The Night Is Lonely, the Road Is Long

In O. Henry’s Lost on Dress Parade Mr. Towers Chandler is an architectural apprentice with some notions about what it means to be a man about town.  He makes $18 a week of which he sets aside $1 a week for ten weeks.

At the end of the tenth pay week he dresses in his finery like the “regalia of millionaires and presidents  and descends the stairs of his modest boarding house “immaculately and correctly clothed; calm, assured, handsome—in appearance the typical New York young clubman setting out, slightly bored, to inaugurate the pleasures of the evening.”

He has a sumptuous meal with a nice respected bottle of wine. From his $10 he lavishes generous tips, a fine cigar, a fashionable cab and “the ordinary etceteras.

Towers enjoyed these trips into fantasy five times a year.  It gave him a glimpse into the regal society of New York City, being intimate yet distant from the concourse of the gentlemen and ladies.

However on this night his path was crossed or should I say landed him a dinner companion by the name of Miss Marian, ”a shop-girl no doubt,” thought the pretentious Mr. Chandler.  He felt she would relish the opportunity to dine with a gentleman.

So they dined and talk, well, Towers talked as he whipped up his resume to such heights that the gods of Olympus would have been annoyed by this boasting mortal.  True to the nature of Towers’ definition of a shop-girl, Miss Marian said,

This way of living that you speak of sounds so futile and purposeless.  Haven’t you any work to do in the world that might interest you more?”

Towers reassured her that his kind worked the hardest just be to be their kind.  After dinner they said their good-byes and parted.

Towers returned to his rented room and discarded his airs from his stroll into the upper echelon of New York society.  However, as he thought of his lovely dinner companion, he regretted not telling her the truth about his station.  He glanced at his clothes on the bed and pondered on the shop-girl with the dark brown hair. For him now the night is lonely.

Miss Marian returned home to “a handsome and sedate mansion two squares to the east, facing on that avenue which is the highway of Mammon and the auxiliary gods. Her elder sister was waiting to give her a reprimand.

As they talked, Miss Marian said,

I could love a man with dark and kind blue eyes, who is gentle and respectful to poor girls, who is handsome and good and does not try to flirt. But I could love him only if he had an ambition, an object, some work to do in the world. I would not care how poor he was if I could help him build his way up. But, sister dear, the kind of man we always meet—the man who lives an idle life between society and his clubs—I could not love a man like that, even if his eyes were blue and he were ever so kind to poor girls whom he met in the street.”

In conclusion I am reminded of the song the Rose with its haunting words about love.  For Miss Marian and Mr. Chandler the crossing of their paths that cold winter night was serendipity.

Chance meetings between two people are rarely repeated on this planet traversing the cosmos.  The road is long.  However, the song says,

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose…

Perhaps, just perhaps, in the post-O’Henry world, Mr. Chandler and Miss Marian will have another moment of serendipity.  For you see the seed of love was planted that night in two young hearts.  When love burst into spring bloom cosmic forces are at work to enrich the tender plant with the nectar of stardust.

Next time we will find these two destined lovers and relate their new adventure.  As always, we will add a nice O. Henry touch at the end which will surely not disappoint the romantic heart.

G. D. Williams       © 2012

POST 410

http://www.literaturecollection.com/a/o_henry/45/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N57l4BH6KQ&feature=related

Some say love it is a river
that drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
an endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
and you it’s only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give
and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose

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