Extreme Magic

Extreme Magic by Hortense Calisher Read Free Book Online

Book: Extreme Magic by Hortense Calisher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hortense Calisher
way.” Looking at Eunice, still neat, still very pretty, but with her lovely mouth pursed with maternity, her gaze sharp enough for Kinder and Küche, but abstract apparently for him, he saw that she had gone over to the enemy and was no longer his. Eunice had become “the family” too.
    It was as a direct consequence of this that Grorley wrote the book which was his making. Right after that fatal morning, he had engaged a room in a cheap downtown hotel (he and Eunice were living out in Astoria at the time), with the intention, as he explained to Eunice, of writing there after he left the paper, and coming home weekends. He had also warned her that, because of the abrasive effects of family life, it would probably be quite some time before “the springs of reverie”—a phrase he had lifted from Ellen Glasgow—would start churning. His real intention was, of course, to prowl, and for some weeks thereafter he joined the company of those men who could be found, night after night, in places where they could enjoy the freedom of not having gone home where they belonged.
    To his surprise, he found, all too quickly, that though his intentions were of the worst, he had somehow lost the moral force to pursue them. He had never been much for continuous strong drink, and that crude savoir-faire which was needed for the preliminaries to lechery seemed to have grown creaky with the years. He took to spending odd hours in the newspaper morgue, correlating, in a halfhearted way, certain current affairs that interested him. After some months, he suddenly realized that he had enough material for a book. It found a publisher almost immediately. Since he was much more a child of his period than he knew, he had hit upon exactly that note between disaffection and hope which met response in the breasts of those who regarded themselves as permanent political independents. His book was an instant success with those who thought of themselves as thinking for themselves (if they had only had time for it). Quick to capitalize upon this, Grorley’s paper gave him a biweekly column, and he developed a considerable talent for telling men of good will, over Wednesday breakfast, the very thing they had been saying to one another at Tuesday night dinner.
    Grorley spent the war years doing this, always careful to keep his column, like his readers, one step behind events. With certain minor changes, he kept, too, that scheme of life which had started him writing, changing only, with affluence, to a more comfortable hotel. In time also, that savoir-faire whose loss he had mourned returned to him, and his success at his profession erased any guilts he might otherwise have had—a wider experience, he told himself, being not only necessary to a man of his trade, but almost unavoidable in the practice of it. He often congratulated himself at having achieved, in a country which had almost completely domesticated the male, the perfect pattern for a man of temperament, and at times he became almost insufferable to some of his married men friends, when he dilated on the contrast between his “continental” way of life and their own. For by then, Grorley had reversed himself—it was his weekends and holidays that were now spent cozily en famille. It was pleasant, coming back to the house in Tarrytown on Friday evenings, coming back from the crusades to find Eunice and the whole household decked out, literally and psychologically, for his return. One grew sentimentally fond of children whom one saw only under such conditions—Grorley’s Saturdays were now spent, as he himself boasted, “on all fours,” in the rejuvenating air of the skating rinks, the museums, the woods, and the zoos. Sundays and holidays he and Eunice often entertained their relatives, and if, as the turkey browned, he had a momentary twinge of his old mal de famille, he had but to remember that his hat was, after all, only hung in the hall.
    It was only some years after the war that

Similar Books

Ladd Fortune

Dianne Venetta

Yesterday's Tomorrows

M. E. Montgomery

Forest of Whispers

Jennifer Murgia

The Songs of Distant Earth

Arthur C. Clarke

Feather Boy

Nicky Singer

Summer Pain

Destiny Blaine