DOYLE PRESS, 1940. by Shirley Wallace
"A woman's mind is a deeply deli-
cate, infinitely resourceful mechan-
ism superior to the blustering sur-
face strength of the masculine
brain. Where nuances and sub-
tleties abound in her reception and
reaction only primitive, basle im-
pulses affect and motivate the male
.though she is more liable to err,
thus, in solving the intricate pat-
terns ... while the masculine con-
ception, hrusk and nonperceptive,
rivets faet, fixes the situation,
evoves the truth..."
Lawrence, Sylvia, "Victory",
Doyle Press, 1940
S LVIA LAWRENCE, and her super-
ior mind, left the editorial offices of
the Doyle Press with a set, com-
placent smile. In her smart tooled
leather bag the second royalties check
She strode down the corridor in her
important manner, walking from the
hip, but managing with nice precision
to sway loosely from the waist. It was
her'career stride. It could be modified
into a Broadway-opening-night walk
simply by relaxing more at the knee
and slowing the pace. Lawrence had .
coatquered also the technique of the sug-
gestive stroll through cigarette smoke at
the literary cocktail orgies, the heroic
expression of dignity before women's
clubs, the voice modulation for tele-
phone calls from the press, the many
shaded expressions for her eyes. These
things were of a woman's technique.
At the moment, descending in the
elevator, she stared with reptilian con-
stancy at the floor indicator. She was
conscious of the fat man in the corner
whose lips twitched as he followed her
slim line upward, and of the dowdy ma-
tros4 who stared frankly at her expen-
sive tailored clothes. These people ex-
pected to be ignored. She felt it.
In her first book, which had stirred
reviewers mildly because of the feminine
surety of its twentyathree year old
author, she had openly declared her con-
fident knowledge of the processes of the
mind and her sensitivity to the reactions
"It would have been honest to
smile, to allow him to trespass in
happy, simple masculine conceit
upon the delicate structure of her
trust, but she was wise. If he were
telling the truth she could lose
nothing by displaying her cynicism.
If he were not, her pale face, set
in its composed mask of disbelief
tinged with scorn and with eyes
threatening imminent ridicule, was
a protection against hurt ...'
Lawrence, Sylvia, "The Wind",
Doyle Press, 1938
THE TAXI pulled up smoothly before
the canopied entrance, and Lawrence
got out slowly, paid the driver, walked
languidly through the entrance of the
expensive metropolitan restaurant as
thpugh she were one of the many time-
rich society women she wrote about.
This was life exactly as she wanted
It and had planned it in her comfortable,
uninteresting child-youth. This Irish
linan cloth, the handerchief linen nap-
kins, the heavy genuine plate, these
were integral items in the graceful in-
tellectual world she was creating for
herself. Lawrence counted the fine froth
as a fundamental want.
The cigarette she had lit immediate-
ly,.upon being seated, typified the exis-
tene she had created with piercing
logic. She had been disgusted by smoke
atone time. But the gestures incumbent
,pon use of the slim mould of tobacco
vere sophisticated, bulwarks for the
few remaining instances of her loss of
And a successful woman always had a
THE STREET Wras always long; as there are always long streets;
With ordinary, trees that neither gave a graceful shade
Or denied it.
And ordinary houses facing silently across the long street,
of board or brick.or stucco,
With nothing strange or unusual about them,
except that they were not too ugly.
The windows of each house were hung with limp lace curtains
And no one was to be imagined moving discreetly
or indiscreetly behind them.
Walking past one house was walking past all.houses
And moving down one street was moving down all streets.
The houses and the streets were always there.
The first summer the grass grew green beside the walks,
the trees cast certain shadows on the walks.
And thesecond summer it was all the same.
There was no, difference.
Sleeping from summer to summer
and walking on a certain street,
Time would not have past for you.
There would bethe same grass and the unchanging shadows
and the air and sun.
Snow sparsely upon the earth melts in the same moist patches
and drifts cut by the snow, plow are always curb-high
And newly white.
There is no difference; even, in the way
that men push shovels down their walks;
And shovels make the same sharp rasp each year.
And on the streets the clink of milkmen's bottle,
The honking of an auto in a driveway,
The fuzzy sound of mower in tall grass.
And people open doors and shut them.
Lawrence had learned that during the
deep night of'misery following her dis-
charge from an unimportant little eas-
tern newspaper. She had never been
naive, but at least then she had been
sincere, working desperately, grinning
eagerly. A woman "in a man's world",
as the parrots said, and yet she did as
well as the men. Just as competent,
more ingenious, equally dependent. And
they had fired her with the inexcusable
"laying off" routine, and a muttered re-
mark. "This game needs trickery, ag-
gression, Lawrence, and . well, other
They might as well have said "Go
have babies" and "A woman's place . ."
But Lawrence had groveled inwardly
that night, and then had written; and
while she wrote those first months the
metal of her shell had hardened to its
present steel veneer. All the little real
emotions, too, withdrew to her mind,
and there she had st up a clearing
house, a tabulator of impulses and reck-
oner of reactions. No one could again
point out the correct play or posture.
She knew them all, realizing she knew.
There was but one hollow in her ex-
"Even the clever, the most am-
bitious do not deny its right to con-
trol them. It is, of course, to a wo-
man the most important, the cul-
mination, no matter how complete
-or bright her sphere. Rarely does
it come, however, mercuric ecstacy
that it is. Rather does the woman
espy its gleam and then with age-
old wisdom catch and hold it fast.
There is but one chance. It is every-
thing, before everything. It is Love."
"Victory", Doyle Press, 1940
H ER WRITING being the only truth
allowed to escape to the audience
world, Lawsence's personal philosophy
and code of action were incorporated in
her two novels. Her women characters
were tricky, analytical. What they would
do, Sylvia Lawrence would do.
Except that on the subject of men she
was changeable. She had never been
actually in love, and would admit her
soft inner craving only through the im-
personal revelation of Doyle Press type.
So that sometimes her usual share of
intuition grasped the truth, and some-
times the processes she imagined were
false. And sometimes, like her charac-
ters. she followed one code, and then
Sylvia Lawrence was conscious sud-
denly of the entrance of a tall, power-
fully built man. He was not handsome,
but his features were regular, his fore-
.head high where dark hair had receded
Heaving visible the faint blue line of an
extended vein. She noticed it again as
he passed before her table, the head
waiter in the lead.
She had noticed it' first at the pub-
lishers' dinner. "Brian Jennings, - that
is," someone had said, "He's a sort of
glorified reader, you know. Nothing is
ever published at Doyle's without his
final judgment. Want to know him,
She had shrugged her shoulders
slightly, not too much, and so they had
met and talked. She felt exhilarated af-
ter a while, for he was different. His
eyes were not eternally smiling, or blank
with the promise of defense mechan-
isms; they were curious, and measuring
like her own. And that vein in his fore-
head. It was altogether out of place in
that company of white ties and civilized
decolletage. Lawrence had felt a swift
running sensation deep in her body,
carefully removed her eyes from the
Now Lawrence watched him, taking
his seat at a table directly across from
hers, with confused thoughts. She
could never meet him again without
thinking about the last night that she
had seen him. The night he had lost
control, and she had not.
RIAN JENNINGS lit his cigarette
twice, restlessly, and tried to keep
his eyes frop Sylvia Lawrence's table.
He knew she had seen him. He wonder-
ed if she knew he knew. He didn't want
to lunch with her, and she might expect
it . . . although he never really knew
what she expected. That night in the
Lawrence was intuitively positive for
a moment that he was conscihA if her.
She kept her oblivious pose, however,
for apparently he did not want to greet
her. It was an irritating sensation. They
had come a long way since the short
time before when he had staggered
from the effects of cubs libres made at
his office bar. That night he had real-
ized her intelligence, her masculine abil-
ity, and seemed to want to beat it down
and assert his own strength. Her insis-
tence upon writing because of sudden
inspiration must have angered him.
Though in the short month they had
seen each other he had never touched
JENNINGS surrendered his menu and
leaned back. The rancor fluid was
flowing again in his veins. That night,
abetted in dropping his social mask by
the rum, he had firstrealized her acute
femininity. It had been a simple pro-
vocation .. . merely the way her wave
fell over her forehead as she leaned over
the typewriter pecking away at some-
thing she asserted was creative litera-
ture. He knew it was hardly that. He
hadn't even considered tier intelligent
that night . . . only the way her blouse
slipped out of her skirt, and the way she
tapped one high-heeled foot in excite-
ment. lie had felt the old rush inside,
finally, and had grabbed her . . . her
Lawrence recalled that she had push-
ed him away quickly. In the midst of the
thrill of her work his action had been
an interruption. There had been no
preliminary . . . no preparation. His
breath, too, had been sour with liquor.
Although when she reviewed the scene
later she was sorry that she had not re-
sponded. If it hadn't been for the ex-
citement of her work . . the matter
of business . . .
Jennings clenched his teeth at the
memory of her rebuffe He was a big
man; but in her apparent disgust she
had easily pushed him away. Perhaps
he had grown weak with hurt; A strange
sensation, that, for him . . . but women
rarely got the chance to refuse or accept
him. She had been deadly in her choice
of response. Her eyes had told him
plainly . . . "You don't interest me.
I don't like to have you touch me." It
was a fundamental, emotionalthing, as
he saw it. . . . and from her, from the
depths he always saw in her eyes he
had expected something vital and rush-
ing . . . perhaps complete surrender .. .
LAWRENCE STARED intently at her
salad, and carefully forked a bit
of pimento. She was wondering what
he must have been thinking when he
rushed from the office. He had given
her one long look, and then when she
said nothing, merely looking at him and
patting her hair back into place, he had
rushed off . seemingly dazed. She
wondered if he had noticed the little
frightened look in her eyes, and the
question. She had been waiting for him
to talk . . . to say something . . her
eyes had told him openly, "You can't
just do this . . . But say something
about love. Tell me I'm dear to you.
This is a stalemate . . . you must say
something." But he hadn't.
Jennings stole a glance in her direc-
tion. Her head was bent; she was busy
with her salad. A fascinating woman.
But women of her sort, with that proud
tilt of chin, could not be told little
trivial things that were the niceties to
less sensitive women. She would be
skeptical of sincerity. At first he had
asked her to the theatre, and to dinners
for two, in quiet restaurants, because
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