“I was afraid of that, and somehow I couldn’t get ... back ... to where we began. I was always thinking I would.... And then this came....
“I always hated to kill the things that you believed, Anne. I thought I had to be honest ... that it would be better for you to face the truth.... But which one of us knows the Truth? Not a man among us. And I came across this ... ’Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die....’ We are all fools—the wisest of us....”
She held out her arms to him, and he gathered her close. She felt that it had been a thousand years since she had prayed, yet she heard herself speaking.... And when he laid her back upon her pillows, she was aware that together they had approached some height from which they would never again descend.
“I’ll leave the door open,” he said, as he left her. “I shall be reading, and you can see the light.”
It seemed as if the light from his room flooded the world. The four posts of her bed once more were tipped with shining saints! She turned on her pillow—beyond the garden, the grove of white birches was steeped in celestial radiance.
“My little sister, Death,” said good St. Francis.
With her hand under her cheek, she slept at last, as peacefully as a child.
I had not known Tom Randolph a week before I was aware that life was not real to him. All his world was a stage, with himself as chief player. He dramatized everything—actions, emotions, income. Thus he made poverty picturesque, love a thing of the stars, the day’s work a tragedy, or, if the professors proved kind, a comedy. He ate and drank, as it were, to music, combed his hair and blacked his boots in the glare of footlights; made exits and entrances of a kind unknown to men like myself who lacked his sense of the histrionic.
He was Southern and chivalric. His traditions had to do with the doffed hat and the bent knee. He put woman on a pedestal and kept her there. No man, he contended, was worthy of her—what she gave was by the grace of her own sweet charity!
It will be seen that in all this he missed the modern note. As a boy he had been fed upon Scott, and his later reading had not robbed him of his sense of life as a flamboyant spectacle.
He came to us in college with a beggarly allowance from an impoverished estate owned by his grandfather, a colonel of the Confederacy, who after the war had withdrawn with his widowed daughter to his worthless acres. In due time the daughter had died, and her child had grown up in a world of shadows. On nothing a year the colonel had managed, in some miraculous fashion, to preserve certain hospitable old customs. Distinguished guests still sat at his table and ate ducks cooked to the proper state of rareness, and terrapin in a chafing-dish, with a dash of old sherry. If between these feasts there was famine the world never knew.