Part 2 out of 5
packet crossing the channel, too, he almost returned to the
usual Rufus Coleman since all the world was seasick and he
could not get a cabin in which to hide himself from it. However
he reaped much consolation by ordering a bottle of
champagne and drinking it in sight of the people, which made
them still more seasick. From Calais to Brindisi really nothing
met his disapproval save the speed of the train, the conduct of
some of the passengers, the quality of the food served, the
manners of the guards, the temperature of the carriages, the
prices charged and the length of the journey.
In time he passed as in a vision from wretched Brindisi to
charming Corfu, from Corfu to the little
war-bitten city of Patras and from Patras by rail at the speed of
an ox-cart to Athens.
With a smile of grim content and surrounded in his carriage
with all his beautiful brown luggage, he swept through the
dusty streets of the Greek capital. Even as the vehicle arrived in
a great terraced square in front of the yellow palace, Greek
recruits in garments representing many trades and many
characters were marching up cheering for Greece and the king.
Officers stood upon the little iron chairs in front of the cafes; all
the urchins came running and shouting; ladies waved their
handkerchiefs from the balconies; the whole city was vivified
with a leaping and joyous enthusiasm. The Athenians--as
dragomen or otherwise-had preserved an ardor for their
glorious traditions, and it was as if that in the white dust which
lifted from the plaza and floated across the old-ivory face of the
palace, there were the souls of the capable soldiers of the past.
Coleman was almost intoxicated with it. It seemed to celebrate
his own reasons, his reasons of love and ambition to conquer
When the carriage arrived in front of the Hotel D'Angleterre,
Coleman found the servants of the place with more than one
eye upon the scene in the plaza, but they soon paid heed to the
arrival of a gentleman with such an amount of beautiful leather
luggage, all marked boldly with the initials "R. C." Coleman let
them lead him and follow him and conduct him and
use bad English upon him without noting either
their words, their salaams or their work. His mind had quickly
fixed upon the fact that here was the probable headquarters of
the Wainwright party and, with the rush of his western race
fleeting through his veins, he felt that he would choke and die
if he did not learn of the Wainwrights in the first two minutes. It
was a tragic venture to attempt to make the Levantine mind
understand something off the course, that the new arrival's first
thought was to establish a knowlege of the whereabouts of
some of his friends rather than to swarm helter-skelter into that
part of the hotel for which he was willing to pay rent. In fact he
failed to thus impress them; failed in dark wrath, but,
nevertheless, failed. At last he was simply forced to concede
the travel of files of men up the broad, redcarpeted stair-case,
each man being loaded with Coleman's luggage. The men in the
hotel-bureau were then able to comprehend that the foreign
gentleman might have something else on his mind. They raised
their eye-brows languidly when he spoke of the Wainwright
party in gentle surprise that he had not yet learned that they
were gone some time. They were departed on some excursion.
Where? Oh, really-it was almost laughable, indeed-they didn't
know. Were they sure? Why, yes-it was almost laughable,
indeed -they were quite sure. Where could the gentleman find
out about them ? Well, they-as they had explained-did
not know, but-it was possible-the American
minister might know. Where was he to be found? Oh, that was
very simple. It was well known that the American minister had
apartments in the hotel. Was he in? Ah, that they could not
So Coleman, rejoicing at his final emancipation and with the
grime of travel still upon him, burst in somewhat violently upon
the secretary of the Hon. Thomas M. Gordner of Nebraska, the
United States minister to Greece. From his desk the secretary
arose from behind an accidental bulwark of books and
govermental pamphets. " Yes, certainly. Mr. Gordner is in. If
you would give me your card-"
Directly. Coleman was introduced into another room where a
quiet man who was rolling a cigarette looked him frankly but
carefully in the eye. "The Wainwrights " said the minister
immediately after the question. "Why, I myself am immensely
concerned about them at present. I'm afraid they've gotten
themselves into trouble.'
" Really? " said Coleman.
" Yes. That little professor is ratherer--stubborn; Isn't he ?
He wanted to make an expedition to Nikopolis and I explained
to him all the possibilities of war and begged him to at least not
take his wife and daughter with him."
" Daughter," murmured Coleman, as if in his sleep.
"But that little old man had a head like a stone
and only laughed at me. Of course those villainous young
students were only too delighted at a prospect of war, but it
was a stupid and absurd. thing for the man to take his wife and
daughter there. They are up there now. I can't get a word from
them or get a word to them."
Coleman had been choking. "Where is Nikopolis? " he asked.
The minister gazed suddenly in comprehension of the man
before him. " Nikopolis is in Turkey," he answered gently.
Turkey at that time was believed to be a country of delay,
corruption, turbulence and massacre. It meant everything. More
than a half of the Christians of the world shuddered at the name
of Turkey. Coleman's lips tightened and perhaps blanched, and
his chin moved out strangely, once, twice, thrice. " How can I
get to Nikopolis? " he said.
The minister smiled. " It would take you the better part of
four days if you could get there, but as a matter of fact you
can't get there at the present time. A Greek army and a Turkish
army are looking at each other from the sides of the river at
Arta-the river is there the frontier-and Nikopolis happens to be
on the wrong side. You can't reach them. The forces at Arta will
fight within three days. I know it. Of course I've notified our
legation at Constantinople, but, with Turkish methods of
communication, Nikopolis is about as far from
Constantinople as New York is from Pekin."
Coleman arose. "They've run themselves into a nice mess,"
he said crossly. " Well, I'm a thousand times obliged to you, I'm
The minister opened his eyes a trifle. You are not going to
try to reach them, are you ? "
" Yes," answered Coleman, abstractedly. " I'm going to have a
try at it. Friends of mine, you know-"
At the bureau of the hotel, the correspondent found several
cables awaiting him from the alert office of the New York Eclipse.
One of them read: "State Department gives out bad plight of
Wainwright party lost somewhere; find them. Eclipse." When
Coleman perused the message he began to smile with seraphic
bliss. Could fate have ever been less perverse.
Whereupon he whirled himself in Athens. And it was to the
considerable astonishment of some Athenians. He discovered
and instantly subsidised a young Englishman who, during his
absence at the front, would act as correspondent for the
Eclipse at the capital. He took unto himself a dragoman and
then bought three horses and hired a groom at a speed that
caused a little crowd at the horse dealer's place to come out
upon the pavement and watch this surprising young man ride
back toward his hotel. He had already driven his dragoman into
a curious state of Oriental bewilderment and panic in which he
could only lumber hastily and helplessly here and there, with
his face in the meantime marked with agony. Coleman's own field
equipment had been ordered by cable from New York to London, but
it was necessary to buy much tinned meats, chocolate, coffee,
candles, patent food, brandy, tobaccos, medicine and other
He went to bed that night feeling more placid. The train back
to Patras was to start in the early morning, and he felt the
satisfaction of a man who is at last about to start on his own
great quest. Before he dropped off to slumber, he heard crowds
cheering exultantly in the streets, and the cheering moved him
as it had done in the morning. He felt that the celebration of the
people was really an accompaniment to his primal reason, a
reason of love and ambition to conquer in love-even as in the
theatre, the music accompanies the heroin his progress. He
arose once during the night to study a map of the Balkan
peninsula and get nailed into his mind the exact position of
Nikopolis. It was important.
COLEMAN'S dragoman aroused him in the blue before dawn.
The correspondent arrayed himself in one of his new khaki suits-
riding breeches and a tunic well marked with buttoned pockets-
and accompanied by some of his beautiful brown luggage, they
departed for the station.
The ride to Patras is a terror under ordinary circumstances. It
begins in the early morning and ends in the twilight. To
Coleman, having just come from Patras to Athens, this journey
from Athens to Patras had all the exasperating elements of a
forced recantation. Moreover, he had not come prepared to
view with awe the ancient city of Corinth nor to view with
admiration the limpid beauties of the gulf of that name with its
olive grove shore. He was not stirred by Parnassus, a far-away
snow-field high on the black shoulders of the mountains across
the gulf. No; he wished to go to Nikopolis. He passed over the
graves of an ancient race the gleam of whose mighty minds
shot, hardly dimmed, through the clouding ages. No; he wished
to go to Nikopolis. The train went at a snail's pace, and if
Coleman bad an interest it was in the people who lined the route
and cheered the soldiers on the train. In Coleman s compartment there was a
greasy person who spoke a little English. He explained that he
was a poet, a poet who now wrote of nothing but war. When a
man is in pursuit of his love and success is known to be at least
remote, it often relieves his strain if he is deeply bored from time
The train was really obliged to arrive finally at Patras even if it
was a tortoise, and when this happened, a hotel runner
appeared, who lied for the benefit of the hotel in saying that
there was no boat over to Mesalonghi that night. When, all too
late, Coleman discovered the truth of the matter his wretched
dragoman came in for a period of infamy and suffering.
However, while strolling in the plaza at Patras, amid newsboys
from every side, by rumour and truth, Coleman learned things to
his advantage. A Greek fleet was bombarding Prevasa. Prevasa
was near Nikopolis. The opposing armies at Arta were
engaged, principally in an artillery duel. Arta was on the road from
Nikopolis into Greece. Hearing this news in the sunlit square
made him betray no weakness, but in the darkness of his room
at the hotel, he seemed to behold Marjory encircled by
insurmountable walls of flame. He could look out of his window
into the black night of the north and feel every ounce of a
hideous circumstance. It appalled him; here was no power of
calling up a score of reporters and sending them scampering to
accomplish everything. He even might as well have been without
a tongue as far as it could serve him in goodly speech. He was
alone, confronting the black ominous Turkish north behind which
were the deadly flames; behind the flames was Marjory. It worked
upon him until he felt obliged to call in his dragoman, and then,
seated upon the edge of his bed and waving his pipe eloquently, he
described the plight of some very dear friends who were cut off at
Nikopolis in Epirus. Some of his talk was almost wistful in its wish
for sympathy from his servant, but at the end he bade the dragoman
understand that be, Coleman, was going to their rescue, and he
defiantly asked the hireling if he was prepared to go with him.
But he did not know the Greek nature. In two minutes the
dragoman was weeping tears of enthusiasm, and, for these tears,
Coleman was over-grateful, because he had not been told that
any of the more crude forms of sentiment arouse the common
Greek to the highest pitch, but sometimes, when it comes to
what the Americans call a "show down," when he gets backed
toward his last corner with a solitary privilege of dying for these
sentiments, perhaps he does not always exhibit those talents
which are supposed to be possessed by the bulldog. He often
then, goes into the cafes and take's it out in oration, like
any common Parisian.
In the morning A steamer carried them across the
strait and landed them near Mesalonghi at the foot of the
railroad that leads to Agrinion. At Agrinion Coleman at last
began to feel that he was nearing his goal. There were plenty of
soldiers in the town, who received with delight and applause
this gentleman in the distinguished-looking khaki clothes with
his revolver and his field glasses and his canteen and; his
dragoman. The dragoman lied, of course, and vocifcrated that
the gentleman in the distinguished-looking khaki clothes was
an English soldier of reputation, who had, naturally, come to
help the cross in its fight against, the crescent. He also said
that his master had three superb horses coming from Athens in
charge of a groom, and was undoubtedly going to join the
cavalry. Whereupon the soldiers wished to embrace and kiss
the gentleman in the distinguished-looking khaki clothes.
There was more or less of a scuffle. Coleman would have
taken to kicking and punching, but he found that by a- series of
elusive movements he could dodge the demonstrations of
affection without losing his popularity. Escorted by the
soldiers, citizens, children and dogs, he went to the diligence
which was to take him and others the next stage of the journey.
As the diligence proceeded, Coleman's mind suffered another
little inroad of ill-fate as to the success of his expedition. In the
first place it appeared foolish to expect that this diligence
would ever arrive anywhere. Moreover, the
accommodations were about equal to what one would endure if
one undertook to sleep for a night in a tree. Then there was a
devil-dog, a little black-and-tan terrier in a blanket gorgeous and
belled, whose duty it was to stand on the top of the coach and
bark incessantly to keep the driver fully aroused to the enormity
of his occupation. To have this cur silenced either by
strangulation or ordinary clubbing, Coleman struggled with his
dragoman as Jacob struggled with the angel, but in the first
place, the dragoman was a Greek whose tongue could go quite
drunk, a Greek who became a slave to the heralding and
establishment of one certain fact, or lie, and now he was
engaged in describing to every village and to all the country
side the prowess of the gentleman in the distinguished-looking
khaki clothes. It was the general absurdity of this advance to
the frontier and the fighting, to the crucial place where he was
resolved to make an attempt to rescue his sweetheart ; it was
this ridiculous aspect that caused to come to Coleman a
premonition of failure. No knight ever went out to recover a lost
love in such a diligence and with such a devil-dog, tinkling his
little bells and yelping insanely to keep the driver awake.
After night-fall they arrived at a town on the southern coast
of the Gulf of Arta and the goaded dragoman was-thrust forth
from the little inn into the street to find the first possible means
of getting on to Arta. He returned at last to tremulously say that
there was no single chance of starting for Arta that night. Where
upon he was again thrust into the street with orders, strict orders.
In due time, Coleman spread his rugs upon the floor of his little room
and thought himself almost asleep,. when the dragoman entered
with a really intelligent man who, for some reason, had agreed
to consort with him in the business of getting the stranger off
to Arta. They announced that there was a brigantine about to
sail with a load of soldiers for a little port near Arta, and if
Coleman hurried he could catch it, permission from an officer
having already been obtained. He was up at once, and the
dragoman and the unaccountably intelligent person hastily
gathered his chattels. Stepping out into a black street and
moving to the edge of black water and embarking in a black
boat filled with soldiers whose rifles dimly shone, was as
impressive to Coleman as if, really, it had been the first start. He
had endured many starts, it was true, but the latest one always
touched him as being conclusive.
There were no lights on the brigantine and the men swung
precariously up her sides to the deck which was already
occupied by a babbling multitude. The dragoman judiciously
found a place for his master where during the night the latter
had to move quickly everytime the tiller was shifted to
The craft raised her shadowy sails and swung slowly off into
the deep gloom. Forward, some of the soldiers began to sing
weird minor melodies. Coleman, enveloped in his rugs, -smoked
three or four cigars. He was content and miserable, lying there,
hearing these melodies which defined to him his own affairs.
At dawn they were at the little port. First, in the carmine and
grey tints from a sleepy sun, they could see little mobs of
soldiers working amid boxes of stores. And then from the back
in some dun and green hills sounded a deep-throated thunder
of artillery An officer gave Coleman and his dragoman
positions in one of the first boats, but of course it could not be
done without an almost endless amount of palaver. Eventually
they landed with their traps. Coleman felt through the sole of
his boot his foot upon the shore. He was within striking
But here it was smitten into the head of Coleman's servant to
turn into the most inefficient dragoman, probably in the entire
East. Coleman discerned it immediately, before any blunder
could tell him. He at first thought that it was the voices of the
guns which had made a chilly inside for the man, but when he
reflected upon the incompetency, or childish courier's falsity, at
Patras and his discernible lack of sense from Agrinion onward,
he felt that the fault was elemental in his nature. It was a mere
basic inability to front novel situations which was somehow in the
dragoman; he retreated from everything difficult in a smoke of
gibberish and gesticulation. Coleman glared at him with the hatred that
sometimes ensues when breed meets breed, but he saw that
this man was indeed a golden link in his possible success. This
man connected him with Greece and its language. If he
destroyed him he delayed what was now his main desire in life.
However, this truth did not prevent him from addressing the
man in elegant speech.
The two little men who were induced to carry Coleman's
luggage as far as the Greek camp were really procured by the
correspondent himself, who pantomined vigourously and with
unmistakable vividness. Followed by his dragoman and the two
little men, he strode off along a road which led straight as a
stick to where the guns were at intervals booming. Meanwhile
the dragoman and the two little men talked, talked, talked.-
Coleman was silent, puffing his cigar and reflecting upon the
odd things which happen to chivalry in the modern age.
He knew of many men who would have been astonished if
they could have seen into his mind at that time, and he knew of
many more men who would have laughed if they had the same
privilege of sight. He made no attempt to conceal from himself
that the whole thing was romantic, romantic despite the little
tinkling dog, the decrepit diligence, the palavering
natives, the super-idiotic dragoman. It was fine, It was from
another age and even the actors could not deface the purity of
the picture. However it was true that upon the brigantine the
previous night he had unaccountably wetted all his available
matches. This was momentous, important, cruel truth, but
Coleman, after all, was taking-as well as he could forgeta solemn
and knightly joy of this adventure and there were as many
portraits of his lady envisioning. before him as ever held the
heart of an armour-encased young gentleman of medieval
poetry. If he had been travelling in this region as an ordinary
tourist, he would have been apparent mainly for his lofty
impatience over trifles, but now there was in him a positive
assertion of direction which was undoubtedly one of the
reasons for the despair of the accomplished dragoman.
Before them the country slowly opened and opened, the
straight white road always piercing it like a lanceshaft. Soon
they could see black masses of men marking the green knolls.
The artillery thundered loudly and now vibrated augustly
through the air. Coleman quickened his pace, to the despair of
the little men carrying the traps. They finally came up with one
of these black bodies of men and found it to be composed of a
considerable number of soldiers who were idly watching some
hospital people bury a dead Turk. The dragoman at once dashed
forward to peer through the throng and see the face of the corpse.
Then he came and supplicated Coleman as if he were hawking him to
look at a relic and Coleman moved by a strong, mysterious
impulse, went forward to look at the poor little clay-coloured
body. At that moment a snake ran out from a tuft of grass at his
feet and wriggled wildly over the sod. The dragoman shrieked,
of course, but one of the soldiers put his heel upon the head of
the reptile and it flung itself into the agonising knot of death.
Then the whole crowd powwowed, turning from the dead man
to the dead snake. Coleman signaled his contingent and
proceeded along the road.
This incident, this paragraph, had seemed a strange
introduction to war. The snake, the dead man, the entire sketch,
made him shudder of itself, but more than anything he felt an
uncanny symbolism. It was no doubt a mere occurrence;
nothing but an occurrence; but inasmuch as all the detail of this
daily life associated itself with Marjory, he felt a different
horror. He had thought of the little devil-dog and Marjory in an
interwoven way. Supposing Marjory had been riding in the
diligence with the devil-dog-a-top ? What would she have said ?
Of her fund of expressions, a fund uncountable, which would
she have innocently projected against the background of the
Greek hills? Would it have smitten her nerves badly or would
she have laughed ? And supposing Marjory
could have seen him in his new khaki clothes cursing his
dragoman as he listened to the devil-dog?
And now he interwove his memory of Marjory with a dead
man and with a snake in the throes of the end of life. They
crossed, intersected, tangled, these two thoughts. He perceived
it clearly; the incongruity of it. He academically reflected upon
the mysteries of the human mind, this homeless machine which
lives here and then there and often lives in two or three
opposing places at the same instant. He decided that the
incident of the snake and the dead man had no more meaning
than the greater number of the things which happen to us in our
daily lives. Nevertheless it bore upon him.
On a spread of plain they saw a force drawn up in a long line.
It was a flagrant inky streak on the verdant prairie. From
somewhere near it sounded the timed reverberations of guns.
The brisk walk of the next ten minutes was actually exciting to
Coleman. He could not but reflect that those guns were being
fired with serious purpose at certain human bodies much like
As they drew nearer they saw that the inky streak was
composed of cavalry, the troopers standing at their bridles. The
sunlight flicked, upon their bright weapons. Now the dragoman
developed in one of his extraordinary directions. He announced
forsooth that an intimate friend was a captain of cavalry in this
command. Coleman at first thought. that this was some kind of
mysterious lie, but when he arrived where they could hear the
stamping of hoofs, the clank of weapons, and the murmur of
men, behold, a most dashing young officer gave a shout of joy
and he and the dragoman hurled themselves into a mad
embrace. After this first ecstacy was over, the dragoman
bethought him of his employer, and looking toward Coleman
hastily explained him to the officer. The latter, it appeared, was
very affable indeed. Much had happened. The Greeks and the
Turks had been fighting over a shallow part of the river nearly
opposite this point and the Greeks had driven back the Turks
and succeeded in throwing a bridge of casks and planking
across the stream. It was now the duty and the delight of this
force of cavalry to cross the bridge and, passing, the little force
of covering Greek infantry, to proceed into Turkey until they
came in touch with the enemy.
Coleman's eyes dilated. Was ever fate less perverse ? Partly
in wretched French to the officer and partly in idiomatic English
to the dragoman, he proclaimed his fiery desire to accompany
the expedition. The officer immediately beamed upon him. In
fact, he was delighted. The dragoman had naturally told him
many falsehoods concerning Coleman, incidentally referring to
himself more as a philanthropic guardian and, valuable friend of
the correspondent than as, a plain, unvarnished. dragoman
with an exceedingly good eye for the financial possibilities of
Coleman wanted to ask his servant if there was any chance of
the scout taking them near Nikopolis, but he delayed being
informed upon this point until such time as he could find out,
secretly, for himself. To ask the dragoman would be mere stupid
questioning which would surely make the animal shy. He tried
to be content that fate had given him this early opportunity of
dealing with a Medieval situation with some show of proper
form ; that is to say, armed, a-horse- back, and in danger. Then
he could feel that to the gods of the game he was not laughable,
as when he rode to rescue his love in a diligence with a devil-
dog yelping a-top.
With some flourish, the young captain presented him to the
major who commanded the cavalry. This officer stood with his
legs wide apart, eating the rind of a fresh lemon and talking
betimes to some of his officers. The major also beamed upon
Coleman when the captain explained that the gentleman in the
distinguished-looking khaki clothes wished to accompany the
expedition. He at once said that he would provide two troop
horses for Coleman and the dragoman. Coleman thanked fate
for his behaviour and his satisfaction was not without a vestige
of surprise. At that time he judged it to be a remarkable
amiability of individuals, but in later years he came to believe in
certain laws which he deemed existent solely for the benefit of
war correspondents. In the minds of governments, war offices
and generals they have no function save one of disturbance, but
Coleman deemed it proven that the common men, and many
uncommon men, when they go away to the fighting ground, out
of the sight, out of the hearing of the world known to them, and
are eager to perform feats of war in this new place, they feel an
absolute longing for a spectator. It is indeed the veritable
coronation of this world. There is not too much vanity of the
street in this desire of men to have some disinterested fellows
perceive their deeds. It is merely that a man doing his best in the
middle of a sea of war, longs to have people see him doing his
best. This feeling is often notably serious if, in peace, a man has
done his worst, or part of his worst. Coleman believed that,
above everybody, young, proud and brave subalterns had this
itch, but it existed, truly enough, from lieutenants to colonels.
None wanted to conceal from his left hand that his right hand
was performing a manly and valiant thing, although there might
be times when an application of the principle would be
immensely convenient. The war correspondent arises, then, to
become a sort of a cheap telescope for the people at home;
further still, there have been fights where the eyes of a solitary
man were the eyes of the world; one spectator, whose business
it was to transfer, according to his ability, his visual impressions
to other minds.
Coleman and his servant were conducted to two saddled
troop horses, and beside them, waited decently in the rear of
the ranks. The uniform of the troopers was of plain, dark green
cloth and they were well and sensibly equipped. The mounts,
however, had in no way been picked; there were little horses
and big horses, fat horses and thin horses. They looked the
result of a wild conscription. Coleman noted the faces of the
troopers, and they were calm enough save when a man
betrayed himself by perhaps a disproportionate angry jerk at
the bridle of his restive horse.
The major, artistically drooping his cloak from his left
shoulder and tenderly and musingly fingering his long yellow
moustache, rode slowly to the middle of the line and wheeled
his horse to face his men. A bugle called attention, and then he
addressed them in a loud and rapid speech, which did not seem
to have an end. Coleman imagined that the major was paying
tribute to the Greek tradition of the power of oratory. Again the
trumpet rang out, and this parade front swung off into column
formation. Then Coleman and the dragoman trotted at the tail of
the squadron, restraining with difficulty their horses, who could
not understand their new places in the procession, and worked
feverishly to regain what they considered their positions in life.
The column jangled musically over the sod, passing between
two hills on one of which a Greek light battery was posted. Its
men climbed to the tops of their interenchments to witness the
going of the cavalry. Then the column curved along over ditch
and through hedge to the shallows of the river. Across this
narrow stream was Turkey. Turkey, however, presented
nothing to the eye but a muddy bank with fringes of trees back
of it. It seemed to be a great plain with sparse collections of
foliage marking it, whereas the Greek side, presented in the
main a vista of high, gaunt rocks. Perhaps one of the first
effects of war upon the mind, is a. new recognition and fear of
the circumscribed ability of the eye, making all landscape seem
inscrutable. The cavalry drew up in platoon formation on their
own. bank of the stream and waited. If Coleman had known
anything of war, he would have known, from appearances, that
there was nothing in the immediate vicinity to, cause heart-
jumping, but as a matter of truth he was deeply moved and
wondered what was hidden, what was veiled by those trees.
Moreover, the squadrons resembled art old picture of a body of
horse awaiting Napoleon's order to charge. In the, meantime his
mount fumed at the bit, plunging to get back to the ranks. The
sky was, without a cloud, and the sun rays swept down upon
them. Sometimes Coleman was on the verge of addressing the
dragoman, according to his anxiety, but in the end
he simply told him to go to the river and fill the can- teens.
At last an order came, and the first troop moved with muffled
tumult across the bridge. Coleman and his dragoman followed
the last troop. The horses scrambled up the muddy bank much
as if they were merely breaking out of a pasture, but probably all
the men felt a sudden tightening of their muscles. Coleman, in
his excitement, felt, more than he saw, glossy horse flanks,
green-clothed men chumping in their saddles, banging sabres
and canteens, and carbines slanted in line.
There were some Greek infantry in a trench. They were
heavily overcoated, despite the heat, and some were engaged in
eating loaves of round, thick bread. They called out lustily as
the cavalry passed them. The troopers smiled slowly,
somewhat proudly in response.
Presently there was another halt and Coleman saw the major
trotting busily here and there, while troop commanders rode out
to meet him. Spreading groups of scouts and flankers moved off
and disappeared. Their dashing young officer friend cantered
past them with his troop at his heels. He waved a joyful good-
bye. It was the doings of cavalry in actual service, horsemen
fanning out in all forward directions. There were two troops
held in reserve, and as they jangled ahead at a foot pace,
Coleman and his dragoman followed them.
The dragoman was now moved to erect many reasons for an
immediate return. It was plain that he had no stomach at all for
this business, and that he wished himself safely back on the
other side of the river. Coleman looked at him askance. When
these men talked together Coleman might as well have been a
polar bear for all he understood of it. When he saw the
trepidation of his dragoman, he did not know what it foreboded.
In this situation it was not for him to say that the dragoman's
fears were founded on nothing. And ever the dragoman raised
his reasons for a retreat. Coleman spoke to himself. "I am just a
trifle rattled," he said to his heart, and after he had communed
for a time upon the duty of steadiness, he addressed the
dragoman in cool language. " Now, my persuasive friend, just
quit all that, because business is business, and it may be rather
annoying business, but you will have to go through with it."
Long afterward, when ruminating over the feelings of that
morning, he saw with some astonishment that there was not a
single thing within sound or sight to cause a rational being any
quaking. He was simply riding with some soldiers over a vast
Presently the commanding officer turned in his saddle and
told the dragoman that he was going to ride forward with his
orderly to where he could see the flanking parties and the
scouts, and courteously, with
the manner of a gentleman entertaining two guests, he asked if
the civilians cared to accompany him. The dragoman would not
have passed this question correctly on to Coleman if he had
thought he could have avoided it, but, with both men regarding
him, he considered that a lie probably meant instant detection.
He spoke almost the truth, contenting himself with merely
communicating to Coleman in a subtle way his sense that a ride
forward with the commanding officer and his orderly would be
depressing and dangerous occupation. But Coleman
immediately accepted the invitation mainly because it was the
invitation of the major, and in war it is a brave man who can
refuse the invitation of a commanding officer. The little party of
four trotted away from the reserves, curving in single file about
the water-holes. In time they arrived at where the plain lacked
trees and was one great green lake of grass; grass and scrubs.
On this expanse they could see the Greek horsemen riding, mainly
appearing as little black dots. Far to the left there was a squad
said to be composed of only twenty troopers, but in the
distance their black mass seemed to be a regiment.
As the officer and his guests advanced they came in view of
what one may call the shore of the plain. The rise of ground was
heavily clad with trees, and over the tops of them appeared the
cupola and part of the walls of a large white house, and there
were glimpses of huts near it as if a village was marked. The black
specks seemed to be almost to it. The major galloped forward
and the others followed at his pace. The house grew larger and
larger and they came nearly to the advance scouts who they
could now see were not quite close to the village. There had
been a deception of the eye precisely as occurs at sea. Herds of
unguarded sheep drifted over the plain and little ownerless
horses, still cruelly hobbled, leaped painfully away, frightened,
as if they understood that an anarchy had come upon them. The
party rode until they were very nearly up with the scouts, and
then from low down at the very edge of the plain there came a
long rattling noise which endured as if some kind of grinding
machine had been put in motion. Smoke arose, faintly marking
the position of an intrenchment. Sometimes a swift spitting
could be heard from the air over the party.
It was Coleman's fortune to think at first that the Turks were
not firing in his direction, but as soon as he heard the weird
voices in the air he knew that war was upon him. But it was
plain that the range was almost excessive, plain even to his
ignorance. The major looked at him and laughed; he found no
difficulty in smiling in response. If this was war, it could be
withstood somehow. He could not at this time understand what
a mere trifle was the present incident. He felt upon his cheek a
little breeze which was moving the grass-blades. He had tied his
canteen in a wrong place on the saddle and every time the horse moved
quickly the canteen banged the correspondent, to his annoyance and
distress, forcibly on the knee. He had forgotten about his
dragoman, but happening to look upon that faithful servitor, he
saw him gone white with horror. A bullet at that moment
twanged near his head and the slave to fear ducked in a spasm.
Coleman called the orderly's attention and they both laughed
discreetly. They made no pretension of being heroes, but they
saw plainly that they were better than this man.
Coleman said to him : " How far is it now to Nikopolis ? " The
dragoman replied only, with a look of agonized impatience.
But of course there was no going to Nikopolis that day. The
officer had advanced his men as far as was intended by his
superiors, and presently they were all recalled and trotted back
to the bridge. They crossed it to their old camp.
An important part of Coleman's traps was back with his
Athenian horses and their groom, but with his present
equipment he could at least lie smoking on his blankets and
watch the dragoman prepare food. But he reflected that for that
day he had only attained the simple discovery that the
approach to Nikopolis was surrounded with difficulties.
The same afternoon Coleman and the dragoman rode up to
Arta on their borrowed troop horses. The correspondent first
went to the telegraph office and found there the usual number
of despairing clerks. They were outraged when they found he
was going to send messages and thought it preposterous that
he insisted upon learning if there were any in the office for him.
They had trouble enough with endless official communications
without being hounded about private affairs by a confident
young man in khaki. But Coleman at last unearthed six
cablegrams which collective said that the Eclipse wondered why
they did not hear from him, that Walkley had been relieved from
duty in London and sent to join the army of the
crown prince, that young Point, the artist, had been
shipped to Greece, that if he, Coleman, succeeded in
finding the Wainwright party the paper was prepared
to make a tremendous uproar of a celebration over it
and, finally, the paper wondered twice more why they
did not hear from him.
When Coleman went forth to enquire if anybody knew of the
whereabouts of the Wainwright party he thought first of his
fellow correspondents. He found
most of them in a cafe where was to be had about the only food
in the soldier-laden town. It was a slothful den where even an
ordinary boiled egg could be made unpalatable. Such a common
matter as the salt men watched with greed and suspicion as if
they were always about to grab it from each other. The
proprietor, in a dirty shirt, could always be heard whining,
evidently telling the world that he was being abused, but he had
spirit enough remaining to charge three prices for everything
with an almost Jewish fluency.
The correspondents consoled themselves largely upon black -
bread and the native wines. Also there were certain little oiled
fishes, and some green odds and ends for salads. The
correspondents were practically all Englishmen. Some of them
were veterans of journalism in the Sudan, in India, in South
Africa; and there were others who knew as much of war as they
could learn by sitting at a desk and editing the London stock
reports. Some were on their own hook; some had horses and
dragomen and some had neither the one nor the other; many
knew how to write and a few had it yet to learn. The thing in
common was a spirit of adventure which found pleasure in the
extraordinary business of seeing how men kill each other.
They were talking of an artillery duel which had been fought
the previous day between the Greek batteries above the town
and the Turkish batteries across the river. Coleman
took seat at one of the long tables, and the
astute dragoman got somebody in the street to hold the horses
in order that he might be present at any feasting.
One of the experienced correspondents was remarking that
the fire of the Greek batteries in the engagement had been the
finest artillery practice of the century. He spoke a little loudly,
perhaps, in the wistful hope that some of the Greek officers
would understand enough English to follow his meaning, for it
is always good for a correspondent to admire the prowess on
his own side of the battlefield. After a time Coleman spoke in a
lull, and describing the supposed misfortunes of the
Wainwright party, asked if anyone had news of them. The
correspondents were surprised; they had none of them heard
even of the existence of a Wainwright party. Also none of them
seemed to care exceedingly. The conversation soon changed to
a discussion of the probable result of the general Greek
advance announced for the morrow.
Coleman silently commented that this remarkable appearance
of indifference to the mishap of the Wainwrights, a little party, a
single group, was a better definition of a real condition of war
than that bit of long-range musketry of the morning. He took a
certain despatch out of his pocket and again read it. " Find
Wainwright party at all hazards; much talk here; success
means red fire by ton. Eclipse." It
was an important matter. He could imagine how the American
people, vibrating for years to stories of the cruelty of the Turk,
would tremble-indeed, was now trembling-while the
newspapers howled out the dire possibilities. He saw all the
kinds of people, from those who would read the Wainwright
chapters from day to day as a sort of sensational novel, to
those who would work up a gentle sympathy for the woe of
others around the table in the evenings. He saw bar keepers
and policemen taking a high gallery thrill out of this kind of
romance. He saw even the emotion among American colleges
over the tragedy of a professor and some students. It
certainly was a big affair. Marjory of course was everything in
one way, but that, to the world, was not a big affair. It was the
romance of the Wainwright party in its simplicity that to the
American world was arousing great sensation; one that in the
old days would have made his heart leap like a colt.
Still, when batteries had fought each other savagely, and
horse, foot and guns were now about to make a general
advance, it was difficult, he could see, to stir men to think and
feel out of the present zone of action; to adopt for a time in fact
the thoughts and feelings of the other side of the world. It made
Coleman dejected as he saw clearly that the task was wholly on
his own shoulders.
Of course they were men who when at home
manifested the most gentle and wide-reaching feelings; most of
them could not by any possibility have slapped a kitten merely
for the prank and yet all of them who had seen an unknown
man shot through the head in battle had little more to think of it
than if the man had been a rag-baby. Tender they might be;
poets they might be; but they were all horned with a
provisional, temporary, but absolutely essential callouse which
was formed by their existence amid war with its quality of
making them always think of the sights and sounds concealed
in their own direct future.
They had been simply polite. " Yes ? " said one to Coleman.
"How many people in the party? Are they all Americans? Oh, I
suppose it will be quite right. Your minister in Constantinople
will arrange that easily. Where did you say? At Nikopolis?
Well, we conclude that the Turks will make no stand between
here and Pentepigadia. In that case your Nikopolis will be
uncovered unless the garrison at Prevasa intervenes. That
garrison at Prevasa, by the way, may make a deal of trouble.
" Exactly how far is it to Nikopolis? " asked Coleman.
" Oh, I think it is about thirty kilometers," replied the
others. " There is a good miltary road as soon as you cross the
Louros river. I've got the map of the Austrian general staff.
Would you like to look at it?"
Coleman studied the map, speeding with his eye rapidly to
and fro between Arta and Nikopolis. To him it was merely a
brown lithograph of mystery, but he could study the distances.
He had received a cordial invitation from the com-
mander of the cavalry to go with him for another ride
into Turkey, and he inclined to believe that his project
would be furthered if he stuck close to the cavalry. So
he rode back to the cavalry camp and went
peacefully to sleep on the sod. He awoke in the
morning with chattering teeth to find his dragoman
saying that the major had unaccountably withdrawn
his loan of the two troop horses. Coleman of course
immediately said to himself that the dragoman was
lying a-gain in order to prevent another expedition
into ominous Turkey, but after all if the commander,
of the cavalry had suddenly turned the light of his
favour from the correspondent it was only a proceeding
consistent with the nature which Coleman now
thought he was beginning to discern, a nature which
can never think twice in the same place, a gageous
mind which drifts, dissolves, combines, vanishes with
the ability of an aerial thing until the man of the
north feels that when he clutches it with full knowledge of his
senses he is only the victim of his ardent
imagination. It is the difference in standards, in
creeds, which is the more luminous when men call out that
they are all alike.
So Coleman and his dragoman loaded their traps and moved
out to again invade Turkey. It was not yet clear daylight, but
they felt that they might well start early since they were no
longer mounted men.
On the way to the bridge, the dragoman, although he was
curiously in love with his forty francs a day and his
opportunities, ventured a stout protest, based apparently upon
the fact that after all this foreigner, four days out from Athens
was somewhat at his mercy. " Meester Coleman," he said,
stopping suddenly, " I think we make no good if we go there.
Much better we wait Arta for our horse. Much better. I think
this no good. There is coming one big fight and I think much
better we go stay Arta. Much better."
" Oh, come off," said Coleman. And in clear language he
began to labour with the man. " Look here, now, if you think
you are engaged in steering a bunch of wooden-headed guys
about the Acropolis, my dear partner of my joys and sorrows,
you are extremely mistaken. As a matter of fact you are now the
dragoman of a war correspondent and you were engaged and
are paid to be one. It becomes necessary that you make good.
Make good, do you understand? I'm not out here to be buncoed
by this sort of game." He continued indefinitely in this strain
and at intervals he asked sharply Do you understand ?
Perhaps the dragoman was dumbfounded that the laconic
Coleman could on occasion talk so much, or perhaps he
understood everything and was impressed by the
argumentative power. At any rate he suddenly wilted. He made
a gesture which was a protestation of martyrdom and picking up
his burden proceeded on his way.
When they reached the bridge, they saw strong columns of
Greek infantry, dead black in the dim light, crossing the stream
and slowly deploying on the other shore. It was a bracing sight
to the dragoman, who then went into one of his absurd
babbling moods, in which he would have talked the head off
any man who was not born in a country laved by the childish
Mediterranean. Coleman could not understand what he said to
the soldiers as they passed, but it was evidently all grandiose
Two light batteries had precariously crossed the rickety
bridge during the night, and now this force of several thousand
infantry, with the two batteries, was moving out over the
territory which the cavalry had reconnoitered on the previous
day. The ground being familiar to Coleman, he no longer knew a
tremour, and, regarding his dragoman, he saw that that
invaluable servitor was also in better form. They marched until
they found one of the light batteries unlimbered and aligned on
the lake of grass about a mile from where parts of the white
house appeared above the tree-tops. Here the dragoman talked
with the captain of artillery, a tiny man on an immense horse,
who for some unknown reason told him that this force was going
to raid into Turkey and try to swing around the opposing army's
right flank. He announced, as he showed his teeth in a smile,
that it would be very, very dangerous work. The dragoman
precipitated himself upon Coleman.
" This is much danger. The copten he tell me the trups go
now in back of the Turks. It will be much danger. I think much
better we go Arta wait for horse. Much better." Coleman,
although be believed he despised the dragoman, could not help
but be influenced by his fears. They were, so to speak, in a
room with one window, and only the dragoman looked forth
from the window, so if he said that what he saw outside
frightened him, Coleman was perforce frightened also in a
measure. But when the correspondent raised
his eyes he saw the captain of the battery looking at him, his
teeth still showing in a smile, as if his information, whether true
or false, had been given to convince the foreigner that the
Greeks were a very superior and brave people, notably one little
officer of artillery. He had apparently assumed that Coleman
would balk from venturing with such a force upon an excursion
to trifle with the rear of a hard fighting Ottoman army. He
exceedingly disliked that man, sitting up there on his tall horse
and grinning like a cruel little ape with a secret. In truth,
Coleman was taken back at the outlook, but he could no more refrain
from instantly accepting this half-concealed challenge than he could
have refrained from resenting an ordinary form of insult. His mind was
not at peace, but the small vanities are very large. He was perfectly
aware that he was, being misled into the thing by an odd pride, but
anyhow, it easily might turn out to be a stroke upon the doors of
Nikopolis. He nodded and smiled at the officer in grateful
acknowledgment of his service.
The infantry was moving steadily a-field. Black blocks of men
were trailing in column slowly over the plain. They were not
unlike the backs of dominoes on a green baize table ; they were
so vivid, so startling. The correspondent and his servant
followed them. Eventually they overtook two companies in
command of a captain, who seemed immensely glad to have the
strangers with him. As they marched, the captain spoke through
the dragoman upon the virtues of his men, announcing with
other news the fact that his first sergeant was the bravest man in
A number of columns were moving across the plain parallel to
their line of march, and the whole force seemed to have orders
to halt when they reached a long ditch about four hundred yards
from where the shore of the plain arose to the luxuriant groves
with the cupola of the big white house sticking above them. The
soldiers lay along the ditch, and the bravest man in the world
spread his blanket on the ground for the captain, Coleman and
himself. During a long pause Coleman tried to elucidate the question
of why the Greek soldiers wore heavy overcoats, even in the bitter
heat of midday, but he could only learn that the dews, when they
came, were very destructive to the lungs, Further, he convinced himself
anew that talking through an interpreter to the minds of other
men was as satisfactory as looking at landscape through a
stained glass window.
After a time there was, in front, a stir near where a curious
hedge of dry brambles seemed to outline some sort of a garden
patch. Many of the soldiers exclaimed and raised their guns. But
there seemed to come a general understanding to the line that it
was wrong to fire. Then presently into the open came a dirty
brown figure, and Coleman could see through his glasses that
its head was crowned with a dirty fez which had once been
white. This indicated that the figure was that of one of the
Christian peasants of Epirus. Obedient to the captain, the
sergeant arose and waved invitation. The peasant wavered,
changed his mind, was obviously terror-stricken, regained
confidence and then began to advance circuitously toward
the Greek lines. When he arrived within hailing dis- tance, the
captain, the sergeant, Coleman's dragoman and many of the
soldiers yelled human messages, and a moment later he was
seen to be a poor, yellow-faced stripling with a body which
seemed to have been first twisted by an ill-birth and afterward
maimed by either labour or oppression, these being often
identical in their effects.
His reception of the Greek soldiery was no less fervid than
their welcome of him to their protection. He threw his grimy fez
in the air and croaked out cheers, while tears wet his cheeks.
When he had come upon the right side of the ditch he ran
capering among them and the captain, the sergeant, the
dragoman and a number of soldiers received wild embraces and
kisses. He made a dash at Coleman, but Coleman was now wary
in the game, and retired dexterously behind different groups
with a finished appearance of not noting that the young man
wished to greet him.
Behind the hedge of dry brambles there were more
indications of life, and the peasant stood up and made
beseeching gestures. Soon a whole flock of miserable people
had come out to the Greeks, men, women and children, in crude
and comic smocks, prancing here and there, uproariously
embracing and kissing their deliverers. An old, tearful, toothless
hag flung herself rapturously into the arms of the captain, and
Coleman's brick-and-iron soul was moved to admiration
at the way in which the officer administered a chaste salute
upon the furrowed cheek. The dragoman told the
correspondent that the Turks had run away from the village on
up a valley toward Jannina. Everybody was proud and happy.
A major of infantry came from the rear at this time and asked
the captain in sharp tones who were the two strangers in
civilian attire. When the captain had answered correctly the
major was immediately mollified, and had it announced to the
correspondent that his battalion was going to move
immediately into the village, and that he would be delighted to
have his company.
The major strode at the head of his men with the group of
villagers singing and dancing about him and looking upon him
as if he were a god. Coleman and the dragoman, at the officer's
request, marched one on either side of him, and in this manner
they entered the village. From all sorts of hedges and thickets,
people came creeping out to pass into a delirium of joy. The
major borrowed three little pack horses with rope-bridles, and
thus mounted and followed by the clanking column, they rode
on in triumph.
It was probably more of a true festival than most men
experience even in the longest life time. The major with his
Greek instinct of drama was a splendid personification of poetic
quality; in fact he was himself almost a lyric. From time to time
he glanced back at Coleman with eyes half dimmed with appreciation.
The people gathered flowers, great blossoms of purple and corn colour.
They sprinkled them over the three horsemen and flung them
deliriously under the feet of the little nags. Being now mounted
Coleman had no difficulty in avoiding the embraces of the
peasants, but he felt to the tips of his toes an abandonment to a
kind of pleasure with which he was not at all familiar. Riding
thus amid cries of thanksgiving addressed at him equally with
the others, he felt a burning virtue and quite lost his old self in
an illusion of noble be. nignity. And there continued the
fragrant hail of blossoms.
Miserable little huts straggled along the sides of the village
street as if they were following at the heels of the great white
house of the bey. The column proceeded northward,
announcing laughingly to the glad villagers that they would
never see another Turk. Before them on the road was here and
there a fez from the head of a fled Turkish soldier and they lay
like drops of blood from some wounded leviathan. Ultimately it
grew cloudy. It even rained slightly. In the misty downfall the
column of soldiers in blue was dim as if it were merely a long
trail of low-hung smoke.
They came to the ruins of a church and there the major
halted his battalion. Coleman worried at his dragoman to
learn if the halt was only temporary. It was a long time before
there was answer from the major, for he had drawn up his men in platoons
and was addressing them in a speech as interminable as any that
Coleman had heard in Greece. The officer waved his arms and
roared out evidently the glories of patriotism and soldierly
honour, the glories of their ancient people, and he may have
included any subject in this wonderful speech, for the reason
that he had plenty of time in which to do it. It was impossible to
tell whether the oration was a good one or bad one, because the
men stood in their loose platoons without discernible feelings
as if to them this appeared merely as one of the inevitable
consequences of a campaign, an established rule of warfare.
Coleman ate black bread and chocolate tablets while the
dragoman hovered near the major with the intention of
pouncing upon him for information as soon as his lungs yielded
to the strain upon them.
The dragoman at last returned with a very long verbal
treatise from the major, who apparently had not been as
exhausted after his speech to the men as one would think. The
major had said that he had been ordered to halt here to form a
junction with some of the troops coming direct from Arta, and
that he expected that in the morning the army would be
divided and one wing would chase the retreating Turks on
toward Jannina, while the other wing would advance upon
Prevasa because the enemy had a garrison there which had not
retreated an inch, and, although it was
cut off, it was necessary to send either a force to hold it in its
place or a larger force to go through with the business of
capturing it. Else there would be left in the rear of the left flank
of a Greek advance upon Jannina a body of the enemy which at
any moment might become active. The major said that his
battalion would probably form part of the force to advance
upon Prevasa. Nikopolis was on the road to Prevasa and only
three miles away from it.
Coleman spent a long afternoon in the drizzle Enveloped in
his macintosh he sat on a boulder in the lee of one of the old
walls and moodily smoked cigars and listened to the ceaseless
clatter of tongues. A ray of light penetrated the mind of the
dragoman and he laboured assiduously with wet fuel until he
had accomplished a tin mug of coffee. Bits of cinder floated in
it, but Coleman rejoiced and was kind to the dragoman.
The night was of cruel monotony. Afflicted by the wind and
the darkness, the correspondent sat with nerves keyed high
waiting to hear the pickets open fire on a night attack. He was
so unaccountably sure that there would be a tumult and panic
of this kind at some time of the night that he prevented himself
from getting a reasonable amount of rest. He could hear the
soldiers breathing in sleep all about him. He wished to arouse
them from this slumber which, to his ignorance, seemed stupid.
The quality of mysterious menace in the great gloom and the
silence would have caused him to pray if prayer would have
transported him magically to New York and made him a young
man with no coat playing billiards at his club.
The chill dawn came at last and with a fine elation which ever
follows a dismal night in war; an elation which bounds in the
bosom as soon as day has knocked the shackles from a
trembling mind. Although Coleman had slept but a short time he
was now as fresh as a total abstainer coming from the bath. He
heard the creak of battery wheels; he saw crawling bodies of
infantry moving in the dim light like ghostly processions. He felt
a tremendous virility come with this new hope in the daylight.
He again took satis. faction in his sentimental journey. It was a
shining affair. He was on active service, an active service of the
heart, and he' felt that he was a strong man ready to conquer
difficulty even as the olden heroes conquered difficulty. He
imagined himself in a way like them. He, too, had come out to
fight for love with giants, dragons and witches. He had never
known that he could be so pleased with that kind of a parallel.
The dragoman announced that the major had suddenly lent
their horses to some other people, and after cursing this
versatility of interest, he summoned his henchmen and they
moved out on foot, following the sound of the creaking wheels.
They came in time to a bridge, and on the side of this bridge
was a hard military road which sprang away in two directions,
north and west. Some troops were creeping out the westward
way and the dragoman pointing at them
said: " They going Prevasa. That is road to Nikopolis."
Coleman grinned from ear to car and slapped
his dragoman violently on the shoulder. For a moment he
intended to hand the man a louis of reward, but he changed his
Their traps were in the way of being heavy, but they minded
little since the dragoman was now a victim of the influence of
Coleman's enthusiasm. The road wound along the base of the
mountain range, sheering around the abutments in wide white
curves and then circling into glens where immense trees spread
their shade over it. Some of the great trunks were oppressed
with vines green as garlands, and these vines even ran like
verdant foam over the rocks. Streams of translucent water
showered down from the hills, and made pools in which every
pebble, every eaf of a water plant shone with magic lustre, and if
the bottom of a pool was only of clay, the clay glowed with
sapphire light. The day was fair. The country was part of that
land which turned the minds of its ancient poets toward a more
tender dreaming, so that indeed their nymphs would die, one is
sure, in the cold mythology of the north with its storms amid the
gloom of pine forests. It was all wine to Coleman's spirit. It
enlivened him to think of success with absolute surety. To be
sure one of his boots began soon to rasp his toes, but he gave
it no share of his attention. They passed at a much faster pace
than the troops, and everywhere they met laughter and confidence
and the cry. " On to Prevasa! "
At midday they were at the heels of the advance battalion,
among its stragglers, taking its white dust into their throats and
eyes. The dragoman was waning and he made a number of
attempts to stay Coleman, but no one could have had influence
upon Coleman's steady rush with his eyes always straight to
the front as if thus to symbolize his steadiness of purpose.
Rivulets of sweat marked the dust on his face, and two of his
toes were now paining as if they were being burned off. He was
obliged to concede a privilege of limping, but he would not
At nightfall they halted with the outpost batallion of the
infantry. All the cavalry had in the meantirne come up and they
saw their old friends. There was a village from which the
Christian peasants came and cheered like a trained chorus.
Soldiers were driving a great flock of fat sheep into a corral.
They had belonged to a Turkish bey and they bleated as if they
knew that they were now mere spoils of war. Coleman lay on the
steps of the bey's house smoking with his head on his blanket
roll. Camp fires glowed off in the fields. He was now about four
miles from Nikopolis.
Within the house, the commander of the cavalry was writing
dispatches. Officers clanked up and down the stairs. The
dashing young captain came and said that there would be a general
assault on Prevasa at the dawn of the next day. Afterward the dragoman
descended upon the village and in some way wrenched a little grey horse
from an inhabitant. Its pack saddle was on its back and it would
very handily carry the traps. In this matter the dragoman did not
consider his master; he considered his own sore back.
Coleman ate more bread and chocolate tablets and also some
tinned sardines. He was content with the day's work. He did not
see how he could have improved it. There was only one route by
which the Wainwright party could avoid him, and that was by
going to Prevasa and thence taking ship. But since Prevasa was
blockaded by a Greek fleet, he conceived that event to be
impossible. Hence, he had them hedged on this peninsula and
they must be either at Nikopolis or Prevasa. He would probably
know all early in the morning. He reflected that he was too tired
to care if there might be a night attack and then wrapped in his
blankets he went peacefully to sleep in the grass under a big
tree with the crooning of some soldiers around their fire
blending into his slumber.
And now, although the dragoman had performed a number of
feats of incapacity, he achieved during the one hour of
Coleman's sleeping a blunder which for real finish was simply a
perfection of art. When Coleman, much later, extracted the full
story, it appeared that ringing. events happened during that single
hour of sleep. Ten minutes after he had lain down for a night of
oblivion, the battalion of infantry, which had advanced a little beyond
the village, was recalled and began a hurried night march back on the
way it had so festively come. It was significant enough to appeal
to almost any mind, but the dragoman was able to not
understand it. He remained jabbering to some acquaintances
among the troopers. Coleman had been asleep his hour when the
dashing young captain perceived the dragoman, and completely
horrified by his presence at that place, ran to him and whispered
to him swiftly that the game was to flee, flee, flee. The wing of the
army which had advanced northward upon Jannina had already
been tumbled back by the Turks and all the other wing had been
recalled to the Louros river and there was now nothing practically
between him and his sleeping master and the enemy but a cavalry
picket. The cavalry was immediately going to make a forced
march to the rear. The stricken dragoman could even then see
troopers getting into their saddles. He, rushed to, the, tree, and
in. a panic simply bundled Coleman upon his feet before he was
awake. He stuttered out his tale, and the dazed, correspondent
heard it punctuated by the steady trample of the retiring cavalry.
The dragoman saw a man's face then turn in a flash from an
expression of luxurious drowsiness to an expression of utter
malignancy. However, he was in too much of a hurry to be afraid
of it; he ran off to the little grey horse and frenziedly but
skilfully began to bind the traps upon the packsaddle. He
appeared in a moment tugging at the halter. He could only
say: "Come! Come! Come! Queek! Queek! " They slid hurriedly
down a bank to the road and started to do again that which
they had accomplished with considerable expenditure of
physical power during the day. The hoof beats of the cavalry
had already died away and the mountains shadowed them in
lonely silence. They were the rear guard after the rear guard.
The dragoman muttered hastily his last dire rumours. Five
hundred Circassian cavalry were coming. The mountains were
now infested with the dread Albanian irregulars, Coleman had
thought in his daylight tramp that he had appreciated the noble
distances, but he found that he knew nothing of their nobility
until he tried this night stumbling. And the hoofs of the little
horse made on the hard road more noise than could be made by
men beating with hammers upon brazen cylinders. The
correspondent glanced continually up at the crags. From the
other side he could sometimes hear the metallic clink of water
deep down in a glen. For the first time in his life he seriously
opened the flap of his holster and let his fingers remain on the
handle of his revolver. From just in front of
him he could hear the chattering of the dragoman's teeth which
no attempt at more coolness could seem to prevent. In the
meantime the casual manner of the little grey horse struck
Coleman with maddening vividness. If the blank darkness was
simply filled with ferocious Albanians, the horse did not care a
button; he leisurely put his feet down with a resounding ring.
Coleman whispered hastily to the dragoman. " If they rush us,
jump down the bank, no matter how deep it is. That's our only
chance. And try to keep together."
All they saw of the universe was, in front of them,
a place faintly luminous near their feet, but fading in
six yards to the darkness of a dungeon. This repre-
sented the bright white road of the day time. It had
no end. Coleman had thought that he could tell
from the very feel of the air some of the landmarks of
his daytime journey, but he had now no sense of
location at all. He would not have denied that he
was squirming on his belly like a worm through black
They went on and on. Visions of his past were sweeping
through Coleman's mind precisely as they are said to sweep
through the mind of a drowning person. But he had no regret
for any bad deeds; he regretted merely distant hours of peace
and protection. He was no longer a hero going to rescue his
love. He was a slave making a gasping attempt to escape
from the most incredible tyranny of circumstances. He half
vowed to himself that if the God whom he had in no wise
heeded, would permit him to crawl out of this slavery he would
never again venture a yard toward a danger any greater than
may be incurred from the police of a most proper metropolis. If
his juvenile and uplifting thoughts of other days had
reproached him he would simply have repeated and repeated:
"Adventure be damned."
It became known to them that the horse had to be led. The
debased creature was asserting its right to do as it had been
trained, to follow its customs; it was asserting this right during
a situation which required conduct superior to all training and
custom. It was so grossly conventional that Coleman would
have understood that demoniac form of anger which sometimes
leads men to jab knives into warm bodies. Coleman from
cowardice tried to induce the dragoman to go ahead leading the
horse, and the dragoman from cowardice tried to induce
Coleman to go ahead leading the horse. Coleman of course
had to succumb. The dragoman was only good to walk behind
and tearfully whisper maledictions as he prodded the flanks of
their tranquil beast.
In the absolute black of the frequent forests, Coleman could
not see his feet and he often felt like a man walking forward to
fall at any moment down a thousand yards of chasm. He heard
whispers; he saw skulking figures, and these frights turned out to be the
voice of a little trickle of water or the effects of wind among the
leaves, but they were replaced by the same terrors in slightly
Then the poignant thing interpolated. A volley crashed
ahead of them some half of a mile away and another volley
answered from a still nearer point. Swishing noises which the
correspondent had heard in the air he now know to have been
from the passing of bullets. He and the dragoman came stock
still. They heard three other volleys sounding with the abrupt
clamour of a hail of little stones upon a hollow surface. Coleman
and the dragoman came close together and looked into the
whites of each other's eyes. The ghastly horse at that moment
stretched down his neck and began placidly to pluck the grass
at the roadside. The two men were equally blank with fear and
each seemed to seek in the other some newly rampant manhood
upon which he could lean at this time. Behind them were the
Turks. In front of them was a fight in the darkness. In front it
was mathematic to suppose in fact were also the Turks. They
were barred; enclosed; cut off. The end was come.
Even at that moment they heard from behind them the sound
of slow, stealthy footsteps. They both wheeled instantly,
choking with this additional terror. Coleman saw the dragoman
move swiftly to the side of the road, ready to jump into
whatever abyss happened to be there. Coleman still gripped the halter
as if it were in truth a straw. The stealthy footsteps
were much nearer. Then it was that an insanity came
upon him as if fear had flamed up within him until it
gave him all the magnificent desperation of a madman.
He jerked the grey horse broadside to the approaching
mystery, and grabbing out his revolver
aimed it from the top of his improvised bulwark. He
hailed the darkness.
"Halt. Who's there?" He had expected his voice to sound like
a groan, but instead it happened to sound clear, stern,
commanding, like the voice of a young sentry at an
encampment of volunteers. He did not seem to have any
privilege of selection as to the words. They were born of
He waited then, blanched and hopeless, for death to wing
out of the darkness and strike him down. He heard a voice. The
voice said: " Do you speak English? " For one or two seconds
he could not even understand English, and then the great fact
swelled up and within him. This voice with all its new quavers
was still undoubtedly the voice of Prof. Harrison B.Wainwright
of Washurst College
A CHANGE flashed over Coleman as if it had come from an
electric storage. He had known the professor long, but he had
never before heard a quaver in his voice, and it was this little
quaver that seemed to impel him to supreme disregard of the
dangers which he looked upon as being the final dangers. His
own voice had not quavered.
When he spoke, he spoke in a low tone, it was the voice of
the master of the situation. He could hear his dupes fluttering
there in the darkness. " Yes," he said, " I speak English. There
is some danger. Stay where you are and make no noise." He
was as cool as an iced drink. To be sure the circumstances had
in no wise changed as to his personal danger, but beyond the
important fact that there were now others to endure it with him,
he seemed able to forget it in a strange, unauthorized sense of
victory. It came from the professor's quavers.
Meanwhile he had forgotten the dragoman, but he recalled
him in time to bid him wait. Then, as well concealed as a monk
hiding in his cowl, he tip-toed back into a group of people who
knew him intimately.
He discerned two women mounted on little horses and about
them were dim men. He could hear them breathing hard. " It is
all right" he began smoothly. "You only need to be very careful---"
Suddenly out of the blackness projected a half
phosphorescent face. It was the face of the little professor. He
stammered. " We-we-do you really speak English? " Coleman in
his feeling of superb triumph could almost have laughed. His
nerves were as steady as hemp, but he was in haste and his
haste allowed him to administer rebuke to his old professor.
" Didn't you hear me ? " he hissed through his tightening lips.
" They are fighting just ahead of us on the road and if you want
to save yourselves don't waste time."
Another face loomed faintly like a mask painted in dark grey.
It belonged to Coke, and it was a mask figured in profound
stupefaction. The lips opened and tensely breathed out the
name: " Coleman." Instantly the correspondent felt about him
that kind of a tumult which tries to suppress itself. He knew that
it was the most theatric moment of his life. He glanced quickly
toward the two figures on horseback. He believed that one was
making foolish gesticulation while the other sat rigid and silent.
This latter one he knew to be Marjory. He was content that she
did not move. Only a woman who was glad he had come but did
not care for him would have moved. This applied directly to
what he thought he knew of Marjory's nature.
There was confusion among the students, but Coleman
suppressed it as in such situation might a centurion. " S-s-steady! "
He seized the arm of the professor and drew him
forcibly close. " The condition is this," he whispered rapidly.
"We are in a fix with this fight on up the road. I was sent after
you, but I can't get you into the Greek lines to-night. Mrs.Wainwright
and Marjory must dismount and I and
my man will take the horses on and hide them. All
the rest of you must go up about a hundred feet into
the woods and hide. When I come back, I'll hail you
and you answer low." The professor was like pulp in
his grasp. He choked out the word "Coleman" in
agony and wonder, but he obeyed with a palpable
gratitude. Coleman sprang to the side of the shadowy
figure of Marjory. " Come," he said authoritatively.
She laid in his palm a little icy cold hand and dropped
from her horse. He had an impulse to cling to the
small fingers, but he loosened them immediately, im-
parting to his manner, as well as the darkness per-
mitted him, a kind of casual politeness as if he were
too intent upon the business in hand. He bunched
the crowd and pushed them into the wood. Then he
and the dragoman took the horses a hundred yards
onward and tethered them. No one would care if
they were stolen; the great point was to get them
where their noise would have no power of revealing the whole
party. There had been no further firing.
After he had tied the little grey horse to a tree he
unroped his luggage and carried the most of it back
to the point where the others had left the road. He
called out cautiously and received a sibilant answer.
He and the dragoman bunted among the trees until
they came to where a forlorn company was seated
awaiting them lifting their faces like frogs out of a
pond. His first question did not give them any
assurance. He said at once: "Are any of you
armed?" Unanimously they lowly breathed: "No."
He searched them out one by one and finally sank
down by the professor. He kept sort of a hypnotic
handcuff upon the dragoman, because he foresaw that
this man was really going to be the key to the best
means of escape. To a large neutral party wandering
between hostile lines there was technically no danger,
but actually there was a great deal. Both armies had
too many irregulars, lawless hillsmen come out to
fight in their own way, and if they were encountered
in the dead of night on such hazardous ground the
Greek hillsmen with their white cross on a blue field
would be precisely as dangerous as the blood-hungry
Albanians. Coleman knew that the rational way was
to reach the Greek lines, and he had no intention of
reaching the Greek lines without a tongue, and the
only tongue was in the mouth of the dragoman. He
was correct in thinking that the professor's deep knowledge of
the ancient language would give him small clue to the speech
of the modern Greek.
As he settled himself by the professor the band of students,
eight in number pushed their faces close.
He did not see any reason for speaking. There were thirty
seconds of deep silence in which he felt that all were bending to
hearken to his words of counsel The professor huskily broke
the stillness. Well * * * what are we to do now? "
Coleman was decisive, indeed absolute. "We'll stay here until
daylight unless you care to get shot."
" All right," answered the professor. He turned and made a
useless remark to his flock. " Stay here."
Coleman asked civilly, " Have you had anything to eat?
Have you got anything to wrap around you ? "
" We have absolutely nothing," answered the professor. "
Our servants ran away and * * and then we left everything
behind us * * and I've never been in such a position in my life."
Coleman moved softly in the darkness and unbuckled some
of his traps. On his knee he broke the hard cakes of bread and
with his fingers he broke the little tablets of chocolate. These
he distributed to his people. And at this time he felt fully the
appreciation of the conduct of the eight American college
students They had not yet said a word-with the
exception of the bewildered exclamation from Coke. They all
knew him well. In any circumstance of life which as far as he
truly believed, they had yet encountered, they would have
been privileged to accost him in every form of their remarkable
vocabulary. They were as new to this game as, would have
been eight newly-caught Apache Indians if such were set to
run the elevators in the Tract Society Building. He could see
their eyes gazing at him anxiously and he could hear their deep-
drawn breaths. But they said no word. He knew that they were
looking upon him as their leader, almost as their saviour, and he
knew also that they were going to follow him without a murmur
in the conviction that he knew ten-fold more than they knew. It
occurred to him that his position was ludicrously false, but,
anyhow, he was glad. Surely it would be a very easy thing to
lead them to safety in the morning and he foresaw the credit
which would come to him. He concluded that it was beneath his
dignity as preserver to vouchsafe them many words. His
business was to be the cold, masterful, enigmatic man. It might
be said that these reflections were only half-thoughts in his
mind. Meanwhile a section of his intellect was flying hither and
thither, speculating upon the Circassian cavalry and the
Albanian guerillas and even the Greek outposts.
He unbuckled his blanket roll and taking one blanket placed
it about the shoulders of the shadow which was
Mrs.Wainwright. The shadow protested incoherently,. hut he
muttered "Oh that's all right." Then he took his other blanket
and went to the shadow which was
Marjory. It was something like putting a wrap about the
shoulders of a statue. He was base enough to linger in the
hopes that he could detect some slight trembling but as far as
lie knew she was of stone. His macintosh he folded around the
body of the professor amid quite senile protest, so senile that
the professor seemed suddenly proven to him as an old, old man, a fact
which had never occurred to Washurst or her children. Then he went
to the dragoman and pre-empted half of his blankets, The
dragoman grunted but Coleman It would not do to have this dragoman
develop a luxurious temperament when eight American college
students were, without speech, shivering in the cold night.
Coleman really begun to ruminate upon his glory, but he
found that he could not do this well without Smoking, so he
crept away some distance from this fireless, encampment, and
bending his face to the ground at the foot of a tree he struck a
match and lit a cigar. His retun to the others would have been
somewhat in the manner of coolness as displayed on the stage
if he had not been prevented by the necessity of making no
noise. He saw regarding him as before the dimly visible eyes of
the eight students and Marjory and her father and mother.
Then he whispered the conventional words. " Go to sleep if you can.
You'll need your strength in the morning. I and this man here will keep
watch." Three of the college students of course crawled up to
him and each said: " I'll keep watch, old man."
" No. We'll keep watch. You people try to sleep."
He deemed that it might be better to yield the dragoman his
blanket, and So he got up and leaned against a tree, holding his
hand to cover the brilliant point of his cigar. He knew perfectly
well that none of them could sleep. But he stood there
somewhat like a sentry without the attitude, but with all the
effect of responsibility.
He had no doubt but what escape to civilisation would be
easy, but anyhow his heroism should be preserved. He was the
rescuer. His thoughts of Marjory were somewhat in a puzzle.
The meeting had placed him in such a position that he had
expected a lot of condescension on his own part. Instead she
had exhibited about as much recognition of him as would a
stone fountain on his grandfather's place in Connecticut. This
in his opinion was not the way to greet the knight who had
come to the rescue of his lady. He had not expected it so to
happen. In fact from Athens to this place he had engaged
himself with imagery of possible meetings. He was vexed,
certainly, but, far beyond that, he knew a deeper adminiration
for this girl. To him she represented the sex, and so the
sex as embodied in her seemed a mystery to be feared. He
wondered if safety came on the morrow he would not surrender
to this feminine invulnerability. She had not done anything that
he had expected of her and so inasmuch as he loved her he
loved her more. It was bewitching. He half considered himself a
fool. But at any rate he thought resentfully she should be
thankful to him for having rendered her a great service.
However, when he came to consider this proposition he knew
that on a basis of absolute manly endeavour he had rendered
her little or no service.
The night was long.
COLEMAN suddenly found himself looking upon his pallid
dragoman. He saw that he had been asleep crouched at the foot
of the tree. Without any exchange of speech at all he knew
there had been alarming noises. Then shots sounded from
nearby. Some were from rifles aimed in that direction and some
were from rifles opposed to them. This was distinguishable to
the experienced man, but all that Coleman knew was that the
conditions of danger were now triplicated. Unconsciously he
stretched his hands in supplication over his charges. "Don't
move! Don't move! And keep close to the ground!" All heeded
him but Marjory. She still sat straight. He himself was on his
feet, but he now knew the sound of bullets, and he knew that
no bullets had spun through the trees. He could not see her
distinctly, but it was known to him in some way that she was
mutinous. He leaned toward her and spoke as harshly as
possible. "Marjory, get down! " She wavered for a moment as if
resolved to defy him. As he turned again to peer in the direction
of the firing it went through his mind that she must love him
very much indeed. He was assured of it.
It must have been some small outpour between nervous
pickets and eager hillsmen, for it ended in a moment. The party
waited in abasement for what seemed to them a time, and the
blue dawn began, to laggardly shift the night as they waited.
The dawn itself seemed prodigiously long in arriving at
anything like discernible landscape. When this was
consummated, Coleman, in somewhat the manner of the father
of a church, dealt bits of chocolate out to the others. He had
already taken the precaution to confer with the dragoman, so he
said : " Well, come ahead. We'll make a try for it." They arose at
his bidding and followed him to the road. It was the same broad,
white road, only that the white was in the dawning something
like the grey of a veil. It took some courage to venture upon this
thoroughfare, but Coleman stepped out-after looking quickly in
both directions. The party tramped to where the horses had
been left, and there they were found without change of a rope.
Coleman rejoiced to see that his dragoman now followed him in
the way of a good lieutenant. They both dashed in among the
trees and had the horses out into the road in a twinkle. When
Coleman turned to direct that utterly subservient, group he
knew that his face was drawn from hardship and anxiety, but he
saw everywhere the same style of face with the exception of the
face of Marjory, who looked simply of lovely marble. He
noted with a curious satisfaction, as if the thing was a tribute to
himself, that his macintosh was over the professor's shoulder,
that Marjory and her mother were each carrying a blanket, and
that, the corps of students had dutifully brought all the traps
which his dragoman had forgotten. It was grand.
He addressed them to say: " Now, approaching outposts is
very dangerous business at this time in the morning. So my
man, who can talk both Greek and Turkish, will go ahead forty
yards, and I will follow somewhere between him and you. Try
not to crowd forward."
He directed the ladies upon their horses and placed the
professor upon the little grey nag. Then they took up their line
of march. The dragoman had looked somewhat dubiously upon
this plan of having him go forty yards in advance, but he had
the utmost confidence in this new Coleman, whom yesterday he
had not known. Besides, he himself was a very gallant man
indeed, and it befitted him to take the post of danger before the
eyes of all these foreigners. In his new position he was as
proud and unreasonable as a rooster. He was continually
turning his head to scowl back at them, when only the clank of
hoofs was sounding. An impenetrable mist lay on the valley
and the hill-tops were shrouded. As for the people, they were
like mice. Coleman paid no attention to the Wainwright party,
but walked steadily along near the dragoman.
Perhaps the whole thing was a trifle absurd, but to a great
percentage, of the party it was terrible. For instance, those
eight boys, fresh from a school, could in no wise gauge the
dimensions. And if this was true of the students, it was more
distinctly true of Marjory and her mother. As for the professor,
he seemed Weighted to the earth by his love and his
Suddenly the dragoman wheeled and made demoniac signs.
Coleman half-turned to survey the main body, and then paid
his attention swiftly to the front. The white road sped to the top
of a hill where it seemed to make a rotund swing into oblivion.
The top of the curve was framed in foliage, and therein was a
horseman. He had his carbine slanted on his thigh, and his
bridle-reins taut. Upon sight of them he immediately wheeled
and galloped down the other slope and vanished.
The dragoman was throwing wild gestures into the air. As
Coleman looked back at the Wainwright party he saw plainly
that to an ordinary eye they might easily appear as a strong
advance of troops. The peculiar light would emphasize such
theory. The dragoman ran to him jubilantly, but he contained
now a form of intelligence which caused him to whisper; " That
was one Greek. That was one Greek-what do you call--sentree? "
Coleman addressed the others. He said: "It's all right. Come
ahead. That was a Greek picket. There is only one trouble now,
and that is to approach them easy-do you see-easy."
His obedient charges came forward at his word. When they
arrived at the top of this rise they saw nothing. Coleman was
very uncertain. He was not sure that this picket had not carried
with him a general alarm, and in that case there would soon
occur a certain amount of shooting. However, as far as he
understood the business, there was no way but forward.
Inasmuch as he did not indicate to the Wainwright party that he
wished them to do differently, they followed on doggedly after
him and the dragoman. He knew now that the dragoman's heart
had for the tenth time turned to dog-biscuit, so he kept abreast
of him. And soon together they walked into a cavalry outpost,
commanded by no less a person than the dashing young
captain, who came laughing out to meet them.
Suddenly losing all colour of war, the condition was now
such as might occur in a drawing room. Coleman felt the
importance of establishing highly conventional relations
between the captain and the Wainwright party. To compass
this he first seized his dragoman, and the dragoman,
enlightened immediately, spun a series of lies which must have
led the captain to believe that the entire heart of the American
republic had been taken out of that western continent and
transported to Greece. Coleman was proud of the captain, The
latter immediately went and bowed in the manner of the French
school and asked everybody to have a cup of coffee, although
acceptation would have proved his ruin and disgrace. Coleman
refused in the name of courtesy. He called his party forward,
and now they proceeded merely as one crowd. Marjory had
dismounted in the meantime.
The moment was come. Coleman felt it. The first rush was
from the students. Immediately he was buried in a thrashing
mob of them. "Good boy! Good boy! Great man! Oh, isn't he a
peach? How did he do it? He came in strong at the finish ! Good
boy, Coleman!" Through this mist of glowing youthful
congratulatioin he saw the professor standing at the outskirts
with direct formal thanks already moving on his lips, while near
him his wife wept joyfully. Marjory was evidently enduring
some inscrutable emotion.
After all, it did penetrate his mind that it was indecent to
accept all this wild gratitude, but there was built within him no
intention of positively declaring himself lacking in all credit, or
at least, lacking in all credit in the way their praises defined it.
In truth he had assisted them, but he had been at the time
largely engaged in assisting himself, and their coming had been
more of a boon to his loneliness than an addition to his care.
However, he soon had no difficulty in
making his conscience appropriate every line in these hymns
sung in his honour. The students, curiously wise of men,
thought his conduct quite perfect. " Oh, say, come off ! " he
protested. " Why, I didn't do anything. You fellows are crazy.
You would have gotten in all right by yourselves. Don't act like
As soon as the professor had opportunity he came to
Coleman. He was a changed little man, and his extraordinary
bewilderment showed in his face. It was the disillusion and
amazement of a stubborn mind that had gone implacably in its
one direction and found in the end that the direction was all
wrong, and that really a certain mental machine had not been
infallible. Coleman remembered what the American minister in
Athens had described of his protests against the starting of the
professor's party on this journey, and of the complete refusal of
the professor to recognise any value in the advice. And here
now was the consequent defeat. It was mirrored in the
professor's astonished eyes. Coleman went directly to his dazed
old teacher. " Well, you're out of it now, professor," he said
warmly. " I congratulate you on your escape, sir." The
professor looked at him, helpless to express himself, but the
correspondent was at that time suddenly enveloped in the
hysterical gratitude of Mrs. Wainwright, who hurled herself
upon him with extravagant manifestations. Coleman played his
part with skill. To both the professor and Mrs. Wainwright his
manner was a combination of modestly filial affection and a
pretentious disavowal of his having done anything at all. It
seemed to charm everybody but Marjory. It irritated him to see
that she was apparently incapable of acknowledging that he was a
He was actually compelled to go to her and offer
congratulations upon her escape, as he had congratulated the
If his manner to her parents had been filial, his manner to her
was parental. " Well, Marjory," he said kindly, "you have been
in considerable danger. I suppose you're glad to be through
with it." She at that time made no reply, but by her casual turn
he knew that he was expected to walk along by her side. The
others knew it, too, and the rest of the party left them free to
walk side by side in the rear.
" This is a beautiful country here-abouts if one gets a good
chance to see it," he remarked. Then he added: "But I suppose
you had a view of it when you were going out to Nikopolis? "
She answered in muffled tones. "Yes, we thought it very
Did you note those streams from the mountains " That
seemed to me the purest water I'd ever seen, but I bet it would
make one ill to drink it. There is, you know, a prominent
German chemist who has almost proven
that really pure water is practical poison to the human
"Yes ? " she said.
There was a period of silence, during which he was perfectly
comfortable because he knew that she was ill at ease. If the
silence was awkward, she was suffering from it. As for himself,
he had no inclination to break it. His position was, as far as the
entire Wainwright party was concerned, a place where he could
afford to wait. She turned to him at last. "Of course, I know
how much you have done for us, and I want you to feel that we
all appreciate it deeply-deeply." There was discernible to the ear
a certain note of desperation.
" Oh, not at all," he said generously. " Not at all. I didn't do
anything. It was quite an accident. Don't let that trouble you
for a moment."
"Well, of course you would say that," she said more
steadily. " But I-we-we know how good and how-brave it was
in you to come for us, and I--we must never forget it."
As a matter of fact," replied Coleman, with an appearance
of ingenuous candor, " I was sent out here by the Eclipse to
find you people, and of course I worked rather hard to reach
you, but the final meeting was purely accidental and does not
redound to my credit in the least."
As he had anticipated, Marjory shot him a little glance of
disbelief. " Of course you would say that," she repeated with
gloomy but flattering conviction.
" Oh, if I had been a great hero," he said smiling, "no doubt
I would have kept up this same manner which now sets so well
upon me, but I am telling you the truth when I say that I had no
part in your rescue at all."
She became slightly indignant. " Oh, if you care to tell us
constantly that you were of no service to us, I don't see what
we can do but continue to declare that you were."
Suddenly he felt vulgar. He spoke to her this time with real
meaning. " I beg of 'you never to mention it again. That will be
the best way."
But to this she would not accede. "No, we will often want to
speak of it."
He replied "How do you like Greece? Don't you think that
some of these ruins are rather out of shape in the popular
mind? Now, for my part, I would rather look at a good strong
finish at a horserace than to see ten thousand Parthenons in a
She was immediately in the position of defending him from
himself. "You would rather see no such thing. You shouldn't
talk in that utterly trivial way. I like the Parthenon, of course,
but I can't think of it now because my head. is too full of my
escape from where I was so-so frightened."
Coleman grinned. " Were you really frightened?"
" Naturally," she answered. " I suppose I was more
frightened for mother and father, but I was frightened enough
for myself. It was not-not a nice thing."
"No, it wasn't," said Coleman. "I could hardly believe my
senses, when the minister at Athens told me that, you all had
ventured into such a trap, and there is no doubt but what you
can be glad that you are well out of it."
She seemed to have some struggle with herself and then
she deliberately said: "Thanks to you."
Coleman embarked on what he intended to make a series of
high-minded protests. " Not at all-" but at that moment the
dragoman whirled back from the van-guard with a great
collection of the difficulties which had been gathering upon
him. Coleman was obliged to resign Marjory and again take up
the active leadership. He disposed of the dragoman's
difficulties mainly by declaring that they were not difficulties at
all. He had learned that this was the way to deal with dragomen.
The fog had already lifted from the valley and, as they
passed along the wooded mountain-side the fragrance of
leaves and earth came to them. Ahead, along the hooded road,
they could see the blue clad figures of Greek infantrymen.
Finally they passed an encampment of a battalion whose line
was at a right angle to the highway. A hundred yards in advance was the
bridge across the Louros river. And there a battery of artillery
was encamped. The dragoman became involved in all sorts of
discussions with other Greeks, but Coleman stuck to his elbow
and stifled all aimless oration. The Wainwright party waited for
them in the rear in an observant but patient group.
Across a plain, the hills directly behind Arta loomed up
showing the straight yellow scar of a modern entrenchment. To
the north of Arta were some grey mountains with a dimly
marked road winding to the summit. On one side of this road
were two shadows. It took a moment for the eye to find these
shadows, but when this was accomplished it was plain that
they were men. The captain of the battery explained to the
dragoman that he did not know that they were not also Turks.
In which case the road to Arta was a dangerous path. It was no
good news to Coleman. He waited a moment in order to gain
composure and then walked back to the Wainwright party.
They must have known at once from his peculiar gravity that all
was not well. Five of the students and the professor
immediately asked: "What is it?"
He had at first some old-fashioned idea of concealing the ill
tidings from the ladies, but he perceived what flagrant nonsense
this would be in circumstances in which all were fairly likely to
incur equal dangers, and at any rate he did not see his way clear
to allow their imagination to run riot over a situation which might not
turn out to be too bad. He said slowly: " You see those
mountains over there? Well, troops have been seen there and
the captain of this battery thinks they are Turks. If they are
Turks the road to Arta is distinctly-er-unsafe."
This new blow first affected the Wainwright party as being
too much to endure. " They thought they had gone through
enough. This was a general sentiment. Afterward the emotion
took colour according to the individual character. One student
laughed and said: " Well, I see our finish."
Another student piped out: " How do they know they are
Turks? What makes them think they are Turks "
Another student expressed himself with a sigh. "This is a
long way from the Bowery."
The professor said nothing but looked annihilated; Mrs.
Wainwright wept profoundly; Marjory looked expectantly
As for the correspondent he was adamantine and reliable
and stern, for he had not the slightest idea that those men on
the distant hill were Turks at all.
"OH," said a student, " this game ought to quit. I feel like
thirty cents. We didn't come out here to be pursued about the
country by these Turks. Why don't they stop it ?"
Coleman was remarking: "Really, the only sensible thing to
do now is to have breakfast. There is no use in worrying
ourselves silly over this thing until we've got to."
They spread the blankets on the ground and sat about a
feast of bread, water cress and tinned beef. Coleman was the
real host, but he contrived to make the professor appear as that
honourable person. They ate, casting their eyes from time to
time at the distant mountain with its two shadows. People
began to fly down the road from Jannina, peasants hurriedly
driving little flocks, women and children on donkeys and little
horses which they clubbed unceasingly. One man rode at a
gallop, shrieking and flailing his arms in the air. They were all
Christian peasants of Turkey, but they were in flight now
because they did not wish to be at home if the Turk was going
to return and reap revenge for his mortification. The
Wainwright party looked at Coleman in abrupt questioning.
"Oh, it's all right," he said, easily. "They are always taking on
Suddenly the dragoman gave a shout and dashed up the
road to the scene of a melee where a little ratfaced groom was
vociferously defending three horses from some Greek officers,
who as vociferously were stating their right to requisition them.
Coleman ran after his dragoman. There was a sickening pow-wow,
but in the end Coleman, straight and easy in the saddle,
came cantering back on a superb open-mouthed snorting bay
horse. He did not mind if the half-wild animal plunged crazily. It
was part of his role. "They were trying to steal my horses," he