as he had often told her

ecause so very little was of that quality.” Without taking the book from him, or looking at the page, she went on:
“‘But O, that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover . . .’”
Vance listened enthralled. Her rich voice, modelling the words, gave them a new relief. He was half aware that her way of speaking was unlike any he had ever heard, but too much under thespell of what she was saying to separate it from the quality of her utterance. He commanded imperiously: “Go on — ” and she continued, leaning slightly toward him and dropping the petal-like syllables with soft deliberation:
“‘A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw . . .’”
Vance leaned back and listened with deep-drawn breath and lowered lids. “Honey-dew . . . honey-dew . . .” he murmured as she ended, half consciously applying the epithet to her voice.
She dropped down into a chair beside him and looked at him thoughtfully. “It’s queer — your caring as much as that about poetry, and never having come across this.”
He flushed up, and for the first time looked at her with full awareness of her presence as a stranger, and an intruder on his dream. The look confirmed him in the impression that she was very young, though probably two or three years older than himself. But it might be only her tallness and self-assurance which made him think her older. She had dark gray eyes, deeply lashed, and features somewhat too long and thin in repose, but rounded and illumined by a smile which flashed across her face in sudden sympathy or amusement. Vance detected amusement now, and answered curtly: “I daresay if you knew me you’d think there was a whole lot of things I’d never come across.”
“I daresay,” she agreed complaisantly. “But I might also remember that you were probably too young even to have heard of ‘The Ancient Mariner.’”
“Coleridge? The ‘Ancient Mariner’ one? Was it the same who wrote this?”
She nodded. “You know ‘The Ancient Mariner,’ then? Sixth Reader, I suppose — or college course?” She laughed a little. “So culture comes.”
He interrupted angrily: “What have I said to make you laugh?”
“Nothing. I wasn’t laughing at you, but at the intelligence of our national educators — no, educationists, I think they call themselves nowadays — who manage to take the bloom off our greatest treasures by giving them to young savages to maul. I see, for instance, that they’ve spoilt ‘The Ancient Mariner’ for you.” She continued to scrutinize him thoughtfully. “You’re not one of the young savages — but the bloom has been rubbed off a good many things for you in that way, hasn’t it?”
“Well, yes — some.”
“Not that it matters — for YOU. You’ll get it back. But I do so hate to think of mutilated beauty.”
MUTILATED BEAUTY! How rich the words sounded on her lips — as if she swept the rubbish of the centuries from some broken statue, noble in its ruin! Vance continued to look at her, absently yet intently. He had drawn her into his dream.
But she stood up and pushed her chair aside. “And now,” she said gaily, in a new voice, a light and humorous one, “perhaps you’ll tell me who you are and how you got here.”
The question seemed to come to him from so far off that he stared at her perplexedly before answering. “I— oh, I’m just the Tracys’ cousin. I’m staying at their house. They’re somewhere round dusting the other rooms.”
Her look became more friendly. “Oh, you’re the cousin from the West, who’s been ill and has come to Paul’s Landing for a change? Mrs. Tracy told me about you — only I can’t remember your name.”
“Vance Weston.”
“Mine’s Hélo?se Spear. They call me Halo. The name and the nickname are both ridiculous.” She held out her hand. “And you’ve come to call on poor old Cousin Elinor? It’s an attention she doesn’t often receive from her own family.” She glanced about the room. “I haven’t been here in an age — I don’t know what made me come today. At least I didn’t — ” she broke off with one of her fugitive smiles, letting her eyes rest on his and then turning away from him to inspect the books. “Some day,” she said, as if to herself, “I must have the courage to take these down and give them a good cleaning.”
Vance stood up also, beginning to speak eagerly. “Could I come and help you when you do — I mean with the books? I’d — I’d like it first-rate.”
She turned back to him, her eyes brimming with banter and coquetry. “On account of the books?”
But he was too deep in his own emotion to heed the challenge. He answered simply: “I don’ nike jordans release dates t often get a chance at this kind.” His eyes followed hers about the crowded shelves. “I’ve never before been in a house with a library — a real library like this.”
She gave a little shrug. “Oh, it’s a funny library, antiquated, like the house. But Cousin Elinor does seem to have cared for good poetry. When other ladies were reading ‘Friendship’s Garland’ she chose Coleridge.”
His gaze returned perplexed to her face. “Why do you call it a funny library?”
“Well, it’s not exactly up-to-date. I suppose it’s a fairly good specimen of what used to be called a ‘gentleman’s library’ in my great-grandfather’s time. With additions, naturally, from each generation. Cousin nike jordans retro 4 Elinor must have bought a good many books herself.” She looked about her critically. “After all,” she concluded with a smile, “the Willows is getting to have an atmosphere.”
Vance listened, still perplexed. Her allusions escaped him — her smile was unintelligible — but he gathered that she attached no very great importance to the house, or to the books, and he dimly resented this air of taking for granted what to him was the revelation of an unknown world.
Involuntarily he lowered his voice. “It’s the fi rst time I’ve ever been in a very old house,” he said, as if announcing something of importance.
“A very old house? The Willows?” The idea seemed a new one to her. “Well — after all, everything is relative, as what’s-his-name said.”
“Don’t you call it a very old house?”
She wrinkled her dark eyebrows in an effort of memory. “Let me see. Father’s great-uncle Ambrose Lorburn built it, I believe. When would that be?” She began to count on her fingers. “Say about 1830. Well, that DOES make it very nearly an old house for America, doesn’t it? Almost a hundred years!”
“And the same folks always lived in it?”
“Oh, of course.” She seemed surprised at the question. “The present owner is the first absentee — poor Cousin Tom! He thinks he ought to live here, but he says he can’t come up to scratch. So he makes up for it by keeping everything unchanged.” Again she surveyed the plaintive shadowy room. “I suppose,” she mused, “the house will be getting to have an archaeological interest of its own before long. It must be one of the best specimens of Hudson River Brack nike air jordan eted that are left, even in our ultra-conservative neighbourhood.”
To Vance she seemed still to be speaking another language, of which he caught only an occasional phrase, and even that but half comprehensible.
“Hudson River Bracketed?” he echoed. “What’s that?”
“Why, didn’t you know it was our indigenous style of architecture in this part of the world?” Her smile of mockery had returned, but he did not mind for he saw it was not directed against himself. “I perceive,” she continued, “that you are not familiar with the epoch~making work of A. J. Downing Esq. on Landscape Gardening in America.” She turned to the bookcases, ran her hand along a shelf, and took down a volume bound in black cloth with the title in gilt Gothic lettering. Her fingers flew from page to page, her short~sighted eyes following as swiftly. “Here — here’s the place. It’s too long to read aloud; but the point is that Mr. Downing, who was the great authority of the period, sums up the principal architectural styles as the Grecian, the Chinese, the Gothic, the Tuscan or Italian villa, and — Hudson River Bracketed. Unless I’m mistaken, he cites the Willows as one of the most perfect examples of Hudson River Bracketed (this was in 1842), and — yes, here’s the place: nike jordans retro ‘The seat of Ambrose Lorburn Esq., the Willows, near Paul’s Landing, Dutchess County, N.Y., is one of the most successful instances of etc., etc. . . . architectural elements ingeniously combined from the Chinese and the Tuscan.’ And so they were! What an eye the man had. And here’s the picture, willows and all! How lovely these old steel engravings were . . . and look at my great~uncle and aunt on the lawn, pointing out to each other with pride and admiration their fairly obvious copper beech . . . ‘one of the first ever planted in a gentleman’s grounds in the United States.’”
They bent their heads together over the engraving, which, as she said, reproduced the house exactly as Vance had just beheld it, except that the willows were then slender young trees, and the lawns mown, that striped awnings shaded the lower windows nike jordans for men , and that a gentleman in a tall hat and a stock was calling the attention of a lady in bonnet and cashmere shawl to the celebrated copper beech. From Miss Spear’s tone Vance could not tell whether pride or mockery was uppermost in her comments on her ancestor’s achievement. But he dimly guessed that, though she might laugh at the Willows, and at what Mr. Downing said of it, she was not sorry that the house figured so honourably in his book.
“There,” she concluded with a laugh, “now you know what the Hudson River Bracketed style was like, and why Uncle Ambrose Lorburn was so proud of his specimen of it.” She handed him the volume, glanced at her wristwatch, and turned to nod to him from the threshold. “Gracious, how late it is! I must hunt up the Tracy children, and see how much crockery they’ve smashed.”
She disappeared in nike air jordans retro the spectral shadows of the drawing room, and Vance heard her heels rapping lightly across the hall, and through unknown rooms and passages beyond. He sat motionless where she had left him, his elbows propped on the table, the book still open before him, his head pressed between his hands, letting the strangeness of the place and the hour envelop him like the falling light.
It was dusk in the book-lined room when he was roused by Upton’s hobbledehoy tread and a tap on the shoulder. “What’s become of you? I guess you’ve been sound asleep,” his cousin challenged him.
Vance sat upright with a start. “No, I haven’t been asleep.” He got to his feet and looked about him. “Where’s Miss Spear?”
“Miss Halo? Oh, did you see her? She’s gone long ago. A gentleman friend called for her in his car. I don’t know where they went. She neve nike jordans son of mars r stays anywhere more than five minutes.” Vance was silent, and Upton added: “Say, come along; Laura Lou’s waiting. Time to lock up.”
Vance reluctantly followed his cousin. As they left the house he realized that, instead of seizing the opportunity to explore every nook of it, he had sat all the afternoon in one room, and merely dreamed of what he might have seen in the others. But that was always his way: the least little fragment of fact was enough for him to transform into a palace of dreams, whereas if he tried to grasp more of it at a time it remained on his hands as so much unusable reality.
Chapter 7
Three men and two ladies were sitting on the shabby paintless verandah at Eaglewood at the end of a summer afternoon.
The place was full of the signs of comfortable but disorderly use. A low table was spread with tea thi nike jordans ngs, a teapot of one make, cups of another, plates with fragments of stale-looking cake and cold toast. There were willow armchairs, some disabled and mended with string, but all provided with gaily striped cushions which had visibly suffered from sun and rain; there were also long deck chairs with tattered plaids or Indian blankets on them, and more cushions strewn on the floor, among a litter of magazines and newspapers. In one corner stood a tall earthen jar with branches of blossoming plum and shadbush, in another an easel with a study blocked out in charcoal, and everywhere were trails of ashes, and little accumulations of cigar and cigarette ends.
The low-studded old house of gray stone was throned on the mountainside so high above Paul’s Landing that those who sat on the verandah missed the dispiriting sight of the t Cheap buy nike air jordan basketball shoes own and of the cement works below, and saw only, beyond the precipitate plunge of many~tinted forest, the great sweep of the Hudson, and the cliffs on its other shore.
The view from Eaglewood was famous — yet visible, Hélo?se Spear reflected, to none of those who habitually lived with it except herself. Her mother, she thought, had probably seen it for a while, years ago, in her first eager youth; then it had been lost in a mist of multiple preoccupations, literary, humanitarian, and domestic, from which it emerged only when visitors were led out on the verandah for the first time. “Ah, our view — YES,” Mrs. Spear would then murmur, closing her handsome eyes as if to shut herself in with the unutterable, away from the importunities of spoken praise. And her guests would remain silent, too much impressed by her attitude to f cheap nike jordans ind the superlatives expected of them.
As for Mr. Spear, his daughter knew that he had simply never seen the view at all; his eyes had never been still long enough. But he had read of it in verse and prose; he talked of it with vivacity and emotion; he knew the attitude to strike, deprecating yet possessive, lighting a cigarette while the others gazed, and saying: “The poets have sung us, as you know. You remember Bryant’s ‘Eyrie’? Yes — that’s the Eaglewood view. He used to stay here with my wife’s great-grandfather. And Washington Irving, in his Sketch Book. And Whitman — it’s generally supposed . . .” And at that point Mrs. Spear would open her eyes to interject: “Really? You didn’t know that my husband knew Whitman? I always scold him for not having written down some of their wonderful talks together — ”
“Ah, Whitman wa nike jordans cheap s a very old man when I knew him — immobilized at Camden. He never came here in my time. But from something he once said I gathered that Eaglewood undoubtedly . . . yes, I must really jot it all down one of these days . . . .”
Mr. Spear’s past was full of the dateless blur of the remarkable things he had not jotted down. Slim, dark, well-preserved, with his wavy grayish hair and cleverly dyed moustache, he was the type of the busy dreamer who is forever glancing at his watch, calling impatiently for timetables and calendars (two articles never to be found in the Spear household), calculating and plotting out his engagements, doubting whether there will be time to squeeze in this or that, wondering if after all it will be possible to “make it,” and then, at the end of each day, groaning as he lights his after~dinner cigar: “ nike jordans for kids Devil take it, when I got up this morning I thought of a lot of rather important things I had to do — and like a fool I forgot to jot them down.” It was not to be expected, Halo thought, that a man as busy as her father should ever have time to look at a sunset.
As for Hélo?se’s brother Lorry (Lorburn, of course) who sat extended in the hollow of a canvas chair, his handsome contemptuous head tilted back, and his feet on the verandah rail, Lorry, the fool, COULD see the view when he chose, and out of sheer perversity and posing, wouldn’t — and that was worst of all, to his sister’s thinking. “Oh, for God’s sake, Halo, don’t serve up the view again, there’s a good girl! Shan’t I ever be able to teach you NOT TO HAVE TASTE? The world’s simply dying of a surfeit of scenery — an orgy of beauty. If my father would cut down some of those completely superfluous trees, and let us get a line on the chimney of the cement factory . . . It’s a poor little chimney, of course, but it’s got the supreme quality of ugliness. In certain lights, you know, it’s almost as ugly as the Willows . . . or the Parthenon, say . . . .”
But unless there were visitors present Lorry seldom got as far as the Parthenon in his monologue, because he knew his family had long since discounted his opinions about beauty, and went on thinking of other things while he was airing them — even old George Frenside did nowadays, though once the boy’s paradoxes had seemed to amuse him.
George Frenside was the other man on the verandah. There he sat, behind his sempiternal cigar, glowering into the tender spaces of the sky as if what he saw there were an offense to the human race; yet Halo wondered if one could say of those small deep-sunk eyes, forever watchful behind their old-fashioned pince-nez, that anything they rested on escaped them. Probably not; for in certain ways he was sensitive to beauty, and not afraid of it, like Lorry. Only, to move him, it had to be beauty of man’s making, something wrung by human genius out of the stubborn elements. The sunset and the woodlands were nothing to him if they had not fed a poet or a painter — a poet preferably. Frenside had often said to Halo: “No, my child; remember I’m not a vegetarian — never could digest raw landscape.” But that did not mean that he did not SEE it, did not parcel it out into its component parts with those cool classifying eyes. George Frenside was aware of most things; little escaped him of the cosmic spectacle. Only for him the beauty of the earth was something you could take apart, catalogue, and pigeonhole, and not the enveloping harmony it was to the girl who sat beside him looking out on the sunset opalescence at their feet.
George Frenside was an institution at Eaglewood, and wherever else the Spears set up their tents. His short stocky figure, his brooding Socratic head, his cigar and eyeglasses, figured among Halo’s earliest recollections, and she had always seen him as she saw him now: elderly, poor, unsuccessful, and yet more masterful, more stimulating, than anyone else she had known. “A fire that warms everything but itself,” she had once defined him; but he had snapped back: “I don’t warm, I singe.”
Not a bad description of his relation to most people; but she, who knew him so well, knew also the communicative glow he could give out, and often wondered why it had never lit up his own path.
She was familiar with Frenside’s explanation: the critical faculty outweighed all others in him, and, as he had often told her, criticism won’t keep its man. He saw (he also said) the skeletons of things and people: he was a walking radiograph. God knows he didn’t want to be — would rather not have had a decomposing mind. But it was the one allotted to him, and with it he had lingered on the outskirts of success, contributing fierce dissections of political and literary ideas to various newspapers and reviews, often refusing to write an article when it was asked for — and especially when a good sum was offered for it — and then suddenly dashing off a brilliant diatribe which no one wanted, and which came back to him from one editor after another. He had written, a good many years earlier, a brief volume of essays called Dry Points, which had had a considerable success in the limited circle of the cultivated, and been enthusiastically reviewed in England. This had produced a handsome offer from a publisher, who asked Frenside for a revolutionary book on education: a subject made to his hand. The idea delighted him, he wanted the money badly, he had never before had the offer of so large a sum; and he sat paralyzed by the completeness of the opportunity. One day he found a title which amused him — The Art of Imparting Ignorance — and that was the only line of the book he ever wrote.

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