Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

VIII

During the next weeks Dick experienced a vast dissatisfaction. The pathological origin and mechanistic defeat of the affair left a flat and metallic taste. Nicole’s emotions had been used unfairly — what if they turned out to have been his own? Necessarily he must absent himself from felicity a while — in dreams he saw her walking on the clinic path swinging her wide straw hat . . . .

One time he saw her in person; as he walked past the Palace Hotel, a magnificent Rolls curved into the half-moon entrance. Small within its gigantic proportions, and buoyed up by the power of a hundred superfluous horses, sat Nicole and a young woman whom he assumed was her sister. Nicole saw him and momentarily her lips parted in an expression of fright. Dick shifted his hat and passed, yet for a moment the air around him was loud with the circlings of all the goblins on the Gross-Münster. He tried to write the matter out of his mind in a memorandum that went into detail as to the solemn régime before her; the possibilities of another “push” of the malady under the stresses which the world would inevitably supply — in all a memorandum that would have been convincing to any one save to him who had written it.

The total value of this effort was to make him realize once more how far his emotions were involved; thenceforth he resolutely provided antidotes. One was the telephone girl from Bar-sur-Aube, now touring Europe from Nice to Coblenz, in a desperate roundup of the men she had known in her never-to-be-equalled holiday; another was the making of arrangements to get home on a government transport in August; a third was a consequent intensification of work on his proofs for the book that this autumn was to be presented to the German-speaking world of psychiatry.

Dick had outgrown the book; he wanted now to do more spade work; if he got an exchange fellowship he could count on plenty of routine.

Meanwhile he had projected a new work: An Attempt at a Uniform and Pragmatic Classification of the Neuroses and Psychoses, Based on an Examination of Fifteen Hundred Pre-Krapælin and Post-Krapælin Cases as they would be Diagnosed in the Terminology of the Different Contemporary Schools — and another sonorous paragraph — Together with a Chronology of Such Subdivisions of Opinion as Have Arisen Independently.

This title would look monumental in German.*

Ein Versuch die Neurosen und Psychosen gleichmässig und pragmatisch zu klassifizieren auf Grund der Untersuchung von fünfzehn hundert pre-Krapaelin und post-Krapaelin Fällen wie siz diagnostiziert sein würden in der Terminologie von den verschiedenen Schulen der Gegenwart — and another sonorous paragraph — Zusammen mit einer Chronologic solcher Subdivisionen der Meinung welche unabhängig entstanden sind.

Going into Montreux Dick pedalled slowly, gaping at the Jugenhorn whenever possible, and blinded by glimpses of the lake through the alleys of the shore hotels. He was conscious of the groups of English, emergent after four years and walking with detective-story suspicion in their eyes, as though they were about to be assaulted in this questionable country by German trained-bands. There were building and awakening everywhere on this mound of débris formed by a mountain torrent. At Berne and at Lausanne on the way south, Dick had been eagerly asked if there would be Americans this year. “By August, if not in June?”

He wore leather shorts, an army shirt, mountain shoes. In his knapsack were a cotton suit and a change of underwear. At the Glion funicular he checked his bicycle and took a small beer on the terrace of the station buffet, meanwhile watching the little bug crawl down the eighty-degree slope of the hill. His ear was full of dried blood from La Tour de Pelz, where he had sprinted under the impression that he was a spoiled athlete. He asked for alcohol and cleared up the exterior while the funicular slid down port. He saw his bicycle embarked, slung his knapsack into the lower compartment of the car, and followed it in.

Mountain-climbing cars are built on a slant similar to the angle of a hat-brim of a man who doesn’t want to be recognized. As water gushed from the chamber under the car, Dick was impressed with the ingenuity of the whole idea — a complimentary car was now taking on mountain water at the top and would pull the lightened car up by gravity, as soon as the brakes were released. It must have been a great inspiration. In the seat across, a couple of British were discussing the cable itself.

“The ones made in England always last five or six years. Two years ago the Germans underbid us, and how long do you think their cable lasted?”

“How long?”

“A year and ten months. Then the Swiss sold it to the Italians. They don’t have rigid inspections of cables.”

“I can see it would be a terrible thing for Switzerland if a cable broke.”

The conductor shut a door; he telephoned his confrere among the undulati, and with a jerk the car was pulled upward, heading for a pinpoint on an emerald hill above. After it cleared the low roofs, the skies of Vaud, Valais, Swiss Savoy, and Geneva spread around the passengers in cyclorama. On the centre of the lake, cooled by the piercing current of the Rhône, lay the true centre of the Western World. Upon it floated swans like boats and boats like swans, both lost in the nothingness of the heartless beauty. It was a bright day, with sun glittering on the grass beach below and the white courts of the Kursal. The figures on the courts threw no shadows.

When Chillon and the island palace of Salagnon came into view Dick turned his eyes inward. The funicular was above the highest houses of the shore; on both sides a tangle of foliage and flowers culminated at intervals in masses of color. It was a rail-side garden, and in the car was a sign: Défense de cueillir les fleurs.

Though one must not pick flowers on the way up, the blossoms trailed in as they passed — Dorothy Perkins roses dragged patiently through each compartment slowly waggling with the motion of the funicular, letting go at the last to swing back to their rosy cluster. Again and again these branches went through the car.

In the compartment above and in front of Dick’s, a group of English were standing up and exclaiming upon the backdrop of sky, when suddenly there was a confusion among them — they parted to give passage to a couple of young people who made apologies and scrambled over into the rear compartment of the funicular — Dick’s compartment. The young man was a Latin with the eyes of a stuffed deer; the girl was Nicole.

The two climbers gasped momentarily from their efforts; as they settled into seats, laughing and crowding the English to the corners, Nicole said, “Hel-LO.” She was lovely to look at; immediately Dick saw that something was different; in a second he realized it was her fine-spun hair, bobbed like Irene Castle’s and fluffed into curls. She wore a sweater of powder blue and a white tennis skirt — she was the first morning in May and every taint of the clinic was departed.

“Plunk!” she gasped. “Whoo-oo that guard. They’ll arrest us at the next stop. Doctor Diver, the Conte de Marmora.”

“Gee-imminy!” She felt her new hair, panting. “Sister bought first-class tickets — it’s a matter of principle with her.” She and Marmora exchanged glances and shouted: “Then we found that first- class is the hearse part behind the chauffeur — shut in with curtains for a rainy day, so you can’t see anything. But Sister’s very dignified —” Again Nicole and Marmora laughed with young intimacy.

“Where you bound?” asked Dick.

“Caux. You too?” Nicole looked at his costume. “That your bicycle they got up in front?”

“Yes. I’m going to coast down Monday.”

“With me on your handle-bars? I mean, really — will you? I can’t think of more fun.”

“But I will carry you down in my arms,” Marmora protested intensely. “I will roller-skate you — or I will throw you and you will fall slowly like a feather.”

The delight in Nicole’s face — to be a feather again instead of a plummet, to float and not to drag. She was a carnival to watch — at times primly coy, posing, grimacing and gesturing — sometimes the shadow fell and the dignity of old suffering flowed down into her finger tips. Dick wished himself away from her, fearing that he was a reminder of a world well left behind. He resolved to go to the other hotel.

When the funicular came to rest those new to it stirred in suspension between the blues of two heavens. It was merely for a mysterious exchange between the conductor of the car going up and the conductor of the car coming down. Then up and up over a forest path and a gorge — then again up a hill that became solid with narcissus, from passengers to sky. The people in Montreux playing tennis in the lakeside courts were pinpoints now. Something new was in the air; freshness — freshness embodying itself in music as the car slid into Glion and they heard the orchestra in the hotel garden.

When they changed to the mountain train the music was drowned by the rushing water released from the hydraulic chamber. Almost overhead was Caux, where the thousand windows of a hotel burned in the late sun.

But the approach was different — a leather-lunged engine pushed the passengers round and round in a corkscrew, mounting, rising; they chugged through low-level clouds and for a moment Dick lost Nicole’s face in the spray of the slanting donkey engine; they skirted a lost streak of wind with the hotel growing in size at each spiral, until with a vast surprise they were there, on top of the sunshine.

In the confusion of arrival, as Dick slung his knapsack and started forward on the platform to get his bicycle, Nicole was beside him.

“Aren’t you at our hotel?” she asked.

“I’m economizing.”

“Will you come down and have dinner?” Some confusion with baggage ensued. “This is my sister — Doctor Diver from Zurich.”

Dick bowed to a young woman of twenty-five, tall and confident. She was both formidable and vulnerable, he decided, remembering other women with flower-like mouths grooved for bits.

“I’ll drop in after dinner,” Dick promised. “First I must get acclimated.”

He wheeled off his bicycle, feeling Nicole’s eyes following him, feeling her helpless first love, feeling it twist around inside him. He went three hundred yards up the slope to the other hotel, he engaged a room and found himself washing without a memory of the intervening ten minutes, only a sort of drunken flush pierced with voices, unimportant voices that did not know how much he was loved.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzgerald/f_scott/tender/chapter33.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:06