外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

THE VISION SPLENDID (11)

2006-08-28 22:51

    "Faustina hath the fairest face, And Phillida the better grace; Both have mine eye enriched: This sings full sweetly with her voice; Her fingers make so sweet a noise; Both have mine ear bewitched. Ah me! sith Fates have so provided, My heart, alas! must be divided."

    THE HERO, ASSISTED BY THE MONA LISA SMILE, DEPLORES THE DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION

    With the adjournment of the legislature politics became a less absorbing topic of interest. James at least was frankly glad of this, for his position had begun to be embarrassing. He could not always stand with a foot in either camp. As yet he had made no break with the progressives. Joe Powers had given him a hint that he might be more useful where he was. But as much as possible he was avoiding the little luncheons at which Jeff and his political friends were wont to foregather. He gave as an excuse the rush of business that was swamping him. His excuse at least had the justification of truth. His speeches had brought him a good many clients and Frome was quietly throwing cases his way.

    It was at one of these informal little noonday gatherings that Rawson gave his opinion of the legal ability of James.

    "He isn't any great lawyer, but he never gives it away. He knows how to wear an air of profound learning with a large and impressive silence. Roll up the whole Supreme Court into one and it can't look any wiser than James K. Farnum."

    Miller laughed. "Reminds me of what I heard last week. Jeff was walking down Powers Avenue with James and an old fellow stopped me to point them out. There go the best citizen and the worst citizen in this town, he said. I told him that was rather hard on James. You ought to have heard him. For him James is the hero of the piece and Jeff the villain."

    "Half the people in this town have got that damn fool notion," Captain Chunn interrupted violently.

    "More than half, I should say."

    "Every day or two I hear about how dissipated Jeff used to be and how if it were not for his good and noble cousin he would have gone to the deuce long ago," Rawson contributed. Chunn pounded on the table with his fist. "Jeff's own fault. Talk about durn fools! That boy's got them all beat clear off the map. And I'm dashed if I don't like him better for it."

    "Move we change the subject," suggested Rawson. "Here comes Verden's worst citizen."

    With a casual nod of greeting round the table Jeff sat down.

    "Any of you hear James' speech before the Chamber of Commerce yesterday? It was bully. One of his best," he said as he reached for the menu card.

    Captain Chunn groaned. The rest laughed. Jeff looked round in surprise. "What's the joke?"

    It was a great relief to James, in these days when the complacency of his self-satisfaction was a little ruffled, to call often on Valencia Van Tyle and let himself drift pleasantly with her along primrose paths where moral obligations never obtruded. Under the near-Venetian ceiling of her den, with its pink Cupids and plump dimpled cherubs smiling down, he was never troubled about his relation to Hardy's defeat. Here he got at life from another slant and could always find justification to himself for his course.

    She had a silent divination of his moods and knew how to minister indolently to them. The subtle incense of luxury that she diffused banished responsibility. In her soft sensuous blood the lusty beat of duty had small play.

    But even while he yielded to the allure of Valencia Van Tyle, admitting a finish of beauty to which mere youth could not aspire, all that was idealistic in him went out to the younger cousin whose admiration and shy swift friendship he was losing. His vanity refused to accept this at first. She was a little piqued at him because of the growing intimacy with Valencia. That was all. Why, it had been only a month or two ago that her gaze had been warm for him, that her playful irony had mocked sweetly his ambition for service to the community. Their spirits had touched in comradeship. Almost he had caught in her eyes the look they would hold for only one man on earth. The best in him had responded to the call. But now he did not often meet her at The Brakes. When he did a cool little nod and an indifferent word sufficed for him. How much this hurt only James himself knew.

    One of the visible signs of his increasing prosperity was a motor car, in which he might frequently be seen driving with the daughter of Joe Powers, to the gratification of its owner and the envy of Verden. The cool indifference with which Mrs. Van Tyle ignored the city's social elite had aroused bitter criticism. Since she did not care a rap for this her escapades were frankly indiscreet. James could not really afford a machine, but he justified it on the ground that it was an investment. A man who appears to be prosperous becomes prosperous. A good front is a of the bluff of twentieth century success. He did not follow his argument so far as to admit that the purchase of the car was an item in the expenses of a campaign by which he meant to make capital out of a woman's favor to him, even though his imagination toyed with the possibilities it might offer to build a sure foundation of fortune.

    "You should go to New York," she told him once after he had sketched, with the touch of eloquence so native to him, a plan for a line of steamers between Verden and the Orient.

    "To be submerged in the huddle of humanity. No, thank you."

    "But the opportunities are so much greater there for a man of ability."

    "Oh, ability!" he derided. "New York is loaded to the water line with ability in garrets living on crusts. To win out there a man must have a pull, or he must have the instinct for making money breed, for taking what other men earn."

    She studied him, a good-looking, alert American, sheet-armored in the twentieth century polish of selfishness, with an inordinate appetite for success. Certainly he looked every inch a winner.

    "I believe you could do it. You're not too scrupulous to look out for yourself." Her daring impudence mocked him lightly. "I'm not so sure about that." James liked to look his conscience in the face occasionally. "I respect the rights of my fellows. In the money centers you can't do that and win. And you've got to win. It doesn't matter how. Make good—— make good! Get money——any way you can. People will soon forget how you got it, if you have it."

    "Dear me! I didn't know you were so given to moral reflections." To Alice, who had just come into the room to settle where they should spend their Sunday, Valencia explained with mock demureness the subject of their talk. "Mr. Farnum and I are deploring the immoral money madness of New York and the debilitating effects of modern civilization. Will you deplore with us, my dear?"

    The younger woman's glance included the cigarette James had thrown away and the one her cousin was still smoking. "Why go as far as New York?" she asked quietly.

    Farnum flushed. She was right, he silently agreed. He had no business futtering away his time in a pink boudoir. Nor could he explain that he hoped his time was not being wasted.

    "I must be going," he said as casually as he could.

    "Don't let me drive you away, Mr. Farnum. I dropped in only for a moment."

    "Not at all. I have an appointment with my cousin."

    "With Mr. Jefferson Farnum?" Alice asked in awakened interest. "I've just been reading a magazine article about him. Is he really a remarkable man?"

    "I don't think you would call him remarkable. He gets things done, in spite of being an idealist."

    "Why, in spite of it?"

    "Aren't reformers usually unpractical?"

    "Are they? I don't know. I have never met one." She looked straight at Farnum with the directness characteristic of her. "Is the article in Stetson's Magazine true?"

    "Substantially, I think."

    Alice hesitated. She would have liked to pursue the subject, but she could not very well do that with his cousin. For years she had been hearing of this man as a crank agitator who had set himself in opposition to her father and his friends for selfish reasons. Her father had dropped vague hints about his unsavory life. The Stetson write-up had given a very different story. If it told the truth, many things she had been brought up to accept without question would bear study.

    James suavely explained. "The facts are true, but not the inferences from the facts. Jeff takes rather a one-sided view of a very complex situation. But he's perfectly honest in it, so far as that goes."

    "You voted for his bill, didn't you?" Alice asked.

    "Yes, I voted for it. But I said on the floor I didn't believe in it. My feeling was that the people ought to have a chance to express an opinion in regard to it."

    "Why don't you believe in it?"

    Valencia lifted her perfect eyebrows. "Really, my dear, I didn't know you were so interested in politics."

    Alice waited for the young man's answer.

    "It would take me some time to give my reasons in full. But I can give you the text of them in a sentence. Our government is a representative one by deliberate choice of its founders. This bill would tend to make it a pure democracy, which would be far too cumbersome for so large a country."

    "So you'll vote against it next time to save the country," Alice suggested lightly. "Thank you for explaining it." She turned to her cousin with an air of dismissing the subject. "Well, Val. What about the yacht trip to Kloochet Island for Sunday? Shall we go? I have to 'phone the captain to let him know at once."

    "If you'll promise not to have it rain all the time," the young widow shrugged with a little move. "Perhaps Mr. Farnum could join us? I'm sure uncle would be pleased."

    Alice seconded her cousin's invitation tepidly, without any enthusiasm. James, with a face which did not reflect his disappointment, took his cue promptly. "Awfully sorry, but I'll be out of the city. Otherwise I should be delighted."

    Valencia showed a row of dainty teeth in a low ripple of amusement. Alice flashed her cousin one look of resentment and with a sentence of conventional regret left the room to telephone the sailing master.

    Farnum, seeking permission to leave, waited for his hostess to rise from the divan where she nestled.

    But Valencia, her fingers laced in characteristic fashion back of her neck, leaned back and mocked his defeat with indolent amused eyes.

    "My engagement," he suggested as a reminder.

    "Poor boy! Are you hard hit?"

    "Your flights of fancy leave me behind. I can't follow," he evaded with an angry flush.

    "No, but you wish you could follow," she laughed, glancing at the door through which her cousin had departed. Then, with a demure impudent little cast of her head, she let him have it straight from the shoulder. "How long have you been in love with Alice? And how will you like to see Ned Merrill win?"

    "Am I in love with Miss Frome?"

    "Aren't you?"

    "If you say so. It happens to be news to me."

    "As if I believed that, as if you believed it yourself," she scoffed.

    Her pretty pouting lips, the long supple unbroken lines of the soft sinuous body, were an invitation to forget all charms but hers. He understood that she was throwing out her wiles, consciously or unconsciously, to strike out from him a denial that would convince her. His mounting vanity drove away his anger. He forgot everything but her sheathed loveliness, the enticement of this lovely creature whose smoldering eyes invited. Crossing the room, he stood behind her divan and looked down at her with his hands on the back of it.

    "Can a man care much for two women at the same time?" he asked in a low voice.

    She laughed with slow mockery.

    Her faint perfume was wafted to his brain. He knew a besieging of the blood. Slowly he leaned forward, holding her eyes till the mockery faded from them. Then, very deliberately, he kissed her.

    "How dare you!" she voiced softly in a kind of wonder not free from resentment. For with all her sensuous appeal the daughter of Joe Powers was not a woman with whom men took liberties.

    "By the gods, why shouldn't I dare? We played a game and both of us have lost. You were to beckon and coolly flit, while I followed safely at a distance. Do you think me a marble statue? Do you think me too wooden for the strings of my heart to pulsate? By heaven, my royal Hebe, you have blown the fire in me to life. You must pay forfeit."

    "Pay forfeit?"

    "Yes. I'm your servant no longer, but your lover and your master—— and I intend to marry you."

    "How ridiculous," she derided. "Have you forgotten Alice?"

    "I have forgotten everything but you——and that I'm going to marry you."

    She laughed a little tremulously. "You had better forget that too. I'm like Alice. My answer is, 'No, thank you, kind sir.'"

    "And my answer, royal Hebe, is this." His hot lips met hers again in abandonment to the racing passion in him.

    "You——barbarian," she gasped, pushing him away.

    "Perhaps. But the man who is going to marry you."

    She looked at him with a flash of almost shy curiosity that had the charm of an untasted sensation. "Would you beat me?"

    "I don't know." He still breathed unevenly. "I'd teach you how to live."

    "And love?" She was beginning to recover her lightness of tone, though the warm color still dabbed her cheeks.

    "Why not?" His eyes were diamond bright. "Why not? You have never known the great moments, the buoyant zest of living in the land that belongs only to the Heirs o Life."

    "And can you guide me there?" The irony in her voice was not untouched with wistfulness.

    "Try me."

    She laughed softly, stepped to the table, and chose a cigarette. "My friend, you promise impossibilities. I was not born to that incomparable company. To be frank, neither were you. Alice, grant you, belongs there. And that mad cousin of yours. But not we two earth creepers. We're neither of us star dwellers. In the meantime"——she lit her Egyptian and stopped to make sure of her light every moment escaping more definitely from the glamor of his passion——"you mentioned an engagement that was imperative. Don't let me keep you from it."

相关热词:文学 小说
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>
钟平:趣味英语速成网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371