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"'A serving lady speaks:
Black velvet trails its folds over the day,
White tapers, prisoned in their silver frames,
Wave their thin flames like shadows in the wind,
Pia, Pompia, come--come away--'
"Now, what the devil does that mean?"
"It's a pantry scene."
"'Her toes are stiffened like a stork's in flight;
She's laid upon her bed, on the white sheets,
Her hands pressed on her smooth bust like a saint,
Bella Cunizza, come into the light!'
"My gosh, Kerry, what in hell is it all about? I swear I don't get him
at all, and I'm a literary bird myself."
"It's pretty tricky," said Kerry, "only you've got to think of hearses
and stale milk when you read it. That isn't as pash as some of them."
Amory tossed the magazine on the table.
"Well," he sighed, "I sure am up in the air. I know I'm not a regular
fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't decide whether to
cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist, or to thumb my nose at the
Golden Treasury and be a Princeton slicker."
"Why decide?" suggested Kerry. "Better drift, like me. I'm going to sail
into prominence on Burne's coat-tails."
"I can't drift--I want to be interested. I want to pull strings, even
for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle president. I
want to be admired, Kerry."
"You're thinking too much about yourself."
Amory sat up at this.
"No. I'm thinking about you, too. We've got to get out and mix around
the class right now, when it's fun to be a snob. I'd like to bring a
sardine to the prom in June, for instance, but I wouldn't do it unless
I could be damn debonaire about it--introduce her to all the prize
parlor-snakes, and the football captain, and all that simple stuff."
"Amory," said Kerry impatiently, "you're just going around in a circle.
If you want to be prominent, get out and try for something; if you
don't, just take it easy." He yawned. "Come on, let's let the smoke
drift off. We'll go down and watch football practice."
Amory gradually accepted this point of view, decided that next fall
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