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Title: Cass Timberlane (1945)
Author: Sinclair Lewis
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Title: Cass Timberlane (1945)
Author: Sinclair Lewis

A NOVEL OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES




The scene of this story, the small city of Grand Republic in
Central Minnesota, is entirely imaginary, as are all the
characters.

But I know that the characters will be "identified," each of them
with several different real persons in each of the Minnesota cities
in which I have happily lingered: in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Winona,
St. Cloud, Mankato, Fergus Falls and particularly, since it is only
a little larger than "Grand Republic" and since I live there, in
the radiant, sea-fronting, hillside city of Duluth.

All such guesses will be wrong, but they will be so convincing that
even the writer will be astonished to learn how exactly he has
drawn some judge or doctor or banker or housewife of whom he has
never heard, or regretful to discover how poisonously he is
supposed to have described people of whom he is particularly fond.

SINCLAIR LEWIS




1


Until Jinny Marshland was called to the stand, the Judge was
deplorably sleepy.

The case of Miss Tilda Hatter vs. the City of Grand Republic had
been yawning its way through testimony about a not very interesting
sidewalk.  Plaintiff's attorney desired to show that the city had
been remarkably negligent in leaving upon that sidewalk a certain
lump of ice which, on February 7, 1941, at or about the hour of
9:37 P.M., had caused the plaintiff to slip, to slide, and to be
prone upon the public way, in a state of ignominy and sore pain.
There had been an extravagant amount of data as to whether the lump
of ice had been lurking sixteen, eighteen, or more than eighteen
feet from the Clipper Hardware Store.  And all that May afternoon
the windows had been closed, to keep out street noises, and the
court room had smelled, as it looked, like a schoolroom.

Timberlane, J., was in an agony of drowsiness.  He was faithful
enough, and he did not miss a word, but he heard it all as in sleep
one hears malignant snoring.

He was a young judge: the Honorable Cass Timberlane, of the Twenty-
Second Judicial District, State of Minnesota.  He was forty-one,
and in his first year on the bench, after a term in Congress.  He
was a serious judge, a man of learning, a believer in the majesty
of the law, and he looked like a tall Red Indian.  But he was
wishing that he were out bass-fishing, or at home, reading Walden
or asleep on a cool leather couch.

Preferably asleep.

All the spectators in the room, all five of them, were yawning and
chewing gum.  The learned counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Hervey
Plint, the dullest lawyer in Grand Republic, a middle-aged man with
a miscellaneous sort of face, was questioning Miss Hatter.  He was
a word-dragger, an uh'er, a looker to the ceiling for new thoughts.

"Uh--Miss Hatter, now will you tell us what was the--uh--the
purpose of your going out, that evening--I mean, I mean how did you
happen to be out on an evening which--I think all the previous
testimony agrees that it was, well, I mean, uh, you might call it
an inclement evening, but not such as would have prevented the, uh,
the adequate cleaning of the thoroughfares--"

"Jekshn leading quest," said the city attorney.

"Jekshn stained," said the Court.

"I will rephrase my question," confided Mr. Plint.  He was a
willing rephraser, but the phrases always became duller and duller
and duller.

Sitting above them on the bench like Chief Iron Cloud, a lean
figure of power, the young father of his people, Judge Timberlane
started to repeat the list of presidents, a charm which usually
would keep him awake.  He got through it fairly well, stumbling
only on Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore, as was reasonable,
but he remained as sleepy as ever.

Without missing any of Miss Hatter's more spectacular statements,
His Honor plunged into the Counties of Minnesota, all eighty-seven
of them, with their several county-seats:


Aitkin--Aitkin
Anoka--Anoka
Becker--Detroit Lakes
Beltrami--Bemidji


He had reached "Olmsted--Rochester" when he perceived that Miss
Hatter had gone back to her natural mummy-case, and the clerk was
swearing in a witness who pricked His Honor into wakefulness.

--How did I ever miss seeing her, in a city as small as this?
Certainly not four girls in town that are as pretty, he reflected.

The new witness was a half-tamed hawk of a girl, twenty-three or
-four, not tall, smiling, lively of eye.  The light edged gently
the clarity of her cheeks, but there was something daring in her
delicate Roman nose, her fierce black hair.  Her gray suit
indicated prosperity, which in Grand Republic was respectability.

--Be an exciting kid to know, thought Timberlane, J., that purist
and precisionist and esteemed hunter of ducks, that chess-player
and Latinist, who was a man unmarried--at least, unmarried since
his recent and regrettable divorce.

The young woman alighted on the oak witness-chair like a swallow on
a tombstone.

Counselor Plint said gloomily, "Will you please just give us your,
uh, your name and profession and address, please?"

"Jinny Marshland--Virginia Marshland.  I'm draftsman and designer
for the Fliegend Fancy Box and Pasteboard Toy Manufacturing
Company, and a kind of messenger--man of all work."

"Residence, please."

"I live up in Pioneer Falls, mostly.  I was born there, and I
taught school there for a while.  But you mean here in Grand
Republic?  I live with Miss Hatter, at 179 1/2 West Flandrau
Street."

Profoundly, as one who doubts the eternal course of the planets,
Mr. Plint worried, "You board with Miss Hatter?"

"Yes, sir."

Jinny and Judge Cass Timberlane looked at each other.  He had been
approving her voice.  He loved his native city of Grand Republic,
and esteemed the housewifery and true loyal hearts of its 43,000
daughters, but it disturbed him that so many of them had voices
like the sound of a file being drawn across the edge of a sheet of
brass.  But Miss Marshland's voice was light and flexible and
round.

--I WOULD fall for a girl merely because she has fine ankles and a
clear voice, I who have maintained that the most wretched error in
all romances is this invariable belief that because a girl has a
good nose and a smooth skin, therefore she will be agreeable to
live with and--well, make love to.  The insanity that causes even
superior men (meaning judges) to run passionately after magpies
with sterile hearts.  This, after the revelations of female
deception I've seen in divorce proceedings.  I am corrupted by
sentimentality.

Mr. Plint was fretting his bone.  "Now, uh, Miss--Miss Marshland.
Oh, yes, precisely.  Now as I was saying, Miss Marshland, several
people have testified that there was a party--anyway, there were
several guests at the Hatter residence that evening, and there was
more or less eating and drinking, and what we want to know is, was
there any sign--uh--I mean any sign of intoxicating beverages being
consumed, I mean, particularly by Miss Hatter herself?"

"No, she drank a coke.  I might take a cocktail sometimes, but I'm
sure Miss Hatter never touches a drop."

Charles Sayward, the city attorney, was roused from slumber to
protest, "I move the testimony be stricken, as hearsay and
irrelevant."

Judge Timberlane said gravely, "I must grant that motion, Mr.
Sayward, but don't you think you're being a little technical?"

"It is my humble understanding of court procedure, Your Honor, that
it is entirely technical."

(On the Heather Club golf course they called each other "Charles"
and "Cass.")

"On the other hand, Mr. City Attorney, you know that here in the
Middlewest we pride ourselves on being less formal than the stately
tribunals of Great Britain and our traditional East.  I may be so
bold as to say that even in court, we're almost human, and that on
a day like this--you may not have noticed it, Mr. City Attorney,
but it is somewhat somnolent--then we frequently permit any
testimony that will give this jury--"  He smiled at the honest but
bored citizens, "an actual picture of the issue.  However," and now
he smiled at Jinny, "I think you'd better confine yourself to
answering the questions, without comment, Miss Marshland.  Motion
granted.  Continue, Mr. Plint."

As Jinny went on, without noticeably obeying the Court's command,
Cass felt that the court-room air was fresher, that there might
actually be some life and purpose to court proceedings.  She was
perhaps twenty-four to his forty-one, but he insisted that Jinny
and he were young together, and in antagonism to the doddering Mr.
Plint, the cobwebbed and molding Charles Sayward (who was thirty-
five, by the records) and the Assyrian antiquity of the jury.

He wanted to lean over the sharp oak edge of his lofty desk and
demand of Jinny, "See here.  You know the jury will give the Hatter
woman approximately half of whatever she's suing for, no matter
what nonsense we grind out.  Let's go off and forget all this.  I
want to talk to you, and make it clear that I can be light-minded
and companionable."

But it came to him that this would not be the way to impress Jinny.
She thought that he was a judge and a venerable figure; she
probably thought that he was more columnar than her young suitors
with their dancing and babble.  He straightened, he placed his
right forefinger senatorially against his cheek, he cleared his
throat, and for her, glancing down to see if he was successfully
fooling her, he pretended that he was a judge on a bench.

She was explaining, to Mr. Plint's prompting, that she boarded at
Miss Hatter's, along with Tracy Oleson (secretary to that
industrial titan, Mr. Wargate), Lyra Coggs the librarian, Eino
Roskinen, and three other young people.  They were artistic and
pretty refined.  No indeed, they never got drunk, and if Tilda
Hatter slipped on any ole lump of ice, that lump of ice was meant
to be slipped on.  Yes, she liked working for the Fliegend Company.
She wasn't, she beamed, much of a draftsman, but Mr. and Mrs.
Fliegend were so kind.  She liked it better than schoolteaching;
you had to be so solemn in school.

She was not loquacious so much as gay and natural.  It was all
fantastically irregular, but City Attorney Sayward had given up
trying to check her, and he looked up at Judge Timberlane with
humorous helplessness.  The jury yearned over her as though they
were her collective parent, and Counselor Plint had a notion,
though he didn't know how in the world it had come about, that she
was a useful witness.

Only George Hame, the court reporter, was unmoved, as he made his
swift symbols in a pulpy-looking notebook.  To George, all accents
and all moods, the shrieks of the widows of murdered bootleggers,
the droning of certified accountants explaining crooked ledgers,
the grumble of Finnish or Polish homesteaders, were the same.  What
was said never seemed the important thing to George, but whether he
got it all down.  The judge, his captain, could be unprofessionally
enlivened by an unnecessary girl witness, after only five months on
the bench, but George did not believe in women.  He had a wife
unremittingly productive of babies, for whose assembly-belt
production he felt only accidentally responsible, and after sixteen
years of court reporting, all witnesses, pretty or otherwise, were
to him merely lumps of potato in a legal hash that was nourishing
but tedious.

Jinny Marshland finished her testimony, smiled at Cass, smiled at
Tilda Hatter, and slipped out of the court room like a trout
flicking down a stream.  The case reverted to mumbling, and the
Judge reverted to the list of Minnesota counties and to a
sleepiness which made his shoulders ache, his eyes feel dusty and
swollen.  With his right hand, the large hand of a woodsman or a
hunter, he gravely stroked the lapel of his dark-gray jacket,
smoothed his painfully refined dark-blue tie, as he repeated:


Otter Tail County--Fergus Falls
Pennington--Thief River Falls
Pine--Pine City
Pipestone--Pipestone


Till half an hour ago he had been proud of the court room; of his
high oak desk, jutting into the room like a prow, with a silken
American flag, topped with a small gold eagle, erected beside the
Judge's leather chair.  He had been proud of the carved seal of
Minnesota on the oak paneling behind the bench; of the restful
dark-gray plaster walls; of the resplendently shiny oak benches,
though they were hard upon the restless anatomy of the aching
public.  He had felt secure and busy, for this was his workshop,
his studio, his laboratory, in which he was an artist-scientist,
contributing to human progress and honor.

Now it was a stuffy coop, absurdly small for a court room, barely
able to hold eighty people when crowded.  Such portions of the
Eternal Law as were represented by the Statutes of the State of
Minnesota seemed dreary today, and he wanted to be out in the May
breeze, walking with Jinny Marshland.

Cass was considered a conscientious judge, but he adjourned today
at five minutes before the usual four o'clock.  He could eat no
more bran.

Before he could hasten out into the open air, however, he still had
half an hour of chamber work.  He was rather proud of Chambers No.
3, Radisson County Court House.  On his election, when he had taken
the room over, it already looked scholarly and solid, with a cliff
of law-books, a long oak table, a council of black leather chairs,
and he had added the framed photographs of Justices Holmes,
Cardozo, and Brandeis . . . and of the historic bag of ducks that
Dr. Roy Drover and he had shot in 1939.  On his portly desk was a
handsome bronze inkwell which he never used, and a stupendous
bronze automatic cigar-lighter--a gift--which he had always
disliked.

He had to sign an injunction, to talk with a Swede who desired to
be naturalized.  Young Vincent Osprey, who overlaid with a high
Yale Law School gloss a dullness almost equal to that of Mr. Hervey
Plint, brought in a woman client, on the theory that she wanted
wholesome advice about her coming divorce suit.  She did not want
advice; she wanted to get rid of her present spouse so that she
could marry another with a more powerful kiss.  But in most
judicial districts of Minnesota, domestic-relations procedure is as
fatherly and informal as a physician's consultation, and Cass held
forth to her.

"Mrs. Nelson, a woman or a man has only four or five real
friendships in his whole life.  To lose one of them is to lose a
chance to give and to trust.  Am I being too discursive?"

"I t'ink so."

"Well look, Mrs. Carlson--"

"Mrs. Nelson."

"--Nelson.  Look.  In a divorce, the children are terrified.  Have
you any children?"

"Not by Nelson."

Judge Timberlane glanced at Mr. Osprey and shook his head.  The
lawyer yelped, "All right, Mrs. Nelson, you skip along now.  That's
all His Honor has to say."

When they were alone, Cass turned to Osprey, and it was to be seen
that Osprey was his admirer.

"No use, Vince.  Let it go through.  I figure she's hot to gallop
to another marriage-bed.  Otherwise I'd give her a red-hot lecture
on the humiliations of divorce.  I will facilitate any divorce, in
case of cruelty--or extreme boredom, which is worse--but, Vince,
divorce is hell.  Don't you ever divorce Cerise, no matter how
extravagant you say she is."

"You bet your life I wouldn't, Chief.  I'm crazy about that girl."

"You're lucky.  If it weren't for my work, my life would be as
empty as a traitor's after a war.  Ever since Blanche divorced me--
why, Vince, I have nobody to show my little tin triumphs to.  I
envy Cerise and you.  And I don't seem to find any girl that will
take Blanche's place."

As he spoke, Cass was reflecting that, after all, Jinny Marshland
was just another migratory young woman.

"But what about Christabel Grau, Chief?  I thought you and she were
half engaged," bubbled Vincent Osprey.

"Oh, Chris is a very kind girl.  I guess that's the trouble.  I
apparently want somebody who's so intelligent that she'll think I'm
stupid, so independent that she'll never need me, so gay and daring
that she'll think I'm slow.  That's my pattern, Vince; that's my
fate."



2


The city of Grand Republic, Radisson County, Minnesota, eighty
miles north of Minneapolis, seventy-odd miles from Duluth, has
85,000 population.

It is large enough to have a Renoir, a school-system scandal,
several millionaires, and a slum.  It lies in the confluent valleys
where the Big Eagle River empties into the Sorshay River, which
flows west to the Mississippi.

Grand Republic grew rich two generations ago through the uncouth
robbery of forests, iron mines, and soil for wheat.  With these
almost exhausted, it rests in leafy quiet, wondering whether to
become a ghost town or a living city.  The Chamber of Commerce says
that it has already become a city, but, in secret places where the
two bankers on the school board cannot hear them, the better
schoolteachers deny this.

At least there is in Grand Republic a remarkable number of private
motor cars.  It was a principal cause of his reputation for
eccentricity that Cass Timberlane, on amiable spring days, walked
the entire mile and a quarter from the court house to his home.

He climbed up Joseph Renshaw Brown Way to Ottawa Heights, on which
were the Renoir and the millionaires and most of the houses
provided with Architecture.

He looked down on the Radisson County Court House, in which was his
own court room, and he did not shudder.  He was fondly accustomed
to its romanticism and blurry inconvenience.

It had been built in 1885 from the designs of an architect who was
drunk upon Howard Pyle's illustrations to fairy tales.  It was of a
rich red raspberry brick trimmed with limestone, and it displayed a
round tower, an octagonal tower, a minaret, a massive entrance with
a portcullis, two lofty flying balconies of iron, colored-glass
windows with tablets or stone petals in the niches above them, a
green and yellow mosaic roof with scarlet edging, and the
breathless ornamental stairway from the street up to the main
entrance without which no American public building would be
altogether legal.

Cass knew that it was as archaic as armor and even less comfortable,
yet he loved it as a symbol of the ancient and imperial law.  It
was his Westminster, his Sorbonne; it was the one place in which he
was not merely a male in vulgar trousers, but a spiritual force
such as might, with a great deal of luck and several hundreds of
years, help to make of Grand Republic another Edinburgh.

He had, too, an ancestral proprietary right in this legal palace,
for his father had started off his furniture business (wholesale as
well as retail, and therefore noble) by providing most of the
chairs and desks for the court house.

When he had reached Varennes Boulevard, circling along the cliffs
on top of Ottawa Heights, Cass could see the whole city, the whole
valley, with the level oat and barley fields on the uplands beyond.
The Big Eagle River came in from the south, bearing the hot
murmurous air from the great cornfields, from the country of the
vanquished Sioux; the Sorshay River, which had been called the
Sorcier by the coureurs de bois, two hundred years ago, wound from
a northern darkness of swamp and lakes and impenetrable jackpine
thickets, the country of the tawny Chippewas.

At the junction of the rivers was the modern city, steel and cement
and gasoline and electricity, as contemporary as Chicago if but
one-fortieth the size and devoid of the rich raucousness of the
Loop.  The limestone magnificence of the Wargate Memorial
Auditorium and the titanic Blue Ox National Bank Building (no less
than twelve stories), the carved and educated granite of the
Alexander Hamilton High School, the Pantheon of the Duluth & Twin
Cities Railroad Station, the furnaces and prodigious brick sheds of
the Wargate Wood Products Corporation plant and a setting of
smaller factories, were all proofs of the Chamber of Commerce's
assertion that in a short time, perhaps twenty years or twenty
centuries, Grand Republic would have a million inhabitants.

But beyond the tracks, along the once navigable Sorshay River, the
wooden warehouses and shaky tenements were so like the frontier
village of seventy-five years ago that you imagined the wooden
sidewalks of the 1860's and the streets a churning of mud, with
Chippewa squaws and Nova Scotia lumbermen in crimson jackets and
weekly murder with axe handles.  Very untidy.

Indeed Mrs. Kenny Wargate, Manhattan-born and cynical daughter-in-
law of the Ruling Family, asserted that Grand Republic had leaped
from clumsy youth to senility without ever having a dignified
manhood.  She jeered, "Your Grand Republic slogan is: tar-paper
shanty to vacant parking lot in three generations."

But Judge Timberlane and his friends, loving the place as home,
believed that just now, after woes and failures and haste and waste
and experiment, Grand Republic was beginning to build up a kind of
city new to the world, a city for all the people, a city for
decency and neighborliness, not for ecclesiastical display and
monarchial power and the chatter of tamed journalists and
professors drinking coffee and eating newspapers in cafes.  And if
so many of the pioneers had been exploiters and slashers of the
forest, the Wargates had been and now were builders of industries
that meant homes and food for hundreds of immigrant families from
the fiords, from New England hills.

Cass often pondered thus as he walked along Varennes Boulevard.  As
he rounded a curve of the bluff-top, he could look northward, and
there, at the city's edge, was the true Northland, in the stretches
of pine and birch and poplar that framed the grim eye of Dead Squaw
Lake.  And he loved it as he could never love the lax and steamy
and foolishly laughing isles he had once seen in the Caribbean.



Through all of his meditation ran his startled remembrance of Jinny
Marshland on the witness stand.  He was still indignant that in a
city so small as Grand Republic he had never seen her.

But he knew that, for all his talk at public dinners about
Midwestern Democracy, the division between the proprietors and the
serfs was as violent in Grand Republic as in London.  The
truckdriver might call Boone Havock, the contractor, "Boone," when
they met in the Eitelfritz Brauhaus (as with remarkable frequency
they did meet), but he would never enter Boone's house or his
church, and as for Boone's asylum, the Federal Club, neither the
truckdriver nor any Scandinavian or Finn with less than $10,000
income nor any recognizable Jew whatever would be allowed even to
gawk through the leaded-glass windows (imported).

Even Lucius Fliegend, Jinny's Jewish employer, that fine and
sensitive old man, could not belong to the Federal Club, but had to
play his noontime chess in the Athletic Club.  And as a professing
member of Democracy, Cass was ashamed that not since he had been
elected judge had he once been in the Athletic Club.

He would remedy that right away.  Tomorrow.

He was abnormally conscious of the universal and multiple
revolution just then, in the early 1940's, from sulfa drugs and
surrealism and semantics to Hitler, but he was irritated by all the
Voices, by the radio prophets and the newspaper-column philosophers.
He had had two competent years in Washington as a Member of
Congress.  Sick of the arguments, he had refused to be re-elected,
yet now that he was back in his native town, sometimes he missed
the massacres in the Coliseum, and felt a little bored and futile.

And ever since his divorce from the costly and clattering Blanche,
he had been lonely.  Could a Jinny Marshland cure his loneliness,
his confusions in the skyrocketing world?

Then he rebuked himself.

Why should a charming girl, probably a dancer to phonographs, have
any desire to cure the lonelinesses of forty-year-old single
gentlemen?  There was tenderness and loyalty in Jinny, he felt, but
what would she want with a judge whom she would find out not to be
a judge at all but another gaunt and early-middle-aged man who
played the flute?  Thus he raged and longed as he neared his house.
It is understood that the newer psychiatrists, like the older
poets, believe that patients do fall in love at first sight.



Cass's house was sometimes known as "Bergheim" and sometimes as
"the old Eisenherz place."  It had been built as a summer
residence--in those days it had seemed to be quite out in the
country--by Simon Eisenherz, greatest of the Radisson County
pioneers, in 1888, and purchased by Cass's father, Owen Timberlane,
in 1929.  Owen had died there, less than a year later, leaving it
jointly to his wife, Marah, and to Cass, along with a local fortune
of forty or fifty thousand dollars.

The house was somber and somehow tragic, and when Cass's mother
died there, also, and he took Blanche, his wife, to it, she had
hated it as much as he himself loved it.  As a boy he had
considered it the wonderful castle, the haunt of power and beauty,
which no ordinary mortal like a Timberlane could ever hope to own
complete.  He still felt so.

George Hame, his court reporter, said that Bergheim was a wooden
model of the court house, and it did have a circular tower and an
octagonal conservatory, now called the "sun room."  It was painted
a dark green, merely because it had always been painted dark green.
Over the porches there were whole gardens of jig-saw blossoms, and
two of the windows were circular, and one triangular, with ruby
glass.  Cass admitted everything derisive that was said about this
monstrosity, and went on loving it, and explaining that if you
opened all of the windows all of the time, it wasn't airless
inside--not very--not on a breezy day.

As he came up the black-and-white marble walk to the bulbous
carriage-porch, a black kitten, an entire stranger, was sitting on
a step.  It said "meow," not whiningly but in a friendly mood, as
between equals, and it looked at Cass in a way that dared him to
invite it in for a drink.

He was a lover of cats, and he had had none since the ancient and
misanthropic Stephen had died, six months before.  He had a lively
desire to own this little black clown, all black, midnight black,
except for its sooty yellow eyes.  It would play on the faded
carpets when he came home from the court room to the still
loneliness that, in the old house, was getting on his nerves.

"Well, how are you, my friend?" he said.

The kitten said she was all right.  And about some cream now--?

"Kitten, I can't steal you from some child who's out looking for
you.  It wouldn't be right to invite you in."

The kitten did not answer anything so naive and prudish.  It merely
said, with its liquid and trusting glance, that Cass was its god,
beyond all gods.  It frisked, and dabbled at a fly with its tiny
black paw, and looked up at him to ask, "How's that?"

"You are a natural suborner of perjury and extremely sweet,"
admitted Cass, as he scooped it up and took it through the huge oak
door, down the dim hallway to the spacious kitchen and to Mrs.
Higbee, his cook-general.

Mrs. Higbee was sixty years old, and what is known as "colored,"
which meant that she was not quite so dark of visage as Webb
Wargate after his annual Florida tanning.  She was graceful and
sensible and full of love and loyalty.  She was in no way a comic
servant; she was like any other wholesome Middle-Class American,
with an accent like that of any other emigree from Ohio.  It must
be said that Mrs. Higbee was not singularly intelligent; only
slightly more intelligent than Mrs. Boone Havock or Mrs. Webb
Wargate; not more than twice as intelligent as Mrs. Vincent Osprey.
She was an Episcopalian, and continued to be one, for historic
reasons, though she was not greatly welcomed in the more
fashionable temples of that faith.  Judge Timberlane depended on
her good sense rather more than he did on that of George Hame or
his friend Christabel Grau.

Mrs. Higbee took the black kitten, tickled it under the chin, and
remarked.  "Our cat?"

"I'm afraid so.  I've stolen it."

"Well, I understand a black cat is either very good luck or very
bad luck, I forget which, so we can take a chance on it.  What's
its name?"

"What is it?  A her?"

"Let's see.  Um, I think so."

"How about 'Cleo'?  You know--from Cleopatra.  The Egyptians
worshiped cats, and Cleopatra was supposed to be thin and dark and
uncanny, like our kitten."

But he was not thinking of Queen Cleopatra.  He was thinking of
Jinny Marshland, and the thought was uneasy with him.

"All right, Judge.  You, Cleo, I'm going to get those fleas off you
right away tomorrow, and no use your kicking."

Cass marveled, "Has she got fleas?"

"Has--she--got--fleas!  Judge, don't you ever take a real good look
at females?"

"Not often.  Oh, Mrs. Higbee, you know I'm dining out tonight--at
Dr. Drover's."

"Yes.  You'll get guinea hen.  And that caramel ice cream.  And
Miss Grau.  You won't be home early."

"Anything else I ought to know about the party?"

"Not a thing. . . .  Will you look at that Cleo!  She knows where
the refrigerator is, already!"



In Cass's set, which was largely above the $7000 line, it was as
obligatory to dress for party dinners as in London, and anyway, he
rather liked his solid tallness in black and white.  He dawdled in
his bedroom, not too moonily thinking of Jinny yet conscious of
her.  A bright girl like that would do things with this room which,
he admitted, habit and indifference and too much inheritance of
furniture had turned into a funeral vault.  It was a long room with
meager windows and a fireplace bricked-up years ago.

The wide bed was of ponderous black walnut, carved with cherubs
that looked like grapes and grapes that looked like cherubs, and on
it was a spread of yellowed linen.  The dresser was of black walnut
also, with a mortuary marble slab; the wardrobe was like three
mummy-cases on end, though not so gay; and littered over everything
were books on law and economics and Minnesota history.

"It is a gloomy room.  No wonder Blanche insisted on sleeping in
the pink room."

He heard a friendly, entirely conversational "Meow?" and saw that
the gallant Cleo had come upstairs to explore.  All cats have to
know about every corner of any house they choose to honor, but
sometimes they are timid about caves under furniture.  There have,
indeed, been complaining and tiresome cats.  But Cleo talked to him
approvingly about her new home.

For so young and feminine a feline, she was a complete Henry M.
Stanley.  She looked at the old bedspread and patted its fringe.
She circulated around under the old Chinese teakwood chair, in
which no one had ever sat and which no one even partly sane would
ever have bought.  She glanced into the wardrobe, and cuffed a
shoelace which tried to trip her.

She said, "All right--fine" to Cass, and went on to the other
rooms.

In that stilly house he continued to hear her jaunty cat-slang till
she had gone into the gray room, the last and largest of the six
master's-bedrooms.  Then he jumped, at a long and terrified moan.
He hurried across the hall.  Cleo was crouched, staring at the bed
upon which had died his mother, that silent and bitter woman
christened Marah Nord.

The tiny animal shivered and whimpered till he compassionately
snatched it up and cuddled it at his neck.  It shivered once more
and, as he took it back to his own den, it began timidly to purr,
in a language older than the Egyptian.

"Too many ghosts in this house, Cleo.  You must drive them out--you
and SHE.  I have lived too long among shadows."



3


Bound for Dr. Drover's and the presumable delights of dinner, he
walked down Varennes Boulevard, past the houses of the very great:
the red-roofed Touraine chateau of Webb Wargate, the white-pillared
brick Georgian mansion (with a terrace, and box-trees in wine jars)
of the fabulous contractor, Boone Havock, and the dark granite
donjon and the bright white Colonial cottage (oversize) in which
dwelt and mutually hated each other the rival bankers Norton Trock
and John William Prutt.

On his judge's salary, without the inheritance from his father,
Cass could never have lived in this quarter.  It was the Best
Section; it was Mayfair, where only Episcopalians, Presbyterians,
Congregationalists, and the more Gothic Methodists--all Republicans
and all golf-players--lived on a golden isle amid the leaden surges
of democracy.

He turned left on Schoolcraft Way, into a neighborhood not so
seraphic yet still soundly apostolic and Republican, and came to
the square yellow-brick residence of his friend, Dr. Roy Drover.
Roy said, and quite often, that his place might not be so fancy as
some he knew, but it was the only completely air-conditioned house
in town, and it had, in the Etruscan catacombs of its basement, the
most powerful oil furnace and the best game-room, or rumpus room--
with a red-and-silver bar, a billiard table, a dance-floor, and a
rifle-range--in all of Grand Republic, which is to say in all of
the Western Hemisphere.

With the possible exception of Bradd Criley the lawyer, Dr. Drover
was Cass's closest friend.

Roy was two years older than Cass, who was two years older than
Bradd, and it is true that in boyhood, four years make a
generation, yet from babyhood to college days, Cass and Roy and
Bradd had formed an inseparable and insolently exclusive gang, to
the terror of all small animals within hiking distance of Grand
Republic.  They did such pleasurable killing together; killing
frogs, killing innocent and terrified snakes, killing gophers, and
later, when they reached the maturity of shot guns, killing ducks
and snipe and rabbits.  Like Indians they had roamed this old
Chippewa Indian land, familiars of swamp and crick (not creek),
cousins to the mink and mushrat (not muskrat), heroes of swimming
hole and ice-skating and of bobsledding down the long, dangerous
Ottawa Heights.  And once, finding a midden filled with stone
slivers, they had been very near to their closest kin, the unknown
Indians of ten thousand years ago, who came here for stone weapons
when the last glacier was retreating.

Growing older, they had shown variations of civilization and
maturity.  Bradd Criley had become a fancy fellow, wavy-haired and
slick about his neckties, a dancing man and a seducer of girls,
adding industry to his natural talents for the destruction of
women.  Cass Timberlane had gone bookish and somewhat moral.  Only
Roy Drover, graduating from medical school and becoming a neat
surgeon, a shrewd diagnostician, a skillful investor of money and,
before forty, a rich man, had remained entirely unchanged, a savage
and a small boy.

He preferred surgery, but in a city as small as Grand Republic, he
could not specialize entirely, and he kept up his practice as a
physician.

At forty-three, Dr. Drover looked fifty.  He was a large man, tall
as Cass Timberlane and much thicker, with a frontier mustache, a
long black 1870-cavalryman mustache, a tremendous evangelical
voice, and a wide but wrinkled face.

In a way, he was not a doctor at all.  He cared nothing for people
except as he could impress them with his large house, his log
fishing-lodge, named "Roy's Rest," in the Arrowhead Lake Region,
and his piratical airplane trips to Florida, where he noisily
played roulette and, taking no particular pains to conceal it from
his wife, made love to manicure girls posing as movie actresses and
completely fooling the contemptuously shrewd Dr. Drover.

When Roy was drunk--that did not happen often, and never on a night
before he was to operate--he got into fights with doormen and taxi-
drivers, and always won them, and always got forgiven by the
attendant policeman, who recognized him as one of their own hearty
sort, as a medical policeman.

He played poker, very often and rather late, and he usually won.
He read nothing except the Journal of the American Medical
Association, the newspapers, and his ledger.  Because he liked to
have humble customers call him "Doc," he believed that he was a
great democrat, but he hated all Jews, Poles, Finns, and people
from the Balkans, and he always referred to Negroes as "darkies" or
"smokes."

He said loudly, "Speaking as a doctor, I must tell you that it is a
scientifically proven fact that all darkies, without exception, are
mentally just children, and when you hear of a smart one, he's just
quoting from some renegade white man.  Down South, at Orlando, I
got to talking to some black caddies, and they said, 'Yessir, Mr.
White Man, you're dead right.  We don't want to go No'th.  Up
there, they put you to work!'  All the darkies are lazy and dumb,
but that's all right with me.  They'll never have a better friend
than I am, and they all know it, because they can see I understand
'em!"

Roy's most disgusted surprise had been in meeting a New York
internist who told him that in that Sidon there was an orchestra
made up of doctors, who put their spare time in on Mozart instead
of duck-hunting.

From land investments, which he made in co-operation with Norton
Trock, Roy had enough capital to make sure that his two sons would
not have to be driven and martyred doctors, like him, but could
become gentlemanly brokers.

Roy and his pallid wife, Lillian, were considered, in Grand
Republic, prime examples of the Happy Couple.

She hated him, and dreaded his hearty but brief embraces, and
prayed that he would not turn the two boys, William Mayo Drover and
John Erdmann Drover, into his sort of people, Sound, Sensible,
Successful Citizens with No Nonsense about Them.



Cass Timberlane knew, in moments of mystic enlightenment, that
whether or not Roy Drover was his best friend, there was no
question but that Roy was his most active enemy.

He had for years mocked Cass's constant reading, his legal
scruples, his failure to make slick investments, and his shocking
habit of listening to Farmer-Laborites.  After Cass had become a
judge, Roy grumbled, "I certainly wish I could make my money as
easy as that guy does--sitting up there on his behind and letting
the other fellows do the work."  Tonight, Cass sighed that Roy
would certainly ridicule Jinny Marshland, if he ever met that young
woman.

But Roy had been his intimate since before he could remember.
There had never been any special reason for breaking with him and,
like son with father, like ex-pupil with ex-teacher, Cass had an
uneasy awe of his senior and a longing--entirely futile--to make an
impression on him.  Cass's pride in being elected to Congress and
the bench was less than in being a better duck-shot than Roy.



There were present, for dinner and two tables of bridge, the
Drovers, Cass, Christabel Grau, the Boone Havocks, and the Don
Pennlosses.

Chris Grau was the orphaned daughter of a wagon-manufacturer.  She
was much younger than the others, and she was invited as an extra-
woman partner for Cass.  She was a plump and rather sweet spinster
of thirty-two who, until the recent taking off, had suffered from
too much affectionate mother.  She not only believed that in the
natural course of events Cass would fall in love with her and marry
her, but also that there is any natural course of events.  Rose
Pennloss, wife of the rather dull and quite pleasant Donald, the
grain-dealer, was Cass's sister, but Cass and she liked each other
and let each other alone.

It was Boone Havock and his immense and parrot-squawking wife
Queenie who were the great people, the belted earl and terraced
countess, of the occasion; they were somewhat more energetic and
vastly more wealthy than Dr. Drover, and it was said that Boone was
one of the sixteen most important men in Minnesota.

He had started as a lumberjack and saloon-bouncer and miner and
prizefighter--indeed, he had never left off, and his success in
railroad-contracting, bridge-building, and factory-construction was
due less to his knowledge of how to handle steel than to his
knowledge of how to battle with steel-workers.  But he owned much
of the stock in the genteel Blue Ox National Bank, and he was
received with flutters in the gray-velvet and stilly office of the
bank-president, Norton Trock.

Queenie Havock had the brassiest voice and the most predictable
anti-labor prejudices in Grand Republic; her hair looked like
brass, and her nose looked somewhat like brass, and she was such a
brass-hearted, cantankerous, vain, grasping, outrageous old brazen
harridan that people describing her simply had to add, "But Queenie
does have such a sense of humor and such a kind heart."

It was true.  She had the odd and interesting sense of humor of a
grizzly bear.



For a town which was shocked by the orgies of New York and
Hollywood, there was a good deal of drinking in Grand Republic.
All of them, except Chris Grau and Roy Drover, had three cocktails
before dinner.  Roy had four.

Throughout dinner, and during vacations from the toil of bridge,
the standard conversation of their class and era was carried on.
If Cass and his sister, Rose, did not chime in, they were too
accustomed to the liturgy to be annoyed by it.

This was the credo, and four years later, the war would make small
difference in its articles:

Maids and laundresses are now entirely unavailable; nobody at all
has any servants whatsoever; and those who do have, pay too much
and get nothing but impertinence.

Strikes must be stopped by law, but the Government must never in
any way interfere with industry.

All labor leaders are crooks.  The rank and file are all virtuous,
but misled by these leaders.

The rank and file are also crooks.

Children are now undisciplined and never go to bed till all-hours,
but when we were children, we went to bed early and cheerfully.

All public schools are atrocious, but it is not true that the
teachers are underpaid, and, certainly, taxes must be kept down.

Taxes, indeed, are already so oppressive that not one of the
persons here present knows where his next meal or even his next
motor car will come from, and these taxes are a penalty upon the
industrious and enterprising, imposed by a branch of the Black Hand
called "Bureaucracy."

America will not get into this war between Hitler and Great
Britain, which will be over by June, 1942.

But we are certainly against Fascism--because why?--because Fascism
just means Government Control, and we're against Government Control
in Germany OR in the United States!  When our Government quits
interfering and gives Industry the green light to go ahead, then
we'll show the world what the American System of Free Enterprise
can do to provide universal prosperity.

Boone Havock can still, at sixty, lick any seven Squareheads in his
construction gangs; he carries on his enterprises not for profit--
for years and years that has been entirely consumed by these taxes--
but solely out of a desire to give work to the common people.  He
once provided a fine running shower-bath for a gang in Kittson
County, but none of the men ever used it, and though he himself
started with a shovel, times have changed since then, and all
selfless love for the job has departed.

Dr. Drover also carries on solely out of patriotism.

The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a woman who has so
betrayed her own class that she believes that miners and Negroes
and women are American citizens, ought to be compelled by law to
stay home.

We rarely go to the movies, but we did just happen to see a pretty
cute film about gang-murder.

The Reverend Dr. Quentin Yarrow, pastor of St. Anselm's P.E., is a
fine man, very broad-minded and well-read, and just as ready to
take a drink or shoot a game of golf as any regular guy.

Jay Laverick, of the flour mills, is a fine man, a regular guy,
always ready to shoot a game of golf or take a drink, but he has
been hitting up the hard stuff pretty heavy since his little wife
passed away, and he ought to remarry.

Cass should certainly remarry, and we suspect that it is Chris
Grau, also present, whom Cass has chosen and already kissed--at
least.

You can't change human nature.

We don't fall for any of these 'isms.

While we appreciate wealth--it shows that a man has ability--maybe
Berthold Eisenherz, with his brewery and half the properties on the
Blue Ox Range that are still producing iron ore, and this damn
showy picture of his by some Frenchman named Renoir, is TOO
wealthy.  He never shoots golf or shoots ducks, which looks pretty
queer for a man rich as that.  What the devil does he do with
himself?

Some of these smart-aleck critics claim that Middlewestern
businessmen haven't changed much since that book--what's its name?--
by this Communist writer, Upton Sinclair--"Babbitt," is it?--not
changed much since that bellyache appeared, some twenty years ago.
Well, we'd like to tell those fellows that in these twenty-odd
years, the American businessman has changed completely.  He has
traveled to Costa Rica and Cuba and Guatemala, as well as Paris,
and in the Reader's Digest he has learned all about psychology and
modern education.  He's been to a symphony concert, and by
listening to the commentators on the radio, he has now become
intimate with every branch of Foreign Affairs.

"As an ex-Congressman, don't you think that's true?" demanded Don
Pennloss.

"Why, I guess it is," said Cass.



He had tried to bring into the conversation the name of Jinny
Marshland, but he had found no links between her and taxes or Costa
Rica.  Now he blurted, "Say, I had a pleasant experience in court
today."

Roy Drover scoffed, "You mean you're still working there?  The
State still paying you good money for just yelling 'Overruled!'
every time a lawyer belches?"

"They seem to be.  Well, we had a pretty dull sidewalk case but one
witness was an unusually charming girl--"

"We know.  You took her into your chambers and conferred with her!"
bellowed Boone Havock.

"He did not.  He's no fat wolf like you, you lumberjack!" screamed
Queenie.

"Good gracious, I didn't know it was so late.  Quarter past eleven.
Can I give you a lift, Cass?" said Chris Grau.



4


"I'll drop you at your house, and if you ask me very prettily, I'll
come in for a night-cap," said Chris, outside the Drovers'.

"No, I'll tell you:  I'll drive you home in your car, and then walk
back to my house."

"Walk?  Back?  At this time of night?  Why, it's almost two miles!"

"People have walked two miles."

"Not unless they were playing golf."

"All right, I'll borrow a cane from Roy and a condensed-milk can
and knock it all the way back."

"Cassy, you are the most contrary man living!"

He hated being called "Cassy," like a slave in Harriet Beecher
Stowe, and he did not want Chris at his house.  For the hour or two
before he went to bed, late as usual, he wanted to be alone.  He
had to look after the welfare of his new friend, Cleo.  He wanted
to think, at least to think of what it was that he wanted to think
about.  And, like most men who sometimes complain of being lonely,
he just liked to be alone.

Chris did not go on teasing him.  He had to admit that, fusser and
arranger and thwarted mother though she was, Chris liked to do
whatever her men wanted.

At thirty-two, Christabel Grau was a round and soft and taffy-
colored virgin with strands of gray.  If Jinny Marshland was like
Cleo, a thin and restless and exciting young cat, Chris was the
serene tabby cuddled and humming on the hearth.

As they drove to her home, she speculated, with an unusual
irritation, "Didn't you think they were dull tonight?"

"I thought they talked about as usual."

"No, you didn't.  For some reason, you were sizing them up tonight,
and that started me noticing that--Oh, they're all darlings, and so
smart--my, I bet there isn't a doctor at the Mayos' that's as
clever as Roy--but they always make the same jokes, and they're so
afraid of seeming sentimental.  Roy wouldn't ever admit how he
loves his collection of Florida shells, and of course Boone is as
moony as a girl about his Beethoven records, and Queenie says he'll
sit by himself for hours listening to 'em, even the hard quartets,
and he's read all the lives of the composers, but he pretends he
just has the records to show off.  We're all so scared of getting
out of the groove here, don't you think?"

"Yes--yes," said Cass, who hadn't heard a word.

"But I do love Grand Republic so."

"Yes."



Chris lived on the top floor of her ancestral mansion on Beltrami
Avenue South, in the old part of town, in the valley.  And on that
street Cass had been born.  Forty years ago it had been the citadel
of the select residential district, where dwelt all that was rich
and seemly.  Cass's present home, Bergheim, was aged, but the other
houses on Ottawa Heights had been built since 1900.  These new
mansions did well in the matter of Mount Vernon pillars and lumpy
French-farmhouse towers, but they were plain as warehouses compared
with the Beltrami Avenue relics, which had an average of twenty-two
wooden gargoyles apiece, and one of which exhibited not only a
three-story tower but had a Tudor chimney running through it.

Many of these shrines had been torn down to save taxes, and others
turned into a home for nuns, a home for pious Lutheran old ladies,
a business college, a Y.W.C.A.  In seventy years, the Belgravia of
Grand Republic had been built and become an historic ruin, and men
whose own frail tissues had already lasted more than eighty years,
looking upon a granite castle now become a school for the anxious
daughters of improbable gentry, whispered in awe, "Why, that house
is old as the hills--almost seventy-five years old!"

But Chris Grau, after her mother's death, had thriftily remodeled
their three-story-and-basement residence into seven apartments,
keeping the top floor for herself and renting the rest.  "Chris is
an A 1 business-woman," said Roy Drover, and Roy would know.

Cass was "just coming in for a second, for one drink," but he felt
relaxed, he felt at home, and wanted to linger in that room,
feminine yet firm, lilac-scented, with soft yellow walls and chairs
in blue linen, with many flowers and a Dutch-tile fireplace and all
the newest new books about psychology and Yugo-Slavian prime
ministers, many of which Chris had started to read.

She mixed a highball for him, without talking about it.  She had
excellent Bourbon--she was a good and intelligent woman.  She sat
on the arm of his chair, a chair that was just deep enough for him;
she smoothed his hair, without ruffling it, she kissed his temple,
without being moist, and she slipped away and sat casually in her
own chair before he had time to think about whether he had any
interest in caresses tonight.

"Yes, we were all awfully obvious, tonight," she meditated.  "Why
didn't you bawl us out?"

"I'm not an uplifter, Chris.  People are what they are.  You learn
that in law-practice.  I haven't the impertinence to tell old
friends how I think they ought to talk."

"You pretend to be nothing but scholarship and exactness, but
you're really all affection for the people you know."

"You'll be saying I'm a sentimentalist next, Chris."

"Well, aren't you?  You even love cats."

"Hate 'em!"

--Why did I lie like that?

"Cassy, I--Oh, I'm sorry, CASS!"

--She even sees when I'm offended, without my having to rub her
nose in it.  I could be very solid and comfortable if I married
her.  She'd give warmth to that chilly old house.  We belong
together; we're both Old Middlewest, informal but not rackety.
Let's see:  Chris must be nine years younger than I am, and--

She was talking on:  "Speaking of uplift, I'll never give up hoping
that some day you'll be a United States Senator or on the Supreme
Court Bench.  There isn't a man in the United States who has more
to give the public."

"No, no, Chris, that's sheer illusion.  I'm simply a backwoods
lawyer.  You know, any legal gent looks considerably larger and
brighter, up there on the bench."

"I won't have you--"

"Besides, I feel lost in Washington.  One brown rabbit doesn't mean
much in that menagerie of cassowaries."

"What IS a cassowary?"

"Eh?  Damned if I know.  I think it's a bird."

"I'll look it up, right now."

"Not now.  I really want to talk to you."

"Well, it's about time!"

They smiled, secretly and warmly.  She seemed to him as intimate
and trusty as his own self when she went on:

"Maybe it was because Blanche was so ambitious that you disliked
Washington.  An impossible wife for you!"

"I didn't dislike the place--people walking under the trees in the
evening, like a village.  It's just that I have some kind of an
unformulated idea that I want to be identified with Grand Republic--
help in setting up a few stones in what may be a new Athens.  It's
this northern country--you know, stark and clean--and the brilliant
lakes and the tremendous prairies to the westward--it may be a new
kind of land for a new kind of people, and it's scarcely even
started yet."

"Oh, I know!"

--She loves this place, too.  She has roots, where Blanche has
nothing but aerial feelers.  Hm.  She's thirty-two.  She could
still have half a dozen children.  I'd like children around me, and
not just Mrs. Higbee and Cleo and a radio and a chessboard.

Chris came, not too impulsively, to kneel before him and clasp both
his hands, as she said trustingly:

"Of course you know best.  The only reason why I'd like to see you
in the Senate is that Grand Republic would be so proud of you!"
Her eyes were all his, her voice was gentle, and her lips were not
far from his.  "Though maybe that's silly, Cass, because I guess
the town couldn't be any prouder of you than it is already--no
prouder than I am, right now!"

There was a scent of apple-blossoms about her.  He leaned forward.
Without moving, she seemed to be giving herself to him.  Her hand
was at her soft bosom and her lips lifted.

Then, from far off, he heard the wailing of a frightened kitten,
gallant but hard-pressed.

Without willing it, he was on his feet, blurting good night,
hastening home to the small black absurdity of Cleo.



5


His panic was gone before he had stepped like a soldier eight
blocks in that nipping northern air and begun to mount the Heights.
The streets were friendly with the fresh-leaved elms and maples for
which Grand Republic was notable; the cherries were in blossom, and
the white lilacs and mountain ash.

There were dark groves along the way, and alleys that rose sharply
and vanished around curves, there were gates in brick walls and
hedges; a quality by night which was odd and exciting to Cass
Timberlane, a life to be guessed at, not too plain.  This was no
prairie town, flat and rectangular, with every virtue and crusted
sin exposed.

As he climbed, he could see the belated lights of farmhouses on the
uplands across the valley, the lights of buses down on Chippewa
Avenue, and in simplicity he loved his city now instead of fretting
that its typical evening conversation was dull--as dull as that of
Congressmen in the cloakroom or newspaper correspondents over the
poker table.  But he fretted over himself and his perilous single
state, with nervousness about the fact that Chris Grau was likely
at any time to pick him up and marry him.

--No, I'll never marry again.  I'd never be a good husband.  I'm
too solemn--maybe too stuffy.  I'm too devoted to the law.

--Am I?

--I must get married.  I can't carry on alone.  Life is too
meaningless when you have no one for whom you want to buy gifts, or
steal them.

--If I did marry, I think that this time I could make a go of it.
I understand women a LITTLE better now.  I shouldn't have minded
Blanche's love of tinsel, but just laughed at her.  And Chris
thinks of other people.  With her, I'd be happier and happier as
the years went by--

--Lord, that sounds so aged!  It was her youth that I liked so much
in that girl on the witness-stand yesterday--or today, was it?
What was her name again--Virginia something? . . .  Curious.  I
can't see her any more!



In law-school, at the University of Minnesota, Cass had listened to
a lecture by that great advocate, Hugo Lebanon of Minneapolis, had
gone up glowingly to talk with him, and had been invited to dinner
at the Lebanon marble palace on Lake of the Isles.  There was a
tall, pale, beautiful daughter named Blanche.

So Cass married the daughter.

She was emphatic about being a pure Anglo-Saxon who went right
back, even if Warwickshire remained curiously unstirred about her
going right back, to a gray stone house in Warwick.  She was the
more vigorously pure about it because there were whispers of Jewish
blood.  She found it hard to put up with the mongrel blood of the
furniture-dealing Timberlanes, and she was revolted when Cass
estimated that through his father, he was three-eighths British
stock, one-sixteenth French Canadian, and one-sixteenth Sioux
Indian--whence, he fondly believed, came his tall, high-cheeked
spareness--and through his mother he was two-eighths Swedish, one-
eighth German, one-eighth Norwegian.

Blanche did not, after the magnitude and salons of Minneapolis,
much like Grand Republic.  When she came there as a bride, in 1928,
the Renoir had not yet arrived, so there was no one to talk to.

She encouraged Cass to run for Congress; she served rye, with her
own suave hands, to aldermen and county commissioners.  Cass and
she attained Washington, and she loved it like a drunkard, and
loved the chance of meeting--at least of being in the same populous
rooms with--French diplomats and Massachusetts senators and
assorted Roosevelts.  When Cass felt swamped, as a lone
representative among more than four hundred, when he longed for the
duck pass and his law-office and the roaring of Roy Drover, when he
refused to run for re-election, Blanche rebelled.  She was not
going back to listen to Queenie Havock shrieking about her love-
life, she shouted, and Cass could not blame her, though he did sigh
that there were also other sounds audible in Grand Republic.

There was a mild, genial Englishman, Fox Boneyard, an importer of
textiles, who lived in New York but was often about Washington; he
had the unfortunate illusions about beautiful American women that
Englishmen sometimes do have, and he also had more money than the
Honorable Cass Timberlane.

Blanche married him.

During the divorce, Cass did have sense enough to refuse to pay
alimony to a woman who was marrying a richer man, and who had never
consented to having children.  But he still loved Blanche enough to
hate her, and to hate convulsively the sight of a coat she had left
behind, and the wrinkles in it that had come from her strong
shoulders.  He underwent the familiar leap from partisanship and
love to enmity and a sick feeling that he had been betrayed.

He grimly finished his last days in Congress, and then quite
dramatically went to pieces.  He was a feeling man, and with a
whisky breath and unshaved, he was an interesting figure in water-
front cafes in Trinidad and Cartagena, and to his white cruel love
he paid the tribute of being sick in toilets and talking to other
saintly idiots about having lost his soul.

But even love for Blanche could not keep Cass Timberlane at this
romantic business for more than two months, and after another six,
most of them sedately spent in and about the Temple in London, he
returned to the affection of Grand Republic, and practised law for
three more years before he was elected to the bench.

Election was not easy.  The routine politicians disliked him
because he had left Congress, because he could not be guided, and
because he made fun of all clauses in political speeches beginning
with "than whom."  The churches, particularly the Lutherans, who
were powerful in Radisson County, disapproved of him because he had
been divorced.  The Republicans were doubtful about him because he
had been amiable with Farmer-Labor leaders, and the Farmer-
Laborites distrusted him because he lived in a large house.  In
fact, there was really no reason for his being elected except that
he was known to be honest, courageous, and learned, and that he had
once lent a grateful and active Norwegian farmer five dollars.

But he was a judge now, and the district had the fixed habit of
him, and if he would only marry a sound churchwoman, like
Christabel Grau, and give a little more attention to the Chamber of
Commerce and to his bridge game, he might go on forever, a sound
and contented Leading Citizen.



6


He was thinking of Chris Grau as he entered the long hallway of
Bergheim, lit only by a bogus-ancient pierced-brass lamp.  Then
Cleo, the midnight-colored kitten, was galloping up to him, warming
his ankles, purring frantically, and with that ecstatic rhythm
there came back to him Jinny Marshland's name and the vision of her
face that he had lost: the surprising smallness of her face, the
absurd hawk nose, the jaunty hair hanging to her shoulders, the
bright curiosity in her eyes, her plunging youthful walk.

He lifted Cleo and thought how light Jinny would be to lift.  Cleo
sat in his lap while he worked out a chess-problem for nightcap;
she moaned only a little when he played the flute for a moment; and
when he put her back into the box filled with clipped paper that
Mrs. Higbee had provided behind the kitchen stove, Cleo made a
business of curling round and sleeping, as a cat who belonged there
and liked it.

"A very sound kitten," Cass pronounced, and went comfortably up to
bed, pleasant in the thought that tomorrow the kitten would be
here, that some time this week he could most certainly see Jinny.

He awoke rigid under the familiar torture which some dozen times a
year the mysterious Enemy inflicted upon him: the torture of being
bored by the too-frequent presence of his own self, bored to cold
emptiness by the inescapable and unchanging sight and sound of Cass
Timberlane, a man whom he usually respected, sometimes found
slightly funny, but of whose complaints and futile plans, round and
round in the mind, of whose demands for incessant attention, of
whose mirrored gawky face, of whose heavy voice, a murky cloud
forever in the air about him, he was sick to a state of fury.
Could he never get away from that man?  Was he condemned forever to
awaken to the sight of that thick brown plowman's-hand on the
blanket, to the intrusiveness of that man's inevitable whining
daydream:  "I will find my companion; I'll go on a journey
somewhere and I'll find her; I'll tell her about Grand Republic and
she'll want to come here, and we'll have a real family, with trust
and serenity, and I'll be a judge that--people will say, 'His court
is the model of fairness and mercy,' and she will be glad of it;
SHE--"

Oh, so that intrusive man was going to fall in love now, was he,
with his "Look at me!  How exciting I am!"  If he could only forget
the name and essence of Cass Timberlane and be blissfully
submerged, not in some rainbow-striped Oversoul but in the
tenderness of one other person.

Then he was sick of being sick of too-much-self, and with the
bright thought of Jinny he drove out his tired brooding upon his
brooding.

She actually did exist.  He had seen her.  In her was tolerant
friendship, and in her fresh cheeks and young bosom there was
promise of salvation by passion.  With her he could escape into the
refuge of the Quiet Mind, away equally from the lonely Cass and
from a world of booming politics and oratory.

Was Jinny too young for him?  Nonsense!  He was only forty-one, and
stronger than any of these jazz-mad youngsters.  And she would make
him still younger, along with her.

He went to sleep in dreams of a Jinny to whom, actually, he had
never said anything whatever except, "I think you'd better confine
yourself to answering the questions, without comment, Miss
Marshland."

There was nothing of the repining hermit in the Cass who leaped up
in the morning, greeted Cleo, who considered his toes very funny,
had a shower-bath and a scrupulous shave (telling himself, as
always, that the electric razor was a very fine Modern Invention),
greeted Mrs. Higbee, wolfed griddle cakes and sausages, and tramped
out upon the fresh May morning and the courts of law.

George Hame, his court-reporter, greeted him filially, though
George was only three years younger, and filled his inkwell and his
water carafe and opened his mail.

The mail was of the usual: sixteen widows who had been cheated, of
whom seven sounded as though they ought to have been; and sixteen
organizations which desired the Judge to send in a little
contribution.

The other two judges of the district came in cordially:  Judge
Stephen Douglas Blackstaff, the Old Roman, and Judge Conrad
Flaaten, who was Lutheran but gay.  Judge Blackstaff wanted a
cigarette and Judge Flaaten wanted advice, and between them and the
mail and George Hame's admiration, Cass felt like his own man
again, resolute and happy in his workshop.

When he marched out into the court room and the bailiff pounded his
table and the nine persons present, besides the jury and the
officers of court, all made motions somewhat like rising in his
honor, then all the dread of too-much-self had gone out of Cass,
along with much of his excitement about a stray young woman named
Marshland, and he was again the tribal chieftain on his leather
throne.

The case of Miss Tilda Hatter vs. the City of Grand Republic was
concluded, and her many friends will be pleased to know that the
jury was out for only sixteen minutes and awarded her $200 out of
the $500 for which she had sued.  Judge Timberlane reflected that
Miss Hatter was almost certain to put on a spread for Jinny and her
other boarders, with Bourbon, Coca-Cola, liverwurst, stuffed
olives, and chocolate layer cake.

He went for lunch not to the proper Federal Club, where bankers and
lawyers and grain-dealers sat around being high-class, but to the
Athletic Club, which admitted Jews and Unitarians.  He hoped to see
Lucius Fliegend, the pasteboard-toy manufacturer, Jinny's boss.

On his way he went along Chippewa Avenue and saw the humble
magnificence of the town's business center: the up-rearing
limestone and aluminum of the Blue Ox National Bank, the bookshop
that with a building of imitation half-timber tried to suggest the
romance and antiquity of England, the one complete department
store, Tarr's Emporium, with four vast floors crammed with
treasures from Burma and Minneapolis, and the Bozard Beaux Arts
Women's Specialty Shops, which everyone said was just as smart as
New York or Halle Brothers of Cleveland.

Among the bustling citizens who looked like everybody else on every
principal avenue from Bangor to Sacramento, there were trout-
fishermen in high boots and Finnish section-hands and Swedish corn-
planters from the prairie.

Grand Republic was metropolitan-looking in its black-glass and
green-marble shop fronts, its uniformed traffic policemen with Sam
Browne belts and pistol holsters, its florists' windows and La
Marquise French Candy Shop, but it was small enough so that he was
greeted--usually as "Judge," often as "Cass," occasionally as
"Jedge"--five times on every block, while the Policemen touched
their caps in salute.  Grand Republic was small enough so that a
Mrs. George Hame had at least met a Mrs. Webb Wargate, and ventured
to say, in church lobby, "Well, how is your boy Jamie doing in
school, Mrs. Wargate?"  It was small enough so that the Judge could
know how the whole city worked, but it was also small enough so
that Harley Bozard, coming out of his shop, already knew that Cass
had taken Chris Grau home last evening, and leered, "What's this I
hear you're going to drive into the matrimonial slew again, Cass?"

It was all friendly; it restored his soul.  He was too used to them
to note the hideousness of a black old stone hotel with massive
portals and torn lace curtains, and the car-parking lots that were
like sores on the wholesome limbs of the streets, or to reflect
that the only design for planning the city had always been the
dollar-sign.  What of that, when he could be greeted "H' are you,
old boy!" by Frank Brightwing, the real-estate man, who was
melodiously drunk on every Saturday evening and on every Sunday
morning, at the Baptist Church, was as unaffectedly pious and
hopeful as the cherubs he so much resembled.

The moment Cass was inside the railroad-station noisiness of the
Athletic Club, he hunted up Lucius Fliegend, a gentle person with a
thin beard, who might have been a professor of Greek.

He confessed, "Lucius, I'm ashamed that I haven't been around here
lately, looking for a game of chess."

"You young fellows, you politicians, don't appreciate chess.  In
the good old days here, the lumbermen and the gamblers in iron-
leases used to go out and steal a million dollars and come home and
drink a quart of red-eye and sit down to six hours of chess.  Now,
they steal only a thousand, and then play bridge and drink gin, a
lady's drink.  Will you choose your pawn?"

After the game (which Lucius won), Cass spoke abruptly, for this
was an honest and understanding man.  "Yesterday in court I saw a
young lady who says she works for you.  Miss Marshland.  I'd like
to really meet her."

"Jinny is a lovely girl.  Erica and I are fond of her.  She is
ambitious, but not in the sharp, bitter way of so many of these
young career women.  She's quite a good draftsman.  She has a nice
fantastic taste--she does some very funny pasteboard dolls for me.
And she's beautiful, but she's also a frail, over-engined girl who
will either burn herself out or fall in love with some appealing
scamp who'll break her heart, unless some solid man traps her
first."

"But would she LIKE a solid man?"

"I doubt it.  And, though he'd find it interesting, I don't know
how much he'd enjoy nursing a young black panther."

"She's probably already engaged."

"I don't think so; merely has a lot of young men friends.  But with
all her fire, she's domestic.  Her father is a druggist up here in
Pioneer Falls, a pleasant fellow.  He taught Jinny her Latin at the
age of ten.  Of course she forgot it at the age of twelve.  She's a
good girl and--"

"When will you invite us to dinner together?"

"Some time soon."

"No!  Much sooner than that!"

"Very well.  Next Saturday evening, provided Jinny isn't out
canoeing with some handsome young man."

"Excellent!"

He was thinking of that "handsome young man" and astonished to find
in himself a jealousy not coy but bitter and real.  He hated
jealousy and all its rotten fruits, as he had seen them in court,
hated that sour suspiciousness which ferments in love, yet over a
girl to whom he had once said just fourteen words, he was mildly
homicidal toward an imaginary young man.

"I seem to be falling in love," he thought profoundly.



7


Cass was disappointed when Mrs. Fliegend telephoned to him not to
dress for dinner.  He would have liked to show Jinny how stately he
could be.  But she reported that Jinny was "so thrilled to meet
you; she thinks you were wonderful on the bench--so wise--and of
course Lucius and I do, too, Judge."

He stroked Cleo, and sounded like her.

After pondering on precedents, he decided that it was far enough on
in the spring for him to wear his white-flannel suit, with the tie
from Marshall Field's.  While he put these on, gravely, as though
he were studying a brief, he wondered how much he was going to like
Jinny.  So far, he merely loved her.

Would she be one of these Professional Youths?  Would she reek with
gum and with the slang suitable to it:  "Oh boy!" and "No soap" and
"That's what you think"?

"Oh, quit it!" he said, aloud--and Cleo promised that she would.

He was so elegant tonight that he drove to the Fliegends', instead
of walking.

The Fliegends' bulky old brown house was on South Beltrami, a block
from Chris Grau's.

He felt guilty of disloyalty to Chris in loving young Jinny, but he
felt even wickeder as he reflected that though he had been born
only three blocks from the Fliegends', he had not been in their
house since boyhood, and could not remember its rooms.  Probably
Chris and Bradd Criley and Boone Havock had never been inside it.
In "The Friendly City," as we call it, we don't shoot Jews and
Catholics and Socialists and saints.  We just don't go calling on
them.

Then Mrs. Fliegend was beaming on him at the door, while he
imagined her saying, "You phony politician!  You've never
condescended to come to our house till you wanted us to play
procurers for you.  You, the great Anglo-Saxon judge and gentleman--
you Sioux bastard!  Get out!"

Mrs. Fliegend must have wondered why Judge Timberlane seemed so
pleased by her mild greeting.

Looking past his hosts into the square living-room which made up
half the first floor, he saw no Jinny, but only a great blankness
where she should have been.

--Maybe she isn't coming?  Ditched me for that young man in the
canoe?

Mrs. Fliegend was soothing him, "Oh, she'll be here, Judge!"

--Is my youthful romance as obvious as all that?

Remembering it only from childhood, he had expected the interior of
the Fliegend house to be Oriental and over-rich.  But it was the
elder German and Yankee pioneers who had satin-brocaded walls and
Tudor fireplaces.  Here, the walls were of white paneled wood,
dotted with old maps of Minnesota and portraits of its early
heroes:  Ramsey, Sibley, Steele, Pike, Taliaferro.

"I didn't know you were such a collector of Minnesota items," said
Cass.

--That sounded fatuous and condescending.  I didn't mean to be.

Lucius explained, "I was born in Minnesota, in Long Prairie, and my
father before me, near Marine Mills, where my grandfather settled.
He fought through the Civil War, in the Third Minnesota.  We are of
the old generation."

Cass was meditating upon his rare gifts of ignorance when Jinny
Marshland flew into the room.

She was no wild little hawk now, but a young lady.  Her hair was
put up, sleek and tamed, and she wore a dress of soft black with,
at her pleated black girdle, one silver rose.  She was quick-moving
and friendly, and her greeting was almost excessive:  "I'm
terrified to meet you, Judge, after seeing you in court.  I thought
you were going to send me to Stillwater for contempt.  You won't
now, will you?"

Yet no spark came to him from her, and she was just another pretty
girl, another reed bending to the universal south wind.

The other guests, a couple who came in with shy bumptiousness, made
him feel as guilty at his neglect of them as had the Fliegends.
They were Dr. Silbersee, refugee Jewish eye-ear-throat specialist
from Vienna, 'cellist in the amateur double-quartet that was Grand
Republic's only musical wonder, and his wife Helma, who was equally
serious about the piano, Apfelkuchen, and the doctrines of the
post-Freudian psychoanalysts.

Cass had been fretting all week, after his session with Chris Grau,
that the local conversation was dull.  He had wished, for the
benefit of his unconscious protegee Jinny, to exhibit what he
conceived to be a real European conversazione, complete with Rhine
wine and seltzer.  He got it, too, this evening, and he didn't care
much for it.  He realized again, as he had in Washington and in
waterfront dives in Trinidad, that most conversation is dull.
Aside from shop-talk, which includes the whispering of lovers,
anything printed, a time-table or the rich prose of a tomato-catsup
label, is more stimulating than any talk, even the screaming of six
economists and an intellectual actress.

At dinner, the Fliegends and the Silbersees said that this fellow
Hitler was no good, that it had been warm today, that it might be
warmer tomorrow, that Toscanini was a good conductor, that rents in
Grand Republic were very high just now, and that there was a Little
Armenian Restaurant in Milwaukee.

It was, in perfection, New York, minus the taxi horns, and still
Cass was not satisfied, and, so far as he could see, neither was
Jinny.

At first, as the conversation took fire, she hadn't so much as a
chip to throw into it.  She sat mute, with her hands folded small
and flat and meek, and she had no observations on the subject of
Debussy, regarding which Lucius had represented her as highly
eloquent.  Cass decided that she was stupid, and that there wasn't
much to be said for himself either.

But he noticed how quickly her dark eyes turned from speaker to
speaker; how she weighed, and did not think very much of, her
ponderous elders.  Slowly he was hypnotized by her again; he felt
her independence and her impatience to do things.  Restless under
this middle-aged droning, he wanted to be on her side.  And he was
a little afraid of her.

But he made a good deal of progress in his romance.  To his
original fourteen words of address to her, he had now added sixty-
seven others, including, "No, no, you weren't late.  I think I was
ahead of time.  I guess my watch is fast."  No flowery squire could
have said it more colorfully.

The Fliegends were lenient hosts, and after dinner (roast goose and
potato pancakes, such heavenly stuff as Grand Republic rarely
knew), they wedged the Silbersees in beside the grand piano, and
sent Cass and Jinny "out to see the garden."

Like most houses in Grand Republic, where the first settlers
huddled together instead of taking ten acres for each garden, the
Fliegend abode was too close to its neighbors.  But they had
planted cedar hedges, and made a pool surrounded with wicker
benches that were, surprisingly, meant to be sat upon.  Cass and
Jinny did sit upon them, and he did not in the least feel that he
was sitting upon a pink cloud.  He was anxious to find out, while
still posing as a big superior man, whether Jinny considered him a
stuffy old party.

"Nice dinner," he said.

"Wasn't it?"

"This, uh, this Roy Harris they were talking about--do you know his
music?"

"Just a little."

"Uh--"

"I've just heard some of it played."

"Yes, uh--I guess--I guess Dr. Silbersee is a very fine musician."

"Yes, isn't he."

"Yes."

"You've heard him play, Judge?"

"Yes, uh--oh yes, I've heard him play.  A very fine 'cellist."

"Of course I don't know music well enough to tell, but I think he
must be and--"

Then it broke:

"Jinny!  Were you bored tonight?"

"How?"

"Our pompous talk."

"Why, I thought it was lovely talk.  I was so interested about the
conductors:  Mitropoulos and Bruno Walter."

"Oh.  You like musicians?"

"Love 'em.  If I really knew any.  But one thing did bother me."

"What?"

"I thought YOU were bored.  I was watching you, Judge."

"And I was watching you."

"Two kids among the grown-ups!"

They both laughed very much, and he was grateful for being included
in her conspiracy of youth.

The silent Jinny talked enough now.  "I thought they were all so
nice, and oh boy! are they ever learned!  I guess the people in
Vienna must be like them.  But I wanted to hear YOU talk."

"Why?"  It was too flagrant even to be called "fishing."

"I wanted to know how do criminals get that way, and can you help
them, and--I'll bet they're awed by you."

"Not much."

"I would be.  I was sort of disappointed by the court room, though.
I thought there'd be a whole mob, holding their breaths, and
sixteen reporters writing like mad, but they were--oh, as if they
were waiting for a bus.  But then when I looked at you--honestly,
you scared me, Judge!"

"Now, now!"

"You DID!"

"How could I?  Judge Blackstaff might, but I'm just a hometown
lawyer."

"You are not a home-town lawyer!  Oh, I mean you are, of course,
but I mean--you aren't ANY home-town lawyer!"  She sounded proud of
him, and eager.  "On the bench, you looked as if you knew
everything, and maybe you might be kind of sorry for me, for having
murdered my Aunt Aggie and stolen the sewing-machine oil-can, but
you'd put me away for ten years, for the good of society.  Wouldn't
you?"

"No, I'm afraid I'd resign from the bench first, Jinny."

"M!"  She sounded gratified, and with some energy he kept himself
from seizing her hand.  It was fated that he should now take the
next step, with "You came by bus, didn't you?  May I drive you
home?"

He, it seemed, might.

He said good night to the Fliegends and Silbersees with a feeling
of having enlarged his knowledge of Grand Republic.  When Jinny was
beside him in his car, the major purposes of his life seemed to
have been accomplished, even if he could express the ultimate glory
only by a hesitating, "It was a very pleasant evening, didn't you
think?"



8


The boarding-house of Miss Tilda Hatter was the hobohemia of Grand
Republic.  It occupied the two upper floors of a senile brick
building near Paul Bunyan Avenue, in a land of railroad sidings and
six-man factories.  On the ground floor of the building was the
Lilac Lady Lunchroom: T. Hatter, Prop., at whose counter and four
tousled tables eternal and poetic Youth could drink coffee and eat
blueberry pie a la mode, with ice cream disgustingly but sweetly
melting down into the blue-smeared debris, and talk about the high
probability of their going to Minneapolis and singing on the radio,
or going to Chicago and studying interior decorating.

Above the restaurant were a dozen bedrooms, with one bath, and a
living-room agreeably littered with skis, skates, unstrung tennis
rackets, stenographers' note-books, manuals on air-conditioning and
gas-engine construction, burnt-out portable radio sets, empty
powder compacts, empty gin bottles, and the Poetic Works of John
Donne, with the covers missing.  These upper rooms were reached by
a covered wooden outside staircase.

The building had once been a dry-goods store and once the offices
of a co-operative farmers' insurance company, and once a butcher-
shop with a fancy-house above it, in which two young ladies had
murdered the melancholy butcher.  But now it was all orderly as a
Y.W.C.A., and rather like it in the excessive amount of cigarette-
smoking.

As Cass and Jinny drove up to it, she insisted, "You must come up a
minute and say hello to Miss Hatter.  She's convinced the jury gave
her all that money only because you told them to, and she's one
person that really worships you."

"Meaning that somebody else doesn't?"

His wheedling tone, the distractedness with which he turned his
face toward her and so ran the car up on the curb as he was
parking, were not to be distinguished from the large idiocies of
any other injudicious young lover.  She answered only, "You'd be
surprised!  Come, it's one flight up."

He had a daring hope that this girl, so desirable, with her bright
face and young breast, did see him as the great man scattering
nobility from the high throne of the bench.  He knew that he wasn't
anything of the kind, but merely a business umpire in a dusty hall.
Yet if she could have such faith in him, she might lift him to
whatever greatness she imagined in him.  With solemnity and love he
followed her up the flat-sounding steps and into the boarding-house
salon.

Miss Hatter was mixing a heady beverage of gin, Coca-Cola, creme de
rose, and tea, standing at a sloppy pine table, while four young
people sat near her on the floor--not because there were no chairs
but because they were at the age and intellectual claimancy when
one does sit on the floor.

Miss Hatter screamed, "Oh, Judge!"  As though he were a bishop or a
movie star.  "Jinny said she'd try to get you to drop in, but I
never dreamed she WOULD!"

--So this young woman had planned to have me drive her home.  Am I
gratified or do I feel let down?  Anyway, she looks so charming, in
fact, well, so aristocratic in her little black dress and that one
silver rose, among these hit-or-a-miss yearners here.

Miss Hatter was going on:  "Folks, this is Judge Timberlane.  My,
this is an honor.  I'll say it is!"

Jinny introduced her four companions of the arts as they sulkily
rose and dusted their knees.  They were not too young--twenty-four
to thirty--but the placid disregard of them by Grand Republic still
kept them youthful and belligerent.  They were Lyra Coggs,
assistant city librarian, Wilma Gunton, head of the cosmetics
department at Tarr's Emporium, Tracy Oleson, secretary to powerful
Webb Wargate and a young man who seemed to Cass interesting enough
to be looked at with suspicion, Eino Roskinen, aged twenty-four,
butter-maker at the Northward Co-operative Dairy but, as Jinny
explained, a born theater director.

Eino was a darkly serious young Finn; he looked at Jinny with what
Cass nervously saw to be the greatest fondness and at Cass with the
greatest dislike, so that Cass felt like an old windbag, though he
had as yet said nothing more than, "Well!  Good evening."

--So the struggle for her has started already.  And I'm not going
to give her up even to you, my Byronic young friend.

He was certain that Eino was an evil whelp, who meant no good to
Jinny.  He sat on a chair, near Miss Hatter, the only other person
of his age and uncomfortable dignity, while all five of the young
people were on the floor, chattering--especially the Jinny who had
been so silent at the Fliegends':

"You know, Judge, we think we have an intellectual center here.
Oh, we're tremendous.  Wilma is going to New York to start a
cosmetics company there--green lip-sticks--as soon as she can save
enough money to ride there in a box-car.  But our star is Eino.  He
has Theories.  He says that the new America isn't made up of
British stock and Irish and Scotch, but of the Italians and Poles
and Icelanders and Finns and Hungarians and Slovaks.  People like
you and me are the Red Indians of the country.  We'll either pass
out entirely or get put on reservations, where we can do our Yankee
tribal dances and wear our native evening clothes undisturbed.
Isn't that the idea, Eino?"

"Not entirely, Jinx.  We may allow full citizenship to some of the
Yankee tribesmen, if they learn the principles of cooperation and
give up their medicine-men--pastors they call 'em, I believe.  But
judges, now--I don't know about them.  They're too corrupted by the
native voodoo.  I don't know whether they can learn to speak the
American language."

"Don't you dare to say anything against Judge Timberlane!" screamed
Miss Hatter, and wondered why they all laughed at her, though
Cass's contributory laughter was on the pale side.

He was deciding, with a thrill of reality, that he hated Eino.

--That fatuous young pup!  Daring to call her "Jinx."  Or even
"Jinny," for that matter.  "Miss Virginia" is good enough for you,
my friend.  You and your Hunkies!  Just try bucking us Yankees!
By--the--way, my friend, do you happen to know that I'm scarcely
Yankee at all, that I'm part Scandinavian and part Sioux?  Of
course you don't!  And it makes me sick, when I wonder whether this
Eino has ever dared to put his arms around Jinny or kiss her lips.
Sick!

All the while he knew that he did not mean any of it, that Eino was
probably an excellent fellow.

--Funny.  I never was jealous like this about Blanche.  Wonder
where she is now.  I'll bet she's keeping that poor English husband
of hers busy digging out viscounts for her!



Miss Hatter, addressing him constantly as "Your Honor," was
explaining the wonderful things she was going to do with her
litigious $200, including false teeth for an aged cousin resident
in Beloochistan, Minnesota.  Tracy Oleson talked about canoe trips
in the Crane Lake country.  Jinny alleged that Dr. Silbersee had
once absently tried to remove tonsils from his 'cello.  But Eino
was scornful and still.

Cass was a friendly villager, and accustomed to friendliness from
others.  Even the forger whom he condemned to the state
Penitentiary seemed to feel that it was all very reasonable, and
Cass was dismayed now to feel hostility in the Eino to whom he was
entirely hostile!  Suddenly Cass wanted to run off to the security
of slippers and Cleo and a chess-problem.  In a wondrously nervous
state, between humble haughtiness and haughty humbleness before a
dramaturgic butter-maker, he tacked successfully for an hour, and
he was rewarded, when he said that it was time to go, by Jinny's
coming down the outside staircase with him.

The step at the foot of the stairs was no romantic site; it was a
scuffed and scabby plank which creaked.  In the small yard outside,
an old hen of a maple tree perched amid patchy short grass, and the
rusty old iron fence smelled of rusty old iron.  Across the street,
a man in a lighted upper window stood scratching himself.

But she was in the half-darkness with him; he saw her throat above
the soft black dress, he caught the scent of her hair, surely a
different scent from any other in the world.  She was herself
different from anyone else, a complete individual, courageous and
joyful and yet so fragile that she must be protected.  He held her
hand, and quaked with the feeling of it.  There was no doubt now,
he decided, that he was utterly in love with her, that her small
dim presence was a vast blazing temple.  She was not something that
he had imagined in his loneliness.  She was life.

He stumbled, "Look, Jinny.  Have you ever been to the Unstable for
dinner?"

"Just once."

"Like it?"

"It's fun."

"Will you dine with me there, next Tuesday or Wednesday?"

"I'd be glad to--say Tuesday."

The fact that she had chosen the earlier day was enough to send him
home singing "Mandalay," with much feeling and no tune.

After one in the morning, he sat in his leather chair and Cleo sat
on the hearth.  He was posing for himself a legal question:  Was he
trying to seduce Jinny?

That would be extremely agreeable, if it could be accomplished, and
not much more criminal than setting fire to a children's hospital.
Reputable men did do it.  It was obvious, he thought, that she was
a little too young and too spirited to marry him, and even if she
would accept him, would it not be a wickedness to introduce her in
that dullest of all sets in Grand Republic, to which, by habit, he
belonged?  He had seen girls, lively and defiant, marry
householders on Ottawa Heights, and within ten years become faintly
wrinkled at the neck, and given to stating as rigidly as their own
horrid grandmothers that all servants are thankless brutes.

And how well did Jinny understand him?  Would she be able to endure
it if he took off the grave judicial manner which he wore for
protection, and betrayed himself as a Midwestern Don Quixote, one-
sixteenth Sioux and one-sixteenth poet: a bridge-player who thought
that bridge was dull, a Careful Investor who sympathized with
hoboes, a calm and settled householder who envied Thoreau his cabin
and Villon his wild girls?

"I ought to marry some woman who likes what I'm trying to do.
Though I suppose I ought to find out first just what I am trying to
do!"

He ended his brooding with a cry that made Cleo leap protesting
into the air:

"I do love that girl so!"



9


The Unstable had been a stable and it had been a speakeasy and now
it was the local Pre-Catelan, nine miles out of town, on the bank
of the Big Eagle River, facing the rugged bluffs.  The interior was
in bright green, with chairs of polished steel and crimson
composition tables decorated with aluminum blossoms, in semi-
circular booths, and it had an orchestra of piano, saxophone,
violin, and drum.  By day, piano was a dry-goods clerk, saxophone
was a Wargate warehouse-hand, violin was a lady hair-dresser, and
drum was asleep.  Its food was the standard Steak & Chicken, but
its whisky was excellent.  Its most pious contribution to living
was that in this land where autumn too often trips on the heels of
spring and, except on picnics, people dine inside, it did have
outdoor tables, not of composition but of honest, old-fashioned,
beer-stained pine.

At such a table, in a grape-arbor, Cass and Jinny had dined slowly,
looking at each other oftener than at the crisp chicken, the fresh
radishes.  They had talked of their childhoods, and they seemed
united by fate when they found that he had, as a boy, hunted
prairie chickens in the vast round of wheat stubble just beyond her
native village of Pioneer Falls.

He urged, "You know what I'd like most to do, besides learning a
little law and maybe having a farm way up in the hills above the
Sorshay Valley?  I'd like to paddle a canoe, or at least my half of
the canoe, from New York City to Hudson's Bay, by way of the Hudson
and the Great Lakes and the old fur-trappers' trail at Grand
Portage, up here on Lake Superior.  It would take maybe six months,
camping out all that time.  Wouldn't that be exciting?"

"Ye-es."

"Do you think you'd like to go along?"

"I don't know--I'm afraid I've never planned anything like that."

"You can come in imagination, can't you?"

"Oh--maybe.  Provided we could go to New Orleans--in imagination!--
to rest up afterward, and live in the French Quarter in a flat with
an iron balcony, and eat gumbo.  Could we do that?"

"Why not!"

They saw that they need not all their lives stick to courts and
factories and city streets, but actually do such pleasant,
extravagant things . . . if they shaped life together.

He cried, "Approval from the higher court!  Look!"

The moon had come out from a black-hearted, brazen-edged cloud, to
illuminate the wide barley-fields on the uplands across the river,
with one small yellow light in a farmhouse, and the fantastically
carved and poplar-robed bluffs of the Big Eagle.  Wild roses gave
their dusty scent, and inside the rackety roadhouse, the jukebox
softly played Jerome Kern.  It was everything that was most
Christmas-calendar and banal:  June, moon, roses, song, a man and a
girl; banal as birth and death and war, banal and eternal; the
Perfect Moment which a man knows but a score of times in his whole
life.  All respectable-citizen thoughts about whether they should
be married, and should they keep the maple bedstead in the gray
room, were burned out of him, and he loved the maid as simply and
fiercely as any warrior.  He ceased to be just Cass Timberlane; he
was a flame-winged seraph guarding the gentle angel.  They floated
together in beauty.  They were not doing anything so common as to
hold hands; it was their spirits that reached and clung, made
glorious by the moment that would die.

When the moon was gone under a marbled cloud and the music ceased
and there was only silence and lingering awe, she whispered, so low
that he was not quite sure that she had said it, "That frightened
me!  It was too beautiful.  'On such a night--'  Oh, Cass!"

She was chatty and audible enough afterward, and she carefully
called him "Judge," but he knew that they were intimates.

As they drove home she prattled, "Judge, I have an important
message.  Tilda Hatter wants to give a party for you at the
boarding-house--all of us do, of course."

"Except Eino, who objects?"

She giggled.  "But don't you think his objection is flattering?
I've only heard him object before to Henry James and Germany and
stamp-collecting. . . .  You will come?  You'll love Lyra Coggs."

"I'm sure I will.  She's a great girl. . . .  What are you
snickering at?"

"You do try so hard not to be the judge, tolerating us noisy
brats!"

"I swear that's not so.  Surely you're onto me by now.  More than
anything else, I'm still the earnest schoolboy that wants to learn
everything.  And there's so much you can teach me.  I certainly
don't regard myself as aged, at only forty-one, but still YOU--you
were born the year of the Russian revolution, you've always known
airplanes and the radio.  I want to understand them as you do."

"And the things _I_ want to learn!  Biology and hockey and
Swedish!"

"How about anthropology and crop-rotation?"

"Okay.  And fencing and flower-arrangement and gin-rummy and
Buddhism."

"Do most of the kids at Miss Hatter's want to learn anything?  They
sound smug to me."

"They are not!  If you knew how we talk when we're alone!  Oh,
maybe too much slang and cursing and talk about sex."

He winced.  He did not care for the picture of Eino Roskinen
"talking about sex" with a helpless Jinny . . . if she was
helpless.

"But that's because we're sick of the pompous way that all you
older people go on, over and over, about politics and affairs in
Europe and how you think we drink too much."

"Well, don't you?"

"Maybe.  But WE know how to handle OUR liquor."

"I doubt it."

"So do I!"  She laughed, and he was in love with her again, after a
measureless five seconds during which he had detested her for the
egotism of youth.  She piped on, "But I do think we're a terribly
honest lot."

"You don't think I'm the kind of politician that hates honesty?"

She said her "Oh, you're different," and the good man found the
wisdom to stop talking and to feel the magic of having her there
cozily beside him: her smooth arms, her hands folded in her lap,
her thin corn-yellow dress and the small waist belted with
glittering jet whose coolness his hand wanted to follow.  She was
there with him, this girl who was different from any female since
Eve, and he was thus sanctified. . . .  And did it really matter
when she unfolded the fairy hands and smoked her seventh cigarette
that evening?

Didn't the vestal Chris smoke too much?

The intrusion of Chris worried him.  She had no hold on him but--
well--if Chris saw him driving with this girl, there would be
trouble.

--Why should there be trouble?  I'm independent of her and of
everybody else--well, maybe not of Jinny.

He said aloud, "What about your drafting at Fliegends'?  I suppose
you want to go study in Paris, and become a famous artist."

"No, I have no real ideas.  I'm just a fair workman, at best.  I'll
never have what they call a 'career.'"

He was so little Feminist as to be pleased.

As they drove up to Miss Hatter's he wound up all the tinsel of his
thoughts in one bright ball and tossed it to her:  "I certainly
have enjoyed this evening!"

She answered with equal poesy, "So have I!"

He tentatively kissed her hand.  She could not have noticed it, for
she said only, "You'll come to our party, week from Thursday,
then?"

"Yes, sweet.  Good night."



10


The surprising objects that you see when you leave your own Grand
Republic and go traveling--pink snakes and polar bears--are nothing
beside what you find when you stay at home and have a new girl and
meet her friends, whose resentment of you is only less than your
amazement that there are such people and that she likes them.

At Tilda Hatter's party, Cass was first uncomfortable because he
was the only Elder Statesman present and the young people showed
their independence by unduly ignoring him.  Then the gods presiding
over that form of torture called social gatherings switched to the
opposite ordeal, and he found himself the rival of another
celebrity, of whom, just to be difficult, the bright young people
did make much.

Besides the boarders, Jinny, Eino, Tracy Oleson, and the efficient
Miss Gunton and Miss Coggs, there were present a couple of
schoolteachers, the leftist county agricultural agent, and a young
Norwegian-American grain expert who had once run for the
Legislature.  They sat tremendously upon the floor and talked, and
all of them, including Jinny, to Cass's delicate distress, had
Bourbon highballs.

Their talk was tempestuous.  They said that America should join
Great Britain in its war against Germany, but that many of the Rich
Guys on Ottawa Heights were Isolationists.  They said that it was
okay--that was how they put it--for a man and a woman to live
together without clerical license.  Cass was shocked when he heard
the pure young novice, Jinny, chirping, "Old people today are just
as afraid of Sex as their grandfathers were."

They all looked at Cass, but forbiddingly did not ask him what he
thought.  Eino Roskinen, squatted beside Jinny, drew her toward
him, and she leaned with her back against his shoulder, and Cass
violently did not notice.

He did not understand their family words and jokes.  One of them
had only to say "Hail the Hippopotamus!" for the whole tribe to
guffaw.  He was not too old for them--he was perhaps eight years
older than Wilma or Tracy--but he felt too bookish, too
responsible, too closely shaved, too alone.

He had become used to his de facto banishment when Lucius and Erica
Fliegend and Sweeney Fishberg came in.

Sweeney Fishberg was perhaps the most remarkable man in the cosmos
of Grand Republic and surrounding terrain.

He was an attorney, of liberal tastes, equally likely to take a
labor-union case for nothing or to take the most fraudulent of
damage suits for a contingent fee which, to the fury of his Yankee
wife, he was likely to give to a fund for strikers--any strikers on
any strike.  He was a saint and a shyster; part Jewish and part
Irish and part German; he had once acted in a summer stock company,
and once taught Greek in a West Virginia college; he was a Roman
Catholic, and a mystic who bothered his priest with metaphysical
questions; he was in open sympathy with the Communist Party.

For twenty years, ever since he had come to Grand Republic from his
natal Massachusetts at the age of thirty, he had been fighting all
that was rich and proud and puffy in the town, and he had never won
a single fight nor lost his joy in any of them, and he was red-
headed and looked like a Cockney comedian.  He was nine years older
than Cass, and no lawyer in the district ever brought such doubtful
suits into court, yet no lawyer was more decorous, more co-
operative with the judge, and Cass believed that Sweeney had thrown
to him all the votes he could influence in Cass's elections as
congressman, judge, and member of the Aurora Borealis Bock Beer and
Literary Association.

It was Sweeney Fishberg who was Cass's rival as celebrity of the
evening and who led the hazing.

Pretending not to know that Cass had even heard of them, Sweeney
and the Fliegends and Tracy Oleson and the county agent agreed that
Dr. Roy Drover was a butcher, that Bradd Criley was a Fascist, and
that the Reverend Dr. Lloyd Garrison Gadd, Cass's distant cousin
and his pastor, was a "phony liberal" who loved the wage-workers
but underpaid his cook.  It was clear to Cass that he was being
drawn, but whenever he wanted to be angry, he remembered that this
was the malice with which Roy and Bradd talked of Sweeney Fishberg
and would have talked of Mr. Fliegend had they ever considered him
important enough to mention.  With prayer and resolution, Cass got
through his hazing, and all of them began to look at him in a fond
and neighborly way--all but Eino.  Not Eino, ever.

On the ground of helping mix the highballs, Cass followed Jinny to
the kitchen, a coop shocking with dirty dishes.  He spoke savagely.
"Did you plan to have all those Robespierres gang up on me?"

"Not really.  And they've often ganged up on me, for what they
think is my innocence."

"Are you in love with that Roskinen?  Now, please, I don't mean to
sound rude, but I must know.  Are you engaged to him or anything?"

"Not anything."

"Are you engaged to anybody?"  His arm circled her shoulder.

"Not just now.  Don't, Cass.  You're choking me."

"I almost could choke you when you let that Roskinen--Oh, I suppose
he's a decent-enough boy, but I'm furious when you let him maul
you, put his hand on your breast."

She flared, as if she hated him, "You have a vile mind!"  But when
he jerked back like a slapped five-year-old, she softened.
"Honestly, darling, it doesn't mean a thing, with a colt like Eino,
but if you want me to act like a lady, I'll try, and how I dread
it!"

He kissed her, long and seriously, surprised by the soft fleshiness
of her lips.  She squeezed away from him with an embarrassed
"Well!" and fled from him, carrying back into the living-room the
still-unwashed glasses she had brought with her.  As Cass leaned
against the untidy sink, overwhelmed, feeling guilty but assuring
himself that she had responded to his kiss, Eino Roskinen came in,
glaring.

"Now this is going to be melodrama," Cass thought protestingly.

Eino was in his uniform as a young radical: dark jacket, soft
shirt, small black bow tie; and he was militant.

"I want to ask you something, sir."

"Need you call me 'sir'?"

"Maybe.  Look.  I'm very fond of Virginia.  I'm kind of her
brother.  I notice you hanging around her, and you don't belong
down here in the slums."

"Slums?"

"I guess they're that to you.  You belong on the Heights.  I want
to know what the idea is.  I guess, aside from your being a judge,
that you could break me in two--you're a sporting gent, I suppose.
But if I found out that you were just having a little fun trying to
make her, I'd take a chance on killing you."

"Eino, that's funny."

"How?"

"Because that's the way I've been thinking about you!  I'm in love
with Jinny.  I want to marry her, if I can.  You're in love with
her, too?"

"And how!  Except when she gets frivolous when I talk about the
principles of co-operative distribution."  Eino sighed.  "But I
can't marry anybody, for years."

"So--"

"Oh, you probably win.  You would!"

"Eino!"  The boy was astonished by Cass's fervor.  "There's nobody
else to whom I can say this.  I worship that girl, and I hope
you'll be my friend as you are hers."

"Okay," said Eino, tragically.

Cass said good-bye to her at one-thirty, in the presence of the
entire underground.  Before going to bed, he spent half an hour in
stroking Cleo and wanting to telephone to Jinny.  But he held off
till next evening and then demanded, Would she take a walk with him
tomorrow evening?

Yes.  Without reservations.

He hoped the Bunch hadn't been too hard on him after he had crawled
away--

"Judge, you never crawled!"

"CASS!"

"Cass."

"Tomorrow at eight?  And a movie afterwards?"

"AND a movie.  And a caramel sundae."

With that telephone conversation, touching on the deeper issues of
life and passion, he felt satisfied.  He was irritated but too
canny to say anything about it when Mrs. Higbee (with the aid of
Cleo) brought him an evening toddy and looked ribald and knowing.

"I can't run this big house all by myself," inwardly complained
Cass, who never yet had run it.



11


Bergheim, Cass's house, the old Eisenherz country place, looked out
over the bluffs.  It had neither a city nor a suburban aspect, but
suggested a comfortable village.  At the back, where the grass was
more like an ancient pasture than a prim lawn, there was a green-
painted wooden well, and the white-painted stable, with its pert
cupola, suggested a print of the 1880's and long gentlemen with
whiskers and driving-gloves, lace ladies with parasols, and spotted
coach-dogs with their tails aloft in that fresher breeze.  But what
to Cass had always been, still was, a last touch of European
elegance in Bergheim was that it had Walnut-colored Venetian
blinds.

Across the street from Cass was the abode of Scott and Juliet Zago,
who had for years been notorious as being happily married.  They
called their house, which displayed fake half-timbering, and wavy
shingles imitating thatch, sometimes "The Playhouse" and sometimes
"The Doll's House," Juliet, you see, being the doll.  She was
thirty-five to Scott's fifty, but she let people think that the gap
was ten years greater.  She was the chronic child-wife; she talked
baby-talk and wriggled and beamed and poked her forefinger at
things; and she often pretended to be the big sister of her two
small daughters.

Scott dealt in insurance, and he made jokes and made puns.  Juliet
read all the books about China and Tibet and gave you her condensed
version of them--not much condensed, at that--with her own system
of pronunciation of Chinese proper names.

Yet Cass, who disliked puns and was readily sickened by baby-talk,
did not detest the Zagos, and theirs was the only house in the
neighborhood to which Cleo ever wandered.  For they were the
kindest of neighbors, as affectionate as parakeets.

On one side of Cass's place lived the Perfect Prutts.

John William Prutt, the father, was a banker; the most first-rate
second-rate banker in the entire state.  He was president of the
Second National Bank.  It could just as well have been called the
First National Bank, since the institution once so named had
perished, but Mr. Prutt's bank would have to be a second, never a
first nor yet a last.  He was fifty years old and always had been.
He was perfect; in everything that was second-class he was perfect.
He was a vestryman, but not the leading vestryman, of St. Anselm's
Church; he had been a vice-president but never the president of the
Federal Club.  He was tall and solemnly handsome, and he never
split an infinitive or a bottle.

His wife, Henrietta Prutt, his son, Jack Prutt, his daughter,
Margaret Prutt, his dog, Dick Prutt, and even his Buick car, the
Buick of the Prutts, were as full of perfection and Pruttery as
John William Prutt himself.

The Prutts lived in a supposedly little white Colonial cottage that
had somehow grown into a huge white Colonial army-barracks, yet
still breathed the purity of Jonathan Edwards, and just beyond it,
in a hulk of grim dark native stone, lived another banker, Norton
Trock, who collected china and sounded like a lady.

On the other side of Cass's house was the blindingly white,
somewhat Spanish and somewhat packing-box, stucco residence of
Gregory Marl, owner of the presumably liberal and Independent
Republican newspapers, the Banner and the Evening Frontier, with
the Sunday Frontier-Banner, the only English-language newspapers in
Grand Republic.  He was a large, quiet, secretly industrious man of
thirty-five; he had inherited the paper but had raised their
circulations; he was a rose-grower and a Bermuda yachtsman.  The
star of his household, and a bright and menacing November star, was
his wife Diantha, who was on every committee in town, and who knew
something and talked a great deal about painting and the drama and
a mystery called Foreign Affairs.  But her major art was as
hostess, and as the Marls had no children, Diantha could spend
weeks in planning a party.  She was the rival of Madge Dedrick as
the general utility duchess and Mrs. Astor of the city.

Madge Dedrick, relict of Sylvanus Dedrick, the lumber baron, lived
a little beyond the Prutts, in a handsome, high-pillared Georgian
house that had exactly the same lines (condensed) as Boone Havock's
and did not in the least look like it.  Madge's half-dozen small
flower-gardens looked like gardens of flowers, while Mr. Havock's
looked like paper posies, the larger size, bought last night and
pinned on crooked in the darkness.

At seventy, Mrs. Dedrick was small and soft-voiced, powdery of
cheek, with tiny plump hands and great powers, held shrewdly under
control, of derision and obscenity.  Now living with her was her
tall, doe-eyed, aloof, divorced daughter, Eve Dedrick Champeris,
who had been reared in Grand Republic, Farmington, New York,
Cannes, and Santa Barbara, and who had divorced the charming Mr.
Raymond Champeris on the good, old-fashioned grounds of drinking
like a sot and passing out at costly parties.  It seemed like such
a waste of champagne, Eve explained.

Diantha Marl tempted society with high intellectual conversation
plus string quartets and dynamite cocktails; Madge and Eve Dedrick
with cool Rhine wines in a low-lit, satin-paneled room filled with
silver and crystal and cushions and exquisite legs and lively
spitefulness, so that the Wargates, who had ten times as much
money, politely accepted the invitations of both Diantha and the
Dedricks.



On all these rulers of Grand Republic Cass meditated, while he
fretted the question of whether Jinny would really like being
lifted from her boarding-house to the stuffy elegance of Ottawa
Heights.  He wanted to persuade himself that she would like Boone
Havock and Eve Champeris better than Eino Roskinen and Sweeney
Fishberg.  It was hard to play Prince to the Cinderella when he
suspected that all the windows in Castle Charming were glued shut.
He conducted extensive imaginary conversations with her, trying to
give both sides, which is likely to be confusing.

"Scott and Juliet--jolly people--wonderful at an outdoor barbecue,"
he heard himself informing Jinny, who snapped back, "Silly pair of
clowns!"

"Gregory and Diantha Marl--leaders in public thought."

"Scared conservatives throwing calico babies to the union wolves!"

"Bradd Criley and Jay Laverick and Frank Brightwing--very amusing
fellows."

"That's something LIKE it.  Just let me meet them, and you keep the
others."

--Now what kind of a mind have I got, to give a nonexistent
antagonist the best of an argument?  As I'm making the whole thing
up anyway, why don't I have Jinny vanquished and humble and
adoring?



If he ever married Jinny, he would have to lure in new dinner-
guests without offending the old ones, and then, probably, Jinny
would not like the novelties.  He thought of a party at which he
introduced the Rev. Dr. Evan Brewster, Negro pastor of an unpainted
Baptist church in the North End, and Ph.D. of Columbia, to Dr.
Drover and Eve Champeris, and how bored Dr. Brewster would be by
their patter and how much danger there would be that Jinny would
too openly agree.

Then, "Oh dry up!" said Cass to his imagination.

When the spring term of court was over, he was free for all summer,
except for special sessions and a few days in the outlying towns of
the district.  They wound up with a solemn meeting of Judges
Blackstaff, Flaaten, and Timberlane _in re_ the portentous
question: should the judges of this district, when on the bench,
wear silk robes, as in Minneapolis?

The three dignitaries sat about the long oak table in Judge
Blackstaff's chambers, smoking unaccustomed cigars, the gift of
their host, and grew red-faced with the ardor of their debate.

"It's a matter of dignity," maintained Judge Blackstaff, looking
more than usual like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.  "I don't hold
with these English wigs and heavy robes, but I do think we have to
show the public, which is so irreverent and flippant today, all
jazz and comic strips, that we represent the sanctity of Justice."

"Dignity, hell!" Judge Flaaten protested.  "Every time some Norske
or Svenske saw me in a black-silk nightshirt, it would cost me ten
votes.  Besides, robes are hot."

Judge Timberlane put in, "Not very, Conrad.  They can be quite
light.  Besides, Grand Republic is the coolest city in the state
south of Duluth.  Besides, do you want to have the boys on the
bench in Minneapolis go on laughing at us as a bunch of farmer
j.p.'s?"

"I don't care a damn what they laugh at as long as the voting
Lut'erans like us," insisted Judge Flaaten.  He glared at Judge
Blackstaff.  "Steve, this is a serious matter.  Are we going to
yield up the high principles of common democracy to the bawds--uh--
the gauds of the outworn Old World?"

"Hurray!" breathed Judge Timberlane.

"Cass, can't you be serious?" worried Judge Blackstaff.  "This is a
special court of protocol, which may go far to determine the
standing of the judiciary in Grand Republic for all time to come.
Write your votes on the yellow pads, boys, and fold 'em--and give
me back those pencils when you get done with 'em.  It's a caution
the way my pencils get stolen!"

Silk robes for district judges won by two to one, and when autumn
came, none of them more proudly showed his robe to his relatives
than Judge Flaaten.  Judge Timberlane did not care so much.  There
was only one person for whom he wanted to wear his robe, and by
prodigious chicanery he lured her into the court to see it.  But--
such is life--she only laughed.



12


The select golf-and-tennis association of Grand Republic was the
Heather Club, three miles from the business center, on a peninsula
reaching out from the south shore of Dead Squaw Lake.  Surrounding
it was the smart new real-estate development called the Country
Club District, habitat of such gilded young married couples as the
Harley Bozards, the Don Pennlosses, the Beecher Filligans, and the
playground of Jay Laverick, the town's principal professional Gay
Bachelor, who happened to be a widower.  The houses were Spanish,
like Hollywood, or French, like Great Neck, and the Heather club-
house was a memory of Venice, with balconies, iron railings, and a
canal thirty-six feet long.

To the Heather Club in late June Cass came for one of the famous
Saturday Evening Keno Games.  Keno (a sport beloved by the more
aged and pious Irishwomen also) consists in placing a bean upon a
number called out by some swindler unknown, through an unseen loud-
speaker, and after you have breathlessly placed enough beans upon
enough numbers, you fail to get the prize.  It is not so
intellectual as chess or skipping the rope, but it is a favorite
among Grand Republic's leading citizens, who gather at the Heather
Club on every Saturday evening in summer, to drink cocktails and
play keno and then drink a lot more.

With only one cocktail in him, Cass was deaf to the joys of keno
this evening, and he wished that he were deaf to the crackling
voices about him at the dozen long tables, as he somberly put down
his beans.  Roy Drover's shouts of "Send us a thirty-two, baby,
send us a thirty-two, come on, baby, come on, hand us a thirty-two"
merely rivaled Queenie Havock's parrot shrieks and Norton Trock's
high giggling, while Eve Champeris had a flushed mild imbecility
about her lily face.  Delia Lent, a purposeful lady though rich,
sat beside Cass, babbling about trout-fishing, but presently he
could hear nothing that she said.  All the hundred voices were
woven into a blanket of sound that covered Cass and choked him.

Abruptly, while Mrs. Lent stared at his lack of manners, Cass
bolted from the table, charged toward the bar.  He would have to
have a quantity of drinks, if he was going to survive these
pleasures.  He passed an alcove in which two grim women, too
purposeful about gambling to waste time on keno, were hour after
hour yanking the handles of twenty-five-cent slot machines.  He
passed a deep chair in which sat two married people--not married to
each other.  He looked into the card room where Boone Havock, Mayor
Stopple, Judge Flaaten, Counselor Oliver Beehouse, and Alfred
Limbaugh, the hardware king, were playing tough poker in a refined
way.

Jinny's spirit walked with him derisively.

He had almost reached the forgetfulness to be found at the bar when
beyond it, in the Ladies' Lounge, he saw Chris Grau, having a
liqueur with Lillian Drover.  He stopped, in cold guiltiness, and
the imaginary Jinny fled.

He had not seen Chris for ten days, and as she looked at him, all
her kindness in her good brown eyes, he shivered.  But he
obediently chain-ganged into the lounge.  Lillian Drover rose,
tittering, in washed-out imitation of her husband's humor, "I guess
I better leave you two young lovers alone, if I know what's good
for me."

Chris's smile indicated that that would be fine.

The Ladies' Lounge, which had been named that by Diantha Marl,
after having been christened the Rubens Room by the Milwaukee
architect-decorator who had done the club in the finest Moorish
style known in his city, was a harem, with grilled windows, a
turquoise-blue tiled floor, and a resigned fountain.  It was
suitable to the harem feeling that Chris should be wearing a loose-
throated lilac dress.

Cass sat facing her, with an entirely mechanical "Can I get you
another drink?"

"Not for me.  There's too much drinking here.  I'm glad you're so
sober.  But then, you always are.  It's these younger people that
are breaking down the bulwarks of society with their guzzling and
shrieking and indecent dancing."

"Now, now, Chris, the drunkest person here tonight is Queenie
Havock, and she's well over fifty, and I saw Bernice Claywheel, and
she must be over forty, out dancing on the terrace with Jay
Laverick as though she expected to eat him."

"Ye-es I know, but--You simply love the sweet young things, don't
you, Cassy--Cass."

"M?"

"I'm sure you had a wonderful time with your beautiful unknown at
the Unstable, two weeks ago!"

"Why, I--Yes I did!"

"And did you enjoy holding hands in the moonlight?"

He tried to be jaunty.  "Enjoyed it very much.  Especially as I
don't suppose I'll have another chance, alas!"

--Why don't you tell Chris to go to the devil?  She's not your
guardian.

"So you don't think you'll see her again, eh, Cass darling.
Honestly, now--honestLEE--you know I'm not the nagging sort of girl
that would even ask who she was, and certainly I'm not the kind
that would go around hinting and whispering that a man who isn't so
young any more--"

"What do you--"

"--is making a fool of himself over some young tramp.  I was just
teasing you about this girl.  Of course I KNOW you'd never fall for
her, whoever she is.  So let's not say anything more about it,
dear."

"I hadn't said anything at all!"

"That's what I say.  Honestly, I was just joking.  Now tell me:
will you get the Fleeber-Biskness case in the fall, or will they
settle it?"

Now the affaire Fleeber-Biskness was a fascinating controversy, to
Judge Timberlane, but it had not seemed so to the crass public.  It
was a conversion case, dealing with the possession of a warehouse
28' 7" X 62' 8".  Cass was glad once more to see what a sympathetic
brain Chris had and, as he looked at them again, what sleek legs.
As the palace of pleasure rang with the bacchanalia of keno, he
explained to this willing hearer the low tricks Mr. Biskness was
accused of having played with a carload of clay.  He stumbled as
she crossed her legs and he realized that, with innocent spinster
boldness, she had come without stockings.

This was in the prim pre-war era of 1941, when it is true that
bathing-suits had been reduced to an emphasized nudity, but when
perfect ladies still did not display naked legs in public rooms.
The Judge was a person of decorum and modesty, but he was
interested.

--Chris would give a lover such solid affection--probably much more
than a filly like Jinny Marshland.

Not unmindful of the careless lilac-colored skirt but determined to
be high-minded, he went on with the case, winding up, "You
understand, that's only Fleeber's version, and it's a matter of
record.  I'm not giving away any secrets."

"Sure.  I know you never tell tales out of court," said Chris,
fondly.

"If I ever did, you'd be the one person I could rely on.  What's
say we have a drink?"

"I'd love to," gurgled the strange woman in lilac.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives


THE ZEBRA SISTERS


The Quimber Girls, better known to the ribald of Grand Republic as
the Zebra Sisters, belonged to a real family, lively and devoted,
full of anecdotes that began with laughter and, "Oh, do you
remember the time when."  Their father, Millard Quimber, who was
still alive, aged eighty-one, was the city superintendent of
schools from 1895 to 1928.  He was referred to in the press as "one
of our greatest builders," because during his reign there had been
erected three red-brick school-buildings which looked like red-
brick school-buildings.  He was also known as a "profound scholar,"
because he continually quoted Bobby Burns and Henry Van Dyke and
the first two lines of the Iliad, almost in the original Greek.

His three daughters were named Zoe, Zora, and Zeta; they were born
between 1890 and 1900; they were fine, big, bouncing hussars of
women, hearty at winter sports, discursive about their husbands,
all philoprogenitive, all ardent Presbyterians, though with secret
desires to be Episcopalians and chic.  Their favorite words were
family, chickabiddies, earnest, expensive, womanly, jolly, and ice
cream.

Their several husbands were derisively referred to at the Heather
Club bar as the Brothers-in-Law, Incorporated.

Zoe, the youngest daughter, was married to Harold W. Whittick, the
owner of radio station KICH and of Whittick & Bruntz, a two-room
advertising agency which existed chiefly to tell a house-hungry
world about Wargate Wood Products.  When the chairman of a Rotary
Club luncheon at which Harold W. was to speak (about Progress)
asked him what to say in introduction, Harold W. wrote a
description of himself which may stand as modest and accurate:

"Not only the most streamlined but the most up-to-the-second
moderne citizen of Grand Republic."

But Harold W. was, as the chairman laughingly said--you know,
kidding him--not himself in Rotary, because he was National
Assistant Treasurer of the rival Streamlineup Club, a service
organization distinctive in that it had all the speeches BEFORE
lunch, when everybody was "still on his toes, full of ginger and
not of hash."

Zora, the middle Zebra, was fondly wed to Duncan Browler, first
vice president of the Wargate Corporation, in charge of
manufacture.  Unlike Harold W. Whittick, he did not make speeches.

The oldest, Zeta, was married to Alfred T. Umbaugh, a gentle and
predatory soul who admired his brother-in-law Harold and who, more
nearly than the other two husbands, endured the demands of his wife
that he be jolly and amorous.  He was the chief owner of the Button
Bright Chain of Hardware Stores, twenty-seven of them, all shiny
and yellow, scattered through Minnesota and the Dakotas, with one
far-flung outpost or consulate in Montana.  This imperial standing
made him, like Browler, eligible to the Federal and Heather Clubs.
Naturally, Whittick had also been admitted to those twin heavens,
but with a warning from the committee that he would do well not to
get oratorical and forward-looking after his fourth highball, and
while he was at the table of the blest, he was about ten feet below
the salt.

Harold, Duncan and Alfred were unlike in tempo, but they were all
true husbands to the Zebra.  All three of them were irritated by
their wives but never thought of quitting them, all of them had
sons and daughters, all were devoted to golf, fishing, musical-
comedy movies, motor boats, and Florida, and all of them had new
houses, in the Country Club District, of which they were fiercely
proud and for which they would have done murder.  None of them was
eccentric, except that Harold W. Whittick--just for a josh,
everybody said; to show off and try to be different--asserted that
he had once voted for a Democratic candidate for the presidency,
Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  And all of them, though grumblingly,
consented to be ruled and extensively discussed by The Family.

They all dined with Grampa Quimber every Sunday noon; and each
Thursday, one of the three sisters was hostess to the others and
their broods, with the one great-grandchild in The Family, that of
the Umbaughs, asleep upstairs.  At these feasts, Harold W. Whittick
usually told the story about the Irishman and the cigar-counter
girl; and there was a good deal of innocent laughter about the
time, in 1936, when Mr. Browler got drunk at an Elks' Convention
and bought a small red fire engine.

An unusual feature of the Zebra gatherings was the fifteenth-
century frankness with which the sisters reported on the
progressive feebleness of their husbands as lovers.  They were
rugged and healthy girls, and expected a lot, and did not get it.
However, they sighed, it was something that neither Harold W. nor
Alfred T. nor Duncan "ever so much as looked at any woman outside
the home."

That's what they thought.

The Brothers-in-Law, Inc. jointly made business trips to
Minneapolis, where they stayed at the magnificent Hotel Swanson-
Grand, with three connecting bedrooms and a parlor.  Of the uses to
which these rooms were put, the Sisters knew nothing.  The
Brothers-in-Law were stalwarts, pledged and reliable, and so were
their Grand Republic friends who managed to be in Minneapolis at
the same time.

Half an hour after the Brothers' arrival, the parlor was turned
into a complete bar.  Within half an hour more, the girls had
arrived--not traditional young blondes who glittered, nothing so
frigid and boring, but dependable young women of thirty, who worked
in offices and banks and stores, who understood hard liquor and
liked men.

By two next morning there was a tremendous amount of laughter and
communal undressing, to the nervous delight of such Grand Republic
visitors as Mayor Stopple, Harley Bozard, Jay Laverick, and Boone
Havock.

New York and Chicago and London visitors to Grand Republic,
particularly if they were journalists renowned for shrewdness,
concluded that Harold W., Alfred T., and Duncan were the most
conventional, most standardized, most wife-smothered and children-
nagged citizens of our evangelical land, but in truth they belonged
among the later Roman Emperors, and he that has never seen Duncan
Browler, elder of the Presbyterian Church, standing in his cotton
shorts, a lady telephone-supervisor clasped in his right arm, a
half-tumbler of straight Dainty Darling Bourbon Whisky waving in
his left hand, the while he sings "It's Time to Go Upstairs," has
only the shallowest notion of the variety of culture in our Grand
Republic, a city which, in different dialects, has also been called
Grand Rapids and Bangor and Phoenix and Wichita and Hartford and
Baton Rouge and Spokane and Rochester and Trenton and Scranton and
San Jose and Rutland and Duluth and Dayton and Pittsfield and
Durham and Cedar Rapids and Fort Wayne and Ogden and Madison and
Nashville and Utica and South Bend and Peoria and Canton and Tacoma
and Sacramento and Elizabeth and San Antonio and St. Augustine and
Lincoln and Springfieldill and Springfieldmass and Springfieldmo
and Ultima Thule and the United States of America.



13


Judge Timberlane had heard of middle-aged satyrs who worked their
will upon frail maidens by promising them riches and magenta-
colored cars but never introduced them to the respectable families
of their circles.  But the Judge himself wanted his entire world to
know his fleet Jinny.  He stopped in at Miss Hatter's, he discussed
with Tracy Oleson the import of wood pulp, then got Jinny aside to
whisper, "I'd like to have a buffet supper for you and have you
meet my friends--you needn't like 'em if you don't want to.  And
maybe you'd like to invite Tracy?  He's quite a bright fellow."

Perhaps he sounded condescending, without meaning to, for she
answered irritably, "I don't want to meet a lot of rich people
looking for somebody to snub!"

"But very few of them are rich and none of them are snobbish.  I
meant people like Abbott Hubbs, managing editor of the Banner.
I'll bet the owner, Greg Marl, doesn't pay him enough to afford
breakfast.  And my sister, Rose Pennloss, and my old chum, Bradd
Criley--good lawyer and the best dancer in town.  People that you'd
love, if you knew 'em."

"I don't want to be shown off, Cass.  I'm perfectly happy right
here where I am, and if I do ever get anywhere else, I want to do
it by myself."

It took him five minutes to persuade Cinderella that the glass
slipper was pretty and then, just to keep him entirely confused,
she said that she would love a party, and if she had sounded
grudging, it had been only because she was surprised.



The buffet-supper for her was to be at the Heather Club, which was
crowded only on Saturday evenings.  When he picked her up in his
car, she did not expect him to take Tracy Oleson, that muffler,
along with them; and she was not prudish when he suggested that, as
they were early, they could stop at his house on the way.  (It was
not on the way.)

At Bergheim she stepped out wonderingly under the wedding-cake
carriage-porch and pronounced, "Oh, I love it!  Like Walter Scott!"

She was wearing again the little black net dress in which she was
so pathetically grown-up, and the one silver rose.

Silent, head turning quickly to one side and the other, she
preceded him into the dolorous hall, into the drawing-room, which
was too long, too narrow, and too high, and in one corner
surprisingly darted off, under a varnished pine grill, into a
semicircular alcove which was the lowest story of the tower.  It
was an ill-lighted room, with wallpaper of Chinese pagodas and
bridges, with overcarved and unwieldy furniture upholstered in
plum-colored plush and ornamented with a Michigan version of
Chinese dragons; a room profuse in Chinese vases, Aztec pottery,
embossed brass coffee tables, Venetian glass lamps, and colored
photographs of Lake Louise; a room that was unutterably all wrong,
and yet was stately and a home.

Jinny stood in the middle and looked about, neither awed nor
ridiculing it, belonging to it as (Cass fondly believed) she would
belong to any setting she might encounter.

Then Cleo came bossily into the room on delicately haughty feet,
wanting to know who the deuce this was in her house.

Jinny gave a passionate little moan, a sound not so unlike a cat's,
soft and imploring, and knelt before Cleo, smoothing the side of
her jaw.  The kitten recognized her as one of the tribe, and spoke
to her in their language.  Jinny sat crosslegged then and Cleo
perched on her knee like a small brave statue.  Acrobatically, not
to disturb the kitten, Jinny reached out far for the evening purse
that she had dropped, looked up at Cass apologetically, and brought
out a tiny crystal model of a cat-goddess of the Nile.

"It's my talisman.  Dad gave it to me years ago, as a toy, but I
almost let myself believe that it was alive and now--I know it's
childish, but I always take it everywhere--you know, so it can see
the world and get educated, poor thing."

"What's its name?"

"Different names at different epochs.  All of them silly.  Just now
it hasn't one."

"Why not call it--The kitten is also an Egyptian national, and
named Cleopatra.  Why not call your statuette Isis?"

"Isis.  'Slim, undulant deity Isis, mistress of life.'  Okay.
Let's see if Cleo will have sense enough to recognize a high-class
goddess and worship it."

She placed the crystal Isis on a mat made of her handkerchief, on
the cabbage-rose carpet, and Cleo before the shrine.  They watched
gravely, Cass's hand on Jinny's shoulder, while Cleo walked three
times around the goddess, sniffing, then, with a careful paw,
pushed it over and glanced up at them, much pleased with herself.

"They're friends, anyway," said Jinny.

"Like us."

"Uh-huh."

He kissed her, without prejudice.

He herded her into the kitchen, and announced, "Mrs. Higbee, this
is my friend Miss Marshland.  The house is hers."

Well, Jinny smiled, Mrs. Higbee smiled, Cleo, sticking around and
quietly running everything from behind the scenes as usual, made a
sound that corresponded to smiling, and the augury was bright.

Then Cass remembered that Mrs. Higbee liked Chris Grau, also, and
that Chris would formidably be at the buffet-supper tonight.



They drove up to the Heather Country Club, which resembled the Home
of a Famous Movie Star, and Jinny was apparently delighted by its
yellow tile roof and its grilled windows and blue plaques set in
white plaster walls.  They crossed the clattering stone-floored
lobby to the outdoor terrace on which, this fine June night, the
supper was handsomely set out: a baked ham, with cloves stuck all
over its sugary bulk, lobster salad and chicken salad and cold
salmon, and an exuberant ice-cream mold decked with spun sugar.
These treasures were assembled, like a jovial combination of
Christmas and Fourth of July, on a long table at one end of the
thatch-roofed outdoor bar.  At the other end of the bar was the
real business: a case of Bourbon, half a case of Scotch, and a
cocktail-shaker of the size and menace of a trench-mortar, all
guarded by the club bartender, who knew all the amorous and
financial secrets of the members.  As to wine, most prominent
citizens of Grand Republic, including Cass, were unaware of it
except as something you nervously ordered on a liner.

There were to be twenty-six at the supper, and six tables, lacy and
silver-laid, were on the terrace, with Dead Squaw Lake swaying
beyond them, and the pine-darkened hills and the red-roofed yacht
club visible on the farther shore.

But none of this luxury did Cass behold.  What he saw was Chris
Grau, happily arranging the flowers, and her happiness chilled him.

He had not told Chris nor any one else that this supper was to be
the introduction of a Miss Virginia Marshland to his friends, and
it was assumed that this was another of the duty dinners which
unmarried favorites like Cass and Bradd Criley and Jay Laverick
give--the technical word is "throw"--now and then when their social
obligations have reached the saturation point.  Chris had insisted
that he let her order the supper, be the hostess.

She was busy now, in her fresh cream-colored linen dress, her
gaudiest costume jewelry, arranging the huge bunches of peonies.
At Cass's footstep, she looked up with a smile that went cold when
she saw him with an unknown wench who was too airy and much too
pretty.

The oratorical pride of the Bar Association could do no better
than:  "Chris--Miss Grau!  Miss Marshland--uh--Jinny Marshland."

Both women said "Jdoo" with good healthy feminine hatred, and Cass
was rather surprised.



In making up his list of guests, he had not been able to avoid
having Roy and Lillian Drover, though he did not expect Jinny to
like them.  He thought she might like his sister Rose and the Gadds
and Greg Marls and the Abbott Hubbses and the Avondene girls and
even the giggling Scott Zagos.  He was sure that she would like
Bradd Criley and once, a few days ago, before he had lost his
innocence, he had hoped that Jinny and Chris might "hit it off
nicely," having no sounder reason for that hope than that it would
be considerably more convenient for him if they did.  And Eve
Champeris, of Paris, California, and Grand Republic, the most
exquisite and linguistic woman in town--he himself had never been
comfortable with Eve, and he had invited her entirely to impress
Jinny.

He had been more daring than anyone can know who does not live
permanently in Grand Republic in leaving out Boone and Queenie
Havock--daring and sensible, since at one macaw scream from
Queenie, Jinny might very well have started walking home.  But the
Havock scion, Curtiss, he had invited.  Curtiss was a bulky,
cheerful, unmarried, somewhat oafish young man who was supposed to
work in the Blue Ox National Bank but who was more earnest about
fast driving and who was supposed, for reasons incomprehensible to
Cass, to be attractive to young women.

Especially for Jinny, he had asked Tracy Oleson, Fred Nimbus,
announcer at Station KICH, Lucius and Erica Fliegend, and to keep
the Fliegends from feeling chilled at the Heather Club, in which
they had not been present five times in ten years, he had invited
that intelligent young couple, Richard and Francia Wolke (the
Chippewa Avenue jewelers) who had NEVER been in the club.  Chris
had not seen his list and now, as she looked over the party, she
tenderly thought that she had never known her Cass to show so
superbly the trusting social ineptitude for which she loved him and
wanted to mother him.  Curtiss Havock would insult the glibly
handsome Fred Nimbus who would annoy Eve Champeris who would be
insolent to the Wolkes who would bite the Zagos who would nauseate
Dr. Drover who would be rude to the Hubbses who hated their bosses,
Gregory and Diantha Marl, while Chris herself would have been just
as glad if he had not invited Stella Avondene Wrenchard, that
impoverished and aristocratic young widow who was so resolutely
after Cass for herself that she went around saying, "I adore Chris--
poor dear."

And when Chris found that he had added this unknown young fly-by-
night called Miss Virginia Mushland or something, then she was
almost as irritated as she was tender.  So far as Chris could see,
he had done everything to insure his social ruin in Grand Republic
except to invite the local labor-organizers.

This Mushland doll was evidently too awkward and untutored to be of
any use, and Chris went ardently to work at what is called "making
the party a success."  While Cass filled the unwanted girl's plate
at the buffet and sat beside her at table, shamelessly beaming,
Chris maneuvered the guests to suitable tables, kept Curtiss Havock
from having too many drinks and the Fliegends from having too few,
had Jinny switch seats with Stella Avondene, to prevent scandal and
to keep Cass's errant fancies on the move, got Fred Nimbus, the
radio genius, to sing, got Fred Nimbus to make a comic speech, got
Fred Nimbus to start the dancing--with Jinny.

Chris saw to it that Jinny also danced with Bradd Criley, Curtiss
Havock, Dick Wolke, Greg Marl, and only twice with Cass, to the end
that Jinny, who had at first been embarrassed by the strangers, had
a lively evening and loved Cass for it--Cass, not Chris.

All this good sacrifice Chris made for Cass, and was sorry only
that he did not see it.

But Cass did see it, and he knew now how a burglar felt when he was
facing Judge Timberlane.

He understood Chris's loyalty and her plump charms.  He wondered
why the Fates should so arrange it that he could feel only amiable
toward Chris, who wanted him, and be wan and adoring with the Jinny
who as yet considered him merely another traveling-man.

With a jar he found that Jinny, too, was seeing everything that she
couldn't possibly see.  When, long after eleven, he had his second
dance with her--he had watched the match-unmaking Chris throw her
to such dogs as Fred Nimbus--Jinny said with an affection he had
never heard from her:

"Dear Cass, I am having such a gay time, thanks to you and to your
Miss Grau.  That nice woman.  She does try so hard to hate me, but
she doesn't know how.  She tried to snoot me by asking how I liked
'working in a factory,' but before she got through, I had her
longing to get off her chaise-longue and be big and brave and punch
a time-clock.  Cass, you are so good and so bungling.  You know I'm
just a stray cat, like Cleo.  I wouldn't want to--because I am so
fond of you--I wouldn't want to make any trouble between you and
Chris the girlfriend.  Honestly."

He made the suitable arguments.

He knew that, seen as just one of the "country-club bunch," he had
lost for her something of his dignity as a Public Figure, but he
also knew that she was now responsive to him.  He was proud of her
debut.  She had been so easy with even the most difficult of his
guests, with his over-inquisitive sister and with the roaring Roy
Drover.  Bradd Criley had informed him that Jinny was a "lovely,
intelligent girl, and a stepper."  That was news!



14


When the party had meandered to its quiet ending, when the older
pleasure-maddened citizens had gone home to bed and the stoutly
drinking remnant had moved indoors to escape the chill, Chris gave
up her impersonal rule as mistress of the revels and settled down
at a table with Cass, Jinny, Tracy Oleson, the inebriated Hubbses
and the soused Curtiss Havoc, and began to pay loving though
discouraged attention to Cass.

He was alarmed.  No more than any other man did he want to face the
unwed lioness robbed of her wish-dream cubs, the chronic wife who
resents the straying of her husband just as much when he is not yet
her husband.  He had hoped to slip away with Jinny, and perhaps be
invited in for an incautious moment.

Curtiss belched.  Hubbs said, "I agree."  "Then I'll take you
home," said Mrs. Hubbs.  Tracy rose.  "Judge, I can save you a
trip.  I'll drive Jinny back--I have my little bus here."

Treacherous as all sweethearts, Jinny babbled, "Oh, thank you,
Tracy.  Judge, I did have such a good time.  Thank you for inviting
me. . . .  Good night, Miss--uh--Miss Grau."

Cass was alone with Chris.

"I think they all enjoyed it, don't you, Chris?"

"Yes?"

"Due mostly to you, though.  You were the perfect hostess.  I was
amused the way you kept steering Curtiss away from the bar."

"Yes?"

"And I don't know how you ever managed to coax such a beautiful
supper out of the steward, and when you think--"

"Cass!"

"What is it, dear?"

"'Dear'!  Cass, have you fallen for that young female grasshopper,
that Marshland girl, at your age?"

"What d' you mean, 'At my age'?"

"I mean at your age!"

"I'm the second youngest district judge in Minnesota!"

"And probably you're THE youngest octogenarian.  I know you can
still play baseball and dance the tango, only you don't.  You like
the fireside and your books and chess."

"So I'm that picturesque figure, the venerable judge.  Why don't
you put in slippers, along with the fireside and the books--you
mean OLD books, that smell of leather!"

"Well, your books mostly do, don't they?  I just can't see you with
a gilt-and-satin copy of 'Mademoiselle Fifi,' or whatever it is
your Virginia reads."

"I'll tell you what she reads!  She reads Santayana and Willa
Cather and, uh, and Proust!  That's what she reads!"

"Does she?  I didn't suppose she could read.  She certainly doesn't
show any stains from it."

"Just because she doesn't go around showing off like a young
highbrow--"

"Oh, Cassy--Cass, I mean--I'm sorry.  I truly am.  The last thing
in the world I meant to do was to start scrapping with you."  They
were on a couch in the club lounge.  A bartender and four late
bridge-players and the two female slot-machine addicts were still
present, and he felt that otherwise Chris would crown her humility
by kneeling before him, as she went on:

"It's just that we started twenty years ago, when you were a
veteran of twenty and I was a worshiping brat of ten, no, eleven,
that could hide her reverence for you only by being saucy, and so I
got the miserable habit of jabbing at you and--Cass!  Do you take
this little Marshland girl seriously?  An exquisite little thing
she is, too, I must say, and probably fairly intelligent and even
virtuous, curse her!  I mean, damn her!  Do you think you're a
little in love with her?"

"I think I'm a good deal in love with her.  I agree with you in
saying 'damn her'!  I didn't want to be in an earthquake.  You're
dead right, my dear; I do prefer quiet.  But I'm simply God-
smitten."

She sighed then, sighed and was silent, and at last she talked to
herself aloud:

"If I had been more brazen, if I hadn't been so scrupulous, I could
have married you several years ago, my friend.  Right after
Blanche.  I'm the only person you've ever really talked to about
Blanche.  Isn't that true?"

"I suppose it is."

"And how she made fun of you and hurt you?  Maybe you like to get
hurt.  You're going about getting hurt again in just the right way.
Now don't tell me that your Virginia wouldn't want to hurt anybody!
I'm sure she wouldn't--intentionally.  It's just that all you
overimaginative men, who try to combine fancifulness with being
clock-watching executives, are fated to be hurt, unless you love
some kind-hearted, sloppy, adoring woman like me--the born
mistress!  Well, as Dad always said, 'Nun, so geht's.'  Good
night."

He would not run after her, and before he had stalked out to the
automobile entrance, she had driven away, in her fast, canary-
colored coupe.  He stood frozen, realizing that he was free of his
past.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives


DROVERS AND HAVOCKS


Roy Drover was born on a farm just at the edge of Grand Republic,
and his father was at once a farmer and a veterinarian.

When Roy was a medical student at the University of Minnesota, a
beer-drinker and a roarer by night but by day a promising
dissecter, he met the tall and swaying Lillian Smith, daughter of a
stationer who was refined, tubercular, and poor.  He saw that here
was the finest flower he was likely ever to acquire for the
decoration of a successful doctor's drawing-room.  Also, it tickled
his broad fancy to think of seducing (even if he could do it only
legally) anything so frail and sweet as Lillian.

She was overwhelmed by him, though she did break off the engagement
once when he used a certain four-letter word.  He reasonably
pointed out, however, that either she did not know what the word
meant, in which case she could not be shocked, or else she did
know, in which case she must have got over being shocked some time
ago.  She was conquered, though for years afterward she worried
about that logic.

By the time they had been married for five years and Roy had
practised for seven, Lillian's father was bankrupt, and Roy had the
daily pleasure of telling her that, though her "old man might be so
cultured and polite, he was mighty glad to get eighty bucks a month
from his roughneck son-in-law."  That pleasure continued for years
after her father had died.  At medical conventions or among
strangers in a West Coast Florida hotel, Roy would jovially shout,
"My ancestors were Vermont hill-billies, but my ball-and-chain
comes from the best stock in Massachusetts--such a good stock that
it's got pernicious anemia, and I've always had to give it a few
injections of gold."

He continued to feel physical passion for Lillian--as well as for
every gum-chewing hoyden that he picked up on his trips to Chicago,
and for a number of his chattier women patients.  Perhaps his
continued zest came from the fact that it amused him to watch his
wife shiver and reluctantly be conquered.  To her, the whole
business of sex had become a horror related to dark bedrooms and
loud breathing.  Sometimes in the afternoon, when Lillian was
giving coffee to quiet women like the Avondene girls or the
Methodist minister's wife, Roy would come rampaging in, glare at
her possessively, growl "H'are yuh" at the guests in a way which
said he wished they would get out of this, and as soon as they had
twittered away, he would rip down the zipper of her dress.

She often thought about suicide, but she was too blank of mind.
She was always reading the pink-bound books of New Thought leaders,
those thick-haired and bass-voiced prophets who produce theatrical
church-services in New York theaters, and tell their trembling
female parishioners that they can accomplish anything they wish if
they Develop the Divine Will Power and Inner Gifts. . . .
Sometimes Roy threw these books into the furnace.

Lillian never contradicted him.  She was mute even when he teased
her about her dislike for having dead mallards or pheasants drip
blood on her dress when she went hunting with him.

At the beginning of our history, the Drovers had been married for
thirteen years.  They had two sons, William Mayo and John Erdmann
Drover, aged eleven and nine.  Lillian was devoted to them, often
looked at them sadly, as though they were doomed.  She begged them
to listen while she read aloud from Kenneth Grahame and her own
girlhood copy of "The Birds' Christmas Carol," but the boys
protested, "Aw, can that old-fashioned junk, Mum.  Pop says it's
panty-waist.  Read us the funnies in the paper, Mum."

Like their father, the boys enjoyed killing things--killing snakes,
frogs, ducks, rats, sparrows, feeble old neighborhood cats.

When Roy and the boys were away, she stayed alone in a shuttered
room, in a house that rustled with hate, in a silence that
screamed, alone with a sullen cook and a defiant maid.  She did not
read much, but she did read that all women are "emancipated" and
can readily become "economically independent."  She was glad to
learn that.

Roy and Lillian were often cited by Diantha Marl as "one of the
happiest couples, the most successful marriages, in Grand Republic;
just as affectionate as the Zagos, but not so showy about it."



The same authority, Diantha, publicly wondered whether Boone and
Queenie Havock, though by 1941 they had been married for thirty-
five years, would not "bust up," as the technical phrase was.
When, at their rich parties, Queenie got high and screamed that
Boone was a "chippie-chasing, widow-robbing old buzzard," he
frequently slapped her.  She was almost as large as he and even
louder, and she retorted spiritedly by spitting at him, and
sometimes when he was entertaining Eastern Financiers or other
visiting royalty, she yelled at him, "Oh, shutzen Sie die mouth,"
which she believed to be German.

But in private, with their great arms about each other, these
shaggy gods sat up all night making fun of their neat neighbors,
drinking and shouting and cackling like pirates.  When Boone was
almost indicted for stealing one hundred thousand acres of Eastern
Montana prairie, Queenie joyfully announced, "I'll come cook for
you in jail, you cutthroat!"

He answered admiringly, "You probably will, too, you catamaran, but
if you get any more finger-marks on my Cesar Franck symphony
records, I'll bust your ole head open."



Dr. Roy Drover often said, "My experience is that it's all nonsense
to say that marriage is difficult just because of complicated
modern life on top of the fundamental clashes between the sexes.
Yessir!  It's all perfectly easy, if the husband just understands
women and knows how to be patient with their crazy foibles.  You
bet!"



15


Cass had become embarrassed over calling up her boarding-house and
having Tracy or Wilma answer, "Who do you want?  Who?  Oh.  Who
wants her?  Oh!" followed by a shadow of a giggle, and a half-
heard:  "It's the Judge again.  Can you beat it!"  So in early
July, to invite her to the Svithiod Summer Festival, at which he
would be the guest-speaker and say a lot of enthusiastic things
about Swedish-Americans, which might impress a girl with a fancy
for high words, he wrote a note to her.

She answered, and for the first time he saw her writing.

Now to an expert, her script may have looked like that of any
trained stenographer, correct and round, but to Cass this was a
secret message from the captive princess in her tower.  On the
envelope, he was "The Hon. Cass Timberlane."  His name had never
looked so stately.  Could he really be that monumental object to
HER?  Or, sudden jagged thought, did she consider the title
pompous?

Her T was bold, like a knight riding, and the o was precise yet
sweet, not too unlike a kiss.  (That sentimentality he strongly
thrust from him, and shamefacedly took back again.)  The square
envelope and the letter-sheet were of good linen, with a small
square "VM" which, his thumb told him, was printed.  (Splendid!
Engraving would have been extravagant for her.)

Of the letter itself, of her first letter to him, he still had not
read a word.  He was shy about it.  He might know now whether she
loved him or considered him a bumbler.  Then, breathing deep, he
plunged:

"Dear Cass."

--That's good.  Not "Dear Judge."  She thinks of me as a friend,
anyway.  Of course "Darling Cass" would have been better.

"Darn it, I have a date for your evening with the Vikings--"

--Hard luck.  Certainly is hard luck.  She won't hear me make my
speech.  I'd hoped she would.  Still, her letter is cordial--oh,
it's more than cordial, it's really affectionate.  And some
originality to the writing.  Not stilted.

The letter continued:

"So I shall not be able to hear you.  But I know you will be
wonderful.  Call me up soon.  Sincerely yours, Jinny."

--She really wants me to go on telephoning her!  And she signs it
"Jinny," not "Virginia" or "Virginia Marshland."  She does like me!

During his first five readings of the masterpiece, he twice decided
that she liked him, once that she loved him furiously, once that
this was merely a routine answer with all the romantic flavor of
payment of a gas-bill, and once that she was bored by him and
intended, on his evening of oratory, to go off dancing with some
treacherous swine like Eino Roskinen.

He did nothing so puerile as to keep the letter in whatever pocket
was nearest to his heart; he merely thought about it.  He contented
himself with locking it up in the steel box that contained his
will, his passport, a picture of his mother, a certificate for a
hundred shares of the late Overture Silver Mining Company, and a
photograph of his former wife, in a 1929 hat, which he did not
remember owning.

--Hm.  Funny-looking hat.  I wonder if the present-day hats would
look just as--Lord, I'd forgotten Blanche was so beautiful.  But
she looks so calculating and possessive, where Jinny is like a
living brook.  Poor Blanche.  I'll bet her new English in-laws snub
her.  Huh!



He had many walks with Jinny, on Sunday afternoons, and he
discovered that he did not know the city of which he was supposed
to be a leader.  They found a lath-and-mud slum, with starved
widows and children living like war-victims upon property belonging
to his friend Henry Grannick, second richest man in town.  On
Jinny's initiative, he went for the first time in two years into
the museum at the Wargate Memorial, which was three and three-
quarters minutes' walking-time from his chambers, and they saw the
Indian war-bonnets, the models of fur-trader's canoes, and were
swollen and proud with their own history.

They chattered all the while.  The buffet-supper had given them
more of a common background, and they talked of "Chris" and "Roy"
as well as of "Tracy," for they were true Midwesterners in
referring to everybody up to the age of ninety-eight by his given
name.

They were as garrulous as two old friends at the Poor House, and
all through it he was unceasingly on the point of proposing to her,
yet never quite daring to.  In her bright young ruthlessness, she
might dismiss him forever.

He was constantly stirred up by her iconoclastic though slightly
second-hand political creeds.  As a mild and benevolent Republican,
who had to be a politician once every six years, however little he
liked cigars and the histories of Coolidge and Harding, he collided
with the fact that, early conditioned by her father's sympathy with
the Farmer-Labor Party, encouraged later by Eino's internationalism,
Jinny was Young Revolution at the inquiring age.

As they explored the city's unrecognized slums, she wondered aloud
about the competence of the Prutts and Grannicks to control a city,
while she denounced the local "isolationists" and insisted that
America must join in the war against Germany, which had just
invaded Russia.

She was probably disappointed at the readiness with which Cass
agreed with all her challenges; she was probably unable to
understand that the Judge Timberlane who seemed to her so
conservative was considered by his neighbors, by his colleague
Judge Blackstaff, as a riskily radical young man.

He agreed that America is only at the beginning of democracy; that
the super-salesman, with the stigmata of his early toughness or
rusticity blandished away by barber and manicure girl, stands with
the workman whose face is pitted with soot and grease only at the
saloon, the polling-booth, and the grave.

If he was distinctly more leftwing than Jinny thought, he was
distinctly less so than he thought.  He innocently considered
himself, even after election-day, democratically one with the
farmer, the section-hand, the pants-presser, yet he had always been
so occupied with members of the Federal Club and the dwellers on
Ottawa Heights that he was as detached from his constituents as any
country squire.  A kind man, a just judge, an honest citizen who
believed that there must be plenty of public schools and no graft
in the water supply, he had not yet gone many years beyond the Good
Old Massa dynasty.  And golf at the country club is a sweet odor in
the nostrils and a dependable anesthetic.

In the fresh air that Jinny always bore about her, he wanted to
defy his own ancestral cautions.  She did not know, possibly he did
not know, how much he enjoyed cutting loose and being more of an
outlaw than he was.  Later he was to believe that he might really
have become the rebel whom in these honied months he enjoyed
impersonating, if Jinny had really been the bold economic Amazon
she considered herself.  It has always been the masculine version:
"She did not tempt me enough, so I did not eat."

Meantime, more innocent than ever, he made love not apropos of
swords and roses, but of the poll tax, the school system, and
German bombers.



In July she went home to Pioneer Falls for her two-weeks' vacation,
and he begged for an invitation to come up for three days.  Her
mother wrote to him, welcomingly.

He had always liked his assignments to hold court at Pioneer Falls,
county-seat of Mattson County, because from the windows of the
court room he could see the re-echoed heavens of Lake Bruin.  Here
there were none of the wild river valleys of the Grand Republic
country.  The falls of the Sorshay River were only three feet high,
a sporting ground for minnows.  A wedge of the old hardwood country
had been thrust northward from the base of the state to Pioneer
Falls, and the trees were not pine and poplar but oak and maple and
ironwood and basswood.  Most of them had been cleared away by the
fine, high, destructive industry of the frontiersmen, and the
country was now an upland wheat prairie, and Pioneer Falls a
characteristic grain-belt village.  The streets were flat but
sheltered by spacious elms and maples that had been planted by the
Yankee and German settlers.

The Marshland house was white and comfortable and simple, except
for an upstairs balcony with a triangular window behind it, and
Jinny's father, Lester the druggist, was simple and comfortable,
and Mrs. Marshland a darling.  They wore baggy clothes and loved
their friends and they thought that Judge Timberlane was a
tremendous man and that their "little daughter" was a "mighty lucky
girl to have him take an interest in her and her art career."  That
he could ever marry her or be her lover seemingly did not occur to
them.

He was embarrassed by their friendly desire to have him hold forth
like a pedagogue upon her talents--and her unpunctuality, to have
him give her measured advice about how to become a real big-city
cartoonist or a dress designer.  He was even more embarrassed by
the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Marshland were only fifty-three or 
-four, somewhat nearer to his own age than was Jinny.  He kept
hinting that he belonged to her generation, not theirs, but Jinny
bedeviled him by mocking, at family dinner (fried chicken and
asparagus and peas from our own garden), "I wish you three would
now straighten me out about the Polish question and the use of
lipstick."

"Don't play with your food, Jinx," said Mrs. Marshland fondly, at
every meal.

Cass and Jinny picnicked on a bluff overlooking Lake Bruin, in an
old pasture of short worn grass and scattered oaks.  Their table
was a slab of rock, splashed orange with lichens; their divan the
springy moss.  They were idle and relaxed and in love, and they did
play with their food, with the hard-boiled eggs, the finger rolls,
the lemon-meringue pie eaten with fingers which were vulgarly wiped
on the flower-starred moss.

He looked like a woodsman, in laced boots and breeches and mackinaw
shirt of black and red and yellow.  She wore moccasin shoes, with
slacks, but she made up for it by wearing a tight sweater.

Reclining on the moss, replete and exquisitely sleepy, he argued,
"Put your head on my shoulder."

She looked mute and sulky; then she rubbed her cheek against his
shoulder and lay still.  His arm was about her and it may have been
by accident that his hand touched the unbelievable smoothness of
her naked waist under the sweater.  He snatched his hand away, but
his finger-tips kept the memory of that living satin, the tender
warmth of her soft side.  In some panic he knew that he was afraid
of her and shocked by himself, but he protested, "Don't be such a
prude.  Of course you love touching her.  That's what it's all
about."

But any ideas he might have had about trying to betray her seemed
wondrously absurd.

He slipped his hand again about her unbodiced waist, and she let it
lie there warmly a moment before she detached it, gentle and
unoffended.  And that was all that happened of fleshly love-making.
Yet now, with her head against his shoulder, they had been
converted, united, sanctified.

"Darling!" he said only, and kissed her lightly, and her head
settled back in contentment.

It was a poet, not a very skillful one, who began talking:

"Dear Jinny, do you know how lovely you are to me?  I love your
eyes and your hair--it's very reckless today and it smells so newly
washed--and I love your childish fingers--do you suppose that
indelible-ink spot will ever come off?--and I love your riotous and
pretty undependable humor and your curiosity, like Cleo's about
everything, and your honesty and your disinterest in money-making
and your talisman, your crystal Isis--did you bring her back to
Pioneer Falls?"

"Certainly.  Wrapped in a lovely nightgown.  She insisted on
coming.  She's as fascinated by men and their line as I am."

"You don't think I'm merely following a 'line' in what I say, do
you?"

"No!  I think you're dear and good, and I think you really like
me."



They said nothing about being engaged, but like children they made
plans.

"Know what I'd like us to do, soon as the war between Great Britain
and Germany is over?" he urged.  "Sail for Norway and Sweden, which
are the source of so much of the life around here, and then go
through Finland and dip down into Central Europe and up to Moscow
and then China and especially India.  I've always been crazy to see
India, since I read Kipling as a boy."

"Wond'ful."

"And then we'll come back here and get settled down.  We'll live in
Grand Republic in the summer and fall--most beautiful Indian
Summers in the world--and have our winters in Beverly Hills and
Havana and Rio de Janeiro."

"So we're just going to be hoboes and wasters, are we?"

"Sure--in our dreams.  Look here, comrade, have we got to have
social significance even in our DREAMS?"

"I think I'll have to get a ruling on that.  Meanwhile, what are we
doing all this ON?"

"Can't I just as well dream myself two million dollars and a year's
leave from the bench, while I'm about it?"

"You're so heroic--in our dreams."

"Plans okay then?"

"Approved.  Cass, maybe we really COULD do some of those things,
even without being rich."

"Certainly."

"But why is it that nobody ever does do any of the things that he's
free to do?"

In that counsel of doom he was suddenly frightened out of his
spurious boyishness, and clutched her hand, as if to protect her.

They silently looked out from the shadowing oaks to the summer-
enchanted lake.  The farther shore was swampy and in the July light
was a gold-streaked utter green, with blackbirds bending down the
reeds.  There was peace over all the land, and their fear melted,
and suddenly she was telling him, as she never had, of her
childhood in the white house in the prairie village:

"I was such a serious kid, always so busy.  I had to keep track of
everything.  I had note-books and note-books; I put down the
temperature of my dolls, every day, like a hospital chart, and all
the bright things they said--I made 'em up, only sometimes I stole
'em from the other kids.  And I collected birds' eggs and made the
most elaborate notes on just which tree I'd found them in--I drew
plans of the trees, with lovely arrows pointing.  I was sure that
some day those notes would be terribly important to some
ornithologist.  I suppose I'm still the greatest living authority
on snipe around Peterson's Slew.

"And then as fast as I learned a hymn in Sunday School--I was a
Congregationalist like you--I wrote it down on a card, with my
notations about what words to come down hard on, like 'BRINGing in
the SHEAVES' only, I thought it was SHEETS.

"I didn't have any brothers or sisters, so they let me have the
attic all to myself, and up there I was the busiest man of affairs,
rushing from one thing to another: arranging my world-collection of
fans, two paper ones and one lace, and my gallery of movie stars,
and polishing a brass handle to something--I found it by the road,
and to this day I don't know what it was for--and writing down the
name of every new language that I heard of.  I got up to sixty-
seven, and I intended to learn them all, including Swahili and
Liukiu.

"And then pets--our old cat, Percival, and a lot of other cats and
dogs and rabbits and a pet squirrel and a very inappreciative
garter snake.  I used to have an animal drug store and try to cure
all their ailments with sugar-water.  I don't think I was so
successful.

"Maybe a lot of the things that I did were to educate the little
blue bromo Seltzer bottle, the forerunner of my Isis, that I
sneaked out and took everywhere so it could see what was going on.
Oh, I must have been almost as silly at ten as I am now.

"And I took lessons on the mandolin.  I could play 'Down Mobile'
and the Russian national anthem on it.  I was so busy and so
secret.  Nobody ever knew; Dad and Mother were swell about not
prying.  And sometimes I had the most money that ever was--an
entire penny.  I would go into Dad's store and he would pretend he
didn't know me, and he would advise me, very earnestly, and you'd
be surprised how many kinds of candy you could get then for a
penny: maybe one red and two striped and a licorice lozenge.  I'll
never have that much money again, never."

"No, there never are any pennies like that after you are ten," said
Cass.  "And now you're as old as I am.  I used to think of you as
eons younger, but now I feel as though we were the same age, except
that you aren't so cautious."

"And I think of you, Cass, as just my age, except that you have
more sense."

With an absorbed I-want-to-think expression, she wandered off,
along the shore, and he watched her sleepily.  She looked mature
and thoughtful, till, throwing up her arms, she started violently
hop-skipping, all by herself, singing what sounded like a jazz
version of Celeste Aida, and then she seemed to be all of ten
again, and he reached into his pocket for a penny to give her.



16


After the buffet-supper for Jinny, his sister Rose and Gregory Marl
said, "What a nice girl that was; like to see her again," but Cass
wondered that more people did not comment.  He need not have
wondered; they did.

Everybody in town--it being understood that everybody-in-town
includes some three hundred persons out of the 85,000--discussed
Jinny, by telephone, by letter, over the directors' table, or at
the Paul Bunyan Bar.  But they did not reveal this to Cass, for he
was a man not overfond of being tickled in the ribs.

But after he had ventured to Pioneer Falls, before he had yet
pressed, in a volume of Supreme Court digests, the buttercup that
Jinny had given him, then everybody concluded that they must rush
in and rescue him.

He was to play bridge at Boone Havock's, and before the fourth
player, Eve Champeris, arrived, Boone and Queenie, with her voice
like a flat trolley-wheel, set out to save him with the solicitude
of a couple of pigs eating their young.  That they had never yet
seen Jinny made them no less authoritative.

Boone struck:

"Sit down, Cass, and take a load off your feet.  Have a snort?
Don't be a fool; of course you will.  Now, Cass, I want you to
listen to me and don't go interrupting and shooting off your mouth
just because you think you're such a high-brow and a judge and all
that junk while me, I never got through fifth grade.  You haven't
any better friends in the world than me and Queenie."

"You're damn tootin'," confirmed Queenie, then remembered that she
was being refined and humanitarian this evening, and caroled, "Are
we ever!  Oh boy, I'll say we are!  A lot of bums are always
yessing you, Cass, because you're in politics, but me and Boone are
good-enough friends to tell you the truth.  You know.  For your own
good."

Cass had really come over to play bridge, not to have things done
for his good, and he was not a meek man.  But he was their
neighbor, he was used to them, and in a frontier civilization you
are not offended by a neighbor if he does nothing worse than throw
tomahawks.  He listened to Boone with only a slight biliousness.

"Cass, what's all this we hear about your going nuts over some
fifth-rate stenographer?"

"Some low-grade tart on the make," added Queenie, virtuously.
After all, Queenie had some background for her opinions on lowness.
Her father had kept some of the best saloons in Northern Minnesota.

"I don't know what you two are talking about, unless you mean Miss
Marshland, a brilliant young artist in whose career I have become
slightly interested."

"'Slightly' is good!" jeered Queenie.

Boone roared, "I don't suppose you take her out to that gyp-joint,
the Unstable, more than three times a week!"

"I do not!"

"I don't suppose her and you were snooping around those tenements
on South Greysolon Avenue!  You didn't tell each other they were 'a
disgrace,' and 'somebody ought to do something about 'em!'  Well, I
OWN those tenements, and if you want 'em I'd be glad to give 'em to
you and see what YOU can do with 'em!  Lot of Finns and Communists
and Poles and Svenskas in there, never pay their rent and use the
banisters for firewood!  But let that pass.  I'm so used to trying
to do something for this community and never get one word of thanks
that I don't even pay any attention to a lot of Red bellyaching,
and I don't care WHAT you said about Havock Haven.  But I do care
when I see an old friend making a fool of himself over a cute
little gold-digger that just hangs around to see what she can get
out of him--and then probably goes back to the boy-friend and they
laugh their heads off at the old goat!"

Cass broke.

"I wouldn't let you talk like this even if what you said were true,
but it isn't.  Miss Marshland is decidedly a lady.  No, that's a
bloodless word--she's an angel."

"Sweet little gold angel with blood in her eye!" screamed Queenie.

"You sleeping with her?" Boone grunted.

"I am not!  And even if--"

"Now don't go and get gentlemanly on us, son.  We're only trying to
help you.  You made a portion of a horse of yourself before,
marrying that high-hat Minneapolis snob with her phony Boston
accent, and we don't want you to do it again."

Cass must have said something confused and not impressive, for
Boone was unsquelched.

"There'd be some excuse for this new girl if you were doing a
little advanced necking with her, but if you're thinking about
marrying her--a cutie half your age--"

"She is not!"

"--that has an idea it would be swell to be Mrs. Judge Timberlane,
and expects you to stay up all night and dance with her, or sit
around and watch her dance with the younger guys, why, then you're
a worse fool than I thought you were, and I've always rated you
pretty high in damn foolishness ever since you gave up what might
of become a fifty-thousand-dollar law-practice to sit on your
dignity on the bench."

Queenie neighed, "Now you listen to me.  A woman's heart knows.
None of these young girls want to be of any help to their husbands.
They just get married for the excitement of it and for what they
can get out of it, the little tramps, and so immodest--showing
their knees!  If you GOT to get married, Cass--and I don't see why;
ain't there any lady clerks that know the answers in your court
house?--then why don't you pick out some dame of thirty-five
that'll stay home and take care of you, like I would?"

He did not, as he longed to then and all through the ordeal of
bridge, slap them and walk out.  But for a year it broke his habit
of the Havocks.

"He's spoiled--touchy as a pregnant woman," said Queenie Havock to
Eve Champeris, who said it to Chris who said it to Cass who said it
to himself.



He expected Roy Drover to be even more boisterous than the Havocks,
but Roy, when he caught Cass in the quiet reading-room of the
Federal Club, sounded like a physician, competent and impersonal:

"Son, I hear you've fallen for that pretty little monkey you
brought to the Country Club.  It's none of my business, but why
don't you try some ugly woman with a lot of passion, instead of one
of these anemic kids?  They haven't any gratitude.  I take it for
granted you don't intend to marry this chick--her a rank outsider,
that none of us know.  You're not THAT haywire!"

Cass tried to believe afterward that his retorts to Boone and Roy
and two or three other foul impugners and mongers had been in the
manner of a stately "Sir!" followed by a challenge.  It is
doubtful.  That would not have gone well with Radisson County duck-
hunters, especially when they loved him enough to risk his wrath.

The one gentle effort at his salvation was that of Stella Avondene
Wrenchard.

The Avondenes were a Family, fond and unshakable.  They were
impoverished aristocracy who were unconcerned about it so long as
they could be together in their old whitewashed brick house.  The
head of the family, Verne Avondene, had been born, in Grand
Republic, to a million dollars in timberlands which had been
acquired, possibly honestly, by his grandfather, the great Indian
agent, who seems in the histories to have had no Christian name
other than "Colonel."  Verne went to Yale and the English Cambridge
and was just looking into diplomatic careers when the family money
blew up.  He did not complain; the game had been worth any golden
candle, and he had a comforting knowledge of Balzac and Monet and
Old English balladry, even if he could not earn more than thirty-
five dollars a week.

That sum he received in the insurance office of Scott Zago, where
he was respectfully entitled "office manager," meaning clerk and
assistant bookkeeper.

His wife, still slim and beautiful at sixty-five, said that Verne
was the greatest gentleman, the most gallant lover, and the most
amusing companion in Grand Republic, and she was a fair judge.

Their two daughters lived with them.  Stella had married an
engineer, Tom Wrenchard, but had been widowed by an accident within
the year, and come home.  Her marriage had been so brief that most
people forgot it, and she was usually called "Miss Stella
Avondene."  She taught domestic science in the Alexander Hamilton
High School.  Her spinster older sister, Pandora, gentle and
affectionate and given to flowers and sketching and playing the
piano, which under her mild fingers sounded like a spinet, was in
charge of the children's department at the public library.  Both
girls treated their parents as their equals, and the low white
brick house was full of fudge, cats, new novels, Delius, water-
colors, charades, omelets, and other people's children.

Stella had always thought well of marrying Cass, but had stayed
home from hunting in loyalty to Chris Grau.  Now, she invented a
lovely theory: Chris had, probably for discreditable reasons,
jilted Cass, who in wan loneliness had turned to some pretty girl
or other who had no virtues.  Except in a state of solitary
madness, a steady man like Cass could never marry out of Our Class,
that ancient aristocracy of Grand Republic, hoary with tradition,
which had been going on now for more than seventy-five years.

Stella wanted to save him.

The Avondenes had him in for supper.  As they had a maid only when
Verne had had a lucky bet on the races--the last time had been in
1939--they did all the housework, and they let Cass help them wash
the dishes (which he did unexpectedly well, being a camper) while
they all sang "Sweet and Low."  Then Stella mended the lining of
his coat, poor girl.  As his own housekeeper, Mrs. Higbee, was very
inspective and efficient about that sort of thing, he suspected
that Stella had made the small rip in the lining herself, and he
loved her for it.

He might have married Stella then.  Perhaps he should have married
Stella, and grown peaceful to the point of Double Solitaire, but it
happened that either God or Cass Timberlane had made of Jinny
Marshland the eternal image of beauty walking with silver feet the
waves of dawn.  Dear Stella Avondene, teaching in your Sunday-
school class at St. Anselm's, and smiling, in the white kid gloves
you cleaned at home, singing and a little sad and very kind.  You
will never walk the waves at dawn.  Dear Stella!



He heard something of the town rumors about Jinny.  Apparently Mrs.
Webb Wargate had said that, though she honored Judge Timberlane and
would probably receive any ragtag of a wife that he might drag in,
yet she was regretful that such a man should be planning to marry a
girl whose real name was Marshandsky, whose father was a drunken
teamster on the Range, who had been a waitress in the Pineland
Hotel and an itinerant hired girl, and who was in general a threat
to the Best People of Grand Republic, so intimately related to the
Best People of Albany and Philadelphia and Hartford.

The early Minnesota had its families with the correct and rigid
manners, the Emersonian scholarship, of New England; with an
annotated Horace and a frivolous fiddle lying upon the pious parlor
organ.  It had its Romans like General Sibley and, in Grand
Republic, the Avondenes and Grannicks.  But lesser and brisker
tribes like the Wargates had taken their togas.

Cass considered the Wargate peerage.

Old Dexter Wargate had started out in Minnesota in 1881 by
conducting a hardware-store and selling nails across the counter to
lumberjacks and half-breeds.  He had married the daughter of Simon
Eisenherz, from Pennsylvania, who had come to Minnesota in 1854, to
acquire furs from the Indians in exchange for brass pots and
bootleg whisky, with some effect upon the number of murdered white
settlers, before he discovered how to steal millions of acres of
timberland.

Cass was not pleased when a family founded upon a whisky keg in a
log cabin felt superior to a girl crooning over her collection of
three fine fans in a village attic, secret and eager and alone--so
alone and helpless against the chatter at the cocktail-hour.

He had only one moment of treachery to Jinny: when he wondered
whether to others she was as clearly divine as she was to him.  He
remembered that the Juliet Zago who to him was a wiggling nuisance
was a fair young thing to her Scott, and that Boone Havock
seemingly felt no distress when his wife yelled like a buzz-saw.
Were there barbarians who might think that his Jinny had a touch of
the Zago whimsy, with her circulatory Isis?  To him, she would
forever be a flame, but could his friends see her glory?



He was aware that Jinny had a temper.  She was, he thought,
unconscious of what the Havocks and Wargates whispered, but if she
learned it, he was certain that she would reject him along with all
his clansmen forever.  He had not planned to venture upon any talk
of marriage until they should have had a year of building up a
common background.  But he felt now that he must not risk her
discovery of the gossip till she should be bound to him, protected
by him, and on an August evening when he was to take her to the
movies, he drove irresolutely toward her boarding-house with the
nervous intention of proposing to her.

The living-room at Miss Hatter's was empty.  When Jinny appeared,
ten minutes late as usual, he sat in the preposterous patent-rocker
of 1890, and ventured, "I think we've done all the traditional
things that lovers do, even moonlight and picnic by a brook, up to
a point."

"But we aren't lovers, Cass."

"We might be."

"M."

"So I want you to come sit on my lap."

"Oh, dear no.  That's very outmoded and reactionary, Judge."

"You sit on my lap!"

She did.  He felt the pleasure of her body's closeness, but he
found that he was remarkably uncomfortable.  She was heavier than
she looked, and there was extreme danger that the rickety chair
would fall over sidewise.  He wished that he could think of some
polite way of telling her that it would be all right now if she
went over and sat on the couch.  She sighed blissfully and moved
closer and his fingers tightened on her knee, and he was at once in
ecstasy and conscious that his right leg was cramped.

In that mingled state he said quietly, "Darling, you know how I
want to marry you."

"M."

"We must be married, and soon."

Silent.

"Will you?"

Silent and motionless.

"Jinny!  Please!"

She spoke as quietly as he, with no tint of blushing in her voice.
"No, Cass, it's impossible."

"Why?"

"We could never make a go of it.  I'm terribly fond of you, maybe
I'm a little in love with you, but if we were married it would be
too much of a strain."

"Difference in age?"

"Oh, you're not so much older.  I've almost fallen in love with men
much older than you--one antiquated buzzard of fifty, in Pioneer
Falls when I was a kid--an evangelist he was, and was he full of
It!  No.  You're really younger than Tracy or Eino or that Curtiss
Havock lug; there's something awfully young and touching about you.
But I never could stand your set, not even your sister, though
she's nice, or that caramel sundae, Mr. Criley.  They're all a
bunch of furnace-regulators and they talk about their Middlewestern
Hospitality but none of them invite Mr. Fliegend to their houses.
I couldn't do it, I honestly couldn't.  But--"

She was actually traditional enough to wind up with, "But let's be
the best of friends."

He pushed back her chin with angry fingers and kissed her angrily,
and she relaxed to it; a kiss long and confessing.  Then, to his
shock and to the danger of his flopping over in the patent-rocker,
she sprang from his lap and stood smoothing her hair, murmuring,
"Somebody--"

There were footsteps.  By the time Eino Roskinen came in, Jinny was
sedately sitting on the couch and Cass had straightened his
summertime blue bow-tie.

Jinny twittered, "Oh, Eino, the Judge wants to hear about the new
state dairy regulations.  He was just asking me."

Eino was distressingly informed and accurate, and he produced a
fireworks-display of figures until Cass, to his annoyance, really
became interested.  But he felt flat and baffled.  How could he
persuade Jinny of the joys of a life-time of furnace-regulation?
He bravely put her out of his mind forever--forever until they sat
at the movie and her hand slipped unasked into his.

So the lover started all over again his daily task of being
crushed.



17


He had, for Jinny, dinner at his house, with Rose and Donald
Pennloss and Abbott and Hortense Hubbs.  Cleo went mad trying to
take care of them all.

Rose informed Cass, after dinner, "I do like your Marshland girl.
She's the cleverest of all your girls."

"WHAT girls?"

"Oh, you know.  How would _I_ know?  And Cass, she's so pretty!"
Then Cass loved his sister, whom he had not infrequently considered
a nuisance.

He had persuaded Jinny to bring in a portfolio of her Fliegend Toy
drawings, that his friends might see that Miss Jinny was not only
the most beautiful but the most talented young woman living, and he
pressed them on Hubbs.

Abbott Hubbs was the neurotic, young-old newspaperman who hated
newspapers, who drank too much and smoked too many cigarettes and
was too snappishly cynical, and in the privacy of his meager home,
read poetry aloud to his wife, who loved and slapped and, during
hangovers, nursed him.  He was always shaky, dropping cigarette
ashes on everything: a thin, wizened, black-haired, extraordinarily
honest and generous man, a victim of the days of war-bulletins and
smug syndicated columns and cameras and high finance in newspapers.

Jinny had prepared sketches for a pasteboard political Punch and
Judy show.  Hubbs looked at her piggish Mussolini, her melancholy
Hitler, her bulldog Churchill, her mocking Roosevelt, and he cried,
shaking ashes all over the sketches, "These are fine, these are
mighty fine.  Jinny, could I take some of 'em and show 'em to Greg
Marl, at the paper?"

Cass noted, along with his pride in this discovery of Jinny's
genius, that this was the first time that any of his friends had
addressed her as "Jinny."

Next day, Gregory Marl, large and soft and diplomatic spoke to him
at the Federal Club.

"We think well of Miss Marshland's drawings at the Banner office,
Cass, and we're losing our cartoonist.  He's going to enlist in the
Army--thinks America will get into the war, maybe by the middle of
1942."

"YOU don't believe that, do you, Greg?"

"Oh, no, not a chance.  We'll go on furnishing supplies to England,
but we'll never enter the war."

"Maybe we ought to."

"Maybe--but we won't.  But you never can persuade these crazy
youngsters like my cartoonist.  So I would like to talk to Miss
Marshland.  Does she understand reproduction processes?"

"Must--working at Fliegend's."

"Confidentially do you know what they're paying her?"

"Uh--thirty-five a week."

"Uh--I guess the Banner could hike that to forty-five."

Cass told himself that he was pleased that she could command all
this wealth.

When Jinny went worrying to Lucius Fliegend about the Banner offer,
Lucius insisted on her taking this nobler job.



On her last afternoon at the factory, in late August, they gave
Jinny a riotous party, with speeches by Mr. Fliegend, B. Ogden
Hathawick, the shipping clerk, the society reporter of the Grand
Republic Banner, and District Judge Cass Timberlane.

Her first cartoon for the Banner depicted an American eagle
meditatively though rather acrobatically scratching its beak with a
claw, as it gazed at a two-headed eagle with two crowns.  Spirited
and original, felt Cass, and he made it the occasion for taking her
to dinner at the Unstable.

Where hitherto she had worked on the Southwest Side, now her office
was in the center of town, only three and a half blocks from the
court house, and as his fall term opened, Cass was demanding that
she lunch with him, at Charley's or Oscar's or the Pineland or the
Ladies' Annex of the Federal, at least three days a week.  But she,
who a month ago had been a flying-haired working girl with
gingerbread and an apple for lunch in a flowery pasteboard box, was
now a gray-suited, demurely coiffed young career-woman, and Cass
was heavy with worry and a certain jealousy as he found that she
had no longer to depend on him to meet the Important Factors in the
Commercial and Professional Life of Our City, but was invited to
lunch by Abbott Hubbs, Curtiss Havock, Fred Nimbus, the announcer,
and Dick Wolke, the jeweler.  When he met her now, it was as likely
to be she who had the "inside track on the news"--she called it
that--news about Norton Trock's extra-legal speculations or Bernice
Claywheel's lovers or the more secret plans of the Turkish Army.

To his tenderness for her Cass added wondering admiration of her
knowledge.  She knew just how much false hair Madge Dedrick wore,
and precisely what plans, in a secluded tent on the African desert,
British agents were making. . . .  Hubbs had told her, and Cass
mustn't let it go any further.

She reported all her professional triumphs, and Cass was proud but
worried, as they walked in the chilly September evenings, with the
first of the Northern Lights like a gigantic glass chandelier
swaying in the ceiling of the heavens.

He was in a trance of absolute love, and such practicalities as
marriage seemed trivial.  He wanted nothing except what she might
want.  His responsibility as a judge, his devotion to his friends,
his zest in hunting and swimming, his reverence for learning, these
must remain in him, for they were indestructible parts of him, but
they were minor and obvious facts, not worth noting, compared with
his worship for this slight, swift-walking girl.

But he did not think of her only in terms of divinity, of altars
and silver wings.  He hoarded a bus-transfer ticket that had been
crumpled in her hot hand, a pencil sketch of himself which she had
made on a paper napkin.

The Quiet Mind that he had always sought he had found now in
Jinny's cool presence.  She was to him not lovely flesh alone,
though wholesomely and urgently she was that as well, but peace and
reality.  With her, he might never accomplish strange adventures,
but with her the commonplace life of a Grand Republic lawyer might
become as beautiful as sunrise on a prairie slew.



The rumor that "Judge Timberlane has fallen for some skirt or other
and is going to get hitched" had spread from Ottawa Heights to the
distant wilderness fully five minutes' drive away, where dwelt
nobody at all except the clerks and factory workers and repairmen
and women and children who made up nine-tenths of the population of
Grand Republic.

Into the mind of everyone who wanted everyone else to do something
beneficial for all the rest of the people and do it right away came
the same inspiration.  If Judge Timberlane was going to be married
again, and apparently this time to a tempting little piece who
would keep him absorbed, then he would be less affable about giving
contributions, making speeches, sitting on committees, signing
broadsides, and listening to the local Adam Smiths read aloud, from
mimeographed sheets, their plans to bring about international peace
by having the Lenin Institute of Moscow, the University of Berlin,
and the University of Indiana combine.  They must get to him at
once, and if George Hame had not been agile at the corridor door of
the Judge's chambers, they probably would have done so.

They had to be content with writing to him, though they would have
preferred to bolt in and shout, "I know you're a busy man and I
just want three minutes of your time," and then stay for three
eloquent hours.

Daily Cass had letters from organizations to keep us out of the
war, to get us into the war, to support the labor unions, the
manufacturers' unions, the farmers' unions, and the Dickens
Fellowship, and crusades to glorify the American mother or to
persuade her to stop talking.

He felt guilty about all of them but instead of answering them,
now, he went out to lunch with Jinny.



He had little of her fantastic imagination, whereby, in her Banner
cartoons, Rumania became a sinister cat like her own Isis, but he
nourished that imagination in her, along with every happiness and
tranquility.  He looked at her cartoons even before the European
war headlines or the court notices, and when she had failed, as
unfortunately she frequently did, he winced, and prayed for her
success.  Oh, yes, he did sometimes pray, to a Liberal Congregational
God who was interested in world peace and the welfare of
share-croppers.

He walked with Jinny, they played poker at Miss Hatter's--Tracy
Oleson had the astuteness about straights to be expected from a
Wargate Corporation man--and once, when a carnival came to town,
Cass and Jinny attended it and shot rifles at clay ducks and had
their weights guessed and their photograph taken, arm in arm.

In the belief that she had enjoyed somewhat rowdy sports like
bowling with Eino and Tracy, Cass conceived it to be his duty to
show himself boisterous, and he rode the merry-go-round with her,
boldly reaching for the brass ring, while the electors of Radisson
County stood in a circle yelling, "Ride 'em, Judge" and "Good boy,
Judge; you got it."  He looked triumphantly at Jinny, on a gold and
aquamarine unicorn beside him, but her face was compressed and
disapproving.

He got off the merry-go-round as soon as possible.  "I thought
you'd enjoy roughhousing with me," he puzzled.

"It isn't dignified.  Nor for a judge."

"But I thought you didn't like it when I was too dignified."

"I don't, but still--People recognizing you and staring at you
cutting up monkeyshines!  Your own constituents!"

"Why, Jinny, I gained five votes for my next election every time
they saw me go round!"

"Yes--maybe--but still--"

He had thought that in Blanche he had encountered all the feminine
unreasonableness there was to know.  The student of precedents
sighed, "Overruled again."

The first occasion on which they were invited out together was a
dinner given by Rose Pennloss, with the playful Zagos, that
glittering semi-bachelor Jay Laverick and, to Cass's quaking, Chris
Grau.

The Pennloss house was as neat as a shop-window and as comfortable
as a hotel and no more affectionate than either.  The living-room,
scientifically the right size for a family of three, was filled
with maple reproductions of Colonial furniture, on a machine-made
handmade rug, with a New Art wallpaper depicting, with liberties,
the environs of Boston, all highly clean and shining, with one
relieving vulgarity in a rubbed red-leather couch on which Don took
his naps.  The excellent dinner, cooked by the excellent Swedish
maid and served on excellent china that, in a fainting gray, showed
the major churches of New England, tasted as the fine maple
furniture looked.

To Cass, social dinners were likely to be either hellish or dull.
This was hellish.

But Chris Grau, now first coming on Jinny and him as a recognized
couple, was cordial, was easily generous.  She asked Cass about the
health of Cleo, and she said to Jinny, "I look at your cartoons
every day, Miss Marshland.  I think they are extremely clever."

As he heard this, Cass suddenly knew that they were not
particularly clever, and he felt bleak.

He kept babbling, and Rose had a sorry tale of how little the
Reverend Dr. Gadd appreciated her spiritual yearnings, and the
Zagos bounced about and waved the stalks of vegetables in the air,
but Jinny was as strong as Chris.  She was wordless but merry-eyed,
and she listened to everybody exactly as though she were listening.

She even kept on smiling when Juliet Zago yelled, "Oh, oopsums, we
dot Baked Alaska for dessertums!"

Rose had thought not badly of Jinny, and looked at her now with
politeness, but she wanted to know quite a few fundamental things
about her religious beliefs, her virtue, her opinion of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, and how cheaply she could buy clothes.

What, fretted Cass, could any man do against the secret hates and
grudging acceptances of women?

Not cowards in the windy forests of night can find such jumpy fears
as any lover.  When dinner was over, Rose's daughter, Valerie,
fifteen and fresh and excited, came in from a movie which she and
the current boy had been professionally viewing and judging.  She
clamped on Jinny as the only bright thing in this mildewed company.
The two girls, twenty-four and fifteen, slipped away and could be
heard laughing in the sun-room.  When Jinny was dragged back, to
make up the second table of bridge, she looked at Cass sulkily, and
he felt like a wicked old pasha.

He was unreasonably irritated that they expected him to be grateful
to them for accepting as possibly worthy of them the young Diana
clothed in light.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives


ROSE AND DON PENNLOSS


Cass Timberlane never at any time expected the marriage of his
sister and Don Pennloss to last for three months more.  He was
sorry; he liked them both, and in their informal and impersonal
house he was comfortable.  But Rose had ambitions for what she
called "a richer life," which meant, to her, music and travel and
new clothes and being the hostess to visiting lecturers, like
Diantha Marl, or living in a New York duplex, like Astra Wargate,
sister-in-law of Webb.

Her husband liked making love to her, liked having her around to
play rummy and hear his stories.  The trouble, or so Rose thought,
was that he was common in taste and dull in talk and a small
dreariness to look at.  She could not endure the heavy monotone of
his voice; he quarreled or made love or said the bacon was good or
denounced the unions in exactly the same basso, without
inflections.

Don was, at forty, a grain-dealer, president of the Aldpen Elevator
System, and he made nine thousand dollars a year and liked
carpentry, and when you asked him if he didn't think it was a hot
afternoon, he told you.  Always, invariably though Rose threatened
to scream, he had a nap on the red leather couch when he came home
from the office, and invariably he announced his purpose by saying,
"I think I'll take a little nap now."  Never a large nap.  Never a
medium-sized nap.  Always a little one.  And he snored.

On evenings when they were at home alone, he turned on the radio
and let it blast away through music, weather reports, lumber-market
reports, addresses about South American tariffs, and humorous
sketches in which celebrated radio artists said that their rivals--
really lovely friends of theirs--were no good at all.  Don rarely
heard any of it, as he read his newspaper and The Grain Gazette,
but if she wanted to turn it off he was angry.  He mourned, "Can't
a man do what he wants to even in his own house?  I don't stay out
nights chasing around with a bunch of chippies, and I think I might
have some consideration."

Rose frequently told Cass that her liveliest desire was to have Don
"stay out nights and chase his head off and let me have one quiet
evening to think in."

When Rose had married him sixteen years ago--he was twenty-four and
she was only twenty--she had reported to Cass, "Don's really the
most appealing boy, under his apparent solidity.  I'm the only one
who understands him.  He tugs at my heartstrings."

She complained about Don now rather too much; usually to Cass but
not rarely to an intimate lunch of women at the Heather Club.  But
she never complained to her daughter, Valerie, for whom she planned
vicarious careers as an actress or a newspaperwoman.

She said to Cass, in effect, "I want to live in New York and get to
know all the intellectuals.  But what is a woman who is still good-
looking at thirty-six but not beautiful enough to make a career of
it, clever enough to know she wouldn't be clever on any job, aware,
through reading, of all the glamor and luxuries of life but with no
money for them and no rich relatives to murder, active and yet
contemptuous of amateur charities and artistic trifling and
exhibitionistic sports, untrained in anything worth fifteen dollars
a week on the labor market and not even, after years of marriage, a
competent cook or nurse, no longer in love with her husband and
bored by everything he does--and he always does it!--and yet
unwilling to have the thrill of being vengeful toward him or of
hurting him intentionally, liking other men but not lecherous nor
fond of taking risks, possessing a successful daughter and too
interested in her to desert her--just what is this typical upper-
middle-middle-class American Wife to DO?"

When Cass scolded that she had never yet done anything to prove
that she was really superior to her cheerful and industrious
husband, and that Don might be bored also, Rose agreed so
angelically that Cass felt helpless.  And when he insisted that if
she really wanted to break away, she must quit talking, take a
plain job, study, thoroughly learn some occupation, she agreed just
as amiably, and did nothing.

She had once had something like a lover in St. Paul, a musician,
a pretentious fool who finally ran off with a weak-minded
grandmother, but Rose was still proud of having been caressed by
this cavalier.  Once, for two weeks, she had thought that she was
in love with the brutal powers of Dr. Roy Drover, but then the
doctor had gone trout-fishing.

She believed that she liked to listen to spirited conversations
between Men of Talent.  She asserted that she was "absolutely in
awe of geniuses, like Bernard Shaw and Henry Ford" and that she
"got such a profound thrill from hearing original points of view
expressed."  Actually, they never did get expressed when she was
around, because if she asked a deep question, she interrupted the
answer to it as soon as she had thought up another question.  Even
the most intellectual exhibit--say, Norton Trock explaining bank
clearances--became only a dark background for Rose's spiritual
fireworks.

All of this about Rose Pennioss is true, and none of it is quite
true, because along with her restlessness, which arose from her
feeling that nothing she was doing was important, she was a kind-
hearted and attractive woman and an unjealous mother, who would,
with a sturdier man, have become a good farm-wife.  And, loving
Cass, she was willing to believe as strongly as he that in Jinny
Marshland there was a witch-lamp and a knowledge of good and evil.



18


This October week, Cass had a wriggling heap of divorces in his
court, along with a good clean burglary and one lively carnal-
knowledge case.  He worked late in his chambers or at home, and all
week he did not once see Jinny.  Saturday, he went reluctantly off
on what was supposed to be a joyful duck-hunting stag, at Dr.
Drover's log hunting lodge near Lake Vermilion.

"Roy's Retreat" had cost a good many appendectomies for its
varnished logs, its fieldstone fireplace, and many a humble tonsil
had gladly sacrificed itself for the Navajo blankets, the Mexican
pottery, the rack of English shotguns, and the hotel-size
refrigerator.

The six hunters in the party were out on the duck-pass at four in
the morning on the day after their arrival.  They set out the
decoys and humped over, shivering, in the rain, watching the bleary
water, the thin tamaracks, as a wet dawn crawled over the swamp of
faded reeds.  Dr. Drover had two bottles of brandy with him, and
when they drove back to the lodge for breakfast, at nine, they had
only five mallards, but they had six beautiful jags.  Thereafter,
though Roy would occasionally go out and repel some savage duck
that seemed to menace them, they drank and played poker and talked
about women, and not about women in the kitchen or the polling-
booth.

The others were gentler men than Roy; they did not roar and they
liked novels and the theater, yet all of them, except Cass and
Gerald Lent, who had once lived in Europe and who was now the kept
husband and social secretary of Della Wargate Lent, belonged to the
Big Boys, the solid and hearty fellows, contemptuous of tenderness
toward any women except their mothers and their daughters, and
their talk about women, as about taxation, marched with the tread
of infantry on parade.

Though the biggest and by far the strongest among them, Cass often
had an exasperating feeling of inferiority to these virile
captains.  Like a small boy among scornful elder brothers, he
babbled things he did not especially want to say, he interrupted
them with uneasy questions that he did not particularly want
answered.  He told wavering anecdotes about the court room, and
even during them he thought, "This is a very dull story!"  He
chattered about Russia, about Judge Blackstaff, about the way to
cook cabbage, about every small subject that was sacred to him just
now because he had been discussing it with Jinny.

Roy belched, "Oh, shut up, Cass, you're just gossiping.  You get me
down.  How the hell a pansy like you, that plays the flute and
reads poetry and is nuts about every sixteen-year-old gal that hits
town and even gets chummy with these Farmer-Labor agitators that
want to overthrow the Government--how come you can still be the
best shot in town is clean beyond me.  By God, THAT'S injustice!"

That was Roy's way of showing his affection--and of showing what he
really thought.

In their talk of women, Roy and Greg Marl said nothing about their
own wives, and Bradd Criley had none, but Harley Bozard jeered that
his spouse, Karen, was completely frigid, and Marl let them know
how successfully, on a Pullman sleeper, he had seduced the wife of
a college president.

Gerald Lent ruefully reported, "If any of you boys think it's a
cinch to be idle and live on a rich wife like Della, that expects
you to yes her relatives and to get hot at two A.M., I wish you'd
try it.  I ever tell you about the time I had a row with her before
I went off to the Arrowhead?  When I came home, she'd put all my
pictures and clothes and the chest that I bought in Florence out on
the lawn, in the rain.  The meanest job I know of is to be the
little husband in the home, waiting for the big manly wife to come
from work.  No ditch-digger earns his keep as hard as I do.  I
wonder when I'll walk out on dear Della.  She'll be so surprised!
Hey, don't be so tightwad with that hootch."

Through it all the monkish Cass wanted only to repeat the awfully
bright things his Jinny had said.

He dared not even question her employer, Greg Marl, about her
progress as a cartoonist, lest the independent young woman hear of
it and think that he was interfering.

He was certain that these were his good friends and that he was
madly enjoying the drinking and the poker, but when they were all
out on the lake, one day earlier than he had intended to go, he
left a highly perjured note for them and drove back, on a red-gold
Minnesota October afternoon, to Grand Republic--to Jinny.

On the way, from a booth in a country store, he telephoned to her,
"Starting home--dine with me tonight?"  She was at the Banner
office, where ordinarily she was forbiddingly businesslike, but now
she squealed, "Darling!  I didn't expect you till tomorrow.  I'm so
glad!"

"I had a fine time hunting with the boys."

"The boys!  Grrrr!"

"I thought maybe I never would come home."

"So did I.  I was scared."

"Would you really care if I didn't come back?"

"I think I'd just die.  No, no, I wouldn't!  But--"

"Darling, I'm so--We dine, then?"

"Of course.  Why not?"

"Well--you know--I was afraid you might have a date with Eino or
Tracy or Abbott Hubbs."

"Those brats!  And if I did--so what!"

"You'd break it for me?"

By now, the ardor that in her surprise Jinny had betrayed had grown
more cautious, but she was still friendly as she answered, "I might
think about it, anyway."

"I'll be at Miss Hatter's at seven, then."

"I'll be all ready.  Seven sharp."

Which, in Jinny's time-schedule, meant ten minutes past seven, not
very sharp.

But for once, when he drove up she was out on a flimsy sort of
balcony, apparently ready, and she waved to him with a thrilling
"Be right down!"

He then waited, in his car, for seven minutes.  Four of them he
devoted to regretfully watching his fervor cool off, and three to
wondering whether she had, upstairs there, some rat of a suitor
whom she did not wish him to see.

As she came out of the covered outside stairway, his rapture sprang
up again, but now it was Jinny who was reasonlessly cool.  She said
"Hello" civilly, and nothing more, and slipped around the car and
into it before he could give her his hand.

The fatuous lover fretted, as he drove, "I did miss you so, Jinny.
No fun with the ducks.  You miss me?"

"I guess I did.  Yes, sure.  But I've been awful busy."

He had the sense to be still, on their way to the Unstable, or to
mutter about ducks, a subject devoid (in their case) of emotional
strain, and to tell her that Greg Marl had said, "Good little
draftsman, Jinny, and a good sport in the office."

Jinny glowed with "Oh, did he?"  Yet she was morose again when they
faced the excellent whitefish and fried apples at the Unstable, and
our poor friend was no longer wise.  He protested, "What's the
trouble, lamb?"

"Trouble?  I don't know what you mean by 'trouble'!"

"Well, you're so silent--"

"Good heavens, can't I ever be quiet a moment without being accused
of being deliberately unpleasant?"

"I didn't say you were unpleasant!  I never even thought such a--"

"Well, you certainly looked as if you did."

"Oh, Jinny, dear Jinny, what are you quarreling about?"

"I?  Quarreling?  Oh, this is too much!  I get so irritated when
you watch me and spy on me and try to find fault with every little
thing that I do or don't do and try and show how superior and--I
DO!"

He could only look at her like a mournful hound surprised by the
spitting of his friend the household kitten.  Jinny ran down.  She
laughed, she cried for a second--a tear absurdly dribbled down her
immaculate nose--and she whimpered:

"It's my old trick.  You'll have to beat me."

"M."

"When I was a kid, whenever I wanted something terribly and then
got it, so I was all excited and grateful--like Christmas or a
birthday or finally Mother got a dress for me that I was crazy
about--then I was scared to let on how happy I was, or maybe I was
afraid it would vanish if I believed in it too hard and showed how
much I wanted it.  So I'd fly off into a horrible little tantrum,
and the gladder I'd been, the worse I'd behave.  Believe me, it
didn't last long, it never did, and if Dad and Mother could just
get themselves to ignore it, I'd be all right.  But it did used to
surprise them and hurt them.  And now--I'm not so violent, but I'm
doing something like that to you, and you're so sweet!  I've been
vixenish tonight just because I WAS glad you'd come back early!  Do
you think you can put up with it?  I know I'll do it again.  Even
to you.  Can you endure such a horrible, childish frenzy?"

Why, of course he could.  Meant nothing at all.  Just nerves and
tiredness, from all her energy--Get right over it.  Certainly.
Fact, he'd enjoy her tantrums, if she was always so regretful and
generally lovely afterward.  And USUALLY, with MOST lovers, they
didn't just have little misunderstandings like this, but actually
QUARRELED, didn't they?  THEY were DIFFERENT!



19


The red maple leaves and the golden poplar among the pines, and the
innocent blue skies that were the autumnal glory of Grand Republic,
were gone.  Spring was a season too harsh and swift in Northern
Minnesota; it was the carnival of colored leaves and the serenity
of the long Indian Summer days that the natives of this land would
remember sadly, far off in tired Eastern cities.  With November,
the first snows had brought shouting cheerfulness to children with
sleighs and blasphemy to drivers trying to slide their cars up the
slippery roads to Ottawa Heights.

The city hunched its shoulders now to the long winter blast.  The
trees that had given a village gentleness to the long streets were
thin and shivering, and the houses were scattered and low, lonely
as the old frontier.

Reviving cocktail parties were gay, at the Wargates', Madge
Dedrick's, the Havocks', the Bozards', but Cass was not often
present.  The first scandal of his interest in a Young Outsider had
settled to an accepted routine, but his friends resented more than
ever his neglect of them, felt in it a slighting of the social
glories of their town, about which they were always very emphatic
and very insecure.

When he could not be with Jinny Cass preferred the habitualness and
the validity of his court room, where now the lights came on early
and they were snug and content about their business of sending
people to prison and were not disturbed by the invitation of green
river valleys and the liquid sound of small lake-waves around a
fisherman's scow.  Often, after court, he talked for half an hour
with George Hame, the court reporter, who apparently knew nothing
about Jinny, though he had seen her in these chambers, but who, if
he had known, would have assumed that any young thing was lucky to
get the Judge.

Cass saw Jinny daily, and he was disconsolate in discovering that
the course of true love runs in curlicues.  He had assumed that
persons so sensible as himself and Jinny would march sweetly and
directly onward from meeting to understanding to an altar and a
beautiful home and six beautiful children all superb in filial
devotion and swimming and arithmetic.  With Blanche, the progress
had been straight enough.  She had found his attentions flattering;
she had taught him to wear his clothes and his political opinions
well; she had met a richer man; and she had got out.  What could be
better charted?

But with Jinny, even his jealousies ran jaggedly.



He was dining with Jinny and Eino Roskinen in a booth at Shorty's
Fountain Cafe.  The prospect was of a forest of hats and overcoats
upon a skeleton tree, a woman in dreadful plaid winter slacks, and
a Coca-Cola poster showing a nearly naked bathing girl--the Folk
Art of America.  They were taking the Blue Plate Dinner: a pork
chop with apple sauce and French-fried potatoes and string beans
made of wood pulp, though afterward they indulged in "pie a la
mode," pie crowned with a hard little knob of ice cream.  It was an
abominable meal and a criticism on their whole civilization, but
Eino the torch-bearer did not, for once, perceive this as well as
the cautious judge.

Cass had wanted to treat these boarding-house starvelings to what
was here called a T-bone steak, but they had refused his patronage.
He was trying so hard to be one with them.  Eino now called him
"Cass," and the Judge winced every time he heard it, though it was
he who had suggested it.  To be youthful and chummy, he offered a
few remarks on football, which apparently bored them, and on the
fallacies of religion, which they dismissed as too elementary for
their advanced revolutionary standing.

Well, he had done his social duty, and he fell to musing, thinking
of an ethereal and more-than-human girl named Jinny, who was far
off somewhere and with whom he longed to be, flinging jests like
rainbow-hued balls of glass, reverently kissing her flawless
hands. . . .  Meanwhile he looked absently at the ink-spot on one
thin paw of Miss Marshland of the Grand Republic Banner.

He came out of his reverie to find that they were talking about the
local Little Theater, the Masquers.

"You ought to MAKE time for it, this winter, Jinx," Eino was
commanding.  "Personally I can't act--I'm too much the intellectual
type--but you have an energetic fakery that would make you a swell
actress."

Cass fumed that she did not resent this, but let him go on.  "Let
me tell you the theater could be the greatest instrument for the
implementation of social ideals that the world has ever known.  If
you'd quit sketching a little and reading a little and really go to
work and try for a part in the Masquers, you might accomplish
something."

"Eino!  Do you honestly think I could act?"

"Well, I'd coach you."

--He would, would he?  Aah!

--Is she already going back to that Eino?  I suspect she was pretty
fond of him when I came along, and then I was a novelty!  A
respectable lawyer prancing around making a comic spectacle of
himself over a girl young enough to be his--Well, she COULD be my
daughter, if I'd started begetting at sixteen.  Perfectly possible.
Curse it!

--Sure.  I merely offer her whatever dignities I may have, along
with all my adoration, and she flies off with the first tom fool
that guffaws at her--

--Now that's unfair.  She knew him some time before she ever knew
me, and anyway, she's merely a loyal friend of his, and he's a
fine, hard-working young--

--Does he have to keep on making that horrible noise, tapping on
the table with that crowbar of a finger?



When the children remembered that their Venerable Friend was still
present and tried to cheer up the poor old codger by giving him the
news that it had been cold today, he wanted to convince them that
he was still alive by croaking that, yes, it had been quite cold--
for November, that is--and he had noticed it all by himself.

(It had not, by the way, been particularly cold.)

Having thus done their duty by the nonagenarian and having given a
talented new actress to the stage, the happy young couple turned to
more personal confidences.  They said that Tracy Oleson was getting
to be as much of a stuffed shirt as Webb Wargate himself, but they--
they would just get off in corners and laugh about it.  They
illustrated, by laughing.

It was part of their creed and time that every so often Eino and
Jinny should say to each other, "What's cooking?" and that they
should show reverence for jazz and familiarity with such
contemporary maestri as Benny Goodman and Peewee Russell.  Cass
hoped Eino would never learn that he sometimes, in a melancholy and
amateurish way, tried to play Purcell airs on his flute.  This
practice he had begun in college vacations, and it had been
extraordinarily ill received by Roy Drover.

Jinny (or so Judge Timberlane believed) smiled guiltily at Eino
while she adjusted the straps of her brassiere--known at this time
as a "brazeer," or, coyly, as a "bra."  But he insisted that it was
not Jinny who was damp and treacherous.  She was innocent, but this
Roskinen was a wolf.

By God, he would protect this child, toward whom he himself had no
intentions save to teach her chess!  If Eino thought for one moment
that he wasn't suspected--

Eino was on his feet, saying with amiable brevity that he'd enjoyed
his dinner--leave you two capitalists to wallow in the movies--
g'night.  Then Jinny was clawing at Cass like an angry Cleo:

"Cass, my dear young brainless baby, I have never in all my life
seen such an exhibition of childish jealousy!"

"Me?"

"You, Honorable Timberlane, you!"

"But I disapprove of--I detest jealousy!"

"Then you detest yourself.  The way you kept glaring at Eino,
contradicting everything he said, but not decently, with words, but
with that horrible sniffy silence!  And when I yanked at my
shoulder-straps, you put on such a production of goggling at me and
then Eino that the poor lamb was thunderstruck.  And this after
he's given up all claim on me!  I'm simply not going to stand for
such insane jealousy!"

"Jinny!  I didn't know I was.  Maybe you're right.  I'm profoundly--"

"And all over poor Eino!  Now if you'd pick out my editor, Mr.
Hubbs, to be jealous over--"

"Hubbs?  He, too?"

"Oh, very much too.  He's what we call in the office a sweetie
pie."

Impishly, she waited for him to vomit over the phrase, but he was
being too seriously appalled that he should be another of the
jealous lovers who brought so much poison into his court.  He
muttered, "So I really seemed jealous?"

"And how!  And when you consider that I almost never see Eino any
more.  His mother has moved into town, and they've taken a shack
together, and he just drops in at Hatter's to see Tracy and Lyra--
not me.  The fact is--"  She wrinkled with a new worry as she went
on.  "I don't see enough of him, or the rest of my old bunch,
either, not even Lyra.  I'm so much at the office, and evenings I'm
likely to be out with you.  And you actually jealous of those eager
kids!  I've drifted away from them shamefully.  I give you all my
time, and then you humiliate me by this jealousy.  Oh, Cass, I
can't stand it, if you're going on like this!"

"My dear, I'm all humbleness.  I hadn't realized it.  I have only
the old excuse that my jealousy is the measure of my devotion to
you--and of my insecurity with you.  If we were really engaged, if
I could only be sure that I had you to do things for, then maybe I
wouldn't be so uncertain and so jealous."

"But I still don't see how you can be so touchy, and 'suspect me of
the worst'--whatever that means."

"And I don't see how you can endure driving me plain mad--and
ridiculous--by leaving me so baffled.  But no matter; even if you
do, I won't be jealous.  And don't tell me again that jealousy is
an insult to you.  I know it is!  So--I'm cured."

"Are you?"

"I think so--maybe."

They could laugh slightly, and everything was settled, and with
entirely unconscious jealousy he got her talking about this new
menace, this scoundrel, Abbott Hubbs.

She, it appeared, was sorry that Mr. Hubbs drank so much, and she
believed that his wife was not gentle enough with him.  It also
seemed that an Important Person in Washington had asserted that Mr.
Hubbs was competent to take charge of any newspaper in Chicago or
New York.  Most devastating of all, Mr. Hubbs--he had such a sense
of humor--cut paper dolls out of the exchanges and presented them
to Jinny, who had one of them in her purse this moment, along with
Isis.

To Cass, it looked like a very bad paper doll.  It looked like a
piece of newspaper which had been chewed by a puppy of imperfect
intelligence.

He said that Hubbs was a "splendid fellow and very brainy" and that
the paper doll was of unique charm.  Blessedly, then, they quit
that quest for perfection in each other which is the maddening
glory of all true love, and they did a very fine game with matches--
you make six triangles with eight matches, only you never do.  He
stroked her hand, soft tan against the red-rubber tabletop, and
they went arm in arm off to the movies.



That night, gravely rubbing Cleo's spine, he told himself that
jealousy was the meanest of sicknesses and most contemptible of
prides.

Having delivered before himself an address which would have adorned
any Bar Association dinner, Cass became rather sorry for this
lonely judge, still young, able to love with angelic selflessness,
yet kept waiting like a servant by an opinionated young woman with
shameless scarlet finger-nails.

Then--some time in his dizzy changes of opinion he must have pulled
Cleo's hair, for she yowled and leaped and fled--he fell upon
himself for this desecration.  No!  Jinny was the true goddess,
perfect in every part, under law of the miracle whereby a woman who
is completely lovely of face is lovely also in skin and limbs and
shoulders and voice and walk.  She was the divinity inviolable, to
say nothing of being a very exciting young woman who said such
clever things, and sometimes was a grieved and frightened little
girl who broke his heart by her helplessness against the vicious
world.

Then, by a descent into hell too swift to have been marked:

--Of course she's all that.  But.

--But does she have to fall for every heel she meets?  She
specializes in heels.  First this philandering Little Theater hound
and that statistical Tracy Oleson lout, and now this third-rate
dipsomaniac, Hubbs.

--Oh, quit thinking in circles!  To say nothing of its being a
crime against your love for her, which is the one splendor in your
whole mechanical, law-grubbing existence.

--But do Eino and she make fun of me and laugh at me when they're
by themselves?  Do they consider me a solemn owl trying to be a
lark?  How they must talk and giggle!

--Dear Jinny, my beloved, forgive me for loving you better than I
can!



All the next morning, in court, while he was listening to the
horror of a woman who had killed her own baby, he kept fighting off
a vicious little plan to drop in at the Banner office and see how
Jinny and Abbott Hubbs acted when they were together.  The
testimony of the frightened woman burned away all the cheapness of
his plan, and he wondered that his self, which mostly he respected,
could be so sneaking.  On his way to lunch, he saw Hubbs on the
street: tall, anemic, moving jerkily.  He thought of him, working
hard, drinking hard to keep going, watched always with a friendly
distrust by that bland Olympian, Gregory Marl.

Then all the sickness of jealousy was gone from him--for a while.



20


When the November snows had halted automobile wanderings, they
began a placid habit of evenings at Bergheim.  Sometimes Jinny
brought Isis along and set her where she could watch.  To Cass,
this affection for the tiny glass cat was no sillier than Egyptian
rites in which Jinny might have been a little wise priestess, her
thin hands elevated in prayer to feline mysteries, in the ancient
haze of the Nile.

Mrs. Higbee adopted Jinny, and one evening Cass heard them as they
explored the upstairs, conferring on what should be done for Him.

"Do you ever have French toast for His breakfast?" suggested Jinny.

"Oh, yes, He likes any kind of sweets.  He isn't a heavy eater, you
might say, but the way He can shovel in the griddle cakes!"

"We ought to take more care of His health.  He's always carrying on
about His hunting and tennis and swimming, but wintertime, He
sticks His nose in a book and never gets out."

"Don't I know it, Miss Jinny! . . .  You, Cleo, you get out from
under my feet.  What you want to do?  Trip me up? . . .  I say to
Him at breakfast, I say, 'Judge, aren't you ashamed of yourself,
big strong young fellow like you, sitting and reading, read all the
time, all those big thick books, and not get out for exercise 'cept
summer?'  But Lord, I can't do anything with Him.  I'll keep Him
nice and clean and well fed inside the house, but you got to drag
Him out on walks."

"I will, too.  Gracious, this bedroom of His is gloomy!  I'd like
to see it all in maple, with blue curtains."

"Looks like He likes it gloomy.  I guess judges don't get fun, like
you and me."

"I'll educate Him!"

Downstairs, Cass listened blissfully.

He had at first been fretted by the thought of Jinny's presence
raising scandal among all the John William Prutts and peeping
telephonic widows, but they were so natural and serene and domestic
as they sat reading in the small, pipe-scented library that he
forgot such alien dangers.  He inquired whether she would not
rather go out dancing, drinking, and she had to instruct him:

"I don't want to go racketing around all the time.  If I really
wanted to go out with these young punks, I'd go.  It's just as
exciting to find all these books here:  The Golden Bough and August
Derleth.  Oh, don't INSIST on my being discontented!  I can do that
so easy by myself.  Sweet blessed angel, will you quit your
worrying?

"Yes--yes--oh--sorry--yes!"

--Trying to make her more contented than contentment itself!
That's all a piece with the jealousies I used to feel.  Thank God
THAT'S cured!

--This profession of being a true lover.  Can any one master it?
That must be God's most sublime joke on the human race; that the
more you want to make a woman happy, the more you blunder and bore
her.

--Do you remember that Judge Timberlane being profound about
matrimony in his chambers?  And spinsters and unwed priests giving
advice about it.  Marriage and the common cold--the two persistent
problems of mankind and the ones that have never been solved.

--Lovely Jinny, sitting there with your tongue in the corner of
your mouth, reading Death Comes for the Archbishop and looking like
such a wise child, and all the while more devastating and terrible
than war.

--One thing I do get clear about her.  She is one of those
extraordinary people who are not willing to settle down and wait
for death, willing to play cards and yawn and gossip and actually
speak of 'killing time,' when we have so little time.  What life
she has she will always live.

Unconscious of the lecture about her, the girl softly closed the
book, slid to the hearth, and curled beside Cleo while Cass's
meditations ticked on:

--You baby!  Not so much bigger than Cleo, and yet all the while I
see you as the eternal Pilgrim.  My beloved, can't there be one
husband and wife in history whom Time will spare for a moment and
who will defeat the worm?  Dear Jinny, I wonder if you hear me?

"Cass!  You're smiling so tenderly.  Are you thinking of something
pleasant?"

"Well, something important, anyway."

"Like candy-bars?  Or a high dive?"

"Yes, but with a touch of flaming wings."

"Sounds ingenious.  Oh golly, I'm tired.  I'm going home to bed, my
pet."

"Nice words: home and bed.  But rarely any flaming wings to 'em."

"Are we as mysterious as we sound?"

"Jinny, we are the most mysterious and frightening things in the
world: a man and a woman of whom at least one is in love. . . .
Jin, does it scare you to hear the word death?"

"Never!  I can't die--not for sixty years at least."

The little cat meowed pitifully at their feet.



When he had driven her home and returned to his library, he saw
that she had forgotten to take Isis with her.  On a bookshelf the
trinket shone in firelight, now diamond-flashing, now ruby, until
as he stood there in his rustic coonskin coat and sealskin hat, he
was hypnotized and saw a gigantic crystal cave in whose ice-glaring
maw crouched a little figure, half-naked, sobbing, terrified by
night and death.



21


Boyish and open-faced, blond and wavy-haired, a controlled drinker,
a careful but quick-minded lawyer, Cass's old friend Bradd Criley
was a pleasant fellow as well as the most valued dinner-guest and
bridge-partner in Grand Republic.  He was a bachelor, and he never
toyed with any woman over forty nor with any girl under eighteen--
unless he was sure he would not be found out.  He said to men, "I'm
sorry, but I've been so busy" and to women, "You're so beautiful
tonight."  He said, possibly he believed, that Cass was the
soundest judge on the Minnesota bench.

He came snowily in one evening when Cass was giving Jinny a lesson
in chess; he insisted on reading till the game was finished; and
afterward, as they talked, they three became a firm trio.

With his skillful teasing, he brought out from Jinny her opinions
on immortality and Gregory Marl--neither quite favorable--and he
made them laugh with his stories of the great, somber, dumb Wargate
Family, which his firm, Beehouse, Criley, and Anderson represented.
Jinny popped corn for them, pretty and flushed as she knelt by the
fireplace, and brought cider from the kitchen, and faintly sang a
cradle song.  Bradd, when he left them together, shook hands with
Cass and said in his frank, fresh voice, "Your Honor, I submit that
you two are the nicest family in Radisson County."

Next day, at the Club, he continued:  "Cass, when are you going to
marry this girl?  Let me tell you: if you don't, I will!"

"I'm crazy to.  But she's turned me down flat."

"Nonsense.  Keep asking her.  I can see she's crazy about you and
comfortable with you.  Naturally--she's still a kid--she wants to
show some independence."

"You don't think she's too young for me?"

"No!  Got a wise head on her lovely shoulders.  Ask her, boy.
You'll get a reversal of the previous verdict.  But if you don't
get busy--I'll give you three months, and if you haven't got her
pledged then, I'm in the ring.  I would be now, but I haven't a
chance.  She thinks you're a solid investment and I'm a flash gold-
stock.  Wonder how she guessed!"

Bradd's encouragement roused him.



Winter night at Bergheim, a northwest wind driving spears of snow
from Dakota and Saskatchewan, and in the library, Cass and Jinny
toasting and serene.

He laid down his Life of Lord Birkenhead and spoke plain:

"That's the sixth cigarette you've smoked this evening, Jin."

"Oh yas?"

"How many do you smoke a day?'

"I dunno.  Twenty, maybe."

"How long have you smoked?"

"Since I was seven."

"M?"

"Cornsilk.  In the Marshland barn."

"Well, I'll try not to nag.  I'm not much of a reformer.  I admire
revolutionists more than I do reformers.  The greatest reformer
living is Mr. Hitler, who is trying to reform all Europe.  But
still--Jinny, you have such fresh lips."

"That's Higgins's Sans Merci lipstick."

"Nonsense.  I've kissed you when your lips were damp and bare after
we'd been swimming.  Such sensitive lips and such a clear throat
and sound lungs--I hate to see 'em messed up, hate to see you spoil
'em just for an unconvincing pose of being worldly."

"Maybe I will cut 'em now--maybe."

"Come sit on my lap."

She did not, as once, roost there awkwardly, but lay gently against
him, one hand holding his lapel, while he urged:

"Now this is a trial.  You are judge and I'm the defendant AND his
attorney.  Now Your Honor, I represent the man Timberlane, a lout
and slow-witted, but fervently in love with you."

"With the judge?  Why, Cass!"

"Now play fair."

"Okay, Counselor.  Is this the accused that I see?  Does he have to
stand so close?  Let me look at him.  No.  He doesn't look so slow,
and I'm not too certain about his fervor.  After all my experience
on the bench, I'd say he was just in love with the picture of
himself as a lover."

"No, the fellow is not a romantic.  He really thinks about what his
young woman wants."

"His what?"

"All right, all right, monkey!  His inamorata.  His sweet lamb.
His perambulatory dream.  His virgin immaculate.  His princess of
the dark tower, and stormy as sunset were her lips, a stormy sunset
on doomed ships, and she gathers all things mortal with pale
immortal hands and she does not walk in the fields with gloves.
His tragic fate, tortuous as the River Vye.  His--Oh, Jinny, I'm
afraid I have to be serious.  You know that I love you utterly."

Her arms gently circled his neck, but after a selfless quiet she
sat up on his knee, a hand on each of his shoulders, mocking and
combative again.

"I still say I'm not sure you know what you want, Cass."

"I want to see you at breakfast, fresh in gingham."

"Nobody wears gingham any more, and at breakfast, before coffee, I
really AM a stormy sunset on doomed ships.  Ships run for Port
Arthur when they see me dooming at breakfast.  So that's out.  What
else?"

"I want to be able to come home from court and tell you how swell I
was; how my rulings stood 'em in the aisle."

Children of their earthy land and revolutionary time, flippant and
colloquial and compelled to nervous banter, they were yet in a
noble tradition of lovers, and there was more of tragic prince than
of smug clown in his airy demand; and it was Ruth amid most alien
corn who answered:

"I think you got something there."

Then he was grave.  "And I want children."  Blanche had been afraid
of bearing children and she had always "put it off a while yet--
till the right time."  Cass demanded, almost mournfully, "Do you
want babies, Jin?"

"Yes.  I love them."

"I'm glad.  And I want to travel with you."

"I see.  But not to kiss me."

He answered that.

"Well, I just wanted to make sure," she explained.

"But I haven't asked what the things are you want, and whether I
can give any of 'em to you, Jinny."

She was silent, then:  "I'm afraid you'll learn I'm one of these
changelings that can only give things to herself.  I'm fond of you
and grateful to you for liking me, but I have to travel by myself,
for a while anyway.  Maybe some day I can come back to you. . . .
The cat that walks by herself, and she does get lonely in the night
woods, but she has to see every shadow for herself and not be told
by anyone what it's the shadow of--tree or bear or hunter or maybe
a ghost--shadow of a ghost.  I have to look for myself."

His "Darling!" was a sound of helplessness.

Then, so suddenly that it was almost pain, not joy to him, she
said, "But that doesn't mean that I may not marry you, before long,
and go away now and then and come back to you when the woods get
too scary."

Arm around his neck again, she kissed him voluntarily, and on that
there walked into the room Mr. John William Prutt, Mrs. Henrietta
(Mrs. J. W.) Prutt, and their sound filial investments Mr. Jack
Prutt and Miss Margaret Prutt, with ten thousand ancestral shades
of correct and banking Prutts in superb gray Pruttery behind them.

"Oh!" said Mr. Prutt.

"Your maid didn't explain--" said Mrs. Prutt.

Mr. Jack Prutt whistled.

Cass had felt Jinny's body stiffen as she prepared to leap from his
lap, but when the Prutts had spoken, she relaxed and stayed where
she was, indolent and insolent, throbbing with laughter.

The Prutts bumped rigidly out.  Cass put Jinny gently on her feet--
fairly gently--and rushed after them to the hall, coughing, "We're
engaged, you know. . .  You know. . .  Engaged."

Mrs. Prutt said reverently, "But alone?  In your house?  At night?
Unchaperoned?  Strange, Judge."

"Very strange, I should think," said Mr. Prutt, and they were gone.

Mrs. Higbee was wailing, "They walked by me like I was dirt, while
I was trying to say, 'The master's in there kissing his girl.'
Just walked by me!"

"Nev' mind," hastened Cass, and galloped into the library, where
Jinny stood fist-clenched and angry.

"I knew it all the time!  I should never have come to your house!
I'll never be alone with you again.  Oh, I don't blame you,
especially, Cass, but I never shall again!"

"But if you're going to marry me--"

"I'll never marry you!  Don't ever speak of it again!"  She was in
a panic, reasonless but overwhelming.  Not for the first time had
Pruttery been too powerful for a child of light.

"Sit on my lap again for a moment and quiet down and then I'll
drive you home."

"No!  No!  I don't want you to.  I'll take a bus."

He had to use all the arts of the legal chambers to quiet her, to
say "Now stop it!" as though he knew professional mysteries that
she could never understand, before he coaxed her into his car.  All
the way to Miss Hatter's he was awaiting the verdict of death to
love.  On the boarding-house step she said, "I guess this is good-
bye forever.  I don't think I shall see you again."

"Jinny!"

"Really."

"I won't take that.  To say good-bye to you is to say good-bye to
life."

She was clear and a bit sardonic:  "You're the great legal star.
You'll get along all right.  You always have."

"If the legal star has to go on shining by John William Prutt's
permission, then I'll chuck starring and everything else except
being with you."

"You mean you'd give up being a judge for me, if you ever had to?"

"I certainly do."

"I wouldn't want you to.  Good night."

She was gone.

He knew that hers was not merely the perverse rudeness of a lover.
He had an excellent chance of losing her.  Blanche had been right;
he should never have let himself be baked into a pie of Pruttery
and Roy Drover's intolerance and the generous avidity of Chris and
the Avondenes.  The springtime days of companionship with Jinny
were past, and he was afraid that she would never again come to
bring April light into his dark old house.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives


GILLIAN BROWN--VIOLET CRENWAY


Gillian Brown was a business woman, a career woman, but she was
human, and she had decided that for such a premature phenomenon as
herself, there were but five matrimonial choices: to marry a man
who was her superior and who would either cheat her or leave her
flat, to marry an inferior whom she would pet and despise, to marry
an equal, which would happen only by a miracle comparable to Jonah
and his also undependable marine companion, to lie unwed and rigid,
or to have company.  She had tried all five.  The last seemed the
most reasonable now, in the 1940's, when she was assistant manager
of Harley Bozard's shop for women's clothes, on Chippewa Avenue,
Grand Republic.

With her men, some half-dozen of them, she was good-natured,
tolerant of drunks up to a point, but scientific about finding out
when that point had been reached.  She made coffee for them, and
she lent them an electric razor of the very best brand.

Gillian Brown, Mrs. St. George Brown, had been christened Mabel
Chiddy, in White River Junction, Vermont, in 1898.  She was the
composite portrait of half the American Career Women.  She wore
smart suits with lace-trimmed blouses, her hair looked young, and
so did her face, as far down as her mouth.  She broadcast a weekly
fashion report on Station KICH, and her voice was liquid chocolate,
lazy and lenient, except when a salesgirl had talked back to her,
or after she had had five drinks.  Then it was liquid brass.

She was ambitious, and her ambition was to make enough money to buy
a horsy country place near Chicago, next-door to a gentleman farmer
who would look like an English colonel and would fall in love with
her, permanently, not just on option.  Then she would become
"normal and domestic."

The store was open on Saturdays, except in August, and on Saturday
evenings she got drunk, but only introductorily, with The Girls,
business women of her own fate.  On Sunday mornings she lay and
sighed that she would never have her country estate or her Colonel.
On Sunday afternoons she got drunk in mixed company, and preferred
to sing "Dixie."  On Sunday night she brought a male--almost any
male, and chosen as often out of pity for his being starved as out
of her own simple passions--home to her orderly flat, which was
touchingly feminine in its china figurines of cats and lambs and
Columbines.

In her bathroom were forty-three kinds of cosmetics.  Many of them,
she knew from selling them, were useless, but she liked the
bottles.  But she was always careful to get them wholesale.

She was shrewd, and preferred to be honest, and with equal
reverence she read Catholic, Christian Science, and Unitarian
magazines, 1890 novels about the indignantly virtuous daughters of
widows, and treatises on playing the stock-market.

She admitted to having been married and divorced twice, and boasted
of having lived in New York for three years and Paris for three
weeks.  Actually, she had gone through the valley of matrimonial
humiliation three times, but the first had been to and from an
aging Vermont farmer, when she was Mabel Chiddy and only seventeen.

Her latest attempt to escape had been St. George Brown, a Brooklyn
dress-salesman, whom she was still supporting.  She had helped to
support all three of her husbands, and though they had varied from
small and tidy to lank and furrowed, they belonged to the same
pattern: they were all weak and fond of cards and liquor and they
all held their heads sidewise.

She despised two things in women: taking alimony, which she
regarded as a form of looting the conquered city, and the pretense
that you are going to satisfy a man without intending to go through
with it.

Therefore, though she associated with them, drank and snickered
with them, she detested two women in Grand Republic: Sabine
Grossenwahn, divorced niece of Boone Havock, whose Louisiana-
plantation-style bungalow was known as "Alimony Hall," and Violet
Crenway, Mrs. Thomas Crenway.

Violet was as luscious and perfumed as her name, fetching of eye
and uncommonly white of skin.  She was renowned for raising funds
for noble institutions: St. Anselm's Church, the Red Cross, the
Salvation Army, the Republican Women's League.  She went into men's
private offices, wearing white gloves and a gardenia, looking
around intently and panting a little, and the men sent their
stenographers away and pushed a chair out for Violet and stood
beside it.  She came out with the gloves, the gardenia, the funds,
and her virtue all intact, leaving the men surprised and
blasphemous.

She said that she did adore men, the dear funny things, but wasn't
it amazing, their masculine vanity and the way they thought that
every Girl who smiled at them expected to be kissed!  She boasted
that she could come nearer to being kissed without any casualties
than any woman since Delilah--though in the comparison she did not
mention Delilah but Joan of Arc.

Gillian Brown said that she was interested in being with Violet
Crenway because she was the most evil woman in town, and said that
among the men whom Violet teased was Mr. Thomas Crenway, and Mr.
Crenway did not like it.

Gillian had reason to know how Tom felt about such things



22


Two days after the army of the Prutts had landed and devastated the
coast, Judge Stephen Douglas Blackstaff came into Cass's chambers
after court.

"Cass, I have been listening to that banker fellow, Prutt, expiring
of sunburn from his blushes of modesty on the telephone.  He's a
fool, but he is a symptom.  A rustle of scandal is beginning to
follow you.  Son, you and I are both men of the world--from a
strictly Calvinistic point of view, of course--but we are also
lawyers, and we both know that there must never be any shadow of
scandal over the judicial office.  Do you care so much for this
girl that I've seen you with?  Would you rather resign than lose
her?"

"Yes, I would, Steve."

"Nonsense, son.  Absolute mongery.  Why the devil don't you marry
the girl?"

"Why don't I?"  Why DON'T I?  Because she's refused me.  Twice."

"My esteemed Rhoda refused me almost continuously, over a period of
two years.  She refused me on Rye Beach, she refused me in the
Brothers and Linonia Library of Yale College, and refused me once
during a communion service--somewhat abruptly, I thought.  But
still I triumphed--at least, that's the accepted theory.  Cass,
you're a good young man.  Don't risk your honor and the honor of
the State for a sentimental fancy!  People are sometimes evil, and
they are not going to believe that you could not marry this young
woman if you desired, and if nothing will make her wed you, there
have always been the soundest precedents for consigning her to the
devil."

Judge Blackstaff's long and rigid back completed his admonition,
and Cass sat wondering whether for Jinny, that lightly dancing
figure on a fan, he would really give up his judicial dignities.

Yes, he would, if he must do so to guard one higher dignity--plain
humanity.  He had no right more imperious than to be with his girl,
married or not, and for this he would certainly resign, at need.
He had reached this uncomfortable resolution when Jinny herself,
not knocking, came flying into his chambers; and before he had
planned what to say, he had sprung up, he had kissed her, and she
was sobbing:

"Cass!  I've lost my job!"

"Oh no!"

"I didn't think I ever could.  I was so proud--the girl cartoonist!"

"What--"

"Mr. Marl fired me.  For incompetence.  I wish it could have been
for drunkenness or bigamy.  I did so want to be independent, and I
thought I was such a whiz--everybody said they liked my cartoons,
and I thought they were all looking for them in the paper.  I was
so busy, and I was enjoying it, like a fool, and Mr. Marl called me
in and first he said Mrs. Marl and he wanted me to come to dinner,
all by myself--was I ever proud!  Then he asked me how come I
didn't have a cartoon ready for day-before-yesterday.  I hadn't
been able to get a good idea, and I'd ruined two drawings.  Then he
said he'd already hired a new hand from Minneapolis and he was so
sorry, so awful sorry, but I was through.  So now I'll go back to
the factory and eat dirt.  I was so proud and silly and now I'm all
washed up--"

She was weeping, against his shoulder.

As George Hame entered the chambers, Cass said to her, "Now you're
going to marry me."

"Am I?  Maybe."



Judge Blackstaff said, yes, it would be a little inconvenient to
have Judge Timberlane away from court during mid-term, even for a
honeymoon.  "But," said the senior judge, "it will be a noble
inconvenience."  He patted Cass's shoulder.  "Son, I am glad that
you thought my advice over and decided to take it.  I may no longer
be the sprightly beau I once was, but you see now that I understand
women."

"Oh, thoroughly, Stephen."

"By the way, my boy, take a Bible on your honeymoon.  You yourself
may not read it extensively, but it may implant some ideas in the
pliable mind of your bride.  I assure you that it is full of the
most admirable advice to females to be thrifty, industrious,
chaste, and SILENT.  One of the most useful books to husbands.  And
whenever I travel I find it much safer to take some pulverized
coffee."

The Jinny whom Cass had expected to want only an informal wedding,
with the mayor officiating and Eino and Tracy racketing around and
beer and melody afterward, demanded a formal affair, with all the
clergy, trains, white flowers, unreconstructed relatives, and
champagne available.  Cass was touched by the thought that she did
not intend to come into the heraldic haughtiness of Ottawa Heights
by the back door.  She was so small and alone, and the Prutts so
large and firm and multifarious.  All right.  His fairy princess
should come in with as large and brassy a band as he could muster.

But again he felt, "I can't go on carrying everything alone.  I
must have someone to help me."  He turned to his sister Rose and to
Mrs. Higbee.  He was not worried about the attitude of Cleo; he
felt that she would be for anything that brought gaiety and ribbon-
trailing and mouse-fetching cake into the somber house.

He sat gravely at the oilcloth-covered kitchen table, with Mrs.
Higbee seated across, and urged, "I hope you'll be happy with Miss
Jinny here."

"Judge, would you like me to quit, so I won't get in her way?"

"Good Lord, no!  She loves you, same as I do.  The question is
whether YOU'LL be happy."

"Very.  A lot of bosses never think of it, but a house is a
servant's HOME.  I couldn't imagine myself anywheres else, but
sometimes it has been lonely.  I'll be real pleased to have her
here, and that quick way she walks, almost runs, around the place.
I hope I ain't intruding if I say it's grieved my heart sometimes
to see you poking around so lonely.  I prayed about it in church."
She laughed.  "I hope the Lord consulted you to see if it was all
right, before He sent Miss Jinny in answer to my prayer!"

"Yes, He consulted me.  Thank you for Miss Jinny."

"Well, she was about the best I noticed around this town--of course
it isn't a very big place."

"That's so."



While Jinny was in as much of an orgy of dressmaking as any
Wargate, Cass nervously conferred with Rose about "redoing the
house."

"Leave it to Jinny," she said.

"And then there's a matter--I don't quite dare to ask her, Rose,
about--about rooms--"

Rose answered with the coarseness that only a truly good and wedded
woman can achieve.  "You mean, do you think she'll want the favors
of the same bed with you every night, or to have a room of her own.
Of her own, of course; same as any woman born since 1890.  If you
knew how Don gurgles all night long, and when he turns over, he
sits up straight and then moans in terror and shakes himself like a
wet dog and then he doesn't just lie down again--he makes a dive at
the pillow--a belly-flopper dive.  Give her the northeast bedroom,
Cassy; the one I had as a girl.  It's smaller than that funeral
parlor of yours, but it gets the sun."

"It's a go!" said His Honor, the learned judge.

He felt very clever and efficient.



His Honor, the learned judge, who had heard the details of maniac
sex-murders and been bland enough in discussing them with
psychiatrists, approached Jinny like a freshman:

"You know, just at first, we might--uh--we might not want any
children, and I believe there are precautions--uh--is there a woman
clerk in your father's drug store that would--uh--I hate to speak
of this but--"

"You poor dear lamb!  What do you suppose girls talk about
nowadays?"

"Do they really?  I didn't know."

"There, there, Mother's glad you've kept your innocence."



As a politician, Cass did possess the correct morning clothes, but
there was a crisis in the matter of the top hat, that symbol, that
grotesque crown made of rabbit's fur, that more than the coat of
arms or the broad A or even the dollar sign distinguishes a gent
from a fellow.  In Grand Republic, they rate with bustles, and
while Cass did own a top hat, he had last worn it at a Plattdeutsch
funeral, and it had long rested in the attic, a nest for mice.

He begged of Jinny, "You don't want me to wear a stovepipe hat,
like Abraham Lincoln?"

"Yes, I do!  I've never seen one, except in the movies!  Let's be
gaudy for once.  I don't expect to get married but just this one
time in all my life."

"Fine!"

He had the Piccadilly Cents' Ware Shop send for the hat.  When he
had put on the whole armor of a knight, the high silk helmet,
steely white shirt, linen gorget, dark-gray coat shaped like a
calla lily, and studied himself in the full-length mirror on the
back of his bathroom door, he was delighted.



His best man, Dr. Drover, along with Boone Havock, Bradd Criley,
Judge Flaaten, Frank Brightwing, and his other ushers had talked of
a bachelor dinner, but he had no mind to endure their heavy jokes.
The thought of Jinny was to him as frail and muted as a distant
flute in the autumnal dusk.

He spent his last evening before the wedding alone with Cleo in the
quarter-lighted library.

Was Jinny in love with him at all?  Did she love him enough to
endure his longing to give her everything that he was and had?  It
is more difficult to receive tolerantly than to give gladly.  Of
Jinny's mother and grandmother the question would never have been
asked, but did Jinny, or any girl of her era, really attach herself
to her husband and his fortunes, sick or in health, richer or
poorer, avid for bright noise or content with the quiet mind?

He was apprehensive.

Cleo, who had been asleep upon his knee beside the dead fire, came
suddenly awake, twitching and terrified, and leaped from him.  He
could hear her protests as she roamed the dark house, up and down,
searching for something he did not understand.  He sat uneasy, and
when the telephone assaulted his ears, he gasped.

It was Jinny.  "How are you darling?  Are you scared, like me?"

"Bless you for calling.  Scared stiff."

"Well, and very right, too, Cass.  Both of us ought to be; both of
us these disgusting Sensitive Souls, looking for a chance to be
hurt and likely to get sore when we DON'T get hurt, because that
shows nobody cares enough about us to hurt us.  But what are you
sitting in the dark for?"

"How did you know I--"

"Because I am, too!  Good night.  Oh, Cass, we're going to have a
lot of fun being married.  I'll really learn chess, even.  I've
ordered a chess costume: plaid, with rabbit-lined boots.  Good
night, my dear!"

He was convinced that this spirit of fire and mist might some day
love him like a breathing woman.  But through the house Cleo was
still searching, still whimpering reproachfully.



Jinny was not so avid of grandeur as to want the reception that
Rose Pennloss longed to give for them.  She agreed with Cass that
it would be wise to take the train directly after the ceremony.
But that ceremony itself was ducal.

Not since the wedding of Della Lent, and her a Wargate, had there
been a richer gathering of all that was noble, virtuous, and of
five-figure income than at the union of Miss Marshland and Judge
Timberlane; and the Rev. Dr. Gadd wore a new Geneva gown and had a
Lutheran pastor and an Episcopal priest--pretty young, but of the
very highest church--for collaborators in the conjuring whereby the
little wild hawk was turned into a Grand Republic matron.

There were even Prutts present.  It was more fun to attend and look
doubtful than to stay away.

Through the forest of mink and broadtail, Cass saw Jinny coming
down the aisle with her father.  He noted, as casually as though he
were studying a jury, that Mr. Marshland seemed timid and shrunken
and shabby, against all the sleek furriness, and that Jinny, in
cloudy white, was of the precise loveliness and inviolability of a
goddess.

--God keep her shining and confident as she is now.

Then Jinny was his wife, and she was looking at him trustingly, and
there was trust and adoration in his first marital whisper to her,
"Let's try to sneak out the back door; we got just an hour and a
quarter before the train goes" and in her enchanted answer, "Okay,
darling--my husband!"



23


They met again at the station, in rather-too-new traveling
costumes.  During the maverick reception on the platform, with
champagne served in paper cups, it was not Roy, the best man, but
Bradd Criley who was the clown.  He yelled, he slapped backs, he
kissed Jinny, Lyra Coggs, Chris Grau, and Jinny's astonished
mother.  The train was going then, and Cass was muttering to Jinny,
"It's good to get away from our loving friends."

In their Pullman seats, she boldly held his hand, not caring who
looked, and said with a strange little fierceness, "We've started,
and I'm incredibly excited and cheerful, and Heaven knows where it
will end--maybe China and temple bells."

But she had never been farther East or South than Central
Wisconsin, and when they had left St. Paul for Chicago, the bold
and Chinaward girl became less confident and Cass was promoted from
home-town neighbor to expert traveler, who knew all about altitudes
and populations and how to treat dining-car waiters, and she looked
at him with 1880 bridal reverence, and asked him about the scenery
as though he were a geologist.

There was food for awe:  The palisades along the Mississippi, dark
giant rock and swooping slopes of snow.  The ravines of Wisconsin,
leading to wintry valleys.  The North Shore suburbs of Chicago,
where at stations influenced by the Alhambra the wives of
significant insurance-brokers looked haughtily out from station
wagons.  Lake Michigan, a relentless ocean.  The portentous jungle
of Chicago factories and warehouses and slums, the smutted steel
insanity of the Loop, and the leather and crystal Pump Room, where
she listened admiringly while Cass, who knew nothing whatever about
the subject, held a symposium on sauternes with the wine-waiter.

The Liveoak Special, leaving for Florida at one A.M., was a supple
serpent of a train, all in crimson-barred silver, with no
vestibules breaking its smoothness.  The fourth-fastest train on
the continent, it had a library car, a bar-room car, a car for
dancing, four bathrooms, two stenographers, and a Social Hostess
who had once been married to a Russian prince who had once been
married to a Hollywood female star who had once been married to
practically anybody.

Jinny looked at these conveniences as one of her peasant ancestors
might have looked at Kenilworth Castle.  It was her Cass who had
given her this train.  There was a husband for you!

She did not know that he was in the agony of accommodations-
trouble.

Like many young people of the day, Jinny was familiar with
automobiles but less familiar with trains than her own grandmother
had been.  She had motored with her parents twelve hundred miles
out to Yellowstone Park, confidently driving four hundred miles a
day, but she had never spent a night on a sleeping-car and she knew
no more about the subtle categories of berths, sections, roomettes,
bedrooms, compartments, and drawing-rooms than she did about the
etiquette of wedding-nights, so delicately connected with them.

In the Florida rush which was now taking the place of trips to war-
barred Europe, the Liveoak Special's private rooms had all been
engaged a fortnight before Cass applied.  He unscrupulously tried
to use the influence of the court, the mayor, the local political
bosses, and the department-store owner, but the best he had been
able to do was two lower berths across from each other.

They rustled through the Pullman, already stuffy with sleep and
green curtains, and Jinny had no surprise when he showed her the
two separate cloth-smothered caves.  She only said, inevitably,
"Do I have to sit on my clothes while I'm taking them off?  Mercy!
Good night, dearest; wonderful day, wonderful journey.  I LIKE
being Mrs. Timberlane!"

And vanished between the curtains.

He sat on his berth, smolderingly took his shoes off, and
thoughtfully rubbed his toes.  He was in his pajamas (very refined
mellilunar ones, a dark-blue silk with a fine silver stripe) and
under the close-tucked bedclothes before he decided that he had to
do better than this.  He would kiss her good night, anyway.  They
were married, weren't they?  He had some rights, didn't he?

The solid Sioux nose of Judge Timberlane jutted cautiously out into
the aisle, and turned right and left and hung there, rigid, as the
eyes immediately above it perceived that George the Porter was
standing inflexibly in the curving niche of Drawing Room A, on
watch.

The nose was jerked inside and its proprietor felt guilty, but also
credulous that, through the sound of the moving train, he had heard
a delicious flutter of disrobing in the berth across the aisle--so
near, so perilous.

Three times the nose came solemnly pushing out.  Once it shot back
at the approach of the conductor, once at the return of the
persistent and unromantic George, but the third time it shot
across, and Cass was shaking her curtain, moaning, "Unbutton this--
open it up--quick!"

He was safe inside then, but flustered.

She was in pajamas, pale-yellow silk, well curving, and she was
sitting up, staring at him.  He expected a protest at his wild
invasion, but what she said was, "Aren't those the nicest little
lights!  You can lie awake and read by 'em!"

"Jinny!  Kiss me--and in the greatest hurry!"

"Why?"

"If the conductor finds me here--He doesn't know we're married.
I should hate a public argument!  Kiss me!"

She did, leaning forward.  She was in his arms, only the two thin
layers of silk between them; and shakily, not at all masterfully,
he undid the top button of her tunic and softly kissed her breast.
Then she drew back, as far as the thick pillows would let her, and
whispered, "It frightens me--you dash in here so quickly--I do love
you, but now I'm kind of frightened and so alone--this huge train
rushing us along in the darkness; you couldn't escape from it, if
you wanted to--Be gentle with me, Cass; I'm such a spoiled baby."

"Yes, I'll always be gentle, I hope.  I love you very much.  And
now good night, dear wife. . . .  And don't you sit up and read,
either!"

He had shot back into his own berth through green denim space,
unconscious of transition or of spying conductors, and he lay awake
alternately exultant with memory of how satin-like her breast had
been and worrying lest she prove too anemic for ardent love.  He
had heard that these pencil-wise, half-intellectual girls were
often so.

His berth-light was on, and in it he gapingly saw a smooth hand
slip between the curtains and begin to unbutton them, and then,
grotesquely, there was Jinny cheerfully returning his visit.  But
with a woman's sense and realism and magnificent vulgarity, she was
not playing at furtive lover, as he had.  She drew wide the
curtains and left them open, and in her pajamas, with the vaguest
of negligees merely setting them off, she sat cross-legged on his
bed.  And she was smoking a cigarette.

"Golly!" said the learned Judge.

Her bent knees were extraordinarily round and suave, he noted, and
where was that porter, and would he have to have a row?

"It did seem so unfriendly not to return your call," she said, and
her expression was like that of Cleo in one of her better moods.
"And I wanted to tell you something--I've always wanted to, but I
was too embarrassed--but you must have wondered, I don't see how
you could have helped it--of course you were too much of a
gentleman to ever ask--"

The porter's voice, not so much shocked as official, came from just
beyond Jinny's shoulder.

"Sorry, Miss, but we don't allow any smoking in the berths."

Cass could see the edge of Jinny's affable smile as she turned.
"Oh, I am sorry.  Porter, will you please take this cigarette and
finish it up for me?  It's an awfully good one--a wedding present--
today!"

The dazed Cass saw the dazed porter carry the cigarette away, at
arm's length, while Jinny turned back with:

"Of course you would never even hint at it, but I do imagine you'd
like to know, so now I can tell you--and I'm darned if I know
whether this is a boast or a confession--but if it interests you,
I'm still a virgin."

Suddenly he grew up a little, and he was placid in saying, "Yes, it
does interest me, and I'm glad, though I don't think I'd 've been
ugly if it had been the opposite.  And I love you madly and you go
back to bed or I'll spank hell out of you."

"Right here in public?  In my pajamas?  I dare you to!" she said,
and kissed him and was gone.

Infinite pity encompassed him that she should have to grow older
and more frail, helpless before covetous men and corroding illness,
before poverty and storms that would come halfway round the world
to threaten her proud head.



In the morning they had left the snow and were running through
level farmlands with a sparkle of frost on gray grass and gray
snake-fences.  He did not know whether they were in Illinois or
Indiana or Kentucky, so for her information he picked the last, as
most distant from the center of the world--Grand Republic.  She
stared out and said joyfully, "Look what you've started!  This is
my first foreign country.  How near are we to China now?"

He had explained that, in preference to the gaudiness of Palm Beach
and Miami, he had chosen a plain West Coast Florida resort, for
privacy, for adventurous fishing, for bathing and shell-hunting on
great lonely beaches.  He had never seen the place, but Harley
Bozard said the food was excellent and the fishing superb.  She'd
certainly enjoy catching a tarpon.

Oh, yes.  She'd always wanted to catch a--a what?  Oh, much better
than dancing with a lot of handsome tennis players.  Yes, she had
brought old clothes with her, as he had directed; she'd wear them--
when she wore anything at all.

He did not add, not even to himself--not really--that the place
would also be much cheaper.

Thus she was not completely disappointed when, on the morning of
December fifth, they came to Baggs City, Charlotte County, Florida,
and to the trim, clean, white, and completely dolorous Bryn-
Thistle-on-the-Bay Inn.  The small lobby was full of old ladies who
listened and of geraniums which stared, and their bedroom, just
large enough for a double bed and a bureau and two chairs, was
adorned with a hand-lettered version of the poem about the man who
wanted to live by the side of the road, a pink chamber-pot with
forget-me-nots, and a three-color job of a cupid piloting a bomber.

"In here, I wouldn't even let you kiss me," protested Jinny.

"Well, there's a lot of outdoors down here."

They walked through the Inn grounds, which were as suburban as
Glendale, but it was magical, two days from the wintry street-
hurrying of Grand Republic, to stroll in this rich and scented air.
Jinny eyed the crepe myrtle, the roses, the obese wonder of a grape
fruit growing, and looked at the Cass who had worked this magic for
her.

"My Merlin!" she said.



All afternoon, in a slow, good-natured launch, they fished in a
deep salt-water inlet bordered by the shade and jungle brightness
of a swamp; they stared at the palms, which meant India and the
Congo to these inlanders from the wheat prairies and the pine
woods; they relaxed and, cheerful as honeymooners rarely are, they
came back to the Inn for supper.  But the horrible daintiness of
the place enfeebled them at once.  It was like being choked with
pink bedjackets.

All the widows watched them as they ate a meal consisting of fish
and finger-bowls; they had too many invitations to play bridge and
too little competition when they did play; three several females
flickered about "the little bride"; and when they went up to bed,
making it as late as was physically possible after an afternoon
spent on the water, the air was so thick with lascivious female
glances that they could have climbed it instead of the stairs.

They shut the door against a world of intrusive friendliness.  They
faced each other, and he understood her shyness and tried to speak
as he thought her Gang at Miss Hatter's would speak:

"Well, baby, this is it.  I guess we're up against it.  But let me
explain that I'm not just violently in love with you.  I'm also
extremely fond of you."

She was shivering, but she tried to be merry.

"They all make so much of this accidental virtue of virginity that
you get scared about it, and the wedding-night--I suppose this is
our real wedding-night--is a combination of getting drunk and
winning a million-dollar lottery and waiting to be hanged.  Animals
are a lot wiser."  Then, more sharply, "I hate being an amateur, in
ANYTHING!"

In a practical way, she had begun to undo her belt, and when he had
tremblingly drawn off his jacket, she stood, looking admirably
casual, in brassiere and absurd small pants.  He could not help
kissing her shoulder, which tasted faintly of sun and sea.  When
she had put on a pathetically gay little rose-colored nightgown
that must have come from Pioneer Falls and had mutely slid into bed
beside him, he held her quietly, hoping that she would feel secure.

He was conscious of the creeping and thunderous silences of the
Inn: hesitant slippered footsteps past the door, whispering in the
adjoining rooms, a feeling that an inquisitive world was looking at
them through the wallboard partitions.  He was tense with
listening, and Jinny, in his arms, was as impersonal to him as a
pillow, and apprehensively he realized that he could no more make
ardent love to her now than to that pillow.

Was he going to be a failure as lover with this one girl whom he
had loved utterly?

She muttered, with almost prayerful earnestness, "Was the bathroom
the third door on the right or the second?  I'd hate to go
rocketing in on some old maid!"

He laughed then, and lost his apprehensiveness.  But as he kissed
her it was she who had become fearful and unyielding, and in pity
for her his ardor sank to a gentle stroking of her cheek.

When she seemed to have relaxed a little, to be expectant, his
intensity had so worn him that he could only hold her softly, while
fear crept through him again, and he stammered, "I've heard of such
things but I never expected--I find I'm so fond of you, and maybe
scared of you, that just now I can't even make love to you."

She answered as sweetly and briskly as though they were discussing
a picnic-basket.

"Yes, I've heard of it.  Temporary--not matter a bit.  Oh, you'd be
surprised at all the things Lyra and Wilma and I used to talk
about.  Don't worry.  I love just lying with my cheek on your
shoulder--now that I've found a comparatively regular valley among
the jagged peaks of your shoulder-blades.  Dear darling!"

They were almost instantly asleep and Cass came to life at dawn to
sit up and see, on her own side of the bed, curled like a cat and
rosily sleeping, his adored and inviolate bride.



24


They fished again in the salt inlet, next day; they delightedly
though erroneously believed that they saw a barracuda, a
threatening moccasin; they felt valiant as only tourists can.  They
hired a Drive-Yourself car, put in bathing-suits and a bottle of
cognac for emergencies, and cruised slowly down sandy roads among
the yuccas.

In late afternoon they came to an inlet with a great wash of wet
sand and a cluster of whitewashed shacks: over-night cabins and a
restaurant for impecunious tourists--the eternal gipsy encampment,
the wooden-tented caravan.

"Look!  We can get away from the painted bridge-pads here!  Here's
the place for thwarted hoboes!" said Cass.  And Jinny noted that on
their journey to China, they had come as far as Tahiti.

The restaurant walls were of upright bamboo, with palm thatch; the
interior was cool and dim, with cement floor and loose-looking
tables and black-and-white reed chairs.  The pine bar was for
drinking, not for the display of glassware.  The bartender was a
Minorcan, with a trim thread of mustache, the waitress was Mexican,
and in the shadowed background, letting his planless harmonies drip
from a guitar, was an old man in overalls, barefoot and masked with
whiskers.

The troubadour waved his straw hat and the bartender greeted them,
"H' are you, folks."  They had two Daiquiris, cool and silken, and
dined on fresh red snapper and a Cuban cocoa-nut ice cream.

Before dinner they had inspected the bare pine cottages, each with
only a double bed, a chair, and a water-tap, yet far larger than
the Inn cubicles, and voluptuously furnished altogether, for
outside each door was the curving sand and the rolling Gulf of
Mexico.

"I wish we were staying here, instead of at that knitting-works,"
sighed Jinny.

The bar-restaurant half filled, after dinner, with Italian
fishermen, Mexican truck-farmers, and such tourists as wandered by
flivver and trailer, not to improve their minds or tans or social
standing, but just to wander.  Cass bought drinks for half a dozen
new lifelong friends.  Everybody beamed at him and Jinny, not
titteringly, as at the Inn, but with an earthy love of lovers, and
the troubadour played "La Paloma" at them.

"Let's stay here tonight, in one of the cabins," Cass blurted,
astonished at himself.

"With no baggage?"

"We have ourselves."

"Okay."

When Cass paid for a cabin in advance, the bartender took it for
granted that they were not married, and was delighted by the whole
general idea.  So were the eloping Cass and Jinny as, with no bags
to unpack, they took possession of their first real home together.

There were no occupied shacks near them, no whispering lady guests,
but only the sliding sea.  They lay with the door half open to the
night, and suddenly he was ruthless with love and she as fierce as
he, nipping his ear with angry little teeth, and they fell asleep
in the surprise of love.

At dawn, Cass woke her and they ran down the beach and bathed,
unclad and laughing, and came back to new abandonment.

Jinny marveled, "We both seem to be great successes.  It was a
terrible shock at first, but now I do cleave to you and we are one
flesh."

"Forever?"

"Forever and ever, beloved!"

Sleeping and waking, waking and sleeping, their open door embracing
the wash of the fertile tide, amazed by the curiousness of arms and
legs and breasts, redeemed from civilization they lay about the
tousled bed till noon, and dressed and ate fried corn-mush for
breakfast, to the commendatory smiling of the waitress.  They
wanted to be dignified, as suited their unique position in the
history of lovers, but they also wanted to guffaw when Jinny said,
"Think of what the old ladies at the Bryn-Thistle must be saying--
the painted old hussies!"

They were one flesh, truly, and ecstatic with life.

"'Husband,'" she mused.  "I used to think that word sounded funny,
but now it seems such a sturdy old word.  It takes me back, clear
through Walter Scott to King Arthur, back to the Anglo-Saxons and
the old woods of Wessex, and I feel as if you and I were in a bark
hut, worshiping the old gods.  My Druid!  My husband!"

"My wife!  Yes, there are words that even the radio can't spoil."

"Golly!  Were the Druids Anglo-Saxon or Celtic or what?"

"I honestly don't know," he said, in a blissfully shared community
of ignorance.



There were no other guests at the tourist camp on this shining
Sunday, and during the night Cass and Jinny had had no considerable
sleep.  Happily frowzy in the shade before their frowzy shack,
lying on the long beach-grass with the sea-wind sweet about them,
they slept through the afternoon.

They might not have gone back to the Bryn-Thistle at all that
night--the night of December 7, 1941--but they were not yet so
saved from Pruttery that they could stay on without clean clothes.

They would come down here again, in a couple of days.  Certainly.

With her arm injudiciously linked in his as he drove, they returned
to the Bryn-Thistle at dusk, and from the porch a woman joyful at
finding victims who had not heard the news screamed at them, in
delighted horror, "Been away?  Then you don't know.  We're in the
war!  Japan attacked our ships at Pearl Harbor today!"

They said nothing till they were in their room.  Then, staring at
him as though she had found him treacherous, Jinny said sharply,
"Oh, curse the luck!  Why couldn't I have known a few weeks ago?
This time, they'll take women in the army.  I could have seen
Hawaii--France--Russia!  And all the boys will be going--Eino and
Tracy and Abbott Hubbs and everybody!  And I'll be left home with
the old women!"

"And with me, my dear."

"Yes," sardonically, "with you!"

Her tantrum--that was what they had come to call any of her not-
too-frequent wild moods--was agallop.  She moaned, "I hear they'll
make women captains and majors and everything now--in uniform and
be saluted--and station 'em with the flyers--young and brave and
good-looking!"

--I don't blame her for being disappointed--greatest chance for
adventure women 've ever seen.  But--It certainly does hurt to have
her talk as though I were senile.  Be careful now--be gentle.

"Jinny, I'm sure you can still get into the war, even if you are
married."

"Oh, no.  You'll complain about being left alone in your gloomy ole
Bergheim."

"We can do war-work--maybe together."

"Aaaah!  Rolling bandages with Mrs. Prutt, and you being obsequious
to that old camel!"

"Jinny!  Quit it!  If you want to go off to war, you shall.  But
I'm not going to let you forget last night."

She fled to him and kissed him.  "Forgive me for carrying on so.  I
just meant--You ARE a darling, and I do love you so; I even love
you passionately, now, as I never could any other man living."

"More than the jittery Mr. Hubbs, even if he's in uniform?"

"Oh, now YOU'RE being nasty.  Much better than Mr. Jitters.  Even
more than my cute Eino.  But you must admit that you're not as awe-
inspiring as a whole army marching together."

"I certainly do.  Jinny, shall I try to get into the Army, into
uniform--maybe the Judge Advocate's department?"

"No, I imagine they'll tell you that you can do more good right
where you are.  And maybe me too, where I am.  Yes--maybe."

--Now shut up, Cass.  She'll get over her disappointment if you
just keep still.

He did keep still, but he felt useless, he felt that she did not
vastly appreciate his labors as a jurist and a defender of
Democracy.  He felt, in fact, sulky, and doubtless his sulkiness
was visible to her.  When he said, with what he considered
admirable good nature, "How about our going fishing again tomorrow--
haven't tackled that tarpon yet," and she echoed, "FISHING!" he
yelped, "All right then, we won't!  Of course we do only what YOU
want to, my dear Jinny!"

"And just what is there to do, in this dump?"

That was all of their quarrel.

They did go fishing next day, on a placid-colored inlet, and they
were so fond of each other that they almost forgot the war, and
everybody forgave everybody everything.  But it HAD been a quarrel,
and if possibly she had started it, he had been the guiltier in
carrying it on.  They had had differences before, but this had been
their first quarrel, their first drink, their first murder, and so,
inevitably, it was the beginning of a series of quarrels
interspersed with frantic peace-proposals, while the little crystal
Isis listened bleakly.



Their second quarrel rose from one of her "tantrums,"
comprehensible but unexpected.  In the midst of a poor little dance
that the Bryn-Thistle was trying to give, with aged gentlewomen
tottering around the dining-room dancing together, Jinny demanded,
"Have we got to go on staying in this hencoop when people are
having such a gorgeous time at Palm Beach?  Aren't we good enough
to go there?"

"My dear child, we'll go over there any time you want to.  We'll go
tomorrow.  We'll hire a car and a driver."

That was all, and after another dance, she apologized:  "I'm sorry
I flared up so.  I'm sure the dear old things here mean well, but
they get on my nerves."

"We'll go up and start packing now."

"You're wonderful, and I'm sorry I was noisy and spiteful--and come
on, let's get going!  Palm Beach, here I come!"

--Do people who love each other always bicker and scratch and hurt?
Must they?



They both felt guilty when all the guests at the Bryn-Thistle came
out on the porch to cry, "It's been so nice to meet you both.  We
just loved knowing you, Judge, and your dear little bride."

It was a hundred miles across the Everglades to Palm Beach, and
they sang all the way, hand in hand, behind their sedate colored
driver.  She was radiant then, a joyous peasant with a red kerchief
round her dark hair, and when they came into the American Cannes,
where all the people are beautiful, the houses all carven of gold,
and the ocean water especially imported from the Riviera daily, by
airplane, she was impressed to a blissful awe.

The season was early; they were able to get a suite at the Royal
Crown: two rooms filled with white-fur rugs and glass tables and
chairs so modern that you sat in them as in a bucket; and Jinny
squealed continuously in the high religious passion of absolute
luxury, and he ordered up a bottle of Johannisberger Cabinet, in
the slow drinking of which they enjoyed everything but the taste.

He telephoned to Berthold Eisenherz, now head of the very richest
family in Grand Republic, who came down to his villa at Palm Beach
every winter.  Eisenherz was cordial, which exiled Grand
Republicans are not always to their fellow refugees, and urged them
to come over to the villa for dinner and dancing, that evening.

So for five hours the Timberlanes lived in a Hollywood motion
picture: a marble terrace on the starry ocean, a Cuban orchestra,
champagne from a portable silver-striped bar, roses on a December
night, and young Navy officers who danced with Jinny.  The war
seemed only fictional.  She exulted, "Cass, this is the night I've
lived for--this and our night at the gipsy camp.  I'm intolerably
happy!  I'm sorry if I was ever cross.  Because I love you!"

"More even than that lieutenant s.g.?"

"More even than that lieutenant j.g.!"

"Champagne, madame?" said the footman, who was a deacon in the
Swedish Baptist Church, back home in Minneapolis.

Jinny's husband was so relaxed that for the five enchanted hours he
actually let her enjoy what he had so anxiously wanted to have her
enjoy.  And through the net of Jinny's black evening bag Isis
peered out with a benignity that knew not good or evil.



The Honorable Mr. Hudbury, United States Senator Hudbury, should
have been in Washington, lighting the war, but as he was a very
thick, round, stupid man, it may have been as well that he was
taking a week off from statesmanship to repose his limbs, which
looked like four fingers of an enormous pale-white glove, as
they were displayed upon the sands of Palm Beach.  As an ex-
representative, Cass recognized the Senator even in the improbable
disguise of a bloated violet bathing-suit, with a belt patriotically
symbolizing the American flag encircling the globe. Mr. Hudbury's
belly being the globe.

Now Cass did not care for Mr. Hudbury, not as a pal.  Mr. Hudbury
started every sentence with "In my opinion," and he spent week-ends
with lobbyists.  Cass would not have collected Honorable Mr.
Hudbury, or any other accidental celebrity, except to give him to
Jinny, but since he had not given her any presents now since ten
o'clock this morning--the present then had been a coral necklace
which looked like the devil on her--he now picked up the Senator's
halo and handed it to her.

Fortunately Hudbury remembered him, and fortunately he did not
remember that he had hated Congressman Timberlane after a party
caucus at which the fellow had suggested that even Republicans
ought to know that there was a new invention called labor unions.

They were a musical-comedy group upon these tropic sands: the
Senator tubby and half naked, the Judge stalwart and three-quarters
naked, and Jinny, like all the other respectable women at that time
and place, almost entirely naked, charmingly naked, with white
midriff turning coffee-color.  With difficulty could you have found
three people more nude or more piously against "this crank theory
of Nudism."

"Senator, I don't know whether you'll recall me--Cass Timberlane,
formerly in Congress from Minnesota."

"Why, yes, yes, my boy, how could I forget a wheelhorse who has
rendered such sterling services to the Party!  Sure.  You had that
house on H Street, and the cocktails made with Swedish aquavit.
Perfectly."

"This is my wife."

"Oh, yes, and of course I remember you, too, and the name--ah, ah
now, wait, don't tell me--BLANCHE!"  The Senator looked confused,
but he was used to it.  For years and years he had been confused
over something or other, and he would continue to be confused until
someone in his State discovered that he was their Senator, and had
him defeated.

Jinny looked irritated, then winked at Cass, yet she viewed Hudbury
not without respect.  After all, a United States Senator is a
United States Senator, even when he is a hoot-owl.  (She still held
that innocent theory.  She had never lived in Washington.)

The Senator went on making sounds like an empty barrel.  "How could
I forget anything so charming as your lady, Cass?  Ravished to see
you again, Blanche."

"Oh, don't be ravished, Senator."

"Yes, yes, I will!  I can't help it.  Now, folks, I'm about to
assume the normal habiliments of a gentleman, and what-say you join
me for a cocktail on the terrace of the Choiseul in half an hour?"

Cass looked to Jinny for permission, and said, "Fine."

The truth is that over the cocktails, and how many of them there
were, Jinny was proud of being intimate with this aged poop, and if
he did reveal himself by saying that "American Business stands
wholeheartedly back of the war effort, ready to pledge every dollar
to encourage Our Boys," yet he also revealed the senatorial magic
by having somehow discovered, while he was dressing, that Blanche's
name was now Virginia.  It is probable that while he was under the
shower he had been speaking to the Federal Bureau of Inquiry by
vest-pocket radio.

Calling her "Jinny," pouring his black-molasses charm all over her,
he first told her that as a boy he had sold newspapers.  That was
for him an obligatory introduction to anything he had to say,
whether in the Senate, a grocery store, or a parlor house.  Then he
took them right into the heart of world affairs by confiding that
on the very day after Pearl Harbor, he had been summoned to the
White House for a small conference of the leaders of both parties.
(That the President had noticed that Senator Hudbury was there or,
if so, that he had said anything to him beyond "Got a cigarette?"
Cass and Jinny never could find out.)

After cocktails the Senator took them on to the roulette club
where, but under strictly honest, home-made American conditions,
none of your foreign shenanigans, Jinny lost forty dollars.

Here, they were in a spotlight of international chic.  The
Senator's secretary, a pale young man with constant reservations,
who was the Senator's eyes and his ideology, had come with them,
and he pointed out, at the gaming tables, the third-greatest radio
crooner in America, the fourth-greatest New York banker, the fifth-
most-beautiful woman from Alabama, a colonel who was going to be a
major general, a major general who was going to be a retired major
general, and a gentleman, with a beard, who had been a German
manufacturer but was now an exiled French patriot.

Through all of this global low-down, Cass was as grateful as little
Jinny, and said as they parted--he did not sound like Judge
Timberlane of the Twenty-Second Judicial District--"It was
extremely kind of you, Senator, to give us such a good time.
I appreciate it."

At dinner, the two of them at their hotel, Jinny pounced:

"Have a good time, Cass?"

"Splendid.  How did you like the Senator?"

"He's a fool."

"Yes, he does rather bear that reputation.  But he's always been
clever at picking useful brothers-in-law."

"Why were you so excited by having the old pot condescend to you?"

"M?"

"He doesn't even know anything about politics, only about
politicians.  He doesn't know half as much as Tracy Oleson or Mr.
Hubbs."  Then, clearly as an afterthought, "Or as you.  Why did you
ever drag in the old idiot?"

"Because I thought he would amuse you."

"Dullness doesn't amuse me."

"I picked him out for you the way I did your coral necklace.  I
wouldn't want to rub my face against the coral, either.  Don't be
so youthfully censorious.  If you don't care to have Hudbury for
your collection, if you don't want me to shoot him and stuff him
for you, we'll throw him out. . . .  Jinny! . . .  Sweet!"

"I know, darling!  I AM censorious.  AND young.  And I do try to
show off my superiority.  I'm sorry.  Some day, I'll grow up."

And of that quarrel there was nothing more.  But Cass was thinking
nervously that for years yet she would be impulsive, hasty to judge
him, aggressively independent, like the other children of her
Positively Final New Modern Revolutionary Age which by 1970 would
have come to seem such a naive Old-fashioned Age.

--Like all these girls, she feels--and how can you blame her--that
she must have her own life.  Besides that, I'm no longer the family
priest to her or a guide or a refuge; I'm just A Husband.  And I
don't even care much, so long as she'll let me go on being THAT!



There was nothing in the Specimen Hudbury that Jinny had not been
able to identify from her Pioneer Falls collecting.  In fact he
looked like the local pre-motor livery-stable keeper who was still
sitting in front of his empty barn, still covered with hay-dust,
waiting for this automobile craze to pass.

But she was impressed and a little confused when they went to lunch
at Berthold Eisenherz's villa, and so was Cass.  At the villa dance
they had met Berthold only as a sort of private head-waiter.  Now,
they collided with him as a personality.

The only thing about him to hint that he was not a gentleman was
that he too consistently looked too much like a gentleman.  He had
devoted the voluminous money that his grandfather had made, as a
Minnesota pioneer, by skinning beaver and redskins, to Harvard and
Heidelberg and the Sorbonne and a black-eyed, red-tempered Latvian
girl who spoke all languages, in and out of bed, and so had
qualified himself for the American diplomatic corps, in which,
before he got tired, he had risen to first secretary in a minor
legation.

He looked like a German who was trying to look like an Englishman.
He had been married, now and then, to the daughters of German-
American millionaires, who played pianos and barons.  At fifty, he
was bald and not officially married; he was bald and erect and
soft-spoken.  In Palm Beach he wore the monocle that even he did
not dare to display back home in Grand Republic, where Swedish and
Finnish urchins and Roy Drover and Boone Havock would have made
exactly the same rather Freudian comments upon it.

He had the Timberlanes for one of his better Grade-B luncheons,
with one actress, one lady pianist, one viscountess, a Swiss
violinist, and an economist from New Zealand.  At the flower-
strewn, yellow-damask covered table, on the terrace looking to the
Southern sea, the Timberlanes listened while the viscountess tried
to talk faster than the pianist.

Berthold himself talked only to Jinny, asking her questions in a
manner that made her feel solid and original.  Afterward, Jinny
confided to Cass, "That was fun.  The visvy-whateveritis-countess
was silly, but I think your friend Berthold is wonderful.  I always
heard so much about him in Grand Republic, but I never saw him
before.  Will we see him when he goes back in the spring?"

"I guess so.  If we want to."

"Isn't he hard to know?"

"'Hard to know'?  Why should he be?  Just because he's rich?  Back
home, we're not as naive as Palm Beach.  We know where his money
came from!"

"No, I don't mean 'because he's rich'!  Because he's wise and
charming, and he treats a colt like me as though I were a--you
know--a countess, too.  And the way he can speak French!  And knows
all about Bessarabia!  And kiss the hand!  My hand's still tingling
from it.  Oh, boy!"

"If you're going out for international society, along with
Excellency Bertie, you can't mix your dialects, and say 'Oh, boy'!"

"Okay.  But don't you like Bertie?"

"Would you be surprised if I said he's even phonier than Senator
Hudbury?"

"I certainly would.  And I would be fairly sure--fairly sure that
you were going jealous on me again."

He gaped.  It was true; he was jealous; jealous of Eisenherz, not
because he owned a palace but because with it he had been able to
impress Jinny; not that he knew the Deauville patter but that he
could make Jinny admire it.

He was quick about getting the proper forgiveness, so THAT could
not be called a quarrel.



There came a hot and humid evening, and Aucassin and Nicolette
acted like Auggie and Nig.  For two days they had been idle, soaked
in sun, confidently making love, and that sensible uselessness had
been too much for two people so perpetually active.

They drove over to West Palm Beach to see a super and maddening
movie, and they were unhappy and nervous.  He tried to hold her
hand, and she drew hers away.  She said it was too damp.

He watched her anxiously, and so she watched him protestingly, and
when they had worked up a fine, thick, hateful tension, he wanted
to cough.

He felt that she was just waiting for him to do something
objectionable like that, cough and whoop and spatter in a public
place--and so he couldn't do it, and so he wanted all the more to
cough, until the entire subsolar world was one horror of suppressed
coughing, and he let go in one gargantuan throaty bellow, and,
beside him, she gave off electric sparks of rage.  Then, in
ostentatious indifference, he crossed his legs, and his garter came
loose, and he had to make a public presentation of stooping down to
fasten it.

He insisted on a sundae after the movie and naturally, being
normally a tidy man, he now dropped chocolate sauce on his white
shirt.

"Disgusting!" she muttered.

She sadistically scrubbed it into a worse mess with her
handkerchief, and they drove back to the hotel in a great hot
silence.  So when he was brushing his teeth, he dropped a white
spot of toothpaste on his slipper, and she saw it, oh, she saw it,
and she said:

"Disgusting!"

She thought it over, with all of a good woman's earnestness, and
spoke as to a seven-year-old brat whom even his grandmothers had
agreed to murder:

"Cass, can't you ever pay the least bit of attention to your
personal habits?"

"Whaaaat?"

"I know you've lived alone so much, but still you're supposed to be
an intelligent man, and why you don't even notice it when you act
like a pig--your sloppy table-manners and yanking your garter
around right out in front of people--why do you deliberately go and
pick out garters that are guaranteed to come loose?  And dribbling
spots on your vest and your dressing-gown, and as for your LAPELS--"

"I deny all of that."

"Dribbling.  Constantly."

"I do not dribble!  You found one spot on my lapel, a month
ago . . . before we'd gone and got married.  But if it were true,
and I slopped around like a half-wit, I'd expect you to shut up
about it. I'm neither a New England housewife nor a pansy.  I want
your love, but not because of my exterior decoration.  If you're
going to go on watching me, expecting me to act like an ordinary
vulgar Middlewestern male--well, that's what I am.  I haven't one
single extraordinary virtue except my devotion to you.  If you want
to take advantage of that, I'm helpless.  But beloved, my beloved,
don't YOU lose something when you make me into a swine?"

She ran to him, and she was crying, lovely in repentance.

"I didn't realize I was picking on you.  I was just letting my big
mouth run on, as Eino used to say.  It didn't really mean anything
more than all the silly kidding that Lyra and Tracy and I used to
do.  I forgot you're so touchy."

"Am I very touchy?"

"Like a racehorse.  But that's why I love you.  Oh, my dearest,
I'll never let you go into politics or be a judge or anything like
that.  Your hide is about as thick as tissue paper.  Kiss me."  Her
kiss was that of a naughty child distraught to find that she has
hurt her friend.  "I truly think you're the greatest man living.
That's why I was cross with you about Senator Hudbury: that you
didn't realize how much bigger you are than him--than he?--
whichever it is.  You know, I'm not really ungrateful.  I know I'm
lucky to--"

"Sweet, don't go on.  You're making me feel like a lug for even
spitting back at you. . . .  I do love you so!"

"Identical, pal."  But her effort to be funny was pathetic, and she
looked so forlorn.

It was after half an hour of tenderness that Cass said, "I'm sure
now we'll never have another quarrel."

"Never!"

"And so I'm going to risk my life and criticize you for over-
dressing."

"M?"

"At lunch at Bertie's, didn't you notice the rigid millionaire
simplicity of that blasted countess?  But you had on a boutonniere
AND a necklace AND two bracelets AND a comic-dog breast-pin AND a
rhinestone buckle on your hat.  Too much."

"Too Pioneer Falls, eh?"

"Still, why shouldn't you be?"

"Because I am the wife of a judge that ought to be on the Supreme
Court bench right now, and I mean it!"

She must have slipped down to the lobby while he was bathing, while
he was feeling proud of himself for having asserted his power and
ashamed of himself for having so priggishly bullied so defenseless
a little criminal.  For there she was, shyly holding out a small
Modern Library edition of South Wind, and begging, "It's a
repentance present."

He almost wept then, while Isis, on the bureau, stretched herself
with ancient despair.

There could never be any more quarrels or jealousy.  Never.

On the bathing-beach, when numerous men were attentive to the
pleasant sight of her straight smooth legs, and got acquainted with
her apropos of a dog, a daughter, a cigarette-light, or the quick
sketches of the bathers that Jinny sometimes made in charcoal, then
Cass was proud that he felt no jealousy.

--Might as well get used to it.  When we get back, probably every
friend I have--Roy, Bradd, Jay, Harley, Frank, Greg--the whole
bunch of 'em will try to make her.  Not a chance, gentlemen.
There's no malice, no treachery, no intrigue in my Jinny.  Going to
be none of this "modern, civilized, urbane" sleeping around and
getting complicated in OUR house.



Their first Christmas dinner together was at Eisenherz's villa.  It
was a Grand Republic dinner and full of the double joy of loving
the home town and of being able to get away from it in winter.
Webb and Louise Wargate were there, just come in, and Madge
Dedrick.  There was apprehensive talk about the war, and the
Wargates expected to rush home early, but there were also hot rum
punch and tangoing and holly and kisses as harmless as 1890--though
not more so--and Bertie and Madge said that Jinny was going to be
their dearest friend for life, starting about March 20th, on their
annual bird-flight back to Grand Republic.

But the real Christmas was later that night, when Cass and Jinny
stood on the balcony of their suite, looking at the tranquil glow
of Lake Worth, and she sighed, "I'll never forget today.
Especially, I won't forget our standing here, us two.  And I'm glad
we're going back home--us two!  I don't really fall too much for
this Palm Beach glamor.  I know it's just gambling with counterfeit
money."

"I'm glad.  I was afraid maybe I'm too rustic for all the
nobility."

"No, you're too independent.  Cass, I'm very happy.  I'll always be
very happy with you."

They came into the station at Grand Republic in a snowstorm.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

GEORGE HAME & FRIENDS


The return of Judge Timberlane to his court room was marked by an
impassive "Glad to see you back, Judge" from Humbert Bellile, the
bailiff, a hand-shake from the clerk of court, and "Now we can get
going--nice trip, Chief?" from George Hame, the court reporter.

They were quiet and competent men, though bored, and it appeared
evident from seeing them run the court machinery that they had
nothing so disturbing in their lives as wives to hate or trust,
daughters to be worried about, ambitions to be defended; nothing
more complex than the conduct of dull agricultural arson cases.

Hame and Bellile went, after court, to the Cockrobin Bar, and had
comforting conversation with Ed Oleson, the barber, and Leo
Jensing, the electrician.

"See your boss is back from his honeymoon, George," said Oleson.

"Looks fit's a fiddle.  Incidentally, the best judge in the State.
Born professional."

"What kind of a girl he marry?"

"Cute little trick, bright 's a dollar.  Hope she appreciates him."

Jensing yawned, "Those rich guys that belong to the Federal Club
certainly do marry the swellest dames.  Well, they can have 'em.
I'll bet they're all a bunch of headaches.  My old woman and I--I
always tell her she looks like a constipated chicken, and she says
I look like a stubble field--she's dumb and she was brought up a
Seventh Day Adventist, but we get along like nobody's business.  I
cuff the kids and send 'em off to bed and then I get a can of beer
and we strip down to our undershirts and sit around and tell lies
and yap about what rats our neighbors are and generally enjoy life.
The Judge can keep his cutie, and that goes for all the fat boys in
the Federal Club.  Say, ever been in that club, George?  What kind
of a dump is it?"

Mr. Hame explained, "I often take papers to the Judge there.  It's
a pretty swell joint, at that!  All wood paneling and the bar's
like a chapel, stone arches and floor.  But you know what you can
do with the whole club!  Lot of landlords telling each other
Roosevelt is a Communist, like it was a piece they learned at
school."

Ed Oleson was eager.  "You ask ME about the Federal Club!  I go
there all the time, to shave the upper-bracket crooks when they got
too big a hang-over to walk.  Oh, a lot of 'em are okay; Webb
Wargate is a real constructive citizen, and Judge Blackstaff--he's
just as good a judge as your boss, George, and tips you four bits,
like a gentleman.  But Prutt, the banker, he never gives you a
cent--explains they don't tip, in a club.  Hell, I ain't a club
servant; I got my own independent business and I don't have to
shave any cactus-faced old gentleman-virgin unless I feel like it.

"But the worst guy there is that Boone Havock.  Say, why decent
people ever let him in their houses is beyond me.  I've been called
in to shave that cut-throat when he was so drunk he couldn't go
home and had to take a room at the club, and he told and
volunteered and told me that he'd spent the night with a tart in a
shack down in the South End and then got her cockeyed and cheated
her out of her five bucks, and he boasted about it.

"My son Tracy, that works for Wargate, has got more brains and
financial savvy than the whole club put together.  By the way,
Tracy knows Judge Timberlane's bride; says she's a high-class girl.
And talking of wives, I'm like Leo here: my old girl and I have a
swell time, especially now the kids are grown up.  We go out
hunting and canoeing like a couple of Indians.  That's the kind of
a wife I like."

George Hame rose, jeering, "Glad to hear there's so many square-
shooting wives around this burg.  I congratulate you boys."

The bailiff, also rising:  "Same here.  Fellows that 're out from
behind the matrimonial eight-ball like you two must have money to
spare.  We'll allow you to pay for the drinks."

Jensing crowed, "Just to prove it, I WILL buy 'em!"

"Any time you're in for rape, Leo, just remind me that I used to
know you, and I'll get the Judge to let you off with life," said
Hame.  "Good night."



Bailiff Bellile, as he entered his brown Cape Cod cottage, waited
for his wife to say, "Have you wiped your feet?  I try so hard to
keep things nice here, and then you come home drunk and get
everything all dirty."

She said it.

She waited for him to say, in echo of his days as a lumber-camp
teamster, "I wish to God I WERE drunk, and maybe it wouldn't make
me so sick to look at you."

He said it.



Ed Oleson went noisily into his upstairs half of a two-family
house, and his aging wife chirped, "It's the old master himself.
Have a good time with the boys?"

"I'll say!  Wish you'd been along."

"Whyntcha invite me?"

"Juvecome?"

"Try it and see!  Bet I would.  Smell something nice?"

"And how!  What is it?"

"Real Hunky goulash."

"Now you don't tell me."  He kissed her.

"Nice time in the shop today?"

"Fellow here from Rochester, New York, he told me all about how
we'll lick the Japs with a secret weapon we got.  Say, I'll bet
Tracy 'll be in the war, and be a major."

"If his lungs are all healed up.  Golly, Ed, aren't you proud of
that boy!"

"Say, don't you quote me and don't let the newspapers get hold of
it, but I'm nuts about him.  The damn little hick--think of him--
headed for the top of the Wargate Corporation some day!"

"And let me tell you, Mr. Ed Oleson, they'll be lucky to get him!"

"I'll say.  How about lassoing that goulash now?"

"I think you got something there, Mister.  Let's go!"



There was no ugly noise between George Hame and his wife, Ethel,
when he came coldly into their freight-car of a house, but only an
uglier silence.  That was agreeable to him, because there was for
him a poisonous boredom in what he considered her spiritless and
hopeless fussing, her whimpering demands for money.

He looked at her over the Dumas he was always reading.  She was
hemming a pot-holder made of red calico.

"Much too bright for her," he muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing . . .  You certainly will drive me nuts."

"What say?"

"Nothing."

Then another baby yelled.  They had five of them, and all unwanted.
But there was also their fifteen-year-old daughter, Betty, whom he
loved.

He said placidly, "All I exist for is to supply you with brats and
lactation."

"And whose fault--"

"Yours.  If you'd take a little care of yourself--As Montaigne
observes, this place is always obscene with new dripping babies,
and smells like wet death."

She knew enough then not to speak.  When he mentioned Montaigne--
pronounced Montaigny--he was likely to hit her with his seal ring.

Betty came in, round and pert as a bouncing tennis ball.

"Hello, Daddy," she said, as she raced for the stairs, and "Hello,
sweetheart" he answered, looking up after her new nylon stockings
and old shoes.

His wife was afraid not to speak now.  "George!  I will not have
you looking at Betty that way!"

"So you will not have it!  So what?"

He returned to Dumas.

Some day, he thought, Betty and he would run off together to
France, to the shrine of Dumas.  She looked much older than
fifteen, didn't she?  He dreamed about this always, and always knew
that he would never do it.  He knew that he would hold to his wife.
She irritated him, but he was lonely without her on the evenings
when she was visiting her incessantly sick relatives and Betty was
out with one of the neighborhood boys whom he hated.  He was lonely
not because he had no treasures in himself, for he could renew them
out of Dumas or Scott or Washington Irving, nor because he could
not take comfort in solitude, but because he was afraid that when
Betty discovered how he felt toward her and vituperatively left him
forever, then no one in the world but Ethel would stay by him, no
one else would blame it on Betty.

He guessed that Judge Timberlane would kick him out, if the Judge
discovered his thoughts about Betty, and he was sorry, because,
though he considered the Judge a little too naive, he also believed
him to be the Archangel Michael.

With the firmness of the will to death, he waited for Betty to come
down and pass through the room again.  The other children panted in
and out, but their noise was so blurred that it was to him like an
absolute silence.

"Don't you want any supper?" grated his wife.

"What?  I suppose so.  I never thought about it . . .  Oh, Betty,
going out?  Get home early now, sweetheart I'll sit up for you."

"Swell, Daddy," she condescended.

Then he felt gay, and he looked amiably at his wife.  When he saw
her expression, he froze and returned to Dumas.



25


That they should return to Grand Republic on an early January day
when the sun came out after a snowstorm, that Mrs. Higbee should be
at the door to greet the young chatelaine, that flowers should have
come from Diantha Marl and Bradd Criley, and a shaker of already-
mixed cocktails from Queenie Havock, that Jinny should coo,
"Bergheim is an awfully stately old place, isn't it!" was all so
exactly the Judge's idea of what was fitting that it bothered him.
There was no responsible worrying to be done!

Cleo, now a proud young cat, came galloping hysterically downstairs
when she heard their voices.  Then she pretended that she didn't
even know them, but had just happened to be passing that way.  In
fact she stayed about for an hour, to make sure that they saw how
she ignored them.

They were content, but they found the town in the war.

Even the citizens who six weeks before had said, "We're going to
mind our own business and not get into any war" were declaring, "We
ought to have gone to Great Britain's aid two years ago, but now
we're in, and we won't quit till Hitler and Hirohito are wiped
out."

Eino Roskinen, Curtiss Havock, Jack Prutt, and Jamie Wargate,
Webb's second-oldest boy, were already in uniform as privates, and
Tom Crenway, in escape from his anesthetically amorous Violet, was
a major.  Violet herself was the rival of Diantha Marl and Della
Lent for leadership of women's war activities:  Red Cross, Civilian
Defense, scrap-collection.  Of the Brothers-in-Law, Inc., the
spouses of the Zebra Sisters, Alfred Umbaugh was now a colonel in
the department of supplies, and his Zeta was adequately managing
his Button Bright Stores chain, while Harold W. Whittick, the
advertising man, had taken over the patriotism of Grand Republic as
once he had taken over its future.

All of these were anxious and faithful, but there was comedy in the
case of that absentee warrior, Fred Nimbus of Station KICH.

On December 10, ult., young Mr. Nimbus had begun a biweekly series
of radio stories about the adventures of the Marines, in which he
was author, director, and star.  They were so lively that even a
few Marines liked them, and there was a general feeling abroad that
Mr. Nimbus, in his studio, was the most daring warrior in the state
and that upon hearing his voice, thousands of Japanese dashed up
the palm trees.

All of this the Timberlanes learned as they were starting their
career as a decorous and settled Young Couple.



Two days after their return, the cold wave struck; the thermometer
was at ten, fifteen, twenty-two degrees below zero; all the
separate lawns turned into one snowfield, as though the cold
prairie had taken over the town; and snow-devils whirled across
them.  No matter how they wrapped in fur and wool, their foreheads
could not be protected from the aching sting of the cold.  But
before Jinny could moan for the ease and freedom of the Florida
warmth, Cass had her out on skis, flying down the Ottawa Hill, and
they were triumphant and alive.



He expected Jinny to turn Bergheim into a magazine supplement, and
he was financially armed for it.  He had been living on his salary
as judge and saving the three or four thousand dollars a year that
came from the rents which he had inherited from his father.

"Go to it," he said.  "Kick out any of the old furniture that gets
impertinent to you."

"No.  I'm not going to change hardly a thing."  She spoke with a
new and matronly responsibility.  "I'll just refurnish my own room--
which I love, by the way; it's so light, with such a view over the
valley.  But the rest of the house, the old things belong to it."

He admired and wondered.

"And then, too, all your friends will be expecting the child bride
to raise Cain with the household gods, and it's our duty to fool
'em."

He wondered and adored.

"And why waste the money now?  Some day soon we'll get a lovely new
modern house of our own, with no smell of Eisenherz furs and
sauerkraut."

He adored and fretted.

Her notion of a "lovely new house" would cost a great deal of
money.  But it did not occur to him to refuse.

She was as practical as laundry soap.  Her newly decked room did
have a flowery dressing-table with twenty-two small and rather
redundant bottles and jars of cosmetics, urban and extremely
expensive, but the walls betrayed the small-town girl in its sheaf
of photographs and souvenirs:  Jinny Marshland at six, with kitten;
Cousin Joe Marshland, who was now an insurance agent in Gopher
Prairie; Douglas Fairbanks as a movie bandit; Eino and Tracy in
astounding straw hats; the program of the Pioneer Falls High School
Commencement Exercises, May, 1934, silver print on scarlet paper,
class motto "Per Aspera ad Astra," salutatorian, Miss Virginia
Marshland.

While her own retreat was being redecorated, she was generously
invited to lodge with Cass, and when she crept into his room, her
bare feet in woolly slippers like white rabbits, and slipped into
his monumental bed, they clutched at each other with a stimulating
feeling of danger and wickedness.

Lying with one leg impudently cocked in the air, her toes
wriggling, she crooned, "I am Judge Timberlane's little mistress."

"Jinny!"

"And the proudest of his Circassian slaves.  The concubines of the
seven Kings of Blackstaff envy my breastplate of onyx and my
Abyssinian lace slacks."

"Why, Jinny!"

"Does it shock you when I say I'm your mistress?"

"Well, not--uh--not SHOCK me--"

"I see, Venerable.  You mean it merely SHOCKS you!"

"Yes, it does!"

She giggled.

He was sorry when she grandly started to sleep in her own virtuous-
looking narrow bed.  Somehow he was afraid to go unbidden into her
room, as she never was to enter his.

To her maidenly room he added one gift: a white fur rug.  She used
to sit with her folded bare feet deep in its fleecy warmth, and
talk about immortality.



In the rooms other than her own, her practicality was evident.  She
had more floor-plugs put in, and replaced the old lamps, which
resembled moth-eaten velvet mosques erected upon bronze crutches,
with lamps of simple shafts and clear parchment shades.  She
dismissed teak thrones, and ponderous curtains that for generations
had been the graveyards of flies and lightning-bugs.  The house
suddenly had more light and air and gaiety, and at night you did
not fall over relics.

And she installed a popcorn shaker, an electric drink-mixer, an
electric washing-machine, a set of dominoes. . . .

Her one Bohemian extravagance as an artist was a highly modernist
design which she drew on the inside of the downstairs coat-closet
door, in gold radiator-paint and two shades of red nail-polish.  It
showed two angels, one holding a banner lettered "C" and one with a
"J," joyfully flying together.  It agitated the more sober
citizenry, but to Cass it was a major work.



He had at last the chance to complete her instruction in chess.

It was an edifying and domestic sight: the large man in a doubtful
brown-flannel dressing-gown and red slippers; the girl in quilted
pink silk, with her small white woolly slippers; the board and the
old ivory pieces which Cass's father had bought in San Francisco;
all before the fire in the library, where now a clearer light
displayed the blue buckram set of "The World's Most Distinguished
Legal Orations, with Sketches of Leaders of the Bench and Bar,
Profusely Illustrated."

Jinny took to chess with zeal and lawlessness.  She began with an
eloquent prejudice against the rooks.

She was a true animist; she believed that all inanimate objects--
gloves, flatirons, automobiles, stars, lilies, pork chops--had
souls and that all animals had human intelligence; and furthermore
she almost one-quarter believed in her own belief.

Brooding over the chessmen, she said that the rooks were smug-
looking and flat-headed, with stubbly cropped hair, and she scolded
them for loafing in the home rank all through the hottest of the
game, and then sneaking out to kidnap some bishop who had been
working hard and taking risks, and who looked so slim and neat and
friendly.

She developed a surrealist criticism of the chess-rules.  Why
shouldn't a king be able to castle under check?

"Because it's the rule," said Judge Timberlane.

"Why is it the rule?"

"Because it is!"

"Look, silly," she explained.  "The king, bless his poor scared
heart--the way he has to skip around, with even these G.I. pawns
threatening to bump him off all the time--and so when he's in
check, when he's in danger and really NEEDS to castle, then you
won't let him!  Why not?"

"Because it's the--"

"Who ever made the rule?"

"Heavens, I don't know.  I suppose some old Persian."

"Persians make rugs.  They don't make rules."

"Well, this one did."

"How do you know he was a Persian?  How do you know he was old?"

"I don't."  She was so spirited a debater, so much more belligerent
an advocate than any Hervey Plint or Vincent Osprey, that by now he
was half-serious.

"You don't know?  Then maybe there isn't any such a rule!  Maybe
you just dreamed it."

"Well, good Lord, all players keep it--"

"How do you know they do?  Did you ever see Capablanca or Reuben
Fine refuse to castle just because a king was being bullied by some
mean bishop?  (And I used to LIKE the bishops, silly girl that I
was, but now I'm onto them.)  Did you?"

"Of course I didn't.  I've never seen any master play."

"There!  Maybe there isn't any such a rule.  Maybe they only have
it in Minnesota.  We're wonderful in Minnesota about wheat and iron
and removing gall-stones, but what right have we got to dictate to
the rest of the world about castling?"

"Dear idiot child, you'll be asking next how I know you and I are
really married, and who made up the marriage code."

"I do ask it!  How do you know we aren't living in sin, according
to the Mohammedans?"

"I--"

"Maybe I ought to walk right out of here, and go to living with
Abby Tubbs or Jay Laverick or Senator Hudbury, or my sweet Bertie.
What's to prevent it?"

"Only me and a shotgun."

"You see?  You only believe in violence; you don't believe in the
rules of marriage--or of my not castling, either!"

"Just the same, you can't castle."

"Bully!"

"Get on with the game, and don't be so reasonable.  A girl that
would criticize the corpus of chess-laws would criticize chastity."

"I'm not sure that's so hot, either."

"Get on with the game!"

But the real debate--and he was never quite sure that there was not
some reality at the core of her pretended rebellions against
Authority--came when he first revealed to her, from among the more
appalling secret human motives, that by creeping up to the eighth
rank, his pawn had suddenly become a queen, and that she was thus
about to be checkmated.

"That's the most ridiculous claim I ever heard in my life!  Why?
Now don't tell me it's the rule.  It can't be.  I know that pawn.
It's got a tiny nick in its head."  (This was true, though Cass had
never noticed it.)  "It's an unusually stupid, uncooperative pawn.
It NEVER could be a queen.  Impossible!  I won't recognize the
government!"

"Don't you like rules, Jinny?"

"Well, I like you."

"Let me be didactic, Jin."

"Okay."

"Don't say 'Okay'!"

"Why not?"

"It sounds like a gum-chewer."

"But I am a gum-chewer."

"You are not, and you're not going to be.  Look.  I don't bully you
about many things--I'd like to, but I'm too scared of you.  But I
want each of us to teach the other something of his attitude: me
teach you that there's satisfaction in being a sober grind and
mastering even a game, like chess; and you teach me that there's
nothing legally wrong about letting go and just having a good time.
Can't we?"

They gravely shook hands on it, seeing before them the white
highway of pious self-instruction whereon every day in every way
they would get not only better but more blithe; assured that he
would become a first-class grasshopper and she one of the most
social-minded ants in the whole three-foot mountain.

She said, with a slight shade of reverence, "When you lecture me,
you sound like a real judge on the bench."

"Does it annoy you?"

"I love it.  You know, pal, I'm not too sure I'm going to win this
battle of marriage.  I get around you by being the gay 'ittle girl--
the blasted little gold-digger!--but you're too accurate and
dependable for me."

"And sometimes I'm fun, ain't I?"

"Ye-es, sometimes--oh, quite often."

"But you won't lose the battle, Jin.  The worthy blacksmith hasn't
much chance against Ariel."

"You're balled up in your mythology, Judge.  Ariel was not a girl."

"Which you distinctly are, my dear."

There was something in the smile with which she acknowledged this
alluring fact which made him blush.  Then, like a cat, her head low
and a little sidewise, she cautiously stalked a pawn with her
queen's bishop, and pounced.



Cass wondered where he had heard the theory that people, especially
women, who are too devoted to animals are more callous toward human
beings.  Was it a folk tale or reasoned observation or spite, or
all three?  Remembering it, he was slightly worried, in a husbandly
way, that Jinny was so ecstatic over all animals, from the mounted
policemen's horses and the elephant in Wargate Park Zoo to the lone
goldfish in a bowl which she sheepishly brought home from the Five
and Ten.

To Cleo she gave an attention which gratified that bland and
conceited cat.  She maintained that Cleo had to have the best
liver, the sweetbread meant by Mrs. Higbee for the Master, and a
menagerie of catnip mice.  For Cleo she busily knitted a set of
mittens, red mittens edged with yellow, each the size of a large
thimble, for walks in the snow.  When they were tried out, Cleo
merely kicked off three of them, but the fourth she pounced on with
a yell and chewed to pieces, while Jinny looked forlorn.

The gift of a gold string from some ancient Christmas package was
Jinny's greatest success.  This was Cleo's private string, daily
rescued from the wood-box or a pan of batter or a toilet, and
coiled beside her pink wicker basket, near the kitchen stove.  She
leaped into the air to clutch it, and furiously got snarled in it,
and in it was suspended from the back of a chair.  She spent hours
hiding under curtains, wagging herself, trying to catch the string
napping.

Jinny also acquired, within three months, a tragic-eyed cocker-
spaniel pup named Alfred, who was terrified of Cleo, a canary which
every night Cleo tried to eat, a depraved and miserable lizard, and
two lambs made of wool and pretty inactive.

Jinny loved them all and tried to get them to love one another,
with about the usual success of missionaries ever since Jonah.

Cass wished, sometimes, that in addition to the gay affection which
Jinny gave him, he could have the yearning she poured on Cleo and
on that faker and love-beggar, the dog Alfred.

Except when they differed over Jinny's purloining the Master's
coming dinner for Cleo, Mrs. Higbee was Jinny's ally in spoiling
every mangy feline and hound in the neighborhood, and Cass always
had a suspicion that somewhere in the labyrinthian basement of
Bergheim the two women were concealing lost and very valuable
pigeons, panthers, and hippopotami.

From his bedroom he heard them conspiring again, in Jinny's cave.

"Miss Jinny, now you got that new traveling clock, why don't you
let me have this red celluloid one for the kitchen?  Kitchen clock
don't keep time."

"Oh, I couldn't, Mrs. Higbee, I simply couldn't!  I've had my
little red clock for four years.  It came from Pioneer Falls with
me, and it waked me every single morning when I was on the job at
the factory.  Its feelings would be dreadfully hurt if I exiled it
to the kitchen."

"Maybe something to that.  We'll get the Judge to buy us a new
one."

He came out of hiding to examine the two witches:  "I'll bet both
of you believe in palmistry and astrology."

"Doesn't every nice woman?" challenged Jinny.

Mrs. Higbee reflected, "I don't believe in any of those things.
but it's awful funny what you find in a person's hand."

The witches, primitive and powerful, looked at each other darkly,
with contempt for the shallowness of this childish inquistor with
his books and his pride in reasoning.



In early spring, Alfred the dog died suddenly of cat-fur, only a
few weeks after his appearance in history.  Cass expected hysteria
from Jinny, and plans for a torchlight funeral, but she said
absently.  "He was such a nice pup; sorry he went.  But, darling,
let's not have another dog for a while.  I'm not sure--she's too
polite to show it--but I think Cleo is annoyed by dogs.  They get
so noisy when she merely wants to tease them a little."



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

SABINE GROSSENWAHN


Years ago, when Boone Havock was not a railroad-builder but a
saloon bouncer, a thoroughly worthless brother had followed him to
Minnesota and there died in the odor of rye whisky, leaving a
luscious-limbed and just slightly nymphomaniac daughter named
Sabine in charge of Boone, who was very rigid and moral about
women, that is, if they were his daughters or nieces.  He sent
Sabine to Sunday school, and in 1929, when she was eighteen, he
shipped her East, to a fine rustling school in the Hudson Valley.

At a dance she met and in a dance she married one Ferdinand
Grossenwahn, a fat, fifty-ridden New York stockbroker who was later
known to Sabine's friends as "Pore Ole Ferdy."  On the evening of
her wedding-day, she slipped away for an hour with a handsome
dancing-man whom she had met that afternoon, and when Ferdy found
them and was stuffy about it, she slapped him.

As soon as she had succeeded in the new feminine career of
lucratively divorcing her husband, she returned to Grand Republic,
where her waved hair, delicate as a sea shell, her sables, and her
fifteen-hundred-a-month alimony were greater rarities than in
Manhattan.

Besides the alimony, Pore Ole Ferdy had given her a fifty-thousand-
dollar cash bonus for leaving him in peace and dignity, and she
built a house known throughout Minnesota as "Alimony Hall."  It was
in the shape of a double L, and the leafy courtyard, on the bluff
overhanging the Sorshay River valley, was full all summer long of
ivy and syringa and rose-bushes, of glass-topped tables and plaid
table-parasols and wheeled reclining-chairs like portable divans,
with an outdoor grill and an outdoor bar; full of laughter and
swing music on the phonograph and women who wanted sympathy and men
who called it that.  It is to be said for Sabine's good nature
that, provided they did not attack her own current young man, she
was almost as willing to provide secluded rooms for her women
friends and their affairs as for her own.

Most frequent of the Alimony Hall Set were Jay Laverick, Harley
Bozard, Cousin Curtiss Havock, Bradd Criley, Fred Nimbus, Norton
Trock--but he never bothered women--Gillian Brown, who despised
Sabine, Cerise, consort of that earnest young legal prig, Vincent
Osprey, and, somewhat disapprovingly, Rose Pennloss.

Norton Trock dated himself by quoting Omar Khayyam at their
gatherings, but the talk ran oftener to adultery and gin than to
wine and roses.

None of them, except Sabine, Harley, and Cousin Curtiss, who had
met him briefly in New York, had ever seen Pore Ole Ferdy
Grossenwahn, but they all talked as though he were their oppressive
and ridiculous uncle.  They referred to her alimony as "our
income."  While Sabine and Gillian giggled, they debated whether
Ferdy was worth more to them living or dead, for Sabine had assured
them, "I honestly do think that if the old fool doesn't get married
again, he will at least have the decency to leave me everything in
his will."

They laughed while she told them about Ferdy's fat amorousness, or
read them his current letters, which betrayed him by such puerile
phrases as, "Though I never could satisfy you & I sure was not
worthy of your spiritual gifts and bright way of talking, you must
admit that my solicitude for you is unwavering & sure can count on
me always, dear babe o' mine, for such financial assistance as
able."

During her affair with Fred Nimbus, who was a couple of years
younger than herself and a fine athletic radio-announcer, it amused
both of them that her stupid ex-husband would not even know that he
was supporting her lover.  "Mustn't be jealous of Pore Ole Ferdy or
talk naughty about him," she whispered to Fred.  "You don't think
he was romantic, but he certainly is contributing to a high-class
romance now.  So shut up and kiss me."

Sabine was not so simple in her moods that she always ridiculed
Pore Ole Ferdy.  Sometimes for a whole week she spoke of him with
repentant reverence:  "All of you shut your traps about Ferdy.  I'm
not altogether sold on the idea that he wasn't worthy of me.  God
knows he was hard to live with, and a cold fish, but he always
treated me with the most scrup'lous honor, and in fact he's a
perfect gentleman, and I want to tell you that there's no man on
the Exchange that has a more prophetic sense about a bear-market
than Ferdy."

But sometimes, to show that she was no parasite weakling, she was
resentful and firm with Ferdy.  He once wrote that he was hard-up
and would like to reduce her "income" for a month or two, and she
had the courage and sense of responsibility to answer, "All this is
a matter of court record, and if you haven't got the dough now,
that's just too bad!  And you better hustle around and get it, not
do the cry-baby act!  I don't know what's gotten into you.  I think
it might help you come to your senses if you took this right into
court.  You seem to forget you took on an OBLIGATION in our legal
settlement, and I don't intend to let you try and avoid it.  I have
been faithful to our agreement and I expect you to be the same."

When Norton Trock explained the idea of the matriarchy to her,
Sabine said, "Thank God that could never happen in America."



26


This happy man and woman, this little world, this precious island
in a leaden sea, walled from the envy of less happier homes, this
blessed trust, this peace, this youthful marriage, this home of
such dear souls, this dear dear home.

This valley of refuge, this refuge without flight, this valley
shelter from the wars abroad and the hysteric factions of the land,
this close and smiling cheer, this dear dear home.

Thus only could Cass read his Richard the Second.



If the world of the twentieth century, he vowed, cannot succeed in
this one thing, married love, then it has committed suicide, all
but the last moan, and whether Germany and France can live as
neighbors is insignificant compared with whether Johann and Maria
or Jean and Marie can live as lovers.  He knew that with each
decade such serenity was more difficult, with Careers for Women
opening equally on freedom and on a complex weariness.  But whether
women worked in the kitchen or in the machine-shop, married love
must be a shelter, or the world would freeze, out in the bleak free
prairies of irresponsible love-making.

With whatever flaws, his dear Jinny and he had created such a
shelter.  He hastened back to her from his day in court; she
hastened to him from her war work in the Office of Civilian
Defense, or from a French lesson with Frau Silbersee, or from a
movie with Rose and Valerie Pennloss.  He met her with a
perpetually renewed amazement that this brisk and well-armored girl
would soften to his love.  She met him with astonishment that so
reserved a man should be so without reserve her worshiper.

They walked on winter nights by the dark river flowing under the
ice from dark pinelands; they panted home to read in quiet, with
one final ferocious game of chess, and she came into his room to
say good night and forgot to go.

Poor Cass was so much simpler than most of the criminals who
appeared before his wisdom, and any beslobbered pickpocket knew
more about the intrigue of love.  He suffered from thinking that
his was an entirely reasonable, realistic, unsentimental love--in
fact, he suffered from thinking, while Nature was busy with much
livelier urges.

So great was her kindness toward his stumbling and beautiful faith
in her that Jinny was not tempted to tease him by keeping him away,
but she was human enough to bully him.  It was in timing that she
could, with innocent sweetness, most bedevil him.

He was invariably ready to do whatever she wanted to when she
wanted; she usually thought that what he wanted to do was a fair
notion, but she always showed her independence by delaying the
WHEN.  She was always ten minutes late, always had been and always
would be, and he always protested that she was late, and she always
explained that her watch was slow, and the ever-refreshing topic
was probably a safety-valve and kept them from more perilous
matrimonial topics, such as relatives, religion, and the vanity of
too-much lipstick.

He had to face the twin questions of whether she could settle down
with his staid set, and whether that set would snub her as an
outsider and not come calling.  But the entire town (again meaning
one per cent of it) was frenzied to know what this girl was like
who had captured Our Cass.  They did come, and Jinny was pleased,
even when she was irritated by the manner of the older worthies,
which indicated, "We shall make every effort to have you accepted
by our senate, now that you are no longer young and wild, but we
must be convinced that you appreciate it."

Queenie Havock came in, at the most inconvenient time available,
just when Jinny had started to wash her hair, and gave Jinny
instructions on how to keep Cass ardent, and charged into the
kitchen, said it was too large and too old-fashioned, insulted Mrs.
Higbee, and then won her back by screaming, "Here I am shooting off
my mouth again, but I know what a crank Cass is about temperance
and purity and all that hooey, the old stiff, and you two girls
have to live with him, and I just meant any time I can tip you off
about men, you let me know, and how would you like a brace of
frozen pheasants?"

Less endurable was Diantha Marl, Mrs. Gregory Marl, the handsome
and fresh-voiced and amiable.  Both as the wife of the Banner and
in her own right as a committeewoman, a madame chairman, an
exhaustive and exhausting talker about foreign affairs, the drama,
and the illegitimate babies that all the gayer young ladies in town
were certainly going to have immediately, Diantha ranked with Mrs.
Webb Wargate, Madge Dedrick, and Della Lent as one of the female
rulers of the tribe.

She had worked so hard at an English accent that she had acquired a
fascinating combination of Oxford and oxcart, and she was so
mannered, so pretentious, that when she met you on the street and
said "Good morning," it somehow informed you that she was on her
way to a conference with the Secretary of State or with Bernard
Shaw, who had secretly slipped into town for that purpose.

She remembered that Jinny had once worked for her husband--how she
remembered it! how glowingly and inescapably she remembered it!--
and, under her system of private imperialism, she assumed the right
to inflict on Jinny, as one of her smaller colonies, a rule of
gentle questioning, which would provide her with new dinner-party
tattle.

Jinny, proud in her power as young hostess, who could give orders
to Mrs. Higbee and often have them carried out, offered Diantha tea
or cocktails.  She took cocktails, and began to whinny.

How cozy here.  Did Cass tell Jinny all about his cases in court?

"Oh, yes," lied Jinny.

Did Cass like to play with her, and was he a generous provider?

"Oh, yes," said Jinny, surprised at being able to tell the truth.

What was Cass's worst fault?

"Why, I imagine it's his thinking that his wife is so bright that
she's onto it when people who really dislike her pretend to shine
up to her."

Not for months did Diantha decide whether Jinny had meant to be
insulting.  She then, very erroneously, decided No.

She ran through a discourse on the post-war education of Germany
(which ought to be taken over by liberal-minded women like Diantha
Marl), on trout-fishing (she was one of the best fly-casters in
Radisson County), and on what a creeping imbecile Perry Claywheel
was to believe that his wife was true to him.  So Diantha got
easily through the period before she could go home and tell a
dinner-party that this Jinny Timberlane was illiterate but
harmless.

But Mrs. Nestor Purdwin, wife of the dean of the local bar, just
brought Jinny a jar of chutney, and that rangy older hawk, Mrs.
Judge Blackstaff, came and sat and knitted with Jinny, who was glad
then to believe that she herself would some day become an authentic
Mrs. Judge.



As a planner, a maker of notes and lists, Cass had anxiously
thought over all the younger people whom Jinny might like.  He was
pleased when the Havocks' daughter, Ellen Olliford, came home from
Massachusetts.  She was just Jinny's age, and everybody said she
was "so amusing."

They would be Great Friends, decided Cass.

Ellen Havock had gone to Smith College, then married Mr. Olliford,
an engineer resident in Springfield, Massachusetts, now in the
service, a captain.  Ellen, with her one baby, had come back to
stay with her parents.

She loved and despised her parents, she loved and was bored by
Grand Republic, and she spread abroad the news that Springfield
(Mass.) was a heavenly city compact with music, French cuisine,
silver golf-sticks and bridge-cards beaten out of fine gold, till
her father said--but still lovingly--"Then why the hell don't you
get out of this hick camp and go back to your codfish?"

Jinny was more terrified by Ellen than by Ellen's strident mother.
Young Mrs. Olliford was so artificially slim, so icy, so at ease,
so inquisitive; and without saying it, she so clearly said to
Jinny, "How did a country girl like you ever marry a man who,
however far down the rungs, still belongs to our International
Ladder Society?"

Half a dozen other young war-widows also came reluctantly back to
the primitiveness of their native Grand Republic, after marrying
into such exclusive Eastern centers of culture as Peoria,
Bridgeport, and Scranton.  They knew their horse-shows and their
Vogue fashions, and Jinny was as uncomfortable with them as any
other fox-terrier with a pack of disdainful greyhounds.  None of
this did Cass realize; he thought that Ellen and her kind were
"nice kids, maybe a little too extravagant," who would be grateful
to meet anyone so forthright and individual as Jinny.  When she
said, no, she did not want to give a party for them, he dismissed
them with a comfortable "You're probably right.  How about some
cribbage?"

Not too discontentedly, he thought, Jinny settled down with Lyra
Coggs, Francia Wolke, Cerise Osprey, Hortense Hubbs, Rose Pennloss
and, perhaps most of all, with Rose's daughter Valerie who, at
fifteen, seemed to Jinny to have more eagerness and integrity than
anyone she knew except Cass and Eino.



Webb and Louise Wargate, home early from Florida because of the
war, gave the Timberlanes a formal party, but of that Jinny could
remember nothing except white shirt-fronts, a swirl of tulle, and
the magnificent, the absurd, Great Room in the Wargate palace, with
its enormous crimson circular seat with an orange tree on the
central pedestal, and the marble fountain imported from Italy.

Their real welcome to matrimony was the dinner of twelve persons
given by Dr. and Mrs. Drover.

Jinny had, with difficulty, persuaded Cass that it would be
fashionable for them to be ten minutes late, so when they came in--
two minutes early--the citizens had all arrived, and Cass could
hear Roy and Queenie in an antiphon that seemed familiar:

Nobody at all has any servants whatsoever now, and those who do
have pay too much, and so all strikes ought to be stopped by law,
because all labor leaders and Democrats are crooks.  Cass listened
while he waited for Jinny to return from the coat-room, and
silently exploded.

--Dear Jinny, I've done a dreadful thing, to trick you into
becoming my wife and, for your reward, let you for a whole evening
listen to Roy Drover belching.  I must have hated you, not loved
you.  I've shut you in a morgue.  Well, I'll take you out of it.
I'll take us both out!  I'd better, little hawk, or you'll fly off
without me!

--Now what kind of a way to talk is that?  Jinny is a wise-enough
kid to know that these people are the salt of the earth, the
friendliest and solidest people living.  What the devil!  They're
not SUPPOSED to talk like a bunch of actors or professors!

He had got so far in his inward scolding when Chris Grau walked in,
with scarf, and looked at him straight--not rebukingly, not
pathetically, not tenderly, just straight, her manner saying that
he had gone rather far, not so long ago, in making love to her, in
drinking in her sympathy, and there was nothing that could be done
about it, but she did want to have the record clear.

The Judge quit brooding and became practical.  Leaving Jinny
comparatively safe with Rose Pennloss and a cocktail, he appealed
to Lillian Drover, the hostess.  She smiled beseechingly at him, as
she always did.  "Lil!  Can you seat Jinny beside Bradd Criley at
dinner--he'll entertain her more than anybody, I think--and let me
sit by Chris?  I've neglected her."

Lillian blushed and nodded.

He bustled to Bradd.  Good ole Bradd!  Thirty-nine now but hard to
believe it, still looks about twenty-nine; wavy-haired, impudently
courtly, handsome in a track-athlete way, slim as a tennis-player,
master of every trick of the law court and the poker table and the
boudoir, a more smiling friend than Roy Drover and a more sensible
one than Frank Brightwing--no wonder he held that ducal office of
The Most Popular Bachelor in Town!

Cass urged, "Bradd!  Pay some attention to Jin tonight.  She's shy
of these old crabs, and I've got to soothe Chris."

The dimple, the quick smile, the manly voice, as Bradd promised,
"Do you think I'll find that hard?  Jinny is the one person here,
besides you, that I want to see.  I'm delighted that you and she
are so happy together.  And you can hold her.  She'd be onto a
flashy guy like me in ten minutes.  You watch me squire her."

Good ole Bradd, thought Cass.

Sitting beside Chris at dinner, he probed, "Well, what do we say?"

"About what?"

"About us."

"You mean about letting me think you loved me, and then sneaking
off with this girl?"

"Not sneaking."

"Sneaking! . . . Well, I must say, but regretfully, that I think
you were right."

"M?"

"Oh, Cass, I know; I had no youthful passion left to give you.  It
all went to my father, then for years to Mother, and when--I wanted
to hate Jinny, but I'm sorry to say that I love her.  I don't
suppose I'm more than six or seven years older than she is, but I
feel as if she were my daughter.  She's fundamentally a shy thing,
isn't she?  Look at her, trying to laugh at Roy's dirty jokes."

"Well, Bradd will carry her through, on her other side.  He's--"

"Cass!  Are you a competent husband for any girl as fine and
winning as Jinny?"

"I don't know.  I hope so."

"You've got to be!  For my sake, too.  Cass, she's my understudy.
No, she's me; she represents me, she IS me, in the only love-affair
I'll ever have.  Are you gentle enough for her and tolerant enough
and imaginative enough and flexible enough?"

"What do you think?"

"I'm not sure you are.  You're so methodical."

Then Cass was angry.  "I'm sick and tired of this contemporary
belief that any man who likes to spend as much as one evening a
week home is too dull a breadwinner for any up-and-coming young
female who's had such a modern education in science and sociology
that she can turn on the radio all by herself!  But I do love Jinny
to a point of desperation, and however much she may like dancing-
men and all these other wonder-boys that are too 'flexible' to be
'methodical,' yet in the long run she'll prefer somebody who's
solid, like me or Bradd, and I don't intend to apologize even to
HER because I do brush my teeth and pay my bills!"

"Cass, you do love her, don't you!  I'm glad.  Do love her.  If you
ever for one minute wanted to love me or anything in me, then love
me now in her!"

Her intensity frightened him; in relief he looked along the table
at the placidity of Jinny.  He was pleased to see how helpful to
her Bradd was being.  Bradd was talking low and fast, and smiling.

--Thank God, there's one friend I can trust to give her a good
time.  Bradd is as young as Eino and as mellow as Steve Blackstaff,
and I wouldn't wonder if he understood women better than some
married men.



Jinny was so fortunate as to draw Bradd and the Penlosses for
bridge, after dinner; she seemed to have a good time, and Cass was
puzzled when she was silent to his query "Enjoy yourself?" during
the extensive five-block drive back home and when, in the hall, she
threw her silver-fox jacket at the indignant Cleo.

"Come sit on my knee," he said.  Somehow that always seemed to him
a soothing thing to suggest at these times of sulkiness.

She obeyed, but her head against his shoulder was rigid as a
plaster model.

"What's trouble, baby?"

"NOTHING'S the trouble!  Good HEAVENS, can't I be quiet without
your thinking that--"

"No, sweet, you can't.  What's the charge?"

"You seemed to be having a gorgeous time with your old girl-friend,
that Grau woman."

She loved him enough to be jealous!

"I WAS having a gorgeous time with her.  Do you know what we were
talking about?"

"Me, I suppose."

"Don't be so egocentric.  But matter of fact, we were.  She wanted
to hate you, but she's succumbed, like me.  She loves you.  I said
you were a hawk, but she says you're a LARK, among all these
crows?'

"Well, now, that's what I call something like it!"  She kissed his
bent forehead; kissed it again with "That second one is for Chris.
I always liked larks better than any other bird; the meadow lark
that makes you feel so fresh in early morning, and I want to go to
England when the war's over, just to hear the skylark.  And yet
Chris does--"

She was tense again in his arms, and there was nothing funny,
nothing of the bad-little-girl in her grave complaint:

"But you and she were so intimate.  You've known her so long--you
know so many things together that I never even heard of.  I felt so
shut out.  You two have jokes and memories--maybe of all the
romantic passes that you've made at her."

"Not so many and not serious.  Why, Jin, you aren't jealous?"

"Yes, I am!"

"You, the crusader against jealousy?"

"I'm not a crusader against anything!  I'm only jealous when
anybody takes ANY of you away from me.  Jealous when I realize, and
God knows I try and forget it, that you've had so many experiences
with women that I don't even know about."

"Haven't you had experiences?"

"Not really.  Eino kissed me very nicely one evening, if you want
to know.  But when I think of Chris, and especially when I think of
BLANCHE, that hell-cat, that female heel--"

"No, she wasn't."

"--then I get mad.  You and your Blanche!  Actually married to her!
I can just see it and hear it: dark rooms, and she on your lap,
too--"

She tried to bounce away, but not too violently, and he held her.

"--and you two lying and laughing in the darkness and breakfasting
together in pajamas--oh, sometimes I get so furious I could kill
both of you, and sometimes it just makes me disgusted and feeble.
Cass Timberlane, you got to love me terribly, to make me forget all
that."

"Do you want me to?"

"Yes, I do!"

"Do you love me, Jin?"

"Yes, I do.  Damn it!"

"How much?"

"Very much.  Very very much."

She forgot her distress, and not till late, when she had refused to
return to her own room, on the ground that it was wolf-haunted, and
lay curled serenely in his vast bed, did he recall from his
criminal cases into what frightening shapes a resentment long
hidden can twist itself.



27


He had heard it often enough from his sister Rose, but he had never
thoroughly understood that Jinny, with little occupation beyond
asking Mrs. Higbee what she wanted her to want, would become idle,
empty and bored.

Her chief employment was in war-work.  With the others, she did her
Red Cross detail and the entertainment of transient soldiers, but
it took no initiative, not with such captains of enterprise as
Diantha Marl and Zeta Umbaugh directing her how to address
envelopes, how to make layettes for soldiers' wives.  She worked
conscientiously, but the tasks did not take one-tenth of her time,
one-hundredth of her energy.

She had been elected to the Junior League, with its dances and mild
benevolences, but she did not feel greatly at home in that self-
constituted peerage of the Nice Women.

She read enough, but what to the factory draftsman had been stolen
joy was merely grim, as an all-day entertainment.

For a month it had been luxury, after having been a working girl
goaded by alarm clocks, to sleep till eleven and to breakfast on
Mrs. Higbee's gossip and Cleo's antics with the golden string.
Yet, before summer, Jinny was bored to the danger-point.

She hoped that when she had children, she would be fulfilled, but
there was no advice of their coming.

Now of all this Cass was more aware than Jinny knew, aware and
bothered.  He had realized from divorce cases that boredom can be a
slimier serpent in Eden than cruelty or drunkenness, and he saw
that snake writhing.

What had Blanche done to keep busy?  Why hadn't she complained?

Oh, yes.  He remembered now.  She had.

And at that, Blanche had been nearer in age to Rose and the Bozards
and more companionable, and she had enjoyed impressing Grand
Republic by wearing backless dresses and being a great hostess.
But when she had not been on parade, she too had been bored.

Cass wondered whether Jinny could, as Blanche decidedly could not,
be influenced to take an interest in the technicalities of his
work.

He gave her popular books about the law.  He came home with
stories--even he did not think they came out very excitingly--about
what an old stickler Oliver Beehouse, chief counsel for the
Wargates, was about rules of evidence, what battlers for justice
Sweeney Fishberg and Nestor Purdwin were, and how irritated Judge
Blackstaff was when Judge Flaaten referred to their new silk robes
as their "overalls."

But he got no spark out of her till he told about the young soldier
who had been sent up for carnal knowledge, at which she lighted up
and warmly defended the young man without having listened to
anything but the more esoteric features of the case.  Cass
discovered that she was as non-conformist in the judicial system as
in chess.  Her theory of verdicts was humanitarian and brief.

If a criminal was a nice-looking boy, you imposed the minimum
sentence and then suspended it and gave him five dollars to go out
and get another drink; and in civil litigation, the judge ought to
sneak out into the corridor with the foreman of the jury and tell
him to give judgment for all tenants, widows, and all persons over
seventy, and against all landlords, employers, corporations, and
bald-headed men who smoked cigars and called women "Sister."

"I don't think she'll ever be a rival of John Marshall," decided
Judge Timberlane.

It was in early March that he came home to find a girl dancing with
pride.

"Darling, know what's happened?  Guess.  You couldn't guess.  Greg
Marl--what nerve!--he wants me to go back to work for him.  I will
not!  The idea!  Maybe I will.  Firing me--the best cartoonist
HE'LL ever get!  Well, I guess I was sort of bad.  Maybe I'll be
better now.  But I was a pretty darn good cartoonist then, too!"

"Whoa!  What is all this?"

"Greg called up.  Two of his reporters and his new cartoonist have
been drafted.  He says he could just use a syndicated cartoon, but
he'd rather keep the local touch, and he thinks--"

"Do you want to do this?"

"For a while, maybe.  Yes, I think I do.  Would you mind terribly?"

"We'll talk about it at dinner.  Let me think about it first."

While he washed his hands, gargled, inspected the purity of his
collar, put on his smoking jacket, peeped at the war news, called
up about the coal, looked at the thermometer to see what time it
was and looked at his wrist-watch to see how cold, wrote a check
for the garbage-collector, glanced at the sports page, looked into
his current detective story to find out whether it was due back at
the public library, looked at the furnace, put on his slippers and
then, with a feeling that this was his evening to be dignified, put
on his shoes again, and then put on his slippers--through all his
exigent before-dinner duties, the Judge was voraciously thinking
about it first.

At dinner, Jinny spoke with more affection than belligerence:

"I'm not so proud and stuffy that I care especially about seeming
independent of you, like Diantha Marl, but this is a shaky world
now, and any girl of my age may have to earn her living yet, and
she ought to be trained, and I've only started my training as a
draftsman.  I ought to be really good."

"I agree."

"I wish I could be of some help to you in the law, but that would
take years, and I have made a start with drawing.  Honestly, it's
all--well, anyway, it's partly because I do love you and want you
to respect me and not consider me just a kept woman.  Can't you
see?  I mean, work till God or whoever it is that's responsible
sends us some children.  Couldn't I?"

"Dear child, you don't have to ask my permission!"

"But I wouldn't feel right--"

"I'm not your tyrant.  If you want to do this enough, why, it's
decided.  I'll admit I had hoped to have you waiting for me at the
end of the day, and all fresh, not a tired working woman, but I
know I have no right to demand that.  So.  When do you go to work?"

"Well--yes--I know--but there is one thing.  You see, Greg wants
me--and Hubbsy says I'd be fine at it--and Greg will pay me more,
but he wants me to do some reporting, too, and that means the hours
would be from noon till eight o'clock in the evening--maybe later
sometimes, but not very often.  How do you feel?  I'm not quite
sure."

He was a sunken man then, but he wanted to be polite.

"Look, Jin.  If this were some critical war job, or if it were
going to lead to a blazing career for you, I'd be glad.  I'd merely
be wondering how I could help.  I know that more and more millions
of women will have to earn their livings now, and I'm all for
having every occupation--especially law and medicine--open to them
completely.  But is it any part of this theological doctrine of the
economic independence of women--this rare new doctrine that only
goes back to the Egyptian priestesses--that women HAVE to have
independent jobs, even if it cracks up the men they love--or at
least the men that love them?"

"Don't look so utterly stricken!  Of course I won't do it!  Foul
idea anyway, out in the rain all evening when I've got you and Mrs.
H. and Cleo to come home to.  Forget it!"

"But I don't want to forget it.  You're right about the passing of
the fond, foolish Little Woman.  But look.  You yourself say you
need more training in art.  You know this old fellow Bezique, that
has art classes at the Junior College?  I hear he's quite good--he
wouldn't be here but for the war.  Why don't you work with him?"

"Maybe I will.  Now stop looking so woe-begone.  Honestly, I don't
insist on solving the entire feminist question right away!"

She rushed around the table to kiss his hair, which was gratifying
not only to Cass, but to the highly observant Cleo.  She was
unusually pleased with him and with herself all evening, while he
tried to look generous but masterful, and underneath it worried
that, three months after their marriage, she could cheerfully have
left him for her own world of young workers, and had been kept from
it not by adhesion to him, but by the accident that she would have
to work after dark.

He realized that from his first sight of her on the witness-stand,
his zest in trying to win her had always been underlaid by the fear
of losing her.  He realized that in the civilization that he
represented officially, if nine-tenths of the people suffered from
occasional hunger and constant insecurity, the rest of the
community, whom the nine-tenths labored to keep in contentment,
suffered from boredom and futility.  His problem was concerned not
with one light-footed girl, but with all women everywhere in an age
that puzzled and frightened him.

And Jimmy--with enthusiasm she took up sketching and French
literature at the Junior College, in Alexander Hamilton High
School, and with more enthusiasm she dropped them, when she found
that most of the students in the adult classes were youngish
housewives who were more willing to fall in love with the teacher
than to study.

But this failure did not so much affect Jinny as her discovery that
she was a second Eleonora Duse.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

SCOTT & JULIET ZAGO


Scott Zago, president of the Northern Insurance Brokerage
Corporation of Grand Republic, Inc., suffered from nothing in life
except his diagnosis of himself as a humorous fellow.

He was a profound yet ingratiating insurance-man, a collector of
shotguns, a talented carver of duck-decoys, a powerful dahlia-
grower, a pipe-smoker, a dog-lover, and a faithful husband, and he
could quote accurately all the limericks about the Bishop of
Birmingham, but he would put on an expectant smile and make puns.
He telegraphed "Congratulations on the pappy event" to new fathers,
provided they were of an insurable social standing, and to lawyers
he said, "How's the great trial-liar today?"

He had a comic name for every acquaintance, and used it whenever he
saw them.  Loudly.  "Lydia Pinkham" was his name for Dr. Drover; he
shouted "How's Doc Pinkham this obsequious day?" even in the hushed
pomposity of the Federal Club; and he introduced him to male
strangers with, "Folks, I want you should meet Doc Pinkham.  He'll
take care of any female complaints you got in stock today."

He found that Abbott Hubbs was born in Oklahoma, and he gurgled
invariably, "How's the oil wells today?"  As he was never quite
sure whether Oklahoma was to be regarded as Western or Southern, he
added either, "Brethren, we will now absquatulate together and sing
'Dixie,'" or "Brethren, we will now absquatulate together and sing
'Home on the Range,'" according to his geographic mood.

But Scott Zago was magnificent as a husband.

Juliet and he made love rapturously and unwearyingly; they giggled
at each other's jokes, and whenever they tried to quarrel, they
broke down and laughed.  They had two jolly children.  They called
their fake half-timber cottage "The Dolls' House," and it had a
pool table and good beds and two-thirds of a set of The Harvard
Classics.

Their amorous delight was only increased by the fact that Scott was
fifty now and Juliet only thirty-five.  She had been married to him
when she was twenty, but she was a chronic child-wife, and would
still be at seventy, if God should blessedly preserve her as a
proof of how unnecessary is intelligence to romance and fine
cookery.

She flapped her pretty little fat hands and beamed like a fat round
little baby and did a fantastic little toddling dance with her
little round feet, and simpered, "Honya, I dess tan't understan'
all de biggy, wisey gwowed-up talk that oo big mans is saying, but
'ittle Juley can shake up a cuddly 'ittle Clover Club while oo is
doing it."

Her favorite endearment was this "Honya," and she ran to the
infantile in clothes; she wore ringlets, with piratical kerchiefs
flaunting over them, large pink hats, and dirndls and flat strapped
baby-shoes and chains hung with jingling silver charms.  And she
poked people in the ribs and squealed at their wincing.

Juliet was not only infantile but cultured.  Every month she took
from the library a volume on some branch of science like astrology,
New Thought, gland-therapy, Freud's translations from the original
four-letter words, or the hidden inner secrets of Tibet, and with
the touching zeal of the young savant, she quoted the first two
paragraphs of each book to all newcomers.  Naturally, like Mrs.
Higbee across the way, she believed in numerology and palmistry,
but she had one superstition that Mrs. Higbee did not share: she
put perfume behind her ears.  Also, she never listened to
information and let it go at that.  She had to make a witty
comment, in the belief that she was easing the social way for large
and surly professors of biophysics or Burmese history.

Most men knew instinctively that the way to shut up Juliet was to
kiss her.  For so plump a girl, she did get more incidental kissing
from entirely tangential gentlemen!  They were deceived, however,
if they thought they were going farther.

After parties, she reported to Scott on the assorted kisses she had
received during the evening, and he tried, under her direction, to
imitate the several categories, as: the butterfly kiss, the solid
brother-in-law, the allergic-to-lipstick, the short interrogative,
the long interrogative, and the vampire-minatory, meant for
ravishing.  They bounced around in bed and laughed a good deal
during these imitations, and ended up in an innocent frenzy which
would have astonished serious citizens like Judge Timberlane, who
thought the Zagos were fools, or sentimentalists like Young Mrs.
Timberlane, who thought they were triflers.

The Zagos came near to justifying all such anachronisms as
Insurance, cocktails, and houses with shingles imitating thatch.



28


From a camp in South Carolina, Eino Roskinen wrote to Jinny, "I'm a
corporal, I shall be a sergeant, I'll never be a comm. officer, I
ask too many flip questions.  Now you are married and a woman of
leisure, why don't you finally go out for the Lit Theater, you have
looks and spirit, tho I doubt whether you have enough inner
discipline to take direction, why not try?  Furioso the Finn."

She read it aloud to Cass, and said with marked doubt, "What do you
think?"

"Not bad.  I believe you'd be good at dramatics, and you'd have a
lot of fun.  The Masquers have had a good reputation, more than ten
years now.  I couldn't ever imagine myself getting up there before
a lot of people and pretending I was a king or a butler--"

"You do every day.  On the bench."

"Maybe.  Anyway, I'd be delighted."

"I wonder when the next try-out is.  I wonder what the play will
be."

"The play is Skylark, by Samson Raphaelson; it's the last play of
the season; the reading will be at Della Lent's next Thursday
evening, at eight-fifteen."

"How come you always know everything?"

"Why, I read the papers!"



Rice and Patty Helix were small and active and rather untidy.  They
were the paid semi-professional managers of the Masquers:
directors, scene-designers, ticket-peddlers, borrowers of stage
furniture.  They were devoutly married, and they were either older
than they looked, or more wrinkled than their age.  They talked,
rapidly and enthusiastically, about "Gene" O'Neill, moonlight-blue
lights, and tormentors, and they could make a wind-machine out of
an old bicycle, a marble Venus out of a Quaker Oats box.

They had acted professionally, but no one seemed to know just when
or where; they said that they had given it up because it was so
hard to get engagements together; and before they had found a
career in the little theaters, they had tried chicken-farming and
clairvoyance and being lecture agents in Texas.  Late at night,
they were seen running hand in hand.  The Boone Havocks received
them as somewhere between schoolteachers and bartenders.

But at best they were the upper servants of Della Wargate Lent, who
supported the Masquers.

The plays were rehearsed at the various houses of the cast and
finally presented in the high-school auditorium, but the try-outs
were held at Della's abode, which was by no means the largest house
in Grand Republic but had the largest drawing-room, all filled with
gilt pianos and majolica.

For casting during war-time the Helixes had enough women among whom
to choose, but they had to drag in young men from shops and
factories and offices.  There were present for the reading of
Skylark only eleven men from whom to pick the six male characters
of the play, and one of these was cross-eyed though spirited, but
for the four women characters there were twenty-seven candidates,
ranging from fourteen and sulky to sixty-three and still artistic.

All twenty-seven wanted to play Mrs. Kenyon, the lead.

Cass told himself that Jinny stood out among the others as the
loveliest yet the most efficient.  It was not the fantastic or the
playful or the flirtatious Jinny who was here tonight, but a
business-like young woman in a snuff-colored suit, a crisp scarf,
a small brown hat.

They all tried it, but only two were chosen for a second reading of
the part of Mrs. Kenyon:  Jinny and Letty Vogel, wife of the county
agricultural agent.  Mrs. Vogel was three or four years older than
Jinny, a thin figure in almost-shabby black, a thin, pale, anxious
face with eyes too large.

--That poor Vogel girl.  Seems to have a fancy for the theater, but
not a chance against Jinny--all fire and ivory.

They tried again, and Jinny's reading was like crystal, her voice
warm, every syllable clear--and all syllables exactly alike.  Lefty
Vogel seemed tired and her voice was slightly shaky, but as she
read she was not Mrs. Vogel at all but the character in the play:
wilful, gay, a little cheap and utterly tragic, a wisecracking
angel.

--Now, now, now!  This is awful!  Mrs. Vogel is superb and poor
Jinny, she can't act at all!  She reads like a schoolgirl.

And so Cass loved her, passionately and protectively, because she
could not act.

Della Lent and the Helixes whispered together, and Rice Helix
announced:

"Folks, both these final readings were simply swell, and we all
know what a fine, hard-working actress Letty has always shown
herself to be in a number of plays, but for this particular society
part, we feel that Mrs. Timberlane is not only the best, but golly,
what a high-class best, and we honest to God believe that with the
careful direction we intend to give her, she will put it all over
the original performance that Gertrude Lawrence gave on Broadway.
Welcome to our midst, Jinny; you sure are a great addition to the
local arts.  And now, folks, before we bust up, let's put back the
chairs in order that Mrs. Lent has been so generous and, to not
intentionally make a pun, has lent us for our little try-out, and I
sure am real proud of the showing that ALL you folks have made this
evening, not a bad egg in the basket, as the fellow says, and don't
be discouraged, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, and
don't forget, put back your own chair where it was, we thank you."

The just Judge was staring, wanting to protest, wanting Jinny to
protest, and loving her passionately because she did not know how
bad an actress she was.



The first rehearsal of Skylark was held in the Cyclopean basement
of Cass's Bergheim, with cordwood and ash-cans and shotgun-shell
boxes for furniture.  The first half of it, Cass did not see, and
he was regretful, as he had already forgotten that the flowering of
Jinny's dramatic genius might not be so showy an exhibit.  But he
had to go off to address a dinner of the local Junior Chamber of
Commerce:  "Eat at six, inspiration at seven-fifteen, home at
eight-thirty, all come, special treat this time, Hizzoner Cass
Timberlane on 'The Cultural and Architectural Future of Our City.'"

As a judge, Cass was expected to know everything, and as a knower
of everything, he was expected to hold forth about it publicly, and
as a public forth-holder, he was expected to be a medicinal but
tasty digestive tablet after the chicken croquettes and brick ice
cream.  Oratory is the dearest treasure of the American male as
alimony is of the American female.

Tonight, Cass was prophetic.  He said that some time the City
Planning Commission might really have power, and firmly discourage
the citizens of Grand Republic in their constant ambition to erect
a two-story red-brick bowling-alley, with offices for chiropractors,
between a ten-story limestone bank and the City Hall.  The Junior
Chamber of Commerce, composed of men under thirty-six who expected
some day to belong to the Senior C. of C. and have public esteem,
were slightly shocked by Judge Timberlane's communism.  They
whispered together that "He oughtn't to pull such impractical and
uncommercial ideas on a forward-looking group that are expected to
mold the ideals for the new age of Business and the American Way of
Life."

But his adjectives, his grammar, and the authority in Cass's voice
made them forgive him, and at the end they did that mystic rite,
that flapping together of portions of their anatomies, like locusts
scraping their wing-cases, which is known as applause, and six of
them invited him out for a drink.

The Judge thought that these young husbands were strangely desirous
of staying away from their wives, on their rare evening out, and
after listening to a talking-dog story, he got away from them and
hastened home for the end of the rehearsal.

--Keen to see her work.  Of COURSE Jinny is better than Letty
Vogel.  Mrs. Vogel is too pretentious and arty.  I much prefer to
have Jinny keep her voice clear and melodious, and not crack it
with all sorts of attempts to be emotional.  She'll be wonderful.

--Well, anyway, she'll be all right--as good as any of 'em.

--She could be a great actress or a great anything, if she put her
mind to it.  Her mind is so flexible.

--Love to think of her hair--the way when you see it from behind,
it's scarcely hair at all but some finer fabric.  It's dark and
sleek at the top, but it runs down into waves that you want to
follow with your hand.

--So much!



The author of Skylark, who presumably thought that he had written
high comedy, would have been astonished to learn that, as enacted
by Fred Nimbus, it was a Hollywood demonstration of sultry tropic
passions.

Cass came down the dark stairs to his basement and stood to watch
Fred trying out "business" with Jinny.  He thought that this
business of manhandling Jinny was altogether too businesslike.  He
had no initiation into theatricals nor into midnight studio-
parties; he resented her being mauled.

Fred was, under the directive eye of Mr. Helix but apparently not
needing that expert encouragement, slowly kissing Jinny, her head
back, sidewise and helpless; kissing her long and closely, and
letting his tight-pressing hand slip from her shoulder to her
breast.

Then Cass came into the lighted basement all in one piece, and Cass
spoke.

"Nimbus!  You may quit that now!"

Nimbus quit.

"Helix, it is not necessary for this fellow to act like a thug in a
bawdy-house in order to rehearse a play."

Poor Rice Helix trembled.  "Are you trying to bully me?"

"Of course!  But I think that's all the outburst I'll need.  Go on
with the rehearsal now, and you be a good boy, Nimbus.  Good night,
everybody.  I'm going upstairs and read the Book of Mormon.  Isn't
it curious now that I've never read the Book of Mormon?  Good
night."

And he did read it.  He was not much afraid of what Jinny would be
coming up to say--not more afraid than of the black plague, or
indictment for malfeasance.

When she did come, after the rehearsal, and started with the
inevitable, "Well, of all the--" he plunged.

"Dry up, Jinny.  I know the line.  Ridiculously jealous husband--
crass outsider interfering with the arts.  Will you answer this:
Fred had been pawing you pretty extensively before I came, hadn't
he?  Huh?  Hadn't he?"

She half giggled.  "He was kind of exploratory."

"And I'm not going to have my wife declared a general area for
exploration, with dog-teams and native bearers.  If you'd slapped
Fred, as you should have, I wouldn't have had to make a spectacle
of myself.  Remember that, the next time you go and get modern and
courageous on me, will you?"

She tried her best, with:

"You must admit you were rather middle-class and reactionary and--
Shouting and bullying and carrying on that way, when if you'd been
a man of the world, or believed in the ability of the modern woman
to take care of herself, you'd just of tapped Fred lightly on the
shoulder and said gaily, 'Ease it up, ole boy.'  You know.
Something like that.  Something--uh--suave."

He laughed at her, and she looked unconvinced of her own advice.

"Jinny!  I know I was noisy, but both of you were asking for it.
You didn't think he was measuring you for a raincoat, did you?
Raincoats don't fit that tight.  So!  Kiss me."

She grumbled only a little, and she kissed him with surprising
devotion.

But he knew that it would not last.  He had succeeded for a few
minutes in being masterful, melodramatic, insulting, and all the
other things that a sedentary professional man, married to so
attractive and curiosity-ridden a girl as Jinny Marshland, ought to
be, but he was not easy in the role.



29


He was not unduly intrusive on the other rehearsals, but merely
looked on a moment when he called to drive her home.  He was
pleased to see how patiently Jinny was working; her part letter-
perfect after two weeks, taking direction, merely arguing a little
with Rice Helix when he insisted that a Perfect Lady expressed her
emotions by showing all her teeth and wriggling her fingers as
though a bug was crawling over them.  He was even more pleased that
she was seeing new friends here:  Letty Vogel--who, as she could
not play the lead, earnestly built the scenery, Bernice Claywheel,
wife of the Superintendent of Schools, Dick and Francia Wolke, the
young rabbi, Ned Sarouk, and his wife Nelly, and Jay Laverick, the
flour-miller, the only member of the Federal Club besides Frank
Brightwing who recognized the Masquers.

Cass was puzzled by Fred Nimbus's intentions.  Now, whenever it was
Fred's appalling duty to embrace Jinny, he did so lightly, with
tapping fingers.  But a sour thought occurred to Cass: that Fred
might be taking advantage of that most sound and ancient technique
of the child--knowing that the safest time to steal the jam is when
the family is ashamed of itself for having yelled at it for having
stolen the jam.  It had never quite come to Judge Timberlane that
there are men outside jail who make it a careful and well-funded
business to seduce all the pretty women in sight, and that against
their expert business-methods, an innocent householder is helpless.

"Oh, quit being so ingeniously jealous and let the girl have a good
time," the ardent husband rebuked himself.

He noticed then that it was not the pulpy Nimbus but the gallant
Mr. Jay Laverick with whom Jinny laughed in corners and, between
scenes, danced the rhumba.

Jay Laverick was the town drunk, the town clown, the town tragedy.
He was a widower of forty, and he had inherited the Laverick Flour
Mills.  He was always polite when he was drunk, but unfortunately
he was almost always drunk when he was polite.  No dance at the
Heather Country Club was canonical without the presence of Jay
Laverick, emitting the rebel yell and saying to some aged (and
delighted) matron, "Madame, does my reason totter on her throne, or
are you actually Queen Elizabeth the First?"  When people said, as
people immensely did say, "Poor Jay is drinking himself to death,"
it was not irritably but with affection.

In person he was not the round and beloved comic Irishman but the
sallow and villainous baronet, with a thin dark face and a long
black mustache.  It was to be credited to his inherited Irish
constitution that, against the normal rule, excess of alcohol had
not impaired his powers of love-making.

He was the best flour-salesman north of Minneapolis, and usually
sober in the office.

Not till the rehearsals had Jay and Jinny met, except in crowds.
She liked his bitter capering, his tragic flourishes, his lightly
touching hands, professional touch of the surgeon, the pianist, the
healing saint, or the satyr.

Cass was uncomfortable again--and tired of it.

He told himself: here is this poor girl, business-like in sweater
and slacks, sexless as a nurse, working hard to produce something
beautiful in a blacked-out world.  No gauds and gimcracks; just a
sweater and gray manly trousers.  But--Did Jinny know how fetching,
how conspicuously womanly, she was in a tight sweater?

--Of course she knows it!  All women know things like that.  Their
capital is modesty, but how they do squander it.

--Of course she never even thinks of such a thing, you Pharisee.
You love her, don't you?  Well, then!  How can you insult her with
such suspicions?

--Oh, nuts!  Whoever said there wasn't a lot of wanton in every
good woman?

--Well, I don't like your using the word "wanton" and thinking evil
of--

--Look here!  The monarch who sniffed "Honi soit qui mal y pense"
was not of a notably moral character.  There's nothing shameful
about suspecting that a girl is not displeased when she knows that
she's stirring up a few normal biological reactions by all her
beauties lily-white.  You wouldn't want her to be unworldly to a
point of imbecility, would you?

--Sure!  I wouldn't mind a bit!  Friend, my worship of her IS
unworldly, it has a little of the divine; to me, she is all
womanhood, out of every time and place.

--Yes, yes.  As you say.  But I do wish she wouldn't so perpetually
get herself ambushed by Nimbus and Jay.  Why can't she talk to a
really nice fellow, like Frank Brightwing?

Though Cass saw less of Frank Brightwing than of Roy Drover or
Bradd Criley, there was no one in Grand Republic whom he more
warmly liked.  At thirty-eight, Frank was what is known as a
successful real-estate man; he dealt not in harp-playing and the
design of angels' pinions, as was his nature and as his name
quaintly hinted, but in Lot 13, Block 7; in 2-c garg., r.w., h & c;
in abutments and amortizations and easements.  He had a plush wife
and three medium-grade children, but his excitement was in the
Masquers, and if a play ran for two weeks, then for twelve nights
he went on believing that the hero was as courageous and the
heroine as voluptuous and the comic maid as funny as they said they
were.

Being the worst of actors, as is likely with such a worshiper of
acting, Frank had to be ticket-seller, stage-carpenter, and
assistant electrician, and he was content with life when they let
him hold the book at rehearsals.

Being, remarkably, also the worst of critics, he believed and he
told Cass that they were lucky to have Jinny playing Mrs. Kenyon
instead of Letty Vogel.

"But I thought Mrs. Vogel showed a lot of talent."

"Oh, no, Cass.  You laymen don't understand these technical
problems.  Letty is what we in the theatrical world call 'fuzzy,'
while Jinny is sure of herself--a real type.  Oh, she's out of this
world, Cass."



Over morning coffee, Cass said cheerfully, "Well, Jinny, I guess
our friend Nimbus has laid off you."

"Oh, absolutely.  Sweet Freddy, he's such an obvious lug that he
never gets far."

"You kind of liked him."

"Sure I did.  I like all rats.  They usually know how to kid like
nobody's business, and they have a line.  It's their job."

In English, she meant, "Certainly.  I like all scoundrels.  They
are full of amiable banter."  Her normal use of the swing-age argot
had been increased by association with the violently artistic
Masquers, but Judge Timberlane understood much of her dialect, and
love enlightened where understanding staggered, and increasingly he
used the dialect himself.

"Anyway, I wouldn't ever be half so jealous of Nimbus as of Jay
Laverick.  I imagine you women find him a dashingly tragic figure."

"I'll say!  And how!  And has he fallen for me!"

"Don't take it too seriously.  Jay is a decent fellow with men, but
his record of falling for every female from six to ninety-six is
rather extensive."

"Now don't go and tell me you're going to be really jealous even of
your old friend Jay!"

"How could I be?  Ho, ho!"

"Sweetie pie, that's the falsest-sounding stage-laugh I ever heard.
Now quit it!"

--I told you so!  What did you ever bring it up for?  You knew just
how far you'd get, didn't you?

--I couldn't help it.



Rice and Patty Helix knew their strange art of coaxing people to
give up being themselves and become someone else, not so pleasant.
The play, when it was presented at the high-school auditorium,
actually was a play and not an amateur reading.  Cass found himself
for moments believing that Jinny was this flashing wife of an
acrobatic advertising man and not his own simple girl.

At the opening-night party afterward, at Della Lent's, Cass noted
the following expert dramatic criticisms:

Bradd Criley, lawyer:  "Honest, boy, she was wonderful.  Even I
didn't know there was so much fire in her."

Frank Brightwing, real estate & loans:  "She was ten times better
than Gertrude Lawrence in the role.  I never saw Miss Lawrence in
it, but I know."

Mrs. Gerald Lent, husband-supporter:  "She wasn't bad at all, Cass.
But was that Nimbus lousy!  AND Jay!"

Mrs. John William Prutt, spiritual, social and domestic adviser in
banking:  "Mr. Prutt and I thought she was very fine, Judge.  I do
hope her playacting and the practising don't interfere with her
war-work and the home."

Roy Drover, physician & surgeon:  "It wasn't a bad show, and I
thought Jinny was as good as any of 'em."

Norton Trock, banker:  "Why, Cass, she was simply too, too divine.
She was all right."

Fred Nimbus, radio artist:  "Honestly, Judge, I never could of put
it over like I did if it hadn't been for Mrs. Timberlane's loyal
support."



Jay Laverick kept sober through the rehearsals, the six
performances of the play, and Della's first-night party.  He did
not break down and become natural man till the party at the end of
the run, a gaudy one at Madge Dedrick's.  Champagne.  Though not
imported.  But that night he whooped and held Jinny's hands and
fulsomely kissed her.

Cass was near enough to hear her say "You quit that!" in a manner
so vicious that Jay released her.  She walked over to Cass and
groaned, "Sweet darling, if you ever catch me seeming to encourage
any man again, you beat me."

"I don't think I'll need to."

She was of a forgiving nature, for before the party was over, she
was dancing with Jay, and painlessly.

Bradd Criley muttered to Cass, "For a nice fella, Jay can be such a
jackass.  It takes Jinny to handle him.  What a girl!"

When Cass and Jinny came home at three, she kissed him boldly.  He
was glad that, no matter how other men might flatter her, it was to
him that she turned for true affection.

At dawn, he heard Cleo crying.  When he left the sleeping Jinny and
went down to the little cat, she shivered and nestled against him
and seemed afraid.



The Banner's strictly favorable review of Skylark, written by
Pandora Avondene, admitted that each actor was either Compelling,
Professional, Brilliant, or at least Satisfying.  A second account
in the paper on Sunday reviewed the play as a Social Event and,
whether by accident or through the malice of Abbott Hubbs, wound up
with a gasping announcement.

It revealed that Mr. Fred Nimbus, who had shown such Sterling
Qualities in Skylark, and who had been writing and playing in a
series of radio stories about the Marines, over Station KICH, which
had been so powerful that he was credited with having gained many
recruits, now felt that he did not desire to wait and be drafted,
and he was going to enlist in the Marines himself.

The town cheered.  But Mr. Fred Nimbus did not cheer.  This was all
news to him.

He called up Cass, along with other local rulers, and cried that he
was being railroaded into the service; that Cass must do something
about it; that while he was zealous to go as soon as his number
came up, he had first to settle his affairs.  He did not exactly
have a mother to support, but he did have a maiden aunt.

"They say that if I don't go in voluntarily, the Marines will force
me to.  That's outrageous and undemocratic!" whimpered Fred.

"Nonsense.  Who says they will?" growled Cass.

"Oh, everybody does."

In a way, everybody did.  There was very little masculine
tenderness in town for Mr. Nimbus.  But a number of maidens who had
thrilled to Fred's manly crooning of his own poetic prose came to
serenade him at his boarding-house.  There was no balcony for Fred
to come out on, like Juliet or a young Mussolini, but he mounted a
folding stepladder-chair on the front stoop, and addressed them:

"Dear girls, you move me more than I can attempt to say.  It is to
defend the virtue and happiness of girls like you that I want to
enlist, and I have arranged to do so tomorrow morning, Room 307,
the County Court House, and any of you who care to come, be sure
and be there before ten.  I don't know why you should care for my
poor autograph, but if you'll bring your little books, I'll be glad
to do what I can.  I am so happy that at last I have been able to
arrange my affairs, and I can now rush where the fighting is
thickest."

Next morning one hundred and sixteen females, mostly under
nineteen, filled the corridor and cheered and wept when Fred
appeared at the door of Room 307, looking scared, with a marine
sergeant, looking derisive.

He later denied the sergeant's canard that he had applied for
office work at Marine Headquarters.

Jinny came giggling in to inform Cass that Fred had telephoned
wanting to say good-bye to her privately.

"I'm going to stay right with you all the time he's here!  I won't
have him bothering you!"

"Don't worry, darling.  He's not coming.  I told him to go jump in
the lake," said Jinny, in a refined manner.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

BENJAMIN & PETAL HEARTH


As a member of that earnest sect, the Cross and Crown Covenanters,
Benjamin Hearth had read numerous tracts about wives with quarter-
loaves and half-candles and starving children who waited shivering
at home for drunken husbands, usually coachmen; helpful tracts
written in England in 1880 and still circulated in forward-looking
America in the 1940's.  Benjamin loved to read and to distribute
such tracts, and it never occurred to him that in these liberal
days, the sexes of the drunks could be switched.

He was the junior partner in Hearth & Hearth, the Friendly 
Morticians, once doing the finest and most sympathetic undertaking-
business in Grand Republic but of late eclipsed by that less artistic
outfit, the Larson Funeral Home and Byzantine Interdenominational
Chapel with the Revolving Cross.  He was fat, and fond of beer and
sauerkraut, which afterward he repented, in fits of indigestion and
remembered piety.

His wife, Petal, was a slight, spectacled, prim-looking woman.  She
was also a dipsomaniac, a drunk and a dirty drunk, but to the end
Benjamin never acknowledged this.

He loved her and she him.  Each orgy he accepted as something that
had never occurred before and certainly never could occur again,
and, after hearing her regrets and wails and audible hair-tearing,
he felt himself a sneak to have believed that it had really
occurred this time.  Probably her stomach.  Or her laudable grief
over the sickness of the second child of Cousin Mary, who lived in
Indiana.

Benjamin was, in a genteel and Covenanter way, convivial; he loved
society dinners at six o'clock, with pickled peaches, and grace
said, and a game of mahjong afterwards--but never the immoral
cards, which lead to atheism and vice.  When Petal married him--she
had been substitute telephone girl for the legal firm of Beehouse,
Criley and Anderson, and later a clerk in the linen department of
Tarr's Emporium--she had stepped into a degree of social prestige
beyond her experience.

She had always liked hot gin better than Benjamin could have
guessed, but economy and the necessity of working all day had
prevented her specializing in it.  All of Benjamin's snobbish
friends--most of them had detached houses, and one was a
professional man, Orlo Vay the optician--said that Petal was quite
the lady, with an inspiration in trimming hats.

They did not know her peculiar gift and betrayal: when she was
drunk, she could still sound sober on the telephone.

Not much was suspected till, a couple of years after her marriage,
within one fortnight she had begged off from three different
suppers to which Benjamin and she had been invited, and one that
they were giving, always on the grounds that "Some close relatives
of mine have just arrived unexpectedly from Indiana, this
afternoon."

Her circle felt that that was too many Indiana relatives too
unexpectedly.  George Hame, the court attache, an enterprising and
agnostic fellow, went creeping up to the Hearth nest after one of
these disconcerting refusals and, peeping under a curtain, saw
Petal not entertaining anybody at all, from Indiana or elsewhere,
but flopped on a couch, apparently snoring, while Benjamin sat by
in distress, smoothing his chin.

George reported that to him it looked as though she had "passed out
cold."

Benjamin knew that she had had a drink, "for a bad cold or maybe
it's intestinal flu," but in a blindness of prospering love he had
been fooled by the sobriety with which she had told him that she
had not felt well enough to go out, and had invented the Indiana
kin to save people's feelings.

He was baffled by the famine of social invitations which now set
in.

Petal had enough of the sot's admirable caution to arrange her best
escapes at times when Benjamin was off on funeral duty.  But with
the splendid new friends whom she met in bar-rooms, now that she
had the leisure and the funds, she became less cautious and more
thirsty.  Once, when she had got home safely from a cocktail-joint
in time to get Benjamin's supper and found a note saying that he
would be on duty out on a farm all evening, she felt unusually free
and happy.  She laughed and put on a negligee.  She took out her
private gin bottle, finished the gin, hid the bottle again, felt
dizzy, again found the bottle, and was amazed that it was empty.

In fluttering negligee, she ran out of the house, across the street
through traffic, past two red lights, and into a liquor store.

On her way home, with bottle, a policeman stopped her.  He hinted
that he thought she might have escaped from an asylum, and such was
the shock to her that she screamed and sat on the curb, weeping.  A
young man who had been following her came up to say suavely, "It's
my sister, Officer.  She's had a kind of delirious fever.  I'll get
her home."

The crowd laughed at the spectacle of the drunken woman being half
carried by the young man, while she wept all over him in gratitude.
He did get her into her house, into bed.  What could she do then in
gratitude but throw her arms about him and kiss him?

The patient Benjamin, at his labors in a windy farm-house, knew
nothing of this, ever.

His first enlightenment was later, when he came home from what he
felt to have been a "real beautiful funeral," and found water
soaking through the dining-room ceiling.  Above, in the bathtub,
naked and entirely drunk, singing "The Red Light Rag," was his
Petal.

The severest thing he said to her afterward was "Dearie, promise me
you won't let anybody tempt you to take a drink again.  You're such
an unsuspicious little silly, sweetheart, that you don't realize
what this horrid liquor can do.  Promise Benny you'll never touch
it again, dearie."

"Oh, I promise, I promise--oh, God, my head!" sobbed the damp
Petal.

In sobriety, Petal was a woman most ladylike in her syntax, one who
knew that you must never call perspiration sweat and that to refer
to a pregnancy by any verbal gesture less refined than "the coming
happy event" was a coarse and whorish thing, not to be permitted in
Evangelical circles.  Yet a week after the bathtub, when George
Hame had with some curiosity invited them in for chicken a la king,
she slipped out to the garage with George, had five amazingly quick
drinks, and went back to turn upon Benjamin and pronounce in a
cool, amiable, very sober and interested voice, "Jesus, what a fat
---- you are.  The trouble with you is, your mother took in
washing, and the way the cop on the beat used to pay her for it
was--So don't ever try and pull any of your Sunday-school stuff on
me."

Benjamin was very sorry when she spoke thus.  He explained to
everybody that she didn't mean it at all.  She was just nervous.

He knew now.  Yet such was his love for this woman, who was so
refined and superior, that he would not permit himself to know what
he knew.

Once it was clear that he understood, she became more careless, and
he tended her like a nurse in a private mad house.  He cleaned the
vomit from her shoes, he changed the sheets when she had fouled
their bed, and when she struck him, though he was a massive man, he
wailed, "Oh, don't do that, dearie!  I didn't mean to make you
cross."

She had developed this new and fascinating trait of hitting people,
hitting them quietly and very painfully.  She did it once at their
pastor's house, and that ended any possible resurrection of the
Hearths' social career.

She blamed Benjamin; she said that people could not endure his
vulgar belching.  On that theme she shouted for an hour.  When he
tried to stop her, she shut herself in the locked guest-room, where
she had stored half a case of gin.  Sometimes she screamed at him
through the door, sometimes out of the window at awed neighborhood
children.

Benjamin took to staying away from the business, to guard her.
They became hermits, the lonelier in sitting together spying on
each other.  He knew that she was thinking how she could kill him.

His older brother, Robert, head of the firm, told him that he would
have to have Petal locked up in an institution, or quit the
business.

He quit.

He went to work in the Wargate plant, on war materials, satisfied
with the job of running a band-saw all day, except when he thought
of Petal's misfortunes.  People did not understand her.

For two days, at home, she could get no liquor at all, because he
had given her no money and the stores did not trust her.  Then she
found an old bachelor who was amenable.

When she set fire to their house, Benjamin did have to send her to
a private sanitarium.  He lives now in a hall-room and cooks his
own meals on a kerosene stove, because it takes most of what he
earns to keep her in the sanitarium.  In his room there is but one
ornament: the bridal picture of Petal, in white satin, unstained
and lovely.  Benjamin sits and looks at the picture or at a
newspaper all evening.

The landlady lends him the newspaper.  He feels that he cannot
afford to buy one.

He says that when his dear wife recovers from her mental shock,
which she sustained upon the death of a beloved relative, they are
going out into the country to rent a farm and grow flowers.
Benjamin particularly loves all flowers that look like white satin,
lovely and unstained.



30


There was as yet no wartime gasoline rationing in the Middle-west,
and they had driven, for the beginning of their summer vacation,
north to Ely and the deep woods of the Arrowhead canoe country, up
to Grand Portage, which in the 1790's was the castle of the French
and British fur traders.  You can still see the ghosts of the
voyageurs, in capotes and sashes, toting their canoes at twilight.

They drove back along the vast bright palisades of the North Shore
of Lake Superior to Grand Marais, and up the Gunflint Trail to a
dark lake curtained with pines, where they paddled under a great
sunset that made their voices cleave together in fear of
loneliness, beneath that threatening majesty.

They sat now in their car on the Skyline Boulevard, looking far
down on the city of Duluth and the blue-and-silver vastness of Lake
Superior, that blazing shield of inland ocean.  Across this
narrowed end of the lake, the Wisconsin shore rose into hills, and
on the Minnesota side, to the eastward, the cliffs behind the
smooth uplands of the Hollister Hills were cut by ravines meant for
a western Rip van Winkle.  The air was thinner and more resolute
than the earthy odor of their own inland cornfields and valley
thickets.

Jinny mused, "It's so exciting and lovely, Duluth, between hills
and the sea.  I've loved the whole trip--Grand Marais--the Riviera
towns must lie against the hills like that.  And you've been so
much fun, such a whale of a paddler and fly-caster.  I'm much
obliged to you, sir."

"Best time since our honeymoon, I think.  Look at that ship down
there, headed east."

An ore boat, huge as a liner, was hull-down on the milk-white
eastern horizon; it flickered in straying sun and was presently out
of sight, all but its trail of smoke.

Cass mused, "Tomorrow it will be at the Soo.  I always think
there's a kind of sadness in the passing of ships that we might
have taken to ports with domes and towers and bazaars--and Asian
birds.  But if I were here alone in Duluth, I'd be imagining that
the steamer was sailing off with YOU, at sunset, and I not on it."

"Look!  Here I am.  I'm not on it!"

"I'm glad."

Silver flaws shivered across the lake, and now another great red
ore ship, westward-bound, was coming into sight, with its high
pilot's deck and its coal-filled belly for the furnaces of
Minneapolis and the Dakotas.  Their pensiveness was gone in more
prosaic cheerfulness.

"What a lot of coal there must be in that hold for somebody to
shovel," considered Cass.

"Look, pie.  Let's move to Duluth.  More fun than Grand Republic."

"Nope.  It's too large.  Over a hundred thousand people.  That's
terrible--bad as Chicago or London, almost.  Even Grand Republic is
too big.  I like a place where you can know people."

"And I like a place where there are some people you can know!"

"Now, now, you know plenty in G.R., and you know doggone well you
know you know plenty.  Now don't you!"

"Oh, yes, some nice ones.  Rose and Francia and Lyra and Valerie,
my lively niece, and Nelly Sarouk and the Fliegends and Bradd and
Frank and Rev Gadd and Tracy and Chris and the Blackstaffs."  She
meditated, and added musingly, "And Jay Laverick."

"I could do without quite so much of Jay."

"Oh, do be fair to him, Of course he's something of a pest, but
he's such a queer, lonely specimen--he needs sympathy--and I'm sure
he admires you much more than he does me."

"He must admire me a lot then.  Oh, let's forget Jay."

"Let's. . . .  Poor Jay."

The ore boat, thrice whistling, demanded that the Aerial Bridge be
lifted for its entrance to St. Louis Bay.  And that night they
heard, from their hotel in Duluth, the fog horn--sounding first
like a moaning calf, then like giants moving their giant furniture.

Fog and snorting tug-boats, thought Cass, and great ships upon the
waters!  Some day Jinny and he would know them in Sydney Harbor and
Portsmouth and Rotterdam.



They took, for the rest of the hot summer, a lakeside cottage on
the north shore of Dead Squaw Lake.  It was seven hundred and fifty
feet from the cottage shared by those professional bachelors, Bradd
Criley and Jay Laverick.

This tiny summer colony on Dead Squaw derisively called itself
Mushrat City.  There were a dozen yellow or white shacks, running
mostly to porches, bath-houses, boat-houses, and wooden-floored
tents in which Junior and Sister slept.

Only one of them had a bar, and this was the Laverick-Criley
establishment.  Inside, there were four cots, and a room containing
a divan-bed, ornamented with a silken coverlet and not visibly
used.

In the colony were the Pennlosses, the Drovers, the Brightwings,
the Beecher Filligans, Vincent Osprey, that forward-looking young
lawyer and his backward-looking wife Cerise, and Scott and Juliet
Zago, and into it dipped scores of visitors from the nearby Yacht
Club.

The true American is active even in his inactivities.  The Mushrat
City colonists did not lie indolent watching the slow tides of the
water rise and merge with slow-revolving sky till heaven and earth
were all one sun-hued dream.  No, they swam, they dove, they
sailed, they fished for bass, they drove into town for the movies,
they played bridge, they cooked steak and fish at outdoor grills,
they danced to the radio, they drank considerably and made love
cautiously.

Grand Republic was not a singularly philanderous community, but at
Mushrat City the more earnest strayers had classic surroundings:
deep pine woods, skiffs filled with cushions, and long plank piers
on which lounged the nymphs and fauns of Thessaly, with a few
satyrs.  Yet among them all, only Jay Laverick was ever assailed as
an amorist, and his friend Bradd Criley defended him by insisting
that Jay merely flirted a little to cover up his one passionate
ideal, liquor.

At the neighboring Yacht Club, Dr. Roy Drover said to Bradd, fairly
publicly, "So Jay isn't a chaser, eh?  I don't suppose you are,
either!"

"I certainly am not."

"What about Gillian Brown and Sabine the Gold-digger?"

"Well, what about them?"

"Weren't they seen leaving you two fellows' shack at dawn on
Wednesday?"

"Not by me they weren't.  Did you see them?"

"Not personally."

"Then shut up about it, Roy.  I can tell you confidentially, it's a
lie!"

"Okay by me, Bradd.  It's no skin off my neck, anyway."

The Council of Elders, in the club bar, agreed that Dr. Drover had
been neatly answered.  They went so far as to declare that,
whatever Jay did, Bradd was completely chaste: that is, naturally,
he had a few lady friends in St. Paul or Chicago, but he was
strictly--and in the long run profitably--pure and impersonal with
his women clients, his stenographers, and his friends' wives and
daughters.

All day Mushrat City brawled with children dashing into the lake.
Most of the men were in town, in their offices, except on Saturday
and Sunday, and now, in wartime, many of the women joined them.
Jinny and Rose Pennloss drove in every Wednesday and Friday, to
serve as waitresses in the soldiers' canteen or to take coffee and
sandwiches to the troop-trains.  Cass, with his court closed, went
in thrice a week and served on the ration board and in bond drives.
All of Mushrat City was busy, and the only menace to its morals was
Jay Laverick.

It was unfortunate, thought Cass, that it was Jay whom Jinny found
most entertaining.

But so aboveboard was her liking for Jay, for his dancing, his air
of sardonic liveliness, and so frankly did she talk about him, that
Cass could see it would be very wrong to suspect her.  They could
scarce avoid meeting, with the swimming, tennis, canoeing.  Jinny
was a clean diver, and all afternoon at the Yacht Club, her hands
flashed like nimble daggers as she dealt at bridge, but in all of
these diversions Jay was the champion, when he was partly sober.
Cass assured himself that all this was desirable, and good fun for
Jinny.

But when Pasadena Filligan, Mrs. Beecher Filligan, who herself
liked Jay, gave to his favorite morning drink, gin and bitters, the
nickname of Jin and Jay, and it became current, then Cass was
vexed.



It was obvious that the one safe path for Jinny between empty
boredom and emptier philandering was to have children. "Let's drop
all precautions now and start the family," he blurted.

"Yes, let's," she said.

That was all.



They were having a decorous Sabbath-afternoon walk, Cass and Roy
Drover ambling on ahead of Jinny and Jay.  The Cass who three
months ago would have looked back only to gladden his eye with the
vision of his sweet fair one could not keep from turning his head
for less tender spying.

He saw Jinny and Jay arm in arm.  He saw Jay tuck her hand between
his arm and his side.  He saw Jinny snatch it away, but not too
swiftly, after what seemed to be a laughing debate.

So Cass, the Better Sort of American Husband, unhearing Roy's
important remarks on wild rice as duck-feed, wanted to go back and
beg Jay please not to seduce his wife--please not--it would be so
much friendlier all round if Jay didn't--and would Jinny please
forgive him for mentioning it?

He realized that Jay saw his spying.  Deserting the girl, Jay
galloped up and cried unctuously, "Boys, did you ever have a wild
cat bawl you out?  That's what I've been getting.  Jinny has been
giving me hell for trying to make Pasadena Filligan.  Depict that,
will you?  And me never so much as wondering whether Pas would or
wouldn't.  All I know is, she's a good tennis partner.  I should
chase her, or any other woman in G.R., when I already got a girl in
Fergus.  You know I have a branch office there.  Oh, damn all
women, even your brainy wife, Cass.  Say, uh, Roy, is the health
commissioner going to get after the sewers down by my mill?"

But Jinny was walking airily, heel and toe, with a small smug smile
as the jaunty banner of her thoughts.  She looked so gay!  Cass
ached with the sense of all the monsters that might be coiling
around her recklessness.

--I'd hate to have her get involved, and go the smeary way of all
loose women.  For my own honor, if there is such a thing, but more
for HER honor and contentment.  It would kill me to see that secure
smiling of hers turn diffident and scared and appealing.  Dear
Jinny, don't be a fool.  And that's the one thing I can't ask you
not to be.

So these provincial and middle-class and uncomplex Sunday-afternoon
strollers, a rural magistrate and his bourgeois friends and his
little country wife, obviously ungifted for the passions and
spiritual tortures of Bohemia or Mayfair or the boulevards,
straggled through the humble, sun-quivering balsam aisles, and up
to the Timberlane summer-cottage on the weedy lake-shore.

The cottage, of pine clapboards apparently once painted green, was
airy as a birdcage.  The roof sloped out over the screened porch,
which made up half the house and served as lounge, dining-room,
observation-post for recording the doings of the Filligans and the
Ospreys, on either side, and as Cass's bedroom, with a frame and
mattress swinging from four steel chains.  Inside the house were
only a squat living-room, with a preposterous granite fireplace,
Jinny's narrow bedroom, the kitchen, with a kerosene stove, and a
toilet with a homemade shower-bath.  Mrs. Higbee and Cleo had a
one-room tarpaper shack to themselves, behind the main house.  Cleo
had become a sinister young huntress, a chipmunk-stalker and a
dabbler after fish.

The whole establishment was more camp than residence, and it caught
the scent of pines, the breezes that were always fleeing in
pretended panic from the lively colored, fresh-smelling lake.

Ah let us to the country hie, and seek an humble home, we little
care for marble halls and the woes of Tyre and Rome.  Here
peacefulness and fruitfulness and family concord glow, and hearts
of happy harvesters with simple joys o'erflow.  Ah, well we wot, we
city slaves, we pay a bitter scot for our tempestuous tragedies:
thank God, THEY know them not!  Ibid.

When they came up to the cottage, Cass looked beseechingly at Jay,
hoping that he would have the sense to go home.  This was no Fred
Nimbus whom he could bully.  Jay had enough skill in his trade of
village gallant to be able to answer, "I don't know what you're
talking about.  Do I understand you to mean that your wife, whom
I had supposed you to respect and honor as I do, is an unchaste
woman, or such a fool that any passer-by can mislead her?"

Oh, yes, he could kill Laverick, but he could never shame him,
never frighten him.

"How about a little bridge, the four of us?" Jay said sunnily.

"Not for me.  I don't feel like it.  I just want to sit and chew
the rag with Roy," said Cass.

"Fine.  Jinny, here's your chance to teach me some chess.  You must
have learned enough from ole Cass by now to be fairly good.  We'll
go up on the porch, like little mice, and not disturb the Big
Boys."

"Wonderful!" chirruped Jinny.

Cass and Roy sat sourly out under the trees, on a sawbuck and a
wheelbarrow.

Roy grumbled, "It's none of my business, but don't you know that
Jay isn't the kind of buzzsaw for little ladies to monkey with?"

"Jay has a good line; he amuses her.  But he's perfectly harmless."

"Oh, yeah?  Better make sure he doesn't amuse her too much.  Now
don't get sore.  I'm not going to butt in any farther.  But just
ask Pas Filligan--or better yet, ask her husband--just how harmless
Jay is.  Well, here's where I go over and turn in and get a nap.
So long. . . .  Bye, Jinny! . . .  She never heard me."

Cass sat alone on the sawbuck, a seat too narrow for comfort but
surrounded by spruce chips and sawdust with a friendly smell.  He
wanted some such small homeliness, for he was picturing a menacing
procession.

--Tracy Olesen, Eino Roskinen, Abbott Hubbs, Bertie Eisenherz, Fred
Nimbus, Jay Laverick.  None of them dangerous, but I wish she
weren't quite so enthusiastic about the virtues of quite so many
nonentities.

When Jay was gone, Cass and Jinny swam out to the farther float.
He had a crawl-stroke, steady and uninspired as the pounding of a
freight-steamer, untiring and faster than it looked.  She flirted
with the water like a sail boat.  They sat then on the narrow sand-
beach, baking.  She was tanned a soft brown; he, in his trunks,
chest hard and arching, was of a coppery red-Indian hue.  Relaxed
thus, it was easier for him to blurt it all out:

"Sweet, I'm not jealous of Jay, but he's around here too much.  A
bold desperado, that fellow.  He always keeps it up till somebody
slaps him down.  Won't you do it for me?"

"Oh, good Heavens, just because I enjoy playing tennis with him,
and he talks amusingly--"

"Quit that!"

"WHAT?"

"I know all his virtues better than you do.  He's been conspicuously
displaying them for a long time now.  But you know and I know that
he's on the make, and what's worse, he knows perfectly well that we
know it, and if we allow him around here at all, we practically
confirm his ethics.  I wish you'd tell him yourself to quit acting
the up-creek Casanova."

"Why, dearest, of course I will, if you want me to, though I
honestly don't think he has any yen for me whatever.  He's far too
much interested in Pas Filligan."  Her eyes were suddenly fixed and
angry.  "Blast her!"

"Why, Jinny, you aren't THAT much taken with him?  You aren't
jealous of Pas?"

"What?  How?  Of Pas?  Heavens, no!  I just meant I was irritated
by the whole gang of them--the Filligans and Jay and the whole
bunch.  Aah!  They're so sloppy.  You're right.  You're single-
minded and good."

That night he lay relaxed and secure, listening to the wind in the
pines, far in the north beside the lonely lake.



She chastened the petitionary Mr. Laverick simply and with dreadful
effectiveness.  At a Yacht Club dance; the next Saturday, when Jay
was being especially attentive, she yelled publicly, "Why, Mr.
La-ver-ick, are you trying to flirt with me?  Back to your Irish
bogs, ye little black divvle."

She knew that the one thing about which Jay was sensitive was the
extreme boggishness of his swarthy paternal grandfather, who had
been born between nothing and an east wind.  When he had migrated
to America, he had worked on a railroad section-gang, and had died
in a kennel called The Pipes of Erin, which was a Swedish-owned
German saloon and Chinese chop-suey joint on Washington Avenue, in
Minneapolis.

Jay left her flat, and went to the bar.  The good Judge was
surprised to find how pleased he was by her rudeness.

He spoke to Bradd Criley.

"I wish you'd have a talk with your friend Jay.  He buzzes around
Jinny entirely too much."

"I certainly will.  I'm fond of Jay, and he isn't as bad as he acts
but he is a crazy fool.  I won't tell him you spoke to me, Cass.
I'll just say I admire Jinny, and will he lay off, or else."

"Thank you, Bradd."

"And of course it's true.  I've always loved Jinny like an uncle,
and I want to protect her almost as much as you do."

"I'm sure of it, and I'm mighty grateful."

So the truce of God was proclaimed, and Cass and Jinny were
trusting lovers again, sitting in the northern twilight, with Cleo
slipping ghost-like among the trees.

They settled to village peace by the lake, content with humbler
establishments than the summer estates of the Wargates or Bertie
Eisenherz, who had a small lake of his own.  With Bertie, Jinny had
learned what trans-Atlantic passengers learn: that you never see
vacation-time intimates except on the street.

When she gave up the ways of dalliance, she went out for swimming
so powerfully that she became a threat to the lady Olympic
champions--for two weeks.

At all sports she was more deft and quick-learning and natural than
Cass.  She dived, played tennis and golf, rode, paddled, with joy
and style and innate talent, and with innate sloppiness Cass was
awkward at learning, and he gave no signs of particularly enjoying
these games, but he mastered them better than Jinny, and he wanted
to keep on picking away at them long after she was bored.

But all such competition vanished in the problems of comparative
wealth.  Cass had become rich--for Cass.



31


He came back from town, he yelled "Jin-nee!" in front of their
summer cottage, and brought her tumbling down out of an old
crabapple tree where she had been curled up asleep, with Cleo
asleep in her arms.

"Jinny," he inquired, "would you think one hundred and ten thousand
dollars was a lot of money?"

"I would think anything over five dollars was a lot of money.
Why?"

"That is the fabulous sum we now possess."

"Money!  Dresses!  Singhalese scarfs!  A red collar for Cleo!  A
'Liebestodt' record!  Has somebody been bribing you?  Oh, goody!"

"Nothing as interesting as that.  Mm.  Howl would hate to have
somebody offer me a hundred-thousand-dollar bribe!  I'd have to
refuse it--"

"Why?"

"Oh, you know."

"No, I don't!  Why?"

"I can't explain why, but I would, of course,"

"How about TWO hundred thousand?"

"Now don't go on raising.  I just refused one hundred thousand,
didn't I?  Let's say hastily that we've proved the principle, and
get on with the experiment."

"But honestly, what would be your limit?"

"Jinny, how much would you want for selling your virtue?"

"To which man?"

"Say just an average man."

"Do you mean indoors or outdoors?"

"Say outdoors."

"Do you mean on a summer night like this, with a full moon, or a
night in January--Ah, poor sweet, you don't really think that's
funny, DO you!"

"But listen now.  This hundred thousand that we already have--"

"And ten!"

"AND ten.  My father left me enough so I've been able to keep about
fifty thousand dollars ahead, put away in good securities.  And he
also left me that block of stores and flats down in the South End.
Here lately, they were almost empty, paying me almost nothing, but
with Wargate's and the other factories doubling war production,
there's come to be a big shortage in housing in the South End, and
today Frank Brightwing told me he can get sixty thousand dollars
for the property, spot-cash, and I'd 've said it wasn't worth more
than thirty.  Oh, Lord!"

"You're not glad.  You don't want to do it?"

"I have done it.  I have a nice check for sixty thousand dollars,
minus three-thousand commission, in my pocket."

"Oh, lemme see, lemme see, lemme see, good gracious sakes, let me
see that lovely thing!"

Together, solemnly, they looked at the meager slip of paper on
which was written "Fifty-seven thousand ($57,000 & 00/100)" and
which, by the magic of this credulous era, would trustingly be
accepted by strangers in return for brick houses and roasts of beef
and tickets to Hamlet and safety for death-haunted refugees from
tyranny.

Jinny said reverently, "Now is that a pretty trick!  Hey--wait!  Do
you mean to tell me Frank Brightwing gets three thousand dollars of
our money?  Why, I call that scandalous!  But a minute ago--Why
were you oh-Lording?  A thing like that elegant piece of paper, I
should think it would be something that all the angels would
rejoice over, and even Ma Prutt would look halfway pleased.  Why so
pale and wan, young capitalist?"

"Oh, I dunno--to get this increased price--it seems like
profiteering on the war.  Of course I can put most of it into war
bonds--"

No criminal lawyer has ever attacked more fierily than did Jinny.
Cass was smothered.  She tore him down from thirty-five thousand
dollars of war bonds to five, and nearly had him down to three, and
within half an hour, without knowing better than any layman how the
contract had been put over, he had pledged himself to his boss to
invest another five thousand in more speculative stocks, put forty-
five thousand into a new house and the appertaining furniture, and
devote two thousand to their strictly private blowing-in.

He fretted that Jinny was not overly generous in her patriotism,
but then he fretted that none of them were.  Like almost every
other Good Citizen at any time, he did very little except the
fretting.

He did not know that he was committed, beyond the power of the
court, to buying the new house and deserting the ancient comfort of
Bergheim.  He believed that he was "still thinking it over," and in
the security of that belief he went to sleep, that night, while
inside the cottage she sat brooding for hours, her small hands, so
apt at pencil, at golf-stick, at the hammer, clutched ardently,
like a child's, round her knees.  She stared at a candle till the
tallow took shapes of towers and spires, of ocean steamers and
flaunting bridges, of studios in Paris, of a great stage in New
York and a little exciting figure in the center.

He awoke on his porch-swing to peer in at her, and clumped in to
kiss her excited cheeks, her clasped hands.  She circled his neck
with bare arms, muttering, "Never any one but you, my darling.  I
do want a lot of silly things, and you give them to me, but I want
you more.  I wish sometimes it could be I who give, and not always
you."



The debate about buying a new house started all over again next
morning, as already-thoroughly-settled domestic debates always do.

Cass said profoundly, "Uh--uh--About buying a new house.  And of
course, with wartime restrictions, it will be impossible to build
one.  And I don't honestly see any likelihood of our caring for a
house that somebody else has arranged to suit themselves.  Do you
see?"

"Yes, it--I think this grape fruit and orange marmalade knocks the
spot off straight orange.  You, Cleo, you get off this table, and
don't knock over Isis, either."

"I think it's absolutely superstitious of you, if not infantile, to
have that crystal image always in sight, honey."

"Isn't it though!  See Frazer, The Golden Bough.  Yes.  You know,
we'll have trouble making room enough for all your books in the new
house, WHICHEVER one we get."

"But I don't--That's what I want to talk about."

"I knew it, I knew it, oh, my pet, I absolutely knew it.  I said to
a robin, when I woke this morning, I said, 'Robin, I'll bet you two
worms that Mr. Timberlane will want to talk about the insanity of
buying a new house.'"

"Well, I do."

"Do what, Judge?"

"Think so."

"Think what?"

"That we must consider very carefully whether we really want to do
this.  We have a very fine old house now, and to get a new one
would be spending our CAPITAL."

"But you can sell the old one."

"I don't know whether that would be so easy."

"But if it's such a grand fine old place as you say?"

"Yes, yes, that's--Have to protect our capital.  I might very
easily be defeated for judge at the next election, and then what
would we have to live on?"

"You might practise a little law and make a--what is it? a
modicum?--maybe about five times as much as your present salary,
and so we'd get along?"

"Maybe."

"Darling!"  She stopped being flippant; she spoke like the first
young cavewoman in the morning of history who resolved that her
mate and she must leave their damp cave on the hillside and
struggle down into the bright dangerous plains.  "Let's be young
while we're still young!"

"I know," he said.

"Let's get a house in the Country Club District--if we can find
one, I mean, that isn't too expensive--gay and shiny and lots of
light--not like our old morgue in town."

"Bergheim isn't a morgue."

"The corpses never know that a morgue is a morgue."

"I didn't know you felt that way about it."

"I didn't, till this minute.  And you know, really the chief thing
I'm thinking about is how much more convenient a modern kitchen
would be for Mrs. Higbee."

"Overruled."

"Well, anyway, I did think some about it, and some about me
entertaining in a Spanish drawing-room, looking like the Duchess of
Windsor."

"Baby, you're either as childish as Juliet Zago, or--You really
want a new house?"

"Yes."

"I'll think about it."

They knew what that meant.



He drove into town and, as though he had not seen it for several
years, he stared at Bergheim, his boyhood notion of a castle, his
first citadel as a citizen, a counselor, a judge, the lifelong
repository of his dreams, filled with contradictory and devastating
memories of Blanche and Jinny.

He clumped through the house--noticing how surprisingly much cat-
hair Cleo had managed to leave on the chairs--and he was certain
that he would miss these solid walls, these uncramped rooms, the
irregular hallways and unexpected closets.  In the backyard he
admired the carriage-house with its haughty cupola which, as a boy,
he had considered the seal of elegance.  He mooned over the
espaliered pears, the thick and comfortable backyard grass that
takes a generation to grow, the view from the bluff across twin
valleys.  He knew here a little of the tradition that makes a
Leicestershire squire, a Silesian Junker, a gentleman of Touraine
quiet and enduring and dangerous.

This Country Club District that Jinny coveted--it was a parvenu
colony next to the Heather golf course, on a peninsula thrust out
from the south shore of Dead Squaw Lake.  This "brand-new, up-to-
the-second, streamlined home-development for gracious living" had
been planned for the sons of Ottawa Heights, the grandsons of the
extravagant mansions on Beltrami Avenue South, and newcomers who
had wriggled their way into this three-whole-generations
aristocracy.  The houses there were sleek and well planned; they
had steel-and-glass kitchens and tinted toilet-paper; but they were
too close together, too small, too much like hotel-suites.

Thus meditating, he returned to Mushrat City, to coax Jinny please
not to buy a house but do a lot of striking things with paint at
Bergheim.

She met him clamoring, "Beautiful, Pas Filligan says she thinks
we'd like the Simmers house--you know, that Spanish-hacienda number
just beyond the Heather Club.  She says the inside is wonderful and
behind it," reverently, "there's a swimming-pool!  Lemme in the
car, lemme in!  Let's go see it right now.  There's a key at the
club.  Let's go!"

Somehow, as they drove round the lake, Cass could not advocate
painting the Bergheim kitchen, and putting tin over the major rat-
holes, as a substitute for a hacienda-house with a swimming-pool.

And it was quite a house, too.

From the front they saw a roof of alternate red and yellow tiles, a
wooden ox-bow with two ship's-lanterns suspended from it, and an
outside cement stairway leading down to a honeysuckle bush that was
not really remarkable enough to have a special stairway for it.

--Mm.  They probably use the stairs for jumping off into snowdrifts
in winter.

He was rigidly silent; she was silent like a head-turning little
bird, as they went through the place.  The rooms were small and,
with tiled floors and imitation-antique beams, as oppressive as
cells.  Above the Mexican fireplace in the living-room a long crack
in the wall showed that, after only ten years, the house was
sinking.  They considered the kitchen, daintily done in pink,
green, dark blue, and bronze, and went out to the swimming-pool,
which was a nothingness lined with cracked cement.

Then Jinny spoke, tenderly.

"All right, all right, Judge.  I always did think it was a mistake
for us to invite Cortez over."

But it seemed to be understood between them that, since she had so
freely rejected this horror, he could not suggest that they should
not buy a new house at all.

They knew the house hunter's shameless joy of intrusion; of looking
into closets full of forlorn clothes, medicine cabinets with
surprising accessories, sumptuous wine-closets that contained
nothing but a bottle and a half of rye and one can of sardines.
They studied and extensively talked about terraces, tennis courts,
linen closets, automatic-feed furnaces, "breakfast nooks," and
basements which, containing pool tables and home-made bars, were
appallingly known as "rumpus-rooms."

Frank Brightwing, their real-estate expert, grew irritable, Cass
was exhausted, but Jinny strode on, unquenchable.  She could
examine the eighteenth closet in sequence with undiminished
enthusiasm, and three days later could remember the dimensions of
each closet and how many hangers there were in it and whether it
had a full-length mirror in the door.  It did not, however, occur
to Frank or to Cass that, with the opportunity, she would have been
a better real-estate man than either of them.

They decided quite suddenly on a house, in the Country Club
District, which they had twice dismissed as "too plain" and now saw
as dignified in its simplicity: a plaster house with a flat roof
and drawing-room windows down to the floor; what Brightwing called
"a fine restrained example of the French-type house."  It could
just as well have been called an English-type house, a Lombardy-
type house, or a Salzkammergut-type house; it was, in fact, a
plaster house.  It had almost as many closets as Jinny wanted,
almost as much radiator-surface as Cass wanted, a cubbyhole for
Cass's desk, and a good view across the lake.

Jinny said that the long windows would be "nice for a lawn-party--
people can run in and out."  Cass thought it would be abominable to
have people running in and out, whether through doors, windows or
chimneys, and he considered floor-length windows a wretched idea
for Minnesota winters.  But if she was happy, then so was he.

The house had been built for Harold W. Whittick, owner of Station
KICH, who had moved into a flat in one of the few apartment houses
in Grand Republic, to be near his radio station--or, as he put it,
"to the transmission of the critical bulletins of this portentous
hour of conflict."

Neither Cass nor Harold W. Whittick knew that Groseilliers and
Radisson, possibly the first white men in Minnesota, had camped
upon this site in 1660.  It is a pity that Harold did not know.
He might have given those explorers the most gratifying publicity
throughout this rich agricultural and dairying section with
convenient access to all railroads and wholesale markets.



In treachery to her years at Bergheim, Mrs. Higbee placidly
preferred the new house and the new kitchen, and perhaps Isis did
also--she did not indicate.  But Cleo was melancholy about it.

Jinny insisted on their taking a special journey from Mushrat City
to show Cleo her new home, and when Cass objected that the
government wanted them to save gasoline, Jinny explained, "Now do
you suppose the President is going to say to the Secretary of War,
'Look, Harry, there's that dratted Jinny Marshland wasting gas on a
cat?'  I bet they won't even notice."

It was not easy to convince Jinny that Cleo might be so occupied in
her office of grand inquisitor to the heretic field mice that she
could endure waiting another day.

When Cleo did actually see the place, she was difficult about it.
They followed her while she examined every room.  She repeatedly
stopped to ask "Meow?" in a way that said, "Is this all?"

There were--Cleo counted them--not so many rooms as at Bergheim.
There were no unlighted closets, no dark attic stairs, no exquisite
dark triangles of space under the eaves, no trapdoors, no earth-
floored corners in the basement, no place at all where a
respectable cat might expect mice or beetles, or could hide from a
harsh and mocking world.

"I suppose you sympathize with that animal," sighed Jinny, in a sad
little voice.

"No, no," Cass lied.  "Maybe we'll miss the old barracks for a
while, but I already love this place more, because you're more in
it, in every line."

So Cleo went off in a huff and was found in the empty garage,
growling.



They would use but little furniture from Bergheim in the new house;
they would leave the old castle as it was, and rent it till it
should be sold.  They had their sprees of buying, in Grand
Republic, in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and then, in mid-August, he
blurted out the plan that he had been nursing.

Except for the Florida journey, she had still never been east of
Chicago.

"We'll have to wait for all the new furnishings to arrive, and
meanwhile, what do you say to our taking another honeymoon trip?"
he said.

"Do you think we ought to?  Spending so much money--we'll have to
economize.  Oh.  I MUST remember to turn off the lights when I
leave a room."

"But later we may not get much chance--be less and less travel with
the war on and--suppose the trip I was thinking of was to New
York?"

"New York!" she said reverently.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

NESTOR & FANNY PURDWIN



Nestor Purdwin was born in an October gale in Illinois in 1871.  He
came to Minnesota in a blizzard in 1890, and married Fanny Clark
during an April freshet in 1891, with the roads deplorable but the
horizon clear.

He was next-to-the-best criminal lawyer in Grand Republic, and he
was honest.  He never knowingly declared that a scoundrel or a man
of cruelty was harmless, though he might assert that there were
excuses for him.  He represented many of the labor unions, but he
was also summoned by corporations in civil cases, because they
often needed an adviser who could say No.

He was a middleroad-to-leftwing Democrat and a convinced
Episcopalian.  He detested Sweeney Fishberg for being a Jew, an
Irishman, a Catholic, a mystic, and a Communist.  In the old days,
when he had once been associated in a trial with Clarence Darrow,
he had detested Darrow for being an agnostic and a socialist-
anarchist-syndicalist-populist.  Yet in most suits and on most
committees he had somehow found himself standing with Fishberg and
Darrow, and when the veteran liberal, Salem Volk, from Queen City,
came to town, he stayed, often and argumentatively, with the
Purdwins.

He was always roaring.  He roared equally against high-church
rectors named Cecil and Four Square Gospellers named Pete, against
tabloid newspapers and glossy magazines and "fool women who are too
lazy to read the papers and magazines."

He had never gone to college, but he read Plato, Voltaire,
Alexander Pope, Mencken, Bernard Shaw, and Sir Thomas Browne.

Fanny and he had been married for fifty years, and had bickered
continuously in a tart, humorous, satisfied way, and she never
failed to defend him against everybody else with whom he bickered.

"Yes, I know how cranky he must 've been to you.  The man is worse
than a bear in a beehive.  But don't tell ME about it.  I love
him."

When Judge Blackstaff was reported as having said that Mr. Purdwin
was "not a gentleman," Fanny mused, "Ain't he?  That's good.
Neither am I."

For fifty years they had slept in an immense, bosomy double-bed.
His parting kiss to her each morning was a testy little peck on the
lips, but if he forgot it, she was grieved for an hour--but never
for more than an hour--and she never reproached him for it.

Exactly once in the fifty years he had tried an extra-matrimonial
experiment with a hotel stenographer.  He had neither enjoyed it,
repeated it, nor told her about it.

He loved porridge for breakfast, and every morning, three hundred
and sixty-five mornings a year, they had porridge.  It was after
thirty-two years of it that Fanny reported, a bit reluctantly, "I
think I'm beginning to like the nasty stuff."



32


The Timberlanes followed the ancient line of provincial tourists
going to the capitals:  Boeotians to Athens, Tatar caravans to
Tibet, Artie and Mrs. Beppin of the Five Towns to London: excited,
credulous, terrified of the boorishness and cheating that they
expected to encounter.

The question, ancient before the first woman from Petra went up to
Jerusalem, of whether Jinny should have new dresses made at home or
get them more splendidly in the metropolis, was as usual
compromised.  She bought a gray suit that Harley Bozard assured her
was a "fast little number, just in from New York," and left the
rest for Babylon.

Their train from Chicago to New York was an arrow of light.  They
had a compartment, this time, and none of their honeymoon
apprehension.  The train was filled with the most beautiful people,
lovely girls, saintly old ladies, smooth but stalwart men with
clothes and shell-rimmed spectacles and wrist-watches right out of
the magazine advertisements.

Cass let himself relax and enjoy it.  In his days in Congress he
had not gone to New York often enough to be weary of it, and he was
all holiday.  He spoke not only to the Pullman porter, to whom it
was no novelty, but to a clergyman and a traveling-man, and when a
man in herring-bone tweed invited him to play bridge, and chuckled,
"I warn you, though, the wife and I are professional gamblers,"
Cass answered, "My wife certainly is.  She gambled on marrying me."

The man thought that was a pretty good joke.

The man said to his wife, "Our new friend here has made a pretty
good joke."

She said, "Come on now--don't be a tightwad--what's his pretty good
joke?"

"He said the little woman took a worse risk in getting hitched to
him than she ever did in bridge."

"Yes, and what a gamble HE took on getting YOU to handle the rights
to his pretty good joke.  Let's go!"

They played bridge through sixteen counties and forty-two college
towns of Ohio, and had four Scotch highballs and shook hands all
round.  Jinny had won sixty-two cents and a lipstick, and Cass had
lost one dollar.

"I'm a little drunk," he said with self-approval, as they wove into
their compartment.

"You get younger every day.  When I first met you, you were sixty-
one.  Now you're a bright thirty-four," she approved.

They were up early.  People from Grand Republic do get up at the
most surprising times and places.  Along the Hudson, the river of
Presidents, Jinny was thrilled by West Point, the Taj Mahal, and
the leaves of Vallombrosa.  Suddenly there was an apartment house
twenty stories high, and he exulted, "This is it!"  She held his
hand softly, and whispered, "I love you!"

But the Grand Central Terminal was too much for her: an underground
city in which all the inhabitants were going to a fire.  She clung
to her stalwart Cass, a fellow who could beat off these shoving
maniacs, as they doubtfully gave their precious, so-neatly-packed
bags over to a redcap, dotted up an incline, crossed through an
incredible room a thousand feet tall, and took a taxicab, not in
the wholesome fresh air but in a tunnel.  In the taxi she still
snuggled close to him for protection, and fluttered, "I'm going to
have a magnificent time, but let me catch my breath.  Does it get
any worse?"

As they blessedly came out into the light, she found that part of
the taxi roof was of glass, and she gazed up in beatific idiocy.

"Look!  Up there!  That must be the Empire State Building or the
Wrigley Building or something!  Oh, jiminy, they are high.  You
know--high!  I never felt so small.  Don't you dare leave me one
minute all the time we're here!"

She was less exalted when the taxicab stopped meechingly at the
Melchester Arms, which Bradd Criley, as an expert on New York, had
recommended.  "It's smaller and less expensive, but it's one of the
smartest hotels in town," he said.  "That's where the real New
Yorkers go, say while they're opening up their apartments in the
fall."  (Actually, the only native New Yorkers who frequented the
Melchester were clothes-pressers, jobbing barbers, and telegraph
messengers.)

It was a smaller hotel and rather plainer than the Pineland, back
home, and the lobby was a block of darkness surrounding a large oak
table with piles of magazines about travel and the Y.M.C.A. upon
it.  The clerk was a short, scaly, ill-disposed man with that thin
and revelatory hair which is balder than baldness.  He looked up at
them as though he was getting good and tired of having strangers
come in and speak to him without an introduction.

"I, uh--we have a reservation for a two-room suite," said Cass.

"What is the name?"

"Timberlane.  Grand Republic.  Minnesota."

The clerk, after having looked painstakingly through a file of
cards containing names beginning with I and E, sighed, "What was
that name again?"

"Timberlane."

"Oh.  I see!  With a T.  Tamburlaine."

"No, no.  TIMBERLANE.  Tamburlaine is from Marlowe."

"Well, we get a lot of people from Marlowe, too.  The Melchester is
a great favorite with all you folks from the Middle-west."

As he laboriously went at the cards again, Jinny muttered, Why
don't you tell him you're a judge and an ex-congressman, and give
him a good time?  He needs one."

"Kitten, in this town, everybody's an ex-congressman.  We're just a
couple of rural nobodies."

"And how!  This suit that Harley sold me--I'm beginning to find
potato bugs and alfalfa seeds in it.  But Aloysius here is no
Vanderbilt.  I suppose New York has the biggest everything--even
the biggest hicks.  Let me slap him, darling, just once."

The clerk turned to them again and said accusingly, "TIMBERLANE,
that's the name!"

"That's so," admitted Cass.

"Front!" said the clerk, suspiciously.

The elderly bellboy awoke from his dreams of the Civil War,
conducted them to their suite, and gloomily accepted fifty cents.
He was barely gone when Jinny protested, "Four bits?  For that
jerk?  I'd of brought the bags up for ten cents!  There you go,
being the typical tourist you read about, overtipping and hurling
thousands of dollars around when you have a greedy wife that could
use it for luncheon-sets.  Okay.  Bankrupt the firm and see if I
care."

They had recovered the gaiety which had been dimmed in the hotel
lobby, and they went down, arm in arm, to ask of the clerk where
they could get theater tickets for tonight.

Maybe there was a ticket agency, over on Sixth Avenue and down
three blocks?  How would he know?  He was busy, and really it
wasn't his job--

They left him hastily and at the agency inquired benevolently, like
people willing to spend their money and confer a favor, whether for
tonight they could get superior seats for Life with Father or for
Arsenic and Old Lace.

The agent said genially, "You folks from out of town?"

"How did you guess it?" Jinny said viciously.

He looked at her, unanswering, he winked at her husband, and he
offered, "I can get you tickets for either show for about the
middle of next November.  What you want for tonight is Slips and
Slippers."

"Do we?" worried Cass.

"Maybe not.  I wouldn't know.  All I'm telling you is that it's the
best musical in New York for ten years, and I happen to have two
good seats, but if you don't want 'em--"

The seats cost $6.60 each.

When they were outside, Jinny begged, "Have you any room in your
vest-pocket, now you've taken out all that money?"

"Why?"

"That rat made me feel so small when he winked at you that I could
fit right in alongside your watch now.  Jinny isn't up to this
town.  They got street-cars and everything.  Could we go back to
Grand Republic right after the show tonight?  Slips and Slippers!
Six-sixty!  Look!  He meant sixty-six cents, didn't he?"



Their train had arrived in mid-morning.  All day they viewed New
York, by bus and elevated and taxicab.  There was so fabulously
much to master that they felt they would never master any of it.
To them it was all a jungle-spawning of people and buildings,
fierce and purposeless.  The tempo of the city rattled them: the
quick turn of everyone's head, the hard glance, the high nasal
intensity of the voices.

They came back to their hotel suite--correct enough in its white
paneling, but inhuman--and fell desperately asleep and awakened
almost too late for their musical show.  Jinny insisted that it was
Isis, continuing her education by staring out of the window at the
Manhattan streets, who had aroused them.

They reasoned that it would be clever to have a sandwich within
walking-distance of the theater, and dine sumptuously at some gaudy
restaurant afterward.  Cass told Jinny that he had been responsibly
informed that in Madrid people dined as late as ten-thirty.
Probably even eleven.  She said brightly, Yes, she had heard so.

It made them feel that they were already in Europe.

They found a Broadway restaurant the size of Grand Republic, with
lovely black and red signs announcing that here one might have
sandwiches made of smoked turkey, caviar, deviled ham with chives,
or sixteen other rich materials.  Nothing like this at home! they
rejoiced.

The farther hill-country of the interior of the restaurant was
filled with daises, mezzanines, balconies, and quarter-decks, while
the valley was jammed with circular bars, S-shaped lunch-counters,
wall-seats, divans, and booths, and all of these filled, and twenty
people herded at the door waiting, apologetic for wanting to eat
during wartime, while the restaurant's private supreme court looked
at the trespassers punitively.  With the other prisoners waited
Judge and Mrs. Timberlane.  They felt that there was something
obscene about wanting to eat at all, in this choking atmosphere of
corned beef and cabbage, among this queue of dehumanized serfs who
had no longer any power of resentment.

Jinny answered something that Cass hadn't yet even said with,
"You're telling ME you like Grand Republic better!"

When they were finally herded to a table for two, they found that
by merely cutting off one arm and one leg each, and balancing the
glass of water on the sandwich plate which rested on the unordered
and unwanted plate of shredded cabbage under which were tucked the
knives and forks and the paper napkins, they could manage very
well.

Their sandwiches were called Oaxaca Specials, and among other ores
they recognized bacon, peanut butter, currant jelly, chicken feet
and iodine.  It cost one dollar.

EACH of the sandwiches cost one dollar.

Jinny whimpered, "About that Grand Republic now.  I shall never
leave it again.  Oh, that beautiful, beautiful hash we used to
have, back in civilization!"

On the Street again, she speculated, "Couldn't we give our tickets
to one of these pencil-sellers and magic ourselves back to--Let's
go over to the Zagos and have some rummy.  I never realized what a
wide-browed genius Juliet Zago is.  Wouldn't I like to see her and
Scott right this minute!  Pal, could I please kick the next couple
that crowd me into the gutter?  I guess maybe it would be wonderful
to be in New York, if all seven million of 'em didn't want to
occupy the same spot we're walking over, all at the same time."

They arrived in the theater as in a calm haven, but that was the
last calm they felt till they were back in their hotel, with Jinny
trying to explain it all to Isis.

They never did discover what the musical play was about.  From
having attended the more salacious burlesque shows in Minneapolis,
when he was a student, Cass had a few notions, but Jinny was
entirely bewildered.  There was, in the plot, a young lieutenant
who was serving in Tahiti, but as he was simultaneously rowing on
the Vassar crew and selling paper drinking-cups to a Turkish harem,
it was hard to follow his stream of consciousness.  There was also
a pair of funny fellows with jokes about the less attractive vices.

Cass and Jinny sat with hand tight in hand, unsmiling, uncomfortable,
wondering what the laughter was about.  At intermission, Jinny said
only "Six-sixty!" but after the show, as they hobbled away through
the funereally festive crowd, "I'm old-fashioned and I like it!
Honey, if we got a plane, a very fast plane, maybe we could see
Cleo before dawn--and find out if that beast of an upholsterer at
Tarr's has the curtains up in the new house yet.  You know, they
always advertise how fast you can fly to New York, but what would
inspire deep public confidence would be to tell how fast and far
you can get away from New York.  Oh, my sweet, you've got poor
Jinny caught and happy in a sun-trap at home for the rest of her
life!"



They had read, in the syndicated gossip columns devoted to the
gracious doings of cafe society, about the Marmoset Club, that
debonair night restaurant, that Bowery saloon in a velvet evening-
cloak, where cigarette-bejittered heiresses are photographed with
flyers, and cinema press-agents exchange copyrighted wisecracks
with abortionists, but after the Broadway sandwich-abbatoir, they
were ready to be disappointed.  Yet the Marmoset was even more
select, smart, exclusive, fashionable, knowing, chic, gracious,
elegant, decorative, glamorous, glittering, glistening, shimmering,
witty, sophisticated, mundane, gay, international, deft, urbane,
and generally expensive than had been proclaimed by the columnists.

The very small lobby was a jewel-box in which stood a young
gentleman with the clothes of a whisky advertisement, the eyes of a
detective, the gentle effrontery of a diplomat, and the accent of
the Bronx.

"Uh--" said Cass, and again, "Uh--can we get a table?"

"Have you a reservation?"

"N-no."

Jinny said in perfectly clear, sweet, womanly tones, "Let's get the
hell out of here.  I don't like him."

The palace eunuch instantly recognized her then as a distinguished
movie actress, and he said almost humbly, "I'll see what I can do.
I'm sure I can find you something, madame."

He did quite well for them, too.  He found a table in the Que-
Voulez-Vous Room, the largest of the five that made up the
Marmoset, despite the fact that it was almost half full.

Well, and it was a beautiful room, and Cass and Jinny had to admit
it; better even than the Fiesole Room at the Hotel Pineland, back
home.  The walls were lined with gray silk, tucked and flaring;
under the crimson ceiling were constellations of crystal; and there
was a delicate, rustling quiet except at a center table where a
male clothes-designer was breaking a rather elderly lady's heart
and in a corner where an authoress was breaking her contract.

Word had been carried by the restaurant's efficient O.G.P.U. that
the pretty girl with the white mantle was somebody important in
Hollywood and the man with her either a doctor or a major in mufti.
This was no sensation at the Marmoset.  That new Monte Carlo could
really have been stirred only by the appearance of the President
with Queen Nefertiti.  But it did insure a captain of waiters
coming to take their order without disciplining them by making them
wait.

However, by the ease with which he sold them a bottle of Peruvian
champagne and mushrooms a noisette under glass, he could see that
here was only another dull pair of uncelebrities.  He passed the
word, and Cass and Jinny went back into the refrigerator.  No one
even glanced at them, except the male designer, who looked
designing.

Cass saw Jinny's spirit paling in her, and he urged abruptly,
"Well, you're the prettiest girl here.  There isn't one that has
your fire or your eyes or a clear skin like yours."

"And you're the only man here that looks as if he could fight a
battle or build a town."

More silence, out of which she burst, "If I saw Boone and Queenie
Havock over at a table there, I'd go over and I'd kiss both of 'em.
Twice.  And I would request Boone, but very nicely, to stand up and
holler, 'Do you clams know who this is?  This is Judge Timberlane
and his young wife, d' you hear me?'"

"And Boone would probably do it."

"And Boone would certainly do it.  That's why I adore him--now."

That was Monday evening, the end of Jinny's first day among the
revelries of New York.

Comfortingly close to each other, they slept in one of the twin
beds, for shelter against the bleak wind of urban indifference,
while all night the little crystal cat looked out on the prison
wall of the New York street.  It seemed very small on the broad
white sill.

There is a Grand Republic colony in New York, as there is a Smyrna
colony, a Benares colony, a Reykjavik colony, and it is the duty of
that colony to be gleeful at the arrival of all visitors from the
home town, and to take them to that restaurant at which the ordeal
of being cordial can be most quickly got over most inexpensively.
Equally, it is the duty of the visitors to telephone to all members
of the colony upon arrival and to allow themselves to be
becordialed.  (There are also cases in which the two parties to the
social contract really want to see each other.)

With a notion of being thoughtful and not binding them, Cass had
not written of his coming to any of the colonists, nor to Dennis
Thane, the only one of his classmates in the University of
Minnesota law school whom he knew to be in New York.  The
stuttering task of finding his old acquaintances he took up on
Tuesday morning, while Jinny, cocking her bare toes, commented with
ribaldry from the rumpled bed.

Mrs. Byron Grannick?  She was still at Stockbridge.

Dr. Cope Anderson, the chemist?  He was still at his laboratory on
Cape Cod.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenny Wargate?  They were still at Easthampton.

By now Cass felt empty and unwanted.

He reached only Dennis Thane (of the law-firm of Crossbow, Murphy,
and Thane), who invited them for lunch tomorrow, and Bradd Criley's
sister, Mrs. William Elderman, Avis Criley Elderman, who
forebodingly insisted on coming into town from her suburban home in
Darien, Connecticut, and on performing the rite of taking them to
dinner on Thursday evening.

"Anyway, we have two friends in the world, Dennis and Avis, except
for Avis," sighed the lonely Judge Timberlane.

He had not quite dared telephone to one former Grand Republican,
the only person from their section of Minnesota, aside from Salem
Volk the veteran liberal politician, who was famous to the whole
world: Berg Nord, the actor-director-producer-dramatist, who had
been born on a farm in Radisson County.  In fact Nord was so
distinguished that every citizen back home was under a compulsion
to inform strangers, "Oh, we don't take Berg seriously.  We still
call him 'Ice Berg.'  He don't try to pull anything on us, like
maybe he does on you folks.  We know him too well."

Nord's latest play, Feast of Reason, of which he was author and
star, had just re-opened for the second year of its run.  Back
home, Cass had airily thought of telephoning to Nord about tickets--
though he would insist on paying for them, of course--but now,
with the baby-tiger purr of New York outside his window, he dared
not telephone to Nord at all, but after breakfast trotted meekly to
the ticket agency, where the learned vendor condescendingly let him
have two seats.  Cass held them with pride. . . .  He had never
seen Berg on the stage, but as a child of three, he had ridden
pickaback on the shoulders of the twenty-three-year-old Cousin Berg
Nord.  Now he asked of the omniscience, "Nord is considered a fine
actor in New York, isn't he?"

"Oh, merely the best, after Lunt, that's all!"

Cass had lost another inch of stature by the time he had regained
the safety of their hotel and Jinny's presence.



33


They never could recall how they had put in the rest of Tuesday
morning, aside from reading the papers down to the auction notices,
but they postponed the duty of reveling in the joys of New York
till lunchtime.  Then they had the great hours of shopping, and
admitted that, in this, New York was superior.  Jinny dropped the
arm of her protector and stepped out and had a few things to say
for herself.

She contradicted clerks, high impressive clerks with handkerchiefs
like bishops' mitres in their breast-pockets.  She yearned over
furs and Irish linens and perfume-bottles with gold crowns for
stoppers and folding card-tables so sturdy that you could sit on
them--the clerk enthusiastically proved it.  (He was fired for it,
that evening; the table might have collapsed.)  But there was a
hard shrewdness in her, and she bought only one per cent of the
things that she would die if she did not have.

After dozens of tryings-on, while Cass sat on a plush chair in
rooms carpeted to suffocation and wondered if he might smoke, and
wished that he had a walking stick to rest his chin on, like the
other male sitters, she did pick out a silk dress, a blue suit, and
a lynx jacket.

Then she dropped again into panic.

"Cass!  Let's beat it!  So many shops, so many puss-puss grass-
widow clerks, trying to stick you with things you don't want--they
all get so blurry and alike.  There's no fun like there is at
Harley's or Tarr's, where you know all the scandals about the
clerks.  I love you for bringing me to New York, and I wouldn't
have missed it for a million dollars, and I wouldn't ever come here
again for a billion.  Oh, I do want to settle down now.  I promise:
I will read my chess manual.  I will quit getting my queen taken.
I promise!"

He kissed her in the elevator of a department store.



They assured themselves that though the Melchester dining-room did
look stuffy, "We better have our dinner here, just this once, and
not have to hurry to the theater."

The air of the dining-room had been shut in there, among the
Brussels sprouts and the damp napkins, ever since the hotel had
opened, in 1913, and the stuffed veal tasted like the air, and the
waiter, who was a family man and a commuter, had aching feet.

They spent most of their time at dinner in longing for the gaieties
of the John William Prutts, and they went to the play as to an
operation.

Cass knew Nord only as a bulky, tow-headed Swede in a loose black
suit and an irregular bow-tie, lounging around his father's farm.
Jinny had never seen great acting, and she supposed that there
would be a good deal of yelling and throwing up one's arms and
catching them again.

Bewildered, they learned tonight that great theater is more real
than reality.  Nord was the Little Man, a clerk who discovers that
his boss and his wife and his daughters are all liars, who smashes
his world and triumphs in defeat.

Jinny commented only, "Gee!"

Cass said, "I think in these theaters you can--'go back,' I think
they call it, and see the actors in their dressing-rooms, and of
course I've known Berg slightly all my life--I didn't suppose he
was like that!  He's an archangel.  I'm glad I saw this with you.
Well, shall we go back?"

"I'm scared to, but if you're sure it's all right--Course I was
born only about six miles from his birthplace--and maybe I didn't
tell that to everybody in Florida!"

"Come on.  Perhaps he'll go out with us for a drink."

"Don't you dare ask him!  Prob'ly everybody from Minnesota and
points west comes in and bothers him.  Come on!  I don't think we
ought to go see him, but hurry or we might miss him!"



It was all traditional and right: the secret alley beside the
theater, the stooped and hidden stage door, the doorman aged and
Irish and misanthropic.

"To, uh, to see Mr. Nord.  Mr. and Mrs. Timberlane," Cass
submitted.

"JUDGE Timberlane," said Jinny.

But when they were admitted to the star's dressing-room, it was
such a littered coop, and the star, wiping off greasepaint, was
just Ole Ice Berg Nord.  He looked at Cass a little puzzled.

"You're one of the Grand Republic Timberlanes, aren't you?"

"Yes, my mother was Marah Nord.  I'm sort of a second cousin of
yours.  I'm a lawyer."

"Oh, now I have it straight."  Nord, a thick, undistinguished
figure in a blazing silk dressing-gown, was cordial.  "Cass--isn't
that the name?  Mighty pleased you came back, Cass.  Enjoy my
show?"

"We thought it was magnificent."  Nord was obviously pleased.
"Berg, this is my wife.  Just married last year."

"Delighted to see you, Mrs. Timberlane.  This your first visit to
New York?"

"Yes, it's my first."

"You enjoying your visit?"

"Oh, yes, so much.  Well.  That is.  I don't know as I'd want to
live here.  We're fond of Minnesota."

"So am I, Mrs.--uh--Timberlane"

Jinny must have seen in Cass's pleased and honest face the
prohibited come-out-and-have-a-drink look.  Firmly taking her
husband's arm, she stated, "It's been a great honor to be able to
visit with you, and we must go now.  Good night."

And went.

They stopped in the street and shone at each other.

Cass said proudly, "Nice fellow, isn't he!"

"Marvelous."

"Course off the stage, he seems like anybody else."

"Oh, no, I don't think so!  I can feel the tremendous reserved
power in him.  Oh, I could go for him in a big way!"

"Ye-es."

"Let's stop and get a drink some place--a quiet place, if there is
one in this town--and then go to bed.  Oh, Cass, I'm so tired, all
that shopping--but is that plum-colored dress a vision!  We
certainly have one thing to boast of: we didn't try and wheedle
poor Berg into going out with us."

"It might have been courteous to have asked him--"

"Oh, no, you can't ask people like that."



Berg Nord was meditating, "I wish I'd asked those people out for a
drink--or they'd asked me.  They made me quite homesick.  I'd like
to hear the Grand Republic news.  But they're probably busy on
their stay here.  I wouldn't want to intrude."

In her own twin bed a little later, talkative and not sleepy, Jinny
mused aloud, "Think of how brilliantly he must talk when he's with
his real friends."

At Sardi's, Berg Nord was saying to his agent, who was one of his
three close friends, "I don't want to be a hog about it, but you
tell Hollywood I won't even look at less than two hundred thousand.
Know what I'm going to do, some day?  Move back to Minnesota and
stay there.  You New Yorkers are a pain in the neck.  Always
thinking about money. . . .  I'll have another Scotch old-
fashioned."



Their lunch, on Wednesday, with Dennis Thane started jubilantly
with recollections of law school, each of which began, "Say, do you
remember the time I . . ."

Thane was effusive to Jinny.

"Is this your first visit to New York, Mrs. Timberlane?"

"Yes, it's the first time."

"Are you enjoying your visit here?"

"Oh, yes, very much, thank you."

But after that the luncheon was less vivacious.

So they did more shopping and went to museums, thousands of
museums, and went to a news-reel.

"Let's take a chance and dine at Twenty-One or the Algonquin or one
of those famous places, Jin."

"Oh, I don't know.  They're fascinating, but they scare me, Cass.
Why don't we just have dinner here at the hotel, where they know
who we are, and then take in another movie and go to bed?  There's
a bang-up movie opened on Broadway last night.  I know it's good
because it was in Grand Republic two weeks ago, and Mrs. Higbee
said it was swell.  Would that be okay by you?"

"Certainly would.  I never care for more than just so much horsing
around.  I thought eight days would be too short a stay here, and
New York does wake you up and give you a lot of ideas, but I'll be
kind of glad when we get away next Tuesday.  I've enjoyed every
second of it, but I won't be sorry to be home and shoot some golf
with Roy."

"And I'm crazy to see how much the decorators have got done.  Oh,
yes, I'm VERY glad we're staying till Tuesday, but that will be
about enough."



A Thursday filled with trying on dresses, trying on museums, and
churches, and deciding that their feet were too sore to go up and
look at Grant's tomb and the Rockefeller church, those appropriate
neighbors.  The day was magnificently crowned by having dinner with
Avis Elderman, Bradd Criley's emigree sister.

She remembered Cass perfectly, and forgave him for it.

She had glittering jet on her bosom, and she took them to the
Colony Restaurant.

She said to Jinny, "I don't think I ever met you in Grand
Republic."

"No, I lived in Pioneer Falls as a kid."

"Oh!"

It took Avis a minute to swallow this, but she tried again:

"Is this your first glimpse of New York?"

"Yes, my first."

"I trust that you are enjoying your stay here."

"M."

"Mr. Elderman and I are sorry that you are making such a brief
sojourn.  We had hoped to entertain you in our home.  In Darien.
In Connecticut, you know.  Though of course we practically live in
New York City--my husband's office is here, map-manufacturing, and
I come in and join him for an evening at LEAST once a fortnight,
but still, we always say, even the city hasn't a more exacting and
delightful social life than Darien.  You would enjoy it so much."

"I'm sure of it," said Jinny.

As Cass and she went to bed, Jinny snarled, "The very next time,
I'm going to say, 'No.  Is it YOUR first visit?'"

And, after more meditation, "I thought Bradd was a lovely man, till
I met his sister."



When they awoke to devouring rain on Friday morning, Cass rejoiced,
"Would I be a barbarian if I said, 'Thank God, we don't have to go
out and look at the glories of New York all day long'?"

"Me too!"

He thought, he telephoned down to the porter's desk, and presently
he announced, "I find we can get reservations for the trip back
home for Monday instead of Tuesday.  What would you--"

"Darling!  Swell!  Grab 'em!  I'm crazy to see the new house, and
Cleo and Rose and Valerie and Roy and everybody!"

They went back to sleep, lying close together, comfortably and
quietly.  They breakfasted luxuriously, for the Melchester did
unexpectedly run to English muffins and wild-strawberry jam.  They
got rid of the breakfast wreckage, and told the chambermaid to stay
out till lunch-time.  Free from the duties of sightseeing, they
laughed as pointlessly as schoolchildren.

--Well, if this trip hasn't accomplished anything else, it's got
rid of Jay Laverick, and brought her back to me.

They were normally a somewhat restrained couple, but today they
reveled in the cheerful vulgarities of the bathroom.  She scrubbed
his back, in the tub, and laughed, and kissed the wet smoothness of
his shoulder.  He reached up his arms to encircle her with a sudden
need of her, and her giggling died in a passionate quick breathing.

It was on that day of gaiety and benevolent bad weather that their
baby was conceived.

"There couldn't be a more wonderful lover than you," she sighed.

They did admit the chambermaid--who looked at them suspiciously--
but they did not dress till five in the afternoon, when the weather
had cleared.

They had a small walk up Fifth Avenue.  While they were out, Berg
Nord tried to telephone them.  He had their address from Avis
Elderman (whom he hated).  Nord had hoped to have them join him
after the theater, but he did not leave his name.  They never
learned that he was a lonely man.

They came back to the dreariness of having to decide which urban
delight they would work at that evening.

The telephone.  Cass answered.  "Yes?  Timberlane speaking."  Then
he shouted.

"Jinny!  Do you know who it is?  It's Bradd Criley!  He's just
landed here in New York, and he's right here in the hotel, and
he'll be up here in five minutes!"

She sang, "That's the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me
in my life!"



As Bradd came in, like a fresh wind from the Sorshay uplands, Cass
thought that Berg Nord might be a sturdy trial lawyer, and Bradd,
with that wavy hair that provides its own vine leaves, that round
pale face and automatic smile, might be a romantic actor.  But he
got no further with the study, so excited were they all three, two
men and a girl, the trinity of friendship--and of danger.

"You're the best sight for sore eyes I've seen since we left home,"
said Cass.

"You two look pretty good to me.  What about you, Jin?  Are you as
glad to see me as your old man makes out he is?"

"My favorite brother, Bradd!" glowed Jinny, and kissed him.

Bradd summed it up, presently.  "You have till Monday then--tonight
and all day Saturday and Sunday?  Can't we all play around
together?  I'm here for the Wargates, but I don't have to do a
thing till Monday morning, except a few telephone calls."

"Perfect!" said Jinny.

"I really came on a couple of days early, hoping to catch you two."

"Oh, Bradd, you didn't!" whispered Jinny.

"What's your plans for tonight?"

"Not a thing."

"Managed to see Life with Father yet?"

"Impossible to get tickets."

Bradd crowed, "Not impossible for ME to get tickets!  It's a cinch,
if you know the ropes.  And I know every strand of the little ole
ropes in this man's town."

"I'll bet you do," worshiped Jinny.

Bradd was already telephoning.  "Berbetz? . . .  This is Criley,
from Grand Republic. . . .  Fine.  Just got in.  Now listens my
young friend.  I want three for Life with Father for tonight, and I
want good ones, get me? . . .  Fine.  I'll pick 'em up at the box-
office.  I'll be seeing you."

Jinny was looking at him with admiration.

He ordered briskly, "Now I'll run down and have a quick shower and
be ready in half an hour.  Let's have an early dinner and have
plenty of time to talk.  We'll go to the Algonquin or the Plaza,
and then after the show, I'll take you to Twenty-One or the Stork
Club.  Been to any of those places?"

Cass sighed, "We tried the Marmoset, but we felt like a couple of
outsiders."

"You won't with me.  They know me!  I'll be seeing you."

When he was gone, Jinny triumphed, "Now we'll have a tremendous
time.  But--I adore Bradd, but he is kind of a faker, isn't he!"

"What?"

"About this hotel being so out of the world.  About getting these
tickets that you can't get.  The way he does it, he just pays some
speculator about three times what they're worth.  And about being
such a sweetheart to all the night-clubs.  It's just going there
often enough, and tipping more than enough.  The wise guy--the
great man about town!  Why, you're twice as distinguished as he is,
and you look it!"

"Oh, now, Jinny, you're dead wrong.  He isn't a faker."

"A show-off, then."

"But he isn't!  Now, Jinny!  I see him in the court room.  He likes
to make a jury laugh, but there isn't a steadier or better-prepared
advocate in the district, and same way with his approach to his
friends.  He has the heart of a boy, and it pleases him so when he
can do things for you that he just bubbles over.  You've got to
like Bradd!"

"Oh, I do, lots.  I just meant--It irritates me if anybody thinks
we're hicks just because we don't spend all our time doing New
York--on a Wargate expense-account!"

"Don't let his fun and high spirits fool you.  You'll come to love
him."

"Anything for peace," she said.  "All right, I'll love him then."

"Good!" said Cass.



At the Algonquin, Bradd pointed out one timid drama critic, one
savage playwright, and two bored actors.  Then they settled clown
to the news from Grand Republic. . . .  Harley Bozard had been seen
at Austin with a handsome woman from Minneapolis.  Major Umbaugh
had been promoted to lieutenant-colonel.  Jamie Wargate was now a
flyer.

Then Bradd spoke seriously.

"New York seems to have brought you two even closer together.  Jin,
I'm glad you've got the Jay Laverick nonsense out of your system."

"I never had any in it!"

"Oh, yes, you did!  Jay's an attractive heel, and a good friend of
mine, but I wouldn't trust him across the street with a deaf virgin
aged seventy.  He does the sympathy racket.  Listen, young lady:
Cass never would jump you properly about Jay, because he's a
sensitive gent, Cass is, and he's afraid of you.  I'm not.  So--
just how strongly did Mr. Jay express his ambition to make you?"

Cass was surprised that he was not indignant at this intrusion, and
Jinny merely sputtered, "He never expressed anything of the kind!
I wouldn't let him!"

"You couldn't help letting him.  Didn't he ever say anything--very
whimsy and make-believe, the little darling!--about you and him
starting an arty tea-room together--he put up the cash and you the
good taste?"

"Ye-es, he did make some cracks about my talent for watercress."

"That's his standard line.  I know you have too much sense to fall
for him really, but still, you did let him stick around, and you
better cut him out and cleave only to the dumb breadwinners like
the Judge and me.  We won't let you down.  Now you can tell me how
I've been butting in."

"Well, you have!  And I won't be bullied!"

"Tut!"

"I'll fall for whom I like.  I'm a free woman."

"That's what you think."

"Oh, you make me tired," she said, so feebly that Cass and Bradd
smiled at each other, and presently she was smiling with them.



If Cass found it too breathless, Jinny was exhilarated by the
different New York that Bradd disclosed to them.  He took them to
three night-clubs, in which he was cordially greeted by, if not
with, fatted calves, and on top of that, he injected them, at one
o'clock in the morning, into a pent-house party being given by a
man who, Bradd explained, was a very important, high-class man,
with a lot of influence in Washington, the representative of a
chain of Western banks.

Jinny decided that, after all, she had been born to pent-house
life; to the glass bar and the Dali drawings and the couch long
enough to seat eight people, to the garden outside and the nervous
lights in the skyscrapers that formed its mountainous horizon; born
to the attentions of gallantly drunken gentlemen.

Thousands of men were telling Jinny that she was beautiful;
thousands and tens of thousands of ageless women were shrieking
that she must have another drink immediately, till the coils of
people inside the pent-house seemed thicker and darker than the
coils of cigarette-smoke.  Suddenly even the gregarious Jinny could
not endure the blare of voices, and she slipped out on the terrace.

So she beheld a New York new-born and celestial.  She was
astonished to come out not to a light-pointed darkness but to the
rising sun.  Four hours had gone in four minutes.

The pent-house was thirty stories up, on an apartment-house on
Central Park West, looking eastward to Fifth Avenue and the park.
To the northeast, incomprehensible waterways led through a golden
mist to the open sea of Long Island Sound, and over them the
bridges arched and vanished in a smudge of factories and airfields.
The bulky castles of Fifth Avenue and beyond seemed but a narrow
strip of gold-touched black floating upon the waters, and for a
moment the ponderous city was as graceful as Venice.

To southward a thousand towers reached toward the sun, while just
at her feet, far down, Central Park was still a dawn-dark
labyrinth, with the reservoir like one of her own Northern lakes.

At her shoulder, Bradd's voice murmured, "New York can be
beautiful, eh?  It's London and Paris and San Francisco all in
one."

"Yes, I didn't know how beautiful till you showed it to me, Bradd.
I was scared of it, but I think I could love it."

He kissed her, and in gratitude she responded recklessly.  Bradd
drew back.  "We didn't mean that!  It was just an accidental salute
to the sun.  Don't you ever tell that priggish Grand Republic
lawyer about it."

"Cass is NOT a prig--"

"I didn't mean him.  I meant that--what's his name?  Bradd Criley?
The fellow who thinks you're his sister.  Are you?"

"Yes!"

Elbows on the parapet, they were talking quietly when Cass came out
to find them.  He was pleased when he saw their fresh, dawn-cooled
faces.

"You two are the only people here that look as if you've ever
slept, but as it's tomorrow now, how about thinking of going home?"
he chuckled.

"Fine!" said the artless Bradd.



On Saturday and Sunday, Bradd was the most conscientious pleasure-
giver since Dennis the hangman.  He took them to two theaters, for
a drive in a victoria in Central Park.  On Sixth Avenue he bought a
dozen of the marzipan cakes that Jinny loved even more than candy,
and they three walked down the street boldly eating them out of a
paper bag.  Sunday, they drove to Jones Beach and on to a
restaurant with tables on the terrace.

By now, Jinny considered New York just as good as Grand Republic.
But not Cass.

Bradd paid his share of all the bills, but he did not show off by
trying to pay more.  In all their arguments he took Cass's side
against Jinny or Jinny's side against Cass, with equal cheerfulness.
And he bought for her the first orchid of which she was ever the
proprietor.

She confided to Cass, "You were entirely right about Bradd.  He
wasn't trying to impress us about how well he knows New York.  He
just has a lot of fun exploring it, and he loves to have his
friends share it."

When Bradd had seen them off on the train, on Monday, Cass said to
her, "Now you really begin to appreciate Bradd."

"Yes--thanks to you."

They returned to Grand Republic; they moved into the new house; the
fall term of court opened; and the first case over which Cass
presided was the divorce-suit of Beecher Filligan against his wife
Pasadena, with Mr. Jay Laverick warmly referred to in the
testimony.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

FILLIGAN VS. LAVERICK


Beecher Filligan had only a minority share in the ownership of
Havock & Filligan, contractors, but he also played at architecture
and he had inherited a brickyard and a cement works.  In the
peerage of Grand Republic he rated as a viscount, with the highest
distinction in the playing of backgammon.  He was forty, and a
friend of Bradd Criley and Jay Laverick.

His wife Pasadena, born in that Oxford of the Pacific Coast, was
probably beautiful.  She looked like a poor color-reproduction of a
Botticelli goddess of rather late spring.  She was derivative in
everything except her make-up, in which she showed talent, care,
and diligence.

Beecher was sick of her, sick of her mildly clattering tongue, her
extravagance, and her monotony in bed.  He wanted to get rid of
her, and since he had no legal reasons, he set about creating them.

He knew that, despite her cow-like amiability when she had
everything she wanted, she could be shrill and stubborn if she
thought she was being cheated, so the fault had to be seemingly
hers, and his the forgiveness or the vengeance.

Jay Laverick took notice of every halfway-pretty woman who seemed
obtainable, and Beecher saw to it that Pasadena should appear
extremely obtainable.

She was a Talking Woman, and like most Talking Women she was too
busy babbling to notice what was happening about her.  Her
telephone calls, to announce that she would come and play bridge
next Thursday, took half an hour.  By going out to the kitchen and
being orally helpful, she could get any cook to quit during the
first fortnight, and Beecher usually went to sleep to her inane
discussion of something that would have happened if it had only
happened.

Beecher was not utterly to be blamed for his cold plotting against
her.  His plan had started one evening when, after he had
complained absently about her extravagance and her astonishing
tendency to get accidentally kissed at country-club dances, she had
sneered, "Well, if I'm so lousy, why don't you DO something, and
not just yap about it?"

Not till two years later, when she was already married to the
reluctant Jay Laverick, did she realize that Beecher had done
something.

Beecher, in the oldest and simplest of tricks, began his work by
having Jay at the house for three-handed rummy and being called out
to the cement works at ten P.M., then telephoning at eleven that he
would not be able to return till two.  Venus and Freud did the
rest.

Beecher's careful labor was almost ruined by Jay's getting
interested in a much prettier and livelier woman, young Jinny
Timberlane, so he had Jay for house-guest at his summer camp on
Lake Winnemapaug, was called away "for two days," and returned late
that same night.  He despised Jay for an amateur Don Juan when he
found them both in her bed, and asleep.

He said to Jay, "I ought to kill you, and I do happen to have a
loaded rifle here, but I think the only decent, civilized way out
of this horrible mess that you two have dragged me into is for you
to marry her as soon as I divorce her."

Jay said, Why certainly; that's what he had intended to do, all
along.

Pasadena, with her rouge smeared, was very distasteful to Jay.

Later, in chambers, Pasadena reported to judge Timberlane, "Beecher
practically cried over all that he had tried to do for me, and I
just despised him.  After that, I was sure I wanted to marry Jay,
who is a real man, not a whiner.  But I will say for Beecher that
he did manage to make me feel like considerable of a heel."

She was distasteful to Judge Timberlane in any state of make-up.
He said, "But, Pas, any husband must sense it at once if his wife
even begins to stray, and what I don't understand is how either you
or your husband could be taken in by such an obvious wolf as
Laverick."

"Don't you dare say anything against Jay!  He's a gentleman, even
when he's drunk, and he's going to marry me."

He was, and he did.



34


The Timberlanes had been married for a year now, and they were
fondly accustomed to the new house, to the gray furniture and
mulberry carpets and curtains, the yellow leather pouf, the
fireplace set flush in mirrors, in the pert living-room, as
arranged by Jinny.  Isis was presumably happy on a teakwood
pedestal on a small glass shelf.  The pictures were mostly nameless
flower pieces; there were tall portfolios of Impressionist
painters; and on a small flat desk were Jinny's precious tooled-
leather stamp-box and a useless yellow quill pen.  It was all very
gay and comfortable and contemporary, even if it was a little like
a model room in an expensive furniture store.

Cass thought highly of the oil furnace and the electric washing-
machine, though he was not altogether contented in his new study.
It was a cigar-box of a room, handsomely paneled, with a small
fireplace reluctantly let into the pine walls, but there was room
for only a quarter of his books, and the rest were lost in dark
hallway-bookcases and the pinched attic.

"Oh, well, most of 'em I only look at once in a while, anyway," he
sighed, as he lugged them to the attic.  Strange that so few books
can require so many staggering struggles up the ill-lighted stairs.

Jinny was joyfully busy.  Now that she could organize her own
house, and Mrs. Higbee could no longer hide spices and Canadian
bacon and corn-flour from her in cavernous unknown cupboards, she
was an exemplary housewife, busy with errands to the new Byzantine
meat-market and the new Cordovan grocery-store, which made up the
business-center of the Country Club District.  She went on
entertaining soldiers at the canteen, and once she stood on the
running-board of a car on Chippewa Avenue and made a speech for the
sale of war bonds.

"No," said Cass, afterward, "no, you were a very good speaker.  I
wish most lawyers would sum up as clearly as you did.  Sweetheart,
you're beating me at oratory as you do at everything else.  Except
maybe chess."

She was unquestionably beating him at one thing.  She was pregnant.

He was delighted.



It was she who insisted that they must be economical, after the New
York journey and buying the new house, now that Owen or Emily was
coming.

She had picked out this choice of names for the baby, without
discussion.  She explained it to Cass:

"I'm glad about the infant.  I feel like looking up at you as
languishingly as any Dickens heroine.  This is real creation.  I
guess a baby is about the most modern and revolutionary thing a
girl can do.  I intend to be a wonderful mother.  I know that if
it's a boy, he'll be as sturdy and honest as you are, as your
father must have been, so I want him to be 'Owen,' after your
father.  And if it's a girl--I had an Aunt Emily--so gentle, but
awful smart.

"I did think, 'way back six months ago, when I was young, that I'd
like to have a daughter named 'Lark.'  I knew it was kind of a
fancy name, but I want her to be what I always wanted to be and
never could--swift and clean and belonging to the upper air, not
touched with earth.  Wait, wait now!  Don't tell me a lark has to
come down and sleep on the earth after it's got done soloing.  I
guess an expectant mother has a right to her own metaphor hasn't
she?

"But then I got to thinking about what her classmates would do to
the kid, with a name like that, so I said to her, 'All right,
you're going to be a sweet, simple Emily, and LIKE it!'

"Cass, I am going to adore that baby!"



Cass said to Roy Drover, "She's so sort of serene and adjusted
now."

Roy Drover said to Cass, "You mean she's got some of the damn
nonsense knocked out of her by morning sickness."

Bradd Criley said to Cass, in Jinny's active presence, "Our girl is
more lovely than ever now.  How I envy you two!"

Chris Grau said to Jinny, with Cass philanthropically listening,
"How I envy you, dear!  Did you ever know that once I thought I was
a little in love with your dear husband, myself?  Oh, Jinny, you
must give him a lovely baby."

Mrs. John William Prutt said to Mr. John William Prutt who, in a
gray flannel union-suit, was sitting on the floor, cutting his long
pale toenails, "It is perhaps my imagination, but I cannot help
feeling that it may have been our influence as their former
neighbors that has changed Mrs. Timberlane from a really quite
scatterbrained and, I might almost venture to suggest, flirtatious
young woman into an apparently responsible young Grand Republic
matron."

Boone Havock, the distinguished ex-saloon-bouncer, said to Judge
Blackstaff, at the Federal Club, "Cass must of gone plumb crazy.
Probably from working too hard at loving that hot little wife of
his.  Not that it's her fault, poor kid.  I thought at first that
she was from the wrong side of the railroad tracks, but she seems
to have settled down to being a nice little lady and a good war
worker.  But Cass--why, I hear where, right in this classy new
house of his, he entertained this flannel-mouthed Vogel, the county
agricultural agent, that's a Farmer-Laborite and practically an
under-cover gumshoer for the co-operatives that want to ruin every
decent business that we've given our lives to building up."

"Oh, no, no, Boone," insisted Judge Blackstaff.  "I find Judge
Timberlane a sound and loyal colleague.  I think it's just that
his wife--after all, the is young, and she probably enjoys
experimentation and wants to meet all these cranks and freaks and
reds and fanatics, just to see what they're like.  Once she has had
her baby, she'll settle down and be just like your wife and mine.

"I certainly hope so," said Boone.



For Eino Roskinen, who was serving somewhere in the Pacific, Cass
and Jimmy packed a Christmas box: fruit cake, candy, cigarettes,
and a thin-paper edition of Farewell to Arms.

"We do so little and he does so much.  I feel we ought to both be
out there with him," fretted Cass.  "I'm going to kiss you for
HIM."  That kiss was strange and disembodied, as though it were
indeed the caress of a spirit.

On this, their second Christmas together, everybody decided that
the Little Mother--as they all called her, to Jinny's fury--ought
to stay home and be visited and relentlessly loved and cherished,
and they all did it: the Drovers, Havocks, Blackstaffs, Flaatens,
Gadds, and an alternately shrieking and hush-hushing gang of half a
dozen more families, while for Christmas dinner, with much holly
and silver, there were Bradd, Chris, Cleo, and the three
Pennlosses.  George Hame diffidently brought in a pair of woolly
mittens, embroidered for Jinny by his daughter Betty, and a family
whose son they believed Judge Timberlane to have saved from prison
sent a goose from Four Mile Pine.

Jinny announced that she was now domesticated and contentedly
settled for her whole future life.



Drowsy with Christmas turkey and claret, Cass and Jinny and Bradd,
the others gone, hunched down in their deep chairs.  Every five
minutes one of them said, "We ought to take a good brisk walk."
Busy as a squirrel, Jinny ate a chocolate, sipped Benedictine,
gulped a glass of water.  She complained, "I have the most awful
thirst."

"Of course, you baby, eating all that sweet stuff," yawned Bradd.

"Let's see if we can catch the Philharmonic on the radio and then
go out and take a good brisk walk," said Cass.

But first on Station KICH came the war-news bulletins, to which
they listened with the indifference into which civilians fall.
But they sat up as they heard a bulletin:

"I have to announce the sad news that another of our boys has given
his life that democracy may live.  One of our fine young men, an
expert on dairying processes, Eino Roskinen, was killed in an
airplane crash somewhere in the Pacific on Christmas Eve."

Bradd said quite cheerfully, "Didn't you know him, Jin?"

She gasped, and they half heard her groan, "I hardly let him kiss
me.  I wish to God I had!"

Bradd stirred with electrified interest.  Cass was filled with
pity.  He went over to touch her hair, muttering, "A brave boy."
He felt struggling far down in him the rebellious thought, "How do
I know I wouldn't have been just as brave, if it had been my job to
fight?"  But the thought never came to the surface, as she mourned,
cheek against his sleeve:

"We never think that death can come near US.  But I feel as if it
were in the room now."

In the silence, they breathed uncomfortably.  They could hear the
cat as it leaped from a cupboard toward the mantelpiece.  It almost
missed and, clawing, upset the bracket on which was Isis, who
toppled from her little teak standard and fell to the tiled hearth,
with a tiny noise of breaking.  Jinny hastened across the room and
picked up the crystal cat-goddess.  One of its miniscule legs was
broken clean off, and Jinny held it out for Cass to see, sobbing
like a bewildered child.



35


Cass had intended to keep their life from falling into a
prosperous-middle-class routine which would bore Jinny as it bored
his sister Rose, but now, he felt, "just for a while, a Certain
Amount of Routine will protect her."

He was correct in calculating that their routine did add up to at
least a Certain Amount.

The routine of his court room, workmanlike and busy, and the
routine of his return home, the welcoming kiss, the "What you been
doing all day?", news on the radio and reading--sometimes aloud--of
the Banner editorials, the game of chess, the game of dominoes, the
game of gin-rummy.

The routine of bedtime and Cass's "Golly, I didn't know it was so
late--guess it's about time to turn in," and in the morning,
"Almost eight o'clock--time to rise and shine."

The routine of food: steak, chicken, veal chops, corned beef, pork
chops, fried pike, steak; and of reports about the weather.  The
routine discussion of shall we have soup?  He was pro-soup, and she
was anti.

The routine of dining with the Pennlosses every Sunday noon.

The routine of love-making, which became a routine and not a storm
as soon as they wondered how much longer it was safe to continue
it.

But he knew that Jinny was no amateur of such regularity, and he
pondered upon the production of mild and antiseptic amusements.
The best of these seemed to be the encouragement of the Pennlosses
and Bradd and Chris to come in whenever they could.  Somehow, the
busy Bradd was able to "drop in" much oftener than the others.

He was such a safe, comfortable, cheerful friend to have about.  He
was ready to play cards, to talk, to listen, to pat Cleo, to admire
Jinny's knitting and Cass's legal opinions, to tease Jinny when she
was petulant and Cass when he was irritable, and to bring ice in
for the highballs from the kitchen refrigerator.  Bradd was a
singularly neat remover of ice-cubes, refiller of ice-trays, and
wiper of highball glasses, and he agreed with Jinny on the
necessity of using, always, the Chinese brass coasters under the
glasses, to protect the tables.

It was Bradd who affably took charge on the evening when Jay
Laverick came in to show off his new wife, Pasadena, and was drunk
enough to hint that there had been other ladies, quite recently,
who had craved his competent affections.

So Bradd became the tertium quid in the household:  Cass's friend
and admirer, Mrs. Higbee's admirer and beau, Cleo's teacher of
protocol, and Jinny's brother.  He was a combination of
grandfather, son, investment-counsel, assistant judge, trained
nurse, thoughtful patron, and pet dog.

Cass did not realize--surely Bradd could not have realized--just
how often he was there.

Cass would have said that Chris Grau appeared just as often,
because when Chris did come, you noticed it.  In forty-five minutes
she would change from Cass's thwarted sweetheart to protector of
Jinny against Cass's gross passions to sweater-knitting friend.

Bradd also read aloud from a very imaginative little manual of
psycho-analysis.  He kept begging Jinny not to be shocked by these
cases from real life.

She was not shocked.  She was interested.

It was a comfort to Cass that on evenings when he had to go out
speech-making, to the Masons or the Montenegrins or the Mensheviks,
he could count on Bradd to entertain Jinny at home or take her to
the movies.  Occasionally, when Cass was kept late in his chambers
and Bradd felt that poor Jinny might be dull, he drove her down to
the Unstable for a drink before dinner.

This, however, seemed to Cass unnecessary.



They had a serene evening, Cass and Jinny alone, discussing the
future of Owen-Emily.

"It excites me and it scares me," said Cass.  "He--she--will be
able to fly from Grand Republic to London in eight hours, and he
may see the whole world one state, or see it an anarchy starving in
caves."

"Well, before he starts revolutionizing the world," mused Jinny
tenderly, "I'm going to see he's a good swimmer and tennis player,
and says 'Thank you, Mother' nicely."

"Reactionary!"

They were cheerful then, but when Cass came home the next evening,
he found a Jinny irritable as a cat-haunted robin.

"Why, what's the trouble, dear sweet?" he bumbled.

"Don't be so disgustingly forgiving and paternal!"

"All right, I'll be unforgiving.  Go on."

"Oh, it's just--I went out to the Unstable for lunch with Gillian
Brown.  She had an idea I might do some sketches for their fashion
show at the Beaux Arts.  And maybe I will, too.  And--I hadn't
meant to take a drink, but I felt so blue, shut in here all the
time--"

"You aren't!"

"Yes I am too!  I don't know as it can be helped, but I am.  And I
had this mean thirst that's been bothering me lately--I suppose
that's pregnancy, too--and so I had a highball, and I felt better.
And Bradd just happened to drop in, and he came over and joined us,
and he felt like taking the afternoon off, and so he and Gillian
decided they'd go to Alimony Hall and get drunk, and they asked me
would I like to come along, and I said, Yes, I certainly would--"

"You know--"

"Oh, yes, yes, yes, I know EXACTLY what you think of Alimony Hall
and Sabine Grossenwahn, but there isn't any law in the Constitution,
is there, that I have to accept ALL your opinions?  Sabine is
amusing, and if she sleeps with everybody in town--except you--
I HOPE--that isn't any of our business, is it?"

"I rather think--"

"Oh, don't talk like John William Prutt!  Like Mrs. Prutt!  Like
the whole world of Pruttery!  That's how they felt about US, one
time.  Sometimes often you're just as priggish as the Prutts.  I
much prefer a roughneck realist like Boone Havock.  OR Sabine!  But
anyway:  I wanted to go, but I knew you and Roy would have a fit,
so I said, No, I wouldn't.  And so Bradd and Gillian kidded the
life out of me for being such a Puritan, and I think they were
right, too; I think I'd of felt a lot better if I had gone and
lapped up a lot of Sabine's Miracle Mash Bourbon.  Roy is crazy.
He's just an old woman--like all obstetricians--and he isn't even
that--he's a surgeon.  By golly, if there were one in town, I'd get
me a nice sympathetic young obstetrician that would PRESCRIBE hell-
raising!  Now go on.  Be horrified.  I guess it's very choice and
high-class to have a husband that can quote Milton and Veblen, but
I get awful tired of living in a diving-bell.  So now you can be
horrified all you want to!"

"But I'm not, and as soon as Owen comes--"

"Emily!"

"Emily, then.  Then I'll go to Sabine's with you."

If indeed he was "horrified," it was only that the trusty Bradd
should have been willing to take her to that amateur brothel.
Then:

--Oh, sure.  I've got it.  He didn't want her to go at all, and he
just pretended he did to gentle her down.  Still, I would like to
ask Bradd what he really said.

But, worried over Jinny, worried by the war news, he forgot to ask.



He reached home before Jinny, that evening in early March.  He sat
in one of the detestably neat gray-leather chairs, bending his
newspaper.  He heard her at the door.  She did not halt to take off
her furs; she was in the doorway, her hands flat against either
side of the frame, her face wincing, no youthful wife but a
frightened woman.

He sprang up.

"Cass!  I'm sick, I'm really sick, and it isn't just pregnancy.  I
may die."

He held her arms, wet with melting snow.

"I've just been to Roy for my examination.  Cass, I have diabetes!"

"Oh, no!"

"Yes.  And I could die from it."

"It's not serious, Jinny; it couldn't be!"

"Not TOO serious, Roy says.  I don't even need insulin, not yet
anyway, he says; just proper diet and take care of myself.  But
could anything be worse than taking care of yourself all the time,
like an invalid?"

"I'll do it for you."

"You will, O God, how you'll take care of me!  It'll be worse than
dying.  Wrapped in cotton, all night, all day--and expected to be
grateful!"

"Now, now!  Let's get your coat off.  Here, let me rub your hands.
Lord, they're cold!  There, there--"

"Now, now, now!  There, there, there!" she mocked him.  "Sweet,
sweet chick!  Enjoy your beddie-weddie all day long!  You and Roy
will have me as sappy as Juliet Zago in a month!"

He had sense enough to ignore her sputtering.  A girl had the right
to be a little testy at the threat of death!  He yelled out to Mrs.
Higbee to delay dinner fifteen minutes, and to bring two martinis,
quick.  He got Jinny settled on the couch, with Cleo soft between
them, and demanded, "Now tell me exactly."

"Maybe it isn't too bad.  Roy says it's diabetes, all right, but
very mild--says if I just have a little common sense--but of course
that's like saying, 'If you just have the genius of Beethoven,'--
and if I take care of myself, I could live to be ninety and
scarcely know I had the thing. . . .  And be just as good-looking!
I mean--you know--not ugly, I mean . . .  But doesn't it sound
coarse.  Diabetes!  Sugar in the urine!  Aah!  Why can't I die of
something romantic, like Camille or Mary, Queen of Scots?
Diabetes!"

"Call it 'diabetes mellitus,' then.  That sounds fancier."

"So it does.  Oh, I do feel better, now I've told you, and I know
it will be wonderful, the way you'll take care of me.  I'm not
really ungrateful.  I'm just blaming on you the faulty action of my
Islands of Langerhans, blast 'em!  I have some nerve back now.  I
WILL live to be ninety--and you'll be a hundred and four and still
trying to get me to eat less candy--and I'll crab all the time, and
love you for it!"

But she was frightened.  It quavered in all her flippancies, and he
concentrated on her fear, not on his own below-zero terror that she
might die and all his own life die with her.

As she hastily drank the cocktail he had ordered, he mused, "I
suppose Roy has forbidden all alcohol."

"Yes, this drink is my last.  Say, how did you ever get as gloomy a
friend and physician as Roy?  He doesn't even enjoy seeing his
patients die when they disobey him.  Yeh, no alcohol, no candy, no
cake, very little meat.  He wants to keep me alive only
technically.  His theory is that it's better to be alive and
miserable than dead and happy.  Not even one tender, confiding
little cocktail."

"Well, this evening I'll also give you one stiff highball, and
starting tomorrow morning, we'll both of us go on the water-wagon,
absolutely.  Both of us.  You realize that?"

"O God, yes, I realize it.  When the Judge raises his voice like
that, the boys run right out and get the rope."

"Darling, it won't be so bad.  We'll have lots of pleasant
substitutes for sweets and booze."

"As how?  CHESS?"

"No, we'll think of a lot of things."

"Always ending with chess!"

"Now don't be so contrary."

"A girl that's going to die has got a right to be contrary."

"She certainly hasn't any right to say 'has got' for 'has,' and if
she claims all her rights and has a husband like me, who's too
weakly adoring to spank her and put her to bed, she's in danger of
having him become devious and control her by slyness instead of by
healthy bullying.  You can't win, now that I've started to take
care of you, and I want no more pretty nonsense out of you."

"Gee, at that, you may be a better wife-manager than I thought."

"I may.  And by the way--You spoke of my court attendants running
for a rope.  You know, don't you, that actually there is no capital
punishment in the State of Minnesota?  What are you smiling at,
dear?  Have I said something naive?"



During dinner, she was cheerful, and in her old voice of
affectionate derision she read the regimen that Dr. Drover had
given to her.

"Avoid worry. . . .  Doesn't say how; just avoid it--YOU know--
ole worry come, throw it out of the window.  Gee, the wonders of
medical science. . . .  Warm clothes. . . .  Drop in at some
lumberjack store tomorrow and buy me a nice red-flannel union suit,
will you?  That'll keep all the men away, and so I'll also avoid
one of the worries, anyway. . . .  Warm baths.  Mm.  Massage. . . .
That depends on the masseur.  Do you know any handsome young
gentlemen masseurs?  They COULD be blind.  I still think Jay
Laverick would make a fine, conscientious masseur, but I never
could get a meeting of minds with you on that topic. . . .
Diet. . . .  Me on a diet!  Me that in my prime tossed in banana
splits and pickled pig's feet at the same orgy. . . .  Saccharine
for sugar. . . .  Cereals. . . .  Leafy vegetables. . . .  How I do
hate leafy vegetables--the leafier the nastier, I always say.  I
hate to get my teeth into a mess of leaves. . . .  Beans, broccoli,
cabbage, cucumbers, endive, okra--okra!--squash, tomatoes, turnip-
tops, watercress--I ask you!  Could anything sound more loathsome?
Just make sure that I stick to that diet for two months, and I'll
run away with Boone Havock and go reeling down State Street with
the fumes of two steaks and a mutton chop rising to my befuddled
brain. . . .  Oh, darling, can you stand making me stand it?"

"Sure!"



36


At the end dinner he coaxed, "Now I want you to skip right up and
get into bed, and I'll come up and talk to you, and we'll play a
good game of--of dominoes."

"Now you look here!   I do not intend to start being an invalid, in
bed all the time.  I'd rather die first!  Roy didn't say--"

"No, no, just tonight.  You're overwrought.  So am I, for that
matter.  I'll talk to Roy about it, but I presume that ordinarily
you'll be able to stay up till ten-thirty or eleven every evening--
maybe till midnight, after Baby comes."

"No, tonight especially NOT.  If I relaxed, I'd be too scared."

"Tell you what I'll do.  I'll get some lively soul to come in and
gossip and cheer us both up.  I'll get Bradd!  He'll have to know,
sooner-later, anyway."

"Yes, you phone him, and I'll put on my most languorous nightgown
and receive all you boys in bed.  Like a queen. . . .  Oh, Cass, I
was going to be such a good, strong wife, and I'm just a sick,
whining child, to bother you."

She sobbed, head against his substantial shoulder, for a long time.
When she went up the stairs, still whimpering softly, he looked up
after her, and her climbing was that of a naughty child who has
been punished.

He did not tell her afterward, but when he telephoned he did not
find it easy to capture Bradd.  He had to drag him out of a poker
game.  Bradd sounded not too willing, and Cass insisted that Jinny
was ill and really needed the skillful cheering of the man-about-
town.

When he went up to sit awkwardly by her bed, in the new gray-and-
pink chamber, he reflected that Bradd had never seen her here, and
he regretted having invited even his old friend into the sanctuary.
She was miraculously feminine tonight; the baby was going to be
tiny, and she was scarce swollen; there was no hint of it as she
sat up in bed, huddled under the pink silk coverlet.  Her throat
was fair above sinful laces and ribbons, her hair was softly shaken
out, her cheeks were flushed, by nature as well as art.

--Um.  That was a mistake.  But too late now to stop Bradd. . . .
And she really does need some clown like him, tonight. . . .
My lovely, warm, terrified girl.

He fumbled, "Before Bradd comes, there's one slightly embarrassing
thing--I don't know whether Roy spoke of it or not but I wonder--
and of course we have to think of your health beyond any other
consideration--"

"You dear old lady!  You wouldn't be chastely referring to sleeping
together, would you?"

"Why, Jinny!"

"I could use still more lucid expressions."

"Stop riding me, sweet.  I can't help it if I'm shy with you--call
it reverent.  There are a dozen or so words that Roy and I used to
exchange freely, at the age of twelve.  I do know them--you'd be
surprised!  But I honestly don't like to use 'em in your presence."

"Didn't Bradd use 'em, too?"

"Not much.  He was a foully clean-minded little beast--then."

"Poor, innocent Bradd!"

"I'd like to get back to our investigation.  What did Roy say?"

"He said, situation normal for six weeks or so, and then we'll have
to be as chaste as my crystal cat."

They looked at each other so confidingly.



Their old friend Bradd had never been more admirable.

He came in casually; he lightly patted Cass's shoulder; he kissed
Jinny's cheek--not overly glancing, Cass noted, at her bosom
beneath the foam of nightgown; he sat down and took charge of their
muted terror.

"I had a hunch something was wrong, when you called me, Cass, so
I phoned Roy, and he says Jin has a very mild case of diabetes,
nothing to worry over.  Jinny, sweet, our chief job is the
agreeable one of keeping you gay as a gopher.  Now of course all
these docs, even a hardboiled one like Roy, croak about avoiding
all alcohol and sweets, and any mental flings more disturbing than
buying moth-balls.  They exaggerate, because they hope to get HALF
of what they order--like a dealer telling you to keep a new car
down to thirty.  If they tell a patient to cut out alcohol, what
they expect is that the dope will cut the intake down to a pint of
mule every six hours, with just a dash of canned heat.

"The great thing in curing any of these chronic diseases is mental,
so if Cass and you and I have just a couple of drinks and sit
around and laugh like fools, that'll be more sensible than acting
like a dyspeptic killjoy.  How about it?"

"Oh, I'm sure you're right, Bradd," rejoiced Jinny.  "I'll be
careful, but not get sour and Pruttish."

"Look, you two!" protested Cass.

"Consider it said, sweetie," purred Jinny.  "You mean that the
orthodox method of not drinking any alcohol whatever is not to
drink any alcohol.  We young revolutionists don't fall for that any
longer.  And, Cass, you SAID I could have another drink, after
dinner."

"Did I?  Well, I think you're getting along fine without it, so
let's stick to that."

Bradd and Jinny looked with humorous exasperation at this husbandly
spoil-sport, but he was firm.



She refused to have a nurse, but she did, with omissions, "take
care of herself."  To her the omissions were a joke, a game of
thwarting Cass and his co-plotter, Dr. Drover.

To Cass, nothing of all this was a joke.  The shock of comprehending
her danger was a delayed contusion, and not till next day did he
quite take in the special fact of her illness.  Then, all day, on
the bench, he was taut and shaky.

He was agonizingly aware that she might die.  When he passed a
cemetery, cold under March snow, when he heard of the death of
another soldier from home, he starkly saw her then, unmoving in a
coffin, not to move and speak to him again, ever.

He had never rented Bergheim, and now he refused an offer.  He
heard himself saying, "If she died, I would take Cleo and Mrs.
Higbee and crawl back to the old place."

His most desperate effort was to keep from seeming desperate.



Jinny did not often leave the house, as April came roughly in,
promising May.  She drove into the country sometimes with Cass or,
if he was held in court till evening, with Rose or the Wolkes, but
mostly she clung to the house, like the frightened cat with whom
Cass was always identifying her now.

Every night she conscientiously tended her feet, stooped over them,
bathing and rubbing every tiniest crease or abrasion, while Cass
watched her pitifully.

She recited hopefully, "Roy says the great Dr. Joslin says every
diabetic ought to have a dog, because a dog never tempts you to
break your diet or embarrasses you by being too sorry for you, like
your friends.  'Well,' I said to Roy, 'my cat is just as good as a
dog that way, isn't she?' and he said, very stiff, 'Joslin doesn't
say anything about cats--just dogs.'

"And Roy does lay such stress on the grapefruit.  He figures a
grapefruit is the diabetic's best friend--next to his dog, of
course!  I got to eat grapefruit and like it--that horrible, fat,
smug, sickly-yellow lump!

"And Roy says there's no danger Emily will transmit the tendency to
diabetes--or Owen either--if there's none of it in YOUR family, and
he says there isn't any.  Poor Emily!  To start off with a mother
that hasn't got one doggone thing but love for her--no strength and
no candy and not much sense.  You've got to have sense for both of
us, Cass.

"There.  If Dr. Joslin himself came right in this room now and
looked at those feet, he'd say, 'Jinny, I never saw a slicker job
of pedicuring.  You're a good girl, Jinny--for a blasted
diabetic!'"

"No!  A blessed diabetic."

"Oh, yes.  And Roy said Joslin said Clemenceau and Edison were both
diabetics, and they carried on like sons-of-guns with it."

"So will you."

"But you don't think it will make me reactionary like them, do
you?"

"I don't think it will make you anything but Jinny."

"Which is rapidly being accepted by all lexicographers as a symptom
for perfection, you mean?"

He wanted to cry.



Sometimes she was little and bewildered and clung to Cass and
wanted to be obedient to Dr. Drover's orders.  Sometimes she was
irritated by the unreasonableness of being ill and turned to Bradd,
who chirped, "Cheer up, baby; I'm sure you behave a lot better than
His Honor says."

Cass was supposed to be pleased when Bradd could inspire her to a
flippant lightness, but he wondered if they did not depend too much
on Bradd's friendly presence.  Then, in May, the duty of being
comic in the sickroom was shared by a discharged Marine--that
radio-artistic Fred Nimbus who had once acted himself into the war.
Nimbus had an excellent record; he had risen to corporal and been
honorably discharged for a mild stomach ulcer.  He had gone no
nearer to the South Pacific than San Diego, but he came home to his
creative labors at Station KICH where, from his experiences as a
Marine Corps stenographer, he described to the Far-Flung Radio
Audience--flung at least as far as Kanabec County--the fighting on
tropical islands, the inside politics of China and India, and the
racial mixtures in the Balkans and Peru.  He was to be heard at the
house of Gregory Marl, explaining everything so vehemently that
even Diantha Marl shut up.

There were other returned soldiers in town, but most of them had
been wounded and they were strangely unwilling to show off even for
such interrogatory civilians as Diantha, and Mr. Fred Nimbus was
their willing Homer.

He remembered that Mrs. Timberlane and he had been chums, and he
assumed that in her illness the one thing she longed for was his
manly and merry presence.  He was often in the house now, forgiving
Jinny for having failed him, trying to forgive Cass for having
stolen her away, brightening them all up by interpreting the home
life of Hirohito.

Round Jinny's chaise-longue gathered, too, the Pennlosses and
Wolkes and Tracy Oleson.  Cass was disturbed by the very gaiety
that kept her cheerful.  He wanted, and did not want, to remind her
that she was ill, but only when morning sickness overwhelmed her,
or dry thirst and a series of itches revealed the lurking diabetes,
did she want to be quiet and somewhat less populated.  She looked
almost too well in frail loveliness, an alabaster lamp.

He hinted, "Why don't you take up your drawing again?  That would
give you something to do, and not tire you."

"I seem to have lost all ambition.  I guess that even up-and-coming
young married women do get that way.  It's not so much that I'm
ill.  I'm trapped by happiness.  I'm so very proud of Owen."

"Not Emily?"

"No, it's Owen.  He stirs quite differently from a girl--more
cranky.  He'll be one of these men that will take care of their
wives even if it kills them!"

Cass was glad of his alliance with Bradd.  When the living-room was
full of chatterers, Bradd looked at them malevolently, while Jinny
mocked, "Look at those old crape-hangers, Father Cass and Uncle
Bradd.  You kids better be quiet.  I don't dare peep.  But I'd like
to get up and dance and have a great, big, thick, raw hamburger and
four cream-puffs.  I am so hungry!"

But if Bradd disapproved of the young people as much as Cass, he
could step down into their ribaldry more easily, and Cass admired
the ease with which he could say, "We all better get out now and
give Jinny a chance to rest."

Cass begged of Jinny, "Do I bore you by asking Bradd to come in so
often?" and she consented, "Oh, no, I like him almost as well as
you do."

He kept from caressing her, for fear of his own wild possessiveness.
He perceived again that none of the spectacles of the world, not
the pride of war nor the pomp of religion nor thrones and towers
and banners, was so exalted or so tragic as that love between men
and women which had been greeted always with trivial welcome or
with shameful jesting.



She began to make a business of understanding that she was ill and
could not live on pity.  He was proudest of her one late afternoon
when she reported, "I got out a little today--went over to see Mrs.
Purdwin.  She's been having terrible arthritis--she's in pain most
of the time, awful wrenching pain--it wakes her up.  She says it's
like a whip-lash; it just takes all the humanity out of her and she
becomes an animal.

"So then I quit being so sorry for myself.  I'd been feeling as if
I were set aside from all normal people; as if I were a condemned
man, with no hope.  But after I'd talked to Mrs. Purdwin I got to
thinking about people that are REALLY up against it: men without
jobs in cities, farmers with mortgages and the crop has failed
again and the kids are hungry and cold; all the awful things that
we first-class passengers never know.

"So I decided you're not going to be afflicted any more by having a
whiner around.  I'm so virtuous now, it hurts!

"But when I do slip and start whining again, you'll put up with it,
won't you?"



37


Judge Timberlane, a sensible man, explained it lucidly to him self
on the train:

--You're only going to be gone five or six days at most, and Roy is
right there at hand, and Rose and Bradd will look in, and Mrs.
Higbee is better than any nurse.  And if anything did go wrong--but
nothing could--how could YOU help?

--Just as well not to be around and mooning over her all the time.
Be reasonable.  And don't keep telephoning her long-distance every
minute, either.  When you get to your hotel, can't you get settled
first, and not phone her before you even take off your hat?

He apparently could not.

Jinny said, No, nothing really critical had happened to her in the
three hours since he had left her.



He had been summoned to Duluth to give help with a crowded court-
calendar.  Now, in April, the trees that embraced the city in
summer had not yet blossomed, but Lake Superior was free of ice,
with something like terror in its steel beauty.  His hotel was just
above the lake, and all evening, his business in court finished,
idle and lonely and full of the lack of Jinny, he listened to the
sounds of the inland seaport.  From his window, across the narrowed
end of the lake, he saw the "diamond necklace" of lights on the
Allouez ore-docks, and they filled him, the steamers' whistles
filled him, with divine restlessness.

Jinny and he must not stay forever in the inland ruts of Grand
Republic.

After two evenings of dining with fellow-judges and coming back to
the hotel to read briefs and try to think of important reasons for
telephoning to Jinny, his bachelor state seemed deplorable.  He was
pleased when in the hotel coffee-shop he saw that enterprising
business woman, Mrs. Gillian Brown of Grand Republic, come to
Duluth on propaganda for that fine, clean-smelling, domestic
perfume, Mourir pour Amour, of which Harley Bozard was state
missionary.

She waved to him invitingly.  He liked Gillian, and he moved to her
table.

She was in a fine ribald mood, and she also told Cass that he was a
graceful swimmer, which no one seemed to have noticed before.  They
went to a motion picture, and Cass felt that he was expected to
slide his hand along Gillian's beautiful arm.

Well, he did and he didn't.

Gillian said cheerfully, "I've got some especially good Bourbon in
my suite at the hotel.  Come up and have a drink."

In the full elevator, he was pressed against her.  As they entered
her suite, she threw her coat at a chair, and looked at him
blandly.  Her look said that she had always liked him more than he
had guessed, and that, poor man, he must be living in the most
undesirable chastity.  All of her movements were swift and
efficient.  She mixed two highballs, without spilling a drop, she
put them on the low table before the couch, without a bang, she
touched his arm and drew him down to a place beside her on the
couch.  He knew that he was almost inevitably going to kiss her.

But she made one mistake.  She said, "Let's have a drink, first,"
and gulped half her glass.  As she set it down, she stared with
simple surprise and fury, for Cass had warily popped up from the
couch and was, in abject retreat, heading for his hat.

"W--?"

"Gill, you're extremely attractive, and good night!"

All the way to his room he snarled, "All right, I AM a Puritan!
I'm sure Gillian is much more sensible. . . .  Jinny!"



During the last month of Jinny's pregnancy, her mother came down
now and then from Pioneer Falls, but she was a remarkable mother-
in-law; she believed that it was her daughter that Cass had
married, not herself.  She came in and looked approving and told
Cass that he was a fine man, a good husband, and went home.

Except for a tiny lesion on her left foot, over which Dr. Drover
croaked unbecomingly (she said), Jinny got through easily to her
time of confinement.  She again refused a nurse.

"The woman would just butt in between you and me, and I want us to
be so close now, because I am kind of scared.  I don't even want
Mother or Rose or Bradd around.  Don't you dare try to duck out of
your responsibility of being my guardian angel!"

"I'll put on special wings."

"You better!  And what's this nonsense about your going off to what
you call a 'court' every day?  Is that kind?  Is that necessary?
Do you really want to go on with this business of making people
unhappy just because they've acted naturally and killed people or
raped people or robbed people that were just asking to be killed
and raped and robbed?  Doesn't your court sound pretty silly, when
I put it that way?  No, you stay home with me."

He did, as far as he could.



That fair June evening, they sat out on the small screened terrace
at one end of the house, Jinny wrapped in a silken coverlet.

"I don't mind much, but it does go ON so!" was her only complaint.

He coaxed her to sleep early by going off to bed himself.  His body
ached with hers.  Asleep, he dreamed that she was on a steamer
pulling out from the pier on which he stood, and he frantically
wanted to leap the growing gap.  He came sharply awake at a wail
from her room.  Not quite sure that he was not still dreaming, he
was standing beside her bed without seeming to have walked there.

She smiled, but with a twitching tic in it.  She wavered, "The
pains have started.  Would you mind phoning Roy?  What time is it?"

"Just a second. . . .  Seventeen minutes to three."

"Emily is the most inconsiderate child!"

Nothing was real to him; everything was a fantasy in hard steel
colors, in the night chill.  He had not believed that he could love
Jinny more, but love so filled him that he could in no way express
it.  He stooped to kiss her fleetingly, and he stated baldly,
"Everything is in order.  Relax now."

Roy Drover's voice, answering on the telephone, was watchful.

Cass was dressed and back in her room in six minutes.  She was
feebly flapping around with a girdle.

"Here, this is plenty wardrobe."  He wrapped a quilt about her and
carried her downstairs to the car.

"But my clothes, my lovely new clothes that Mr. Timberlane bought
for me!" she sighed.

"I'll have Mrs. Higbee pack some and I'll bring 'em later."  She
was almost asleep again, exhausted from the pains, as he lifted her
into the car, and she nuzzled against him with none of Jinny's
pertness.

Grand Republic was proud that its St. Agatha Hospital was as tiled
and shiny, as tricky in its surgical technique, as anything in
Chicago.  But it was also as bureaucratic.  The night desk-clerk, a
young lady whom the war had unfortunately lured from the farm, had
never heard of Mrs. Timberlane, Judge Timberlane, or pre-engaged
private rooms, and it is doubtful whether she had ever heard of
obstetrics, though she should have.  While Jinny sat in the lobby,
a small bundle of acute pain hugely covered with comforters, and
Cass roared at the clerk, suddenly Dr. Drover made a stage
entrance, growled, "I'll take care of her," and lifted her up onto
a wheeled stretcher which he seemed to have slipped out of his
pocket.

Cass looked at Roy's placid, bulky power with reverence.  This was
not the old friend; this was their god.  That the doctor could ever
have done anything so lacking in cold divinity as sleeping and
snoring that night seemed impossible.  He was the machine that
impersonally dealt out birth and death and relief from pain.

In a hygienic, hateful private room, he lifted Jinny to the high
bed.  Against the meager hospital pillow her hair was stormily
black, but her face was thin and small, jerking with agony.

For more than an hour Cass stood clumsily about the room, in a fire
of terror.  It was at dawn that Roy nodded to the nurse, with "Take
her in now."  He did not even look at Cass, who was suddenly doing
a lockstep up and down the corridor, shut out from her pain.  Roy
did so far recognize him as a human being as to come out of the
delivery-room and nod, but Cass knew that there was danger and
difficulty in there, beyond the smug glazed door.

He heard no wail of a new-born infant, no cheerful slapping of its
back, none of the traditional joys of childbirth.  Roy came rapidly
stalking out, authoritative in white gown and mask, followed by an
orderly wheeling a stretcher, on which was just seen the tiny
unconscious face of Jinny among the covers, and the nurse carrying
an anonymous wrapped bundle.

Cass had pictured the baby lying beside the fond mother, and Jinny
awakening to love it.  But the nurse took the bundle off to a room
down the hall.

"Girl," said Roy.

"How is Jinny?  How is she?  How is she?"

"Oh, she'll be okay.  Got more stamina than you'd expect from such
a skinny kid.  She'll be under anesthetic for a few minutes yet.
But the baby--Some trouble there; obstructed gut or something,
don't know what yet; not breathing the way I like.  May have to
operate."

They stood on either side of Jinny's bed, and Cass cloudily tried
to associate that diminutive face with his radiant and expansive
girl.  He felt that they were all in a dream, anxiously doing
unseen things in a valley of fog.

Roy was yawning, "I'll go take a look at the baby now.  Say, see
last night's paper?"

"Yes."

"Those Japs are making us a lot of trouble.  You know what I'd do,
if I was commanding the Navy?  I'd just ignore all these outlying
islands and land right on Japan itself.  I don't suppose I'm any
military and naval expert, but I bet I could do a lot better job
than most of these professionals.  A surgeon is a fellow that has
got to get right down to brass tacks.  Of course it's these
Roosevelt politics that are hampering--"

From the bed, the tiniest of protesting sounds:  "Are you boys
going to go on talking all day?"

To Cass's startled, wheeling look, her beady eyes were somewhat
malevolent.

She demanded, weakly, "Where's my baby, Roy?"

"You'll see it in just a li'l' while now, honey."

"A girl?"

"You bet!"

"Emily, my darling baby.  Now I'll really live!"

The nurse had edged in through the door.  Roy clumped over to her,
listened to her whispering.  He turned, with more tenderness in his
beefy face than Cass had seen for thirty years, and said, "Jin,
your old man here is about as all in as you are.  I'm going to take
him down and give him a drink.  Come on, boy."  In the corridor,
hand on Cass's shoulder, he muttered, "Son, you got to have
courage.  For her.  The baby is dead."

For four hours, while she kept falling asleep, they spared Jinny.
When she insisted on seeing the baby, Roy told her, with a grave
pity, her hand small in his.

She did not make a sound.  She lay and stared at them, so
defenseless, slowly beginning to cry.

Long after the doctor had left them, she lay with her face deep in
the pillow, whimpering like a sick and frightened kitten.



38


Through all of the lingering summer, Cass and she were together in
a shadowed valley of tenderness.

She would see no one but him; she was uneasy even with Roy and Rose
and Bradd.  She stayed abed half the day, and followed her diabetic
diet with such severity that Roy snorted, "Look here, young lady,
don't go getting monkish and neurotic on me.  Don't starve
yourself.  You're having yourself a fine time playacting and being
the perfect patient, but I'm not one bit impressed, because I know
how easy you can slip and go just the other way."

She was "playacting," Cass knew, but her play was a propitiation of
the gods who had so bruised her when she had tried to be grown-up
and a normal mother.

Cass and she sat through the summer evenings in a mosquito-proof
and canvas-roofed pavilion he had put up under the maples on their
lawn.  He did not know what she was thinking; she denied that she
was thinking anything at all, and he did not press her.  The
tenderness between them was a language above the clumsiness of
words.

She had no wishes of her own.  If he wanted to stay home, if he
wanted to drive out to the farther lakes, she was willing.  He who
had feared that ambition and careerishness might steal her from him
began now to wish that she had more to do and more longing to do
it.  It seemed to him dismayingly that she had not grown at all
since he had first seen her on the witness-stand.

"Jinny, how about trying an easy part-time job in the fall?"

"I don't think I care to.  Why?  You're not tired of having me
around all the time, are you?"

"I just mean, to keep from brooding."

"I don't brood.  I'm perfectly satisfied.  I hate these strident,
ambitious women who are always clawing at notoriety."

--Did I unconsciously do this to her, to make her dependent on me?
A horrible thing to do.  I must coax her to see more people.  But
what if she likes them too much, again, and finally slips away from
me?  I must take the chance.

She did not like walking with him even so far as to the Country
Club, where they would meet people.  His sturdy legs needed use,
but when he did leave her for a tramp, like a soldier's route-
marching, his companion was Cleo.

She was a mature and dignified young cat now, not without affairs
of her own, but with Cass she would still condescend to being a
kitten and a playmate.  She fought beautifully, pretending to chew
his finger when he whirled her around on her back.  When she walked
with him, she was more dog than cat, running through grasses taller
than herself, making enormous leaps straight up from the covering
jungle, to see where he had got to.

When he stopped to rest on a fallen willow by the lake shore, she
came trotting up to entertain him, as of old, by chasing her tail.
Her vaudeville repertoire was limited, but she always performed it
with the most conscientious artistry.



Jinny herself broke her nervous calm.  "Darling, I know you're
restless, hanging around the house with me all summer."

He did not tell her what picnics he had planned for her and himself
and the baby, with enchanting equipments of thermos bottles and
rugs.

"I get restless, too, Cass.  I go crazy when I listen to that
dratted vacuum cleaner, and even your lawn-mower.  I know you want
me to see more people.  I'm trying to get myself to, but they still
make me jittery.  Let me be a hermit for just a little while yet,
won't you. . . .  Our baby!  I know you wanted her so."

They had driven out to a secret lake, like a highland tarn, hidden
among white pines and balsam.  It was dark, in late afternoon, and
she seemed fragile among the dark pine trunks, beside the opaque
waters.

"Chuck the whole bunch of 'em forever, if you want to," he said,
and she wriggled to be close to him, and safe.

Suddenly and surprisingly she laughed.  "Why don't you teach me
golf?  If I could be out on the course listening to Boone tell
dirty stories, if I could get over being so damned refined and
melancholy, maybe I'd be okay."

"Fine!" he said, uneasily.



While Cass enjoyed striding the golf course, whooping in the great
winds from the cornfields and manfully waving his clubs, she was
bored by it and finicky--and showed at once that she could become a
much better player.  In a year, she would have beaten him, and Roy
and Bradd would have made his life hellish.  It was not without a
guilty relief that he heard her give up golfing.

But at the clubhouse they did meet Jay and the new Pasadena
Laverick, and it was the drinking and feverishness of this foolish
pair, and their brassy ability to take a snub, that won Jinny and
flushed her out of melancholy more than the welcomes of Rose and
Bradd and Chris.  With Grand Republic devotion to their friends,
these more solid neighbors had not wanted to intrude, so long as
Jinny desired the privacy of grief.  But no such scruples were in
Jay and Pas, and they yelled, "Come and have a gin-and-jitters,
Jin!"

Cass was prepared to have her snub them, but she said "Swell!"

They shrieked, "Let's all go get drunk with Sabine and the other
bums," and Jin answered affectionately, "I think you got something
there.  I dassn't get drunk--I'm one of these awful creeping
invalids--but I would like to hear some swing on the phonograph and
see a few human people.  Let's go."

Instantly, with no perceptible moment when she passed from timid
refuge to clamorous publicity, apparently without reason or
transition, in September, Jinny was wanting a party every evening,
whether it was a Pruttish solemnity or a Sabine-and-Gillian
debauch, and she was proclaiming again her extreme need of steaks
and marzipan, and not all of Cass's coaxing would keep her from
having one light highball.

It was not Roy who rescued him, since she felt that it was
practically a duty to disobey the doctor, but Bradd, the Husband's
Helper.

He barked at her, with Cass blissfully listening, "I'm no Puritan,
baby.  I can drink six Scotches to your one and not show it.  But I
know by experience what fools we charming people can make of
ourselves, and I think it would be a fine idea for you to stay home
and try to be nice to your husband at least one evening a year.
Cass is too decent to bully you, but I'm not.  If your sense of
inferiority to him annoys you, as it often does me, I'll try to
lighten things by coming in and playing cards with you two, if you
ask me nicely."

"All right, I ask you nicely, you beast!"

She sailed into a haven between brooding and hysteria.  There was
again a household of three, gossiping, laughing familiarly, and
Cass was very happy about it, until he noticed how often in
arguments Jinny agreed with Bradd against him, how increasingly she
rebuked him for daring to differ with the elegant-minded Bradd.

Then, coming as suddenly as her earlier moods of silent grief and
relieving wildness and halcyon serenity, they were caught by an
outbreak of quarrels, which are the wars of matrimony, more
destructive and senseless than tanks and cannon, wars in which
affection is the worst traitor and the most ignoble defeat is
victory.



They were going, that October evening, to Madge Dedrick's for
dinner at eight, and Mrs. Dedrick was demanding about punctuality.
She was not so fanatic as Cass, to whom 8:00 meant 7:58 1/2, but
she did annoy society by insisting that 8:00 meant some time before
8:10.

Cass had explained all this to Jinny; oh, he had explained it!

She was well enough to return to Red Cross work.  Indeed the only
evidence of diabetes was a lightness and breathlessness in her, and
a faintly sharpened face which gave her an eager maturity.

She had not yet come home when Cass started to dress.  Madge
Dedrick was so elevated a personality, so close in station to an
archbishop or a woman-author-lecturer, that one dressed for dinner
at her house without inquiring.  At 7:01 he looked at his watch
again, sighed, and took off his coat.  At 7:02 he remarked to Cleo,
"Now where is your lovely young mistress, cat?"  At 7:04 he
continued, "Curious that so clear-minded and competent a girl
should be late so often," and, after thirty more seconds of
removing his vest and contemplatively scratching, "Do you suppose
it's just her way of trying to show that she's still an independent
human being?"

Cleo said she didn't know.

At 7:07, in one sock and a bathrobe, he tried to telephone to Red
Cross headquarters, raging that it was wicked of them to keep his
sick wife there so long, but there was no answer.

At 7:26, bathed, shaved for the second time that day, completely
dressed and quivering with worry, he heard Jinny bang into the
downstairs hall, singing "Roll out the Barrel," and skip joyfully
and undiabetically upstairs.

"Oh, HEL-lo!" she said cheerfully, as he looked into the hall.

He did not say that she was late.  Both their glances had already
said it adequately.  Cleo stalked downstairs as though she would
have nothing to do with such a woman.

"Am I in the dog-house!" muttered Jinny, but with no evidence of
repentance.

He stayed away from her and from the subject, then, till he had
heard her shower-bath and the stillness that indicated she was
making up.  He ambled nervously into her room and sat down while
she, a slightly absurd figure in bare shoulders above a gleamingly
hideous satin girdle, was at her dressing-table, penciling entirely
needless and imperceptible touches of blue on her eyelids, with as
much tranquillity as though she had five hours instead of five
minutes.

"Uh--" he said.

"I know I'm late.  I'm hustling."

"Not awful fast, dear; do hurry a little.  Madge hates to have
people late."

"You mean--"  In the most leisurely, comfortable way, Jinny
inspected her eyebrows and removed one hair with the tweezers,
after examining the instrument as though she was interested is the
historic evolution of its design and its possible unexplored future
uses.  "You mean, sweetheart, that she's also a fanatic about
punctuality?"

"Well, I don't know as I'd call her a FANATIC, but she doesn't care
much for having the fish-course spoiled."

"You ought to have married her."

"My dear Jinny, considering that she's almost thirty years older
than I am--"

"Okay, okay!  Then married her daughter.  Eve is such a lovely
widow, and quite rich, and still punctual.  Just the gal for you,
my boy."

"See here now!  I know I'm probably a crank about punctuality--"

"How did you guess it?"

"But you go too far the other way.  Unpunctual people betray the
fact that they lack all consideration for other people's rights and
feelings."

"Nuts!"  She was less merry now.  "I'm sick of always being on time
myself, and then being kept waiting."

"WHEN?"

"When?"

"Yes, when!  When did you ever have to wait for other people?"

"Oh, lots of times.  I do try to be on the dot, and usually I am,
too, but this rigid punctuality--it's like any other bankers-
association virtue; it isn't worth making everybody's life
miserable for."

"We're going to make Mrs. Dedrick miserable--"

"Not tonight, because prob'ly Bradd will be later than we are."

"Bradd?  What's he got to do with it?"

"He'll be there tonight."

"But how do you know he'll be late?"

"Because he just left me."

"Oh."

"And he has to do some phoning, as well as change, before he gets
to Madge's."

"You, uh--You saw Bradd this afternoon . . . too?"

"Yes.  I just told you.  He dropped me here."

"I thought you were at the Red Cross, and that closed two hours--"

"I was, but I got a headache, and I went out with him just to get
some fresh air."

"Did you phone him or did he just happen to drop in there?"

"I don't even remember.  Good Heavens, why all the fuss?"

"I'm not fussing.  I was just wondering.  Course I'm glad you went
out and--Where did you go?"

"To the Unstable.  Had a drink."

"Or maybe two drinks?"

"Yes, maybe two!  And why the cross-examination?"

"Bradd's been an amazingly loyal friend, the way he's backed me up
in my effort to get you to take some rest, but somehow it does seem
as though it's always he who's keeping you up late, or getting you
to take a cocktail--or a walnut-mocha-frozen-cream-puff!"

"Cass!  Are you criticizing Bradd Criley?  Your closest, most
devoted friend, the one man who most admires you as a person and as
a lawyer?"

"No, no, good Lord no!  I just meant--"

Empires have fallen from wars that began with "I just meant."

She had to hurry now, and they said nothing more, on the way to
Mrs. Dedrick's, than that for a warm October evening, it was warm.
They arrived fifteen minutes late, to find Mrs. Dedrick malignant--
and to find Bradd, placid and smiling, looking as though he had
been there for years.

Throughout the evening, Cass was rather dreary, but Jinny was full
of lively points.  She laughed with Bradd, but no more Cass noted,
than with Harley Bozard or Old Mr. Avondene.  He was in a small
torment, but not of jealousy; it was a torment of self-castigation
at finding himself back in her boarding-house, being schoolboyishly
jealous of Eino Roskinen.

--You took away the poor girl's job and her ambition, maybe took
away her health, and now you resent her even having a few gay
friends.  Bradd and she are so open about liking to play around
together that it would be obvious to anybody else that they're
entirely innocent in their liking.

--We were on the verge of a quarrel tonight.  Be careful.  Maybe
it's true, as you always claim, that you're never the one that
starts a quarrel, but you're certainly the one that never lets it
go once you get your teeth into it.

--I trust Bradd.  Utterly.

--I just wish I hadn't heard him tell once about his technique with
young married women--easing their consciences by praising their
husbands.

--He wouldn't do that with me--with Jinny.  Anyway, she's too
shrewd.  Of course he is fond of her.  Who wouldn't be?  Maybe
unconsciously he even likes her TOO much.  But never consciously.
But maybe it would be a good idea to suggest to him that he ought
not to get into a way of thinking he is in love with her.

--Yes?  And how would you say a thing like that to as experienced
an attorney as Mr. Criley, Judge?



In admission of the fact that Jinny was mildly ill, Cass always
took her home at ten--when he could get her away at ten.  Tonight,
he was amiable and firm about it, and in the car he was unendurably
bountiful.  It was Jinny, usually an unretaliatory girl though
impulsive, who was looking for trouble and ready to start a scene.

She jabbed, "You must have been absorbed in weighty thoughts
tonight.  You never even listened when Eve was telling us about the
Riviera."

"Heard it all before, I guess."

--Careful now!  She's resentful over your lecture about punctuality.
Be careful.

As they came into the house, he warned himself, "Don't tease her
about Bradd's getting there before we did, after all."  So he
looked affectionately at the heat-regulator, and said aloud, "Well,
Bradd got there before we did, after all!  We were the last
arrivals."

She stopped with her cape in folds about her arms, and launched her
burning dart:  "Yes, and he'd taken the trouble to put on a clean
dinner-jacket, too!"

"Do--"

"Don't you ever look at yourself in a mirror?  Don't you ever try
to be neat?"

"Me?"

"You've had a spot on your lapel all evening."

He craned at a white speck on the ribbed satin, not one of such
dimensions or vile color as to constitute a crime.  As he scratched
at it with his thumbnail, impenitent, irritated, she laid her cape
on a chair and turned on him again:

"Years ago, in Florida, I begged you not to slobber all over
yourself.  Especially lapels!"

"Yes, we're right back there, Jinny, and you haven't learned a
thing."

"What do you mean, I haven't learned a thing?  I've learned plenty!
I've learned that the more you talk about wanting me to be free and
individual, the more you always want me to do only what you want."

"Dearest, I honestly don't know why you started jumping on me."

"You don't?  Complaining because I went out for a breath of fresh
air with Bradd!  Sulking and screaming!"

"My dear girl, you can't sulk and scream at the same time.  They're
mutually contradictory."

"The judge-language!  It's as phony as preacher-language.  By the
way, poor Eino once asked me whether you would ever decide a case
against a very rich man, a Wargate, and I said of course you would,
but I begin to wonder."

While he gaped at this slander, the astounding irrelevancy of this
attack, she marched into the gray-and-mulberry effeminacy of their
living-room.  He did not want to follow her; he reminded himself
again that he did not readily give up a war once it had started.

Then he did want to follow her; he did want to fight the good bad
fight.

She was delicately taking a cigarette from a box of glass, lighting
it with relish, staring at the maimed Isis on her pedestal for
reassurance, then turning toward him with a cold unspoken query of
"Yes, and who may you be?"

She added, aloud, "I'm sure you'd find plenty of excuses for any
Wargate."

He was shouting, shouting small but well into the quarrel.

"Yes, if you really want to know, I'm a complete crook on the
bench.  And have you noticed any other faults?"

She enjoyed it as a good household cat enjoys chewing the tail of a
trapped barn-rat.  "I don't knew why you're bellowing at me merely
because I asked a civil question--one that I discussed with Judge
Blackstaff."

"And no doubt with Attorney Bradd Criley!"

"Naturally!"

"I suppose I ought to be glad, though, Jinny, that you take even
this much interest in my work.  You rarely do.  You never even ask
me, any longer, what cases I've had."

"I know.  Poor man.  There seem to be two kinds of husbands: those
that complain because their wives butt into their business and
those that complain because they don't--like you--and your
energetic friend Vince Osprey!"

He bit hard on a non-existent gag while Jinny breezed on, "And if
you really want to know about your other faults--I don't understand
why you were so rude to Old Mr. Avondene this evening--"

"Me?"

"--when he was trying to tell about the early days here, unless it
is that you always have to be the center of attention, you always
have to be The Judge, and expect obsequiousness from everybody."

That there was five per cent of truth in this did not relieve his
injury as she swept on, sweetly, lounging in a couch-corner, her
gestures graceful and patronizing:

"You think that everything you say is of so much importance to
everybody--not merely to poor untutored me, that you picked up out
of the gutter and tried to educate--and you don't even try to make
your dictums--"

"Dicta!"

"--clear, and you talk with your mouth full, and then if it ever
happens that people get sick of your egotism and turn their heads
away from you for even one second, you're furious with them--you're
mushy with self-pity because you can't put your importance over!"

He was appalled at her injustice, at her so recent tenderness
turning into this poison, yet he did have humor enough to see the
comedy of her springing on him when he had been so full of
information about HER faults of unpunctuality and skipping off with
every man who asked her.  He retreated from his high ground, and
said civilly, "I swear, Jinny, I don't know why you started this
scene."

"Why?"

"Yes, why?"

"Heaven's sake, don't echo me like a--like a--If you want to know
why--I hesitate to tell you, but after the way you rode me tonight--"

"I did not!"

"--and yelled that I simply love to keep people waiting and their
damn fish spoiling, I'll tell you.  Frankly, my friend, I don't
have much fun living with you."

She said it with none of the joyful hysteria of a lovers' quarrel,
but so evenly that he believed her.  He urged, slowly and
miserably, "Jinny, I've given you everything I have, and in return,
you are trying to destroy me."

As she casually rose and turned to go upstairs, she answered with
one infinitely contemptuous word:

"Piffle!"

That night they slept without having made it up, without having
spoken again.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

VIRGA VAY & ALLAN CEDAR


Orlo Vay, the Chippewa Avenue Optician, Smart-Art Harlequin Tinted-
Tortus Frames Our Specialty, was a public figure, as public as a
cemetery.  He was resentful that his profession, like that of an
undertaker, a professor of art, or a Mormon missionary, was not
appreciated for its patience and technical skill, as are the
callings of wholesale grocer or mistress or radiosports-
commentator, and he tried to make up for the professional injustice
by developing his personal glamor.

He wanted to Belong.  He was a speaker.  He was hearty and public
about the local baseball and hockey teams, about the Kiwanis Club,
about the Mayflower Congregational Church, and about all war
drives.  At forty-five he was bald, but the nobly glistening egg of
his face and forehead, whose arc was broken only by a pair of Vay
Li-Hi-Bifocals, was an adornment to all fund-raising rallies.

He urged his wife, Virga, to co-operate in his spiritual efforts,
but she was a small, scared, romantic woman, ten years his junior;
an admirer of passion in technicolor, a clipper-out of newspaper
lyrics about love and autumn smoke upon the hills.  He vainly
explained to her, "In these modern days, a woman can't fritter away
her time daydreaming.  She has to push her own weight, and not hide
it under a bushel."

Her solace was in her lover, Dr. Allan Cedar, the dentist.
Together, Virga and Allan would have been a most gentle pair,
small, clinging, and credulous.  But they could never be openly
together.  They were afraid of Mr. Vay and of Allan's fat and
vicious wife, Bertha, and they met at soda counters in outlying
drug stores and lovingly drank black-and-whites together or Jumbo
Malteds and, giggling, ate ferocious banana splits; or, till
wartime gasoline-rationing prevented, they sped out in Allan's
coupe by twilight, and made shy, eager love in mossy pastures or,
by the weak dashlight of the car, read aloud surprisingly good
recent poets:  Wallace Stevens, Sandburg, Robert Frost, Jeffers,
T. S. Eliot, Lindsay.

Allan was one of the best actors in the Masquers, and though Virga
could not act, she made costumes and hung about at rehearsals, and
thus they were able to meet, and to stir the suspicions of Bertha
Cedar.

Mrs. Cedar was a rare type of the vicious woman; she really hated
her husband, though she did not so much scold him as mock him for
his effeminate love of acting, for his verses, for his cherubic
mustache, and even for his skill with golden bridgework.  She
jeered, in the soap-reeking presence of her seven sisters and
sisters-in-law, all chewing gum and adjusting their plates, that as
a lover "Ally" had no staying-powers.  That's what SHE thought.

She said to her mother, "Ally is a bum dentist; he hasn't got a
single rich patient," and when they were at an evening party, she
communicated to the festal guests, "Ally can't even pick out a
necktie without asking my help," and on everything her husband said
she commented, "Oh, don't be silly!"

She demanded, and received, large sympathy from all the females she
knew, and as he was fond of golf and backgammon, she refused to
learn either of them.

Whenever she had irritated him into jumpiness, she said
judiciously, "You seem to be in a very nervous state."  She picked
at him about his crossword puzzles, about his stamp-collection,
until he screamed, invariably, "Oh, let me ALONE!" and then she was
able to say smugly, "I don't know what's the matter with you, so
touchy about every little thing.  You better go to a mind-doctor
and have your head examined."

Then Bertha quite unexpectedly inherited seven thousand dollars and
a house in San Jose, California, from a horrible aunt.  She did not
suggest to her husband but told him that they would move out to
that paradise for chilled Minnesotans, and he would practise there.

It occurred to Allan to murder her, but not to refuse to go along.
Many American males confuse their wives and the policeman on the
beat.

But he knew that it would be death for him to leave Virga Vay, and
that afternoon, when Virga slipped into his office at three o'clock
in response to his code telephone call of "This is the Superba
Market and we're sending you three bunches of asparagus," she
begged, "Couldn't we elope some place together?  Maybe we could get
a little farm."

"She'd find us.  She has a cousin who's a private detective in
Duluth."

"Yes, I guess she would.  Can't we EVER be together always?"

"There is one way--if you wouldn't be afraid."

He explained the way.

"No, I wouldn't be afraid, if you stayed right with me," she said.



Dr. Allan Cedar was an excellent amateur machinist.  On a Sunday
afternoon when Bertha was visiting her mother, he cut a hole
through the steel bottom of the luggage compartment of his small
dark-gray coupe.  This compartment opened into the body of the car.
That same day he stole the hose of their vacuum-cleaner and
concealed it up on the rafters of their galvanized-iron garage.

On Tuesday--this was in February--he bought a blue ready-made suit
at Goldenkron Brothers', on Ignatius Street.  He was easy to fit,
and no alterations were needed.  They wanted to deliver the suit
that afternoon, but he insisted, "No, hold it here for me and I'll
come in and put it on tomorrow morning.  I want to surprise
somebody."

"Your Missus will love it, Doc," said Monty Goldenkron.

"I hope she will--when she sees it!"

He also bought three white-linen shirts and a red bow-tie, and paid
cash for the lot.

"Your credit is good here, Doc--none better," protested Monty.

Allan puzzled him by the triumphant way in which he answered, "I
want to keep it good, just now!"

From Goldenkrons' he walked perkily to the Emporium, to the Golden
Rule drug store, to the Co-operative Dairy, paying his bills in
full at each.  On his way he saw a distinguished fellow-townsman,
Judge Timberlane, and his pretty wife.  Allan had never said ten
words to either of them, but he thought affectionately, "There's a
couple who are intelligent enough and warm-hearted enough to know
what love is worth."

That evening he said blandly to his wife, "Strangest thing happened
today.  The University school of dentistry telephoned me."

"Long distance?"

"Surely."

"Well!"   Her tone was less of disbelief than of disgust.

"They're having a special brush-up session for dentists and they
want me to come down to Minneapolis first thing tomorrow morning to
stay for three days and give instruction in bridge-work.  And of
course you must come along.  It's too bad I'll have to work from
nine in the morning till midnight--they do rush those special
courses so--but you can go to the movies by yourself, or just sit
comfortably in the hotel."

"No--thank--YOU!" said Bertha.  "I prefer to sit here at home.  Why
you couldn't have been an M.D. doctor and take out gall-bladders
and make some real money!  And I'll thank you to be home not later
than Sunday morning.  You know we have Sunday dinner with Mother."

He knew.

"I hope that long before that I'll be home," he said.

He told her that he would be staying at the Flora Hotel, in
Minneapolis.  But on Wednesday morning, after putting on the new
suit at Goldenkrons', he drove to St. Paul, through light
snowflakes which he thought of as fairies.  "But I haven't a bit of
real poet in me.  Just second-rate and banal," he sighed.  He tried
to make a poem, and got no farther than:


It is snowing,
The wind is blowing,
But I am happy to be going.


In St. Paul he went to the small, clean Hotel Orkness, registered
as "Mr. A. M. Romeo & wife," asked for a room with a double bed,
and explained to the clerk, "My wife is coming by train.  She
should be here in about seventeen minutes now, I figure it."

He went unenthusiastically to the palsied elevator, up to their
room.  It was tidy, and on the wall was an Adolph Dehn lithograph
instead of the fake English-hunting-print that he had dreaded.  He
kneaded the bed with his fist.  He was pleased.

Virga Vay arrived nineteen minutes later, with a bellboy carrying
her new imitation-leather bag.

"So you're here, husband.  Not a bad room," she said indifferently.

The bellboy knew from her indifference and from her calling the man
"husband" that she was not married to him, but unstintingly in
love.  Such paradoxes are so common in his subterranean business
that he had forgotten about Virga by the time he reached his bench
in the lobby.  Six stories above him, Virga and Allan were lost and
blind and quivering in their kiss.

Presently she said, "Oh, you have a new suit!  Turn around.  Why,
it fits beautifully!  And such a nice red tie.  You do look so
young and cute in a bow-tie.  Did you get it for me?"

"Of course.  And then--I kind of hate to speak of it now, but I
want us to get so used to the idea that we can just forget it--I
don't want us to look frowsy when they find us.  As if we hadn't
been happy.  And we WILL be--we are!"

"Yes."

"You're still game for it?"

"With you?  For anything."

He was taking off the new suit; she was tenderly lifting from her
bag a nightgown which she had made and embroidered this past week.

They had all their meals in the room; they did not leave it till
afternoon of the next day.  The air became a little close, thick
from perfume and cigarette smoke and the bubble baths they took
together.

Late the next afternoon they dressed and packed their bags,
completely.  He laid on the bureau two ten-dollar bills.  They left
the luggage at the foot of their bed, which she had made up.  She
took nothing from the room, and he nothing except a paper bag
containing a bottle of Bourbon whisky, with the cork loosened, and
a pocket anthology of new poetry.  At the door she looked back, and
said to him, "I shall remember this dear room as long as we live."

"Yes. . . .  As long as we live."

He took his dark-gray coupe out of the hotel garage, tipping an
amazed attendant one dollar, and they drove to Indian Mounds Park,
overlooking the erratic Mississippi.  He stopped in the park, at
dusk, and said, "Think of the Indians that came along here, and
Pike and Lewis Cass!"

"They were brave," she mused.

"Brave, TOO!"  They nervously laughed.  Indeed, after a moment of
solemnity when they had left the hotel, they had been constantly
gay, laughing at everything, even when she sneezed and he piped,
"No more worry about catching pneumonia!"

He drove into a small street near by and parked the car, distant
from any house.  Working in the half-darkness, leaving the engine
running, he pushed the vacuum-cleaner hose through the hole in the
bottom of the luggage compartment, wired it to the exhaust pipe,
and hastily got back into the car.  The windows were closed.
Already the air in the car was sick-sweet with carbon monoxide.

He slipped the whisky bottle out of the paper bag and tenderly
urged, "Take a swig of this.  Keep your courage up."

"Dearest, I don't need anything to keep it up."

"I do, by golly.  I'm not a big he-man like you, Virg!"

They both laughed, and drank from the bottle, and kissed
lingeringly.

"I wonder if I could smoke a cigarette.  I don't THINK C2O2 is
explosive," he speculated.

"Oh, sweet, be careful!  It MIGHT explode!"

"Yes, it--"  Then he shouted.  "Listen at us!  As if we cared if we
got blown up now!"

"Oh, I am too brainless, Allan!  I don't know if you'll be able to
stand me much longer."

"As long as we live, my darling, my very dear, oh, my dear love!"

"As long as we live.  Together now.  Together."

His head aching, his throat sore, he forgot to light the cigarette.
He switched on the tiny dashlight, he lifted up the book as though
it were a bar of lead, and from Conrad Aiken's "Sea Holly" he began
to read to her:


It was for this
Barren beauty, barrenness of rock that aches
On the seaward path, seeing the fruitful sea,
Hearing the lark of rock that sings--


He was too drowsy to read more than just the ending:


Stone pain in the stony heart,
The rock loved and labored; and all is lost.


The book fell to the seat, his head drooped, and his arm groped
drowsily about her.  She rested contentedly, in vast dreams, her
head secure upon his shoulder.

Harsh screaming snatched them back from paradise.  The car windows
were smashed, someone was dragging them out . . . and Bertha was
slapping Virga's face, while Bertha's cousin, the detective, was
beating Allan's shoulders with a blackjack, to bring him to.  In
doing so, he broke Allan's jaw.  Bertha drove him back to Grand
Republic and nursed him while he was in bed, jeering to the harpies
whom she had invited in, "Ally tried to--you know--with a woman,
but he was no good, and he was so ashamed he tried to kill
himself."

He kept muttering, "Please go away and don't torture me."

She laughed.

Later, Bertha was able to intercept every one of the letters that
Virga sent to him from Des Moines, where she had gone to work in a
five-and-ten-cent store after Orlo had virtuously divorced her.

"Love!  Ally is learning what that kind of mush gets you," Bertha
explained to her attentive women friends.



39


Their Autumn season of quarrels was to Cass as devastating and as
senseless as a thunderstorm.  Jinny was ill, and sometimes bored,
yet why hadn't she imagination enough to see that he was often
bored and worried as well?  Why, when most of the time she was gay
and full of small surprises for him and seemed tranquilly to love
him, did she, under the horrible black magic of the quarrel, turn
in ten seconds into his enemy, the hearth-fire suddenly burning
down the house?

What did Jinny want?  Security, scenery, power, the ability to
recognize a quotation from Steinbeck, a ruby-and-diamond bracelet,
a sense of self-discipline, the love of a tangible God, a red canoe
with yellow cushions, an unblemished skin, venison with sauce
Cumberland, many children, a seventy-five-dollar hat from New York,
a request to speak on a nation-wide hookup, dawn beside Walden
Pond, the certainty of her husband's affection, or an Irish
wolfhound?  He did not know, and she was not quite certain.  And in
which of these virtuous desires could he most sympathize with her?

It was difficult for each of them to guess the other's momentary
moods.  They ought to be labeled, for warning.  He ought to put on
the sign, "Stern jurist--he careful" or "Playboy--willing to
dance"; she should bear the direction "Wistful little girl" or
"Termagant--dangerous" or "Sensitive artist who has been drawing in
secret but expects her husband to be so discerning as to guess it
and congratulate her."  Then each of them would know how to start
off the evening, and have nothing to quarrel about--except each
other's friends, which will be a troublesome topic even among the
angels in Heaven, where spirit will say crossly to spirit, "Who was
that awful harp-player I saw you flying with last eon?"

There were many springboards for quarrels: he liked the windows
open, she shriveled in the cold; he liked pork chops, she liked
chow mein; he had been too jocular with Diantha Marl, she too
chilly with Judge Flaaten; he wanted to stay home, she wanted to go
to the movies--so they went to the movies.  And there he dared to
consider himself a cinema critic and sniffed at her beloved swing
musicians capering as would-be actors.  But of them all, there was
only one cause: they did not know what they wanted.

There were so many things that could lead to disagreements; there
were so many disagreements that could lead to quarrels.  As with
almost any couple, she would insist on candlelight and he would
snort that he liked to be able to see what he was eating.  She
would devote artistic agonies to curtains, and he would demand why
it was that you dug a window through the wall to get air and light,
and then covered it over, very expensively, so that you got
neither.  He would irritably feel that he must have her permission
before he invited the Wolkes in, and discover that she was sulky
because she had been thinking that she must have his permission to
do the same thing.

Their quarrels always went the same course and always wound up in
the same accusations, dreary as slate and vicious as secret poison.
They said things they could not possibly have said.  He called her
a "sponge" and a "torturer"; she shrieked that he was unimaginative,
ignorant, and a liar.  Usually, somewhere early in the quarrel, was
the rueful, "I was just enjoying myself so much, and now you've
gone and spoiled it all."

Slights that had been forgotten for months woke up, and they
protested, "What did you mean when you said I 'liked to hurt
people's feelings' that time--last January, I think it was?"  And,
"I won't stand any more of this!" with "Is that so!" regarded as a
logical answer.  The ritual response to "If you're going to be
stubborn, I'll just have to show you I can be stubborn, too!" was
"You don't have to SHOW me!" and to "Now whose fault was THAT, I'd
like to know!" the counterblow was "Not MY fault, certainly!"

And "Of course anything that Bradd or Tracy (or Chris or Stella)
does is PERFECT, but if I do anything, it's always wrong."  And--
once the two of them began saying it at the same time--"The trouble
with you is, you're utterly SELFISH."  And sometimes, from either
of them, the senseless, maniacal "Oh, shut up, shut up, shut up!"
or the calmly said, devastating "I can tell you what I'M going to
do: I'm going to leave this house right now, and I hope I never see
you again.  Oh, I mean it--this time.  Never!"

None of their slurs meant anything except that each of them was
unhappy because the other was unhappy.  They were not things said;
they were sweeps of their claws, in the jungle; and they were less
distressing than the long, thick silences, during the quarrels,
when they sat blankly, trying to think what it was that they were
trying to think.

When they made up, as they always did, they wailed, "Oh, I couldn't
have said that to you.  I know I couldn't, because I've never even
thought it."

They had said it, though.

"How could we ever have acted like that?" they marveled, and they
vowed, "We'll never quarrel again, not over ANYTHING!  Why,
darling, you can call me a three-tailed monster, and I'll take it
and like it."

She begged, "You take me too seriously, when I fly off the handle.
It doesn't mean a thing--it's just one of my tantrums.  When I act
childish, if you'd just say, 'There, there now, baby,' why, I'd
snap right out of it."

She didn't.

He asserted that, if they had to change themselves in order to
avoid quarreling, it was she who could change most, because she was
less stiffened by the formalism of law and politics.  Ah, there,
she said enthusiastically, was an idea!  For two days she was
energetically holy and patient, after which they quarreled because
he had not noticed it.

Sometimes in the most heated middle of a dispute, he most loved
her, and he was violent and rather unpleasant with her only because
he was afraid.

He realized now that it was he who loved the more, but he knew that
in love it is truly more blessed to give than to receive, and he
was sorry for her that--apparently--she could not know the
exaltation of passion for another being.

After every quarrel, when the emotion had burned itself out, he was
as confused about what had happened as a man who has been in
delirium.

--Just how did I get angry at her, anyway?  Just what was it I
said, and how did she answer?  I seem to have said dreadful things,
but I can't remember.

--But it won't happen again.  Now that I understand that her moods
are never as deep as they seem, I'll be patient.  And so will she.
She finally SAID she would!  The trouble with her is that she's too
honest.  She has to blurt out whatever she thinks.  She couldn't
ever conceal anything: a dislike or an unhappiness or a passionate
liking.  But now that I understand this, we won't have any more
disagreements--no more--ever!



40


She had gone to bed early, that November evening, purring, "I think
I'll get enough rest for once, just to show I can do it."

"Shall I come in and kiss you good night, when I come up?"

"No, I'll probably be asleep.  But I'll allow you to kiss me now."
Decisively.  But quite affectionately.  But quite decisively.

That was before ten.  He would normally have read--"have caught up
on his reading," as he put it--till twelve or one, but he sat
brooding about her.  He longed to make love to her, he was cold
without her warmth, he was lonely without her reaching out for him.
All evening he had been lonely for her even while he was in her
presence, not ten feet away.

The weather of late autumn was angry, and their cabin of steel and
rock-wool and white pine and stucco seemed to be shaking in the
gale.  He felt snatched back ninety years ago, to the pioneer
insecurities of the far-northern winter.  He draped the mulberry
curtains about him to shut off the light of the room, and looked
out, toward a street lamp, through slanting lines of sleet.  The
blue spruce in the yard was glassy with wet and hateful coldness.

If he could be up there, cozy with her, some miracle might restore
the passion she had once felt for him.

He turned back into the room, stared at a gilt clock, stared at the
crystal Isis, without seeing them.  Cleo came blandly talking
around his feet, like a little feline floor-walker in a department
store of the affections, but he did not hear her.  He was
admitting, for the first time unflinchingly, that though they had
been married a month less than two years, though his passion was
only the stronger, he had become hesitating about revealing it to
her, because he was no longer sure how much of it she could return--
not sure that she felt any of it at all.

He reflected that she never, of herself, came to his bed now, and
that he never went to hers with certainty that her arched and
welcoming arms would greet him.

Oh, it would come out all right--there were reasons--she was ill
but she would get better--their quarrels had curdled her simple
emotions--she was still too interested in other men, Jay and Bradd
and Greg Marl and God-knows-who.  But in a few years she would grow
up and she would be well and then all her ardor would be for him
alone.

But he did not want her "in a few years"; he wanted her tonight.

He chased Cleo into the kitchen rather crossly; he put out the
downstairs lights, tiptoed up, and guiltily listened outside her
door.  He heard nothing.

Probably asleep.  Well, that was fine, wasn't it?  He was glad she
was taking care of herself, wasn't he?  He'd just undress and read
in his dressing-gown.  She, uh, she might awaken and want him to
read aloud to her. . . .  Not that she ever did or ever had. . . .
Still, she might. . . .  He'd keep the door of his room open, so he
could listen.

When he had undressed, he heard from her room the tap of a cosmetic
bottle or perhaps a pair of manicure scissors on the glass top of
her dressing-table.

She was unable to get to sleep then?

Too bad, but--

He took a long time in going to make a light tattoo on her door.
He was restrained by the singularly disconcerting memory of having
read somewhere about "The sneaking look that every wife sees on the
face of her husband when he ventures into her room."

Damn it, something wrong with both of them, then!  So he marched
in.

She said "Hello" blithely; she looked up from her dressing-table
pleasantly, and most pleasantly she commented, "You going to bed
early too?"

That was the trouble; she was so pleasant and safe, and so unmoved
by his entrance; she had neither rapture nor wrath nor fear.  Well,
he didn't expect too much; but she had no INTEREST!

"Isn't it kind of late for you to be making up, young lady?  You
planning to go to the club?"

"Sure.  And dance! . . .  Oh, I couldn't drop off to sleep, so I'm
trying some experiments with mascara."

He folded his hands round her breasts, kissed the top of her head.
Her whole body remained still, unquivering.  She patted one of his
hands, too amiably, and she turned her head to look into the mirror
again, forgetting him.

"Good night," he said sadly, and with the most sweet and devastating
carelessness she answered, "Night, dear."

In his great chair, he did not read.  He was trying not to think of
the name of Bradd Criley.



He had been doubting the entire innocence of Bradd's solicitude for
Jinny, and he had been guiltily relieved when the gossiping Madge
Dedrick had let him into the secret that Bradd was showing too much
interest in Bernice, wife of Perry Claywheel, superintendent of
schools.  Bernice had a pale Swinburnian beauty; pale beyond porch
and portal and movie-theater lobby she stood, hoping that people
were thinking how interesting she looked.  Even Mrs. Dedrick
admitted that she had a "kind of washed-out good looks."

To that information (Cass remembered now) he had objected, "I do
hope you're wrong; I hope Bradd hasn't got tangled up with
anybody," as sincerely as possible, which was not very sincerely.
"Claywheel is anemic, but he's a good scholar and very kind to the
kids, and I wouldn't want him to be hurt.  I know Bradd is an
expert charmer, but I don't think he'd ever be such a poor
sportsman, and so treacherous, as to stalk easy game like Bernice."

Madge had jeered, "Your friend Bradd is a busy man, and the only
reason he doesn't rope in all the women--including me and my
daughter and your wife--is that he can't find time.  Don't you
think for one moment that Ber-nyce will monopolize him."  So Cass
remembered, in his chair.

--I wonder if the explanation of Bradd's recent attentions to Jinny
could be that he is pretending to be so taken with her--but in all
propriety, of course--in order to mask an intrigue with Bernice?

--Cass, you know you don't believe that!

--I have to.  I'll believe anything, except that these two, nearest
to me in the world, are beginning to conspire against me.



Bradd did not drop in so often, now that Jinny was not homebound by
illness and pregnancy, but he was even more intimate.  He knew
where the fuse-box was, and the orange bitters, and the saltines;
he knew how to work the electric dish-washer; he knew the fact that
Jinny liked a cup of beef tea--that is, she didn't like it, but she
was willing to consume it before she went to bed.

On Mrs. Higbee's Thursday-night-out, Jinny had invited Bradd in for
cold supper.

"You sit still and take it easy and Jin and I will bounce out to
the kitchen and bring in the chow," said Bradd patronizingly to Old
Man Timberlane.

The Old Man was irritated, and at supper not very conversational.
His liveliest thoughts were that he hated cold ham and sausage and
tongue, and that he considered cold artichoke vinaigrette one of
the least excusable substitutes for food.

Bradd rumbled, "Don't disturb the Jedge.  He's thinking about quos
Deus vult perdere prius dementat."

"Is that legal Latin?" Jinny asked admiringly.

"Well, it could be, in certain cases.  And then again, the Jedge
might be thinking about the Supreme Court bench."

"Or about his corns!" giggled Jinny.

"Go on, tease me all you want to, children.  I'm tired," Cass said
good-naturedly.  He hoped it sounded good-natured.

"Aw, the old fellow is tired," mocked Jinny.

"Sure.  He's all worn out fining lawyers for contempt of court!"

With a nameless melancholy, Cass could not rise to their gaiety.
He sat owlishly watching the Bright Young People.  He warned
himself, "She's having a good time.  I mustn't spoil it for her."
But he again felt lonely for her even in her presence; he felt left
out of it, felt that it was he who was the unnecessary and
tolerated third.

They were talking derisively about that earnest young attorney
Vincent Osprey and his blundering devotion to his wife Cerise.
Cass noted that under Bradd's tutelage, Jinny was increasingly
supercilious about people who did not know bridge, Vogue magazine,
and wine vintages. . . .  Not that Bradd or she knew much about any
of them, either.

Bradd cackled, "Vince said to me he wished he could get his dear
Cerise to come to court and listen to him.  He said she admired his
tennis, and was all het up about his high diving, and maybe if he
could sell her on his oratory, she would quit thinking he was the
family cow."

"You don't give Vince credit," Jinny jeered.  "He's very important.
He's finally proved that virtue is always duller than vice."

Cass burst.  "You two superior intellects make me tired!  Osprey is
no Rufus Choate, but there's nothing funny about the poor devil's
adoration of his wife.  He'd die for her, and she'd be amused
watching him do it."

"Do you think that's very sensible of him?" objected Jinny.

"No, I think it's idiotic, but somehow heroic, in this day of loose
affections."

"Tut!" pronounced his wife.  "It's idioticer than it is heroic.
You know, Cass, sometimes I think Vince Osprey is a burlesque of
your own remarkable virtues."

"I find nothing whatever funny about marital fidelity and
devotion!"

"Well, I'm sure we're glad to hear that," she said coolly.  "I'll
get the cake and ice cream."

When she was gone, Bradd seriously admonished him, "You oughtn't
to yell at Jinny like that, Cass.  I wonder if you realize how
sensitive she is, even when she's being funny.  You ought not to
pick on her so.  Well, I better go help her with the dessert."

Cass was exploding with emotions, all colored red.  For this
outsider to tell HIM that Jinny was sensitive! to tell HIM not to
"pick on her"! to pat her pretty back after she had ridiculed every
sanctity of love!

He cooled down and thought it all over again.  He was angry, and
then, as usual, he fretted, "Mustn't spoil her party."  But hot or
cold, he came always to the same verdict:

"This is just a little bit too much!  I don't like guests, no
matter who they are, that come in and make over my house!"

He noted that Bradd and Jinny took five minutes to bring in three
plates of ice cream and sponge cake.  All the rest of the evening
he was violently quiet and painfully amiable, and spectacularly did
not notice it at all when Bradd kissed Jinny good night on the
cheek as though it were anything but her cheek that he was kissing.

When Jinny had gone to bed, Cass thought over the case he had had
in court two days before, an accident case, with Vincent Osprey
representing the injured workman and Bradd Criley the Wargate
Corporation.  Bradd had been so suave--too suave.  Cass had advised
Vince, in chambers, to use witnesses less melodramatic and more
factual, but Vince could not get away from the charms of sobbing
relatives.

The deft Mr. Criley had won.



After lunch at the Federal Club, Roy Drover commanded Cass, "Come
on in the bar.  I want to talk to you."

When they were in two red-leather chairs with elephantiasis, Roy
grumbled:

"I'm supposed to be a friend of yours as well as your physician,
and of Bradd's, too, and I know I'm risking all that by butting in,
but I'm not one of these hand-holding bedside docs.  I'm too much
of a man to sit back and watch you make a fool of yourself."

"What--"

"Fellow, you got to do something about Bradd and your wife.  Town's
beginning to talk.  They're playing a little too much footie-
footie."

"Now you look--"

"Hey, hold your horses, Cass.  Don't get sore, I want you to look
at this in a practical way.  Don't get sore at the kid, either;
she's fairly young, and a lot less brainy 'n you give her credit
for.  I just want you to stop all their sweetie stuff before it
goes too far.  And don't get sore."

"I'm not--really.  But it's all nonsense.  I know Jinny and Bradd
are good friends, but I'm glad of it, and they never even see each
other, except at my house in my presence."

"Sure of that?"

"Oh, sometimes they drive down to the Unstable for a drink, but
she always tells me about it, and they invite me to come and join
them . . . usually."

"What would you say if I told you they were meeting at plenty of
other places?"

"I'd say that--"

"Careful, now!"

"I would doubt it.  Oh, sometimes by accident, of course--city as
small as this--but never deliberately, never, and--Where do they
meet?"

"Well, I don't know that they go to Bradd's house, though I've seen
her driving that way, all by herself.  You're in court all day; you
don't get around like I do!  And I definitely saw them having lunch
together at that God-awful little Italian doggery or fettacheeney
or whatever they call it, Lorenzo's, I think they call it, way down
on Isanti Avenue, in the South End.  I had a patient down there,
and I saw 'em through the window in the Italian dump, and I was in
the house nearly two hours, and when I came out, the little love-
birds were still there, laughing and having themselves a whale of a
time.  Did she ever tell you about that?"

"No, she--Oh, I don't remember.  Anyway, there's nothing to it."

"I know there isn't.  There's nothing to having one pneumococcus in
your throat, but when you get a few billion, you're sick.  Anyway,
they certainly are seeing a lot more of each other than you know or
I know."

"Don't be a suspicious old woman, Roy.  Get down to fundamentals.
Look at their characters."

"I have!"

"Next to you, Bradd is my oldest and closest friend.  When the
three of us went hunting, as kids--"

"We're not kids any more.  At least, I ain't!  Sure, Bradd is a
good guy--except he thinks he's called to be God's little gift to
women.  He wouldn't steal your pocketbook--unless it had over a
thousand bucks in it--but if he stole your wife, he'd think he was
doing her a favor--and maybe you."

"That'd be black treachery, and Bradd couldn't ever be treacherous.
I know him in the court room.  He enjoys life and enjoys people and
he'd do anything for you--"

"Say, for God's sake, is your whole family conducting an
advertising campaign for Mr. Criley?  Sure, the jolly little
playboy, and underneath his whimsy-whamsy, he's the coldest-hearted
rich-man's lawyer and the most calculating woman-chaser in the
State of Minnesota.  You know that.  It don't keep him from being a
swell pal on the duck-pass, but he's no bishop.

"Now I don't believe they're sleeping together--not yet.  But same
time, after having her baby and being sick and all the rest, and
married to a man who's no infant, she isn't the timid virgin any
longer.  I don't think she's actually two-timing you, and I guess
she'd prefer to run straight, but she'd no longer be as scared of a
little romp in the hay as--well, as you'd be.  I think you can stop
her, and I think you SHOULD, but first you got to find out what's
actually going on.

"Say, I got an idea.  Why don't I tell Lillian to snoop around and
follow them and find out what they're up to?  She's none too smart,
but they'd never suspect HER, and I WILL say you can trust her to
keep her trap shut."

Cass was too astonished to be indignant.  Of all women living,
Roy's shrinking wife was probably the least suited to spying.

"Well, what do you think of the idea?"

"No, I wouldn't want that done for anything!"

"Don't you WANT to know what they're up to?"

"Yes, I suppose I do."

"Don't you think it's important?"

"Roy, it's confusing for a man who's supposed to be reasonably
decent to believe that his wife, whom he worships, for whom he'd
throw overboard everything and everybody, may be an adultress."

"There's an old-fashioned word for you!"

"It's an old-fashioned quandary.  It goes back to Eve and the
serpent.  I'm sure the real discussion in Eden wasn't about apples.
Hang it, I don't know which is worse: to believe that a woman's
adultery is the only form of disloyalty that matters, and she ought
to be smashed for it; or to have this new-fangled idea that it
doesn't matter at all, that infidelity is all good fun between
friends.  Both attitudes make me sick.  But to have to think of
such things about Jinny . . ."

"I always did tell you you had no sense of humor, Cass, and you're
a fanatic about your wife.  You laymen never understand psychology,
like a doc has to.  Jinny's all right--I guess--but she ain't the
poet's dream you make her out to be, not by a long shot.  The
sooner you realize it and tell her she can either behave herself or
get out, the happier you'll be.  Incidentally, she's made you look
a lot older."

"That's nonsense."

"It is, eh?  That's a guaranteed way of getting old--trying to keep
up with a skittish wife.  Okay.  My only interest in the whole
business is that in my own roughneck way--I guess I'm too
forthright and scientific for the kind of Eastern, pansy burg that
Grand Republic is getting to be--my only concern is, I don't like
to see you taken for a ride."

There was more of it, much more, but Cass did not hear him.



He was not sleepy in court that afternoon.  He listened with bleak
attention to a case involving the theft of a woman's good name and
seven pounds of grass seed.  He looked grim as a wintertime Sioux
warrior as he tacked and skidded his car on the December-bleached
roadway.

As he walked into the house, he heard Jinny telephoning:

"I don't know. . . .  No, I can't tell. . . .  I'll see-ee. . . .
Now don't be so naughty, and keep coaxing. . . .  Bye, dear."

He did not ask to whom she was telephoning.  He knew.

He was attentive through dinner, and then, for the first time, he
launched a quarrel intentionally:

"Sit down, Jinny, and be quiet.  I want to talk."

"Do--"

"Yes, I intend to start a 'scene'--a bad one.  Look.  Bradd Criley
is around this house too much, and you see too much of him outside.
I don't think it's gone too far yet--now listen!--but it certainly
will if you don't come to your senses.  I grant you all of his
charms and virtues, and don't tell me what a good friend of mine
he's been--I know it.  But he's a thief--a thief of love and a
thief of security, a scheming and deliberate thief.  He wants what
he wants, and he doesn't care much how many lives he may twist in
getting it.  I don't intend to see him let you down, as he lets
down every friend, every woman, when he gets tired of them.  That's
all I have to say, but I warn you, I mean it."

"Are you quite finished?"

"I hope so.  Except that I'm now convinced that it's been Bradd in
the background who's been the unseen cause of most of our quarrels.
That's all."

"Then let me tell you, just let me tell you--"

"Quit it!"

"W-what?"

"Quit being dramatic.  Be as nasty as you want to, but don't act
Lady Macbeth.  Talk sense.  Let's not play at murder-trial.  I'm in
the business."

"Oh, I never hated you before, but when you get so smug, so
conceited, so fatuous--'I'm in the business'!"

"Dear love, you know I'm not fatuous--just clumsy.  I'm trying to
be firm and convince you that I'm not going to tolerate this
philandering.  Bradd is a closed case."

She was confused and almost meek in her retort of "Oh, you think
so, do you!" but she worked herself up into suitable wrath.  She
punched a pillow and launched out:

"Do you usually try criminals without giving them a chance to
defend themselves?  If Bradd were here, and you even dared to HINT
at what you call his 'treachery,' he'd knock you down."

"Sorry.  He couldn't."

"And when you stood there like a prizefighter, with your manly foot
on his chest, you'd expect me to admire you?"

"Sweet, stop it.  This has nothing to do with the fact that I will
not stand for Bradd."

"Then why tell ME?  Why don't you tell HIM?  If you're going to act
the noble affronted husband, why don't you DO it?  Make up your
mind!"

He remarked, "All right."  He crossed casually to the telephone.
He got Bradd, at the Avondenes', and said, "I wish you could drive
out here.  It's quite important.  I'll explain when you get here."

During the half-hour while they waited, Cass and Jinny were
extremely civil.  They said, Have you heard the war news?  They
said, There's a hole burned in the rug in the sun-room.  They said,
I don't think the furnace is giving the heat it ought to.

Bradd came in, snowy and smiling.  Cass spoke to him with no
unusual expression in his voice:

"I wish you'd be careful in answering what I'm going to say, Bradd,
and not too touchy, because I don't want to lose your friendship.
It's been a valued possession for a great many years."

"You sound serious, Jedge."

"Bradd, you're too attentive to Jinny.  People are talking.  That's
not so important to me as the fact that I'm thinking!"

"You mean to say--"

"Yes.  You've gone beyond safe companionship with Jinny, but I
believe you can cut it out and we can be friendly again, instead of
a pretty silly and nasty triangle."

"What's suddenly started all this?"

"Being forced to admit what I already knew."

"You really believe that I have what the prudes call 'evil
intentions' toward Jinny?"

"Yes."

"What?"

"I said Yes."

"Really--"

"I don't think she has.  But I think you have.  Though I also think
that you've had so many affairs that you'll never be able to feel
very deeply about her or any other woman now."

Bradd rose quietly.  "What proof have you of your suspicions?"

"I didn't have any till this second, when you asked that defensive
question."

"You call that proof!"

"Bradd, don't be insulted, don't be a comedy villain.  There's too
little love OR friendship in life."  He astonished Bradd, he
overwhelmed Jinny, and he considerably surprised himself by
grasping Bradd's arm, and urging, "I love her, and I'm fond of you.
I would have gone to you, instead of having the impertinence of
asking you to come here just to get bawled out, but I wanted Jinny
to know just what I really said.  Don't say anything now.  You must
decide whether you want to hate me or not.  But if we three decent
people can't get along in honesty, then there's no hope for anybody
anywhere."

"Good night," Bradd said flatly, and, as he left them, for the
first time in twenty years, he looked confused.

Then Cass turned wearily to Jinny, and prepared to be denounced.

She moved toward him shyly, and muttered, "You're so superior to
that fellow!  I knew it all along, but I was just being stubborn.
I do love you, and he--he's yellow!"

"I don't know that I'd call him yellow.  He's really a nice man."

"'Nice' he ain't!  I could tell you a lot of things about him that
you don't know.  But the point is that you've gone and taken me
away from him again, as you do with all my beaux."

"Good!"

"And--uh--Cass, it never did go very far with Bradd and me.  Just
sort of a careless kiss."

"I'm glad."

"YOU'RE glad?  Gee, maybe I'm not!  Sweet dear!"



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

PERRY & BERNICE CLAYWHEEL


Perry Claywheel, superintendent of schools of Grand Republic and
president of its small Junior College, was an enterprising and
liberal educator.  He fought to have the meager salaries of his
teachers increased, and every summer he read several books.

He admired and even liked his lily-pale consort, Bernice, but he
was almost impotent to make love to her, and they had no children.

Bernice, that prim wanton, was no nymphomaniac.  She said,
extraordinarily often, "I think All Those Things are too much
discussed."  But she did have a normal longing for passion, and she
went shyly tripping to Dr. Drover.

"I'm sure you'll believe me, Doctor, when I tell you that I
entirely disapprove of immorality, and still more of showing bad
taste.  But what can I do?  My husband leaves me so dissatisfied
that sometimes I can't think of anything else, and I'm afraid I'll
go crazy.  What do you advise?"

"Why don't you try to do your job right and get him interested?
You probably scare him off."

"You mean the arts of love?"

"Huh?  Yuh, I guess you could call it that."

"To me, Doctor, that would be sordid, and unmodern, like a slave-
woman.  I must have romance--all the beauty that the movies make an
effort to show.  I deserve it!  And if Perry can't give it to me--
It isn't that I want an 'affair,' but if I don't have one, I'm
afraid I'll go crazy.  I feel so nervous.  But if I, uh, go with a
man of my own social class, I'm afraid it will get out, and
honestly, I wouldn't want to jeopardize my husband's important
position.  And if I picked up some common person, I'd be terrified
of blackmail.  Tell me, Doctor--I'm dreadfully ashamed to even ask
this, but are there--uh--places where women can go, as there are
places where men go?"

"No!  Besides, I don't know what you're talking about.  That's a
problem you'll have to work out by yourself," snapped the virtuous
Dr. Drover.

Both Bernice and Dr. Drover regarded themselves as persons who had
learned the facts of life.

When she was in this wretched way of feeling, she took some papers
for her husband to Bradd Criley.  It was late in the afternoon, a
rainy October afternoon, and Mr. Criley's stenographer had gone.
He remembered, with surprise, that just then he had no affair on
whatever, except for an interest in Jinny Timberlane which that
fractious girl had never permitted to go beyond flirtation.  He
looked at Bernice and thought how lovely she was, shining in the
putrescent autumn light.  He led her to the leather couch and
kissed her.

Even with his professional experience, he was surprised by the way
in which she instantly went to pieces.  She cried "Oh!" and almost
smothered him with her reaching arms, and seemed about to eat him
up.  "Is she hot!" he thought.

They met half a dozen times in a month, and he told himself--
indeed, he rather hinted to his friend Dr. Drover--that he was a
public benefactor.  Bernice asked him whether they were "really
doing the right thing," and he assured her--at first--that it was
"necessary for her health."

What began to bore him, what made him cut the affair off even more
quickly than usual, was the fact that Bernice kept moaning, "Oh,
lover, we oughtn't to be doing this to Perry."

"Where do you get that 'we'?" he protested, first to himself but
presently to her, and she wept enough, she acted badly enough, so
that he was able to break it off with quite a show of indignation.

Now Perry Claywheel had been convincing himself that he was
becoming a better lover, recently.  There was a teacher, not too
young, who thought fairly well of him--not that they did anything
really wrong, you understand.

On the night after Bernice's first visit to Bradd, Perry had turned
to her, in their golden-oak double bed, with a slight quiver of
rapture, but she had said sharply, "Oh, not tonight.  Anyway, it's
not good for you."

He protested that it WAS good for him, and that he longed for her,
and as she continued to refuse him, with more and more resentment,
as though he were a preposterous stranger, he could think of
nothing but his desire to be with her.  He trembled with a
conceptive agony that, in his humiliation, was not uncolored with
madness.

He did not try to persuade her again.  However he might long for
her imaginatively, in her presence he became powerless.  He had a
shameful feeling that he was not quite a man, that his failure was
incurable.

He was afraid of her, though he still wanted her to think of him as
a possible lover for some time in the future, when she should have
got over this curious triumphant mood of hers, which he could not
understand.  Looking about Grand Republic, he suspected that many
husbands were afraid of their wives, quiveringly trying to placate
those small tyrants.  He wondered if there was any country save
America in which a large share of the men were frightened
continuously by their own wives.

With all this, he became irritable at school, snapping at the
teachers, accusing the pupils, and he no longer enjoyed the
intellectual card-cataloging and small prides of his job.  He just
did not enjoy anything, not even the sight of Bernice and her
beauty, for she was suddenly changing, and becoming drab and
hesitant, uninteresting even to the young men who delivered
groceries and with whom she had once laughed in the kitchen.

When Bernice finally hinted to him that she was willing to return
to his embraces, he said bleakly that he had no longer any desire.
But he never knew what he owed to Bradd Criley, a man well spoken
of for his geniality.



41


Mr. Boone Havock, with Mr. Bradd Criley, his attorney, was
attendant in the chambers of Judge Timberlane, in the matter of an
injunction against the Sequoia & Hematite R.R.

The Judge and Mr. Criley, though they addressed each other by their
first names, were so excessively courteous that Mr. Havock
protested, "You boys are awful polite and helpful to each other
today.  What's trouble?  Been having a row?"

Bradd looked to Cass for a statement which might determine their
relationship for many years, and Cass said thoughtfully, "Bradd is
my friend, and you can't row with a friend.  You might murder him,
but you couldn't hurt him.  If he did have any faults--no, if a man
is your friend, he HAS no faults; he merely has oversights that you
know he'll correct when he gets around to it.  That's true, don't
you think, Bradd?"

"I hope it is--I'm sure it is!"

"God Almighty, you boys getting so noble on me about friendship!
You're lucky you ain't in the contracting business!  And since
you're so het up about friendship, Cass, strikes me you been
neglecting your old friends, the Havocks, pretty bad, the past six
months.  It's that wife of yours--elegant girl but God-awful
snooty.  Does she let you in under the rope, Bradd?"

"We're on quite civil terms, I think.  She is a very fine woman."

"I guess too fine for us lumberjacks.  She's got every right to her
opinions, but don't let her take you away from us, Cass.  We kind
of need you around."

Cass was so inept at the higher lying that he could only get back
to the injunction.  When they had finished and Boone was gone, Cass
dropped his hand on Bradd's shoulder and said, with no particular
emphasis, "We want you to come to Christmas dinner.  Very much."

"You're sure of it?"

"Yes."

"I'd like to.  I'll come and be glad to.  And--Look, Cass.  I'm
never going to say another word about this, but you did exaggerate
my feeling toward Jinny.  If I was at fault it was just the
'oversight' you were speaking of.  I have so much respect for
Jinny's integrity and so much appreciation of her humor that I
showed it in a way that, I see now, might have been mistaken for a
quite improper ardor.  But nobody knows better than I do that she
IS your wife.  No, no, don't say anything; I just wanted to make
myself clear, and I hope that now we three can be friends again.
Good night, ole man.  Christmas dinner at three?"



Everything was normal and beautiful with this happy young couple,
the Timberlanes, now, and there was obviously no reason why their
heavenly bliss should not last forever.

Jinny was "taking care of herself"; she got nine hours of sleep,
covered as warmly as the doctor advised, she eschewed pastry and
looked with sniffs upon more than one cocktail a week.  She
welcomed Cass to her bed, and wound her arms about his tingling
shoulders, and they so rejoiced again in bodily love that they even
saw the cosmically bawdy humor in it.

As much as Cass, the reticent Jinny was offended by indecencies,
yet she did see that it was demoralizingly funny when the
embarrassed young Cass came in expectantly and had to be told that
he and his poetic ardor were barred by the lunar rhythm.

She jeered at him then, but tenderly, and revealed the esoteric
fact that every woman somehow expects her man to guess that obvious
crisis without being told.  He lay beside her, his cheek just
touching her bare shoulder, and they laughed and were divinely
content; the world shut out, the Bradd Crileys shut out, the Boone
Havocks shut out, and the dusty court room and the bitter Northern
winter and the ghastly speed with which, after you are twenty-five,
the whole good day is only one hour long.

They were so commendable.  Pricked by Boone's protest, they had the
Havocks and the Drovers and the Brightwings and the Reverend Gadds
and the Prutts in for dinner.  It wasn't really so hard, you know;
Jinny's diabetes gave Cass an excuse to invite their guests to go
home at ten o'clock.

Their Christmas was as hearty as though no war existed.

They drank lingeringly to all their friends in peril abroad, but
then, as every civilian far enough from the battle has done in
every war since Troy, they forgot it, and sang carols.



Any strain that might be left over between Bradd and the
Timberlanes was wiped out in early January, when Bradd came in to
say quietly that he was going to New York to live, permanently.

The Wargate Corporation had bought several plants in New England
and New Jersey for its war materials: packing cases, wallboard for
barracks, glider bodies, propellers, hulls.  They had offices in
New York; might even, in some day catastrophic for Grand Republic,
move their headquarters there; and in New York they needed Bradd as
legal adviser.

He said evenly, "I hate to say good-bye so informally--I think of
you two as my dearest friends--but there's a case on, and I have to
grab a train tomorrow morning.  My stuff will be sent on after me,
when I get an apartment in New York.  And I have to hustle over to
Webb Wargate's now.  We have a conference that'll take half the
night.  So good-bye, and come see me in New York, soon as you can.
I'll paint the town for you.  And you have a perfectly swell
husband, Jinny!"

He shook Cass's hand, he hastily kissed Jinny, and he was gone.



42


He admitted that he had lied to himself in asserting that she had
settled down to contentment with housewifery and bridge and dinners
and the Red Cross.  When they came home from parties they laughed
as intimately together and as domestically about their fellow-
guests as those guests were then doing about them, and at such a
time Grand Republic seemed world enough for her.

Yet she was curiously older.  In no feature, not in her throat or
her eyes or mouth, could you detect the minute signs of aging, but
April was gone.  She did not complain.  Indeed, when he made the
husbandly inquiry, "Are you happy?" she was impatient:  "Of course
I am.  Why shouldn't I be?"

If she was not content, she put up with life, in a static, plodding
way.  She was only bored when, with that circular conversation of
matrimony, the same ideas coming up as bright new ones over and
over, he again hinted that she ought to do a little more war work,
a little more drawing.

He sighed that he and his cursed domestication had killed so much
of that part of her that was peculiarly Jinny Timberlane, and to no
end, since he was no more satisfied with three meals in a day
colored only by a little passion than she was.

Did all people, everywhere, drift thus into a not-quite-painful
dullness?  Was it merely the way of the world?  Well, if it was, he
raged, he would change that world.  He would pack up Jinny and Mrs.
Higbee and Cleo and Isis and his Nonesuch edition of Dickens and
flee.

Where?

That was but one mood.  Most of the time, he was at ease as husband
and judge.  But the twisted mood did come, oftener and oftener.



Jinny had a letter or two from Bradd, in February.  She read them
aloud to Cass, and apparently she left nothing out.

"Am now one of the dizziest members of cafe society, and can read
menus backwards.  Have learned that Boeuf de Dijon en Casserole
means Irish Stew, and how to answer the waiters, etc., in my best
Gr. Rep. French, 'No soap.'"

"He writes clever letters," said Cass.

She sniffed.  "Oh, I think they're silly."

He thought so too, and he was much comforted.

"How about a little chess, Jin?"

"I'd just love it."

He was worried.  When she just-loved chess, a game which has been
truly mastered by no woman since Queen Elizabeth, she was hiding
things.

His resolve had been subterraneanly forming for two years, but it
came to a climax irrelevantly, when he was on the bench during the
drawing of a jury.

--My Jinny is going to die, unless I do something to save her.
She'll wither and become an old woman early and die.  It's more
psychic than bodily, her slow fading, no matter what Roy says.
I WILL do something.

Only his mechanical judicial mind heard the lawyers.  After court,
he hastened home in a panic.  With his overcoat scarce off, he held
her shoulders, looked at her beseechingly, and insisted:

"You aren't getting much out of living the way we do, ARE you?
Tell me really.  I think it's a perfectly good way, but perhaps it
isn't for some people.  Don't be heroic or sacrificing.  We can do
almost anything you want to.  Tell me how you feel."

He had spoken without any of the standard domestic questioning, and
she answered honestly, "I am getting kind of bored."

"What would you like us to do?  I don't care what it is--growing
ice-cubes in Greenland."

"Well, sometimes I've wished you were practising law in
Minneapolis, or maybe you could be a judge there, still better.
Could you?"

"Not for quite a while, anyway.  Have to be elected judge, you
know.  But to go back to practising law--"  He sighed.  "That would
be all right.  Might even be exciting.  More competition.
Minneapolis would be fine.  You'd, uh, you'd like it better than
Grand Republic?"

"There are too many memories here:  Eino and my Emily, and poor
Jinny before she got sick--she used to be so excited, such a fool!
And there's so little to do here, not even any good restaurants,
and in the evening, you can go to a movie--or not go to a movie.
But Minneapolis--gracious, a huge city like that--restaurants and
the University and all kinds of art galleries and everything!  Even
a real show right from New York, sometimes.  All sorts of wonderful
things.  You're sure you couldn't get transferred as a judge?"

"No, it's a different judicial district.  And the chances are about
a hundred to one of my not being elected there, if I ever resigned
here."

"You asked me to be frank, and I was, and now I want you to be.
You do love the dignity of being a judge, DON'T you?"

"Yes, but I love it less than I do you."

"Would it be hard to take up practising again?"

"Well, the commercial end, especially the grabbing off of other
people's clients, would be unpleasant.  But what would I care about
remaining a judge if I lost you?"

"Oh, you'll never lose me!  I'll always stick.  You haven't a
chance.  And you would really do this for me, if I wanted to--move
to Minneapolis?"

"I certainly would.  Only, why Minneapolis?  If we ARE going to
tackle a more metropolitan place, why not Chicago?  Or New York?"

"New York terrified me.  I think it did you."

"Look, lamb, if Bradd Criley can make a go of it there, I can!"

"Ye-es--"

"I'm at least as good a lawyer as he is--with all apologies to your
friend, maybe I'm a little better."  He realized that he was
betraying a jealousy of Bradd for daring to invade Megalopolis, and
he went on more mildly:  "I mean, we ought to thank Bradd for
showing us the way.  We don't have to be Westerners with lariats
unless we want to!  I don't have to hold court on horseback, and
you can come out of the sod hut.  We'll pick up New York and shake
it."

"Oh, but that headwaiter at the Marmoset Club, with eyes like a wet
old dishrag, who looks at you just once and guesses exactly what
your income is, and do you know any Astors."

"Maybe we'd get to know a few Class B Astors, if we wanted to,
which I doubt."

"I'd love to know LOTS of Astors--big fat juicy ones, and little
diamond-studded ones in sables!"

--She hasn't been so gay in weeks.  My idea was right.

"Jinny, you shall have all the Astors you want.  Have Astors with
your corn flakes."

"And cream."

"And extra cream, from the Ritz.  God knows even a very rich Astor
or Vanderbilt or Morgan, one nine feet tall with a robe made of
securities, couldn't be more chilly than our local John William
Prutts.  Let's look their lodge over.  I mean, before we actually
decide whether I ever shall resign, I think we ought to go to New
York and study it, to see whether, if we had a real home of our own
there, we wouldn't enjoy the place."

"And Cleo?"

"Naturally."

Jinny thought it over and said seriously, "And I guess we'd have to
take Mrs. Higbee, too, if she'd come.  I do get a little tired of
her dumplings, but she's the only one we could trust to walk Cleo."

He laughed.  "You're already beginning to think of New York as
possible."

"Maybe I am.  And I imagine that if you did step down from the
bench and had to stand looking up at some other old meanie sitting
there, you'd rather have it farther away than Minneapolis."

"Possibly."

"You'll get used to being down in the prize-ring again.  Beat 'em
all up!  After all, a referee doesn't have as much fun as the
scrappers. . . .  Oh, Cass, shall we really try New York?"

"Yes, we'll go see what legal openings there are."



He pondered, not for the first time, that she did not really
comprehend what it would mean to him to give up the honor of his
judgeship and his belief that in some minute way he was guarding
the rights of man, adding to the eternal code of justice.  She had
not complained about it, but she had never altogether understood
why he was willing to take far less in salary than the fees he
could make as a practitioner.  He remembered that when she had
visited his court room, she had been considerably less stirred by
the finality of his "'Jection 'stained" than by Bradd's insinuating
address to the jury.

He wondered whether today, as women more and more took on
professions of their own, wives in general were less interested in
their husbands' work; whether their ears wandered from the men's
shop-talk as their eyes wandered from the marriage-bed.  Was the
sanctity of the profession, to be followed for a lifetime, for many
generations, and rarely to be thrown over for a "better-paying
job," vanishing from society along with the sanctity of the single
family?

It frightened him.



Judges Blackstaff and Flaaten were annoyed when Judge Timberlane
wanted to run off to New York for a week during the busy court days
of early February.  But Roy Drover was annoying.

"Going to see our old friend Bradd there?" he hinted.

"Certainly."

"Your wife going to see him, too?"

"Why not?"

"I wouldn't know.  Probably I'm wrong, so please excuse me for
living."



43


Bradd Criley met their train in New York.  He was wearing a black
camel's-hair coat and a black Homburg; he who had edified Grand
Republic with plaid overcoats and a green hunting-hat with a
feather.  With Jinny, as with Cass, he merely shook hands.

Naturally, Cass had reserved a suite at that only hotel, the
Melchester, but Bradd cried, "Oh, I meant to warn you.  I used to
think the Melchester was a good joint, but now I realize that
nobody but Middlewesterners stay there.  I wish I could put you up
at my flat, but I have just the one bedroom.  Maybe I can get you
accommodations at the Gayling.  The manager there is a good friend
of mine."

"We'll be all right.  Only be here six-seven days," said Cass.

If their suite at the Melchester was not the same as the one they
had had before, it was even more so, more white-paneled and chaste
and monastic.  Isis was again set on the windowsill, to see New
York.  Jinny flushed over worshiping the crystal toy, and turned to
Cass with "I AM silly, I know!"

It was the last time during their stay when he saw her as youthful.

That evening, by the arrangement of Bradd and in Bradd's phrase,
they "painted the town red."  They went to one restaurant and three
night-clubs, and in each place had the same table and the same
waiter and the same drinks and the same waiting for their bill and
the same excessiveness in the bill when they did get it, and on the
whole, if the taxicabs were expensive, still, it did not take them
much longer to go three blocks by taxi than to have walked.

In each miniature heaven, Bradd introduced them to the same man,
only sometimes this man was fat and had a girl, and sometimes he
was thin and had a toupee--and a girl.  They all drank, and Cass
felt dull.  He probably was.

He explained that he was thinking of practising law here.  Bradd
sounded doubtful:

"Of course you're a swell lawyer, much sounder than I am, but it's
hard for me to see you either in a limousine or the subway.  You
like walking home through the snow too much.  Me, I'm a chameleon.
I may yet wind up as a tenor.  It's only the fact that the Wargates
and Boone have always backed me that has kept me from being an
ambulance-chaser."

He looked at Jinny, and her eyes said that he was too modest.  "So
I can switch from the slow pace of Grand Republic to this hundred-
and-four-degree fever tempo of New York and not get nervous.  You
study a guy for a long time before you accept him as a friend, but
I can pick up a hundred new people in a day, and drop 'em just as
quickly.  God knows it would be wonderful to have you here, but I
think you ought to go kind of slow about deciding."

They all became more or less drunk, and Cass could not remember
whether, at parting, Bradd kissed Jinny or not.



She slept long after Cass had awakened, next morning, and he was
touched by the pleasant sight of her: rosy and half-smiling, with
her left index finger clasped in her right hand.  Over his solitary
coffee, in the parlor of their suite, he saw himself back in a law
office, bargaining, arranging, advising, tactfully welcoming new
business. . . .  There was a long table, and on it the files about
a client with a temper and a red-veined nose, and beside it that
client himself, and Counselor Timberlane was about to lose his
lucrative but distasteful business by advising him that you really
can't sue for the possession of property merely because you like
the view from it--

A tap, and Bradd came in, in a gray overcoat and a new gray hat and
a red chrysanthemum, but closing his eyes in pain.

"Have I got a hang-over!" he moaned.  "Were you wise to only drink
half as much as I did, last evening!  Hope I'm not butting in, but
I was too high last evening to make any real plans for us today."

Cass had not known that Bradd WAS to make plans for them.

"The lady awake yet?"

"The lady is awake but I'm not sure she's alive!" floated from the
bedroom, and Jinny weaved in, much too pretty in her negligee.  She
shook hands with Bradd as though they were rival undertakers.

He had coffee with them, and suddenly he was no gilded New Yorker
but one of the hometown boys, ready to trade all the shops on
Madison Avenue for the lint-smelling aisles of The Tarr Emporium.

"I was kind of pie-eyed and boastful, last evening," Bradd
grumbled.  "Oh, I HAVE met a lot of people here, almost as many as
I claimed, but I'm still lonely, and am I glad to see you!  I
haven't anybody here who's a hundredth as close to me as you two
are--nobody whose house I'd drop into uninvited, except my sister's
place, way out in Darien.  I go out there for week-ends, and Avis
is a grand woman, but she is rather sot in her ways.  Oh, I'm
making a lot of social contacts that will be invaluable later, but
I haven't got anybody, male OR female, that I can knock around
with.

"If you're free, I can take the whole day off.  Can't you put off
seeing prospects for twenty-four hours, Cass?  Oh, see if you can't
rig it.  We'll lunch at the Plaza, and then take a taxi up and look
over Grant's Tomb.  You always hear about all the visiting firemen
going up there, but I never met anybody that has.  Maybe Grant's no
longer there.  He may have left in a huff.  We ought to find out,
and tell the Associated Press.

"Then we'll have dinner early, at a Hindu place I know of,
wonderful curries, and go to a show, Oklahoma.  Avis will come in
town and join us--I've already phoned her--and I have four tickets
already.  Got 'em by almost you might say a fluke.  They're
absolutely impossible to get, show is a sell-out, but the agent is
a great friend of mine; he said to me, 'Mr. Criley, I wouldn't let
anybody else have these tickets, not if it was the President of the
United States.'

"So come on, Cass; let's you and I and the girl take the day off
and be fancy-free.  Time enough to act serious tomorrow.  Just say
the word and I'll phone my office."

"Bradd, I'm sorry as the dickens, but I have dates with law-firms
all day long.  Why don't you two skip off together, and I'll meet
you and Avis for dinner?"

Bradd seemed entirely cheerful about this desertion.  "Just as you
say, Boss.  I'll squire the lady around and get her back here
fairly early and have Avis meet us all here at seven.  Be sure and
be on time, so we won't miss any of the show, and be dressed--Got
your Tux along?  Good!  I know most of these New Yorkers aren't
dressing for the theater, in wartime, but we'll show 'em the kind
of speed we're used to in Grand Republic!  Be sure and be all ready
by seven, so we can have a leisurely dinner.  You'll appreciate
that cocoanut soup."

"Do I get asked about any of this?" demanded Jinny.

"You do.  Do you?" said Bradd.

"I do," said Jinny.  They laughed--they two.

Cass croaked, "Well, I got to get started, I'm afraid.  Shame I got
these engagements."

That was at ten A.M.

At five minutes after ten, Cass went down in the elevator.  He had
no engagements whatever.

He was ashamed of his suspicions, but he could not help it; he sat
in the lobby, in a niche behind a petrified palm, waiting to see
when Bradd and Jinny would leave.

Not till this morning had it occurred to the simple husband that,
after his warnings about treachery, his wife and Bradd could
possibly continue to intrigue against his peace and decency.  But
he had seen Bradd looking at her in her negligee, he had seen
flying between them the glances that do not need words for a body.

He saw them skip through the lobby and out to a taxicab at ten
minutes to twelve.

She was in a gray suit with a yellow sweater as lively as a fiesta.
She looked, to his sensitized mind, three years younger than when
she had left Grand Republic three days ago.  She was rosy and
excited, and the shadows of her illness and Emily's death and
middle-class boredom seemed lifted from her by a new light.

--If that fellow has such a good effect on her, and if I really
love her as much as I claim I do, I ought to hand her over to him,
even if he doesn't want me to--even if SHE doesn't!

--No!  The improvement in her is just travel.  She'd go out quite
as cheerfully with Greg Marl or Lloyd Gadd.

--But Bradd isn't like them.  He can really be evil.  There are a
few people that actually are evil.  He's no good.

--Don't fool yourself, my friend.  That's what makes him dangerous.
Women love wolves and heels, the way decent men often love
insinuating little tarts.  And women will sacrifice anything for
their compliments--and for their embraces.  Real witchcraft.  To
think that Jinny, who's been clean as a doe in a forest, could
stand the bog that Bradd loves to wallow in.

--I won't think that way about either of them!

--I wonder where he stayed in our suite while she was dressing?

--Oh, shame, Cass!



He telephoned and made engagements to see the heads of several law
firms.  Then he had a horrible afternoon of sitting in Georgian
waiting-rooms, dens of knowledge and of contempt, where from the
tops of classical bookcases the busts of Cicero and Judas Maccabeus
and Roger Taney looked down at him and denied that he could ever
have been a congressman or a judge.  What had he come in with--
samples?  Where was the briefcase?

When he finally talked with the Heads, they were less chummy than
the plaster busts.  They were looking for office boys, not
partners.

He lunched by himself at an Automat, remembering how in better days
Jinny had loved the magic doors which opened on mince pies.  At
five he went by himself to a newsreel, and in the war scenes he saw
only the faces of Bradd and Jinny and heard only, "Can't you let
the poor girl enjoy herself?"

He was back at the hotel at six-fifteen.  Jinny had not returned.
He was dressed at six-thirty-five, and trying to find the Dick
Tracy comic strip in the confusing New York newspapers, which
didn't have even the Weather Report in the right place.

Bradd's sister Avis--the refined Mrs. William Elderman of New York
and Darien--telephoned up from the lobby at six-fifty-nine, came
in, in rich apparel, looked all over the room (fourteen by sixteen)
and said accusingly, "Why, Bradd isn't HERE!"

She obliquely let him know that she was not accustomed to being
dragged into town like this for every stray tramp from Minnesota.
They made talk and looked at each other resentfully, while Cass
peeped at his heavy pocket-watch, Avis at her tiny curved wrist-
watch.  They were increasingly nervous as Time jumped from seven-
fifteen to seven-thirty to seven-forty-five to eight--

"But where ARE they?" observed Avis.

At ten minutes after eight, Jinny and Bradd whisked in, very gay.
They must have stopped at Bradd's apartment, for he was now in
dinner-clothes.  Certainly they had had cocktails.

Jinny rejoiced, "My, I'm afraid we're late--most awfully sorry--
I'll hustle and change--like a rabbit-hound!"  From the bedroom she
could be heard as she dressed, in no especial haste.

Bradd said innocently, "Do forgive us, Sister--Cass.  I know we're
horribly late, but we got to talking and laughing about the Prutts
and Queenie Havock, and we didn't realize how late it was getting
to be."  Then, boyishly and sweetly, "Guess I was sort of homesick
for local gossip."

They had a feverishly gulping dinner and missed part of the play,
which offended Judge Timberlane's principles of art and of economy
equally.  And Avis rather spoke about this, later, when they sat at
the Marmoset, since she had "gone and taken the trouble to come
clear in from Darien, REALLY!"  In Cass's brain was a pulse
beating, "Be careful or you'll lose her--be careful--you'll lose
her--be careful."

While Bradd was being sardonic about the audience at the play, who
were people very much like Bradd Criley, Cass's head went on
beating, "They certainly weren't trying to hide anything, when they
came in an hour late!  They trust me not to be a jealous maniac.
I'll show that I trust THEM!"

He blurted, "I'll have to be seeing law-firms again, all day
tomorrow.  Suppose you could entertain Jinny, Bradd, or are you
busy?"

"I'd feel honored to elope with the lady, but I'll be rushed with
work all day," said Bradd; and Jinny, "Matter fact, I'll be rushed
myself.  Be at the hair-dresser's most of the time."

Cass was so pleased by their casualness that he barely noticed it
when Bradd went on, "But maybe I could snatch just a few minutes,
Jin, and grab a quick sandwich with you for lunch," and she, with
equal indifference, answered, "We'll see.  Call me at the hair-
dresser's--Madame Lorraine's."

The thunderstorm was over, the sky cleared, the birds twittering.
Even Avis, after two highballs, was sunny, and told them about her
first grandchild.  She was proud of having one at her age of forty-
five, as though it was something special and foxy and quite
unsuburban that she had done.  At midnight, Bradd put her into a
taxicab and returned boisterously.

They moved on to the Jive Hive and there sat or danced till three,
and Cass did not suggest their going home, for he was fascinated as
Bradd, swiftly drinking, turned into the complete and obvious
satyr, and Jinny clearly did not mind.  She was excited when by
black art, before their eyes, the good housedog, the faithful
spaniel, was transformed into an amorous werewolf.

In the 1940's, not even the machines for destroying lives and
cities were more ingeniously developed than the novelties in the
American vocabulary.  The ancient four-letter words pertaining to
generation and digestion were brought from the garden fence to the
Junior Misses' schoolroom, and in the lower reaches of etymology,
there was also a treasury of new labels for the sort of male once
described with relish as "an agreeable scoundrel."  He could now be
referred to not merely as a cad or a bounder, but as a heel, a
drip, a punk, a lug, a jerk, a louse, a stinker, a rat, a twirp, a
crumb, or a goon.  There were exquisite distinctions among the
precise meanings of these words, but most of them were allied to
"wolf," the contemporary term for a confirmed seducer or amateur
pimp, a type well thought of at the time.

Meditatively considering these terms, Cass decided that his old
friend Bradd was a heel, a stinker, a rat, and a wolf.



Bradd was, as he became drunk, most whimsical and prankish.  He
spoke to the waiter in a gibberish which he explained as Modern
Persian.  He thought it was amusing to steal a silver teaspoon.

He told the Timberlanes just enough of his affair with Bernice
Claywheel to give himself a reek of sexual potency.  He picked up
an anonymous, damply pretty woman at the bar, brought her to their
table, told her that he was a renowned Los Angeles psychiatrist,
and treated her dipsomania by pouring so many highballs into her
that she went off and was sick in the women's toilet.

When Jinny was definitely not amused, Bradd's round face cleared to
a look of sober and engaging youthfulness, and he confided, "I
ought to apologize to you for kidding that poor sot, but remember
I'm a prairie hick, and I can't resist showing up these
sophisticated New Yorkers.  Cass, doesn't it seem incredible that
that slattern and our lovely Jinny belong to the same female sex?"

"Yes--yes--incredible--well go home now, Jinny."

In the taxicab, when Cass growled, "Bradd acted like a hobbledehoy,"
she snapped, "Oh, don't be so picky!  He never acts like a judge,
if that's what you mean.  He loves fun and adventure."

When with long yawns they had reached their bedroom, they undressed
in verbal darkness.  Cass got what solace he could from the fact
that Jinny and he would have dinner by themselves tomorrow evening.



44


Mr. Crossbow of Crossbow, Murphy and Thane, in which firm Cass's
classmate, Dennis Thane, was a partner, was born in Yankton, South
Dakota.  He thought highly of Middlewestern men and of the
Minnesota judiciary; he said Yes, he believed arrangements could be
made for Judge Timberlane to join their firm; in fact, they would
be honored.

Cass walked a mile up Broadway from Pine Street, out of the
district of gold certificates and steamship tickets, dazed that he
should have chosen to make his home in this wilderness where
grizzlies prowled all night and rattlers lurked all day.  He was at
once homesick for the stillness of Dead Squaw Lake and proud that
he might some day be a millionaire, invited out to Long Island
palaces where each guest had three bathrooms.

--Let's see.  Jinny wouldn't care for the suburbs.  Probably get an
apartment on Park Avenue.  Maybe on the river.  Be interesting to
watch the boats--I guess.

He was to meet her at the hotel at six-thirty.  They were to dine
together, and he rejoicingly had two good seats for Berg Nord's new
play.

He pictured himself rushing in to her with the news.  That morning
he had merely mentioned the voodoo word "diabetes," and she had
sworn that she would be back at the hotel by five, and have a nap.

--We won't overdo it tonight.  We won't even go backstage and see
Berg.  I'll send her to bed by half-past-eleven.

She was not in the suite when he arrived.  He sat waiting for her
till twenty minutes past seven.  When she came in, tired and blank,
he controlled himself, but the excitement and surprise had gone out
of his news and he said methodically, "Well, looks as if we really
can stay in New York.  I can get a partnership with a good firm.
All we have to decide now is when I resign from the bench.  Do you
want to come here before this summer, or wait till fall, when it'll
be--"

"No!"  She looked secret and unhappy as she interrupted him.  "I
don't want you to give up being a judge.  I can't do that to you,
too."

"How do you mean?  TOO?"

"Oh, just generally disappointing you."

"You haven't.  You couldn't!"

"Oh, Cass, don't do it!  Take me home--tomorrow, if you can.
Please give up this whole idea.  I know you couldn't be happy,
practising here, and then how could _I_ be happy?  I was so stupid
and didn't realize, but when I see how you writhe--and you should;
they're so incredibly packed and vulgar--how you hate these night-
clubs, and even the streets, that are so tall and no trees, then I
know you mustn't do it.  Let's go back NOW!  I will try to be
satisfied, and I'm sure I can be, now I know how fast and noisy
this place is."

"Of course if we lived here quietly, in a nice flat, like most New
Yorkers--"

"No, no, no!  I want security--and our home--and Cleo.  Please!"

"You scarcely have to coax me!  Of course that's what I want, too.
But tomorrow?"

"Tonight, if we only could!"



That evening he was able to get, for the two of them, one single
upper berth on a minor railroad to Chicago, for the next day.  He
telephoned to his putative new partners, Mr. Crossbow and Mr.
Dennis Thane, at their homes, that he would not be able to join
their firm.  They both said that he had "let them down," but Cass,
to whom such an accusation would normally have been occasion for
alarm, scarcely heard them.

He was too busy to ask Jinny what she had been doing all day.

"I think we can still make our show, all right," he said happily.
(Aspens gentle by the Sorshay River!)  "Want us to have some fun,
our last evening here.  It will be the last for quite a while, I
guess."

"Yes--see Cousin Berg--" she said feebly.

But he went on conscientiously, "Or do you think we ought to give
up the show and spend the time with Bradd?"

"Oh, I don't think that's necessary.  We've seen a good deal of
him.  Can't we just telephone him?"

He liked that very much.  "Sure.  I'll try him now."

He did not reach Bradd till after the play, to which he was not
very attentive, so swelling was he with thought of the coming
spring back home, when the top of their blue spruce would be dotted
with red buds, like a tiny Christmas tree, the mountain ash starred
with white, and the earth-smell sharply clean from Northern
rivulets.  People here could not understand how proud and separate
was his land, nor how completely it drew him back, with no regrets
for the heathen wonders of Broadway.

He had Bradd on the telephone at midnight, and said apologetically,
"Well, despite all we could do to entertain her, Jinny has decided
she wants to go home.  Looks as if I wouldn't hook up with any law
firm here, for a while at least."

"Won't I see you before you go?"  Bradd sounded regretful but not
inconsolable.

"Afraid not, till the next visit, but we hope you'll be coming out
home soon."

"You bet, Cass; soon as I can."

"Jinny will be wanting to say good-bye now. . . .  Here you are,
Jin."

She was cordial enough, but so impersonal that Cass was pleased:
"Good-bye, Bradd, my dear.  It's been fun having you show us
around.  You're the real rubber-neck-wagon guide!  Sorry we won't
see you, but I feel a little sick and bothered now--you know--New
York is so big--or so I hear!  Some day I'll write you, if I don't
get too busy with the spring gardening.  Good-bye!"



The one flaw was that next morning, when they were packing, they
found that the crystal Isis had disappeared.  They searched the two
rooms, they looked under the twin beds, they summoned the
chambermaid, the housekeeper, but they did not find it.

Jinny never saw again the little shining talisman which she had
loved so youthfully, so long.  She sat crying, her face against her
thin arm.



All afternoon and evening, in the club car, he learned the
strangest things about Wisconsin cheese and haddock-liver oil and
the percentages of grades in the Rocky Mountains, from the
indigenous magazines.  Jinny was in a mood so sacred that he dared
not speak to her.  She sat covered with silence as with a veil,
hands collapsed but eyes roving sightlessly.  It was evident that
she was trying to decide something that had to be swallowed with a
gulp or spit out angrily.

They had to sleep in the one upper berth; they who had not shared a
bed all night for many months.  Cass was as embarrassed and guilty
and yet excited about it as if they had never yet shared a bed at
all.  She would undress up there by herself; he would shuck off all
that modesty permitted in the smoking compartment, and climb up and
finish his undressing after she was tucked in.

The wartime world, accustomed now to every fantasy of travel, saw
and was uninterested in the spectacle of the stately Judge
Timberlane, in undershirt, trousers, and glove-like Pullman
slippers, coming down the aisle carrying coat and shirt and shoes
and dangling tie, and climbing to the upper berth, the last public
view of him merely a pair of trousered legs waving high in air.

He was not a comic figure to himself, but even the dignity of the
reserved unhappiness that had come over him as he had watched her
all evening was denied him as he wriggled out of his trousers, into
his pajamas, sitting on half the constricted space of the berth,
while crowded over on her side under the blanket, her face in the
shadow of her pillow, she bleakly observed him.  Her right fingers
lay touching her cheek; her bare arm was misted with the sleeve of
her thin nightgown.  She would have been an invitation to passion
but that there was neither desire in her look nor any fun of
intimacy, but only wariness and a doubt that hinted of fear.

He remembered their honeymoon night, remembered the rowdy adventure
of her popping across the aisle and into his berth.

As he crawled under the covers beside her, and hesitatingly, just
to say good night, slipped his arm about her scarce-covered
shoulders, she flinched away from him.  She moved over the inch or
two that was her only room for escape.  He drew his arm back,
muttered "G' night" as indifferently as he could, and pretended to
sleep.

Astounding and sudden, he found that there were tears in his eyes,
and that he was mourning, "She is drifting away from me.  I can't
hold her.  She and Bradd were loyal to me, but there will be
another Bradd, a less scrupulous one, and I cannot hold her.  She
is drifting away."

The last stage of their journey was on the "Borup," the familiar
old club car from St. Paul and Minneapolis to Grand Republic and
Duluth.  Cass had known it since college days, and for twenty years
had known Mac, the old attendant.  On it, very welcome, were
Diantha Marl and Eve Champeris, brittle and lively and superior in
black suits and small pert hats, and Cass was proud of them,
citizenesses of no mean city, proofs of home.  But Jinny scarcely
saw them.  There was nothing of her there except her slight body.

But she was still distantly civil as they arrived in Grand Republic
toward six, in a dusk that even the friendly sight of the tall Pv
elevators could not make anything but cold and dark.



45


For Cass and Jinny, when they came in from New York, Mrs. Higbee
had ready a supper of hometown superiority: heart-shaped waffles
with creamed chicken, potato pancakes, pudding with extra hard
sauce.

Jinny looked at it and sniffed, "Tearoom junk."

She had not even asked for Cleo, and it was Cleo whom the fond,
habitual husband expected to lure his wayward girl back to
contentment.  All husbands have such baits, and they are childishly
hurt when they do not catch the silver fish of love.  Mrs. Higbee
"just didn't know where that ole Cleo was at."  The animal had
taken to wintertime excursions and absences that she never
explained.  But after supper, while Jinny was looking in a bored
way at the Evening Frontier, Cass found the little cat in a corner
of the garage, half under an old rug, looking up at him
questioningly.

"It's all right, Cleo.  I'm sure it's going to be all right," Cass
insisted.

When Cleo was dropped into her lap, Jinny smiled, and hailed her,
"Have you been good, kit?  Have you studied your rodentology, and
stayed away from the Toms?"

As she said it, Cass realized that it did not mean a thing, and
that if she could thus talk to the cat whom she truly loved through
a shroud of brooding, then she was distracted indeed.  When Cleo
leaped from her lap and came resentfully over to him, Jinny did not
even notice.

"Tired?" he groped.

"Yes, very."

"Like me to call up Rose or the Wolkes or Jay and Pasadena or
somebody?"

"Not tonight."

"Uh--Jinny.  I've had a--I think we might drive out and see if
Emily's grave is--"

"Please!  Don't talk about that, ever.  I'll go by myself some
time.  I don't want to make a parade of it."

"I didn't--"

"Sorry I'm so cranky.  I feel all in."  Her smile was a wince of
pain.  "I think I'll go up and get undressed and crawl into bed and
read.  You can kiss me good night now."

Their kiss was the touch of dry leaves drifting together, and she
did not look back as she went out to the hallway.

--She does miss Bradd.  It's an awfully good thing I had the sense
to get her away from him when I did.  Now we can start all over
again.

He settled to his accumulated mail, which stirred his usual query
whether Democracy could endure the inventions of the typewriter and
of advertising.  He looked through the unsolicited magazines, the
brochure from the Wargate Corporation announcing that right after
the war they would be making everything out of plastics--airplanes,
egg-beaters, book-bindings, communion cups, the bulletins from the
numberless associations for organizing virtue ("please send check
or money-order immediately") and all the other mimeographed letters
with typed-in addresses which, intimately addressing him as "Mr. J.
Cass" or as "Mr. C. T. Judge," announced that they had heard of him
as a Leading Citizen, so would he kindly remit.

Lost amid these reminders of an enormous and clashing world which
had no interest in the tragi-comedy of married love, Cass looked at
his watch and was startled that an hour had sneaked by since Jinny
had gone upstairs.  He would peep into her room, softly, not to
awaken her.

He tiptoed up and to her door.  When he eased it open, she was
sitting on her bed, crosslegged, adorable in pajamas, her hair
reckless.  She was so young, so feminine.  She tilted her face with
a smile, but the smile suddenly closed, as though it were someone
else whom she had been expecting.

He stood just inside the door.  She said gently, "My dear, it's no
go.  I love Bradd--I love him!  I thought I could run away from
him, but I'm going back to him, in New York."

These words took just over nine seconds to say, and they devastated
his life and hers completely.

Before he answered he draped a silk comforter about her, so that
she was in a little Asian tent.  He sat on her pink-lined window
seat.  The whole room seemed so female and incomprehensible to him.
He could no more fight it than he could fight the scent of flowers.

"Going back to him immediately," she said.

"No.  You're not.  I'm going to hold you."  But he was listening
to himself critically.  "I'm going to fight for you.  You're
everything that's good."

"Good?"

"Oh, you're not half as bad as you try to be."

"Don't be so smug!"

"I'm not.  And I'm not angry, either.  Not even at Bradd.  He makes
me sick, more than angry.  But I won't yield.  For your sake, too.
You're sick; you can't stand this insanity just now.  It will kill
you."

"It's the only thing that will SAVE me.  If I can't be with him, I
will die.  I suppose it does look crazy--kiting right back there,
just after our return--but I'll be happy then, and well."

"You'll never be happy with that fellow, not long.  You think
you're a great adventuress, a great flaunter--"

"I do not!"

"But you're really a pathetic child.  I can see you among those big
buildings, in the dark streets, trudging along, a little scared
figure, so little, with no one to depend on, once Bradd has let you
down."

"He'd never let me down."

"You know he will!"

"Well . . ."

"And you always forget you're ill."

"I never forget it.  And I want to get well.  That's why I must
have someone that I love near me."

After this implication, he could say nothing, and she raced on,
"It's all arranged.  I've just this minute talked to Bradd on the
telephone.  Oh, should I have done that, from your house?  I'll pay
you for the call."

"Oh, God!"

She did not heed his cry.  "I'm to stay with Avis, out in Darien,
and skip into the city once in a while and play around with him--it
will be enchanting.  Avis knows all about diets, and she'll watch
mine, and I'll really look after my health, till you divorce me."

"I'm not going to divorce you."

"I knew it!  So old-fashioned!  I thought you realized domestic
tyrants had gone out.  Are you really going to try and handcuff me?
Well, let me tell you--"

"Stop it.  I won't bind you, except to this extent: I insist on
your taking three months to think this over, and to find out what a
hard-hearted professional charmer Bradd is, before you file any
divorce suit.  I'm afraid you'll have to do that back here in
Minnesota, unless you want to go to Reno.  You won't be a resident
of Connecticut, and the only ground in New York State, even if you
established residence there, is adultery, and that's a cause which
I don't intend to afford you, no matter how obliging I would like
to be.  If after this three months you still feel you must go
ahead, I shan't oppose it--I think.  But--"

His law-office carefulness broke down.  "My beloved, my dear wife,
I never thought I could say this, I thought I had too much pride, I
thought I despised acquiescent husbands too much, but I would
rather see you go off and be Bradd's mistress for a year and then
come back to me than see you divorced and lost to me.  Life is
worthless without you."

"Life will be worth just as much to you as it was before you ever
saw me, and maybe more.  I've been bad for you.  And I'm sorry,
because I have great respect and fondness for you."

"'Respect and fondness'!  God!  What d'you think I am?"

"Now don't try to be the hairy-chested brute.  It doesn't become
you.  You PREFER fondness and respect, and probably what you stand
for is much finer than any of the frivolous, dissipated things that
Bradd and I like."

"'Bradd and I'!  Please keep that bastard's name out of this."

"But can we?"

"No-o, but still--Look, Jinny.  My life WASN'T worth much, before I
saw you.  Like most people, most of the time, I was just getting
along, satisfied if I wasn't sick or angry or too tired or too
lonely, plodding on toward a decent death, with no idea at all what
possibilities there were in the human mind AND body, and--Jinny!
I've got to know.  I keep skirting around it but--Did you sleep
with Bradd?"

Her embarrassment was less than his as she looked down at her
hands, slowly rubbed them, and answered "Yes."  Then she raised her
head.  "But never, honestly never, till just the other afternoon in
New York, when I went to his apartment.  I thought it was just for
a drink, and to wait while he dressed for dinner and the show."

It was not at all with a dull ache that he heard the catastrophe,
but with a lively sickness and a runaway imagination.  He could see
what to him was a horror and a blasphemy: Jinny shyly undressing
with her sacred body exposed to the gluttonous eyes and cynical
fumbling of that libertine, Jinny's breasts against the cold heart
of that thief and scoundrel, Jinny glancing up at him as devotedly
as she had at her husband.

His black shame for Jinny's nakedness, his black hatred of Bradd,
must have shown in his face.  She was fluttering, "Now, I guess you
WILL divorce me!"

"I would not divorce you even if you became a public harlot.  Then
least of all.  You are my wife--not just a woman who happens to be
legally married to me.  You can drive me away, but I won't ever
turn away, not ever."

A confused "Oh" from her, and a long, blinding silence out of which
he struggled:

"I hate your physical contact with another man, and I don't know
whether that's out of common jealousy or out of fastidiousness, and
I don't even care much--I hate it!  Don't make any mistake about
that.  But I suppose I could make myself forget it.  I don't know
that your betrayal itself is any worse than the fact that it
happened with my oldest friend.  And even that is no worse than the
discovery that you've lied to me."

"I never lied to you!"

"You certainly did, by implication--you and Bradd playing out that
farce of saying good-bye on the telephone, our last night in New
York. . . .  By the way, I suppose you and he had been together in
his apartment THAT afternoon, as well as the one before?"

She did not answer.

--Jinny to wait for Mr. Bradd Criley's condescension in Avis's
select suburban residence!  What a sordidness of respectable
adultery!  Civilized divorce.  Sophisticated modern sex relations.
Exquisite sluttishness.  Fashionable bestiality.  The intellectual
cocktail-hour diversion of smearing three lives with manure.

--Poor, bright, energetic, weak-minded Jinny, with no idea what
she'll be up against when she's not so young.  I must take care of
her, even if I have to lock her in the attic.

Then he was urging, "Jinny!  Let's be practical for a moment.
You're assuming that after you've stayed for a few months with that
delightful hag, Mrs. Elderman, and after I'm used to getting along
without you--"

"I hope you will be."

"I hope I never shall!  After death, you become used to getting
along without a lot of things, but that won't make it interesting.
I was saying:  What makes you think Bradd will still want to marry
you?  He's completely unscrupulous in protecting his freedom."

"You don't understand him.  You can't.  You're too old."

"Oh, come off it.  I'm only two years older than he is."

"Not really.  As I've told you before, you're fifteen years older.
He does things because they're fun."

"Sure.  Great charmer!"

"Does charm seem to you such a bad quality for a girl to have in a
husband?"

--I'm not coming off so well in the argument.  And this is a life-
death struggle to hold her, not just a squabble.

"Yes, I think it IS bad, when it's deliberately turned on and off,
as it is with a blackguard like Criley."

"You mean 'heel,' don't you?  You know, when you say he's a heel,
you're talking like a man, and it doesn't mean a thing to a woman,
unless she's half-man herself.  Very few women care a hang about
the laws or the social rules.  What they love in a man is the
feeling that he isn't merely WITH them, but that he IS them, and
feels and thinks as they do before they've finished thinking it.
What people like you detest about the heels, the outlaws, is that
they don't give a hoot for the idiotic rules that you've set up to
protect your own awkwardness, which comes from your never really
being completely one with a woman, but always remaining a little
aside from her, noticing how good you are or how bad.  And
expecting her to do what--Bradd just LAUGHS when I'm unpunctual,
and maybe YOU can't trust what he says, but with me he's ALWAYS
truthful!"

"Don't you suppose a lot of other women have defended Criley, too?"

"Oh, don't call him 'Criley'.  It sounds like childish spite."

"Sorry.  Can't thing of him any other way now.  How many women--"

"If Bradd has brought joy to a lot of bored women, is that against
him?  Darling, let's not go on bickering.  I KNOW Bradd!  I didn't
want to fall in love with him, and the last thing I wanted to do
was to hurt you.  I really tried to run away from him.  I hope you
won't remember me as a loose woman.  I couldn't help it.  Bradd--he
seems to understand everything that matters to a woman.  I do want
to be quiet, but I'm afraid it will have to be with HIM."

It sounded so flat and incontrovertible.

He broke off brusquely.  "We could argue all night, but I guess
you'll need some sleep, if you're really taking another train
tomorrow.  Good night."

He kissed her blankly and left her.

He sat in his room, rubbing his stocking feet, fertile in plan,
paralyzed in action.  He went to bed and, certain that he could not
sleep, he slept.  He awoke abruptly, longing for her and, without
meditation about it, padded into her room.  It was dark.  He
wriggled in beside her, tentatively slid his arm about her.  She
whispered, "Oh, my dear, I do love you, too, in another way."  She
was crying, and he let her cry on his shoulder.

A current of passion, which seemed to come from far outside them,
ran through them both, and her hand which had lain so laxly on his
shoulder tightened, and he turned toward her.  He knew then that,
however demon-ridden she might be, there was something eternal
between them.

But when they awakened to early light, she sat up and said with
distaste, "You better skip back to your room and let me sleep.  I
have a long journey ahead of me."



46


"What we did last night--that REALLY seems to me immoral," she said
at breakfast.

"Now look, Jin.  Spare me the subtleties.  I'm trying to say a
tender farewell to an erring daughter--and she IS erring beyond
imagination--and that's all I can manage.  This whole business is
plain imbecile."

"You've got to admit we've both been honest."

"When a mother loses her temper and beats her child and the child
yells, I suppose they're both HONEST enough! . . .  Here.  I went
over to Harley's, before you were up, and raised some cash.  Here's
three hundred dollars."

"Thank you."  Very non-committal.

"I'll send you a check at--Your address will be care of Mrs.
William Elderman, Darien?  Of all the tragedies played to jazz,
that's the worst.  Jinny!  Won't you wait and think about it?"

"Please, Cass, oh, please!  For Heaven's sake!  Do we have to go
over everything again?  I just want to get started."

She remained thus frozen until she had to turn over all her keys to
Mrs. Higbee, to whom she hesitated, "You might use the vacuum-
cleaner on the curtains in the living-room."

"Yes?"  How Mrs. Higbee knew that Jinny was quitting, they did not
understand, but it was evident in her contempt.

"They're very pretty curtains, you know."

No answer.

"I picked them out."

No answer.

Cass was deciding that he would discharge Mrs. Higbee tomorrow,
then that he would never discharge her.

Jinny tried again.  "And, uh, Mrs. Higbee?"

"Yes?"

"Remember to change the Judge's bathroom mat as often as it needs
it."

"I always have, Mrs. Timberlane.  Is there anything else?"

"No-o, I don't think so."

Mrs. Higbee clumped out, her back an exclamation-point, and Jinny
peered, helpless and frightened, about the room that she had made
and that Cass and Cleo and she had come to love.

It was time to go.  "I don't think I'll say good-bye to Mrs.
Higbee," trembled Jinny.  "But to Cleo!"

The little cat had retreated far under the couch, and would not
come out to Jinny's pleading.  "Kitty, I just want to stroke you
once more!" Jinny begged.  "Please come out!"

Cass said evenly, "Sorry, Jin, but we'll have to hurry."

In the car, she sighed, "Nobody really cares one bit about me here.
All right.  The hell with 'em!"

"One person loves you."

"I do love him, too."

On the station platform they kissed and said good-bye, tightlipped.
He recited, "I shall always be waiting for you."

"Don't wait."

"How can I help it?  Good-bye, my Jinny."

Then, incredibly, she was in the train, gone from him, just two
years and two months, to the hour, after their marriage.  He saw
her through a car window, so small, so helpless and defenseless,
looking around for her seat, and the train had snarled and gone.

"Why did I let her go?" he marveled.

Then, first, he realized that he would have to explain her absence
to practically everybody in Radisson County.  He heard the whole
male world of Grand Republic croaking, "Me, I'd of spanked the
little fool and locked her up."

It occurred to him as he stood on the platform, too confused to get
into his car, that he could refuse ever to give her a divorce, that
she had no grounds whatever.

--But I couldn't do anything of the sort, and I don't know whether
I'm a hero or a coward.

--I'll be alone tonight--tomorrow night--every night now, no sight
of her reading in her chair, no sound of her voice, no good night
to say to her--only loneliness and silence to say good night to.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

HELIXES & SILBERSEES


Dr. Sebastian Silbersee looked like a tall and wiry Scotch soldier,
and his wife Helma like a slender Jewess.  Actually, he was Jewish
and she born an Austrian baroness of pure Gentile stock, both of
which facts she concealed, in Grand Republic, to be the better
identified with her husband.

Their closest acquaintances were Rice and Patty Helix, the managers
of the Masquers.  The doctor believed that they were all drawn
together by his 'cello and Rice's ardent but stumble-footed piano-
playing, or by their common zeal in pinochle, but, without the
men's knowing it, the families stuck together because the two wives
were the little mothers of their husbands, and could keep their
learned boys happier when they played together.

The four had pick-up suppers, and afterward the doctor and Rice
went at their pinochle, feeling superior to the humble wives, who
washed the dishes and talked about preserves.

After World War I, the Baron Steinehre, born in a castle, had been
as poor and thin as a rabbit.  He worked in a Vienna bank and gave
elegant little teas with the cakes limited to two per guest.  When
his daughter Helma, in the clinic in which she was a volunteer
nurse, met the ardent but diffident young Dr. Silbersee, she
married him, chiefly because he was so gloomy about the future of
the Jews, and of Austria, and of aural surgery.

Leaning on her nervous strength, he was a great researcher; without
her, he was a cafe strategist.  They fled from Vienna just ahead of
the Nazis, almost starved in London and in New York, and then
pushed out to the distant Grand Republic.  The doctor gave up
notions of aural surgery, and was competent and fairly prosperous
as an eye, ear, nose, and throat factotum.  If in Vienna he had
drunk in the reassurance of Helma as he had his coffee with whipped
cream, here on what he considered the frontier (even in the formal
gardens of the Webb Wargates, he went on expecting to see grizzly
bears), he was kept alive by her and his 'cello and the Helixes.

Helma had to taste everything for him.  She rather liked ice-cream
soda, comic strips, griddle cakes, baseball, oil-burners, chummy
medical salesmen, and the fact that everybody called him either
"Sebastian" or "Doc" the second time.

She molded his private life, but publicly, in his office, he was
still king, and there Helma revered him as much as the student-
baroness had done.

It was the opposite with the Helixes.  Publicly, in "show
business," he was not very competent, but in private life he was a
bit too deft; he cheated at cards, he systematically failed to pay
his bills, and he drew and sold astrological charts.

This crookedness his wife accepted, and merely sought to regulate.
She tried to make him see that cheating and voodoo, lovely though
they are, and exciting, don't get you any farther on the way to the
heavenly reward of a white cottage with green blinds in Wilmette,
Illinois.

When they had met, she had been a run-of-the-mill touring-company
actress and he the stage-manager, playing small roles and playing
them drearily.  She had married him because he was the first man
who had asked her; he had married her because she had nice ankles
and mended his socks, and because he owed her twenty-seven dollars
and a half which he could never repay otherwise.  It had been a
tremendous success; they enjoyed both bed and breakfast together,
and the talk about everybody whom they met.

He was not bad as a Little Theater director, because Patty told him
whom to cast and, at rehearsals, how to teach the local girls not
to walk across the stage as though they were going to the corner-
grocer for dried codfish.  And she kept their income adequate by
doing all the housework, cooking the simpler vegetables so that
they seemed edible, and doing odd histrionic jobs on the radio.

With both the Silbersees and the Helixes, husband and wife
understood each other and, working hand in hand, they could defy
the world.  They could exchange opinions about strangers, signals
that it was time to go home, or hints that here was a new patient,
a new theater contributor, with just a sliding glance of the eye.
At any party, Mrs. Silbersee accidentally let the heathen know what
a great physician her husband was, and Rice Helix indifferently
informed some merchant that if he could get Patty to broadcast on
his local program, everybody concerned would immediately make
inconceivable quantities of money.

After every party, walking home arm in arm, they would laugh
together, little delighted people walking home through the twenty-
below-zero Minnesota winter night.

No revolutionary cell, no laboratory team, was ever more secret and
loyal and quietly unscrupulous than the Silbersees together or the
Helixes together.  Yet closer than either pair of lovers were the
minds of Helma and Patty when they recognized the golden
conspirator in each other, and saw that their two husbands could be
coaxed to be allies in the ceaseless warfare between the world and
couples who are so presumptuous as to want not wealth and publicity
but only love and serenity and a sandwich.

So every night when Rice was not directing a play, the four of them
met at the Silbersees' house or the Helixes' two-rooms-over-a-
store, and the men made a little music and played a little
pinochle, and the two wives gossiped in security.

It probably would not last.  The Great World does not permit such
unquestioning love and ill-paid truancy.



47


Cass Timberlane was pretending that he was a judge, sitting on the
bench in a murder case.  What he was really doing was sitting on
the bench in a murder case.

The audible case was that of a construction-gang laborer who was
alleged to have killed his foreman with a pickaxe, after an
argument about Finland and Russia.  Sweeney Fishberg, for the
defense, showed that there was a question which of the gang had
done it, and somehow suggested that it had been a good idea anyway.
He had smuggled into the case a confusing dispute as to which of
the suspects had worn a mustache at the time of the killing, and
for hours there had been the dreary and inexpert testimony of
barbers, neighbors, and people who happened to have taken snapshots
at that time--at about that time--somewhere near that time--they
thought.

Judge Timberlane was attentive enough, but his mind constantly slid
off to a second trial that was dearer to him and more agonizing.
In this inaudible and imaginary trial, he was the defendant,
charged with having killed Bradd Criley.



--Oh, quit your childish day-dreaming!  You know that you're too
civilized, or too flabby, even to beat him up--as you once boasted
to Jinny that you could, you shanty chevalier!

--You don't particularly WANT to kill him.  "Vengeance is mine,
saith the Lord: I will repay."  But you haven't even a good healthy
desire for vengeance, the Lord's or anybody else's.  You don't see
Bradd as an enemy, but as a worm, a crawler into decent men's
honest bread.



Suddenly the criminal in the imaginary trial was not himself but
Bradd, and he, as judge, was in a splendid, romantic position.
Awkward obstacles like codes and juries were cleared away.  Bradd
trembled (though he had never yet seen Bradd tremble) before the
Judge, the very Judge whose lovely young wife he had stolen.  He
was charged with rape, embezzlement, high treason.  The Judge was
shining and mighty as an ancient Israelite law-giver upon his
throne, and righteousness glowed upon a face dark with honorable
wrath.

But his nobility triumphed, and he thundered, "Accused, while I
could send you to prison for all your shameful years, I hold the
law above my private wrong."

--Rats!

--Of course practically, the way I could get even with Bradd would
be to let the Wargates know what sort of a crook their legal
representative is.  Pull him down, as for years I've helped to
raise him up.

---Yes?  Now can you imagine what a decent fellow like Webb would
say if you came around tattling about one of his staff?

--Well, I didn't seriously mean I'd do it.

--You better NOT seriously-mean-it!



Cass would have said that he had small "imagination," but he did
have his projections of thought.

What would the ruthless and fickle Bradd do to his girl?  Would he
live on with her, but so neglect and mock her that she would escape
into boozing or scarred cynicism?  Would he kick her out, and in
that humiliation would she lose every pride and eagerness?

Cass did not at all think that her adultery was a prank to be
smiled over.  He was raw with the affront.  Yet he insisted that
there had never been in her any malice, any delight in hurting him.
She was fundamentally good, as the pleasant Bradd was fundamentally
evil.

Or so he meditated.



The minute Comedy of the Murderer's Mustache, on which hung the
life-imprisonment of a human being and the future of his family,
plodded on.  Vincent Osprey, associated with Fishberg in the
defense, was making notes, then plucking at Fishberg's sleeve and
whispering into his irritated ear.  The master of the court,
watching Osprey, reflected:

--I can tell he's been having a row with that grasping wife of his
again.  He's so nervous and helpful.

Anyway, he would never write to her the long letter which he had
instantaneously planned while stooping to drink from the fountain
in the court-house corridor that morning: a nasty little piece of
literary goods about her new associates in the East being
libertines.  As he listened to the pounding of the legal machinery,
his spite seemed as trivial as it would be useless.  This tragedy
of his loss was as far beyond his control as this trial was beyond
control of the prisoner, and it had less sense and pattern.

Cass's defeat, he believed, came neither from the intentional
malice of men nor from the conscious irony of the gods.  It merely
happened, like a storm, from causes that could be traced clearly
enough but still did not make sense.  Human beings, who could crush
the atom and talk round the world, still could make no more
illuminating comment upon the collapse of solid-seeming love than
the ancient wailing, "Why--why--why?"



The session closed for the night.  In his chambers, Cass wearily
took off his silk robe and handed it to George Hame.

"Sweeney doing a fine job," yawned George.  "If he had a single bit
of evidence on his side, he'd get that Hunky off."

"Believe the fellow's guilty, George?"

"Guilty?  Of course he is."

The Judge was thinking of his wife's lover.  "What is guilt,
George?"

"You want a real definition, Judge--one to go in the textbooks?"

"That would be valuable."

"Guilt is what makes you send for Sweeney Fishberg.  Good night"



Cass drove home by streets dreary with the packed and sooted snow
of late winter, to finish up the unhappiest labor he had ever
known: packing Jinny's clothes and trinkets to send them to her in
Connecticut.

It was like preparing a beloved body for burial.

Small white wool socks, "bobby socks" they were called, to be worn
with bare legs that were made-up to look tanned.  He could see her
legs, the gloss of them speckled with tiny dots.  He sighed and
packed the socks, patting them down in the top tray of her trunk,
wondering whether he would ever see them again.

Airy dresses, so flimsy and empty now, yet, as he fitted them on
hangers, recalling her swiftness and grace.  Blouses and white silk
underclothes, which he found decorously folded in her bureau; a
boyish scarf, which she had loved for picnicking, and a sweater,
straight and prim, the curve of her breast gone from it; scuffed
tramping shoes, which recalled to him just when she had got this
scratch on one toe as they had bushwhacked through the woods by
Dead Squaw Lake, The nightgown which she had worn on her last night
at home.  Round the shoulders were tiny wrinkles from her sleeping.
It seemed to him still warm from her body.

Her sketch-book, with gently spiteful drawings of Boone Havock's
bulkiness and Roy Drover's tough jaw . . . and Bradd Criley resting
easy and masterful on a golf stick, and Cass himself, put into the
costume of a cardinal.

The volume of Yeats that he had given to her and that she had
loved: the old edition, the blue cover with the falling leaves, the
cross, the mystic rose.  He fumbled through it to a poem he had
read to her, sitting on windy Ojibway Hill:


All the heavy days are over;
Leave the body's colored pride
Underneath the grass and clover,
With the feet laid side by side.


He saw Jinny lying stilled in the cumbersome earth.  As he closed
the book, he noticed a corner of paper sticking from it, and pulled
out a note:


How's for a swim this evening?  You would comfort the lonely heart
of Bradd.


Cass grimly replaced the note in the book, packed it, closed the
trunk.

But next morning, when the trunk was carried out by the expressmen,
it was as though her coffin were being borne out of the house for
the last time--the house that would not quicken again to her voice
and her light running; carried over the threshold which she had
always crossed so gallantly, unaided.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

VINCENT & CERISE OSPREY


Probably no duller nor more careful attorney had ever been
graduated from Oberlin College and the Yale Law School than Mr.
Vincent Osprey; probably no more devoted or less skillful husband
had ever existed; and certainly no more placidly selfish wife has
been recorded than Cerise, his consort.

She wanted fine clothes, furs, jewelry, automobiles, perfumes, and
English biscuits imported in tins; she wanted power, admiration,
and beauty; and neither Vincent's income nor Vincent's influence
was large enough to provide them.

Cerise never drank too much, and never fished for anything more
than fair words and a handshake from men.  She did not expect them
to give her the treasures she longed for; she went beyond that, and
wanted them of her own right.  But she was a collector of
celebrities.  She simply had to have the great ones of the town--
the mayor, the judges, the millionaires such as the Wargates, the
Grannicks, and Berthold Eisenherz--at her table, and she expected
Vincent to persuade them to leave their nice warm houses to go and
eat petrified fowl at the residence of a minor attorney.

Vince did once coax Webb and Louise Wargate to the house for her,
but he spent the evening in excitedly overselling Cerise's talents
to them, and they did not come again.  She very properly punished
him, and for a month, whenever he tried to kiss her, his lips
reached nothing but her strong white teeth.  She said, "Most wives
would just let you go on making a fool of yourself, but I happen to
be honest."

She went resolutely to his office and examined his books; she knew
exactly how much money he had; and yet she charged up bills that he
could not meet, and so endangered his small stock of credit and his
smaller stock of sanity.  He was unavoidably in debt for his
insurance, his club memberships, and the installments on the
refrigerator, the car, the radio, and even the house, for naturally
he was one of those optimistic Americans who acquired these tribal
adornments on the installment-plan.

He tried to scold her about it, but she did not spit at him.
She had found a retort that was much more dramatic and self-
congratulatory: she over-apologized, and admired herself for her
humility in doing it.  She was sorry; she had been blind,
thoughtless, bad; he must think she was a perfect fool; she was
sorry, OH she was so sorry!

As she said it, it was evident that she was thinking, "What a
miracle of modesty and good manners I am, to apologize to this
little squirt!"

When she had finished, she immediately hastened out to begin
running up a new bill or to insult the wife of his best client.

She did not treat only Vince to these improvisations on the theme
of humility.  She also played her so-sorriness for the neighbors
from whom she had borrowed cocktail glasses, table-cloths, and
money, which she never returned till the owners demanded them.
She was a good actress.  She could make her repentances more
infuriating than the original injuries.

They had one child, a small son, whom she taught to "forgive his
father for his meanness."

Vince was not so sub-human that he did not occasionally threaten a
rebellion.  Once, when they were driving to Minneapolis and he
stopped at a village gasoline-station to fill the tank, she
wandered up Main Street and did not come back for half an hour.
On her return, he took a strong foreign-office attitude:

"Some day when you do that, I'm going to drive off and leave you."

She looked at him a long time, then:  "I hope to God you will.
Some of the hicks in this dump look like real men.  Maybe I could
promote one of them into something better than a title-searcher!"



When the war came, Vince was still of draft age, and he waited to
be called.  Cerise immediately found an office job in the Wargate
plant; learned not only stenography but something about the
manufacture of wallboard, and became a real Career Woman, an office
politician and an intriguer against the women whose jobs she
wanted.  Within a year she was receiving seventy-five dollars a
week.

Theoretically, she was paying a woman to care for her son, but
Vince paid the woman and Cerise blew in on dresses and bracelets
all of the seventy-five--and more.  She said that they could not
afford a maid.  She started with the noon shift, and before he left
for his office, he laid out breakfast for her.  The complaints
about her extravagance which he dared not make to her face he
hinted about in notes which he left for her in the refrigerator.

She told the women in the office about this cowardly and
exasperating trick.

The Wargate staff presently offered her a job in their new Racine
plant, at ninety a week, as personnel officer.  She went home to
tell Vince.  She would be going in a week.

"You can't leave me--and the boy!" he wailed.

"Well, I wouldn't mind taking the kid along, if I thought it was
good for him, but YOU, my dear Vinsolent, I hope I never hear
another of your dear old Yale songs again!"

During the week before she left him, Vince had to talk with someone
about the loss of his wife, or go mad, but as he had no other
intimates, the only person with whom he could talk was that wife.
She was not helpful.  He begged her to tell him what to do, and she
suggested that he kill himself.

Presumably she did not mean it.

When she was gone, this correct young man, who for years had
trained himself to get eight hours' sleep, to do exercises before
the window for ten minutes every morning, to swim twice a week in
the Y.M.C.A. pool, never to use any word more foul than "Damn," and
nightly to kneel by his bed and say "Now I lay me down to sleep" as
he had done ever since he was three--this model young lawyer within
one week became a haggard hobo, unshaven, staggering, publicly and
noisily drunk, slobbering in saloons till he was ordered out.

Judge Cass Timberlane, a man whom Vince revered, though the Judge
was only eight or nine years older than himself, came calling on
him, where he lay dirty in his dirty bed, and urged him to go away,
travel, forget.  Vince sobbed that it was too late and he had
already "gone to the bad," but the Judge assured him that he, too,
had once fallen to pieces, even smaller and worse pieces than
Vince's.

He knew that the Judge's own wife was away from him, and gossips
were hinting that she had gone for good--and for bad.  He cried
over the Judge's hand, and promised to be brave.  He telegraphed to
the man with whom he had roomed in Oberlin, but whom he had not
seen for five years, to meet him in Chicago, and they would "have
reunion and high old time."

They met, took a room together at a hotel, and had a distressingly
dull do-you-remember dinner at the hotel cafe.  After the first
spurt, they could think of nothing to say.

Vince excused himself.  He was expecting a call from Racine, from
his dear wife, Cerise.  He would be back in ten minutes.  The
friend waited half an hour, and went up to their room.  The window
was open, and twelve stories below, on the roof of an annex, a
ragpile of clothing, was Vincent Osprey.

Cerise came to Grand Republic for the funeral, and wept, but she
caught a train back to Racine that evening, leaving her son in the
care of her sister.

She told this sister that she was a modern woman, and just as
clear-minded as any man.  And indeed the young man who met her at
the station in Racine was nothing like so clear-minded as Cerise,
who was paying his room-rent.



48


For Cass, the worst, in the late Northern winter, when the
malicious cold and the ashen skies had gone on too long, when the
white world was speckled with dirt and the snow was spoiled for
skiing, was coming home from court to the dusky house that was
empty of her welcome.  Her absence was not a negative thing, merely
a not-being-there; it was a positive and frightening presence,
which crept after him and made him turn quickly to see her not-
being-there.

He muttered "Jinny?" as he stood in the dark living-room, as though
she must hear him and come.

Cleo stoutly accompanied him through the house with her inquiring
"Mrawr?" and he talked to her more than to Mrs. Higbee.  Once, late
at night, when he sat in the living-room alone with Cleo, he heard
her reasonlessly begin to purr, and watched her watch an invisible
presence in the room.  Her eyes clearly followed the unseen figure,
to the piano, to the bookshelves, to Jinny's chair, rested there,
then, with slowly turning head, she followed the apparition to the
door and, half in terror, Cass thought that in the doorway he could
see an outline made of air.

--This is bad.  Dangerous.  I wonder if something could have
happened to her?  I don't believe in this telepathy stuff, but I've
got to telephone to her.

--Don't be a fool!

He felt that he ought to rush out of the house, out of this danger,
go to a neighbor's, play bridge, anything.  But he could not endure
having to explain Jinny's flight.  For weeks after she had gone, he
was glad when he was invited to dinner, glad to know that he still
existed in somebody's affection, yet he always refused.  Except for
public affairs, where he spoke more impersonally than ever, he
dined alone, silent, served by a silent Mrs. Higbee, guarded by an
attentive Cleo, whose eyes too often moved from him to follow again
the invisible being that slowly entered the room and circled it and
vanished.

It had taken him a fortnight to believe that Jinny actually had
left him, but as it became contemptuously clear, his state grew
worse.  All evening, trying to escape into the security of Dickens
and Thackeray and Hardy, half-listening to the radio, he kept
himself from telephoning to Jinny in Darien.

At every moment through the evening, always calculating the hour's
difference in time between Grand Republic and Darien, he was
conscious of what she might now be doing.  He saw her at bridge
with the Eldermans and a neighborhood widower--the widower was
imaginary, but Cass pictured him and his sticky little literary
goatee, and hated him.  Then there were the evenings when the
Eldermans were out and Jinny was alone.  She was listening to the
same network program as himself, and if he disliked it, he still
could not turn it off, because she might want to hear it.

He hoped that she was not lonely then, and he wanted to speak to
her, cheer her, reassure her.  He thought of so many things about
which he really MUST telephone her--such as Cleo's casually having
kittens--but he dared not try, lest he reach only Avis Elderman or
her stupid husband or a Jinny patiently answering his solicitude
with "Lonely?  Of course I'm not.  In fact we're having a wonderful
party. . . .  HE is here."

No, no!  Surely she would not slap him thus.

But then--she might.  He laid down for future generations the
discovery:  "Love does queer things to people."

His mental dogging of her stopped sharply when his personal
Guardian Fiend buzzed in his ear, "And now, my boy, she is having a
little love-making with Bradd, your successor and a better man than
you."

He was presently able, in a slowly growing self-discipline, to wipe
out entirely that picture of them as lovers.  He made an injunction
against thinking of it at all.  He did not, however, persuade
himself that Jinny and Bradd were merely playing checkers, or that
some day she would raise that lovely face to him and say with
tender rebuke, "It was you only that I loved, all along, and Bradd,
whom you so unjustly suspected, is my long-lost brother."

His hope was that Bradd was already cooling toward her, and that
was at once a vicarious humiliation and a preserving promise.
After all, Bradd had never seen in her any peculiar divinity, but
only an amusing freshness.  Might he not tire of her soon?



He was happiest when the radio played such rustic memories as "My
Old Kentucky Home" and "Nelly Was a Lady."  He could see himself as
a boy of eighteen with a Jinny aged sixteen, on a country hayride
in the dusk.  They held hands and trusted each other, and suddenly
they were both of them eighty, on a country doorstep in the sun,
still holding hands, as true to each other as the coursing rhythms
of their blood.

He detested the bland, blond yapping of radio announcers, with
their new-world litany of cigarettes and liver pills and bean soup--
"yum, GOOD!"  He resented the fact that he was coming to resemble
the college students who cannot study without the narcotic of
unceasing radio sound.

But when he turned it off, the house was too solitary in the
Northern winter night, too quiet, and he sat listening for Jinny,
knowing that she would not come, yet forever listening for her
footstep, listening and afraid, not knowing of what he was afraid,
not daring to turn his head, afraid and rigid, while Cleo murmured
to the invisible passer-by, till he cried aloud and desperately
switched on the banal magnificence of a million-dollar band that
was right out of the jungle via Tin Pan Alley.

Yet when he remembered that Jinny and he had listened to the radio
with their arms about each other, relaxed and content with love,
then the strident gaiety was as intolerable as the menacing
silence.

He took to reading detective stories instead of the history which,
as the incorrigible Puritan, he felt he OUGHT to read.  But that
was not a soothing dissipation, for after them, in bed, he heard
from up in the attic, from down in the basement, from all round the
house, Limehouse cut-throats and international agents, and rajahs
looking for the idol's eye which he had stolen in 1867.  He really
could hear them, too.



He thought of her loneliness, as well as his.  He thought of all
the loneliness in the world:

Of widows who for a quarter-century had depended upon husbands and
noisy children, but were alone now in cottages where the clock
ticked too loudly.  Of more prosperous widows surrounded by alien
chatter on the porches of gilt summer hotels.  Of young men new to
a city, too poor for theaters, desperate in furnished rooms.  Of
other young men, soldiers in strange camps.  Of young women with a
richness of potential love but with no prettiness about them, alone
in the evening, waiting for a telephone call that would never come.
Of the lookout on a steamer long in the fog.  Of traveling men
plodding in shaky cars from country store to store, over the
prairie that fled always back from them.  Of Pullman porters late
at night, the passengers sleeping.  Of rich old men, so rich that
they were afraid of all their bobbing relatives, invalid and
waiting for dawn.  Of an old doctor, retired now, sitting in his
worn chair, knowing only too well what was wrong with him.  Of
kings and watchmen and babies left alone to darkness.

If his travels into pity did not make him the less lonely, they did
turn his thoughts from himself, and he could endure it again to
look about the room that was too quick with suggestions of Jinny's
soft being: the lamp whose purchase had been such a triumph; the
chessmen that still bore the traces of her fingers.  He could
endure it then, just endure it, as a patient endures the heart-jab
that did not quite kill him--this time--and he could even endure
the sound of a distant train whistle, loneliest and loveliest of
sounds.

But whenever the radio was not blatting, he was listening for her,
hearing her in a sound beyond sound, waiting for her, listening for
her, stooped and afraid, listening and afraid, like a man in the
condemned cell on the last, slow, irremediable night.



To the public eye--and in Grand Republic that eye can be quite
public--he was doing what is known as "bearing up."  In court, he
had never been so quick and sure; and he had never so often taken
briefs home for study.  Perhaps, he thought grimly, her absence is
very good for my work.

But he knew that if to others his base seemed solid enough, he was
out of shape, a figure loose and without pattern.

He carried on an undeclared feud with Mrs. Higbee about eating.  He
was in a mood to receive sympathy as the lean, suffering, and
vitaminless lover, but, with nothing more than a rebuking, "There's
some nice lamb chops tonight, Judge, and you didn't eat your lovely
chicken last night" as her sole maternal comment, he got no
satisfaction.

When she brought him an evening highball, Mrs. Higbee still used
the brass coasters upon which Jinny had insisted, to save the
mahogany, but when Cass went out to the kitchen, in a dull kitchen-
shuffle, to get himself a drink which he did not particularly want,
he no longer troubled to bring in a coaster with it, and he rested
the glass messily on a magazine, which would have brought
retribution from Jinny.

He lost, too, the habit of bringing home flowers, and sometimes,
dining alone, he disapprovingly noted his own table-manners, his
leaning despondently low over his soup-plate or sitting with his
elbows on the table and dipping his toast in the coffee or chasing
crumbs about the table.

As intently as a lonely woman fussing over pantry-shelves, he grew
absorbed in watching the whirling islands of bubbles on his newly
stirred cup of coffee: how handsome some of them were, with one
vast bubble-mountain in the center, how the lesser islands were
drawn across the current by the mass of the major island, and
mystically merged with it.  There was the most cosmic of tragedies
when the great island crashed and dissolved against the high
porcelain bluffs.

"I think possibly you're giving too much attention to the geography
of bubbles," he noted.



To the world, he was as proper as ever, yet he saw himself becoming
a little queer.  He was--for a while--slovenly about "making this
shirt do another day--just a little dirt on the collar," and once
this fanatical devotee to cleanliness did not shave the duskiness
of his jaw a second time before going out to a public dinner, and
once he forgot to brush his teeth before going to bed.

His next degeneracy was a look into mystic asceticism.  He cut his
cigarettes down to fifteen a day, and felt that God was counting
them and that, as a reward for this abstemiousness, He would give
back Jinny's love.

When the ice turned shoddy and went out of Dead Squaw Lake, Cass
found that he could be most satisfyingly alone in a canoe on those
chilly waters, and one twilight a man walking on the shore
incredulously heard the thin complaining of a flute out on the
lake, saw a canoe with a figure silhouetted on the leaden ripples.

"That fellow must be a left-over Indian, or else he's crazy,"
thought the man.



When he was both idle and strained, as he often was now after court
hours, Cass was plagued by tunes that chased round and round in his
mind, or by "Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy" repeating
itself, without his volition.  Worst mental parasite of all,
ceaselessly whirling like an electric fan at slow speed, was
"Silent upon a peak in Darien."  That one he had started as a wry
pun, but before long it had become a recurrent horror, and it meant
for him only Jinny, in Darien, lying in the silence that was death.

When he heard of Vincent Osprey's suicide, he felt that threat
menacing himself and, like everybody else now and then, Cass
wondered, "Am I losing my mind?"  But, like everybody else, he did
not believe anything of the sort.

The suicide made him look at his brooding, his own indulgent
antics, and abruptly quit all that adult childishness.  This
sensibleness had its own evils.  No longer could the curiously
vicious forms of mental solitaire divert his mind from the loss of
Jinny.  But he had had enough of the exhibitionism of the hair-
shirt of morbid love, and when he noticed that he was sloppily
leaning over his plate at his dinner, he sighed and straightened
himself.

He made himself put away the agonizing memorabilia of Jinny still
left in the living-room: the photographs of her, the silver bowl
for roses which she had especially loved, the painting of the
Sorshay River bluffs--not too good--which she had made on an Indian
Summer afternoon.  He took to sitting in his tight little paneled
study, in which there was room only for himself and Cleo and a
portable radio--little room for memories.

But there he could not see her so clearly in his mind, and this was
tragic to him, and he wondered of what future it might be an omen.



Though he was frozen with waiting for her, Cass was also busy with
war boards and Republican committees.  Sometimes he estimated, "I
seem to have come out of my fever of wild-eyed love.  But I'm not
too proud of that.  I'd rather go really crazy than forget her and
become free--free for what?"

He was not altogether amused when he discovered that there were
times when it was pleasant to go to bed just when he wanted to, as
noisily as he wanted to or as quietly; to order only what HE liked
to eat, and to wear the old brown hat.



Early May, this year, was not so much spring as a pallid and
invalid winter, and the shutting down of furnaces, the laying away
of overcoats, were more conspicuous than any riot of flowers.

Jinny had been gone from him for three months now.

They had written to each other mechanically, once a week.  His
letters were the most fatiguing documents that he had ever
struggled over, and the most exact.  He must be neither harsh nor
yet a beggar of love; he must leave her free--while trying to trap
her with anxious cunning.  He wrote fully about Cleo, a little
about his court room and the Drovers.

Her small notes were equally competent--and false and lost and
pathetic.

She thought that she would establish residence in Vermont for her
divorce, but she did not feel well enough yet for that effort, and
Avis was insisting that she remain in Darien till she was quite
sure that she wanted to marry Bradd.  ("WHAT?" exulted Cass.)  She
wrote "DEAR Avis," and Cass could hear the fury in it.

As an inveterate between-the-lines reader, he blissfully concluded
that she was seeing Bradd only under chaperonage, and he hoped that
she was having a dull time, but just when he was sure of it, she
wrote about a "gorgeous party that some people that live near here
pulled, they are great friends of Berg Nord as well as Bradd: smart
women and amusing men and lyric composers and playwrites."

--Darling, you never could spell!

"They were just the kind of exciting people that I TOLD you we
would meet in and around New York, if we were only patient."

--The hell you did, my dear!  You said you hated the place.

"Bradd met all these people through Cousin Berg, whom I introduced
to him."

--That is the WORST impertinence!  It's MY Cousin Berg!

"He is getting to know them so well, they think he is just as witty
as they are, and we had a terrific time, charades and cooking at an
outdoor grill.

"I'm afraid I did eat too many pastries and drink too much and stay
up late, and as a matter of fact, I'm writing this in bed, where
I'll have to stay for a day or two, not so well, but still it was
worth it."

He was worried to distraction.  He wanted to telegraph to her, to
telephone, but what could he say?  Nothing more than the advice by
which conscientious parents drive their infuriated children to
lives of vice:  "Do take care of yourself."  That he must not say.

So he merely wrote to her--air mail:  "I assume that after your
fine party but a little risky, you will, without being told, see
that you must take care of yourself."

Her next note frightened him even more.  She wrote, in a script
that was not too steady:


Cass dearest:

Cant write much at this time, am still in bed tho getting much
better, HONESTLY, don't worry my dear am REALLY being sensible this
time.  I have a good doctor here Dr. Liskett, he seems to me much
smarter than Roy.  He has started me in on injections of insulin
which, you know, I never had before.

I hate getting jabbed, like a poor trout with a hook but the Dr
says he is sure before long I can leave them off and don't you
worry, my dear.

Your bad Jinny


Then he did telephone to Darien.

He was told by a glacial butler that Mrs. Timberlane was now able
to leave her bed, that she was taking a short walk, should he give
her a message, and what was the nyme, please?

"No message," said Cass.

The word Insulin was a signal of disaster.



49


From the heartiness with which it sought him out and welcomed him
back, once she had gone, he ruefully knew how much Jinny had stood
between him and his city.  He was not at all certain that his hope
that she would yet really discover and love his Grand Republic was
not as great as his hope that she would again discover and love
himself.

His acquaintances did not say much about the highly publicized
secret of her absence.  He would have liked it if they had said
more.  They forgot her too easily.  He wondered, but dared not ask,
whether even the intimates like Rose and Valerie, who had been so
easy with her and so chatty, had ever been really fond of her.

Had they considered her too demanding and critical, or had they
been afraid of some genuinely superior quality in her, or neither?
It seemed to him that it was one of the most marked conditions of
her youth that Jinny did not enough prize plain, human, neighborly
love and desire to be loved; it seemed to him one of the faults of
these same neighbors that they were not patient enough in waiting
till Jinny should acquire this humble affection along with her more
nimble virtues.

Slowly and shyly the neighbors let him know what they thought.

Judge Blackstaff expressed everything he had to say with a clasp of
Cass's hand and a stately, antique, "You look well, son; I'm glad
of it"; and Madge Dedrick, Stella Avondene, the Marls and Wargates
took imaginary occasion to telephone, "Won't you drop in for a
drink this evening?"

They were so kind, he reflected; all his life he wanted to be with
them and ever nearer.  This Grand Republic, neither too vast nor
too rustic, too formal nor too frontierlike, was home.

As was natural for a brooder over betrayed love, at first he
combined a resentment that nobody ever telephoned to him at all
with resentment when they did telephone, which was continually.
When he was invited to dinner, he said nervously, "No, no, I can't--
I'm tied up," and the moment he had finished telephoning, he
fretted, "Now why didn't I promise to go?  I would have enjoyed
it."

It was chess which became his surest refuge.  The pure abstractness
of the game was salvation from his thoughts as it once had been
from the worries of his job.  But he had few people with whom to
play now.  He was ashamed to turn again to Lucius Fliegend or the
Reverend Dr. Gadd, after neglecting them so long.  Every evening he
worked out chess problems by himself.

Once, when Mrs. Higbee came in with firewood, he looked at her with
an idea.

"How would you like to learn to play chess, Mrs. Higbee?"

"No, SIR!  Too complicated for me."

She fled.  For a while he looked speculatively at Cleo, but shook
his head.



Gradually he became easier, and in time he was seen about town as
much as that popular young semi-bachelor, Judge Timberlane, had
been before he met Jinny Marshland.

Boone and Queenie Havock, out of their fierce partisanship, were
the only ones of his hosts who said what they thought.  They had
him in with Roy and Lillian Drover, and their attack was launched
immediately after dinner.

They sat in the magnificent and oppressive Havock library, with its
black-and-white marble floor, walls covered with dark-red satin
damask, books including the entire library of Sir Ashley
Ashelburton (except for such few books as Sir Ashley used to READ),
and the elephantine automatic phonograph, on which a Mozart
concerto was faintly purring.

"Judgey," said Queenie, "why don't we get everything out from under
our belts?  Personally, I think you're lucky.  I don't know whether
your wife left you cold or you kicked her out--wait, now!--and I
don't care, but either way, she's no good.  She's pretty, if you
like the skinny kind, and she's smart--though not half as smart as
Boone's new secretary, that I think he's trying to make, the old
false-alarm!  But she never appreciated you OR us.  The only kind
of guy she ever liked was some mattress-acrobat like Bradd or Jay,
or some blues-singer like this awful jerk Nimbus.

"Now you're beginning to get over your love-jag, maybe you can see
that Jinny is as stuck-up and bossy and tricky and grabbing as a
monkey.  We only accepted her because she was your wife.  She never
had the brains to appreciate your goodness, and she never had the
brains to see that a couple of two-fisted high-binders like Boone
and me are twice as interesting as some little New York menu-
expert.  She thinks she knows all the answers because one time she
read a book.  All right, buddy.  Now shoot!"

They looked at him with such affection that he could only say,
"Queenie, I suppose you were always the meek little wife that never
raised your voice!"

"He's got something there," approved Boone.

Cass said slowly, "All of you have to love her if you love me."

Lillian, the rarely-speaking, exclaimed, "You see, Roy, as I told
you, he doesn't just play at loving."

Roy snorted, "Okay, Cass.  If she comes back, we'll admit we're
wrong.  I've done harder things than that for you.  I've sat and
listened to you trying to tell me that politicians ought to be a
bunch of faith-healers."

They all laughed, hastily, trying to sound comfortable.

"And, Cass, don't get us wrong," concluded Roy.  "It ain't that any
of us think we're superior to the girl.  We'll all admit that she
plays mighty fast ball, and that she knows a lot--for a girl who
doesn't know anything.  Say, for God's sake, do we play bridge or
don't we play bridge, that's what I want to know, because if things
have got so now that when you go out for an evening to play bridge,
then you never get around to playing bridge, then I'm going home
and catch some sleep."

From that best of mothers-in-law, Mrs. Marshland, Cass received
only a letter:  "We are hoping with you, dear son, that Jinny will
soon realize that candy does not make the best beefsteak."

One man Cass rather admired, for his imbecile courage.

John William Prutt, who had never yet informed a widow that he was
going to foreclose the mortgage without cordially shaking her hand,
spoke to Cass nervously:

"Judge, I trust you will forgive me if I am intrusive and
impertinent, but Mrs. Prutt and I have discussed it and we have
come to the conclusion that you ought to know that the better
element in the community are all in intense sympathy with you."

--I appreciate his good intentions, and Queenie's good intentions,
and Jinny's good intentions--I wish there weren't so many good
intentions around here.  Thank God, Bradd at least has no good
intentions.

He was vaguely ashamed, these days, to find out how willingly he,
who had always praised Bradd, now listened to the familiar gossip
about him as a trifler and a master of pleasing but shifty legal
tactics.  When Judge Flaaten observed, "I prefer an honest crook
like Fishberg to a crooked man of virtue like your friend Criley,"
Cass said only an impassive "Well--"



He had thought of his niece Valerie as a little girl.  He was
astonished when the child came calling in the uniform of the
Women's Army Corps, a soldier and a woman.  (Though she must have
lied about her age by a year or two, to get in.)  She attacked
martially:

"Uncle Judge, I'm off to camp, and I felt I had to come and tell
you that you oughtn't to let Aunt Jinny come back here at all."

"M?"

"Now I'm in the Army, I got to thinking, and I thought:  People
keep saying there's a new world coming, and women's position will
change entirely.  Well, it's come, and it HAS changed!  But there's
still ten million dolls like Aunt Jinny, that haven't got guts
enough to hold down a job or enough patience to study, and they
think that modernity for women is simply being free to skip around
with any men they like, and get all the jewelry and embroidered
linens.

"I was looking at some photographs of these French guerrilla women.
They're so self-reliant; they can sleep in caves and live on beans.
Then I got to thinking about Jinny, and honestly, she makes me
sick!"

"Private Pennloss!  I admire your warrior women--though there's
nothing 'modern' about them; the ancient Teuton women were like
that, too.  But your Aunt Jinny--Do you remember, few years ago,
people said our college students were effete--never walk anywhere?
Those same boys are now fighting in hell.  And if Jinny ever HAD
to, she could put on breeches and swing a rifle over her shoulder
and march all night as well as any of 'em.  Better!  She had the
courage to know what she wanted to do, and to do it, and to do it
openly!"

"Why, Uncle Judge, you do love her, don't you!  She's lucky, and
she's an idiot.  She hasn't heard there's a war on--that for women,
there's always a war on."

"Private, I want to see you when you're fifty, and your children
are blaming your generation for the next war, as your generation
blames mine."

"Darling, you're not that old.  You're not a generation, you're a
sweetie.  Will you marry me if I come home a colonel?"

"Certainly not.  You're too efficient."

"You wait and see now.  These days, you never can tell."

But with all these accusers of Jinny, there was one accuser of
Cass--Christabel Grau.



She came to call on him at home, as informally as Valerie.  At
thirty-five, Chris looked fresh and kind, bright of eye, tender of
mouth.

"Just came to see how you are," she said blankly.

"This is magnificent, Chris!  I was thinking about you last
evening: what fun we used to have riding our bikes.  You used to
take me seriously.  You'd accept all the fake names I used to give
you for the wild flowers.  Let's go up and sit in my study.  This
living-room is too--it's too formal."

As they went up, he was thinking that he had been a fool not to
have married Chris, the essential woman, the loving and loyal wife.
Jinny and Blanche, who seemed as different as swallow and peacock,
were both demanding, both civilly dictatorial, while the rich
stream of Chris's generosity wanted only to nourish the land.
Could he ever escape his fatal pattern and be courageous enough,
original enough, to allow himself to be unharassed?

He sat her in a red-leather chair facing his own, he gave her a
cigarette and a drink, and prepared to be cozy.  And then Chris
attacked like a cobra.

"There's something I have to get off my chest, Cass.  I know a lot
of people are giving you a hand, sympathizing with you because
Jinny had the sense to up and leave you, but I want you to know
that I don't!"

"M?"

"When I first saw her, I was jealous.  I used to be quite fond of
you--in fact, I think I might have fallen in love with you, if
you'd ever been able to make up your mind what you wanted."

"M?"

"But then I came to love Jinny.  She's only a tiny bit younger than
I am."

--Eight years, and you know it!

"But I felt as though she were my baby sister.  I was devoted to
BOTH of you, and I did want you to make a go of this marriage.
But, Cass, you were so selfish and inflexible with her."

"M?"

"The way you used to ride her because she was a few minutes late,
sometimes.  And expecting her to be amused by old stuffs like Roy!
Simply intolerable!"

"Chris!  I haven't defended myself much, but now I'm going to.  I
have been selfish to other people--to Blanche, to you--and when I
think of how I've imposed on my brother judges to get off on trips
with Jinny, I shudder.  But Jinny I've loved completely.  I've
given her everything I had, and I don't see how I could give her
anything that I didn't have and couldn't get.  And she knew the
kind of smug citizen that she was marrying, and she'd met all his
smug friends.  Nobody fooled her.

"Since you blame me, let me suggest--this doesn't affect my love
for her, mind you--that SHE might also have tried to make the
marriage succeed.  She might have worked a little on her job as a
wife.  If she was bored by my friends, she might have worked a
little harder at finding new ones and bringing them here.  I'd 've
welcomed them!  I married an angel, and I miss her grotesquely, but
I did everything to hold her, short of clipping her wings, and you
can't do that to an angel!"

Chris had thrown her cigarette at the open fire and was sitting on
the arm of his chair, stroking his hair.  "I do know how you miss
her, Cass.  Maybe what I loved in her was YOU!"

He leaned his head against her side, and her stroking hand was
still.  She would love him so generously, now, without bars--

He stood up abruptly, breaking the petty enchantment, and said,
"Let's turn on the radio.  Must be time for the Cleveland
Orchestra."

He knew what peace and certainty he was gambling away for the
fantasy he called love.

That night he thought of Chris too warmly, and he petitioned the
spirit of Jinny, "Hurry back to me.  I don't want to turn to Chris,
but I could."

He remembered that Cleo had made extravagant, rather immodest
advances to Chris, though Cleo was no cat-by-night, depending on
charm.  She was now twice a mother, progressing toward being a
grandmother.  Her more regular husband was reputed to be the John
William Prutts' black and white Tom, a conservative cat if there
ever was one, and Cleo had shown a growing conservatism in herself
by having her two editions of kittens in the most traditional
manner--in a bureau drawer.  If Chris had been a cat, SHE would
have had her kittens in a bureau drawer, preferably cedar-lined.

Till now, Cleo had obviously preferred the bodiless apparitions of
Jinny to Chris or any other sensible visitor, but she was wavering.
She allowed Chris to stroke her.

Did cats forget people? fretted Cass.



An Assemblage of Husbands and Wives

NORTON TROCK


In so vast a city as Grand Republic, with so ancient a history--
going clearly back 20,000 years to the first known traces of Indian
occupation--there were too many varieties of marriage even to
index.  Stuart Vogel, the county agricultural agent, and his wife,
a skillful high-school teacher, deserve a whole treatise.  They met
at night, courteous and cheerful, to share in cooking the dinner,
in reading plays for the next Masquers production.

They had one sort of "modern marriage," and Norton and Isabel Trock
another, also modern.

Before her death, ten years ago, the elder Mrs. Trock often said to
the other ladies in hotel lounges with tapestries that she had
proved it was all nonsense, this offensive contemporary notion that
it was bad for an only son to have a widow mother hovering over
him.  Look at her boy Norton, that neat and handsome young banker.
He had been frail, as a boy, and had shown the sweetest old-
fashioned manners, like a little prince, and so neat about hanging
up his clothes, yet look at him now: he was a fine swimmer, a
splendid boxer, a correct duck-shot--and all the girls were crazy
about him.

Then she died.

After her death, it was obvious to her older friends that she had
been right.  At forty-eight, Norton was president of the Blue Ox
National Bank, in which Mr. Boone Havock was chief stockholder.  He
had two bonny children, and his wife, Isabel, though not too bright
and not especially pretty, had the same daintiness as Norton's
mother.

He had always, since the age of three, called his mother
"Sweetheart," so that it had become her pet name among the choice
little set of the more fastidious matrons of Grand Republic, who
embroidered altar cloths and explained that they were of pure
English descent.

Sweetheart's husband had not been popular with these ladies.  He
called himself a wholesale chemist, but as a matter of fact he was
in the liquor business.  He was a coarse, red, bristling man,
without taste in altar cloths.  Fortunately he died when Norty, as
Sweetheart called him, was only five years old, and fortunately he
left them almost six thousand dollars a year.

Sweetheart thought of moving to New England or France or Fiesole or
the Monterey Peninsula, but she could not sell the house, like a
dark stone prison, which her husband had inconsiderately built, and
the "wholesale chemist business" needed her shrewd eye.

But Sweetheart and Norty did travel, always the two of them
together and always first class.  They were not lonely, for they
had each other; they could sit talking, lightly laughing, about
their fellow-travelers, possibly malicious but always well-bred,
from after dinner till after midnight.

She sent Norty to school in Connecticut and to that small but
thoroughly sound and Christian college, Toplady.  She always rented
a cottage for herself near the institution, and Norty lived with
her and was spared the coarser associations with the rough male
students.  But she saw to it that he did not fail to become manly;
she had private teachers for him in boxing, riding, swimming,
tennis, and bridge; and though vulgar competitors hinted that he
won by nasty little tricks, she crowed that he did win.  He was
also a pianist, and sang French lyrics over which his mother, a
broad-minded woman, looked shocked but giggled in an advanced
manner.

After his college, they had a leisurely two years abroad, during
which they rode on camels and looked up at but did not climb the
First Pyramid.  For two months they stayed at the loveliest pension
in Florence, filled with the most cultured in American and English
womanhood.  In Lausanne they met an earl.  In Canterbury, England,
Sweetheart bought a pair of lilac-colored kid slippers, with his
help, as usual, and they had to laugh at the strange affection he
had for these slippers.  "Do put them on, Sweetheart dearest," he
begged, almost every evening.  He preferred them even to her gold
slippers.

He did have the best taste, pointed out Sweetheart.

For three months they had a flat on the Left Bank in Paris and
Norty had a friendship with several exiled American poets and
novelists that was surprisingly vivid, considering how shaggy their
necks were and how many naughty words they used in the books they
had published privately.

Sweetheart watched their capital deftly, and when it was diminished
to the danger point, Norty and she reluctantly returned to Grand
Republic, to the morose stone house, and he started as a clerk in
the Blue Ox Bank.  He was good.  He liked figures.  They were
impersonal and dependable, they partook of the divine, and yet they
could be mastered as the crude, inappreciative people about him
could not be.

Naturally, his mother and he lived together, while he looked for a
wife, with the assistance of the love, the industry, and the
remarkable intuition of Sweetheart.  Together they inspected every
available girl in Radisson County and in the better (yet not too
vulgarly rich) sections of St. Paul, Duluth, Winona, and
Minneapolis.

He would go earnestly calling on these buds, he would play the
piano and sing the French songs, and stay till ten, at which hour
his mother would telephone him, even if it was long-distance, to
remind him that he had had a headache that afternoon.

Sweetheart always had the girl candidates at the house, and was
kind to them, and asked tactful questions about their stand on
homemade puddings, Republicanism, and the reservation of the Host.
She had one special test for the chicks.  She showed them the bowl
of shaving soap which she imported from St. James's Street, London,
for Norty, and if the girl laughed or looked puzzled, it was
evident that she was a crude provincial.

The young ladies always failed to snare Prince Charming.  Without
his mother being so intrusive as to point it out, Norty saw for
himself that they could never be counted on to warm his pajamas or
scrape the mud off his shoes or go out in the kitchen and cook
guinea hen or listen to his reading aloud of Ronald Firbank, as
Sweetheart could.

Some dozens of girls proved unfit.  Norty said, "Sweetheart, I
think this whole country has become coarsened and vulgarized.
Democracy is all right as an ideal, but why must all the young
ladies today be so ribald and impertinent?  There aren't any more
girls like you, dearest."

"I'm afraid that's true, but let's not give up hope," said
Sweetheart.

"Oh, I just don't care one bit about ANY of them!" Norty cried
petulantly, and kissed her.

They remained together all evening, every evening.  They were
invited to dinner together.  Norty grew--not older; he could never,
in the lulling spell of Sweetheart's tenderness, grow older, but he
did grow less young.  Sweetheart sometimes said (but laughingly)
that he seemed a little bald, and his waistcoat (not his "vest")
was more robin-like.  He chuckled once, and said that he was
catching up to her in age.  Some day he would be able to marry her.

Sweetheart thought that was sweet of him, but she worried over it
for a couple of days, then hinted, Sorry, but wasn't that remark
possibly in bad taste?

He almost cried.

Each year he was neater.  He trained Ed Oleson to cut his hair more
precisely; his trousers hung even better; there was less danger of
anyone finding a cigarette crumb on his sleeve; and to take care of
the long-vexing, often-discussed question of how to keep shoelaces
and black dress-ties really neat in his top highboy drawer,
Sweetheart and he spent two week-ends building an intricate nest of
tiny cardboard compartments, which she lined with gold tea-chest
paper, kissing each one as she finished it.

"Imagine finding any YOUNG woman who would give such attention to
my needs!" he shrieked.

"Oh, don't say that!" she said, with satisfaction.

She was tireless in trying to coax him out of his moods of violent
depression which seemed to increase every year.

She died quickly, of an embolism, in his arms.

It was thought by his friends--who happened, most of them, to be
women of his mother's age and understanding--that Norty would go
mad.

Dr. Roy Drover coarsely advised him to "marry the first cutie that
makes a grab at you when you tickle 'em."  Norty was not offended
by Dr. Drover's masculine brutality, as you might have expected.
Indeed, he came into the doctor's office frequently, and invited
him to the house for a drink.  The clumsy doctor was embarrassed by
these offers of friendship, and growled, "Say, I'm not a nosy
psychiatrist that wants to hang around his patients," and the
justly offended Norty cut him off.  No, sir, Drover might beg all
he wanted to, but he was finished with the dull oaf.

After some weeks Norty found an aide and companion: Larry Drome, a
large young man who had been a truck-driver, policeman, soldier,
sailor.  He had once been imprisoned for burglary, but that had
been a mistaken-identity case, explained Larry.

He became Norty's chauffeur, valet, and companion at gin-rummy.
Together they took motor trips into the Arrowhead forest, and
shared a cottage.  Someone said that he had seen them together in
Los Angeles, and that Norty was introducing his handsome friend as
"Major Drome," but that was probably a lie.  You know how small-
city people talk.

But the talk spread, like honey on your wrist.

The directors of the Blue Ox National, particularly Mr. Havock,
thought well of Norton Trock as a banker.  He was first vice-
president now, in charge of personnel and of loans.  He picked
careful assistants, and he could refuse a loan, or call one, with
tact.  They wanted to make him president, but they were perturbed
by rumors, probably spread by his rivals.

Mr. Havock had never heard of Krafft-Ebing or Stekel, but he had
run construction-camps filled with hoboes, ex-convicts, and mess
boys.  While he had never been educated into the history of Greek
and Roman culture and morals, also he had never been educated out
of a knowledge of hobo culture and morals.  He had Norty for
dinner, along with Isabel Avondene, cousin of Stella.  He had noted
that Isabel looked rather like Sweetheart.  After dinner, when the
two men were alone, with cigars and bootlegged white mule, which
Boone preferred to brandy, as being stronger, Boone spoke:

"Nort, we want you to be president of the Blue Ox.  But we have to
have a man who is a church member and a family-man--you know,
beyond criticism.  Why don't you marry Izzy Avondene?"

"I don't know that I--"

"You heard me!"

Norty wanted to be a sound husband.  He sent his chauffeur, Larry--
a rough fellow who might have offended his virginal wife--off to
live in a boarding-house.  Isabel and he had bedrooms at opposite
ends of a rather long corridor, but he did go in to see her,
nervously but politely.

They acquired two children in four years, but after that Norty
never again entered her bedroom, and he found it was "just too
ghastly inconvenient for poor Larry to tramp through all that snow
before he drives me to the bank in the morning."  He installed
Larry again in an attic room of his large house, and again went off
canoeing with him.

Isabel consulted Dr. Drover, who was cross.

"Doctor, I loathe talking about such intimate things, but I think
I'm going a little crazy.  I have such improper thoughts and I
don't seem to be able to control them, and I've tried to talk with
our rector, but he isn't of much help.  My husband never--uh--he
never comes near me any more--at night, I mean.  He's always so
nice and pleasant and he seems quite fond of me, and he's SO good
about playing with the children and entertaining my relatives and
so on, but--I do miss something."

"Did you--uh--did you enjoy it when--when he used to come to you?"

"I was beginning to, I'm afraid."

"I'm not a mental doc, Isabel.  I much prefer what surgery I can
get.  But I can tell you this:  Don't worry.  You women never
understand how hard we husbands work, and it's just that Nort gets
all tired out, slaving away in that big bank, and so he hasn't--he
hasn't much left for you.  Uh.  He'll be all right again when the
pressure lets up.  Now skip along, and don't be so impatient with
the poor fellow."

When she had gone, Dr. Drover thought, "Poor fellow, rats!  Poor
GIRL!  Nothing I can do.  Wonder if these Chicago sex-sharks do
really know anything?  I must ask some time, when I'm at a medical
convention."

Unlike Bernice Claypool, Isabel Trock could not frisk with Bradds
and lusty farmhands.  After all, she was an Avondene!  Whenever she
was distressed by lewd thoughts, she prayed.  It did not seem to
help.  So, from having too little of natural human sinfulness, she
became as pale and bewildered and hermit-like as the oracular
doctor's wife, Lillian, from having too much.

But Norty was blithe and rosy.



50


Cass was worried by the pointless possession of two houses.  He
could not give up the new house--it was hers--but as spring
grudgingly came on and he took long walks, he was only too much
attracted by Bergheim.  He liked to go into that shuttered cavern
and sit there, thinking about this whole madhouse of love.

--We're so civilized now that we can kill our horrid enemies--
year-old children--two hundred miles away, but nobody except a few
rather loveless professors has even begun to understand love.
Compared with our schools and churches, which are supposed to
instruct our emotions, the shabbiest business, even advertising
whisky, has been magnificent in its competence and integrity.

--In the future of married life, will men have to let their wives
have as many lovers as they want?  The men will hate it.  I would
hate it, bitterly.  Yet all these ages women have hated their men
making love to the gigglers.  They've had to endure it.  Is it our
turn now?  I don't like it.  But what has that to do with it.

--Will the world ever be truly civilized?  We always assume so, but
will it?  Could any caveman be more blundering than this Judge
Timberlane, who loses his one love to a fancy-footing shyster named
Criley?

--If the world ever learns that it knows nothing yet about what
keeps men and women loving each other, then will it have a chance
for some brief happiness before the eternal frozen night sets in?

--You cannot heal the problems of any one marriage until you heal
the problems of an entire civilization founded upon suspicion and
superstition; and you cannot heal the problems of a civilization
thus founded until it realizes its own barbarous nature, and
realizes that what it thought was brave was only cruel, what it
thought was holy was only meanness, and what it thought Success was
merely the paper helmet of a clown more nimble than his fellows,
scrambling for a peanut in the dust of an ignoble circus.

Thus brooding, remembering Jinny in airy dressing-gown scampering
through the gloom of Bergheim, remembering such magnificent
trivialities as their supping in the kitchen on scrambled eggs,
sadly finding on the back of the coat-closet door the gay angels
that Jinny had drawn in gold and scarlet, he was apprehensive under
the black spell of the house.

Abruptly, late in May, he committed patricide and sold it.

He sold it to a Scandinavian Lutheran church organization for an
"old folks' home."  He hoped that the old folks might be quiet
there and trustful, and outlive the belief that God was always a
man in the dreary black of a Scandinavian preacher.

He went for the last look at Bergheim.  Admitting that he was
sentimental about it, he took Cleo along, for her final pilgrimage
to that Viking paradise of desperate mice.  But Cleo did not like
it now.  She kept close to Cass, upstairs and down and into the
basement, where the Judge, who was a householder as well as a poet,
wanted to see again one of the finest oil-furnaces his skilled eye
had ever caressed.

They came out on the porch.  While he was locking the door, the
little cat frisked across the lawn.

Cass heard a barking, and swung round in agitation to see two dogs
and some boys chasing Cleo over the grass.  Before he could yell,
the dogs had trapped Cleo between them.  One of them seized her,
its long teeth crushing her fragile ribs.  It tossed her into the
air, and then the other dog pounced.

Running frantically, almost choking the dog who held Cleo, Cass
tore the mangled body from him, and held it to his chest.

The little cat half turned her head as if to try to look up at him;
then blankness went over her small face, and she was dead.  The
tall man, like a Sioux chief, plodded to his car holding tight the
bleeding body.  He was deaf; he could not hear the small boys
wailing apologies.  As he walked, he was crying.

He drove home--to what had become home now, garish and unloved--
with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the light body of
the cat, dripping blood on him.  Expressionless, he drove the car
into the garage, took up a spade, hefted it, and buried the body,
so tiny and unrecognizable, under a rosebush.  He walked into the
house and upstairs.  He changed his clothes and brought the stained
suit down to Mrs. Higbee.

"Will you have this dry-cleaned, please?  It's all over blood.
Some dogs killed Cleo.  Cleo is dead.  Some dogs killed her.  I
buried her."

"Oh, Judge, it seems like God is taking everything away from us!"

He did not listen.  He was trapped in a thought that he knew to be
superstitious, but he could not help linking Jinny to the dead
Cleo.  He could not resist.  He tramped to the telephone and
dictated a wire for Jinny, in Darien:


Dear Jin, letter from you overdue, am worried, wire if you are all
right, love.


He did not expect an answer till the next day, but that evening he
dared not stir from the house, and at a little after ten he was
called by Western Union.

"This the Judge?  Day-letter, signed Jinny, from Darien,
Connecticut.  Shall I read it to you?  All ready?  It's fairly
long:


"Goody this gives me chance annoy my nurse and Avis who might stop
me but out of house for dinner.  Got sick of having nurse nagging
me take my insulin she worse than you ever were darling so laid off
injections three days and on bat of candy in New York what a fool I
was am back in bed doctor seems worried wish you were here to tuck
me in things like this did not happen when with you but honestly
would you think four cream puffs equal to one wagonload arsenic
love love."


Cass did not smile.  He thought for not more than a minute.  He
called Judge Blackstaff:

"Steve, I'm truly sorry but I must leave for New York tonight, by
car.  Life and death.  Will you phone George Hame for me and take
over?  Thanks."

He called Alex Snowflower, Sheriff of the county:

"Sheriff?  Cass Timberlane.  I've got to be in Chicago, to catch a
plane East, tomorrow morning.  Can you do something illegal and get
one of your deputies or somebody with enough gas to get me there?"

"You bet your life I will, Judge.  I'll drive you myself.  You'll
get there."

"Awfully grateful.  We want to make sure we won't get stopped,
though.  I've got to be there!"

"Well be there.  I'd like to see any Wisconsin cop halt Judge
Timberlane and the high sheriff of Radisson County!  Expect me at
eleven."

Cass telephoned to Chicago, to a judge of consequence, who promised
that by some means, preferably legal, he would have a seat for him
on the morning airplane to New York.

All this time, Cass had been thinking about telephoning to Darien.
He could hear himself, only too clearly, bullying the unpleasant
butler, then demanding of Avis how Jinny was; hear himself saying
with impressive briefness, "I'll be there tomorrow, about noon";
hear Avis floundering, "I don't know that it would be convenient to
have you come just now."

No.  What he was really afraid of was that Avis would say that
Jinny was dead.  He did not telephone to Darien.

Mrs. Higbee was lurking in the kitchen.  When he plunged in with
"I'd like three or four sandwiches in a box, and some very hot
coffee in the thermos," she worried, "You look awful fierce and
wild, Judge.  You going to her?"

"Yes."

She said nothing more.

Sheriff Snowflower came blasting up to the house ten minutes before
his promised time.  Cass went out to him quietly.  They shook
hands, saying nothing, and the Sheriff started off through the
decorous city streets at fifty miles an hour, which he increased to
an unswerving seventy as soon as they had come to the end of
Chippewa Avenue--an empty gray shell by night.  They crossed the
Big Eagle River, soared to the top of the bluffs, and headed
southeast, for St. Croix Falls, on the Old North Military Road.

Cass had the familiar illusion that the countryside, unreal with
night, was running past them, trees charging at them, a hamlet of
ten houses hastily erected while they were coming up and hurled at
them, road curves swinging round to avoid them, while they sat
secure in this small, dark control-room, motionless, the center of
the world.

The more rapidly they drove, the more bulkily quiet was the
Sheriff.  They were formal with each other at first.  Though they
were neighbors in the court house, they knew each other only on
county business.  At the start, it was "I hear Mrs. Timberlane is
kind of ill, Judge; we'll get you to her, all right," and "Thank
you, Sheriff," but they were both good farmers at heart and good
Middlewesterners and first-name-users, and after a hundred and
fifty miles it was "I'll tell you, Cass; I know Jinny has got my
Mildred skun forty ways for looks and brains, but me, I like a
plain wife that's a bearcat on kids and dumplings," and "No, I'll
argue with you about that, Alex; you've also got to think of what a
wife wants for HERSELF."

Twice they stopped, and Cass was astonished to see an all-night
lunch, materialized out of darkness and actually standing still,
not rushing past them, astonished to learn how stiff he was, as he
eased himself out of the car.  Ten minutes later, the place was
gone, lost back in the country that had been annihilated behind
them, and he could not remember what he had eaten.

Always he strained his eyes ahead, imagining, even a hundred miles
from Chicago, that he saw the city's glow.  Yet when rows of green-
roofed suburban bungalows began to flow past, then factories and
wooden tenements and street cars, he felt that he had been lifted
up and instantly put down here.

He caught his plane, he slept all the way to New York, his taxicab
hurried into the Grand Central Terminal, and just before one
o'clock he was ringing the bell at Avis Elderman's large yellow
house in Darien.

The butler, small but swelling with superciliousness, opened the
door and said "Yes?"

It occurred to Cass that the man did not recognize him, perhaps did
not know that he existed; that he looked dusty and disarrayed; that
no one in the house knew that he was coming.  But it also occurred
to him that a few feet away was his Jinny.

He said impatiently, "I'm Mr. Timberlane."

"Yes?"

"Damn it, Judge Timberlane!"

Everyone on that floor must have heard.  Avis popped into sight,
down the hall, and the expression on her face indicated only that
it was VERY inconvenient to have strangers coming in just before
lunchtime.

He did not so much push the butler aside as blow him away with the
explosiveness of his "Avis!  Jinny?"

"Oh, yes, Cass.  Well--no--she isn't very well."

"But what--"

"She is in a coma."

"Does that mean--"

"Not always, our doctor says.  Not with insulin.  But it's serious.
He brought her out of one coma, but--well, she's more in kind of a
daze now than a real coma.  She keeps coming to, and complaining--
oh, not exactly complaining, perhaps, but--It's very hard on the
household, I MUST say, after all we've done!"

"I'm going up to her."

"I don't know that that would be--"

"You heard me!  Where is she?"



51


The upper hallway was heavy with oak and dark-brown velvet window-
curtains.  It was as ostentatiously modest as a funeral parlor.

When Cass opened her door, there loomed up, to bar him, Dr.
Liskett, a plump, disapproving man with eyeglasses, grunting, "What
is it?"

"I'm Jinny's husband."

"Whose husband?  Look.  If you'll just wait downstairs--"

"Get out of the way!" said Cass.

The doctor simply disintegrated, in the too-mahoganized room, and
Cass was facing the too-ponderous bed in which he incredulously saw
his Jinny, her face seeming as tiny as Cleo's, among the great
pillows.  As he went nearer, she was slowly opening her eyes, and
she feebly held up her arms to him, with a weak but exultant, "Oh,
Cass, my darling!"

Her eyes filmed over again.  Her arms, too thin and anemic,
dropped, and she seemed to have gone.

"Doctor!" Cass muttered.

The man was there, more attentive.

"She'll come out of it again.  She's in kind of an intermittent
mild delirium, with moments of entire lucidity.  Sometimes her mind
wanders--you know, wool-gathering--but sometimes she knows me
perfectly, and I'm sorry to say that then she isn't entirely
polite.  You must excuse me for not welcoming you.  I didn't
realize who you were, when you first--"

"Has she a chance?"

"I think so.  I brought her out of coma with insulin, and I believe
I have the sugar controlled.  She might live five months or five
years or fifty, depending entirely on how well she obeys my
injunctions."

"From now on, she's going to obey entirely!" Cass said grimly.

"And depending on whether she really wants to live."

"I'll see that she wants to live, now."

"Well, I'll just leave you two together, and be back in a couple of
hours.  Her nurse is downstairs having her lunch.  She'll be right
back.  She knows all about the insulin and everything--you can
trust her--in fact, she's my sister-in-law.  I hope you'll be
satisfied.  See you soon, see you soon!"  The sunbeam into which
the suspicious physician had now turned withdrew its light from the
room.

When the nurse came in, Cass did not even see her.  He was sitting
rigid, watching Jinny's restless drowsing.  He was angrily
fretting, "If she only had a real doctor, like Roy.  That chintz-
covered fellow here just got interested in me when he realized I'll
be paying his bill.  For JINNY to have a medical rabbit like that!"

The nurse looked once at Cass and sat down in appreciative silence.

Jinny moved, then lifted again out of her muted delirium.  She
smiled at him, and he sat awkwardly on the bed, pillowing her head
on the crook of his arm.  She spoke clearly, at first:

"Dearest, take me out of here.  I want to see our house.  I want to
see Cleo and Isis.  And Rose and Valerie and Roy.  And Chris.  I
don't like these people here.  Not any of them.  No.  I kept
wondering when you would come and take me back home."

She slipped into a half-delirium.  She thought that they were in
Pioneer Falls, on a picnic, and there was no color but rose, no
time save youth, in the misty fourth dimension in which she was
wandering.

"I love cocoanut layer cake; it is very superior, don't you think?
Do they have any in Paris?

"Maybe I can go there--to Paris--with Cass.  He is very bright.  He
knows everything and he isn't afraid of anything.  We would go
there and sit at a cafe and talk all day, and if I were scared of
all those French people--Do the kittens and dogs in Paris
understand French?

"This path leads to a shady place under the birch trees, and I sat
there beside him on the moss, and there was a patch of clover out
in the bright sun, and we could see a meadow mouse, the tiniest
thing but so wise and spry, and I wouldn't like to die, I can't die
and go off into darkness before I sit there with Cass again and
look at a field mouse, so small and wise--

"Bradd doesn't like sick people.  Once I didn't either, they bored
me and they smelled funny, I just liked them lively and doing
things and that's how Bradd is, but Cass would keep the bats' wings
away, he's so serious with his damn books but he would protect me,
and how could I die now, when I'm just learning how to live?"

A mumbling, and then she was conscious, asking weakly, "Am I
talking nonsense?  I sort of hear myself.  Am I silly, and
disappointing you, after so long away?  You know, it's hard to die
with much dignity."

"Don't!"

"No, I won't die.  I think maybe I would have, if you hadn't come.
I HAVE been a fool!  I was young--but not that young!  I do know a
little better now.  Quicksilver people like Bradd slide away from
you so.  Take me away from here, Cass, please do!"

"I will!"

"As soon as you can.  And then we'll be happy--pretty happy.  If
you can just manage to hold onto me for one more year, only one
year, Cass, I'll learn.  Hold me close.  They come in here and
stare at me and wonder if I'm dead, or if they will have to go on
having me here.  Hold me!"

Her head was pressed against his arm as she again vanished into
danger.  She was so still that he thought that had been her last
beseeching cry.

The nurse came from nowhere, felt Jinny's pulse, nodded with "She's
all right, sir."

Then Bradd Criley was in the room.

He came in with the hasty air of having just arrived from the city
and, immediately afterward, the highly uncomfortable air of not
having been told that Cass was here.

Cass stood up.  He passionately wanted to do three things: to be an
honorable judge, to have Jinny love him, and to kill Bradd Criley.
He rapidly compromised.  He decided merely to hit him.  He could
feel himself slapping Bradd, like a righteous schoolmaster; he
could feel his fingers smack against that suave and treacherous
cheek.  His arm flew up, but he heard the voice of his law-school
dean:  "The essence of the law is that the sweets of private
vengeance shall be denied."

He said to Bradd, "Oh, get out."

Bradd got.

Cass's fury was ruined then by a cheerful thought, the first one he
had had in many days: the thought of how impertinent he had been in
kicking Bradd out of this room in his sister's house.  He turned to
the bed, hoping for appreciation of the ribaldry of the thing--and
he got it!

Jinny was smiling, trying to speak.  Bending over, he heard her
whisper, "I'm sorry you didn't sock him!  That's the only thing I
dislike about you: you're so blasted patient.  He needs hitting,
he does.  Why, Cass, he's a heel!"  She had a pale, self-
congratulatory smirk at this huge discovery, but it softened to
tenderness.  "So irritatingly noble.  But, darling, I would have
died, if you hadn't come.  I really am yours now, Cass."

Then, after minutes of drowsy rest, "Do you think less of me
because Bradd has turned me down--him AND his sweet sister?  He's
been trying to sneak out of love gracefully, and that's so hard to
do.  Can you still like me, now that you know I'm just a poor
thing, that couldn't hold even a Bradd?  I do love you now.  Am I
too late?  I have learned--but why did I have to pick such an
expensive teacher--and take all the extras?  Dear single-minded
Cass!"

It had taken her two dragging minutes to get through this
voluminous speech, while Cass stroked her hand and sometimes
hesitatingly kissed it, and the nurse knitted in a corner and
clucked with approval.

Jinny relaxed then in her first natural sleep.



Yes, said Dr. Liskett, what his patient most needed was rest and
quiet, and he seemed to feel some strain here in this house.  (The
doctor got around a lot, and saw things.)  Yes, it might be better
for Mrs. Timberlane to be transferred, by ambulance and only seven
miles away, to that charming Pleasant Air Inn on the Sound, so
comfortable and the prices so reasonable.  She need not be dressed,
and the nurse and doctor would go right with her.  Oh, gladly.

Unscrupulously, Cass wrapped her in the indignant Elderman blankets
and quilt.  But he did not, as he wanted to, leave for Avis a note:
"Kindly send bill for wife's board & room to C. Timberlane."

Neither he nor Jinny saw any kind of Elderman or Criley as they
left.



In the month during which they stayed at the Inn and Jinny became
well enough to walk for ten minutes at a time, Cass telephoned
long-distance to Judge Blackstaff, offering to resign his deserted
post, and was answered, "Don't be silly, son.  Come back to us,
come back home, when you can.  We miss you and--uh--we miss your
wife.  Good luck!"

His chessmen had been sent on from Grand Republic, along with his
clothes, and for chess partners he found a clergyman, a Polish
shoemaker, a schoolboy--and Jinny.



"You know," said Jinny, half-puzzled, half-merry, "I think Avis was
even more bothered by having to fuss over a diabetic diet for me,
and maybe the cook would quit, than over my relationship to Bradd.
But I'm sure she kept worrying, 'Why does my brother want to marry
a semi-invalid--a diabetic?'"

It was revealed to Cass, shockingly, that Bradd had never wanted to
marry her; that he had been as resentful as his sister at being
trapped into anything so permanent; and that, just now, he was
probably relieved at being rid of her.



In a fortnight, Jinny was strong enough for the inevitable peace
treaty.

She worried, "You honestly do love me, after Bradd?"

"What has that to do with my loving you?  I hated it, I loathed it,
but that didn't change the shape of my nose or my heart."

"I'm not really the little thrush you thought I was.  I'm a good
deal of a vixen, don't you think?"

"Yes."

"Oh! . . .  Oh, do you?"

"Yes."

"But then--"

"I told you: what has that to do with my loving you?"

"Oh."

"What we have to discuss is:  Naturally, I want you to come home to
Grand Republic with me."

"And I want to."

"But you'll have to reconcile people; not just Roy and Boone, but
even Rose and Valerie.  And Mrs. Higbee.  Don't be superior--like
Bradd.  She gave you as much of her life as you would take, and you
took quite a bit.  Do you think you can stand working at winning
back these people, of whom you didn't think too highly in the first
place?"

"I guess that after being lost in these Eastern crowds, so
indifferent, I want to go some place where they love you enough to
hate you if you don't love THEM.  I'll try.  I will.  Oh, Cass, I
can't say I'm sorry for everything I did.  I couldn't help it.  But
it IS all over now.  Can you stand it even if I can't make myself
all dramatic and repentant?"

"I can."



Jinny had no chance against the ancient wisdom of Mrs. Higbee.
When they arrived at the house, that clairvoyant was as cheerful
and casual as if they had merely gone to Pioneer Falls for the day.
Rose Pennloss and Frank Brightwing and Judge Flaaten met them at
the train, and in the house were flowers from the Havocks, the
Drovers, the Blackstaffs, and Sheriff Alex Snowflower.

To its fugitive children, Grand Republic will forgive almost
anything if they will but come back home.

When she had suddenly kissed Mrs. Higbee, when she had exclaimed
over the flowers, Jinny said gleefully, "Now Cleo.  Where is that
darn animal, bless her?"

Cass went cold.  At the Pleasant Air Inn, he had lied about Cleo,
but he reluctantly told her now.

Jinny broke, "It was me that killed her, by deserting her."  He
sent her off to bed with what empty comforts there are for grief.

Next morning, there were eleven invitations for Judge and Mrs.
Timberlane--to come to dinner, cocktails, trout-fishing, sailing on
Dead Squaw Lake.  To his tactful telephonic refusals, eleven hosts
or hostesses answered, "Still sick?  Oh, the poor girl!  Give her
my love, Cass."



52


That was a particularly hot summer in the Sorshay Valley, and Cass
and Jinny, keeping close, built up such a community of unimportant
interests that he sometimes forgot that she had been away.  And,
save that she had the annoyance of diet and insulin injections, and
had to be in bed by ten, they often forgot that she was ill.  They
were bound together by the discussion of Mayor Stopple's political
ideals, of why the chickens from the Superba market were so tough,
and all the other epic insignificances of a pleasant life.

The long, serene Indian Summer was carnival.  The hills were
extravagant as with Chippewa head-dresses and the far smoke from
Chippewa fires.  The sky had the curious and innocent blue of the
North Middlewest, and the air such cheerfulness that Jinny was
filled with renewed joy and submitted to Cass an idea about one--
just ONE--party with dancing till midnight.

"No cocktails, no midnight sun," he said, "and don't coax.  You're
to be in bed by ten even if I have to carry you."

She was only mildly sad about it, just enough to assert her non-
existent independence, and he discovered that he had made a
psychological advance.  He did not worry about that sadness.  Once,
when she had complained that she "didn't have much fun," he had
felt guilty, but now he reassured himself that most sick girls and
most judges over forty do get along without much riotous fun.

Possibly both of them would yet grow up.



They walked beside the lake, with an autumnal sunset like a burning
forest over the crinkled and lapping water, on which the rowboats
stirred and whispered.

When they came home, Jinny was summoned to the telephone, and she
returned from the call half-exasperated and half-amused, to hurl at
Cass, "The persistence of the amorous male!"

"M?"

"That was Fred Nimbus, our radio friend.  Jolly old Fred!  Hears
I'm much better--ready to be put into circulation, and would I like
to have him call around some afternoon?"

They were side by side on the glazed chintz of the glider, on the
screened porch.  She reached for his hand, and she sounded
frightened:

"When I think what his call probably means, I'm scared.  Have I a
reputation here for being a fast woman, merely because I--Well, I
can see how I might.  Have I?"

He lied as well as he could.

She had always been reticent about her feelings, but now she
brought them out anxiously:

"I do want to try and tell you how--You've been waiting to have me
say that I'm sorry for going off with Bradd.  Haven't you?"

"Well, if you want to."

"And I am sorry, terribly sorry, for having hurt you.  But I can't
honestly say I'm sorry I knew Bradd.  He gave me the education--
such a bitter education it was, but so thorough--that you'd had
before I ever saw you."

"I don't understand."

"I told you once long ago--but you didn't listen--that I've always
been jealous of your experiences with Blanche and Chris."

"Oh, not Chris!"

"Sure.  She's a woman of character.  She may get you yet, and maybe
that would be a very good thing for you.  JUST LET HER TRY IT! . . .
But it was your life with Blanche that maddened me.  She shared
your first love, your first wandering, your first house.  You gave
her your first eagerness.  Even if you did come to hate her, you
learned what it was all about with HER.  But I'd never had anybody
but you.  How could I size up life, size up even you?  I thought
maybe with Bradd, it would be a new world.  Well, it was.  A
horrible one, but thrilling.  And then being with Bradd made me
appreciate YOU.

"He's so grasping--in his lively way.  He takes so much that
finally I saw that I'd always been taking from YOU, and not trying
to give much.  I will now.  I will try.  I'm poor in spirit now,
but I will give what I have.  But if I've learned that, how can I
be sorry for anything that happened?"

"You're not poor in spirit.  You're so rich--"

"And that's the other thing--your worst fault.  You praise me too
much.  You inform the world AND me that I'm the greatest beauty,
the smartest draftsman, the slickest tennis-player since Leonardo
da Vinci, and will I please show my paces.  I can't live up to it.
When you advertise me so much, it makes me perverse; it makes me
want to be vicious.

"But--All these words!  I have no skill in them.  I just wanted to
say that I did have to learn about myself, and I know it almost
killed me, as it hurt you, but you brought me back to life, you
keep me living, you ARE my life."

She cried a little, and in their kiss her love seemed to be utterly
restored.

They had been living like brother and sister.  He had not even
hinted of love-making.  He did not know whether he was fatuous or
noble in not demanding his "rights."  With Jinny, he felt as much
as ever that he had no rights, only privileges.

That night, with his breath in a harsh rhythm not so unlike
sobbing, he went into her room, and in the bedside light she
stretched out her arms with a passionate "Dear, dear love!"

He still did not quite believe it, but when he lay beside her, she
murmured, "We've found each other again, sweet!  I don't know how I
ever strayed.  How could I?  Now, I AM sorry, I am repentant, I do
love you!"

Every bond of caution was broken.  It was very sweet.

It was sweet until he realized that she had been cheating for
generosity's sake, that she could not really respond to him.  She
was trying to and failing, he was humiliated a moment.  Then he was
grateful.  He said tenderly, "You've been brave and wonderfully
kind.  But you're still shut off from me, aren't you?  You still
haven't got Bradd quite out of your system.  Don't be afraid to
tell me.  He still holds you?"

"I'm afraid so.  Though I detest him.  He's so ruthless.  But maybe
that made him a good teacher.  Wouldn't it be strange if he taught
me to give, by his never giving anything!  Then this miserable
business--I know it was that now--it won't all have been a waste.
Can that be?"

"I think so.  Jinny!  If you're ever moved by your own self, by
your own desire, to come to me, I'll be waiting.  Will you, when
you feel like it?  Will you remember?"

"I shall remember."

"And I won't overpraise you any more."

"Now look!  You needn't be a fanatic about it!"



They were cheerful at dinner, the next evening.  Jinny voluntarily
announced that there were times when she did not mind these messes
of green vegetables.

"Not more than having your teeth pulled?"

"Not MUCH more," she asserted.

After dessert--a bread-pudding in which Cass said there was merit,
and Jinny said Yes, but not much else--Mrs. Higbee placed on the
table a teapot-cover: no cups, just the pink quilted tent.  They
gaped at her, and she stood expressionless.  They looked at the
cover, and it was moving, by itself.

Jinny snatched it up, and beneath it was a little black kitten, all
black, midnight black, cocky and independent and purring and
kneading with its paws.

"It is--it IS Cleo!" cried Jinny.  She put out her hand and the
kitten rubbed against it, and glanced over at Cass for applause, in
Cleo's old familiar way.

Mrs. Higbee said indulgently, "It's Cleo's own granddaughter.  I
got her off the Prutts' cook.  Only, I feel like it's Cleo herself.
You can't kill people like her, not for keeps."

Jinny smoothed the kitten, while Cass wondered, "Is this an omen
that even our Emily may return and we'll have made the greatest
human journey--in a circle back to the innocence with which we
began?"

When Jinny set the kitten down, it stepped out gallantly across the
cloth.

"You get right off that table, Cleo!" said Mrs. Higbee.



On that January evening, Roy Drover telephoned:

"Bradd Criley is going to be in town tomorrow, just for the one
day, to see the Wargates.  He'll have an hour free, and he's coming
to my place for cocktails.  I want you and Jinny to show up.  Now
don't be a mule.  Let bygones be bygones.  Live and let live--"

Cass interrupted with a sharp, "I'll do whatever Jinny says."

It was at the peaceful time of the evening.  Jinny was reading a
new book filled with significant social trends and portents:
Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son, Wholesale, Retail, and
for Exportation.  She was stroking the younger Cleo and, though she
had become an absolute Trappist as regards candy, she gave the
feeling that she was now and then confidently reaching for a bon-
bon.

Cass studied her contentment, and he spoke reluctantly:  "Jin,
Bradd will be in town for a few hours tomorrow, and Roy wants us to
come for cocktails with him."

She stared.  "I don't want to see him!"  Her violence betrayed that
she was afraid to see him, that she longed to see him, that she had
to see him.

"I guess he's one fact we'd better face," said Cass patiently.



In Dr. Drover's sun-room, with its pea-green wicker chairs, there
were eight people, all friends of Bradd, who with magnificent tact
played his role of Home Boy Who Went to the City and Made Good but
Will Never, Never Forget His Old Friends.

He kissed Queenie, Lillian, and Diantha on the cheek, and Rose on
the mouth, but with Jinny Timberlane he shook hands cordially,
exactly as he did with Jinny's reticent husband.

It seemed to Cass impossible that he could either have loved or
hated this fellow.  He was too brisk, too obvious, too unfamiliar.
This was another Bradd.  Success and the great city had claimed
him.

He was full of quips and of names which he considered famous.  He
let them know how chummy he had become with a stock-broker, an
aviation magnate, a female columnist formerly a professional lady,
but he was not blown with all this social grandeur.  He kept
yelling, "You don't see any Park Avenue dames as handsome as
Queenie," and "Let me know when you hit town, Rose, and I'll get
ringside seats for the opera."

After half an hour, Jinny said, "I'm afraid we'll have to go home
now."

They shook hands with Bradd and with everybody else available.  In
the street, Cass said, "Well?"

"I know.  Oh, darling, the man is a monkey, a monkey on a stick!
I'm so glad I saw him, though.  I never really saw him before.
That charm-peddler!  And I never really saw you before.  Cass, I--
Don't you see what I'm trying to tell you?"

"Yes."

She was so serious that it was not till dinner that she said, "And
that was the WORST tie he had on.  Like these colored pictures of
vegetable soup.  And I'll bet he spent nine dollars for it.  You'll
never wear a tie like that!"



Late at night he awoke to find her standing in his doorway, a moth
against the light from the hall.

"I thought maybe you would come in and see me.  I was very cold,"
she said plaintively.  "Couldn't I crawl in your bed and get warm?"

Then, for her and his love for her, he gave up his vested right to
be tragic, gave up pride and triumph and all the luxury of
submerged resentment, and smiled at her with the simplicity of a
baby.

"Dear Jinny!" he said, and she confided, "I'm going to get new
storm-windows on my room, even if I have to put them up myself.  I
could, too!  I'm the best storm-window fixer in this town.  You'll
see!"



THE END





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