Adler, Philip A. (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XVII, Number 4 (January 1918)
Colvin, Jessica B.
At twenty-seven, pp. 92-95
WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE sion in her eyes, no humor at all. I had a sudden con- ception of how she would look as she grew older if she carried out her intention. But she was still twenty-two and very lovely. That was five years ago and many, many things have happened since. But let me confine myself to Marian's story. The winter after our trip to England she taught History and coached Dramatics in a girls' boarding school near New York City. I had pathetic letters from her that year. She didn't like the work; the girls got on her nerves terribly, and the other teach- ers bored her to death. She wrote that she was stifling in that conventional atmosphere. She kept insisting that she was an outcast among the teachers for not be- ing religious. She said that when she tried to study the girls made such a racket that she either had to go for a walk by herself or go to bed. I was disappointed in her because I had expected that she would be more adaptable. I was anxious to see her again because I felt sure that I should find her very much changed. So the next winter, when she took an apartment in New York and started in writing for periodicals and playing with a small company of actors who were try- ing to do the new things, I went East to stay for a month with her. We spent the first day just looking at one another and saying foolish things, trying to get adjusted again. Marian's manner was a complete surprise to me, and for a while it annoyed me unspeakably. She seemed to be very conscious of being a sort of superwoman. Yes, she certainly was conscious of herself in a way that was entirely new. She treated nearly every one with a sort of supercilious disdain. I had been rather afraid that her experience as a teacher would have de- prived her of her confidence. Not at all! She appar- ently blamed everyone but herself for all that was un- fortunate about it. Much of her sweetness and spon- taneity was gone. The first night that I was there Paul came and took Marian and me to some sort of a gathering of poets and artists and writers, most of them not yet arrived, in a studio I have never known quite where. The lit- tle Russian sculptor who owned it lent the proper at- mosphere by his bobbed hair, which nearly reached his shoulders, his short-waisted corduroy trousers with a jeweled belt, and his blue shirt, opened at the throat. The room was lighted by candles. There were a num- ber of half-finished busts wrapped in dirty-looking rags on stands. "If this is what Marian likes," flashed through my mind, "I certainly don't marvel that she was unhappy in a boarding-school." And before the evening was over I had ceased to be surprised at any of the changes I had noticed in her. I was only wondering how she had kept her sanity so well. It was evident to me that Marian was accepted by this motely group as a sort of superior being. They gathered around her, asking her opinion on this thing and that, giving her odd scraps of information the min- ute she entered the room. As soon as they knew that I was her friend, most of them stared at me with an interest which was almost rude. Marian was radiant. The little lines which were beginning to harden in her face relaxed. She smiled graciously at all of them, perfectly at her ease, replied cleverly, and then sat down on a low stool near the tea-table, just where the glimmering light from a candle fell on her profile. But I was more interested in Paul than in these peo- ple who were so obviously enjoying their eccentricities. It was the first time I had met him, and I knew that Marian was still seeing him constantly. I am always surprised in people I have heard a great deal about and never seen. Paul looked a lot younger and more boyish than I had expected. He had black hair which waved back from his forehead almost too perfectly. If it had not been for his vigorous physique he would have looked a little effeminate, I thought. His mouth was almost too small for a man, but he had such a warm smile that one got the impression that he was extremely handsome. At first a tall, slender man with dark hair and a sal- low face drew him aside and spoke to him in a tense undertone. Paul was so open and responsive that the contrast between the two men was striking. He evi- dently was not interested in what the other man was saying. He laughed at him good-humoredly and then came over to talk to me. "You really look about as out of place here as I feel," I said to him. "Oh, I bring Marian over quite often," he answered apologetically. "They're a queer bunch, but you know, there are a lot of things a fellow can't help lik- ing about them. They aren't interested in this money- grabbing business a bit. All they care about is art. You see that fellow over there," he nodded toward a man with a shock of tawny hair which looked all the more luxuriant because of his pinched, freckled face. "I know for a fact that he has lived for the last four months on fifty dollars which he borrowed from an uncle. His poetry isn't such bad stuff. Marion thinks he's pretty good." "You know," I said to him, hesitatingly and feel- ing my ground, "it's hard for me to understand Marian now. She has changed awfully. Now, at college she had no use for anything not classical in art. She had radical ideas, but she liked conventional people." "Yes, she's changed," he said thoughtfully, "but January, 1918 93
Based on date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain. For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright