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Roderick Hudson

Roderick Hudson

Henry James

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 Rowland

  • Mallet had made his arrangements to sail for Europe on the first of September, and having in the interval a fortnight to spare, he determined to spend i_ith his cousin Cecilia, the widow of a nephew of his father. He was urged b_he reflection that an affectionate farewell might help to exonerate him fro_he charge of neglect frequently preferred by this lady. It was not that th_oung man disliked her; on the contrary, he regarded her with a tende_dmiration, and he had not forgotten how, when his cousin had brought her hom_n her marriage, he had seemed to feel the upward sweep of the empty boug_rom which the golden fruit had been plucked, and had then and there accepte_he prospect of bachelorhood. The truth was, that, as it will be part of th_ntertainment of this narrative to exhibit, Rowland Mallet had a_ncomfortably sensitive conscience, and that, in spite of the seeming paradox, his visits to Cecilia were rare because she and her misfortunes were ofte_ppermost in it. Her misfortunes were three in number: first, she had lost he_usband; second, she had lost her money (or the greater part of it); an_hird, she lived at Northampton, Massachusetts. Mallet's compassion was reall_asted, because Cecilia was a very clever woman, and a most skillful counter- plotter to adversity. She had made herself a charming home, her economies wer_ot obtrusive, and there was always a cheerful flutter in the folds of he_rape. It was the consciousness of all this that puzzled Mallet whenever h_elt tempted to put in his oar. He had money and he had time, but he neve_ould decide just how to place these gifts gracefully at Cecilia's service. H_o longer felt like marrying her: in these eight years that fancy had died _atural death. And yet her extreme cleverness seemed somehow to make charit_ifficult and patronage impossible. He would rather chop off his hand tha_ffer her a check, a piece of useful furniture, or a black silk dress; and ye_here was some sadness in seeing such a bright, proud woman living in such _mall, dull way. Cecilia had, moreover, a turn for sarcasm, and her smile, which was her pretty feature, was never so pretty as when her sprightly phras_ad a lurking scratch in it. Rowland remembered that, for him, she was al_miles, and suspected, awkwardly, that he ministered not a little to her sens_f the irony of things. And in truth, with his means, his leisure, and hi_pportunities, what had he done? He had an unaffected suspicion of hi_selessness. Cecilia, meanwhile, cut out her own dresses, and was personall_iving her little girl the education of a princess.
  • This time, however, he presented himself bravely enough; for in the way o_ctivity it was something definite, at least, to be going to Europe and to b_eaning to spend the winter in Rome. Cecilia met him in the early dusk at th_ate of her little garden, amid a studied combination of floral perfumes. _osy widow of twenty-eight, half cousin, half hostess, doing the honors of a_dorous cottage on a midsummer evening, was a phenomenon to which the youn_an's imagination was able to do ample justice. Cecilia was always gracious, but this evening she was almost joyous. She was in a happy mood, and Malle_magined there was a private reason for it—a reason quite distinct from he_leasure in receiving her honored kinsman. The next day he flattered himsel_e was on the way to discover it.
  • For the present, after tea, as they sat on the rose-framed porch, whil_owland held his younger cousin between his knees, and she, enjoying he_ituation, listened timorously for the stroke of bedtime, Cecilia insisted o_alking more about her visitor than about herself.
  • "What is it you mean to do in Europe?" she asked, lightly, giving a turn t_he frill of her sleeve—just such a turn as seemed to Mallet to bring out al_he latent difficulties of the question.
  • "Why, very much what I do here," he answered. "No great harm."
  • "Is it true," Cecilia asked, "that here you do no great harm? Is not a ma_ike you doing harm when he is not doing positive good?"
  • "Your compliment is ambiguous," said Rowland.
  • "No," answered the widow, "you know what I think of you. You have a particula_ptitude for beneficence. You have it in the first place in your character.
  • You are a benevolent person. Ask Bessie if you don't hold her more gently an_omfortably than any of her other admirers."
  • "He holds me more comfortably than Mr. Hudson," Bessie declared, roundly.
  • Rowland, not knowing Mr. Hudson, could but half appreciate the eulogy, an_ecilia went on to develop her idea. "Your circumstances, in the second place, suggest the idea of social usefulness. You are intelligent, you are well- informed, and your charity, if one may call it charity, would b_iscriminating. You are rich and unoccupied, so that it might be abundant.
  • Therefore, I say, you are a person to do something on a large scale. Besti_ourself, dear Rowland, or we may be taught to think that virtue herself i_etting a bad example."
  • "Heaven forbid," cried Rowland, "that I should set the examples of virtue! _m quite willing to follow them, however, and if I don't do something on th_rand scale, it is that my genius is altogether imitative, and that I have no_ecently encountered any very striking models of grandeur. Pray, what shall _o? Found an orphan asylum, or build a dormitory for Harvard College? I am no_ich enough to do either in an ideally handsome way, and I confess that, ye_while, I feel too young to strike my grand coup. I am holding myself read_or inspiration. I am waiting till something takes my fancy irresistibly. I_nspiration comes at forty, it will be a hundred pities to have tied up m_oney-bag at thirty."
  • "Well, I give you till forty," said Cecilia. "It 's only a word to the wise, _otification that you are expected not to run your course without having don_omething handsome for your fellow-men."
  • Nine o'clock sounded, and Bessie, with each stroke, courted a closer embrace.
  • But a single winged word from her mother overleaped her successiv_ntrenchments. She turned and kissed her cousin, and deposited a_rrepressible tear on his moustache. Then she went and said her prayers to he_other: it was evident she was being admirably brought up. Rowland, with th_ermission of his hostess, lighted a cigar and puffed it awhile in silence.
  • Cecilia's interest in his career seemed very agreeable. That Mallet wa_ithout vanity I by no means intend to affirm; but there had been times when, seeing him accept, hardly less deferentially, advice even more peremptory tha_he widow's, you might have asked yourself what had become of his vanity. Now, in the sweet-smelling starlight, he felt gently wooed to egotism. There was _roject connected with his going abroad which it was on his tongue's end t_ommunicate. It had no relation to hospitals or dormitories, and yet it woul_ave sounded very generous. But it was not because it would have sounde_enerous that poor Mallet at last puffed it away in the fumes of his cigar.
  • Useful though it might be, it expressed most imperfectly the young man's ow_ersonal conception of usefulness. He was extremely fond of all the arts, an_e had an almost passionate enjoyment of pictures. He had seen many, and h_udged them sagaciously. It had occurred to him some time before that it woul_e the work of a good citizen to go abroad and with all expedition and secrec_urchase certain valuable specimens of the Dutch and Italian schools as t_hich he had received private proposals, and then present his treasures out o_and to an American city, not unknown to aesthetic fame, in which at that tim_here prevailed a good deal of fruitless aspiration toward an art-museum. H_ad seen himself in imagination, more than once, in some mouldy old saloon o_ Florentine palace, turning toward the deep embrasure of the window som_carcely-faded Ghirlandaio or Botticelli, while a host in reduce_ircumstances pointed out the lovely drawing of a hand. But he imparted non_f these visions to Cecilia, and he suddenly swept them away with th_eclaration that he was of course an idle, useless creature, and that he woul_robably be even more so in Europe than at home. "The only thing is," he said,
  • "that there I shall seem to be doing something. I shall be better entertained, and shall be therefore, I suppose, in a better humor with life. You may sa_hat that is just the humor a useless man should keep out of. He shoul_ultivate discontentment. I did a good many things when I was in Europ_efore, but I did not spend a winter in Rome. Every one assures me that thi_s a peculiar refinement of bliss; most people talk about Rome in the sam_ay. It is evidently only a sort of idealized form of loafing: a passive lif_n Rome, thanks to the number and the quality of one's impressions, takes on _ery respectable likeness to activity. It is still lotus-eating, only you si_own at table, and the lotuses are served up on rococo china. It 's all ver_ell, but I have a distinct prevision of this—that if Roman life does n't d_omething substantial to make you happier, it increases tenfold your liabilit_o moral misery. It seems to me a rash thing for a sensitive soul deliberatel_o cultivate its sensibilities by rambling too often among the ruins of th_alatine, or riding too often in the shadow of the aqueducts. In suc_ecreations the chords of feeling grow tense, and after-life, to spare you_ntellectual nerves, must play upon them with a touch as dainty as the trea_f Mignon when she danced her egg-dance."
  • "I should have said, my dear Rowland," said Cecilia, with a laugh, "that you_erves were tough, that your eggs were hard!"
  • "That being stupid, you mean, I might be happy? Upon my word I am not. I a_lever enough to want more than I 've got. I am tired of myself, my ow_houghts, my own affairs, my own eternal company. True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one's self; but the point is not only to ge_ut—you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.
  • Unfortunately, I 've got no errand, and nobody will trust me with one. I wan_o care for something, or for some one. And I want to care with a certai_rdor; even, if you can believe it, with a certain passion. I can't just no_eel ardent and passionate about a hospital or a dormitory. Do you know _ometimes think that I 'm a man of genius, half finished? The genius has bee_eft out, the faculty of expression is wanting; but the need for expressio_emains, and I spend my days groping for the latch of a closed door."
  • "What an immense number of words," said Cecilia after a pause, "to say yo_ant to fall in love! I 've no doubt you have as good a genius for that as an_ne, if you would only trust it."
  • "Of course I 've thought of that, and I assure you I hold myself ready. But, evidently, I 'm not inflammable. Is there in Northampton some perfect epitom_f the graces?"
  • "Of the graces?" said Cecilia, raising her eyebrows and suppressing to_istinct a consciousness of being herself a rosy embodiment of several. "Th_ousehold virtues are better represented. There are some excellent girls, an_here are two or three very pretty ones. I will have them here, one by one, t_ea, if you like."
  • "I should particularly like it; especially as I should give you a chance t_ee, by the profundity of my attention, that if I am not happy, it 's not fo_ant of taking pains."
  • Cecilia was silent a moment; and then, "On the whole," she resumed, "I don'_hink there are any worth asking. There are none so very pretty, none so ver_leasing."
  • "Are you very sure?" asked the young man, rising and throwing away his cigar- end.
  • "Upon my word," cried Cecilia, "one would suppose I wished to keep you fo_yself. Of course I am sure! But as the penalty of your insinuations, I shal_nvite the plainest and prosiest damsel that can be found, and leave you alon_ith her."
  • Rowland smiled. "Even against her," he said, "I should be sorry to conclud_ntil I had given her my respectful attention."
  • This little profession of ideal chivalry (which closed the conversation) wa_ot quite so fanciful on Mallet's lips as it would have been on those of man_nother man; as a rapid glance at his antecedents may help to make the reade_erceive. His life had been a singular mixture of the rough and the smooth. H_ad sprung from a rigid Puritan stock, and had been brought up to think muc_ore intently of the duties of this life than of its privileges and pleasures.
  • His progenitors had submitted in the matter of dogmatic theology to th_elaxing influences of recent years; but if Rowland's youthful consciousnes_as not chilled by the menace of long punishment for brief transgression, h_ad at least been made to feel that there ran through all things a strain o_ight and of wrong, as different, after all, in their complexions, as th_exture, to the spiritual sense, of Sundays and week-days. His father was _hip of the primal Puritan block, a man with an icy smile and a stony frown.
  • He had always bestowed on his son, on principle, more frowns than smiles, an_f the lad had not been turned to stone himself, it was because nature ha_lessed him, inwardly, with a well of vivifying waters. Mrs. Mallet had been _iss Rowland, the daughter of a retired sea-captain, once famous on the ship_hat sailed from Salem and Newburyport. He had brought to port many a carg_hich crowned the edifice of fortunes already almost colossal, but he had als_one a little sagacious trading on his own account, and he was able to retire, prematurely for so sea-worthy a maritime organism, upon a pension of his ow_roviding. He was to be seen for a year on the Salem wharves, smoking the bes_obacco and eying the seaward horizon with an inveteracy which superficia_inds interpreted as a sign of repentance. At last, one evening, h_isappeared beneath it, as he had often done before; this time, however, no_s a commissioned navigator, but simply as an amateur of an observing tur_ikely to prove oppressive to the officer in command of the vessel. Fiv_onths later his place at home knew him again, and made the acquaintance als_f a handsome, blonde young woman, of redundant contours, speaking a foreig_ongue. The foreign tongue proved, after much conflicting research, to be th_diom of Amsterdam, and the young woman, which was stranger still, to b_aptain Rowland's wife. Why he had gone forth so suddenly across the seas t_arry her, what had happened between them before, and whether—though it was o_uestionable propriety for a good citizen to espouse a young person o_ysterious origin, who did her hair in fantastically elaborate plaits, and i_hose appearance "figure" enjoyed such striking predominance—he would not hav_ad a heavy weight on his conscience if he had remained an irresponsibl_achelor; these questions and many others, bearing with varying degrees o_mmediacy on the subject, were much propounded but scantily answered, and thi_istory need not be charged with resolving them. Mrs. Rowland, for so handsom_ woman, proved a tranquil neighbor and an excellent housewife. Her extremel_resh complexion, however, was always suffused with an air of apatheti_omesickness, and she played her part in American society chiefly by havin_he little squares of brick pavement in front of her dwelling scoured an_olished as nearly as possible into the likeness of Dutch tiles. Rowlan_allet remembered having seen her, as a child—an immensely stout, white-face_ady, wearing a high cap of very stiff tulle, speaking English with _ormidable accent, and suffering from dropsy. Captain Rowland was a littl_ronzed and wizened man, with eccentric opinions. He advocated the creation o_ public promenade along the sea, with arbors and little green tables for th_onsumption of beer, and a platform, surrounded by Chinese lanterns, fo_ancing. He especially desired the town library to be opened on Sundays, though, as he never entered it on week-days, it was easy to turn th_roposition into ridicule. If, therefore, Mrs. Mallet was a woman of a_xquisite moral tone, it was not that she had inherited her temper from a_ncestry with a turn for casuistry. Jonas Mallet, at the time of his marriage, was conducting with silent shrewdness a small, unpromising business. Both hi_hrewdness and his silence increased with his years, and at the close of hi_ife he was an extremely well-dressed, well-brushed gentleman, with a frigi_ray eye, who said little to anybody, but of whom everybody said that he had _ery handsome fortune. He was not a sentimental father, and the roughness _ust now spoke of in Rowland's life dated from his early boyhood. Mr. Mallet, whenever he looked at his son, felt extreme compunction at having made _ortune. He remembered that the fruit had not dropped ripe from the tree int_is own mouth, and determined it should be no fault of his if the boy wa_orrupted by luxury. Rowland, therefore, except for a good deal of expensiv_nstruction in foreign tongues and abstruse sciences, received the educatio_f a poor man's son. His fare was plain, his temper familiar with th_iscipline of patched trousers, and his habits marked by an exaggerate_implicity which it really cost a good deal of money to preserve unbroken. H_as kept in the country for months together, in the midst of servants who ha_trict injunctions to see that he suffered no serious harm, but were a_trictly forbidden to wait upon him. As no school could be found conducted o_rinciples sufficiently rigorous, he was attended at home by a master who se_ high price on the understanding that he was to illustrate the beauty o_bstinence not only by precept but by example. Rowland passed for a child o_rdinary parts, and certainly, during his younger years, was an excellen_mitation of a boy who had inherited nothing whatever that was to make lif_asy. He was passive, pliable, frank, extremely slow at his books, an_nordinately fond of trout-fishing. His hair, a memento of his Dutch ancestry, was of the fairest shade of yellow, his complexion absurdly rosy, and hi_easurement around the waist, when he was about ten years old, quit_larmingly large. This, however, was but an episode in his growth; he becam_fterwards a fresh-colored, yellow-bearded man, but he was never accused o_nything worse than a tendency to corpulence. He emerged from childhood _imple, wholesome, round-eyed lad, with no suspicion that a less roundabou_ourse might have been taken to make him happy, but with a vague sense tha_is young experience was not a fair sample of human freedom, and that he wa_o make a great many discoveries. When he was about fifteen, he achieved _omentous one. He ascertained that his mother was a saint. She had always bee_ very distinct presence in his life, but so ineffably gentle a one that hi_ense was fully opened to it only by the danger of losing her. She had a_llness which for many months was liable at any moment to terminate fatally, and during her long-arrested convalescence she removed the mask which she ha_orn for years by her husband's order. Rowland spent his days at her side an_elt before long as if he had made a new friend. All his impressions at thi_eriod were commented and interpreted at leisure in the future, and it wa_nly then that he understood that his mother had been for fifteen years _erfectly unhappy woman. Her marriage had been an immitigable error which sh_ad spent her life in trying to look straight in the face. She found nothin_o oppose to her husband's will of steel but the appearance of absolut_ompliance; her spirit sank, and she lived for a while in a sort of helples_oral torpor. But at last, as her child emerged from babyhood, she began t_eel a certain charm in patience, to discover the uses of ingenuity, and t_earn that, somehow or other, one can always arrange one's life. Sh_ultivated from this time forward a little private plot of sentiment, and i_as of this secluded precinct that, before her death, she gave her son th_ey. Rowland's allowance at college was barely sufficient to maintain hi_ecently, and as soon as he graduated, he was taken into his father'_ounting-house, to do small drudgery on a proportionate salary. For thre_ears he earned his living as regularly as the obscure functionary in fustia_ho swept the office. Mr. Mallet was consistent, but the perfection of hi_onsistency was known only on his death. He left but a third of his propert_o his son, and devoted the remainder to various public institutions and loca_harities. Rowland's third was an easy competence, and he never felt _oment's jealousy of his fellow-pensioners; but when one of the establishment_hich had figured most advantageously in his father's will bethought itself t_ffirm the existence of a later instrument, in which it had been still mor_andsomely treated, the young man felt a sudden passionate need to repel th_laim by process of law. There was a lively tussle, but he gained his case; immediately after which he made, in another quarter, a donation of th_ontested sum. He cared nothing for the money, but he had felt an angry desir_o protest against a destiny which seemed determined to be exclusivel_alutary. It seemed to him that he would bear a little spoiling. And yet h_reated himself to a very modest quantity, and submitted without reserve t_he great national discipline which began in 1861\. When the Civil War brok_ut he immediately obtained a commission, and did his duty for three lon_ears as a citizen soldier. His duty was obscure, but he never lost a certai_rivate satisfaction in remembering that on two or three occasions it had bee_erformed with something of an ideal precision. He had disentangled himsel_rom business, and after the war he felt a profound disinclination to tie th_not again. He had no desire to make money, he had money enough; and althoug_e knew, and was frequently reminded, that a young man is the better for _ixed occupation, he could discover no moral advantage in driving a lucrativ_rade. Yet few young men of means and leisure ever made less of a parade o_dleness, and indeed idleness in any degree could hardly be laid at the doo_f a young man who took life in the serious, attentive, reasoning fashion o_ur friend. It often seemed to Mallet that he wholly lacked the prim_equisite of a graceful flaneur—the simple, sensuous, confident relish o_leasure. He had frequent fits of extreme melancholy, in which he declare_hat he was neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring. He was neither a_rresponsibly contemplative nature nor a sturdily practical one, and he wa_orever looking in vain for the uses of the things that please and the char_f the things that sustain. He was an awkward mixture of strong moral impuls_nd restless aesthetic curiosity, and yet he would have made a mos_neffective reformer and a very indifferent artist. It seemed to him that th_low of happiness must be found either in action, of some immensely soli_ind, on behalf of an idea, or in producing a masterpiece in one of the arts.
  • Oftenest, perhaps, he wished he were a vigorous young man of genius, without _enny. As it was, he could only buy pictures, and not paint them; and in th_ay of action, he had to content himself with making a rule to rende_crupulous moral justice to handsome examples of it in others. On the whole, he had an incorruptible modesty. With his blooming complexion and his seren_ray eye, he felt the friction of existence more than was suspected; but h_sked no allowance on grounds of temper, he assumed that fate had treated hi_nordinately well and that he had no excuse for taking an ill-natured view o_ife, and he undertook constantly to believe that all women were fair, all me_ere brave, and the world was a delightful place of sojourn, until th_ontrary had been distinctly proved.
  • Cecilia's blooming garden and shady porch had seemed so friendly to repose an_ cigar, that she reproached him the next morning with indifference to he_ittle parlor, not less, in its way, a monument to her ingenious taste. "An_y the way," she added as he followed her in, "if I refused last night to sho_ou a pretty girl, I can at least show you a pretty boy."
  • She threw open a window and pointed to a statuette which occupied the place o_onor among the ornaments of the room. Rowland looked at it a moment and the_urned to her with an exclamation of surprise. She gave him a rapid glance, perceived that her statuette was of altogether exceptional merit, and the_miled, knowingly, as if this had long been an agreeable certainty.
  • "Who did it? where did you get it?" Rowland demanded.
  • "Oh," said Cecilia, adjusting the light, "it 's a little thing of Mr.
  • Hudson's."
  • "And who the deuce is Mr. Hudson?" asked Rowland. But he was absorbed; he los_er immediate reply. The statuette, in bronze, something less than two fee_igh, represented a naked youth drinking from a gourd. The attitude wa_erfectly simple. The lad was squarely planted on his feet, with his legs _ittle apart; his back was slightly hollowed, his head thrown back, and bot_ands raised to support the rustic cup. There was a loosened fillet of wil_lowers about his head, and his eyes, under their drooped lids, looke_traight into the cup. On the base was scratched the Greek word ;aa;gD;gi;gc;ga, Thirst. The figure might have been some beautiful youth o_ncient fable,—Hylas or Narcissus, Paris or Endymion. Its beauty was th_eauty of natural movement; nothing had been sought to be represented but th_erfection of an attitude. This had been most attentively studied, and it wa_xquisitely rendered. Rowland demanded more light, dropped his head on thi_ide and that, uttered vague exclamations. He said to himself, as he had sai_ore than once in the Louvre and the Vatican, "We ugly mortals, what beautifu_reatures we are!" Nothing, in a long time, had given him so much pleasure.
  • "Hudson—Hudson," he asked again; "who is Hudson?"
  • "A young man of this place," said Cecilia.
  • "A young man? How old?"
  • "I suppose he is three or four and twenty."
  • "Of this place, you say—of Northampton, Massachusetts?"
  • "He lives here, but he comes from Virginia."
  • "Is he a sculptor by profession?"
  • "He 's a law-student."
  • Rowland burst out laughing. "He has found something in Blackstone that I neve_id. He makes statues then simply for his pleasure?"
  • Cecilia, with a smile, gave a little toss of her head. "For mine!"
  • "I congratulate you," said Rowland. "I wonder whether he could be induced t_o anything for me?"
  • "This was a matter of friendship. I saw the figure when he had modeled it i_lay, and of course greatly admired it. He said nothing at the time, but _eek ago, on my birthday, he arrived in a buggy, with this. He had had it cas_t the foundry at Chicopee; I believe it 's a beautiful piece of bronze. H_egged me to accept."
  • "Upon my word," said Mallet, "he does things handsomely!" And he fell t_dmiring the statue again.
  • "So then," said Cecilia, "it 's very remarkable?"
  • "Why, my dear cousin," Rowland answered, "Mr. Hudson, of Virginia, is a_xtraordinary—" Then suddenly stopping: "Is he a great friend of yours?" h_sked.
  • "A great friend?" and Cecilia hesitated. "I regard him as a child!"
  • "Well," said Rowland, "he 's a very clever child. Tell me something about him: I should like to see him."
  • Cecilia was obliged to go to her daughter's music-lesson, but she assure_owland that she would arrange for him a meeting with the young sculptor. H_as a frequent visitor, and as he had not called for some days it was likel_e would come that evening. Rowland, left alone, examined the statuette at hi_eisure, and returned more than once during the day to take another look a_t. He discovered its weak points, but it wore well. It had the stamp o_enius. Rowland envied the happy youth who, in a New England village, withou_id or encouragement, without models or resources, had found it so easy t_roduce a lovely work.
  • In the evening, as he was smoking his cigar on the veranda, a light, quic_tep pressed the gravel of the garden path, and in a moment a young man mad_is bow to Cecilia. It was rather a nod than a bow, and indicated either tha_e was an old friend, or that he was scantily versed in the usual socia_orms. Cecilia, who was sitting near the steps, pointed to a neighborin_hair, but the young man seated himself abruptly on the floor at her feet, began to fan himself vigorously with his hat, and broke out into a livel_bjurgation upon the hot weather. "I 'm dripping wet!" he said, withou_eremony.
  • "You walk too fast," said Cecilia. "You do everything too fast."
  • "I know it, I know it!" he cried, passing his hand through his abundant dar_air and making it stand out in a picturesque shock. "I can't be slow if _ry. There 's something inside of me that drives me. A restless fiend!"
  • Cecilia gave a light laugh, and Rowland leaned forward in his hammock. He ha_laced himself in it at Bessie's request, and was playing that he was her bab_nd that she was rocking him to sleep. She sat beside him, swinging th_ammock to and fro, and singing a lullaby. When he raised himself she pushe_im back and said that the baby must finish its nap. "But I want to see th_entleman with the fiend inside of him," said Rowland.
  • "What is a fiend?" Bessie demanded. "It 's only Mr. Hudson."
  • "Very well, I want to see him."
  • "Oh, never mind him!" said Bessie, with the brevity of contempt.
  • "You speak as if you did n't like him."
  • "I don't!" Bessie affirmed, and put Rowland to bed again.
  • The hammock was swung at the end of the veranda, in the thickest shade of th_ines, and this fragment of dialogue had passed unnoticed. Rowland submitted _hile longer to be cradled, and contented himself with listening to Mr.
  • Hudson's voice. It was a soft and not altogether masculine organ, and wa_itched on this occasion in a somewhat plaintive and pettish key. The youn_an's mood seemed fretful; he complained of the heat, of the dust, of a sho_hat hurt him, of having gone on an errand a mile to the other side of th_own and found the person he was in search of had left Northampton an hou_efore.
  • "Won't you have a cup of tea?" Cecilia asked. "Perhaps that will restore you_quanimity."
  • "Aye, by keeping me awake all night!" said Hudson. "At the best, it 's har_nough to go down to the office. With my nerves set on edge by a sleeples_ight, I should perforce stay at home and be brutal to my poor mother."
  • "Your mother is well, I hope."
  • "Oh, she 's as usual."
  • "And Miss Garland?"
  • "She 's as usual, too. Every one, everything, is as usual. Nothing eve_appens, in this benighted town."
  • "I beg your pardon; things do happen, sometimes," said Cecilia. "Here is _ear cousin of mine arrived on purpose to congratulate you on your statuette."
  • And she called to Rowland to come and be introduced to Mr. Hudson. The youn_an sprang up with alacrity, and Rowland, coming forward to shake hands, had _ood look at him in the light projected from the parlor window. Somethin_eemed to shine out of Hudson's face as a warning against a "compliment" o_he idle, unpondered sort.
  • "Your statuette seems to me very good," Rowland said gravely. "It has given m_xtreme pleasure."
  • "And my cousin knows what is good," said Cecilia. "He 's a connoisseur."
  • Hudson smiled and stared. "A connoisseur?" he cried, laughing. "He 's th_irst I 've ever seen! Let me see what they look like;" and he drew Rowlan_earer to the light. "Have they all such good heads as that? I should like t_odel yours."
  • "Pray do," said Cecilia. "It will keep him a while. He is running off t_urope."
  • "Ah, to Europe!" Hudson exclaimed with a melancholy cadence, as they sat down.
  • "Happy man!"
  • But the note seemed to Rowland to be struck rather at random, for he perceive_o echo of it in the boyish garrulity of his later talk. Hudson was a tall, slender young fellow, with a singularly mobile and intelligent face. Rowlan_as struck at first only with its responsive vivacity, but in a short time h_erceived it was remarkably handsome. The features were admirably chiseled an_inished, and a frank smile played over them as gracefully as a breeze amon_lowers. The fault of the young man's whole structure was an excessive want o_readth. The forehead, though it was high and rounded, was narrow; the jaw an_he shoulders were narrow; and the result was an air of insufficient physica_ubstance. But Mallet afterwards learned that this fair, slim youth could dra_ndefinitely upon a mysterious fund of nervous force, which outlasted an_utwearied the endurance of many a sturdier temperament. And certainly ther_as life enough in his eye to furnish an immortality! It was a generous dar_ray eye, in which there came and went a sort of kindling glow, which woul_ave made a ruder visage striking, and which gave at times to Hudson'_armonious face an altogether extraordinary beauty. There was to Rowland'_ympathetic sense a slightly pitiful disparity between the young sculptor'_elicate countenance and the shabby gentility of his costume. He was dresse_or a visit—a visit to a pretty woman. He was clad from head to foot in _hite linen suit, which had never been remarkable for the felicity of its cut, and had now quite lost that crispness which garments of this complexion can a_ll spare as the back-scene of a theatre the radiance of the footlights. H_ore a vivid blue cravat, passed through a ring altogether too splendid to b_aluable; he pulled and twisted, as he sat, a pair of yellow kid gloves; h_mphasized his conversation with great dashes and flourishes of a light, silver-tipped walking-stick, and he kept constantly taking off and putting o_ne of those slouched sombreros which are the traditional property of th_irginian or Carolinian of romance. When this was on, he was very picturesque, in spite of his mock elegance; and when it was off, and he sat nursing it an_urning it about and not knowing what to do with it, he could hardly be sai_o be awkward. He evidently had a natural relish for brilliant accessories, and appropriated what came to his hand. This was visible in his talk, whic_bounded in the florid and sonorous. He liked words with color in them.
  • Rowland, who was but a moderate talker, sat by in silence, while Cecilia, wh_ad told him that she desired his opinion upon her friend, used a good deal o_haracteristic finesse in leading the young man to expose himself. Sh_erfectly succeeded, and Hudson rattled away for an hour with a volubility i_hich boyish unconsciousness and manly shrewdness were singularly combined. H_ave his opinion on twenty topics, he opened up an endless budget of loca_ossip, he described his repulsive routine at the office of Messrs. Strike_nd Spooner, counselors at law, and he gave with great felicity and gusto a_ccount of the annual boat-race between Harvard and Yale, which he had latel_itnessed at Worcester. He had looked at the straining oarsmen and the swayin_rowd with the eye of the sculptor. Rowland was a good deal amused and not _ittle interested. Whenever Hudson uttered some peculiarly striking piece o_outhful grandiloquence, Cecilia broke into a long, light, familiar laugh.
  • "What are you laughing at?" the young man then demanded. "Have I said anythin_o ridiculous?"
  • "Go on, go on," Cecilia replied. "You are too delicious! Show Mr. Mallet ho_r. Striker read the Declaration of Independence."
  • Hudson, like most men with a turn for the plastic arts, was an excellen_imic, and he represented with a great deal of humor the accent and attitud_f a pompous country lawyer sustaining the burden of this customary episode o_ur national festival. The sonorous twang, the see-saw gestures, the od_ronunciation, were vividly depicted. But Cecilia's manner, and the youn_an's quick response, ruffled a little poor Rowland's paternal conscience. H_ondered whether his cousin was not sacrificing the faculty of reverence i_er clever protege to her need for amusement. Hudson made no serious rejoinde_o Rowland's compliment on his statuette until he rose to go. Rowland wondere_hether he had forgotten it, and supposed that the oversight was a sign of th_atural self-sufficiency of genius. But Hudson stood a moment before he sai_ood night, twirled his sombrero, and hesitated for the first time. He gav_owland a clear, penetrating glance, and then, with a wonderfully frank, appealing smile: "You really meant," he asked, "what you said a while ag_bout that thing of mine? It is good—essentially good?"
  • "I really meant it," said Rowland, laying a kindly hand on his shoulder. "I_s very good indeed. It is, as you say, essentially good. That is the beaut_f it."
  • Hudson's eyes glowed and expanded; he looked at Rowland for some time i_ilence. "I have a notion you really know," he said at last. "But if yo_on't, it does n't much matter."
  • "My cousin asked me to-day," said Cecilia, "whether I supposed you kne_ourself how good it is."
  • Hudson stared, blushing a little. "Perhaps not!" he cried.
  • "Very likely," said Mallet. "I read in a book the other day that great talen_n action—in fact the book said genius—is a kind of somnambulism. The artis_erforms great feats, in a dream. We must not wake him up, lest he should los_is balance."
  • "Oh, when he 's back in bed again!" Hudson answered with a laugh. "Yes, cal_t a dream. It was a very happy one!"
  • "Tell me this," said Rowland. "Did you mean anything by your young Water- drinker? Does he represent an idea? Is he a symbol?"
  • Hudson raised his eyebrows and gently scratched his head. "Why, he 's youth, you know; he 's innocence, he 's health, he 's strength, he 's curiosity. Yes, he 's a good many things."
  • "And is the cup also a symbol?"
  • "The cup is knowledge, pleasure, experience. Anything of that kind!"
  • "Well, he 's guzzling in earnest," said Rowland.
  • Hudson gave a vigorous nod. "Aye, poor fellow, he 's thirsty!" And on this h_ried good night, and bounded down the garden path.
  • "Well, what do you make of him?" asked Cecilia, returning a short tim_fterwards from a visit of investigation as to the sufficiency of Bessie'_edclothes.
  • "I confess I like him," said Rowland. "He 's very immature,—but there 's stuf_n him."
  • "He 's a strange being," said Cecilia, musingly.
  • "Who are his people? what has been his education?" Rowland asked.
  • "He has had no education, beyond what he has picked up, with little trouble, for himself. His mother is a widow, of a Massachusetts country family, _ittle timid, tremulous woman, who is always on pins and needles about he_on. She had some property herself, and married a Virginian gentleman of goo_states. He turned out, I believe, a very licentious personage, and made grea_avoc in their fortune. Everything, or almost everything, melted away, including Mr. Hudson himself. This is literally true, for he drank himself t_eath. Ten years ago his wife was left a widow, with scanty means and a coupl_f growing boys. She paid her husband's debts as best she could, and came t_stablish herself here, where by the death of a charitable relative she ha_nherited an old-fashioned ruinous house. Roderick, our friend, was her prid_nd joy, but Stephen, the elder, was her comfort and support. I remember him, later; he was an ugly, sturdy, practical lad, very different from his brother, and in his way, I imagine, a very fine fellow. When the war broke out he foun_hat the New England blood ran thicker in his veins than the Virginian, an_mmediately obtained a commission. He fell in some Western battle and left hi_other inconsolable. Roderick, however, has given her plenty to think about, and she has induced him, by some mysterious art, to abide, nominally at least, in a profession that he abhors, and for which he is about as fit, I shoul_ay, as I am to drive a locomotive. He grew up a la grace de Dieu, and wa_orribly spoiled. Three or four years ago he graduated at a small college i_his neighborhood, where I am afraid he had given a good deal more attentio_o novels and billiards than to mathematics and Greek. Since then he has bee_eading law, at the rate of a page a day. If he is ever admitted to practice I
  • 'm afraid my friendship won't avail to make me give him my business. Good, bad, or indifferent, the boy is essentially an artist—an artist to hi_ingers' ends."
  • "Why, then," asked Rowland, "does n't he deliberately take up the chisel?"
  • "For several reasons. In the first place, I don't think he more than hal_uspects his talent. The flame is smouldering, but it is never fanned by th_reath of criticism. He sees nothing, hears nothing, to help him to self- knowledge. He 's hopelessly discontented, but he does n't know where to loo_or help. Then his mother, as she one day confessed to me, has a holy horro_f a profession which consists exclusively, as she supposes, in making figure_f people without their clothes on. Sculpture, to her mind, is an insidiou_orm of immorality, and for a young man of a passionate disposition sh_onsiders the law a much safer investment. Her father was a judge, she has tw_rothers at the bar, and her elder son had made a very promising beginning i_he same line. She wishes the tradition to be perpetuated. I 'm pretty sur_he law won't make Roderick's fortune, and I 'm afraid it will, in the lon_un, spoil his temper."
  • "What sort of a temper is it?"
  • "One to be trusted, on the whole. It is quick, but it is generous. I hav_nown it to breathe flame and fury at ten o'clock in the evening, and soft, sweet music early on the morrow. It 's a very entertaining temper to observe.
  • I, fortunately, can do so dispassionately, for I 'm the only person in th_lace he has not quarreled with."
  • "Has he then no society? Who is Miss Garland, whom you asked about?"
  • "A young girl staying with his mother, a sort of far-away cousin; a good plai_irl, but not a person to delight a sculptor's eye. Roderick has a goodl_hare of the old Southern arrogance; he has the aristocratic temperament. H_ill have nothing to do with the small towns-people; he says they 're
  • 'ignoble.' He cannot endure his mother's friends—the old ladies and th_inisters and the tea-party people; they bore him to death. So he comes an_ounges here and rails at everything and every one."
  • This graceful young scoffer reappeared a couple of evenings later, an_onfirmed the friendly feeling he had provoked on Rowland's part. He was in a_asier mood than before, he chattered less extravagantly, and asked Rowland _umber of rather naif questions about the condition of the fine arts in Ne_ork and Boston. Cecilia, when he had gone, said that this was the wholesom_ffect of Rowland's praise of his statuette. Roderick was acutely sensitive, and Rowland's tranquil commendation had stilled his restless pulses. He wa_uminating the full-flavored verdict of culture. Rowland felt an irresistibl_indness for him, a mingled sense of his personal charm and his artisti_apacity. He had an indefinable attraction—the something divine of unspotted, exuberant, confident youth. The next day was Sunday, and Rowland proposed tha_hey should take a long walk and that Roderick should show him the country.
  • The young man assented gleefully, and in the morning, as Rowland at the garde_ate was giving his hostess Godspeed on her way to church, he came stridin_long the grassy margin of the road and out-whistling the music of the churc_ells. It was one of those lovely days of August when you feel the complet_xuberance of summer just warned and checked by autumn. "Remember the day, an_ake care you rob no orchards," said Cecilia, as they separated.
  • The young men walked away at a steady pace, over hill and dale, through wood_nd fields, and at last found themselves on a grassy elevation studded wit_ossy rocks and red cedars. Just beneath them, in a great shining curve, flowed the goodly Connecticut. They flung themselves on the grass and tosse_tones into the river; they talked like old friends. Rowland lit a cigar, an_oderick refused one with a grimace of extravagant disgust. He thought the_ile things; he did n't see how decent people could tolerate them. Rowland wa_mused, and wondered what it was that made this ill-mannered speech see_erfectly inoffensive on Roderick's lips. He belonged to the race of mortals, to be pitied or envied according as we view the matter, who are not held to _trict account for their aggressions. Looking at him as he lay stretched i_he shade, Rowland vaguely likened him to some beautiful, supple, restless, bright-eyed animal, whose motions should have no deeper warrant than th_remulous delicacy of its structure, and be graceful even when they were mos_nconvenient. Rowland watched the shadows on Mount Holyoke, listened to th_urgle of the river, and sniffed the balsam of the pines. A gentle breeze ha_egun to tickle their summits, and brought the smell of the mown grass acros_rom the elm-dotted river meadows. He sat up beside his companion and looke_way at the far-spreading view. It seemed to him beautiful, and suddenly _trange feeling of prospective regret took possession of him. Something seeme_o tell him that later, in a foreign land, he would remember it lovingly an_enitently.
  • "It 's a wretched business," he said, "this practical quarrel of ours with ou_wn country, this everlasting impatience to get out of it. Is one's onl_afety then in flight? This is an American day, an American landscape, a_merican atmosphere. It certainly has its merits, and some day when I a_hivering with ague in classic Italy, I shall accuse myself of having slighte_hem."
  • Roderick kindled with a sympathetic glow, and declared that America was goo_nough for him, and that he had always thought it the duty of an hones_itizen to stand by his own country and help it along. He had evidentl_hought nothing whatever about it, and was launching his doctrine on th_nspiration of the moment. The doctrine expanded with the occasion, and h_eclared that he was above all an advocate for American art. He did n't se_hy we should n't produce the greatest works in the world. We were the bigges_eople, and we ought to have the biggest conceptions. The biggest conception_f course would bring forth in time the biggest performances. We had only t_e true to ourselves, to pitch in and not be afraid, to fling Imitatio_verboard and fix our eyes upon our National Individuality. "I declare," h_ried, "there 's a career for a man, and I 've twenty minds to decide, on th_pot, to embrace it—to be the consummate, typical, original, national America_rtist! It 's inspiring!"
  • Rowland burst out laughing and told him that he liked his practice better tha_is theory, and that a saner impulse than this had inspired his little Water- drinker. Roderick took no offense, and three minutes afterwards was talkin_olubly of some humbler theme, but half heeded by his companion, who ha_eturned to his cogitations. At last Rowland delivered himself of the upsho_f these. "How would you like," he suddenly demanded, "to go to Rome?"
  • Hudson stared, and, with a hungry laugh which speedily consigned our Nationa_ndividuality to perdition, responded that he would like it reasonably well.
  • "And I should like, by the same token," he added, "to go to Athens, t_onstantinople, to Damascus, to the holy city of Benares, where there is _olden statue of Brahma twenty feet tall."
  • "Nay," said Rowland soberly, "if you were to go to Rome, you should settl_own and work. Athens might help you, but for the present I should n'_ecommend Benares."
  • "It will be time to arrange details when I pack my trunk," said Hudson.
  • "If you mean to turn sculptor, the sooner you pack your trunk the better."
  • "Oh, but I 'm a practical man! What is the smallest sum per annum, on whic_ne can keep alive the sacred fire in Rome?"
  • "What is the largest sum at your disposal?"
  • Roderick stroked his light moustache, gave it a twist, and then announced wit_ock pomposity: "Three hundred dollars!"
  • "The money question could be arranged," said Rowland. "There are ways o_aising money."
  • "I should like to know a few! I never yet discovered one."
  • "One consists," said Rowland, "in having a friend with a good deal more tha_e wants, and not being too proud to accept a part of it."
  • Roderick stared a moment and his face flushed. "Do you mean—do you mean?"… .
  • he stammered. He was greatly excited.
  • Rowland got up, blushing a little, and Roderick sprang to his feet. "In thre_ords, if you are to be a sculptor, you ought to go to Rome and study th_ntique. To go to Rome you need money. I 'm fond of fine statues, bu_nfortunately I can't make them myself. I have to order them. I order a doze_rom you, to be executed at your convenience. To help you, I pay you i_dvance."
  • Roderick pushed off his hat and wiped his forehead, still gazing at hi_ompanion. "You believe in me!" he cried at last.
  • "Allow me to explain," said Rowland. "I believe in you, if you are prepared t_ork and to wait, and to struggle, and to exercise a great many virtues. An_hen, I 'm afraid to say it, lest I should disturb you more than I should hel_ou. You must decide for yourself. I simply offer you an opportunity."
  • Hudson stood for some time, profoundly meditative. "You have not seen my othe_hings," he said suddenly. "Come and look at them."
  • "Now?"
  • "Yes, we 'll walk home. We 'll settle the question."
  • He passed his hand through Rowland's arm and they retraced their steps. The_eached the town and made their way along a broad country street, dusky wit_he shade of magnificent elms. Rowland felt his companion's arm trembling i_is own. They stopped at a large white house, flanked with melanchol_emlocks, and passed through a little front garden, paved with moss-coate_ricks and ornamented with parterres bordered with high box hedges. Th_ansion had an air of antiquated dignity, but it had seen its best days, an_vidently sheltered a shrunken household. Mrs. Hudson, Rowland was sure, migh_e seen in the garden of a morning, in a white apron and a pair of old gloves, engaged in frugal horticulture. Roderick's studio was behind, in the basement; a large, empty room, with the paper peeling off the walls. This represented, in the fashion of fifty years ago, a series of small fantastic landscapes of _ideous pattern, and the young sculptor had presumably torn it away in grea_craps, in moments of aesthetic exasperation. On a board in a corner was _eap of clay, and on the floor, against the wall, stood some dozen medallions, busts, and figures, in various stages of completion. To exhibit them Roderic_ad to place them one by one on the end of a long packing-box, which served a_ pedestal. He did so silently, making no explanations, and looking at the_imself with a strange air of quickened curiosity. Most of the things wer_ortraits; and the three at which he looked longest were finished busts. On_as a colossal head of a negro, tossed back, defiant, with distended nostrils; one was the portrait of a young man whom Rowland immediately perceived, by th_esemblance, to be his deceased brother; the last represented a gentleman wit_ pointed nose, a long, shaved upper lip, and a tuft on the end of his chin.
  • This was a face peculiarly unadapted to sculpture; but as a piece of modelin_t was the best, and it was admirable. It reminded Rowland in its homel_eracity, its artless artfulness, of the works of the early Italia_enaissance. On the pedestal was cut the name—Barnaby Striker, Esq. Rowlan_emembered that this was the appellation of the legal luminary from whom hi_ompanion had undertaken to borrow a reflected ray, and although in the bus_here was naught flagrantly set down in malice, it betrayed, comically to on_ho could relish the secret, that the features of the original had often bee_canned with an irritated eye. Besides these there were several rough studie_f the nude, and two or three figures of a fanciful kind. The most noticeable (and it had singular beauty) was a small modeled design for a sepulchra_onument; that, evidently, of Stephen Hudson. The young soldier lay sleepin_ternally, with his hand on his sword, like an old crusader in a Gothi_athedral.
  • Rowland made no haste to pronounce; too much depended on his judgment. "Upo_y word," cried Hudson at last, "they seem to me very good."
  • And in truth, as Rowland looked, he saw they were good. They were youthful, awkward, and ignorant; the effort, often, was more apparent than the success.
  • But the effort was signally powerful and intelligent; it seemed to Rowlan_hat it needed only to let itself go to compass great things. Here and there, too, success, when grasped, had something masterly. Rowland turned to hi_ompanion, who stood with his hands in his pockets and his hair very muc_rumpled, looking at him askance. The light of admiration was in Rowland'_yes, and it speedily kindled a wonderful illumination on Hudson's handsom_row. Rowland said at last, gravely, "You have only to work!"
  • "I think I know what that means," Roderick answered. He turned away, thre_imself on a rickety chair, and sat for some moments with his elbows on hi_nees and his head in his hands. "Work—work?" he said at last, looking up,
  • "ah, if I could only begin!" He glanced round the room a moment and his ey_ncountered on the mantel-shelf the vivid physiognomy of Mr. Barnaby Striker.
  • His smile vanished, and he stared at it with an air of concentrated enmity. "_ant to begin," he cried, "and I can't make a better beginning than this!
  • Good-by, Mr. Striker!" He strode across the room, seized a mallet that lay a_and, and before Rowland could interfere, in the interest of art if not o_orals, dealt a merciless blow upon Mr. Striker's skull. The bust cracked int_ dozen pieces, which toppled with a great crash upon the floor. Rowlan_elished neither the destruction of the image nor his companion's look i_orking it, but as he was about to express his displeasure the door opened an_ave passage to a young girl. She came in with a rapid step and startled face, as if she had been summoned by the noise. Seeing the heap of shattered cla_nd the mallet in Roderick's hand, she gave a cry of horror. Her voice die_way when she perceived that Rowland was a stranger, but she murmure_eproachfully, "Why, Roderick, what have you done?"
  • Roderick gave a joyous kick to the shapeless fragments. "I 've driven th_oney-changers out of the temple!" he cried.
  • The traces retained shape enough to be recognized, and she gave a little moa_f pity. She seemed not to understand the young man's allegory, but yet t_eel that it pointed to some great purpose, which must be an evil one, fro_eing expressed in such a lawless fashion, and to perceive that Rowland was i_ome way accountable for it. She looked at him with a sharp, frank mistrust, and turned away through the open door. Rowland looked after her wit_xtraordinary interest.