Шервуд Андерсон -- Американский Писатель. 1876-1941
       Sherwood Anderson. Winesburg, Ohio
       OCR: Ирина Нестеренко

     INTRODUCTION by Irving Howe
     HANDS, concerning Wing Biddlebaum
     PAPER PILLS, concerning Doctor Reefy
     MOTHER, concerning Elizabeth Willard
     THE PHILOSOPHER, concerning Doctor Parcival
     NOBODY KNOWS, concerning Louise Trunnion
     GODLINESS, a Tale in Four Parts
     I, concerning Jesse Bentley
     II, also concerning Jesse Bentley
     III Surrender, concerning Louise Bentley
     IV Terror, concerning David Hardy
     A MAN OF IDEAS, concerning Joe Welling
     ADVENTURE, concerning Alice Hindman
     RESPECTABILITY, concerning Wash Williams
     THE THINKER, concerning Seth Richmond
     TANDY, concerning Tandy Hard
     THE STRENGTH OF GOD, concerning the
     Reverend Curtis Hartman
     THE TEACHER, concerning Kate Swift
     LONELINESS, concerning Enoch Robinson
     AN AWAKENING, concerning Belle Carpenter
     "QUEER," concerning Elmer Cowley
     THE UNTOLD LIE, concerning Ray Pearson
     DRINK, concerning Tom Foster
     DEATH, concerning Doctor Reefy
     and Elizabeth Willard
     SOPHISTICATION, concerning Helen White
     DEPARTURE, concerning George Willard
     by Irving Howe
     I must have been no more than fifteen or sixteen years old when I first
chanced  upon  Winesburg, Ohio.  Gripped  by  these  stories and sketches of
Sherwood Anderson's small-town "grotesques," I felt that he was  opening for
me new  depths of experience, touching upon half-buried truths which nothing
in my young life had prepared me for. A  New York City boy who never saw the
crops grow  or  spent  time in the  small towns  that  lay  sprinkled across
America, I found  myself overwhelmed by  the scenes  of  wasted life, wasted
love--was this the "real" America?--that Anderson sketched in Winesburg.  In
those days only one other book seemed to offer so powerful a revelation, and
that was Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.
     Several years later, as  I was about  to go overseas  as  a soldier,  I
spent my last weekend  pass on a somewhat quixotic  journey to  Clyde, Ohio,
the town upon which Winesburg was partly modeled. Clyde  looked,  I suppose,
not very different  from  most  other American towns,  and  the  few  of its
residents  I  tried  to  engage  in   talk  about   Anderson  seemed   quite
uninterested.  This indifference would not have  surprised him; it certainly
should not surprise anyone who reads his book.
     Once freed from the army, I started to write literary criticism, and in
1951  I published a critical biography of  Anderson. It came  shortly  after
Lionel Trilling's influential essay attacking Anderson, an attack from which
Anderson's reputation  would never quite recover. Trilling charged  Anderson
with  indulging  a  vaporous  sentimentalism,  a  kind  of  vague  emotional
meandering in stories that lacked social or spiritual solidity.  There was a
certain cogency  in Trilling's attack,  at  least with regard  to Anderson's
inferior work,  most of which  he wrote after Winesburg,  Ohio. In my book I
tried, somewhat awkwardly, to  bring together the kinds of judgment Trilling
had made with  my still  keen affection for the best of Anderson's writings.
By then, I had  read writers more complex,  perhaps  more distinguished than
Anderson, but  his muted stories kept a firm place  in my memories,  and the
book  I wrote might be seen as a gesture  of thanks for the light--a glow of
darkness, you might say--that he had brought to me.
     Decades passed. I no longer read Anderson, perhaps fearing I might have
to surrender  an  admiration of youth.  (There  are  some writers one should
never return to.) But now, in the fullness of age, when asked to say  a  few
introductory  words  about Anderson and his work,  I have again fallen under
the spell of Winesburg,  Ohio, again responded to  the half-spoken  desires,
the flickers of longing that  spot  its pages.  Naturally, I  now  have some
changes of response:  a few of the stories no  longer haunt me as  once they
did, but the long story "Godliness," which years ago I considered a failure,
I now see  as a quaintly  effective account  of the way religious fanaticism
and material acquisitiveness can become intertwined in American experience.
     Sherwood Anderson was born in Ohio in 1876. His childhood and  youth in
Clyde, a  town  with perhaps three thousand souls, were scarred  by bouts of
poverty,  but he also  knew some of the pleasures of pre-industrial American
society. The country was  then  experiencing what  he  would  later  call "a
sudden and  almost universal turning of men from the old handicrafts towards
our  modern  life of  machines."  There  were  still  people  in  Clyde  who
remembered the frontier,  and like America  itself,  the  town  lived  by  a
mixture of  diluted Calvinism  and  a strong  belief  in  "progress,"  Young
Sherwood, known as "Jobby"--the boy always ready to work--showed the kind of
entrepreneurial  spirit that Clyde respected: folks expected him to become a
"go-getter," And for a time he did. Moving to Chicago in his early twenties,
he  worked  in an advertising agency where he  proved  adept at turning  out
copy. "I create nothing, I boost, I boost,"  he said about himself, even as,
on the side, he was trying to write short stories.
     In 1904  Anderson married and three years later moved to Elyria, a town
forty  miles west of Cleveland, where he established a firm that sold paint.
"I was going to be a  rich man.... Next year a bigger house; and after that,
presumably, a country estate." Later he would say about his years in Elyria,
"I was a good deal of a Babbitt,  but never completely one." Something drove
him  to  write,   perhaps  one  of  those  shapeless   hungers--a  need  for
self-expression? a wish to find a more authentic  kind of experience?-- that
would become a recurrent motif in his fiction.
     And then, in 1912, occurred the great turning point in Anderson's life.
Plainly put, he suffered a nervous breakdown, though in his memoirs he would
elevate this into a moment of liberation in which he abandoned the sterility
of commerce  and  turned  to  the  rewards  of literature. Nor  was this,  I
believe, merely  a deception on Anderson's part, since the breakdown painful
as it surely was, did help precipitate  a basic change in  his  life. At the
age of 36, he left behind his business and moved to Chicago, becoming one of
the rebellious  writers and cultural bohemians in the  group that has  since
come  to be  called the  "Chicago Renaissance."  Anderson  soon  adopted the
posture  of a  free, liberated spirit, and like many writers of the time, he
presented  himself  as a  sardonic  critic  of  American  provincialism  and
materialism. It was  in the freedom of the city,  in its readiness to put up
with  deviant styles of life, that Anderson  found  the strength  to  settle
accounts  with--but  also   to  release  his  affection  for--the  world  of
small-town  America.  The  dream of an  unconditional personal freedom, that
hazy American version of utopia, would remain central throughout  Anderson's
life and work. It was an inspiration; it was a delusion.
     In 1916 and  1917  Anderson  published  two  novels  mostly  written in
Elyria, Windy  McPherson's  Son  and  Marching  Men,  both  by  now  largely
forgotten.  They show patches  of talent  but also  a crudity of thought and
unsteadiness of language. No one reading  these novels was likely to suppose
that its author could  soon produce  anything  as  remarkable  as Winesburg,
Ohio.  Occasionally  there occurs  in  a writer's career  a  sudden,  almost
mysterious leap of talent,  beyond explanation, perhaps beyond  any need for
     In  1915-16 Anderson had begun to  write  and in 1919 he  published the
stories that  comprise Winesburg, Ohio, stories that form, in sum, a sort of
looselystrung episodic novel. The book  was  an immediate critical  success,
and soon Anderson was being ranked as a significant literary figure. In 1921
the distinguished  literary magazine  The Dial awarded him its first  annual
literary  prize  of  $2,000,  the  significance  of  which  is  perhaps best
understood if one also knows that the second recipient was T. S.  Eliot. But
Anderson's moment of glory was brief, no more than  a decade, and sadly, the
remaining  years  until his  death in 1940 were marked by a sharp decline in
his literary standing.  Somehow,  except for  an occasional story  like  the
haunting "Death in the Woods," he was unable to repeat or surpass  his early
success. Still, about Winesburg,  Ohio and a  small  number  of stories like
"The  Egg"  and  "The Man Who Became  a Woman"  there  has  rarely been  any
critical doubt.
     No  sooner did Winesburg, Ohio  make its appearance  than  a number  of
critical  labels were fixed  on it:  the  revolt  against  the village,  the
espousal of sexual freedom, the deepening of American realism. Such tags may
once have had their point, but by now they seem  dated and stale. The revolt
against the village  (about which  Anderson was always ambivalent) has faded
into  history.  The  espousal of  sexual freedom  would  soon be exceeded in
boldness by other writers. And as for the effort to place Winesburg, Ohio in
a tradition of American realism, that now seems dubious. Only  rarely is the
object of Anderson's stories social verisimilitude, or  the  "photographing"
of familiar appearances, in the sense, say, that one might use to describe a
novel  by Theodore Dreiser or Sinclair  Lewis.  Only  occasionally, and then
with  a  very light  touch,  does  Anderson  try  to  fill  out  the  social
arrangements of his imaginary town--although the fact that  his  stories are
set  in a mid-American  place like Winesburg does  constitute  an  important
formative  condition.  You  might even  say, with only slight overstatement,
that  what Anderson  is  doing in Winesburg,  Ohio  could  be  described  as
"antirealistic," fictions  notable less for precise locale and social detail
than for  a highly personal,  even strange vision  of American life. Narrow,
intense, almost claustrophobic, the result is a book about extreme states of
being, the collapse of  men and women  who have lost  their psychic bearings
and  now hover, at best tolerated,  at  the edge of  the little community in
which they live. It would be a gross mistake, though not one likely to occur
by now, if we  were to take Winesburg,  Ohio as a social  photograph of "the
typical  small  town"  (whatever that might be.) Anderson evokes a depressed
landscape  in  which  lost  souls  wander  about; they make  their  flitting
appearances  mostly in  the  darkness of night, these  stumps and  shades of
humanity. This  vision has its truth, and at its best it is  a  terrible  if
narrow  truth--but  it  is  itself also  grotesque,  with  the  tone  of the
authorial voice  and the mode of composition  forming muted  signals  of the
book's content. Figures like Dr. Parcival, Kate Swift, and Wash Williams are
not, nor  are they  meant to  be, "fullyrounded" characters  such as we  can
expect  in realistic  fiction; they are  the shards  of life, glimpsed for a
moment,  the debris of suffering  and defeat. In  each  story  one  of  them
emerges,  shyly  or  with  a  false  assertiveness, trying  to  reach out to
companionship  and  love,  driven  almost  mad  by   the  search  for  human
connection.  In the economy  of Winesburg  these  grotesques matter  less in
their own right than as agents or symptoms of that "indefinable hunger"  for
meaning which is Anderson's preoccupation.
     Brushing against one another, passing one another in the streets or the
fields, they see bodies and hear voices, but it does not really matter--they
are  disconnected,  psychically  lost.  Is  this   due   to  the  particular
circumstances  of small-town America as Anderson saw it  at the turn of  the
century? Or does he feel that he is sketching an inescapable human condition
which makes  all of  us bear the burden  of loneliness? Alice Hindman in the
story "Adventure" turns her face to the wall and tries "to force  herself to
face the fact that many people must  live and die alone, even in Winesburg."
Or especially in Winesburg? Such impressions  have been put in  more general
terms in Anderson's only successful novel, Poor White:
     All men lead their lives behind a wall of misun
     derstanding they have themselves built, and
     most men die in silence and unnoticed behind
     the walls. Now and then a man, cut off from
     his fellows by the peculiarities of his nature, be
     comes absorbed in doing something that is per
     sonal, useful and beautiful. Word of his activities
     is carried over the walls.
     These  "walls" of misunderstanding  are  only seldom  due  to  physical
deformities (Wing  Biddlebaum in  "Hands") or oppressive social arrangements
(Kate Swift in  "The Teacher.")  Misunderstanding, loneliness, the inability
to  articulate, are all seen  by  Anderson  as  virtually a root  condition,
something deeply set in our  natures.  Nor are these people, the grotesques,
simply to be  pitied and dismissed; at some point  in their  lives they have
known  desire, have dreamt of ambition, have hoped for friendship. In all of
them there was  once something sweet, "like the  twisted little apples  that
grow in  the orchards  in Winesburg." Now, broken and adrift, they clutch at
some  rigid notion or idea, a "truth" which turns  out  to bear the stamp of
monomania, leaving them helplessly sputtering,  desperate to speak  out  but
unable to.  Winesburg, Ohio registers the losses inescapable to life, and it
does so with a deep fraternal sadness,  a sympathy casting  a mild glow over
the  entire book. "Words," as the  American  writer Paula Fox has said, "are
nets through which all truth escapes." Yet what do we have but words?
     They  want,  these  Winesburg grotesques*, to  unpack their hearts,  to
release emotions buried and festering.  Wash Williams  tries to explain  his
eccentricity but hardly can; Louise  Bentley "tried  to talk  but  could say
nothing";  Enoch  Robinson  retreats to a fantasy world,  inventing "his own
people to whom he could  really talk and to whom he explained the  things he
had been unable to explain to living people."
     In his own  somber way, Anderson has here touched upon one of the great
themes of American literature, especially Midwestern literature, in the late
nineteenth  and  early twentieth centuries:  the struggle  for speech  as it
entails a search for the  self. Perhaps the central Winesburg story, tracing
the basic  movements of the book, is "Paper Pills," in which the old  Doctor
Reefy sits "in his  empty office close by  a  window that  was  covered with
cobwebs,"  writes down some thoughts on slips of paper ("pyramids of truth,"
he calls them)  and  then  stuffs them into his pockets  where they  "become
round hard balls" soon to be discarded. What Dr. Reefy's "truths" may be  we
never know; Anderson simply  persuades us that  to this lonely old man  they
are utterly precious  and thereby incommunicable, forming a  kind of blurred
moral signature.
     After  a time the  attentive reader  will  notice  in these  stories  a
recurrent  pattern  of  theme and incident:  the grotesques, gathering up  a
little  courage, venture out  into  the streets  of Winesburg, often  in the
dark,  there to establish some  initiatory relationship with George Willard,
the young reporter  who hasn't yet  lived long enough to become a grotesque.
Hesitantly,  fearfully, or  with a sputtering incoherent rage, they approach
him,  pleading that he listen to their stories in the hope that perhaps they
can find some sort of renewal in his youthful voice. Upon this sensitive and
fragile boy they pour out their desires and frustrations. Dr. Parcival hopes
that  George Willard  "will write the book I may never get written," and for
Enoch  Robinson,  the  boy  represents  "the youthful  sadness, young  man's
sadness, the sadness of a growing boy in a village at the year's  end [which
may open] the lips of the old man."
     What the grotesques  really need is  each other, but their estrangement
is so extreme they  cannot  establish  direct ties--they  can only  hope for
connection through George Willard. The burden this places on the boy is more
than he can bear. He listens to them attentively, he is sympathetic to their
complaints, but finally he is too absorbed in his own dreams. The grotesques
turn to  him  because  he  seems "different"--younger,  more  open,  not yet
hardened-- but it  is  precisely  this  "difference"  that  keeps  him  from
responding  as  warmly as  they want.  It is  hardly the  boy's fault; it is
simply  in the nature of things. For  George Willard, the  grotesques form a
moment in his education; for the  grotesques, their  encounters  with George
Willard come to seem like a stamp of hopelessness.
     The prose Anderson employs in telling these stories may seem  at  first
glance to  be  simple:  short sentences, a sparse vocabulary,  uncomplicated
syntax. In actuality, Anderson developed an artful style in which, following
Mark  Twain and preceding Ernest Hemingway, he tried to use  American speech
as the base of a tensed rhythmic prose that has an economy and a shapeliness
seldom  found  in  ordinary speech or  even oral  narration.  What  Anderson
employs  here is a  stylized  version  of  the American  language, sometimes
rising  to quite  formal rhetorical patterns  and  sometimes  sinking  to  a
self-conscious  mannerism.  But at  its  best,  Anderson's  prose  style  in
Winesburg, Ohio is a supple instrument, yielding that "low fine music" which
he admired so much in the stories of Turgenev.
     One  of  the  worst  fates  that   can  befall  a  writer  is  that  of
self-imitation: the effort later in life,  often desperate, to recapture the
tones and themes of youthful beginnings. Something of the sort happened with
Anderson's later writings. Most critics and readers  grew impatient with the
work he did  after, say, 1927 or 1928; they felt he was constantly repeating
his gestures  of emotional "groping"-- what he had called in Winesburg, Ohio
the  "indefinable  hunger" that  prods and  torments people.  It  became the
critical  fashion  to  see  Anderson's  "gropings"  as  a  sign  of  delayed
adolescence, a  failure  to  develop  as a writer. Once he  wrote a chilling
reply to  those  who  dismissed him in this  way: "I don't think it  matters
much, all this calling a man  a muddler, a groper, etc.... The very man  who
throws  such  words  as these knows  in his heart that he is also  facing  a
wall."  This remark  seems to me both dignified  and strong,  yet it must be
admitted that there was some justice  in the negative responses to his later
work. For what characterized  it was not so  much "groping" as the imitation
of "groping," the self-caricature of  a writer who feels driven back upon an
earlier self that is, alas, no longer available.
     But Winesburg, Ohio remains a vital work, fresh and authentic. Most  of
its  stories  are composed in a minor  key, a tone of subdued pathos--pathos
marking both the nature and limit of Anderson's talent. (He spoke of himself
as a "minor writer.") In a few stories, however, he was able to reach beyond
pathos and to strike a tragic note. The single best story in Winesburg, Ohio
is,  I think, "The Untold  Lie," in which the  urgency of choice becomes  an
outer sign of a tragic element  in the  human  condition. And in  Anderson's
single  greatest  story,  "The  Egg,"  which  appeared  a  few  years  after
Winesburg, Ohio, he succeeded  in bringing together a surface of farce  with
an undertone of tragedy. "The Egg" is an American masterpiece.
     Anderson's  influence upon later American writers, especially those who
wrote  short  stories, has  been  enormous.  Ernest  Hemingway  and  William
Faulkner both praised him as a writer who brought a new tremor of feeling, a
new sense of introspectiveness to  the American short story. As Faulkner put
it, Anderson's "was the fumbling for exactitude, the  exact word  and phrase
within the limited scope of  a vocabulary  controlled and  even repressed by
what  was  in him  almost  a fetish  of simplicity  ...  to  seek  always to
penetrate to thought's uttermost end." And  in  many younger writers who may
not  even  be  aware of the Anderson influence, you  can see touches  of his
approach, echoes of his voice.
     Writing about the Elizabethan playwright  John Ford, the  poet Algernon
Swinburne once said: "If he touches you once he takes you, and what he takes
he keeps hold of; his work becomes  part of your thought and parcel of  your
spiritual  furniture  forever."  So  it  is, for  me and  many  others, with
Sherwood Anderson.

     To the memory of my mother,
     whose keen observations on  the life about  her first  awoke  in me the
hunger to see beneath the surface of lives, this book is dedicated.



     THE WRITER, an  old man with  a white mustache, had some  difficulty in
getting  into bed. The windows of the house in which he  lived were high and
he wanted to look at  the trees when he awoke in the  morning.  A  carpenter
came to fix the bed so that it would be on a level with the window.
     Quite a fuss  was made about the matter. The carpenter, who  had been a
soldier in the  Civil War, came into the writer's room and sat  down to talk
of building  a platform for  the purpose  of raising the bed. The writer had
cigars lying about and the carpenter smoked.
     For a  time the two men talked of the raising of the bed and  then they
talked of  other things.  The soldier  got on the  subject of  the  war. The
writer,  in fact, led  him  to that  subject. The carpenter had once been  a
prisoner in  Andersonville prison  and  had lost a brother. The  brother had
died  of starvation, and  whenever the carpenter got  upon  that subject  he
cried. He,  like the old writer, had a white mustache, and  when he cried he
puckered up his  lips and the mustache  bobbed up and  down. The weeping old
man  with the cigar in his  mouth was ludicrous. The plan the writer had for
the raising of his bed was forgotten and later the carpenter  did  it in his
own way and the writer, who was past sixty, had to help himself with a chair
when he went to bed at night.
     In his bed the writer rolled  over on his side and lay quite still. For
years he had been beset  with notions  concerning  his  heart. He was a hard
smoker and his heart fluttered. The idea had got into his mind that he would
some time die unexpectedly  and always when he  got  into bed he  thought of
that. It did not alarm him. The effect in fact was quite a special thing and
not easily  explained.  It  made him more  alive, there in bed, than  at any
other time. Perfectly still he lay and  his body was old and not of much use
any more,  but something inside  him was altogether  young.  He  was  like a
pregnant woman, only that  the thing inside him was not a baby  but a youth.
No, it wasn't a  youth,  it was a woman, young, and  wearing a  coat of mail
like a knight. It is absurd, you see, to try to tell what was inside the old
writer as he lay  on  his  high  bed  and listened to the fluttering of  his
heart. The thing to get at is what the writer, or the young thing within the
writer, was thinking about.
     The old writer, like  all of  the people in  the world, had got, during
his long fife,  a great many notions  in his  head. He  had once been  quite
handsome  and  a  number of women had  been  in  love with him. And then, of
course,  he  had known  people,  many people, known  them  in  a  peculiarly
intimate way that was different from the way in which you and I know people.
At least that is  what the writer  thought and  the thought pleased him. Why
quarrel with an old man concerning his thoughts?
     In  the  bed the writer  had a  dream that was not a dream. As  he grew
somewhat sleepy but was still conscious,  figures began to appear before his
eyes. He imagined the young indescribable thing within himself was driving a
long procession of figures before his eyes.
     You see the interest  in all this lies  in the figures that went before
the eyes  of the writer. They were all grotesques. All of the men  and women
the writer had ever known had become grotesques.
     The grotesques were not all horrible. Some  were  amusing,  some almost
beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out  of shape, hurt the old man by her
grotesqueness.  When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering.
Had you come  into  the  room  you might  have  supposed  the  old  man  had
unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.
     For an hour the procession of grotesques  passed before the eyes of the
old man, and then, although it was  a painful thing to do, he crept  out  of
bed  and began  to  write.  Some  one  of the  grotesques had  made  a  deep
impression on his mind and he wanted to describe it.
     At his desk the writer worked  for an hour.  In the end he wrote a book
which he called  "The Book of the Grotesque." It  was never published, but I
saw it once and it made an indelible impression on my mind. The book had one
central thought that  is very strange  and  has always  remained with me. By
remembering it I have been able to understand many people  and things that I
was  never able to understand before. The thought  was involved but a simple
statement of it would be something like this:
     That in the beginning when the world was  young there were a great many
thoughts but no such  thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each
truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world
were the truths and they were all beautiful.
     The old man had listed hundreds of the truths  in his book. I  will not
try to tell you of all of them.  There was  the  truth of virginity  and the
truth  of  passion,  the truth of  wealth  and of poverty, of thrift  and of
profligacy, of carelessness  and abandon. Hundreds  and  hundreds  were  the
truths and they were all beautiful.
     And then the people  came along. Each as he appeared snatched up one of
the truths and some who were quite strong snatched up a dozen of them.
     It  was the truths  that made  the people  grotesques. The  old man had
quite an elaborate  theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the
moment  one of  the people took one  of the truths to himself, called it his
truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth
he embraced became a falsehood.
     You can see for yourself how the old man, who had spent all of his life
writing and was filled  with words, would write hundreds of pages concerning
this matter. The subject would become so  big  in  his mind that he  himself
would be  in danger of becoming a  grotesque.  He didn't, I suppose, for the
same reason that he never published the  book. It was the young thing inside
him that saved the old man.
     Concerning the old carpenter who fixed the bed for  the writer, I  only
mentioned him because he,
     like  many  of what are called  very common  people, became the nearest
thing to what is understandable and  lovable  of  all  the grotesques in the
writer's book.

     UPON  THE HALF  decayed veranda of a small frame house  that stood near
the edge of a ravine near the town of Winesburg, Ohio, a fat  little old man
walked  nervously up and down. Across a long field that  had been seeded for
clover  but that had produced only a dense crop  of yellow mustard weeds, he
could see the public highway along  which  went a wagon  filled  with  berry
pickers returning  from the  fields. The berry  pickers, youths and maidens,
laughed and shouted boisterously. A boy clad in a blue shirt leaped from the
wagon  and attempted to drag  after him one of the maidens, who screamed and
protested shrilly. The feet of the boy in the road kicked up a cloud of dust
that  floated across the face of the departing sun. Over the long field came
a thin girlish voice. "Oh, you Wing Biddlebaum, comb your hair, it's falling
into  your eyes," commanded the voice to  the  man, who  was bald  and whose
nervous  little  hands  fiddled  about the  bare  white forehead  as  though
arranging a mass of tangled locks.
     Wing  Biddlebaum, forever  frightened  and  beset  by a ghostly band of
doubts, did not  think of himself  as in any  way a part of the life  of the
town where he had lived for twenty years. Among all the  people of Winesburg
but one had come close  to him. With George Willard, son of Tom Willard, the
proprietor  of  the  New  Willard  House,  he  had  formed something like  a
friendship.  George Willard  was the  reporter  on the  Winesburg Eagle  and
sometimes  in  the  evenings  he  walked  out  along  the  highway  to  Wing
Biddlebaum's house. Now as the old  man walked  up and down on the  veranda,
his hands moving nervously  about,  he was hoping that George Willard  would
come and spend  the  evening  with him. After the wagon containing the berry
pickers had passed, he went across the field through  the tall mustard weeds
and climbing a rail fence peered anxiously along the road to the town. For a
moment he stood thus, rubbing his hands together and looking up and down the
road, and then,  fear overcoming him,  ran back to walk again upon the porch
on his own house.
     In the presence  of George Willard,  Wing  Biddlebaum, who  for  twenty
years had been  the  town mystery, lost  something of his  timidity, and his
shadowy personality, submerged in a sea of doubts, came forth to look at the
world. With the young reporter at his  side, he ventured in the light of day
into Main Street or strode up and down on the rickety front porch of his own
house,  talking excitedly.  The voice that had been low and trembling became
shrill and loud. The bent  figure straightened. With a kind of wriggle, like
a fish returned to the brook by the fisherman,  Biddlebaum the  silent began
to talk, striving to put  into  words the ideas that had been accumulated by
his mind during long years of silence.
     Wing  Biddlebaum  talked much with his  hands. The  slender  expressive
fingers,  forever  active,  forever striving  to  conceal  themselves in his
pockets or  behind his back, came forth  and became the  piston rods  of his
machinery of expression.
     The story  of Wing  Biddlebaum is a  story  of  hands.  Their  restless
activity, like  unto the  beating  of the wings  of an  imprisoned bird, had
given him his name. Some obscure poet of  the town  had thought  of it.  The
hands  alarmed their owner. He wanted to keep  them hidden  away  and looked
with  amazement  at the  quiet  inexpressive  hands of  other men who worked
beside him in the fields, or passed, driving sleepy teams on country roads.
     When he talked to George Willard,  Wing Biddlebaum closed his fists and
beat with  them upon a table  or on the walls of his house.  The action made
him more comfortable.  If the desire  to talk came to him when  the two were
walking in the fields, he sought out a stump or the top board of a fence and
with his hands pounding busily talked with renewed ease.
     The  story of  Wing  Biddlebaum's  hands  is  worth a  book  in itself.
Sympathetically set  forth it would tap many strange, beautiful qualities in
obscure men.  It is a job for a poet.  In Winesburg the hands  had attracted
attention  merely because  of their activity. With  them Wing Biddlebaum had
picked as high as a hundred  and forty quarts of strawberries in a day. They
became his  distinguishing feature, the source  of his  fame. Also they made
more grotesque an already grotesque and elusive individuality. Winesburg was
proud  of the hands of Wing Biddlebaum in the  same spirit  in which it  was
proud of  Banker White's  new stone house  and Wesley Moyer's  bay stallion,
Tony Tip, that had won the two-fifteen trot at the fall races in Cleveland.
     As for George Willard, he had many times wanted to ask about the hands.
At times an almost overwhelming curiosity  had  taken hold of him.  He  felt
that there must be a reason for their strange activity and their inclination
to keep hidden away and only a growing respect for Wing Biddlebaum kept  him
from blurting out the questions that were often in his mind.
     Once  he had been on the  point of asking.  The two were walking in the
fields  on a summer afternoon and had stopped to sit upon a grassy bank. All
afternoon Wing Biddlebaum had talked  as  one inspired. By a  fence  he  had
stopped  and beating like a giant woodpecker upon the top board had  shouted
at George Willard, condemning his tendency  to be too much influenced by the
people about  him,  "You are destroying  yourself," he cried. "You have  the
inclination to be  alone and to dream and you are afraid of dreams. You want
to be like others in town here.  You hear  them talk and you  try to imitate
     On the grassy bank Wing Biddlebaum had tried  again to drive  his point
home. His voice became soft and reminiscent, and with a sigh  of contentment
he launched into a long rambling talk, speaking as one lost in a dream.
     Out of  the dream Wing Biddlebaum made a picture for George Willard. In
the picture men lived again in a kind of pastoral golden age. Across a green
open  country came clean-limbed  young  men,  some afoot, some mounted  upon
horses. In crowds  the young men came to gather about the feet of an old man
who sat beneath a tree in a tiny garden and who talked to them.
     Wing Biddlebaum became wholly inspired.  For once  he forgot the hands.
Slowly they stole  forth and lay upon George Willard's  shoulders. Something
new  and bold came into the voice  that talked. "You must try to forget  all
you have learned,"  said  the old  man. "You  must begin to dream. From this
time on you must shut your ears to the roaring of the voices."
     Pausing  in  his  speech, Wing Biddlebaum looked  long and earnestly at
George Willard. His eyes glowed. Again he raised the hands to caress the boy
and then a look of horror swept over his face.
     With  a convulsive movement of his body, Wing Biddlebaum sprang  to his
feet and thrust his hands deep into  his trousers pockets. Tears came to his
eyes. "I must be getting along  home. I can talk no more with you,"  he said
     Without  looking  back, the old man had hurried  down the hillside  and
across a meadow, leaving George  Willard perplexed and  frightened upon  the
grassy slope.  With a shiver  of dread the boy arose and went along the road
toward town. "I'll not ask him about his hands," he thought, touched  by the
memory  of the  terror he had seen  in  the  man's  eyes. "There's something
wrong, but I  don't want to know what it is. His hands  have something to do
with his fear of me and of everyone."
     And George Willard was right. Let us look briefly into the story of the
hands.  Perhaps  our  talking of them will arouse the poet who will tell the
hidden wonder story of the influence for which the hands were but fluttering
pennants of promise.
     In his  youth Wing Biddlebaum  had been a  school teacher  in a town in
Pennsylvania. He was not then known as Wing Biddlebaum, but went by the less
euphonic name of Adolph Myers. As Adolph Myers he was much loved by the boys
of his school.
     Adolph Myers  was  meant by nature to be a teacher of youth. He was one
of those rare,  littleunderstood men who rule by  a power so  gentle that it
passes  as a lovable  weakness. In  their  feeling for  the boys under their
charge such men are not unlike the finer sort of women in their love of men.
     And yet that is  but crudely stated. It needs the  poet there. With the
boys of his school,  Adolph  Myers  had  walked in the  evening  or had  sat
talking until dusk upon the  schoolhouse steps lost in a kind of dream. Here
and there went his hands, caressing the shoulders of the boys, playing about
the tousled heads. As he talked his voice became soft and musical. There was
a caress in that also. In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of the
shoulders  and  the touching of  the hair  were a part of the schoolmaster's
effort to carry  a dream into the young minds. By the caress that was in his
fingers he expressed himself. He was one of those men in whom the force that
creates  life is diffused, not  centralized. Under the caress  of his  hands
doubt and disbelief went out of the minds of the boys and they began also to
     And then  the tragedy.  A half-witted boy of the school became enamored
of the  young master. In his bed at night he imagined unspeakable things and
in the morning  went  forth to  tell  his dreams as facts.  Strange, hideous
accusations fell from his loosehung lips. Through the Pennsylvania town went
a shiver. Hidden,  shadowy doubts  that had been in men's  minds  concerning
Adolph Myers were galvanized into beliefs.
     The tragedy did not linger. Trembling  lads were jerked out of  bed and
questioned. "He  put his arms about me," said one. "His fingers were  always
playing in my hair," said another.
     One afternoon a  man of the town, Henry  Bradford, who  kept  a saloon,
came to the schoolhouse door. Calling Adolph  Myers into the school  yard he
began to beat him with his fists. As his hard knuckles  beat down  into  the
frightened  face  of  the  schoolmaster,  his  wrath became  more  and  more
terrible.  Screaming  with  dismay,  the  children  ran  here and there like
disturbed insects. "I'll teach  you to put your hands on my boy, you beast,"
roared the saloon  keeper, who,  tired of beating the master,  had  begun to
kick him about the yard.
     Adolph Myers was  driven from the Pennsylvania town in  the night. With
lanterns in their hands a dozen men came to the  door  of the house where he
lived alone and commanded that he  dress and  come forth. It was raining and
one  of the men had  a rope  in his hands.  They had  intended  to  hang the
schoolmaster,  but something  in his  figure, so small, white, and  pitiful,
touched  their hearts  and  they  let  him  escape. As he ran away into  the
darkness  they  repented  of their  weakness and ran after him, swearing and
throwing sticks and great balls of soft mud at the figure that  screamed and
ran faster and faster into the darkness.
     For twenty  years Adolph Myers had lived alone in Winesburg. He was but
forty but  looked sixtyfive. The  name of  Biddlebaum he got  from  a box of
goods seen at a freight station  as he hurried through an eastern Ohio town.
He had an aunt in Winesburg, a black-toothed old woman who raised  chickens,
and with her  he lived until she died.  He had been ill for a year after the
experience in Pennsylvania, and  after his recovery worked as a day  laborer
in  the fields, going timidly  about  and  striving  to conceal  his  hands.
Although he did not understand what had happened he felt that the hands must
be to  blame. Again  and again  the fathers of the  boys had  talked of  the
hands. "Keep your hands to yourself," the saloon keeper had roared, dancing,
with fury in the schoolhouse yard.
     Upon  the veranda of his house by the ravine, Wing Biddlebaum continued
to walk up  and down until the sun had disappeared and  the road  beyond the
field was lost  in the grey shadows.  Going into his house he cut  slices of
bread and  spread honey upon them. When the rumble of the evening train that
took away the express cars loaded with  the  day's  harvest of  berries  had
passed and restored the  silence of the summer night,  he went again to walk
upon the veranda. In the darkness he could not see the hands and they became
quiet. Although he still hungered for the presence  of the boy, who was  the
medium through which he expressed his love of man, the hunger became again a
part  of his loneliness  and his waiting.  Lighting a lamp,  Wing Biddlebaum
washed the  few dishes soiled by his simple meal and,  setting up a  folding
cot  by the  screen door that led to the  porch, prepared to undress for the
night. A few stray white bread crumbs lay on the cleanly washed floor by the
table; putting the lamp  upon a low  stool he began to pick up  the  crumbs,
carrying  them to  his mouth one by one with  unbelievable rapidity.  In the
dense blotch of light beneath the table,  the kneeling  figure looked like a
priest  engaged  in  some  service of  his  church.  The nervous  expressive
fingers, flashing in and out of the light, might well have been mistaken for
the fingers of  the devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his

     HE WAS AN old man with  a  white beard  and  huge  nose and hands. Long
before the time during which we will know him,  he was a  doctor and drove a
jaded  white  horse from house to  house through the  streets of  Winesburg.
Later he married  a girl who had  money.  She had been  left a large fertile
farm  when  her father died. The girl was quiet, tall, and dark, and to many
people she seemed very  beautiful. Everyone  in  Winesburg wondered  why she
married the doctor. Within a year after the marriage she died.
     The knuckles of the doctor's hands were extraordinarily large. When the
hands were  closed they looked like clusters of  unpainted  wooden balls  as
large  as walnuts  fastened together by steel rods. He smoked a cob pipe and
after  his wife's death sat  all day in  his empty office close by  a window
that was covered with cobwebs. He never opened the window. Once on a hot day
in August  he  tried but found it stuck fast and  after that he  forgot  all
about it.
     Winesburg had forgotten the old man, but in Doctor Reefy there were the
seeds of something very fine. Alone in his musty office in the Heffner Block
above the Paris Dry Goods Company's store,  he worked ceaselessly,  building
up something that he himself destroyed. Little  pyramids of truth he erected
and after erecting knocked them down again  that he might have the truths to
erect other pyramids.
     Doctor Reefy was a tall man who had  worn  one suit of  clothes for ten
years. It  was frayed at the sleeves and little holes  had appeared  at  the
knees  and  elbows. In the  office he  wore also  a  linen duster  with huge
pockets into which he continually  stuffed scraps of paper. After some weeks
the scraps of  paper became little  hard  round balls, and when  the pockets
were filled he dumped them out upon the floor. For ten years he  had but one
friend,  another  old man  named John Spaniard who  owned  a  tree  nursery.
Sometimes, in a  playful  mood,  old  Doctor Reefy took from his  pockets  a
handful of the paper  balls and threw them at the nursery man. "That  is  to
confound  you,  you blathering old  sentimentalist," he cried,  shaking with
     The story of  Doctor Reefy and his courtship of the  tall dark girl who
became his wife and  left her money to  him is  a very  curious story. It is
delicious,  like the twisted  little apples  that  grow  in  the orchards of
Winesburg. In the fall one walks in the orchards and the ground is hard with
frost underfoot. The apples have been  taken from the trees  by the pickers.
They have  been put in barrels and shipped to the  cities where they will be
eaten in  apartments that are filled  with books, magazines,  furniture, and
people. On the trees are only  a few gnarled apples  that the  pickers  have
rejected. They look like the  knuckles of Doctor Reefy's hands. One  nibbles
at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the
apple has been gathered all  of  its  sweetness. One runs  from tree to tree
over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and  filling his
pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.
     The girl and Doctor Reefy began their  courtship on a summer afternoon.
He was forty-five then and  already he had begun the practice of filling his
pockets with  the  scraps  of  paper  that became hard balls and were thrown
away. The habit had been  formed as  he  sat in his  buggy behind  the jaded
white horse and went  slowly along country roads. On the papers were written
thoughts, ends of thoughts, beginnings of thoughts.
     One by one the mind of Doctor Reefy had made the thoughts. Out of  many
of them he formed a truth that arose gigantic in his mind. The truth clouded
the world. It became terrible and then  faded away  and the little  thoughts
began again.
     The tall  dark  girl came to see Doctor  Reefy because  she was in  the
family way and had become frightened. She was in that condition because of a
series of circumstances also curious.
     The death  of her father and mother and the rich acres of land that had
come down to her had set a train of suitors on her heels.  For two years she
saw suitors  almost  every evening. Except  two they  were  all alike.  They
talked  to her of passion and there  was  a strained eager  quality in their
voices and in their eyes when they looked at her. The two who were different
were  much unlike  each other. One  of them, a slender young man with  white
hands, the son of a  jeweler in Winesburg, talked  continually of virginity.
When he was with her he was never off the subject. The other, a black-haired
boy with large ears, said nothing at all but always managed to get  her into
the darkness, where he began to kiss her.
     For a  time the  tall dark  girl thought  she would marry the jeweler's
son. For hours she sat in silence listening as he talked to her and then she
began to be afraid of something.  Beneath his talk of virginity she began to
think there was a lust greater than in all the others. At times it seemed to
her that as he talked he was holding her body in his hands. She imagined him
turning it slowly about in the white  hands and  staring at it. At night she
dreamed  that he had bitten into  her  body and that his jaws were dripping.
She had the dream three times, then she became in the family way  to the one
who said  nothing at  all but who in the moment of  his passion actually did
bite her shoulder so that for days the marks of his teeth showed.
     After the tall dark girl  came to know  Doctor Reefy  it seemed to  her
that she  never wanted  to  leave him again. She went  into  his office  one
morning  and without her saying anything he seemed to know what had happened
to her.
     In the office  of the doctor there was a woman, the wife of the man who
kept   the  bookstore   in   Winesburg.   Like   all  old-fashioned  country
practitioners,  Doctor Reefy  pulled teeth, and the woman who waited  held a
handkerchief to her teeth and groaned. Her husband was with her and when the
tooth  was taken out they both screamed and  blood ran down  on  the woman's
white  dress.  The tall dark girl  did not pay any attention. When the woman
and the man had gone the doctor  smiled.  "I will take  you driving into the
country with me," he said.
     For  several weeks the tall dark  girl  and  the  doctor were  together
almost every day.  The condition that had brought her to  him  passed  in an
illness, but she  was  like  one who  has discovered the  sweetness  of  the
twisted  apples,  she could  not get her mind  fixed again  upon  the  round
perfect fruit  that is  eaten in the city apartments. In  the fall after the
beginning of her acquaintanceship with him she married  Doctor Reefy  and in
the  following spring she died. During the winter he read to  her all of the
odds  and ends  of thoughts he had scribbled on the  bits of paper. After he
had read  them he laughed and  stuffed them  away  in his  pockets to become
round hard balls.

     ELIZABETH WILLARD, the mother of George Willard, was tall and gaunt and
her face was  marked  with smallpox scars. Although she was but  forty-five,
some obscure  disease had taken  the fire out of her  figure. Listlessly she
went about the disorderly  old hotel looking at the faded wall-paper and the
ragged  carpets and,  when  she was able to  be  about, doing  the work of a
chambermaid among  beds soiled by  the slumbers of  fat traveling  men.  Her
husband, Tom Willard, a slender, graceful man with square shoulders, a quick
military  step, and a black mustache trained to turn sharply up at the ends,
tried to put  the wife  out  of his mind. The presence  of the tall  ghostly
figure, moving slowly  through the halls, he took as a  reproach to himself.
When he thought of her  he grew angry  and swore. The hotel was unprofitable
and forever on the edge of  failure  and he wished  himself  out  of  it. He
thought of the old house and the woman  who lived there with him  as  things
defeated and done for. The hotel in which he had begun life so hopefully was
now  a  mere  ghost  of  what a  hotel  should  be. As  he  went spruce  and
business-like  through the streets of  Winesburg,  he  sometimes stopped and
turned quickly about as though fearing that the spirit of  the hotel  and of
the woman would follow  him even into the  streets. "Damn such a  life, damn
it!" he sputtered aimlessly.
     Tom Willard had  a passion for village  politics and for years had been
the leading Democrat in  a strongly  Republican community. Some day, he told
himself, the fide of things political will turn in my favor and the years of
ineffectual  service count  big  in  the bestowal of rewards. He  dreamed of
going to Congress and even of becoming governor. Once when a  younger member
of  the  party arose at  a political  conference  and began to boast of  his
faithful  service, Tom  Willard  grew white  with fury. "Shut  up,  you," he
roared, glaring about. "What do you know of service? What are you but a boy?
Look at what I've done here! I  was a Democrat here in Winesburg when it was
a crime to be a Democrat. In the old days they fairly hunted us with guns."
     Between Elizabeth and her one  son George there was  a deep unexpressed
bond  of sympathy,  based on a girlhood dream that had long ago died. In the
son's presence she was  timid and reserved, but sometimes  while he  hurried
about town intent upon his duties  as a reporter, she went into his room and
closing the door knelt by a little desk,  made of  a kitchen table, that sat
near a window. In the room by the desk she  went through a ceremony that was
half a prayer, half a demand,  addressed to  the skies. In the boyish figure
she yearned to see  something half forgotten that  had  once been a  part of
herself recreated. The  prayer concerned that. "Even though I die, I will in
some way keep defeat from you," she cried, and so deep was her determination
that her whole body shook. Her eyes glowed and she clenched her fists. "If I
am dead and see him becoming a meaningless drab  figure like myself, I  will
come back," she declared. "I ask God now to give me that privilege. I demand
it.  I will pay for it. God may beat me with his fists. I will take any blow
that may  befall if but this my boy be allowed to  express  something for us
both."  Pausing uncertainly,  the woman stared about the boy's room. "And do
not let him become smart and successful either," she added vaguely.
     The  communion between  George  Willard and his mother was  outwardly a
formal thing without meaning. When she was ill and sat by the  window in her
room he  sometimes went in the  evening  to make her a visit. They  sat by a
window that looked over the roof of a small frame building into Main Street.
By  turning their heads they  could  see through  another  window,  along an
alleyway that  ran behind the Main Street stores and  into the  back door of
Abner Groff's bakery. Sometimes as they sat  thus a picture  of village life
presented itself to them. At the back door of his shop appeared Abner  Groff
with  a stick or an empty milk bottle in his hand. For a long time there was
a feud between the baker and a grey cat that belonged to Sylvester West, the
druggist. The  boy and his  mother saw the cat  creep into  the  door of the
bakery and presently  emerge followed by the baker,  who swore and waved his
arms about. The baker's eyes were small and red and his black hair and beard
were filled with flour  dust.  Sometimes he was so  angry that, although the
cat had disappeared, he hurled sticks,  bits of broken glass,  and even some
of  the  tools  of  his trade  about. Once he  broke a window at the back of
Sinning's Hardware Store. In the alley  the grey cat crouched behind barrels
filled with torn paper and broken bottles above  which flew a black swarm of
flies.  Once  when  she  was  alone, and  after  watching  a  prolonged  and
ineffectual outburst on the part of  the baker,  Elizabeth Willard  put  her
head down on her long  white  hands and  wept. After that she did  not  look
along the alleyway any more, but  tried to  forget  the contest between  the
bearded man  and the  cat. It  seemed  like  a  rehearsal of her  own  life,
terrible in its vividness.
     In  the  evening  when the  son sat in  the  room  with his mother, the
silence made  them both feel awkward. Darkness came on and the evening train
came in at the station. In the street below feet tramped up  and down upon a
board sidewalk. In the station yard, after the evening train had gone, there
was a  heavy  silence. Perhaps  Skinner Leason, the  express agent,  moved a
truck the length of the  station  platform.  Over  on Main Street  sounded a
man's voice, laughing. The door of the express office banged. George Willard
arose  and crossing the  room fumbled for the doorknob. Sometimes he knocked
against a chair, making it scrape  along  the floor. By the window  sat  the
sick woman,  perfectly still, listless. Her long hands, white and bloodless,
could be seen drooping  over the ends of the arms of the chair. "I think you
had  better  be out  among the boys. You  are too much  indoors," she  said,
striving to relieve the embarrassment  of the departure. "I  thought I would
take a walk," replied George Willard, who felt awkward and confused.
     One evening in July, when the transient guests who made the New Willard
House their temporary home had become scarce, and the hallways, lighted only
by kerosene  lamps turned low, were plunged in  gloom, Elizabeth Willard had
an adventure.  She had been ill  in bed for several days and her son had not
come to visit her. She was alarmed. The feeble blaze  of  life that remained
in her body  was blown into a flame by her anxiety and she crept out of bed,
dressed and hurried along  the hallway toward her  son's room, shaking  with
exaggerated fears. As she  went  along she  steadied  herself with her hand,
slipped  along the papered walls of  the hall  and breathed with difficulty.
The  air whistled through her teeth. As she hurried forward she thought  how
foolish she  was. "He is concerned with boyish  affairs," she told  herself.
"Perhaps he has now begun to walk about in the evening with girls."
     Elizabeth Willard had a dread of being seen by guests in the hotel that
had  once belonged to  her father and  the ownership  of  which  still stood
recorded in her name  in  the county  courthouse. The  hotel was continually
losing  patronage because of its  shabbiness and she  thought of  herself as
also shabby. Her own room was in an obscure corner and when she felt able to
work she voluntarily worked among the beds, preferring  the labor that could
be done when  the guests were abroad  seeking trade among  the merchants  of
     By the door  of her  son's  room the mother knelt  upon the  floor  and
listened for some sound from within. When she heard the boy moving about and
talking in low tones a smile came to her lips. George Willard had a habit of
talking  aloud to himself and  to hear him  doing so  had always  given  his
mother a  peculiar  pleasure. The  habit in him,  she felt, strengthened the
secret bond that existed between them. A thousand times she had whispered to
herself  of the matter. "He is groping about,  trying to find himself,"  she
thought.  "He is not a dull clod, all words and  smartness. Within him there
is  a secret something that is striving  to grow. It is the thing  I  let be
killed in myself."
     In the darkness in the hallway  by the  door the sick  woman  arose and
started  again toward  her own room. She was afraid that the door would open
and  the  boy come upon  her. When she had  reached  a safe distance and was
about to turn a corner into a second hallway she stopped and bracing herself
with her hands waited, thinking to shake  off a  trembling fit  of  weakness
that  had come upon her. The presence of the boy  in  the room  had made her
happy.  In her bed, during  the long hours alone, the little fears  that had
visited her  had become giants.  Now they were all gone. "When I get back to
my room I shall sleep," she murmured gratefully.
     But Elizabeth Willard was not to return to her bed and to sleep. As she
stood trembling  in the darkness  the door  of her son's room opened and the
boy's father, Tom Willard, stepped out. In the light that steamed out at the
door he stood with the knob in his hand  and talked. What he said infuriated
the woman.
     Tom Willard was ambitious for his son. He had always thought of himself
as  a  successful  man,  although nothing  he had ever  done had  turned out
successfully. However, when he was out of sight of the New Willard House and
had  no  fear of coming upon his wife, he swaggered  and  began to dramatize
himself as  one of the chief men of the town. He wanted his  son to succeed.
He it was who  had secured for the  boy the position on the Winesburg Eagle.
Now,  with a ring of earnestness in  his voice, he  was advising  concerning
some course of conduct. "I tell you what, George, you've got to wake up," he
said sharply. "Will Henderson has  spoken to me  three times concerning  the
matter. He says you go  along for hours not hearing  when  you are spoken to
and  acting  like  a  gawky  girl.  What  ails  you?"  Tom  Willard  laughed
good-naturedly. "Well, I guess you'll  get  over it," he  said. "I told Will
that. You're not a fool and you're not a woman. You're Tom Willard's son and
you'll wake up. I'm not  afraid. What you  say clears things  up. If being a
newspaper man had put the  notion of becoming a writer into your mind that's
all right. Only I guess you'll have to wake up to do that too, eh?"
     Tom Willard went briskly along  the hallway and down a flight of stairs
to the office. The woman in the darkness could hear him laughing and talking
with  a guest  who was striving to wear away  a  dull evening by dozing in a
chair by the office door. She returned  to the  door of  her son's room. The
weakness had passed from her body as  by  a miracle  and she  stepped boldly
along. A  thousand ideas raced through her head. When she heard the scraping
of a chair and the  sound of a pen  scratching upon paper, she again  turned
and went back along the hallway to her own room.
     A definite determination had come into the mind of the defeated wife of
the Winesburg hotel keeper.  The determination was the result of long  years
of  quiet and rather ineffectual thinking. "Now," she told herself, "I  will
act. There is something threatening my boy and I will ward it off." The fact
that the conversation between Tom Willard and his son had been rather  quiet
and  natural, as though an understanding existed between them, maddened her.
Although  for years she had hated her husband,  her hatred had always before
been a quite impersonal thing. He had been merely  a part of  something else
that she  hated. Now, and by the  few words at the door,  he had  become the
thing  personified. In the darkness of her  own room she clenched  her fists
and glared about. Going  to a cloth bag that  hung on a nail by the wall she
took out a  long pair  of sewing scissors  and held them in her  hand like a
dagger. "I will stab him," she said aloud. "He has chosen to be the voice of
evil and I will kill him. When I have killed him something will snap  within
myself and I will die also. It will be a release for all of us."
     In her girlhood and before her marriage with Tom Willard, Elizabeth had
borne a somewhat shaky reputation in Winesburg. For  years she had been what
is called "stage-struck" and had paraded through the streets  with traveling
men  guests  at her father's hotel,  wearing loud clothes and urging them to
tell her of life in the cities out of which they had come. Once she startled
the town by putting on men's clothes and riding a bicycle down Main Street.
     In  her own  mind  the tall  dark  girl  had  been in  those  days much
confused.  A great restlessness  was  in her and it expressed  itself in two
ways.  First there was an uneasy desire for  change, for  some big  definite
movement to  her life. It  was this  feeling that had turned her mind to the
stage. She  dreamed of  joining some  company and  wandering over the world,
seeing always new faces and giving something out of  herself  to all people.
Sometimes  at night she was quite  beside herself with the thought, but when
she tried to talk of the  matter to  the members of the theatrical companies
that came to Winesburg and stopped at her father's  hotel, she  got nowhere.
They did not seem to know what she meant, or if she did get something of her
passion expressed, they only laughed. "It's not like that," they said. "It's
as dull and uninteresting as this here. Nothing comes of it."
     With the  traveling men when she walked about with them, and later with
Tom  Willard, it was quite different.  Always they seemed to understand  and
sympathize with  her. On  the side streets of the village, in  the  darkness
under the trees, they took hold  of her hand and she thought that  something
unexpressed in  herself  came  forth  and became  a part  of  an unexpressed
something in them.
     And then there was the second expression of her restlessness. When that
came she felt for a time released and happy.  She did not blame the men  who
walked  with her  and later she did not blame Tom Willard. It was always the
same, beginning with  kisses and ending, after  strange wild  emotions, with
peace and then sobbing repentance. When she sobbed she put her hand upon the
face of the man  and had always the same  thought. Even though he were large
and bearded she thought  he had become suddenly a little boy.  She  wondered
why he did not sob also.
     In  her  room, tucked  away  in  a  corner of  the  old  Willard House,
Elizabeth Willard lighted a lamp and put it on  a dressing  table that stood
by the door.  A thought had come into her  mind and she went to a closet and
brought out a small square box and set it on the  table. The  box  contained
material for  makeup and  had been  left  with other things  by a theatrical
company that  had once  been stranded  in  Winesburg.  Elizabeth Willard had
decided that she would be beautiful. Her hair was  still black and there was
a great mass of it braided and coiled about her head. The scene  that was to
take place in  the office  below  began to  grow  in her  mind.  No  ghostly
worn-out figure should confront Tom Willard,  but something quite unexpected
and  startling. Tall and with dusky cheeks and hair that fell in a mass from
her shoulders, a figure should  come  striding down  the stairway before the
startled loungers in the hotel office. The figure would be silent--it  would
be swift  and terrible. As a tigress whose cub had been threatened would she
appear, coming out of the  shadows, stealing  noiselessly along  and holding
the long wicked scissors in her hand.
     With a little broken sob in her throat, Elizabeth Willard  blew out the
light  that  stood  upon  the  table  and stood weak  and  trembling in  the
darkness. The strength that had been as a miracle  in her body left  and she
half  reeled across  the floor, clutching at the back of the  chair in which
she had spent so many long days staring out over the tin roofs into the main
street  of  Winesburg. In the hallway  there was the sound of  footsteps and
George Willard came in at the door. Sitting in a chair  beside his mother he
began to talk. "I'm going  to get out of here," he said. "I don't know where
I shall go or what I shall do but I am going away."
     The woman in the  chair waited and trembled. An impulse came to her. "I
suppose you had better wake up," she said.  "You think that? You will go  to
the city and make money,  eh? It will be better for you, you think,  to be a
business man, to be brisk and smart and alive?" She waited and trembled.
     The son shook his head. "I suppose I can't make you understand, but oh,
I wish I could," he said earnestly. "I can't even talk to father about it. I
don't try. There isn't any use. I don't know what I shall do. I just want to
go away and look at people and think."
     Silence fell upon the room where the boy and woman sat together. Again,
as on the other evenings, they were embarrassed. After a time  the boy tried
again  to  talk. "I suppose  it  won't  be for a year or  two but I've  been
thinking  about it," he  said, rising and  going toward the door. "Something
father said makes it sure that I shall have to go away." He fumbled with the
doorknob. In the room the silence became unbearable to the woman. She wanted
to cry out with joy  because of the words that had come from the lips of her
son, but the expression of joy had become impossible  to  her. "I think  you
had better go out among the boys.  You are  too much  indoors," she said. "I
thought I would go  for a little walk," replied  the son  stepping awkwardly
out of the room and closing the door.

     DOCTOR  PARCIVAL was a large  man with a drooping  mouth covered  by  a
yellow mustache. He  always  wore a dirty white waistcoat out of the pockets
of which  protruded a number of the  kind of black cigars known  as stogies.
His teeth were black and irregular and there was something strange about his
eyes. The lid of the left eye twitched; it fell down and snapped  up; it was
exactly as though the lid  of the eye were a window shade and  someone stood
inside the doctor's head playing with the cord.
     Doctor Parcival had a liking for the boy, George Willard. It began when
George  had  been  working  for  a  year  on  the  Winesburg  Eagle  and the
acquaintanceship was entirely a matter of the doctor's own making.
     In the late  afternoon Will Henderson, owner  and editor  of the Eagle,
went over  to Tom Willy's saloon. Along an alleyway he  went and slipping in
at the  back door of the saloon began drinking a drink made of a combination
of sloe gin and  soda water. Will Henderson was a sensualist and had reached
the  age of forty-five.  He imagined the gin renewed  the youth in him. Like
most sensualists he enjoyed talking of women,  and  for  an hour he lingered
about   gossiping   with  Tom  Willy.  The  saloon   keeper  was  a   short,
broad-shouldered man  with peculiarly  marked  hands. That  flaming kind  of
birthmark that sometimes  paints  with red the faces  of men  and women  had
touched with red Tom Willy's fingers and the backs of his hands. As he stood
by  the bar talking to Will Henderson he  rubbed  the hands together. As  he
grew more and more excited the red of his fingers deepened. It was as though
the hands had been dipped in blood that had dried and faded.
     As Will Henderson stood at the bar looking at the red hands and talking
of women, his assistant, George  Willard, sat in the office of the Winesburg
Eagle and listened to the talk of Doctor Parcival.
     Doctor   Parcival  appeared  immediately  after  Will   Henderson   had
disappeared. One might have supposed  that the doctor had been watching from
his office window and had seen the  editor going  along the alleyway. Coming
in  at the front door and finding  himself a  chair, he lighted  one  of the
stogies  and  crossing  his  legs  began to  talk.  He  seemed  intent  upon
convincing the boy of the advisability of adopting a line of conduct that he
was himself unable to define.
     "If  you have your eyes open you will see that although I call myself a
doctor I have mighty few patients," he  began. "There is  a reason for that.
It  is not  an accident and  it is  not  because  I do  not  know as much of
medicine as anyone here. I do not want  patients. The  reason, you see, does
not appear  on the surface.  It lies in fact in my character, which has,  if
you think about  it,  many strange turns. Why I  want to talk to  you of the
matter I don't know. I might keep still and get more credit in your  eyes. I
have a desire to make you admire me, that's a fact. I don't know why. That's
why I talk. It's very amusing, eh?"
     Sometimes the doctor launched  into long tales  concerning  himself. To
the boy the tales were very real and full of meaning. He began to admire the
fat unclean-looking man and, in the afternoon  when Will Henderson had gone,
looked forward with keen interest to the doctor's coming.
     Doctor Parcival  had been in Winesburg  about five years.  He came from
Chicago  and when  he arrived was drunk and  got  into a fight  with  Albert
Longworth, the  baggageman. The  fight concerned  a  trunk  and ended by the
doctor's  being  escorted  to the village  lockup.  When he  was released he
rented  a room above  a  shoe-repairing shop at the lower end of Main Street
and put out the sign that announced himself as a doctor. Although he had but
few patients and these of the poorer sort who were unable to pay,  he seemed
to  have  plenty of money  for his needs.  He slept  in the  office that was
unspeakably dirty  and dined  at  Biff  Carter's lunch room in a small frame
building  opposite  the railroad station. In  the summer the lunch  room was
filled  with flies and Biff  Carter's white  apron was  more dirty  than his
floor.  Doctor Parcival  did not mind.  Into  the lunch room he  stalked and
deposited  twenty cents upon the counter. "Feed me  what you wish for that,"
he said laughing. "Use up food that you wouldn't otherwise sell. It makes no
difference  to me. I am a man of distinction, you see. Why should I  concern
myself with what I eat."
     The tales that  Doctor Parcival told George Willard  began  nowhere and
ended nowhere. Sometimes the boy thought they must all be inventions, a pack
of lies.  And  then again he was  convinced  that  they  contained the  very
essence of truth.
     "I was a reporter like  you here," Doctor Parcival began.  "It was in a
town in Iowa--or was it in Illinois? I don't remember and anyway it makes no
difference. Perhaps I am trying to conceal my identity and don't  want to be
very definite.  Have you ever thought  it  strange  that I have money for my
needs although I do nothing?  I may have stolen a great sum of money or been
involved in a murder before I came here. There is food  for thought in that,
eh? If you were a really smart newspaper reporter you  would look me  up. In
Chicago there was a Doctor Cronin who was murdered.  Have you heard of that?
Some  men  murdered him and  put him in a trunk. In the  early  morning they
hauled the trunk across the city. It sat on the back of an express wagon and
they  were on the seat as unconcerned  as anything.  Along they went through
quiet streets where everyone was asleep. The sun was just coming up over the
lake. Funny, eh--just to  think of them smoking pipes and chattering as they
drove along as unconcerned as I am now. Perhaps I was one of those men. That
would  be a  strange  turn of  things,  now wouldn't it,  eh?"  Again Doctor
Parcival began  his tale:  "Well, anyway  there I was, a reporter on a paper
just as  you are here,  running about and getting little items  to print. My
mother  was  poor. She  took  in  washing.  Her  dream  was  to  make  me  a
Presbyterian minister and I was studying with that end in view.
     "My father had been insane  for a number of years. He was  in an asylum
over at Dayton, Ohio. There you see I have let it slip out! All of this took
place in Ohio, right here in  Ohio.  There  is  a  clew if you ever get  the
notion of looking me up.
     "I was going to tell you of my brother.  That's the object of all this.
That's what I'm  getting at. My brother was a railroad painter and had a job
on the Big Four. You  know that road  runs through Ohio here. With other men
he lived  in  a  box car and away they went from town to  town painting  the
railroad property-switches, crossing gates, bridges, and stations.
     "The Big Four paints  its  stations  a nasty orange color. How I  hated
that  color! My brother was always covered with it. On  pay days  he used to
get  drunk and come home wearing his  paint-covered clothes and bringing his
money with him. He did  not give it to mother but laid it  in a pile on  our
kitchen table.
     "About the house  he went in the clothes  covered with the nasty orange
colored paint. I can see the picture. My mother, who was small and  had red,
sad-looking eyes, would come into the house from a little  shed at the back.
That's where she  spent her  time over  the washtub scrubbing people's dirty
clothes. In she would come and stand by the table, rubbing her eyes with her
apron that was covered with soap-suds.
     "'Don't touch it! Don't you dare  touch that money,' my brother roared,
and then he  himself  took five or ten dollars and went tramping  off to the
saloons. When he had spent what he had taken he came back for more. He never
gave my mother any money at all but stayed about until he had spent it  all,
a little at a time. Then he went back to  his job with  the painting crew on
the  railroad.  After  he had  gone  things began  to  arrive at  our house,
groceries and such things. Sometimes there would  be a dress for mother or a
pair of shoes for me.
     "Strange, eh? My mother loved my brother  much  more than  she  did me,
although he never said a kind word  to either of us and always raved  up and
down threatening us if  we dared so much as touch  the  money that sometimes
lay on the table three days.
     "We got along pretty well. I studied to be a minister and prayed. I was
a regular ass about saying prayers. You should have heard me. When my father
died I prayed all night, just as I did sometimes when my brother was in town
drinking  and  going  about buying the things  for us. In  the evening after
supper I knelt by the table where the money lay  and  prayed for hours. When
no one was looking I stole a dollar  or two and put it  in  my  pocket. That
makes me laugh now but then it was terrible. It was on my mind all the time.
I  got  six dollars  a week  from my  job on  the  paper and always  took it
straight home to mother. The  few dollars  I stole from my  brother's pile I
spent on  myself, you  know,  for  trifles,  candy  and  cigarettes and such
     "When my father died at the asylum over at Dayton, I went over there. I
borrowed some money  from the man for whom I worked and went on the train at
night. It was  raining. In the  asylum they treated  me as  though I were  a
     "The men who had jobs in the  asylum had found out I  was  a  newspaper
reporter.  That made  them  afraid.  There  had  been some negligence,  some
carelessness,  you see, when father was  ill. They  thought perhaps I  would
write it up in the paper and make a fuss. I never intended to do anything of
the kind.
     "Anyway, in I went to the room where my father lay dead and blessed the
dead body. I wonder what put that notion into my  head. Wouldn't my brother,
the  painter, have  laughed,  though.  There I stood over the dead body  and
spread  out my  hands.  The  superintendent of the asylum  and some  of  his
helpers came in and  stood about looking sheepish.  It was  very  amusing. I
spread out my hands and  said, 'Let peace brood  over  this carcass.' That's
what I said. "
     Jumping to his feet and breaking off the tale, Doctor Parcival began to
walk up and  down in the office of  the Winesburg Eagle where George Willard
sat listening. He was  awkward  and, as  the office was  small,  continually
knocked against things. "What a fool I am  to be talking," he said. "That is
not  my object in  coming here  and forcing my  acquaintanceship upon you. I
have  something else in mind. You are a reporter just as I was once and  you
have attracted my attention. You may end by becoming just such another fool.
I want to warn you and keep on warning you. That's why I seek you out."
     Doctor Parcival began talking of George Willard's attitude  toward men.
It  seemed  to the  boy  that  the  man had but one object  in view, to make
everyone seem  despicable. "I want to  fill  you with hatred and contempt so
that you will be a superior being," he declared. "Look at  my brother. There
was a fellow, eh? He despised everyone, you see.  You have no idea with what
contempt he looked upon mother and me. And was he not our superior? You know
he was. You  have  not seen him and  yet  I  have made you feel that. I have
given you a sense of  it. He is dead. Once when  he was drunk he lay down on
the tracks and  the car in which he  lived  with the other painters ran over
     One day  in August Doctor Parcival had an adventure in Winesburg. For a
month George  Willard  had been going each  morning to spend  an hour in the
doctor's office.  The visits  came about through a desire on the part of the
doctor to read to the boy from the pages of a  book he was in the process of
writing.  To write  the book Doctor  Parcival declared was the object of his
coming to Winesburg to live.
     On the morning in August before the coming of the boy,  an incident had
happened in the doctor's office. There had been an  accident on Main Street.
A team  of horses had  been frightened by a train and had run away. A little
girl, the daughter of a farmer, had been thrown from a buggy and killed.
     On  Main Street everyone had become  excited  and a cry for doctors had
gone up. All three of the active practitioners of the town had  come quickly
but  had found the child dead. From the  crowd someone had run to the office
of Doctor  Parcival who  had bluntly refused to go down out of his office to
the  dead child.  The useless  cruelty of his refusal had  passed unnoticed.
Indeed, the  man who had come up the stairway to summon him had hurried away
without hearing the refusal.
     All of this, Doctor Parcival  did not know and when George Willard came
to his office he found the man shaking with terror. "What I  have  done will
arouse the people of this town," he declared excitedly. "Do I not know human
nature? Do I not know what will happen? Word of my refusal will be whispered
about. Presently men will  get together in groups and talk of it.  They will
come here. We will quarrel and there will be talk of hanging. Then they will
come again bearing a rope in their hands."
     Doctor Parcival shook with fright. "I have a presentiment," he declared
emphatically. "It  may be that what I am talking  about will  not occur this
morning. It may be put off until tonight but I will be hanged. Everyone will
get excited. I will be hanged to a lamp-post on Main Street."
     Going to the door of his dirty  office,  Doctor Parcival looked timidly
down  the stairway leading to the street.  When he returned  the fright that
had been in his eyes was beginning to be replaced by doubt. Coming on tiptoe
across  the room he tapped  George  Willard  on  the shoulder. "If  not now,
sometime," he  whispered, shaking his head. "In the end I will be crucified,
uselessly crucified."
     Doctor  Parcival  began to plead with  George  Willard. "You  must  pay
attention to me," he urged. "If something  happens  perhaps you will be able
to write the book that I may never  get written. The idea is very simple, so
simple  that if  you are not  careful you  will forget it. It is  this--that
everyone in the world  is Christ and  they are  all crucified. That's what I
want to  say. Don't you forget that. Whatever happens,  don't  you  dare let
yourself forget."

     LOOKING CAUTIOUSLY  ABOUT,  George Willard  arose from his  desk in the
office of the Winesburg  Eagle and went  hurriedly out at the back door. The
night  was warm and  cloudy and although it  was not yet eight o'clock,  the
alleyway back of the Eagle office was pitch dark. A team of horses tied to a
post somewhere in the darkness stamped on the hardbaked ground. A cat sprang
from under George Willard's feet and ran away into the night. The  young man
was nervous. All day he had gone about his work like one dazed by a blow. In
the alleyway he trembled as though with fright.
     In  the  darkness  George  Willard walked  along  the  alleyway,  going
carefully and cautiously. The back doors  of the Winesburg  stores were open
and he  could  see  men sitting  about under the  store lamps. In Myerbaum's
Notion Store Mrs. Willy the saloon keeper's wife stood by the counter with a
basket on her arm. Sid  Green the  clerk was waiting on  her. He leaned over
the counter and talked earnestly.
     George Willard  crouched and then jumped through the path of light that
came  out  at the door. He began to  run  forward in the darkness. Behind Ed
Griffith's saloon old Jerry Bird the town drunkard lay asleep on the ground.
The runner stumbled over the sprawling legs. He laughed brokenly.
     George  Willard had set forth  upon an adventure. All day he  had  been
trying to make up his  mind to go through with the adventure  and now he was
acting. In the  office of the Winesburg Eagle he had  been sitting since six
o'clock trying to think.
     There had been no  decision. He had just jumped to  his  feet,  hurried
past Will  Henderson who  was reading proof in the printshop  and started to
run along the alleyway.
     Through  street after  street went George  Willard, avoiding the people
who passed. He crossed and recrossed the road. When he  passed a street lamp
he  pulled  his hat down over his face. He did  not dare think. In  his mind
there was a fear but it was a new kind of fear. He was afraid  the adventure
on which he had  set out  would be  spoiled,  that he would lose courage and
turn back.
     George Willard  found  Louise Trunnion in  the  kitchen of her father's
house. She was  washing dishes  by  the light  of a kerosene lamp. There she
stood behind  the  screen door in the little shedlike kitchen at the back of
the house. George Willard stopped by a picket fence and tried to control the
shaking  of  his body.  Only  a narrow potato  patch separated  him from the
adventure. Five minutes passed before he felt sure enough of himself to call
to her. "Louise! Oh, Louise!" he called. The  cry stuck  in  his throat. His
voice became a hoarse whisper.
     Louise Trunnion came out across the potato patch holding the dish cloth
in her hand. "How do  you know I want to go out with you," she said sulkily.
"What makes you so sure?"
     George Willard did not answer. In silence the two stood in the darkness
with the fence between them. "You go on  along,"  she said. "Pa's in  there.
I'll come along. You wait by Williams' barn."
     The  young  newspaper  reporter  had  received  a  letter  from  Louise
Trunnion. It had come that morning to the office of the Winesburg Eagle. The
letter  was  brief.  "I'm  yours  if you want me," it  said.  He thought  it
annoying that in the darkness  by  the  fence she had  pretended  there  was
nothing between  them.  "She has a nerve!  Well,  gracious sakes,  she has a
nerve,"  he muttered as he went along the street and passed a row of  vacant
lots where corn grew. The corn was shoulder high and had been  planted right
down to the sidewalk.
     When Louise Trunnion came out  of the front door of her house she still
wore the gingham dress in  which  she had been washing dishes. There was  no
hat on  her head.  The  boy could see her standing with  the doorknob in her
hand talking  to someone within,  no doubt to old Jake Trunnion, her father.
Old Jake was half deaf and she shouted. The door closed  and everything  was
dark and  silent  in  the  little side street. George Willard trembled  more
violently than ever.
     In the shadows by Williams' barn George and Louise stood, not daring to
talk. She was  not particularly comely and there was a  black smudge on  the
side of  her nose.  George thought she  must have  rubbed her  nose with her
finger after she had been handling some of the kitchen pots.
     The young man began to laugh nervously. "It's warm," he said. He wanted
to touch her with his hand. "I'm not  very bold," he thought. Just to  touch
the folds  of the soiled gingham  dress would, he  decided,  be an exquisite
pleasure. She began  to  quibble. "You  think you're better than I am. Don't
tell me, I guess I know," she said drawing closer to him.
     A flood of words burst from George Willard. He remembered the look that
had lurked in the girl's eyes when they had  met on the  streets and thought
of the note she had written. Doubt left him. The whispered  tales concerning
her that had gone about town gave him confidence. He became wholly the male,
bold and aggressive. In  his heart there was no  sympathy for her. "Ah, come
on,  it'll  be all right. There won't  be anyone know anything. How can they
know?" he urged.
     They began to walk along a narrow brick sidewalk between the  cracks of
which tall weeds grew. Some of the bricks  were missing and the sidewalk was
rough  and  irregular.  He took  hold  of her hand that  was also rough  and
thought it delightfully small. "I can't go far," she  said and her voice was
quiet, unperturbed.
     They  crossed a bridge that  ran over a tiny  stream and passed another
vacant lot in which corn grew. The street ended. In the path at  the side of
the road  they were  compelled to walk one behind the other.  Will Overton's
berry field  lay beside  the road and  there was a pile of boards. "Will  is
going to build a shed to store berry  crates here," said George and they sat
down upon the boards.
     When George Willard got back into Main  Street it  was past ten o'clock
and had begun to rain. Three times he walked up and down the  length of Main
Street. Sylvester West's Drug Store was still open and he went in and bought
a cigar. When Shorty Crandall the clerk came out at the door with him he was
pleased. For five  minutes the two stood in the shelter  of the store awning
and talked. George Willard felt satisfied. He had wanted  more than anything
else  to talk to some man.  Around a corner toward the New Willard  House he
went whistling softly.
     On the sidewalk at the side of Winney's Dry Goods Store where there was
a high board fence covered  with circus pictures, he  stopped whistling  and
stood perfectly still in the darkness, attentive, listening  as though for a
voice  calling his name. Then  again he  laughed  nervously. "She hasn't got
anything on me. Nobody knows," he muttered doggedly and went on his way.

     A Tale in Four Parts
     THERE  WERE ALWAYS three or four old people  sitting on the front porch
of the house or puttering about the garden of the Bentley farm. Three of the
old  people were women  and sisters to Jesse. They were  a  colorless,  soft
voiced  lot. Then  there was a  silent old man with thin white hair who  was
Jesse's uncle.
     The farmhouse was built of wood, a board outercovering over a framework
of logs. It was  in reality not one  house but a  cluster  of houses  joined
together  in  a  rather haphazard  manner.  Inside, the  place was  full  of
surprises. One went  up steps  from the living room into the dining room and
there were always steps to be ascended or descended in passing from one room
to another. At  meal  times the place was like a beehive.  At one moment all
was  quiet, then doors began to open, feet clattered  on stairs, a murmur of
soft voices arose and people appeared from a dozen obscure corners.
     Besides the  old people,  already mentioned, many others  lived in  the
Bentley house. There were  four hired men,  a woman named Aunt Callie Beebe,
who  was  in charge  of  the housekeeping,  a  dull-witted girl  named Eliza
Stoughton,  who  made beds and  helped with the milking, a boy who worked in
the stables, and Jesse Bentley himself, the owner and overlord of it all.
     By the time the American Civil War had been over for twenty years, that
part of Northern Ohio where the  Bentley farms lay had begun to emerge  from
pioneer life. Jesse then owned machinery  for harvesting grain. He had built
modern  barns and most  of his land  was  drained  with  carefully laid tile
drain, but in order to understand the man we  will have to  go  back  to  an
earlier day.
     The Bentley family had  been  in Northern Ohio  for several generations
before Jesse's time. They came from New York State and took up land when the
country was new and land could be had  at a low price. For a long time they,
in common with all the other Middle Western people, were very poor. The land
they had settled  upon was  heavily wooded  and covered with fallen logs and
underbrush. After the long hard labor of clearing these away and cutting the
timber,  there were still the stumps to be reckoned  with. Plows run through
the fields  caught on hidden roots, stones lay  all about, on the low places
water gathered, and the young corn turned yellow, sickened and died.
     When Jesse Bentley's father and brothers  had come into their ownership
of the place, much of the harder part of the work of clearing had been done,
but they clung to old traditions and worked like driven animals.  They lived
as  practically all of  the farming people of the time lived. In the  spring
and  through most  of  the winter  the  highways  leading  into  the town of
Winesburg were a sea  of mud. The four  young men of the family  worked hard
all day in the fields, they ate heavily of coarse, greasy food, and at night
slept like tired beasts on beds of straw. Into  their lives came little that
was not coarse  and  brutal  and  outwardly they  were themselves coarse and
brutal.  On  Saturday  afternoons  they  hitched  a  team  of  horses  to  a
three-seated wagon and went off to town. In town they stood about the stoves
in the stores talking to other  farmers or to  the  store keepers. They were
dressed in  overalls and in  the winter  wore heavy coats  that were flecked
with mud. Their hands as  they stretched them out  to the heat of the stoves
were cracked and red. It was  difficult for them to talk and so they for the
most  part  kept  silent. When they had bought meat, flour, sugar, and salt,
they  went into one  of the Winesburg saloons  and  drank  beer.  Under  the
influence of drink  the  naturally  strong  lusts  of  their  natures,  kept
suppressed by  the heroic labor of breaking up new ground, were released.  A
kind of crude and animallike poetic fervor  took  possession of them. On the
road  home  they stood  up on  the wagon  seats  and shouted  at  the stars.
Sometimes they fought long and bitterly and at other times they broke  forth
into  songs. Once  Enoch  Bentley,  the  older one of  the boys,  struck his
father, old Tom Bentley, with the butt of a teamster's whip, and the old man
seemed likely to die. For days Enoch lay hid in the straw in the loft of the
stable ready to flee if the result of his momentary passion turned out to be
murder. He was kept alive with food brought by his mother, who also kept him
informed of the injured man's condition. When all turned out well he emerged
from his hiding place and went back to the work of  clearing land  as though
nothing had happened.
     The Civil War brought a sharp turn to the  fortunes of the Bentleys and
was responsible  for the rise  of the  youngest  son, Jesse. Enoch,  Edward,
Harry, and Will Bentley all enlisted and before the long war ended they were
all  killed. For a time after  they went away to the South, old Tom tried to
run the place, but he was not successful. When the last of the four had been
killed he sent word to Jesse that he would have to come home.
     Then  the mother,  who had not been well for a year, died suddenly, and
the father  became altogether discouraged. He talked of selling the farm and
moving into  town. All day he went about shaking his head and muttering. The
work in the  fields was neglected and weeds  grew high in the  corn. Old Tim
hired men but he did not use them intelligently. When  they had gone away to
the fields in the morning he wandered into the woods and  sat down on a log.
Sometimes he forgot to come home at night and one of the daughters had to go
in search of him.
     When  Jesse Bentley came home  to the farm and began  to take charge of
things he was a slight, sensitive-looking man  of twenty-two. At eighteen he
had left home to go to school to become a scholar and eventually to become a
minister of the Presbyterian Church. All  through  his boyhood he  had  been
what  in our country was called an  "odd sheep" and  had not got on with his
brothers. Of all the family  only his mother had  understood him and she was
now dead. When he came  home to take charge  of the farm, that  had  at that
time grown to more than six hundred acres, everyone  on  the farms about and
in  the nearby town of  Winesburg smiled at the idea of his trying to handle
the work that had been done by his four strong brothers.
     There was indeed good cause to smile. By the standards of his day Jesse
did  not look like a man at all. He was  small and very slender and womanish
of body and, true  to the  traditions  of young ministers, wore a long black
coat and a narrow black string tie. The neighbors were amused  when they saw
him, after the years away, and they were even more amused when  they saw the
woman he had married in the city.
     As  a matter of fact, Jesse's wife did soon  go under. That was perhaps
Jesse's fault. A farm in Northern Ohio in the hard years after the Civil War
was no place for a delicate woman, and Katherine Bentley was delicate. Jesse
was  hard with  her as he was  with everybody about him  in those days.  She
tried to do such work as all the neighbor women about her did and he let her
go on without interference. She helped to do the milking and did part of the
housework; she made the beds for the men and prepared their food. For a year
she worked every day from sunrise  until late at night and then after giving
birth to a child she died.
     As for Jesse Bentley--although he was a delicately built man  there was
something  within him  that  could  not easily be killed. He had brown curly
hair and grey eyes that were at times hard and direct, at times wavering and
uncertain. Not  only was he slender but  he was also  short of  stature. His
mouth was like  the mouth  of a sensitive and very  determined child.  Jesse
Bentley was a fanatic. He was  a man born out of his time and place and  for
this he  suffered  and  made others suffer. Never did he succeed in  getting
what he wanted out of fife and he did not know what he wanted. Within a very
short time after he came home to the Bentley farm  he  made everyone there a
little afraid of him, and his wife, who should have been close to him as his
mother had been, was afraid also. At the  end of two weeks after his coming,
old Tom  Bentley made over to  him the  entire ownership  of the  place  and
retired into the background.  Everyone retired into the background. In spite
of his youth and inexperience, Jesse had the trick of mastering the souls of
his people. He was so in earnest in everything he did  and said that  no one
understood him. He made  everyone on the farm  work as they had never worked
before and  yet there was no joy in the work. If things went well they  went
well  for Jesse and  never  for the people who  were his dependents.  Like a
thousand other strong men  who have come into the  world here  in America in
these later times, Jesse was but half strong. He could  master others but he
could not master himself. The running  of the farm as it had never  been run
before was easy for him. When he came home  from Cleveland where he had been
in school,  he shut  himself off from all of his people  and  began to  make
plans. He thought about the farm night and day and that made him successful.
Other men  on  the farms  about him worked  too  hard and were too fired  to
think, but to think of the farm and to be everlastingly making plans for its
success  was  a  relief  to  Jesse. It partially satisfied  something in his
passionate nature. Immediately after he came home he had a wing built on  to
the old house and in a large room facing the west he had windows that looked
into the barnyard  and other windows that  looked off across  the fields. By
the window he sat  down  to think.  Hour after hour and day after day he sat
and looked  over the  land  and  thought  out  his new  place  in  life. The
passionate burning thing in his nature  flamed up and his eyes  became hard.
He wanted to make the farm produce as no farm in his state had ever produced
before and  then  he wanted something else.  It  was the  indefinable hunger
within that made  his eyes  waver and  that kept  him  always  more and more
silent  before people. He would have given much to achieve peace and  in him
was a fear that peace was the thing he could not achieve.
     All over his body Jesse  Bentley  was  alive.  In  his  small frame was
gathered the  force  of a  long  line  of  strong men.  He  had always  been
extraordinarily alive when he was a small boy on the farm  and later when he
was a young man  in school. In the school  he had studied and thought of God
and the Bible with  his whole mind and heart. As time passed and he grew  to
know people better,  he began to  think of  himself as an extraordinary man,
one set  apart from his fellows. He wanted terribly to make his life a thing
of great importance, and as he looked about at his  fellow men  and saw  how
like clods they lived it seemed to him that he could not bear to become also
such a clod. Although in his absorption in himself and in his own destiny he
was blind to the fact that his young wife  was  doing a strong woman's  work
even after she had become large with child and that she  was killing herself
in his service, he did not  intend to be unkind to her. When his father, who
was old and twisted  with toil, made over to him the  ownership of  the farm
and seemed content to creep away to a corner and wait for death, he shrugged
his shoulders and dismissed the old man from his mind.
     In the room by  the window overlooking the  land  that had come down to
him sat Jesse thinking of his own affairs.  In the stables he could hear the
tramping of his horses and the restless movement  of his cattle. Away in the
fields  he could see other cattle wandering over green  hills. The voices of
men, his men who worked for him, came in to him through the window. From the
milkhouse there was the steady  thump, thump of a churn being manipulated by
the half-witted  girl, Eliza Stoughton. Jesse's mind went back to the men of
Old Testament days who had also owned lands and herds. He remembered how God
had come down out of the skies and talked to  these men and he wanted God to
notice and  to talk to him also.  A kind of  feverish boyish eagerness to in
some  way achieve in his own life the flavor of  significance that  had hung
over these men took possession of him. Being a prayerful man he spoke of the
matter aloud to God and the sound of his  own words strengthened and fed his
     "I  am  a new kind of man  come  into possession  of  these fields," he
declared. "Look upon me, O God, and look Thou also upon my neighbors and all
the men who have gone  before me here! O  God, create in me  another  Jesse,
like that one of  old, to rule  over men and  to be  the father of sons  who
shall  be rulers!" Jesse grew excited as he talked aloud and  jumping to his
feet walked up and down in  the room. In fancy  he saw himself living in old
times and among old  peoples.  The  land  that lay stretched out  before him
became of vast significance, a place peopled by his fancy with a new race of
men sprung from himself. It seemed to him that in  his day as in those other
and  older  days, kingdoms might be created  and  new impulses given to  the
lives  of men  by  the power of  God  speaking  through a chosen servant. He
longed to  be such a servant. "It  is God's work  I have come to the land to
do,"  he declared in a loud voice  and his  short figure straightened and he
thought that something like a halo of Godly approval hung over him.
     It will perhaps be somewhat difficult for the men  and women of a later
day  to understand Jesse Bentley. In the last  fifty years a vast change has
taken  place in the  lives of  our  people. A revolution has  in fact  taken
place. The coming  of industrialism, attended by all the  roar and rattle of
affairs, the shrill cries of millions of new  voices that have come among us
from overseas, the going  and  coming of  trains, the growth  of cities, the
building of the interurban car lines that weave in and out of towns and past
farmhouses, and  now  in these later days the coming of  the automobiles has
worked a tremendous change in the lives and in  the habits of thought of our
people of  Mid-America. Books, badly imagined and written though they may be
in  the hurry  of our  times, are in every household, magazines circulate by
the millions of  copies,  newspapers  are  everywhere.  In our day  a farmer
standing  by the stove in the  store in his village  has  his mind filled to
overflowing with the words of other men. The  newspapers and  the  magazines
have pumped him full. Much of the old brutal ignorance that had in it also a
kind of  beautiful childlike  innocence is  gone forever.  The farmer by the
stove is brother to the men of  the cities, and if you listen you  will find
him talking as glibly and as senselessly as the best city man of us all.
     In Jesse Bentley's  time  and  in the  country  districts of  the whole
Middle West in  the years after the Civil War it was not so. Men labored too
hard and were too  tired  to read. In them  was no desire for words  printed
upon paper. As  they worked in  the fields, vague, half-formed thoughts took
possession of them. They believed in God and in God's power to control their
lives. In the little Protestant  churches they gathered on Sunday to hear of
God  and  his  works.  The churches  were  the  center  of  the  social  and
intellectual  life of the times. The figure  of God was big in the hearts of
     And so, having been  born an imaginative child and having within him  a
great intellectual eagerness, Jesse Bentley had turned wholeheartedly toward
God. When the war took his brothers  away, he saw  the hand  of God in that.
When his father became ill and could no  longer attend to the running of the
farm, he took that also  as a sign from God. In the city, when the word came
to him, he walked about at  night through the streets thinking of the matter
and when he had come home and had got  the work on the  farm well under way,
he went again at night  to walk through  the forests and  over the low hills
and to think of God.
     As he walked the importance of his own figure in  some divine plan grew
in his  mind.  He grew avaricious and was impatient  that the farm contained
only  six  hundred acres.  Kneeling  in  a fence corner at the edge  of some
meadow, he sent his voice abroad into the silence  and looking up he saw the
stars shining down at him.
     One evening, some months  after his father's death, and when  his  wife
Katherine  was expecting at any moment to be laid abed of  childbirth, Jesse
left his house and went for a long  walk. The Bentley farm was situated in a
tiny valley  watered by Wine Creek, and Jesse walked along the banks of  the
stream to the end  of  his  own  land  and  on through  the  fields  of  his
neighbors.  As he walked the valley broadened and then narrowed again. Great
open  stretches  of field  and wood lay before him. The moon  came  out from
behind clouds, and, climbing a low hill, he sat down to think.
     Jesse  thought  that as the true  servant of God the  entire stretch of
country through which he had walked should have come into his possession. He
thought of his dead brothers and blamed them that they had not worked harder
and achieved more. Before him in the moonlight the tiny stream ran down over
stones, and he began to think of the men  of old times who like himself  had
owned flocks and lands.
     A fantastic impulse, half  fear, half  greediness,  took possession  of
Jesse  Bentley.  He remembered  how  in the  old  Bible story the  Lord  had
appeared  to  that other Jesse and told him to send his son  David  to where
Saul and the men  of  Israel were  fighting the Philistines in the Valley of
Elah. Into Jesse's mind came the conviction that all of the Ohio farmers who
owned land in the valley of Wine Creek were Philistines and enemies  of God.
"Suppose," he  whispered to himself, "there should come from among  them one
who, like Goliath the Philistine of Gath,  could defeat me and take  from me
my possessions." In fancy he  felt the sickening  dread that he thought must
have lain heavy on the  heart of Saul before the coming of David. Jumping to
his feet, he began to run through the night. As he ran he called to God. His
voice carried far over the low hills. "Jehovah of Hosts," he cried, "send to
me this night out of the womb of Katherine, a son. Let Thy grace alight upon
me. Send me a son to be called David who shall  help me to pluck at last all
of these lands out  of the hands of the Philistines and  turn  them  to  Thy
service and to the building of Thy kingdom on earth."

     DAVID HARDY OF Winesburg, Ohio, was the  grandson of Jesse Bentley, the
owner of Bentley  farms. When he was  twelve years  old he  went to the  old
Bentley place  to live. His mother, Louise Bentley, the  girl who came  into
the world on that night when Jesse ran through the fields crying to God that
he be given a son, had grown to  womanhood on the farm and had married young
John Hardy of Winesburg, who became a banker. Louise and her husband did not
live happily  together and everyone agreed that she was to blame.  She was a
small woman with sharp grey eyes and black hair. From childhood she had been
inclined to  fits  of  temper and  when  not  angry she was often morose and
silent.  In  Winesburg it  was said that she drank. Her husband, the banker,
who  was a careful,  shrewd man, tried hard to make her happy. When he began
to  make money he  bought  for her  a large  brick  house on  Elm  Street in
Winesburg  and  he was the first man in that  town to keep a  manservant  to
drive his wife's carriage.
     But Louise could not be made happy.  She flew into  half insane fits of
temper  during  which   she  was  sometimes  silent,  sometimes  noisy   and
quarrelsome.  She swore and cried out in her anger. She got a knife from the
kitchen and threatened her husband's life. Once she deliberately set fire to
the house, and often she hid herself away for days in her own room and would
see  no one. Her life, lived as  a half recluse, gave rise to all  sorts  of
stories  concerning her.  It was  said that she took drugs and that  she hid
herself  away from people because she was often  so  under the  influence of
drink  that  her  condition  could  not be  concealed.  Sometimes on  summer
afternoons she  came out of the  house and got into her carriage. Dismissing
the driver  she took the reins in her own hands and drove  off at  top speed
through the streets. If a pedestrian got in her way she drove straight ahead
and the frightened citizen  had to escape as best he could. To the people of
the  town  it seemed  as though she wanted  to run  them down. When she  had
driven  through  several streets,  tearing  around  corners and beating  the
horses with the whip, she  drove off into  the country. On the country roads
after she had gotten out of sight of the houses she let the horses slow down
to  a walk  and her  wild,  reckless mood passed. She  became thoughtful and
muttered words. Sometimes  tears came into her  eyes. And then when she came
back into  town she again drove furiously through the quiet streets. But for
the influence of  her husband and  the respect he inspired in people's minds
she would have been arrested more than once by the town marshal.
     Young David Hardy grew up in the house with this  woman and as can well
be imagined there  was not much  joy in his childhood. He was too young then
to have opinions of his own about people, but at times  it was difficult for
him not to have  very definite opinions  about the woman who was his mother.
David was always a quiet, orderly boy and for a long time was thought by the
people of Winesburg to be something of a dullard. His eyes were brown and as
a child he had a habit  of looking at things and people  a long time without
appearing  to see what he was looking at. When he heard his mother spoken of
harshly or when he overheard her berating his  father, he was frightened and
ran  away  to  hide.  Sometimes he could  not find a  hiding place and  that
confused him. Turning his face toward a tree or if he was indoors toward the
wall, he closed his eyes and tried not to think of anything.  He had a habit
of talking aloud  to himself, and early in life a  spirit of  quiet  sadness
often took possession of him.
     On the  occasions  when David  went to  visit  his  grandfather  on the
Bentley farm, he was altogether contented and happy. Often he wished that he
would never have to go back  to town and once when he had come home from the
farm after a long visit, something happened that had a lasting effect on his
     David had come back into town with one of the hired men. The man was in
a hurry to  go about his  own affairs and  left the boy at  the head  of the
street in which  the Hardy house stood. It  was early dusk of a fall evening
and  the sky was overcast with clouds. Something happened to David. He could
not bear to go into the house where  his mother and father lived, and  on an
impulse he decided to run away from home. He intended to go back to the farm
and  to his grandfather, but lost his way and for hours he wandered  weeping
and frightened on country roads. It started to rain and lightning flashed in
the sky. The boy's  imagination was excited and he fancied that he could see
and hear  strange things in the  darkness. Into his mind came the conviction
that he was walking and  running in some terrible void where no one had ever
been before. The  darkness about him seemed limitless. The sound of the wind
blowing in trees was terrifying. When a team  of horses approached along the
road in which he  walked he was  frightened and  climbed  a fence. Through a
field he ran until he came into another road and getting upon his knees felt
of the soft ground with his fingers.  But for the figure of his grandfather,
whom he was afraid he would never find in the darkness, he thought the world
must be  altogether empty. When his cries  were heard  by a  farmer  who was
walking home from town and he was brought back to his father's house, he was
so tired and excited that he did not know what was happening to him.
     By chance David's father knew that he had disappeared. On the street he
had met the farm hand from the Bentley place and knew of his son's return to
town. When the boy did not come home an alarm was set up and John Hardy with
several men of  the town went to search  the country. The report  that David
had been kidnapped ran about through the  streets of Winesburg. When he came
home there were no lights in the house, but his mother appeared and clutched
him  eagerly in her  arms. David  thought she  had  suddenly  become another
woman. He could not  believe that  so delightful a thing had  happened. With
her own hands Louise  Hardy bathed his tired young body and cooked him food.
She would not let him go to bed but, when he had put on his  nightgown, blew
out the lights and sat down in a chair to hold him in her arms.  For an hour
the woman  sat in  the darkness and held  her  boy. All  the  time  she kept
talking in a low voice. David could not understand  what had so changed her.
Her habitually dissatisfied  face had become, he thought, the most  peaceful
and  lovely thing he had ever seen. When he began to weep she held  him more
and more  tightly. On and on  went her voice. It was  not harsh or shrill as
when  she talked  to  her husband,  but  was  like  rain  falling on  trees.
Presently men began coming to the door to report that he had not been found,
but she made him hide and be silent until she had sent them away. He thought
it must be a game his mother and the men  of the  town were playing with him
and laughed joyously. Into  his mind came the thought  that his having  been
lost and frightened in the darkness was an altogether unimportant matter. He
thought  that  he  would have  been  willing  to  go through  the  frightful
experience a thousand  times to be sure  of  finding at the  end of the long
black road a thing so lovely as his mother had suddenly become.
     During the  last years of young  David's  boyhood he saw his mother but
seldom and she  became for  him  just a woman with whom he  had once  lived.
Still he could not get  her  figure out  of his mind and as he grew older it
became more  definite. When he  was twelve  years old he went to the Bentley
farm to live. Old Jesse came into town  and fairly demanded that he be given
charge of the boy. The old man was excited  and determined on having his own
way. He talked to John Hardy in the office of the Winesburg Savings Bank and
then the  two men went to the house  on Elm Street to talk with Louise. They
both expected her to make trouble  but were mistaken. She was very quiet and
when Jesse  had explained his  mission and had gone on at  some length about
the advantages to come through having the boy out of doors and  in the quiet
atmosphere of the old farmhouse, she nodded her head  in approval. "It is an
atmosphere not corrupted by  my  presence," she said sharply. Her  shoulders
shook and she seemed about to fly into a fit of temper. "It is a place for a
man  child, although  it  was never a place for me," she went on. "You never
wanted me  there and of course the air of your house did me no  good. It was
like poison in my blood but it will be different with him."
     Louise turned and went out of the room, leaving the two  men  to sit in
embarrassed silence. As very often happened she later stayed in her room for
days. Even when the boy's clothes were packed  and he was taken away she did
not  appear. The loss of  her  son made a  sharp break  in her  life and she
seemed less inclined to quarrel with her husband. John Hardy thought it  had
all turned out very well indeed.
     And  so young David went to  live  in the Bentley farmhouse with Jesse.
Two  of  the  old farmer's sisters were alive and still  lived in the house.
They were afraid of  Jesse  and rarely spoke when  he was about. One  of the
women who had been noted for her flaming red hair when she was younger was a
born mother and became the boy's caretaker. Every night when he had  gone to
bed she went into his  room and sat  on the floor until he fell asleep. When
he became drowsy she became bold and  whispered things that he later thought
he must have dreamed.
     Her soft low voice called him endearing names and he dreamed  that  his
mother had  come to  him and that she had  changed so that she was always as
she had been that time after he ran away. He also grew bold and reaching out
his  hand stroked  the  face of  the  woman  on  the  floor so that she  was
ecstatically happy.  Everyone in the old  house became  happy after the  boy
went  there. The  hard insistent thing in  Jesse Bentley that  had  kept the
people  in  the  house silent and timid and that had never been dispelled by
the presence of the girl Louise was apparently swept  away by the coming  of
the boy. It was as though God had relented and sent a son to the man.
     The man who had proclaimed himself the only true servant of God in  all
the valley of  Wine Creek,  and  who had  wanted  God to send him  a sign of
approval by  way of a son out of the womb of Katherine,  began to think that
at  last his prayers  had been  answered. Although  he was at that time only
fiftyfive years  old he looked seventy  and was worn out  with much thinking
and  scheming.  The effort he had made to  extend his land holdings had been
successful  and  there  were few farms in the valley that  did not belong to
him, but until David came he was a bitterly disappointed man.
     There were two influences at work in Jesse Bentley and all his life his
mind had been  a battleground  for these influences. First there was the old
thing  in him. He wanted to be a  man of God and a  leader among men of God.
His walking in the fields and through  the forests at night  had brought him
close to nature and there were forces in the passionately religious man that
ran out to  the  forces  in nature. The disappointment that had come  to him
when a daughter and not a son had been born to Katherine had fallen upon him
like a blow struck by some  unseen hand  and the blow had  somewhat softened
his egotism.  He  still believed that God might at any moment  make  himself
manifest out of the winds or the  clouds, but  he  no  longer demanded  such
recognition. Instead  he prayed for it. Sometimes he was altogether doubtful
and thought God had deserted  the world. He  regretted the fate that had not
let  him live  in a simpler and sweeter time  when  at the beckoning of some
strange cloud in the sky men left their lands and houses and went forth into
the wilderness  to  create new races. While he worked night and day  to make
his farms  more productive and to extend his holdings of land,  he regretted
that he  could not  use his own  restless energy in the building of temples,
the slaying of unbelievers and  in general in the  work of  glorifying God's
name on earth.
     That is what Jesse hungered for and then also he hungered for something
else. He had grown into maturity in America in the years after the Civil War
and  he,  like all men of his time, had been touched by the  deep influences
that were at work in the country during those years when modem industrialism
was being born.  He  began to  buy machines that would permit  him to do the
work of the farms while employing fewer men and he sometimes thought that if
he were  a  younger  man he  would  give  up  farming altogether and start a
factory in Winesburg for the making of machinery.  Jesse formed the habit of
reading  newspapers and  magazines. He invented a machine  for the making of
fence out of  wire. Faintly he realized that the atmosphere of old times and
places that he had always cultivated in his own mind was strange and foreign
to  the  thing that was growing up  in the minds of others. The beginning of
the most materialistic age  in the history of the world, when  wars would be
fought without patriotism, when men would forget God and only  pay attention
to  moral standards, when the will to power would replace  the will to serve
and  beauty  would  be well-nigh forgotten in the  terrible headlong rush of
mankind  toward the acquiring of possessions, was telling its story to Jesse
the man  of God as  it was to  the men about him.  The greedy  thing in  him
wanted to make money faster than it could be made  by tilling the land. More
than once  he went into  Winesburg to talk  with  his son-in-law  John Hardy
about it. "You are a banker and you will have chances I  never had," he said
and his eyes shone. "I  am thinking about it  all  the time.  Big things are
going to be done in the country and there will be more money to be made than
I  ever dreamed of. You  get into  it. I  wish I  were younger  and had your
chance." Jesse Bentley walked  up  and down in the bank office and grew more
and more  excited  as he talked.  At one  time  in  his  life  he  had  been
threatened  with paralysis and his  left side remained somewhat weakened. As
he talked his left eyelid twitched. Later  when  he drove back home and when
night  came  on and  the stars came  out  it  was harder to get back the old
feeling of a  close and  personal God who lived  in the sky overhead and who
might at  any moment  reach out his hand, touch  him  on  the shoulder,  and
appoint for him some heroic task to be done. Jesse's mind was fixed upon the
things  read in newspapers and magazines,  on  fortunes to  be  made  almost
without effort by shrewd men who bought and sold. For him the  coming of the
boy David did much to bring back with  renewed  force the  old faith and  it
seemed to him that God had at last looked with favor upon him.
     As for the boy on the farm,  life began to reveal  itself  to him  in a
thousand  new and  delightful ways. The  kindly attitude  of  all about  him
expanded his quiet  nature and he lost  the half timid, hesitating manner he
had always had with  his people. At night when he went  to bed after a  long
day of adventures in the stables, in the  fields, or driving about from farm
to farm with his grandfather, he wanted to embrace everyone in the house. If
Sherley Bentley, the woman who came  each night to  sit on the floor by  his
bedside, did not  appear at  once,  he  went  to  the head of the stairs and
shouted, his young voice ringing through the narrow halls where for so  long
there had been a tradition of silence. In the morning when he  awoke and lay
still in bed, the sounds that came in to  him through the windows filled him
with  delight.  He  thought  with  a shudder  of  the  life in the house  in
Winesburg and of his mother's  angry voice that had always made him tremble.
There in the country all sounds were pleasant sounds. When  he awoke at dawn
the  barnyard  back of the house  also awoke. In  the  house  people stirred
about. Eliza Stoughton the half-witted girl was poked in  the ribs by a farm
hand  and  giggled  noisily, in some  distant  field  a cow bawled  and  was
answered by the cattle  in  the stables,  and one of  the farm  hands  spoke
sharply to the horse he was grooming by the stable door. David leaped out of
bed and ran to a window. All of the people stirring about excited  his mind,
and he wondered what his mother was doing in the house in town.
     From  the  windows  of his own room he could  not see directly into the
barnyard  where the  farm hands  had  now  all assembled to  do the  morning
shores,  but he could hear the voices of  the men and  the  neighing  of the
horses.  When one of the  men laughed, he laughed also.  Leaning out  at the
open window, he looked into an orchard where a fat sow wandered about with a
litter of tiny pigs at her heels. Every morning  he counted the pigs. "Four,
five, six, seven," he said slowly, wetting his finger and making straight up
and down marks on the  window ledge.  David ran to put  on  his trousers and
shirt. A feverish desire to get out of doors took  possession of him.  Every
morning  he  made such  a  noise  coming down stairs that  Aunt Callie,  the
housekeeper, declared he was trying to tear the  house down. When he had run
through  the  long  old house, shutting the doors behind him with a bang, he
came into the barnyard and looked about with an amazed air of expectancy. It
seemed  to him that in such a place tremendous  things might  have  happened
during  the night.  The farm hands looked at him and laughed. Henry Strader,
an old man who had been on the farm since Jesse came into possession and who
before David's time had never been known to make  a joke, made the same joke
every morning.  It amused David so that he  laughed  and  clapped his hands.
"See, come here and  look,"  cried the old  man. "Grandfather Jesse's  white
mare has tom the black stocking she wears on her foot."
     Day after day through the long summer, Jesse Bentley drove from farm to
farm  up and  down the valley of Wine Creek, and his grandson went with him.
They rode in a comfortable old phaeton drawn by the white horse. The old man
scratched his thin  white  beard  and talked  to  himself  of his  plans for
increasing the productiveness of  the  fields they visited and of God's part
in the plans all men made. Sometimes he looked  at David  and smiled happily
and then for a long time he appeared to forget the boy's existence. More and
more every day now his mind turned back again  to the dreams that had filled
his mind  when he had  first come out of the  city to live on the land.  One
afternoon he startled David by letting his dreams take entire  possession of
him. With the boy as a witness, he went through a ceremony and brought about
an accident that nearly  destroyed  the  companionship that was  growing  up
between them.
     Jesse and his grandson  were  driving in  a distant part of  the valley
some miles from home. A forest came down to the road and through the  forest
Wine  Creek  wriggled  its way over stones  toward a distant river.  All the
afternoon Jesse had been in a  meditative mood and now he began to talk. His
mind went  back to the night  when he had  been  frightened by thoughts of a
giant that  might  come to rob and plunder him of his possessions, and again
as on that night when he  had  run through the fields crying for  a  son, he
became excited to the edge of insanity. Stopping the horse he got out of the
buggy and  asked  David  to get out also. The two climbed over  a fence  and
walked along  the  bank  of the  stream. The boy paid  no attention  to  the
muttering of his grandfather, but ran along beside him and wondered what was
going to happen.  When a rabbit jumped up and ran away through the woods, he
clapped his hands and  danced with delight.  He looked at the tall trees and
was sorry  that he was not a little animal to climb high in the air  without
being frightened. Stooping, he picked up a small stone and threw it over the
head of his grandfather into a clump of  bushes. "Wake up, little animal. Go
and climb to the top of the trees," he shouted in a shrill voice.
     Jesse Bentley  went along under the trees with his head bowed  and with
his mind  in  a  ferment.  His earnestness affected  the boy,  who presently
became silent  and a little alarmed.  Into  the  old man's mind had come the
notion that  now he could bring from God  a word or a sign out  of  the sky,
that the presence  of the boy and man on their knees  in some lonely spot in
the forest would make the miracle he had been waiting for almost inevitable.
"It was in just such a place as this that other David tended the sheep  when
his father came and told him to go down unto Saul," he muttered.
     Taking the boy rather roughly by the shoulder, he climbed over a fallen
log  and when he had come to an  open place among the  trees he dropped upon
his knees and began to pray in a loud voice.
     A  kind of terror he had  never known before  took possession of David.
Crouching beneath a tree he watched the man on the ground before him and his
own knees began to tremble. It seemed to him that he was in the presence not
only of  his grandfather but of someone else,  someone  who might  hurt him,
someone who  was not kindly but  dangerous and  brutal. He began  to cry and
reaching down picked up a small stick,  which he held tightly gripped in his
fingers. When Jesse Bentley, absorbed in  his  own idea, suddenly arose  and
advanced  toward him, his  terror grew  until  his whole body shook. In  the
woods an intense silence seemed to lie  over everything and suddenly out  of
the silence came the old man's harsh and insistent voice. Gripping the boy's
shoulders, Jesse turned his face to the sky and shouted. The whole left side
of his face twitched and his hand on the boy's shoulder twitched also. "Make
a sign to me, God," he cried. "Here I stand with the boy David. Come down to
me out of the sky and make Thy presence known to me."
     With  a cry  of fear, David turned  and, shaking himself loose from the
hands that  held  him,  ran away through the forest. He did not believe that
the man who turned up his face and in a harsh  voice  shouted at the sky was
his grandfather  at all.  The  man  did  not look like his grandfather.  The
conviction that  something strange and  terrible had  happened, that by some
miracle a new and dangerous  person had come into the body of the kindly old
man, took possession of him.  On and on he ran down the hillside, sobbing as
he  ran. When he fell over the roots of  a  tree and  in falling  struck his
head, he arose and tried to run on again. His head hurt so that presently he
fell down and lay still, but it was only after Jesse had carried him to  the
buggy and he  awoke to find the  old man's  hand  stroking his head tenderly
that the terror left him. "Take me away. There is a  terrible man back there
in the woods," he  declared firmly, while Jesse looked away over the tops of
the trees and again his  lips cried out to God. "What have I done that  Thou
dost not approve of me," he whispered softly, saying the words over and over
as he drove rapidly along the road with the boy's cut and bleeding head held
tenderly against his shoulder.
     THE STORY  OF Louise Bentley, who became Mrs. John Hardy and lived with
her husband  in a  brick house on  Elm Street  in Winesburg, is a  story  of
     Before  such women  as Louise  can be  understood and their lives  made
livable, much will have to be done. Thoughtful books will have to be written
and thoughtful lives lived by people about them.
     Born of a delicate  and  overworked  mother,  and  an  impulsive, hard,
imaginative  father, who did not look  with favor upon her  coming into  the
world,  Louise  was  from  childhood  a  neurotic,  one  of   the  race   of
over-sensitive women that in later  days  industrialism was to bring in such
great numbers into the world.
     During her  early years she lived on the  Bentley farm, a silent, moody
child, wanting love more than anything else in the world and not getting it.
When she was fifteen she went to live in Winesburg with the family of Albert
Hardy,  who had a  store for the sale  of buggies and wagons, and who was  a
member of the town board of education.
     Louise went into town to be a  student in the Winesburg High School and
she  went  to  live at the Hardys'  because Albert Hardy and her father were
     Hardy, the vehicle merchant of  Winesburg, like thousands of  other men
of his times, was an enthusiast on the subject of education. He had made his
own way in the world without learning  got from books,  but he was convinced
that had he but  known books  things  would  have gone better with  him.  To
everyone who came into his shop  he  talked of  the  matter, and  in his own
household he drove  his  family distracted  by his constant  harping  on the
     He  had two  daughters and one son, John Hardy, and more than once  the
daughters threatened  to leave  school altogether. As  a matter of principle
they  did just enough  work in their classes to  avoid punishment.  "I  hate
books and I hate anyone who  likes books," Harriet,  the  younger of the two
girls, declared passionately.
     In Winesburg as on the  farm Louise  was not happy. For  years she  had
dreamed of  the time  when she could go forth into the world, and she looked
upon the move into the Hardy household as  a great step in the direction  of
freedom. Always when  she  had thought  of the matter, it had seemed to  her
that in town all must be gaiety and life, that there men and women must live
happily  and freely, giving and taking friendship and affection as one takes
the feel  of a wind on the cheek. After the silence and the cheerlessness of
life in the  Bentley house, she dreamed of stepping forth into an atmosphere
that  was  warm  and  pulsating  with life  and  reality. And  in  the Hardy
household Louise  might have got something  of the thing  for which  she  so
hungered but for a mistake she made when she had just come to town.
     Louise won the disfavor of  the  two Hardy girls, Mary and  Harriet, by
her application  to her  studies in school. She  did not  come to the  house
until the day when school was to begin and knew nothing of the feeling  they
had in  the  matter.  She was  timid  and  during  the first  month  made no
acquaintances. Every Friday afternoon one of  the hired  men  from  the farm
drove into Winesburg and took her home for the week-end, so that she did not
spend the Saturday holiday with the town people. Because she was embarrassed
and lonely  she  worked constantly at  her  studies. To Mary and Harriet, it
seemed as though she  tried to make trouble for them by her proficiency.  In
her eagerness to appear well  Louise wanted  to answer every question put to
the class by the teacher. She jumped up and down and her eyes flashed.  Then
when she had answered some question the  others in the class had been unable
to answer, she  smiled happily.  "See,  I have  done it  for  you," her eyes
seemed to  say. "You need not bother  about the matter. I  will  answer  all
questions. For the whole class it will be easy while I am here."
     In the evening after  supper in the Hardy  house, Albert Hardy began to
praise Louise.  One  of the teachers  had  spoken highly  of her and he  was
delighted.  "Well, again I have heard of it," he  began, looking hard at his
daughters and then turning to smile at Louise. "Another  of the teachers has
told me of  the good  work Louise is doing. Everyone in Winesburg is telling
me how  smart  she is.  I  am  ashamed that they do not  speak so of  my own
girls." Arising, the merchant marched about the room and lighted his evening
     The  two  girls looked at  each other  and shook  their  heads wearily.
Seeing  their indifference  the  father became  angry.  "I tell  you  it  is
something  for you  two  to be  thinking about," he cried, glaring  at them.
"There is  a big change coming here  in America and in learning is  the only
hope of the coming generations. Louise is the daughter of a rich man but she
is not ashamed to study. It should make you ashamed to see what she does."
     The  merchant took  his hat  from  a  rack by the door and prepared  to
depart for the evening.  At the door he  stopped and  glared back. So fierce
was his  manner that Louise was frightened and ran upstairs to her own room.
The  daughters began to speak of  their  own affairs. "Pay attention to me,"
roared the merchant. "Your minds are lazy. Your indifference to education is
affecting  your  characters.  You  will amount  to nothing. Now mark  what I
say--Louise will be so far ahead of you that you will never catch up."
     The distracted man  went out  of the house and into the street  shaking
with wrath. He went along muttering words and swearing, but when he got into
Main Street his anger passed. He stopped to talk of the weather or the crops
with some other merchant or with a farmer who had come into town and  forgot
his  daughters  altogether or,  if he thought of  them,  only  shrugged  his
shoulders. "Oh, well, girls will be girls," he muttered philosophically.
     In the house when Louise  came down into the room  where the two  girls
sat, they would have nothing to do with her. One evening after she had  been
there for  more than six weeks and was heartbroken because of  the continued
air of  coldness  with which she was  always greeted,  she burst into tears.
"Shut up your crying  and go back to your own room and to your  books," Mary
Hardy said sharply.
     x x x
     The room occupied by Louise was on the second floor of the Hardy house,
and her window looked out upon an orchard. There was a stove in the room and
every evening young John Hardy carried up an armful of wood and put  it in a
box  that stood by the wall. During the second  month after she  came to the
house, Louise  gave up all  hope of getting on  a friendly footing with  the
Hardy girls and went to her own room  as soon as the evening meal was at  an
     Her mind began to play with thoughts of making friends with John Hardy.
When he came into  the room  with the wood in  his arms, she pretended to be
busy with her studies but  watched him eagerly.  When he had put the wood in
the box and  turned to go out,  she put down her head and blushed. She tried
to make talk but could say nothing, and after  he had gone she  was angry at
herself for her stupidity.
     The  mind of the country girl  became filled with the  idea of  drawing
close to the young man.  She thought that in him might be found  the quality
she had all her  life been  seeking in people. It seemed to her that between
herself and all the other people in the world,  a wall had been built up and
that she was  living just on the edge of some warm inner circle of life that
must  be  quite  open and understandable to others. She became obsessed with
the  thought that it wanted but a courageous act  on her part to make all of
her  association  with people something quite different,  and  that  it  was
possible by such an act to pass into a new life as one opens a door and goes
into a room. Day and night she thought of the matter, but although the thing
she wanted so earnestly was something very warm and close it had as  yet  no
conscious connection with sex. It had not become that definite, and her mind
had only alighted upon the person of John Hardy  because  he was at hand and
unlike his sisters had not been unfriendly to her.
     The Hardy sisters,  Mary and Harriet, were both older than Louise. In a
certain kind of knowledge of the world they were years older.  They lived as
all of the young women  of  Middle Western towns lived.  In those days young
women did not go out of our towns to Eastern colleges and ideas in regard to
social classes had  hardly begun  to exist. A  daughter of a  laborer was in
much the same  social  position as a daughter of a farmer or a merchant, and
there were no leisure classes. A girl was "nice" or she was "not nice." If a
nice  girl, she had a young  man who came to her house to see her  on Sunday
and on Wednesday evenings. Sometimes she went with her young  man to a dance
or a  church social. At other times  she received  him at the house  and was
given the use of the parlor for  that purpose. No one intruded upon her. For
hours the two sat behind closed doors. Sometimes the  lights were turned low
and  the  young  man   and  woman  embraced.  Cheeks  became  hot  and  hair
disarranged. After a year or two, if the impulse  within  them became strong
and insistent enough, they married.
     One  evening  during  her first  winter  in  Winesburg, Louise  had  an
adventure that  gave a new impulse to her desire to break down the wall that
she  thought  stood  between  her  and  John  Hardy.  It  was Wednesday  and
immediately after the evening meal  Albert  Hardy  put on  his hat and  went
away.  Young  John brought the wood and put it in the box  in Louise's room.
"You do  work hard, don't you?" he said awkwardly, and then before she could
answer he also went away.
     Louise heard him  go out of the house and had a mad desire to run after
him. Opening her window she leaned out and called softly, "John, dear  John,
come back, don't go away." The night was cloudy and  she  could not see  far
into  the darkness, but as  she waited  she  fancied she could  hear  a soft
little  noise as of  someone going  on  tiptoes through  the  trees  in  the
orchard.  She was frightened and closed the window quickly. For an hour  she
moved about the room trembling with excitement and when she could not longer
bear the waiting,  she  crept  into  the  hall  and down  the  stairs into a
closet-like room that opened off the parlor.
     Louise had decided  that she would perform  the courageous act that had
for weeks  been in her mind. She was convinced that John Hardy had concealed
himself in the orchard beneath her window and she was determined to find him
and tell him  that she wanted  him  to come close to her, to hold her in his
arms, to  tell  her of his thoughts  and dreams and to listen while she told
him her thoughts and  dreams.  "In  the darkness it will  be easier  to  say
things,"  she whispered to herself,  as she stood in the little room groping
for the door.
     And then suddenly Louise realized  that she was not alone in the house.
In  the parlor  on the other side of the door a man's voice spoke softly and
the door opened. Louise just had time to conceal herself in a little opening
beneath the  stairway when  Mary Hardy,  accompanied  by her young man, came
into the little dark room.
     For  an hour  Louise  sat on the  floor in the darkness  and  listened.
Without words Mary  Hardy, with the aid of the man who had come to spend the
evening with her, brought to the country girl a  knowledge of men and women.
Putting  her  head  down until she  was  curled  into a  little ball she lay
perfectly still. It seemed to her  that by some strange impulse of the gods,
a great gift had been brought to Mary Hardy and she could not understand the
older woman's determined protest.
     The young man took Mary Hardy  into his arms  and  kissed her. When she
struggled and  laughed, he but  held her the more  tightly. For an  hour the
contest between  them  went on and  then they went back  into the parlor and
Louise escaped up the stairs. "I hope you were quiet out there. You must not
disturb the  little mouse  at  her studies," she heard Harriet saying to her
sister as she stood by her own door in the hallway above.
     Louise wrote a note to  John Hardy and late that night, when all in the
house were asleep,  she crept downstairs and  slipped it under his door. She
was afraid that if she did not do the thing at  once her courage would fail.
In the note she  tried to be quite  definite about what she wanted. "I  want
someone to love me and I want to  love someone," she  wrote. "If you are the
one for me I want you  to come into the orchard  at  night and make  a noise
under my window. It will be easy for me to crawl down over the shed and come
to  you. I am thinking about it all  the time,  so if you are to come at all
you must come soon."
     For a  long time  Louise did not know  what would be the outcome of her
bold attempt to secure for herself a lover. In a way she  still did not know
whether or not she wanted him to come. Sometimes it seemed to her that to be
held tightly and kissed was the whole secret of life, and then a new impulse
came and she was terribly afraid. The age-old woman's desire to be possessed
had  taken possession of her, but so vague was  her notion of life  that  it
seemed  to  her just the touch of John Hardy's  hand upon her own hand would
satisfy.  She  wondered  if he would understand that. At the  table next day
while Albert Hardy talked and the two girls  whispered and  laughed, she did
not look at  John but at the  table and as soon as  possible escaped. In the
evening she  went out of the house until she was sure  he had taken the wood
to her room and gone away. When after several evenings  of intense listening
she  heard no  call from the darkness  in the  orchard, she was  half beside
herself  with grief  and  decided that  for  her there was no way  to  break
through the wall that had shut her off from the joy of life.
     And  then on a Monday evening  two or three weeks after  the writing of
the  note, John  Hardy  came for  her. Louise had  so entirely given  up the
thought of his  coming  that  for a long time she did not hear the call that
came up  from the orchard. On  the Friday evening before,  as she was  being
driven back to the farm for the week-end by one of the hired men, she had on
an  impulse done a thing that had startled her, and as  John  Hardy stood in
the darkness below and called her name softly  and  insistently,  she walked
about in her room  and wondered what  new impulse had led  her  to commit so
ridiculous an act.
     The farm hand, a young fellow  with black curly hair, had come  for her
somewhat late on that Friday  evening and they drove home  in the  darkness.
Louise, whose  mind was filled  with thoughts of John  Hardy, tried  to make
talk but the country boy was embarrassed and  would  say nothing.  Her  mind
began to review the loneliness  of her childhood  and she  remembered with a
pang the sharp new loneliness that  had just come to her. "I hate everyone,"
she cried suddenly, and  then  broke forth into a tirade that frightened her
escort. "I hate father and the old man Hardy, too," she declared vehemently.
"I get my lessons there in the school in town but I hate that also."
     Louise frightened the farm  hand  still more by turning and putting her
cheek  down upon his shoulder. Vaguely she hoped that he like that young man
who  had stood in the darkness with Mary  would put his  arms about  her and
kiss her, but the country boy was only alarmed. He struck the horse with the
whip and began to whistle.  "The road  is rough, eh?" he said loudly. Louise
was so angry that reaching  up she snatched his hat  from his head and threw
it into the road. When he jumped out of  the buggy and went to  get it,  she
drove off and left him to walk the rest of the way back to the farm.
     Louise  Bentley took John Hardy to be her lover. That was not  what she
wanted but it was so  the young man had interpreted her approach to him, and
so  anxious was she to achieve  something  else that she made no resistance.
When after a few months they were both afraid that she was about to become a
mother, they went one evening to the county seat and were married. For a few
months they lived in the Hardy house and then took a house of their own. All
during the first year Louise  tried to make her husband understand the vague
and intangible hunger that had led to the writing of  the  note and that was
still unsatisfied. Again and again she crept into his arms and tried to talk
of  it,  but  always without success. Filled with his  own notions  of  love
between men  and women, he did not listen  but began  to  kiss  her upon the
lips.  That  confused her so that in  the end she did not want to be kissed.
She did not know what she wanted.
     When  the  alarm  that  had  tricked  them  into marriage proved  to be
groundless, she was angry and said bitter,  hurtful  things. Later when  her
son David was born,  she  could not  nurse him and  did not know whether she
wanted him  or not. Sometimes  she  stayed  in the  room with him  all  day,
walking about and occasionally creeping close to touch him tenderly with her
hands, and then other  days came when she did not want to see or be near the
tiny  bit of  humanity that  had  come  into  the  house.  When  John  Hardy
reproached her for her cruelty, she laughed. "It is a man child and will get
what it wants anyway," she said sharply. "Had it been a woman child there is
nothing in the world I would not have done for it."

     WHEN DAVID HARDY was a tall boy of fifteen, he, like his mother, had an
adventure that changed the whole current of his life and sent him out of his
quiet  corner into the world. The shell of the circumstances of his life was
broken  and  he was compelled  to start forth. He left Winesburg  and no one
there  ever   saw  him  again.  After  his  disappearance,  his  mother  and
grandfather both died and his father  became very rich. He spent much  money
in trying to locate his son, but that is no part of this story.
     It  was in  the  late fall  of an unusual year  on  the  Bentley farms.
Everywhere the crops had been heavy. That spring, Jesse had bought part of a
long strip of black swamp land  that lay in the valley of Wine Creek. He got
the land at a  low price but had spent  a large sum  of money to improve it.
Great ditches had to be dug  and thousands of tile laid. Neighboring farmers
shook their  heads over the  expense.  Some  of  them laughed and hoped that
Jesse would lose heavily  by the venture,  but the old man  went silently on
with the work and said nothing.
     When  the land was drained he  planted it to cabbages and  onions,  and
again  the neighbors laughed. The  crop was,  however, enormous  and brought
high prices. In the one year Jesse made enough money to pay for all the cost
of preparing the land  and had a surplus that enabled  him  to buy  two more
farms. He was exultant and could not conceal his delight. For the first time
in all the history of his ownership of the farms, he went among his men with
a smiling face.
     Jesse  bought  a  great many new machines for cutting down the cost  of
labor  and all  of  the remaining acres  in the strip of black fertile swamp
land. One day he went into Winesburg and bought a bicycle and a  new suit of
clothes for David and he  gave his two sisters  money with which to go  to a
religious convention at Cleveland, Ohio.
     In the fall of  that year  when  the  frost came and the  trees in  the
forests along Wine Creek were golden brown, David spent every moment when he
did  not have to attend school, out in the open. Alone or with other boys he
went every afternoon  into the woods to gather  nuts. The other boys of  the
countryside, most of them sons of  laborers on the  Bentley  farms, had guns
with  which they  went hunting rabbits and squirrels,  but  David did not go
with them. He made himself  a sling with rubber bands and a forked stick and
went off by himself to gather nuts. As he  went about thoughts came to  him.
He realized that he was almost  a man and wondered what he would do in life,
but before  they came  to  anything,  the  thoughts passed and he was a  boy
again. One day he killed a squirrel that sat on one of the lower branches of
a tree and chattered at him. Home he ran  with the squirrel in his hand. One
of the Bentley sisters  cooked the little  animal and he ate  it  with great
gusto. The skin  he tacked on  a board and suspended the  board by  a string
from his bedroom window.
     That gave his mind a new turn. After that  he never went into the woods
without  carrying the sling  in his  pocket and  he spent  hours shooting at
imaginary animals concealed among the brown leaves in the trees. Thoughts of
his coming  manhood  passed  and he was  content to be  a boy  with a  boy's
     One  Saturday morning when he was about to set  off for  the woods with
the sling in his pocket and a bag for nuts on his  shoulder, his grandfather
stopped him. In the eyes  of the  old man was the strained serious look that
always a little frightened David. At such times Jesse Bentley's eyes did not
look straight ahead  but  wavered  and  seemed  to be  looking  at  nothing.
Something  like an  invisible  curtain appeared to have come between the man
and all the rest  of  the world. "I  want  you  to  come with me,"  he  said
briefly, and  his eyes looked over  the boy's  head  into the sky. "We  have
something important to do today. You may bring the bag for nuts if you wish.
It does not matter and anyway we will be going into the woods."
     Jesse and David set out  from the Bentley farmhouse  in the old phaeton
that was drawn by the white horse. When they had gone along in silence for a
long  way they stopped at the edge of  a field where  a flock of sheep  were
grazing. Among the sheep  was a  lamb that had been born out  of season, and
this David  and his  grandfather caught and tied so tightly  that  it looked
like a little white ball. When  they drove on again Jesse let David hold the
lamb in his arms. "I saw it  yesterday and it put me in mind of  what I have
long  wanted to do," he said, and again he looked away over the head of  the
boy with the wavering, uncertain stare in his eyes.
     After the feeling of exaltation that had come to the farmer as a result
of his successful year, another mood had taken possession of him. For a long
time he  had been going  about feeling very  humble  and prayerful. Again he
walked alone at  night  thinking of God and as he walked  he again connected
his own figure with the figures of old days. Under the stars he knelt on the
wet  grass and  raised up his voice in prayer. Now he had decided  that like
the  men  whose  stories  filled the pages of  the Bible,  he  would  make a
sacrifice to God. "I have been  given these abundant crops  and God has also
sent  me  a boy  who is called David," he  whispered to himself.  "Perhaps I
should have done this thing long ago." He was  sorry  the  idea had not come
into  his  mind  in the days  before his daughter Louise had been  born  and
thought that surely now when he had erected a pile of burning sticks in some
lonely place  in  the woods  and  had offered the body  of a lamb as a burnt
offering, God would appear to him and give him a message.
     More and more as he thought of the matter, he thought also of David and
his passionate self-love was partially forgotten. "It is time for the boy to
begin thinking of going out  into the world and  the  message  will  be  one
concerning him," he decided. "God will  make a pathway for him. He will tell
me  what place David is to  take in  life and  when  he shall set out on his
journey. It is right that the  boy should be there. If I am fortunate and an
angel of God should appear, David will see the beauty and glory of  God made
manifest to man. It will make a true man of God of him also."
     In silence Jesse and David drove along the road until they came to that
place where Jesse had once before  appealed to God  and  had frightened  his
grandson.  The  morning had  been bright and  cheerful, but  a cold wind now
began to blow and clouds hid the sun. When David saw the place to which they
had  come  he began to  tremble with fright,  and when  they stopped  by the
bridge where the creek came down from among the trees, he  wanted  to spring
out of the phaeton and run away.
     A dozen plans  for  escape  ran through David's  head, but  when  Jesse
stopped the horse and climbed over the fence into the wood, he followed. "It
is foolish to be  afraid. Nothing will happen," he  told himself as he  went
along with the  lamb in his arms. There was something in the helplessness of
the little animal  held  so  tightly  in his arms that  gave him courage. He
could  feel  the  rapid beating of the  beast's heart and that  made his own
heart beat less rapidly. As he  walked swiftly along behind his grandfather,
he  untied the string  with which  the  four legs of the lamb were  fastened
together. "If anything happens we will run away together," he thought.
     In the woods, after  they had  gone a  long  way from the  road,  Jesse
stopped in an opening among the trees where a clearing, overgrown with small
bushes, ran  up  from the  creek. He was still silent but began  at  once to
erect a heap of dry sticks which  he presently set afire. The boy sat on the
ground  with the  lamb in  his  arms.  His imagination began to invest every
movement of  the old man with significance and he became  every  moment more
afraid.  "I must put the blood  of the lamb on the head  of  the boy," Jesse
muttered  when the sticks  had begun to blaze  greedily,  and taking a  long
knife  from  his  pocket he turned and  walked rapidly across  the  clearing
toward David.
     Terror  seized upon the soul of the  boy.  He was  sick with it. For  a
moment he sat perfectly  still and then  his body stiffened and he sprang to
his  feet. His face  became as white as  the  fleece of the  lamb  that, now
finding itself  suddenly released, ran down the hill. David  ran also.  Fear
made his feet fly. Over the low bushes and logs he leaped frantically. As he
ran  he put  his hand into his  pocket and took out the branched  stick from
which the  sling for shooting squirrels was suspended. When he  came  to the
creek that was shallow and splashed down over the stones, he dashed into the
water and turned to look back, and when he saw his grandfather still running
toward him with the long knife held tightly in his hand he did not hesitate,
but  reaching down, selected a stone and put  it in the  sling. With all his
strength he drew back the  heavy rubber bands and the stone whistled through
the air. It hit Jesse,  who had entirely forgotten the boy and  was pursuing
the  lamb, squarely in  the head.  With a groan he pitched forward  and fell
almost  at the boy's feet. When David saw that he  lay still and that he was
apparently  dead, his fright  increased immeasurably.  It  became  an insane
     With  a  cry  he  turned  and   ran  off  through  the  woods   weeping
convulsively. "I  don't care--I killed him, but I don't care," he sobbed. As
he ran on and  on he decided suddenly that he would never go  back  again to
the Bentley farms or to the town of Winesburg. "I have killed the man of God
and now I will myself be a man and go into the world," he said stoutly as he
stopped running and walked rapidly down a road that followed the windings of
Wine Creek as it ran through fields and forests into the west.
     On  the  ground by the  creek  Jesse  Bentley moved uneasily  about. He
groaned and opened  his  eyes.  For a long time  he  lay perfectly still and
looked at the sky. When at last  he got  to his feet, his  mind was confused
and he was not surprised by the boy's disappearance.  By the roadside he sat
down on a log and  began to talk about God. That is all they ever got out of
him.  Whenever David's name was  mentioned he looked vaguely at  the sky and
said that a messenger from God had taken the boy. "It happened because I was
too  greedy for  glory,"  he declared, and would have no more to say  in the

     HE LIVED WITH his  mother,  a  grey, silent woman with a peculiar  ashy
complexion.  The house  in which they lived stood in a little grove of trees
beyond where the main street of Winesburg crossed  Wine  Creek. His name was
Joe Welling, and his father had been a man of some dignity in the community,
a lawyer, and a member of the state legislature at Columbus. Joe himself was
small of body and in his character unlike anyone else in town. He was like a
tiny little volcano that lies silent for days and then suddenly spouts fire.
No, he wasn't like that-- he  was like a man who is subject to fits, one who
walks among  his fellow men  inspiring fear because a fit  may come upon him
suddenly  and blow him away into a strange uncanny physical state  in  which
his  eyes roll and his legs  and arms  jerk. He was like that, only that the
visitation that descended upon  Joe Welling was a mental and not a  physical
thing. He  was  beset by  ideas and  in the throes of one of his  ideas  was
uncontrollable. Words  rolled and tumbled from  his mouth. A peculiar  smile
came upon his lips.  The  edges of his teeth  that  were  tipped  with  gold
glistened in the light. Pouncing upon a bystander he began to talk.  For the
bystander there was  no escape.  The excited man  breathed  into  his  face,
peered  into  his eyes, pounded  upon his  chest  with a shaking forefinger,
demanded, compelled attention.
     In those  days the Standard  Oil  Company did  not deliver  oil  to the
consumer  in big  wagons and motor  trucks  as it does  now,  but  delivered
instead  to retail  grocers,  hardware  stores,  and  the like.  Joe was the
Standard  Oil  agent  in  Winesburg  and in  several  towns  up and down the
railroad that went through Winesburg. He collected bills, booked orders, and
did other things. His father, the legislator, had secured the job for him.
     In and  out  of  the  stores  of Winesburg  went  Joe  Welling--silent,
excessively  polite, intent upon his business.  Men watched him with eyes in
which lurked amusement tempered by alarm. They were waiting for him to break
forth, preparing to flee.  Although the seizures  that came  upon  him  were
harmless enough, they could not  be laughed  away.  They were  overwhelming.
Astride an idea, Joe was  overmastering. His personality became gigantic. It
overrode the man to whom he talked, swept him  away, swept all away, all who
stood within sound of his voice.
     In Sylvester West's Drug Store stood four men who were talking of horse
racing. Wesley Moyer's stallion, Tony Tip, was  to race at the June  meeting
at  Tiffin,  Ohio, and there  was a rumor that  he  would  meet the stiffest
competition  of  his career.  It was said that Pop  Geers, the  great racing
driver, would  himself be there.  A doubt  of  the success of Tony  Tip hung
heavy in the air of Winesburg.
     Into  the  drug  store  came Joe  Welling,  brushing  the  screen  door
violently aside. With  a  strange absorbed light in his eyes he pounced upon
Ed Thomas, he who knew Pop Geers and whose opinion of Tony Tip's chances was
worth considering.
     "The  water is up in Wine  Creek," cried  Joe Welling with the  air  of
Pheidippides  bringing news of the victory of the Greeks in the struggle  at
Marathon. His finger beat a tattoo upon Ed Thomas's broad chest. "By Trunion
bridge it is within  eleven and  a half inches of the flooring," he went on,
the  words coming quickly and with a little whistling noise from between his
teeth. An expression of helpless annoyance crept over the faces of the four.
     "I  have  my  facts  correct.  Depend upon that.  I  went to  Sinnings'
Hardware Store and got a rule. Then I went back and measured. I could hardly
believe  my own eyes. It hasn't  rained you see  for  ten days. At  first  I
didn't  know what to  think. Thoughts  rushed through  my head. I thought of
subterranean  passages  and  springs.  Down  under the ground went my  mind,
delving about. I  sat on the floor of the bridge and rubbed  my head.  There
wasn't a cloud in the sky, not one. Come out into the street and you'll see.
There wasn't a cloud. There  isn't  a cloud  now. Yes,  there was a cloud. I
don't want to  keep back any facts. There was a cloud  in the west down near
the horizon, a cloud no bigger than a man's hand.
     "Not that I  think that has  anything  to do with  it. There it is, you
see. You understand how puzzled I was.
     "Then  an idea came to me. I laughed. You'll  laugh, too. Of course  it
rained over in Medina  County.  That's interesting, eh? If we had no trains,
no mails, no  telegraph, we would know that it rained over in Medina County.
That's where  Wine Creek  comes from. Everyone  knows that. Little  old Wine
Creek brought us the news. That's interesting. I laughed. I thought I'd tell
you--it's interesting, eh?"
     Joe Welling turned and went out at the  door. Taking  a  book from  his
pocket, he  stopped and  ran a finger  down  one  of the pages. Again he was
absorbed in his duties as agent of the Standard Oil Company. "Hern's Grocery
will be getting low on coal oil. I'll see them," he muttered, hurrying along
the street, and bowing  politely to the right and left at the people walking
     When George  Willard  went to  work  for the  Winesburg  Eagle  he  was
besieged  by Joe Welling. Joe envied the boy. It seemed to  him  that he was
meant by Nature  to  be a  reporter on a newspaper. "It is what  I should be
doing, there  is no doubt of that," he declared, stopping George  Willard on
the sidewalk before  Daugherty's  Feed  Store. His eyes began to glisten and
his forefinger to tremble. "Of course  I make  more money  with the Standard
Oil Company and I'm  only telling you," he added. "I've got nothing  against
you but  I should have  your place. I could do the work at odd moments. Here
and there I would run finding out things you'll never see."
     Becoming more  excited Joe Welling crowded the  young reporter  against
the front of the  feed store. He appeared to be lost in thought, rolling his
eyes about and running a thin  nervous hand through his hair. A smile spread
over his face and his gold teeth glittered. "You get out your note book," he
commanded. "You carry a  little pad of paper in your  pocket,  don't  you? I
knew you did. Well, you set this down. I thought of  it the other day. Let's
take decay. Now what is decay? It's fire. It burns up wood and other things.
You never thought of that? Of course not.  This sidewalk here and  this feed
store, the trees down the street there--they're all on fire. They're burning
up. Decay you see is always going on. It doesn't stop. Water and paint can't
stop it. If a thing is iron, then what? It rusts, you see. That's fire, too.
The world is on fire. Start your pieces  in the paper that  way. Just say in
big letters 'The World Is On Fire.'  That will make 'em look up. They'll say
you're  a smart one. I don't care.  I don't  envy  you. I just snatched that
idea out of the air. I would make a newspaper hum. You got to admit that."'
     Turning  quickly,  Joe Welling walked rapidly away.  When he had  taken
several  steps  he stopped and looked back. "I'm going to stick to  you," he
said.  "I'm going  to make you a regular hummer. I  should start a newspaper
myself, that's what I should do. I'd be a marvel. Everybody knows that."
     When George Willard had  been for a year  on the  Winesburg Eagle, four
things happened to Joe Welling. His mother died, he came to  live at the New
Willard  House, he became involved in a love affair, and  he  organized  the
Winesburg Baseball Club.
     Joe organized the baseball club because  he wanted to be a coach and in
that position he began to win the respect of his townsmen. "He is a wonder,"
they declared after Joe's team had  whipped the team from Medina County. "He
gets everybody working together. You just watch him."
     Upon the baseball field Joe Welling stood by first base, his whole body
quivering  with  excitement. In  spite of themselves all the players watched
him closely. The opposing pitcher became confused.
     "Now! Now! Now! Now!" shouted the  excited  man.  "Watch me!  Watch me!
Watch my fingers! Watch my hands! Watch my feet!  Watch my eyes!  Let's work
together here! Watch  me! In  me you see all the movements of the game! Work
with me! Work with me! Watch me! Watch me! Watch me!"
     With runners of the Winesburg team on  bases, Joe Welling became as one
inspired. Before they knew what had come over  them,  the base runners  were
watching the man, edging off the bases, advancing, retreating, held as by an
invisible cord. The players of the opposing team also watched Joe. They were
fascinated. For a moment they watched  and then, as though to break a  spell
that hung over them, they  began hurling the  ball wildly about,  and amid a
series  of  fierce  animal-like  cries  from the coach, the runners  of  the
Winesburg team scampered home.
     Joe Welling's  love affair set the town of Winesburg on  edge. When  it
began everyone whispered and shook his head. When people tried to laugh, the
laughter was forced and unnatural. Joe fell in love with Sarah King, a lean,
sad-looking woman who  lived with  her father and brother  in a  brick house
that stood opposite the gate leading to the Winesburg Cemetery.
     The  two Kings, Edward the father, and Tom the son, were not popular in
Winesburg. They  were called proud and dangerous. They had come to Winesburg
from some place in the South and ran a cider mill on  the Trunion Pike.  Tom
King was reported to have killed a man before he came  to Winesburg. He  was
twenty-seven years old and  rode  about town on  a  grey pony. Also he had a
long yellow mustache that dropped down over  his teeth, and always carried a
heavy, wicked-looking walking stick in his hand. Once he killed  a dog  with
the stick. The dog belonged to Win  Pawsey, the shoe merchant, and  stood on
the sidewalk wagging  its  tail. Tom  King killed it with one  blow. He  was
arrested and paid a fine of ten dollars.
     Old Edward  King was small of stature and  when he passed people in the
street laughed a  queer  unmirthful  laugh. When he laughed he scratched his
left elbow with his  right  hand. The sleeve  of his  coat was  almost  worn
through from  the habit. As  he walked  along  the street, looking nervously
about and laughing, he seemed more dangerous than his silent, fierce-looking
     When Sarah  King began  walking out in the  evening  with Joe  Welling,
people shook their heads in alarm. She was tall and pale and had dark  rings
under her eyes. The couple looked  ridiculous together. Under the trees they
walked and Joe talked.  His passionate eager  protestations of  love,  heard
coming out of the darkness by the cemetery wall, or from the deep shadows of
the trees on the hill that ran up to the Fair Grounds  from Waterworks Pond,
were repeated  in the  stores. Men stood by the bar in the New Willard House
laughing  and talking of  Joe's  courtship.  After  the  laughter  came  the
silence. The Winesburg baseball team, under his management, was winning game
after game, and  the town had begun to respect him.  Sensing a tragedy, they
waited, laughing nervously.
     Late on a  Saturday afternoon the meeting  between Joe  Welling and the
two Kings, the anticipation of which had set the town on edge, took place in
Joe Welling's room in the New Willard House. George Willard was a witness to
the meeting. It came about in this way:
     When the young reporter  went to his room after the evening meal he saw
Tom King and his father sitting in the half darkness in Joe's  room. The son
had the  heavy walking  stick in  his hand and sat near the door. Old Edward
King walked nervously about, scratching his  left elbow with his right hand.
The hallways were empty and silent.
     George Willard went to his own room and  sat down at his desk. He tried
to write but  his hand trembled so that  he could not hold  the pen. He also
walked nervously up and  down. Like the rest of the town of Winesburg he was
perplexed and knew not what to do.
     It was  seven-thirty and  fast growing dark when Joe Welling came along
the  station platform toward the  New Willard House.  In  his arms he held a
bundle  of  weeds and  grasses.  In spite  of the terror that  made his body
shake,  George Willard  was  amused at the sight  of the  small  spry figure
holding the grasses and half running along the platform.
     Shaking  with fright and  anxiety,  the  young  reporter lurked  in the
hallway outside the door of the room in which Joe Welling talked to the  two
Kings. There had been an  oath, the nervous  giggle  of old Edward King, and
then silence. Now  the voice of  Joe Welling, sharp  and clear, broke forth.
George Willard began to laugh. He understood. As he had swept all men before
him, so now Joe Welling was carrying the two men  in the room off their feet
with a tidal wave  of words.  The listener in  the  hall walked up and down,
lost in amazement.
     Inside  the  room Joe Welling had paid  no  attention  to the  grumbled
threat of Tom King. Absorbed in an idea he closed the door  and,  lighting a
lamp, spread  the  handful of weeds and grasses  upon  the  floor. "I've got
something here," he announced solemnly. "I was going to tell  George Willard
about it,  let  him make  a piece out of it  for the paper.  I'm glad you're
here. I wish Sarah were here also. I've been going to come to your house and
tell you of some of  my ideas.  They're interesting. Sarah wouldn't let  me.
She said we'd quarrel. That's foolish."
     Running up and  down before the two perplexed men, Joe Welling began to
explain. "Don't you make  a mistake now," he cried. "This is something big."
His voice  was  shrill  with excitement. "You  just  follow  me,  you'll  be
interested. I know  you will. Suppose  this--suppose  all of the  wheat, the
corn, the oats, the peas, the potatoes, were all by some miracle swept away.
Now here we are,  you see, in this county. There is  a high fence  built all
around us. We'll suppose that.  No  one can get over  the fence and all  the
fruits of the earth are destroyed, nothing left but these wild things, these
grasses. Would we be done for? I ask you that. Would we be done  for?" Again
Tom King growled and for a  moment there was silence in the room. Then again
Joe  plunged into the  exposition  of his idea. "Things  would go hard for a
time. I  admit that. I've got to admit that. No  getting around it.  We'd be
hard put to it.  More than one fat stomach would cave in.  But they couldn't
down us. I should say not."
     Tom  King  laughed good  naturedly and  the shivery,  nervous  laugh of
Edward King rang through the house. Joe Welling hurried on. "We'd begin, you
see,  to breed up  new vegetables and  fruits. Soon we'd  regain all we  had
lost. Mind, I don't say the new  things would be  the same as  the old. They
wouldn't. Maybe they'd be better, maybe not so good. That's interesting, eh?
You can think about that. It starts your mind working, now don't it?"
     In the room there was silence and  then again  old  Edward King laughed
nervously. "Say, I wish Sarah was here," cried Joe Welling. "Let's  go up to
your house. I want to tell her of this."
     There  was a scraping  of  chairs in  the room. It was then that George
Willard  retreated to his own room. Leaning  out at  the window he  saw  Joe
Welling going  along  the street with the two Kings. Tom King  was forced to
take extraordinary  long strides  to keep  pace with  the little man. As  he
strode along,  he leaned over, listening--absorbed,  fascinated. Joe Welling
again talked excitedly.  "Take milkweed now," he cried. "A lot might be done
with milkweed, eh? It's almost unbelievable. I want you to think about it. I
want you two  to  think about it. There would be a new vegetable kingdom you
see. It's interesting, eh? It's an idea. Wait till you see Sarah, she'll get
the  idea.  She'll  be interested. Sarah is always interested in ideas.  You
can't be too smart for  Sarah, now can you?  Of course  you can't. You  know

     ALICE HINDMAN, a woman of twenty-seven when  George  Willard was a mere
boy, had lived in Winesburg all her  life. She clerked in Winney's Dry Goods
Store and lived with her mother, who had married a second husband.
     Alice's  step-father  was a carriage  painter, and given to  drink. His
story is an odd one. It will be worth telling some day.
     At twenty-seven Alice was tall and  somewhat slight. Her head was large
and overshadowed  her body. Her shoulders were a little stooped and her hair
and eyes brown. She was very quiet but beneath a placid exterior a continual
ferment went on.
     When  she was a  girl of sixteen  and before she began to  work in  the
store,  Alice had an  affair with  a young man.  The  young  man, named  Ned
Currie, was older  than Alice. He, like George Willard, was employed  on the
Winesburg Eagle  and for  a long  time  he went to  see  Alice  almost every
evening.  Together the two walked under the trees through the streets of the
town  and  talked of  what  they would do with their lives. Alice was then a
very  pretty girl and Ned Currie took her into his arms and  kissed  her. He
became excited and said things he  did not intend to say and Alice, betrayed
by her desire to have something beautiful come into her rather narrow  life,
also grew excited. She also talked.  The outer crust of her life, all of her
natural diffidence  and  reserve, was tom away and she gave herself  over to
the emotions of love.  When,  late  in the fall  of her sixteenth year,  Ned
Currie went away to Cleveland where he  hoped  to  get  a place  on  a  city
newspaper and rise in the world, she wanted to go with him. With a trembling
voice she told him what was in her mind. "I will work and you can work," she
said.  "I do not want to harness you to a needless expense that will prevent
your making progress. Don't marry me now. We will get along without that and
we  can be together. Even though we live in the same  house no one will  say
anything. In the city we will be unknown and people will pay no attention to
     Ned  Currie  was  puzzled by  the  determination  and  abandon  of  his
sweetheart and was also deeply touched. He had wanted the girl to become his
mistress but changed  his mind. He wanted to protect and  care for her. "You
don't  know what you're talking about,"  he  said sharply; "you may  be sure
I'll let you do  no such thing. As soon as I get  a good job I'll come back.
For the present you'll have to stay here. It's the only thing we can do."
     On the evening before he left Winesburg to take up his new life  in the
city,  Ned Currie  went to  call on  Alice.  They  walked  about through the
streets for an hour and then got a  rig from Wesley Moyer's livery  and went
for  a drive  in the country.  The  moon came  up  and they found themselves
unable to talk.  In  his sadness the young man forgot the resolutions he had
made regarding his conduct with the girl.
     They  got out of the buggy  at a place where a long meadow  ran down to
the bank of Wine Creek and  there in  the  dim light  became lovers. When at
midnight they returned to town they were both glad. It did not  seem to them
that anything  that could happen in the future could blot out the wonder and
beauty of the thing that  had happened.  "Now  we will have to stick to each
other, whatever happens we will have to do that," Ned Currie said as he left
the girl at her father's door.
     The  young  newspaper  man  did  not succeed in  getting  a  place on a
Cleveland paper and went west to Chicago. For a time he was lonely and wrote
to Alice almost every day. Then he was caught up by the life of the city; he
began to make friends and found new interests in life. In Chicago he boarded
at a house  where there  were  several women.  One  of  them  attracted  his
attention and  he forgot  Alice  in  Winesburg. At the end of a year  he had
stopped writing letters, and only once in a long time, when he was lonely or
when he went into one of the  city parks  and  saw the moon shining  on  the
grass as  it had shone that night  on the meadow by Wine Creek, did he think
of her at all.
     In Winesburg the girl who  had been loved grew to be a woman.  When she
was twenty-two years old  her father, who owned a harness  repair shop, died
suddenly. The harness maker  was an old soldier, and after a few  months his
wife received a  widow's pension. She used the first money she got to  buy a
loom  and became  a weaver  of carpets,  and  Alice got  a place in Winney's
store. For a number of years  nothing could have induced her to believe that
Ned Currie would not in the end return to her.
     She  was glad to  be  employed  because the daily round of toil  in the
store made the time  of waiting seem less long and uninteresting.  She began
to save money, thinking that when she had saved two or three hundred dollars
she would follow her lover to the city and try if her presence would not win
back his affections.
     Alice did not blame Ned  Currie for what had happened in  the moonlight
in the field,  but felt that she could  never marry another man. To  her the
thought of  giving  to another what  she still felt could belong only to Ned
seemed monstrous.  When other  young  men tried to attract her attention she
would have nothing to do with them. "I am his wife and shall remain his wife
whether he comes back or not," she whispered to herself, and  for all of her
willingness  to support herself could not have understood the growing modern
idea  of a woman's  owning herself and giving and taking for her own ends in
     Alice worked in the dry goods store from eight in the morning until six
at night and on three evenings  a week went back to the  store to  stay from
seven  until nine. As time passed and  she became more  and more lonely  she
began  to  practice the devices common to  lonely people. When at night  she
went upstairs into her own room she knelt on the  floor to  pray and in  her
prayers whispered things she wanted to say to her lover. She became attached
to inanimate objects,  and because  it was her own,  could  not bare to have
anyone touch the furniture of her room. The trick of saving money, begun for
a purpose, was carried on after the scheme of going to the city to find  Ned
Currie had  been given  up. It became a fixed habit, and when she needed new
clothes she did not get them. Sometimes on rainy afternoons in the store she
got out  her  bank book  and, letting  it lie open before  her, spent  hours
dreaming impossible dreams of saving money enough so that the interest would
support both herself and her future husband.
     "Ned always liked to travel  about," she  thought. "I'll give  him  the
chance. Some  day when we are married and  I  can save both his money and my
own, we will be rich. Then we can travel together all over the world."
     In the dry goods store weeks ran  into months and months into years  as
Alice waited and dreamed of her lover's return. Her employer, a grey old man
with false teeth and a thin grey mustache that drooped down over his  mouth,
was not given to  conversation, and  sometimes, on  rainy  days  and  in the
winter  when  a  storm  raged  in Main  Street, long  hours  passed  when no
customers  came in. Alice  arranged and rearranged the stock. She stood near
the front window  where she could look down the deserted  street and thought
of the evenings when she had walked with Ned Currie and of what he had said.
"We  will  have to stick to  each other now." The words echoed and re-echoed
through the mind of the maturing woman. Tears came into her eyes.  Sometimes
when her employer had  gone out and she was  alone in the  store she put her
head on the counter  and  wept. "Oh, Ned, I  am waiting," she whispered over
and over, and  all the time the creeping  fear that he would never come back
grew stronger within her.
     In the spring when the rains have  passed and before the long hot  days
of  summer have come, the country about Winesburg  is  delightful. The  town
lies in the midst of open fields, but beyond the fields are pleasant patches
of woodlands. In the wooded  places are many little  cloistered nooks, quiet
places where lovers go  to sit on Sunday afternoons. Through the  trees they
look out across the fields and see farmers at work about the barns or people
driving  up and down on the roads. In the town bells ring and occasionally a
train passes, looking like a toy thing in the distance.
     For several years after Ned Currie went  away Alice did not go into the
wood  with the other young people on  Sunday, but  one day after he had been
gone for two or three  years and  when her loneliness seemed unbearable, she
put on her best  dress  and  set out. Finding a little sheltered place  from
which she could see the town and a long stretch of the fields, she sat down.
Fear of age and  ineffectuality  took possession of her.  She could not  sit
still, and arose. As she stood looking out over the land  something, perhaps
the thought of never ceasing life as it expresses itself  in the flow of the
seasons, fixed her mind  on the passing years.  With a shiver  of dread, she
realized that for her the beauty and  freshness of youth had passed. For the
first time she felt that she had been  cheated. She did not blame Ned Currie
and did  not  know what  to blame. Sadness swept over  her. Dropping to  her
knees,  she tried  to  pray, but instead of prayers words of protest came to
her  lips. "It is not going to  come to me. I will never find happiness. Why
do  I tell myself lies?" she cried, and an  odd sense of  relief  came  with
this, her first bold attempt to face the fear that had  become a part of her
everyday life.
     In the year when Alice Hindman became twentyfive two things happened to
disturb the dull uneventfulness of her days. Her mother married Bush Milton,
the carriage painter of Winesburg, and  she herself became a member  of  the
Winesburg Methodist Church.  Alice joined the  church because she had become
frightened by the loneliness of her  position in life.  Her  mother's second
marriage had emphasized her isolation. "I am becoming  old and queer. If Ned
comes  he will  not  want  me.  In  the  city where  he is  living  men  are
perpetually young. There  is so much going on that they do not have time  to
grow old," she told herself with  a  grim little smile,  and went resolutely
about  the  business of  becoming  acquainted  with  people. Every  Thursday
evening when  the store  had  closed  she went to  a  prayer meeting in  the
basement  of  the church  and  on Sunday evening  attended  a  meeting of an
organization called The Epworth League.
     When Will Hurley, a middle-aged man who clerked in a drug store and who
also  belonged  to  the church,  offered  to walk home with her she did  not
protest. "Of course I will not let him make a practice of being with me, but
if he comes to see me once in a long time there can be no harm in that," she
told herself, still determined in her loyalty to Ned Currie.
     Without realizing what was happening, Alice was trying feebly at first,
but with growing determination, to get a new hold upon life. Beside the drug
clerk  she  walked in  silence, but  sometimes  in the darkness as they went
stolidly  along  she put  out her  hand and touched softly the folds  of his
coat. When  he left her at the gate before her mother's house she did not go
indoors, but stood for a moment by  the door. She wanted to call to the drug
clerk, to ask him to  sit with her in the  darkness  on the porch before the
house, but was afraid he would not understand. "It is not him  that I want,"
she told herself; "I want to avoid being so much alone. If I am not  careful
I will grow unaccustomed to being with people."
     During  the  early  fall  of  her  twenty-seventh  year   a  passionate
restlessness took  possession of  Alice. She  could not  bear  to be in  the
company  of the drug  clerk, and when, in the evening, he came  to walk with
her she sent him away. Her mind became intensely active and when, weary from
the long hours  of standing behind the counter in  the  store, she went home
and crawled into bed, she could not sleep. With staring eyes she looked into
the darkness. Her imagination, like a child awakened from long sleep, played
about the  room.  Deep  within her  there was something that  would  not  be
cheated by phantasies and that demanded some definite answer from life.
     Alice  took a  pillow into  her arms  and held it  tightly against  her
breasts. Getting out of bed, she  arranged a blanket so that in the darkness
it looked like a form lying between the sheets and, kneeling beside the bed,
she  caressed  it,  whispering  words over and  over, like  a  refrain. "Why
doesn't something happen? Why am I left here alone?" she muttered.  Although
she sometimes thought  of Ned Currie, she no  longer depended  on  him.  Her
desire  had  grown vague. She did not want Ned Currie  or any other man. She
wanted to  be  loved,  to have something  answer the call that  was  growing
louder and louder within her.
     And then one night when it rained Alice had an adventure. It frightened
and confused her. She  had come home  from the store  at nine  and found the
house empty. Bush Milton had gone off to town and her mother to the house of
a neighbor. Alice went upstairs  to her room and undressed in  the darkness.
For a moment she stood by the window hearing the rain beat against the glass
and  then a strange desire took possession of her. Without stopping to think
of what  she intended to do, she ran downstairs  through the dark  house and
out into the rain.  As she stood on the little  grass  plot before the house
and felt  the cold rain on her  body a mad desire  to run naked through  the
streets took possession of her.
     She thought that the rain would have some creative and wonderful effect
on her body. Not for years had she felt so full  of  youth and  courage. She
wanted  to leap and run, to cry out, to find  some other  lonely  human  and
embrace him. On the brick sidewalk before the house a man stumbled homeward.
Alice started to run. A wild,  desperate  mood took possession of her. "What
do  I care who it is. He  is alone, and I will  go to him," she thought; and
then without stopping to consider the possible result of her madness, called
softly. "Wait!" she cried. "Don't go away. Whoever you are, you must wait."
     The man on the sidewalk stopped  and stood listening. He was an old man
and somewhat deaf.  Putting his  hand to his mouth, he shouted. "What?  What
say?" he called.
     Alice dropped to the ground and lay trembling. She was so frightened at
the thought of what she had done  that when  the man had gone on his way she
did not  dare get  to her feet, but crawled  on hands and knees through  the
grass to the house.  When she  got to her own room she bolted  the door  and
drew her dressing table across  the doorway.  Her body shook as with a chill
and  her  hands  trembled  so  that  she  had  difficulty  getting into  her
nightdress. When she got into bed she buried her face in the pillow and wept
brokenheartedly. "What is the  matter with  me? I will do something dreadful
if I am not  careful," she thought, and turning her face to  the wall, began
trying to force herself  to face bravely the fact that many people must live
and die alone, even in Winesburg.

     IF YOU HAVE lived in cities and have  walked  in  the park on  a summer
afternoon, you have perhaps seen,  blinking in a corner of his iron  cage, a
huge, grotesque kind of monkey, a creature with ugly, sagging, hairless skin
below his eyes and a bright purple underbody. This monkey is a true monster.
In the completeness of his ugliness he achieved a kind of perverted  beauty.
Children stopping before the  cage are fascinated, men turn away with an air
of disgust, and women linger for a moment,  trying perhaps to remember which
one of their male acquaintances the thing in some faint way resembles.
     Had you been in the earlier years of your life a citizen of the village
of Winesburg, Ohio, there  would  have been for  you no mystery in regard to
the beast in his  cage. "It is like Wash Williams," you would have said. "As
he sits  in the corner there,  the beast is exactly like old Wash sitting on
the grass  in the station yard on a summer  evening after he has closed  his
office for the night."
     Wash  Williams, the telegraph  operator  of Winesburg, was  the ugliest
thing in town. His girth was immense, his neck thin, his legs feeble. He was
dirty. Everything about him was  unclean. Even the whites of his eyes looked
     I go  too  fast. Not everything about Wash was unclean. He took care of
his hands.  His  fingers  were fat, but there  was  something sensitive  and
shapely in the hand that lay on the table by the instrument in the telegraph
office.  In his youth  Wash  Williams  had  been called  the best  telegraph
operator in the state, and in spite of his degradement to the obscure office
at Winesburg, he was still proud of his ability.
     Wash Williams did not associate with  the men of the  town  in which he
lived. "I'll  have  nothing to do with  them," he said, looking with  bleary
eyes at the men who  walked  along  the station platform past  the telegraph
office. Up along Main Street he went in the evening to Ed Griffith's saloon,
and after drinking unbelievable quantities of beer staggered off to his room
in the New Willard House and to his bed for the night.
     Wash  Williams  was a man of courage. A  thing had happened to him that
made him hate life,  and he hated  it wholeheartedly, with the  abandon of a
poet.  First of all, he hated women. "Bitches," he called them. His  feeling
toward men was somewhat different. He pitied them.  "Does not every man  let
his life be managed for him by some bitch or another?" he asked.
     In Winesburg no attention was paid  to Wash Williams and his hatred  of
his fellows. Once Mrs. White, the banker's wife, complained to the telegraph
company,  saying  that  the  office  in  Winesburg  was  dirty  and  smelled
abominably,  but  nothing  came  of  her  complaint.  Here and  there a  man
respected  the  operator.  Instinctively  the man  felt  in  him  a  glowing
resentment of something he had not the courage  to resent.  When Wash walked
through the streets such a one  had an  instinct to pay him homage, to raise
his hat  or to bow before him. The superintendent  who had supervision  over
the  telegraph operators on  the railroad that  went  through Winesburg felt
that  way. He had put  Wash into the  obscure office at  Winesburg  to avoid
discharging him, and he meant to keep him there. When he received the letter
of complaint from the banker's wife, he tore it up and laughed unpleasantly.
For some reason he thought of his own wife as he tore up the letter.
     Wash Williams once had a wife. When he was still a young man he married
a woman  at Dayton, Ohio. The  woman was tall and slender  and had blue eyes
and yellow hair. Wash was himself a comely youth. He loved the  woman with a
love as absorbing as the hatred he later felt for all women.
     In all of  Winesburg there was but one person who knew the story of the
thing that had made ugly the person and the  character of Wash  Williams. He
once told the story to George Willard and the telling of the tale came about
in this way:
     George Willard went one evening to walk with Belle Carpenter, a trimmer
of women's hats who worked in a millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate McHugh. The
young  man  was not in love with the  woman, who,  in fact, had a suitor who
worked as bartender in Ed Griffith's  saloon, but as they walked about under
the  trees they occasionally embraced. The night and their own  thoughts had
aroused something in them. As they were returning to Main Street they passed
the little lawn beside the railroad station and saw Wash Williams apparently
asleep on the grass  beneath a  tree. On  the  next evening the operator and
George Willard walked out together. Down the railroad they went and sat on a
pile  of decaying railroad  ties  beside the tracks.  It was then  that  the
operator told the young reporter his story of hate.
     Perhaps a dozen times George Willard and the strange, shapeless man who
lived at  his father's hotel had been on the point of talking. The young man
looked at the hideous, leering face staring about the hotel dining  room and
was  consumed with curiosity.  Something he  saw lurking in the staring eyes
told him  that the  man who had  nothing to say to  others  had nevertheless
something to say to him. On the pile of railroad ties on the summer evening,
he waited  expectantly. When the operator remained silent and seemed to have
changed his mind  about  talking,  he tried to make conversation.  "Were you
ever married, Mr. Williams?" he began. "I suppose  you were and your wife is
dead, is that it?"
     Wash Williams spat  forth a  succession  of  vile  oaths. "Yes, she  is
dead," he agreed. "She is dead as  all women are dead. She is a  living-dead
thing,  walking in  the  sight  of  men and making the  earth  foul  by  her
presence." Staring into the  boy's eyes,  the  man became purple  with rage.
"Don't have fool notions in your head," he commanded. "My wife, she is dead;
yes, surely. I tell you, all  women are  dead, my mother,  your mother, that
tall  dark woman who works  in the millinery store and  with  whom I saw you
walking about yesterday--all of them, they are all dead. I tell you there is
something  rotten about them.  I was married, sure. My wife was dead  before
she married me, she was a foul thing  come out a  woman more foul. She was a
thing sent to make life unbearable to  me. I was a fool, do  you see, as you
are now, and so I married this woman. I would like to see men a little begin
to understand women.  They are sent to  prevent men  making the world  worth
while. It is a trick in  Nature. Ugh! They are creeping, crawling, squirming
things, they with their soft hands and their blue eyes. The sight of a woman
sickens me. Why I don't kill every woman I see I don't know."
     Half frightened and yet fascinated by the light burning in  the eyes of
the hideous old man, George Willard listened, afire with curiosity. Darkness
came on and he leaned forward trying to see the face of  the man who talked.
When, in the gathering darkness, he could no  longer see the purple, bloated
face and the burning eyes, a curious fancy came to him. Wash Williams talked
in  low even tones  that  made his words  seem  the more  terrible.  In  the
darkness  the young  reporter found  himself  imagining  that he sat  on the
railroad ties beside a  comely young man with  black hair and  black shining
eyes. There was something almost  beautiful  in the  voice of Wash Williams,
the hideous, telling his story of hate.
     The telegraph  operator of  Winesburg,  sitting in the darkness  on the
railroad  ties, had become a poet. Hatred had raised him to that  elevation.
"It  is because I saw  you kissing the lips of that  Belle Carpenter that  I
tell you my story," he said.  "What happened to me may next happen to you. I
want to put you  on your guard.  Already you may  be having  dreams  in your
head. I want to destroy them."
     Wash Williams began telling the story of his married life with the tall
blonde girl with the blue eyes whom he had met when he was a young  operator
at Dayton, Ohio. Here and there his story was touched with moments of beauty
intermingled  with  strings  of vile  curses. The  operator had  married the
daughter of a dentist who was the youngest of three sisters. On his marriage
day, because of his ability, he was promoted to a  position as dispatcher at
an  increased  salary  and sent  to an  office  at Columbus, Ohio. There  he
settled down with his young wife and began buying a house on the installment
     The  young  telegraph  operator  was madly  in  love.  With a  kind  of
religious fervor he had managed to go through the  pitfalls of his youth and
to remain virginal until after his marriage.  He made for George  Willard  a
picture of his life in the house at Columbus, Ohio, with the young wife. "in
the garden back  of  our house we  planted vegetables,"  he said, "you know,
peas and corn and  such things. We went  to Columbus in  early  March and as
soon  as the  days became warm I went to work in the  garden. With a spade I
turned up the black ground while she ran about laughing and pretending to be
afraid  of the  worms I uncovered.  Late in April came  the planting. In the
little paths among the seed beds she stood holding a paper  bag in her hand.
The bag was filled with seeds. A few at a time she handed me the seeds  that
I might thrust them into the warm, soft ground."
     For a moment  there  was a catch in the voice of the man talking in the
darkness. "I loved her," he said. "I don't claim  not to be  a fool.  I love
her  yet. There in the dusk  in the spring evening I crawled along the black
ground to  her feet  and  groveled  before her. I kissed  her shoes and  the
ankles above  her  shoes. When the hem of  her  garment touched  my  face  I
trembled. When  after two years of that  life  I  found  she had  managed to
acquire three other lovers  who came regularly to our  house when I was away
at  work,  I didn't want to touch them or  her. I just sent her home to  her
mother and said  nothing.  There  was nothing to  say. I  had  four  hundred
dollars in  the bank and I gave her that. I didn't ask her reasons. I didn't
say anything. When she  had gone I cried like a silly boy. Pretty soon I had
a chance to sell the house and I sent that money to her."
     Wash Williams and George  Willard arose from the pile of  railroad ties
and  walked  along  the tracks toward town.  The operator finished  his tale
quickly, breathlessly.
     "Her mother sent for  me," he said. "She wrote me a letter and asked me
to come to their house at Dayton. When I got there it was evening about this
     Wash  Williams' voice  rose to a half scream.  "I  sat in the parlor of
that house two hours. Her  mother took me in there and left me.  Their house
was  stylish. They were  what is called respectable people. There were plush
chairs and a  couch in the room. I was trembling all over. I hated the men I
thought had wronged her. I was sick of living alone and wanted her back. The
longer I waited the more raw and tender I became. I thought that if she came
in and just touched me with her hand I would perhaps faint away. I ached  to
forgive and forget."
     Wash  Williams  stopped and stood staring at  George Willard. The boy's
body shook as from a chill.  Again the man's voice became soft and low. "She
came  into the room naked," he  went on.  "Her mother  did that. While I sat
there she was taking  the girl's clothes  off, perhaps coaxing her to do it.
First I heard voices at the door that led into a  little hallway and then it
opened softly. The girl was ashamed and stood perfectly still staring at the
floor. The mother didn't come into the room. When she had pushed the girl in
through  the door she stood in the  hallway waiting, hoping we  would--well,
you see-- waiting."
     George Willard and  the telegraph operator came into the main street of
Winesburg. The lights  from the store windows lay  bright and shining on the
sidewalks. People moved about laughing  and talking. The young reporter felt
ill and  weak. In imagination, he also became old and shapeless.  "I  didn't
get the mother  killed," said Wash Williams, staring up and down the street.
"I struck  her once with a chair and then the neighbors came in  and took it
away. She screamed  so loud you see. I won't ever  have a chance to kill her
now. She died of a fever a month after that happened."

     THE HOUSE in which Seth Richmond of Winesburg lived with his mother had
been at one time the show place of the town, but when young Seth lived there
its  glory had become  somewhat dimmed.  The  huge brick house which  Banker
White  had built on Buckeye Street  had overshadowed it.  The Richmond place
was  in a little  valley  far out at the end of Main Street. Farmers  coming
into town by a dusty road from the south passed by a  grove of walnut trees,
skirted  the  Fair   Ground  with  its  high  board   fence   covered   with
advertisements, and  trotted their horses  down through the valley past  the
Richmond place  into  town. As  much  of  the  country  north  and  south of
Winesburg was devoted to fruit and berry raising,  Seth  saw  wagon-loads of
berry pickers--boys,  girls, and  women--going to the fields  in the morning
and returning covered with dust in the  evening. The chattering crowd,  with
their rude jokes cried out  from  wagon  to  wagon, sometimes  irritated him
sharply.  He  regretted  that he also could  not  laugh  boisterously, shout
meaningless  jokes and make  of himself  a  figure in the endless stream  of
moving, giggling activity that went up and down the road.
     The Richmond house was built of limestone, and, although it was said in
the village  to have  become run down,  had in  reality grown more beautiful
with every passing year. Already time had begun a little to color the stone,
lending a golden richness to its surface and in the evening or  on dark days
touching the shaded places beneath the eaves with wavering patches of browns
and blacks.
     The house had been built by Seth's  grandfather, a stone quarryman, and
it, together  with the  stone  quarries on Lake Erie eighteen  miles to  the
north, had been left to his son, Clarence Richmond, Seth's  father. Clarence
Richmond, a quiet passionate  man extraordinarily  admired by his neighbors,
had been killed in a street fight with the  editor of a newspaper in Toledo,
Ohio.  The fight  concerned  the  publication  of Clarence  Richmond's  name
coupled with that of a  woman school  teacher, and as the dead man had begun
the  row  by firing upon  the editor, the effort to  punish  the  slayer was
unsuccessful. After the  quarryman's death it was found  that  much  of  the
money  left  to  him  had  been squandered  in  speculation and  in insecure
investments made through the influence of friends.
     Left with but a small income,  Virginia Richmond  had settled down to a
retired life in the village and to the raising of her  son. Although she had
been deeply moved by the death of the husband and father, she did not at all
believe the stories  concerning him that ran  about  after his death. To her
mind, the sensitive, boyish man whom all had instinctively loved, was but an
unfortunate, a  being  too  fine  for everyday life.  "You'll be hearing all
sorts of stories, but you are not to believe what you hear," she said to her
son. "He was a good man, full  of  tenderness for everyone,  and  should not
have tried  to be a  man  of affairs.  No matter how much I were to plan and
dream of your future, I could not  imagine anything better for you than that
you turn out as good a man as your father."
     Several years  after the death of  her husband,  Virginia  Richmond had
become alarmed at the growing demands upon her income and had set herself to
the task  of increasing  it.  She had  learned  stenography  and through the
influence of her husband's friends got the position of court stenographer at
the county seat. There she went by train each morning during the sessions of
the  court,  and  when  no  court  sat,  spent  her  days working among  the
rosebushes in her garden.  She was a tall, straight figure of a woman with a
plain face and a great mass of brown hair.
     In  the  relationship between Seth Richmond and his mother, there was a
quality that  even at  eighteen  had begun to color all of his traffic  with
men. An almost unhealthy  respect for the youth kept the mother for the most
part silent  in his presence. When she did  speak sharply to him he had only
to look steadily into her eyes to see  dawning there the puzzled look he had
already noticed in the eyes of others when he looked at them.
     The  truth was that the son  thought with  remarkable clearness and the
mother did not. She expected from all people  certain conventional reactions
to  life. A boy was  your son, you scolded him and he trembled and looked at
the floor. When you  had scolded enough he wept and  all was forgiven. After
the weeping and  when he had gone to bed, you crept into his room and kissed
     Virginia  Richmond  could not understand  why her son did not do  these
things.  After the severest reprimand, he did  not  tremble and look at  the
floor  but instead looked steadily at her,  causing uneasy doubts  to invade
her  mind.  As  for creeping  into his  room--  after  Seth had  passed  his
fifteenth year, she would have been half afraid to do anything of the kind.
     Once when he was a boy of sixteen, Seth  in company with two other boys
ran  away  from home. The three boys climbed into the open door of  an empty
freight car and rode some forty miles to a town where a fair was being held.
One of  the boys had  a bottle filled  with  a combination  of  whiskey  and
blackberry  wine, and  the three sat  with legs dangling out of the car door
drinking from the  bottle. Seth's two companions sang and  waved their hands
to  idlers about the stations of the  towns through which the train  passed.
They planned  raids  upon  the baskets of farmers  who  had come  with their
families  to the fair. "We will five like kings and won't  have to  spend  a
penny to see the fair and horse races," they declared boastfully.
     After the disappearance  of Seth, Virginia Richmond walked up  and down
the floor of her home filled with vague alarms. Although on the next day she
discovered, through an inquiry made  by the town marshal, on  what adventure
the boys  had gone, she could not quiet herself.  All  through the night she
lay  awake  hearing  the clock tick and  telling herself that Seth, like his
father, would come to  a sudden and violent end.  So determined was she that
the boy  should this  time feel the  weight  of her wrath that, although she
would not allow the marshal to interfere with  his adventure, she got  out a
pencil and  paper and wrote  down a series  of sharp, stinging  reproofs she
intended to  pour out upon him. The reproofs she committed to  memory, going
about the garden and saying them aloud like an actor memorizing his part.
     And when, at  the end of the  week, Seth  returned,  a little weary and
with coal  soot  in  his ears and about  his  eyes, she  again found herself
unable to reprove him. Walking  into the house he hung his cap on a  nail by
the kitchen door and stood looking steadily at her. "I  wanted to turn  back
within an hour after we had  started,"  he explained. "I didn't know what to
do.  I knew you would be bothered, but I knew also that if I didn't go on  I
would  be ashamed of myself. I went through with the thing for  my own good.
It  was uncomfortable, sleeping on wet  straw, and two drunken Negroes  came
and  slept  with us. When I  stole a lunch basket  out of a farmer's wagon I
couldn't help  thinking of  his children going all  day without food. I  was
sick  of the  whole  affair, but  I was determined to stick it out until the
other boys were ready to come back."
     "I'm glad you did stick it  out," replied the mother, half resentfully,
and kissing him upon the forehead  pretended to busy herself  with  the work
about the house.
     On  a summer evening  Seth Richmond went to the  New  Willard House  to
visit his friend, George Willard. It had rained during the afternoon, but as
he walked through  Main  Street, the sky  had partially cleared and a golden
glow lit up the west. Going around a corner, he turned in at the door of the
hotel  and began to  climb the  stairway leading up to his friend's room. In
the  hotel  office  the proprietor  and two  traveling men were engaged in a
discussion of politics.
     On  the stairway Seth  stopped  and listened to the  voices of  the men
below.  They  were  excited and talked rapidly. Tom Willard was berating the
traveling men. "I am a  Democrat but your talk makes me sick," he said. "You
don't  understand McKinley.  McKinley  and  Mark  Hanna  are  friends. It is
impossible perhaps for your mind to grasp that. If  anyone tells  you that a
friendship can be deeper and bigger  and more worth while  than dollars  and
cents, or even more worth while than state politics, you snicker and laugh."
     The  landlord  was  interrupted  by   one  of  the  guests,   a   tall,
grey-mustached man who worked  for a wholesale grocery house. "Do  you think
that I've lived in Cleveland all these years without knowing Mark Hanna?" he
demanded. "Your  talk is piffle. Hanna is after money and nothing else. This
McKinley is his tool. He has McKinley bluffed and don't you forget it."
     The  young  man on  the stairs did not linger  to hear the  rest of the
discussion,  but  went on up  the  stairway and  into the  little dark hall.
Something  in  the voices  of  the men talking in the hotel office started a
chain  of thoughts in his  mind. He was  lonely and had begun to think  that
loneliness was  a  part of  his character, something that would  always stay
with him. Stepping into a side hall he stood by a window that looked into an
alleyway. At the  back of  his shop  stood Abner Groff, the town baker.  His
tiny bloodshot eyes looked up and down  the alleyway.  In his  shop  someone
called the baker,  who  pretended not to hear. The  baker had an  empty milk
bottle in his hand and an angry sullen look in his eyes.
     In Winesburg, Seth Richmond was called  the  "deep one." "He's like his
father," men said  as he went through the streets.  "He'll break out some of
these days. You wait and see."
     The  talk  of  the  town  and  the  respect  with  which men  and  boys
instinctively greeted him, as all men greet silent people, had affected Seth
Richmond's  outlook on life and on himself. He,  like  most boys, was deeper
than  boys are given credit for being, but he  was not  what the men of  the
town, and even his mother, thought  him  to  be. No great underlying purpose
lay back  of his habitual silence, and he had no definite plan for his life.
When  the boys with whom he associated were noisy and quarrelsome, he  stood
quietly at one side. With  calm  eyes he watched  the  gesticulating  lively
figures  of his companions. He wasn't  particularly interested in  what  was
going on, and sometimes wondered if he would ever be particularly interested
in anything. Now, as he stood  in  the  half-darkness by the window watching
the  baker, he  wished that  he himself  might become  thoroughly stirred by
something, even by the fits of sullen anger for which Baker Groff was noted.
"It would  be  better for  me if I  could  become excited  and wrangle about
politics like  windy old Tom Willard," he thought, as he left the window and
went  again along the hallway  to the room occupied  by  his  friend, George
     George  Willard was older than  Seth Richmond, but  in the  rather  odd
friendship  between the two, it  was  he  who was  forever courting and  the
younger boy who was being courted. The paper on which George  worked had one
policy.  It strove to mention by name in each  issue, as many as possible of
the inhabitants of the village. Like an excited dog, George Willard ran here
and there, noting on his pad of paper who had gone on business to the county
seat or had returned from a visit to a neighboring village. All day he wrote
little facts upon the pad.  "A. P. Wringlet had received a shipment of straw
hats.  Ed  Byerbaum and  Tom  Marshall were  in Cleveland Friday. Uncle  Tom
Sinnings is building a new barn on his place on the Valley Road."
     The idea that George Willard would some  day become a writer had  given
him  a place  of  distinction in  Winesburg,  and to Seth Richmond he talked
continually of  the  matter,  "It's  the easiest of all  lives to  live," he
declared, becoming excited and boastful. "Here and there you go and there is
no one to boss you.  Though you are in India or in the South Seas in a boat,
you have but to write and there you are. Wait till I get my name up and then
see what fun I shall have."
     In  George  Willard's room,  which  had a window  looking  down into an
alleyway and one that looked  across railroad tracks to  Biff Carter's Lunch
Room facing the railroad station, Seth Richmond sat in a chair and looked at
the floor. George  Willard, who had  been sitting for  an hour  idly playing
with a lead  pencil, greeted  him effusively. "I've been  trying  to write a
love  story,"  he explained, laughing  nervously.  Lighting a pipe  he began
walking  up  and down  the room. "I know what I'm going to  do. I'm going to
fall in love.  I've  been sitting here and thinking it over and I'm going to
do it."
     As  though embarrassed by his declaration,  George went to a window and
turning his back to his friend leaned out. "I know who I'm going to  fall in
love with," he said sharply. "It's Helen White. She is the only girl in town
with any 'get-up' to her."
     Struck with a new idea,  young Willard  turned  and  walked  toward his
visitor.  "Look here," he said. "You  know Helen White  better  than I do. I
want you to tell  her  what I said. You just get  to  talking to her and say
that I'm in love with her. See what she  says to that. See how she takes it,
and then you come and tell me."
     Seth Richmond arose  and went toward the door. The words of his comrade
irritated him unbearably. "Well, good-bye," he said briefly.
     George was amazed. Running forward he  stood in  the darkness trying to
look  into Seth's face.  "What's the  matter? What are you  going to do? You
stay here and let's talk," he urged.
     A wave  of resentment directed  against his friend, the men of the town
who  were,  he  thought, perpetually  talking  of nothing, and  most of all,
against his own habit  of silence, made  Seth half desperate.  "Aw, speak to
her  yourself,"  he burst  forth  and then, going  quickly through the door,
slammed it sharply in his friend's face. "I'm going to  find Helen White and
talk to her, but not about him," he muttered.
     Seth  went  down the  stairway and out at  the front  door of the hotel
muttering with wrath. Crossing a little dusty street and climbing a low iron
railing, he  went to  sit upon the grass in the station yard. George Willard
he  thought a profound  fool,  and  he  wished  that  he  had  said  so more
vigorously. Although  his acquaintanceship with  Helen  White, the  banker's
daughter,  was  outwardly  but  casual,  she  was often the  subject  of his
thoughts and he felt that she was something private and personal to himself.
"The busy fool with  his love stories," he muttered,  staring back  over his
shoulder at George Willard's  room, "why does he never  tire of his  eternal
     It was berry harvest time  in Winesburg  and upon the  station platform
men and boys loaded the boxes of red, fragrant berries into two express cars
that stood upon the siding. A June moon was in the sky, although in the west
a storm threatened, and no street  lamps were  lighted. In the dim light the
figures of the men standing upon the express truck and pitching the boxes in
at the doors of the cars  were but dimly discernible. Upon the  iron railing
that protected the station  lawn sat other  men. Pipes were lighted. Village
jokes went back and forth. Away in the distance a train whistled and the men
loading the boxes into the cars worked with renewed activity.
     Seth  arose from his place on the grass and went silently  past the men
perched upon  the railing and into Main Street. He had come to a resolution.
"I'll  get out of here," he told himself. "What good am I here? I'm going to
some city and go to work. I'll tell mother about it tomorrow."
     Seth  Richmond went slowly along Main Street, past Wacker's Cigar Store
and the Town Hall,  and into Buckeye Street. He was depressed by the thought
that he was not a part  of the life  in his own town, but the depression did
not cut deeply  as he did  not think  of himself as at fault. In  the  heavy
shadows of a big  tree before Doctor Welling's  house, he stopped and  stood
watching half-witted  Turk Smollet,  who  was pushing  a  wheelbarrow in the
road. The old man with  his absurdly boyish mind had a  dozen long boards on
the  wheelbarrow, and, as he hurried along the road, balanced  the load with
extreme nicety. "Easy there, Turk! Steady now, old boy!" the old man shouted
to himself, and laughed so that the load of boards rocked dangerously.
     Seth  knew  Turk  Smollet, the half dangerous  old  wood chopper  whose
peculiarities added  so  much of color to the life of the  village. He  knew
that  when Turk  got  into Main  Street  he  would  become the center  of  a
whirlwind of cries and comments, that in truth the old man was going far out
of his way in order to  pass  through Main Street and exhibit  his  skill in
wheeling  the boards.  "If George Willard were here, he'd have  something to
say," thought Seth. "George belongs  to this  town. He'd shout  at Turk  and
Turk  would shout at him. They'd both  be secretly pleased  by what they had
said. It's different with me. I don't belong. I'll not make a fuss about it,
but I'm going to get out of here."
     Seth  stumbled forward through the half-darkness,  feeling  himself  an
outcast  in his own  town.  He began to  pity himself, but a  sense  of  the
absurdity of his thoughts made him smile.  In the end he decided that he was
simply old beyond  his years and not  at  all a subject for self-pity.  "I'm
made to  go to  work. I  may be able  to  make a place for myself by  steady
working, and I might as well be at it," he decided.
     Seth went to the house of Banker White and stood in the darkness by the
front door. On the door hung a heavy brass knocker, an innovation introduced
into the village by Helen  White's mother, who  had also organized a women's
club for the study of poetry.  Seth  raised the knocker and let it fall. Its
heavy clatter  sounded like  a report from distant guns.  "How  awkward  and
foolish I  am," he thought. "If Mrs. White  comes to the door, I won't  know
what to say."
     It  was Helen White who came to the door and found Seth standing at the
edge of the porch. Blushing with pleasure, she stepped forward, closing  the
door softly. "I'm going to get  out of town. I don't know what I'll do,  but
I'm going to get out of  here and go to work. I think I'll go  to Columbus,"
he said. "Perhaps I'll get into the State University down there. Anyway, I'm
going. I'll tell mother tonight." He hesitated and looked  doubtfully about.
"Perhaps you wouldn't mind coming to walk with me?"
     Seth and Helen  walked  through  the streets beneath  the trees.  Heavy
clouds had drifted  across the face of the moon, and before them in the deep
twilight went a man with a short ladder upon his shoulder. Hurrying forward,
the man stopped at the street  crossing and, putting the  ladder against the
wooden  lamp-post, lighted the village  lights so that  their way  was  half
lighted, half darkened,  by  the lamps and by the deepening shadows  cast by
the  low-branched  trees. In the tops  of the trees  the wind began to play,
disturbing  the sleeping  birds so that they flew about calling plaintively.
In the  lighted space before one of the lamps, two bats wheeled and circled,
pursuing the gathering swarm of night flies.
     Since  Seth had  been a  boy  in knee trousers there  had been  a  half
expressed intimacy between  him  and the  maiden who now  for the first time
walked beside him. For a  time she had been beset with a madness for writing
notes which she addressed to Seth. He had found them concealed  in his books
at  school  and one had been given  him by a child  met in the street, while
several had been delivered through the village post office.
     The notes had been written in  a round, boyish hand and had reflected a
mind inflamed by novel reading. Seth had not answered  them, although he had
been moved and  flattered by  some of  the sentences scrawled in pencil upon
the  stationery of  the  banker's wife.  Putting them into the pocket of his
coat, he went through the street or stood by  the  fence  in the school yard
with something burning at  his side. He thought it  fine that  he  should be
thus selected as the favorite of the  richest and  most  attractive girl  in
     Helen and Seth stopped by a fence near where a  low dark building faced
the street.  The  building had once been a factory for the making  of barrel
staves but was now vacant. Across the street upon the porch of a house a man
and woman talked  of  their childhood, their  voices coming dearly across to
the  half-embarrassed  youth  and  maiden. There  was the sound of  scraping
chairs  and  the man and woman came down the gravel  path to a  wooden gate.
Standing  outside the gate, the man  leaned  over and kissed the woman. "For
old times'  sake,"  he  said and, turning,  walked  rapidly  away  along the
     "That's Belle Turner," whispered Helen,  and put her  hand boldly  into
Seth's  hand. "I didn't know she had a fellow. I thought she was too old for
that."  Seth laughed uneasily. The hand  of the girl was warm and a strange,
dizzy  feeling crept over  him.  Into  his mind came  a desire to  tell  her
something he had been determined not to tell. "George Willard's in love with
you," he said, and in  spite  of his  agitation his voice was low and quiet.
"He's writing a story, and he wants to be in love. He  wants  to know how it
feels. He wanted me to tell you and see what you said."
     Again Helen  and  Seth walked in  silence.  They  came  to  the  garden
surrounding the old Richmond place and going through a gap  in the hedge sat
on a wooden bench beneath a bush.
     On the street as he walked beside the girl new  and daring thoughts had
come into Seth Richmond's mind. He began to regret  his decision  to get out
of town. "It would be something new  and altogether delightful to remain and
walk often through the streets with Helen White," he thought. In imagination
he saw himself putting his arm about her  waist and feeling her arms clasped
tightly about his neck. One of those odd combinations  of  events and places
made him connect the idea  of love-making  with this girl and a spot  he had
visited some days before. He had gone on an  errand to the house of a farmer
who lived on a  hillside beyond the  Fair Ground  and had returned by a path
through a field. At the foot of the  hill below the farmer's house Seth  had
stopped beneath a sycamore tree and looked about him. A soft  humming  noise
had greeted his ears. For a moment he had thought the tree  must be the home
of a swarm of bees.
     And then, looking down, Seth had seen the bees everywhere all about him
in the long grass. He stood in a mass  of weeds that grew waist-high in  the
field  that ran  away  from the hillside.  The weeds were abloom  with  tiny
purple blossoms and gave forth an overpowering fragrance. Upon the weeds the
bees were gathered in armies, singing as they worked.
     Seth imagined himself  lying on a summer evening, buried deep among the
weeds  beneath  the tree. Beside him, in the scene built  in his  fancy, lay
Helen White, her hand lying in his hand. A peculiar reluctance kept him from
kissing her lips, but he felt he might have done that if he wished. Instead,
he  lay perfectly still, looking at her and  listening to  the army  of bees
that sang the sustained masterful song of labor above his head.
     On the bench in the garden Seth stirred uneasily. Releasing the hand of
the girl, he thrust his hands into his trouser pockets. A desire  to impress
the mind of his companion with the importance of the resolution he had  made
came over him and he nodded his head  toward  the  house. "Mother'll make  a
fuss,  I suppose," he whispered. "She hasn't thought at  all about what  I'm
going to do in life. She thinks I'm going to stay on here forever just being
a boy."
     Seth's voice became charged with boyish earnestness. "You see, I've got
to strike out. I've got to get to work. It's what I'm good for."
     Helen White  was  impressed.  She  nodded  her head  and a  feeling  of
admiration swept over her. "This is as it should be," she thought. "This boy
is not  a boy  at all,  but a strong, purposeful man." Certain vague desires
that had been invading her body were swept away and she sat up very straight
on the bench. The thunder continued to  rumble and flashes of heat lightning
lit up the eastern sky. The  garden that had been so mysterious and  vast, a
place that with Seth beside her might have become the background for strange
and wonderful adventures, now seemed no more than an ordinary Winesburg back
yard, quite definite and limited in its outlines.
     "What will you do up there?" she whispered.
     Seth turned half  around on the bench, striving  to see her face in the
darkness. He  thought  her infinitely more sensible and straightforward than
George Willard, and was  glad he had come away from his friend. A feeling of
impatience with the town that had been in his mind returned, and he tried to
tell her  of it. "Everyone talks and talks," he began. "I'm sick of it. I'll
do something, get into some  kind of work where talk don't count. Maybe I'll
just  be a mechanic in a shop. I don't  know.  I guess I don't care much.  I
just want to work and keep quiet. That's all I've got in my mind."
     Seth arose from the  bench and  put out his hand. He  did not  want  to
bring  the  meeting  to  an end but could not think of anything more to say.
"It's the last time we'll see each other," he whispered.
     A  wave of sentiment swept over  Helen.  Putting her  hand  upon Seth's
shoulder, she started to  draw his  face down toward  her own upturned face.
The act  was one  of  pure affection and  cutting  regret  that  some  vague
adventure that had been present in the spirit of the  night  would now never
be realized. "I think I'd better be going along," she said, letting her hand
fall heavily to her side.  A thought came  to her. "Don't you go  with me; I
want to be alone," she said. "You go and talk with your mother. You'd better
do that now."
     Seth  hesitated and,  as he stood waiting, the girl turned and ran away
through the hedge. A desire to  run after her came to him, but he only stood
staring, perplexed  and puzzled by her action  as he  had been perplexed and
puzzled by all of the life  of the town out of which she  had  come. Walking
slowly toward the house, he stopped in the shadow of a large tree and looked
at his mother  sitting by a lighted  window  busily  sewing. The feeling  of
loneliness that had visited him earlier in  the evening returned and colored
his  thoughts of  the adventure  through which he had just passed. "Huh!" he
exclaimed,  turning and  staring  in  the direction  taken by  Helen  White.
"That's  how things'll  turn out. She'll be like  the rest. I suppose she'll
begin now  to  look  at  me  in a  funny  way."  He looked at the ground and
pondered  this thought. "She'll  be  embarrassed and  feel strange when  I'm
around,"  he  whispered  to  himself.  "That's  how  it'll  be.  That's  how
everything'll turn out.  When it comes to loving someone, it won't  never be
me. It'll be someone  else--some fool--someone who talks a lot--someone like
that George Willard."

     UNTIL SHE WAS seven years old she lived in an old unpainted house on an
unused  road  that  led off Trunion  Pike.  Her  father gave  her but little
attention  and  her mother was  dead. The father  spent his time talking and
thinking of religion. He proclaimed himself an  agnostic and was so absorbed
in  destroying  the ideas  of  God  that  had crept into the  minds  of  his
neighbors that  he  never  saw God manifesting himself in the  little  child
that,  half forgotten,  lived  here and  there on  the  bounty  of her  dead
mother's relatives.
     A stranger came  to Winesburg and saw in the child  what the father did
not see.  He was a  tall, redhaired young man  who was almost  always drunk.
Sometimes he sat in a chair  before the New Willard House with Tom Hard, the
father. As Tom talked,  declaring there could be no God, the stranger smiled
and  winked at the  bystanders.  He and  Tom  became friends  and were  much
     The stranger was the son of a rich merchant of Cleveland  and had  come
to  Winesburg on a mission. He wanted to cure himself of the habit of drink,
and thought that by escaping from his city associates and living in  a rural
community  he would  have a  better chance in the struggle with the appetite
that was destroying him.
     His sojourn in Winesburg was not a success. The dullness of the passing
hours led to  his drinking harder  than ever. But  he  did  succeed in doing
something. He gave a name rich with meaning to Tom Hard's daughter.
     One evening when  he  was recovering  from a  long debauch the stranger
came  reeling along  the  main street  of the town. Tom Hard sat in  a chair
before the New Willard House with his daughter, then a child of five, on his
knees. Beside him  on  the  board  sidewalk  sat young  George Willard.  The
stranger dropped into a  chair beside them. His body shook and when he tried
to talk his voice trembled.
     It  was  late  evening  and  darkness lay over  the town  and over  the
railroad  that  ran along  the  foot of  a  little incline before the hotel.
Somewhere in the distance, off to the west, there was a prolonged blast from
the  whistle  of a  passenger engine. A dog that  had  been  sleeping in the
roadway arose  and barked. The  stranger began to babble and made a prophecy
concerning the child that lay in the arms of the agnostic.
     "I came  here to quit drinking," he  said, and tears began to run  down
his cheeks. He did not look  at Tom Hard, but leaned forward and stared into
the darkness as though  seeing a vision. "I  ran away  to the country to  be
cured, but I am not cured. There  is  a  reason." He turned  to  look at the
child who sat up very straight on her father's knee and returned the look.
     The stranger touched Tom  Hard on the arm. "Drink is not the only thing
to which I am addicted," he said. "There is something else. I am a lover and
have not found my thing to  love. That is a  big point if you know enough to
realize what I mean. It makes my destruction inevitable, you  see. There are
few who understand that."
     The stranger  became  silent  and  seemed overcome  with  sadness,  but
another blast from the whistle of the  passenger engine aroused him. "I have
not lost faith. I proclaim that. I have only been brought to the place where
I  know my faith will not be realized," he declared hoarsely. He looked hard
at the  child  and began to address  her, paying no  more attention  to  the
father. "There is a woman coming," he  said, and his voice was now sharp and
earnest. "I have missed  her,  you see. She did not come in my time. You may
be the woman. It would be like fate to let me stand in her presence once, on
such an  evening as this, when I have destroyed myself with drink and she is
as yet only a child."
     The shoulders of  the stranger shook violently, and  when  he tried  to
roll  a cigarette the paper  fell from  his trembling fingers. He grew angry
and  scolded. "They think it's easy to be  a woman, to  be loved, but I know
better,"  he  declared.  Again he  turned  to the  child. "I understand," he
cried. "Perhaps of all men I alone understand."
     His glance again wandered away  to the darkened street.  "I know  about
her, although  she has never crossed my path," he said softly. "I know about
her  struggles and her defeats. It is because of  her defeats that she is to
me the lovely one. Out of her defeats has been born a  new quality in woman.
I have a name for it. I call it Tandy. I made  up the name when I was a true
dreamer and before my body became vile. It is the quality of being strong to
be loved. It is something men need from women and that they do not get. "
     The stranger arose and  stood before Tom Hard. His body rocked back and
forth  and he seemed about to fall, but instead  he dropped  to his knees on
the sidewalk and raised the hands of the little girl to his drunken lips. He
kissed them ecstatically. "Be  Tandy, little one,"  he pleaded.  "Dare to be
strong  and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything. Be brave  enough
to dare to be loved. Be something more than man or woman. Be Tandy."
     The stranger  arose  and  staggered off down the street. A day  or  two
later  he got aboard a train and returned to his home in  Cleveland. On  the
summer evening,  after  the  talk before  the hotel, Tom Hard  took the girl
child to the house  of a  relative where she had been invited to  spend  the
night.  As he went along  in the darkness  under  the  trees  he forgot  the
babbling  voice of  the stranger and  his  mind  returned to  the  making of
arguments  by which  he  might destroy  men's  faith in  God. He  spoke  his
daughter's name and she began to weep.
     "I don't want  to be called that," she  declared. "I want to be  called
Tandy--Tandy Hard." The child wept so bitterly that Tom Hard was touched and
tried to comfort her. He  stopped beneath a tree  and, taking  her  into his
arms, began to caress her.  "Be good, now,"  he said sharply;  but she would
not be quieted. With childish abandon  she gave  herself over  to grief, her
voice breaking the evening stillness of the street. "I want  to be  Tandy. I
want to be Tandy. I want to be  Tandy Hard," she cried, shaking her head and
sobbing as  though her young strength were not enough to bear the vision the
words of the drunkard had brought to her.

     THE REVEREND  Curtis  Hartman was pastor of the  Presbyterian Church of
Winesburg, and had been in  that position ten years. He was forty years old,
and  by  his nature very  silent  and reticent.  To preach,  standing in the
pulpit before  the people, was always a hardship  for him and from Wednesday
morning until  Saturday  evening he  thought  of nothing but the two sermons
that must  be preached on Sunday.  Early  on  Sunday  morning he went into a
little room called a  study  in the  bell tower of the church and prayed. In
his prayers there was one note that always  predominated. "Give  me strength
and courage  for Thy work, O Lord!" he pleaded,  kneeling on the  bare floor
and bowing his head in the presence of the task that lay before him.
     The Reverend  Hartman was a tall  man with a brown  beard.  His wife, a
stout, nervous woman, was the daughter  of a  manufacturer  of underwear  at
Cleveland, Ohio. The minister himself was rather a favorite in the town. The
elders of the church  liked him because he  was quiet and  unpretentious and
Mrs. White, the banker's wife, thought him scholarly and refined.
     The  Presbyterian  Church held  itself somewhat  aloof  from  the other
churches of Winesburg. It was larger and more imposing  and its minister was
better paid.  He even had  a carriage  of  his  own and  on summer  evenings
sometimes drove about  town with his wife. Through Main Street  and  up  and
down Buckeye Street he  went, bowing gravely to  the people, while his wife,
afire with  secret pride,  looked at him out of the corners of her  eyes and
worried lest the horse become frightened and run away.
     For a good many years after he came to Winesburg  things went well with
Curtis  Hartman. He  was  not  one  to  arouse  keen  enthusiasm  among  the
worshippers in  his  church but on  the other  hand  he made no enemies.  In
reality he was much in  earnest and sometimes suffered  prolonged periods of
remorse because he could  not go  crying the word of God in the highways and
byways of the  town. He wondered if the flame of the spirit really burned in
him and dreamed of a day when a strong sweet new current of power would come
like a  great wind into his  voice and his soul and the people would tremble
before the spirit of God made  manifest in him. "I am a poor  stick and that
will never  really  happen to me," he mused  dejectedly, and then a  patient
smile lit up  his features. "Oh  well, I suppose I'm doing well enough,"  he
added philosophically.
     The room in the bell tower of the church,  where on Sunday mornings the
minister prayed for an increase  in him of the  power of God,  had  but  one
window. It was long and narrow  and swung outward on a hinge like a door. On
the  window, made  of little leaded  panes, was a design  showing the Christ
laying his hand upon  the head of a child. One Sunday morning  in the summer
as he  sat by his desk in the room with a large Bible opened before him, and
the sheets of his sermon  scattered about, the minister was shocked  to see,
in the  upper room of  the house  next  door, a woman lying in her  bed  and
smoking a cigarette  while she read a book. Curtis Hartman went on tiptoe to
the window and closed it  softly. He was horror stricken at the thought of a
woman smoking and trembled also to think that his eyes, just raised from the
pages  of the book  of God, had looked  upon the bare  shoulders  and  white
throat of  a  woman. With his brain in a  whirl he went down into the pulpit
and preached a  long sermon without once  thinking  of his  gestures or  his
voice. The sermon  attracted  unusual  attention  because  of its  power and
clearness. "I wonder if she is listening, if  my voice is carrying a message
into her soul," he thought  and began to hope that on future Sunday mornings
he  might  be  able  to say words  that would  touch  and awaken  the  woman
apparently far gone in secret sin.
     The house next  door to the Presbyterian Church, through the windows of
which the minister had seen the sight that had so upset him, was occupied by
two women. Aunt Elizabeth Swift, a grey competentlooking widow with money in
the Winesburg National  Bank,  lived there with her  daughter Kate  Swift, a
school teacher.  The  school  teacher was thirty years old and  had  a  neat
trim-looking  figure. She had few friends and bore  a reputation of having a
sharp tongue. When he began to think  about  her,  Curtis Hartman remembered
that  she had been to Europe and had lived for two  years in  New York City.
"Perhaps  after  all her  smoking means  nothing," he  thought. He began  to
remember that when he was a student in college and occasionally read novels,
good although somewhat worldly women, had smoked through the pages of a book
that  had once fallen into  his hands.  With a rush of new  determination he
worked  on his sermons all through the week and forgot, in his zeal to reach
the ears and the soul of  this  new listener, both his  embarrassment in the
pulpit and the necessity of prayer in the study on Sunday mornings.
     Reverend Hartman's  experience with women had been somewhat limited. He
was the  son  of a wagon maker from  Muncie, Indiana, and had worked his way
through college. The daughter of the underwear manufacturer had boarded in a
house  where he lived during his school days and he had married  her after a
formal and  prolonged courtship, carried on  for the  most part by  the girl
herself.  On  his marriage day  the  underwear  manufacturer  had given  his
daughter five thousand dollars and he promised  to leave her at  least twice
that  amount in  his  will.  The  minister had  thought himself fortunate in
marriage and had never permitted himself to think of other women. He did not
want  to think  of other  women. What he wanted was to do the  work  of  God
quietly and earnestly.
     In the soul of the minister a struggle awoke. From wanting to reach the
ears of Kate Swift, and through his sermons to delve into her soul, he began
to want also to look again at the figure  lying white and quiet  in the bed.
On a Sunday morning when he could not sleep because of his thoughts he arose
and went to walk  in the streets. When he had gone along Main  Street almost
to  the  old Richmond place he stopped and picking up  a stone rushed off to
the  room in the bell tower.  With the stone he broke  out  a corner of  the
window and then locked  the door and  sat  down at the  desk before the open
Bible to wait.  When the shade of the window to Kate Swift's room was raised
he  could see,  through  the  hole,  directly into her bed, but  she was not
there. She also had arisen and had gone for a walk and  the hand that raised
the shade was the hand of Aunt Elizabeth Swift.
     The minister almost wept with joy  at this  deliverance from the carnal
desire to  "peep"  and  went back to his own  house praising God. In an  ill
moment he forgot, however, to stop  the hole  in the  window. The  piece  of
glass  broken out at the  corner of the window just nipped off the bare heel
of  the boy  standing motionless and looking with rapt eyes into the face of
the Christ.
     Curtis Hartman forgot  his sermon on that Sunday  morning. He talked to
his congregation  and in his talk  said that it was a mistake for people  to
think of their minister as a man set  aside and intended by nature to lead a
blameless  life.  "Out of my  own experience  I know  that we,  who are  the
ministers of God's word, are beset by the same temptations that assail you,"
he declared. "I have  been tempted and have surrendered to temptation. It is
only  the  hand of God, placed beneath my head, that has raised me up. As he
has raised me so also will he raise you. Do not despair. In your hour of sin
raise your eyes to the skies and you will be again and again saved."
     Resolutely the minister put the thoughts of the woman in the bed out of
his mind and began to be something like a lover in the presence of his wife.
One evening when they drove out together he turned the horse out of  Buckeye
Street and in the darkness on  Gospel  Hill, above Waterworks Pond,  put his
arm about  Sarah Hartman's waist. When he had eaten breakfast in the morning
and was ready to retire to his study at the back of his house he went around
the table and kissed his wife on the cheek. When thoughts of Kate Swift came
into his head, he smiled and raised his eyes  to  the skies. "Intercede  for
me, Master," he muttered, "keep me in the narrow path intent on Thy work."
     And  now  began the real  struggle  in the soul  of  the  brown-bearded
minister. By chance he discovered  that Kate Swift was in the habit of lying
in her bed in the evenings  and reading a book. A  lamp stood on a table  by
the side of the bed and the light streamed down upon her white shoulders and
bare throat. On the evening  when he made the  discovery the minister sat at
the desk in the  dusty  room from nine until after eleven and when her light
was put out stumbled out  of the church to spend two more  hours walking and
praying in the streets. He did not want to kiss the shoulders and the throat
of Kate Swift and had not allowed his mind to dwell on such thoughts. He did
not know what he wanted. "I am God's child and he must save me from myself,"
he cried, in  the darkness under the trees as he wandered in the streets. By
a tree he stood and looked at the sky that was covered with hurrying clouds.
He began to talk to  God intimately  and  closely. "Please,  Father,  do not
forget me. Give me power to  go  tomorrow and repair the hole in the window.
Lift my eyes  again to the skies. Stay with  me, Thy servant, in his hour of
     Up and down through the silent streets walked the minister and for days
and weeks his soul was troubled. He could not understand the temptation that
had  come to him nor could he fathom the reason for its  coming. In a way he
began to blame God, saying to himself that  he had tried to keep his feet in
the true path and had not run about seeking sin. "Through my days as a young
man and all through  my  life here  I  have gone quietly about  my work," he
declared. "Why  now should I  be tempted? What have I  done that this burden
should be laid on me?"
     Three times  during  the  early  fall and  winter of  that  year Curtis
Hartman crept out of his  house to the room in the bell tower to sit  in the
darkness looking at the figure of Kate Swift lying in her bed and later went
to walk and pray in the  streets. He could not understand himself. For weeks
he  would  go  along  scarcely thinking of  the school  teacher and  telling
himself that he had  conquered the carnal  desire to look  at her body.  And
then  something would happen. As he  sat in the study of his own house, hard
at work on a sermon, he would become  nervous  and begin to walk up and down
the room. "I  will go out into the streets,"  he told himself and even as he
let  himself  in  at the church door he persistently denied  to himself  the
cause  of his being there.  "I will not repair the hole in the window  and I
will  train myself to come here  at night and sit  in  the presence  of this
woman without  raising my eyes. I will  not be defeated  in this  thing. The
Lord has devised this temptation as a test  of my  soul and I  will grope my
way out of darkness into the light of righteousness."
     One night in January  when it was bitter  cold and snow lay deep on the
streets of Winesburg Curtis Hartman paid his last  visit to  the room in the
bell  tower of the  church. It  was past nine  o'clock when he left  his own
house and he set out so hurriedly that he forgot to put on his overshoes. In
Main Street no one was abroad but Hop Higgins the night watchman  and in the
whole town  no one was awake but the  watchman and young George Willard, who
sat in the office of the Winesburg Eagle trying to write a story.  Along the
street to  the church  went  the minister,  plowing  through the  drifts and
thinking that this time he would utterly give way to sin. "I want to look at
the woman and to think of kissing her shoulders and I am going to let myself
think what I choose," he  declared bitterly and tears came into his eyes. He
began to think that he would get out of the ministry and try some other  way
of life. "I shall go to some  city and get into business,"  he declared. "If
my nature is such that I cannot resist sin, I shall give myself over to sin.
At least I shall  not be a hypocrite, preaching the word of God with my mind
thinking of the shoulders and neck of a woman who does not belong to me."
     It was cold in the room of the bell tower of the church on that January
night  and almost as soon as he came  into the room Curtis Hartman knew that
if he  stayed he would be ill. His feet were wet  from tramping in  the snow
and there was no fire. In the room in the house next door Kate Swift had not
yet appeared. With grim determination  the man sat down  to wait. Sitting in
the chair and gripping the edge of the desk on which lay the Bible he stared
into the darkness thinking the blackest thoughts of his life. He thought  of
his wife and for the moment  almost hated her. "She has always  been ashamed
of  passion  and  has cheated me," he  thought. "Man has a  right to  expect
living passion and beauty in a woman. He has no  right to  forget that he is
an animal and  in me there is something that is  Greek. I will throw off the
woman of my bosom and seek other women. I will besiege  this school teacher.
I will fly in the face of all men and if  I am a creature of carnal  lusts I
will live then for my lusts."
     The distracted man trembled from head to foot, partly from cold, partly
from the struggle in which he was engaged. Hours passed and a fever assailed
his body. His throat began to hurt and his teeth chattered. His  feet on the
study  floor felt like two cakes of ice. Still he would not give up. "I will
see this woman and will think the thoughts I have never  dared to think," he
told himself, gripping the edge of the desk and waiting.
     Curtis  Hartman came  near  dying  from the effects of  that  night  of
waiting in the church, and also he found in  the thing that happened what he
took to  be the way of life for him. On other evenings when he had waited he
had not been able  to see, through the little hole in the glass, any part of
the school  teacher's room except that occupied  by her bed. In the darkness
he had waited  until the woman suddenly appeared sitting in  the  bed in her
white nightrobe. When the light was turned  up she propped  herself up among
the' pillows and read a  book.  Sometimes  she smoked one of the cigarettes.
Only her bare shoulders and throat were visible.
     On the January night, after  he had come near dying with cold and after
his mind had two or three times actually  slipped  away into  an odd land of
fantasy so that he had by an  exercise of will power  to force  himself back
into consciousness, Kate Swift appeared.  In the room  next  door a lamp was
lighted and  the waiting man stared  into  an empty  bed. Then upon the  bed
before his eyes a  naked woman  threw herself. Lying  face downward she wept
and beat with  her fists upon  the pillow. With a final outburst of  weeping
she half  arose, and in the presence of the  man who  had waited to look and
not to think  thoughts the woman of sin began to pray. In the  lamplight her
figure, slim and  strong, looked like the figure of the boy  in the presence
of the Christ on the leaded window.
     Curtis Hartman never remembered  how  he got out of the church. With  a
cry he  arose,  dragging the  heavy desk along  the  floor. The Bible  fell,
making a great clatter in the silence. When the light in the house next door
went out he stumbled down the stairway and into the street. Along the street
he went and  ran in at the door of the Winesburg Eagle.  To George  Willard,
who was tramping up and down in the office undergoing a struggle of his own,
he began  to  talk  half incoherently.  "The ways of  God  are  beyond human
understanding,"  he cried, running in quickly and closing the door. He began
to advance upon the young  man, his eyes glowing and his voice ringing  with
fervor. "I have found  the light," he cried. "After ten  years in this town,
God has manifested himself to me in the body of a woman."  His voice dropped
and he began to whisper. "I did not understand," he said. "What I took to be
a trial of my  soul was  only  a  preparation for  a new  and more beautiful
fervor  of  the spirit. God  has appeared to me in the person of Kate Swift,
the  school teacher,  kneeling naked  on  a  bed.  Do  you know Kate  Swift?
Although she  may  not be aware of it, she is  an instrument of God, bearing
the message of truth."
     Reverend Curtis Hartman turned and  ran out of the office.  At the door
he stopped, and after looking up  and down the deserted street, turned again
to George  Willard. "I  am delivered.  Have no fear."  He held up a bleeding
fist  for  the young  man  to see. "I smashed  the glass of the  window," he
cried. "Now it  will have to be  wholly replaced. The strength of God was in
me and I broke it with my fist."

     SNOW LAY DEEP  in the streets of Winesburg. It had begun to snow  about
ten o'clock in  the morning and a wind sprang up and blew the snow in clouds
along Main Street.  The  frozen  mud  roads that  led into town  were fairly
smooth and in places ice  covered the mud. "There will  be good  sleighing,"
said Will Henderson, standing by the bar in Ed Griffith's saloon. Out of the
saloon he  went and met Sylvester West  the druggist stumbling along  in the
kind of  heavy overshoes called  arctics. "Snow will bring the  people  into
town  on Saturday,"  said  the druggist. The two men stopped  and  discussed
their affairs. Will Henderson, who had on a light overcoat and no overshoes,
kicked the heel of his left foot  with the toe of the  right. "Snow will  be
good for the wheat," observed the druggist sagely.
     Young  George Willard, who had nothing to do,  was  glad because he did
not feel like working that day. The  weekly paper had been printed and taken
to the post office Wednesday evening and the snow began to fall on Thursday.
At eight  o'clock, after  the  morning  train had  passed, he  put a pair of
skates in his  pocket and went up to Waterworks Pond but did not go skating.
Past the  pond  and along a path that followed Wine Creek  he went  until he
came to a grove of beech trees. There he built a fire  against the side of a
log and sat down at the end of the log to think. When the snow began to fall
and the wind to blow he hurried about getting fuel for the fire.
     The young reporter was thinking  of Kate Swift, who had  once  been his
school teacher. On the evening before he had gone to her house to get a book
she wanted him to  read  and had been  alone with  her  for an hour. For the
fourth or fifth time the woman had talked to  him with great earnestness and
he  could not make out  what she meant by her talk.  He began to believe she
must be in love with him and the thought was both pleasing and annoying.
     Up from the log he sprang and began to pile sticks on the fire. Looking
about  to be  sure  he was alone  he  talked aloud pretending he was in  the
presence of  the woman,  "Oh,, you're just letting on, you know you are," he
declared. "I am going to find out about you. You wait and see."
     The young man got  up and went back  along the path toward town leaving
the fire blazing in the wood. As  he went  through  the  streets the  skates
clanked in his pocket. In his  own room in the New  Willard House he built a
fire in the stove and lay  down on top  of the bed. He began to have lustful
thoughts and pulling down the shade of the window closed his eyes and turned
his  face  to the wall.  He took a  pillow  into  his arms  and embraced  it
thinking first of the school teacher, who by her words had stirred something
within him, and later of Helen White,  the slim daughter of the town banker,
with whom he had been for a long time half in love.
     By nine o'clock of that evening snow lay deep  in the streets  and  the
weather had become bitter cold. It was  difficult to walk about.  The stores
were dark and the people had crawled away to their houses. The evening train
from Cleveland  was very late but nobody  was interested in its  arrival. By
ten o'clock  all but four of the eighteen hundred citizens  of the town were
in bed.
     Hop Higgins, the night  watchman, was  partially awake. He was lame and
carried a heavy stick. On dark nights he carried a lantern. Between nine and
ten o'clock he went his rounds. Up  and down Main Street he stumbled through
the drifts trying the doors of the stores. Then he went  into  alleyways and
tried the back doors. Finding all tight he hurried around the corner to  the
New  Willard House and  beat on the door. Through the rest  of the  night he
intended to  stay by the  stove. "You go to bed. I'll keep the stove going,"
he said to the boy who slept on a cot in the hotel office.
     Hop Higgins sat down by the stove and took off his shoes. When the  boy
had gone to sleep he began to think of his own affairs. He intended to paint
his house in  the  spring and sat by the stove calculating the cost of paint
and labor. That  led  him  into other  calculations. The night  watchman was
sixty years old and wanted to retire. He had been a soldier in the Civil War
and drew  a  small  pension.  He hoped to  find some new method of making  a
living and aspired to  become a professional breeder of  ferrets. Already he
had four of the strangely shaped savage little creatures,  that  are used by
sportsmen in the pursuit of rabbits, in the cellar of his house. "Now I have
one male and three females," he mused. "If I am lucky by spring I shall have
twelve or fifteen.  In another year I shall  be  able to  begin  advertising
ferrets for sale in the sporting papers."
     The nightwatchman  settled into his chair and his mind became a  blank.
He  did  not sleep.  By years of practice he had trained himself to  sit for
hours through  the long  nights neither  asleep nor awake. In the morning he
was almost as refreshed as though he had slept.
     With Hop Higgins safely  stowed away in the chair behind the stove only
three people were awake in  Winesburg. George Willard was  in  the office of
the Eagle pretending to be at work on  the writing of a story but in reality
continuing the mood of the  morning  by  the fire  in  the wood. In the bell
tower of the Presbyterian Church the Reverend Curtis Hartman  was sitting in
the darkness preparing himself  for a  revelation from God, and  Kate Swift,
the school teacher, was leaving her house for a walk in the storm.
     It was  past ten  o'clock when  Kate  Swift set  out and the  walk  was
unpremeditated. It was  as though the  man and the boy, by thinking  of her,
had driven her forth into the  wintry streets. Aunt Elizabeth Swift had gone
to  the county seat concerning some business in connection with mortgages in
which she had  money invested and would not be back until the next day. By a
huge stove, called  a base burner, in the living room of  the house sat  the
daughter reading  a book. Suddenly  she sprang to her feet  and, snatching a
cloak from a rack by the front door, ran out of the house.
     At the age of thirty Kate Swift was not known in Winesburg as a  pretty
woman. Her  complexion was  not good and her face was covered with  blotches
that indicated  ill health. Alone in the night in the winter streets she was
lovely. Her back was straight,  her shoulders square,  and her features were
as the features of a tiny goddess on a pedestal in a garden in the dim light
of a summer evening.
     During the afternoon the school teacher had been to  see Doctor Welling
concerning her health. The doctor had scolded her  and had declared she  was
in danger of losing her hearing.  It was foolish for Kate Swift to be abroad
in the storm, foolish and perhaps dangerous.
     The woman in the  streets did not remember the words of  the doctor and
would not have turned back  had she remembered. She was very  cold but after
walking for five minutes no  longer minded  the cold. First she went  to the
end of her own street and then across a pair of hay scales set in the ground
before a feed barn and into Trunion Pike. Along Trunion Pike she went to Ned
Winters' barn and turning east followed a street  of low  frame  houses that
led over  Gospel Hill and  into Sucker Road that  ran down  a shallow valley
past  Ike Smead's chicken  farm to Waterworks  Pond. As she  went along, the
bold, excited mood that had driven her out of doors passed and then returned
     There  was  something  biting and  forbidding in the character  of Kate
Swift. Everyone felt it. In the schoolroom she was  silent, cold, and stern,
and yet  in  an  odd way  very close to  her pupils.  Once  in  a long while
something  seemed to  have come  over  her  and  she was happy.  All  of the
children in the schoolroom felt the effect of her happiness. For a time they
did not work but sat back in their chairs and looked at her.
     With hands clasped behind her  back the  school teacher  walked  up and
down in the schoolroom  and  talked  very rapidly. It did not seem to matter
what subject came into her mind. Once she talked  to the children of Charles
Lamb and made up strange, intimate little stories concerning the life of the
dead writer. The  stories were told  with the air of one  who had lived in a
house with Charles Lamb and knew all  the  secrets of his private  life. The
children were  somewhat confused, thinking Charles Lamb must  be someone who
had once lived in Winesburg.
     On another  occasion  the  teacher talked to the  children of Benvenuto
Cellini. That time they laughed. What a bragging, blustering, brave, lovable
fellow she  made of  the  old  artist!  Concerning  him  also  she  invented
anecdotes. There was one of a German music  teacher  who  had a  room  above
Cellini's lodgings  in the city of Milan that  made  the boys guffaw. Sugars
McNutts, a fat boy with red cheeks, laughed so hard that he became dizzy and
fell off his seat and  Kate Swift laughed with him. Then suddenly she became
again cold and stern.
     On the winter  night when she walked  through the deserted snow-covered
streets, a crisis had come  into the life of the school teacher. Although no
one  in  Winesburg  would  have  suspected   it,  her  life  had  been  very
adventurous.  It was  still adventurous.  Day by day  as  she worked  in the
schoolroom or  walked in the streets,  grief, hope, and desire fought within
her. Behind a cold exterior the most  extraordinary events transpired in her
mind. The people of the town thought of  her  as a  confirmed  old  maid and
because she  spoke sharply and  went her own  way thought her lacking in all
the human feeling  that did  so  much  to  make and  mar their own lives. In
reality  she was the most eagerly  passionate soul among them, and more than
once, in the five  years since  she had come back from her travels to settle
in Winesburg and  become a school teacher,  had been compelled  to go out of
the house  and walk half  through the night  fighting out some battle raging
within. Once on a night when it rained she had stayed out six hours and when
she came home had a quarrel with Aunt Elizabeth Swift. "I am glad you're not
a man," said the mother sharply. "More than once I've waited for your father
to come home, not knowing what new mess he  had got  into. I've had my share
of uncertainty and you cannot blame me  if  I do  not  want to see the worst
side of him reproduced in you."
     Kate  Swift's  mind  was  ablaze with thoughts  of  George  Willard. In
something he had written as a  school boy she thought she had recognized the
spark of genius and wanted to blow on the spark. One day in the  summer  she
had gone  to the Eagle office and finding the boy  unoccupied had  taken him
out Main  Street to the Fair Ground, where the two sat on  a grassy bank and
talked. The school teacher tried to bring home  to the mind of the boy  some
conception of the difficulties he would have  to face as a writer. "You will
have to know life," she  declared, and her voice  trembled with earnestness.
She took hold of George Willard's shoulders and turned him about so that she
could  look into  his  eyes.  A passer-by  might have thought  them about to
embrace. "If  you are to become a writer you'll  have to  stop  fooling with
words," she explained. "It would be better to give up  the notion of writing
until  you are better prepared. Now it's time to be living.  I don't want to
frighten you, but I would like to make you understand the import of what you
think  of attempting. You must not become a mere peddler of words. The thing
to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say."
     On the evening  before  that  stormy  Thursday night  when the Reverend
Curtis Hartman sat in the  bell tower of  the church  waiting to look at her
body, young Willard had gone  to visit the teacher and  to borrow a book. It
was then the thing happened  that confused  and puzzled the boy. He had  the
book under his arm and was preparing to depart. Again Kate Swift talked with
great earnestness. Night  was coming on and the light  in the room grew dim.
As he  turned to go she spoke his name softly and with an impulsive movement
took hold  of  his hand.  Because the  reporter was rapidly  becoming a  man
something of his  man's appeal,  combined  with  the winsomeness of the boy,
stirred  the  heart  of the  lonely  woman. A  passionate desire to have him
understand the import of life, to learn  to interpret it truly and honestly,
swept over her.  Leaning forward, her  lips brushed his  cheek.  At the same
moment he for the  first  time  became aware  of  the marked beauty  of  her
features. They were both embarrassed, and to  relieve her feeling she became
harsh  and domineering.  "What's  the  use? It will be ten years  before you
begin to understand what I mean when I talk to you," she cried passionately.
     On  the  night of the  storm  and while the  minister sat in the church
waiting for  her, Kate  Swift  went to the  office of  the  Winesburg Eagle,
intending to have another talk with the boy. After the long walk in the snow
she was cold, lonely, and tired. As she came through Main Street she saw the
fight from the printshop window shining on the snow and on an impulse opened
the door and went in. For an hour she sat by the stove in the office talking
of life. She talked with passionate earnestness. The impulse that had driven
her out  into the snow poured  itself out into talk. She became  inspired as
she  sometimes  did  in the presence of the  children  in  school.  A  great
eagerness to open  the door of life to the  boy, who had  been her pupil and
who  she thought might possess a  talent for the understanding of  life, had
possession  of  her. So strong  was her  passion that  it  became  something
physical. Again  her hands took  hold of  his  shoulders and she turned  him
about. In the  dim light her eyes blazed. She arose and laughed, not sharply
as was  customary with  her,  but  in a queer,  hesitating  way.  "I must be
going," she said. "In a moment, if I stay, I'll be wanting to kiss you."
     In the newspaper office a confusion arose. Kate Swift turned and walked
to the  door. She was  a teacher but she was also a  woman. As she looked at
George  Willard,  the passionate desire  to be  loved  by  a man, that had a
thousand  times before swept like a storm over her body, took possession  of
her. In the lamplight George Willard looked no longer a boy, but a man ready
to play the part of a man.
     The school teacher  let  George Willard take her into his arms. In  the
warm little office the air became  suddenly heavy and the strength  went out
of  her body. Leaning against a  low counter by the door she waited. When he
came and put a hand on her shoulder she turned and let her body fall heavily
against him. For George Willard the confusion was immediately increased. For
a moment he held the  body of the woman tightly against his body and then it
stiffened. Two sharp little fists began to beat on his face. When the school
teacher had  run away and  left him alone, he walked  up and down the office
swearing furiously.
     It was into this confusion  that the Reverend Curtis Hartman  protruded
himself.  When he came  in  George Willard thought the town  had  gone  mad.
Shaking a bleeding fist in the air, the minister proclaimed the woman George
had only  a moment before held in his arms  an instrument  of God  bearing a
message of truth.
     George blew out the  lamp  by the window  and locking the door  of  the
printshop went home. Through the hotel office, past Hop  Higgins lost in his
dream of the raising of ferrets, he  went and up into his own room. The fire
in the stove had gone out and he undressed in the cold. When he got into bed
the sheets were like blankets of dry snow.
     George  Willard  rolled  about in  the bed on  which  had lain  in  the
afternoon hugging the pillow and thinking thoughts of  Kate Swift. The words
of the minister, who he thought had  gone suddenly insane, rang in his ears.
His eyes stared about the room. The resentment, natural to the baffled male,
passed  and he  tried to understand what had happened. He  could not make it
out.  Over and  over  he turned the matter in  his mind. Hours passed and he
began to think it  must be time for another day  to come. At four o'clock he
pulled the covers up about his neck  and  tried  to sleep.  When  he  became
drowsy and closed his eyes, he raised a hand and with it groped about in the
darkness. "I have missed something. I have missed  something Kate  Swift was
trying to tell me," he muttered sleepily. Then he slept and in all Winesburg
he was the last soul on that winter night to go to sleep.

     HE WAS THE son of Mrs. Al Robinson who once owned a farm on a side road
leading off Trunion Pike,  east of Winesburg  and two miles beyond the  town
limits. The farmhouse was painted brown and the blinds to all of the windows
facing the road  were kept closed.  In  the road before the house a flock of
chickens, accompanied  by two guinea hens, lay in the deep dust. Enoch lived
in the house with his mother in those  days and when he was a young boy went
to  school  at the  Winesburg High School.  Old citizens remembered him as a
quiet,  smiling youth inclined to silence.  He walked in the  middle of  the
road when he  came into town and sometimes read a book. Drivers of teams had
to shout and  swear to make him realize  where he was so that  he would turn
out of the beaten track and let them pass.
     When  he was twenty-one years old Enoch went to New York City and was a
city  man  for fifteen  years. He studied French and went to  an art school,
hoping to develop  a faculty he had for  drawing. In his own mind he planned
to go to Paris and to finish his art education among  the masters there, but
that never turned out.
     Nothing ever turned  out for Enoch Robinson. He  could draw well enough
and he had  many odd delicate thoughts hidden  away in  his brain that might
have expressed themselves through the brush of a painter, but  he was always
a child and that was a handicap to his worldly development. He never grew up
and of course  he  couldn't  understand  people and he couldn't make  people
understand  him. The  child  in  him  kept  bumping  against things, against
actualities like money and sex and opinions. Once he was hit by a street car
and thrown against an iron post. That made him lame. It was  one of the many
things that kept things from turning out for Enoch Robinson
     In New York City, when he first went there to live and before he became
confused and disconcerted by the facts of life, Enoch went about a good deal
with  young men. He  got into  a group of  other young artists, both men and
women, and in the evenings they sometimes came  to  visit him  in  his room.
Once  he  got  drunk  and was taken  to  a  police station  where  a  police
magistrate frightened him horribly, and once he tried to have an affair with
a woman of the town met on  the sidewalk before his lodging house. The woman
and  Enoch walked together three blocks  and then the young man  grew afraid
and ran away. The woman had been drinking  and the incident  amused her. She
leaned  against the wall of a building and laughed so heartily  that another
man stopped  and  laughed  with  her.  The  two went  away  together,  still
laughing, and Enoch crept off to his room trembling and vexed.
     The room in  which young Robinson  lived  in New York  faced Washington
Square  and was long and  narrow like a hallway. It is important to get that
fixed in your mind. The story of Enoch is in fact the story of a room almost
more than it is the story of a man.
     And  so into  the room in the evening came young Enoch's friends. There
was  nothing particularly striking about them except that they were  artists
of the kind that talk. Everyone knows of the talking artists. Throughout all
of the known  history of the world  they have gathered in  rooms and talked.
They talk  of art and are passionately, almost feverishly, in  earnest about
it. They think it matters much more than it does.
     And so these people gathered and smoked cigarettes and talked and Enoch
Robinson, the boy from the farm near Winesburg, was there. He  stayed  in  a
corner and for  the most  part said nothing. How his big blue childlike eyes
stared about! On  the  walls were pictures he  had made, crude  things, half
finished.  His friends talked of these. Leaning back in  their chairs,  they
talked and talked  with their  heads rocking from side  to  side. Words were
said about line  and values and composition, lots  of  words,  such  as  are
always being said.
     Enoch wanted to talk too but he didn't know how. He was  too excited to
talk  coherently. When  he tried  he sputtered and stammered  and his  voice
sounded strange and squeaky to him. That made him stop talking. He knew what
he wanted  to say,  but he knew also that he could  never by any possibility
say it. When  a  picture he  had painted  was under discussion, he wanted to
burst out  with something like this: "You don't get the point," he wanted to
explain; "the picture you see doesn't consist of the things you see and  say
words  about.  There is  something  else, something  you don't  see  at all,
something you aren't intended to see.  Look at this  one  over here, by  the
door here, where the light from the window falls on it. The dark spot by the
road that  you might  not  notice  at  all  is, you  see,  the  beginning of
everything. There is a clump of elders there such as used to grow beside the
road before our house back in Winesburg, Ohio, and in among the elders there
is something hidden. It is a  woman, that's what it is. She  has been thrown
from a horse and the horse has run away out of sight. Do you not see how the
old man who drives a cart looks anxiously about? That  is Thad Grayback  who
has  a  farm up the  road. He is  taking corn to Winesburg to be ground into
meal at  Comstock's  mill.  He knows  there  is  something  in  the  elders,
something hidden away, and yet he doesn't quite know.
     "It's a woman you see, that's what it is!  It's a woman and, oh, she is
lovely! She is hurt and  is suffering but she makes no  sound. Don't you see
how it is? She lies quite still,  white and still,  and the beauty comes out
from her and  spreads over everything. It is in  the sky back there  and all
around everywhere. I didn't try to paint the woman, of  course.  She  is too
beautiful  to  be painted. How dull to  talk of composition and such things!
Why do you not look at the sky and then run away  as I used to do when I was
a boy back there in Winesburg, Ohio?"
     That is  the kind  of thing young Enoch Robinson trembled to say to the
guests who came into his room  when he was a young fellow in New  York City,
but  he always ended by saying nothing. Then he began to doubt his own mind.
He was afraid the things he  felt were not getting expressed in the pictures
he painted. In a half indignant  mood he  stopped  inviting people  into his
room and presently got into the habit of locking the door. He began to think
that  enough people had visited  him, that he did not need  people any more.
With quick  imagination he began to invent  his own people to whom  he could
really  talk and to  whom he  explained  the things he had  been  unable  to
explain  to living people. His room began to be inhabited  by the spirits of
men and women among whom he went, in his turn saying words. It was as though
everyone Enoch Robinson  had  ever seen had left with  him some  essence  of
himself,  something  he  could mould  and  change  to  suit  his own  fancy,
something that understood all about such things  as the wounded woman behind
the elders in the pictures.
     The mild,  blue-eyed  young Ohio boy was  a complete  egotist,  as  all
children are egotists. He did  not want friends for  the quite simple reason
that  no  child wants friends. He wanted  most of all the people  of his own
mind, people with  whom he could really talk, people  he could harangue  and
scold  by the hour, servants, you  see, to his  fancy. Among these people he
was always  self-confident and  bold. They might talk, to be  sure, and even
have opinions of their own, but always he  talked last and best. He was like
a writer busy  among the figures of his brain, a kind of tiny blue-eyed king
he was, in  a  sixdollar room facing Washington Square  in  the city  of New
     Then Enoch  Robinson got married. He began to get lonely and to want to
touch  actual flesh-andbone people with his hands. Days passed when his room
seemed empty.  Lust visited his body  and  desire grew in his mind. At night
strange fevers, burning within, kept him awake. He married a girl who sat in
a chair next  to his own in the art school and  went to live in an apartment
house in Brooklyn. Two children were born to the woman he married, and Enoch
got a job in a place where illustrations are made for advertisements.
     That  began another  phase  of Enoch's  life. He began to play at a new
game. For  a while  he was very  proud of himself in the  role of  producing
citizen  of the  world. He dismissed the  essence of things and played  with
realities. In the fall he voted at an election and he had a newspaper thrown
on his porch each morning. When in the evening he came home from work he got
off a streetcar and walked sedately along behind some business man, striving
to  look very substantial and important.  As a payer of taxes he thought  he
should post  himself  on  how  things  are  run. "I'm getting  to be of some
moment, a real part of things, of the state and the  city  and all that," he
told  himself with  an amusing miniature air of  dignity. Once,  coming home
from Philadelphia,  he had a discussion  with  a  man  met on a train. Enoch
talked about the advisability of the government's  owning  and operating the
railroads and the  man  gave him a cigar. It  was Enoch's notion that such a
move on the part  of the government would be a good thing, and he grew quite
excited  as he talked.  Later he remembered his own words with  pleasure. "I
gave him something to  think  about, that fellow," he muttered to himself as
he climbed the stairs to his Brooklyn apartment.
     To be sure, Enoch's marriage did not turn out. He himself brought it to
an end. He began to feel choked and walled in by the  life in the apartment,
and to  feel toward his  wife  and even  toward his children  as he had felt
concerning the friends who once came to  visit him. He began to tell  little
lies about business engagements that would give him freedom to walk alone in
the street at night and, the chance offering, he secretly re-rented the room
facing Washington  Square.  Then  Mrs. Al Robinson  died on  the  farm  near
Winesburg, and he got  eight  thousand  dollars from  the bank that acted as
trustee of her estate. That  took Enoch out of the world of  men altogether.
He  gave the  money to  his  wife and  told  her he could not  live  in  the
apartment any  more. She  cried  and was  angry and threatened,  but he only
stared at her and went his own way. In reality the wife  did not  care much.
She  thought Enoch  slightly insane and was  a little afraid of him. When it
was quite sure that he  would never come back, she took the two children and
went to a village in Connecticut where she  had lived as a girl. In  the end
she married a man who bought and sold real estate and was contented enough.
     And so Enoch Robinson stayed in the New York room among  the  people of
his  fancy, playing with them, talking to them,  happy as a child is  happy.
They were an odd lot, Enoch's people. They were made, I suppose, out of real
people he  had seen and  who had for some obscure  reason made an appeal  to
him. There was  a woman with  a sword  in her hand, an old man with  a  long
white beard who went about followed  by a dog, a young girl  whose stockings
were always coming down and hanging over her shoe tops. There must have been
two  dozen of  the  shadow  people,  invented by  the  child-mind  of  Enoch
Robinson, who lived in the room with him.
     And Enoch was happy. Into the room he went and locked the door. With an
absurd  air  of  importance  he talked  aloud,  giving  instructions, making
comments on life.  He was happy  and satisfied to go on making his living in
the advertising  place  until  something happened.  Of course something  did
happen. That is why he went back to live in  Winesburg and why we know about
him. The  thing that happened was a woman. It would be that way. He  was too
happy. Something had  to come into his world. Something had to drive him out
of the  New York room to live out his life an obscure, jerky little  figure,
bobbing up and down on the streets  of an Ohio town  at evening when the sun
was going down behind the roof of Wesley Moyer's livery barn.
     About the thing that happened. Enoch told George Willard about  it  one
night.  He  wanted  to  talk  to  someone, and he  chose the young newspaper
reporter because the two  happened to  be thrown together at a time when the
younger man was in a mood to understand.
     Youthful sadness, young man's  sadness, the sadness of a growing boy in
a village at the year's end, opened the lips of the old man. The sadness was
in the  heart of George Willard and was without meaning,  but it appealed to
Enoch Robinson.
     It  rained on the evening  when the  two met and  talked, a drizzly wet
October rain. The  fruition of the  year had come and the night  should have
been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the
air,  but  it wasn't that way. It  rained and little puddles of  water shone
under the street lamps on Main  Street. In the woods in the darkness  beyond
the Fair Ground water  dripped from the black  trees. Beneath the  trees wet
leaves were  pasted  against  tree roots that protruded from  the ground. In
gardens back of houses in Winesburg dry shriveled potato vines lay sprawling
on the ground. Men who had finished the  evening meal and who had planned to
go uptown to talk the evening away with other men at the back  of some store
changed their minds. George Willard tramped about in  the rain and was  glad
that it rained. He felt that way. He was like Enoch Robinson on the evenings
when  the old man came  down  out of  his room  and  wandered alone  in  the
streets.  He was like that only that George Willard had  become a tall young
man and did  not think it manly to weep and carry on. For a month his mother
had  been very ill  and  that had something to do with his sadness,  but not
much. He thought about himself and to the young that always brings sadness.
     Enoch  Robinson and George Willard  met  beneath a  wooden  awning that
extended out over the  sidewalk before Voight's wagon shop  on Maumee Street
just off the main street of Winesburg. They went together from there through
the  rain-washed streets to the older man's room on the  third floor of  the
Heffner  Block. The  young reporter  went  willingly enough.  Enoch Robinson
asked  him to  go after  the two had talked for ten minutes. The  boy was  a
little  afraid but  had never been more curious in his life. A hundred times
he had heard the old man spoken of as a little  off his  head and he thought
himself rather brave and manly to go at all. From the very beginning, in the
street in the rain, the old man  talked  in a queer way, trying  to tell the
story of the room in Washington Square  and of his life in the room. "You'll
understand  if you try hard enough," he said conclusively. "I have looked at
you when you went past me on the  street and  I think you can understand. It
isn't hard.  All you have to  do is  to believe what I say, just  listen and
believe, that's all there is to it."
     It was past eleven  o'clock  that  evening  when old  Enoch, talking to
George Willard in the  room in the Heffner Block,  came to  the vital thing,
the story of the woman and of what drove him out of the city to live out his
life alone and defeated in Winesburg. He sat on a cot by the window with his
head in  his  hand and George Willard was in  a chair by a table. A kerosene
lamp  sat on the table and the room, although almost bare  of furniture, was
scrupulously  clean. As the man talked  George Willard began to feel that he
would like to get out of the chair and sit on the cot also. He wanted to put
his arms  about the little old man. In the half darkness the man talked  and
the boy listened, filled with sadness.
     "She got to coming in there after there hadn't been  anyone in the room
for years," said Enoch Robinson. "She saw me in the hallway of the house and
we got  acquainted. I don't know  just what she did in her own room. I never
went there. I think she  was  a musician and played a violin.  Every now and
then she came and knocked at  the door and I  opened it. In she came and sat
down beside me, just sat and looked about and said nothing. Anyway, she said
nothing that mattered."
     The  old man arose from the cot and moved about the room. The  overcoat
he wore was wet from  the  rain and drops  of water kept falling with a soft
thump on the floor. When he again sat upon the cot George Willard got out of
the chair and sat beside him.
     "I had a feeling about her. She  sat there in the room with me and  she
was too big for the room. I felt that  she was driving everything else away.
We just talked of little things, but I couldn't sit still. I wanted to touch
her with my fingers and to kiss  her. Her hands were so strong  and her face
was so good and she looked at me all the time."
     The trembling voice of the old man became silent and his body  shook as
from a chill. "I was afraid," he whispered. "I was terribly afraid. I didn't
want to let her  come in when she knocked at the  door  but I  couldn't  sit
still. 'No, no,' I said to myself, but I got up and opened the door just the
same. She was so grown up, you see. She was a  woman. I thought she would be
bigger than I was there in that room."
     Enoch  Robinson stared  at George  Willard,  his  childlike  blue  eyes
shining  in the lamplight. Again he shivered. "I wanted her and all the time
I didn't want her," he explained. "Then I began to tell her about my people,
about everything that meant anything  to me. I tried to keep quiet,  to keep
myself to  myself, but I  couldn't. I felt just  as I did  about opening the
door. Sometimes I ached to have her go away and never come back any more."
     The old man sprang to  his  feet and  his voice shook  with excitement.
"One night something happened. I became mad to make her understand me and to
know what a big thing I was in that room. I wanted her to  see how important
I was. I told her over and over. When she tried to go away, I ran and locked
the door. I followed her about. I talked and talked and then all of a sudden
things  went  to  smash. A look  came into  her eyes  and  I  knew  she  did
understand. Maybe she had understood all the time. I was furious. I couldn't
stand it. I wanted  her to understand but, don't you see, I couldn't let her
understand.  I felt that  then  she would  know everything, that  I would be
submerged, drowned out, you see. That's how it is. I don't know why."
     The  old man  dropped into  a chair by the lamp and  the  boy listened,
filled  with awe. "Go away, boy," said the man. "Don't stay here with me any
more. I thought it might be a good thing  to tell you but it  isn't. I don't
want to talk any more. Go away."
     George  Willard  shook  his  head  and a  note of command came into his
voice. "Don't stop now. Tell me the rest of it," he commanded sharply. "What
happened? Tell me the rest of the story."
     Enoch Robinson sprang  to his feet and  ran  to  the window that looked
down into the deserted main street of Winesburg. George Willard followed. By
the window  the two  stood, the  tall awkward boyman and the little wrinkled
man-boy. The childish,  eager  voice  carried forward the tale. "I swore  at
her," he explained. "I said vile words. I ordered her  to go away and not to
come  back. Oh,  I  said  terrible things.  At  first  she  pretended not to
understand but I kept at it. I screamed and stamped on the floor. I made the
house ring with my curses. I didn't want ever  to see her again and I  knew,
after some of the things I said, that I never would see her again."
     The  old man's voice  broke and  he shook  his  head. "Things  went  to
smash," he said quietly and  sadly. "Out she  went through the door  and all
the life there had been  in the room  followed  her out. She took  all of my
people away. They all went out through the door after her. That's the way it
     George  Willard  turned and  went out  of Enoch Robinson's room. In the
darkness  by the window, as he went through the door, he could hear the thin
old voice whimpering and  complaining. "I'm alone, all alone here," said the
voice. "It was warm and friendly in my room but now I'm all alone."

     BELLE CARPENTER  had  a  dark skin, grey  eyes, and thick lips. She was
tall and strong. When black thoughts visited  her she  grew angry and wished
she  were a man and  could fight  someone with her  fists. She worked in the
millinery shop kept by Mrs. Kate McHugh and during the day sat trimming hats
by  a window  at the  rear  of the  store. She  was the  daughter  of  Henry
Carpenter, bookkeeper in  the First National  Bank  of  Winesburg, and lived
with him in  a gloomy old  house far out at the end of Buckeye  Street.  The
house was surrounded by pine trees and there was no grass beneath the trees.
A rusty tin  eaves-trough had slipped from its fastenings at the back of the
house  and when the wind blew it beat  against  the roof  of a  small  shed,
making a  dismal  drumming  noise  that  sometimes persisted all through the
     When  she was a young girl Henry Carpenter  made life almost unbearable
for Belle, but as she emerged from girlhood into womanhood he lost his power
over  her.  The  bookkeeper's  life  was   made  up  of  innumerable  little
pettinesses. When  he went  to  the bank in  the morning  he stepped into  a
closet and put on  a black alpaca  coat that  had become shabby with age. At
night  when he returned to his  home he  donned  another  black alpaca coat.
Every evening he pressed the clothes worn in the streets. He had invented an
arrangement of boards for  the purpose. The trousers to his street suit were
placed between the  boards and  the boards were clamped together with  heavy
screws. In  the morning he wiped the boards with a damp cloth and stood them
upright behind the dining room door. If they were moved  during  the day  he
was speechless with anger and did not recover his equilibrium for a week.
     The bank cashier  was a little bully and was afraid  of  his  daughter.
She, he realized, knew the story  of his brutal treatment of her mother  and
hated him for it.  One day she went home  at noon  and carried a  handful of
soft mud, taken from the road, into the house.  With the mud she smeared the
face of the boards  used for the pressing of trousers and then went back  to
her work feeling relieved and happy.
     Belle  Carpenter  occasionally walked  out  in the  evening with George
Willard. Secretly she loved another man, but her love affair, about which no
one knew, caused her much anxiety. She was in love with Ed Handby, bartender
in Ed Griffith's Saloon, and went about with the young reporter as a kind of
relief  to her  feelings. She did not  think that her  station in life would
permit her to be seen in the company of the bartender and walked about under
the trees with George Willard and let him kiss her to relieve a longing that
was very insistent in her nature.  She felt that she could keep the  younger
man within bounds. About Ed Handby she was somewhat uncertain.
     Handby, the bartender, was a tall, broad-shouldered  man  of thirty who
lived in a room upstairs above Griffith's  saloon.  His fists were large and
his  eyes unusually small, but his voice, as though  striving to conceal the
power back of his fists, was soft and quiet.
     At twenty-five the  bartender had inherited  a large farm from an uncle
in Indiana.  When sold, the farm brought in eight thousand dollars, which Ed
spent in  six months. Going to  Sandusky, on Lake Erie, he began an orgy  of
dissipation, the  story of which afterward filled his home  town  with  awe.
Here and there he went throwing  the money about, driving  carriages through
the streets, giving wine  parties to crowds  of men and women, playing cards
for high stakes and keeping mistresses whose wardrobes cost him hundreds  of
dollars. One night at a resort called Cedar Point, he got  into a fight  and
ran amuck like a  wild  thing. With his fist he  broke a large mirror in the
wash  room of  a  hotel  and later  went about smashing windows and breaking
chairs in dance  halls for the joy of hearing the glass rattle  on the floor
and seeing the terror in the  eyes of  clerks  who had come from Sandusky to
spend the evening at the resort with their sweethearts.
     The  affair between  Ed  Handby  and  Belle  Carpenter on  the  surface
amounted to  nothing. He had succeeded in  spending but  one evening  in her
company. On that evening he hired a horse and buggy at Wesley Moyer's livery
barn and took her  for a drive.  The  conviction  that she was the woman his
nature demanded and that he must get her settled upon him and he told her of
his desires. The bartender was ready  to marry and  to begin trying to  earn
money  for the  support of his  wife,  but  so simple was his nature that he
found it  difficult  to explain his intentions. His body ached with physical
longing and with his body he expressed himself. Taking the milliner into his
arms  and holding her tightly in spite of her struggles, he kissed her until
she became helpless. Then he brought her back to town and let her out of the
buggy. "When  I get  hold of you again I'll not  let you go.  You can't play
with me," he declared as he turned to drive away.  Then, jumping out of  the
buggy, he  gripped her  shoulders with his strong hands.  "I'll keep you for
good the next time," he said.  "You might as well make up your mind to that.
It's you and me for it and I'm going to have you before I get through."
     One night in January when there was a new moon George  Willard, who was
in Ed Handby's mind the only  obstacle to his getting  Belle Carpenter, went
for a  walk.  Early that evening George went into Ransom Surbeck's pool room
with Seth Richmond and Art Wilson,  son of  the  town butcher. Seth Richmond
stood with his back against the wall and remained silent, but George Willard
talked. The pool room  was filled  with Winesburg boys  and  they  talked of
women. The young reporter got into that vein. He said that women should look
out  for  themselves, that  the  fellow who went out  with  a girl  was  not
responsible for what happened. As  he  talked he  looked  about,  eager  for
attention.  He held the floor  for five minutes and then Art Wilson began to
talk. Art was learning the barber's trade in Cal  Prouse's shop  and already
began to consider  himself an authority  in such matters as  baseball, horse
racing, drinking,  and going about with women. He began  to tell of  a night
when he with two men from Winesburg went into a house of prostitution at the
county  seat. The butcher's son held a cigar in the side of his mouth and as
he talked spat  on the floor. "The women in the place  couldn't embarrass me
although they tried hard enough," he boasted. "One of the girls in the house
tried  to get fresh, but I fooled her. As soon  as she began  to talk I went
and sat in her lap. Everyone in the room laughed when I kissed her. I taught
her to let me alone."
     George Willard went out of the pool room and into Main Street. For days
the  weather had been bitter  cold with a high wind blowing down on the town
from Lake Erie, eighteen miles to the  north, but on that night the wind had
died  away and a new moon made the  night unusually lovely. Without thinking
where  he was going or what he wanted  to do, George went out of Main Street
and began walking in dimly lighted streets filled with frame houses.
     Out  of  doors under  the black sky  filled  with  stars he  forgot his
companions of the pool room. Because it was  dark and he was  alone he began
to talk aloud. In a spirit of  play he reeled along the  street  imitating a
drunken man and then imagined himself  a soldier clad in shining  boots that
reached  to the knees and wearing  a sword  that  jingled as he walked. As a
soldier he pictured  himself as an inspector, passing before a long  line of
men who stood  at attention. He  began  to examine the  accoutrements of the
men.  Before a  tree he stopped and began  to scold. "Your pack  is  not  in
order," he  said  sharply.  "How  many  times will I have  to  speak of this
matter? Everything must be in order here. We have a difficult task before us
and no difficult task can be done without order."
     Hypnotized by his own words, the  young man  stumbled along  the  board
sidewalk saying more words. "There is a  law for armies and for men too," he
muttered, lost in reflection. "The law begins with little things and spreads
out until  it covers everything. In every little thing  there must be order,
in the place  where men work, in their clothes,  in their thoughts. I myself
must  be orderly.  I must learn that  law. I must get myself into touch with
something orderly and big  that  swings through the night like a star. In my
little way I must  begin to learn something, to give and swing and work with
life, with the law."
     George Willard stopped by a  picket  fence near  a street lamp  and his
body began to tremble. He had never before thought such thoughts as had just
come into  his head and he wondered where they had come from. For the moment
it seemed to him that  some voice outside of himself had been talking as  he
walked. He was amazed and delighted  with his own mind and when he walked on
again spoke of the matter with fervor. "To come out of Ransom Surbeck's pool
room and think  things like that," he  whispered. "It is better to be alone.
If  I talked like Art  Wilson the boys would understand me but they wouldn't
understand what I've been thinking down here."
     In  Winesburg, as in  all Ohio towns  of twenty years  ago, there was a
section  in  which lived day laborers.  As the time of factories had not yet
come,  the  laborers worked in the  fields or  were  section  hands  on  the
railroads. They worked  twelve hours a day and  received  one dollar for the
long  day  of  toil. The  houses  in which  they  lived  were  small cheaply
constructed wooden affairs with a  garden at the  back. The more comfortable
among them kept cows  and perhaps a pig, housed in a little shed at the rear
of the garden.
     With his head filled with resounding  thoughts, George  Willard  walked
into such a street on the clear January night. The  street was dimly lighted
and in places there was  no  sidewalk. In the scene that lay about him there
was something that excited his already aroused fancy. For a year he had been
devoting all of his odd moments to the reading of books and now some tale he
had read concerning fife in old world  towns of the middle ages came sharply
back to his mind so that he stumbled forward with the curious feeling of one
revisiting  a  place that had been a  part of some  former  existence. On an
impulse he turned  out of  the street and  went into a little  dark alleyway
behind the sheds in which lived the cows and pigs.
     For a half hour he stayed in the alleyway, smelling the strong smell of
animals too closely  housed and  letting  his mind play with the strange new
thoughts that came to  him. The very rankness  of the smell of manure in the
clear sweet air awoke something  heady  in his brain. The poor little houses
lighted  by kerosene lamps, the smoke from the chimneys mounting straight up
into  the clear air, the  grunting of  pigs, the women clad  in cheap calico
dresses and washing dishes in the kitchens, the footsteps  of men coming out
of the houses and going off to the stores and saloons  of  Main Street,  the
dogs barking and the children crying--all of  these things made him seem, as
he lurked in the darkness, oddly detached and apart from all life.
     The excited young man,  unable to bear the weight of  his own thoughts,
began  to move  cautiously along the alleyway. A dog attacked him and had to
be  driven  away with stones, and a man appeared  at the  door of one of the
houses and swore at the dog. George went into a vacant lot and throwing back
his head looked up at  the  sky. He felt unutterably big  and remade  by the
simple experience through which he had been  passing and in a kind of fervor
of emotion put up his hands, thrusting them into the darkness above his head
and muttering words. The desire to say words overcame him and he  said words
without meaning, rolling them  over on his tongue and  saying  them  because
they were  brave  words, full of meaning.  "Death," he muttered, night,  the
sea, fear, loveliness."
     George  Willard  came  out of the vacant  lot and stood  again  on  the
sidewalk facing the  houses. He  felt that all of the people  in the  little
street must be brothers and sisters to him  and he wished he had the courage
to call  them  out of their houses  and to shake their hands. "If there were
only a woman here I  would take hold of her hand and we would  run until  we
were both tired out," he thought. "That would make me feel better." With the
thought of a woman in  his mind he walked out of  the street and went toward
the house where Belle  Carpenter lived. He thought  she would understand his
mood and that he could achieve in her  presence a  position he had long been
wanting to achieve. In the past when he had been with her and had kissed her
lips he had come away filled  with anger  at  himself.  He had felt like one
being used for some  obscure purpose and had not enjoyed the feeling. Now he
thought he had suddenly become too big to be used.
     When  George  got to Belle Carpenter's house  there had already  been a
visitor there before him. Ed Handby had come to  the door and  calling Belle
out of the house had tried to talk to her. He had wanted to ask the woman to
come away with him and  to be his wife,  but  when she came and stood by the
door he lost his self-assurance  and became sullen. "You stay away from that
kid,"  he  growled, thinking  of George  Willard, and then, not knowing what
else to say, turned to go  away. "If I catch you together  I will break your
bones and  his  too," he  added.  The  bartender  had come  to  woo, not  to
threaten, and was angry with himself because of his failure.
     When  her  lover  had  departed Belle went indoors  and  ran  hurriedly
upstairs. From  a window  at the upper part of the house she  saw  Ed Handby
cross the  street and  sit  down on  a horse block  before the  house  of  a
neighbor. In the dim light the  man sat motionless holding  his head  in his
hands. She was made happy by the sight, and when George  Willard came to the
door  she greeted him effusively and hurriedly put on her  hat. She  thought
that, as  she walked through the streets with young Willard, Ed Handby would
follow and she wanted to make him suffer.
     For  an hour  Belle Carpenter and the young reporter walked about under
the trees in the sweet night air. George Willard was full of big  words. The
sense of power that had come to  him during the hour in the  darkness in the
alleyway remained  with him and  he  talked  boldly,  swaggering  along  and
swinging his arms about. He  wanted to make  Belle Carpenter realize that he
was aware of his former weakness and that he  had changed.  "You'll find  me
different," he declared, thrusting his hands into  his  pockets and  looking
boldly into her eyes. "I don't know why but it is so. You've got to take  me
for a man or let me alone. That's how it is."
     Up and down the quiet streets under the new moon went the woman and the
boy. When George  had  finished talking they  turned down a  side street and
went across a  bridge into a path that ran up the side of  a hill.  The hill
began at Waterworks Pond and climbed upward  to  the Winesburg Fair Grounds.
On the hillside grew dense bushes  and small trees and among the bushes were
little open spaces carpeted with long grass, now stiff and frozen.
     As he walked behind the woman  up the hill George Willard's heart began
to beat  rapidly and his shoulders  straightened. Suddenly he  decided  that
Belle Carpenter was about to surrender herself to him.  The  new  force that
had manifested itself in him had, he felt, been at work upon her and had led
to her conquest. The thought made him half drunk with the sense of masculine
power. Although he had  been annoyed that as they walked about she  had  not
seemed to be listening  to his words, the fact that she had  accompanied him
to  this place  took  all his  doubts away. "It is different. Everything has
become different,"  he thought and taking hold  of her shoulder  turned  her
about and stood looking at her, his eyes shining with pride.
     Belle Carpenter did not resist. When he kissed her upon  the  lips  she
leaned heavily against him and looked over  his shoulder into  the darkness.
In her whole  attitude there was  a suggestion of waiting. Again, as  in the
alleyway, George Willard's  mind ran off  into words and,  holding the woman
tightly he whispered the  words into the still night. "Lust,"  he whispered,
"lust and night and women."
     George Willard did not understand what  happened  to him that  night on
the hillside. Later, when he got to his own room, he wanted to weep and then
grew half insane with anger  and hate. He hated Belle Carpenter and was sure
that all his  life he would continue to hate her. On the hillside he had led
the woman to one of the little open spaces among the bushes  and had dropped
to his knees beside her.  As in the vacant lot,  by the laborers' houses, he
had  put up his  hands  in gratitude for the new  power in himself  and  was
waiting for the woman to speak when Ed Handby appeared.
     The bartender did not want to beat the boy, who he thought had tried to
take his woman away. He knew that beating was unnecessary, that he had power
within himself  to accomplish his  purpose without using his fists. Gripping
George  by the  shoulder  and pulling him to his feet,  he held him with one
hand while he  looked  at Belle Carpenter seated  on the grass. Then with  a
quick wide movement of his arm  he sent the younger man sprawling away  into
the bushes and began to bully the woman, who had  risen to her feet. "You're
no good," he said roughly. "I've half a mind not to bother with you. I'd let
you alone if I didn't want you so much."
     On his hands and knees in the bushes George Willard stared at the scene
before him and tried hard to think. He prepared to spring at the man who had
humiliated him. To be beaten seemed to be infinitely better than to be  thus
hurled ignominiously aside.
     Three  times the young  reporter sprang at Ed Handby and each  time the
bartender, catching him  by the  shoulder,  hurled him back into the bushes.
The  older man seemed prepared to  keep the exercise going  indefinitely but
George Willard's  head struck the root of a tree and  he lay still. Then  Ed
Handby took Belle Carpenter by the arm and marched her away.
     George heard the man and woman making their way through the bushes.  As
he crept down the  hillside his heart was sick  within him. He hated himself
and he hated the fate that had brought about his humiliation. When his  mind
went  back to the hour alone in the alleyway he was puzzled and  stopping in
the darkness listened, hoping to hear  again the  voice outside himself that
had  so  short  a time before put new courage  into  his heart. When his way
homeward led him again into the street of frame houses he could not bear the
sight and  began to run, wanting to get quickly out of the neighborhood that
now seemed to him utterly squalid and commonplace.

     FROM HIS SEAT on a box in the rough board  shed that stuck  like a burr
on the  rear of Cowley  & Son's store in Winesburg, Elmer Cowley, the junior
member of the firm, could see through a dirty  window into the  printshop of
the Winesburg Eagle.  Elmer was putting new shoelaces in his shoes. They did
not go in readily and he had  to take the shoes  off. With the  shoes in his
hand he sat looking at  a  large  hole  in the heel of one of his stockings.
Then looking  quickly up he saw George Willard,  the only newspaper reporter
in Winesburg, standing at  the back door of  the Eagle printshop and staring
absentmindedly about. "Well,  well, what next!" exclaimed the young man with
the shoes  in his  hand,  jumping  to his  feet  and creeping away from  the
     A flush crept into Elmer Cowley's face and his hands  began to tremble.
In Cowley & Son's store  a Jewish  traveling salesman  stood  by the counter
talking to his  father.  He  imagined the reporter could hear what was being
said and the thought made him furious. With one of  the  shoes still held in
his hand he stood in a corner of the shed and stamped with a stockinged foot
upon the board floor.
     Cowley &  Son's store  did not  face the  main street of Winesburg. The
front was on Maumee Street and beyond it was Voight's wagon shop and a  shed
for  the  sheltering  of farmers' horses.  Beside the store an alleyway  ran
behind the  main street stores and all day drays and delivery wagons, intent
on bringing in and taking out goods,  passed  up and down.  The store itself
was indescribable. Will Henderson once said  of it that  it  sold everything
and  nothing. In the window  facing Maumee  Street stood a chunk of coal  as
large as  an apple  barrel, to indicate that orders for coal were taken, and
beside the black mass of the coal stood three combs of honey grown brown and
dirty in their wooden frames.
     The honey had stood in the store window for six months. It was for sale
as were also the coat hangers, patent suspender buttons, cans of roof paint,
bottles of rheumatism cure, and a substitute for coffee that companioned the
honey in its patient willingness to serve the public.
     Ebenezer Cowley, the man who stood in the store listening to  the eager
patter of words that fell  from the lips of the  traveling man, was tall and
lean and  looked  unwashed. On his  scrawny  neck was a  large wen partially
covered  by  a grey beard.  He  wore a long Prince Albert coat. The coat had
been purchased to serve as a  wedding  garment. Before he became a  merchant
Ebenezer was a farmer and after his marriage he wore  the Prince Albert coat
to church on Sundays  and on  Saturday afternoons when he came into  town to
trade.  When  he  sold  the  farm to become  a  merchant he  wore  the  coat
constantly. It had become brown with  age and was covered with grease spots,
but in it Ebenezer always felt dressed up and ready for the day in town.
     As a  merchant Ebenezer was not happily placed in life and  he  had not
been happily placed as a farmer. Still he existed. His family, consisting of
a daughter named Mabel and the  son, lived with him in rooms above the store
and  it did not cost them much to live. His troubles were not financial. His
unhappiness as a merchant  lay in  the fact that when  a traveling  man with
wares to be sold came in at the front door he was afraid. Behind the counter
he  stood shaking his head. He  was afraid,  first that he would  stubbornly
refuse to buy and thus lose the opportunity to  sell  again;  second that he
would not be stubborn  enough and would  in a moment  of  weakness buy  what
could not be sold.
     In the  store  on the  morning  when  Elmer Cowley  saw George  Willard
standing and apparently listening at the back door of the Eagle printshop, a
situation had arisen that always stirred  the son's wrath. The traveling man
talked and Ebenezer listened, his whole figure expressing uncertainty.  "You
see how quickly it  is  done,"  said the traveling  man, who  had for sale a
small flat  metal substitute for collar  buttons. With one  hand  he quickly
unfastened a collar from his shirt and then fastened it on again. He assumed
a  flattering wheedling tone. "I tell you what, men have  come to the end of
all this fooling with collar buttons and  you are the man to  make money out
of the change that  is coming.  I am  offering you  the exclusive agency for
this town. Take twenty dozen of these fasteners and I'll not visit any other
store. I'll leave the field to you."
     The traveling man leaned over the counter and tapped with his finger on
Ebenezer's breast.  "It's an opportunity  and I  want  you  to take  it," he
urged. "A friend of mine told me about you. 'See that  man Cowley,' he said.
'He's a live one.'"
     The traveling man paused and waited. Taking  a  book from his pocket he
began writing out the order. Still holding the shoe in his hand Elmer Cowley
went  through the store, past the two absorbed men, to a glass showcase near
the front door. He took  a cheap revolver from the case and began to wave it
about.  "You  get  out of here!"  he  shrieked. "We  don't want  any  collar
fasteners here." An idea  came to him. "Mind, I'm not making any threat," he
added. "I don't  say I'll shoot.  Maybe I just took this gun out of the case
to look  at it. But  you better get out. Yes sir,  I'll say that. You better
grab up your things and get out."
     The young  storekeeper's voice  rose to  a  scream and going behind the
counter  he began to advance  upon  the two men. "We're  through being fools
here!" he cried. "We ain't going to  buy any  more  stuff until we begin  to
sell.  We  ain't  going  to keep  on being queer and  have folks staring and
listening. You get out of here!"
     The traveling man left. Raking  the samples of collar fasteners off the
counter  into a black leather  bag,  he ran. He  was  a  small  man and very
bow-legged and he ran  awkwardly. The black bag caught against the door  and
he stumbled and fell. "Crazy, that's  what he is--crazy!" he sputtered as he
arose from the sidewalk and hurried away.
     In the store Elmer Cowley and his father stared at each other. Now that
the immediate object of his wrath had fled, the younger man was embarrassed.
"Well, I meant it. I think we've been queer long enough," he declared, going
to the showcase and replacing the revolver. Sitting on a barrel he pulled on
and fastened the  shoe he had been holding in his  hand. He was waiting  for
some word of understanding from his father but when Ebenezer spoke his words
only  served  to reawaken the wrath in the son  and the young man ran out of
the store without replying. Scratching his grey  beard with  his  long dirty
fingers, the  merchant looked  at his  son with the same wavering  uncertain
stare with which he had confronted the traveling man. "I'll be starched," he
said softly. "Well, well, I'll be washed and ironed and starched!"
     Elmer  Cowley went out of  Winesburg  and along  a  country  road  that
paralleled the railroad track. He did not know where he was going or what he
was going  to do. In the shelter of a deep cut where the road, after turning
sharply to  the right,  dipped under the tracks he stopped  and  the passion
that  had been  the cause of  his outburst in the store began  to again find
expression. "I will  not be queer--one to be looked at and listened  to," he
declared aloud. "I'll  be like  other people. I'll show that George Willard.
He'll find out. I'll show him!"
     The distraught  young man stood in the middle  of the road  and  glared
back at the  town. He did not know  the  reporter George  Willard and had no
special feeling concerning  the tall boy who  ran  about  town gathering the
town  news. The reporter had merely come, by his presence in the office  and
in the printshop of the Winesburg Eagle, to stand for something in the young
merchant's mind. He thought the boy who passed  and repassed  Cowley & Son's
store and who stopped to  talk  to people in the street must be thinking  of
him  and  perhaps laughing at him. George Willard, he felt, belonged to  the
town, typified  the town, represented in his person  the spirit of the town.
Elmer  Cowley could not have believed that George  Willard had also his days
of unhappiness, that vague hungers and secret unnamable desires visited also
his mind. Did he not represent public opinion and had not the public opinion
of Winesburg condemned the Cowleys to  queerness? Did he  not walk whistling
and  laughing  through Main Street?  Might not  one by striking  his  person
strike  also  the  greater enemy--the  thing  that smiled  and  went its own
way--the judgment of Winesburg?
     Elmer Cowley  was  extraordinarily tall  and  his arms  were  long  and
powerful. His hair, his eyebrows, and the downy beard that had begun to grow
upon  his  chin,  were  pale almost  to whiteness.  His teeth protruded from
between his lips and his eyes were blue with the colorless blueness  of  the
marbles called "aggies" that the boys of Winesburg carried in their pockets.
Elmer had lived in Winesburg for a year  and had made no friends. He was, he
felt, one  condemned  to go through  life  without friends and he hated  the
     Sullenly  the tall  young man  tramped along  the  road with his  hands
stuffed into  his trouser pockets.  The  day  was cold with a  raw wind, but
presently  the  sun began to shine  and the road  became soft and muddy. The
tops of the ridges of frozen mud that  formed the road began to melt and the
mud clung to Elmer's shoes. His feet became cold. When  he had gone  several
miles  he turned off the road, crossed  a field  and entered a wood.  In the
wood  he gathered sticks  to  build a  fire, by which he sat  trying to warm
himself, miserable in body and in mind.
     For  two hours he  sat on the log  by the fire and  then,  arising  and
creeping cautiously  through a mass of underbrush,  he went  to a fence  and
looked across fields to a small farmhouse surrounded  by low  sheds. A smile
came to his lips and he began making motions with his long arms to a man who
was husking corn in one of the fields.
     In his hour of misery the young merchant had returned to the farm where
he had lived through boyhood and where there was another human being to whom
he felt he could explain  himself. The man on the farm was a half-witted old
fellow named  Mook. He had  once  been  employed by Ebenezer  Cowley and had
stayed  on the farm  when  it was sold.  The  old man lived in  one  of  the
unpainted sheds  back of the  farmhouse  and  puttered about all day in  the
     Mook  the half-wit lived happily. With childlike  faith  he believed in
the intelligence of the animals that lived in the  sheds with him,  and when
he was lonely held long conversations with the cows, the pigs, and even with
the  chickens  that  ran about  the  barnyard. He  it  was  who had put  the
expression  regarding  being  "laundered"  into  the  mouth  of  his  former
employer.  When  excited  or  surprised  by  anything he smiled vaguely  and
muttered: "I'll  be washed and ironed. Well, well, I'll be washed and ironed
and starched."
     When the half-witted old man left his husking of corn and came into the
wood  to  meet  Elmer  Cowley,  he  was  neither  surprised  nor  especially
interested in the  sudden appearance  of the young man.  His  feet also were
cold  and  he  sat  on the  log by the  fire,  grateful  for the  warmth and
apparently indifferent to what Elmer had to say.
     Elmer talked earnestly and with great freedom, walking  up and down and
waving his arms about. "You don't understand what's the matter with me so of
course  you  don't  care," he declared. "With me it's different. Look how it
has always been with me. Father is queer and mother was queer, too. Even the
clothes  mother used to wear were  not like other people's clothes, and look
at that coat in which father goes about there in town, thinking he's dressed
up, too. Why don't  he get a new one? It wouldn't cost much.  I'll  tell you
why.  Father doesn't know  and when mother was alive she didn't know either.
Mabel is  different. She knows but  she  won't say anything. I will, though.
I'm  not  going  to be  stared  at  any  longer. Why look here, Mook, father
doesn't know that his store there in town is just a queer jumble, that he'll
never sell the stuff  he buys.  He knows nothing about it. Sometimes  he's a
little  worried that trade doesn't come and then he goes and  buys something
else. In the evenings he  sits by the fire upstairs and says trade will come
after  a while.  He isn't worried. He's queer. He doesn't know  enough to be
     The excited  young man became more excited. "He don't know but I know,"
he  shouted, stopping to gaze  down into the  dumb, unresponsive face of the
half-wit. "I  know too well. I can't stand it. When we lived out here it was
different. I worked and at night I went to  bed and  slept. I wasn't  always
seeing people and thinking as  I am now. In the evening, there in town, I go
to the post office or to the depot to see the train come in, and no one says
anything to me. Everyone stands around and laughs and they talk but they say
nothing to me. Then I feel so queer  that I can't  talk either. I go away. I
don't say anything. I can't."
     The fury of the young man became uncontrollable. "I won't stand it," he
yelled, looking up at the bare branches of the trees. "I'm not made to stand
     Maddened  by  the dull face of  the man  on the log  by the fire, Elmer
turned and glared at him as he had glared back along the road at the town of
Winesburg.  "Go on  back to  work," he screamed. "What good does it do me to
talk to you?" A  thought  came to him and his  voice  dropped. "I'm a coward
too, eh?" he muttered. "Do you  know why I  came clear out here afoot? I had
to tell someone and you were the only one I could tell. I hunted out another
queer one,  you see. I ran away,  that's what I  did. I couldn't stand up to
someone like that George Willard.  I had to come to you. I ought to tell him
and I will."
     Again his voice  arose to a shout and his arms flew about. "I will tell
him. I won't be queer. I don't care what they think. I won't stand it."
     Elmer Cowley ran out of the woods leaving the  half-wit sitting on  the
log before the fire. Presently the old man arose and climbing over the fence
went back to his work in the corn. "I'll be washed and ironed and starched,"
he declared. "Well, well, I'll  be washed and ironed." Mook was  interested.
He  went along  a lane to a field  where  two cows stood nibbling at a straw
stack. "Elmer  was here," he  said to the  cows. "Elmer is crazy. You better
get behind the stack  where  he don't see you. He'll hurt someone yet, Elmer
     At eight o'clock that evening Elmer Cowley put his head in at the front
door of the office of the Winesburg Eagle where George Willard  sat writing.
His  cap was pulled down over  his eyes and  a sullen determined look was on
his face.  "You come  on outside with me," he said, stepping in  and closing
the  door. He kept his hand on the knob as  though prepared to resist anyone
else coming in. "You just come along outside. I want to see you."
     George Willard and  Elmer  Cowley  walked through  the main  street  of
Winesburg.  The night was cold  and George Willard had on a new overcoat and
looked  very spruce  and dressed  up. He thrust his hands into the  overcoat
pockets and looked inquiringly at his companion. He had long been wanting to
make friends with the young  merchant and find out what was in his mind. Now
he thought he saw a  chance  and was delighted.  "I wonder  what he's up to?
Perhaps  he thinks he has a  piece of news for the paper. It can't be a fire
because I haven't heard the  fire bell and there isn't  anyone running,"  he
     In the main street of Winesburg, on the cold November evening,  but few
citizens  appeared and these hurried  along bent on getting to the stove  at
the  back of some store. The windows of the stores were frosted and the wind
rattled the tin sign that hung over the  entrance to the stairway leading to
Doctor Welling's office. Before Hern's Grocery a basket of apples and a rack
filled with new brooms stood on the sidewalk. Elmer Cowley stopped and stood
facing  George  Willard.  He tried to talk and his arms began to pump up and
down. His face worked spasmodically. He seemed about to shout.  "Oh,  you go
on  back," he cried. "Don't  stay out here with  me. I ain't got anything to
tell you. I don't want to see you at all."
     For three  hours  the distracted  young  merchant wandered through  the
resident streets of Winesburg blind with anger, brought on by his failure to
declare  his  determination not to  be queer. Bitterly  the  sense of defeat
settled upon him and he wanted to weep. After the hours of futile sputtering
at nothingness that  had  occupied  the  afternoon  and  his failure in  the
presence of the young reporter, he thought he could see no hope of a  future
for himself.
     And then a new idea dawned for him. In the darkness that surrounded him
he began to see a light. Going to the now darkened store, where Cowley & Son
had for over a year waited vainly for trade  to come, he crept stealthily in
and  felt  about  in a barrel  that stood by the stove  at the rear.  In the
barrel beneath shavings lay a tin box  containing Cowley & Son's cash. Every
evening Ebenezer Cowley put the  box in the barrel when he closed the  store
and  went upstairs to bed.  "They wouldn't never  think  of a careless place
like that," he told himself, thinking of robbers.
     Elmer took twenty dollars, two ten-dollar bills, from the  little  roll
containing perhaps four hundred dollars, the cash left  from the sale of the
farm. Then replacing the box beneath the shavings he went quietly out at the
front door and walked again in the streets.
     The idea that he thought might put an end to all of his unhappiness was
very simple. "I will get out of here, run away from  home," he told himself.
He knew that a local freight train passed through Winesburg  at midnight and
went on to Cleveland, where it arrived at dawn. He would steal a ride on the
local and when he got to Cleveland would lose himself in  the  crowds there.
He would get work in some shop and become friends with the other workmen and
would be indistinguishable. Then he could talk and laugh. He would no longer
be queer and would make friends. Life would begin to have warmth and meaning
for him as it had for others.
     The  tall  awkward young man, striding through the streets, laughed  at
himself because  he  had  been angry  and  had been half  afraid  of  George
Willard. He decided he would have his talk with the young reporter before he
left  town, that he would  tell  him about  things,  perhaps  challenge him,
challenge all of Winesburg through him.
     Aglow with  new confidence Elmer went to the office  of the New Willard
House  and  pounded  on the door.  A  sleep-eyed boy slept on a  cot in  the
office. He received no salary but  was fed at  the hotel table and bore with
pride the title of "night clerk." Before the boy Elmer was bold,  insistent.
"You 'wake him up," he commanded. "You tell him to come down by the depot. I
got to see him and I'm  going away on the local. Tell him to dress and  come
on down. I ain't got much time."
     The midnight local had finished its work in Winesburg and the trainsmen
were coupling cars, swinging lanterns and preparing  to  resume their flight
east. George  Willard, rubbing his eyes and again wearing the new  overcoat,
ran down to  the  station platform afire with  curiosity. "Well,  here I am.
What do you want? You've got something to tell me, eh?" he said.
     Elmer tried  to explain. He wet his lips  with his tongue and looked at
the train that  had begun to groan and get under  way. "Well,  you see,"  he
began, and then lost control of his tongue. "I'll be washed and ironed. I'll
be washed and ironed and starched," he muttered half incoherently.
     Elmer Cowley danced with fury beside the groaning train in the darkness
on the station platform. Lights leaped  into the air and bobbed up and  down
before his eyes. Taking the  two ten-dollar  bills from his pocket he thrust
them into George Willard's hand. "Take them," he  cried. "I don't want them.
Give them to father.  I stole them." With a snarl of rage he  turned and his
long arms began to flay the  air. Like one struggling for release from hands
that held him  he struck out, hitting  George Willard blow after blow on the
breast, the neck, the  mouth. The young reporter rolled over on the platform
half unconscious,  stunned by  the  terrific  force of the blows.  Springing
aboard the passing train  and  running  over the  tops of cars, Elmer sprang
down  to a flat car  and  lying on his face looked  back, trying  to see the
fallen  man  in the darkness.  Pride surged  up  in him.  "I showed him," he
cried. "I guess I showed him. I ain't so queer. I guess I showed him I ain't
so queer."

     RAY PEARSON and Hal  Winters  were farm hands employed on  a farm three
miles north  of Winesburg.  On Saturday afternoons  they came into town  and
wandered about through the streets with other fellows from the country.
     Ray was a quiet, rather nervous man of perhaps fifty with a brown beard
and shoulders rounded  by too much and too hard labor.  In his nature he was
as unlike Hal Winters as two men can be unlike.
     Ray was an altogether serious man  and had a little sharp-featured wife
who had also a sharp voice. The two, with half a dozen thin-legged children,
lived in a  tumble-down frame house beside a creek  at the  back  end of the
Wills farm where Ray was employed.
     Hal Winters, his fellow employee, was a young fellow. He was not of the
Ned Winters family, who were very respectable people  in Winesburg, but  was
one  of  the three sons of the  old man called Windpeter  Winters  who had a
sawmill near Unionville, six miles away, and who was looked upon by everyone
in Winesburg as a confirmed old reprobate.
     People  from the part  of Northern Ohio  in which Winesburg  lies  will
remember old Windpeter by his unusual  and tragic  death.  He got drunk  one
evening in town and started to drive home to Unionville  along  the railroad
tracks. Henry Brattenburg,  the butcher, who lived out that way, stopped him
at the edge of the town and told him he was sure to meet the down train  but
Windpeter slashed at him with his whip and drove  on. When  the train struck
and killed  him and his  two horses a farmer and  his wife who were  driving
home along  a  nearby road  saw the accident.  They said that old  Windpeter
stood up on  the seat  of  his wagon, raving  and swearing at  the onrushing
locomotive, and that he fairly screamed with delight when the team, maddened
by his incessant slashing  at them, rushed straight ahead  to certain death.
Boys like young George Willard and Seth Richmond will remember the  incident
quite  vividly because, although everyone  in our town said that the old man
would go straight to hell and that the community was better off without him,
they had a secret  conviction that he knew what he was doing and admired his
foolish courage. Most boys have seasons of wishing they could die gloriously
instead of just being grocery clerks and going on with their humdrum lives.
     But  this is not the story of Windpeter Winters nor  yet of his son Hal
who worked on the Wills farm with  Ray Pearson. It  is Ray's story. It will,
however, be  necessary to  talk a little of young Hal so that you  will  get
into the spirit of it.
     Hal  was a bad one. Everyone said that. There were three of the Winters
boys in that family, John, Hal, and Edward, all broad-shouldered big fellows
like old Windpeter himself  and all fighters and woman-chasers and generally
all-around bad ones.
     Hal was the  worst of the lot and always up to some  devilment. He once
stole  a load of  boards from his father's mill and sold them in  Winesburg.
With the  money he bought himself a suit of  cheap, flashy clothes. Then  he
got  drunk  and when his father came raving into town to  find him, they met
and  fought with  their fists on Main Street and were arrested and  put into
jail together.
     Hal went to work on  the  Wills farm because there was a country school
teacher  out that way who had  taken his fancy. He was  only twenty-two then
but had already been in two or three of what  were spoken of in Winesburg as
"women  scrapes."  Everyone who  heard  of  his  infatuation for  the school
teacher was sure it would turn out badly.  "He'll only get her into trouble,
you'll see," was the word that went around.
     And so these two men, Ray and Hal, were at work in a field on a day  in
the late October. They were husking corn and occasionally something was said
and  they laughed. Then came silence. Ray, who  was  the more  sensitive and
always minded things more, had chapped hands and they hurt. He put them into
his  coat pockets  and  looked away across  the  fields.  He was in  a  sad,
distracted  mood and was affected by the beauty of the country.  If you knew
the  Winesburg country  in the fall  and how the low hills  are all splashed
with yellows and reds you would understand his feeling. He began to think of
the time, long ago when he was a young fellow living with his father, then a
baker in Winesburg, and how on such days he had wandered away into the woods
to gather nuts, hunt rabbits, or just to loaf about  and smoke his pipe. His
marriage had come about through one of his days of wandering. He had induced
a girl who waited on trade in his father's shop to go with him and something
had happened. He was thinking of that afternoon and how it had  affected his
whole life when a spirit of protest awoke in him. He had forgotten about Hal
and muttered words. "Tricked by Gad, that's what I  was, tricked by life and
made a fool of," he said in a low voice.
     As  though understanding his thoughts, Hal Winters spoke up. "Well, has
it been worth while? What about it, eh? What about  marriage and all  that?"
he asked and  then laughed. Hal tried to keep on laughing but he too  was in
an earnest mood. He began to talk earnestly. "Has a fellow got to do it?" he
asked. "Has he got to be harnessed up and driven through life like a horse?"
     Hal didn't wait for an answer but sprang to his  feet and began to walk
back  and  forth  between  the  corn shocks.  He was  getting more and  more
excited.  Bending down suddenly  he picked up an  ear of the yellow corn and
threw it  at the fence.  "I've got Nell Gunther  in  trouble," he said. "I'm
telling you, but you keep your mouth shut."
     Ray Pearson arose and stood staring. He was almost a foot  shorter than
Hal, and when the  younger man came and put his two hands on the older man's
shoulders they made a picture. There they stood in  the big empty field with
the quiet corn shocks  standing in  rows behind them and  the red and yellow
hills in the distance,  and from being just two indifferent workmen they had
become all  alive to each other. Hal  sensed it and because that was his way
he laughed. "Well, old daddy,"  he said awkwardly, "come on, advise me. I've
got Nell in  trouble. Perhaps you've been in the same  fix yourself.  I know
what everyone would say is the right thing to do, but what do you say? Shall
I marry and settle down? Shall I  put myself into the harness to be worn out
like  an old horse? You know me,  Ray. There can't anyone break me but I can
break  myself. Shall I do it or shall  I tell Nell to go to the  devil? Come
on, you tell me. Whatever you say, Ray, I'll do."
     Ray  couldn't answer.  He  shook Hal's hands loose  and turning  walked
straight away toward  the  barn. He was a sensitive man and there were tears
in his eyes. He knew there was only one thing to  say to Hal Winters, son of
old  Windpeter Winters, only one thing that all his own training and all the
beliefs of  the people  he knew would approve, but for his life  he couldn't
say what he knew he should say.
     At half-past four that afternoon Ray was puttering about  the  barnyard
when  his wife came  up the lane along the  creek and  called him. After the
talk with Hal he hadn't returned to the cornfield but worked about the barn.
He had already done  the evening chores and  had seen Hal, dressed and ready
for a roistering night  in town, come out of the  farmhouse and go into  the
road. Along the path to his own house he trudged behind his wife, looking at
the ground  and thinking. He couldn't make out what was wrong. Every time he
raised  his  eyes and saw the beauty of the country  in the failing light he
wanted to do something he had never done before, shout or  scream or hit his
wife with his  fists or  something equally unexpected and terrifying.  Along
the path he  went scratching his head and trying to  make it out.  He looked
hard at his wife's back but she seemed all right.
     She  only wanted him to go into  town for groceries and as soon  as she
had told him what she wanted began to  scold. "You're always puttering," she
said.  "Now I  want  you to hustle. There  isn't anything  in  the house for
supper and you've got to get to town and back in a hurry."
     Ray went into his  own house  and  took an overcoat from a hook back of
the door. It  was torn about the pockets and the collar was shiny.  His wife
went into the bedroom and presently came out with a soiled cloth in one hand
and three  silver dollars in the other.  Somewhere in the house a child wept
bitterly  and a dog that  had  been sleeping by the stove arose  and yawned.
Again the wife scolded. "The children will cry and  cry.  Why are you always
puttering?" she asked.
     Ray  went  out of the house and climbed the  fence into a field. It was
just growing dark and the  scene that lay before him was lovely. All the low
hills were washed with color and even the little  clusters of bushes  in the
corners of the fences were alive with beauty. The whole world seemed to  Ray
Pearson to have become alive with something just as  he and Hal had suddenly
become alive when they  stood in  the corn field  stating into each  other's
     The beauty of the country about Winesburg was too much  for Ray on that
fall  evening. That is all there was to  it.  He  could  not stand  it. Of a
sudden he  forgot all about being a quiet old farm hand and throwing off the
torn  overcoat began to run across the field. As he ran he shouted a protest
against his life, against all life, against everything that makes life ugly.
"There was no promise  made," he  cried into the empty spaces that lay about
him. "I didn't promise my Minnie anything and Hal hasn't made any promise to
Nell.  I know he hasn't. She went into the woods with him because she wanted
to  go. What he wanted she wanted. Why should I pay? Why should Hal pay? Why
should anyone pay? I don't  want Hal to become  old and  worn out. I'll tell
him. I won't let it  go on. I'll catch Hal before  he gets  to town and I'll
tell him."
     Ray ran clumsily  and once he stumbled and fell down. "I must catch Hal
and tell him," he kept  thinking, and  although his breath  came in gasps he
kept running  harder and harder. As  he ran he thought of things that hadn't
come into his mind for years--how at the  time he  married he had planned to
go west to his uncle  in Portland, Oregon--how he hadn't wanted to be a farm
hand,  but had  thought when he  got out West he  would go to sea and  be  a
sailor or get a job on a ranch and ride a horse into Western towns, shouting
and laughing and waking the people in  the  houses with his wild cries. Then
as he ran he remembered his children and in fancy felt their hands clutching
at him. All of his  thoughts of  himself were involved with the thoughts  of
Hal and he thought  the children were  clutching at  the  younger  man also.
"They are the accidents of  life,  Hal," he cried.  "They  are  not mine  or
yours. I had nothing to do with them."
     Darkness began  to spread over the fields as Ray Pearson ran on and on.
His breath came in little sobs. When he came to the fence at the edge of the
road and confronted  Hal Winters, all  dressed up and smoking  a  pipe as he
walked jauntily along, he could  not have told  what  he  thought or what he
     Ray Pearson lost his nerve and this is really the end  of the story  of
what happened to him. It was almost dark when he got to the fence and he put
his hands on the top  bar and stood staring. Hal Winters  jumped a ditch and
coming up close to Ray put his hands into his pockets and laughed. He seemed
to have lost his own  sense of what had happened  in the corn field and when
he put up a strong hand  and  took hold  of the lapel of Ray's coat he shook
the old man as he might have shaken a dog that had misbehaved.
     "You  came  to tell me,  eh?" he  said. "Well,  never  mind telling  me
anything. I'm not a coward and I've already  made  up my  mind."  He laughed
again and jumped back across  the ditch. "Nell ain't no fool," he said. "She
didn't ask me to  marry her. I want to  marry her. I want to settle down and
have kids."
     Ray Pearson also laughed. He felt like  laughing at himself and all the
     As the form of Hal Winters disappeared in the dusk  that  lay over  the
road that  led to Winesburg,  he turned and  walked  slowly  back across the
fields to  where he had left his torn overcoat. As  he  went some memory  of
pleasant evenings  spent with the thin-legged  children  in the  tumble-down
house  by  the creek must  have come  into  his mind, for he muttered words.
"It's just as well.  Whatever  I  told him would have been a  lie,"  he said
softly, and then his form also disappeared into the darkness of the fields.

     TOM FOSTER came to  Winesburg from  Cincinnati when he was  still young
and  could get  many  new  impressions. His grandmother had been raised on a
farm near  the  town  and as  a  young girl had  gone  to  school there when
Winesburg was a  village  of twelve  or fifteen  houses  clustered  about  a
general store on the Trunion Pike.
     What a life the old woman had led since she went away from the frontier
settlement and what a strong, capable little old thing she was! She had been
in  Kansas,  in Canada,  and in  New  York City,  traveling about  with  her
husband,  a mechanic,  before  he died. Later she  went  to  stay  with  her
daughter, who had also married a  mechanic and lived in Covington, Kentucky,
across the river from Cincinnati.
     Then began  the hard  years  for  Tom Foster's  grandmother.  First her
son-in-law  was killed by a policeman during a strike and then  Tom's mother
became an invalid and  died also. The grandmother had  saved a little money,
but it was swept away  by the illness of the daughter and by the cost of the
two funerals. She became a half worn-out old woman worker and lived with the
grandson above a junk shop on a side  street in  Cincinnati. For five  years
she scrubbed the floors in an office building  and then got  a place as dish
washer in a restaurant. Her hands were all twisted  out of  shape. When  she
took  hold of a  mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems
of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree.
     The old woman came back to Winesburg as soon as she got the chance. One
evening as she was  coming home from work she found a pocket-book containing
thirty-seven dollars,  and  that  opened  the  way.  The trip  was  a  great
adventure  for  the  boy. It  was  past  seven  o'clock  at  night  when the
grandmother came home with the pocket-book held tightly in her old hands and
she  was  so  excited she  could  scarcely  speak.  She insisted on  leaving
Cincinnati that night, saying that if they stayed until morning the owner of
the money would be sure to find them out and make trouble. Tom, who was then
sixteen years old, had to go trudging off to the station with the old woman,
bearing all of  their earthly belongings  done  up in a worn-out blanket and
slung  across  his back.  By  his  side  walked  the grandmother  urging him
forward. Her toothless old mouth twitched nervously, and when Tom grew weary
and wanted to put the pack down at a street crossing, she snatched it up and
if he  had not  prevented would have slung it across her own back. When they
got into the train and  it had run out of the city she was as delighted as a
girl and talked as the boy had never heard her talk before.
     All through the night as the train rattled along, the grandmother  told
Tom tales of Winesburg and of how he would enjoy  his  life  working in  the
fields  and  shooting wild things in the woods  there. She could not believe
that the tiny village of fifty years before had  grown into a  thriving town
in her absence, and in  the morning when the train came to Winesburg did not
want to get off. "It isn't what I thought. It may be hard for you here," she
said,  and then the train  went  on its way  and the two stood confused, not
knowing where  to  turn, in the presence of Albert  Longworth, the Winesburg
baggage master.
     But  Tom Foster did  get  along all  right. He  was  one  to  get along
anywhere. Mrs. White, the banker's wife, employed his grandmother to work in
the kitchen and he got a place as stable boy in the banker's new brick barn.
     In Winesburg servants were hard to  get.  The  woman who wanted help in
her housework employed a "hired girl"  who insisted on sitting at  the table
with the family.  Mrs.  White was sick  of hired  girls  and snatched at the
chance to get  hold of  the old city woman. She furnished a room for the boy
Tom  upstairs in the barn.  "He  can mow the lawn and run  errands  when the
horses do not need attention," she explained to her husband.
     Tom  Foster was rather small  for his age  and had a large head covered
with stiff  black hair  that  stood  straight  up. The hair  emphasized  the
bigness of  his head. His voice was the softest thing imaginable, and he was
himself  so gentle and quiet that  he  slipped into the  life  of  the  town
without attracting the least bit of attention.
     One  could not help  wondering where Tom Foster got his  gentleness. In
Cincinnati he had lived in a neighborhood where  gangs of tough boys prowled
through  the streets, and all through his early formative years he ran about
with  tough boys. For a while he was a messenger for a telegraph company and
delivered messages in a neighborhood sprinkled  with houses of prostitution.
The women in the houses knew and loved Tom Foster and the  tough boys in the
gangs loved him also.
     He never asserted himself. That was one thing that  helped  him escape.
In an odd way he stood in the shadow of the wall of life, was meant to stand
in the shadow. He saw the men and women in the houses of  lust, sensed their
casual and horrible love affairs, saw  boys  fighting and listened to  their
tales of thieving and drunkenness, unmoved and strangely unaffected.
     Once  Tom  did steal. That was while  he  still lived in  the city. The
grandmother was ill  at the time and he himself was out  of  work. There was
nothing to eat in the house, and so he went into  a harness  shop on  a side
street and stole a dollar and seventy-five cents out of the cash drawer.
     The harness shop was run by an old man with a long mustache. He saw the
boy  lurking  about and thought  nothing of it.  When he  went  out into the
street to talk to a teamster Tom opened the cash drawer and taking the money
walked away. Later he was  caught and his grandmother settled  the matter by
offering to come twice  a week for a month and scrub the shop.  The boy  was
ashamed, but  he was rather  glad, too. "It is all right to  be ashamed  and
makes me understand new things," he said to the grandmother, who didn't know
what the boy was talking about but  loved him so  much that it didn't matter
whether she understood or not.
     For a year Tom Foster lived in  the banker's stable and  then lost  his
place there.  He  didn't take very  good  care of  the horses  and he was  a
constant source  of irritation to the banker's wife. She told him to mow the
lawn and he forgot. Then she sent him to the store or to the post office and
he did not come back but joined a group of men and  boys and spent the whole
afternoon  with  them,  standing about,  listening  and  occasionally,  when
addressed, saying a few words. As in the city in the  houses of prostitution
and  with  the rowdy  boys running  through  the streets  at  night,  so  in
Winesburg among its citizens he had always the power to be a part of and yet
distinctly apart from the life about him.
     After Tom  lost  his  place at Banker  White's he did not live with his
grandmother, although often in the evening she came to visit him.  He rented
a  room  at  the  rear of  a  little  frame building belonging to old  Rufus
Whiting. The building was on Duane Street, just  off Main  Street,  and  had
been used  for years  as  a  law office by the old  man, who  had become too
feeble and forgetful for the practice of his profession but  did not realize
his  inefficiency.  He liked  Tom and let him  have the room  for a dollar a
month. In the late  afternoon when the lawyer  had gone home the boy had the
place to  himself  and  spent  hours lying on  the  floor by  the stove  and
thinking of  things. In the  evening  the grandmother  came  and sat  in the
lawyer's chair to smoke a pipe while Tom remained  silent, as he always, did
in the presence of everyone.
     Often  the old  woman talked with great  vigor. Sometimes she was angry
about some happening at  the banker's house and scolded away  for hours. Out
of her own earnings she bought a  mop  and  regularly scrubbed  the lawyer's
office.  Then when  the place was spotlessly  clean  and  smelled clean  she
lighted her clay pipe  and she and  Tom had a smoke  together. "When you get
ready to die  then I  will die also," she said to the boy lying on the floor
beside her chair.
     Tom Foster enjoyed  life in Winesburg. He did odd jobs, such as cutting
wood for kitchen stoves  and mowing the grass before houses. In late May and
early June he picked strawberries in the  fields. He had time to loaf and he
enjoyed  loafing.  Banker White had given him a  cast-off coat which was too
large for him, but his grandmother cut it down, and he had also an overcoat,
got  at the  same place,  that was lined with fur. The fur  was worn away in
spots, but the coat was  warm and  in the winter Tom slept in it. He thought
his method of getting along good enough and was happy and satisfied with the
way fife in Winesburg had turned out for him.
     The most absurd  little things made Tom  Foster happy. That, I suppose,
was why people loved him. In Hern's Grocery they would be roasting coffee on
Friday  afternoon, preparatory to the  Saturday rush of trade, and the  rich
odor invaded lower Main Street. Tom Foster appeared and sat on a box at  the
rear  of  the store. For an hour  he did not move  but sat perfectly  still,
filling his  being with  the  spicy  odor  that  made  him  half drunk  with
happiness.  "I like it," he said gently. "It  makes me  think  of things far
away, places and things like that."
     One night Tom Foster got drunk.  That came  about in a curious way.  He
never had been drunk before,  and  indeed in all his fife had  never taken a
drink of anything intoxicating, but he  felt he needed to be drunk that  one
time and so went and did it.
     In Cincinnati,  when he  lived there,  Tom had found  out  many things,
things about ugliness and crime  and lust. Indeed,  he  knew more  of  these
things  than anyone else in Winesburg. The  matter of sex in particular  had
presented  itself  to  him in a quite  horrible  way and  had  made  a  deep
impression on  his mind.  He  thought,  after what he had seen  of the women
standing before the squalid houses  on  cold nights and the look he had seen
in the eyes of the  men who  stopped to talk  to them, that he would put sex
altogether out of his own life. One of the women of the neighborhood tempted
him once and he went into a room with her.  He never forgot the smell of the
room nor  the greedy look that came into the eyes  of the woman. It sickened
him and in a very terrible way left a scar on his soul. He had always before
thought of  women as quite innocent  things, much like  his grandmother, but
after that  one experience in the room  he dismissed women from his mind. So
gentle was his nature  that he could not hate anything and not being able to
understand he decided to forget.
     And Tom did forget until he came to Winesburg. After he had lived there
for two  years something began to stir in  him.  On all  sides  he saw youth
making love and he was himself a youth. Before he knew what had happened  he
was in love also. He fell in  love with Helen White, daughter of the man for
whom he had worked, and found himself thinking of her at night.
     That  was a  problem for Tom and he settled it in  his own way. He  let
himself think of Helen White whenever her figure came into his mind and only
concerned himself with the  manner of his  thoughts. He had a fight, a quiet
determined little fight of his own, to keep his desires in the channel where
he thought they belonged, but on the whole he was victorious.
     And then came the spring night when he got drunk. Tom was wild  on that
night. He  was like an innocent young buck  of the forest  that has eaten of
some maddening weed.  The thing began, ran its course, and was ended in  one
night,  and  you may be  sure that no one in Winesburg was any the worse for
Tom's outbreak.
     In the first place, the night was one to make a sensitive nature drunk.
The trees along the residence streets of  the town were all newly clothed in
soft green leaves, in the gardens behind the houses men were puttering about
in vegetable  gardens, and in  the  air there was a hush,  a waiting kind of
silence very stirring to the blood.
     Tom left his room on Duane Street just as the young night began to make
itself  felt. First he walked through the streets, going  softly and quietly
along, thinking thoughts that he tried to put into words. He said that Helen
White was a flame  dancing in the air and  that he was a little tree without
leaves standing out sharply against  the sky. Then he said  that  she  was a
wind, a strong terrible wind, coming out of the darkness of a stormy sea and
that he was a boat left on the shore of the sea by a fisherman.
     That idea  pleased the boy and  he  sauntered along playing with it. He
went into Main Street and sat on the curbing  before Wacker's tobacco store.
For an  hour he lingered about listening to the talk of men, but  it did not
interest him much and he slipped away. Then he decided to get drunk and went
into Willy's saloon and bought a bottle of whiskey.  Putting the bottle into
his pocket,  he walked out  of town,  wanting  to  be  alone to  think  more
thoughts and to drink the whiskey.
     Tom got  drunk sitting on a  bank of new grass beside the road about  a
mile  north of  town. Before him was a  white  road and at his back an apple
orchard in full bloom. He took  a drink out of the bottle  and then lay down
on  the grass.  He thought of mornings in Winesburg and of how the stones in
the  graveled  driveway  by  Banker  White's house  were wet  with  dew  and
glistened in the morning light. He thought of the nights in the barn when it
rained  and he lay awake hearing the drumming of the  raindrops and smelling
the warm smell of horses  and of hay. Then  he  thought of a storm that  had
gone roaring through Winesburg several days before and, his mind going back,
he relived the night he had spent on the train with his grandmother when the
two were coming  from Cincinnati. Sharply he  remembered how strange it  had
seemed  to  sit  quietly in the coach and to feel the  power  of  the engine
hurling the train along through the night.
     Tom  got drunk in a very  short  time. He kept  taking  drinks from the
bottle as  the thoughts  visited him and when his head began to reel got  up
and walked along the road going  away from Winesburg. There  was a bridge on
the road  that ran  out of Winesburg north to  Lake Erie and the drunken boy
made his way along  the road  to  the bridge. There he sat down. He tried to
drink again, but when he had taken the cork out of the bottle he  became ill
and put it quickly back. His head was  rocking back and forth and  so he sat
on the stone approach to the bridge and sighed. His head seemed to be flying
about like a pinwheel and then projecting itself off into space and his arms
and legs flopped helplessly about.
     At eleven o'clock Tom  got back  into  town.  George  Willard found him
wandering about and took him into the Eagle printshop. Then he became afraid
that the drunken boy would make a mess  on the floor and helped him into the
     The  reporter  was confused by  Tom Foster.  The drunken  boy talked of
Helen White and said he had been with her on the shore of a sea and had made
love to  her.  George had seen Helen White  walking in the  street  with her
father  during  the  evening  and  decided that Tom was  out of  his head. A
sentiment concerning Helen White  that lurked in his own heart flamed up and
he  became angry. "Now you quit that,"  he said.  "I won't let Helen White's
name be dragged into this. I  won't let that happen." He began shaking Tom's
shoulder, trying to make him understand. "You quit it," he said again.
     For three hours  the  two young men,  thus strangely  thrown  together,
stayed in the printshop. When  he had a little recovered George took Tom for
a walk. They went into the country and sat on a log near the edge of a wood.
Something in the still night drew them together and  when  the drunken boy's
head began to clear they talked.
     "It  was good to be drunk," Tom Foster said. "It taught me something. I
won't have to  do it again. I will think more dearly after this. You see how
it is."
     George Willard did not see, but his anger concerning Helen White passed
and  he  felt drawn toward the pale, shaken boy as he had  never before been
drawn toward anyone. With  motherly solicitude, he insisted that  Tom get to
his feet and walk about. Again they went back to the  printshop  and sat  in
silence in the darkness.
     The  reporter  could  not  get  the  purpose  of  Tom  Foster's  action
straightened out  in his mind. When  Tom spoke again of Helen White he again
grew  angry  and began to  scold.  "You  quit that,"  he said  sharply. "You
haven't  been with her. What makes  you  say you have? What  makes you  keep
saying such things? Now you quit it, do you hear?"
     Tom  was hurt. He couldn't  quarrel with George  Willard because he was
incapable of  quarreling,  so he got up to go  away. When George Willard was
insistent he put out  his hand, laying it on the older  boy's arm, and tried
to explain.
     "Well," he said softly, "I don't know how  it was. I was happy. You see
how  that was. Helen White made me happy and the night did  too. I wanted to
suffer, to be hurt somehow. I thought that was what I should do. I wanted to
suffer, you see, because everyone suffers and does wrong. I thought of a lot
of things to do, but they wouldn't work. They all hurt someone else."
     Tom  Foster's  voice  arose, and for once in his life he  became almost
excited. "It was like making love, that's what I mean," he explained. "Don't
you see how it  is? It hurt me to do what I did and made everything strange.
That's why  I did it. I'm  glad,  too.  It  taught me  something, that's it,
that's  what I wanted. Don't you understand? I  wanted to learn things,  you
see. That's why I did it."

     THE STAIRWAY LEADING up to Doctor  Reefy's office, in the Heffner Block
above the Paris Dry Goods  store,  was but dimly lighted. At the head of the
stairway hung a lamp  with a dirty chimney that was fastened by a bracket to
the wall. The lamp  had  a tin  reflector, brown with rust and covered  with
dust. The people who went up the stairway followed  with their feet the feet
of many who had gone before. The soft boards of the stairs had yielded under
the pressure of feet and deep hollows marked the way.
     At the top  of the  stairway  a turn  to the  right brought  you to the
doctor's  door.  To  the left was a dark  hallway filled  with rubbish.  Old
chairs, carpenter's horses, step ladders and empty boxes lay in the darkness
waiting for shins to be  barked. The pile  of  rubbish belonged to the Paris
Dry Goods Company.  When a counter or a row  of shelves in the store  became
useless, clerks carried it up the stairway and threw it on the pile.
     Doctor  Reefy's office was as  large as a barn.  A  stove with a  round
paunch sat in the  middle  of  the room. Around  its base was piled sawdust,
held in place by heavy  planks nailed to the floor. By the door stood a huge
table that had once been a part of the furniture of Herrick's Clothing Store
and that had been used for  displaying  custom-made  clothes. It was covered
with books, bottles,  and surgical instruments.  Near the edge  of the table
lay three or four apples  left by  John  Spaniard, a tree nurseryman who was
Doctor Reefy's friend, and who had slipped  the apples  out of his pocket as
he came in at the door.
     At middle age Doctor  Reefy  was  tall and awkward. The grey  beard  he
later wore had not yet appeared, but on the upper lip grew a brown mustache.
He was not a graceful man, as when he grew older, and was much occupied with
the problem of disposing of his hands and feet.
     On summer afternoons, when she had been married many years and when her
son George was a boy of twelve or fourteen, Elizabeth Willard sometimes went
up  the  worn steps  to Doctor Reefy's office. Already the woman's naturally
tall  figure  had  begun to  droop  and  to  drag  itself  listlessly about.
Ostensibly she went to see the doctor because of her health, but on the half
dozen occasions when she had been  to see him  the outcome of the visits did
not primarily concern her health. She and the doctor talked of that but they
talked most of her life, of  their two lives and of the  ideas that had come
to them as they lived their lives in Winesburg.
     In the big empty office the man and the woman sat looking at each other
and they were a  good deal alike. Their  bodies were different, as were also
the color of their eyes, the length of their noses, and the circumstances of
their existence, but something inside them meant the same  thing, wanted the
same release,  would  have  left  the  same impression  on the  memory of an
onlooker. Later, and when he grew older and married a young wife, the doctor
often talked to her of the hours spent with  the  sick woman and expressed a
good many things he had been unable to express to Elizabeth. He was almost a
poet in his old age and his notion  of what happened took a poetic  turn. "I
had  come  to the  time in my  life when prayer  became necessary  and  so I
invented gods and prayed to them," he  said. "I did  not say my  prayers  in
words nor did I kneel down but sat perfectly still in  my chair. In the late
afternoon when it was hot and quiet on Main Street or in the winter when the
days were gloomy, the gods  came into  the office and I thought no one  knew
about them. Then I found that this woman Elizabeth knew, that she worshipped
also the same gods. I have a notion that she came  to the office because she
thought the gods would be  there but she was happy to find herself not alone
just  the same. It was an experience  that cannot  be explained,  although I
suppose it is always happening to men and women in all sorts of places."
     On  the  summer afternoons when  Elizabeth  and  the doctor  sat in the
office  and  talked of  their  two  lives they talked of  other lives  also.
Sometimes  the  doctor  made  philosophic  epigrams.  Then he  chuckled with
amusement. Now and then after a period of silence, a word was said or a hint
given that  strangely illuminated the  fife of the speaker, a wish  became a
desire, or a dream, half dead, flared  suddenly into life. For the most part
the words came from the woman and she said them without looking at the man.
     Each time she came to see the  doctor the hotel keeper's wife talked  a
little  more freely  and after an hour or two in his presence went down  the
stairway into  Main  Street  feeling renewed  and strengthened  against  the
dullness  of her days. With something approaching  a  girlhood swing to  her
body she walked along, but when she had got  back to her chair by the window
of her room  and  when darkness had come on and a girl from the hotel dining
room  brought her dinner  on a tray, she let it grow  cold. Her thoughts ran
away  to  her girlhood  with its  passionate longing for  adventure and  she
remembered the arms  of men  that had held her when adventure was a possible
thing for her. Particularly she remembered  one who  had for a time been her
lover and who in the moment of his passion had cried out to  her more than a
hundred times, saying the  same words madly over and  over: "You  dear!  You
dear!  You  lovely dear!"  The words, she thought, expressed  something  she
would have liked to have achieved in life.
     In her room in the shabby  old hotel the sick wife of the  hotel keeper
began to weep and, putting her hands to her face, rocked back and forth. The
words of her one  friend, Doctor  Reefy, rang  in  her ears. "Love is like a
wind  stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night," he had said.  "You
must not try to make love definite.  It is the  divine accident of life.  If
you try  to be definite and sure about it  and  to  live beneath the  trees,
where  soft  night  winds blow,  the long  hot  day of disappointment  comes
swiftly and the gritty dust  from passing wagons gathers upon  lips inflamed
and made tender by kisses."
     Elizabeth  Willard could not remember her mother who had  died when she
was but five years old.  Her girlhood  had  been lived in the most haphazard
manner imaginable. Her father was a man who  had wanted to  be let alone and
the affairs of the hotel would not let him alone. He also had lived and died
a  sick man. Every day he arose with a cheerful face, but by ten o'clock  in
the morning all the joy  had gone out of  his heart. When a guest complained
of the fare in the hotel dining room  or one of the  girls who made  up  the
beds got married and  went away, he stamped on the floor and swore. At night
when he went to bed he  thought of  his daughter growing up among the stream
of people  that  drifted  in  and  out  of the  hotel  and was overcome with
sadness.  As  the girl grew older and began to walk out  in the evening with
men  he  wanted to talk to  her, but when  he  tried  was not successful. He
always forgot what he  wanted to say and  spent the time complaining of  his
own affairs.
     In her girlhood  and young womanhood Elizabeth  had tried to  be a real
adventurer  in life.  At eighteen life had so  gripped her  that she  was no
longer a virgin but, although she had a half dozen lovers before she married
Tom  Willard, she  had never  entered upon an adventure  prompted by  desire
alone.  Like all  the  women in  the world, she wanted a real lover.  Always
there was something she sought blindly, passionately,  some hidden wonder in
life. The tall  beautiful girl with the swinging stride who had walked under
the trees with men was  forever  putting out her hand into the  darkness and
trying to get hold of some other hand. In all  the babble of words that fell
from the  lips of  the men with  whom she adventured she was trying  to find
what would be for her the true word,
     Elizabeth  had  married  Tom  Willard, a clerk in  her father's  hotel,
because  he  was  at  hand  and  wanted  to  marry  at  the  time  when  the
determination to marry came to her. For a while, like  most young girls, she
thought marriage  would  change the face of life. If there was in her mind a
doubt  of  the  outcome of  the marriage with Tom she brushed it  aside. Her
father was ill and  near death at the time and she was perplexed  because of
the meaningless outcome  of an affair in which  she had just  been involved.
Other girls of  her age in Winesburg were marrying men she had always known,
grocery clerks or young farmers.  In the evening they walked  in Main Street
with  their husbands and when she  passed they  smiled happily. She began to
think that the fact of marriage  might be full of some  hidden significance.
Young  wives with whom she talked spoke softly and shyly. "It changes things
to have a man of your own," they said.
     On the evening before  her marriage the perplexed girl  had a talk with
her father. Later she wondered if  the hours alone with the sick man had not
led to her decision to marry. The father talked of his life and  advised the
daughter to avoid being led into another such muddle. He abused Tom Willard,
and that led  Elizabeth  to come to the clerk's defense. The sick man became
excited and tried  to get out  of bed. When she would not let him walk about
he began to complain.  "I've never  been let alone," he said. "Although I've
worked hard I've not made the hotel pay.  Even now I owe money  at the bank.
You'll find that out when I'm gone."
     The voice of the sick man became tense with earnestness.  Being  unable
to arise,  he put out his hand and  pulled the girl's  head down beside  his
own. "There's a way out," he whispered. "Don't  marry Tom Willard  or anyone
else here in  Winesburg. There is eight  hundred dollars  in a tin box in my
trunk. Take it and go away."
     Again the sick man's voice became querulous. "You've  got to  promise,"
he declared. "If  you won't  promise  not  to marry, give me  your word that
you'll never tell Tom about the  money. It is mine and if I  give it to  you
I've  the right to make that demand. Hide it  away. It  is to make up to you
for my  failure  as a father. Some time  it may prove  to be a door, a great
open door  to you.  Come  now, I tell you  I'm about  to die, give  me  your
     In  Doctor  Reefy's  office,  Elizabeth,  a  tired gaunt old  woman  at
forty-one, sat in a chair near the stove and looked at the floor. By a small
desk  near  the window sat the doctor. His hands played  with a lead  pencil
that lay on the desk. Elizabeth talked  of her  life as a married woman. She
became impersonal and forgot her husband, only  using him as a lay figure to
give point to her  tale. "And then I was married and it did not  turn out at
all," she said bitterly. "As soon  as I  had  gone  into  it I  began  to be
afraid. Perhaps I knew too much before and then perhaps I found out too much
during my first night with him. I don't remember.
     "What a fool I was. When father gave me  the money and tried to talk me
out of the thought  of marriage, I  would  not listen. I thought of what the
girls who were married had said of it and I wanted marriage also.  It wasn't
Tom I wanted, it was marriage. When father went to sleep I leaned out of the
window  and  thought of the life I had led. I didn't want to be a bad woman.
The town was full of stories about me. I even began  to be  afraid Tom would
change his mind."
     The woman's voice began to quiver with excitement. To Doctor Reefy, who
without realizing what  was happening had begun to love her,  there  came an
odd illusion.  He thought that as  she talked the woman's body was changing,
that she was becoming younger, straighter, stronger. When he could not shake
off the illusion his mind gave it a professional twist. "It is good for both
her body and her mind, this talking," he muttered.
     The woman began telling of  an incident that had happened one afternoon
a  few months after  her  marriage. Her voice became  steadier. "In the late
afternoon I  went for a drive alone," she said. "I had a buggy and a  little
grey pony I kept in Moyer's Livery. Tom was painting and repapering rooms in
the hotel. He wanted money and I was trying to  make up  my mind to tell him
about the eight hundred dollars father had given to me. I couldn't decide to
do it. I  didn't  like him well enough.  There was always paint on his hands
and face during those days and he smelled of paint. He was trying to fix  up
the old hotel, and make it new and smart."
     The  excited woman sat  up  very straight in her chair and made a quick
girlish movement with her hand as she told  of the drive alone on the spring
afternoon. "It was cloudy and  a storm threatened,"  she said. "Black clouds
made the green of  the trees and the grass stand out so that the colors hurt
my eyes. I went out Trunion  Pike a mile or more and then turned into a side
road. The little horse went quickly along up hill and down. I was impatient.
Thoughts came and I wanted to get away from my thoughts. I began to beat the
horse. The black clouds settled down and it began to rain. I wanted to go at
a terrible speed, to drive on and on forever. I wanted to get  out of  town,
out of my  clothes, out of my marriage, out of my body, out of everything. I
almost killed the  horse, making him run, and when he could not run any more
I got out of the buggy and ran afoot into the darkness until I fell and hurt
my side. I  wanted to run away from  everything but I wanted to  run towards
something too. Don't you see, dear, how it was?"
     Elizabeth  sprang out  of the chair  and began  to  walk  about in  the
office.  She  walked as Doctor Reefy thought he had  never  seen anyone walk
before. To her whole  body there was a swing, a rhythm that intoxicated him.
When she came  and knelt on the floor beside his chair he took  her into his
arms and began to kiss  her  passionately.  "I cried  all the way home," she
said,  as  she tried  to continue the story of her wild ride, but he did not
listen.  "You dear!  You lovely dear! Oh you  lovely dear!" he  muttered and
thought  he held in  his arms not  the tired-out woman  of forty-one  but  a
lovely  and innocent  girl  who  had been able by  some  miracle  to project
herself out of the husk of the body of the tired-out woman.
     Doctor  Reefy did not see the woman he had held in his arms again until
after her death. On the  summer afternoon in the  office  when he was on the
point  of becoming her lover a  half grotesque  little incident brought  his
love-making quickly to an end. As the man  and woman held each other tightly
heavy feet came tramping up  the office stairs. The two sprang to their feet
and stood  listening and  trembling.  The noise on  the stairs was made by a
clerk from the Paris  Dry Goods Company. With a  loud bang he threw an empty
box  on the pile of  rubbish in the  hallway and then went  heavily down the
stairs. Elizabeth followed him almost immediately. The  thing that had  come
to  life in  her as she  talked to  her  one friend  died  suddenly. She was
hysterical, as was also Doctor Reefy, and did not want to continue the talk.
Along the street she went with the blood still singing in her body, but when
she turned out  of Main Street and saw ahead  the lights of the  New Willard
House,  she began  to tremble  and  her knees shook so that for a moment she
thought she would fall in the street.
     The  sick woman spent  the last few  months of  her  life hungering for
death. Along the road of death she went, seeking, hungering. She personified
the figure of death and made him now a strong blackhaired youth running over
hills, now a stem quiet man marked and scarred by the business of living. In
the darkness  of her room she put out her hand, thrusting it  from under the
covers of her bed, and she  thought  that death like a living thing  put out
his hand to her.  "Be patient, lover," she  whispered. "Keep  yourself young
and beautiful and be patient."
     On the evening when disease  laid its heavy hand upon her  and defeated
her plans  for telling her son George of  the eight  hundred  dollars hidden
away, she got out of bed and crept half across the room pleading  with death
for  another hour  of  life. "Wait, dear! The boy!  The boy!  The  boy!" she
pleaded as she tried with all of her strength to  fight off the  arms of the
lover she had wanted so earnestly.
     Elizabeth died one day in March in the year when  her son George became
eighteen, and  the young man had but  little  sense of  the meaning  of  her
death. Only  time could  give him that. For a month he  had seen  her  lying
white and still and speechless in her bed, and then one afternoon the doctor
stopped him in the hallway and said a few words.
     The young man went  into his  own  room and closed  the door. He  had a
queer  empty feeling  in  the  region of  his stomach.  For a moment he  sat
staring at, the floor and then jumping up went for a walk. Along the station
platform he  went, and around through residence streets past  the highschool
building, thinking  almost entirely of his own affairs. The notion of  death
could  not  get hold of  him and  he was in fact  a little  annoyed that his
mother had died on that day.  He had  just received a note from Helen White,
the daughter of the town banker, in answer to one from him. "Tonight I could
have gone  to see her and now it  will have to be  put off," he thought half
     Elizabeth died on a Friday afternoon at three o'clock. It had been cold
and  rainy in the morning but in  the afternoon the sun came out. Before she
died she lay paralyzed for six days  unable to speak or  move  and with only
her mind and her  eyes  alive.  For  three  of  the  six days she struggled,
thinking of her boy, trying to say some few  words in regard  to his future,
and in her eyes there was an appeal so touching that all who saw it kept the
memory of the dying woman  in their minds for  years.  Even Tom Willard, who
had always half  resented  his wife, forgot his resentment and the tears ran
out of his  eyes and lodged in his mustache. The mustache had  begun to turn
grey and Tom colored it with dye. There  was oil  in the preparation he used
for the purpose  and the tears, catching in the mustache and  being  brushed
away by his hand, formed  a fine mistlike vapor. In his  grief Tom Willard's
face looked  like the face of a little dog that has been out  a long time in
bitter weather.
     George came home  along Main Street at dark on the day  of his mother's
death and, after going to his  own room  to brush his hair and clothes, went
along the hallway and into the room where  the body lay. There was  a candle
on the dressing table  by the door and Doctor Reefy sat  in  a  chair by the
bed. The doctor  arose and started  to go out. He put out his hand as though
to greet the younger man and then  awkwardly drew it back again. The  air of
the  room was heavy with the presence of the two selfconscious human beings,
and the man hurried away.
     The dead woman's son sat down  in  a chair  and looked at the floor. He
again thought of his own  affairs  and definitely  decided he would  make  a
change in his fife, that he would  leave Winesburg. "I will go to some city.
Perhaps I can get a job on  some newspaper," he  thought, and then his  mind
turned to the girl with whom he was to have spent this evening and  again he
was half angry at the turn of events that had prevented his going to her.
     In  the dimly  lighted  room with the dead woman the young man began to
have  thoughts. His mind  played with thoughts of life as  his mother's mind
had played with the thought of death. He  closed  his eyes and imagined that
the red young  lips of  Helen  White touched his own lips. His body trembled
and his hands shook. And then something happened. The boy sprang to his feet
and stood  stiffly.  He  looked at the  figure of the dead  woman  under the
sheets and shame for his thoughts swept over him so that he began to weep. A
new notion came  into his mind and  he  turned and  looked guiltily about as
though afraid he would be observed.
     George Willard became possessed of a madness to lift the sheet from the
body of his mother and look at her face. The thought  that had come into his
mind gripped him terribly. He  became  convinced  that not  his  mother  but
someone else lay in  the  bed before him. The conviction was so real that it
was  almost unbearable.  The body  under  the  sheets was long and in  death
looked  young and graceful. To the boy,  held by  some strange fancy, it was
unspeakably lovely.  The feeling that the body before him was alive, that in
another moment a lovely woman would spring  out of the bed and confront him,
became so overpowering that he could not bear the  suspense. Again and again
he put out his  hand. Once he touched  and half lifted  the white sheet that
covered  her, but his  courage failed and he, like Doctor Reefy, turned  and
went  out  of the room.  In  the hallway  outside  the door he  stopped  and
trembled  so that he had to put  a hand against the wall to support himself.
"That's not  my  mother.  That's  not my mother in there," he  whispered  to
himself  and  again his body  shook  with  fright and uncertainty. When Aunt
Elizabeth  Swift,  who had  come to  watch  over  the body,  came out  of an
adjoining room he put his hand into  hers and began to sob, shaking his head
from side to side, half blind with grief. "My mother is dead," he said,  and
then forgetting the woman he turned and stared at the door  through which he
had just come. "The dear, the dear, oh the lovely dear,"  the  boy, urged by
some impulse outside himself, muttered aloud.
     As for the eight hundred dollars the dead woman had kept hidden so long
and that was to give George Willard his start in the city, it lay in the tin
box behind the plaster by the foot of his mother's bed. Elizabeth had put it
there a week  after her marriage, breaking the plaster  away with  a  stick.
Then she got one of the workmen her husband was at that time employing about
the hotel to mend the wall. "I jammed the corner of the bed against it," she
had  explained to  her husband, unable at the moment to give up her dream of
release, the release  that after  all came to her but twice in her life,  in
the moments when her lovers Death and Doctor Reefy held her in their arms.

     IT WAS  EARLY  evening of a  day  in, the  late fall and the  Winesburg
County Fair had brought crowds of country people into town. The day had been
clear and the  night came on warm and pleasant. On  the Trunion  Pike, where
the road after it left town stretched  away between berry fields now covered
with  dry  brown  leaves,  the  dust from passing wagons  arose  in  clouds.
Children,  curled into little  balls, slept on the straw  scattered on wagon
beds. Their hair was full of dust and  their fingers  black  and sticky. The
dust  rolled away over the fields and the departing  sun set it ablaze  with
     In  the main  street  of  Winesburg  crowds filled  the  stores and the
sidewalks. Night  came  on, horses  whinnied,  the clerks in  the stores ran
madly about, children became lost and cried lustily, an American town worked
terribly at the task of amusing itself.
     Pushing his way through the crowds in Main Street, young George Willard
concealed himself in  the  stairway  leading to  Doctor  Reefy's office  and
looked at the people. With feverish eyes he  watched the faces drifting past
under the store lights. Thoughts kept  coming into his  head and  he did not
want to think. He stamped impatiently on the wooden steps and looked sharply
about. "Well,  is she going to stay with him  all day? Have  I done all this
waiting for nothing?" he muttered.
     George Willard, the Ohio village boy, was fast growing into manhood and
new  thoughts had been coming into his mind. All that day, amid  the  jam of
people  at the Fair, he had gone about feeling lonely. He was about to leave
Winesburg  to go away to some  city where he hoped to  get  work on  a  city
newspaper  and he felt grown  up. The mood that had  taken possession of him
was a  thing  known  to men and unknown  to boys. He  felt old  and a little
tired. Memories awoke in him. To his mind  his new sense of maturity set him
apart, made of him a halftragic figure. He wanted someone to  understand the
feeling that had taken possession of him after his mother's death.
     There is a time in the  life of every boy  when he  for  the first time
takes the backward view of  life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses
the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He
is  thinking of  the  future and  of the figure  he will cut  in the  world.
Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops
under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things
creep  into his consciousness;  the  voices  outside  of  himself  whisper a
message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself
and his future  he becomes not at all  sure. If he be an imaginative  boy  a
door is tom open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing,
as though  they  marched in procession before him,  the countless figures of
men who before his time have come  out of nothingness  into the world, lived
their  lives  and  again  disappeared  into  nothingness.  The   sadness  of
sophistication has  come  to the boy. With a  little gasp he sees himself as
merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows
that in  spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die  in
uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to  wilt
in  the sun. He shivers and  looks eagerly about. The eighteen years  he has
lived seem but a moment,  a breathing  space in the  long march of humanity.
Already he hears death calling. With all his heart he wants to come close to
some other human,  touch someone with  his hands, be touched by the  hand of
another. If  he  prefers  that  the other  be  a  woman,  that is because he
believes that a woman will be gentle, that she  will understand.  He  wants,
most of all, understanding.
     When the  moment of  sophistication  came to  George Willard  his  mind
turned to Helen White,  the Winesburg banker's daughter. Always  he had been
conscious of the girl growing  into womanhood as he  grew into manhood. Once
on a summer  night when he was eighteen, he had walked with her on a country
road and in her presence had given  way  to an  impulse to  boast,  to  make
himself appear big and significant in her eyes. Now he wanted to see her for
another purpose. He wanted to tell her of the  new impulses that had come to
him. He had tried to make her think of him as a man  when he knew nothing of
manhood and  now he wanted to be with her and  to try  to make  her feel the
change he believed had taken place in his nature.
     As  for Helen  White,  she also  had come to  a  period of change. What
George felt, she in  her young woman's  way  felt also.  She was no longer a
girl and hungered to reach into the grace  and beauty  of womanhood. She had
come home from Cleveland, where she was attending college, to spend a day at
the Fair. She also had begun to have memories. During the day she sat in the
grand-stand with a young man,  one  of the instructors from the college, who
was a guest  of her mother's. The young man  was of a pedantic  turn of mind
and she felt at  once he would not  do for her purpose. At  the Fair she was
glad to be  seen in his company as he was well dressed and a  stranger.  She
knew that the fact of  his presence would  create  an impression. During the
day  she was happy,  but when night came on she began to  grow restless. She
wanted to drive the instructor  away, to get out of his presence. While they
sat  together in  the grand-stand and while  the  eyes of former schoolmates
were upon  them, she paid  so  much attention  to her  escort  that  he grew
interested. "A scholar needs  money. I should marry a woman with  money," he
     Helen White was thinking of George Willard even as he wandered gloomily
through the crowds thinking of  her. She remembered  the summer evening when
they had walked together and wanted to walk with him again. She thought that
the months she  had spent  in the city, the going to theaters and the seeing
of  great  crowds  wandering  in  lighted  thoroughfares,  had  changed  her
profoundly. She wanted him  to feel and be conscious of  the  change  in her
     The  summer evening  together that had  left its mark on the  memory of
both the young man and woman had, when looked at quite sensibly, been rather
stupidly spent.  They had walked out of town along a country road. Then they
had stopped by a fence near a field of young corn and  George had taken  off
his  coat  and  let  it  hang  on  his  arm.  "Well,  I've  stayed  here  in
Winesburg--yes--I've not yet  gone  away but I'm  growing up," he had  said.
"I've been reading books and  I've been thinking. I'm going to try to amount
to something in life.
     "Well," he explained,  "that isn't  the point. Perhaps I'd better  quit
     The confused boy put  his hand on the  girl's arm.  His voice trembled.
The two started to walk back  along the road toward town. In his desperation
George boasted, "I'm going to be a big man, the biggest that ever lived here
in Winesburg," he declared. "I want you to do something,  I don't know what.
Perhaps it  is none  of my business. I want you to try to  be different from
other women. You see the  point. It's none of my business I tell you. I want
you to be a beautiful woman. You see what I want."
     The boy's voice failed and in silence the two  came back into  town and
went along the street  to Helen  White's house. At the  gate he tried to say
something impressive.  Speeches he  had thought out came into his head,  but
they  seemed utterly pointless. "I thought--I  used to think--I had it in my
mind you would marry Seth Richmond. Now  I know you won't," was all he could
find to say as she went through the gate and toward the door of her house.
     On the warm fall evening as he stood in the stairway  and looked at the
crowd drifting  through Main Street, George  thought  of the talk beside the
field of young corn and was ashamed of the figure he had made of himself. In
the  street the  people surged up  and down like  cattle confined  in a pen.
Buggies and  wagons almost filled the narrow thoroughfare. A band played and
small boys raced along the sidewalk, diving between the legs  of men.  Young
men with shining red  faces walked awkwardly about with girls on their arms.
In  a room  above  one  of the stores,  where  a dance was  to be held,  the
fiddlers tuned their instruments.  The broken sounds floated down through an
open window and  out across the murmur of voices and the loud  blare of  the
horns  of the band. The medley  of  sounds got  on young  Willard's  nerves.
Everywhere, on all sides, the sense of crowding, moving life closed in about
him. He wanted to run away by himself  and think. "If she wants to stay with
that fellow she may. Why should I care? What difference does it make to me?"
he growled and went along Main Street and through Hern's Grocery into a side
     George felt so utterly lonely and dejected that he wanted to  weep  but
pride made  him walk rapidly along,  swinging  his arms. He came  to  Wesley
Moyer's livery barn and stopped in the shadows to listen to a  group  of men
who talked of a race Wesley's stallion, Tony Tip, had won at the Fair during
the  afternoon. A crowd had gathered  in front  of  the barn and before  the
crowd walked Wesley, prancing up  and down boasting. He  held a  whip in his
hand  and kept  tapping  the  ground.  Little puffs  of dust  arose  in  the
lamplight. "Hell, quit your talking," Wesley  exclaimed. "I wasn't afraid, I
knew I had 'em beat all the time. I wasn't afraid."
     Ordinarily George Willard would have been  intensely  interested in the
boasting  of Moyer, the  horseman. Now it  made  him  angry.  He  turned and
hurried away along  the street. "Old windbag," he  sputtered.  "Why  does he
want to be bragging? Why don't he shut up?"
     George went  into a  vacant lot and, as he hurried along,  fell over  a
pile of rubbish. A nail protruding  from an empty barrel tore his  trousers.
He sat down on the ground and swore. With a pin he mended the torn place and
then arose  and went on. "I'll  go to Helen White's house, that's what  I'll
do. I'll walk right in. I'll  say that I want to see her. I'll walk right in
and sit down, that's what I'll do," he declared,  climbing over  a fence and
beginning to run.
     On  the  veranda  of  Banker  White's  house  Helen  was  restless  and
distraught. The instructor  sat between  the  mother and daughter. His  talk
wearied  the girl.  Although he had  also been  raised in an Ohio town,  the
instructor began to  put  on the airs  of  the  city.  He  wanted  to appear
cosmopolitan.  "I like the chance you  have given me to study the background
out of which most of our girls come," he declared. "It was good of you, Mrs.
White, to have me down  for the day." He turned to  Helen and laughed. "Your
life is  still  bound  up with the life of this town?" he asked.  "There are
people  here in whom  you  are  interested?" To  the  girl his voice sounded
pompous and heavy.
     Helen arose and went into the house. At the door leading to a garden at
the  back she stopped and stood listening. Her mother  began to talk. "There
is no one here fit to associate with a girl of Helen's breeding," she said.
     Helen ran down a flight of stairs at the back of the house and into the
garden.  In the darkness she stopped  and stood trembling. It seemed  to her
that  the world  was full  of meaningless people saying  words.  Afire  with
eagerness  she  ran  through  a  garden gate  and, turning  a corner  by the
banker's  barn,  went  into  a  little side street. "George! Where  are you,
George?" she cried, filled with nervous excitement. She stopped running, and
leaned against a  tree to laugh hysterically.  Along the dark  little street
came George Willard, still  saying words. "I'm going to walk  right into her
house. I'll go right in and sit down, " he declared as he came up to her. He
stopped and stared stupidly. "Come on," he  said and took hold of  her hand.
With  hanging  heads they walked away along  the street under the trees. Dry
leaves rustled under foot. Now that he had found her George wondered what he
had better do and say.
     At  the upper  end of the Fair  Ground,  in Winesburg,  there is a half
decayed  old grand-stand. It  has never  been painted and the boards are all
warped out of shape. The Fair Ground stands on top of  a low hill rising out
of  the  valley of Wine Creek and from the grand-stand one can see at night,
over a cornfield, the lights of the town reflected against the sky.
     George and  Helen  climbed  the  hill to the Fair Ground, coming by the
path past Waterworks Pond. The  feeling of loneliness and isolation that had
come to the young man in the crowded streets of his town was both broken and
intensified by the presence of Helen. What he felt was reflected in her.
     In  youth  there  are  always two forces  fighting  in people. The warm
unthinking  little animal  struggles  against the thing  that  reflects  and
remembers, and the  older,  the  more sophisticated  thing had possession of
George  Willard.  Sensing  his  mood,  Helen walked beside  him  filled with
respect. When they got to the grand-stand they climbed up under the roof and
sat down on one of the long bench-like seats.
     There is something memorable in the  experience to be had by going into
a fair ground that stands at  the edge of  a Middle  Western town on a night
after  the  annual  fair has been  held.  The sensation is one  never to  be
forgotten. On all  sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but  of living people.
Here, during  the day just passed,  have come the people pouring in from the
town and the country around. Farmers with their wives and  children  and all
the  people from  the hundreds of little  frame houses have  gathered within
these board walls. Young girls have laughed and  men with beards have talked
of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with
life. It has itched and squirmed  with life and now it is night and the life
has all gone away.  The silence is almost  terrifying. One conceals  oneself
standing  silently  beside  the trunk  of  a  tree  and  what there is  of a
reflective tendency  in  his nature is  intensified.  One  shudders  at  the
thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the
people of  the town are  his people, one  loves life so intensely that tears
come into the eyes.
     In  the darkness under the  roof of the grand-stand, George Willard sat
beside Helen White and felt very keenly his own insignificance in the scheme
of  existence. Now that he had come out  of town where  the  presence of the
people stirring  about,  busy  with  a multitude  of affairs,  had  been  so
irritating,  the irritation was all gone. The presence of Helen renewed  and
refreshed him. It was as though her woman's hand was assisting  him  to make
some minute readjustment of the  machinery of his life. He began to think of
the people  in  the town where  he had  always  lived  with  something  like
reverence. He had reverence for  Helen. He wanted to love and to be loved by
her, but he did not want at the moment to  be  confused by her womanhood. In
the darkness he took hold of her hand and when she crept close put a hand on
her shoulder. A wind began to blow and he shivered. With all his strength he
tried to hold and  to understand the mood that  had come  upon him. In  that
high place in the  darkness  the two oddly sensitive human atoms  held  each
other tightly and waited. In the mind of each was the same thought.  "I have
come to this lonely place  and here is this other," was the substance of the
thing felt.
     In Winesburg the crowded day had run itself out into the long night  of
the late fall. Farm  horses jogged  away along lonely country  roads pulling
their portion of weary people. Clerks began to bring samples of goods in off
the  sidewalks and  lock the doors of stores. In the Opera House a crowd had
gathered  to see  a  show and further  down Main Street the  fiddlers, their
instruments tuned, sweated and worked to keep the  feet of youth flying over
a dance floor.
     In the  darkness in the  grand-stand  Helen  White and  George  Willard
remained silent. Now and  then  the spell that held them was broken and they
turned and tried in the dim light to see into each other's eyes. They kissed
but that impulse did not last. At the upper  end of  the Fair Ground  a half
dozen men worked over  horses  that had raced  during the afternoon. The men
had built a fire and were heating kettles of water. Only their legs could be
seen  as they passed  back  and forth in the  light. When the wind blew  the
little flames of the fire danced crazily about.
     George and  Helen arose and walked away  into  the darkness. They  went
along a  path past  a  field  of corn that had  not  yet been cut. The  wind
whispered among the dry corn blades. For a  moment during the walk back into
town the spell that held them was broken. When they had come to the crest of
Waterworks Hill they stopped by a tree and George again put his hands on the
girl's shoulders. She embraced him eagerly and  then again they drew quickly
back from  that  impulse.  They  stopped  kissing and  stood a little apart.
Mutual  respect grew big in them. They were both embarrassed  and to relieve
their embarrassment  dropped into the animalism of  youth. They  laughed and
began to pull and  haul at each other. In some way chastened and purified by
the mood they had been in, they became, not man and woman, not boy and girl,
but excited little animals.
     It was so they went down the hill. In the darkness they played like two
splendid young things in a young world. Once, running swiftly forward, Helen
tripped  George and he fell. He squirmed and shouted. Shaking with laughter,
he roiled down the hill. Helen ran after him. For just a moment  she stopped
in  the darkness. There  was no way of knowing  what  woman's thoughts  went
through  her mind but, when the bottom of the hill was reached and  she came
up to the boy,  she took his arm and walked beside him in dignified silence.
For some  reason they could  not have explained they had both got from their
silent  evening together the thing needed. Man  or boy, woman or girl,  they
had for a moment taken hold of  the thing that  makes the mature life of men
and women in the modern world possible.

     YOUNG  GEORGE  WILLARD  got out of  bed at four in  the morning. It was
April and  the young  tree  leaves  were just coming  out of their buds. The
trees along the residence streets in Winesburg are maple  and the  seeds are
winged.  When the wind blows they whirl crazily  about, filling the air  and
making a carpet underfoot.
     George came downstairs into  the  hotel office carrying a brown leather
bag. His trunk was packed for departure. Since two o'clock he had been awake
thinking  of the journey he was  about to take and  wondering what  he would
find at the end of his journey. The boy who slept in the hotel office lay on
a cot by the door. His mouth  was open and  he snored lustily.  George crept
past the cot and went out into the silent deserted main street. The east was
pink with  the dawn and long streaks of light climbed  into the  sky where a
few stars still shone.
     Beyond the  last house on  Trunion Pike in Winesburg there  is  a great
stretch of open fields. The fields are owned by farmers who live in town and
drive homeward at evening  along Trunion Pike in  light creaking  wagons. In
the  fields are planted berries and small  fruits. In the late afternoon  in
the hot  summers when the road and the fields are covered with dust, a smoky
haze lies over the great flat basin  of land.  To  look  across  it  is like
looking  out across the sea. In the spring when the land is green the effect
is somewhat different. The land becomes a wide green billiard table on which
tiny human insects toil up and down.
     All through  his  boyhood and young manhood  George Willard had been in
the habit of walking on  Trunion Pike. He had been in the midst of the great
open place on winter nights when it was covered with  snow and only the moon
looked down at him; he had been there in the fall  when bleak winds blew and
on summer evenings  when the air  vibrated with the song of  insects. On the
April morning he  wanted to go there again, to walk again in the silence. He
did walk to where the road  dipped down by  a  little stream  two miles from
town and then turned and  walked silently  back again. When  he got  to Main
Street  clerks were sweeping  the  sidewalks  before  the stores. "Hey,  you
George. How does it feel to be going away?" they asked.
     The  westbound train  leaves  Winesburg  at  seven  forty-five  in  the
morning. Tom Little is conductor.  His train runs from Cleveland to where it
connects  with a great trunk line railroad with terminals in Chicago and New
York.  Tom  has  what in railroad  circles  is called  an  "easy run." Every
evening  he  returns to his family.  In  the fall  and spring  he spends his
Sundays fishing in  Lake Erie. He has a round red  face and small blue eyes.
He knows the  people in the towns along his railroad better than a city  man
knows the people who live in his apartment building.
     George came down the little incline from the New Willard House at seven
o'clock. Tom Willard carried his  bag. The  son  had  become taller than the
     On  the station platform everyone shook the young man's hand. More than
a dozen people  waited about. Then they talked  of  their own affairs.  Even
Will Henderson, who was lazy and often slept until nine, had got out of bed.
George was  embarrassed.  Gertrude Wilmot,  a tall  thin  woman of fifty who
worked in the  Winesburg post office,  came  along the station platform. She
had never before paid any attention to George. Now she  stopped and  put out
her hand. In two words she voiced what  everyone felt. "Good luck," she said
sharply and then turning went on her way.
     When the train came into the station George felt relieved. He scampered
hurriedly aboard. Helen White came running along Main Street  hoping to have
a parting word with him, but he had found a seat and  did  not see her. When
the train started Tom Little punched  his ticket, grinned  and, although  he
knew George well and knew on what adventure he was just setting out, made no
comment.  Tom  had seen a thousand George Willards go  out of their towns to
the city. It was a commonplace enough incident with him.  In the smoking car
there was a man who had just invited Tom to go on a fishing trip to Sandusky
Bay. He wanted to accept the invitation and talk over details.
     George glanced up and down the car to be sure no one was looking,  then
took out his pocketbook and counted  his money. His mind was occupied with a
desire not to appear green. Almost the last words his father had said to him
concerned the  matter of his behavior when  he got to the city.  "Be a sharp
one," Tom Willard  had said. "Keep your eyes on your money. Be awake. That's
the ticket. Don't let anyone think you're a greenhorn."
     After George counted his money  he  looked  out of  the  window and was
surprised to see that the train was still in Winesburg.
     The  young man, going out of  his town  to meet the  adventure of life,
began to think but he did not think of anything very big or dramatic. Things
like  his mother's death, his  departure from Winesburg, the  uncertainty of
his future life in the city, the serious and  larger aspects of his life did
not come into his mind.
     He thought of  little things--Turk Smollet wheeling boards  through the
main street  of his town in the  morning, a  tall woman, beautifully gowned,
who had once stayed overnight at his father's hotel, Butch  Wheeler the lamp
lighter  of Winesburg hurrying through the streets  on a  summer evening and
holding a  torch  in  his hand,  Helen White  standing by  a window  in  the
Winesburg post office and putting a stamp on an envelope.
     The  young  man's mind was  carried  away by  his growing  passion  for
dreams. One looking at him  would not  have  thought him particularly sharp.
With the recollection of little things occupying his mind he closed his eyes
and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when
he aroused himself  and  again looked  out of  the  car  window the  town of
Winesburg had disappeared  and his life there had become but a background on
which to paint the dreams of his manhood.

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