Part 3 out of 4
XII. Abdul Aziz has His:
An Adventure in the Yildiz Kiosk
"Come, come, Abdul," I said, putting my hand, not unkindly,
on his shoulder, "tell me all about it."
But he only broke out into renewed sobbing.
"There, there," I continued soothingly. "Don't cry, Abdul.
Look! Here's a lovely narghileh for you to smoke, with
a gold mouthpiece. See! Wouldn't you like a little latakia,
eh? And here's a little toy Armenian--look! See his head
come off--snick! There, it's on again, snick! now it's
off! look, Abdul!"
But still he sobbed.
His fez had fallen over his ears and his face was all
smudged with tears.
It seemed impossible to stop him.
I looked about in vain from the little alcove of the hall
of the Yildiz Kiosk where we were sitting on a Persian
bench under a lemon-tree. There was no one in sight. I
hardly knew what to do.
In the Yildiz Kiosk--I think that was the name of the
place--I scarcely as yet knew my way about. In fact, I
had only been in it a few hours. I had come there--as I
should have explained in commencing--in order to try to
pick up information as to the exact condition of things
in Turkey. For this purpose I had assumed the character
and disguise of an English governess. I had long since
remarked that an English governess is able to go anywhere,
see everything, penetrate the interior of any royal palace
and move to and fro as she pleases without hindrance and
without insult. No barrier can stop her. Every royal
court, however splendid or however exclusive, is glad to
get her. She dines with the King or the Emperor as a
matter of course. All state secrets are freely confided
to her and all military plans are submitted to her
judgment. Then, after a few weeks' residence, she leaves
the court and writes a book of disclosures.
This was now my plan.
And, up to the moment of which I speak, it had worked
I had found my way through Turkey to the royal capital
without difficulty. The poke bonnet, the spectacles and
the long black dress which I had assumed had proved an
ample protection. None of the rude Turkish soldiers
among whom I had passed had offered to lay a hand on me.
This tribute I am compelled to pay to the splendid morality
of the Turks. They wouldn't touch me.
Access to the Yildiz Kiosk and to the Sultan had proved
equally easy. I had merely to obtain an interview with
Codfish Pasha, the Secretary of War, whom I found a
charming man of great intelligence, a master of three or
four languages (as he himself informed me), and able to
count up to seventeen.
"You wish," he said, "to be appointed as English, or
rather Canadian governess to the Sultan?"
"Yes," I answered.
"And your object?"
"I propose to write a book of disclosures."
"Excellent," said Codfish.
An hour later I found myself, as I have said, in a
flag-stoned hall of the Yildiz Kiosk, with the task of
amusing and entertaining the Sultan.
Of the difficulty of this task I had formed no conception.
Here I was at the outset, with the unhappy Abdul bent
and broken with sobs which I found no power to check or
Naturally, therefore, I found myself at a loss. The little
man as he sat on his cushions, in his queer costume and
his long slippers with his fez fallen over his
lemon-coloured face, presented such a pathetic object
that I could not find the heart to be stern with him.
"Come, now, Abdul," I said, "be good!"
He paused a moment in his crying--
"Why do you call me Abdul?" he asked. "That isn't my
"Isn't it?" I said. "I thought all you Sultans were called
Abdul. Isn't the Sultan's name always Abdul?"
"Mine isn't," he whimpered, "but it doesn't matter," and
his face began to crinkle up with renewed weeping. "Call
me anything you like. It doesn't matter. Anyway I'd rather
be called Abdul than be called a W-W-War Lord and a
G-G-General when they won't let me have any say at all--"
And with that the little Sultan burst into unrestrained
"Abdul," I said firmly, "if you don't stop crying, I'll
go and fetch one of the Bashi-Bazouks to take you away."
The little Sultan found his voice again.
"There aren't any Bub-Bub-Bashi-Bazouks left," he sobbed.
"None left?" I exclaimed. "Where are they gone?"
"They've t-t-taken them all aw-w-way--"
"The G-G-G-Germans," sobbed Abdul. "And they've sent them
all to P-P-P-Poland."
"Come, come, Abdul," I said, straightening him up a little
as he sat. "Brace up! Be a Turk! Be a Mohammedan! Don't
act like a Christian."
This seemed to touch his pride. He made a great effort
to be calm. I could hear him muttering to himself, "Allah,
Illallah, Mohammed rasoul Allah!" He said this over a
good many times, while I took advantage of the pause to
get his fez a little straighter and wipe his face.
"How many times have I said it?" he asked presently.
"Twenty? That ought to be enough, shouldn't it?" said
the Sultan, regaining himself a little. "Isn't prayer
helpful, eh? Give me a smoke?"
I filled his narghileh for him, and he began to suck blue
smoke out of it with a certain contentment, while the
rose water bubbled in the bowl below.
"Now, Abdul," I said, as I straightened up his cushions
and made him a little more comfortable, "what is it? What
is the matter?"
"Why," he answered, "they've all g-g-gone--"
"Now, don't cry! Tell me properly."
"They've all gone b-b-back on me! Boo-hoo!"
"Who have? Who've gone back on you?"
"Why, everybody. The English and the French and everybody--"
"What _do_ you mean?" I asked with increasing interest.
"Tell me exactly what you mean. Whatever you say I will
hold sacred, of course."
I saw my part already to a volume of interesting
"They used to treat me so differently," Abdul went on,
and his sobbing ceased as he continued, "They used to
call me the Bully Boy of the Bosphorus. They said I was
the Guardian of the Golden Gate. They used to let me kill
all the Armenians I liked and nobody was allowed to
collect debts from me, and every now and then they used
to send me the nicest ultimatums--Oh, you don't know,"
he broke off, "how nice it used to be here in the Yildiz
in the old days! We used all to sit round here, in this
very hall, me and the diplomats, and play games, such as
'Ultimatum, ultimatum, who's got the ultimatum.' Oh, say,
it was so nice and peaceful! And we used to have big
dinners and conferences, especially after the military
manoeuvres and the autumn massacres--me and the diplomats,
all with stars and orders, and me in my white fez with
a copper tassel--and hold discussions about how to reform
"But you spoilt it all, Abdul," I protested.
"I didn't, I didn't!" he exclaimed almost angrily. "I'd
have gone on for ever. It was all so nice. They used to
present me--the diplomats did--with what they called
their Minimum, and then we (I mean Codfish Pasha and me)
had to draft in return our Maximum--see?--and then we
all had to get together again and frame a _status quo_."
"But that couldn't go on for ever," I urged.
"Why not?" said Abdul. "It was a great system. We invented
it, but everybody was beginning to copy it. In fact, we
were leading the world, before all this trouble came.
Didn't you have anything of our system in your country
--what do you call it--in Canada?"
"Yes," I admitted. "Now that I come to think of it, we
were getting into it. But the war has changed it all--"
"Exactly," said Abdul. "There you are! All changed! The
good old days gone for ever!"
"But surely," I said, "you still have friends--the
The Sultan's little black eyes flashed with anger as he
withdrew his pipe for a moment from his mouth.
"The low scoundrels!" he said between his teeth. "The
"Why, they're your Allies!"
"Yes, Allah destroy them! They are. They've come over to
_our_ side. After centuries of fighting they refuse to
play fair any longer. They're on _our_ side! Who ever
heard of such a thing? Bah! But, of course," he added
more quietly, "we shall massacre them just the same. We
shall insist, in the terms of peace, on retaining our
rights of massacre. But then, no doubt, all the nations
"But you have the Germans--" I began.
"Hush, hush," said Abdul, laying his hand on my arm.
"Some one might hear."
"You have the Germans," I repeated.
"The Germans," said Abdul, and his voice sounded in a
queer sing-song like that of a child repeating a lesson,
"are my noble friends, the Germans are my powerful allies,
the Kaiser is my good brother, the Reichstag is my
foster-sister. I love the Germans. I hate the English.
I love the Kaiser. The Kaiser loves me--"
"Stop, stop, Abdul," I said, "who taught you all that?"
Abdul looked cautiously around.
"_They_ did," he said in a whisper. "There's a lot more
of it. Would you like me to recite some more? Or, no,
no, what's the good? I've no heart for reciting any
longer." And at this Abdul fell to weeping again.
"But, Abdul," I said, "I don't understand. Why are you
so distressed just now? All this has been going on for
over two years. Why are you so worried just now?"
"Oh," exclaimed the little Sultan in surprise, "you
haven't heard! I see--you've only just arrived. Why,
to-day is the last day. After to-day it is all over."
"Last day for what?" I asked.
"For intervention. For the intervention of the United
States. The only thing that can save us. It was to have
come to-day, by the end of this full moon--our astrologers
had predicted it--Smith Pasha, Minister under Heaven of
the United States, had promised, if it came, to send it
to us at the earliest moment. How do they send it, do
you know, in a box, or in paper?"
"Stop," I said as my ear caught the sound of footsteps.
"There's some one coming now."
The sound of slippered feet was distinctly heard on the
stones in the outer corridor.
Abdul listened intently a moment.
"I know his slippers," he said.
"Who is it?"
"It is my chief secretary, Toomuch Koffi. Yes, here he
As the Sultan spoke, the doors swung open and there
entered an aged Turk, in a flowing gown and coloured
turban, with a melancholy yellow face, and a long white
beard that swept to his girdle.
"Who do you say he is?" I whispered to Abdul.
"My chief secretary," he whispered back. "Toomuch Koffi."
"He looks like it," I murmured.
Meantime, Toomuch Koffi had advanced across the broad
flagstones of the hall where we were sitting. With hands
lifted he salaamed four times--east, west, north, and
"What does that mean?" I whispered.
"It means," said the Sultan, with visible agitation,
"that he has a communication of the greatest importance
and urgency, which will not brook a moment's delay."
"Well, then, why doesn't he get a move on?" I whispered.
"Hush," said Abdul.
Toomuch Koffi now straightened himself from his last
salaam and spoke.
"Allah is great!" he said.
"And Mohammed is his prophet," rejoined the Sultan.
"Allah protect you! And make your face shine," said
"Allah lengthen your beard," said the Sultan, and he
added aside to me in English, which Toomuch Koffi evidently
did not understand, "I'm all eagerness to know what it
is--it's something big, for sure." The little man was
quite quivering with excitement as he spoke. "Do you know
what I think it is? I think it must be the American
Intervention. The United States is going to intervene.
Eh? What? Don't you think so?"
"Then hurry him up," I urged.
"I can't," said Abdul. "It is impossible in Turkey to do
business like that. He must have some coffee first and
then he must pray and then there must be an interchange
I groaned, for I was getting as impatient as Abdul himself.
"Do you not do public business like that in Canada?" the
"We used to. But we have got over it," I said.
Meanwhile a slippered attendant had entered and placed
a cushion for the secretary, and in front of it a little
Persian stool on which he put a quaint cup filled with
coffee black as ink.
A similar cup was placed before the Sultan.
"Drink!" said Abdul.
"Not first, until the lips of the Commander of the
"He means 'after you,'" I said. "Hurry up, Abdul."
Abdul took a sip.
"Allah is good," he said.
"And all things are of Allah," rejoined Toomuch.
Abdul unpinned a glittering jewel from his robe and threw
it to the feet of Toomuch.
"Take this poor bauble," he said.
Toomuch Koffi in return took from his wrist a solid bangle
of beaten gold.
"Accept this mean gift from your humble servant," he said.
"Right!" said Abdul, speaking in a changed voice as the
ceremonies ended. "Now, then, Toomuch, what is it? Hurry
up. Be quick. What is the matter?"
Toomuch rose to his feet, lifted his hands high in the
air with the palms facing the Sultan.
"One is without," he said.
"Without what?" I asked eagerly of the Sultan.
"Without--outside. Don't you understand Turkish? What
you call in English--a gentleman to see me."
"And did he make all that fuss and delay over that?" I
asked in disgust. "Why with us in Canada, at one of the
public departments of Ottawa, all that one would have to
do would be simply to send in a card, get it certified,
then simply wait in an anteroom, simply read a newspaper,
send in another card, wait a little, then simply send in
a third card, and then simply--"
"Pshaw!" said Abdul. "The cards might be poisoned. Our
system is best. Speak on, Toomuch. Who is without? Is it
perchance a messenger from Smith Pasha, Minister under
Heaven of the United States?"
"Alas, no!" said Toomuch. "It is HE. It is THE LARGE ONE!"
As he spoke he rolled his eyes upward with a gesture of
"HE!" cried Abdul, and a look of terror convulsed his
face. "The Large One! Shut him out! Call the Chief Eunuch
and the Major Domo of the Harem! Let him not in!"
"Alas," said Toomuch, "he threw them out of the window.
Lo! he is here, he enters."
As the secretary spoke, a double door at the end of the
hall swung noisily open, at the blow of an imperious
fist, and with a rattle of arms and accoutrements a man
of gigantic stature, wearing full military uniform and
a spiked helmet, strode into the room.
As he entered, an attendant who accompanied him, also in
a uniform and a spiked helmet, called in a loud strident
voice that resounded to the arches of the hall:
"His High Excellenz Feld Marechal von der Doppelbauch,
Spezial Representant of His Majestat William II, Deutscher
Kaiser and King of England!"
Abdul collapsed into a little heap. His fez fell over
his face. Toomuch Koffi had slunk into a corner.
Von der Doppelbauch strode noisily forward and came to
a stand in front of Abdul with a click and rattle after
the Prussian fashion.
"Majestat," he said in a deep, thunderous voice, "I greet
you. I bow low before you. Salaam! I kiss the floor at
But in reality he did nothing of the sort. He stood to
the full height of his six feet six and glowered about him.
"Salaam!" said Abdul, in a feeble voice.
"But who is this?" added the Field-Marshal, looking
angrily at me.
My costume, or rather my disguise, for, as I have said,
I was wearing a poke bonnet with a plain black dress,
seemed to puzzle him.
"My new governess," said Abdul. "She came this morning.
She is a professor--"
"Bah!" said the Field-Marshal, "a _woman_ a professor! Bah!"
"No, no," said Abdul in protest, and it seemed decent of
the little creature to stick up for me. "She's all right,
she is interesting and knows a great deal. She's from
"What!" exclaimed Von der Doppelbauch. "From Canada!
But stop! It seems to me that Canada is a country that
we are at war with. Let me think, Canada? I must look at
my list"--he pulled out a little set of tablets as he
spoke--"let me see, Britain, Great Britain, British North
America, British Guiana, British Nigeria--ha! of course,
under K--Kandahar, Korfu. No, I don't seem to see it
--Fritz," he called to the aide-de-camp who had announced
him, "telegraph at once to the Topographical Staff at
Berlin and find out if we are at war with Canada. If we
are"--he pointed at me--"throw her into the Bosphorus.
If we are not, treat her with every consideration, with
every distinguished consideration. But see that she
doesn't get away. Keep her tight, till we _are_ at war
with Canada, as no doubt we shall be, wherever it is,
and _then_ throw her into the Bosphorus."
The aide clicked his heels and withdrew.
"And now, your majesty," continued the Field-Marshal,
turning abruptly to the Sultan, "I bring you good news."
"More good news," groaned Abdul miserably, winding his
clasped fingers to and fro. "Alas, good news again!"
"First," said Von der Doppelbauch, "the Kaiser has raised
you to the order of the Black Dock. Here is your feather."
"Another feather," moaned Abdul. "Here, Toomuch, take it
and put it among the feathers!"
"Secondly," went on the Field-Marshal, checking off his
items as he spoke, "your contribution, your personal
contribution to His Majesty's Twenty-third Imperial Loan,
"I didn't make any!" sobbed Abdul.
"No difference," said Von der Doppelbauch. "It is accepted
anyway. The telegram has just arrived accepting all your
money. My assistants are packing it up outside."
Abdul collapsed still further into his cushions.
"Third, and this will rejoice your Majesty's heart: Your
troops are again victorious!"
"Victorious!" moaned Abdul. "Victorious again! I knew
they would be! I suppose they are all dead as usual?"
"They are," said the Marshal. "Their souls," he added
reverently, with a military salute, "are in Heaven!"
"No, no," gasped Abdul, "not in Heaven! don't say that!
Not in Heaven! Say that they are in Nishvana, our Turkish
"I am sorry," said the Field-Marshal gravely. "This is
a Christian war. The Kaiser has insisted on their going
The Sultan bowed his head.
"Ishmillah!" he murmured. "It is the will of Allah."
"But they did not die without glory," went on the
Field-Marshal. "Their victory was complete. Set it out
to yourself," and here his eyes glittered with soldierly
passion. "There stood your troops--ten thousand! In front
of them the Russians--a hundred thousand. What did your
men do? Did they pause? No, they charged!"
"They _charged!_" cried the Sultan in misery. "Don't say
that! Have they charged again! Just Allah!" he added,
turning to Toomuch. "They have charged again! And we must
pay, we shall have to pay--we always do when they charge.
Alas, alas, they have charged again. Everything is
"But how nobly," rejoined the Prussian. "Imagine it to
yourself! Here, beside this stool, let us say, were your
men. There, across the cushion, were the Russians. All
the ground between was mined. We knew it. Our soldiers
knew it. Even our staff knew it. Even Prinz Tattelwitz
Halfstuff, our commander, knew it. But your soldiers did
not. What did our Prinz do? The Prinz called for volunteers
to charge over the ground. There was a great shout--from
our men, our German regiments. He called again. There
was another shout. He called still again. There was a
third shout. Think of it! And again Prinz Halfstuff called
and again they shouted."
"Who shouted?" asked the Sultan gloomily.
"Our men, our Germans."
"Did my Turks shout?" asked Abdul.
"They did not. They were too busy tightening their belts
and fixing their bayonets. But our generous fellows
shouted for them. Then Prinz Halfstuff called out, 'The
place of honour is for our Turkish brothers. Let them
charge!' And all our men shouted again."
"And they charged?"
"They did--and were all gloriously blown up. A magnificent
victory. The blowing up of the mines blocked all the
ground, checked the Russians and enabled our men, by a
prearranged rush, to advance backwards, taking up a new
"Yes, yes," said Abdul, "I know--I have read of it, alas,
only too often! And they are dead! Toomuch," he added
quietly, drawing a little pouch from his girdle, "take
this pouch of rubies and give them to the wives of the
dead general of our division--one to each. He had, I
think, but seventeen. His walk was quiet. Allah give him
"Stop," said Von der Doppelbauch. "I will take the rubies.
I myself will charge myself with the task and will myself
see that I do it myself. Give me them."
"Be it so, Toomuch," assented the Sultan humbly. "Give
them to him."
"And now," continued the Field-Marshal, "there is yet
one other thing further still more." He drew a roll of
paper from his pocket. "Toomuch," he said, "bring me
yonder little table, with ink, quills and sand. I have
here a manifesto for His Majesty to sign."
"No, no," cried Abdul in renewed alarm. "Not another
manifesto. Not that! I signed one only last week."
"This is a new one," said the Field-Marshal, as he lifted
the table that Toomuch had brought into place in front
of the Sultan, and spread out the papers on it. "This is
a better one. This is the best one yet."
"What does it say?" said Abdul, peering at it miserably,
"I can't read it. It's not in Turkish."
"It is your last word of proud defiance to all your
enemies," said the Marshal.
"No, no," whined Abdul. "Not defiance; they might not
"Here you declare," went on the Field-Marshal, with his
big finger on the text, "your irrevocable purpose. You
swear that rather than submit you will hurl yourself into
"Where does it say that?" screamed Abdul.
"Here beside my thumb."
"I can't do it, I can't do it," moaned the little Sultan.
"More than that further," went on the Prussian quite
undisturbed, "you state hereby your fixed resolve, rather
than give in, to cast yourself from the highest pinnacle
of the topmost minaret of this palace."
"Oh, not the highest; don't make it the highest," moaned
"Your purpose is fixed. Nothing can alter it. Unless the
Allied Powers withdraw from their advance on Constantinople
you swear that within one hour you will fill your mouth
with mud and burn yourself alive."
"Just Allah!" cried the Sultan. "Does it say all that?"
"All that," said Von der Doppelbauch. "All that within
an hour. It is a splendid defiance. The Kaiser himself
has seen it and admired it. 'These,' he said, 'are the
words of a man!'"
"Did he say that?" said Abdul, evidently flattered. "And
is he too about to hurl himself off his minaret?"
"For the moment, no," replied Von der Doppelbauch sternly.
"Well, well," said Abdul, and to my surprise he began
picking up the pen and making ready. "I suppose if I must
sign it, I must." Then he marked the paper and sprinkled
it with sand. "For one hour? Well, well," he murmured.
"Von der Doppelbauch Pasha," he added with dignity, "you
are permitted to withdraw. Commend me to your Imperial
Master, my brother. Tell him that, when I am gone, he
may have Constantinople, provided only"--and a certain
slyness appeared in the Sultan's eye--"that he can get
The Field-Marshal, majestic as ever, gathered up the
manifesto, clicked his heels together and withdrew.
As the door closed behind him, I had expected the little
Sultan to fall into hopeless collapse.
Not at all. On the contrary, a look of peculiar cheerfulness
spread over his features.
He refilled his narghileh and began quietly smoking at it.
"Toomuch," he said, quite cheerfully, "I see there is no
"Alas!" said the secretary.
"I have now," went on the Sultan, "apparently but sixty
minutes in front of me. I had hoped that the intervention
of the United States might have saved me. It has not.
Instead of it, I meet my fate. Well, well, it is Kismet.
I bow to it."
He smoked away quite cheerfully.
Presently he paused.
"Toomuch," he said, "kindly go and fetch me a sharp
knife, double-edged if possible, but sharp, and a stout
Up to this time I had remained a mere spectator of what
had happened. But now I feared that I was on the brink
of witnessing an awful tragedy.
"Good heavens, Abdul," I said, "what are you going to do?"
"Do? Why kill myself, of course," the Sultan answered,
pausing for a moment in an interval of his cheerful
smoking. "What else should I do? What else is there to
do? I shall first stab myself in the stomach and then
throttle myself with the bowstring. In half an hour I
shall be in paradise. Toomuch, summon hither from the
inner harem Fatima and Falloola; they shall sit beside
me and sing to me at the last hour, for I love them well,
and later they too shall voyage with me to paradise. See
to it that they are both thrown a little later into the
Bosphorus, for my heart yearns towards the two of them,"
and he added thoughtfully, "especially perhaps towards
Fatima, but I have never quite made up my mind."
The Sultan sat back with a little gurgle of contentment,
the rose water bubbling soothingly in the bowl of his pipe.
Then he turned to his secretary again.
"Toomuch," he said, "you will at the same time send a
bowstring to Codfish Pasha, my Chief of War. It is our
sign, you know," he added in explanation to me--"it gives
Codfish leave to kill himself. And, Toomuch, send a
bowstring also to Beefhash Pasha, my Vizier--good fellow,
he will expect it--and to Macpherson Effendi, my financial
adviser. Let them all have bowstrings."
"Stop, stop," I pleaded. "I don't understand."
"Why surely," said the little man, in evident astonishment,
"it is plain enough. What would you do in Canada? When
your ministers--as I think you call them--fail and no
longer enjoy your support, do you not send them bowstrings?"
"Never," I said. "They go out of office, but--"
"And they do not disembowel themselves on their retirement?
Have they not that privilege?"
"Never!" I said. "What an idea!"
"The ways of the infidel." said the little Sultan, calmly
resuming his pipe, "are beyond the compass of the true
intelligence of the Faithful. Yet I thought it was so
even as here. I had read in your newspapers that after
your last election your ministers were buried alive--buried
under a landslide, was it not? We thought it--here in
Turkey--a noble fate for them."
"They crawled out," I said.
"Ishmillah!" ejaculated Abdul. "But go, Toomuch. And
listen, thou also--for in spite of all thou hast served
me well--shalt have a bowstring."
"Oh, master, master," cried Toomuch, falling on his knees
in gratitude and clutching the sole of Abdul's slipper.
"It is too kind!"
"Nay, nay," said the Sultan. "Thou hast deserved it. And
I will go further. This stranger, too, my governess, this
professor, bring also for the professor a bowstring, and
a two-bladed knife! All Canada shall rejoice to hear of
it. The students shall leap up like young lambs at the
honour that will be done. Bring the knife, Toomuch; bring
"Abdul," I said, "Abdul, this is too much. I refuse. I
am not fit. The honour is too great."
"Not so," said Abdul. "I am still Sultan. I insist upon
it. For, listen, I have long penetrated your disguise
and your kind design. I saw it from the first. You knew
all and came to die with me. It was kindly meant. But
you shall die no common death; yours shall be the honour
of the double knife--let it be extra sharp, Toomuch--and
"Abdul," I urged, "it cannot be. You forget. I have an
appointment to be thrown into the Bosphorus."
"The death of a dog! Never!" cried Abdul. "My will is
still law. Toomuch, kill him on the spot. Hit him with
the stool, throw the coffee at him--"
But at this moment there were heard loud cries and shouting
as in tones of great gladness, in the outer hall of the
palace, doors swinging to and fro and the sound of many
running feet. One heard above all the call, "It has
come! It has come!"
The Sultan looked up quickly.
"Toomuch," he said eagerly and anxiously, "quick, see
what it is. Hurry! hurry! Haste! Do not stay on ceremony.
Drink a cup of coffee, give me five cents--fifty cents,
anything--and take leave and see what it is."
But before Toomuch could reply, a turbaned attendant had
already burst in through the door unannounced and thrown
himself at Abdul's feet.
"Master! Master!" he cried. "It is here. It has come."
As he spoke he held out in one hand a huge envelope,
heavy with seals. I could detect in great letters stamped
across it the words, WASHINGTON and OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
Abdul seized and opened the envelope with trembling hands.
"It is it!" he cried. "It is sent by Smith Pasha, Minister
under the Peace of Heaven of the United States. It is
the Intervention. I am saved."
Then there was silence among us, breathless and anxious.
Abdul glanced down the missive, reading it in silence to
"Oh noble," he murmured. "Oh generous! It is too much.
Too splendid a lot!"
"What does it say?"
"Look," said the Sultan. "The United States has used its
good offices. It has intervened! All is settled. My fate
"Yes, yes," I said, "but what is it?"
"Is it believable?" exclaimed Abdul. "It appears that
none of the belligerents cared about _me_ at all. None
had designs upon me. The war was _not_ made, as we
understood, Toomuch, as an attempt to seize my person.
All they wanted was Constantinople. Not _me_ at all!"
"Powerful Allah!" murmured Toomuch. "Why was it not so
"For me," said the Sultan, still consulting the letter,
"great honours are prepared! I am to leave Constantinople
--that is the sole condition. It shall then belong to
whoever can get it. Nothing could be fairer. It always
has. I am to have a safe conduct--is it not noble?--to
the United States. No one is to attempt to poison me--is
it not generosity itself?--neither on land nor even--mark
this especially, Toomuch--on board ship. Nor is anyone
to throw me overboard or otherwise transport me to
"It passes belief!" murmured Toomuch Koffi. "Allah is
"In the United States itself," went on Abdul, "or, I
should say, themselves, Toomuch, for are they not
innumerable? I am to have a position of the highest trust,
power and responsibility."
"Is it really possible?" I said, greatly surprised.
"It is so written," said the Sultan. "I am to be placed
at the head, as the sole head or sovereign of--how is it
written?--a _Turkish Bath Establishment_ in New York.
There I am to enjoy the same freedom and to exercise just
as much--it is so written--exactly as much political
power as I do here. Is it not glorious?"
"Allah! Illallah!" cried the secretary.
"You, Toomuch, shall come with me, for there is a post
of great importance placed at my disposal--so it is
written--under the title of Rubber Down. Toomuch, let
our preparations be made at once. Notify Fatima and
Falloola. Those two alone shall go, for it is a Christian
country and I bow to its prejudices. Two, I understand,
is the limit. But we must leave at once."
The Sultan paused a moment and then looked at me.
"And our good friend here," he added, "we must leave to
get out of this Yildiz Kiosk by whatsoever magic means
he came into it."
Which I did.
And I am assured, by those who know, that the intervention
was made good and that Abdul and Toomuch may be seen to
this day, or to any other day, moving to and fro in their
slippers and turbans in their Turkish Bath Emporium at
the corner of Broadway and--
But stop; that would be saying too much, especially as
Fatima and Falloola occupy the upstairs.
And it is said that Abdul has developed a very special
talent for heating up the temperature for his Christian
Moreover, it is the general opinion that, whether or not
the Kaiser and such people will get their deserts, Abdul
Aziz has his.
XIII. In Merry Mexico
I stood upon the platform of the little deserted railway
station of the frontier and looked around at the wide
prospect. "So this," I said to myself, "is Mexico!"
About me was the great plain rolling away to the Sierras
in the background. The railroad track traversed it in a
thin line. There were no trees--only here and there a
clump of cactus or chaparral, a tuft of dog-grass or a
few patches of dogwood. At intervals in the distance one
could see a hacienda standing in majestic solitude in a
cup of the hills. In the blue sky floated little banderillos
of white cloud, while a graceful hidalgo appeared poised
on a crag on one leg with folded wings, or floated lazily
in the sky on one wing with folded legs.
There was a drowsy buzzing of cicadas half asleep in the
cactus cups, and, from some hidden depth of the hills
far in the distance, the tinkling of a mule bell.
I had seen it all so often in moving pictures that I
recognised the scene at once.
"So this is Mexico?" I repeated.
The station building beside me was little more than a
wooden shack. Its door was closed. There was a sort of
ticket wicket opening at the side, but it too was closed.
But as I spoke thus aloud, the wicket opened. There
appeared in it the head and shoulders of a little wizened
man, swarthy and with bright eyes and pearly teeth.
He wore a black velvet suit with yellow facings, and a
tall straw hat running to a point. I seemed to have seen
him a hundred times in comic opera.
"Can you tell me when the next train--?" I began.
The little man made a gesture of Spanish politeness.
"Welcome to Mexico!" he said.
"Could you tell me--?" I continued.
"Welcome to our sunny Mexico!" he repeated--"our beautiful,
glorious Mexico. Her heart throbs at the sight of you."
"Would you mind--?" I began again.
"Our beautiful Mexico, torn and distracted as she is,
greets you. In the name of the _de facto_ government,
thrice welcome. _Su casa!_" he added with a graceful
gesture indicating the interior of his little shack.
"Come in and smoke cigarettes and sleep. _Su casa!_ You
are capable of Spanish, is it not?"
"No," I said, "it is not. But I wanted to know when the
next train for the interior--"
"Ah!" he rejoined more briskly. "You address me as a
servant of the _de facto_ government. _Momentino!_ One
He shut the wicket and was gone a long time. I thought
he had fallen asleep.
But he reappeared. He had a bundle of what looked like
railway time tables, very ancient and worn, in his hand.
"Did you say," he questioned, "the _in_terior or the
"The interior, please."
"Ah, good, excellent--for the interior." The little
Mexican retreated into his shack and I could hear him
murmuring, "For the interior, excellent," as he moved to
Presently he reappeared, a look of deep sorrow on his
"Alas," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "I am _desolado!_
It has gone! The next train has gone!"
"Alas, who can tell? Yesterday, last month? But it has
"And when will there be another one?" I asked.
"Ha!" he said, resuming a brisk official manner. "I
understand. Having missed the next, you propose to take
another one. Excellent! What business enterprise you
foreigners have! You miss your train! What do you do? Do
you abandon your journey? No. Do you sit down--do you
weep? No. Do you lose time? You do not."
"Excuse me," I said, "but when is there another train?"
"That must depend," said the little official, and as he
spoke he emerged from his house and stood beside me on
the platform fumbling among his railway guides. "The
first question is, do you propose to take a _de facto_
train or a _de jure_ train?"
"When do they go?" I asked.
"There is a _de jure_ train," continued the stationmaster,
peering into his papers, "at two p.m. A very good
train--sleepers and diners--one at four, a through
train--sleepers, observation car, dining car, corridor
compartments--that also is a _de jure_ train--"
"But what is the difference between the _de jure_ and
the _de facto?_"
"It's a distinction we generally make in Mexico. The _de
jure_ trains are those that ought to go; that is, in
theory, they go. The _de facto_ trains are those that
actually do go. It is a distinction clearly established
in our correspondence with Huedro Huilson."
"Do you mean Woodrow Wilson?"
"Yes, Huedro Huilson, president--_de jure_--of the United
"Oh," I said. "Now I understand. And when will there be
a _de facto_ train?"
"At any moment you like," said the little official with
"But I don't see--"
"Pardon me, I have one here behind the shed on that side
track. Excuse me one moment and I will bring it."
He disappeared and I presently saw him energetically
pushing out from behind the shed a little railroad lorry
or hand truck.
"Now then," he said as he shoved his little car on to
the main track, "this is the train. Seat yourself. I
myself will take you."
"And how much shall I pay? What is the fare to the
interior?" I questioned.
The little man waved the idea aside with a polite gesture.
"The fare," he said, "let us not speak of it. Let us
forget it How much money have you?"
"I have here," I said, taking out a roll of bills, "fifty
"And that is _all_ you have?"
"Then let _that_ be your fare! Why should I ask more?
Were I an American, I might; but in our Mexico, no. What
you have we take; beyond that we ask nothing. Let us
forget it. Good! And, now, would you prefer to travel
first, second, or third class?"
"First class please," I said.
"Very good. Let it be so." Here the little man took from
his pocket a red label marked FIRST CLASS and tied it on
the edge of the hand car. "It is more comfortable," he
said. "Now seat yourself, seize hold of these two handles
in front of you. Move them back and forward, thus. Beyond
that you need do nothing. The working of the car, other
than the mere shoving of the handles, shall be my task.
Consider yourself, in fact, _senor_, as my guest."
We took our places. I applied myself, as directed, to
the handles and the little car moved forward across the
"A glorious prospect," I said, as I gazed at the broad
"_Magnifico!_ Is it not?" said my companion. "Alas, my
poor Mexico! She want nothing but water to make her the
most fertile country of the globe! Water and soil, those
only, and she would excel all others. Give her but water,
soil, light, heat, capital and labour, and what could
she not be! And what do we see? Distraction, revolution,
destruction--pardon me, will you please stop the car a
moment? I wish to tear up a little of the track behind us."
I did as directed. My companion descended, and with a
little bar that he took from beneath the car unloosed a
few of the rails of the light track and laid them beside
"It is our custom," he explained, as he climbed on board
again. "We Mexicans, when we move to and fro, always
tear up the track behind us. But what was I saying? Ah,
yes--destruction, desolation, alas, our Mexico!"
He looked sadly up at the sky.
"You speak," I said, "like a patriot. May I ask your
"My name is Raymon," he answered, with a bow, "Raymon
Domenico y Miraflores de las Gracias."
"And may I call you simply Raymon?"
"I shall be delirious with pleasure if you will do so,"
he answered, "and dare I ask you, in return, your business
in our beautiful country?"
The car, as we were speaking, had entered upon a long
gentle down-grade across the plain, so that it ran without
great effort on my part.
"Certainly," I said. "I'm going into the interior to see
At the shock of the name, Raymon nearly fell off the car.
"Villa! General Francesco Villa! It is not possible!"
The little man was shivering with evident fear.
"See him! See Villa! Not possible. Let me show you a
picture of him instead? But approach him--it is not
possible. He shoots everybody at sight!"
"That's all right," I said. "I have a written safe conduct
that protects me."
"Here," I said, "look at them--I have two."
Raymon took the documents I gave him and read aloud:
"'The bearer is on an important mission connected with
American rights in Mexico. If anyone shoots him he will
be held to a strict accountability. W. W.' Ah! Excellent!
He will be compelled to send in an itemised account.
Excellent! And this other, let me see. 'If anybody
interferes with the bearer, I will knock his face in. T.
R.' Admirable. This is, if anything, better than the
other for use in our country. It appeals to our quick
Mexican natures. It is, as we say, _simpatico_. It touches
"It is meant to," I said.
"And may I ask," said Raymon, "the nature of your business
"We are old friends," I answered. "I used to know him
years ago when he kept a Mexican cigar store in Buffalo.
It occurred to me that I might be able to help the cause
of peaceful intervention. I have already had a certain
experience in Turkey. I am commissioned to make General
Villa an offer."
"I see," said Raymon. "In that case, if we are to find
Villa let us make all haste forward. And first we must
direct ourselves yonder"--he pointed in a vague way
towards the mountains--"where we must presently leave
our car and go on foot, to the camp of General Carranza."
"Carranza!" I exclaimed. "But he is fighting Villa!"
"Exactly. It is _possible_--not certain--but possible,
that he knows where Villa is. In our Mexico when two of
our generalistas are fighting in the mountains, they keep
coming across one another. It is hard to avoid it."
"Good," I said. "Let us go forward."
It was two days later that we reached Carranza's camp in
We found him just at dusk seated at a little table beneath
His followers were all about, picketing their horses and
The General, buried in a book before him, noticed neither
the movements of his own men nor our approach.
I must say that I was surprised beyond measure at his
The popular idea of General Carranza as a rude bandit
chief is entirely erroneous.
I saw before me a quiet, scholarly-looking man, bearing
every mark of culture and refinement. His head was bowed
over the book in front of him, which I noticed with
astonishment and admiration was _Todhunter's Algebra_.
Close at his hand I observed a work on _Decimal Fractions_,
while, from time to time, I saw the General lift his eyes
and glance keenly at a multiplication table that hung on
a bough beside him.
"You must wait a few moments," said an aide-de-camp, who
stood beside us. "The General is at work on a simultaneous
"Is it possible?" I said in astonishment.
The aide-de-camp smiled.
"Soldiering to-day, my dear Senor," he said, "is an exact
science. On this equation will depend our entire food
supply for the next week."
"When will he get it done?" I asked anxiously.
"Simultaneously," said the aide-de-camp.
The General looked up at this moment and saw us.
"Well?" he asked.
"Your Excellency," said the aide-de-camp, "there is a
stranger here on a visit of investigation to Mexico."
"Shoot him!" said the General, and turned quickly to his
The aide-de-camp saluted.
"When?" he asked.
"As soon as he likes," said the General.
"You are fortunate, indeed," said the aide-de-camp, in
a tone of animation, as he led me away, still accompanied
by Raymon. "You might have been kept waiting round for
days. Let us get ready at once. You would like to be
shot, would you not, smoking a cigarette, and standing
beside your grave? Luckily, we have one ready. Now, if
you will wait a moment, I will bring the photographer
and his machine. There is still light enough, I think.
What would you like it called? _The Fate of a Spy?_ That's
good, isn't it? Our syndicate can always work up that
into a two-reel film. All the rest of it--the camp, the
mountains, the general, the funeral and so on--we can do
to-morrow without you."
He was all eagerness as he spoke.
"One moment," I interrupted. "I am sure there is some
mistake. I only wished to present certain papers and
get a safe conduct from the General to go and see Villa."
The aide-de-camp stopped abruptly.
"Ah!" he said. "You are not here for a picture. A thousand
pardons. Give me your papers. One moment--I will return
to the General and explain."
He vanished, and Raymon and I waited in the growing dusk.
"No doubt the General supposed," explained Raymon, as he
lighted a cigarette, "that you were here for _las machinas_,
the moving pictures."
In a few minutes the aide-de-camp returned.
"Come," he said, "the General will see you now."
We returned to where we had left Carranza.
The General rose to meet me with outstretched hand and
with a gesture of simple cordiality.
"You must pardon my error," he said.
"Not at all," I said.
"It appears you do not desire to be shot."
"Not at present."
"Later, perhaps," said the General. "On your return, no
doubt, provided," he added with grave courtesy that sat
well on him, "that you do return. My aide-de-camp shall
make a note of it. But at present you wish to be guided
to Francesco Villa?"
"If it is possible."
"Quite easy. He is at present near here, in fact much
nearer than he has any right to be." The General frowned.
"We found this spot first. The light is excellent and
the mountains, as you have seen, are wonderful for our
pictures. This is, by every rule of decency, _our_ scenery.
Villa has no right to it. This is _our_ Revolution"--the
General spoke with rising animation--"not his. When you
see the fellow, tell him from me--or tell his manager--that
he must either move his revolution further away or, by
heaven, I'll--I'll use force against him. But stop," he
checked himself. "You wish to see Villa. Good. You have
only to follow the straight track over the mountain there.
He is just beyond, at the little village in the hollow,
El Corazon de las Quertas."
The General shook hands and seated himself again at his
work. The interview was at an end. We withdrew.
The next morning we followed without difficulty the path
indicated. A few hours' walk over the mountain pass
brought us to a little straggling village of adobe houses,
sleeping drowsily in the sun.
There were but few signs of life in its one street--a
mule here and there tethered in the sun, and one or two
Mexicans drowsily smoking in the shade.
One building only, evidently newly made, and of lumber,
had a decidedly American appearance. Its doorway bore
the sign GENERAL OFFICES OF THE COMPANY, and under it
the notice KEEP OUT, while on one of its windows was
painted GENERAL MANAGER and below it the legend NO
ADMISSION, and on the other, SECRETARY'S OFFICE: GO AWAY.
We therefore entered at once.
"General Francesco Villa?" said a clerk, evidently
American. "Yes, he's here all right. At least, this is
"And where is the General?" I asked.
The clerk turned to an assistant at a desk in a corner
of the room.
"Where's Frank working this morning?" he asked.
"Over down in the gulch," said the other, turning round
for a moment. "There's an attack on American cavalry this
"Oh, yes, I forgot," said the chief clerk. "I thought it
was the Indian Massacre, but I guess that's for to-morrow.
Go straight to the end of the street and turn left about
half a mile and you'll find the boys down there."
We thanked him and withdrew.
We passed across the open plaza, and went down a narrow
side road, bordered here and there with adobe houses,
and so out into the open country. Here the hills rose
again and the road that we followed wound sharply round
a turn into a deep gorge, bordered with rocks and sage
brush. We had no sooner turned the curve of the road than
we came upon a scene of great activity. Men in Mexican
costume were running to and fro apparently arranging a
sort of barricade at the side of the road. Others seemed
to be climbing the rocks on the further side of the gorge,
as if seeking points of advantage. I noticed that all
were armed with rifles and machetes and presented a
formidable appearance. Of Villa himself I could see
nothing. But there was a grim reality about the glittering
knives, the rifles and the maxim guns that I saw concealed
in the sage brush beside the road.
"What is it?" I asked of a man who was standing idle,
watching the scene from the same side of the road as
"Attack of American cavalry," he said nonchalantly.
"Here!" I gasped.
"Yep, in about ten minutes: soon as they are ready."
"It's him they're attacking. They chase him here, see!
This is an ambush. Villa rounds on them right here, and
they fight to a finish!"
"Great heavens!" I exclaimed. "How do you know that?"
"Know it? Why because I _seen_ it. Ain't they been trying
it out for three days? Why, I'd be in it myself only I'm
off work. Got a sore toe yesterday--horse stepped on it."
All this was, of course, quite unintelligible to me.
"But it's right here where they're going to fight?" I
"Sure," said the American, as he moved carelessly aside,
"as soon as the boss gets it all ready."
I noticed for the first time a heavy-looking man in an
American tweed suit and a white plug hat, moving to and
fro and calling out directions with an air of authority.
"Here!" he shouted, "what in h--l are you doing with that
machine gun? You've got it clean out of focus. Here,
Jose, come in closer--that's right. Steady there now,
and don't forget, at the second whistle you and Pete are
dead. Here, you, Pete, how in thunder do you think you
can die there? You're all out of the picture and hidden
by that there sage brush. That's no place to die. And,
boys, remember one thing, now, _die slow_. Ed"--he turned
and called apparently to some one invisible behind the
rocks--"when them two boys is killed, turn her round on
them, slew her round good and get them centre focus. Now
then, are you all set? Ready?"
At this moment the speaker turned and saw Raymon and
"Here, youse," he shouted, "get further back, you're in
the picture. Or, say, no, stay right where you are.
You," he said, pointing to me, "stay right where you are
and I'll give you a dollar to just hold that horror; you
understand, just keep on registering it. Don't do another
thing, just register that face."
His words were meaningless to me. I had never known before
that it was possible to make money by merely registering
"No, no," cried out Raymon, "my friend here is not wanting
work. He has a message, a message of great importance
for General Villa."
"Well," called back the boss, "he'll have to wait. We
can't stop now. All ready, boys? One--two--now!"
And with that he put a whistle to his lips and blew a
long shrill blast.
Then in a moment the whole scene was transformed. Rifle
shots rang out from every crag and bush that bordered
A wild scamper of horses' hoofs was heard and in a moment
there came tearing down the road a whole troop of mounted
Mexicans, evidently in flight, for they turned and fired
from their saddles as they rode. The horses that carried
them were wild with excitement and flecked with foam.
The Mexican cavalry men shouted and yelled, brandishing
their machetes and firing their revolvers. Here and there
a horse and rider fell to the ground in a great whirl of
sand and dust. In the thick of the press, a leader of
ferocious aspect, mounted upon a gigantic black horse,
waved his sombrero about his head.
"Villa--it is Villa!" cried Raymon, tense with excitement.
"Is he not _magnifico?_ But look! Look--the _Americanos!_
They are coming!"
It was a glorious sight to see them as they rode madly
on the heels of the Mexicans--a whole company of American
cavalry, their horses shoulder to shoulder, the men bent
low in their saddles, their carbines gripped in their
hands. They rode in squadrons and in line, not like the
shouting, confused mass of the Mexicans--but steady,
On the right flank in front a grey-haired officer steadied
the charging line. The excitement of it was maddening.
"Go to it," I shouted in uncontrollable emotion. "Your
Mexicans are licked, Raymon, they're no good!"
"But look!" said Raymon. "See--the ambush, the ambuscada!"
For as they reached the centre of the gorge in front of
us the Mexicans suddenly checked their horses, bringing
them plunging on their haunches in the dust, and then
swung round upon their pursuers, while from every crag
and bush at the side of the gorge the concealed riflemen
sprang into view--and the sputtering of the machine guns
swept the advancing column with a volley.
We could see the American line checked as with the buffet
of a great wave, men and horses rolling in the road.
Through the smoke one saw the grey-haired leader
--dismounted, his uniform torn, his hat gone, but still
brandishing his sword and calling his orders to his men,
his face as one caught in a flash of sunlight, steady
and fearless. His words I could not hear, but one saw
the American cavalry, still unbroken, dismount, throw
themselves behind their horses, and fire with steady aim
into the mass of the Mexicans. We could see the Mexicans
in front of where we stood falling thick and fast, in
little huddled bundles of colour, kicking the sand. The
man Pete had gone down right in the foreground and was
breathing out his soul before our eyes.
"Well done," I shouted. "Go to it, boys! You can lick
'em yet! Hurrah for the United States. Look, Raymon,
look! They've shot down the crew of the machine guns.
See, see, the Mexicans are turning to run. At 'em, boys!
They're waving the American flag! There it is in all the
thick of the smoke! Hark! There's the bugle call to
mount again! They're going to charge again! Here they
As the American cavalry came tearing forward, the Mexicans
leaped from their places with gestures of mingled rage
and terror as if about to break and run.
The battle, had it continued, could have but one end.
But at this moment we heard from the town behind us the
long sustained note of a steam whistle blowing the hour
In an instant the firing ceased.
The battle stopped. The Mexicans picked themselves up
off the ground and began brushing off the dust from their
black velvet jackets. The American cavalry reined in
their horses. Dead Pete came to life. General Villa and
the American leader and a number of others strolled over
towards the boss, who stood beside the fence vociferating
"That won't do!" he was shouting. "That won't do! Where
in blazes was that infernal Sister of Mercy? Miss
Jenkinson!" and he called to a tall girl, whom I now
noticed for the first time among the crowd, wearing a
sort of khaki costume and a short skirt and carrying a
water bottle in a strap. "You never got into the picture
at all. I want you right in there among the horses, under
"Land sakes!" said the Sister of Mercy. "You ain't no
right to ask me to go in there among them horses and be
"Ain't you _paid_ to be trampled?" said the manager
angrily. Then as he caught sight of Villa he broke off
and said: "Frank, you boys done fine. It's going to be
a good act, all right. But it ain't just got the right
amount of ginger in it yet. We'll try her over _once_
"Now, boys," he continued, calling out to the crowd with
a voice like a megaphone, "this afternoon at three-thirty
--Hospital scene. I only want the wounded, the doctors
and the Sisters of Mercy. All the rest of youse is free
till ten to-morrow--for the Indian Massacre. Everybody
up for that."
It was an hour or two later that I had my interview with
Villa in a back room of the little _posada_, or inn, of
the town. The General had removed his ferocious wig of
straight black hair, and substituted a check suit for
his warlike costume. He had washed the darker part of
the paint off his face--in fact, he looked once again
the same Frank Villa that I used to know when he kept
his Mexican cigar store in Buffalo.
"Well, Frank," I said, "I'm afraid I came down here under
"Looks like it," said the General, as he rolled a cigarette.
"And you wouldn't care to go back even for the offer that
I am commissioned to make--your old job back again, and
half the profits on a new cigar to be called the Francesco
The General shook his head.
"It sounds good, all right," he said, "but this
moving-picture business is better."
"I see," I said, "I hadn't understood. I thought there
really was a revolution here in Mexico."
"No," said Villa, shaking his head, "been no revolution
down here for years--not since Diaz. The picture companies
came in and took the whole thing over; they made us a
fair offer--so much a reel straight out, and a royalty,
and let us divide up the territory as we liked. The first
film we done was the bombardment of Vera Cruz. Say, that
was a dandy; did you see it?"
"No," I said.
"They had us all in that," he continued. "I done an
American Marine. Lots of people think it all real when
they see it."
"Why," I said, "nearly everybody does. Even the President--"
"Oh, I guess he knows," said Villa, "but, you see, there's
tons of money in it and it's good for business, and he's
too decent a man to give It away. Say, I heard the boy
saying there's a war in Europe. I wonder what company
got that up, eh? But I don't believe it'll draw. There
ain't the scenery for it that we have in Mexico."
"Alas!" murmured Raymon. "Our beautiful Mexico. To what
is she fallen! Needing only water, air, light and soil
to make her--"
"Come on, Raymon," I said, "let's go home."
XIV. Over the Grape Juice; or, The Peacemakers
MR. W. JENNINGS BRYAN.
DR. DAVID STARR JORDAN.
MR. NORMAN ANGELL.
A LADY PACIFIST.
A NEGRO PRESIDENT.
AN EMINENT DIVINE.
THE MAN ON THE STREET.
THE GENERAL PUBLIC.
And many others.
"War," said the Negro President of Haiti, "is a sad
spectacle. It shames our polite civilisation."
As he spoke, he looked about him at the assembled company
around the huge dinner table, glittering with cut glass
and white linen, and brilliant with hot-house flowers.
"A sad spectacle," he repeated, rolling his big eyes in
his black and yellow face that was melancholy with the
broken pathos of the African race.
The occasion was a notable one. It was the banquet of
the Peacemakers' Conference of 1917 and the company
gathered about the board was as notable as it was numerous.
At the head of the table the genial Mr. Jennings Bryan
presided as host, his broad countenance beaming with
amiability, and a tall flagon of grape juice standing
beside his hand. A little further down the table one saw
the benevolent head and placid physiognomy of Mr. Norman
Angell, bowed forward as if in deep calculation. Within
earshot of Mr. Bryan, but not listening to him, one
recognised without the slightest difficulty Dr. David
Starr Jordan, the distinguished ichthyologist and director
in chief of the World's Peace Foundation, while the bland
features of a gentleman from China, and the presence of
a yellow delegate from the Mosquito Coast, gave ample
evidence that the company had been gathered together
without reference to colour, race, religion, education,
or other prejudices whatsoever.
But it would be out of the question to indicate by name
the whole of the notable assemblage. Indeed, certain of
the guests, while carrying in their faces and attitudes
something strangely and elusively familiar, seemed in a
sense to be nameless, and to represent rather types and
abstractions than actual personalities. Such was the
case, for instance, with a female member of the company,
seated in a place of honour near the host, whose demure
garb and gentle countenance seemed to indicate her as a
Lady Pacifist, but denied all further identification.
The mild, ecclesiastical features of a second guest, so
entirely Christian in its expression as to be almost
devoid of expression altogether, marked him at once as
An Eminent Divine, but, while puzzlingly suggestive of
an actual and well-known person, seemed to elude exact
recognition. His accent, when he presently spoke, stamped
him as British and his garb was that of the Established
Church. Another guest appeared to answer to the general
designation of Capitalist or Philanthropist, and seemed
from his prehensile grasp upon his knife and fork to
typify the Money Power. In front of this guest, doubtless
with a view of indicating his extreme wealth and the
consideration in which he stood, was placed a floral
decoration representing a broken bank, with the figure
of a ruined depositor entwined among the debris.
Of these nameless guests, two individuals alone, from
the very significance of their appearance, from their
plain dress, unsuited to the occasion, and from the
puzzled expression of their faces, seemed out of harmony
with the galaxy of distinction which surrounded them.
They seemed to speak only to one another, and even that
somewhat after the fashion of an appreciative chorus to
what the rest of the company was saying; while the manner
in which they rubbed their hands together and hung upon
the words of the other speakers in humble expectancy
seemed to imply that they were present in the hope of
gathering rather than shedding light. To these two humble
and obsequious guests no attention whatever was paid,
though it was understood, by those who knew, that their
names were The General Public and the Man on the Street.
"A sad spectacle," said the Negro President, and he sighed
as he spoke. "One wonders if our civilisation, if our
moral standards themselves, are slipping from us." Then
half in reverie, or as if overcome by the melancholy of
his own thought, he lifted a spoon from the table and
slid it gently into the bosom of his faded uniform.
"Put back that spoon!" called The Lady Pacifist sharply.
"Pardon!" said the Negro President humbly, as he put it
back. The humiliation of generations of servitude was
in his voice.
"Come, come," exclaimed Mr. Jennings Bryan cheerfully,
"try a little more of the grape juice?"
"Does it intoxicate?" asked the President.
"Never," answered Mr. Bryan. "Rest assured of that. I
can guarantee it. The grape is picked in the dark. It is
then carried, still in the dark, to the testing room.
There every particle of alcohol is removed. Try it."
"Thank you," said the President. "I am no longer thirsty."
"Will anybody have some more of the grape juice?" asked
Mr. Bryan, running his eye along the ranks of the guests.
No one spoke.
"Will anybody have some more ground peanuts?"
No one moved.
"Or does anybody want any more of the shredded tan bark?
No? Or will somebody have another spoonful of sunflower
There was still no sign of assent.
"Very well, then," said Mr. Bryan, "the banquet, as such,
is over, and we now come to the more serious part of our
business. I need hardly tell you that we are here for
a serious purpose. We are here to do good. That I know
is enough to enlist the ardent sympathy of everybody
There was a murmur of assent.
"Personally," said The Lady Pacifist, "I do nothing else."
"Neither do I," said the guest who has been designated
The Philanthropist, "whether I am producing oil, or making
steel, or building motor-cars."
"Does he build motor-cars?" whispered the humble person
called The Man in the Street to his fellow, The General
"All great philanthropists do things like that," answered
his friend. "They do it as a social service so as to
benefit humanity; any money they make is just an accident.
They don't really care about it a bit. Listen to him.
He's going to say so."
"Indeed, our business itself," The Philanthropist continued,
while his face lighted up with unselfish enthusiasm, "our
"Hush, hush!" said Mr. Bryan gently. "We know--"
"Our business itself," persisted The Philanthropist, "is
one great piece of philanthropy."
Tears gathered in his eyes.
"Come, come," said Mr. Bryan firmly, "we must get to
business. Our friend here," he continued, turning to
the company at large and indicating the Negro President
on his right, "has come to us in great distress. His
beautiful island of Haiti is and has been for many years
overwhelmed in civil war. Now he learns that not only
Haiti, but also Europe is engulfed in conflict. He has
heard that we are making proposals for ending the war
--indeed, I may say are about to declare that the war in
Europe _must stop_--I think I am right, am I not, my
There was a general chorus of assent.
"Naturally then," continued Mr. Bryan, "our friend the
President of Haiti, who is overwhelmed with grief at what
has been happening in his island, has come to us for
help. That is correct, is it not?"
"That's it, gentlemen," said the Negro President, in a
voice of some emotion, wiping the sleeve of his faded
uniform across his eyes. "The situation is quite beyond
my control. In fact," he added, shaking his head
pathetically as he relapsed into more natural speech,
"dis hyah chile, gen'l'n, is clean done beat with it.
Dey ain't doin' nuffin' on the island but shootin',
burnin', and killin' somethin' awful. Lawd a massy! it's
just like a real civilised country, all right, now. Down
in our island we coloured people is feeling just as bad
as youse did when all them poor white folks was murdered
on the _Lusitania!_"
But the Negro President had no sooner used the words
"Murdered on the _Lusitania_," than a chorus of dissent
and disapproval broke out all down the table.
"My dear sir, my dear sir," protested Mr. Bryan, "pray
moderate your language a little, if you please. Murdered?
Oh, dear, dear me, how can we hope to advance the cause
of peace if you insist on using such terms?"
"Ain't it that? Wasn't it murder?" asked the President,
"We are all agreed here," said The Lady Pacifist, "that
it is far better to call it an incident. We speak of the
'_Lusitania_ Incident,'" she added didactically, "just
as one speaks of the _Arabic_ Incident, and the Cavell
Incident, and other episodes of the sort. It makes it so
much easier to forget."
"True, quite true," murmured The Eminent Divine, "and
then one must remember that there are always two sides
to everything. There are two sides to murder. We must
not let ourselves forget that there is always the murderer's
point of view to consider."
But by this time the Negro President was obviously confused
and out of his depth. The conversation had reached a
plane of civilisation which was beyond his reach.
The genial Mr. Bryan saw fit to come to his rescue.
"Never mind," said Mr. Bryan soothingly. "Our friends
here, will soon settle all your difficulties for you.
I'm going to ask them, one after the other, to advise
you. They will tell you the various means that they are
about to apply to stop the war in Europe, and you may
select any that you like for your use in Haiti. We charge
you nothing for it, except of course your fair share of
the price of this grape juice and the shredded nuts."
The President nodded.
"I am going to ask our friend on my right"--and here Mr.
Bryan indicated The Lady Pacifist--"to speak first."
There was a movement of general expectancy and the two
obsequious guests at the foot of the table, of whom
mention has been made, were seen to nudge one another
and whisper, "Isn't this splendid?"
"You are not asking me to speak first merely because I
am a woman?" asked The Lady Pacifist.
"Oh no," said Mr. Bryon, with charming tact.
"Very good," said the lady, adjusting her glasses. "As
for stopping the war, I warn you, as I have warned the
whole world, that it may be too late. They should have
called me in sooner. That was the mistake. If they had
sent for me at once and had put my picture in the papers
both in England and Germany, with the inscription 'The
True Woman of To-day,' I doubt if any of the men who
looked at it would have felt that it was worth while to
fight. But, as things are, the only advice I can give is
this. Everybody is wrong (except me). The Germans are a
very naughty people. But the Belgians are worse. It was
very, very wicked of the Germans to bombard the houses
of the Belgians. But how naughty of the Belgians to go
and sit in their houses while they were bombarded. It is
to that that I attribute--with my infallible sense of
justice--the dreadful loss of life. So you see the only
conclusion that I can reach is that everybody is very
naughty and that the only remedy would be to appoint me
a committee--me and a few others, though the others don't
really matter--to make a proper settlement. I hope I make
The Negro President shook his head and looked mystified.
"Us coloured folks," he said, "wouldn't quite understand
that. We done got the idea that sometimes there's such
a thing as a quarrel that is right and just." The
President's melancholy face lit up with animation and
his voice rose to the sonorous vibration of the negro
preacher. "We learn that out of the Bible, we coloured
folks--we learn to smite the ungodly--"
"Pray, pray," said Mr. Bryan soothingly, "don't introduce
religion, let me beg of you. That would be fatal. We
peacemakers are all agreed that there must be no question
of religion raised."
"Exactly so," murmured The Eminent Divine, "my own feelings
exactly. The name of--of--the Deity should never be
brought in. It inflames people. Only a few weeks ago I
was pained and grieved to the heart to hear a woman in
one of our London streets raving that the German Emperor
was a murderer. Her child had been killed that night by
a bomb from a Zeppelin; she had its body in a cloth hugged
to her breast as she talked--thank heaven, they keep
these things out of the newspapers--and she was calling
down God's vengeance on the Emperor. Most deplorable!
Poor creature, unable, I suppose, to realise the Emperor's
exalted situation, his splendid lineage, the wonderful
talent with which he can draw pictures of the apostles
with one hand while he writes an appeal to his Mohammedan
comrades with the other. I dined with him once," he added,
in modest afterthought.
"I dined with him, too," said Dr. Jordan. "I shall never
forget the impression he made. As he entered the room
accompanied by his staff, the Emperor looked straight at
me and said to one of his aides, 'Who is this?' 'This is
Dr. Jordan,' said the officer. The Emperor put out his
hand. 'So this is Dr. Jordan,' he said. I never witnessed
such an exhibition of brain power in my life. He had
seized my name in a moment and held it for three seconds
with all the tenaciousness of a Hohenzollern.
"But may I," continued the Director of the World's Peace,
"add a word to what has been said to make it still clearer
to our friend? I will try to make it as simple as one of
my lectures in Ichthyology. I know of nothing simpler
Everybody murmured assent. The Negro President put his
hand to his ear.
"Theology?" he said.
"Ichthyology," said Dr. Jordan. "It is better. But just
listen to this. War is waste. It destroys the tissues.
It is exhausting and fatiguing and may in extreme cases
lead to death."
The learned gentleman sat back in his seat and took a
refreshing drink of rain water from a glass beside him,
while a murmur of applause ran round the table. It was
known and recognised that the speaker had done more than
any living man to establish the fact that war is dangerous,
that gunpowder, if heated, explodes, that fire burns,
that fish swim, and other great truths without which the
work of the peace endowment would appear futile.
"And now," said Mr. Bryan, looking about him with the
air of a successful toastmaster, "I am going to ask our
friend here to give us his views."
Renewed applause bore witness to the popularity of The
Philanthropist, whom Mr. Bryan had indicated with a wave
of his hand.
The Philanthropist cleared his throat.
"In our business--" he began.
Mr. Bryan plucked him gently by the sleeve.
"Never mind your business just now," he whispered.
The Philanthropist bowed in assent and continued:
"I will come at once to the subject. My own feeling is
that the true way to end war is to try to spread abroad
in all directions goodwill and brotherly love."
"Hear, hear!" cried the assembled company.
"And the great way to inspire brotherly love all round
is to keep on getting richer and richer till you have so
much money that every one loves you. Money, gentlemen,
is a glorious thing."
At this point, Mr. Norman Angell, who had remained silent
hitherto, raised his head from his chest and murmured
"Money, money, there isn't anything but money. Money is
the only thing there is. Money and property, property
and money. If you destroy it, it is gone; if you smash