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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Saturday Evening Post (4 July 1931)

It was the first day warm enough to eat outdoors in the Bois de
Boulogne, while chestnut blossoms slanted down across the tables
and dropped impudently into the butter and the wine.  Julia Ross
ate a few with her bread and listened to the big goldfish rippling
in the pool and the sparrows whirring about an abandoned table.
You could see everybody again--the waiters with their professional
faces, the watchful Frenchwomen all heels and eyes, Phil Hoffman
opposite her with his heart balanced on his fork, and the
extraordinarily handsome man just coming out on the terrace.

     --the purple noon's transparent might.
     The breath of the moist air is light
     Around each unexpanded bud--

Julia trembled discreetly; she controlled herself; she didn't
spring up and call, "Yi-yi-yi-yi!  Isn't this grand?" and push the
maître d'hôtel into the lily pond.  She sat there, a well-behaved
woman of twenty-one, and discreetly trembled.

Phil was rising, napkin in hand.  "Hi there, Dick!"

"Hi, Phil!"

It was the handsome man; Phil took a few steps forward and they
talked apart from the table.

"--seen Carter and Kitty in Spain--"

"--poured on to the Bremen--"

"--so I was going to--"

The man went on, following the head waiter, and Phil sat down.

"Who is that?" she demanded.

"A friend of mine--Dick Ragland."

"He's without doubt the handsomest man I ever saw in my life."

"Yes, he's handsome," he agreed without enthusiasm.

"Handsome!  He's an archangel, he's a mountain lion, he's something
to eat.  Just why didn't you introduce him?"

"Because he's got the worst reputation of any American in Paris."

"Nonsense; he must be maligned.  It's all a dirty frame-up--a lot
of jealous husbands whose wives got one look at him.  Why, that
man's never done anything in his life except lead cavalry charges
and save children from drowning."

"The fact remains he's not received anywhere--not for one reason
but for a thousand."

"What reasons?"

"Everything.  Drink, women, jails, scandals, killed somebody with
an automobile, lazy, worthless--"

"I don't believe a word of it," said Julia firmly.  "I bet he's
tremendously attractive.  And you spoke to him as if you thought so

"Yes," he said reluctantly, "like so many alcholics, he has a
certain charm.  If he'd only make his messes off by himself
somewhere--except right in people's laps.  Just when somebody's
taken him up and is making a big fuss over him, he pours the soup
down his hostess' back, kisses the serving maid and passes out in
the dog kennel.  But he's done it too often.  He's run through
about everybody, until there's no one left."

"There's me," said Julia.

There was Julia, who was a little too good for anybody and
sometimes regretted that she had been quite so well endowed.
Anything added to beauty has to be paid for--that is to say, the
qualities that pass as substitutes can be liabilities when added to
beauty itself.  Julia's brilliant hazel glance was enough, without
the questioning light of intelligence that flickered in it; her
irrepressible sense of the ridiculous detracted from the gentle
relief of her mouth, and the loveliness of her figure might have
been more obvious if she had slouched and postured rather than sat
and stood very straight, after the discipline of a strict father.

Equally perfect young men had several times appeared bearing gifts,
but generally with the air of being already complete, of having no
space for development.  On the other hand, she found that men of
larger scale had sharp corners and edges in youth, and she was a
little too young herself to like that.  There was, for instance,
this scornful young egotist, Phil Hoffman, opposite her, who was
obviously going to be a brilliant lawyer and who had practically
followed her to Paris.  She liked him as well as anyone she knew,
but he had at present all the overbearance of the son of a chief of

"Tonight I'm going to London, and Wednesday I sail," he said.  "And
you'll be in Europe all summer, with somebody new chewing on your
ear every few weeks."

"When you've been called for a lot of remarks like that you'll
begin to edge into the picture," Julia remarked.  "Just to square
yourself, I want you to introduce that man Ragland."

"My last few hours!" he complained.

"But I've given you three whole days on the chance you'd work out a
better approach.  Be a little civilized and ask him to have some

As Mr. Dick Ragland joined them, Julia drew a little breath of
pleasure.  He was a fine figure of a man, in coloring both tan and
blond, with a peculiar luminosity to his face.  His voice was
quietly intense; it seemed always to tremble a little with a sort
of gay despair; the way he looked at Julia made her feel
attractive.  For half an hour, as their sentences floated
pleasantly among the scent of violets and snowdrops, forget-me-nots
and pansies, her interest in him grew.  She was even glad when Phil

"I've just thought about my English visa.  I'll have to leave you
two incipient love birds together against my better judgment.  Will
you meet me at the Gare St. Lazare at five and see me off?"

He looked at Julia hoping she'd say, "I'll go along with you now."
She knew very well she had no business being alone with this man,
but he made her laugh, and she hadn't laughed much lately, so she
said:  "I'll stay a few minutes; it's so nice and springy here."

When Phil was gone, Dick Ragland suggested a "fine" champagne.

"I hear you have a terrible reputation?" she said impulsively.

"Awful.  I'm not even invited out any more.  Do you want me to slip
on my false mustache?"

"It's so odd," she pursued.  "Don't you cut yourself off from all
nourishment?  Do you know that Phil felt he had to warn me about
you before he introduced you?  And I might very well have told him
not to."

"Why didn't you?"

"I thought you seemed so attractive and it was such a pity."

His face grew bland; Julia saw that the remark had been made so
often that it no longer reached him.

"It's none of my business," she said quickly.  She did not realize
that his being a sort of outcast added to his attraction for her--
not the dissipation itself, for never having seen it, it was merely
an abstraction--but its result in making him so alone.  Something
atavistic in her went out to the stranger to the tribe, a being
from a world with different habits from hers, who promised the
unexpected--promised adventure.

"I'll tell you something else," he said suddenly.  "I'm going
permanently on the wagon on June fifth, my twenty-eighth birthday.
I don't have fun drinking any more.  Evidently I'm not one of the
few people who can use liquor."

"You sure you can go on the wagon?"

"I always do what I say I'll do.  Also I'm going back to New York
and go to work."

"I'm really surprised how glad I am."  This was rash, but she let
it stand.

"Have another 'fine'?" Dick suggested.  "Then you'll be gladder

"Will you go on this way right up to your birthday?"

"Probably.  On my birthday I'll be on the Olympic in mid-ocean."

"I'll be on that boat too!" she exclaimed.

"You can watch the quick change; I'll do it for the ship's

The tables were being cleared off.  Julia knew she should go now,
but she couldn't bear to leave him sitting with that unhappy look
under his smile.  She felt, maternally, that she ought to say
something to help him keep his resolution.

"Tell me why you drink so much.  Probably some obscure reason you
don't know yourself."

"Oh, I know pretty well how it began."

He told her as another hour waned.  He had gone to the war at
seventeen and, when he came back, life as a Princeton freshman with
a little black cap was somewhat tame.  So he went up to Boston Tech
and then abroad to the Beaux Arts; it was there that something
happened to him.

"About the time I came into some money I found that with a few
drinks I got expansive and somehow had the ability to please
people, and the idea turned my head.  Then I began to take a whole
lot of drinks to keep going and have everybody think I was
wonderful.  Well, I got plastered a lot and quarreled with most of
my friends, and then I met a wild bunch and for a while I was
expansive with them.  But I was inclined to get superior and
suddenly think 'What am I doing with this bunch?'  They didn't like
that much.  And when a taxi that I was in killed a man, I was sued.
It was just a graft, but it got in the papers, and after I was
released the impression remained that I'd killed him.  So all I've
got to show for the last five years is a reputation that makes
mothers rush their daughters away if I'm at the same hotel."

An impatient waiter was hovering near and she looked at her watch.

"Gosh, we're to see Phil off at five.  We've been here all the

As they hurried to the Gare St. Lazare, he asked:  "Will you let me
see you again; or do you think you'd better not?"

She returned his long look.  There was no sign of dissipation in
his face, in his warm cheeks, in his erect carriage.

"I'm always fine at lunch," he added, like an invalid.

"I'm not worried," she laughed.  "Take me to lunch day after

They hurried up the steps of the Gare St. Lazare, only to see the
last carriage of the Golden Arrow disappearing toward the Channel.
Julia was remorseful, because Phil had come so far.

As a sort of atonement, she went to the apartment where she lived
with her aunt and tried to write a letter to him, but Dick Ragland
intruded himself into her thoughts.  By morning the effect of his
good looks had faded a little; she was inclined to write him a note
that she couldn't see him.  Still, he had made her a simple appeal
and she had brought it all on herself.  She waited for him at half-
past twelve on the appointed day.

Julia had said nothing to her aunt, who had company for luncheon
and might mention his name--strange to go out with a man whose name
you couldn't mention.  He was late and she waited in the hall,
listening to the echolalia of chatter from the luncheon party in
the dining room.  At one she answered the bell.

There in the outer hall stood a man whom she thought she had never
seen before.  His face was dead white and erratically shaven, his
soft hat was crushed bunlike on his head, his shirt collar was
dirty, and all except the band of his tie was out of sight.  But at
the moment when she recognized the figure as Dick Ragland she
perceived a change which dwarfed the others into nothing; it was in
his expression.  His whole face was one prolonged sneer--the lids
held with difficulty from covering the fixed eyes, the drooping
mouth drawn up over the upper teeth, the chin wabbling like a made-
over chin in which the paraffin had run--it was a face that both
expressed and inspired disgust.

"H'lo," he muttered.

For a minute she drew back from him; then, at a sudden silence from
the dining room that gave on the hall, inspired by the silence in
the hall itself, she half pushed him over the threshold, stepped
out herself and closed the door behind them.

"Oh-h-h!" she said in a single, shocked breath.

"Haven't been home since yest'day.  Got involve' on a party at--"

With repugnance, she turned him around by his arm and stumbled with
him down the apartment stairs, passing the concierge's wife, who
peered out at them curiously from her glass room.  Then they came
out into the bright sunshine of the Rue Guynemer.

Against the spring freshness of the Luxembourg Gardens opposite, he
was even more grotesque.  He frightened her; she looked desperately
up and down the street for a taxi, but one turning the corner of
the Rue de Vaugirard disregarded her signal.

"Where'll we go lunch?" he asked.

"You're in no shape to go to lunch.  Don't you realize?  You've got
to go home and sleep."

"I'm all right.  I get a drink I'll be fine."

A passing cab slowed up at her gesture.

"You go home and go to sleep.  You're not fit to go anywhere."

As he focused his eyes on her, realizing her suddenly as something
fresh, something new and lovely, something alien to the smoky and
turbulent world where he had spent his recent hours, a faint
current of reason flowed through him.  She saw his mouth twist with
vague awe, saw him make a vague attempt to stand up straight.  The
taxi yawned.

"Maybe you're right.  Very sorry."

"What's your address?"

He gave it and then tumbled into a corner, his face still
struggling toward reality.  Julia closed the door.

When the cab had driven off, she hurried across the street and into
the Luxembourg Gardens as if someone were after her.


Quite by accident, she answered when he telephoned at seven that
night.  His voice was strained and shaking:

"I suppose there's not much use apologizing for this morning.  I
didn't know what I was doing, but that's no excuse.  But if you
could let me see you for a while somewhere tomorrow--just for a
minute--I'd like the chance of telling you in person how terribly

"I'm busy tomorrow."

"Well, Friday then, or any day."

"I'm sorry, I'm very busy this week."

"You mean you don't ever want to see me again?"

"Mr. Ragland, I hardly see the use of going any further with this.
Really, that thing this morning was a little too much.  I'm very
sorry.  I hope you feel better.  Good-by."

She put him entirely out of her mind.  She had not even associated
his reputation with such a spectacle--a heavy drinker was someone
who sat up late and drank champagne and maybe in the small hours
rode home singing.  This spectacle at high noon was something else
again.  Julia was through.

Meanwhile there were other men with whom she lunched at Ciro's and
danced in the Bois.  There was a reproachful letter from Phil
Hoffman in America.  She liked Phil better for having been so right
about this.  A fortnight passed and she would have forgotten Dick
Ragland, had she not heard his name mentioned with scorn in several
conversations.  Evidently he had done such things before.

Then, a week before she was due to sail, she ran into him in the
booking department of the White Star Line.  He was as handsome--she
could hardly believe her eyes.  He leaned with an elbow on the
desk, his fine figure erect, his yellow gloves as stainless as his
clear, shining eyes.  His strong, gay personality had affected the
clerk who served him with fascinated deference; the stenographers
behind looked up for a minute and exchanged a glance.  Then he saw
Julia; she nodded, and with a quick, wincing change of expression
he raised his hat.

They were together by the desk a long time and the silence was

"Isn't this a nuisance?" she said.

"Yes," he said jerkily, and then:  "You going by the Olympic?"

"Oh, yes."

"I thought you might have changed."

"Of course not," she said coldly.

"I thought of changing; in fact, I was here to ask about it."

"That's absurd."

"You don't hate the sight of me?  So it'll make you seasick when we
pass each other on the deck?"

She smiled.  He seized his advantage:

"I've improved somewhat since we last met."

"Don't talk about that."

"Well then, you have improved.  You've got the loveliest costume on
I ever saw."

This was presumptuous, but she felt herself shimmering a little at
the compliment.

"You wouldn't consider a cup of coffee with me at the café next
door, just to recover from this ordeal?"

How weak of her to talk to him like this, to let him make advances.
It was like being under the fascination of a snake.

"I'm afraid I can't."  Something terribly timid and vulnerable came
into his face, twisting a little sinew in her heart.  "Well, all
right," she shocked herself by saying.

Sitting at the sidewalk table in the sunlight, there was nothing to
remind her of that awful day two weeks ago.  Jekyll and Hyde.  He
was courteous, he was charming, he was amusing.  He made her feel,
oh, so attractive!  He presumed on nothing.

"Have you stopped drinking?" she asked.

"Not till the fifth."


"Not until I said I'd stop.  Then I'll stop."

When Julia rose to go, she shook her head at his suggestion of a
further meeting.

"I'll see you on the boat.  After your twenty-eighth birthday."

"All right; one more thing:  It fits in with the high price of
crime that I did something inexcusable to the one girl I've ever
been in love with in my life."

She saw him the first day on board, and then her heart sank into
her shoes as she realized at last how much she wanted him.  No
matter what his past was, no matter what he had done.  Which was
not to say that she would ever let him know, but only that he moved
her chemically more than anyone she had ever met, that all other
men seemed pale beside him.

He was popular on the boat; she heard that he was giving a party on
the night of his twenty-eighth birthday.  Julia was not invited;
when they met they spoke pleasantly, nothing more.

It was the day after the fifth that she found him stretched in his
deck chair looking wan and white.  There were wrinkles on his fine
brow and around his eyes, and his hand, as he reached out for a cup
of bouillon, was trembling.  He was still there in the late
afternoon, visibly suffering, visibly miserable.  After three times
around, Julia was irresistibly impelled to speak to him:

"Has the new era begun?"

He made a feeble effort to rise, but she motioned him not to and
sat on the next chair.

"You look tired."

"I'm just a little nervous.  This is the first day in five years
that I haven't had a drink."

"It'll be better soon."

"I know," he said grimly.

"Don't weaken."

"I won't."

"Can't I help you in any way?  Would you like a bromide?"

"I can't stand bromides," he said almost crossly.  "No, thanks, I

Julia stood up:  "I know you feel better alone.  Things will be
brighter tomorrow."

"Don't go, if you can stand me."

Julia sat down again.

"Sing me a song--can you sing?"

"What kind of a song?"

"Something sad--some sort of blues."

She sang him Libby Holman's "This is how the story ends," in a low,
soft voice.

"That's good.  Now sing another.  Or sing that again."

"All right.  If you like, I'll sing to you all afternoon."


The second day in New York he called her on the phone.  "I've
missed you so," he said.  "Have you missed me?"

"I'm afraid I have," she said reluctantly.


"I've missed you a lot.  Are you better?"

"I'm all right now.  I'm still just a little nervous, but I'm
starting work tomorrow.  When can I see you?"

"When you want."

"This evening then.  And look--say that again."


"That you're afraid you have missed me."

"I'm afraid that I have," Julia said obediently.

"Missed me," he added.

"I'm afraid I have missed you."

"All right.  It sounds like a song when you say it."

"Good-by, Dick."

"Good-by, Julia dear."

She stayed in New York two months instead of the fortnight she had
intended, because he would not let her go.  Work took the place of
drink in the daytime, but afterward he must see Julia.

Sometimes she was jealous of his work when he telephoned that he
was too tired to go out after the theater.  Lacking drink, night
life was less than nothing to him--something quite spoiled and well
lost.  For Julia, who never drank, it was a stimulus in itself--the
music and the parade of dresses and the handsome couple they made
dancing together.  At first they saw Phil Hoffman once in a while;
Julia considered that he took the matter rather badly; then they
didn't see him any more.

A few unpleasant incidents occurred.  An old schoolmate, Esther
Cary, came to her to ask if she knew of Dick Ragland's reputation.
Instead of growing angry, Julia invited her to meet Dick and was
delighted with the ease with which Esther's convictions were
changed.  There were other, small, annoying episodes, but Dick's
misdemeanors had, fortunately, been confined to Paris and assumed
here a far-away unreality.  They loved each other deeply now--the
memory of that morning slowly being effaced from Julia's
imagination--but she wanted to be sure.

"After six months, if everything goes along like this, we'll
announce our engagement.  After another six months we'll be

"Such a long time," he mourned.

"But there were five years before that," Julia answered.  "I trust
you with my heart and with my mind, but something else says wait.
Remember, I'm also deciding for my children."

Those five years--oh, so lost and gone.

In August, Julia went to California for two months to see her
family.  She wanted to know how Dick would get along alone.  They
wrote every day; his letters were by turns cheerful, depressed,
weary and hopeful.  His work was going better.  As things came back
to him, his uncle had begun really to believe in him, but all the
time he missed his Julia so.  It was when an occasional note of
despair began to appear that she cut her visit short by a week and
came East to New York.

"Oh, thank God you're here!" he cried as they linked arms and
walked out of the Grand Central station.  "It's been so hard.  Half
a dozen times lately I've wanted to go on a bust and I had to think
of you, and you were so far away."

"Darling--darling, you're so tired and pale.  You're working too

"No, only that life is so bleak alone.  When I go to bed my mind
churns on and on.  Can't we get married sooner?"

"I don't know; we'll see.  You've got your Julia near you now, and
nothing matters."

After a week, Dick's depression lifted.  When he was sad, Julia
made him her baby, holding his handsome head against her breast,
but she liked it best when he was confident and could cheer her up,
making her laugh and feel taken care of and secure.  She had rented
an apartment with another girl and she took courses in biology and
domestic science in Columbia.  When deep fall came, they went to
football games and the new shows together, and walked through the
first snow in Central Park, and several times a week spent long
evenings together in front of her fire.  But time was going by and
they were both impatient.  Just before Christmas, an unfamiliar
visitor--Phil Hoffman--presented himself at her door.  It was the
first time in many months.  New York, with its quality of many
independent ladders set side by side, is unkind to even the
meetings of close friends; so, in the case of strained relations,
meetings are easy to avoid.

And they were strange to each other.  Since his expressed
skepticism of Dick, he was automatically her enemy; on another
count, she saw that he had improved, some of the hard angles were
worn off; he was now an assistant district attorney, moving around
with increasing confidence through his profession.

"So you're going to marry Dick?" he said.  "When?"

"Soon now.  When mother comes East."

He shook his head emphatically.  "Julia, don't marry Dick.  This
isn't jealousy--I know when I am licked--but it seems awful for a
lovely girl like you to take a blind dive into a lake full of
rocks.  What makes you think that people change their courses?
Sometimes they dry up or even flow into a parallel channel, but
I've never known anybody to change."

"Dick's changed."

"Maybe so.  But isn't that an enormous 'maybe'?  If he was
unattractive and you liked him, I'd say go ahead with it.  Maybe
I'm all wrong, but it's so darn obvious that what fascinates you is
that handsome pan of his and those attractive manners."

"You don't know him," Julia answered loyally.  "He's different with
me.  You don't know how gentle he is, and responsive.  Aren't you
being rather small and mean?"

"Hm."  Phil thought for a moment.  "I want to see you again in a
few days.  Or perhaps I'll speak to Dick."

"You let Dick alone," she cried.  "He has enough to worry him
without your nagging him.  If you were his friend you'd try to help
him instead of coming to me behind his back."

"I'm your friend first."

"Dick and I are one person now."

But three days later Dick came to see her at an hour when he would
usually have been at the office.

"I'm here under compulsion," he said lightly, "under threat of
exposure by Phil Hoffman."

Her heart dropping like a plummet.  "Has he given up?" she thought.
"Is he drinking again?"

"It's about a girl.  You introduced me to her last summer and told
me to be very nice to her--Esther Cary."

Now her heart was beating slowly.

"After you went to California I was lonesome and I ran into her.
She'd liked me that day, and for a while we saw quite a bit of each
other.  Then you came back and I broke it off.  It was a little
difficult; I hadn't realized that she was so interested."

"I see."  Her voice was starved and aghast.

"Try and understand.  Those terribly lonely evenings.  I think if
it hadn't been for Esther, I'd have fallen off the wagon.  I never
loved her--I never loved anybody but you--but I had to see somebody
who liked me."

He put his arm around her, but she felt cold all over and he drew

"Then any woman would have done," Julia said slowly.  "It didn't
matter who."

"No!" he cried.

"I stayed away so long to let you stand on your own feet and get
back your self-respect by yourself."

"I only love you, Julia."

"But any woman can help you.  So you don't really need me, do you?"

His face wore that vulnerable look that Julia had seen several
times before; she sat on the arm of his chair and ran her hand over
his cheek.

"Then what do you bring me?" she demanded.  "I thought that there'd
be the accumulated strength of having beaten your weakness.  What
do you bring me now?"

"Everything I have."

She shook her head.  "Nothing.  Just your good looks--and the head
waiter at dinner last night had that."

They talked for two days and decided nothing.  Sometimes she would
pull him close and reach up to his lips that she loved so well, but
her arms seemed to close around straw.

"I'll go away and give you a chance to think it over," he said
despairingly.  "I can't see any way of living without you, but I
suppose you can't marry a man you don't trust or believe in.  My
uncle wanted me to go to London on some business--"

The night he left, it was sad on the dim pier.  All that kept her
from breaking was that it was not an image of strength that was
leaving her; she would be just as strong without him.  Yet as the
murky lights fell on the fine structure of his brow and chin, as
she saw the faces turn toward him, the eyes that followed him, an
awful emptiness seized her and she wanted to say:  "Never mind,
dear; we'll try it together."

But try what?  It was human to risk the toss between failure and
success, but to risk the desperate gamble between adequacy and

"Oh, Dick, be good and be strong and come back to me.  Change,
change, Dick--change!"

"Good-by, Julia--good-by."

She last saw him on the deck, his profile cut sharp as a cameo
against a match as he lit a cigarette.


It was Phil Hoffman who was to be with her at the beginning and the
end.  It was he who broke the news as gently as it could be broken.
He reached her apartment at half-past eight and carefully threw
away the morning paper outside.  Dick Ragland had disappeared at

After her first wild burst of grief, he became purposely a little

"He knew himself.  His will had given out; he didn't want life any
more.  And, Julia, just to show you how little you can possibly
blame yourself, I'll tell you this:  He'd hardly gone to his office
for four months--since you went to California.  He wasn't fired
because of his uncle; the business he went to London on was of no
importance at all.  After his first enthusiasm was gone he'd given

She looked at him sharply.  "He didn't drink, did he?  He wasn't

For a fraction of a second Phil hesitated.  "No, he didn't drink;
he kept his promise--he held on to that."

"That was it," she said.  "He kept his promise and he killed
himself doing it."

Phil waited uncomfortably.

"He did what he said he would and broke his heart doing it," she
went on chokingly.  "Oh, isn't life cruel sometimes--so cruel,
never to let anybody off.  He was so brave--he died doing what he
said he'd do."

Phil was glad he had thrown away the newspaper that hinted of
Dick's gay evening in the bar--one of many gay evenings that Phil
had known of in the past few months.  He was relieved that was
over, because Dick's weakness had threatened the happiness of the
girl he loved; but he was terribly sorry for him--even understanding
how it was necessary for him to turn his maladjustment to life
toward one mischief or another--but he was wise enough to leave
Julia with the dream that she had saved out of wreckage.

There was a bad moment a year later, just before their marriage,
when she said:

"You'll understand the feeling I have and always will have about
Dick, won't you, Phil?  It wasn't just his good looks.  I believed
in him--and I was right in a way.  He broke rather than bent; he
was a ruined man, but not a bad man.  In my heart I knew when I
first looked at him."

Phil winced, but he said nothing.  Perhaps there was more behind it
than they knew.  Better let it all alone in the depths of her heart
and the depths of the sea.

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