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CRAZY SUNDAY


by


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)


American Mercury (October 1932)



It was Sunday--not a day, but rather a gap between two other days.
Behind, for all of them, lay sets and sequences, the long waits
under the crane that swung the microphone, the hundred miles a day
by automobiles to and fro across a county, the struggles of rival
ingenuities in the conference rooms, the ceaseless compromise, the
clash and strain of many personalities fighting for their lives.
And now Sunday, with individual life starting up again, with a glow
kindling in eyes that had been glazed with monotony the afternoon
before.  Slowly as the hours waned they came awake like
"Puppenfeen" in a toy shop: an intense colloquy in a corner, lovers
disappearing to neck in a hall.  And the feeling of "Hurry, it's
not too late, but for God's sake hurry before the blessed forty
hours of leisure are over."

Joel Coles was writing continuity.  He was twenty-eight and not yet
broken by Hollywood.  He had had what were considered nice
assignments since his arrival six months before and he submitted
his scenes and sequences with enthusiasm.  He referred to himself
modestly as a hack but really did not think of it that way.  His
mother had been a successful actress; Joel had spent his childhood
between London and New York trying to separate the real from the
unreal, or at least to keep one guess ahead.  He was a handsome man
with the pleasant cow-brown eyes that in 1913 had gazed out at
Broadway audiences from his mother's face.

When the invitation came it made him sure that he was getting
somewhere.  Ordinarily he did not go out on Sundays but stayed
sober and took work home with him.  Recently they had given him a
Eugene O'Neill play destined for a very important lady indeed.
Everything he had done so far had pleased Miles Calman, and Miles
Calman was the only director on the lot who did not work under a
supervisor and was responsible to the money men alone.  Everything
was clicking into place in Joel's career.  ("This is Mr. Calman's
secretary.  Will you come to tea from four to six Sunday--he lives
in Beverly Hills, number--.")

Joel was flattered.  It would be a party out of the top-drawer.  It
was a tribute to himself as a young man of promise.  The Marion
Davies' crowd, the high-hats, the big currency numbers, perhaps
even Dietrich and Garbo and the Marquise, people who were not seen
everywhere, would probably be at Calman's.

"I won't take anything to drink," he assured himself.  Calman was
audibly tired of rummies, and thought it was a pity the industry
could not get along without them.

Joel agreed that writers drank too much--he did himself, but he
wouldn't this afternoon.  He wished Miles would be within hearing
when the cocktails were passed to hear his succinct, unobtrusive,
"No, thank you."

Miles Calman's house was built for great emotional moments--there
was an air of listening, as if the far silences of its vistas hid
an audience, but this afternoon it was thronged, as though people
had been bidden rather than asked.  Joel noted with pride that only
two other writers from the studio were in the crowd, an ennobled
limey and, somewhat to his surprise, Nat Keogh, who had evoked
Calman's impatient comment on drunks.

Stella Calman (Stella Walker, of course) did not move on to her
other guests after she spoke to Joel.  She lingered--she looked at
him with the sort of beautiful look that demands some sort of
acknowledgment and Joe drew quickly on the dramatic adequacy
inherited from his mother:

"Well, you look about sixteen!  Where's your kiddy car?"

She was visibly pleased; she lingered.  He felt that he should say
something more, something confident and easy--he had first met her
when she was struggling for bits in New York.  At the moment a tray
slid up and Stella put a cocktail glass into his hand.

"Everybody's afraid, aren't they?" he said, looking at it absently.
"Everybody watches for everybody else's blunders, or tries to make
sure they're with people that'll do them credit.  Of course that's
not true in your house," he covered himself hastily.  "I just meant
generally in Hollywood."

Stella agreed.  She presented several people to Joel as if he were
very important.  Reassuring himself that Miles was at the other
side of the room, Joel drank the cocktail.

"So you have a baby?" he said.  "That's the time to look out.
After a pretty woman has had her first child, she's very
vulnerable, because she wants to be reassured about her own charm.
She's got to have some new man's unqualified devotion to prove to
herself she hasn't lost anything."

"I never get anybody's unqualified devotion," Stella said rather
resentfully.

"They're afraid of your husband."

"You think that's it?"  She wrinkled her brow over the idea; then
the conversation was interrupted at the exact moment Joel would
have chosen.

Her attentions had given him confidence.  Not for him to join safe
groups, to slink to refuge under the wings of such acquaintances as
he saw about the room.  He walked to the window and looked out
toward the Pacific, colorless under its sluggish sunset.  It was
good here--the American Riviera and all that, if there were ever
time to enjoy it.  The handsome, well-dressed people in the room,
the lovely girls, and the--well, the lovely girls.  You couldn't
have everything.

He saw Stella's fresh boyish face, with the tired eyelid that
always drooped a little over one eye, moving about among her guests
and he wanted to sit with her and talk a long time as if she were a
girl instead of a name; he followed her to see if she paid anyone
as much attention as she had paid him.  He took another cocktail--
not because he needed confidence but because she had given him so
much of it.  Then he sat down beside the director's mother.

"Your son's gotten to be a legend, Mrs. Calman--Oracle and a Man of
Destiny and all that.  Personally, I'm against him but I'm in a
minority.  What do you think of him?  Are you impressed?  Are you
surprised how far he's gone?"

"No, I'm not surprised," she said calmly.  "We always expected a
lot from Miles."

"Well now, that's unusual," remarked Joel.  "I always think all
mothers are like Napoleon's mother.  My mother didn't want me to
have anything to do with the entertainment business.  She wanted me
to go to West Point and be safe."

"We always had every confidence in Miles." . . .

He stood by the built-in bar of the dining room with the good-
humored, heavy-drinking, highly paid Nat Keogh.

"--I made a hundred grand during the year and lost forty grand
gambling, so now I've hired a manager."

"You mean an agent," suggested Joel.

"No, I've got that too.  I mean a manager.  I make over everything
to my wife and then he and my wife get together and hand me out the
money.  I pay him five thousand a year to hand me out my money."

"You mean your agent."

"No, I mean my manager, and I'm not the only one--a lot of other
irresponsible people have him."

"Well, if you're irresponsible why are you responsible enough to
hire a manager?"

"I'm just irresponsible about gambling.  Look here--"

A singer performed; Joel and Nat went forward with the others to
listen.


II


The singing reached Joel vaguely; he felt happy and friendly toward
all the people gathered there, people of bravery and industry,
superior to a bourgeoisie that outdid them in ignorance and loose
living, risen to a position of the highest prominence in a nation
that for a decade had wanted only to be entertained.  He liked them--
he loved them.  Great waves of good feeling flowed through him.

As the singer finished his number and there was a drift toward the
hostess to say good-by, Joel had an idea.  He would give them
"Building It Up," his own composition.  It was his only parlor
trick, it had amused several parties and it might please Stella
Walker.  Possessed by the hunch, his blood throbbing with the
scarlet corpuscles of exhibitionism, he sought her.

"Of course," she cried.  "Please!  Do you need anything?"

"Someone has to be the secretary that I'm supposed to be dictating
to."

"I'll be her."

As the word spread the guests in the hall, already putting on their
coats to leave, drifted back and Joel faced the eyes of many
strangers.  He had a dim foreboding, realizing that the man who had
just performed was a famous radio entertainer.  Then someone said
"Sh!" and he was alone with Stella, the center of a sinister Indian-
like half-circle.  Stella smiled up at him expectantly--he began.

His burlesque was based upon the cultural limitations of Mr. Dave
Silverstein, an independent producer; Silverstein was presumed to
be dictating a letter outlining a treatment of a story he had
bought.

"--a story of divorce, the younger generators and the Foreign
Legion," he heard his voice saying, with the intonations of Mr.
Silverstein.  "But we got to build it up, see?"

A sharp pang of doubt struck through him.  The faces surrounding
him in the gently molded light were intent and curious, but there
was no ghost of a smile anywhere; directly in front the Great Lover
of the screen glared at him with an eye as keen as the eye of a
potato.  Only Stella Walker looked up at him with a radiant, never
faltering smile.

"If we make him a Menjou type, then we get a sort of Michael Arlen
only with a Honolulu atmosphere."

Still not a ripple in front, but in the rear a rustling, a
perceptible shift toward the left, toward the front door.

"--then she says she feels this sex appil for him and he burns out
and says 'Oh go on destroy yourself'--"

At some point he heard Nat Keogh snicker and here and there were a
few encouraging faces, but as he finished he had the sickening
realization that he had made a fool of himself in view of an
important section of the picture world, upon whose favor depended
his career.

For a moment he existed in the midst of a confused silence, broken
by a general trek for the door.  He felt the undercurrent of
derision that rolled through the gossip; then--all this was in the
space of ten seconds--the Great Lover, his eye hard and empty as
the eye of a needle, shouted "Boo!  Boo!" voicing in an overtone
what he felt was the mood of the crowd.  It was the resentment of
the professional toward the amateur, of the community toward the
stranger, the thumbs-down of the clan.

Only Stella Walker was still standing near and thanking him as if
he had been an unparalleled success, as if it hadn't occurred to
her that anyone hadn't liked it.  As Nat Keogh helped him into his
overcoat, a great wave of self-disgust swept over him and he clung
desperately to his rule of never betraying an inferior emotion
until he no longer felt it.

"I was a flop," he said lightly, to Stella.  "Never mind, it's a
good number when appreciated.  Thanks for your co÷peration."

The smile did not leave her face--he bowed rather drunkenly and Nat
drew him toward the door. . . .

The arrival of his breakfast awakened him into a broken and ruined
world.  Yesterday he was himself, a point of fire against an
industry, today he felt that he was pitted under an enormous
disadvantage, against those faces, against individual contempt and
collective sneer.  Worse than that, to Miles Calman he was become
one of those rummies, stripped of dignity, whom Calman regretted he
was compelled to use.  To Stella Walker, on whom he had forced a
martyrdom to preserve the courtesy of her house--her opinion he did
not dare to guess.  His gastric juices ceased to flow and he set
his poached eggs back on the telephone table.  He wrote:


DEAR MILES:  You can imagine my profound self-disgust.  I confess
to a taint of exhibitionism, but at six o'clock in the afternoon,
in broad daylight!  Good God!  My apologies to your wife.

                                        Yours ever,

                                                 JOEL COLES.


Joel emerged from his office on the lot only to slink like a
malefactor to the tobacco store.  So suspicious was his manner that
one of the studio police asked to see his admission card.  He had
decided to eat lunch outside when Nat Keogh, confident and
cheerful, overtook him.

"What do you mean you're in permanent retirement?  What if that
Three Piece Suit did boo you?

"Why, listen," he continued, drawing Joel into the studio
restaurant.  "The night of one of his premiers at Grauman's, Joe
Squires kicked his tail while he was bowing to the crowd.  The ham
said Joe'd hear from him later but when Joe called him up at eight
o'clock next day and said, 'I thought I was going to hear from
you,' he hung up the phone."

The preposterous story cheered Joel, and he found a gloomy
consolation in staring at the group at the next table, the sad,
lovely Siamese twins, the mean dwarfs, the proud giant from the
circus picture.  But looking beyond at the yellow-stained faces of
pretty women, their eyes all melancholy and startling with mascara,
their ball gowns garish in full day, he saw a group who had been at
Calman's and winced.

"Never again," he exclaimed aloud, "absolutely my last social
appearance in Hollywood!"

The following morning a telegram was waiting for him at his office:


You were one of the most agreeable people at our party.  Expect you
at my sister June's buffet supper next Sunday.

                                         STELLA WALKER CALMAN.


The blood rushed fast through his veins for a feverish minute.
Incredulously he read the telegram over.

"Well, that's the sweetest thing I ever heard of in my life!"


III


Crazy Sunday again.  Joel slept until eleven, then he read a
newspaper to catch up with the past week.  He lunched in his room
on trout, avocado salad and a pint of California wine.  Dressing
for the tea, he selected a pin-check suit, a blue shirt, a burnt
orange tie.  There were dark circles of fatigue under his eyes.  In
his second-hand car he drove to the Riviera apartments.  As he was
introducing himself to Stella's sister, Miles and Stella arrived in
riding clothes--they had been quarrelling fiercely most of the
afternoon on all the dirt roads back of Beverly Hills.

Miles Calman, tall, nervous, with a desperate humor and the
unhappiest eyes Joel ever saw, was an artist from the top of his
curiously shaped head to his niggerish feet.  Upon these last he
stood firmly--he had never made a cheap picture though he had
sometimes paid heavily for the luxury of making experimental flops.
In spite of his excellent company, one could not be with him long
without realizing that he was not a well man.

From the moment of their entrance Joel's day bound itself up
inextricably with theirs.  As he joined the group around them
Stella turned away from it with an impatient little tongue click--
and Miles Calman said to the man who happened to be next to him:

"Go easy on Eva Goebel.  There's hell to pay about her at home."
Miles turned to Joel, "I'm sorry I missed you at the office
yesterday.  I spent the afternoon at the analyst's."

"You being psychoanalyzed?"

"I have been for months.  First I went for claustrophobia, now I'm
trying to get my whole life cleared up.  They say it'll take over a
year."

"There's nothing the matter with your life," Joel assured him.

"Oh, no?  Well, Stella seems to think so.  Ask anybody--they can
all tell you about it," he said bitterly.

A girl perched herself on the arm of Miles' chair; Joel crossed to
Stella, who stood disconsolately by the fire.

"Thank you for your telegram," he said.  "It was darn sweet.  I
can't imagine anybody as good-looking as you are being so good-
humored."

She was a little lovelier than he had ever seen her and perhaps the
unstinted admiration in his eyes prompted her to unload on him--it
did not take long, for she was obviously at the emotional bursting
point.

"--and Miles has been carrying on this thing for two years, and I
never knew.  Why, she was one of my best friends, always in the
house.  Finally when people began to come to me, Miles had to admit
it."

She sat down vehemently on the arm of Joel's chair.  Her riding
breeches were the color of the chair and Joel saw that the mass of
her hair was made up of some strands of red gold and some of pale
gold, so that it could not be dyed, and that she had on no make-up.
She was that good-looking--

Still quivering with the shock of her discovery, Stella found
unbearable the spectacle of a new girl hovering over Miles; she led
Joel into a bedroom, and seated at either end of a big bed they
went on talking.  People on their way to the washroom glanced in
and made wisecracks, but Stella, emptying out her story, paid no
attention.  After a while Miles stuck his head in the door and
said, "There's no use trying to explain something to Joel in half
an hour that I don't understand myself and the psychoanalyst says
will take a whole year to understand."

She talked on as if Miles were not there.  She loved Miles, she
said--under considerable difficulties she had always been faithful
to him.

"The psychoanalyst told Miles that he had a mother complex.  In his
first marriage he transferred his mother complex to his wife, you
see--and then his sex turned to me.  But when we married the thing
repeated itself--he transferred his mother complex to me and all
his libido turned toward this other woman."

Joel knew that this probably wasn't gibberish--yet it sounded like
gibberish.  He knew Eva Goebel; she was a motherly person, older
and probably wiser than Stella, who was a golden child.

Miles now suggested impatiently that Joel come back with them since
Stella had so much to say, so they drove out to the mansion in
Beverly Hills.  Under the high ceilings the situation seemed more
dignified and tragic.  It was an eerie bright night with the dark
very clear outside of all the windows and Stella all rose-gold
raging and crying around the room.  Joel did not quite believe in
picture actresses' grief.  They have other preoccupations--they are
beautiful rose-gold figures blown full of life by writers and
directors, and after hours they sit around and talk in whispers and
giggle innuendoes, and the ends of many adventures flow through
them.

Sometimes he pretended to listen and instead thought how well she
was got up--sleek breeches with a matched set of legs in them, an
Italian-colored sweater with a little high neck, and a short brown
chamois coat.  He couldn't decide whether she was an imitation of
an English lady or an English lady was an imitation of her.  She
hovered somewhere between the realest of realities and the most
blatant of impersonations.

"Miles is so jealous of me that he questions everything I do," she
cried scornfully.  "When I was in New York I wrote him that I'd
been to the theater with Eddie Baker.  Miles was so jealous he
phoned me ten times in one day."

"I was wild," Miles snuffled sharply, a habit he had in times of
stress.  "The analyst couldn't get any results for a week."

Stella shook her head despairingly.  "Did you expect me just to sit
in the hotel for three weeks?"

"I don't expect anything.  I admit that I'm jealous.  I try not to
be.  I worked on that with Dr. Bridgebane, but it didn't do any
good.  I was jealous of Joel this afternoon when you sat on the arm
of his chair."

"You were?"  She started up.  "You were!  Wasn't there somebody on
the arm of your chair?  And did you speak to me for two hours?"

"You were telling your troubles to Joel in the bedroom."

"When I think that that woman"--she seemed to believe that to omit
Eva Goebel's name would be to lessen her reality--"used to come
here--"

"All right--all right," said Miles wearily.  "I've admitted
everything and I feel as bad about it as you do."  Turning to Joel
he began talking about pictures, while Stella moved restlessly
along the far walls, her hands in her breeches pockets.

"They've treated Miles terribly," she said, coming suddenly back
into the conversation as if they'd never discussed her personal
affairs.  "Dear, tell him about old Beltzer trying to change your
picture."

As she stood hovering protectively over Miles, her eyes flashing
with indignation in his behalf, Joel realized that he was in love
with her.  Stifled with excitement he got up to say good night.

With Monday the week resumed its workaday rhythm, in sharp contrast
to the theoretical discussions, the gossip and scandal of Sunday;
there was the endless detail of script revision--"Instead of a
lousy dissolve, we can leave her voice on the sound track and cut
to a medium shot of the taxi from Bell's angle or we can simply
pull the camera back to include the station, hold it a minute and
then pan to the row of taxis"--by Monday afternoon Joel had again
forgotten that people whose business was to provide entertainment
were ever privileged to be entertained.  In the evening he phoned
Miles' house.  He asked for Miles but Stella came to the phone.

"Do things seem better?"

"Not particularly.  What are you doing next Saturday evening?"

"Nothing."

"The Perrys are giving a dinner and theater party and Miles won't
be here--he's flying to South Bend to see the Notre Dame-California
game.  I thought you might go with me in his place."

After a long moment Joel said, "Why--surely.  If there's a
conference I can't make dinner but I can get to the theater."

"Then I'll say we can come."

Joel walked his office.  In view of the strained relations of the
Calmans, would Miles be pleased, or did she intend that Miles
shouldn't know of it?  That would be out of the question--if Miles
didn't mention it Joel would.  But it was an hour or more before he
could get down to work again.

Wednesday there was a four-hour wrangle in a conference room
crowded with planets and nebulae of cigarette smoke.  Three men and
a woman paced the carpet in turn, suggesting or condemning,
speaking sharply or persuasively, confidently or despairingly.  At
the end Joel lingered to talk to Miles.

The man was tired--not with the exaltation of fatigue but life-
tired, with his lids sagging and his beard prominent over the blue
shadows near his mouth.

"I hear you're flying to the Notre Dame game."

Miles looked beyond him and shook his head.

"I've given up the idea."

"Why?"

"On account of you."  Still he did not look at Joel.

"What the hell, Miles?"

"That's why I've given it up."  He broke into a perfunctory laugh
at himself.  "I can't tell what Stella might do just out of spite--
she's invited you to take her to the Perrys', hasn't she?  I
wouldn't enjoy the game."

The fine instinct that moved swiftly and confidently on the set,
muddled so weakly and helplessly through his personal life.

"Look, Miles," Joel said frowning.  "I've never made any passes
whatsoever at Stella.  If you're really seriously cancelling your
trip on account of me, I won't go to the Perrys' with her.  I won't
see her.  You can trust me absolutely."

Miles looked at him, carefully now.

"Maybe."  He shrugged his shoulders.  "Anyhow there'd just be
somebody else.  I wouldn't have any fun."

"You don't seem to have much confidence in Stella.  She told me
she'd always been true to you."

"Maybe she has."  In the last few minutes several more muscles had
sagged around Miles' mouth, "But how can I ask anything of her
after what's happened?  How can I expect her--"  He broke off and
his face grew harder as he said, "I'll tell you one thing, right or
wrong and no matter what I've done, if I ever had anything on her
I'd divorce her.  I can't have my pride hurt--that would be the
last straw."

His tone annoyed Joel, but he said:

"Hasn't she calmed down about the Eva Goebel thing?"

"No."  Miles snuffled pessimistically.  "I can't get over it
either."

"I thought it was finished."

"I'm trying not to see Eva again, but you know it isn't easy just
to drop something like that--it isn't some girl I kissed last night
in a taxi!  The psychoanalyst says--"

"I know," Joel interrupted.  "Stella told me."  This was
depressing.  "Well, as far as I'm concerned if you go to the game I
won't see Stella.  And I'm sure Stella has nothing on her
conscience about anybody."

"Maybe not," Miles repeated listlessly.  "Anyhow I'll stay and take
her to the party.  Say," he said suddenly, "I wish you'd come too.
I've got to have somebody sympathetic to talk to.  That's the
trouble--I've influenced Stella in everything.  Especially I've
influenced her so that she likes all the men I like--it's very
difficult."

"It must be," Joel agreed.


IV


Joel could not get to the dinner.  Self-conscious in his silk hat
against the unemployment, he waited for the others in front of the
Hollywood Theatre and watched the evening parade: obscure replicas
of bright, particular picture stars, spavined men in polo coats, a
stomping dervish with the beard and staff of an apostle, a pair of
chic Filipinos in collegiate clothes, reminder that this corner of
the Republic opened to the seven seas, a long fantastic carnival of
young shouts which proved to be a fraternity initiation.  The line
split to pass two smart limousines that stopped at the curb.

There she was, in a dress like ice-water, made in a thousand pale-
blue pieces, with icicles trickling at the throat.  He started
forward.

"So you like my dress?"

"Where's Miles?"

"He flew to the game after all.  He left yesterday morning--at
least I think--"  She broke off.  "I just got a telegram from South
Bend saying that he's starting back.  I forgot--you know all these
people?"

The party of eight moved into the theater.

Miles had gone after all and Joel wondered if he should have come.
But during the performance, with Stella a profile under the pure
grain of light hair, he thought no more about Miles.  Once he
turned and looked at her and she looked back at him, smiling and
meeting his eyes for as long as he wanted.  Between the acts they
smoked in the lobby and she whispered:

"They're all going to the opening of Jack Johnson's night club--I
don't want to go, do you?"

"Do we have to?"

"I suppose not."  She hesitated.  "I'd like to talk to you.  I
suppose we could go to our house--if I were only sure--"

Again she hesitated and Joel asked:

"Sure of what?"

"Sure that--oh, I'm haywire I know, but how can I be sure Miles
went to the game?"

"You mean you think he's with Eva Goebel?"

"No, not so much that--but supposing he was here watching
everything I do.  You know Miles does odd things sometimes.  Once
he wanted a man with a long beard to drink tea with him and he sent
down to the casting agency for one, and drank tea with him all
afternoon."

"That's different.  He sent you a wire from South Bend--that proves
he's at the game."

After the play they said good night to the others at the curb and
were answered by looks of amusement.  They slid off along the
golden garish thoroughfare through the crowd that had gathered
around Stella.

"You see he could arrange the telegrams," Stella said, "very
easily."

That was true.  And with the idea that perhaps her uneasiness was
justified, Joel grew angry: if Miles had trained a camera on them
he felt no obligations toward Miles.  Aloud he said:

"That's nonsense."

There were Christmas trees already in the shop windows and the full
moon over the boulevard was only a prop, as scenic as the giant
boudoir lamps of the corners.  On into the dark foliage of Beverly
Hills that flamed as eucalyptus by day, Joel saw only the flash of
a white face under his own, the arc of her shoulder.  She pulled
away suddenly and looked up at him.

"Your eyes are like your mother's," she said.  "I used to have a
scrap book full of pictures of her."

"Your eyes are like your own and not a bit like any other eyes," he
answered.

Something made Joel look out into the grounds as they went into the
house, as if Miles were lurking in the shrubbery.  A telegram
waited on the hall table.  She read aloud:


                                                   CHICAGO.

Home tomorrow night.  Thinking of you.  Love.

                                                     MILES.


"You see," she said, throwing the slip back on the table, "he could
easily have faked that."  She asked the butler for drinks and
sandwiches and ran upstairs, while Joel walked into the empty
reception rooms.  Strolling about he wandered to the piano where he
had stood in disgrace two Sundays before.

"Then we could put over," he said aloud, "a story of divorce, the
younger generators and the Foreign Legion."

His thoughts jumped to another telegram.

"You were one of the most agreeable people at our party--"

An idea occurred to him.  If Stella's telegram had been purely a
gesture of courtesy then it was likely that Miles had inspired it,
for it was Miles who had invited him.  Probably Miles had said:

"Send him a wire--he's miserable--he thinks he's queered himself."

It fitted in with "I've influenced Stella in everything.
Especially I've influenced her so that she likes all the men I
like."  A woman would do a thing like that because she felt
sympathetic--only a man would do it because he felt responsible.

When Stella came back into the room he took both her hands.

"I have a strange feeling that I'm a sort of pawn in a spite game
you're playing against Miles," he said.

"Help yourself to a drink."

"And the odd thing is that I'm in love with you anyhow."

The telephone rang and she freed herself to answer it.

"Another wire from Miles," she announced.  "He dropped it, or it
says he dropped it, from the airplane at Kansas City."

"I suppose he asked to be remembered to me."

"No, he just said he loved me.  I believe he does.  He's so very
weak."

"Come sit beside me," Joel urged her.

It was early.  And it was still a few minutes short of midnight a
half-hour later, when Joel walked to the cold hearth, and said
tersely:

"Meaning that you haven't any curiosity about me?"

"Not at all.  You attract me a lot and you know it.  The point is
that I suppose I really do love Miles."

"Obviously."

"And tonight I feel uneasy about everything."

He wasn't angry--he was even faintly relieved that a possible
entanglement was avoided.  Still as he looked at her, the warmth
and softness of her body thawing her cold blue costume, he knew she
was one of the things he would always regret.

"I've got to go," he said.  "I'll phone a taxi."

"Nonsense--there's a chauffeur on duty."

He winced at her readiness to have him go, and seeing this she
kissed him lightly and said, "You're sweet, Joel."  Then suddenly
three things happened: he took down his drink at a gulp, the phone
rang loud through the house and a clock in the hall struck in
trumpet notes.

NINE--TEN--ELEVEN--TWELVE--


V


It was Sunday again.  Joel realized that he had come to the theater
this evening with the work of the week still hanging about him like
cerements.  He had made love to Stella as he might attack some
matter to be cleaned up hurriedly before the day's end.  But this
was Sunday--the lovely, lazy perspective of the next twenty-four
hours unrolled before him--every minute was something to be
approached with lulling indirection, every moment held the germ of
innumerable possibilities.  Nothing was impossible--everything was
just beginning.  He poured himself another drink.

With a sharp moan, Stella slipped forward inertly by the telephone.
Joel picked her up and laid her on the sofa.  He squirted soda-
water on a handkerchief and slapped it over her face.  The
telephone mouthpiece was still grinding and he put it to his ear.

"--the plane fell just this side of Kansas City.  The body of Miles
Calman has been identified and--"

He hung up the receiver.

"Lie still," he said, stalling, as Stella opened her eyes.

"Oh, what's happened?" she whispered.  "Call them back.  Oh, what's
happened?"

"I'll call them right away.  What's your doctor's name?"

"Did they say Miles was dead?"

"Lie quiet--is there a servant still up?"

"Hold me--I'm frightened."

He put his arm around her.

"I want the name of your doctor," he said sternly.  "It may be a
mistake but I want someone here."

"It's Doctor--Oh, God, is Miles dead?"

Joel ran upstairs and searched through strange medicine cabinets
for spirits of ammonia.  When he came down Stella cried:

"He isn't dead--I know he isn't.  This is part of his scheme.  He's
torturing me.  I know he's alive.  I can feel he's alive."

"I want to get hold of some close friend of yours, Stella.  You
can't stay here alone tonight."

"Oh, no," she cried.  "I can't see anybody.  You stay.  I haven't
got any friend."  She got up, tears streaming down her face.  "Oh,
Miles is my only friend.  He's not dead--he can't be dead.  I'm
going there right away and see.  Get a train.  You'll have to come
with me."

"You can't.  There's nothing to do tonight.  I want you to tell me
the name of some woman I can call: Lois?  Joan?  Carmel?  Isn't
there somebody?"

Stella stared at him blindly.

"Eva Goebel was my best friend," she said.

Joel thought of Miles, his sad and desperate face in the office two
days before.  In the awful silence of his death all was clear about
him.  He was the only American-born director with both an
interesting temperament and an artistic conscience.  Meshed in an
industry, he had paid with his ruined nerves for having no
resilience, no healthy cynicism, no refuge--only a pitiful and
precarious escape.

There was a sound at the outer door--it opened suddenly, and there
were footsteps in the hall.

"Miles!" Stella screamed.  "Is it you, Miles?  Oh, it's Miles."

A telegraph boy appeared in the doorway.

"I couldn't find the bell.  I heard you talking inside."

The telegram was a duplicate of the one that had been phoned.
While Stella read it over and over, as though it were a black lie,
Joel telephoned.  It was still early and he had difficulty getting
anyone; when finally he succeeded in finding some friends he made
Stella take a stiff drink.

"You'll stay here, Joel," she whispered, as though she were half-
asleep.  "You won't go away.  Miles liked you--he said you--"  She
shivered violently, "Oh, my God, you don't know how alone I feel."
Her eyes closed, "Put your arms around me.  Miles had a suit like
that."  She started bolt upright.  "Think of what he must have
felt.  He was afraid of almost everything, anyhow."

She shook her head dazedly.  Suddenly she seized Joel's face and
held it close to hers.

"You won't go.  You like me--you love me, don't you?  Don't call up
anybody.  Tomorrow's time enough.  You stay here with me tonight."

He stared at her, at first incredulously, and then with shocked
understanding.  In her dark groping Stella was trying to keep Miles
alive by sustaining a situation in which he had figured--as if
Miles' mind could not die so long as the possibilities that had
worried him still existed.  It was a distraught and tortured effort
to stave off the realization that he was dead.

Resolutely Joel went to the phone and called a doctor.

"Don't, oh, don't call anybody!" Stella cried.  "Come back here and
put your arms around me."

"Is Doctor Bales in?"

"Joel," Stella cried.  "I thought I could count on you.  Miles
liked you.  He was jealous of you--Joel, come here."

Ah then--if he betrayed Miles she would be keeping him alive--for
if he were really dead how could he be betrayed?

"--has just had a very severe shock.  Can you come at once, and get
hold of a nurse?"

"Joel!"

Now the door-bell and the telephone began to ring intermittently,
and automobiles were stopping in front of the door.

"But you're not going," Stella begged him.  "You're going to stay,
aren't you?"

"No," he answered.  "But I'll be back, if you need me."

Standing on the steps of the house which now hummed and palpitated
with the life that flutters around death like protective leaves, he
began to sob a little in his throat.

"Everything he touched he did something magical to," he thought.
"He even brought that little gamin alive and made her a sort of
masterpiece."

And then:

"What a hell of a hole he leaves in this damn wilderness--already!"

And then with a certain bitterness, "Oh, yes, I'll be back--I'll be
back!"





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