Part 5 out of 9
So Pierre Thierry told her all he knew. They were preparing
despatches he was at once to carry back to the General Staff,
and, for the moment, his time was his own. How could he
better employ it than in talking of the war with a patriotic
and charming French woman?
In consequence Marie acquired a mass of facts, gossip, and
guesses. From these she mentally selected such information as,
to her employers across the Aisne, would be of vital interest.
And to rid herself of Thierry and on the fourth floor seek
Anfossi was now her only wish. But, in attempting this, by
the return of the adjutant she was delayed. To Thierry the
adjutant gave a sealed envelope.
"Thirty-one, Boulevard des Invalides," he said. With a smile he
turned to Marie. "And you will accompany him!"
"I!" exclaimed Marie. She was sick with sudden terror.
But the tolerant smile of the adjutant reassured her.
"The count, your husband," he explained, "has learned of your
detention here by the enemy, and he has besieged the General
Staff to have you convoyed safely to Paris." The adjutant glanced
at a field telegram he held open in his hand. "He asks," he continued,
"that you be permitted to return in the car of his friend, Captain
Thierry, and that on arriving you join him at the Grand Hotel."
Thierry exclaimed with delight.
"But how charming!" he cried. "To-night you must both dine with
me at La Rue's." He saluted his superior officer. "Some petrol,
sir," he said. "And I am ready." To Marie he added: "The car will
be at the steps in five minutes." He turned and left them.
The thoughts of Marie, snatching at an excuse for delay, raced
madly. The danger of meeting the Count d'Aurillac, her supposed
husband, did not alarm her. The Grand Hotel has many exits, and,
even before they reached it, for leaving the car she could invent
an excuse that the gallant Thierry would not suspect. But what
now concerned her was how, before she was whisked away to Paris,
she could convey to Anfossi the information she had gathered from
Thierry. First, of a woman overcome with delight at being reunited
with her husband she gave an excellent imitation; then she exclaimed
in distress: "But my aunt, Madame Benet!" she cried. "I cannot leave
"The Sisters of St. Francis," said the adjutant, "arrive within an hour
to nurse the wounded. They will care also for your aunt."
Marie concealed her chagrin. "Then I will at once prepare to go,"
The adjutant handed her a slip of paper. "Your laissez-passer to
Paris," he said. "You leave in five minutes, madame!"
As temporary hostess of the chateau Marie was free to visit
any part of it, and as she passed her door a signal from Madame
Benet told her that Anfossi was on the fourth floor, that he was
at work, and that the coast was clear. Softly, in the felt slippers
she always wore, as she explained, in order not to disturb the
wounded, she mounted the staircase. In her hand she carried
the housekeeper's keys, and as an excuse it was her plan to return
with an armful of linen for the arriving Sisters. But Marie never
reached the top of the stairs. When her eyes rose to the level
of the fourth floor she came to a sudden halt. At what she saw
terror gripped her, bound her hand and foot, and turned her blood
At her post for an instant Madame Benet had slept, and an officer
of the staff, led by curiosity, chance, or suspicion, had, unobserved
and unannounced, mounted to the fourth floor. When Marie saw
him he was in front of the room that held the wireless. His back
was toward her, but she saw that he was holding the door to the
room ajar, that his eye was pressed to the opening, and that
through it he had pushed the muzzle of his automatic. What
would be the fate of Anfossi Marie knew. Nor did she for an
instant consider it. Her thoughts were of her own safety; that
she might live.
Not that she might still serve the Wilhelmstrasse, the Kaiser, or
the Fatherland; but that she might live. In a moment Anfossi
would be denounced, the chateau would ring with the alarm, and,
though she knew Anfossi would not betray her, by others she might
be accused. To avert suspicion from herself she saw only one way
open. She must be the first to denounce Anfossi.
Like a deer, she leaped down the marble stairs and, in a panic
she had no need to assume, burst into the presence of the staff.
"Gentlemen!" she gasped, "my servant--the chauffeur--Briand is a
spy! There is a German wireless in the chateau. He is using it!
I have seen him." With exclamations, the officers rose to their
feet. General Andre alone remained seated. General Andre was
a veteran of many Colonial wars: Cochin-China, Algiers, Morocco.
The great war, when it came, found him on duty in the Intelligence
Department. His aquiline nose, bristling white eyebrows, and
flashing, restless eyes gave him his nickname of l'Aigle.
In amazement, the flashing eyes were now turned upon Marie. He
glared at her as though he thought she suddenly had flown mad.
"A German wireless!" he protested. "It is impossible!"
"I was on the fourth floor," panted Marie, "collecting linen for
the Sisters. In the room next to the linen-closet I heard a strange
buzzing sound. I opened the door softly. I saw Briand with his
back to me seated by an instrument. There were receivers clamped
to his ears! My God! The disgrace! The disgrace to my husband and
to me, who vouched for him to you!" Apparently in an agony of
remorse, the fingers of the woman laced and interlaced. "I cannot
The officers moved toward the door, but General Andre halted
them. Still in a tone of incredulity, he demanded: "When did you
Marie knew the question was coming, knew she must explain how
she saw Briand, and yet did not see the staff officer who, with his
prisoner, might now at any instant appear. She must make it plain
she had discovered the spy and left the upper part of the house
before the officer had visited it. When that was she could not
know, but the chance was that he had preceded her by only a
"When did you see this?" repeated the general.
"But just now," cried Marie; "not ten minutes since."
"Why did you not come to me at once?"
"I was afraid," replied Marie. "If I moved I was afraid he might hear
me, and he, knowing I would expose him, would kill me-and so
escape you!" There was an eager whisper of approval. For silence,
General Andre slapped his hand upon the table.
"Then," continued Marie, "I understood with the receivers on his
ears he could not have heard me open the door, nor could he hear
me leave, and I ran to my aunt. The thought that we had harbored
such an animal sickened me, and I was weak enough to feel faint.
But only for an instant. Then I came here." She moved swiftly to
the door. "Let me show you the room," she begged; "you can take
him in the act." Her eyes, wild with the excitement of the chase,
swept the circle. "Will you come?" she begged.
Unconscious of the crisis he interrupted, the orderly on duty
opened the door.
"Captain Thierry's compliments," he recited mechanically, "and is
he to delay longer for Madame d'Aurillac?"
With a sharp gesture General Andre waved Marie toward the door.
Without rising, he inclined his head. "Adieu, madame," he said.
"We act at once upon your information. I thank you!"
As she crossed from the hall to the terrace, the ears of the spy were
assaulted by a sudden tumult of voices. They were raised in threats
and curses. Looking back, she saw Anfossi descending the stairs.
His hands were held above his head; behind him, with his automatic,
the staff officer she had surprised on the fourth floor was driving him
forward. Above the clinched fists of the soldiers that ran to meet him,
the eyes of Anfossi were turned toward her. His face was expressionless.
His eyes neither accused nor reproached. And with the joy of one who
has looked upon and then escaped the guillotine, Marie ran down the
steps to the waiting automobile. With a pretty cry of pleasure she leaped
into the seat beside Thierry. Gayly she threw out her arms. "To Paris!"
she commanded. The handsome eyes of Thierry, eloquent with
admiration, looked back into hers. He stooped, threw in the clutch,
and the great gray car, with the machine gun and its crew of privates
guarding the rear, plunged through the park.
"To Paris!" echoed Thierry.
In the order in which Marie had last seen them, Anfossi and the
staff officer entered the room of General Andre, and upon the
soldiers in the hall the door was shut. The face of the staff
officer was grave, but his voice could not conceal his elation.
"My general," he reported, "I found this man in the act of giving
information to the enemy. There is a wireless-"
General Andre rose slowly. He looked neither at the officer nor
at his prisoner. With frowning eyes he stared down at the maps
upon his table.
"I know," he interrupted. "Some one has already told me." He
paused, and then, as though recalling his manners, but still
without raising his eyes, he added: "You have done well, sir."
In silence the officers of the staff stood motionless. With surprise
they noted that, as yet, neither in anger nor curiosity had General
Andre glanced at the prisoner. But of the presence of the general
the spy was most acutely conscious. He stood erect, his arms still
raised, but his body strained forward, and on the averted eyes of the
general his own were fixed.
In an agony of supplication they asked a question.
At last, as though against his wish, toward the spy the general
turned his head, and their eyes met. And still General Andre was
silent. Then the arms of the spy, like those of a runner who has
finished his race and breasts the tape exhausted, fell to his sides.
In a voice low and vibrant he spoke his question.
"It has been so long, sir," he pleaded. "May I not come home?"
General Andre turned to the astonished group surrounding him. His
voice was hushed like that of one who speaks across an open grave.
"Gentlemen," he began, "my children," he added. "A German spy, a
woman, involved in a scandal your brother in arms, Henri Ravignac.
His honor, he thought, was concerned, and without honor he refused
to live. To prove him guiltless his younger brother Charles asked
leave to seek out the woman who had betrayed Henri, and by us was
detailed on secret service. He gave up home, family, friends. He lived
in exile, in poverty, at all times in danger of a swift and ignoble death.
In the War Office we know him as one who has given to his country
services she cannot hope to reward. For she cannot return to him the
years he has lost. She cannot return to him his brother. But she can
and will clear the name of Henri Ravignac, and upon his brother
Charles bestow promotion and honors."
The general turned and embraced the spy. "My children," he said,
"welcome your brother. He has come home."
Before the car had reached the fortifications, Marie Gessler had
arranged her plan of escape. She had departed from the chateau
without even a hand-bag, and she would say that before the shops
closed she must make purchases.
Le Printemps lay in their way, and she asked that, when they
reached it, for a moment she might alight. Captain Thierry
readily gave permission.
From the department store it would be most easy to disappear,
and in anticipation Marie smiled covertly. Nor was the picture
of Captain Thierry impatiently waiting outside unamusing.
But before Le Printemps was approached, the car turned sharply
down a narrow street. On one side, along its entire length, ran a
high gray wall, grim and forbidding. In it was a green gate studded
with iron bolts. Before this the automobile drew suddenly to a halt.
The crew of the armored car tumbled off the rear seat, and one of
them beat upon the green gate. Marie felt a hand of ice clutch at her
throat. But she controlled herself.
"And what is this?" she cried gayly.
At her side Captain Thierry was smiling down at her, but his
smile was hateful.
"It is the prison of St. Lazare," he said. "It is not becoming,"
he added sternly, "that the name of the Countess d'Aurillac
should be made common as the Paris road!"
Fighting for her life, Marie thrust herself against him; her
arm that throughout the journey had rested on the back of the
driving-seat caressed his shoulders; her lips and the violet eyes
were close to his.
"Why should you care?" she whispered fiercely. "You have me! Let
the Count d'Aurillac look after the honor of his wife himself."
The charming Thierry laughed at her mockingly.
"He means to," he said. "I am the Count d'Aurillac!"
In Salonika, the American consul, the Standard Oil man, and
the war correspondents formed the American colony. The
correspondents were waiting to go to the front. Incidentally,
as we waited, the front was coming rapidly toward us. There
was "Uncle" Jim, the veteran of many wars, and of all the
correspondents, in experience the oldest and in spirit the
youngest, and there was the Kid, and the Artist. The Kid
jeered at us, and proudly described himself as the only Boy
Reporter who jumped from a City Hall assignment to cover a
European War. "I don't know strategy," he would boast; "neither
does the Man at Home. He wants 'human interest' stuff, and I give
him what he wants. I write exclusively for the subway guard and
the farmers in the wheat belt. When you fellows write about the
'Situation,' they don't understand it. Neither do you. Neither does
Venizelos or the King. I don't understand it myself. So, I write my
people heart-to-heart talks about refugees and wounded, and what
kind of ploughs the Servian peasants use, and that St. Paul wrote
his letters to the Thessalonians from the same hotel where I write
mine; and I tell 'em to pronounce Salonika 'eeka,' and not put
the accent on the 'on.' This morning at the refugee camp I found
all the little Servians of the Frothingham unit in American Boy
Scout uniforms. That's my meat. That's 'home week' stuff. You
fellows write for the editorial page; and nobody reads it. I write
for the man that turns first to Mutt and Jeff, and then looks to see
where they are running the new Charlie Chaplin release. When
that man has to choose between 'our military correspondent' and
the City Hall Reporter, he chooses me!"
The third man was John, "Our Special Artist." John could write
a news story, too, but it was the cartoons that had made him
famous. They were not comic page, but front page cartoons, and
before making up their minds what they thought, people waited to
see what their Artist thought. So, it was fortunate his thoughts
were as brave and clean as they were clever. He was the original
Little Brother to the Poor. He was always giving away money.
When we caught him, he would prevaricate. He would say the man
was a college chum, that he had borrowed the money from him,
and that this was the first chance he had had to pay it back. The Kid
suggested it was strange that so many of his college chums should
at the same moment turn up, dead broke, in Salonika, and that
half of them should be women.
John smiled disarmingly. "It was a large college," he explained,
"and coeducational." There were other Americans; Red Cross
doctors and nurses just escaped through the snow from the
Bulgars, and hyphenated Americans who said they had taken
out their first papers. They thought hyphenated citizens were
so popular with us, that we would pay their passage to New York.
In Salonika they were transients. They had no local standing. They
had no local lying-down place, either, or place to eat, or to wash,
although they did not look as though that worried them, or place
to change their clothes. Or clothes to change. It was because we
had clothes to change, and a hotel bedroom, instead of a bench in
a cafe, that we were ranked as residents and from the Greek police
held a "permission to sojourn." Our American colony was a very
close corporation. We were only six Americans against 300,000
British, French, Greek, and Servian soldiers, and 120,000 civilian
Turks, Spanish Jews, Armenians, Persians, Egyptians, Albanians,
and Arabs, and some twenty more other races that are not listed.
We had arrived in Salonika before the rush, and at the Hotel Hermes
on the water-front had secured a vast room. The edge of the stone
quay was not forty feet from us, the only landing steps directly
opposite our balcony. Everybody who arrived on the Greek
passenger boats from Naples or the Piraeus, or who had shore
leave from a man-of-war, transport, or hospital ship, was raked
by our cameras. There were four windows--one for each of us
and his work table. It was not easy to work. What was the use?
The pictures and stories outside the windows fascinated us, but
when we sketched them or wrote about them, they only proved
us inadequate. All day long the pinnaces, cutters, gigs, steam
launches shoved and bumped against the stone steps, marines
came ashore for the mail, stewards for fruit and fish, Red Cross
nurses to shop, tiny midshipmen to visit the movies, and the
sailors and officers of the Russian, French, British, Italian,
and Greek war-ships to stretch their legs in the park of the Tour
Blanche, or to cramp them under a cafe table. Sometimes the
ambulances blocked the quay and the wounded and frost-bitten
were lifted into the motor-boats, and sometimes a squad of marines
lined the landing stage, and as a coffin under a French or English
flag was borne up the stone steps stood at salute. So crowded
was the harbor that the oars of the boatmen interlocked.
Close to the stone quay, stretched along the three-mile circle,
were the fishing smacks, beyond them, so near that the anchor
chains fouled, were the passenger ships with gigantic Greek flags
painted on their sides, and beyond them transports from Marseilles,
Malta, and Suvla Bay, black colliers, white hospital ships, burning
green electric lights, red-bellied tramps and freighters, and, hemming
them in, the grim, mouse-colored destroyers, submarines, cruisers,
dreadnaughts. At times, like a wall, the cold fog rose between us
and the harbor, and again the curtain would suddenly be ripped
asunder, and the sun would flash on the brass work of the fleet,
on the white wings of the aeroplanes, on the snow-draped
shoulders of Mount Olympus. We often speculated as to how
in the early days the gods and goddesses, dressed as they were,
or as they were not, survived the snows of Mount Olympus. Or
was it only their resort for the summer?
It got about that we had a vast room to ourselves, where one
might obtain a drink, or a sofa for the night, or even money to
cable for money. So, we had many strange visitors, some half
starved, half frozen, with terrible tales of the Albanian trail,
of the Austrian prisoners fallen by the wayside, of the mountain
passes heaped with dead, of the doctors and nurses wading
waist-high in snow-drifts and for food killing the ponies. Some
of our visitors wanted to get their names in the American papers
so that the folks at home would know they were still alive,
others wanted us to keep their names out of the papers, hoping
the police would think them dead; another, convinced it was of
pressing news value, desired us to advertise the fact that he had
invented a poisonous gas for use in the trenches. With difficulty
we prevented him from casting it adrift in our room. Or, he had
for sale a second-hand motor-cycle, or he would accept a position
as barkeeper, or for five francs would sell a state secret that, once
made public, in a month would end the war. It seemed cheap at
Each of us had his "scouts" to bring him the bazaar rumor, the
Turkish bath rumor, the cafe rumor. Some of our scouts journeyed
as far afield as Monastir and Doiran, returning to drip snow on
the floor, and to tell us tales, one-half of which we refused to
believe, and the other half the censor refused to pass. With each
other's visitors it was etiquette not to interfere. It would have
been like tapping a private wire. When we found John sketching
a giant stranger in a cap and coat of wolf skin we did not seek
to know if he were an Albanian brigand, or a Servian prince
incognito, and when a dark Levantine sat close to the Kid,
whispering, and the Kid banged on his typewriter, we did not
So, when I came in one afternoon and found a strange American
youth writing at John's table, and no one introduced us, I took
it for granted he had sold the Artist an "exclusive" story, and
asked no questions. But I could not help hearing what they said.
Even though I tried to drown their voices by beating on the Kid's
typewriter. I was taking my third lesson, and I had printed, "I
Amm 5w writjng This, 5wjth my own lilly w?ite handS," when I
heard the Kid saying:
"You can beat the game this way. Let John buy you a ticket to the
Piraeus. If you go from one Greek port to another you don't need
a vise. But, if you book from here to Italy, you must get a permit
from the Italian consul, and our consul, and the police. The plot
is to get out of the war zone, isn't it? Well, then, my dope is to get
out quick, and map the rest of your trip when you're safe in Athens."
It was no business of mine, but I had to look up. The stranger
was now pacing the floor. I noticed that while his face was
almost black with tan, his upper lip was quite white. I noticed
also that he had his hands in the pockets of one of John's blue
serge suits, and that the pink silk shirt he wore was one that
once had belonged to the Kid. Except for the pink shirt, in the
appearance of the young man there was nothing unusual. He was
of a familiar type. He looked like a young business man from our
Middle West, matter-of-fact and unimaginative, but capable and
self-reliant. If he had had a fountain pen in his upper waistcoat
pocket, I would have guessed he was an insurance agent, or the
publicity man for a new automobile. John picked up his hat,
and said, "That's good advice. Give me your steamer ticket, Fred,
and I'll have them change it." He went out; but he did not ask
Fred to go with him.
Uncle Jim rose, and murmured something about the Cafe Roma,
and tea. But neither did he invite Fred to go with him. Instead,
he told him to make himself at home, and if he wanted anything
the waiter would bring it from the cafe downstairs. Then the Kid,
as though he also was uncomfortable at being left alone with us,
hurried to the door. "Going to get you a suit-case," he explained.
"Back in five minutes."
The stranger made no answer. Probably he did not hear him. Not a
hundred feet from our windows three Greek steamers were huddled
together, and the eyes of the American were fixed on them. The
one for which John had gone to buy him a new ticket lay nearest.
She was to sail in two hours. Impatiently, in short quick steps,
the stranger paced the length of the room, but when he turned and
so could see the harbor, he walked slowly, devouring it with his
eyes. For some time, in silence, he repeated this manoeuvre; and
then the complaints of the typewriter disturbed him. He halted
and observed my struggles. Under his scornful eye, in my
embarrassment I frequently hit the right letter. "You a
newspaper man, too?" he asked. I boasted I was, but
begged not to be judged by my typewriting.
"I got some great stories to write when I get back to God's country,"
he announced. "I was a reporter for two years in Kansas City before
the war, and now I'm going back to lecture and write. I got enough
material to keep me at work for five years. All kinds of stuff--
specials, fiction, stories, personal experiences, maybe a novel."
I regarded him with envy. For the correspondents in the
greatest of all wars the pickings had been meagre. "You
are to be congratulated," I said. He brushed aside my
congratulations. "For what?" he demanded. "I didn't go
after the stories; they came to me. The things I saw I had
to see. Couldn't get away from them. I've been with the
British, serving in the R. A. M. C. Been hospital steward,
stretcher bearer, ambulance driver. I've been sixteen months
at the front, and all the time on the firing-line. I was in the
retreat from Mons, with French on the Marne, at Ypres, all
through the winter fighting along the Canal, on the Gallipoli
Peninsula, and, just lately, in Servia. I've seen more of this
war than any soldier. Because, sometimes, they give the soldier
a rest; they never give the medical corps a rest. The only rest I
got was when I was wounded."
He seemed no worse for his wounds, so again I tendered
congratulations. This time he accepted them. The recollection
of the things he had seen, things incredible, terrible, unique in
human experience, had stirred him. He talked on, not boastfully,
but in a tone, rather, of awe and disbelief, as though assuring
himself that it was really he to whom such things had happened.
"I don't believe there's any kind of fighting I haven't seen," he
declared; "hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets, grenades, gun
butts. I've seen 'em on their knees in the mud choking each
other, beating each other with their bare fists. I've seen every
kind of airship, bomb, shell, poison gas, every kind of wound.
Seen whole villages turned into a brickyard in twenty minutes;
in Servia seen bodies of women frozen to death, bodies of babies
starved to death, seen men in Belgium swinging from trees; along
the Yzer for three months I saw the bodies of men I'd known
sticking out of the mud, or hung up on the barb wire, with the
crows picking them.
"I've seen some of the nerviest stunts that ever were pulled off
in history. I've seen real heroes. Time and time again I've seen
a man throw away his life for his officer, or for a chap he didn't
know, just as though it was a cigarette butt. I've seen the women
nurses of our corps steer a car into a village and yank out a wounded
man while shells were breaking under the wheels and the houses
were pitching into the streets." He stopped and laughed consciously.
"Understand," he warned me, "I'm not talking about myself, only of
things I've seen. The things I'm going to put in my book. It ought
to be a pretty good book-what?"
My envy had been washed clean in admiration.
"It will make a wonderful book," I agreed. "Are you going to
syndicate it first?"
Young Mr. Hamlin frowned importantly.
"I was thinking," he said, "of asking John for letters to the magazine
editors. So, they'll know I'm not faking, that I've really been through
it all. Letters from John would help a lot." Then he asked anxiously:
"They would, wouldn't they?"
I reassured him. Remembering the Kid's gibes at John and his
numerous dependents, I said: "You another college chum of John's?"
The young man answered my question quite seriously. "No," he said;
"John graduated before I entered; but we belong to the same fraternity.
It was the luckiest chance in the world my finding him here. There was
a month-old copy of the Balkan News blowing around camp, and his
name was in the list of arrivals. The moment I found he was in Salonika,
I asked for twelve hours leave, and came down in an ambulance. I made
straight for John; gave him the grip, and put it up to him to help me."
"I don't understand," I said. "I thought you were sailing on the
The young man was again pacing the floor. He halted and faced the
"You bet I'm sailing on the Adriaticus," he said. He looked out at
that vessel, at the Blue Peter flying from her foremast, and grinned.
"In just two hours!"
It was stupid of me, but I still was unenlightened. "But your twelve
hours' leave?" I asked.
The young man laughed. "They can take my twelve hours' leave,"
he said deliberately, "and feed it to the chickens. I'm beating it."
"What d'you mean, you're beating it?"
"What do you suppose I mean?" he demanded. "What do you
suppose I'm doing out of uniform, what do you suppose I'm lying
low in the room for? So's I won't catch cold?"
"If you're leaving the army without a discharge, and without
permission," I said, "I suppose you know it's desertion."
Mr. Hamlin laughed easily. "It's not my army," he said. "I'm an
"It's your desertion," I suggested.
The door opened and closed noiselessly, and Billy, entering,
placed a new travelling bag on the floor. He must have heard my
last words, for he looked inquiringly at each of us. But he did
not speak and, walking to the window, stood with his hands in his
pockets, staring out at the harbor. His presence seemed to encourage
the young man. "Who knows I'm deserting?" he demanded. "No
one's ever seen me in Salonika before, and in these 'cits' I can get on
board all right. And then they can't touch me. What do the folks at
home care how I left the British army? They'll be so darned glad to
get me back alive that they won't ask if I walked out or was kicked
out. I should worry!"
"It's none of my business," I began, but I was interrupted. In
his restless pacings the young man turned quickly.
"As you say," he remarked icily, "it is none of your business.
It's none of your business whether I get shot as a deserter, or
go home, or--"
"You can go to the devil for all I care," I assured him. "I
wasn't considering you at all. I was only sorry that I'll never
be able to read your book."
For a moment Mr. Hamlin remained silent, then he burst forth
with a jeer.
"No British firing squad," he boasted, "will ever stand me up."
"Maybe not," I agreed, "but you will never write that book."
Again there was silence, and this time it was broken by the Kid.
He turned from the window and looked toward Hamlin. "That's
right!" he said.
He sat down on the edge of the table, and at the deserter pointed
"Son," he said, "this war is some war. It's the biggest war in
history, and folks will be talking about nothing else for the next
ninety years; folks that never were nearer it than Bay City, Mich.
But you won't talk about it. And you've been all through it.
You've been to hell and back again. Compared with what you
know about hell, Dante is in the same class with Dr. Cook. But
you won't be able to talk about this war, or lecture, or write a
book about it."
"I won't?" demanded Hamlin. "And why won't I?"
"Because of what you're doing now," said Billy. "Because
you're queering yourself. Now, you've got everything." The
Kid was very much in earnest. His tone was intimate, kind, and
friendly. "You've seen everything, done everything. We'd give
our eye-teeth to see what you've seen, and to write the things you
can write. You've got a record now that'll last you until you're
dead, and your grandchildren are dead-and then some. When
you talk the table will have to sit up and listen. You can say 'I
was there.' 'I was in it.' 'I saw.' 'I know.' When this war is
over you'll have everything out of it that's worth getting-all
the experiences, all the inside knowledge, all the 'nosebag'
news; you'll have wounds, honors, medals, money, reputation.
And you're throwing all that away!"
Mr. Hamlin interrupted savagely.
"To hell with their medals," he said. "They can take their medals
and hang 'em on Christmas trees. I don't owe the British army
anything. It owes me. I've done my bit. I've earned what I've
got, and there's no one can take it away from me."
"You can," said the Kid. Before Hamlin could reply the door
opened and John came in, followed by Uncle Jim. The older
man was looking very grave, and John very unhappy. Hamlin
turned quickly to John.
"I thought these men were friends of yours," he began, "and
Americans. They're fine Americans. They're as full of human
kindness and red blood as a kippered herring!"
John looked inquiringly at the Kid.
"He wants to hang himself," explained Billy, "and because we
tried to cut him down, he's sore."
"They talked to me," protested Hamlin, "as though I was a
yellow dog. As though I was a quitter. I'm no quitter! But,
if I'm ready to quit, who's got a better right? I'm not an
Englishman, but there are several million Englishmen haven't
done as much for England in this was as I have. What do you
fellows know about it? You write about it, about the 'brave
lads in the trenches'; but what do you know about the trenches?
What you've seen from automobiles. That's all. That's where
you get off! I've lived in the trenches for fifteen months, froze
in 'em, starved in 'em, risked my life in 'em, and I've saved other
lives, too, by hauling men out of the trenches. And that's no airy
He ran to the wardrobe where John's clothes hung, and from the
bottom of it dragged a khaki uniform. It was still so caked with
mud and snow that when he flung it on the floor it splashed like
a wet bathing suit. "How would you like to wear one of those?" he
Demanded. "Stinking with lice and sweat and blood; the blood of
other men, the men you've helped off the field, and your own
As though committing hara-kiri, he slashed his hand across his
stomach, and then drew it up from his waist to his chin. "I'm
scraped with shrapnel from there to there," said Mr. Hamlin.
"And another time I got a ball in the shoulder. That would have
been a 'blighty' for a fighting man--they're always giving them
leave--but all I got was six weeks at Havre in hospital. Then it
was the Dardanelles, and sunstroke and sand; sleeping in sand,
eating sand, sand in your boots, sand in your teeth; hiding in
holes in the sand like a dirty prairie dog. And then, 'Off to
Servia!' And the next act opens in the snow and the mud!
Cold? God, how cold it was! And most of us in sun helmets."
As though the cold still gnawed at his bones, he shivered.
"It isn't the danger," he protested. "It isn't that I'm getting
away from. To hell with the danger! It's just the plain
discomfort of it! It's the never being your own master, never
being clean, never being warm." Again he shivered and
rubbed one hand against the other. "There were no bridges
over the streams," he went on, "and we had to break the ice
and wade in, and then sleep in the open with the khaki frozen
to us. There was no firewood; not enough to warm a pot of tea.
There were no wounded; all our casualties were frost bite and
Pneumonia. When we take them out of the blankets their toes
fall off. We've been in camp for a month now near Doiran, and
it's worse there than on the march. It's a frozen swamp. You can't
sleep for the cold; can't eat; the only ration we get is bully beef,
and our insides are frozen so damn tight we can't digest it. The
cold gets into your blood, gets into your brains. It won't let you
think; or else, you think crazy things. It makes you afraid." He
shook himself like a man coming out of a bad dream.
So, I'm through," he said. In turn he scowled at each of us, as
though defying us to contradict him. "That's why I'm quitting,"
he added. "Because I've done my bit. Because I'm damn well fed
up on it." He kicked viciously at the water-logged uniform on the
floor. "Any one who wants my job can have it!" He walked to the
window, turned his back on us, and fixed his eyes hungrily on the
Adriaticus. There was a long pause. For guidance we looked at
John, but he was staring down at the desk blotter, scratching on it
marks that he did not see.
Finally, where angels feared to tread, the Kid rushed in. "That's
certainly a hard luck story," he said; "but," he added cheerfully,
"it's nothing to the hard luck you'll strike when you can't tell
why you left the army." Hamlin turned with an exclamation,
but Billy held up his hand. "Now wait," he begged, "we haven't
time to get mussy. At six o'clock your leave is up, and the troop
train starts back to camp, and--"
Mr. Hamlin interrupted sharply. "And the Adriaticus starts at
Billy did not heed him. "You've got two hours to change your
mind," he said. "That's better than being sorry you didn't the
rest of your life."
Mr. Hamlin threw back his head and laughed. It was a most
unpleasant laugh. "You're a fine body of men," he jeered.
"America must be proud of you!"
"If we weren't Americans," explained Billy patiently, "we
wouldn't give a damn whether you deserted or not. You're
drowning and you don't know it, and we're throwing you a
rope. Try to see it that way. We'll cut out the fact that you
took an oath, and that you're breaking it. That's up to you.
We'll get down to results. When you reach home, if you can't
tell why you left the army, the folks will darned soon guess.
And that will queer everything you've done. When you come
to sell your stuff, it will queer you with the editors, queer you
with the publishers. If they know you broke your word to the
British army, how can they know you're keeping faith with them?
How can they believe anything you tell them? Every 'story' you
write, every statement of yours will make a noise like a fake.
You won't come into court with clean hands. You'll be licked
before you start.
"Of course, you're for the Allies. Well, all the Germans at home
will fear that; and when you want to lecture on your 'Fifteen
Months at the British Front,' they'll look up your record; and
what will they do to you? This is what they'll do to you. When
you've shown 'em your moving pictures and say, 'Does any
gentleman in the audience want to ask a question?' a German
agent will get up and say, 'Yes, I want to ask a question. Is it
true that you deserted from the British army, and that if you
return to it, they will shoot you?'"
I was scared. I expected the lean and muscular Mr. Hamlin to
fall on Billy, and fling him where he had flung the soggy uniform.
But instead he remained motionless, his arms pressed across his
chest. His eyes, filled with anger and distress, returned to the
"I'm sorry," muttered the Kid.
John rose and motioned to the door, and guiltily and only too
gladly we escaped. John followed us into the hall. "Let me talk
to him," he whispered. "The boat sails in an hour. Please don't
come back until she's gone."
We went to the moving picture palace next door, but I doubt if
the thoughts of any of us were on the pictures. For after an
hour, when from across the quay there came the long-drawn
warning of a steamer's whistle, we nudged each other and rose
and went out.
Not a hundred yards from us the propeller blades of the
Adriaticus were slowly churning, and the rowboats were falling
away from her sides.
"Good-bye, Mr. Hamlin," called Billy. "You had everything and
you chucked it away. I can spell your finish. It's 'check' for yours."
But when we entered our room, in the centre of it, under the
bunch of electric lights, stood the deserter. He wore the
water-logged uniform. The sun helmet was on his head.
"Good man!" shouted Billy.
He advanced, eagerly holding out his hand.
Mr. Hamlin brushed past him. At the door he turned and glared
at us, even at John. He was not a good loser. "I hope you're
satisfied," he snarled. He pointed at the four beds in a row. I
felt guiltily conscious of them. At the moment they appeared so
unnecessarily clean and warm and soft. The silk coverlets at the
foot of each struck me as being disgracefully effeminate. They
made me ashamed.
"I hope," said Mr. Hamlin, speaking slowly and picking his words,
"when you turn into those beds to-night you'll think of me in the
mud. I hope when you're having your five-course dinner and your
champagne you'll remember my bully beef. I hope when a shell or
Mr. Pneumonia gets me, you'll write a nice little sob story about
the 'brave lads in the trenches.' "
He looked at us, standing like schoolboys, sheepish, embarrassed,
and silent, and then threw open the door. "I hope," he added,
"you all choke!"
With an unconvincing imitation of the college chum manner,
John cleared his throat and said: "Don't forget, Fred, if there's
anything I can do--"
Hamlin stood in the doorway smiling at us.
"There's something you can all do," he said.
"Yes?" asked John heartily.
"You can all go to hell!" said Mr. Hamlin.
We heard the door slam, and his hobnailed boots pounding down
the stairs. No one spoke. Instead, in unhappy silence, we stood
staring at the floor. Where the uniform had lain was a pool of
mud and melted snow and the darker stains of stale blood.
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THE LOST ROAD
THE NOVELS AND STORIES OF
RICHARD HARDING DAVIS
THE LOST ROAD
THE MIRACLE OF LAS PALMAS
EVIL TO HIM WHO EVIL THINKS
THE MEN OF ZANZIBAR
THE LONG ARM
THE GOD OF COINCIDENCE
THE BURIED TREASURE OF COBRE
THE BOY SCOUT
SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE
AN INTRODUCTION BY
JOHN T. McCUTCHEON
WITH DAVIS IN VERA CRUZ, BRUSSELS, AND SALONIKA
In common with many others who have been with Richard Harding
Davis as correspondents, I find it difficult to realize that he
has covered his last story and that he will not be seen again
with the men who follow the war game, rushing to distant places
upon which the spotlight of news interest suddenly centres.
It seems a sort of bitter irony that he who had covered so many
big events of world importance in the past twenty years should
be abruptly torn away in the midst of the greatest event of
them all, while the story is still unfinished and its outcome
undetermined. If there is a compensating thought, it lies in the
reflection that he had a life of almost unparalleled fulness,
crowded to the brim, up to the last moment, with those
experiences and achievements which he particularly aspired to
have. He left while the tide was at its flood, and while he still
held supreme his place as the best reporter in his country. He
escaped the bitterness of seeing the ebb set in, when the youth
to which he clung had slipped away, and when he would have to sit
impatient in the audience, while younger men were in the thick of
great, world-stirring dramas on the stage.
This would have been a real tragedy in "Dick" Davis's case, for,
while his body would have aged, it is doubtful if his spirit ever
would have lost its youthful freshness or boyish enthusiasm.
It was my privilege to see a good deal of Davis in the last two
He arrived in Vera Cruz among the first of the sixty or seventy
correspondents who flocked to that news centre when the situation
was so full of sensational possibilities. It was a time when the
American newspaper-reading public was eager for thrills, and the
ingenuity and resourcefulness of the correspondents in Vera Cruz
were tried to the uttermost to supply the demand.
In the face of the fiercest competition it fell to Davis's lot to
land the biggest story of those days of marking time.
The story "broke" when it became known that Davis, Medill
McCormick, and Frederick Palmer had gone through the Mexican
lines in an effort to reach Mexico City. Davis and McCormick,
with letters to the Brazilian and British ministers, got through
and reached the capital on the strength of those letters, but
Palmer, having only an American passport, was turned back.
After an ominous silence which furnished American newspapers with
a lively period of suspense, the two men returned safely with
wonderful stories of their experiences while under arrest in the
hands of the Mexican authorities. McCormick, in recently speaking
of Davis at that time, said that, "as a correspondent in
difficult and dangerous situations, he was incomparable--cheerful,
ingenious, and undiscouraged. When the time came to choose
between safety and leaving his companion he stuck by his fellow
captive even though, as they both said, a firing-squad and a blank
wall were by no means a remote possibility."
This Mexico City adventure was a spectacular achievement
which gave Davis and McCormick a distinction which no other
correspondents of all the ambitious and able corps had managed to
Davis usually "hunted" alone. He depended entirely upon his own
ingenuity and wonderful instinct for news situations. He had the
energy and enthusiasm of a beginner, with the experience and
training of a veteran. His interest in things remained as keen
as though he had not been years at a game which often leaves a
man jaded and blase. His acquaintanceship in the American army
and navy was wide, and for this reason, as well as for the
prestige which his fame and position as a national character gave
him, he found it easy to establish valuable connections in the
channels from which news emanates. And yet, in spite of the fact
that he was "on his own" instead of having a working partnership
with other men, he was generous in helping at times when he was
able to do so.
Davis was a conspicuous figure in Vera Cruz, as he inevitably had
been in all such situations. Wherever he went, he was pointed
out. His distinction of appearance, together with a distinction
in dress, which, whether from habit or policy, was a valuable
asset in his work, made him a marked man. He dressed and looked
the "war correspondent," such a one as he would describe in one
of his stories. He fulfilled the popular ideal of what a member
of that fascinating profession should look like. His code of life
and habits was as fixed as that of the Briton who takes his
habits and customs and games and tea wherever he goes, no matter
how benighted or remote the spot may be.
He was just as loyal to his code as is the Briton. He carried his
bath-tub, his immaculate linen, his evening clothes, his war
equipment--in which he had the pride of a connoisseur--wherever
he went, and, what is more, he had the courage to use the evening
clothes at times when their use was conspicuous. He was the only
man who wore a dinner coat in Vera Cruz, and each night, at his
particular table in the crowded "Portales," at the Hotel
Diligencia, he was to be seen, as fresh and clean as though he
were in a New York or London restaurant.
Each day he was up early to take the train out to the "gap,"
across which came arrivals from Mexico City. Sometimes a good
"story" would come down, as when the long-heralded and long-
expected arrival of Consul Silliman gave a first-page "feature"
to all the American papers.
In the afternoon he would play water polo over at the navy
aviation camp, and always at a certain time of the day his
"striker" would bring him his horse and for an hour or more he
would ride out along the beach roads within the American lines.
After the first few days it was difficult to extract real thrills
from the Vera Cruz situation, but we used to ride out to El Tejar
with the cavalry patrol and imagine that we might be fired on at
some point in the long ride through unoccupied territory; or else
go out to the "front," at Legarto, where a little American force
occupied a sun-baked row of freight-cars, surrounded by malarial
swamps. From the top of the railroad water-tank, we could look
across to the Mexican outposts a mile or so away. It was not very
exciting, and what thrills we got lay chiefly in our imagination.
Before my acquaintanceship with Davis at Vera Cruz I had not
known him well. Our trails didn't cross while I was in Japan in
the Japanese-Russian War, and in the Transvaal I missed him by a
few days, but in Vera Cruz I had many enjoyable opportunities of
becoming well acquainted with him.
The privilege was a pleasant one, for it served to dispel a
preconceived and not an entirely favorable impression of his
character. For years I had heard stories about Richard Harding
Davis--stories which emphasized an egotism and self-assertiveness
which, if they ever existed, had happily ceased to be obtrusive
by the time I got to know him.
He was a different Davis from the Davis whom I had expected to
find; and I can imagine no more charming and delightful companion
than he was in Vera Cruz. There was no evidence of those
qualities which I feared to find, and his attitude was one of
unfailing kindness, considerateness, and generosity.
In the many talks I had with him, I was always struck by his
evident devotion to a fixed code of personal conduct. In his writings
he was the interpreter of chivalrous, well-bred youth, and his heroes
were young, clean-thinking college men, heroic big-game hunters,
war correspondents, and idealized men about town, who always did
the noble thing, disdaining the unworthy in act or motive. It seemed
to me that he was modelling his own life, perhaps unconsciously,
after the favored types which his imagination had created for his
stories. In a certain sense he was living a life of make-believe,
wherein he was the hero of the story, and in which he was bound
by his ideals always to act as he would have the hero of his
story act. It was a quality which only one could have who had
preserved a fresh youthfulness of outlook in spite of the
hardening processes of maturity.
His power of observation was extraordinarily keen, and he not
only had the rare gift of sensing the vital elements of a
situation, but also had, to an unrivalled degree, the ability to
describe them vividly. I don't know how many of those men at Verz
Cruz tried to describe the kaleidoscopic life of the city during
the American occupation, but I know that Davis's story was far
and away the most faithful and satisfying picture. The story was
photographic, even to the sounds and smells.
The last I saw of him in Vera Cruz was when, on the Utah, he
steamed past the flagship Wyoming, upon which I was quartered,
and started for New York. The Battenberg cup race had just been
rowed, and the Utah and Florida crews had tied. As the Utah was
sailing immediately after the race, there was no time in which to
row off the tie. So it was decided that the names of both ships
should be engraved on the cup, and that the Florida crew should
defend the title against a challenging crew from the British
Admiral Craddock's flagship.
By the end of June, the public interest in Vera Cruz had waned,
and the corps of correspondents dwindled until there were only a
Frederick Palmer and I went up to join Carranza and Villa, and on
the 26th of July we were in Monterey waiting to start with the
triumphal march of Carranza's army toward Mexico City. There was
no sign of serious trouble abroad. That night ominous telegrams
came, and at ten o'clock on the following morning we were on a
train headed for the States.
Palmer and Davis caught the Lusitania, sailing August 4 from New
York, and I followed on the Saint Paul, leaving three days later.
On the 17th of August I reached Brussels, and it seemed the most
natural thing in the world to find Davis already there. He was at
the Palace Hotel, where a number of American and English
correspondents were quartered.
Things moved quickly. On the 19th Irvin Cobb, Will Irwin, Arno
Dosch, and I were caught between the Belgian and German lines in
Louvain; our retreat to Brussels was cut, and for three days,
while the vast German army moved through the city, we were
detained. Then, the army having passed, we were allowed to go
back to the capital.
In the meantime Davis was in Brussels. The Germans reached the
outskirts of the city on the morning of the 20th, and the
correspondents who had remained in Brussels were feverishly
writing despatches describing the imminent fall of the city. One
of them, Harry Hansen, of the Chicago Daily News, tells the
following story, which I give in his words:
"While we were writing," says Hansen, "Richard Harding Davis
walked into the writing-room of the Palace Hotel with a bunch of
manuscript in his hand. With an amused expression he surveyed
the three correspondents filling white paper.
"'I say, men,' said Davis, 'do you know when the next train
"'There is one at three o'clock,' said a correspondent, looking
"'That looks like our only chance to get a story out,' said
Davis. 'Well, we'll trust to that.'
"The story was the German invasion of Brussels, and the train
mentioned was considered the forlorn hope of the correspondents
to connect with the outside world--that is, every correspondent
thought it to be the other man's hope. Secretly each had prepared
to outwit the other, and secretly Davis had already sent his
story to Ostend. He meant to emulate Archibald Forbes, who
despatched a courier with his real manuscript, and next day
publicly dropped a bulky package in the mail-bag.
"Davis had sensed the news in the occupation of Brussels long
before it happened. With dawn he went out to the Louvain road,
where the German army stood, prepared to smash the capital if
negotiations failed. His observant eye took in all the details.
Before noon he had written a comprehensive sketch of the
occupation, and when word was received that it was under way, he
trusted his copy to an old Flemish woman, who spoke not a word of
English, and saw her safely on board the train that pulled out
under Belgian auspices for Ostend."
With passes which the German commandant in Brussels gave us the
correspondents immediately started out to see how far those
passes would carry us. A number of us left on the afternoon of
August 23 for Waterloo, where it was expected that the great
clash between the German and the Anglo-French forces would occur.
We had planned to be back the same evening, and went prepared
only for an afternoon's drive in a couple of hired street
carriages. It was seven weeks before we again saw Brussels.
On the following day (August 24) Davis started for Mons. He wore
the khaki uniform which he had worn in many campaigns. Across his
breast was a narrow bar of silk ribbon indicating the campaigns
in which he had served as a correspondent. He so much resembled a
British officer that he was arrested as a British derelict and was informed
that he would be shot at once.
He escaped only by offering to walk to Brand Whitlock, in Brussels,
reporting to each officer he met on the way. His plan was approved,
and as a hostage on parole he appeared before the American minister,
who quickly established his identity as an American of good standing,
to the satisfaction of the Germans.
In the following few months our trails were widely separated. I read
of his arrest by German officers on the road to Mons; later I
read the story of his departure from Brussels by train to
Holland--a trip which carried him through Louvain while the town
still was burning; and still later I read that he was with the
few lucky men who were in Rheims during one of the early
bombardments that damaged the cathedral. By amazing luck,
combined with a natural news sense which drew him instinctively
to critical places at the psychological moment, he had been a
witness of the two most widely featured stories of the early
weeks of the war.
Arrested by the Germans in Belgium, and later by the French in
France, he was convinced that the restrictions on correspondents
were too great to permit of good work.
So he left the European war zone with the widely quoted remark:
"The day of the war correspondent is over."
And yet I was not surprised when, one evening, late in November
of last year, he suddenly walked into the room in Salonika where
William G. Shepherd, of the United Press, "Jimmy Hare," the
veteran war photographer, and I had established ourselves several
The hotel was jammed, and the city, with a normal capacity of
about one hundred and seventy-five thousand, was struggling to
accommodate at least a hundred thousand more. There was not a
room to be had in any of the better hotels, and for several days
we lodged Davis in our room, a vast chamber which formerly had
been the main dining-room of the establishment, and which now was
converted into a bedroom. There was room for a dozen men, if
necessary, and whenever stranded Americans arrived and could find
no hotel accommodations we simply rigged up emergency cots for
their temporary use.
The weather in Salonika at this time, late November, was
penetratingly cold. In the mornings the steam coils struggled
feebly to dispel the chill in the room.
Early in the morning after Davis had arrived, we were aroused by
the sound of violent splashing, accompanied by shuddering gasps,
and we looked out from the snug warmth of our beds to see Davis
standing in his portable bath-tub and drenching himself with
ice-cold water. As an exhibition of courageous devotion to an
established custom of life it was admirable, but I'm not sure
that it was prudent.
For some reason, perhaps a defective circulation or a weakened
heart, his system failed to react from these cold-water baths.
All through the days he complained of feeling chilled. He never
seemed to get thoroughly warmed, and of us all he was the one who
suffered most keenly from the cold. It was all the more
surprising, for his appearance was always that of a man in the
pink of athletic fitness--ruddy-faced, clear-eyed, and full of
On one occasion we returned from the French front in Serbia to
Salonika in a box car lighted only by candles, bitterly cold, and
frightfully exhausting. We were seven hours in travelling
fifty-five miles, and we arrived at our destination at three
o'clock in the morning. Several of the men contracted desperate
colds, which clung to them for weeks. Davis was chilled through,
and said that of all the cold he had ever experienced that which
swept across the Macedonian plain from the Balkan highlands was
the most penetrating. Even his heavy clothing could not afford him
When he was settled in his own room in our hotel he installed an
oil-stove which burned beside him as he sat at his desk and wrote
his stories. The room was like an oven, but even then he still
complained of the cold.
When he left he gave us the stove, and when we left, some time
later, it was presented to one of our doctor friends out in a
British hospital, where I'm sure it is doing its best to thaw the
Balkan chill out of sick and wounded soldiers.
Davis was always up early, and his energy and interest were as
keen as a boy's. We had our meals together, sometimes in the
crowded and rather smart Bastasini's, but more often in the
maelstrom of humanity that nightly packed the Olympos Palace
restaurant. Davis, Shepherd, Hare, and I, with sometimes Mr. and
Mrs. John Bass, made up these parties, which, for a period of
about two weeks or so, were the most enjoyable daily events of
Under the glaring lights of the restaurant, and surrounded by
British, French, Greek, and Serbian officers, German, Austrian,
and Bulgarian civilians, with a sprinkling of American, English,
and Scotch nurses and doctors, packed so solidly in the huge,
high-ceilinged room that the waiters could barely pick their way
among the tables, we hung for hours over our dinners, and left
only when the landlord and his Austrian wife counted the day's
receipts and paid the waiters at the end of the evening.
One could not imagine a more charming and delightful companion
than Davis during these days. While he always asserted that he
could not make a speech, and was terrified at the thought of
standing up at a banquet-table, yet, sitting at a dinner-table
with a few friends who were only too eager to listen rather than
to talk, his stories, covering personal experiences in all parts
of the world, were intensely vivid, with that remarkable
"holding" quality of description which characterizes his
He brought his own bread--a coarse, brown sort, which he preferred
to the better white bread--and with it he ate great quantities of
butter. As we sat down at the table his first demand was for
"Mastika," a peculiar Greek drink distilled from mastic gum, and
his second demand invariably was "Du beurre!" with the "r's" as
silent as the stars; and if it failed to come at once the waiter
was made to feel the enormity of his tardiness.
The reminiscences ranged from his early newspaper days in
Philadelphia, and skipping from Manchuria to Cuba and Central
America, to his early Sun days under Arthur Brisbane; they ranged
through an endless variety of personal experiences which very
nearly covered the whole course of American history in the past
Perhaps to him it was pleasant to go over his remarkable adventures,
but it could not have been half as pleasant as it was to hear them, told
as they were with a keenness of description and brilliancy of humorous
comment that made them gems of narrative.
At times, in our work, we all tried our hands at describing the
Salonika of those early days of the Allied occupation, for it was
really what one widely travelled British officer called it--"the
most amazingly interesting situation I've ever seen"---but Davis's
description was far and away the best, just as his description of
Vera Cruz was the best, and his wonderful story of the entry of
the German army into Brussels was matchless as one of the great
pieces of reporting in the present war.
In thinking of Davis, I shall always remember him for the
delightful qualities which he showed in Salonika. He was
unfailingly considerate and thoughtful. Through his narratives
one could see the pride which he took in the width and breadth of
his personal relation to the great events of the past twenty
years. His vast scope of experiences and equally wide
acquaintanceship with the big figures of our time, were amazing,
and it was equally amazing that one of such a rich and
interesting history could tell his stories in such a simple way
that the personal element was never obtrusive.
When he left Salonika he endeavored to obtain permission from
the British staff to visit Moudros, but, failing in this, he booked
his passage on a crowded little Greek steamer, where the only
obtainable accommodation was a lounge in the dining saloon.
We gave him a farewell dinner, at which the American consul
and his family, with all the other Americans then in Salonika, were
present, and after the dinner we rowed out to his ship and saw
him very uncomfortably installed for his voyage.
He came down the sea ladder and waved his hand as we rowed away.
That was the last I saw of Richard Harding Davis.
JOHN T. MCCUTCHEON.
THE LOST ROAD
During the war with Spain, Colton Lee came into the service as a
volunteer. For a young man, he always had taken life almost too
seriously, and when, after the campaign in Cuba, he elected to
make soldiering his profession, the seriousness with which he
attacked his new work surprised no one. Finding they had lost him
forever, his former intimates were bored, but his colonel was
enthusiastic, and the men of his troop not only loved, but
From the start he determined in his new life women should have no
part--a determination that puzzled no one so much as the women,
for to Lee no woman, old or young, had found cause to be
unfriendly. But he had read that the army is a jealous mistress
who brooks no rival, that "red lips tarnish the scabbard steel,"
that "he travels the fastest who travels alone."
So, when white hands beckoned and pretty eyes signalled, he did
not look. For five years, until just before he sailed for his
three years of duty in the Philippines, he succeeded not only in
not looking, but in building up for himself such a fine
reputation as a woman-hater that all women were crazy about him.
Had he not been ordered to Agawamsett that fact would not have
affected him. But at the Officers' School he had indulged in hard
study rather than in hard riding, had overworked, had brought
back his Cuban fever, and was in poor shape to face the tropics.
So, for two months before the transport was to sail, they ordered
him to Cape Cod to fill his lungs with the bracing air of a New
He selected Agawamsett, because, when at Harvard, it was there he
had spent his summer vacations, and he knew he would find
sailboats and tennis and, through the pine woods back of the
little whaling village, many miles of untravelled roads. He
promised himself that over these he would gallop an imaginary
troop in route marches, would manoeuvre it against possible
ambush, and, in combat patrols, ground scouts, and cossack
outposts, charge with it "as foragers." But he did none of these
things. For at Agawamsett he met Frances Gardner, and his
experience with her was so disastrous that, in his determination
to avoid all women, he was convinced he was right.
When later he reached Manila he vowed no other woman would
ever again find a place in his thoughts. No other woman did.
Not because he had the strength to keep his vow, but because he
so continually thought of Frances Gardner that no other woman
had a chance.
Miss Gardner was a remarkable girl. Her charm appealed to all
kinds of men, and, unfortunately for Lee, several kinds of men
appealed to her. Her fortune and her relations were bound up in
the person of a rich aunt with whom she lived, and who, it was
understood, some day would leave her all the money in the world.
But, in spite of her charm, certainly in spite of the rich aunt,
Lee, true to his determination, might not have noticed the girl
had not she ridden so extremely well.
It was to the captain of cavalry she first appealed. But even a
cavalry captain, whose duty in life is to instruct sixty men in
the art of taking the life of as many other men as possible, may
turn his head in the direction of a good-looking girl. And when
for weeks a man rides at the side of one through pine forests as
dim and mysterious as the aisles of a great cathedral, when he
guides her across the wet marshes when the sun is setting crimson
in the pools and the wind blows salt from the sea, when he loses
them both by moonlight in wood-roads where the hoofs of the
horses sink silently into dusty pine needles, he thinks more
frequently of the girl at his side than of the faithful troopers
waiting for him in San Francisco. The girl at his side thought
frequently of him.
With the "surface indications" of a young man about to ask her
to marry him she was painfully familiar; but this time the possibility
was the reverse of painful. What she meant to do about it she did
not know, but she did know that she was strangely happy. Between
living on as the dependent of a somewhat exacting relative and
becoming the full partner of this young stranger, who with men
had proved himself so masterful, and who with her was so gentle,
there seemed but little choice. But she did not as yet wish to make
the choice. She preferred to believe she was not certain. She assured
him that before his leave of absence was over she would tell him
whether she would remain on duty with the querulous aunt, who had
befriended her, or as his wife accompany him to the Philippines.
It was not the answer he wanted; but in her happiness, which was
evident to every one, he could not help but take hope. And in the
questions she put to him of life in the tropics, of the life of
the "officers' ladies," he saw that what was in her mind was a
possible life with him, and he was content.
She became to him a wonderful, glorious person, and each day she
grew in loveliness. It had been five years of soldiering in Cuba,
China, and on the Mexican border since he had talked to a woman
with interest, and now in all she said, in all her thoughts and
words and delights, he found fresher and stronger reasons for
discarding his determination to remain wedded only to the United
States Army. He did not need reasons. He was far too much in love
to see in any word or act of hers anything that was not fine and
In their rides they had one day stumbled upon a long-lost and
long-forgotten road through the woods, which she had claimed as
their own by right of discovery, and, no matter to what point
they set forth each day, they always returned by it. Their way
through the woods stretched for miles. It was concealed in a
forest of stunted oaks and black pines, with no sign of human
habitation, save here and there a clearing now long neglected and
alive only with goldenrod. Trunks of trees, moss-grown and
crumbling beneath the touch of the ponies' hoofs, lay in their
path, and above it the branches of a younger generation had
clasped hands. At their approach squirrels raced for shelter,
woodcock and partridge shot deeper into the network of vines and
saplings, and the click of the steel as the ponies tossed their
bits, and their own whispers, alone disturbed the silence.
"It is an enchanted road," said the girl; "or maybe we are
"Not I," cried the young man loyally. "I was never so sane, never
so sure, never so happy in knowing just what I wanted! If only
you could be as sure!"
One day she came to him in high excitement with a book of verse.
"He has written a poem," she cried, "about our own woods, about
our lost road! Listen" she commanded, and she read to him:
"'They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ringdove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
"'Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate
(They fear not men in the woods
Because they see so few),
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . .
But there is no road through the woods.'"
"I don't like that at all," cried the soldierman. "It's too--too
sad--it doesn't give you any encouragement. The way it ends, I
mean: 'But there is no road through the woods.' Of course there's
a road! For us there always will be. I'm going to make sure. I'm
going to buy those woods, and keep the lost road where we can
always find it."
"I don't think," said the girl, "that he means a real road."
"I know what he means," cried the lover, "and he's wrong! There
is a road, and you and I have found it, and we are going to
follow it for always."
The girl shook her head, but her eyes were smiling happily.
The "season" at Agawamsett closed with the tennis tournament, and
it was generally conceded fit and proper, from every point of
view, that in mixed doubles Lee and Miss Gardner should be
partners. Young Stedman, the Boston artist, was the only one who
made objection. Up in the sail-loft that he had turned into a
studio he was painting a portrait of the lovely Miss Gardner, and
he protested that the three days' tournament would sadly
interrupt his work. And Frances, who was very much interested in
the portrait, was inclined to agree.
But Lee beat down her objections. He was not at all interested in
the portrait. He disapproved of it entirely. For the sittings
robbed him of Frances during the better part of each morning, and
he urged that when he must so soon leave her, between the man who
wanted her portrait and the man who wanted her, it would be kind
to give her time to the latter.
"But I had no idea," protested Frances, "he would take so long.
He told me he'd finish it in three sittings. But he's so critical
of his own work that he goes over it again and again. He says
that I am a most difficult subject, but that I inspire him. And
he says, if I will only give him time, he believes this will be
the best thing he has done."
"That's an awful thought," said the cavalry officer.
"You don't like him," reproved Miss Gardner. "He is always very
polite to you."
"He's polite to everybody," said Lee; "that's why I don't like
him. He's not a real artist. He's a courtier. God gave him a
talent, and he makes a mean use of it. Uses it to flatter people.
He's like these long-haired violinists who play anything you ask
them to in the lobster palaces."
Miss Gardner looked away from him. Her color was high and her
eyes very bright.
"I think," she said steadily, "that Mr. Stedman is a great
artist, and some day all the world will think so, too!"
Lee made no answer. Not because he disagreed with her estimate of
Mr. Stedman's genius-he made no pretense of being an art
critic--but because her vehement admiration had filled him with
sudden panic. He was not jealous. For that he was far too humble.
Indeed, he thought himself so utterly unworthy of Frances Gardner
that the fact that to him she might prefer some one else was in
no way a surprise. He only knew that if she should prefer some
one else not all his troop horses nor all his men could put
Humpty Dumpty back again.
But if, in regard to Mr. Stedman, Miss Gardner had for a moment
been at odds with the man who loved her, she made up for it the
day following on the tennis court. There she was in accord with
him in heart, soul, and body, and her sharp "Well played,
partner!" thrilled him like one of his own bugle calls. For two
days against visiting and local teams they fought their way
through the tournament, and the struggle with her at his side
filled Lee with a great happiness. Not that the championship of
Agawamsett counted greatly to one exiled for three years to live
among the Moros. He wanted to win because she wanted to win.
But his happiness came in doing something in common with her,
in helping her and in having her help him, in being, if only in
play, if only for three days, her "partner."
After they won they walked home together, each swinging a fat,
heavy loving-cup. On each was engraved:
"Mixed doubles, Agawamsett, 1910."
Lee held his up so that the setting sun flashed on the silver.
"I am going to keep that," he said, "as long as I live. It means
you were once my 'partner.' It's a sign that once we two worked
together for something and won." In the words the man showed
such feeling that the girl said soberly:
"Mine means that to me, too. I will never part with mine,
Lee turned to her and smiled, appealing wistfully.
"It seems a pity to separate them," he said. "They'd look well
together over an open fireplace."
The girl frowned unhappily. "I don't know," she protested. "I
The next day Lee received from the War Department a telegram
directing him to "proceed without delay" to San Francisco, and
there to embark for the Philippines.
That night he put the question to her directly, but again she
shook her head unhappily; again she said: "I don't know!"
So he sailed without her, and each evening at sunset, as the
great transport heaved her way across the swell of the Pacific,
he stood at the rail and looked back. With the aid of the first
officer he calculated the difference in time between a whaling
village situated at forty-four degrees north and an army
transport dropping rapidly toward the equator, and so, each day,
kept in step with the girl he loved.
"Now," he would tell himself, "she is in her cart in front of the
post-office, and while they sort the morning mail she gossips
with the fisher folks, the summer folks, the grooms, and
chauffeurs. Now she is sitting for her portrait to Stedman" (he
did not dwell long on that part of her day), "and now she is at
tennis, or, as she promised, riding alone at sunset down our lost
road through the woods."
But that part of her day from which Lee hurried was that part
over which the girl herself lingered. As he turned his eyes from
his canvas to meet hers, Stedman, the charming, the deferential,
the adroit, who never allowed his painting to interrupt his talk,
told her of what he was pleased to call his dreams and ambitions,
of the great and beautiful ladies who had sat before his easel,
and of the only one of them who had given him inspiration.
Especially of the only one who had given him inspiration. With
her always to uplift him, he could become one of the world's most
famous artists, and she would go down into history as the
beautiful woman who had helped him, as the wife of Rembrandt
had inspired Rembrandt, as "Mona Lisa" had made Leonardo.
Gilbert wrote: "It is not the lover who comes to woo, but the
lover's way of wooing!" His successful lover was the one who
threw the girl across his saddle and rode away with her. But one
kind of woman does not like to have her lover approach shouting:
"At the gallop! Charge!"
She prefers a man not because he is masterful, but because he is
not. She likes to believe the man needs her more than she needs
him, that she, and only she, can steady him, cheer him, keep him
true to the work he is in the world to perform. It is called the
Frances felt this mothering instinct toward the sensitive,
imaginative, charming Stedman. She believed he had but two
thoughts, his art and herself. She was content to place his art first.
She could not guess that to one so unworldly, to one so wrapped up
in his art, the fortune of a rich aunt might prove alluring.
When the transport finally picked up the landfalls of Cavite
Harbor, Lee, with the instinct of a soldier, did not exclaim:
"This is where Dewey ran the forts and sank the Spanish fleet!"
On the contrary, he was saying: "When she comes to join me, it
will be here I will first see her steamer. I will be waiting with
a field-glass on the end of that wharf. No, I will be out here in
a shore-boat waving my hat. And of all those along the rail, my
heart will tell me which is she!"
Then a barefooted Filipino boy handed him an unsigned cablegram.
It read: "If I wrote a thousand words I could not make it easier
for either of us. I am to marry Arthur Stedman in December."
Lee was grateful for the fact that he was not permitted to linger
in Manila. Instead, he was at once ordered up-country, where at a
one-troop post he administered the affairs of a somewhat hectic
province, and under the guidance of the local constabulary chased
will-o'-the-wisp brigands. On a shelf in his quarters he placed
the silver loving-cup, and at night, when the village slept, he
would sit facing it, filling one pipe after another, and through
the smoke staring at the evidence to the fact that once Frances
Gardner and he had been partners.
In these post-mortems he saw nothing morbid. With his present
activities they in no way interfered, and in thinking of the days
when they had been together, in thinking of what he had lost, he
found deep content. Another man, having lost the woman he loved,
would have tried to forget her and all she meant to him. But Lee
was far too honest with himself to substitute other thoughts for
those that were glorious, that still thrilled him. The girl could
take herself from him, but she could not take his love for her
from him. And for that he was grateful. He never had considered
himself worthy, and so could not believe he had been ill used. In
his thoughts of her there was no bitterness: for that also he was
grateful. And, as he knew he would not care for any other woman
in the way he cared for her, he preferred to care in that way,
even for one who was lost, than in a lesser way for a possible
she who some day might greatly care for him. So she still
remained in his thoughts, and was so constantly with him that he
led a dual existence, in which by day he directed the affairs of
an alien and hostile people and by night again lived through the
wonderful moments when she had thought she loved him, when he
first had learned to love her. At times she seemed actually at
his side, and he could not tell whether he was pretending that
this were so or whether the force of his love had projected her
image half around the world.
Often, when in single file he led the men through the forest, he
seemed again to be back on Cape Cod picking his way over their
own lost road through the wood, and he heard "the beat of a
horse's feet and the swish of a skirt in the dew." And then a
carbine would rattle, or a horse would stumble and a trooper
swear, and he was again in the sweating jungle, where men, intent
upon his life, crouched in ambush.
She spared him the mockery of wedding-cards; but the announcement
of the wedding came to him in a three-months-old newspaper. Hoping
they would speak of her in their letters, he kept up a somewhat one-sided
correspondence with friends of Mrs. Stedman's in Boston, where she now
lived. But for a year in none of their letters did her name appear. When
a mutual friend did write of her Lee understood the silence.
From the first, the mutual friend wrote, the life of Mrs. Stedman
and her husband was thoroughly miserable. Stedman blamed her
because she came to him penniless. The rich aunt, who had
heartily disapproved of the artist, had spoken of him so frankly
that Frances had quarrelled with her, and from her no longer
would accept money. In his anger at this Stedman showed himself
to Frances as he was. And only two months after their marriage
she was further enlightened.
An irate husband made him the central figure in a scandal that
filled the friends of Frances with disgust, and that for her was
an awakening cruel and humiliating. Men no longer permitted their
womenfolk to sit to Stedman for a portrait, and the need of money
grew imperative. He the more blamed Frances for having quarrelled
with her aunt, told her it was for her money he had married her,
that she had ruined his career, and that she was to blame for his
ostracism--a condition that his own misconduct had brought upon
him. Finally, after twelve months of this, one morning he left a
note saying he no longer would allow her to be a drag upon him,
and sailed for Europe.
They learned that, in Paris, he had returned to that life which
before his marriage, even in that easy-going city, had made him
notorious. "And Frances," continued Lee's correspondent, "has
left Boston, and now lives in New York. She wouldn't let any of
us help her, nor even know where she is. The last we heard of her
she was in charge of the complaint department of a millinery
shop, for which work she was receiving about the same wages I
give my cook."
Lee did not stop to wonder why the same woman, who to one man was
a "drag," was to another, even though separated from her by half
the world, a joy and a blessing. Instead, he promptly wrote his
lawyers to find Mrs. Stedman, and, in such a way as to keep her
ignorant of their good offices, see that she obtained a position
more congenial than her present one, and one that would pay her
as much as, without arousing her suspicions, they found it
possible to give.
Three months had passed, and this letter had not been answered,
when in Manila, where he had been ordered to make a report, he
heard of her again. One evening, when the band played on the
Luneta, he met a newly married couple who had known him in
Agawamsett. They now were on a ninety-day cruise around the
world. Close friends of Frances Gardner, they remembered him as
one of her many devotees and at once spoke of her.
"That blackguard she married," the bridegroom told him, "was
killed three months ago racing with another car from Versailles
back to Paris after a dinner at which, it seems, all present
drank 'burgundy out of the fingerbowls.' Coming down that steep
hill into Saint Cloud, the cars collided, and Stedman and a
woman, whose husband thought she was somewhere else, were killed.
He couldn't even die without making a scandal of it."
"But the worst," added the bride, "is that, in spite of the way
the little beast treated her, I believe Frances still cares for
him, and always will. That's the worst of it, isn't it?" she
In words, Lee did not answer, but in his heart he agreed that was
much the worst of it. The fact that Frances was free filled him
with hope; but that she still cared for the man she had married,
and would continue to think only of him, made him ill with
He cabled his lawyers for her address. He determined that, at
once, on learning it, he would tell her that with him nothing was
changed. He had forgotten nothing, and had learned much. He had
learned that his love for her was a splendid and inspiring
passion, that even without her it had lifted him up, helped and
cheered him, made the whole world kind and beautiful. With her he