Part 3 George Sterling--As I Knew Him, by Charmian London
When air breathes of death so lately mourned, it is good to turn to life and inhale red-blood memories, I write of vivid days and nights when George and Carrie, his wife, together made their home in Piedmont. there are, still about, only a few of us who were familiar in that colorful household which Carrie kept so sweet for her man. But he was not her man; he was no one's man--not even his own man. He was forever searching into himself to be sure, but also "lonely for some one I shall never know." Most of those who in press and periodical have timely and admiringly recalled acquaintance with George Sterling, know of a later period than that which springs out of my heart to my pen. To them, his wife is a mere incident, a person of hearsay--a pale wraith of whom they have been reminded when scanning the career of the man; a woman, who, sadly enough, took her own life "after long grief and pain."
To friends of longer standing the two cannot be dissociated. I think it was shortly after their marriage that they went to Hawaii. It was a disappointing experience. George was from some cause thoroughly discontented. When told where they had made headquarters, I naturally asked their impressions of the neighborhood which I well know--of this and that thrilling gorge or strand or crater, things of tremendous beauty and easily accessible. "We never went there, " answered Carrie. The reason given was that George was not interested. More than once I have heard him insist that travel books were sufficient. One needed no travel experience.
My earliest meetings with the tall and handsome pair, George and his wife, were in their Piedmont circle. Jack, already a friend of my family, was about twenty-seven, George older. They were in and out of each other's houses on the hill, and sometimes came to mine in Berkeley. The voiceless relationship of the two boys, still in its infancy, went on to the end of life--basically an unquestioning friendship. Neither was too prosperous at the time. Voiceless their friendship? Take the following, related to me years afterward by Jack. It is a small matter in actuality, but marked the beginning fo an eloquent spiritual comprehension they did not pause to analyze at the moment. Never a word was uttered on a night when the Poet, walking part-way home with the young story-teller to his bungalow on the eucalyptus steep, slipped something into the other's pocket. Never a word was uttered when, upon a like occasion some months thence, an equivalent something was slipped back into the Poet's. Jack, "being so made," was the first to analyze. George seldom analyzed anything, apparently, except when challenged. No matter what the subject or whether he had ever before considered it, with corrugated brows between narrowed, introverted eyes, he pondered briefly. He would then, under modest demeanor, come out with rounded and satisfying exposition. "Now that is genius!" Jack marveled with shining eyes. "I have it not; I must pod!" And so, the "plodder," evidently deep in melancholy at the time, addressed George in this wise:
"...This I know, that in these later days you have frequently given me cause for honest envy. And you have made me speculate a great deal. You know that I do not know you--no more than you know me. We have really never touched the intimately personal note in all the time of our friendship. I suppose we never shall.
"And so I speculate and speculate, trying to make you out, trying to lay hands on the inner side of you--what you are to yourself in short. Sometimes, I conclude that you have a cunning and deep philosophy of life, for yourself alone, worked out on a basis of disappointment and disillusion. Sometimes I say, I am firmly convinced fo this, and then it all goes glimmering, and I think that you don't want to think, or that you have thought no more than partly, if at all, and are living your lie out blindly and naturally.
"So I do not know you, George, and for that matter I do not know how I came to write this."