Pageant by Stephen Crane
It's rotten, said Grief.
Oh, it's fair, old man. Still, I would not call it a great
contribution to American art, said Wrinkles.
You've got a good thing, Gaunt, if you go at it right, said little
These were all volunteer orations. The boys had come in one by one
and spoken their opinions. Gaunt listened to them no more than if they
had been so many match-peddlers. He never heard anything close at hand,
and he never saw anything excepting that which transpired across a
mystic wide sea. The shadow of his thoughts was in his eyes, a little
grey mist, and, when what you said to him had passed out of your mind,
he asked: Whaaat? It was understood that Gaunt was very good to
tolerate the presence of the universe, which was noisy and interested
in itself. All the younger men, moved by an instinct of faith, declared
that he would one day be a great artist if he would only move faster
than a pyramid. In the meantime he did not hear their voices.
Occasionally when he saw a man take vivid pleasure in life, he faintly
evinced an admiration. It seemed to strike him as a feat. As for him,
he was watching that silver pageant across a sea.
When he came from Paris to New York somebody told him that he must
make his living. He went to see some book publishers, and talked to
them in his manneras if he had just been stunned. At last one of them
gave him drawings to do, and it did not surprise him. It was merely as
if rain had come down.
Great Grief went to see him in his studio, and returned to the den
to say: Gaunt is working in his sleep. Somebody ought to set fire to
It was then that the others went over and smoked, and gave their
opinions of a drawing. Wrinkles said: Are you really looking at it,
Gaunt? I don't think you've seen it yet, Gaunt?
Why don't you look at it?
When Wrinkles departed, the model, who was resting at that time,
followed him into the hall and waved his arms in rage. That feller's
crazy. Yeh ought t' see and he recited lists of all the wrongs that
can come to models.
It was a superstitious little band over in the den. They talked
often of Gaunt. He's got pictures in his eyes, said Wrinkles. They
had expected genius to blindly stumble at the perface and ceremonies of
the world, and each new flounder by Gaunt made a stir in the den. It
awed them, and they waited.
At last one morning Gaunt burst into the room. They were all as dead
I'm going to paint a picture. The mist in his eyes was pierced by
a Coverian gleam. His gestures were wild and extravagant. Grief
stretched out smoking on the bed, Wrinkles and little Pennoyer working
at their drawing-boards tilted against the tablewere suddenly frozen.
If bronze statues had come and danced heavily before them, they could
not have been thrilled further.
Gaunt tried to tell them of something, but it became knotted in his
throat, and then suddenly he dashed out again.
Later they went earnestly over to Gaunt's studio. Perhaps he would
tell them of what he saw across the sea.
He lay dead upon the floor. There was a little grey mist before his
When they finally arrived home that night they took a long time to
undress for bed, and then came the moment when they waited for some one
to put out the gas. Grief said at last, with the air of a man whose
brain is desperately driven: I wonderIwhat do you suppose he was
going to paint?
Wrinkles reached and turned out the gas, and from the sudden
profound darkness, he said: There is a mistake. He couldn't have had
pictures in his eyes.