The Education of a Personage
The time is February. The place is a large, dainty bedroom in the
Connage house on Sixty-eighth Street, New York. A girl's room:
pink walls and curtains and a pink bedspread on a cream-colored
bed. Pink and cream are the motifs of the room, but the only
article of furniture in full view is a luxurious dressing-table
with a glass top and a three-sided mirror. On the walls there is
an expensive print of "Cherry Ripe," a few polite dogs by
Landseer, and the "King of the Black Isles," by Maxfield Parrish.
Great disorder consisting of the following items: (1) seven or
eight empty cardboard boxes, with tissue-paper tongues hanging
panting from their mouths; (2) an assortment of street dresses
mingled with their sisters of the evening, all upon the table,
all evidently new; (3) a roll of tulle, which has lost its
dignity and wound itself tortuously around everything in sight,
and (4) upon the two small chairs, a collection of lingerie that
beggars description. One would enjoy seeing the bill called forth
by the finery displayed and one is possessed by a desire to see
the princess for whose benefit Look! There's some one!
Disappointment! This is only a maid hunting for something she
lifts a heap from a chair Not there; another heap, the
dressing-table, the chiffonier drawers. She brings to light
several beautiful chemises and an amazing pajama but this does
not satisfy hershe goes out.
An indistinguishable mumble from the next room.
Now, we are getting warm. This is Alec's mother, Mrs. Connage,
ample, dignified, rouged to the dowager point and quite worn out.
Her lips move significantly as she looks for IT. Her search is
less thorough than the maid's but there is a touch of fury in it,
that quite makes up for its sketchiness. She stumbles on the
tulle and her "damn" is quite audible. She retires, empty-handed.
More chatter outside and a girl's voice, a very spoiled voice,
says: "Of all the stupid people"
After a pause a third seeker enters, not she of the spoiled
voice, but a younger edition. This is Cecelia Connage, sixteen,
pretty, shrewd, and constitutionally good-humored. She is dressed
for the evening in a gown the obvious simplicity of which
probably bores her. She goes to the nearest pile, selects a small
pink garment and holds it up appraisingly.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Yes!
CECELIA: Very snappy?
- I've got it!
(She sees herself in the mirror of the dressing-table and
commences to shimmy enthusiastically.)
- (Outside) What are you doingtrying it on?
(CECELIA ceases and goes out carrying the garment at the right
From the other door, enters ALEC CONNAGE. He looks around quickly
and in a huge voice shouts: Mama! There is a chorus of protest
from next door and encouraged he starts toward it, but is
repelled by another chorus.)
ALEC: So that's where you all are! Amory Blaine is here.
CECELIA: (Quickly) Take him down-stairs.
ALEC: Oh, he is down-stairs.
- MRS. CONNAGE
- Well, you can show him where his room is. Tell him
I'm sorry that I can't meet him now.
ALEC: He's heard a lot about you all. I wish you'd hurry.
Father's telling him all about the war and he's restless. He's
sort of temperamental.
(This last suffices to draw CECELIA into the room.)
- (Seating herself high upon lingerie) How do you
meantemperamental? You used to say that about him in letters.
ALEC: Oh, he writes stuff.
CECELIA: Does he play the piano?
ALEC: Don't think so.
CECELIA: (Speculatively) Drink?
ALEC: Yesnothing queer about him.
ALEC: Good Lordask him, he used to have a lot, and he's got some
(MRS. CONNAGE appears.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Alec, of course we're glad to have any friend of
ALEC: You certainly ought to meet Amory.
MRS. CONNAGE: Of course, I want to. But I think it's so childish
of you to leave a perfectly good home to go and live with two
other boys in some impossible apartment. I hope it isn't in order
that you can all drink as much as you want. (She pauses.) He'll
be a little neglected to-night. This is Rosalind's week, you see.
When a girl comes out, she needs all the attention.
ROSALIND: (Outside) Well, then, prove it by coming here and
(MRS. CONNAGE goes.)
ALEC: Rosalind hasn't changed a bit.
CECELIA: (In a lower tone) She's awfully spoiled.
ALEC: She'll meet her match to-night.
- WhoMr. Amory Blaine?
- Well, Rosalind has still to meet the man she can't
outdistance. Honestly, Alec, she treats men terribly. She abuses
them and cuts them and breaks dates with them and yawns in their
facesand they come back for more.
ALEC: They love it.
CECELIA: They hate it. She's ashe's a sort of vampire, I thinkand
she can make girls do what she wants usuallyonly she hates girls.
ALEC: Personality runs in our family.
CECELIA: (Resignedly) I guess it ran out before it got to me.
ALEC: Does Rosalind behave herself?
- Not particularly well. Oh, she's averagesmokes
sometimes, drinks punch, frequently kissedOh, yescommon
knowledgeone of the effects of the war, you know.
(Emerges MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind's almost finished so I can go down and
meet your friend.
(ALEC and his mother go out.)
ROSALIND: (Outside) Oh, mother
- Mothers gone down.
(And now ROSALIND enters. ROSALIND isutterly ROSALIND. She is one
of those girls who need never make the slightest effort to have
men fall in love with them. Two types of men seldom do: dull men
are usually afraid of her cleverness and intellectual men are
usually afraid of her beauty. All others are hers by natural
If ROSALIND could be spoiled the process would have been complete
by this time, and as a matter of fact, her disposition is not all
it should be; she wants what she wants when she wants it and she
is prone to make every one around her pretty miserable when she
doesn't get itbut in the true sense she is not spoiled. Her fresh
enthusiasm, her will to grow and learn, her endless faith in the
inexhaustibility of romance, her courage and fundamental
honestythese things are not spoiled.
There are long periods when she cordially loathes her whole
family. She is quite unprincipled; her philosophy is carpe diem
for herself and laissez faire for others. She loves shocking
stories: she has that coarse streak that usually goes with
natures that are both fine and big. She wants people to like her,
but if they do not it never worries her or changes her.
She is by no means a model character.
The education of all beautiful women is the knowledge of men.
ROSALIND had been disappointed in man after man as individuals,
but she had great faith in man as a sex. Women she detested. They
represented qualities that she felt and despised in
herselfincipient meanness, conceit, cowardice, and petty
dishonesty. She once told a roomful of her mother's friends that
the only excuse for women was the necessity for a disturbing
element among men. She danced exceptionally well, drew cleverly
but hastily, and had a startling facility with words, which she
used only in love-letters.
But all criticism of ROSALIND ends in her beauty. There was that
shade of glorious yellow hair, the desire to imitate which
supports the dye industry. There was the eternal kissable mouth,
small, slightly sensual, and utterly disturbing. There were gray
eyes and an unimpeachable skin with two spots of vanishing color.
She was slender and athletic, without underdevelopment, and it
was a delight to watch her move about a room, walk along a
street, swing a golf club, or turn a "cartwheel."
A last qualificationher vivid, instant personality escaped that
conscious, theatrical quality that AMORY had found in ISABELLE.
MONSIGNOR DARCY would have been quite up a tree whether to call
her a personality or a personage. She was perhaps the delicious,
inexpressible, once-in-a-century blend.
On the night of her dibut she is, for all her strange, stray
wisdom, quite like a happy little girl. Her mother's maid has
just done her hair, but she has decided impatiently that she can
do a better job herself. She is too nervous just now to stay in
one place. To that we owe her presence in this littered room. She
is going to speak. ISABELLE'S alto tones had been like a violin,
but if you could hear ROSALIND, you would say her voice was
musical as a waterfall.
- Honestly, there are only two costumes in the world that
I really enjoy being in (Combing her hair at the dressing-table.)
One's a hoop skirt with pantaloons; the other's a one-piece
bathing-suit. I'm quite charming in both of them.
CECELIA: Glad you're coming out?
ROSALIND: Yes; aren't you?
CECELIA: (Cynically) You're glad so you can get married and live
on Long Island with the fast younger married set. You want life
to be a chain of flirtation with a man for every link.
ROSALIND: Want it to be one! You mean I've found it one.
ROSALIND: Cecelia, darling, you don't know what a trial it is to
belike me. I've got to keep my face like steel in the street to
keep men from winking at me. If I laugh hard from a front row in
the theatre, the comedian plays to me for the rest of the
evening. If I drop my voice, my eyes, my handkerchief at a dance,
my partner calls me up on the 'phone every day for a week.
CECELIA: It must be an awful strain.
ROSALIND: The unfortunate part is that the only men who interest
me at all are the totally ineligible ones. Nowif I were poor I'd
go on the stage.
CECELIA: Yes, you might as well get paid for the amount of acting
ROSALIND: Sometimes when I've felt particularly radiant I've
thought, why should this be wasted on one man?
CECELIA: Often when you're particularly sulky, I've wondered why
it should all be wasted on just one family. (Getting up.) I think
I'll go down and meet Mr. Amory Blaine. I like temperamental men.
ROSALIND: There aren't any. Men don't know how to be really angry
or really happyand the ones that do, go to pieces.
CECELIA: Well, I'm glad I don't have all your worries. I'm
ROSALIND: (With a scornful smile) Engaged? Why, you little
lunatic! If mother heard you talking like that she'd send you off
to boarding-school, where you belong.
CECELIA: You won't tell her, though, because I know things I
could telland you're too selfish!
ROSALIND: (A little annoyed) Run along, little girl! Who are you
engaged to, the iceman? the man that keeps the candy-store?
CECELIA: Cheap witgood-by, darling, I'll see you later.
ROSALIND: Oh, be sure and do thatyou're such a help.
(Exit CECELIA. ROSALIND finished her hair and rises, humming. She
goes up to the mirror and starts to dance in front of it on the
soft carpet. She watches not her feet, but her eyesnever casually
but always intently, even when she smiles. The door suddenly
opens and then slams behind AMORY, very cool and handsome as
usual. He melts into instant confusion.)
HE: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought
SHE: (Smiling radiantly) Oh, you're Amory Blaine, aren't you?
HE: (Regarding her closely) And you're Rosalind?
- I'm going to call you Amoryoh, come init's all
rightmother'll be right in(under her breath) unfortunately.
HE: (Gazing around) This is sort of a new wrinkle for me.
SHE: This is No Man's Land.
HE: This is where youyou(pause)
SHE: Yesall those things. (She crosses to the bureau.) See,
here's my rougeeye pencils.
HE: I didn't know you were that way.
SHE: What did you expect?
HE: I thought you'd be sort ofsort ofsexless, you know, swim and
SHE: Oh, I dobut not in business hours.
SHE: Six to twostrictly.
HE: I'd like to have some stock in the corporation.
SHE: Oh, it's not a corporationit's just "Rosalind, Unlimited."
Fifty-one shares, name, good-will, and everything goes at $25,000
HE: (Disapprovingly) Sort of a chilly proposition.
SHE: Well, Amory, you don't minddo you? When I meet a man that
doesn't bore me to death after two weeks, perhaps it'll be
HE: Odd, you have the same point of view on men that I have on
SHE: I'm not really feminine, you knowin my mind.
HE: (Interested) Go on.
SHE: No, youyou go onyou've made me talk about myself. That's
against the rules.
SHE: My own rulesbut you Oh, Amory, I hear you're brilliant. The
family expects so much of you.
HE: How encouraging!
SHE: Alec said you'd taught him to think. Did you? I didn't
believe any one could.
HE: No. I'm really quite dull.
(He evidently doesn't intend this to be taken seriously.)
HE: I'mI'm religiousI'm literary. I'veI've even written poems.
SHE: Vers libresplendid! (She declaims.)
"The trees are green,
The birds are singing in the trees,
The girl sips her poison
The bird flies away the girl dies."
HE: (Laughing) No, not that kind.
SHE: (Suddenly) I like you.
SHE: Modest too
- I'm afraid of you. I'm always afraid of a girluntil I've
SHE: (Emphatically) My dear boy, the war is over.
HE: So I'll always be afraid of you.
SHE: (Rather sadly) I suppose you will.
(A slight hesitation on both their parts.)
HE: (After due consideration) Listen. This is a frightful thing
SHE: (Knowing what's coming) After five minutes.
HE: But will youkiss me? Or are you afraid?
SHE: I'm never afraidbut your reasons are so poor.
HE: Rosalind, I really want to kiss you.
SHE: So do I.
(They kissdefinitely and thoroughly.)
- (After a breathless second) Well, is your curiosity
SHE: Is yours?
HE: No, it's only aroused.
(He looks it.)
- (Dreamily) I've kissed dozens of men. I suppose I'll kiss
HE: (Abstractedly) Yes, I suppose you couldlike that.
SHE: Most people like the way I kiss.
HE: (Remembering himself) Good Lord, yes. Kiss me once more,
SHE: Nomy curiosity is generally satisfied at one.
HE: (Discouraged) Is that a rule?
SHE: I make rules to fit the cases.
HE: You and I are somewhat alikeexcept that I'm years older in
SHE: How old are you?
HE: Almost twenty-three. You?
HE: I suppose you're the product of a fashionable school.
SHE: NoI'm fairly raw material. I was expelled from SpenceI've
HE: What's your general trend?
SHE: Oh, I'm bright, quite selfish, emotional when aroused, fond
HE: (Suddenly) I don't want to fall in love with you
SHE: (Raising her eyebrows) Nobody asked you to.
HE: (Continuing coldly) But I probably will. I love your mouth.
SHE: Hush! Please don't fall in love with my mouthhair, eyes,
shoulders, slippersbut not my mouth. Everybody falls in love with
HE: It's quite beautiful.
SHE: It's too small.
HE: No it isn'tlet's see.
(He kisses her again with the same thoroughness.)
SHE: (Rather moved) Say something sweet.
HE: (Frightened) Lord help me.
SHE: (Drawing away) Well, don'tif it's so hard.
HE: Shall we pretend? So soon?
SHE: We haven't the same standards of time as other people.
HE: Already it'sother people.
SHE: Let's pretend.
HE: NoI can'tit's sentiment.
SHE: You're not sentimental?
- No, I'm romantica sentimental person thinks things will lasta
romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is
SHE: And you're not? (With her eyes half-closed.) You probably
flatter yourself that that's a superior attitude.
HE: WellRosalind, Rosalind, don't arguekiss me again.
SHE: (Quite chilly now) NoI have no desire to kiss you.
HE: (Openly taken aback) You wanted to kiss me a minute ago.
SHE: This is now.
HE: I'd better go.
SHE: I suppose so.
(He goes toward the door.)
- (Laughing) ScoreHome Team: One hundredOpponents: Zero.
(He starts back.)
SHE: (Quickly) Rainno game.
(He goes out.)
(She goes quietly to the chiffonier, takes out a cigarette-case
and hides it in the side drawer of a desk. Her mother enters,
note-book in hand.)
- MRS. CONNAGE
- GoodI've been wanting to speak to you alone before
we go down-stairs.
ROSALIND: Heavens! you frighten me!
MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind, you've been a very expensive proposition.
ROSALIND: (Resignedly) Yes.
MRS. CONNAGE: And you know your father hasn't what he once had.
ROSALIND: (Making a wry face) Oh, please don't talk about money.
- MRS. CONNAGE
- You can't do anything without it. This is our last
year in this houseand unless things change Cecelia won't have the
advantages you've had.
ROSALIND: (Impatiently) Wellwhat is it?
MRS. CONNAGE: So I ask you to please mind me in several things
I've put down in my note-book. The first one is: don't disappear
with young men. There may be a time when it's valuable, but at
present I want you on the dance-floor where I can find you. There
are certain men I want to have you meet and I don't like finding
you in some corner of the conservatory exchanging silliness with
any oneor listening to it.
ROSALIND: (Sarcastically) Yes, listening to it is better.
MRS. CONNAGE: And don't waste a lot of time with the college
setlittle boys nineteen and twenty years old. I don't mind a prom
or a football game, but staying away from advantageous parties to
eat in little cafis down-town with Tom, Dick, and Harry
ROSALIND: (Offering her code, which is, in its way, quite as high
as her mother's) Mother, it's doneyou can't run everything now
the way you did in the early nineties.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Paying no attention) There are several bachelor
friends of your father's that I want you to meet to-nightyoungish
ROSALIND: (Nodding wisely) About forty-five?
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sharply) Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, quite all rightthey know life and are so adorably
tired looking (shakes her head)but they will dance.
MRS. CONNAGE: I haven't met Mr. Blainebut I don't think you'll
care for him. He doesn't sound like a money-maker.
ROSALIND: Mother, I never think about money.
MRS. CONNAGE: You never keep it long enough to think about it.
ROSALIND: (Sighs) Yes, I suppose some day I'll marry a ton of
itout of sheer boredom.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Referring to note-book) I had a wire from
Hartford. Dawson Ryder is coming up. Now there's a young man I
like, and he's floating in money. It seems to me that since you
seem tired of Howard Gillespie you might give Mr. Ryder some
encouragement. This is the third time he's been up in a month.
ROSALIND: How did you know I was tired of Howard Gillespie?
MRS. CONNAGE: The poor boy looks so miserable every time he
ROSALIND: That was one of those romantic, pre-battle affairs.
They're all wrong.
MRS. CONNAGE: (Her say said) At any rate, make us proud of you
ROSALIND: Don't you think I'm beautiful?
MRS. CONNAGE: You know you are.
(From down-stairs is heard the moan of a violin being tuned, the
roll of a drum. MRS. CONNAGE turns quickly to her daughter.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come!
- One minute!
(Her mother leaves. ROSALIND goes to the glass where she gazes at
herself with great satisfaction. She kisses her hand and touches
her mirrored mouth with it. Then she turns out the lights and
leaves the room. Silence for a moment. A few chords from the
piano, the discreet patter of faint drums, the rustle of new
silk, all blend on the staircase outside and drift in through the
partly opened door. Bundled figures pass in the lighted hall. The
laughter heard below becomes doubled and multiplied. Then some
one comes in, closes the door, and switches on the lights. It is
CECELIA. She goes to the chiffonier, looks in the drawers,
hesitatesthen to the desk whence she takes the cigarette-case and
extracts one. She lights it and then, puffing and blowing, walks
toward the mirror.)
CECELIA: (In tremendously sophisticated accents) Oh, yes, coming
out is such a farce nowadays, you know. One really plays around
so much before one is seventeen, that it's positively anticlimax.
(Shaking hands with a visionary middle-aged nobleman.) Yes, your
graceI b'lieve I've heard my sister speak of you. Have a
puffthey're very good. They'rethey're Coronas. You don't smoke?
What a pity! The king doesn't allow it, I suppose. Yes, I'll
(So she dances around the room to a tune from down-stairs, her
arms outstretched to an imaginary partner, the cigarette waving
in her hand.)
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The corner of a den down-stairs, filled by a very comfortable
leather lounge. A small light is on each side above, and in the
middle, over the couch hangs a painting of a very old, very
dignified gentleman, period 1860. Outside the music is heard in a
ROSALIND is seated on the lounge and on her left is HOWARD
GILLESPIE, a vapid youth of about twenty-four. He is obviously
very unhappy, and she is quite bored.
- (Feebly) What do you mean I've changed. I feel the
same toward you.
ROSALIND: But you don't look the same to me.
GILLESPIE: Three weeks ago you used to say that you liked me
because I was so blasi, so indifferentI still am.
ROSALIND: But not about me. I used to like you because you had
brown eyes and thin legs.
GILLESPIE: (Helplessly) They're still thin and brown. You're a
vampire, that's all.
ROSALIND: The only thing I know about vamping is what's on the
piano score. What confuses men is that I'm perfectly natural. I
used to think you were never jealous. Now you follow me with your
eyes wherever I go.
GILLESPIE: I love you.
ROSALIND: (Coldly) I know it.
GILLESPIE: And you haven't kissed me for two weeks. I had an idea
that after a girl was kissed she waswaswon.
ROSALIND: Those days are over. I have to be won all over again
every time you see me.
GILLESPIE: Are you serious?
ROSALIND: About as usual. There used to be two kinds of kisses:
First when girls were kissed and deserted; second, when they were
engaged. Now there's a third kind, where the man is kissed and
deserted. If Mr. Jones of the nineties bragged he'd kissed a
girl, every one knew he was through with her. If Mr. Jones of
1919 brags the same every one knows it's because he can't kiss
her any more. Given a decent start any girl can beat a man
GILLESPIE: Then why do you play with men?
ROSALIND: (Leaning forward confidentially) For that first moment,
when he's interested. There is a momentOh, just before the first
kiss, a whispered wordsomething that makes it worth while.
GILLESPIE: And then?
ROSALIND: Then after that you make him talk about himself. Pretty
soon he thinks of nothing but being alone with youhe sulks, he
won't fight, he doesn't want to playVictory!
(Enter DAWSON RYDER, twenty-six, handsome, wealthy, faithful to
his own, a bore perhaps, but steady and sure of success.)
RYDER: I believe this is my dance, Rosalind.
- Well, Dawson, so you recognize me. Now I know I haven't
got too much paint on. Mr. Ryder, this is Mr. Gillespie.
(They shake hands and GILLESPIE leaves, tremendously downcast.)
RYDER: Your party is certainly a success.
ROSALIND: Is it I haven't seen it lately. I'm weary Do you mind
sitting out a minute?
RYDER: MindI'm delighted. You know I loathe this "rushing" idea.
See a girl yesterday, to-day, to-morrow.
ROSALIND: I wonder if you know you love me.
RYDER: (Startled) What Ohyou know you're remarkable!
ROSALIND: Because you know I'm an awful proposition. Any one who
marries me will have his hands full. I'm meanmighty mean.
RYDER: Oh, I wouldn't say that.
ROSALIND: Oh, yes, I amespecially to the people nearest to me.
(She rises.) Come, let's go. I've changed my mind and I want to
dance. Mother is probably having a fit.
(Exeunt. Enter ALEC and CECELIA.)
CECELIA: Just my luck to get my own brother for an intermission.
ALEC: (Gloomily) I'll go if you want me to.
CECELIA: Good heavens, nowith whom would I begin the next dance?
(Sighs.) There's no color in a dance since the French officers
ALEC: (Thoughtfully) I don't want Amory to fall in love with
CECELIA: Why, I had an idea that that was just what you did want.
ALEC: I did, but since seeing these girlsI don't know. I'm
awfully attached to Amory. He's sensitive and I don't want him to
break his heart over somebody who doesn't care about him.
CECELIA: He's very good looking.
ALEC: (Still thoughtfully) She won't marry him, but a girl
doesn't have to marry a man to break his heart.
CECELIA: What does it? I wish I knew the secret.
ALEC: Why, you cold-blooded little kitty. It's lucky for some
that the Lord gave you a pug nose.
(Enter MRS. CONNAGE.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Where on earth is Rosalind?
ALEC: (Brilliantly) Of course you've come to the best people to
find out. She'd naturally be with us.
MRS. CONNAGE: Her father has marshalled eight bachelor
millionaires to meet her.
ALEC: You might form a squad and march through the halls.
MRS. CONNAGE: I'm perfectly seriousfor all I know she may be at
the Cocoanut Grove with some football player on the night of her
dibut. You look left and I'll
ALEC: (Flippantly) Hadn't you better send the butler through the
MRS. CONNAGE: (Perfectly serious) Oh, you don't think she'd be
CECELIA: He's only joking, mother.
ALEC: Mother had a picture of her tapping a keg of beer with some
MRS. CONNAGE: Let's look right away.
(They go out. ROSALIND comes in with GILLESPIE.)
GILLESPIE: Rosalind Once more I ask you. Don't you care a blessed
thing about me?
(AMORY walks in briskly.)
AMORY: My dance.
ROSALIND: Mr. Gillespie, this is Mr. Blaine.
GILLESPIE: I've met Mr. Blaine. From Lake Geneva, aren't you?
- (Desperately) I've been there. It's in thethe Middle
West, isn't it?
AMORY: (Spicily) Approximately. But I always felt that I'd rather
be provincial hot-tamale than soup without seasoning.
AMORY: Oh, no offense.
(GILLESPIE bows and leaves.)
ROSALIND: He's too much people.
AMORY: I was in love with a people once.
- Oh, yesher name was Isabellenothing at all to her except
what I read into her.
ROSALIND: What happened?
AMORY: Finally I convinced her that she was smarter than I
wasthen she threw me over. Said I was critical and impractical,
ROSALIND: What do you mean impractical?
AMORY: Ohdrive a car, but can't change a tire.
ROSALIND: What are you going to do?
AMORY: Can't sayrun for President, write
ROSALIND: Greenwich Village?
AMORY: Good heavens, noI said writenot drink.
ROSALIND: I like business men. Clever men are usually so homely.
AMORY: I feel as if I'd known you for ages.
ROSALIND: Oh, are you going to commence the "pyramid" story?
AMORY: NoI was going to make it French. I was Louis XIV and you
were one of mymy (Changing his tone.) Supposewe fell in love.
ROSALIND: I ve suggested pretending.
AMORY: If we did it would be very big.
AMORY: Because selfish people are in a way terribly capable of
ROSALIND: (Turning her lips up) Pretend.
(Very deliberately they kiss.)
AMORY: I can't say sweet things. But you are beautiful.
ROSALIND: Not that.
AMORY: What then?
ROSALIND: (Sadly) Oh, nothingonly I want sentiment, real
sentimentand I never find it.
AMORY: I never find anything else in the worldand I loathe it.
ROSALIND: It's so hard to find a male to gratify one's artistic
(Some one has opened a door and the music of a waltz surges into
the room. ROSALIND rises.)
- Listen! they're playing "Kiss Me Again."
(He looks at her.)
AMORY: (Softlythe battle lost) I love you.
- I love younow.
AMORY: Oh, God, what have I done?
ROSALIND: Nothing. Oh, don't talk. Kiss me again.
- I don't know why or how, but I love youfrom the moment I
ROSALIND: Me tooIIoh, to-night's to-night.
(Her brother strolls in, starts and then in a loud voice says:
"Oh, excuse me," and goes.)
ROSALIND: (Her lips scarcely stirring) Don't let me goI don't
care who knows what I do.
AMORY: Say it!
ROSALIND: I love younow. (They part.) OhI am very youthful, thank
Godand rather beautiful, thank Godand happy, thank God, thank God
(She pauses and then, in an odd burst of prophecy, adds) Poor
(He kisses her again.)
Within two weeks Amory and Rosalind were deeply and passionately
in love. The critical qualities which had spoiled for each of
them a dozen romances were dulled by the great wave of emotion
that washed over them.
"It may be an insane love-affair," she told her anxious mother,
"but it's not inane."
The wave swept Amory into an advertising agency early in March,
where he alternated between astonishing bursts of rather
exceptional work and wild dreams of becoming suddenly rich and
touring Italy with Rosalind.
They were together constantly, for lunch, for dinner, and nearly
every eveningalways in a sort of breathless hush, as if they
feared that any minute the spell would break and drop them out of
this paradise of rose and flame. But the spell became a trance,
seemed to increase from day to day; they began to talk of
marrying in Julyin June. All life was transmitted into terms of
their love, all experience, all desires, all ambitions, were
nullifiedtheir senses of humor crawled into corners to sleep;
their former love-affairs seemed faintly laughable and scarcely
For the second time in his life Amory had had a complete
bouleversement and was hurrying into line with his generation.
A LITTLE INTERLUDE
Amory wandered slowly up the avenue and thought of the night as
inevitably histhe pageantry and carnival of rich dusk and dim
streets ... it seemed that he had closed the book of fading
harmonies at last and stepped into the sensuous vibrant walks of
life. Everywhere these countless lights, this promise of a night
of streets and singinghe moved in a half-dream through the crowd
as if expecting to meet Rosalind hurrying toward him with eager
feet from every corner.... How the unforgettable faces of dusk
would blend to her, the myriad footsteps, a thousand overtures,
would blend to her footsteps; and there would be more drunkenness
than wine in the softness of her eyes on his. Even his dreams now
were faint violins drifting like summer sounds upon the summer
The room was in darkness except for the faint glow of Tom's
cigarette where he lounged by the open window. As the door shut
behind him, Amory stood a moment with his back against it.
"Hello, Benvenuto Blaine. How went the advertising business
Amory sprawled on a couch.
"I loathed it as usual!" The momentary vision of the bustling
agency was displaced quickly by another picture.
"My God! She's wonderful!"
"I can't tell you," repeated Amory, "just how wonderful she is. I
don't want you to know. I don't want any one to know."
Another sigh came from the windowquite a resigned sigh.
"She's life and hope and happiness, my whole world now."
He felt the quiver of a tear on his eyelid.
"Oh, Golly, Tom!"
"Sit like we do," she whispered.
He sat in the big chair and held out his arms so that she could
nestle inside them.
"I knew you'd come to-night," she said softly, "like summer, just
when I needed you most ... darling ... darling..."
His lips moved lazily over her face.
"You taste so good," he sighed.
"How do you mean, lover?"
"Oh, just sweet, just sweet..." he held her closer.
"Amory," she whispered, "when you're ready for me I'll marry
"We won't have much at first."
"Don't!" she cried. "It hurts when you reproach yourself for what
you can't give me. I've got your precious selfand that's enough
"You know, don't you? Oh, you know."
"Yes, but I want to hear you say it."
"I love you, Amory, with all my heart."
"Always, will you?"
"All my lifeOh, Amory"
"I want to belong to you. I want your people to be my people. I
want to have your babies."
"But I haven't any people."
"Don't laugh at me, Amory. Just kiss me."
"I'll do what you want," he said.
"No, I'll do what you want. We're younot me. Oh, you're so much a
part, so much all of me..."
He closed his eyes.
"I'm so happy that I'm frightened. Wouldn't it be awful if this
waswas the high point?..."
She looked at him dreamily.
"Beauty and love pass, I know.... Oh, there's sadness, too. I
suppose all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the
scent of roses and then the death of roses"
"Beauty means the agony of sacrifice and the end of agony...."
"And, Amory, we're beautiful, I know. I'm sure God loves us"
"He loves you. You're his most precious possession."
"I'm not his, I'm yours. Amory, I belong to you. For the first
time I regret all the other kisses; now I know how much a kiss
Then they would smoke and he would tell her about his day at the
officeand where they might live. Sometimes, when he was
particularly loquacious, she went to sleep in his arms, but he
loved that Rosalindall Rosalinds as he had never in the world
loved any one else. Intangibly fleeting, unrememberable hours.
One day Amory and Howard Gillespie meeting by accident down-town
took lunch together, and Amory heard a story that delighted him.
Gillespie after several cocktails was in a talkative mood; he
began by telling Amory that he was sure Rosalind was slightly
He had gone with her on a swimming party up in Westchester
County, and some one mentioned that Annette Kellerman had been
there one day on a visit and had dived from the top of a rickety,
thirty-foot summer-house. Immediately Rosalind insisted that
Howard should climb up with her to see what it looked like.
A minute later, as he sat and dangled his feet on the edge, a
form shot by him; Rosalind, her arms spread in a beautiful swan
dive, had sailed through the air into the clear water.
"Of course I had to go, after thatand I nearly killed myself. I
thought I was pretty good to even try it. Nobody else in the
party tried it. Well, afterward Rosalind had the nerve to ask me
why I stooped over when I dove. 'It didn't make it any easier,'
she said, 'it just took all the courage out of it.' I ask you,
what can a man do with a girl like that? Unnecessary, I call it."
Gillespie failed to understand why Amory was smiling delightedly
all through lunch. He thought perhaps he was one of these hollow
FIVE WEEKS LATER
Again the library of the Connage house. ROSALIND is alone,
sitting on the lounge staring very moodily and unhappily at
nothing. She has changed perceptiblyshe is a trifle thinner for
one thing; the light in her eyes is not so bright; she looks
easily a year older.
Her mother comes in, muffled in an opera-cloak. She takes in
ROSALIND with a nervous glance.
- MRS. CONNAGE
- Who is coming to-night?
(ROSALIND fails to hear her, at least takes no notice.)
- MRS. CONNAGE
- Alec is coming up to take me to this Barrie play,
"Et tu, Brutus." (She perceives that she is talking to herself.)
Rosalind! I asked you who is coming to-night?
ROSALIND: (Starting) OhwhatohAmory
MRS. CONNAGE: (Sarcastically) You have so many admirers lately
that I couldn't imagine which one. (ROSALIND doesn't answer.)
Dawson Ryder is more patient than I thought he'd be. You haven't
given him an evening this week.
ROSALIND: (With a very weary expression that is quite new to her
MRS. CONNAGE: Oh, I won't interfere. You've already wasted over
two months on a theoretical genius who hasn't a penny to his
name, but go ahead, waste your life on him. I won't interfere.
ROSALIND: (As if repeating a tiresome lesson) You know he has a
little incomeand you know he's earning thirty-five dollars a week
MRS. CONNAGE: And it wouldn't buy your clothes. (She pauses but
ROSALIND makes no reply.) I have your best interests at heart
when I tell you not to take a step you'll spend your days
regretting. It's not as if your father could help you. Things
have been hard for him lately and he's an old man. You'd be
dependent absolutely on a dreamer, a nice, well-born boy, but a
dreamermerely clever. (She implies that this quality in itself is
ROSALIND: For heaven's sake, mother
(A maid appears, announces Mr. Blaine who follows immediately.
AMORY'S friends have been telling him for ten days that he "looks
like the wrath of God," and he does. As a matter of fact he has
not been able to eat a mouthful in the last thirty-six hours.)
AMORY: Good evening, Mrs. Connage.
- MRS. CONNAGE
- (Not unkindly) Good evening, Amory.
(AMORY and ROSALIND exchange glancesand ALEC comes in. ALEC'S
attitude throughout has been neutral. He believes in his heart
that the marriage would make AMORY mediocre and ROSALIND
miserable, but he feels a great sympathy for both of them.)
ALEC: Hi, Amory!
AMORY: Hi, Alec! Tom said he'd meet you at the theatre.
- Yeah, just saw him. How's the advertising to-day? Write
some brilliant copy?
AMORY: Oh, it's about the same. I got a raise (Every one looks at
him rather eagerly)of two dollars a week. (General collapse.)
MRS. CONNAGE: Come, Alec, I hear the car.
(A good night, rather chilly in sections. After MRS. CONNAGE and
ALEC go out there is a pause. ROSALIND still stares moodily at
the fireplace. AMORY goes to her and puts his arm around her.)
- Darling girl.
(They kiss. Another pause and then she seizes his hand, covers it
with kisses and holds it to her breast.)
- (Sadly) I love your hands, more than anything. I see
them often when you're away from meso tired; I know every line of
them. Dear hands!
(Their eyes meet for a second and then she begins to crya
ROSALIND: Oh, we're so darned pitiful!
ROSALIND: Oh, I want to die!
AMORY: Rosalind, another night of this and I'll go to pieces.
You've been this way four days now. You've got to be more
encouraging or I can't work or eat or sleep. (He looks around
helplessly as if searching for new words to clothe an old,
shopworn phrase.) We'll have to make a start. I like having to
make a start together. (His forced hopefulness fades as he sees
her unresponsive.) What's the matter? (He gets up suddenly and
starts to pace the floor.) It's Dawson Ryder, that's what it is.
He's been working on your nerves. You've been with him every
afternoon for a week. People come and tell me they've seen you
together, and I have to smile and nod and pretend it hasn't the
slightest significance for me. And you won't tell me anything as
ROSALIND: Amory, if you don't sit down I'll scream.
AMORY: (Sitting down suddenly beside her) Oh, Lord.
ROSALIND: (Taking his hand gently) You know I love you, don't
ROSALIND: You know I'll always love you
AMORY: Don't talk that way; you frighten me. It sounds as if we
weren't going to have each other. (She cries a little and rising
from the couch goes to the armchair.) I've felt all afternoon
that things were worse. I nearly went wild down at the
officecouldn't write a line. Tell me everything.
ROSALIND: There's nothing to tell, I say. I'm just nervous.
AMORY: Rosalind, you're playing with the idea of marrying Dawson
ROSALIND: (After a pause) He's been asking me to all day.
AMORY: Well, he's got his nerve!
ROSALIND: (After another pause) I like him.
AMORY: Don't say that. It hurts me.
ROSALIND: Don't be a silly idiot. You know you're the only man
I've ever loved, ever will love.
AMORY: (Quickly) Rosalind, let's get marriednext week.
ROSALIND: We can't.
AMORY: Why not?
ROSALIND: Oh, we can't. I'd be your squawin some horrible place.
AMORY: We'll have two hundred and seventy-five dollars a month
ROSALIND: Darling, I don't even do my own hair, usually.
AMORY: I'll do it for you.
ROSALIND: (Between a laugh and a sob) Thanks.
AMORY: Rosalind, you can't be thinking of marrying some one else.
Tell me! You leave me in the dark. I can help you fight it out if
you'll only tell me.
ROSALIND: It's justus. We're pitiful, that's all. The very
qualities I love you for are the ones that will always make you a
AMORY: (Grimly) Go on.
ROSALIND: Ohit is Dawson Ryder. He's so reliable, I almost feel
that he'd be aa background.
AMORY: You don't love him.
ROSALIND: I know, but I respect him, and he's a good man and a
AMORY: (Grudgingly) Yeshe's that.
ROSALIND: Wellhere's one little thing. There was a little poor
boy we met in Rye Tuesday afternoonand, oh, Dawson took him on
his lap and talked to him and promised him an Indian suitand next
day he remembered and bought itand, oh, it was so sweet and I
couldn't help thinking he'd be so nice toto our childrentake care
of themand I wouldn't have to worry.
AMORY: (In despair) Rosalind! Rosalind!
ROSALIND: (With a faint roguishness) Don't look so consciously
AMORY: What power we have of hurting each other!
ROSALIND: (Commencing to sob again) It's been so perfectyou and
I. So like a dream that I'd longed for and never thought I'd
find. The first real unselfishness I've ever felt in my life. And
I can't see it fade out in a colorless atmosphere!
AMORY: It won'tit won't!
ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memorytucked away in
AMORY: Yes, women can do thatbut not men. I'd remember always,
not the beauty of it while it lasted, but just the bitterness,
the long bitterness.
AMORY: All the years never to see you, never to kiss you, just a
gate shut and barredyou don't dare be my wife.
ROSALIND: NonoI'm taking the hardest course, the strongest
course. Marrying you would be a failure and I never failif you
don't stop walking up and down I'll scream!
(Again he sinks despairingly onto the lounge.)
AMORY: Come over here and kiss me.
AMORY: Don't you want to kiss me?
ROSALIND: To-night I want you to love me calmly and coolly.
AMORY: The beginning of the end.
- (With a burst of insight) Amory, you're young. I'm
young. People excuse us now for our poses and vanities, for
treating people like Sancho and yet getting away with it. They
excuse us now. But you've got a lot of knocks coming to you
AMORY: And you're afraid to take them with me.
ROSALIND: No, not that. There was a poem I read somewhereyou'll
say Ella Wheeler Wilcox and laughbut listen:
"For this is wisdomto love and live,
To take what fate or the gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in timelet go."
AMORY: But we haven't had.
- Amory, I'm yoursyou know it. There have been times in
the last month I'd have been completely yours if you'd said so.
But I can't marry you and ruin both our lives.
AMORY: We've got to take our chance for happiness.
ROSALIND: Dawson says I'd learn to love him.
(AMORY with his head sunk in his hands does not move. The life
seems suddenly gone out of him.)
- Lover! Lover! I can't do with you, and I can't imagine
life without you.
AMORY: Rosalind, we're on each other's nerves. It's just that
we're both high-strung, and this week
(His voice is curiously old. She crosses to him and taking his
face in her hands, kisses him.)
- I can't, Amory. I can't be shut away from the trees and
flowers, cooped up in a little flat, waiting for you. You'd hate
me in a narrow atmosphere. I'd make you hate me.
(Again she is blinded by sudden uncontrolled tears.)
ROSALIND: Oh, darling, go Don't make it harder! I can't stand it
- (His face drawn, his voice strained) Do you know what
you're saying? Do you mean forever?
(There is a difference somehow in the quality of their
ROSALIND: Can't you see
- I'm afraid I can't if you love me. You're afraid of taking
two years' knocks with me.
ROSALIND: I wouldn't be the Rosalind you love.
AMORY: (A little hysterically) I can't give you up! I can't,
that's all! I've got to have you!
ROSALIND: (A hard note in her voice) You're being a baby now.
AMORY: (Wildly) I don't care! You're spoiling our lives!
ROSALIND: I'm doing the wise thing, the only thing.
AMORY: Are you going to marry Dawson Ryder?
ROSALIND: Oh, don't ask me. You know I'm old in some waysin
otherswell, I'm just a little girl. I like sunshine and pretty
things and cheerfulnessand I dread responsibility. I don't want
to think about pots and kitchens and brooms. I want to worry
whether my legs will get slick and brown when I swim in the
AMORY: And you love me.
ROSALIND: That's just why it has to end. Drifting hurts too much.
We can't have any more scenes like this.
(She draws his ring from her finger and hands it to him. Their
eyes blind again with tears.)
- (His lips against her wet cheek) Don't! Keep it, pleaseoh,
don't break my heart!
(She presses the ring softly into his hand.)
ROSALIND: (Brokenly) You'd better go.
(She looks at him once more, with infinite longing, infinite
ROSALIND: Don't ever forget me, Amory
(He goes to the door, fumbles for the knob, finds itshe sees him
throw back his headand he is gone. Goneshe half starts from the
lounge and then sinks forward on her face into the pillows.)
- Oh, God, I want to die! (After a moment she rises and
with her eyes closed feels her way to the door. Then she turns
and looks once more at the room. Here they had sat and dreamed:
that tray she had so often filled with matches for him; that
shade that they had discreetly lowered one long Sunday afternoon.
Misty-eyed she stands and remembers; she speaks aloud.) Oh,
Amory, what have I done to you?
(And deep under the aching sadness that will pass in time,
Rosalind feels that she has lost something, she knows not what,
she knows not why.)