Franklin Kane

Library of Alexandria
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Library of Alexandria
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Published on
Dec 31, 1915
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Adrienne Toner

When she
had gone into her room Oldmeadow went out and walked along the quai. The night
was dark and dimmed with fog, but there was a moon and as he walked he watched
it glimmer on the windows of St. Jean. He seemed to see the august form of the
cathedral through a watery element and the grey and silver patterns of the
glass were like the scales of some vast fish. A sort of whale waiting to
swallow up the Jonah that was himself, he reflected, and, leaning his elbows on
the parapet of the quai, the analogy carried him further and he saw the
cathedral like a symbol of Adrienne’s life—her “big, big” life—looming there
before him, becoming, as the moon rose higher, more and more visible in its
austere and menacing majesty. What was his love to measure itself against such
a vocation?—for that was what it came to, as she had said. She was as involved,
as harnessed, as passionately preoccupied as a Saint Theresa. How could he be
fitted in with Serbia and all the hordes of human need and wretchedness that he
saw her sailing forward to succour? He knew a discouragement deeper than any he
had felt, for he was not a doctor and his physical strength was crippled by his
wounds; and, shaking his shoulders in the chilly November air, he turned his
back on the cathedral and leaned against the parapet to look up through
leafless branches where the plane tassels still hung, at the lighted windows of
the hotel; their hotel, where the room, still theirs, waited for them. He felt
himself take refuge in the banal lights. After
 all, she wasn’t really a
Saint Theresa. There was human misery everywhere to succour. Couldn’t she,
after a winter in Serbia, found crêches and visit slums in London? The
masculine scepticism she had detected in him had its justification. Women
weren’t meant to go on, once the world’s crisis past, doing feats of heroism;
they weren’t meant for austere careers that gave no leisure and no home. The
trivial yet radiant vision of intimacy rose again before him. She slept there
above him and he was guarding her slumber. He would always watch over her and
guard her. He would follow her round the world, if need be, and brush her hair
for her in Serbia or California.

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