She hesitated, and he saw that the hand resting on the back of her chair trembled a little.
“Because you don’t want to?” he burst out.
“Because I won’t take a lover while I have a husband — or while my lover has a wife,” she said precipitately.
Vance stood motionless. A moment before his thoughts had enveloped her in a million caressing touches, soul had seemed to clasp soul as body would presently embrace body, the distance between them had vanished in the hallucinating fusion of sight and touch. Th ghd straighteners ere had been no other world than that which the quiet room built in about them, no human beings in it but themselves. And now, abruptly thrust across the plane on which they stood, the other crowded grimacing world had pushed itself in, and between them stood Laura Lou and the sordid boarding house room, the moneylenders and the unfinished book, Mrs. Hubbard and the washing bills, and the account that Laura Lou was always running up at the druggist’s . . .
“And because I can’t leave my husband — any more than you can leave your wife . . . .”
He was not sure if it was Halo who had completed the sentence, or if it was the echo of his own thought.
Leave Laura Lou? No, of course he couldn’t. What nonsense! There was nobody else to look after her. He had chosen to have it so — and it was so. His world had closed in on him again, he was handcuffed and chained to it. He felt like a man in a railway smash who has come suddenly back to consciousness and finds himself pinned down under a dead weight. The sluggish current of reality was forcing itself once more into his veins, and he was faint with agony.
From a long way off he seemed to hear her saying: This mustn’t be the end, Vance. Someday . . .?
(Oh, yes — someday!)
“I HAVE been able to help you, haven’t I? . . . and I want, I do so want to go on . . .”
(What were women made of? He wondered.)
“You’ll promise me, won’t you?”
(Oh, he’d promise anything, if only a rescue party would come along and hoist up this dead weight off his chest. Couldn’t she SEE what he was suffering . . .?)
“Yes, I’LL promise.”
(You had to be everlastingly promising things to women . . . even with your life blood running o cheap ghd flat iron ut of you, they’d make you promise . . . .)
He turned to go, and heard a little exclamation behind him. He looked back from the doorway and saw that she had stooped down and was gathering up the sheets of manuscript he had left scattered about the floor.
He came back, stammering: “Here . . . don’t you trouble . . . I’ll do it . . .” and knelt down on the floor beside her. The pages seemed innumerable; they had fluttered away on all sides, he had to reach out right and left to recover them. One had even flown over the brass fender onto the hearth. Yet in a second they were all gathered up again: there were no normal time measures in this world of fever.
She held out the pages she had put together; his hand touched hers as he took them. Then he turned away and the door shut on him. That was over.
Vance stood in the street and looked up into the night sky. The star-strewn darkness, though blotched with the city’s profaning flare, recalled that other sky he had looked up at from the beach, when he had crept out at dawn from his wife’s side.
The sea — he had never seen it since! Could he get to it now? he wondered. Its infinite tides seemed to be breaking over him; its sound was in his breast. The craving to stand on that beach swept over him again, vehement, uncontrollable, surging up from the depths which held the source of things. He stood staring at his vision till it mastered him. He must see the sea again, must see it this very night. One in the morning . . . a March morning. But he must get there somehow; get there before dawn, waylay the miracle . . . .
He made his way across to the Pennsylvania Station, and asked about trains. There was one just going out: he found himself in it as it began to move. The haste of getting in and the mystery of gliding out so easily into darkness and the unknown reduced his private tumult to something like peace. He recalled the same sensation, humbling yet satisfying, when he had gone out on the morning after his wedding, and felt so awed yet safe in the sight of the immensities. . . . The train passed on between islands of masonry and endless streets strung with lights, then through the hush of dimly glimpsed trees and pastures; it stopped at sleepy stations, pulled out again, groped on in dreamlike confusion under a black sky full of stars. At last a little station stood out dark against pallid sandhills . . . and Vance, alone on the platform, watched the train clank on again uncertainly, as if groping out a new trail for itself. Then he turned and began to grope for his own way. A worn-off slip of moon hung in the west, powerless against the immensity of darkness; but when he reached the last line of dunes they were edged with a trembling of light which gradually widened out into the vast pallor of the Atlantic.
There it was at last: the sea at night, a windy March night tossing black cloud trails across the stars and shaking down their rainy glitter onto the hurried undulations of the waves. The wind was cold, but Vance did not feel it. The old affinity woke in him, the sense of some deep complementary power moving those endless surges as it swayed his listening self. He dropped down on the beach and lay there, letting the night and the sea sweep through him on the wings of the passionate gale. He felt like a speck in those vast elemental hands, yet sure of himself and his future as a seed being swept to the cleft where it belonged. And after a while he ceased to feel anything except that he was obscurely, infinitesimally a part of this great nocturnal splendour . . . .
At five in the morning, through dying lights and dead streets, he made his way back to Mrs. Hubbard’s. All the glory had vanished; his brain was sick with the forced inrush of reality. A last glimpse of the impossible swept through him. Halo had said: “Because I will never leave my husband for my lover . . .” and that meant — what else could it mean? — that she would have come to him if there had been no obstacle between them. For one moment it seemed almost enough to feel that there, out of his sight but in his soul, the great reaches of her love lay tossing and silvering. . . . But as he drew near his own door the ugliness of the present blotted out the vision. At the corner of Sixth Avenue a half-tipsy girl solicited him. At Mrs. Hubbard’s door, a gaunt cat shot out of the area. That was his world, his street, his house. . . . He knew now that he and she would never be free, either of them. She would never come to him; it was all a fading blur of unreality. . . . He put his key into the lock, and went upstairs with the feet of an old man.
The next day Laura Lou was in bed with one of her feverish colds. She had caught a chill the day of the “Storecraft” show, in her thin summer coat. These colds were frequent with her now, and each seemed to leave her a little weaker. Vance did not dare to send for the doctor again; he had been several times lately, and there had been no money to pay him. Vance did what he could to make her comfortable, and explained to Mrs. Hubbard — whose manner, as the weeks passed, though still oppressively ladylike, had grown more distant — the food must be carried up, milk heated, the cough mixture measured out. Then, having put a quarter into the hand of the dishevelled Swedish servant girl, who seldom understood his instructions and never carried them out, he took his way to the office.
There had been no word from Lambart & Co., the publishers who had been so confident about detaching him from Dreck and Saltzer; probably the subject of his novel had made them lukewarm. In his letter box he found a letter from his grandmother; there was no time to read it then, but the sight of her writing brought up a vision of Euphoria, of the comfortable Maplewood Avenue house, the safety and decency of home. What if he were to accept his father’s suggestion and take Laura Lou out there to live? If he took on a newspaper job, and wrote no novels or literary articles, he supposed his contracts with Dreck and Saltzer and the New Hour would lapse of themselves. He would simply go back to being the old Vance Weston again, and it would be as if the New York one had never existed . . . .
At the office he found neither Tarrant nor Eric Rauch. He had brought his work with him, and installed himself at his desk with the idea of going over his last chapters, and at least trying to eliminate the resemblances to The Corner Grocery. But the sight of the pages suddenly evoked the library where he had sat the night before with Halo Tarrant, and the floor on which he and she had knelt together to pick up the scattered sheets. The paper burned with her touch. He shut his eyes and pushed it aside. . . . Euphoria was the only way out . . . .
He opened his grandmother’s letter. She always wrote affectionately, and the careless freedom of her phrases would call her up to him in the flesh, with her velvety voice and heavy rambling body. The livest person he’d ever known, he thought, smiling. Then he read: “Vance, child, I’m coming to New York — be there next week with Saidie Toler . . .” (she always wrote of her daughters by their full names) . . . “I guess you’re not as surprised as I am; and I feel as if God Himself must be a little mite surprised too . . .” She went on to explain that, since Grandpa’s death, she had been able to give more time to spiritual things, and had been rewarded by the invitation to preach in various churches, not only at Euphoria, New Swedenborg, and Swedenville, but way beyond Chicago, at big places like Dakin and Lakeshore — only she didn’t call it preaching (he could be sure of that!) but “Meeting God”; didn’t he think that was a good phrase? Her “Meeting God” talks had been published in Spirit Life, and the paper’s circulation had gone up so much that they’d already contracted with her for another series; and suddenly she’d got an invitation from a group of intellectual people in New York, who called themselves “The Seekers” — a beautiful name, wasn’t it? It appeared they’d come across some of her talk in Spirit Life, and been so much struck that they wanted her to come over to New York for a week, and speak in private houses, and give the “Seekers” a chance to submit their personal doubts and difficulties to her. (“You know,” she added, dropping into her old humorous tone, “it’s holiday work telling other folks what’s wrong with them.”) Of course, she said, she couldn’t help but see God’s hand in all this, and when Spirit Life offered to pay her fare and Saidie’s out and back she telegraphed to the “Seekers” that she’d come at once — and Vance needn’t trouble about her, because she and Saidie were going to stay with a Mrs. Lotus Mennenkoop, a lovely woman who lived at Bronxville and was one of the “Seekers” — but of course she must see her boy as soon as she arrived, and get acquainted with her new granddaughter; and would Vance be sure and call her up right off at Mrs. Mennenkoop’s?
Vance stared at the big wavering script, so like his grandmother’s ungirt frame. For the “Seekers” he cared not a fig; but the springs of boyhood welled up in him at the prospect of seeing Mrs. Scrimser. She was the only human being he had really loved in the days when his universe was enclosed in the few miles between Euphoria and Crampton; the others, parents, sisters even, were just the more or less comfortable furniture of life; but his grandmother’s soul and his had touched. . . . He thought himself back onto the porch at Crampton, smelt the neglected lilacs, heard the jangle of the Euphoria trolley, and his grandmother saying: “Don’t a day like this make you feel as if you could get to God right through that blue up there?” He remembered having answered, rather petulantly, that he didn’t feel as if anything would take him near God; but now he was at least nearer to understanding what she had meant. Perhaps what she called “God” was the same as what he called “The Mothers” — that mysterious Sea of Being of which the dark reaches swayed and rumoured in his soul . . . perhaps one symbol was as good as another to figure the imperceptible point where the fleeting human consciousness touches Infinity . . . .
Curious, that this should happen just as he was facing the idea of going back to Euphoria. His grandmother’s letter, the prospect of seeing her in a few days, made the return home appear easier and more natural. As soon as she and Laura Lou had met he would decide. . . . He was sure those two would take a liking to each other.
Mrs. Scrimser bade him call her up at six on the day when she was to arrive, and he hoped to persuade her to come down that very morning to see Laura Lou, who was still too feverish to leave her bed. Laura Lou was excited and happy at the prospect of the visit; he saw from her eagerness how much she had felt the enforced solitude of her life in New York. “I guess maybe she’ll go round with me a little when I’m better,” she said with her drawn smile.
“Why, I’d go round with you myself if you wanted me to,” Vance rejoined, with conscious hypocrisy; but she said evasively: “Why, how can you, with all your work?”
The day came, and Vance was waiting at the office to call up Mrs. Mennenkoop’s flat when he was told that Mrs. Spear was on the telephone. It was some time since he had seen Mrs. Spear, and he wondered, somewhat nervously, if she could be the bearer of a message from her daughter. The blood began to buzz in his ears, and he could hardly catch the words which tumbled out excitedly from the receiver. But presently, to his surprise, he heard his grandmother’s name. “Only think, Vance, of my not knowing that Mrs. Scrimser — the GREAT Mrs. Scrimser — was your grandmother! She’s just told me so herself, over the telephone. . . . Why, yes — didn’t you know? She’s coming to speak in our drawing room this very evening. . . . Of course you knew I was one of the ‘Seekers’? No — you didn’t?” Mrs. Spear was always genuinely surprised when she found that anything concerning herself or her family had not been trumpeted about by rumour. “Why, yes — it’s my LIFE, Vance, my only real life . . . so marvellous . . . and now I’m to have the privilege of having this wonderful being under my roof. . . . You must be with us, of course; you and Laura Lou. . . . Your grandmother wanted me to tell you not to go out to Bronxville: she’d rather meet you here. Her train was late; there’s barely time for her to take a rest and withdraw into herself — you know they always do, before a meeting. . . . So she wants you to come here early instead. She says she’s sure you’ll understand . . . .”
The announcement filled Vance with astonishment. He had had glimpses of some of Mrs. Spear’s hobbies and enthusiasms, and had heard others humorously reported by Halo — but the idea of any connection between the Spear milieu and his grandmother was so unexpected that he began to wonder if, all unconsciously, he had spent his youth with an illustrious woman. Mrs. Spear was in touch with the newest that New York was thinking and saying; Frenside’s decomposing irony was her daily fare; clever and cultivated people of all kinds frequented her house; she was always on the track of the new movements. Did the “Seekers” then represent a movement important enough to attract those whose lead she followed? And was his grandmother actually the prophetess of a new faith? He recalled the religion he had himself “invented” in his boyhood — the creed whose originality had cru cheap ghd straighteners ￡50 mbled away with his first glimpse of the old philosophies — and wondered if his grandmother had stumbled on the revelation he had missed. It was all so confounding that he hardly found voice to stammer out his thanks, and his excuses for Laura Lou. . . . And the Tarrants, he wondered — would they be there? And what did Halo think of the “Seekers”? Above all, what would she think of Mrs. Scrimser?
He had not wished to see Halo again — not for some time, not till the storm Cheap ghds in him should subside. Had she been right when she had warned him the other night not to “spoil something perfect”? In his unsatisfied anguish, he had half believed her; but in the interval he had come to know that this anguish was worth all the rest. Friendship — love? How vain such restricting words now seemed! In reality, his feeling for her included friendship, passion, love, desire, whatever thought or emotion, craving of sight and touch, a woman can excite in a man. All were merged in a rich deep communion; it was the element in which everything else in him lived. “All thoughts, all motions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame — ” the poet whom Elinor Lorburn loved had summed it up long ago . . . .
When he got to Mrs. Spear’s the maid showed him into a little study. The room was so small that it made his grandmother, who was waiting there, seem immense, like a great spreading idol. But she managed to get to her feet; her a cheap ghd air rms engulfed him; he sank into her warmth as into a tepid sea. If he’d been a child he would have burst out crying, she smelt so like home and the Mapledale Avenue soap!
“Oh, Vanny, Vanny — my little Vance . . . this IS God’s Hand,” she said, and hugged him.
He thought, with a quick recoil: “She wouldn’t have dragged God in that way, in old times — ” and suddenly heard an emotional murmur at his back, and became aware that his grandmother, as she clasped him, had seen Mrs. Spear enter the room.
Vance’s recoil was only momentary; yet the impression left a faint smirch on the freshness of Mrs. Scrimser’s spontaneity. She had become a prophetess now, conscious of her audience.
“Dear Mrs. Scrimser, you’ll forgive me? I felt I must see the meeting between you two!” Mrs. Spear sighed out with eloquent eyes and a hand affectionately extended to Vance.
But already there were sounds of arrival in the hall; the sense of the little apartment becoming more and more packed with people; the door of the study opening to admit Saidie Toler, straight and colourless as us Cheap GHD Straighteners – Cheap ghds UK Sale ual, and accompanied by a large battered blonde, Mrs. Lotus Mennenkoop, who declared emotionally that she must see Vance before the speaker took her place on the platform . . . .
The two little drawing rooms had been thrown into one, and they were already crowded when Vance slipped in at the back. Before him, rank on rank, the packed heads of the “Seekers” stretched up to an improvised platform, with wax lights and a table covered with old brocade. Vance did not re cheap ghd straighteners cognize many people; most of those present seemed to belong to other regions of Mrs. Spear’s rambling activities. But he was sure they were representative of their kind; Mrs. Spear was not the woman to have anything but the newest, even in religion. This world of spiritual investigation was unfamiliar to him; there were no “Seekers” in the Tarrant group, much less at the Cocoanut Tree or Rebecca Stram’s. The audience seemed mainly composed of elderly men with beards and gold-rimmed glasses, pallid youths, and ladies of indeterminate age, in black silk or Greek draperies. He was surprised to see among them Mrs. Pulsifer, with Tarrant at her side, and in another part of the room the sleek heads and jewelled arms of a cluster of smart young women who belonged to the Tarrant set. Such a mixture was unexpected, and still more so the earnest and attentive expression of the fashionable members of the audience, who appeared to have c cheap ghds ome in good faith, and not to scoff, as he had feared.
Vance forgot to wonder if Halo Tarrant were in the room; forgot everything but his passionate curiosity to see what impression his grandmother would make on an audience so strangely blent, and so new to her. Whoever they were, he knew the “Seekers” would test Mrs. Scrimser by standards other and more searching than those of Euphoria, or even of Dakin and Lakeshore; and his heart was up in arms to defend her.
And now here she was, in the soft illumination of the little platform. As he gazed at her across the fervent backs of the “Seekers” she seemed to him to have grown still larger. Saidie Toler, seated at one elbow, looked like a shadow, Mrs. Mennenkoop, at the other, like a shrivelled virgin. Womanhood, vast and dominant, billowed out between them.
Mrs. Scrimser rose to her feet. Mrs. Lotus Mennenkoop had spoken a few words of introduction; phrases about a “new message,” “our spiritual leader,” “the foremost exponent of the new psychical ethics,” had drifted by unheeded; t heap ghd hair straighteners uk he “Seekers” wanted Mrs. Scrimser.
She swayed to them across the table and began. “Meet God,” she said, spacing her syllables impressively; then she paused. Her voice sounded richer, more resonant than ever; but Vance’s unaccustomed ear was shocked by her intonation. Had she always had those hideous drawling gutturals?
“Meet God — that’s what I want all you dear people here with me this evening to do . . . I presu ghd outlet me some of you know ABOUT God already; and all of you at least know OF Him,” she urged, caressing her italics. She paused again, reaching out toward her audience. “The way we know about folks in the next street.” (“New Yorkers don’t,” her grandson reflected.) “Or the way we know of famous people in the past: great heroes or splendid noble-hearted women. That’s not the way I want you to know about God. I want you to know Him Himself — to get acquainted with Him, the way you would if He was living in the house next door, and you sent round to borrow the lawn mower. I want you to get to know Him so well that you’re always borrowing, and He’s always lending; so that finally you don’t hardly know what belongs to you and what belongs to Him — and I guess maybe He don’t either. That’s the reason I say to you all: MEET GOD! Because Cheap GHD Straighteners , oh, you dear beloved people sitting here listening to me, I’ve met Him; and I know what it’s like!”
She stood silent, her face illumined, as Vance had seen it when she looked up to the sky from the porch at Crampton. She was certainly a beautiful old woman, he thought; and he felt that the people about him thought so too. But what did they make of her exordium? They were silent; he felt that their judgment was suspended. But there was the hideous slur of her pronunciation, blurring and soiling every word . . . .
She was hurrying on now, swept along on the full flood of revelation, pleading with them to see what to her was so plain, so divinely visible. The point was, she argued, that God wasn’t just here or there, in lecture halls, in churches, and on the lips of preachers. He wasn’t even just up in the sky, as holy peopl cheap ghd wide plate straighteners e used to think. They knew now that the marvellous star-jewelled heavens were just atoms, like all the rest of the universe . . . all those wonderful stars that people in old times used to believe were the crowns of the angels! They knew now that God was a million times greater and bigger than all that, because He was in men’s souls; He was always creating, but also He was always being created. The quaint old idea of the Mass, of the priest turning bread into God, that seemed to enlightened modern minds so ignorant and barbarous, had something in it after-all, if you looked at it as the symbol of the wonderful fact that man is always creating God; that wherever a great thought is born, or a noble act performed, there God is created. THAT is the real Eucharist, the real remaking of Divinity. If you knew God, you knew that: y cheap ghd straighteners next day delivery ou knew you had in your soul the power to make Him . . . that every one of us, in the old Bible phrase, may be a priest after the Order of Melchizedek. . . . Talk of the equality of man with man! Why, we’d got way past that. The new Revelation wasn’t going to rest till it had taught the equality of man with God . . . .
http://www.yourfuturechoiceaction.org.uk/ we’d got way past that.