The Incredible Charlie Carewe by Mary Astor

  • Their funny bones were sensitive. The serious face of their father, with an ever so slightly raised eyebrow, or their mother’s gently pursed lips, were usually sufficient to relax them back into boredom. On one
  • Virginia turned and walked on to the rocky point, where the pines tilted and reached with wind-torn arms over the edge, and the distant sound of the turbulent channel’s mouth gushed and sucked and growled beneath them
  • They were too young for the comfort of silence. They were still strangers as far as length of acquaintance went, but the tragedy had accomplished what a month of days of ordinary companionship could never have done. There was a bond and it begged recognition.
  • They walked back slowly, talking easily, about their young lives, about the strange confusions and sense of alienation in the stage between being children and being grown up.12293306
  • What they “had not” was not so much money as sound judgment, the good breeding that is cautious of extremes, knowing instinctively that a money market that showed graphs like a high fever was a sick market, and the only sensible thing had been to sell out, to turn one’s back on it. Humbly, Walter attributed his judgments, his acts, not entirely to his own acumen, but to the accumulation of his inheritance of sound solid principles. It was breeding, pure and simple, and it was this breeding that had come through in Charlie. He was as fine and spirited as a blooded race horse, and that unfortunate accident had only served as a kind of shock that made Charlie aware of his true self
  • Wasn’t he aware of the language bargains, the implied meanings below the levels of speech that everyone used?
  • That little moment of delay in answering a question seemed to tell the questioner that you thought that what he had asked contained more importance than was apparent, and you needed a minute to study it. Then, when you answered, and if you were wrong, you could offer a smiling look of helplessness that said, “You’re so wonderfully profound—do you expect poor little me to give a satisfactory answer? I can but flounder in confusion!” It worked in all kinds of ways. Like not talking when everybody else was jabbering. Like sitting still when everybody was fidgeting or walking around. You became a kind of magnet. And being a magnet was fun
  • How had he got such a hold on her? Jane felt ruefully that perhaps at last she had found out what love was. At first it had simply been the familiar chemical attraction. The little ringing of a bell inside her that gave notice that it must be eventually answered. That after a few preliminary, mutually agreed upon, unspoken half yieldings, little flights and pursuits, there would be the frantic surrender, the stifling entanglement, the grasping, driving, urgent need for release—never found, never found. Nothing but exhaustion and ennui.
  • She stopped trying. Protecting them both from his headstrong impulsiveness was a full-time job. She had to do the thinking, the worrying, the maneuvering out of situations that might be dangerous. Love and exasperation were mismates but they had to be accepted.
  • All over the country people read newspapers, listened to radios, shook their heads at the reports of crime and impending war, and publicly lamented the plight of the struggling human race, but in the privacy of their own thoughts each was more seriously concerned with personal struggles quite different from those that enveloped the world.
  • The pines spread their fingers in front of the face of the falls, beckoning her to come and dream with them, to forget for a while the heavy voices, the heavy jokes, the sweating men who would at the signal of the setting sun be consumed with thirst.
  • Gregg groped for his collar to loosen it, but it was wrapped solidly in a scarf and overlaid with his overcoat, so he abandoned the gesture
  • I think the whole psychology of our competitive culture is an anachronism dating back to the pioneer days of the country, when an enormous amount of energy was launched in pushing out the frontiers
  • He’s a killer—without a weapon. The only weapon he’ll use is himself. And, if you ask me, he’s already begun.”
  • Because he was never deeply involved he could anticipate emotions
  • Other men looked at her, the loggers with their leering, their jokes, their eyes that were like hands
  • He was roused more by the sense of Mavis’ presence than by any sound she had made. She was placing a napkin-covered basket beside him.
  • There was a difference, she thought, between sound and noise. The forest was never really still for long, there was always a sound of water, the chatter of a squirrel, the murmur of a breeze, the crash of a dead branch. A wave of homesickness swept over her, surprising and shocking, so that she sat up straight on the bed, feeling that she had been secretly disloyal to Charlie.
  • Loving him was absurd, for there was nothing to love. Being afraid of him was as ridiculous as being afraid of the snakeskin lying in the path, beautiful, shaped in evil, without content of evil.
  • You know what he said once? I forget just the way he said it, but it was to the effect that we worry too much about the pains and the evils in the world, when actually we should be continually astonished at the great amount of goodness
  • Perhaps the true dignity of man is his ability to despise himself.’
  • Myra was smoothing the covers, the light in the room seemed dazzling, even though the day was overcast
  • As a flash of lightning will expose clearly all the forms of a landscape in a split second, where before there had been only darkness and unidentifiable shapes, so did the words “little brown bird” enlighten and integrate Zoë’s muddled thoughts. And like the quickly following thunderclap a word exploded: “Bigamist!”
  • to satisfy the emotions is not always wise. No
  • It was in this sense that the word “white” had come into his mind in thinking of Charlie. Gregg had tried to trace down the unreasonable sense of recoil when he was around him. Charlie was as “well made as other men,” yet in his personality there was a kind of loathsome “whiteness” that contained all colors that one expects. This was no “phony.” He did have a pretty good mind, though not a profound one—but then neither did he pretend to be profound. But there was nothing in him that reflected color—nothing warm and rich, nor, for that matter, cold and hard. No reds, no blues, no sunny yellows. There was something horrible about the fact that he was not horrible—that he was not a monster with shaking horns—this could be dealt with and defeated. But not this guiltless non-existence which, by existing, by echoing passion, seemed more evil, more threatening than evil itself. It was like fighting Melville’s “shrouded phantom of the whitened waters,” filling the heart with a “superstitious dread.”
  • Stay away until everything is settled, because I know how easy it is to succumb to that engaging grin, that liquid twinkle in his eyes
  • am experienced in his ‘bull-in-a-china-shop’ demolishment, his deadly, unthinking, unfeeling purposeless injuries; I have been to that fire—I have watched that flood, and I know the pain passes
  • Without Charlie, without children of her own, with only her self-sufficient father, there would be no one whose life she could run, for her generosity was, paradoxically, self-centered.
  • Her drinking problem lay behind her, or so it seemed. He wondered if it also lay in wait for her.
  • In contrast to Clarke Falls, the places people lived in seemed bigger and their outdoors smaller
  • Clarke Falls slipped into the background of his mind like a memory of the cradle
  • They should have been swept into each other’s arms, saying all the foolish, lovely words, whispering in the ageless wonder at the collapse of the barriers of human separateness

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