Part 5 out of 6
tender the greatest possible satisfaction. He did not think it
strange, immediately he had her answer, to hear the titter of the
leaves of the lilac and the sudden throaty chuckle of the water.
"I am so happy," laughed the ditch tender, "that I fancy the whole
world is laughing with me."
All this was not so long as you would imagine to look at the Pot
Hunter. As time went on the marking of the pot came out on him
very plainly. He acquired the shifty, sidelong gait of the meaner
sort of predatory creatures. His clothes, his beard, his very
features have much the appearance that his house has, as if the
owner of it were distant on another occupation, and the camise has
regained a considerable portion of his clearing. Owing to the
vigilance of the game warden his is not a profitable business;
also he is in disfavor with the homesteaders along the Tonkawanda
who credit him with the disappearance of the mule-deer, once
plentiful in that district. A solitary specimen is occasionally
met by sportsmen along the back of San Jacinto, exceedingly gun
wary. But if Greenhow had known a little more about the Greeks it
might all have turned out quite differently.
[signed] Mary Austin
Men of the Sea
The afternoon sun etched our shadows on the whitewashed wall behind
us. Acres of grain and gorse turned the moorland golden under a
windy blue sky. In front of us the Bay of Biscay burned sapphire
to the horizon.
"You men of the sea," I said, "attain a greater growth of soul than
do we whose roots are in the land. You are men of wider spiritual
vision, of deeper capacity than are we."
The coastguard's weather-beaten visage altered subtly.
"How can that be, Monsieur? Our sins stalk us like vast red shadows.
We live violently, we men of the sea."
"But you really LIVE--spiritually and physically. You attain a
spiritual growth, a vision, an understanding, a depth seldom reached
by us:--a wide kindness, a charity, a noble humanity outside the
circumference of our experience."
He said, looking seaward out of vague, sea-gray eyes: "We drink
too deeply. We love too often. We men of the sea have great need
of intercession and of prayer."
"There was a girl at Rosporden.... And one at Bannalec.... And
others...from the ends of the earth to the ends of it...We Icelanders
drank deep. And afterwards...in the China seas...."
His gray Breton eyes brooded on the flowing sapphire of the sea;
the low sun painted his furrowed face red.
"Not one among you but lays down his life for others as quietly
and simply as he fills his pipe. From the rocking mizzen you look
down calmly upon the world of men tossing with petty and complex
passions--look down with the calm, kindly comprehension of a mature
soul which has learned something of Immortal toleration. The
scheme of things is clearer to you than to us; your pity, wiser;
our faith more logical."
"We are children," he muttered, "we men of the sea."
I have tried to say so--in too many words," said I.
My dog looked up at me, then with a slight sigh settled himself
again beside the game bag and tucked his nose under his flank. On
the whitewashed walls of the ancient, ruined fort behind us our
shadows towered in the red sunset.
I turned and looked at the roofless, crumbling walls, then at the
coast where jeweled surf tumbled, stained with crimson.
These shores had been washed with a redder stain in years gone
by: these people were forever stamped with the eradicable scar
of suffering borne by generations dead. The centuries had never
And, as I brooded there, watching two peasants, father and son,
grubbing out the gorse below us to make a place for future wheat,
the rose surf beyond seemed full of little rosy children and showy
women, species of the endless massacres that this sad land had
"They struck you hard and deep," I said, thinking of the past.
"Deep, Monsieur," he replied, understanding me. "Deep as your
"Oh, poor ça"--he made a vague gesture. "The dead are dead," he
said, leaning over and opening my game bag to look into it and sort
and count the few braces of partridge, snipe and widgeon.
Presently, from below, the peasants at work in the gorse, shouted
up to us something that I did not understand.
They were standing close together, leaning on mattock and spade,
grouped around something in the gorse.
"What do they say?" I asked.
"They have found a soldier's body."
"Long dead, Monsieur. The skeleton of one of these who scourged
this coast in the old days."
He rose and started leisurely down through the flowering gorse. I
followed, and my dog followed me.
In the shallow excavation there lay a few bones and shreds and bits
of tarnished metal.
I stooped and picked up a button and a belt buckle. The royal arms
and the Regimental number were decipherable on the brasses. One
of the peasants said:
"In Quimper lives a rich man who pays for relics. God, in his
compassion, sends us poor men these bones."
The coastguard said: "God sends them to you for decent internment.
Not to sell."
"But," retorted the peasant, "these bones and bits of brass belonged
to one of those who came here with fire and sword. Need we respect
our enemies who slew without pity young and old? And these bones
are very ancient."
"The living must respect the dead, Jean Le Locard."
"I am poor," muttered Le Locard. "We Bretons are born to misery
and sorrow. Life is very hard. Is it any harm if I sell these
bones and brasses to a rich man, and buy a little bread for my wife
and little ones?"
The coastguard shook his head gravely: "We Bretons may go hungry
and naked, but we cannot traffic in death. Here lies a soldier,
a hundred years hidden under the gorse. Nevertheless--"
He touched his cap in salute. Slowly the peasants lifted their
caps and stood staring down at the bones, uncovered.
"Make a grave," said the coastguard simply. He pointed up at the
old graveyard on the cliff above us. Then, touching my elbow, he
turned away with me toward the little hamlet across the moors.
"Let us find the Curé," he murmured. "We men of the sea should
salute the death God sends with the respect we owe to all His gifts
Our three gigantic shadows led us back across the moor,--my dog,
myself, and the gray-eyed silent man who knew the sea,--and something
perhaps, of the sea's Creator:--and much of his fellow men.
[signed] Robert W. Chambers
Jim--A Soldier of the King
We were machine gunners of the British Army stationed "Somewhere
in France" and had just arrived at our rest billets, after a weary
march from the front line sector.
The stable we had to sleep in was an old, ramshackle affair,
absolutely over-run with rats. Great, big, black fellows, who used
to chew up our leather equipment, eat our rations, and run over
out bodies at night. German gas had no effect on these rodents;
in fact, they seemed to thrive on it.
The floor space would comfortably accommodate about twenty men lying
down, but when thirty-three, including equipment, were crowded into
it, it was nearly unbearable.
The roof and walls were full of shell holes. When it rained, a
constant drip, drip, drip was in order. We were so crowded that if
a fellow was unlucky enough (and nearly all of us in this instance
were unlucky) to sleep under a hole, he had to grin and bear it.
It was like sleeping beneath a shower bath.
At one end of the billet, with a ladder leading up to it, was a sort
of grain bin, with a door in it. This place was the headquarters
of our guests, the rats. Many a stormy cabinet meeting was held
there by them. Many a boot was thrown at it during the night
to let them know that Tommy Atkins objected to the matter under
discussion. Sometimes one of these missiles would ricochet, and
land on the upturned countenance of a snoring Tommy, and for about
half an hour even the rats would pause in admiration of his flow
On the night in question we flopped down in our wet clothes, and
were soon asleep. As was usual, No. 2 gun's crew were together.
The last time we had rested in this particular village, it was
inhabited by civilians, but now it was deserted. An order had
been issued, two days previous to our arrival, that all civilians
should move farther back of the line.
I had been asleep about two hours when I was awakened by Sailor
Bill shaking me by the shoulder. He was trembling like a leaf,
and whispered to me:
"Wake up, Yank, this ship's haunted. There's some one aloft who's
been moaning for the last hour. Sounds like the wind in the rigging.
I ain't scared of humans or Germans, but when it comes to messin'
in with spirits it's time for me to go below. Lend your ear and
cast your deadlights on that grain locker, and listen."
I listened sleepily for a minute or so, but could hear nothing.
Coming to the conclusion that Sailor Bill was dreaming things, I
was again soon asleep.
Perhaps fifteen minutes had elapsed when I was rudely awakened.
"Yank, for God's sake, come aboard and listen!" I listened and
sure enough, right out of that grain bin overhead came a moaning
and whimpering, and then a scratching against the door. My hair
stood on end. Blended with the drip, drip of the rain, and the
occasional scurrying of a rat overhead, that noise had a super-natural
sound. I was really frightened; perhaps my nerves were a trifle
unstrung from our recent tour in the trenches.
I awakened "Ikey" Honney, while Sailor Bill roused "Happy" Houghton
and "Hungry" Foxcroft.
Hungry's first words were, "What's the matter, breakfast ready?"
In as few words as possible, we told them what had happened. By
the light of the candle I had lighted, their faces appeared as
white as chalk. Just then the whimpering started again, and we
were frozen with terror. The tension was relieved by Ikey's voice:
"I admint I'm afraid of ghosts, but that sounds like a dog to me.
Who's going up the ladder to investigate?"
No one volunteered.
I had an old deck of cards in my pocket. Taking them out, I
suggested cutting, the low man to go up the ladder. They agreed.
I was the last to cut. I got the ace of clubs. Sailor Bill was
stuck with the five of diamonds. Upon this, he insisted that it
should be the best two out of three cuts, but we overruled him,
and he was unanimously elected for the job.
With a "So long, mates, I'm going aloft," he started toward the
ladder, with the candle in his hand, stumbling over the sleeping
forms of many. Sundry grunts, moans, and curses followed in his
As soon as he started to ascend the ladder, a "tap-tap-tap" could
be heard from the grain bin. We waited in fear and trembling the
result of his mission. Hungry was encouraging him with "Cheero,
mate, the worst is yet to come."
After many pauses, Bill reached the top of the ladder and opened
the door. We listened with bated breath. Then he shouted:
"Blast my deadlights, if it ain't a poor dog! Come alongside mate,
you're on a lee shore, and in a sorry plight."
Oh, what a relief those words were to us.
With the candle in one hand and a dark object under his arm, Bill
returned and deposited in our midst the sorriest-looking specimen
of a cur dog you ever set eyes on. It was so weak it couldn't
stand. But that look in its eyes--just gratitude, plain gratitude.
Its stump of a tail was pounding against my mess tin and sounded
just like a message in the Morse code. Happy swore that it was
sending S O S.
We were a lot of school children, every one wanting to help and
making suggestions at the same time. Hungry suggested giving it
something to eat, while Ikey wanted to play on his infernal jew's
harp, claiming it was a musical dog. Hungry's suggestion met our
approval, and there was a general scramble for haversacks. All we
could muster was some hard bread and a big piece of cheese.
His nibs wouldn't eat bread, and also refused the cheese, but not
before sniffling it for a couple of minutes. I was going to throw
the cheese away, but Hungry said he would take it. I gave it to
We were in a quandary. It was evident that the dog was starving
and in a very weak condition. Its coat was lacerated all over,
probably from the bites of rats. That stump of a tail kept sending
S O S against my mess tin. Every tap went straight to our hearts.
We would get something to eat for that mutt if we were shot for
Sailor Bill volunteered to burglarize the quartermaster's stores
for a can of unsweetened condensed milk, and left on his perilous
venture. He was gone about twenty minutes. During his absence,
with the help of a bandage and a capsule of iodine, we cleaned the
wounds made by the rats. I have bandaged many a wounded Tommy,
but never received the amount of thanks that that dog gave with
Then the billet door opened and Sailor Bill appeared. He looked
like the wreck of the HESPERUS, uniform torn, covered with dirt
and flour, and a beautiful black eye, but he was smiling, and in
his hand he carried the precious can of milk.
We asked no questions, but opened the can. Just as we were going
to pour it out, Happy butted in and said it should be mixed with
water; he ought to know, because his sister back in Blighty had
a baby, and she always mixed water with its milk. We could not
dispute this evidence, so water was demanded. We could not use
the water in our water bottles, as it was not fresh enough for our
new mate. Happy volunteered to get some from the well--that is, if
we would promise not to feed his royal highness until he returned.
We promised, because Happy had proved that he was an authority on
the feeding of babies. By this time the rest of the section were
awake and were crowding around us, asking numerous questions, and
admiring our newly found friend. Sailor Bill took this opportunity
to tell of his adventures while in quest of the milk.
"I had a fair wind, and the passage was good until I came alongside
the quartermaster's shack, then the sea got rough. The porthole
was battened down, and I had to cast it loose. When I got aboard,
I could hear the wind blowing through the rigging of the supercargo
(quartermaster sergeant snoring), so I was safe. I set my course
due north to the ration hold, and got my grappling irons on a cask
of milk, and came about on my homeward-bound passage, but something
was amiss with my wheel, because I ran nose on into him, caught him
on the rail, amidships. Then it was repel boarders, and it started
to blow big guns. His first shot put out my starboard light, and
I keeled over. I was in the trough of the sea, but soon righted,
and then it was a stern chase, with me in the lead. Getting into
the open sea, I made a port tack and have to in this cove with the
milk safely in tow."
Most of us didn't know what he was talking about, but surmised
that he had gotten into a mix-up with the quartermaster sergeant.
This surmise proved correct.
Just as Bill finished his narration, a loud splash was heard, and
Happy's voice came to us. It sounded very far off:
"Help, I'm in the well! Hurry up, I can't swim!" Then a few
unintelligible words intermixed with blub! blub! and no more.
We ran to the well, and way down we could hear an awful splashing.
Sailor Bill yelled down, "Look out below; stand from under; bucket
coming!" With that he loosed the windlass. In a few seconds a
spluttering voice from the depths yelled up to us, "Haul away!"
It was hard work, hauling him up. We had raised him about ten
feet from the water, when the handle of the windlass got loose from
our grip, and down went the bucket and Happy. A loud splash came
to us, and grabbing the handle again, we worked like Trojans. A
volley of curses came from that well which would have shocked Old
When we got Happy safely out, he was a sight worth seeing. He
did not even notice us. Never said a word, just filled his water
bottle from the water in the bucket, and went back to the billet. We
followed. My mess tin was still sending S O S.
Happy, though dripping wet, silently fixed up the milk for the
dog. In appetite, the canine was close second to Hungry Foxcroft.
After lapping up all he could hold, our mascot closed his eyes and
his tail ceased wagging. Sailor Bill took a dry flannel shirt from
his pack, wrapped the dog in it, and informed us:
"Me and my mate are going below, so the rest of you lubbers batten
down and turn in."
We all wanted the honor of sleeping with the dog, but did not dispute
Sailor Bill's right to the privilege. By this time the bunch were
pretty sleepy and tired, and turned in without much coaxing, as it
was pretty near daybreak.
Next day we figured out that perhaps one of the French kiddies had
put the dog in the grain bin, and, in the excitement of packing up
and leaving, had forgotten he was there.
Sailor Bill was given the right to christen our new mate. He
called him "Jim." In a couple of days Jim came around all right,
and got very frisky. Every man in the section loved that dog.
Sailor Bill was court-martialed for his mix-up with the quartermaster
sergeant, and got seven days field punishment No. 1. This meant
that two hours each day for a week he would be tied to the wheel
of a limber. During those two-hour periods Jim would be at Bill's
feet, and no matter how much we coaxed him with choice morsels
of food, he would not leave until Bill was untied. When Bill was
loosed, Jim would have nothing to do with him--just walked away
in contempt. Jim respected the king's regulations, and had no use
At a special meeting held by the section, Jim had the oath
of allegiance read to him. He barked his consent, so we solemnly
swore him in as a soldier of the Imperial British Army, fighting
for king and country. Jim made a better soldier than any one of
us, and died for his king and country. Died without a whimper of
From the village we made several trips to the trenches; each time
Jim accompanied us. The first time under fire he put the stump of
his tail between his legs, but stuck to his post. When "carrying
in" if we neglected to give Jim something to carry, he would make
such a noise barking that we soon fixed him up.
Each day Jim would pick out a different man of the section to follow.
He would stick to the man, eating and sleeping with him until the
next day, and then it would be some one's else turn. When a man
had Jim with him, it seemed as if his life were charmed. No matter
what he went through, he would come out safely. We looked upon
Jim as a good-luck sign, and believe me, he was.
Whenever it came Ikey Honney's turn for Jim's company, he was
over-joyed, because Jim would sit in dignified silence, listening
to the jew's-harp. Honney claimed that Jim had a soul for music,
which was more than he would say about the rest of us.
Once, at daybreak, we had to go over the top in an attack. A man
in the section named Dalton was selected by Jim as his mate in this
The crew of gun No. 2 were to stay in the trench for over-head fire
purposes, and, if necessary, to help repel a probably counter-attack
by the enemy. Dalton was very merry, and hadn't the least fear or
misgiving as to his safety, because Jim would be with him through
In the attack, Dalton, closely followed by Jim, had gotten about
sixty yards into No Man's Land, when Jim was hit in the stomach by
a bullet. Poor old Jim toppled over, and lay still. Dalton turned
around, and, just as he did so, we saw him throw up his hands and
fall face forward.
Ikey Honney, who was No. 3 on our gun, seeing Jim fall, scrambled
over the parapet, and through that rain of shells and bullets,
raced to where Jim was, picked him up, and, tucking him under his
arm, returned to our trench in safety. If he had gone to rescue
a wounded man in this way he would have no doubt been awarded the
Victoria Cross. but he only brought in poor bleeding, dying Jim.
Ikey laid him on the fire step alongside of our gun, but we could
not attend to him, because we had important work to do. So he
died like a soldier, without a look of reproach for our heartless
treatment. Just watched our every movement until his lights burned
out. After the attack, what was left of our section gathered around
Jim's bloodstained body. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd.
Next day, we wrapped him in a small Union Jack belonging to Happy,
and laid him to rest, a soldier of the king.
We put a little wooden cross over his grave which read:
KILLED IN ACTION
APRIL 10, 1916
A DOG WITH A MAN'S HEART
Although the section has lost lots of men, Jim is never forgotten.
[signed] Arthur Guy Empey
Heel and Toe
That man--it could only have been a man--who invented the Klinger
darning and mending machine struck a blow at marriage. Martha
Eggers, bending over her work in the window of the Elite Hand
Laundry (washing delivered same day if left before 8 A.M.) never
quite evolved this thought in her mind. When one's job is that
of darning six bushels of socks a day, not to speak of drifts of
pajamas and shirts, there remains very little time for philosophizing.
The window of the Elite Hand Laundry was a boast. On a line strung
from side to side hung snowy, creaseless examples of the ironer's
art. Pale blue tissue paper, stuffed into the sleeves and front
of lace and embroidery blouses cunningly enhanced their immaculate
virginity. White piqué skirts, destined to be grimed by the sands
of beach and tee, dangled like innocent lambs before the slaughter.
Just behind this starched and glistening ambush one glimpsed the
bent head and the nimble fingers of Martha Eggers, first aid to
As she sat weaving, in and out, in and out, she was a twentieth
century version of any one of the Fates, with the Klinger darner
and mender substituted for distaff and spindle. There was something
almost humanly intelligent in the workings of Martha's machine.
Under its glittering needle she would shove a sock whose heel bore
a great, jagged, gaping wound. Your home darner, equipped only with
mending egg, needle, and cotton, would have pronounced it fatal.
But Martha's modern methods of sock surgery always saved its life.
In and out, back and forth, moved the fabric under the needle.
And slowly, the wound began to heal. Tack, tack, back and forth.
The operation was completed.
"If I see you many more Mondays," Martha would say, grimly, tossing
it into the heap at her side, "there won't be anything left of
the original cloth. I should think people would realize that this
laundry darns socks, but it doesn't manufacture 'em."
Before the advent of the ingenious mending machine I suppose more
men than would care to admit it married largely because they grew
so tired of seeing those eternal holes grinning back at them from
heel and toe, and of feeling for absent buttons in a hastily donned
shirt. The Elite laundry owed much of its success to the fact that
it advertised alleviation for these discomforts.
If you had known Martha as I know her you would have found a certain
pathos in the thought of this spare spinster performing for legions
of unknown unseen men those homely, intimate tasks that have long
been the duty of wife or mother. For Martha had no men-folks.
Martha was one of those fatherless, brotherless, husbandless women
who, because of their state, can retain their illusions about men.
She had never known the tragedy of setting forth a dinner only to
have hurled at her that hateful speech beginning with, "I had that
for lunch." She had never seen a male, collarless, bellowing about
the house for his laundry. She had never beheld that soul-searing
sight--a man in his trousers and shirt, his suspenders dangling,
his face lathered, engaged in the unbecoming rite of shaving.
Her knowledge of the home habits of the male biped she gleaned from
the telltale hints of the inanimate garments that passed through
her nimble hands. She could even tell character and personality
from deductions gathered at heel and toe. She knew, for example,
that F.C. (in black ink) was an indefatigable fox trotter and she
dubbed him Ferdy Cahn, though his name, for all she knew, might
have been Frank Callahan. The dancing craze, incidentally, had
added mountainous stacks to Martha's already heaped up bins.
The Elite Laundry served every age and sex. But Martha's department
was, perforce, the unwed male section. No self-respecting wife
or mother would allow laundry-darned hose or shirts to reflect on
her housekeeping habits. And what woman, ultra-modern though she
be, would permit machine-mended stockings to desecrate her bureau
drawers? So it was that Martha ministered, for the most part, to
those boarding house bachelors living within delivery-wagon proximity
to the Elite Laundry.
It was early in May that Martha first began to notice the white
lisle socks marked E.G. She picked them from among the great heap
at her work table because of the exquisite fineness of the darning
that adorned them. It wasn't merely darning. It was embroidery.
It was weaving. It was cobweb tapestry. It blended in with the
original fabric so intimately that it required an expert eye to
mark where darning finished and cloth began. Martha regarded it
with appreciation unmarred by envy, as the artisan eye regards the
work of the artist.
"That's his mother's darning," she thought, as she smoothed it with
one work-scarred finger. "And she doesn't live here in Chicago. No,
sir! It takes a small town mother to have the time and patience for
that kind of work. She's the kind whose kitchen smells of ginger
cookies on Saturday mornings. And I'll bet if she ever found a
moth in the attic she'd call the fire department. He's her only
son. And he's come to the city to work. And his name--his name
And Eddie he remained for the months that followed.
Now, there was nothing uncanny in Martha Eggers' deduction
that a young man who wears white hose, miraculously darned, is a
self-respecting young man, brought up by a worshiping mother who
knows about ginger cookies and winter underwear, and whose Monday
washing is fragrant with the clean-smelling scent of green grass
and sunshine. But it was remarkable that she could pick this one
needle from the haystack of socks and shirts that towered above
her. She ran her hand through hundreds of garments in the day's
work. Some required her attention. Some were guiltless of rent
or hole. She never thought of mating them. That was the sorter's
work. But with Eddie's socks it was different. They had not, as
yet, required the work of her machine needle. She told her self,
whimsically, that when the time came to set her crude work next
to the masterly effects produced by the needle of Eddie's ma every
fiber in her would shrink from the task. Of course Martha did not
put it in just that way. But the thought was there. And bit by
bit, week by week, month by month, the life, and aims, and ambitions,
and good luck and misfortunes of this country boy who had come
to the call of the city, were unfolded before the keen eye of the
sparse spinster who sat stitching away in the window of the Elite
For a long, long time the white hose lacked reinforcements, so
that they began to grow thin from top to toe. Martha feared that
they would go to pieces in one irremediable catastrophe, like the
one-hoss shay. Evidently Eddie's job did not warrant unnecessary
expenditures. Then the holes began to appear. Martha tucked
them grimly under the glittering needle of the Klinger darner and
mender but at the first incision she snapped the thread, drew out
the sock, and snipped the stitches.
"His ma'd have a fit. I'll just roll 'em up, and take 'em home
with me to-night and darn 'em by hand." She laughed at herself,
a little shame-faced laugh, but tender, too.
She did darn them that night, in the twilight, and in the face
of the wondering contempt of Myrt. Myrt dwelt across the hall in
five-roomed affluence with her father and mother. She was one of
the ten stenographers employed by the Slezak Film Company. There
existed between the two women an attraction due to the law of
opposites. Myrt was nineteen. She earned twelve dollars a week.
She knew all the secrets of the moving picture business, but even
that hideous knowledge had left her face unscarred. Myrt's twelve
was expended wholly upon the embellishment of Myrt. Myrt was one
of those asbestos young women upon whom the fires of life leave no
mark. She regarded Martha Eggers, who dwelt in one room, in the
rear, across the hall, with that friendly contempt which nineteen,
cruelly conscious of its charms, bestows upon plain forty.
She strolled into Martha Eggers' room now to find that lady
intent upon a white sock, darning needle in hand. She was working
in the fast-fading light that came through her one window. Myrt,
kimono-clad, stared at her in unbelief.
"Well, I've heard that when actors get a day off they go to the
theater. I suppose it's the same idea. I should think you'd get
enough darning and mending from eight A. M. to six P. M. without
dragging it home with you."
"I'm doing it for a friend," said Martha, her head bent over her
"What's his name?"
Martha blushed, pricked her finger, bent lower. "Eddie--Eddie
At the end of the next six weeks every pair of Eddie Grant's hose,
heel and toe, bore the marks of Martha's workmanship. Then, quite
suddenly, they ceased to appear. Had he gone back home, defeated?
Had he moved to another neighborhood? Had he invested in a fresh
supply of haberdashery? On Tuesday of the seventh week E. G.'s
white hose appeared once more. Martha picked them from among the
heap. Instantly she knew. Clumsily, painstakingly, they had been
darned by a hand all unaccustomed to such work. A masculine hand,
as plucky as it was awkward.
"Why, the poor kid! The poor little kid! Lost his job for six
weeks, and did his own washing and mending."
That night she picked out the painfully woven stitches and replaced
them with her own exquisite workmanship.
Eddie's new job was evidently a distinct advance. The old socks
disappeared altogether. They had been darned until each one resembled
a mosaic. In their place appeared an entirely new set, with nothing
but the E. G. inked upon them by the laundry to distinguish them
from hundreds of others. Sometimes Martha missed them entirely.
then, suddenly, E. G. blossomed into silk, with clocking up the side,
and Martha knew that he was in love. She found herself wondering
what kind of girl she was, and whether the woman in the little
town that was Back Home to Eddie would have approved of her. One
day there appeared a pair of lovesick lavenders, but they never
again bloomed. Evidently she was the kind of a girl who would be
firm about those. Then, for a time--for two long weeks--E. G.'s
hose were black; somber, mournful, unrelieved black. They had
quarreled. After that they brightened. They became numerous,
and varied. There was about them something triumphant, ecstatic.
They rose to a paean.
"They're engaged," Martha told herself. "I hope she's the right
kind of a girl for Eddie."
Then, as they sobered down and even began to require some of Martha's
expert workmanship she knew that it was all right. "She's making
him save up."
Six months later the Elite Laundry knew E. G. no more.
Myrt, strolling into Martha's room one evening, as was her wont,
found that severe-faced lady suspiciously red-eyed. Even Myrt,
the unimaginative, sensed that some unhappiness had Martha in its
"What's the matter?"
"Oh, I don't know. Kinda lonesome, I guess. What's the news down
at your place?"
"News! Nothing ever happens in our office. Honestly, some days
I think I'll just drop dead, it's so slow. I took three hours
dictation from Hubbell this morning. He's writing the 'Dangers of
Dora' series, and I almost go to sleep over it. He's got her now
where she's chained in the cave with the tide coming up, on a deserted
coast, and nobody for miles around. I was tickled to death when
old Slezak called me away to fill out the contract blanks for him
and Willie Kaplan. Kaplan's signed up with the Slezak's for three
years at a million and a half a year. He stood over me while I
was filling it out--him and his brother Gus--as if I was going to
put something over on 'em when they weren't looking."
"My land! How exciting! It must be wonderful working in a place
Myrt yawned, and stretched her round young arms high above her
"I don't see anything exciting about it. Of course it isn't as bad
as your job, sitting there all day, sewing and mending. It isn't
even as if you were sewing on new stuff, like a dressmaker, and
really making something out of it. I should think you'd go crazy,
it's so uninteresting."
Martha turned to the window, so that her face was hidden from Myrt.
"Oh, I don't know. Darning socks isn't so bad. Depends on what
you see in 'em."
"See in 'em!" echoed Miss Myrtle Halperin. "See! Well for the
love of heaven what can you see in mending socks, besides holes!"
Martha didn't answer. Myrt, finding things dull, took herself
off, languidly. At the door she turned and looked back on the
stiff little figure seated in the window with its face to the gray
"What's become of your friend What's-his-name that you used to darn
socks for at home? Grant, wasn't it? Eddie Grant?"
"That was it," answered Martha. "He's married. He and his wife,
they've got to visit Eddie's folks back home, on their wedding trip.
I miss him something terrible. He was just like a son to me."
[signed] Edna Ferber
Those Who Went First
A distant bugle summoned them by day,
A far flame beckoned them across the night.
They rose--they flung accustomed things away,--
The habit of old days and new delight.
They heard--they saw--they turned them over-seas,--
Oh, Land of ours, rejoice in such as these!
This was no call that sounded at their door,
No wild torch flaming in their window space,--
yet the quick answer went from shore to shore,
The swift feet hastened to the trysting place,
Laughing, they turned to death from peace and ease,--
Oh, Land of ours, be proud of such as these!
High hearts--great hearts--whose valor strikes for us
Out of the awful Dissonance of war
This perfect note,--in you the chivalrous
YOUNG SEEKERS OF THE GRAIL RE-LIVE ONCE MORE,--
Acclaimed of men, or fallen where none sees,
Oh, Land of ours, be glad of such as these!
A Summer's Day
Once I wrote a story of a woman's day in Paris, a Perfect Day. It
had to do with the buying of all the lovely trappings that are the
entrappings of the animal which Mr. Shaw believes woman endlessly
pursues. One of the animals was in the story, and there was food
and moonlight, music and adventure.
I never sold that marvelous tale. For years it has peeked out
at me from a certain pigeon hole in my desk with the anguish of
a prisoner in the Black Hole of Calcutta, and with as little hope
for its liberation into the glad air of a free press. Yet it is
with me now in Paris. In that last distracted moment of packing,
when all sense of what is needed has left one, it was thrust into
a glove case like contraband cigarettes. There may have been some
idea of remolding it with a few deceiving touches--make a soldier
of the hero probably--but with the "love interest" firmly remaining.
There was only one Perfect Day to a woman, I thought.
That was some weeks ago. I am now writing on the back of that
romance for lack of paper, writing of another day, wondering as
I work if the present day's adventures will have any quality that
might hold the reader's eye. I dare not ask for the reader's heart
when love does not stalk through the pages.
Paris is now an entrenched camp but one is not awakened by bugles,
and the beat of drums is unheard as the troops march through the
city. It was the regular "blump-blump" of military boots past
my window which possibly aroused me into activity, although the
companies crossing from station to cantonment no longer turn the
head of the small boy as he rolls his hoop along the Champs Élysées.
This troubles me, and I always go to the curb to watch them when
I am in the street.
There was an instant's hesitation before I pulled up the refractory
Venetian blind--the right rope so eager to rise, the left so
indifferent to its improvement--an instant's dread. I was afraid
"they" would be hopping about even this early in the morning,
hopping, hopping--the jerking gait of the mutilated--the little
broken waves of a sea of "horizon blue." But they must have been
just getting their faces washed at the Salon, where once we went
to see pictures and now find compositions more dire than the newest
schools of painting.
On the other side the stretch of chestnuts, the taxicabs, returned
to their original mission, were already weaving about in their
effort to exterminate each other. Battling at the Marne had been
but a slight deviation in their mode of procedure, yet when a cab
recently ran down and killed a bewildered soldier impeded by a
crutch strange to him, Paris raised its voice in a new cry of rage.
Beyond the Champs Élysées, far beyond, rose the Eiffel tower.
Capable, immune so far from the attacks of the enemy, its very
outlines seem to have taken on a great importance. Once the giant
toy of a people who frolicked, it now serves in its swift mission
as the emblem of a race more gigantic than we had conceived.
It is not a relieving thought to such of us as still can play, that
spirit, whether in the bosom of the boulevardier or his country
cousin playing bowls in the cool of the evening, is the same that
projects itself brilliantly across the battlefield; that the flash
of a woman's eye as she invites a conquest is the flame upon the
alter when sacrifice is needed; that the very gaiety which makes
one laugh is a force to endure the deepest pits that have been
dug for mankind. Even as I continually struggle with a lump in my
throat which I often think should remain with me forever, I dare
claim that of all the necessitous qualities in life the spirit
of play must be the last to leave a race. Its translation to the
gravities of living needs no bellows for the coaxing of the fire.
It is ever burning upon the hearth of the happy heart.
The gilded statuary of the bridge of Alexander III, like flaming
beacons in the sun's rays, waved us out and on to the Invalides to
see the weekly awarding of medals. It is presumably the gay event
of the week as the band plays, and there is some color in the throngs
who surge along the colonnades to look into the court of honor.
A portion of the great space is now accommodating huge shattered
cannon and air craft of the enemy, their massiveness suggesting, as
the little glittering medals are pinned upon the soldiers' breasts,
that it is not so easy to be a hero and go a-capturing.
By the judicious wavings of famous autographs we were permitted the
upper balcony to sketch the heroic ones within the hollow square
formed by soldiers and marines. Directly beneath us stood the
band with the brassard of the red cross on their arms, for they
are still the stretcher bearers at the front. In the center of
the square was a little group of men, seventy perhaps but the space
was vast. Some were standing, some seated with stiff stumps of
legs sticking out queerly. Here and there a nurse stood by a blind
man, and there were white oblong gaps in the line which designated
the beds of the paralyzed.
I had set my teeth and said that I must stand it when across the
courtyard like a liquid stream of some spilled black portion came the
mothers and the wives, who were to wear the ribbon their soldiers
had earned in exchange for their lives. Or should there be little
sons or daughters they received this wondrous emblem of their fathers'
sacrifice. We could see the concerted white lift of handkerchiefs
to the eyes of the black line of women as the general bestowed the
honors. But the little children were tranquil.
With the beginning of the distribution the band, for which I had
longed that it might give a glow to the war, swung into a blare of
triumph. It was the first note of music we had heard in France.
And as we all expressed our emotion with abandonment throughout
the enlivening strains of "The Washington Post," I appreciated the
infinite wisdom of marching drumless through the streets--of the
divine lack of the bugles' song. For music, no matter its theme,
makes happy only those who are already happy. To those who suffer
it urges an unloosening of their grief--and grief must not go abroad
There was an end to the drama. The guard of honor marched through
the porte, banners flying. It was a happy ending, I suppose,
though one might not think so by the triumphal chariots that entered
the court to bear away the heroes--chariots with that red emblem
emblazoned upon a white disc which would have mystified an early
Caesar. But my thoughts were not entirely with the chief actors
in the play, rather with the squad of soldiers who had surrounded
them, the supers who would have enjoyed medals, too, and upon whom
opportunity had not smiled; whose epic of brave deeds may never
be read, and who, by chance, may go legless yet ribbonless up the
"They" were hopping up the Avenue when we crossed it again, yet we
all went on about our daily tasks as one passes the blind man on
the corner of Sixth Avenue and Thirty-third Street. He may receive
a penny, a twang of the heart strings, but he must be passed
to go into the shop. My list was in my purse bearing but a faint
resemblance to the demands of other years. I thought as I took it
out what confusion of mind would have been my portion had I found
it in my purse three summers ago, in what state of madness could
any one prepare for a day in Paris such a program as: "Gloves,
Hospital 232, furs, workshop for blind, shell combs, see my baby
at Orphelinat, hair nets, cigarettes to my soldier, try on gowns,
funeral of Am. airman," and on and on through each day's great
accomplishment to the long quiet night.
Yet to buy freely and even frivolously in France need harass nothing
more soulful than a letter of credit, and it was with less of guilt
than of fear that I entered the courtyard of my furrier. I turned
the button ever so gently with the same dread in my heart that I
had suffered in going back to all of my shop keepers of previous
summers. Would he still be there? Two years is a long time, and
he was a young man. But he was there, wounded in the chest but at
work in the expectation of being recalled. He did not want to go
back, but of course if he was needed--
And I must lay stress on the magnificence of this hope that he might
not have to return to the trenches. I have found many who do not
want to go back. Fierce partisans of French courage deny this,
reading in my contention a lack of bravery, but to me it is valor
of a glorious color. For they do return without resentment, and,
what is more difficult in this day of monumental deeds and minute
bickerings, without criticism.
Like most of the men who came out of the trenches he had very
little to say about them. It amused him to hear that my new fur
coat purchased in America is of so fleeting a dye that I must dart
into the subway whenever the sun shines. He was laughing quietly
as he wished me a cloudy winter upon my descending the broad stone
steps into the empty, echoing courtyard. The unexpected appreciation
of my doubtful humor set me musing over the possibility of a duty
new to Americans. It is the French who have stood for gaiety. We
have warmed ourselves in their quick wit. Perhaps it is time for
us to do our little clownish best to set them laughing.
Having made the resolve I failed meanly to put it into execution.
I knew I was going to fail as the motor stopped before the great
house in the rue Daru--the lordly house of exquisitely tinted walls
although the colors are not seen by those who dwell within. There
is a paved COUR beyond the high wall with great steps leading up
to the hotel. At the right are the stables, where delicate fabrics
are woven--the workmen with heads erect; where are special looms
for those who, by the sad demands of this war, are denied hands as
well as their two eyes. At the left is another building and here
the men play in a gymnasium, even fence with confidence. In an
anteroom is a curious lay figure that the most sensitive of the
students may learn massage--it is the blind in Japan who give their
understanding fingers to this work--and in the rooms above is a
printing press, silent for lack of funds, but ready to give a paper
of his own to the sightless. Only, at "The Light House" they will
not accept that a single one of their guests is without vision.
"Ah GUARDIENNE," cried one of the students to the American woman
who has established our Light House methods over there, "you do not
see the unevenness of this fabric for your eyes are in your way."
I was standing in the room where the plan of the house is set upon
a table. It is the soldier's first lesson that he may know the
turns and steps, and run about without the pitiful outstretching
of arms. There were other callers upon the GUARDIENNE. A blind
graduate who had learned to live (which means to work) had returned
with his little old father, and both were telling her that he had
enough orders for his sweaters from the "Trois Quartiers" to keep him
occupied for two years. The family felt that he was established--so
there was nothing more to fear. And then because we were all happy
over it the old man and the woman and myself began to cry noiselessly.
Only the blind boy remained smiling through the choking silence.
I went to the window and glared down into the gardens where other
soldiers were studying at little tables with a professor for each,
and I asked myself why, in this great exigency, I was not being
funny and paying my debt to France. But there was nothing to be
funny about. The thing that dried my tears was the recollection
of the blind asylum of my youth, where the "inmates" never learned
to walk without groping, where we were shown hideous bead furniture,
too small for dolls, which was the result of their eager but misspent
There was a gown to be ordered before noon and as I drove back
through the Faubourg St. Honoré I found myself looking fondly,
thirstily into the shop windows, lifting my free eyes to the charming
vagaries of old buildings, and again I made a vow although it had
nothing to do with humor. On my dressing table rests a cushion of
brocade and I shall carry it about as one who may yield to temptation
carries a pledge, for the card which is attached chants out to
me whenever my eyes rest upon it: "Soldat Pierre. Aveugle de la
guerre. Blessé à Verdun." And as long as Soldier Pierre. Blind
from the war. Wounded at Verdun can go on weaving his fabrics I pray
that I may carry whatever burden may be mine with the unrebellious
Ah well! The robe took its place in the curriculum of my new
Parisian day. It was to be a replica in color of that worn by the
head of the house--her one of mourning was so bravely smart--for
the business must go on and only the black badge of glory in
fashionable form show itself in the gay salon. "Yes, we must go
on," she said, "though every wife may give her mate. It is of an
enormity to realize before one dies that he can be done without--that
there are enough little ones to keep France alive and we women in
the meantime can care for the country. Our men may die glad in
that thought, but I think there must be a little of grief, too.
It is sad not to be needed. Yes, Madame, blue for you where mine
is black, and in place of the crêpe something very brilliant. It
is only Americans that we can make gay now, and it keeps the women
in the sewing room of good cheer to work in colors. Too dear you
think? Ah, no, Madame, observe the model!"
Conscious that she had taken the basest advantage of my sympathy,
and glad that she had done so I went to déjeuner with a feeling
that I had deserved it which I might not otherwise have enjoyed.
We were lunching at the restaurant on the Seine which felt for
a short time the upheaval of war. Among the first called to the
front had been the proprietor, and the august deputies whose custom
it was to take their midday meal at this famous eating place had
suffered from an unevenness of the cuisine. He is back at his
establishment now, an ammunition maker on the night shift and the
excellent and watchful patron at noon.
Our guests came promptly, for France still eats, although, if I can
say anything so anomalous, does not stop to do so. The war talk
continues albeit one carries it more lightly through a meal. A
French officer arrived in the only automobile of his garage which
the government had not commandeered. We looked down upon it stealthily
that we might not give offense to his chauffeur, for the car is a
Panhard in the last of its teens--which holds no terrors to a woman
but is a gloomy age for a motor. An American architect from our
Clearing House bowed over my hand a little more Gallic in these
days than the Gaul himself. He has a right to the manners of the
country. He had come over at the beginning of the war for a month
and is determined to stick it out if he never builds another railway
station. "To see the troops march through the Arc de Triomphe!" is
the cry of the Americans, but the French do not express themselves
There is drama enough, though, even in the filing of papers at
every American relief society. That and the new sensation of work
serves to hold the dilettante of our country to his long task.
"This is the president's office," you will be told in a hushed voice
outside some stately door. Then one discovers in Mr. President
a playmate of Mayfair or Monte Carlo or Taormina who may never
previously have used a desk except as a support for the signing of
Our friend had been engaged that morning upon the re-ticketing of
the Lafayette Kits which had come back from the front because there
was no longer a Gaspard to receive them. I put this down that
any young girl of our country who does not hear from "her soldier"
may understand the silence. And sometimes the poilu is a little
confused, writing a charming letter of thanks to "Monsieur Lafayette"
A man takes coffee at déjeuner but finishes his cigar en route
to work. We were at the edge of Paris before the Illustrator had
thrown his away. We were not in the car of ancient lineage but in
that relic of other days a real automobile without the great white
letters of the army upon its sides and bonnet. Yet we were going
into the heart of the Army. We would not be among the derelicts
of battle that afternoon but with men sound of mind and body, and
the thought was grateful that there would be nothing to anguish
over. We were to visit two cantonments, rough barracks, in one of
which the men gathered after their "permission" for a re-equipment;
while at the second one were those soldiers who had become
separated from their regiments, and who were sent there until the
companies--if they existed--could be found, and the "isolated"
again dispatched to the front.
I had anticipated a very relieving afternoon. The sun shone, the
long road led to open country, and many circling aeroplanes over
an aviation field nearby gave the air of a fête. Only the uniforms
of the English and American women who are attached to each of these
many cantonments suggested any necessitous combating of the grim
Yet they are not nurses of the body but of the spirit. From modest
little vine covered sheds erected in each ugly open space they
disperse good cheer augmented by coffee and cigarettes (and such
small comforts as we Americans send them) after the regulation army
rations are served by the commissary. They hear the men's stores,
comfort the unhappy ones, chaff the gloomy ones, and when they have
a moment's breathing space write letters to such of those as have
asked for a correspondent.
One of these women--an American--was intent upon this occupation
at the first canteen we visited. She admitted that she was tired
but she must answer her letters. She was rather grave about it,
"I write to sixty-eight," she said, "and I'll tell you why. At
least I will tell you a little of it and you can read the rest. I
was on night duty. There is always one of us here. The men have
just come from visiting their homes and some of them are blue and
cannot sleep. Rude to us? Oh, never! I had written letters almost
all night and it was time to make the morning coffee, yet there was
still one to do. I was tempted to put it aside. I didn't remember
the man, but he had sent me a word of thanks. Well, somehow I did
answer it between the moment of filling the cauldron and getting
ready for the day. Here is his reply--it came this morning--"
Translating crudely from the letter I read aloud to our little
circle: "Dear Madame, you have saved my life. I have no friends
and no people left for I am from the invaded districts, so on one
writes me. To-day I was on duty as the officer came into our trench
with the mail. He called my name. He gave me permission to leave
the listening post to receive your valued letter. While at his
side a shell tore up entirely my post. I think you, Madame, that
I am spared to fight for France--"
I regarded her with longing. She had been the controller of a
destiny. I suppose we are all that when we bend our best efforts,
but seldom are we so definitely apprised of the reward of untiring
A petty officer passed by the shack with a paper in his hands.
There were no sounding trumpets, but the men recognized the paper
and rose from the ground where they had been lounging to hear him
read the list of those who were to return immediately to the front.
As the names were called each one summoned turned without comment
or exclamation or expletive, picked up his kit dumped in a corner,
slung on the heavy equipment, saw that the huge loaf of bread was
secure--the extra shoes--refilled his canteen and moved over to
the barred gate. Occasionally one shook hands with a comrade and
all saluted the women of the little flower-bedecked hut. An order
was given and the gate was opened. They filed out into the dusty
road on their march to the railway station. The gate was closed.
A little hill rose higher than the ground of the barracks and we could
see them once again--stout little men in patched uniforms--bending
unresistingly under their burdens, the heavy steel helmets gleaming
but faintly in the sun. Another detachment entered the barracks.
It was coffee time now. The soldiers were lingering politely about
with their tin cups in hand--not too expectantly, so as to assure
the ladies that if by any chance there was no coffee they would not
be disappointed. The gentlewoman in attendance had recently come
from a canteen near the front where soup is made and often eight
thousand bowls of it served in a day. The skin of her arms and
hands is, I fear, permanently unlovely from the steam of the great
kettles--or perhaps I should say permanently lovely now that one
knows the cause of the branding. I offered to pour in her place
and she assented.
The men came up to the little bar. I began to pour. I had thought
I was about to do them a service. I knew with the first cup that
it was they who were doing me one. All the unrest and misery of
my idle if observing days in France was leaving me. I was pushing
back the recollection with the sweetness of physical effort. I
was at work. There is no living in France--or anywhere now--unless
one is at work. I served and served and urged fresh cups upon them.
They thought I was generous--I could not tell them that I had not
known a happy instant till this coffee pouring time. I had not
recognized that it was toiling with the hands that would bring a
surcease to the beating of queries at my bewildered brain. There
are no answers to this war. One can only labor for it and so,
strangely, forget it.
Late that afternoon I had a cup of tea in a ground floor room of
a big Parisian hotel which has been freely assigned to an American
woman for the least known of all our relief work. I had come that
I might argue with her into giving up her long task for a brief
rest. My contention was to have been that she could stop at any
time as her work is never recognized. I found her doing up a parcel
of excellent garments for a man and three women. They were to be
assigned to the family of a respected painter of the Latin Quarter.
They will never know who is the middleman, and it has chanced that
she has dined in company with her day's donation.
As I observed her tired tranquility I felt my argument growing
pointless. Whether it was coffee or the unacknowledged dispenser
of clothing to the uncrying needy it was service, and though my arm
muscles ached I could understand that it is the idle boy in Paris
which does not rest at night.
And so I come tot he last sheet of the romance which is serving
so humbly my war-time needs. There is space for the dinner and
the closing in of the gentle night thanks to the repeated, fervid
declarations of the lovers on the other side of the paper. We
had been with the men that afternoon. We were among the officers
that evening. We dined at one of the great restaurants which has
timorously reopened its doors to find eager families ready to feast
honored sons. At one table sat three generations, the father of
the boy concealing his pride with a Gallic interest in the menu,
but the grandfather futilely stabbed the snails as his gleaming old
eyes kept at attention upon the be-medalled lad. Pretty women, too,
were there, subdued in costuming but with that amiable acceptance
of their position which is not to be found among the more eager
"lost ones" of other countries. And I enjoyed some relief in their
evidence once more, and some inward and scarcely to-be-expressed
solace in the thought that those soldiers who henceforth must go
disfigured through a fastidious world can every buy companionship.
There was a theater attached to the restaurant. Through the glass
doors we could see an iridescence of scant costumes, but the audience
was light, and we ourselves preferred, as a more satisfactory ending
to our day, to walk quietly toward the Arc de Triomphe which is
waiting, waiting for fresh glories. On the other side of this last
sheet of paper my lovers had so walked together. But upon looking
over their passionate adventures I have discovered, at last, why
the romance has never found a market. On one side and then on the
other I have read and reread the two experiences. Yes, I find the
LOVE-story curiously lacking in love.
[signed] Louise Closser Hale
Children of War
Not for a transient victory, or some
Stubborn belief that we alone are right;
Not for a code or conquest do we fight,
But for the crowded millions still to come.
This, unborn generations, is your war,
Although it is our blood that pays the price.
Be worthy, children, of our sacrifice,
And dare to make your lives worth fighting for.
We give up all we love that you may loathe
Intrigue and darkness, that you may disperse
The ranks of ugly tyrannies and, worse,
The sodden languor and complacent sloth.
Do not betray us, then, but come to be
Creation's crowning splendor, not its slave;
Knowing our lives were spent to keep you brave,
And that our deaths were meant to make you free.
[signed] Louis Untermeyer
Courtesy "Collier's Weekly."
Where the torrent of Broadway leaps highest in folly and the nights
are riddled with incandescent tire and chewing gum signs; jazz
bands and musical comedies to the ticket speculators' tune of five
dollars a seat, My Khaki-Boy, covered with the golden hoar of three
hundred Metropolitan nights rose to the slightly off key grand
finale of its eighty-first matinée, curtain slithering down to
the rub-a-dud-dub of a score of pink satin drummer boys with slim
ankles and curls; a Military Sextette of the most blooded of Broadway
ponies; a back ground of purple eye-lidded privates enlisted from
the ranks of Forty-Second Street; a three hundred and fifty dollar
a week sartorial sergeant in khaki and spotlight, embracing a ninety
pound ingénue in rhinestone shoulder-straps. The tired business
man and his lady friend, the Bronx and his wife, Adelia Ohio, Dead
heads, Bald heads, Sore heads, Suburbanites, Sybarites; the poor
dear public making exit sadder than wiser.
On the unpainted side of the down slithering curtain, a canvas
mountain-side was already rumbling rearward on castors. An overhead
of foliage jerked suddenly higher, revealed a vista of brick wall.
A soldiers' encampment, tents and all, rolled up like a window shade.
The ninety pound ingénue, withholding her silver-lace flouncings
from the raw edges of moving landscape, high-stepped to a rearward
dressing room; the khaki clad hero brushing past her and the pink
satin drummer boys for first place down a spiral staircase.
Miss Blossom De Voe, pinkest of satin drummer boys, withdrew
an affronted elbow, the corners of her mouth quivering slightly,
possibly of their own richness. They were dewy, fruit-like lips,
as if Nature were smiling with them at her own handiwork.
"Say, somebody around here better look where he's going or mama's
khaki-boy will be calling for an arnica high-ball. What does he
think I yam, the six o'clock subway rush?"
Miss Elaine Vavasour wound down the spiral ahead of Miss De Voe,
the pink satin blouse already in the removing.
"Go suck a quince Blos. It's good for crazy bone and fallen arch."
"If you was any funnier, Elaine, you'd float," said Miss De Voe
withdrawing a hair pin as she wound downward, an immediate avalanche
of springy curls released.
Beneath the stage of the Gotham Theater a corridor of dressing rooms
ran the musty subterranean length of the sub cellar. A gaseous
gloomy dampness here; this cave of the purple lidded, so far below
the level of reality.
At the door of Miss De Voe's eight by ten, shared by four, dressing
room, one of the back drop of privates, erect, squarebacked, head
thrown up by the deep-dipping cap vizor, emerged at sight of her,
lifted hat revealing a great permanent wave of hair that could only
be born not bought.
"Whose hot water bottle did you come to borrow?"
"Hot water bottle?"
"Yeh, you look like you got the double pneumonia and each one of
the pneumonia's got the tooth ache. Who stole your kite, ikkie
Mr. Hal Sanderson flung up a fine impatient head, the permanent
"We'll can the comedy, Blossum," he said.
She lowered to a mock curtsey, mouth skewed to control laughter,
"We will now sing psalm twenty-three."
"Come to supper with me, Blos? You been dodging me pretty steady
She clapped her hand to her brow, plastering a curl there.
"Migaw, I am now in the act of dropping thirty cents and ten cents
tip into my Pig Bank. Will I go to supper with him? Say, darling,
will the Hudson flow by Grant's monument to-night at twelve? On
a Saturday matinée he asks me to supper with a question mark."
"Honest, Bloss, you'd hand a fellow a ha ha if he invited you to
She sobered at that, leaning against the cold plastered wall,
winding one of the shining curls about her fore finger.
"What's the matter--Hal?"
He handed her a torn newspaper sheet, blue penciled.
She took it but did not glance down.
"Yes," he said.
The voice of a soubrette trilling snatches of her topical song as
she creamed off her make-up, came to them through the sulky gloom
of the corridor. Behind the closed door of Miss De Voe's dressing
room, the gabble of the pink satin ponies was like hash in the
chopping. Overhead, moving scenery created a remote sort of thunder.
She stood looking up at him, her young mouth parted.
"I--oh, Hal--well--well, whatta you know about that--Hal
He stepped closer, the pallor coming out stronger in his face,
enclosed her wrist, pressing it.
"Grover's drafted too."
"He's three thousand and one. Ten numbers before me."
Her irises were growing, blackening.
"Well, whatta you know about that? Grover White, the world's dancing
tenor, and Hal Sanderson the world dancing tenor's understudy,
drafted! The little tin soldiers are covered with rust and Uncle
Sam is going to--"
"Hurry, Bloss, get into your duds. I want to talk. Hurry. We'll
eat over at Ramy's."
She turned but flung out an arm, grasping now his wrist.
"I--oh, Hal--I--I just never was so--so sad and so--so glad!"
The door opened to a slit enclosing her. In his imitation uniform,
hand on empty carriage belt, Mr. Hal Sanderson stood there a moment,
his face whitening, tightening.
In Ramy's glorified basement, situated in one of the Forties which
flow like tributaries into the heady waters of Broadway, one may
dine from soup to nuts, raisins and regrest for one hour and sixty
cents. In Ramy's, courses may come and courses may go, but the
initiated one holds on to his fork forever. Here red wine flows
like water, being ninety-nine per cent., just that.
Across a water tumbler of ruby contents, Miss Blossom De Voe, the
turbulent curls all piled up beneath a slightly dusty but highly
effective amethyst velvet hat, regarded Mr. Sanderson, her perfect
lips trembling as it were, against an actual nausea of the spirit
which seemed to pull at them.
"Whadda you putting things up to me for, Hal? You're old enough
to know your own business."
Blue shaved, too correct in one of Broadway's black and white checked
Campus Suits, his face as cleanly chiseled and thrust forward as a
Discobolus, Mr. Sanderson patted an open letter spread out on the
table cloth between them, his voice rising carefully above the din
"There's fellows claiming exemption every hour of the day that
ain't got this much to show, Bloss. I was just wise enough to see
these things and get ready for 'em."
"You ain't your mother's sole support. What about them snapshots
of the two farms of hers out in Ohio you gave me?"
"But I got to be in this country to take charge of her affairs for
her--my mother's old, honey--ain't I the one to manager for her?
Only child and all that. Honest, Bloss, you need a brick house."
"Well, that old lawyer that wrote that letter has been doing it
all the time, why all of a sudden should you--"
He cast his eyes ceilingward, flopping his hands down loosely to
the table in an attitude of mock exhaustion.
"Oh, Lord, Bloss, lemme whistle it, maybe you can catch on the.
Brains, honey, little Hal's brains is what got that letter there
written. I seen this coming from the minute conscription was in
the air. Little Hal seen it coming, and got out his little hatchet.
Try to prove that I ain't the sole one to take charge of my mother's
affairs. Try to prove it. That's what I been fixing for myself
these two months, try to--"
"Brains is what done it,--every little thing of my mother's is in
my care. I fixed it. Now little Blossy-blossum will you be good?"
He regarded her with cocked head and face receptive for her approval.
"Now will you be good!"
She sat loosely, meeting his gaze, but her face as relaxed as her
attitude. A wintry stare had set in.
"Oh," she said, "I see." And turned away her head.
He reached closer across the table, regardless of the conglomerate
diners about, felt for her hand which lay limp and cold beside her
plate, and which she withdrew.
"Darling," he said, straining for her gaze.
"Darling, don't you see? It's fate knocking at our door. There's
not a chance rover can get exemption. He ain't eve got a fifth
cousin or a flat-foot!"
"Maybe he could claim exemption on dandruff."
"I'm serious, honey. It's going to be one of those cases where
an understudy wakes up to find himself famous. I can't fail if I
get this chance, Bloss. It's the moment I have been drudging for,
for five solid years. I never was in such voice as now, I never
was so fit. Not an ounce of fat. Not a song in the part I don't
know backwards. I tell you it's the hand of fate, Bloss, giving
us a hand-out. I can afford now, darling, to make good with you.
On three fifty a week I can ask a little queen like you to double
up with me. From thirty-five to three fifty! I tell you honey,
we're made. I'm going to dress my little dolly in cloth of gold
and silver fox. I'm going to perch her in the suite de luxe of
the swellest hotel in town. I'm--"
She pushed back from the table, turning more broadly from him.
"Don't," she said pressing her kerchief against her lips.
"Why--why what's the matter, Bloss? Why--why, what's the matter?"
"Don't talk to me for a minute," she said, still in profile; "I'll
be all right, only don't talk."
"Why, Bloss, you--sick?"
She shook her head. "No. No."
"You ain't getting cold feet now that we got the thing before us--in
"I dunno. I dunno. I--don't want nothing. That's all, nothing
but to be left alone."
He sucked his lips inward, biting at them.
"Don't--don't think I ain't noticed, Bloss, that you--you ain't
been the same--that you been different--for weeks. Sometimes I
think maybe you're going cold on--on this long engagement stuff.
That's why this thing is breaking just right for us, honey. I
felt you slippin' a little. I'm ready now, Peaches, we can't go
taxi-cabbing down for that license none too soon to suit me."
She shook her head, beating softly with one small fist into her
"No, Hal," she said, her mouth tightening and drawing down.
Suddenly she faced him, her hands both fists now, and coming down
with a force that shivered the china.
"You--you ain't a man, you ain't. You ain't a man, you--you're
a slacker! You're a slacker, that's what you are, and Gawd, how
I--how I hate a slacker!"
"Bloss--why, girl--you--you're cra---"
"Oh, I've known it. Deep down inside of me I've known it since
the day we found ourselves in the mess of this war. I knew it,
and all those months kept kidding myself that maybe--you--wasn't."
"Thought maybe when you'd read the newspapers enough and heard the
khaki-boys on the street corners enough, and listened to--to your
country pleading enough that--that you'd rise up to show you was
a man. I knew all these months down inside of me that you was a
slacker, but I kept hopin'. Gawd how I kept hopin'."
"You--you can't talk to me that way! You're---"
"Can't I! Ha! Anybody can talk any old way to a slacker he wants
to and then not say enough. You ain't got no guts you--you're
yellow, that's what you are, you--"
"You, sneaking up to me with trumped up exemption stuff when your
country's talking her great heart out for men to stand by 'er!
Gawd! If I was a man--If was a man she wouldn't have to ask me
twice, but before I went marching off I'd take time off to help the
street cleaning department wipe up a few streets with the slackers
I found loafing around under a government they were afraid to fight
for. I'd show 'em. I'd show 'em if a government is good enough
to live under it's good enough to fight under. I'd show 'em."
"If you was a man, Blossum, you'd eat those words. By God, you'd
eat 'em. I'm no coward--I--"
"I know you're not, Hal--that's why I--I--"
"I got the right to decide for myself if I want to fight when I
don't know what I'm fighting for. This ain't my war, this ain't
America's war. Before I fight in it I want a darn sight to know
what I'm fighting for, and not all the street corner rah rah stuff
has told me yet. I ain't a bull to go crazy with a lot of red
waved in my face. I've got no blood to spill in the other fellow's
"No, but you--"
"I'm at a point in my life that I've worked like a dog to reach.
Let the fellows that love the hero stuff give up their arms and
their legs and the breath that's in them for something they don't
know the meaning of. Because some big-gun of a Emperor out in
Austria was assassinated, I ain't going to bleed to death for it.
It's us poor devils that get the least out of the government that
right away are called on to give the most, it's us---"
"Hal, ain't--ain't you ashamed!"
"No. I ain't ashamed and I ain't afraid. You know it ain't because
I'm afraid. I've licked more fellows in my time than most fellows
can boast. I--I got the Fifty-fifth Street fire rescue medal to my
credit if anybody should ask you. I--I--ask anybody from my town
if any kid in it ever licked me. But I ain't going to fight when
I ain't got a grudge against no man. Call that being a coward if
you like, but then you and me don't speak the same language."
Her silence seemed to give off an icy vapor.
"That's what they all say," she said. "It's like hiding behind a
petticoat, hiding behind a defense like that. Sure you ain't got
a grudge. Maybe you don't know what it's all about--God knows who
does. Nobody can deny that. There ain't nothing reasonable about
war, if there was there wouldn't be none. That talk don't get you
nowheres. The proposition is that we're at war, whatever you or
anybody else may think of it."
"That's just it--we didn't have no say-so."
"Just the same, Hal Sanderson, this great big grand country of ours
is at war, and needs you. It ain't what you think any more that
counts. Before we was in war you could talk all you wanted, but
now that we're IN, there's only one thing to do, only one, and not
all your fine talk about peace can change it. One thing to do.
"No government can make me--"
"If you want peace now it's up to you to help make it, a new peace
and a grander peace, not go baying at the moon after a peace that
ain't no more."
"You better get a soap box. If this is the way you got of trying
to get out of something you're sorry for, I'll let you off easier--you
don't need to try to---"
She regarded him with her lips quivering, a quick layer of tears
forming, trembling and venturing to the edge of her lashes.
"Hal--Hal--a--a fellow that I've banked on like I have you! It
ain't that--you know it ain't. I could have waited for ten times
this long. It's only I--I'm ashamed, Hal. Ashamed. there ain't
been a single gap in the chorus from one of the men enlisting that
my heart ain't just dropped in my shoes like dough. I never envied
a girl on my life the way I did Elaine Vavasour when she stood on
the curb at the Battery the other day crying and watching Charlie
Kirkpatrick go marching off. Charlie was a pacifist, too, as long
as the country was out of war, and there was something to argue
about. The minute the question was settled, he shut up, buckled
on his belt and went! That's the kind of a pacifist to be. The
kind of fellow that when he sees peace slipping, buckles on and
starts out for a new peace; a realer peace. That's the kind of a
fellow I thought you--you---"
Her voice broke then abruptly, in a rain of tears, and she raised
the crook of her arm to her face with the gesture of a child.
"That--that's the kind of a fellow I--I---"
His cigarette discarded and curling up in a little column of smoke
between them, he sat regarding her, a heave surge of red rising
above the impeccable white of his collar into the roots of his hair.
It was as if her denouncement had come down in a welt across his
"Nobody ever--nobody ever dared to talk like this to me before.
Nobody ever dared to call me a coward. Nobody. Because it ain't
"I know it ain't, Hal. If it was could I have been so strong for
you all these months? I knew the way you showed yourself in the
Fifty-fifth Street fire. I read about it in the papers before I
ever knew you. I--I know the way you mauled Ed Stein, twice your
size, the night he tried to--to get fresh with me. I know you
ain't a slacker in your heart, Hal, but I--I couldn't marry a man
that got fake exemption. Couldn't, no matter how it broke my heart
to see him go marching off! Couldn't! Couldn't!"
"That's what it means, Blossum--marching off!"
"I know it, but how--how could I marry a man that wasn't fit to
war his country's uniform even in a show. I--I couldn't marry a
man like that if it meant the solid gold suite in the solid goldest
hotel in this town. I couldn't marry a--a fake khaki-boy!"
"Ain't there no limit, Bloss, to the way you can make a fellow feel
like dirt under your feet? My God! ain't there no limit?"
"There--there's nothing on earth can make a man of you, Hal, nothing
on God's earth but War! Every once in a while there's some little
reason seems to spring up for there bein' a war. You're one of them
reasons, Hal. Down in my heart I know it that you'll come back,
and when I get a hunch it's a hunch! Down in my heart I know it,
dear, that you'll come back to me. But you'll come back a man,
you'll come back with the yellow streak pure gold, you'll-you'll
come back to me pure gold, dear. I know it. I know it."
His head was back as if his throat were open to the stroke of her
words, but there was that growing in his face which was enormous,
translucent, even apogean.
He tore up the paper between them, slowly, and in criss crosses.
"And you, Blossom?" he said, not taking his eyes, with their growing
lights, off her.
"Why, I'll be waiting, Hal," she said, the pink coming out to flood
her face, "I'll be waiting--Sweetheart."
[signed] Fannie Hurst
The Married Slacker
[This is a comic strip in three panels. I'll do my best to describe
each panel and then put the text which comes beneath the panel.]
[Panel 1: A man and woman sit at a meal with pictures of Washington
and Lincoln glowering from the wall in the man's full view behind
the woman. The woman is reading a paper. The man is listening,
but not looking at the woman, rather at his meal in front of him.
A maid brings coffee cups on a platter.]
SHE (reading)--"At 5:15, the barrage was raised, and the Americans
advanced to attack. The long line moved forward like the steady
on-sweep of the tide--unwavering, irresistible, implacable." Oh,
isn't it perfectly wonderful! I knew our men would fight gloriously!
And just listen to this:
[Panel 2: The images of Washington and Lincoln have doubled
in size and the eyes clearly glare at the man. The man now shows
beads of sweat around his head and wears an expression of distress.
The woman continues to read the paper. The maid departs the scene
having delivered the coffee cups.]
SHE (reading)--"The Germans fought desperately but the American
lines never wavered in their onward course. Sometimes the broad
stretch of the battlefield was enveloped in great volumes of smoke,
but a moment later, as the air cleared, the same lines were to
be seen moving onward. At 6:45, the sound of cheering was heard
amidst the din of the battle and a few moments later, the message
was sent back that the American troops had captured the great German
[Panel 3: The images of Washington and Lincoln are now almost
fully the size of the wall and marks of consternation and anger are
clear on their brows as they glare at the man. The woman continues
to read the paper without looking up. The man is fleeing the room
in great haste with his arms in the air. He has knocked over his
chair in his haste and has bumped into the maid who was returning
with a coffee pot and biscuits. The man's face is obscured by
raised hands and his overcoat, but he is clearly fleeing.]
SHE (reading)--"The American victory of yesterday may well mark
the beginning of the end of the war. London and Paris are ringing
with the praises of the American soldiers. President Wilson has
proclaimed a national holiday in celebration of the triumph, and
the American soldier has won imperishable glory as a fighting man."
[The last panel is signed] McCutcheon
Hymn for America
Air: "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled"
Where's the man, in all the earth--
Man of want or man of worth--
Who shall now to rank or birth
Knee of homage bend?
Though he war with chance or fate,
If his heart be free of hate,
If his soul with love be great,
He shall be our friend.
Where's the man, of wealth or wage,
Dare be traitor to his age,
To the people's heritage
Won by war and woe,--
Counting but as private good
All the gain of brotherhood
By the base so long withstood?
He shall be our foe.
Where's the man that does not feel
Freedom as the common weal,
Duty's sword the only steel
Can the battle end?
Comrades, chant in unison
Creed the noblest 'neath the sun:
"One for all and all for one,"
Till each foe be friend.
[signed] Robert Underwood Johnson
The Breaking Out of the Flags
It is April,
And the snow lingers on the dark sides of evergreens;
The grass is brown and soggy
With only a faint, occasional overwash of green.
But under the leafless branches
The white bells of snowdrops are nodding and shaking
Above their green sheaths.
Snow, fir-trees, snowdrops--stem and flower--
Nature offers us only white and green
At this so early springtime.
But man gives more.
Man has unfurled a Nation's flags
Above the city streets;
He has flung a striped and starry symbol of bright colors
Down every curving way.
Blossoms of War,
Blossoms of Suffering,
Strange beautiful flowers of the New Year:
Over door lintels and cornices,
Above peaked gables and flat mansard-roofs
Flutter the flags.
The avenues are arcaded with them,
The narrow alleys are bleached with stripes and stars.
For War is declared,
And the people gird themselves
Only the flags make arabesques in the sunshine,
Twining the red of blood and the silver of achievement
Into a gay, waving pattern
Over the awful, unflinching Destiny
The flags ripple and jar
To the tramp of marching men,
to the rumble of caissons over cobblestones.
From seaboard to seaboard
And beyond, across the green waves of the sea,
They flap and fly.
Men plant potatoes and click typewriters
In the shadow of them,
And khaki-clad soldiers
Lift their eyes to the garish red and blue
And turn back to their khaki tasks
The clock strikes.
The spring is upon us,
The seed of our forefathers
Quickens again in the soil,
And these flags are the small, early flowers
Of the solstice of our Hope!
Thru suffering to Peace!
Thru sacrifice to Security!
Turn us not from our purpose,
Lead us up as by a ladder
To the deep blue quiet
Wherein are shining
The silver stars.
Soldiers, sailors, clerks, and office boys,
Men, and Women--but not children,
No! Not children!
Let these march
With their paper caps and toy rifles
And feel only the panoply of War--
But the others,
Welded and forged,
Seared, melted, broken,
Molded without flaw,
Slowly, faithfully pursuing a Purpose,
A Purpose of Peace,
Even into the very flame of Death.
Over the city,
Over all the cities,
Flags of spring,
Flags of burgeoning,
Flags of fulfillment.
[signed] Amy Lowell
London, April 20, 1917
It was the evening of our Day; that young April day when in
the solemn vastness of St. Paul's were held the services to mark
America's historic entrance into the Great World War. Across the
mighty arch of the Chancel on either side hung the Stars and Stripes
and the Union Jack.
From the organ pealed those American songs to which half a century
ago, in another war for Freedom, men marched to battle, and, even
if by ways of defeat and death, to ultimate Victory. How many there
were that April day for whom the sight of the Stars and Stripes was
blurred with tears. How the familiar airs and simple words pained
us with the memory of our distant homes. Perhaps for the first
time we understood the solemn significance of this dedication to
war of what we hardly knew was so unspeakably dear.
In the Crypt of St. Paul's, Mausoleum of England's greatest soldier
and sailor heroes, their ashes rest who once fought and conquered.
If it is given to those who have gone before to hear our human
appeal, perhaps the immortal spirits of Nelson, of Wellington, of
Kitchener, whose tragic fate is its unfulfilled destiny, may have
rested like an inspiration on that kindred nation offering the
sacrifice of all it holds most sacred to the cause of Divine Justice.
After the solemn benediction thousands streamed slowly out to mingle
with the multitudes gathered before the great Entrance where Queen
Anne in crown and scepter keeps majestic guard, and where in peaceful
days doves flit and flutter down to peck at the grain strewn about
her royal feet.
Stern and momentous times have passed over that old, gray Cathedral;
times of a Nation's grief and a Nation's rejoicing. But of all such
days, in its centuries of existence, none has been so momentous for
the destiny of the Empire as that sunny April day. And yet--and
yet--perhaps more touching, more solemn, even than the High
Service at St. Paul's, that which stirred Americans even more who
love England with only a lesser love, and made us realize as never
before what America stands for, joint defender now of the new
Civilization, was the silent symbol of her dedication to the Cause
of Human Freedom, for all London to see and on which, seeing, to
reflect. It was the symbol of that for which Statesmen who were
also prophets, have lived and toiled.
It rose against the glowing West, never to be forgotten by those
who saw it at the close of Our Day, for it marked the new Epoch.
Now at last "Let the dead Past bury its Dead."
Along Whitehall, down Parliament Street, and where towards the left
Westminster Bridge spans its immortal river, stand the Houses of
Parliament, their delicate tracery of stonework etched against the
Hurrying crowds, released from the day's toil, stopped here, as if
by a common impulse, to gaze upwards, and, gazing in silent wonder,
they saw such a sight as London has never seen before. On the
highest pinnacle of the Victoria tower where the flag of another
nation has never before shared its proud eminence there floated
together from one flagstaff Old Glory and the Union Jack.
That was America's supreme consecration.
[signed] Annie E. Lane (Mrs. John Lane)
Pour La Patrie
They were brothers, Louis and François, standing in the presence of
the Prussian commander, looking hopelessly into his cold, unsmiling
eyes. For the third time in as many days he was bargaining with
them for that which God had given them and they in turn had promised
to France: their lives.
"Do not make the mistake of thinking that we exalt you for what
you may call courage, or that your country will sing your praises,"
said the general harshly. "Your country will never know how or when
you die. You have nothing to gain by dying, not even the credit
François allowed his hot, dry eyes to sweep slowly around the group.
He was pale, his forehead wet.
"You are soldiers," said he, his voice low and steady. "Is there
one among you who would do the thing we are asked to do? If there is
one man here who will stand forth in the presence of his comrades
and say that he would betray Germany as you are asking us to
betray France,--if there is such a man among you, let him speak,
and the,--then I will do what you ask of me."
A dozen pairs of hard implacable eyes returned his challenge. No
man spoke. No man smiled.