of line for a certain type of actor; in his case it was the wrongline for a rich man. She knew he had spoken it simply and uncynically,but somehow it made her switch to an indulgent feeling for Paul, even toa whimsical tolerance of the wire. She said: "I expect he thought ittactful to suggest meeting at that restaurant instead of outside thePlayers' Club."

They walked again in silence. Near the house he said ruminatively: "I'mafraid he isn't getting what he hoped for in Washington."

"What was that? I didn't know you knew he was back here."

"I've heard a few things about him. He's been lobbying, you could almostcall it, for support in some squabble he's having with the Frenchgovernment. Apparently when we entered the war he was caught over there,though he'd had ample warning to get out, and anyone but a fool or apro-German would have. But he was working on a picture and when theGermans interned him as an enemy alien I'm sure he became anti-Germanenough for anybody. His chief peeve, though, seems to have been againstthe Vichy government for not taking his side. Now he wants the StateDepartment to back him up against the new French government because theywon't let him stay there. Complicated, eh? It's also ratherpreposterous. He hasn't a grain of political wisdom and he doesn't seemto grasp the fact that on the scale of current events he and his affairscount for nothing. Still, you can go a long way in Washington drawingrooms with a well-kept grievance. I heard he'd been taken up by one ofthe weaker-minded senators, but even this couldn't hold when the latestrumor got around."

"What was that?" she asked again. It chilled her a little that Austenshould have known so much about Paul without mentioning it till now, andthat, in substance, it fitted so neatly with what she had learned fromothers.

"It may not be true, but the story is that he came to be on pretty goodterms with the German camp commandant and actually sold him on the ideathat he should be let out on some kind of parole to finish the film, butthe plan hadn't time to go through before the war ended. Of course itwas just the way to be tagged a collaborationist, and it certainly wasincredibly stupid when the German defeat was already in sight. Anyhow,he made enemies by it, and some of them are over here now, so I guess asenator can be forgiven for dropping him like a hot potato." He addedjudicially: "I suspect the real truth is, and has been all along, thathe simply wanted to finish that damned film, and to do so he didn't carewhom he trafficked with--the Vichy French or the Germans or theAmericans or the Free French or the Devil himself. That would be incharacter, wouldn't it?"

"So what do you think will happen?"

"Goodness knows. Trouble for him of one kind or another, but that won'tbe anything new in his experience. And he usually falls on his feet,doesn't he?"

There were visitors waiting for them at the house, and the subject ofPaul was not resumed when they were alone again. Carey had expected itwould be, if only to clear up one point--should she answer Paul's wirein the negative or merely ignore it? She was certain the matter musthave occurred to Austen, and the fact that he did not mention it seemedto indicate that he was deliberately leaving her to do whichever shewished or thought best. She did what she thought he would havepreferred--she sent no answer at all, and she somehow knew that he knewand was grateful for her decision. They had reached that point inunderstanding of each other. Meanwhile Austen was having his first realvacation for years, and as Carey was not in a play and had no plans forone, she could share his enjoyment of it. Norris was in Germany, havingcome through the invasion campaigns without a scratch and with a certainamount of credit. At a world moment heavy with destiny Carey and Austencould both feel that their own personal case had been dealt withleniently, so that they could now become spectators for a breathingspell. Every morning Austen watched the tractors and drag chains at workon his wasteland and at lunch reported progress as if it weresymbolically important in their lives, and almost every evening theylistened to the radio like a good bourgeois couple and went to bedearly. And over Labor Day week end they had the liveliest party theycould assemble.

* * *

One afternoon in October the first really cold spell hit New York Cityand Carey decided not to go out. She sat by the fire in the library,reading a novel, half-dozing, and catching the muted sounds of wind andtraffic that made more satisfying the sanctuary of the room. Richards,back after demobilization, was taking his day off. Towards four o'clockshe heard the front-door bell; after a pause it rang again, and thenagain, so she got up to find out what was happening. By the time shereached the hall Flossie was at the door, closing it on someone fromwhom she had taken a card. Had she put it on the tray as usual Careywould have made no comment, but she saw her slip it into her pocket, andthis stirred a mild curiosity. "Who was that, Flossie?"

"Oh, nobody, ma'am."

"Let me see the card."

Flossie delivered it with a hesitation that just fell short ofintransigeance. She was an elderly Scotswoman, unsuitably named, but ofintimidating character and loyalty--a breed of domestic rapidly becomingextinct, Austen had sometimes said, with more regret than Carey couldmuster. Carey stared now at the card, then hurried across the hall.There was a built-out porch with side windows that gave views along thestreet in both directions; she could see a man walking slowly, aided bya stick, towards Lexington. She turned back to Flossie.

"Will you please go after Mr. Saffron and bring him back here?"

"I told him you weren't in, ma'am."

"But I am in."

"I told him what Mr. Bond said to tell him."

"Mr. Bond? I don't understand...."

"He told Richards if ever a Mr. Saffron called he was to say you weren'tin."

(A Mr. Saffron--as if the woman didn't know who he was.)

"Flossie, whatever Mr. Bond said, I'm sure he'd wish you to do what Iask. So will you please bring Mr. Saffron into the library.... Heseems to be lame, so you won't have to run to catch him up."

A moment later Paul was ushered in, leaning on his stick. He looked old,but his face was ruddy red, and he had a beaming smile for her as hecrossed the room. "Paul!" she exclaimed, waiting for Flossie to leave asif nothing else could be said till they were alone. But after the doorclosed she could not think of anything to say at all. Her chief emotionwas one that had been mounting ever since the incident in thehall--anger, resentment, and a kind of helpless opposition to theall-seeing and all-knowing surveillance that Austen had put around her.Doubtless his motives were of the best, but she knew that if she triedto defend him to herself she would find the whole situation sheerlyintolerable, the more so as it affected Flossie and Richards. It was apeculiar thing (and she had often reflected on it) that Austen could winthe utmost allegiance of servants and employees--or was it because ofhis frightening skill in choosing the kind from whom such allegiance wasobtainable? But even that did not fully explain why it was not offeredto her. Maybe because she valued it less, and freedom more. All this wasin her mind as she took Paul's hand.

"Well, Carey, my dear...." He bowed over her finger tips, a littleshakily, then stood with his back to the fire. "Excuse me for toastingmy behind--if I don't get warm before I sit down, you'll never get me upagain.... Arthritis."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"You know what happened? They put me in an internment camp. No properheating--we shivered every winter for months on end. But I'm gettingtreatment now.... I'm glad I took another chance on catching you in."

"You've been here before?"

"Twice. What's the matter with that old family retainer of yours?"

"She makes mistakes."

"I'd cast her for Grace Poole in Jane Eyre--well, no, she's too muchthe type. And your butler who told me you were out the last time--apinchbeck Malvolio. Remember the drunken one we had at Mapledurham?There's something quite fascinating about English butlers. One of theend products of our civilization. Sometime I'd like to make a picture inwhich God is a butler."

"Hardly box-office, Paul."

"Ah, how necessary that is. That's why I came to see you. I'm getting abit desperate."

"Desperate?"

He nodded, then moved from the fire and sat carefully in an armchair.She studied him with an effort of concentration, ticking off in her mindthe many changes which were not, in the aggregate, so very much--hairwilder and completely gray, the bones of the face more highlighted, theeyes brighter than ever, the chin jutting below the lower lip, the handsred-veined and nervous. He could have been, as the journalist had said,at least in his sixties; one might also have guessed that he had lostmuch weight and was beginning to put a little of it back, but into aseemingly shrunken frame. Yet all in all he looked rather well, withsomething of an old man's polished-apple health.

"I'm broke, Carey, and I want a job."

She smiled. "I don't know about the job, but I can give you some money."

"No, I want a lot of money--enough to work with. I have an idea for apicture--box-office, and also great.... You know those sons ofbitches in France won't have me back to finish the last one? Won't evenlet me into the country! The lies they spread--that I was pro-German,that I offered to make Nazi films for Goebbels--not a word of truth inany of it--not a word!"

"I'm very glad to hear that."

"But they won't believe me. They choose not to believe me." Helaunched into a long account of his martyrdom, from which he emerged ashis own hero and the victim of malicious conspiracy and calculatedpersecution. He had always had a tendency to consider himself eitherill-fated or ill-treated--accepting good fortune as no less than hisdeserts, and misfortune as some species of deliberate evil plannedagainst him. Carey was surprised to find herself regarding himdispassionately, noting the progress of his obsession; yet at the sametime she felt a very simple sympathy. She tried to imagine what it couldhave been like for him to spend over three years behind barbed wire--themerely physical hardships--confinement, cold, bad food, poor medicalcare. Oddly, perhaps, it was not of these that he made mostcomplaint--on the contrary, he referred to them almost derisively, andhis recurrent phrase "that damned camp" was in the mood he might haveinveighed against "that damned waiter" in a restaurant, or a neighbor's"damned radio." He even joked about his loss of forty pounds in weight(at one time), and the outdoor work in rain and cold that had given himarthritis. From what she could gather the conditions at the camp hadbeen rough, but not vicious; there had been misery rather than cruelty,and the camp commandant seemed to have been merely a stupid martinet.Paul was contemptuous of him--"a man who broke his word to me on everypossible occasion." (This, in view of their relative positions, seemedto Carey revealing enough.) But his bitterest grudges were againstfellow inmates who, he said, had spread poison about him after thegeneral release, so that he was now persona non grata with the French;and on a special pinnacle of detestation there was a certain Frenchman,formerly his own assistant director, who was now in charge of thecompany that had been making the Job film. "You can guess why hedoesn't want me back. A second-rater. If he finishes the film, it'llturn into a glorified floor show--that's his type of mind--drilling afew dancing girls and he calls it direction...."

He went on till at length Carey interrupted: "There doesn't seem muchyou can do about it, Paul, now you're here. And you ought to be gladyou're here--I'll bet there are thousands in Europe today who'd changeplaces with you."

"Okay then, so I'm here. What do I care where I am, after all? I canwork any place. But it costs more here. I want a million dollars."

She smiled again. "That's a nice round figure."

"I'm serious."

"But you don't seriously think I can write you a check for it?"

"I haven't asked you for money at all. I've merely said I'm broke and Iwant a job."

"Then let's be practical. I'd like to help you, but what's really inyour mind? That I should ask my husband?"

"Not if you're going to talk to him about helping me. Why should hehelp me? I'm offering something--something that ought to appeal to himas a businessman."

"I doubt if it would."

"You mean he isn't tempted by 80 or a 100 per cent on an investment?Several of my pictures have made it--he can have the figures if hewants----"

"Paul... quite apart from all that, doesn't it occur to you he mightnot want to do business with you at all?"

"I never met a rich man who wasn't ambitious to make himself richer.Maybe he's the exception."

"Maybe he is. He certainly doesn't put money before every otherconsideration. You don't know him."

"I don't want to. There's nothing personal in any of this. I ask nothingfor myself except employment for my brain, the pride and pleasure ofartistic creation, and a pittance to live on."

She laughed, partly because she knew what Paul's idea of a pittance was,but chiefly because she was already transferring some of her indignationfrom Austen to Paul, and the load being thus more equally distributedmade it feel less of a load altogether. She said: "Look, Paul, youraffairs are no longer anything to do with me, so this is a free gift ofadvice. Get off that high horse and don't be so arrogant. Because, ifyou can bear the truth, you're not quite great enough to get away withit--you aren't a Bernard Shaw or a Toscanini----"

"In my own field I am."

He said that with the kind of simplicity that baffled argument even ifit did not carry conviction.

"Well, anyhow, till the world admits you are----"

"Till then I must be on my best behavior--or perhaps on my knees...is that it? And if I don't--or won't--what's the alternative?Starvation? Even in that damned camp I didn't have to beg for a crustof bread."

"Oh, stop talking nonsense--why must you dramatize everything? You'renot going to starve. But you're probably not going to get a milliondollars either.... In the meantime, have some tea."

"Thank you."

She rang the bell. "And put your health first. It's more important thanany other plans you have. Is the treatment you're taking for arthritisdoing you good?"

"Yes, thank heaven."

"I wish you'd let me pay for it.... Please, Paul, let me do that."

"I would, but it doesn't cost anything."

"What?"

"It's free--at the hospital. If I had some wretched little job bringingin a few dollars a week they'd put me in chains to make me pay, but as Ihaven't a cent I get it for nothing. Isn't that wonderful? Only the richand the broke have a chance these days--the in-betweens are just out ofluck."

"But how do you live? Where do you live? Are you in New York?"

He gave her an address.

"How do you manage without money?"

He grinned. "You've forgotten, haven't you? I borrow where I can and runup bills. Didn't you and I do that once? Don't you remember?"

"But eventually, Paul..."

"Yes, I know. It's a problem. After all, I'm a citizen, they can'tintern me here. I'm perfectly free to rob a bank, or hitchhike toFlorida, or panhandle on Forty-second Street."

She went to a desk and quickly wrote out a check for a thousand dollarswhile he went on talking. He talked wildly, extravagantly, and she onlyhalf-listened. Then she came back and placed the folded check in theside pocket of his coat.

"Thank you very much," he said casually, without looking at it, but notungraciously.

"I'm afraid it's only a small fraction of what you asked."

And he began to chuckle. "Who gets all he wants in this world, Carey?Perhaps you do.... You've had most things. Fame, fortune,health.... How's that boy you once talked about--Norris, wasn't thatthe name? Of course, you can guess what reminded me of him. I wascounting the things you'd had, and I suddenly thought of the one thingyou haven't had... children of your own. D'you find Norris a goodsubstitute?"

"I don't find him a substitute at all. He's in Germany now. It's overa year since I saw him, but he came through it all, that's the mainthing.... Here's tea."

She had seen the door opening, but it wasn't Flossie carrying the tray.It was Austen. She felt a sudden constriction of the heart that made herquite breathless for a moment. Paul in the chair was invisible to Austenas he crossed the room, and by the time the two men confronted eachother she was standing between them, vaguely smiling and gasping out anintroduction. Austen seemed so little surprised that she guessed he hadbeen told that Paul was there, and Paul, trying to rise with the aid ofhis stick, eased the situation by his infirmity. Austen gestured him notto get up, shook hands with him, and made some comment to Carey aboutthe weather. She responded, and from then on, so far as she wasconcerned, it was all acting. Amidst the first exchanges of civilitiesFlossie entered with the tea things, and this provided a whole ritual ofmovement while the two men conversed. Austen was reserved, but formallypolite. Paul, to her relief, and presently to her slight amusement,turned on the charm. Never, she felt sure, had he been more genial. Thethings he did not mention at all were perfectly chosen--films, money,and his own personal affairs; while the topics that did inevitably cropup--postwar Europe and the general state of the world--were touched uponby him in a mood of urbane wistfulness that (Carey could see) made itsown peculiar appeal to Austen. She thought: But for me these two mencould be friends--for about five minutes, or until Paul decided it wastoo much of an effort. But as a spectacle it was fascinating--to see himfeeling his way into Austen's personality as if it were a part in a playthat had to be interpreted. The climax came when Paul, having beengently pessimistic about the future of western civilization, quoted froma speech made by Serge Diaghileff in 1905: "'We are witnesses of thegreatest moment of summing-up in history, in the name of a new andunknown culture, which will be created by us, and which will also sweepus away. That is why, without fear or misgiving, I raise my glass to theruined walls of the enchanted palaces, as well as to the newcommandments of a new aesthetic. The only wish that I, an incorrigiblesensualist, can express, is that the forthcoming struggle should notdamage the amenities of life, and that the death should be as beautifuland as illuminating as the resurrection.'"

"All that from Diaghileff?" Austen said, when Paul made a pause.

"Yes. At a dinner in St. Petersburg."

"Farseeing."

"Diaghileff was a farseeing man."

"You knew him?"

"Not then of course. But during the early twenties, when I was stillyoung and impressionable and taking my first trip abroad, I had thenerve to write to him and he was gracious enough to meet me at aMontmartre café. How naïve he must have thought my ideas! Yet helistened, and discussed them, and gave me just the few words ofencouragement I then needed."

It made a winsome picture--the modest youth from Iowa at the feet of theworld-weary Gamaliel in Paris, and the only thing amiss with it, Careysuspected, was that it had probably happened very differently, if atall.

There followed more anecdotes, delightfully told, yet as they continuedCarey began to feel some strain in her enjoyment of the performance, asif she were watching the try-out of a new kind of trapeze act. Aftermore cups of tea and another half hour of chatter she was really quiteglad when Paul rose to go. He shook hands with her, and Austen took himout to the hall. A moment later Austen returned. He went to thesideboard and mixed himself a whisky and soda. By that time Flossie wasclearing away the tea things and drawing the curtains.

"Good talker," Austen commented when they were alone. "Do you think hemade all that up about Diaghileff?"

She knew then that the assessments had not been all on one side. "Thespeech? He might have, though he seemed to know it by heart."

"I must see if I can check on it. Really quite worth remembering."

"Paul or the quotation?"

He smiled. "I must admit I hadn't imagined him quite so affable."

She said: "Yes, nobody can be more charming than Paul when he chooses."

"So he chose to be just now?"

"Evidently.... He's broke, he says, and wants work. In films."

"He won't find it easy to get."

"No? Because he's made enemies?"

"Partly. I don't think Hollywood will bid very high for his services."

"Oh, Hollywood...."

"Well, where else can he try? There's no other place over here."

"What he'd really like is to make a film of his own--maybe inHollywood, but independently. He did that in Europe, and apparently hehad some big successes. Commercial successes."

"I know he did, but the system's different over there--or was, beforethe war. Anyhow, his European reputation doesn't count at the Americanbox-office, and for four years he's been out of touch with everything."

"You seem to know a good deal about the film business."

"Only financially. My little venture with Everyman taught me a fewthings."

"I can understand it taught you not to trust Paul."

"Well, no, not exactly. The circumstances were unusual.... I wouldn'tgeneralize from that one experience. He's a slippery customer, but not,I'd say, from any financial dishonesty--it's his temperament."

"That's very reasonable of you, Austen. If only he were asreasonable... but he isn't. If he had been he wouldn't have had tolose those four years."

"Yes, that was a pity. Four years is long enough for most people toforget and be forgotten."

"So you think if he wanted to make a picture now he wouldn't find anyoneto back him?"

"You mean a personal corporation with a bank putting up the money?"

"I--I don't know. Is that the way it would be done?"

"If it could be done. But I don't think there's a chance. Of course,he might interest one of the big studios in whatever picture idea hehas. But he'd have to sell it for what they'd offer, and if theyemployed him on the job he couldn't expect a big salary."

"I think he wants authority--control--more than money."

"Unfortunately what he wants isn't likely to matter much."

"That seems hard, when he has such abilities. Do you have influence withany of the studios?"

"Not to a point where I could help a man who asks for the moon. Thereare only a handful of people in Hollywood who have real authority andcontrol--it's a rare thing there."

"But you could find him a job--a subordinate job... if he weresatisfied with that?"

"It's possible. One of the smaller studios has connections with somebanking people I know. That might work if I cared to try it."

"If you cared to, naturally. And I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.There's no reason why you should raise a finger for him."

"It isn't that, Carey. I'd help him if he were helpable. But if hissights are too high--ridiculously high; what can anyone do? Andincidentally, I'd rather you weren't mixed up in this at all. He and Ihave now met, and I'm not sorry that happened, because he can contact meagain, directly, if ever he wants."

"And you would help him then?"

"If he were in a mood to take what he could get I'd certainly put in aword."

"That's reasonable, Austen," she said again. "Very reasonable."

But the word "reasonable" was so dubious to her that she could hardlyspeak it without catching an ironic sound in her own voice. Suddenly shenoticed that his face was pale and that he was taking, unusually for himat that time of day, an extra drink.

They did not discuss Paul again at dinner, nor during the days thatfollowed, and the longer he was not mentioned the harder it became forher to broach the subject, though she often wanted to. For there weremany things she was anxious to know--whether, for instance, Paul hadfollowed up his meeting with Austen by making any direct request forhelp. And there was the disquieting possibility that he might havewritten to her, or telephoned, or even called at the house again, andthat on Austen's instructions some message had been intercepted. Morethan once she decided to take up with Austen this matter of the ordershe had given to the servants, but each time when the chance came shesaid nothing, unwilling to start an argument that might make them bothunhappy.

She was conscious, since the meeting with Paul, that some strain was onher life with Austen--probably nothing serious or lasting, just a faintshadow on the happiness she had so long enjoyed.

Then they had news of Norris that took all other things out of theirminds.

* * *

Norris, having driven an ambulance for four years and in two continentswithout serious mishap, drove a jeep into the Rhine on a dark night sixmonths after the war in Europe was over. He was nearly drowned and hadinjuries besides. At first these were thought to be severe, but justwhen Austen was arranging to fly to a hospital at Coblenz, wires he hadalready pulled began to operate and Norris was flown across theAtlantic. He arrived at LaGuardia on a December morning, Carey and hisfather meeting him. To their relief he could walk, the damage beingmainly to one arm, and within a week (again thanks to Austen'sintervention, which he never discovered) he was mustered out andconvalescing at the farm.

But he failed to recover quickly to normal, whatever normal was, and itwas also clear that either the accident or the cumulative experience ofwar had (to use another of the clichés) "done something" to him. Whatwas the problem. There was certainly a development from the boy to theman, yet also from the boy who had been precocious for his age to a manwho, in a way that was rarely but acutely discernible, seemed to haveheld on to some delicate boyishness as healing aid to a troubled spirit.The doctors talked of long-deferred fatigue which the car smash and thehalf-drowning had unloosed; as a short-range diagnosis it doubtlessfitted the symptoms, which were an excitability alternating with longperiods of lethargy during which he did not seem interested in eitherevents or people. But perhaps he was, in some way of his own. He read agood deal, and Carey was surprised to notice that many of the books weresolid stuff--history, anthropology, religion, mysticism. Fortunately hehad the desire for rest, which was what he most needed, and his oldhostility to his father was less evident, as if it were part of anenergy he no longer possessed. To Austen this dubious change broughtgreat joy. He spent hours with Norris, talking, reading, listening tothe radio, often merely sitting silently in an opposite armchair whileNorris dozed; and when business took him to New York he urged Carey notto leave the boy alone too much, though she herself did not think Norrisminded being alone. It was certainly quiet at the farm while Austen wasaway, sometimes for several days during midweek. Mrs. Grainger, whomCarey liked, did the cooking, and there was no fuss or commotion--noneof the well-oiled superfluousness of the routine when Austen brought theother servants along. Carey helped Mrs. Grainger with the housework, andNorris, using his uninjured arm, seemed to like doing small chores onhis own. If he did not speak for hours on end, Carey did not bother him,but if he felt inclined for chatter, or nonsense, or even seriousconversation, she was always ready. Once she found him reading Thoreau,about whom he commented: "I don't think I'd have liked this fellowpersonally, but I admire his pose. Nobody ever did it better."

"You mean the simple life--Walden Pond? Don't you think he was sincere?"

"Up to a point. But to enjoy the simple life you really ought to besimple, whereas to write so well about it you have to be complicated.I've a feeling Thoreau enjoyed it chiefly because he liked to writeabout it."

"Why don't you work up that idea into a critical article?"

"Trying to find me some occupational therapy? That's what they call itin the hospitals."

"Of course not. I just thought it sounded an interesting idea. For theAtlantic or Harper's, if it turned out well enough."

"I doubt if it would.... If I had any talent, I think I'd ratherpaint than write."

"How do you know you haven't any?"

"That's the come-on for all the racket schools."

"I know, but if you could get any fun out of it, why not try?"

She bought him paints, easel, canvases, and a book of technicalinstructions, and to her pleasure he found an interest that at timesalmost amounted to enthusiasm. If there were sun she would carry hisequipment to some sheltered spot outdoors, and on bad-weather days hedid still-lifes in one room or another. He had talent, but not much, ashe soon became ruefully aware. Sometimes, and also for nothing but fun,Carey painted with him, the same scene or model, and her effort wasusually better than his, but still not in any way remarkable.

"A couple of amateurs," he commented. "How you'd despise anyone on ourlevel in the theater."

"Probably. One's always intolerant of the nonprofessional in ones ownprofession."

"You still feel acting is that--to you?"

"I expect I always shall."

"Any new play in prospect?"

"Not at present."

"Looking for one?"

"Not particularly. I think I need a rest almost as much as you do."

"Father never really liked you being in plays, did he?"

"I wouldn't say he was keen on it, but during the war he didn't seem tomind."

"Maybe he counted it a sort of war work."

"Maybe. Or perhaps he thought the war was an excuse for anything."

"Well, it just about was."

They went on putting finishing touches to their canvases. They hadchosen a grouping of fruit and bottles on a tray beside a window, butthe lighting and reflections were beyond their skill and the result wasonly middling. They knew that, yet they kept on, as if impelled by adesire more tolerable because the whole thing so clearly did not matter.

"We're pretty hopeless," she said seriously, studying her own attemptand assuming his was as bad.

"But it's quite as sensible," he answered, between brush-strokes, "asplaying bridge."

"I hope so, because I do that badly too, and your father's so good. Ialways envy him at parties."

"But he doesn't dance and you dance beautifully."

"So do you."

"I'll dance with you when my arm's better."

"Good."

And after a pause: "By the way... did they ever give any detailsabout the accident?"

"Your accident? They?"

"Anybody."

"No--at least I never heard."

"Well, it's not much of a story. I was driving a girl home after adance. She was killed."

"Oh, Norris.... I didn't have any idea of that." She put down herbrushes and he did also, neither of them giving another look to model orcanvas. She began to tidy up then. "That's dreadful.... Were you...were you very fond of her?"

"Not a bit. I'd never met her till that evening. I was taking her homebecause my friend, who'd been with her, had passed out. I hadn't had anydrinks myself and the whole evening was simply a bore. We were drivingslowly when a truck came at us round a corner. I had to swerve and weskidded. The road ran along the riverbank. That's all. But I thought I'dtell you in case you'd heard about the girl and might think there wassome romance in it." He paused, as if waiting for comment; when she madenone, he continued: "Yet it affected me a good deal--I think more so insome ways than if I'd known and liked her. And the thing itself wasworse than war, if you can imagine what I mean, because killing is whatwars are for and you half-expect it all the time. Just as you somehowexpect girls to be pretty.... She wasn't, poor thing. But her familyowned vineyards and if you dated her they'd give you bottles of wine.Their whole dream, and the girl's too, was that some G.I. would marryher and take her to America. My pal was after the wine. But for thatshe'd have been alive today and I'd have been--I suppose--still overthere."

She saw his face twitching with some kind of agitation and thought hehad probably done well to tell her, as the first step towardsforgetfulness. She said, as she began cleaning the brushes: "I'm gladyou told me, Norris.... I hope it's fine tomorrow--we might try thebarn, or if it's too cold to paint, we could do a quick sketch."

But it rained the next day and the skies were so dark that it was hardlyworth while to sketch or paint anywhere; and the day after that theyreturned to New York for the Christmas season. Austen was waiting forthem, happy over the boy's progress to health and ready to give Careyfull credit for the painting experiment. Norris seemed fairly happyalso, or at least indifferent to where he was taken. Of the three, theonly sufferer was Carey, for whom the return was to the secretsurveillance which she had not yet complained of to Austen, and couldnot discuss with anyone else. She was certain now that Richards hadAusten's private instructions, yet nothing was provable, since it wasfully a butler's job to sort mail, take telephone calls, and so on. Andeven if, when she dialed a number from her room, she heard the click ofan extension elsewhere, she knew there could be a hundred innocentreasons for it. She was always on guard against an obsession, havingobserved so many in other people; but to measure every suspicion againstthe possibility was almost an obsession in itself. Only while she waswith Norris could she feel utter freedom, for Austen approved so muchthe time she spent with him, noting each day the boy's rising spirits.So that in a room where she and Norris were together she did not startat a sudden tap on the door; it was sanctuary of a special kind, theglass house where nobody would throw stones.

Because of his injured arm they tried to avoid crowds, though they saw afew plays and movies, but more often they walked the two quiet blocks tothe Park and then roamed for an hour or two till dusk approached and itwas time to return to the house. Sometimes Norris went out on his ownand came back hours later; she never asked him where he had been, thoughhe would tell her as a rule; he liked wandering about the city, takingthe subway to some distant suburb and finding pleasure in therandomness. To her this was perfectly natural, or at least notastonishing, but to Austen it would have seemed queer, so they kept suchexpeditions a secret. They had a few other secrets, such as the books heread (she knew because she saw him reading them, but she never discussedthem unless he started it), a few records they both liked and thatAusten would have played far too often if he had known what they were,and of course the biggest secret of all--that there were no importantsecrets. In the house they spent most time in a little sitting room onthe third floor--Norris's since boyhood, but not boyish in character,for he had always had an aesthetic dislike of pennants and groupphotographs, and his entire lack of games prowess had left him withouttrophies. His mind, Carey thought, was abstractly intellectual ratherthan artistic, and he had not yet found an outlet for its properuse--maybe writing, eventually, if he developed ideas that could survivehis own criticism of them. He would be formidable and fascinating indebate, and in this field it was the power of their sheathed weaponsthat kept father and son apart. If they ever argued, they soon reachedthe foothills of disagreement beyond which the mountain loomedunarguably. And the mountain was that Norris, despite facile cynicismand years at war, had certain hopes of the world ahead; whereas Austen,though he would have thought it naïve to discuss the matter, had almostnone. Immortal longings against urbane misgivings made a conflict inwhich Carey was more on Norris's side than she knew; in fact she did notknow at all till one day, in the sanctuary of the sitting room, Norrisremarked that he didn't think he would stay home long after he was fullyrecovered.

"Why not?"

"It's hard to say, Carey, in a way that doesn't make me seem eitherpriggish or ungrateful. I like Father much more than I did, and I cansee now what a brat I used to be with him--he's so patient andaffectionate. I've treated him pretty badly. And yet my first instinctswere probably right, if I'd only kept them under civil discipline--Imean, we don't really have the same ideas about things. I change mineall the time, of course, but I never seem to change them to any of his,and I can't help feeling that's a remarkable coincidence. So it wouldn'tbe much fun for either of us if I handed my future over to him and said'Make what you want of it.'"

"But do you think that's what he'd like you to do?"

"He'd like me to go in a bank. He's often said so."

"That doesn't sound too exciting."

"Oh, it wouldn't be an ordinary job--or even an ordinary bank, for thatmatter. It might mean going abroad--to Switzerland, and I wouldn't mindthat a bit, except that... well..."

He hesitated and she said: "You feel that if you did you'd be giving upsomething else even if you're not sure what the something else is?"

"Exactly. And of course that's where he has a case. He says 'Try thebank and see if you like it.' If I answer 'I don't think I'd like it,'then he says 'Well, what would you like?'--and I don't know."

"Have you had this argument with him?"

"Oh, not an argument. Just friendly talk from time to time. All verydetached and reasonable. I like the idea of going abroad, though. Toobad I'm not religious, I could be a missionary. Matter of fact, I wish Iwere a doctor, then I could be a missionary without being religious."

"Why do you want to be a missionary at all?"

"I'm damned if I know. Does that sound a silly answer?"

"It's better than trying to invent a reason."

He laughed. "I think I'll travel, when I've got myself a bit stronger.Father's offered to take me on one of his business trips abroad, but I'mnot really sure that's what I want. Unless, of course, you wenttoo--then it might be fun. But he never does take you on business trips,does he?"

"It's my own fault, Norris. He flies everywhere and I hate flying."

"So do I. Loathe it. The Wright Brothers were the Wrong Brothers so faras I'm concerned."

"Perhaps so far as the world's concerned too. There's not much time, isthere, to save anything?"

"That's an odd remark. Fifty years ago the only answer would have been'Yes, if you begin early, putting by a few pennies each day.' But nowthe question means something else, doesn't it? And that, I suppose, isthe real grudge I have against any kind of job Father would find for me.I'd feel like an old clock slowly running down if I really devotedmyself to it. And Father does devote himself. Not that I mean he's anold clock slowly running down...." He laughed with someembarrassment. "A very elegant clock, at least. I hope I'll look ashandsome when I'm his age."

"I hope I'll look as young when I'm his age."

"Young? You?" He said shyly, and with a different kind ofembarrassment: "I can't imagine you anything but young at any age."

He looked at her across the low table on which all the equipment ofafternoon tea was laid out--silver and china sparkling in the firelight;outside, beyond the curtains not yet drawn, snow was beginning to fallin dark slanting flakes against the window. The book he had been readinglay open on another table near his chair, and an interrupted page was inhis typewriter. The deep green walls, with their few pictures, framedthe red carpet in a way that was striking yet warm; bookshelves madetheir own pattern of colors carelessly mixed. She had a curious impulseshe had had before when wakened in the night by something that might bea distant explosion or a minor earthquake shock--an impulse to note thehour and the minute, so that the next day, if she saw it in the papers,she could tell herself: That was it.... She looked at the clocknow: seventeen minutes past four. It was the word "young" that hadexploded--but not shatteringly at all, just enough to waken her into anew awareness.

She said with a half-smile: "I'm forty, Norris, and how have I devotedmyself? I wonder if acting's any better than banking, from your pointof view?"

"Oh, but of course it is. And I haven't got a point of view--I wish Ihad. I'm just fumbling around trying to find one."

* * *

When she saw him across the dinner table that evening it seemed somehowlike the day after and that she was reading in the papers about thatspecial moment of the earthquake. He and Austen conversed politely, andafter the meal they both listened to music on the radio.

She did not sleep well, and in the morning, not knowing quite why, shetold Norris she had some shopping to do. "Last-minute things forChristmas--perhaps you'd better not come with me--there'll be crowds."

She drove the car herself, as she often did, but not to the shops. Itwas a hard bright icy day, and before she realized it she was on theramp leading up to the Washington Bridge. There was nothing for it thenbut to cross, and afterwards she turned north along the familiar road toNewburgh. She came to a small town some thirty miles out and had asandwich at a lunch counter. Then she drove back, without much awarenessof time. She was in New York again by midafternoon, and along RiversideDrive she passed the street that Paul had given as his address. Impulsewas too late for her to make the turn, but by a couple of streetsfurther it had become a definite whim to see where he lived. She turnedand drove there, already unhopeful about it. Yet in New York you couldnever be sure, that was one reason why the city was so endlesslyfascinating--each street, if you knew it well enough, so subtlydifferent from its neighbors that even a number itself acquiredunmathematical attributes. Presently she identified a red bricksham-Gothic apartment building, several decades newer than the decayingbrownstone houses that enclosed it, and possibly at one time a spearheadof social change now merged and undistinguishable amidst the generalslatternliness of the district. Children swarmed along the sidewalks andgutters, and when she pulled up they stopped their games, not becausethe car was anything special (an old Buick in days when every bookie hada new Cadillac), but from some instinctive curiosity that met her own asshe stepped out. Even then she had no plan to visit Paul--merely to askfor his new address, for she could not imagine he would have stayed longin such a place. But she found there was no one to ask--neither doormannor desk nor elevator; merely a cluster of mailboxes, some of thembroken and open. She studied the name cards, hardly expecting to findPaul's; yet it was there--Paul Saffron 4K--and immediately the thoughtof him, crippled with arthritis and living on a fourth floor without anelevator, became a challenge to pity and then to action. Surely, if hewere in, she could at least pay him a Christmas call, and with such anexcuse the idea of seeing him grew warmly, easing her mind from thestrain that had held it clenched all day after the almost sleeplessnight.

Paul opened the door to her rings, and his first exclamation was not somuch surprised to see her as at her looks. "Carey! What have you done toyourself? Climbing stairs must suit you.... Come in. I was wonderingif you'd ever accept my invitation."

"Your invitation?"

"To see some foreign films. They run them at a theater round the cornerfrom here. Nothing worth seeing this week, though."

"You invited me?"

"Sure, I've written several times, but no answer. Too bad I didn't knowyou were coming today, I'd have bought some tea. Will you drink coffee?"

"Why yes, but don't go to any trouble. This is just a Christmas visit."

"Good. What would we poor people do, I wonder, without you rich peopleto give us a helping hand?"

Then she noticed the room, inventory making as she always did: thescuffed Edwardian furniture, ugly types of an ugly period; an oblong ofthreadbare carpet in the center of the floor, wallpaper peeling off atthe corners, an ancient gas chandelier wired for electricity, theimitation marble mantelpiece surmounting a radiator, a contraption onone of the walls that was presumably a pull-down bed. A further door ledto a dark bathroom, and the view from the window was of ancient balks oflumber buttressing a half-demolished property.

Meanwhile she was asking Paul about his arthritis, which he said wasmuch better, and his prospects of a job, which he said were nonexistent.

"I just thought you might have had some luck. I--I don't know how you'dfeel about--about talking to Austen. Directly, I mean--now that you'vemet him. He knows people, and if he could help you to get something----"

"It would give him a kick, would it, to turn me into a Hollywood officeboy?... No, Carey--thanks to your own generosity I've so far managednot only to keep the wolf from the door but also the termites out of mybrain."

"But I know how it used to get on your nerves to be idle."

"Who says I've been idle?" He pointed to a pile of manuscript on a tableunder the window. "See that? I've been hard at work.... My lifestory. I tell the whole truth, that's what makes it unique. Probably abest seller. Full of big names when I get to the successful years.Already I'm as far as our Othello at Hampstead--remember that? Here,take it with you when you go--I'd like your honest opinion."

"But if this is your only copy----"

"I have an earlier one in rough, and my typing's not so bad. I wantyou to read it. After all, it's your bounty that's enabling me to writeit."

"I wish you wouldn't keep on talking like that, Paul."

But she knew that in his own way he was enjoying the situation. From hisearlier word "generosity," to this last one, "bounty," she could readthe progress of a drama in which he was already richly casting himself.

"But you will read it if I ask you?"

"Certainly, though I'm no judge of writing, as I tell Norris."

"Norris? Ah, the boy who liked my pictures. I remember. How is he?"

"He's grown up now--back home from the Army. He was injured in Germanyafter the war ended--a car smash. Not badly."

"And Austen?"

"The same as when you saw him two months ago."

"How could he ever be different?"

"You were being so charming to him that afternoon I guessed you didn'treally like him."

"Why should I like him any more than he likes me?"

"All right, let's leave it at that."

"Personally I think he's a cold fish."

"He isn't."

"Well, you should know."

She could ignore the innuendo all the more easily because hisdescription of Austen as a cold fish hadn't reminded her of her ownrelationship at all, but of the two weeks that had followed Dunne's lastoperation, when Austen had visited the old butler daily in the hospital,and of Austen's tight-lipped grief when all was over. The remembrance ofthis armored her against the resentment she might have felt had Paulsaid anything less unfair. She even began to feel a sudden ease in beingwith someone whose outrageousness, whatever he said or did, couldneither surprise her nor change her opinion of him. Let him say what heliked about Austen, Norris, herself, anyone he chose. She didn't care,and it was good not to care. Even the room began to look lessdepressing. It was warm at least, the ceiling was high, and the derelicthouse that obstructed the view had a Gothic picturesqueness. Doubtlessthere were many far worse places where people had to live and findhappiness.

She did not stay long after that, for she would already be later homethan usual. Before leaving she wrote Paul a further check and said shewould return the manuscript as soon as she had had time to read it. "Ofcourse I may be too busy during the holidays..." What was in her mindwas that she would rather not be seen reading it in front of Austen, sothat her chances to do so would require contrivance.

"I don't mind how long you take, Carey, but bring it back yourself."

"I won't promise, Paul--it depends how busy I am."

"But I'll want to discuss it with you."

"I will if I can. How shall I know when you're in? Give me your number."

"I have no telephone, but I'm always in after three. When I see apicture I go when the theater opens for the cheap prices."

"Yes, yes, I know," she said tolerantly, as of a play she did not thinkvery good, but could learn without difficulty. With the money she hadgiven him she knew he could not be really hard up at all. She wished hima happy Christmas with a comfortable feeling that, even alone, he mightactually have a happier one than hers. He had such reserves ofself-comfort, far more than she had herself.

* * *

When she got to the house Austen was already home, scanning the eveningpapers by the fire. Norris was not with him. "He's resting," he said."He said he'd stay in his room till dinner." She was fairly certain thatAusten had not been wondering where she was, and that part of hisindifference was due to anxiety about Norris.

Norris came down to dinner, looking no longer tired, but rather excited;the evening passed without special incident and they all went to bedearlier than usual. She did not see him alone till the next morning whenhe sought her out in her room while she was writing gift labels. He saidhello, and took one of her cigarettes; then he apologized for havingbehaved oddly the previous evening.

"Oddly? There was nothing odd. Norris.... You just looked a bittense, that's all."

"I was, too. It's stupid, but I'd been waiting for you all day."

"Waiting for me?"

"You weren't back for lunch and you didn't telephone Richards oranyone."

"Norris, darling, I don't always telephone. They know if I don't turn upthat's all there is to it."

"Of course, and that's why it was stupid of me--I had all day to wonderwhere you were--and to worry--I thought perhaps you'd had a caraccident--I have car accidents on my mind, I suppose.... So I justwaited and waited... couldn't write anything--couldn't even read bythe time you came home."

"Oh, Norris, I'm sorry." She gripped his uninjured arm and faced him;he was smiling now, so she smiled back. "And you know where I went? Ichanged my mind about the shopping, it was such a lovely day. I drove tothe country. Just like one of your own expeditions, only with a car. Iwished you were with me, only I knew you wouldn't enjoy being driven. Ihad my lunch at a place called Mack's Streamliner, just this side ofNewburgh. Made up with stainless steel to look like a stream-liner. Onthe left as you go north."

"Did you have a good time?"

"Wonderful. But I'm terribly sorry----"

"Oh no, it was my own fault. One thing, though... nearly to Newburghand back would be--oh, I suppose seventy or eighty miles. Did you buygas on the road?"

"No.... Why?"

"Maybe Foster won't notice it."

"Foster? I don't know what you mean...."

He said uncomfortably: "Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it, but...well, I mention everything to you sooner or later.... There's quite alot of checking up goes on here. Richards with the telephones, andFoster, I think, when you take the car out. I don't know, mindyou--maybe I'm too suspicious of people who act suspiciously."

"But, Norris, even if he did measure the gas, why shouldn't I driveseventy or eighty miles if I feel like it?"

"Sure, sure. Of course."

She heard the elevator whine as it reached her floor and then the slideof the opening door.

"These labels, Norris. Will you help me? Please read them over againstthis list of names."

They were so occupied when Richards brought in the morning mail.

* * *

On Christmas Day they had a small party of friends, a dozen or so, andit was a pleasant time. Norris could not dance, because of his arm, buthe talked with the guests and seemed at ease; she herself danced often,while Austen played bridge. Soon after midnight all the guests leftexcept three players who were as keen on the game as Austen and about asgood; it was an almost pathological keenness that Austen had, and sincehe had been losing up to then, there was an edge to his appetite formore.

They were playing in what was called the billiard room, where there wasa billiard table which Carey could not remember anyone ever using--alarge basement room, afflicted with supposedly masculinetrappings--mooseheads, Spy cartoons, and a fireplace far too large fora modern fire. There was an alcove modeled on what some architect hadimagined to be a typical corner in an old English pub; it had no virtueexcept seclusion. Carey and Norris sat there while the bridge went onforty feet away, beyond the billiard table. They talked in whispers, notthat they had anything to say that was specially private, but becausethe subdued ferocity of the game induced an atmosphere of tension.

"Go to bed if you like, Norris."

"No, I'd rather sit with you."

"I can't very well leave just yet... though if they go on muchlonger..."

"I rather hope they do. I like talking to you like this."

"But you still need plenty of sleep. I'm so glad you're getting betterso fast."

"You really think I am? Don't you wish we could take a vacationsomewhere--Colorado or New Mexico--with no one to check the gas againstthe mileage?"

"Oh yes, Norris--I'd love it.... But we can't."

"Then what are we going to do?" He flushed and added quickly: "I meanseparately... what are you going to do and what am I going to do?Will you be in a play again sometime?"

"I might. I haven't plans, but I shouldn't like to rule it out of mylife. On the other hand, I'm not consumed with ambition."

"Were you ever?"

"Oh yes. My first was to be a nun--but the nuns at the convent knew mebetter and laughed me out of it. Then I wanted to be an actress and playJuliet, but Paul laughed me out of that. He said I wasn't the type."

"To me you would have been."

"What a sweet thing to say.... But now tell me your plans, if you'vemade any."

"I know what I'd like to do. You'll probably think it crazy, but to meit doesn't look crazier than most other things these days. I'd like togo to medical school and later take up tropical medicine. My bestfriend--the one who took the girl who was killed to the dance--he was inthe Pacific during the first years of the war--he told me plenty aboutit. They need resident doctors on all those Pacific islands. The nativeshave everything from leprosy to measles. Now the war's over theGovernment's beginning to realize how much medical work will have to bedone in so-called peacetime, though I admit it's a bit illogical toimprove the health of a few ex-cannibals when we're all going to beatom-bombed. Perhaps that's why it appeals to me--because it'sillogical. When the radioactive manna begins to fall on the world I'drather be discovered in some relatively pointless occupation such astreating a Polynesian scalp for ringworm... instead of sitting in abank office doing fabulous things with a comptometer." He laughednervously. "Well, what do you think of the idea? You're very silent."

She said: "I'm just wondering why you haven't already started."

"Started what?"

"The medical thing, if it's what you want."

"Carey, you're rather wonderful. I have started. I've written toColumbia asking about entrance requirements."

She saw and heard the bridge game ending across the room and the suddenburst of talk as the score was totted up. She had time to say: "I'mglad, Norris, I'm very glad," and then to add quietly: "I think yourfather's won--he looks so pleased with himself."

Austen came towards them smiling. "Eleven dollars and thirty cents," heremarked, with a satisfaction which, from him, could only be consideredcharming.

* * *

That night, because again she found sleep difficult, she began Paul'smanuscript. She had had it in her possession for over a week, duringwhich there had been several chances for private reading, but she hadfelt no urgency; Paul's life story was like Paul himself in herlife--close or distant beyond computation in miles or days. But she hadpromised to give her opinion and once she began it was certainly noeffort to form one.

The opening chapters were interesting, without a doubt. She could also(though she was no real judge of this) imagine that some publisher mighttake a chance on the whole book, if only for its general liveliness andgossip value. But what struck her amusingly at first, and thenappallingly as she went on, was the picture it presented of Paulhimself--an absurd picture on the surface, yet beneath the absurdity soruefully revealing. For he was his own complete hero from the firstsentence. Nothing had ever happened but added a mosaic to the finishedpattern of the man who was always right (and whose enemies and friendsalike were always wrong), a man infinitely wise and desperatelyvictimized, a man who had never done a foolish or a selfish or anunjustifiable thing, but whom the world had treated with constantunawareness of the paragon living in its midst. The picture was flawless(Carey realized) because it was constructed with the awful sincerity ofself-hypnosis. Errors, even of simple fact, were numerous andmonumental. Poor old Foy, for instance, appeared as a Philistine who hadcut short the run of Othello when it was still making money but notenough to satisfy his avarice, and various other theatrical figures whomPaul had quarreled with in London and New York were hardly recognizablein their completely satanic guise. For the passage of the years was toPaul no softener into grays, but rather a lens through which the blackswere blacker, and his own white whiter than snow. It was demonology, notautobiography. And all this in depicting the comparatively minor rancorsof those early years. (There was, of course, no reference at all to thatobliterated year in Hollywood.) What would happen, Carey wondered, whenhe came to his film-making experiences in Germany (the Everymanaffair), and the wartime ordeal of the internment camp?

She read with greater misgivings as she proceeded, and with the greatestof all when she turned back to reread passages here and there. She wassure, by then, that for Paul to publish it (even supposing it were freefrom technical libel) would be disastrous. Not that it was badly written(it had some of the glibness that had made him, in his youth, apromising journalist of sorts), but there was no quality in it to offsetits own angle of distortion, and its sole perfection was for this reasonnonliterary, clinical, and ludicrous. If he had wished to give the worldthe documented confession of an egomaniac, this was it, and of value,doubtless, in a psychiatrist's library; but among the informed publicthose who did not sue would probably laugh their heads off. The wholething was too true by being not true at all.

And then she suddenly realized, as never before, that Paul's infallibleworld, the world in which his greatness was real, the world of ErsteFreundschaft, had nothing to do with either his actual behavior in lifeor with his own ridiculous self-portrait. It was as if, indeed, wordswere a medium that, despite his skill with them, set him far off thetracks of truth. He posed in every sentence, and she remembered that hisfirst success in journalism had been the exploitation of a pose that hehimself had scorned. Perhaps that early experience had probed andexplored a weakness, so that words were never afterwards to be hisauthentic weapon. And perhaps that was why, of every craft connectedwith the stage, he had always got along worst with writers: and perhapsthat was also why, when he took to the camera, it was a release fromchains, for in all his films there was none of this brawling self-love,but an integrity, a vision of life, and the sweetness of a ripeapple.... All this came to her mind as she read the manuscript, andwhen she had finished it she wondered, not what to tell him, but how.The problem took such precedence, even over others she had, that shefelt she must act quickly; she could not endure the thought of himsitting there in that dreary little room, happily engaged upon a task soinept. She drove to see him the next morning, climbing the eighthalf-flights with the resoluteness of one who intends at all costs to befrank. The real trouble, she expected, would not be to break the newsgently but to make any impression at all on his own conviction that hecould do no wrong.

"So you've read it already?" he exclaimed, when he saw the manuscriptunder her arm. "That's great! You just couldn't stop, I suppose, onceyou tried a page or two?" He smiled indulgently as he pulled a chair forher. From the look of things he had been working hard at thecontinuation, and he saw her glance take in the typewriter and thelittered table. "I think I have another couple of chapters for you," headded proudly. "Now tell me all about it."

"Paul... Let me get my breath...."

"Yes, I know. Those stairs.... But isn't it good stuff? How did youlike the part about our first meeting? That walk in Phoenix Park and mypromise to direct you in a play----"

"That wasn't our first meeting, Paul, and you didn't promise to directme... but it's a fair sample of what's wrong with the whole thing."

"Wrong?"

"Yes, because it isn't true. You've just made yourself a hero ineverything--which wouldn't matter so much except that you're wastingyour time doing this sort of thing at all. You're not a writer. You're apicture-maker. Your mind's eye has no words."

And now, she thought, regarding him dispassionately, let the heavensfall. He seemed preoccupied for a moment, as if holding some answer ofhis own in abeyance; then all he did was to take a cigar from his pocketand slowly light it--not at all the movement of an angry man. Presentlyhe remarked: "Not bad, not bad. My mind's eye has no words. I like that.Carve it on my tombstone. You know, Carey, I have an idea sometime tomake a picture without words at all. The old silents were almost an artwhen this horrible mess of verbiage dragged them down to the level ofmere photographed stage plays. You're pretty smart to perceive that."

She hadn't perceived it at all, but she was dazed by her own luck infinding a phrase that had so captivated him.

He went on, smoking tranquilly: "Do you think I'd waste time if therewere anything else I could do?"

"Well then, Paul, you must find some work, the kind you can do andlove to do--otherwise you'll soon become a rather silly old man withnothing but a collection of memories and grievances. Paul, why couldn'tyou take any kind of job--at first--if it gave you a chance to makefilms?"

"Any kind of job?"

"Not absolutely any kind--I mean a decent job, of course, but maybe notone that gives you all the freedom you've been used to.... A jobwhere you could prove how good you are to those who don't already knowit... a compromise, Paul. You'll have to make one if you ever want toget back. Couldn't you take a job--say--in one of the smallerstudios--and on a not so very important picture--if it were offeredyou?"

"Directing?"

"Yes, naturally--though perhaps not with full control of everything.Hollywood doesn't do things that way."

"Ah, Hollywood."

"Well, where else is there? Apparently you can't go back to Europe."

"So you offer me a director's job in Hollywood at a minor studio and ona B picture. Suppose I say I wouldn't be interested?"

"Then I'd begin to lose all hope for you."

"Suppose I said I was interested? How soon could I have the job?"

"I don't know--I don't know even if there is one. But if you say you'dtake it, that's the first step. Austen has influence----"

"Oh, Austen, Austen, Austen. I wanted his money, and his answer wasno. My answer's the same now--to his influence. Damn his influence.No... No.... What sort of person do you think I am?"

"That's what I've never been able to decide."

She could see the answer amused him as he retorted: "Maybe you ought towrite a book about it someday."

"Except that I doubt if I could ever make the subject interestingenough."

"Oho, so that's how you feel? I bore you, eh?"

He never did and he never had, but she answered: "Yes, sometimes...and I'm in a hurry, I think I'd better be going."

"You won't even have coffee with me?"

"No thanks. I really mustn't stay as long as last time."

"Next time I want you to have dinner with me."

"No, I couldn't do that."

"Then when shall we meet again?"

"I can't promise. But let me know how you are, and if you needanything...."

"So you find me a bore," he repeated, not believing it at all (she couldsee), but turning over the idea in his mind as some abstract curiosity.

"I won't argue, Paul."

"You don't even admire me any more?"

This was too much, so she began to smile. "I do admire you, in manyways. I might even admire your attitude towards Austen if I didn't knowit's a mere gesture. You don't really feel like that about taking helpfrom people--you haven't that kind of pride----"

"False pride. Of course I haven't. And look, Carey, gesture or not. Idon't want Austen putting in his little word for me anywhere. It's not amatter of principle--much more important, it's a whim. If you want me todo the kind of job you described--the compromise job--ask Michaelson tofind me one. He's been my agent for the past twenty years--time he didsomething."

"All right," she said, ignoring the further absurdity of that lastremark. "I'll go straight to Micky from here." She was surprised thatthe idea hadn't occurred to her earlier. "But I'll have a cup of coffeewith you first."

* * *

Michaelson had been Paul's agent, too, in the old days before theEuropean adventures. He was getting on in years now, and had taken on ajunior whom he was grooming for partnership and to be his eventualsuccessor. It was this comparative youngster whom Carey talked to whenshe called at the office on Forty-second Street. He was very affable,assuming no doubt that she had come to announce herself in the marketagain for a good play; and this, being good business, was good news. Butwhen she said she didn't want a play, but would like to talk about PaulSaffron, he assumed the look of someone who from then on was prepared tolisten merely from politeness.

"Do you know Paul Saffron well?" he asked, which she took to beconvincing proof of how time could obliterate not only the memory ofhalf a dozen successful plays but of gossip also, and even a breath ofscandal.

The irony of it made her answer: "Fairly well. He's one of your clients,anyway. Or didn't you realize that?"

"Yes, Mr. Michaelson used to handle him--years ago--I guess that's whyhe still considers himself attached to us. Otherwise I doubt whether..."

"I see." She went on to explain what kind of job Paul wanted, howwell-qualified he was, and how high his reputation had been in Europebefore the war. "Maybe you've seen his work. I don't think it's anexaggeration to call him one of the world's great picture directors."

She began to dislike the youth for the way he deliberately poker-facedbefore answering. "You really think that, Miss Arundel?"

"Yes, I do."

He poker-faced again. "You know, you actresses can sell a lot ofthings--face cream, lipstick, cigarettes, home permanents, God knowswhat. But there's one thing you can't sell, and that's Paul Saffron."

"Why not?"

"Because he's a fascist."

"What?"

"He was mixed up with the Nazis during the war--did propaganda for themor something----"

"That's not true! I know there've been all kinds of slanders abouthim----"

"All right, all right--so they're slanders. Maybe. But people believethem. And he hasn't enough friends who'll say they're slanders. You'rethe first I've come across."

They were still in the argument when Michaelson entered. He and Careywere old friends and greeted each other affectionately. He introducedher formally to the youth, mentioning the latter as "a bright lad...I hope he's been telling you how glad we'll be if you're after anotherplay."

"I'm not, Micky. I came to talk about Paul--your bright lad didn't knowhe was once my husband."

The youth was not in the least discomfited. "I knew, Miss Arundel, but Ithought I could be franker with you if I pretended I didn't."

He left the room, at a signal from Michaelson.

She said, ruefully: "So I guess he is a bright lad."

"Sure.... Now what is it about Paul?"

She went through the whole thing again, but to a kindlier audience. Atthe end he said: "Well, Carey, what Joe told you wasn't far off themark. It's going to be pretty hard to sell Paul anywhere."

"Because of the lies that are going around?"

"Partly that. And also because Hollywood has 'em all listed either hotor cold, and Paul's like ice--at the moment. Now if it were you, I couldmake a deal by picking up the phone. You don't know how many inquiriesI've had--I don't even bother you about them, because I know how youfeel. Look, I say to them, Miss Arundel isn't interested in pictures,she's married to a millionaire, you just haven't an angle withher.... But you're hot, Carey. I think I could ask a hundred thousandfor one picture and no quibbling."

"Micky, let's get back to Paul. He'll go to pieces if he doesn't find ajob soon. They must know his pictures made money in Europe."

"Most of them don't know and none of them care."

"I suppose they take more notice of the lies put out by his enemies."

"Look, Carey, it isn't only that. Paul has a reputation for beingdifficult, and there's nothing worse when you want a job. People whoever worked with him don't forget what he was like--he's not a man youcan forget. If he were on top, they'd all say what a wonderfulexperience they had, but now he's out, so they all say what a son of abitch he was. And he was, too; let's face it. I used to quarrel with himso many times I lost count, and when he called on me recently after hegot back from Europe he was just as impossible as ever. How he managedto make pictures for the Germans I'll never know----"

"He didn't. That's one of the lies, Micky----"

"I meant before the war--don't get so excited. The good pictures hemade--they were for the Germans, weren't they?"

"They were for the world."

"Oh, come now, he made them in Germany, they were German-languagefilms--nothing wrong about that, mind you----"

"Yes, yes, of course. I'm being silly. I'm sorry."

"Sure, I understand. You like the fellow. So do I--in a way. But as Isaid, I've often wondered how he managed to get on with them over there.Maybe it's what they go for... the Wagner type. High-brows andheadaches."

"No, Micky, that's wrong too. He's not high-brow. His pictures have beenpopular."

"Not in Paducah, Kentucky. That's the hurdle he has to cross."

"So you think there's nothing can be done?"

"I should say at present, not a thing. Unless you want me to fix up apackage deal for both of you? Then somebody would have to take the pillto get the jam."

He had said this as a joke to lighten the tension on Carey's face; andshe did indeed respond, but he saw the laugh drain away into a look ofdifferent tension. She said quietly: "Could you really make a deal likethat with someone in Hollywood?"

"Sure. You can make any kind of deal if you have something to offer thatsomebody wants. During the liquor shortage I once sold an actor becauseI could throw in a dozen cases of Scotch."

"Well... go ahead and sell Paul along with me."

"You're not serious?"

"I am."

From habit he pulled a pencil and scratch pad towards him, then pushedthem away again. "No, I won't need to remind myself of this. You're sureit's not a gag?"

"I'm serious," she assured him again.

They discussed details, and just before she left his office he said:"Your personal affairs are none of my business, Carey, but it's onlyfair to mention one thing.... People are going to draw a certainconclusion from all this."

"That I'm doing it to get Paul a job? I don't see why they'll know thatif you don't tell them."

"It'll leak out from the other end, you bet.... But that wasn't whatI meant. The big conclusion they'll draw is that you're leaving yourhusband and going back to Paul."

That startled her. "Yes, I suppose they will. It's not true, but I can'thelp it.... It's not true, Micky--it's almost comic, when I thinkof it. I could never go back to Paul. You believe me, don't you?"

"Why not, if you say so? But who else will?"

"Then I don't care. It's no worse--and no less absurd--than the otherrumor."

Michaelson walked with her along the corridor to the elevator, and asthe pointer swung to their floor number he said: "I know you're serious,and I'm itching to get at the phone, but I'll wait for one hour...exactly... in case you change your mind."

Half an hour later she was with Paul. "Now for heaven's sake don't youback out!" she exclaimed, watching his face as she gave him the news,but to her relief he seemed delighted--and especially because he wouldnow, he said, have a chance to make a movie star out of her. "Youremember I always promised I would, Carey? You have a good face--theright profile slightly better than the left. I'd like to cast you as anold lady--you'd be beautiful with just a few wrinkles here--andhere----" He touched her with his finger tips.

"Well, thanks, but I'm pretty sure you won't have a chance. They'll giveyou a certain picture to make and you'll have to make it. There'll alsobe a story, whether you like it or not, and there'll be a producer todecide how much you spend, and a cameraman who'll think he knows moreabout angles than you do, and a writer or writers to do thescript.... Micky told me all this, and I'm passing it on to you now,so that you'll know the worst." (It occurred to her then that it hadn'tbeen at all a bad idea of Michaelson's to wait for that full hour.) "Butthere's also good news, Paul--and the best of all is that you'll haveyour chance, and it'll be a big one, because it's bound to be animportant picture if anybody's willing to pay so much for me in it."

"What will they pay for you, may I ask?"

"Micky thinks he can get a hundred thousand."

"Ridiculous," Paul muttered, under his breath, and then added,thoughtfully: "But of course that's for you and me together."

"I expect so," she agreed tactfully.

The full hour passed, after which she returned to the house. Austen wasout, and Norris, she learned, had gone to the Museum of Modern Art. Shetold Richards, with an exhilarating sense of freedom: "Any time, ifthere's a call for me from a Mr. Michaelson, I'll take it."

There was no call that day, or the next, but the following morning shetalked to the agent from her bedroom while Austen was dressing. "Ihaven't clinched anything yet, but you're hot, Carey, same as I toldyou. We were batting it out all day yesterday. Better drop by my officelater and we'll talk over what's happened."

She said she would, then hung up. She knew that Austen had heard enoughto wonder who it was she had agreed to meet, but of course he was toopolite to ask and she felt it would have been challenging to tell him.

By the time she reached Michaelson's office there was a tentative dealto be discussed. It was with Majestic Pictures, not the biggest studio,and possibly not the best, if there were a best, but recommendable ifonly because it had shown the greatest interest and been the first tomake a firm offer. On the whole, though, Michaelson seemed a littledisappointed. "I could have sold you to any of the studios," he said,"except for Paul. Even the jam wouldn't cover that pill, with some ofthem. And when I named my price to Majestic they didn't even flinch tillI said he had to be in the deal. Then they started to hum and ha. Theyhad their own directors, didn't need another--all that sort ofthing.... By the way, how much do you think he should get?"

"Oh. I don't know, Micky, that's your province."

"Ten thousand?"

"For the whole job?"

He nodded.

"A hundred for me and ten for him... he'd be pretty mad, but Isuppose he'd have to take it. I thought a director would get more,though."

"Most of them do. But Majestic already have their own directors, that'swhat they kept telling me. What would you say to Paul being brought inas a technical adviser--wouldn't mean such hard work for him--probablynot much at all--and he'd get the cash just the same?... I presumewhat you really want is to help him financially without getting into anytax situation."

"And he wouldn't direct the picture?"

"He wouldn't have to."

"But he must--I want him to--that's the whole point. It isn't just aquestion of money."

"I see. I told them I thought that might be your attitude.... Still,don't worry. I can make a deal on those lines, but it won't be such agood one."

"Micky, don't you see what I'm after? I want Paul to get established inthe kind of work he can do----"

"Yes, yes, I know. All right. That's how it shall be then. Seventy-fivefor you and ten for Paul as director----"

"I thought you said a hundred for me? Not that I care particularly--"

Michaelson scribbled figures on his pad as if they were too difficult towork out mentally. "I could hold out for a hundred, Carey, and I'mcertain I could get it--if you'd settle for Paul on a technical-adviserbasis. Otherwise..."

She smiled. "I see. Seventy-five's okay."

He smiled back. "You think he's worth the difference?"

She kept on smiling. "The difference less a whole lot of income tax.Yes, I'll sign. The main things are the details. I want you to protecthim all you can--in case they want to put him off halfway through orsomething."

He kept on smiling. "Seems like we're both expecting trouble with thatguy."

"An old habit of mine, Micky. Do your best for him. I don't know whatyou can ask in the way of authority or control--probably not much. Buttry to get the limit. I'll be out there to smooth things. I haven't metmany picture people, but I guess they're human."

"Very. Human enough to be your admirers." He beamed with gallantry, thenbecame businesslike. "So you approve the deal I've outlined?"

"Yes."

"And you think he'll approve it too?"

"My God, he'd better."

"Perhaps he could drop by and see me himself. We'll roll out a bit ofred carpet."

"Let me talk to him again first. How long before we sign?"

"It'll take a week or so to set the thing up." Michaelson continued, onthe way to the elevator: "As I thought, they all took it as proof youwere going back to him. I told them you weren't, but they offered meodds on it. So what would probably have been only in Variety--I mean,about the contract--may hit the gossip columns. If it does, rememberit's not my fault--I warned you of a leak from the other end.Hollywood's one big leak--you'll find that out."

* * *

She knew then she must tell Austen without delay, for it would beunthinkable to let him hear or read of it.

She told him that night, after they had left Norris, and while he wasmixing his customary nightcap. After considering all kinds of excusesand evasions, she finally decided on the plain truth. She said she hadbeen offered a good contract to make a picture in Hollywood with Pauldirecting, and she had accepted. She explained the nature of the dealand spared none of the details of Paul's unpopularity and theunlikelihood of his ever getting a job without herself as bait. "It'shis last chance," she said, perhaps over-severely, as if he were a badboy whom she had to discipline. "I'm giving it him not because hedeserves it but because I think he's good in his own line--too good tobe allowed to go on being unlucky for the rest of his life. As formyself, I'm not specially anxious to be in a picture, though I daresayit'll be interesting, but however it turns out I certainly don't plan anew career. It's just this once. I want you to know that."

He was silent for a long while after she had first thought she hadfinished. She kept remembering additional details and adding them, butstill he was silent. Then he went to the decanter and poured himselfanother drink.

He said at length: "I don't want you to do it at all."

"I'm sorry, Austen. I was afraid it wouldn't please you, but I wish youcould realize that I feel I have to."

"I don't see why you feel you have to do anything unless it's what youwant."

"Then I suppose it's true that I want to do it."

"As I thought." His voice was quietly strained. "So for this desire, orcompulsion, or sense of obligation--whatever it is--you're ready tobreak up all we have here together...."

"Oh no, no--why?--why should that happen? Surely it has nothing to dowith----"

"Carey, it's come to the point I hoped it never would--I've got to tellyou what I really think of Paul. Discount some of it, but not much,because I hate him. He's the only person I've ever hated. And it's forone reason only--that he not only drove you half out of your mind whenhe was with you, but he hasn't let you alone since. The mere thought ofhim--his very existence anywhere--can threaten your happiness andtherefore mine. I've known that for a long time."

"You're really exaggerating, Austen. He never drove me half out of mymind."

"You should have seen yourself when I met you. It's what first made menotice you--because I'm not normally the sort of person who picks upstrange actresses on shipboard." He smiled a wintry smile. "But thatbroken look you had, the look of being utterly lost and spiritless----"

"I don't remember it was as bad as that."

"You don't? Then that's what living a sane life these last fifteen yearshas done--the life you're now planning to give up. Perhaps you don'tremember the nervous wreck you were while you were rehearsing thatplay?"

"The one that flopped? Oh heavens, yes, but you can't blame that onPaul. He'd never have let me do it if he'd been around."

"But he wasn't around, was he, and that's the point... that he'ddeserted you and you were like a drowning person all that time.Fortunately--by some miracle--you began to learn to swim on your own."

"With you to help me, Austen, I admit that."

"I don't want your admission as if it were only my due. I want you tostay here, with me, for your own sake and mine, and I don't want youever to see or communicate with Paul again. I can't put it straighterthan that."

Because he was not a man to plead, the note in his voice embarrassedher, as if she were eavesdropping on something unseemly. She knew he wasgenuinely trying to master his emotion and not, as an actor might, toexhibit it with an appearance of struggle for concealment. She begantidying things on her dressing table, to ease both of them through a badmoment; and suddenly, as in times of crisis before, the sense of dualpersonality came on her and she herself was acting: Carey Arundelplaying the part of the second Mrs. Bond.

"But it's all fixed up, Austen."

"Then unfix it. Change your mind--break your word if necessary. And ifyou've signed anything, leave that to me."

"I haven't signed anything yet. But it's all fixed up."

"You're afraid he'll try to hold you to a promise? Leave that to metoo."

"It isn't that at all. As a matter of fact he had to be persuaded, notI. It's just that I want him to do this job and he can't get it unlessI'm in the thing too. They wouldn't take him without me. I explained itall just now."

"So you really intend to go on with this?"

"Yes, I do. I'm sorry, Austen."

He came over to her and touched her shoulder. She felt his hand cold.She saw how pale he was, the gray look of misery, and when she reachedup to touch his hand it was icy. "It doesn't mean any break between youand me," she said with kindness. "At least I don't know why it should."

"Carey, how can you say that? How can you think of doing this? Howcould you?" He seemed brought up against an impasse of incredibility."Without even consulting me... I can't understand it...."

"It's my work, Austen, if you argue it out on those lines. I neverpromised I'd give it up for good. I don't want to do it all thetime--you know that--but I can't think of it as something you have aright to veto."

"I've never tried to when it was the work itself you wanted. But he'syour reason now. You've been frank enough to say so. And he'll ruin you.He'll wear you out again--and you're older, you won't be able to standit. He consumes--you used that word once yourself. And he has noloyalty, nor integrity, nor even common fairness. As you say, you don'tremember those things now. There are things you probably don't even knowof.... All the time he was refusing you a divorce, for instance, hewas living with a German girl--a film actress...."

"Oh, was he? A beautiful girl, I met her. Doesn't surprise me--Isuspected it all along. But how did you know?"

He answered grimly: "I had him watched."

It was his mistake to have said that. It threw her into a differentmood.

"Really, Austen? As simple as that? You just had him watched?"

"I thought we might need the information legally, but it turned out wedidn't and I was glad. I never intended to tell you anything about it,unless I had to, and for all these years...."

"You've kept the secret! That was rather wonderful, after having himwatched. Do you often have people watched?"

"Carey!"

"Have you ever had me watched?" She was relieved to be able to laugh."But of course you have--Richards watches me, and Foster, andFlossie--you don't suppose I haven't noticed, do you? It's your way--youthink it's safer than trusting people. So do please have me watched inHollywood--you have contacts there, I'm sure. It won't cause me anytrouble, because I won't be having an affair with anybody, not even myex-husband. I'm really telling you the truth--there's not love of thatkind between me and Paul."

"Perhaps I'm just as jealous of any other kind, whatever it is."

"The kind that hired watchers couldn't give you evidence about?"

"Oh Carey, why are you so bitter? Have I ever done you any wrong?"

She knew it was because he hadn't that she was bitter, if at all. "Let'snot talk any more tonight, Austen. I hate arguments and I know you dotoo."

"There s nothing more to say, now that we've both spoken our minds.You've told me you intend to do what you want. So shall I--as soon as Iknow what it is. I don't--yet. I'm too shocked--not by the thing itselfbut by your reason for doing it--the proof it gives of how little I meanto you, and not only I, but your home here... and Norris. What'sgoing to happen to that boy after you've gone? He worships you--you'vebeen part of his cure since he came back--he depends on you... but Isuppose all that counts for nothing also."

His mention of Norris brought her to the limit of endurance. "Norriswill be all right," she answered unevenly. "I'm not as necessary for himas you think."

"But you are--you always have been--you're the only one who can talksense to him! He has a preposterous idea of taking up medicine and goingout to some island as a resident doctor--did you know that?--the wholething is fantastic--it would take years to qualify and by that time,anyhow... but it shows the state of his mind--it shows how much heneeds your advice and influence, since he won't accept mine. And this isthe moment you choose to leave him!"

He walked out of the room without waiting for a reply, even if she couldhave made one. It was the first time she had seen him beyond control.

* * *

The next morning at breakfast both of them, for Norris's sake, tried tobehave as if nothing were amiss. She thought she herself was acting wellenough, but Austen, though he clearly did his best, could not match her,and there was a noticeable tension in his manner that made Norris, afterhis father had gone to the office, remark to Carey: "What's on his mind?A new billion-dollar loan or something?"

She felt sorry for Austen and therefore hurt by Norris's flippancy; shesaid: "He has personal worries, Norris."

"Meaning me?"

She suddenly decided to tell him the truth then, instead of later,partly because she was no longer sure she could keep up a pretense,partly also from an urge to discover his reaction. So she told him,explaining the thing pretty much as she had done to Austen. When she hadfinished he was silent for a moment, then said: "So that's what wasbothering him."

"Yes. That and your own idea."

"My idea?" He started in alarm. "What do you mean?"

"The tropical medicine. He doesn't like either of our ideas."

"My God, Carey, you didn't tell him that? What on earth made you----"

"Of course I didn't, but he knew--he mentioned it to me and I was abit surprised to think that you'd told him----"

"As if I should----"

"Then... how on earth could he know?"

He replied after a pause, with the schoolboy sarcasm that she knewdisguised his emotions so often: "I suppose there are several ways.First, he might have heard us during the bridge game. But I rather doubtthat--we talked too quietly. Second, Richards might have beeneavesdropping after he brought in the drinks. But I rather doubt thattoo--I had my eye on him. Thirdly, either of them might have seen theletter I wrote to Columbia. Yes, on the whole, I think that's thelikeliest. I left the letter on the hall table to be picked up with theother mail. Somehow I didn't think... letters."

"Oh Norris, I'm sorry."

"Hardly your fault."

"I think perhaps it is, in a way."

"That Father sets up a spy system? I don't get it. You never promisedhim you'd drop your profession altogether. At least that's what you oncetold me."

"No, but that's not my real reason. I told you my real reason just now."

He said, after a silence: "Well, I never met the guy, so I can't saywhether I think he's worth it."

"Maybe he isn't. It isn't personal, anyhow."

"Then what is it?"

"I--I don't know. That's why I can't blame your father for not quitesizing it up. I can't blame anybody. Not even myself. It's my fault, butI don't blame myself for it. Does that give any clue?"

He smiled. "He must mean a lot to you...."

"Which of them are you talking about?"

"Paul." He went on smiling. "This is a funny conversation. I still say,though, he must mean a lot to you."

"I don't know... I don't know what he means."

"But you're looking forward to the excitement of working with him again.I'll bet you are."

She looked up, transfixed with a certain incredulity. "Looking forwardto it? You really think that?"

"Well, aren't you?"

"Norris, I'm dreading it."

"Then why do it?"

"I--I don't know."

"There we are again."

"Yes."

"You just have to do it?"

"Yes, in a sort of way."

"Maybe I know how you feel. We're both built a bit like that. You facingyour ordeal and I... if I can find one worth facing..."

"I hope you can, Norris. And I hope it isn't too much of an ordeal. Minewon't be more than I can help. I shall do my best to enjoy a newexperience."

"You make it sound like a schoolteacher visiting the Carlsbad Caverns."

"Now whatever made you think of that?"

"I'm trying hard not to be serious. You once asked me not to be. Now Iask you not to be. Let's have a good time till you leave--just a hell ofa good time, as if we hadn't anything on our minds.... Do you thinkwe could?"

"I'll try."

And indeed a curious tranquillity settled on them both as they wentabout together during the days that followed. They had the good time,doing nothing specially new, just the things that had by then becomeroutine. To Carey the whole interval had a quality of swanliketimelessness, as if anchored neither to past nor future. She thought ofa river above a fall, the water rolling deep and unknowing.

Not till the last day was Paul mentioned again, and then quite casuallyby her. It was in her room, amidst the confusion of packing, that heexclaimed: "Carey, I said it before and I'll say it again--you'll be abig success in films. You'll photograph like an angel."

"Paul says the left profile isn't quite so good."

"Oh he does, does he? Perfectionist. I'll bet he doesn't understand youhalf as well as I do."

"In some ways he doesn't understand me at all."

"No? Really? I'd like to meet that guy sometime."

"Maybe you will." She laughed, but nervously, as if the thought gave hera mixture of fear and pleasure. "It's too bad I once told him you were awriter. He hates writers. But perhaps by that time you'll be a doctor."

The maid entered with extra things to be packed, and there was no morechance to talk.

* * *

On the train to Chicago she had a moment of supreme dejection when shewondered if she were doing the most foolish thing of her life. At thepeak of misgiving she would have gone back, no matter at what cost insurrender or complication, but of course it was impossible and themoment passed.

She had waved through the window at Grand Central and seen father andson standing together as the train moved out. There had also been aphotographer from the New York office of Majestic Pictures. She hadposed for him on the platform and he had wanted to take the three ofthem in a group, but Austen, with his usual phobia about publicity, hadcurtly declined. Or had his reason been only that? It would have been agood way to contradict the rumors already in circulation, if he hadwanted to. She could not read into Austen's mind, and she realized nowthat she had never been able to, completely.

Soon it was evening and she felt less troubled--she could enjoy thecoziness of the drawing room, the lights of the little towns as theyflashed by, the glances of fellow passengers in the diner, some of whomdoubtless recognized her. She went to bed early and slept fairly well,and in the morning, after the transfer at Chicago, settled down to acouple of usefully contemplative days alone. It was for this reason shehad not traveled by air or with Paul. He was to fly out in time to meether, possibly at the train when she arrived.

As the miles passed and she stared out of the window for long stretchesit seemed to her that she remembered more than she observed, for it wasover twenty years since she had made this same westward journey, butthen by road, with Paul, in a model-T Ford. She herself had driven, andin those days it had not been such an easy trip--long spells of dirtroad between towns, changing tires in the dust, the radiator boilingover on mountain grades, nights spent in cheap hotels, sometimes in thecar to save a dollar. But to her (as that vacation in Ireland to Norris)the whole experience was deep in the mythology of the heart.... Thetree-shaded towns of Ohio, a whiff of snow in Kansas, sunrise on theredlands of Arizona... And now the air-conditioned luxury of theSuper-Chief was the measure of the years of change.



Part Five


One day about halfway through the shooting of Morning Journey theleading man, Greg Wilson, called Carey to come and look at what wasgoing on. She had been resting during a scene in which she did notappear, and the portable dressing room, tucked away in the corner of thebig stage, had a privacy that no one would wantonly disturb. But Greg,whom she had come to like during their work together, evidently thoughtthe reason good enough. At first glance nothing was unusual. There hadbeen one take already and there was to be another. Technicians werechecking the lights; the camera was being reloaded; the customaryappearance of noisy chaos was in full show. Paul had slumped in thecanvas chair, his head sunk forward as if he were half asleep--acharacteristic attitude that often concealed a sharp scrutiny of whatwas in progress. Greg, ill clothed and unkempt for his part, looked verydifferent from the hero of his usual type of film, and clearly he wasexcited at the difference and a little vain of himself. Two otheractors, one a girl, were also waiting to begin. The scene was theinterior of a country cottage, nothing special or expensive about it.

Paul said something and the bell rang for silence.

"Well, here we go," Greg whispered to Carey. "Watch me--I'm good, butwatch Barrington too--he's better."

Carey watched. Morning Journey was really nothing but acops-and-robbers picture (as Paul had said scornfully at the outset),and any similarity between itself and life would, in the ordinary way,have been purely detrimental. However, once Paul had schooled himself tothe actual job of shooting, the usual change in his attitude took place;Morning Journey became then contemptible only to the extent that itowed its origin to a mediocre novel and its later shape to a couple ofscript writers. There was, of course, the permanent slur (liable to bebrought up at any moment in any argument) of its being a Majesticpicture and therefore a victim of over-all and predestinedcontamination. The odd thing was that with all this Paul managed tocombine a tremendous intention of his own to make every scene as good ashe knew how, and an overmastering pride in every fragment of his work.The result was something in which life-likeness, if not life itself,sneaked in by all kinds of crannies: or, to quote a later critic who wasmainly hostile, the picture was full of "directorial flourishes." It wasone of these that Greg had called on Carey to witness. The openingsituation was simple; at night two escaping prisoners-of-war approach awoodcutter's cottage high in the Bavarian Alps. The men are weary andfamished, almost ready to give themselves up; in this mood they enterthe cottage seeking food and shelter. To their astonishment theyencounter no one, though lamps are lit, there is a fire burning, and atable is set for a meal. The men fall to on what is to hand--hunks ofbread and cheese and pitchers of milk; then, with the edge of hungerdulled, they become aware that there is someone else. They hearfootsteps and a girl's voice singing. They stand transfixed when thedoor opens and the girl, beautiful of course, brings in more food forthe table. Amazingly she does not seem to notice them, though they havehad no time to hide. The men are desperately uncertain what to do.Should they seize her, gag her, and tie her up, so that she cannot givethe alarm till they are well away? Or should they throw themselves onher mercy? One of the men (Greg), realizing the truth sooner than theother, covers his companion's mouth in a frantic signal for silence.For the girl is blind. But already she has heard. They try to edgetowards the door while she greets them cheerfully: "Hello. Sit down andhave some food. Who are you? How many are there of you? Did you findthem yet? They're probably across the border by now. Did you meet myfather? He said he'd climb to the ridge." The men dare not speak andtheir silence puzzles her. First she thinks it is a joke. "Hans, I knowit's you--answer me--stop being silly. Who is it with you?" All at once,in the continuing silence, panic is born and she suspects thetruth--that the intruders are not the pursuers, but the pursued. Her aimis then as much to escape as theirs is, and in rushing out of the roomshe stumbles over a chair. The second man, with instinctive kindliness,takes a step to help her, but has to be restrained by Greg. Once outsidethe room the girl screams for help while the two men make their exitfrom a side window.

A remarkable scene, if only because the star of the picture had nothingto say in it. But two other things made it equally remarkable. One wasthe almost intolerable suspense, the ballet-like dumb show of the twofugitives counterpointing the fluttering rhythms of the blind girl. Theother was the identity of the actor sharing the dumb show with Greg. Hewas Jerry Barrington, an old-timer from silent-picture days, whosefailing (apart from drink) had always been regarded as an invincibleinability to speak lines. But now, in a rather unexampled way, he didnot have to speak lines. It was really very fortunate for the picture.Yet that impulse of his to help the blind girl when she stumbled had hada rare beauty in it, something that had momentarily transfigured theface and movements of a rather second-rate performer.

Yet another point might have been noted--that the scene bore smallresemblance to anything in the script, in whose mimeographed pages thegirl had not been blind, and the men, before they could fill theirpockets with food and get away, had had to dodge in and out of roomslike erring husbands in a French farce.

After the word "Cut" there was a spell of continued tension as if evenhard-boiled technicians were impressed; then Paul added: "Print thefirst one," and everybody laughed. Already he had become somewhatnotorious for saying that.

Greg joined Carey at the edge of the suddenly unloosed commotion; Paulwas already talking to the cameraman about the next scene.

"How does he do it?" Greg exclaimed. "An old ham like Barrington..."

Carey said: "I've never seen Barrington before."

"That's the point. Nobody's ever seen him before.... How does he doit? Paul, I mean."

She said: "It was the same in the theater. He had a way of gettingthings out of people."

Greg nodded. "Now go back and finish your nap. We shan't be wanted foranother hour at least."

"I'm glad you fetched me, Greg. It's a wonderful scene. Who changed itthis way?"

"Can't you guess? The writers haven't been near the place. They'llprobably kick when they find out, unless they know a good thing whenthey see it, and who does, when it's somebody else's?"

"Did Randolph approve?"

"He wouldn't have been given a chance only he happened to come on theset while the whole thing was being cooked up and re-rehearsed. I don'tthink he really liked it. He finds it hard to like anything that Pauldoes at the last minute without consulting him. But the big row wasbecause Paul wanted the girl to speak in German--said it was morenatural and the words themselves didn't matter--the voice would give themeaning. Of course Randy wouldn't stand for that, and Paul had to givein. The rest he did the way he wanted it." Greg laughed. "What a way tomake a picture! And yet what a way--if you can do it!"

She had already admitted Greg to full membership in the conspiracy ofthose who knew the formula derived from measuring Paul's faults againsthis virtues.

"Personally," she said, "I agree with Randolph about the German. Paulgoes overboard sometimes."

"Sure. Ninety per cent of Paul and ten per cent of Randy make a goodmixture."

"I think I'll drop by and talk to him before I go home. Perhaps I cansmooth matters down a bit."

"Couldn't do any harm. He likes you."

So she called at Randolph's office before leaving the studio thatevening. She didn't defend the changed scene, but chatted about it in aseemingly impartial way and somehow conveyed her own satisfaction withthe progress of the picture as a whole. Randolph, frosty at first,thawed under her influence till at last he admitted that some of thescenes looked all right. The test, of course, would be in the public'sreception. He was a tall dome-headed tweedy fellow in his late fifties,as proud of his Bond Street shoes as he was of his hundred-odd picturesthat, over a period of twenty years, had earned fabulous profits withoutever collecting a single award or distinction. He was not cynical aboutthis, merely matter of fact. Picturemaking was an industry; art was allright, but it usually did not pay. If by chance it did, it was either afluke, or else the artist involved had been kept in careful check by menof proved experience. He himself was a man of proved experience and hewas determined to keep Saffron in check, but Saffron, being not only anartist but also a so-and-so, was harder to check than most artists. Thiswas his attitude, which he did not put into words, but which Careyunderstood perfectly. She had even a certain amount of sympathy--notwith it, but with him, for Paul's habit of rewriting scenes at the lastminute was really inexcusable. But then Paul had found many other thingsinexcusable. His first big row with Randolph had occurred after thefirst day's shooting when the two of them, along with Carey, GregWilson, and a fourth man, had sat in the back row of a projection roomto see the rushes. The fourth man, introduced indistinctly, was ignoreduntil Randolph suddenly addressed him across the others. "Cut from wherethe girl enters the room to the long shot of the cab arriving. Then goto the two-shot inside the cab." Paul rose from his seat immediately."What's going on? Are you joking? Who is this fellow?" The fourth man,who had been taking notes, was then solemnly reintroduced as a cutter.Paul erupted for about ten minutes. It was then explained to him thatMajestic Pictures Incorporated employed producers to produce, directorsto direct, and cutters to cut. Paul said he would do his own cutting orquit. He had had to concede control of production, casting, and music,but there was a limit beyond which he would not surrender. The argumentcontinued in the darkened projection room until Randolph was fuming andPaul had begun to inveigh against the entire output of MajesticPictures, hardly any of which he had seen. The cutter sat silent, awarethat his salary did not entitle him to an opinion. In the end the matterwas left somewhat undecided, with Carey and Greg appealing to both sidesto wait till the picture was finished before any cutting was done atall. "If it's good," she said, "surely it won't be hard then to agree onthe details." This may not have made much sense (since it would alwaysbe hard for Paul to agree with anyone else on anything), but it provideda needed excuse for shelving the issue; but of course Randolph hatedPaul from then on, and Paul, who already hated Randolph, began a grimaccumulation of ammunition for the eventual fight. One of his procedureswas to see earlier pictures that Randolph had produced, whenever thechance occurred, and gloat over the details of their badness.

There were other troubles. Randolph's way of shooting a picture (he hadbeen a director himself in his time) was to make a long master-shot ofeverything in a scene, then break it up into medium and close shots,"favoring" the star--for naturally, under the star system, who elsecould be "favored"? The final jigsaw was then assembled in the cuttingroom, where, if any supporting actors were so good that they drew toomuch attention, the error could be corrected by blanketing their voicesagainst the star's close-up. This had been done so often in all Majesticpictures that it had become a formula which Randolph took for granted;even to question it seemed slightly impious. Paul not only questionedit, he called it nonsense. First, he did not believe in master-shots,and he hated close-ups of faces while other actors were speaking. And heliked the camera to move, not to chop and change from one fixed positionto another. Nor did he believe a scene could be stolen except by whatdeserved to steal it--which was good acting against bad acting. Hethought Greg Wilson, for instance, was a pretty bad actor, and hadn'twanted him in the picture at all. Randolph, however, knew that Carey hadno following among movie-goers, and had insisted on casting Majestic'sbiggest box-office name opposite her. Carey was prepared to agree thatin this Randolph might be wise, but Paul resented it until one day Gregtold Paul that no director he had ever experienced had done so well withhim. This flattered Paul and made him think Greg not nearly so bad,which was the necessary self-hypnosis before Paul could make him, as hepresently did, rather surprisingly adequate.

As for Carey herself, her introduction to a new technique of acting, ifit were such, seemed less significant than a return to the discipline ofworking with Paul. After an anguished rehearsal of the first scene, shewondered what had ever possessed her to undertake a renewal of thisordeal voluntarily; a hundred memories assailed her, mostly of similaranguish when she had been unable to please him during stage rehearsals:she might have guessed he would have become no more indulgent with theyears. But then one day while she was before the camera in a ratherdifficult scene, another memory touched her--the renewal of that curioustrancelike bliss that told her she was acting, and with it the renewalof ambition to act, and of the feeling that what she was doing matteredby some standard shared by other arts. She tried to catch Paul's eyewhen the scene ended, but he was looking elsewhere; she heard, however,the inflection in his voice as he spoke the one word "Print," and inthat she had her answer. She felt suddenly radiant. It was all worthwhile, God knew how or why, but it was.

She could have endured and even come to enjoy the strain of satisfyingPaul as an actress had there been less to do as trouble-shooter. Theancient contrast appeared again in full force--that most people likedher a great deal while few could like Paul except with a degree ofpartisanship that made them just as difficult to handle themselves.(Among these few were several actors and a Negro set boy for whom he hadperformed some unexplained kindness.) The trouble was that there were somany more possible antagonisms on a movie stage than in a theater--somany more rules, written and unwritten, to be despised and challenged;so many more taboos to tilt against, so many more egos to affront.Typical, perhaps, was the row with the musicians. The scene called forCarey to play the piano, which she did on a silent keyboard while aprofessional pianist dubbed in from the background. Paul's firstcomplaint was that the pianist played too well; after a second try, Paulcomplained that he played too badly. Paul then went to the piano, playedthe thing himself, and declared himself thoroughly satisfied. "There'sall the difference," he said, "between a nonprofessional playing as wellas he can and a professional deliberately playing less well than hecan." Perhaps there was, but there also happened to be Petrillo's unionthat would not let Paul play at all. It took an hour or more to convincehim that he could not fight Petrillo, and several days to appease themusicians who considered themselves slighted by the whole incident.

Then there was his refusal to admit strangers to the set and hisrudeness to a New York executive (and principal Majestic stockholder)who assumed that rules did not apply to him. There were also scenes withthe cameraman, who regarded his machine as a Copernican sun round whichthe picture should revolve, whereas to Paul it was an Einsteinian eyethat must move relatively to the actors all the time. Furthermore. Paulwanted to select the lens and teach the man his job: as he was a veteranwho had worked for Essanay in nickelodeon days, he took this very illindeed, and the fact that Paul knew all the mechanics of camera-work didnot mollify him. The sultriest arguments they had were over Paul'sfrequent use of dolly and boom, which caused extra trouble and highercosts. Yet in another way Paul's methods were too economical to bepopular; both camera crew and stage hands liked a director whose manytakes gave them plenty of idleness on the set. But Paul was oftensatisfied with the first take, and took a second only for protection.His procedure was to rehearse and rehearse, with the camera goingthrough all the motions of the shooting and the cameraman doing what hewas told instead of presiding over a mystery.

But of all disputes the fiercest were with the writers, since to beginwith, Paul had disliked both story and script. The former, supposed tobe based on a novel, had really retained little but the title, and this,for all that it signified, might just as well (had they not been usedbefore) have been Gone with the Wind or If Winter Comes. As for thescript, Paul claimed it was intolerably wordy; "Nobody talks like thatin life," he kept on saying, though with scornful inconsistency he couldagree that many people did, if they attended movies often enough. Arewrite, made after heated conferences, resulted in a second versionhardly more to his taste, but by that time the shooting date was nearand there was no time for a further rewrite. Nor, to be frank, was Paulat all anxious to have one. He was perfectly satisfied to doctor thescript himself as he went along, thinning out dialogue, changingbackground, inventing incidents, introducing new facets to character,and generally playing God. The writers had every reason to hate him, butsince also they were pretty good writers they were even fascinated byhim a little, as by a cross unlikely to be inflicted on them again. Oneof them took him aside after an especially stormy argument and said,almost affectionately: "Look, Mr. Saffron, you haven't been herelong--you don't know the way things work. Maybe, as you say, there's toomuch dialogue in pictures, but what the hell do you expect us todo--turn out a script full of stage directions? You know nobody evertakes any notice of what a writer wants actors to do--only of what hegives them to say. Ever seen a top-executive looking over a script?Unless you can make him yell 'Boy, oh boy, what dialogue!' you're out ofluck.... So you see how it is, Mr. Saffron?"

"All I see," Paul answered, "is that Mendelssohn would have been introuble here for writing Lieder Ohne Worte."

The writers laughed and appreciated him more for this and other salliesthan he did them for their considerable patience. There was no doubtthat he had never really liked writers since the day he had ceased to beone himself. Of course he would show respect to literary eminence, andin the presence of businessmen he could even feel distant kinship withany writer at all, as with any muralist or trumpet player or landscapegardener; but as a rule he was on constant guard. Stage playwrightsespecially he had always been wary of, since they had a relativelyprivileged status and even he could not cut and change their workwithout a semblance of permission. But his more recent and heightenedhostility had actually sprung from a wartime neurosis; in the prisoncamp he had seen a few writers occasionally writing, and theirself-containedness, their ability to work with a pencil and a scrap ofpaper in relative secrecy and in disregard of events, had rubbed raw hisown grandiose frustrations. It was thus in part a pathological grudge,and now the chance to pay it off was unique. Always quick to grasp asituation before he knew the reasons for it, he had soon sensed thatMajestic's professional scenarists, even when high-salaried, carriednone of the prestige of the older kinds of writer: so that at long lasthe had the breed where he wanted it--in subservience to the over-allauthority of the show-maker--i.e. himself. It was the one point onwhich, without realizing it, he was in full agreement with the studioheads--though they, of course, set themselves above him with an equaldegree of arrogance.

Finally, he was at odds with the publicity department and the columnistswho wrote movie stuff for newspapers and fan magazines. He did nottrouble to understand their function, but let them know that even if hedid he would probably despise it. On first reading gossip items that heand Carey were contemplating a reconciliation, he had snortedcontemptuously, and when asked if it were true had denied it with anemphasis that might have sounded ungallant had not Carey been with himto laugh and back him up. But of course the rumor stayed in circulation,only weakened slightly by an alternative theory that Carey wasinterested in her leading man. She was; she liked Greg Wilson very much.They often dined and were seen together.

Greg was a big, jovial forty-seven, and quite sensationally handsome. Bycareful make-up and constant attention to physique he had been playingparts of twenty-five-year-olds so long that there was a certain puppyquality in his entire behavior and personality. Two marriages hadfailed, possibly because he was less exciting in life than on thescreen; he had now for several years been alone, popular, and extremelyeligible. He was also Majestic's biggest and therefore most privilegedmoney-maker, playing golf with the studio heads and fringing on the kindof society that did not normally admit movie people at all. A likablefellow, whose love scenes were so wooden that women imagined what itmust be like to teach him. He found it hard to memorize more than a fewlines at a time. When it was conveyed to him (not over-subtly) that Paulhad not wanted him in the picture, he said: "For Pete's sake, why shouldhe? I don't blame him." When he met Carey he made it almost too clearthat he was smitten; actually he wasn't, but he enjoyed thinking he was.He had all the bluff open-air reactions to most things that his screencharacters had--except one reaction that nobody could have foreseen andthat had certainly not been foreshadowed in any part he had ever played.This was a curious attachment that he developed to Paul. Paul, he wentaround telling people, was the greatest director he had ever known."Look!" he exclaimed, when he saw the daily rushes. "Would you everbelieve that's me?" There was something warm and engaging about him, andCarey found him a constant ally in her efforts to smooth out troublesthat arose from Paul's behavior on and off the set.

* * *

Those days of the shooting of Morning Journey passed for her in acurious dream.

She heard from Norris--a warm, friendly note, not very long, discussingmostly the books he had been reading, telling little of affairs at thehouse. He mentioned that Austen would soon leave on a business trip toSouth America and had suggested he should go along with him, but hedidn't know whether he wanted to.

She wrote a long chatty letter in reply, the kind Austen could see if itso happened, describing her work, the progress of the picture, and thelife she was living. She added that the South American trip soundedexciting, maybe it was the sort of change he needed.

She did not hear from Austen, but to him also she wrote a long chattyletter, describing her work, the progress of the picture, and the lifeshe was living.

It was certainly a hard one, much more so than she had expected. She wasup most mornings by six, to be ready on the set by eight forhair-dressing and make-up. Paul was always there by then, having stayedup all night (she sometimes concluded) to rewrite the scenes. She andPaul lived in apartments several miles from each other; their firstmeeting of the day was on the sound stage, and in the evenings, even ifthey dined together at a restaurant, they rarely said good night laterthan ten. On Saturdays she allowed herself to accept party invitations;Sunday was a day of rest unless Greg Wilson drove her to the mountainsor the sea. He bored her a little when he talked almost continuallyabout Paul. His favorite remark was that he didn't know how two suchwonderful people could ever have separated, and once he varied this bysaying he couldn't understand how she could ever have let Paul go.

"But I didn't let him go," she answered. "He let me go."

"Oh," Greg exclaimed and was then silent, as if her reply had led him toan entirely new train of thought.

Sometimes during the lunch recess she and Paul would sit in her dressingroom with sandwiches and coffee, and this was really the quietest timethey ever had together, certainly the most intimate. There were fewplaces more peaceful than a studio sound stage during this hour-longinterval; the big lights were out, technicians and actors had all leftthe job, soundproof doors were closed; the huge building, with its highroof, dark interior and mysterious shapes of equipment and scenery hadthe air of a cathedral dedicated to some new and strange religion. Paulwas human enough then to fall asleep, or smoke his big cigars, or talkof anything that came into his head, or even rehearse somethingprivately with her if he wanted. And she in turn would hear hiscomplaints, give him advice, and sometimes coax him into a more amenableattitude for the afternoon. "Paul," she kept saying till it was almost arefrain, "do remember what a chance you have. I know you aren'tgetting all your own way, but you're getting a lot, and if this turnsout a good picture you'll be able to ask for much more. Do makecompromises. You're so good, Paul, you'll have all you want if you'llonly play your cards properly now."

He would often talk to her, in staccato and seemingly unrelatedsnatches, about his experiences in Europe, though there was one periodhe rarely mentioned, even inferentially--and that was his three years inthe internment camp. Like certain other parts of his life it was clearlydestined for obliteration in his memory--the final anathema that his egopronounced on hostile eventfulness. What he did remember, constantly,were incidents in earlier films of his that illustrated some point inMorning Journey. As he progressed further with the picture andrevamped more of it to suit himself, it naturally rose in his estimationtill he began to feel about it almost as he had done about a new playbefore opening night--that it was a masterpiece. Almost--but notquite, for the different conditions of picturemaking involved so manyother persons over whom he had no control and whom therefore he couldnot exalt by such comprehensive praise.

A specific scene in Morning Journey called for Carey to show by herexpression the horror of discovering hate in the eyes of someone she hadthought loved her--a difficult emotion, and Paul had rehearsed the sceneseveral times without being completely satisfied. During the lunch hourthat day he told her of a scene in one of his German pictures in whichthe situation was as follows. A wife had been having an affair with amuch younger man who was already tiring of it. At the crisis of a bitterquarrel, the woman turned a revolver on herself; the youth managed towrest it from her and the quarrel then continued more hotly than ever.At a second crisis he became so incensed that, still holding the woman'srevolver, he pointed it at her and pulled the trigger. There was noreport and the woman's eyes conveyed what had happened. She had known,but he had not, that the weapon was unloaded. She had been merelyputting on an act to impress him, but he had been actually ready tokill her.

"I didn't speak much German in those days," Paul added, "and when Irehearsed the scene I told the actors to say anything they wanted tomake it sound like a quarrel. Later on we had a writer, but I never evenbothered to have his lines translated for me. It was the woman'sexpression I was aiming for--the awful awareness in it. I got what Iwanted too, because she was Wanda Hessely and Wanda could do anything.Remember her? You met her at Interlaken that time."

"Yes, but I'm not as good an actress, you said."

"That's so. But you're good enough."

"And her scene was easier."

"No--just as hard."

"Anything's easier with guns and things to play with."

"Try it then."

"Our scene?"

"No--the one she did. I'll play the man. This is your gun." He picked upthe metal tube that had contained one of his big cigars. "Ad-lib thedialogue--anything.... Let's go.... Why not? Can't do any harm."

They went through the scene after a fashion, but Carey was less adept atimprovising dialogue than Paul, and it struck her amidst her owndifficulty that in adlibbing a quarrel he was very much on his homeground. The whole experiment was not very satisfactory and they ended bylaughing. "Maybe it's helped, though," Paul said.

"By the way," she asked, "what happened to Wanda Hessely?"

He shrugged. "There was a rumor she was killed in one of the Berlin airraids."

"Oh dear, I hope not."

He exclaimed sharply: "You what? You hope not? You dare to hope that outof all the millions of innocent people slaughtered during those horribleyears she should have been spared--just because you happened to meether once? What sublime egotism!"

The remark was so startlingly outrageous that she would have flared upbut for the look she caught in time--the look that told her, out of longexperience, that he had spoken thus to conceal some deep feeling of hisown. He had always been like that, and only for a short time, just aftertheir marriage, had she been able to free him a little. It was the morecurious because in his work he was superbly free; without sentimentalityor shrinking he could examine and expose the tenderest emotions. But offduty, so to say, certain rigidities clamped down, engendering even aperverse desire to appear callous, so that it was often at such momentsthat he said things that were most remembered against him.

She said, as to a child: "Don't be silly, Paul."

* * *

One evening, on impulse, she visited a doctor--not a fashionable one, ora specialist of any kind--just a local man whose office she had noticednear her apartment. She had begun to feel a peculiar tiredness lately,to which broken sleep had doubtless added. The doctor listened to hervague description of symptoms, examined her heart, and asked what wasmaking her so nervous. She said she didn't know. He then fumbled a fewquestions that would soon have led to an intimate discussion of herpersonal affairs, but she discouraged him and he ended by telling hershe had a slight heart condition, nothing serious provided she avoidedoverwork and, above all things, did not worry. He advised a vacation ifshe could take one and she promised she would, very soon. She thankedhim then, paid his fee, and felt both relieved and somehow much older asshe left his office.

She told Paul of her visit the next morning. Rather to her surprise hetook the matter anxiously and was extremely solicitous. "Oh my God,Carey--we'll have to look after you, won't we? Less work from nowon--I'll watch it--to hell with their schedule--we're ahead of time,anyhow. No shooting after five o'clock--I'll make that a rule."

"It isn't so much the work, Paul," she ventured to remonstrate. "It'strying to pacify everybody you quarrel with, and having to talk Randolphinto a good humor, and being nice to newspaper people after you've madeenemies of them all... if only you'd spare me some of that."

"I will," he promised abjectly. "I know I'm to blame in a lot of things.And we just can't have you getting ill. I know what illness is--I'm nota completely well man myself." She smiled at that, remembering thatwhenever anyone else had ever mentioned the slightest ailment of anykind Paul had always been able to match it with some private andhitherto undisclosed martyrdom of his own. But now he said, so calmlythat she felt he might be speaking the truth: "One or two thingshappened in that camp I was in--shocking things that I wouldn't evertell anyone about. They made me ill and I started getting headaches.Migraine. They don't come so often now, except when I have fights."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Then that's another reason why you shouldn't havefights."

"Yes, yes." He clapped his hand dramatically to his head. "I must takecare. I know I must."

She said, continuing to smile: "Looks as it we're both getting to be acouple of old crocks."

"What? Oh, nonsense!"

"I was only joking. My trouble isn't serious at all, I'm glad to say.The doctor assured me I'd be all right if I take care. Try to get alittle rest in the afternoons, he said. I do, don't I--in between scenesand rehearsals? And don't let household worries weigh on you. Well, Ihaven't any, that's one blessing.... As he took me to the door hesaid, 'You know. Mrs. Bond, your face reminds me of someone.' I thoughthe was going to say 'Carey Arundel' and I got all prepared to begracious; but he went on, 'A girl who was a hostess on UnitedAirlines--were you ever one, by any chance?' I told him no, and helooked quite sad."

"He did?" Paul exclaimed with abrupt and cheerful interest. "What sortof a man was he?... No, don't tell me--I've got a concept of him inmy mind already--middle-aged, quiet, hard worker, faithful husband,respectable citizen... but all the time he's carried a vision of agirl he once saw in a plane.... He never spoke to her--just watchedas she walked about serving meals and checking seat belts... a shorttrip, say Dallas to El Paso--two hours out of a whole lifetime. He fellin love with her then, if he'd realized it, but he didn't, he was shy,he didn't know his own mind enough to follow it, he wasn't the type tosay 'Hello, sweetheart' and ask for a date, he didn't even remember hername afterwards... but as the years go by he can't forget her; shebecomes a symbol of the unattainable, the pluperfectsubjunctive--sometimes he sees people--strangers, new patients--whoremind him of her, or he thinks they do.... One of these days he'sgoing to leave his home, his wife, his patients--everything--and searchthe world for that girl.... Ah, that could be a picture. Carey. Notjunk like Morning Journey."

She laughed at the suddenness with which Mourning Journey had ceasedto be a near-masterpiece; she laughed at his improvisation and at hisown mounting enthusiasm for it; she laughed at his growing use of slangand epithets, to which he gave a peculiar emphasis, as of a foreignerwaiting to be commended for having picked them up. And she laughed,finally, because in the mood she was in she felt hysterically relievedby doing so.

She said: "Magnificent, Paul. But he's not middle-aged, he's quiteyoung, and he's not married--he told me that--and I think he was justmaking conversation to get me out of his office."

The crew and actors were beginning to drift in for the afternoonsession. As at the pulling of a mental switch Paul returned to duty andMorning Journey rose again in his favor.

He often improvised like that--the slightest cue could send him off intothe synopsis of an imagined picture. Once Greg said seriously: "Paul,why don't you get that down in writing and send it up to the frontoffice? It's so damned good you ought to be able to sell it."

"Sell it?" Paul exclaimed, incredulously. "Why should I sell it? It'smine."

* * *

He made more trouble (it seemed he couldn't help it, despite all hispromises); yet Carey had never admired him so much as during thoselatter days of making Morning Journey. There was something exquisitein his care for detail, especially when one thought of the mass audienceto whom minutiae would not count, even if they were observed; he kneweverybody's business, much to their dismay at times--he seemed to be anexpert on everything for which special experts had already beenprovided. Randolph barely tolerated him, visiting the set more rarely asthe picture neared its end, evidently feeling that bad or good, the diewas sufficiently cast. Two things should have made Paul popular with theauthorities--the fewness of his takes and the fact that he was bringingin the picture several days under schedule; but Paul had an unrivaledcapacity for sacrificing credit even where it was due, and Randolph,whose own direction had always been of the laborious sort, found itimpossible to believe that so many printed first takes could show goodjudgment. To him Paul was possibly a genius, but certainly the kind ofemployee one could not handle: and as the somewhat peculiar packaging ofCarey and Paul together in the contract had not been his responsibility,his real hope was that the picture should fail gently enough for thestudio to try Carey in another picture and get rid of Paul altogether.Perhaps he, Randolph, might even direct her himself in the nextpicture--it would be exciting to get on the floor again. He liked Carey.She was a bit old for stardom--no older, though, than Madeleine Carrolland almost as beautiful; she had that indefinable thing called "class,"and with co-stars like Greg Wilson there was no reason why MajesticPictures should not use her a good deal. But for less money, if MorningJourney failed. Her agent, of course, would hold out for the same,would keep on reminding everyone she was married to a millionaire, butmaybe that wouldn't be true much longer if the rumors one heard werecorrect. Randolph turned it all over in his mind many times as he sat athis desk after seeing the daily rushes. He and Paul did not see them atthe same time now, and Carey and Greg did not now see them at all. Thatwas Paul's doing too--he had reverted to an old idea of his thatwatching themselves in the previous day's scenes was bad for actors.What puzzled Randolph was how Paul could have forced such a ruling onGreg. All Greg had to say was "You go to hell, Saffron, I'm seeing therushes just as I've always seen 'em"--but for some reason Greg did notsay it. That was disturbing, too, when Randolph thought it over.

* * *

The peculiarity of this film environment was that one could live in alarge American city week after week without feeling intimate with it,without even feeling that it was part of America. The apartment Careyhad was of standardized luxury, the restaurants she patronized cateredto people like herself, the morning and evening travel in the studiolimousine was through streets that all looked the same, with the samestores and billboards, the same shadow and sunshine. Even the ocean wassomehow disappointing as an ocean. But she loved the mountains twenty orthirty miles away, and solely to drive to them whenever she had a fewhours to spare she rented a rather smart convertible.

The studio was the real world--or rather, an unreal world which sheexplored sometimes with Paul when there were outdoor scenes on the backlot and she could make him take a walk during the lunch hour. The mazeof streets and alleys there, where one could step from brownstone NewYork to Elizabethan England in a few seconds, the stranded Pullman onthe two-hundred-yard track, the small-town main street with itsfalse-fronted store buildings--all this was fascinating, a symbol (Paulsaid) of a world in which emotions themselves were false-fronted ("Tellme any picture Majestic ever made that wasn't"), and in which thesymbols of life became substitutes for life itself. "Here on this backlot," Paul said one day, improvising himself into a tourist guide, "areall the signposts of our civilization, from the little red schoolhousewhere you learn to the prison deathhouse where you burn...." He wenton in this fashion, considerably enjoying himself, but she was hardlylistening; her mind was preoccupied with a letter she had received fromNorris that morning, for he had mentioned it quite casually that he wasgetting bored in New York and had thought of coming out to see her, andalso to meet Paul. Ordinarily there would have been nothing especiallydisturbing about this, yet it did disturb her, because she knew thatPaul and Norris would not get along, and that an extra burden ofpeacemaking would fall upon her. Frankly, with so much else to do, shecould not endure the thought of it. As Paul went on talking she couldhear in her mind Norris answering him back and the whole argument thatwould follow. It would be impossible--that on top of everything else.

Within an hour, during an interval between scenes, she scribbled a notefrom her dressing room:

...Darling, don't think me inhospitable or that I wouldn't love to see you, but I really don't think you ought to come out here just now, it wouldn't be worth your while, I assure you, because I'm busy all day and have to learn lines in the evening for the next day--this job is really work, though you mightn't think so from all the glamorous stuff you read in the magazines. Please don't come, therefore--if you did you'd be at a completely loose end most of the time, and I can tell you this is a dull city to wander about on your own. I doubt if I could even get permission for you to visit the picture set--the rules are very strict against anyone who hasn't a business reason. As for Paul, he hasn't time for anybody, and as always when he's directing he's inclined to be bad-tempered with strangers. I'd hate you to get a wrong impression of him (for he can be very charming at other times), but I'm afraid you would if you met him nowadays. Perhaps later on, sometime, when the job's finished and we can all relax. I'm glad to report that the picture itself is going pretty well--as soon as they ship a print to New York I'll try to arrange for you to see it in advance in a projection room....

Norris sent no immediate answer to this, and for several weeks she wasin constant apprehension that every ring from the lobby would announcehis arrival.

Then one morning another of his letters came--from Rio de Janeiro.

...the first few legs of a trip that will end up when and where I don't exactly know, maybe the bank that Father is so keen on shoving me in. You remember I once said that he devoted himself to his job--I can see now it's the right word for something that does have a faintly religious air about it. Everywhere that we've stopped, so far--Havana, Mexico City, Caracas--there've been exalted personages meeting us at airports, sometimes even in morning coats and top hats--it's been a revelation to me what a big shot he is, or must have been during the war, though I still can't quite fathom what his job was--something to do with government loans and currency, of course, but that doesn't give away much, and nor does he. But it's rather fascinating to get an impression of his importance from the way he moves around and meets people--it reminds me a bit of the Acts of the Apostles--you know, confirming the churches. And he does also move in a mysterious way--Father, I mean. Perhaps he's right, after all, and the bank wouldn't be a bad solution for me--at least for the time being. Oh God, I don't know--what do you think I ought to do? He thinks I've given up the medical school idea and perhaps I have--it's hard, out here, to face the kind of opposition I know he'd put up. This must be all for now, there's a business conference going on in the next room, so it's a chance for me to write. Incidentally, Richards is with us, as a sort of valet and general what-not. We stay here a week or two, then go on to Montevideo, Uruguay, the Hotel Bolivar....

That evening she wrote to both of them, yet there was nothing particularshe felt she could say, partly because she suspected Richards mightintercept her letters. She therefore assembled another installment ofthe chatter she had been sending all along, and to which Austen had notreplied by a single line. His mysterious way. The phrase stuck in hermind unhappily, not so much for its wry meaning, as because of herdistress that Norris should have been in a mood to employ it. It seemedto signify a return to the cynicism of his boyhood, but now withoutboyhood as an excuse.

During those days she was immensely glad she had work, and that Paulcould magnetize her to it so exhaustingly. The picture was making goodprogress and even he seemed satisfied, though the deferred problem ofthe cutting loomed larger on his mind as the job approached completion.One lunchtime, after a morning off, she arrived at the studio to findhim stretched out full length on the couch of her dressing room, eyesclosed and a cigar in his hand, declaiming in a way which she took atfirst to be a speech from some newly minted dialogue but which, after afew sentences, she knew could not be that; it sounded more like animpassioned address to the stockholders of Majestic PicturesIncorporated, imploring them to unseat the existing board and replacethem with men who would have greater consideration for art and artists.Actually, as Paul explained readily enough when she broke in on hisoration: "I was just getting my thoughts together. We're going to have afight, you know, about the cutting. I'll try not to drag you into it."

"I'll try not to be dragged in, but I know I will be."

"If it's cut properly it's a good picture. Not great, but good."

"Let's hope it's a success too."

He went on smoking. "Oh, by the way, how's your heart?"

"Not so bad. It'll be all right if I don't work too hard."

"You had nothing to do all this morning."

"Yes, I had one whole morning--wasn't that wonderful? What happenedwhile I was away?"

"Writers on the warpath again. You'd think those fellows had written theBible."

"What was the trouble this time?"

"The same sort of thing. I couldn't use any of their barbershop stuff."

She knew the scene--it came earlier in the picture than the one in thewoodcutter's cottage, though later in the shooting schedule.... Greg,alone, is forced during this stage of his escape to pass through a townby daylight; he knows he is being hunted and that the hunters mayalready have picked up the scent. As he hurries through the streets hehas a sudden impulse to throw off any possible pursuer by disappearinginto a shop, and the one that seems most suitable is a barbershop, wherehe will have an excuse to stay some time. He has a day's growth of beardand knows the language well enough to ask for a shave. While he is beinglathered he sees (through a big mirror) that someone is entering theshop and scanning the faces of customers. This man, Greg feels sure, islooking for him. He figures that his only chance is to do something thatwill eliminate him from suspicion; and this, in the circumstances, is todo something that will immediately focus attention on him. So with amuttered "Excuse me a moment" to the barber, and with his face stilllathered, he gets up from the chair, walks right past his pursuer tothe rack on which he has hung his overcoat, takes a handkerchief fromits pocket, gives his nose a startling blast, and returns to the chair.The pursuer observes him, but (as was intended) automatically puts himout of mind, for surely a man on the run would not deliberately andneedlessly draw attention to himself? (Such reasoning being unconsciousand therefore all the more reliable, according to Paul.) Aftercompleting his scrutiny of others in the shop, the pursuer leaves andthe lathered man smiles gently as he submits to the razor.

Once again a scene practically without dialogue, and once againdifferent from the pages of the script. In these the pursuer hadrecognized Greg and there had been a melee with shots fired and mirrorsbroken; Greg had eventually managed to escape through a back door. If,therefore, Paul's scene could have been called over-subtle, the one itreplaced had no subtlety at all. But it would have played well enough,and the original dialogue between Greg and the pursuer had been of thetried-and-true variety: "Put em up or I'll shoot"--"You think you've gotme, do you? Stand back, you----" etc., etc.

The writers had urged on Randolph that Paul's scene, both as to incidentand motivation, would not be understood by an average audience, andRandolph (miffed because once again a vital change had been made at thelast moment without consulting him) had agreed with them.

"And what's going to happen?" Carey asked.

"Who cares any more about that?" Paul began to chuckle. "It's happened.I shot the scene my way."

"Oh dear, you're very obstinate."

"Obstinate? Me? After all my compromises?"

"Paul, do you know what the word compromise means?"

"Sure--it's what I'm doing now by working on a picture like this at all.The only thing it can be, at best, is a bag of tricks. Well, that's allright--I don't expect them to let me produce a work of art. But if it'sgoing to be a bag of tricks, for God's sake let the tricks be trickyenough. And that's what really beats me, Carey: here's this business oftelling stories by means of tiny photographs--it's just about fiftyyears old, fifty out of the thousands since people began telling storiesat all; yet already there are factory rules laid down--mustn't do this,mustn't do that.... And you call me obstinate because I dare toanswer: Try it! See if an audience is as dumb as you think! There theyare--the groundlings--all crunching popcorn just like Shakespeare'scrowd at the Globe if there'd been popcorn in those days; all you haveto do is to give them a Twelfth Night--it doesn't have to be aHamlet every time!"

"I'd like to see you shooting Hamlet, Paul--you'd cut half the lines."

"So would Shakespeare if he'd had a camera to play with."

"You must admit, though, you do seem to have a special grudge againstdialogue."

"No, not a grudge at all--only a realization of what films have done intheir first fifty years. They've broken the bottlenecks of words thatwe've all endured for centuries--they've challenged the scholars andgrammarians who built their little private fences roundenlightenment--they've freed us from the thraldom of Gutenberg!...You've heard some of the old jokes about producers out here who'resupposed to be illiterate? Too bad the breed seems to be dying out--Ithink I could have got along with one of them better than with Randolph.Because that fellow reads. God, how he reads. He and his wife, whenthey get hold of what they think is a good book, d'you know what theydo? They read to each other aloud. From chair to chair and bed tobed--a chapter apiece every evening! He told me... and with astraight face!"

Paul's guffaws lasted for some time, and Carey laughed more moderately,reflecting that for all his tirade against books and Gutenberg, therecould be few people on earth who had read more. During the periods ofhis life when he had been out of a job he had borrowed five or six booksa day from public libraries, and when he had been earning money he hadusually come home with purchased books under his arm. He had probablyspent more time in Brentano's than in all other New York shops puttogether. And she had rarely heard anyone mention a play or a playwrightor an episode of theatrical or dramatic history that he did not seem toknow plenty about. It was true he was not a scholar in the pedagogicsense, but his range was wider--he had an artist's acquaintance with allthe arts, plus a technician's familiarity with all the theatrical arts,plus an immense if disordered store of general knowledge. He wouldprobably have been a great success on Information Please.... But ofcourse the way he digested books was photographic; he could acquire thesense of pages without taking words consecutively, and the notion of hisever reading aloud a whole chapter of anything or wishing her to readhim one, was certainly comic. Sometimes, when she had been driving thecar in those old days, she had asked him to read her the headlines inthe paper, but before he was through a couple of them he had usuallylaunched into comments or fulminations that had made her exclaim:"Darling, will you please read me what it says and leave what you thinkabout it till afterwards."

Pleasant, in a way, to remember these things now, while his guffawscontinued.

* * *

The barbershop scene was cut, entirely; a conclave of studio executivesdecided after seeing the rushes that it simply did not "come off." As itwas only an episode in the chase, the cut did not spoil the finishedpicture. To Paul, however, it might have been his own lifeblood that hadbeen arbitrarily drained away, and since he blamed the writers for it helooked for an early chance to get his own back. It came when one ofthem, a quiet studious-looking youth named Mitchell who had said littleduring story conferences and had always seemed anxious that his morevoluble partner should act as spokesman, chanced to visit the set onsome personal business that had nothing to do with Paul. But Paulspotted him and drew him into a conversation that began quietly enough;soon, however, the youth was the center of a group with Paul baiting himgleefully. When Carey came up, hearing a commotion, she was in time tocatch Paul at his familiar game of repeating before a larger audiencesomething he had originally tried out before her. "Of course you writersdon't really like motion pictures--how could you? Pictures have brokenthe bottleneck of words that's been your mainstay for centuries--they'vefreed the world from the thraldom of Gutenberg! In one silent shot I cantell more of a story than you could set down in a whole chapter!"

"Yes, but to create a character, Mr. Saffron----" Mitchell began infeeble protest.

"All right," Paul snapped. "Create your character--write your pages ofdialogue to make your audience feel the way you want about him. Let'ssay he's the heavy--the worst villain you can invent--liar, crook,murderer--Simon Legree and Dracula rolled into one--take fifty pages toput your readers in a fine lather of hate. Then call me in with mycamera and I'll undo it all in ten seconds. And you know how?"

Mitchell stammered that he didn't know how, but Paul was going to tellhim anyway. "All I need is a little lame dog dodging traffic at acrossroads. Your villain comes along, picks him up, carries him over,sets him down again. Ten seconds. Not a word spoken. And the audienceloves the guy forever. Do you doubt it?"

"No," Mitchell admitted, amidst the laughter. Then remarkably he seemedto acquire stature, shaking off the nervousness that had made him tillthen a rather ineffectual figure. He went on, gathering power as fromsome unsuspected source: "I don't doubt it at all, Mr. Saffron. It'salways quicker to raise a prejudice than plant an opinion. That's partof what's wrong with the world today. You talk about the thraldom ofGutenberg, but it was under that thraldom that men learned to think.Today thinking's out of style, it's high-brow or long-hair or whateversmear you have for it, you've learned to by-pass the brain and shoot forthe blood pressure--all your stuff is really for the twelve-year-old!"

"All my stuff?" Paul managed to interrupt. "How much of it have youseen? Did you ever see Erste Freundschaft?"

"Yes. Made in Germany in 1931, wasn't it? A work of genius. Doneanything half as good since?"

Carey thought this was too impertinent, even from one who had hadprovocation; she was taking Paul's arm to drag him away when he shookhimself free and shouted, turning on Mitchell again: "I'll answer you.The best thing I ever did in my life was in Paris in 1939--a picturebased on the Book of Job--it was unfinished when the Germans invaded andI spent four years in a prison camp because I wouldn't leave it--in theend it was mauled and butchered and ruined by others.... My bestwork--a supreme work--and the God-damned French won't even let me overthere now to salvage the cuts! And when I fought and protested--fromover here--what help do you suppose I got from writers? I contacted thebig names--put my case to them--appealed to them as fellowartists--fellow artists, forsooth----"

"Paul," Carey interposed, knowing from experience that "forsooth" wasalways a danger-word in his vocabulary. "Paul, don't you think... Thescene's ready.... Everybody's waiting.... Mr. Mitchell, let Paultell you about it later...."

Paul never did; he avoided Mitchell from then on, but when later in theday, still brooding over the incident, he had to talk to Randolph hetook occasion to ask abruptly: "By the way, that fellow Mitchell...who the devil is he? Is he anybody? Somebody?"

"Mitchell? You mean the writer? Why no, he's--he's just a writer.Reminds me, his option comes up next week. Think we ought to let himgo?"

Paul was about to take a clinching revenge when his mind somersaulted tothe nobler battlefield just in time. He answered insolently: "Sure, itmight be the making of him. He's one of the few intelligent people I'vemet out here."

"I think we'll keep him," Randolph replied coldly.

* * *

But there was another incident that really caused most trouble of all.It concerned an extra scene that Paul flatly refused to have, eventhough it was he who had first suggested it. The sequence called for aGerman agent in New York to convey news of wartime ship sailings tooffshore submarines (just another item in the bag of tricks that hadmade Paul dislike the whole story when he had read the original script);and Paul had been seized with his own special idea late in the afternoonof the day before the scheduled shooting. As the scene was written, asinister-looking person worked a radio transmitting set on what appearedto be a waterfront rooftop; but Paul's inspiration was that the Germanagent should send signals by having secret operatives among the janitorsof a skyscraper, so that the apparently random arrangement of lightedwindows after office hours could spell out messages in code. The notionintoxicated Paul as he improvised it quite sensationally on theset--"high columns of illuminated print in celestial newspapers" was hisdescription of the New York sky line at dusk; and as usual he managed tocommunicate a rare excitement to others, so that Greg was soon inRandolph's office pleading for the somewhat radical and expensivelast-minute change. But Randolph, on this occasion, needed nopersuading. For the first time he displayed full approval of somethingthat had emanated from Paul's brain, and by morning his approval hadsoared to enthusiasm. Unfortunately by that time also Paul had begun todiscover flaws in his own idea. Surely enemy submarines could notapproach near enough to see the high buildings, and wouldn't it befantastically difficult to plant a special set of janitor spies in oneof them? These and other objections Randolph stoutly discounted, and theargument that ensued was an ironic reversal of the usual.

"But it was your own idea," Randolph was driven to exclaim, in utmostbafflement.

"That gives me a special right to throw it out," Paul retorted. Thewrangle wasted an entire morning (and therefore several thousand ofMajestic's dollars), and in the end the producer's only comfort was thathe could probably use the skyscraper idea in some other picture. Whichhe did, in due course, and it is fair to add that nobody found muchamiss with it.

* * *

Since the scenes had not been shot in consecutive order, it seemed thatthe whole job ended suddenly, almost unexpectedly. One day the scenebeing done was the last, and there followed a party on the stage duringwhich Paul could think of nothing but the impending battle aboutcutting. This lasted for a week, and after the dust had settled itlooked as if he had got rather more than half of everything he wanted.But from his attitude one would have thought him abjectly defeated. Hesulked and gloomed and then acquired one of those migraine headaches.There was no doubt of its reality. In the small office which had beenassigned him Carey found him slumped in a swivel chair, gray-pale, withbloodshot eyes and icy hands. She called a doctor over his vividprotests; whereupon he diagnosed his own case as if he were dictating anew scene. The doctor, somewhat intimidated, agreed that probably itwas a migraine headache. He added, however, that a checkup might be agood thing, since Paul looked as if he had high blood pressure too. Paulagreed to call at the doctor's office the next day, and then, as soon ashe had gone, assured Carey he had no intention of doing any such thing."I'm all right," he said "if only those bastards would let me do my jobwithout interfering."

Carey then broke down. She saw this man, gray and worn and looking olderthan she had ever known him; she saw in him something worth everythingand worth nothing, something singularly great and appallingly littleand, in the deepest sense of all, pathetically helpless. She cried: "OhPaul, Paul, what can I do with you? Can't you help yourself? Darling, isthere no chance for you at all?"

"A couple of old crocks," he muttered whimsically, touching her hand."Isn't that what you said we were? But we aren't. You're young, and I...Well, I've still got that picture about children to do. You know my ideafor it? The camera itself will be a child. And as the picture developsand the child grows up..."

But somebody came in just then with a message from Randolph andafterwards, when she tried to get him back to the subject, he would onlyshake his head mysteriously. "Ah, I said enough. Wait till I do thething. I will--one day."

But the mere reminder of it seemed to have cured his headache; and alittle later, apparently rejuvenated, he was ready for a final battlewith Randolph.

This was about billing. He wanted Carey's name to be given prominenceequal to Greg's, an absurd demand--first, because matters of that kindwere none of his business, and second, because the Wilson name at thebox-office meant so much more than hers. To her surprise Greg backed himon the issue, and she ascribed this at first to a charming thoughmistaken chivalry; but later she wondered if it were merely an extremeexample of Paul's influence over Greg. Randolph, who clearly consideredher the only one with any sense, detained her afterwards for a fewcompliments. "You've been very co-operative, Carey. I do want to thankyou and to say I hope we'll be working together again." He could notcommit the studio, of course; it all depended on how Morning Journeyturned out; but there was no harm in paving the way.

She was noncommittal also in her reply.

He went on: "As for Greg, I don't think I fully understand him thesedays. He used to fight for top billing. What's the matter with him...is he in love with that guy?"

Carey smiled. "Paul's apt to do that to people."

"To men?"

"Sometimes. You're all for him or else you're all against him."

"Well, I'm neither," Randolph said, untruthfully. "And that applies toyou too, I should think."

"I know him," she answered, with scorn or pride, whichever he decidedit was.

* * *

After the last day's shooting there came the anticlimax to which therewas no parallel in the theater, where rehearsals mount in a crescendo oftension, culminating in opening night and followed by either levelactivity or quick extinction. But movie-making offers a unique period ofwaiting while all the sub-assembly lines catch up--printing,distribution, publicity; and the nearest to opening night excitementthat can happen at all is the sneak preview. Nearest, but still distant.

One rainy evening Carey drove out with Paul, Randolph, Greg, and severalhigh personages from various studio departments--a convoy of limousinestraversing interminable boulevards to converge eventually on a ratherordinary cinema in what seemed a less than ordinary suburb. Unannouncedand unheralded, Morning Journey was there to be submitted to theverdict of an audience that had come to see something else. Thedistinguished visitors to whom it all mattered so much sat in aroped-off row at the back of the theater, just behind the folks to whomit all mattered so little. There was the end of another picture to beendured, then a Mickey Mouse cartoon and a newsreel; finally, withoutany fanfare, Morning Journey began. The audience was small because ofthe weather, and Carey, unused to half-empty theaters, thought there wasonly tepid enthusiasm, but she was aware that the picture itself boredher by now, and that the popcorn noises were standard procedure and didnot in any way reflect either the patrons' visual enjoyment or lack ofit. She was next to Paul, who kept cursing the music, which had beencomposed and arranged without his approval. Due to his unfortunate tiffwith the musicians this was actually the first time he had heard most ofit, and he disliked it intensely.

There was, however, some scattered applause at the end of the picture,which was also the end of the show. Greg had left a minute before thecurtain, anxious to reach the manager's office before anyone spotted himfor autographs; the others, unlikely to be so bothered, stayed in theirseats while the audience filtered out. Then they joined Greg in the tinyoffice, waiting for the cards on which each patron had been invited tosay whether he thought Morning Journey was Excellent, Good, oronly Fair. There was also a space for Remarks. (The possibility thatany Majestic picture might be downright Bad had been ignored.) Abouttwo hundred cards, duly filled in and collected by the ushers, werepresently handed to Randolph by the theater manager, a hard-bitten andpresumably unprejudiced fellow who said he had liked the picture himselfand thought his people had liked it too, but he couldn't be sure--theywere a tough bunch. Carey wondered why Randolph had chosen a toughbunch. Anyhow, the visitors were soon back in the cars, swishing throughthe endless unknown streets and across flooded intersections. Nobodytalked much and everyone was glad to be dropped at his front door."We'll meet again tomorrow," Randolph announced. Carey also wondered whyhe didn't look at the cards during the drive; she decided he wasenjoying peculiar power in a peculiar way.

It was still raining in the morning when the same group reassembled inRandolph's office, the cards having by this time been sorted and placedin three heaps on his huge glass-topped desk. His pleasure in delayingthe outcome had become definitely sadistic; one heap was much largerthan the others, but his encircling arms as he leaned forward preventedcloser observation. Paul was the only one who, not having come to pray,was able to scoff. "Our tribute to democracy," he muttered, staring atthe cards as at the trappings of some dubious religion. "He must haveliked them because He made so many of them. A non sequitur if everthere was one. What about fleas, hookworms, boll weevils?" Nobodyanswered.

At last Randolph spoke, smiling rather coldly as he referred to figureson his desk. "This is what you're all waiting for, no doubt. Out of 215cards we have 133 Excellents and 61 Goods. I think we can regard that assatisfactory--as far as it goes. Of course we can't predict what thecritics will say, or the big exhibitors.... Would anyone like awhisky and soda so early in the morning?"

Put this way, the invitation drew no affirmative except from Paul, whosaid: "Sure. Why not?" So Randolph was forced to go to the smallrefrigerator concealed within an imitation bookcase whose false-frontedbooks were sets of Dickens and Thackeray. Everybody all at once began tosmile and chatter--again except Paul, who glowered over his cigar as hewatched Randolph's reluctant hospitality.

Nobody looked at the cards, save at a few that had been put aside onaccount of some obscenity. These Randolph handed round for laughs. Therewere always two or three out of every batch. But here yet again Paul wasthe exception. He did not laugh. Indeed, he was rather prim aboutcertain things--much more so than Carey, who could enjoy most jokes thatmost people found amusing.

* * *

After the sneak preview Randolph decided to shorten the picture by tenminutes' playing time to suit the requirements of double-featureexhibitors. Paul protested, but not so energetically as might have beenexpected; he was going through his own anticlimactic period--the mood inwhich, after a job was clone, he found it hard to take continuedinterest in it. Already, from certain hints he let fall, his mind wasbeginning to revolve on other ideas. It was during this period also thatCarey gained an impression that Randolph would not be terriblydisappointed if the picture did not do too well. Not, of course, that hewould sabotage his own product, but there seemed a lack of zeal in hisproddings of the publicity department--a lack which must certainly havecommunicated itself. The fact was, he disliked Paul so much that hecould take real pleasure from the prospect of his downfall, while at thesame time he had an alibi for himself whatever happened, since it was onrecord that he had objected to the contract that had forced Paul intothe company's employment. And at the back of his mind there grewintoxicatingly the notion of a future picture with Carey in it which hehimself would direct. His real hope was that Morning Journey wouldturn out to be one of those half-and-half failure-successes in which hecould fix praise and blame just where he wanted each.

Carey could not enjoy her leisure during those further weeks of waiting.Unlike Paul, she was unable to generate new ideas to take the place ofold ones, and the absence of daily work only made more room for her ownprivate worries. She spoke of these to no one, not only because theywere so intimate, but because something centrally sane in her make-uptold her continually that she deserved no sympathy; by so manyreckonings she was fortunate. Surely there could be no doubt of it whenshe looked back on her life. Yet she felt, at times, acutely unlucky aswell as unhappy. She did not know what she wanted to do next, or whereshe wanted to go, and the fact that there were choices made the futureharder to contemplate. Perhaps she would stay where she was till thefate of the picture was decided, then take the trip she had vaguelypromised herself.

Another thing that few would have thought credible and for which sheblamed only herself was that she was often lonely. In a place full ofinteresting people she had so far been too busy to make friends, and theoccasional parties she went to were apt to be unrewarding; not dull, butsomehow devoid of a quality for which she could think of no single wordbut "merriment." It seemed to her that many of the interesting peoplewere also too busy to make friends, that many of the laughing peoplewere laughing too hard to make merry, and that many of the interesting,laughing, and busy people were also as lonely as herself. Sometimes,after such a party, she had a spiritual hangover that sent her drivingrandom miles in her rented car, as if to kill the memory of an eveningthat had been full of excitement yet fundamentally distraught. And evenif her personal mood were responsible for much that seemed amiss, therewere things to which she felt her own reaction was not subjective atall; the geographical heartlessness of the city, the miles of streetswhere nobody walked, the rigid charm of the professionally decoratedinteriors, the air of insecurity that was more sinister, somehow, thanthe perhaps greater insecurity of stage life.

One day she made the expedition she had often thought of, but hadhitherto avoided, partly from an unwillingness to be sentimental. Butnow she felt that sentiment was not the guiding motive, but rather adispassionate curiosity to see a once familiar place with a differenteye. She drove, therefore, to a certain street between Western andVermont. The houses looked much as she remembered them--a littleshabbier with age, and there were gaps in what had once been a carefulline of palm trees. The frame house she was looking for had beenrenumbered, but was otherwise unchanged--the same wide porch, and theswing door whose sound in banging she could still catch in the ear ofher mind. She drove round the block to see the house again, and as sherepassed, the swing door opened and a child emerged. His brown face wasso happy that she had an impulse to stop and talk to him, but hescampered into a neighbor's yard before she could think of an excuse.She then noticed other colored children playing near-by, and it seemedindeed that the whole district had undergone that kind of racial changethat real-estate people deplore; but to her, because of the child'sface, it was part of a deep content that came on her as she drove backto her apartment.

When she got there, decision had been added to this new mood. She wroteimmediately to Norris at the Hotel Bolivar, Montevideo, Uruguay:

Darling Norris: I'm writing this before I change my mind, before I feel scared about it. I'm so glad you're having an interesting trip, but there was something in your last letter--the one from Rio--that I didn't answer, I felt I couldn't at the time, but now I suddenly feel I can and must. You asked what I thought you should do about going into the bank as your father wants, and my answer is No--not yet, anyhow, till you're stronger and back at home and unless you then feel happy and aren't in the cynical mood that your letter showed. Well, there you are, darling--my advice--you asked for it. Don't give in--to anything or anybody. I wish I could offer my own life as a shining example, but you know it wouldn't be--and yet, in a sense, I haven't often let myself be pushed around too far, and when I have it's been my own choice as well as my own fault. And in case your father reads this (and why shouldn't you show it him? I'd like him to know my attitude--perhaps it might even influence him a little), I'll add the news that the picture is finished and I'm looking forward to seeing both of you again if he'll send me a line so that I can match my plans with his. Actually I haven't any particular plans--I don't want to make any till I know his and yours. I've missed you both very much but I'm not sorry I came out here for the picture--I think it's turned out the way I wanted it and you know what that is. Well, this seems about all, perhaps in some ways it's more than enough, but the fact is, I'm so used to covering pages with nothing but chitchat that I'd better send it off before I'm appalled at having had the nerve. But you'll forgive me, because you know how much I care for your happiness. My love, darling, as always--CAREY.

Without a rereading she air-mailed it from the box on the pavementoutside. Then she took her car and drove to the mountains, returningtowards dusk. The fact that the mailbox had been cleared by then gaveher the feeling of having made a decision which she did not regret, butwhose magnitude she might not yet have fully explored.

* * *

During this waiting period, before the film was released, she saw littleof Paul, but what she heard about him was characteristic. He had moneyin his pocket and was spending it, not exactly on luxuries, but with aneccentric abandon that was even more consuming--but of course that wouldnot matter if the picture were successful. And if it weren't, perhapsmoney would even then be the least of his problems.

She did not see much of Greg, either, though she heard that he and Paulhad been to San Francisco together and had later stayed at Greg's houseat Carmel. Apparently they were close friends and Greg's admiration forPaul had in no wise diminished. There was an interview in one of thefilm magazines in which Greg talked of him in terms so extravagant thatthe shrewd outsider's deduction would be that the picture must be badenough to need it rather than good enough to deserve it; and so indeedwere many deductions made, though not so shrewdly.

Of all the strangers she had met and talked to in this strange part ofthe world the one she liked most was a man who had nothing to do withpictures--a certain Professor Lingard who did not even look like aprofessor. He was an astronomer; about thirty, sandy-haired,pink-cheeked, angular, diffident, not really at home at the party towhich, for some obscure reason, he had been invited, yet enjoyinghimself from an angle schoolboyish enough to be charming. Carey foundherself next to him for supper; he talked about his work at anobservatory on a mountaintop and was interested because she had drivennear it and knew where it was. Apparently he lived there during part ofthe year, in a small cottage within walking distance of his job; he saidshe ought to drive up there some night and take a look through the bigtelescope. She told him she would like to. "Give me a ring first andI'll let you know if the sky's clear enough," he then said, and shewondered if this were an "out" because she had taken his invitation tooseriously.

Later in the evening he whispered to her: "I often wonder what it feelslike to be famous," and she was just about to answer modestly butfirst-personally when she realized that his glance was scanning theother guests and that he evidently didn't take her to be one of thefamous ones at all. That's what comes of being friendly to nice nobodiesat this kind of party, she thought; they assume you must be a nicenobody yourself.

"I don't know," she answered, glad to have spared both of themembarrassment. "Almost everybody here is a household word except me."

"Ah, but you will be soon," he said, "if you're in pictures." He spokecomfortingly, as to a junior who had tried several times for anexamination and failed. She was amused and also touched. There was notonly a winsome naïveté in his attitude, but a pleasure to her in findingsomeone who did not know her name, or if so, did not know it was aname--who had never heard of her recent role in Morning Journey (ashad everyone else in the room), but who treated her as if she were ayoung girl full of dreams and ambition.

She said: "I doubt it. I'm a bit old, you know, for a new career."

"But you are in pictures, aren't you?"

"I've just finished a part in my first one."

"Well, the main thing, I suppose, is to get a start. And you really arebeautiful."

"Oh, thanks." She even felt herself blushing.

"Do drive up sometime and look through the telescope."

She smiled and repeated her promise, satisfied now that he really meantit.

* * *

More weeks passed; the rainy season ended, the first hot spell of theyear wiped the freshness off the hills. The skies became tawny-gray, thesun shone as through muslin.

Suddenly two rumors got around, both from sources hard to define orinvestigate. First, that Carey was separating, or had separated, or wasabout to separate, from Austen Bond. Previous rumors that she was aboutto be "reconciled" with Paul had somehow ignored the existence of a Mr.Bond, and for that reason she had herself ignored them more easily; butnow, in gossip columns and on Sunday radio broadcasts, the stories,though untrue, had greater logic. She did not know whether to taketrouble to deny them or not; once a woman telephoned her and, afterreceiving a denial, made the tart rejoinder: "Okay, darling, but I writea column, so I hope you aren't just saying that on general principles."

Carey telephoned Paul and asked if he knew of the woman. "She called meup just now. Any idea who she is?"

Paul answered promptly: "Never heard of her." He was busy and soon hungup. But half an hour later he called back to say: "Carey, that woman youasked about--I asked Greg and it seems they're all scared of her outhere. So you'd better be careful."

"How do I be careful?"

"Oh, I don't know. Be what you like. What the hell does it matter?"

"Well, who is she? Why is she important?"

"Greg did tell me but I couldn't quite get the hang of it. She writes, Isuppose."

"I know she writes but why should they be scared of her?"

"They have scarable ulcers. Don't worry about her. The whole thing is afine pickle of nonsense."

The second rumor, a pleasanter one, was about Morning Journey. In somemysterious way people were already aware that it was good. Possibly ithad been run in private projection rooms before an élite; at any rate,the hint was in circulation that it was something to look for. Then camethe press preview in New York with the critics practically unanimous.All of them praised Carey, nearly all praised Paul's direction, mostprophesied a big hit, and one said that Greg Wilson had never suppliedsuch a plausible though still invalid excuse for calling himself anactor.

On the day these critiques were reprinted in the trade papers Careycould sense an almost barometric change in the local atmosphere. Shecould even believe that at her usual restaurant the smile of theheadwaiter had an extra obsequiousness. People came up to her table togush and congratulate. The next day an executive of another studio askedher to lunch, ostensibly to show her the New York clippings, actually tosound her out about her plans. "I understand you have no futurecommitment with Majestic," he remarked with overdone casualness.

"That's so, but I don't know yet whether I want to make another pictureat all. I must take a vacation first."

"Why yes, naturally." And reading her indecision as caginess he said:"Of course nobody knows how the public will react. Critics can't make orbreak a picture as they can a stage play."

"I know. Better wait and see how it goes."

Having blown cool, he must now blow warmer again. "Personally I enjoyedit immensely--and you were magnificent."

"I think the direction counted for most."

"Yes, very good, quite good.... How did Saffron get along with peopleduring the shooting--not too well, I heard?"

"Not too well, but well enough. He just did a wonderful job that'llprobably make somebody else a fortune."

"High praise, indeed...."

"And from an ex-wife," she said with a laugh, guessing that the fact wasalready or would be later known to him. She added: "Paul's so good inMorning Journey that one can imagine if he were given a free hand--afreer hand, anyway--he might be great."

"Sometimes when you give them too free a hand, these geniuses, they makea hell of a mess of things. I'd be satisfied if he stayed good."

"I think he'd rather wait for a job in which someone would trust himenough to let him be great."

"What are you--his agent too?"

More laughter. She couldn't be quite sure she was helping Paul byputting out feelers like this, but she had an impulse to do so. Then shesteered the conversation to more general matters and let her host domost of the talking. Just before taking her to the car he said: "Whereis Saffron, anyway--I was trying to get in touch with him this morningbut couldn't."

So that's it, she thought gleefully; they're already after him.

But she had to answer, in reply to his question: "I don't know."

* * *

Paul was on an Arizona ranch, with Greg; he returned after MorningJourney had opened at Radio City Music Hall and broken all records fora first week. Randolph, convinced now that his private dream of ahalf-success was hopeless, jumped on the band wagon with full force. Hewas especially pleased when the picture won the triple awards givenannually by the local newspaper critics--Carey, Greg, and Paul being therecipients. The awards were to be presented at a big dinner, and on themorning of the day Randolph could not help summoning the honored threeto the studio for compliments and a briefing. "Of course you'll all makespeeches after you get the plaques and somebody ought to bring in thatCalvin Beckford is seventy tomorrow." (Calvin Beckford was a localpolitician who would present the awards.) "Perhaps that would come bestfrom you, Carey. And if anybody should see fit to say something niceabout the studio it wouldn't do us--or them--one bit of harm." Hetittered self-consciously. "I'll be there, of course, but they don't askproducers to speak. Those newspaper boys seem to think we don't do anyof the real work.... Incidentally, Carey, I phoned your agent in NewYork--I wanted him to know how pleased we all are."

Paul had arrived at the office with Greg, but afterwards he drove backwith Carey. "Greg wanted to stay on and talk to Randolph," he said, asif the star's absence from their company were something that had to beexplained.

Carey, who could be away from Greg without feeling completely lost, satback in the car and looked at Paul. When she thought of Randolph'srecent compliments she did not know whether to feel happy or cynical,but for Paul's sake at least she was happy. She knew he enjoyedcompliments, even when he knew they were insincere, and from a man whohe knew hated him there was probably a special piquancy.

She said: "Well Paul, isn't it nice to be on top of the world?"

Paul seemed to have Greg still on his mind. "Greg's had too much of it.They put him in one picture after another--anything to exploit him. He'sgetting pretty sick of it all."

"I don't know what he has to be sick about. He gets five thousand a weekand he can't act."

"He's a good fellow, Carey--really he is."

"I know it, and I also think he's lucky."

"Because I directed him, you mean?"

"He was lucky before that."

"He wasn't bad in the picture."

"He wasn't as bad as usual."

"He told me he never believed he had it in him."

"I don't think he had. I think you performed an optical illusion."

"He certainly gives me all the credit."

"Why shouldn't he as long as he keeps the salary?"

"You're very waspish today, Carey."

"I'm just myself as I always am, only you haven't seen me lately--you'veforgotten what I'm really like."

"As if I could ever forget."

"Darling, that's sweet and probably true."

"All the same, though, I think you're a bit unfair to Greg."

"Greg? Are we still talking about him?"

How familiar it was, to be arguing with Paul again. She had not seen himfor weeks, they had said hello almost as strangers in Randolph's office,they were now by chance thrown together in the same car for a halfhour's drive, and already they were arguing--not quarreling, for theyhad never quarreled... just airing their minds in a private traditionof cut and thrust--he with some idea he was leaning towards, but wouldnot yet put into words; she sensing it already and poised to exert someuncharted maneuver of checks and balances. The strange thing was thatshe felt free with him, free even from her own troubles and problems.And the thought came to her: how absurd it was ever to use the word"reconcile" about the two of them. It was not in their power any moreeither to come closer or to move away.

She said, thinking of all this: "Anyhow, Paul, you've had your bigchance and it's certainly paid off. Can't you feel a bit joyful aboutit?"

"After the way Randolph botched the cutting?"

"Doesn't seem to have done much harm." (There were a few instances inwhich, from a commercial angle, she thought Randolph's cutting had donegood, but she would not invite the wrong sort of argument by saying so.)

"Harm? To whom? To what? The popcorn sales?"

"Oh come now, Paul, you can't talk like that. It's been a criticalsuccess too."

He sighed in a bemused way. "Ah, those critics. One of them said that inthe street scenes I'd caught the pulsebeat of the American rhythm. Thattickled me, not only because I don't know what the hell it means, butbecause there was once a critic in France who said I was so much in tunewith the Gallic spirit it was hard to believe I hadn't been born inParis. And in Germany when I made Berliner Tag they brought up myPennsylvania-Dutch ancestry to explain that miracle.... Allnonsense. People are people. Watch 'em anywhere and you'll see. Greatdiscovery. The Saffron touch--even in a cops-and-robbers epic."

"You know it isn't really as simple as that."

"Simple? Whoever said it was simple? To see life as it is, plain, notgift-wrapped--why, it's as hard as being note-perfect in theHammerklavier."

She tried to steer him back to her main point, which was that the chancehe had taken had come off abundantly, and that from now he would findhimself in demand on something like his own terms, if these were at allreasonable. She told him then about her lunch with the other producer."No need to rush things. Let Michaelson do most of the talking. Just sitback and realize that Morning Journey puts you in a market that'll goon rising for some time yet."

"You're a smart gal," he commented absently.

"Am I? It's the first time I've ever really wanted to be."

"I know how you feel," he responded moodily. "That's why I'm getting outof the place." He said that without any emphasis, as if it were not animportant remark.

"What?"

"You heard me, as they say in every damned script I've ever read outhere."

"Paul.... What do you mean? What's happened?"

And of course nothing had happened except the worst that could have, forPaul's equanimity: merely that as a result of Morning Journey'ssuccess he had been showered with scripts by producers and agents whohoped he might be interested in some property of theirs; a few of thesescripts were averagely good, but many were old stuff dusted off and senthim on the "How can you lose?" principle. Paul should have ignored them,or at least have glanced at only a few pages to convince himself oftheir quality, but it seemed that out of sheer obtuseness he had readthem carefully--as carefully as he had journeyed to small theaters inout-of-the-way suburbs if ever one of Randolph's earlier pictures hadbeen showing there. The fact that he had always returned from theseexpeditions fuming was no indication that he had not derived a macabrepleasure from them, once he had decided that an indictment againstRandolph must be built up with every available piece of material. Andnow, in a similar but larger sense, an indictment against the wholeindustrialized picture industry was brewing in his mind, and the pile ofscripts he had been sent was just the yeast to make it rise. So it hadrisen--mountainously. He was in a mood, Carey realized, when he wasprobably intending to do something he wanted to do and was finding manyexcellent reasons besides the real one. He kept saying "There's nomutiny here, Carey," and when she asked what he meant he said one ofthose things she knew he had either said before or had coined so happilythat he would certainly say it again; he said that to breed art and keepit alive there should be a continual mutiny of ideas. "But there isn'tany here. This place is swarming with craftsmen who might have beenartists if only they'd stayed away. And everybody's scared--scared ofeach other, of the future, of gossip columns, of ulcers, of the public,of Washington, of censorship--there's something gets into the blood frombeing scared of so many things all the time--you can smell it, and I'vesmelled it lately.... These folks are afraid for their lives, they'vebuilt themselves a concentration camp that they're all fighting to stayinside--a damned democratic de luxe concentration camp where you holdelections by postcard poll of morons and smart alecks, where you by-passthe adult intelligence and shoot for the blood pressure of thetwelve-year-old!"

"That reminds me of what Mitchell said," she interposed mischievously.

"Mitchell? The writer? Did he? I don't recall." (But she knew he did; hewould never forget Mitchell, who had answered him back, who had left himhurt, speechless, angry, with ghost phrases in his mind forever that hecould only exorcise partially by purloining them and adapting them forhis own use.)

But he was continuing now, in full flood: "Anyhow, that's the way it iswith the people here--they're afraid for their lives and they'll doanything for those lives except run for them. They could if theywanted--the gate's wide open that way--the fence is to keep the crowdout, not in. Well, I'm getting out. I know they'd never really letme do what I want here. They'd hate me, I'd never be one of them, they'djust give me squatter's rights inside the barbed wire.... Oh dear,now I've upset you, I suppose--I always do, don't I?"

He hadn't, by what he had said; it was the recognition of his mood thattroubled her, for so often in the past it had been a storm signal intheir personal affairs, and though it could hardly be that again, shewas disturbed in a way she found hard to explain.

"So you're thinking of going away?" she said wanly.

"Oh, not immediately. I mean, not tomorrow or the next day. Maybe in afew weeks. Greg's asking for time off too. Hasn't had a real vacation inyears, he says. We're going to do something--somewhere--maybe in Europe.Don't know what--yet. And by the way, that's a secret. Not a word orit'll be in all the columns."

"Paul, you know I never gossip.... But about you? After all you'vejust said--I don't know quite what to answer..."

"Then that's good news, because I thought you'd be mad at me."

"Mad at you?... Oh Paul, I'm too--too baffled to be that. I wishI knew what it is..."

"What what is?"

"The thing that drives you. What is it you go for in life? I know itisn't money--I used to think it was success, but you'd get thathere.... Is it fame? Or power? Or pleasure of a kind--do you everget pleasure? Or is it something inside yourself that forces you?"

He gave her the look she knew so well, because it was the mostfrightening reply of all, as if he had switched off his mind to acare-and-maintenance basis until the subject was changed. He saidblandly: "No particular mystery about it, Carey. I just have my work todo and----"

"I know, I know. And that's what you call it--your work. But it's morethan that. Work's only a word.... Oh, words--they're not much use,are they? Greg can say 'vacation' and it just means golf, but toyou----"

"You don't really like Greg, do you?" he interrupted, switching on hismind again.

He knew she did, and she knew the question he was asking was a differentone. She answered: "It isn't that, Paul.... Oh, never mind Greg--hecan look after himself--he's established--rich----"

"Sure--nearly as rich as your old man and a damn sight freer with hismoney."

There was generally in any of his arguments a single explosion, rarelymore than one, of sheer vulgarity; it so often marked a climax that shealmost welcomed it. She said quietly: "You may as well tell me justwhat's in your mind, now you've begun. You think Greg will finance youin some picture of your own, is that it?"

"Why not? He's a millionaire--must be. He can't act, as you say, andMajestic probably has him all sewn up anyhow, but there's no law to stopa man from investing in something he's interested in. Maybe I'll makeanother picture as good as Erste Freundschaft or the one they didn'tlet me finish. He's a likable fellow, Greg is--I get along with himfine."

Carey half-smiled. She did not know whether her main impulse was to warnPaul of Greg or vice versa--to warn Paul that Greg, though rich, wasdoubtless protected by lawyers and agents and business advisers whowould certainly not let him put any substantial stake in a Saffronpicture; to warn Greg also, in case by some miracle of Paul's persuasionhe should need it, that Paul was a splendid director who had probably,over a period of years, and balancing fabulous success against equallyfabulous failure, won more personal prestige and lost more producers'money than anyone else in the business.... And then, in sheerweariness, the thought came: Why should she warn either of them? Gregcould look after himself, and so in his own way could Paul....Perhaps it had been the mistake of her life ever to think of Paul ashelpless--it was like the old problem in Candida--who was really thestrong man, the poet or the other fellow?

She said, speaking more in fatigue than in complaint: "So after allthis, Paul... all the trouble... the fighting... you're givingit up... the thing we came out here for...."

"We? Doesn't affect you, Carey. Right now you're hot as afirecracker, as they say in these fantastic faubourgs. Didn't you catchRandolph's hint when he said he'd been talking to Michaelson? I'll bethe wants you for another picture."

Another picture... The thought made a gray shape in her mind. Shewondered if she could ever act again: but she had so often wondered this(sometimes five minutes before the curtain rose on a performance inwhich she did especially well) that she had come to disregard themisgiving as a mere symptom of mood; but now it would not bedisregarded. And whether it was still foolish, or true for the firsttime, the fact remained that she was only good enough to satisfy herselfwhen she had also to satisfy Paul. She could "get by," of course,without him; she had done so many times in plays, and doubtless it wouldbe even easier in pictures; doubtless too there were other directorsjust as great by any outsider's reckoning. But the gray shape was stillin her mind.

Paul was saying something about the Critics' Dinner that night and thepossibility that the picture might win a similar award from the New Yorkcritics. "If it does it'll mean a trip there for us--Greg, you and me."

"Oh dear, I don't know that I want to go."

"Studio expense. See a few shows." He had no particular care for money,but he was like a child if he could make someone else pay for a jaunt.

She shook her head. "I'm too tired, Paul."

"Tired?"

"Yes.... I don't know how I'll even get through tonight."

He stared at her intently for a moment. "You look tired too," heannounced that with an air of discovery. "Come up and have a drink. Idon't believe you've ever been in my apartment."

She never had--which might have seemed strange to others, but had notreally surprised her. It was a penthouse at the beach, decorated inrather delicate pastel shades--the same standardized charm that youcould buy anywhere for enough money, only she guessed Paul had paid fartoo much. He pulled back the drapes to expose the view of boulevard,harbor and ocean; then mixed her a whisky and soda. "You know, Carey, itwon't be so bad here for you. You'll be a big success without muchtrouble, and I'll tell you why--it isn't acting they want, it's a funnykind of personality. You have that--by God you have--you make the camerasing like an instrument."

"I must tell Norris that, because he almost prophesied it."

"Norris? Oh yes. What's he doing now? You hear from him?"

"He's traveling in South America--with Austen."

"Pleasure trip?"

"Austen will try to make it that. He needs it."

"Austen?"

"No, Norris. He had a--a sort of breakdown after the strain of the warand the accident. He was in the war, not just in uniform. He drove anambulance for three years."

"Couldn't Austen have kept him out of it?"

"He could, and would have, but Norris wouldn't let him."

"What is the boy then--a fool or a hero?"

"Probably neither."

"You miss them, I guess, now the picture's finished?"

"Yes... especially Norris."

"Why especially him?"

A quite fantastic impulse seized her, so that she said, hearing thewords with a certain excitement: "Suppose I said I loved him?"

"What?"

She smiled. Let him misunderstand her: it would perhaps be revealing,like the play within the play in Hamlet. For she could never discusswith him the real predicament without the mask, the protection of anacting part. "You heard me," she said, "as they say in all the damnedscripts you ever read out here."

He looked uneasy. "I--I don't get it, Carey. Are you joking? A boy halfyour age?"

"A little more than half."

He snorted. "Good God, I don't believe it. He's practically your son."

"Ah now, if only he were...."

The speaking of the lines eased her, as so often at the opening of aplay.

"Perfectly absurd," he mouthed gruffly.

And it was, but the show must go on. "Oh, come now, Paul, use yourimagination. You've handled situations like this in pictures, haven'tyou? Too censorable to be shown over here, but all right for theContinent.... People are people everywhere. The Saffron touch. Yousee life as it is, don't you, not gift-wrapped?"

He sat heavily on the couch, his head bowed as in disgust or silentprayer. After a pause he said: "Well, what are you going to do aboutit?"

"What do you advise?"

"Does he think he's in love with you?"

At this she fluffed; she could not involve Norris in such a whim.

"No," she answered, after hesitation.

"Well, that makes it simple."

"Simple?"

"Because there's nothing you can do."

"And that makes it simple?" (Back now in full stride.) "I'm in a blindalley--I can't move forward or backward--I'm just plain stuck, andthat's what makes it simple--as simple as being note-perfect in theHammerklavier."

He got up abruptly and glowered down at her. "Carey, what's the matterwith you? Is this a game--a gag of some kind? I can't remember you inthis mood ever before."

"I never have been. Perhaps this is a first time--Erste Freundschaft."

"You mean..." He weighed an interpretation in his mind and wasclearly disconcerted. "You mean--you never were--in love--with me?"

"Does the sun have to be like the moon?"

"What the devil does that signify?"

"You were the sun, of course, but the moon, as everyone knows, is forlove."

Like all other bad lines he had ever encountered, this maddened him."For Christ's sake... a cue for a song in a fifth-rate musical! Whatis the matter with you? Talk sense. You're not on the stage now...."

"But Paul, don't you remember that at moments of intense emotion anactor has to act--it's the only way he can come to terms with things.It's the consolation he has as an artist.... You told me all thatonce...."

Even in his angry bafflement he picked up two words out of her speechand made, so to say, a ring round them. "Intense emotion?"

"Yes, Paul. Intense emotion--but not yet remembered in tranquillity.Whose definition was that? Perhaps I'm a fond foolish woman, and to dealplainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind.... Ophelia might havesaid that too."

"Carey, stop it. I don't know what you're driving at. What aboutAusten in all this? Of course I'm not surprised if you haven't beenhitting it off too well with him--he didn't seem to me your kind ofman at all----"

"On the contrary, I hit it off with him very well indeed. I find itrather easy to hit it off with men. I'm a sensual woman, I sometimesthink."

"Oh God, Carey, why are you talking like this?"

"Does it shock you? I had an idea you might be--at least--amused."

"It--it makes me--it makes me feel--I don't understand you--any more."

He said that so pathetically that she got up and pulled him to the couchbeside her. "And you don't, darling, in several little ways. But whybother?" The absurd little play was over. Perhaps, if he had known itwas a play, he could have put on his mantle of infallibility andunderstood, but she had caught him ex cathedra--an unfair test--likeexpecting Paavo Nurmi to sprint for a bus. She did not blame him. Shewent on with half-chiding affection: "Paul, Paul, don't look so black;I've been acting--as you did when you were rehearsing me in Desdemonaand you pretended to suspect me with Harry Foy.... Can't I have myown little act too?"

"But why? There was a reason for that, but this... I still don'tget it...."

"I know. There's a hairsbreadth of No Man's Land between us. Only ahairsbreadth. Woman's Land, let's call it. Oh boy, what dialogue!"

He muttered something, but she could see he was relieved, and the lookof pathetic puzzlement changed to one of mere glumness. "When are theydue back from the South American trip?" he asked after mopping hisforehead.

"I don't know."

"I suppose you'll want to be in New York to meet them?"

"I don't know."

"But won't they expect you to?"

"I don't know that either.... I don't know anything. I can't see thefuture at all."

He pondered this for a moment, then suddenly became emphatic. "Got anidea. Why don't you do another picture?"

"What?"

"It's the solution, Carey. Randolph would sign you up tomorrow, I'mcertain. You've made a big reputation almost overnight--you've got aready-made audience for the next thing you do, no matter what it is. Andeven with someone else directing, you'd soon find how work would takeyour mind off things.... Carey, why not? Let me get hold of Randolphright now...."

"No, no, Paul. Please don't.... I won't talk to him.... Paul, putthat phone down...."

"You'd prefer Michaelson to handle it from his end? Well, maybe that'ssmarter----"

"Paul... can't you understand that just now I'd rather die than faceanother day in a studio?... I'm tired. Don't you realize that?Things have piled up on me.... I'm tired."

For the first time he seemed to take her seriously. He said simply: "Iwish I could help you."

"You have--a little--just by saying that. But you can't--really. There'snot a thing anybody can do. It's in myself. But I can manage. I shall, Iknow. You don't need to worry about me."

He looked increasingly concerned. "Maybe you should take some time off.Carmel's a good place--Greg likes it there. Six months, maybe....How's your heart, by the way?"

"'Tis broke," she answered, so promptly that she startled herself. Thenwhen he stared without smiling she went on: "Don't you rememberthat--the time we first met--me driving down that hill in Kingstown withmy leg under me and you asking what was the matter with it?"

He smiled then but she couldn't tell whether he did remember or not.Then she lost all control. She kept crying "'Tis broke--'Tis broke----"and Paul was helpless at her side, genuinely distressed but knowingnothing of any way to console her. Presently the tears spent themselvesand she shook herself free of grief. "I'm sorry, Paul. That was verysilly. I'm really ashamed of myself."

She let him fill up her glass, though she did not drink again, and theconversation after that became casual and unimportant. About threeo'clock she left, for she wanted a long rest before the dinner.

* * *

At her apartment an air-mail letter awaited her from Austen's lawyer,Herbert Walsh, in New York. She had met him only once or twice and wassurprised to hear from him. The letter said merely:

Dear Mrs. Bond,

I plan to be in your part of the country the 21st to the 25th and should like to discuss with you a certain matter. I hope, therefore, you will not be out of town, or if so, perhaps you would be good enough to let me know where I can contact you. My address will be...

The letter gave her a chill as she read it. She had noticed lately thata great many small matters affected her in this way if they containedany element of uncertainty--a message that someone whose name she didnot know had been trying to reach her on the telephone, some anonymousscurrilous letter (such as every movie personality receivesoccasionally), even the headlights of a car that seemed to be followingher at night but was only waiting for a chance to overtake. It was asymptom of her nervous condition, she imagined, due partly to the strainof the picturemaking; she was still detached enough in mind to diagnoseand smile at her own foolishness. This letter from Mr. Walsh, however,put her in a state of mental spasm. She paced up and down the livingroom of the apartment, reading it over and over as if the wordsthemselves were hard to understand, then she crumpled it in suddenreasonless consternation. If someone were trying to torture her, thiswas the way. A minute later she was at the telephone, the note smoothedout beside the instrument as she read from it Walsh's number. Action hadquieted her. But it was too late--six-thirty in New York; Walsh hadalready left his office and his secretary said she had strict orders notto give anyone his home number.

Carey, still a little distraught, found a groove of relief in the memoryof all the stage telephone scenes she had played--controlled emotion invoice, but an utmost betrayal to the eye--how easy it was, and howdifficult audiences always thought it!... She said: "Perhaps youcan help me then. I got a letter today from Mr. Walsh----"

"Yes, Mrs. Bond. I remember sending it. He's going out to visit you."

"You mean--just--just to visit me?"

"I think so."

"But--but if it's so important I--I feel I can't wait to know what itis.... I must know.... It's not fair to have to think of thesethings for days ahead.... Do you know what it's about? I'm sure youmust----"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Bond--perhaps if you were to telephone Mr. Walshpersonally tomorrow.... Well no, I oughtn't to say that--he probablywouldn't care to talk over the telephone----"

"So you do know what it's about?"

"No, Mrs. Bond, Mr. Walsh doesn't discuss his cases with me."

"Cases?" Her heart felt as if it were being lifted out of her body fora solo exhibition. "What case? I'm not in any case.... At least I...none that I know of...."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Bond. There's really nothing more I can say. I'm surewhen Mr. Walsh gets out to see you----"

"I see, I see.... Yes. I understand.... I'll wait.... Good-by."

For a time after that she thought she would be unable to attend thedinner. But that disturbed her even more; she disliked causingcommotion, and had always harbored a slight contempt for last-minutecancelers. Paul had once told her understudy: "You're in a hopeless job.Carey goes on if she can crawl." Somehow the recollection of thattribute gave her power now to face the evening ahead, and once thedecision was made she could even raise a mild excitement. It might befun to have people applauding her again, real live people applaudingher instead of her photographs.

She rested, changed, then drove downtown where the dinner was to beheld. She was a little late, yet she drove slowly, choosing the quieterresidential streets. Suddenly a dog came scampering through a gate andinto the roadway in front of her car; she passed right over. She felther heart brake sharply with the clenching of feet and hands; she pulledto the curb, then looked back. It was true, except that the car, not thewheels, had passed over; and the dog, a black spaniel, was now back onthe sidewalk, scared but unhurt, desperately trying to re-enter thegate. She got out and approached the animal, almightily angry andtender; in a deep convulsion of deliverance her heart began to hammeragain as she stooped to fondle him, but he was unresponsive, merelywanting to be back in his own garden. She unlatched the gate and let himin. Then she resumed the drive. Nobody had seen the incident. Howbaffling was the alchemy of inches and seconds... and she thought ofNorris in his jeep with that girl on the Rhineland road. And that otherGerman girl, lovely Wanda Hessely, killed by bombs. There was hazardenough in the lives of those who wanted to live, and for those whowanted to die, was there too much--or not enough?...

At the dinner she received a warm welcome from the five or six hundredguests already congregated. She had met many of them before, casuallyand at other parties; some gave her the appraising welcome of those whoknew she was on the upgrade in the local hierarchy, but there wereothers doubtless who were jealous of her success; she had been in showbusiness long enough to accept that as one of the facts of life, not asany particular proof of evil nature. She smiled and shook hands a gooddeal as she found her place at the high table, next to Calvin Beckford.Greg was on his left, and Paul, to her slight surprise, some way downthe table between two pretty girls. Her neighbor on the right wasintroduced as a Mr. Hare--a small man, sharp-eyed and friendly; he saidhe thought he had seen her once in a play in Boston when he was atHarvard, and someone who overheard this laughed because that made her(as she certainly was) at least forty. "I can't remember the play, but Icouldn't forget you," he said, plugging the hole in his gallantry sopromptly that she wondered if he had made both remarks to fix herinterest in him. Then Beckford commandeered her and would not let gothroughout the first part of the meal. He was a type she had often metand knew how to get along with--showy, glib, eager to impress, toplease, to be flattered in return. She much preferred the other man, andat the first chance she turned to him. "I think it must have beenQuality Street you saw me in, Mr. Hare," she said.

"That's right, so it was."

"Because I don't believe I ever played in Boston in anything else. Notin those days."

"Not so very long ago."

"Twenty years."

He smiled. "What does it feel like to be a well-known actress all thattime and then have people behave out here as if they'd discovered you?"

She laughed and was aware of the freemasonry between them of those forwhom movie standards were too important to be disregarded but too ineptto be taken seriously. "It's funny," she said.

"I hope you'll tell them that in your speech."

"Oh, do I have to make a speech?" She knew she had, of course, but shehad an impulse to act a part--only a small part, just to keep her mindoff other things.

"I'm sure we all hope you will," he answered. "But it needn't be a longone. Do speeches make you nervous?"

"Other people's do occasionally." She was thinking of Paul; she hadcaught sight of him down the table; he seemed to be in the throes of nothaving a good time; his two neighbors were talking to each other acrosshim, a thing that would always put him in an ill-humor. She added, awarethat Mr. Hare was studying her: "Paul's especially. Paul Saffron--thedirector. He can be so tactless." She wondered why she had said so much,then added hastily: "No, I'm not exactly scared to speak in public, butI find it much harder than acting. Perhaps that only means I find ithard to act the part of myself."

"Ethel Barrymore once told me practically the same thing."

She wondered who he was; he did not seem the kind that would say a thinglike that just to let her know he knew Ethel Barrymore. Probably someoneimportant in the picture world, otherwise he would not have been putnext to her. Then a wisp of memory flicked her from somewhere:Hare--Hare--there was a lawyer named Hare who had handled something forsomebody she knew.... She remembered it, because she had thought itsensible: a clause in a will limiting burial expenses to five hundreddollars. Every celebrity ought to have it, Hare was supposed to havesaid, like insurance against nuisance suits, and it had been his idea tomake it mandatory so that executors and relatives wouldn't be made tolook like cheapskates.... Yes, a good idea. By then she realized thatMr. Hare was saying nice things about Morning Journey. "A real triumphfor you, Miss Arundel. I expect you're already bored by people who tellyou so."

"No, I enjoy it. Thank you."

"Of course you won't go back to the stage again. I say that because Ihope you will."

"I might."

"But first, I suppose, another picture?"

"No, I've no plans for that. I've no definite plans for anything, exceptperhaps a vacation in Ireland.... By the way, Mr. Hare, you're thelawyer, aren't you?"

"The lawyer? Let's settle for a lawyer."

"I wonder if you could help me."

She had the sudden idea she would ask him about the letter from Walsh.What it could possibly mean.... What she ought to do about it.Whether, when she met Walsh, she ought to be alone or to have anotherlawyer with her. She read in Mr. Hare's attitude such personalfriendliness that she felt she could tell him the whole story--if onlyshe herself knew what the whole story was. But of course she didn't.Then how could he help her? How could he possibly judge from Walsh'sletter what it meant? He would probably advise her to see Walsh and findout. It was therefore absurd to bother him about something nebulous. Shechanged her mind so abruptly that when he answered--"Of course. Troubleof some kind?"--she had to think fast to find any answer at all. Shesaid: "Oh, nothing very important. I thought of subletting my apartmentwhile I go to Ireland, but the lease says I can't."

"Be glad to help you," he answered. "Send--or better still--bring thelease along to my office and I'll see if anything can be done." Thechairman had risen and was trying to get silence for his openingremarks. Mr. Hare went on hurriedly: "Any time. Tomorrow morning if youlike."

"Thanks. Tomorrow morning then," she answered, stampeded into anotherabsurdity, as she well realized. For she rented her apartment by themonth--there was no question of subletting. She wondered what on earthshe could say if she did visit him, or alternatively, what he wouldthink if she made some excuse not to go. Then she thought of a betterway out; she would say, when she got to his office: "I've decided not tosublet, anyhow, but meeting you made me think of something you once didfor someone I knew, though I can't remember who it was, but I rememberwhat it was... a clause in a will limiting burial expenses...."Macabre but reasonable. Then she wondered whether, even with thisexcuse, she really needed or wanted to visit Mr. Hare at all....

The chairman was speaking. She glanced down the table and watched Paulfor a moment, failing to catch his eye. His chin was sunk disconsolatelyin his chest; she might have thought he had drunk too much but forknowing that he never did any more. Yet somehow, looking at him, she wasapprehensive; she wished he had had a neighbor who could have given himsome good conversation, instead of the two chattering starlets he hadbeen stuck with. It occurred to her that he would doubtless consider hisbad position at the table a slight; but she was fairly certain it wasnot, and that he had been put between two pretty girls because someonemight have supposed he would enjoy himself there.... Meanwhile shewas planning what to say when her own turn came. After her remarks toMr. Hare, he would probably expect her to be not so good; she wouldsurprise him, therefore. Yet it was true; she felt uncovered, vulnerablewithout the protection of an imagined personality.

The chairman sat down, having said nothing that she had really heard,and during the applause Mr. Hare turned to her again. "Are you by anychance going on to the Fulton-Griffins' when this thing is over?"

"Oh, I don't think so. I was asked, but I understand there's such acrowd always there and I hate crowds."

She had never been to a Fulton-Griffin party, though Paul had been onceand told her what it was like. She had known then that she wouldn'tenjoy it.

"So do I," Mr. Hare said, "but a Fulton-Griffin party is something youought to see if you haven't been to one before. I thought if you weregoing I'd have a chance to talk to you without all these interruptions."

"Oh yes, I'd like that, but I really think I ought to go home. I've beenrather tired since the picture finished and----"

The chairman was introducing the next speaker, Calvin Beckford. Afterhis first half-dozen words she glanced at Paul with renewedapprehension, sure that he would dislike the man fiercely andprogressively. For Beckford had the kind of fruity voice that Paul couldnot stand, even when an actor assumed it for a part; "Be an undertaker,not an actor," Paul had once said, to a youth whose natural voice hadbeen of that kind, "and change the funeral service to read 'O PassingOn, Where is Thy Sting?'" Now why did she recall that?... She lookedat Paul again and noted every sign that he was in a profound gloom.Beckford's voice droned on, the lardlike face falsely radiant as thecompliments poured forth. "Unforgettable career fittingly climaxed" wasone of them, aimed at herself. Paul would hate that too, and for anumber of reasons, one of which was that he hated the word"unforgettable." It was a radio word, he always said, meaning"forgettable."

At last the orator reached his point, which was the presentation of theplaques; she took hers, bowed to the applause, then made her littlespeech and forgot to congratulate Mr. Beckford on his approachingseventieth birthday, though she did remember to mention Majestic Studiosas the alma mater that had nourished Morning Journey in its bosom.All very pretty, and over in exactly three-and-a-half minutes.

"Bravo," Mr. Hare whispered, when she sat down. "You did very well."

She smiled and felt that he had been duly impressed.

Then the presentation to Greg, who took even less time to get on hisfeet and off again.

Then Paul.

She knew from the outset, from the look on his face, from the set of hisjaw, from the way he strode to a microphone and focused himself, as itwere, into the center of a silence, that he was going to be impossible.He took the plaque without a smile, and Carey, guessing what was ahead,bit her lip and stared at the table. Then it began.... Practicallyall the things he had said to her that afternoon. They had eithersimmered in his mind since then, or in a subconscious way he had beentrying them out on her, as he so often did... a weapon notnecessarily to be used, but kept sharpened in readiness. She knew thathis decision on such matters was almost always last-minute andcapricious--that perhaps if he had been given a better place at thetable, if one of his neighbors had been interesting, or if CalvinBeckford had been Jack Benny... then he might well have said histhank-you like a gentleman, like the little gentleman he sometimeslooked but never actually was.

When it was over she got up from the table and left, slipping out by aside door without a word to anyone. Nobody tried to stop her; she had animpression that Paul's speech had made everything else, for the moment,unnoticed. She ran down the road to the car park, not waiting for theboy to take her ticket. She was full of that curious vacuum of sensationthat comes after one has been hurt and before one can really feelanything.

* * *

Back at the apartment she entered by a tradesmen's side door thatby-passed the desk; she did not want to be told there had been anymessages for her. When she reached her rooms the telephone was ringing.The desk usually gave the name of a caller, but this time she lifted thereceiver to hear a woman's voice mentioning the name of a newspaper andasking what she thought of Paul Saffron's speech at the Critics' Dinner.She answered, in a flustered way: "Oh, I don't know--I haven't much ofan opinion about it."

"But Miss Arundel, what do you think of his remark that MorningJourney is the worst picture he ever made?"

"I--I don't know. I--I--"

"Do you think it's the worst picture he ever made?"

"Well no--or rather I don't know--I can't say--I haven't seen all thepictures he ever made...."

A laugh at the other end seemed to show that her answer had beenconsidered adequate.

"Just one more question, Miss Arundel, what did you think about Mr.Saffron's statement that----"

"I'm sorry," she interrupted, "that's all I can tell you. I must hangup. I'm very sorry."

She hung up. As she stepped from the instrument she tried to rememberwhat little she had said. Question: "Do you think it's the worstpicture he ever made?" Answer: "I can't say--I haven't seen all thepictures he ever made."... Oh, what a snide remark, the way it wouldlook in print. She felt a heart-constriction, then a surge of angeragainst Paul for getting into this mess and dragging her into it withhim. The telephone rang again. This time she lifted it off the hook andignored it. She heard the intermittent clicking and wondered how soonthe desk clerk would send someone up to see what was the matter.Abruptly, as if challenged to face some issue with every final scrap ofstrength she had, she made up her mind to go to the Fulton-Griffins'.She would startle everyone there, would make a stage entrance, act theunruffled queen, show everyone that she did not care for anything thathad happened, that Paul could go to the devil his own way. An impulse ofsuch magnitude demanded either enthusiasm or quick extinction; she wasable to muster the former as she chose a new dress, changed quickly, andleft by the same side entrance.

Ten minutes later she was driving along winding uphill streets. She hadput the car top down for the feel of the night and the kind ofexcitement it might give; she had wrapped her head in a scarf that wouldkeep her hair in shape. Presently the estate of the Fulton-Griffins cameinto view. Cars were parked for half a mile along the narrow driveway;retainers, watchful for gate crashers, scrutinized first the car, thenseemed to recognize her face. The house was baroque and ugly, even infloodlights, but the gardens had spaciousness. A heart-shaped swimmingpool glistened amidst the trees and beside it stood an open-air baralmost as large. Sounds of frolic came from both.

Nobody quite knew why a rich, respectable, and retired Middle-Westerncouple lavished such frequent entertainment, or why they did not preferseclusion to turning their house into an almost weekly shambles ofbroken glasses and cigarette-burned carpets. Presumably they liked tomeet celebrities, old and new; presumably they liked noise; perhaps alsothey were generous, or bored, or snobbish. But even all of that couldnot pierce the final mystery. Their parties, at least, were notexclusive--or not much more so than the lobby of the Waldorf. And theone economy they practised was notorious: their liquor was never quiteexcellent.

Several hundred guests were already mingling outside and in when Careyarrived, and she made the full sensation she had planned. She had alwaysbeen able to act when she could do nothing else; it was like starting amotor that left her with some generated strength in herself. Sheactually enjoyed greeting her hostess with: "Believe me, after theCritics' Dinner coming here is a godsend. I wouldn't have missed it foranything, though... Paul's speech, I mean. The way that man can puthis foot in it--with both feet!"

After that, of course, everyone felt free to comment on the affair asoutspokenly as they liked before her, and many did. She let them knowhow little she cared, how little it all mattered, how happy she was tobe at a party where nobody would make serious speeches at all, not evensilly ones. She felt waves of sympathy reaching towards her, but alsowaves of awareness that she was hamming it up, for she could hardlyconceal that from professionals. It was the quality of the act that shehoped they would recognize. She talked a lot and was perhaps a littletoo gay at times. She had even a feeling once or twice that the wholeidea of coming to the party had been mistaken, but she rallied herselfquickly and switched to another group whose different reaction mightreconvince her. In a party of such size and at such a stage of festivitythere was always a bewildering series of crosscurrents--envies andenmities open or hidden, masquerading sometimes in ways that drinktowards the end of a long evening would reveal; it was this sort ofthing that often led at Fulton-Griffin parties to the beginnings ofscenes that were usually squelched before they made headlines owing tothe Fulton-Griffin tactic of planting several reliable house servants toplay guests among the guests. Thus there could develop a faintlysinister atmosphere. The strong-jawed man sipping Bourbon at the edge ofthe pool might be getting ready either to push you in or fish you out.

Carey felt exultant as she worked her way through the crowd. For onething the rooms were cool--air-conditioned, with the windows wide open,an absurdity that yet contrived an enchantment, for pockets ofblossom-scented air drifting in from the gardens were deliciously warm.An evening out of a travel folder, with starlit sky and floodlit lawnsto aid the illusion (as Paul had said after his one experience of aFulton-Griffin party) that the cream of civilization had coagulated hereand would make excellent cheese. Half the guests were already a littledrunk. The buffet tables were still laden with food that (like thedrink) was not quite excellent. On a platform beyond the swimming pool aseven-piece orchestra played medleys. Some people were dancing.

Suddenly Carey saw Mr. Hare in a corner of the drawing room all on hisown. "Hello, Mr. Hare," she said, smiling.

"Well, Miss Arundel, this is a surprise. You changed your mind?"

"I often do."

"So we can finish our talk. That's good."

"Yes, but let's go outside. The gardens are lovely."

They stepped through the French windows to the terrace, avoiding thecrowd at the swimming pool end and discovering a side path that led to agrove of eucalyptus trees.

"I felt I had to come," she said, "just to show I don't feel all thethings people are thinking I feel."

"You're very wise." He took her arm and she knew the entire friendlinessof the man; she liked, too, the way he went straight to what must be inboth their minds. "What Saffron did say," he said, "as opposed to allthe talk of what he said, wasn't really against you. Therefore there'snothing for you to be hurt or humiliated about."

"I'm so glad you think that."

"Just stupid of him and in bad taste."

"Oh yes, oh yes, I know it was."

"Rather odd--coming just after you'd told me his speeches sometimes madeyou feel nervous."

Had she said that? Oh yes, during the dinner. "Yes, wasn't it odd?"Because it really was.

"You must have had a lot of experience of him."

"Well, we were married once."

And it was odd, too, that he hadn't known that, because it obviouslygave him a shock. "You were?"

"Didn't you know?"

"I didn't, and as everybody else here must, it's rather astonishingnobody happened to mention it to me. I suppose they assumed I knew."

"So you've been talking about me to people?"

"A few people have been talking about you to me."

"What do they say?"

"They like you--and they don't like him."

Well, that had always been so--almost always. She felt an overwhelmingsadness as she answered: "They don't have to couple us together anymore."

"Except that you were in the picture together."

"Yes--for a special reason, but that's a long story--I might tell yousometime if you're interested."

Some men and girls were approaching.

"Maybe tomorrow? Don't forget you have a date at my office. Make iteleven-thirty and I'll take you to lunch."

"Fine." She would like that. But her thoughts were on Paul, now that hehad been spoken of by both of them. She wondered where he was, what hewas doing. She said, as they walked back towards the house: "He didn'tshow up here tonight, did he?"

"No. I'm sure I'd have known if he had. Did you think he might?"

"He's capable of it. If he'd been here I'd have wanted to leave--Icouldn't stand any more." And that was true enough.

"I don't blame you."

"I'm just about at the limit of what I can stand, to be frank."

"You probably need that holiday in Ireland you talked about. But whyIreland?"

"I was born there. Where were you born?"

"Vermont... on a farm."

"So was I. In County Kildare. The greenest fields and my father rode thewildest and most beautiful horses..." The vision filled her--Oh thelovely lovely country, the white clouds rolling shadows over the fields,the green-blue mountains in the distance! Her eyes could always fillwhen she thought of it, but now she was embarrassed because she knew Mr.Hare was watching her. She added: "Oh, I guess we all feel like thatabout where we were born. Vermont is beautiful too."

"Yes, very." And then, telling her there was just time for one morequestion, he went on to say something that both amazed and puzzled her.He seemed to think it might, for he cautioned her in advance. "A ratherpersonal question, so don't be startled.... Did Saffron ever--in adressing room at the studio while the picture was being made--did heever quarrel with you and threaten you with a gun?"

She had to laugh. "Good heavens, no. Who on earth made that one up?"

* * *

They separated inside the house and she guessed that he left soonafterwards, before she did. She stayed till nearly one, talking anddancing with a few of the sober survivals, but when she was in her cardriving downhill towards her apartment the beginnings of panic seizedher. Would there have been more messages, newspaper inquiries? The deskman said: "Did you know you left your phone off the hook, Miss Arundel?"

She said: "Oh, did I? Have there been calls?"

"Quite a number..." He was going to hand her the slips but she said:"I can't do anything about them tonight--send them up tomorrow."

She had hoped the apartment would seem cheerful to relax in, after thelong strain of the evening; it was really an elegant apartment, and ifonly it had been higher, as in New York, she felt it might have worked amiracle on her mood; she loved height, the look of streets spread outbelow, a corner window like the prow of a ship in air. She switched onall the lights and lit a cigarette. She did not know whether she couldsleep or even whether she wanted to. In a way the evening had been hertriumph--she had rallied friends and admirers in droves. Yet was thereanyone, anywhere, now, at one in the morning, who would greet her warmlyyet incuriously, welcomingly yet without drama, if she telephoned orrang a doorbell? Greg?... Austen?... Norris?... Even Paul?... It seemedto her that most of those she had talked to so excitingly throughout theevening were by now either drunk or climbing into some little bed likeMr. Hare.... Then suddenly she thought of Professor Lingard. Howincredible that anyone should fill so exactly her preciserequirements--Professor Lingard, who had given her a cordial invitationto look through his observatory telescope in the middle of some night!But he had warned her to telephone first, to find if the skies wereclear enough. So she telephoned, and soon heard his voice, amiable anddistant-sounding: "Why yes, Miss Arundel.... Of course I remember....Yes, wonderful.... No, I'm working as usual.... Tonight?... Why,certainly, you couldn't have chosen a better one.... As soon as youlike, then.... An hour and a half, I should think--there'll be verylittle traffic... you know the way... but take it easy now, especiallythe last stretch...."

The thought of leaving the city and driving into the mile-high mountainslifted her spirits again to a peak of their own; she changed into streetclothes and went out. Her car had ample gas; she drove east along Sunsetas far as Western, then turned north.

* * *

There was no doubt of her mental plight. She was in desperate need ofreassurance which no one then available could give, and her own name ona darkened theater marquee did nothing to help--rather the contrary,since it stressed the irony of being alone amidst so many sleepingstrangers who knew her by sight and perhaps had warmed to her for a fewmoments of their waking lives. As she drove she felt the tingling of allher nerves into alternating fear and excitement, so that every car whoselights she saw in the rear-view mirror seemed to be following until itactually overtook; she was used to this illusion by now, and knew howfoolish it was, but it made her drive a little faster than usual, thoughnot recklessly. At the corner on Foothill where the climb began, thegreat eye of the Observatory became a symbol in her mind of someultimate scrutiny, and Professor Lingard himself a human answer to adifferent problem. For at their one meeting they had establishedkinship--she had been aware of it; she also guessed he was not a man toinvite her to his mountaintop unless he had rather liked her. As she hadsaid to Paul (the remark that had perhaps most of all shocked him), shefound it easy to hit it off with men--Paul's phrase for whatever therewas of murk or mystery in his own concept of the relationship. She hadan idea she would find it easy to hit it off with Professor Lingard ifonly his physical eye would leave the heavens for a moment... and atthat she began to smile, for the quality in her that she freely agreedwas sensual was always mixed up with smiling and fun--a comedy role thatPaul had disapproved after the first entrancement, and Austen hadaccepted but never perfectly understood.

The mountains heaved into outlines against the blue-black sky; it wasthe smell of manzanita that crossed the roadway in gusts; the eyes oftiny animals blinked out of their secret populated world... and therecame to her mind the road over the Sally Gap, the climb so differentfrom this, the car so different from this, herself so different fromnow, the point where she had left the road once and clambered throughhigh gorse to the summit of Kippure; there had been tin cans on thatsummit, not left by picnickers but by gunmen on the run during the timeof troubles--tin cans and rotting puttees and an old cartridge belt; andfrom the summit where one stood amongst the litter of men's idiocy onecould see far over the Gap to the great names ofWicklow--Mullaghcleevaun and Lugnaquilla that lay over the vale ofGlenmalure....

And she remembered Paul as he had been for a little time after theirmarriage; his ways her own, his discovering joy over what was so naturalto her, but partly as spectator even then, and later ceasing to applaud;his understanding of her that was deep at first, so that they had bothfelt that life could carry them on its own tide; but after a while theunderstanding had fled from the heart to the brain, and then (but onlyin his moments of greatness) back to a heart that was not hers.

She remembered that year in Los Angeles (for Hollywood had not yetbecome the magnetic, polarizing name), the year he had tried to crashthe picture industry on the ground floor, and it would have none of him;the great names--Chaplin, Sennett, Lasky, Griffith. If only, she hadoften thought, if only someone then had given him a chance he might havebecome as great as they, and with an easing of so many frustrations thathad bedeviled him since--not all, but many. In vain he had writtenletters, submitted ideas, sought interviews; his stage success in Londonhad counted for nothing. That was the second year after their marriage,and he had already wooed the New York stage equally in vain. Careersalso have currencies, and sometimes a prestige account in one country isnot transferrable to another; at any rate nobody in Hollywood wasinterested in English press clippings about Othello. They had rented aframe bungalow between Western and Vermont for twenty dollars a month,Paul assuming that even if he couldn't find a studio job there wasalways journalism to fall back on. Gradually he had found how that, too,could fail him; either, after his taste of the stage, he could notwrite, or else the kind of thing he wrote had lost its small vogue.Merryweather was dead and there was no other editor interested in him.He kept on writing, nevertheless, and the stuff kept on coming back.Then, when they owed a couple of months' rent, she had taken a job aswaitress in a restaurant on Pico Boulevard--hard work, but she couldearn enough to keep them both till at last his chance came to direct aplay in New York--the one that led to the first big success.

And the strange thing was that this year in Los Angeles--the year helater chose to forget (because he thought of it only as the time andplace of his failure) had actually been the happiest in all her life.They had been so close together, and whenever she had returned from therestaurant or he after hours of fruitless job-seeking, the little househad been there to welcome them, its privacies their own and its tasks apleasure. The first thing she had had to do was to patch the screensbecause of his phobia about flies; the second thing was to clip thepepper tree that did not let enough light into the room where he plannedto work. And the last thing of all was on the day they left sojubilantly (he with the New York offer in his pocket); she had leanedout of the window as the taxi turned the corner, and something deep inher heart had said good-by. For she had been able, in that house, tomake him happy as never before or since; there he had needed her enoughto accept the clearance she could make in the thickets of hisemotions--a sunlit clearance before the jungle grew again.

Strange, the moments of pure emotion one remembered. There was a playtried out at New Haven (or was it Philadelphia?)--it had flopped sobadly it never reached Broadway; but a curious thing, a very curiousthing, happened on the second night. It was a Civil War play, withLincoln, McClellan, Seward, Pope, and others in it--poor fustian stuff,but Paul had believed he could make it spectacular--one of thosemistakes of his that always seemed fewer than they were. Anyhow, therewas this play, with authentic scenes and uniforms and guns boomingoff-stage; and on the second night the press agent had thought to invitelocal Civil War veterans as guests of the management. About half a dozencame--tottering into the front row and cupping their ears to catch thelines; afterwards Paul asked them on stage to meet the cast and bephotographed. So they came, and nobody knew what to say except one oldfellow who suddenly hobbled up to General McClellan and shook hisgnarled fist in the actor's face while his own became contorted withrage. "For Christ's sake, you ----, why weren't you there to help us atManassas?" He would have struck the actor had not others led him away.The whole incident was chilling to all who witnessed it and made thepaltry little play seem paltrier than ever. No one had any hopes ofsuccess after that; it was as if a curse had been laid.

How odd the mixture when memory sinks its net into the past and makes arandom haul, with the mind quiescent and bemused over its find, savoringthe items with infinite detachment. For it was indeed a series of otherCareys whom Carey saw in all these wayward recollections--a girl at aconvent, a young woman climbing Kippure, a waitress serving pie à lamode, an actress in crinolines... and now a woman over forty with hername on a thousand marquees, driving an open Cadillac on a summer nightto a mountaintop observatory.

* * *

Professor Lingard met her at the parking place where he had apparentlybeen waiting. Everywhere there was a vast cool silence to which the mindadded its own image of height and loneliness. He greeted her warmly butseemed shyer than ever as he guided her by flashlight to the roadway.The stars were brilliant, but it was very dark under the shapes oftrees.

"You've chosen a grand night, Miss Arundel."

"I'm glad. I was at a party and when I left I suddenly felt in themood."

"I'm glad too. I really didn't take you very seriously when you firstpromised you'd come. And then after I found out who you were... youmust have thought me terribly stupid for not realizing..."

"Oh no. Why should it matter?"

"But it really was inexcusable. I felt so embarrassed when someone toldme I'd been talking to Carey Arundel, the movie star...."

Movie star.... That was evidently all he knew--even now. "But youwere very nice and friendly. I enjoyed our conversation."

"So long as you've forgiven me, Miss Arundel. Because before you leaveI'm going to take another liberty if I may."

"Oh please. Anything."

"I'd like you to sign an autograph book for a friend of mine... alittle girl--she's ten--the daughter of the woman who comes in once aday to clean for me. You've no idea what it'll mean to her--and when Itell her Carey Arundel's actually been here...! I hope it isn'ttoo much to ask?"

She observed him in the faint glow that reflected back from theflashlight and wondered how far he was from reading what was in hermind.

"Of course I'll do it... and now please stop talking about CareyArundel. I'm a little bit tired of her and if she doesn't mend her waysI've a good mind to shove her off a cliff.... Is there a cliff by theway? I'm sure there must be."

"Not just here, but you passed some steep ones on the way up. Of courseyou wouldn't see them at night. Some people find the road ratherfrightening."

"Not me, I love heights... tell me what you do here."

"Technically? I don't think it would interest you very much, though ifyou really want me to I'll----"

"No, no, I mean the way you live--are you alone all the time? Do youfeel happy? Is there peace of mind on a mountaintop?"

They had reached a cabin the door of which he opened. Suddenly she felt:This is home. There was actually a small log fire burning and it wasin the firelight that she saw the room first of all. "It gets chilly atnights even in summer," he explained; and the warmth was indeed apleasant thing. A couch, chairs, desk, and radio-phonograph were themain furnishings. No pictures, only a strip of matting on the floor, afew books, a map of the area pinned on the log walls. An old-fashionedtelephone. "There's also a bedroom, bathroom, and a small kitchen," hesaid, noticing her interest, but not knowing--how could he know--thatwhenever she entered any room (except decorators' showpieces) her mindmade inventory as if she were looking for something lost from her ownlife. "Simple, Miss Arundel--primitive, I daresay it seems to you--butgood enough for a bachelor.... Won't you sit down? I'll tell myassistant to have things ready." He made the call while she watched him.There was a green-shaded lamp he switched on over the desk--it wasalmost the ugliest lamp she had ever seen, but doubtless in the rightposition for his work and that was all he cared about.

"So you're not alone?" she said, when he had hung up.

"He's a student. He likes to help me on good nights.... And you wereasking if I'm happy... of course I am. I wouldn't be up here if Iweren't. I could probably earn more money down below."

"Sure. That's where we can all earn more money."

"You say 'sure' like the Irish, not like the Americans."

"I was born in Ireland."

"I thought there was an accent... no, not quite an accent--more arhythm, a lilt. You can't lose it, can you? You shouldn't want to,anyhow. I'm from Wyoming."

"Cowboys," she said absently.

"Now that's odd--because I almost was a cowboy, and it's still what I'drather be than anything else--except this. You like horses?"

"Love them. Near where I was born there was the Curragh--that's thegreat place for horses."

"And music? You like music too?"

"Yes. Music and horses and dogs and..."

"Classical music?"

"Yes."

"Bach?"

Without waiting for a reply he went to the radio-phonograph, saying ashe opened it: "We have a few minutes before he gets everythingadjusted." He found a record close to hand. There was something in theway he let down the needle onto the outermost groove that seemed to herone of the most exquisite movements she had ever seen, and the thoughtcame then that Paul would have seen it like that too, would have wantedto shoot it slowly and tenderly, and that Randolph later would have cutthe whole scene. ("But nothing happens, Saffron! A guy starts a recordon a turntable and you let him use up all that footage!")

Nothing happens... They would say that too, doubtless, of the BachChorale. The music just goes round and round...

She listened and felt peaceful. The little room, the firelight, Bach...the mountain outside, above the world.

Presently the record ended and he switched off the machine. He made nocomment, did not even ask if she had liked it. Perhaps he feared shehadn't, perhaps he simply didn't care. He picked up the flashlight,toying with it, as if in hint that they should leave. She looked at himwithout moving. If only she could stay awhile. If only he could grasphow comfortable she was where she was. If only he could guess the kindof reassurance she was seeking.

"Tell me," she said suddenly. "What's going to happen?"

"To happen? Where? How... how do you mean?"

"To all of us.... That's a terrible thing to ask, isn't it? But Ithought you might have some professional ideas. Will the world blowitself up one of these days?"

He smiled. "Some popular-science writers have said so. I don't knowenough to contradict them."

"But you do know something about atomic energy--Einstein--all that?"

"Not much, and even if I did it wouldn't make me a prophet of worldaffairs. I'm just an astronomer."

"I wish I knew what you really thought. If people like you don't give usthe benefit of an honest opinion, no wonder we're all misled by peoplewho aren't honest."

"But is there much value in an unqualified person's opinion? Of course,if you ask if I think there'll be a third world war--that sort ofquestion--I daresay my guess is no worse than anybody else's."

"Do you think there will be?"

"I wouldn't be surprised."

"And if there is, do you think the world will destroy itself?"

"You mean everything go bang all at once? I doubt that. Possiblythere'll be a breakdown of what we now call civilization."

"You don't think the invention of all kinds of horrible weapons willprevent the world from daring to go to war?"

"It never has done so before, though that's no proof that it couldn'thappen."

"But on the whole you'd stick to your first guess that civilization's onits way to suicide?"

"I don't know that I'd put it quite like that----"

"Suicide's an ugly word, isn't it? It's something hardly any of us woulddo individually--and yet collectively, if we take the road we've beenwarned is fatal, what else can you call it?"

"I get your point, and it's not the ugliness of the word I'm chary of,it's the melodrama. If nature abhors a vacuum, I should say that sciencealso abhors a catastrophe. In a sense it's too easy to contemplate."

"I think I know what you mean. Too Jules-Vernal, my husband once said.My first husband," she corrected herself, and then wondered why it hadmattered enough to do so.

He smiled. "Jules-Vernal? Of course, people still believed in progressin those days, so Jules Verne was just a romantic, but today, when everyamateur talks calamity at every cocktail party... I'm sorry--I didn'tmean to sound superior."

"But you probably are superior--that's why I'm asking you these things.Isn't there anything we can do--any of us--you--or even me?"

"That again I don't know. The problem seems to be worrying the bestminds in the world----"

"If they are the best. And you're just an astronomer. So you'll go onwith your work--up here--till the whistle blows?"

"Well, won't movie people go on making pictures----"

"--and bankers go on making money and lawyers go on filing suits andeveryone else go on with whatever they do for a living?"

"Why yes, I expect they will."

She said, after a rather tense pause: "You know, Professor, it allreminds me of a play I was once in--a dreadful thing which we allrealized was dreadful, yet we kept on rehearsing in a sort of hypnotictrance as if we were stuck in a groove of disaster and had to go throughwith it to the end."

"What happened?"

"It flopped--just as we'd all known it would."

"And what do you think could have been done to prevent that?"

"Somebody--maybe me, because I was the star--somebody after the firstrehearsal should have said: 'Are we all crazy?'"

"But if you all were, how would that have helped?"

During the argument his voice had grown colder and more distant, untilthis last remark was more like an answer in ice, a final verdict, than aquestion. Then he got up, as if to change both the temperature and theperspective. She still looked at him without moving. If only she couldstay a little longer...

She said: "I'm not crazy any more like that. I think I would know, now,and warn the others in time.... In time, of course, is the wholepoint. Is there time in the world today? Oh, but there must be. If weneed a miracle we must have one. Suppose you were lost in a cave inpitch-darkness, would you lie down and die or fumble around to try tofind a way out?"

"I'd try to find a way out, because I'd know there was one, sincethere'd been a way in."

"But maybe the way out today isn't the way in. Perhaps that's themistake we've been making." She broke off with a bemused smile. "I don'tknow why I suddenly feel so optimistic. Could it be the altitude? Howhigh is it here?"

He smiled also. "Five thousand seven hundred feet. And that reminds meof something somebody once said--Chesterton, I think--about thedifference between the mathematician and the poet. The mathematiciantries to get the heavens into his head; the poet tries to get his headinto the heavens.... But here, you see, even without being a poet..."

"I have a stepson who's neither and yet he tries to do both," sheinterrupted. The word "stepson," which she could not recall using beforeabout Norris, threw her like a fluffed line in a play, so that she wenton, less securely: "He had an idea to study medicine and go out to sometropical island and doctor the natives. No particular reason except thathe thought he'd rather do it than anything else."

"Then he should. That's one of the best reasons for doing anything."

"I'm so glad to hear you say that."

He was looking at his watch. "I think everything will be ready bynow.... Oh, but before we go--I mustn't forget." He pulled open thedrawer and found the little girl's autograph book. He was the naïve onenow, warmer and closer. "Her first name's Milly--she left it for me towrite in, but when she finds your name too..." He offered his pen.

"Why, of course." She took the book and wrote in it: "For Milly fromCarey Arundel with love. 'Jesu, Son of Man's Desiring.'" And the date.

"It's really most kind of you to take the trouble, Miss Arundel."

"Oh no. No trouble at all. I wish it were always as easy to give alittle pleasure."

Then he saw what she had written. She could see it startled him.

"That's... that's very, nice. But I'll have to explain it to her,won't I?"

"You can show her the label on the record and say you played it heretonight and I wanted to do something, somehow, so that it shouldn't everbe forgotten."

"I wouldn't have forgotten.... Shall we walk over now?"

* * *

He guided her again by flashlight along the pathway that led across therounded hump of the mountaintop to the Observatory. The huge aluminumstructure glistened dimly as they approached it. He began to talk aboutwhat she would presently see, and after she had met his assistant (agood-looking youth named Christianson) his manner became progressivelymore impersonal. It was doubtless the same little lecture he had givento countless other visitors--terse, elementary, decked out with a fewsimple-minded witticisms. He even perpetrated the most obvious ofall--"A star come to look at the stars," he told Christianson. It wasall Miss Arundel this and Miss Arundel that, but she knew that in atruer sense his politeness and admiration stopped short of real concern;she was just a charming inhabitant of a lower world who earned as muchin a week as he did in a year; and he did not care. Out of sheerkindness he would have done as much for her, perhaps more, had she beenMrs. Anybody from Anywhere.

When they left, after an hour or so, he asked if she would like somecoffee, but she felt he hoped she would decline; she had heardChristianson locking up as they walked away, and it occurred to her thatprobably they would both go to bed as soon as she had gone.

Christianson caught up with them as they reached the parking lot. It wasabout a quarter to four. He said: "It's almost dawn. You'll see thesunrise before you're home. Wouldn't you rather have the top up? It'llbe chilly."

"No, I like it open. I'll wear this extra coat."

Lingard helped her on with it. "What a beautiful car! You should hear myold jalopy wheezing and sputtering when I bring it up here.... Mindhow you take the curves."

She put out her hand. "It's been so nice, Professor. I can't tell youhow much I've enjoyed it."

"The firmament or the argument?"

"Both. And Bach too. Now there's a man who had his head in theheavens."

"Yes, and didn't do too badly on earth either. I think he had twentychildren." He laughed and turned to Christianson. "I played my favoriterecord for Miss Arundel while we were waiting. The Chorale."

She laughed back as she answered: "Why, of course, that's why I feeloptimistic. Bach abhors a catastrophe too.... Twenty, did he? Howwonderful!... And please, Professor, do give me a ring when you comedown to earth--either of you, or both of you--I'm probably going awayfairly soon, so don't leave it too long.... Oh dear, I'm not in thebook--I'd better give you my number."

She began fishing in her purse, but he said: "Just tell it to me. I canalways remember numbers."

"You're sure you can? It's Excelsior 16641."

"That's easy. Happens to be the square of 129.... Good night, MissArundel. And thanks again for the autographing."

"Good night.... Good morning, rather. Good-by, Mr. Christianson."

* * *

She started the car and drove away. What she intended to do was not eventhen quite clear in her mind; final decision, like Paul's, might come bychance or caprice, some lightning alchemy of time or place. The music,like the road, like something in her own head, went round and round--andwho would have thought that 16641 was the square of 129? Thatrevelation, with all its hint of things hidden before one's own eyes,made some mental link with the look of emptiness as she turned thedownhill corners; it was almost dawn, but the sky seemed blacker, farmore abysmal than on the way up. No doubt cars had met with accidents ornear-accidents on this road before; the headlights showed up the scuffson the guard rails. No guard rails on the road over the Sally Gap, whereshe had driven once with her mother and Fitzpomp in an old-fashionedhorse-drawn waggonette--skies cloudy-clear, mountains blue-green in thesun shadow, no talk of trouble in those days, so it must have beenbefore the Easter Rebellion; that would make her eleven years old or so.Poor little Fitzpomp with his asthma pills and Gaelic verbs and themuscle-building machine... Those walks with him, her little girl'shand in his, sometimes through the fields beside the Dodder, or alongthe Blessington road where the steam tram tooted a greeting as itpassed.... And then the final scene, obliterating all others when shelet herself think of it... the house in Terenure that Sunday morning,poor little Fitzpomp, leaving her that letter... unwilling for her tothink (even if she could) that it was all a mishap--unwilling to quitthe play without the fullest value of an exit. And the quote fromSeneca--the stoic quote--"One cannot complain of life, for it keeps noone against his will." Perhaps, though, if one had acted professionallyin life, one could more easily resist that last temptation--as a goodactor will sometimes, for the sheer selflessness of it, take his leaveas unmemorably as he can. Or perhaps if one had (to use Paul's phrase) aready-made audience for the next thing one did, no matter what it was,one could choose that next thing, no matter what it was, with some deepregard for others.... Poor Fitzpomp, with no ready-made audience atall.... She saw in passing that at one point the guard rail wasbroken; maybe some car had actually gone through. She thought of thecrash, the curving fall, the few seconds of being almost airborne...she remembered a scene like that in a movie, a car upturned at the footof a cliff, its occupants dead, but a radio freakishly undamaged andmusic--dance music--going round and round.... She switched on her owncar radio. Sure enough, dance music. Then, after a moment, anearly-morning news bulletin: Berlin... President Truman... theIron Curtain... a sentence that made her laugh aloud. "Mother Naturewent on a rampage yesterday in our nation's capital." How Paul wouldenjoy that. Mother Nature went on a rampage. She had always had farmore time for radio listening than he, and had gathered these flowerswhenever she chanced on them and offered them to him like nosegays. Shemust remember that one, if... if, that is, she ever saw him again.Then suddenly she heard his name.

* * *

As soon as she realized that he was at that moment quite probably injail, she felt cool, rather indignant, and also very slightly amused.Apparently no one had been hurt: just a few fenders dented; it was not aserious case. But she was indignant, because she knew he could not havebeen drunk; he never did drink too much--he had got over all hisexcesses in youth, he always said contemptuously, but that of course didnot include his central excess of being exactly what he was. She couldimagine that this might be what had caused the trouble with the police.It had been the same, once, in New York--and then there had been thatmore serious trouble in London, when only the judge had finally believedhim. He would certainly not have been at his best on his way home fromthat Critics' Dinner.

She reached the corner where the mountain road joined the main highway;from there the driving was much safer, with easier curves and fewercliffs; the sky too was lightening a little. All at once she felluncontrollably sleepy. She pinched herself to keep her eyes open tillshe came to a roadside space behind some trees. There she parked and putthe top up, intending to take no more than a short nap, but when shewoke there was bright sunshine and it was ten A.M. by her wrist watch.

Dismayed by having lost so much time she drove on, listening to theradio for more news about Paul. But there was nothing except a mentionthat the case would come up that morning--might possibly, she surmised,be in progress at that very moment. Some of the more important bulletinsignored the matter altogether, and this reminded her that it was not,after all, an earth-shaking event. That was the trouble with this movieworld; its own belief that it tremendously mattered was more infectiousthan one realized.

Suddenly she laughed aloud as she had laughed on the way down themountain in darkness, but this time at something that occurred to her.Mr. Hare had asked about Paul threatening her with a gun, and she hadfound the question completely mystifying till now she recalled thatstudio lunch hour when in her dressing room Paul had rehearsed theshooting scene from his old German picture, taking the man's parthimself and picking up one of the metal tubes that his cigars came in.Someone must have seen and heard all that from a distance.... Howabsurd!... She wished she had thought of the explanation in time totell Mr. Hare. And that reminded her of several appointments thatmorning--publicity at the studio, lunch with Mr. Hare... of courseshe could not keep either of them, she must see Paul first. It came toher quite naturally now that she must see him as soon as she could, justto say she was not particularly angry (as everyone would assure him shewas). And because everyone would assure her she ought to be, she did notwant to see or talk to anyone else before seeing him. She would let himknow she had been a little upset at the time, but after all... did itmatter? What did matter? Did anything matter? Poor little Fitzpomphad probably taken his own life because he thought that nothingmattered. On the other hand it was possible to think so quite happily ifthere were only the merest loophole, one's own private somethingtucked away in mind--like Bach, or even the square roots of telephonenumbers....

* * *

When she reached the streets she stopped at a drugstore for coffee andalso to telephone Paul at his apartment. She hardly expected him to beback there yet, but it was just possible. She did not leave her name,and the desk clerk (meaningfully, she thought) said he had not been insince the previous day. She drove on through the suburbs. The noon newson the radio told her that the case had ended in a fifty-dollar fine.Not so bad. She telephoned his apartment again from quite close; stillhe was out. Then she parked across the street and waited. If he did notcome within an hour or two she would try some other way.

He came within half an hour, driving up in a taxi, alone. She made aU-turn, meeting the curb behind the taxi; the man saw her maneuver andwas about to drive off again when Paul also saw her and made some wildgesture. "Here---- Here!" she called out, holding open the door of hercar while Paul fumbled with money on the pavement. Why on earth doesn'the give the man a five or a ten quickly, she thought; but that, too, waslike Paul--a big tip, which came from him often, was an expression ofhis mood, not of any need to get special service. At last he had countedit out and was clambering into the seat next to her. "I thought at firstyou were someone from a paper," he began breathlessly, with no hello orgreeting and no seeming surprise that she was there. "But I guessthey've had all they can use."

"Sure," she said, making a fast gear change. "You've given them all theycan use."

But then, as she turned the car round the block and headed west alongthe coast highway, she eyed him sideways and thought he looked ratherill as well as tired and unkempt; and that made her continue, lessseverely: "The best way to talk is to drive--that is, if you want totalk. I don't know what you want, but I didn't think you'd get muchpeace today at your apartment. But it'll all die down soon, don't worry.You're not that important."

"You'd have thought so this morning--from the crowd. The judge got madat them."

There was just the faintest twinkle of pride as he said that, and itannoyed her.

"Did you count the house?" she asked, and that annoyed him. As so oftenwhen they met they had to go through this phase of mutual annoyance. Shewent on: "Tell me what happened."

He gave her what she expected and had thought she might as well get overonce and for all--a vivid description of an innocent man's martyrdom.She could judge that from the moment the police arrested him he had madethings as unpleasant for himself as possible--refusing to call a lawyeror post a bond. "I thought I might as well get the full value of anexperience out of it," he said. "And I did, and it was interesting.Quite horribly interesting, Carey. It gave me an idea for a modernInferno--the purely visual degradation----"

He went on with the details and she wished she hadn't started thesubject; a modern Inferno was just an idea for him to forget, if onlybecause he was always personally influenced by the current enthusiasm ofhis mind. She interrupted him to say: "You'd like a wash and a shave anda good long rest, I imagine."

"No, don't stop yet. I'm glad you met me like this. And you're rightabout the apartment--I wouldn't get any peace there. They don't like me.They'd let anybody up to disturb me."

"You don't look very well."

"My God, did you expect me to bloom after a night in a tank with a lotof drunks and perverts? Sorry--I didn't mean to snap at you. To tell youthe truth, the whole thing excited me--gave me a headache too. One ofthose bad ones. Of course not from drinking."

"I know. I knew it couldn't really be that. Why did the police think itwas?"

"Ach... those fellows. I couldn't walk in a straight line. And it'sa fact, I couldn't. Any more than I could park the car. I never was goodat that, anyhow."

"Are you hungry?"

"No, but I'd like some coffee."

"We'll stop somewhere."

"We'll be recognized."

"I doubt it. And what if we are? Who cares?"

"I'll pull my hat down."

"It isn't you they're likely to recognize."

"No? After all the photographs in the papers? You know how they do it,Carey? The man with the camera squats on his heels and shoots upwardsthrough the bars, so that the nostrils gape and the eyebrow shadowsreach halfway across the forehead. And then, God help them, they say thecamera can't lie. Of course it can lie. Because the Eye can lie. In thebeginning was the Eye. Long before the Word. The Eye can tell no moretruth than the brain behind it--the Eye lied when the first caveman sawa shape one night and hurled a spear and found he'd killed his wifeinstead of a saber-toothed tiger!"

"Perhaps they were rather hard to tell apart," she said, and then wenton: "Oh Paul, I must tell you something I heard on the radio thismorning. Apparently there was a big wind blowing in Washington and thenews announcer said 'Mother Nature went on a rampage in our nation'scapital.' I thought you'd enjoy that."

He did, as she had guessed, but then seemed abruptly deflated. "Rampage,rampage," he muttered. "You think that's a good word for something I goon at times?"

"Yes, I do."

They stopped at a roadside place where there was as good a chance ofbeing unrecognized as anywhere, and she persuaded him to have a bowl ofsoup as well as coffee. The heat and stuffiness of the place made himinstantly drowsy; his eyes kept closing and she noticed that in bringingthe spoon to his mouth he often touched his cheek first, as if his handwas not in perfect co-ordination. She remarked on this, as casually asshe could. "Do you know you do that, Paul?"

He replied rather crossly: "No, and what of it?" Then he smiled inapology. "Reminds me of the only time I tried to play golf. Greg took meround at Carmel. I simply couldn't hit the ball. Not once."

That didn't astonish her so much as the fact that Greg had eversucceeded in putting a club in his hand and getting him onto a course.And then she remembered Interlaken: Paul in shorts, gathering wildflowers in a wood. The things he would do under stress of a personalenthusiasm--for Wanda then, for Greg recently... She said: "Anyhow,I'm glad Greg made you take some physical exercise."

He said gloomily: "He won't again. I'm through with him."

"What? With Greg?"

"After last night you bet I am. For him to talk to me like that--justbecause I made a speech he hadn't either the brains or the guts toswallow! What would he be without me, I'd like to know?"

"Pretty much what he is now, darling--a successful movie actor."

"But Morning Journey's given him a new reputation--the first picturehe's ever got an award for--the nearest he ever came in his life to areal acting performance----"

"And the worst picture you ever made, don't forget. You really are a bitinconsistent, Paul. Does this mean, then, that you're not going abroadwith Greg as you planned?"

"That's all out of the question now."

"So what will you do?"

"I don't know," he answered heavily. "I only know I want to get awaysomeplace."

"There's one thing I'd like you to do," she went on, with as much and aslittle emphasis as she dared. "Have a checkup with a doctor. The one whosaw you at the studio said you ought, but you never did. I wish youwould, Paul. You're not young any more." She added quickly: "Neither amI."

She paid the bill and they left the restaurant. There had been nomention so far of where they were driving to, or for how long. They weresome twenty or thirty miles out, she wasn't quite sure where. She droveon, as the only alternative to turning back, and after another few milesduring which he was silent she saw that his head had slumped forward.This was not unusual when he was being driven, but now for some reasonshe stopped the car and looked at him intently. That made him wake up.

"You were asleep," she said.

"I guess I didn't sleep at all last night."

"Neither did I--till early this morning. Then I slept in the car by theroadside. I can have adventures too, can't I? I'll tell you all about itif... Or no, sleep if you'd rather." Then she felt, still watchinghim, a sudden tightness in her voice. He looked so worn, so shop-soiled;maybe it was the late sunlight, shining in his face as they drove west,spotlight on Lear in a not too good production. "Oh Paul, anything youlike if only you don't get ill. Will you do what I ask and see adoctor?"

Weakly, surprisingly, he nodded.

"When, darling?"

"Any time."

"Now?"

He half-nodded, and she drove on to the next doctor as if it had been tothe next gas station. It was beginning to be dusk.

* * *

The doctor was intelligent, exact, and considerably interested in histwo chance visitors. Also he was clearly not a movie fan. She enteredhis unpretentious office first, leaving Paul in the waiting room, dozingoff. There were no other patients waiting and she rather gathered shehad found him in by chance at such an hour. Paul's general appearanceand need of sleep were not unnatural after the kind of night he hadspent, but of course she had to think of some other explanation to tellthe doctor. "We're touring," she said, "and I think it's been too muchfor him. He has a bad headache. Perhaps it's the heat... but I'm alittle worried and I thought..."

"And the name?" he said, pulling a pad towards him.

"Mrs. Bond."

"Well, we'll have a look at him." He left his desk and opened the doorto the waiting room. Carey went past him towards Paul. She touchedPaul's shoulder but he did not move; he was breathing heavily, snoring alittle, the head sagging on the chest. The doctor walked across. "Iguess your father's taking a real nap," he said, stooping over Paul witha smile.

"He's not my father." She had spoken before she could check herself.

"Oh?"

"He's..." She had to say something now. "He's my husband."

The doctor was already shaking Paul more vigorously. At last Paulwakened, blinked to find where he was, then with a sharp shift togentleness and courtesy, apologized to the doctor. The latter kept onsmiling. "That's all right, Mr. Bond." Still only half awake as hestaggered into the office on the doctor's arm, Paul did not seem tonotice.

* * *

He went out to the car afterwards, while she talked to the doctor.

"Quite a sick man you've got, Mrs. Bond," he began, and her heart fellthrough the guard rail into some abyss of its own.

"He is?" she stammered foolishly. "He... he really is?"

"I'd advise you to call off your holiday and get him home. Then put himin the care of his regular doctor. Maybe you should take the train ifyou've come a long way."

"Oh no, not far--just from... inside the state."

He looked as if he expected her to say more. "Well, don't do any moretraveling today. Take him to some hotel--the Bristol up the road isn'tso bad--and let him have a good long sleep. He said he didn't get anylast night. Were you driving late?"

"No... no...."

"He seems quite exhausted."

"Yes... but... It's not... Is it, I mean... Is it anythingvery serious?"

"If he doesn't get rest it could be."

"But with rest... he'll be all right?"

"There's a very good chance of it.... What does he do for a living?"

"He's--he's in business."

"For himself?"

"Oh yes." Even at such a moment she could not help thinking wryly howwell the phrase suited all Paul's activities since he was born.

"That's fortunate--he can take things easily, then, if he wants to. Menlike him at his age are a problem--if they were working men they'd beglad enough to retire, but because they have their own business to runthey----"

"He's not so old," she interrupted.

"He told me sixty-three."

It was on her tongue to exclaim: "What? Why, he's onlyfifty-three!"--but then she thought there was little point indeveloping the issue. She said: "Well, that's not so very old"--and allthe time she was wondering why on earth Paul had added ten years to hisage. Was it because of some twisted vanity that made him want to hearthe comment: "You certainly don't look it"? But the tragic thing wasthat he did look it; to be sure of the pleasing answer he should haveadded twenty years.

"Has he been under any particular strain lately?" the doctor was asking.

"Well yes, he..." She managed to check herself this time. "His life'smore or less all strain--the way he works."

He was clearly puzzled by her reticences, but as they continued to talkshe felt that his own were at least as great. She said at last: "Youhaven't really told me what's the matter with him, have you?"

"I'd rather your own doctor do that when there's been a chance to make acomplete examination."

"That... sounds... rather frightening. I wish you could give mesome idea."

He scrutinized her.

"I'd rather know, whatever it is," she went on. "I'm that kind ofperson."

"Well... if you won't let the word scare you... it looks to me hemay have had a slight stroke recently."

"Is that... possible?"

"Without knowing it, you mean? Yes, if it was only very slight. Certainsymptoms... But there again, your own doctor..."

She paid the fee, thanked him, heard his final words of advice ("Take iteasy on the trip"), then went out to the car. It was dark by then. Paulwas fast asleep and she drove on till she saw the hotel. When shestopped and he wakened she could see he was unaware they had traveledfurther. He said, as if she had just come out of the doctor's office:"Overwork and high blood pressure. That's all he told me. He tell youanything else?"

"About the same."

"And how much was the bill for all that?"

"Ten dollars."

"He must have seen the car." It was always his contention since she hadrented a Cadillac that everyone would overcharge her. "Nice fellow,though. I like Mexicans. He told me this town is a third Mexican."

"He told me you must rest, Paul."

"I know, I know."

"Then you start resting... now."

He let her take him into the hotel, and book rooms, and sign theregister as she had always done when they had traveled together, andwhen he entered the bedroom he went straight to the window and pulledthe curtains, ready to fulminate if there were no screens. But therewere screens. Then he strode through the bathroom to her bedroom andcame back and lay on the bed in his own room and lit a cigar. "I askedif I could smoke and he said two a day. I'll bet he didn't know how bigthese are."

She pulled a chair close to where his arm would swing down and put anash tray on it.

"So this is the Bristol," he said, contemplating the ceiling. "Rememberthe Bristol in Vienna? No, you weren't with me then.... But this isanother kind of Bristol. Spittoons in the lobby polished every morning.My ideal of cleanliness.... Oh dear, I'm sorry I'm so sleepy. I'll beall right tomorrow. What do we do then?"

"I don't know. We'll settle that when tomorrow comes. This is today."

"And what a day, from start to finish!... How kind you are to me.Carey."

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"A hundred reasons if you weren't you."

"But I am, I always am."

He was silent for a few moments, then said: "D'you think I'll ever beable to do any work again?"

"Of course you will."

"I wonder...."

He had spoken so sadly and sincerely, not dramatically at all, that shesat down on the bed and took the hand that did not hold the cigar. Shethought with calmness: if he dies, what will I do? Will I be free orwill freedom be another kind of bondage to all I can remember? Becauseso long as he's alive, anywhere, with anybody... and if that be love,let it flow from me to him whenever he needs it, as now.... Oh Paul,why did I ever meet you if it were not for this, yet why did I ever meetyou if it were only for this? So I'm back at last, or you are, itdoesn't matter which, but it's late, isn't it?... it's so terriblylate....

She whispered: "You will work again when you're rested enough. I'll helpyou, I'll be with you--you know you can count on me. I can worktoo--I'll do another picture or a stage play or something. And one ofthese days, darling, but not yet--because you need that long rest--oneof these days, though, you'll make that picture about children youtalked of--the one where the camera itself is a child--you were going totell me about it once when someone came in and interrupted... don'tyou remember?"

He seemed not to at first, but soon he either did so or else began tothink about it as if it were a new idea. She did not want to excite him,but the look that came into his face was the look of life itself and itbrought life to her. "I think I'd shoot from three feet above theground," he muttered. "Everything in a child's eye view--a child'sproportion--a smile makes the sun shine twice as bright--we could get alighting effect for that... and the eye widening like alens--everything big when it loves something--an apple, a toy, themother's breast, a dog as big as a horse...."

He closed his eyes, sighing contentedly. After a little while she knewhe was asleep again, so she took the cigar from his hand and laid itdown.







[End of Morning Journey, by James Hilton]