My God! Who wrote it

g near noon that day from the sleep into which she had fallen after the vigil on Thundertop, Hélo?se Spear sat up in bed and thought: “What’s wrong?”
She stretched her arms above her head, pushed back her hair from her sleepy eyes, and looked about her room, which was cooled by the soft green light filtered through the leaves of the ancient trumpet creeper above her window. For a moment or two the present was drowned in the remembered blaze of the sunrise, and the enjoyment of the hunger satisfied beside the pool; but already she knew that — as was almost invariable in her experience — something disagreeable lurked in the heart of her memories: as if every enjoyment in life h nike air max 1 black ad to be bought by a bother.
“That boy has eyes — I was right,” she thought; and then, immediately: “Oh, I know, the motor!” For she had remembered, in the act of re-evoking young Weston, that on the way home the car had stopped suddenly, a mile or more above Eaglewood, and that, after a long struggle (during which he had stood helplessly watching her, seemingly without an idea as to how he might come to her aid,) they had had to abandon it by the roadside, and she had parted with her companion at the Eaglewood gates after telling him how to find his way home on foot. She herself had meant to take a couple of hours of sleep, and then slip out early to catch the man~of-all-work before the household was up, and persuade him to get the delinquent motor home somehow. But as soon as she had undressed, and thrown herself on her b nike air max 1 ed, she sank into the bottomless sleep of youth; and here it was nearly lunchtime, and everybody downstairs, and the absence of the motor doubtless already discovered! And, with matters still undecided between herself and Lewis Tarrant, she had not especially wanted him to know that she had been out without him to see the sunrise — the more so as he would never belie cheap air max 1 ve she had gone up to Thundertop unaccompanied.
Ah, how she envied the girls of her age who had their own cars, who led their own lives, sometimes even had their own bachelor flats in New York! Except as a means to independence riches were nothing to her; and to acquire them by marriage, and then coldly make use of them for her own purposes, was as distasteful to her as anything in her present life. And yet she longed for freedom, and saw no other way to it. If nike air max 1 premium only her eager interest in life had been matched by some creative talent! She could half paint, she could half write — but her real gift (and she knew it) was for appreciating the gifts of others. Even had discipline and industry fostered her slender talents they would hardly have brought her a living. She had measured herself and knew it — and what else was there for her but marriage? “Oh, well,” she thought, for the thousandth time, “something may turn up . . .” which meant, as she knew, that her m nike air max 1 grey other’s cousin, old Tom Lorburn, might drop off at any moment and leave her the Willows, with enough money to get away from it, and from Paul’s Landing, forever.
She heard her mother’s fluttering knock, and Mrs. Spear came in, drooping, distressed, and dimly beautiful.
“Oh, Halo — asleep still? I’m sorry to disturb you, darlin g, but it’s after eleven” (“I know, I know,” grumbled Hélo?se, always impatient of the obvious), “and something so tiresome has happened. The motor has disappeared. Jacob says somebody must have got into the garage in the night. The cook says she saw a dreadful-looking man hanging about yesterday evening; but the trouble is that the garage lock wasn’t broken open — only it so seldom is locked, as I told your father. Your father says it’s Lorry again; he’s made such a dreadful scene before Lewis. . . . It’s not so much the fact of Lorry’s being out all night; but your father thinks he’s sold the car. And if he HAS we shall never see a penny of the money,” Mrs. Spear added, confusedly struggling to differentiate the causes of her distress, of which fear about the money wa cheap nike air max 1/90 premium/fb/black/nd/og/black smoke/leopard/premium black s clearly by far the most potent.
Hélo?se sat up in bed and gazed at her mother’s troubled countenance. “Even now,” she thought, “her eyes are beautiful; and she doesn’t screw them up in the ugly way that I do.” Then she roused herself to reality. “What nonsense — nobody stole the motor,” she said.
“It WAS Lorry, then? He’s told you —?”
“He’s told me nothing.” She paused, letting her imagination toy for a moment with the temptation to be silent; then she said: “The motor’s a mile up the road, toward Thundertop. It broke down, and I left it there myself early this morning.” The idea of allowin nike air max 1 g Lorry to bear the brunt of the storm had lasted no more than the taking of breath between two words; but it had stirred in her an old residuum of self-disgust. Yet she did wish she had got the car safely under cover before all this fuss!
Her mother stood staring at her with astonished eyes. “You, Halo? You had the car out in the middle of the night?”
“Yes. I had the car out. I went up to Thundertop to see the sunrise.”
“With Lewis, darling?” Mrs. Spear’s face brightened perceptibly; then it fell again. “But no, he was there just now when your father scolded poor Lorry, and of course if he’d been with you — ”
“He wasn’t with me. He doesn’t know anything about it.”
“Halo!” her mother moaned, “And you chose this time — when he’d just arrived!” She paused with a gesture of despair. “Who WAS with you?”
Halo, sliding out of bed, got her feet into her flopping Moroccan slippers, and began to gather up her sponge and towels preparatory to an advance to the bathroom. “Oh, nobody in particular. Just that young boy from the Tracys’ — ”
Mrs. Spear gasped out her perplexity. “Boy from Tracys’? You don’t mean Upton?”
“Of course not. How ridi nike air max 1 sale culous! I mean the cousin from the West that they’ve got staying there — the boy who’s had typhoid fever. Didn’t I tell you about him? He’s rather extraordinary; full of talent, I believe; and starving to death for want of books, and of people he can talk to. I promised to spend an afternoon with him at the Willows, and let him browse in the library, and then I forgot all about it, and to make up for having chucked him I slipped out early this morning and ran him up to Thundertop to see the sunrise. It was glorious. And he read me some of his poems — he means to be a poet. I do believe there’s something in him, Mother cheap nike air max 1 .”
While Mrs. Spear listened the expression of her beautiful eyes passed from anxiety to a sympathetic exaltation. As her daughter was aware, one could never speak to Mrs. Spear of genius without kindling in her an irrepressible ardour to encourage and direct it.
“But, my dear, how interesting! Why didn’t you tell me about him before? Couldn’t George Frenside do something to help him? Couldn’t he publish his things in The Hour? I do hope you asked him to come back to lunch?”
Hélo?se laughed. Her mother’s enthusiasms always amused her. To hear of the presence, within inviting distance, of a young man of talent (talent was always genius to Mrs. Spear) was instantly to make her forget her family and financial cares, however pressing, and begin to wonder anxiously what the cook could scrape together for lunch — a sincere respect for good food being one of the anomalies of her oddly assorted character, and a succulent meal her instinctive homage to celebrity. “What time did you tell him to come — one or half-past? I believe Susan could still manage a cheese soufflé — but it’s nearly twelve now.”
“Yes; I know it is — and you must give me a chance to take my bath. And how could I ask him to lunch? It wouldn’t be decent, when he’s staying nike air max 1 red with the Tracys, who, after all, are distant connections of ours, and whom we certainly don’t want to invite — do we?”
Mrs. Spear, at this reminder, clasped her long expressive hands self-reproachfully. “Oh, those poor Tracys! Yes, they ARE distant relations. But if Lorburn Tracy, who was a poor sort of man anyhow, and less than nobody on his father’s side, chose to marry the gardener’s daughter at the Willows, we could hardly be expected, could we . . .? Not that that sort of thing really matters in the least. Why should it? Only — well, perhaps we’ve been snobbish about the Tracys, darling. Do you think we have? There’s nothing I hate so much as being snobbish. Do you think we ought to send Jacob down now with a note, and ask them ALL up to lunch with this young novelist you speak of? Not a novelist — a poet? What a hea nike air max 1 leopard d I’ve got! My dear, I really believe we ought to. Is there any notepaper here? There so seldom is, in your room . . . but if you can find a scrap, do write a line to Mrs. Tracy, and say . . . say . . . well, put it as nicely as you can . . . and say that Jacob is at their door, with the car, waiting to bring them up; oh, with the young man, of course! Remind me again of the young man’s name, my dear.”
“Well, if I said all that, Mother, part of it would hardly be true, as the car’s a mile or more up the Thundertop road at this minute, and refuses to budge.” Hélo?se let her mother’s outcries evaporate, and continued quietly: “Besides, you know perfectly well that we can’t ask the Tracys to lunch. We never have, and why should we now? They’d hate it as much as we should. They’re plain working people, and they have nothing on nike air max 1 ebay earth to say to us, or we to them. Why should we suddenly pretend the contrary?”
“Oh, Halo, how VULGAR of you! I wonder how you can even think such things. All human beings ought to have things to say to each other, if only they meet on the broad basis of humanity and . . . and . . .”
“Well, the Tracys wouldn’t; how could they? They’ve never heard of the broad basis of humanity. If we had them here with Lewis and George Frenside, or any of our other friends, what on earth should we find to say to each other? They talk another language, and it can’t be helped. But this boy is different, and I’ve promised to take him to the Willows to go through the books, and to bring George down to see him there some day. So let’s let it go at that . . . .” And Hélo?se, followed by her mother’s reproaches and ejaculations, made a dive for the door and dashed down the passage to the bathroom.
When she descended the worn shallow steps of the old staircase the lunch gong was sounding, and Mr. Spear was pacing the hall in a state of repressed excitement. Halo and Lorry, as children, had found in a popular natural history book a striking picture of a bristling caterpillar sitting upright on its tail, with the caption: “The male Puss-Moth when irritated after a full meal.” They instantly christened their progenitor the Puss-Moth, but modified the legend by explaining to strangers that he was more often irritated BEFORE a full meal than after — especially when kept waiting for it. Today Mr. Spear was unusually perpendicular and bristling, and his small, rather too carefully modeled features were positively grimacing with anger. To his daughter long habit made the sight more comic than impressive; but she was vexed that the question of the motor had to be dealt with.
“Halo, I suppose you know the car was taken out of the garage last night, WITHOUT THE DOOR LOCK’S BEING BROKEN, and that it has not since been seen? Your mother tells me — ”
Halo nodded. “Mother knows. I’ve explained.”
“Explained! I don’t know what you call — ”
“Hullo, Lewis — good morning.” Halo interrupted her father’s diatribe to greet Lewis Tarrant, who came lounging in from the verandah, followed by George Frenside munching his eternal cigar. “Good morning, Frenny — if it’s still morning? Are you all coming to assist at my execution?” she laughed.
“We want to hear the argument for the defence,” Frenside retorted, in his deep voice with the queer crack in it.
“Isn’t any. I plead guilty. I had the car out in the small hours, and busted her coming down the Thundertop road. I had to get home on my own feet, and that’s all.”
“All — all? You say it was you who was out in the car in the middle of the night?” Mr. Spear swung round on young Tarrant. “Lewis — was she?”
Lewis Tarrant’s fair complexion, which so curiously matched his very fair and very clear light gray eyes, grew sallow with surprise and embarrassment.
“I— why, of course, sir, if she says so,” he stammered.
“‘Says so’? Were you with her — or weren’t you? If you weren’t she’s only shielding her brother for the hundredth time; and God knows where the car’s gone to, by this time.”
“Send Jacob up the road to see,” Hélo?se interrupted impatiently. She had meant to carry the thing off with a light hand, laughing at them all, turning the affair into a good story to be served up to future guests; they were great, at Eaglewood, on collecting good stories for social purposes. But she had been put off her balance by the expression of Lewis Tarrant’s face, the intonation of his voice. Evidently he too supposed she was lying to shield her brother, and like the gentleman he was he was going to shield her; and the business was not in the least to his liking. (“Well, he knows what we’re like; why does he keep on coming here?” she thought, almost putting the question aloud to him.) She swung away from both men with one of her quick rebellious movements.
“And now, for goodness’ sake, Father, don’t go on keeping everybody waiting for lunch. Their interest in this affair is purely one of politeness. They don’t care a hang who had the car out last night, and they know it’s not the first time she’s broken down, especially when I’ve been driving her.”
“No — as to that, sir, Halo’s right, you know,” Tarrant corroborated laughingly, and at the same moment Mrs. Spear appeared, her face brightening as she caught the echo of the laugh. But her exhilaration did not last. “I do think, Halo, we ought to have invited the Tracys here long ago,” she began, the lines forming again about her eyes and mouth.
“The Tracys — the Tracys — who on earth do you mean by the Tracys?” Mr. Spear broke in, glad of a new vent for his irritation. “Not Tom Lorburn’s caretakers at the Willows, I take it?”
“Why, you know, Harold, the Tracys really are related to Tom Lorburn and me, and I’m afraid we’ve been dreadfully distant to them, never going near them except to see whether they’d looked after the Willows properly — and now Halo says they have a young cousin from the West staying there — a painter, no, I mean a poet, who’s really a genius. And so I thought . . .”
Mrs. Spear’s confused explanation was interrupted by the convulsive splutter and angry pause of a motor outside of the house. So familiar were the sounds to all present that Hélo?se merely said with a shrug: “What did I tell you?” and turned toward the dining room door, in the hope that the sight of food would cut short the investigation of her nocturnal trip.
“Well, Jacob?” Mr. Spear exclaimed, pausing halfway across the hall; and his daughter, turning, met the reproachful gaze of the family factotum, who stood in the doorway mopping the moisture from his perpetually puzzled wrinkles.
“Well, I’ve got her,” Jacob said. He glanced about him somewhat apprehensively, and then, fixing his eyes again on Hélo?se: “I found a fellow sitting in her. He said he’d lost his way and gone to sleep. He was going to cut and run, but I told him he’d have to come here with me and tell you folks what he was doing in the car anyhow.”
Jacob fell back, and over his shoulder Hélo?se caught sight of a slim boyish figure with white face and rumpled hair, and deep eyes still bewildered with sleep.
“Is this Eaglewood?” Vance Weston asked of the assembled company; then he saw Miss Spear behind the others, and his pallor turned to crimson.
Halo came forward. “Vance — how wonderful. Mother was just asking why I hadn’t brought you back to lunch; and here you are!”
He looked at her as if only half understanding. “I couldn’t find my way home, so I came back up the road, and when I saw the car was still there I got into it to wait until somebody came along — and I guess I must have fallen asleep.”
“Well, that’s all right; it’s even providential. You’ve saved Jacob the trouble of going all the way down the hill to get you. Mother, Father, this is Vance Weston, who’s staying at Paul’s Landing with the Tracys. Mother, can’t we have something to eat? You’ve no idea how inhumanly hungry sunrises make people — don’t they, Vance? Oh, and this is Mr. Frenside, whom I’ve told you about: who writes for The Hour. And this is Mr. Lewis Tarrant — and here’s my brother Lorburn. I suppose you’re our cousin, too, aren’t you, Vance? Lorry, this is our new cousin, Vance Weston.”
As she performed this rapid ceremony Halo’s eyes dwelt a moment longer on Lewis Tarrant’s face than on the others. Ah, he was taking his dose now — a nasty brew! “Shielding” her again; much she cared about being shielded! He would know now that she really had been out in the car in the night, that this unknown boy had been with her, that she didn’t care a fig who knew it, and that the escapade had taken place at the very moment when he, Lewis Tarrant, had come to Eaglewood for the weekend, on her express promise that she would tell him definitely, before the end of his visit, if she were going to marry him or not . . . .
Lorry Spear was the first to break the silence which had followed on young Weston’s entrance. “I see that our new cousin has done us the doubtful service of preventing that rotten old car from being stolen. At least we might have collected the insurance on her. . . . Glad to see you all the same, Weston; don’t bear you the least grudge.” He held out his hand to the increasingly bewildered Vance.
“How absurd, Lorry . . . as if anybody had really thought . . .” Mrs. Spear broke in, the cloud lifting from her brow as she saw that her son was helping to carry the thing off (he didn’t always; but when he did he was masterly).
“And all this time, my dear Vance,” Mrs. Spear continued turning her beautiful eyes on her guest, “you must be wondering what we’re all talking about, and why lunch is so late. But it’s providential, as Halo says; for we shouldn’t have had the pleasure of having you with us if that stupid old motor hadn’t broken down. Now come into the dining room, my dear boy, this way. I’m going to put you next to Mr. Frenside, our great critic, whom you know by reputation — of course you read The Hour? George, this is Halo’s friend, the young novelist . . . no, poet . . . poet, isn’t it, Vance? You happy being!” Mrs. Spear laid her urgent hand on his shoulder and drew him toward the luncheon table.
Chapter 11
It was so still in the dim book-lined room that had the late Miss Lorburn reappeared upon the scene she might have mistaken for a kindred ghost the young man in possession of her library.
Vance, for the last few days, had been going over the books at the Willows, wiping them with a soft towel and carefully putting one after another back in its proper place. Halo Spear, in one of her spasmodic bursts of energy, had swooped down from Eaglewood the first morning to show him how to do it; for in the reverent and orderly treatment of books (handling them, Mrs. Weston might have put it, as gingerly as if they were “the best china”!) Vance was totally untaught. Miss Spear, with those swift and confident hands of hers, had given him one of her hurried demonstrations, accompanied by a running commentary of explanation. “Don’t SHAKE the books as if they were carpets, Vance; they’re not. At least they’re only magic carpets, some of them, to carry one to the other side of the moon. But they won’t stand banging and beating. You see, books have souls, like people: that is, like a few people. . . . No, I wouldn’t ask the Tracys to help; they don’t know much about books. You and I will manage it by ourselves. Look: wipe the edges gently, like this, and then flutter the pages ever so lightly — as if you were a bee trying to shake open a flower — just to get the dust out. . . . Ah, but how lovely this is! Listen:
“‘Ah, what avails the sceptred race,
And what the form divine?
What every virtue, every grace?
Rose Aylmer, all were thine . . .’”
And then, in the midst of her dusting and reading (the former frequently interrupted by the latter), she had glanced abruptly at her wristwatch, exclaiming: “Oh, Lord, there’s Lewis waiting — I’d forgotten!” and had dashed out of the house, crying back advice, instructions and adieux.
Vance scarcely noticed her departure. It was exciting — almost too exciting — to have her there; but he did not want more excitement just then. What he wanted was in some way to be kept outside of time and space till his fury of intellectual hunger was, not indeed sated, but at least calmed. The mere sense of all those books about him, silent witnesses of an unknown and unsuspected past, was almost more agitating than he could bear. From every side their influences streamed toward him, drawing him this way and that as if he had been in the centre of a magnetic circle. To continue the work he was there to do soon became manifestly impossible. Why, even Miss Spear had broken off every few minutes to read and admire, often dropping the book in her hand while she darted on to another, oblivious, in her hummingbird greed, of the principles of order she was inculcating. And yet to her these volumes, or the greater number of them, were old friends. She must long since have surmounted the shock of surprises with which Vance was tingling; while to him nearly all the books were new and unknown, and the rest bore names just familiar enough to sharpen his hunger. How could he attempt to remember from which shelf he had taken one book or the other, once it had opened its golden vistas to him?
He did not try for long. He already had a fairly definite sense of values, and could not delude himself with the idea that dusting a dead woman’s books was, for him or anybody else, a more vital and necessary act than reading them. This was his chance, and he was going to take it.
If only he had known better how to! The pressure of this weight of wisdom on his ignorance was suffocating: he felt like a girl Miss Spear had told him about, the girl who was so greedy for gold that she betrayed Rome, and the fellows she betrayed it to despised her so that they crushed her under their golden shields. These books were crushing Vance like that. If only there were some way of climbing the slippery trunk of the Tree which dangled its fruit so far above him!
He turned to the corner from which Miss Spear had taken the books, and his hand lit on a shabby volume: Specimens of English Dramatic Poets contemporary with Shakespeare. He settled himself in Miss Lorburn’s Gothic armchair and read:
“Is this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?”
My God! Who wrote it? Who could have? Not any of the big fellows he knew about . . . this was another note: he knew it instinctively. And the man’s name? Marlowe . . . and he’d lived, why, ever so long ago, two or three hundred years before this old house of Miss Lorburn’s was built, or the funny old mouldy Half Hours book published — and the English language, in this Marlowe’s hands, was already a flower and a flame. . . . Vance rambled on from glory to glory, slowly, amazedly, and then, out of sheer gluttony, pushed the book under his chair, like a dog hiding a bone, and wandered back to the magic shelves for more.

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