The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss

Free The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss by Louis Auchincloss

Book: The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss by Louis Auchincloss Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis Auchincloss
dolefully, rubbing his eyes. “You have no idea. You’re the first person who ever asked me to do anything in my whole life. When you asked me to go for a walk with you. Last summer.”
    â€œWell, I did this summer too.”
    â€œYes,” he said, shaking his head, “I know. And I couldn’t go. But the reason I couldn’t go was that I was busy. And the reason I was busy was what you told me.”
    I stared down at him.
    â€œWhat the hell did I tell you?”
    â€œTo do things. See people. Be somebody.” He looked up at me now with dried eyes. There was suddenly and quite unexpectedly almost a note of confidence in his tone.
    â€œAnd how do you do that?”
    â€œThe only way I can. I go out.”
    I ran my hand through my hair in a confusion of reluctant amusement and despair.
    â€œI didn’t mean it that way, Greg,” I protested. “I wanted you to see the world. Life. Before it was too late.”
    He nodded placidly.
    â€œThat’s what I’m doing,” he said.
    â€œBut I wanted you to read big books and think big thoughts,” I said desperately. “How can you twist that into my telling you to become a tea caddy?”
    His wide thoughtless eyes were filled with reproach.
    â€œYou knew I couldn’t read books,” he said gravely. “Or think big thoughts. You were playing with me.”
    I stared.
    â€œThen why did you think you had to do anything?”
    â€œBecause you made me want to.” He looked away, across the gravel, into the deep green of the forest. “I could feel your contempt. I had never felt that before. No one had ever cared enough to feel contempt. Except you.”
    As I looked at him I wondered if there were any traces of his having felt such a sting. I was baffled, almost angry at his very expressionlessness. That he could sit and indict me so appallingly for my interference, could face me with so direct a responsibility, was surely a dreadful thing if he cared, but if he didn’t, if he was simply making a fool of me . . .
    â€œI hope you don’t think,” I said brutally, “that you can lessen any contempt that you think I may feel for you by becoming a social lion in Anchor Harbor.”
    He shook his head.
    â€œNo,” he said firmly. “Your contempt is something I shall have to put up with. No matter what I do. I can’t read or think or talk the way you do. I can’t work. I can’t even cut any sort of figure with the girls. There aren’t many things open to me. You’re like my mother. You know that, really, but you think of me as if I was somebody else.”
    I took a cigarette out of my case, lit it and sat down beside him. From around the corner of the big house came a burst of laughter from Theodora’s friends.
    â€œWhere are you headed, then, Greg?” I asked him as sympathetically as I could.
    He turned and faced me.
    â€œTo the top of the peninsula,” he said. “I’m going to be a social leader.”
    I burst into a rude laugh.
    â€œThe
arbiter elegantiarum
of Anchor Harbor?” I cried.
    â€œI don’t know what that means,” he said gravely.
    Again I laughed. The sheer inanity of it had collapsed my mounting sympathy.
    â€œYou’re mad,” I said sharply. “You haven’t got money or looks or even wit. Your bridge is lousy. You play no sports. Let’s face it, man. You’ll never make it. Even in this crazy place.”
    Greg seemed in no way perturbed by my roughness. His humility was complete. The only thing, I quickly divined, that could arouse the flow of his tears was to turn from him. As long as one spoke to him, one could say anything.
    â€œEverything you say is true,” he conceded blandly. “I’d be the last to deny it. But you watch. I’ll get there.”
    â€œWith the old ladies, perhaps,” I said scornfully. “If that’s what you

Similar Books

Sister Secrets

Titania Woods

Siren-epub

Cathryn Fox

After Tex

Sherryl Woods

Franklin's Christmas Gift

Brenda Clark, Paulette Bourgeois

Plastic Jesus

Poppy Z. Brite

Path of the Jaguar

Vickie Britton, Loretta Jackson