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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

The Saturday Evening Post (29 September, 1928)


After the college-board examinations in June, Basil Duke Lee and
five other boys from St. Regis School boarded the train for the
West.  Two got out at Pittsburgh, one slanted south toward St.
Louis and two stayed in Chicago; from then on Basil was alone.  It
was the first time in his life that he had ever felt the need of
tranquillity, but now he took long breaths of it; for, though
things had gone better toward the end, he had had an unhappy year
at school.

He wore one of those extremely flat derbies in vogue during the
twelfth year of the century, and a blue business suit become a
little too short for his constantly lengthening body.  Within he
was by turns a disembodied spirit, almost unconscious of his person
and moving in a mist of impressions and emotions, and a fiercely
competitive individual trying desperately to control the rush of
events that were the steps in his own evolution from child to man.
He believed that everything was a matter of effort--the current
principle of American education--and his fantastic ambition was
continually leading him to expect too much.  He wanted to be a
great athlete, popular, brilliant and always happy.  During this
year at school, where he had been punished for his "freshness," for
fifteen years of thorough spoiling at home, he had grown uselessly
introspective, and this interfered with that observation of others
which is the beginning of wisdom.  It was apparent that before he
obtained much success in dealing with the world he would know that
he'd been in a fight.

He spent the afternoon in Chicago, walking the streets and avoiding
members of the underworld.  He bought a detective story called "In
the Dead of the Night," and at five o'clock recovered his suitcase
from the station check room and boarded the Chicago, Milwaukee and
St. Paul.  Immediately he encountered a contemporary, also bound
home from school.

Margaret Torrence was fourteen; a serious girl, considered
beautiful by a sort of tradition, for she had been beautiful as a
little girl.  A year and a half before, after a breathless
struggle, Basil had succeeded in kissing her on the forehead.  They
met now with extraordinary joy; for a moment each of them to the
other represented home, the blue skies of the past, the summer
afternoons ahead.

He sat with Margaret and her mother in the dining car that night.
Margaret saw that he was no longer the ultraconfident boy of a year
before; his brightness was subdued, and the air of consideration in
his face--a mark of his recent discovery that others had wills as
strong as his, and more power--appeared to Margaret as a charming
sadness.  The spell of peace after a struggle was still upon him.
Margaret had always liked him--she was of the grave, conscientious
type who sometimes loved him and whose love he could never return--
and now she could scarcely wait to tell people how attractive he
had grown.

After dinner they went back to the observation car and sat on the
deserted rear platform while the train pulled them visibly westward
between the dark wide farms.  They talked of people they knew, of
where they had gone for Easter vacation, of the plays they had seen
in New York.

"Basil, we're going to get an automobile," she said, "and I'm going
to learn to drive."

"That's fine."  He wondered if his grandfather would let him drive
the electric sometimes this summer.

The light from inside the car fell on her young face, and he spoke
impetuously, borne on by the rush of happiness that he was going
home:  "You know something?  You know you're the prettiest girl in
the city?"

At the moment when the remark blurred with the thrilling night in
Margaret's heart, Mrs. Torrence appeared to fetch her to bed.

Basil sat alone on the platform for a while, scarcely realizing
that she was gone, at peace with himself for another hour and
content that everything should remain patternless and shapeless
until tomorrow.


Fifteen is of all ages the most difficult to locate--to put one's
fingers on and say, "That's the way I was."  The melancholy Jacques
does not select it for mention, and all one can know is that
somewhere between thirteen, boyhood's majority, and seventeen, when
one is a sort of counterfeit young man, there is a time when youth
fluctuates hourly between one world and another--pushed ceaselessly
forward into unprecedented experiences and vainly trying to
struggle back to the days when nothing had to be paid for.
Fortunately none of our contemporaries remember much more than we
do of how we behaved in those days; nevertheless the curtain is
about to be drawn aside for an inspection of Basil's madness that

To begin with, Margaret Torrence, in one of those moods of idealism
which overcome the most matter-of-fact girls, gave it as her rapt
opinion that Basil was wonderful.  Having practised believing
things all year at school, and having nothing much to believe at
that moment, her friends accepted the fact.  Basil suddenly became
a legend.  There were outbreaks of giggling when girls encountered
him on the street, but he suspected nothing at all.

One night, when he had been home a week, he and Riply Buckner went
on to an after-dinner gathering on Imogene Bissel's veranda.  As
they came up the walk Margaret and two other girls suddenly clung
together, whispered convulsively and pursued one another around the
yard, uttering strange cries--an inexplicable business that ended
only when Gladys Van Schellinger, tenderly and impressively
accompanied by her mother's maid, arrived in a limousine.

All of them were a little strange to one another.  Those who had
been East at school felt a certain superiority, which, however, was
more than counterbalanced by the fact that romantic pairings and
quarrels and jealousies and adventures, of which they were
lamentably ignorant, had gone on while they had been away.

After the ice cream at nine they sat together on the warm stone
steps in a quiet confusion that was halfway between childish
teasing and adolescent coquetry.  Last year the boys would have
ridden their bicycles around the yard; now they had all begun to
wait for something to happen.

They knew it was going to happen, the plainest girls, the shyest
boys; they had begun to associate with others the romantic world of
summer night that pressed deeply and sweetly on their senses.
Their voices drifted in a sort of broken harmony in to Mrs. Bissel,
who sat reading beside an open window.

"No, look out.  You'll break it.  Bay-zil!"


"Sure I did!"


     "--on Moonlight Bay
     We could hear their voices call--"

"Did you see--"

"Connie, don't--don't!  You tickle.  Look out!"


"Going to the lake tomorrow?"

"Going Friday."

"Elwood's home."

"Is Elwood home?"

     "--you have broken my heart--"

"Look out now!"

"Look out!"

Basil sat beside Riply on the balustrade, listening to Joe Gorman
singing.  It was one of the griefs of his life that he could not
sing "so people could stand it," and he conceived a sudden
admiration for Joe Gorman, reading into his personality the
thrilling clearness of those sounds that moved so confidently
through the dark air.

They evoked for Basil a more dazzling night than this, and other
more remote and enchanted girls.  He was sorry when the voice died
away, and there was a rearranging of seats and a businesslike quiet--
the ancient game of Truth had begun.

"What's your favorite color, Bill?"

"Green," supplies a friend.

"Sh-h-h!  Let him alone."

Bill says, "Blue."

"What's your favorite girl's name?"

"Mary," says Bill.

"Mary Haupt!  Bill's got a crush on Mary Haupt!"

She was a cross-eyed girl, a familiar personification of

"Who would you rather kiss than anybody?"

Across the pause a snicker stabbed the darkness.

"My mother."

"No, but what girl?"


"That's not fair.  Forfeit!  Come on, Margaret."

"Tell the truth, Margaret."

She told the truth and a moment later Basil looked down in surprise
from his perch; he had just learned that he was her favorite boy.

"Oh, yes-s!" he exclaimed sceptically.  "Oh, yes-s!  How about
Hubert Blair?"

He renewed a casual struggle with Riply Buckner and presently they
both fell off the balustrade.  The game became an inquisition into
Gladys Van Schellinger's carefully chaperoned heart.

"What's your favorite sport?"


The admission was greeted by a mild titter.

"Favorite boy."

"Thurston Kohler."

A murmur of disappointment.

"Who's he?"

"A boy in the East."

This was manifestly an evasion.

"Who's your favorite boy here?"

Gladys hesitated.  "Basil," she said at length.

The faces turned up to the balustrade this time were less teasing,
less jocular.  Basil depreciated the matter with "Oh, yes-s!  Sure!
Oh, yes-s!"  But he had a pleasant feeling of recognition, a
familiar delight.

Imogene Bissel, a dark little beauty and the most popular girl in
their crowd, took Gladys' place.  The interlocutors were tired of
gastronomic preferences--the first question went straight to the

"Imogene, have you ever kissed a boy?"

"No."  A cry of wild unbelief.  "I have not!" she declared

"Well, have you ever been kissed?"

Pink but tranquil, she nodded, adding, "I couldn't help it."

"Who by?"

"I won't tell."

"Oh-h-h!  How about Hubert Blair?"

"What's your favorite book, Imogene?"

"Beverly of Graustark."

"Favorite girl?"

"Passion Johnson."

"Who's she?"

"Oh, just a girl at school."

Mrs. Bissel had fortunately left the window.

"Who's your favorite boy?"

Imogene answered steadily, "Basil Lee."

This time an impressed silence fell.  Basil was not surprised--we
are never surprised at our own popularity--but he knew that these
were not those ineffable girls, made up out of books and faces
momentarily encountered, whose voices he had heard for a moment in
Joe Gorman's song.  And when, presently, the first telephone rang
inside, calling a daughter home, and the girls, chattering like
birds, piled all together into Gladys Van Schellinger's limousine,
he lingered back in the shadow so as not to seem to be showing off.
Then, perhaps because he nourished a vague idea that if he got to
know Joe Gorman very well he would get to sing like him, he
approached him and asked him to go to Lambert's for a soda.

Joe Gorman was a tall boy with white eyebrows and a stolid face who
had only recently become one of their "crowd."  He did not like
Basil, who, he considered, had been "stuck up" with him last year,
but he was acquisitive of useful knowledge and he was momentarily
overwhelmed by Basil's success with girls.

It was cheerful in Lambert's, with great moths batting against the
screen door and languid couples in white dresses and light suits
spread about the little tables.  Over their sodas, Joe proposed
that Basil come home with him to spend the night; Basil's
permission was obtained over the telephone.

Passing from the gleaming store into the darkness, Basil was
submerged in an unreality in which he seemed to see himself from
the outside, and the pleasant events of the evening began to take
on fresh importance.

Disarmed by Joe's hospitality, he began to discuss the matter.

"That was a funny thing that happened tonight," he said, with a
disparaging little laugh.

"What was?"

"Why, all those girls saying I was their favorite boy."  The remark
jarred on Joe.  "It's a funny thing," went on Basil.  "I was sort
of unpopular at school for a while, because I was fresh, I guess.
But the thing must be that some boys are popular with boys and some
are popular with girls."

He had put himself in Joe's hands, but he was unconscious of it;
even Joe was only aware of a certain desire to change the subject.

"When I get my car," suggested Joe, up in his room, "we could take
Imogene and Margaret and go for rides."

"All right."

"You could have Imogene and I'd take Margaret, or anybody I wanted.
Of course I know they don't like me as well as they do you."

"Sure they do.  It's just because you haven't been in our crowd
very long yet."

Joe was sensitive on that point and the remark did not please him.
But Basil continued:  "You ought to be more polite to the older
people if you want to be popular.  You didn't say how do you do to
Mrs. Bissel tonight."

"I'm hungry," said Joe quickly.  "Let's go down to the pantry and
get something to eat."

Clad only in their pajamas, they went downstairs.  Principally to
dissuade Basil from pursuing the subject, Joe began to sing in a
low voice:

     "Oh, you beautiful doll,
     You great--big--"

But the evening, coming after the month of enforced humility at
school, had been too much for Basil.  He got a little awful.  In
the kitchen, under the impression that his advice had been asked,
he broke out again:

"For instance, you oughtn't to wear those white ties.  Nobody does
that that goes East to school."  Joe, a little red, turned around
from the ice box and Basil felt a slight misgiving.  But he pursued
with:  "For instance, you ought to get your family to send you East
to school.  It'd be a great thing for you.  Especially if you want
to go East to college, you ought to first go East to school.  They
take it out of you."

Feeling that he had nothing special to be taken out of him, Joe
found the implication distasteful.  Nor did Basil appear to him at
that moment to have been perfected by the process.

"Do you want cold chicken or cold ham?"  They drew up chairs to the
kitchen table.  "Have some milk?"


Intoxicated by the three full meals he had had since supper, Basil
warmed to his subject.  He built up Joe's life for him little by
little, transformed him radiantly from what was little more than a
Midwestern bumpkin to an Easterner bursting with savoir-faire and
irresistible to girls.  Going into the pantry to put away the milk,
Joe paused by the open window for a breath of quiet air; Basil
followed.  "The thing is if a boy doesn't get it taken out of him
at school, he gets it taken out of him at college," he was saying.

Moved by some desperate instinct, Joe opened the door and stepped
out onto the back porch.  Basil followed.  The house abutted on the
edge of the bluff occupied by the residential section, and the two
boys stood silent for a moment, gazing at the scattered lights of
the lower city.  Before the mystery of the unknown human life
coursing through the streets below, Basil felt the purport of his
words grow thin and pale.

He wondered suddenly what he had said and why it had seemed
important to him, and when Joe began to sing again softly, the
quiet mood of the early evening, the side of him that was best,
wisest and most enduring, stole over him once more.  The flattery,
the vanity, the fatuousness of the last hour moved off, and when he
spoke it was almost in a whisper:

"Let's walk around the block."

The sidewalk was warm to their bare feet.  It was only midnight,
but the square was deserted save for their whitish figures,
inconspicuous against the starry darkness.  They snorted with glee
at their daring.  Once a shadow, with loud human shoes, crossed the
street far ahead, but the sound served only to increase their own
unsubstantiality.  Slipping quickly through the clearings made by
gas lamps among the trees, they rounded the block, hurrying when
they neared the Gorman house as though they had been really lost in
a midsummer night's dream.

Up in Joe's room, they lay awake in the darkness.

"I talked too much," Basil thought.  "I probably sounded pretty
bossy and maybe I made him sort of mad.  But probably when we
walked around the block he forgot everything I said."

Alas, Joe had forgotten nothing--except the advice by which Basil
had intended him to profit.

"I never saw anybody as stuck up," he said to himself wrathfully.
"He thinks he's wonderful.  He thinks he's so darn popular with


An element of vast importance had made its appearance with the
summer; suddenly the great thing in Basil's crowd was to own an
automobile.  Fun no longer seemed available save at great
distances, at suburban lakes or remote country clubs.  Walking
downtown ceased to be a legitimate pastime.  On the contrary, a
single block from one youth's house to another's must be navigated
in a car.  Dependent groups formed around owners and they began to
wield what was, to Basil at least, a disconcerting power.

On the morning of a dance at the lake he called up Riply Buckner.

"Hey, Rip, how you going out to Connie's tonight?"

"With Elwood Leaming."

"Has he got a lot of room?"

Riply seemed somewhat embarrassed.  "Why, I don't think he has.
You see, he's taking Margaret Torrence and I'm taking Imogene


Basil frowned.  He should have arranged all this a week ago.  After
a moment he called up Joe Gorman.

"Going to the Davies' tonight, Joe?"

"Why, yes."

"Have you got room in your car--I mean, could I go with you?"

"Why, yes, I suppose so."

There was a perceptible lack of warmth in his voice.

"Sure you got plenty of room?"

"Sure.  We'll call for you quarter to eight."

Basil began preparations at five.  For the second time in his life
he shaved, completing the operation by cutting a short straight
line under his nose.  It bled profusely, but on the advice of
Hilda, the maid, he finally stanched the flow with little pieces of
toilet paper.  Quite a number of pieces were necessary; so, in
order to facilitate breathing, he trimmed it down with a scissors,
and with this somewhat awkward mustache of paper and gore clinging
to his upper lip, wandered impatiently around the house.

At six he began working on it again, soaking off the tissue paper
and dabbing at the persistently freshening crimson line.  It dried
at length, but when he rashly hailed his mother it opened once more
and the tissue paper was called back into play.

At quarter to eight, dressed in blue coat and white flannels, he
drew one last bar of powder across the blemish, dusted it carefully
with his handkerchief and hurried out to Joe Gorman's car.  Joe was
driving in person, and in front with him were Lewis Crum and Hubert
Blair.  Basil got in the big rear seat alone and they drove without
stopping out of the city onto the Black Bear Road, keeping their
backs to him and talking in low voices together.  He thought at
first that they were going to pick up other boys; now he was
shocked, and for a moment he considered getting out of the car, but
this would imply that he was hurt.  His spirit, and with it his
face, hardened a little and he sat without speaking or being spoken
to for the rest of the ride.

After half an hour the Davies' house, a huge rambling bungalow
occupying a small peninsula in the lake, floated into sight.
Lanterns outlined its shape and wavered in gleaming lines on the
gold-and-rose colored water, and as they came near, the low notes
of bass horns and drums were blown toward them from the lawn.

Inside Basil looked about for Imogene.  There was a crowd around
her seeking dances, but she saw Basil; his heart bounded at her
quick intimate smile.

"You can have the fourth, Basil, and the eleventh and the second
extra. . . .  How did you hurt your lip?"

"Cut it shaving," he said hurriedly.  "How about supper?"

"Well, I have to have supper with Riply because he brought me."

"No, you don't," Basil assured her.

"Yes, she does," insisted Riply, standing close at hand.  "Why
don't you get your own girl for supper?"

--but Basil had no girl, though he was as yet unaware of the fact.

After the fourth dance, Basil led Imogene down to the end of the
pier, where they found seats in a motorboat.

"Now what?" she said.

He did not know.  If he had really cared for her he would have
known.  When her hand rested on his knee for a moment he did not
notice it.  Instead, he talked.  He told her how he had pitched on
the second baseball team at school and had once beaten the first in
a five-inning game.  He told her that the thing was that some boys
were popular with boys and some boys were popular with girls--he,
for instance, was popular with girls.  In short, he unloaded

At length, feeling that he had perhaps dwelt disproportionately on
himself, he told her suddenly that she was his favorite girl.

Imogene sat there, sighing a little in the moonlight.  In another
boat, lost in the darkness beyond the pier, sat a party of four.
Joe Gorman was singing:

     "My little love--
       --in honey man,
     He sure has won my--"

"I thought you might want to know," said Basil to Imogene.  "I
thought maybe you thought I liked somebody else.  The truth game
didn't get around to me the other night."

"What?" asked Imogene vaguely.  She had forgotten the other night,
all nights except this, and she was thinking of the magic in Joe
Gorman's voice.  She had the next dance with him; he was going to
teach her the words of a new song.  Basil was sort of peculiar,
telling her all this stuff.  He was good-looking and attractive and
all that, but--she wanted the dance to be over.  She wasn't having
any fun.

The music began inside--"Everybody's Doing It," played with many
little nervous jerks on the violins.

"Oh, listen!" she cried, sitting up and snapping her fingers.  "Do
you know how to rag?"

"Listen, Imogene"--He half realized that something had slipped away--
"let's sit out this dance--you can tell Joe you forgot."

She rose quickly.  "Oh, no, I can't!"

Unwillingly Basil followed her inside.  It had not gone well--he
had talked too much again.  He waited moodily for the eleventh
dance so that he could behave differently.  He believed now that he
was in love with Imogene.  His self-deception created a tightness
in his throat, a counterfeit of longing and desire.

Before the eleventh dance he was aware that some party was being
organized from which he was purposely excluded.  There were
whisperings and arguings among some of the boys, and unnatural
silences when he came near.  He heard Joe Gorman say to Riply
Buckner, "We'll just be gone three days.  If Gladys can't go, why
don't you ask Connie?  The chaperons'll--" he changed his sentence
as he saw Basil--"and we'll all go to Smith's for ice-cream soda."

Later, Basil took Riply Buckner aside but failed to elicit any
information: Riply had not forgotten Basil's attempt to rob him of
Imogene tonight.

"It wasn't about anything," he insisted.  "We're going to Smith's,
honest. . . .  How'd you cut your lip?"

"Cut it shaving."

When his dance with Imogene came she was even vaguer than before,
exchanging mysterious communications with various girls as they
moved around the room, locked in the convulsive grip of the Grizzly
Bear.  He led her out to the boat again, but it was occupied, and
they walked up and down the pier while he tried to talk to her and
she hummed:

     "My little lov-in honey man--"

"Imogene, listen.  What I wanted to ask you when we were on the
boat before was about the night we played Truth.  Did you really
mean what you said?"

"Oh, what do you want to talk about that silly game for?"

It had reached her ears, not once but several times, that Basil
thought he was wonderful--news that was flying about with as much
volatility as the rumor of his graces two weeks before.  Imogene
liked to agree with everyone--and she had agreed with several
impassioned boys that Basil was terrible.  And it was difficult not
to dislike him for her own disloyalty.

But Basil thought that only ill luck ended the intermission before
he could accomplish his purpose; though what he had wanted he had
not known.

Finally, during the intermission, Margaret Torrence, whom he had
neglected, told him the truth.

"Are you going on the touring party up to the St. Croix River?" she
asked.  She knew he was not.

"What party?"

"Joe Gorman got it up.  I'm going with Elwood Leaming."

"No, I'm not going," he said gruffly.  "I couldn't go."


"I don't like Joe Gorman."

"I guess he doesn't like you much either."

"Why?  What did he say?"

"Oh, nothing."

"But what?  Tell me what he said."

After a minute she told him, as if reluctantly:  "Well, he and
Hubert Blair said you thought--you thought you were wonderful."
Her heart misgave her.

But she remembered he had asked her for only one dance.  "Joe said
you told him that all the girls thought you were wonderful."

"I never said anything like that," said Basil indignantly, "never!"

He understood--Joe Gorman had done it all, taken advantage of
Basil's talking too much--an affliction which his real friends had
always allowed for--in order to ruin him.  The world was suddenly
compact of villainy.  He decided to go home.

In the coat room he was accosted by Bill Kampf:  "Hello, Basil, how
did you hurt your lip?"

"Cut it shaving."

"Say, are you going to this party they're getting up next week?"


"Well, look, I've got a cousin from Chicago coming to stay with us
and mother said I could have a boy out for the week-end.  Her name
is Minnie Bibble."

"Minnie Bibble?" repeated Basil, vaguely revolted.

"I thought maybe you were going to that party, too, but Riply
Buckner said to ask you and I thought--"

"I've got to stay home," said Basil quickly.

"Oh, come on, Basil," he pursued.  "It's only for two days, and
she's a nice girl.  You'd like her."

"I don't know," Basil considered.  "I'll tell you what I'll do,
Bill.  I've got to get the street car home.  I'll come out for the
week-end if you'll take me over to Wildwood now in your car."

"Sure I will."

Basil walked out on the veranda and approached Connie Davies.

"Good-by," he said.  Try as he might, his voice was stiff and
proud.  "I had an awfully good time."

"I'm sorry you're leaving so early, Basil."  But she said to
herself:  "He's too stuck up to have a good time.  He thinks he's

From the veranda he could hear Imogene's laughter down at the end
of the pier.  Silently he went down the steps and along the walk to
meet Bill Kampf, giving strollers a wide berth as though he felt
the sight of him would diminish their pleasure.

It had been an awful night.

Ten minutes later Bill dropped him beside the waiting trolley.  A
few last picnickers sauntered aboard and the car bobbed and clanged
through the night toward St. Paul.

Presently two young girls sitting opposite Basil began looking over
at him and nudging each other, but he took no notice--he was
thinking how sorry they would all be--Imogene and Margaret, Joe and
Hubert and Riply.

"Look at him now!" they would say to themselves sorrowfully.
"President of the United States at twenty-five!  Oh, if we only
hadn't been so bad to him that night!"

He thought he was wonderful!


Ermine Gilberte Labouisse Bibble was in exile.  Her parents had
brought her from New Orleans to Southampton in May, hoping that the
active outdoor life proper to a girl of fifteen would take her
thoughts from love.  But North or South, a storm of sappling arrows
flew about her.  She was "engaged" before the first of June.

Let it not be gathered from the foregoing that the somewhat hard
outlines of Miss Bibble at twenty had already begun to appear.  She
was of a radiant freshness; her head had reminded otherwise not
illiterate young men of damp blue violets, pierced with blue
windows that looked into a bright soul, with today's new roses
showing through.

She was in exile.  She was going to Glacier National Park to
forget.  It was written that in passage she would come to Basil as
a sort of initiation, turning his eyes out from himself and giving
him a first dazzling glimpse into the world of love.

She saw him first as a quiet handsome boy with an air of
consideration in his face, which was the mark of his recent re-
discovery that others had wills as strong as his, and more power.
It appeared to Minnie--as a few months back it had appeared to
Margaret Torrence, like a charming sadness.  At dinner he was
polite to Mrs. Kampf in a courteous way that he had from his
father, and he listened to Mr. Bibble's discussion of the word
"Creole" with such evident interest and appreciation that Mr.
Bibble thought, "Now here's a young boy with something TO him."

After dinner, Minnie, Basil and Bill rode into Black Bear village
to the movies, and the slow diffusion of Minnie's charm and
personality presently became the charm and personality of the
affair itself.

It was thus that all Minnie's affairs for many years had a family
likeness.  She looked at Basil, a childish open look; then opened
her eyes wider as if she had some sort of comic misgivings, and
smiled--she smiled--

For all the candor of this smile, the effect--because of the
special contours of Minnie's face and independent of her mood--was
sparkling invitation.  Whenever it appeared Basil seemed to be
suddenly inflated and borne upward, a little farther each time,
only to be set down when the smile had reached a point where it
must become a grin, and chose instead to melt away.  It was like a
drug.  In a little while he wanted nothing except to watch it with
a vast buoyant delight.

Then he wanted to see how close he could get to it.

There is a certain stage of an affair between young people when the
presence of a third party is a stimulant.  Before the second day
had well begun, before Minnie and Basil had progressed beyond the
point of great gross compliments about each other's surpassing
beauty and charm, both of them had begun to think about the time
when they could get rid of their host, Bill Kampf.

In the late afternoon, when the first cool of the evening had come
down and they were fresh and thin-feeling from swimming, they sat
in a cushioned swing, piled high with pillows and shaded by the
thick veranda vines; Basil put his arm around her and leaned toward
her cheek and Minnie managed it that he touched her fresh lips
instead.  And he had always learned things quickly.

They sat there for an hour, while Bill's voice reached them, now
from the pier, now from the hall above, now from the pagoda at the
end of the garden, and three saddled horses chafed their bits in
the stable and all around them the bees worked faithfully among the
flowers.  Then Minnie reached up to reality, and they allowed
themselves to be found--

"Why, we were looking for you too."

And Basil, by simply waving his arms and wishing, floated
miraculously upstairs to brush his hair for dinner.

"She certainly is a wonderful girl.  Oh, gosh, she certainly is a
wonderful girl!"

He mustn't lose his head.  At dinner and afterward he listened with
unwavering deferential attention while Mr. Bibble talked of the
boll weevil.

"But I'm boring you.  You children want to go off by yourselves."

"Not at all, Mr. Bibble.  I was very interested--honestly."

"Well, you all go on and amuse yourselves.  I didn't realize time
was getting on.  Nowadays it's so seldom you meet a young man with
good manners and good common sense in his head, that an old man
like me is likely to go along forever."

Bill walked down with Basil and Minnie to the end of the pier.
"Hope we'll have a good sailing tomorrow.  Say, I've got to drive
over to the village and get somebody for my crew.  Do you want to
come along?"

"I reckon I'll sit here for a while and then go to bed," said

"All right.  You want to come, Basil?"

"Why--why, sure, if you want me, Bill."

"You'll have to sit on a sail I'm taking over to be mended."

"I don't want to crowd you."

"You won't crowd me.  I'll go get the car."

When he had gone they looked at each other in despair.  But he did
not come back for an hour--something happened about the sail or the
car that took a long time.  There was only the threat, making
everything more poignant and breathless, that at any minute he
WOULD be coming.

By and by they got into the motorboat and sat close together
murmuring:  "This fall--"  "When you come to New Orleans--"  "When
I go to Yale year after next--"  "When I come North to school--"
"When I get back from Glacier Park--"  "Kiss me once more." . . .
"You're terrible.  Do you know you're terrible? . . .  You're
absolutely terrible--"

The water lapped against the posts; sometimes the boat bumped
gently on the pier; Basil undid one rope and pushed, so that they
swung off and way from the pier, and became a little island in the
night. . .

. . . next morning, while he packed his bag, she opened the door of
his room and stood beside him.  Her face shone with excitement; her
dress was starched and white.

"Basil, listen!  I have to tell you: Father was talking after
breakfast and he told Uncle George that he'd never met such a nice,
quiet, level-headed boy as you, and Cousin Bill's got to tutor this
month, so father asked Uncle George if he thought your family would
let you go to Glacier Park with us for two weeks so I'd have some
company."  They took hands and danced excitedly around the room.
"Don't say anything about it, because I reckon he'll have to write
your mother and everything.  Basil, isn't it wonderful?"

So when Basil left at eleven, there was no misery in their parting.
Mr. Bibble, going into the village for a paper, was going to escort
Basil to his train, and till the motor-car moved away the eyes of
the two young people shone and there was a secret in their waving

Basil sank back in the seat, replete with happiness.  He relaxed--
to have made a success of the visit was so nice.  He loved her--he
loved even her father sitting beside him, her father who was
privileged to be so close to her, to fuddle himself at that smile.

Mr. Bibble lit a cigar.  "Nice weather," he said.  "Nice climate up
to the end of October."

"Wonderful," agreed Basil.  "I miss October now that I go East to

"Getting ready for college?"

"Yes, sir; getting ready for Yale."  A new pleasurable thought
occurred to him.  He hesitated, but he knew that Mr. Bibble, who
liked him, would share his joy.  "I took my preliminaries this
spring and I just heard from them--I passed six out of seven."

"Good for you!"

Again Basil hesitated, then he continued:  "I got A in ancient
history and B in English history and English A.  And I got C in
algebra A and Latin A and B.  I failed French A."

"Good!" said Mr. Bibble.

"I should have passed them all," went on Basil, "but I didn't study
hard at first.  I was the youngest boy in my class and I had a sort
of swelled head about it."

It was well that Mr. Bibble should know he was taking no dullard to
Glacier National Park.  Mr. Bibble took a long puff of his cigar.

On second thought, Basil decided that his last remark didn't have
the right ring and he amended it a little.

"It wasn't exactly a swelled head, but I never had to study very
much, because in English I'd usually read most of the books before,
and in history I'd read a lot too."  He broke off and tried again:
"I mean, when you say swelled head you think of a boy just going
around with his head swelled, sort of, saying, 'Oh, look how much I
know!'  Well, I wasn't like that.  I mean, I didn't think I knew
everything, but I was sort of--"

As he searched for the elusive word, Mr. Bibble said, "H'm!" and
pointed with his cigar at a spot in the lake.

"There's a boat," he said.

"Yes," agreed Basil.  "I don't know much about sailing.  I never
cared for it.  Of course I've been out a lot, just tending boards
and all that, but most of the time you have to sit with nothing to
do.  I like football."

"H'm!" said Mr. Bibble.  "When I was your age I was out in the Gulf
in a catboat every day."

"I guess it's fun if you like it," conceded Basil.

"Happiest days of my life."

The station was in sight.  It occurred to Basil that he should make
one final friendly gesture.

"Your daughter certainly is an attractive girl, Mr. Bibble," he
said.  "I usually get along with girls all right, but I don't
usually like them very much.  But I think your daughter is the most
attractive girl I ever met."  Then, as the car stopped, a faint
misgiving overtook him and he was impelled to add with a
disparaging little laugh.  "Good-by.  I hope I didn't talk too

"Not at all," said Mr. Bibble.  "Good luck to you.  Goo'-by."

A few minutes later, when Basil's train had pulled out, Mr. Bibble
stood at the newsstand buying a paper and already drying his
forehead against the hot July day.

"Yes, sir!  That was a lesson not to do anything in a hurry," he
was saying to himself vehemently.  "Imagine listening to that fresh
kid gabbling about himself all through Glacier Park!  Thank the
good Lord for that little ride!"

On his arrival home, Basil literally sat down and waited.  Under no
pretext would he leave the house save for short trips to the drug
store for refreshments, whence he returned on a full run.  The
sound of the telephone or the door-bell galvanized him into the
rigidity of the electric chair.

That afternoon he composed a wondrous geographical poem, which he
mailed to Minnie:

     Of all the fair flowers of Paris,
       Of all the red roses of Rome,
     Of all the deep tears of Vienna
       The sadness wherever you roam,
     I think of that night by the lakeside,
       The beam of the moon and stars,
     And the smell of an aching like perfume,
       The tune of the Spanish guitars.

But Monday passed and most of Tuesday and no word came.  Then, late
in the afternoon of the second day, as he moved vaguely from room
to room looking out of different windows into a barren lifeless
street, Minnie called him on the phone.

"Yes?"  His heart was beating wildly.

"Basil, we're going this afternoon."

"Going!" he repeated blankly.

"Oh, Basil, I'm so sorry.  Father changed his mind about taking
anybody West with us."


"I'm so sorry, Basil."

"I probably couldn't have gone."

There was a moment's silence.  Feeling her presence over the wire,
he could scarcely breathe, much less speak.

"Basil, can you hear me?"


"We may come back this way.  Anyhow, remember we're going to meet
this winter in New York."

"Yes," he said, and he added suddenly:  "Perhaps we won't ever meet

"Of course we will.  They're calling me, Basil.  I've got to go.

He sat down beside the telephone, wild with grief.  The maid found
him half an hour later bowed over the kitchen table.  He knew what
had happened as well as if Minnie had told him.  He had made the
same old error, undone the behavior of three days in half an hour.
It would have been no consolation if it had occurred to him that it
was just as well.  Somewhere on the trip he would have let go and
things might have been worse--though perhaps not so sad.  His only
thought now was that she was gone.

He lay on his bed, baffled, mistaken, miserable but not beaten.
Time after time, the same vitality that had led his spirit to a
scourging made him able to shake off the blood like water not to
forget, but to carry his wounds with him to new disasters and new
atonements--toward his unknown destiny.

Two days later his mother told him that on condition of his keeping
the batteries on charge, and washing it once a week, his
grandfather had consented to let him use the electric whenever it
was idle in the afternoon.  Two hours later he was out in it,
gliding along Crest Avenue at the maximum speed permitted by the
gears and trying to lean back as if it were a Stutz Bearcat.
Imogene Bissel waved at him from in front of her house and he came
to an uncertain stop.

"You've got a car!"

"It's grandfather's," he said modestly.  "I thought you were up on
that party at the St. Croix."

She shook her head.  "Mother wouldn't let me go--only a few girls
went.  There was a big accident over in Minneapolis and mother
won't even let me ride in a car unless there's someone over
eighteen driving."

"Listen, Imogene, do you suppose your mother meant electrics?"

"Why, I never thought--I don't know.  I could go and see."

"Tell your mother it won't go over twelve miles an hour," he called
after her.

A minute later she ran joyfully down the walk.  "I can go, Basil,"
she cried.  "Mother never heard of any wrecks in an electric.
What'll we do?"

"Anything," he said in a reckless voice.  "I didn't mean that about
this bus making only twelve miles an hour--it'll make fifteen.
Listen, let's go down to Smith's and have a claret lemonade."

"Why, Basil Lee!"

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