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she were not talking.
“There’s a man—David Barnes, the sculptor—who’s taken a house near here—the old Grainger place—and last night he was at our house for dinner. He saw that head you did, and he just shouted when he saw it, ‘Who did that?’ And when Mother told him, he said, ‘Tell her to come and see me.’”
“Oh, Michael—did he really?”
“Yes. Partly that’s why I looked you up today. Will you go?”
“I don’t know.”
She was looking at his picture, the wood dark against the sky, the small figure on a horse rushing toward it dangerously.
“Yes, you will.”
“Will I? I don’t promise.”
“You’ll go tomorrow.”
“I don’t know.”
“You’ll be sorry to the end of your life if you don’t.”
She turned to deny it, but she could say nothing at all. Her eyes were full of tears and her heart was dismayed with feeling she could not understand.
“Goodbye,” said Michael gently. “I shall call up Dave Barnes tonight and tell him you’ll be there tomorrow at three. You know David Barnes—He made that enormous statue last year which won the Chicago prize—early Titan, he called it.”
Then Michael was gone and she stood in the attic alone, lost in a yearning so huge, so deep, that nothing she had ever known was like it.
“I can’t leave John and I can’t take him,” she thought, but underneath she was planning quickly. “I could ask Mother to come and sit with him a little while. Then, if I have to, I can make arrangements later for someone regularly—”
She went downstairs, bathed and fed John, and made the dinner carefully. And when Mark came she said nothing at all to him of what she knew now she would certainly do.
She pulled on her gloves quickly at the door of the living room, glancing about it. Everything was in order. Upstairs John was asleep. Her mother sat in the big chair, her shoes off, her feet on a footstool, a magazine in her hands over which her eyes roved.
Susan said, “If he wakes before I get back he can have some orange juice and a piece of toast. But I’ll be back soon.”
“Shall I do anything for your supper?” her mother asked, staring at the picture of a lurid salad.
“Everything’s ready to put on the stove. I’ll be back long before then.”
“All right,” her mother said, and she turned the pages to a story and her face grew vacant as she began to read.
Susan closed the door behind her and went out into the bright spring afternoon, and walked down the street to the bus stop. She would ask the driver to drop her as nearly as he could to the gate of the Grainger place. And then she would go up the path under the drooping old hemlocks, and then, and then—she had no imagination of what would happen. But she would go into the house where a great sculptor did his work, and she would hear him talk of what he did and she could ask him all the questions for which she had no answer alone, and whom no one she had ever met or known could answer. All her life she had been like someone wandering in a dark wood alone, and now she was coming into light. She was going to learn, to know how, to make what she saw to make.
But when she stepped down before the Grainger gateway she stepped upon other ground. And she was afraid. What was she beginning, and what would be the end? She might have turned and climbed the steps of the bus again had it not roared on in a cloud of dust. She might have turned and walked away if she had not lain awake those hours last night, imagining this moment, dreaming of it, still forbidding it to herself, although she knew it would come because she wanted it too much to refuse it to herself.
“What’s the matter?” Mark had asked out of his sleep when she turned on the light, not able to bear the reality of her dreaming. She had to make sure of the room, of her bed and chest of drawers.
“Nothing,” she said, and put out the light.
She walked now, as she had dreamed, straight through the gate, between