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coldness and lack of affection, amounting sometimes to cruelty... a
shifting sense of honor... an unholy selfishness... a puzzled, furtive
interest in everything concerning sex.
There was, also, a curious strain of weakness running crosswise through
his make-up... a harsh phrase from the lips of an older boy (older boys
usually detested him) was liable to sweep him off his poise into surly
sensitiveness, or timid stupidity... he was a slave to his own moods
and he felt that though he was capable of recklessness and audacity, he
possessed neither courage, perseverance, nor self-respect.
Vanity, tempered with self-suspicion if not self-knowledge, a sense of
people as automatons to his will, a desire to "pass" as many boys as
possible and get to a vague top of the world... with this background did
Amory drift into adolescence.
PREPARATORY TO THE GREAT ADVENTURE
The train slowed up with midsummer languor at Lake Geneva, and Amory
caught sight of his mother waiting in her electric on the gravelled
station drive. It was an ancient electric, one of the early types, and
painted gray. The sight of her sitting there, slenderly erect, and
of her face, where beauty and dignity combined, melting to a dreamy
recollected smile, filled him with a sudden great pride of her. As they
kissed coolly and he stepped into the electric, he felt a quick fear
lest he had lost the requisite charm to measure up to her.
"Dear boy--you're _so_ tall... look behind and see if there's anything
She looked left and right, she slipped cautiously into a speed of two
miles an hour, beseeching Amory to act as sentinel; and at one busy
crossing she made him get out and run ahead to signal her forward like a
traffic policeman. Beatrice was what might be termed a careful driver.
"You _are_ tall--but you're still very handsome--you've skipped the
awkward age, or is that sixteen; perhaps it's fourteen or fifteen; I can
never remember; but you've skipped it."
"Don't embarrass me," murmured Amory.
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