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The Century Magazine in its relation
N its fifty years of life THE CENTURY has helped powerfully to create and support American culture. We are deeply and humbly proud of our past. But we mean to be equally proud of a significant future.
Culture has come out of her closet. It can no longer be defined in terms of art and literature alone. Today, a man cannot be cultivated who does not understand the significance of political, economic, sociological movements. So we are out for a CENTURY which is quick with all the living impulses of today, whose pages are full of the subjects that are in men's minds. We mean that the greater CENTURY shall be not only all that it has ever been to the lover of art and literature but, moreover, the best resource of men and women who are living fully in their own wonderful period of the world's history. We are going to make it more and more their kind of magazine; it is going to have more and finer articles and features which are vividly of today. We shall reach out to the sources; go to those men of our times whose vision is clear, whose special knowledge is interesting, whose position gives the a valuable viewpoint and inspire them to expressions of their thought. We shall admit men of many minds, as we believe our readers are not those who can be injured by exposure to thought.
Below are some of the contents of the June number:
By RABINDRANATH TAGORE: THE POET'S RELIGION
An intriguing paper on the poet's quest of the beauty and the unity of life.
By H. L. MENCKEN: JAMES HUNEKER
Mr. Mencken, in a paper of staccato brilliancy and provocative content, gives a satisfying picture of this "play boy of the seven arts' in whose death the world of criticism lost an important figure.
By CONRAD AIKEN: FOUR POEMS
These four poems of Conrad Aiken's, each of considerable length. constitute the first of a number of such groups by poets of distinction
By HARRY A. FRANCK: RIO DE JANEIRO AND THE CARIACOS An article full of Mr. Franck's zest for the true picture and his keer valuation of facts.
(See next page)
WENT to Kennuit to be quiet through the summer vacation. I was tired after my first year as associate professor, and I had to finish my "Life of Ben Jonson." Certainly the last thing I desired was that dying man in the hot room and the pile of scrawled booklets.
I boarded with Mrs. Nickerson in a cottage of silver-gray shingles under silver-gray poplars, heard only the harsh fiddling of locusts and the distant rage of the surf, looked out on a yard of bright wild grass and a jolly windmill weather-vane, and made notes about Ben Jonson. I was as secluded and happy as old Thoreau raising beans and feeling superior at Walden.
My fiancee,-Quinta Gates, sister of Professor Gates, and lovelier than ever in the delicate culture she had attained at thirty-seven,-Quinta urged me to join them at Fleet Harbor. It is agreeable to be with Quinta. While I cannot say that we are stirred to such absurd manifestations as kissing and hand-holding,-why any sensible person should care to hold a damp female hand is beyond me, we do find each other inspiriting. But Fleet But Fleet
Harbor would be full of "summerites," dreadful young people in white flannels, singing their jazz ballads.
No, at thought of my spacious, leafy freedom I wriggled with luxury and settled down to an absorbed period when night and day glided into one ecstasy of dreaming study. Naturally, then, I was angry when I heard a puckery voice outside in the tiny hallway: "Well, if he's a professor, I got to see him."
A knock. I affected to ignore it. It was irritatingly repeated until I roared, "Well, well, well?" I am normally, I trust, a gentle person, but I desired to give them the impression of
Mrs. Nickerson billowed in, squeak
"Mis' White from Lobster Pot Neck wants to see you."
Past her wriggled a pinch-faced, humorless-looking woman. She glared at Mrs. Nickerson, thrust her out, and shut the door. I could hear Mrs. Nickerson protesting, "Well, upon my word!"
I believe I rose and did the usual civilities. I remember this woman, Miss or Mrs. White, immediately ask
Copyright, 1921, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.
ing me, with extraordinary earnest- barrassed awe was diluted, and I al
"Are you a professor?"
"I teach English."
I pointed to a box of manuscript. "Then, please, you got to help us. Byron Sanders is dying. He says he's got to see a learned man to give him some important papers." Doubtless I betrayed hesitation, for I can remember her voice rising in creepy ululation: "Please! He's dyingthat good old man that never hurt nobody!"
I fluttered about the room to find my cap. I fretted that her silly phrase of "important papers" sounded like a melodrama, with maps of buried treasure, or with long-lost proofs that the chore boy is really the kidnapped son of royalty. But these unconscious defenses against the compulsion expressed in her face, with its taut and terrified oval of open mouth, were in vain. She mooned at me, she impatiently waited. I dabbled at my collar and lapels with my fingers, instead of decently brushing off the stains of smoking and scribbling. I came stumbling and breathless after her.
She walked rapidly, unspeaking, intense, and I followed six inches behind, bespelled by her red-and-black gingham waist and her chip of a brown hat. We slipped among the gray houses of the town, stumped into country stilly and shimmering with late afternoon. By a trail among long salty grasses we passed an inlet where sandpipers sprinted and horseshoe-crabs bobbed on the crisping ripples. We crossed a moorland to a glorious point of blowing grasses and sharp salt odor, with the waves of the harbor flickering beyond. In that resolute place my em
most laughed as I wondered:
"What is this story-book errand? Ho, for the buried treasure! I'll fit up a fleet, out of the six hundred dollars I have in the savings-bank, and find the pirates' skellingtons. 'Important papers!' I 'll comfort the poor dying gentleman, and be back in time for another page before supper. The harbor is enchanting. I really must have a sail this summer or go swimming."
My liveliness, uneasy at best in the presence of that frightened, fleeing woman, wavered when we had dipped down through a cranberry-bog and entered a still, hot woods of dying pines. They were dying, I tell you, as that old man in there was dying. The leaves were of a dry color of brick dust; they had fallen in heaps that crunched beneath my feet; the trunks were lean and black, with an irritation of branches; and all the dim alleys were choking with a dusty odor of decay. It was hot and hushed, and my throat tickled, my limbs dragged in a hopeless languor.
Through ugly trunks and red needles we came to a restrained dooryard and an ancient, irregular house, a dark house, very sullen. No one had laughed there these many years. The windows were draped. The low porch between the main structure and a sagging ell was drifted with the pineneedles. My companion's tread was startling and indecent on the flapping planks. She held open the door. I hesitated. I was not annoyed now; I was afraid, and I knew not of what I was afraid.
Prickly with unknown disquietude, I entered. We traversed a hall choked with relics of the old shipping days of Kennuit: a whale's vertebra, a crib