Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter III.2
DURING that winter Thea lived in so many places that sometimes at night when
she left Bowers's studio and emerged into the street she had to stop and think for
a moment to remember where she was living now and what was the best way to
get there.
When she moved into a new place her eyes challenged the beds, the carpets,
the food, the mistress of the house. The boarding-houses were wretchedly
conducted and Thea's complaints sometimes took an insulting form. She
quarreled with one landlady after another and moved on. When she moved into a
new room, she was almost sure to hate it on sight and to begin planning to hunt
another place before she unpacked her trunk. She was moody and
contemptuous toward her fellow boarders, except toward the young men, whom
she treated with a careless familiarity which they usually misunderstood. They
liked her, however, and when she left the house after a storm, they helped her to
move her things and came to see her after she got settled in a new place. But
she moved so often that they soon ceased to follow her. They could see no
reason for keeping up with a girl who, under her jocularity, was cold, self-
centered, and unimpressionable. They soon felt that she did not admire them.
Thea used to waken up in the night and wonder why she was so unhappy.
She would have been amazed if she had known how much the people whom she
met in Bowers's studio had to do with her low spirits. She had never been
conscious of those instinctive standards which are called ideals, and she did not
know that she was suffering for them. She often found herself sneering when she
was on a street-car, or when she was brushing out her hair before her mirror, as
some inane remark or too familiar mannerism flitted across her mind.
She felt no creature kindness, no tolerant good-will for Mrs. Priest or Jessie
Darcey. After one of Jessie Darcey's concerts the glowing press notices, and the
admiring comments that floated about Bowers's studio, caused Thea bitter
unhappiness. It was not the torment of personal jealousy. She had never thought
of herself as even a possible rival of Miss Darcey. She was a poor music student,
and Jessie Darcey was a popular and petted professional. Mrs. Priest, whatever
one held against her, had a fine, big, showy voice and an impressive presence.
She read indifferently, was inaccurate, and was always putting other people
wrong, but she at least had the material out of which singers can be made. But
people seemed to like Jessie Darcey exactly because she could not sing;
because, as they put it, she was "so natural and unprofessional." Her singing
was pronounced "artless," her voice "birdlike." Miss Darcey was thin and
awkward in person, with a sharp, sallow face. Thea noticed that her plainness
was accounted to her credit, and that people spoke of it affectionately. Miss
Darcey was singing everywhere just then; one could not help hearing about her.
She was backed by some of the packing-house people and by the Chicago