Polk County News and … /
March 12, 1920, edition 1 /
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POLK COUNTY NEWS, TRYON, 1TORTH CAROLINA
I h bv Poableday. Paite tt Company. ' I
p-- - - -..7. J. V w -.S' v-' -C-1 AJ.'--, I
By BOOTH TARKINGTON
PTER XIX Continued. '
after Her death he walked
r,tf Fanny s ruum, yue mgui,
.e i.Tit-oc with nrhloh
f vered several sheets of pa-
r Ton settled me."
C , r a i
vour ranion xor nui jtnocK-
Inid huskily.! "I dian't think."
fcicitously. "Sit aown, ueorge,
hear you uj nun
' ... ...r cinrp dinner, nnrl
hiT u t 1 1 ' " '
you're at it almost
ns you re answering pvnriort aA
tried to be gentle! I don't care to be
handled with gloves! I tell you I was
right, and I don't need any coddling
by people that think I wasn't! And
I suppose you believe I was wrong not
to let Morgan see her that last night
when he came here, and sheshe was
dying. If you do, why in the name of
God did you come and ask me? You
could have taken him in! She did
want to see him. She" "
Miss Fanny looked startled. "You
"She told me so!" And the tortured
young man choked. "She said 'just
once.' She aid Td like to have seen
him just once!' She meant to tell
good-bye ! That's what she
i . V-v ir 1 4"-i vss1 1 Try 4 f A n 1 ... j i
-in i aou t ucucvc i o feuuu i iucom Aim you put tnis on me, too:
Lnd I knmv 11 would worry I you put this responsibility on me !
He: terribly it sne- ran- j am l tell you, and I told Uncle
':ei ! George, that the responsibility isn't
l;re, iir,'t'r : ... juu nuc u urt; i was
ant to tell you once more tnat j wrong an the time when I took her
M was ripht. How could I
Jse anything eise duc wnai l
don't pretend to judge," Fan-
cnfhinsly. for his voice and
Jboth partook of wildness. "I
a think you did, George.4'
1 1 did !' " he echoed violent
God in heaven!" And he
, walk up and down the floor.
,Se was thee to do? What
id I have? Was there any
v of stopping the talk?" He
close in front of her, gestic
his voice harsh and loud:
here any other way on earth
Icting her from the talk?"
Fannv looked away. "It died
shows I was right, doesn't it?'
away, and when I turned Morgan out
if you were so sure, what did you
let me do it for? You and Uncle
George were grown people, both of
you, weren't you? You were older
"'It's curious about the deed to her
house," he said to his nephew.' "You're
absolutely sure it wasn't among her pa
. 'Mother didn't have any papers,"
George told him. "None at all. All
she ever had to do with business Avas
to deposit the checks grandfather gave
her, and then write her own checks
against them." .
-"The deed to the house was never
recorded," Amberson said thoughtful
ly, "I've been over to the courthouse
to see. I think it would be just as
well to get him to execute one now in
your favor. I'll speak to him about
George sighed. "I don't think I'd
bother him about it ; the house is mine,
and I you and I understand that It is.
That's enough for me, and there isn't
likely to be much trouble between you
and me when we come to settling poor
grandfather's estate. I've just been
with him, and I think it would only
confuse;him for. you to speak to him
about it again. I notice he seems dis
tressed if anybody tries to get his at
tention he's a long .way off, some
where, and he likes to stay that way.
than I, and if you were so sure youI think I think mother Wouldn't want
were wiser than I, vwhy did you just
stand around with your hands hanging
down, and let me go ahead? You
could have stopped it if it was wrong,
Fanny shook her head. "No, George,"
she said slowly. "Nobody could have
stopped you. You were too strong,
"And what?" he demanded loudly.
"And she loved you too well."
us to bother him about it ; I'm sure
she'd tell us to let him . alone. He
looks so white and queer."
Amberson shook his head. "I won't
bother him any more than I can help;
but I'll have the deed made out ready
foi his signature."
"I wouldn't bother him at all. I
don't see "
"You might see," said his" uncle un
easily. "The estate is just about as
involved and. mixed up as an estate
can well get, to the best of my knowl-
George stared at her hard, then his
I think," she said : lower lip began to move convulsively,
and he set his teeth upon it but could ; edge. You ought to have that deed."
"If I hadn't acted as I did, - He ran out of the room. "I'll bother him as little as possible.
bderous old Johnson woman I ohe sat still, listening. He had j 1 11 wait till some day when he seems
lave kept on with her slanders
Fanny interrupted. "She's
he dropped dead with apoplexy
y about six weeks after you
plunged into his mother's room, but no
sound came to Fanny's ears after the
sharp closing of the door; and pres
ently she rose and stepped out Into
the hall but could hear nothing.
didn't mention it in my let- what interview was sealed away from
human eye and ear within the lonely
darkness on the other side of that
door in that darkness where Isabel's
own sjpecial chairs were, and her own
special books, and the two great wal
nut wardrobes filled . with her dresses
and wraps? What tragic argument
; might be there vainly striving to con
fute the gentle dead? "In God's name,
what else could I have done?" For
because I didn't want I
llr-the other people would have
V then. They'd have"
Wt know," said Fanny, . still
Jig ber troubled eyes. "Things
changed here, George. The oth
ple you speak of one hardly
what's become of them. Of
not a great many were doing
to brighten up a little."
But Amberson waited too long. The
Major had already taken eleven months
since his daughter's death to think
important things out. One evening
his grandson sat with him the Major
seemed to like best to have young
George with him, so far as they were
able to guess his preferences and the
old gentleman made a queer gesture;
he slapped his knee as if he had made
a sudden discovery, or else remember
ed that he had forgotten something.
George looked at him with an air of
Inquiry, but said nothing. He had
grown to be almost as silent as his
grandfather. However, the Major
W on twTOn bis mother's immutable silence was
are dpnd and' qottip mle-ht ni s"reiy answering mm as lsaoei in me wiwvui uwug ucauuucu.
f you never see them any more never uuve nuswrr mm, uu i " u.
the rest, whoever they were are ne was Beginning to unaersiana now i x.icrc wasui uujruuug mure uui
eloquent me aeaa can oe. xney cau- j uu i"e mat piut-e, auu uie
f people that seem never even to ol ST p ineir eloquence, no raauer . cau umc uui ui me uu, aim we
inrA ftf-iionii T-m er0 i bowthey have loved the living; they i came out of the earth. Sc. whatever
r - v MIj WUU A til OUkV . W
And so, no matter in
(!y never heard of them and
seem to forget things so soon
rM?era to forget anything. You
engine how things have changed
p gulped painfully before he
speak. "You you mean to sit
and tell me that if I'd just let
goon- Oh!" He swung away. ionce'
U n 1
f 5 me noor again. "I tell you
what agoay George should cry. out.
MWhat else could I have done?" and
to the end of his life no matter how
often he made that wild appeal, Isabel
was doomed to answer him with the
wistful, faint murmur.
"I'd like to have seen him. Just
i i .
RI0ht Thing, Tell You."
OIllv rliK. . ....
so." she said.
tlf .V . ....
usai,i"k l"e nraer he cried.
t K:;.caouSh then. I think. Wrfi.
re i J:Q t0 6ay now, if you're
a!inH uase-you're afraid to!"
r rti,., " went on with a sudden
-'iunr(Ar . . 7
pi""' You're reproach-
. With . -
ail rt.;: u wnai you had to do
in. ii . J
t Vm, .. . 1 hyj doinff and snvlncr
to,anrt.nk.mother would want
OU tMni, t ...... .
2m 4.. .. u,v i couian t stana
reis-l might hATe
n, i know ! That's
your mindT: you do
A superstitious person
might have thought it unfortunate that
anny's partner in speculative indus
try as in Wilbur's disastrous rolling
mills, was that charming but too hap-
hazardous man of the world, George ;
Amberson. He war one of those op-
imlsts who believe that if you put
money into a great many enterprises
one of them is sure to turn out a for
tune, and therefore, liv order to find
he lucky one, it Is only necessary to
go Into a large enough number of them.
You ought to have thought of my
record and stayed out," he told Fanny,
one day the next spring, when the af
fairs of the headlight company had
begun to look discouraging. Things
do look bleak, and I'm only glad you
didn't go into this confounded thing
to the extent I did."
Miss Fanny grew pink. "But it must
go right!" she protested. "We saw
with our own eyes how perfectly it
worked out in the shop. It simply
"Oh, you're right about that, Am
berson said. "It certainly was a per
fect thing in the shop!" v :
"But think of that test on the roaa
"That test was lovely," he admitted.
"The inventor made us happy with his
oratory, and you and Frank 'Bronson
and I went whirling through tne nigm
at n sneed that thrilled us. We must
never forsret It and we never shalL
"Rnt something must be done. -
' Tf Tntiat Indeed! My something
would seem to be leaving my watch at
mv uncle's.- Luckily, you
fh nink of Fanny's cheeks became
deeper. "But isn't that man going to
do anything to remedy it? Can't he
try to" ,
"He can try," said Amberson. He
Is trying, in fact. I've sat in the shop
witching him try for several beautiful,
afternoons." I .
"But. you must make him keep on
"Oh, yes. Til keep sitting!"
However, in epite of the time he
spent sitting in the shop, worrying the
Jr..f, nf thP fractious light. Amber-
son found opportunity ' to worry him-
we are, we must have been in the sun.
We go back to the earth we came out of
o the earth will go back to the sun
that it came out of. And time mean3 j
nothing nothing at all so in a little I
while we'll all be back In the sun to
gether. I wish '
He moved his hand uncertainly as If
reaching for -something, and George
jumped up. "Did you want anything,
"Would you like a glass of water?"
"No no. No ; I don't want anything."
The reaching hand dropped back up
on the arm of his chair, and he re
lapsed into silence ; but a few min
utes later he finished the sentence ho
"I wish somebody could tell me !"
The next day he had a slight cold,
but he seemed annoyed when his son
suggested calling the doctor, and Am
berson let him have his own way so
far, in fact, that after he had got up
and dressed, the following morning,
he was all alone when he went away
to rind out what he hadn't been able
to think out all those, things he had
wished "somebody" would tell him.
Old Sam, shuffling in with the break
fast tray, found the Major In his ac
customed easy-chair by the fireplace
and yet even the old darkey could
see Instantly that the Major was not
When the great Amberson estate
went into court for settlement, "there
wasn't any," George Amberson said
that is, when the settlement was con
cluded there was no estate. He re
t.ronched himself bitterly for not hav
ing long ago discovered that his Georgiel"
ok h n tip ver eiven Isabel a deed ton n BS5
her house. "And those pigs, -Sydney
and Amelia!" he added, for this was
ntmthpr thine he was bitter about.
but not with great, cheerfulness.
"We'll survive, Georgie you will, es
pecially. For my part I'm a little too
old and too .accustomed -to fall back
on somebody else for supplies to start
a big fight with life; I'll be content
with just surviving, and I can.do it on
an eighteen-hundred-dollar-a-year con
sulship. An ex-congressman can al
ways be pretty sure of getting some
such job, and I hear from Washing
ton the matter's about settled. So
much for me! But you of course
you've had a poor training for making
your own . way, but you're only a boy
after all, and the stuff of the old stock
Is in you. It'll come out and do some
thing. I'll never forgive myself about
that deed; it would have given you
somethlpg substantial to start with.
Still, you have a little tiny bit, and
you'll have a little tiny salary, too;
and of course your Aunt Fanny's here,
and she's got jsomething you can fall
back on if you get too pinched, until. I
can begin to send you a dribble now
George's "little, tiny bit" was six
hundred dollars which had come to
him from the sale of his mother's fur
niture ; and the "little tiny salary"
was eight dollars a week which old
Frank Bronson was to pay him for
services as a clerk and student-at-
law. George had accepted haughtily,
and thereby removed a burden from
his uncle's mind. , "
Amberson himself, however, had hot '
even a "tiny bit ;" though he got his
consular appointment, and to take him
to his post he found it -necessary to
borrow two hundred of his nephew's
six hundred dollars. "It makes me
sick, George," he said. "But I'd bet-:
rpr fot thprA nnrt cmt that snlnnr rnrr- 1
ed. Of course Eugene would do any
thing in the world, and the fact is he
wanted to, but I felt that ah under
the circumstances "
"Never !" George exclaimed, growing
red. "I can't Imagine one of the fam
ily " He paused, not finding it
necessary to explain that "the fam
ily" 1 shouldn't turn a man from the
door and then accept favors from him.
"I wish you'd take more."
Amberson declined. "One thing I'll
say for you, young George; you have
n't a stingy bone in your body. That's
the Amberson stock in you and I like
He added something to this praise
of his nephew on the day he left for
Washington. He was not to return,
but to set forth from the capital on
the long journey to his post. George
went with him to the station, and
their farewell was lengthened by the
train's being several minutes late.
"I may not see you again, Georgie,"
Amberson said, and his voice ' was a
little husky as he set a kind hand on
the young man's shoulder. "It's quite
probable that from this time on we'll
only know each other by letter until
you're notified as my next of kin that
there's an old valise to be forwarded
to you, and perhaps some dusty curios
from the consulate mantelpiece. Well,
it's an odd way for us to be saying
good bye; one wouldn't have thought
it, even a few years ago, but here we
are, two gentlemen of elegant appear
ance In a state of bustitude. We can't
ever tell what will happen at all, can
we? Life and money both behave like
loose quicksilver in a nest of cracks.
And when they're gone we can't tell
where or what the devil we did with
'em! But 'I believe I'll say now while
there isn't much time left for either
of us to get embarrassed about it I
believe I'll say that I've always been
;.fond of you. We all spoiled you ter
ribly when you were a little boy aad
let you grow up en prince and I
must say you took to it! But you've
received a pretty heavy jolt, and 1
had enough of your disposition, myself,
at your age, to understand a-little of
what cocksure youth has to go through
inside when it finds that It can make
terrible mistakes. Well, with my train
coming into the shed, you'll forgive
me for saying that ,there have been
times when I thought you ought to be
hanged but I've always been fond
of you, and now I like you! And just
for a last word; there may be some
body else in this town who's always
felt about you like that fond of you,
I mean, no matter bow much It seem
ed you ought to be hanged. You might
try Hello, I must run. I'll send
back the money as fast as they pa
mej so, good bye and God bless you.
that his health would suffer, and he avenue met Amhrnt. kt
had been downtown only in a ' closed at an obtuse angle, and the removal of
carriage. He had .not realized , the the pillars made the boulevard seem a
great change. cross street of no overpowering im-
The streets were thunderous, a vast Portance-rcertainly it did not seem to
energy heaved . under the universal be a boulevard 1 ' ,
coating of dinginess. George walked George walked by the Mansion hur
through the begrimed crowds of hur- riedly, and came home to his mother's
rying strangers and saw no face that house for the last time. - . i
he remembered. Great numbefs.ol! Emptiness was there, too, and the
faces were even of a kind he did not closing of the door resounded through
remember ever to have seen; they bare rooms; for downstairs there was
were partly like the old type that no furniture In the house except a
his boyhood knew, and partly like kitchen table in the dining room, which
types he knew abroad. He saw Ger- Fanny had kept "for dinner." she said
man eyes with American wrinkles at though as she was to cook and. serve
their corners; he saw Irish eyes and that meal herself Teorge had his
Neapolitan eyes, Roman eyes, Tuscan doubts about her name for it. Upstairs,
eyes, eyes 'of.- Lombardy, of Savoy, she had retained her o vn furniture,
Hungarian eyes, Balkan eyes, Scandl- and George had been V'vlng In his
nai'fin eyes all with a queer Ameri-; mother's room, having snt everything
can look In them. He saw Jews who from his own to the auction. Isabel's
were no longer German or Russian or room was still as it had beeu, but 'the
Polish Jews. All the people wen soil- furniture would be moved with
ed by the smoke-mist through which Fanny's to new quarters in the raoru-
they hurried, under the heavy sky that mg- Fanny had made plans for her
hung close upon the new skyscrapers, nepbT .as; well as herself; she had
and nearly all seemed harried by foun V a "threeroom kitchenette apart-
something impending, though hers and h161 in an . apartment house where
there a woman with bundles woultf be evetV old friends of hers had estab-
laughing to a companion about some llshe themselves elderly widows of
adventure of the department store, or citlze.- once "prominent" and other
perhaps an escape from the charging
traffic of the streets and not infre
quently a girl, or a free-and-easy
young matron, found time to throw an
encouraging look to George. I
He took no note of these, and, leav
ing the crowded sidewalks, turned
Rljf f (A W AM
W IU. i d
mYA : HK9L Vfc9
H J LP
'There Have Ben Tfmes When I
Thought You Ought to Be Hanged."
retired gentry. People used tlielr own -"kitchenettes"
for breakfast and lunch,
but thTe was a table-d'hote arrange
menf I ir dinner on the ground floor;
and after -dinner bridge was played
all evening, an attraction powerful
with Fanny. She had "made all the
arrangements," she reported, and ner
vously appealed for approval, asking if
she hadn't shown herself pretty prac
tical". In such matters. George acqui
esced absent-mindedly, not thinking of
what she said and not realizing to
what it committed him.
He began to realize it now, as he
j wandered about the dismantled house;
he was far from sure that he was
willing to live in a "three-room, apart
ment" with Fanny and eat breakfast
and lunch with her (prepared by her
self In the "kitchenette") 1 and dinner
at the table d'hote .n "such a pretty
Colonial dining room" (so Fanny de
scribed it) at a'little round table they
would have all to themselves in the
midst of a dozen little round tables
; which other relics of disrupted fam
ilies would have al to themselves. For .
the first time, now that the change
was Imminent, George began to devel
op before his mind's eye pictures of
vhat lie was in for; and they appalled
tlm. He decided that such a life
verged upon the sheerly unbearable,
and that after all there were some
things left that he just couldn't stand.
So lie made up his mind to speak to
his aunt about It at "dinner," and tell
her that -he preferred to ask Bronson
to let him put a sofa-bed, a trunk and
a folding rubber bathtub behind n
screen in the dark rear room of the of
fice. But at "dinner" Fanny was nerv
ous, and so distressed about the fail
ure of her efforts with.' sweetbreads
ond macaroni; and she was so eager
In her talk of how comfortable they
would be "by this time tomorrow
After "dinner" he went upstairs,
moving his hand slowly along the
north into National avenue, and pres
ently reached the quieter but no less
begrimed region of smaller shops and
old-fashioned houses. Those latter had
been the homes of his boyhood play
mates, old friends of his grandfather j f-rnooth walnut railing of the balus
had lived here in this alley he had,j trade. Half way to the landing he
fought with two boys at the same . stopped, turned, and stood looking
time, and whipped them ; in that front -t down at the heavy doors masking th
yard he had been successfully teased ! black emptiness that had been the
Into temporary insanity by a Sunday j library. Here he had stood on what
school rlflss of ninkv little, irlrls. On he now knew was the worst day of his
that sagging porch a laughing woman
had fed him and other boys with
doughnuts and gingerbread ; yonder he
saw the staggered relics of the iron
picket fence he had made his white
pony jump, on a dare, and in the
shabby, stone-faced house behind the
fence he had gone to children's par
lies, and, when he was a little older
he had danced there often, arid fallen
in- love with Mary Sharon, and kissed
her, apparently by force, under the
stairs in the hall. The double front
doors, of meaninglessly carved walnut,
once so glosslly varnished, had been
painted smoke gray, but the smoke
grime showed repulsively, even on the
smoke gray; and over the doors a
life ; here he had stood when his moth
er passed through that doorway, hand-in-hand
with her brother, to learn what
ber son had done.
He went on more heavily, more slow
ly; and, more heavily and slowly still,
entered Isabel's room and shut the
dcor. He did not come forth again,
and bade Fanny good-night through
the closed door when she stopped out
side it later.
"I've put all the lights out, George,"
she said. "Everything's all right."
"Very well," he called. "Good night.
His voice had a" strangled sound in
spite of him; but she seemed not to
notice it, and he heard her go to her
smoked sign proclaimed the place tojown room and lock herself In with
be a "Stag hotel." bolt and key against burglars. She
This was the last "walk home" he i had said the one thing she should not
was ever to take by the route he was J have said just then : "I'm sure your
now following: up National avenue to
Amberson addition and the two big
old houses at the foot of Amberson
boulevard; for tonight would be the
last night that he and Fanny were to
mother's watching over you, Georgie."
She had meant to be kind, but it de
stroyed his last chance for sleep that
night. He would have slept little if
she had not said it. but since she had
spend In the house which the Major ; sad it he did not sleep at all. For he
had foreotten to deed to Isabel, to-
S rjS' !Si bo another matter
chaiun . ... mu. Ho apttlement of Isabel a
him about It
a profile Is that ideal which depends
upon inheriting money. George Am
berson, In spite of. his record of fail
ures In business, had spoken shrewdly
when he realised at last that money,
like life,' was "like quicksilver In a
nest of cracks." And his nephew had
the awakening experience of seeing
the great Amberson estate vanishing
Into such a ne: t la a twinkling ; It
seemed, now that It was Indeed so ut
On this last homeward walk of his,
when George reached the entrance to
was the only good part of the rotten of his familiar world had disappeared, I Amberson addition that is, when he
He passed through the gates, wavetf
his hat cheerily from the other side
of the iron screen, and was lost from
; sight In the hurrying crowd. And as
"Thev won't do anything. I'm sorry ( ne disanneared. an unexpected poign-
I gave them the opportunity of making i ant ioneliness fell upon his nephew so
a polished ref usaL The estate was bad-! heavily and so suddenly that he had
ly crippled, even before they took out . n0 energy to recoil from the shock. Ir
their 'third, and the third' they took . seemed to him that the last fragment
morrow they were to "move out," land
George was to begin his work in Bron
son's office. He had not come to this
col!apse without a fierce struggle but
the struggle was Inward, and the roll
ing world was not agitated by It,
and rolled calmly on. For of all the
"Ideals of life" which the world, in its
knew that It was true If It could h
true that his mother. If she still lived
In spirit, would be weeping on the
other side of the wall of silence, weep
ing and seeking for some gate to let
her through so that she could come
and "watch over him."
He felt that If there were such gates
rolling, inconsiderately flattens out to e d(K)rs dowD
nothingness, the least likely to retain '
nnnle. Well. I CUun I &SK.umhu iui
tltution on my own account, and at 4
least It will save you some irouDie,
young George. Never waste any time
writing to them ; you mustn't count on
"I don't," George said quietly. "I
don't count on anything."
"Oh we'll not feel that things -are
quite desperated Amberson laughed.
leaving him all alone forever.
the suffering to which he had con
The room was still Isabel's. Noth
ing had been changed: even the pho
tographs of George, of the Major and
of ''brother George" still stood on her
dressing table, and in a drawer of her
desk was an old picture of Eugene and
Lucy, taken together, which George
had found but had slowly closed away
again from sight, not touching it To
morrow everything would be gone;
and he had heard there was not Ions
to wait before the house Itself would
be demolished. The very space which
tonight was still Isabel's room would
be cut into new shapes by new walls
and floors and ceilings; yet the room
came to where the entrance had for-
u .oiiro imma.i'nNi cirturiv thmnch merlv been ne gave a mue pi&ri,
nrfco . onnpnrwi tft ho th st ran ire and halted for a moment to stare.
oa o ma. 4 fan tho nit This was the first time he had no-
waV strange to MmH He hT,eeo t- tlced that the stone pillars, martin Would always lire, for It coold not dl.
rfTtortohta yeara id wUege. le--htrance. had been removed. Then out of George's memory. It would 11t.
1V. hfonoVe? tte lonl at he realized that fora long tlfce he had rZtTZZ'
r and his trag,c returnee
d i aaswered Just i tat
Polk County News and The Tryon Bee
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March 12, 1920, edition 1
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