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Dean of Men

ISSUE:  Spring 1969

I am not unsympathetic, Jack, to your views on the War. I am not unsympathetic to your views on the state of the world in general. From the way you wear your hair and from the way you dress I do find it difficult to decide whether you or that young girl you say you are about to marry is going to play the male role in your marriage—or the female role. But even that I don’t find offensive. And I am not trying to make crude jokes at your expense. You must pardon me, though, if my remarks seem too personal. I confess I don’t know you as well as a father ought to know his son, and I may seem to take liberties.

However, Jack, I do believe that I understand the direction in which you—all of you—think you are going. I have not observed college students during the past thirty years for nothing. And I must try to warn you that I don’t think even your wonderful generation will succeed in going very far along the road you are on. In this connection, Jack, I want to tell you a story. I can tell you this story because even its most recent chapters took place a very long time ago and because the events of the story don’t matter to any body any more—neither to me nor even to your mother. When you see your mother next, and if you repeat what I am about to tell you, she may give you a somewhat different version. But that doesn’t matter. It is not really a story about your mother and me or about our divorce. Perhaps it is a story about you and me—about men.

I think I know the very moment to begin: I was fitting the key into the lock of my office door on a Sunday morning. I was in such a temper I could hardly get the key into the keyhole or turn the lock after it was in. There had been a scene at our breakfast table at home; I had left the house. It was a strangely upsetting scene for me, though common­ place enough on the surface. Your sister Susie, who was no more than nine or ten then—she couldn’t have been more since you were still in a high chair, Jack—Susie had interrupted what I was saying across my Sunday morning grapefruit to your mother. And I had fired away at her, “Don’t interrupt grown-up talk, Susie!”

That sounds commonplace enough, I know. But Susie persisted. “Why don’t you go up to the Trustees, Daddy,” said she, advising me on how to behave in the professional crisis I was then in and which I had been discoursing upon across my grapefruit, “why don’t you go up to them and tell them how the President of the College is being unfair to you?”

Somehow I found her little remark enraging. I fairly shouted across the table, “For God’s sake, Susie, shut up. Don’t try to talk about things you don’t understand or know a damned thing about!”

I blush now to think that I ever spoke so to a child, but I remember it too well to try to deny it. You see, Jack, I had actually already resigned my appointment at that college where I was then teaching, which was the very college where, a dozen years before, I had been an undergraduate. I had resigned just three weeks before in protest against an injustice done me, and I had not yet received a definite commitment from the place where I was going next year. (I did receive the commitment the following day, as I recall, but that is not really significant.) Anyhow, I was feeling like a fool, I suppose, to have brought into the world three children for whom I might not be able to provide—only two children, actually, though little Maisie was on the way by then. And I was feeling like a fool, I suppose, to have risked their welfare—your welfare, if you please—over a principle of honest administration in a small Mid-Western college. I was a very unhappy man, Jack, and there before me was my little ten year old daughter seeming to reproach me for my foolishness…At any rate, after my second blast at her, Susie had burst into tears and had run from the dining room and out into the yard. Your mother got up from her chair at the end of the table and said to me, “I would be ashamed of myself if I were you.”

I made no reply except to say through my teeth: “This is too much.”

Your mother’s words were still in my ears when I shoved open the door to my office at the college (Marie’s words have a way of lingering in your ears for a very long time, Jack.) Anyhow, I had left the table without finishing breakfast, and left the dining room without any idea of where I was going. And then suddenly I had known. What drove me from the table, of course, were those words of Marie’s that were still in my ears. For, Jack, those were the very words I had once heard my mother speak to my father, and, moreover, had heard her speak to Father at a Sunday breakfast table when he had teased my own sister Margaret till she cried and left the room. “I would be ashamed of myself if I were you,” my mother had said, rising from the table in just the same way that my own wife was destined to do twenty years later. My father bolted from the table, left the house, and went downtown to his office, where he spent the whole of that Sunday. It seemed almost impossible that the incident should be repeating itself in my life. And yet to a remarkable degree it was so, and the memory of where it was my father had taken himself off to told me to what place I must take myself that Sunday morning.

It struck me, just as the door to my office came open, that I had never before seen my office at that early hour on Sunday. I had never, in fact, been in that building where my office was on a Sunday morning—or on the College campus itself, for that matter. It was a lovely campus, on a hill and with trees and with a little river at the foot of the hill, and it was a quite handsome neo-Gothic building I was in. I altogether liked that place, I can assure you. And in addition to my liking the other people on the faculty there, I had my old associations with the place from my undergraduate days. The truth is I had thought I would settle down there for life, to do my teaching and my writing. It was the third teaching appointment I had had, but in my profession many people have to move around even more than I before they find a congenial spot, Jack. I was not yet thirty-five. I had considered myself lucky to find an agreeable place so early in my career, a small college where I had memories of my youth and where I would be allowed to do my mature work in peace.

But I knew by that Sunday morning that I was going to move on. I knew that by the next fall I would be in some other, almost identical office on some other campus and that your mother and I, with our three children, would be established in another house in another college town somewhere. But when I shoved open my office door, somehow it was not as though it were the door to just any little cubby hole of an office. It was as if it were the door to my ancestral keep—my castle, so to speak; and I burst in upon my papers, my books, my pictures that morning as if expecting to catch them, my kinsmen—my cousins germane—in some conspiratorial act against me—yes, as though it were my books, my papers, my pictures who had betrayed me. But of course the room was just as I had left it. It was the same, and yet at that hour on Sunday morning it did seem different, too.

I can see myself there now, especially as I was during the first quarter hour of that long day. I didn’t knock things about or tear up the place as it was my first impulse to do. Instead, after I had slammed the door and latched it, the first thing I did was to go quickly to my desk and turn down the photographs of your mother and Susie and even the one of yourself, Jack. I took the pages of my manuscript and of my typescript, which had been in little stacks all over my desk top, and quietly stuffed them inside the desk drawers. The books I had been reading recently—my own and those from the library—I removed from the table by my leather chair, putting them out of sight or at least placing them where they would not catch my eye on the lowest shelf of my book case. Then I took down from the walls the four or five prints that hung there, reproductions I had brought back from my Fulbright in Italy, and I set them on the floor with their faces against the wall. If I handled these familiar objects gently, I believe it was just because I had not, after all, found them in active conspiracy against me.

There was no conspiracy among my books and papers and pictures; but what was perhaps worse, I seemingly had found them all dead—murdered. I felt they were strewn about the room like corpses in the last scene of an Elizabethan tragedy. Dead and murdered, that is, so far as I was concerned. Dead and wanting burial. And so, bending over them, I tenderly tucked them away as if to their last rest. Then I went and half-sat, half-leaned against the sill of the room’s only window. The venetian blind there was lowered and the louvres were only half open. I leaned against the sill with my arms folded on my chest and observed the crepuscular light in the room, and I was aware of the Sunday morning stillness. Once again I heard Marie’s voice, and after a moment once again heard my mother’s voice. Presently I recalled my father’s voice too, speaking not through his teeth as I had done that morning, but growling out of one corner of his mouth. I remembered how, as a younger man, I would sometimes wonder about that outburst of Father’s temper on that other Sunday morning. It had seemed to me so unlike him. I used to speculate even, in the most literal minded way, on how he had managed to occupy himself during the long hours he had spent alone in his office on that Sunday. The scene he had made at his breakfast table—or that my sister Margaret, or my mother had made—suddenly now became very easy for me to understand. Everything fell so easily into place that I felt I had always understood it. My father was a lawyer and a business man who had lost most of what he had as a consequence of the ‘29 Crash. My sister Margaret was already a young lady at the time. She was no little girl like Susie when she sat down to breakfast with Father that other Sunday. She was a good-looking blonde girl with wide green eyes, and she had a lovely disposition. She was always cheerful, always saying something clever or making you feel that you had said something clever. Margaret was the oldest child in the family, and I the youngest. But we were very close to each other, and I believe she confided her most serious thoughts to me more often than to anyone else, though surely it was Father she loved best. There was frequently a great deal of banter between her and Father at the table. She was such a well-behaved girl, so puritanical really, that Father would tease her sometimes about leading a wild life and keeping late hours. Mother would say she thought it in bad taste for Father to tease his own daughter about such things and that perhaps he would be putting ideas into her head. But Margaret would laugh at Mother and say that Father’s evil mind made it all the more fun to deceive him. Then she and Father would laugh together in a sort of duet of laughter.

Margaret was popular with boys and always had a number of serious admirers. But the more serious the admirers were, the more she and Father seemed to delight in making fun of them. I don’t believe Margaret ever imagined she was in love with any of those young men until the time when Paul Kirkpatrick came along. Paul’s family was one that nearly everybody knew about. They were such very rich people that even the Crash and the Depression hardly affected them at all. But it worried Margaret how rich the Kirkpatrick family was. It worried her, that is, that Paul would some day be rich, that she knew he would be rich, and that he was the only young man she found herself able to love. “I know I really love him for himself,” she would say to me when we were walking in the Park together or if we were in her room with the door shut, “but sometimes there seems to be an ugly, suspicious side of me—another person (old nasty-minded Mag, I call her)—who laughs and cackles at me like a witch and says, ‘I know why you love him so, dear Miss Margaret! You don’t deceive me!’ ” Then Margaret and I would laugh together, rather the way she and Father did. But she was serious, and was worried.

Perhaps Father worried about it too—more than I guessed, more than Margaret guessed. Naturally he would have liked for her to marry a rich man, but there had been so much talk at our house about how hard times were for us that Father may have been afraid Margaret was going to marry into a rich family for his sake. At any rate, he was harder on Paul Kirkpatrick in his fun making than he had been on any of the other young men. And Margaret went right along with him. They made fun of Paul’s teeth—Margaret called them stalactites and stalagmites—made fun of his too lofty way of speaking, of the way he walked-they said he waddled-even made fun of his baby-smooth complexion.

Yet after one of those sessions with Father, when she and I were alone, Margaret smiled at me and said, “You know something? I really think Paul’s very good looking, don’t you?”

I told her that yes, I did think so. And it was true. Paul Kirkpatrick was quite handsome. He was an attractive and intelligent young man. But Margaret and Father kept on telling each other how ridiculous he was. It was the summer of 1930. Father was under great tension that summer. It was a year when he suffered one financial blow after another. And he never seemed more tense than when he and Margaret got on the subject of Paul. Sometimes it was very clear that he was prodding and trying to make her come to Paul’s defense. But she never gave an inch. I was certain sometimes, however, from the way she sat smiling at Father that she was on the verge of blurting out that she loved Paul and was going to marry him. For I think my sister Margaret intended to marry Paul Kirkpatrick and would have done so had it not been for the family scene that Sunday morning. I had witnessed Paul’s and Margaret’s embraces and kisses at the side door more than once that summer. And once I saw—or just possibly imagined I saw—a ring with a large stone in Margaret’s purse. Anyway, I remember she came down to breakfast later than the rest of us on that Sunday, and she was fully dressed, which was unusual for anyone at our breakfast table on Sunday. It seems to me that Father had not spoken at the table-he was often silent and abstracted then, though it was not in his nature to be so—he had not spoken until he looked up and saw Margaret sitting, fully dressed, at her place. “Well, you must have a church date with our toothy young friend,” he said to her.

“He’s coming over this morning,” Margaret said with a smile. “I don’t know about church.” I am quite sure now that she was trying to prepare Father, and that Paul was going to “speak” to him that day.

I saw Mother look at Father, and it seems to me that I heard him swallow, though his mouth and throat were empty. Then, lifting a fork heaped with scrambled eggs, he said, “Why not? It’s just as easy to love a rich one as a poor one, isn’t it, Margaret?”

I saw the first patches of red appear under Margaret’s ears and then the same red suffuse her entire face. And I saw the tears fill her eyes before the first sob came. When she pushed herself back from the table, Father was still holding the fork with the eggs on it. He put his fork down on his plate without spilling a morsel. But he was as white as the big napkin which his left hand then drew from his lap and threw out upon the table. “My God. My God,” he growled from the corner of his mouth as Margaret ran, weeping aloud, through the living room and then through the hall and on upstairs. And my mother rose at her place and said, “I would be ashamed of myself if I were you.”

How Father occupied himself and what he thought about when he reached his office that Sunday were questions that occurred to me during the very hours he was there, occurred to me even though I was just a boy of twelve at the time. My father was known as “a devoted family man,” he almost never went to his office at night, and if some piece of business called him there on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday, he groaned and complained endlessly. We knew he had gone to his office that morning, however, because Mother telephoned him after about an hour, to make sure he was all right. She knew about the money worries he had then, of course, and so she was quick to blame his behavior on that. In fact, she went to Margaret’s room and reminded her of “the tensions Father was under” and told her that she must forgive him, too. I suspect that Margaret had already forgiven him. I know that she had telephoned Paul Kirkpatrick and told him not to come that day. Her romance with Paul did not last long after that. The next year she married a “struggling young lawyer” and with him, as my mother would have said, “she has had a good life.”

No doubt my father wrote a few letters at his office desk, as I did during the course of my Sunday at my office. But probably it wasn’t easy for him to concentrate on letters. I recall that even while I remained leaning against the sill of my office window it came to me that what my father might have thought about in his office, twenty years before, was his own father. For yes, there was a story in the family about a scene that my grandfather had made at his breakfast table, too. I cannot give so many details about it, though possibly my father could have. There are many obscurities about the old story that I can’t possibly clear up and won’t try to. In fact, I don’t know anything definite about the immediate circumstances that led to the scene. Perhaps I never knew them. People in my grandfather’s day disliked admitting they did wretched things to each other at home or that there were family scenes in their families. All of the incident that has come down is that my grandfather, no longer a young man—a man past middle age, standing in the doorway to his dining room with his broad brimmed felt hat on, hurled a silver dollar at my grandmother, who was still seated at the breakfast table, and that the silver dollar landed in the sugar bowl. There is just the additional detail that my grandmother would allow no one to remove the coin and that that sugar bowl, with the silver dollar buried in the sugar, remained on her pantry shelf as long as the old lady lived.

I have always imagined that there had been a quarrel between my grandparents about housekeeping money; perhaps my grandfather, who was not much of a family man in the beginning and who lived a big part of his life away from home, among men, and who was known by all men for his quick temper, perhaps he lost his head momentarily. He forgot he was not among men, and he hurled the piece of money at his wife as he would have at some man to whom he had lost a bet. He and my grandmother may have had other difficulties between them over money or over other matters. Perhaps it was really a symbolic gesture on his part, as refusing to remove the coin was on hers. He was not a rich man, but then he was certainly not a poor man either, and actually in his day he was quite a well-known public figure. He was in politics, as his father and his father’s father before him were…. I must tell you something about their politics. They were not exactly small-time politicians. Each one of them, at one time or another during his lifetime, represented our district in Congress. For nearly a hundred years “we” more or less occupied that seat in Congress. But my grandfather was the most successful and best known of the line and in middle age was elected to the United States Senate to complete the unexpired term of an incumbent who had died in office.

Probably my grandfather brought the special type of politician they all three were to its highest possible point of development, a kind of frontiersman-gentleman politician with just the right mixture of realism and idealism to appeal to their constituents. Today people would no doubt call him a pragmatist. He was known for his elegant oratory on the platform and in public debate and known also for the coarseness of his speech in private debate or in private confrontation with his opponents. My grandfather’s grandfather had once horsewhipped an opponent on the public square, and his own father had fought a duel. It was Grandfather’s beautiful oratory and his beautiful voice that got him elected to the Senate. People didn’t care what his stand on tariff or on the silver or gold issue was. They believed he was an honest man and they knew he was a spellbinder. He too believed he was an honest man and he didn’t understand the new kind of urban politician that was coming to power in our state at the time. It may be he was actually betrayed and ruined by the new politicians simply because they were “lowborn rascals.” Or it may be he was inevitably betrayed and ruined by them because once a human type is perfected—or almost perfected—it immediately becomes an anachronism and has no place in society. Who can say? He was, at any rate, betrayed and ruined by a lowborn man named Lon Lucas, and he never held political office again after that brief term in the Senate.

And now, Jack, I come to the part of the story that I believe it is essential for you to hear. If you have not under­ stood why I have told you all that went before, you will, anyhow, understand why I wish to recount the three episodes that follow.

What happened to my grandfather’s political career can be briefly summarized. The unexpired term in the Senate, which he was filling out, lasted but two years. When the time came for him to make his race for a full term, he was persuaded by Lon Lucas and others that, instead of making that race, it was his duty to his party to come home and run for governor of the State. The Lucas faction comprised a group of young men whom my grandfather considered more or less his protégés. In earlier days they had asked countless small favors of him, and no doubt they had done so in order to create that relationship to him. Now they pointed out to him that from another faction in the party there was a man who, though loathsome to them all, was a strong candidate for the Party’s nomination for governor, and pointed out that only he, my grandfather, could block the nomination and the election of that man. It would be a disgrace to the State and to the Party to have such a man in the governor’s chair, they said. Yet the Senator could easily come home and win the nomination and the election for himself and could just as easily regain his seat in the Senate at a later time.

You may well wonder that an experienced politician could be so naive as to accept that line of reasoning or to trust his fate in the hands of those ambitious younger men. Neither his father or his grandfather would surely, under any circumstances, have relinquished that prize of prizes for a politician, a seat in the United States Senate. I cannot pretend to explain it. I knew my grandfather only as an embittered old man who didn’t care to have children crawling all over him. But I have to tell you that within a few weeks after he came home and began his campaign for governor, Lon Lucas and his faction turned on him. Some sort of deal was made with the other faction. No doubt the deal was made long beforehand. Lucas came out in support of the “loathsome man” for governor, and one of the Lucas faction was put up for the seat in the Senate. Very likely there were other considerations also, remunerative to Lon Lucas and company if not to the candidates themselves. Such details are not important here, and I never knew them, anyway. But my grandfather was defeated, and he retired from public life to the bosom of his family, where, alas, I cannot say he was greatly loved and cherished.

He withdrew almost entirely from all male company, seeing men only as his rather limited law practice required him to do. He lived out his life in a household of women and children, a household consisting for many years of his wife, his wife’s mother and maiden aunt, his own mother, who lived to be ninety-seven, five daughters and three sons. He never allowed himself to be addressed as Senator and forbade all political talk in his presence. The members of his household were destined to retain in their minds and to hand down to future generations their picture of him not as a statesman of high principle or even as a silver-tongued orator but as the coarse-tongued old tyrant of their little world. His three sons always feared him mightily and took from his life only the one lesson: an anathema on politics. My father was the only son who would consent to study law and become a member of the old gentleman’s firm, but even he made it clear from the outset that he would not let his profession lead him astray, made it clear to everyone that his interest was not in government but solely in corporation law.

My father’s guiding principle in life was that he must at all costs avoid the terrible pitfall of politics. He gave himself to making money and to becoming the family man his father had never been. What finally happened to him I must present in a more dramatic form than the summary I have given of Grandfather’s affairs. It would be as difficult for me to summarize the story of Father’s betrayal as it would have been for me to imagine and recreate the precise circumstances under which Grandfather first learned of Lon Lucas’s double dealing.

When I had opened the venetian blind at my office window that Sunday morning, I stared out at May’s fresh green grass on the Campus for a while and down at the small river, swollen by spring rains, at the bottom of the hill. Then I went to my desk and managed to write two letters to men who had published books on the subject—in “the field”—I was doing my work in. They were perfunctory, polite letters, requesting permission to quote from the work of those men in my own book. When I had sealed and stamped those two letters, I took out another sheet of Departmental paper; but it lay on my desk untouched for I don’t know how long, a blinding white sheet at which I sat staring impatiently as one does at a movie screen before the film begins. Finally I put away my pen but left the piece of paper lying there as if meaning to project upon it the images taking shape in my mind. I saw my father stepping out of the family limousine in front of the Union Station in bright winter sunlight. My mother and I were already out of the car and waiting under the canopy. The Negro chauffeur stood holding the car door open, and listening to some piece of instruction Father gave him in passing. Since this was in the earliest days of the Depression, we still lived in the world of limousines and chauffeurs, a world that my father’s business career had lifted us into. A number of years before this he had ceased altogether to practice law, in order to accept the presidency of a large, “nationally known” insurance company for which he had formerly been the chief attorney and which maintained its head office locally. The insurance company was now in serious difficulties, however. The company’s investments were under question. It began to appear that funds had been invested in various business enterprises that seemed hardly to have existed except on paper. Many of these in­ vestments had been made before my father’s incumbency, but not all of them. Anyway, the man who had most influenced the Company’s investment of funds was a stock holder in the Company and a member of the board of directors, Mr. Lewis Barksdale. He was an old school friend of my father’s and had of course been instrumental in electing my father president of the Company. It was he alone who would be able to explain the seemingly fraudulent use of moneys—explain it, that is, to the other members of the board—and he alone who could straighten out the snarl which the Company’s affairs seemed to be in. And it was this Lewis Barksdale whom we had come to the Union Station to meet at four o’clock on a remarkably bright winter afternoon.

The Negro chauffeur threw back his head and laughed at something my father said to him, and then Father advanced toward us wearing a pleased smile. I remember remarking to Mother at just that moment on what a fine day it was and reproaching her for having made me wear my heavy coat, in which I was uncomfortably warm. The truth was, I was still irked by Father’s having made me leave a game with a group of boys to come with them to meet Mr. Barksdale’s train, and I was taking out my resentment on Mother. Without looking at me, she replied that it was due to turn colder very shortly and, squeezing my hand, she said, “Why can’t you have an agreeable disposition like your father’s? Don’t be an old sour puss like me.” Father was still smiling when he came up to us, and Mother asked him, “What is it that’s so funny?”

“Oh,” he explained, taking Mother’s elbow and escorting us on into the lobby of the Station, “when I just now told Irwin not to come inside and fetch Lewis’s bag but to wait right there with the car, he said he couldn’t keep the car in that spot but fifteen minutes and that he was afraid the train might be late. I said to him that if he knew Lewis Barksdale as well as I do, he’d know that the engineer and the fireman would somehow understand that they had to get Lewis’s train out here on time.”

In the lobby, Father read the track number off the board and then marched us confidently down the concourse to the great iron gate at Track Number 6. Just as he predicted, the train rolled in on time. Father spoke to the uniformed gatekeeper, who let us go through the gateway along with the redcaps, so we could see Mr. Barksdale when he stepped off the train. Father trotted along ahead of us, peering up into the windows of the observation car and then into the windows of the next Pullman. Mother called after him that he had better wait there beside the first Pullman or we might miss Mr. Barksdale. And Father did stop there. But he told me to run on ahead and see if I could get a glimpse of him in the entry of any of the other cars. I said I was not certain I would recognize Mr. Barksdale, but Father said, “You can know him by his derby. Besides, he’ll recognize you.”

I did run on ahead, looking up into the cars, watching the people that came down the steps from each car to the metal stool which the porter had set out for them. Mr. Barksdale, being a man who had no children of his own, was said to be extremely fond of all his friends’ children. That was why, as the youngest child in the family—and the only boy—I was taken along to meet the train that day. I could vaguely recall earlier visits he had made to us and seemed to remember a sense of his paying special attention to me. Momentarily I was persuaded that I would remember him if we came face to face. But no man wearing a derby got off the train, and I made out no remotely familiar face in the cars or in the crowded entry ways. Moreover, no passenger climbing down off that train showed any sign of recognizing me.

When I followed the crowd of passengers and redcaps back toward the iron gate, I found Mother still standing beside the observation car. She said that Father had climbed aboard and was going through all the cars in search of Mr. Barksdale. At last we saw Father step off the first of the day coaches, away down the track. He looked very small down there, and when he waved to us and climbed back on the train, I felt a sudden ache in the pit of my stomach. “Mr. Barksdale’s not on the train,” I said to Mother.

“No, I guess not,” she said. “I was afraid he mightn’t be.” 

Finally Father reappeared in the entry between the observation car and the next Pullman. “Lewis must have missed the train somehow,” he said as he came down the steps and swung out onto the platform. “Let’s go inside the Station. I’m going to telephone New York and see if he’s still there.”

We found a telephone booth on the concourse just beyond Gate Number 6, but Father had to go inside the Station lobby to get enough change to make the call. Mother and I stood beside the booth a long time. “He ought to have waited till we got home to make the call,” she said at last. “I suppose, though, he couldn’t bear to wait.” She and I had just agreed to go into the lobby and look for him when we saw him coming toward us. He was all smiles and was holding up two fist-fulls of coins.

“I got enough quarters to call China,” he said and seemed to be elated by the feel of the coins in his hands, When he stepped into the booth to make his call, Mother and I moved away some twenty or thirty feet. He must have talked for ten minutes or more. When he came out again, his smile was bigger than before, and he began calling out as he hurried toward us, “Lewis did miss the train! And it was so busy in New York today he couldn’t get a line to call me. He’s coming on an earlier train tonight and will be here by noon tomorrow!”

By noon of the next day, which was Saturday, it was very much colder, and so I didn’t complain about having to wear my coat. I did complain somewhat, however, about having to give up several hours of a Saturday to meeting Mr. Barksdale’s train. Father seemed to understand and was not so insistent upon my going, but in private Mother was insistent and said it was little enough for me to do if it was what my father wished. As we were leaving the house, Father stopped a moment to telephone the Station and ask if the train were going to be on time. He had heard a report on the radio that the weather up East had turned bad. But the dispatcher’s office reported that the train was scheduled to arrive exactly on time. In the car, Father said he hoped the dispatcher’s office knew what it was talking about. “Trains on the week end are often late,” he said suspiciously. When we got to the Station he told Irwin that since the train might, after all, be late, he had better take the car to the parking lot, and that we would come and find him there.

As we were passing through the lobby we all three read the gate number aloud from the blackboard, and we laughed at ourselves for it—rather nervously, I suppose. Father had kept silent most of the way down to the Station in the car and had left the talking mostly to Mother and me. He began to look more cheerful once we were in the big lobby, and as we passed out onto the concourse he said to Mother under his breath, “Keep your fingers crossed.” As soon as we came out onto the concourse we could see that the train was already backing up to the gate. “Thar she be!” Father exclaimed with sudden gaiety, and he put an arm around each of us to hurry us along. But at the gate he didn’t ask the gatekeeper to let us go beyond. We waited outside, and through the bars of the grating we watched the passengers stepping down onto the platform. After a few minutes Father said, “I won’t be surprised if Lewis is the last to get off. He hates crowds.” We kept watching until it was obvious that no more passengers were going to leave the train and come through the gate. In what was almost a whisper Father said to Mother, “He didn’t come. What do you suppose could have happened?” And as we were passing the telephone booth on the way out, he said, “I’ll call him from home.”

We had been at home about half an hour when I heard him speaking to Mother from the foot of the stairs. She was leaning over the banisters in the upstairs hall. “There have been a lot of complications. Lewis has been getting together papers to bring with him. He says he can clear everything up. He’s coming in on the same train tomorrow.”

“Wonderful,” Mother said.

“But I’m not going to ask you all to traipse down to the depot again.”

“Nonsense. The third time’s the charm,” said my mother. At about eleven the next morning Father telephoned the Station to ask if the train were scheduled to come in on time. He was told that it would be three hours late. There were heavy snow storms all over the East now. When Mother came into the big sun room where my sister Margaret and my two other sisters and were all reading the Sunday paper and told us that snow had delayed Mr. Barksdale’s train for three hours, she glanced out the sun room windows at the darkly overcast sky and said, “There will be snow here before night, I think.” None of my sisters even looked up from the paper. I imagine I looked up from the funnypaper only because I wished to know whether or not I was going to be taken to the Station again. Mother saw me look up and said, “Father says you needn’t go with us today, and I suppose he’s right.”

“I’ll go,” I said. It had occurred to me suddenly that the snow might be falling by that time and that I would like to see how the old grey stone Union Station looked with snow on all of its turrets and crenelations and how the train would look backing into Gate Number 6 with snow it brought in from the East piled all over its top.

“Well, we’ll see,” Mother said.

Sometime after two, Mother and Father were in the front hall getting into their coats. I was there too, still undecided as to whether or not I would go along. No snow had begun to fall yet. Father seemed unconcerned about my going or not going. When Mother asked him if he thought he might call the Station again, he replied casually that he already had, that the train would arrive as predicted, at three o’clock. He had already buttoned up his heavy, double-breasted overcoat when he added suddenly, “But there’s another call I believe I’ll make before we set out. It might take a few minutes…. You had better take off your coat,” he said to Mother.

When he was gone, I asked, “Who do you think he’s calling?”

“I imagine he’s calling Mr. Barksdale in New York,” Mother said. She didn’t remove her coat, though. She and I said nothing more. We went and looked out at the sky through the sidelights at the front door. After a few minutes we heard Father’s footsteps. When we turned around, he was standing there in the hall, smiling wearily, and beginning to unbutton his coat.

“Lewis is still in New York,” he said.

“Why in the world?” Mother exclaimed. “What in the world did he say this time?” she asked.

“He didn’t say anything. I didn’t give him a chance to. As soon as I definitely heard his voice on the wire I put down the receiver.”

“What are you going to do?” Mother asked him.

“There’s nothing I can do. He’s not coming, that’s all.

I’ll just have to take it however it turns out now.”

We didn’t go to the Station, of course. And Father didn’t go off to his room to be by himself, either, as one might have expected. He spent the rest of the afternoon with the family in the sun room, reading the paper, listening to the radio, and playing cards. The way he was with us that afternoon you wouldn’t have suspected anything was wrong. At just about twilight it began to snow outside. And we all went about from window to window with a certain relief, I suppose, watching the big flakes come down and, from the snug safety of our sun room, watching the outside world change.

Father didn’t telephone Mr. Barksdale again. They had been close friends since boyhood, but I believe they didn’t communicate again for more than twenty-five years. When they were very old men and most of their other contemporaries were dead, Mr. Barksdale took to calling Father over long distance and they would sometimes talk for an hour at a time about their boyhood friends or about business friends they had had when they were starting out in business. We were glad whenever Mr. Barksdale called Father, because it cheered him and made him seem livelier than anything else did during those last years. He often seemed very lonely during those years, though he continued to have a reasonably cheerful disposition. After the legal difficulties and the embarrassing publicity that followed his being abandoned by his trusted friend, Father led a quiet, uneventful life. He returned to his law practice, and he was a respected member of his firm. But he made no real life for himself in his practice—that is, he seldom saw other members of the firm away from the office, and I don’t remember his ever mentioning the name of a client at home. His real life was all at home, where, as he would point out, it had always been. He and Mother sometimes played bridge with neighbors, and whatever other social life they had was there in the neighborhood where we lived after we lost the old house and could no longer afford a staff of servants. He was an affectionate father, and I rarely saw him in what I would call depressed spirits. Yet how often one had the feeling that he was lonely and bored. I remember sometimes, even when the family was on a vacation together—when we had taken a cottage at the shore or were camping and fishing in the mountains—the look would come in his eye. And one was tempted to ask one’s self, What’s wrong? What’s missing?

I don’t honestly know when I decided to go into college teaching, Jack. I considered doing other things—a career in the army or the navy. Yes, I might have gone to Annapolis or West Point. Those appointments were much to be desired in the Depression years, and my family did still have a few political connections. One thing was certain, though. Business was just as much out of the question for me as politics had been for my father. An honest man, I was to understand, had too much to suffer there. Yes, considering our family history, an ivory tower didn’t sound like a bad thing at all for an honest man and a serious man…A dozen years after graduation I found myself back teaching in that college where I had been an undergraduate. Physically it was a beautiful spot, and, as I have already said, I thought I would settle down there for life, to do my teaching and my writing.

After my second year of teaching there I was awarded a research Fulbright to Italy, and so was on leave for a year. You were a babe in arms that year, Jack. I saw the Ancient World for the first time with you on my shoulder, and with your mother usually following behind, leading Susie by the hand. Well, while we were in Italy, the old president of the College died of a stroke. He had been president of the College when I was an undergraduate, and I suppose it was he, most of all, who made me feel that my talents were appreciated there. By the time I returned to the Campus from Italy, the following fall, the Dean of Men had been made acting president. Your mother and I smiled over the appointment but made no comment on it to anyone—not even to each other. You see, Jack, although Marie and I still thought of ourselves as being ideally suited to each other then, and still believed ourselves to be very happy together, there were already subjects she and I had had to agree to keep off. One of these—and by far the most important-was my professional career itself, including how I conducted my classes, my role in the Department, my stand on various academic questions, and even my possible advancement in rank. We had been in graduate school together—your mother and I—and during the first years of our marriage, before Susie was born, we both had taught at the same institution. It was understandably difficult for her to refrain from advising and criticizing me in matters she considered she knew as much about as I did. When I first began ruling out that subject as a topic for discussion, she became emotional about it. She had wanted to have a career herself, and she had had to give it up temporarily. I had not realized how much her plans for a career had meant to her. But now she accused me of being an anti-feminist, accused me of trying to isolate her in the kitchen, even of trying to cut her off from all intellectual life. In time, however, she came to see the matter differently—or seemed to. I think perhaps she tired of hearing other faculty wives talk about their husband’s professional problems and didn’t want to be like them. At any rate, she and I merely smiled over the news of the Dean’s promotion to Acting President. His qualifications for such a high place seemed hardly to exist. He was formerly the Chairman of the Department of Athletics—that is, the College’s head coach.

But since I knew that certain trustees and certain senior members of the faculty were on a committee to select a permanent president, I was careful to mention my amusement to no one. When a group of younger members of the faculty came to me, however, and told me that it was generally understood that the Committee was going to recommend that the Dean be made permanent president, I could not keep myself from bursting into laughter.

It was on an evening in the middle of the week that that group of young professors came to my house for the very purpose of reporting the information to me. How well I can see them on my front porch, in the bright porch light I had switched on. They were a very attractive and intelligent looking bunch of men. With their bright, intelligent eyes, with their pipes and tweed jackets, and with a neatly trimmed moustache or two among them, they gave one a feeling that here were men one would gladly and proudly be associated with, the feeling that one had found the right niche in life, that one had made the right choice of career. I remember that before they came inside, two of them—there were six in the party—stepped back and knocked the ashes out of their pipes on the porch banisters and that they looked with interest at the porch banisters and then looked up and noticed what the porch pillars were like. As a matter of fact, as they trooped into the hallway and then over into my study, they all of them were making comments of one kind or another on the house…This was not so rude of them as it might seem, or I thought it wasn’t. You see, they had telephoned me in advance that they wished to come over and talk to me about a matter. And I understood, of course, that they were too polite and too civilized to come to my house and dive right into a matter of business without making some small talk first. That was not their style, not their tone. Moreover, talk about people’s houses used to be a fair and favorite topic at such a college as that one was, be­ cause there one didn’t really own—or even rent—one’s house. All houses occupied by the faculty belonged to the College. The good thing about the system was that the house was provided in addition to your salary, and so one didn’t have to pay income tax on that portion of one’s in­ come. But by and large it was an invidious arrangement. The elderly professors, when they retired, often had no place to go. Further, since the senior professors and the administrators naturally occupied the best houses and one’s rank could generally be deduced from the quality of one’s house, the younger men (and their wives) eyed the houses of their seniors and thought of the circumstances that would make them available. When someone near the top died or retired, practically the entire faculty would move up a house.

My house was not of course one of the best houses. I was still an assistant professor, whereas most of those young professors who had come to see me were a grade above me in rank. My house, when we moved into it, had in fact been one of the most ramshackly looking places in the village—one that nobody else would have. I had spent a lot of time and work putting it into the reasonably good condition it was now in. It was upon this fact that my guests were commenting as they came in from the porch that night. And when we had seated ourselves in my study and I had started the coffee brewing, they went on to say that it had been a real advantage to me to have been an undergraduate there, that I had joined the faculty with a knowledge of which houses were basically good houses, that I knew (what no one else could have guessed) how recently the run-down looking house I moved into had been in relatively good condition. There was some truth in what they said, but they were not of course really serious about it. And I saw of course that they were teasing. I replied that my disadvantage was that the old president knew me and knew I was the only person on the staff who was fool enough to accept such a house.

They went on from that to speak of how I had known the late president longer and better than they had and to ask if it were not true that the newest and youngest member of the Board of Trustees had once been a classmate and a rather good friend of mine. They were speaking of Morgan Heartwell, who had been the richest boy in my graduating class, and who had during the brief years since our graduation gone on to add several million to the millions he inherited. Though I had seen him only two or three times since college, we had become rather good friends during the last term of our senior year and we still exchanged Christmas cards and even brief letters now and then when there was special occasion. Morgan had been elected to the Board during the previous year, when I was in Italy. I had written him one of those brief letters, from Florence, saying that I wished to congratulate the other members of the Board on the wisdom of their choice. And Morgan had replied briefly that he looked forward to our spending some time together whenever the Trustees met at the College.

The young professors who came to see me were overjoyed when I confirmed the rumor that Morgan Heartwell and I were friends. They immediately revealed the purport of their visit. There was a certain amount of caution in the way they brought forth the information about the Dean’s candidacy, but after my explosive fit of laughter they threw caution to the wind. Morgan Heartwell was on the Committee. They wanted me to speak to him. They wanted me to let him know that only the handful of aging, senior professors on the Committee thought the Dean a possible candidate, that those men thought so primarily because they were conservative men getting along in years and because the Dean represented to them a known quantity, that except for them the entire faculty regarded his proposed candidacy as a piece of lunacy. They insisted at once that I was the only feasible channel they had to the Trustees, that if I could let Morgan Heartwell know unofficially how the overwhelming majority of the faculty felt, then the Trustees would come to see for themselves what the situation was. As a result, there would be no ugly rift and contest between the older and the younger members of the faculty. They were thinking of the good of the College. They did not believe that under such a man as the former head coach the College could maintain its academic excellence. They were taking the only course that their collective conscience and that professional ethics permitted them to take.

Here was precisely the sort of meddling, the sort of involvement, I had long since determined to avoid. I had even managed to keep out of most committee work, on the grounds that it interfered with the more serious work I had to do and on the very legitimate grounds that there were people aplenty who liked nothing better than committee work. I used to say that when I received more than one notice of committee meetings in the morning mail, I had heard the sound of my neighbor’s ax, and that it was time for me to move on. My first impulse was to laugh as heartily at the role they were now asking me to play as I had at the notion of the Dean’s being a college president. And yet, with their talk of academic excellence and professional ethics, they really left me no choice. I agreed on the spot to perform the mission.

And it turned out just as they predicted. Morgan Heartwell had entertained doubts even before I came to him, and so had the other Trustees he subsequently spoke to. The night tha.t the group of young professors came to my house was in November. By March another man had been chosen for the presidency. The Acting President would serve till the end of the current academic year, and then the new president would take office.

But by March of that year there had been other developments. One of the senior professors in the College had died. The faculty was once again playing a game of musical chairs with houses. There were days when the community held its breath, waiting to know whether or not Professor So-and-so was going to take such-and-such a house. By March also, Marie had learned definitely that she was pregnant once again. (Maisie was born the following November.) Marie began to think that with the new baby, the in­ conveniences of the old house we were in would become quite intolerable. Moreover, I had come to realize that upon the arrival of the baby, my study would have to be converted into a nursery. And so we began to take an interest in the houses which, one after another, became available.

The rule was that each house, as it became available, was offered first to the senior member of the faculty-no matter if he had moved the month before, no matter if the house had five bedrooms and he was childless or even wifeless-and then, if it were refused, the house was offered down through the ranks till it found a taker. We could hardly believe our luck—Marie and I—when no full professor and no associate professor spoke for the Dodson house, which was offered around during the first two weeks of March. It was a charming house with four bedrooms, a modern kitchen, a study. We knew that I stood first on the list of assistant professors. We waited for the customary mimeographed notice to appear in my mail box at the College.

Days passed. Two weeks passed. Still no notice. On the first of April I went to the office of the Acting President and made enquiry. I was told by the Acting President’s secretary, Mrs. Eason, that the Acting President had decided that since no full or associate professor had taken the Dodson house, it would be removed from the list and offered to the new chaplain, who was scheduled to be appointed within the next two years. Meanwhile, the house would stand empty. Meanwhile, Marie would continue to scrub our splintery old floors and would wash diapers in a tub in the cellar. Meanwhile, I would give up my study to the new baby…I lost my temper. I went to my office and wrote a letter to the Acting President, saying that I wished my present house to be put on the available list and that I expected to be offered the Dodson house. I received no reply to my letter. But two days later my house was offered to another assistant professor and was accepted. After another two days, I did receive a reply to my letter. The Acting President had consulted the members of his Committee on Houses (whose membership coincided precisely with that of the now defunct Faculty Committee for Selecting a President) and they agreed with him that the Dodson house should not at this time be offered to anyone below the rank of associate professor.

Fortunately—or so I thought of it at the time—I had in my possession a letter from the late President, written to me in Italy only a few days before his stroke, promising that I would be promoted to the rank of associate professor on my return. Marie had urged me to present that letter to the administration as soon as we got home, but I felt certain that a copy of the letter was in the President’s files and that some action would be taken on it in due time. It seemed unbecoming of me to go at once on my return and demand that action be taken on my dead benefactor’s promise. And after I had waited six months, I felt that I hardly knew how best to introduce the subject. But now I did bring forth the letter from my file. If I were entitled to promotion, then we were entitled to have the Dodson house. And only by presenting my just claims to the faculty would I be able to determine for certain whether or not the Dean, having heard of my role in checking his ambitions, had taken his personal revenge upon me.

With my letter in my pocket, I went to call on all six of the young professors who had sent me on my mission to Morgan Heartwell. I pointed out to them, one by one, just how the business about the house had developed, and I received the impression from each of them that he was already well aware of the developments. With each of them, I then brought out my letter from the late President and insisted upon his reading it. And finally I asked each one of them if he would be willing to present my case, in its entirety, at the next faculty meeting. There was not one of them who did not indicate that he was convinced the Acting President knew of the part I had played in blocking his permanent appointment. There was not one of them who expressed any doubt that the removal of the Dodson house from the list had been an act of reprisal against me. But they were a very responsible, discreet, and judicious group of young men. Each of them asserted that he was thoroughly sympathetic to my claim but asked to be allowed to give the matter more thought before deciding what action ought to be taken. My supposition was that there would be a general consultation among the six of them and that some sort of presentation would be made at the April meeting.

I shall never forget walking alone from my house to the Administration Building for that April meeting—at four o’clock in the afternoon, on the first Monday in the month. I arrived earlier than I usually did at those meetings, and so was able to choose a seat at the back of the President’s Assembly Room. Faculty meetings there, as in most places, usually filled the room from the rear forward, in just the same way that students ordinarily fill a college classroom. I sat in the next to last row and watched my colleagues strolling in from their afternoon classes, some in earnest conversation, others making jokes and tapping each other firmly on the forearm or even patting each other on the back, and some few peering into notes on reports they would give that afternoon. I kept my eye out, of course, for the arrival of my six friends. Unconsciously I had invented an image of their arriving as a group, perhaps still consulting among themselves in whispers, and taking their places together on the first row squarely in front of the President’s lectern. Instead, I saw them arrive one by one, seemingly unaware of my presence and certainly unaware of one another’s. Before the meeting began, all six had arrived, but they were scattered over the room. I watched them in their tweed jackets and blue or striped shirts chatting casually and amiably with various black-suited, bow-tied senior members of the faculty. At the moment when the meeting was called to order, I was struck suddenly by the notion that I had not taken those men’s character and style into account. They would never be so obvious as my fantasy had suggested. They would enter the room separately, having decided earlier on the strategy. One of them would rise at the proper time and bring up the question of the Dodson house. And then, with seeming spontaneity and from all corners of the room, the others would join in the attack, one of them finally—if the chair adamantly refused to offer the Dodson house to the lower rank-one of them finally making direct reference to the promise of promotion made me by the revered late President.

Following the minutes from the last meeting, pieces of old business occupied the first half hour of the meeting. I sat through the minutes and through the old business with patience, anticipating what I believed was to follow. When the question “Any new business?” came, I closed my eyes and listened for the familiar voice. Unless my ears deceived me, it was the young biologist in my group who was speaking. He was one of those with a neat little moustache on his upper lip. With my eyes closed, I could see him, could see him self-consciously patting the bowl of his pipe on the palm of his left hand as he began to speak. “Mr. President—.” I opened my eyes, and then for a moment I was convinced my ears did deceive me. It was the young biologist all right, standing near the front of the room and pat­ ting the bowl of his dark pipe on the palm of his left hand, but the piece of new business he was introducing was a matter of next year’s curriculum. I sat through his remarks and through other remarks that followed on the subject. In fact, I sat through two other new pieces of business, even through a count of hands on one piece that came to a motion and a vote. But when a fourth piece, relating to the awarding of honorary degrees was introduced, I rose from my chair, moved down the row I was sitting in, saying, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me,” marched down the center aisle and out of the meeting.

I went home, and behind the closed door of my study I began composing my letter of resignation. Marie, who was in the kitchen, had heard me come in. But she waited fifteen minutes or so before she came and knocked on my door.

When I opened the door, she looked at me questioningly. She was white with anger. “He refused to offer us the house?” she said.

“Not exactly,” I replied. “The subject was not introduced. The six of them came to the meeting and spoke at length—about other things.”

Her face turned from white to crimson. Her eyes, still on me, melted. She burst into tears and threw herself into my arms. Or, rather, she drew me into her arms, for as she wept I felt her two arms go around me and felt her hands patting me consolingly high on the back between the shoulder blades. As she held me there, it was all I could do to keep from weeping, myself. And somehow, for all her tenderness at that moment and despite all the need I had of it, it came over me that this was the beginning of the end for us, that our marriage would not survive it. Perhaps that was nonsense. The thoughts that cross one’s mind at such times cannot always be accounted for. But the life we had lived since graduate school—beginning in graduate school—was the life most couples live who take refuge in the Groves of Academe. We had lived with each other, had lived together in the most literal sense. We had shared intellectual interests, had shared domestic duties, had breakfasted together, lunched together, dined together. We had slept together, too, but that had come to seem only one, not too significant facet of our—our “togetherness.” I had no right to complain against this life, because this life was the life I had chosen. But I could see that the future would mean a narrowing of my activities among my colleagues wherever I might go, and that things relating to my profession, which had for some time been ruled out of our talk at home, must now inevitably become the very center of it.

When, after dinner that night, I received a telephone call from my friend the biologist, saying that he and one other of the group would like to come by and talk to me, Marie, who was sitting close by my side with her arm about my waist, indicated with a shake of her head that I should not let them come. But I was not yet ready for that. I told them to come ahead, and then I went and switched on the front porch light.

When they arrived, I led them to my study, and we sat down on three straight chairs in a triangle, facing each other. They told me that, before that afternoon’s meeting, there had been a general consultation among the six men I went to see and that they had decided that to bring up my “problem” at this meeting would not be a wise move, could, in fact, create a very bad situation. “It would be most impolitic,” one of them said. “Strategically speaking, it would be a very bad move,” said the other. “It would be a bad business.” And they proceeded to explain to me that though the Dean would no longer be Acting President, he would continue to be a very important part of the College’s administration. A head-on collision with him just before the arrival of the new President might be a very disruptive thing for the College. After all, we were all going to have to continue to live with the Dean. “Even you are,” they said to me. And all of this was said with the same voice that had said we must avoid any ugly rift and contest with the senior members of the faculty. Before they finished speaking, I saw once and for all what a foolish man I had been. But I did not make myself a bigger fool by losing my temper and telling them that I saw what a fool they had made of me. As we went to the front door, I agreed with them that probably my house could be reassigned to me—as no doubt it could have been—especially if one of them went to the Dean and explained that I had written my letter to him in a moment of anger and that I now wished to remain where I was. But when they were gone, I put out the porch light, went back to my study, and typed up the final version of my letter of resignation.

Marie and I were in perfect agreement about the resignation. During the months that followed, which was naturally a very trying period, her understanding, her sympathy, her tenderness—her indulgence, really—were my great support. When I returned from my office late that Sunday afternoon, depressed and with a crick in my neck after a long sleep in my leather chair (I have since decided that that was most probably the way my father had spent his Sunday in his office) Marie greeted me cheerfully, and little Susie almost smothered me with kisses. But somehow the vision I had had of our future, after the fateful faculty meeting, stuck with me. I never for a moment believed our marriage could weather this new turn my life had taken. I don’t know why. As my mother would have said, the Old Nick himself seemed to have got in me. I wouldn’t be consoled, I wouldn’t be comforted, though I consistently made an effort to seem so. I had never before been so much help in a move as I was in packing up our possessions and unpacking them again when we arrived at our new place. My new appointment was at an enormous state university, situated in a middle­-sized, Middle-Western city. I felt it would be possible to pass unnoticed for years, in the University and in the city. I met my classes, I attended Department meetings, I made revisions on the galley sheets of my book. It seems to me I spent a large part of every day taking Susie back and forth to school on the bus. And I spent hours in the Park with you, Jack. I don’t suppose you remember the little boy there who kept purposely interfering with your play on the jungle-gym until one day I caught him and spanked him. His mother threatened to call the police. I’ll never forget the satisfaction I took in laughing in her face and threatening to give her the same spanking I had given her little boy. And little Maisie, of course, was born in November after we arrived there. I never changed so many diapers for you and Susie put together as I did for Maisie, or gave so many bottles at pre-dawn hours…No, I did not become the tyrant of my household, and I did not, like my father, disturb my wife with long looks and long silences. But I began to feel that with my talk about my book and my talk about the courses I was teaching I was almost intentionally boring Marie to death, boring my students to death, boring myself to death. Before the first semester was half over Marie was helping me grade my papers and was reading all the books I had to read for my courses. By the time the second semester came round she had made application to the Department and was taken on as a part-time instructor.

It was almost a year to the day after my difficulties about the Dodson house began that two letters, which would al­ together change everything for me, were put into my mail box at the University. One letter came from my predecessor at the college where I have since made my most important contribution to the education of American youth. This letter stated that they were looking for a new Dean of Men at that college and asked if I would be willing to come and be interviewed for the appointment. The other letter was from Morgan Heartwell. It was he who had recommended me for the appointment, and he wrote me that he had been able to do so because he had observed that I behaved with such discretion in my altercation with the Acting President, putting the welfare of that institution above my personal interests. He also urged me to accept the new appointment, saying that this was a college that had recently been given a handsome endowment, a college with a growing academic reputation. He was not, himself, on the Board of Trustees there, but close associates of his were and they had happened to mention the opening there.

When Marie read the first letter, she broke into laughter. Then, giving me a serious glance, she read through Morgan’s letter. “How dare Morgan Heartwell write you such a letter! she said. “How dare he suggest such an appointment for you I” She and I were facing each other across the little carrel that we shared in the University Library. When I remained silent, she put the letters down on the table and asked, “You are not seriously thinking of going for that interview?”

“I am going to take the job,” I said, “if it’s offered me.”

Folding the letters and replacing them in their envelopes, she said, “Well, you may take it. But I’m staying on here.”

“It has already occurred to me that you might say that,” I told her directly. “I am not entirely surprised.” She sat with her eyes lowered and she blushed so deeply that a new thought now occurred to me. “Is there someone else?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” she said, looking up at me. “Is there for you?”

“I don’t think so,” I said.

Of course, the fact is we were both married again within two years to persons we did already know at that state university. But still, it is true that neither of us had been having a real love affair. Perhaps the persons we married, the persons we very soon afterward allowed ourselves to fall in love with, represented for us the only possibilities of happiness either of us had been able to imagine during that bleak year. I suppose it’s significant that we both married people who shared none of our professional interests.

After I had been Dean of Men for two years, I was made Academic Dean of the College. In two more years I was President of the College. Even with as little time as you have spent with me through the years, Jack, you have seen what a successful marriage my second marriage has been, and what a happy, active life I have had. One sacrifices something. One sacrifices, for instance, the books one might have written after that first one. More important, one may sacrifice the love, even the acquaintance, of one’s children. One loses something of one’s self even. But at least I am not tyrannizing over old women and small children. At least I don’t sit gazing into space while my wife or perhaps some kindly neighbor woman waits patiently to see whether or not I will risk a two heart bid. A man must somehow go on living among men, Jack. A part of him must. It is important to broaden one’s humanity, but it is important to remain a mere man, too. But it is a strange world, Jack, in which an old man must tell a young man this.


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