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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Saturday Evening Post (19 December 1931)

Here and there in a sunless corner skulked a little snow under a
veil of coal specks, but the men taking down storm windows were
laboring in shirt sleeves and the turf was becoming firm underfoot.

In the streets, dresses dyed after fruit, leaf and flower emerged
from beneath the shed somber skins of animals; now only a few old
men wore mousy caps pulled down over their ears.  That was the day
Forrest Winslow forgot the long fret of the past winter as one
forgets inevitable afflictions, sickness, and war, and turned with
blind confidence toward the summer, thinking he already recognized
in it all the summers of the past--the golfing, sailing, swimming

For eight years Forrest had gone East to school and then to
college; now he worked for his father in a large Minnesota city.
He was handsome, popular and rather spoiled in a conservative way,
and so the past year had been a comedown.  The discrimination that
had picked Scroll and Key at New Haven was applied to sorting furs;
the hand that had signed the Junior Prom expense checks had since
rocked in a sling for two months with mild dermatitis venenata.
After work, Forrest found no surcease in the girls with whom he had
grown up.  On the contrary, the news of a stranger within the tribe
stimulated him and during the transit of a popular visitor he
displayed a convulsive activity.  So far, nothing had happened; but
here was summer.

On the day spring broke through and summer broke through--it is
much the same thing in Minnesota--Forrest stopped his coupé in
front of a music store and took his pleasant vanity inside.  As he
said to the clerk, "I want some records," a little bomb of
excitement exploded in his larynx, causing an unfamiliar and almost
painful vacuum in his upper diaphragm.  The unexpected detonation
was caused by the sight of a corn-colored girl who was being waited
on across the counter.

She was a stalk of ripe corn, but bound not as cereals are but as a
rare first edition, with all the binder's art.  She was lovely and
expensive, and about nineteen, and he had never seen her before.
She looked at him for just an unnecessary moment too long, with so
much self-confidence that he felt his own rush out and away to join
hers--". . . from him that hath not shall be taken away even that
which he hath."  Then her head swayed forward and she resumed her
inspection of a catalogue.

Forrest looked at the list a friend had sent him from New York.
Unfortunately, the first title was:  "When Voo-do-o-do Meets Boop-
boop-a-doop, There'll Soon be a Hot-Cha-Cha."  Forrest read it with
horror.  He could scarcely believe a title could be so repulsive.

Meanwhile the girl was asking:  "Isn't there a record of
Prokofiev's 'Fils Prodigue'?"

"I'll see, madam."  The saleswoman turned to Forrest.

"'When Voo--'" Forrest began, and then repeated, "'When Voo--'"

There was no use; he couldn't say it in front of that nymph of the
harvest across the table.

"Never mind that one," he said quickly.  "Give me 'Huggable--'"

Again he broke off.

"'Huggable, Kissable You'?" suggested the clerk helpfully, and her
assurance that it was very nice suggested a humiliating community
of taste.

"I want Stravinsky's 'Fire Bird,'" said the other customer, "and
this album of Chopin waltzes."

Forrest ran his eye hastily down the rest of his list:  "Digga
Diggity," "Ever So Goosy," "Bunkey Doodle I Do."

"Anybody would take me for a moron," he thought.  He crumpled up
the list and fought for air--his own kind of air, the air of casual

"I'd like," he said coldly, "Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata.'"

There was a record of it at home, but it didn't matter.  It gave
him the right to glance at the girl again and again.  Life became
interesting; she was the loveliest concoction; it would be easy to
trace her.  With the "Moonlight Sonata" wrapped face to face with
"Huggable, Kissable You," Forrest quitted the shop.

There was a new book store down the street, and here also he
entered, as if books and records could fill the vacuum that spring
was making in his heart.  As he looked among the lifeless words of
many titles together, he was wondering how soon he could find her,
and what then.

"I'd like a hard-boiled detective story," he said.

A weary young man shook his head with patient reproof;
simultaneously, a spring draft from the door blew in with it the
familiar glow of cereal hair.

"We don't carry detective stories or stuff like that," said the
young man in an unnecessarily loud voice.  "I imagine you'll find
it at a department store."

"I thought you carried books," said Forrest feebly.

"Books, yes, but not that kind."  The young man turned to wait on
his other customer.

As Forrest stalked out, passing within the radius of the girl's
perfume, he heard her ask:

"Have you got anything of Louis Arragon's, either in French or in

"She's just showing off," he thought angrily.  "They skip right
from Peter Rabbit to Marcel Proust these days."

Outside, parked just behind his own adequate coupé, he found an
enormous silver-colored roadster of English make and custom design.
Disturbed, even upset, he drove homeward through the moist, golden

The Winslows lived in an old, wide-verandaed house on Crest Avenue--
Forrest's father and mother, his great-grandmother and his sister
Eleanor.  They were solid people as that phrase goes since the war.
Old Mrs. Forrest was entirely solid; with convictions based on a
way of life that had worked for eighty-four years.  She was a
character in the city; she remembered the Sioux war and she had
been in Stillwater the day the James brothers shot up the main

Her own children were dead and she looked on these remoter
descendants from a distance, oblivious of the forces that had
formed them.  She understood that the Civil War and the opening up
of the West were forces, while the free-silver movement and the
World War had reached her only as news.  But she knew that her
father, killed at Cold Harbor, and her husband, the merchant, were
larger in scale than her son or her grandson.  People who tried to
explain contemporary phenomena to her seemed, to her, to be talking
against the evidence of their own senses.  Yet she was not
atrophied; last summer she had traveled over half of Europe with
only a maid.

Forrest's father and mother were something else again.  They had
been in the susceptible middle thirties when the cocktail party and
its concomitants arrived in 1921.  They were divided people,
leaning forward and backward.  Issues that presented no difficulty
to Mrs. Forrest caused them painful heat and agitation.  Such an
issue arose before they had been five minutes at table that night.

"Do you know the Rikkers are coming back?" said Mrs. Winslow.
"They've taken the Warner house."  She was a woman with many
uncertainties, which she concealed from herself by expressing her
opinions very slowly and thoughtfully, to convince her own ears.
"It's a wonder Dan Warner would rent them his house.  I suppose
Cathy thinks everybody will fall all over themselves."

"What Cathy?" asked old Mrs. Forrest.

"She was Cathy Chase.  Her father was Reynold Chase.  She and her
husband are coming back here."

"Oh, yes."

"I scarcely knew her," continued Mrs. Winslow, "but I know that
when they were in Washington they were pointedly rude to everyone
from Minnesota--went out of their way.  Mary Cowan was spending a
winter there, and she invited Cathy to lunch or tea at least half a
dozen times.  Cathy never appeared."

"I could beat that record," said Pierce Winslow.  "Mary Cowan could
invite me a hundred times and I wouldn't go."

"Anyhow," pursued his wife slowly, "in view of all the scandal,
it's just asking for the cold shoulder to come out here."

"They're asking for it, all right," said Winslow.  He was a
Southerner, well liked in the city, where he had lived for thirty
years.  "Walter Hannan came in my office this morning and wanted me
to second Rikker for the Kennemore Club.  I said:  'Walter, I'd
rather second Al Capone.'  What's more, Rikker'll get into the
Kennemore Club over my dead body."

"Walter had his nerve.  What's Chauncey Rikker to you?  It'll be
hard to get anyone to second him."

"Who are they?" Eleanor asked.  "Somebody awful?"

She was eighteen and a débutante.  Her current appearances at home
were so rare and brief that she viewed such table topics with as
much detachment as her great-grandmother.

"Cathy was a girl here; she was younger then I was, but I remember
that she was always considered fast.  Her husband, Chauncey Rikker,
came from some little town upstate."

"What did they do that was so awful?"

"Rikker went bankrupt and left town," said her father.  "There were
a lot of ugly stories.  Then he went to Washington and got mixed up
in the alien-property scandal; and then he got in trouble in New
York--he was in the bucket-shop business--but he skipped out to
Europe.  After a few years the chief Government witness died and he
came back to America.  They got him for a few months for contempt
of court."  He expanded into eloquent irony:  "And now, with true
patriotism, he comes back to his beautiful Minnesota, a product of
its lovely woods, its rolling wheat fields--"

Forrest called him impatiently:  "Where do you get that, father?
When did two Kentuckians ever win Nobel prizes in the same year?
And how about an upstate boy named Lind--"

"Have the Rikkers any children?" Eleanor asked.

"I think Cathy has a daughter about your age, and a boy about

Forrest uttered a small, unnoticed exclamation.  Was it possible?
French books and Russian music--that girl this afternoon had lived
abroad.  And with the probability his resentment deepened--the
daughter of a crook putting on all that dog!  He sympathized
passionately with his father's refusal to second Rikker for the
Kennemore Club.

"Are they rich?" old Mrs. Forrest suddenly demanded.

"They must be well off if they took Dan Warner's house."

"Then they'll get in all right."

"They won't get into the Kennemore Club," said Pierce Winslow.  "I
happen to come from a state with certain traditions."

"I've seen the bottom rail get to be the top rail many times in
this town," said the old lady blandly.

"But this man's a criminal, grandma," explained Forrest.  "Can't
you see the difference?  It isn't a social question.  We used to
argue at New Haven whether we'd shake hands with Al Capone if we
met him--"

"Who is Al Capone?" asked Mrs. Forrest.

"He's another criminal, in Chicago."

"Does he want to join the Kennemore Club too?"

They laughed, but Forrest had decided that if Rikker came up for
the Kennemore Club, his father's would not be the only black ball
in the box.

Abruptly it became full summer.  After the last April storm someone
came along the street one night, blew up the trees like balloons,
scattered bulbs and shrubs like confetti, opened a cage full of
robins and, after a quick look around, signaled up the curtain upon
a new backdrop of summer sky.

Tossing back a strayed baseball to some kids in a vacant lot,
Forrest's fingers, on the stitched seams of the stained leather
cover, sent a wave of ecstatic memories to his brain.  One must
hurry and get there--"there" was now the fairway of the golf
course, but his feeling was the same.  Only when he teed off at the
eighteenth that afternoon did he realize that it wasn't the same,
that it would never be enough any more.  The evening stretched
large and empty before him, save for the set pieces of a dinner
party and bed.

While he waited with his partner for a match to play off, Forrest
glanced at the tenth tee, exactly opposite and two hundred yards

One of the two figures on the ladies' tee was addressing her ball;
as he watched, she swung up confidently and cracked a long drive
down the fairway.

"Must be Mrs. Horrick," said his friend.  "No other woman can drive
like that."

At that moment the sun glittered on the girl's hair and Forrest
knew who it was; simultaneously, he remembered what he must do this
afternoon.  That night Chauncey Rikker's name was to come up before
the membership committee on which his father sat, and before going
home, Forrest was going to pass the clubhouse and leave a certain
black slip in a little box.  He had carefully considered all that;
he loved the city where his people had lived honorable lives for
five generations.  His grandfather had been a founder of this club
in the 90's when it went in for sailboat racing instead of golf,
and when it took a fast horse three hours to trot out here from
town.  He agreed with his father that certain people were without
the pale.  Tightening his face, he drove his ball two hundred yards
down the fairway, where it curved gently into the rough.

The eighteenth and tenth holes were parallel and faced in opposite
directions.  Between tees they were separated by a belt of trees
forty feet wide.  Though Forrest did not know it, Miss Rikker's
hostess, Helen Hannan, had dubbed into this same obscurity, and as
he went in search of his ball he heard female voices twenty feet

"You'll be a member after tonight," he heard Helen Hannan say, "and
then you can get some real competition from Stella Horrick."

"Maybe I won't be a member," said a quick, clear voice.  "Then
you'll have to come and play with me on the public links."

"Alida, don't be absurd."

"Why?  I played on the public links in Buffalo all last spring.
For the moment there wasn't anywhere else.  It's like playing on
some courses in Scotland."

"But I'd feel so silly. . . .  Oh, gosh, let's let the ball go."

"There's nobody behind us.  As to feeling silly--if I cared about
public opinion any more, I'd spend my time in my bedroom."  She
laughed scornfully.  "A tabloid published a picture of me going to
see father in prison.  And I've seen people change their tables
away from us on steamers, and once I was cut by all the American
girls in a French school. . . .  Here's your ball."

"Thanks. . . .  Oh, Alida, it seems terrible."

"All the terrible part is over.  I just said that so you wouldn't
be too sorry for us if people didn't want us in this club.  I
wouldn't care; I've got a life of my own and my own standard of
what trouble is.  It wouldn't touch me at all."

They passed out of the clearing and their voices disappeared into
the open sky on the other side.  Forrest abandoned the search for
his lost ball and walked toward the caddie house.

"What a hell of a note," he thought.  "To take it out on a girl
that had nothing to do with it"--which was what he was doing this
minute as he went up toward the club.  "No," he said to himself
abruptly, "I can't do it.  Whatever her father may have done, she
happens to be a lady.  Father can do what he feels he has to do,
but I'm out."

After lunch the next day, his father said rather diffidently:  "I
see you didn't do anything about the Rikkers and the Kennemore


"It's just as well," said his father.  "As a matter of fact, they
got by.  The club has got rather mixed anyhow in the last five
years--a good many queer people in it.  And, after all, in a club
you don't have to know anybody you don't want to.  The other people
on the committee felt the same way."

"I see," said Forrest dryly.  "Then you didn't argue against the

"Well, no.  The thing is I do a lot of business with Walter Hannan,
and it happened yesterday I was obliged to ask him rather a
difficult favor."

"So you traded with him."  To both father and son, the word
"traded" sounded like traitor.

"Not exactly.  The matter wasn't mentioned."

"I understand," Forrest said.  But he did not understand, and some
old childhood faith in his father died at that moment.


To snub anyone effectively one must have him within range.  The
admission of Chauncey Rikker to the Kennemore Club and, later, to
the Downtown Club was followed by angry talk and threats of
resignation that simulated the sound of conflict, but there was no
indication of a will underneath.  On the other hand, unpleasantness
in crowds is easy, and Chauncey Rikker was a facile object for
personal dislike; moreover, a recurrent echo of the bucket-shop
scandal sounded from New York, and the matter was reviewed in the
local newspapers, in case anyone had missed it.  Only the liberal
Hannan family stood by the Rikkers, and their attitude aroused
considerable resentment, and their attempt to launch them with a
series of small parties proved a failure.  Had the Rikkers
attempted to "bring Alida out," it would have been for the
inspection of a motley crowd indeed, but they didn't.

When, occasionally during the summer, Forrest encountered Alida
Rikker, they crossed eyes in the curious way of children who don't
know each other.  For a while he was haunted by her curly yellow
head, by the golden-brown defiance of her eyes; then he became
interested in another girl.  He wasn't in love with Jane Drake,
though he thought he might marry her.  She was "the girl across the
street"; he knew her qualities, good and bad, so that they didn't
matter.  She had an essential reality underneath, like a relative.
It would please their families.  Once, after several highballs and
some casual necking, he almost answered seriously when she provoked
him with "But you don't really care about me"; but he sat tight and
next morning was relieved that he had.  Perhaps in the dull days
after Christmas--Meanwhile, at the Christmas dances among the
Christmas girls he might find the ecstasy and misery, the
infatuation that he wanted.  By autumn he felt that his predestined
girl was already packing her trunk in some Eastern or Southern

It was in his more restless mood that one November Sunday he went
to a small tea.  Even as he spoke to his hostess he felt Alida
Rikker across the firelit room; her glowing beauty and her
unexplored novelty pressed up against him, and there was a relief
in being presented to her at last.  He bowed and passed on, but
there had been some sort of communication.  Her look said that she
knew the stand that his family had taken, that she didn't mind, and
was even sorry to see him in such a silly position, for she knew
that he admired her.  His look said:  "Naturally, I'm sensitive to
your beauty, but you see how it is; we've had to draw the line at
the fact that your father is a dirty dog, and I can't withdraw from
my present position."

Suddenly in a silence, she was talking, and his ears swayed away
from his own conversation.

". . . Helen had this odd pain for over a year and, of course, they
suspected cancer.  She went to have an X ray; she undressed behind
a screen, and the doctor looked at her through the machine, and
then he said, 'But I told you to take off all your clothes,' and
Helen said, 'I have.'  The doctor looked again, and said, 'Listen,
my dear, I brought you into the world, so there's no use being
modest with me.  Take off everything.'  So Helen said, 'I've got
every stitch off; I swear.'  But the doctor said, 'You have not.
The X ray shows me a safety pin in your brassiere.'  Well, they
finally found out that she'd been suspected of swallowing a safety
pin when she was two years old."

The story, floating in her clear, crisp voice upon the intimate
air, disarmed Forrest.  It had nothing to do with what had taken
place in Washington or New York ten years before.  Suddenly he
wanted to go and sit near her, because she was the tongue of flame
that made the firelight vivid.  Leaving, he walked for an hour
through feathery snow, wondering again why he couldn't know her,
why it was his business to represent a standard.

"Well, maybe I'll have a lot of fun some day doing what I ought to
do," he thought ironically--"when I'm fifty."

The first Christmas dance was the charity ball at the armory.  It
was a large, public affair; the rich sat in boxes.  Everyone came
who felt he belonged, and many out of curiosity, so the atmosphere
was tense with a strange haughtiness and aloofness.

The Rikkers had a box.  Forrest, coming in with Jane Drake, glanced
at the man of evil reputation and at the beaten woman frozen with
jewels who sat beside him.  They were the city's villains, gaped at
by the people of reserved and timid lives.  Oblivious of the
staring eyes, Alida and Helen Hannan held court for several young
men from out of town.  Without question, Alida was incomparably the
most beautiful girl in the room.

Several people told Forrest the news--the Rikkers were giving a big
dance after New Year's.  There were written invitations, but these
were being supplemented by oral ones.  Rumor had it that one had
merely to be presented to any Rikker in order to be bidden to the

As Forrest passed through the hall, two friends stopped him and
with a certain hilarity introduced him to a youth of seventeen, Mr.
Teddy Rikker.

"We're giving a dance," said the young man immediately.  "January
third.  Be very happy if you could come."

Forrest was afraid he had an engagement.

"Well, come if you change your mind."

"Horrible kid, but shrewd," said one of his friends later.  "We
were feeding him people, and when we brought up a couple of saps,
he looked at them and didn't say a word.  Some refuse and a few
accept and most of them stall, but he goes right on; he's got his
father's crust."

Into the highways and byways.  Why didn't the girl stop it?  He was
sorry for her when he found Jane in a group of young women reveling
in the story.

"I hear they asked Bodman, the undertaker, by mistake, and then
took it back."

"Mrs. Carleton pretended she was deaf."

"There's going to be a carload of champagne from Canada."

"Of course, I won't go, but I'd love to, just to see what happens.
There'll be a hundred men to every girl--and that'll be meat for

The accumulated malice repelled him, and he was angry at Jane for
being part of it.  Turning away, his eyes fell on Alida's proud
form swaying along a wall, watched the devotion of her partners
with an unpleasant resentment.  He did not know that he had been a
little in love with her for many months.  Just as two children can
fall in love during a physical struggle over a ball, so their
awareness of each other had grown to surprising proportions.

"She's pretty," said Jane.  "She's not exactly overdressed, but
considering everything, she dresses too elaborately."

"I suppose she ought to wear sackcloth and ashes or half mourning."

"I was honored with a written invitation, but, of course, I'm not

"Why not?"

Jane looked at him in surprise.  "You're not going."

"That's different.  I would if I were you.  You see, you don't care
what her father did."

"Of course, I care."

"No, you don't.  And all this small meanness just debases the whole
thing.  Why don't they let her alone?  She's young and pretty and
she's done nothing wrong."

Later in the week he saw Alida at the Hannans' dance and noticed
that many men danced with her.  He saw her lips moving, heard her
laughter, caught a word or so of what she said; irresistibly he
found himself guiding partners around in her wake.  He envied
visitors to the city who didn't know who she was.

The night of the Rikkers' dance he went to a small dinner; before
they sat down at table he realized that the others were all going
on to the Rikkers'.  They talked of it as a sort of comic
adventure; insisted that he come too.

"Even if you weren't invited, it's all right," they assured him.
"We were told we could bring anyone.  It's just a free-for-all; it
doesn't put you under any obligations.  Norma Nash is going and she
didn't invite Alida Rikker to her party.  Besides, she's really
very nice.  My brother's quite crazy about her.  Mother is worried
sick, because he says he wants to marry her."

Clasping his hand about a new highball, Forrest knew that if he
drank it he would probably go.  All his reasons for not going
seemed old and tired, and, fatally, he had begun to seem absurd to
himself.  In vain he tried to remember the purpose he was serving,
and found none.  His father had weakened on the matter of the
Kennemore Club.  And now suddenly he found reasons for going--men
could go where their women could not.

"All right," he said.

The Rikkers' dance was in the ballroom of the Minnekada Hotel.  The
Rikkers' gold, ill-gotten, tainted, had taken the form of a forest
of palms, vines and flowers.  The two orchestras moaned in pergolas
lit with fireflies, and many-colored spotlights swept the floor,
touching a buffet where dark bottles gleamed.  The receiving line
was still in action when Forrest's party came in, and Forrest
grinned ironically at the prospect of taking Chauncey Rikker by the
hand.  But at the sight of Alida, her look that at last fell
frankly on him, he forgot everything else.

"Your brother was kind enough to invite me," he said.

"Oh, yes," she was polite, but vague; not at all overwhelmed by his
presence.  As he waited to speak to her parents, he started, seeing
his sister in a group of dancers.  Then, one after another, he
identified people he knew: it might have been any one of the
Christmas dances; all the younger crowd were there.  He discovered
abruptly that he and Alida were alone; the receiving line had
broken up.  Alida glanced at him questioningly and with a certain

So he danced out on the floor with her, his head high, but slightly
spinning.  Of all things in the world, he had least expected to
lead off the Chauncey Rikkers' ball.


Next morning his first realization was that he had kissed her; his
second was a feeling of profound shame for his conduct of the
evening.  Lord help him, he had been the life of the party; he had
helped to run the cotillion.  From the moment when he danced out on
the floor, coolly meeting the surprised and interested glances of
his friends, a mood of desperation had come over him.  He rushed
Alida Rikker, until a friend asked him what Jane was going to say.
"What business is it of Jane's?" he demanded impatiently.  "We're
not engaged."  But he was impelled to approach his sister and ask
her if he looked all right.

"Apparently," Eleanor answered, "but when in doubt, don't take any

So he hadn't.  Exteriorly he remained correct, but his libido was
in a state of wild extroversion.  He sat with Alida Rikker and told
her he had loved her for months.

"Every night I thought of you just before you went to sleep," his
voice trembled with insincerity, "I was afraid to meet you or speak
to you.  Sometimes I'd see you in the distance moving along like a
golden chariot, and the world would be good to live in."

After twenty minutes of this eloquence, Alida began to feel
exceedingly attractive.  She was tired and rather happy, and
eventually she said:

"All right, you can kiss me if you want to, but it won't mean
anything.  I'm just not in that mood."

But Forrest had moods enough for both; he kissed her as if they
stood together at the altar.  A little later he had thanked Mrs.
Rikker with deep emotion for the best time he had ever had in his

It was noon, and as he groped his way upright in bed, Eleanor came
in in her dressing gown.

"How are you?" she asked.


"How about what you told me coming back in the car?  Do you
actually want to marry Alida Rikker?"

"Not this morning."

"That's all right then.  Now, look: the family are furious."

"Why?" he asked with some redundancy.

"Both you and I being there.  Father heard that you led the
cotillion.  My explanation was that my dinner party went, and so I
had to go; but then you went too!"

Forrest dressed and went down to Sunday dinner.  Over the table
hovered an atmosphere of patient, puzzled, unworldly disappointment.
Finally Forrest launched into it:

"Well, we went to Al Capone's party and had a fine time."

"So I've heard," said Pierce Winslow dryly.  Mrs. Winslow said

"Everybody was there--the Kayes, the Schwanes, the Martins and the
Blacks.  From now on, the Rikkers are pillars of society.  Every
house is open to them."

"Not this house," said his mother.  "They won't come into this
house."  And after a moment:  "Aren't you going to eat anything,

"No, thanks.  I mean, yes, I am eating."  He looked cautiously at
his plate.  "The girl is very nice.  There isn't a girl in town
with better manners or more stuff.  If things were like they were
before the war, I'd say--"

He couldn't think exactly what it was he would have said; all he
knew was that he was now on an entirely different road from his

"This city was scarcely more than a village before the war," said
old Mrs. Forrest.

"Forrest means the World War, granny," said Eleanor.

"Some things don't change," said Pierce Winslow.  Both he and
Forrest thought of the Kennemore Club matter and, feeling guilty,
the older man lost his temper:

"When people start going to parties given by a convicted criminal,
there's something serious the matter with them."

"We won't discuss it any more at table," said Mrs. Winslow hastily.

About four, Forrest called a number on the telephone in his room.
He had known for some time that he was going to call a number.

"Is Miss Rikker at home? . . .  Oh, hello.  This is Forrest

"How are you?"

"Terrible.  It was a good party."

"Wasn't it?"

"Too good.  What are you doing?"

"Entertaining two awful hangovers."

"Will you entertain me too?"

"I certainly will.  Come on over."

The two young men could only groan and play sentimental music on
the phonograph, but presently they departed; the fire leaped up,
day went out behind the windows, and Forrest had rum in his tea.

"So we met at last," he said.

"The delay was all yours."

"Damn prejudice," he said.  "This is a conservative city, and your
father being in this trouble--"

"I can't discuss my father with you."

"Excuse me.  I only wanted to say that I've felt like a fool lately
for not knowing you.  For cheating myself out of the pleasure of
knowing you for a silly prejudice," he blundered on.  "So I decided
to follow my own instincts."

She stood up suddenly.  "Good-by, Mr. Winslow."

"What?  Why?"

"Because it's absurd for you to come here as if you were doing me a
favor.  And after accepting our hospitality, to remind me of my
father's troubles is simply bad manners."

He was on his feet, terribly upset.  "That isn't what I meant.  I
said I had felt that way, and I despised myself for it.  Please
don't be sore."

"Then don't be condescending."  She sat back in her chair.  Her
mother came in, stayed only a moment, and threw Forrest a glance of
resentment and suspicion as she left.  But her passage through had
brought them together, and they talked frankly for a long time.

"I ought to be upstairs dressing."

"I ought to have gone an hour ago, and I can't."

"Neither can I."

With the admission they had traveled far.  At the door he kissed
her unreluctant lips and walked home, throwing futile buckets of
reason on the wild fire.

Less than two weeks later it happened.  In a car parked in a
blizzard he poured out his worship, and she lay on his chest,
sighing, "Oh, me too--me too."

Already Forrest's family knew where he went in the evenings; there
was a frightened coolness, and one morning his mother said:

"Son, you don't want to throw yourself away on some girl that isn't
up to you.  I thought you were interested in Jane Drake."

"Don't bring that up.  I'm not going to talk about it."

But it was only a postponement.  Meanwhile the days of this
February were white and magical, the nights were starry and
crystalline.  The town lay under a cold glory; the smell of her
furs was incense, her bright cheeks were flames upon a northern
altar.  An ecstatic pantheism for his land and its weather welled
up in him.  She had brought him finally back to it; he would live
here always.

"I want you so much that nothing can stand in the way of that," he
said to Alida.  "But I owe my parents a debt that I can't explain
to you.  They did more than spend money on me; they tried to give
me something more intangible--something that their parents had
given them and that they thought was worth handing on.  Evidently
it didn't take with me, but I've got to make this as easy as
possible for them."  He saw by her face that he had hurt her.

"Oh, it frightens me when you talk like that," she said.  "Are you
going to reproach me later?  It would be awful.  You'll have to get
it out of your head that you're doing anything wrong.  My standards
are as high as yours, and I can't start out with my father's sins
on my shoulders."  She thought for a moment.  "You'll never be able
to reconcile it all like a children's story.  You've got to choose.
Probably you'll have to hurt either your family or hurt me."

A fortnight later the storm broke at the Winslow house.  Pierce
Winslow came home in a quiet rage and had a session behind closed
doors with his wife.  Afterward she knocked at Forrest's door.

"Your father had a very embarrassing experience today.  Chauncey
Rikker came up to him in the Downtown Club and began talking about
you as if you were on terms of some understanding with his
daughter.  Your father walked away, but we've got to know.  Are you
serious about Miss Rikker?"

"I want to marry her," he said.

"Oh, Forrest!"

She talked for a long time, recapitulating, as if it were a matter
of centuries, the eighty years that his family had been identified
with the city; when she passed from this to the story of his
father's health, Forrest interrupted:

"That's all so irrelevant, mother.  If there was anything against
Alida personally, what you say would have some weight, but there

"She's overdressed; she runs around with everybody--"

"She isn't a bit different from Eleanor.  She's absolutely a lady
in every sense.  I feel like a fool even discussing her like this.
You're just afraid it'll connect you in some way with the Rikkers."

"I'm not afraid of that," said his mother, annoyed.  "Nothing would
ever do that.  But I'm afraid that it'll separate you from
everything worth while, everybody that loves you.  It isn't fair
for you to upset our lives, let us in for disgraceful gossip--"

"I'm to give up the girl I love because you're afraid of a little

The controversy was resumed next day, with Pierce Winslow debating.
His argument was that he was born in old Kentucky, that he had
always felt uneasy at having begotten a son upon a pioneer
Minnesota family, and that this was what he might have expected.
Forrest felt that his parents' attitude was trivial and
disingenuous.  Only when he was out of the house, acting against
their wishes, did he feel any compunction.  But always he felt that
something precious was being frayed away--his youthful companionship
with his father and his love and trust for his mother.  Hour by hour
he saw the past being irreparably spoiled, and save when he was with
Alida, he was deeply unhappy.

One spring day when the situation had become unendurable, with half
the family meals taken in silence, Forrest's great-grandmother
stopped him on the stair landing and put her hand on his arm.

"Has this girl really a good character?" she asked, her fine,
clear, old eyes resting on his.

"Of course she has, gramma."

"Then marry her."

"Why do you say that?" Forrest asked curiously.

"It would stop all this nonsense and we could have some peace.  And
I've been thinking I'd like to be a great-great-grandmother before
I die."

Her frank selfishness appealed to him more than the righteousness
of the others.  That night he and Alida decided to be married the
first of June, and telephoned the announcement to the papers.

Now the storm broke in earnest.  Crest Avenue rang with gossip--how
Mrs. Rikker had called on Mrs. Winslow, who was not at home.  How
Forrest had gone to live in the University Club.  How Chauncey
Rikker and Pierce Winslow had had words in the Downtown Club.

It was true that Forrest had gone to the University Club.  On a May
night, with summer sounds already gathered on the window screens,
he packed his trunk and his suitcases in the room where he had
lived as a boy.  His throat contracted and he smeared his face with
his dusty hand as he took a row of golf cups off the mantelpiece,
and he choked to himself:  "If they won't take Alida, then they're
not my family any more."

As he finished packing, his mother came in.

"You're not really leaving."  Her voice was stricken.

"I'm moving to the University Club."

"That's so unnecessary.  No one bothers you here.  You do what you

"I can't bring Alida here."


"Hell with father!" he said wildly.

She sat down on the bed beside him.  "Stay here, Forrest.  I
promise not to argue with you any more.  But stay here."

"I can't."

"I can't have you go!" she wailed.  "It seems as if we're driving
you out, and we're not!"

"You mean it looks as though you were driving me out."

"I don't mean that."

"Yes, you do.  And I want to say that I don't think you and father
really care a hang about Chauncey Rikker's moral character."

"That's not true, Forrest.  I hate people that behave badly and
break the laws.  My own father would never have let Chauncey

"I'm not talking about your father.  But neither you nor my father
care a bit what Chauncey Rikker did.  I bet you don't even know
what it was."

"Of course I know.  He stole some money and went abroad, and when
he came back they put him in prison."

"They put him in prison for contempt of court."

"Now you're defending him, Forrest."

"I'm not!  I hate his guts; undoubtedly he's a crook.  But I tell
you it was a shock to me to find that father didn't have any
principles.  He and his friends sit around the Downtown Club and
pan Chauncey Rikker, but when it comes to keeping him out of a
club, they develop weak spines."

"That was a small thing."

"No, it wasn't.  None of the men of father's age have any
principles.  I don't know why.  I'm willing to make an allowance
for an honest conviction, but I'm not going to be booed by somebody
that hasn't got any principles and simply pretends to have."

His mother sat helplessly, knowing that what he said was true.  She
and her husband and all their friends had no principles.  They were
good or bad according to their natures; often they struck attitudes
remembered from the past, but they were never sure as her father or
her grandfather had been sure.  Confusedly she supposed it was
something about religion.  But how could you get principles just by
wishing for them?

The maid announced the arrival of a taxi.

"Send up Olsen for my baggage," said Forrest; then to his mother,
"I'm not taking the coupé; I left the keys.  I'm just taking my
clothes.  I suppose father will let me keep my job down town."

"Forrest, don't talk that way.  Do you think your father would take
your living away from you, no matter what you did?"

"Such things have happened."

"You're hard and difficult," she wept.  "Please stay here a little
longer, and perhaps things will be better and father will get a
little more reconciled.  Oh, stay, stay!  I'll talk to father
again.  I'll do my best to fix things."

"Will you let me bring Alida here?"

"Not now.  Don't ask me that.  I couldn't bear--"

"All right," he said grimly.

Olsen came in for the bags.  Crying and holding on to his coat
sleeve, his mother went with him to the front door.

"Won't you say good-by to father?"

"Why?  I'll see him tomorrow in the office."

"Forrest, I was thinking, why don't you go to a hotel instead of
the University Club?"

"Why, I thought I'd be more comfortable--"  Suddenly he realized
that his presence would be less conspicuous at a hotel.  Shutting
up his bitterness inside him, he kissed his mother roughly and went
to the cab.

Unexpectedly, it stopped by the corner lamp-post at a hail from the
sidewalk, and the May twilight yielded up Alida, miserable and

"What is it?" he demanded.

"I had to come," she said.  "Stop the car.  I've been thinking of
you leaving your house on account of me, and how you loved your
family--the way I'd like to love mine--and I thought how terrible
it was to spoil all that.  Listen, Forrest!  Wait!  I want you to
go back.  Yes, I do.  We can wait.  We haven't any right to cause
all this pain.  We're young.  I'll go away for a while, and then
we'll see."

He pulled her toward him by her shoulders.

"You've got more principles than the whole bunch of them," he said.
"Oh, my girl, you love me and, gosh, it's good that you do!"


It was to be a house wedding, Forrest and Alida having vetoed the
Rikkers' idea that it was to be a sort of public revenge.  Only a
few intimate friends were invited.

During the week before the wedding, Forrest deduced from a series
of irresolute and ambiguous telephone calls that his mother wanted
to attend the ceremony, if possible.  Sometimes he hoped
passionately she would; at others it seemed unimportant.

The wedding was to be at seven.  At five o'clock Pierce Winslow was
walking up and down the two interconnecting sitting rooms of his

"This evening," he murmured, "my only son is being married to the
daughter of a swindler."

He spoke aloud so that he could listen to the words, but they had
been evoked so often in the past few months that their strength was
gone and they died thinly upon the air.

He went to the foot of the stairs and called:  "Charlotte!"  No
answer.  He called again, and then went into the dining room, where
the maid was setting the table.

"Is Mrs. Winslow out?"

"I haven't seen her come in, Mr. Winslow."

Back in the sitting room he resumed his walking; unconsciously he
was walking like his father, the judge, dead thirty years ago; he
was parading his dead father up and down the room.

"You can't bring that woman into this house to meet your mother.
Bad blood is bad blood."

The house seemed unusually quiet.  He went upstairs and looked into
his wife's room, but she was not there; old Mrs. Forrest was
slightly indisposed; Eleanor, he knew, was at the wedding.

He felt genuinely sorry for himself as he went downstairs again.
He knew his role--the usual evening routine carried out in complete
obliviousness of the wedding--but he needed support, people begging
him to relent, or else deferring to his wounded sensibilities.
This isolation was different; it was almost the first isolation he
had ever felt, and like all men who are fundamentally of the group,
of the herd, he was incapable of taking a strong stand with the
inevitable loneliness that it implied.  He could only gravitate
toward those who did.

"What have I done to deserve this?" he demanded of the standing ash
tray.  "What have I failed to do for my son that lay within my

The maid came in.  "Mrs. Winslow told Hilda she wouldn't be here
for dinner, and Hilda didn't tell me."

The shameful business was complete.  His wife had weakened, leaving
him absolutely alone.  For a moment he expected to be furiously
angry with her, but he wasn't; he had used up his anger exhibiting
it to others.  Nor did it make him feel more obstinate, more
determined; it merely made him feel silly.

"That's it.  I'll be the goat.  Forrest will always hold it against
me, and Chauncey Rikker will be laughing up his sleeve."

He walked up and down furiously.

"So I'm left holding the bag.  They'll say I'm an old grouch and
drop me out of the picture entirely.  They've licked me.  I suppose
I might as well be graceful about it."  He looked down in horror at
the hat he held in his hand.  "I can't--I can't bring myself to do
it, but I must.  After all, he's my only son.  I couldn't bear that
he should hate me.  He's determined to marry her, so I might as
well put a good face on the matter."

In sudden alarm he looked at his watch, but there was still time.
After all, it was a large gesture he was making, sacrificing his
principles in this manner.  People would never know what it cost

An hour later, old Mrs. Forrest woke up from her doze and rang for
her maid.

"Where's Mrs. Winslow?"

"She's not in for dinner.  Everybody's out."

The old lady remembered.

"Oh, yes, they've gone over to get married.  Give me my glasses and
the telephone book. . . .  Now, I wonder how you spell Capone."

"Rikker, Mrs. Forrest."

In a few minutes she had the number.  "This is Mrs. Hugh Forrest,"
she said firmly.  "I want to speak to young Mrs. Forrest
Winslow. . . .  No, not to Miss Rikker; to Mrs. Forrest Winslow."
As there was as yet no such person, this was impossible.  "Then I
will call after the ceremony," said the old lady.

When she called again, in an hour, the bride came to the phone.

"This is Forrest's great-grandmother.  I called up to wish you
every happiness and to ask you to come and see me when you get back
from your trip if I'm still alive."

"You're very sweet to call, Mrs. Forrest."

"Take good care of Forrest, and don't let him get to be a ninny
like his father and mother.  God bless you."

"Thank you."

"All right.  Good-by, Miss Capo--Good-by, my dear."

Having done her whole duty, Mrs. Forrest hung up the receiver.

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