On The Gull’s Road by Willa Cather, 1908
The magic trick:
Accentuating the romantic at every turn
Love is in the air here at the magic trick website. The past two Februaries we have featured love stories during Valentine’s Week. This year we’re going one better, devoting the entire month of February to short stories about love.
“Gull’s Road” is a fitting start because it is heavy on the romance. The narrator introduces Mrs. Ebbling as a kind of mythic figure of beauty and his story follows the same tone. This is not a story attempting to depict the gritty realism of oceanic travel. It absolutely is trying to capture a mood of high romance. Emotional extremes and noble, broken hearts on a cinematic scope. One need only look at the dialogue between the narrator and Mrs. Ebbling on the boat. They talk with extraordinary wit and melodrama. No one talks like that. Everything in the story is heightened; ratcheted up to maximum romantic value. And that’s quite a trick on Cather’s part.
“We have a yellow vine at home,” I told her, “that is very like your hair. It seems to be growing while one looks at it, and it twines and tangles about itself and throws out little tendrils in the wind.”
“Has it any name?”
“We call it love vine.”
How little a thing could disconcert her!
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