Vandover and the Brute
"We will begin all over again, Van," his father said later that same day. "We will start in
again and try to forget all this, not as much as we can, but as much as we ought, and live
it down, and from now on we'll try to do the thing that is right and brave and good."
"Just try me, sir!" cried Vandover.
That was it, begin all over again. He had never seen more clearly than now that other life
which it was possible for him to live, a life that was above the level of self-indulgence
and animal pleasures, a life that was not made up of the society of lost women or fast
girls, but yet a life of keen enjoyment.
Whenever he had been deeply moved about anything, the power and desire of art had
grown big within him, and he turned to it now, instinctively and ardently.
It was all the better half of him that was aroused—the better half that he had kept in
check ever since his college days, the better half that could respond to the influences of
his father and of Turner Ravis, that other Vandover whom he felt was his real self,
Vandover the true man, Vandover the artist, not Vandover the easy-going, the self-
indulgent, not Vandover the lover of women.
From this time forward he was resolved to give up the world that he had hitherto known,
and devote himself with all his strength to his art. In the first glow of that resolution he
thought that he had never been happier; he wondered how he could have been blind so
long; what was all that life worth compared with the life of a great artist, compared even
with a life of sturdy, virile effort and patient labour even though barren of achievement?
And then something very curious happened: The little picture of Turner Ravis that hung
over his mantelpiece caught his glance, looking out at him with her honest eyes and sweet
smile. In an instant he seemed to love her as he had never imagined he could love any
one. All that was best in him went out toward her in a wave of immense tenderness; the
tears came to his eyes, he could not tell why. Ah, he was not good enough for her now,
but he would love her so well that he would grow better, and between her and his good
father and his art, the better Vandover, the real Vandover, would grow so large and strong
within him that there should be no room for the other Vandover, the Vandover of Flossie
and of the Imperial, the Vandover of the brute.
During the course of talk that day between himself and his father, it was decided that
Vandover should go away for a little while. He was in a fair way to be sick from worry
and nervous exhaustion, and a sea trip to San Diego and back seemed to be what he stood
most in need of. Besides this, his father told him, it was inevitable that his share in Ida's
death would soon be known; in any case it would be better for him to be away from the