Don’t think of it as ‘society

to a party.”
“A party —?”
“She wants to give you a party. She says lots of people are crazy to see you. She said I oughtn’t to keep you so shut up. . . . She asked me to pick an evening . . . .” There was a curious ring of gratified pride under the affected indifference of Laura Lou’s voice.
“Well, did you?” Vance asked ironically.
“I said she’d better see you. I said I didn’t care about parties, but I’d never kept you from going.” She paused, and added rigidly: “I told her there was no use coming here to see you because you were always out.”
Vance received this in silence. What was there to say? Mrs. Tarrant had come to invite them to a party — had delivered her invitation in that room! Did she really think parties were a panacea for such a plight as theirs? Or had she been moved by another impulse which had been checked on her lips by Laura Lou’s manifest hostility? The dreary ironic light of failure lay on everything, as it had on that far-off day at Euphoria when Vance, recovering from his fever, had poured out his bitterness in his first tale. Perhaps life would never again be bearable to him except as material for his art. In itself it seemed persistently ugly and uncontrollable, a horror one could neither escape from nor master — as if one should be forever battling in the dark with a grimacing idiot.
“See here — there’ll be nothing left to eat if we don’t go down,” he reminded his wife.
“I don’t want anything. I’m not hungry. Besides, it’s too late . . . you’re always too late . . . .”
At that he snatched up his hat and coat in sudden anger. The likeness to Mrs. Tracy was not in his wife’s face alone. “Oh, all right. Just as you like. I’m hungry, if you’re not. If dinner’s over I’ll go out and get a bite somewhere.”
“You better,” she rejoined, in the same lifeless tone; and without looking back at her he flung the door shut and ran downstairs and out of the house.
In the first chophouse that he passed he found a table, ordered sausage and potatoes, with a cup of coffee, and devoured them ravenously. He was still young enough for anger and grief to make him hungry. . . . There was no one he knew in the place, and after he had satisfied his hunger he pulled out his letters and glanced over them. As he had expected, they were all on literary business. One important publisher, who wanted his next novel, asked him to call and see if, in the course of a talk, they could not devise some plan of adjustment with Dreck and Saltzer. Though Vance had no hope of this he was encouraged by the urgency of the request. How easy it would have been, he thought, to work his way through his two remaining years of bondage if only Laura Lou had not weighed down every endeavour — if only he had been free and alone! But there was no use in going through that weary round again. He had had the chance of freeing himself and had refused it. How could a fellow tell beforehand where each act would lead, and what would be the next to grow out of it? Perhaps they were right, those chaps at Rebecca Stram’s, who said it was all a blind labyrinth, a disconnected muddle . . . .
The despair of youth overcame him. He felt a sudden loss of faith in himself, in his powers, in the intrinsic interest of things, in his capacity to drag through these next two years of poverty, drudgery, and mental hunger.
He asked the waitress if he could telephone. She said yes, and led him to the back of the room. He looked up a number and rang. . . . Suddenly he heard an answering voice, and repeated the number. “Yes,” the voice said. He stammered: “I want to speak to Mrs. Tarrant,” and the same voice, with a note of reproach, came back: “Why, Vance, don’t you know me? Yes . . . I’m here. . . . Yes, come . . . come at once . . . do.” He hung up, and turned back dizzily to the door. She was there, she was so close that he seemed to feel her light touch on his shoulder. . . . And she had been there, so near to him, all these months, and he had never once tried to see her. It seemed incredible, preposterous, the very core and centre of his folly. Why had he gone on starving when the banquet was spread and within his reach?
At the door of the Tarrants’ apartment house his morbid sensitiveness to the visible world and its implications produced in him an abrupt change of view. It was long since he had entered one of those quiet commodious buildings, where everything bespoke conditions so different from those which imprisoned him. He recalled with compunction his outburst against Laura Lou. No wonder she had resented Mrs. Tarrant’s visit — no wonder any advance from people living in ease and amenity seemed to the poor child like a deliberate condescension. Poor Laura Lou! If he nike free could have given her a little cottage in a pleasant suburb, something of her own to be proud of and fuss over, it might have altered everything . . . As he stepped into the panelled lift and swung up to the top story he felt a gnawing anger against the unfairness of life, the cruelty of social conditions. He no longer remembered that when he had called up Mrs. Tarrant the thought of her had been a means of escape from his misery, that he had yielded to the urgent need of talking over his new book nike free trainers uk with her, and plunging once more into the healing springs of her sympathy. Now that he was on her threshold he felt only the blind desire to punish her — punish her for her tactless intrusion on his wife, for living as she lived, for being what she was, for not leaving him and Laura Lou alone to live and to be as they were doomed to, with or without her interference . . . .
The door opened on the softly lit anteroom. A maid took his hat and coat, and said: “This way;” and there she sat, by the fire in the library, alone. She wore something dark and lacy, through which her upper arms showed; and the sober book-lined room, with its shaded lamps, and a few lilylike crimson flowers in a tall jar, seemed a part of her, the necessary background to her aloof and reticent grace. Vance recalled the room in which he had left Laura Lou, and at the same moment, joined to that evocation, came the vision of this woman turning from him, with a careless pleasantry, in that other room at the Willows where cheap nike free run 2 he had cast his soul at her feet. . . . No, there could be no common meeting ground for him and Halo Tarrant; the conditions of life divided them too sharply. Material well-being, security from hunger and debt, made people callous and unfeeling, perhaps without any fault of their own. But he had been right in deciding not to see her again, and wrong in yielding to the impulse which had l Nike Free Run ed him to her tonight.
“Vance — how glad I am!” she said, rising and holding out her two hands in the old friendly way.
He stood near the door, bound hand and foot in coils of awkwardness and resentment. “You went to see my wife today,” he began, and stopped, not knowing how to go on.
Mrs. Tarrant raised her eyebrows slightly. “Yes. It was so long since I’d had any news of either of you. I thought she was not looking well the day she lunched here . . . and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do . . . .”
“No. There’s nothing you can do.”
He felt the surprise and pain in her eyes without daring to meet them. “I’m sorry,” she rejoined simply. “But I’m glad you’ve come this evening. Sit down, won’t you, Vance? I’m a Cheap Nike Free Run 3/5.0 Runners Shoes Australia Womens/Mens Sale ll alone — Lewis is at a man’s dinner, and I thought I’d snatch a quiet evening with my books.”
Vance still hung in the middle of the wide space between the door and the fireplace. “I guess I won’t interrupt you then,” he said, still at a loss for his next phrase.
“Interrupt me? How can you say that? You know I’ve wanted a talk with you for a long time.”
“No, I didn’t know . . . I mean . . .” He broke off suddenly. “My wife wasn’t well when you called. You oughtn’t to have gone up into her room without her asking you,” he blurted out.
“Can’t you see how people feel,” he continued passionately, “when somebody l ike you, coming out of this — ” he took in the room with a gesture of reproach, “when you come into the kind of place we have to live in, and try to pretend that there can ever be anything in common between our lives and yours?”
Mrs. Tarrant, resting one hand on the back of her chair, still gazed at him in perplexity. “Vance — I don’t understand. Did Laura Lou object to my visit?”
“She felt about it the way I do. nike free 3.0 sale We know you mean to be kind. But it’s no use. We don’t belong to your kind of people — never will. And it just complicates things for me if you . . .” He checked himself, conscious that he was betraying what he had meant to conceal.
“I see,” she murmured in a low voice. There was an interval of silence; then she said: “I’m sorry to have done anything stupid. You know I’m impulsive, and not used to standing on ceremony. I went to see Laura Lou because I wanted to have news of you both, and because I particularly want you to come here some evening to meet a few people who really care for your book, and would talk to you intelligently about it. You ought to see more people of that sort — give them a chance to know you and talk with you. It would stimulate you, I’m sure, and be good for your work.”
Vance felt his colour rising. nike free run 2 review It was difficult to reply in a spirit of animosity to words so simple and kindly. But the suggestion of the evening party recalled Laura Lou’s resentment.
“Thank you — but that’s no use either. Evening parties, I mean. They’re not for people like us . . . .”
She did not answer immediately; then she said: “Won’t you sit down, Vance? I hoped you’d come for a long talk . . . .”
He replied, without noticing her request: “I came to say we’re much obliged to you for thinking of us, but it’s no use your bothering — really no use.”
She moved nearer and laid her hand on his. “Vance — what’s wrong? What has happened? How can you speak to a friend of ‘bothering’ about you? If you don’t want to meet people, I won’t invite them; but that seems no reason why you and I shouldn’t talk together sometimes in the old way. Perhaps you haven’t missed our talks as much as I have — perhaps they didn’t count as much in your life as they did in mine . . . .”
She paused, and suddenly he flung up his hands and hid his face in them. “Not count — not count in my life?”
He felt her fingers gently slipped through his, drawing his hands down so that his face was uncovered to her scrutiny and his eyes were forced to look into hers. “Not count . . . not count?” He stared at her through a blur of tears.
“They did, Vance? I’m so glad. Then why try to deny it? Why shouldn’t we just go back to where we were before? I’m sure you’ve got lots to tell me about your new plans . . . .”
He snatched his hands away and hid his face again, struggling to choke back his sobs. What would she think — what would she suppose? But it was no use fighting against the surge of joy and agony that ca nike free review ught him and shook him like a young tree in a spring gale. He stammered out: “I’m a fool. . . . You mustn’t mind me. . . . I’ve been through hell lately. . . . Just let me sit here a little while without talking, till I get used to you again . . . .” and without a word she went back to her chair and sat there silently, the shaded lamplight on her quiet head.
Chapter 34
It was long past midnight when he cautiously pushed open his door on Mrs. Hubbard’s third story. The light from a street lamp, shining through the shutterless window, showed him Laura Lou in bed, asleep or pretending to be; and he undressed as noiselessly as he could and lay down beside her. He was used to her ways now: he knew she would not begin questioning him till the next morning, and he lay there, his arms crossed under his head, staring up at the crack nike free run plus ed and blotched ceiling, and reliving with feverish vividness the hours he had spent with Halo Tarrant. He did not mean to tell Laura Lou where he had been; to do so would only grieve her. Besides, she would never believe him when he told her that all those hours had been spent in talk: the absorbing, illuminating, inexhaustible exchange of confidences and ideas. Laura Lou could not imagine what anybody could have to say that would take that length of time. . . . And Vance himself could hardly believe that this woman, without whom life was so lame and incomplete a business, this woman whom he had so missed and longed for, and thought he hated, could have calmed his vehemence, cast a spell over his throbbing senses, and kept him with her, enriched and satisfied, by the mere magic of her attentive understanding . . . .
He had nike free running shoes told her everything — tumbled out all his distresses and anxieties, the misery of his marriage, the material cares that made his work so difficult, his secret resentment of what had appeared to him her hardness and indifference when they had parted at the Willows. Nothing had been farther from his intention than to speak to her in this way: he had sought her out as the one confidante of his literary projects, had imagined that pride and loyalty forbade any personal confession. But once his reserve had broken down there rushed through the breach all the accumulated distress of the long months since he had seen her. The exquisite solace of confessing everything effaced all scruples and reserves. He was as powerless as ever to conceal his soul from her . . . and with every word he felt her understanding reaching out to him, s nike free 5.0 v4 oothing the way for what he had to tell. Instead of the resistance against which he was always instinctively arming himself, which made him involuntarily deform every phrase to fit it to a mind so different from his own that there was not one point where they dovetailed, or even touched — instead of that he felt the relief of knowing that his clumsiest word, his lamest statement, would be smoothed out, set upright, and drawn in across the threshold of a perpetually welcoming mind . . . .
And then, when he began to talk about his work (“the only thing worthwhile,” he passionately repeated) — ah, then it seemed as if they were in the library of the Willows again, in the green summer twilight, while he read and she listened, taking in his meaning with every line of lids and lips, and the quietness of that head supported statue nike free 3.0 review like on her smooth bare arm. . . . It was curious, though, how some substitution of values of which she held the secret caused this spiritual communion to bring them nearer than the embraces he had hungered for at the Willows. Or perhaps his recoil from the idea of combining physical endearments with such a communion was due to Laura Lou’s persistent suspicion. He would have to dissociate sensual passion from all that had debased and cheapened it before it could blend with his vision of this woman who had understood and pitied him. . . . Next morning, when the questioning began, Vance told his wife that he had stopped in at the “Loafers’,” and stayed late talking about his book with a lot of fellows. “And that Stram woman, I suppose?” she suggested; and he retorted, plunging his angry face into the basin: “Oh, yes, and half the vaudeville stage of New York.” Laura Lou was brushing her hair before the looking glass. He caught the reflection of the small pale oval, the reddened lids, the ripe lips crumpled up with distress, and turning to her he passed his wet hand through her hair, tumbling it forward over her eyes. “You little goose, you . . .” She caught his hand and flung herself against him. “I don’t care a single scrap, darling, as long as you didn’t go and see Mrs. Tarrant,” she whispered, her lips on his. “Oh, hell,” he laughed, jerking away from her to finish his dressing . . . .
He had given Mrs. Tarrant a rough outline of Loot, and had been troubled, for a moment, by her hesitation, her reluctance to express an opinion. She thought the subject too big for him — was that it? No, not too big . . . she had confidence in his range . . . and she agreed with Frenside that he must above all not attempt another Instead. That had been a radiant accident; it would be disastrous to try to repeat it. When he murmured: “Pondicherry,” and spoke of the vision the word evoked, she shook her head, and said: “The publishers would jump at it; but take care!” No, Frenside was right; he must try his hand now at reality, the reality that lay about him. For the novelist, fantasy was a sterile bloom, after all. Only (she wondered) was he sufficiently familiar with the kind of life he was going to describe? Vance laughed and said that Frenside had put the same question. He ought to go out more, Frenside said, rub up against New York in its various phases, especially the social ones — oh, none of your damned documentation, that corpse-dissecting, as Frenside called it — Vance must just let himself live, go about among people, let the place and the people work themselves into his pores. . . . Excellent advice, but not so easy, when a fellow . . .
Here she interrupted him, leaning forward with her drawn-up scrutinizing gaze. “Vance, what is it? What’s wrong? Why do you persist in burying yourself instead of taking advantage of your success?”
“Well, I guess it’s because I’m not used to society, for one thing . . . .”
“Don’t think of it as ‘society,’ but just as a few friendly people who admire your work and want to know you. . . . Come here and see them,” she urged; and when he confessed that he had no evening clothes she laughed, and asked if he supposed she meant to invite him to formal entertainments, and if he didn’t know that Frenside never could be coaxed out on tailcoat occasions? Later, she added, when Vance had got more used to it all, he must go to some of the big shows too — the opera, musical parties, millionaire dinners, the whole stupid round — just to see how “the other half lived”; but meanwhile all she suggested was that he should not cut himself off from the small group of the cultivated and intelligent, who might stimulate him and enlarge his point of view — not, at least, she added, if he meant to go on writing novels . . . .
Of course he agreed with her; of course he said he would come on whatever evening she named. The mere so

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