This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Part LII

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Every day on Daily Readers' Book Club we offer an article length section of a book until that book is done.  We are currently reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise.  This book will have 106 parts.

Jesse sat up.

"What quotation?"

"You know: 'He who is not with me is against me.'"

"Well--what about it?"

Jesse was puzzled but not alarmed.

"Well, you say here--let me see."  Burne opened the paper and read: "'He who is not with me is against me, as that gentleman said who was notoriously capable of only coarse distinctions and puerile generalities.'"

"What of it?"  Ferrenby began to look alarmed.  "Oliver Cromwell said it, didn't he? or was it Washington, or one of the saints?  Good Lord, I've forgotten."

Burne roared with laughter.

"Oh, Jesse, oh, good, kind Jesse."

"Who said it, for Pete's sake?"

"Well," said Burne, recovering his voice, "St. Matthew attributes it to Christ."

"My God!" cried Jesse, and collapsed backward into the waste-basket.

*****

AMORY WRITES A POEM

The weeks tore by.  Amory wandered occasionally to New York on the chance of finding a new shining green auto-bus, that its stick-of-candy glamour might penetrate his disposition.  One day he ventured into a stock-company revival of a play whose name was faintly familiar.  The curtain rose--he watched casually as a girl entered.  A few phrases rang in his ear and touched a faint chord of memory.  Where--?  When--?

Then he seemed to hear a voice whispering beside him, a very soft, vibrant voice: "Oh, I'm such a poor little fool; do tell me when I do wrong."

The solution came in a flash and he had a quick, glad memory of Isabelle.

He found a blank space on his programme, and began to scribble rapidly:

"Here in the figured dark I watch once more,
There, with the curtain, roll the years away;
Two years of years--there was an idle day
Of ours, when happy endings didn't bore
Our unfermented souls; I could adore
Your eager face beside me, wide-eyed, gay,
Smiling a repertoire while the poor play
Reached me as a faint ripple reaches shore.

"Yawning and wondering an evening through,
I watch alone... and chatterings, of course,
Spoil the one scene which, somehow, did have charms;
You wept a bit, and I grew sad for you
Right here!  Where Mr. X defends divorce
And What's-Her-Name falls fainting in his arms."

*****

STILL CALM

"Ghosts are such dumb things," said Alec, "they're slow-witted.  I can always outguess a ghost."

"How?" asked Tom.

"Well, it depends where.  Take a bedroom, for example.  If you use any discretion a ghost can never get you in a bedroom."

"Go on, s'pose you think there's maybe a ghost in your bedroom--what measures do you take on getting home at night?" demanded Amory, interested.

"Take a stick" answered Alec, with ponderous reverence, "one about the length of a broom-handle.  Now, the first thing to do is to get the room cleared--to do this you rush with your eyes closed into your study and turn on the lights--next, approaching the closet, carefully run the stick in the door three or four times.  Then, if nothing happens, you can look in.  Always, always run the stick in viciously first--never look first!"

"Of course, that's the ancient Celtic school," said Tom gravely.

"Yes--but they usually pray first. Anyway, you use this method to clear the closets and also for behind all doors--"

"And the bed," Amory suggested.

"Oh, Amory, no!" cried Alec in horror.  "That isn't the way--the bed requires different tactics--let the bed alone, as you value your reason--if there is a ghost in the room and that's only about a third of the time, it is almost always under the bed."

"Well" Amory began.

Alec waved him into silence.

"Of course you never look.  You stand in the middle of the floor and before he knows what you're going to do make a sudden leap for the bed--never walk near the bed; to a ghost your ankle is your most vulnerable part--once in bed, you're safe; he may lie around under the bed all night, but you're safe as daylight.  If you still have doubts pull the blanket over your head."

Image courtesy of Peter Alfred Hess.


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