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Through the Eye of the Needle by W. D. Howells

Part 3 out of 4

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is different from the fog-horn of a light-house. The captain's wife was
bashful, in her odd American dress, but we had got seats near the
tribune, rather out of sight, and there was nothing to hinder our
hearing, like the _frou-frou_ of stiff silks or starched skirts (which
I am afraid we poor things in America like to make when we move) from the
soft, filmy tissues that the Altrurian women wear; but I must confess
that there was a good deal of whispering while the captain and the men
were telling their stories. But, no one except the interpreters, who were
taking their testimony down in short-hand, to be translated into
Altrurian and read at the subsequent hearing, could understand what they
were saying, and so nobody was disturbed by the murmurs. The whispering
was mostly near me, where I sat with the captain's wife, for everybody I
knew got as close as they could and studied my face when they thought
anything important or significant had been said. They are very quick at
reading faces here; in fact, a great deal of the conversation is carried
on in that way, or with the visible speech; and my Altrurian friends knew
almost as well as I did when the speakers came to an interesting point.
It was rather embarrassing for me, though, with the poor captain's wife
at my side, to tell them, in my broken Altrurian, what the men were
accusing the captain of.

I talk of the men, but it was really only one of them who at first, by
their common consent, spoke for the rest. He was a middle-aged Yankee,
and almost the only born American among them, for you know that our
sailors, nowadays, are of every nationality under the sun--Portuguese,
Norwegians, Greeks, Italians, Kanucks, and Kanakas, and even Cape Cod
Indians. He said he guessed his story was the story of most sailors, and
he had followed the sea his whole life. His story was dreadful, and I
tried to persuade the captain's wife not to come to the hearing the next
day, when it was to be read in Altrurian; but she would come. I was
afraid she would be overwhelmed by the public compassion, and would not
know what to do; for when something awful that the sailor had said
against the captain was translated the women, all about us cooed their
sympathy with her, and pressed her hand if they could, or patted her on
the shoulder, to show how much they pitied her. In Altruria they pity the
friends of those who have done wrong, and sometimes even the wrong-doers
themselves; and it is quite a luxury, for there is so little wrong-doing
here: I tell them that in America they would have as much pitying to do
as they could possibly ask. After the hearing that day my friends, who
were of a good many different Refectories, as we call them here, wanted
her to go and lunch with them; but I got her quietly home with me, and
after she had had something to eat I made her lie down awhile.

You won't care to have me go fully into the affair. The sailors'
spokesman told how he had been born on a farm, where he had shared the
family drudgery and poverty till he grew old enough to run away. He
meant to go to sea, but he went first to a factory town and worked three
or four years in the mills. He never went back to the farm, but he sent a
little money now and then to his mother; and he stayed on till he got
into trouble. He did not say just what kind of trouble, but I fancied it
was some sort of love-trouble; he blamed himself for it; and when he left
that town to get away from the thought of it, as much as anything, and
went to work in another town, he took to drink; then, once, in a drunken
spree, he found himself in New York without knowing how. But it was in
what he called a sailors' boarding-house, and one morning, after he had
been drinking overnight "with a very pleasant gentleman," he found
himself in the forecastle of a ship bound for Holland, and when the mate
came and cursed him up and cursed him out he found himself in the
foretop. I give it partly in his own language, because I cannot help it;
and I only wish I could give it wholly in his language; it was so graphic
and so full of queer Yankee humor. From that time on, he said, he had
followed the sea; and at sea he was always a good temperance man, but
Altruria was the only place he had ever kept sober ashore. He guessed
that was partly because there was nothing to drink but unfermented
grape-juice, and partly because there was nobody to drink with; anyhow,
he had not had a drop here. Everywhere else, as soon as he left his ship,
he made for a sailors' boarding-house, and then he did not know much till
he found himself aboard ship and bound for somewhere that he did not know
of. He was always, he said, a stolen man, as much as a negro captured on
the west coast of Africa and sold to a slaver; and, he said, it was a
slave's life he led between drinks, whether it was a long time or short.
He said he would ask his mates if it was very different with them, and
when he turned to them they all shouted back, in their various kinds of
foreign accents, No, it was just the same with them, every one. Then he
said that was how he came to ship on our captain's vessel, and though
they could not all say the same, they nodded confirmation as far as he
was concerned.

The captain looked sheepish enough at this, but he looked sorrowful, too,
as if he could have wished it had been different, and he asked the man if
he had been abused since he came on board. Well, the man said, not unless
you called tainted salt-horse and weevilly biscuit abuse; and then the
captain sat down again, and I could feel his poor wife shrinking beside
me. The man said that he was comparatively well off on the captain's
ship, and the life was not half such a dog's life as he had led on other
vessels; but it was such that when he got ashore here in Altruria, and
saw how _white_ people lived, people that _used_ each other white, he
made up his mind that he would never go hack to any ship alive. He hated
a ship so much that if he could go home to America as a first-class
passenger on a Cunard liner, John D. Rockefeller would not have money
enough to hire him to do it. He was going to stay in Altruria till he
died, if they would let him, and he guessed they would, if what he had
heard about them was true. He just wanted, he said, while we were about
it, to have a few of his mates tell their experience, not so much on
board the _Little Sally, but on shore, and since they could remember;
and one after another did get up and tell their miserable stories. They
were like the stories you sometimes read in your paper over your coffee,
or that you can hear any time you go into the congested districts in New
York; but I assure you, my dear, they seemed to me perfectly incredible
here, though I had known hundreds of such stories at home. As I realized
their facts I forgot where I was; I felt that I was back again in that
horror, where it sometimes seemed to me I had no right to be fed or
clothed or warm or clean in the midst of the hunger and cold and
nakedness and dirt, and where I could only reconcile myself to my comfort
because I knew my discomfort would not help others' misery.

I can hardly tell how, but even the first day a sense of something
terrible spread through that multitude of people, to whom the words
themselves were mere empty sounds. The captain sat through it, with his
head drooping, till his face was out of sight, and the tears ran silently
down his wife's cheeks; and the women round me were somehow awed into
silence. When the men ended, and there seemed to be no one else to say
anything on that side, the captain jumped to his feet, with a sort of
ferocious energy, and shouted out, "Are you all through, men?" and their
spokesman answered, "Ay, ay, sir!" and then the captain flung back his
grizzled hair and shook his fist towards the sailors. "And do you think I
_wanted_ to do it? Do you think I _liked_ to do it? Do you think that if
I hadn't been _afraid_ my whole life long I would have had the _heart_ to
lead you the dog's life I know I've led you? I've been as poor as the
poorest of you, and as low down as the lowest; I was born in the town
poor-house, and I've been so afraid of the poor-house all my days that I
hain't had, as you may say, a minute's peace. Ask my wife, there, what
sort of a man I _am_, and whether I'm the man, _really_ the man that's
been hard and mean to you the way I know I been. It was because I was
_afraid_, and because a coward is always hard and mean. I been afraid,
ever since I could remember anything, of coming to want, and I was
willing to see other men suffer so I could make sure that me and mine
shouldn't suffer. That's the way we do at home, ain't it? That's in the
day's work, ain't it? That's playing the game, ain't it, for everybody?
You can't say it ain't." He stopped, and the men's spokesman called back,
"Ay, ay, sir," as he had done before, and as I had often heard the men do
when given an order on the ship.

The captain gave a kind of sobbing laugh, and went on in a lower tone.
"Well, I know you ain't going back. I guess I didn't expect it much from
the start, and I guess I'm not surprised." Then he lifted his head and
shouted, "And do you suppose _I_ want to go back? Don't you suppose _I_
would like to spend the rest of my days, too, among _white_ people,
people that _use_ each other white, as you say, and where there ain't
any want or, what's worse, _fear_ of want? Men! There ain't a day, or an
hour, or a minute, when I don't think how awful it is over there, where I
got to be either some man's slave or some man's master, as much so as if
it was down in the ship's articles. My wife ain't so, because she ain't
been ashore here. I wouldn't let her; I was afraid to let her see what a
white man's country really was, because I felt so weak about it myself,
and I didn't want to put the trial on her, too. And do you know _why_
we're going back, or want to go? I guess some of you know, but I want to
tell these folks here so they'll understand, and I want you, Mr. Homos,"
he called to my husband, "to get it down straight. It's because we've got
two little children over there, that we left with their grandmother when
my wife come with me this voyage because she had lung difficulty and
wanted to see whether she could get her health back. Nothing else on
God's green earth could take me back to America, and I guess it couldn't
my wife if she knew what Altruria was as well as I do. But when I went
around here and saw how everything was, and remembered how it was at
home, I just said, 'She'll stay on the ship.' Now, that's all I got to
say, though I thought I had a lot more. I guess it'll be enough for these
folks, and they can judge between us." Then the captain sat down, and to
make a long story short, the facts of the hearing were repeated in
Altrurian the next day by megaphone, and when the translation was
finished there was a general rush for the captain. He plainly expected to
be lynched, and his wife screamed out, "Oh, don't hurt him! He isn't a
bad man!" But it was only the Altrurian way with a guilty person: they
wanted to let him know how sorry they were for him, and since his sin had
found him out how hopeful they were for his redemption. I had to explain
it to the sailors as well as to the captain and his wife, but I don't
believe any of them quite accepted the fact.

The third day of the hearing was for the rendering of the decision, first
in Altrurian, and then in English. The verdict of the magistrates had to
he confirmed by a standing vote of the people, and of course the women
voted as well as the men. The decision was that the sailors should be
absolutely free to go or stay, but they took into account the fact that
it would be cruel to keep the captain and his wife away from their little
ones, and the sailors might wish to consider this. If they still remained
true to their love of Altruria they could find some means of returning.

When the translator came to this point their spokesman jumped to his feet
and called out to the captain, "Will you _do_ it?" "Do what?" he asked,
getting slowly to his own feet. "Come back with us after you have seen
the kids?" The captain shook his fist at the sailors; it seemed to be the
only gesture he had with them. "Give me the _chance!_ All I want is to
see the children and bring them out with me to Altruria, and the old
folks with them." "Will you _swear_ it? Will you say, 'I hope I may find
the kids dead and buried when I get home if I don't do it'?" "I'll take
that oath, or any oath you want me to." "Shake hands on it, then."

The two men met in front of the tribunal and clasped hands there, and
their reconciliation did not need translation. Such a roar of cheers went
up! And then the whole assembly burst out in the national Altrurian
anthem, "Brothers All." I wish you could have heard it! But when the
terms of the agreement were explained, the cheering that had gone before
was a mere whisper to what followed. One orator after another rose and
praised the self-sacrifice of the sailors. I was the proudest when the
last of them referred to Aristides and the reports which he had sent home
from America, and said that without some such study as he had made of
the American character they never could have understood such an act as
they were now witnessing. Illogical and insensate as their system was,
their character sometimes had a beauty, a sublimity which was not
possible to Altrurians even, for it was performed in the face of risks
and chances which their happy conditions relieved them from. At the same
time, the orator wished his hearers to consider the essential immorality
of the act. He said that civilized men had no right to take these risks
and chances. The sailors were perhaps justified, in so far as they were
homeless, wifeless, and childless men; but it must not be forgotten that
their heroism was like the reckless generosity of savages.

The men have gone back to the ship, and she sails this afternoon. I have
persuaded the captain to let his wife stay to lunch with me at our
Refectory, where the ladies wish to bid her good-bye, and I am hurrying
forward this letter so that she can take it on board with her this
afternoon. She has promised to post it on the first Pacific steamer they
meet, or if they do not meet any to send it forward to you with a
special-delivery stamp as soon as they reach Boston. She will also
forward by express an Altrurian costume, such as I am now wearing,
sandals and all! Do put it on, Dolly, dear, for my sake, and realize what
it is for once in your life to be a _free_ woman.

Heaven knows when I shall have another chance of getting letters to you.
But I shall live in hopes, and I shall set down my experiences here for
your benefit, not perhaps as I meet them, but as I think of them, and
you must not mind having a rather cluttered narrative. To-morrow we are
setting off on our round of the capitals, where Aristides is to make a
sort of public report to the people of the different Regions on the
working of the capitalistic conditions as he observed them among us. But
I don't expect to send you a continuous narrative of our adventures.
Good-bye, dearest, with my mother's love, and my husband's as well as my
own, to both of you; think of me as needing nothing but a glimpse of you
to complete my happiness. How I should like to tell you fully about it!
You _must_ come to Altruria!

I came near letting this go without telling you of one curious incident
of the affair between the captain and his men. Before the men returned to
the ship they came with their spokesman to say good-bye to Aristides and
me, and he remarked casually that it was just as well, maybe, to be going
back, because, for one thing, they would know then whether it was real or
not. I asked him what he meant, and he said, "Well, you know, some of the
mates think it's a dream here, or it's too good to be true. As far forth
as I go, I'd be willing to have it a dream that I didn't ever have to
wake up from. It ain't any too good to be true for me. Anyway, I'm going
to get back somehow, and give it another chance to be a fact." Wasn't
that charming? It had a real touch of poetry in it, but it was prose that
followed. I couldn't help asking him whether there had been nothing to
mar the pleasure of their stay in Altruria, and he answered: "Well, I
don't know as you could rightly say _mar;_ it hadn't ought to have. You
see, it was like this. You see, some of the mates wanted to lay off and
have a regular bange, but that don't seem to be the idea here. After we
had been ashore a day or two they set us to work at different jobs, or
wanted to. The mates didn't take hold very lively, and some of 'em didn't
take hold a bit. But after that went on a couple of days, there wa'n't
any breakfast one morning, and come noontime there wa'n't any dinner, and
as far forth as they could make out they had to go to bed without supper.
Then they called a halt, and tackled one of your head men here that could
speak some English. He didn't answer them right off the reel, but he
got out his English Testament and he read 'em a verse that said, 'For
even when we were with you this we commanded you, that if any one would
not work neither should he eat.' That kind of fetched 'em, and after
that there wa'n't any sojerin', well not to speak of. They saw he meant
business. I guess it did more than any one thing to make 'em think they
wa'n't dreamin'."


You must not think, Dolly, from anything I have been telling you that the
Altrurians are ever harsh. Sometimes they cannot realize how things
really are with us, and how what seems grotesque and hideous to them
seems charming and beautiful, or at least _chic_, to us. But they are
wonderfully quick to see when they have hurt you the least, and in the
little sacrifices I have made of my wardrobe to the cause of general
knowledge there has not been the least urgence from them. When I now look
at the things I used to wear, where they have been finally placed in the
ethnological department of the Museum, along with the Esquiman kyaks
and the Thlinkeet totems, they seem like things I wore in some
prehistoric age--

"When wild in woods the noble savage ran."

Now, am I being unkind? Well, you mustn't mind me, Dolly. You must just
say, "She _has_ got it bad," and go on and learn as much about Altruria
as you can from me. Some of the things were hard to get used to, and at
first seemed quite impossible. For one thing, there was the matter of
service, which is dishonorable with us, and honorable with the
Altrurians: I was a long time getting to understand that, though I knew
it perfectly well from hearing my husband talk about it in New York. I
believe he once came pretty near offending you by asking why you did not
do your own work, or something like that; he has confessed as much, and I
could not wonder at you in your conditions. Why, when we first went to
the guest-house, and the pretty young girls who brought in lunch sat down
at table to eat it with us, I felt the indignation making me hot all
over. You know how democratic I am, and I did not mind those great,
splendid boat-girls hugging and kissing me, but I instinctively drew the
line at cooks and waitresses. In New York, you know, I always tried to be
kind to my servants, but as for letting one of them sit down in my
presence, much less sit down at table with me, I never dreamed of such a
thing in my most democratic moments. Luckily I drew the line subjectively
here, and later I found that these young ladies were daughters of some of
the most distinguished men and women on the continent, though you must
not understand distinction as giving any sort of social primacy; that
sort of thing is not allowed in Altruria. They had drawn lots with the
girls in the Regionic school here, and were proud of having won the honor
of waiting on us. Of course, I needn't say they were what we would have
felt to be ladies anywhere, and their manners were exquisite, even to
leaving us alone together as soon as we had finished luncheon. The meal
itself was something I shall always remember for its delicious cooking of
the different kinds of mushrooms which took the place of meat, and the
wonderful salads, and the temperate and tropical fruits which we had for

They had to talk mostly with my husband, of course, and when they did
talk to me it was through him. They were very intelligent about our
world, much more than we are about Altruria, though, of course, it was by
deduction from premises rather than specific information, and they wanted
to ask a thousand questions; but they saw the joke of it, and laughed
with us when Aristides put them off with a promise that if they would
have a public meeting appointed we would appear and answer all the
questions anybody could think of; we were not going to waste our answers
on them the first day. He wanted them to let us go out and help wash the
dishes, but they would not hear of it. I confess I was rather glad of
that, for it seemed a lower depth to which I could not descend, even
after eating with them. But they invited us out to look at the kitchen,
after they had got it in order a little, and when we joined them there,
whom should I see but my own dear old mother, with an apron up to her
chin, wiping the glass and watching carefully through her dear old
spectacles that she got everything bright! You know she was of a simpler
day than ours, and when she was young she used to do her own work, and
she and my father always washed the dishes together after they had
company. I merely said, "_Well_, mother!" and she laughed and colored,
and said she guessed she should like it in Altruria, for it took her back
to the America she used to know.

I must mention things as they come into my head, and not in any
regular order; there are too many of them. One thing is that I did
not notice till afterwards that we had had no meat that first day at
luncheon--the mushrooms were so delicious, and you know I never was much
of a meat-eater. It was not till we began to make our present tour of the
Regionic capitals, where Aristides has had to repeat his account of
American civilization until I am sick as well as ashamed of America, that
I first felt a kind of famine which I kept myself from recognizing as
long as I could. Then I had to own to myself, long before I owned it to
him, that I was hungry for _meat_--for roast, for broiled, for fried, for
hashed. I did not actually tell him, but he found it out, and I could not
deny it, though I felt such an ogre in it. He was terribly grieved, and
blamed himself for not having thought of it, and wished he had got some
canned meats from the trader before she left the port. He was really in
despair, for nobody since the old capitalistic times had thought of
killing sheep or cattle for food; they have them for wool and milk and
butter; and of course when I looked at them in the fields it did seem
rather formidable. You are so used to seeing them in the butchers' shops,
ready for the range, that you never think of what they have to _go
through_ before that. But at last I managed to gasp out, one day, "If I
could only have a chicken!" and he seemed to think that it could be
managed. I don't know how he made interest with the authorities, or how
the authorities prevailed on a farmer to part with one of his precious
pullets; but the thing was done somehow, and two of the farmer's children
brought it to us at one of the guest-houses where we were staying, and
then fled howling. That was bad enough, but what followed was worse. I
went another day on mushrooms before I had the heart to say chicken again
and suggest that Aristides should get it killed and dressed. The poor
fellow did try, I believe, but we had to fall back upon ourselves for the
murderous deed, and--Did you ever see a chicken have its head cut off,
and how hideously it behaves? It made us both wish we were dead; and the
sacrifice of that one pullet was quite enough for me. We buried the poor
thing under the flowers of the guest-house garden, and I went back to
my mushrooms after a visit of contrition to the farmer and many attempts
to bring his children to forgiveness. After all, the Altrurian mushrooms
are wonderfully nourishing, and they are in such variety that, what with
other succulent vegetables and the endless range of fruits and nuts, one
does not wish for meat--meat that one has killed one's self!


I wish you could be making tour of the Regionic capitals with us, Dolly!
There are swift little one-rail electric expresses running daily from one
capital to another, but these are used only when speed is required, and
we are confessedly in no hurry: Aristides wanted me to see as much of the
country as possible, and I am as eager as he. The old steam-roads of the
capitalistic epoch have been disused for generations, and their beds are
now the country roads, which are everywhere kept in beautiful repair.
There are no horse vehicles (the electric motors are employed in the
towns), though some people travel on horseback, but the favorite means of
conveyance is by electric van, which any citizen may have on proof of his
need of it; and it is comfortable beyond compare--mounted on easy
springs, and curtained and cushioned like those gypsy vans we see in the
country at home. Aristides drives himself, and sometimes we both get out
and walk, for there is plenty of time.

I don't know whether I can make you understand how everything has tended
to simplification here. They have disused the complicated facilities and
conveniences of the capitalistic epoch, which we are so proud of, and
have got back as close as possible to nature. People stay at home a great
deal more than with us, though if any one likes to make a journey or to
visit the capitals he is quite free to do it, and those who have some
useful or beautiful object in view make the sacrifice, as they feel it,
to leave their villages every day and go to the nearest capital to carry
on their studies or experiments. What we consider modern conveniences
they would consider a superfluity of naughtiness for the most part. As
_work_ is the ideal, they do not believe in what we call labor-saving

When we approach a village on our journey, one of the villagers,
sometimes a young man, and sometimes a girl, comes out to meet us, and
when we pass through they send some one with us on the way a little. The
people have a perfect inspiration for hospitality: they not only know
when to do and how much to do, but how little and when not at all. I
can't remember that we have ever once been bored by those nice young
things that welcomed us or speeded us on our way, and when we have
stopped in a village they have shown a genius for leaving us alone, after
the first welcome, that is beautiful. They are so regardful of our
privacy, in fact, that if it had not been for Aristides, who explained
their ideal to me, I should have felt neglected sometimes, and should
have been shy of letting them know that we would like their company. But
he understood it, and I must say that I have never enjoyed people and
their ways so much. Their hospitality is a sort of compromise between
that of the English houses where you are left free at certain houses to
follow your own devices absolutely, and that Spanish splendor which
assures you that the host's house is yours without meaning it. In fact,
the guest-house, wherever we go, _is_ ours, for it belongs to the
community, and it is absolutely a home to us for the time being. It is
usually the best house in the village, the prettiest and cosiest, where
all the houses are so pretty and cosey. There is always another building
for public meetings, called the temple, which is the principal edifice,
marble and classic and tasteful, which we see almost as much of as the
guest-house, for the news of the Emissary's return has preceded him, and
everybody is alive with curiosity, and he has to stand and deliver in the
village temples everywhere. Of course I am the great attraction, and
after being scared by it at first I have rather got to like it; the
people are so kind, and unaffected, and really delicate.

You mustn't get the notion that the Altrurians are a solemn people at
all; they are rather gay, and they like other people's jokes as well as
their own; I am sure Mr. Makely, with his sense of humor, would be at
home with them at once. The one thing that more than any other has helped
them to conceive of the American situation is its being the gigantic joke
which we often feel it to be; I don't know but it appears to them more
grotesque than it does to us even. At first, when Aristides would explain
some peculiarity of ours, they would receive him with a gale of laughing,
but this might change into cries of horror and pity later. One of the
things that amused and then revolted them most was our patriotism. They
thought it the drollest thing in the world that men should be willing to
give their own lives and take the lives of other men for the sake of a
country which assured them no safety from want, and did not even assure
them work, and in which they had no more logical interest than the
country they were going to fight. They could understand how a rich man
might volunteer for one of our wars, but when they were told that most of
our volunteers were poor men, who left their mothers and sisters, or
their wives and children, without any means of support, except their
meagre pay, they were quite bewildered and stopped laughing, as if the
thing had passed a joke. They asked, "How if one of these citizen
soldiers was killed?" and they seemed to suppose that in this case the
country would provide for his family and give them work, or if the
children were too young would support them at the public expense. It
made me creep a little when my husband answered that the family of a
crippled or invalided soldier would have a pension of eight or ten or
fifteen dollars a month; and when they came back with the question why
the citizens of such a country should love it enough to die for it, I
could not have said why for the life of me. But Aristides, who is so
magnificently generous, tried to give them a notion of the sublimity
which is at the bottom of our illogicality and which adjusts so many
apparently hopeless points of our anomaly. They asked how this sublimity
differed from that of the savage who brings in his game and makes a feast
for the whole tribe, and leaves his wife and children without provision
against future want; but Aristides told them that there were essential
differences between the Americans and savages, which arose from the fact
that the savage condition was permanent and the American conditions were
unconsciously provisional.

They are quite well informed about our life in some respects, but they
wished to hear at first hand whether certain things were really so or
not. For instance, they wanted to know whether people were allowed to
marry and bring children into the world if they had no hopes of
supporting them or educating them, or whether diseased people were
allowed to become parents. In Altruria, you know, the families are
generally small, only two or three children at the most, so that the
parents can devote themselves to them the more fully; and as there is no
fear of want here, the state interferes only when the parents are
manifestly unfit to bring the little ones up. They imagined that there
was something of that kind with us, but when they heard that the state
interfered in the family only when the children were unruly, and then it
punished the children by sending them to a reform school and disgracing
them for life, instead of holding the parents accountable, they seemed
to think that it was one of the most anomalous features of our great
anomaly. Here, when the father and mother are always quarrelling, the
children are taken from them, and the pair are separated, at first for a
time, but after several chances for reform they are parted permanently.

But I must not give you the notion that all our conferences are so
serious. Many have merely the character of social entertainments, which
are not made here for invited guests, but for any who choose to come;
all are welcome. At these there are often plays given by amateurs, and
improvised from plots which supply the outline, while the performers
supply the dialogue and action, as in the old Italian comedies. The
Altrurians are so quick and fine, in fact, that they often remind me of
the Italians more than any other people. One night there was for my
benefit an American play, as the Altrurians imagined it from what they
had read about us, and they had costumed it from the pictures of us they
had seen in the newspapers Aristides had sent home while he was with us.
The effect was a good deal like that American play which the Japanese
company of Sada Yacco gave while it was in New York. It was all about a
millionaire's daughter, who was loved by a poor young man and escaped
with him to Altruria in an open boat from New York. The millionaire could
be distinctly recognized by the dollar-marks which covered him all over,
as they do in the caricatures of rich men in our yellow journals. It was
funny to the last degree. In the last act he was seen giving his millions
away to poor people, whose multitude was represented by the continually
coming and going of four or five performers in and out of the door, in
outrageously ragged clothes. The Altrurians have not yet imagined the
nice degrees of poverty which we have achieved, and they could not have
understood that a man with a hundred thousand dollars would have seemed
poor to that multi-millionaire. In fact, they do not grasp the idea of
money at all. I heard afterwards that in the usual version the
millionaire commits suicide in despair, but the piece had been given a
happy ending out of kindness to me. I must say that in spite of the
monstrous misconception the acting was extremely good, especially that of
some comic characters.

But dancing is the great national amusement in Altruria, where it has not
altogether lost its religious nature. A sort of march in the temples is
as much a part of the worship as singing, and so dancing has been
preserved from the disgrace which it used to be in with serious people
among us. In the lovely afternoons you see young people dancing in the
meadows, and hear them shouting in time to the music, while the older men
and women watch them from their seats in the shade. Every sort of
pleasure here is improvised, and as you pass through a village the first
thing you know the young girls and young men start up in a sort of
_girandole_, and linking hands in an endless chain stretch the figure
along through the street and out over the highway to the next village,
and the next and the next. The work has all been done in the forenoon,
and every one who chooses is at liberty to join in the fun.

The villages are a good deal alike to a stranger, and we knew what to
expect there after a while, but the country is perpetually varied, and
the unexpected is always happening in it. The old railroad-beds, on
which we travelled, are planted with fruit and nut trees and flowering
shrubs, and our progress is through a fragrant bower that is practically
endless, except where it takes the shape of a colonnade near the entrance
of a village, with vines trained about white pillars, and clusters of
grapes (which are ripening just now) hanging down. The change in the
climate created by cutting off the southeastern peninsula and letting in
the equatorial current, which was begun under the first Altrurian
president, with an unexpended war-appropriation, and finished for what
one of the old capitalistic wars used to cost, is something perfectly
astonishing. Aristides says he told you something about it in his speech
at the White Mountains, but you would never believe it without the
evidence of your senses. Whole regions to the southward, which were
nearest the pole and were sheeted with ice and snow, with the temperature
and vegetation of Labrador, now have the climate of Italy; and the
mountains, which used to bear nothing but glaciers, are covered with
olive orchards and plantations of the delicious coffee which they drink
here. Aristides says you could have the same results at home--no! _in the
United States_--by cutting off the western shore of Alaska and letting in
the Japanese current; and it could be done at the cost of any average


But I must not get away from my personal experiences in these
international statistics. Sometimes, when night overtakes us, we stop
and camp beside the road, and set about getting our supper of eggs and
bread and butter and cheese, or the fruits that are ripening all round
us. Since my experience with that pullet I go meekly mushrooming in
the fields and pastures; and when I have set the mushrooms stewing over
an open fire, Aristides makes the coffee, and in a little while we
have a banquet fit for kings--or for the poor things in every grade below
them that serve kings, political or financial or industrial. There is
always water, for it is brought down from the snow-fields of the
mountains--there is not much rainfall--and carried in little concrete
channels along the road--side from village to village, something like
those conduits the Italian peasants use to bring down the water from the
Maritime Alps to their fields and orchards; and you hear the soft gurgle
of it the whole night long, and day long, too, whenever you stop. After
supper we can read awhile by our electric lamp (we tap the current in the
telephone wires anywhere), or Aristides sacrifices himself to me in a
lesson of Altrurian grammar. Then we creep back into our van and fall
asleep with the Southern Cross glittering over our heads. It is perfectly
safe, though it was a long time before I could imagine the perfect safety
of it. In a country where there are no thieves, because a thief here
would not know what to do with his booty, we are secure from human
molestation, and the land has long been cleared of all sorts of wild
beasts, without being unpleasantly tamed. It is like England in that, and
yet it has a touch of the sylvan, which you feel nowhere as you do in our
dear New England hill country. There was one night, however, when we were
lured on and on, and did not stop to camp till fairly in the dusk. Then
we went to sleep without supper, for we had had rather a late lunch and
were not hungry, and about one o'clock in the morning I was awakened by
voices speaking Altrurian together. I recognized my husband's voice,
which is always so kind, but which seemed to have a peculiarly tender and
compassionate note in it now. The other was lower and of a sadness which
wrung my heart, though I did not know in the least what the person was
saying. The talk went on a long time, at first about some matter of
immediate interest, as I fancied, and then apparently it branched off
on some topic which seemed to concern the stranger, whoever he was. Then
it seemed to get more indistinct, as if the stranger were leaving us and
Aristides were going a little way with him. Presently I heard him coming
back, and he put his head in at the van curtains, as if to see whether I
was asleep.

"Well?" I said, and he said how sorry he was for having waked me. "Oh, I
don't mind," I said. "Whom were you talking with? He had the saddest
voice I ever heard. What did he want?"

"Oh, it seems that we are not far from the ruins of one of the old
capitalistic cities, which have been left for a sort of warning against
the former conditions, and he wished to caution us against the malarial
influences from it. I think perhaps we had better push on a little way,
if you don't mind."

The moon was shining clearly, and of course I did not mind, and Aristides
got his hand on the lever, and we were soon getting out of the dangerous
zone. "I think," he said, "they ought to abolish that pest-hole. I doubt
if it serves any good purpose, now, though it has been useful in times
past as an object-lesson."

"But who was your unknown friend?" I asked, a great deal more curious
about him than about the capitalistic ruin.

"Oh, just a poor murderer," he answered easily, and I shuddered back:
"A murderer!"

"Yes. He killed his friend some fifteen years ago in a jealous rage, and
he is pursued by remorse that gives him no peace."

"And is the remorse his only punishment?" I asked, rather indignantly.

"Isn't that enough? God seemed to think it was, in the case of the first
murderer, who killed his brother. All that he did to Cain was to set a
mark on him. But we have not felt sure that we have the right to do this.
We let God mark him, and He has done it with this man in the sorrow of
his face. I was rather glad you, couldn't see him, my dear. It is an
awful face."

I confess that this sounded like mere sentimentalism to me, and I said,
"Really, Aristides, I can't follow you. How are innocent people to be
protected against this wretch, if he wanders about among them at will?"

"They are as safe from him as from any other man in Altruria. His case
was carefully looked into by the medical authorities, and it was decided
that he was perfectly sane, so that he could be safely left at large, to
expiate his misdeed in the only possible way that such a misdeed can be
expiated--by doing good to others. What would you have had us do with

The question rather staggered me, but I said, "He ought to have been
imprisoned at least a year for manslaughter."

"Cain was not imprisoned an hour."

"That was a very different thing. But suppose you let a man go at large
who has killed his friend in a jealous rage, what do you do with other

"In Altruria there can be no other murderers. People cannot kill here for
money, which prompts every other kind of murder in capitalistic
countries, as well as every other kind of crime. I know, my dear, that
this seems very strange to you, but you will accustom yourself to the
idea, and then you will see the reasonableness of the Altrurian plan. On
the whole, I am sorry you could not have seen that hapless man, and
heard him. He had a face like death--"

"And a voice like death, too!" I put in.

"You noticed that? He wanted to talk about his crime with me. He wants to
talk about it with any one who will listen to him. He is consumed with an
undying pity for the man he slew. That is the first thing, the only
thing, in his mind. If he could, I believe he would give his life for the
life he took at any moment. But you cannot recreate one life by
destroying another. There is no human means of ascertaining justice, but
we can always do mercy with divine omniscience." As he spoke the sun
pierced the edge of the eastern horizon, and lit up the marble walls and
roofs of the Regionic capital which we were approaching.

At the meeting we had there in the afternoon, Aristides reported our
having been warned against our danger in the night by that murderer, and
public record of the fact was made. The Altrurians consider any sort of
punishment which is not expiation a far greater sin than the wrong it
visits, and altogether barren and useless. After the record in this case
had been made, the conference naturally turned upon what Aristides had
seen of the treatment of criminals in America, and when, he told of our
prisons, where people merely arrested and not yet openly accused are
kept, I did not know which way to look, for you know I am still an
American at heart, Dolly. Did you ever see the inside of one of our
police-stations at night? Or smell it? I did, once, when I went to give
bail for a wretched girl who had been my servant, and had gone wrong, but
had been arrested for theft, and I assure you that the sight and the
smell woke me in the night for a month afterwards, and I have never quite
ceased to dream about it.

The Altrurians listened in silence, and I hoped they could not realize
the facts, though the story was every word true; but what seemed to make
them the most indignant was the treatment of the families of the
prisoners in what we call our penitentiaries and reformatories. At first
they did not conceive of it, apparently, because it was so stupidly
barbarous; they have no patience with stupidity; and when Aristides had
carefully explained, it seemed as if they could not believe it. They
thought it right that the convicts should be made to work, but they could
not understand that the state really took away their wages, and left
their families to suffer for want of the support which it had deprived
them of. They said this was punishing the mothers and sisters, the wives
and children of the prisoners, and was like putting out the eyes of an
offender's innocent relatives as they had read was done in Oriental
countries. They asked if there was never any sort of protest against such
an atrocious perversion of justice, and when the question was put to me
I was obliged to own that I had never heard the system even criticised.
Perhaps it has been, but I spoke only from my own knowledge.


Well, to get away from these dismal experiences, and come back to our
travels, with their perpetual novelty, and the constantly varying beauty
of the country!

The human interest of the landscape, that is always the great interest of
it, and I wish I could make you feel it as I have felt it in this
wonderful journey of ours. It is like the New England landscape at times,
in its kind of gentle wildness, but where it has been taken back into the
hand of man, how different the human interest is! Instead of a rheumatic
old farmer, in his clumsy clothes, with some of his gaunt girls to help
him, or perhaps his ageing wife, getting in the hay of one of those sweet
meadows, and looking like so many animated scarecrows at their work; or
instead of some young farmer, on the seat of his clattering mower, or
mounted high over his tedder, but as much alone as if there were no one
else in the neighborhood, silent and dull, or fierce or sullen, as the
case might be, the work is always going on with companies of mowers or
reapers, or planters, that chatter like birds or sing like them.

It is no use my explaining again and again that in a country like this,
where everybody works, nobody over works, and that when the few hours of
obligatory labor are passed in the mornings, people need not do anything
unless they choose. Their working-dresses are very simple, but in all
sorts of gay colors, like those you saw in the Greek play at Harvard,
with straw hats for the men, and fillets of ribbon for the girls, and
sandals for both. I speak of girls, for most of the married women are at
home gardening, or about the household work, but men of every age work in
the fields. The earth is dear to them because they get their life from it
by labor that is not slavery; they come to love it every acre, every
foot, because they have known it from childhood; and I have seen old men,
very old, pottering about the orchards and meadows during the hours of
voluntary work, and trimming them up here and there, simply because they
could not keep away from the place, or keep their hands off the trees and
bushes. Sometimes in the long, tender afternoons, we see far up on some
pasture slope, groups of girls scattered about on the grass, with their
sewing, or listening to some one reading. Other times they are giving a
little play, usually a comedy, for life is so happy here that tragedy
would not be true to it, with the characters coming and going in a grove
of small pines, for the _coulisses_, and using a level of grass for the
stage. If we stop, one of the audience comes down to us and invites us to
come up and see the play, which keeps on in spite of the sensation that I
can feel I make among them.

Everywhere the news of us has gone before us, and there is a universal
curiosity to get a look at Aristides' capitalistic wife, as they call me.
I made him translate it, and he explained that the word was merely
descriptive and not characteristic; some people distinguished and called
me American. There was one place where they were having a picnic in the
woods up a hillside, and they asked us to join them, so we turned our
van into the roadside and followed the procession. It was headed by two
old men playing on pipes, and after these came children singing, and then
all sorts of people, young and old. When we got to an open place in the
woods, where there was a spring, and smooth grass, they built fires, and
began to get ready for the feast, while some of them did things to amuse
the rest. Every one could do something; if you can imagine a party of
artists, it was something like that. I should say the Altrurians had
artists' manners, free, friendly, and easy, with a dash of humor in
everything, and a wonderful willingness to laugh and make laugh.
Aristides is always explaining that the artist is their ideal type; that
is, some one who works gladly, and plays as gladly as he works; no one
here is asked to do work that he hates, unless he seems to hate every
kind of work. When this happens, the authorities find out something for
him that he had _better_ like, by letting him starve till he works. That
picnic lasted the whole afternoon and well into the night, and then the
picnickers went home through the starlight, leading the little ones, or
carrying them when they were too little or too tired. But first they came
down to our van with us, and sang us a serenade after we had disappeared
into it, and then left us, and sent their voices back to us out of the

One morning at dawn, as we came into a village, we saw nearly the whole
population mounting the marble steps of the temple, all the holiday dress
of the Voluntaries, which they put on here every afternoon when the work
is done. Last of the throng came a procession of children, looking
something like a May-Day party, and midway of their line were a young man
and a young girl, hand in hand, who parted at the door of the temple, and
entered separately. Aristides called out, "Oh, it is a wedding! You are
in luck, Eveleth," and then and there I saw my first Altrurian wedding.

Within, the pillars and the altar and the seats of the elders were
garlanded with flowers, so fresh and fragrant that they seemed to have
blossomed from the marble overnight, and there was a soft murmur of
Altrurian voices that might very well have seemed the hum of bees among
the blossoms. This subsided, as the young couple, who had paused just
inside the temple door, came up the middle side by side, and again
separated and took their places, the youth on the extreme right of the
elder, and the maiden on the extreme left of the eldresses, and stood
facing the congregation, which was also on foot, and joined in the hymn
which everybody sang. Then one of the eldresses rose and began a sort of
statement which Aristides translated to me afterwards. She said that the
young couple whom we saw there had for the third time asked to become man
and wife, after having believed for a year that they loved each other,
and having statedly come before the marriage authorities and been
questioned as to the continuance of their affection. She said that
probably every one present knew that they had been friends from
childhood, and none would be surprised that they now wished to be united
for life. They had been carefully instructed as to the serious nature of
the marriage bond, and admonished as to the duties they were entering
into, not only to each other, but to the community. At each successive
visit to the authorities they had been warned, separately and together,
against the danger of trusting to anything like a romantic impulse, and
they had faithfully endeavored to act upon this advice, as they
testified. In order to prove the reality of their affection, they had
been parted every third month, and had lived during that time in
different Regions where it was meant they should meet many other young
people, so that if they felt any swerving of the heart they might not
persist in an intention which could only bring them final unhappiness. It
seems this is the rule in the case of young lovers, and people usually
marry very young here, but if they wish to marry later in life the rule
is not enforced so stringently, or not at all. The bride and groom we saw
had both stood these trials, and at each return they had been more and
more sure that they loved each other, and loved no one else. Now they
were here to unite their hands, and to declare the union of their hearts
before the people.

Then the eldress sat down and an elder arose, who bade the young people
come forward to the centre of the line, where the elders and eldresses
were sitting. He took his place behind them, and once more and for the
last time he conjured them not to persist if they felt any doubt of
themselves. He warned them that if they entered into the married state,
and afterwards repented to the point of seeking divorce, the divorce
would indeed be granted them, but on terms, as they must realize, of
lasting grief to themselves through the offence they would commit against
the commonwealth. They answered that they were sure of themselves, and
ready to exchange their troth for life and death. Then they joined hands,
and declared that they took each other for husband and wife. The
congregation broke into another hymn and slowly dispersed, leaving the
bride and groom with their families, who came up to them and embraced
them, pressing their cheeks against the cheeks of the young pair.

This ended the solemnity, and then the festivity began, as it ended, with
a wedding feast, where people sang and danced and made speeches and drank
toasts, and the fun was kept up till the hours of the Obligatories
approached; and then, what do you think? The married pair put off their
wedding garments with the rest and went to work in the fields! Later,
I understood, if they wished to take a wedding journey they could freely
do so; but the first thing in their married life they must honor the
Altrurian ideal of work, by which every one must live in order that
every other may live without overwork. I believe that the marriage
ceremonial is something like that of the Quakers, but I never saw a
Quaker wedding, and I could only compare this with the crazy romps with
which our house-weddings often end, with throwing of rice and old shoes,
and tying ribbons to the bridal carriage and baggage, and following the
pair to the train with outbreaks of tiresome hilarity, which make them
conspicuous before their fellow-travellers; or with some of our ghastly
church weddings, in which the religious ceremonial is lost in the social
effect, and ends with that everlasting thumping march from "Lohengrin,"
and the outsiders storming about the bridal pair and the guests with the
rude curiosity that the fattest policemen at the canopied and carpeted
entrance cannot check.


We have since been at other weddings and at christenings and at funerals.
The ceremonies are always held in the temples, and are always in the same
serious spirit. As the Altrurians are steadfast believers in immortality,
there is a kind of solemn elevation in the funeral ceremonies which I
cannot give you a real notion of. It is helped, I think, by the custom of
not performing the ceremony over the dead; a brief rite is reserved for
the cemetery, where it is wished that the kindred shall not be present,
lest they think always of the material body and not of the spiritual body
which shall be raised in incorruption. Religious service is held in the
temples every day at the end of the Obligatories, and whenever we are
near a village or in any of the capitals we always go. It is very simple.
After a hymn, to which the people sometimes march round the interior of
the temple, each lays on the altar an offering from the fields or woods
where they have been working, if it is nothing but a head of grain or a
wild flower or a leaf. Then any one is at liberty to speak, but any one
else may go out without offence. There is no ritual; sometimes they read
a chapter from the New Testament, preferably a part of the story of
Christ or a passage from His discourses. The idea of coming to the temple
at the end of the day's labor is to consecrate that day's work, and they
do not call anything work that is not work with the hands. When I
explained, or tried to explain, that among us a great many people worked
with their brains, to amuse others or to get handwork out of them, they
were unable to follow me. I asked if they did not consider composing
music or poetry or plays, or painting pictures work, and they said, No,
that was pleasure, and must be indulged only during the Voluntaries; it
was never to be honored like work with the hands, for it would not
equalize the burden of that, but might put an undue share of it on
others. They said that lives devoted to such pursuits must be very
unwholesome, and they brought me to book about the lives of most artists,
literary men, and financiers in the capitalistic world to prove what they
said. They held that people must work with their hands willingly, in the
artistic spirit, but they could only do that when they knew that others
differently gifted were working in like manner with their hands.

I couldn't begin to tell you all our queer experiences. As I have kept
saying, I am a great curiosity everywhere, and I could flatter myself
that people were more eager to see me than to hear Aristides. Sometimes I
couldn't help thinking that they expected to find me an awful warning, a
dreadful example of whatever a woman ought not to be, and a woman from
capitalistic conditions must be logically. But sometimes they were very
intelligent, even the simplest villagers, as we should call them, though
there is such an equality of education and opportunity here that no
simplicity of life has the effect of dulling people as it has with us.
One thing was quite American: they always wanted to know how I liked
Altruria, and when I told them, as I sincerely could, that I adored it,
they were quite affecting in their pleasure. They generally asked if I
would like to go back to America, and when I said No, they were delighted
beyond anything. They said I must become a citizen and vote and take part
in the government, for that was every woman's duty as well as right; it
was wrong to leave the whole responsibility to the men. They asked if
American women took no interest in the government, and when I told them
there was a very small number who wished to influence politics socially,
as the Englishwomen did, but without voting or taking any responsibility,
they were shocked. In one of the Regionic capitals they wanted me to
speak after Aristides, but I had nothing prepared; at the next I did get
off a little speech in English, which he translated after me. Later he
put it into Altrurian, and I memorized it, and made myself immensely
popular by parroting it.

The pronunciation of Altrurian is not difficult, for it is spelled
phonetically, and the sounds are very simple. Where they were once
difficult they have been simplified, for here the simplification of life
extends to everything; and the grammar has been reduced in its structure
till it is as elemental as English grammar or Norwegian. The language is
Greek in origin, but the intricate inflections and the declensions have
been thrown away, and it has kept only the simplest forms. You must get
Mr. Twelvemough to explain this to you, Dolly, for it would take me too
long, and I have so much else to tell you. A good many of the women have
taken up English, but they learn it as a dead language, and they give it
a comical effect by trying to pronounce it as it is spelled.

I suppose you are anxious, if these letters which are piling up and
piling up should ever reach you, or even start to do so, to know
something about the Altrurian cities, and what they are like. Well, in
the first place, you must cast all images of American cities out of your
mind, or any European cities, except, perhaps, the prettiest and
stateliest parts of Paris, where there is a regular sky-line, and the
public buildings and monuments are approached through shaded avenues.
There are no private houses here, in our sense--that is, houses which
people have built with their own money on their own land, and made as
ugly outside and as molestive to their neighbors and the passers-by as
they chose. As the buildings belong to the whole people, the first
requirement is that they shall be beautiful inside and out. There are a
few grand edifices looking like Greek temples, which are used for the
government offices, and these are, of course, the most dignified, but the
dwellings are quite as attractive and comfortable. They are built round
courts, with gardens and flowers in the courts, and wide grassy spaces
round them. They are rather tall, but never so tall as our great hotels
or apartment-houses, and the floors are brought to one level by
elevators, which are used only in the capitals; and, generally speaking,
I should say the villages were pleasanter than the cities. In fact, the
village is the Altrurian ideal, and there is an effort everywhere to
reduce the size of the towns and increase the number of the villages.
The outlying farms have been gathered into these, and now there is not
one of those lonely places in the country, like those where our farmers
toil alone outdoors and their wives alone indoors, and both go mad
so often in the solitude. The villages are almost in sight of each other,
and the people go to their fields in company, while the women carry on
their house-keeping co-operatively, with a large kitchen which they
use in common; they have their meals apart or together, as they like. If
any one is sick or disabled the neighbors come in and help do her work,
as they used with us in the early times, and as they still do in country
places. Village life here is preferred, just as country life is in
England, and one thing that will amuse you, with your American ideas, and
your pride in the overgrowth of our cities: the Altrurian papers solemnly
announce from time to time that the population of such or such a capital
has been reduced so many hundreds or thousands since the last census.
That means that the villages in the neighborhood have been increased in
number and population.

Meanwhile, I must say the capitals are delightful: clean, airy, quiet,
with the most beautiful architecture, mostly classic and mostly marble,
with rivers running through them and round them, and every real
convenience, but not a clutter of artificial conveniences, as with us. In
the streets there are noiseless trolleys (where they have not been
replaced by public automobiles) which the long distances of the ample
ground-plan make rather necessary, and the rivers are shot over with
swift motor-boats; for the short distances you always expect to walk, or
if you don't expect it, you walk anyway. The car-lines and boat-lines are
public, and they are free, for the Altrurians think that the community
owes transportation to every one who lives beyond easy reach of the
points which their work calls them to.

Of course the great government stores are in the capitals, and
practically there are no stores in the villages, except for what you
might call emergency supplies. But you must not imagine, Dolly, that
shopping, here, is like shopping at home--or in America, as I am learning
to say, for Altruria is home now. That is, you don't fill your purse with
bank-notes, or have things charged. You get everything you want, within
reason, and certainly everything you need, for nothing. You have only to
provide yourself with a card, something like that you have to show at the
Army and Navy Stores in London, when you first go to buy there, which
certifies that you belong to this or that working-phalanx, and that you
have not failed in the Obligatories for such and such a length of time.
If you are not entitled to this card, you had better not go shopping, for
there is no possible equivalent for it which will enable you to carry
anything away or have it sent to your house. At first I could not help
feeling rather indignant when I was asked to show my work-card in the
stores; I had usually forgotten to bring it, or sometimes I had brought
my husband's card, which would not do at all, unless I could say that I
had been ill or disabled, for a woman is expected to work quite the same
as a man. Of course her housework counts, and as we are on a sort of
public mission, they count our hours of travel as working-hours,
especially as Aristides has made it a point of good citizenship for us to
stop every now and then and join in the Obligatories when the villagers
were getting in the farm crops or quarrying stone or putting up a house.
I am never much use in quarrying or building, but I come in strong in the
hay-fields or the apple orchards or the orange groves.

The shopping here is not so enslaving as it is with us--I mean, with
you--because the fashions do not change, and you get things only when you
need them, not when you want them, or when other people think you do. The
costume was fixed long ago, when the Altrurian era began, by a commission
of artists, and it would be considered very bad form as well as bad
morals to try changing it in the least. People are allowed to choose
their own colors, but if one goes very wrong, or so far wrong as to
offend the public taste, she is gently admonished by the local art
commission. If she insists, they let her have her own way, but she seldom
wants it when she knows that people think her a fright. Of course the
costume is modified somewhat for the age and shape of the wearer, but
this is not so often as you might think. There are no very lean or very
stout people, though there are old and young, just as there are with us.
But the Altrurians keep young very much longer than capitalistic peoples
do, and the life of work keeps down their weight. You know I used to
incline a little to over-plumpness, I really believe because I overate at
times simply to keep from thinking of the poor who had to undereat, but
that is quite past now; I have lost at least twenty-five pounds from
working out-doors and travelling so much and living very, very simply.


I have to jot things down as they come into my mind, and I am afraid I
forget some of the most important. Everybody is so novel on this famous
tour of ours that I am continually interested, but one has one's
preferences even in Altruria, and I believe I like best the wives of the
artists and literary men whom one finds working in the galleries and
libraries of the capitals everywhere. They are not more intelligent than
other women, perhaps, but they are more sympathetic; and one sees so
little of those people in New York, for all they abound there.

The galleries are not only for the exhibition of pictures, but each has
numbers of ateliers, where the artists work and teach. The libraries are
the most wonderfully imagined things. You do not have to come and study
in them, but if you are working up any particular subject, the books
relating to it are sent to your dwelling every morning and brought away
every noon, so that during the obligatory hours you have them completely
at your disposition, and during the Voluntaries you can consult them with
the rest of the public in the library; it is not thought best that study
should be carried on throughout the day, and the results seem to justify
this theory. If you want to read a book merely for pleasure, you are
allowed to take it out and live with it as long as you like; the copy you
have is immediately replaced with another, so that you do not feel
hurried and are not obliged to ramp through it in a week or a fortnight.

The Altrurian books are still rather sealed books to me, but they are
delightful to the eye, all in large print on wide margins, with flexible
bindings, and such light paper that you can hold them in one hand
indefinitely without tiring. I must send you some with this, if I ever
get my bundle of letters off to you. You will see by the dates that I am
writing you one every day; I had thought of keeping a journal for you,
but then I should have had left out a good many things that happened
during our first days, when the impressions were so vivid, and I should
have got to addressing my records to myself, and I think I had better
keep to the form of letters. If they reach you, and you read them at
random, why that is very much the way I write them.

I despair of giving you any real notion of the capitals, but if you
remember the White City at the Columbian Fair at Chicago in 1893, you can
have some idea of the general effect of one; only there is nothing
heterogeneous in their beauty. There is one classic rule in the
architecture, but each of the different architects may characterize an
edifice from himself, just as different authors writing the same language
characterize it by the diction natural to him. There are suggestions of
the capitals in some of our cities, and if you remember Commonwealth
Avenue in Boston, you can imagine something like the union of street and
garden which every street of them is. The trolleys run under the
overarching trees between the lawns, flanked by gravelled footpaths
between flower-beds, and you take the cars or not as you like. As there
is no hurry, they go about as fast as English trams, and the clanger from
them is practically reduced to nothing by the crossings dipping under
them at the street corners. The centre of the capital is approached by
colonnades, which at night bear groups of great bulbous lamps, and by day
flutter with the Altrurian and Regionic flags. Around this centre are the
stores and restaurants and theatres, and galleries and libraries, with
arcades over the sidewalks, like those in Bologna; sometimes the arcades
are in two stories, as they are in Chester. People are constantly coming
and going in an easy way during the afternoon, though in the morning the
streets are rather deserted.

But what is the use? I could go on describing and describing, and never
get in half the differences from American cities, with their hideous
uproar, and their mud in the wet, and their clouds of swirling dust in
the wind. But there is one feature which I must mention, because you can
fancy it from the fond dream of a great national highway which some of
our architects projected while they were still in the fervor of
excitement from the beauty of the Peristyle, and other features of the
White City. They really have such a highway here, crossing the whole
Altrurian continent, and uniting the circle of the Regionic capitals. As
we travelled for a long time by the country roads on the beds of the old
railways, I had no idea of this magnificent avenue, till one day my
husband suddenly ran our van into the one leading up to the first capital
we were to visit. Then I found myself between miles and miles of stately
white pillars, rising and sinking as the road found its natural levels,
and growing in the perspective before us and dwindling behind us. I could
not keep out of my mind a colonnade of palm-trees, only the fronds were
lacking, and there were never palms so beautiful. Each pillar was
inscribed with the name of some Altrurian who had done something for his
country, written some beautiful poem or story, or history, made some
scientific discovery, composed an opera, invented a universal
convenience, performed a wonderful cure, or been a delightful singer, or
orator, or gardener, or farmer. Not one soldier, general or admiral,
among them! That seemed very strange to me, and I asked Aristides how
it was. Like everything else in Altruria, it was very simple; there had
been no war for so long that there were no famous soldiers to
commemorate. But he stopped our van when he came to the first of the many
arches which spanned the highway, and read out to me in English the
Altrurian record that it was erected in honor of the first President of
the Altrurian Commonwealth, who managed the negotiations when the
capitalistic oligarchies to the north and south were peacefully annexed,
and the descendants of the three nations joined in the commemoration of
an event that abolished war forever on the Altrurian continent.

Here I can imagine Mr. Makely asking who footed the bills for this beauty
and magnificence, and whether these works were constructed at the cost of
the nation, or the different Regions, or the abuttors on the different
highways. But the fact is, you poor, capitalistic dears, they cost nobody
a dollar, for there is not a dollar in Altruria. You must worry into the
idea somehow that in Altruria you cannot buy anything except by working,
and that work is the current coin of the republic: you pay for everything
by drops of sweat, and off your own brow, not somebody else's brow. The
people built these monuments and colonnades, and aqueducts and highways
and byways, and sweet villages and palatial cities with their own hands,
after the designs of artists, who also took part in the labor. But it was
a labor that they delighted in so much that they chose to perform it
during the Voluntaries, when they might have been resting, and not during
the Obligatories, when they were required to work. So it was all joy and
all glory. They say there never was such happiness in any country since
the world began. While the work went on it was like a perpetual Fourth of
July or an everlasting picnic.

But I know you hate this sort of economical stuff, Dolly, and I will make
haste to get down to business, as Mr. Makely would say, for I am really
coming to something that you will think worth while. One morning, when we
had made half the circle of the capitals, and were on the homestretch to
the one where we had left our dear mother--for Aristides claims her,
too--and I was letting that dull nether anxiety for her come to the top,
though we had had the fullest telephonic talks with her every day, and
knew she was well and happy, we came round the shoulder of a wooded cliff
and found ourselves on an open stretch of the northern coast. At first I
could only exclaim at the beauty of the sea, lying blue and still beyond
a long beach closed by another headland, and I did not realize that a
large yacht which I saw close to land had gone ashore. The beach was
crowded with Altrurians, who seemed to have come to the rescue, for they
were putting off to the yacht in boats and returning with passengers, and
jumping out, and pulling their boats with them up on to the sand.

I was quite bewildered, and I don't know what to say I was the next
thing, when I saw that the stranded yacht was flying the American flag
from her peak. I supposed she must be one of our cruisers, she was so
large, and the first thing that flashed into my mind was a kind of amused
wonder what those poor Altrurians would do with a ship-of-war and her
marines and crew. I couldn't ask any coherent questions, and luckily
Aristides was answering my incoherent ones in the best possible way by
wheeling our van down on the beach and making for the point nearest the
yacht. He had time to say he did not believe she was a government vessel,
and, in fact, I remembered that once I had seen a boat in the North River
getting up steam to go to Europe which was much larger, and had her decks
covered with sailors that I took for bluejackets; but she was only the
private yacht of some people I knew. These stupid things kept going and
coming in my mind while my husband was talking with some of the
Altrurian girls who were there helping with the men. They said that the
yacht had gone ashore the night before last in one of the sudden fogs
that come up on that coast, and that some people whom the sailors seemed
to obey were camping on the edge of the upland above the beach, under a
large tent they had brought from the yacht. They had refused to go to the
guest-house in the nearest village, and as nearly as the girls could make
out they expected the yacht to get afloat from tide to tide, and then
intended to re-embark on her. In the mean time they had provisioned
themselves from the ship, and were living in a strange way of their own.
Some of them seemed to serve the others, but these appeared to be used
with a very ungrateful indifference, as if they were of a different race.
There was one who wore a white apron and white cap who directed the
cooking for the rest, and had several assistants; and from time to time
very disagreeable odors came from the camp, like burning flesh. The
Altrurians had carried them fruits and vegetables, but the men-assistants
had refused them contemptuously and seemed suspicious of the variety of
mushrooms they offered them. They called out, "To-stoo!" and I understood
that the strangers were afraid they were bringing toad-stools. One of the
Altrurian girls had been studying English in the nearest capital, and she
had tried to talk with these people, pronouncing it in the Altrurian way,
but they could make nothing of one another; then she wrote down what she
wanted to say, but as she spelled it phonetically they were not able to
read her English. She asked us if I was the American Altrurian she had
heard of, and when I said yes she lost no time in showing us to the camp
of the castaways.

As soon as we saw their tents we went forward till we were met at
the largest by a sort of marine footman, who bowed slightly and said
to me, "What name shall I say, ma'am?" and I answered distinctly, so
that he might get the name right, "Mr. and Mrs. Homos." Then he held
back the flap of the marquee, which seemed to serve these people as a
drawing-room, and called out, standing very rigidly upright, to let us
pass, in the way that I remembered so well, "Mr. And Mrs. 'Omos!" and a
severe-looking, rather elderly lady rose to meet us with an air that was
both anxious and forbidding, and before she said anything else she burst
out, "You don't mean to say you speak English?"

I said that I spoke English, and had not spoken anything else but rather
poor French until six months before, and then she demanded, "Have you
been cast away on this outlandish place, too?"

I laughed and said I lived here, and I introduced my husband as well as I
could without knowing her name. He explained with his pretty Altrurian
accent, which you used to like so much, that we had ventured to come in
the hope of being of use to them, and added some regrets for their
misfortune so sweetly that I wondered she could help responding in kind.
But she merely said, "Oh!" and then she seemed to recollect herself, and
frowning to a very gentle-looking old man to come forward, she ignored my
husband in presenting me. "Mr. Thrall, Mrs. ----"

She hesitated for my name, and I supplied it, "Homos," and as the old man
had put out his hand in a kindly way I took it.

"And this is my husband, Aristides Homos, an Altrurian," I said, and
then, as the lady had not asked us to sit down, or shown the least sign
of liking our being there, the natural woman flamed up in me as she
hadn't in all the time I have been away from New York. "I am glad you are
so comfortable here, Mr. Thrall. You won't need us, I see. The people
about will do anything in their power for you. Come, my dear," and I was
sweeping out of that tent in a manner calculated to give the eminent
millionaire's wife a notion of Altrurian hauteur which I must own would
have been altogether mistaken.

I knew who they were perfectly. Even if I had not once met them I should
have known that they were the ultra-rich Thralls, from the multitudinous
pictures of them that I had seen in the papers at home, not long after
they came on to New York.

He was beginning, "Oh no, oh no," but I cut in. "My husband and I are on
our way to the next Regionic capital, and we are somewhat hurried. You
will be quite well looked after by the neighbors here, and I see that we
are rather in your housekeeper's way."

It _was_ nasty, Dolly, and I won't deny it; it was _vulgar_. But what
would _you_ have done? I could feel Aristides' mild eye sadly on me, and
I was sorry for him, but I assure him I was not sorry for them, till that
old man spoke again, so timidly: "It isn't my--it's my wife, Mrs. Homos.
Let me introduce her. But haven't we met before?"

"Perhaps during my first husband's lifetime. I was Mrs. Bellington

"Mrs. P. Bellington Strange? Your husband was a dear friend of mine when
we were both young--a good man, if ever there was one; the best in the
world! I am so glad to see you again. Ah--my dear, you remember my
speaking of Mrs. Strange?"

He took my hand again and held it in his soft old hands, as if hesitating
whether to transfer it to her, and my heart melted towards him. You may
think it very odd, Dolly, but it was what he said of my dear, dead
husband that softened me. It made him seem very fatherly, and I felt the
affection for him that I felt for my husband, when he seemed more like a
father. Aristides and I often talk of it, and he has no wish that I
should forget him.

Mrs. Thrall made no motion to take my hand from him, but she said, "I
think I have met Mr. Strange," and now I saw in the background, sitting
on a camp-stool near a long, lank young man stretched in a hammock, a
very handsome girl, who hastily ran through a book, and then dropped it
at the third mention of my name. I suspected that the book was the Social
Register, and that the girl's search for me had been satisfactory, for
she rose and came vaguely towards us, while the young man unfolded
himself from the hammock, and stood hesitating, but looking as if he
rather liked what had happened.

Mr. Thrall bustled about for camp-stools, and said, "Do stop and have
some breakfast with us, it's just coming in. May I introduce my daughter,
Lady Moors and--and Lord Moors?" The girl took my hand, and the young man
bowed from his place; but if that poor old man had known, peace was not
to be made so easily between two such bad-tempered women as Mrs. Thrall
and myself. We expressed some very stiff sentiments in regard to the
weather, and the prospect of the yacht getting off with the next tide,
and my husband joined in with that manly gentleness of his, but we did
not sit down, much less offer to stay to breakfast. We had got to the
door of the tent, the family following us, even to the noble son-in-law,
and as she now realized that we are actually going, Mrs. Thrall gasped
out, "But you are not _leaving_ us? What shall we _do_ with all these

This was again too much, and I flamed out at her. "_Natives_! They are
cultivated and refined people, for they are Altrurians, and I assure you
you will be in much better hands than mine with them, for I am only
Altrurian by marriage!"

She was one of those leathery egotists that nothing will make a dint in,
and she came back with, "But we don't speak the language, and they don't
speak English, and how are we to manage if the yacht doesn't get afloat?"

"Oh, no doubt you will be looked after from the capital we have just
left. But I will venture to make a little suggestion with regard to the
natives in the mean time. They are not proud, but they are very
sensitive, and if you fail in any point of consideration, they will
understand that you do not want their hospitality."

"I imagine our own people will be able to look after us," she answered
quite as nastily. "We do not propose to be dependent on them. We can pay
our way here as we do elsewhere."

"The experiment will be worth trying," I said. "Come, Aristides!" and I
took the poor fellow away with me to our van. Mr. Thrall made some
hopeless little movements towards us, but I would not stop or even look
back. When we got into the van, I made Aristides put on the full power,
and fell back into my seat and cried a while, and then I scolded him
because he would not scold me, and went on in a really scandalous way. It
must have been a revelation to him, but he only smoothed me on the
shoulder and said, "Poor Eveleth, poor Eveleth," till I thought I should
scream; but it ended in my falling on his neck, and saying I knew I was
horrid, and what did he want me to do?

After I calmed down into something like rationality, he said he thought
we had perhaps done the best thing we could for those people in leaving
them to themselves, for they could come to no possible harm among the
neighbors. He did not believe from what he had seen of the yacht from the
shore, and from what the Altrurians had told him, that there was one
chance in a thousand of her ever getting afloat. But those people would
have to convince themselves of the fact, and of several other facts in
their situation. I asked him what he meant, and he said he could tell me,
but that as yet it was a public affair, and he would rather not
anticipate the private interest I would feel in it. I did not insist; in
fact, I wanted to get that odious woman out of my mind as soon as I
could, for the thought of her threatened to poison the pleasure of the
rest of our tour.

I believe my husband hurried it a little, though he did not shorten it,
and we got back to the Maritime Region almost a week sooner than we had
first intended. I found my dear mother well, and still serenely happy in
her Altrurian surroundings. She had begun to learn the language, and she
had a larger acquaintance in the capital, I believe, than any other one
person. She said everybody had called on her, and they were the kindest
people she had ever dreamed of. She had exchanged cooking-lessons with
one lady who, they told her, was a distinguished scientist, and she had
taught another, who was a great painter, a peculiar embroidery stitch
which she had learned from my grandmother, and which everybody admired.
These two ladies had given her most of her grammatical instruction in
Altrurian, but there was a bright little girl who had enlarged her
vocabulary more than either, in helping her about her housework, the
mother having lent her for the purpose. My mother said she was not
ashamed to make blunders before a child, and the little witch had taken
the greatest delight in telling her the names of things in the house and
the streets and the fields outside the town, where they went long walks


Well, my dear Dorothea, I had been hoping to go more into detail about my
mother and about our life in the Maritime Capital, which is to be our
home for a year, but I had hardly got down the last words when Aristides
came in with a despatch from the Seventh Regionic, summoning us there on
important public business: I haven't got over the feeling yet of being
especially distinguished and flattered at sharing in public business; but
the Altrurian women are so used to it that they do not think anything of
it. The despatch was signed by an old friend of my husband's, Cyril
Chrysostom, who had once been Emissary in England, and to whom my husband
wrote his letters when he was in America. I hated to leave my mother so
soon, but it could not be helped, and we took the first electric express
for the Seventh Regionic, where we arrived in about an hour and forty
minutes, making the three hundred miles in that time easily. I couldn't
help regretting our comfortable van, but there was evidently haste in the
summons, and I confess that I was curious to know what the matter was,
though I had made a shrewd guess the first instant, and it turned out
that I was not mistaken.

The long and the short of it was that there was trouble with the people
who had come ashore in that yacht, and were destined never to go to sea
in her. She was hopelessly bedded in the sand, and the waves that were
breaking over her were burying her deeper and deeper. The owners were
living in their tent as we had left them, and her crew were camped in
smaller tents and any shelter they could get, along the beach. They had
brought her stores away, but many of the provisions had been damaged, and
it had become a pressing question what should be done about the people.
We had been asked to consult with Cyril and his wife, and the other
Regionic chiefs and their wives, and we threshed the question out nearly
the whole night.

I am afraid it will appear rather comical in some aspects to you and Mr.
Makely, but I can assure you that it was a very serious matter with the
Altrurian authorities. If there had been any hope of a vessel from the
capitalistic world touching at Altruria within a definite time, they
could have managed, for they would have gladly kept the yacht's people
and owners till they could embark them for Australia or New Zealand, and
would have made as little of the trouble they were giving as they could.
But until the trader that brought us should return with the crew, as the
captain had promised, there was no ship expected, and any other wreck in
the mean time would only add to their difficulty. You may be surprised,
though I was not, that the difficulty was mostly with the yacht-owners,
and above all with Mrs. Thrall, who had baffled every effort of the
authorities to reduce what they considered the disorder of their life.

With the crew it was a different matter. As soon as they had got drunk on
the wines and spirits they had brought from the wreck, and then had got
sober because they had drunk all the liquors up, they began to be more
manageable; when their provisions ran short, and they were made to
understand that they would not be allowed to plunder the fields and
woods, or loot the villages for something to eat, they became almost
exemplarily docile. At first they were disposed to show fight, and
the principles of the Altrurians did not allow them to use violence in
bringing them to subjection; but the men had counted without their hosts
in supposing that they could therefore do as they pleased, unless they
pleased to do right. After they had made their first foray they were
warned by Cyril, who came from the capital to speak English with them,
that another raid would not be suffered. They therefore attempted it
by night, but the Altrurians were prepared for them with the flexible
steel nets which are their only means of defence, and half a dozen
sailors were taken in one. When they attempted to break out, and their
shipmates attempted to break in to free them, a light current of
electricity was sent through the wires and the thing was done. Those
who were rescued--the Altrurians will not say captured--had hoes put into
their hands the next morning, and were led into the fields and set to
work, after a generous breakfast of coffee, bread, and mushrooms. The
chickens they had killed in their midnight expedition were buried, and
those which they had not killed lost no time in beginning to lay eggs for
the sustenance of the reformed castaways. As an extra precaution with the
"rescued," when they were put to work, each of them with a kind of shirt
of mail, worn over his coat, which could easily be electrized by a
metallic filament connecting with the communal dynamo, and under these
conditions they each did a full day's work during the Obligatories.

As the short commons grew shorter and shorter, both meat and drink, at
Camp Famine, and the campers found it was useless to attempt thieving
from the Altrurians, they had tried begging from the owners in their
large tent, but they were told that the provisions were giving out there,
too, and there was nothing for them. When they insisted the servants of
the owners had threatened them with revolvers, and the sailors, who had
nothing but their knives, preferred to attempt living on the country.
Within a week the whole crew had been put to work in the woods and fields
and quarries, or wherever they could make themselves useful. They were,
on the whole, so well fed and sheltered that they were perfectly
satisfied, and went down with the Altrurians on the beach during the
Voluntaries and helped secure the yacht's boats and pieces of wreckage
that came ashore. Until they became accustomed or resigned to the
Altrurian diet, they were allowed to catch shell-fish and the crabs that
swarmed along the sand and cook them, but on condition that they built
their fires on the beach, and cooked only during an offshore wind, so
that the fumes of the roasting should not offend the villagers.

Cyril acknowledged, therefore, that the question of the crew was for the
present practically settled, but Mr. and Mrs. Thrall, and their daughter
and son-in-law, with their servants, still presented a formidable
problem. As yet, their provisions had not run out, and they were living
in their marquee as we had seen them three weeks earlier, just after
their yacht went ashore. It could not be said that they were molestive in
the same sense as the sailors, but they were even more demoralizing in
the spectacle they offered the neighborhood of people dependent on hired
service, and in their endeavors to supply themselves in perishable
provisions, like milk and eggs, by means of money. Cyril had held several
interviews with them, in which he had at first delicately intimated, and
then explicitly declared, that the situation could not be prolonged.
The two men had been able to get the Altrurian point of view in some
measure, and so had Lady Moors, but Mrs. Thrall had remained stiffly
obtuse and obstinate, and it was in despair of bringing her to terms
without resorting to rescue that he had summoned us to help him.

It was not a pleasant job, but of course we could not refuse, and we
agreed that as soon as we had caught a nap, and had a bite of breakfast
we would go over to their camp with Cyril and his wife, and see what we
could do with the obnoxious woman. I confess that I had some little
consolation in the hope that I should see her properly humbled.


Mr. Thrall and Lord Moors must have seen us coming, for they met us at
the door of the tent without the intervention of the footman, and gave us
quite as much welcome as we could expect in our mission, so disagreeable
all round. Mr. Thrall was as fatherly with me as before, and Lord Moors
was as polite to Cyril and Mrs. Chrysostom as could have been wished. In
fact he and Cyril were a sort of acquaintances from the time of Cyril's
visit to England where he met the late Earl Moors, the father of the
present peer, in some of his visits to Toynbee Hall, and the Whitechapel
Settlements. The earl was very much interested in the slums, perhaps
because he was rather poor himself, if not quite slummy. The son was then
at the university, and when he came out and into his title he so far
shared his father's tastes that he came to America; it was not slumming,
exactly, but a nobleman no doubt feels it to be something like it. After
a little while in New York he went out to Colorado, where so many needy
noblemen bring up, and there he met the Thralls, and fell in love with
the girl. Cyril had understood--or rather Mrs. Cyril,--that it was a
love-match on both sides, but on Mrs. Thrall's side it was business. He
did not even speak of settlements--the English are so romantic when they
_are_ romantic!--but Mr. Thrall saw to all that, and the young people
were married after a very short courtship. They spent their honeymoon
partly in Colorado Springs and partly in San Francisco, where the
Thralls' yacht was lying, and then they set out on a voyage round the
world, making stops at the interesting places, and bringing up on the
beach of the Seventh Region of Altruria, on route for the eastern coast
of South America. From that time on, Cyril said, we knew their history.

After Mr. Thrall had shaken hands tenderly with me, and cordially with
Aristides, he said, "Won't you all come inside and have breakfast with
us? My wife and daughter"--

"Thank you, Mr. Thrall," Cyril answered for us, "we will sit down here,
if you please; and as your ladies are not used to business, we will not
ask you to disturb them."

"I'm sure Lady Moors," the young nobleman began, but Cyril waved him

"We shall be glad later, but not now! Gentlemen, I have asked my friends
Aristides Homos and Eveleth Homos to accompany my wife and me this
morning because Eveleth is an American, and will understand your
position, and he has lately been in America and will be able to clarify
the situation from both sides. We wish you to believe that we are
approaching you in the friendliest spirit, and that nothing could be more
painful to us than to seem inhospitable."

"Then why," the old man asked, with business-like promptness, "do you
object to our presence here? I don't believe I get your idea."

"Because the spectacle which your life offers is contrary to good morals,
and as faithful citizens we cannot countenance it."

"But in what way is our life immoral? I have always thought that I was a
good citizen at home; at least I can't remember having been arrested for
disorderly conduct."

He smiled at me, as if I should appreciate the joke, and it hurt me to
keep grave, but suspecting what a bad time he was going to have, I
thought I had better not join him in any levity.

"I quite conceive you," Cyril replied. "But you present to our people,
who are offended by it, the spectacle of dependence upon hireling service
for your daily comfort and convenience."

"But, my dear sir," Mr. Thrall returned, "don't we _pay_ for it? Do our
servants object to rendering us this service?"

"That has nothing to do with the case; or, rather, it makes it worse. The
fact that your servants do not object shows how completely they are
depraved by usage. We should not object if they served you from
affection, and if you repaid them in kindness; but the fact that you
think you have made them a due return by giving them money shows how far
from the right ideal in such a matter the whole capitalistic world is."

Here, to my great delight, Aristides spoke up:

"If the American practice were half as depraving as it ought logically to
be in their conditions, their social system would drop to pieces. It was
always astonishing to me that a people with their facilities for evil,
their difficulties for good, should remain so kind and just and pure."

"That is what I understood from your letters to me, my dear Aristides. I
am willing to leave the general argument for the present. But I should
like to ask Mr. Thrall a question, and I hope it won't be offensive."

Mr. Thrall smiled. "At any rate I promise not to be offended."

"You are a very rich man?"

"Much richer than I would like to be."

"How rich?"

"Seventy millions; eighty; a hundred; three hundred; I don't just know."

"I don't suppose you've always felt your great wealth a great blessing?"

"A blessing? There have been times when I felt it a millstone hanged
about my neck, and could have wished nothing so much as that I were
thrown into the sea. Man, you don't _know_ what a curse I have felt my
money to be at such times. When I have given it away, as I have by
millions at a time, I have never been sure that I was not doing more harm
than good with it. I have hired men to seek out good objects for me, and
I have tried my best to find for myself causes and institutions and
persons who might be helped without hindering others as worthy, but
sometimes it seems as if every dollar of my money carried a blight with
it, and infected whoever touched it with a moral pestilence. It has
reached a sum where the wildest profligate couldn't spend it, and it
grows and grows. It's as if it were a rising flood that had touched my
lips, and would go over my head before I could reach the shore. I believe
I got it honestly, and I have tried to share it with those whose labor
earned it for me. I have founded schools and hospitals and homes for
old men and old women, and asylums for children, and the blind, and deaf,
and dumb, and halt, and mad. Wherever I have found one of my old workmen
in need, and I have looked personally into the matter, I have provided
for him fully, short of pauperization. Where I have heard of some gifted
youth, I have had him educated in the line of his gift. I have collected
a gallery of works of art, and opened it on Sundays as well as week-days
to the public free. If there is a story of famine, far or near, I send
food by the shipload. If there is any great public calamity, my agents
have instructions to come to the rescue without referring the case to me.
But it is all useless! The money grows and grows, and I begin to feel
that my efforts to employ it wisely and wholesomely are making me a
public laughing-stock as well as an easy mark for every swindler with a
job or a scheme." He turned abruptly to me. "But you must often have
heard the same from my old friend Strange. We used to talk these things
over together, when our money was not the heap that mine is now; and it
seems to me I can hear his voice saying the very words I have been

I, too, seemed to hear his voice in the words, and it was as if speaking
from his grave.

I looked at Aristides, and read compassion in his dear face; but the face
of Cyril remained severe and judicial. He said: "Then, if what you say is
true, you cannot think it a hardship if we remove your burden for the
time you remain with us. I have consulted with the National and Regional
as well as the Communal authorities, and we cannot let you continue to
live in the manner you are living here. You must pay your way."

"I shall be only too glad to do that," Mr. Thrall returned, more
cheerfully. "We have not a great deal of cash in hand, but I can give you
my check on London or Paris or New York."

"In Altruria," Cyril returned, "we have no use for money. You must _pay_
your way as soon as your present provision from your yacht is exhausted."

Mr. Thrall turned a dazed look on the young lord, who suggested: "I don't
think we follow you. How can Mr. Thrall pay his way except with money?"

"He must pay with _work_. As soon as you come upon the neighbors here for
the necessities of life you must all work. To-morrow or the next day or
next week at the furthest you must go to work, or you must starve."

Then he came out with that text of Scripture which had been so efficient
with the crew of the _Little Sally_: "For even when we were with you this
we commanded you, that if any would not work neither should he eat."

Lord Moors seemed very interested, and not so much surprised as I had
expected. "Yes, I have often thought of that passage and of its
susceptibility to a simpler interpretation than we usually give it.

"There is but one interpretation of which it is susceptible," Cyril
interrupted. "The apostle gives that interpretation when he prefaces the
text with the words, 'For yourselves know how you ought to follow us; for
we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you. Neither did we eat any
man's bread for nought; but _wrought with travail_ night and day, that we
might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but
to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.' The whole economy
of Altruria is founded on these passages."



"But, my dear sir," the young lord reasoned, "you surely do not wrench
the text from some such meaning as that if a man has money, he may pay
his way without working?"

"No, certainly not. But here you have no money, and as we cannot suffer
any to 'walk among us disorderly, working not at all,' we must not exempt
you from our rule."


At this point there came a sound from within the marquee as of skirts
sweeping forward sharply, imperiously, followed by a softer _frou-frou_,
and Mrs. Thrall put aside the curtain of the tent with one hand, and
stood challenging our little Altrurian group, while Lady Moors peered
timidly at us from over her mother's shoulder. I felt a lust of battle
rising in me at sight of that woman, and it was as much as I could do to
control myself; but in view of the bad time I knew she was going to have,
I managed to hold in, though I joined very scantly in the polite
greetings of the Chrysostoms and Aristides, which she ignored as if they
had been the salutations of savages. She glared at her husband for
explanation, and he said, gently, "This is a delegation from the
Altrurian capital, my dear, and we have been talking over the situation

"But what is this," she demanded, "that I have heard about our not
paying? Do they accuse us of not paying? You could buy and sell the whole

I never imagined so much mildness could be put into such offensive words
as Cyril managed to get into his answer. "We accuse you of not paying,
and we do not mean that you shall become chargeable to us. The men and
women who served you on shipboard have been put to work, and you must go
to work, too."

"Mr. Thrall--Lord Moors--have you allowed these people to treat you as if
you were part of the ship's crew? Why don't you give them what they want
and let them go? Of course it's some sort of blackmailing scheme. But you
ought to get rid of them at any cost. Then you can appeal to the
authorities, and tell them that you will bring the matter to the notice
of the government at Washington. They must be taught that they cannot
insult American citizens with impunity." No one spoke, and she added,
"What do they really want?"

"Well, my dear," her husband hesitated, "I hardly know how to explain.
But it seems that they think our living here in the way we do is
orderly, and--and they want us to go to work, in short."

"To _work!_" she shouted.

"Yes, all of us. That is, so I understand."

"What nonsense!"

She looked at us one after another, and when her eye rested on me, I
began to suspect that insolent as she was she was even duller; in fact,
that she was so sodden in her conceit of wealth that she was plain
stupid. So when she said to me, "You are an American by birth, I believe.
Can you tell me the meaning of this?" I answered:

"Cyril Chrysostom represents the authorities. If _he_ asks me to speak, I
will speak." Cyril nodded at me with a smile, and I went on. "It is a
very simple matter. In Altruria everybody works with his hands three
hours a day. After that he works or not, as he likes."

"What have we to do with that?" she asked.

"The rule has no exceptions."

"But we are not Altrurians; we are Americans."

"I am an American, too, and I work three hours every day, unless I am
passing from one point to another on public business with my husband.
Even then we prefer to stop during the work-hours, and help in the
fields, or in the shops, or wherever we are needed. I left my own mother
at home doing her kitchen work yesterday afternoon, though it was out of
hours, and she need not have worked."

"Very well, then, we will do nothing of the kind, neither I, nor my
daughter, nor my husband. He has worked hard all his life, and he has
come away for a much-needed rest. I am not going to have him breaking
himself down."

I could not help suggesting, "I suppose the men at work in his mines, and
mills, and on his railroads and steamship lines are taking a much-needed
rest, too. I hope you are not going to let them break themselves down,

Aristides gave me a pained glance, and Cyril and his wife looked grave,
but she not quite so grave as he. Lord Moors said, "We don't seem to be
getting on. What Mrs. Thrall fails to see, and I confess I don't quite
see it myself, is that if we are not here _in forma pauperis_--"

"But you _are_ here _in forma pauperis_," Cyril interposed, smilingly.

"How is that? If we are willing to pay--if Mr. Thrall's credit is
undeniably good--"

"Mr. Thrall's credit is not good in Altruria; you can pay here only in
one currency, in the sweat of your faces."

"You want us to be Tolstoys, I suppose," Mrs. Thrall said,

Cyril replied, gently, "The endeavor of Tolstoy, in capitalistic
conditions, is necessarily dramatic. Your labor here will be for your
daily bread, and it will be real." The inner dullness of the woman came
into her eyes again, and he addressed himself to Lord Moors in
continuing: "If a company of indigent people were cast away on an English
coast, after you had rendered them the first aid, what should you do?"

The young man reflected. "I suppose we should put them in the way of
earning a living until some ship arrived to take them home."

"That is merely what we propose to do in your case here," Cyril said.

"But we are not indigent--"

"Yes, you are absolutely destitute. You have money and credit, but
neither has any value in Altruria. Nothing but work or love has any value
in Altruria. You cannot realize too clearly that you stand before us _in
forma pauperis_. But we require of you nothing that we do not require of
ourselves. In Altruria every one is poor till he pays with work; then,
for that time, he is rich; and he cannot otherwise lift himself above
charity, which, except in the case of the helpless, we consider immoral.
Your life here offers a very corrupting spectacle. You are manifestly
living without work, and you are served by people whose hire you are not
able to pay."

"My dear sir," Mr. Thrall said at this point, with a gentle smile, "I
think they are willing to take the chances of being paid."

"We cannot suffer them to do so. At present we know of no means of your
getting away from Altruria. We have disused our custom of annually
connecting with the Australasian steamers, and it may be years before a
vessel touches on our coast. A ship sailed for Boston some months ago,
with the promise of returning in order that the crew may cast in their
lot with us permanently. We do not confide in that promise, and you must
therefore conform to our rule of life. Understand clearly that the
willingness of your servants to serve you has nothing to do with the
matter. That is part of the falsity in which the whole capitalistic world
lives. As the matter stands with you, here, there is as much reason why
you should serve them as they should serve you. If on their side they
should elect to serve you from love, they will be allowed to do so.
Otherwise, you and they must go to work with the neighbors at the tasks
they will assign you."

"Do you mean at once?" Lord Moors asked.

"The hours of the obligatory labors are nearly past for the day. But if
you are interested in learning what you will be set to doing to-morrow,
the Communal authorities will be pleased to instruct you during the
Voluntaries this afternoon. You may be sure that in no case will your
weakness or inexperience be overtasked. Your histories will be studied,
and appropriate work will be assigned to each of you."

Mrs. Thrall burst out, "If you think I am going into my kitchen--"

Then I burst in, "I left my mother in _her_ kitchen!"

"And a very fit place for her, I dare say," she retorted, but Lady Moors
caught her mother's arm and murmured, in much the same distress as showed
in my husband's mild eyes, "Mother! Mother!" and drew her within.


Well, Dolly, I suppose you will think it was pretty hard for those
people, and when I got over my temper I confess that I felt sorry for the
two men, and for the young girl whom the Altrurians would not call Lady
Moors, but addressed by her Christian name, as they did each of the
American party in his or her turn; even Mrs. Thrall had to answer to
Rebecca. They were all rather bewildered, and so were the butler and
the footmen, and the _chef_ and his helpers, and the ladies' maids.
These were even more shocked than those they considered their betters,
and I quite took to my affections Lord Moors' man Robert, who was in an
awe-stricken way trying to get some light from me on the situation. He
contributed as much as any one to bring about a peaceful submission to
the inevitable, for he had been a near witness of what had happened to
the crew when they attempted their rebellion to the authorities; but he
did not profess to understand the matter, and from time to time he seemed
to question the reality of it.

The two masters, as you would call Mr. Thrall and Lord Moors, both took
an attitude of amiable curiosity towards their fate, and accepted it with
interest when they had partly chosen and partly been chosen by it. Mr.
Thrall had been brought up on a farm till his ambition carried him into
the world; and he found the light gardening assigned him for his first
task by no means a hardship. He was rather critical of the Altrurian
style of hoe at first, but after he got the hang of it, as he said, he
liked it better, and during the three hours of the first morning's
Obligatoires, his ardor to cut all the weeds out at once had to be
restrained rather than prompted. He could not be persuaded to take five
minutes for rest out of every twenty, and he could not get over his
life-long habit of working against time. The Altrurians tried to make
him understand that here people must not work _against_ time, but must
always work _with_ it, so as to have enough work to do each day;
otherwise they must remain idle during the Obligatoires and tend to
demoralize the workers. It seemed that Lady Moors had a passion for
gardening, and she was set to work with her father on the border of
flowers surrounding the vegetable patch he was hoeing. She knew about
flowers, and from her childhood had amused herself by growing them, and
so far from thinking it a hardship or disgrace to dig, she was delighted
to get at them. It was easy to see that she and her father were cronies,
and when I went round in the morning with Aristides to ask if we could do
anything for them, we heard them laughing and talking gayly together
before we reached them. They said they had looked their job (as Mr.
Thrall called it) over the afternoon before during the Voluntaries, and
had decided how they would manage, and they had set to work that morning
as soon as they had breakfast. Lady Moors had helped her mother get the
breakfast, and she seemed to regard the whole affair as a picnic, though
from the look of Mrs. Thrall's back, as she turned it on me, when I saw
her coming to the door of the marquee with a coffee-pot in her hand, I
decided that she was not yet resigned to her new lot in life.

Lord Moors was nowhere to be seen, and I felt some little curiosity about
him which was not quite anxiety. Later, as we were going back to our
quarters in the village, we saw him working on the road with a party
of Altrurians who were repairing a washout from an overnight rain. They
were having all kinds of a time, except a bad time, trying to understand
each other in their want of a common language. It appeared that the
Altrurians were impressed with his knowledge of road-making, and were
doing something which he had indicated to them by signs. We offered
our services as interpreters, and then he modestly owned in defence of
his suggestions that when he was at Oxford he had been one of the band of
enthusiastic undergraduates who had built a piece of highway under Mr.
Ruskin's direction. The Altrurians regarded his suggestions as rather
amateurish, but they were glad to act upon them, when they could, out of
pure good feeling and liking for him; and from time to time they rushed
upon him and shook hands with him; their affection did not go further,
and he was able to stand the handshaking, though he told us he hoped they
would not feel it necessary to keep it up, for it was really only a very
simple matter like putting a culvert in place of a sluice which they had
been using to carry the water off. They understood what he was saying,
from his gestures, and they crowded round us to ask whether he would like
to join them during the Voluntaries that afternoon, in getting the stone
out of a neighboring quarry, and putting in the culvert at once. We
explained to him, and he said he should be very happy. All the time he
was looking at them admirably, and he said, "It's really very good," and
we understood that he meant their classic working-dress, and when he
added, "I should really fancy trying it myself one day," and we told them
they wanted to go and bring him an Altrurian costume at once. But we
persuaded them not to urge him, and in fact he looked very fit for his
work in his yachting flannels.

I talked him over a long time with Aristides, and tried to get his point
of view. I decided finally that an Englishman of his ancient lineage and
high breeding, having voluntarily come down to the level of an American
millionaire by marriage, could not feel that he was lowering himself any
further by working with his hands. In fact, he probably felt that his
merely undertaking a thing dignified the thing; but of course this was
only speculation on my part, and he may have been resigned to working for
a living because like poor people elsewhere he was obliged to do it.
Aristides thought there was a good deal in that idea, but it is hard for
an Altrurian to conceive of being ashamed of work, for they regard
idleness as pauperism, and they would look upon our leisure classes, so
far as we have them, very much as we look upon tramps, only they would
make the excuse for our tramps that they often cannot get work.

We had far more trouble with the servants than we had with the masters in
making them understand that they were to go to work in the fields and
shops, quite as the crew of the yacht had done. Some of them refused
outright, and stuck to their refusal until the village electrician
rescued them with the sort of net and electric filament which had been
employed with the recalcitrant sailors; others were brought to a better
mind by withholding food from them till they were willing to pay for it
by working. You will be sorry to learn, Dolly, that the worst of the
rebels were the ladies' maids, who, for the honor of our sex, ought not
to have required the application of the net and filament; but they had
not such appetites as the men-servants, and did not mind starving so
much. However, in a very short time they were at work, too, and more or
less resigned, though they did not profess to understand it.

You will think me rather fickle, I am afraid, but after I made the
personal acquaintance of Mr. Thrall's _chef,_ Anatole, I found my
affections dividing themselves between him and his lordship's man Robert,
my first love. But Anatole was magnificent, a gaunt, little, aquiline
man, with a branching mustache and gallant goatee, and having held an
exalted position at a salary of ten thousand a year from Mr. Thrall, he
could easily stoop from it, while poor Robert was tormented with
misgivings, not for himself, but for Lord and Lady Moors and Mr. Thrall.
It became my pleasing office to explain the situation to Monsieur
Anatole, who, when he imagined it, gave a cry of joy, and confessed, what
he had never liked to tell Mr. Thrall, knowing the misconceptions of
Americans on the subject, that he had belonged in France to a party of
which the political and social ideal was almost identical with that
of the Altrurians. He asked for an early opportunity of addressing the
village Assembly and explaining this delightful circumstance in public,
and he profited by the occasion to embrace the first Altrurian we met and
kiss him on both cheeks.

His victim was a messenger from the Commune, who had been sent to inquire
whether Anatole had a preference as to the employment which should be
assigned to him, and I had to reply for him that he was a man of science;
that he would be happy to serve the republic in whatever capacity his
concitizens chose, but that he thought he could be most useful in
studying the comestible vegetation of the neighborhood, and the
substitution of the more succulent herbs for the flesh-meats to the use
of which, he understood from me, the Altrurians were opposed. In the
course of his preparation for the role of _chef_, which he had played
both in France and America, he had made a specialty of edible fungi;
and the result was that Anatole was set to mushrooming, and up to this
moment he has discovered no less than six species hitherto unknown to the
Altrurian table. This has added to their dietary in several important
particulars, the fungi he has discovered being among those highly
decorative and extremely poisonous-looking sorts which flourish in the
deep woods and offer themselves almost inexhaustibly in places near the
ruins of the old capitalistic cities, where hardly any other foods will
grow. Anatole is very proud of his success, and at more than one Communal
Assembly has lectured upon his discoveries and treated of their
preparation for the table, with sketches of them as he found them
growing, colored after nature by his own hand. He has himself become a
fanatical vegetarian, having, he confesses, always had a secret loathing
for the meats he stooped to direct the cooking of among the French and
American bourgeoisie in the days which he already looks back upon as
among the most benighted of his history.

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