Copyright © the Estate of Ross F. Lockridge, Jr., 1948 , 1998, 2001, 2005, All rights reserved Referenced passages from The Dream Section of Ross Lockridge, Jr.'s Raintree County (An Unpublished "Vol. V" of Raintree County) As referenced in Shade of the Raintree by Larry Lockridge, Chapter Nine, "Snake Pit in Paradise", pp. 315-8
--1. The baptismal font was full of the old man's clotted blood....
--2. The Battle of Gettysburg is fought again by walking corpses
--3. John Shawnessy is crucified on a telegraph pole
--4. The petals of the raintree in the City turn into coins
--5. Shawnessy enters a patent office where all the world's dead bodies are stored and classified
--6. Shawnessy asks all the questions of Shakespeare one would wish answered
--7. Shawnessy encounters several eminent Victorian men who have been transformed into women
--8. Shawnessy floats down the yellow waters of a river atop the huge old atlas of Raintree County
--9. Nell Gaither on their wedding night. "give me lips, lover..."
--10. The homecoming sequence begins with the Perfessor pressing a button....
--11. Lockridge can return in dream to the time in Raintree County before there were human beings and county lines, when the earth was shining, pregnant, and unpolluted.
--12. Elsie can revisit the world of her early memories, denying her father's mortality.
--13. Shawnessy finally overcomes nostalgia as history yields to prophecy and he plants a renewed myth of the Republic in the soil of Raintree County.
1. The baptismal font was full of the old man's clotted blood....
--From Dream Section, Dream II, ms. pp 49-52.
. . . . The sea was shouting on the white sands. The boldest of the nymphs was waiting for him in a thicket of wild thorn, her lips wet with the yellow wine of the festival. If only he had not this sadness, the memory of an earlier time before he had come to this seagirt isle. If only he hadn't wasted his strength and his desire in a dark crime and long ago. If only the lucid and plastic island and the seas that carried the eager little breakers (each one distinct in its whole progress from horizon to the shore under the vast, living sky) were not filled with the memory of an ancient violation. . . .
He was walking along the road past the barn. Through the open door the stalls and stables breathed the old brown stench of livestock. He saw the house, a scarred yet lovely image just beyond the barn, and all the forlorn objects of his childhood memory of it strewn around, fixed and lifeless, as if the air were amber enclosing the scene. He passed on quickly down the road as a man might pass in swift review the landscape of his childhood and came to the church at the crossroads a mile above the farm.
He was before the congregation in the revival tabernacle, but all the time he was disturbed by the knowledge that the body of an old man was hidden behind the pulpit with the pitchfork still thrust through his shrivelled breast. The old man's bearded head was lying where anyone who came too close could see it, dead eyes glaring and dried spittle on the chin. The baptismal font was full of the old man's clotted blood, which had gushed in a hideous flood from his dead body. The whole affair was unclean, unmentionably, and yet he had to go on as if nothing had happened, conducting the revival service. Sooner or later the members of the congregation would smell the stench, or someone would go down a little too far and see the old man's stiff hand sticking out, and the jig would be up. Then he would have to run for sure and get away as best he could, for he never would be able to explain. . . .
Now he was aware of eyes everywhere watching him, only the eyes, for the faces and bodies were sunken into shadow, but everywhere the lambent eyes of the members of the congregation followed him as he moved restlessly back and forth before the altar. The eyes followed him as now he slunk down the side of the church, trying to find a way out. The pitiful thing was that he had mislaid his glasses and couldn't find his way; in fact couldn't see anything but was obliged to wander in the halflight of the dawn without anyone to care for him.
The earth here was covered with naked boulders blasted by the sands of a hundred centuries. He could see streaks of fiery day in the eastern sky. He had been wandering all night trying to get away from his pursuers. He reached up and touched his eyes. He knew then that he was wholly blind, for where his eyes should be were only blackened pits, dried blood still in them. He seemed to remember then that his eyes had been torn out for his inexpiable crime. So he must wander in this land where there were no gods to save him and no altars that were not blasted by lightning; only the swallowing gulf of night and desert and the unredeemed centuries of all eternity. His own voice rose on the blast of the hot dead wind, quavering in a cry of anguish and endurance, a cry of sorrow and farewell, of everlasting sorrow . . . .
2. The Battle of Gettysburg is fought again by walking corpses
3. John Shawnessy is crucified on a telegraph pole.
--From Dream Section, Dream VII, ms. pp. 265-9
~ TELEGRAPH WIRES
--Come home! Come back to raintree county! Come back to your great...
The railroad tracks were halfburied in sand, where he stood looking up at the painted marble balconies of the coliseum. Chariots thundered ceaselessly on the circular track, voices cried blood and death, slave bodies lay on the bloody course, ground and trampled by wheels and hooves of hurrying chariots.
ranked in tiers of seats, yelling with thumbs down,
--Give him to the beast! Blood! Blood!
roman emperor, leaning from the imperatorial box, pale temples wreathed in vineleaves, hands hanging languidly down,
--Dearie dee! That old holiday spirit! (Yawning) The circus! The Circus! The roar of the drums!
standing in middle of arena, surrounded by schoolchildren,
--How about calling this thing off, emperor?
EMPEROR JUSTINIAN WEBSTER STILES
--I've done all I could, boy. But you know the populus romanus as well as I do. They will have their little pomps and games. After you've been suitably mangled, I'll see that you get a write-up on the front page of the sol cotittyanus. You know, john, the trouble with all you martyrs is that you've all got martyr complexes. How about it, senator, can we get this boy off?
SENATOR CIGARIUS BOVOCACUS JONES
--No one is more concerned about the lot of the common man than I am. But I wouldn't fairly represent the thousands that have made me their spokesman if--
--Right you are, senator. Yon cassius hath a lean and hungry look.
CASSIUS P. CARNEY
consulting watch, raising hand, counting seconds,
--We'll see how these bastards like a little cold steel. One for the money, two for the show, three to make ready--
--Well, my dear, there he is. Are you content?
costume of empress theodora, seated beside emperor, eating chocolates, looking down wistfully,
--Which will it be--the lady or the tiger?
--I've always wondered how that goddam lousy story turned out. (Clapping hands smartly) Go!
The gates of the railroad roundhouse at the end of the track opened, and a huge blacksnouted locomotive roared out, bell clanging. Mr. shawnessy ran, crossing a thick web of tracks in the darkened arena, trying to judge which one the thing was on before it reached him and the children. Jags of fire spouted and fell from the stack . . . .
The rim of an erupting volcano, glowing scarlet in the purple night, rained death on the city. Doomed hands clutched skyward. Pale faces pressed through streets hunting asylum. Troops, strikebreakers, pinkertons, cops ran about clubbing, shooting, raping.
hanging on crossbar of telephone pole, struggling to get loose,
--Forgive them, father, for they--
hanging on righthand pole, naked, face behind huge greek masque of himself,
--Well, john, I suppose you've been wondering who I am.
from podium, watching spectacle, tuning up violin,
--Vote for gog, magog, and demagog! Put the ecks after the old cock, boys, and vote the straight ticket, one-way to hell. Might as well have a little fun while we're at it.
hanging on lefthand pole, naked, feebly kicking,
--Stretched on the rack of supply and demand, what else can we--
watching the city burn, fiddling with maniac fury, hair wild, thrashing his limber body about in time to the music,
--Malthus will be delighted. Gibbon will be excited. Darwin will be invited. They know not what they do, but as for me, give me a little laudanum in my tea. (Picking up pen, dipping it into distilled rattlesnake venom, inditing on fine parchment with furious gusto) The gospel according to smuck! (Arms elongating, head beginning to be simian) Five thousand years ago circa, this supposed messiah was allegedly lynched by an anonymous mob at approximately--
From the pole mr. shawnessy could see the huge hearsed body of a coach, burning somberly, rolled across the yards toward the mouth of the embattled roundhouse. The people began to shout as the roundhouse soundlessly crumbled, its wall blown out by an internal explosion.
--God is dead! God is dead! God is . . . .
Getting down from the train, mr. shawnessy stood in the station, having come from the funeral of some august person.
peeling off papers,
--Read all about it. Extra! Extra!
in background, chanting,
--God is dead! God is dead!
--Must be a colossal hoax. Sounds like the work of--
REPORTER J. W. STILES
standing at bulletin board, chalking up bulletins, reading with crisp finality,
--Flash! At exactly 12:15 p. m. at his palatial residence on park avenue, the old gentleman finally cashed in his checks.
in background, chanting,
--God is dead! God is dead! God is--
--The grand old man of american finance died peacefully last night after a distinguished career as politician, statesman, financier, and public servant. Although for many years, younger and more active men had begun to take the play away from him, the old boy still persisted in coming to his office on wall street every day, where he sat playing solitaire and somewhat morosely reading the latest market returns. Whatever the opinion may be of his accomplishments in late years, all detraction falls silent in this solemn hour as we remember him in his illustrious prime when he stood on the cannonswept hills of gettysburg and rallied his troops with the forever famous words, Give 'em h---, boys. Whether or not he was really involved in the machinations of the whiskey ring and the tammany scandals we leave it to history to record. But be it forever remembered that in her darkest hour, the republic turned to him, and he was not found wanting. During his last days, he showed the same stubborn courage that had characterized him all during his career. Visitors at the rockebilt mansion saw a portly, ailing old man sitting on the verandah, a cigar clenched in his teeth, steadily writing away at his memoirs, which are soon to be published under the title my memories of the cosmos in war and peace. His demise marks the end of an era.
--God is dead! God is dead!
4. The petals of the raintree in the City turn into coins.
--From Dream Section, Dream VII, ms. p. 236.
Suddenly her mouth was glued to his in breathdevouring kisses, and at the same time she gently shook the tree. Coins rained clinking on the varnished floor. She leaned back against the swaying trunk, accepting his weight on her wide belly. He understood the exact frame of her body, clothed in vaporous flesh, felt the rack and sway, the cradling valley of the pelvic home. But as he sought to pull away the mesh of clothing, he was repelled by a nickelodeon, worn from her shoulders on a strap, supported like a handorgan on her hips and belly.
5. Shawnessy enters a patent office where all the world's dead bodies are stored and classified.
--From Dream Section, Dream V, ms. pp. 217-23 .
metallic monotone, through horn of edison phonograph,
--Which war for the preservation of what republic and the emancipation of whose race. Which war for the preservation of what republic and the emancipation of whose race. Which war for the...
Mr. shawnessy was confused then by a memory of many wars, by many names of departed cities, by many echoes in the ruined halls of the republic, in which reverberated the hollow music of the guide's voice, a distant scream like that of one of the more unpleasant varieties of the anthropoid apes. Among the picturesque ruins along the river he sought the building where a young soldier had lain in his last illness. He mounted crumbling steps and, looking through a glass door, saw what at first appeared to be the inside of a museum, but he quickly realized that it was the patent building in washington, where soldiers had been hospitalized during the war. Dead contraptions for doing everything in the world lay in labelled glass cases down corridors to distant windows that gave a stained and tragic light. In cots between the cases lay hundreds of soldiers--anatomies with every nerve, vein, organ, muscle, bone intact--but bloodless like machines.
entering, accosting the custodian,
--Among your patients, a boy named--
face of gibbon ape, emaciated, pedantic,
--The filing system is beginning to get out of kilter. Exactly 1,435,269 new patents were filed with the u.s. bureau of patents last year alone.
walking slowly in corridors now cleared of cots, peering at the cases, reading labels, seeing inside bodies of human beings in various stages of decomposition, all lacquered and gathering dust,
--You mean that every soldier of the great war is preserved here? It seems a bit--
--The bodies of all the human beings who ever lived are here, involving a tremendous labor of disinterment, reconstruction, relocation, classification.
--Could you direct me to the president's case?
in huge room, walls five hundred feet high, solid with identical blackbound books the size of family bibles, plucking book from wall,
--Lincoln, a., 1809-1865, pres., u.s.a., getts. add., assass.
hunting among cases, stopping, peering through smeared glass, reading label,
--Orville (better know as flash) perkins, a union soldier, february 17, 1865.
He had a spade with which he was digging in the earth there. The stones put up so many years ago had all fallen down. In the damp soil he found a little silver coin engraved with the figure of a runner stripped.
reading the worn legend,
--E pluribus unum.
slightly apelike features, working at bottom of digging, with magnifying glass, butterfly net, tweezers,
--Some of the more interesting specimens are in the next row. Uncle tom of uncle tom's cabin. A beautiful job of reconstruction. The three-toed dawnhorses are in the third aisle.
--Mr. darwin, what happens to the soul after death?
--Homo pluviarboriensis, or raintree county man, who evidently consisted of (holding aloft) a fibia, a dried testicle, a sheet of m.s., a colt revolver, a contraceptive, and a railroad spike, was dug out of a tertiary stratum in which were also embedded bovum domesticum and his spouse bova domestica, the plebeian housefly, la cucaracha, and john d. rockefeller.
smalltown lawyer, owlish, disgruntled expression,
--It's the greatest corpus delicti case in all history.
--You mean that the body of the savior has been discovered and hidden in here too?
--Been here all the time. They merely lost the files. (Pulling out newspaper clippings, adjusting spectacles) According to this issue of the free enquirer, dated november 18, 1865, quote--
--There must be some mistake. I wrote a letter home only last month. (Gazing through case at a dim form recumbent beside tracks) I'll never lie by the rails with unlistening ears.
mortuary effigy, stonily rigid, hands on breast pointed in prayer,
--Under this stone jerusalem stiles
Lies in the earth and fixedly smiles.
arranging flowers in urn, meticulously wiping birdstains from stone, assuming look and olympian manner of victor hugo,
--There is, in the cemetery of--
--Someone has made a dreadful mistake. I've got to get home.
sitting up, medieval jerkin and hose, peaked sandals, lecherous, pointed, poignant face of françois villon,
--And what of all the lushloined girls, les femmes du temps jadis? They are all gone down the gulf of years.
--Where is susanna whose long hair shaken
Over her shoulders was ravendark,
Whose dreambound spirit would not awaken
Because of her body's scarlet mark?
And where is the goddess of that old park
Barred from her lover with iron spears,
And she whose body was clothed in bark?
But where are the rains of the rivered years!
waning down the corridors, musical, lonely,
--Beautiful river and change everlasting. Come back, lost boy, before it's too late. Come back.
peering into glass case,
--May we suggest for the epitaph--
--Mes chers amis, quand je mourai,
Over my grave a willow tend.
J'aime son feuillage éploré:
How low those pallid branches bend!
And a light shadow it will send
A la terre où je dormirai!
--Yes, somewhere, in the raintree county that never was, a monument that never will, a lonely and tremendous shaft of stone, with twin stairs flowing upward unto the base thereof; within, a spiral stair; and on the stony face a legend of...
Stone soldiers arrested in the sempiternal agonies of the great war lay all around him in the silent dawn. He was approaching the base of a monument that had never been finished, so egregiously had its forgotten architects dreamed it into being. Stone stairs leading to the base were an ascending waste of cracked slabs and fennel. He was going up the spiral stair inside, rising from level to level.
talking over his shoulder,
--Imagine yourself standing on one of the loftiest buildings of the modern city. Down there, blind millions hive in dark walls. Can any soul survive in this swamp of the annihilation of souls? Can you believe--
--Retro grade, sathanus.
A red sun was sinking to westward. He was alone. Looking down, he saw at first a pleasant scene of farmland crossed by a single river and a single track, but as he watched, the railroad became three and then began brightly to multiply with interlacing arms among the fields. The rails were beaded with buildings and the river banded with bridges until what he saw was in fact the image of a city where trains were thundering to the stations laden with human and heavy cargo.
holding in his hand the visitor's guide to the centennial exhibition and the city of philadelphia, thrilled with a memory of metropolitan years, speaking in a voice of challenge,
--Et maintenant--a nous deux! Do you see how after all we have been building a legend
Of the earth,
plowtorn . . . .
6. Shawnessy asks all the questions of Shakespeare one would wish answered. 7. Shawnessy encounters several eminent Victorian men who have been transformed into women
--From Dream Section, Dream IV, ms. pp. 139-42.
clapping hands, pointing to sturdy tree growing in angle between buildings,
--The smith a mighty man is he
With large and sinewy hands.
The muscles of his brawny--
slim, strong figure, clad in simple blacksmith's garb, vigorously shoeing her horse,
Our dame has lost her shoe!
And master's lost his fiddling stick
And doesn't know what to do.
hand on horse's rump, leaning back to see him working with courteous intentness, trying to fit a lady's high heel to horse's hoof,
--You have made a delightful mistake, mr. shawnessy. You are shoeing the wrong foot. Here, allow me to--
Quite suddenly and with a practiced ease, he slipped the little furlined shoe over her naked foot, as the prince did for cinderella. There was a loud flourish of trumpets and
face and manner of lord beaconsfield, handing her up to throne atop a carriage shaped like a huge black pumpkin, drawn by six man in mouse costumes,
--Her majesty, the queen!
As befitted a queen, her gown was a ceremonial costume stiff with jewels. Women in identical gowns stood in dense ranks along a wide way colorful with pennants and banners. Several miles away a fountain stood in a public square, stone figures disporting in the spray. The occasion was apparently the diamond jubilee of her reign.
PRIME MINISTER STILES
--Lovely and glorious!
Our queen victorious!
Long to reign orious!
(God save the king.)
with gracious mien and little motions of her sceptre, a huge ivory stick with gaudy ball of gold and diamonds at the end,
--My subjects, I am touched more deeply than I can express. I accept this honor in the name of my sex. Ladies, at last our efforts are crowned with victory. It is now fifty years since the great discovery was made by one of our leading female novelists that the words describing the sexes had been exactly reversed by some philological mistake in the dawn of iniquity and that what we have been calling men are actually--
PRIME MINISTER DISRAELI STILES
black dress, small hard boxlike bustle, artificially stuffed breasts, wig of black curls,
--Madame, your wisdom passeth understanding. Come, sweet sisters, gather round, sweet sisters. Mrs. tennyson, will you favor us with a vocal selection?
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
queen victoria wig and dress, crown jewels on vigorous pointed bosoms, casque of sir galahad on head, excalibur in hand, reading from little volume covered with lavender flowers,
--No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield,
Ask me no more.
Moaning like a dove, the eminent poetess was seen moving off vaguely through a landscape of immemorial elms, clambering over a stonewall beside a moated grange, taking her place in a barge on which she floated across a gray mere, a white blade shining in her hand. Before she passed from sight, she tossed the sword away, but a woman with drowned hair thrust suddenly from the water and caught it by the bare blade.
The picnic of the literary society was enlivened by the giggling and twittering of several eminent nineteenth century females, including ralph waldo emerson in side curls, old maid's gown, her face long, sweet, and thoughtful like a horse, john greenleaf whittier, masquerading as barbara fritchie with turbulent gray hairs, and henry adams, a small dumpy woman with a crucifix on her breast and confused eyes. Evelina kept looking everywhere for mr. shawnessy but saw no sign of him. Meanwhile the men were dancing around maypoles and fluttering handkerchiefs. It seemed to her that somehow the movement for equality had not taken the right direction. But just now she derived a certain pleasure from walking down the boulevard over the prostrate bodies and faces of simpering men, who licked her little glittering boots as she set the heels down primly on their chests and in their mouths, being careful, of course, not to hurt them.
8. Shawnessy floats down the yellow waters of a river atop the huge old atlas of Raintree County.
--From Dream Section, Dream III, ms. pp. 109-11.
It was night in the great dismal swamp. Bloodhounds bayed in the distance. Lanterns flashed far-off. Shotgun blasts ripped the still leaves. A bloodred moon hung low on the horizon. The heaving muds of the swamp shimmered and stank. Festoons of moss swung softly against his body. Black branches of trees trailed in the inky water. He was stumbling through the swamp, trying to find a way to freedom. The young mulatto girl with him was going to have a baby, and there was no one to help them. He was trying to remember how he had come by this unhappy burden. Perhaps it was a souvenir of the great war, a colored girl with a classic name whom he had inherited from one of his soldier comrades. At any rate, it was a sacred charge, and he must find the underground railway station and get her to safety on the northern shore.
The river was running broad and yellow in the semidarkness. Artificial cotton snow flakes sifted noiselessly down. Floating icechunks and rotten flatboats swam slowly on the flood. The pursuers were just behind. He could see the intent mugs of bloodhounds breaking through the brush. Then he and the girl were crossing on the floes and rotten rafts.
torn away on the swift flood, standing naked on sinking raft, arms outstretched,
--Johnny! Help! Help! Down the river! Down the river!
The girl was gone, sucked down in the swirling yellow waters. He was trying now to stay afloat on a huge old atlas of raintree county. He had a little child in his arms. Facedown, ophelialike, the body of a naked woman was floating in the pale chemical of the river, her flesh washed white as lilies, but ravaged as by acid and slowly dissolving from the bone. A little distance away, he saw a steamer full of noisy excursionists go by, firing salutes from a cannon.
sinking up to his waist,
--Help! Help! Save the child! Save the child!
in summer holiday clothes, leaning over railing of the delta belle, mildly interested in spectacle,
--Say, son, this is a hell of a time to be takin' a swim.
--O, father, come out of that old lagoon.
They say you are drowned in. . .
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
nightgown, hair in curlpapers, sitting on deck, baby in lap, blowing on her hands from time to time, writing with whispering lips line after line and page after page,
--Calvin, mind the baby. Then the poor distracted female heard the voice of her pursuers in the. . .
sinking up to his chin, holding the baby aloft,
--Mrs. Stowe, for god's sake, hurry up and get me out of here. I'm drowning, mrs. stowe, I'm. . .
9. Nell Gaither on their wedding night.
--From Dream Section, Dream V, ms. pp. 184-91.
walking up dark stair, beckoning to upper rooms,
--Sh-h-h-h-h. This way, johnny.
--So, then, you waited for us by the river, where we, lonely soldiers of the republic, sought what all men seek, the eternal feminine enfolding arms, the form that springs from formlessness, the--
a white face in the darkness, gently pulling johnny into back seat of cab,
--Want a lift down pennsylvania avenue?
--Why, nell, I didn't know that--
breasts bare and trembly, wistful eyes,
--Why not? It's life--as the great people say. Why shouldn't we bare our part of--
The buggy was going down a wide boulevard past rows of wavering gaslamps. He was buried in the musty scarlet years, riding down one of the stately names of the oldtime republic. Lonely yet beloved, understanding yet misunderstood, he was the johnny of that forgotten year, and like an extension of himself was this vague landscape of the year 1863, containing the face of one who was lost and gone forever on the great river of the years, a face floating up to him again--of one he never really knew, archetypal and mysterious.
--O, johnny, to live--to be alive! To come back to you! My darling, I touched you with letters.
Her warm mouth touched his with desperate kisses. His hands tugged at a thick rind of clothes.
in distance, singing,
--O, my darling,
O, my darling,
O, my darling--
--My plural petticoats, my stiffboned skirtframe, my impertinent bustle. Flayed and flung by the vines and the beautiful, flayed and flung by the vines and the beautiful, flayed and flung by the...
They were together on a big fourpostered bed. Her body showed through her negligee as through a misted glass. He was afraid they might be interrupted at the very threshold of the longpostponed consummation, for there were many doors opening on the hotel room, and people were making a vague disturbance in corridors and streets. His hands slid beneath the shimmering nightdress, grappling smoothly on the plush of naked--
panting, in husky voice, writhing as in pain or violent pleasure,
--Shuck me. Husk me, beloved. Hold me, I am the ripe one. Give me lips, lover. Thrust home. Tall, tall, tall--
--All, all, all--
popping head in and out of door and throwing newspapers,
--Extra! Intra! Extra! Intra! Read all about it. The body was given to his wife. The old man died calm.
pitching him a dime,
--Thanks, son. Now, for heaven's sake, clear out!
drunk, fully clothed, smoking cigar, lying squarely in middle of bed,
--don't mind me, john. As best man, I'm very happy to lend any little service I can to you and the missus. (Shoving johnny out of bed) Mind if I take a turn at the throttle?
winking at johnny,
--Drefful sorry, johnny. He happened to be along. Down, fido!
very drunk, still smoking cigar, crawling obediently under bed,
--Nothing's too good for our boy john.
--Now, if we can just--
PRESIDENT OF THE LADIES' SITTING AND SEWING SOCIETY
walking briskly through door, placing horseshoe of flowers around johnny's neck,
--A garland for our johnny. May I sit and sew a while?
--I accept this beautiful tribute, madame typographical error, in the same spirit in which, et cetera, et cetera. Now, for heaven's sake, madame, this is my wedding night, and--
scrubbed faces, sunday suits, filing in, singing with innocent, uplifted eyes,
--Yankee doodle came to town
Ridin' on a--
COUSIN FROM SPOKANE
galloping large, rawboned house through door,
--Where are the sons a bitches! Let me at 'em! Far on the old flag, will they!
COMMITTEE FROM THE LADY'S AID
fussy spinsters, entering and sitting on the bed,
--Mr. shawnessy, is there anything we can do to assist you in this trying hour?
DELEGATION FROM BAPTIST CHURCH
blackfrocked elders, cleaning teeth with whittled sticks, spitting on floor, taking armchairs around the room,
--Brother shawnessy, have you been baptized?
--Nell, please. I'll try to get rid of all these people and then--
COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
--Mr. shawnessy, reports have come to us that you have not been maintaining in your teaching the proper respect to the great institutions upon which our civilization has been founded. They say you begin every school day by spittin' on the image of
THE REVEREND LLOYD G. JARVEY
torch and bloodhounds, hunting up and down room,
--Adam, the first of humankind,
Was only a figment of my mind.
But now that he's grown to such a whizz,
I'm only a fantasy of his.
W. B. SHAWNESSY
rocking on heels, bland old face smiling, presenting johnny with bottle of botanical medicine,
--Here, john. Keep it with you for emergencies. And don't forget your medical experience. Say, who's this here young woman?
feeling guilty, trying to hide girl behind door,
--My wife, pa. That is--
hands behind back,
--Of course, we were all young once--uh--that is--uh--I should tell you, john, that I--uh--that you--well-- In short, son, you're just a good, cleancut shawnessy.
girl of eighteen, small, virile scot with bright blue eyes and hearty manner, sitting in haystack,
--From scottish earth, I came to this. From here I go to endless bliss. Our cost of arms. It's nice to be the founder of an illustrious line. As for who your father really was, william--well, I suppose you've noticed the poetic strain in our family, and--
charming, boyish manner, unattractive nose but beautiful eyes, talking in faint hoosier accent to great-grandma shawnessy,
--The golden hours on angel wings
Went o'er me and my dearie.
For dear to me as light and life
Was my sweet highland mary.
twinkle in her eye, giving her skirt a flirt,
--And jeannie and jacqueline and janet and josephine, and mazie and martha and maud and mable, and--
tall thin, virile young man with wavy blonde hair and elegant manner, sitting beneath hawthorne tree with lovely red-haired girl, stroking chin thoughtfully,
--There's a curse on us shawnessys. By the way, not a word of this to your mother, but--
The young w. b. put his arm around the girl, whom johnny recognized as his mother in her youth, long before his own birth, her eyes secret and strange.
--Mamma! Please! All of us--
in distance, singing,
--We'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again--
OLD CONFEDERATE SOLDIER
ragged gray uniform, hanging by toes from chandelier, firing rusty musket and setting hotel on fire,
--Cuss it! damnyanks all ovuh the place. Fifty tew one. Ah'm goddamn close tew bein' outnumbuhed!
COLONEL GARWOOD JONES
spangly uniform, waving tin sword, leading charge of trainees armed with brooms, mops, featherdusters, routing johnny and nell out of haystack,
--forward, men! Sell your lives dear! (Grabbing nell and carrying her bodily onto train slowly going west) The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. It is to the vigilant--the active--the--
directing band of toughs in uniform, grabbing johnny, shoving musket in his hand,
--Finally caught up with you, bub. All right, wipe that smile off.
almost in tears, waving to nell on platform of receding train, a misty face of love and sadness,
--Goodby, nell. Write to me. I--
scribbling in notebook,
--Young soldier off to the wars. Most affecting were the farewells exchanged on this occasion. Hardly an eye refused the tribute of tear as--
bawling coarsely in mock grief,
--Boo hoo hoo! All right, you bastard. Shoulders back, chin up. Hut! two! three! foh! hut! two! three...
wandering over wild forest, hills, ridges and round tops,
--Where are the lost soldiers of that old war? They were here. They marched this way. It was high summer. They were here, there were thousands, they fought in these places, bled on this earth. Now they are gone-and the earth remains. ....
11. Lockridge can return in dream to the time in Raintree County before there were human beings and county lines, when the earth was shining, pregnant, and unpolluted.
--From Dream Section, Dream IX, ms. pp. 336...
12. Elsie can revisit the world of her early memories, denying her father's mortality.
--From Dream Section, Dream VIII, ms. pp. 302-5.
Yes, she was back in the old, the archetypal strawland. She was walking down the unpaved sidewalk beside the tidy white fences. She had come back. Each house looked out at her like a strange, inscrutable face. Behind the impassive eyes of the windows were rooms she had never entered but had always vaguely wondered about. And it gave her a queer start to think that they were all furnished down to the last exquisite detail with the furniture of a lost era and that they were peopled with faces that were gone from the living and indifferent years. How still and dark and deep the lawns looked and the spaces between the houses!
And now she was approaching the little house behind its white fence. She paused with her hand on the gate. They were all there, yes, they would surely be there. And she would be there, too, the elsie of that lost year. They would all be there in the eternal and changeless world between the two broad bands of change. If now she entered, she would see them there. Her mother would be working in the kitchen where smell of sealing wax lingered forever. The lost elsie and the forever lost ernest would be in the middle room reading, each one absorbed in a sentimental journey, dreamers absorbed in a dream, which was itself peopled only with dreamers. And somewhere she would find little frank, another lost face of her childhood. And if she went behind the house, she would see the sunlight falling through the apple trees. She would see the outhouse filled with clippings, and the barn, and the narrow backfield stretching to the railroad. And perhaps, perhaps, even as she watched, one of the trains of all those lost years would go roaring by carrying to westward a thousand lost faces. And then she would feel herself again entangled in that ancient, lived-in human earth of houses, backyards, tranquil lives, between two roads of fate.
But no, she would not turn in for yet awhile, for it occurred to her that probably school was meeting, since there were no children in the streets....
She had turned and was approaching the schoolhouse. It was not one of the newer schoolhouses that had been built there after her time. It was the old frame school, where the famous fourth of july celebration had been held when the senator returned to the county, back in those tattered, stained, and lovely years of the early nineties. Yes it was the old school, and the children would all be in there, having ascended into the world of eternal certainties, the world of raintree county. They would all be there in the holy and wonderful communion of the schoolroom, a half a hundred wistful faces, bathed in the mystic waters of time's enchantment. She came up the walk, then, still carried on the strange fiction of the dream.
She remembered the death of her father in some earlier dream, and there rushed over her the most strange, rich, intricate emotion, a recollection of a thousand forgotten days in schoolrooms and in the grounds around a schoolhouse. And all the children whom her father had taught seemed to troop through her memory, proceeding all (by a second birth) from the archetypal schoolroom into the archetypal raintree county, and from there radiating beyond its borders and down the roads of all the years into the sunlight of a new century.
But now, but now, she must be courageous and hold onto the perishable moment, for only so did one recover the precious lost faces. And in fact, she was opening the door and stepping into the hall between the two rooms. In one her mother taught the elementary classes, and in the other her father taught to advance pupils. And now even as she touched the crucial door, she feared that she might awaken from this dream into the cold reality of an earlier dream.
But the golden light of the late spring was in the room, one of those days when her heart cried out with music, and she seemed capable of infinite exertions. There was her brother ernest at his desk in the next row with his eyes plunged into a history book. And there at the blackboard, turning now, with the light of afternoon transforming his old dark suit, there, to be sure was her father.
--Elsie, he said, will you please go on with the problem there
for a way
to get back home....
13. Shawnessy finally overcomes nostalgia as history yields to prophecy and he plants a renewed myth of the Republic in the soil of Raintree County.
--From Dream Secton, Dream IX, ms. pp.
To Shade of the Raintree, Snake Pit in Paradise, pp. 315-8
To Other Writings by Ross, Jr.
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