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matter that wheels of my sort are so In mid-flight, I had come near to flimsy. Those who make them count solving my own problem: x is what heavily, and not in vain, on the des

you get in payment for the discomfort perate desire, in drab lives, for adven- you endure, the risk you run, the fear ture. Drab lives must take adventure you feel. You must always determine where they can find it. A new sensation X. Algebra is the most human of abfor a dime and any man is lifted from stract sciences, since life is perpetually the crowd, is gloriously individual, put to you in the form of a quadratic while he is experiencing a new sensation. equation. The adventurer must be, He stands on a peak in Darien. If there above all, a half-way decent mathemais danger added, he is not only a dis- tician. He cannot afford to make miscoverer, but, for his instant, a hero. takes as to the value of x. The whole Perhaps the folk who make these things point, I had said to myself, — or the so badly as to increase the danger are Spirit of the Wheel had said to me, really benefactors - are really acting is whether it is worth it. I shall hate morally; since, if you incur no risk at all, going round and round, faster and fastyou have no chance of being a sport. I er; I shall be afraid, and 'fear is more should be interested to know what you pain than is the pain it fcars. What think. Nothing is so comforting to the shall I get out of it that will prepondersoul as the memory of past perils well ate over that terror? Indeed, will not met and lived through. Does a man my fear inhibit any æsthetic sense that ever get over narrating a hair 's-breadth might operate? The part of straight escape? You talk about being tied in. common sense is to end this adventure But if you were tied in, you would not here and now. On this I acted. But not be afraid. Where would be the glory?without knowledge that some temperaIt is time, by the way, if you want to ments would have seen it through none get off, to say so.

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pres- the less, equation or no equation. Were ently be at the bottom. Then we are those the real sports, and I no sport at really off. We shall go faster next time. all? Perhaps. And yet — there was

I had only one instant left, under the nothing at stake: neither pleasure, nor empire of this my fear, to decide. As knowledge, nor reputation. I should

, . I have said before, I decided to alight. hate it; it would teach me nothing; no But I knew that I was deciding much one had dared or challenged me to the more than that, and that I had been act. Common sense certainly told me to very near the wavering line which di- do as I did, as much as to come in out vides good sports from bad. 'Only let of the rain if I had no umbrella and no me get off this thing,' I said to myself, business out of doors. 'and I promise to be a normal creature But is there not something beyond again, able to smile and split hairs with common sense, very necessary to the jest. Give me ground under my feet, world? something that is indifferent to and I reënter my personality. Since it the value of x, and says, 'I don't care is not necessary that I should be again to solve it beforehand, thank you'? thus hideously lifted up, I cannot bear Common sense has a deal of caution in it. If it were inevitable but that is it; and do we not, somewhere in the a whole other problem, and I refuse world, need rashness? If your advento consider it.' So I got off, careless of tures are to be many, or successful, you comparisons between myself and the must bring your algebra into play. We desirous ones who rushed to fill our still pity the person who did not at first places.

glimpse see, from the mere look of the

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problem on the page, that x was going cles, and either he is well-enough trainto be a negligible amount. Yet what ed to overcome difficulties or he is not. should we do without the people who But there is little room in that barrel disdain algebra — who try the strange

for skill. new thing for the mere sake of trying it, Most of us, I think, do not admire a little careless of what it is going to him, though many of us would run to bring them? What should we do with- see. We cannot believe that x equals out the people who love danger for it- enough to justify him. For instinctively self — not as seasoning, but for the we do all on such an occasion rush to whole dish? Generally speaking, those our algebra and roughly solve the equapeople are used up early; and we are tion. But 'the dream is not yet ended'; rather apt to deem them fools. I am and here is the rub. not sure that the sum of them is not True it is, as the Spirit of the Wheel folly; that they are not, so to speak, all remarked, that one must do each time salt. A pity to be all salt; yet how could that little sum. But no man can quite we get on without salt itself?

solve it for another. Half the time x is To be a good sport, I think the an imponderable, a gain which none Spirit of the Wheel was right, - one can estimate or realize but the gainer. needs to calculate, and pay cheerfully, “We were dreamers, dreaming greatto the last exhausted nerve, if x looks ly in the man-stifled town.' X is the good. I still do not feel sure that I was dream. a bad sport, since there was nothing at In the faith of little children we stake. I sampled a thing which was to lay down and died.' But still x is the bring me at best nothing but pleasure. dream. For the chance of wealth, for There was no pleasure in it 2 was the chance of beauty, for the chance of obviously zero — and I threw it away

and I threw it away fame, or the chance of power, a man early.

will risk his comfort and his life; and if My own conduct does not matter, the chance is clear enough, other men, except to me. I knew that in mid-air. even if they do not emulate him, will What struck me, even as I trembled understand. It is when there is nothing aloft, was that this is a vital question for success to bring him that they turn to us all. For deciding this question, away. We have come to believe so enthe instinct of the race is the best test, I tirely that no man throws away his life fancy. When does the mass feel a quick except in the hope of possessing some

a sympathy, and when does it shrug its thing he values more, that we have, I shoulders? I leave out all rash acts of think, little natural sympathy for the an altruistic nature; for when a thing man who throws his life away for the is done for another's sake, no matter mere sake of throwing it away. Half how mad the act, x looms large. Do the time, in such a case, the man sees we, or do we not, admire, instinctively, something that no one else sees: the the Human Fly? Have we, that is, a value of x is his secret. But sometimes, moral sympathy with him? Skill, again, surely, the sole act is its sole end. And is another matter: it is not the man who there we stop. We never think of callcrosses Niagara on a tight rope that is ing that man a ‘sport.' We call him a the test case; it is the man who shoots fool. Yet the man in the street would Niagara in a barrel. Skill, however em- not like to live his life through without ployed, arouses an admiration purely the spectacle of that folly. intellectual. Thus or thus a man has Life has, for the good of the race, trained his eyes or his toes or his mus- become, in public opinion, a precious


thing to have and a seemly thing to we have enjoyed it. But the fact rekeep. Otherwise life is not worth the mains that, for a half-instant, the sensacomplex cost of reproduction. Funda- tion has been pleasurable. mentally speaking, we fear death. It is We like death to be insulted, though the negation of everything we spend we have been taught to be very polite our breath and strength upon, the re- to him. Our rules and codes must of ductio ad absurdum of all our activity, necessity be made up more out of our the very contrary of all our attempts. knowledge than out of our instincts. Religion and philosophy have decked Yet into most of our conventions, init out and given it an honorable place cluding that of being a sport,' instinct in the scheme of things. But the race must to some extent enter. Finding saves its life if, according to its own out x is education; to feel delightfulcode of decency, it can. Dying is some- ness in danger is instinct. Primitive thing the race prefers not to do. 'I man knows that Nature is a brute. He would rather die than’is, in the common will propitiate her, — he must, - but speech of the world, the ne plus ultra of if he can make an impudent gesture at aversion. All this is instinctive. When her behind her back, he will surely do we develop inhibitions and complexities, it. If he can defy the elements, he will there are many things in life to which defy them. If he can contrive a mechdeath would be preferable. But if you anism that flouts the law of gravity, he listen only to the deepest voice within will patronize that mechanism in thouyou, you fear death as spontaneously as sands. Romance — his only ally against you blink your eye to avoid the mote Nature -- will steady his soul while he that seeks it. The man who throws his does it. In most cases, x is what you life away for nothing is a fool; but - win from Nature when you have bluffed let us be absolutely honest: he is in successfully. To be a sport in the finest some sort a pleasant incident. He has sense, perhaps you must have the poker expressed an extraordinary and tonic face. scorn.

Man's implacable resentment against All subject peoples have been glad- the conditions of life lies at the heart of dened by the fool who defied the tyrant. all this business. We become rational To anyone who tells us that death is by canny observation of the bonds that cheaper than life, we listen incredulous- restrain us. To be irrational is to prely, but with joy. The person who has tend to ignore them. Real freedom does demonstrated that doing something not lie that way, because our limitations totally unimportant is more fun than bring us up very short. Real freedom is keeping alive makes the man in the free will operating in a deterministic street draw, foran instant, a freer breath. universe. Our philosophy professors It makes him feel that death is only used to explain it to us in college. Mumbo-Jumbo, after all. To be sure, Within the prison walls it is better to the man in the street will always say confine one's self to the hundred-yard that the person who has done this for dash. Surely you are happiest when him is insane. But at the back of beyond you curb your desires within the bounds

in his secret, savage heart he will of possibility. No man but a fool enters have liked it. He will not admit that he for a Marathon race when the barbed has liked it; for after that one blink, he wire is going to stop him so soon. But becomes a citizen again. We judge so when we see him start as for his Maraquickly, trained by the ages, that the thon, we forget the barbed wire for an sudden pleasure is gone almost before instant – until he crashes into it, that


is, and we can all ask, why attempt the 3 - I think the Wheel was right. But obviously impossible? Why defy com- if x were not sometimes incalculable, mon sense? Why pretend to forget the or nil, we should not bother about it, barbed wire? Yet Coney Island will and good sports would be few. It is the teach you, any day, how deep in human hint of the madman in him that ennature lies the ache to be the master, thralls us. It is not enough, as I said, not the servant, of natural laws - yes,

to face the inevitable danger gallantly: from Icarus down to the man who, since there must be the crook of an inviting I began this page, shattered himself to finger toward the risk. The good sport pieces in the Niagara rapids.

must be a good guesser, yes; but if he is Being a sport is, I suppose, going as absolutely infallible, you suspect him of

I far as there is any reasonable chance of having looked up the answer in the key. your being allowed to go. That reason- A grade of a hundred per cent is very able chance is sometimes a very diffi- suspicious. cult quantity to determine. But if the I do not know whether, between the chance were not sometimes less than bridge and the river, there is indeed reasonable, there would be no thrill in time for an act of perfect contrition; but being a sport. It is the dare-devil almost I do know that before the Ferris wheel touching him — just over the line — can come full circle there is time for a that makes the good sport an exciting lot of algebra. The pages written bear person. The good sport must calculate witness.

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'So what did you do about the Esther Davis leaned across to their woman?' Mrs. Alison asked.

hostess and whispered to her. “Tina, And Tina Metcalfe answered: 'I kept won't you tell them, now, about that her. I had a talk with the other servants summer at Sevenoaks?' first, and they were quite willing to give Mrs. Metcalfe lighted a cigarette, the her another chance. I must say, they've match illuminating a rather worried been nice about it, never throwing countenance; but she answered, "Yes, her trouble up to her but just trying to I will tell about it. Something has hap

pened which makes me want to talk to 'I wonder if people in our class could you about Violet Osborne.' be so decent to each other,' Mildred Violet Osborne!' Four of the six Peryn broke in. 'I've never known women in the room sat breathlessly whether we were more hard-hearted or erect. whether we feel responsible for the They were dining together, — these moral code and don't dare make excep

as they had done two or tions.'

three times a year since they had mar

six women,

ried and settled in the same city. It what she had meant to me. It started happened that they were all intimate me thinking about it for the first time friends, and, when their husbands left all alone like that. Of course, I'd talked them for club dinners at their old uni- it over and talked it over with all of versity, the women put on tea-gowns you and with Jim, and we'd always and sallied forth for a genial evening. come back to the same point — if only To-night, Tina Metcalfe had given there'd been some excuse! If only them a delicious dinner, and they had Harry Osborne had been a brute, cruel made themselves comfortable in her or unfaithful to her, or even awfully unbeautiful great library, a bridge table attractive or horribly poor — anything waiting for some enthusiasts in the would have done, so that we could corner, with fresh packs and shaded honestly have said, “Poor Violet!” light in readiness.

But there was n't any. She was young, But apparently the hostess had some she was beautiful, she was adored; furstory worth waiting for. They were all thermore, Harry Osborne was rich and women in early middle life, though one worshiped her. would not have thought of them in con- "Then suddenly I realized that all nection with any definite number of that was the very excuse for Violet. years, so alert, so soignées, so powerful If Harry has been a beast, it would they seemed in their splendid confidence have been her job to stick it out for his - not, to be sure, the joyous confidence sake and the children's - after all, if of youth, strong because it is untested, she had been unhappy, she would have but the solid self-assurance of satisfac- renounced very little. But this — this tory accomplishment.

giving up of everything that she valued Mrs. Metcalfe threw away her ciga- so tremendously, must be something rette and clasped her lovely, slender more than mere passion. We speak of hands about her knee, leaning forward dying for a person we love — it's practhat she might look into the fire and tically what Violet did for Cyril when avoid the curious faces of her guests. she went away with him, not away

'I'll have to go way back,' she said, from a brutal husband and sordid home, ‘to the fall directly after it happened. but away from the most congenial atI had taken out my Christmas list and mosphere that ever surrounded a gay was going over it. You know the way and fascinating woman. As for leaving it's arranged — Jim's family, my fam- Harry and the children, it was of course ily, children, personal friends, and so horrible, but she left them to the pity and forth — and the very first name under affection of countless friends and each “friends” was Violet Osborne. I've other for herself, outer darkness and often wondered what it was about her Cyril Stanton. that made hers the first name on any 'I hope you understand what I'm list; but I am sure, with all of us, the trying to say. At the time the lack of first person we thought of for a big din- any circumstances which would have ner or a tête-à-tête lunch or a Christmas made the world more charitable toward present was Violet.

what Violet had done suddenly glorified 'Well, anyway, I was checking the her act to me, and she stood out in my list, and almost involuntarily I started mind, superhuman, capable of so much to cross off her name. Then it occurred more than we who judge. It seems to me what a ghastly thing it was to do rather an anticlimax to add that I did

as if she were dead; and she was not n't scratch her name off the list. Indead, and her name where it was showed stead, I sent her a little lacquer match

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