Between the Dark and the Daylight

Between the Dark and the Daylight (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907). The story was first published in

Harper’s Monthly 110 (Jan. 1905).

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The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst. Editha

sat looking out into the hot spring afternoon, with

her lips parted, and panting with the intensity of the

question whether she could let him go. She had

decided that she could not let him stay, when she

saw him at the end of the still leafless avenue,

making slowly up towards the house, with his head

down and his figure relaxed. She ran impatiently out

on the veranda, to the edge of the steps, and

imperatively demanded greater haste of him with her

will before she called him aloud to him: “George!”

He had quickened his pace in mystical response to

her mystical urgence, before he could have heard her;

now he looked up and answered, “Well?”

“Oh, how united we are!” she exulted, and then she

swooped down the steps to him, “What is it?” she


“It’s war,” he said. and he pulled her up to him and

kissed her.

She kissed him back intensely, but irrelevantly, as to

their passion, and uttered from deep in her throat.

“How glorious!”

“It’s war,” he repeated, without consenting to her

sense of it; and she did not know just what to think at

first. She never knew what to think of him; that made

his mystery, his charm. All through their courtship,

which was contemporaneous with the growth of the

war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of

seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even

more than he abhorred it. She could have understood

his abhorring any sort of bloodshed; that would have

been a survival of his old life when he thought he

would be a minister, and before he changed and took

up the law. But making light of a cause so high and

noble seemed to show a want of earnestness at the

core of his being. Not but that she felt herself able to

cope with a congenital defect of that sort, and make

his love for her save him from himself. Now perhaps

the miracle was already wrought in him. In the

presence of the tremendous fact that he announced,

all triviality seemed to have gone out of him; she

began to feel that. He sank down on the top step, and

wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, while she

poured out upon him her question of the origin and

authenticity of his news.

All the while, in her duplex emotioning, she was

aware that now at the very beginning she must put a

guard upon herself against urging him, by any word

or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed him

to take, for the completion of her ideal of him. He

was very nearly perfect as he was, and he must be

allowed to perfect himself. But he was peculiar, and

he might very well be reasoned out of his peculiarity.

Before her reasoning went her emotioning: her nature

pulling upon his nature, her womanhood upon his

manhood, without her knowing the means she was

using to the end she was willing. She had always

supposed that the man who won her would have

done something to win her; she did not know what,

but something. George Gearson had simply asked

her for her love, on the way home from a concert,

and she gave her love to him, without, as it were,

thinking. But now, it flashed upon her, if he could do

something worthy to have won her–be a hero, her hero–it would be even better than if he had done it

before asking her; it would be grander. Besides, she

had believed in the war from the beginning.

“But don’t you see, dearest,” she said, “that it

wouldn’t have come to this if it hadn’t been in the

order of Providence? And I call any war glorious that

is for the liberation of people who have been

struggling for years against the cruelest oppression.

Don’t you think so, too?”

“I suppose so,” he returned, languidly. “But war! Is it

glorious to break the peace of the world?”

“That ignoble peace! It was no peace at all, with that

crime and shame at our very gates.” She was

conscious of parroting the current phrases of the

newspapers, but it was no time to pick and choose

her words. She must sacrifice anything to the high

ideal she had for him, and after a good deal of rapid


argument she ended with the climax: “But now it

doesn’t matter about the how or why. Since the war

has come, all that is gone. There are no two sides any

more. There is nothing now but our country.”

He sat with his eyes closed and his head leant back

against the veranda, and he remarked, with a vague

smile, as if musing aloud, “Our country–right or


“Yes, right or wrong!” she returned, fervidly. “I’ll go

and get you some lemonade.” She rose rustling, and

whisked away; when she came back with two tall

glasses of clouded liquid on a tray, and the ice

clucking in them, he still sat as she had left him, and

she said, as if there had been no interruption: “But

there is no question of wrong in this case. I call it a

sacred war. A war for liberty and humanity, if ever

there was one. And I know you will see it just as I do,


He took half the lemonade at a gulp, and he

answered as he set the glass down: “I know you

always have the highest ideal. When I differ from

you I ought to doubt myself.”

A generous sob rose in Editha’s throat for the

humility of a man, so very nearly perfect, who was

willing to put himself below her.

Besides, she felt, more subliminally, that he was

never so near slipping through her fingers as when

he took that meek way.

“You shall not say that! Only, for once I happen to be

right.” She seized his hand in her two hands, and

poured her soul from her eyes into his. “Don’t you

think so?” she entreated him.

He released his hand and drank the rest of his

lemonade, and she added, “Have mine, too,” but he

shook his head in answering, “I’ve no business to

think so, unless I act so, too.”

Her heart stopped a beat before it pulsed on with

leaps that she felt in her neck. She had noticed that

strange thing in men: they seemed to feel bound to

do what they believed, and not think a thing was

finished when they said it, as girls did. She knew

what was in his mind, but she pretended not, and she

said, “Oh, I am not sure,” and then faltered.

He went on as if to himself, without apparently

heeding her: “There’s only one way of proving one’s

faith in a thing like this.”

She could not say that she understood, but she did


He went on again. “If I believed–if I felt as you do

about this war– Do you wish me to feel as you do?”

Now she was really not sure; so she said: “George, I

don’t know what you mean.”

He seemed to muse away from her as before. “There

is a sort of fascination in it. I suppose that at the

bottom of his heart every man would like at times to

have his courage tested, to see how he would act.”

“How can you talk in that ghastly way?”

“It is rather morbid. Still, that’s what it comes to, unless you’re swept away by ambition or driven by

conviction. I haven’t the conviction or the ambition,

and the other thing is what it comes to with me. I

ought to have been a preacher, after all; then I

couldn’t have asked it of myself, as I must, now I’m a

lawyer. And you believe it’s a holy war, Editha?” he

suddenly addressed her. “Oh, I know you do! But

you wish me to believe so, too?”

She hardly knew whether he was mocking or not, in

the ironical way he always had with her plainer

mind. But the only thing was to be outspoken with


“George, I wish you to believe whatever you think is

true, at any and every cost. If I’ve tried to talk you

into anything, I take it all back.”

“Oh, I know that, Editha. I know how sincere you are,

and how– I wish I had your undoubting spirit! I’ll

think it over; I’d like to believe as you do. But I don’t,

now; I don’t, indeed. It isn’t this war alone; though

this seems peculiarly wanton and needless; but it’s

every war–so stupid; it makes me sick. Why

shouldn’t this thing have been settled reasonably?”


“Because,” she said, very throatily again, “God meant

it to be war.”

“You think it was God? Yes, I suppose that is what

people wi11 say.”

“Do you suppose it would have been war if God

hadn’t meant it?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes it seems as if God had put

this world into men’s keeping to work it as they


“Now, George, that is blasphemy.”

“Well, I won’t blaspheme. I’ll try to believe in your

pocket Providence,” he said, and then he rose to go.

“Why don’t you stay to dinner?” Dinner at Balcom’s

Works was at one o’clock.

“I’ll come back to supper, if you’ll let me. Perhaps I

shall bring you a convert.”

“Well, you may come back, on that condition.”

“All right. If I don’t come, you’ll understand.”

He went away without kissing her, and she felt it a

suspension of their engagement. It all interested her

intensely; she was undergoing a tre

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