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VII
A JEST OF THE GODS

IT was rather a disreputable place, and really we were there by chance, a dance upon the British warship anchored near Cavité and the breakdown of the returning launch leaving us upon the stone quay of the Binondo estero at a shameful hour. The time spent bobbing upon the waters while with fervent ejaculations the engineer experimented with the frivolous gasoline engine had been ecstatically cool. Now the city exhaled upon us her feverish breath, in a short time the sun would pour down its blistering rays, and we could not bear thought of room and bed. So we sat around the big narra table at Timke's, clinking with straws the ice in our glasses.

There was a scuffle in an obscure corner of the room; then, carried by muchachos, there passed beneath the light a limp, dangling corpse. They were not over-careful, the muchachos. Two were at the legs, two at the arms, so that the head hung down, lamentable, with mouth open. They crossed the room and vanished through a door into the rear apartment; and our last glimpse was of the opalescent reflection of a lamp upon a cranium astonishingly bald.

"Old man Dickson," somebody said, significantly; "paralysed, as usual."

"That man," said Courtland, with a vague gesture toward the door just slammed; "that man is the victim of a most atrocious and absurd tragedy."

And he told it to us thus:

 

I first knew him through his newspaper work. Every morning he shuffled gently into my office and asked if there was anything new. He did this with a want of assurance strange in a reporter, and yet not at all with humility; but rather in a dreamy, detached manner, as if he really did not care if there was anything new, and would probably not remember it if there were; as if the thing of importance, after all, were the internal problem upon which he was pondering, pondering with a discreet intensity that left his arms to hang in uncouth limpness, his feet to drag, his head to sink sideways toward his right shoulder, his whole body to appear as if abandoned, utterly abandoned, of the spiritual being—to hang, loose, limp, ungoverned, like a scarcrow which lives, gesticulates, postures only with the caprices of the wind. His whole body, I said; I should except the eyes. They were magnificent eyes, large, limpid, serenely blue. They were not abandoned; they were fixed. But it was not at anything outside. It was at something within. As you sought them you became aware of that. You were not seen—you were not of importance. The sun, the sky, men, women, were not seen—they were not of importance. These eyes were looking inside. As you examined them, you realised that it was the back of them that was turned toward you, the reflective back wall of them, and that their working, searching, penetrating part was turned inward, poring there in the shifting gloom at—I don't know what vision.

Don't think that I noted all this at first. It came slowly, by degrees. No, the first thing that impressed me was his baldness, his extraordinary baldness. It seems nothing to tell you that on his head there was not a suspicion of hair; that's common enough, doesn't express it at all. Likewise to explain that there were no brows, that the lashes were gone, that, of course, his whole face was hairless—this is prattle, mere childish, puerile prattle. Usual expressions, the ordinarily adequate figures—comparisons with knees, with billiard balls—sink into impotence, are sacrilege before the Awfulness of the thing. Nothing usual can express it. It was something appalling. It was a curse, a visitation. It was as if God's lightning had struck his pate, blasted it clean—No, that does not express it. There was something solid, established, immutable about the thing that cannot be explained by visions of accidents, of cataclysms, however potent. It savoured rather of some law of Nature, of the patient, irrevocable work of obscure Forces through the ages—say like the glacier-polishing of granite domes such as I've seen in the California Sierra, something geologic and eternal. Yes, that was it: that man's pate must have been polished and repolished with malevolent earnestness for years, for ages, through inconceivable æons. His father, his grandfather, his ancestors after and before the deluge, from the first day of creation, nay, back into the reign of chaos, must have been bald, abominably bald, to explain that mournful head there before me. As a matter of fact, I should have been surprised at something else; for, at the sight of a volume lying open upon my desk, he had launched upon a dissertation on Keats, something absolutely precious in quaint insight, in subtlety of appreciation. But I was fascinated with the head; that baldness held me in its toils, froze my eyes, tugged my heart, drugged my brains. And it was not till he had gone that I realised I had been listening to exquisite discourse.

Do not be too much surprised. Such a thing is to be accepted, almost expected, from a Manila newspaper man. The Manila newspaper man is a singular genus. Always he has talent; sometimes more than that. But of course there's always something the matter. This something is what makes him so interesting. And it leads, also, to a certain conventionality in intercourse with him. For instance, to a Manila newspaper man you never mention the Past. There is no past. He is supposed to have sprung like Venus from the sea, full-panoplied—with his education, his talent, his gentle scepticism—right on the Escolta. That's the rule.

I knew the rule; so if I broke it, it shows merely that my awakened curiosity was too much for my savoir faire. I wanted to know, that's all. I searched for and found his haunt.

Every evening, after his work, he crossed over to the Metropole. He had a queer, apologetic way of progressing, with his right side ahead of his left, as if ceaselessly jostled by an imaginary crowd. Gently, with that sideways motion, he shuffled into the big room and made for a table in the corner of the veranda. He was always very cleanly dressed in white, unstarched, which I suspected was the result of his own industry in his little back room; but his shoes were down by the heels, which added greatly to the general humility of his appearance. Carefully he placed his chair at a certain distance, known of him only, from the table; then he sat down slowly, folded his arms upon the table, his body inclined a little forward. Without a movement of the folded arms he raised one finger of the right hand, in a gesture almost heraldic in its sobriety, and the boy, attentive by his side, immediately brought him a small glass of cloudy green liquid. This he sipped slowly. A gray, opalescent cloud came over his eyes; his head fell slightly toward his right shoulder in an attitude of careful consideration. When he had finished, he remained thus a long time, immovable, petrified in his gentle brooding; then up would go his finger in that strange gesture, almost imperceptible, but infinitely commanding, as if it came not from himself, but as a manifestation of some superior power—and the boy, attentive, immediately brought another glass of the cloudy-green stuff, which he sipped to the dregs, motionless and fatal like some hierarchic figure. Two hours, three hours, he kept this up, then suddenly he moved. Both his arms went up and around in a wide, noble gesture; his hands—long, fine-veined hands—settled upon his head, his absurd bald head, as if in protection, in vague protest at possible levity; he leaned forward and was asleep. He slept there, upon the table, his hands upon his head, his cheek upon his arms; his face, turned to the light, was relaxed in infinite lassitude, as a child's after crying; his mouth, slightly open, let pass his breathing, faint, like a babe's—and once in a while he sighed, a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious, but resigned, rather, patient and unhappy. There was something incredibly babyish about the whole thing—the sleep, the sigh, the posture, even that extraordinary bald head gleaming between the fingers, pudgy with shadow—something that would have drawn the heart of woman in tenderness, tugged at it with the pang-desire to console, to cherish, to kiss. Yes, a woman would have kissed that absurd bald head, would have smothered that gentle sigh. A woman would have, I tell you! And he didn't know, didn't know, the fool baby-man!

After a time I began to sit at his table. He accepted me without emotion. Life to him, evidently, was full of such facts as my presence there, facts to which one must adapt one's self with the least possible fuss. He seemed, in fact, in perpetual process of readjustment. He'd sit there quietly, sipping his green poison, till diabolically I'd mention some name of literary fame. It was like pressing a button—the effect was so instantaneously sure. First would come a few detached sentences, like a modulation. Then insensibly he had slid into the main theme, and it was—what shall I call it?—exquisite, there's no other word for it. There was such depth to the thing, such subtlety of dissection, such a wealth of sudden, baring illuminations—and all that cloaked, softened in a haze of gentle scepticism that left nothing of dogmatic asperities. I compared it with the snorting, imperial utterances of my German Professor at college. It was French, that's what it was, in its breadth, its charity, its continual attenuation and inter-correction, its horror of the dictatorial, the pedantic. But don't think that he animated himself in this. No, he kept his immovable—I came near saying "silent," and really, even while he spoke, he gave an impression of silence—his immovable, detached calm. All this, it came as from another man. It was another man, the past man. He was not creating now; he was merely re-reading the creations of the past man, objectively, too, with a certain mild astonishment at the performance.

"You must have studied deeply," I said, one night, as I sat, still dazzled, long after he had spoken his last word.

He looked at me hazily. "I have my Harvard Ph.D.," he said, absent-mindedly. "I lectured afterward."

"Then, for God's sake," I blurted out, tortured by the vision of that life calmly ruining itself; "for God's sake, what are you doing here?"

His eyes turned absolutely inside out. From their interior contemplation they flashed outward. He was looking at me; for the first time I had that feeling completely—that he was looking at me, a hard, profound, startled stare.

Then, before I could make a movement, a gesture of protest, he had risen to his feet. "Good-night," he said, brusquely, and he had shuffled out of the room.

For three days he did not appear. I had hurt him, insulted him. I waited for him, with a desire for reparation. Yet when he finally came I saw that I was mistaken. There was no resentment, absolutely none, in his manner as he shuffled up to the table and sat down. But before even the usual green poison had been set before him he had drawn from his breast pocket a square piece of cardboard and had thrown it to me.

I looked at it stupidly, at first without comprehension. Then the whole thing flashed upon me in an understanding so sudden, so complete, so profound, that it simply dazed me, left me there inert between two extraordinary and conflicting desires to laugh and weep—laugh, extravagantly, madly; weep, with the same abandon, thoroughly, humidly, sentimentally.

It was an answer to my question. And it was a picture. A picture of himself—I recognised the fine, white forehead, the sensitive mouth, the wide, pure eyes. But on the cranium there was hair, hair, do you hear? Not a little of it, not a mere trifle, but hair, an abundance of it, a magnificent leonine mane, a wealth of it, waving and rolling, curling over the ears, setting off the whole person in distinction. There was hair on his head; there were brows over his eyes, dark brows that must have contrasted finely with the wide, blue orbs. There it was, the answer. He had had hair; he was bald. This was the whole of his ridiculous tragedy. He had had hair, do you understand?—and now he had none.

There I had it, complete; but he evidently did not think so. Or rather he didn't bother about me at all. A powerful impulse to unburden himself possessed him now; all the accumulated wonder and pain at Fate's wanton outrage poured out of him, hurling away like so much chaff the rigid dam of restraint held against it so long. He talked now, at first in broken phrases, then more freely as he went on, in a smooth current, hopeless, fatalistic, but tinged with a strange self-compassion. And yet there was the old detachment. He seemed analysing someone else, telling the pitiful adventure of some other man, as if he could not believe it had occurred to himself, as if his credulity did not suffice before the wonder and cruelty of the thing. A mild astonishment pervaded him.

It had begun with a little gray spot on the crown, a very little spot. That was several years ago. He counted, and I was astonished: he must be very young yet. He didn't pay much attention to it. He was happy, then, he explained, and it took much to bother him. He had just accepted a post in the English department of a Western University. It was a lovely place, by the sea. There were hills behind, all velvety gray and gold. His house was covered with climbing roses, absolutely covered, embowered in them like a nest. His associations were pleasant; he loved his work. His lectures were attracting some attention. It was lovely. He was happy. And then there was——

He stopped and was silent quite a while; his eyes, hazy with retrospection, took on tones of marvellous softness. And when he began again I had the impression that he had left out something.

Well, after a while that little patch of gray hair began falling out, and finally it was a neat round tonsure on the top of the head. Then, down by his right ear, another spot began to gray. He watched it with some concern. After a while, just as before, the gray hair fell out, and he had two little bald places. It began to make some difference, really. The first little tonsure was at least symmetrical, could be called interesting. But that incongruous spot above his right ear—no words could soften that. It was at least strange, singular.

People thought it so; at least he imagined that they did. Sometimes a co-ed in his class would break out in a sudden giggle. That hurt his work. He studied much over his lectures; but as to the form, he was wont to extemporise a great deal. And one can't extemporise while a co-ed giggles. Besides, he was in the grasp of a perverse doom. A third gray spot had appeared, above the neck. He knew that three bald spots would be clear ridicule. He began to haunt barber shops; oils, restorers, all sorts of extravagant shampoos did no good. Soon three bald spots shone white, like famine in the remaining luxuriance of his hair.

There was no mistaking it now. At first, at the Faculty Club, they had slapped him on the back and joked. Now they were discreetly and ominously silent. The very word hair, when dropped by some giddy confrère, fell into something like a vacuum of sombre consternation. In the lecture room he often lost the thread of his thought, remained long pained minutes in speechless befuddlement. It was becoming intolerable.

Then came the crowning disaster. In the blindness of his desperation he was induced by a magazine advertisement to try some new and wondrous hair-remedy. The result was fatal. The stuff turned in spots the colour of his hair from brown to rusty red. In spots, mind you; so that now he was piebald—red, brown, gray, and white. The morning that, before a glass, he faced the hideous fact, he nearly cut his throat. And he was never able to get to his lecture. He tried three times; three times he stalked firmly along the walk, his hat pulled deep about his shame; he circled the Hall a dozen times. He could not enter, simply could not.

Happily, it was near the summer vacation, and he had no trouble obtaining leave for the rest of the term. He fled the college town. He wandered through the big city nearby, aimless, alone, tortured. A good deal of his time was spent upon the water-front. It's always windy there, and men pull their hats down about their ears. Ships began to exercise on him a strange fascination. He dreamed of islands, desert islands, lonely, unpeopled islands. One day, hardly aware of it, he walked the plank of a little brigantine—the Tropic Bird, some such name—and begged the captain to take him. The captain did, as a green hand. They sailed off.

He was still full of gratitude toward that captain. It seemed that he never could get used to seamen's work. "I couldn't climb spars," he explained; "I'd get dizzy. I tried and tried; I couldn't." The captain made a cabin-boy of him. Hence his eternal gratitude. "He was a gentleman, a thorough gentleman, with all his roughness. When he saw that I couldn't climb spars, he made me a cabin boy. I swabbed the floor, waited at meals, washed dishes, and helped the cook. That captain, sir, was a gentleman!"

Really, he was absolutely broken. The insidious disease was continuing its damnable work. From Honolulu they picked up a charter for the Philippines. When they arrived in Manila, he was absolutely bald, bald as I saw him now. "No hair, no brows, no lashes; bald, ludicrous, ignoble, unclean!" He raised one finger; the boy ran to him; he sipped the green liquor.

But he did not stop there. He began it again, the lamentable tale, with new details, with inexorable precision. He was a long time on a description of his departed hair. A wealth of adjectives, subtle and splendid, came to his lips without effort. He found new, caressing words, as a mother speaking of her dead babe. And one got no impression of vanity from it, either. It was something past now, extraneous, so irrevocably detached from him that he could speak of it without egotism. He dwelled again upon his happiness—the Western College, the silvery hills, the rose-covered cottage. "And then there was——"

Again he stopped, and again, when he resumed, I had the impression of something vital left out. It was this, I think, that kept me at it; for every night, now, I heard it, the odious story, with an augmentation of details, a progressive firmness of construction. He'd begin with his gray spot and run the whole gamut of his pilous degradation. I grew infinitely weary of it, but there was the secret, the secret still held from me. It was exasperation at this continuous evasion, I think, coupled with invincible lassitude at the old tale, that led me, one night, madly to exclaim:

"Yes, yes, Dickson; but the girl, the girl; tell me about the girl now!"

By his sudden start, by his affrighted stare, I knew that I had hit it, absolutely hit it. Oh, no, I don't take much credit for that. Cherchez la femme; divested of the cynicism placed upon it by its makers, this precept is fundamental in the game of human analysis.

There was a She—yes, there was. A young girl (he's far from old himself, remember, in spite of his pate); an angel. He loved her; she loved him. She had a precious gift of imagination. He had hoped, under his critical guidance, to see it bloom into something—a talent, a genius, perhaps. But now——

"Man, man!" I almost screamed; "you fool, you imbecile; why don't you go back, go back to her? What the deuce is it, this more or less vegetation upon your head, when you have that, that of all things precious, when you have Love, Love, man!"

I was furious with him. I talked in the same vein, very extravagantly, no doubt. I gesticulated; I shouted. He listened quietly, a considering frown over his browless eyes.

No, it could not be; it could not be. I didn't understand, couldn't understand. He had left when it began. I couldn't understand. He used to walk with her in the evening. He was working hard those days; at night he'd be tired. They'd stroll gently up a canyon (Co-ed Canyon, I think he called it). They'd sit in the grass. He'd rest his head on her shoulder. Then she'd stroke that tired head, run her light fingers through his——

"Man, man!" he shouted; "imagine that, now. Imagine me there once more, and she, with that familiar gesture, that sacred gesture, running her fingers——"

Slowly he passed his hands over the atrocious smoothness of his cranium in a long, shuddering movement. "Imagine that," he said, once more, in a broken whisper.

He raised his finger. He sipped. I gave up. Really, you know, the way he told it, it was rather convincing. I left him to his self-abasement. He lived on his harmless life:—by day the uncongenial task; the maudlin dissipation by night. And every evening he told me his story, his lugubrious story, till at times a whiff of his madness communicated itself to me, entered my blood, and, taking up my own particular wrongs, I descended with him into orgies of tremulous self-compassion.

Then occurred something which gave me a ray of hope.

It was at a fire. Cholera had broken out in the city and the health officials, with that brisk cruelty in which revels man, from medieval inquisitor to common policeman, when persuaded of the righteousness of his cause, were cleaning out barrios. This particular barrio was a miserable assemblage of nipa huts in the Paco district. It was burning well when I arrived, in one large, clear flame that rose with a single, powerful twist toward a sky purple with sunset. It was quite a fine spectacle. Society had deserted the Luneta drive for the more flaring show; out on the rosy edge of the conflagration was an intricacy of victorias and calesins; a stamping of pony hoofs. Jusis shimmered; white suits gleamed; beneath the crackling of tortured nipa rose a low hum of polite conversation, musical laughter, melodious Ohs and Ahs at particularly brilliant pyrotechnics. All Society was there, reclining upon cushioned seats with a fine feeling of security before this proof of official energy. But in the shadow, on the other side, I could vaguely descry other spectators, unkempt men and women, standing up, stiff and motionless, with little bundles in their hands, on their heads, stupid before this magnificent destruction of their homes. Probably it had never occurred to them that these huts, these hearths, held such possibilities of splendour. The revelation paralysed them. They gazed with wide-open eyes, with open mouths, silent, dark, immovable.

Then suddenly, in the peace, the security of the moment, there rose a shrill, mad cry, right from the flames. The buzz of conversation halted brusquely. White handkerchiefs rose convulsively to whitening lips. The firemen, off on one side, began an inexplicable running to and fro. The nipa roared. And right from the flame, in maddening continuance, as if from a soul bodyless and in torture, came the high, shrill, quavering cry.

Ladies began to faint in their victorias; officers bent over them in impotent solicitude, their faces as white as the women's. Other men sprang from their carriages with extraordinary resolution, ran forward and stopped short before the heat. A Met. policeman, huge and gaunt, skipped up and down in some sort of monstrous dance, wringing his hands in plain view. But on the other side, the sombre spectators remained banked in immobility. Only, their eyes opened wider and their pupils gleamed.

Then I saw Dickson. He was walking toward the furnace, his right shoulder pushed forward, his body flattened apologetically, begging passage through an imaginary throng. He entered the circle of light; a whiff of hot air sent his hat off, and his head, his monstrous bald head, shone a moment in rosy hues. I shouted. He kept straight on, humble, mournful. A roar of warning, of astonishment, came from the crowd. He kept on, his head pensively drooped sideways. He disappeared into the fire. Shrieks, yells, a terrific tumult came from the carriages. And still, as if borne up in the flame, springing with one single, powerful twist to the purple sky, there rang the long, shrill, continuous cry. It rose louder, more piercing, till it vibrated in our marrow in intolerable pain. And then we became aware that it was nearer—it was among us. A muffled, dripping, inchoate figure was stumbling into the outer circle of light. I sprang forward; I tore off the dripping mantle, and there was Dickson, his head dropped sideways, pensively considering a little girl in his arms, a little Malay girl, half-naked, who screamed still, too dazed with the horror to know that it was past.

Really, he started to protest right away, it was quite easy. And he made it almost so with his calm calm explanation. The huts were built on poles, so that the fire was rather high, and close to the ground it was not so hot—rather cool, he would have us believe. Then the barrio was laid out with a plaza in the centre, and it was there that, crouching on the ground, the little girl had been, still unhurt. He had noticed, before going in, a pile of old blankets lying in the dirt, and a barrel of water, the barrio's old supply, nearby. By soaking the blankets, muffling them about him and keeping low, he had been able to get in and out without much discomfort—he coughed—a little smoke, that's all, a few superficial burns—he staggered.

Many willing hands there were to claim the little girl, who was sobbing gently now. We started toward my carriage. A thunder of clapping hands, a roar of acclaim, announced his first step, and then his calm deserted him. "My hat, my hat!" he shouted; "where's my hat? Give it to me quick!" He trembled with excitement. He began to swear. "My hat; who's got my hat?" he shrieked, absolutely unstrung. I gave him mine. He crushed it down to his ears. We slunk off to the carriage, and I drove off with my Hero cowering and darting haunted side-looks.

As we passed the Parian gate, he said: "Come on; let's go to the Metropole."

"No, you don't," I said, briskly. "You're going straight to your room. You're going to sit down, with a box of cigars at your elbow. You're going to think, sit up all night and think. I'll give you the theme. Imagine Her at that fire, a while ago. Imagine Her impression, and weigh that against the puerility of hair."

"Good Lord, Courtland, what a sentimentalist you are," he exclaimed. "What a sentimentalist!" he repeated, a while later, musingly.

But he did not get off at the Metropole, and I left him at the door of his house. He was not at the Metropole the next day, nor the next, nor the next. A week later I heard that he had gone over to a new paper, under much more pleasant management, and that he held a desk position. I did not follow the evolution closely, for I was busy those days. We had been wrestling long with the monetary problem, and now the United States Government was sending us an Expert, an Authority, a Professor Jenkinson, who was to settle the whole thing for us as by legerdemain. We were preparing data for him and were infernally busy. But what I did see of Dickson was rather encouraging. The little red veins were disappearing from his cheeks, a certain twitch of the right corner of his mouth was relaxing; an indefinable briskness was pervading his whole being, the manner of the man who works hard and likes his work.

Finally the Big Man came. There was a tremor of expectation in official and social circles—official, for obvious reasons; in social, because of the charming fact that the Professor came to Manila with a bride, romantically wooed and won in California, in passing, as it were. A reception was announced at the Malicañan.

I went. I was late. The place was ablaze with lights as I drove up, and polite conversation hummed out of the windows like honey-laden bees. I did not leave my carriage right away, my curiosity being aroused by the suspicious behaviour of a man.

He was dodging among the shadows like a malefactor, first behind one veranda post, then behind another. Then he stood a while at the bottom of the steps, buttoning up his white jacket with an air of great resolution, and mounted. He got up four steps, then, suddenly turning, pell-melled down again in ridiculous funk. More sneaking in the massed gloom beneath the veranda; then again he stood at the bottom of the steps, pulling down his jacket in immense resolution. Up half-a-dozen steps, and again the helter-skelter retreat. But this time I had followed, and he ran plump into my arms.

It was Dickson, and his face in the light showed shockingly haggard. I don't think he knew me at first. But when he did, he gripped my arm convulsively and ran me into the shadow.

"What the devil——" I began, exasperated.

"It is she," he said; "she—my God!"

"She," I repeated, stupidly; "who is she?"

"Mrs. Jenkinson," he gasped; "good God, Courtland, can't you understand? The girl, the girl, you know—she's up there"—he pointed upward to the light—"she's up there; she's Mrs. Jenkinson!"

I was incredibly affected. A great disillusion, an immense discouragement, weighed upon me. I discovered that I had dreamed, that I had hoped, that I had taken an enormous interest in that idiotic man, there, with his absurd moral problem. And this thing, this sudden finale, staggered me, seemed wanton and cruel as the torturing of a little child. I was speechless.

After a while he said, very calmly, very firmly: "Courtland, I want to see her, once more. No, there won't be any scene. I won't come near; I won't be seen. But I must see her, once more. Take me up there."

I seized his arm and we climbed the stairs. We came to the threshold of the big reception room. I stood there a moment, dazed by the lights, the play of colour. Then I made her out in the centre. He had been quicker than I, for I had felt his fingers sink convulsively into my arm.

She was standing within a circle of bowing, smiling men—a gracious, girlish figure, with magnificent dark eyes. She was evidently a little bored—not bored: lonely. Unconsciously her eyes wandered from the curvetting bipeds in front, in search of something, some warmer, more intimate sympathy, toward a knot of black-garbed men conversing seriously in a corner—the official group, I decided, right away. Perhaps one of these appealing glances reached it, for it broke; a tall figure stalked across the room toward her. It was the Big Man—you could tell it from the sudden illumination of her whole being. She looked up, girlish, admiring. He looked down, protectingly. I heard Dickson panting behind me.

A horrid, racking feeling took possession of me, a mad, monstrous desire to laugh, laugh insanely, in maniac shrieks, to shout and slap my thighs, stamp my feet, scream, scandalise——

The Professor, standing beneath the centre candelabra, bent his head paternally over his young wife. The light poured down upon that head. And it was bald.

 

The muchacho, in a corner of the room, turned something with a sharp click. The lights went out, and the gray pallor of dawn floated in slowly by door and window. Courtland rose, walked to the rear door, opened it. We followed.

He was asleep upon the table. He slept there, his hands upon his head, his right cheek upon his arm. In the wan light his features showed relaxed, in infinite lassitude, as those of a child after crying; his mouth, a little open, let pass his breathing, equal and faint like a babe's—and once in a while he sighed, a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious, but resigned, rather, patient, gently unhappy.

We left him there. It was the end; the gods had had their jest.