Part 2 out of 6
beds. And took nothing. Not a thing. "We're all in this," they
said. "We're doing our best. It's little enough." That's what
they sayd. Pretty find the Irish of Queenstown. Eh?
(Dartrey nods. He does not trust himself to speak)
A monument. That's what the Irish peasants of Queenstown should
have. A monument. Never slept, some of them. Wrapped the soaking
woman in their shawls--and the little children. Took off their
wet things and gave them dry, warm ones. Fed them with broths they
cooked themselves. Spent their poor savings on brandy for them.
Stripped the clothes off their own backs for them to travel in when
they were well enough to go. And wouldn't take a thing. Great
people the Irish of Queenstown. Nothing much the matter with them.
A monument. That's what they should have. And poetry.
(Thinks for a while, then goes on)
Laid out the bodies too; just as reverently as if they were their
own people. They laid her out. And prayed over her. And watched
with me over her until she was put into the--. Such a tiny shell
it was, too. She had no father or mother or brother or sisters.
I was all she had. That's why I buried her here. Kensal Green.
She'll rest easy there.
(He walks about distractedly. Suddenly he stops and with his hands
extended upwards as if in prayer, he cries)
Out of my depths I cry to Thee. I call on you to curse them.
Curse the Prussian brutes made in Your likeness, but with hearts
as the lowest of beasts. Curse them. May their hopes wither. May
everything they set their hearts on rot. Send them pestilence,
disease and every foul torture they have visited on Your people.
Send the Angel of Death to rid the earth of them. May their souls
burn in hell for all eternity.
(Quickly to Dartrey)
and if there is a god they will. But is there a good God that such
things can be and yet no sign from Him? Listen. I didn't believe
in war. I reasoned against it. I shouted for Peace. And thousands of
cravens like me. I thought God was using this universal slaughter
for a purpose. When His end was accomplished He would cry to
the warring peoples "Stop!" It was His will, I thought, that out
of much evil might come permanent good. That was my faith. It
has gone. How can there be a good God to look down on His people
tortured and maimed and butchered? The women whose lives were devoted
to Him, defiled. His temples looted, filled with the filth of the
soldiery, and then destroyed. And yet no sign. Oh, no. My faith
is gone. Now I want to murder and torture and massacre the foul
brutes.... I'm going out, Dartrey. In any way. Just a private.
I'll dig, carry my load, eat their rations. Vermin: mud: ache
in the cold and scorch in the heat. I will welcome it. Anything
to stop the gnawing here, and the throbbing here.
(Beating at his head and heart)
Anything to find vent for my hatred.
(Moving restlessly about)
I'm going through Ireland first. Every town and village. It's
our work now. It's Irishmen's work. All the Catholics will be in
now. No more "conscientious-objecting." They can't. It's a war
on women and little children. All right. No Irish-Catholic will
rest easy; eat, sleep and go his days round after this. The call
has gone out. America too. She'll come in. You watch. She can't
stay out. She's founded on Liberty. She'll fight for it. You
see. It's clean against unclean. Red blood against black filth.
Carrion. Beasts. Swine.
(Drops into a chair mumbling incoherently. Takes a long breath;
looks at Dartrey)
I'm selling out everything back home.
I'm not going back. I'm bringing everything over here. England,
France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia--they can have it. All of it.
They've suffered. Only now do I know how much. Only now.
(Fiercely) I want to tear them--tear them as they've torn me. As
they mangled her.
(Grits his teeth and claws with his fingers) Tear them--that's
what I want to do. May I live to do it. May the war never end
until every dirty Prussian is rotting in his grave. Then a quick
end for me, too. I've nothing now. Nothing.
(Gets up again wearily and dejectedly; all the blazing passion
burnt out momentarily)
This was to have been my wedding-day; our wedding-day. Now she's
lying there, done to death by Huns. A few days ago all youth and
freshness and courage and love. Lying disfigured in her little coffin.
I know what you meant now by wanting to go back for a third time.
I couldn't understand it the other day. It seemed that every one
should hate war. But you've seen them. You know them. And you
want to destroy them. That's it. Destroy.... The call is all
over the world by now. Civilization will be in arms.... To hell
with your Pacifists. It's another name for cowards. They'd lose
those nearest them: the honor of their women; the liberty of their
people--and never strike a blow. To hell with them. It's where
they should be. I was one of them. No more. Wherever I meet them
I'll spit in their faces. They disgrace the women they were born
of; the country they claim.... To hell with them.
(Tries to soothe him) You must try and get some grip on yourself.
(His fingers ceaselessly locking and unlocking) I'll be all right.
It's a relief to talk to you. (Sees the preparations for Dartrey's
departure) Are you off?
I envy you now. I wish I were going. But I will soon. Ireland
first. I must have my say there. What will the "Sinn Feiners"
say to the LUSITANIA murder? I want to meet some of them. What
are our wrongs of generations to this horror? All humanity is at
stake here. I'll talk to them. I must. They'll have to do something
now or go down branded through the generations as Pro-German. Can
a man have a worse epitaph? No decent Irishman will bear that;
every loyal Irishman must loathe them.... I'll talk to them--soul
to soul.... Sorry, Dartrey. You have your own sorrow.... Good
of you to put up with me. Now I'll go....
(Goes to the door, stops, takes out wallet)
Just one thing. If it won't bother you.
(Tapping some papers)
I've mentioned you here.... If I don't come through--see to a few
things for me. Will you? They're not much. Will you?
Of course I will.
(Simply) Thank you. You've always been decent to me.... Dartrey.
To-day! You would have been my best man--and she's--
(Shaking him by the shoulders) Come, my man. Pull up.
I will. I'll be all right. In a little while I'll be along out
there. I hope I server under you. (Grips his hand) Good-by.
Keep in touch with me.
(Passes out, opens and closes the outer door behind him and disappears
in the street. Dartrey resumes his preparations)
The End of the Play
[signed]J. Hartley Manners
For the third time in history it has fallen to the lot of France to
stem the Barbarian tide. Once before upon the Marne, Aetius with
a Gallic Army stopped the Hun under Attila. Three hundred years
later Charles Martel at Tours saved Europe from becoming Saracen,
just as in September, 1914, more than eleven centuries later,
General Joffre with the citizen soldiery of France upon that same
Marne saved Europe from the heel of the Prussianized Teuton, the
reign of brute force and the religion of the Moloch State. These
were among the world's "check battles." Yet the flood of barbarism
was only checked at the Marne, not broken; again the flood arose
and pressed on to be stopped once more at Verdun--the Gateway of
France--in the greatest of human conflicts yet seen.
America was a spectator, but not an indifferent one. Once again
mere momentary material interest counseled abstention; precedent
was invoked to justify isolation and indifference. The timid,
the ignorant, the disloyal, those to whom physical life was more
precious than the dictates of conscience, counseled "peace and
prosperity." Many began to wonder if America had a soul and was
indeed worth saving as the policy of "Terrorism" on land followed
that of "Terrorism" on the high seas seemed to leave us indifferent.
Yet the same spirit, as of yore, dominated the nation. The people
of America at last understood that it was not any particular rule
of law, but the existence of law itself, divine and human, that
was involved in the Fate of France.
The task confronting this nation is a stupendous one. Let there
be no illusion. The war may well be long and painful, beyond
expression, but the past few weeks have taught us that the nation
will bear the strain with that same courage and enduring perseverance
as in the past, following the example of the Fathers and inspired by
the traditions of the American Revolution, this people will stand
like a stone wall with our splendid Ally of old and of to-day--France--and
from Great Britain from whence came our institutions, to end forever
the Hohenzollern system of blood and iron so that a better future
may come to Europe and America, one in which peace may be builded upon
a guaranty of justice and law--a world order in which fundamental
moral postulates and human rights may never again be set at defiance at
the behest of mere material force, however scientifically organized.
To France has fallen the honor of checking, to Britain the burden
of containing by sea and land, to America now comes the duty of
finally overthrowing that common enemy of democratic institutions
and ordered liberty, the foe whose morality knows no truth, whose
philosophy admits no check upon the "will to power."
In France the traveler passing along the roads to the northeast
leading to Lorraine may see at every cross-road a great index
finger pointing to the single word VERDUN. To many thousands,
nay, hundreds of thousands of men passing over these roads in the
five fateful months of critical battle, these six letters spelled
mutilation and death, yet the word was an inspiration to heroism
in every home of France, and from every corner of the land men
followed that great index finger pointing, as it did indeed, to
the modern Calvary.
To-day at every cross-road must we here in America set up a great
index hand with the words "TO FRANCE." To France, land of suffering
humanity, in whose devastated fields again must be saved the same
principles for which Americans fought at Bunker Hill, at Saratoga,
at Yorktown, at Gettysburg and in the Wilderness; to France, where
the fate of the world is still pending; to France, which has again
checked the Huns of the modern world as it did those of the ancient;
to France, the manhood of this nation must now be directed, to
save the heritage of the American Revolution and the Civil War, to
preserve the dearest conquests of the Christian civilization; to
France will our men go by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, if
need be by the million, to prove that the soul of America is more
completely intent upon battling for the right than ever before,
intent that slavery in another but far subtler and more dangerous
form may not prevail upon the earth.
It was Washington who gave as the watchword of the day in those
soul-trying hours that preceded the birth of our nation the immortal
and prophetic phrase, "America and France--United Forever."
[signed]Frederick Coudert THE END.
Ce Que Disent Nos Morts
Il n'est pas besoin de rappeler le souvenir de ceux qui nous furent
chers et ne sont plus, à notre peuple qui passe, non sans raison,
pour célébrer avec ferveur le culte des morts. N'est-ce pas
en France, au dix-neuvième siècle, qu'est née cette philosophie
qui met au rang des premiers devoirs de l'homme la reconnaissance
envers les générations qui nous ont précédés dans la tombe, en nous
laissant le fruit de leurs pensées et de leurs travaux? Certes la
religion des ancêtres est de tous les temps et de tous les climats;
elle est même chez certains peuples orientaux la religion unique;
mais en quel pas les liens entre les morts et les vivants sont-ils
plus forts qu'en France, les deuils plus solennels à la fois et plus
intimes? Chez nous, d'ordinaire, les defunts aimés et vénérés ne
quittent pas tout entiers le foyer où ils vécu; ils y respirent
dans le coeur de ceux qui demeurent; ils y sont imités, consultés,
Je me rappelle trop confusément pour en faire usage ici une scène
très belle d'une vieille chanson de geste, GIRART DE ROUSILLON,
je crois, où l'on voit une fille de roi contempler, la nuit, après
une bataille, la plaine où gisent les guerriers innombrables tomber
pour sa querelle. "Elle eut voulu, dit le poète, les embrasser
tous." Et, du fond de mes très lointains souvenirs, cette royale
fille m'apparait comme une image de notre France pleurant aujourd'hui
la fleur de sa race abondamment moissonnée.
Aussi n'est-ce pas pour exhorter mes concitoyens à commemorer en ce
jour nos morts selon un usage immémorial, que j'écris ces lignes,
mais pour honorer avec notre peuple tout entier ceux qui lui ont
sacrifié leur vie at pour mediter la leçon qu'ils nous donnent du
fond de leur demeures profondes.
Et tout d'abord, à la mémoire des notres, associons pieusement la
mémoire des braves qui ont versé leur sang sous tous les étendards
de l'Alliance, depuis les canaux de l'Yser jusqu'aux rives de la
Vistule, depuis les montagnes du Frioul jusqu'aux défiles de la
Morava, et sur les vastes mers.
Puis, offrons les fleurs les plus nobles palmes aux innocentes
victimes d'une atroce cruauté, aux femmes, aux enfants martyrs, à
cette jeune infirmière anglaise, coupable seulement de générosité
et dont l'assassinat a soulevé d'indignation tout l'univers.
Et nos morts, nos morts bien aimés! Que la patrie reconnaissante
ouvre assez grand son coeur pour les contenir tous, les plus humbles
comme les plus illustrés, les héros tombés avec gloire à qui l'on
prepare des monuments de marbre et de bronze et qui vivront dans
l'histoire, et les simples qui rendirent leur dernier souffle en
pensant au champ paternel.
Que tous ceux dont le sang coula pour la patrie soient bénis!
Ils n'ont pas fait en vain le sacrifice de leur vie. Glorieusement
frappés en Artois, en Champagne, en Argonne, ils ont arrêté l'envahisseur
qui n'a pu faire un pas de plus en avant sur la terre sacrée qui
les recouvre. Quelques-uns les pleurent, tous les admirent, plus
d'un les envie. Ecoutons les. Tendons l'oreille: ils parlent.
Penchons-nous sur cette terre bouleversée par la mitraille où
beaucoup d'entre eux dorment dans leurs vêtements ensanglantés.
Agenouillons-nous dans le cimetière, au bords des tombes fleuries
de ceux qui sont revenus dans le doux pays, et là, entendons le
souffle imperceptible et puissant qu'ils mêlent, la nuit, au murmure
du vent et au bruissement des feuilles qui tombent. Efforçons-nous
de comprendre leur parole sainte. Ils disent:
FRERES, vivez, combattez, achevez notre ouvrage. Apportez la victoire
et la paix à nos ombres consolées. Chassez l'étranger qui a deja
reculé devant nous, et ramenez vos charrues dans les champs qui
nous avons imbibés de notre sang.
Ainsi parlent nos morts. Et ils disent encore:
FRANÇAIS, aimez-vous les uns les autres d'un amour fraternal et,
pour prevaloir contre l'ennemi, mettez en commun vos biens et vos
pensées. Que parmi vous les plus grands et les plus forts soient
les serviteurs des faibles. Ne marchandez pas plus vos richesses
que votre sang à la patrie. Soyez tous égaux par la bonne volonté.
Vous le devez à vos morts.
VOUS nous devez d'assurer, à notre exemple, par le sacrifice de
vous-mêmes, le triomphe de la plus sainte des causes. Frères, pour
payer votre dette envers nous, il vous faut vaincre, et il vous
faut faire plus encore: il vois faut mériter de vaincre.
Nos morts nous ordonnent de vivre et de combattre en citoyens d'un
peuple libre, de marcher résolument dans l'ouragan de fer vers la
paix qui se levera comme une belle aurore sur l'Europe affranchie
des menaces de ses tyrans, et verra renaître, faibles et timides
encore, la JUSTICE et L'HUMANITE étouffées par le crime de l'Allemagne.
Voila ce qu'inspirent nos morts à un Français que le détachement
des vanités et le progrès de l'age rapprochent d'eux.
What our Dead Say to Us
There is no need to recall to the minds of our people those who
were dear to us and have passed hence, for they are celebrating--and
with good cause--the anniversaries of their deaths. Was it not in
France, in the 19th century, that there was born that philosophy
which placed in the rank of the foremost duties of mankind gratitude
towards those generations who have preceded us to the grave, and
have left us the fruits of their thoughts and of their labors?
Indeed, ancestral worship prevails in all climes and at all periods;
in fact, with certain Oriental nations it is the only religion.
But in what country is the link between the dead and the living
so strong as it is in France--the rites at the same time so solemn
and so intimate? With us, as a rule, our dead, beloved and venerated,
never entirely depart from the homes in which they have dwelt, but
take up their abode in the hearts of the living who imitate them,
consult them, pay heed to them.
I recollect, too vaguely to make full use of it here, a beautiful
scene from the heroic song, "Girart de Roussillon," I think it
is, where one is shown a king's daughter, one night after a battle
gazing across the battlefield where lay the innumerable warriors
who had fallen in the fight. "She felt a desire," said the poet,
"to embrace them all." And from the depths of my far-away memories
this apparition of the daughter of a royal house arises before me
as an image of our France to-day, weeping for the flower of our
race so abundantly cut down.
My object in writing these lines is not to exhort my fellow-citizens
to commemorate to-day our noble dead, according to immemorial
custom, but to honor as a united people those who have sacrificed
their lives for their country and to meditate upon the lesson that
comes to us from their scattered burial places.
First, with the memory of our own, let us with all piety associate
the memory of those brave ones who have shed their blood under all
the Allies' standards, from the streams of the Yser to the banks
of the Vistule; from the mountains of Frioul to the defiles of
Morava, and on the vast seas.
Then, let us offer our choicest flowers of memory to the innocent
victims of an atrocious cruelty, to the women, the child martyrs,
to that young English nurse, guilty only of generosity, whose
assassination aroused the indignation of the entire universe.
And our dead, our beloved dead! May a grateful country open wide
enough its great heart to contain them all, the humblest as well
as the most illustrious, the heroes fallen with glory to whom
have been erected monuments of bronze and marble, who will live in
history, and those simple ones who drew their last breath thinking
of the green fields of home.
Blessed be all those whose blood has been shed for their country!
Not in vain have they sacrificed their lives. At the glorious
encounter at Artois, Champagne, and Argonne they repulsed the
invader who could not advance one step farther on the ground made
sacred by their fallen bodies. Some weep for them, all admire them,
more than one envies them. Let us listen to them. They speak.
Let us make every effort to hear them. Let us prostrate ourselves
on this ground, torn up by shot and shell, where many of them sleep
in their blood-dyed garments. Let us kneel in the cemetery at the
foot of the flower-strewn graves of those who were brought back to
their country, and there listen to the whispers, scarcely audible
but powerful, which mingle through the night with the murmur of
the breeze and the rustle of the falling leaves. Let us make every
effort to understand their inspired words. They say:
BROTHERS, live, fight, accomplish our work. Win victory and peace
for the sake of your dead. Drive out the intruder who has already
retreated before us, and bring back your plows into the fields now
saturated with our blood.
Thus speak our dead. And they say, further:
FRENCHMEN, love one another with brotherly love, and, in order
that you may prevail against the enemy, put into common use your
possessions and your ideas. Let the greatest and strongest among
you serve the weak. Be as willing to give your money as your blood
for your country. Be willing that perfect equality shall exist
amongst you. You owe this to your dead. Because of our example,
you owe us the assurance that by your self-sacrifice ours will be
the triumph in this holiest of all causes. Brothers, in order to
pay your debt to us you must conquer, and you must do still more:
you must deserve to conquer.
Our dead demand that we shall live and fight as citizens of a free
country; that we shall march resolutely through the hurricane of
steel toward Peace, which shall arise like a beautiful aurora over
Europe freed from the menace of her tyrants, and shall see reborn,
though weak and timid, Justice and Humanity, for the time being
crushed through the crime of Germany.
Thus are the French, detached from the vanities and progress of
the age, drawn nearer to our dead and inspired by them.
Anatole France Translation by E. M. Pope.
Poetical version of Sully Prud'homme's "Les Berceaux"
The long tide lifts each might boat Asleep and nodding on the dock,
Of the little cradles they take no note Which the tender-hearted
But time brings round the Day of Good-Byes For it's women's fate
to weep and endure, While curious men attempt the skies And follow
wherever horizons lure.
Yet the mighty boats on that morning tide When they flee away
from the dwindling lands Will feel the clutch of mother hands And
the soul of the far-off cradleside.
La Prière Du Poilu
(Written in the Trenches, before Verdun, December, 1915)
Et alors, le poilu, levant la tête derrière son parapet, se mit,
dans la nuit froide de décembre, à fixer une étoile qui brillait au
ciel d'un feu étrange. Son cerveau commença à remeur de lointaines
pensées; son coeur se fit plus léger, comme s'il voulait monter
vers l'astre; ses lèvres frémirent doucement pour laisser passer
"O Etoile, murmura-t-il, je n'ai pas besoin de ta lueur, car je
connais ma route! Elle a pu me paraitre sombre au début, quand mes
yeux n'étaient point accoutumés à ses rudes contours; mais, depuis
un an, elle est pour moi éblouissante de clarté. On a beau me
l'allonger chaque jour, on n'arrivera pas à me l'obscurcir. On a
beau y multiplier les ronces et les pierres, après lesquelles je
laisse de ma chair et de mon sang, on n'arrivera pas à m'y arrêter.
Je sais que j'irai jusqu'au bout. Je vois devant moi la victoire....
Mais, là-bas, derrière moi, il y a une foule qui parfois s'inquiète
dans les ténèbres. Au moment où la vieille anné va tourner sur ses
gonds vermoulus, elle repasse en son esprit agité les évènements
qui la marquèrent. Elle songe aux peuplades barbares d'Orient que
le Germain a entraînées derrière son char: Turcs et Bulgares, Kurdes
et Malissores, et elle oublie les grandes nations qui s'enrôlèrent
sous la bannière de la civilisation. Elle songe aux territoires
que foule la lorde botte tudesque, et elle oublie les empires que
nous détenons en gages: ici, l'ouest et l'est Africains, grands
comme quatre fois toute l'Allemagne, avec leurs 5000 kilomètres de
voies ferrées et leurs mines de diamants; là, ces îles d'Océanie et
cette forteresse d'Asie: Kiao-Tchéou, que le kaiser avait proclamé
la perle de ses colonies. Elle s'alarme de toutes les pailles que,
dans sa course désordonnée, ramasse l'Allemagne et ne voit pas les
poutres énormes qui soutiennent la France.... Nous autres, qui
sommes la poutre, nous savons mieux, nous voyons mieux.
"O Etoile, apprends à ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchée la
"Le passé est là qui enseigne l'avenir. Chaque fois qu'une armée
quelconque, prise de la folie de l'espace, a voulu s'enfoncer dans
les terres lointaines et abandonner le berceau où elle puisait sa
force et ses vivres, elle est morte de langueur et d'épuisement,
elle s'est éffritée comme la pierre qu'on arrache de l'assemblage
solide des maisons, elle n'est pas plus revenue que ne reviennent
les grains de poussière qu'emporte le vent.... Voici plus d'un
siècle que des légions ont tenté la conquète de l'Egypte et ces
légions étaient les plus magnifiques du monde. Elles avaient des
chefs qui s'appelaient Desaix, Kléber et Bonaparte; mais elles
n'avaient pas la maitrise de la mer et rien ne revint des sables
brulants du désert. Voici un siècle aussi qu'une armée la plus
formidable d'Europe, conduite par le plus fameux conquérant qu'ait
connu l'univers, tenta de submerger l'immense empire russe; mais
l'empire était trop grand pour la grande armée et rien ne revint
des solitudes glacées de la steppe.... Puisse, de même, aller
loin, toujours plus loin, l'armée allemande déjà décimée, haletante,
épuisée! Puisse-t-elle pousser jusqu'au Tigre, jusqu'à l'Euphrate,
"O Etoile, apprends à ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchée,
"Certes ces nuits d'hiver sont longues. Et tous tes scintillements,
Etoile, ne valent pas le sourire de la femme aimée au logis.
Cependant, tu as quelque chose de la femme, puisque tant d'hommes
te suivent aveuglément: tu en as la grâce et l'éclat; et toi, au
moins, nul couturier boche ne t'habilla jamais!... Tu possèdes
même des vertus que ne possède pas toujours la femme: tu as la
patience et le calme. Les nuages ont beau s'interposer entre tes
adorateurs et toi, l'aurore a beau chaque matin éteindre tes feux,
tu t'inclines devant la loi suprême de la nature et nulle révolte
ne vint jamais de toi.... Tâche d'inspirer ta soumission à tes
soeurs terrestres qui, dans les villes, attendent le retour des
"O Etoile, apprends à celles qui ne sont pas dans les tranchées,
"Que tous, que toutes sachent qu'il y a quelque chose au-dessus
du Nombre, au-dessus de la Force, au-dessus même du Courage: et
c'est la Persévérance.... Il y eut, une fois, un match de lutte
qui restera à jamais célèbre dans l'histoire du sport: celui de
Sam Mac Vea contre Joe Jeannette. Le premier, trapu, massif, tout
en muscles: un colosse noir du plus beau noir. Le second, plus
léger, plus harmonieux, tout en nerfs: un métis jaune du plus beau
cuivre. Le combat fut épique: il se poursuivit pendant quarantedeux
rounds et dura trois heures. Au troisième round, puis au septième,
Sam Mac Vea jetait Joe Jeannette à terre et sa victoire ne paraissait
plus faire de doute. Cependant, Joe Jeannette peu à peu revint à
la vie, se cramponna, se défendit, vécut sur ses nerfs, puis attaqua
à son tour. Au quarante-deuxième round, épaule contre épaule,
haletants, ruisselants de sang, ils se portaient les derniers coups;
mais le ressort de Sam Mac Vea était cassé et, devant l'assurance
de son adversaire, il se sentit vaincu... Alors on vit le grand
géant noir lever les bras et s'écrouler en disant: I GUESS I CAN
NOT.... (Je crois que je ne peux pas...) Ainsi, bientôt peut-être,
verrons-nous s'écrouler l'Allemagne, en avouant: "Je ne peux
"O Etoile, apprends à ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchée, la
The Prayer of "Le Poilu"
Then "Le Poilu" standing, in the cold December night, behind
the breastworks, fixed his gaze upon a star that was shining with
a strange brilliance in the sky above. His mind was stirred with
thoughts of far away things. His heart grew lighter, as though it
yearned to reach the star; his lips trembled, and softly he breathed
"O Star," he murmured, "I need not thy glimmering light, for I
know my way. The road may have appeared dark at first when my eyes
were unaccustomed to its sharp turns, but for a year it has been
divinely illumined for me. Even if it grew longer each day, it will
never seem dark again. Although torn by thorns and cut by stones,
nothing can make me turn back. I know that I shall go on, steadfast
to the end. I behold before me Victory.... But there,--behind
me, is a multitude sorely troubled in the darkness.
"Now, as the old year revolves on its rusty hinges, those who wait
at home live over in their troubled hearts the events which marked
its passing. They think of the barbarous hordes of the Orient
which the German has caught in his train; Turks and Bulgarians,
Kurds and Malissores, and they overlook the great nations enrolled
under the banner of civilization. They brood over lands ground
under the iron heel of the Teuton and overlook the Empires that we
hold; here, West and East Africa, four times as large as all Germany,
with their thousands of miles of railroads and their diamond mines;
there, the Islands of Oceania and the fortress of Asia: Kiao-Tcheou,
which the Kaiser has proclaimed the pearl of his colonies. They
are alarmed at the chaff that Germany gathers in her lawless course
and they do not see the mighty girders that stay France. But we
who are the girders, we know better, we see farther.
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... Confidence!
"By the light of the past we behold the future. Whenever an army,
seized with the frenzy of conquest, has forced its way into a far
land, abandoning the cradle whence it drew its life and strength,
it has wasted away, it has perished from utter exhaustion. Like
stones loosened from a solid wall, it has disintegrated. Like the
grain of dust which the wind has blow away, it has vanished never
"More than a century ago legions attempted the conquest of Egypt.
They were the most magnificent in the world. Their chiefs bore
the names of Desaix, Kleber and Bonaparte. But they had not the
mastery of the seas, and returned not from the burning sands of the
desert.... Think also of the time when the most formidable army
of Europe, led by the greatest conqueror the world has ever known,
tried to overwhelm the vast Russian Empire. But the empire was
mightier than the Great Army, and it returned not from the glacial
solitude of the steppes.... So let it go far, ever farther on,
that German army already decimated, panting, exhausted; let it
reach the Tigris, the Euphrates, even far off India! It will not
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... History!
"Truly the winter nights are long, and all the rays, O Star, are
not worth the smile of the loved woman at the hearth. And yet,
thou hast something of woman, since so many men follow thee blindly:
thou hast her grace and splendor. [No German couturier will ever
clothe you!] Thou hast even virtues that women do not possess,
for thou art patient and calm. Clouds come between thy worshipers
and thee, dawn each morning extinguishes thy light, yet dost thou
bow before the supreme law of nature without a murmur. I pray
thee inspire with submission thy sisters of the earth; teach them
calmly and patiently to await the return of their warriors.
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... Discipline!
"Would that all men, that all women might know that there is
something above Numbers, above Force, above even Courage, and that
is PERSEVERANCE! A few years ago there was a boxing match between
Sam Mac Vea and Joe Jeannette that will remain famous in the history
of the sport. Mac Vea was a heavy weight, strong, all muscle: a
veritable black giant. Joe Jeannette, light, well proportioned,
all nerve: a mongrel of the best sort. The match was epic. It
went on for forty-two rounds and lasted three hours. At the third
round, and again in the seventh, Sam Mac Vea threw Joe Jeannette,
and his victory seemed assured. But little by little Joe Jeannette
revived, pulled himself together, defended himself, and through
sheer nerve, began to attack. At the forty-second round, shoulder
to shoulder, panting, dripping wet and covered with blood they
struck the last blow. The resources of Sam Mac Vea were exhausted,
and through the very assurance of his adversary he felt himself
beaten.... Suddenly the great giant lifted his arms and gave way,
saying: 'I guess I cannot.'...
"Thus shall we soon see Germany fall to the earth, saying brokenly,
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches...to be game!"
Translation by Madame Carlo Polifème.
A Tribute to England
It may be said of this war, as the master mind of all the ages said
of adversity, that "its uses are sweet," even though they be as a
precious jewel shining in the head of an ugly and venomous toad.
While the world-war has brutalized men, it has as a moral paradox
added immeasurably to the sum of human nobility. Its epic grandeur
is only beginning to reveal itself, and in it the human soul has
reached the high water marker of courage and honor.
The war has enriched our language with many new expressions, but
none more beautiful than that of "Somewhere in France." To all noble
minds, while it sounds the abysmal depths of tragic suffering, it
rises to the sublimest heights of heroic self-sacrifice.
The world has paid its tribute to the immortal valor of France,
and no words could pay the debt of appreciation which civilization
owes to this heroic nation; but has there been due recognition of
the equal valor and the like spirit of self-sacrifice which has
characterized Great Britain in this titanic struggle?
When the frontier of Belgium was crossed, England staked the existence
of its great empire upon the issue of the uncertain struggle. It
had, as figures go in this war, only a small army. If it had been
niggardly in its effort to defend Belgium, and save France in her
hour of supreme peril, England might have said, without violating
any express obligation arising under the ENTENTE CORDIALE, that
in giving its incomparable fleet it had rendered all the service
that its political interests, according to former standards of
expediency, justified; and it could have been plausibly suggested
that the ordinary considerations of prudence and the instinct of
self-preservation required it, in the face of the deadly assault
by the greatest military power in the world, to reserve its little
army for the defense of its own soil. England never hesitated, when
the Belgian frontier was crossed, but moved with such extraordinary
speed that within four days after its declaration of war its
standing army was crossing the channel, and within a fortnight it
had landed upon French soil the two army corps which constituted
the backbone of her military power.
What follows will be remembered with admiration and gratitude
by the English speaking races as long as they endure, for nothing
in the history of that race is finer than the way in which the so
called "contemptible little British Army," as the Kaiser somewhat
prematurely called it--outnumbered four to one, and with an even
greater disproportion in artillery--withstood the powerful legions
of Von Kluck at Mons. Enveloped on both flanks they stood as a
stone wall for three days against an assault of one of the mightiest
armies in recorded history, and only retreated when ordered to do
so by the high command of the Allied forces in order to conform to
its strategic plans. The English were not defeated at Mons. It
was a victory, both in a technical and moral sense.
The retreat from Mons to the Marne was one of terrible hardship
and imminent danger. For nearly fourteen days, in obedience to
orders, the British soldiers,--fighting terrific rear guard actions,
which, in retarding the invaders, made possible the ultimate
victory,--slowly retreated, never losing their morale, although
suffering untold physical hardships and the greater agony of temporary
defeats, which they could not at that time understand, and yet it
is to their undying credit, in common with their brave comrades
of the French Army, that when the moment came to cease the retreat
and to turn upon a foe, which flushed with unprecedented victory
still greatly outnumbered the retreating armies, the British soldier
struck back with almost undiminished power. The "miracle of the
Marne" is due to Tommy Atkins as well as to the French Poilu.
Even more wonderful was the defense of Ypres. There was a time in
the first battle of Ypres when the British high command, denuded
of shells, were allotting among their commands, then engaged in a
life-and-death struggle, ammunition which had not yet left England.
So terribly was the "first seven divisions" of glorious memory
decimated in this first battle of Ypres, that at a critical time,
the bakers, cobblers and grooms were put into the trenches to fill
the gaps made by the slain soldiers in that great charnel house.
The "thin red line" held back--not for days, but for weeks,--an
immensely superior force, and the soldiers of England unflinchingly
bared their breasts to the most destructive artillery-fire that
the world at that time had ever known. They held their ground and
saved the day, and the glory of the first and second battles of
Ypres, which saved Calais, and possibly the war itself, will ever
be that of the British Army.
Over four million Britons have volunteered in the war, and although
very few of them had ever had an previous military experience, yet
their stamina and unconquerable courage were such that the youth
of the great Empire, on more than one occasion, when called upon,
as on the Somme, to attack as well as defend, swept the famed Prussian
guard out of seemingly impregnable positions, as for example at
Will the world ever forget the children of the Mother Empire who
came so freely and nobly from far distant Canada, who wrenched Vimy
and Messines ridges from a powerful foe?
I hear still the tramp of marching thousands in the first days of
the war, as they passed through the streets of Winchester en route
to France via Southampton, singing with cheer and joy, "It is a
long way to Tipperary." Alas! It is indeed a "long, long way,"
and many a gallant English boy has fallen in that way of glory.
To-day, from the Channel to the Vosges, there are hundreds of
thousands of graves where British soldiers keep the ghostly bivouac
of the dead. They gave their young lives on the soil of France to
save France, and when the great result is finally accomplished, a
grateful world will never forget that "fidelity even unto death" of
the British soldier. Their place on Fame's eternal camping ground
What just man can fail to appreciate the work of the English
sailor? It has been said by Lord Curzon, that never has an English
mariner in this war refused to accept the arduous and most dangerous
service of patrolling the great highways of the deep. No soldier
can surpass in courage or fortitude the mine sweepers, who have
braved the elemental forces of nature, and the most cruel forces
of the Terror, which lurks under the seas.
The spirit of Nelson still inspires them, for every mariner of
England has done his duty in this greatest crisis of the modern
And how can words pay due tribute to the work and sacrifices of the
women and children of England? They have endured hardships with
masculine strength, and have accepted irreparable sacrifices with
When the three British cruisers were sunk early in the war by a
single submarine, and many thousand British sailors perished, the
news was conveyed to a seaport town in England, from which many of
them had been recruited, by posting upon a screen the names of the
pitifully few men who had survived that terrible disaster. Thousands
of women, the wives and daughters of those who had perished, waited
in the open square in the hope, in most cases in vain, to see the
name of some one who was dear to them posted among the survivors;
and yet when the last names of the rescued were finally posted, and
thousands of English women, there assembled, realized that those
who were nearest and dearest to them had perished beneath the waves,
these women of England, instead of lamentations or tears, in the
spirit of loftiest and most sacred patriotism united their voices
and sang "Britannia Rules the Waves," and re-affirmed their belief
that, notwithstanding all the powers of Hell, that "Britons never
would be slaves."
Who shall then question England's right to a conspicuous place in
this worldwide tournament of Fame? In all her past history, there
has never been any page more glorious. Without her, as without
France, civilization would have perished. To each nation be lasting
The spirit of Shakespeare has animated his people, and that mighty
spirit still says to them in his own flaming words---
"In God's name, cheerily on, courageous friends,
To reap the harvest of perpetual peace
By this one bloody trial of sharp war."
[signed]James M. Beck
Unity and Peace
Great Britain and the United States were politically separated
nearly a century and a half ago, because Britain was not in those
days governed by the will of the people as she has been for the
last eighty years and more. But the ideals of the two nations
have been for many generations substantially the same. Both have
loved Liberty ever since the time when their common ancestors
wrested it from feudal monarchs. A time has now come when both
nations are called to defend, and to extend in the world at large,
the freedom they won within their own countries. America has
harkened to the call. Renouncing her former isolation, she has
felt that duty to mankind requires her to contend in arms for the
freedom she has illustrated by her example. The soldiers of Britain
and France welcome the stalwart sons of America as their comrades
in this great struggle for Democracy and Humanity. With their help,
they look forward confidently to a decisive victory, a victory to
be followed by a lasting peace.
[caption under a picture] The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour
"Here was a great British statesman equal to his place and fame.
He will long be remembered in America. He has done a high service
to Great Britain and all democracies." -- New York Times (Editorial)
Our Common Heritage
Not very long ago I happened to be dining in The Savoy Restaurant
in London one evening at a table close to the screen, when suddenly
there was a stir. People looked away from their dinners. The band
abruptly stopped the air it was playing, and after an instant's
pause struck up another. Every one in the crowded restaurant stood
up. And then there came in slowly from the outer hall a procession
of serious looking men in uniform, who, walking in couples, made
their way to a large table almost in the middle of the room. They
gained their places. The air ceased. The new comers sat down.
And we all went on with our dinners and our interrupted conversations.
What did we talk about? Well, I will dare forswear that at
all the tables the same subject was discussed. And that subject
was--America. For the air we had heard was "The Star Spangled
Banner," and the men we had seen were General Pershing, commanding
the first American contingent to France, and his Staff, who had
landed that day in England. It was a great moment for Britishers,
and those of us who were there will probably never forget it. For
it meant the beginning of a New Era, and, let us hope, of a new
sympathy and a new understanding.
Since then we have learnt something of what America is doing. We
know that ten millions of men have registered as material
for the American army, that a gigantic aircraft scheme and a huge
shipbuilding program are in process of realization; that enormous
camps and cantonments have been established for the training of
officers and men, that American women have crossed the Atlantic,
in spite of the great danger from submarines, to act as nurses at
the front, that the regular army has been increased to thrice its
former size, that the volunteer militia has been doubled through
voluntary enlistment, and that an immense expenditure has been voted
for war purposes. We know all this and we are glad, and thankful
that hands have been held out to us across the sea.
True sympathy and true understanding are very rare in this world.
Even between individuals they are not easy to bring about, and
between nations they are practically unknown. Diversity of tongues
builds up walls between the peoples. But the Americans and the
British ought to learn to draw near to each other, and surely the
end of this war, whenever it comes, will find them more inclined
for true friendship, for frank understanding, than they have ever
been yet, less critical of national failings, less clearsighted
for national faults. The brotherhood of man, which the idealistic
Russian sighs for, may only be a far away dream, but the brotherhood
of those who speak one language, have one great aim, and fight
side by side for freedom against force, law against lawlessness,
justice against persecution, right against evil, is a reality, and
must surely endure long after the smoke of the world war has faded
into the blue sky of peace, and the roar of the guns has died away
into the silence of the dawn for which humanity is longing.
The happy warriors lead us. Let us follow them and we shall attain
a goodly heritage.
[signed] Robert Hichens.
The blow fell without warning, and a typewritten notice informed
the Poet that the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation required the
tiny, thread-bare chambers in Stafford's Inn, where he had lived
unobtrusively for seven happy, insolvent years.
"'There was no worth in the fashion; there was no wit in the
plan,'" murmured the Poet. The rooms were too small even for a
Deputy-Director-General, and he knew that not one of the
silk-stockinged, short-skirted, starling-voiced young women
with bare arms and regimental badges, who acted as secretaries to
Deputy-Director-Generals, would consent to walk up four flights
of creaking, uncarpeted stairs to the dusty sparrows' nest on the
housetop that was his home.
For a while he scented a vendetta, but--deleterious poetry apart--he
had injured no man, and the personnel of the Cabinet Committee was
as little known to him as his poetry to the Cabinet Committee. In
general, too, he was the object of a certain popularity and pitying
regard; the Millionaire sent him presents of superfluous game each
year, the Iron King invited him at short notice to make a fourteenth
at dinner and the Official Receiver unloaded six bottles of sample
port wine when the Poet succumbed to his annual bronchitis. Even
the notice of eviction was politely worded and regretful; it was
also uncompromising in spirit, and the Poet made his hurried way
to four house-agents. No sooner had he started his requirements
to be a bed-sitting-room (with use of bath) within the four-mile
radius than all four agents offered him a Tudor manor house in
Westmoreland; further, they refused to offer him anything else, but
on his own initiative he discovered a studio in Glebe Place and a
service-flat in Victoria Street.
"I saw in the paper that you'd been turned out," said the Millionaire
that night, when the Poet trudged home, footsore and fretful, to
find his chambers occupied by the Iron King, the Private Secretary,
the Lexicographer, the Military Attaché and their friends. "What
are you going to do about it?" he continued with the relentlessness
of a man who likes a prompt decision, even if it be a wrong one.
"You know nothing about business, I'm sure; leases, premiums,
insurance, all that sort of thing. You're in a hole; I don't see
what more there is to be said."
So far the Poet, his mind wavering wearily between Glebe Place and
Victoria Street, had said nothing; he turned silently to the Iron
King, wondering how, without being rude, to indicate his desire
"I saw rather a decent place that might suit you," drawled the
Private Secretary, smoothing a wrinkle out of his shapely silk
socks. "It's next to my Chief's in Belgrave Square. Of course,
I don't know what rent they want for it..."
The Iron King shook his head.
"He couldn't afford it," he said, speaking through and around and
over the Poet. "Now I'm told that there are some very comfortable
and cheap boarding-houses near Kensington Palace Gardens...."
The Poet drew the cork of a fresh bottle of whisky and collected
four unbroken tumblers, a pewter mug and two breakfast cups without
handles. As so often before, his destiny seemed to be slipping
out of his control into the hands of the practical, strong-voiced
men who filled his sitting-room to overflowing and would not
let him go to bed. The Military Attaché knew of a maisonnette in
Albemarle Street; the Official Receiver had been recently brought
into professional contact with a fine Georgian property in
Buckinghamshire, where they could all meet for a week-end game of
golf at Stoke Pogis. Somewhere in Chelsea--not Glebe Place--the
Lexicographer had seen just the thing, if only he could be quite
sure about the drains.... With loud cheerfulness they accepted
the Millionaire's postulate that the Poet knew nothing of business;
unselfishly they placed all their experience and preferences at
"Of course, there's the servant problem," an undistinguished voice
remarked two hours later; and the Poet, settling to an uneasy sleep
in his chair, mentally ruled out the Chelsea studio.
"The ordinary surveyor's no use," broke in the Lexicographer, pursuing
his own line of thought. "What you want is a drainage expert."
"I know these good, honest, middle-aged couples," cried the Iron
King with the bitterness of an oft-defrauded widower. "The woman
always drinks, and them man always steals the cigars..."
"I have nothing but gas in my place," said the decorous voice of
the Private Secretary, "and I have it on pretty good authority that
there'll be a great coal shortage this winter. I don't want that
to go any further, though..."
The Millionaire rose to his feet with a yawn.
"He must get an experienced woman-friend to help him with things
like carpets and curtains," he ordained with mellow benevolence.
"When my wife comes back from Wales.... How soon do you have to
turn out, Poet?"
The Poet woke with a start and looked at the clock. The time was
a quarter to two, and he still wanted to go to bed.
"Ten days," he murmured drowsily.
"Jove! You haven't much time," said the Millionaire. "Now, look
here; the one thing NOT to do is to be in a hurry. Any place you
take now will probably have to serve you for several years, and
you'll find moving a lot more expensive than you think. If you can
get some kind of shake-down for a few days,--" he turned expansively
to his friends--"we may be able to give you a few hints."
The Poet became suddenly wakeful and alert.
"Do I understand that you're offering me a bed until you find me
permanent quarters?" he enquired with slow precision.
"Er--yes," said the Millionaire a little blankly.
"Thank you," answered the Poet simply. "I say, d'you men mind if
I turn you out now? It's rather late, and I haven't been sleeping
A week later the Poet walked up Park Lane, followed by an elderly
man trundling two compressed cane trunks on a barrow with a loose
wheel. It was a radiant summer afternoon, and taxis stood idle in
long ranks, when they were not drawing in to the curb with winning
gestures. The Poet, however, wished to make his arrival dramatic,
and it was dramatic enough to make the Millionaire's butler direct
him to the tradesman's entrance, while the Millionaire, remembering
little but suspecting all, hurried away by a side door, leaving
a message that he was out of England for the duration of the war.
The lot fell on the Millionaire's wife to invent such excuses
as would rid the house of the Poet's presence before dinner. The
Millionaire's instincts were entirely hospitable, but that night's
party had been arranged for the entertainment and subsequent
destruction of four men with money to invest and, like the Poet,
"no knowledge of business, investments, all that sort of thing."
"No, we have not met before," explained the Poet coldly and
uncompromisingly, abandoning the rather gentle voice and caressing
manners which caused women to invite him to dinner when they could
think of no one else. "Your husband and one or two of our common
friends have kindly undertaken to find me new quarters, and I have
been invited to stay here until something suitable has been found."
There was silence for a few moments, and the Millionaire's wife looked
apprehensively at the clock, while the Poet laid the foundations
of a malignantly substantial tea.
"H-how far have you got at present?" she asked with an embarrassed
"Your husband told me to leave it to him," answered the Poet, "and
I've left it to him. There was a general feeling that I didn't
know what I wanted--house or flat, north or south of the Park, all
the rest of it--; they said there would be a scandal if I employed
a young maid, I couldn't afford two, and an old one would pawn my
clothes to buy gin. I am quoting your husband now; I know nothing
of business. Every one agreed, too, that I must have a drain of
some kind. Would you say it took long to find a bed-sitting room
with use of bath?"
The Millionaire's wife hurriedly pushed back her chair?
"My husband's going abroad for the duration of the war," she said
in loyal explanation, "but it's just possible that he hasn't started
The Millionaire, returning on tip-toe from the loft over the garage,
had sought asylum in the library, where he was smoking a cigar and
reading the evening paper. As his wife entered he looked up with
"How did you get rid of him?" he asked.
The Millionaire's wife pressed her hands to her temples.
"My dear! What HAVE you been promising him?" she cried.
The Millionaire swore softly, as the truth sank into his brain.
"Have another place laid for dinner," he ordered; "book two seats
for a music-hall and take him out to supper afterwards. I can't
afford to be disturbed to-night. To-morrow I must get in touch
with the Iron King.... I don't see what more there is to be said."
Four weeks later the Poet drove in a six-cylinder car from Park
Lane to Eaton Square on an indeterminate visit to the Iron King.
He was looking better for the month's good wine and food, in which
the Millionaire's house abounded; but now the Millionaire, who based
his fortune on knowing the right people in every walk of life, was
arranging to have his house taken over by the Red Cross authorities.
In a week's time the house was to be found unsuitable and restored
to him, but henceforth the Iron King was to have the honor of
entertaining the Poet.
"How you ever came to make such a promise!" wailed the Millionaire's
wife for the twentieth time, as they drove to Claridge's. "London's
so full that you might have known it's impossible to get ANYthing."
"I feel that we have exhausted this subject," answered the Millionaire
with the bruskness of a man whose nerves have worn thin; with the
menace, too, of one who, having divorced his first wife, would
divorce the second on small provocation.
The Iron King was not at home when the Poet arrived in Eaton Squire,
but a pretty, young secretary, cultured to the point of transforming
all her final "g's" into "k's" received him with every mark of
welcome. She admired the Iron King romantically and was in the
habit of writing his surname after her own Christian name to see
how the combination looked; and, when he had departed each morning
to contest his latest assessment for excess profits, she would wander
through the house, planning little changes in the arrangement of
the furniture and generally deploring the sober, colorless taste
of the first Iron Queen. So far her employer returned none of her
admiration. He addressed her loosely as "Miss--er" and forgot her
name; he never noticed what clothes she was wearing or the pretty
dimples that she made by holding down the inside flesh of her
cheeks between her eye-teeth; further, he criticized her spelling
spitefully and, on the occasion of the Millionaire's second marriage,
had dictated a savage half sheet beginning, "A young man may marry
once, as he may get drunk once, without the world thinking much
the worse of him; habitual intemperance is, on first principles,
to be deplored...."
The pretty young secretary knew from fiction and the drama that
the Iron King would never appreciate her until he stood in danger
of losing her. She welcomed the Poet as a foil and misquoted his
poetry twice before tea was over; then she invited him to accompany
her to a picture palace, but the Poet, once inside the citadel, was
reluctant to leave it until his position was more firmly established.
Scarcely entrenched at Claridge's, the Millionaire telephoned
derisively to the city, so that the Iron King returned home half an
hour before his usual time, prepared to deal with the Poet as he
dealt with querulous or inquisitive shareholders at General Meetings.
The Poet, however, was long and painfully accustomed to combat
with enraged editors and lost no time in assuming the offensive,
demanding indignantly in a high head-voice, before the Iron King
had crossed his own threshold, why no quarters had been found for
him and how much longer any one imagined that he would put up with
the indignity of being bandied from one wretched house to another.
The flushed cheeks and hysterical manner put the Iron King temporarily
out of countenance.
"My dear fellow!" he interrupted ingratiatingly.
"I'm not a business man," continued the Poet hotly. "You all of
you told me that, and I'm disposed to say: 'Thank God, I'm not.'"
The Iron King put his hat carefully out of reach and forced a smile.
"You mustn't take it like that, old chap," he said soothingly.
"I--we--all of us are doing our best. Now we won't bother about
dressing; let's go straight in and thrash the thing out over a
bottle of wine."
Instructing his butler very audibly to open a bottle of the
1906 Lanson, he slipped his arm through the Poet's and led him,
sullenly murmuring, into the dining-room. With the second bottle
of champagne, his guest ceased to be aggrieved and became quarrelsome;
when the port wine appeared, he had the Iron King cowed and broken
"If you find fault with everything, why do you come here, why stay
here?" complained the Iron King with a last flickering effort to
recover his independence.
"Why don't you find me some other place to go to, as you promised?"
the Poet retorted, as he made his way to the morning-room and sat
down to order a month's supply of underclothes from his hosier.
The Iron King always boasted that honesty was the best policy
and that he was invariably willing to put his cards on the table.
The Millionaire had once professed himself likely to be satisfied
if the Iron King would only remove the fifth ace from his sleeve,
and a certain coolness between the two men resulted. In general,
however, he had the reputation of a frank, bluff fellow.
On the morrow of the Poet's arrival, he remained in bed and announced in
the quavering pencil-strokes of a sick man, that he was suffering
from anthrax, which, he might add, was not only painful but
infectious. The Poet scrawled across one corner of the note that
anthrax was usually fatal, but that, as he himself had twice had
it, he would risk taking it a third time in order to be with his
friend. Thereupon the Iron King departed to the city, leaving the
Poet to dictate blank verse to the pretty young secretary, who curled
both feet round one leg of her chair, told him that she "loved his
potry more'n anythink she'd ever read" and asked how all the hard
words like "chrysoprase" and "asphdel" were spelt. That night a
telegram arrived shortly before dinner, and the Iron King announced
that the Ministry of Munitions was sending him to America to
stabilize iron prices.
"Why can't you finish one thing before starting another?" demanded
the Poet hectoringly. "You haven't YET found me any quarters, and
you call yourself a business man. I shall of course stay on here
till your return..."
The Iron King shook his head gravely.
"That's impossible," he interrupted. "My young secretary..."
"You must take her with you," answered the Poet obstinately.
The subject was not pursued, but at bed time the Iron King roundly
asked the Poet how much he would take to go away.
"I require a home," answered the Poet frigidly, remembering the
weary day spent by him in discovering the Glebe Place studio and
the weary night spent by the Iron King in recommending Kensington
boarding houses. "I do not want your money."
"We shan't fall out over a pound or two," urged the Iron King with
a meaning motion of the hand towards his breast pocket.
"A thing is either a promise or it is not a promise," replied the
Poet, as he turned on his heel. "I know nothing of business or
what people are pleased to term 'commercial morality.'"
Four weeks later the Poet left Eaton Square for the Private
Secretary's rooms in Bury Street. He looked thin and anemic after
his month of privations, for the Iron King, improving in morale
and recapturing something of the old strike-breaking spirit, had
counter-attacked on the third day of the Poet's visit. The chauffeur,
butler and two footmen, all of military age, had been claimed on
successive appeals as indispensable, but on their last appearance
at the Tribunal the Iron King had unprotestingly presented them
to the Army. This he followed by breakfasting in bed, lunching in
the city, dining at his club and leaving neither instructions nor
money for the maintenance of the household. For a time the Poet
was saved from the greater starvation by the care of the pretty
young secretary, but without an Iron King there was no need for a
foil. Sharp words were exchanged one morning over the propriety
of grounds in coffee; the pretty young secretary declared that she
would "have nothink more to do with him or his old potry"; and in
the afternoon he packed his trunks with his own hands and with his
own hands dragged them downstairs on to the pavement, leaving the
pretty young secretary biting viciously at the corner of a crumpled
handkerchief drenched in "White Rose."
The Private Secretary received him in a manner different from that
adopted by either the Millionaire or the Iron King. The two men
were of nearly the same age, but in a deferential, if mis-spent
life the Private Secretary had learned to be non-committal. Well
he knew that he had but one bedroom; well he knew that, on admitting
it, the Poet would claim it from him.
"A spare bed?" he echoed, when the Poet dragged his trunks into
the middle of a tiny sitting room. "Really, I have no statement
"At least you will not deny," said the Poet with truculent emphasis,
"that you undertook to find me suitable accommodation and to supply
me with a bed until it was found."
"I must refer you to the reply given to a similar question on the
twenty-third ultimo," answered the Private Secretary loftily. for
a rich reward he could not have said where he had been or what he
had done on the twenty-third ultimo, but to the Poet the reply was
new and disconcerting.
"Where's my flat anyway?" he pursued doggedly.
"I have no statement to make," reiterated the Private Secretary.
After an awkward silence, during which neither yielded an inch
of ground, the Poet dragged his trunks destructively downstairs
and drove to the flat of the Official Receiver. Glowing with the
consciousness of victory, the Private Secretary dressed for dinner
and started out to his club. His good-humor was impaired, when he
observed in his hall a pendant triangle of wall-paper flapping in
the draught of the open door through which the Poet had dragged
his trunks. Further on, the paint was scarred on the stairs, and
the carpet of the main hall was rucked and disordered; there was
also a lingering suggestion of escaping gas, and the Secretary
observed a bracket hanging at a bibulous angle.
"This," he murmured through grimly set teeth, "is sheer frightfulness."
Returning to his rooms, he drawled a friendly warning by telephone
to the Millionaire, who instantly gave orders that no one of any
sex or age was to be admitted. Next he called up the Iron King and
repeated the warning; then the Lexicographer, the Official Receiver
and the Military Attaché were similarly placed on their guard, and
there was nothing to do but to proceed to his belated dinner.
The Great War, which had converted staff officers into popular
preachers, novelists into strategical experts and everyone else
into a Minister of the Crown, had left the Poet (in name, at least)
a poet and in nothing else anything at all. He acted precisely
as the Private Secretary had intended him to act, driving first to
the Lexicographer's house, where he was greeted by a suspiciously
new "TO LET" board, and thence to the Official Receiver's flat,
where a typewritten card informed him that this bell was out of
order. Embarrassed but purposeful, he directed his four-wheeler to
Eaton Square, but the blinds were down, and a semblance of mourning
draped the Iron King's house. In Park Lane a twenty-yard expanse
of straw, nine inches thick, prayed silence for the Millionaire's
"I don't know where to go to next," murmured the Poet dejectedly.
"Well, I'm blest if I do," grumbled the driver. "And it's past my
tea-time. Doncher know where yer live?"
"Years ago I had rooms in Stafford's Inn," began the Poet. "Then
the Cabinet Committee..."
The cabman descended from his box for a heart to heart conversation.
"Now you look 'ere," he said. "I got a boy at 'ome the livin'
image of you..."
"But how nice!" interrupted the Poet, wondering apprehensively
whether an invitation was on its way to him.
The cabman sniffed.
"Not quite righ in 'is 'ead 'e ain't. THEREfore I don't want to
be 'arsh with yer. Jump inside, let me drive yer ter Stafford's
Inn, pay me me legal fare and a bob ter drink yer 'ealth--and
we'll say no more abaht it. If yer don't--" He made a threatening
gesture towards the Poet's precariously strapped trunks--"I'll
throw the blinkin' lot on ter the pivement, and yer can carry 'em
'ome on yer 'ead. See?"
"I couldn't, you know," objected the Poet gently.
"Jump inside," repeated the cabman.
One hope was as forlorn as another, and the Poet was too sick with
hunger to think of resistance. In time the four-wheeler rumbled
its way to think of resistance. In time the four-wheeler rumbled
its way to Stafford's Inn; in time and by force of habit the Poet
was mounting the bare, creaking, wooden stairs; in time he found
himself fitting his unsurrendered latch key into his abandoned
Beyond an eight week's layer of dust on chairs and table, the
threadbare rooms were little changed. A loaf of bread, green and
furred with mold, lay beside an empty marmalade pot from which a
cloud of flies emerged with angry buzzing; a breakfast cup without
a handle completed the furniture of the table, and in the rickety
armchair was an eight-week-old "Morning Post."
"The Cabinet Committee has neglected its opportunities," grumbled
the Poet, surveying with disfavor the dusty, derelict scene.
Then his eye was caught by a long envelope, thrust half-way under
the door, from the Cabinet Committee itself. An indecipherable
set of initials, later describing itself as his obedient servant,
was directed to inform him on a date two months earlier that it
had been decided not to requisition the offices and chambers of
Stafford's Inn. The formal notice was accordingly to be regarded
The Poet, who knew nothing of business, wrote instructing his
solicitors to claim for two months' disturbance from the Defense
of the Realm Commission on Losses and to include all legal costs
in the claim.
Three weeks later the Private Secretary was strolling across the
Horse Guard's Parade on his way to luncheon, when he caught sight
of the Poet. Since their last altercation his conscience had been
as uneasy as a Private Secretary's conscience can be, and he strove
to avoid the meeting. The Poet, however, was full of sunshine and
"I've not seen you for weeks!" he cried welcomingly. "How's everybody
and what's everybody doing? Is the Millionaire all right again?
I understand he's been ill."
The Private Secretary eyed his friend suspiciously.
"He has not left his house for three weeks," he answered.
"And the Iron King."
"He has not either."
The Poet's eyes lit up with dawning comprehension.
"What about the Lexicographer and the Official Receiver?" he asked.
"The same? What an infernal nuisance! I wanted to call round and
see whether they had got me a flat."
The Private Secretary shook his head.
"It's not the least use," he said emphatically. "None of them
has been outside his front door for three weeks, no one knows when
they'll come out again, no one is allowed inside. Last night I
had a box given me for the theater, and I tried to make up a party;
all their telephones were disconnected, and, when I drove round
in person, I couldn't even get the bell answered." He paused and
then enquired carelessly, "By the way, have you got into your new
quarters yet? They would be interested to know."
"I haven't got any new quarters," answered the Poet. "You remember
that you and the others were going to find them for me. I know
nothing of business--and I'm not likely to get new rooms until I
see the Millionaire and the Iron King."
At the steps of his club the Private Secretary paused, as though
wondering whether to say that the Poet was unlikely to see the
Iron King or the Millionaire until he had got his new rooms. This
prolonged voluntary self-internment was a source of inconvenience,
for in the peaceful days before the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation
had stepped in, there were pleasant parties in Eaton Square and
Park Lane. Now the Private Secretary was reduced to paying for
his own dinners more often than was agreeable. He said nothing,
however, for fear of concentrating the Poet's fire on himself.
"It must be simply wrecking their business," said the Poet to himself,
as he walked to Bedford Row to see how the claim for disturbance
was progressing. "It serves them right, though, for talking drains
when I wanted to go to bed."
The Spell of the Kilties
What made the crowds turn out in their applauding thousands in New
York, Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, and wherever the "Kilties" from
Canada appeared during their visit to the United States of America
on their British Recruiting Mission, during the summer of 1917?
Or why do the inhabitants of Paris single out the kilted regiments
when a March Past of the forces of the Allies is held on a National
Fete Day, and press upon the soldiers with showers of flowers and
tokens of admiration?
Is it simply because the dress worn is somewhat out of the
common, giving a touch of color to these gray times, and bringing
associations of days of old, as the men swing along, with a swish
of their kilts, to the skirl of the Pipes?
Or is there not a deeper meaning in this spontaneous welcome which
comes so evidently from the hearts of the onlookers, and one which
is reflected in the popularity of Colonel Walter Scott's New York
kilted Highlanders, and by the many find bodies of men turned
out--mostly at their own expense--by the Scottish Clan and Highland
Dress Associations, in various cities of the U. S. A.?
The truth is that deep down in the hearts of the majority of the
human race there exists a profound attachment to the ideals of
gallantry and chivalry which were nourished by the stories we loved
in childhood, and by the tales of Scottish prowess, in prose and
poetry, selected for the school-books in use by the children of
the English-speaking peoples.
Scotland has indeed been blessed by the possession of poets
and bards who have preserved her annals and sung the deeds of her
patriot heroes in so alluring a form, that her sons and daughters
are assured of a welcome in any part of the world, and start with
the great asset of being always expected to "make good" in every land
of their adoption. Wherever they may roam, we find them occupying
positions of influence, and still cherishing and promulgating the
traditions and customs of the Land of the Heather, which impel to
high thinking, resolute doing, and the upholding of old standards,
such as build up the lives both of individuals and of nations.
And thus, when the moment of emergency arrives when "to every
man and nation comes the moment to decide" you will find the men
and women of Scottish descent to the forefront in every fight for
liberty and righteousness in every part of the globe.
And in the midst of the clash and din of arms you will catch ever
and anon the sound of the up-lifting cadence of some grand old
Scottish Psalm tune, bringing comfort, and courage, and clam,--and
then the call of the Pipes, inspiring war-worn troops to accomplish
impossible tasks, such as the feats which have made the Gordon
Highlanders and their Pipers immortal--as at Dargai, and have brought
fresh glory to many a Scottish Regiment in this great war--aye,
and to many a regiment of brother Gaels from Ireland also, of whose
exploits we have heard as they rushed into the fray, preceded by
their Irish War-Pipes.
A few weeks ago, a young widow with her two months' old baby in
her arms, was following the remains of her husband to his warrior's
grave "somewhere in France." She was dry-eyed and rebellious in
her youthful despair, as she walked at the head of the sad little
procession of her husband's comrades;--and then the party met
a Highland Pipe Band, whose Pipe-Major, quick to understand the
situation, halted his men, wheeled them round, and gave the signal
to play the lovely Lament: "Lochaber no more!"
At the sound of the familiar strains the founts of sorrow were
unsealed, and weeping, but comforted, the child-wife mother was
able to commit her dead hero's dust to the grave in sure and certain
confidence of a glorious re-union, and turned to face life again
with his little son, with strength and faith renewed.
This is but a little incident, but it illustrates the hold that
the music of the Gael has on the hearts of its children, and of its
power to evoke memories and associations full of inspiration both
in joy and in sorrow.
AND IS NOT THIS THE INTERPERTATION OF THE SPELL OF THE "KILTIES"?
[signed] Lady Aberdeen and Temain
Sherston's Wedding Eve
In the gathering twilight a man stood at the eastern window of a
room which formed the top story of one of the houses in Peter the
Great Terrace--that survival from the early nineteenth century which
forms a kind of recess in the broad thoroughfare linking Waterloo
Bridge with the Strand. The man's name was Shirley Sherston, and
among the happy, prosperous few who are concerned with such things,
he was known for his fine, distinguished work in domestic architecture.
It was the evening of October 13, 1915, and Sherston was to be
Now, for what most people would have thought a puerile reason, that
with him 13 had always proved a luck number, he had much wished that
to-day should be his wedding day. And Helen Pomeroy, his future
wife, who never thought anything he did or desired to do puerile
or unreasonable, had been quite willing to fall in with his fancy.
The lucky day had actually been chosen. Then a tiresome woman, a
sister of Miss Pomeroy's mother, had said she could not be present
at the marriage if it took place on the thirteenth, as on that day
her son, who had been home on leave, was going back to the Front.
She had also pointed out quite unnecessarily, that 13 is an unlucky
Staring out into the darkness, Sherston's stormy, eager heart began
to quiver with longing, with regret, and with the half-painful
rapture of anticipation. He had suddenly visioned--and Sherston
was a man given to vivid visions--where he would have been now, at
this moment, had his marriage indeed taken place this morning. He
saw himself, on this beautiful starlit, moonless night, standing,
along with his dear love, on the platform of a medieval tower, which,
together with the picturesque farmhouse which had been tacked on to
the tower about a hundred years ago, rose, close to the seashore,
on a lonely stretch of the Sussex coast.
But what was not true tonight would be true to-morrow night,
twenty-four hours from now.
He had bought tower and house three years ago, and he had spent there
many happy holidays, boating and fishing, alone, or in company of
some man chum. Sherston had never thought to bring a woman there,
for the morrow's bridegroom, for some six to seven years past, had
had an impatient contempt for, as well as fear of, women.
Sherston was a widower, though he never used the word, even in his
innermost heart, for to him the term connoted something slightly
absurd, and he was sensitive to ridicule.
Very few of the people at preset acquainted with the brilliant,
pleasantly eccentric architect, knew that he had been married
before. But of course the handful of old Bohemian comrades whom
he had faithfully kept from out of the past, were well aware of
the fact. They were not likely to forget it either, for whenever
it was mentioned, each of them at once remembered that which at
the time it had happened, Sherston had every reason to tell rather
than to conceal, namely, that the woman who had been his wife had
gone down with the Titanic.
But how long ago that now seemed!
The outbreak of war, which caused so much unmerited misfortune to
English artists and their like, and which at one moment had threatened
to wreck his own successful opening career, had brought to Shirley
Sherston a piece of marvelous good fortune..
Early in the memorable August, 1914, at a time when the fabric of
his life and work seemed shattered, and when the lameness which
he had so triumphantly coped with during his grown up life as to
cause those about him scarcely to know it was there, made it out
of the question for him to respond to his country's first call for
men, the architect happened to run across James Pomeroy, a cultivated
millionaire with whom he had once had a slight business relation.
Acting on a kindly impulse which even now Mr. Pomeroy hardly knew
whether to remember with pleasure or regret, the older man had
pressed the younger to spend a week in a country house which he
had taken for the summer near London.
That was now fourteen months ago, but Sherston, standing there,
remembered as if it had happened yesterday, his first sight of
the girl who was to become his wife to-morrow. Helen Pomeroy had
been standing on a brick path bordered with holly hocks, and she
had smiled, a little shyly and gravely, at her father's rather
eccentric-looking guest. But on that war-summer morning she had
appeared to the stranger as does a mirage of spring water to a man
who is dying of thirst in the desert.
Up to that time Sherston had always supposed himself to be attracted
to small women. He was a big, fair man, with loosely hung limbs,
and his wife--poor little baggage--had been a tiny creature, vixenish
at her worst, kittenish at her best. But Helen Pomeroy was tall,
with the noble proportions and tapering limbs of a goddess, and
gradually--not for some time, for all social life was dislocated in
England during that strange summer--Sherston became aware, with a
kind of angry revolt of soul, that he was but one of many worshipers
at the shrine.
Following an irresistible impulse, he early in their acquaintance
told Helen Pomeroy more of himself than he had ever told any other
human being; and his confidences at last included a bowdlerized
account of his wretched marriage. But though they soon became
friends, and though he went on seeing a great deal of her, all
through that autumn and winter, Sherston feared to put his fate
to the touch, and he was jealous--God alone knew how hideously,
intolerably jealous--of the khaki-clad soldiers who came and went
in her father's house in town.
and then, one day, during the second summer of their acquaintance,
a word let drop by Mr. Pomeroy, who had become fond of the odd,
restless fellow, opened a pit before Sherston's feet. It was a
word implying that now, at last, Helen's father and mother hoped
she would "make up her mind." A very distinguished soldier, whom
she had refused as a girl of twenty, had come back unchanged,
after six years, from India, and Helen, or so her parents hoped
and thought, was seriously thinking of him.
Sherston had kept away. He had even left two of her letters--the
rather formal letters which had come to mean so very much in his
life--unanswered. A fortnight had gone by, and then there had
reached him a prim little note from Mrs. Pomeroy, asking him why
he had not been to see them lately. There was a postscript: "If
you do not come soon, you will not see my daughter. She has not
been well, and we are thinking of sending her up to Scotland, to
friends who are in Skye, for a good long holiday."
He had gone to Cadogan Square (it was August 13th) as quickly as a
taxi could take him, and by a blessed stroke of luck he had found
Miss Pomeroy alone. In a flash all had come right between them.
That had only been nine weeks ago, and now they were to be married
Sherston had been standing a long time at that casement of his
which commanded the huge gray mass of Somerset House, when at last
he turned round, and went quickly across the room to the other,
Even in the gathering darkness what a faery view was there! Glad
as he was to know that after to-night he would never again see this
living room in its present familiar guise--for he had arranged with
a furniture dealer to come and take everything left in it away,
within an hour of his departure--he told himself that never again
could he hope to live with such a view as that on which he was
gazing out now.
The yellowing branches of the trees which have their roots deep in
the graveyard of the old Savoy Chapel formed, even in mid-October,
a delicious screen of living, moving leaves. Far below, to his
left, ran the river Thames, its rushing waters full of a mysterious,
darksome beauty, and illumined, here and there, with the quivering
reflection of shadowed white, green and red lights. Sherston in
his heart often blessed the Sepelin scare which had banished the
monstrous, flaring signs which, till a few months ago, had so offended
his eyes each time that he looked out into the night, towards the
The lease of a fine old house in Cheyenne Walk had been chosen by
Mr. Pomeroy as his daughter's wedding gift, and already certain of
Sherston's personal possessions had been moved there. But he was
taking with him as little as possible, and practically nothing from
this memory-haunted room.
It was the big, light, airy, loft-like apartment which had attracted
him in these chambers fifteen years ago, when he had first come to
London from the Midlands, at the age of three-and-twenty. It was
here, five years later, that he had come straight back from the
Soho Registry Office with the young woman whom he had quixotically
drawn up out of a world--the nether world--where she had been
happier than she could ever hope to become with him. For Kitty
Brawle--her very surname was symbolic--was one of those doomed
creatures who love the mud, who never really wish to leave the
mud--who feel scraped and sad when clean.
Unhappy Sherston! The noblest thing he had ever done, or was ever
likely to do, in his life, proved, for a time at least, his undoing.
Kitty had made him from generous mean, from unsuspecting suspicious,
and during the wretched year they had spent together she had had
a disastrous effect on his work. At last, acting on the shrewd
advice of one of those instinctive men of the world of which Bohemia
is full, he had bought her a billet in a theatrical touring company.
There, by an extraordinary chance, Kitty made a tiny hit--sufficiently
of a hit to bring her from an American impresario a creditable
offer, contingent on her fare being paid to the States.
Gladly, how gladly only he himself had known--Sherston had taken
her passage in the Titanic, Kitty's own characteristic choice of a
boat. And he had done more. though short of money, he had given
Kitty a hundred pounds.
Four days after their parting had come the astounding news of the
sinking of the liner, followed, by Sherston, by a period of strange,
painful suspense, filled with the eager scanning of lists, cables
to and from America, finally terminated by an official intimation
that poor Kitty had gone down in, and with, the ship.
Sherston's imagination was inconveniently vivid, and for a few
poignant weeks his wife's horrible end haunted him. But after a
while he forced himself to take a long holiday in Greece, and from
there he came back with his nerves in better order than they had
Fate, which so seldom interferes with kindly intention in the lives
of men, had cut what had become a strangling knot, and Kitty, from
a dreadful, never-forgotten burden, had become a rather touching,
piteous memory, growing ever dimmer as first the months, and then
the years, slipped by.
Even so, her ghost sufficiently often haunted this large room, and
the other apartments which composed Sherston's set of chambers, to
make him determine that Miss Pomeroy should never come there. And
she, being in this as unlike other, commonplace, young woman as she
was in everything else, had never put him to the pain of finding
an insincere excuse for his unwillingness to show her the place in
which he lived and worked....
The coming night stretched long and bleak before to-morrow's
bridegroom. There were fourteen hours to live through before he
could even see Helen, for the time of the marriage had been fixed
for eleven o'clock.
Sherston was not looking forward to the actual ceremony--no man ever
does; and though it was to be a war wedding, a great many people,
as he was ruefully aware, had been bidden to the ceremony. But
it was comfortable to know that none of the guests had been asked
to go back to the house from which he and his bride were to start
for Sussex at one o'clock, in the motor which was Mrs. Pomeroy's
marriage gift to her daughter.
Suddenly Sherston discovered the he was very hungry! He had lunched
at Cadogan Square at a quarter to two, but he had felt too inwardly
excited in that queer atmosphere of tears and laughter, of trousseau
and wedding presents, to eat.
Even the least earthly of Romantics cannot forget for long the
claims of the flesh, and so, smiling a little wryly in the darkness,
he now told himself that the best thing he could do was to go out
and get some supper. Acquainted with all the eating houses in the
region, he was glad indeed that after to-night he would never have
to enter one again.
Pulling down the green blind in front of him, Sherston walked
across the room and pulled down the blind of the other window, for
the London lighting orders had become much stricter of late. Then
he turned on the electric light switch, took up his hat and stick,
and went out into the little lobby.
Before him was a narrow aperture which opened straight on to the
steep, short flight of steps connecting his chambers with the stone
staircase of the big old house. This latter-like set of steps had
a door top and bottom, but the lower door, which gave on to the
landing, was generally left open. Turning out the light in the
lobby, Sherston put his left hand on the banister and slid down in
the darkness, taking the dozen steps as it were in one stride.
As he reached the bottom he suddenly became aware that the door
before him, that giving on the landing, was shut, and that some
one, almost certainly a child--for there was not room on the mat
for a full-grown person--was crouching down just within the door.
Sherston felt sharply, perhaps unreasonably, irritated. Known
in the neighborhood as open-handed and kindly, it had sometimes
happened, but generally only in wintry weather, that he had come
home to find some poor waif lying in wait for him. Man, woman or
child who had wandered in, maybe, before the big door downstairs
was closed, or who, if still blessed with some outer semblance of
gentility, had managed cunningly to get past the Cerberus who lived
in the basement, and whose duty it was to open the front door,
after eight at night, to non-residents.
He felt in his pocket for a half-a-crown, and then, pretending
still to be unaware that there was any one there, he fumbled for
the spring lock.
The door burst open--he saw before him the shaft of glimmering
whiteness shed by the skylight, for since the Zeppelin raid of the
month before, the staircase was always left in darkness--and the
figure of his unknown guest rolled over, picked itself up, and
stood revealed, a woman, not a child, as he had at first thought.
And then a feeling of sick, shrinking fear came over Sherston, for
there fell on his ears the once horribly familiar accents--plaintive,
wheedling, falsely timorous--of his dead wife's voice....
"Is that you, Shirley? I didn't know that you was at home. The
windows were all dark, and--" In an injured tone this: "I've been
waiting here ever so long for you to come in!"
The wraith-like figure before him was only too clearly flesh and
blood, and, as he stepped forward, it moved quickly across, and
stood, barring his way, on the top stone step of the big staircase.
Sherston remained silent. He could think of nothing to say. But
his mind began to work with extraordinary rapidity and lucidity.
There was only one thing to do, here and now. That was to give
the woman standing there a little money--not much--and tell her to
come back again the next day. Having thus got rid of her--he knew
that on no account must she be allowed to stay here the night--he
must go at once to Mr. Pomeroy and tell him of this terrible, hitherto
unimaginable, calamity. He told himself that it would be, if not
exactly easy, then certainly possible to arrange a divorce.
Determinedly, in these tense, terrible moments, he refused to let
himself face the coming anguish and dismay of the morrow. It was
just a blow, straight between the eyes from fate--that fate who he
had foolishly thought had been kind.
"Well? Are you going to let me stand here all night?"
"No, of course not. Wait a minute--I'm thinking." He spoke in a
quick, hoarse tone, a tone alas! which Kitty at one time in their
joint lives had come to associate with deep feeling on his part,
in those days when she used to come and tell the lonely man of her
sorrows, of her temptations, and of her vague, upward aspirations....
She lurched a little towards him. Everything was going far better
than she could have hoped; why, Sherston did not seem angry, hardly
annoyed, at her unheralded return!
Suddenly he felt her thin, strong arms closing round his body, in
a horrible vice-like grip--
"Don't touch me!" he cried fiercely; and making a greater physical
effort than he would have thought himself capable of, he shook
himself violently free.
He saw her reel backwards and fall, with a queer grotesque movement,
head over heels down the stone steps. The dull thud her body made
as she fell on the half landing echoed up and down the bare well
of the staircase.
Sherston's heart smote him. He had not meant to do THAT. Then
he reminded himself bitterly that drunkards always fall soft. She
could not have hurt herself much, falling that little way.
He waited a few moments; then, as she made no effort to raise
herself, he walked down, slowly, unwillingly, towards her. From
the little he could see in the dim light cast from above, Kitty
was lying very oddly, all in a heap, her head against the wall.
He knelt down by her side.
"Kitty," he said quietly. "Try and get up. I'm sorry if I hurt
you, but you took me by surprise. I--I--"
But there came no word, no moan even, in answer.
He felt for her limp hand, and held it a moment, but it lay in his,
inertly. Filled with a queer, growing fear, he struck a match,
bent down, and saw, for the first time that night, her face. It
looked older, incredibly older, than when he had last seen it, five
years ago! The hair near the temples had turned gray. Her eyes
were wide open--and even as he looked earnestly into her face,
her jaw suddenly dropped. He started back with an extraordinary
feeling of mingled fear and repugnance.
Striking match after match as he went, he rushed up again into his
chambers, and looked about for a hand mirror.... He failed to find
one, and at last he brought down his shaving glass.
With shaking hands he laid it close against that hideous, gaping
mouth, for five long dragging minutes. The glass remained clear,
Putting a great constraint on himself, he forced himself to move
her head. And the truth came to him! In that strange short fall
Kitty had broken her neck. For the second time he was free. But
this time her death, instead of cutting a knot, bound him as with
cords of twisted steel to shame, and yes, to deadly peril.
Slowly he got up from his knees. Unless he went and jumped over
the parapet of the Embankment into the river--a possibility which
he grimly envisaged for a few moments--he knew that the only thing
to do was to go off at once for the police, and make, as the saying
is, a clean breast of it. After all he was innocent--innocent of
even a secret desire of encompassing Kitty's death. But would it
be possible to make even the indifferent, when aware of all the
circumstances, believe that? Yes, there was one such human being--and