UNTIL SHE WAS seven years old she lived in an old unpainted
house on an unused road that led off Trunion Pike. Her father gave
her but little attention and her mother was dead. The father spent
his time talking and thinking of religion. He proclaimed him- self
an agnostic and was so absorbed in destroying the ideas of God that had
crept into the minds of his neighbors that he never saw God manifesting
himself in the little child that, half forgotten, lived here and there
on the bounty of her dead mother's relatives.
A stranger came to Winesburg and saw in the child what the father
did not see. He was a tall, red- haired young man who was almost
always drunk. Sometimes he sat in a chair before the New Willard House
with Tom Hard, the father. As Tom talked, declaring there could be
no God, the stranger smiled and winked at the bystanders. He and
Tom became friends and were much together.
The stranger was the son of a rich merchant of Cleveland and
had come to Winesburg on a mission. He wanted to cure himself of the habit
of drink, and thought that by escaping from his city associates and living
in a rural community he would have a better chance in the struggle with
the appetite that was destroying him.
His sojourn in Winesburg was not a success. The dullness
of the passing hours led to his drinking harder than ever. But he
did succeed in doing some- thing. He gave a name rich with meaning
to Tom Hard's daughter.
One evening when he was recovering from a long debauch the stranger
came reeling along the main street of the town. Tom Hard sat in a
chair before the New Willard House with his daughter, then a child of five,
on his knees. Beside him on the board sidewalk sat young George Willard.
The stranger dropped into a chair beside them. His body shook and
when he tried to talk his voice trembled.
It was late evening and darkness lay over the town and over
the railroad that ran along the foot of a little incline before the hotel.
Somewhere in the distance, off to the west, there was a prolonged blast
from the whistle of a passenger engine. A dog that had been sleeping
in the roadway arose and barked. The stranger began to babble and made
a prophecy concerning the child that lay in the arms of the agnostic.
"I came here to quit drinking," he said, and tears began to
run down his cheeks. He did not look at Tom Hard, but leaned forward
and stared into the darkness as though seeing a vision. "I ran away
to the country to be cured, but I am not cured. There is a reason."
He turned to look at the child who sat up very straight on her father's
knee and returned the look.
The stranger touched Tom Hard on the arm. "Drink is not the
only thing to which I am ad- dicted," he said. "There is something
else. I am a lover and have not found my thing to love. That
is a big point if you know enough to realize what I mean. It makes
my destruction inevitable, you see. There are few who understand that."
The stranger became silent and seemed overcome with sadness,
but another blast from the whistle of the passenger engine aroused him.
"I have not lost faith. I proclaim that. I have only been brought
to the place where I know my faith will not be real- ized," he declared
hoarsely. He looked hard at the child and began to address her, paying
no more at- tention to the father. "There is a woman coming," he
said, and his voice was now sharp and earnest. "I have missed her, you
see. She did not come in my time. You may be the woman.
It would be like fate to let me stand in her presence once, on such an
evening as this, when I have destroyed myself with drink and she is as
yet only a child."
The shoulders of the stranger shook violently, and when he tried
to roll a cigarette the paper fell from his trembling fingers. He
grew angry and scolded. "They think it's easy to be a woman, to be loved,
but I know better," he declared. Again he turned to the child.
"I understand," he cried. "Perhaps of all men I alone understand."
His glance again wandered away to the darkened street.
"I know about her, although she has never crossed my path," he said softly.
"I know about her struggles and her defeats. It is because of her
defeats that she is to me the lovely one. Out of her defeats has
been born a new quality in woman. I have a name for it. I call
it Tandy. I made up the name when I was a true dreamer and before
my body became vile. It is the quality of being strong to be loved.
It is something men need from women and that they do not get. "
The stranger arose and stood before Tom Hard. His body rocked
back and forth and he seemed about to fall, but instead he dropped to his
knees on the sidewalk and raised the hands of the little girl to his drunken
lips. He kissed them ecstatically. "Be Tandy, little one," he pleaded.
"Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture
anything. Be brave enough to dare to be loved. Be something
more than man or woman. Be Tandy."
The stranger arose and staggered off down the street.
A day or two later he got aboard a train and returned to his home in Cleveland.
On the summer evening, after the talk before the hotel, Tom Hard took the
girl child to the house of a relative where she had been invited to spend
the night. As he went along in the darkness under the trees he forgot
the babbling voice of the stranger and his mind returned to the making
of arguments by which he might de- stroy men's faith in God. He spoke
his daughter's name and she began to weep.
"I don't want to be called that," she declared. "I want
to be called Tandy--Tandy Hard." The child wept so bitterly that Tom Hard
was touched and tried to comfort her. He stopped beneath a tree and,
taking her into his arms, began to caress her. "Be good, now," he
said sharply; but she would not be quieted. With childish abandon
she gave herself over to grief, her voice breaking the evening stillness
of the street. "I want to be Tandy. I want to be Tandy.
I want to be Tandy Hard," she cried, shak- ing her head and sobbing as
though her young strength were not enough to bear the vision the words
of the drunkard had brought to her.
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