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Chapter 14

  • Once this idea of New York was fixed in his mind as a necessary step in hi_areer, it was no trouble for him to carry it out. He had already put asid_ixty dollars in a savings bank since he had given Angela the ring and h_ecided to treble it as quickly as possible and then start. He fancied tha_ll he needed was just enough to live on for a little while until he could ge_ start. If he could not sell drawings to the magazines he might get a plac_n a newspaper and anyhow he felt confident that he could live. H_ommunicated to Howe and Mathews his intention of going East pretty soon an_roused in their respective bosoms the emotions which were characteristic o_ach. Howe, envious from the start, was glad to have him off the paper, bu_egretful of the stellar career which his determination foreboded. He hal_uspected now that Eugene would do something exceptional—he was so loose i_is moods—so eccentric. Mathews was glad for Eugene and a little sorry fo_imself. He wished he had Eugene's courage, his fire, his talent.
  • "You'll make good when you get down there," Mathews said to him one afternoo_hen Howe was out of the room, for he realized that the latter was jealous.
  • "You've got the stuff. Some of the work you have done here will give you _ine introduction. I wish I were going."
  • "Why don't you?" suggested Eugene.
  • "Who? me? What good would it do me? I'm not ready yet. I can't do that sort o_tuff. I might go down some time."
  • "I think you do good work," said Eugene generously. He really did not believ_t was good art, but it was fair newspaper sketching.
  • "Oh, no, you don't mean that, Witla," replied Mathews. "I know what I can do."
  • Eugene was silent.
  • "I wish when you get down there," went on Mathews, "you would write u_ccasionally. I would like to know how you are getting along."
  • "Sure, I'll write," replied Eugene, flattered by the interest hi_etermination had aroused. "Sure I will." But he never did.
  • In Ruby and Angela he had two problems to adjust which were not so easy. I_he one case it was sympathy, regret, sorrow for her helplessness, he_opelessness. She was so sweet and lovely in her way, but not quite big enoug_entally or emotionally for him. Could he really live with her if he wante_o? Could he substitute her for a girl like Angela? Could he? And now he ha_nvolved Angela, for since her return to tell him that she accepted him as he_ffianced lover, there had been some scenes between them in which a ne_tandard of emotion had been set for him. This girl who looked so simple an_nnocent was burning at times with a wild fire. It snapped in her eyes whe_ugene undid her wonderful hair and ran his hands through its heavy strands.
  • "The Rhine Maiden," he would say. "Little Lorelei! You are like the mermai_aiting to catch the young lover in the strands of her hair. You ar_arguerite and I Faust. You are a Dutch Gretchen. I love this wonderful hai_hen it is braided. Oh, sweet, you perfect creature! I will put you in _ainting yet. I will make you famous."
  • Angela thrilled to this. She burned in a flame which was of his fanning. Sh_ut her lips to his in long hot kisses, sat on his knee and twined her hai_bout his neck; rubbed his face with it as one might bathe a face in strand_f silk. Finding such a response he went wild, kissed her madly, would hav_een still more masterful had she not, at the slightest indication of hi_udacity, leaped from his embrace, not opposition but self protection in he_yes. She pretended to think better of his love, and Eugene, checked by he_deal of him, tried to restrain himself. He did manage to desist because h_as sure that he could not do what he wanted to. Daring such as that would en_er love. So they wrestled in affection.
  • It was the fall following his betrothal to Angela that he actually took hi_eparture. He had drifted through the summer, pondering. He had stayed awa_rom Ruby more and more, and finally left without saying good-bye to her,
  • though he thought up to the last that he intended to go out and see her.
  • As for Angela, when it came to parting from her, he was in a depressed an_owncast mood. He thought now that he did not really want to go to New York,
  • but was being drawn by fate. There was no money for him in the West; the_ould not live on what he could earn there. Hence he must go and in doing s_ust lose her. It looked very tragic.
  • Out at her aunt's house, where she came for the Saturday and Sunday precedin_is departure, he walked the floor with her gloomily, counted the lapse of th_ours after which he would be with her no more, pictured the day when he woul_eturn successful to fetch her. Angela had a faint foreboding fear of th_vents which might intervene. She had read stories of artists who had gone t_he city and had never come back. Eugene seemed such a wonderful person, sh_ight not hold him; and yet he had given her his word and he was madly in lov_ith her—no doubt of that. That fixed, passionate, yearning look in hi_yes—what did it mean if not enduring, eternal love? Life had brought her _reat treasure—a great love and an artist for a lover.
  • "Go, Eugene!" she cried at last tragically, almost melodramatically. His fac_as in her hands. "I will wait for you. You need never have one uneas_hought. When you are ready I will be here, only, come soon—you will, won'_ou?"
  • "Will I!" he declared, kissing her, "will I? Look at me. Don't you know?"
  • "Yes! Yes! Yes!" she exclaimed, "of course I know. Oh, yes! yes!"
  • The rest was a passionate embrace. And then they parted. He went out broodin_ver the subtlety and the tragedy of life. The sharp October stars saddene_im more. It was a wonderful world but bitter to endure at times. Still i_ould be endured and there was happiness and peace in store for him probably.
  • He and Angela would find it together living in each other's company, living i_ach other's embrace and by each other's kisses. It must be so. The whol_orld believed it—even he, after Stella and Margaret and Ruby and Angela. Eve_e.
  • The train which bore him to New York bore a very meditative young man. As i_ulled out through the great railroad yards of the city, past the shabby bac_ards of the houses, the street crossings at grade, the great factories an_levators, he thought of that other time when he had first ventured in th_ity. How different! Then he was so green, so raw. Since then he had become _ewspaper artist, he could write, he could find his tongue with women, he kne_ little something about the organization of the world. He had not saved an_oney, true, but he had gone through the art school, had given Angela _iamond ring, had this two hundred dollars with which he was venturing t_econnoitre the great social metropolis of the country. He was passing Fifty-
  • seventh Street; he recognized the neighborhood he traversed so often i_isiting Ruby. He had not said good-bye to her and there in the distance wer_he rows of commonplace, two family frame dwellings, one of which she occupie_ith her foster parents. Poor little Ruby! and she liked him. It was a shame,
  • but what was he to do about it? He didn't care for her. It really hurt him t_hink and then he tried not to remember. These tragedies of the world coul_ot be healed by thinking.
  • The train passed out into the flat fields of northern Indiana and as littl_ountry towns flashed past he thought of Alexandria and how he had pulled u_is stakes and left it. What was Jonas Lyle doing and John Summers? Myrtl_rote that she was going to be married in the spring. She had delayed solel_ecause she wanted to delay. He thought sometimes that Myrtle was a littl_ike himself, fickle in her moods. He was sure he would never want to go bac_o Alexandria except for a short visit, and yet the thought of his father an_is mother and his old home were sweet to him. His father! How little he kne_f the real world!
  • As they passed out of Pittsburgh he saw for the first time the grea_ountains, raising their heads in solemn majesty in the dark, and great line_f coke ovens, flaming red tongues of fire. He saw men working, and sleepin_owns succeeding one another. What a great country America was! What a grea_hing to be an artist here! Millions of people and no vast artistic voice t_ortray these things—these simple dramatic things like the coke ovens in th_ight. If he could only do it! If he could only stir the whole country, s_hat his name would be like that of Doré in France or Verestchagin in Russia.
  • If he could but get fire into his work, the fire he felt!
  • He got into his berth after a time and looked out on the dark night and th_tars, longing, and then he dozed. When he awoke again the train had alread_assed Philadelphia. It was morning and the cars were speeding across the fla_eadows toward Trenton. He arose and dressed, watching the array of towns th_hile, Trenton, New Brunswick, Metuchen, Elizabeth. Somehow this country wa_ike Illinois, flat. After Newark they rushed out upon a great meadow and h_aught the sense of the sea. It was beyond this. These were tide-wate_treams, the Passaic and the Hackensack, with small ships and coal and bric_arges tied at the water side. The thrill of something big overtook him as th_rakeman began to call "Jersey City," and as he stepped out into the vas_rain shed his heart misgave him a little. He was all alone in New York. I_as wealthy, cold and critical. How should he prosper here? He walked ou_hrough the gates to where low arches concealed ferry boats, and in anothe_oment it was before him, sky line, bay, the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty,
  • ferry boats, steamers, liners, all in a grey mist of fierce rain and the tug_nd liners blowing mournfully upon great whistles. It was something he coul_ever have imagined without seeing it, and this swish of real salt water,
  • rolling in heavy waves, spoke to him as music might, exalting his soul. What _onderful thing this was, this sea—where ships were and whales and grea_ysteries. What a wonderful thing New York was, set down by it, surrounded b_t, this metropolis of the country. Here was the sea; yonder were the grea_ocks that held the vessels that sailed to the ports of all the world. He sa_hem—great grey and black hulls, tied to long piers jutting out into th_ater. He listened to the whistles, the swish of the water, saw the circlin_ulls, realized emotionally the mass of people. Here were Jay Gould an_ussell Sage and the Vanderbilts and Morgan—all alive and all here. Wal_treet, Fifth Avenue, Madison Square, Broadway—he knew of these by reputation.
  • How would he do here—how fare? Would the city ever acclaim him as it did some?
  • He looked wide eyed, with an open heart, with intense and immens_ppreciation. Well, he was going to enter, going to try. He could d_hat—perhaps, perhaps. But he felt lonely. He wished he were back with Angel_here her soft arms could shut him safe. He wished he might feel her hands o_is cheeks, his hair. He would not need to fight alone then. But now he wa_lone, and the city was roaring about him, a great noise like the sea. He mus_nter and do battle.