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 But if I was up by the varying aspects of the city, I was equally wrought up by the delights of love, which came for the first time with the arrival of Alice. Was I in love with her? No, as I understand myself now. I doubt that I have ever been in love with any one, or with anything save life as a whole. Twice or thrice I have developed stirring passions but always there was a voice or thought within which seemed to say over and over, like a bell at sea: “What does it matter? Beauty is eternal.... Beauty will come again!” But this thing, life, this picture of effort, this colorful of hope and joy and despair—that did matter! Beauty, like a bell, the tintings of the dawn, the whispering of gentle winds and waters in summer days and Arcadian places, was in everything and everywhere. Indeed the appeal of this local life was its relationship to eternal perfect beauty. That it should go! That never again, after a few years, might I see it more! That love should pass! That youth should pass! That in due time I should stand old and grizzled, with age-filmed eyes joys and wonders whose sting and color I could no longer feel or even remember—out on it for a damned tragedy and a mirthless joke!  
Alice proved to be in love with me. She lived in a two-flat frame house in what was then the far middle-south section of the city, a region about Fifty-first and Halsted streets. Her foster-father was a railroad watchman, and had saved up a few thousand dollars by years of . This little apartment represented his plus her taste, such as it was: a simple little place, with red plush curtains shielding a pair of folding-doors which separated two large rooms front and back. There were lace curtains and white shades at the windows, a piano (a most luxury for me to contemplate), and then store furniture: a red settee, a red plush rocker, several other new badly designed chairs.
little soul! How cheery and dreamful and with life she was when I met her! Her suitor, as I afterwards came to know, was a man of thirty-five, who had found in her all that he desired and was eager to marry her, as he eventually did. He was to call regularly on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, taking her occasionally to a theater or to dinner downtown. When I arrived on the scene I must have disrupted all this, for after a time, because I manifested some , leaving her no choice indeed, Wednesdays and Sundays became my evenings, and any others that I chose. Regardless of my numerous and no doubt defects, she was in love with me and willing to accept me on my own terms.
Yes, Alice saw something she wanted and thought she could hold. She wanted to unite with me for this little span of existence, to go with me hand in hand into the ultimate nothingness. I think she was a poet in her way, but voiceless. When I called the first night she sat for a little while on one of her red chairs near the window, while I occupied a rocker. I had hung up my coat and hat with a flourish and had stood about for a while examining everything, with the purpose of estimating it and her. It all seemed and pleasing enough and, , I felt more at ease on this my first visit than I ever did at my maid’s home. There her , cautious, religious though and well-meaning mother, her blind uncle and her more attractive young sister disturbed and tended to me. Here, for weeks and weeks, I never saw Alice’s foster-parents. When finally I was introduced to them, they grated on me not at all. This first night she played a little on her piano, then on her banjo, and because she seemed especially charming to me I went over and stood behind her chair, deciding to take her face in my hands and kiss her. Perhaps a touch of and in consequence a bit of indecision now swayed her, for she got up before I could do it. On the instant my assurance became less and yet my mood hardened, for I thought she was with me. After the previous Sunday it seemed to me that she could do no less than permit me to embrace her. I was deciding that the evening was about to be a failure, when she came up behind me and said: “Don’t you think it’s rather nice across there, between those houses?”
Over the way a gap between peaked-roofed houses revealed a long stretch of prairie, now covered with snow, gas lamps in orderly rows, an occasional frame house glowing in the distance.
“Yes,” I admitted .
“This is a funny neighborhood,” she ventured. “People are always moving in and out in that row of houses over there.”
“Are they?” I said, not very much interested now that I felt myself defeated. There was a silence and then she laid one hand on my arm.
“You’re not mad at me, Dorse?” she asked, using a name which my sister had given me.
The sound of it on her lips, soft and pleading, moved me.
“Oh, no,” I replied loftily. “Why should I be?”
“I was thinking that maybe I oughtn’t to be doing this. There’s been some one else up to now, you know.”
“I guess I don’t care for him any more or I wouldn’t be doing what I am.”
“I thought you cared for me. Why did you invite me down here?”
“Oh, Dorse, I do,” she said, placing both her hands on my folded arms and looking up into my face with a kind of tenseness. “I know it isn’t right but I can’t help it. You have such nice hair and eyes, and you’re so tall. Do you care for me at all?”
“Yes,” I said, smiling over my victory. “I think you’re beautiful.” I smoothed her cheek with one hand while I held her about the waist with the other.
We went over to the red settee and I took her in my arms and held her and kissed her mouth and eyes and neck. She clung to me and laughed and told me bits about her work and her floor-walker and her social companions, and even her fiancé. She danced for me when I asked her, doing a running overstep , sidewise to and fro, her skirts lifted to her shoetops. She was sweetly feminine, in no wise aggressive or bold. I stayed until nearly one in the morning. I had nine or ten miles to go by cars, arriving home at nearly three; but at this time I was not working and so my time was my own.
The thing that troubled me was what my Scotch girl would think if she found out (which she never would), and how I could myself from a situation which, now that I had Alice, was not as interesting as it had been.

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