Copyright by Doubleday, Pas* Company.
Synopsis.Major Amberson had made a fortune in 1873 when other people
were losing fortunes, and the magnificence of the Ambersons began then.
Major Amberson laid out a 200-acre "development," with roads and statuary,
and in the center of a four-acre tract, on Amberson avenue, built for himself
the most magnificent mansion Midland City had ever seen. When the major's
daughter married young Wilbur Minafer the neighbors predicted that as
Isabel could never really love Wilbur all her love would be bestowed upon the
children. There is only one child, however, George Amberson Minafer, and
his upbringing and his youthful accomplishments as a mischief maker are
quite in keeping with the most pessimistic predictions. By the time George
goes away to college he does not attempt to conceal his belief that the
Ambersons are about the most important family in the world. At a ball given
in his honor when he returns from college, George monopolizes Lucy Morgan,
a stranger and the prettiest girl present, and gets on famously with her until
he learns that a "queer looking duck" at whom he had been poking much fun,
is the young lady's father. He is Eugene Morgan, a former resident of
Bigburg, and he is returning to erect a factory and to build horseless carriages
of hta own Invention. Eugene had been an old admirer of Isabel's and they
had been engaged when Isabel threw him over because of a youthful indiscre-
tion and married Wilbur Minafer. George makes rapid progress in his courtship
The appearance of Miss Lucy Mor
gan the next day, as she sat in
George's fast cutter, proved so charm
ing that her escort was stricken to
soft words instantly and failed to con
trol a poetje impulse. "You look
like" he said. "Your face looks
likeit looks like a snowflake on a
lump of coal. I mean aa snowflake
that would be a rose-leaf too!"
"Perhaps you'd better look-at the
reins," she returned. "We almost up
set just then."
George declined to heed this advice.
"Because there's too much pink in
your cheeks for a snowflake," he con
tinued. "What's that fairy story about
enow-white and rose-red'*
"We're going pretty fast, Mr. Mina-
"Well, you see, Tm only here for
"I mean the sleigh!" she explained.
"We're not the only people on the
street, you know."
"Oh, they'll keep out of the way."
"That's very patrician charloteeer
lng, but It seems to me a horse like
this needs guidance. Tm sure he's
going almost twenty miles an hour."
"That's nothing," said George but
he consented to look forward again.
"He can trot under three minutes, all
right." He laughed. "I suppose your
father thinks he can build a horseless
carriage to go that fast!"
"They go that fast already, some
said George "they dofor
about a hundred feet! Then they give
a yell and burn up."
Evidently she decided not to defend
her father's faith In horseless car
riages, for sho laughed and said noth
ing. The cold air was polka-dotted
with snowflakes, and trembled to the
loud, continuous jingling of sleigh
bells. Boys and girls, all aglow and
panting jets of vapor, darted at the
passing sleighs to ride on the runners,
or sought to rope their sleds to any
vehicle whatever, but the fleetest no
more than just touched the flying cut
ter, though a hundred soggy mittens'
grasped for It, then reeled and whirled
till sometimes the wearers of those
daring mittens plunged flat In the
snow and lay a-sprawl, reflecting.
Bat there came panting and chug
ging up that flat thoroughfare a thing
which some day was to spoil all their
eleightlme merrimentsave for the
rashest and most disobedient. It was
vaguely like a topless surrey, but cum
brous with unwholesome excrescences
fore and aft, while underneath were
spinning leather belts and something
that whirred and howled and seemed
to stagger. The rlde-stealers made no
attempt to fasten their sleds to a con
trivance so nonsensical and yet so
fearsome. Instead they gave over their
sport and concentrated all their ener
gies in their lungs, so that up and
down the street the one cry shrilled
Increasingly: "Git a hoss! Git a hoss!
Git a hoss! Mister, why don't you git
a boss7" Bat the mahout in charge,
sitting solitary on the front seat, was
unconcernedhe laughed, and now
and then ducked a snowball without
losing any of his good-nature. It was
Mr. Eugene Morgan who exhibited so
cheerful a countenance between the
forward visor of a deer-stalker cap
and the collar of a fuzzy gray ulster.
"Git a hoss!" the children shrieked,
and gruffer voices joined them. "Git
a hoss! Git a hoss! Git a hoss!"
George Minafer was correct thus
far the twelve miles an hour of such
a machine would ^hever overtake
George's trotter. The cutter was al
ready scurrying between the stone pil
lars at the entrance to Amberson ad
"That's my grandfather's,'* said
George, nodding toward the Amberson
"I ought to know that!** Lacy ex
claimed. "We stayed there late enough
last night: paps and I were almost
the last to go. He and your mother
and Miss Fanny Minafer got the mu
sicians to play ai.otb.er waits when
everybody else had gone downstairs
and the fiddles were being put away
in their cases. PapaJSmced part of
It with Miss Minafer s^Bbe rest with
your mother. Miss Mrnafer's your
aunt, isn't she?*
"Yes she lives with us. That's our
house just beyond grandfather's," He
waved sealskin gauntlet to indicate
The Magnificent Ambersons
By BOOTH TARKINGTON
"IT'S 'AU REVOIR' TILL TONIGHT, ISN'T IT?"
the house Major Amberson had built
for Isabel as a wedding gift. He
frowned as they passed a closed car
riage and pair. The body of this com
fortable vehicle sagged slightly to one
side the paint was old and seamed
with! hundreds of minute cracks like
little rivers on a black map the
coachman, a fat and elderly darky,
seemed to drowse upon the box but
the. open window afforded the occu
pants of the cutter a glimpse of a
tired, fine old face, a silk hat, a pearl
tie and an astrachan collar, evidently
out to take the air.
"There's your grandfather now,"
said Lucy. "Isn't It?"
George's frown was not relaxed.
"Yes, It Is and he ought to give that
rat trcp away and sell those old
horses.* They're a disgrace, all shaggy
not eyen clipped. I suppose he
doesn't notice Itpeople get awful
funny when they get old they seem
to lose their self-respect, sort of."
I "He seemed a real Brummell to me,"
"Oh, he keeps up about what he
wears, well enough, but Another
thing I don't think he ought to allow:
a good many people, bought big lots
and they built houses on 'em then
the price of the. land kept getting
higher, and they'd sell part of their
yards and let the people that bought
it build on it to live in, till they
haven't hardly any of 'em got big, open
yards any more, and It's getting all
built up. The way It used to be It was
a gentleman's country estate, and
that's the way my grandfather ought
to keep It. He lets these people take
too many liberties: they do anything
they want to."
"But* how could he stop them?"
Lucy asked, surely with reason. "If
he sold them the land It's theirs, Isn't
George remained serene in the face
of this apparently difficult question.
"He ought Jo have all the tradespeople
boycott the families that sell part of
their yards that way* All he'd have to
do would be to tell the tradespeople
they wouldn't get any more orders
from the family If they didn't do it"
"From 'the family?' What family?"
"Our family," said George, unper
turbed. "The Ambersons."
"I see!" she murmured, and evident
ly she did see something that he did
There's Your Grandfather Now,"
not, for, as She lifted her muff to her
face he asked:
"What are yoa laughing at now?"
"WhyC "Yon always seem to have some
little secret of your own to get happy
'Always r" she exclaimed. "What
a big word, when we only met last
"That's another case of it," he said,
with obvious sincerity. "One of tie
reasons I don't like youmuck Iis
you've got that way of- seeming qui
etly superior to everybody else."
"I!" she cried. "I have?"
"Oh, you think yon keep It sort of
THE TOMAHAWK. WHITE EARTH. MINN.
confidential to yourself, but it's plain
enough! I don't believe in that kind
of thing. I think the world's like this:
there's a few people that their birth
and position, and so on, puts* them at
the top, and they ought to treat each
other entirely as equals." His voice
betrayed a little emotion as he added,
"I wouldn't speak like this to every-
"You mean you're confiding your
deepest creedor code, what ever It
"Go on make fun of it, then!"
George said bitterly. "You do think
you're terribly clever! It makes me
"Well, as you don't like my seeming
'quietly superior,' after this I'll be nois
ily superior," she returned cheerfully.
"We aim to please!"
"I had a notion before I came for
you today that we were going to quar
rel" be said.
"No, we wont It takes two!" She
laughed and waved her muff toward a
new house, not quite completed, stand
ing in a field upon their right. They
had passed beyond Amberson addition
and were leaving the northern fringes
of the town for the open country.
"Isn't that a beautiful house!" she ex
claimed. "Papa and I call it our Beau
George was not pleased. "Does it
belong to you?"
"Of course not I Papa brought me
out here, the other day, driving in his
machine, and we both loved it. It's so
spacious and dignified and plain."
"Yes, it's plain enough!" George
"Yet it's lovely the gray-green roc
and shutters give just enough color,
with the trees, for the long white
walls. It seems to be the finest house
I've seen in this part of the country."
George was outraged by an enthu
siasm so ignorantnot ten minutes
ago they had passed the Amberson
mansion. "Is that a sample of your
taste in architecture?" he asked.
"Because it strikes me you better go
somWhere and study the subject a
Lucy looked puzzled. "What makes
you have so much feeling about it?
Have I offended you?"
"'Offended' nothing!" George re
turned brusquely. "Girls usually
think they know it all as soon as
they've learned to dance and dress and
flirt a little. They never know any
thing about things like architecture,
for instance. That house was about
as bum a house as any house I ever
He spoke of it in the past tense, be
cause they had now left it far behind
thema human habit of curious sig
nificance. "It was like a house meant
for a street in the city. What kind
of a house was that for people of
any taste to build out here In the coun-
"But papa says it's built that way
on purpose. There are a lot of other
houses being built in this dlrectloe.
and papa says the city's coming out
this way and in a year or two that
house will be right in town."
"It was a bum house, anyhow," said
George crossly. "I don't even know
the people that are building It. They
say a lot of riffraff come to town every
year nowadays and there's other riff
raff that have always lived here, and
have made a little money, and act as
if they owned the place. Uncle Syd
ney was talking about it yesterday:
he says he and some of his friends are
organizing a country- club, and already
some of these riffraff are worming into
itpeople he never heard of at all!
Anyhow I guess it's pretty clear yon
don't know a great deal about archi
She demonstrated the completeness
of her amiability by laughing. "I'll
know something about the north pole
before long," she said, "If we keep
going much farther in this direction!"
At this he was remorseful. "All
right we'll turn and drive south
awhile till you get warmed up again.
I expect we have been going against
the* wind about long enough. Indeed,
He said, "Indeed, Tm sorry." in a
nice way, and looked very strikingly
handsome when he said It she
thought. No doubt it Is true that
there is more rejoicing in heaven over
one sinner repented than over all the
saints who consistently remain holy,
and the rare, sudden gentlenesses of
arrogant people have Infinitely more
effect than the continual gentleness of
gentle people. Arrogance turned
gentle melts the heart and Lacy gave
her companion a little sidelong sunny
nod of acknowledgment. George was
dazzled by the quick glow of her eyes,
and found bJasself at a loss for some
Having turned about be kept his
horse to a walk, and at this gait the
sleighbells tinkled but intermittently.
The snow no longer fell, and fay
ahead, in a grayish cloud that lay upon
the land, was the town.
Lucy looked at tills distant thicken
ing reflection. "When we get this far
out we can see there must be quite a
little smoke hanging over the town,"
she said. "1 suppose that's because
Ifs growing. As It grows bigger It
seems to get ashamed of Itself, so It
makes this cloud and hides in it.
Papa says it used to be a bit nicer
when he lived here: he always speaks
of it differentlyhe always has a
gentle look, a particular tone of voice,
I've noticed. He must have been very
fond of it. From the way he talts
you'd think life here then was just
one long midsummer serenade. He
declares it was always sunshiny, that
the air wasn't like the air anywhere
elsethat, as he remembers it, there
always seemed to be gold dust in the
air. I doubt it! I think it doesn't
seem to be duller air to hlni now
just on account of having a little soot
in it sometimes, but probably because
he was twenty years younger then. It
seems to me the gold dust he thinks
was here is just his being young that
he remembers. I think it was just
youth. It is pretty pleasant to be
young, isn't it?"
"You're a funny girl," George said
gently. "But your voice sounds pretty
nice when you think and talk along to
gether like that!"
The horse shook himself all over,
and the Impatient sleighbells made his
wish audible. Accordingly George
tightened the reins, and the cutter was
off again at a three-minute trot, no
despicable rate of speed. It was not
long before they were again passing
Lucy's Beautiful House, and here
George thought fit to put an appendix
to his remark. "You're a funny girl,
and you know a lotbut I don't be
lieve you know much about architec-
Coming toward them, black against
the snowy road, was a strange silhou
ette. It approached moderately and
without visible means of progression,
so the matter seemed from a distance
but as the cutter shortened the dis
tance the silhouette was revealed to be
Mr. Morgan's horseless carriage, con
veying four people atop: Mr. Morgan
with George's mother beside him, and,
In the rear seat, Miss Fanny Minafer
and the Hon. George Amberson. All
four seemed to be In the liveliest hu
mor, like high-spirited people upon a
new adventure and Isabel waved her
handkerchief dashingly as the cutter
flashed by them.
"For the Lord's sake!" George
"Your mother's a dear," said Lucy.
"And she does wear the most bewitch
ing things! She looked like a Russian
princess, though I doubt if they're that
George said nothing he drove on
till they had crossed Amberson addi
tion and reached the stone pillars at
the head of National avenue. There
"Let's go back and take another look
at that old sewing machine," he said.
"It certainly is the weirdest, cra
He left the sentence unfinished, and
presently they were again In sight of
the old sewing machine. George shout
Alas! three figures stood in the road,
and'a pair of legs with the toes turned
up Indicated that a fourth figure lay
upon Its back in the snow, beneath a
horseless carriage that had decided to
need a horse.
George became vociferous with
laughter, and coming up to his trot
ter's best gait, snow spraying from
runners and every hoof, swerved to
the side of the road and shot by shout
ing, "Git a hossl Git a hoss! Git a
Three hundred yards away he turned
and came back, racing leaning out
as he passed, to wave jeerlngly at the
group about the disabled machine:
"Git a hossl Git a hoss! Git a"
The trotter had broken Into a gallop,
and Lucy cried a warning: "Be care-
ful!" she said. "Look where you're
driving! There's a ditch on/that side.
George turned too late the cutter's
right runner went Into the ditch and
snapped off the little sleigh upset,
and, after dragging Its occupants some
fifteen yards, left them lying together
In a bank of snow. Then the vigorous
young horse kicked himself free of
all annoyances and disappeared down
the road, galloping cheerfully.
When George regained some meas
ure of his presence of mind Miss Lucy
Morgan's cheek, snowy and cold, was
pressing his nose slightly to one side
and a monstrous amount of her fur
boa seemed to mingle with an equally
unplausible quantity of snow In his
mouth. He was confused, but con
scious of no objection to any of these
juxtapositions. She was apparently
uninjured, for she sat up, hatless, her
hair down, and said mildly:
Though her father had been under
bis machine when they passed, be was
the first to reach them. He threw
himself on his knees beside his daugh
ter, but found her already laughing,
and was reassured. "They're all
right," he called to Isabel, who was
running toward them, ahead of her
brother and Fanny Minafer. "This
snowbank's a feather bednothing
the matter with them at all. Don't
look so pale!"
"Georgie!" she gasped. "Georgle!"
Georgie was on bis feet, snow all
"Don't make a fuss, mother! Noth
ing's the matter. That darned silly
Sudden tears stood In Isabel's eyes.
"To see you down underneathdrag
gtngoh!" Then with shaking
bands sho began to brush the snow
"Let me alone," he protested. "You'll
ruin your gloves. You're getting snow
all over you.
"Wo, not" she cried. -Tou'H catch
cold you mustn't catch cold!" And
she continued to brush him.
Amberson had brought Lucy's hat
Miss 1 Huny acted as lady's maid and
both victims of the accident were
presently restored to about their usual
appearance and condition of apparel.
In fact, encouraged by the two older
gentlemen, the entire party, with one
exception, decided that the episode
was after all a merry one, and began
to laugh about It. But George was
glummer than the December twilight
now swiftly closing in.
"That darned horse he sa'd.
"I wouldn't bother about Pendennis,
Georgie," said his uncle. "You can
send a man out for what's 'eft of the
cutter tomorrow, and Pendonnis will
gallop home to his stable: he'll be
there a long while before we will, be
cause all we've got to depend on to
get us home is Gene Morgan'* broken
down chafing dish yonder."
They were approaching the machine
as he spoke, and his friend, gain un
derneath it. heard him. He emerged,
smiling. "She'll go," he said.
"What!" "All aboard!"
He offered his hand to Isaliel. She
was smiling but still pale, ind her
eyes, In spite of the smile, kept upon
George in a shocked anxiety. Miss
Fanny had already mounted to the
rear seat, and George, after helping
Lucy Morgan to climb up beside his
aunt, was following. Isabel saw tlmt
his shoes were light things of patent
leather, and that snow was clinging
to them. She made a little rush
toward him, and, as one of his feet
rested on the Iron step of the machine,
In mounting, she began to clean the
snow from his shoe with her almost
aerial lace handkerchief. "You mustn't
catch cold!" she cried.
"Stop that!" George shouted, and
furiously withdrew his foot. "For
heaven's sake get In! You're stand
ing In the snow yourself. Get In!"
Isabel consented, turning to Morgan,
whose habitual expression of appre
henslveness was somewhat accentu
ated. He climbed up after her, George
Amberson having gone to the other
side. "You're the same Isabel I used
to know!" be said in a low voice.
"You're a divinely ridiculous woman."
"Am I, Eugene?" she said, not dis
pleased. "'Divinely' and 'ridiculous'
just counterbalance each other, don't
they? Plus one and minus one equal
nothing so you mean I'm nothing in
"No," (he answered, tugging at a
lever. "That doesn'f seem to be pre
cisely what I meant. There!" This
exclamation referred to the subterra
nean machinery, for dismaying sounds
came from beneath the floor, and the
vehicle plunged, then rolled noisily
"Behold!" George Amberson ex
claimed. "She does move! It must
be another accident."
"'Accident?'" Morgan shouted over
the din. "No! She breathes, she
stirs she seems to feel a thrill of life
along her keel!" And he began to
sing "The Star Spangled Banner."
Amberson joined him lustily, and
sang on when Morgan stopped. His
nephew, behind, was gloomy. He had
overheard his mother's conversation
with the inventor: it seemed curious
to him that this Morgac, of whom he
had never heard until last night,
should be using the name "Isabel" so
A3Uy and George felt that It was not
just the thing for his mother to call
Morgan "Eugene the resentment of
the previous night came upon George
again. Meanwhile his mother and
Morgan continued their talk but he
could no longer hear what they said
the noise of the car and his uncle's
songful mood prevented. He marked
how animated Isabel seemed It was
not strange to see bis mother so gay,
but It was strange that a man not of
the family should be the cause of
ber gayety. And George sat frowning.
Lucy turned to him. "Yon tried to
swing underneath me and break the
fall for me when we went over," she
said. "I knew you were doing that,
andIt wss nice of you."
"Wasn't any fall to speak be
returned brusquely. "Couldn't have
hurt either of us."
"Still It was friendly of youand
awfully quick, too, I'll notHI not
Her voice had a sound of genuine
ness, very pleasant, and George be
gan to forget bis annoyance with her
father. This aaneyasm of bis bad as*,
been alleviated by the circamstanas
that neither of the seats of the old
sewing machine was designed for
three people, but when his neighbor
spoke thus gratefully, he no longer
minded the crowdingin fact, It
pleased him so much that he began to
wish the old sewing machine would go
even slower. George presently ad
dressed Lucy hurriedly, almost trem
ulously, speaking close to her ear:
"I forgot to tell you something:
you're pretty nice! I thought so the
first second I saw you last night. I'll
come for you tonight and take you to
the Assembly at the Amberson hotel.
You're going, aren't you?"
"Yes, but I'm going with papa and
the Sharons. I'll ee you there."
"Well, we'll dance the cotillion to
"I'm afraid not. I promised Mr.
"What!" Guorge's tone was
shocked, as at incredible news. "Well,
you could break that engagement, I
guess, if you wanted to Girls always
can get out of things when they want
to. Won't you?"
"I don't think so."
"Because I promised him. Several
"See here!" said tne stricken George.
"If you're going to decline to dance
that cotillion with me simply because*
you've promised aaa miserable
red-headed outsider like Fred Kinney,
why we might as well quit I"
"You know perfectly well what L,
mean," he said huskily.
"Well, you ought to!"
"But I don't at all!"
George, thoroughly hurt, and not a
little embittered, expressed himself
in a short outburst of laughter: "Well,
I ought to have seen it I"
"That you might turn out to be a
girl who'd like a fellow of the red
headed Kinney sort. I ought to have
seen it from the nrst!"
Lucy bore her disgrace lightly. "Oh,
dancing a cotillion with a person
doesn't mean that you like himbut
I don't see anything In particular the
matter with Mr. Kinney. What is?"
"I prefer not to discuss it," said
George curtly. "He's an enemy of
"Why?" "I prefer not to discuss It."
"I prefer not to discuss It!"
"Very well." She began to hum the
air of the song which Mr. George Am
berson wns now discoursing, "O moon
of my delight that knows no wane"
and there was no further conversation
on the back seat.
The contrivance stopped with
heart-shaking Jerk before Isabel's
house. The gentlemen jumped down,
helping Isabel and Fanny to descend
there were friendly leavctakingsand
one that was not precisely friendly.
"It's au revolr' till tonight, isn't It!"
Lucy asked, laughing.
"Good afternoon!" said George, and
he did not wait, as his relatives did, to
see the old sewing machine start brisk
ly down the street, toward the Shar
ons' Its lighter load consisting now
of only Mr. Morgan and his daughter.
George went into the house at once.
He found his father reading the
evening paper In the library. "Where
are your mother and your Aunt Fan-
ny?" Mr. Minafer Inquired, not look
'They're coming," said his son and,
casting himself heavily into a chair,
stared at the fire.
His prediction was verified a few
moments later the two ladles cams
la cheerfully, unfastening their far
cloaks. "It's all right, Georgie," said
Isabel. "Your Uncle George called to
us that Pendennis got home safely.
Put your shoes close to the fire, dear,
or else go and change them."
"Look here," said George abruptly.
"How about this man Morgan and his
old sewing machine? Doesn't he want
to get grandfather to put money into
It? Isn't he trying to work Uncle
George for that? Isn't that what he's
It was Miss Fanny who responded.
"You little silly!" she cried, with sur
prising sharpness. "What on earth
are you talking about? Eugene Mor
gan's perfectly able to finance his own
Inventions these days."
"He strikes me as that sort of
man," George answered doggedly.
"Isn't he, father?"
Minafer set down his paper for the
moment. "He was a fairly wild young
fellow twenty years ago," he said,
glancing at his wife absently. "He
was like you In one thing, Georgie: he
spent too much moneyonly he didn^t
have any mother to get money out of
a grandfather for him, so he was usu
ally In debt. But I believe I've heard
he's done fairly well of late years.
No, I can't say I think he's a swin
dler, and I doubt If be needs anybody
else's money to back bis horseless car
"Well, what's he brought the old
thing here for, then! People that own
elephants don't take their elephants
around with 'em when they go visit
ing. What's he got It here for?"
*Tm sore I don't know," said Mr.
Minafer, resuming his paper. "Yon
might ask him."
Isabel laughed and patted her hus
band's shoulder again. "Aren't yoa
going to dress? Aren't we all going
to the dance?"
It proves to be a happy
cotillion for George and
xml | txt